In "The First American Political Conventions: Transforming Presidential Nominations, 1832-1872," Stan M. Haynes writes that the modern presidential nominating convention evolved during the campaign of 1832.
Between the fall of 1831 and the spring of 1832, three political parties met in Baltimore to select their candidates.
"The first presidential nominating convention in American history was held at the Athenaeum in Baltimore, located at the southwest corner of St. Paul and Lexington streets," writes Haynes, a Semmes, Bowen & Semmes attorney who lives in
It was here in 1831 that the Anti-Masonic Party nominated U.S. Attorney General William Wirt of Maryland, who received 108 of the 111 votes, on the first ballot. That December, the National
Then it was the
"Old Hickory," who was re-elected that year, and Calhoun had fallen out over the "nullification" crisis, when the vice president became a leading champion of states being able to "repudiate or nullify" an act of Congress, observed Haynes.
"To Jackson, any recognition of a state's right to nullify federal laws would destroy the
The growing struggle of states' rights over federal authority was a harbinger of things to come.
And as the slavery issue came to dominate the national agenda and political conventions of the 1850s, perhaps the stormiest convention year was 1860, as the nation careened toward civil war.
The Democrats first met in April in Charleston, S.C., which they had chosen to "promote sectional harmony and unity" and party solidarity, observed Haynes, but their hopes were to be short-lived.
Sen. Stephen A.
And when the Southerners failed to get an endorsement of slavery into the Democratic Party platform, they simply walked out. The deadlocked convention ended up leaving Douglas without the votes he needed for the nomination.
The convention reconvened in June at the Front Street Theatre in Baltimore, where Douglas was finally nominated for the presidency.
Once again, the Southerners stormed out. They retreated to the Maryland Institute, where they nominated John C. Breckinridge,
"On Friday, June 22, 1860, the
Four years later, the GOP regulars gathered at the Front Street Theatre, site of the Democratic split, to renominate
Lincoln did not appear at the convention (which was the tradition for candidates until
Haynes writes that Lincoln "responded with a low-key 'What, I am renominated?' " to the telegrapher. He asked that the news be conveyed to his wife, for "she will be more interested in it than I am."
The next morning in the East Room of the