James Knox Polk and Hail to the Chief II

Lead: The use of the stirring, heroic melody, Hail to the Chief, was ritualized by First Lady Sarah Childress Polk, dealing with her husband’s public relations problems. The story behind the tune, however, is not very good news for a politician.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: James Knox Polk, Eleventh President of the United States, was short, usually unkempt and wore cheap, ill-fitting suits. He and Sarah were not universally popular in Washington society and he could walk into a room and be completely ignored. To call attention to his presence and increase respect, Sarah Polk decreed that he should have a theme song. Whenever he entered the room, the Marine Band was instructed to play Hail to the Chief.

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James Knox Polk and Hail to the Chief I

Lead: Frustrated that her husband was being ignored at social and political events, the First Lady determined that the president needed a theme song. Of such are traditions born.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: James Knox Polk was an unprepossessing man. He was short, he usually sported a bad haircut, and he wore cheap oversized suits. Often the President of the United States was ignored when he entered the room. In short, he was a public relation expert's nightmare. Nevertheless, Polk had a secret political weapon. It was his wife, Sarah.

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Spiro Theodore Agnew – II

Lead: In 1973 Spiro Agnew he became only the second U.S. Vice-president to resign.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Agnew was very popular with party activists because of his aggressive hits on Nixon's cultural and political enemies. He was frequently mentioned as the President's successor, but he came to grief in the gathering storm of the Watergate scandal. Agnew was the son of a Greek immigrant, elected as Baltimore County Executive and then in 1967 as Governor of Maryland. His service in Annapolis was short but yielded important progressive legislation: a graduated income tax, anti-pollution laws and the first open-housing law in the South, but the Governor was taking bribes under the table. In 1973 it caught up to him and the Nixon Justice Department purged its own Vice-president securing an indictment, a plea of no contest on Federal income tax evasion, and Agnew's resignation.

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Spiro Theodore Agnew – I

Lead: In 1968 Richard Nixon chose as running mate a little-known border state governor, Spiro Theodore Agnew of Maryland.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Ted Agnew, a successful Baltimore County Executive before moving to Annapolis, was one of the rising stars of the moderate wing of the Republican Party. Nixon needed to reach out to his old enemy Nelson Rockefeller, Governor of New York and the leading moderate. He also had to appease the Goldwater faction powerful in the South and West. Above all, he needed a faceless personality who would not outshine himself. Agnew fit these criteria and also proved to be a loyal trooper, taking the low road as the administration's attack dog, a role Nixon himself played to powerful effect during the Eisenhower years.

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The Haymarket Incident II

Lead: In early May 1886 in the Haymarket area of Chicago a bloody confrontation occurred between police and workers. There followed the first "Red Scare" in American social history.

Intro.: "A Moment in Time" with Dan Roberts.

Content: The violence occurred at the end of a theretofore peaceful rally called by the anarchist movement to protest the attack by police on strikers at the McCormick Reaper factory the previous day. Several of their number had been killed or wounded and union members were quite angry. As the meeting was breaking up the police arrived in strength. Someone tossed a bomb into the police ranks and they started firing, killing civilians and their own men as well.

 

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Joseph McCarthy – II

Lead: With the nation gripped by cold war panic, Senator Joseph McCarthy enflamed passions with accusations of treason.

                Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

                Content: Searching for an issue that would define his bid for a second term in the U.S. Senate, McCarthy settled on communism and trumpeted charges that traitorous communists lurked in major national institutions of learning and government. It was not difficult to arouse national fear in those years. Americans were weary of the Korean Conflict, concerned about Marxist expansion in Europe and Asia, alarmed by the disgrace of Alger Hiss, a former State Department official proven to have had a shadowy career as a Soviet agent and frightened by the trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenburg convicted and executed as spies for Russia.

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Senator Theodore Bilbo – Prophet of Racism

Lead: Senator Bilbo’s racism could make a bigot blush.

                Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

                Content: In the American South during the early part of the 20th century, among the most successful politicians were the demagogues. Recognizing the frustrations and fears of lower middle-class and poor whites, they combined populist attacks on aristocratic whites, railroads and entrenched business interests with overt appeals to racism. Pitchfork Ben Tillman, Cotton Ed Smith, George Wallace, and in his early campaigns, Strom Thurmond, all supported comparatively progressive policies while in office, but secured election by playing the race card. They defended white supremacy with a stridency that overwhelmed their more moderate opponents. 

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William Jennings Bryan and the Cross of Gold – II

Lead: At the Democratic Convention of 1896 the candidate chosen was a champion of free silver.

                Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

                Content: The burning issue in the campaign of 1896 was money. Debtors such as small farmers whose wheat and cotton was declining in price, wanted the government to increase the amount of silver coins in circulation thereby making it easier for them to buy equipment and pay off their loans. Creditors such as banks and railroads wanted the government to stick with the gold standard because gold was considered more valuable. Would policy shift to cheap silver or stay with the more precious gold backing for the currency? The Democrats in 1896 dumped their incumbent President Grover Cleveland and chose instead a thirty-six year old former congressman from Nebraska, William Jennings Bryan.

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