Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Columns

January 15, 2013

Presidential campaign memories

Greensburg — In a few short days, the Presidential Inauguration will be held.

The official theme for this inauguration is “Faith in America’s Future.” It honors our country’s determination and unity and marks the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

While talking with Dr. Calvin Davis last fall, I asked if he’d share with us some memories of elections he remembers and the elections he considers the most important in our history. Dr. Davis was a history professor at Duke University until he retired a few years ago and came back to his home territory. What he said about elections and his personal experiences will be the subject of this column off and on during 2013. He considers 2013 to be the sesquicentennial of the Civil War — but that’s for a later column.

Davis taught at the University of Denver for three years (1959-1962). He said they were among the most productive of his career as a teacher and historian. He taught in several fields and had large classes. He said it was easy to manage because the university was on the quarter system which meant that he could reserve some time each day for the doctoral dissertation he was completing at Indiana University. When he finished the dissertation it was awarded the Albert J. Beveridage award (1961) and was published by Cornell University Press.

He said: I was unhappy during the 1948 campaign because I couldn’t vote – my 21st birthday would be Dec. 3. I was a senior at Franklin College and I listened to the returns on my landlady’s radio. She and I wanted Dewey to win. She told me how disappointed she had been in 1916 when Charles Evans Hughes, the Republican candidate, failed to defeat President Wilson.

In 1952 I was able to vote in a Presidential election. General Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson didn’t debate but gave interesting speeches. The elder Arthur Schlesinger of Harvard polled historians asking their opinions of Presidents. He tabulated results “report card” style – “great, near great, average, below average or failure” Grant and Harding were declared failures (nonsense in both cases I believe). As a result, people were talking about generals as failures in the Presidency. I never believed that Eisenhower would fail at anything.

Possibly it was a personal factor; I had been stationed at the Armor School at Ft. Knox during much of 1952. Much of the time I was assigned to the library. One of the most frequent borrowers of history books was young John S. D. Eisenhower. In August, I was ordered to Germany where I was assigned to the 54th Combat Engineering Battalion headquarters. The battalion commander was Col. C. Craig Cannon who had been Eisenhower’s transportation officer at SHAFE  (Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Forces) at Versailles. We got along well and the previous Eisenhower connection - slight though it was – had something to do with our friendship.

Finally the absentee ballot came. I had to mark it on top of my footlocker in our barracks at Leisheim on the Danube. There was no privacy about that election for me. The room was full of soldiers – every one of them for Stevenson except me.

Another election that I experienced while abroad, was during the fall of 1976 with Ford and Carter campaigning. I was in London where I was spending a sabbatical leave from Duke doing research at the British Library and the British Archives –now called the Public Record Office. The Presidential campaign was attracting much attention from the British and from the many Americans who were living in the part of London in which I was staying. I was one of the few Americans who had decided to vote for Ford. I received my North Carolina absentee ballot at the last minute. I took it to the American Embassy hoping to get answers to a few questions. I had an experience I never expected. I was wearing a coat and tie. When I arrived at the embassy I found myself in a room filled with people much more informally dressed than I. They, like me, had questions. They assumed I was there to help them. I did the best I could to help and finally I did as well as I could with my own ballot. I handed it in and left. The embassy had failed to provide any special help for a large turn-out which its officers should have expected. I was surprised to learn how many Americans of modest circumstances were living abroad.

The memories of Dr. Davis continue next week when he will share what the elections of 1824, 1860 and 1912 have in common.

 

1
Text Only
Columns
  • opn-gb042414 Column Armerding headshot Taylor Armerding: Warren's populist pitch on student loans is off key College graduates with a debt hangover could definitely use an advocate. The average graduate will leave college next month owing $30,000, and enter a still-mediocre job market. But that advocate is not superstar freshman Sen. Elizabeth Warren from M

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • opn-gb042414 Wolfsie Column headshot Dick Wolfsie: In a perpetual comma I misplace a lot of things: Keys wallet gloves the dog's leash. Recently I misplaced something that may not seem very important unless you read that last sentence carefully. Then you will realize that believe it or not I can't find my comma. Yes it's

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • nei-gb042314 Spaulding Column headshot Jack Spaulding: Spring turkey hunting season off and running Indiana's 45th annual statewide spring turkey hunting began last Wednesday, April 23, and DNR wildlife research biologist Steve Backs is expecting harvest results similar to last year. Hunters may kill one male or bearded turkey in the spring season,

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • nei-gb042314-linda kennett column jpg Linda Hamer Kennett: Crate art Paper labels from 1880 to 1930, collectively referred to as "Crate Art," are a unique form of American Folk Art. Originally designed to be glued to the ends of wooden crates to identify produce during shipping, the graphically attractive labels are

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • nei-gb042314-pat smith column headshot Pat Smith: Pat's potpourri This is a Pat's Potpourri day. Sometimes bits and pieces of things that don't quite make a whole column, but are still interesting to readers and me, become a column. Roger Welage told me not long ago that he spent the first 25 years of his life on S

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • nei-gb042314-homemakers logo Eileen Fisse: Garden time nears First a reminder: Club dues are due May 1 to our county treasurer, and now is the time to register for the Home and Family Conference which is held in June. Also, a reminder to sign up to work at the fair. I want to thank those who already signed up

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Maureen Hayden: Judge Richard Young described as “careful and thoughtful in his decisions" When U.S. District Judge Richard Young recently ruled in favor of a lesbian couple seeking recognition of their out-of-state marriage, opponents of same-sex unions called him an activist judge who was unilaterally trampling the law. The label didn't

    April 22, 2014

  • Brian Howey: Doctors Brown and Bucshon become seekers Seated across the table from me at Cafe Patachou were Drs. Tim Brown and Larry Bucshon. Dr. Bucshon was a heart surgeon from Newburgh. Dr. Brown is an emergency room physician from Crawfordsville. What made this breakfast meeting extraordinary is tha

    April 22, 2014

  • Thanks, Max

    Max Dickson has given the historical society a gift that many will enjoy for years.

    April 17, 2014

  • Lee H. Hamilon: Government As Innovator? You Bet! Five years ago, the federal government spent $169 billion to fund basic research and development. This fiscal year, it's down to $134 billion. People who believe in public belt-tightening applaud drops like that. I understand why: There are many reas

    April 17, 2014

Featured Ads
AP Video
US Proposes Pay-for-priority Internet Standards Wife Mourns Chicago Doctor Killed in Afghanistan FDA Proposes Regulations on E-cigarettes Kerry Warns Russia of Expensive New Sanctions Mideast Peace Talks Stall on Hamas Deal Cody Walker Remembers His Late Brother Paul Grieving South Korea Puts Up Yellow Ribbons Raw: Kerry Brings His Dog to Work Raw: Girls Survive Car Crash Into Their Bedroom Three U.S. Doctors Killed by Afghan Security Yankees' Pineda Suspended 10 Games for Pine Tar Colleagues Mourn Death of Doctors in Afghanistan Ukraine Launches Operation Against Insurgents Obama Reassures Japan on China Raw: Car Crashes Into San Antonio Pool Time Magazine Announces Top Influencers List Raw: Angry Relatives Confront SKorea Officials Bigger Riders Means Bigger Horses Out West Yankees Pineda Ejected for Pine Tar Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.