Alben Barkley's final words before he was struck down by a heart attack summed up his long, eventful life: "I have served my country and my people for half a century as a Democrat. I went to the House of Representatives in 1913 and served fourteen years. I was a junior Congressman, then I became a senior Congressman, then I went to the Senate and became a junior Senator, and then I became a senior Senator; and then a Majority Leader in the Senate, and then Vice President of the United States, and now I am back again as a junior Senator. And I am willing to be a junior. I'm glad to sit in the back row, for I would rather be a servant in the house of the Lord than sit in the seats of the mighty."
Dear Alben: Mr. Barkley of Kentucky traces Kentucky civil servant Alben Barkley's life from humble beginnings in rural Kentucky to the seats of power in the nation's capital. Barkley is revealed as a Wilsonian liberal before he became an apostle of the New Deal. His support of these Democratic programs was the result not so much of party loyalty as of a social conscience that had been honed during the impoverished years of his youth. James K. Libbey brings into clear focus the role of a forceful Kentuckian in national politics in two eras of rapid change and reform.
About the Author
James K. Libbey is associate professor and academic counselor for social studies at Eastern Kentucky University.