There’s church, there’s state and there’s Billy Graham

On this day in 1971: H.R. “Bob” Haldeman, chief of staff for President Nixon (referred to as “the P”), writes in his diary about evangelist Billy Graham:

“This afternoon the P got into a little harangue on IRS investigations, saying that he had been told by Billy Graham that the IRS is currently investigating him. . . . The P wants now to be sure that we get the names of the big Democratic contributors and get them investigated. Also the Democratic celebrities and so forth.”

The entry is one of many that portray Graham, longtime counselor of presidents, in a more political than spiritual light. Haldeman also reports Graham’s being used as an emissary to potential rival George Wallace and former President Lyndon Johnson and discussing with Nixon “the terrible problem arising from the total Jewish domination of the media.”


Slavery over? Not for blacks drafted for road gang

On this day in 1865: The Raleigh Daily Standard reports on what may be the state’s first road gang, organized under the military government immediately following the Civil War:

“The military on yesterday picked up a large number of gentlemen of color, who were loitering about the street corners, apparently much depressed by ennui and general lassitude of the nervous system, and, having armed them with spades and shovels, set them to play at street cleaning for the benefit of their own health and the health of the town generally.

“This is certainly ‘a move in the right direction’ for the indolent, lazy Sambo, who lies about in the sunshine and neglects to seek employment by which to make a living, is undoubtedly ‘the right man in the right place’ when enrolled in the spade and shovel brigade.”