Warren G. Harding and the Race Allegation



Americans have a pleasing illusion that politics was at one time a pristine pursuit in the land of the free and the home of the brave, and that it is only in their time that politics has  descended into the gutter.  Cold historical evidence indicates otherwise.

A century ago Democrats were engaged in rumors that the Republican standard bearer for President, Harding, had negro blood in his ancestry.  The rumor was not a new one and had dogged Harding throughout his political career.  The abolitionist leanings of his family had led to allegations that the family was of mixed race.  His own father in law thought that Harding was a black man, using an insulting term for the race, albeit a smart one.  Harding never denied the rumors, merely stating that he did not know.  As he told a reporter on one occasion, how could he know if one of his ancestors had jumped the fence.

Prior to the election William Estabrook Chancellor, a professor At Wooster College, collected affidavits of elderly individuals in Ohio  that Harding was mixed race, his great grandmother Elizabeth Madison was black.  Prior to the election pamphlets came out indicating that based upon this research Harding was of negro ancestry.  Chancellor denied writing the pamphlets, but was dismissed from his professorship four days before the election and fled to Canada due to death threats that came his way.

During his brief Presidency Harding gave the greatest civil rights speech to be made by a President between the Grant administration and the Kennedy administration  on October 26, 1921.  That he gave it in Birmingham, Alabama, at the height of Jim Crow and at a time when the Ku Klux Klan was a rising power, attests to his courage and willingness to take political risks in an area where he was vulnerable.

In 2015 DNA samples from relatives of Harding demonstrated that the persistent rumors had been false after all.


The text of Harding’s speech on October 26, 1921 that dealt with race:

[13] Indeed, we will be wise to recognize it as wider yet. Whoever will take the time to read and ponder Mr. Lothrop Stoddard’s book on The Rising Tide of Color, or, say, the thoughtful review of some recent literature of this question which Mr. F. D. Lugard presented in a recent Edinburg Review, must realize that our race problem here in the United States is only a phase of a race issue that the whole world confronts. Surely we shall gain nothing by blinking the fact, by refusing to give thought to them. That is not the American way of approaching such issues.

[14] In another way the World War modified the elements of this problem. Thousands of black men, serving their country just as patriotically as did the white men, were transported overseas and experienced the life of countries where their color aroused less of antagonism than it does here. Many of them aspire to go to Europe to live.

[15] A high-grade colored soldier told me that the war brought his race the first real conception of citizenship—the first full realization that the flag was their flag, to fight for, to be protected by them, and also to protect them. He was sure that the opportunity to learn what patriotism meant was a real opportunity to his race.

[16] These things lead one to hope that we shall find an adjustment of relations between the two races, in which both can enjoy full citizenship, the full measure of usefulness to the country and of opportunity for themselves, and in which recognition and reward shall at last be distributed in proportion to individual deserts, regardless of race or color. Mr. Lugard, in his recent essay, after surveying the world’s problem of races, concludes thus:

[17] “Here then is the true conception of the interrelation of color—complete uniformity in ideals, absolute equality in the paths of knowledge and culture, equal opportunity for those who strive, equal admiration for those who achieve; in matters social and racial a separate path, each pursuing his own inherited traditions, preserving his own race purity and race pride; equality in things spiritual; agreed divergence in the physical and material.”

[18] Here, it has seemed to me, is suggestion of the true way out. Politically and economically there need be no occasion for great and permanent differentiation, for limitations of the individual’s opportunity, provided that on both sides there shall be recognition of the absolute divergence in things social and racial. When I suggest the possibility of economic equality between the races, I mean it in precisely the same way and to the same extent that I would mean it if I spoke of equality of economic opportunity as between members of the same race. In each case I would mean equality proportioned to the honest capacities and deserts of the individual.

[19] Men of both races may well stand uncompromisingly against every suggestion of social equality. Indeed, it would be helpful to have that word “equality” eliminated from this consideration; to have it accepted on both sides that this is not a question of social equality, but a question of recognizing a fundamental, eternal, and inescapable difference. We shall have made real progress when we develop an attitude in the public and community thought of both races which recognizes this difference.

[20] Colonizing countries everywhere have in recent times been more and more dealing with the problem from this point of view. The British commonwealth of nations and races confronts it, and has been seeking its solution along the lines here suggested. There is possibility of our learning something applicable to our own country from the British. It is true that there is a great difference between bringing into our own land the colonists of another race and going out to another land and subjecting it and its people to the rule of an alien race. Yet the two cases have so many elements of similarity that it seems to me the experience of each must furnish some light upon the other.

[21] Take first the political aspect. I would say let the black man vote when he is fit to vote: prohibit the white man voting when he unfit to vote. Especially would I appeal to the self-respect of the colored race. I would inculcate in it the wish to improve itself: distinct race, with a heredity, a set of traditions, an array of aspirations all its own. Out of such racial ambition and pride will come natural segregations, without narrowing any rights, such as are proceeding in both rural and urban communities now in Southern States, satisfying natural inclinations and adding notably to happiness and contentment.

[22] On the other hand I would insist upon equal educational opportunity for both. This does not mean that both would become equally educated within a generation or two generations or ten generations. Even men of the same race do not accomplish such an equality as that. They never will. The Providence that endowed men with widely unequal capacities and capabilities and energies did not intend any such thing.

[23] But there must be such education among the colored people as will enable them to develop their own leaders, capable of understanding and sympathizing with such a differentiation between the races as I have suggested—leaders who will inspire the race with proper ideals of race pride, of national pride, of an honorable destiny, an important participation in the universal effort for advancement of humanity as a whole. Racial amalgamation there can not be. Partnership of the races in developing the highest aims of all humanity there must be if humanity, not only here but everywhere, is to achieve the ends which we have set for it.

[24] I can say to you people of the South, both white and black, that the time has passed when you are entitled to assume that this problem of races is peculiarly and particularly your problem. More and more it is becoming a problem of the North: more and more it is the problem of Africa, of South America, of the Pacific, of the South Seas, of the world. It is the problem of democracy everywhere, if we mean the thing we say about democracy as the ideal political state.

[25] Coming as Americans do from many origins of race, tradition, language, color, institutions, heredity; engaged as we are in the huge effort to work an honorable national destiny from so many different elements; the one thing we must sedulously avoid is the development of group and class organizations in this country. There has been time when we heard too much about the labor vote, the business vote, the Irish vote, the Scandinavian vote, the Italian vote, and so on. But the demagogues who would array class against class and group against group have fortunately found little to reward their efforts. That is because, despite the demagogues, the idea of our oneness as Americans has risen superior to every appeal to mere class and group. And so I would wish it might be in this matter of our national problem of races. I would accent that a black man can not be a white man, and that he does not need and should not aspire to be as much like a white man as possible in order to accomplish the best that is possible for him. He should seek to be, and he should be encouraged to be, the best possible black man, and not the best possible imitation of a white man.

[26] It is a matter of the keenest national concern that the South shall not be encouraged to make its colored population a vast reservoir of ignorance, to be drained away by the processes of migration into all other sections. That is what has been going on in recent years at a rate so accentuated that it has caused this question of races to be, as I have already said, no longer one of a particular section. Just as I do not wish the South to be politically entirely of one party; just as I believe that is bad for the South, and for the rest of the country as well, so I do not want the colored people to be entirely of one party. I wish that both the tradition of a solidly Democratic South and the tradition of a solidly Republican black race might be broken up. Neither political sectionalism nor any system of rigid groupings of the people will in the long run prosper our country. I want to see the time come when black men will regard themselves as full participants in the benefits and duties of American citizenship; when they will vote for Democratic candidates, if they prefer the Democratic policy on tariff or taxation, or foreign relations, or what-not; and when they will vote the Republican ticket only for like reasons. We can not go on, as we have gone for more than a half century, with one great section of our population, numbering as many people as the entire population of some significant countries of Europe, set off from real contribution to solving our national issues, because of a division on race lines.

[27] With such convictions one must urge the people of the South to take advantage of their superior understanding of this problem and to assume an attitude toward it that will deserve the confidence of the colored people. Likewise, I plead with my own political party to lay aside every program that looks to lining up the black man as a mere political adjunct. Let there be an end of prejudice and of demagogy in this line. Let the South understand the menace which lies in forcing upon the black race an attitude of political solidarity. The greater hope, the dissipation of hatred, the discouragement of dangerous passions lie in persuading the black people to forget old prejudices and to have them believe that, under the rule of whatever political party, they would be treated just as other people are treated, guaranteed all the rights that people of other colors enjoy, and made, in short, to regard themselves as citizens of a country and not of a particular race.

[28] Every consideration, it seems to me, brings us back at last to the question of education. When I speak of education as a part of this race question. I do not want the States or the Nation to attempt to educate people, whether white or black, into something they are not fitted to be. I have no sympathy with the half-baked altruism that would overstock us with doctors and lawyers, of whatever color, and leave us in need of people fit and willing to do the manual work of a workaday world. But I would like to see an education that would fit every man not only to do his particular work as well as possible but to rise to a higher plane if he would deserve it. For that sort of education I have no fears, whether it be given to a black man or a white man. From that sort of education. I believe, black men, white men, the whole Nation, would draw immeasurable benefit.

[29] It is probable that as a nation we have come to the end of the period of very rapid increase in our population. Recent legislation to restrict immigration will be in part responsible for a slacking ratio of increase. The new immigrants have multiplied in numbers much the more rapidly, but as the immigrants become Americanized, amalgamated into the citizenry, the tendency has been toward less rapid multiplication. So restricted immigration will reduce the rate of increase, and force us back upon our older population to find people to do the simpler, physically harder, manual tasks. This will require some difficult readjustments. It has been easy, indeed, but it has not been good for the people of our older stock, that a constant inflow in immigration made it possible to crowd off these less attractive and profitable tasks upon the newcomers. I don’t think it has been good for what the old Latins called the national virtue. That is a word 1 have always liked, employed in the Roman sense. I wish we might have adopted it into our vocabulary, in this sense. It strikes me as a good deal better than morale. Anyhow, we are under necessity to raise honest, hard, manual work to a new dignity if we are to get it done. We will have to make its compensations more generous, materially, and, if I may say it, spiritually; to make usefulness of service, rather than spotlessness of hands, the test of whatever social recognition depends on the individual’s occupation. I confess a large disgust with all such classifications, and I earnestly bespeak an attitude toward good, honorable, hard work that will end them. I do not want to coddle and patronize labor; I want us all to get out, put on blue denims, roll up our sleeves, let our hands be honorably soiled, and do the work. That’s what we’ve got to do, if we are to get on. We must do it, and be glad we can; for there is small chance that we will ever again have such armies of laborers landing on these shores, as have come in the past.

[30] In anticipation of such a condition the South may well recognize that North and West are likely to continue their drafts upon its colored population, and that if the South wishes to keep its fields producing and its industry still expanding it will have to compete for the services of the colored man. If it will realize its need for him and deal quite fairly with him, the South will be able to keep him in such numbers as your activities make desirable. At any rate, here is a problem and it is pressing for settlement.

[31] Is it not possible, then, that in the long era of readjustment upon which we are entering for the Nation to lay aside old prejudices and old antagonisms and in the broad, clear light of nationalism enter upon a constructive policy in dealing with these intricate issues? Just as we shall prove ourselves capable of doing this we shall insure the industrial progress, the agricultural security, the social and political safety of our whole country regardless of race or sections and along the line of ideals superior to every consideration of groups or class, of race or color or section or prejudice.

[32] Here are the reflexes of magical industrial development, here are the fruits in the making of a nation and its commitment to free productivity and trade. There is a materialism which sometimes seems sordid, but on the material foundation we have expanded in soul, and we have seen this Republic the example to freedom aspiring throughout the world. We wish to cling to all that is good. We want to preserve the inheritance over which we fought because our conflict made it more precious. But we wish to go on as well as preserve.

[33] The march of a great people is not a blind one. We can not be unmindful of human advancement. We wish to be more than apace with progress—we wish our America leading and choosing safe paths. Fifty years is a narrow span. Yet the marvel of Birmingham is less than the marvel of our astounding America. And we mean to go on. If we are just and honest in administering justice, if we are alive to perils and meet them in conscience and courage, the achievement of your first half century will be magnified tenfold in the second half, and the glory of your city and your country will be reflected in the happiness of a great people, greater than we dream, and grander for understanding and the courage to be right.

A century later one might wonder what the fuss was about.  In its day it was revolutionary and might be called the morning star of the modern civil rights movement.





Published in: on July 27, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Warren G. Harding and the Race Allegation  
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Cox Nominated


One could forgive a participant in the Democratic National Convention a century ago of wondering if the party were ever going to nominate a candidate.  On the first ballot the 24 men received votes.  William Gibbs McAdoo was in first place with 266 votes.  A. Mitchell Palmer came in second with 256 votes. James Cox came in third with 134 votes.

McAdoo probably would have got the nomination but for the fact that his father-in-law, President Wilson, still incapacitated from his strokes, and broadly unpopular around the nation, hoped that a deadlocked convention would turn to him and nominate him for an unprecedented third term.  Wilson therefore mustered his waning political influence to cause a stalemate at the Convention.,  On the 39th ballot Palmer’s support collapsed and on the 44th ballot Cox took the nomination with 699.50 votes.

Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt got nominated largely because of his last name, a testament to the impact his wife’s late uncle Theodore Roosevelt had made upon the nation, Democrats hoping to capture some of the supporters of Theodore Roosevelt’s Bull Moose run for the Presidency in 1912.  Roosevelt would prove himself to be a vigorous campaigner during the contest in the Fall.

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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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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James M. Cox


In 1920 Warren G. Harding was not the only Ohio newsman turned politician who had an interest in running for President.  Born in 1870 James Cox had started in the newspaper business at The Middletown Signal in 1886 in Middletown, Ohio. In 1894 he became an assistant to Middletown businessman and Congressman Paul J. Song, and spent three years in Washington with him.  song helped Cox acquire The Dayton Evening News, which Cox renamed The Dayton Daily News, the cornerstone of a huge newspaper empire that Cox would go on to build.  In 1909 Cox, running as a progressive Democrat was elected to Congress.  In 1912 he was elected Governor of  Ohio.  Defeated for re-election in 1914, he won it back in 1916 and won re-election in 1918.  He gained a well-deserved reputation as a progressive reformer.  He was a reluctant supporter of the League of Nations.

Unusual for a politician of his time, Cox had divorced and remarried.  With each of his two wives he had three children.  When he began eyeing the Presidency he realized that if he was nominated by the Democrats in 1920 he would be the first divorced man to run for President on a major party ticket.

Published in: on June 16, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on James M. Cox  
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Republican Party Platform 1920


A century ago the Republicans were holding their national convention in 1920 in Chicago.  They scented victory after the Democrats had held the White House for eight years.  The platform adopted at the convention makes for interesting reading, especially in its attacks on the Wilson administration, alleging both mismanagement of American participation in World War I, and mismanagement of the peace after the War.  The Republicans correctly read the mood of the public as being ready for a focus on domestic issues, rather than the foreign policy issues that had dominated most of Wilson’s tenure in the White House.  Here is the text of the platform:


The Republican party, assembled in representative national convention, reaffirms its unyielding devotion to the Constitution of the United States, and to the guaranties of civil, political and religious liberty therein contained. It will resist all attempts to overthrow the foundations of the government or to weaken the force of its controlling principles and ideals, whether these attempts be made in the form of international policy or domestic agitation.

For seven years the national government has been controlled by the Democratic party. During that period a war of unparalleled magnitude has shaken the foundations of civilization, decimated the population of Europe, and left in its train economic misery and suffering second only to the war itself.

The outstanding features of the Democratic administration have been complete unpreparedness for war and complete unpreparedness for peace.


Unpreparedness for War

Inexcusable failure to make timely preparations is the chief indictment against the Democratic administration in the conduct of the war. Had not our associates protected us, both on land and sea, during the first twelve months of our participation and furnished us to the very day of the armistice with munitions, planes, and artillery, this failure would have been punished with disaster. It directly resulted in unnecessary losses to our gallant troops, in the imperilment of victory itself, and in an enormous waste of public funds, literally poured into the breach created by gross neglect. To-day it is reflected in our huge tax burdens and in the high cost of living.


Unpreparedness for Peace

Peace found the administration as unprepared for peace as war found it unprepared for war. The vital need of the country demanded the early and systematic return of a peace time basis.

This called for vision, leadership, and intelligent planning. All three have been lacking. While the country has been left to shift for itself, the government has continued on a wartime basis. The administration has not demobilized the army of place holders. It continued a method of financing which was indefensible during the period of reconstruction. It has used legislation passed to meet the emergency of war to continue its arbitrary and inquisitorial control over the life of the people in the time of peace, and to carry confusion into industrial life. Under the despot’s plea of necessity or superior wisdom, executive usurpation of legislative and judicial function still undermines our institutions. Eighteen months after the armistice, with its wartime powers unabridged, its wartime departments undischarged, its wartime army of place holders still mobilized, the administration still continues to flounder helplessly.

The demonstrated incapacity of the Democratic party has destroyed public confidence, weakened the authority of the government, and produced a feeling of distrust and hesitation so universal as to increase enormously the difficulty of readjustment and to delay the return to normal conditions.

Never has our nation been confronted with graver problems. The people are entitled to know in definite terms how the parties purpose solving these problems. To that end, the Republican party declares its policy and program to be as follows:


Constitutional Government

We undertake to end executive autocracy and restore to the people their constitutional government.

The policies herein declared will be carried out by the Federal and State governments, each acting within its constitutional powers.


Foreign Relations

The foreign policy of the Administration has been founded upon no principle and directed by no definite conception of our nation’s rights and obligations. It has been humiliating to America and irritating to other nations, with the result that after a period of unexampled sacrifice, our motives are suspected, our moral influence impaired, and our Government stands discredited and friendless among the nations of the world.

We favor a liberal and generous foreign policy founded upon definite moral and political principle, characterized by a clear understanding of and a firm adherence to our own rights, and unfailing respect for the rights of others. We should afford full and adequate protection to the life, liberty, property and all international rights of every American citizen, and should require a proper respect for the American flag; but we should be equally careful to manifest a just regard for the rights of other nations. A scrupulous observance of our international engagements when lawfully assumed is essential to our own honor and self-respect, and the respect of other nations. Subject to a due regard for our international obligations, we should leave our country free to develop its civilization along lines most conducive to the happiness and welfare of its people, and to cast its influence on the side of justice and right should occasion require.

(a) Mexico

The ineffective policy of the present Administration in Mexican matters has been largely responsible for the continued loss of American lives in that country and upon our border; for the enormous loss of American and foreign property; for the lowering of American standards of morality and social relations with Mexicans, and for the bringing of American ideals of justice, national honor and political integrity into contempt and ridicule in Mexico and throughout the world.

The policy of wordy, futile written protests against the acts of Mexican officials, explained the following day by the President himself as being meaningless and not intended to be considered seriously, or enforced, has but added in degree to that contempt, and has earned for us the sneers and jeers of Mexican bandits, and added insult upon insult against our national honor and dignity.

We should not recognize any Mexican government, unless it be a responsible government willing and able to give sufficient guarantees that the lives and property of American citizens are respected and protected; that wrongs will be promptly corrected and just compensation will be made for injury sustained. The Republican party pledges itself to a consistent, firm and effective policy towards Mexico that shall enforce respect for the American flag and that shall protect the rights of American citizens lawfully in Mexico to security of life and enjoyment of property, in accordance with established principles of international law and our treaty rights.

The Republican party is a sincere friend of the Mexican people. In its insistence upon the maintenance of order for the protection of American citizens within its borders a great service will be rendered the Mexican people themselves; for a continuation of present conditions means disaster to their interests and patriotic aspirations.

(b) Mandate for Armenia

We condemn President Wilson for asking Congress to empower him to accept a mandate for Armenia. We commend the Republican Senate for refusing the President’s request to empower him to accept the mandate for Armenia. The acceptance of such mandate would throw the United States into the very maelstrom of European quarrels. According to the estimate of the Harbord Commission, organized by authority of President Wilson, we would be called upon to send 59,000 American boys to police Armenia and to expend $276,000,000 in the first year and $756,000,000 in five years. This estimate is made upon the basis that we would have only roving bands to fight; but in case of serious trouble with the Turks or with Russia, a force exceeding 200,000 would be necessary.

No more striking illustration can be found of President Wilson’s disregard of the lives of American boys or of American interests.

We deeply sympathize with the people of Armenia and stand ready to help them in all proper ways, but the Republican party will oppose now and hereafter the acceptance of a mandate for any country in Europe or Asia.

(c) League of Nations

The Republican party stands for agreement among the nations to preserve the peace of the world. We believe that such an international association must be based upon international justice, and must provide methods which shall maintain the rule of public right by the development of law and the decision of impartial courts, and which shall secure instant and general international conference whenever peace shall be threatened by political action, so that the nations pledged to do and insist upon what is just and fair may exercise their influence and power for the prevention of war.

We believe that all this can be done without the compromise of national independence, without depriving the people of the United States in advance of the right to determine for themselves what is just and fair when the occasion arises, and without involving them as participants and not as peacemakers in a multitude of quarrels, the merits of which they are unable to judge.

The covenant signed by the President at Paris failed signally to accomplish this great purpose, and contains stipulations, not only intolerable for an independent people, but certain to produce the injustice, hostility and controversy among nations which it proposed to prevent.

That covenant repudiated, to a degree wholly unnecessary and unjustifiable, the time-honored policies in favor of peace declared by Washington, Jefferson, and Monroe, and pursued by all American administrations for more than a century, and it ignored the universal sentiment of America for generations past in favor of international law and arbitration, and it rested the hope of the future upon mere expediency and negotiation.

The unfortunate insistence of the President upon having his own way, without any change and without any regard to the opinions of a majority of the Senate, which shares with him in the treaty-making power, and the President’s demand that the Treaty should be ratified without any modification, created a situation in which Senators were required to vote upon their consciences and their oaths according to their judgment against the Treaty as it was presented, or submit to the commands of a dictator in a matter where the authority and the responsibility under the Constitution were theirs, and not his.

The Senators performed their duty faithfully. We approve their conduct and honor their courage and fidelity. And we pledge the coming Republican administration to such agreements with the other nations of the world as shall meet the full duty of America to civilization and humanity, in accordance with American ideals, and without surrendering the right of the American people to exercise its judgment and its power in favor of justice and peace.


Congress and Reconstruction

Despite the unconstitutional and dictatorial course of the President and the partisan obstruction of the Democratic congressional minority, the Republican majority has enacted a program of constructive legislation which in great part, however, has been nullified by the vindictive vetoes of the President.

The Republican Congress has met the problems presented by the administration’s unpreparedness for peace. It has repealed the greater part of the vexatious war legislation. It has enacted a transportation act making possible the rehabilitation of the railroad systems of the country, the operation of which, under the present Democratic administration, has been wasteful, extravagant, and inefficient in the highest degree. The transportation act made provision for the peaceful settlement of wage disputes, partially nullified, however, by the President’s delay in appointing the wage board created by the Act. This delay precipitated the outlaw railroad strike.

We stopped the flood of public treasure, recklessly poured into the lap of an inept shipping board, and laid the foundations for the creation of a great merchant marine; we took from the incompetent Democratic administration the administration of the telegraph and telephone lines of the country and returned them to private ownership; we reduced the cost of postage and increased the pay of the postal employees—the poorest paid of all public servants; we provided pensions for superannuated and retired civil servants; and for an increase in pay of soldiers and sailors we reorganized the Army on a peace footing and provided for the maintenance of a powerful and efficient navy.

The Republican Congress established by law a permanent woman’s bureau in the Department of Labor; we submitted to the country the constitutional amendment for woman suffrage, and furnished twenty-nine of the thirty-five legislatures which have ratified it to date.

Legislation for the relief of the consumers of print paper, for the extension of the powers of the government under the Food Control Act, for broadening the scope of the War Risk Insurance Act, better provision for the dwindling number of aged veterans of the Civil War and for the better support of the maimed and injured of the great war, and for making practical the vocational rehabilitation act, has been enacted by the Republican Congress.

We passed an oil leasing and water power bill to unlock for the public good the great pent-up resources of the country; we have sought to check the profligacy of the administration, to realize upon the assets of the government and to husband the revenues derived from taxation. The Republicans in Congress have been responsible for cuts in the estimates for government expenditure of nearly $3,000,000,000 since the signing of the armistice.

We enacted a national executive budget law; we strengthened the Federal Reserve Act to permit banks to lend needed assistance to farmers; we authorized financial incorporations to develop export trade; and finally, amended the rules of the Senate and House, which will reform evils in procedure and guarantee more efficient and responsible government.



The farmer is the backbone of the nation. National greatness and economic independence demand a population distributed between industry and the farm, and sharing on equal terms the prosperity which it holds is wholly dependent upon the efforts of both. Neither can prosper at the expense of the other without inviting joint disaster.

The crux of the present agricultural condition lies in prices, labor and credit.

The Republican party believes that this condition can be improved by: practical and adequate farm representation in the appointment of governmental officials and commissions; the right to form co-operative associations for marketing their products, and protection against discrimination; the scientific study of agricultural prices and farm production costs, at home and abroad, with a view to reducing the frequency of abnormal fluctuation; the uncensored publication of such reports; the authorization of associations for the extension of personal credit; a national inquiry on the coordination of rail, water and motor transportation with adequate facilities for receiving, handling and marketing food; the encouragement of our export trade; and end to unnecessary price-fixing and ill-considered efforts arbitrarily to reduce prices of farm products which invariably result to the disadvantage both of producer and consumer; and the encouragement of the production and importation of fertilizing material and of its extensive use.

The Federal Farm Loan Acts should be so administered as to facilitate the acquisition of farm land by those desiring to become owners and proprietors and thus minimize the evils of farm tenantry, and to furnish such long time credits as farmers may need to finance adequately their larger and long time production operations.


Industrial Relations

There are two different conceptions of the relations of capital and labor. The one is contractual and emphasizes the diversity of interest of employer and employees. The other is that of co-partnership in a common task.

We recognize the justice of collective bargaining as a means of promoting good will, establishing closer and more harmonious relations between employers and employees and realizing the true ends of industrial justice.

The strike or the lockout, as a means of settling industrial disputes, inflicts such loss and suffering on the community as to justify government initiative to reduce its frequency and limit its consequences. We denied the right to strike against the government; but the rights and interests of all government employees must be safeguarded by impartial laws and tribunals.

In public utilities we favor the establishment of an impartial tribunal to make an investigation of the facts and to render decision to the end that there may be no organized interruption of service necessary to the lives and health and welfare of the people. The decisions of the tribunal to be morally but not legally binding, and an informed public sentiment be relied on to secure their acceptance. The tribunals, however, should refuse to accept jurisdiction except for the purpose of investigation as long as the public service be interrupted. For public utilities we favor the type of tribunal provided for in the Transportation Act of 1920.

In private industries we do not advocate the principle of compulsory arbitration, but we favor impartial commissions and better facilities for voluntary mediation, conciliation and arbitration supplemented by the full publicity which will enlist the influence of an aroused public opinion. The government should take the initiative in inviting the establishment of tribunals or commissions for the purpose of voluntary arbitration and of investigation of disputed issues.

We demand the exclusion from interstate commerce of the products of convict labor.


National Economy

A Republican Congress reduced the estimates submitted by the Administration almost three billion dollars. Greater economies could have been effected had it not been for the stubborn refusal of the Administration to co-operate with Congress in an economy program. The universal demand for an executive budget is a recognition of the incontrovertible fact that leadership and sincere assistance on the part of the executive departments are essential to effective economy and constructive retrenchment.

The Overman Act invested the President of the United States with all the authority and power necessary to restore the Federal Government to a normal peace basis and to reorganize, retrench and demobilize. The dominant fact is that eighteen months after the armistice, the United States Government is still on a war time basis, and the expenditure program of the Executive reflects war time extravagance rather than rigid peace time economy.

As an example of the failure to retrench which has characterized the post war time administration we cite the fact that not including the war and navy departments, the executive departments and other establishments at Washington actually record an increase subsequent to the armistice of 2,184 employees. The net decrease in pay roll costs contained in the 1921 demands submitted by the Administration is only one per cent below that of 1920. The annual expenses of Federal operations can be reduced hundreds of millions of dollars without impairing the efficiency of the public service.

We pledge ourselves to a carefully planned readjustment on a peace time basis and to a policy of rigid economy, to the better co-ordination of departmental activities, to the elimination of unnecessary officials and employees, and to the raising of the standard of individual efficiency.


The Executive Budget

We congratulate the Republican Congress on the enactment of a law providing for the establishment of an Executive Budget as a necessary instrument for a sound and business-like administration of the national finances; and we condemn the veto of the President which defeated this great financial reform.


Reorganization of Federal Departments and Bureaus

We advocate a thorough investigation of the present organization of the Federal departments and bureaus, with a view to securing consolidation, a more business-like distribution of functions, the elimination of duplication, delays and overlapping of work and the establishment of an up-todate and efficient administrative organization.


War Powers of the President

The President clings tenaciously to his autocratic war time powers. His veto of the resolution declaring peace and his refusal to sign the bill repealing war time legislation, no longer necessary, evidenced his determination not to restore to the Nation and to the State the form of government provided for by the Constitution. This usurpation is intolerable and deserves the severest condemnation.



The burden of taxation imposed upon the American people is staggering; but in presenting a true statement of the situation we must face the fact that, while the character of the taxes can and should be changed, an early reduction of the amount of revenue to be raised is not to be expected. The next Republican Administration will inherit from its Democratic predecessor a floating indebtedness of over three billion dollars—the prompt liquidation of which is demanded by sound financial consideration. Moreover, the whole fiscal policy of the Government must be deeply influenced by the necessity of meeting obligations in excess of five billion dollars which mature in 1923. But sound policy equally demands the early accomplishment of that real reduction of the tax burden which may be achieved by substituting simple for complex tax laws and procedure, prompt and certain determination of the tax liability for delay and uncertainty, tax laws which do not, for tax laws which do, excessively mulct the consumer or needlessly repress enterprise and thrift.

We advocate the issuance of a simplified form of income return; authorizing the Treasury Department to make changes in regulations effective only from the date of their approval empowering the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, with the consent of the taxpayers, to make final and conclusive settlements of tax claims and assessments barring fraud, the creation of a Tax Board consisting of at least three representatives of the taxpaying public and the heads of the principal divisions of the Bureau of Internal Revenue to act as a standing committee on the simplification of forms, procedure and law and to make recommendations to the Congress.


Banking and Currency

The fact is that the war to a great extent, was financed by a policy of inflation, through certificate borrowings from the banks, and bonds issued at artificial rates sustained by the low discount rates established by the Federal Reserve Board. The continuance of this policy since the armistice lays the administration open to severe criticism. Almost up to the present time the practices of the Federal Reserve Board as to credit control have been frankly dominated by the convenience of the Treasury.

The results have been a greatly increased war cost, a serious loss to the millions of people who, in good faith, bought liberty bonds and victory notes at par, and extensive post war speculation followed to-day by a restricted credit for legitimate industrial expansion and as a matter of public policy, we urge all banks to give credit preference to essential industry.

The Federal Reserve System should be free from political influence, which is quite as important as its independence of domination by financial combinations.


The High Cost of Living

The prime cause of the “High Cost of Living” has been first and foremost, a fifty per cent depreciation in the purchasing power of the dollar, due to a gross expansion of our currency and credit. Reduced production, burdensome taxation, swollen profits, and the increased demand for goods arising from a fictitious but enlarged buying power, have been contributing forces in a greater or less degree. We condemn the unsound fiscal policies of the Democratic Administration which have brought these things to pass, and their attempts to impute the consequences to minor and secondary causes. Much of the injury wrought is irreparable. There is no short way out, and we decline to deceive the people with vain promises or quack remedies. But as the political party that throughout its history has stood for honest money and sound finance, we pledge ourselves to earnest and consistent attack upon the high cost of living, by rigorous avoidance of further inflation in war government borrowing, by courageous and intelligent deflation of over-expanded credit and currency, by encouragement of heightened production of goods and services, by prevention of unreasonable profits, by exercise of public economy and stimulation of private thrift and by revision of war imposed taxes unsuited to peace time economy.



We condemn the Democratic Administration for failure impartially to enforce the Anti-Profiteering Laws enacted by the Republican Congress.



We are opposed to government ownership and operation or employee operation of the Railroads. In view of the conditions prevailing in this country, the experience of the last two years, and the conclusion which may fairly be drawn from an observation of the transportation systems of other countries it is clear that adequate transportation service both for the present and future can be furnished more certainly, economically and efficiently through private ownership and operation under proper regulation and control.

There should be no speculative profit in rendering the service of transportation; but in order to do justice to the capital already invested in railway enterprise, to restore railway credit, to induce future investment at a reasonable rate, and to furnish a large facility to meet the requirements of the constantly increasing development and distribution a fair return upon actual value of the railway property used in transportation should be made reasonably sure, and at the same time to provide constant employment to those engaged in transportation service, with fair hours and favorable working conditions, at wages or compensation at least equal to those prevailing in similar lines of industry.

We endorse the transportation act of 1920 enacted by the Republican Congress as a most constructive legislative achievement.



We declare it to be our policy to encourage and develop water transportation service and facilities in connection with the commerce of the United States.


Regulation of Industry and Commerce

We approve in general the existing Federal Legislation against monopoly and combinations in restraint of trade, but since the known certainty of a law is the safety of all, we advocate such amendment as will provide American business men with better means of determining in advance whether a proposed combination is or is not unlawful. The Federal Trade Commission, under a Democratic Administration, has not accomplished the purpose for which it was created. This commission properly organized and its duties efficiently administered should afford protection to the public and legitimate business interests. There should be no persecution of honest business; but to the extent that circumstances warrant we pledge ourselves to strengthen the law against unfair practices.

We pledge the party to an immediate resumption of trade relations with every nation with which we are at peace.


International Trade and Tariff

The uncertain and unsettled condition of international balances, the abnormal economic and trade situation of the world, and the impossibility of forecasting accurately even the near future, preclude the formulation of a definite program to meet conditions a year hence. But the Republican party reaffirms its belief in the protective principles and pledges itself to a revision of the tariff as soon as conditions shall make it necessary for the preservation of the home market for American labor, agriculture and industry.


Merchant Marine

The National defense and our foreign commerce require a merchant marine of the best type of modern ship, flying the American flag, and manned by American seamen, owned by private capital, and operated by private energy. We endorse the sound legislation recently enacted by the Republican Congress that will insure the promotion and maintenance of the American Merchant Marine.

We favor the application of the workmen’s compensation act to the Merchant Marine.

We recommend that all ships engaged in coastwise trade and all vessels of the American Merchant Marine shall pass through the Panama Canal without payment of tolls.



The standard of living and the standard of citizenship of a nation are its most precious possessions, and the preservation and the elevation of those standards is the first duty of our government. The immigration policy of the U. S. should be such as to insure that the number of foreigners in the country at any one time shall not exceed that which can be assimilated with reasonable rapidity, and to favor immigrants whose standards are similar to ours.

The selective tests that are at present applied should be improved by requiring a higher physical standard, a more complete exclusion of mental defectives and of criminals, and a more effective inspection applied as near the source of immigration as possible, as well as at the port of entry. Justice to the foreigner and to ourselves demands provision for the guidance, protection and better economic distribution of our alien population. To facilitate government supervision, all aliens should be required to register annually until they become naturalized.

The existing policy of the United States for the practical exclusion of Asiatic immigrants is sound, and should be maintained.



There is urgent need of improvement in our naturalization law. No alien should become a citizen until he has become genuinely American, and adequate tests for determining the alien’s fitness for American citizenship should be provided for by law.

We advocate, in addition, the independent naturalization of married women. An American woman, resident in the United States, should not lose her citizenship by marriage to an alien.


Free Speech and Alien Agitation

We demand that every American citizen shall enjoy the ancient and constitutional right of free speech, free press and free assembly and the no less sacred right of the qualified voted [sic] to be represented by his duly chosen representatives; but no man may advocate resistance to the law, and no man may advocate violent overthrow of the government.

Aliens within the jurisdiction of the United States are not entitled of right to liberty of agitation directed against the government of American institutions

Every government has the power to exclude and deport those aliens who constitute a real menace to its peaceful existence. But in view of the large numbers of people affected by the immigration acts and in view of the vigorous malpractice of the Departments of Justice and Labor, an adequate public hearing before a competent administrative tribunal should be assured to all.



We urge Congress to consider the most effective means to end Iynching in this country which continues to be a terrible blot on our American civilization.


Public Roads and Highways

We favor liberal appropriations in co-operation with the States for the construction of highways, which will bring about a reduction in transportation costs, better marketing of farm products, improvement in rural postal delivery, as well as meet the needs of military defense.

In determining the proportion of Federal aid for road construction among the States, the sums lost in taxation to the respective States by the setting apart of large portions of their area as forest reservations should be considered as a controlling factor.



Conservation is a Republican policy. It began with the passage of the Reclamation Act signed by President Roosevelt. The recent passage of the coal, oil and phosphate leasing act by a Republican Congress and the enactment of the waterpower bill fashioned in accordance with the same principle, are consistent landmarks in the development of the conservation of our national resources. We denounce the refusal of the President to sign the waterpower bill, passed after ten years of controversy. The Republican party has taken an especially honorable part in saving our national forests and in the effort to establish a national forest policy. Our most pressing conservation question relates to our forests. We are using our forest resources faster than they are being renewed. The result is to raise unduly the cost of forest products to consumers and especially farmers, who use more than half the lumber produced in America, and in the end to create a timber famine. The Federal Government, the States and private interests must unite in devising means to meet the menace.



We favor a fixed and comprehensive policy of reclamation to increase national wealth and production.

We recognize in the development of reclamation through Federal action with its increase of production and taxable wealth a safeguard for the nation.

We commend to Congress a policy to reclaim lands and the establishment of a fixed national policy of development of natural resources in relation to reclamation through the now designated government agencies.


Army and Navy

We feel the deepest pride in the fine courage, the resolute endurance, the gallant spirit of the officers and men of our army and navy in the World War. They were in all ways worthy of the best traditions of the nation’s defenders, and we pledge ourselves to proper maintenance of the military and naval establishments upon which our national security and dignity depend.


The Service Men

We hold in imperishable remembrance the valor and the patriotism of the soldiers and sailors of America who fought in the great war for human liberty, and we pledge ourselves to discharge to the fullest the obligations which a grateful nation justly should fulfill, in appreciation of the services rendered by its defenders on sea and on land.

Republicans are not ungrateful. Throughout their history they have shown their gratitude toward the nation’s defenders. Liberal legislation for the care of the disabled and infirm and their dependents has ever marked Republican policy toward the soldier and sailor of all the wars in which our country has participated. The present Congress has appropriated generously for the disabled of the World War.

The amounts already applied and authorized for the fiscal year 1920-21 for this purpose reached the stupendous sum of $1,180,571,893. The legislation is significant of the party’s purpose in generously caring for the maimed and disabled men of the recent war.


Civil Service

We renew our repeated declaration that the civil service law shall be thoroughly and honestly enforced and extended wherever practicable. The recent action of Congress in enacting a comprehensive civil service retirement law and in working out a comprehensive employment and wage policy that will guarantee equal and just treatment to the army of government workers, and in centralizing the administration of the new and progressive employment policy in the hands of the Civil Service Commission is worthy of all praise.


Postal Service

We condemn the present administration for its destruction of the efficiency of the postal service, and the telegraph and telephone service when controlled by the government and for its failure to properly compensate employees whose expert knowledge is essential to the proper conduct of the affairs of the postal system. We commend the Republican Congress for the enactment of legislation increasing the pay of postal employees, who up to that time were the poorest paid in the government service.


Woman Suffrage

We welcome women into full participation in the affairs of government and the activities of the Republican Party. We earnestly hope that Republican legislatures in states which have not yet acted on the Suffrage Amendment will ratify the amendment, to the end that all of the women of the nation of voting age may participate in the election of 1920 which is so important to the welfare of our country.


Social Progress

The supreme duty of the nation is the conservation of human resources through an enlightened measure of social and industrial justice. Although the federal jurisdiction over social problems is limited, they affect the welfare and interest of the nation as a whole. We pledge the Republican party to the solution of these problems through national and state legislation in accordance with the best progressive thought of the country.


Education and Health

We endorse the principle of Federal aid to the States for the purpose of vocational and agricultural training.

Wherever Federal money is devoted to education, such education must be so directed as to awaken in the youth the spirit of America and a sense of patriotic duty to the United States.

A thorough system of physical education for all children up to the age of 19, including adequate health supervision and instruction, would remedy conditions revealed by the draft and would add to the economic and industrial strength of the nation. National leadership and stimulation will be necessary to induce the States to adopt a wise system of physical training.

The public health activities of the Federal government are scattered through numerous departments and bureaus, resulting in inefficiency, duplication and extravagance. We advocate a greater centralization of the Federal functions and in addition urge the better co-ordination of the work of the Federal, State and local health agencies.


Child Labor

The Republican party stands for a Federal child labor law and for its rigid enforcement. If the present law be found unconstitutional or ineffective, we shall seek other means to enable Congress to prevent the evils of child labor.


Women in Industry

Women have special problems of employment which make necessary special study. We recommend Congress for the permanent establishment of the Women’s Bureau in the United States Department of Labor to serve as a source of information to the States and to Congress.

The principle of equal pay for equal service should be applied throughout all branches of the Federal government in which women are employed.

Federal aid for vocational training should take into consideration the special aptitudes and needs of women workers.

We demand Federal legislation to limit the hours of employment of women engaged in intensive industry, the product of which enters into interstate commerce.



The housing shortage has not only compelled careful study of ways of stimulating building, but it has brought into relief the unsatisfactory character of the housing accommodations of large numbers of the inhabitants of our cities. A nation of home owners is the best guaranty of the maintenance of those principles of liberty, law and order upon which our government is founded. Both National and State governments should encourage in all proper ways the acquiring of homes by our citizens. The United States Government should make available the valuable information on housing and town planning collected during the war. This information should be kept up to date and made currently available.



For Hawaii we recommend Federal assistance in Americanizing and educating their greatly disproportionate foreign population; home rule; and the rehabilitation of the Hawaiian race.

Pointing to its history and relying on its fundamental principles, we declare that the Republican party has the genius, courage and constructive ability to end executive usurpation and restore constitutional government; to fulfill our world obligations without sacrificing our national independence; to raise the national standards of education, health and general welfare; to re-establish a peace time administration and to substitute economy and efficiency for extravagance and chaos; to restore and maintain the national credit; to reform unequal and burdensome taxes; to free business from arbitrary and unnecessary official control; to suppress disloyalty without the denial of justice; to repel the arrogant challenge of any class and to maintain a government of all the people as contrasted with government for some of the people, and finally, to allay unrest, suspicion and strife, and to secure the co-operation and unity of all citizens in the solution of the complex problems of the day; to the end that our country, happy and prosperous, proud of its past, sure of itself and of its institutions, may look forward with confidence to the future.

Published in: on June 10, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Republican Party Platform 1920  
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Hiram Johnson


Hiram Johnson was a very successful politician.  In 1910 he was elected Governor of California as a Progressive Republican.  In 1912 he ran as Theodore Roosevelt’s Veep on the Bull Moose Party Platform, which, although the ticket ultimately was defeated gave him national renown.  Re-elected as Governor in 1914, he was elected to the Senate in 1916, a seat he would hold until his death in 1945.  In 1920 he was hopeful that he could carry the banner of Progressiveness as the Republican nominee for President. Progressivism was a waning force in the Republican party, but Johnson was willing to roll the dice.

Published in: on May 27, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Hiram Johnson  
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Warren G. Harding and His Boss


A self-made successful newspaper owner from Marion, Ohio, affable, handsome Warren Harding had always been interested in politics.  Born in 1865 into a family noted for their abolitionism, and rumored to have black ancestry, although recent DNA testing in regard to Harding disproves that rumor, political success eluded Harding until he won a State Senate election in Ohio in 1899.  He got started relatively late for a politician in those days but his rise was then swift.  In 1903 he was elected Lieutenant Governor of Ohio.  Defeated in the race for Governor of Ohio in 1910 he was elected to the Senate in 1914.  Harding throughout his political career had a talent for making friends in the Republican party and few enemies.  A conservative Republican, he went out of his way to conciliate the Progressive wing of the party.  In the Senate he made many friends, few enemies and no waves, not a small achievement in a time when the Republican party was recovering from the split of 1912.  In most ways he was completely a politician of his time.  In other ways, most notably on civil rights for blacks, he was decades ahead of his day.  Whatever his positions he doubtless would be completely forgotten today but for the woman he married.


Throughout his political career his wife Florence ran his business interests with competence.  A childless couple, Florence fully supported her husband’s political career.  Her husband’s long time affair with Carrie Phillip nearly ended his marriage, with Florence demanding that he break off the affair, which he did, with Phillips and her husband and children taking up residence in Europe.

In 1919 Harding announced that he was a candidate for President.  This was a classic favorite son candidacy initiated by Harding mainly to help solidify his support within the Republican party of Ohio to support his re-election campaign to the Senate in 1920.  A potential ticking time bomb was that Mrs. Phillips was in possession of hundreds of love letters from Harding, which, if revealed, would end his political career.  Since he didn’t expect to be the nominee, Harding wasn’t too worried about the letters as he made ready to attend the Republican national convention in Chicago in June.  However,  Florence Harding was determined that her husband was going to be the next President, and, in her words, she would make him stay in the race until “Hell freezes over!”  Stay tuned.

Published in: on May 18, 2020 at 4:49 am  Comments Off on Warren G. Harding and His Boss  
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