How many presidential campaigns have made their way through Schuylkill County?
John F. Kennedy spoke in Garfield Square in Pottsville on October 28, 1960, gathering a crowd estimated at 12,000 people. His visit was followed almost immediately by the GOP Truth Squad, notable for flying in the first large-size commercial airliner ever to land at Joe Zerbey airport. Most people know about this visit, but other candidates have stumped in the county as well.
President Harry S. Truman was in Pottsville on October 21, 1952, traveling via an 18-car train and speaking at Veterans’ Memorial Stadium to a crowd of 8,000 shivering listeners. An editorial in the next day’s Pottsville Republican newspaper stated, “Schuylkill county people feel honored by the visit of President Truman last night even though a majority here cannot agree with him politically.” This was the first (and only) visit of a sitting President of the United States to Pottsville and Schuylkill County.
Richard Nixon visited Schuylkill County on October 24, 1968 to campaign. That same day, Edmund Muskie, vice presidential candidate on the ticket with Hubert Humphrey, also spoke to local voters.
Vice Presidents have also made the trip to the anthracite region.
Vice presidential candidate Lyndon B. Johnson visited Ashland, Frackville, St. Clair, and Pottsville on October 18, 1960 for the Democrats, while v. p. candidate Henry Cabot Lodge was in Pottsville and Shenandoah on November 4, 1960, campaigning for the Republican Nixon/Lodge ticket.
Vice President Dick Cheney spoke to 2,000 ticket holders at a Republican rally in Martz Hall in Pottsville on August 25, 2004. His visit was marked as much by the protests as by what he said to his supporters.
And don’t forget the former presidents campaigning for their parties.
Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt visited Schuylkill County twice, October 26 and 28, 1914. On the 26th he “toured the county, stopping at the leading towns for five minute addresses and leaving his train in Pottsville for one hour to make an address in the Hippodrome.” His visit to Pottsville on the 28th was only a 10 minute speech given at the railroad station.
Then there was William “Bill” Clinton’s visit to the Girardville St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 29, 2008. An estimated 30,000 people were in town that day for the parade and his appearance, and it took him 2 ¼ hours to walk through the borough. He was campaigning for Hillary Clinton’s nomination as the Democratic presidential candidate.
Read more about these visits from newspaper clippings in the library’s Vertical File collection.