Monday, October 7, 2019

Hoosier Imperialist: Albert J. Beveridge

On September 16, 1898, at Tomlinson Hall in Indianapolis, a Hoosier lawyer and would-be politician opened the election season for the Republican Party by addressing an issue the entire country had been pondering: Should the United States become an imperial power by maintaining control of such countries as Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines captured in the Spanish-American War? Such prominent voices as writer Mark Twain counseled against such foreign adventures, but for staunch imperialist Albert J. Beveridge, it was America’s destiny to see its flag fly throughout the world.

In what came to be known as “The March of the Flag” speech, Beveridge, selected by the Republican-controlled Indiana General Assembly for election to the U.S. Senate in 1899, pointed out that if England and Germany could govern “foreign lands,” so could America. Also, distance and oceans were no impediment to the march of the flag. “We cannot fly from our world duties; it is ours to execute the purpose of a fate that has driven us to be greater than our small intentions,” Beveridge told his audience. “We cannot retreat from any soil where Providence has unfurled our banner; it is ours to save that soil for liberty and civilization.”

Although known during his early senatorial career as an advocate on behalf of U.S. economic growth, Beveridge later supported the progressive measures pushed by the progressive wing of his party, including stricter control of big business by the federal government, pure food laws, the direct primary, and leading the fight against child labor in the nation’s factories. Losing his seat in the Senate in 1911 when the Democrats took control of the Indiana legislature, Beveridge joined Theodore Roosevelt’s insurgent Progressive (Bull Moose) Party, delivering the keynote address at the party’s national convention. Beveridge ran as the Progressive candidate for Indiana governor in 1912, but finished second, losing to Democratic candidate Samuel M. Ralston. Beveridge tried to regain his Senate seat in 1914 and 1922 but failed in both contests.

Born on a farm in Highland County, Ohio, Albert was the child of Frances Eleanor and Thomas Beveridge, a Union army veteran whose venture as the owner of a general store in Level, Ohio, ended in bankruptcy, forcing the family to move to Illinois. As a young man Albert held a series of jobs, including helping to build a railroad, clerking in a post office, and as a teamster for a lumber company. Encouraged by a teacher, however, Beveridge decided to pursue a career in law. “Lawyers were the biggest men in our own and neighboring counties,” he recalled, “and they were regarded as a very superior type of human being.”

After graduating from high school in 1881, Beveridge attended Indiana Asbury University (renamed DePauw University in 1884), earning a reputation as a gifted orator and becoming a fixture in the library, where he read such authors as William Shakespeare, Robert Burns, Charles Dickens, and William Makepeace Thackeray. “I would be willing to go to hell,” Beveridge told a fellow student, “if I could make a reputation as great as that of Napoleon.”

In the fall of 1884 Beveridge took a month off from school to campaign for GOP candidates in the state, winning for him the title “young man eloquent” from the Indianapolis Journal. “I was a partisan Republican of that white hot kind that in those days resulted from being the son and brother of Union soldiers,” said Beveridge, who spoke in other states as well. After graduating from DePauw in 1885 with a bachelor of philosophy degree, he read law in the Indianapolis firm McDonald, Butler and Mason and also served as a clerk in the Republican-controlled Indiana House. Shortly before being admitted to the bar, Beveridge, on November 24, 1887, married his college sweetheart, Kate Maude Langsdale; she died in 1900 and in 1907 he married Catherine Eddy and the couple had two children.

Beveridge left the McDonald, Butler and Mason firm to start his own practice in 1899. His firm prospered and he became active in a variety of civic organizations, including the Commercial Club, Young Men’s Christian Association, the Indianapolis Art Association, and the Indianapolis Literary Club. These associations, and his skill as a speaker, won the attention of GOP leaders, who offered Beveridge the nomination as the Republican candidate in 1894 for the state’s attorney general position—an offer he declined. “It is firing off my gun too soon,” he noted. “I think there may be something higher ahead for me—but I shall not care even for that unless I can [do] good for my country—good in the better and nobler sense.”

In 1899, with Republicans in control of the Indiana legislature, Beveridge had his chance to gain a higher office, that of U.S. senator. Young friends of his who had been active in the Republican Party rallied around his candidacy over that of better-known, and older, candidates, including J. Frank Hanly, Robert S. Taylor, and George W. Steele. When he heard rumblings of discontent about his being too young (thirty-six at the time) for such a high office, Beveridge told a friend to remind his opponents that Thomas Jefferson had been only thirty-three when he wrote the Declaration of Independence, Alexander Hamilton was thirty-two when he became Secretary of the Treasury, and Henry Clay was only thirty when he joined the U.S. Senate.

After numerous rounds of balloting by the eighty-nine GOP members of the legislature on January 10, Beveridge captured the nomination, and he was formally elected by the general assembly on January 17, 1899. “Appreciation is a poor word for the honor that you have conferred upon me,” he said in remarks at the Statehouse following the balloting, “obligation does not adequately describe the duty which your kindness has placed upon me.”

Reelected to the Senate in 1905, Beveridge made his mark as a progressive with his support of two key pieces of legislation. Reacting to the unsanitary practices in the meatpacking industry exposed by Upton Sinclair’s 1906 novel The Jungle, Beveridge sponsored the Meat Inspection Act. Alarmed by the harm it might do to the country, he also campaigned vigorously in the Senate for a bill that banned the interstate commerce of goods made by child labor. “When these children grow up and understand they are ruined for life,” he told a friend, John C. Shaffer, “there is developed the classes which we all fear and have reason to fear.”

Thwarted in his political career by the 1912 election that saw Democrats win control of the Indiana legislature and Woodrow Wilson capturing the presidency, Beveridge decided to pursue writing a biography of John Marshall, chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1801 to 1835. The project resulted in a four-volume work published by the Houghlin Mifflin Company to glowing reviews and gaining for Beveridge the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography in 1920. He turned next to another anticipated four-volume biography, this one on the life of Abraham Lincoln.

Beveridge’s death on April 27, 1927, however, saw him only up to the 1858 debates between Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas. Historian Worthington S. Ford finished the work on Beveridge’s behalf, and it was published in two volumes in 1928 by Houghton Mifflin. Thanks to a contribution from Beveridge’s widow, Catherine, the American Historical Association in 1939 established the Albert J. BeveridgeAward to promote and honor outstanding historical writing.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Indiana State Capitol

Shortly after the end of the 1875 Indiana legislative session, a state senator, Andrew J. Boone, died at his home in Lebanon, Indiana. The death of this one lawmaker was of more than usual concern to his constituents and fellow legislators because some argued that Boone’s fatal illness was due to the structure where state’s laws were being made—the Indiana State Capitol.

The original Indiana Statehouse, constructed in 1830 at a cost of approximately $60,000, had deteriorated enough over the years that one representative, Richard R. Stephenson of Hamilton County, likened the building to the “Black Hole of Calcutta.”

A New State House Committee, appointed by the general assembly in 1873, had warned lawmakers that the building was “totally inadequate to the public service.” Something had to be done before more legislators were felled by the structure’s leaky roof, poor ventilation, and crumbling walls.

On March 14, 1877, the Indiana General Assembly finally acted to rectify the situation, approving an act authorizing the construction of a new statehouse at a cost not to exceed $2 million. Despite losing the original architect for the project, Edwin May, who died only a few years after work had started, construction on the new state capitol, an example of the Renaissance Revival style, was completed on October 2, 1888, at a total expense of $1,980,969, well within the state’s original budget. The statehouse, with architecture reminiscent of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., remains the seat of Indiana’s government, serving as home to the House of Representatives, Senate, Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and a host of state agencies and offices. Thanks to an approximately $11 million restoration projected completed in time for the building’s 1998 centennial, today’s Hoosiers can walk through its skylighted, marble-topped corridors and marvel at the structure’s classic features.

Of course, as with many government-sponsored projects, erecting such a stately edifice took plenty of time and generated a great deal of paperwork. Overseeing the building of the new statehouse in 1877 was a five-member Board of State House Commissioners, which consisted of the governor and two members of each political party. The commission engaged the services of an architect, civil engineer, and builder to examine four designs for the new capitol that had been received by the state prior to March 1877. They were to judge if the designs could be completed according to plans and specifications within the $2 million limit, whether dangers from fire were sufficiently guarded against, if ample provisions were made for safely heating the building, and if the materials of the superstructure were “in kind and quality such as to insure stability and permanence.”

All the plans were rejected for not meeting the requirements imposed by the commissioners. As well as ridding itself of old plans, the board had to clean its own house, firing its secretary, W. C. Tarkington, in January 1878 because he attempted to influence the selection of a design for which he would receive money.

Hoping to spark some ideas, the commissioners visited Springfield, Peoria, and Chicago, Illinois; Hartford, Connecticut; Lansing, Michigan; Washington, D.C.; and Cincinnati, Ohio, to examine their public buildings. Thus armed, the commissioners held an open competition for the statehouse design and received twenty-four plans. On April 11, 1878, the board accepted the design submitted by May, a Boston native who had come to Indiana in 1840 and was known for his work on the Northern Indiana Prison at Michigan City and county courthouses in Allen, Decatur, Hamilton, and Knox Counties. May called his plans for the capitol “Lucidus Ordo,” Latin for “a clear arrangement.” For his work, May was to receive 2 percent of the building’s cost as his fee.

Although the project was delayed for a bit due to lawsuits brought by architects whose designs failed to win the competition, construction bids were finally opened by the commissioners on August 15, 1878. The contract was awarded to Kanmacher and Denig of Chicago, and work began on the new building that fall. The cornerstone, a ten-ton block of Indiana limestone inscribed with “A.D. 1880,” was laid in ceremonies on September 28, 1880. Along with a keynote address by Governor Thomas Hendricks, poet Sarah Bolton read a piece she had written for the occasion. The public took such a keen interest in the project that there were several accidents at the site, as well as incidents of people damaging materials and interfering with work. To halt the problems, the board ordered the statehouse grounds close to the public.

A bigger problem had occurred in February 1880 when May, who was in Jacksonville, Florida, recuperating from an illness, died. To keep the project running smoothly, the commissioners appointed Adolph Scherrer, who had been working by May’s side for the past seven years, as supervising architect for the new statehouse. The commissioners also had to find a new contractor when, in 1883, Kanmacher and Denig had trouble with its Chicago financier. New bids were solicited for the building, and the commissioners awarded the contract to Elias F. Gobel and Columbus Cummings of Chicago.

The Indiana General Assembly held its first session in the new statehouse on January 6, 1887, but work continued at the site until September 1888. The Board of State House Commissioners concluded its work and closed its accounts on October 2, 1888.

Through the years, the statehouse underwent extensive renovations to bring it up to modern conditions. During that time, much of the building’s original character was lost. In 1986 the legislature approved funding to return the building to its 1888 appearance in time for its centennial. The restoration, under the direction of Indianapolis’s Cooler Group, Inc., included stripping, painting, and decorating with the original 1886 designs approximately four acres of plaster walls and ceilings; using approximately 1,500 gallons of paint to re-create the original plans and refinish the area above the rotunda; cleaning approximately 124,500 square feet of interior marble and limestone; and removing 2,920 two-feet-square pieces of marble floor so that new electrical wiring could be installed.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Robert L. Sherrod and the Two Flags on Iwo Jima

Located just 700 miles south of Tokyo, Iwo Jima (“Sulphur Island”) posed a threat to American B-29 Superfortress bombers on their way to missions over Japan. A radar station on the island gave the home islands two hours warning of approaching raids, and fighters on its two airfields sometimes harassed U.S. bases in the Marianas. The U.S. Marine Corps was tasked with taking the island to provide bases for long-range P-51 fighters to escort the huge U.S. bombers and permit damaged B-29s to land there in case of emergencies.

On February 19, 1945, Time correspondent Robert L. Sherrod, as he had on previous occasions, accompanied the marines as they fought to take a heavily defended enemy outpost in the Pacific. Sherrod set foot on Iwo Jima’s coarse, volcanic-ash beach late on the afternoon of the first day of combat with fifteen officers and men of the Twenty-Fourth Marine Regiment, Fourth Marine Division. The correspondent spent two days on the island, where, among the American fighting men, as Admiral Chester Nimitiz said, “uncommon valor was a common virtue,” before returning to his transport to write his stories of a “very hot beachhead” for Operation Detachment. 

On February 23, after spending two days on the USS Bayfield, Sherrod was ready, “and moderately willing,” to return to Iwo Jima. For his trip, he hitched a ride with Major General Clifton B. Cates, Fourth Marine Division commander, on a Landing Ship, Medium (LSM), as the surf had turned too rough for Higgins boats to navigate safely ashore. “Weather today again stormy, cold, prohibits much landing of supplies. . . . Choppy, mean water,” Sherrod wrote in the notebook he always carried with him into battle. Soon after the craft was under way, Sherrod heard someone yell, “Look, they’ve got the flag up on Mount Suribachi!”

Sherrod and Cates looked up and saw the Stars and Stripes atop the extinct volcano, which the correspondent described as resembling “an inverted, slightly melted” ice-cream scoop. “Tears welled in the eyes of several Marines as they watched the little flag fluttering in the breeze,” Sherrod said. The correspondent jotted down in the notebook: “Approaching control boat. Can see troops standing on Suribachi and flag flying.” Sherrod remembered seeing General Cates look at the flag and commenting, “I’m glad—Keller Rockey [the Fifth Marine Division commander] is a fine fellow.” Sherrod noted that Cates made his comment as though he believed the capture of Suribachi signaled the end of the battle, and he had missed it.

Cates was mistaken—there were still plenty of Japanese left on the island, and the 70,000 marines who took part in the fighting endured additional suffering before organized resistance ended on March 25. “Iwo Jima took a long time; it was to seem like centuries before it was over,” said Sherrod. Among those who gave their lives on the island was Sergeant Ernest Thomas, the leader of a detachment from Third Platoon, Company E, Twenty-Eighth Marines that had fought its way up the steep slopes of Suribachi to raise the first flag, a twenty-eight by fifty-four-inch banner brought to Iwo Jima from the attack transport USS Missoula and attached to a Japanese pipe found on the mountain’s summit. A marine combat cameraman, Sergeant Louis Lowery, had joined the patrol and was able to take photographs of the stirring scene. “It was a dramatic moment. It seemed that we could do anything if we could capture that vertical monstrosity at the south end of Iwo,” said Sherrod.

Sherrod made it ashore at 12:30 p.m. on February 23 and conferred with General Rockey at his command post, joined there by Major General Harry Schmidt. The executive officer of the Twenty-Eighth Marines, Robert H. Williams, briefed the generals about conditions on the island’s southern end, and received congratulations on capturing Suribachi. “It wasn’t so tough,” Williams said, “there wasn’t a great deal of opposition after we got past the guns at the base of the mountain.” As he continued walking toward Suribachi, Sherrod stopped to talk with an officer who lamented the failure to capture any Japanese prisoners. “Before we blow a cave we give them a chance,” noted Colonel Harry Liversedge. “We send an interpreter up to the cave and he tells the Japs they’ll be well treated if they surrender. They never do.”

With several other correspondents, including John Lardner of The New Yorker, who had been with him in Australia earlier in the war, Sherrod intended to climb the 556 feet to the top of Suribachi, but “it was late in the afternoon and the way was steep for old newsmen in their thirties.” Sherrod never made it to the mountain’s summit until a year and a half later, via Jeep, and did not know at the time that the first flag had been replaced by a larger, second flag. “Nearly everyone on the island faced northward, away from Suribachi,” he explained.

In addition to reporting on the fighting on Iwo Jima, described by General Holland Smith as “the most savage and costly battle in the history of the Marine Corps,” with every third man who landed either killed or wounded, Sherrod found himself engulfed in another controversy. On this occasion, it involved what is today considered the iconic image of World War II—Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal’s shot of a group of six Marines raising the flag atop Suribachi, actually the second flag to be placed on the mountain. A marine colonel had sent one of his men to get a larger flag from one of the ships on the beach to replace the first—a flag large enough, he said, so “that the men at the other end of the island will see it. It will lift their spirits also.”

Sherrod initially believed that Rosenthal’s image had been posed and Lowery had been cheated of proper credit for his work. Sherrod even cabled Time on March 13 that the planting of the flag “didn’t quite happen that way and the historical picture was a post facto rehearsal.” (Rosenthal always correctly maintained that his image had not been posed, and even noted that if he had purposely posed the shot, “I would, of course, have ruined it. I’d have picked fewer men. . . . I would also have made them turn their heads so that they could be identified for AP members throughout the country, and nothing like the existing picture would have resulted.”)

Sherrod noted he “could not have been more wrong” about Rosenthal posing the photograph and was embarrassed about his error for years to come. Still, he believed that the “implications of Rosenthal’s picture were all wrong.” Sherrod noted that Iwo Jima had not been a matter of “climbing the parapet and heroically planting the flag there.” Instead, he reflected after the war, it had been a “tortuous, painful slogging northward on the pork chop-shaped island, which eventually cost us 6,821 killed and 19,217 wounded. Suribachi was a symbol, and it was nice to have our flag up there, but the action—and the horror—was elsewhere.”

Sherrod left Iwo Jima on March 9 on Turner’s flagship, USS El Dorado, and managed to write several stories about his experiences on the island before docking at Apra Harbor in Guam forty-nine hours later. While on Guam, Sherrod became embroiled in a dispute about the photograph Rosenthal had made of the second flag being raised on Suribachi. The first flag to fly over the mountain had been carried to the top, and met with Japanese resistance, by a forty-man combat patrol under the command of First Lieutenant Harold G. Schrier, who had been ordered to seize and occupy Suribachi’s crest by Colonel Chandler W. Johnson. When the patrol reached near the top, it engaged in a firefight with the enemy. While the skirmish still raged, some of the marines found a Japanese iron pipe to which they could secure the American flag, and picked the highest spot on which to raise it. “We found a water pipe, tied the flag to it and put it up,” recalled Corporal Charles W. Lindberg. “Then all hell broke loose below. Troops cheered, ships blew horns and whistles, and some men openly wept. It was a sight to behold . . . something a man doesn’t forget.”

On the beach below, General Smith saw the flag flying atop Suribachi, and later called it one of the “proud moments of my life.” Standing next to Smith was Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal, who had accompanied the invasion forces. Forrestal turned to the general and said, “Holland, the raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next 500 years.” The entire operation had been captured on four rolls of Eastman film by Lowery, a photographer for the marines’ Leatherneck magazine, who had accompanied the patrol and, after the flag raising, had broken his camera diving away from a grenade thrown at him by a Japanese soldier.

On his way down from the mountaintop, Lowery came across a marine resupply patrol bringing a larger flag taken from LST 779 (a flag previously salvaged from the attack on Pearl Harbor) to replace the smaller flag flying over Suribachi. Trudging uphill with the patrol were three photographers—a civilian, Rosenthal of the AP, and two marine photographers, Sergeant Bill Genaust, a motion picture cameraman (later killed on Iwo Jima), and Private Bob Campbell, a still photographer. “Rosenthal stopped me as I was heading toward the ship with my film,” Lowery said. “He asked if anything was happening up on the mountain. I told him a small flag had been raised and there was talk that another patrol was taking off with a larger flag, to replace the first one.” Rosenthal asked Lowery if he should continue to the top, and he responded by nothing that he believed “there were good shots to be had because you could see almost the whole beach, with a panorama of the ships and equipment below.” Rosenthal thanked Lowery and resumed his climb. He later noted that he did not “have any thought that there would be a second flag raising. Didn’t know it until I got to the top.”

As the trail steepened near the summit, Rosenthal said that his group’s “panting progress slowed to a few yards at a time. I began to wonder and hope that this was worth the effort, when suddenly over the brow of the topmost ridge we could spy men working with the flagpole they had so laboriously brought up about a quarter of an hour ahead of us.” When the marines began to raise the second flag atop Suribachi, Rosenthal shouted out a warning to Genaust that it was going up and, as he later recalled, “swung my camera around and held it until I could guess that this was the peak of the action, and shot.”

With one click of the shutter, he caught an image that won him the Pulitzer Prize for photography, became a symbol for a national war-loan drive, appeared on a postage stamp, and served as the model for the Marine Corps War Memorial next to the National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia (dedicated on November 10, 1954). A decade after he had taken the photograph, Rosenthal said that out of all the elements that went into making the image, the part he played had been the least important. “To get that flag up there, America’s fighting men had to die on that island and on other islands and off the shores and in the air,” Rosenthal reflected. “What difference does it make who took the picture? I took it, but the Marines took Iwo Jima.”

One of the first to see Rosenthal’s flag-raising image, First Lieutenant Jack Bodkin, a naval picture editor on Guam and an AP photo editor in civilian life, recognized immediately how powerful it would become, saying, “Here’s one for all time,” before transmitting the photograph to San Francisco for publication in the United States. Rosenthal left Iwo Jima and arrived at Guam on March 4. There he saw, for the first time, his flag-raising photograph. Previously, when news had spread that his photograph had become widely popular in the United States, appearing on front pages in newspapers across the country, Rosenthal had not known which one of the eighteen photographs he had taken was the one winning all the glory. He even wondered if it could be the posed “gung-ho” image he had taken of the marines gathered around the flag waving their helmets and weapons.

Unfortunately, the attention Rosenthal had garnered for his photograph of the second flag raising caused the photographer who had taken images of the first flag on Suribachi to wonder how his work had been upstaged. On Guam, Lowery questioned what had happened to his photographs and took his complaints to Sherrod. The correspondent’s publication, Time, had led its March 5 issue with Rosenthal’s flag-raising photograph, but editors at Life, particularly executive editor Daniel Longwell, were suspicious about the authenticity of Rosenthal’s photograph, said Sherrod, believing it to be a posed shot, and decided not to run it in their magazine. “Since I was still on Iwo, I didn’t yet know of these decisions,” said Sherrod. “I didn’t even know the flag’s picture had been taken.”

According to Sherrod, Lowery was “more than lukewarm under the collar” about failing to receive the proper credit for photographing the first flag raising. The correspondent said that Lowery described Rosenthal’s photograph as “grand photographically but, in a fashion, historically phony, like Washington crossing the Delaware.” (The famous painting by Emanuel Leutze, Washington Crossing the Delaware, had been painted from models on the Rhine River many years after the American Revolution.) As someone who had supported the marines in his writing, and shared dangers with them, it is not hard to believe that Sherrod chose to support Lowery’s story and attempted to right what he perceived to be a wrong.

Years later, however, Sherrod conceded he should have been more careful in accepting a version of events from “a man who was boiling mad” and bitter about his work being seemingly ignored. The correspondent made another mistake in believing rumors he heard on Guam that Rosenthal had become so famous that he had already returned to the United States to embark on a lecture tour; the AP photographer did not leave the American base until March 15. (Sherrod subsequently received some criticism from his fellow correspondents for his failure to talk directly to Rosenthal about his suspicions.)

On March 13 Sherrod cabled to Time that the planting of the flag made famous by Rosenthal’s photograph “didn’t quite happen that way, and the historic picture was a post facto rehearsal. The flag—a medium-sized flag—was actually planted atop Mount Suribachi at 10:30 February 23rd (dog plus four). Photographer Joe Rosenthal of Associated Press climbed the mountain that afternoon and took his excellent picture of a larger flag being raised. At the same time he took a posed picture of a group of marines standing together around the flag waving their hands like Miami chorus girls posing for newsreels.” 

Sherrod suggested the situation should make for a good feature layout in Life, showing Rosenthal’s “really great picture on one hand, then showing what really happened on the other,” by using the images Lowery took of the first flag raising. He also provided a timeline for how the first flag raising happened, including the names of the combat patrol from the Twenty-Eighth Marines, as well as caption information provided to him by Lowery for thirty-two of the fifty-six images he had taken on the mountain.

Two days later, in another cable to his magazine, Sherrod noted the story would not make Time or Life popular with the AP, “naturally, so handle it carefully. To clarify: Rosenthal didn’t arrange to have the larger second flag carried up the mountain—he just went along.” In a March 17 cable Sherrod also called the second flag raising “unquestionably genuine,” but added that in his opinion, the famous picture taken by Rosenthal was posed, but that depended on “the definition of posed and whether anything that is genuine can be posed. I would say that it was posed, but the incident itself was perhaps not rigged. The point is made here that a flag-raising is not supposed to be a battle scene—it is a postbattle ceremony. That is correct.” He also wanted people to know that what Rosenthal had captured had not been the original flag raising on Suribachi, as that honor belonged to Lowery.

Luckily for Sherrod, neither Time nor Life published any of his suspicions about Rosenthal’s work—a fact for which he was later grateful. Unfortunately for him, and for his employer, and unknown to the correspondent at the time, his allegations about the image being bogus were broadcast by Time’s weekly radio service, Time Views the News, on WJZ radio in New York on March 13. The broadcast cited a cable from Sherrod as the basis for its declaration that the AP photographer’s “great picture was a whiz photographically but historically it was slightly phony. Rosenthal climbed Suribachi, after the flag had already been planted. . . . Like most photographers, Rosenthal could not resist re-posing his characters in heroic fashion. He posed them and snapped the scene.”

AP officials were, unsurprisingly, displeased about having its photographer’s integrity questioned, and threatened a million-dollar lawsuit if Life dared print any story repeating the claims made by Time Views the News; on March 17 the program broadcast a correction and apology to the AP and Rosenthal, and said it had misunderstood Sherrod’s cable. Although Longwell still had doubts about Rosenthal’s photograph, he noted: “The great thing was that the country believed in that picture, and I just had to pipe down.”

In its March 26, 1945, issue, Life finally published Rosenthal’s photograph, what it called “one of the most talked-about pictures of the war,” also including in its story about it Leutze’s Washington Crossing the Delaware and Lowery’s image of the first flag raising on Iwo Jima. The story also included information supplied by Sherrod that war historians should note that at other heights on the island the Lone Star flag of Texas and a Confederate flag “were raised in pictorially unrecorded and spontaneous bursts of enthusiasm.”

Sherrod noted that his editors never informed him about AP’s protest, and he did not learn of it until twenty years later while lunching in New York with Alan J. Gould, a former top executive with AP. He acknowledged he “went a bit overboard” and also apologized to Rosenthal and AP. Still, he considered Rosenthal’s renowned photograph as “the salon painting of World War II.”

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Theodore Dreiser: Reporter

During the Christmas season of 1891, a young man from Indiana working as a bill collector for a Chicago installment-plan firm decided to seek employment as a reporter, conceiving of newspapers “as wonderlands in which all concerned were prosperous and happy.” He sought inspiration for his career change from the writings of Chicago Daily News columnist Eugene Fields.

Scanning the help-wanted advertisements in the Chicago Herald, the Hoosier spied a listing asking for a “number of bright young men” to assist in the newspaper’s business department during the holidays to distribute gifts to needy children. Hoping that the position might be an entrée into journalism, Theodore Dreiser jumped at the chance to work for the newspaper.

Although this initial step into journalism failed to lead to a reporting job with the Herald, Dreiser, then twenty-one-years old, remained determined to “shake off the garments of the commonplace in which I seemed swathed and step forth into the public arena, where I could be seen and understood for what I was.” To achieve this goal, he saw connecting himself with a newspaper to be “the swiftest” route to fulfilling his dreams. Eventually, Dreiser obtained work as a reporter with the Chicago Daily Globe, which, in turn, led to jobs with newspapers in Saint Louis, Toledo, Cleveland, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and New York.

Born on August 27, 1871, in Terre Haute, Indiana, Theodore was the ninth of ten surviving children of Johann Paul and Sarah Schänäb Dreiser. Before the family lived in Terre Haute, it had enjoyed some financial success in the wool business in Sullivan, Indiana, where Johann worked as a foreman at the Sullivan Woolen Mills. After an 1866 fire destroyed the mill, Johann was seriously injured by falling timber during construction of a new mill. The injury, coupled with an economic depression in America in the 1870s, resulted in long stretches of poverty for the Dreiser family. Theodore remembered his early years as “one unbroken stretch of privation and misery.”

Through the years, the Dreiser family lived in a succession of Indiana towns. While living in Warsaw, Indiana, Theodore attended high school and won the favor of a teacher, Mildred Fielding, who encouraged his fascination with books and writing. He left Warsaw at age sixteen for Chicago, where he found work in a variety of low-paying jobs, including dishwasher and a stock boy at a hardware company. His former teacher Fielding, who taught in a nearby suburb, found Dreiser and offered to pay for his education at IndianaUniversity in Bloomington. Dreiser enrolled at IU in the fall of 1889, but only stayed a year.

Dreiser returned to Chicago and worked driving a delivery wagon for a laundry at $8 a week and served as a bill collector before deciding he wanted to become a reporter. After his initial attempt at employment with the Herald failed, Dreiser began to haunt the various offices of the city’s newspapers seeking employment. Luckily for Dreiser, John Maxwell, a copyreader for the Chicago Daily Globe, gave the young writer a chance, making him one of the extra correspondents the paper used to cover the 1892 DemocraticNational Convention. Dreiser’s perseverance paid off with a full-time job with the newspaper following the convention.

Although he had at first anticipated “comfortable salaries” for his work, Dreiser learned that beginners “were very badly served” when it came to wages. Still, his early promise as a journalist—especially his colorful feature writing for the paper’s Sunday supplement on such subjects as the city’s slum dwellers—caught the attention of the newspaper’s editors. Daily Globe city editor John T. McEnnis urged Dreiser to seek advancement at a better newspaper. McEnnis recommended Dreiser to the Saint Louis Globe-Democrat, and in late October 1892 he left Chicago for Saint Louis.

A visit from his successful actor/songwriter brother Paul Dresser soon had Dreiser thinking of moving to New York. Leaving St. Louis, Dreiser worked his way across the country at various newspapers from Toledo to Pittsburgh. In Toledo, he made friends with Toledo Blade editor Arthur Henry, who later encouraged Dreiser to write his first novel, Sister Carrie. Covering a streetcar strike while in Toledo, Dreiser found his sympathies lay with the workers. He later used his experience reporting on the strike for Sister Carrie.

Arriving in New York, Dreiser found work with Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World, but discovered he was to be paid by the amount of copy he produced. Wandering through the city’s numerous boroughs on assignment, Dreiser observed that everywhere there seemed to be “a terrifying desire for lust or pleasure or wealth, accompanied by a heartlessness which was freezing to the soul, or a dogged resignation to deprivation and misery.” Although he wished to abandon journalism for the life of a writer, Dreiser still needed a dependable salary. His brother’s connection to a music publishing company helped Dreiser earn a job as editor of the firm’s monthly magazine called Ev’ry Month.

One of the contributors Dreiser used for Ev’ry Month was his old friend Henry of Toledo, who continued to pester Dreiser about writing a novel. Visiting Henry in Ohio in the summer of 1899, Dreiser produced a number of successful short stories. Henry also prodded his friend to begin writing a novel. “He began to ding-dong about a novel,” Dreiser recalled. “I must write a novel. I must write a novel.” Perhaps to silence Henry’s urgent appeals, Dreiser took pen to paper in September 1899 and wrote a title for the projected work: Sister Carrie.

Although it was through his work as a novelist that Dreiser achieved fame with such controversial, realistic fiction through the years as Jennie Gerhardt, The Financier, The Titan, and An American Tragedy, his journalism career proved to be crucial for his writing. Reflecting on time as a reporter for an interview in 1911 following the publication of Jennie Gerhardt, Dreiser indicated that his work on newspapers furnished him with a keen “insight into the brutalities of life—the police courts, the jails, the houses of ill repute, trade failures and trickery.” He added that the seamy surroundings were not depressing, but wonderful. “It was like a grand magnificent spectacle,” Dreiser said.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

War in the Ice and Fog: The Invasion of Kiska

As more than 30,000 American and Canadian troops prepared to take on the Japanese garrison of approximately 9,500 on Kiska in the Aleutian Islands in a campaign codenamed Operation Cottage, Robert L. Sherrod, a correspondent for Time magazine, recalled that the greatest puzzle on the eve of the scheduled August 15, 1943, landing was: Where were the Japanese?

On a July 22 bombing raid against Kiska, American pilots had drawn heavy anti-aircraft fire from the enemy and photographs they took while flying at “deck level” showed several Japanese soldiers crouching at their gun positions. After that mission, there had been several bombing raids, but not “a living soul has been seen (new [air]crews have reported seeing some figures, have also reported light ack-ack, but new crews always see things where veterans do not),” Sherrod said.

The absence of the enemy from aerial photographs drew quite a bit of amused speculation throughout the Aleutians. One American staff officer, according to Sherrod, said that Japanese officers on Kiska had shot all of their enlisted men and had been taken off by submarines, while others joked about enemy submarines with the capability of evacuating a thousand men at one time. Not-quite-serious rumors circulated that the Japanese possessed a secret weapon that made troops and equipment disappear. Some U.S. military officials gave the enemy credit for being experts at camouflage, figuring they had withdrawn to the mountains with their weapons to make a determined stand against any invasion. They were quick to point out that before the operation to retake Attu Island from the Japanese a pilot had returned from a flight over the island and confidently reported: “Everything has disappeared from Attu except one Jap and one blue fox.” The pilot had been very wrong—there were plenty of the enemy left on the island to oppose the American landings on Attu.

Sherrod traveled to Kiska with the invasion fleet, which consisted of more than a hundred warships, on the USS Pennsylvania. Also onboard the battleship was a U.S. Marine Corps officer Sherrod came to know well during the Pacific War, Major General Holland “Howlin’ Mad” Smith, an expert on amphibious warfare who had helped train the Seventh Division for its landing on Attu. Described by Sherrod as sometimes talking “like [actor] Wallace Beery in the role of a Marine general,” Smith was the father of modern U.S. amphibious warfare and had earned his nickname by being “always demanding and often profane.”

After a diversionary landing on Kiska’s Gertrude Cove at the island’s southern edge, plans called for the main landings to be on a beach at the far western end. Smith, however, was convinced that there were no Japanese on Kiska, and had called for a patrol to be sent prior to the invasion to see if he was right. The marine general had also arranged with a P-38 fighter pilot to remove the radio from his aircraft so Smith could “fly piggy-back with him from Amchitka to Kiska, where I could make reconnaissance of the island and ascertain the situation for myself.”

Unfortunately, the pilot backed out of the arrangement, and Smith never made his flight. En route to the island, said Sherrod, the marine general had kept “grumbling that the whole operation would turn out to be a farce because the Japanese had escaped. Else why didn’t they shoot at our B-25s [bombers] and PBYs [Consolidated PBY Catalinas] when they went over to bomb the island?” Smith remembered being the “object of ridicule” while on the Pennsylvania because of his belief that the Japanese had skedaddled. The “skeptical strategists of the mess,” said Smith, laughed loudest when he pointed out that sixty-five low, wooden structures used by the Japanese as barracks had disappeared, and he believed the wood had been used by the enemy to build boats and rafts to ferry the garrison to ships awaiting offshore Kiska.

Despite persistent fog, some 7,000 Allied troops—supported by five battleships and 262 land-based aircraft—were established on Kiska by the end of the operation’s first day. The only thing missing was someone to fight; Smith had been right—the Japanese were gone, leaving behind a few dogs and a container of hot coffee. “The Canadian and American soldiers found no Japs,” Sherrod wrote, “but they did get a good look at the installations our planes and naval guns had been shooting at.

What they found: gun emplacements, ammunition, living quarters and other evidence which indicated that at one time nearly 10,000 Japs had been on Kiska. There was a submarine base (evidently abandoned weeks ago) and a long-neglected seaplane base and hanger. Telephone lines strung around the eastern edge of the island led to a fair-size power plant.” Soldiers also discovered numerous caches of food, including five-gallon, wood-encased tins of kelp and hard crackers; one-hundred-pound bags of rice; and a variety of canned fish. “The Japs did not leave Kiska because they were in danger of starving,” said Sherrod. The enemy also left behind a few mongrel dogs. “We dropped 100,000 propaganda leaflets on Kiska, but those dogs couldn’t read,” said an American pilot.

The Japanese had also left behind some crude messages on the walls of an underground bunker taunting the enemy, including: “You are dancing by foolische [foolish] order of Rousebelt [Roosevelt]” and “We shall come again and kill Yanki-joker.” What Sherrod and U.S. military officials learned only later was that Japanese destroyers and cruisers had evacuated the bulk of the Kiska garrison on July 28. How had such an operation been conducted so successfully and without any notice by American planes or ships? According to Morison, the Kiska evacuation had been achieved through a combination of “Japanese savvy, American bungling, Aleutian weather and good fortune.”

In his article on the Kiska campaign for Time, Sherrod was able to laugh off the embarrassment felt by Allied forces at not finding any Japanese on the island, acknowledging the victory with wry humor by noting that among “the echoing cliffs of Kiska a new word was born: JANFU (“Joint Army-Navy foul-up”).” He also reported that the Japanese had left behind land mines and booby-traps. Although most of the booby-traps were “crude, such as a floorboard obviously raised to accommodate a detonator, and not at all up to the fictional standard of Japanese cunning,” a few men had been killed by them, including a Canadian lieutenant who had been blown to smithereens after turning on a booby-trapped radio.

Military censors, however, refused to allow Sherrod to mention in his dispatches the far larger number of troops, about twenty-five, who were “slain by our own trigger-happy soldiers,” while another thirty-one were wounded by friendly fire. Among those killed had been Lieutenant Wilfred Funk Jr. whose father, Wilfred J. Funk, the publisher of Funk and Wagnalls, had written to Time demanding to know why, if there had been no enemy forces on Kiska, his son’s Purple Heart citation said he was “killed in combat against the enemy”?

Months after the Kiska landing, Sherrod, through conversations with surgeons on a transport that had taken care of some of those wounded by friendly fire (soldiers of the Eighty-Seventh Infantry Regiment), had patched together a report on what had happened, although he acknowledged what he heard was all second-hand information. The weather on Kiska had been the “foggiest I have ever seen,” he said, “and I had been through some honeys in the three months I had spent in the Aleutians. Actually, it was impossible to see ten feet.”

Expecting heavy enemy opposition, the troops who had landed on Kiska had fanned out in every direction, “dashing up mountains, down gulleys, through fog, and every man had his finger on the trigger, waiting for the first shot at the first Jap that wiggled,” Sherrod noted. A marine observer, who before the war had worked for the New York Times, told the correspondent that the soldiers were trigger happy and “didn’t give a damn what they hit. I had a half a dozen bullets fly right by my ears.”

An outfit Sherrod had known on Attu, the Third Battalion of the Seventeenth Infantry Regiment, had been in the middle of the firing, between two patrols of the Eighty-Seventh, but had miraculously escaped with no casualties. “Not one of my men fired a shot,” the Seventeenth’s battalion commander said to Sherrod. “They had been in action before.”

Sherrod wrote a paragraph about the Eighty-Seventh soldiers killed by their own men for his Time story about the invasion, but censors cut it out, and he believed they were right to do so at the time. (Sherrod noted that the censor for Kiska had been Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid, commander of the North Pacific Force, who “insisted on reading every line of copy” and had been a “liberal censor,” pondering over, but passing for publication, the reporter’s JANFU comment.”) However, months later, Sherrod could not understand why military officials in Washington, D.C., were still refusing to release any information about the incident. “It’s part of the facts of battle,” said Sherrod, “and I think we might as well face these facts.”

With the Aleutians secured from the Japanese, the American military pondered what to do next in the North Pacific. With the Aleutians only 700 miles from Japan’s Kurile Islands, Sherrod noted that some “zealots” saw the Aleutians as a “short cut” to Tokyo and also envisioned powerful swarms of bombers being able to conduct missions against the enemy. “The plain truth is that even seven hundred miles is too far for effective bombardment missions with present day planes,” he said. “And seven hundred miles through North Pacific fog with no guarantee that these planes will be able to find landing fields when they return, are not the same as seven hundred miles through sunny skies.” Sherrod’s best advice for the Aleutians: “Put them away for a while, but don’t forget them.” Some bombing raids were conducted by the Eleventh Army Air Force against Paramushiro in the Kurile Islands, and the Japanese made a few halfhearted attacks on Kiska and Attu, but the Aleutians faded in importance as American operations instead concentrated on a new arena: the Central Pacific

Thursday, August 1, 2019

The Last Hurrah: John Bartlow Martin and the 1972 Presidential Election

In early September 1972 John Bartlow Martin, who had worked as a speechwriter for every Democratic presidential candidate since Adlai Stevenson in 1952, traveled to Washington, D.C., to offer his writing skills for his party’s new nominee for the nation’s highest office, George McGovern, U.S. senator from South Dakota, in his longshot effort to unseat incumbent President Richard Nixon.

In the early primaries leading up to the Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida, Martin, who had been teaching at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, had supported the candidacy of Edmund Muskie. “The thing I like about him is his thoughtfulness. He’s not erratic, not impulsive,” Martin said, and he sometimes traveled with the senator or went to Washington, D.C., to meet with Muskie’s senior advisers, including Clark Clifford, Jim Rowe, and U.S. Senator Al Gore Sr. Muskie had been an effective vice presidential candidate running with Hubert Humphrey in 1968, and, four years later, political pundits crowned him as the front-runner for the nomination.

Muskie had piled up endorsements from several of the nation’s leading Democratic politicians, who expressed admiration for his “Lincolnesque” calm and aura of electability. The man from Maine stood, they all agreed, as the only Democratic candidate capable of defeating Nixon. The early campaign failed to excite Martin, who wrote a friend that he believed the politicians were doing their best to “bore the people to death. I’ve never seen a year with so many candidates, so many primaries, and so much vacuity.”

The Muskie presidential boom imploded, however, after the crucial New Hampshire primary in early March. Muskie won the primary, but by a smaller margin than many had predicted, seriously damaging his stature as the inevitable choice of the Democrats for the November election; by late April he had dropped out of the race. In the end, Martin said that Muskie proved to be “a surprisingly weak candidate, and he was overwhelmed by the sudden surge of revolt and fragmentation that swept the Democratic party.”

The beneficiary of Muskie’s fall from grace was McGovern, the prairie populist described by Robert Kennedy as “the most decent man in the Senate,” whose strong showing in New Hampshire and straightforwardness impressed even conservative members of his party. He had articulated his campaign theme, “Come Home, America”— what he called a restatement of America’s treasured values—at a March 21, 1970, speech in Denver before a roomful of fellow Democrats. McGovern called upon the nation to “come home from the wilderness of needless war and excessive militarism to build a society in which we cared about one another—especially the old, the sick, the hungry, the jobless, the homeless.” Such a message seemed tailor-made for the huge influx of young voters now eligible to vote because of the passage of the Twenty-sixth Amendment adopted in 1971 that had lowered the voting age from twenty-one to eighteen.

With Muskie floundering, McGovern used his effective grassroots organization, drawn to his sincere commitment to end the Vietnam War, to achieve victories in such key primary states as Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Nebraska, and California. McGovern survived a bitter, last-ditch effort from Humphrey to deny him the presidential nomination at the convention in July. The GOP tried to win over the blue-collar, normally Democratic voters who had turned to George Wallace in 1968 by repeating the erroneous charge from his fellow Democrats that McGovern was the candidate of the three A’s—Amnesty (leniency for those who resisted being drafted to fight in Vietnam), Abortion (favoring legalized abortion before the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision), and Acid (the legalization of drugs, in particular marijuana). As the son of a Methodist minister and a decorated World War II bomber pilot, McGovern disputed the notion that he was too militant to be president, noting, “Ordinarily, we don’t send wild-eyed radicals to the United States Senate from South Dakota.”

Just eighteen days after the Democratic convention ended on July 13, McGovern’s quest to topple Nixon suffered a fatal blow when his vice presidential running mate, Thomas Eagleton, a first-term, politically moderate U.S. Senator from Missouri, stepped down. The McGovern team had turned to Eagleton, a Muskie supporter, after their candidate’s other choices for the job, including Ted Kennedy, Humphrey, and Walter Mondale, had turned him down, and after Eagleton had assured them he had no skeletons in his closet that might come back to haunt them.

In the days before extensive background checks were a regular part of such decisions, McGovern and his staff were unaware that Eagleton had been hospitalized for physical and nervous exhaustion on more than one occasion and had twice received electroshock (today known as electroconvulsive) therapy. Reports about Eagleton’s medical problems began circulating among the national press. “I was not plagued with haunting memories of my medical past,” Eagleton later said, adding that he did not consider what had happened to him “as illegal or immoral or shameful.” He said his health problems were the furthest thing from his mind when McGovern asked him to be his running mate, and compared his health problems as nothing worse than “a broken leg that had healed.”

GaryHart, one of McGovern’s top advisers, noted that Eagleton’s health issues had even escaped the scrutiny of the senator’s home state newspapers, including the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, well regarded for its investigative journalism. “Those who claim the McGovern staff could, or should, have uncovered this kind of information about an individual not even under serious consideration prior to the convention don’t know what they’re talking about,” said Hart.

Before all the facts about Eagleton’s health had been presented to him, McGovern impulsively and unwisely told Dick Dougherty, his press secretary, to put out a statement that he was “a thousand percent behind Tom Eagleton.” Later, McGovern talked to Eagleton’s psychiatrists and learned specific details about his running mate’s medical history that he believed “raised serious doubts about his capacity to carry the burdens and responsibility of the presidency.” Calls were also coming from the editorial pages of major national newspapers, including the Washington Post and New York Times, for Eagleton to resign from the ticket.

On July 31 Eagleton finally agreed to do so, and a special session of the Democratic National Committee ratified McGovern’s replacement candidate, former Peace Corps director Sargent Shriver. McGovern’s reputation for competence and integrity took a major hit with the Eagleton affair, as the public sympathized with the Missouri senator, who had stonewalled any release of the most damaging details about his previous hospitalizations, making McGovern the villain in the affair in the eyes of the public. “I did what I had to do,” McGovern noted years later, “but the Eagleton matter ended whatever chance there was to defeat Richard Nixon in 1972.”

The fifty-seven-year-old Martin went to Washington in early September 1972 to start working as a McGovern speechwriter. From that point until Election Day in November, he traveled back and forth between the nation’s capital and his Illinois home so he could teach his classes at Northwestern. While in Washington, Martin stayed at the Hay-Adams Hotel and toiled out of offices on the seventh floor at McGovern headquarters at 1910 K Street, an eight-story former apartment building that had also once been Muskie’s campaign headquarters.

Several people asked him to assist McGovern, Martin recalled, and he could not resist helping anyone who ran against the one man he most despised in politics—Nixon. Headquarters had the uproarious and informal atmosphere of a college dormitory, with “scores of barefoot girls in blue jeans and boys in long hair and beards racing about mindlessly, taping up funny signs in the corridors,” said Martin. With affection, Hart described the offices as possessing an “exquisite madness,” and praised the “unbound enthusiasm and wry humor” possessed by the young staff and volunteers.

Martin possessed a more jaundiced view of the proceedings, recalling that if he left his desk unguarded at headquarters, he found upon his return that his pens, paper, and sometimes even typewriter had vanished. “The kids are rude, insensitive, heedless, discourteous,” he said. “Not all; but most.” His arrival had “raised the average age of the staff to 10 ½,” Martin said in a letter to his wife, Fran. Lawrence O’Brien, named chairman of the fall campaign by McGovern to ease the concerns of traditional Democrats, wondered what he might be getting himself in for when he noticed that the sign over the door at the headquarters did not include any mention of the Democratic Party. McGovern’s followers seemed to view the party as the enemy, “or at best as a slightly repugnant means to an end,” said O’Brien.

Latecomers to the McGovern cause were often treated harshly by those who had been with McGovern from the beginning. Robert Shrum, who had written speeches for Muskie before assuming the same role for the South Dakota senator, noted that “resentment toward those who hadn’t been with McGovern from the start were rife.” According to Martin, the “cocksure young staff” jealously guarded access to the candidate.

At McGovern headquarters, however, Martin worked with two men he knew from previous presidential contests—Ted Van Dyk, the director of issues and speeches, and Milt Gwirtzman, who parceled out assignments and transmitted speech material to the McGovern campaign plane by telecopier after Van Dyk had reviewed the text. The plan called to rotate speechwriters on the candidate’s Boeing 727 campaign plane, the Dakota Queen, named so in honor of the B-24 bomber he flew in World War II, with each of them spending a week with McGovern and then returning to headquarters. The rotation might never happen, Martin told Fran, something that was fine with him as he much preferred eating lunch at the Federal City Club in Washington than at, for example, the Ypsilanti, Michigan, airport.

In addition to Shrum and Martin, other speechwriters on the staff included Sandy Berger, Bob Hunter, and Stephen Schlesinger, the son of Martin’s good friend, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. “We had a good crew,” recalled Van Dyk. Shrum spent most of his time traveling with McGovern, assisting the candidate’s main writer, John Holum, his longtime legislative assistant. It proved to be a perplexing situation for Martin. “Having started out in this business 20 years ago with Arthur and now finding myself sitting next to Arthur’s son, doing what I was doing 20 years ago, I find myself wondering if there is a message I’m not getting,” he wrote Fran.

Martin praised Van Dyk and Gwirtzman as “able professionals,” but lamented that none of the young staff assembled at headquarters had ever before worked on a national campaign and, because they had won the primaries against phenomenal odds (early on McGovern had support from only 4 percent of the voting public) and faced strong opposition from the party establishment, thought they could do no wrong. Theodore H. White, the famous chronicler of presidential races with his The Making of the President series, described the attitude of McGovern’s young workers as not the politics of exclusion, but “the politics of the faithful few.” They had plunged into national politics, Martin observed, without understanding that a national campaign was “a vastly different exercise from a bunch of scattered primaries.” Some of the senior staff also seemed more interested in gaining publicity for themselves than working selflessly on behalf of the candidate, noisily resigning every few days and expressing their opinions freely to the traveling press corps. “The old tradition of the staff with a passion for anonymity was junked,” Martin said.
As nearly as he could figure out, Martin believed that the McGovern campaign’s strategy involved writing off most of the South, except for Arkansas and Texas, as well as the states west of the Mississippi River except for California, Minnesota, and South Dakota. The candidate planned on concentrating on the larger states in a belt from Illinois to Massachusetts, plus Wisconsin. “As to issues, forget credibility and trust—he [McGovern] destroyed that issue himself,” said Martin, especially with the Eagleton fiasco. “Instead, concentrate on the old Democratic bread and butter issues—jobs, high prices, populism, government for special interests vs. government for the people. . . . Plus Vietnam.”

By focusing on such tried-and-true Democratic issues, McGovern hoped to win back defecting blue-collar members of the party, as well as the still powerful figures who had opposed him at the convention, including Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago and former President Lyndon Johnson, paying courtesy calls on both men. As Van Dyk pointed out in a memorandum to key McGovern advisers in late August, traditional Democratic voters, located primarily in the big industrial states, needed to be reminded that McGovern and the Democratic Party “are good for ordinary people. They are good for them economically. They listen to them. They believe in them.” 

Unfortunately, Martin said, following this strategy hurt McGovern “heavily among the people who had supported him because he was anti-politician. He revealed himself as practicing the crudest kind of old politics—and doing it far more clumsily than Nixon or Daley.” Martin also questioned the staff’s initial decision to run what he called “a strictly TV campaign—they hit 3 cities a day in order to stage TV visual events, thus hitting the network news programs plus 3 local TV outlets.” On these stops McGovern or Shriver might eat with workers at a local factory’s cafeteria; visit a farm, supermarket or bowling alley; or tour an area in need of highlighting because of a specific social problem.

Animated by their opposition to the Vietnam War, the McGovern staff fought just as hard against uphill odds as the Humphrey campaign had just four years earlier, said Van Dyk. “I had great confidence in my policy and speechwriting staff,” he said. The few experienced professionals at headquarters were realistic about their candidate’s chances against Nixon. Only a major blunder on the president’s part or some “major unforeseeable outside event” could give McGovern a chance at victory, said Martin.

According to Van Dyk, possible setbacks for the Nixon administration included either a ghastly military setback in Vietnam or damaging details being uncovered from a scandal involving the June 17 break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C., then being seriously investigated by only a few newspapers, including the Washington Post. Such a miracle seemed more and more unlikely, especially given Nixon’s decision to do as little campaigning for his re-election as possible. Instead, he used his position as the chief executive to garner headlines, watching his approval rating steadily climb as a result of his foreign policy successes, including normalizing relations with China and easing tensions with the Soviet Union at a Moscow summit meeting.

The president sought to remain above the political fray, saying and doing as little as he pleased “without being held properly accountable” by the press, said Van Dyk. McGovern, however, faced daily scrutiny from a host of reporters as he barnstormed across the country. Late in the campaign Martin wrote a speech in which he pointed out that for the first time in American history the country had a presidential contest with only one candidate. “The whole speech elaborated that theme. It got a line or two in the paper,” he said. “Why? Don’t people care? Or when McGovern said it, maybe they didn’t believe it.”

Unlike his previous experiences with Democratic presidential candidates, Martin never really got to know McGovern, possibly because, for the first time, he did not have the opportunity to travel with the candidate; he could not remember even seeing McGovern in person since the 1968 Chicago convention. “Never before had I worked for a candidate I didn’t believe in,” Martin said. “I am afraid I don’t believe in him. He knows Vietnam and hunger; but that’s all. He’s not a national politician, has no national feeling.”

Martin compared McGovern unfavorably to the other Democratic presidential candidates he had previously worked for, faulting his leadership abilities and failure to make issues he talked about in his speeches resonate with the public. “Someone wrote that the words are fine but the tune is all wrong when he speaks,” Martin said. “When he showed anger, it came through as whining, complaining; when he showed compassion, he sounded like a hick preacher. He never sounded Presidential. . . . No eloquence. Nothing to inspire. No joy. No fun. No wit or humor.”

Despite all his criticisms of McGovern, Martin said there was something good and decent about the man. In October, when HenryKissinger, Nixon’s national security adviser, announced, falsely, as it turned out, that “peace was at hand in Vietnam,” Martin had been impressed by McGovern’s reaction to the news. He remembered that McGovern had been cornered by the press and given little time to reflect on Kissinger’s announcement, but had agreed with a reporter’s assertion that if Nixon ended the war it meant certain defeat for his presidential campaign. McGovern asserted, however, that losing the election would be a small price to pay for ending the bloodshed in Vietnam and finally bringing American troops safely home. “Furthermore,” said Martin, “he said it with conviction and force.” McGovern made many mistakes during the campaign, but also his luck had finally run out. “During the primaries,” said Martin, “he got every lucky break; but at and after the convention, he got every bad break.”

Martin had found it hard to be effective writing from McGovern headquarters in Washington. Staff on the plane with the candidate usually ignored what headquarters sent them and preferred to use the material they had prepared while on the campaign trail. The casual attitude displayed by some of McGovern’s writers also bothered Martin. He noted that during the Stevenson and Johnson campaigns, every time the candidate made a major speech, a number of drafts were written “amid much agonizing, and the final was polished and repolished endlessly—and the result was damn good. But McGovern’s writers seemed to dash off [a] major speech on the backs of old envelopes—and the results showed it.” Portions of the speeches he wrote did get used, but the material was never central to the campaign and “it never changed or sharpened” McGovern’s image for the voters, Martin said.

Scheduled to join the McGovern party on the plane near the end of the campaign, Martin, who had gone home so he could teach his classes at Northwestern, received a telephone call from Holum telling him there was no room for him on the plane. “So I stayed home, idle,” Martin noted. On Election Day, November 7, Martin voted, something he called a gloomy formality. In the election pool at headquarters, he had guessed McGovern winning 270 electoral votes—the bare minimum needed to win. He made a more realistic guess of 85 electoral votes in the pool at his class at Northwestern.

The voting results were a disaster for the McGovern campaign, as Nixon swept into a second term, winning 60.7 percent of the votes; McGovern only won one state, Massachusetts, and lost in the Electoral College by a 520 to 17 margin. By dinner time on election evening, Van Dyk and others at McGovern headquarters knew their candidate would lose in a landslide. Near the end of the campaign, McGovern also knew that defeat loomed ahead. Some of his advisers expressed worries that the candidate still harbored hopes of an upset, so Shrum decided to break the bad news to McGovern, doing so in a hotel room in an unnamed city near the campaign’s end. McGovern greeted Shrum, asked him to sit down, poured each of them a vodka on the rocks, handed one to him, thanked him for coming, and said, “Bob, I know, I know. But I just need to believe for one more day.”

McGovern may have suffered a humiliating loss, but other Democratic candidates running for office weathered the storm, and the party held on to its majorities in the U.S. Senate and House. Martin saw the results as an indication that there was a great deal of anti-McGovern voting rather than a pro-Nixon surge. “Then, having voted for Nixon, they split their tickets and voted for Democratic candidates for Senate, Governor, House, and local,” he said. Muskie or Humphrey might have managed to beat Nixon, and at least they would not have lost time in August and part of September trying to win back the support of labor unions and the Democratic organization, Martin said.

The most unfortunate outcome of the election for Martin was that “one of the worst, if not the worst, Presidents in American history now has the biggest mandate, or nearly the biggest, in history.” He worried that Nixon’s landslide gave the president the misapprehension that he had a “license to do anything. I really fear for the country.” Martin shared similar concerns to one of his classes at Northwestern, especially about where the Watergate scandal might lead. One day after class one of his students, Joe Gandelman, asked Martin in a private conversation to share his opinion about the Nixon administration. “He seemed truly frustrated and fearful,” Gandelman recalled.

Even before any evidence had been uncovered about the extent of the White House’s involvement in the break-in of DNC headquarters and the cover-up that followed, Martin had been convinced that Nixon and his advisers knew about the crime. Gandelman remembered Martin softly saying something that chilled him: “We’ve heard there have been people going through Larry O’Brien’s tax returns. This is a scary bunch. I’ve never seen anything like it. They’re thugs.” A little less than two years after the election, on August 9, 1974, Nixon resigned as the nation’s thirty-seventh president after congressional and media investigations had uncovered the extent of his administration’s crimes and dirty tricks—vindicating many of the charges McGovern had made in the campaign and confirming Martin’s darkest suspicions.

The McGovern campaign proved to be the last hurrah for Martin when it came to direct involvement in Democratic Party presidential politics. The experience proved to be “liberating” for him. When he had been on the plane with such presidential candidates as Stevenson and John F. Kennedy during an election, Martin had forgiven them when they made mistakes—after all, it was his candidate, sitting only a few seats away, who had made the error. “But if you’re on the outside, you see him for what he is, a blunderer,” he said.

The malaise Martin experienced during the McGovern campaign had not all been the fault of the candidate, but had reflected the fact that the country had changed and he had not. The increasing role of primaries in deciding presidential nominees troubled Martin, who thought it was foolish that a “few farmers in Iowa and New Hampshire should choose the leader of the Western world.” Control of politics had been reformed from the rule of party bosses and handed over to the people, as had been intended, but now lay with pollsters, advertisers, and television. Martin lamented the rise of “television consultants,” who instructed their candidates not only in what words and gestures to use, but concocted strategy and selected what issues to address. Television converted serious political questions into mere theater, and thereby killed the notion of “serious political speeches,” he added.

Remembering the colleagues he had worked with on presidential campaign staffs—Carl McGowan, John Kenneth Gaibraith, Schlesinger, Ted Sorensen, Kenny O’Donnell, Fred Dutton, Lawrence O’Brien, Van Dyk, and Gwirtzman—Martin said that none of them imagined they were molding their candidate’s image, “not one talked to the press much or leaked anything to the press that harmed the candidate; not one ever imagined that he was himself the candidate.” Martin viewed the well paid poll takers and image consultants dominating campaigns as “monsters” seeking to advance their own cause instead of that of their candidates.

Martin also believed that journalists had also grown too dependent on polls, spending far too much time in horse-race reporting, wondering who was ahead and if a candidate’s campaign might be headed for trouble if he or she failed to meet expectations created by the polls. “Why don’t reporters go out and report?” Martin wondered. “Reporters ought to be out in bars and union halls and places where people are and find out what they’re thinking instead of just taking Gallup’s word for what people think.”