V. The Political Files, 1934-1978, 20 linear feetThe Political Files series consist of approximately 10 linear feet of correspondence and printed material primarily centering on the activities of Congressman Poage in the 11th District from 1936-1978. Also prominently featured are political matters on the national, state, and local level, as well as within the Democratic Party. Filing procedures within Poage's office established two sections of the Political Files: Correspondence Files and Reference Files .
Correspondence Files are not as limited as their designation would suggest. Ballot box filings, expense accounts, and advertising accounts all appear in the Correspondence Files. Reference Files include list of supporters and contributors, news clippings on political rivals and allies, and other categories of materials also present within the Correspondence Files. Both file groups are arranged chronologically.
Files dated from 1936-1938 detail Poage's early years in Congress and his political efforts in the elections of 1936 and 1938. Correspondence during these years illustrate Poage's efforts to assemble a loyal political following through patronage and to gain political intelligence information through correspondence with numerous local observers throughout the district. Prominent events discussed include the attempted political come-back of O. H. Cross-- who had been congressman before Poage-- and the activities and impact of the New Deal in the 11th District.
Items dated from the early 1940s reveal Congressman Poage's work on behalf of his district with the onset of World War II. Topics of correspondence include preparations for war within the district, the attempt to attract war production to the district, as well as constituent attitudes toward the war during the days of U.S. neutrality. Also evident from these files are the beginnings of Poage's emerging long-term friendships with such future congressional power players as Lyndon B. Johnson and George Mahon. State political developments also receive great attention in these files. Most interesting of these is the 1941 special election to fill the senate seat of the deceased Morris Sheppard. In this election Poage was a supporter of his congressional friend Lyndon Johnson against then Texas governor W. Lee O'Daniel and Congressman Martin Dies, Jr.
The late 1940s brought a changing political landscape within the Democratic Party with the rise of the anti-Truman "Dixiecrat" movement. Many Texas congressmen, Poage among them, wrestled with their roles in and positions toward this essentially southern movement. Like most Texas congressmen, however, Poage threw his support behind the national party and this political conflict on the national level is well documented in the Political Files. Interestingly enough, on the state level, little mention is given the controversial 1948 U. S. Senate election between Lyndon Johnson and then Governor Coke Stevenson.
Politics in the 1950s changed dramatically in Texas with the carrying of the state by Dwight Eisenhower in the 1952 and 1956 elections. Poage, remaining loyal to his party, worked to counter efforts of Texans for Eisenhower, led by then Governor Allan Shivers. Poage also advised Democratic presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson in both campaigns on methods to overcome opposition within Texas, including changing his position on the Tidelands question. Also evident in the 1950s files is a growing gap-- if not in opinion, certainly in methods-- between Poage and other southern Democrats on such issues as Civil Rights, desegregation, Communism, and the Tidelands.
1960s political turbulence comes through clearly in the materials from this decade in the Political Files. Poage, involved extensively in L.B.J.'s 1960 campaign for the presidency, is mentioned prominently as a contender to become John F. Kennedy's Secretary of Agriculture, though he is never nominated. During the 1960s, Poage becomes the chairman of the Agriculture Committee, greatly adding to his national visibility and political power. This change is reflected in the increasing number of items of a national nature within the Political Files. Letters within the files include responses to Poage's published remarks condemning Senator Robert Kennedy's 1968 presidential effort and supporting the actions of Chicago police at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.
1970s files focus on such events as the demise of the Nixon presidency, the addition of new counties to the district, and Poage's only serious election challenge in 1976. Political opponents such as Lane Denton and Jack Burgess, as well as up and coming Democratic politicians such as Dan Kubiak and Marvin Leath. Finally, Poage's retirement plans begin to take shape from 1974-1978, with the congressman keeping files on potential successors and the 1978 campaign which determined that successor.