Monday, March 9, 2020

The 1920 Election for Harding and Normalcy

Who outside of specialists knows very much about the Presidential campaign of 1920?

Declared Presidential Candidates
January 2nd, 1920
The candidates were not memorable in any longer historical narrative of general interest.

The man who was elected President, Warren G. Harding, came out of a contested convention, and emerged only after multiple ballots.

June 12th, 1920
At least initially, the afternoon paper was not a fan of Harding's slogan for a "return to normalcy."

Editorial critical of Harding and Normalcy
August 25th, 1920
The piece ends underscoring the ironic reading of "normalcy":
Now the cry is for a return to the "normalcy" of pre-Roosevelt and pre-Wilson days, to the era when Wall street gamblers controlled our national finances and big business our politics; to the days of protective tariff graft, when a full dinner pail, provided he voted right, was all there was in life for the laboring man; to the days when wealth went untaxed and children manned factories and all the similar blessings of that blessed era of "normalcy" Senator Harding represents.
Some of our problems, like big business, seem perennial and rhyme, but others like climate change do not.

But as we find ourselves in a crisis moment, it may be that the election of 1920 is more interesting now than had seemed it was likely to be just a few years ago.

It is also interesting for a local angle. There was a great interest here in recruiting Herbert Hoover for the 1920 election. The afternoon paper started running editorials in the Fall of 1919 and kept going into 1920.

February 28th, 1920
We will come back to this, as the image of Hoover as a former Salemite was interesting then, and it remains of interest today.

Late in life at the old City Hall - via Twitter

Marker at the childhood home of Herbert Hoover


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

The City's site for the Historic Preservation Plan update has a photo of Hoover's old house and captions, "[the] home to the 31st president of the United States (1929-33), was located on the intersection of Highland and Hazel avenues. Hoover lived from 1874-1954." Other citations have suggested that underneath that mansarded thing are the bones of the old house and that it was a very thorough remodel. I'm not sure it has ever been determined definitively how much if anything of the old house remains.

Jim Scheppke said...

The fact that we allowed this historic home to be destroyed is an abomination. What were they thinking? Hoover's home in Newberg is a tourist attraction. We could have had a great tourist attraction here too.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

The disposition of that house here is such a strange Salem mystery, you are right!