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Noteworthy Men, Mostly Forgotten

July 12, 2016

One of the leading candidates was related to the most recent President from their party.  The other leading candidate was governor of a large state.  The former was endorsed by the KKK.  The latter was a northern liberal whose religion was viewed as a disqualifier.  Neither man would be chosen by their party that year.

William McAdoo had been Secretary of the Treasury and was President Wilson’s son-in-law.  He was supported by the pro-Klan delegates to the 1924 Democratic National Convention.  He would not get the nomination this year or ever.  Ten years later he and Eleanor Wilson McAdoo would divorce.

Alfred Smith was Governor of New York.  He was unacceptable to the pro-Klan delegates because he was Roman Catholic.  He would not get the Democratic nomination this time, but he would become the party’s standard bearer in 1928.  Although he would never become President, he is remembered at the annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, which raises money for Catholic charities that support needy children.

So, who did the Democrats nominate in 1924?  They chose a former Congressman, U.S. Solicitor General, and Ambassador.  They chose someone who had advised President Wilson at Versailles, someone who strongly supported the League of Nations.

The Convention had taken 17 days and 103 ballots to reach a decision.  At the beginning he was just another favorite son.  At the end he was the compromise choice who then lost the general election in a landslide.

He would return to private life and be forgotten by his party.  Although he had been a capable legislator, executive, and diplomat, he would spend the next 31 years in obscurity.  He is no better known today than he was at his passing in 1955.  This now forgotten candidate was John W. Davis.

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