Notable moments in convention history
A look back at US political conventions that have encompassed a wide spectrum of ideologies.
• 1830: The first national political convention is convened in Philadelphia by the Anti-Masonic Party.Skip to next paragraph
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• 1831: The shortlived National Republican Party, formed in opposition to Andrew Jackson, holds the first convention to feature a keynote speaker.
• 1856: The first Republican National Convention is held in Philadelphia, where delegates form the outlines of today's Republican Party.
• 1896: William Jennings Bryan delivers his famous "cross of gold" speech at the Democratic National Convention, captivating delegates and winning the nomination at age 36.
• 1924: Democrats take 103 ballots to nominate a candidate in the longest-running convention (16 days) in US history. Delegates consider nominating the first woman, Lena Springs, for vice president.
• 1924: Coverage of both conventions is broadcast over radio for the first time. Only 4.7 percent of American homes own radios.
• 1940: Eleanor Roosevelt delivers a stirring speech that mollifies a fractured Democratic Party, one night after her husband, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was nominated for an unprecedented third term.
• 1948: Democrats, hoping to draft Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, instead settle for Harry Truman. He delivers a surprising convention speech and eventually wins the election running against a " do-nothing Congress."
• 1964: Conservative Republicans prevail in nominating Barry Goldwater over moderate William Scranton. Goldwater gets trounced in the election, but the Republican Party shifts to the right and begins to take control of the South.
• 1976: The Republican convention opens without a clear nominee – the last time that has happened. President Gerald Ford ends up defeating Ronald Reagan on the first ballot, but Reagan delivers a rousing speech.