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Document Friday: The Stoning of Nixon’s Motorcade in Caracas

May 11, 2012

“The Car of Our Vice President.”

On May 13, 1958, Vice President and Mrs. Nixon arrived in Venezuela for a stop on a Latin American goodwill tour.  Upon landing, unfriendly Venezuelans “purposely disrupted the airport welcoming ceremony by shouting, blowing whistles, waving derogatory placards, strowing stones, and showering the Nixons with human spittle and chewing tobacco.”

The day would only get worse.  Here is an account of the incident from an internal history of the Secret Service.  (Which my grubby little hands just received in response to a FOIA request.)

“The Law and Order Candidate”

Nixon wrote about this this “adventure” in his 1962 book Six Crises.  I heard about it while my friends were chatting history and decided to put in a FOIA request to Homeland Security (which now controls the Secret Service) and received documents from the Treasury (which used to control the Secret Service).

Agents Knight and Taylor examine the damage. Knight was appointed Director of the Secret Service in 1973.

Nixon was able to safely leave Caracas the next day (although President Eisenhower had ordered a US naval squadron to the coast of Venezuela, just in case).

Here is some newsreel footage of the mobbing.

Upon returning to Washington, Nixon thanked the agents at the National Press Club.  He mused, “Of course, I have a personal interest –the Secret Service is there to protect me.  I didn’t want to get killed.”

Spoken like a true politician.

His thanks made it into Volume 20 Number 48 of The Record, the Secret Service’s private newsletter.

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