New Mexican named Secretary of Agriculture in 1945

By Don McAlvy: Columnist

Clinton P. Anderson was born in South Dakota in 1895. I’m not sure when he came to New Mexico, although he served as state treasurer of New Mexico in 1932-33. He was elected to Congress for three terms. In 1945 President Truman appointed Clinton P. as secretary of agriculture for the whole United States, even New Mexico.

Back in 1946 a man known only as Rattlesnake Robert told this story about Clinton P. Anderson:

“Clinton P. wasn’t foaled in New Mexico, but neither was Kit Carson, but both were mule riders. Kit rode a little ol’ saddle mule all the way out to Californy, and Clinton P. rode a donkey all the way into Congress and the cabinet of these United States.

“Texicans claim that Clinton P. stopped overnight in Texas on his way from Dakoty to become a New Mexican, and that the lungful of magic Texas wind he inhaled on that occasion accounts for his present vim and vigor. Of course that was just another leaky bucket that won’t hold water. In the first place, Clinton P. runs a heap more to brains than lung power, and in the second, by latest reports, Texas has still got all her wind.

“But to get back to New Mexico, as most everybody always does who has ever been here. Cattle and cowboys, sheep and sheep-herders, like politics, we produce in plenty. Not to mention oil, coal, copper, big game, and atomic bombs.

“Our population is about equally divided between Spanish Americans, non-Spanish or Anglo-Americans and jack-rabbits. The main difference between these three groups is that quite a few of the jack-rabbits don’t vote.

“High, dry, cool, and sunny, New Mexico’s climate is famous as one of the greatest spizzerinktum producers in the world. Our scenery is as Hoot Owl Hank says, ‘Magoo-ficent.’

“A heap of our citizens, like Clinton P., came from other states. A good many came here sick and got well. Others, in the old days, are said to have whipped a bang-tailed pony over the line from Texas only a few jumps ahead of the sheriff. But that’s all right. We manage to get along all right together, and I’ve got it down in my tally book that maybe one of the reasons we do is that New Mexico, first, last, and always, is cowboy country.

“The cowboy provides most every range he rides on with a few mighty good principles to live by: personal responsibility, personal liberty, neighborliness, and a ready grin. For a man that never walks if he can help it, he also done purty well about keeping his feet on the ground, just like Clinton P.

“Well, of course ol’ Clinton P. is a Democrat,” he admits, “An’ he’s got kinder wavy hair, but I figger he’ll do to put in with, because he sounds to me like a man that believes in keeping the forked end down.”