Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Presidential Election of 1920

The Presidential election of 1920 was an interesting one. Franklin D. Roosevelt, a young Assistant Secretary of the Navy, was selected as the Vice Presidential running mate of Democratic nominee James Cox. Cox was a newspaper executive and Governor from Ohio. The campaign was dominated by the aftermath of World War I and a hostile response to the politics of President Woodrow Wilson.

The wartime economic boom had collapsed, there was war and revolution in Europe, and there was the question of America's entry into the League of Nations. At home, there were major strikes in meatpacking and steel plants and race rioting in Chicago and other cities.

The Republicans ran Warren Harding for President, another newspaper man from Ohio, and Calvin Coolidge as Vice President. They basically ignored Cox and Roosevelt and ran against Wilson and his policies. Harding and the Republicans won by one of the largest landslides ever, 60% to 34%. Harding's administration is considered by historians as one of the worst in American history. The policies of the 1920s were a precursor to the stock market crash in 1928 and to the Great Depression which ensued.

The above is a wonderful image of Cox and a young, pre-polio Franklin Delano Roosevelt, arriving at the White House for discussions with President Wilson. Roosevelt, of course, would proceed in later years, to lead America out of the Great Depression and create a safety net which would come to define America in the 20th century. And most importantly, historians tells us that Roosevelt, together with his alliance with Sir Winston Churchill, likely saved Western Civilization.

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