Nebraska Moments

By Donald R. Hickey; Susan A. Wunder et al. | Go to book overview

26. Nebraska’s Would-be Vice Presidents

The presidential election of 1924 was one of the most amazing presidential elections in American history, and Nebraska played a very prominent role in it. Two of its favorite sons were unlikely candidates of the major parties, Charles Gates Dawes for the Republicans and Charles Wayland Bryan for the Democrats, and both parties had considerable difficulties in making their choices.

It all began with the convening of the Republican Convention on June 20, 1924, in Cleveland, Ohio. It was the very first convention covered by radio. Incumbent President Calvin Coolidge had succeeded President Warren G. Harding when Harding died of food poisoning while on a West Coast train trip. Although Coolidge had not stood for election as president before, the nation seemed reasonably calm, and so the Republicans opted to nominate him as their standard bearer. Perhaps because of the radio coverage, the longest speech ever delivered at a political convention was given placing the taciturn and remote Coolidge in nomination.

Then on June 22, another first occurred in American political history. Since Coolidge did not choose his running mate, the convention turned on its own to the governor of Illinois, Frank O. Lowden. Many delegates felt Governor Lowden had been cheated out of the 1920 nomination by a decision made in smoke-filled rooms, so he was a popular choice. Lowden, however, did not wish to be vice president, and he flatly turned it down. This had never happened before, so the convention had to choose another vice-presidential candidate.

One person who knew that Lowden would turn down the vice-presidential nomination was Mark Woods of Lincoln. Woods, who thought of himself as somewhat of a politico, had been the prime promoter of

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