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Howard E. Shuman: Legislative and Administrative Assistant to Senator Paul Douglas


"In the Pacific, the Japanese were after my body. Here in the Senate people are after my soul."

Interviewed by Senate Historian Donald Ritchie, Howard Shuman explains Senator Paul Douglas’ willingness to utilize the filibuster despite his determination to restrict its powers in the Senate.


RITCHIE: One other question I wanted to ask about Senator Douglas and the filibuster issue: having fought so consistently to reduce the powers of the filibuster, did he feel constrained against filibustering himself?

SHUMAN: No, he did not, and he had a very good rule about it, because we saved the "one man one vote" decision of the Supreme Court from Dirksen overturning it, by filibustering it. His position was that he was not for unilateral disarmament, either with the Russians or in the Senate. And it was a form of warfare in the Senate. Although Mr. Douglas was wounded twice in the Pacific, he used to say that civic courage was often a higher order than battlefield courage. "In the Pacific," he would say, "the Japanese were after my body. Here in the Senate people are after my soul." He believed that as long as the filibuster was the rule of the Senate, he had every right to use it, as did every other senator. When his proposal for three weeks of debate, after which a majority vote could end debate was adopted, then he would abide by the rule. But he was not going to have one set of rules for his side and another set for the other side, essentially out of self-restraint. And I think that's fundamentally correct. He didn't filibuster a lot, but he was involved in some, yes. And I helped him.