Richard Nixon won the election that year and a British politician called Enoch Powell made a speech about Rivers of Blood.
It was a terrible turbulent time with the Vietnam War, the crushing of the Prague Spring, and Governor George Wallace of Alabama winning nearly 10 million votes on a pro-segregation platform.
Now 40 years on Senator Barack Obama will be elected President of the USA later today, which shows how much things have changed for the better.
Whether he will be able to deal with the huge problems he will face after inauguration in January is another matter. I listened last night on the BBC to Harvey Gantt, former Mayor of Charlotte, and first African American to be admitted to Clemson University mention his inexperience with less than three years in the Senate before he began his campaign for the nomination.
Has the electorate been seduced out of thought by charisma?
President- Elect Obama certainly starts with a fund of enormous good will from the rest of the world, especially here in the UK. We can only wish him good luck because we need a strong America to get us out of the mess we are in.
The 1912 election was also one that changed the country and I suspect the four contenders carried both literally and possibly intellectually a bit more weight than the present contenders. But only Teddy Roosevelt was a great moose hunter.
America is never wholly herself unless she is engaged in high moral principle. We as a people have such a purpose today. It is to make kinder the face of the nation and gentler the face of the world. George H.W. Bush [the senior] Inaugural Address 1989
War should never be entered upon until every agency of peace has failed.
William McKinley: Inaugural Address 1897
The responsibility of the great states is to serve and not to dominate the world.
Harry Trueman: Address to Congress 1945