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Conventional Behavior


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In your snapshot history of Chicago ["Two Hundred Years in Five Minutes," September 22], Harold Henderson says: "The Republican Party nominated Abraham Lincoln for president in Chicago in 1860, but he didn't attend the convention." Lincoln didn't attend the convention? What's so special about that?

Until FDR, no nominee attended the convention. That's how they ran things back then. You were supposed to sit at home--or someplace removed from the political tangle--until the Call to Duty came. It would have been strange if Lincoln had attended the convention. So don't single him out.

It's what everyone did.



Illinois Democratic Network

Harold Henderson replies:

Thanks for adding this historical context, which I should have mentioned just because it seems odd to us today. But at least one long-ago nominee did attend his nominating convention: William Jennings Bryan, who delivered his "Cross of Gold" speech at the 1896 Democratic convention in Chicago, when FDR was all of 14.

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