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October 21, 2016

Archives Month in Ohio: Mock Political Conventions

October is Archives Month in Ohio. The theme this year is Ohio and Presidential Elections. As part of celebrating Archives Month we wanted to highlight student participation in mock political conventions.

To participate in the presidential election process, students have staged their own versions of political party conventions, selecting whether it would be a Democratic or Republication convention. Students made the arrangements for the convention, drafted the platforms and nominated candidates for president and vice president. The first mock political convention in the university’s history was held by Western Reserve University in 1908. Held May 2 at Gray’s Armory in downtown Cleveland, Wisconsin Senator Robert LaFollette was nominated as candidate for president. LaFollette was popular with students for many years. Though there was no mock convention that year, in 1924 LaFollette was the winner of the student straw poll.

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1908 program and 1924 cartoon

In 1932 a Mock Democratic Convention was held April 27 at Adelbert Gym. Newton D. Baker, former Cleveland mayor and Secretary of War, was nominated as candidate for president. The movement to hold a convention came from the Reserve Politics Club, composed of students from Adelbert College and the Law School. They invited the Mather College chapter of the League of Women Voters to participate. These groups set up a Committee on Arrangements and invited other student organizations university-wide to participate. Future Ohio congressman Charles A. Vanik served as secretary on the Committee on Arrangements for the convention. Vanik graduated from Adelbert College in 1933 and the Law School in 1936. He served Ohio’s 21st district 1955-1969 and the 22nd district 1969-1981.

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1932 convention floor and 1932 program

While WRU cancelled its 1948 convention, Case Institute held its first mock political convention - nominating Michigan senator Arthur Vandenburg. Subsequent CIT convention nominees included (among others) Dwight Eisenhower, Adlai Stevenson, and Governor William Scranton of Pennsylvania. Other activities, held as part of the mock conventions, included parades, election of a queen, picnics, and dances.

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1948 Case Alumnus magazine featuring the convention and 1972 poster

The conventions were intended to “provide political enlightenment and social entertainment.” Debates, speeches, and lectures would supplement the convention itself. In 1972 CWRU held its first mock political convention, nominating South Dakota senator George McGovern as candidate for president. In addition to the convention held April 21 and 22, California Senator John V. Tunney gave a lecture April 13 and Ohio Congressman Louis Stokes gave a lecture April 20.

Posted by hxy2 at October 21, 2016 02:13 PM

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