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In the fall of 1936, the nation overwhelmingly re-elected Franklin D. Roosevelt as president of the United States. Vermont was one of two states to back the Republican presidential contender. To many this was evidence Vermont remained one of the most conservative states in the nation. But the election that year of George David Aiken, 44, as governor spoke volumes about how Vermont was changing politically.

Aiken, a horticulturist, was a champion of the common man, the enemy of the business interests and utilities that had run Vermont for decades.

Aiken was critical of the Republican Party, saying it had lost touch with the "men and women who work for a living and know what a day's work and a dollar are."

In a nationally broadcast radio speech from New York City in 1938 marking Abraham Lincoln's birthday, Aiken said: "Today the Republican Party attracts neither the farmer nor the industrial worker. Why not? To represent the people one must know them. Lincoln did. The Republican Party leadership does not. The greatest praise I can give Lincoln on this his anniversary is to say he would be ashamed of his party's leadership today."


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