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John L. Lewis speech - October 25, 1940

January 18th, 2017

We’re going to skip ahead a few years from our previous post and look at a response to FDR’s New Deal and his two terms in office.

John L. Lewis served as president of the United Mine Workers for four decades and was one of the founders of the Congress of Industrial Organizations that organized other workers around the country.  Lewis backed FDR in 1936, but became an isolationist on the eve of World War II and supported Wendell Wilkie.

In this post, we hear a half-hour speech given by Lewis in support of Wilkie originally broadcast on all four networks on October 25, 1940, just a couple of weeks before the election.  The broadcast, sponsored by the National Committee of Democrats for Wilkie, originated from Washington, DC.

In the speech, Lewis slams FDR as not friend of labor by moving the US towards war.  The speech is notable because Lewis famously committed to resigning from his position with the CIO if labor disagreed with him.

Lewis resigned after the election when 85% of the CIO supported Roosevelt.

This speech appears to be previously lost.  I’ve only found one archives who has a copy (in Australia, of all places) and they only have one of the discs.

The speech, carried on all four networks, was slotted for thirty minutes, but this recording appears to run longer than that - almost 34 minutes.  The labels on the discs note that it is the “complete speech”, so Lewis may have been cut off the network when he ran long.

The program includes the introduction for Lewis and the outcue for the CBS network.  At the end of the program, you can hear other announcers in the background - it may be the other announcers for the other networks giving the network cues for their own stations.

Our mp3 was transferred from a set of three sides on two red vinyl 16” transcriptions pressed by Time Abroad, Inc., 79 West 57th Street, New York, matrix numbers TR-2802S, TR-2803S, and TR-2806S.  One disc in the set is cracked from the edge to the lable, so you’ll hear a regular “tick” on two of the parts.

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