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US Presidents and Vice Presidents on the UVM Campus

Prompted by President Obama’s March 30 visit to the UVM campus, Special Collections librarians searched the University Archives and discovered that President Gerald Ford visited the campus in 1974, and Vice Presidents Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson were here in 1960 and 1963.

President Gerald Ford came to Burlington on October 8, 1974 to speak at a dinner honoring Vermont Senator George Aiken. The front page of the Cynic, the UVM student newspaper,  for October 10, 1974 included articles about the dinner and the crowds of demonstrators.  On October 25, 1963, Vice President Lyndon Johnson came to Vermont for the first time.  At his request, the visit was organized to allow him to see and speak to as many Vermonters as possible, according to the Burlington Free Press (10/23/1963).  During the 1960 presidential campaign, Vice President Richard Nixon gave an impromptu speech to a crowd of UVM students on Sept. 29.

 

Two thousand people attended a dinner in Patrick Gymnasium to honor Senator Aiken. According to the Cynic, President Ford praised Aiken for his independence of mind and his contributions to education, electric power development, rural America, and foreign relations. President Ford was at the gym for just over two hours, arriving at 7:42 pm and leaving at 10:15.

The Cynic described the crowds of demonstrators as large, antagonistic and nonviolent. Among the groups of protestors were the Vietnam Veterans Against the War/Winter Soldiers, the Living Theater, and a group that served free vegetarian soup (in contrast to the $50 per plate roast beef dinners served in Patrick Gymnasium), and folksinger Bruce “Utah” Phillips.

Senator Aiken and President Ford.  Photo courtesy of the University Archives.

Vice President  Lyndon Johnson, Vermont Governor Phil Hoff, and UVM President John Fey, October 25, 1963. Johnson’s motorcade from the Burlington airport included brief stops and talks at a shopping center in Essex Junction, St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Winooski, and UVM. Photo courtesy of the University Archives.

Vice President Lyndon Johnson, UVM President Fey (left), Mrs. Johnson (right) and students on the steps of the Billings Student Center, October 1963. Photo courtesy of the University Archives.

Vice President Richard Nixon and wife in motorcade on Main Street, September 29, 1960. Photo courtesy of Special Collections.

According to the Burlington Free Press (9/30/1960), “More than 1,000 UVM students engulfed Nixon’s car near the Green and the Vice President halted the motorcade and gave a brief talk to the students on the value of education to win men’s minds.” The Nixons are visible above the cheering crowd because they are standing on the car. Photo courtesy of Special Collections.

 

 

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