Skip to main content


Presidential conventions at which no candidate won on the first ballot have produced some of our best Presidents including Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Three U.S President didn’t win a single vote on the first try at their convention.

There has been much talk in recent months about the possibility of a contested Presidential nominating convention. But commentators seem to be quite unaware that candidates have often not been decided until later ballots -- sometimes with happy results. Read more >>

We hope you enjoyed this essay.

Please support this 70-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.