In June 1972, Presidential Democratic Party candidate George McGovern spoke in the city of Dayton, Ohio. Local public radio station WYSO-FM, located on the campus of Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, sent a staff member to record the event. When asked by a campaign staffer whether people around the Dayton area were for McGovern or Nixon, the WYSO-FM reporter responded that “around here, around the college area, most people are for McGovern, but they’re wondering if he has a chance with the general population…they wonder if he can convince people around the country to vote for him.”
While serving South Dakota as a U.S. Senator, McGovern became widely known for his strong opposition to the U.S.’s growing involvement in the Vietnam War. He ran on a presidential platform advocating for withdrawal from Vietnam in exchange for the return of American prisoners of war. Nixon, in turn, argued that McGovern would settle for “peace at any price” in Vietnam rather than “peace with honor,” which Nixon said he would bring about. Becoming one of the biggest landslides in American electoral history, McGovern ultimately lost the general election to incumbent Richard Nixon.
Originally recorded on 1/4″ audio tape, this recording was digitized as part of the initial 40,000 hours of American Archive material and was contributed to the collection by WYSO-FM. The preservation files from the digitization project are now being preserved at the Library of Congress. We’ve selected a few minutes from McGovern’s speech in Dayton to share with you today.