• Learn about the conditions that led to Frank Furness' most incredible masterworks, including the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts seen here, on Wednesday.
      Learn about the conditions that led to Frank Furness' most incredible masterworks, including the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts seen here, on Wednesday.

Conventions past: Democrats in Philly, 1936

Once again Philadelphia is the happy host for to a national political convention, and we're taking a look back at conventions held in the city via the Evening Bulletin's photo archives. Last week we zoomed in on the 1900, 1940 and 1948 Republican National Conventions held in Philly. To welcome back the Democrats, here’s a window into their first Philadelphia convention, held here 80 years ago.


When Philadelphia hosted the Democratic National Convention in 1936, the party nominated Franklin Delano Roosevelt for a second term. The convention took place at the now-demolished (but then-new) Convention Hall near the Penn Museum. Roosevelt delivered his acceptance speech at Franklin Field, before a crowd of thousands who thronged the Bellevue-Stratford for free tickets and braved a rainy day to hear FDR in person.

Roosevelt delivered a populist message that outlined the core values of progressive democracy and seeking to reaffirm the New Deal's promise. This generation of Americans, he said, had “a rendezvous with destiny.”

“We are poor indeed if this nation cannot afford to lift from every recess of American life the dread fear of the unemployed that they are not needed in the world. We cannot afford to accumulate a deficit in the books of human fortitude. In the place of the palace of privilege we seek to build a temple out of faith and hope and charity,” he said.

The 1936 convention is also remembered as the beginning of a split within the party. The rule had been that nominees for president and vice president needed to get support from two-thirds of the delegates. At this convention the rule shifted to a simple majority, a rule change pushed by FDR and which shifted power away from Southern Democrats. Historians mark this as the origins of the Dixiecrat movement.

Here's a peek at the Democratic National Convention of 1936 and the city as host:

SPRUCING UP

    • City officials decorate a lamp post for the 1936 Democratic National Convention. | Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Library
      City officials decorate a lamp post for the 1936 Democratic National Convention. | Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Library
    • Workers put finishing touches on Convention Hall decorations before 1936 Democratic Convention. Evening Bulletin | Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA
      Workers put finishing touches on Convention Hall decorations before 1936 Democratic Convention. Evening Bulletin | Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA
    • Workers preparing Convention Hall before Democratic Convention, June 15, 1936  | Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA
      Workers preparing Convention Hall before Democratic Convention, June 15, 1936 | Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA
    • Chestnut Street looking west from 10th showing lamp post decorations, June 10, 1936 | Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA
      Chestnut Street looking west from 10th showing lamp post decorations, June 10, 1936 | Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA
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HOSPITALITY

    • Texas state senators served hot dogs by Beatrice Zippel. June 25, 1936 | Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA
      Texas state senators served hot dogs by Beatrice Zippel. June 25, 1936 | Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA
    • Democratic Donkey greeted at 1936 convention as it eats information desk paperwork. | Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA
      Democratic Donkey greeted at 1936 convention as it eats information desk paperwork. | Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA
    • Hand engraved convention courtesy card for delegate W. Forbes Morgan | 1936 | Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA
      Hand engraved convention courtesy card for delegate W. Forbes Morgan | 1936 | Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA
    • Trash left after closing ceremonies of 1936 Democratic National Convention, Franklin Field. Evening Bulletin | Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA
      Trash left after closing ceremonies of 1936 Democratic National Convention, Franklin Field. Evening Bulletin | Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA
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INSIDE CONVENTION HALL

    • Gentleman from Mississippi rides donkey through Democratic National Convention, 1936. Philadelphia Evening Bulletin | Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA
      Gentleman from Mississippi rides donkey through Democratic National Convention, 1936. Philadelphia Evening Bulletin | Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA
    • Woman trying to kick off her own hat for Roosevelt at Democratic Convention, Philadelphia 1936. | Evening Bulletin | Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA
      Woman trying to kick off her own hat for Roosevelt at Democratic Convention, Philadelphia 1936. | Evening Bulletin | Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA
    • Transformer board being installed for press communications during convention, June 15, 1936 | Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA
      Transformer board being installed for press communications during convention, June 15, 1936 | Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA
    • Crowd at Democratic National Convention at Philadelphia's Convention Hall - Philadelphia, June 27, 1936 Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA
      Crowd at Democratic National Convention at Philadelphia's Convention Hall - Philadelphia, June 27, 1936 Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA
    • Fighting crowds at Democratic National Convention - Philadelphia, June 26, 1936 | Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA
      Fighting crowds at Democratic National Convention - Philadelphia, June 26, 1936 | Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA
    • Al Smith supporters forcibly removed by police during 1936 convention. | Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA
      Al Smith supporters forcibly removed by police during 1936 convention. | Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA
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About the author

Ashley Hahn, Contributor

Ashley Hahn is an independent writer with a background in historic preservation and city planning. She started Eyes on the Street for PlanPhilly in 2011 and was PlanPhilly's managing editor from 2015-2017. Ashley has lived in 12 zip codes that she can think of, including neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and New York. She is a Philadelphian by choice.

Contact Ashley via email or find her on twitter: @ashleyjhahn.


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