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The First Kennedy-Nixon Debate

September 16, 2013

The Taft-Hartley Act was passed over President Truman’s veto by the 80th U.S. Congress.  Truman referred to this Republican-controlled assembly as the “Do-Nothing Congress,” and historians have not been kind to its memory.  However, the Taft-Hartley Act has never been repealed, even though the Democrats controlled both houses of the national legislature for all but two years from the 81st through the 96th Congress.

The House Education and Labor Committee of the 80th Congress wrote the Taft-Hartley Act, and two of its freshman members met in public debate when it was still in bill form.  Congressman Richard M. Nixon of California took the affirmative and Congressman John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts took the negative in a 1947 appearance at McKeesport, Pennsylvania.

The two Congressmen would meet again in debate thirteen years later.  Following presidential debates, the American people narrowly chose Senator Kennedy over Vice-President Nixon.

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