1904 Democratic National Convention

The 1904 Democratic National Convention was an American presidential nominating convention that ran from July 6 through 10 in the Coliseum of the St. Louis Exposition and Music Hall in St. Louis, Missouri. Breaking with eight years of control by the Democratic Party's reform wing, the convention nominated conservative Judge Alton B. Parker of New York for president and Henry G. Davis of West Virginia for vice president.

1904 Democratic National Convention
1904 presidential election
AltonBParker.png HenryGDavis.png
Parker and Davis
Date(s)July 6-10, 1904
CitySt. Louis, Missouri
VenueSt. Louis Exposition and Music Hall
Presidential nomineeAlton B. Parker of New York
Vice Presidential nomineeHenry G. Davis of West Virginia
‹ 1900  ·  1908 ›
Opening session of the convention

The Democratic ticket lost in the November 1904 presidential election to the Republican Party and its ticket of Theodore Roosevelt and Charles W. Fairbanks.

Convention historyEdit


The 1904 Democratic National Convention was opened at two minutes past noon on July 6 in the Coliseum of the old St. Louis Exposition and Music Hall by James K. Jones, chair of the Democratic National Committee.[1] Following the reading of the official call of the convention and delivery of an opening prayer, John Sharp Williams of Mississippi was named the honorary chairman of the gathering,[1] emblematic of a return to power by the conservative Bourbon wing of the party.

The traditionalist Southerner Williams delivered an opening speech but was hindered by a voice unable to reach all of those assembled in the convention hall, many of whom, according to a contemporary press report, "kept up a constant hum of conversation that smothered Mr. Williams’s voice."[1]

Presidential nominationEdit

After the second straight defeat of Democratic presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan in the 1900 presidential election, the conservative allies of former President Grover Cleveland regained power within the party.[2] However, with the popularity of President Theodore Roosevelt, many of the most prominent Democrats, such as Cleveland and former Attorney General Richard Olney, refused to run.[2] Additionally, Maryland Senator Arthur Pue Gorman alienated many in the South by opposing Roosevelt's policies in Panama.[2]

In this atmosphere, in advance of the convention conservative Democrats coalesced around New York Court of Appeals Judge Alton B. Parker, an ally of former New York Governor David B. Hill.[2] Parker hoped to one day sit on the United States Supreme Court, but was convinced to run by Hill, and the Parker campaign was backed by conservative business interests.[2] With the reform wing around Bryan and the ethnic political machine of Tammany Hall unable to agree upon a single alternative candidate, Parker was seen by many contemporary observers as a prohibitive favorite to win the nomination.[1]

Eight names were placed in nomination: Alton B. Parker, William Randolph Hearst, Francis Cockrell, Richard Olney, Edward C. Wall, George Gray, John Sharp Williams, and Nelson A. Miles. Representative Williams thanked the North Dakota delegation for its generosity but declined to be a candidate. Over the objections of Bryan, Parker defeated New York Congressman Hearst on the first ballot.[2] In a further defeat for Bryan, the Democrats adopted a conservative platform far different from the policies espoused in 1896 and 1900.[3] However, Bryan would re-take control of the party in the 1908 Democratic National Convention.

Presidential candidatesEdit


Presidential ballot
1st before shifts 1st after shifts Unanimous
Alton B. Parker 658 679 1,000
William Randolph Hearst 200 181
Francis Cockrell 42 42
Richard Olney 38 38
Edward C. Wall 27 27
George Gray 12 12
John Sharp Williams 8 8
Robert E. Pattison 4 4
George B. McClellan Jr. 3 3
Nelson A. Miles 3 3
Charles A. Towne 2 2
Arthur Pue Gorman 2 0
Bird S. Coler 1 1

Vice Presidential nominationEdit

With Democratic prospects in the November election appearing bleak, most prominent politicians expressed no interest in the vice presidential nomination, or declined when asked to consider it. The names of several lesser-known individuals were mentioned, including businessman Marshall Field of Illinois, former Representative John C. Black of Illinois, Representative James R. Williams of Illinois, attorney John W. Kern of Indiana, Edward C. Wall of Wisconsin, David Bost of Wisconsin, Governor Alexander Monroe Dockery of Missouri, and attorney Joseph W. Folk of Missouri.[3]

Four names were placed in nomination: Henry G. Davis, James R. Williams, George Turner, and William A. Harris. Davis, a wealthy, 80 year old former Senator, was given the honor in the hope he would finance part of the campaign. Davis did not donate as much as party leaders had hoped, but his contributions still represented a third of the party's entire expenditure on the presidential campaign.

Vice Presidential candidatesEdit

Vice Presidential ballot
1st Unanimous
Henry G. Davis 644 1,000
James R. Williams 165
George Turner 100
William A. Harris 58
Blank 33

Closing and notesEdit

After nominating the ticket of Parker and Davis, the convention adjourned sine die at 1:30 pm on Sunday, July 10.[5]

The 1904 Democratic National Convention took place simultaneously with the 1904 World's Fair and the 1904 Summer Olympics.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d "Big Demonstration for Cleveland," Lincoln Star, July 6, 1904, pg. 1.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Kennedy, Robert C. "Citizen Parker". New York Times. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Bryan Crushed in Test of Strength". New York Times. 8 July 1904. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  4. ^ "Bryan Back, is Not a Candidate" (PDF). The New York Times. January 10, 1904.
  5. ^ "Judge Parker and H.G. Davis Nominated," Mt. Carmel [PA] Item, July 11, 1904, pg. 3.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Kansas City, Missouri
Democratic National Conventions Succeeded by
Denver, Colorado