Political Rallies in Palmer Park

Political rallies were an important part of Palmer Park’s early history. Local political organizations held numerous rallies and speeches in the park in the first half of the 20th century. The 1919 contentious mayoral campaign was notable for its intensity. The Orleans Democratic Association held rallies in the park to support the reelection efforts of Mayor Martin Berhman. The group exploded gasoline and drove around “Behrman boo trucks” to get people to attend; local government employees were ordered to come to the event. The incitement, and coercion, worked as 1800 people attended the rally and heard Behrman’s assistant campaign manager promise he would have men ready to fight at the polls in order to win the election. Governor Ruffin Pleasant responded directly to this speech, pledging he would do whatever was necessary to prevent fighting, and promising to be in town on election day and that he would commandeer members of the public to make sure the election was not stolen. Berhman lost the election to challenger Andrew McShane.

Other rallies also drew large crowds and featured fireworks and music by the likes of the singing quadruplet sisters The Keys, during a 1939 event. Some notable politicians who spoke at political rallies in the park included Huey Long--and opponents who accused the governor of running for Senate as an attempt to flee before the scandals of his administration became public. Over four thousand people heard Lt. Governor Paul Cyr say: "Long knows the crash is at hand and he is anxious to escape from it. He knows the financial condition to which his extravagant and corrupt administration has brought the schools and institutions of the state and he is trying to escape from it."

Hale Boggs, in his bid for a seat in the U.S. Congress representing New Orleans gave one of his first speeches in Palmer Park. Boggs was a lawyer and resident of the Carrollton neighborhood. During his speech, Boggs denied accusations from opponents that he was a communist and promised to sue for "all defamatory and slanderous statements." Boggs won the election and later served on the Warren Commission, investigating the assassination of President Kennedy, and as the House Majority Leader. Boggs's plane disappeared in Alaska in 1972; his wife, Lindy, won a special election for his seat and served until 1991.



Audio recording of above narrative "Political Rallies in Palmer Park."
Source: Audio recording courtesy of Kevin McQueeney. ~ Creator: Kevin McQueeney ~ Date: 2013
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Palmer Park, New Orleans, LA