FDR - 1936 Democratic Convention

FDR at the 1936 Democratic Convention. It was his . . . all his.

FDR - 1936 Democratic Convention
FDR at the 1936 Democratic Convention. It was his . . . all his.

June 26, 1936 – CBS – Convention Day 4 excerpt – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

June 26, 1936 – Day 4 of the Democratic Convention from Philadelphia. Philadelphia was the site for the 1936 convention – a convention which was much calmer than that of 1932. FDR and Vice President John Nance Garner were nominated without the need of a roll call, and on June 27th, FDR addressed the convention.

As he spoke, he talked of the need for freedom from tyranny, both political and economic, and of making government the “embodiment of human charity.” FDR went on to say that “there is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.”

The convention was held June 23 to 27 at the Municipal Auditorium but incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt accepted his nomination before a packed crowd in Franklin Field. He engineered a rules change to give the southern states less influence. During the convention, blue laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol on Sunday were suspended. It was also the first time since 1856 that Pennsylvanians voted for a Democrat for president.

Day 4 was still about seconding speeches and demonstrations. It was far different than the contentious and drama-filled convention of 1932, but it still had its moments. Prior to 1936, the rule for nominating candidates for President and Vice President required a two-thirds vote of the delegates. However, this rule was abolished at the 1936 Democratic Convention and conventioneers adopted a rule which provided that a majority could nominate. This would allow for candidates to more easily be nominated and would thus produce less balloting. It also began to diminish the South’s clout at the convention, making it easier for Democrats to begin adopting civil rights and other liberal ideas into their platforms. The two thirds rule had long given the South a de facto veto on presidential nominees, but Roosevelt pushed for the removal of the policy, in part due to past deadlocks (for example, the 1924 presidential nomination required 103 ballots). With the rule’s abolition, Missouri Senator Bennett Champ Clark noted that “the Democratic Party is no longer a sectional party, it has become a great national party.” Southern Democrats would continue to decline in power, ultimately leading to the Dixiecrat movement and Nixon’s 1968 Southern strategy.

South Carolina Senator Ellison D. Smith walked out of the convention hall once he saw that a black minister, Marshall L. Shepard, was going to deliver the invocation. Smith recalled, “He started praying and I started walking. And from his great plantation in the sky, John C. Calhoun bent down and whispered in my ear – ‘You done good, Ed.'”

There was still a lot of work to be done. This broadcast is a wrap-up of the day’s events as broadcast by CBS on June 26, 1936.

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