Whenever Political Conventions Go Wild: four Knock-Down, Drag-Out Convention Floor Fights

1 . The Convention Turned Klanbake

For People in america accustomed to today’ s tame, scripted political conventions, the 1924 Democratic Convention went down more like a taping of The Jerry Springer Show . On one side was New York Governor Al Jones, supported by urban, Catholic voters who favored his efforts to repeal prohibition. On the other side was previous Treasury Secretary William McAdoo, who have drew the rural, Protestant, anti-alcohol supporters— a contingent that incorporated the Ku Klux Klan.

A powerful political force at the time, the Klan had vowed to defeat the Catholic Smith. As politicians on both sides made messages on the convention floor, hooded Klansmen standing outside burned a cross and defaced effigies of Jones. When a group of outraged delegates motioned to officially condemn the Klan for its actions, the convention plunged into chaos, with pro- plus anti-Klan delegates shouting each other off the podium and breaking into noisy parades. Eventually, police had to be called in to restore order. The Klan measure failed by just one vote, yet that was only a prelude to the nomination fight.

The delegates voted a record 103 times, along with neither Smith nor McAdoo able to secure a majority. After 16 violent days, both candidates agreed to step aside, and the party settled upon another nominee— former Solicitor General John Davis.

2 . The Southerners Stage a Walk-Out

The 1860 Democratic Convention was obviously a civil war all its own. Southern Democrats faced off with their North counterparts, demanding that the party promote a federal slavery code. When none side budged, the debate digressed into a convention-wide shouting match. “ The house was in an uproar, ” noted one reporter, with “ a hundred delegates upon the floor and up on chairs, screaming like panthers and gesticulating like monkeys. ” When it finally appeared that the Northerners had enough votes to kill the slavery platform, the Southerners responded by walking out. September-October 2008 issue of mental_floss magazine.

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