Newspaper Articles


Spirit of Jefferson
April 28, 1960

Kennedy Given Rousing Welcome By Over 3,000 Democrats At Biggest Political Rally Ever Staged In County

Over 3,000 enthusiastic Democrats were on hand at the Charles Town Race Course Wednesday night to give a roaring welcome to U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts and hear him fire two volleys of criticism, one against presidential aspirants who have shunned presidential primary elections; and the other against the Eisenhower administration.

Senator Kennedy, the second presidential hopeful to come into Jefferson County in two days, struck out first at the manner in which three other presidential candidates, and many other leading politicians in both the Democratic and Republican parties have been playing down primary elections throughout the nation. Although he did not mention names, Senators Lyndon B. Johnson and Stuart Symington and former Illinois Governor Adali Stevenson have all shunned presidential primaries.

Senator Kennedy declared former President Harry S. Truman might regard primary elections as “eyewash.” as “I think the “eyewash” drink which Milwaukee voters made on April 5 is certainly famous now.”

Where They Should Be

“This is the place where all presidential candidates who should be in the hills and valleys and fields of West Virginia,” Senator Kennedy declared.

“I came to West Virginia of my own choice. Only one other candidate came to the West Virginia hills. I think the people should have the opportunity to vote on the presidential candidates rather than the selection be made in the smoke filled rooms at the national convention,” the senator stated.

On arriving at the Charles Town Race Track from Martinsburg where he made a 15 minute radio talk, Senator Kennedy was given a 15 second standing ovation before he was introduced to the crowd by Shirley M. Hunt, president of the Jefferson County for President Club and chairman of arrangements for the Democratic rally which was by far the largest ever staged in the this county and possible the entire area.

Before turning his attack upon the Eisenhower administration Senator Kennedy pointed to the results of the Democratic primaries held Tuesday in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts to show that Senator Hubert H. Humphrey (D-Minn) who is battling in West Virginia Primary, cannot win the party’s presidential nomination.

The signs of victory are everywhere. Just before the American Revolution Patrick Henry-in his famous “liberty or death” speech exhorted his fellow Virginians to action by telling them that “the next wind from the North will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms. Our brethren are already in the fields.” Today the people of West Virginia are preparing to enter the political battlefield and today that same stirring wind of change sweeps down over West Virginia from the North. From New Hampshire, from Wisconsin, from Massachusetts, from Pennsylvania- our Democratic brethren are already in the field – we hear the growing protest of the American people against eight years of Republican drift and indecision and neglect – we see record number of voters marching to the polls to vote for the Democratic candidates for President – and we see the forces of the Democratic Party gaining strength at every level of government. In each of these states where primaries have been held the Democrats have broken all the records – shattered all the traditions – shown beyond doubt that they are on the road to the White House in 1961.

In discussing West Virginia’s serious unemployment problem. Senator Kennedy said the State of Massachusetts had a similar industrial revolution several years ago and came through it. He said he was sure West Virginia can do the same if the Federal and state governments will accept their full responsibility and don’t take the view that the state has reached “High Noon”. He said it is the full responsibility of the governments so that it’s [sic] young people can be trained in such a manner there will be real inducements for new industry to come into the state.

Automation Is Problem

“Automation is West Virginia’s real problem today,” the Senator declared. But it is not only a problem in West Virginia, it is a national problem and will be one for the next ten years. And we the people and the nation must face it. It is a problem we have already ignored too long, the Senator said.

Russia’s economy has been moving upward at a 10 per cent pace while in the United States the pace has been only about one-and-one-half percent, Senator Kennedy declared.

“We can’t afford to continue to have our country frozen in the ice of its own indifference. I don’t think we can stand another four years of Eisenhower and Nixon,” the Senator stated.

Senator Kennedy flew into Martinsburg from Washington D.C. where he had gone at noon Wednesday to vote on a mine-safety bill legislation which is of vital interest to the coal miners to the state. He had been campaigning in Hinton when he interrupted his speech-making to fly back to Washington.

On leaving Charles Town last night he drove back to Martinsburg from where he flew back to Washington where he will remain today. Friday he will fly to Indiana where he is also entered in the primary election. He will be back in West Virginia the weekend just before the May 10 Primary election for more campaigning.

Before the Senator arrived, the crowd which included hundreds from nearby points in Maryland and Virginia, and the entire Eastern section of West Virginia was most pleasantly entertained by the group singing led by John Caldwell o Martinsburg: and several most appropriate and lovely vocal selections by Mrs. William B. Snyder of Shepherdstown. She was accompanied at the piano by Mrs. Alonzo D. Peters of Charles Town.

Following the speaking hundreds of those who had come early for the big rally, stayed around to dance for several hours.

Joseph J. Thompson county chairman of the Democratic Party presided for the program and introduced Alonzo D. Peters, president of the Jefferson County Democratic Club following the band numbers and singing. Peters in turn introduced all of the various Democratic candidates of Jefferson County, Berkeley County and a number of state and national candidates were [who] (sic) were present.

Chairman Thompson also thanked Leeds K. Riely and other officials of the Charles Town Race course for making available such an appropriate and accommodating facility to hold this mammoth rally in.


Bishop Strider Gives Kennedy Endorsement

The Right Reverend Robert E. Lee Strider, retired, former Episcopal bishop of the West Virginia Diocese, after a brief discussion of the religious issue gave an endorsement to U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy, one of five Democratic Presidential hopefuls.

Bishop Strider and Senator Kennedy discussed the various issues in the West Virginia Primary election at a meeting they had at Rose Hill farm at Leetown, just before the Senator addressed a crowd of 3,000 persons at the Charles Town Race Track in Charles Town.

Announcement of the endorsement by Bishop Strider was made early this morning by Ray Niblack, son-in-law of the Bishop and news director of radio station WINA, Charlottesville, VA.

“I am most grateful to Bishop Strider. I think his statement will make it easier now for us to move to a discussion of the real issues facing West Virginia and the nation.”

Following is the statement issued by Bishop Strider:

On the religious issue Bishop Strider told Kennedy he would have no hesitancy about voting for him in the coming presidential campaign.

“I have been profoundly impressed with the forthright manner in which you have handled this issue”, Bishop Strider said. “You have left no doubt in my mind concerning your loyalty to the Constitution of the United States which would prohibit any church influence on the discharge of your duties as President.”

Kennedy was congratulated by Bishop Strider for his candor on the religious issue and on taking the initiative in explaining his position with respect to the relationship between church and state.

“I believe the Senator is a man of exceptional high caliber and his war record and record in the United States Senate certainly is testimony to that,” Bishop Strider told the small group of Kennedy supporters who were present at the meeting. “On the major religious questions of birth control, the possibility of an ambassador to the Vatican and aid to parochial schools, the Senator has given answers which I feel should allay any fears concerning church influence on him as president.”

The Bishop continued, “I feel that if Senator Kennedy is elected to the office of President of the United States, he could by careful adherence to his declared position on these matters have a good influence on the future course of the relationship between church and state in this country. And I believe he will –indeed he must – adhere to those statements. The eyes of the country will be on him.”

Bishop Strider for 32 years headed the diocese of West Virginia. He has been retired on his farm near Charles Town since 1955.

The meeting between the two men was arranged by William C. Battle a PT boat squadron mate of Kennedy’s in World War II. Battle is the son of former Virginia Governor John S. Battle, Sr.

Present at the conference along with Bishop Strider and Senator Kennedy were Dr. Frank Fischer of Martinsburg president of the Kennedy for President Club in Berkeley County; and Shirley Hunt, president of the Kennedy Club in Jefferson County and chairman of arrangements for the Wednesday night rally.


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