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The 1924 Republican National Convention

In 1924, the city of Cleveland was preparing for a gathering unlike any it had ever experienced before. After much debate, it had been decided that the Republican National Convention was going to be held in the Forest City. Set to take place in June 1924, this convention would start a new era of political conventions.

On August 2, 1923, the nation experienced the tragic death of President Warren G. Harding and saw a new face take his place. Calvin Coolidge was fairly unknown as the vice president and remained rather unknown throughout the rest of that year. His lack of publicity served the Grand Old Party (GOP) well. The Harding administration, after all, had faced a great deal of controversy which had guaranteed that he would be dropped from the ticket in 1924. The Teapot Dome and veterans bureau scandals caused the public to lose all faith in the government, but Coolidge's fresh face was exactly what the party needed to be able to restore the country's faith in their government as well as in the Republican Party.

When it came down to the convention that would nominate Coolidge, there was debate on whether it was going to be held in San Francisco or Cleveland. The deciding factor was a personal endorsement from Coolidge for the city of Cleveland. In tribute to the late President Harding, Coolidge gave his support to Cleveland for it was in Harding's home state. Besides said endorsement, Cleveland itself had a great deal to offer. The city had a brand-new Public Auditorium, which was near many excellent hotels and attractions, and was able to host 11,500 people.

The convention was the first to allow female delegates equal representation with men after women had received the right to vote in 1920. Special attention was paid to the comfort of female representatives. The party even created a special committee to accommodate the needs of women, including placing a hostess at every accommodating hotel in order to assist representatives. The convention was also the first to broadcast its proceedings through radio. WTAM broadcast the convention's speeches and other important elements as far as its signal could reach. There was also much spectacle given to the convention such as fireworks and boat rides given to delegates.

This convention in particular was somewhat of an enigma. Though there was a great deal of new and exciting things surrounding this convention, it is hardly mentioned as being influential. Although the convention provided a starting point for some aspects of modern-day conventions, the actual content of the convention was rather dry. At one point it was suggested that "the city open up the churches to liven things up a bit." There was relatively little debate on whom to nominate since the GOP had a great deal of faith in Coolidge. Consequently, there was not much to actually do. President Coolidge himself did not even attend the convention; he stayed in Washington, D.C., to continue attending to Presidential duties.

The convention provided a firm foundation for the elected presidency of Calvin Coolidge. Though he served during a time known as the "roaring twenties," his journey there was nothing of the sort. His legacy as "Silent Cal" followed by the devastation caused by the Great Depression would go on to replace the memory of the pathbreaking yet lackluster Republican National Convention of 1924.

Images

Sound Truck Broadcast of RNC "With a company of elephants to sound a genuine Republican keynote, Cleveland crowds found it easy to get into the spirit of the convention that nominated Coolidge and Dawes by means of this 'public address system' that connected with the presidential convention hall." Source: Popular Radio, August 1924, p. 207, via AmericanRadioHistory.com
President Calvin Coolidge, 1923 Calvin Coolidge faced new presidential duties shortly after the death of President Warren G. Harding on November 1, 1923. Coolidge's calm demeanor was what he was known for throughout his presidency. Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
Crowd Outside Public Auditorium East 6th Street, from Superior to Lakeside, was lined with white pillars topped with eagles. Each eagle reportedly cost $400, a considerable sum in 1924. This photo of East 6th (facing south) shows those pillars, as well as men in straw hats milling about and Model-T cars proceeding cautiously through the crowd near Public Hall (not seen in this photo, but just to the right). Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections Date: June 11, 1924
Crowd Inside Convention, 1924 This photo shows the interior of Cleveland's Public Auditorium. During the 1924 convention, all floor seats were filled. The massive public hall was able to hold 11,500 people. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections Date: June 13, 1924
Public Auditorium, ca. 1924 The massive, nearly new Public Auditorium boosted Cleveland's odds of hosting the 1924 RNC, although ultimately the bid owed to President Coolidge's selection of Cleveland over San Francisco as a nod to the memory of the late President Warren G. Harding, who hailed from north-central Ohio. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
Keep Cool with Coolidge Coolidge's campaign slogan reflected his calm demeanor. He was most often known as "Silent Cal."

Location

Metadata

Kristyn Vines, “The 1924 Republican National Convention,” Cleveland Historical, accessed May 19, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/684.