- 1956 Democratic National Convention
Infobox National Political Convention
year = 1956
party = Democratic
August 13–17, 1956
city = Chicago,
presidential_nominee = Governor
vice_presidential_nominee = Senator
The 1956 National Convention of the Democratic Party nominated former Governor
Adlai Stevensonof Illinoisfor President and Senator Estes Kefauverof Tennesseefor Vice President. It was held in the International Amphitheatreon the South Side of Chicago, Illinois August 13–17, 1956. Unsuccessful candidates for the presidential nomination included Gov. W. Averell Harrimanof New York, Sen. Lyndon Baines Johnsonof Texas, and Sen. Stuart Symingtonof Missouri.
As the unsuccessful 1952 Democratic Party presidential nominee, Stevenson had the highest stature of the active candidates and was easily renominated on the first ballot. Former President
Harry Truman, whose support for Stevenson in '52 helped secure him the nomination, was opposed to his renomination in 1956, instead favoring Harriman. It did no good, as Truman was no longer a sitting President, and Stevenson was nominated on the first ballot.
The convention was marked by a "free vote" for the vice-presidential nomination in which the winner, Kefauver, defeated Sen.
John F. Kennedyof Massachusetts. The vice-presidential vote, which required three separate ballots, was one of the last multi-ballot contests held at the quadrennial political convention of any major U.S. political party.
The Democratic convention preceded the Republican convention in the
Cow Palace, San Francisco, California. At the GOP gathering, incumbent Dwight D. Eisenhowerwas nominated for a second term. NBC-TVassigned two of its reporters, Chet Huntleyand David Brinkley, to co-anchor their 1956 convention television coverage. The two men were so successful at this assignment that the network promoted them to anchor their evening news broadcast, the " Huntley-Brinkley Report" (1956-1970).
The 1956 Democratic Platform
The Democrats favored greater reliance on the
United Nations, multilateral disarmament, more spending for programs relating to social welfare and agriculture, "a full and integrated program of development, protection, management and conservation of natural resources" and the use of peaceful atomic energy
With regard to the growing issue of civil rights, the platform called for voting rights, equal employment opportunities, and the
desegregationof public schools.
The Presidential vote
The roll call, as reported in Richard C. Bain and Judith H. Parris, "Convention Decisions and Voting Records", pp. 294-298:
The highlight of the 1956 Democratic Convention came when Stevenson, in an effort to create excitement for the ticket, made the surprise announcement that the convention's delegates would choose his running mate. This set off a desperate scramble among several candidates to win the nomination; a good deal of the excitement of the vice-presidential race came from the fact that the candidates had only one hectic day to campaign among the delegates before the voting began. The two leading contenders were Senator Kefauver, who retained the support of his primary delegates, and young Senator
John F. Kennedyof Massachusetts, who was relatively unknown at that point. Kennedy surprised the experts by surging into the lead on the second ballot; at one point he was only 15 votes shy of winning. However, a number of states then left their "favorite son" candidates and switched to Kefauver, giving him the victory. Kennedy then gave a gracious concession speech. The defeat was actually a boost for Kennedy's long-term presidential chances; by coming so close to defeating Kefauver he gained much favorable national publicity, yet by losing to Kefauver he avoided any blame for Stevenson's expected loss to Eisenhower in November. The vote totals in the vice presidential balloting are recorded in the following table, which also comes from Bain & Parris.
Vice Presidential candidates:
On November 6, Adlai Stevenson and Estes Kefauver lost the election to President Eisenhower and Vice President Nixon in a landslide.
* [http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/print.php?pid=29601 Democratic Party Platform of 1956] , The American Presidency Project (UC Santa Barbara)
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