THE 103rd BALLOT: Democrats and the Disaster in Madison Square Garden by Robert K. Murray

THE 103rd BALLOT: Democrats and the Disaster in Madison Square Garden

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One New York correspondent at the 16-day-long Democratic Party convention of 1924 remarked that it must have convinced William Jennings Bryan and other anti-evolutionists ""of the existence of the missing link."" It took 103 ballots to nominate a Presidential candidate that summer. The Madison Square Garden lineup included Al Smith, a straight urban Catholic liberal; John Davis, a Wall Street lawyer for Morgan and Rockefeller; Oscar Underwood, an anti-Klan spokesman for the business-oriented ""New South""; and the unexpectedly fascinating William McAdoo, who was a Bernard Baruch ally but a ""dry"" anti-Wall-Street Protestant--though Spotted by the Teapot Dome scandal. After a narrow, brawling defeat of those who wanted the party platform to denounce the Klan by name, a Smith-McAdoo standoff developed; the author maintains that little shrewd back-room maneuvering took place, and treats it as a matter of course when Smith endorses Davis as a compromise. Davis himself spent much of his time campaigning against the progressive La Follette instead of the Republicans, who of course won. The book cites returning prosperity as a major reason for the defeat, but implies that the Democrats simply possessed no national leader with a program able to supersede the sectional free-for-all and the pseudo-issues of Prohibition, Tammany, and religion. An enjoyable chronicle, showing the vigor and diversity--and limitations--of the politics of the period.

Pub Date: April 21st, 1976
Publisher: Harper & Row