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The 1952 Democratic National Convention was held at the International Amphitheatremarker in Chicagomarker, Illinoismarker from July 21 to July 26, 1952, which was the same arena the Republicans had gathered in a few weeks earlier for their national convention. Four major candidates stood for the nomination: Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee, Governor Adlai Stevenson of Illinois , Senator Richard Russell of Georgia and Averell Harriman of New York.

The last true presidential draft

Governor Stevenson - who protested that he was not a presidential candidate - was asked to give the welcoming address to the delegates. He proceeded to give a witty and stirring address that led his supporters to begin a renewed round of efforts to nominate him, despite his protests. After meeting with Jack Arvey, the "boss" of the Illinois delegation, Stevenson finally agreed to enter his name as a candidate for the nomination. The party bosses from other large Northern and Midwestern states quickly joined in support. Kefauver led on the first ballot, but had far fewer votes than necessary to win. Stevenson gradually gained strength until he was nominated on the third ballot. The convention then chose Senator John Sparkman of Alabamamarker, a conservative and segregationist, as Stevenson's running mate. Stevenson then delivered an eloquent acceptance speech in which he famously pledged to "talk sense to the American people."

Democratic candidates

Image:AlbenBarkley.jpg|Vice President Alben W. Barkley of Kentuckymarker

Image:H Humphrey.jpg|Senator Hubert Humphrey of MinnesotamarkerFile:SenatorKefauver(D-TN).jpg|Senator Estes Kefauver of TennesseemarkerImage:K000144.jpg|Senator Robert S. Kerr of OklahomamarkerFile:Richard Brevard Russell.jpg|Senator Richard Russell, Jr. of GeorgiamarkerImage:Stevenson and Korean officials at USAF base in Korea, March 1953-cropped to Stevenson.jpg|Governor Adlai Stevenson of Illinoismarker

The Presidential balloting

The following table from Richard C. Bain and Judith H. Parris, Convention Decisions and Voting Records, documents the balloting. Candidates are organized according to their highest total on any single ballot, and they are listed only if they received over 20 votes on a single ballot. The 1952 Democratic convention was the last one for either major party that needed more than one ballot to select a Presidential nominee.

Presidential Balloting, DNC 1952
Ballot 1 2 3
Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson 273 324.5 617.5
Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver 340 362.5 275.5
Georgia Senator Richard B. Russell 268 294 261
Former Secretary of Commerce and Ambassador W. Averell Harriman 123.5 121 0
Vice President Alben W. Barkley 48.5 78.5 67.5
Oklahoma Senator Robert S. Kerr 65 5.5 0
Massachusetts Governor Paul A. Dever 37.5 30.5 0.5
Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey 26 0 0
Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright 22 0 0
Scattering 26.5 13.5 8

Kefauver had the most delegates after the first round, but then President Truman weighed into the battle in favor of Stevenson. He persuaded Harriman to drop out and endorse the Illinois governor, thereby pre-empting support for Kefauver and Russell, whom Truman opposed. The President believed that nominating a Southern candidate from a state where Jim Crow laws were in force would forfeit potential support for the Democratic party from African-American and Northern white voters.

Stevenson was nominated on the third ballot. It was the last nomination contest of either major U.S. political party to require more than one round of voting to nominate a presidential candidate.

Vice-Presidential Selection

Among those considerd for the VP spot by Stevenson included;

Sparkman was chosen because of his Southern identity and conservative record; party leaders hoped this factor would create a balanced ticket.

The 1952 Democratic Platform

The Democrats favored a strong national defense, collective security against the Soviet Unionmarker, multilateral disarmament, repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act, equal employment opportunities for minorities and public assistance for the aged, children, blind, and the disabled, expansion of the school lunch program, and continued efforts to fight racial discrimination.

Election Outcome

Adlai Stevenson and running mate John Sparkman lost the election to Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon on November 4, 1952. Despite the defeat, Stevenson was four years later again selected as the Democratic presidential nominee at the 1956 Democratic National Convention.


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