On this day in 1972: In one of the most memorable phrases of the Watergate hearings, Sen. Sam Ervin refers to himself as “just an old country lawyer.”
Sen. Edward Gurney, a Florida Republican, accused Democrat Ervin of “harassment” in his persistent questioning of Maurice Stans, chief fund-raiser for President Nixon’s reelection campaign.
“I’m just an old country lawyer,” Ervin replied. “I have to do things my way.”
On this day in 1974: Having set off an Elvis-level ticket-buying frenzy, Bob Dylan makes his first visit to Charlotte at a time when Watergate is threatening the Nixon presidency.
Reports the Observer’s Polly Paddock from the original Charlotte Coliseum: “The high point of the night had to come with ‘It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding).’ When he reached the prophetic line, ‘Even the president of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked,’ Dylan’s fans went wild.”
“When the [Senate Watergate Committee’s] report failed to single out the President, [Chairman Sam Ervin explained] that it was possible to draw a picture of a horse in two ways. You could draw the picture with a very good likeness. Or you could draw the picture and write under it, ‘This is a horse.’ Well, said Ervin, ‘We just drew the picture.’
“In this… Ervin was a product of his culture, for John Randolph of Roanoke, while making a sinister implication against President Adams in 1826, had said: ‘I do not draw my pictures in such a way as to render it necessary to write under them, “This is a man, this is a horse.” ‘ ”
–– From “The Natural Superiority of Southern Politicians” (1977) by David Leon Chandler
Pictured: Pinback button produced by Ervin’s admirers during the Watergate hearings.