The Rise of the Vice Presidency

By Irving G. Williams; Edward R. Murrow | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 10
Conservative Among Revolutionaries

The stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing economic collapse brought a changed political and economic climate that gave high hopes to the Democrats when they met in Chicago. Their indicated choice for the presidency in 1932 was the ex-vice-presidential nominee of 1990, Franklin D. Roosevelt. After his brief appearance as a national figure then, Roosevelt had suffered his crippling illness in 1921, and except for his "Happy Warrior" speeches placing Al Smith's name in nomination for the presidency in 1924 and 1928, had avoided public appearances. However, Smith had prevailed on him to run for Governor of New York in 1928 and, in the ensuing Democratic debacle, Roosevelt had carried the state for himself, while Smith lost it. By being re-elected in 1930 by an overwhelming majority, Roosevelt had clearly made himself a logical contender for the presidential nomination in 1932. By dint of good organization, Roosevelt came into the 1932 Chicago convention with the majority of the delegates pledged to him.

Since the Democrats operated under the two-thirds rule, the situation was ripe for a trade, as in the case of Wilson and Marshall in 1912. Although Smith was a candidate and felt he was deserving of renomination, it was not to be. Also in the race was the veteran Representative from Texas, John Nance Garner, Speaker of the House since 1931. Newton D. Baker, the Wilsonians' choice to replace Marshall in 1916, was looked upon by many as a dark horse compromise choice. Of all the main presidential contenders, Garner seemed the most unlikely to be chosen. He had only two state delegations, his own and California, with a total of 90 votes. Although more than a favorite son, he had little national backing. Since Smith had about 200 solid votes for him, it was clear that the early ballots would be indecisive. James A. Farley frantically sought to devise some method of ensuring Roosevelt's victory, first by proposing that the lowest men be eliminated, thus freeing their votes for use elsewhere, and then by having the two-thirds rule abolished after the sixth ballot if no choice should be made by then. All these proposals were thwarted, since obviously Roosevelt would be the strategic gainer.

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The Rise of the Vice Presidency
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction v
  • Preface vii
  • Contents *
  • Vice-Presidents of the United States *
  • Chapter 1 - Forgotten Office 1
  • Chapter 2 - The Formative Period 14
  • Chapter 3 - The First Vice-Presidents 21
  • Chapter 4 - Politicians in the Saddle 32
  • Chapter 5 - Accession by Assassination 51
  • Chapter 6 - Rough Riding 71
  • Chapter 7 - Transition Years 81
  • Chapter 8 - Spokesman of Normalcy 116
  • Chapter 9 - Last of the Old Guard 128
  • Chapter 10 - Conservative Among Revolutionaries 149
  • Chapter 11 - Left Versus Right 177
  • Chapter 12 - Return to the Senate 210
  • Chapter 15 - Crisis at Md-Centur 235
  • Select Bibliography 259
  • Index 262
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