Interview with Gov. John Patterson
QUESTION 39
INTERVIEWER:

WHY DON'T YOU JUST START WITH WHEN PRESIDENT KENNEDY CALLED YOU. WHY YOU DIDN'T TAKE THE CALL.

Gov. John Patterson:

When President Kennedy called me during this time, and I didn't take the call, and it was a very bad mistake on my part. And I'm very sorry I didn't do it and in retrospect if I had to do it over again, I'd take the call. What I was concerned because I figured he would ask me can you guarantee the safety of these people, can you guarantee that nothing is going to happen to them. And that had been a pretty hard thing to do because they wouldn't obey what we wanted them to do. They wouldn't go where we said go, or they wouldn't stay put. And if I'd have said no I can't, he'd have said the governor of Alabama has admitted to me he can't maintain order in his own state, and he'd have sent the federal troops in here, which would have been a terrible thing for us. On the other hand if I'd have said well, Yes I can guarantee it, then I probably could not have lived up to it, possibly, or he, would then say that the governor has capitulated and has agreed to go along with what these people are trying to do down here to test the Alabama laws, and so politically that would have been a very bad thing for me to do there, see. So I was put in that dilemma, and I had already thought this out, and I figured I might get this call and I didn't take it. And it was a mistake, and if I had it to do over again, I'd most certainly take it.

[unintelligible]

FILM PRODUCTION TEAM:

(THIS IS FILM ROLL 390, SOUND ROLL 1340, THIS IS FILM ROLL 1390, SOUND TAKE 10, GOV. JOHN PATTERSON.)