Election 1940: Willkie in Jersey City (10-7-40)

The Pittsburgh Press (October 7, 1940)


Nominee Denounces Boss Rule as He Invades Democratic Stronghold

By William H. Lawrence, United Press Staff Writer

Jersey City, N.J., Oct. 7 –

Wendell L. Willkie came to Democratic Jersey City today and in a speech said that Mayor Frank Hague was “a puny Hitler.”

Mr. Willkie spoke in Journal Square, heart of Mayor Hague’s political stronghold, denouncing “boss rule” by “any person that deprives you of the exercise of civil liberties” and “who should be treated like the enemy he is.” Lieutenant Wallace of the State Police estimated the crowd numbered 8,000 to 10,000 persons.

He (Hague) must have forgotten all about American principles.

Some Boo Willkie

Some of the crowd booed.

Frank Hague – Frank Hague. Frank Hague on the ship of state, why there won’t be anything left on the ship of state when he gets through. Frank Hague, the confidante of Presidents.

Mr. Willkie said the New Deal sought “to perpetuate itself in power by the combination of the greatest group of corruptionists and racketeers.” He told the crowd that residents of New Jersey gradually were losing their civil liberties.

I call upon you to bring civil liberties to its full functioning in Jersey City.

Warns People

If we do that, and the people do that in every city, our great constitutional liberties will remain, but if we do not, and snip them off piece by piece, all will fail.

The Willkie party, traveling in 15 autos, left New York this morning and ferried to Hoboken. Then the cavalcade drove slowly to Jersey City.

A big Democratic sign headed “Protect America with Roosevelt,” and listing the Democratic national and state tickets hung above Mr. Willkie’s car as it stopped half a block from the speaker a stand.

In the center of the Square hung another sign: “Jersey City Welcomes Willkie, Our Next President.”

Police Blow Sirens

At the start of the speech, local Republicans exploded aerial bombs, making it impossible for some of the crowd to hear. Then the chairman of the meeting asked those in charge to “cease firing.”

Previously, Jersey City policemen, part of a force of 600 men assigned to protect the candidate, kept sirens blowing and motorcycles running during part of the introductory exercises. The speakers could not be heard at the outskirts of the crowd.

When the crowd quieted, Mr. Willkie began talking about Mayor Hague. The crowd applauded. A few boos were intermingled. Mayor Hague, Mr. Willkie said, tried to tell Jersey City people who could speak in Journal Square and who could not.

Outlines Program

Appealing for votes, Mr. Willkie promised to rebuild the domestic economy, establish adequate defense, promote national unity and continue relief until all of the unemployed got jobs.

He also sought support for Senator W. Warren Barbour, who is running against James H. R. Cromwell. He asked for the election of State Senator Robert C. Hendrickson as Governor “to restore civil liberties throughout the state.”

Mr. Willkie said:

All the military defense on earth won’t do us any good if we don’t have civil defense – moral defense – the defense of militant American consciences – first of all. Defense begins at home – right here in Journal Square – with the civil liberties of every citizen of this community.

Raps ‘Courtesy’ Order

Mr. Willkie’s reference to Mayor Hague as “a puny Hitler” came as the candidate referred sarcastically to the mayor’s order to Jersey City police to see that Mr. Willkie was accorded a fair hearing.

He must have forgotten all about American principles. Why shouldn’t the people listen to me courteously without having to be told by this man? There are two reasons. First, for seven and a half years, the doctrine of bitterness has been preached from the highest places. Secondly, men like this puny Hitler here have attempted to say who shall and who shall not speak, to decide who shall be treated courteously.

Will Broadcast Tonight

The Jersey City speech was the first of a tour through northern New Jersey districts in search of the state’s 16 electoral votes.

Mr. Willkie will speak tonight in Newark. His address will be broadcast by KQV at 8:30 p.m.

Though New Jersey is largely Republican, it went to President Roosevelt in 1932 and 1936 because of the tremendous Democratic majorities in Hudson County turned in by the Hague machine.

Journal Square was the place where, in the last few years, various persons have tried to attack Mayor Hague on the grounds that he had suppressed civil liberties.

Jersey City policemen prevented Socialist presidential nominee Norman Thomas speaking there; also former Representatives Jerry O’Connell and John T. Bernard.

CIO Unions Barred

Congress of Industrial Organization unions were not permitted to hold meetings there or elsewhere in the city, until the Supreme Court upheld injunctions restraining Mayor Hague from interfering with persons exercising their civil liberties.

In that period, Mayor Hague got national publicity by asserting:

I am the law.

Mayor Hague took precautions against disorder during Mr. Willkie’s visit. He instructed Public Safety Director Daniel Casey to make certain “that Mr. Willkie, as a Presidential candidate of a major political party in this country, be assured of a respectful hearing in an orderly gathering.”

Mr. Willkie asked:

What kind of civil liberty is there if a certain big shot in some community must request the people of that community to give a hearing to somebody who wants to speak to them? How did he get that way? What kind of civil liberty is it if somebody can dictate to any of you about your right to listen? What kind of civil liberty is it if somebody dares to dictate to you how you should vote?

What good is the Bill of Rights to a county that can’t have voting machines even though the State Legislature ordered them? – and some individual interfered with the democratic process to the extent of crushing the whole proposition? Is that freedom? Is that what our Constitution guarantees you? You know it is not.

Mr. Willkie conferred with President William Green of the American Federation of Labor yesterday, but the political significance, if any, was not clear because Mr. Willkie would not say more than that they had “a very pleasant conversation,” and Mr. Green left without comment. President William Hutcheson, head of the AFL’s Carpenters’ Union, sat in on the meeting.

The AFL, as such, has not endorsed a presidential candidate since 1924, but Mr. Green early in the 1936 campaign gave his personal endorsement to Mr. Roosevelt. Mr. Hutcheson, a Republican, backed Alf Landon in 1936 and is supporting Mr. Willkie now.

It was disclosed after the Green conference that Mr. Willkie talked briefly with CIO President John L. Lewis at the home of “a mutual friend” in New York 10 days ago, but Lem Jones, Mr. Willkie’s press secretary, said that several other persons were present and that it did not approximate a “private conference.”

Mr. Lewis, who backed Mr. Roosevelt in 1936, has announced whom he will support this year but has predicted Mr. Roosevelt’s “ignominious defeat.”

Other Broadcasts Planned

Over the weekend, Mr. Willkie announced that he would participate in an Associated Willkie Clubs of America broadcast over the red network of the National Broadcasting Co. at 10:30 p.m. tomorrow and would take part in another national broadcast October 28, which he has designated as “National No Third Term Day.”

WCAE will broadcast tomorrow night’s program beginning at 8:30 p.m.

Mr. Willkie said:

No matter how capable or well-meaning he may be, there is no indispensable man in a democracy. When we accept the idea that any one man is indispensable, we take a long stride away from democracy directly toward dictatorship in fact if not in name.

The anti-third term ceremony was set by Mr. Willkie after he had received a telegram from 50 persons who asserted that Mr. Roosevelt’s re-election would “gravely menace…our democratic system of government.”

Davis Kin Signs

Signers of the telegram included Senator Edward R. Burke (D-NE), Jefferson Haves Davis (Colorado Springs, grandson of Jefferson Davis of the Confederacy), former Gov. Cary Hardee of Florida, Judge Samuel Seabury of New York and former Democratic Gov. Charles H. Martin of Oregon.

The conference with Mr. Green was one of several held by Mr. Willkie yesterday, on what, in his schedule, was labeled “a day of rest.” He talked with Representative Joseph W. Martin, the Republican National Chairman, who on Saturday described the latest Gallup Poll indicating 499 electoral votes for Mr. Roosevelt and only 32 for Willkie as “preposterous.”

Today Dr. George Gallup said the poll covered samplings of public opinion taken between Sept. 20 and Oct. 2 and that the picture might have changed in recent days.

It is possible that Willkie has gained in the past few days. It remains to be seen in the next poll which will be released October 18.


Chicago, Oct. 7 (UP) –

National Headquarters of Young Republican Clubs announced today that Wendell L. Willkie, Republican presidential nominee, will address American youth October 21 in a talk at Minneapolis.

The talk will be delivered before a rally of young Republicans and first voters and will be broadcast nationally at 9 p.m. (10 p.m. ET). The Young Republican clubs have designated October 21 as National Young Republican Day.