Parades, Protests and Politics

The 1960 Republican National Convention

Vice President Richard Nixon speaking at 1960     Republican National Convention in the International Amphitheatre.

Vice President Richard Nixon speaking at 1960 Republican National Convention in the International Amphitheatre. (CHS, ICHi-26173, photo by Alfred A. Novick.)

Nixon was a competent vice president under Eisenhower and House Representative before that. He was aggressive, cocky and admired by Republican party bosses across the land. He was also praised by regular party members for his loyalty and eagerness to serve. He was well known by the party, so it seemed obvious that Nixon would be heir to Dwight Eisenhower's Republican throne at the 1960 Republican Convention, held 100 years after the first convention hosted by Chicago--Abraham Lincoln's Wigwam nomination of 1860.

When New York governor Nelson A. Rockefeller withdrew his candidacy in December of the previous year, Nixon seemed a shoo-in. Rockefeller would have been a formidable foe to Nixon for he held all the charm and prestige that Nixon lacked. Television had greatly changed the face of political conventions and candidates became by necessity and image much more polished.

Two nights before the convention was to open, the party's platform was a mess. Nixon panicked. He had his men call Rockefeller and held an all-night meeting with party leaders to come up with a coherent policy. What came to be called "The Pact of Fifth Avenue" contained 14 points--seven concerning foreign policy and seven domestic--mostly Rockefeller's agenda and a promise not to challenge Nixon or raise a fight on the convention floor. Rockefeller announced the plan to the press on the eve of the convention.

Convention leaders were appalled and saw this as a weakness on Nixon's part. The convention was on the verge of being out of control, which prompted Nixon to fly to Chicago to meet with delegations and smooth things over.

In the end, Nixon still sailed to victory, earning 1,321 votes to 10 for the nomination. Nixon's presidential campaign was to be a tough one. He fought Kennedy step for step, but in the end fell just behind. Among other setbacks, Kennedy had taken Chicago by 450,000 votes. The Republicans were bitter about the outcome and the behind-the-scenes scheming, and refused to return to Chicago to stage another national convention.

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World's Columbian Expo
Parades, Protest and Politics
Parades, Protests and Politics Photo Gallery
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The Pullman Era
The Stockyards
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