OTD in History… August 8, 1968, Republican Party nominates Richard Nixon for President

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OTD in History… August 8, 1968, Republican Party nominates Richard Nixon for President

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

On this day in history August 8, 1968, The Republican Party nominates Richard M. Nixon for President at their convention in Miami Beach, Florida, and Nixon delivers his acceptance speech.This was the second time the Republican Party chose Nixon as their nominee, the first was in 1960, where then-Vice President Nixon went up against then-Senator John F. Kennedy and lost by a slim margin. In 1968, Nixon rehabilitated his image into a new Nixon devising a Southern strategy to win over the Southern states who were disenchanted with the Democratic Party and President Lyndon Johnson over his racial policies. Nixon’s campaign focused on the escalating Vietnam War and law and order issues.

Nixon chose as his running mate Maryland Governor Spiro T. Agnew. They would go on to beat narrowly Democratic nominee and Vice President Hubert Humphrey largely because of opposition to the growing Vietnam War. Although they would be reelected in 1972, neither Nixon nor Agnew would complete their terms. Agnew resigned after being charged with tax evasion and political corruption in 1973. While six years to the day after his nomination Nixon would become the first president to resign from office over his impending impeachment over the Watergate scandal.

In the primaries, Michigan Governor George Romney was the early front-runner. He faced opposition over being a Mormon and his support for the Vietnam War. Romney claimed, he “originally supported Johnson’s Vietnam policy because he had been “brainwashed” by government briefing officers.” Romney withdrew in February 1968 because of public ridicule over his Vietnam flap, and the public’s fear of his religion.

Since his 1962 defeat for the California governorship, Richard Nixon gained support and friendships with Republican Party leaders. In the 1966-midterm elections, Nixon campaigned successfully for Republican candidates. In 1968, Nixon became the front-runner winning all the early primaries. Nelson Rockefeller announced in a March 1968 press conference he would not run for the nomination. After Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, Rockefeller changed his mind announced his candidacy. California Governor Ronald Reagan was the conservative candidate, until April 1968, he did not commit to running beyond a favorite son campaign. Rockefeller and Reagan entered the race too late, and could not compete with Nixon, who accumulated enough delegate support to clinch the nomination on the first ballot.

At the Republican National Convention held August 5–8, 1968, Senator Edward Brooke of Massachusetts became the first African-American Senator elected as convention temporary chairman. Nixon won the nomination on the first ballot against Nelson Rockefeller and Ronald Reagan. Nixon amassed 692 votes, to Rockefeller’s 277 and 182 votes for Reagan. Nixon chose Governor Spiro T. Agnew of Maryland, an unknown eliciting the response of “Spiro Who?” as his running mate, Nixon chose him to appeal to the Border States and Deep South. Reverend Ralph D. Abernathy’s (president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference) the Poor People’s Campaign demonstrated outside the convention hall.

In his acceptance speech, Nixon emphasized the bad state the country was in under the Democrats. Nixon expressed, “When the strongest nation in the world can be tied down for four years in Vietnam with no end in sight, when the richest nation in the world can’t manage its own economy, when the nation with the greatest tradition of the rule of law is plagued by unprecedented racial violence, when the President of the United States cannot travel abroad or to any major city at home, then it’s time for new leadership for the United States of America”.

Nixon also mentioned the silent majority voting bloc he was appealing to in his campaign. Nixon stated, “It is another voice, it is a quiet voice in the tumult of the shouting. It is the voice of the great majority of Americans, the forgotten Americans, the non-shouters, the non-demonstrators…. They’re good people. They’re decent people; they work and they save and they pay their taxes and they care…. And this I say, this I say to you tonight, is the real voice of America. In this year 1968, this is the message it will broadcast to America and to the world.”

Nixon faced competition in the general election from Alabama Governor George Wallace, his greatest competition for Southern votes; Wallace was also running on integration and law and order issues. Until September 25, Nixon led and Humphrey trailed in the polls. Then Humphrey broke with Johnson on Vietnam and announced he support of Vietnam bombing halt. Humphrey became the peace candidate, which increased anti-war Democrat and liberal support for Humphrey after the announcement, allowing Humphrey to close in on Nixon at the polls.

In October, President Johnson was attempting to reach an agreement with the North Vietnamese in the Paris peace talks. This would allow him to halt the bombing, which would salvage Humphrey’s campaign. Nixon realized that Johnson was attempting to use the power of the presidency to help Humphrey, and accused him of doing so on October 25. Johnson denounced such claims as “ugly and unfair.” Five days before the election on October 31, however, President Johnson announced a halt in the bombing of North Vietnam. The bombing halt allowed many people to conclude that the end of the war might be approaching, putting Humphrey in a favorable position. Humphrey went up in the polls, however, when the South Vietnamese government indicated it would not negotiate, Humphrey’s numbers slid again.

Nixon would go on to win a narrow victory over Humphrey with the popular vote, 31,783,783 and 43.42 percent of the vote to Humphrey’s 31,271,839 and 42.72 percent of the vote. The Electoral College votes would be more decisive 301 for Nixon and 191 for Humphrey. The Democrats, however, retained control of both houses in Congress. Despite the split results and the lack of resolution for many of the central campaign issues, historian Lewis Gould in his book 1968: The Election That Changed America, argues “In fact, the 1968 election proved to be a watershed event in American politics.”

Gould explains the reason, claiming, “Republicans used the skills they brought to Nixon’s campaign to create an ascendancy in presidential politics. Democrats, divided and torn after 1968, emerged as only crippled challengers for the White House in the 1970s and 1980s. Bitterness over racial issues and discord on the Vietnam War continued to shape national affairs. The events of 1968 changed the way Americans felt about politics and their leaders. An erosion of confidence in American institutions began that has not yet reached a conclusion.” (Gould, 8)

SOURCES AND READ MORE

Boller, Paul F. Presidential Campaigns: From George Washington to George W. Bush. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Gould, Lewis L. 1968: The Election That Changed America. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2010.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. She is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor, and a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

 

Address Accepting the Presidential Nomination at the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida

August 8, 1968

Mr. Chairman, delegates to this convention, my fellow Americans.

Sixteen years ago I stood before this Convention to accept your nomination as the running mate of one of the greatest Americans of our time—or of any time—Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Eight years ago, I had the highest honor of accepting your nomination for President of the United States.

Tonight, I again proudly accept that nomination for President of the United States.

But I have news for you. This time there is a difference.

This time we are going to win.

We’re going to win for a number of reasons: first a personal one. General Eisenhower, as you know, lies critically ill in the Walter Reed Hospital tonight. I have talked, however, with Mrs. Eisenhower on the telephone. She tells me that his heart is with us. And she says that there is nothing that he lives more for and there is nothing that would lift him more than for us to win in November and I say let’s win this one for Ike!

We are going to win because this great Convention has demonstrated to the nation that the Republican Party has the leadership, the platform and the purpose that America needs.

We are going to win because you have nominated as my running mate a statesman of the first rank who will be a great campaigner and one who is fully qualified to undertake the new responsibilities that I shall give to the next Vice President of the United States.

And he is a man who fully shares my conviction and yours, that after a period of forty years when power has gone from the cities and the states to the government in Washington, D.C., it’s time to have power go back from Washington to the states and to the cities of this country all over America.

We are going to win because at a time that America cries out for the unity that this Administration has destroyed, the Republican Party—after a spirited contest for its nomination for President and for Vice President— stands united before the nation tonight.

I congratulate Governor Reagan. I congratulate Governor Rockefeller. I congratulate Governor Romney. I congratulate all those who have made the hard fight that they have for this nomination. And I know that you will all fight even harder for the great victory our party is going to win in November because we’re going to be together in that election campaign.

And a party that can unite itself will unite America.

My fellow Americans, most important—we are going to win because our cause is right.

We make history tonight—not for ourselves but for the ages.

The choice we make in 1968 will determine not only the future of America but the future of peace and freedom in the world for the last third of the Twentieth Century.

And the question that we answer tonight: can America meet this great challenge?

For a few moments, let us look at America, let us listen to America to find the answer to that question.

As we look at America, we see cities enveloped in smoke and flame.

We hear sirens in the night.

We see Americans dying on distant battlefields abroad.

We see Americans hating each other; fighting each other; killing each other at home.

And as we see and hear these things, millions of Americans cry out in anguish.

Did we come all this way for this?

Did American boys die in Normandy, and Korea, and in Valley Forge for this?

Listen to the answer to those questions.

It is another voice. It is the quiet voice in the tumult and the shouting.

It is the voice of the great majority of Americans, the forgotten Americans—the non-shouters; the non-demonstrators.

They are not racists or sick; they are not guilty of the crime that plagues the land.

They are black and they are white—they’re native born and foreign born —they’re young and they’re old.

They work in America’s factories.

They run America’s businesses.

They serve in government.

They provide most of the soldiers who died to keep us free.

They give drive to the spirit of America.

They give lift to the American Dream.

They give steel to the backbone of America.

They are good people, they are decent people; they work, and they save, and they pay their taxes, and they care.

Like Theodore Roosevelt, they know that this country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless it is a good place for all of us to live in.

This I say to you tonight is the real voice of America. In this year 1968, this is the message it will broadcast to America and to the world.

Let’s never forget that despite her faults, America is a great nation.

And America is great because her people are great.

With Winston Churchill, we say: “We have not journeyed all this way across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies because we are made of sugar candy.”

America is in trouble today not because her people have failed but because her leaders have failed.

And what America needs are leaders to match the greatness of her people.

And this great group of Americans, the forgotten Americans, and others know that the great; question Americans must answer by their votes in November is this: Whether we shall continue for four more years the policies of the last five years.

And this is their answer and this is my answer to that question.

When the strongest nation in the world can be tied down for four years in a war in Vietnam with no end in sight;

When the richest nation in the world can’t manage its own economy;

When the nation with the greatest tradition of the rule of law is plagued by unprecedented lawlessness;

When a nation that has been known for a century for equality of opportunity is tom by unprecedented racial violence;

And when the President of the United States cannot travel abroad or to any major city at home without fear of a hostile demonstration—then it’s time for new leadership for the United States of America.

My fellow Americans, tonight I accept the challenge and the commitment to provide that new leadership for America.

And I ask you to accept it with me.

And let us accept this challenge not as a grim duty but as an exciting adventure in which we are privileged to help a great nation realize its destiny.

And let us begin by committing ourselves to the truth—to see it like it is, and tell it like it is—to find the truth, to speak the truth, and to live the truth —that’s what we will do.

We’ve had enough of big promises and little action.

The time has come for honest government in the United States of America.

And so tonight I do not promise the millennium in the morning.

I don’t promise that we can eradicate poverty, and end discrimination, eliminate all danger of war in the space of four, or even eight years. But, I do promise action—a new policy for peace abroad; a new policy for peace and progress and justice at home.

Look at our problems abroad. Do you realize that we face the stark truth that we are worse off in every area of the world tonight than we were when President Eisenhower left office eight years ago. That’s the record. And there is only one answer to such a record of failure and that is a complete housecleaning of those responsible for the failures of that record. The answer is a complete re-appraisal of America’s policies in every section of the world.

We shall begin with Vietnam.

We all hope in this room that there is a chance that current negotiations may bring an honorable end to that war. And we will say nothing during this campaign that might destroy that chance.

But if the war is not ended when the people choose in November, the choice will be clear. Here it is.

For four years this Administration has had at its disposal the greatest military and economic advantage that one nation has ever had over another in any war in history.

For four years, America’s fighting men have set a record for courage and sacrifice unsurpassed in our history.

For four years, this Administration has had the support of the Loyal Opposition for the objective of seeking an honorable end to the struggle.

Never has so much military and economic and diplomatic power been used so ineffectively.

And if after all of this time and all of this sacrifice and all of this support there is still no end in sight, then I say the time has come for the American people to turn to new leadership—not tied to the mistakes and the policies of the past. That is what we offer to America.

And I pledge to you tonight that the first priority foreign policy objective of our next Administration will be to bring an honorable end to the war in Vietnam. We shall not stop there—we need a policy to prevent more Vietnams.

All of America’s peace-keeping institutions and all of America’s foreign commitments must be re-appraised. Over the past twenty-five years, America has provided more than one hundred and fifty billion dollars in foreign aid to nations abroad.

In Korea and now again in Vietnam, the United States furnished most of the money, most of the arms; most of the men to help the people of those countries defend themselves against aggression.

Now we are a rich country. We are a strong nation. We are a populous nation. But there are two hundred million Americans and there are two billion people that live in the Free World.

And I say the time has come for other nations in the Free World to bear their fair share of the burden of defending peace and freedom around this world.

What I call for is not a new isolationism. It is a new internationalism in which America enlists its allies and its friends around the world in those struggles in which their interest is as great as ours.

And now to the leaders of the Communist world, we say: After an era of confrontation, the time has come for an era of negotiation.

Where the world’s super powers are concerned, there is no acceptable alternative to peaceful negotiation.

Because this will be a period of negotiation, we shall restore the strength of America so that we shall always negotiate from strength and never from weakness.

And as we seek peace through negotiation, let our goals be made clear:

We do not seek domination over any other country.

We believe deeply in our ideas, but we believe they should travel on their own power and not on the power of our arms.

We shall never be belligerent but we shall be as firm in defending our system as they are in expanding theirs.

We believe this should be an era of peaceful competition, not only in the productivity of our factories but in the quality of our ideas.

We extend the hand of friendship to all people, to the Russian people, to the Chinese people, to all people in the world.

And we shall work toward the goal of an open world—open skies, open cities, open hearts, open minds.

The next eight years, my friends, this period in which we are entering, I think we will have the greatest opportunity for world peace but also face the greatest danger of world war of any time in our history.

I believe we must have peace. I believe that we can have peace, but I do not underestimate the difficulty of this task. Because you see the art of preserving peace is greater than that of waging war and much more demanding. But I am proud to have served in an Administration which ended one war and kept the nation out of other wars for eight years. And it is that kind of experience and it is that kind of leadership that America needs today, and that we will give to America with your help.

And as we commit to new policies for America tonight, let us make one further pledge:

For five years hardly a day has gone by when we haven’t read or heard a report of the American flag being spit on; an embassy being stoned; a library being burned; or an ambassador being insulted some place in the world. And each incident reduced respect for the United States until the ultimate insult inevitably occurred.

And I say to you tonight that when respect for the United States of America falls so low that a fourth-rate military power, like North Korea, will seize an American naval vessel on the high seas, it is time for new leadership to restore respect for the United States of America.

My friends, America is a great nation.

And it is time we started to act like a great nation around the world. It is ironic to note when we were a small nation—weak militarily and poor economically—America was respected. And the reason was that America stood for something more powerful than military strength or economic wealth.

The American Revolution was a shining example of freedom in action which caught the imagination of the world.

Today, too often, America is an example to be avoided and not followed.

A nation that can’t keep the peace at home won’t be trusted to keep the peace abroad.

A President who isn’t treated with respect at home will not be treated with respect abroad.

A nation which can’t manage its own economy can’t tell others how to manage theirs.

If we are to restore prestige and respect for America abroad, the place to begin is at home in the United States of America.

My friends, we live in an age of revolution in America and in die world. And to find the answers to our problems, let us turn to a revolution, a revolution that will never grow old. The world’s greatest continuing revolution, the American Revolution.

The American Revolution was and is dedicated to progress, but our founders recognized that the first requisite of progress is order.

Now, there is no quarrel between progress and order—because neither can exist without the other.

So let us have order in America—not the order that suppresses dissent and discourages change but the order which guarantees the right to dissent and provides the basis for peaceful change.

And tonight, it is time for some honest talk about the problem of order in the United States.

Let us always respect, as I do, our courts and those who serve on them. But let us also recognize that some of our courts in their decisions have gone too far in weakening the peace forces as against the criminal forces in this country and we must act to restore that balance.

Let those who have the responsibility to enforce our laws and our judges who have the responsibility to interpret them be dedicated to the great principles of civil rights.

But let them also recognize that the first civil right of every American is to be free from domestic violence, and that right must be guaranteed in this country.

And if we are to restore order and respect for law in this country there is one place we are going to begin. We are going to have a new Attorney General of the United States of America.

I pledge to you that our new Attorney General will be directed by the President of the United States to launch a war against organized crime in this country.

I pledge to you that the new Attorney General of the United States will be an active belligerent against the loan sharks and the numbers racketeers that rob the urban poor in our cities.

I pledge to you that the new Attorney General will open a new front against the filth peddlers and the narcotics peddlers who are corrupting the lives of the children of this country.

Because, my friends, let this message come through clear from what I say tonight. Time is running out for the merchants of crime and corruption in American society.

The wave of crime is not going to be the wave of the future in the United States of America.

We shall re-establish freedom from fear in America so that America can take the lead in re-establishing freedom from fear in the world.

And to those who say that law and order is the code word for racism, there and here is a reply:

Our goal is justice for every American.

If we are to have respect for law in America, we must have laws that deserve respect.

Just as we cannot have progress without order, we cannot have order without progress, and so, as we commit to order tonight, let us commit to progress.

And this brings me to the clearest choice among the great issues of this campaign.

For the past five years we have been deluged by government programs for the unemployed; programs for the cities; programs for the poor. And we have reaped from these programs an ugly harvest of frustration, violence and failure across the land.

And now our opponents will be offering more of the same—more billions for government jobs, government housing, government welfare.

I say it is time to quit pouring billions of dollars into programs that have failed in the United States of America.

To put it bluntly, we are on the wrong road—and it’s time to take a new road, to progress.

Again, we turn to the American Revolution for our answer.

The war on poverty didn’t begin five years ago in this country. It began when this country began. It’s been the most successful war on poverty in the history of nations. There is more wealth in America today, more broadly shared, than in any nation in the world.

We are a great nation. And we must never forget how we became great.

America is a great nation today not because of what government did for people—but because of what people did for themselves over a hundred- ninety years in this country.

So it is time to apply the lessons of the American Revolution to our present problem.

Let us increase the wealth of America so that we can provide more generously for the aged; and for the needy; and for all those who cannot help themselves.

But for those who are able to help themselves—what we need are not more millions on welfare rolls—but more millions on payrolls in the United States of America.

Instead of government jobs, and government housing, and government welfare, let government use its tax and credit policies to enlist in this battle the greatest engine of progress ever developed in the history of man—American private enterprise.

Let us enlist in this great cause the millions of Americans in volunteer organizations who will bring a dedication to this task that no amount of money could ever buy.

And let us build bridges, my friends, build bridges to human dignity across that gulf that separates black America from white America.

Black Americans, no more than white Americans, they do not want more government programs which perpetuate dependency.

They don’t want to be a colony in a nation.

They want the pride, and the self-respect, and the dignity that can only come if they have an equal chance to own their own homes, to own their own businesses, to be managers and executives as well as workers, to have a piece of the action in the exciting ventures of private enterprise.

I pledge to you tonight that we shall have new programs which will provide that equal chance.

We make great history tonight.

We do not fire a shot heard ’round the world but we shall light the lamp of hope in millions of homes across this land in which there is no hope today.

And that great light shining out from America will again become a beacon of hope for all those in the world who seek freedom and opportunity.

My fellow Americans, I believe that historians will recall that 1968 marked the beginning of the American generation in world history.

Just to be alive in America, just to be alive at this time is an experience unparalleled in history. Here is where the action is. Think.

Thirty-two years from now most Americans living today will celebrate a new year that comes once in a thousand years.

Eight years from now, in the second term of the next President, we will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the American Revolution.

And by our decision in this election, we, all of us here, all of you listening on television and radio, we will determine what kind of nation America will be on its 200th birthday; we will determine what kind of a world America will live in in the year 2000.

This is the kind of a day I see for America on that glorious Fourth— eight years from now.

I see a day when Americans are once again proud of their flag. When once again at home and abroad, it is honored as the world’s greatest symbol of liberty and justice.

I see a day when the President of the United States is respected and his office is honored because it is worthy of respect and worthy of honor.

I see a day when every child in this land, regardless of his background, has a chance for the best education our wisdom and schools can provide, and an equal chance to go just as high as his talents will take him.

I see a day when life in rural America attracts people to the country, rather than driving them away.

I see a day when we can look back on massive breakthroughs in solving the problems of slums and pollution and traffic which are choking our cities to death.

I see a day when our senior citizens and millions of others can plan for the future with the assurance that their government is not going to rob them of their savings by destroying the value of their dollars.

I see a day when we will again have freedom from fear in America and freedom from fear in the world.

I see a day when our nation is at peace and the world is at peace and everyone on earth—those who hope, those who aspire, those who crave liberty—will look to America as the shining example of hopes realized and dreams achieved.

My fellow Americans, this is the cause I ask you to vote for. This is the cause I ask you to work for. This is the cause I ask you to commit to—not just for victory in November but beyond that to a new Administration.

Because the time when one man or a few leaders could save America is gone. We need tonight nothing less than the total commitment and the total mobilization of the American people if we are to succeed.

Government can pass laws. But respect for law can come only from people who take the law into their hearts and their minds—and not into their hands.

Government can provide opportunity. But opportunity means nothing unless people are prepared to seize it.

A President can ask for reconciliation in the racial conflict that divides Americans. But reconciliation comes only from the hearts of people.

And tonight, therefore, as we make this commitment, let us look into our hearts and let us look down into the faces of our children.

Is there anything in the world that should stand in their way?

None of the old hatreds mean anything when we look down into the faces of our children.

In their faces is our hope, our love, and our courage.

Tonight, I see the face of a child.

He lives in a great city. He is black. Or he is white. He is Mexican, Italian, Polish. None of that matters. What matters, he’s an American child.

That child in that great city is more important than any politician’s promise. He is America. He is a poet. He is a scientist, he is a great teacher, he is a proud craftsman. He is everything we ever hoped to be and everything we dare to dream to be.

He sleeps the sleep of childhood and he dreams the dreams of a child.

And yet when he awakens, he awakens to a living nightmare of poverty, neglect and despair.

He fails in school.

He ends up on welfare.

For him the American system is one that feeds his stomach and starves his soul. It breaks his heart. And in the end it may take his life on some distant battlefield.

To millions of children in this rich land, this is their prospect of the future.

But this is only part of what I see in America.

I see another child tonight.

He hears the train go by at night and he dreams of faraway places where he’d like to go.

It seems like an impossible dream.

But he is helped on his journey through life.

A father who had to go to work before he finished the sixth grade, sacrificed everything he had so that his sons could go to college.

A gentle, Quaker mother, with a passionate concern for peace, quietly wept when he went to war but she understood why he had to go.

A great teacher, a remarkable football coach, an inspirational minister encouraged him on his way.

A courageous wife and loyal children stood by him in victory and also defeat.

And in his chosen profession of politics, first there were scores, then hundreds, then thousands, and finally millions worked for his success.

And tonight he stands before you—nominated for President of the United States of America.

You can see why I believe so deeply in the American Dream.

For most of us the American Revolution has been won; the American Dream has come true.

And what I ask you to do tonight is to help me make that dream come true for millions to whom it’s an impossible dream today.

One hundred and eight years ago, the newly elected President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, left Springfield, Illinois, never to return again. He spoke to his friends gathered at the railroad station. Listen to his words:

“Today I leave you. I go to assume a greater task than devolved on General Washington. The great God which helped him must help me. Without that great assistance, I will surely fail. With it, I cannot fail.”

Abraham Lincoln lost his life but he did not fail.

The next President of the United States will face challenges which in some ways will be greater than those of Washington or Lincoln. Because for the first time in our nation’s history, an American President will face not only the problem of restoring peace abroad but of restoring peace at home.

Without God’s help and your help, we will surely fail; but with God’s help and your help, we shall surely succeed.

My fellow Americans, the long dark night for America is about to end.

The time has come for us to leave the valley of despair and climb the mountain so that we may see the glory of the dawn—a new day for America, and a new dawn for peace and freedom in the world.

 

Richard Nixon: “Address Accepting the Presidential Nomination at the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida,” August 8, 1968. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=25968.

OTD in History… August 7, 1912, Teddy Roosevelt nominated for a third term as president by the Bull Moose Party

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

HISTORY, NEWS & POLITICS

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OTD in History… August 7, 1912, Teddy Roosevelt nominated for a third term as president by the Bull Moose Party

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

On this day in history August 7, 1912, the Progressive Party nominates former President Theodore Roosevelt for president, the party of disgruntled Republicans known as the Bull Moose Party nominated the former 26th president of the United States, (1901 to 1909) in objection to the nomination of President William Howard Taft for a second term. Taft had been Roosevelt’s hand picked successor but he was not living up to progressive standards and Roosevelt’s legacy. Roosevelt left office in 1909, popular and refusing to run for a third term. After returning from a trip to Africa in 1910, Roosevelt broke with Taft. In 1912, he actively sought the Republican nomination, from then as historian Paul F. Boller indicates, “T.R. dominated the 1912 contest.” Never has a loser in a presidential election upstage the winner as Roosevelt did with his third-party run. Roosevelt was the only third-party nominee to show better than a major party nominee coming in second, with the Republicans and Taft in third.

The 1912 presidential campaign was the first time the primary system of contest were used to choose delegates for the conventions. The Republicans chose 362 delegates from 14 states, however, the primary votes were not honored for the presidential nomination process. For the Republicans Robert M. La Follette, Sr was the first who challenged William Howard Taft for the Republican nomination. La Follette maintained some momentum and early wins in North Dakota and his home state Wisconsin.

In February 1912, Roosevelt decided to run for the nomination, announcing, “My hat is in the ring! The fight is on and I am stripped to the buff!” When Roosevelt entered, the race progressives abandoned La Follette to support Roosevelt. Roosevelt was still popular and his New Nationalism platform promised “social welfare, direct democracy, and federal regulation of business.” (Boller, 192) Roosevelt won the most delegates and elections in the new Presidential preference primaries. In response to changing his mind about a third term, Roosevelt responded, “My position on the third term is perfectly simple. I said I would not accept a nomination for a third term under any circumstances, meaning, of course, a third consecutive term. . . .”

The competition, especially from Roosevelt, forced Taft to stump, campaign for the Republican nomination, the first time in history a sitting president would have to resort to campaigning. Taft explained at the time, “Whether I win or lose is not the important thing. I am in this fight to perform a great public duty the duty of keeping Theodore Roosevelt out of the White House.”

Roosevelt was the big winner of the new primary system, winning nine Republican Presidential primaries with 278 delegates, in comparison, La Follette won 36 and Taft won 48, however, the pledges were not binding at the convention. At first, the Republicans thought both Taft and Roosevelt should drop out in favor of a compromise candidate, Roosevelt responded, “I’ll name the compromise candidate. He’ll be me. I’ll name the compromise platform. It will be our platform.”

At the Republican National Convention in June, in Chicago, Illinois, with “Old Guard” support Taft gathered enough delegates to secure the nomination and shut out Roosevelt on the first ballot. At the convention, Roosevelt challenged the delegates’ credentials and tried to woo Southern black delegates to vote for him. Southern delegates supported Taft by a margin of 5–1. Taft also secured the Alabama, Arizona, and California delegates even though Roosevelt won the states by close margins. Convention chairman Elihu Root, Roosevelt’s former ally, proposed the convention re-nominate President Taft and Vice President James S. Sherman

On June 22, 1912, Roosevelt asked his supporters to abstain from voting and leave the convention, with Taft’s nomination certain, they did, and with Roosevelt’s agreement, they formed a new third party, the Progressive Party. Supporters included “social workers, reformers, intellectuals, feminists, Republican insurgents, disgruntled politicians, and businessmen.” (Boller, 192)

At the new party’s convention in August in Chicago, they nominated Theodore Roosevelt and Senator Hiram Johnson of California for Vice President. They adopted a radical progressive platform, which they called instead, a “Covenant with the People,” the Square Deal, which consisted of the “direct election of U.S. senators, woman suffrage, reduction of the tariff, and many social reforms.”

Roosevelt gave a speech declaring, “I hope we shall win. . . . But win, or lose, we shall not falter. . . . Our cause is based on the eternal principle of righteousness; and even though we who now lead may for the time fail, in the end, the cause itself shall triumph. . . . We stand at Armageddon, and we battle for the Lord.” The party became popularly known as the “Bull Moose Party” after Roosevelt told reporters, “I’m feeling like a Bull Moose!”

On October 14, 1912, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Roosevelt shot by a mad saloonkeeper and anarchist, John F. Schrank, who supposedly opposed Roosevelt running for a third term. The bullet went through Roosevelt’s 50-page copy of his speech in his jacket and his steel eyeglass case before it lodged in his chest. Roosevelt nevertheless delivered his speech, expressing, “I am going to ask you to be very quiet and I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot, but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose. But fortunately I had my manuscript, so you see I was going to make a long speech, and there is a bullet there is where the bullet went through — and it probably saved me from it going into my heart. The bullet is in me now, so, that I cannot make a very long speech, but I will try my best.” Roosevelt went on to speak for 84 minutes.

On Election Day November 5, Roosevelt lost to liberal and Democratic nominee Woodrow Wilson, who had been the President of Princeton University. Wilson won in a landslide, with 435 Electoral College votes, winning 40 states; Roosevelt won 88 and 6 six states, while Taft won just two states with 8 Electoral college votes. Roosevelt did far better when it came to the popular vote, Wilson won 41.9 percent (6,283,019); Roosevelt, 27.4 percent (4,119,507) and

Taft 23.2 percent (3,484,956). (Boller, 196) Roosevelt, could have won had the Republican Party not fractured but because it did, Roosevelt became a powerful third-party candidate who affected the outcome of the election, leaving Taft in third place, after becoming the first incumbent to campaign then mostly giving up in the general election. Wilson won because he was more to the left that Roosevelt, taking his progressivism a step further each time.

Historian James Chance in his book, 1912: Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft, and Debs The Election that Changed the Country, declared, “The year 1912 constitutes a defining moment in American history” and “the 1912 presidential campaign tackled the central question of America’s exceptional destiny.” (19) Chance also notes, “Had the charismatic Roosevelt received the Republican nomination, he almost surely would have won. He, far more than Taft, was in tune with the progressive spirit of the time. The Republican Party, in his hands, would likely have become a party of domestic reform and internationalist realism in foreign affairs. With his heroic virtues and condemnation of materialism, Roosevelt represents the road not taken by American conservatism.” (Chance, 16–17)

SOURCES AND READ MORE

Boller, Paul F. Presidential Campaigns: From George Washington to George W. Bush. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Chace, James. 1912: Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft & Debs the Election That Changed the Country. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004.

Cowan, Geoffrey. Let the People Rule: Theodore Roosevelt and the Birth of the Presidential Primary. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2016.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. She is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor, and a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

OTD in History… July 21, 1944, Democrats nominate President Franklin D. Roosevelt for a fourth term

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HISTORY, NEWS & POLITICS

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OTD in History… July 21, 1944, Democrats nominate President Franklin D. Roosevelt for a fourth term

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

On this day in history July 21, 1944, The Democratic Party nominatesFranklin D. Roosevelt for a history-making fourth term as president. With rumors that Roosevelt was in ill health, the Democrats nominating Missouri Senator Harry S. Truman as Vice President is even more significant. In the midst of World War II, the 1944 presidential campaign was first wartime presidential campaign since 1864 Americans wondered if there should even be a campaign with the ongoing war, and if elections should be suspended, however, democracy won out and the campaign continued. The Roosevelt-Truman ticket easily beat the Republicans, Thomas Dewey, and John Bricker. Roosevelt, however, would not live out the term; he died a mere three months after his fourth inauguration, leaving Truman to assume the presidency.

The Democrats nominated Roosevelt again easily at the national convention in Chicago, Illinois, held July 19 to 20, despite growing concern and opposition to his economic and social policies among conservatives in the party and in the South. The main issue at the convention became the choice of vice presidential nominee. Roosevelt’s declining health and suspicions of concealed health problems prompted the party’s conservatives to oppose the renomination of Roosevelt’s second Vice-President Henry Wallace. Wallace was never a party favorite but his left-wing positions and New Age spiritual beliefs concerned conservatives as they considered the vice president might have to assume the presidency because of Roosevelt’s health.

Party leaders told Roosevelt about their opposition to Wallace and they suggested Missouri Senator Harry Truman, a moderate and chairman of a “Senate wartime investigating committee.” Roosevelt refused to publicly support any of the Vice Presidential choices. Robert E. Hannegan, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee worked tiredly to ensure Truman was on the ticket. Roosevelt’s second choice was James F. Byrnes of South Carolina, however, he was conservative on race and labor issues. Sidney Hillman, chairman of the CIO’s Political Action Committee and Roosevelt campaign contributor opposed Byrnes’ nomination. Roosevelt accepted Truman as his running mate for party unity, Truman himself was reluctant to accept the nomination, calling it “the new Missouri Compromise.” Liberal delegates still supported Henry Wallace and he was in the lead in the first ballot. The Northern, Midwestern, and Southern state delegates supported Truman, and he was able to clinch the nomination on the second ballot after shifts.

Roosevelt accepted the Democratic presidential nomination with a speech on July 20. Roosevelt touted his presidential accomplishments, stating, “They will decide on the record — the record written on the seas, on the land, and in the skies. They will decide on the record of our domestic accomplishments in recovery and reform since March 4, 1933. And they will decide on the record of our war production and food production- unparalleled in all history, in spite of the doubts and sneers of those in high places who said it cannot be done. They will decide on the record of the International Food Conference, of U.N.R.R.A., of the International Labor Conference, of the International Education Conference, of the International Monetary Conference. And they will decide on the record written in the Atlantic Charter, at Casablanca, at Cairo, at Moscow, and at Teheran. We have made mistakes. Who has not? Things will not always be perfect. Are they ever perfect, in human affairs?”

Roosevelt refused to campaign and stump as the campaigned commenced wanted to focus on continuing his responsibilities as Commander-in-Chief. Roosevelt became tired of the attacks on his health and in mid-September commenced stumping. He planned to give five speeches, to answer his criticism show he was physically up to the challenge. Roosevelt took to the stump September 23, 1944, his first of speeches answering his critics, was to the Teamsters Union in Washington, considered the best campaign speech of his career; Fala Speech: Speech carried on national radio in which he ridiculed Republican claims that his administration was corrupt and wasteful with tax money. He particularly ridiculed a GOP claim that he had sent a US Navy warship to pick up his Scottish terrier Fala in Alaska, noting that “Fala was furious” at such rumors. To quiet concern about his health, Roosevelt insisted on making a vigorous campaign swing in October to quell rumors about his health, and he rode in an open car through city streets.

Roosevelt made history winning decisively his fourth term victory, but it was the historic fight over the Democratic vice presidential nomination that determined the next president. Roosevelt died of cerebral hemorrhage on April 12, 1944, less than 4 months after taking the oath of office for the fourth time, and Truman became the nation’s 33rd President. Republicans in Congress made sure no president would ever run for more than two terms passing the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on March 21, 1947, and ratified in 1951.

SOURCES AND READ MORE

Boller, Paul F. Presidential Campaigns: From George Washington to George W. Bush. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2004.

Evans, Hugh E. The Hidden Campaign: FDR’s Health and the 1944 Election. Armonk, N.Y: M.E. Sharpe, 2002.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. She is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor, and a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

 

OTD in History… July 18, 1940, Democrats nominate Franklin D. Roosevelt for a record third term as president

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

HISTORY, NEWS & POLITICS

HISTORY & POLITICAL HEADLINES

OTD in History… July 18, 1940, Democrats nominate Franklin D. Roosevelt for a record third term as president

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

On this day in history July 18, 1940, the Democratic Party nominatesPresident Franklin Delano Roosevelt for a record third term as president, making Roosevelt the first president to go beyond President George Washington’s precedent of only two-terms for a president. With the world plunged into another world war in Europe and Nazi German gaining and the Fall of France, Roosevelt decided he would run again and break the long-held unwritten rule. Roosevelt, however, looked to be drafted to the Democratic nomination, to make it appear as he was doing a duty and not ambitiously pursuing a third term.

Throughout the primaries, Roosevelt remained evasiveness as to whether he would run for an unprecedented third term. He ignored reporters’ questions and political endorsements. His name was placed on several ballots and beat his leading opponent, Vice President John Nance Garner in the primaries. Despite Roosevelt’s pre-convention statement that he had “no desire or purpose to continue in the office,” orchestrated support capitulated Roosevelt to the nomination for an unprecedented 3rd time. Harry Hopkins was in charge of the Roosevelt “draft” at the Democratic National Convention, in Chicago, Illinois, where he maintained direct contact with the president at the White House. Thomas F. Garry, the city’s Superintendent of Sewers was placed in front of a microphone in a room under the auditorium and ready to scream pro Roosevelt chants to drum up support for the draft movement.

Kentucky Senator Alben Barkley, the permanent chairman’s gave his speech on the second day, when he mentioned Roosevelt, Chicago Mayor Ed Kelly gave the sign to Garry to commence. He yelled, “We want Roosevelt! The world wants Roosevelt!” and other pro-Roosevelt slogans over the speech’s remaining 22 minutes. After his speech, Barkley announced the President’s decision on the nomination: “The President has never had and has not today any desire or purpose to continue in the office of the President, to be a candidate for that office, or to be nominated by the convention for that office. He wishes in all earnestness and sincerity to make it clear that all delegates to this convention are free to vote for any candidate. This is the message I bear to you from the President of the United States.”

The majority of delegates, 86 percent then nominated Roosevelt for a third term on the first ballot, however, not by acclamation, which was Roosevelt’s desire. Roosevelt did not accept the nomination in person this time; instead, he delivered a radio address. He stated he did not want to run again, but the world war called for personal sacrifice. Roosevelt expressed, “These plans, like so many other plans, had been made in a world which now seems as distant as another planet… Those, my friends, are the reasons why I have had to admit to myself, and now to state to you, that my conscience will not let me turn my back upon a call to service. The right to make that call rests with the people through the American method of a free election. Only the people themselves can draft a President. If such a draft should be made upon me, I say to you, in the utmost simplicity, I will, with God’s help, continue to serve with the best of my ability and with the fullness of my strength.”

Historian Richard Moe argues in his book Roosevelt’s Second Act: The Election of 1940 and the Politics of War, “There has been an inclination by many to conclude that the decision was inevitable, that he had decided long before July 1940 to break the two-term tradition established by Washington and Jefferson and regarded as inviolable for a century and a half. Several presidents, among them FDR’s boyhood hero and distant cousin Theodore, had tried to breach the tradition, but none had succeeded. There was nothing inevitable about Franklin Roosevelt’s decision. He made it as he made all of his major decisions — virtually alone and not before the last possible moment, which is to say not until he had to.” (Moe, xiv)

Roosevelt would go on to win the election in a decisive victory against Republican Wendell Willkie, becoming the first president elected to a third term. In 1944, with World War II still in the balance, and American involvement, Roosevelt again ran for his fourth and last term, winning against New York governor Thomas Dewey. Roosevelt made history but early in his fourth term on he died April 12, 1945. Vice President Harry S. Truman took over. Republicans in Congress made sure no president would ever run for more than two terms passing the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on March 21, 1947, and ratified in 1951.

SOURCES AND READ MORE

Boller, Paul F. Presidential Campaigns: From George Washington to George W. Bush. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2004.

Jeffries, John W. A Third Term for FDR The Election of 1940. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2017.

Moe, Richard. Roosevelt’s Second Act: The Election of 1940 and the Politics of War. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. She is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor, and a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Radio Address to the Democratic National Convention Accepting the Nomination

July 19, 1940

Members of the Convention—my friends:

It is very late; but I have felt that you would rather that I speak to you now than wait until tomorrow.

It is with a very full heart that I speak tonight. I must confess that I do so with mixed feelings—because I find myself, as almost everyone does sooner or later in his lifetime, in a conflict between deep personal desire for retirement on the one hand, and that quiet, invisible thing called “conscience” on the other.

Because there are self-appointed commentators and interpreters who will seek to misinterpret or question motives, I speak in a somewhat personal vein; and I must trust to the good faith and common sense of the American people to accept my own good faith—and to do their own interpreting.

When, in 1936, I was chosen by the voters for a second time as President, it was my firm intention to turn over the responsibilities of Government to other hands at the end of my term. That conviction remained with me. Eight years in the Presidency, following a period of bleak depression, and covering one world crisis after another, would normally entitle any man to the relaxation that comes from honorable retirement.

During the spring of 1939, world events made it clear to all but the blind or the partisan that a great war in Europe had become not merely a possibility but a probability, and that such a war would of necessity deeply affect the future of this nation.

When the conflict first broke out last September, it was still my intention to announce clearly and simply, at an early date, that under no conditions would I accept reelection. This fact was well known to my friends, and I think was understood by many citizens.

It soon became evident, however, that such a public statement on my part would be unwise from the point of view of sheer public duty. As President of the United States, it was my clear duty, with the aid of the Congress, to preserve our neutrality, to shape our program of defense, to meet rapid changes, to keep our domestic affairs adjusted to shifting world conditions, and to sustain the policy of the Good Neighbor.

It was also my obvious duty to maintain to the utmost the influence of this mighty nation in our effort to prevent the spread of war, and to sustain by all legal means those governments threatened by other governments which had rejected the principles of democracy.

Swiftly moving foreign events made necessary swift action at home and beyond the seas. Plans for national defense had to be expanded and adjusted to meet new forms of warfare. American citizens and their welfare had to be safeguarded in many foreign zones of danger. National unity in the United States became a crying essential in the face of the development of unbelievable types of espionage and international treachery.

Every day that passed called for the postponement of personal plans and partisan debate until the latest possible moment. The normal conditions under which I would have made public declaration of my personal desires were wholly gone.

And so, thinking solely of the national good and of the international scene, I came to the reluctant conclusion that such declaration should not be made before the national Convention. It was accordingly made to you within an hour after the permanent organization of this Convention.

Like any other man, I am complimented by the honor you have done me. But I know you will understand the spirit in which I say that no call of Party alone would prevail upon me to accept reelection to the Presidency.

The real decision to be made in these circumstances is not the acceptance of a nomination, but rather an ultimate willingness to serve if chosen by the electorate of the United States. Many considerations enter into this decision.

During the past few months, with due Congressional approval, we in the United States have been taking steps to implement the total defense of America. I cannot forget that in carrying out this program I have drafted into the service of the nation many men and women, taking them away from important private affairs, calling them suddenly from their homes and their businesses. I have asked them to leave their own work, and to contribute their skill and experience to the cause of their nation.

I, as the head of their Government, have asked them to do this. Regardless of party, regardless of personal convenience, they came—they answered the call. Every single one of them, with one exception, has come to the nation’s Capital to serve the nation.

These people, who have placed patriotism above all else, represent those who have made their way to what might be called the top of their professions or industries through their proven skill and experience.

But they alone could not be enough to meet the needs of the times.

Just as a system of national defense based on man power alone, without the mechanized equipment of modern warfare, is totally insufficient for adequate national defense, so also planes and guns and tanks are wholly insufficient unless they are implemented by the power of men trained to use them.

Such man power consists not only of pilots and gunners and infantry and those who operate tanks. For every individual in actual combat service, it is necessary for adequate defense that we have ready at hand at least four or five other trained individuals organized for non-combat services.

Because of the millions of citizens involved in the conduct of defense, most right thinking persons are agreed that some form of selection by draft is as necessary and fair today as it was in 1917 and 1918.

Nearly every American is willing to do his share or her share to defend the United States. It is neither just nor efficient to permit that task to fall upon any one section or any one group. For every section and every group depend for their existence upon the survival of the nation as a whole.

Lying awake, as I have, on many nights, I have asked myself whether I have the right, as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, to call on men and women to serve their country or to train themselves to serve and, at the same time, decline to serve my country in my own personal capacity, if I am called upon to do so by the people of my country.

In times like these—in times of great tension, of great crisis-the compass of the world narrows to a single fact. The fact which dominates our world is the fact of armed aggression, the fact of successful armed aggression, aimed at the form of Government, the kind of society that we in the United States have chosen and established for ourselves. It is a fact which no one longer doubts -which no one is longer able to ignore.

It is not an ordinary war. It is a revolution imposed by force of arms, which threatens all men everywhere. It is a revolution which proposes not to set men free but to reduce them to slavery—to reduce them to slavery in the interest of a dictatorship which has already shown the nature and the extent of the advantage which it hopes to obtain.

That is the fact which dominates our world and which dominates the lives of all of us, each and every one of us. In the face of the danger which confronts our time, no individual retains or can hope to retain, the right of personal choice which free men enjoy in times of peace. He has a first obligation to serve in the defense of our institutions of freedom—a first obligation to serve his country in whatever capacity his country finds him useful.

Like most men of my age, I had made plans for myself, plans for a private life of my own choice and for my own satisfaction, a life of that kind to begin in January, 1941. These plans, like so many other plans, had been made in a world which now seems as distant as another planet. Today all private plans, all private lives, have been in a sense repealed by an overriding public danger. In the face of that public danger all those who can be of service to the Republic have no choice but to offer themselves for service in those capacities for which they may be fitted.

Those, my friends, are the reasons why I have had to admit to myself, and now to state to you, that my conscience will not let me turn my back upon a call to service.

The right to make that call rests with the people through the American method of a free election. Only the people themselves can draft a President. If such a draft should be made upon me, I say to you, in the utmost simplicity, I will, with God’s help, continue to serve with the best of my ability and with the fullness of my strength.

To you, the delegates of this Convention, I express my gratitude for the selection of Henry Wallace for the high office of Vice President of the United States. His first-hand knowledge of the problems of Government in every sphere of life and in every single part of the nation—and indeed of the whole world—qualifies him without reservation. His practical idealism will be of great service to me individually and to the nation as a whole.

And to the Chairman of the National Committee, the Postmaster General of the United States—my old friend Jim Farley-I send, as I have often before and shall many times again, my most affectionate greetings. All of us are sure that he will continue to give all the leadership and support that he possibly can to the cause of American democracy.

In some respects, as I think my good wife suggested an hour or so ago—the next few months will be different from the usual national campaigns of recent years.

Most of you know how important it is that the President of the United States in these days remain close to the seat of Government. Since last Summer I have been compelled to abandon proposed journeys to inspect many of our great national projects from the Alleghenies to the Pacific Coast.

Events move so fast in other parts of the world that it has be come my duty to remain either in the White House itself or at some near-by point where I can reach Washington and even Europe and Asia by direct telephone—where, if need be, I can be back at my desk in the space of a very few hours. And in addition, the splendid work of the new defense machinery will require me to spend vastly more time in conference with the responsible administration heads under me. Finally, the added task which the present crisis has imposed also upon the Congress, compelling them to forego their usual adjournment, calls for constant cooperation between the Executive and Legislative branches, to the efficiency of which I am glad indeed now to pay tribute.

I do expect, of course, during the coming months to make my usual periodic reports to the country through the medium of press conferences and radio talks. I shall not have the time or the inclination to engage in purely political debate. But I shall never be loath to call the attention of the nation to deliberate or unwitting falsifications of fact, which are sometimes made by political candidates.

I have spoken to you in a very informal and personal way. The exigencies of the day require, however, that I also talk with you about things which transcend any personality and go very deeply to the roots of American civilization.

Our lives have been based on those fundamental freedoms and liberties which we Americans have cherished for a century and a half. The establishment of them and the preservation of them in each succeeding generation have been accomplished through the processes of free elective Government—the democratic-republican form, based on the representative system and the coordination of the executive, the legislative and the judicial branches.

The task of safeguarding our institutions seems to me to be twofold. One must be accomplished, if it becomes necessary, by the armed defense forces of the nation. The other, by the united effort of the men and women of the country to make our Federal and State and local Governments responsive to the growing requirements of modern democracy.

There have been occasions, as we remember, when reactions in the march of democracy have set in, and forward-looking progress has seemed to stop.

But such periods have been followed by liberal and progressive times which have enabled the nation to catch up with new developments in fulfilling new human needs. Such a time has been the past seven years. Because we had seemed to lag in previous years, we have had to develop, speedily and efficiently, the answers to aspirations which had come from every State and every family in the land.

We have sometimes called it social legislation; we have sometimes called it legislation to end the abuses of the past; we have sometimes called it legislation for human security; and we have sometimes called it legislation to better the condition of life of the many millions of our fellow citizens, who could not have the essentials of life or hope for an American standard of living.

Some of us have labeled it a wider and more equitable distribution of wealth in our land. It has included among its aims, to liberalize and broaden the control of vast industries—lodged today in the hands of a relatively small group of individuals of very great financial power.

But all of these definitions and labels are essentially the expression of one consistent thought. They represent a constantly growing sense of human decency, human decency throughout our nation.

This sense of human decency is happily confined to no group or class. You find it in the humblest home. You find it among those who toil, and among the shopkeepers and the farmers of the nation. You find it, to a growing degree, even among those who are listed in that top group which has so much control over the industrial and financial structure of the nation. Therefore, this urge of humanity can by no means be labeled a war of class against class. It is rather a war against poverty and suffering and ill-health and insecurity, a war in which all classes are joining in the interest of a sound and enduring democracy.

I do not believe for a moment, and I know that you do not believe either, that we have fully answered all the needs of human security. But we have covered much of the road. I need not catalogue the milestones of seven years. For every individual and every family in the whole land know that the average of their personal lives has been made safer and sounder and happier than it has ever been before. I do not think they want the gains in these directions to be repealed or even to be placed in the charge of those who would give them mere lip-service with no heart service.

Yes, very much more remains to be done, and I think the voters want the task entrusted to those who believe that the words “human betterment” apply to poor and rich alike.

And I have a sneaking suspicion too, that voters will smile at charges of inefficiency against a Government which has boldly met the enormous problems of banking, and finance and industry which the great efficient bankers and industrialists of the Republican Party left in such hopeless chaos in the famous year 1933.

But we all know that our progress at home and in the other American nations toward this realization of a better human decency—progress along free lines— is gravely endangered by what is happening on other continents. In Europe, many nations, through dictatorships or invasions, have been compelled to abandon normal democratic processes. They have been compelled to adopt forms of government which some call “new and efficient.”

They are not new, my friends, they are only a relapse—a relapse into ancient history. The omnipotent rulers of the greater part of modern Europe have guaranteed efficiency, and work, and a type of security.

But the slaves who built the pyramids for the glory of the dictator Pharaohs of Egypt had that kind of security, that kind of efficiency, that kind of corporative state.

So did the inhabitants of that world which extended from Britain to Persia under the undisputed rule of the proconsuls sent out from Rome.

So did the henchmen, the tradesmen, the mercenaries and the slaves of the feudal system which dominated Europe a thousand years ago.

So did the people of those nations of Europe who received their kings and their government at the whim of the conquering Napoleon.

Whatever its new trappings and new slogans, tyranny is the oldest and most discredited rule known to history. And whenever tyranny has replaced a more human form of Government it has been due more to internal causes than external. Democracy can thrive only when it enlists the devotion of those whom Lincoln called the common people. Democracy can hold that devotion only when it adequately respects their dignity by so ordering society as to assure to the masses of men and women reasonable security and hope for themselves and for their children.

We in our democracy, and those who live in still unconquered democracies, will never willingly descend to any form of this so-called security of efficiency which calls for the abandonment of other securities more vital to the dignity of man. It is our credo-unshakable to the end—that we must live under the liberties that were first heralded by Magna Carta and placed into glorious operation through the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights.

The Government of the United States for the past seven years has had the courage openly to oppose by every peaceful means the spread of the dictator form of Government. If our Government should pass to other hands next January-untried hands, inexperienced hands—we can merely hope and pray that they will not substitute appeasement and compromise with those who seek to destroy all democracies everywhere, including here.

I would not undo, if I could, the efforts I made to prevent war from the moment it was threatened and to restrict the area of carnage, down to the last minute. I do not now soften the condemnation expressed by Secretary Hull and myself from time to time for the acts of aggression that have wiped out ancient liberty-loving, peace-pursuing countries which had scrupulously maintained neutrality. I do not recant the sentiments of sympathy with all free peoples resisting such aggression, or begrudge the material aid that we have given to them. I do not regret my consistent endeavor to awaken this country to the menace for us and for all we hold dear.

· I have pursued these efforts in the face of appeaser fifth columnists who charged me with hysteria and war-mongering. But I felt it my duty, my simple, plain, inescapable duty, to arouse my countrymen to the danger of the new forces let loose in the world.

So long as I am President, I will do all I can to insure that that foreign policy remain our foreign policy.

All that I have done to maintain the peace of this country and to prepare it morally, as well as physically, for whatever contingencies may be in store, I submit to the judgment of my countrymen. We face one of the great choices of history.

It is not alone a choice of Government by the people versus dictatorship.

It is not alone a choice of freedom versus slavery.

It is not alone a choice between moving forward or falling back. It is all of these rolled into one.

It is the continuance of civilization as we know it versus the ultimate destruction of all that we have held dear—religion against godlessness; the ideal of justice against the practice of force; moral decency versus the firing squad; courage to speak out, and to act, versus the false lullaby of appeasement.

But it has been well said that a selfish and greedy people cannot be free.

The American people must decide whether these things are worth making sacrifices of money, of energy, and of self. They will not decide by listening to mere words or by reading mere pledges, interpretations and claims. They will decide on the record—the record as it has been made—the record of things as they are.

The American people will sustain the progress of a representative democracy, asking the Divine Blessing as they face the future with courage and with faith.

Citation: Franklin D. Roosevelt: “Radio Address to the Democratic National Convention Accepting the Nomination.,” July 19, 1940. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=15980.

OTD in history… July 16, 1964, Conservative Barry Goldwater accepts Republican presidential nomination

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OTD in history… July 16, 1964, Conservative Barry Goldwater accepts Republican presidential nomination

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: Getty Images

On this day in history July 16, 1964, the Republican Party nominates Conservative Barry Goldwater, a Senator from Arizona for president; Goldwater ushered in the Republican Party’s longtime association with conservatism. The primaries pit Goldwater against moderate Nelson Rockefeller of New York, with Goldwater emerging with enough support for the nomination, however, throughout the campaign the two factions of the party remained fractured. In his acceptance speech, Goldwater claimed, “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” The Democrats led by incumbent Lyndon B. Johnson portrayed Goldwater as an extremist, notably depicting that to the public with their Daisy commercial, claiming Goldwater would start a nuclear war.

Johnson would go on to win the election with a landslide and the largest share of the popular vote in modern American history. Despite his loss, Goldwater’s nomination realigned the Republican Party geographically, with the Sunbelt and the South turning Republican red after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The real star of the Republican presidential campaign in 1964 was former actor Ronald Reagan, who delivered his televised Time for Choosing speech in October, launching his political career. Goldwater’s nomination started the Republican Party’s alignment with the modern conservative movement, leading to Reagan’s election in 1980 and has remained a driving force in Republican politics.

READ MORE

Perlstein, Rick. Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus. New York: Nation Books, 2009.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. She is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor, and a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

 

Goldwater’s 1964 Acceptance Speech

 

Source: WaPo

Provided by the Arizona Historical Foundation

To my good friend and great Republican, Dick Nixon, and your charming wife, Pat; my running mate and that wonderful Republican who has served us well for so long, Bill Miller and his wife, Stephanie; to Thurston Morton who has done such a commendable job in chairmaning this Convention; to Mr. Herbert Hoover, who I hope is watching; and to that great American and his wife, General and Mrs. Eisenhower; to my own wife, my family, and to all of my fellow Republicans here assembled, and Americans across this great Nation.

From this moment, united and determined, we will go forward together, dedicated to the ultimate and undeniable greatness of the whole man. Together we will win.

I accept your nomination with a deep sense of humility. I accept, too, the responsibility that goes with it, and I seek your continued help and your continued guidance. My fellow Republicans, our cause is too great for any man to feel worthy of it. Our task would be too great for any man, did he not have with him the heart and the hands of this great Republican Party, and I promise you tonight that every fiber of my being is consecrated to our cause; that nothing shall be lacking from the struggle that can be brought to it by enthusiasm, by devotion, and plain hard work. In this world no person, no party can guarantee anything, but what we can do and what we shall do is to deserve victory, and victory will be ours.

The good Lord raised this mighty Republic to be a home for the brave and to flourish as the land of the free-not to stagnate in the swampland of collectivism, not to cringe before the bully of communism.

Now, my fellow Americans, the tide has been running against freedom. Our people have followed false prophets. We must, and we shall, return to proven ways– not because they are old, but because they are true. We must, and we shall, set the tide running again in the cause of freedom. And this party, with its every action, every word, every breath, and every heartbeat, has but a single resolve, and that is freedom – freedom made orderly for this nation by our constitutional government; freedom under a government limited by laws of nature and of nature’s God; freedom – balanced so that liberty lacking order will not become the slavery of the prison cell; balanced so that liberty lacking order will not become the license of the mob and of the jungle.

Now, we Americans understand freedom. We have earned it, we have lived for it, and we have died for it. This Nation and its people are freedom’s model in a searching world. We can be freedom’s missionaries in a doubting world. But, ladies and gentlemen, first we must renew freedom’s mission in our own hearts and in our own homes.

During four futile years, the administration which we shall replace has distorted and lost that faith. It has talked and talked and talked and talked the words of freedom. Now, failures cement the wall of shame in Berlin. Failures blot the sands of shame at the Bay of Pigs. Failures mark the slow death of freedom in Laos. Failures infest the jungles of Vietnam. And failures haunt the houses of our once great alliances and undermine the greatest bulwark ever erected by free nations – the NATO community. Failures proclaim lost leadership, obscure purpose, weakening wills, and the risk of inciting our sworn enemies to new aggressions and to new excesses. Because of this administration we are tonight a world divided – we are a Nation becalmed. We have lost the brisk pace of diversity and the genius of individual creativity. We are plodding at a pace set by centralized planning, red tape, rules without responsibility, and regimentation without recourse.

Rather than useful jobs in our country, people have been offered bureaucratic “make work,” rather than moral leadership, they have been given bread and circuses, spectacles, and, yes, they have even been given scandals. Tonight there is violence in our streets, corruption in our highest offices, aimlessness among our youth, anxiety among our elders and there is a virtual despair among the many who look beyond material success for the inner meaning of their lives. Where examples of morality should be set, the opposite is seen. Small men, seeking great wealth or power, have too often and too long turned even the highest levels of public service into mere personal opportunity.

Now, certainly, simple honesty is not too much to demand of men in government. We find it in most. Republicans demand it from everyone. They demand it from everyone no matter how exalted or protected his position might be. The growing menace in our country tonight, to personal safety, to life, to limb and property, in homes, in churches, on the playgrounds, and places of business, particularly in our great cities, is the mounting concern, or should be, of every thoughtful citizen in the United States.

Security from domestic violence, no less than from foreign aggression, is the most elementary and fundamental purpose of any government, and a government that cannot fulfill that purpose is one that cannot long command the loyalty of its citizens. History shows us – demonstrates that nothing – nothing prepares the way for tyranny more than the failure of public officials to keep the streets from bullies and marauders.

Now, we Republicans see all this as more, much more, than the rest: of mere political differences or mere political mistakes. We see this as the result of a fundamentally and absolutely wrong view of man, his nature and his destiny. Those who seek to live your lives for you, to take your liberties in return for relieving you of yours, those who elevate the state and downgrade the citizen must see ultimately a world in which earthly power can be substituted for divine will, and this Nation was founded upon the rejection of that notion and upon the acceptance of God as the author of freedom.

Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed. Their mistaken course stems from false notions of equality, ladies and gentlemen. Equality, rightly understood, as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences. Wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism.

Fellow Republicans, it is the cause of Republicanism to resist concentrations of power, private or public, which enforce such conformity and inflict such despotism. It is the cause of Republicanism to ensure that power remains in the hands of the people. And, so help us God, that is exactly what a Republican president will do with the help of a Republican Congress.

It is further the cause of Republicanism to restore a clear understanding of the tyranny of man over man in the world at large. It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the illusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don’t rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression – and this is hogwash.

It is further the cause of Republicanism to remind ourselves, and the world, that only the strong can remain free, that only the strong can keep the peace.

Now, I needn’t remind you, or my fellow Americans regardless of party, that Republicans have shouldered this hard responsibility and marched in this cause before. It was Republican leadership under Dwight Eisenhower that kept the peace, and passed along to this administration the mightiest arsenal for defense the world has ever known. And I needn’t remind you that it was the strength and the unbelievable will of the Eisenhower years that kept the peace by using our strength, by using it in the Formosa Straits and in Lebanon and by showing it courageously at all times.

It was during those Republican years that the thrust of Communist imperialism was blunted. It was during those years of Republican leadership that this world moved closer, not to war, but closer to peace, than at any other time in the three decades just passed.

And I needn’t remind you – but I will – that it’s been during Democratic years that our strength to deter war has stood still, and even gone into a planned decline. It has been during Democratic years that we have weakly stumbled into conflict, timidly refusing to draw our own lines against aggression, deceitfully refusing to tell even our people of our full participation, and tragically, letting our finest men die on battlefields (unmarked by purpose, unmarked by pride or the prospect of victory).

Yesterday it was Korea. Tonight it is Vietnam. Make no bones of this. Don’t try to sweep this under the rug. We are at war in Vietnam. And yet the President, who is Commander-in-Chief of our forces, refuses to say – refuses to say, mind you, whether or not the objective over there is victory. And his Secretary of Defense continues to mislead and misinform the American people, and enough of it has gone by.

And I needn’t remind you, but I will; it has been during Democratic years that a billion persons were cast into Communist captivity and their fate cynically sealed.

Today in our beloved country we have an administration which seems eager to deal with communism in every coin known – from gold to wheat, from consulates to confidence, and even human freedom itself.

The Republican cause demands that we brand communism as a principal disturber of peace in the world today. Indeed, we should brand it as the only significant disturber of the peace, and we must make clear that until its goals of conquest are absolutely renounced and its rejections with all nations tempered, communism and the governments it now controls are enemies of every man on earth who is or wants to be free.

We here in America can keep the peace only if we remain vigilant and only if we remain strong. Only if we keep our eyes open and keep our guard up can we prevent war. And I want to make this abundantly clear – I don’t intend to let peace or freedom be torn from our grasp because of lack of strength or lack of will – and that I promise you Americans.

I believe that we must look beyond the defense of freedom today to its extension tomorrow. I believe that the communism which boasts it will bury us will, instead, give way to the forces of freedom. And I can see in the distant and yet recognizable future the outlines of a world worthy our dedication, our every risk, our every effort, our every sacrifice along the way. Yes, a world that will redeem the suffering of those who will be liberated from tyranny. I can see and I suggest that all thoughtful men must contemplate the flowering of an Atlantic civilization, the whole world of Europe unified and free, trading openly across its borders, communicating openly across the world. This is a goal far, far more meaningful than a moon shot.

It’s a truly inspiring goal for all free men to set for themselves during the latter half of the twentieth century. I can also see – and all free men must thrill to – the events of this Atlantic civilization joined by its great ocean highway to the United States. What a destiny, what a destiny can be ours to stand as a great central pillar linking Europe, the Americans and the venerable and vital peoples and cultures of the Pacific. I can see a day when all the Americas, North and South, will be linked in a mighty system, a system in which the errors and misunderstandings of the past will be submerged one by one in a rising tide of prosperity and interdependence. We know that the misunderstandings of centuries are not to be wiped away in a day or wiped away in an hour. But we pledge – we pledge that human sympathy – what our neighbors to the South call that attitude of “simpatico” – no less than enlightened self’-interest will be our guide.

I can see this Atlantic civilization galvanizing and guiding emergent nations everywhere.

I know this freedom is not the fruit of every soil. I know that our own freedom was achieved through centuries, by unremitting efforts by brave and wise men. I know that the road to freedom is a long and a challenging road. I know also that some men may walk away from it, that some men resist challenge, accepting the false security of governmental paternalism.

And I pledge that the America I envision in the years ahead will extend its hand in health, in teaching and in cultivation, so that all new nations will be at least encouraged to go our way, so that they will not wander down the dark alleys of tyranny or to the dead-end streets of collectivism. My fellow Republicans, we do no man a service by hiding freedom’s light under a bushel of mistaken humility.

I seek an American proud of its past, proud of its ways, proud of its dreams, and determined actively to proclaim them. But our example to the world must, like charity, begin at home.

In our vision of a good and decent future, free and peaceful, there must be room for deliberation of the energy and talent of the individual – otherwise our vision is blind at the outset.

We must assure a society here which, while never abandoning the needy or forsaking the helpless, nurtures incentives and opportunity for the creative and the productive. We must know the whole good is the product of many single contributions.

I cherish a day when our children once again will restore as heroes the sort of men and women who – unafraid and undaunted – pursue the truth, strive to cure disease, subdue and make fruitful our natural environment and produce the inventive engines of production, science, and technology.

This Nation, whose creative people have enhanced this entire span of history, should again thrive upon the greatness of all those things which we, as individual citizens, can and should do. During Republican years, this again will be a nation of men and women, of families proud of their role, jealous of their responsibilities, unlimited in their aspirations – a Nation where all who can will be self-reliant.

We Republicans see in our constitutional form of government the great framework which assures the orderly but dynamic fulfillment of the whole man, and we see the whole man as the great reason for instituting orderly government in the first place.

We see, in private property and in economy based upon and fostering private property, the one way to make government a durable ally of the whole man, rather than his determined enemy. We see in the sanctity of private property the only durable foundation for constitutional government in a free society. And beyond that, we see, in cherished diversity of ways, diversity of thoughts, of motives and accomplishments. We do not seek to lead anyone’s life for him – we seek only to secure his rights and to guarantee him opportunity to strive, with government performing only those needed and constitutionally sanctioned tasks which cannot otherwise be performed.

We Republicans seek a government that attends to its inherent responsibilities of maintaining a stable monetary and fiscal climate, encouraging a free and a competitive economy and enforcing law and order. Thus do we seek inventiveness, diversity, and creativity within a stable order, for we Republicans define government’s role where needed at many, many levels, preferably through the one closest to the people involved.

Our towns and our cities, then our counties, then our states, then our regional contacts – and only then, the national government. That, let me remind you, is the ladder of liberty, built by decentralized power. On it also we must have balance between the branches of government at every level.

Balance, diversity, creativity – these are the elements of Republican equation. Republicans agree, Republicans agree heartily to disagree on many, many of their applications, but we have never disagreed on the basic fundamental issues of why you and I are Republicans.

This is a party, this Republican Party, a Party for free men, not for blind followers, and not for conformists.

Back in 1858 Abraham Lincoln said this of the Republican party – and I quote him, because he probably could have said it during the last week or so: “It was composed of strained, discordant, and even hostile elements” in 1858. Yet all of these elements agreed on one paramount objective: To arrest the progress of slavery, and place it in the course of ultimate extinction.

Today, as then, but more urgently and more broadly than then, the task of preserving and enlarging freedom at home and safeguarding it from the forces of tyranny abroad is great enough to challenge all our resources and to require all our strength. Anyone who joins us in all sincerity, we welcome. Those who do not care for our cause, we don’t expect to enter our ranks in any case. And let our Republicanism, so focused and so dedicated, not be made fuzzy and futile by unthinking and stupid labels.

I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

The beauty of the very system we Republicans are pledged to restore and revitalize, the beauty of this Federal system of ours is in its reconciliation of diversity with unity. We must not see malice in honest differences of opinion, and no matter how great, so long as they are not inconsistent with the pledges we have given to each other in and through our Constitution. Our Republican cause is not to level out the world or make its people conform in computer regimented sameness. Our Republican cause is to free our people and light the way for liberty throughout the world.

Ours is a very human cause for very humane goals.

This Party, its good people, and its unquestionable devotion to freedom, will not fulfill the purposes of this campaign which we launch here now until our cause has won the day, inspired the world, and shown the way to a tomorrow worthy of all our yesteryears.

I repeat, I accept your nomination with humbleness, with pride, and you and I are going to fight for the goodness of our land. Thank you.

OTD in History… July 15, 1960, John F. Kennedy accepts the Democratic presidential nomination

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Address of Senator John F. Kennedy Accepting the Democratic Party Nomination for the Presidency of the United States – Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles

July 15, 1960

Governor Stevenson, Senator Johnson, Mr. Butler, Senator Symington, Senator Humphrey, Speaker Rayburn, Fellow Democrats, I want to express my thanks to Governor Stevenson for his generous and heart-warming introduction.

It was my great honor to place his name in nomination at the 1956 Democratic Convention, and I am delighted to have his support and his counsel and his advice in the coming months ahead.

With a deep sense of duty and high resolve, I accept your nomination.

I accept it with a full and grateful heart–without reservation–and with only one obligation–the obligation to devote every effort of body, mind and spirit to lead our Party back to victory and our Nation back to greatness.

I am grateful, too, that you have provided me with such an eloquent statement of our Party’s platform. Pledges which are made so eloquently are made to be kept. “The Rights of Man”–the civil and economic rights essential to the human dignity of all men–are indeed our goal and our first principles. This is a Platform on which I can run with enthusiasm and conviction.

And I am grateful, finally, that I can rely in the coming months on so many others–on a distinguished running-mate who brings unity to our ticket and strength to our Platform, Lyndon Johnson–on one of the most articulate statesmen of our time, Adlai Stevenson–on a great spokesman for our needs as a Nation and a people, Stuart Symington–and on that fighting campaigner whose support I welcome, President Harry S. Truman– on my traveling companion in Wisconsin and West Virginia, Senator Hubert Humphrey. On Paul Butler, our devoted and courageous Chairman.

I feel a lot safer now that they are on my side again. And I am proud of the contrast with our Republican competitors. For their ranks are apparently so thin that not one challenger has come forth with both the competence and the courage to make theirs an open convention.

I am fully aware of the fact that the Democratic Party, by nominating someone of my faith, has taken on what many regard as a new and hazardous risk–new, at least since 1928. But I look at it this way: the Democratic Party has once again placed its confidence in the American people, and in their ability to render a free, fair judgment. And you have, at the same time, placed your confidence in me, and in my ability to render a free, fair judgment–to uphold the Constitution and my oath of office–and to reject any kind of religious pressure or obligation that might directly or indirectly interfere with my conduct of the Presidency in the national interest. My record of fourteen years supporting public education–supporting complete separation of church and state–and resisting pressure from any source on any issue should be clear by now to everyone.

I hope that no American, considering the really critical issues facing this country, will waste his franchise by voting either for me or against me solely on account of my religious affiliation. It is not relevant. I want to stress, what some other political or religious leader may have said on this subject. It is not relevant what abuses may have existed in other countries or in other times. It is not relevant what pressures, if any, might conceivably be brought to bear on me. I am telling you now what you are entitled to know: that my decisions on any public policy will be my own–as an American, a Democrat and a free man.

Under any circumstances, however, the victory we seek in November will not be easy. We all know that in our hearts. We recognize the power of the forces that will be aligned against us. We know they will invoke the name of Abraham Lincoln on behalf of their candidate–despite the fact that the political career of their candidate has often seemed to show charity toward none and malice for all.

We know that it will not be easy to campaign against a man who has spoken or voted on every known side of every known issue. Mr. Nixon may feel it is his turn now, after the New Deal and the Fair Deal–but before he deals, someone had better cut the cards.

That “someone” may be the millions of Americans who voted for President Eisenhower but balk at his would be, self-appointed successor. For just as historians tell us that Richard I was not fit to fill the shoes of bold Henry II–and that Richard Cromwell was not fit to wear the mantle of his uncle–they might add in future years that Richard Nixon did not measure to the footsteps of Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Perhaps he could carry on the party policies–the policies of Nixon, Benson, Dirksen and Goldwater. But this Nation cannot afford such a luxury. Perhaps we could better afford a Coolidge following Harding. And perhaps we could afford a Pierce following Fillmore. But after Buchanan this nation needed a Lincoln–after Taft we needed a Wilson–after Hoover we needed Franklin Roosevelt. . . . And after eight years of drugged and fitful sleep, this nation needs strong, creative Democratic leadership in the White House.

But we are not merely running against Mr. Nixon. Our task is not merely one of itemizing Republican failures. Nor is that wholly necessary. For the families forced from the farm will know how to vote without our telling them. The unemployed miners and textile workers will know how to vote. The old people without medical care–the families without a decent home–the parents of children without adequate food or schools–they all know that it’s time for a change.

But I think the American people expect more from us than cries of indignation and attack. The times are too grave, the challenge too urgent, and the stakes too high–to permit the customary passions of political debate. We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sane future. As Winston Churchill said on taking office some twenty years ago: if we open a quarrel between the present and the past, we shall be in danger of losing the future.

Today our concern must be with that future. For the world is changing. The old era is ending. The old ways will not do.

Abroad, the balance of power is shifting. There are new and more terrible weapons–new and uncertain nations–new pressures of population and deprivation. One-third of the world, it has been said, may be free–but one-third is the victim of cruel repression–and the other one- third is rocked by the pangs of poverty, hunger and envy. More energy is released by the awakening of these new nations than by the fission of the atom itself.

Meanwhile, Communist influence has penetrated further into Asia, stood astride the Middle East and now festers some ninety miles off the coast of Florida. Friends have slipped into neutrality–and neutrals into hostility. As our keynoter reminded us, the President who began his career by going to Korea ends it by staying away from Japan.

The world has been close to war before–but now man, who has survived all previous threats to his existence, has taken into his mortal hands the power to exterminate the entire species some seven times over.

Here at home, the changing face of the future is equally revolutionary. The New Deal and the Fair Deal were bold measures for their generations–but this is a new generation.

A technological revolution on the farm has led to an output explosion–but we have not yet learned to harness that explosion usefully, while protecting our farmers’ right to full parity income.

An urban population explosion has overcrowded our schools, cluttered up our suburbs, and increased the squalor of our slums.

A peaceful revolution for human rights–demanding an end to racial discrimination in all parts of our community life–has strained at the leashes imposed by timid executive leadership.

A medical revolution has extended the life of our elder citizens without providing the dignity and security those later years deserve. And a revolution of automation finds machines replacing men in the mines and mills of America, without replacing their incomes or their training or their needs to pay the family doctor, grocer and landlord.

There has also been a change–a slippage–in our intellectual and moral strength. Seven lean years of drouth and famine have withered a field of ideas. Blight has descended on our regulatory agencies–and a dry rot, beginning in Washington, is seeping into every corner of America–in the payola mentality, the expense account way of life, the confusion between what is legal and what is right. Too many Americans have lost their way, their will and their sense of historic purpose.

It is a time, in short, for a new generation of leadership–new men to cope with new problems and new opportunities.

All over the world, particularly in the newer nations, young men are coming to power–men who are not bound by the traditions of the past–men who are not blinded by the old fears and hates and rivalries–young men who can cast off the old slogans and delusions and suspicions.

The Republican nominee-to-be, of course, is also a young man. But his approach is as old as McKinley. His party is the party of the past. His speeches are generalities from Poor Richard’s Almanac. Their platform, made up of left-over Democratic planks, has the courage of our old convictions. Their pledge is a pledge to the status quo–and today there can be no status quo.

For I stand tonight facing west on what was once the last frontier. From the lands that stretch three thousand miles behind me, the pioneers of old gave up their safety, their comfort and sometimes their lives to build a new world here in the West. They were not the captives of their own doubts, the prisoners of their own price tags. Their motto was not “every man for himself” –but “all for the common cause.” They were determined to make that new world strong and free, to overcome its hazards and its hardships, to conquer the enemies that threatened from without and within.

Today some would say that those struggles are all over–that all the horizons have been explored–that all the battles have been won– that there is no longer an American frontier.

But I trust that no one in this vast assemblage will agree with those sentiments. For the problems are not all solved and the battles are not all won–and we stand today on the edge of a New Frontier–the frontier of the 1960’s–a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils– a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats.

Woodrow Wilson’s New Freedom promised our nation a new political and economic framework. Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal promised security and succor to those in need. But the New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises–it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer the American people, but what I intend to ask of them. It appeals to their pride, not to their pocketbook–it holds out the promise of more sacrifice instead of more security.

But I tell you the New Frontier is here, whether we seek it or not. Beyond that frontier are the uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered pockets of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus. It would be easier to shrink back from that frontier, to look to the safe mediocrity of the past, to be lulled by good intentions and high rhetoric–and those who prefer that course should not cast their votes for me, regardless of party.

But I believe the times demand new invention, innovation, imagination, decision. I am asking each of you to be pioneers on that New Frontier. My call is to the young in heart, regardless of age–to all who respond to the Scriptural call: “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed.”

For courage–not complacency–is our need today–leadership–not salesmanship. And the only valid test of leadership is the ability to lead, and lead vigorously. A tired nation, said David Lloyd George, is a Tory nation–and the United States today cannot afford to be either tired or Tory.

There may be those who wish to hear more–more promises to this group or that–more harsh rhetoric about the men in the Kremlin–more assurances of a golden future, where taxes are always low and subsidies ever high. But my promises are in the platform you have adopted–our ends will not be won by rhetoric and we can have faith in the future only if we have faith in ourselves.

For the harsh facts of the matter are that we stand on this frontier at a turning-point in history. We must prove all over again whether this nation–or any nation so conceived–can long endure–whether our society–with its freedom of choice, its breadth of opportunity, its range of alternatives–can compete with the single-minded advance of the Communist system.

Can a nation organized and governed such as ours endure? That is the real question. Have we the nerve and the will? Can we carry through in an age where we will witness not only new breakthroughs in weapons of destruction–but also a race for mastery of the sky and the rain, the ocean and the tides, the far side of space and the inside of men’s minds?

Are we up to the task–are we equal to the challenge? Are we willing to match the Russian sacrifice of the present for the future–or must we sacrifice our future in order to enjoy the present?

That is the question of the New Frontier. That is the choice our nation must make–a choice that lies not merely between two men or two parties, but between the public interest and private comfort–between national greatness and national decline–between the fresh air of progress and the stale, dank atmosphere of “normalcy”–between determined dedication and creeping mediocrity.

All mankind waits upon our decision. A whole world looks to see what we will do. We cannot fail their trust, we cannot fail to try.

It has been a long road from that first snowy day in New Hampshire to this crowded convention city. Now begins another long journey, taking me into your cities and homes all over America. Give me your help, your hand, your voice, your vote. Recall with me the words of Isaiah: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary.”

As we face the coming challenge, we too, shall wait upon the Lord, and ask that he renew our strength. Then shall we be equal to the test. Then we shall not be weary. And then we shall prevail.

Thank you.

Citation: John F. Kennedy: “Address of Senator John F. Kennedy Accepting the Democratic Party Nomination for the Presidency of the United States – Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles,” July 15, 1960. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=25966.

OTD in History… July 12, 1984, Democrat Mondale chooses Geraldine Ferraro as his vice presidential running mate

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OTD in History… July 12, 1984, Democrat Mondale chooses Geraldine Ferraro as his vice presidential running mate

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: Getty Images

On this day in history July 12, 1984, Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale announces he chose Queens, New York Representative Geraldine A. Ferraro, 48 as his vice presidential running mate, the first time a woman was a nominee on a major party ticket. Mondale announced his running mate at the State Capitol in Saint Paul in his home state of Minnesota. Mondale lagging in the polls hoped that adding a woman to the ticket would boost his standing; he was considering both Ferraro and then San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein.

In his announcement, Mondale expressed, “I looked for the best Vice President and I found her in Gerry Ferraro…. This is an exciting choice.” Mondale emphasized his historic decision, saying, ‘’History speaks to us today. Our founders said in the Constitution, ‘We the people’ — not just the rich, or men, or white, but all of us. Our message is that America is for everyone who works hard and contributes to our blessed country.’’

Ferraro also noted the historical element of her nomination, stating, ‘’When Fritz Mondale asked me to be his running mate he sent a powerful signal about the direction he wants to lead our country. American history is about doors being open, doors of opportunity for everyone no matter who you are, as long as you ‘re willing to earn it. There’s an electricity in the air, an excitement, a sense of new possibilities and of pride.’’

The former vice president under Jimmy Carter faced a tough opponent in Republican incumbent Ronald Reagan and his running mate Vice President George H. W. Bush. Reagan rehabilitation of the economy from the recession and tough stance on Communism gained him favor with American voters as he could proudly say it was “It’s Morning Again in America.” The Mondale-Ferraro ticket would lose in the 1984 election to incumbent Reagan and Bush, where the Republican ticket won in the biggest landslide in American history, with Mondale only winning Minnesota.

It would take another 24 years for a woman to appear on a major party ticket when in 2008 Republican John McCain chose Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. McCain and Palin would lose to the Democratic ticket of Illinois Senator Barack Obama and Delaware Senator Joe Biden, where Obama became the first African American nominee and president in American history. In 2016, women would get closer, with the Democratic Party choosing former First Lady and 2008 candidate Hillary Clinton as their nominee for president, the glass ceiling broke more, but not enough, Clinton would win the popular vote but lose the Electoral College vote to Republican Donald Trump.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. She is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor, and a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

OTD in History… July 9, 1896, William Jennings Bryan delivers his Cross of Gold speech at the Democratic National Convention

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OTD in History… July 9, 1896, William Jennings Bryan delivers his Cross of Gold speech at the Democratic National Convention

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

 

On this day in history, July 9, 1896, William Jennings Bryan delivers his stirring Cross of Gold speech at the Democratic National Convention supporting bimetallism, which capitulated him to the Democratic Presidential nomination. Bryan’s was a leader in the free silver movement revered by the Populists and free silver Democrats, with his oratory skills he delivered one of the greatest speeches in American history at the convention as he advocated for free silver to be part of the Democratic platform. Bryan preached, “You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.” Until Bryan delivered his speech, he was not considered the frontrunner, but a dark horse for the nomination. Bryan won the nomination but lost the election to Republican William McKinley and the Battle of Standards. Bryan was ahead of his time, introducing widespread stumping to presidential campaigning with his rousing oratory, the Democratic Party would go back to Bryan as their nominee in 1900, and in 1908.

The Battle of the Standards, the gold standard or bimetallism using both silver and gold backing the currency was the major issue of 1896 campaign. After the Panic of 1893, the depression hit which bankrupted thousands of businesses and hundreds of banks. Republicans supported the Gold Standard while Democrats mostly supported the “coinage of silver.” Eastern Republicans supported high tariffs and protectionism as the primary way back to an economic recovery. While Agrarian populists in the South and West believed increasing the money in circulation would solve the country’s economic woes. Bryan was elected to Congress in Nebraska in 1890 as part of the Populist Party wave. Bryan’s oratory led him to become the leader of the Silver Democrats in Congress and convinced Nebraska Democrats to support the Populist Party in the 1894 midterm elections.

The Battle of standards became the primary issue of the 1896 presidential campaign. The battle also splintered the Democratic and Republican Parties, both of whom walked out of their respective conventions to form other parties. Silver Republicans formed the National Silver Party, and Gold Democrats formed under the National Democratic banner. At the Republican National Convention on June 16, in St. Louis, Missouri, the party declared in their platform “the existing gold standard must be preserved.” The Republicans nominated McKinley, a “Goldbug” convert, who staunchly supported the gold standard and called himself a “Tariff man.”

At the Democratic National Convention from July 7 to 11, in Chicago, Illinois, Bryan served as a delegate was determined that a silver plank is included in the party’s platform. Bryan delivered the electrifying “Cross of Gold” speech as part the debate, which is considered the most memorable address at a political convention.

Bryan rousing conclusion is remembered most:

“We have petitioned, and our petitions have been scorned; we have entreated, and our entreaties have been disregarded; we have begged, and they have mocked when our calamity came. We beg no longer; we entreat no more; we petition no more. We defy them . . . ! No, my friends, that will never be the verdict of our people. Therefore, we care not upon what lines the battle is fought. If they say bimetallism is good, but that we cannot have it until other nations help us, we reply that, instead of having a gold standard because England has, we will restore bimetallism, and then let England have bimetallism because the United States has it. If they dare to come out in the open field and defend the gold standard as a good thing, we will fight them to the uttermost. Having behind us the producing masses of this nation and the world, supported by the commercial interests, the laboring interests and the toilers everywhere, we will answer their demand for a gold standard by saying to them: You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold!”

The delegates could not stop cheering for an hour after Bryan’s speech and raising impromptu banners that read, “NO CROWN OF THORNS! NO CROSS OF GOLD!” The speech helped Bryan secure the nomination, and he was nominated on the fifth ballot, becoming at 36-years-old the youngest Presidential nominee in American history. Bryan refused to choose a Vice Presidential running mate, and let the delegates make the decision. Sixteen candidates vied for the position on the first ballot, eventually, Arthur Sewell of Maine won the Vice Presidential nomination the fifth ballot. The Populist Party decided to support Bryan’s nomination, endorsed the Democratic ticket, and fused with the Democratic Party.

Bryan took to the stump replicating his oratory skills, according to Paul F. Boller in his book Presidential Campaigns: From George Washington to George W. Bush, “Before the campaign was over Bryan had traveled 18,000 miles by train, made more than 600 speeches (sometimes ten or twenty a day), addressed five million people.” (Boller, 170) Bryan’s speeches resembled his Cross of Gold, with their “religious imagery and evangelical fervor.” Republicans backed by banks and industry took Bryan’s supposed lack of dignity in campaigning and attacked him personally and threatened farmers and workers of foreclosures and closed plants. McKinley with Mark Hanna’s direction mounted a vigorous front-porch campaign, where he delivered short speeches, while emissaries did the stumping.

Bryan’s Democrats surged in August only to fall by October with an economic rebound. A record number, 14 million Americans went out to the polls on November 5, giving 7,111,607 or 50.88 percent of the vote to McKinley and to 6,509,052 or 46.77 percent to Bryan, the difference in electoral votes was more glaring and decisive 271 to 176. There were geographical and economic differences in voter support. The Republicans garnered the “industrial North and Middle West as well as several states in the Far West,” “urban middle and upper middle classes,” and “urban laborers and the most prosperous farmers.” Bryan had the support of the “Solid South and the Plains and Mountain states,” “mostly poverty-stricken farmers” but also progressive minded reformers. (Boller, 170) McKinley would declare gold the monetary standard in 1900 but Bryan won with his new progressive vision of the Democratic Party using government to help the people, a vision that remains central to the Democrats’ core philosophy.

SOURCES AND READ MORE

Boller, Paul F. Presidential Campaigns: From George Washington to George W. Bush. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2004.

Glad, Paul W. Mckinley, Bryan, and the People. Chicago: I.R. Dee, Publisher, 1991.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. She is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor, and a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

 

William Jennings Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” Speech:

 

I would be presumptuous, indeed, to present myself against the distinguished gentlemen to whom you have listened if this were but a measuring of ability; but this is not a contest among persons. The humblest citizen in all the land when clad in the armor of a righteous cause is stronger than all the whole hosts of error that they can bring. I come to speak to you in defense of a cause as holy as the cause of liberty—the cause of humanity. When this debate is concluded, a motion will be made to lay upon the table the resolution offered in commendation of the administration and also the resolution in condemnation of the administration. I shall object to bringing this question down to a level of persons. The individual is but an atom; he is born, he acts, he dies; but principles are eternal; and this has been a contest of principle.

Never before in the history of this country has there been witnessed such a contest as that through which we have passed. Never before in the history of American politics has a great issue been fought out as this issue has been by the voters themselves.

On the 4th of March, 1895, a few Democrats, most of them members of Congress, issued an address to the Democrats of the nation asserting that the money question was the paramount issue of the hour; asserting also the right of a majority of the Democratic Party to control the position of the party on this paramount issue; concluding with the request that all believers in free coinage of silver in the Democratic Party should organize and take charge of and control the policy of the Democratic Party. Three months later, at Memphis, an organization was perfected, and the silver Democrats went forth openly and boldly and courageously proclaiming their belief and declaring that if successful they would crystallize in a platform the declaration which they had made; and then began the conflict with a zeal approaching the zeal which inspired the crusaders who followed Peter the Hermit. Our silver Democrats went forth from victory unto victory, until they are assembled now, not to discuss, not to debate, but to enter up the judgment rendered by the plain people of this country.

But in this contest, brother has been arrayed against brother, and father against son. The warmest ties of love and acquaintance and association have been disregarded. Old leaders have been cast aside when they refused to give expression to the sentiments of those whom they would lead, and new leaders have sprung up to give direction to this cause of freedom. Thus has the contest been waged, and we have assembled here under as binding and solemn instructions as were ever fastened upon the representatives of a people.

We do not come as individuals. Why, as individuals we might have been glad to compliment the gentleman from New York [Senator Hill], but we knew that the people for whom we speak would never be willing to put him in a position where he could thwart the will of the Democratic Party. I say it was not a question of persons; it was a question of principle; and it is not with gladness, my friends, that we find ourselves brought into conflict with those who are now arrayed on the other side. The gentleman who just preceded me [Governor Russell] spoke of the old state of Massachusetts. Let me assure him that not one person in all this convention entertains the least hostility to the people of the state of Massachusetts.

But we stand here representing people who are the equals before the law of the largest cities in the state of Massachusetts. When you come before us and tell us that we shall disturb your business interests, we reply that you have disturbed our business interests by your action. We say to you that you have made too limited in its application the definition of a businessman. The man who is employed for wages is as much a businessman as his employer. The attorney in a country town is as much a businessman as the corporation counsel in a great metropolis. The merchant at the crossroads store is as much a businessman as the merchant of New York. The farmer who goes forth in the morning and toils all day, begins in the spring and toils all summer, and by the application of brain and muscle to the natural resources of this country creates wealth, is as much a businessman as the man who goes upon the Board of Trade and bets upon the price of grain. The miners who go 1,000 feet into the earth or climb 2,000 feet upon the cliffs and bring forth from their hiding places the precious metals to be poured in the channels of trade are as much businessmen as the few financial magnates who in a backroom corner the money of the world.

We come to speak for this broader class of businessmen. Ah. my friends, we say not one word against those who live upon the Atlantic Coast; but those hardy pioneers who braved all the dangers of the wilderness, who have made the desert to blossom as the rose—those pioneers away out there, rearing their children near to nature’s heart, where they can mingle their voices with the voices of the birds—out there where they have erected schoolhouses for the education of their children and churches where they praise their Creator, and the cemeteries where sleep the ashes of their dead—are as deserving of the consideration of this party as any people in this country.

It is for these that we speak. We do not come as aggressors. Our war is not a war of conquest. We are fighting in the defense of our homes, our families, and posterity. We have petitioned, and our petitions have been scorned. We have entreated, and our entreaties have been disregarded. We have begged, and they have mocked when our calamity came.

We beg no longer; we entreat no more; we petition no more. We defy them!

The gentleman from Wisconsin has said he fears a Robespierre. My friend, in this land of the free you need fear no tyrant who will spring up from among the people. What we need is an Andrew Jackson to stand as Jackson stood, against the encroachments of aggregated wealth.

They tell us that this platform was made to catch votes. We reply to them that changing conditions make new issues; that the principles upon which rest Democracy are as everlasting as the hills; but that they must be applied to new conditions as they arise. Conditions have arisen and we are attempting to meet those conditions. They tell us that the income tax ought not to be brought in here; that is not a new idea. They criticize us for our criticism of the Supreme Court of the United States. My friends, we have made no criticism. We have simply called attention to what you know. If you want criticisms, read the dissenting opinions of the Court. That will give you criticisms.

They say we passed an unconstitutional law. I deny it. The income tax was not unconstitutional when it was passed. It was not unconstitutional when it went before the Supreme Court for the first time. It did not become unconstitutional until one judge changed his mind; and we cannot be expected to know when a judge will change his mind.

The income tax is a just law. It simply intends to put the burdens of government justly upon the backs of the people. I am in favor of an income tax. When I find a man who is not willing to pay his share of the burden of the government which protects him, I find a man who is unworthy to enjoy the blessings of a government like ours.

He says that we are opposing the national bank currency. It is true. If you will read what Thomas Benton said, you will find that he said that in searching history he could find but one parallel to Andrew Jackson. That was Cicero, who destroyed the conspiracies of Cataline and saved Rome. He did for Rome what Jackson did when he destroyed the bank conspiracy and saved America.

We say in our platform that we believe that the right to coin money and issue money is a function of government. We believe it. We believe it is a part of sovereignty and can no more with safety be delegated to private individuals than can the power to make penal statutes or levy laws for taxation.

Mr. Jefferson, who was once regarded as good Democratic authority, seems to have a different opinion from the gentleman who has addressed us on the part of the minority. Those who are opposed to this proposition tell us that the issue of paper money is a function of the bank and that the government ought to go out of the banking business. I stand with Jefferson rather than with them, and tell them, as he did, that the issue of money is a function of the government and that the banks should go out of the governing business.

They complain about the plank which declares against the life tenure in office. They have tried to strain it to mean that which it does not mean. What we oppose in that plank is the life tenure that is being built up in Washington which establishes an office-holding class and excludes from participation in the benefits the humbler members of our society. . . .

Let me call attention to two or three great things. The gentleman from New York says that he will propose an amendment providing that this change in our law shall not affect contracts which, according to the present laws, are made payable in gold. But if he means to say that we cannot change our monetary system without protecting those who have loaned money before the change was made, I want to ask him where, in law or in morals, he can find authority for not protecting the debtors when the act of 1873 was passed when he now insists that we must protect the creditor. He says he also wants to amend this platform so as to provide that if we fail to maintain the parity within a year that we will then suspend the coinage of silver. We reply that when we advocate a thing which we believe will be successful we are not compelled to raise a doubt as to our own sincerity by trying to show what we will do if we are wrong.

I ask him, if he will apply his logic to us, why he does not apply it to himself. He says that he wants this country to try to secure an international agreement. Why doesn’t he tell us what he is going to do if they fail to secure an international agreement. There is more reason for him to do that than for us to expect to fail to maintain the parity. They have tried for thirty years—thirty years—to secure an international agreement, and those are waiting for it most patiently who don’t want it at all.

Now, my friends, let me come to the great paramount issue. If they ask us here why it is we say more on the money question than we say upon the tariff question, I reply that if protection has slain its thousands the gold standard has slain its tens of thousands. If they ask us why we did not embody all these things in our platform which we believe, we reply to them that when we have restored the money of the Constitution, all other necessary reforms will be possible, and that until that is done there is no reform that can be accomplished.

Why is it that within three months such a change has come over the sentiments of the country? Three months ago, when it was confidently asserted that those who believed in the gold standard would frame our platforms and nominate our candidates, even the advocates of the gold standard did not think that we could elect a President; but they had good reasons for the suspicion, because there is scarcely a state here today asking for the gold standard that is not within the absolute control of the Republican Party.

But note the change. Mr. McKinley was nominated at St. Louis upon a platform that declared for the maintenance of the gold standard until it should be changed into bimetallism by an international agreement. Mr. McKinley was the most popular man among the Republicans ; and everybody three months ago in the Republican Party prophesied his election. How is it today? Why, that man who used to boast that he looked like Napoleon, that man shudders today when he thinks that he was nominated on the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. Not only that, but as he listens he can hear with ever increasing distinctness the sound of the waves as they beat upon the lonely shores of St. Helena.

Why this change? Ah, my friends. is not the change evident to anyone who will look at the matter? It is because no private character, however pure, no personal popularity, however great, can protect from the avenging wrath of an indignant people the man who will either declare that he is in favor of fastening the gold standard upon this people, or who is willing to surrender the right of self-government and place legislative control in the hands of foreign potentates and powers. . . .

We go forth confident that we shall win. Why? Because upon the paramount issue in this campaign there is not a spot of ground upon which the enemy will dare to challenge battle. Why, if they tell us that the gold standard is a good thing, we point to their platform and tell them that their platform pledges the party to get rid of a gold standard and substitute bimetallism. If the gold standard is a good thing, why try to get rid of it? If the gold standard, and I might call your attention to the fact that some of the very people who are in this convention today and who tell you that we ought to declare in favor of international bimetallism and thereby declare that the gold standard is wrong and that the principles of bimetallism are better—these very people four months ago were open and avowed advocates of the gold standard and telling us that we could not legislate two metals together even with all the world.

I want to suggest this truth, that if the gold standard is a good thing we ought to declare in favor of its retention and not in favor of abandoning it; and if the gold standard is a bad thing, why should we wait until some other nations are willing to help us to let it go?

Here is the line of battle. We care not upon which issue they force the fight. We are prepared to meet them on either issue or on both. If they tell us that the gold standard is the standard of civilization, we reply to them that this, the most enlightened of all nations of the earth, has never declared for a gold standard, and both the parties this year are declaring against it. If the gold standard is the standard of civilization, why, my friends, should we not have it? So if they come to meet us on that, we can present the history of our nation. More than that, we can tell them this, that they will search the pages of history in vain to find a single instance in which the common people of any land ever declared themselves in favor of a gold standard. They can find where the holders of fixed investments have.

Mr. Carlisle said in 1878 that this was a struggle between the idle holders of idle capital and the struggling masses who produce the wealth and pay the taxes of the country; and my friends, it is simply a question that we shall decide upon which side shall the Democratic Party fight. Upon the side of the idle holders of idle capital, or upon the side of the struggling masses? That is the question that the party must answer first; and then it must be answered by each individual hereafter. The sympathies of the Democratic Party, as described by the platform, are on the side of the struggling masses, who have ever been the foundation of the Democratic Party.

There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that if you just legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, that their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it.

You come to us and tell us that the great cities are in favor of the gold standard. I tell you that the great cities rest upon these broad and fertile prairies. Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic. But destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.

My friends, we shall declare that this nation is able to legislate for its own people on every question without waiting for the aid or consent of any other nation on earth, and upon that issue we expect to carry every single state in the Union.

I shall not slander the fair state of Massachusetts nor the state of New York by saying that when citizens are confronted with the proposition, “Is this nation able to attend to its own business?”—I will not slander either one by saying that the people of those states will declare our helpless impotency as a nation to attend to our own business. It is the issue of 1776 over again. Our ancestors, when but 3 million, had the courage to declare their political independence of every other nation upon earth. Shall we, their descendants, when we have grown to 70 million, declare that we are less independent than our forefathers? No, my friends, it will never be the judgment of this people. Therefore, we care not upon what lines the battle is fought. If they say bimetallism is good but we cannot have it till some nation helps us, we reply that, instead of having a gold standard because England has, we shall restore bimetallism, and then let England have bimetallism because the United States have.

If they dare to come out in the open field and defend the gold standard as a good thing, we shall fight them to the uttermost, having behind us the producing masses of the nation and the world. Having behind us the commercial interests and the laboring interests and all the toiling masses, we shall answer their demands for a gold standard by saying to them, you shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.

Source: Official Proceedings of the Democratic National Convention Held in Chicago, Illinois, July 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11, 1896, (Logansport, Indiana, 1896), 226–234. Reprinted in The Annals of America, Vol. 12, 1895–1904: Populism, Imperialism, and Reform (Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 1968), 100–105.

History Buzz August 20, 2012: Julian Zelizer: In convention speeches, history is made

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

In convention speeches, history is made

Source: CNN, 8-20-12

After losing the nomination to Gerald Ford, left, Ronald Reagan delivered an impromptu speech at the 1976 GOP convention.

After losing the nomination to Gerald Ford, left, Ronald Reagan delivered an impromptu speech at the 1976 GOP convention.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

    • Speeches are the highlight of each party’s political convention, says Julian Zelizer
    • Some speeches put forth ideas that shape the next generation of candidates, he says
    • Others eviscerate the opposition, permanently defining candidates and parties, he says
    • Zelizer: Some speeches inspire, others make instant stars, and others flop resoundingly

 

Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of “Jimmy Carter” and of the new book “Governing America.”

Now the party is really starting. Democrats and Republicans are preparing to gather to hold their conventions, each using this precious time to tell the nation what its presidential candidate is all about….

Without any more deal-making in smoke-filled rooms, speeches are the highlight of the convention. Even when speeches are made at conventions whose candidate winds up losing, they can offer ideas and rhetoric that become integral to the party for decades to come. A look back at history reveals that there are different types of speeches that we might see in the coming weeks, each with very different purposes and effect….READ MORE

Campaign Headlines August 12, 2012: Paul Ryan’s Pick Makes a Ticket of Historical Firsts

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Paul Ryan’s Pick Makes a Ticket of Firsts

Source: ABC News Radio, 8-12-12

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Mitt Romney’s announcement that Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan will be joining him on the Republican presidential ticket is being described as a “bold” move, with strategists arguing over whether the author of some controversial budget plans will help or hurt Romney in the long run.

But the choice of Ryan is also bold in other, perhaps subtler ways. Ryan’s addition to the ticket brings about a series of interesting firsts….READ MORE

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