Ken Burns Classroom

Two Americas, Democratic National Convention

Ken Burns Film: Prohibition

Collections: Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930)

Subject: US History

Grade Level: 7-12

Video Run Time: 7:57

The 1924 Democratic National Convention set the stage for one of the largest political battles between urban and rural America. The issue that nearly broke the back of the convention was the legitimacy of the Ku Klux Klan, but what was really at stake was the identity and direction of the country. For more than two weeks and 103 nominating ballots, the battle raged between the two leading contestants, New York Governor Alfred E. Smith and former Secretary of the Treasury William Gibbs McAdoo. The convention ended with both sides exhausted and a lackluster nominee, John W. Davis, who got crushed by Calvin Coolidge in the general election.