For the quarter-century from 1860 to 1884 the bedraggled Democratic Party lingered near death--seemingly it was hopelessly out of power. But the powerful chairman of the Democratic National Committee, August Belmont, supplied large enough doses of money and management to maintain the party's pulse though he could not effect the cure. Professor Katz (history, at Indiana University), credits Belmont with saving the Party from the fate of the Whigs and the Federalists. Here he explores the contribution of the banker-politician who was unknown in political circles in the 1840's but had, by 1852, become an issue in the Presidential election. He served as chairman from 1860 to 1872 and thereafter maintained a lively interest in the selection of platforms and presidential candidates. Katz feels that events and men conspired to keep Belmont's medications from working. But others have blamed Belmont, among them Buchanan, the disillusioned ex-President, who said: ""What can be expected from a party at the head of which is a speculating German Jew?"" Katz's necessarily parochial portrait draws on unpublished papers. It is the first full-length study of Belmont.