The Strike That Made A President


There is a moment when the whip cracks and the animal, instead of jumping, turns on the ringmaster. Chairman Willis did not recognize that moment until it was too late. The voice from the floor was no casual approval of an accomplished fact. McCamant had talked the matter over angrily with his delegation and decided to have none of Lenroot. In the last year he had been sent three complimentary copies of Have Faith in Massachusetts. Coolidge was the man he thought of now, “Law and Order” Coolidge.

McCamant’s voice rumbled on in undistinguishable phrases, then broke clear with: “I name for the exalted office of Vice President, Governor Calvin Coolidge of Massachusetts.” The murmuring hall suddenly resounded with a thunder of uncontrived, spontaneous applause. For the first and last time in his life Calvin Coolidge had become a symbol of revolt. The weeklong frustrations of the delegates, their sense of impotence as the whip cracked, their rage at being forced through the hoops, suddenly spilled over at the mention of Coolidge’s name. Quickly the nomination was seconded by the delegations of Michigan, Maryland, North Dakota, Arkansas, and Connecticut—all supposedly under senatorial control. Remmel, the old professional, knew a bandwagon when he saw one. As soon as he could get the attention of the chair, he announced that he was withdrawing his seconding of Lenroot in order to second the nomination of Coolidge. The vote was Coolidge 674 1/2, Lenroot 146 1/2.

On hearing the news Senator McCormick dashed back to the platform, but events had sped past him. As in Boston the previous September, an unforeseen combination of circumstances had dramatically advanced Calvin Coolidge’s career, and before long another accident equally unforeseen would take him even farther. In a few confused moments in the Chicago Coliseum, in the bellowing insistence of an unknown Oregon delegate, a President had been made.