Ghosts of the Library



One of my favorite stops at the Abraham Lincoln Museum in Springfield.

The Thirty-third Infantry Illinois Volunteers was organized at Camp Butler, Illinois, in the month of September, 1861, by Colonel Chas. E. Hovey, and mustered into the United States service by Captain T. G. Pitcher, U. S. A. (more…)

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Democratic Platform 1920

The Democrats opened their national convention a century ago in San Francisco.  Here is the platform they adopted.  It begins with praise of the Wilson administration and urges adoption of The League of Nations.  Here is the text of the platform:
June 28, 1920

The Democratic Party, in its National Convention now assembled, sends greetings to the President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, and hails with patriotic pride the great achievements for country and the world wrought by a Democratic administration under his leadership.

It salutes the mighty people of this great republic, emerging with imperishable honor from the severe tests and grievous strains of the most tragic war in history, having earned the plaudits and the gratitude of all free nations.

It declares its adherence to the fundamental progressive principles of social, economic and industrial justice and advance, and purposes to resume the great work of translating these principles into effective laws, begun and carried far by the Democratic administration and interrupted only when the war claimed all the national energies for the single task of victory.

League of Nations

The Democratic Party favors the League of Nations as the surest, if not the only, practicable means of maintaining the permanent peace of the world and terminating the insufferable burden of great military and naval establishments. It was for this that America broke away from traditional isolation and spent her blood and treasure to crush a colossal scheme of conquest. It was upon this basis that the President of the United States, in prearrangement with our allies, consented to a suspension of hostilities against the Imperial German Government; the Armistice was granted and a Treaty of Peace negotiated upon the definite assurance to Germany, as well as to the powers pitted against Germany, that “a general association of nations must be formed, under specific covenants, for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.” Hence, we not only congratulate the President on the vision manifested and the vigor exhibited in the prosecution of the war; but we felicitate him and his associates on the exceptional achievement at Paris involved in the adoption of a league and treaty so near akin to previously expressed American ideals and so intimately related to the aspirations of civilized peoples everywhere.

We commend the President for his courage and his high conception of good faith in steadfastly standing for the covenant agreed to by all the associated and allied nations at war with Germany, and we condemn the Republican Senate for its refusal to ratify the treaty merely because it was the product of Democratic statesmanship, thus interposing partisan envy and personal hatred in the way of the peace and renewed prosperity of the world.

By every accepted standard of international morality the President is justified in asserting that the honor of the country is involved in this business; and we point to the accusing fact that, before it was determined to initiate political antagonism to the treaty, the now Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee himself publicly proclaimed that any proposition for a separate peace with Germany, such as he and his party associates thereafter reported to the Senate, would make us “guilty of the blackest crime.”

On May 15 last the Knox substitute for the Versailles Treaty was passed by the Republican Senate; and this Convention can contrive no more fitting characterization of its obloquy than that made in the Forum magazine of December, 1918, by Henry Cabot Lodge, when he said:

“If we send our armies and young men abroad to be killed and wounded in northern France and Flanders with no result but this, our entrance into war with such an intention was a crime which nothing can justify. The intent of Congress and the intent of the President was that there could be no peace until we could create a situation where no such war as this could recur.

“We cannot make peace except in company with our allies.

“It would brand us with everlasting dishonor and bring ruin to us also if we undertook to make a separate peace.”

Thus, to that which Mr. Lodge, in saner moments, considered “the blackest crime” he and his party in madness sought to give the sanctity of law; that which eighteen months ago was of “everlasting dishonor,” the Republican Party and its candidates to-day accept as the essence of faith.

We endorse the President’s view of our international obligations and his firm stand against reservations designed to cut to pieces the vital provisions of the Versailles Treaty and we commend the Democrats in Congress for voting against resolutions for separate peace which would disgrace the nation.

We advocate the immediate ratification of the treaty without reservations which would impair its essential integrity; but do not oppose the acceptance of any reservations making clearer or more specific the obligations of the United States to the league associates. Only by doing this may we retrieve the reputation of this nation among the powers of the earth and recover the moral leadership which President Wilson won and which Republican politicians at Washington sacrificed. Only by doing this may we hope to aid effectively in the restoration of order throughout the world and to take the place which we should assume in the front rank of spiritual, commercial and industrial advancement.

We reject as utterly vain, if not vicious, the Republican assumption that ratification of the treaty and membership in the League of Nations would in any wise impair the integrity or independence of our country. The fact that the covenant has been entered into by twenty-nine nations, all as jealous of their independence as we of ours, is a sufficient refutation of such a charge. The President repeatedly has declared, and this Convention reaffirms, that all our duties and obligations as a member of the league must be fulfilled in strict conformity with the Constitution of the United States, embodied in which is the fundamental requirement of declaratory action by the Congress before this nation may become a participant in any war.

Senate Rules

We favor such alteration of the rules of procedure of the Senate of the United States as will permit the prompt transaction of the nation’s legislative business.

Conduct of the War

During the war President Wilson exhibited the very broadest conception of liberal Americanism. In his conduct of the war, as in the general administration of his high office, there was no semblance of partisan bias. He invited to Washington as his councilors and coadjutors hundreds of the most prominent and pronounced Republicans in the country. To these he committed responsibilities of the gravest import and most confidential nature. Many of them had charge of vital activities of the government

And yet, with the war successfully prosecuted and gloriously ended, the Republican Party in Congress, far from applauding the masterly leadership of the President and felicitating the country on the amazing achievements of the American government, has meanly requited the considerate course of the chief magistrate by savagely defaming the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy and by assailing nearly every public officer of every branch of the service intimately concerned in winning the war abroad and preserving the security of the government at home.

We express something that the Republican Convention omitted to express—we express to the soldiers and sailors of America the admiration of their fellow countrymen. Guided by the genius of such commanders as General John J. Pershing, the armed forces of America constituted a decisive factor in the victory and brought new lustre to the flag.

We commend the patriotic men and women, who sustained the efforts of their government in the crucial hours of the war, and contributed to the brilliant administrative success, achieved under the broad-visioned leadership of the President.

Financial Achievements

A review of the record of the Democratic Party during the administration of Woodrow Wilson presents a chapter of substantial achievements unsurpassed in the history of the republic. For fifty years before the advent of this administration periodical convulsions had impeded the industrial progress of the American people and caused unestimatable loss and distress. By the enactment of the Federal Reserve Act the old system, which bred panics, was replaced by a new system, which insured confidence. It was an indispensable factor in winning the war, and to-day it is the hope and inspiration of business. Indeed, one vital danger against which the American people should keep constantly on guard, is the commitment of this system to partisan enemies who struggled against its adoption and vainly attempted to retain in the hands of speculative bankers a monopoly of the currency and credits of the nation. Already there are well defined indications of an assault upon the vital principles of the system in the event of Republican success at the elections in November.

Under Democratic leadership the American people successfully financed their stupendous part in the greatest war of all time. The Treasury wisely insisted during the war upon meeting an adequate portion of the war expenditure from current taxes and the bulk of the balance from popular loans, and, during the first full fiscal year after fighting stopped, upon meeting current expenditures from current receipts notwithstanding the new and unnecessary burdens thrown upon the Treasury by the delay, obstruction and extravagance of a Republican Congress.

The non-partisan Federal Reserve authorities have been wholly free of political interference or motive; and, in their own time and their own way, have used courageously, though cautiously, the instruments at their disposal to prevent undue expansion of credit in the country. As a result of these sound Treasury and Federal Reserve policies, the inevitable war inflation has been held down to a minimum, and the cost of living has been prevented from increasing in this country in proportion to the increase in other belligerent countries and in neutral countries which are in close contact with the world’s commerce and exchanges.

After a year and a half of fighting in Europe, and despite another year and a half of Republican obstruction at home, the credit of the Government of the United States stands unimpaired, the Federal Reserve note is the unit of value throughout all the world; and the United States is the one great country in the world which maintains a free gold market.

We condemn the attempt of the Republican party to deprive the American people of their legitimate pride in the financing of the war—an achievement without parallel in the financial history of this or any other country, in this or any other war. And in particular we condemn the pernicious attempt of the Republican Party to create discontent among the holders of the bonds of the Government of the United States and to drag our public finance and our banking and currency system back into the arena of party politics .

Tax Revision

We condemn the failure of the present Congress to respond to the oft-repeated demand of the President and the Secretaries of the Treasury to revise the existing tax laws. The continuance in force in peace times of taxes devised under pressure of imperative necessity to produce a revenue for war purposes is indefensible and can only result in lasting injury to the people. The Republican Congress persistently failed, through sheer political cowardice, to make a single move toward a readjustment of tax laws which it denounced before the last election and was afraid to revise before the next election.

We advocate reform and a searching revision of the War Revenue Acts to fit peace conditions so that the wealth of the nation may not be withdrawn from productive enterprise and diverted to wasteful or non-productive expenditure.

We demand prompt action by the next Congress for a complete survey of existing taxes and their modification and simplification with a view to secure greater equity and justice in the tax burden and improvement in administration.

Public Economy

Claiming to have effected great economies in Government expenditures, the Republican Party cannot show the reduction of one dollar in taxation as a corollary of this false pretense. In contrast, the last Democratic Congress enacted legislation reducing taxes from eight billions, designed to be raised, to six billions for the first year after the Armistice, and to four billions thereafter; and there the total is left undiminished by our political adversaries. Two years after Armistice Day a Republican Congress provides for expending the stupendous sum of $5,403,390,.327.30, and wouldn’t even lop off the thirty cents.

Affecting great paper economies by reducing departmental estimates of sums which would not have been spent in any event, and by reducing formal appropriations, the Republican statement of expenditures omits the pregnant fact that the Congress authorized the use of one and a half billion dollars in the hands of various departments and bureaus, which otherwise would have been covered back into the Treasury, and which should be added to the Republican total of expenditures.

High Cost of Living

The high cost of living and the depreciation of bond values in this country are primarily due to the war itself, to the necessary governmental expenditures for the destructive purposes of war, to private extravagance, to the world shortage of capital, to the inflation of foreign currencies and credits, and, in large degree, to conscienceless profiteering.

The Republican Party is responsible for the failure to restore peace and peace conditions in Europe, which is a principal cause of post-armistice inflation the world over. It has denied the demand of the President for necessary legislation to deal with secondary and local causes. The sound policies pursued by the Treasury and the Federal Reserve system have limited in this country, though they could not prevent, the inflation which was worldwide. Elected upon specific promises to curtail public expenditures and to bring the country back to a status of effective economy, the Republican Party in Congress wasted time and energy for more than a year in vain and extravagant investigations, costing the tax-payers great sums of money, while revealing nothing beyond the incapacity of Republican politicians to cope with the problems. Demanding that the President, from his place at the Peace Table, call the Congress into extraordinary session for imperative purposes of readjustment, the Congress when convened spent thirteen months in partisan pursuits, failing to repeal a single war statute which harassed business or to initiate a single constructive measure to help business. It busied itself making a pre-election record of pretended thrift, having not one particle of substantial existence in fact. It raged against profiteers and the high cost of living without enacting a single statute to make the former afraid or doing a single act to bring the latter within limitations.

The simple truth is that the high cost of living can only be remedied by increased production, strict governmental economy and a relentless pursuit of those who take advantage of post-war conditions and are demanding and receiving outrageous profits.

We pledge the Democratic Party to a policy of strict economy in government expenditures, and to the enactment and enforcement of such legislation as may be required to bring profiteers before the bar of criminal justice.

The Tariff

We reaffirm the traditional policy of the Democratic Party in favor of a tariff for revenue only and confirm the policy of basing tariff revisions upon the intelligent research of a non-partisan commission, rather than upon the demands of selfish interests, temporarily held in abeyance.


In the interest of economy and good administration, we favor the creation of an effective budget system, that will function in accord with the principles of the Constitution. The reform should reach both the executive and legislative aspects of the question. The supervision and preparation of the budget should be vested in the Secretary of the Treasury as the representative of the President. The budget, as such, should not be increased by the Congress except by a two-thirds vote, each House, however, being free to exercise its constitutional privilege of making appropriations through independent bills. The appropriation bills should be considered by single Committees of the House and Senate. The audit system should be consolidated and its powers expanded so as to pass upon the wisdom of, as well as the authority for, expenditures.

A budget bill was passed in the closing days of the second session of the Sixty-sixth Congress which, invalidated by plain constitutional defects and defaced by considerations of patronage, the President was obliged to veto. The House amended the bill to meet the Executive objection. We condemn the Republican Senate for adjourning without passing the amended measure, when by devoting an hour or two more to this urgent public business a budget system could have been provided.

Agricultural Interests

To the great agricultural interests of the country, the Democratic Party does not find it necessary to make promises. It already is rich in its record of things actually accomplished. For nearly half a century of Republican rule not a sentence was written into the Federal Statutes affording one dollar of bank credits to the farming interests of America. In the first term of this Democratic administration the National Bank Act was so altered as to authorize loans of five years’ maturity on improved farm lands. Later was established a system of farm loan banks, from which the borrowings already exceed three hundred millions of dollars; and under which the interest rate to farmers has been so materially reduced as to drive out of business the farm loan sharks who formerly subsisted by extortion upon the great agricultural interests of the country.

Thus it was a Democratic Congress in the administration of a Democratic President which enabled the farmers of America for the first time to obtain credit upon reasonable terms and insured their opportunity for the future development of the nation’s agricultural resources. Tied up in Supreme Court proceedings, in a suit by hostile interests, the Federal Farm Loan System, originally opposed by the Republican candidate for the Presidency, appealed in vain to a Republican Congress for adequate financial assistance to tide over the interim between the beginning and the

ending of the current year, awaiting a final decision of the highest court on the validity of the contested act. We pledge prompt consistent support of sound and effective measures to sustain, to amplify and to perfect the rural Credits Statutes and thus to check and reduce the growth and course of farm tenancy.

Not only did the Democratic Party put into effect a great Farm Loan system of land mortgage banks, but it passed the Smith-Lever agricultural extension act, carrying to every farmer in every section of the country, through the medium of trained experts and by demonstration farms, the practical knowledge acquired by the Federal Agricultural Department in all things relating to agriculture, horticulture and animal life; it established the Bureau of Markets, the Bureau of Farm Management, and passed the Cotton Futures Act, the Grain Grades Bill, the Co-operative Farm Administration Act, and the Federal Warehouse Act.

The Democratic Party has vastly improved the rural mail system and has built up the parcel post system to such an extent as to render its activities and its practical service indispensable to the farming community. It was this wise encouragement and this effective concern of the Democratic Party for the farmers of the United States that enabled this great interest to render such essential service in feeding the armies of America and the allied nations of the war and succoring starving populations since Armistice Day.

Meanwhile the Republican leaders at Washington have failed utterly to propose one single measure to make rural life more tolerable. They have signalized their fifteen months of Congressional power by urging schemes which would strip the farms of labor; by assailing the principles of the Farm Loan system and seeking to impair its efficiency; by covertly attempting to destroy the great nitrogen plant at Mussel Shoals upon which the government has expended $70,000,000 to supply American farmers with fertilizers at reasonable cost; by ruthlessly crippling nearly every branch of agricultural endeavor, literally starving the productive mediums through which the people must be fed.

We favor such legislation as will confirm to the primary producers of the nation the right of collective bargaining, and the right of co-operative handling and marketing of the products of the workshop and the farm and such legislation as will facilitate the exportation of our farm products.

We favor comprehensive studies of farm production costs and the uncensored publication of facts found in such studies.

Labor and Industry

The Democratic Party is now, as ever, the firm friend of honest labor and the promoter of progressive industry. It established the Department of Labor at Washington and a Democratic President called to his official council board the first practical workingman who ever held a cabinet portfolio. Under this administration have been established employment bureaus to bring the man and the job together; have been peaceably determined many bitter disputes between capital and labor; were passed the Child-Labor Act, the Workingman’s Compensation Act (the extension of which we advocate so as to include laborers engaged in loading and unloading ships and in interstate commerce), the Eight-Hour Law, the act for Vocational Training, and a code of other wholesome laws affecting the liberties and bettering the conditions of the laboring classes. In the Department of Labor the Democratic administration established a Woman’s Bureau, which a Republican Congress destroyed by withholding appropriations.

Labor is not a commodity; it is human. Those who labor have rights, and the national security and safety depend upon a just recognition of those rights and the conservation of the strength of the workers and their families in the interest of sound-hearted and sound-headed men, women and children. Laws regulating hours of labor and conditions under which labor is performed, when passed in recognition of the conditions under which life must be lived to attain the highest development and happiness, are just assertions of the national interest in the welfare of the people.

At the same time, the nation depends upon the products of labor; a cessation of production means loss and, if long continued, means disaster. The whole people, therefore, have a right to insist that justice shall be done to those who work, and in turn that those whose labor creates the necessities upon which the life of the nation depends must recognize the reciprocal obligation between the worker and the state.

They should participate in the formulation of sound laws and regulations governing the conditions under which labor is performed, recognize and obey the laws so formulated, and seek their amendment when necessary by the processes ordinarily addressed to the laws and regulations affecting the other relations of life.

Labor, as well as capital, is entitled to adequate compensation. Each has the indefeasible right of organization, of collective bargaining and of speaking through representatives of their own selection. Neither class, however, should at any time nor in any circumstances take action that will put in jeopardy the public welfare. Resort to strikes and lockouts which endanger the health or lives of the people is an unsatisfactory device for determining disputes, and the Democratic Party pledges itself to contrive, if possible, and put into effective operation a fair and comprehensive method of composing differences of this nature.

In private industrial disputes, we are opposed to compulsory arbitration as a method plausible in theory, but a failure in fact. With respect to government service, we hold distinctly that the rights of the people are paramount to the right to strike. However, we profess scrupulous regard for the conditions of public employment and pledge the Democratic Party to instant inquiry into the pay of government employees and equally speedy regulations designed to bring salaries to a just and proper level.

Woman’s Suffrage

We endorse the proposed 19th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States granting equal suffrage to women. We congratulate the legislatures of thirty-five states which have already ratified said amendment and we urge the Democratic Governors and Legislatures of Tennessee, North Carolina and Florida and such states as have not yet ratified the Federal Suffrage Amendment to unite in an effort to complete the process of ratification and secure the thirty-sixth state in time for all the women of the United States to participate in the fall election.

We commend the effective advocacy of the measure by President Wilson.

Welfare of Women and Children

We urge co-operation with the states for the protection of child life through infancy and maternity care; in the prohibition of child labor and by adequate appropriations for the Children’s Bureau and the Woman’s Bureau in the Department of Labor.


Co-operative Federal assistance to the states is immediately required for the removal of illiteracy, for the increase of teachers’ salaries and instruction in citizenship for both native and foreign-born; increased appropriation for vocational training in home economics; re-establishment of joint Federal and state employment service with women’s departments under the direction of technically qualified women.

Women in Industry

We advocate full representation of women on all commissions dealing with women’s work or women’s interests and a reclassification of the Federal Civil Service free from discrimination on the ground of sex; a continuance of appropriations for education in sex hygiene; Federal legislation which shall insure that American women resident in the United States, but married to aliens, shall retain their American citizenship, and that the same process of naturalization shall be required for women as for men.

Disabled Soldiers

The Federal government should treat with the utmost consideration every disabled soldier, sailor, and marine of the world war, whether his disability be due to wounds received in line of action or to health impaired in service; and for the dependents of the brave men who died in line of duty the government’s tenderest concern and richest bounty should be their requital. The fine patriotism exhibited, the heroic conduct displayed, by American soldiers, sailors and marines at home and abroad, constitute a sacred heritage of posterity, the worth of which can never be recompensed from the Treasury and the glory of which must not be diminished by any such expedients.

The Democratic administration wisely established a War Risk Insurance Bureau, giving four and a half millions of enlisted men insurance at unprecedentedly low rates and through the medium of which compensation of men and women injured in service is readily adjusted, and hospital facilities for those whose health is impaired are abundantly afforded.

The Federal Board for Vocational Education should be made a part of the War Risk Insurance Bureau, in order that the task may be treated as a whole, and this machinery of protection and assistance must receive every aid of law and appropriation necessary to full and effective operation.

We believe that no higher or more valued privilege can be afforded to an American citizen than to become a freeholder in the soil of the United States, and to that end we pledge our party to the enactment of soldier settlements and home aid legislation which will afford to the men who fought for America the opportunity to become land and home owners under conditions affording genuine government assistance unencumbered by needless difficulties of red tape or advance financial investment.

The Railroads

The railroads were subjected to Federal control as a war measure, without other idea than the swift transport of troops, munitions and supplies. When human life and national hopes were at stake profits could not be considered and were not. Federal operation, however, was marked by an intelligence and efficiency that minimized loss and resulted in many and marked reforms. The equipment taken over was not only grossly inadequate but shamefully outworn. Unification practices overcame these initial handicaps and provided additions, betterments and improvements. Economics enabled operation without the rate raises that private control would have found necessary, and labor was treated with an exact justice that secured the enthusiastic co-operation that victory demanded. The fundamental purpose of Federal control was achieved fully and splendidly, and at far less cost to the taxpayer than would have been the case under private operation. Investments in railroad properties were not only saved by government operation, but government management returned these properties vastly improved in every physical and executive detail. A great task was greatly discharged.

The President’s recommendation of return to private ownership gave the Republican majority a full year in which to enact the necessary legislation. The House took six months to formulate its ideas, and another six months was consumed by the Republican Senate in equally vague debate. As a consequence, the Esch-Cummins Bill went to the President in the closing hours of Congress, and he was forced to a choice between the chaos of a veto and acquiescence in the measure submitted, however grave may have been his objections to it.

There should be a fair and complete test of the law until careful and mature action by Congress may cure its defects and insure a thoroughly effective transportation system under private ownership without government subsidy at the expense of the taxpayers of the country.

Improved Highways

Improved roads are of vital importance not only to commerce and industry but also to agriculture and rural life. The Federal Road Act of 1916, enacted by a Democratic Congress, represented the first systematic effort of the government to insure the building of an adequate system of roads in this country. The act, as amended, has resulted in placing the movement for improved highways on a progressive and substantial basis in every State in the Union and in bringing under actual construction more than 13,000 miles of roads suited to the traffic needs of the communities in which they are located.

We favor a continuance of the present Federal aid plan under existing Federal and State agencies, amended so as to include as one of the elements in determining the ratio in which the several states shall be entitled to share in the fund, the area of any public lands therein.

Inasmuch as the postal service has been extended by the Democratic Party to the door of practically every producer and every consumer in the country (rural free delivery alone having been provided for 6,000,000 additional patrons within the past eight years without materially added cost), we declare that this instrumentality can and will be used to the maximum of its capacity to improve the efficiency of distribution and reduce the cost of living to consumers while increasing the profitable operations of producers.

We strongly favor the increased use of the motor vehicle in the transportation of the mails and urge the removal of the restrictions imposed by the Republican Congress on the use of motor devices in mail transportation in rural territories.

The Postal Service

The efficiency of the Post Office Department has been vindicated against a malicious and designing assault, by the efficiency of its operation. Its record refutes its assailants. Their voices are silenced and their charges have collapsed.

We recommend the work of the Joint Commission on the reclassification of salaries of postal employes, recently concluded, which commission was created by a Democratic administration. The Democratic Party has always favored and will continue to favor the fair and just treatment of all government employes.

Free Speech and Press

We resent the unfounded reproaches directed against the Democratic administration for alleged interference with the freedom of the press and freedom of speech.

No utterance from any quarter has been assailed, and no publication has been repressed, which has not been animated by treasonable purposes, and directed against the nation’s peace, order and security in time of war.

We reaffirm our respect for the great principles of free speech and a free press, but assert as an indisputable proposition that they afford no toleration of enemy propaganda or the advocacy of the overthrow of the government of the state or nation by force or violence.

Inland Waterways

We call attention to the failure of the Republican National Convention to recognize in any way the rapid development of barge transportation on our inland waterways, which development is the result of the constructive policies of the Democratic administration. And we pledge ourselves to the further development of adequate transportation facilities on our rivers and to the further improvement of our inland waterways, and we recognize the importance of connecting the Great Lakes with the sea by way of the Mississippi River and its tributaries, as well as by the St. Lawrence River. We favor an enterprising Foreign Trade policy with all nations, and in this connection we favor the full utilization of all Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf ports, and an equitable distribution of shipping facilities between the various ports.

Transportation remains an increasingly vital problem in the continued development and prosperity of the nation.

Our present facilities for distribution by rail are inadequate and the promotion of transportation by water is imperative.

We therefore favor a liberal and comprehensive policy for the development and utilization of our harbors and interior waterways.

Merchant Marine

We desire to congratulate the American people upon the rebirth of our Merchant Marine which once more maintains its former place in the world. It was under a Democratic administration that this was accomplished after seventy years of indifference and neglect, thirteen million tons having been constructed since the act was passed in 1916. We pledge the policy of our party to the continued growth of our Merchant Marine under proper legislation so that American products will be carried to all ports of the world by vessels built in American yards, flying the American flag.

Reclamation of Arid Lands

By wise legislation and progressive administration, we have transformed the government reclamation projects, representing an investment of $100,000,000, from a condition of impending failure and loss of confidence in the ability of the government to carry through such large enterprises, to a condition of demonstrated success, whereby formerly arid and wholly unproductive lands now sustain 40,000 prosperous families and have an annual crop production of over $70,000,000, not including the crops grown on a million acres outside the projects supplied with storage water from government works.

We favor ample appropriations for the continuation and extension of this great work of home-building and internal improvement along the same general lines, to the end that all practical projects shall be built, and waters now running to waste shall be made to provide homes and add to the food supply, power resources, and taxable property, with the government ultimately reimbursed for the entire outlay.

Flood Control

We commend the Democratic Congress for the redemption of the pledge contained in our last platform by the passage of the Flood Control Act of March 1st, 1917, and point to the successful control of the floods of the Mississippi River and the Sacramento River, California, under the policy of that law, for its complete justification. We favor the extension of this policy to other flood control problems wherever the Federal interest involved justified the expenditure required.

The Trade Commission

The Democratic Party heartily endorses the creation and work of the Federal Trade Commission in establishing a fair field for competitive business, free from restraints of trade and monopoly and recommends amplification of the statutes governing its activities so as to grant it authority to prevent the unfair use of patents in restraint of trade.

Live Stock Markets

For the purpose of insuring just and fair treatment in the great interstate live stock market, and thus instilling confidence in growers through which production will be stimulated and the price of meats to consumers be ultimately reduced, we favor the enactment of legislation for the supervision of such markets by the national government.

Port Facilities

The urgent demands of the war for adequate transportation of war material as well as for domestic need, revealed the fact that our port facilities and rate adjustments were such as to seriously affect the whole country in times of peace as well as war.

We pledge our party to stand for equality of rates, both import and export, for the ports of the country, to the end that there may be adequate and fair facilities and rates for the mobilization of the products of the country offered for shipment.


The Democratic Party recognizes the importance of the acquisition by Americans of additional sources of supply of petroleum and other minerals and declares that such acquisition both at home and abroad should be fostered and encouraged. We urge such action, legislative and executive, as may secure to American citizens the same rights in the acquirement of mining rights in foreign countries as are enjoyed by the citizens or subjects of any other nation.


The United States is the neighbor and friend of the nations of the three Americas. In a very special sense, our international relations in this hemisphere should be characterized by good will and free from any possible suspicion as to our national purpose.

The administration, remembering always that Mexico is an independent nation and that permanent stability in her government and her institutions could come only from the consent of her own people to a government of their own making, has been unwilling either to profit by the misfortunes of the people of Mexico or to enfeeble their future by imposing from the outside a rule upon their temporarily distracted councils. (a) As a consequence, order is gradually reappearing in Mexico; at no time in many years have American lives and interests been so safe as they are now; peace reigns along the border and industry is resuming.

When the new government of Mexico shall have given ample proof of its ability permanently to maintain law and order, signified its willingness to meet its international obligations and written upon its statute books just laws under which foreign investors shall have rights as well as duties, that government should receive our recognition and sympathetic assistance. Until these proper expectations have been met, Mexico must realize the propriety of a policy that asserts the right of the United States to demand full protection for its citizens.


The great principle of national self-determination has received constant reiteration as one of the chief objectives for which this country entered the war and victory established this principle.

Within the limitations of international comity and usage, this Convention repeats the several previous expressions of the sympathy of the Democratic Party of the United States for the aspirations of Ireland for self-government.


We express our deep and earnest sympathy for the unfortunate people of Armenia, and we believe that our government, consistent with its Constitution and principles, should render every possible and proper aid to them in their efforts to establish and maintain a government of their own.

Porto Rico

We favor granting to the people of Porto Rico the traditional territorial form of government, with a view to ultimate statehood, accorded to all territories of the United States since the beginning of our government, and we believe that the officials appointed to administer the government of such territories should be qualified by previous bona-fide residence therein.


We commend the Democratic administration for inaugurating a new policy as to Alaska, as evidenced by the construction of the Alaska railroad and opening of the coal and oil fields.

We declare for the modification of the existing coal land law, to promote development without disturbing the features intended to prevent monopoly.

For such changes in the policy of forestry control as will permit the immediate initiation of the paper pulp industry.

For relieving the territory from the evils of long-distance government by arbitrary and interlocking bureaucratic regulation, and to that end we urge the speedy passage of a law containing the essential features of the Land-Curry Bill now pending, co-ordinating and consolidating all Federal control of natural resources under one department to be administered by a non-partisan board permanently resident in the territory.

For the fullest measure of territorial self-government with the view of ultimate statehood, with jurisdiction over all matters not of purely Federal concern, including fisheries and game, and for an intelligent administration of Federal control we believe that all officials appointed should be qualified by previous bona-fide residence in the territory.

For a comprehensive system of road construction with increased appropriations and the full extension of the Federal Road Aid Act to Alaska.

For the extension to Alaska of the Federal Farm Loan Act.

The Philippines

We favor the granting of independence without unnecessary delay to the 10,500,000 inhabitants of the Philippine Islands.


We favor a liberal policy of homesteading public lands in Hawaii to promote a larger middle-class citizen population, with equal rights to all citizens.

The importance of Hawaii as an outpost on the western frontier of the United States, demands adequate appropriations by Congress for the development of our harbors and highways there.

New Nations

The Democratic Party expresses its active sympathy with the people of China, Czecho-Slovakia, Finland, Poland, Persia, Jugo-Slavia and others who have recently established representative governments and who are striving to develop the institutions of true Democracy.

Asiatic Immigrants

The policy of the United States with reference to the non-admission of Asiatic immigrants is a true expression of the judgment of our people, and to the several states, whose geographical situation or internal conditions make this policy, and the enforcement of the laws enacted pursuant thereto, of particular concern, we pledge our support.

Republican Corruption

The shocking disclosure of the lavish use of money by aspirants for the Republican nomination for the highest office in the gift of the people, has created a painful impression throughout the country. Viewed in connection with the recent conviction of a Republican Senator from the State of Michigan for the criminal transgression of the law limiting expenditures on behalf of a candidate for the United States Senate, it indicates the reentry, under Republican auspices, of money as an influential factor in elections, thus nullifying the letter and flaunting the spirit of numerous laws, enacted by the people, to protect the ballot from the contamination of corrupt practices. We deplore these delinquencies and invoke their stern popular rebuke, pledging our earnest efforts to a strengthening of the present statutes against corrupt practices, and their rigorous enforcement.

We remind the people that it was only by the return of a Republican Senator in Michigan, who is now under conviction and sentence for the criminal misuse of money in his election, that the present organization of the Senate with a Republican majority was made possible.


Believing that we have kept the Democratic faith, and resting our claims to the confidence of the people not upon grandiose promises, but upon the solid performances of our party, we submit our record to the nation’s consideration and ask that the pledges of this platform be appraised in the light of that record.

Published in: on June 28, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Democratic Platform 1920  
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Yankee Doodle

Something for the weekend.  Yankee Doodle.  Originally sung by British officers to disparage American troops who fought beside them in the French and Indian War, it was seized upon by Patriots, given endless lyrics, and cheered the patriot troops and civilians during the eight long years of the Revolution.  After Lexington and Concord it was reported by Massachusetts newspapers that the British were suddenly not as fond of the song:

“Upon their return to Boston [pursued by the Minutemen], one [Briton] asked his brother officer how he liked the tune now, — ‘Dang them,’ returned he, ‘they made us dance it till we were tired’ — since which Yankee Doodle sounds less sweet to their ears.”

James Cagney did an immortal riff on Yankee Doodle in the musical biopic of composer and actor George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942):

Yankee Doodle plays in the background as Cagney at the end of the film, entirely impromptu, dances down the White House staircase:


Published in: on June 27, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Yankee Doodle  
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Herbert Hoover and the 1920 Election



Although associated with the Wilson administration due to his relief efforts in Europe and as head of the United States Food Administration during the War, Herbert Hoover had studiously avoided declaring himself a Republican or a Democrat.  He was hopeful that one of the two major parties might draft him as their presidential nominee in 1920.  On March 6, 1920 Franklin Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor met with Hoover in an attempt to convince him to run as a Democrat with Franklin Roosevelt as the Vice-Presidential nominee.  The Hoover-Roosevelt ticket of 1920 would make an excellent alternate history novel!  Hoover considered it, but by the end of March declared himself a Republican.  He and Franklin Roosevelt remained on friendly terms until they faced off against each other in the election of 1932.

The good fairies gave Hoover many gifts at his birth, but ability as a politician was not one of them.  His campaign for the Republican nomination for President came to nothing, with political professionals deriding it as an amateurish effort.  Accepting defeat with his usual unflappable grace, Hoover supported Harding after he was nominated by the GOP.

Published in: on June 26, 2020 at 3:53 am  Comments Off on Herbert Hoover and the 1920 Election  
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A. Mitchell Palmer


A century ago Americans were relieved that the year 1920 was thus far not as violent as 1919 had been.  That had been a year of major race riots in thirty cities, numerous strikes filled with violence, anarchist bombings and a growing fear of Communism driven by Bolshevik calls for world revolution and the mass atrocities committed by the new Bolshevik successor state of Tsarist Russia.  President Wilson’s Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer was at the eye of the hurricane in 1919, and he hoped to ride his notoriety to the White House.

Born in 1872, he was elected to Congress in 1908 as a progressive Democrat.  In 1914 President Wilson persuaded him to give up his House seat and make an ultimately unsuccessful run for the Senate in Pennsylvania.  In 1917 Wilson appointed him Alien Property Custodian to supervise the disposition of assets of enemy powers seized by the US after American entry into World War I.  When a vacancy occurred as Attorney General, Palmer lobbied strongly for the job, and was appointed by Wilson as a recess appointment on March 5, 1919.  Traditionally the Attorney General post was not a cabinet position to make headlines.  This changed abruptly in June of 1919.

On  the evening of June 2, 1919 followers of Italian anarchist Luigi Galleani, who advocated the violent overthrow of capitalist society, set off bombs simultaneously in eight American cities.  The bombs consisted of sticks of dynamite surrounded by lead slugs to act as shrapnel.  The bombs did a lot of property damage but remarkably only two people were killed:  Carlo Valdinochi, the former editor of an anarchist paper who blew himself up as he attempted to blow up the house of Attorney General Palmer in Washington DC, and New York City night watchman William Boehner.

Targets consisted of the homes of politicians and judges, with the odd exception of Our Lady of Victory Church in Philadelphia.

Each of the bombs was accompanied by notes which carried a declaration of war:

War, Class war, and you were the first to wage it under the cover of the powerful institutions you call order, in the darkness of your laws. There will have to be bloodshed; we will not dodge; there will have to be murder: we will kill, because it is necessary; there will have to be destruction; we will destroy to rid the world of your tyrannical institutions

Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer responded with the Palmer Raids, an extensive nationwide manhunt with 10,000 arrested and 3500 detained.  Among those detained, 556 aliens were deported.  All the sturm und drang was for naught as the people behind the bombings were never uncovered. Civil libertarians long have decried the Palmer Raids, but the incident fixed in the minds of most Americans a strong antipathy for the use of violence to bring about a domestic revolution.  The anarchists succeeded only in blowing up their own cause with their bombs.

Among other actions during this time, Palmer formed what he called the General Intelligence Unit, and placed a 24 year old J. Edgar Hoover in charge of it.  This was the precursor of the FBI.

In Congress Palmer had a fairly pro-labor voting record, and he attempted to distance himself from the labor turmoil of 1919 and largely succeeded in doing so until a nationwide coal miner strike threatened to make the coming winter a very cold one for the US.  Palmer obtained an injunction against the strike on October 31, 1919.  His stance was widely popular with the public and Palmer noted that the action of the government was not against the general right to strike:

Nothing that the Government has done is intended or designed to have any effect upon the recognized right of labor to organize, to bargain collectively through its unions, or, under ordinary industrial conditions, to walk out by concerted action….The Government faced the alternative of submitting to the demands of a single group, to the irreparable injury of the whole people, or of challenging the assertion by that group of power greater than that of the Government itself.

A final agreement to resolve the strike was entered into on December 10, 1919 and Palmer received positive treatment in the press, although he made mortal enemies among many in the labor movement.

Based upon intelligence from Hoover, Palmer warned about a planned nation-wide insurrection by Leftists on May 1, 1920.  When the day came and went without incident, Palmer received much mockery from the press.

Still, Palmer hoped to take the Democratic nomination for President at the Democratic Convention scheduled to open on June 28, 1920.  He hoped that his platform of Americanism would draw sufficient support to win in a nation sick of division and strife.




Published in: on June 25, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on A. Mitchell Palmer  
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William Gibbs McAdoo


All but forgotten today, William Gibbs McAdoo was a power to be reckoned with in the Democratic party in 1920.  A son in law of President Wilson, he was a son of Tennessee who made a large fortune in New York City as President of the Hudson and Manhattan  Railroad Company.  Wilson chose him to be Secretary of the Treasury, a post he held from 1913-1918.  He married Wilson. daughter Eleanor in 1914.  As Secretary of the Treasury he kept the nation on the gold standard.  His boldest move as Secretary of the Treasury was to close the stock market for four months at the beginning of World War I in 1914 to prevent European investors from panic selling of American securities.  During 1918 he served as Director General of the Railroads.  Always intensely ambitious, McAdoo set his sights on the Democrat nomination for President in 1920, his ties to Wilson both helping and hurting him, more than a few Democrats weary after the foreign turmoil which had prevailed during the Wilson years, and concerned that the nation wanted a change.  As the Convention neared on June 28, 1920 in San Francisco, McAdoo was widely regarded as the front runner.

Published in: on June 24, 2020 at 5:14 am  Comments Off on William Gibbs McAdoo  
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June 23, 1780: Give ’em Watts Boys!

June 7, 1780 was a day of deep tragedy for the Reverend James Caldwell, a Presbyterian Minister.  Known as the soldier parson because of his ardent support of the Patriot cause, he was with the Continental Army in Morristown as a chaplain.  Tragically, war came to his home and his wife Hannah Caldwell was killed by a British soldier during the Battle of Connecticut Farms when he fired into her house.   Caldwell quickly found an opportunity for revenge when he partipated in the defense of Springfield, New Jersey, the last major battle of the American Revolution in the North, on June 23, 1780.  A mixed band of Continentals and militia were stubbornly defending the town from 2500 British and Hessian regulars, when they began to run low on musket wadding.  Caldwell did not hesistate.  Running into the Springfield Presbyterian Church he gathered up hymnals and passed them out to the troops to tear out the pages for wadding, all the time yelling “Give ’em Watts Boys!  Give ’em Watts!”  Hailed as a hero of the battle, an American victory, Caldwell did not survive the war.  He is buried beside his beloved Hannah in the church yard cemetery of the First Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the church he served as pastor for 30 years.  Their nine orphaned children were raised by friends and family in a free America.

Published in: on June 23, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on June 23, 1780: Give ’em Watts Boys!  
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Unsung Heroes: Good Dads


In these days of coronavirus, the word “hero” has been used non-stop to describe doctors and nurses working on the “front lines”. We’re even calling our teachers heroes. I guess I don’t mind all that much. I understand the sentiment. I suppose it’s quite easy to look at a picture of a tired doctor at the end of a long day in ICU and call him a hero for sticking out the job he gets paid to do. We can look at his fatigue, his crumpled scrubs, the lines on his face from his mask and we can see the sacrifice right there on his face. We can measure his impact because what he does has immediate outcomes in real-time.

It is far more difficult for some starry-eyed, millennial opinion writer with a brand new thesaurus and a gig at The New York Times to look at a father schlepping back and forth to his office job every day and see a hero. That writer probably sees a bored man, or a defeated man, or an uninteresting man who doesn’t have an immediate impact on those around him….certainly not the way a doctor does. His heroism is invisible, because you can’t make a commercial out of it. His service, his bravery is spread out over an entire lifetime, not just one crisis.

Kira Davis

Published in: on June 21, 2020 at 4:00 am  Comments Off on Unsung Heroes: Good Dads  

June 19, 1864: Sinking of the Alabama

The greatest of the Confederate commerce raiders that wreaked havoc on the Union merchant fleet, the CSS Alabama in her two year career took 65 prizes.  That career came to a screeching halt when she was sunk by the USS Kearsarge in a dramatic battle off the coast of Cherbourg on June 19, 1864.  Here is the account of Captain John Winslow, Captain of the Kearsarge, of the engagement: (more…)

Published in: on June 19, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on June 19, 1864: Sinking of the Alabama  
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