Clifton C. Carter
Clifton Crawford Carter was born in Bryan, Texas, in 1918. He first became involved in politics in 1937 when he was a volunteer worker in the Lyndon B. Johnson election campaign. According to the historian, Alfred Steinberg (Sam Johnson's Boy), Carter was used to smear political rivals such as Ralph Yarborough.
During the Second World War Carter joined the 36th Infantry Division and served under Captain Edward Clark. While in France he won the Croix de Guerre, the Bronze Star and the Legion of Merit. He also received a letter of commendation from General Dwight Eisenhower.
After the war Carter managed a 7-Up bottling plant. However, he continued to be close to Lyndon B. Johnson and ran his 1948 campaign to win a seat in the Senate. His main opponent in the Democratic primary (Texas was virtually a one party state and the most important elections were those that decided who would be the Democratic Party candidate) was Coke Stevenson. Johnson was criticized by Stevenson for supporting the Taft-Hartley Act. The American Federation of Labor was also angry with Johnson for supporting this legislation and at its June convention the AFL broke a 54 year tradition of neutrality and endorsed Stevenson.
Lyndon B. Johnson asked Tommy Corcoran to work behind the scenes at convincing union leaders that he was more pro-labor than Stevenson. This he did and on 11th August, 1948, Corcoran told Harold Ickes that he had "a terrible time straightening out labor" in the Johnson campaign but he believed he had sorted the problem out.
On 2nd September, unofficial results had Stevenson winning by 362 votes. However, by the time the results became official, Johnson was declared the winner by 17 votes. Stevenson immediately claimed that he was a victim of election fraud. On 24th September, Judge T. Whitfield Davidson, invalidated the results of the election and set a trial date.
A meeting was held that was attended by Tommy Corcoran, Francis Biddle, Abe Fortas, Joe Rauh, Jim Rowe and Ben Cohen. It was decided to take the case directly to the Supreme Court. A motion was drafted and sent to Justice Hugo Black. On 28th September, Justice Black issued an order that put Johnson's name back on the ballot. Later, it was claimed by Rauh that Black made the decision following a meeting with Corcoran.
(1) Clifton Carter, statement (20th May, 1964)
The automobile in which I rode was driven by a Dallas policeman. I sat in the middle of the front seat and held some radio equipment on my lap. Special Agent Jerry D. Kivett sat on my right and Special Agent Len Johns and someone else were in the rear seat. This was an unmarked Dallas police car.
Nothing unusual occurred on the motorcade route from Love Field to the downtown Dallas area. The crowds were very large and very friendly, except for two or three signs which contained derogatory comments about President Kennedy. I would estimate that the crowds were twice as big as they were in September of 1960 when Mr. Kennedy campaigned in Dallas. The motorcade slowed down at times, but I do not believe that it stopped.
The motorcade proceeded west on Main Street, made a righthand turn onto Houston and then swung around to the left on Elm, proceeding slowly at about 5 to 10 miles per hour. At approximately 12:30 p.m., our car had just made the lefthand turn off Houston onto Elm Street and was right along side of the Texas School Book Depository Building when I heard a noise which sounded like a firecracker. Special Agent Youngblood, who was seated on the righthand side of the front seat of Vice President Johnson's car immediately turned and pushed Vice President Johnson down and in the same motion vaulted over the seat and covered the Vice President with his body. At that instant Mrs. Johnson and Senator Yarborough, who were riding in the back seat along with the Vice President, bent forward. Special Agent Youngblood's action came immediately after the first shot and before the succeeding shots.
I distinctly remember three shots. There was an interval of approximately 5 to 6 seconds from the first to the last shot, and the three shots were evenly spaced. The motorcade promptly accelerated and traveled at high speeds up to 75 to 80 miles an hour to Parkland Memorial Hospital. The President's automobile, the President's follow-up car, the Vice President's automobile, and the Vice President's follow-up car pulled into the emergency entrance at Parkland. Attendants from the hospital with two stretchers carried President Kennedy and Governor Connally into the hospital. At one point I briefly helped remove Governor Connally from the car onto the stretcher. After President Kennedy and Governor Connally had been taken into the hospital, Vice President Johnson, Mrs. Johnson, Special Agent Youngblood and I entered the emergency area and were taken to a small room where we waited. I went out on a couple of occasions to secure coffee. Congressmen Henry Gonzalez, Jack Brooks, Homer Thornberry and Albert Thomas ca me into the room where Vice President Johnson waited. About 1 o'clock Mrs. Johnson left the room, stating that she wanted to visit with Mrs. Kennedy and Mrs. Connally.
At 1:12 p.m. Special Agent Emery Roberts brought the news that President Kennedy was dead. At that moment the only people present were Vice President Johnson, Congressman Thornberry, Special Agent Len Johns, and I. Special Agent Roberts advised Vice President Johnson to return to the White House forthwith because of the concern of the Secret Service that there might be a widespread plot to assassinate Vice President Johnson as well as President Kennedy.
Vice President Johnson then asked that Kenny (O'Donnell) and Larry (O'Brien) be consulted to determine what their views were on returning promptly to Washington. Kenny and Larry came down and told Vice President Johnson that they agreed he should return to Washington immediately. Vice President Johnson then asked me to try to alert some of the members of his staff to go to the airport for the return trip to Washington. I then proceeded to look for those members of the staff, and I was later driven to Love Field by a young Dallas policeman. By the time I returned to the Presidential plane (AF-1), Vice President and Mrs. Johnson had already boarded the plane and arrangements had already been made to have Vice President Johnson sworn-in as the President. I do not have any personal knowledge of Vice President Johnson's conversation with Attorney General Kennedy concerning the advisability of a prompt swearing-in or of the arrangements to have Judge Sara Hughes participate in that ceremony. I was present at the swearing-in and shortly thereafter the President's plane took off for the Washington area.
The original conversations concerning President Kennedy's trip to Texas occurred on June 5, 1963 at the Cortez Hotel in El Paso, Texas. President Kennedy had spoken earlier that day at the Air Force Academy and Vice President Johnson had spoken at Annapolis. The President and Vice President met with Governor Connally at the Cortez Hotel to discuss a number of matters, including a trip by the President to Texas. Fred Korth and I were present when the three men assembled, but Fred Korth and I left during their discussion of the President's proposed trip. The first tentative date was to have the trip coincide with Vice-President Johnson's birthday on August 27th, but that was rejected because it was too close to Labor Day. President Kennedy's other commitments prevented him from coming to Texas any sooner than November 21st, which was the date finally set.
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