Alternate History

The Steel Speech (Napoleon's World)

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The Steel Speech refers to the June 22, 1967 address made by President Richard Van Dyke on national television during his standoff with the steel industry, which he accused of having reneged on an agreement his administration had helped broker with the steelworkers union and which the Department of Justice sued for antitrust violations and price fixing collusion. During a national uproar, in particular from business executives and many prominent Nationalists, Van Dyke gave an address explaining his rationale for the administrations actions, his hope that the executives could compromise with him, and his views on the role of business and government relations.

Delivered at a time when Van Dyke's approval ratings were mediocre and much of the public viewed him as something of a puppet for the military, banking sector and various powerful industrial interests, the speech is credited with saving his Presidency and restoring his popularity, his goodwill amongst the people of the United States and likely led to his comfortable reelection victory in 1968. Presidential biographer Mike Fox described the address as "probably the most important speech Van Dyke would make in his long career." The speech has been praised in later years for its simplicity - instead of sweeping oratorical gestures, Van Dyke laid out his reasoning simply, rationally and used comparisons the average American could easily relate to.

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