The Contested Convention: The Four-Part Series

For months during the 2016 GOP primary, Donald Trump lamented that the system was rigged through delegate manipulation and the election was being stolen. However, these accusations are without merit. In fact, by his illogical and inaccurate reasoning, Abraham Lincoln would have “stolen” the election of 1860. In this four-part series on contested conventions, we explore past conventions that, today, some may say were “stolen,” but followed the established rules and protocols to reach the eventual outcome.

Listen to the Full Series on Contested Conventions:

The Contested Convention Part I: 1860 (Republicans)

The year was 1860. It was the GOP’s second nominating convention — and also its first contested election. The fledgling anti-slavery party — the Republican Party — had lost its first general election in 1856, but gained a lot of sympathy and momentum. And it believed their nominee, this time, would go on to win the presidency.

In The Great Comeback, How Lincoln Beat the Odds, author Gary Ecelbarger explains this new political entity.

The Republican Party is a big tent fusion party. It is not the GOP, the Grand Old Party. It is the BNP, the brand-new party. And the problem with the brand-new party is that its elements, its makeup were people that were politically opposed to each other just a few years before. The Republican Party consisted of old Democrats and old Whigs and old free-soilers and old American and know-nothing elements. These were people that are politically opposed to each other, and they still hated each other.

The only thing they agreed on was the main principle of the Republican Party — not to extend slavery into the territorial region of the United States, what will eventually become the Dakotas, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, of course, and part of Colorado and Utah, which was a real threat when Stephen A. Douglas passed the Kansas-Nebraska act in 1854.

Because so many prominent Republicans from different states were potential nominees, finding a neutral location was challenging. The city that looked the most promising because of its hotels and railroads was St. Louis. But the city posed its own challenges. While the parties were fighting about the location, Norman B. Judd suggested the city of Chicago, a neutral place where all would have an equal chance.

Little did they realize that Judd was a supporter of Abraham Lincoln’s, under the radar. When the final votes came through, Chicago, a city in Lincoln’s home state, won by one vote — Judd’s.

Heading into the convention, the presumptive favorite was a very confident senator William Seward who brought 19 train cars full of supporters with him to Chicago. Lincoln, however, used his home state advantage well. His supporters went to work, printing up counterfeit tickets they handed out to those friendly to their cause, loading the convention with supporters and causing many of Seward’s supporters to stand outside the convention. For those who did make it inside, Lincoln’s people maneuvered them into an area where they would be isolated from those who might sway their opinion.

Dirty tricks? Rigged election? No. That’s the way the system worked.

The goal of the underdogs in the race, especially Lincoln, was to keep Seward under the required 233 delegate count on the first ballot. After that, Lincoln and his supporters strongly believed that they had a good chance to catch him on the second or third ballot.

The strategy worked. On the corrected third ballot, Abraham Lincoln won his party’s nomination with 349 delegates to Seward’s 111.5.

Lincoln, as we all know, went on to defeat Democrat Stephen Douglas, the man who had beaten him for the Illinois senate seat just two years prior.

Most Americans would agree that the election of 1860 was not stolen and the exact right man was put into that position at the right time. Most would agree that no one could have seen America through her most difficult hour other than Abraham Lincoln.

The Contested Convention Part II: 1924 (Democrats)

If you think the 2016 GOP primary was nuts, then you probably haven’t heard about the Democratic convention in 1924. It has been called the wildest convention in history — and with good reason. It’s also been called the Klanbake. In 1924, the clan heavily influenced the Democratic party.

Former Democratic President Woodrow Wilson, a renowned racist himself, had reignited interest in the Klan in 1915 when he hosted and attended a special screening at the White House of Birth of a Nation, a movie where the Klan are the heroes and blacks are the villains. It’s based on a novel written by Wilson’s friend, Thomas Dixon which was based on a history book written by Wilson himself.

One of the front runners of the Democratic nomination was Wilson’s former cabinet member, William G. McAdoo, who was supported by the Klan. So prevalent was the KKK within the party that there were no black delegates at all at the convention. The other front runner at this hotly contested convention was New York governor Al Smith, who opposed the Klan.

It was a raucous convention, described by silent movie star Diana Serra Cary as filled with “rough people who were drunk and disorderly.”

As the convention wore on, it became so contentious that the violence broke out when the delegates from Missouri and Colorado attacked each other. Police had to restore order and quell the rioting multiple times.

With the balloting still not producing a nominee on the 4th of July, somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 Klansmen crossed the Hudson river into New Jersey to rally for McAdoo and celebrate a separate issue they had been voted on by the Democrats. They held their vote in an attempt to officially denounce the Klan. It failed. The final vote on the resolution was 542 in favor of denouncing the Klan, and 546 against it. The Ku Klux Klan would not be condemned by the Democratic party.

Interestingly, neither of the leading candidates were nominated. Instead, a compromise candidate emerged who lost the election to Calvin Coolidge in a crushing defeat.

So popular was President Calvin Coolidge, he never left the White House to campaign for his reelection or to fundraise in 1924 — not once — winning with 72% of the electoral votes. The American people had not forgotten the roaring economy or the fact that Harding and Coolidge’s policies pulled America out of a deep depression, a depression much larger than the one that would come just a few short years later.

The Contested Convention Part III: 1964 (Republicans)

In 1964, the Republican party was looking for a smooth nomination process and someone who was on board with the GOP hierarchy, someone moderate. Now we know “moderate” most likely meant progressive.

They believed they had their man in Nelson Rockefeller, the Governor of New York and administrator of the famous interest center in New York City that bore his family’s name — Rockefeller Center. Pennsylvania Governor William Scranton, another moderate, was urged into the race when it appeared Rockefeller had lost momentum. Then there was the “extremist” — Barry Goldwater, the solidly conservative senator from Arizona.

With the ’64 convention coming just a short time after the Cuban missile crisis and in the midst of America’s deepening involvement in Vietnam, the spread of communism throughout the world was a huge concern for Americans. Barry Goldwater was decidedly, unabashedly, anti-communist, believing communism shouldn’t be just contained; it should be rolled back. That extremist sentiment would eventually lead to anti-Goldwater ads, like one from Lyndon Johnson featuring a little girl counting daisies followed by the countdown to a nuclear explosion. The ad essentially declared that a vote for Barry Goldwater was a vote to kill your sweet, innocent children.

In the early 1960s, the character of a candidate still mattered. A year prior, Rockefeller had married his second wife with whom he’d had an affair for years during his first marriage. All of this came to light when she gave birth to his son three days before the California primary — and Goldwater won the California primary.

Goldwater’s acceptance speech was said to cause some anger and alienation, perhaps even some defections to the Democratic party, but he didn’t hold back.

“Let our Republicanism, so focused and so dedicated, not be made fuzzy and futile by unthinking and stupid labels. I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue,” Goldwater said.

A former Hollywood actor rose to the podium in support of Goldwater, an actor who three years hence would become a two-term governor of California, and within 16 years, lead the free world.

“This is the meaning and the phrase of Barry Goldwater, peace through strength. Winston Churchill said the destiny of man is not measured by material computations. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we’re spirits, not animals. And he said there’s something going on in time and space and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty. You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness. We will keep in mind and remember that Barry Goldwater has faith in us. He has faith that you and I have the ability and the dignity and the right to make our own decisions and determine our own destiny,” Ronald Reagan said.

So Goldwater took on the sitting president of the United States, Lyndon Johnson, who beat him in a landslide. Johnson wound up with 486 electoral votes to Goldwater’s 52. The scare tactics worked.

The Contested Convention Part IV: 1976 (Republicans)

In 1976, a number of delegates needed to win the GOP nomination was 1,136 — and no one got there. The sitting president, Republican establishment candidate Gerald Ford, had 1,106. Ronald Reagan had 1,034. That meant another contested convention for the GOP.

Ford had taken a sizable early lead, but Reagan sliced into it with big wins throughout the south and the west. So both candidates headed off for and arrived in Kansas City well ahead of the start of the convention to try to sway delegates to their side. Once the convention was underway, things got a little crazy.

As reported by CBS, a delegate from Utah stormed over to the New York delegation and ripped out the phone connection, ostensibly cutting off communication between the delegation and their headquarters. The Mississippi delegation took up meeting in the CBS trailer. Additionally, reporters were not allowed on the convention floor. All of this combined to create a chaotic environment.

In light of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, conservatives at the convention had enough influence to insert a plank into the platform calling for a human life amendment to the Constitution, which could have effectively overturned Roe v. Wade. In an effort to calm the fears of the progressive establishment and gain party support of the liberal wing of the party, Reagan took the risky step of promising to name liberal Senator Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania as his choice for vice president. Unfortunately for Reagan, the move backfired. Conservatives viewed it as selling.

As it turned out, whether it was the momentum lost with a poor choice of a running mate, or it just wasn’t Ronald Reagan’s time, Gerald Ford pulled out the nomination on the first ballot, squeaking by, 1,187 to 1,070.

Following his acceptance speech, Ford invited Reagan to the stage. The effect was palpable, with delegates chanting, “Reagan” over and over. According to his son, Ron, Jr., Reagan was likely conscious of the fact that nearly 50% of the people in the hall, maybe more, would have preferred him to be the candidate. Nancy Reagan reflected that Reagan turned to her and said, “I haven’t the foggiest idea of what I’m going to say.”

According to one person, the power of the speech was extraordinary, and the feeling throughout the auditorium among the delegates was that they’d nominated the wrong guy.

Indeed, history has certainly shown that on a summer night in 1976, the Republican party had nominated the wrong guy. Ford went on to lose the 1976 general election to Jimmy Carter, becoming the only person in American history to serve as president without ever having been elected to the office.

Ronald Reagan would run again four years later, winning the nomination and the presidency in a landslide over sitting president Jimmy Carter. He would go on to win reelection in the largest landslide in history, winning 49 of the 50 states, eventually becoming one of America’s greatest presidents.

Glenn Beck joined Fox News' Tucker Carlson on Thursday night to discuss Visa Inc.'s "horrifying" new plans to flag firearm sales by separately categorizing purchases at gun shops, a move that Glenn aptly described as "the next step in banning guns."

In what's been hailed as a major victory for gun control activists, Visa agreed to adopt the International Organization for Standardization's (ISO) new set of standards by creating a special merchant category code for gun and ammunition sales.

In his appearance on "Tucker Carlson Tonight," Glenn shared a letter written by Robert B. Thomson III, a senior vice president at Visa, showing that the credit card company initially pushed back on the ISO's new rules.

“We believe that asking payment networks to serve as a moral authority by deciding which legal goods can or cannot be purchased sets a dangerous precedent,” Thomson wrote in the letter to pro-gun-control lawmakers, including Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Just days later, however, Visa had agreed to comply with the ISO's plan to establish a new merchant category code for gun stores. So why did Visa suddenly flip?

As Glenn explained, it all comes down to pressure from America's largest union-owned bank, the Amalgamated Bank, one of the only unionized banks in the United States and a proud proponent of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) investing.

"This is the next step in banning guns," Glenn asserted.

"It's horrifying!" Tucker responded after several seconds of stunned silence.

"I'm so grateful you did the reporting on this," he told Glenn. "I'm not sure why it falls to you since we have a couple of very large daily newspapers in this country you'd think would want to report this, yet none of them did. So, Glenn Beck did."


On a recent episode of "The Glenn Beck Program," Glenn broke down the details of this latest attack on the Second Amendment and revealed how this is a step toward something even worse than federal gun registration. Watch the video clip below for more details. Can't watch? Download the podcast here.


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Glenn Beck: Here's why Stacey Abrams' fetal heartbeat remarks are hilarious but TERRIFYING

(Left) Image source: video screenshot/ (right) Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images

Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams has a new pro-abortion conspiracy theory: "There is no such thing as a [fetal] heartbeat at six weeks ... it is a manufactured sound designed to convince people that men have a right to take control of a woman’s body."

On the radio program Thursday, Glenn Beck and producer Stu Burguiere agreed Abrams' latest "misinformation" is not just ridiculous but could be dangerous if people are actually willing to believe her.

"If you want to defend abortion, go ahead and defend it. Defend what you're actually doing. Stop denying what is reality," Stu said. "If this is such a great defensible policy, then just come out and defend it, but they never can ... you notice how they can't go to the actual thing they say is so important. They keep defending these other things that aren't true."

Glenn said the pro-choice movement was successful for a long time because most people want the decision to be up to the woman and her doctor and that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. But when leftists began "celebrating" their abortions or calling for "abortion on demand" at any point in the pregnancy, that's when they start to lose support.

"Because they've celebrated abortion and are losing regular people, you can't put that genie back in the bottle. So, what do they have to do now? They have to take the insane step of discrediting medical machines and technology," Glenn said.

"This is after two years, by the way, of them claiming the biggest scandal in the world was people suggesting the voting machines were hacked — after they previously said that voting machines were hacked in elections they [Democrats] lost," Stu pointed out.

"Honestly, gang, think this through because this is where life gets very scary. This is where you go to authoritarian rule and you can kill millions of people because you're truly now discrediting things that everyone knows is true," Glenn warned.

"So, if you disagree ... you can say that is an evil magic box that has made up sounds in it to convince people. If they will buy that, you're at the Salem witch trials. 'If she doesn't float, she wasn't a witch.' That's what you're looking at right now — and what's frightening is, [Abrams] can say this with a straight face and no one discredits her," he continued.

"You don't think that they can convince those people that you are a terrorist because of the way you vote? [...] You don't think they can convince half the country that you should be eliminated, liquidated, put into a camp, whatever authoritarians love to do? ... We are headed towards dangerous, dangerous times. We better wake up and stand together because this is frightening — it's hilarious — but because people are taking it seriously, it is terrifying," Glenn added.

Watch the video clip below to hear more from Glenn. Can't watch? Download the podcast here.

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A big question Glenn Beck has always had about “The Amazing Do-Over” is: How do you get the most powerful and wealthy nation that has ever existed to accept, “You will own nothing … and be happy”? A foundational principle of this country from its very inception has been land ownership. We worked hard, were fiscally responsible, and stayed away from high debt, but the progressive era began to erode all of that.

The Clinton Global Initiative recently gathered the ruling class to tell the plebes how to run their finances and called anyone who dared challenge their ideas “climate change deniers.” Glenn argues we are dangerously far down the “Road to Serfdom” and exposes the progressive playbook to keep us in line. It’s a 600-year-old medieval model that’s been the plan all along.

We’re already feeling economic pain, and yet they’re playing “Game of Thrones” with our lives. Turning us into serfs is their ultimate goal. How do they finish the complete restructuring of the American financial system and our way of life?

On Wednesday night's "Glenn TV," Glenn connects it all on the chalkboard and details the solution to fighting back against the ruling elites.

Watch the full episode below:

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These days, it seems like everything is about politics, and comedy has been one of the biggest targets. Many comedians are walking on eggshells, but stand-up comedian and "Saturday Night Live" alum Jim Breuer isn't one of them.

Breuer joined Glenn on the latest episode of "The Glenn Beck Podcast" to talk about why he’d rather be funny than fearful and what inspired his hilarious comedy special, “Somebody Had to Say It," which has garnered almost 1.5 million views as of this writing.

Breuer made it clear that he does not consider himself to be political. "I'm not. I'm 100% not [political]," he told Glenn, before explaining how people started calling him political when he dared to ask questions about a certain shot that we're not allowed to mention, let alone question.

"When did medicine become political?" Breuer asked.

"What kind of price have you paid for being called political?" Glenn asked Breuer.

"To be dead honest with you, once COVID really kicked in, and ... once you realize we're not going to be here, that we're on borrowed time, and I do have God in my life ... you come to terms with reality on a deeper level. And when COVID kicked in, I said, 'You know what? All bets are off.' I already knew I wasn't in control. But now, not only am I not in control from the natural order of life, but now the puppet masters ... are in control," Breuer answered.

"It made me realize I don't have time to worry about what people think of me. I know where I'm at in life. I know where I'm at spiritually. I know where I'm at with my family," he added.

"That's tremendous power," Glenn said. "But it spooks the hell out of people."

"But it shouldn't!" Breuer exclaimed. "I'm excited that other people get this ... but they're stuck. We ain't got time for stuck. To me, this is the time of, 'You gotta rise.' For years and years and years, you allow fear to control your life. Fear of dying. Fear I might get sick ... everything's based out of fear. It's time for the fearless."

Breuer also revealed his secret for dealing with tough times, and he’s seen his share. But he also said he's seen miracles, including the incredible (and hilariously told) story of how he found faith, how God saved his marriage, and why one family friend was convinced his wife belonged to a cult.



Watch the full episode of "The Glenn Beck Podcast" below:

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