On this date in 1947, Idaho Senator Glen H. Taylor kicked off his horseback peace tour with an impromptu concert in Seal Beach. Taylor wanted to “point out to the American people that they are being pushed into a needless war” and felt that a transcontinental ramble through the United States on the back of a white roan (and a back-up horse being towed by his brother-in-law) was the way to get the message out.
Taylor, a former cowhand, actor, and singer, felt that American foreign policy, especially the Marshall Plan and the Truman Doctrine, put the country on a collision course with the Soviet Union. His soft on Russia stance probably contributed to his losing his Senate seat in 1950.
Taylor was a true eccentric. When he came to Washington, D.C. to serve as Senator, the city was suffering through a bout of post-war housing scarcity. Unable to find a place to settle with his family, he took to the Capitol steps with his banjo and sang to the tune of Home On The Range, “O, give us a home, near the Capitol dome, with a yard for two children to play…” When asked about rumors of a flying saucer crash at Roswell, Taylor opined that he hoped there were spaceships from other planets.”They could end our petty arguments on earth.”
While it’s easy to dismiss Taylor as a nutcase, he was a man of true moral convictions and a committed civil rights activist. In 1948, he was arrested for disorderly conduct by none other than Sheriff Bull Connor for entering a “Coloreds Only” entrance to attend a Southern Negro Youth Congress meeting. He also requested a delay in the swearing in of Mississippi Senator Theodore G. Bilbo in 1946 pending an investigation into Bilbo being charged of corruption and civil rights violations. Bilbo was never formally sworn in for his final term and died the next year.
And let’s be honest, how many of our current politicians can play the banjo and carry a tune?
– Michael Dobkins
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