1936 Republican Convention Held In Cleveland
The most recent convention held in Cleveland prior to this year - was the Republican effort in 1936... A convention for the GOP that looks like today's in that the Republicans come in as hopeful underdogs....
If you believe the polls...
The first week of June - 1936.
America was buzzing over the maiden voyage of the RMS Queen Mary into New York harbor.
Film Star Gary Cooper was packing in crowds to see Frank Capra’s “Mr Deeds Goes To Town”.
The chart topping Benny Goodman tune “Goody Goody” had the nation tapping its feet for weeks….
And on June 7th – the Indians fell to the New York Yankees in 16 innings, setting a new record for the longest game ever played – without a strikeout.
Just one day later; Cleveland was the focus of the political world - at the opening of the Republican National Convention… Northeast Ohio having bested Chicago and Kansas City for hosting honors.
Most of the delegates pouring into Public Auditorium from around the country firmly believed taking the White House from popular democratic President Franklin D Roosevelt would be nearly impossible.
The party just didn’t have a strong challenger, leading to the man who was eventually nominated in Cleveland – political moderate and Governor of Kansas, Alfred Mossman Landon.
Landon had actually been one of a very few Republicans elected… in that entire decade.
“So we’re talking about Democratic dominance throughout the country… in the White House, Congress, at the state and local level, because Republicans had been branded as the party that brought us the depression.”
So tough had the depression been that Cleveland’s convention of 1936 was far smaller than most previous, as the nation – and this city
– still struggled to completely free themselves from economic depression…
Landon never even journeyed to Cleveland for the convention, partly because once efforts to unseat him from claiming the nomination failed, he reportedly felt assured of his position.
That followed the decision of former President Herbert Hoover, ‘not’ to challenge him ….. though Hoover unlike Landon, ‘did’ come to the convention, to great approval…
(CONVENTION MODERATOR:) “Mister President. I have the honor to pin on you this official badge prepared for you as the honored guest of this convention. (Hoover responds) “I am not only overwhelmed with your welcome but proud to be the guest of this convention.”
With no real chance of winning the race, the party platform, and insider issues dominated convention floor deliberations.
Still, some in the GOP tried to inflict political damage on the opposition by alleging the New Deal Administration had dishonored American traditions.
Professor Tom Sutton of Baldwin Wallace University said:
“The New Deal, and Roosevelt’s entire approach to handling the Depression, was unlike anything that any government had ever tried before. He had moved away from the assumption about economic boom and bust cycles that would correct themselves; he had moved away from the idea that we should be fiscally conservative, in light of a recession or depression and instead called for massive government spending, which is what a lot of the New Deal was about.”
But it was not a huge rallying point, and with little drama, delegates proceeded to overwhelmingly chose Alfred Landon.
(CONVENTION MODERATOR): “Having received the majority of votes from this convention, I do declare that he is the candidate for President of the United States (Cheers).”
That sense of unity at the convention, however, was crumbling behind closed doors as the party was fragmenting over - race –
This era is still viewed by many as the true split between the GOP and African Americans, who had voted largely with the party since the time of President Lincoln. Again - Dr. Tom Sutton.
”Keeping in mind the Democratic Party of the South is still ardently Segregationist. It is still the party that is seen as, excluding in every way possible – African Americans from having the right to vote, much less be part of the party. But what happened was the FDR administration said, ‘we may not be able to do much for you in the South, but what we can do - is try to help you get a job, help you feed your family, provide some relief’, and as some would say “You can’t eat Freedom”, FDR at least showed them that you can eat something – by supporting a Democrat. And as a result he was the first Democratic President to really see that kind of support among African Americans.”
(RICK JACKSON ASKS) “So with this battle going on racially, the Call and Post and the Plain Dealer each stepped forward to say – ‘What you’re doing is wrong.’ For a local paper to do that on a national stage like that – had to be a bit of a surprise.”
Sutton: “Oh... Absolutely. Because usually they would try to stay aloof, try to stay neutral – and certainly if you’re the host city… in some ways it might be seen as inopportune or as not gracious to be coming out in opposition.”
Despite lackluster enthusiasm and a sure loss ahead for the party - hosting the Republicans was a point of pride for the city of Cleveland, re-emerging from the depression, fighting to get people back to work, and re-asserting itself as a place -- to be both courted – and respected…
Dr David Niven of the University of Cincinnati echoed the sentiment of many scholars.
“The sense that Ohio has always been this slice of America – even then, in a very different America and a very different Ohio, all the way through today, it’s the one thing that links all these conventions together, and it’s why the Republicans are coming to Cleveland in 2016.”
[A1]This is unclear. Unseat his candidacy? His presumed nomination? This is unclear because the Sutton bite above says he was a longshot walking into the convention…
[A2]When did that happen? Days, weeks, months before the convention? I ask because this seems to contradict the Sutton bite at the bottom of page 1.
[A3]If Knox is important to mention we need to explain why and who he was. If not, then lets just kill it.