Gore's support for Civil Rights and opposition to the Vietnam War
Though his opposition to the Vietnam War and support for the civil rights movement ultimately cost him his seat in 1970, Gore remained committed to both. He links his defeat to the character of the South, particularly its proclivity for violence.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Albert Gore, October 24, 1976. Interview A-0321-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Full Text of the Excerpt
- ALBERT GORE:
Well, I suppose that as a conterpart or as a result of my interest in
international trade, my interest and acquaintanceship with international
affairs as a result of my work as a member of the Interparliamentary
Union, and as a result of my association with Cordell Hull, and because
of the importance of the war and peace and my extreme interest in it, I
earnestly sought membership on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Strangely enough, by my membership on that committee and my knowledge of
the affairs of South-eastern Asia, particularly Vietnam, I became very
much opposed to our prosecution of the Vietnam war. And this was one of
the issues which ultimately led to my retirement from the United States
Senate. As you know, Tennessee like all the other Southern states
(except more so) has been supportive of all wars.
As I said one time in a debate, as far as Tennessee is
concerned, "Just show us a war and we'll fight it":
The Volunteer State. The whole South, as you know, has been prone
towards violence. After all, slavery is an act of violence of a person
on another person. The extreme rightist philosophy which many leaders in
the South, both Democratic and Republican, have is in essence a spirit
of violence. There are more firearms in the South; the statistics used
to be that there were more murders in the South. We are a hot-blooded
people. I'm trying to speak objectively and analytically about it; I'm
sometimes hot-blooded myself. Maybe I have some
of those tendencies. But in any event, the popular support of the
Vietnam war was perhaps as strong in Tennessee as in any state in the
union, and yet I was at least one of the leaders in opposition to it.
This created a reservoir of antagonism toward me on this issue, which
was quite sincerely held by many fine citizens with laudable
motivations. They genuinely and sincerely believed that my questioning
of the advisability and execution of the war in Vietnam and of the
bombing and invasion of Cambodia was a lack of patriotism. So this was
certainly one of the very fundamental questions, along with civil
rights, which built a reservoir of antagonism toward me that played a
very strong part in my ultimate retirement from the Senate. However,
after saying that please understand that I treasure my service on the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee more than that of any other
committee, including Finance. Though I am proud of the interstate
highway system, proud of the role I played in Social Security reform and
the enactment of Medicare, international trade and fair policies of
taxation, nevertheless I'm proudest of all of the role I played in
opposition to the Vietnam war.