From the Award-Winning Author of 1920: The Year of the Six Presidents
1960--LBJ vs JFK vs Nixon
1960--LBJ vs JFK vs Nixon: The Epic Campaign that Forged Three Presidencies
Lyndon Johnson/John F. Kennedy/Richard M. Nixon
Neo-Nazis, Beatniks, Vegetarians—and
Uncle Sam: The Long, Strange Roster of
1960’s Third Party Presidential Hopefuls

David Pietrusza

The 1960 great presidential debate. A perspiring Richard
Nixon versus a bronzed John Fitzgerald Kennedy—but no
Lar Daly.

Yes, Lar “America First” Daly, for not only were Tricky Dick
and JFK on the ballot so was a host of truly lesser lights,
starting with perennial third-party icon Lar Daly but spreading
far left and far right and far weird in a dozen other directions.
No Theodore Roosevelts appeared on the horizon in 1960,
no Gene Debses or Fighting Bob LaFollettes, not even a
Norman Thomas, a Henry Wallace, a J. Strom Thurmond.
George Wallace and Ross Perot and John Anderson and
Ralph Nader lay years ahead. But while 1960 clearly marked
a nadir, a deep, distinct mucky slough, in third party quality, it
did not reflect a diminution in quantity.

Most noticeable, though not necessarily most popular in
terms of votes cast was Mr. Daly, a 48-year old Chicago bar
stool manufacturer who sang and played the fiddle in
taverns—and unsuccessfully competed for every office he
could think of, all the while attired in a beautifully-tailored
Uncle Sam suit.

Over the years, Lar Daly had vociferously boosted Douglas
MacArthur and Joe McCarthy. He had once offered to Harry
Truman to personally drop an atom bomb on the Kremlin.  
Most recently, however, he had become an expert on the
Federal Communications Commissions’ arcane Equal Time
Rule and used it as a crowbar to euchre precious free air
time, whether back home in Chicago or nationwide.
He never did succeed in gaining a podium at the Kennedy-
Nixon Great Debates (though only because the United
States Congress passed special legislative to prevent his
presence) but when JFK guested on Jack Paar’s late-night
NBC talk show, Daly demanded—and got—his own
appearance with Paar.

Paar fumed. The studio audience booed. And Daly calmly
informed the nation: “You only choice is America first—or
death.”

The nation thought otherwise.

Lar Daly, apostle both of nuclear war and the equal time rule,
was, however, merely the most piquantly-clad contestant in
1960’s unusual rag-bag of hopeless hopefuls. Measured by
votes cast, meaningful platforms, or ability to lead, all offered
negligible value. But in understanding what lay below the
neat Madison Avenue-driven world of Washington politics, in
delving into the murky, irrational subconscious of the
American mentality on the cusp of the pressed gray flannel
50s and the frayed blue denim 60s, into the contradictory
madness (or, sometime, truth) that lay just below the Lazy
Shave surface, 1960’s third party aspirants possessed rare,
inestimable, often overlooked, value.

They were, in their virtually anonymous aggregate, the men
who made the Democratic and Republican parties look sane.
Yes, some were, indeed, quite mad, not in the sense of such
up-and-coming phenomena as the John Birch Society or the
Students for a Democratic Society, nor merely conniving or
eccentric, but simply outright mad.

Such was the rather obvious case of Dick Nixon’s fellow
Whittierite, Gabriel Green, who boldly claimed to have
personally observed seventy-five flying saucers and had
secured the backing of the 30,000-member Amalgamated
Flying Saucer Club of America. “With the help of spacemen,”
the lanky, wild-eyed, 35 year old bachelor confided to
skeptical terrestrials, “I believe I can carry millions of votes
and many areas. They will help me, not necessarily at the
precinct level, but by supplying me with information.”
Of course, Green was not the only one in contact with the
spacemen. “All of our high scientists have been taken to
other planets,” he stated rather matter-of-factly, “President
Eisenhower flew out to Edwards Air Force Base for a
briefing with a saucer crew.

“I know that Nixon has been contacted, but I am not sure
about Kennedy.”

In some ways, however, Gabe Green seemed far ahead of
his major party rivals, in fact, downright prescient. While
Messrs. Kennedy and Nixon prattled on about non-existent
missile gaps and rock-strewn Quemoy and Matsu, Gabe
Green foresaw giving everyone a credit card—and free
health and dental insurance. “I may not win in 1960,” he
forecast, “but I’m sure of 1964.”

But most were not so prescient—or so mad.

Some bore the tattered standards of long established
parties, though among those were parties on their last legs,
political movements that could have used whatever
assistance little green men might offer, and it was difficult to
understand how they had survived at all, in any form, with
even the smallest membership. Discovering such entities
with hearts still beating was akin to finding a species of
marine life thought to have become extinct millions of years
ago.

Such was the case of the rapidly-expiring Greenback Party.
The cheap-money Greenbacks had been around since
1876, although they hadn’t mounted anything approaching a
real campaign since 1884. In 1960, Greenbacks made
Prohibitionists seem like the wave of the future. Unable to
hold a convention, nonetheless, in late February 82-year old
party chairman John Henry Zahnd (also its 1924, 1928,
1936, and 1940 hopeful) announced his party’s candidates:
Oklahoma-born 65-year old Los Angeles “ambulance first
aid man” (and occasional author) Whitney Hart Slocomb and
75-year Boston-based book publisher Edward Kirby Meador
(coincidentally, the Slocomb’s publisher). Meador, the party’
s 1956 vice-presidential candidate, claimed descent from
Benjamin Franklin. The party barely had time to announce its
team and its slogan (“all reform waits for money reform—
then let us get money reform first”) before submerging once
again into the murky depths of organisms largely thought
extinct.

The Socialist Labor Party (SLP), just as old as the
Greenbacks, had, on the other hand, taken its time getting
started but once it did had evinced remarkable staying
power for such a small group plagued such higher-profiled
rivals as Gene Debs’s once-vibrant Socialist Party. Founded
in 1876, the SLP didn’t bother naming slates of electors until
1884, speaking English (as opposed to German) until 1890,
or designating an actual presidential candidate until 1892,
but it had offered candidates every four years since—
despite the disadvantages of having its 1920 standard
bearer jailed for murder and its 1928 candidate expire while
rescuing a drowning child.

The 1960 SLP platform, adopted in convention at the
ballroom of New York’s Henry Hudson Hotel that May,
screamed: “the overriding issue . . . is—SOCIALISM and
SURVIVAL V. CAPITALISM and CATASTROPHE!”
Displaying unusual—though, nonetheless, admirable—
terseness for a party platform, the document paid only lip-
service to nationalizing business and industry, displaying far
more passion regarding nuclear waste (“high-level, boiling
hot”) and smashing “the present procapitalist unions.”
The SLP’s ticket consisted of New Yorker Eric Hass,
longtime editor of the party official organ, “Weekly People,”
and 45-year old Wisconsin housewife Georgia Purvis
Cozzini—the team it had offered in 1952 and 1956. When
the blond, bespectacled, Nebraska-born Hass (a former
railroad brakeman, reporter, and advertising man) wasn’t
editing or running for president, he ran almost compulsively
for everything else: once for city City Council President,
twice for United States Senator, three times for Governor,
and four times for mayor. Cozzini was no slouch, either. She
herself had run for United States Senator and Governor (the
first time when she was just 27—Wisconsin’s first female
gubernatorial candidate) twice times each.

Upon the campaign trail, the grim-looking Haas (a self-
proclaimed “bona-fide Marxist”), armed himself with charts to
illustrate his bona-fide Marxist views of how to organize
society, traveling coast-to-coast to address equally “grave,
expectant” listeners. “When he talks the language of
socialism,” the New York Times noted, “he somehow sounds
more like an insurance salesman than a didactic, doctrinaire
radical.”

That may not have been a compliment.

The rival Socialist Workers Party (SWP), on the other hand,
was less socialist than communist, essentially being a
Trotskyite offshoot of the Communist Party USA. Existing in
various forms since 1928, the SWP advocated, among other
items, increasing America’s supposed missile gap by
destroying the nation’s nuclear armaments and withdrawing
all U.S. troops from foreign soil.

Poised against both the Stalinist and post-Stalinist East and
the capitalist and post-capitalist West, the SWP posed no
particular threat to anything, save to its proponents’ ability to
earn a living. In 1960, it nominated—as in 1952 and 1956—
two New Yorkers: 53-year old former New York City truck
driver Farrell Dobbs, a personal friend of the martyred Leon
Trotsky, and former “cannery worker, waitress and labor
organizer” the petite, 43-year old petite, yet fiery, Myra
Tanner Weiss.

Mrs. Weiss’s Mormon grandfather had fled to Canada when
his church banned polygamy in 1890. She had long since
abandoned her proletarian activities and was now the
stylishly attired wife of a Trotskyite psychotherapist.
Originally a Herbert Hoover Republican, Dobbs had
performed yeoman work in making the Teamsters union a
national force. Federal authorities had jailed Dobbs during
World War II for advocating “violent overthrow of the US
Government.” Though not the only candidate to have served
behind bars, Dobbs was 1960’s only presidential candidate
to visit Cuba during the campaign. He liked what he saw.
The Communist Party USA (CPUSA) was not running. Still
reeling from McCarthy Era scrutiny, it hadn’t run for much of
anything in quite a while, and when it so attempted, it usually
didn’t achieve ballot position. In August 1960, the party
undertook a reasonably unusual move, publishing a
resolution in its official organ, The Worker, basically favoring
the Kennedy-Johnson ticket. While refusing to describe the
Democrats as a “lesser evil,” the CPUSA lectured followers
that “it would be a still greater error to adopt a negative,
defeatist, ‘curses-on-both-your-houses’ position.”
Such thinking, the party continued, would “only encourage
‘stay-at-home’ moods and feed such sects as the SLP or the
Trotskyites [the SWP], who render only lip service to socialist
aims.”

And, the CPUSA advanced, such above-the fray attitudes
would be irresponsible, in view of “the indisputable fact that
the Nixon-Lodge ticket has abandoned the peace pretexts of
the Republican Party, and today symbolizes before the
country and the world those two-faced, double-dealing
provocative policies of the Eisenhower regime . . .”

“Moreover, Nixon’s record in the House, in the Senate and
as Vice President is marked by one long series of anti-labor
reactionary deeds. A defeat for this ticket would be heralded
everywhere as a defeat for those war-inciting and anti-labor
policies.”

“We should,” the Communists continued, “be sharply critical
of the past role on peace and social and labor legislation of
both Kennedy and Johnson . . .” but “what we must clearly
recognize is that the mass of the common people with whom
we must march forward—or stand still—are to be found in
that camp . . . because they have been influenced to believe
in the platform commitments of the Democrats.”

It required a rather pedestrian, maddeningly-similarly named,
quartet of rightist parties to counterbalance the one Marxist
party not running and the two who were: The Constitution
Party, the Constitution Party of Texas, the Conservative
Party of Virginia, and the Conservative Party of New Jersey.
The Constitution Party had rattled around since 1952, when
it nominated two candidates not particularly interested in its
endorsement: Douglas MacArthur and Virginia United
States Senator Harry Flood Byrd. In 1956 it nominated a
candidate who did want its endorsement, former IRS
Commissioner T. Coleman Andrews. Andrews received
107,929 votes, quite possibly the highest total ever recorded
by a certified public accountant. But the glory days of T.
Coleman Andrews were long past, and in Dallas, in July
1960, the Constitution Party, demanding withdrawal from UN
and abolition of the income tax, designated a ticket
consisting of virtually unknown 68-year old insurance
executive Brig. General Merritt B. Curtis (USMC-Ret.) and
66-year old retired stockbroker Curtis B. Dall, known merely
for being FDR’s ex son-in-law.

Splintering from the Constitution Party (or perhaps never
related to it, it was tough to tell in such circles), the
“Jeffersonian Democrat” Constitution Party of Texas met on
August 10—coincidentally also in Dallas—naming 35-year
old Clarksburg, Mississippi attorney Charles L. Sullivan, as
its presidential candidate. The youthful, and even more
youthful-looking, Sullivan finished third for governor the
preceding year. He accepted the CPT nomination despite
disagreeing with party demands for (what else) withdrawal
from UN and abolition of income tax.

To confuse already confused matters, when the Constitution
Party of Texas finally got selected a running mate for
Sullivan, it turned out to the Constitutional Party’s own
presidential candidate, Merritt B. Curtis!

In New Jersey, an outfit calling itself the Conservative Party
of New Jersey nominated Utah’s ornery former Republican
governor—and 1956 vice-presidential nominee of Texas
Constitution Party—J. Bracken Lee. The New Jersey party
seemed to have no particular strategy or reason for
existence. That was not so a few states to the south, where
an outfit designating itself the Conservative Party of Virginia
selected Augusta County farmer and active segregationist
C. Benton Coiner. Coiner’s job was to provide the dominion’
s electors a chance to bolt the Democratic Party in
November and cast their twelve votes for Harry Flood Byrd.
Moving beyond simple traditional left and right, we now
come what may best be described as the dietary parties.
The American Vegetarian Party didn’t want you to eat meat.

They also didn’t want to bother getting on the ballot, and
urged supporters to write-in their candidates—two New
Yorkers: balding, bespectacled 67-year old publisher, editor,
and movie and debate promoter Symon Gould (party
founder; 1948, 1952 and 1956 VP nominee; and one-time
victim of U.S. postal service harassment) and 50-year old
naturopathic physician Dr. Christopher Gian-Cursio. In 1942
and 1947 authorities convicted Gian-Cursio of practicing
medicine without a license. In Gian-Cursio’s latter trial, radio
comedian Fred Allen appeared as a character witness.
Back in 1947 Gould had higher hopes, projecting 5 million
Vegetarian votes in the upcoming 1948 contest:

    Three million of these would be the American
    vegetarians and the remainder of the votes would
    come from prohibitionist, anti-vivisectionists and anti-
    cigarette smoking groups. We will also attract other
    groups of people of similar high moral principle.

That same year, candidate Gould became embroiled in a
trans-Atlantic feud with the one of world’s more prominent—
and older—vegetarians, octogenarian playwright George
Bernard Shaw, regarding revelations of Shaw’s heretical
ingestion of cod liver oil. Gould ordered Shaw to stop—or, at
least, cease calling himself a vegetarian. Shaw declined.
By 1960, the Vegetarians had larger goals in mind than
protecting the humble liver of the humble cod: world peace.
Their platform promised:

    The philosophy of Vegetarianism is synonymous with
    Universal Brotherhood and Universal Peace. Its
    fundamental principle of “anti-killing,” if internationally
    adopted, would unconditionally eliminate wars. In
    furtherance of this anti-slaughter ideal, vegetarians are
    opposed to the killing of animals for sustenance, sport
    or style.

The Prohibition Party didn’t particularly care what you ate,
but did care what you drank, and had passionately so cared
for quite some time. From 1884 through 1920, their ticket
had received at least 100,000 in each election (271,058 in
1892)—and, of course, 1920 saw national prohibition take
effect. But 1920 was decades—and the repeal of one
constitutional amendment—ago. Drys still understood the
importance of getting on the ballot, but they were getting
scarcer and older, and irrelevant to a martini-imbibing, Rat
Pack-admiring world.

In March 1960 Prohibitionists nominated 56-year old Rev.
Rutherford L. Decker, pastor of Kansas City’s Park Hill
Baptist Church, and 47-year old E. Harold Munn, assistant to
the dean of Michigan’s Hillsdale College. Eleven states
listed the party on their ballots.

“America’s greatest need is for a revival of reality in religion
which will throw off the yoke of oppression the liquor traffic
has fastened upon the nation,” Decker pled at one of his rare
rallies, “Twenty-five million citizens are directly and adversely
affected by alcohol through the alcoholism of over 5,000,000
victims of this disease.

“More people are killed each year in America by drink
caused accidents and drink induced and complicated
diseases than any war in which this country was ever
engaged.”

Last, but definitely least, in this category, was retired farmer
Mr. Connie B. Watts, the “Front Porch Party” write-in
candidate who pursued a leisurely campaign, gently rocking
away on his very own Banks County, Georgia front porch.
Early press attention (what there was of it) focused on Watts’
s vow to pass “a law to keep them ‘vine-ripened’ stickers off
of them mushy green tomatoes,” but Watts was no off-his-
rocker, one-issue crank. His platform really centered on
better housing for birds (Watts had long contended all birds
could talk—though, he cautioned, only the Baltimore Oriole
could sing in ragtime) and he proposed putting the
unemployed to work boring holes in trees to further that goal.
Kennedy and Nixon worried about separating church and
state. Bishop Homer A. Tomlinson, leader of the Queens
Village, New York-based Church of God didn’t.

Campaigning once again on the Theocratic Party ticket—
with fellow Church of God Bishop Bill Rogers as his running
mate—Tomlinson pledged to “end all taxes,” substituting the
principle of taxation with the more lucrative principle of
tithing—to him.

Tomlinson’s church was a family-based denomination. His
father, A. J. Tomlinson had founded it—dubbing it the
“Tomlinson Church of God.” When A. J. expired, Homer and
his brother, Overseer Milton, squabbled over who might lead
their father’s flock, an argument Bishop Homer chose to
settle by taking a sledge hammer to his sibling’s real estate.
Police intervened.

Having temporarily abandoned hope of reclaiming the
entirety of the family-founded church, the pink-faced, usually
cheery, Bishop Homer embarked upon a grander mission:
proclaiming himself “King” of all fifty states, every individual
nation on earth, and, eventually, of the whole world (duly
crowned behind a Tennessee tobacco barn in 1954). Such
coronations were relatively easy operations, facilitated by an
inflatable globe, a $6 folding aluminum lawn chair/throne,
and a modest crown that presaged those distributed to
countless youngsters at neighborhood Burger Kings.
It must be said, the coronation held in Red Square
particularly startled onlookers.

Despite Bishop Homer’s earlier lack of electoral success, in
August 1960, at Cape Giradeau, Missouri, running-mate
Bishop Rogers issued a call for 30 million write-in votes for
the ticket—a rather ambitious total since Dwight Eisenhower
had only received 35 million in 1956.

Another seasoned campaigner was Henry Krajewski, now
ensconced on the American Third Party ticket. The 48-year
old Secaucus tavern owner (and former pig farmer) had first
sought the White House, back in 1952, polling 4,203 votes
with the “Poor Man’s Party,” before, seeing his popularity
recede in 1956—much like Adlai Stevenson’s, in Krajewski’
s case, to a more modest 1,829 votes. In 1952, the 6’2”, 240
pound Krajewski—a man of many talents, he spoke six
languages and could play the “piano, accordion, guitar,
banjo, organ, drum, and bugle”—advocated not a two-party,
but, rather, a “two-president” system.

“If you had a Democrat and a Republican in the White
House,” Krajewski philosophized, “they’d be so busy
watching each other that there would be no danger of
dictatorship.”

Mr. Krajewski was a candidate of the old fringe politics,
advocating such relatively mainstream items as tax cuts
(particularly on alcohol), McCarthyism, and free milk for
school children. The American Beat Consensus Party
successfully ostentatiously avoided the mainstream trap.
By 1960 everyone knew what a beatnik was—
countercultural, alienated, espresso-swilling, guitar-
strumming, folk song-singing, black-bereted and bearded (if
male; long, straight-haired if female), marching to the beat of
a different drum, usually a bongo—even though few squares
had yet actually met one. The American Beat Consensus
Party introduced two bearded Chicago beats—36-year old
William Lloyd Smith and 45-year old black pacifist/
anarchist/poet Joffre Stewart—to the political system with
stream-of-consciously platform “abolishing the working
class, a $10 billion subsidy for artists, forgetting the budget
and balancing the debt, making peace with everyone (since
all beatniks are cowards) and legalized nepotism, excess
profits and mink coats.”  

Smith was a Chicago bookseller (“the only Midwesterner
who has been nominated”) of distinctly limited business
acumen who listed himself in the Yellow Pages as
“Philosopher.” Stewart’s claim to fame hung largely from
being depicted in Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl”:

    Who reappeared on the West Coast investigating the
    F.B.I in beards and shorts with big pacifist eyes sexy in
    their dark skin passing out incomprehensible leaflets.

The beats convened in unconventional convention in a
Greenwich Village nightclub—Lincolnesque former cowboy
and former-fellow Chicagoan Slim Brundage’s properly
black-walled, black-floored, black-ceilinged, properly-
misspelled “The Colledge of Complexes” on West 10th
Street. Each delegate marching to a different bongo, the
party took four ballots to nominate Smith, as he rolled past
Joffre Stewart, various other beats, and other higher profile
nominees of decidedly varying beat characteristics—Jack
Kennedy, Senator Eastland of Mississippi, and Adam
Clayton Powell.

Smith capped his nomination by promising to abolish the
federal government and then resign from office. To heal any
breach in party ranks he selected his strongest opponent,
Stewart, as his running mate. It was, noted one witness, “a
gesture as shrewdly and coolly political as Kennedy’s pick of
Johnson.” College of Complexes owner Brundage became
Smith’s campaign manager.

Smith went on to picket the Republican National Convention
in Chicago with his 23-year old girlfriend, Mary Lou. “I liked
what I heard,” she said (presumably from Smith, not the
GOP). They (Smith and Mary Lou) married, and the
American Beat Party Consensus campaign fell strangely
silent.

The fates conspired to resuscitate it. As Mary Lou recalled:
“Our honeymoon was in New York because CBS had Bill on
a show called ‘Other Hats in the Ring.’ The network put us up
in an elegant hotel one night. We spend the rest of the time
on the floor of one of his friend’s apartments.”

“Other Hats in the Ring” was a third party candidate’s
dream—an hour of free air time on a nationwide TV hookup.
One would surmise, that if Richard Nixon and John Kennedy
could agree on a debate format, this collection of beggars
certainly could.

They couldn’t.

Eric Hass fumed that CBS had promised him that he would
share their stage with representatives of the Socialist Labor,
Prohibition, Constitution, and States Rights parties.

Reaching CBS’s studios to tape the program, however, he
found neither Constitution nor States Rights candidates, but
rather beatnik William Lloyd Smith, Prohibitionist Rutherford
Decker, and Vegetarian Symon Gould. Hass didn’t mind
debating Decker. He didn’t even mind meeting with States
Rights Party neo-Nazis, but he did very much mind being
reduced to the level—“a farcical flea circus”—of beats and
health food nuts.

He might have been right. When cameras rolled, William
Lloyd Smith termed the choice of either JFK or Dick Nixon
akin to one between “syphilis and gonorrhea, cholera and
cancer.”

And yet neither Lar Daly, William Lloyd Smith, Henry
Krajewski, nor Bishop Homer Tomlinson and company were
the most improbable candidates, Comrade Eric Hass might
have appeared with.

The Rev. Clennon King was.

Though both Clennon King and Martin Luther King were
black, both were ministers, both had roots in Alabama and
Georgia, the Rev. Clennon King was clearly not to be
confused with the Rev. Martin Luther King.

Clennon King, at this stage of his career was primarily an
educator—or at-least an ex-educator. A decade earlier,
teaching at all-black Virginia Union University, he organized
an airborne, world tour of fifty students to combat
communism. It never got off the ground.

Teaching history at Mississippi’s all-black Alcorn A & M
College in 1957, King penned a series of articles for the
Jackson State Times defending segregation and attacking
the NAACP (it “fights freedom”). Alcorn’s entire student body
struck. The administration fired, but later re-instated, King.
He kept writing, defending segregation, moving to national
publications, took up preaching (bounced from his first
congregation and arrested for trying to break back in),
attempted to send his daughter to all-white Gulfport,
Mississippi elementary school, and finally left Alcorn for
good. In June 1958 (three years before James Meredith’s
experience) King embarked upon the implausible next step
of attempting to integrate an all-white institute, the University
of Mississippi.

Ole Miss’s white authorities committed him as insane.
Released twelve days later, in part through NAACP efforts,
King pathetically advertised selling his household furnishings
to bankroll a back-to-Africa movement,  faced charges for
family abandonment,  and departed the South for California.
In November 1959, he also left his wife and six children—this
time, for good, on a Mexican beach.  

Thus, when 39-year old Clennon King announced for the
presidency in January 1960—the first black ever to do so—
as standard bearer for the newly-formed Independent Afro-
American Unity Party—and further announced that he had
selected Richard Nixon as his running mate—California
authorities wanted him for abandonment.

Nobody seemed to connect the two events.
King achieved ballot position, albeit without Vice President
Nixon, as the Afro-American Party, as the nation’s first black
presidential candidate—in just one state.

Being Clennon King, master of the improbable, that state
was, of course, . . . Alabama.

The Rev. King may—or may not have been—the most
unorthodox candidate to actually gain access to any state
ballot (Lar Daly and Bishop Tomlinson and William Lloyd
Smith and Gabriel Green and Symon Gould were, after all,
only write-in candidates; the Communists weren’t even
writing-in), but there was no contest for which on-the-ballot
party harbored the most vicious and dangerous elements—
that award went to the National States Rights Party (NSRP).
Founded by youthful, yet veteran, hate-mongers Dr. Edward
R. Fields and J. B. Stoner (the former a chiropractor, the
latter an attorney), the NSRP bore only marginal
resemblance to Strom Thurmond’s 1948 third-party effort,
the States' Rights Democratic Party. Thurmond’s party was
establishment segregationist, 1960’s NSRP was Klan-
based at best, neo-Nazi at worst—homegrown fuehrer
George Lincoln Rockwell and his chief lieutenant Matt Koehl
had participated in its efforts two years previously —and
usually operated at its worst level. Adolf Hitler, Stoner once
remarked, was “a moderate.”
“Compared to Stoner,” one fellow right-winger observed,
“Hitler probably was a moderate.”

The party (its motto: “Honor—Pride—Fight! Save the White”;
it’s symbol a suspiciously SS-like thunderbolt) traced its
roots back to the earlier officially subversive Columbians
movement, the Christian Anti-Jewish Party, and the United
White Party.  

A Kentucky newspaper described the NSRP platform thusly:

    1. Encourage voluntary resettlement of Negroes in their
    African homeland.
    2. Restore segregation in the Armed Forces.
    3. Permit only “White Folk to take part in affairs of
    government or serve in courts.”
    4. Demand that government should refrain from
    competing with private enterprise.
    5. Demand that confiscatory taxation policies of the
    federal government be ended immediately.
    6. Demand the removal of all federal control over
    National Guard units and law enforcement agencies of
    the states.
    7. Demand that all financial and moral support to the
    State of Israel cease as a basis for the rebuilding of
    Arab-American friendship.
    8. Favor complete separation of all non-White and
    dissatisfied racial minorities from “our White Folk
    Communities.”
    9. Preservation of Indian national life in America and
    unlimited development of reservation facilities.
    10. Demand that total segregation be maintained in
    the nation's schools and that only “members of the
    White Folk Community be allowed to engage in the
    educational and cultural activities of our White society.”

In 1960, Fields (now, still only 28) and Stoner (now 36) still
called the shots and aimed to nominate Arkansas Governor
Orval W. Faubus (distinguished for resisting Little-Rock
school de-segregation in 1957). In March 1960 over 100
“delegates” gathered in solemn convention at Miamisburg,
Ohio (just outside Dayton) and did just that.

Faubus might have made a credible George Wallace-style
third party effort, save for three factors: one, the South had
not yet been substantially integrated, and backlash levels
remained relatively low; two, Faubus possessed few of
Wallace’s special talents; and, three, Faubus, once he
realized what sort of folks were nominating him, quickly
backtracked from the adventure—and, in fact, endorsed,
with some enthusiasm, the Kennedy-Johnson ticket (though
not the national Democratic platform).

Robert Bolivar DePugh, a 47-year old Norborne, Missouri
veterinary drug manufacturer and leader of the newly-formed
extremist (and, in actuality, never very large) Minutemen
movement, pinch-hit for Faubus. Running for vice-president
was retired Rear Admiral John G. Crommelin, of Wetumpka,
Alabama, commander of the carrier Enterprise during World
War II, and cashiered in 1949 during the fight over armed
forces unification. Crommelin might have been the General
Billy Mitchell of his generation; instead, he was merely
another racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic crackpot.  
Faubus, however, remained on a number of state ballots,
including that of Florida, and that latter fact was to prove
significant. The Sunshine State contained a fairy significant,
though typically dissension-riven, KKK contingent. In
September 1960 reporters asked long-time Florida Klan
leader, 49-year old Tampa Bay-area general contractor (and
two-time gubernatorial candidate) Bill Hendrix, if he was
backing Faubus. He answered yes. They then interviewed
Hendrix’s rival Grand Dragon, W. J. “Bill” Griffin. Griffin hated
Hendrix, and knowing Hendrix was supporting Faubus, he
couldn’t. Reluctantly, Griffin endorsed Richard Nixon.
Ordinarily, this wouldn’t have attracted much notice beyond
Griffin and Hendrix’s Tampa Bay home base, but in the third
Kennedy-Nixon debate, diminutive (under the five-foot mark)
New York Herald Tribune columnist Roscoe Drummond
queried JFK regarding Adam Clayton Powell’s recent claim
that “all bigots will vote for Nixon and all right-thinking
Christians and Jews will vote for Kennedy rather than be
found in the ranks of the Klanminded.” Kennedy smoothly
responded:

    Well, Mr. Griffin, I believe, who is the head of the Klan,
    who lives in Tampa, Florida, indicated a—in a
    statement, I think, two or three weeks ago that he was
    not going to vote for me, and that he was going to vote
    for Mr. Nixon. I do not suggest in any way, nor have I
    ever, that that indicates that Mr. Nixon has the slightest
    sympathy, involvement, or in any way imply any
    inferences in regard to the Ku Klux Klan. That's absurd.
    I don't suggest that, I don't support it. I would disagree
    with it. Mr. Nixon knows very well that in this—in this
    whole matter that's been involved with the so-called
    religious discussion in this campaign, I've never
    suggested, even by the vaguest implication, that he did
    anything but disapprove it. And that's my view now. I
    disapprove of the issue. I do not suggest that Mr. Nixon
    does in any way.  

Of course, he didn’t.

Nixon quickly repudiated Klan support, but the Klan was
used to being repudiated, and the next day Griffin sputtered,
“I don’t give a damn what Nixon said. I’m still voting for him.”
Grand Dragon Griffin controlled few votes, but that was
hardly the point. He could stampede votes in the opposing
direction, particular in the days before the election, when
newspaper after newspaper dutifully noted his weeks-old
endorsement. “In an election in which Kennedy’s narrow
victory depended so heavily on the overwhelming margins
piled up in Negro precincts in cities such as Chicago,” Klan
historian David Chalmers theorized, “perhaps W. J. Griffin’s
words helped make the difference.”

Upon such ephemera as the sheet-clad feuds between not-
so-grand Dragons, the fate of nations may hang.