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Twentieth Century Radicalism in Minnesota Oral History Project: Interview with Orville L. Freeman
BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Orville L. Freeman was born in 1918 in Minneapolis. He attended the university of Minnesota and graduated with a law degree in 1947, after serving overseas in the Marine Corps in the Second World War. Upon his return he became Mayor Hubert Humphrey's advisor on veterans' affairs, and was a founder of the American Veterans Committee. Because of his friendship with Humphrey, Mr. Freeman quickly was drawn into the new Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. In 1946 he was elected state secretary of the party, and two years later became its chair. In both positions he was key to organizing against the Communist Party members who were influential in the party, and eventually driving them out. Mr. Freeman devoted a good portion of his energy to organizing and building the party. In 1950 he ran unsuccessfully for attorney general, and in 1952 he ran unsuccessfully for governor. Two years later, however, he was elected to the first of three terms as governor of the state. Defeated in his re-election bid in 1960, he was appointed U.S. Secretary of Agriculture by President John F. Kennedy, and stayed in that position until 1969. As Secretary of Agriculture, he presided over the Food for Peace program and set U.S. farm policy for nearly a decade. With the election of Richard M. Nixon in 1968, Mr. Freeman went into the private sector, where he worked for EDP Technology International in Washington, D.C. He retired back to Minneapolis, where he was living at the time of the interview. Mr. Freeman was married to Jane Shields, and the couple had two children. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party convention of 1946. Meetings of the DFL state executive committee, 1946-48. Election of William Kubicek as chairman of the Young DFL, 1947. DFL state convention of 1948. Struggles between Communists and anti-Communists in the American Veterans Committee. Presidential campaign of Henry Wallace, 1943. Recollections of James Shields. Building the DFL party structure, late 1940s and early 1950s. Relations between the DFL and organized labor, early 1950s. Impressions of Robert Wishart. Impressions of John A. Blatnik. Assessment of Steven Harrington's role in the DFL. Gubernatorial nomination and campaigns of 1950, 1952, and 1954. Memories of Hubert Humphrey. Impressions of Miles Lord. Freeman's three terms as governor: taxes; public welfare programs; reorganizing the state administrative structure; attacks from Republican legislators. Gubernatorial and presidential campaigns of 1960: anti-Catholic bias in Minnesota. Freeman's program as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Strike of packinghouse workers in Albert Lea, 1959. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: There are two other interviews with Mr. Freeman in the Voices of the Governors series in the Minnesota Historical Society's collections. They cover much of the same ground. Mr. Freeman speaks rapidly and his voice drops significantly in some places, making him difficult to understand. The microphone was not placed well, either.
2 hours sound cassette
36 pages transcript
Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
01:22:51 running time
Interviewee: Freeman, Orville L.
Interviewer: Berman, Hyman
Interviewer: Ross, Carl
Made in: Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States
|Holding Type||Oral History - Interview|
OH 30 (Library Call Number)
AV1990.228.20 (Accession Number)
MHS Library Catalog
Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Twentieth Century Radicalism in Minnesota Oral History Project'