John Bernard

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John T. Bernard was elected to US Congress from the 8th Congressional District in 1936 on the Farm-Labor ticket. He served only one term.

On his first day on the floor of the House of Representatives, a measure came before the House which would deny shipment of arms to the Spanish Republican Army to assist in their battle against the forces of General Francisco Franco who had led a military coup which attempted to overthrow the duly elected first government of the Spanish Republic.

While a group of progressive congressmen, who had met beforehand, had agreed to vote against the measure, only Bernard arose to vote 'No' when the House Speaker asked for a unanimous 'Yes' vote. It was an act of courage, which would cost him dearly.

Running for re-election Bernard was pilloried by the media as a communist. The Catholic Church sent Monsignor Fulton J. Sheene to the district to campaign against him. Catholics were advised to vote against him at church services before Election Day. The military coup succeeded with help from Hitler and Mussolini who then went on to conquer most of Europe.

Sometime later President Roosevelt acknowledged the correctness of Bernard's action saying that if the United States had supported the Spanish Republic, World War II might have been averted. Bernard was truly a man of principle.
~Marie Field


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