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A Political "Huh." Adams was practically pushed into politics. Lincoln, a one-industry town of 1,500, was dominated by the Parker-Young Co. In 1940, says Martin Brown, then Parker-Young's president, "some of the men at the mill said we ought to send a better type down to the Capitol. They said the men we had sent there were not attending to business." Brown called a meeting of about 25 company officials and suggested that Adams be put up for the legislature.* The proposal was agreed upon. Next day Brown walked into Adams' office and said: "Sherm, I guess we've got to send you down to Concord this fall." Replied Adams: "Huh."
He served two terms in the legislature, the second as the house speaker, and went on to Washington and the U.S. House of Representatives, where he was a hardworking but undistinguished one-termer. In 1946 Adams ran for governor of New Hampshire and lost by only 157 votes to Incumbent Republican Charles Dale. Two years later, Adams won easily over another candidate.
Governor Adams set briskly about streamlining the state's cumbersome administrative machinery. He succeeded, but not without a hard fight that he partly brought upon himself. One of the members of the reorganization commission was regularly late to its meetings. Adams, who makes a fetish of punctuality, began railing at the late comer. The man was later on hand as majority leader of the state legislature to fight the reorganization at nearly every turn. From such political enemies, Adams earned the nickname "One-Term Sherm." He seemed, however, to do all right with the voters, and he was re-elected in 1950.
Backing the Fastest Horse. On Sept. 30, 1951, Adams attended a governors' conference at Gatlinburg, Tenn., where he announced that the name of General Dwight Eisenhowerwhom he had never metwould be entered in the New Hampshire presidential primary. Says Adams: "I became convinced that he had the capabilities and the principles to make a really great President." Then he adds: "He was the fastest horse in the stable."
During the New Hampshire primary, Adams bore the brunt of campaigning for his absent candidate, and he is entitled to much of the credit for Ike's make-orbreak New Hampshire victory over Bob Taft. In July, as the Republicans trooped to Chicago for their national convention, Adams was named floor manager of the Eisenhower forces. Up to that time, Ike hardly knew Adams from Adam, but he was impressed by the terse, accurate battle reports sent by Adams from the floor.
A few days after he was nominated, Eisenhower called upon Adams to become his personal campaign manager.
As the campaign progressed, Candidate Eisenhower depended more and more on the counsels of Manager Adams. Ike's trust was especially earned in the episode of Dick Nixon's expense account, when many of the Eisenhower staff members panicked and began screaming for Nixon's head. Adams' advice was simple: "Sit tight and wait." Then he helped set up Nixon's effective television speech.