Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection


Don Nicoll

Document Type

Oral History

Publication Date


Interview Number

MOH 346


Berl Bernhard was born in New York, New York on September 7, 1929 to Morris and Celia (Nadele) Bernhard. Berl lived in New Jersey, then attended Dartmouth College, graduating in 1951 and Yale Law School, graduating in 1954. His law career began in Washington as a law clerk to Luther Youngdahl. In the late 1950s he took a position on the Civil Rights Commission, and was appointed staff director by John Kennedy in 1961. In 1963 he returned to private practice, and became counsel to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee in 1965. He became involved with Senator Muskie's 1968 vice presidential campaign as a result of his DSCC work, and then went on to work for Senator Muskie's 1972 presidential campaign as national campaign manager accompanying the Senator on his trips to Israel and the Soviet Union. From 1980 to 1981 he served as senior advisor to Ed Muskie when he became Secretary of State.

Scope and Content Note

Interview includes discussions of: family history; law school; clerking for Luther Youngdahl; Owen Lattimore case; discussions with Supreme Court justices; private practice; U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; confirmation to the Commission on Civil Rights; Strom Thurmond's public racism; Civil Rights at Dartmouth 1951; meeting Ed Muskie; General Counsel to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee; cleaning up the DSCC; arguments with Ed Muskie; involvement in the 1968 campaign; speechwriting for Ed Muskie; relationship between Humphrey and Muskie staffs; balancing Senate work and a national race; problems in the vice presidential campaign; nearly leaving the campaign; Humphrey-Muskie relations; Muskie's lack of energy; Muskie's weakness as a national campaigner; Florida primary 1968; change from the 1968 to 1972 campaigns; financing problems in 1972; Ted Kennedy impact in 1972 and Chappaquiddick; Arnold Picker; lack of a national fundraising organization; uncooperative donors; establishing foreign policy credentials; and diplomatic trip to Israel (continued on MOH 365).

Use Restrictions

Copyright Bates College. This transcript is provided for individual Research Purposes Only; for all other uses, including publication, reproduction and quotation beyond fair use, permission must be obtained in writing from: The Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library, Bates College, 70 Campus Avenue, Lewiston, Maine 04240-6018.