For twelve years this Nation was afflicted with hear- nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing Government. The Nation looked to the Government but the Government looked away. Nine mocking years with the golden calf and three long years of the scourge! Nine crazy years at the tickertape and three long years in the breadlines! Nine mad years of mirage and three long years of despair!President Franklin D. Roosevelt October 31, 1936
I. The Making of a President
The Republican National Convention, which took place in June 1920 in Chicago, Illinois, was a most extraordinary affair.
The Presidency was for sale,” writes Karl Schriftgiesser in This Was Normalcy, “The city of Chicago, never averse to monetary indecencies, was jam-packed with frenzied bidders, their pockets bulging with money with which to buy the prize. The Coliseum became a market place, crowded with stock gamblers, oil promoters, mining magnates, munition makers, sports promoters, and soap makers . . . The lobbies and rooms of the Loop hotels were in a turmoil as the potential buyers of office scurried about lining up their supporters, making their deals, issuing furtive orders, passing out secret funds.”
Among the captains of industry and finance who had flocked into the Windy City to make sure the Republican Presidential candidate was a man to their taste were Harry F. Sinclair, head of the Sinclair Oil Company, who had already invested $75,000 in the Republican campaign and was to put up another $185,000 before the campaign was over; Judge Elbert H. Gary, Chairman of the Board of Directors of U.S. Steel, whose name had figured prominently in the smashing of the 1919 steel strike; Samuel M. Vauclain, president of the Baldwin Locomotive Company; Thomas W. Lamont, partner in the firm of J. P. Morgan and Company; Edward L. Doheny, president of the Pan American Petroleum Company; and William Boyce Thompson, the copper magnate, who had recently returned from Soviet Russia, where as head of the American Red Cross mission he had staked $1,000,000 of his own money in an effort to stem the tide of the Russian Revolution.