The 1920 Presidential Race: The Important Election Most Americans Know Nothing About

Rochester Institute of Technology

Richard Newman is a professor of American history at Rochester Institute of Technology. He has appeared on PBS, NPR, and C-SPAN, and is the author or editor of seven books about American and African American history, including Love Canal: A Toxic History from Colonial Times to the Present, and Freedom’s Prophet: Bishop Richard Allen, the AME Church, and the Black Founding Fathers.



November 2, 2022, 4:00 pm

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The election of 1920 is often viewed as an utterly lackluster event. Even the winner — Republican Warren Harding defeated Democrat James Cox — is viewed by many scholars as a boring politician who symbolized American political apathy during the otherwise Roaring Twenties. But a fresh look at the election shows that it doesn’t deserve this reputation; in fact, it was one of the most important presidential contests in the last 100 years. In this lecture, Professor Richard Newman will delve into the many reasons why. From debates over America’s global role following the First World War, to women’s impact on party politics in the wake of the 19th amendment, to concerns about racial justice following a host of terrible mob attacks on Black communities in the bloody “Red Summer” of 1919, the election of 1929 prompted a wide variety of citizens to meditate on the future of American democracy. It was a stage setting election that we often ignore but shouldn’t.


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