Free Vermont


Free Vermont


Anti-Vietnam War Movement


A New Left poster from Burlington, Vermont, that offers a variation on German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller's poem, "First they came ..." The poem offers a critique of the cowardice of German intellectuals who failed to act as the Nazis rose to power, targeting group after group, until the tragedy of fascism and holocaust was upon them. In this case, activists were protesting a visit by President Richard Nixon to Burlington in 1970. In Nixon's arrival speech, he said:

October 17, 1970
Governor Davis, Senator Prouty, Congressman Stafford, all of the distinguished guests on the platform, and all of the distinguished members of this audience:

As you probably are aware, this is the first campaign stop that I have had the opportunity to make in 1970, and I am proud that it is in the State of Vermont. There are personal reasons for that statement that would be of interest, I am sure, to the young people here. My two daughters have very fond memories of their visit to this State to Camp Teela Wooket. I am glad to be back because of that.

The other reason is that as I look back on the record of the State of Vermont, in a personal sense, again, on all the occasions that I have been on the national ticket, I have lost some States but I have always carried Vermont. Thank you very much.

A third reason is that I am very proud to be here on a special day which is nonpolitical in one respect, certainly, the homecoming day of the University of Vermont. I also want to say that, speaking of the university, lets pay our respects to the Rice Memorial [High School] Band over here. How about that? And to the Canadian Geese 1 in the back. The Vermont Turkeys are going to go up to Canada on an exchange visit for the Canadian Geese next week.

1 The Canadian Geese Rock Band of Saint Michael's College, Winooski, Vt.

But there is a more fundamental reason in this year 1970 that I am very happy to be here to open this campaign in Vermont. It has to do with the fact that I have enormous respect for the men who are candidates on your ticket here this year. Let me mention them each briefly. Bob Stafford, who has been formerly your Governor, then a Congressman.

One thing that you know about the people from Vermont is this--and it is true of all of those representing Vermont in Washington and in the statehouse-whether it is George Aiken, who is a man whose wise counsel I have benefited from as President of the United States and prior to that time, or whether it is a case of Bob Stafford, a man who came to the Congress in the 87th Congress, and all of the Congressmen in the country who were elected that year elected him as their leader.2

2Representative Robert T. Stafford was president of the 87th Club which was made up of freshmen Republican Members of the 87th Congress.

That is an indication of what they think of Vermont and Bob Stafford in Washington, D.C.

I have had the opportunity to meet all the Governors of the 50 States at various Governors' Conferences, and I respect them all. But there are some who stand out and one who stands out is your Governor because he has courage, the courage to do what is right for his State, to take a mess fiscally and clean it up in the State of Vermont.

There is another reason that I admire your Governor and also your Congressman and your Senator, and that is their tenacity. When anything involves the State of Vermont, they are down there in my office pounding on that door until we do something about it.

For example, over these past 2 weeks they have expressed concern about a possible fuel oil shortage in the State of Vermont. Let me tell you I talked to General Lincoln, the head of the Office of Emergency preparedness before I left Washington.

There will be no fuel oil shortage--we will see to that, thanks to what your Governor has told us and your Senator and your Congressman--in the State of Vermont.

Now I come to your Senator, Win Prouty, the man who is running in this State for reelection. Can I speak to all of you now about the importance of this one man, this one vote, and your one vote in this State of Vermont?

Let us understand that in 1968 the country elected a new President, called for new leadership. We also recognized that at that time we had the Congress, both the House and the Senate, under the control of Members of the other party. Nevertheless, we worked with that Congress. Sometimes they voted against, sometimes for.

But in the United States Senate particularly-and all of you, particularly you who studied political science at the university and those who studied it also in high school will know, and all of you who read your papers and listen to television-the United States Senate on the great issues, the issues that involve whether we are going to have a program to bring lasting peace in the world, the issues that involve whether or not we are going to have a program that will stop the ruinous inflation that is robbing your pocketbooks and making it impossible to balance your family budget--when we look at all of these problems we find that in the United States Senate on vote after vote a majority of one determines the outcome.

A shift of one Senator, sometimes two, will determine whether the President's program goes through or whether it doesn't go through. I want to say to you, without Win Prouty's vote I couldn't stand here today and speak with pride of a record of accomplishment in this great field. He is providing that majority of one.

I would like to take the three issues, and I think I am going to take the hardest one first. I hear some of the young people here say stop the war, and I heard it said outside. I understand that.

Let me tell you what we found and then you judge the record and you judge Win Prouty on the basis of that record. When we came into office, we found 550,000 Americans in Vietnam. There was no plan to bring them home. There was no plan to end the war. There was no peace plan that had been submitted.

And what have we done? Let me tell you. We have implemented a plan to bring Americans home, and during the spring of next year half of the men that were in Vietnam when we got there will be coming home. That is what we are going to do.

Second, we wound down the fighting by the strong stand that we took to clean up the sanctuaries in Cambodia. We have cut American casualties to the lowest level in 4 ½ years.

I am not going to be satisfied until not one American is killed in Vietnam, but we are cutting them down and we are going to continue on that course.

And third, my friends, we have presented to the North Vietnamese, over national television--and I am sure many of you heard it--a far-reaching peace plan. We have offered a cease-fire without conditions. We have offered to negotiate all the political settlements with regard to South Vietnam, one that would allow all those in that country to participate in the making of that settlement. We have offered also a plan that would provide for the release of war prisoners on both sides. We have offered a conference on all of Indochina.

Now let me tell you exactly where it stands today. As I stand before you today, I can say confidently the war in Vietnam is coming to an end, and we are going to win a just peace in Vietnam. It will come to an end either--if the enemy accepts our proposal for a cease-fire, it can come to an end more quickly.

If it does not accept that proposal, then we will bring it to an end by continuing to withdraw Americans and replacing them with Vietnamese and allowing the Vietnamese to have the right to choose their own government without having it imposed by North Vietnam or by the United States. Now, isn't that the fair thing to do?

Now let us see what the other side of the argument is. I know the people in this State. My good friend Consuelo Bailey, 3 who has always advised me about Vermont, she has said to me from time to time, "The people up in this State, they want to hear both sides of the argument and want to make up their minds."

3 Consuelo Northrop Bailey, National Republican Committeewoman for Vermont and Secretary of the Republican National Committee.

Let me tell you the other side. I know there are people who say: Why this long road? Why don't we just end the war? I could have done it the day I came into office.

I could have brought all the Americans home. Let me tell you ending a war isn't very difficult. We ended World War I. We ended World War II. We ended Korea. And yet, in this century we have not had a generation of peace.

My friends, what we want to do is to end the war so that the young people that are shouting "Stop the War" will have a generation of peace, and that is the kind of plan that we are trying to implement. So that is what we are doing.

We are ending the war in a way that will discourage those who might start a war.

We are ending the war in a way that will bring permanent peace in the Pacific. It is that kind of program that Win Prouty has stood firmly by.

So I say let us work for what all of us want, not just peace for the next election but peace for the next generation so that the younger brothers and the sons of those who have fought in Vietnam won't have to be fighting in some other Vietnam sometime in the future.

So there is the choice. It is a clear one. Win Prouty, who stands for a just peace and a generation of peace, and those on the other side who say without regard to the future, let's simply end the problems that we are in today.

This is real statesmanship. That is one of the reasons I am here for him.

Let me turn to another subject of equal interest, equal interest in the sense that it affects the pocketbooks of everybody and every family budget. You all know what has happened to prices. You know that when we came into office we found prices going up and up.

You will find also that the reason they were going up and up was that in the years previous to our coming into office that the previous administrations had spent $50 billion more than the economy would have produced in terms of taxes at full employment.

And what did that do? Because Washington spent more than it was taking in or that it could have taken in in full employment, it raised the prices for everybody.

I said when we came into office we were going to stop that. That is why I had to veto some measures--that I felt people were poor in many instances.

Let me just say this: What we have to realize is that we need Senators and Congressmen who have the courage to vote against spending programs that may benefit some of the people but that raise prices and taxes for all people. That is the kind of a program that we stand for. That is the kind of fiscal responsibility that your Governor stands for. It is the kind of fiscal responsibility that Win Prouty stands for.

And we come to a third area, the area of progress. The great choice that the American people had in 1968 and that we now have a chance to reaffirm in 1970 is this: Do we continue to pour good money into bad programs so that eventually we end up with both bad money and bad programs or do we reform the programs of America? That is why this administration says let's reform the welfare system, let's reform our educational system, let's reform our health system, so that America can move forward on a new road. That is the kind of proposal that we offer.

And here the issue is clear. On the one side there are those who say keep pouring the same amount of money, billions, into the welfare program. Let me tell you what I think. I say that when a program makes it more profitable for a man not to work than to work, it is time to get rid of it and get another program. And that is why Win Prouty's strong support of the Family Assistance Program in which we provide help for all of those who need it, but in which we provide that those who are able to work will not only have an incentive to work but a requirement to work--let them work, I say, and if they cannot work then, of course, the welfare will be provided. It is that kind of reform that we stand for.

I could go on in other fields. Take the environment. I noticed that as the plane came down and I looked down on this magnificent countryside, and I know that pretty soon the tourists, the winter tourists, will be coming in, the summer influx having gone home. I can only say to you this, that as I look over America, and I fly over it many, many times, of course, on the way to California, to Florida, and to other States, this is a beautiful country. But, my friends, what we have to realize is that because of our wealth, what we are doing is that we are poisoning our water. We are also poisoning our air. We are having our cities choked with traffic and terrorized by crime. So what we have to do now is to clean up the environment of America.

That is why we have presented to the Congress an historic new program to clean up the air, to clean up the water, to provide open spaces for these young people to go to in the years ahead.

And, my friends, that is the kind of progressive legislation that Win Prouty supports, and that is another reason we need him in the United States Senate.

Then one other program I should mention-and Governor Davis, you will be interested in this and all of your fellow Governors--I think back to the history of this country, to the fact that Vermont has played a proud role from the time of the beginning of America. I think back to the fact, too, that when America was young the States felt that they had responsibilities and then power began to flow, particularly in this century, from the people and the counties and the cities and the States up to Washington, D.C. And Government in Washington got bigger and bigger and bigger, and government in the States found that they didn't have the funds to handle their problems, and taxes, particularly on your property, went up and up and up. So I said this has got to change.

That is why we have authorized and asked the Congress to approve, and they will not yet act on it, a program of revenue sharing, where the Federal Government will turn over to the States funds that the States can use to handle their own problems.

Let me tell you why this is important. For 190 years, my friends, power has been flowing from the people, from you, and from the States, to Washington. I say that it is time now for power to flow back from Washington to the States and to the people of America. That is the kind of a program, again, that Win Prouty supports.

Now one final point. I realize that in this year 1970 there are those who have very deep disagreements with our country's policy, whether it is abroad or at home. I know there are those who demonstrate and say that America is a sick society, that everything is wrong.

Just let me say this: I can tell you, my friends, I have seen this country, and I have also been abroad. I have just finished a trip to Europe. I was in a Communist country, Yugoslavia, and 350,000 people stood out in the rain cheering, not for me but for the United States of America. I was in Spain, in Italy, in Ireland, in England, and the same thing happened. The same thing happened in Asia last year, in India, and other countries.

Let me tell you something: Yes, there are those that criticize America, many abroad among leaden criticize our policies. But to millions of people ca this earth we can be proud of the fact that the United States of America--not because simply we are the strongest country and the richest country but because we are a country that provides the greatest freedom and the greatest opportunity for people in the history of the world--the United States is respected, and let's be worthy of that respect.

Now the question is: The voices are being heard in the year 1970. You hear them. You hear them night after night on your television, people shouting their obscenities about America and what we stand for. You hear those who shout against speakers and shout them down, who will not listen. And then you hear those who engage in violence. You hear those, and see them, who, without reason, kill policemen and injure them, and the rest. And you wonder: Is that the voice of America?

I say to you it is not. It is a loud voice, but, my friends, there is a way to answer: Don't answer with violence. Don't answer by shouting the same senseless words that they use. But answer in the powerful way that Americans have always answered. Let the majority of Americans speak up, speak up on November 3d, speak up with your votes. That is the way to answer.

My friends, the people in this great State may well determine whether or not on the great issues which will determine whether we can have a program that will bring lasting peace for a generation, progress in the field of the environment and welfare, and all these other areas that I have described, a program of strong and fair law enforcement whether or not we have that majority of one in the United States Senate, a majority that crosses party lines, may well determine on what you do in the State of Vermont. I say this to you because Win Prouty not only provides that vote but because this quiet, confident man has such enormous respect among his colleagues.

Let me tell you something. I have known the Senate and the House, served in both, and anybody who has known those bodies will agree with me that there are the doers and the talkers. Win Prouty isn't a talker; he is a doer. He gets things done. He works for the elderly. He works for progress. He works for education. He is a man who for 20 years has given his life. There isn't a man in that Senate that works harder than he does for Vermont and America.

And because he is a doer and not a talker, send him back and give us that majority of one.

Thank you.




Roz Payne


Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, University of Nebraska-Lincoln






unknown, “Free Vermont,” Roz Payne Sixties Archive, accessed June 23, 2024,

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