1924 Democratic National Convention

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1924 Democratic National Convention
1924 Presidential Election
John William Davis.jpg Charles Wayland Bryan.jpg
Nominees
Davis and Bryan
Convention
Date(s) June 24 - July 9
City New York, New York
Venue Madison Square Garden
Candidates
Presidential nominee John W. Davis of New York
Vice Presidential nominee Charles W. Bryan of Nebraska
1920  ·  1928

The 1924 Democratic National Convention, also called the Klanbake,[1] held at the Madison Square Garden in New York City from June 24 to July 9, 1924, took a record 103 ballots to nominate a presidential candidate. It was the longest continuously running convention in United States political history. It was the first major party national convention that saw the name of a woman, Lena Springs, placed in nomination for the office of Vice President. It was also known for the strong influence of the Ku Klux Klan. John W. Davis, initially an outsider, eventually won the presidential nomination as a compromise candidate following a virtual war of attrition between front-runners William Gibbs McAdoo and Al Smith.

Davis and his vice presidential running-mate, Charles W. Bryan of Nebraska, went on to be defeated by the Republican ticket of President Calvin Coolidge and Charles G. Dawes in the 1924 presidential election.

Ku Klux Klan[edit]

The Ku Klux Klan, a relic of post-Civil War Reconstruction, was resurrected after the 1915 release of D.W. Griffith's very popular motion picture The Birth of a Nation. After World War I, the popularity of the Klan surged, and it became a political power in many regions of the United States, particularly in the South. It was also popular in the border states, the Mountain States, and the West. Its local political strength gave it a major role in the 1924 Democratic Party National Convention (DNC). However, its participation was unwelcome by many DNC delegates, such as Catholics from the major cities of the Northeast and Midwest. The tension between pro- and anti-Klan delegates produced an intense and sometimes violent showdown between convention attendees from the states of Colorado and Missouri.[citation needed] Klan delegates opposed the nomination of New York Governor Al Smith because Smith was a Roman Catholic. Smith campaigned against William Gibbs McAdoo, who had the support of most Klan delegates.

KKK platform plank[edit]

The second dispute of the convention revolved around an attempt by non-Klan delegates, led by Forney Johnston of Alabama, to condemn the organization for its violence in the Democratic Party's platform. Klan delegates defeated the platform plank in a series of floor debates. To celebrate, tens of thousands of hooded Klansmen rallied in a field in New Jersey, across the river from New York City.[2] This event, known subsequently as the "Klanbake",[1] was also attended by hundreds of Klan delegates to the convention, who burned crosses, urged violence and intimidation against African Americans and Catholics, and attacked effigies of Smith.[citation needed]

The final vote was 546.15 for the Klan, 542.85 against it.

Impact[edit]

The notoriety of the "Klanbake" convention and the violence it produced cast a lasting shadow over the Democratic Party's prospects in the 1924 election and contributed to their defeat by incumbent Republican President Calvin Coolidge.[citation needed]

Smith's name was placed into nomination by Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his first appearance at the Democratic National Convention since being stricken with paralytic illness. This signaled a political comeback for Roosevelt; he would be elected Governor of New York four years later and President eight years later.

Results[edit]

President[edit]

The first day of balloting (June 30) brought the predicted deadlock between the leading aspirants for the nomination, William G. McAdoo of California and Gov. Alfred E. Smith of New York, with the remainder divided mainly between local "favorite sons". McAdoo was the leader from the outset, and both he and Smith made small gains in the day's fifteen ballots, but the prevailing belief among the delegates was that the impasse could only be broken by the elimination of both McAdoo and Smith and the selection of one of the other contenders; much interest centred about the candidacy of John W. Davis, who also increased his vote during the day from 31 to 61 (with a peak of 64.5 votes on the 13th and 14th ballots). Most of the favorite son delegations refused to be stampeded to either of the leading candidates and were in no hurry to retire from the contest.

In the early balloting many delegations appeared to be jockeying for position, and some of the original votes were purely complimentary and seemed to conceal the real sentiments of the delegates. Louisiana, for example, which was bound by the "unit rule", first complimented its neighbour Arkansas by casting its 20 votes for Sen. Joseph T. Robinson, then it switched to Sen. Carter Glass, and on another ballot Gov. Albert C. Ritchie got the twenty, before the delegation finally settled on John W. Davis.

There was some excitement on the tenth ballot, when Kansas abandoned Gov. Jonathan M. Davis and threw its votes to McAdoo. There was an instant uproar among McAdoo delegates and supporters, and a parade was started around the hall, the Kansas standard leading, with those of all the other McAdoo states coming along behind, and pictures of "McAdoo, Democracy's Hope", being lifted up. After six minutes the chairman's gavel brought order and the roll call resumed, and soon the other side had something to cheer, when New Jersey made its favorite son, Gov. George S. Silzer, walk the plank and threw its votes into the Smith column. This started another parade, the New York and New Jersey standards leading those of the other Smith delegations around the hall while the band played "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, the Boys are Marching".

First ballot[edit]

Democratic National Convention presidential first ballots
Candidate Votes Percentage
William G. McAdoo 431.5 (39.4%)
Alfred E. Smith 241 (22.0%)
James M. Cox 59 (5.4%)
Pat Harrison 43.5 (4.0%)
Oscar W. Underwood 42.5 (3.9%)
George S. Silzer 38 (3.5%)
John W. Davis 31 (2.8%)
Samuel M. Ralston 30 (2.7%)
Woodbridge N. Ferris 30 (2.7%)
Carter Glass 25 (2.3%)
Albert C. Ritchie 22.5 (2.1%)
Joseph T. Robinson 21 (1.9%)
Jonathan M. Davis 20 (1.8%)
Charles W. Bryan 18 (1.6%)
Fred H. Brown 17 (1.6%)
William Sweet 12 (1.1%)
Willard Saulsbury 7 (0.6%)
John Kendrick 6 (0.5%)
Houston Thompson 1 (0.1%)

Fifteenth ballot[edit]

Democratic National Convention presidential vote, 15th- ballots
Candidate Votes Percentage
William G. McAdoo 479 (43.6%)
Alfred E. Smith 305.5 (27.8%)
John W. Davis 61 (5.6%)
James M. Cox 60 (5.5%)
Oscar W. Underwood 39.5 (3.6%)
Samuel M. Ralston 31 (2.8%)
Carter Glass 25 (2.3%)
Pat Harrison 20.5 (1.9%)
Joseph T. Robinson 20.5 (1.9%)
Albert C. Ritchie 17.5 (1.6%)
Jonathan M. Davis 11 (1.0%)
Charles W. Bryan 11 (1.0%)
Fred H. Brown 9 (0.8%)
Willard Saulsbury 6 (0.5%)
Thomas J. Walsh 1 (0.1%)
Newton D. Baker 1 (0.1%)

Twentieth ballot[edit]

Democratic National Convention presidential vote
Candidate Votes Percentage
William G. McAdoo 432 (39.5%)
Alfred E. Smith 307.5 (28.0%)
John W. Davis 122 (11.3%)
Oscar W. Underwood 45.5 (4.1%)
Samuel M. Ralston 30 (2.7%)
Carter Glass 25 (2.3%)
Joseph T. Robinson 21 (1.9%)
Albert C. Ritchie 17.5 (1.6%)
Others 97.5 (8.6%)

Thirtieth ballot[edit]

Democratic National Convention presidential vote, 1960
Candidate Votes Percentage
William G. McAdoo 415.5 (37.7%)
Alfred E. Smith 323.5 (29.4%)
John W. Davis 126.5 (11.5%)
Oscar W. Underwood 39.5 (3.6%)
Samuel M. Ralston 33 (3.0%)
Carter Glass 24 (2.2%)
Joseph T. Robinson 23 (2.1%)
Albert C. Ritchie 17.5 (1.6%)
Others 95.5 (9.9%)

Forty-second ballot[edit]

Democratic National Convention presidential vote, 1960
Candidate Votes Percentage
William G. McAdoo 503.4 (45.7%)
Alfred E. Smith 318.6 (28.9%)
John W. Davis 67 (6.0%)
Others 209.0 (19.4%)

Sixty-first ballot[edit]

Democratic National Convention presidential vote
Candidate Votes Percentage
William G. McAdoo 469.5 (42.6%)
Alfred E. Smith 335.5 (30.5%)
John W. Davis 60 (5.4%)
Others 233 (21.5%)

Seventieth ballot[edit]

Democratic National Convention presidential vote
Candidate Votes Percentage
William G. McAdoo 528.5 (48.0%)
Alfred E. Smith 334.5 (30.4%)
John W. Davis 67 (6.0%)
Others 170 (15.6%)

Seventy-seventh[edit]

Democratic National Convention presidential vote, 1960
Candidate Votes Percentage
William G. McAdoo 513 (47.7%)
Alfred E. Smith 367 (33.3%)
John W. Davis 76.5 (6.9%)
Others 134 (12.1%)

Eighty-seventh[edit]

Democratic National Convention presidential vote
Candidate Votes Percentage
Alfred E. Smith 361.5 (32.8%)
William G. McAdoo 333.5 (30.3%)
John W. Davis 66.5 (6.0%)
Others 336.5 (30.9%)

The One hundredth to the 103rd ballots[edit]

Democratic National Convention final ballots
Candidate Votes Percentage Votes Percentage Votes Percentage Votes Percentage
Alfred E. Smith 351.5 (32.4%) 121 1 (0.1%) 1 (0.1%)
John W. Davis 203.5 (18.7%) 316 1 (0.1%) 883 (90.1%)
William G. McAdoo 190 (17.5%) 52 (0.1%)
Edwin T. Meredith 75.5 (7.0%) 130 (0.1%) 1 (0.1%)
Thomas J. Walsh 52.5 (4.8%) 98 (0.1%) 123 (11%)
Joseph T. Robinson 46 (4.2%) 22.5 (0.1%) 1 (0.1%) 1 (0.1%)
Oscar W. Underwood 41.5 (3.8%) 229.5 (0.1%) 317 (29%) 102 (0.1%)
Carter Glass 35 (3.2%)
Josephus Daniels 24 (2.2%)
Robert L. Owen 20 (1.8%)
Albert C. Ritchie 17.5 (1.6%)
James W. Gerard 10 (0.9%)
David F. Houston 9 (0.8%)
Willard Saulsbury 6 (0.6%)
Charles W. Bryan 2 (0.2%)
George L. Berry 1 (0.1%)
Newton D. Baker 1 (0.1%)

Vice Presidential Nomination[edit]

With everyone at the convention hot,bothered and tired, there was further chaos at the convention. Thirteen people's names were placed into nomination, and early in the process, the permitted length of speeches was limited to five minutes each.

The only ballot was chaotic, with over thirty people, including three women, getting votes. George Berry, a labor union leader from Tennessee, led Charles W. Bryan, Governor of Nebraska, by a vote of 263 to 238. It looked like another deadlock was in the making. Davis' people sent the word down that their guy was Bryan, and just before the results were announced, a cascade of switches from whoever to Bryan took place. He was nominated with at least 740 votes. He is notable as the only brother of a previous nominee (William Jennings Bryan) to be nominated by a major party, something not even the Kennedys could achieve.

The official tally was:

Presidential Balloting, DNC 1924
First ballot before shifts after shifts
Governor C. W. Bryan 238 739
George Berry 263 212
Bennett Clark ?? 42
Lena Springs 42 18
Colonel Alvin Owsley ?? 16
Governor George S. Silzer ?? 10
Mayor John F. Hylan 109 6
Governor Jonathan M. Davis ?? 4

Prayers[edit]

Each of the convention's 23 sessions was opened with an invocation by a different nationally prominent clergyman. The choices represented the party's coalition at the time: there were five Episcopalian ministers; three Presbyterians; three Lutherans; two Roman Catholics; two Baptists; two Methodists; one each from the Congregationalists, Disciples of Christ, Unitarians, and Christian Scientists; and two Jewish rabbis. All of the clergy were white men; African-American denominations were not represented.

With the convention deadlocked over the choice of a nominee, some of the invocations became calls for the delegates and candidates to put aside sectionalism and ambition in favor of party unity.[3][4][5]

Among the clergy who spoke to the convention:

  • The roster included, on different days, two fierce antagonists and frequent debaters on the theory of evolution and Biblical inerrancy, Rev. John Roach Straton, a Baptist conservative,[9] and Rev. Charles Francis Potter, a Unitarian Modernist.[10]

Legacy[edit]

  • This was the first Democratic National Convention broadcast on radio.[13]
  • The first seconding address by a woman in either national political parties was given by Izetta Jewel at this convention, seconding John Davis.[14][15]
  • During his 1960 campaign, John F. Kennedy cited the dilemma of the Massachusetts delegation at the 1924 Democratic National Convention when making light of his own campaign problems : "Either we must switch to a more liberal candidate or move to a cheaper hotel."[16]
  • Both Franklin D. Roosevelt and Al Smith were filmed during the convention by Lee De Forest in DeForest's Phonofilm sound-on-film process. These films are in the Maurice Zouary collection at the Library of Congress.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • Robert K. Murray, The 103rd Ballot: Democrats and the Disaster in Madison Square Garden (NY: Harper & Row, 1976)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The Democratic Convention of 1924". Digital History. Archived from the original on June 5, 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-14. 
  2. ^ Allen, Lee N. "The McAdoo Campaign for the Presidential Nomination in 1924." Journal of Southern History 29 (May 1963): 211-28.
  3. ^ "Thrills Come Early in Morning After Session Opens Tamely", New York Times, July 9, 1924
  4. ^ a b Official Report of the Proceedings of the Democratic National Convention, published by the Democratic National Committee (1924), p. 886
  5. ^ Official Report of the Proceedings of the Democratic National Convention, published by the Democratic National Committee (1924), p. 948
  6. ^ Official Report of the Proceedings of the Democratic National Convention, published by the Democratic National Committee (1924), pp. 3-4
  7. ^ Official Report of the Proceedings of the Democratic National Convention, published by the Democratic National Committee (1924), p. 385
  8. ^ Official Report of the Proceedings of the Democratic National Convention, published by the Democratic National Committee (1924), p. 45
  9. ^ Official Report of the Proceedings of the Democratic National Convention, published by the Democratic National Committee (1924), pp. 221-22
  10. ^ Official Report of the Proceedings of the Democratic National Convention, published by the Democratic National Committee (1924), p. 852
  11. ^ Official Report of the Proceedings of the Democratic National Convention, published by the Democratic National Committee (1924), p. 227
  12. ^ Official Report of the Proceedings of the Democratic National Convention, published by the Democratic National Committee (1924), pp. 538-39
  13. ^ Sterling, Christopher H.; O'Dell, Cary (2011). The Concise Encyclopedia of American Radio. Routledge. p. 258. ISBN 9781135176846. 
  14. ^ Izetta Jewel - .wvencyclopedia.org accessed September 1, 2012
  15. ^ Teel, Ray, The Public Press, 1900-1945: The History of American Journalism - 2006; P. 109 accessed September 1, 2012
  16. ^ Theodore White, The Making of the President 1960 (NY: Atheneum Publishers, 1961), p. ?


Preceded by
1920
Democratic National Conventions Succeeded by
1928