A Man is Finished When He Quits - The Presidency of Richard M. Nixon (Redux)

“A Man is not finished when he’s defeated; he’s finished when he quits.”
-Richard Milhous Nixon

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Can't wait! Nixon is by far one of the most interesting politician in American political history. To be honest I've always been interested in a Nixon Presidency in the 1980's (He'd be roughly the same age as Reagan)

Eisenhower's 1956 State of the Union Address - TIME Magazine 1956

The 1956 State of the Union Address would contain a surprise announcement from President Eisenhower as he spoke with his smooth yet stern voice to not only those of the Congress of the United States of America but to the American people. This announcement was the Administration's plan to begin a large scale program focused on the modernization and maintenance of Federal Buildings and Institutions within the United States of America. Targets for the program would include Federal Prisons, monuments, bridges, tombs, and a plenitude of other municipal and industrial structures that had fallen by the wayside in years past. Backed by a tremendously popular President, the Federal Infrastructure Repair Act (FIRA) was passed late in the same year with the blessing of a large majority of Congress. The bill would see a gigantic boost in the funding for the Army Corps of Engineers, who were given the order to manage many of the FIRA projects.

One of the hallmarks of the FIRA was the repair and beautification of national landmarks managed by the Federal government. The National Parks service received funds in addition to those already procured. Monuments such as Grant’s Tomb (which had just been brought under the National Park Service’s jurisdiction the same year) would find themselves in an incredulously more favorable position than beforehand. By the late 1950's a number of America's prisons had already passed their centennials and their age and deterioration were becoming obvious. Therefore the American prison system's infrastructure was among the top focuses in the early years of the FIRA; Alcatraz being on the top of the list due to the intense corrosion from the salty air and water surrounding it. In September 1956, Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary temporarily re-located all of its inmates to make way for extensive reconstruction and maintenance.

"The complexes of the Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary will require severe emergency maintenance if the prison is to operate past the next year. Concrete making up a vast amount of the prison, especially in areas housing prisoners, has suffered from years of salt corrosion and is easily chipped away in some areas. It is the advise of engineers that the prison be closed to allocate for reconstruction under the FIRA program." - Engineering Estimate from ACoE

The Penitentiary would receive massive repairs in the cells as well as the interior and outer walls which were needed to battle the ever encroaching salt corrosion. A desalinization plant was constructed on-site and put to immediate use in order to prevent corrosion where possible. This investment also provided clean drinkable water to inmates, guards, and the families of the guards that were housed on-island. This much needed upgrade would make routine resupplies of the water resources at the prison unnecessary and free up a sizable portion of the prison’s expenditures. The Prison population would progressively return Block by Block to the Rock to newly refreshed and rebuilt interiors. It was found during the renovation that several walls, especially those of Cell Block B’s inner cell walls had corroded to such a point in certain areas that the walls were reported to “crumble” under any application of significant force. These walls were entirely taken down and replaced with sturdier and brand new iterations. From this discovery, annual inspections of wall integrity were ordered from the prison’s warden.


Alcatraz Pre-Renovation 1956 - National Archives Photograph Gallery

The FIRA continued in its mission, and actively so for the rest of Eisenhower’s administration and beyond; though the act was overshadowed by larger more goliath movements such as the Federal Aid Highway Act of the same year and the beginnings of the Space Race. The maintenance programs continued largely un-inhibited for the remaining duration of Eisenhower’s Second Term and beyond. In the long run, it was seen as just another, albeit heavily expensive, program among a mountain of numerous other programs.

“…In this analysis regarding the state of our Federal Infrastructure we can provide only one solution to this grim problem. We must make the moves to repair America’s infrastructure now. Not doing so provides a threat to every American should it ever fail. We are a nation of freedoms and we must preserve these freedoms by preserving our nation. We must secure our nation's stature at home as much as we do abroad.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower - State of the Union 1956

4 Years Later

As the Eisenhower Presidency faded into its final days, the United States would turn its awaiting gaze to a new decade, with both a fresh sense of patriotism, a can-do attitude, and the bright sense of optimism felt by nearly every warm blooded American. This new decade was to be America’s decade, and it was to be but a chapter in America’s century. As the sun set on the 1950’s, two men were in a deadlocked battle to the political death over who would have the privilege of leading the nation into the 1960’s. Whomever became President would face his fair share of crisis’; communist revolutions were brewing on multiple continents, domestic issues were rearing their heads, and tensions were steadily increasing among two superpowers. Steadily approaching, it could already be determined the decade would be one of dramatic change and deep historical importance. A new era was on the horizon and the election was fast approaching.


Richard M. Nixon at the Republican National Convention - July 1960 - Republican Party

1. Dwight Eisenhower's FIRA act causes the renovation of many Federal buildings and landmarks. Included are Alcatraz FederalPenitentiary
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Campaign 1960
Their had been little doubt that Vice President Richard M. Nixon would be the Republican nominee for President. He had served Eisenhower loyally for 8 years and acted his international representative on several occasions. While often cold toward his subordinate, Eisenhower had made him the model of the modern Vice President and the doubtless nominee for 1960. The Democratic race on the other hand was not nearly as presumptuous and was the sight of a fierce political battle. Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy of Massachusetts would eventually come out on top of his chief rival, Senator Lyndon Johnson of Texas, and secure the Democratic nomination. To heal the wounds of the convention (and to secure the south) Kennedy then named Johnson as his choice for vice president.

Both Kennedy and Nixon quickly realized that the race would be neck and neck. The two had formally been friends in the Senate with their offices across the hall from one another, and Kennedy's father had even expressed his respect for Nixon based on his actions during the Hiss case and had offered funds for his senate campaign. Now, that friendship, fell by the wayside as they both began to take steps to achieve their own victory. In the months before November, the lead was held comfortably by Nixon with help from Eisenhower's coattails; however, Nixon’s lead would not prove as solid as many had predicted. There would be several major roadblocks along the road in his campaign.
Despite being a Catholic, Senator Kennedy had proven to be an opponent demanding of Nixon's undivided attention. The Senator from Massachusetts had three things that the Vice President did not: a celebrity appearance, family connections, and an almost superhuman ability to succeed in press relations. Nixon on the other hand had always been an intensely private person and struggled with interactions; his shyness among other things had often lent to people (especially press) forming an opinion of a removed and devious individual. He commonly described himself as an introvert in an extrovert's career. While Nixon appeared reserved on television leaning on a desk and speaking strictly about the issues, Kennedy aired jingles during the day aimed at housewives. When Nixon utilized Republican politicians in his campaign, Jack pulled out celebrities such as Frank Sinatra to capture the public's hearts and minds.

"Everyone is voting for Jack
Cause he's got what all the rest lack
Everyone wants to back -- Jack
Jack is on the right track.
'Cause he's got high hopes
He's got high hopes
Nineteen Sixty's the year for his high hopes.
Come on and vote for Kennedy
Vote for Kennedy
And we'll come out on top!
Oops, there goes the opposition - ker -
Oops, there goes the opposition - ker -
Oops, there goes the opposition - KERPLOP!
Jack's the nation's favorite guy
Everyone wants to back -- Jack
Jack is on the right track.
'Cause he's got high hopes
He's got high hopes
Nineteen Sixty's the year for his high hopes.
Come on and vote for Kennedy
Vote for Kennedy
Keep America strong.
Kennedy, he just keeps rollin' - a -
Kennedy, he just keeps rollin' - a -
Kennedy, he just keeps rollin' along."
-Frank Sinatra's 'Kennedy' High Hopes rendition -1960


Dwight Eisenhower during a press conference - 1960

Ironically it would be President Eisenhower who would hammer the first dent in Richard Nixon’s campaign that would linger and provide ammunition for the Democratic campaign until the televised debates. The issue in question would originate in an August interview done by “Time” writer Charles Mohr regarding several claims by Nixon that he had been a useful adviser in decision making and had been heavily involved during the Eisenhower Administration. Mohr asked President Eisenhower during a press conference if he could give an example of a major suggestion of Nixon's that he had heeded. Eisenhower, not entirely taking the question seriously and anxious to finish the press conference, hastily and somewhat jokingly issued the comment, "If you give me a week, I might think of one." These words from the mouth of the President would instantly be picked up by the Kennedy campaign staff as an overly effective attack against the Republican candidate’s claim to importance in the current Administration. Within three days, the Kennedy campaign aired a criticizing television advertisement which used the interview with Eisenhower against the Vice President. Eisenhower's comment, which Nixon explained away with a smile during the campaign, in fact deeply cut him. In private, Nixon confided with his wife Pat on what he considered an unforgivable betrayal.

"He didn't help us before. We didn't need him then. We don't need him now. You don't need him."
- Pat Nixon

The Republican campaign was further marred by a string of broken and misrepresented campaign promises, the most damaging of which was not authorized by Richard Nixon. Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., Nixon’s running mate, committed a near catastrophic gaffe when he made an unscripted and unplanned public pledge that Nixon would appoint a black man to his Presidential cabinet if elected in November. This statement was simply seen as a cheap political ploy and a harsh below the belt attempt to win over votes from American minorities, especially those of the African American minority. To make matters worse it pushed Southern Whites even further out of the Republican grasp and all but handed any deep southern state in question to John F. Kennedy. Lodge's statement in conjunction with the Eisenhower debacle caused a measurable distrust between the American people and Richard Nixon that was multiplied by pro-Kennedy press. During this time, Kennedy began to inch ever slightly ahead.

In the midst of campaigning in North Carolina, Nixon rammed his knee into a car door; but, decided not to seek any medical treatment for injury, passing it off as discomfort. The resulting wound soon became infected during the constant movement of the campaign. The staff infection soon became so serious that the Vice President had no choice but to seek medical attention. Doctors at Walter Reed hospital administered antibiotics to the wound that had almost claimed Nixon's leg and resigned him to a two week recovery. Now weeks behind his opponent in campaign gains, Nixon was intent as ever on following through with an early campaign promise to visit all 50 United States during the campaign. He stubbornly set out to campaign in the states he had yet to visit, one of them including a scheduled trip to Alaska a mere week before the first Presidential debate in September. Robert Finch had other ideas for the nominee.


Vice President Nixon in the hospital - 1960

Conversation between Richard Nixon and Robert Finch recorded during the prepping for a campaign appearance:

Finch: Dick, I simply just don’t understand why in the hell you are so hard pressed toward following through with this nonsense… We don't need to visit Alaska. We're already going to win it.
Nixon: Bob…look, I made a promise and dropping it is going to do nothing but give Kennedy and his press boys another thing to beat us with.
Finch: Di…
Nixon: Bob.. I intend to follow through with that promise.
Finch: Look, no one in the states you have visited, and none of those already on your side in the polls are going to switch to Jack Kennedy if you don’t go to Alaska.
Nixon: And if I don’t go, Kennedy’s boys will throw that into some other god forsaken commercial. I can't believe how fast this has gone to hell. Henry, blabbing his mouth all over the damn place about a negro in the cabinet… he’s doing more harm than good. I should have pushed Nelson harder before the Convention.
Finch: You just got out of the goddamn hospital, you look sick, and you need to win over the states you don't have. This is a lot closer of an election than we had ever anticipated a few months ago… We. Need. Every. Little. Thing. to go for us from here on out. And that means you need to recover. To hell with the Alaska visit and to hell with all the other visits, Its only 3 electoral votes for Christ’s sake. We're gonna lose a hell of a lot more than that if we don't get you back in fighting shape before those debates.
Nixon: Cancel the damn appearances.
Finch: Win the debate and we win the election. Its all that matters right now.
*End Recording*



Senator Kennedy making an impromptu speech in Ohio. - 1960

Kennedy did nothing but speed up his campaign during the two week period of Nixon's hospitalization. His chief focus gazed at larger more electorally important states such as New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Kennedy's Catholic faith had provided an intense challenge in what was usually the Solid South. The Southern culture was steadfastly against a Catholic holding the nation's highest office out of fear that a Catholic would take orders from the Pope, it was an image and misconception that the Kennedy campaign had to overcome. Lyndon Johnson worked tirelessly to bring voters over to the Democratic ticket and used his pull in Congress to have other Democrats do the same. Because of Kennedy and Johnson’s work in the south, and the “Black cabinet member” gaffe by Lodge, the Democrats looked to hold the South in heavy numbers; if only out of party loyalty.

To both candidates, there was an opportunity that was looked at in unison to be the best chance to secure the nation’s blessing, and in the world of politics it had never been seen before. The first of four Presidential debates would air on September 26, 1960 and would be watched by a vast number of Americans looking to see which candidate would have their support. In the days leading up to the event, both candidates gathered themselves and practiced their possible responses and memorized lists of statistics and facts. Nixon, under the advice of Robert Finch and Edward A. Rogers, continued to make campaign appearances but only in states that they believed Nixon had a real chance of swaying further. To make up for his weight loss while in the hospital, Rogers instructed staff to “fatten up” the Vice President through a mixture of different fatty foods and drinks. Rogers further prescribed Nixon to take an hour a day to get some sun when applicable, to which Nixon aptly refused in favor of additional campaign stops to gain last minute support. Finch made an effort to work around Nixon's stubbornness by organizing most staff meetings involving the Vice President to be held outside.

By September 26th, Nixon had regained his lost weight, appeared healthy, and was prepared to face the opposing side of the race.


1. Nixon is convinced not to go to campaign trips in Alaska, and instead focus on the mainland states that he has a chance at winning.
2. While not going to Alaska, Nixon's health is allowed to recuperate.
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The Debate to End All Debates
The Debate to End All Debates


Richard Nixon during his opening statement of the 1st televised debate. - 1960

“Feed him Eggs and pancakes, put butter on everything, pour milkshakes down his throat, and feed him anything that gives him weight. We should be sitting him in diners in nearly every campaign stop at some point or another. And make sure he eats most of the plate! Fatten him up!” – Edward Rogers (Campaign trail, 1960) - instructing the campaign on getting Nixon back to proper weight.

“Tell Bob Haldeman that I don’t care who he is, but he’s not the one leading this campaign. That’s my job, and he can get the hell out of the way. Ed Rogers is to have full access to the Vice President.” – Robert Finch (Campaign Trail, 1960)

“The television and radio stations of the United States and their affiliated stations are proud to provide facilities for a discussion of issues in the current political campaign by the two major candidates for the Presidency.” – Howard K. Smith (1st Presidential Debate, 1960)


VP Nixon during the 1st debate. - 1960

“I would have to strongly disagree with Senator Kennedy in his implications that this nation is standing still as he says it.. We have this country moving, and we’re going to keep it moving. Our economy is growing, despite the recent recession year, and we still lead the soviets… in economic opportunity and production in numerous areas. In the fields of housing or health or medical care, schools, and the development of electrical power, we have programs that will keep America moving and build on the successes over these past seven and a-half years.” – Richard M. Nixon (1st Presidential Debate, 1960)

“I think a negro baby today should have the same chances in this country as a white (baby). I don’t think the talents of any American should go to waste.” - John F. Kennedy (1st Presidential Debate, 1960)

"I think that Senator Kennedy agrees completely and subscribes to my way of thinking in these cases. What Senator Kennedy just said is what I have been saying in my campaign and to the citizens I have met across this great nation through the entirety of my candidacy." - Richard Nixon (1st Presidential Debate, 1960)

“I want them to say these were the years when the tide came in. These were the years when the United States started to move again.” –John F. Kennedy (1st Presidential Debate, 1960)

"I myself have spoken face to face with the Soviet leadership, and I can say with absolute certainty that no Nixon Administration would allow the Soviet Union gains against the United States. What Senator Kennedy has alluded to is not backed by the facts and is simply untrue." - Richard M. Nixon (1st Presidential Debate)


Senator Kennedy during the 1st Debate - 1960

On the night of September 26th 1960, Nixon shaved the light shade of stubble on his chin and neck before arriving and after a brief argument with his staff had makeup reluctantly applied for the cameras due to the unceasing demand from Rogers. It was due to Nixon’s lack of ‘detectable complexion on camera’ that Rogers insisted that it be applied. As the makeup was applied, he practiced over facts again and again, mulled over and over numerous dates, definitions, and denotations and was hotly determined not to perform any gaffes that would practically hand over the election to Senator Kennedy. As the touch-up concluded he headed out onto the stage; and with a healthy appearance for television, a well-rested and energetic Richard Nixon moved to sit in the chair provided for him. In the moments preceding the broadcast, he looked over to the Kennedy camp and smiled at the Senator that years ago had been his friend when their offices were next door to one another.

Nixon made no grand errors, no misstatements, and merely stumbled over a word or two throughout an hour long debate. Although both candidates seemingly agreed in hindsight on several issues, including large areas of their opening statements, Nixon would gain the upper hand as he spoke in how the administration had fought to combat some of the issues posed by Kennedy, and when agreeing, Nixon not once lent his agreement to Kennedy, but instead brought Kennedy into agreement with him. Surprising even his closest advisors, the Vice President seemed to crush Senator Kennedy in the debate.

An estimated 70 million people would see the televised debate displayed in their living rooms and those watching easily agreed that Nixon seemed just as sharp and equally as energetic and composed as Kennedy. A few days following the first debate, the general consensus was that Richard Nixon had won a victory over Senator Kennedy by a comfortable margin. The first debate proved to be the decision maker among most Americans; a fact shown by the sheer plummeting of viewers tuning in for the subsequent debates of which Nixon won the second and Kennedy being declared the victor of the third and the fourth. The later Kennedy victories due partially in part to Nixon once again focusing more on campaigning than preparing for the debate in any manner which led him to appear very tired by the time of the fourth debate. Nixon’s refocused campaign set its newly energized sights firmly on the states of Illinois, Missouri, and California of which were deemed very narrow in the polls. The much needed electrical spark brought on by his performance in the first two debates gave the Vice Presidents just what he needed to keep his campaign alive and well.

1. Nixon comes in healthier with weight loss combated.
2. Some alternate quotes from Nixon.
3. Nixon is said to have beat Kennedy in the first debate.
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Closing Moves: Final Days of the Campaign
Closing Moves: The Final Days of the Campaigns

“If you gave me a month to think of a single issue when Senator Kennedy's words influenced decisions in this administration, I could not think of one because there has never been one. Mr. Nixon however I easily could do so, he has been an excellent Vice President that has served with distinction.” – President Dwight Eisenhower (at a campaign appearance in Illinois, October, 1960)

“No one in the recent history of this nation has had the preparation and grooming to become the President of the United States that Richard Nixon has..had. An entire 8 years of close guided experience next to the President and the Presidential cabinet is what separates him from Senator Kennedy. The choice couldn’t be any clearer.” – Henry C. Lodge Jr. (campaign appearance in California – September, 1960)

“I think I should call that judge and give him a piece of my mind, tell him exactly him what I have in mind, why I think it's wrong.” – Robert F. Kennedy (to John Seigenthaler - prior to boarding an airplane; October 1960)

“If I were you, I wouldn't do it. I would choose to forget it. Like you were saying earlier when you learned about the whole situation...It could cost Jack the vote down there if you don’t handle it correctly. We very well might have to kiss the South and a lot more goodbye if it gets out.” – John Seigenthaler (To Robert Kennedy prior to him boarding an airplane; October, 1960)

With just weeks left in the campaigns, Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested along with a number of students at Rich’s Department Store in Atlanta, Georgia during a sit-in protest. Although the police had arrested all of those in attendance, the students who had taken part were released but the authorities had kept the civil rights leader in their custody. Their claim was that King had been charged with a traffic violation that violated the probation he was currently under. As a result, his release and bail were denied and he was looking at being given 6 months hard labor in Reedsville State Penitentiary. Senator Kennedy, heard of the arrest from a campaign advisor and saw the situation as an opportunity to gain headway in the African American vote. With that intention, the Senator placed a call to Coretta Scott King.


Kennedy making a call during one of the last days of campaigning - 1960

Recording of telephone call excerpt from Senator John F. Kennedy to Mrs. Coretta S. King (October, 1960):

Mrs. King: (audibly upset) Hello?
Kennedy: Mrs. King?
Mrs. King: ...Yes...
Kennedy: This is Senator Jack Kennedy… I’ve, heard that your husband’s been arrested down in.. down in Atlanta… I just wanted to make a call to you to show that you have people on your side and that I am personally wanting to help look after your well-being as well as your husband’s. What has happened down there is simply unacceptable.
Mrs. King: Thank you Mr. Kennedy..
*conversation cut for privacy*
Kennedy: …and I just want you to know that I have you in my prayers, and that if there is anything… anything at all I can do for you, you don’t hesitate to ask. If there’s anything helpful we can do we’ll do our best to do it… you have my word on that.
Mrs. King: I appreciate that very much.
Kennedy: Thank you. Please be careful and take care Mrs. King, we’re on your side down there. Please.. do your best to have a peaceful evening.
Mrs. King: Goodbye Mr. Kennedy
Kennedy: Bye….
*End of recording*

Following his call to Coretta King, Kennedy also made the attempt to telephone Martin Luther King’s father but proved unable to get a hold of him. When King learned of the call to his wife, he issued a statement thanking the support of those he was glad to call brothers in the fight for civil rights, and in addition thanked Senator Kennedy for his support in the matter. Robert Kennedy, who had initially been infuriated about his brother's call and its possible damage to the campaign, had become vocal about his intention to personally call the judge in De Kalb County as to why King had been refused bail. John Seigenthaler, his Administrative Assistant, while understanding and partially in agreement as to the wrongness of the entire situation was equally vocal as to why he believed it wasn’t the best of ideas and did his best to convince him that it was not in the campaign's best interest. Following the flight, Robert Kennedy picked up a phone and stared blankly at the rotary dial and envisioned the possibility of the call ending catastrophically. Kennedy ultimately decided that the election was too important to risk even one thing going wrong. He set the phone back down onto the desk and walked away to help run what was left of the campaign, while promising himself that he would do something once his brother won the election.

In the final week before the election, President Eisenhower would begin a vigorous campaign tour across the Eastern Seaboard and the Midwest in order to gain last minute headway for the Vice President. The President’s stops attracted large crowds and reinforced Nixon supporters in key states, and gained more in those that Nixon and Kennedy were evenly matched. By the day of the election, Richard Nixon was edging slightly ahead in the polls across many states that just a month before were expected to swing to Kennedy and the Democrats.

1. Martin Luther King Jr. is not released from prison due to Kennedy intervention
2. Martin Luther King Sr. does not endorse Kennedy.
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The contents of this update can now be found on "Applauded Today, Forgotten Tomorrow" this timelines companion timeline.
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Election Night: 1960
Election Night: 1960

The Night of the election was one of close tension and incredibly heightened anxiety. Initially, Senator Kennedy exploded across the electoral map and despite Nixon’s increased polling numbers in the weeks leading up to the election,

Nixon had convinced himself that the election would go to Kennedy and attempted to go to bed early on election night to avoid the whole affair after returning from a day trip to Mexico to drink margaritas, but was intercepted by his wife Pat. She insisted he stay up for his victory and refused to accept the possibility that her husband would be defeated by Kennedy, especially after her husband's debate performance. The Nixon's sat with their supporters in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles and watched as the returns came in. The Kennedy's, held a more private gathering of family members and close advisors at their family compound on the other end of the country in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.

Early signs seemed to point as if Kennedy would declare an early victory when results poured in from several major cities such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Detroit and Chicago. This early success for Senator Kennedy gave a very misleading view to those watching and waiting; and as more rural areas had their votes counted Nixon began to quickly close the gap. With the night continuing, the vote count for the two candidates moved closer and closer to looking practically identical to one another.

Recorded Conversation between Vice President Nixon and his wife Pat Nixon - (Election Night; 1960)

Pat: What’s everyone saying? I heard they called New York a half hour ago…
Nixon: They’re calling Texas too, along with Michigan….hmmm… Maybe we didn’t do enough, Pat…Maybe we made one too many mistakes. I'm going to lose this thing aren't I...
Pat: No… Don’t say that. The people, they’ll know who to vote for. You’ve given too much for them not to. Trust them like they are going to trust you
Nixon: I don’t know Pat… This is close… this is just really close.
Unidentified Voice: They just called California!… that’s 46 votes for us! *cheering*
Nixon: Let me know when they call Illinois okay? and can anyone get Robert in here please? I'd like to see what he has to say about it…
*End of Recording*

Conversation Between Senator John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy – (Election Night; 1960)

John: What are they saying about Illinois Bobby?
*heavy background noise of people cheering, booing and talking*
Robert: Nothing for us that’s for Goddamn sure.
John: What is that supposed to mean?
Robert: It means that Nixon is… he’s doing us over pretty good. It keeps flipping back and forth. Too close, then to us, then to him, and back to too close again. I don’t feel good about it. Not at all Jack.
*Loud booing*
John: ……And there went Illinois…
Robert: Goddammit!
*End Conversation*

Conversation between Senator John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy – (Election Night; 1960)

John: Have you talked to dad for a while?
Robert: When he noticed it not heading our way he went to his room, he won't talk to anybody…
John: pissed?
Robert: pissed… yes…. Depressed…. Yes…
John: Jackie caught me humming Hail to the Chief in the shower this morning… looks like I may have been ahead of myself. If Dick keeps moving up like he has……… We might just lose this damn thing…
Robert: It’s only Midnight, we.. Look, we knew this was going to be close.. It’s closer than we expected, but we can still pull this off Jack.
John: Piss on someone else’s back and tell them it’s raining… We’re dead in the water Bobby. We’re stagnating when we should be moving, and where we’re not moving… Nixon is.
*audible silence*
John: We need to get the draft of a concession speech ready for when we need it. If We need it.
Robert: We have one here.
John: If we haven’t started to pull ahead in 30 minutes… I’m planning to concede. Then we’ll start licking the wounds.”
*End of Recording*


As the night turned to early morning, Nixon edged ahead of Kennedy in the key states of Arkansas, Illinois, New Mexico, and New Jersey. By 3:00 in the morning it was becoming clear the Vice President Richard Milhous Nixon was likely going to win the Presidential election of 1960. It would take until 10:00 the next morning for all votes to be accounted for and confirmed for the awaiting nation that the next 4 years would be a continuation of the Republicans in the White House.


Senator Kennedy officially conceding the 1960 Presidential election the morning after election day- 1960

“Ladies and Gentleman… If what I have seen and heard tonight is the correct information and the votes are of the American voice, It is has become clear to me… That… Our Vice President… Richard Nixon… has won the election of 1960. And therefore…, it appears that Richard Nixon will become our President come next year. I extend my hopes and prayers that the next four years be those of movement and prosperity for our nation. Let us not hold feelings of discontent or malice, but feelings of hope. Let there be an absence of rancor and hostility and let us all Americans look to the future, and through these next four years let us have the belief that we as a country… can stand united and face any fear… stand strong and fight any battle… and stand free and show the world the greatness in all Americans. The American people have spoken, and the man to lead us through these next few years… is Richard Nixon. I stand here… to announce that I concede the election for the Presidency of the United States to none other than Richard Nixon. I shall return to Washington to fulfill my duties as Senator of the great state of Massachusetts. I would like to thank anyone… and everyone… who has supported this campaign, especially the efforts of Senator Johnson…and my brother Robert. Your work has been greatly appreciated and of a great deal of importance. And to those out there tonight, I thank you. To America I thank you. And to all… I bid you a safe and kind goodnight.” – Senator John F. Kennedy (Concession Letter/Speech; 1960)


President Elect Nixon with Wife Pat filled with happiness - 1960

“Senator Kennedy has just sent me a message, in it… he states that he is indeed conceding the Presidential Election, and that he wishes us well and congratulates us on the victory we have secured here tonight. And to him… I say congratulations on a well-run campaign, and that I wish Senator Kennedy well in whatever he plans to accomplish in the future. *applause interrupts Nixon* Thank you!… Thank you!... May I say… May I say that tonight has not only been a victory for myself, but it has been a victory for all of you out there. To the staff who have helped and to those that stayed strong and loyal throughout the campaign… In turn, it is a victory for all Americans regardless of party that the traditions set forth by our Founding Fathers have been upheld in our country as they are every 4 years. The years ahead will contain both triumphs and tragedies and we must be equipped to handle such events accordingly. And the people can be safely assured that the man they have elected tonight will devote every ounce of his power and every ounce of his strength in doing just so. For America, and the free world abroad, we must always stay vigilant and never swaying in our vigilance. Now we continue onward as we have, and look to the future, for limitless opportunities. Thank You.” – Richard Nixon (Election night; 1960)


RICHARD M. NIXON / HENRY LODGE - 277 Electoral Votes
JOHN F. KENNEDY / LYNDON B. JOHNSON- 252 Electoral Votes

HARRY BYRD- 8 Electoral Votes

“For those of you who retired to bed before midnight last night, we have received confirmation this morning… that with the total of 277 electoral votes… Vice President Richard Milhous Nixon has secured his victory in this election, and is on the road to the White House. Senator Kennedy in turn received 252 electoral votes. Even with the votes still being counted this morning, it would appear that this is perhaps the closest election in US Presidential history with fewer than 200,000 votes between President Elect Nixon and Senator Kennedy. Senator Kennedy conceded the election to the President Elect at around 12:46 this morning before retiring to bed himself. Although the crowd around Kennedy seemed visibly upset, Kennedy himself appeared collected, calm, and optimistic towards the next four years. We’ll be back after a short break, be sure to stay tuned in for further updates with this CBS Special Election Coverage.” – Douglas Edwards (CBS Special Election Coverage; 1960)

“My congratulations to Mr. Nixon on his pending promotion to the Presidency, he and his family will move in to this most illustrious home we have had the treasure of calling our own for the past 8 years. We’ll leave the light on for the Nixon's, on our way out. I have the fullest faith in the President Elect to lead this nation into this next decade, no doubt about it.” – President Eisenhower (Press Conference; 1960)

“It is with the victory of Richard Nixon in the 1960 election that I was convinced that the Democratic Party had left me, and the Republican Party was becoming more of a match to my ideological views of the time. Little did I know what the coming years had in store… nor did I know some of the events that would come to sway and rock my own opinions.” – Ronald Wilson Reagan (The American Way – The Memoirs of Ronald Reagan; 1984)

“I don’t want another damn Kennedy on a ticket I’m involved with ever again. They have the electoral capability of chicken shit I tell you! Had the conference backed me, we'd be moving into the White House in January and I'd be waving as Tricky Dick was sent back to California with his tail between his legs. Now look at what we have the pleasure of working with because the rich kid couldn't practice hard enough for a fucking debate.” – Lyndon B. Johnson (to undisclosed aide; 1961)
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