This blog kicks off a short series of biweekly posts celebrating the 50th anniversary of Barry Goldwater’s 1964 Presidential campaign. That campaign caught the hearts of many South Carolinians and helped create an environment in which a nascent Republican Party began its rise to parity and eventual domination of South Carolina.
An exhibit in the Hollings Library’s Brittain Gallery, October 16 through November, In Your Heart, You Know He’s Right: 50th anniversary of Barry Goldwater’s 1964 Presidential Campaign, will celebrate the anniversary and feature campaign ephemera.
Neal Thigpen, a historian of the Party, wrote a guest column for the Florence Morning News, Dec. 5 1977, titled “South Carolina Was Key to Goldwater Candidacy.” In that column, he traced the origins of the Goldwater boom of 1964 to events in South Carolina in 1959 and 1960. The following is an extensive quote from that article:
It all began in the fall of 1959 when South Carolina Republican chairman Gregory D. Shorey Jr. brought Goldwater to Greenville to speak at a party banquet. There and over statewide television he introduced the senator as his choice for the 1960 Republican nomination. Goldwater evidently didn’t take Shorey very seriously at the time. But many people who attended the banquet that evening and thousands more who saw the television program, took Shorey’s endorsement to heart.
In fact, the response to his announcement was so encouraging that Shorey and Roger Milliken, the state party’s finance chairman, invited Goldwater to come to Columbia to deliver the keynote address at the 1960 state convention. The speech the Senator gave that day unwittingly won him the unanimous support of the more than 500 Republicans at the gathering. Before they adjourned, South Carolina’s 13 national convention votes were officially pledged to Goldwater for president. Not wishing to appear a political orphan in his own home state, the senator got Arizona Republicans to back him as a favorite-son, intending all the while to throw his support to Richard Nixon.
But by July, when the Republican national convention opened in Chicago, pressure on Goldwater to become a bona fide candidate and to seriously oppose the vice president for the nomination had begun to build. Volunteers from the Goldwater-for-President Committee, which Greg Shorey headed, scurried about the convention hotels attempting to line up delegate support. Goldwater realized, however, that Nixon had the nomination sewed up, and he decided t discourage those working on his behalf by releasing the delegates formally pledged to him so they could cast their ballots for the winner.
Members of the South Carolina delegation, from its leaders, Greg Shorey, Roger Milliken and Robert F. Chapman, who later succeeded Shorey as state chairman, down to the last alternate, urged Goldwater to remain in the contest. Many argued that he should at least allow his name to be placed in nomination. By so doing, he could then make a withdrawal speech to the convention that would give him and the conservative cause he represented invaluable nationwide television exposure. Reluctantly, Goldwater went along with the South Carolinians.
That night, to the thunderous applause of the delegates, the senator mounted the convention rostrum and asked that his name be withdrawn from nomination. In his now famous address, he expounded his conservative political philosophy and urged his followers to stay within the party: Let’s grow up, conservatives! If we want to take this party back, and I think we can someday, let’s go to work! Goldwater did work loyally for the Nixon-Lodge ticket and the South Carolinian Republican returned home more determined than ever to make him the party’s presidential nominee four years hence. . . .
SCPC holds a number of collections (and oral history interviews) documenting the rise of the Republican Party in South Carolina. A number of our collections include wonderful ephemera documenting the Goldwater campaign. The collections of Greg Shorey, Charles Boineau, and, surprisingly, Democrat Bryan Dorn, are particularly rich in Goldwater material. Please plan to visit starting Oct. 16th and see a little of what captivated South Carolinians just fifty years ago, and marvel at the changes in our political landscape.