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The Journal and Personal Letters of Barry Goldwater

Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) wrote in 1953, "It is difficult for me to believe that a young man from Arizona, should suddenly be placed with 95 other men in the position of making decisions that will mean peace or war, or prosperity or depression, and decisions that affect the lives of people, not only in this country but in the entire world."
/ Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) wrote in 1953, "It is difficult for me to believe that a young man from Arizona, should suddenly be placed with 95 other men in the position of making decisions that will mean peace or war, or prosperity or depression, and decisions that affect the lives of people, not only in this country but in the entire world."
Sen. Barry Goldwater poses with his family for a promotional portrait during his campaign for President. Circa 1964.
R. Gates / Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Sen. Barry Goldwater poses with his family for a promotional portrait during his campaign for President. Circa 1964.
Republican presidential hopeful Barry Goldwater speaks at a campaign rally at New York's Madison Square Garden in October, 1964.
Republican presidential hopeful Barry Goldwater speaks at a campaign rally at New York's Madison Square Garden in October, 1964.

June 12, 1984 — On The Senate As Cookie Factory

The following exchange took place on the Senate floor concerning whether to adjourn at 9 P.M. or continue to vote on proposed amendments to the military authorization bill, then pending. Senator Goldwater, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was clearly "pissed" but the Senate Rules precluded him from saying so, yet he managed to convey his message.

Sen. Goldwater: Mr. President, if this Senator may make an observation, we are not going to finish this by July 4. And when you talk about staying late, I can remember when we stayed all night. I had three amendments ready to offer.

Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr., [Republican of Tennessee, and the majority leader]: If the Senator will yield . . .

Sen. Goldwater: I have not finished. I will finish in just a short order because I am a little bit you know what.

Sen. Baker: I am ready and waiting for the Senator to finish.

Sen. Goldwater: We sit around here day after day and never do a doggone thing. If we want to get this bill passed, we ought to get down to work. It is only 9 P.M. Everyone of us can miss whatever we had planned for tonight. I do not know why people think we have to quit so early. I have been here since 7 o'clock this morning. This place is getting to be like a cookie factory.

Sen. Baker: Mr. President, I do not know whose cookie factory the Senator is talking about.

Sen. Goldwater: Yours.

January 1953 — On Becoming A Member Of the U.S. Senate

I can truthfully say that these few days had constituted a period of the greatest physical and mental disturbance I have gone through in my lifetime. It is exceedingly difficult for me to describe the sudden realization of the extreme responsibilities that rest upon the shoulders of a Senator. It is difficult for me to believe that a young man from Arizona, should suddenly be placed with ninety-five other men in the position of making decisions that will mean peace or war, or prosperity or depression, and decisions that affect the lives of people, not only in this country but in the entire world. That I feel wholly inadequate would be putting it in a very small way.

I feel as one standing at the foot of a giant mountain, wanting to reach the summit, but looking at the long, hard climb ahead with trepidation and with the knowledge that much more knowledge must be obtained before my steps become easy.

The great comfort that I have experienced in the embarkation on this voyage has been the fact that Peggy has been with me and that I have met so many men in the Senate who, after all, are just regular fellows ... men like the men I have grown up with, who believe primarily in the future of America and in peace and freedom, men who have assumed these responsibilities and retain their regularness, their ability to be just people when in private and away from the public eye.

These men, with their friendly attitude and their helpful suggestions, have paved the way with kindliness and friendship, and have made these few days between the swearing in ceremony and the real beginning of work a more pleasurable few days than they would have been had I been cast here alone and without the solace of their help and the comfort of the love of my wife.

I hope I can keep these recordings up, and I hope they can be transcribed for my children to read, but I am afraid that, like the diaries I have started they will peter out. The ink will run out, the voice will run out, the desire might even run out after a while, but we'll start it and we'll see what happens. It will be interesting to look back on, read, and see how my mind changes and my concept of things changes during the coming six years.

March 24, 1960 — The Strange Detour of Richard Nixon

In this journal entry, the Senator focuses on Nixon, whom he had previously believed to be as conservative as himself. Goldwater initially thinks that Nixon's political "detour" from conservative principles can be explained by his run for the presidency in 1960, but soon Goldwater is not sure if Nixon is truly a conservative, or even an honest politician.

I just can't reach back through a year and a half of campaigning and select a place and engagement where it first came up, but at some time during those nearly two hundred speeches with their questions and answers rose a deep concern about Nixon and his philosophies. It would have served history much better had I kept an account of the birth of this concern and its tenacity in clinging to the minds of my audiences and its now very obvious growth, but as has been the case in other such attempts during my public life, this effort would have also died a wanting for attention. This, then, is but a brief resume of a development which troubles me, for it can well mean our losing the Presidency and the Congress in 1960. It might be called, "The Strange Detour of Richard Nixon."

I probably should have sensed the possibility of this change in a man's prior adherence to conservative principles when in September of 1959, on a Saturday prior to my departure on a vacation, in speaking before a group in Chicago, I related a conversation I had experienced with Dick a few weeks earlier. Just after he returned from his visit to Moscow, we were meeting informally in his Capitol office when I broached the subject of Khrushchev's coming to our country.* He told me that he had learned of the invitation by radio when returning to the United States. As I recall, he indicated that Dulles had always been against such a visit and that he, Dick, was surprised and (either "shocked" or "disappointed," I cannot vouch for which) at the decision.

The morning after I made that speech, Nixon's staff reached me at [my father-in-law] Ray Johnson's apartment and asked what I had said. I repeated my words and was told that I should not have related that conversation. Vacation was only two hours away, so I told him to get off whatever hook he felt himself to be on the best way he could; I was going fishing. Long distance calls followed me all over Mexico City, calls which I refused to accept because I knew them to be from newsmen in the United States asking my version of the story.

Now that I look back on that incident, it marks the first time that I ever had a question raised in my own mind as to Nixon's adherence to conservative principles. In fact, questions to Nixon's very honesty. But as I said, I was tired and wanted that vacation, so it has only been lately that memory has suggested that about that time the "Strange Detour" began. Since then, with increasing tempo, and I might add gusto, people have been asking me where he stands: Is he conservative? Or another "me-tooer?" Is he another Republican to whom the principles of our party are not valid or is he one who is willing to risk defeat on principles we espouse ? The Senator continues, citing other instances which caused him to doubt Nixon's support of conservative principles.

Since that time Nixon has been fuzzy on his position relative to federal aid to education. He is at the moment reported to favor federal aid in the medical fields. He has been associated with Democrats as advisors and on the whole his statements and actions have been such that the question, "Where Stands Nixon?" comes at me in a constant barrage. On this particular trip which I started and included Palm Beach, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Francisco and has included a total of nine appearances before audiences ranging from twenty five to two thousand, and in character from college students to retired people. "Where stands Nixon?" has been the leading and most often repeated question. . . .

[In short,] Dick is in trouble. Yesterday, at the state convention of Republicans at Columbia, [South Carolina], the first concrete demonstration of this conclusion is more than an observation of mine.

On Saturday, the 26th of March, I made the keynote address and received good applause when it was finished, and returned to my room to gather a few thing prior to departing for a day's rest at Yeman's Hall, near Charleston. Within a few minutes Gregg Shorrey and Roger Miliken came to the room and informed that the convention had by acclamation given me the votes of their thirteen delegates for President at the National Convention. To say that I was surprised would not be entirely true, for I had been queried as to my reaction to this action some months ago. But I never dreamed they would or could go through with it. I will not try to comment on my reactions at having received my first delegation support, nor would I ever be so bold as to imagine they will be anything but my first and last. Time will be the moderator of this episode in my life. The observation that should be made here, however, that this is to me the first concrete evidence that what I have been attempting to relate actually exists, namely, Dick's actions at the moment are proving to be a subject of dissatisfaction with the conservatives of our party. The actions of a southern group of Republicans are more of an expression of this, I am sure, than an expression of a desire for me. If this is repeated in other states, then the effect may well be to cause Nixon to alter his course to such an extent that conservatives can "buy" him, and that his detour would end with the resumption of the journey down the right road.

* * *

September 1, 1938 — "Me, Barry Goldwater"

Though known as a staunchly independent and no-nonsense conservative, Barry Goldwater also was an involved family man. His journals and correspondences reflect a Goldwater that was not in the public eye: a father and husband.

Barry Goldwater has just had his second child, and first son, Barry Jr., when he sat at his typewriter to make his first journal entry, under the above title. [Note: This is from Barry Jr.'s files.]

I am twenty nine years of age. Half way between twenty nine and thirty to be exact and at this particular moment I am possessed of a notion that has not been unfamiliar to me in the past. It is the god damned fool notion that from time to time I should sit myself down to some real serious recording of my feelings, thoughts and actions at different periods of my life. Why I can't say exactly, except that maybe someday my son might read this, or these series of blighted jottings of mine, and in a measure profit by my experience. To establish this reason as one of better judgment I might say here that my father died when I was about twenty and his leaving me meant that I must face a world of business without his wise counsel. Having gone thru many years since his death without that word of his that would have meant what a hand is to

a drowning man I can safely say that I am not the least bit irrational when I hope that in the event of my not being here when my son or sons reach the age I was when he left me, that these papers will in some safe fashion guide them.

He continues this (1500 word entry) talking about the most valuable lesson his father taught him that "that all men were and are created equal." He continued:

My father gave me this out look on life. His ever ready smile and cheery hello, his absolute regard for the other fellow even at a loss of advantage for himself, his being ever ready to help a friend and even search a friend in need, his understanding of the human race, and his invaluable ability to estimate a true friend formed the nucleus for a training that I can say that I think I have in a way [absorbed]. I say this without a feeling of braggadocio for I hope that this one trait of mine will be my sons. In fact, I can say that this is the one statement that I will make now that in the years to come I will not have to retract. I love my fellow man be he white or black or yellow and I am vitally interested in his well being, for that well being is my well being. To lose sight of this is to lose that inestimable pleasure that comes from walking down the street knowing that the man you meet likes you or at least knows well of you. I say again that it is not conceit that prompts this remark but pride in one's association with one's fellow man.

May 4, 1961 — Living In His Father's Shadow

This advice from father to son was in a letter from the Senator to his son Barry Jr., who was in his senior year of college at the University of Colorado.

Dear Barry,

The easiest way to write you a letter would be to dictate one, but I much prefer writing you myself even if the typing proves to be of the worst order. Also I wish that time had allowed me the opportunity to have written you long before this but I have been busier than a one armed paper hanger with the itch what with speeches up and down the East Coast and my work here in the Senate.

First I want to recall something you said in our last conversation at home. You said that living in my shadow was not easy. It is never easy to live in the shadow of any successful man and I should know for I had to do it with a father and an uncle [Morris], and if I have been successful myself, it has been because of the drive I have always felt to stay ahead. Don't fear this situation, rather make the determination to do a better job than I have and that will be easy compared to what I faced. There are a multitude of weaknesses in my get-up that you need not copy, and one of them has been a trend to a manãna spirit, or putting off till tomorrow that which you should do today. I think that is now one of your problems, but you can whip it, and I might say you must because competition today is too swift and too strong to enjoy this leisure any more. For example, you know that to get the things in life you obviously want you will have to work for them, but you seem to be chasing after will-of-the-wisps, that you feel will bring things you want without work. I might say that this is not a new philosophy of the Goldwaters. It has been the one that has brought us the worst trouble.

Now take this idea you outlined to your mother re cattle. If you aren't a cattle man, stay the hell out of it. There has been more money lost by people who think that all you have to do to make money on a cow is to fatten it than has been lost in a crooked crap game multiplied by millions. Ask Uncle Bob. There are only a handful of people in the state who have enriched themselves in the cattle markets. Now if you had a barrel of money, and wanted to take a gamble on cows, that's OK but do you have it. My Dad always told me that no one should ever gamble who could not afford to lose, and experience has proven him right. In other words if the thought of a possible loss bothers you, don't get into it. This thinking would apply also to your interest in land in the Sedona area. If you want to cash in the stocks that you have which are good stocks and which will return you handsome dividends over the years then cash them in but be sure you realize that you are getting into something that may turn out well and on the other had may not.

My advice to you, for what ever it may be worth, would be to think ahead NOW to what you want to do with your life, then set a time positive that you will commence the doing. After you have decided the course you wish to follow, then outline the preparation you feel you will need for it and we will provide that. You MUST not back off from decisions now or ever. You must make them even when some will be mistakes, but you can never be strong by being weak.

In all of this never forget that I am by you and behind you and that I will stand that way throughout life. It is a pleasure sir, and an honor, to be your father, and I look forward to the years ahead as we tackle some things together, and other things separately, always the in the knowledge that our individual peculiar assets are always available to the other to cover our individual weakness.

September 22, 1984 — On Fifty Years Of Love And Marriage

The Senator prepared lengthy remarks for the occasion of his 50th wedding anniversary.

Fifty 50 years ago today Peggy became my bride and I'm sure you'll all agree — that in your heart you know I was right. I have to admit that I was the one who did the chasing. I made more promises than Walter Mondale.

Even in those days, I believed that extremism in the pursuit of giving up my liberty was no vice.

Before we go any further, Peggy has asked me to make it very clear that while we've been married for 50 years — when we got married she was a child-bride. And I go along with that because I found that on this issue, it's a lot better to be a conservative than to have a conscience.

As most of you know, I have a tendency to speak my own mind — sometimes in no uncertain terms — but Peggy has always been an ever-present moderating influence. A lot of people are aware that I've had some troubles with my hip in recent years — but my hip problem wasn't caused by any of the reasons you may have read about. I still think it was caused by fifty years of Peggy kicking me under the table and saying, "Barry, that's enough."

Peggy's real challenge is going to come in 1987, after I've retired from the Senate. I'm sure that every woman in this audience knows the classic definition of retirement: It's when you have half as much income — and twice as much husband.

You see, in those days, when I ran the store, you won't believe this, but I used to show up in striped trousers, a black coat, sometimes a cutaway, with a stiff white collar, tie and even, at times, a red carnation. You see, storekeeping in those days was a source of great pride and that's something I had in my business. In fact, I still have great pride in the fact that I was once what we laughingly called a "rag peddler."

Well, my interest in the young lady from Indiana grew and grew and I soon found myself in love but I didn't sense any reciprocal feeling on her part. This went on for over two and a half years, and finally one New Year's Eve, when I was visiting her in Muncie, Indiana, I got her in a telephone booth and I said, "Now look, Peggy (I had grown intimate by that time — I called her Peggy), I'm running out of money and I'm running out of patience. Either you are going to marry me or not and I want to know right now." Well, she said yes.

Excerpted from Pure Goldwater by John W. Dean and Barry M. Goldwater, Jr. by permission of the publisher.

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