Convention: White vs. Green (1908)

The Democratic National Convention, Denver 1908: White vs. Green Conventions

As the Democrats of 2008 prepare for the “greenest” (most environmentally conscious) convention ever, people might like to know that in 1908 the goal of the convention organizers, with access to Rocky Mountain snow in July, was to make it the “whitest” convention. The citizens of Denver had great masses of snow brought in by rail and piled in ten-foot mounds near the brand new civic auditorium where the convention was to be held. The snow was under police guard, and while natives were to leave it untouched, out-of-state visitors, many wearing white suits and Panama hats, plunged their arms in the cool white pile, rolled snowballs, washed each other’s faces with it and “rolled it into small marble-sized balls in order to suck the coolness.”

Workmen had been busy all weekend to decorate Sixteenth and Seventeenth Streets with buntings and flags, and the stores in the surrounding area featured political themes in their display windows. As the delegates arrived, each group was met by a marching band that escorted them to their assigned hotel, and everywhere there were city residents sporting, “Ask Me” buttons.

From the moment the delegates arrived, the city offered plenty to amuse them. Bands played at various locations throughout the downtown area, and stump speakers addressed whoever would listen. Gilpin County arranged for sightseeing trains to visit the mine around Central City and Black Hawk. Denver had also arranged for a flatbed car with a band of forty real Indians. The red men gave war dances and all sorts of other dances, intermingled with war whoops that struck momentary terror to the hearts of Easterners. (The Denver Post, July 8, 1908.)

The delegates themselves did not come empty-handed. Most arrived with promotional items from their home states. It was particularly noted that the California delegation gave away small packages of California prunes wrapped in the American flag.

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