In 1970, President Richard Nixon was scheduled at an American Legion convention in Portland, Oregon, in order to promote the continuation of the Vietnam War. A Portland-based anti-Vietnam War group, called the People’s Army Jamboree, planned a series of demonstrations to be held at the same time as the convention. Law enforcement, expecting massive numbers of protesters on both sides, were concerned about large-scale violence—an FBI report estimated a potential crowd of 25,000 Legionnaires and 50,000 anti-war protestors, and suggested that the result could be worse than the protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
In order to keep the peace, Republican Oregon Governor Tom McCall made an agreement with representatives of local anti-war factions to permit a rock festival to be held in a state park at the same time as Nixon’s scheduled visit, and to turn a blind eye toward behavior that had been widespread at the Woodstock Festival, like nudity and use of marijuana. McCall has been heard to remark that by making this agreement—less than three months before the upcoming November vote, in which he was running for re-election—he had “committed political suicide.” The festival was often called “The Governor’s Pot Party” by many Oregonians. McCall won re-election that November, defeating opponent Robert W. Straub handily.
- Mike Meacham, barefooted attendee of Vortex I
Our neighbor in Portland, the Dill Pickle Club —- Oregon’s most esteemed grassroots cultural history crew — is creating a comic about this strange and hardly believable tale of a Republican Governor, a bunch of hippies and the complicated sculpting of Oregon’s liberal reputation. The comic will be distributed for free at Tom McCall’s 100th birthday party in Portland this spring — help make it happen on their Kickstarter.