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Democratic convention ends as split party agonizes over Catholic nominee

June
29
1928

On this day in 1928 the Democratic National Convention concluded in Houston. The convention, which nominated Catholic, anti-prohibition candidate Al Smith, was an important milestone in Texas politics. Brought to Houston at the instigation of civic leader Jesse Jones, the event was the first national convention held in a Southern state since the Civil War. Party officials saw the Houston convention as an opportunity to reconcile Protestant, prohibitionist Southern Democrats to a Smith ticket, but instead the Texas delegation showed great hostility towards his nomination. Women's temperance groups and the local Baptist church held all-day and all-night prayer meetings near the convention hall and insisted that God would intervene to prevent the "catastrophe" of Smith's nomination. But inside the hall the majority of the party saw Smith as their only hope of victory over the Republicans in the fall. Smith's strong anti-prohibition acceptance speech on June 29 further alienated many Democrats who eventually joined forces with Republicans to elect Herbert Hoover in November 1928. In Texas the massive defection of Democrats was attributed both to Smith's antiprohibition views and his Catholicism. The state gave Hoover a majority, the first time in history that a Republican presidential candidate had carried Texas.

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