Remnants and Reflections


I read every word of your cover story "Great Moments in Campaign History" [January 28-February 4] and marvel at how great people can do or say less-than-great things.

How mortal of them. The memorabilia decorating the story were especially welcome, and political junkies and collectors in your audience may wish to know about a major show that opened here on February 5. "Packaging Presidents" contains hundreds of pins, bandannas, cigar boxes, video clips, etc., from the early days of the republic on up through our own time. Who remembers Alf Landon's sunflower theme of 1936? Illinois favorite son Abraham Lincoln receives gargantuan treatment in the show with a handmade 18-foot banner from 1864, never before exhibited. The show runs until November 9, just after Election Day.

James M. Cornelius

Curator, Lincoln Collection
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
Springfield, Ill.  

After reading about president Gerald Ford's nationally televised gaffe during his debate with Jimmy Carter in "What I Really Meant to Say Was . . . " I recalled when Gov. Alfred M. Landon was campaigning against Franklin D. Roosevelt during the summer of 1936 on the portico of the old governor's mansion in Topeka, Kan. I found it a great venue to get autographs when I was in high school. One July morning, Pennsylvania Gov. Gifford Pinchot was interviewing Landon, with Roy Roberts of the Kansas City Star and William Allen White of the Emporia Gazette standing with me nearby. I recall that after Landon responded to one of Pinchot's questions about the environment, White, the sage of Emporia, broke in with, "What the governor really meant to say was . . . ." This was my first taste of presidential politics.

William H. Smith

Palm Desert, Calif.  

Your article "Lincoln Boffo in the Big Apple," on the 1860 election, states that Lincoln said no to slavery in the territories and Democrat Stephen Douglas said yes. Because Douglas said each territory's residents should decide (popular sovereignty) and did not say yes to slavery there, Southern Democrats selected a candidate (John Breckinridge) who said yes to slavery in the territories. With those two Democrats and a fourth candidate (John Bell) splitting the anti-Lincoln votes, Abe won with about 40 percent of the vote.

Edward H. Bonekemper III

Civil War and military history author
Willow Street, Pa.  

Eugene Mccarthy ["1968: A Spiral of Chaos and Death"] was hardly "an unknown Minnesota senator." He was a highly respected member of the Senate, a popular speaker at Democratic functions across the country, and an author of several books. Lyndon B. Johnson nearly selected McCarthy as his running mate in 1964.

Roger S. Peterson

Rocklin, Calif.  

Your article "Phony Letter Helped Unseat a President" was fascinating, but it brought to mind a more egregiously phony letter about President George W. Bush's military record. That letter failed to bring down the president but succeeded in bringing down a powerful news anchor—Dan Rather.

Thomas L. Jones

Pickford, Mich.