Battle Today Is Like That of 1776, He Says, With New Set of ‘Royalists’ in Power
Reprinted July 10, 2000
By ARTHUR KROCK at the 1936 Democratic Convention
Special to The New York Times
FRANKLIN FIELD, PHILADELPHIA, June 27. — Under a cloud-veiled moon, in skies suddenly cleared of rain, to a mass of more than 100,000 people gathered in the stadium of the University of Pennsylvania, and by radio to unnumbered millions all over the nation and world, Franklin Delano Roosevelt tonight accepted the renomination of the Democratic party for President of the United States and, avoiding personalities of any description, defined the issue of this campaign as it appears to him.
The President said that, as the fathers of the Republic had achieved political freedom from the eighteenth-century royalists, so it was the function of those who stand with him in this campaign to establish the economic freedom they also sought to establish, and which was lost in the industrial and corporate growth of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Vice President John N. Garner of Texas, in this same place, renewed his pledge of allegiance to the President, made four years ago, and added a vow of fealty to the New Deal. The President was notified of his renomination by Senator Robinson of Arkansas, permanent chairman of the Democratic National Convention that closed today. Senator Harrison of Mississippi acted as proxy for Senator Barkley of Kentucky, temporary chairman, whose function it was to notify the Vice President, but who sailed for Europe on official business today.
Crowd Roars Its Enthusiasm
The arrival of the President in the stadium was greeted by a real demonstration, as distinguished from the artificial efforts of conventions. One hundred thousand people rose and roared unmistakable acclaim as Mr. Roosevelt entered the platform on the arm of his eldest son and clasped the hand of Vice President Garner while “The Star-Spangled Banner” was sung.
Thunderous cheer after cheer rolled out as the President finished, and, led by his mother, members of his family gathered about him. He mopped his brow, drank copiously of ice water and then stood waving his clasped hands above his head, while the tumult continued and the band played. Before Mr. Roosevelt left the stand on the arm of his son, James — as he entered — he waited for “Auld Lang Syne,” and cheered its last echoes with the crowd. It was a personal triumph of the kind given to few men.
If the high tenor of his speech can be taken as an indication of what sort of campaign the President will conduct, Postmaster General Farley’s prediction of the “dirtiest” contest of recent times will not be realized, so far as the chief protagonists of the parties are concerned, for Governor Alf M. Landon has implied the same tactics.
For Those Who Weary of Struggle
The only conceivable reference to Alfred E. Smith and other Democrats who have attacked him that the President made was when he said that some had grown weary of the struggle and relinquished their hope of democracy “for the illusion of a living.” The crowd roared approval.
Informed by Senator Robinson that the administration “has vindicated the faith of plain people in the processes of democracy,” and confounded those who demanded a dictatorship in 1933, the President took up this major theme, which is also sounded in the Philadelphia platform.
The following is a summary of the President’s speech, which was more of a rededication of the New Deal to obtain and secure “economic freedom” than an acceptance speech, outlining a definite program, according to custom:
This occasion is for dedication to a simple and sincere statement of an attitude toward current problems. The speaker comes not only as party leader and candidate for re-election, but ”as one upon whom many critical hours have imposed and still impose a grave responsibility.”
For loyalty in cooperation thanks are due the people, Democrats everywhere, Republicans in Congress, many local officials and especially those who have borne disaster bravely and ”dared to smile through the storm.” The rescue was not the task of one party; the rally and survival were made together.
Fear which was the most dangerous foe in 1933, has been conquered. Yet all is far from well with the world. The United States is better off than most, but ”the rush of modern civilization” has created problems for solution if both political and economic freedom are finally to be attained.
The eighteenth-century Royalists sought to perpetuate their special privileges from the British Crown. They regimented the people in labor, religion and the right of assembly. The American Revolution was fought to win political freedom, and political tyranny was wiped out at Philadelphia July 4, 1776, when the Declaration was penned.
But modern industry and invention have raised new forces that produced new royalists and new dynasties, with new privileges which they seek to retain. Concentration of economic power pressed every citizen into service, and economic freedom — the twin ideal, with political freedom, of Jefferson and Washington — was lost again.
Small business men, with the worker and the farmer, were excluded from this new royalty. “New mercenaries sought to regiment the people.” The average man once more confronts the problem faced by the Minute Men. He is entitled to a living that means something to live for as well as something to live by.
The collapse of 1929 revealed the new despotism for what it was. In the election of 1932 the people gave to the present administration a mandate to end it. It is being ended.
Freedom No Half-and-Half Affair
The modern royalists contend the economic slavery is nobody’s business, and certainly not the government’s. But the administration contends that freedom is no half-and-half affair; the citizen must be free in the market place as well as in the polling place.
To the complaint of the economic royalists that the New Deal seeks to overthrow American institutions, the President answer that what they really seek to retain is their kind of power, hidden behind the flag and the Constitution. But the flag and the Constitution stand for democracy and freedom, and no dictatorship either by the mob or the overprivileged.
“The brave and clear platform * * * to which I heartily subscribe,” sets forth the inescapable obligations of the government, protection of family and home, establishment of equal opportunity and aid to the distressed. The opposition will beat down these words unless they are fought for, as for three years they have been maintained. The fight will go on as the convention has decreed.
Faith, hope and charity are not unattainable ideals, but stout supports of a nation struggling for freedom. The nation is poor indeed if it cannot lift from the unemployed the fear they are not needed in the world. That accumulates a deficit in human fortitude. The bearers of the standard of hope, faith and charity, instead of privilege, seek daily to profit from experience, to learn to do better.
The sins of the cold-blooded and of the warm-hearted are, as Dante say, weighed in different scales. The overt faults of a charitable government are preferable to the consistent omissions of an indifferent one.
This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny. Some who have long fought for freedom have wearied and yielded their democracy. Success of the New Deal can revive them. The war is for the survival of democracy, to save “a great and precious form of government for ourselves and for the world.”
The President accepts the nomination and is enlisted “for the duration of the war.”
Garner Accepts as a Soldier
Vice President Garner replied to the notification address as follows:
He is a soldier whose duty it is to follow the commander and he accepts the rules of war in the platform. He accepts renomination as a solemn trust, great responsibility and personal honor. They are enhanced by association on the ticket with the President. The Vice President renews his pledge of fealty first given four years ago.
Hopes have been reborn under Mr. Roosevelt and laughter again is heard in the land. The administration is midway in its course. Though great things have been done, much remains. There must be no return to the Old Deal, which means a political system that fosters special privilege. The New Deal means the greatest good to the greatest number.
The Vice President renders tribute to the Republicans in Congress who, in a time of national peril, rose above partisanship. The support of all who believe in the New Deal’s conception of itself is still sought. That is its platform, and the Vice President is proud to stand on it, and with a leader “who has never faltered in his course” nor “lost faith that in the sovereign will of the people rests the way to security, peace and happiness.”
Convention’s Final Gavel Falls
At a brief, listless and sparsely attended two-hour final session that ended at 2:20 this afternoon the convention renominated Vice President Garner by acclamation, as early this morning it had renominated the President, after fidgeting under the ordeal of seventeen seconding speeches and loyally attempting a last “demonstration” which petered out from sheer exhaustion and boredom.
Later in the afternoon at a meeting of the national committee James A. Farley was re-elected chairman, and other officers chosen, while rain pouring from the soggy heavens beat a dismal farewell tattoo for the long-drawn-out political gathering of the New Deal.
It was clearing when the committee adjourned, after hearing that the party deficit has been obliterated and enough surplus remains to pay all current expenses. As a further gesture of amity and equal companionship to the Democratic women who have shared many honors in this convention the national committee elected six more female vice chairmen, among them Miss Mary C. Dewson and Mrs. J. Borden Harriman, both of New York. Contests were referred to a subcommittee.
Nothing was said at the meeting of Mr. Farley’s resignation from the Cabinet.
Before the evening’s orators were ready, however, great troops of delegates, alternates and visitors fled from Philadelphia’s humid scene, worn out by the prolonged sessions of a convention the decision and pronouncements of which were foreclosed in advance, and which could have done all its business in two days.
Garner Nominated by Allred
This weariness was apparent at the final session, that began more than an hour after it was summoned. The galleries were almost empty, and, despite vigorous round-ups, the delegates’ seats were only half filled. Elaborate stage effects had been prepared to honor Mr. Garner — pretty girls, cowboys, bands, horns, banners and the rest of the artifices of these “demonstrations.” But the crowd could only cheer and march for about thirteen minutes, despite the efforts made by the convention showmen to keep them going.
Governor James A. Allred of Texas made a short nominating speech, and then there were seventeen seconders, or only forty less than the entrants in the political talkathon that ended after midnight today and took all the pep out of the convention. They included Senators, Governors, plain delegates, fair delegates, Tom Heflin of Alabama and Emil Hurja, Mr. Farley’s statistical expert.
New York Calls for Lehman
A feature of the day, also foreshadowed, was the unanimous adoption of a resolution by the New York delegation, calling on Governor Herbert H. Lehman to stand for re-election. This appeal, the work jointly of Herbert Bayard Swope and Mrs. Caroline O’Day, recited that the struggle in New York is identical with that in the nation, that Mr. Lehman more closely personifies the President’s cause than any other man save Mr. Roosevelt himself, and ended with the words: “We have not failed you. Do not, we beg, fail us.” Governor Lehman, once more, had no statement to make, although he attended the meeting.
Before the wilted convention adjourned, it authorized the dispatch of a telegram to the President, composed by Governor Graves of Alabama; memorialized the late W. H. Woodin and Lewis McHenry Howe; praised Mr. Farley and other officials, and expressed the usual thanks to the city and State which were the hosts.
At 2:20 P.M. Mr. Farley, who had opened the convention Tuesday, moved to adjourn. Chairman Robinson’s gavel fell, and the long, long convention was ended.