El Paso Herald-Post/June 13, 1962
NEW YORK.—I feel a temptation to sentimental extravagance in thinking of John M. Garner. His honesty and his patriotism, not merely to our geographical country but to our beautiful old ideals, are a treasure which few of us comprehend. Few of us have been able to visit the Kremlin, but I think of it as a mausoleum where the soul of Russia awaits resurrection, a shrine of something impalpable, spiritual and unspeakably potent. We have nothing that may be compared with it. I have felt a similar emotion in St. Peter’s and in St. Paul’s in London.
It seems ludicrous to hint that I would sense a spiritual vibration in thinking of this frail, very untidy, lovely old man in the little town of Uvalde, Texas, but he personifies virtues we recklessly repudiated with the advent of Roosevelt. Garner was manly.
Vice President Garner was so modest that he failed to establish in the public mind the contrast between a good American and a frivolous, avaricious adventurer with a counterfeit “background” of aristocracy.
Bascom Timmons performed a public service with a book published in 1948 called “Garner of Texas: A Personal History.” It did not sell very well. The book claque in New York has more praise for dirty things.
But I find comfort in Timmons’ life of John Garner, like an old woman fingering her Bible. Garner’s son, Tully, walked into his father’s office the day after Garner voted for Woodrow Wilson’s war and said, “I aim to go, Dad.” The old man said, “Hell, you are going! I would not vote to send other boys to war if I hadn’t known I was sending my own. And one more thing. Your mother and I will want to hear from you, but promise me you’ll never ask me a favor. I might be in a position to get it and I don’t want to be exposed to temptation.”
Garner almost fought Roosevelt on recognition of Russia. The country was against recognition, but Roosevelt and his cult wanted recognition.
Gamer said: “If this outfit has kept its word to anyone or done anything in good faith, I have not heard about it. My considered judgment is that the United States will gain nothing and lose a lot.”
In 1931, President Hoover called Garner hurriedly from Uvalde. For the first time Garner travelled by air and when he stepped from the plane in Washington he pulled from his coat pocket a slip of paper which Mrs. Garner had put there. She had written: “The Lord watches over you and keeps you in perfect safety. His spirit is guiding, protecting and inspiring you in all your ways.”
Notwithstanding Garner’s counsel Roosevelt “personally” did recognize Russia on Garner’s 65th birthday, Nov. 22, 1933. That was our death warrant, but you will find exultation in the morning papers of the next day by men and women who are still influential among us in Washington and New York.
Garner said: “It’s all through. The dishes wiped. I hope it turns out better than I think it will. This outfit wants to pull down our Government.”
Garner often walked out of Cabinet meetings because Roosevelt prattled “500 words for every one that he listens to.” He thought Henry Wallace had “crazy” ideas, but that Henry Morgenthau had none at all and was “the most servile man I have ever seen, and I mean servile, not loyal.”
The Garners lived in three rooms in the Washington Hotel, a converted office building, and took most of their meals in the coffee shop. He was richer than Roosevelt, even then.
Both his wife and his son were carried on his official payroll until he became Vice President.
But, Timmons writes, “when a radio sponsor offered him $100,000 a year, he said. ‘I am not worth it as John Garner and any value I have attained as Vice President is not for sale.”
He rode the street cars until he became speaker of the House.
They rarely accepted an invitation to dinner.
He had $100,000 to invest in 1933 and stocks were very low. He knew how he could double or treble the money, but he bought land and Timmons said that in 1918 Garner had made $200,000 or $300,000 thereby.