Governor Cecil Underwood at the Republican National Convention

State Papers and Public Addresses, Cecil H. Underwood, Twenty-fifth Governor of The State of West Virginia, 1957-1961, ed. by John F. McAllister.

Republican National Convention

As Temporary Chairman of the Republican National Convention, Cecil Underwood addressed the Chicago meeting and the American people.

Coming from West Virginia, a state created by the hand of Lincoln, I am signally honored to preside temporarily at this Centennial Convention in Illinois, the Land of Lincoln.

In the century since Lincoln's election, Republican Presidents have occupied the White House for a total of sixty-four years. Outstanding among more than six decades of Republicanism have been the past eight years - the Eisenhower years.

President Eisenhower has taken his place alongside Lincoln as one of the world's great leaders. The images of these great Americans will always inspire man in his search for freedom.

Let me tell you a story: one of my associates recently attended an elaborate exhibition of water color paintings by college students in Mandalay. Most of these paintings portrayed subjects naturally indigenous to Burma - elephants nudging logs in a teak forest; a farm family harvesting rice; religious scenes near Buddhist shrines and traditional pagodas.

This vast array of Asian art, exhibited near the steamy jungles of central Burma, only a few miles from the Red China frontier, displayed only two pictures related to America: one, a profile of Lincoln as found on our currency; the other, Lincoln the rail splitter.

This exhibition was more than twelve thousand miles distant and a hundred years removed from Lincoln's Illinois, but Lincoln was there. His stout character still portrays the image of American freedom.

Contrast this picture, if you will, with the image of America flashed around the world from the arena in Los Angeles two weeks ago. One by one, these amateurs and apologists paraded across the political platform to degrade America before the eyes of the world. In political desperation, these men played Russian roulette with the American people and American progress. For political expediency, they tried to undermine the confidence of the American people in themselves, in their government, in their economic and political system.

These fearmongers cry, in unison with the Kremlin, that we should not seek intelligence information essential to our survival. They try to smear the image of our world leadership through their abortive attempts to blame President Eisenhower for provoking the Paris tirades of a panic-stricken Khrushchev. The results of fear-driven anti-communism will be as neurotic as those political expediters who propose such a course.

America will not meet the communist challenge through inexperienced and apologetic leaders who try to mobilize public support by a demoralizing campaign of fear. Instead, we shall meet the challenge of communism in the world today through faith in ourselves and confidence in the experience of our leaders.

Republican leadership has kept the peace in the world for eight years because it believes in America. Republicans know that our actions as a world leader must be deeply rooted in our national experience and our national purpose. We dare not separate our purpose from our past.

We must face the threat of communist atheism through a renewed faith in our own religious convictions. Atheism becomes a threat in this country only if we lose our religious faith through fear or indifference, or if we destroy it by attempting to inject it into a political campaign.

Russian communism offers no contest to our free political system if our leaders are responsible and our people responsive. Our leaders must build, not destroy, confidence in our government. They must channel the restless, boundless American energies into positive avenues of faith and action.

The Russian educational system, attempting to control both man's mind and the source of his knowledge, is no substitute for American free education, if we are willing to support free education as extensively as they support controlled education.

Economic socialism, espoused by communism, offers no competition to our free enterprise, if we Americans have enough faith in our system to make it work. Rapid economic advances will always leave problems and hardships in the wake of their progress. It is our responsibility to solve these human problems while man enjoys the benefits of his free economic growth.

Our constitution guarantees every American equality of justice before a system of laws; in Russia, the rights and welfare of the individual are always subjugated to the welfare of the state. This regimentation of individual rights poses no fear for us, if we are willing to make sure that every American citizen does stand equal before our laws - no matter the color of his skin, the place of his birth, or the creed of his life.

Our national ideals are founded on individual freedom. Our goal is not a country, but the individual. This goal must be reflected in our government at home as well as in our foreign policy.

We must have faith in the ability of the American way to lead internationally. We must also have faith in the ability of the American way to survive domestically. If we must compromise our sacred principles, we have capitulated as truly as if we had surrendered our arms to Russia.

Senator Kennedy would have us believe that America is sick. He has even invoked the great Winston Churchill's theme of "blood, sweat, and tears," but he has taken the low road of "mud, threats, and smears." To perpetuate their insidious fear, the Democrat leadership tries to deny the solid record of Republican achievement and prosperity. The fact remains that more Americans are living better today than ever before. Our opponents appear to be ashamed of this prosperity.

Our opponents consider only problem areas of our country. They search for them; they create them; they wail when they can't find enough of them. They walk, not as proud, confident men, into the future, but with their heads down and backwards.

They talk irresponsibly about economic growth. Here again, they tremble with fear and try to fix upon us a position second to Russia. These would be serious allegations, if they were true. But they are not true!

The industrial growth and economic expansion in this country since Korea has no peacetime parallel. This growth took place while our Republican Administration was curbing Truman's run-away inflation, stabilizing the dollar, and controlling the cost of living. And mind you, these things happened under an Administration which does not accept the philosophy that government spending is the answer to all ills.

The American people may tolerate Truman's version of a rigged convention; but they do not want a Kennedy to right the American economy.

Growth is change. Literally, it is change to something bigger or better. But it usually involves other changes, too. For example, in the midst of today's all-time-high prosperity, we find pockets of poverty, most of them the result of growth or change.

Coal producers turned to mechanization to reduce cost of production and to remain competitive in the world's fuel markets. As a result, fifty thousand miners today can produce the coal tonnage which required one hundred and twenty-five thousand miners only ten years ago. Machines have replaced human labor.

Our economic problems today are intimately connected with growth.

Growth is good. Change is inevitable. We do not want to hinder growth. We cannot stop change. The problem of the displaced coal miner in my state will soon be the problem of displaced workers in other industries in other states. Government, both federal and state, does have an inescapable responsibility to help these individuals who become displaced. Government must move without impeding growth itself or destroying the general prosperity.

Let us not forget that economic aid to depressed areas was originally an Eisenhower proposal. His proposal was too practical, however, for the Kennedy economists. They managed to push through a bill, tailor- made for a veto. This Democrat Congress has taken no action on a new bill, not even after the President offered to work out a compromise with the Congressional leadership. In this instance, as in many others, the Democrat leadership in Congress prefers a campaign issue to real help.

You undoubtedly heard much about West Virginia in the spring primary, while the Kennedys were there. There have been rumors that their bankers were there, too.

Humphrey was there - with more solutions than we had problems.

When these Senators came to West Virginia, I warned our people that we would have the same problems when they left as when they came. They wouldn't solve ours, and I didn't think we would solve theirs. After the primary, I had to revise my statement: we did solve Humphrey's problem.

I might add here that we will help to solve Kennedy's problem in November.

Congress has made a great fuss about the veto of the Distressed Area Bill and its effect on such areas. But the same Kennedy-Johnson leadership forgot about the thousands of acres of national forests and national parks in my state, all with extensive plans for expansion and development, which would employ hundreds of people in the process. Congressional indifference forced the Federal Highway Trust Fund into the red. As a result, West Virginia lost $48 million in federal highway aid this year - a sum infinitely greater than anything dreamed of in any of the distressed area proposals.

The Federal Bureau of Mines has extensive coal research programs underway. Much more could be done if this same Congress appropriated more funds to do something for projects already underway. Instead, Congress attempted to create new agencies, with new theories and new duplications.

Let Kennedy and Johnson answer the deficiencies of their own record before they spread their tears over our land.

The Eisenhower Administration has taken realistic action to aid such areas through the distribution of contracts, construction, and vital research.

It is important to remember that the Eisenhower Administration has moved in a sound manner to inspire economic well-being rather than to impose a false, transitory economic security.

The Republican Party can deal with crises, but it does not create them.

In this crucial year, America chooses who will meet these problems at home and abroad. It will also decide whether these problems will be met with sound progress or panic.

In Los Angeles, America was called second-rate. We were shown a new frontier, to which the Democrat leaders were going, not because of the challenge of new worlds, but because of fear of the old world.

In the most vicious speech of his career, that rich young man, nominated by our opposition, said that the cards needed to be cut. I say that we Republicans here in Chicago will cut our own cards. We would be foolish not to when we are playing with a gambler who can hide a Texan up his sleeve.

(1960 Republican National Convention, Address of Temporary Chairman, Chicago, July 25,1960.)

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