North Carolina’s Tribute to President John F. Kennedy

Back in 2007, I wrote a brief post about the fundraising event held at Kenan Memorial Stadium for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.  Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the event—North Carolina’s Tribute to President John F. Kennedy for the benefit of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library.

Governor Terry Sanford with Hugh Morton and Andy Anderson during a John F. Kennedy Memorial Library Fundraising Committee meeting, 16 April 1964.

North Carolina Governor Terry Sanford with Hugh Morton and E. G. “Andy” Anderson (county chair from Martin County) during a John F. Kennedy Memorial Library Fundraising Committee meeting, 16 April 1964. Hugh Morton chaired the state’s committee. The governor posed for a portrait with each of the county chairs in attendance.  UNC Photo Lab photograph by Jerry Markatos.

Every spring for the past several years, I have pulled together a slideshow for UNC’s Alumni Reunion Weekend for visitors to watch during Wilson Library’s Saturday afternoon open house.  To create the slideshow, I go through the negatives in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Photographic Laboratory Collection (the UNC “Photo Lab”) for that particular year’s fiftieth anniversary class and select about 100 negatives to be scanned.  This year I came across a familiar face while surveying negatives made during the 1963-1964 academic year.  I used the above image in the slideshow, but not the one below.

Hugh Morton in conversation with then former Governor Luther Hodges, Jr.

Hugh Morton in conversation with former Governor Luther H. Hodges, Jr. (left) and an unidentified person in the Morehead Planetarium. On the far right is UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor William B. Aycock.  UNC Photo Lab photograph by Robert Arndt.

Hugh Morton was the chair of the state’s fundraising efforts—a logical choice given his highly successfully efforts to bring the USS North Carolina to Wilmington.  The North Carolina Collection holds a few items from the state’s tribute to JFK.  Within the Hugh Morton collection are several color slides made by an unknown photographer.  Five of these slides can be seen in the online Morton collection, as can three black-and-white photographs of Governor Terry Sanford and Hugh Morton presenting North Carolina’s $250,000 contribution to Jacqueline Kennedy on December 22nd.

There is a black-and-white image of Lyndon Baines Johnson with Governor Sanford examining a copy of the tri-fold pamphlet made to raise funds trough ticket orders to the event. The North Carolina Collection has copies of the flyer, the front cover of which seen below.

Flyer announcing North Carolina's Tribute to John F. Kennedy.

Flyer announcing North Carolina’s Tribute to John F. Kennedy. (North Carolina Collection)

The Daily Tar Heel, in its last issue of the year, gave a 50/50 chance that LBJ would be able to attend.  Newspaper articles from the Charlotte News and the Durham Morning Herald make no mention of LBJ being in attendance.  Currently we have this image categorized with those made during the tribute on May 17th, 1964.  I think, however, that that photograph is likely from a different event because, if you zoom in, you can see that Sanford is wearing a pin back button that says “MY BRAND’S LBJ”—hardly appropriate to wear during a tribute to JFK.

Also in the North Carolina Collection is a DVD copy of the 16mm film made about the day’s event as a gift for Jacqueline Kennedy.  Additionally, the North Carolina Collection also has two copies of the program from the event.  Copy two of this item also contains several letters and announcements to county chairmen from Hugh Morton.


Film of John F. Kennedy in the Morton collection

Battleship USS North Carolina Commission visit to the White House, 1961.

John F. Kennedy during a White House visit by a contingent of North Carolina politicians, 27 April 1961.  Left to right are Hargrove Bowles, Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Terry Sanford (front row) and B. Everett Jordan, Luther Hodges, and Sam Ervin, Jr.  Photograph by Hugh Morton.

On this fiftieth anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, A View to Hugh would be remiss without a post about Kennedy.  But what to write?  JFK has been mentioned or featured several times here, including “A Spark of Greatness,” a four-part series (the link is for part one) related to the presidential and North Carolina gubernatorial race for 1960, and “Memorial for JFK, May 1964” that tells of the ceremony at Kenan Memorial Stadium on 17 May 1964 and Hugh Morton’s chairing the statewide effort to raise funds for North Carolina’s contribution to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.

An underutilized portion of the Morton collection is the moving image holdings, which are quite extensive.  A View to Hugh, however, has yet to include a post that draws on any of the footage . . . until today.  The link below leads to about a minute of film (without sound) shot by Hugh Morton:

P081_MI_010001 Kennedy Sanford DC Med Res

On 27 April 1961 Morton, as chairman of the Battleship USS North Carolina Commission, made this motion picture footage while visiting President John F. Kennedy at the White House Rose Garden.  Morton was part of a delegation that included several North Carolinians: Hargrove “Skipper” Bowles, Jr., director of the state’s Conservation and Development Board; Governor Terry Sanford; United States Secretary of Commerce Luther H. Hodges (the state’s governor prior to Sanford) and United States senators B. Everett Jordan and Sam Ervin, Jr.  The footage shows Sanford presenting Kennedy with the first “admiral” certificate in the “North Carolina Navy” as part the fundraising effort to bring the mothballed WWII-era battleship USS North Carolina from New Jersey to Wilmington, N. C.  Admirals would be those who donated $100 or more to the effort.

In reality, it was a different framed item altogether.  The certificate wasn’t back from the printer in time, so a framed item from the office of White House Press Secretary Pierre Salinger served as a surrogate.  Oddly enough, the stand-in certificate was for Salinger’s admiralty in a Flagship Fleet.  Kennedy burst into laughter when he caught the substitution.

"Kennedy, Sanford, Give Boost to Trade Event," News and Observer, 28 April 1961, page 1.

“Kennedy, Sanford, Give Boost to Trade Event,” News and Observer, 28 April 1961, page 1.

The larger mission at hand was planning for North Carolina’s Autumn International Trade Fair, then thought likely to be held in Charlotte in October later that year.  According to Roy Parker, Jr.’s article the following day in Raleigh’s News and Observer, Kennedy “took time from a fast-paced schedule to promote the fair.” After leaving a top-level National Security Council meeting, Kennedy met briefly with the group inside his office before they stepped outside to the Rose Garden.  Kennedy said a few non-committal words of endorsement for the exposition (you can listen to a brief recording from the Kennedy Library website) after Sanford invited Kennedy to attend, because Kennedy would be speaking at UNC Chapel Hill during its University Day celebration on October 12th.

It would seem the battleship commission presentation took place moments after the trade fair promotion.  The News and Observer also published a photograph of that presentation, which appeared on page 38.

Kennedy Named N. C. Admiral

“Kennedy Named N. C. Admiral,” (Associated Press article), News and Observer, 28 April 1961, page 38.

The Kennedy Library website also has two photographs of the noontime occasion: Presentation of a certificate to President Kennedy from Governor Terry Sanford and Senators Sam Ervin, Jr. and B. Everett Jordan of North Carolina, 12:12PM.  In the photograph with Morton on the right, he is turned inward to the group so you cannot see his face.  Another photograph of the group, without Morton, can be seen at East Carolina University’s Joyner Library, part of its Daily Reflector negative collection.


Election coverage

David Brinkley covering Nixon/Kennedy election

Copy slide of television coverage of Nixon/Kennedy election, in New York City, NY. NBC News Anchors Chet Huntley (left) and David Brinkley (right) were on the air nonstop for over 12 hours from their NBC News Headquarters at "30 Rock" in downtown Manhattan. Photographer of original image is unknown.

It is Election Day in the United States of America—which also means its election coverage day, too, although there’s no guarantee that will last fewer than twenty-four hours.  As you might expect, there are some historically relevant images in the Hugh Morton collection.  Two undated Ektachrome copy slides of photographs by an unknown photographer(s) depict the NBC newsroom set during coverage of the 1960 election between Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy.  Were these NBC promotional photographs?  This is likely a long shot, but does anyone know who the photographer(s) was?  David Brinkley was a native of Wilmington, N.C, which is likely why Morton made the copy slides for some unknown reason.  Maybe he made them for the “This Is Your Life, David Brinkley” slide presentation on January 7, 1971 mentioned in the book Making a Difference in North Carolina?  Over to you, Chet . . . .

David Brinkley and Chet Huntley on NBC newsroom set during Nixon/Kennedy election coverage

NBC News Anchors Chet Huntley (left) and David Brinkley (right) on the set at NBC News Headquarters during their coverage of the 1960 Nixon/Kennedy election. This image is from a copy slide in the Morton collection, and the photographer of original image is unknown.

An even earlier election-results image likely comes from the 1956 North Carolina gubernatorial campaign.  Two WUNC television cameras train their lenses on Luther Hodges.  The blackboards make an interesting comparison to the high-tech graphics we will be viewing this evening!  Does anyone recognize the location?

1956 North Carolina Election Results

WUNC-TV cameras focus on Luther H. Hodges standing before blackboards with various electoral results recorded on them, probably in the 1956 state elections. Standing on the left is Jim Reid, WPTF Radio announcer and sports broadcaster. On the right is former WPTF Radio broadcaster and UNC Professor Wesley Wallace.

And on a concluding note . . . if you haven’t already . . .

Vote today automobile

Cropped view of an automobile with "Junior Chamber of Commerce, Vote Today!" banner and megaphone on Princess Street, Wilmington, N. C. street. The license plate date is 1948, and the Odd Fellows Building is in the background. Click on the image to see the scene without cropping.

Now that Charlotte is in the distance

Charlotte from Grandfather Mountain

Hugh Morton's favorite photograph of Charlotte, as seen from near the Mile High Swinging Bridge on Grandfather Mountain approximately 87 air miles away. Morton made the photograph in mid-December after a cold front had cleared the air, providing some very rare visibility.

Last week, the city of Charlotte was the “front and center” of the American political scene as it hosted the 2012 Democratic National Convention.  As the event approached, I had the natural inclination to turn to Hugh Morton’s coverage of past Democratic conventions for a timely blog post . . . but quickly remembered that we had already done that shortly after the party selected Charlotte.

If you find yourself wanting more Democratic convention politics now that the show has left town, you may want to revisit previous posts on the topic here at A View to Hugh.  For starters, try Rob Christensen’s essay “Hugh Morton Among the Movers and Shakers” for an overview of Hugh Morton’s role in North Carolina’s political scene.  Then choose from any or all of these offerings related to the Democratic National Convention:

Queen Elizabeth II, Sir Walter Raleigh

The year 2012 is the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II, whose accession to the throne of seven independent Commonwealth countries on February 6, 1952 arose upon the death of her father, King George VI.  Queen Elizabeth’s coronation did not occur, however, until on June 2, 1953.  The jubilee thus far has been marked with various celebrations during the past several months.  This Saturday, June 2, 2012 is the first day of “The Central Weekend”—a four-day series of events that will surely make the news.

Luther Hodges presents statue of Sir Walter Raleigh to Qeen Elizabeth II

Elizabeth II’s first visit to the United States as queen occurred between October 16th and 22nd, 1957—and as you might have deduced by now, Hugh Morton photographed the queen during her trip.  On Saturday October 19th, the University of North Carolina football team played the University of Maryland at Byrd Stadium in College Park, and Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip attended the game.  North Carolina Governor Luther Hodges represented the state and presented the queen with a small trophy of Sir Walter Raleigh.  A dozen photographs from the day can be seen in the online collection.  The photograph shown here is slightly different, however, than the image in the online collection.  Both images appear to have been made within a few seconds of each other; the negative frame depicted here is the version that appears (although cropped) in the chapter on Hodges in Hugh Morton and Edward Rankin, Jr.’s book Making a Difference in North Carolina.

Another interesting tidbit about this photograph is that Charlotte Observer published an AP photograph made at nearly the very same moment—and from the perspectives of the two photographs, both photographers may have been standing directly next to each other with the AP photographer to Morton’s left, thus revealing a bit more of Hodges’s face.  Charlotte Observer photographer Don Sturkey, whose collection is also part of the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, also covered the event.  One of Sturkey’s photographs that appeared in the Sunday edition of the newspaper had a caption that helped me identify some people previously listed as unidentified in the images.

Morton’s photographs, on the other hand, may not have appeared in any of the next day’s newsprint.  In addition to the Charlotte Observer, I made a quick check of the News and Observer, the Winston-Salem Journal, and Wilmington’s Morning Star-News.  During the preceding days of that week, Morton may have been traveling with Hodges and a delegation of North Carolinians seeking business prospects in New York City.  Morton served as the chair of the State Advertising Committee under Governor Hodges.  There is a group of undated photographs in the Morton collection that may have been made during that New York City trip, and if Morton was photographing at Byrd Stadium in that capacity on their return to Raleigh, then his images of Queen Elizabeth were likely made to serve a purpose other than news photography.

While working on this post, I was able to identify one other person who appears in one of the photographs: University of North Carolina president William Friday, who would become one of Hugh Morton closest friends.

Another presidential visit to UNC

John F. Kennedy at UNC speaking in Kenan Stadium on University Day, October 12, 1961

John F. Kennedy speaking in Kenan Stadium, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, on University Day, October 12, 1961

There is a buzz around the UNC Chapel Hill campus with today’s visit of President Barack Obama.  The line to enter Carmichael Arena already wraps from the entrance eastward along the playing fields to Country Club Road and then back westward along South Road. I suspect Hugh Morton would have been here with cameras in hand, just as he was for President John F. Kennedy’s visit on University Day on October 12, 1961 and President Bill Clinton speech during UNC’s bicentennial on University Day of October 12, 1993.  I got my ticket yesterday so I could make photographs for the collection during the “Remarks by President Obama” event.  I’m sure Hugh Morton would have been closer to the dais than I’ll be.

To mark today’s occasion, here’s an impressive list (with click-able links to images) of United States presidents—eventual, current, or past—photographed by Hugh Morton:

Two notes: the photograph of President Bush may be an asterisk.  Morton received the Roosevelt Award for Conservation from the president that day.  If he is the person onstage behind the president who is mostly obscured, then someone made the photograph.

Who am I? . . . Presidential Style

United States Capitol, Inauguration Day 1941?

United States Capitol, Inauguration Day 1941?

I stumbled upon today’s topic while searching for an anniversary around which I could build a blog post.  April 12th is the anniversary of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s’ death in 1945, so I searched the online collection, wondering if I might find something related to FDR.  What turned up are three negatives depicting what looks like a presidential inauguration, but the description for the event provided a possible time span of several years—between Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman presidencies.  (There is a fourth negative, of people in the crowd, but it hasn’t been scanned.)  This makes for a perfect opportunity to see if we can collectively narrow down that range, or even get the specific date.

To start things off, I’m guessing that the event is Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s third inauguration in 1941 and here’s why:  it’s sunny.

OK, there’s a little more to it than that!

Here are the clues I’ve discovered thus far:

  • The negative film stock is Agfa Superpan Press. (The words “Agfa Superpan Press” are on the bottom edge of the negatives.)  Some background: according to a history of Ansco by William L. Camp, photographic manufacturers Ansco (United States) and Afga (Germany) merged in January 1928 and operated under the corporate name Agfa Ansco.  The company introduced Superpan Press, the first ultra-high-speed sheet film, in 1938.
  • FDR’s first inauguration on March 4th, 1933 predates Superpan Press, photographs of the event depict the capitol building more elaborately decorated with garlands, and Hugh Morton would have turned twelve years old just a couple weeks beforehand.
  • It rained on the 1937 inauguration.  A total rainfall of 1.77 inches fell on a cold day.  Between 11 am and 1 pm, 0.69 inches of rain fell with a noon temperature of 33°F.  Superpan Press would have been helpful on a gray day like that!  (Want to know more about past inauguration days weather?)  One fact that could support—or be a red herring—is that Hugh Morton went to Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va. before attending UNC in the fall of 1939.
  • It was sunny on Inauguration Day 1941.  29 degrees with a brisk wind chill of 10°F.
  • Agfa’s American assets seized during WWII and become part of Ansco in 1941.  In 1945, Agfa reemerges as a separate company in Germany.
  • Agfa Ansco dropped “Agfa” from its corporate name in January 1944, so it’s not likely that “Agfa” remained on its film stock much after this date.  (This probably also rules out Truman’s inauguration.)
  • It snowed on January 20th, 1945, and FDR gave his speech on the south portico of the White House, (and Hugh Morton was in South Pacific!).

As a side note, resolving the background of these corporate histories and their film stocks would probably be useful when identifying images based upon dating film type.

The clincher for identifying the year may reside in automotive history.  Can anyone identify the vehicles in the photograph?  If so, we might have the pièce de résistance!

2012 Democrats to convene in Crown Town

We have to thank, once again, Jack Hilliard for today’s post. . . . “Thanks again, Jack!”

What is one thing the following cities have in common?:

  • Chicago, Illinois,
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Atlantic City, New Jersey
  • Miami Beach, Florida

How about a hint?  Next year Charlotte, North Carolina can be added to the list.

The answer: each of the four cities listed above has hosted the Democratic National Convention—and Hugh Morton photographed all four.

Adlai Stevenson supporters in crowd at the 1956 Democratic National Convention held at the International Amphitheatre in Chicago, Ill.

Adlai Stevenson supporters in crowd at the 1956 Democratic National Convention held at the International Amphitheatre in Chicago, Ill.

Next September 3rd, when the 46th Democratic National Convention gavels to order in Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena, the party’s presidential nominee will most likely already be known.  That wasn’t the case, however, back in 1956 when the Democrats gathered in Chicago.  Adlai Stevenson of Illinois, who had been the party’s presidential candidate in 1952, was again selected on the first ballot getting about 66% of the votes, but the real fireworks came when he asked the delegates to selected the candidate for vice president.  Thirteen names were offered, including Luther Hodges of North Carolina.  But in the end, two candidates were seriously considered: Estes Kefauver of Tennessee and John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts.  It took two ballots for Kefauver to gain the nomination.  As was the case in 1952, the Republicans swept the general election with Eisenhower and Nixon.

	Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy accepting presidential nomination at the 1960 Democratic National Convention.

Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy accepting presidential nomination at the 1960 Democratic National Convention at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. (Photograph cropped by editor.)

A few days before the 1960 convention opened in Los Angeles, John F. Kennedy, the leading candidate, received two new challengers when Lyndon B. Johnson, the powerful Senate majority leader from Texas, and Adlai Stevenson II, the party’s nominee in 1952 and 1956, announced their candidacies.  But in the end, neither Johnson nor Stevenson could match the talented Kennedy team headed by Robert Kennedy.  Giving one of John Kennedy’s nominating speeches was Duke University President and future North Carolina Governor Terry Sanford.  JFK won on the first ballot gaining 53 percent of the voting delegates, and went on to defeat Richard Nixon in the close 1960 general election.

Supporters of Lyndon Baines Johnson holding a large balloon at 1964 Democratic National Convention.

Supporters of Lyndon Baines Johnson holding a large balloon reading "N. Carolina for LBJ" at 1964 Democratic National Convention, held in Atlantic City, N.J.

The 1964 convention, held in Atlantic City, was a little more cut and dried.  The favorite going in was incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had been Kennedy’s vice president and became president in November of 1963 following Kennedy’s assassination.  Johnson was selected by acclamation.  The ’64 convention took place less than a year after John Kennedy’s assassination and on the final day of the gathering, Robert Kennedy introduced a film in honor of his brother’s memory.  When Robert Kennedy appeared on the convention floor, the delegates erupted in twenty-two minutes of uninterrupted applause, causing him to break into tears.  LBJ soundly defeated Barry Goldwater in the 1964 general election.

Politicians at podium during the 1972 Democratic National Convention.

Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, U.S. Senators George McGovern, Henry Jackson, and Edmund Muskie, then-Duke University president Terry Sanford. (Photograph cropped by editor.)

Eight years later, the Democrats gathered in Miami Beach for their 36th convention.  The convention itself turned out to be one of the most unusual political events in recent history.  A solid 57 percent of the delegates selected George McGovern of South Dakota as their presidential candidate, but the selection for vice president turned out to be somewhat of a joke.  Seventy-seven people were nominated for the position.  Some of the more famous names were Jimmy Carter, Shirley Chisholm, Ted Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy.  There was a group of North Carolinians on the ballot including Skipper Bowles, Jim Hunt, Terry Sanford, and Nick Galifianakis.  Then there was the list that included Dr. Benjamin Spock, CBS-TV anchor Roger Mudd, and “Joe Smith,” the fictitious character from the 1956 Republican convention.  In the end, Thomas Eagleton of Missouri was selected as the vice presidential candidate.  When it was disclosed that Eagleton had undergone mental health treatment (including electroshock therapy), he withdrew and was replaced on the ballot by Sargent Shriver.

Shirley Chisholm at the 1972 Democratic National Convention

Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, the first major-party black candidate for President of the United States and the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination, at the 1972 Democratic National Convention, held at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photograph cropped by editor.)

The 1972 convention prime time sessions began in the early evenings and lasted until the wee hours, and the bizarre vice presidential balloting caused McGovern’s acceptance speech to begin at 3:00 a.m. (EDT).  The unorthodox behavior of the Democratic National Convention delegates was “rewarded” by voters in the November, 1972 general election.  The party’s nominees lost in the worst landslide in US history.

It is expected that the Queen City hosting the 2012 convention will generate more than 150 million dollars for Charlotte and surrounding metropolitan areas, and will bring in more than 35,000 delegates and special guests.  It will be the kind of event that Hugh Morton would have attended and documented in his own special way.

Charlotte, Noth Carolina circa 1970s-1980s

Charlotte, North Carolina circa 1970s-1980s

A Spark of Greatness, part 4

Today is the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, which A View to Hugh commemorates with the fourth and final installment of “A Spark of Greatness.” Using photographs by Morton, Edward J. McCauley, and Don Sturkey, “A Spark of Greatness” highlights some of the key events that led to Kennedy’s campaign visit to the Tar Heel State in September 1960. The story presented in A View to Hugh draws from contemporary newspaper accounts and the book Triumph of Good Will, John Drescher’s account of the gubernatorial contest between Terry Sanford and I. Beverly Lake that preceded Kennedy’s visit.

As the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial candidate, Terry Sanford believed that John F. Kennedy would win North Carolina in the 1960 presidential election, but to do so Kennedy would need to campaign in the state. As the Raleigh News and Observer reported on July 15th, 1960, Sanford “told newsmen he is sure that when Kennedy goes to North Carolina, ‘as he will,’ he will convince voters that he has a spark of greatness.”

The North Carolina delegates’ caucus that followed the formal nomination emphasized not only the need for vigorous campaigning in the state, but also a personal appearance by Kennedy. Kennedy did indeed campaign in North Carolina; perhaps just as importantly, as John Drescher notes, Sanford “made Kennedy’s campaign his campaign.”

There are many photographs of Kennedy’s daylong campaign tour in North Carolina in the North Carolina Collection by Hugh Morton, Burlington’s Daily Times-News photographer Edward McCauley, and Don Sturkey, chief photographer of the Charlotte Observer. Sturkey’s photograph of Kennedy, U.S. Congressman Herbert C. Bonner, and Terry Sanford riding in a convertible approaching the football stadium at the Eastern Carolina University in Greenville may be the quintessential photograph that captured that “spark of greatness” reflected by the enthusiasm of onlookers chasing the motorcade. Ironically, this image did not appear in the Observer’s coverage of Kennedy’s campaign swing through the state. (Morton and McCauley’s photographs can be seen by clicking on the links above. Sturkey’s photographs are not available online; the link, however, leads to the collection’s finding aid.)

John F. Kennedy campaigning in North Carolina. Copyright Don Sturkey, 1960.

Photograph copyright Don Sturkey, 1960.

After Richard M. Nixon’s nomination for president on the Republican ticket, pollster Lou Harris showed Nixon ahead of Kennedy in North Carolina by a margin of two-to-one. A month after Kennedy’s campaign swing through the state on September 17th, another Harris poll had Kennedy ahead fifty-one percent to forty percent. On election day, Kennedy won North Carolina with fifty-two percent of the vote.

Fast forward to January 20th, 12:51 P.M—the time Kennedy began his inaugural address. Among its memorable passages, Kennedy observed, “The world is very, very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life.” And among the memorable accomplishments of Terry Sanford during his governorship was the North Carolina Fund, Sanford’s innovative initiative to address the state’s dire poverty.

A Spark of Greatness, part 3

This is the third post on the story behind John F. Kennedy’s campaign visit to the Tar Heel State in September 1960, drawn from newspaper accounts and the book Triumph of Good Will, John Drescher’s account of the gubernatorial contest between Terry Sanford and I. Beverly Lake that preceded Kennedy’s visit. There’s an interesting story that photographs by Hugh Morton and other photographers in the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives can help tell. In light of the silver anniversary of that momentous campaign, and during the anniversary month of Kennedy’s assassination, I’ll be contributing a series of posts touching on that pivotal time in North Carolina and the nation.

Sanford chose Kennedy.

Sanford’s decision was a bombshell, and the reaction in North Carolina was explosive. Sanford made his decision while vacationing in Myrtle Beach after his run-off victory over I. Beverly Lake. When Sanford informed Robert Kennedy of his decision, John Kennedy was thrilled and he wanted Sanford to make one of the nominating speeches at the Democratic National Convention (DNC). Sanford, mindful of that his decision would not be popular with many North Carolinians, was reluctant. “Don’t do me any favors,” Sanford told Robert Kennedy. “He really needs you,” Robert Kennedy told Sanford. At the wishes of the Kennedy campaign, Sanford delayed announcing his decision until the Saturday before the DNC in Los Angeles in order to supply a boost to the Kennedy campaign going into the convention. Sanford also agreed to deliver a nomination speech, as seen below (photograph cropped by author).

Fifty-four North Carolina delegates cast their votes for Johnson; by comparison, only eleven Tar Heel delegates sided with Sanford to back Kennedy. North Carolina’s most prominent delegates were Lyndon B. Johnson supporters, including incumbent governor Luther Hodges (who had his sights on the vice presidential nomination) and United States Senator Sam Ervin Jr., seen below holding the Wednesday, July 13th night edition of the Los Angeles Herald Express.  In contrast to the larger headline stating Kennedy was slipping, a smaller headline above the two photographs reads, “‘Solid South’ is Wavering.”

How daring was Sanford’s decision? Sanford’s support of Kennedy was an important symbolic victory for Kennedy because Sanford was a southerner willing to support a presidential candidate from outside the south. Sanford broke what most thought would be a solid bloc of southern support for Johnson. But Sanford’s decision may have been even more critical facing his upcoming race for the governorship. Back home the response was often vitriolic, so much so that Sanford and his fellow North Carolina Kennedy delegates came to be dubbed the “Dirty Dozen.”