Going Back to Chicago
The Democrats are gathering for their first national Convention in Chicago since 1968 when violence overshadowed politics and the city became a microcosm of national fractiousness spawned by the Vietnam War.
The photographer was arrested while composing this picture. Click here for his story.
Terry Southern's first-hand account of the conflict captures the passions of the moment.
As the city most frequently chosen to host political conventions, Chicago has been the setting for several critical moments of national importance. In 1860, the leaders of the Republican party chose to meet in Chicago instead of St. Louis to nominate Illinois' favorite son, Abraham Lincoln, who had just failed to win a seat in the U.S. Senate. His campaign and presidency shaped the Civil War, and changed the course of the American history forever.
The first acceptance speech by any party's candidate was made in Chicago. In 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt arrived on the final night to rally his troops around the New Deal and to launch the longest run in Presidential history. Chicago also played host to the Democratic convention in 1946, when FDR waved aside the precedent set by George Washington and decided to run for a third term.
But the 1968 Democratic convention was less notable for its politics than for its televised display of social unrest and national disunity. The country had reached the boiling point. Two American icons, Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy's brother, Bobby, had just been assassinated. Everyday, young American boys were being slaughtered in a war that, for many, had already lost its meaning. War protesters decided to gather in Chicago and send a message to candidate Hubert Humphrey and the Democratic party. But Chicago Mayor Richard Daley was unsympathetic. He posted 12,000 police officers on the streets, and called in the Illinois National Guard. Television cameras recorded a bloody riot as police arrested over 500 people in clashes that injured more than 100 police and 100 demonstrators.
To confront the spectacle of young Americans being beaten by angry police in the streets, Esquire Magazine dispatched a team of world-famous writers and reporters. French playwright Jean Genet, "Naked Lunch" author William Burroughs, American New Journalist Terry Southern and reporter John Sack engaged in the protest and the ensuing conflict to gain firsthand accounts. Their brash writing describes the chaos of the riots. Terry Southern's article "Grooving in Chi" is re-published here with permission from the author's son.
The Online NewsHour also asked reporter John Sack to reflect upon the differences between 1996 and 1968.