PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & ELECTIONS
OVERVIEWS & CHRONOLOGIES: 1928
By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS
Election Year: 1928
Election Day Date: November 6, 1928
Herbert Hoover, Charles Curtis, Republican 21,427,123 58.21% 444 83.6%
Alfred Smith, Joseph Robinson, Democratic 15,015,464 40.80% 87 16.4%
Norman Thomas, James Maurer, Socialist 267,478 0.73% 0 0.0%
Other (+) – – 96,947 0.26% 0 0.0%
Voter Turnout: 56.9%
Central Forums/Campaign Methods for Addressing Voters:
Stumping; Whistle-stop tour, public speeches; Radio addresses
Election Law/Campaign Finance Changes:
Incumbent President and Vice President on Election Day:
Calvin Coolidge, Charles G Dawes, Republican, 1923-1929
GDP: 173 Nominal GDP (billions of dollars): $97.4 Real GDP (billions of 2005 dollars): $921.3 GDP Deflator (index 2005=100%) 10.57 Population (in thousands): 120,509 Nominal GDP per capita (current dollars): $808 Real GDP per capita (year 2005 dollars): $7,645
Number of Daily Newspapers: 2,086 (1930)
Average Daily Circulation: 42,947,824 (1930)
Households with Radio: 12,049,000 (1930)
Method of Choosing Electors: Popular vote
Method of Choosing Nominees:
- National Party Conventions;
- Presidential preference primaries
Central Issues (Nomination/Primaries):
- Economy (prosperity except among farmers); Prohibition
Leading Candidates (Nomination/Primaries):
Republican Party Candidates:
Herbert Hoover, U.S. Secretary of Commerce (California)
Frank Lowden, former governor of (Illinois)
Charles Curtis, U.S. Senate Majority Leader (Kansas)
Democratic Party candidates:
- Al Smith, governor (New York)
- Cordell Hull, U.S. representative (Tennessee)
- James A. Reed, U.S. senator from (Missouri)
- Atlee Pomerene, former U.S. senator (Ohio)
Main Controversies (Nomination/Primaries):
Popular President and Republican Calvin Coolidge refused to run for another term
Campaign Innovations (Nomination/Primaries):
Major Personalities (Nomination/Primaries): Calvin Coolidge; William Gibbs McAdoo;
Primaries: Ebbtide of presidential primaries, neither of the party’s candidates actively campaigned for any of the primaries where their name appeared on the ballot.
- Democratic 17, 42.2 delegates
- Republican 16, 44.9 delegates
Republican Party (Jul 01, 1928)
Hoover had his name on the ballots of 8 primaries
- Herbert Clark Hoover: 2,045,928, 49.73%
- Frank O. Lowden: 1,317,799, 32.03%
- George W. Norris: 259,548, 6.31%
- James E. Watson : 228,795, 5.56%
- Guy D. Goff: 128,429, 3.12%
- Frank B. Willis: 84,461, 2.05%
- Calvin Coolidge(I): 12,985, 0.32%
- Charles G. Dawes, 12,297, 0.30%
- Olin J. Ross, 8,280, 0.20%
- Unpledged: 5,426, 0.13%
- Others: 5,185, 0.13%
- Alfred E. Smith: 3,249, 0.08%
- Alvan Tufts Fuller: 1,686, 0.04%
- William E. Borah: 206, 0.01%
Democratic Party: (Jul 01, 1928)
Smith had his name on the ballots of 7 primaries
- Alfred E. Smith: 515,389, 40.75%
- Unpledged: 247,124, 19.54%
- James A. Reed: 207,799, 16.43%
- Evans Woollen: 146,934, 11.62%
- Thomas J. Walsh: 60,243, 4.76%
- Gilbert M. Hitchcock: 51,019, 4.03%
- Atlee Pomerene: 13,957, 1.10%
- A. V. “Vic” Donahey: 7,935, 0.63%
- Alonzo F. Workman: 6,670, 0.53%
- William Gibbs McAdoo, 213, 0.02%
- Edwin Thomas Meredith, 57, 0.00%
- Henry Thomas Rainey, 16, 0.00%
- James Thomas Heflin: 6, 0.00%
Turning Points (Nomination/Primaries):
- Calvin Coolidge, although still a popular President, whose re-election was likely announces he will not run for another term;
- Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover wanted to run for the Republican nomination feared that Coolidge might still run or be drafted at the convention.
- After assurances from Coolidge, Hoover ran in the Republican primaries, winning almost half the contests and amassing 400, 77% delegates going into the convention. Hoover was the first Quaker to be nominated for President by a major party.
- Democratic Party: William Gibbs McAdoo announced in 1927 he would not seek the nomination “in the interest of party unity”; to avoid a rematch of the ballot battle between McAdoo and Alfred Smith; Alfred Smith became the frontrunner
Conventions (Dates & Locations):
- Republican National Convention: June 12-15, 1928 Convention Hall; Kansas City 1st ballot, Herbert C. Hoover (California), Charles Curtis (Kansas)
- Democratic National Convention: June 26-29, 1928 Sam Houston Hall; Houston, Joseph T. Robinson (Arkansas) 1st ballot, Alfred E. Smith (New York), Joseph T. Robinson (Arkansas)
Convention Turning Points:
- Frank Lowden (Former Governor Illinois) withdrew from contention for the Presidential nomination just prior to the start of the convention, giving Hoover frontrunner status;
- Draft Charles Dawes in case of deadlock; Coolidge sent a telegram “personal affront” to nominate Charles Dawes as Vice President for a second term
- Senator Charles Curtis (Kansas) was the first vice-presidential candidate with Indian blood
- William Gibbs McAdoo withdrew in 1927 to maintain party unity
- Left Al Smith the front-runner, on the first ballot he was 10 votes short of the necessary two thirds majority, until Ohio switched votes
- First Roman Catholic nominated for President Senate Minority Leader Joseph T. Robinson of Arkansas nominated for Vice President on first ballot
Number of Ballots to Choose Nominees:
Republican Party Nomination
Presidential 1st ballot
- Herbert Hoover 837
- Frank O. Lowden 74
- Charles Curtis 64
- George W. Norris 24
- Guy D. Goff 18
- Calvin Coolidge 17
- Charles G. Dawes 4
- Charles E. Hughes 1
Vice Presidential 1st ballot
- Charles Curtis 1,052
- Herman L. Ekern 19
- Charles G. Dawes 13
- James E. Watson 45
- Hanford MacNider 2
Democratic Party Nomination
Presidential 1st ballot
- Alfred E. Smith 849.17
- Cordell Hull 71.84
- Walter F. George 52.5
- James A. Reed 52
- Atlee Pomerene 47
- Jesse H. Jones 43
- Evans Woollen 32
- Byron P. Harrison 20
- William A. Ayres 20
- Richard C. Watts 18
- Gilbert M. Hitchcock 16
- A Victor Donahey 5
- Houston Thompson 2
- Theodore G. Bilbo 1
Vice Presidential 1st ballot
- Joseph T. Robinson 1,035.17
- Alben W. Barkley 77
- Nellie T. Ross 31
- Henry T. Allen 28
- George L. Berry 17.5
- Dan J. Moody 9.33
- Duncan U. Fletcher 7
- John H. Taylor 6
- Lewis G. Stevenson 4
- Evans Woollen 2
- Joseph P. Tumulty 1
Third Party Candidates & Nominations:
- Prohibition Party nomination: (Chicago July 10-12) William F. Varney over Hoover by a margin of 68–45 Considered endorsing pro-Prohibition Hoover
Convention Keynote Speaker:
Nominating Speech Speakers (President):
- Democratic Party: Franklin Roosevelt nominated Smith as the “happy warrior”
- Republican Party: lower taxes; protective tariff; Enforce 18th Amendment; “observance and vigorous enforcement of the Eighteenth Amendment” Prohibition; a Federal Farm Board; campaign finance disclosure; “home rule” self-reliance, strong local government
- Democratic Party: agriculture, Federal Farm Board, loans to farmers, isolationism (Latin America) ; major public works programs to resolve unemployment, Flood control projects; “fundamental changes in the present provisions for national prohibition”
General Election Controversies/Issues:
- Two different candidates representing different sides of America: Smith: city, East, Catholic, informal, “wet”; Hoover: country, West, Protestant, reserved, “dry.”
- Religious bigotry; Alfred Smith (Catholicism, anti-Prohibitionism, association with Tammany Hall): Despite Smith’s insistence on the separation of church and state, his Catholicism was the biggest issue in the whole campaign (Ku Klux Klan claims Pope with taker over the White House; burning crosses; anti-Catholic rallies);
- Smith’s Anti-Prohibitionism, association with the perceived corrupt Tammany Hall made him unpopular in the mid-West among farmers
- Agriculture most depressed part of the economy
Campaign Innovations (General Election):
- Use of radio addresses to reach mass numbers of voters, became important for campaigning
Major Personalities (General Election): Theodore Bilbo; John J. Raskob; John Roach Straton
- Hoover used radio addresses, statesman addresses to the nation
- Hoover campaigned on the “American system” of free enterprise key to continued prosperity
- As if he was above politics
- Smith vigorous campaign, less use of radio, whistle-stop tour
- Smith tried to woo the business vote to the Democrats, support for protective tariffs, wealthy business men on his staff, picked millionaire John J. Raskob, in the councils of General Motors and du Pont as his campaign manager, however, Raskob was a wet and a Catholic
Turning Points (General Election):
- On September 29, Smith was to give a speech on religious intolerance in Oklahoma City and was greeted with fiery KKK crosses along the route and hostility in the auditorium. Next evening popular evangelist John Roach Straton gave a speech on “Al Smith and the Forces of Hell”
- Prohibition stance: Smith’s position put in the ire of the Anti-Saloon League, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, militant dry groups, called “Al-coholic”
- Tammany Hall association: Tarnished Smith in the South and West, Party machines represent all that was wrong with the east, large urban centers
- Smith’s Catholicism gained him votes in the Republican and Catholic Massachusetts and Rhode Island; immigrant vote; lost votes in the South to Hoover because of Catholicism, anti-Prohibition stance; association with Tammany Hall
- Hoover also gained African American votes in the South (perceived support for integration). During the campaign, Mississippi Senator Theodore Bilbo recounted Hoover danced with a black member of the Republican National Committee
Popular Campaign Slogans:
- Republican Party: Herbert Hoover “A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage”
- Democratic Party: Al Smith: “Sidewalks of New York”
- Republican Party: Herbert Hoover: If He’s Good Enough for Lindy
Influential Campaign Appeals or Ads:
- “Rum, Romanism and Ruin.” Ku Klux Klan against Smith’s Catholicism
Money Spent (Each Campaign/Party/Overall):
Defining Quotation (Winning Candidate):
- “We in America today are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of any land. The poorhouse is vanishing from among us. We have not yet reached the goal, but, given a chance to go forward with the policies of the last eight years, and we shall soon, with the help of God, be in sight of the day when poverty will be banished from this nation. . . .” Herbert Hoover, Acceptance Letter, Republican Presidential Nomination, Aug 20, 1928 (published)
- “Our country has deliberately undertaken a great social and economic. experiment, noble in motive and far–reaching in purpose. It must be worked out constructively.” Herbert Hoover about Prohibition
- “Nothing could be so out of line with the spirit of America. Nothing could be so contradictory to our whole history.” Herbert Hoover
Defining Quotation (Losing Candidate):
- “I have taken an oath of office nineteen times. Each time I swore to defend and maintain the Constitution of the United States. . . . I have never known any conflict between my official duties and my religious beliefs.” Al Smith about his Catholic religion never interfering with duties as a public official
- “Not that Governor Smith is a Catholic and a wet which makes him an offense to villagers and town dwellers, but because his record shows the kind of President he would make — a Tammany President. Tammany is Tammany, and Smith is its prophet. . . . The whole Puritan civilization which has built a sturdy, orderly nation is threatened by Smith.” William Allen White
- “I do not choose to run for President in 1928.” Calvin Coolidge, August 1927
Significant Books about the Campaign:
- Allan J. Lichtman, Prejudice and the Old Politics: The Presidential Election of 1928, Lexington Books, 2000.
Lasting Legacy of Campaign:
- Republican landslide
- Democrat Alfred Smith was the first Catholic to run for the Presidency on a major party ticket
- The first time the Republicans won the majority of Southern vote since Ulysses S. Grant, first time Texas voted Republican
- May 10, 1926: “The U.S. Marines land in Nicaragua to quiet a revolt. America military forces will maintain a presence in Nicaragua until 1933.”
- December 28, 1926: HENRY BRECKENRIDGE writes in the New York Times “GOV. SMITH’S AVAILABILITY.; His Catholic, Tammany and Wet Affiliations Are Discussed.”
- January 1, 1927: In his gubernatorial inaugural address New York Governor Al Smith essentially announces his intention to run for the Presidency in 1928.
- August 2, 1927: Concerned that four more years in office might appear to some observers as a third term as President, Coolidge ends any talk of his candidacy for the 1928 election stating, “I do not choose to run.” “I do not choose to run for President in 1928.” Calvin Coolidge, although still a popular President, whose re-election was likely announces he will not run for another term.
- May 14, 1927: New York Times “PRINTS SMITH’S ANSWER.; Vatican Organ Publishes Article on Church and State Letter.”
- 1927: Democrat William Gibbs McAdoo announces he will not seek the nomination “in the interest of party unity”; to avoid a rematch of the ballot battle between McAdoo and Alfred Smith; Alfred Smith becomes the frontrunner
- January 18, 1928: U. S. Congressional Record, 70th Cong., 1st Sess., Tom Heflin’s “tar and feather” speech.
- January 23, 1928:? Arkansas’ Senator Robinson complains that for “a dozen times,” Heflin gives “anti-Catholic speech” to the Senate.
- March 30, 1928: Senator Frank Willis of Ohio announces his candidacy for the nomination as well, but his campaign was cut short when he dies
- The Prohibition Party in California even listed Hoover as its Presidential nominee.
- Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover wanted to run for the Republican nomination feared that Coolidge might still run or be drafted at the convention.
- April 16, 1928: “Dr. S.E. Nicholson, Associate State Superintendent and National Secretary of the Anti-Saloon League address on “Shall the Churches Drop the Anti-Saloon League?” at the Throop Avenue Presbyterian Church, Brooklyn,” “concedes that Governor Smith “will be the probable choice, of the Houston convention,”” the dry’s will ensure if Smith would not win the election if he is nominated.
- April 17, 1928: Socialist Party Convention nominates Norman Mattoon Thomas for President.
- May 22, 1928: Socialist Labor Party Convention nominates Verne L. Reynolds for President.
- May 26, 1928: Workers Party Convention nominates William Zebulon Foster for President
- July 1, 1928: End Democratic Primaries Alfred E. Smith Hoover has his name on the ballots of 8 primaries.
- July 1, 1928: End Republican Primaries Herbert Clark Hoover Smith has his name on the ballots of 7 primaries. Hoover wins almost half the contests and amasses 400, 77% delegates going into the convention. Hoover is the first Quaker to be nominated for President by a major party.
- June 12-15, 1928: Republican National Convention convenes at Convention Hall in Kansas City, Missouri and nominates on the 1st ballot Herbert C. Hoover (California) for President, Charles Curtis (Kansas) for Vice President. Frank Lowden (Former Governor Illinois) withdraws from contention for the Presidential nomination, just prior to the start of the convention, giving Hoover frontrunner status. The convention considers drafting Charles Dawes in case of deadlock. Coolidge sends a telegram that it would be a “personal affront” to nominate Charles Dawes as Vice President for a second term. Senator Charles Curtis (Kansas) is the first vice-presidential candidate with Indian blood.
- June 26-29, 1928: Democratic National Convention convenes at Sam Houston Hall in Houston, Texas. Joseph T. Robinson (Arkansas) serves as chairman 1st ballot, Alfred E. Smith (New York), Joseph T. Robinson (Arkansas) The Democratic Party held its most unified convention since 1916. Al Smith the front-runner, on the first ballot he was 10 votes short of the necessary two thirds majority, until Ohio switched votes. First Roman Catholic nominated for President Senate Minority Leader Joseph T. Robinson of Arkansas nominated for Vice President on first ballot
- July 10-12, 1928: Prohibition Party Convention convenes in Chicago, and considers endorsing pro-Prohibition Hoover. Convention nominates William Frederick Varney over Hoover by a margin of 68–45 for President.
- July 18, 1928: John A. McSparran replies to Raskob’s letter and demands John J. Raskob resignation for Democratic National Chairman, and Governor Alfred E. Smith, Democratic nominee for President.
- July 24, 1928: John J. Raskob, the new Chairman of the Democratic National Committee resigns in a letter from his position as Chairman of the Finance Committee of the General Motors Corporation after criticism that it is conflicting that he is holding both a business executive position and public political position.
- Smith conducts a vigorous campaign, less use of radio, whistle-stop tour; Smith tried to woo the business vote to the Democrats, support for protective tariffs, wealthy business men on his staff, picks millionaire John J. Raskob, in the councils of General Motors and du Pont as his campaign manager, however, Raskob was a wet and a Catholic
- August 2, 1928: “Dr. S.E. Nicholson, Associate Superintendent of the Anti-Saloon League sends open letter to Governor Smith. Smith’s prohibition position put in the ire of the Anti-Saloon League, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, militant dry groups, called “Al-coholic”” (NYT)
- August 11, 1928: Hoover gives his acceptance address; “In this land, dedicated to tolerance, we still find outbreaks of intolerance. I come of Quaker stock. My ancestors were persecuted for their beliefs. Here they sought and found religious freedom. By blood and conviction I stand for religious tolerance both in act and in spirit. The glory of our American ideals is the right of every man to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience.”
- August 27, 1928: “The Kellogg-Briand Pact, or the Pact of Paris, as it was also known, is signed by the United States and fifteen other nations. Named for its two principal authors, Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg and French foreign minister Aristide Briand, the pact outlaws war as a means to settle disputes, substituting diplomacy and world opinion for armed conflict. Ultimately signed by 62 nations, the pact is more symbolic than practical, though Kellogg would win the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts the following year.
- August 22, 1928: Al Smith gives an address accepting the Democratic Presidential nomination at the State Capitol, Albany, New York.
- September 6, 1928: Farm Labor Party Convention nominates Frank E. Webb for President.
- October 1, 1928: Anti-Masonic Home Progressive Party Convention results in no nominee.
- September 7, 1928: The newly formed Ohio conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church today unanimously adopted a resolution endorsing the candidacy of Herbert Hoover, Republican nominee for President.
- Hoover uses radio addresses, statesman addresses to the nation; Hoover campaigns on the “American system” of free enterprise as the key to continued prosperity; as if he was above politics.
- September 29, 1928: Smith gives a speech on religious intolerance in Oklahoma City and is greeted with fiery KKK crosses along the route and hostility in the auditorium. Despite Smith’s insistence on the separation of church and state, his Catholicism is the biggest issue in the whole campaign (Ku Klux Klan claims Pope with taker over the White House; burning crosses; anti-Catholic rallies); Smith’s Anti-Prohibitionism, association with the perceived corrupt Tammany Hall made him unpopular in the mid-West among farmers.
- September 30, 1928: Next evening popular evangelist John Roach Straton gives a speech on “Al Smith and the Forces of Hell.”
- Oct. 3, 1928: Al Smith gives a speech on religious tolerance in Oklahoma’s capital causes controversy. “Democratic Organization Is Now on the Offensive on the Religious Issue” (NYT)
- October 14, 1928: “PRESENT CAMPAIGN FEATURED BY DISREGARD OF ESSENTIALS; Lack of Outstanding Issue and Excellence of Candidates Have Made Democracy and Obsession the Opponents” (NYT)
- October 16, 1928: A survey taken in the Midwestern states lean predict a Republican Hoover victory in the Presidential election. The race however with Democratic candidate Smith is close, 14 states are undecided and 5 states lean towards Smith. (“TEMPERS OPTIMISM FOR HOOVER IN WEST; Manager Good at Chicago Says Republicans Will Win, but Only After Fight. HIS AIDES PREDICT SWEEP But Survey Shows 14 States, With, 115 Electoral Votes, Listed as Doubtful. SMITH IS STRONG IN FIVE To These, Contested Throughout Campaign, Illinois is Added by Democratic Spurt There. His Aides See Victory Ahead. Survey of “Doubtful” States. Others Listed for Hoover. Nebraska Rests With Norris. Illinois Claims Are Contested. Smith’s Prospects in Illinois.”)
- During the campaign, Mississippi Senator Theodore Bilbo recounts Hoover danced with a black member of the Republican National Committee, which helps Hoover with the African American vote.
- October 1928: Hoover gives an address at Madison Square Garden accusing Smith of advancing policies as Governor of New York that “savored of State socialism.”
- October 24, 1928: “Henry Morgenthau, former Ambassador to Turkey gives a radio address which is broadcast by WEAF. He assails Herbert Hoover’s attack on Governor Smith as a “Socialist,”” for preventing the Water Power Scandal.” (NYT)
- October 24, 1928: Al Smith gives an address in Boston, which comments on Hoover’s accusation that his policies are Socialist.
- October 25, 1928: Herbert Hoover refuses to comments on Smith’s reaction to Hoover’s Socialist comments.
- October 27, 1928: “Senator George W. Norris delivers in the Municipal Auditorium in Omaha, Nebraska his first speech since he bolted the Republican Presidential candidacy. He calls upon all Progressives to support Governor Smith as the follower of the tradition of Theodore Roosevelt.” (NYT)
- October 28, 1928: Al Smith campaigns in Maryland. Smith and his family guest at Raskob’s estate in Delaware. A survey in Pennsylvania is leaning towards voting for Smith.
- November 1, 1928: John J. Raskob, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee charges the Republican Party for spreading and instigating the anti-Catholicism and religious bigotry in the campaign. (“RASKOB CHARGES REPUBLICANS AID ANTI-CATHOLIC WAR; Writes Work and Hoover Party Aides Promote Spreading of ‘Scurrilous Literature.’ SENDS FOUR AFFIDAVITS And Copy of Letter Signed by Moses Asking Publication of ‘Red Hot Stuff.’”) (NYT)
- November 2, 1928: Hoover gives his last address of the campaign in St. Louis, Missouri.
- November 5, 1928: Charles Evans Hughes attacks Smith in his last radio address of the campaign from his home at l,020 Fifth Avenue. Hughes claims Smith does not have the experience and knowledge on the issues that affect the majority of Americans; “no foreign, tariff or farm policy.”
- November 6, 1928: Election Day, Republicans Herbert Hoover is elected President and Charles Curtis is elected Vice President. Voter turnout increases 30% from the 1924 race. Smith’s Catholicism gains him votes in the Republican and Catholic Massachusetts and Rhode Island; immigrant vote; lost votes in the South and West to Hoover because of Catholicism, anti-Prohibition stance; association with Tammany Hall; Hoover also gains African American votes in the South (perceived support for integration).
- November 19, 1928: President-elect Herbert Hoover begins a seven-week “Good Will Tour” of eleven Latin American countries. President-elect Hoover wants to improve relations with the southern republics and he receives a cordial welcome during his visits. The president-elect returned to the United States on January 6, 1929.
- January 2, 1929: Presidential Electors cast the electoral vote in their state capitol.
- February 13, 1929: Joint Session of Congress meets to count the electoral votes.