PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & ELECTIONS
OVERVIEWS & CHRONOLOGIES: 1920
By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS
Election Year: 1920
Election Day Date: November 2, 1920
Winning Ticket: Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Republican 16,144,093 60.32% 404 76.1%
- James Cox, Franklin Roosevelt, Democratic 9,139,661 34.15% 127 23.9%
- Eugene Debs, Seymour Stedman, Socialist 913,693 3.41% 0 0.0%
- Parley Christiansen, Maximilian Hayes, Farmer-Labor 265,398 0.99% 0 0.0%
- Aaron Watkins, David Colvin, Prohibition 188,787 0.71% 0 0.0%
- Other (+) – – 113,548 0.42% 0 0.0%
Voter Turnout: 49.2%
Central Forums/Campaign Methods for Addressing Voters:
Stumping, front-porch, speeches, rallies, pamphlets, leaflets, flyers, newspapers
Election Law/Campaign Finance Changes:
- Party leaders reassert power as states stop holding primaries
- Primary laws repealed: Iowa (1917), Minnesota (1917)
- 19th Amendment to the Constitution, ratified August 18, 1920: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
Incumbent President and Vice President on Election Day:
Woodrow Wilson, Thomas R Marshall, Democratic, 1913-1921
GDP: 147 Nominal GDP (billions of dollars): $88.4 Real GDP (billions of 2005 dollars): $687.7 GDP Deflator (index 2005=100%) 12.85 Population (in thousands): 106,461 Nominal GDP per capita (current dollars): $830 Real GDP per capita (year 2005 dollars): $6,460
Number of Daily Newspapers: 2,441 (1920)
Average Daily Circulation: 33,028,630 (1920)
Method of Choosing Electors: Popular vote (mostly General Ticket/Winner Take All)
Method of Choosing Nominees:
- National party convention;
- Presidential preference primaries
- Return to normalcy (after World War I);
- Economy: high cost of living; unemployment
- League of Nations; (opposition Irish-Americans; German Americans);
- Ethnic issues (Irish Americans, Clan na Gael; opposition to alliance with Britain, Irish independence);
- Discontent with Wilson’s “crusade to make the world safe for American democracy”
Leading Candidates (Nomination/Primaries):
Republican Party Candidates
- Warren G. Harding, Senator (Ohio)
- Leonard Wood, Major General (New Hampshire)
- Frank Orren Lowden, Governor of Illinois
- Hiram Johnson, Senator (California)
- William Cameron Sproul, Governor of Pennsylvania
- Nicholas Murray Butler, Columbia University President and 1912 V.P. nominee (New York)
- Calvin Coolidge, Governor of Massachusetts
- Robert M. La Follette, Sr., Senator (Wisconsin)
Democratic Party candidates:
- James M. Cox, governor of Ohio
- William G. McAdoo, former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury (California)
- Alexander M. Palmer, U.S. Attorney General (Pennsylvania)
- Al Smith, governor of New York
- John W. Davis, U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom (West Virginia)
- Edward I. Edwards, governor of New Jersey
- Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States (New Jersey)
Main Controversies (Nomination/Primaries):
- Referendum on the League of Nations
Campaign Innovations (Nomination/Primaries):
Major Personalities (Nomination/Primaries):
Woodrow Wilson; Theodore Roosevelt; Hiram Johnson;
- Democratic 16, 44.6% delegates
- Republican 20, 57.8% delegates
Republican Party (Jul 01, 1920)
- Hiram W. Johnson 965,651 30.30%
- Leonard Wood 710,863 22.30%
- Frank O. Lowden 389,127 12.21%
- Herbert Clark Hoover 303,815 9.53%
- Unpledged 298,109 9.35%
- Edward R. Wood 257,841 8.09%
- Warren G. Harding 144,762 4.54%
- John Joseph Pershing 45,640 1.43%
- Howard Sutherland 33,849 1.06%
- Others 27,117 0.85%
- William O. Simpson 3,857 0.12%
- Miles Poindexter 3,806 0.12%
- Robert G. Ross 1,698 0.05%
- William Hale Thompson 1,026, 0.03%
Democratic Party (Jul 01, 1920)
- Unpledged 165,460 29.85%
- A Mitchell Palmer 91,543 16.51%
- James Middleton Cox 86,194 15.55%
- William Gibbs McAdoo 74,987 13.53%
- Gilbert M. Hitchcock 37,452 6.76%
- Edward I. Edwards 28,470 5.14%
- Herbert Clark Hoover 28,042 5.06%
- William Jennings Bryan 20,893 3.77%
- Robert G. Ross 13,179 2.38%
- James Watson Gerard 4,706 0.85%
- James O. Monroe 1,906 0.34%
- Woodrow Wilson(I) 931 0.17%
- James Beauchamp “Champ” Clark 548 0.10%
- James Hamilton Lewis 40 0.01%
Socialist Party (Apr 13, 1920)
- Eugene Victor Debs 5,412 99.93%
- Others 4 0.07%
Turning Points (Nomination/Primaries):
- Some Republicans hoped to nominate Theodore Roosevelt for a third term, but he died in January, 1919
- General Leonard Wood sought the Republican nomination after Theodore Roosevelt’s death, his hard-line positions alienated many.
- Hiram Johnson’s prospects were limited because the “Old Guard” blamed him for defecting in 1912 to become Roosevelt’s Progressive Party running mate, and for undermining Charles Hughes in California, which Wilson won so narrowly in 1916.
- Herbert Hoover; Ohio Senator Warren Harding were Dark Horse candidates who entered the primaries.
- Woodrow Wilson’s health problems deterred him from a presumed third term run. He wanted the election to be a “solemn referendum” on the League of Nations and hoped the convention would draft him.
- “Kill it as you would a rattlesnake and smash those who follow it, speak for it, or support it.” General Leonard Wood’s hard-line on Communism
- “I have such a sure understanding of my own inefficiency that I should really be ashamed to presume myself fitted to reach out for a place of such responsibility.” Warren Harding
- “I don’t expect Senator Harding to be nominated on the first, second, or third ballots, but I think we can afford to take chances that about 11 minutes after two, Friday morning of the convention, when 15 or 12 weary men are sitting around a table, someone will say: ‘Who will we nominate?’ At that decisive time, the friends of Harding will suggest him and we can well afford to abide by the result.” Harry M. Daugherty, Harding’s campaign manager before the Republican Convention
Conventions (Dates & Locations):
- Democratic National Convention: June 28-July 6, 1920 Civic Auditorium; San Francisco Joseph T. Robinson (Arkansas) 43rd ballot, James M. Cox (Ohio), Franklin D. Roosevelt (New York)
- Republican National Convention: June 8-12, 1920 Chicago Coliseum; Chicago, 10th ballot, Warren G. Harding (Ohio), Calvin Coolidge (Massachusetts)
Convention Turning Points:
Republican National Convention:
- Wood, Lowden, and Johnson deadlocked at the convention
- Party leaders spent all night in the “smoke-filled room” seeking a compromise.
- Harding’s campaign manager, Harry Daugherty convinced party leaders to support Harding, who “looked like a President.”.
- The delegates nominated Harding the next day on the 10th ballot
- Harding considered mediocre, a “puppet candidate”; “party hack.”
- Delegates rebelled against the bosses’s and Harding’s Vice Presidential choice Senator Irvine Lenroot of Wisconsin. Instead nominated Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge.
- Coolidge known for ending the 1919 Boston police strike, saying: “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.”
Democratic National Convention:
- Twenty-four candidates for the first ballot.
- Four leading candidates; William Gibbs McAdoo, Wilson’s son-in-law and former treasury secretary; Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer; Gov. Alfred E. Smith of New York; and Gov. James M. Cox of Ohio.
- William Gibbs McAdoo was the front-runner. Wilson prevented his nomination, and refused to endorse any candidate, hoping to be drafted when the convention deadlocked.
- Instead, the Democrats nominated Governor James M. Cox, a newspaper editor and for Vice President nominated 38 year-old Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt, a fifth cousin of the late Theodore Roosevelt
- “I feel like a man who goes in on a pair of eights and comes out with aces full.” Warren Harding after his nomination
- “There ain’t any first-raters this year…. we got a lot of second-raters and Warren Harding is the best of the second-raters.” Connecticut Senator Frank Brandegee
Number of Ballots to Choose Nominees:
Republican Party Nomination
Presidential 10th ballot after shifts
- Warren G. Harding 65.5 59 58.5 61.5 78 89 105 133 374.5 644.7 692.2
- Leonard Wood 287.5 289.5 303 314.5 299 311.5 312 299 249 181.5 156
- Frank Lowden 211.5 259.5 282.5 289 303 311.5 311.5 307 121.5 28 11
- Hiram Johnson 133.5 146 148 140.5 133.5 110 99.5 87 82 80.8 80.8
- William C. Sproul 84 78.5 79.5 79.5 82.5 77 76 76 78 0 0
- Nicholas Murray Butler 69.5 41 25 20 4 4 2 2 2 2 2
- Calvin Coolidge 34 32 27 25 29 28 28 30 28 5 5
- Robert M. La Follette 24 24 24 22 24 24 24 24 24 24 24
- Jeter C. Pritchard 21 10 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
- Miles Poindexter 20 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 14 2 0
- Howard Sutherland 17 15 9 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
- Herbert C. Hoover 5.5 5.5 5.5 5 6 5 4 5 6 10.5 9.5
- Scattering 11 9 7 9 9 9 6 6 5 5.5 3.5
Vice Presidential 1st ballot
- Calvin Coolidge 674.5
- Irvine L. Lenroot 146.5
- Henry J. Allen 68.5
- Henry Anderson 28
- Asle J. Gronna 24
- Hiram Johnson 22.5
- Jeter C. Pritchard 11
- Abstaining 9
Democratic Party nomination
Presidential 44th ballot
- James Middleton Cox 700 (35.73%)
- William Gibbs McAdoo 467 (23.84%)
- A Mitchell Palmer 268 (13.68%)
- Alfred E. Smith 109 (5.56%)
- John W. Davis 76 (3.88%)
- Edward I. Edwards 42 (2.14%)
- Robert Latham Owen 41 (2.09%)
- Thomas R. Marshall 37 (1.89%)
- Edwin Thomas Meredith 28 (1.43%)
- Homer Stille Cummings 27 (1.38%)
- Carter Glass 27 (1.38%)
- Furnifold M. Simmons 25 (1.28%)
- James Watson Gerard 21 (1.07%)
- John Sharp Williams 20 (1.02%)
- Sen. Gilbert M. Hitchcock 18 (0.92%)
- Scattering: Remainder
Third Party candidates & nominations:
- Socialist Party: Eugene V. Debs (913,664, 3.4%): Largest amount of actual votes, not percentage, due to the 19th amendment; fifth and last attempt to become president; serving prison sentence (advocating non-compliance with the draft, anti-war speeches); issued weekly statements
- Farmer-Labor Party: Parley P. Christensen (265,411, 1.0%)
- Prohibition Party: Aaron S. Watkins came in fifth with 189,339 votes (0.7%), the Prohibitionists’ poorest showing since 1884. The Eighteenth Amendment imposing Prohibition had been ratified January 16, 1919, making this single-issue party less relevant.
Convention Keynote Speaker:
Nominating Speech Speakers (President):
- Democratic: Joseph T. Robinson (Arkansas)
- Democratic Party: Endorsed: U.S. membership in the League of Nations (“surest, if not the only, practicable means of maintaining the permanent peace of the world”); women’s suffrage; prohibition, the Volstead Act; progressive reforms, labor; government regulation of industry, transportation, conservation; natural resources and immigration. Praise for Wilson’s leadership, legislative record
- Republican Party: placated pro-League Republicans “the Republican party stands for agreement among nations to preserve the peace.” End to lynching; women’s suffrage amendment ratification; foreign policy, “that after a period of unexampled sacrifice, our motives are suspected, our moral influence impaired and our Government stands discredited and friendless among the nations of the world.”
General Election Controversies/Issues:
- League of Nations;
- Republicans’ prodigious fundraising;
- The Nation mocked the two major nominees saying the choice was between “Debs and dubs.”
- Republican Party concealed Harding’s “weakness for women.” Senator Boies Penrose, a Harding supporter, said: “No worries about that! We’ll just throw a halo around his handsome head and everything will be all right.”
Campaign Innovations (General Election):
- Republican Party: The use of national advertisements (extended ad campaign)
- Front porch campaign in Marion, Ohio, received widespread coverage in the newspapers; otherwise Harding did very little campaigning/stumping, gave some ghostwritten speeches.
- Fundraising, organized by Will Hays, the Republican National chairman.
- Emphasis on nostalgia, the “good old times” of the late 19th century, small towns, piety and patriotism
- With Republicans divided about the League of Nations, Harding, ambiguously, supported an “association of nations.”
- Both Cox and Roosevelt stumped. Cox traveled 22,000 miles, addressed two million people, emphasizing his support for Wilson’s League and disgust at Republican fundraising.
Major Personalities (General Election):
Will Hayes, the Republican National chairman; Woodrow Wilson (League of Nations) , Albert D. Lasker, William Wrigley,
Turning Points (General Election):
- A week before Election Day 250,000 copies of “An Open Letter to the Men and Women of America” by W. E. Chancellor spread rumors that Harding was “a West Indian Negro of French stock.”
- Newspapers killed the story, which spread via word of mouth
- Late in the campaign, the Literary Digest magazine mailed millions of postcards to conduct the first Presidential campaign poll and predicted a Republican triumph.
Popular Campaign Slogans:
- Republican Party: “Return to normalcy”; “America First”; “Down with Wilson!”
- Democratic Party: “Cox and Cocktails”
- Republican Party: Harding, You’re the Man for Us (Al Jolson)
Influential Campaign Appeals or Ads:
- Republican Party: Collier’s Magazine, October 30, 1920 “Let’s be done with wiggle and wobble”;
- Nationalistic images “absolute control of the United States by the United States”; “Independence means independence, now as in 1776”; “This country will remain American. Its next President will remain in our own country”; “We decided long ago that we objected to foreign government of our people.”
- “Uncle Tom’s Cabin?”; Sambo asks, “Did yo’ heah de big news, Ephum? Dey done nomernate Mistah Hahding at Chicago.” “Sho! Who’d de white folks nomernate?” Anonymous jokes about Harding’s possible racial background
Money Spent (Each Campaign/Party/Overall):
Defining Quotation (Winning Candidate):
- “America’s present need is not heroics but healing; not nostrums but normalcy; not revolution but restoration . . . not surgery, but serenity.” Warren Harding, original text had the word as normality, Harding pronounced it normalty, the press altered it to normalcy
- Cincinnati Inquirer Reporter asked Harding: “Do you have any Negro blood?” “How do I know, Jim? One of my ancestors may have jumped the fence.” Warren Harding’s response in jest
- “I have such a sure understanding of my own inefficiency that I should really be ashamed to presume myself fitted to reach out for a place of such responsibility.” Warren G. Harding in a letter to a friend about the Republican nomination
Defining Quotation (Losing Candidate):
- “Mr. President, we are going to be a million percent with you, and your administration, and that means the League of Nations.” James Cox to Woodrow Wilson
- “The people, indeed, do not know what ideas Harding or Cox represents; neither do Harding or Cox. Great is democracy.” Brand Whitlock, reporter
- “It wasn’t a landslide, it was an earthquake.” Wilson’s adviser Joseph Tumulty
- “The Man With the Best Story Wins,” Independent, May 22, 1920
Significant books about the campaign:
- Bagby, Wesley M. The Road to Normalcy: The Presidential Campaign and Election of 1920. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1962.
Lasting Legacy of Campaign:
- First time election returns were broadcast live on radio. KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh read telegraph ticker results over the air. Broadcast throughout Eastern United States, but available only to a small percentage of the population with radio receivers.
- Landslide and record breaking victory for Harding/Republicans
- Tennessee was the first of 11 formerly Confederate states to vote Republican, since Reconstruction ended.
- Low voter turnout, because a Harding/Republican was predicted; low turnout of women voters outside the west, in the first election they were eligible to vote, striking lack of interest among Southern women.
- April 4-6, 1917: “Congress debates and votes on a declaration of war against Germany. The Senate approves the declaration on April 4 by a vote of 82-6; on April 6, the House of Representatives passes the resolution by a vote of 373-50. Wilson signs the declaration on April 6.”
- June 26, 1917: First U.S. troops arrive in France at St. Nazaire.
- November 3, 1917: “The first engagement involving U.S. forces in Europe takes place near the Rhine-Marne Canal in France.”
- December 18, 1917: “Congress submits the Eighteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to the states for ratification. The amendment forbids the sale, manufacture, or transport of alcohol except under special circumstances.”
- January 8, 1918: Wilson gives his “14 Points” to Congress outlining peace after the war, the basis of the League of Nations.
- September 30, 1918: “President Wilson addresses the Senate with the message that women’s suffrage was a “vitally necessary war measure.””
- November 5, 1918: Mid-Term Election: the Republican Party takes control of both houses of Congress two-seat majority in the Senate, and 50 seats majority on the House. In addition, the Republicans win many governorships and state legislatures.
- November 11, 1918: “Allied and German military leaders implement an armistice. The new German government issues an appeal to President Wilson to negotiate peace along the lines he enumerated in his Fourteen Points speech.”
- November 18, 1918: “Wilson announces he will attend the Paris Peace Conference.”
- November 21, 1918: “President Wilson signs the Wartime Prohibition Act, banning the manufacture of alcohol for domestic sale effective from June 30, 1919, until demobilization.”
- January 1919: Theodore Roosevelt dies; some Republicans hoped to nominate for the former President for a third term in 1920.
- January 18, 1919: “The Paris Peace Conference opens, two weeks after President Wilson receives glowing welcomes in Rome and Paris.”
- January 29, 1919: “The State Department announces the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution as of January 16, 1919, when Nebraska’s approval achieved the amendment’s required three-fourths majority. A nation-wide ban on the sale, distribution, or production of alcoholic beverages will go into effect on January 16, 1920.”
- February 14, 1919: President Wilson presents his draft for the League of Nations covenant to the Paris Peace Conference.
- May 19, 1919: “Congress adopts the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the franchise. The joint resolution reads: “The right of citizens of the U.S. to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.””
- July 10, 1919: “After failing to secure a peace without rancorous provisions from his fellow Allied leaders, President Wilson submits the Treaty of Versailles and League of Nations to the Senate for ratification. Senatorial deliberation on the treaty will last longer than the Paris Conference itself.”
- August 31, 1919: “The Communist Labor Party of America is founded in Chicago and adopts the platform of the Third International as its own.”
- September 4, 1919: President Wilson embarks on a country-wide speaking tour to gain support for the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations. Although Wilson’s doctor’s advise against such a strenuous trip.
- October 2, 1919: “President Wilson suffers a serious stroke in Wichita, Kansas, in the middle of his national speaking tour and returns to Washington, DC.”
- October 28, 1919: “Congress passes the Volstead Act over President Wilson’s veto to provide enforcement power to the Eighteenth Amendment.”
- November 19, 1919: “After a lengthy national debate, the Treaty of Versailles fails to achieve ratification in the Senate by a vote of 53 to 38.”
- January 10, 1920: League of Nations convenes.
- February 1, 1920: Ohio governor James M. Cox announces his candidacy.
- 1920: New Congress moves quickly to approve a constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote.
- February 26, 1920: Herbert Hoover announces he is not a candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination.
- March 1, 1920: A. Mitchell Palmer formally announces his candidacy, and runs in the Georgia primary.
- March 6, 1920: “Hoover declines to compete in the California Democrat primary.”
- March 9, 1920: Gen. Leonard Wood and Herbert Hoover win the New Hampshire primaries. General Leonard Wood seeks the Republican nomination after Theodore Roosevelt’s death; his hard-line positions alienate many.
- March 14, 1920: Eugene V. Debs announces he will accept the Socialist Party presidential nomination.
- March 15, 1920: Leonard Wood wins Minnesota primary beating both Harding and Hoover.
- March 16, 1920: “Senator Hiram Johnson is unopposed in North Dakota primary.”
- March 17, 1920: “Illinois Gov. Frank O. Lowden wins nomination of the Virginia Republican convention.”
- March 19, 1920: U. S. Senate again rejects Treaty of Versailles 49-35 (with reservations added by Foreign Relations Committee chairman Henry Cabot Lodge).
- March 23, 1920: South Dakota primary, Leonard Wood wins.
- March 25, 1920: “Woodrow Wilson tells Grayson, if drafted he would accept the Democratic Presidential nomination.”
- March 26, 1920: New York World accuses the Wood campaign of spending too much.
- March 30, 1920: “Herbert Hoover wires the California Hoover Club that he will accept the GOP nomination under certain conditions.”
- April 6, 1920: Wisconsin primary, Senator Robert La Follette wins; New York State GOP Primary, unpledged delegates; “Herbert Hoover fails to register in California for the primary.”
- April 7, 1920: Michigan Democratic primary, Hoover wins; Palmer finishes last.
Johnson wins Michigan Republican primary.
- April 14, 1920: First time Wilson presides over his Cabinet since his stroke in 1919.
- Hiram Johnson’s prospects are limited because the “Old Guard” blames him for defecting in 1912 to become Roosevelt’s Progressive Party running mate, and for undermining Charles Hughes in California, which Wilson won so narrowly in 1916.
- Woodrow Wilson’s health problems deter him from a presumed third term run. He wants the election to be a “solemn referendum” on the League of Nations and hopes the convention would draft him.
- Apr 13, 1920: Socialist Party Primaries, Eugene Victor Debs wins.
- April 20, 1920: Senators Hiram Johnson and Gilbert Hitchcock win Nebraska
- April 21, 1920: Anti-Masonic Party Nomination James Edward Ferguson
- April 22, 1920: Illinois and Wisconsin primaries. Frank O. Lowden wins Illinois primary.
- April 23, 1920: Johnson wins Montana primary over Hoover and Harding.
- April 27, 1920: Unpledged delegates win Massachusetts GOP primary.
- April 27, 1920: “Wood narrowly defeats Johnson in New Jersey primary.” Governor Edward Edwards is unopposed in Democratic primary.
- April 27, 1920: Ohio primary: “Senator Warren G. Harding narrowly defeats Leonard Wood. Harry M. Daugherty loses as delegate. James M. Cox unopposed in Democratic primary.”
- May 3, 1920: Maryland primary, Leonard Wood defeats Hiram Johnson.
- May 4, 1920: California primary, Hiram Johnson defeats Herbert Hoover.
- May 5, 1920: Wood wins Indiana primary. Harding finishes fourth.
- May 10, 1920: Socialist Labor Party Convention nominates William Wesley Cox
- May 14, 1920: Socialist Party Convention nominates Eugene Victor Debs, aligns with Lenin’s Third International.
- May 14, 1920: “Harding delivers “normalcy” speech in Boston.”
- May 18, 1920: “Governor Sproul delegates win GOP Pennsylvania primary.”
- May 19, 1920: “Leonard Wood wins non-binding Vermont primary.”
- May 20, 1920: “Senate authorizes investigate on campaign finances.”
- May 20, 1920: “Congress passes a joint resolution declaring an end to the war with Germany. President Wilson vetoes the resolution. (Congress ends state of war by joint resolution (vetoed by Woodrow Wilson).)
- May 21, 1920: Oregon primary, “Hiram Johnson defeats Wood”.
- May 24, 1920: West Virginia primary, “Sen. Howard Sutherland defeats Gen. Leonard Wood.”
- May 30, 1920: (“New York Labor Party (Farmer-Labor Party) nominates Rose
Schneiderman for United States Senate and Mrs. William J. Fink for Comptroller.”)
- June 5, 1920: “Literary Digest poll puts Warren G. Harding eighth among Republican presidential candidates, below even Calvin Coolidge and William Howard Taft.” Late in the campaign, the Literary Digest magazine mailed millions of postcards to conduct the first Presidential campaign poll and predicts a Republican triumph.
- June 8-12, 1920: Republican National Convention convenes at the Chicago Coliseum in Chicago Illinois and nominates on 10th ballot Warren G. Harding (Ohio) for President, and nominates Calvin Coolidge (Massachusetts) for Vice President. On the first day, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge delivers keynote address. Wood, Lowden, and Johnson are deadlocked at the convention. Party leaders spend all night in the “smoke-filled room” seeking a compromise. Harding’s campaign manager, Harry Daugherty convinces party leaders to support Harding, who “looked like a President.” The delegates nominate Harding the next day on the 10th ballot. Harding is considered mediocre, a “puppet candidate”; “party hack.” Delegates rebel against the bosses and Harding’s Vice Presidential choice Senator Irvine Lenroot of Wisconsin. Instead, they nominate Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge.
- June 12, 1920: Warren Harding gives an address accepting the Republican Presidential Nomination.
- Republican Party conceals Harding’s “weakness for women.” Senator Boies Penrose, a Harding supporter, said: “No worries about that! We’ll just throw a halo around his handsome head and everything will be all right.”
- June 18, 1920: “McAdoo announces “irrevocable” decision not to seek presidency.”
- July 22, 1920: Warren G. Harding is notified of Republican Presidential nomination in Marion, Ohio.
- July 27, 1920: Calvin Coolidge is notified of Republican Vice Presidential nomination in Northampton, Massachusetts.
- June 28-July 6, 1920: Democratic National Convention convenes at the Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, California. Joseph T. Robinson (Arkansas) serves as chairman. The convention nominates on the 43rd ballot, James M. Cox (Ohio) for President, Franklin D. Roosevelt (New York) for Vice President. There are twenty-four candidates vying for the nomination on the first ballot. William Gibbs McAdoo is the front-runner, however, Wilson prevents his nomination, and refuses to endorse any candidate, hoping to be drafted when the convention deadlocks. Instead, the Democrats nominate Governor James M. Cox, a newspaper editor and for Vice President nominate 38 year-old Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt, a fifth cousin of the late Theodore Roosevelt.
- July 1, 1920: End Democratic Party Primaries, Unpledged
- July 1, 1920: End Republican Party Primaries, Hiram W. Johnson wins the majority of the primaries.
- July 10-14, 1920: July 13, 1920: Single Tax Party Convention convenes at the Auditorium Hotel in Chicago, Illinois and nominates Robert Colvin Macauley Jr. for President.
- July 15, 1920: Farm Labor Party Convention nominates Parley Parker Christensen for President.
- July 22, 1920: Prohibition Party Convention nominates Aaron S. Watkins. The single-issue party is less relevant since the Eighteenth Amendment imposing Prohibition had been ratified.
- August 8, 1920: Cox is officially notified of the Democratic Presidential nomination; “Cox refuses FDR’s request to sit in on cabinet.”
- August 9, 1920: Franklin D. Roosevelt is officially notified of the Democratic Vice Presidential nomination at Hyde Park.
- August 20, 1920: The Harding campaign announces Lillian Russell will campaign for the Republican ticket, shows a support of women’s rights, in the first Presidential election, where women are universally allowed to vote.
- Harding’s front porch campaign in Marion, Ohio, received widespread coverage in the newspapers; otherwise Harding did very little campaigning/stumping, gave some ghostwritten speeches.
- August 26, 1920: The Nineteenth Amendment officially becomes law, grants women the right to vote.
- August 28, 1920: “In a speech given from his front porch in Marion, Ohio, Harding denounces the League of Nations.” Republicans divided about the League of Nations, Harding, ambiguously, supports an “association of nations.”
- September 7, 1920: Warren Harding begins first campaign tour.
- September 8, 1920: Harding addresses 40,000 people at Minnesota State Fair.
- Both Democratic candidates Cox and Roosevelt stump. Cox travels 22,000 miles, addressed two million people, emphasizing his support for Wilson’s League and disgust at Republican fundraising.
- October 7, 1920: “Harding speaking in Des Moines calls not for “interpretation but rejection” of the league.”
- October 28, 1920: “Calvin Coolidge campaigns in Manhattan; Grace Coolidge leads a torchlight parade in Boston.”
- October 1920: A week before Election Day 250,000 copies of “An Open Letter to the Men and Women of America” by W. E. Chancellor is distributed spreading rumors that Harding was “a West Indian Negro of French stock.” Newspapers kill the story, which is spreading via word of mouth
- October 31, 1920: “HARDING IGNORES ‘WHISPER’ CAMPAIGN; Will Not Authorize His Aids to Take Any Public Notice of the Stories. ADVISERS’ VIEWS DIFFER Nominee Is Said to Have Resented Published Defenses of Himself as Unnecessary. Senator Harding will not authorize his headquarters to take public notice of the “whispering campaign.”” (NYT)
- November 2, 1920, Election Day, Republicans Warren G. Harding is elected President, and Calvin Coolidge is elected Vice President
- January 10, 1921: Presidential Electors cast the electoral vote in their state capitols.