Note: This post is not at all in keeping with the stated themes described in the missiony statement portion of the first post. This is, however, my favorite thing I’ve ever written. It is a modern translation of the proceedings of the 1884 Republican national convention. I read a fair amount of history, and I had also been going through a Gore Vidal kick back in August of 2011 when this was originally drafted. I thought I was very clever at the time. And, apart from an obscure John Madden reference, I think it still holds up. The note at the end makes reference to a potential attempt at Day 2 which never actually got written. Maybe I’ll finally get around to it. Please enjoy responsibly.
Preliminary bull moosery
Theodore Roosevelt’s first real foray into national politics came in 1884 when he was sent to Chicago for the Republican National Convention. Prior to this, his political experience had consisted of working as a New York state assemblyman for two terms. His campaign for civil service reform – indeed, the elimination of corruption in all circles – brought him such attention so as to be selected to serve as a convention delegate. Chet Arthur was the sitting Republican president, but he had made no serious effort to seek the nomination for a second term. It would later be revealed that this was because he was terminally ill. He would, in fact, die within a few short months of leaving office. This opened up the opportunity for any number of characters to pursue the nomination. Much drama and backroom dealing took place at the
1884 REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION
Dwight M. Sabin called the convention to order at 12:28 in the afternoon.
The invocation was then delivered by the Really Reverend Frank M. Bristol.
The call for the convention
The Secretary of the National Committee read the official call for the convention. It was a prepared passage which had been drafted by the committee several whiles prior in order to state the intent to hold such a convention and the means through which it would be carried out. The reading of such a document appears to have largely been a formality, since the convention was already under way. It is unlikely that the delegates present were unaware that they were in attendance to nominate the Republican candidate for President. Unless they were some deaf old Civil War veteran who suffered from, among other things, being old and deaf.
“I remember when all we had to eat was hardtack soaked in piss and some maggoty bacon… oh hello, what is this room full of people voting?”
Dwight Sabin, at this point, having rightly ignored such silliness as demonstrated above, delivered the opening address. He’s from Minnesota – this may be important. He’s also the opening chairman of the convention. This explains why he is calling the convention to order and delivering the opening address without contest. To summarize, Sabin praises the purpose of their gathering. “Welcome to Chicago,” he says. “Chicago is a good city for a Republican convention. It is quite Lincolny.”
The next step was to nominate the temporary chairman – the individual that was to oversee the floor for the actual selection of the candidate. Sabin suggested a one-armed man named Powell Clayton. This was immediately called into question, and the tone of the convention began to establish itself.
John Cabot Lodge (MA): I nominate John Lynch, the Negro statesman from Mississippi.
William Morrow (CA): Must we begin this convention immediately with challenges and conflict? This attempted chairman-substitution flies in the face of all accepted tradition.
George Curtis (NY): I think that it would be a grand gesture to pick Lynch. As he is a Southerner, I believe that he is an important representative of the South.
Josiah Drummond (MN): Why the fuck did you wait until the convention had already begun to start with these weird and subversive nominations. No, no, no, this doesn’t make good football sense. Let’s have a stinkin’ roll call vote.
John Stewart (PA): What is the purpose of nominating Lynch? Is he really so much more qualified than Clayton? I expect not. Therefore, this action must be purely political and, as such, is despicable to me, a politician.
Roswell Horr (MI): Voting as individuals will take forever. Let’s just vote by state and move on, eh?
Benjamin Prentiss (MO): To not pick Clayton would assign a stigma to him. ‘Look at me, country!’ it would say. ‘I’m evidently not fit to point at people who want to speak and tell them that they can speak.’ He is a good man; please be considerate.
Theodore Roosevelt (NY): We have no choice but to pick Lynch. And it is not without precedent to alter traditional convention practices. And since the substitution has been requested, we must considerate it with a vote. And this vote must be performed with a roll call of all individual delegates present; let each man be held to account for his vote. And since so much blood and treasure has been spent to restore the South to the bosom of our nation, let us consider the Southerner in this land of Lincoln.
Clark Carr (IL): If it is true that this committee has selected a poor representative to chair this convention, perhaps we should reconsider. Is Clayton fit for such a task? There are some here who would rather not investigate for fear of alienating an honored and armless veteran.
W.N. Taft (SC): If we are the ones who constitute this convention, and I believe that we are, then we are able to do whatever we want. Let us start with breaking this particular tradition. Many here would claim that Lynch represents the momentum of the party, anyway. Besides the vast majority of the committee isn’t even here in Chicago. If they wish to do us honor, as Southerners, pick Lynch and fuck all.
Patrick Winston (NC): The committee is full of shit anyway.
Chairman Sabin: Fine, whatever. We’ll do the individual roll call.
William Greene (MD): We will do it right now, if you please. I have no problem voting for Lynch. I know for an absolute certainty that my constituents will support my decision.
John Thurston (NE): Need we rush? This process is worth considering in its entirety. It is important, after all. But, if it is to be done thusly, at least let it be done honestly.
Mason Benjamin (AR): You stupid shits: have you forgotten that Clayton used to be governor of Arkansas? If I remember correctly, that is a Southern state. And not only that, he used his authority to bring in the militia and drive the KKK out entirely. Now let’s talk about who has momentum, or whatever.
C.C. Sheets (AL): Great. Now everybody knows each other. Can we vote now?
Chairman: Right, right, everybody shut up. Time for the roll call vote.
The calling of the roll
J.B. Foraker (OH): Whoa, whoa, whoa. We should be allowed to discuss this.
Chairman: Don’t talk. You’re not allowed to talk.
Arkansas: We have 13 votes for Clayton.
Georgia: The great state of Georgia casts her votes for….
Another Georgian: Don’t listen to him. That man isn’t actually a delegate for Georgia. I don’t know why he’s here. I certainly don’t know why he’s voting.
Indiana: We’d like to point out that one of our delegation is here in place of the esteemed war hero General Harrison.
Entire assembly: ahhhhhhhGeneralHarrisonaahhhhhhhhhhhwelovegeneralharrisonuproaruproarahhhhhhh
Chairman: Everybody shut the fuck up. We’re trying to vote. This is already going to take all afternoon.
Massachusetts: A lot of us that are supposed to be here aren’t. It’s making voting difficult.
Chairman: That’s fine, just use the alternates.
Massachusetts: They aren’t here either.
Chairman: Then call the alternates’ alternates.
Massachusetts: Oh yeah.
At this point, the rest of the states vote in their own precarious ways. Clayton withholds his vote until he is the last one. Realizing that Lynch is already up by 39 votes, Clayton votes for Lynch – bringing the margin to a comfortable 40. Lynch is then escorted to the platform by Taft, Lodge, and Clayton.
Address of the temporary chairman
John Lynch (MS): I don’t know why you’ve asked me to do this. Thanks, I guess, but not really. I hope we don’t make any huge mistakes that will jeopardize the future of America.
Formation of standing committees
William Sewall (NJ): Aren’t we supposed to have committees? Call the state roll so that each state can say who is serving where.
Leslie Russell (NY): Wait, isn’t a convention supposed to have a secretary? I think we should have two. Let’s not do anything else until we have two secretaries.
Edward Pierce (MA): I would like to offer an amendment. Let’s create a brand new committee called THE COMMITTEE ON REVISION OF THE APPOINTMENT OF DELEGATES TO FUTURE NATIONAL CONVENTIONS, AND OF MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL COMMITTEE.
Chairman: Uhhh, hold on.
Russell (NY): Secretaries!
*the motion for appointing secretaries carries*
Horr (MI): Can we just agree to do what we did at the last one of these so that we can continue without all of these interruptions?
Formation of Standing Committees (continued)
Chairman: Right then. Shall we call each state separately?
Russell (NY): Don’t be ridiculous.
Chairman: Fair point. Everyone just bring your lists up here, yeah?
George Massey (DE): It’s the way that we did it before. Precedents happen for a reason.
The committees formed included committees on Credentials, Permanent organizations, Rules & Order of Business, and Resolutions.
B.F. Fisher (PA): We should probably postpone recognizing Virginian delegates until such a time as we are actually able to verify their credentials. Some of them looks like some shady motherfuckers.
Chairman: Oh shit, really? Damn it, this whole thing is fucked.
P.H. Carson (DC): This faggot Conger shouldn’t be here representing DC. It pisses me off that he’s here representing DC.
Chairman: I really couldn’t give a rat’s ass. Figure it out on your own.
Curtis (NY): Right in the middle of this is probably as good as time as any to adjourn for the day. So moved.
Pierce (MA): Hold up, I have a resolution.
Revision of appointment of delegates
Pierce (MA): I move that future apportionment of members be referred to the Committee on Rules and Order of Business.
William Johnson (CA): If we’re going to do that, why not move it to Resolutions?
Turner (AL): Can we freakin’ vote already? It feels like forever since we voted. I thought we were here to vote.
E.W. Keyes (WI): Resolutions? Now? Can we at least wait until the convention has officially started? All we’ve done so far is pick who is going to write everything down.
Pierce (MA): Fuck off, let’s get this out of the way.
Bayne (PA): Ok, first of all, referring it to Resolutions is inappropriate since that committee deals with determining the principles that the party will carry throughout the development of the campaign and platform. Secondly, you’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny.
Johnson (CA): You make a fair point. Consider my motion withdrawn.
Curtis (MA): Speaking of committees, does anyone know where they’re supposed to meet?
Chairman: Stay here after we adjourn. Everyone in your committee will still be here; find them and pick a place.
Curtis (MA): Great! Can we adjourn, then?
Russell (NY): Wait. I really need to introduce
OWNERSHIP OF REALTY BY FOREIGNERS
Chairman: Fine, bring it forward.
W.G. Donnan (Iowa (Do not know the two-letter code for Iowa (I tried IO, IW, and IA. They all look wrong))): Before we proceed, I would like to read a memorial to the women of the temperance league.
David McClure (CA): Just send it to a committee, dingus.
Donnan (Iowa): Oh, come in. It’s really short.
Horr (MI): I have something longwinded to say concerning the reading of this memorial.
McClure (CA): whoawhoawhoa, fuck, motion withdrawn. It’ll take longer to debate you than it will to read the fuckin thing.
Horr (MI): Ahem, as I was saying, I move that no one gets to read any resolutions at all and that they all get sent to committees instead.
Chairman: Brilliant. What then of the memorial?
Donnan (Iowa): Just let me read the damned thing.
A voice calls from somewhere in the room: I object!
Lampson (OH): I move that we suspend whatever rules are keeping this man from reading the memorial.
John Gilbert (NY): Point of order – there is no rule keeping him from reading. Some of yous are just being dicks.
Chairman: I see. Go ahead, Mr. Secretary, please read the memorial.
Secretary: The Women’s Christian Temperance Union of the United States hopes that you will consider the objectives of the temperance movement in your convention.
Chairman: Thank God that’s over. Sent it to committee.
Bayne (PA): Finally. Let’s adjourn.
Chairman: We will, but first we have to deal with
OWNERSHIP OF REALTY BY FOREIGNERS
Secretary: This resolution reads in such a way as to suggest that the Irish National League be given a hearing before the Resolutions committee to discuss some crap about foreigners owning realty.
Chairman: Ok ,great. Sure. You can have a hearing.
Bayne (PA): I move to recess.
Shelby Cullom (IL): Let me say something first.
Bayne (PA): k.
Cullom (IL): One of our guys that was absent before just got here and he says that he would have voted for Clayton.
Bayne (PA): Recess?
END OF THE FIRST DAY OF THE 1884 REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION
But perhaps without as many swears. They were thinking them, though. At least we can see that politics has always been a fluid and organized creature. I can’t imagine why anyone would be dissatisfied with the flow of the above meeting. Stay tuned for Day 2. It could possibly be tomorrow, although Wednesday is New Comic Book Day, so we’ll see.
Did everyone take care to note Roosevelt’s contribution? Rather inspiring, yes? Not bad for the first words he spoke in a national forum.