In keeping with our Presidential Visits series (BELOW), on October 22nd, 1920, Herbert Hoover campaigned for Republican nominee Warren G. Harding, one day after Harding spoke at Convention Hall.
Having led the U.S. Food Administration during World War I, Hoover was described in the Democrat and Chronicle‘s 1920 article as “one of the best known men in America.” After Harding won, Hoover was appointed Secretary of Commerce. In 1928, defeating Democrat Al Smith, Hoover was elected president. In 1932, Hoover would lose his reelection bid to Democrat Franklin Roosevelt.
Tracking down presidential visits — especially visits before the man was president — is a painstaking task. Finding Hoover in Rochester was very much like looking for the proverbial needle in digital and print haystacks.
The site Rochester N.Y. – Today in History: A historical journal of life in Rochester, NY is a valuable resource but has many omissions, including Hoover. The digital D & C archives are invaluable but cumbersome. Alas, the archives don’t have search mechanisms that easily recover relevant articles. The D & C and Times Union print clippings held in the Local History room at the Rochester Central Library attest to the diligence and commitment of generations of newspaper clippers, but are, alas, limited.
One 1956 D & C article seemingly verified that Hoover did not campaign in Rochester in 1928 or 1932:
Indicative of our research difficulties, this excerpt may seem informative but is itself suspect. As claimed in the excerpt, Roosevelt passed on Rochester in ’40 and ’44. However, in ’40, the D & C ran a story about the thousands who watched FDR campaign en route to his victory over Wendell Willkie.
Only with good luck was Hoover “discovered” in 1920. The discover confirms that every president from Cleveland (1884) through Trump (2016) visited Rochester in some official capacity.
In 1928, Hoover did not visit Rochester, but his running mate Kansas Senator Charles Curtis did.
Greeted enthusiastically at Convention Hall, Curtis’ message about Republican fiscal responsibility resonated. Given the good economic times, Hoover/Curtis won a relatively easy victory over NYS Governor Al Smith and his running mate Joseph T. Robinson. Hoover even won Smith’s home state, New York, 49.79% of the vote to Smith’s 47.44%
During the campaign, Governor Smith spoke at the October New York Democratic state convention in Convention Hall. Franklin Roosevelt was not in attendance, but Smith called him, urging Roosevelt to accept the gubernatorial nomination, which Roosevelt did in abstentia — and won. Roosevelt campaigned in Rochester in 1928, then again in 1930 when he won reelection, and then again in 1932 when he successfully ran for president against Hoover.
In 1928, another candidate stumped in Rochester, the Socialist Party’s Norman Thomas. Thomas only won 2.44% of the New York vote. But — given the stock market crash a year later — Thomas’ message seems prescient: “Capitalism Under Fire.”
In 1932, claiming that Hoover’s Depression policies were failing, then NYS Governor Roosevelt easily won the election, including 54.07% of the vote in New York State versus Hoover’s 41.33%.
In New York, Thomas won 3.78%.
In HAND GRENADES, HORSE SHOES, TAYLOR AND MONROE, it was two near misses.
In Martin Van Buren: The Little Magician pops up in Rochester, it was 1839.
In When President John Quincy Adams visited Rochester on July 27th and 28th, 1843 and toured Mt. Hope Cemetery, the grave of Nathaniel Rochester.
In On Abraham Lincoln in Rochester from Michael Nighan, a plaque and a train station.
In When President Andrew Johnson and Ulysses S. Grant visited Rochester in the Swing Around the Circle, it was two Presidents for the price of one.
In Memorial Day, 1892, when President Benjamin Harrison dedicated the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Monument in Washington Square Park with Frederick Douglass. And Occupy Rochester, Benjamin Harrison, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass in the same park Occupy would occupy.
November 1st, 1892 when McKinley campaigned for Benjamin Harrison, more support for Harrison.
In October, 26th, 1898: the Rough Rider on his way to the Governor’s mansion. TR Comes to Town, again…and again…and again… by Michael Nighan., a statue of Teddy in School 29.
When Taft spoke at Convention Hall on August 23rd, 1911, the Grand Army of the Republic.
When Wilson spoke at Convention Hall and the Shubert Theatre four days before elected President, it was a three way race.
In BIG BILL, BIG BELL AND SCHOOL BELLS: An ex-president, the Liberty Bell, and several thousand school teachers come to town. it was William Howard Taft.
In FDR’s first visit to Rochester as a national candidate, September 23rd, 1920. And the League of Nations., Rachel in Washington Square Park.
In October 21st, 1920 in Rochester and Governor Harding’s return to normalcy. And the school named after him., a school in North Gates.
In Governor Roosevelt’s triumphant return to the Convention Hall, October 18th, 1932, a luncheon with Eleanor Roosevelt.
In FDR in Rochester en route to a New Deal landslide, October 17th, 1936, an unfinished portrait.
In FDR in Rochester three days before he won a third term, a World War.
In October 23rd and 24th, 1952 when Ike and Adlai were in town back to back. And School 29., the Adlai E. Stevenson School.
In Nixon at the War Memorial one week before he lost a razor thin election to JFK , the War Memorial.
In LBJ and RFK in Rochester, October 15th,1964, LBJ and RFK at the airport.
In In ’68 when Vice President Humphrey and former Vice President Nixon campaigned in Rochester, the election that defined the ’60s.
In 45 years ago when President Nixon visited Rochester. And 3 days later when East High School erupted in racial violence a media briefing at the Landmark Hotel in Pittsford.
In When Carter stumped Rochester in ’76. And Howard the Duck. it was Howard for Prez.
In 27 years ago today when President George H. W. Bush visited Wilson Magnet High School, a signed chalkboard.
In May 24th, 2005 when President Bush spent political capital in Greece. it is Dr. Bruce Kay
In 5 Meliora Weekends ago when President Clinton spoke., Great Books with President Seligman.
In , A seat at the President’s table four years later soup and a grilled cheese sandwich at Magnolia’s and an eyewitness account.
In Next stop Albany. On the road with the Trumprenuers, the Trumprenuers at the airport.
In Memories of presidential visits on Election Day in Brighton, a vote for Talker.