VP Sanford? How serious was JFK?

“[Robert] Caro’s best but most controversial piece of evidence [that Lyndon Johnson would be replaced on the 1964 ticket] is the 1968 book by JFK’s former secretary, Evelyn Lincoln.

“Lincoln wrote that in mid-November of 1963 JFK said at her desk that ‘there might be a change in the ticket.’

“A week later, JFK told Lincoln that he was thinking about North Carolina Gov. Terry Sanford, she recalled, adding that the president told her: ‘But it will not be Lyndon’…

Tom Lambeth, a Sanford gubernatorial aide,  recalled last week that he heard the chatter. He even said he can think back to the day he picked up another Sanford aide, Skipper Bowles (the father of Erskine) at the airport after Bowles had been to the White House.

“ ‘Bowles said something about the idea that Terry might be the VP,’ Lambeth recalls.

“But Lambeth, now 77, said neither Sanford nor Sanford’s staff thought it would come to fruition….”

— From “Caro revives Kennedy-Johnson feud” by Jonathan Martin and John F. Harris at Politico (May 13, 2012)

Golden and Sandburg tout ‘a young fellow from Boston’

“By the end of the 1960 campaign Golden had made more than 50 speeches supporting a Kennedy presidency. When speaking to Jewish audiences in California, Golden was joined by Carl Sandburg, in Hollywood at the time serving as a consultant on a film. The two men on the stump together were a bit of genius.

” ‘I played the impresario by keeping him in the wings,’ Golden explained. He introduced his friend with a flourish: ‘I brought you a bonus — Carl Sandburg!’ Sandburg usually drew a standing ovation. The cheers would break out anew when the older man [Sandburg] paused and — as if he had just thought of the phrase — declared, ‘We are just a couple of North Carolina boys plugging for a young fellow from Boston who will make us a good president.’ ”

— From “Carolina Israelite: How Harry Golden Made Us Care about Jews, the South, and Civil Rights” by Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett (2015)


He paid high price for being a Communist

On this day in 1954: Junius Scales, head of the Communist Party in the Carolinas, is arrested by the FBI and charged under the 1940 Smith Act with membership in an organization advocating violent overthrow of the government. Scales, a longtime resident of Chapel Hill, is a scion of a prominent Greensboro family — both his father and grandfather were state senators.

Scales will be convicted at his trial in Greensboro and sentenced to six years in prison. In 1961, after an unsuccessful appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, Scales (who resigned from the Communist Party in 1957, soon after the Soviet invasion of Hungary) begins serving his sentence at the federal penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pa. On Christmas Eve 1962 President John Kennedy frees Scales, the only American to spend time in prison for being a Communist, by commuting his sentence to parole on his own recognizance.


Welcome, Mr. President — how ’bout those ditches!

When the 44th president speaks at Bank of America Stadium, will he say something memorable? The record of his predecessors is an interestingly mixed bag.  Can you can identify the presidents or future presidents who made these comments on their visits to Charlotte?

1. “I have seen the denuding of your forests, I have seen the washing away of your topsoil, I have slid into the ditch from your red clay highways.”

2. “Every four years, the Republican candidate or his supporters comes down to North Carolina, Texas or some other Southern state and warns the Democrats in this section of the United States that they have been abandoned by the national party.”

3. “I regret that some people in this country have disparaged and demeaned the role of the homemaker. I say — and say it with emphasis and conviction — that homemaking is good for America.”

4. “Because of our young men and women in uniform, things really have changed around the world. You know, America used to wear a ‘Kick Me’ sign around its neck. Well, we threw that sign away. Now it reads, ‘Don’t Tread on Me.’ ”

5. “This will have a lot of subsidiary good benefits. For example, it’s doing those white folks up there a world of good to sing in a choir like that. That may be a racially insensitive, politically incorrect remark, but having spent countless hours of my life in Baptist church choirs, I do know what I am talking about… I can’t believe I said that.”

6. “The world today, although joined physically by a few hours of flight or by an instant in telecommunications, is further apart in idea, in political belief, in basic philosophy, than it ever was — even before the discovery of the Western World.”

I’ll append the answers tomorrow.

And here they are:

1. Franklin D. Roosevelt at “Green Pastures” rally (Sept. 10, 1936).

2. Sen. John F. Kennedy at campaign rally (Sept. 17, 1960).

3. Gerald Ford at state convention of Future Homemakers of America (March 20, 1976).

4. Ronald Reagan at campaign rally for Sen. Jim Broyhill (Oct. 28, 1986).

5. Bill Clinton at first joint meeting of Progressive National Baptist Convention and Alliance of Baptists (Aug. 9, 1995).

6. Dwight D. Eisenhower at Freedom Celebration Day (May 18, 1954).


Scientist of white supremacy takes a last shot

On this day in 1962: An “open letter” advertisement in the New York Times urges President John F. Kennedy to delay implementation of recent Supreme Court school desegregation decisions until “Biology of the Race Problem,” a new book by Wesley Critz George, can be introduced as evidence.

Gov. John Patterson of Alabama has commissioned George, retired head of the department of anatomy at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, to write a scientific defense of white supremacy.

George’s book will be remembered by some as “the last stand” of pseudoscientific racism.

Billy Graham on JFK: Religion is relevant issue

“Pausing in Geneva while preparing for his two-month crusade in Switzerland and West Germany, Evangelist Billy Graham plunged into U.S. politics by announcing that religion — meaning John F. Kennedy’s Roman Catholicism — was a legitimate issue in the campaign and would be decisive in the outcome. ‘A man’s religion cannot be separated from his person,’  said North Carolina Baptist Graham. ‘The religious issue is deeper than in 1928 [when the Democratic nominee was Al Smith, a Catholic]. People are better informed today.’

“Protestants might be hesitant to vote for Kennedy, Graham added, because the Roman Catholic Church is ‘not only a religious but also a secular institution, with its own ministers and ambassadors.’ ”

— From Time magazine, August 29, 1960

In Charlotte, JFK suffered wedding-bell blues

On this day in 1940: John F. Kennedy, on the verge of graduating from Harvard and writing the best-selling “Why England Slept,” visits Charlotte for the wedding of an old girlfriend.

Frances Ann Cannon, a member of the well-known textile family, marries John Hersey, future author of “Hiroshima.” Kennedy dated Miss Cannon for a year and may even have asked to marry her. She was Protestant and he Catholic, however, and her family took her on an around-the-world tour to discourage the romance.

The wedding is at White Oaks, the James B. Duke mansion. Beforehand, Kennedy wrote a friend that “I would like to go but I don’t want to look like the tall slim figure who goes out and shoots himself in the greenhouse half-way through the ceremony.”