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"What can I as an everyday citizen do to drive the Communists out of our government?" The draft of a speech for Senator Joseph R. McCarthy to deliver on behalf of Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., during Lodge's 1952 senatorial reelection campaign.
In July 2016, best-selling author Larry Tye spoke at the Massachusetts Historical Society about his recently-published biography, Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon. Tye tells the remarkable story of how in 1952, at the age of 26, Robert Kennedy became his older brother's campaign manager during Congressman John F. Kennedy's successful attempt to unseat Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.—a popular Republican who was running for a fourth term in the U.S. Senate. While the Massachusetts Historical Society has little to add to Tye's description of Bobby Kennedy's role in that campaign, the Society has a very large collection of Lodge's personal papers, including his 1952 campaign files and photographs, allowing researchers to see how things looked from the "other side of the hill" during the campaign and how a decision made by Lodge in the heat of that political struggle may have changed history.
Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., was born in 1902, the son of George Cabot Lodge, a poet, and Mathilda Frelinghuysen Davis Lodge. He was named for his grandfather, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge (1850-1924), who represented Massachusetts in Congress from 1887 to 1924. After the death of the younger Henry Cabot's father in 1909, the Senator took an active role in the education of his namesake and grandson. Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.—often "Cabot" or "Cabot Lodge" to his colleagues and friends—graduated from Harvard College and embarked on a career as a journalist before entering state politics in 1933. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1936 and won reelection in 1942, but resigned from the Senate to serve on active duty during the Second World War. After distinguished military service in North Africa and Europe he was reelected to the Senate in 1946 and sought a fourth term in 1952. In the remarks prepared for Senator McCarthy to deliver on his behalf, Lodge has given us a revealing self-portrait at age 50. McCarthy was to describe him as: "an untiring leader, as a progressive Senator, expertly versed in all major governmental matters, as a genuinely sincere human being—the first United States Senator to resign his seat in Congress and enter combat service in World War II," and to continue, "In his own state, Senator Lodge's remarkable work in the fight against Communism is not as well known as it should be—but I know Cabot Lodge's record – and without his solicitation [emphasis added] I am going to tell you about it."
Senator Lodge's main concern through much of 1952 was not his own reelection, but first in convincing General Dwight D. Eisenhower to run for president, then in overseeing the Eisenhower victory at the Republican convention in Denver, and, through July, managing his presidential campaign. Lodge did not focus on his own reelection campaign until after Labor Day and by then it probably was too late. The 1952 senatorial campaign in Massachusetts was surprisingly "modern"—both John F. Kennedy and Lodge drew upon systematic polling and focused energy and funds on television advertisements and appearances, and radio and television debates, but most important, as Larry Tye has noted, Robert Kennedy had set up a well-organized and well-funded (by the family patriarch, Joseph P. Kennedy) campaign field operation outside of and parallel to the traditional Democratic Party in Massachusetts. In the campaign, Bobby Kennedy drew heavily upon the assistance of other members of his large and energetic family.
Senator Lodge found himself running from behind and faced with the difficult problem of how to overcome John F. Kennedy's substantial lead among the Irish Catholic population of Massachusetts. In spite of his "Boston Brahmin" roots, until 1952 Lodge had done quite well among his working class Catholic constituents—voters who often had socially conservative and strongly anti-Communist beliefs. Lodge's vehement support of Eisenhower against Ohio Senator Robert A. Taft during the Republican primaries had also alienated conservative members of his own party. Massachusetts's "Taft Republicans" were prepared to vote for Kennedy—at that time seen as a relatively conservative and strongly anti-Communist Democrat—to punish Lodge.
Lodge arranged for Eisenhower to close his presidential campaign in Boston where Lodge would be seen at his side and where the general's national popularity might influence the close senate race. His campaign team also prepared the text for a speech to be delivered on his behalf by Senator Joseph R. McCarthy. The controversial junior senator from Wisconsin was at the height of his fame as an anti-Communist crusader and, although he also was running for reelection, he was barnstorming the country on behalf of Republican candidates.
The remarks prepared for McCarthy drew heavily on speeches he had made two years before and Lodge's remarks on each occasion as published in the Congressional Record. On 20 February 1950, Senator McCarthy had tried to read into the record the text of a notorious speech that he had given at a Lincoln Day dinner in Wheeling, West Virginia, on 9 February. Lodge rose not to defend McCarthy's wild accusations—that the State Department was a hive of "active Communists"—but that he should be able to lay his charges before the Senate without interruption. A few weeks later, McCarthy testified before the bipartisan Senate investigating committee that had been formed to investigate McCarthy's charges. Lodge served on the "Tydings committee" named for its chairman, Senator Millard Tydings of Maryland. Here too Lodge rose to try to stop McCarthy from being constantly interrupted and badgered by members of the committee—a somewhat ironic concern considering how McCarthy conducted the hearings of the Permanent Investigations Subcommittee of the Senate Government Operations Committee. By selectively quoting from the Congressional Record, Lodge appeared to be a stronger supporter of McCarthy than he was, but in the midst of the political fight of his life, he was prepared to have McCarthy describe him as one of the "vigorous, all-out foes of Communism—men who held no brief political or social with fellow travelers or intellectual parlor pinks."
In the end, Senator McCarthy did not come to Massachusetts to speak on behalf of Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.—instead he sent a telegram. His reasons for not campaigning were complicated; although a conservative Republican, McCarthy was a Kennedy family friend. Congressman John F. Kennedy had praised McCarthy in private as a "great American patriot" while publically attacking Lodge for supporting the Truman administration. McCarthy also appears to have understood that, whatever might be said in a campaign speech, Lodge had little real sympathy for McCarthy's attacks on the political and diplomatic establishment in Washington.
In his landside presidential election victory in 1952, Dwight D. Eisenhower carried Massachusetts by a wide margin, but Senator Lodge lost to Congressman Kennedy by 70,000 votes. Lodge was surprised by his loss, confessing to the president-elect that he felt as if he had been "hit by a truck." Eisenhower made Lodge the head of the presidential transition team and appointed him the U.S. Delegate to the United Nations with cabinet rank. Robert Kennedy joined Senator McCarthy's investigating committee staff. John F. Kennedy and Henry Cabot Lodge would face off again in 1960, but Kennedy then would be the Democratic presidential nominee, while Lodge was the Republican candidate for vice president. McCarthy was reelected in 1952, only to be repudiated by a bipartisan majority of the Senate in 1954 (acting for the Eisenhower administration, Ambassador Lodge played a behind-the-scenes role in McCarthy's downfall while Senator John F. Kennedy, hospitalized for back surgery, managed to avoid having to vote to condemn him). McCarthy, a shadow of the once-feared inquisitor he had been in 1952, died in office in 1957.
In 1962, when another Kennedy brother, Edward M. (Ted) Kennedy, was campaigning for the Senate against Henry Cabot Lodge's eldest son, George C. Lodge, the columnist and publisher William F. Buckley revealed the "only little piece of history to which I was ever a witness." In 1952, while Joseph McCarthy dined with Buckley he was called away from the table to take a call from the Lodge campaign. McCarthy glumly reported that they were pressing him to go to Massachusetts and campaign for Lodge, but he revealed to Buckley that he detested Lodge and was a family friend of the Kennedys. Buckley recollected that McCarthy then set a trap for Lodge by agreeing to campaign for him, but only if Lodge publically invited him to do so. He prophesied that it was something Lodge would not do. Lodge did not ask for McCarthy's endorsement. Even the draft remarks for McCarthy to deliver on his behalf contained the line that McCarthy's support was "unsolicited."
William F. Buckley was convinced that active campaigning by Joseph McCarthy would have turned the tide in Massachusetts. Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., later remarked that it was Senator Robert Taft that he needed to bring to Massachusetts to speak on his behalf—and he was not prepared to do so. Robert Kennedy thought that his brother's campaign had out-organized, outworked (and outspent) Lodge and his supporters, but that McCarthy had told him the same story that he told Buckley about deciding not to come to Massachusetts for Lodge. If delivered, would the speech drafted for McCarthy have been enough to change the outcome of the 1952 senatorial election campaign in Massachusetts—and the course of U.S. history?
Buckley, William F. "On the Right: McCarthy Helped J.F.K. Beat Lodge." Boston Globe, September 30, 1962, p. 41.
Kennedy, Robert F. Robert F. Kennedy in His Own Words: The Unpublished Recollections of the Kennedy Years. New York: Bantam Books, 1985.
John Stewart's interview with Robert Kennedy, 20 July and 1 August 1967, including his recollections of the 1952 campaign is published as an appendix, 429-453.
Lodge, Henry Cabot. As It Was: An Inside View of Politics in the '50s and 60's. New York: W. W. Norton, 1976.
Unfortunately, Lodge's political memoir does not begin until the day after the 1952 election. Lodge describes his behind-the-scenes role in the "McCarthy problem." "Clearly," Lodge writes, "he [McCarthy] did not believe that a man is presumed innocent until proven guilty."
---. "Modernizing the G.O.P." Atlantic. Vol. 185, No. 3 (March 1950), 23-28.
While not commenting directly on Communism or foreign policy, Henry Cabot Lodge gave a clear statement of where he stood politically in 1950 in a cover story he wrote for the Atlantic. In "Modernizing the G.O.P.," he observed that conservative Republicans were "anchored in a dead past" and that the party needed to return to its civil rights origins and adopt social policies more in keeping with mid-20th-century America.
Miller, William J. Henry Cabot Lodge: A Biography. New York: James H. Heineman, Inc., 1967.
Oshinsky, David M. A Conspiracy So Immense: The World of Joe McCarthy. New York: Free Press, 1983.
Reeves, Thomas C. The Life and Times of Joe McCarthy: A Biography. New York: Stein and Day, 1982.
Tye, Larry. Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon. New York: Random House, 2016
Whalen, Thomas J. Kennedy versus Lodge: The 1952 Massachusetts Senate Race. Boston: Northeastern University, 2000.
The most comprehensive and detailed account of the 1952 senatorial campaign in Massachusetts and the first work to call attention to the speech drafted for Joseph McCarthy to deliver on Henry Cabot Lodge's behalf.