John B. Anderson

The most significant season of political stops at Wheaton came during the 1980 Presidential campaign. Illinois has, for a long time, been a key battleground state with its large numbers of electoral votes. The 1980 primary season brought many March visitors to the campus. The first visitor was John B. Anderson.

Anderson, from Rockford, was the recipient of an honorary doctorate from Wheaton (LL.D. — Doctor of Laws) in 1970. Though honored in 1970 by his visit on March 12, 1980 feelings on campus were not as hospitable. A ten-term member of Congress, Anderson ran as an independent in the 1980 Presidential primaries. As a member of Congress he, on three occasions, sought to amend the U.S. Constitution to recognize the law and authority of Jesus Christ over the United States. This put him in good stead with conservative Christian voters, but during his race for the presidential nomination he supported certain abortion rights. His endorsement of a person’s right to choose, which he believed was God-given, put him at odds with the same conservatives that once heralded his work in Washington. It is amazing to see what difference a decade can make.