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History of the Democratic Convention

Special to the Vail TrailThe first Democratic National Convention, held in Baltimore in 1832, led to the nomination of Martin Van Buren to be incumbent President Andrew Jackson's running mate.
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– The first Democratic National Convention, held in Baltimore in 1832, led to the nomination of Martin Van Buren to be incumbent President Andrew Jackson’s running mate.

No party platform was issued, as that tradition did not start until 1840, when the Convention ” once again in Baltimore ” nominated Van Buren for the presidency.

– In addition to simplifying the party’s name to the Democratic Party, the 1844 Democratic National Convention recommended the establishment of a national party organization. Four years later, the Convention formally established the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which is now the longest running political organization in the world.

-The 1920 Democratic National Convention is notable in that the Democratic Party platform supported the right to vote for women.

Only months later, the 19th Amendment would be ratified in all the states, making it the first election that allowed women from all states to vote. Also at this convention, Laura Clay became the first woman to receive a delegate vote for the nomination, though ultimately Governor James Cox became the presidential nominee.

– When Franklin Roosevelt accepted his nomination in 1932, he promised “a new deal for the American people.” Indeed, his New Deal would later give relief to a country hurting from the Great Depression. Also notable, the song “Happy Days Are Here Again” first played at this Convention, and it continued to be played by his campaign and later by the Democratic Party, becoming a theme song of sorts.

– At the 1968 Convention, the party adopted rules that helped ensure the Convention would reflect the diversity of the party. Specifically, the commission mandated state parties must “encourage minority-group participation so that they will be represented on the national Convention delegation in reasonable relationship to their presence in the population of the state.”

– In 1972, Shirley Chisholm became the first African-American to make a bid for the presidency with a major political party. George McGovern became the nominee.

– In 1984, Geraldine Ferraro became the first woman to be nominated for vice president and Martha Layne Collins became the first woman to chair the Democratic National Convention.


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