In the 1924 presidential election, the two major parties did something that would be unthinkable today:
They both nominated staunch conservative candidates.
Leading the Republican ticket was Calvin Coolidge, who had ascended to the presidency a year earlier, on the death of Warren Harding. The Democrats chose John W. Davis as their standard bearer. Little remembered today, Davis was a brilliant lawyer who had served as congressman, solicitor general of the United States, and ambassador to Great Britain.
1924 provides a fascinating look at this pivotal but largely forgotten election. Garland S. Tucker III's page-turning history reveals how both Coolidge and Davis articulated a philosophy of limited government and individual freedom. Both were exemplary public servants as well.
Tucker makes a powerful case that this showdown marked the “high tide of American conservatism.
It also represented the last gasp of the Progressive movement: Senator Robert M. La Follette, a progressive Republican, ran as a third-party candidate.
The polarization so familiar to Americans today began after this election. The Democratic Party moved leftward while the Republicans shifted to the right. La Follette died only months after the 1924 vote. But his progressive heirs would find a home among Democrats rather than with the GOP.
This updated edition marks the 100th anniversary of the historic 1924 election. Tucker casts new light on the candidates, the campaign, and the election's enduring consequences.
As Democrats and Republicans move further apart, every American―conservative or liberal―will benefit from understanding the 1924 election.