Interview with Edward Breathitt

  • Identifier1977 OH 016
  • Date3/15/1977
  • InterviewerEllis, William E.
  • IntervieweeBreathitt, Edward
  • DescriptionMr. Edward Breathitt is a native Kentucky born in 1924. He served as a member of Kentucky House of Representatives from 1952-58 and as Personnel Commissioner from 1959-60. He then served on the Kentucky Public Service Commission from 1961-62. Mr. Breathitt then served as Governor of Kentucky from 1963-67. He has since served as Vice-President of the Southern Railway.
  • LocationWashington, D.C.
  • Time Summary0-6 Introduction
    17-30 First recollections of Martin, Martin's candidacy for and election to Superintendent of Public Instruction, Martin's support of a sales tax for education
    31-37 Martin's candidacy for Superintendent of Public Instruction
    38-43 Should office of Superintendent of Public instruction be appointive?
    43-54 Comparison of Martin with other Superintendents of Public Instruction; Martin's political qualities
    54-63 Martin's involvement in development and implementation of Minimum Foundation Program
    63-74 Relationship with Chandler concerning education in Kentucky
    75-121 Reaction to Martin's involvement in Combs campaign of 1959; initiation of Combs gubernatorial organization of 1959 race
    122-161 Importance of school vote as a political base in Kentucky; tax structure in Kentucky; underfinanced education system in Kentucky; political, taxpayer resentment after funding; Combs-Ford gubernatorial race in 1971 evidence of anti-educational feeling
    161-191 Martin's effectiveness as a political campaign manager, relationship with Clements; political tactics of the campaign
    191-209 Martin's further political ambitions- limited to presidency of Eastern; service as Commissioner of Finance; passage of sales tax, Martin's role
    210-233 Relationship with Martin-Breathitt: Commissioner of Personnel, Martin: Commissioner of Finance
    233-246 Martin's service as Commissioner of Finance; how experience and knowledge gained there aided him as President of Eastern
    247-257 Martin's role in enactment of sales tax
    258-275 Martin's role in truck controversy
    276-284 Those who knew that Martin desired to become president of Eastern
    300 Intimate relationship between politics and education in Kentucky; necessity for political expertise for any measure of success
    300-327 Growing power of Council on Public Higher Education (CPHE) may reduce institutional competition; Education creativity of Martin; law enforcement program
    328-363 Reaction of others to Martin's election as President of Eastern; necessity of political awareness on part of university presidents
    363-384 Relationship with Martin from 1960-1963; contacts with Martin prior to Breathitt's gubernatorial campaign in 1963
    384-426 Strong competition between state educational institutions; competition intensified between 1964 and 1966 as available revenue declined
    426-502 Telephone interruption
    503-530 Competition between regional universities and UK
    531-581 Martin's role in helping regional institutions achieve university status; attitude of UK; Breathitt's reasons for supporting university status for institutions; role to be played by CPHE
    581-605 Contributions of EKU to state and region; continued efforts by Martin in improving quality of university's services
    606-628 Reasons for realigning membership of CPHE
    629-645 Competition between higher education and public education; Gubernatorial primary race between Ford and Combs
    645-676 Martin's role in integration of public education
    677-695 Martin's expertise in fiscal management
    695-727 Impressions of Eastern in mid-sixties
    727-772 Governor's role in appointment of regents; relationship with Martin in selection of regents
    773-817 Relationship with Martin while Breathitt was Governor
    817 End of reel 1
    7-32 Breathitt's relationship with other university presidents; Doran, Thompson, Woods, Oswald
    33-60 Martin's relationship with other Kentucky governors; Combs, Johnson, Chandler, Waterfield, Clements, Nunn, Ford
    60-71 Martin's relationship with the press
    71-83 Martin's political philosophy; progressive, committed to public education
    84-102 Characterization of Martin's personality
    102-130 Assessment of Martin's strengths and weaknesses as an educational administrator
    130-140 Martin's main contribution to Kentucky education: saw the need for a strongly suppored comprehensive educational system in Kentucky; innovative policies that he introduced
    140-147 Breathitt's reaction to Martin's candidacy for state senate
    147-159 Final comments
  • Restrictionsno
  • RightsContact Special Collections and Archives, Crabbe Library, Eastern Kentucky University for reproductions, rights and permission to publish.


“Interview with Edward Breathitt,” William H. Berge Oral History Center, accessed February 3, 2023,