President Coolidge won a resounding victory in the presidential primaries of 1924. He had been challenged by Sens. Hiram W. Johnson CA and Robert LaFollette WI. Early in 1924, news of irregularities among Pres. Harding's appointments became public knowledge; Pres. Coolidge vigorously prosecuted these office holders, and there seemed not to be any connection between Coolidge and the scandals.
The Republican National Committee initiated the first bonus system for appropriating delegates to the national convention. States voting Republican in the prior presidential election were granted an additional three delegates, and congressional districts failing to cast 10,000 votes for a Republican candidate for Elector or U.S. House were stripped of one delegate. This change in the rules had a minimal impact upon delegate allocation, since Southern delegations only fell from 29.2% of all delegates to 28.7%. The difference increased in the following years.
18th Republican National Convention, 6/10-12/1924
The 18th Republican National Convention was held in Municipal Auditorium, Cleveland OH, one of the largest public assembly halls in the nation at the time (built 1920-1922). The stage at the front of the hall had large portraits of Presidents Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Harding flanked by large flags (Coolidge specifically requested no images of himself). The press boxes were located on either side of the platform. The delegations from Massachusetts and Vermont were placed immediately in front of the stage. Green pipes bolted into the floor held the standards of the states, which had the names in white on a black background [NYT 6/8/1924]. There were 1,109 delegates present from the states and five territories (the latter with two delegates each). It rained outside for the entire convention except during the vice presidential balloting.
Municipal Auditorium, site of the convention
This was the first major party nominating convention to accommodate the radio. Wires were installed to allow convention speeches to be broadcast by fifteen stations nationwide. The only radio network service with a commentator was the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T), which sent its renowned reporter, Graham McNamee, though New York City's WEAF radio station sent two announcers for its own broadcast. The arrangements also included a special contraption used to send photographs by telegraph, another convention first [NYT 6/8/1924].
U.S. Rep. Theodore E. Burton was chosen to serve as temporary chairman and keynoter. In his 90 minute keynote speech, Burton outlined the several presidential administrations of the host state (Ohio) and then made a point of welcoming the 400 female delegates and alternates (a dramatic increase over the 1920 convention). Burton ended with a statement defending Congress's reluctance to pass legislation to help midwest farmers.
The convention appointed the usual committees. The only notable credentials challenge involved the Puerto Rico delegation, and the convention seated all contestants with 2/3 vote each.
Frank W. Mondell was chosen as the permanent chairman. He had served in the U.S. House from Wyoming for 26 years, then narrowly lost a race for the U.S. Senate in 1922. In his address to the convention, Mondell said that the inability of the Congress to pass appropriate legislation was due to the lack of "a dependable Republican majority" there.
The Rules Committee proposed two new rules. The first required the majority of six states to ask for a roll call. It appears that the rule was approved to quiet the insurgent Wisconsin delegation. This rule dramatically reduced the frequency of roll calls in Republican conventions. Second, the national committee was reorganized to require one woman and one man from each state and territory.
Just prior to the reading of the platform, the band played "Dixie" and other songs of the South. Mondell had not expected this, so he had the delegates sing the song "The Long, Long Trail," which he explained was the prelude to victory in 1924. [NYT 6/12/1924]
The proposed platform lauded the accomplishments of the Harding administration. One particular achievement was the initiation of the Bureau of the Budget, which played an instrumental role in helping to reorganize the federal bureaucracy. The platform commended the Harding administration for keeping a distance from the League of Nations and proposed an extension of the naval armament limitations to land-based armaments.
The Progressive minority offered a full alternate platform. It used colorful and divisive language to call for nationalization of railroads, increased taxes on large corporate profits, and decreased taxes on average Americans. The minority platform was supported by Wisconsin and a handful of delegates from other states.
The Presidential Nomination
After the platform was adopted, the convention moved to the presidential nomination. President Coolidge was placed in nomination by Marion L. Burton, President of the University of Michigan, with one of the longest speeches in US history. The speech was divided into three sections, each sufficiently long to have served the purpose (The Man, The American, and The Human Being). Nine seconding speeches were given, each being five minutes long. No other candidate was placed in nomination.
During the roll call, Coolidge received the votes of all delegates except Wisconsin, South Dakota, and half of North Dakota. The vote: Coolidge 1,065; LaFollette 34, and Hiram Johnson 10. Several requests to suspend the roll call and nominate by acclamation were ruled to be out of order. When ND and WI announced their votes for LaFollette, the crowd in the galleries booed; when SD announced its vote for Johnson, the crowd roared in laughter. At the end, the nomination was made unanimous by a voice vote. [NYT 6/13/1924]
Vice Presidential Nomination
The Vice Presidential balloting provided the most interest for the delegates of the entire convention. The Illinois delegation made it clear that their former Gov. Frank O. Lowden did not want the nomination, but he was placed in nomination anyway and placed first on the first ballot. Seven other candidates were placed in nomination. On the second ballot, Lowden's vote increased to 413, and many state delegations began to wave their banners so they could be recognized and shift their votes. When the shifting was complete, Lowden had 766 of the 1,189 delegate votes. A letter from Lowden was read, declining the nomination, but it was apparent that it had been written before the convention. Then an Associated Press report was read with the same information. The convention decided to adjourn to allow the chairman to contact Lowden directly.
When it was clear that Lowden would not run, the convention moved to a third ballot. Charles G. Dawes, renowned for his work with the German reparation plan, was nominated with 682.5 votes to 234.5 for Herbert Hoover and 192 scattering.
VP Balloting, RNC 1924
2d Before Shifts
2d After Shifts
Charles G. Dawes
Frank O. Lowden
Theodore E. Burton
Herbert C. Hoover
William S. Kenyon
George S. Graham
James E. Watson
Arthur M. Hyde
Dawes had been listening on the radio while visiting a sister in Marietta OH and sent a telegram to the convention accepting the nomination. [NYT 6/13/1924].