Will Rogers’ Nomination Speech

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Will Rogers, two years before in 1922

After the methodical calm of the three-day Republican Party’s Convention in Cleveland a month before, the raucous and unhinged Democrat Party’s gathering in New York City could not have furnished a greater illustration in contrasts. The crowded field of candidates was only one of the concerns with vast disagreements brewing over the platform and baneful persistence of the Party’s two-thirds majority rule to approve business. The choice of one candidate would prove to be the worst sticking point for the delegates assembled at Madison Square Garden that July. Before the balloting even began, Will Rogers, in characteristically dry fashion, remarked that he missed five nominations alone one morning after arriving late to the convention hall.

It became such a circus that he composed a nominating speech for publication in the New York Times the day just before July 4th, ten long days after the Party had first convened. Rogers offers, in customary fashion for nominations of the time, his candidate of choice who remains nameless until the very last phrase.

He wrote,

“The man I am about to name is the only man in these grand and glorious United States who, if we nominate, we can go home and have no worry as to the outcome. Don’t, oh, my Democratic Colleagues listen to my friend [William Jennings] Bryan. He named ten candidates; ten men can’t win! Only one man can win. Oh, my newly made friends, have confidence in me. Trust me just this once and I will lead you out of this darkness and wilderness into the gates of the White House. Oh, my tired and worn friends, there is only one man. That man I am about to name to you is Calvin Coolidge.”

Of course, presented as it was to Democrats, it was proposed only half-seriously. He knew they would never seriously consider it, especially after mindlessly demonizing Cal and the Republicans for months leading up to this moment. Still, as conversant as Will Rogers was with humor, he knew the best jokes retained a kernel of truth. In Rogers’ estimation, when it came to Cal, there was a whole lot more than a single grain of merit there. Coolidge was an entire bumper crop of good sense and practical wisdom. He was exactly what the nation needed. The country certainly thought so too that November, electing Mr. Coolidge to his own four-year term in what for all intents and purposes was a landslide victory.

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