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Ike’s 1955 speech in Concord drew 15,000, topping Obama’s 14,000-strong rally

President Dwight Eisenhowerand Mrs. Mamie Eisenhower acknowledge applause as they arrive, April 4, 1960 at the Republican rally sponsored by the GOP Women?s Conference. The rally featured a box super and a speech by Eisenhower. (AP Photo)

President Dwight Eisenhowerand Mrs. Mamie Eisenhower acknowledge applause as they arrive, April 4, 1960 at the Republican rally sponsored by the GOP Women?s Conference. The rally featured a box super and a speech by Eisenhower. (AP Photo) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

Sure, President Obama’s Sunday rally in downtown Concord was big. But President Dwight Eisenhower has him beat.

On June 23, 1955, Ike visited Concord and delivered a six-minute speech outside the State House. The crowd, according to the next day’s issue of The Concord Daily Monitor, contained an estimated 15,000 spectators.

That tops the estimated crowd of 14,000 at Obama’s rally, which also featured former president Bill Clinton.

Eisenhower’s speech, by the way, featured no small amount of teasing of Sherman Adams, the former New Hampshire governor who had become the president’s chief of staff.

“In my White House staff we have a lecture every morning,” the president said, according to a text available from the American Presidency Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “The chief of the staff has one subject: New Hampshire.

“Above all things we have had our curiosity excited. We want to find out whether the golf greens are greener, the fish are bigger, more plentiful and more cooperative, whether the hills are really as beautiful as he says, whether all of the people are as healthy and strong and completely independent and virile – well! – all of the good words that we apply to people.

“I expect to find every one of them here.”

Franklin Pierce may have both men beat. According to James O. Lyford’s 1903 history of Concord, the former president addressed a crowd of roughly 20,000 in the city on July 4, 1863, delivering a speech condemning President Lincoln’s handling of the Civil War.

Ben Leubsdorf

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