Interview with Burke Marshall
QUESTION 30
INTERVIEWER:

WHAT ABOUT THE NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN THE ADMINISTRATION AND GOVERNOR BARNETT? THE TELEPHONE CONVERSATIONS THAT YOU KNOW ARE PUBLIC RECORD N0W. THEY'RE AT THE KENNEDY LIBRARY. COULD YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU WERE TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH AND WHAT BARNETT'S GOALS SEEM TO BE. WHETHER HE UNDERSTOOD HOW INTRANSIGENT [BARNETT] WAS GOING TO BE.

Burke Marshall:

Uh, Governor Barnett was intransigent and he was also stupid. He had a narrow political vision. He wanted it to happen. He knew that Meredith was going to the University of Mississippi. He just didn't want it to be his fault. So that if you could give him a way of acting like a governor and performing a governor's duty and at the same time say, I couldn't help it, then Governor Barnett's political, very narrow , short range, stupid political values and political goals would have been achieved. What we were trying to do in those negotiations which may read silly conversations because they- with a silly man was to try to give him an out of that sort, give him an out of that sort and and, it almost, it almost, almost worked and the trouble is that Governor Barnett didn't have the confidence of anybody. He didn't have the confidence of the students, he didn't have control of the police force, or if he did have control of the police force, he didn't exercise the control of the police force, he pulled the state police out at a critical moment and during the riot and so in the end we did what we were always determined to do when necessary which was to use federal, physical force.