The Howard Dean scream

At an energetic rally on the evening of January 19, 2004, Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean emits a noise that many will claim ended his career in electoral politics. The “Dean Scream,” as it quickly came to be known, was a unique and revealing moment in early-21st century American politics.

A former three-term governor of Vermont, Dean was seen as the candidate of the Left and was the only Democrat who openly criticized the Iraq War in his campaign for the party’s nomination. He was considered a frontrunner despite conservatives’ attempts to depict his campaign as a “left-wing freak show,” but finished third in the Iowa Caucuses. Despite losing the first contest of the primary to John Edwards and eventual winner John Kerry, Dean took the stage the night that night with enthusiasm. He ended his remarks by fervently cataloguing the contests yet to come, concluding with a shout of “…and then we’re going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House! Yeah!” His voice cracked on the final “Yeah!,” turning the word into a bizarre yelp that was broadcast and, before long, replayed hundreds of times on news programs all over the country.

Ironically, nobody in the room with Dean noticed anything out of the ordinary—they witnessed what seemed like nothing more than an impassioned speech, with Dean’s famous scream drowned out by the cheers that filled the room. Dean’s audio setup, however, isolated his voice for the television audience, making the “Dean Scream” stand out jarringly and comically. The clip became a sensation on cable news, discussed and replayed countless times over the week between the Iowa Caucus and the New Hampshire primary, a perfect gift for Dean’s detractors.

Although the extent to which the incident affected Dean’s performance in the primary is impossible to fully determine—he had already underperformed in Iowa at the time of the speech, and would underperform again in New Hampshire a few days later—Dean’s campaign never regained its early momentum and is now remembered primarily for the “I Have a Scream Speech.” Kerry won the primary and lost the general, giving President George W. Bush a second term.

READ MORE: Presidential Election Facts

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Shirley Chisholm visits her opponent George Wallace in the hospital

Rep. Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress, visits Alabama Governor George Wallace, perhaps the single most famous supporter of racial segregation in modern history, as he recovers from an assassination attempt on June 8, 1972. The two were both seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for president.

Wallace won the governorship on a platform of “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” and rose to national prominence in 1963 when he appeared on the steps of the University of Alabama to block Black students from attending. He won five Southern states as a third-party candidate in the 1968 presidential election, promising to end the federal government’s attempts at desegregation. Chisholm, who began her career as an early-childhood educator before entering politics, won her Bedford-Stuyvesant seat the same year, presenting herself as “Unbought and unbossed.” Chisholm’s campaign was a long shot—she would later state that her Democratic colleagues refused to take her seriously because she was a woman—but Wallace’s prospects looked decent until he was shot five times at a campaign stop in Laurel, Maryland on May 15, 1972, leaving him permanently paralyzed.

READ MORE: ‘Unbought and Unbossed’: Why Shirley Chisholm Ran for President

Chisholm’s unexpected visit to Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring lasted roughly fifteen minutes. The congresswoman recounted that she told Wallace “I wouldn’t want what happened to you to happen to anyone,” and that the governor “cried and cried” in response. She added that, despite their profound disagreements on fundamental issues like racial equality, she agreed with Wallace’s criticisms of “the domination of corporate institutions…and unresponsiveness of the Government to the people.” Wallace won two primary races after the shooting, but it effectively ended his campaign. Senator George McGovern of South Dakota ultimately won the nomination, only to lose to incumbent Richard Nixon by a count of 520 electoral votes to 17. Two years later, Wallace threw his support behind Chisholm’s bill to give domestic workers the right to a minimum wage, marshaling enough support from Southern Democrats to get the bill passed. 

READ MORE: Shirley Chisholm: Facts About Her Trailblazing Career

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Maurice Ferré becomes first Puerto Rican to lead a major U.S. mainland city

Year
1973
Month Day
November 08

On November 8, 1973, Maurice Ferré is elected Mayor of Miami, Florida. In addition to becoming the first Puerto Rican to lead a major city in the mainland United States and the first Hispanic Mayor of Miami, Ferré is credited from transforming Maimi from a tourist town into an international city.

The Ferré Family was one of the wealthiest in Puerto Rico, and Ferré’s relatives included prominent politicians, novelists, and industrialists. Ferré served briefly in the Florida House of Representatives before being elected Mayor in 1973. He would hold the position until 1985, serving six two-year terms. Despite being a “weak mayor”—the Mayor of Miami was just one of five commissioners and did not have the power to unilaterally make appointments—Ferré transformed the city. He immediately set about challenging the “non-group,” a cabal of white businessmen who had effectively run the city for the last several decades, and integrating a city that was still largely segregated. With the help of two allies on the city’s governing commission—the black civil rights leader Rev. Theodore Gibson and Manolo Reboso, the city’s first Cuban-born elected official—Ferré appointed the first black city attorney, the first black city manager, and the first two black police chiefs. He and that attorney, George Knox, convinced the federal government to sue the city for discrimination, forcing the desegregation of the police and fire departments.

Known for his cosmopolitanism, Ferré sought to make Miami a global city rather than merely another East Coast beach town. “I had a clear vision that Miami really needed to look south,” he later told the Miami Herald. During his time as mayor, he expanded the city’s port, lured domestic and foreign banks to a newly-christened financial center, and welcomed the immigrants who poured in from Cuba. Among numerous other new developments, Ferré secured the site of AmericanAirlines Arena, home of the Miami Heat, for the city. His focus on building affordable housing and developing urban areas is credited with revitalizing much of the city and preventing suburban sprawl from consuming the Everglades. In many ways, his dream of an international hub and his infrastructure programs created Miami as it is known today.

Ferré’s tenure came to an end due to a trend he helped encourage: Cuban-American participation in city governance. After he was replaced by the city’s first Cuban-American mayor, Ferré held a number of posts in the public and private sectors and ran for senate unsuccessfully in 2010. Upon his death in September of 2019, both allies and bitter political rivals acknowledged his contributions to the city. His obituary in the Herald, whose board had once included members of the “non-group” he sought to destroy, referred to him as “the father of modern-day Miami.”

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Hillary Clinton is elected to the U.S. Senate

Year
2000
Month Day
November 07

On November 7, 2000, Hillary Clinton is elected to represent New York in the U.S. Senate, becoming the first First Lady to win elected office.

Clinton’s resume was unique among First Ladies and among senators. After meeting her husband, Bill, at Yale Law School, she spent her early career as an advocate for children’s rights and was named to the board of the Legal Services Corporation. During Bill’s presidency, she took an active role in promoting the administration’s healthcare policy and used her position to bring attention to children’s rights and family law issues. Despite the fact that her husband was currently under impeachment for lying about his affair with Monica Lewinsky, New York Democrats approached Clinton about running for senate near the end of his term. She announced her candidacy after purchasing property in Chappaqua, New York and waiting for the impeachment proceedings to end.

Clinton visited every county of New York in an effort to stave off the inevitable charge that she was a “carpetbagger.” Recruited to run in part because her “star power” could counteract that of her presumptive Republican opponent, New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Clinton’s chances improved when Giuliani dropped out of the race due to health issues and controversies around the recent dissolution of his marriage. His replacement, Rick Lazio, raised tens of millions of dollars but ultimately garnered only 43 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 55.

Although the news was overshadowed nationally by the presidential election, which was too close to call and would not be decided until December, Clinton’s election received equal billing with the presidential saga on the front page of the New York Times. Though she had been a public, political figure for much of her life, winning a campaign for federal office marked an important moment in her career. After one term in the senate, she would vie for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008, fighting a hard but unsuccessful campaign against Barack Obama. She went on to serve as Obama’s Secretary of State and eventually win the nomination, becoming the first woman in a major party to do so, before winning the popular vote but losing the 2016 election to Donald Trump.

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President Clinton impeached


Updated:
Original:
Year
1998
Month Day
December 19

After nearly 14 hours of debate, the House of Representatives approves two articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton, charging him with lying under oath to a federal grand jury and obstructing justice. Clinton, the second president in American history to be impeached, vowed to finish his term.

In November 1995, Clinton began an affair with Monica Lewinsky, a 21-year-old unpaid intern. Over the course of a year and a half, the president and Lewinsky had nearly a dozen sexual encounters in the White House. In April 1996, Lewinsky was transferred to the Pentagon. That summer, she first confided in Pentagon co-worker Linda Tripp about her sexual relationship with the president. In 1997, with the relationship over, Tripp began secretly to record conversations with Lewinsky, in which Lewinsky gave Tripp details about the affair.

READ MORE: Impeachment: Presidents, Process & History

In December, lawyers for Paula Jones, who was suing the president on sexual harassment charges, subpoenaed Lewinsky. In January 1998, allegedly under the recommendation of the president, Lewinsky filed an affidavit in which she denied ever having had a sexual relationship with him. Five days later, Tripp contacted the office of Kenneth Starr, the Whitewater independent counsel, to talk about Lewinsky and the tapes she made of their conversations. Tripp, wired by FBI agents working with Starr, met with Lewinsky again, and on January 16, Lewinsky was taken by FBI agents and U.S. attorneys to a hotel room where she was questioned and offered immunity if she cooperated with the prosecution. A few days later, the story broke, and Clinton publicly denied the allegations, saying, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.”

In late July, lawyers for Lewinsky and Starr worked out a full-immunity agreement covering both Lewinsky and her parents, all of whom Starr had threatened with prosecution. On August 6, Lewinsky appeared before the grand jury to begin her testimony, and on August 17 President Clinton testified. Contrary to his testimony in the Paula Jones sexual-harassment case, President Clinton acknowledged to prosecutors from the office of the independent counsel that he had had an extramarital affair with Ms. Lewinsky.

READ MORE: Why Clinton Survived Impeachment While Nixon Resigned After Watergate

In four hours of closed-door testimony, conducted in the Map Room of the White House, Clinton spoke live via closed-circuit television to a grand jury in a nearby federal courthouse. He was the first sitting president ever to testify before a grand jury investigating his conduct. That evening, President Clinton also gave a four-minute televised address to the nation in which he admitted he had engaged in an inappropriate relationship with Lewinsky. In the brief speech, which was wrought with legalisms, the word “sex” was never spoken, and the word “regret” was used only in reference to his admission that he misled the public and his family.

Less than a month later, on September 9, Kenneth Starr submitted his report and 18 boxes of supporting documents to the House of Representatives. Released to the public two days later, the Starr Report outlined a case for impeaching Clinton on 11 grounds, including perjury, obstruction of justice, witness-tampering, and abuse of power, and also provided explicit details of the sexual relationship between the president and Ms. Lewinsky. On October 8, the House authorized a wide-ranging impeachment inquiry, and on December 11, the House Judiciary Committee approved three articles of impeachment. On December 19, the House impeached Clinton.

READ MORE: Watergate Scandal: Timeline, Summary & Deep Throat

On January 7, 1999, in a congressional procedure not seen since the 1868 impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson, the trial of President Clinton got underway in the Senate. As instructed in Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution, the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (William Rehnquist at this time) was sworn in to preside, and the senators were sworn in as jurors.

Five weeks later, on February 12, the Senate voted on whether to remove Clinton from office. The president was acquitted on both articles of impeachment. The prosecution needed a two-thirds majority to convict but failed to achieve even a bare majority. Rejecting the first charge of perjury, 45 Democrats and 10 Republicans voted “not guilty,” and on the charge of obstruction of justice the Senate was split 50-50. After the trial concluded, President Clinton said he was “profoundly sorry” for the burden his behavior imposed on Congress and the American people.

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Al Gore concedes presidential election


Updated:
Original:
Year
2000
Month Day
December 13

Vice President Al Gore reluctantly concedes defeat to Texas Governor George W. Bush in his bid for the presidency, following weeks of legal battles over the recounting of votes in Florida, on December 13 2000.

In a televised speech from his ceremonial office next to the White House, Gore said that while he was deeply disappointed and sharply disagreed with the Supreme Court verdict that ended his campaign, ”partisan rancor must now be put aside.”

“I accept the finality of the outcome, which will be ratified next Monday in the Electoral College” he said. “And tonight, for the sake of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession.”

Gore had won the national popular vote by more than 500,000 votes, but narrowly lost Florida, giving the Electoral College to Bush 271 to 266.

Gore said he had telephoned Bush to offer his congratulations, honoring him, for the first time, with the title ”president-elect.”

”I promised that I wouldn’t call him back this time” Gore said, referring to the moment on election night when he had called Bush to tell him he was going to concede, then called back a half hour later to retract that concession.

Gore only hinted at what he might do in the future. ”I’ve seen America in this campaign and I like what I see. It’s worth fighting for—and that’s a fight I’ll never stop.”

Among the friends and family beside Gore were his wife, Tipper, and his running mate, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, and his wife, Hadassah.

A little more than an hour later, Bush addressed the nation for the first time as president-elect, declaring that the “nation must rise above a house divided.” Speaking from the podium of the Texas House of Representatives, Bush devoted his speech to themes of reconciliation following one of the closest and most disputed presidential elections in U.S. history. ”I was not elected to serve one party, but to serve one nation,” Bush said.

Bush and his running mate, Dick Cheney, took office on January 20, 2001. They were re-elected in 2004 over Democrats John Kerry and John Edwards. 

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George Wallace inaugurated as Alabama governor


Year
1963
Month Day
January 14

On January 14, 1963, George Wallace is inaugurated as the governor of Alabama, promising his followers, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!” His inauguration speech was written by Ku Klux Klan leader Asa Carter, who later reformed his white supremacist beliefs and wrote The Education of Little Tree under the pseudonym of Forrest Carter. (The book, which gives a fictitious account of Carter’s upbringing by a Scotch-Irish moonshiner and a Cherokee grandmother, poignantly describes the difficulties faced by Native Americans in American society.)

George Wallace’s ideological journey was not unlike Asa Carter’s. In 1958, Wallace made his first bid for Alabama’s gubernatorial seat. The NAACP endorsed him while the KKK endorsed his opponent in the primary. He was defeated by a wide margin. Four years later, Wallace had become a fiery segregationist and won election to the governor’s office in a landslide victory. He promised “segregation forever” but soon buckled under federal opposition.

In June 1963, under federal pressure, he was forced to end his literal blockade of the University of Alabama and allow the enrollment of African-American students. Despite his failures in slowing the accelerating civil rights movement in the South, Wallace became a national spokesman for resistance to racial change and in 1964 entered the race for the U.S. presidency. Although defeated in most Democratic presidential primaries he entered, his modest successes demonstrated the extent of popular backlash against integration. In 1968, he made another strong run as the candidate of the American Independent Party and managed to get on the ballot in all 50 states. On Election Day, he drew 10 million votes from across the country.

In 1972, Governor Wallace returned to the Democratic Party for his third presidential campaign and, under a slightly more moderate platform, was showing promising returns when Arthur Bremer shot him on May 15, 1972. Three others were wounded in Bremer’s attack on a Wallace rally in Maryland, and Wallace was permanently paralyzed from the waist down. The next day, while fighting for his life in a hospital, he won major primary victories in Michigan and Maryland. However, Wallace remained in the hospital for several months, bringing his third presidential campaign to an irrevocable end.

After his recovery, he faded from national prominence and made a poor showing in his fourth and final presidential campaign in 1979. During the 1980s, Wallace’s politics shifted dramatically, especially in regard to race. He contacted civil rights leaders he had so forcibly opposed in the past and asked their forgiveness. In time, he gained the political support of Alabama’s growing African-American electorate and in 1983 was elected Alabama governor for the last time with their overwhelming support. During the next four years, the man who had promised segregation forever made more African-American political appointments than any other figure in Alabama history.

He announced his retirement in 1986, telling the Alabama electorate in a tearful address that “I’ve climbed my last political mountain, but there are still some personal hills I must climb. But for now, I must pass the rope and the pick to another climber and say climb on, climb on to higher heights. Climb on ’til you reach the very peak. Then look back and wave at me. I, too, will still be climbing.” He died in 1998.

READ MORE: Segregation in the United States

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Protests at Democratic National Convention in Chicago

Year
1968
Month Day
August 28

On August 28, 1968, at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, thousands of Vietnam War protesters battle police in the streets, while the Democratic Party falls apart over an internal disagreement concerning its stance on Vietnam. Over the course of 24 hours, the predominant American line of thought on the Cold War with the Soviet Union was shattered.

Since the end of World War II, the U.S. perspective on the Soviet Union and Soviet-style communism was marked by truculent disapproval. Intent on stopping the spread of communism, the United States developed a policy by which it would intervene in the affairs of countries it deemed susceptible to communist influence. In the early 1960s, this policy led to U.S. involvement in the controversial Vietnam War, during which the United States attempted to keep South Vietnam from falling under the control of communist North Vietnam, at a cost of more than 2 million Vietnamese and nearly 58,000 American lives.

The “Cold War consensus,” in U.S. government, however, fractured during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968. Democratic delegates from across the country were split on the question of Vietnam. A faction led by Eugene McCarthy, a committed anti-war candidate, began to challenge the long-held assumption that the United States should remain in the war. As the debate intensified, fights broke out on the convention floor, and delegates and reporters were beaten and knocked to the ground. Eventually, the delegates on the side of the status quo, championed by then-Vice President Hubert Humphrey, won out, but the events of the convention had seriously weakened the party, which went on to lose the following election.

Meanwhile, on the streets of Chicago, several thousand anti-war protesters gathered to show their support for McCarthy and the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Vietnam. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley deployed 12,000 police officers and called in another 15,000 state and federal officers to contain the protesters. The situation then rapidly spiraled out of control, with the policemen severely beating and gassing the demonstrators, as well as newsmen and doctors who had come to help.

The ensuing riot, known as the “Battle of Michigan Avenue,” was caught on television, and sparked a large-scale change in American society. For the first time, many Americans came out in virulent opposition to the Vietnam War, which they had begun to feel was pointless and wrongheaded. No longer would people give the national government unrestrained power to pursue its Cold War policies at the expense of the safety of U.S. citizens.

READ MORE: At the 1968 DNC, Yippies Found Their Voice 

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First appearance of the Democratic Party donkey


Year
1870
Month Day
January 15

On January 15, 1870, the first recorded use of a donkey to represent the Democratic Party appears in Harper’s Weekly. Drawn by political illustrator Thomas Nast, the cartoon is entitled “A Live Jackass Kicking a Dead Lion.” The jackass (donkey) is tagged “Copperhead Papers,” referring to the Democrat-dominated newspapers of the South, and the dead lion represents the late Edwin McMasters Stanton, President Abraham Lincoln’s secretary of war during the final three years of the Civil War. In the background is an eagle perched on a rock, representing the postwar federal domination in the South, and in the far background is the U.S. Capitol.

Four years later, Nash originated the use of an elephant to symbolize the Republican Party in a Harper’s Weekly cartoon entitled “The Third-Term Panic.” The cartoon referred to the disparaging response by The New York Herald to the possibility that Republican President Ulysses S. Grant might seek a third-term. The New York Herald is depicted as a donkey wearing lion’s skin labeled “Caesarism.” This bogus lion is frightening several timid animals identified with the names of opposing newspapers, such as The New York Times and The New York Tribune, while a berserk elephant, labeled “Republican vote,” is tottering above a chasm labeled “Chaos” as it tosses to the right and the left the few remaining platform planks holding its weight. The caption of the cartoon reads: “An Ass having put on the Lion’s skin, roamed about the Forest, and amused himself by frightening all the foolish Animals he met with in his wanderings.”

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Violence disrupts first Kansas election

Year
1855
Month Day
March 30

In territorial Kansas’ first election, some 5,000 so-called “Border Ruffians” invade the territory from western Missouri and force the election of a pro-slavery legislature. Although the number of votes cast exceeded the number of eligible voters in the territory, Kansas Governor Andrew Reeder reluctantly approved the election to prevent further bloodshed.

Trouble in territorial Kansas began with the signing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act by President Franklin Pierce in 1854. The act stipulated that settlers in the newly created territories of Nebraska and Kansas would decide by popular vote whether their territory would be free or slave. A few months after pro-slavery forces defrauded Kansas’ first election, the Kansas Free State forces were formed, armed by supporters in the North and featuring the leadership of militant abolitionist John Brown. In May 1856, Border Ruffians sacked the abolitionist town of Lawrence, and in retaliation a small Free State force under John Brown massacred five pro-slavery Kansans along the Pottawatomie Creek.

During the next four years, raids, skirmishes, and massacres continued in “Bleeding Kansas,” as it became popularly known. In 1861, the irrepressible differences in Kansas were swallowed up by the outbreak of full-scale civil war in America.

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