Item SR11133_T02S1 - Oral history interview with Monroe Sweetland [Sound Recording 03]

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Oral history interview with Monroe Sweetland [Sound Recording 03]


  • 2003-08-18 (Creation)


Audiocassette; 00:01:21

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Monroe Mark Sweetland was born in Salem, Oregon, in 1910. His family moved to Michigan in about 1915, and he spent the bulk of his childhood. He began his involvement with the Democratic Party when he was just 10 years old by clandestinely organizing a party meeting. He entered Wittenberg University in Ohio at age 16, then attended Cornell University and Syracuse Law School in New York. He met Lillie Megrath while attending Syracuse Law School and they were married in 1933. He returned to Oregon in 1935 and subsequently worked with the Commonwealth Federation, promoted progressive politics, and was instrumental in the rise of the Democratic Party to political power in the state. He also owned several newspapers in Oregon, including the Molalla Pioneer, the Newport News, and the Milwaukie Review. He represented Clackamas County in the Oregon House of Representatives 1953, and served in the Oregon Senate from 1955 to 1962. After leaving the Legislature, he moved to California and lobbied for the National Educaton Association. After retiring from politics, he began a business selling dried floral arrangements, called Western Wilderness Products. He returned to Oregon after his wife, Lillie, died in 1985, and he ran unsuccessfully for the Oregon Senate again in 1994. He died in 2006.

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Tape 2, Side 1. This oral history interview with Monroe Sweetland was conducted by John Moltman at Sweetland's home in Milwaukie, Oregon. The recording of Moltman's interview with Sweetland is incomplete. According to the audio, the interview was conducted in multiple sessions; this recording includes only one session, which was conducted on August 18, 2003. No other recordings from the interview were among those donated to the Oregon Historical Research Library in 2007. In this interview, Sweetland discusses his involvement with the Student League for Industrial Democracy during the Depression and his parents' disapproval. He talks about meeting Lil Megrath and their subsequent marriage. He describes organizing Student L.I.D. conferences and establishing chapters across the country. He talks about advocating for civil rights and the opposition he faced, particularly in the South. He also talks about socialism and how it differs from communism, as well as the growing socialist movement among students and labor during the 1930s. He discusses his involvement with the Socialist Party, including his friendship with Socialist Party leader Norman Thomas, and the socialist underpinnings of the New Deal. He gives a brief history of the evolution of the Democratic and Republican parties over the 20th century, and of progressive political movements. He shares anecdotes about his activities with the Student L.I.D., including participating in sit-down strikes and being arrested.

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Copyright for this interview is held by the Oregon Historical Society. Licensed under BY-NC-SA:

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  • English

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1.9 MiB


May 15, 2020 3:38 PM

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