Eisenhower and the American Crusades

By Herbert S. Parmet | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 13
Deception at Houston

T HE PRELIMINARIES OF the 1952 Republican National Convention centered on the ability of the son of President William Howard Taft to repeat the control of the nominating session that his father had commanded in 1912. At that time the party's national committee, dominated by the President, had decided most of the unusually large number of contested seats in his favor over the claims of Theodore Roosevelt's insurgents. Taft's subsequent first-ballot victory precipitated a second convention, that of TR's Progressives, and the Bull Moose campaign then divided the Republican vote and installed Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, as a minority President.

This time the essential difference was that neither side presented an incumbent. However, the Taft-Eisenhower clash did have many of the characteristics of an insurgent trying to usurp the status quo. Rebellion was particularly evident in such areas as the South, where Eisenhower boosters were joined by large numbers of conservative Democrats. Only four years earlier Governor J. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina had led the Dixiecrats in open rebellion against the Democratic national leadership. Now, enticed by the prospects of an Eisenhower candidacy and still reluctant to return to their traditional party, there was the possibility of the greatest Southern interest in the GOP since 1928. For some of the heretofore tiny Republican organizations, often held as the virtual fiefdoms of national committeemen from the various states, such as Texas's R. B. Creager and his successor, Henry Zweifel, swollen numbers of party activists were as ominous for their leadership as was the population expansion of Puritan Massachusetts to the early Congregationalist

-73-

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