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The High Tide of American Conservatism: Davis, Coolidge, and the 1924 Election Hardcover – September 1, 2010
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''That historians have largely failed to understand the significance of that election points to what Tucker has accomplished as a non-historian. His revisionist account not only upgrades the election in historical terms, but it also casts a fresh light on Coolidge and Davis. The contest between Coolidge and Davis was unique. It was the last time Republicans and Democrats chose conservatives as presidential candidates to run against each other. Tucker is justified, I think, in calling the election 'the high tide of American conservatism.'''
--Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of The Weekly Standard and political contributor for FOX News Channel
''...As Garland S. Tucker III makes clear in this fascinating study...[this] election was the last time the presidential nominees of the two parties could both be described as conservatives...but since the Democratic party after 1924 was unreservedly the part of the left in the United States, this election may fairly be described, as Mr. Tucker does, as the 'high tide of American conservatism.'''
--Philip Terzian, The Weekly Standard
''As a pollster, who has for many years studied the shifting tides in political thought in the nation, I found Garland Tucker's book to be enormously helpful in shedding new light on the 1924 Davis/Coolidge presidential race and to its underlying meaning and significance.''
--George Gallup, historian and author
''Well-told tale of one of the most extraordinary and long forgotten Presidential elections in American history. The major party nominees in the 1924 contest were both genuine conservatives. Their conservatism was not skin-deep but rather well thought out and articulated with compelling eloquence. But after 1924 the Democrats irrevocably became the party of the Left while Republicans eventually became the party of conservatism. Those dismayed by American politics today will find solace and perhaps inspiration in reading of this election. Author Tucker has written a fascinating account of a contest we won't likely see replicated again.''
--Steve Forbes, Chairman & CEO of Forbes Media
''With The High Tide of American Conservatism, Garland Tucker has made a splendid contribution to this recovery work. Here is a well-researched, well-structured narrative of classic conservative principles in action at the highest levels of politics. Along the way we get thoughtful pen-portraits of two great American gentlemen, men of the highest honor and integrity, both of whom believed, in the words of Coolidge, that 'unless there abides in [the people] the spirit of industry and thrift, of sacrifice and self-denial, of courage and enterprise, and a belief in the reality of truth and justice, all the efforts of the Government will be in vain.''' --
John Derbyshire, National Review
''Many conservatives believe the summit of their beliefs began and ended with the sainted Reagan. Not true. As Garland S. Tucker III shows in The High Tide of American Conservatism,' in 1924 both presidential candidates, Calvin Coolidge and John Davis, campaigned for limited government, reduced taxes and low tariffs. The Republican Coolidge won in a landslide, in part because the Democrats were in the process of disowning a relatively conservative tradition dating back 40 years in favor of the new progressive politics of Franklin Roosevelt. Coolidge, arguably our least-known good president, served two terms that coincided with strong economic growth enabled in part by steep, across-the-board tax cuts. In the decades that followed, liberal historians tried, with success, to discredit and bury the economic conservatism of the 1920s. The concerns of this important period largely disappeared from the political conversation. But now they're back, thanks to the tea-party movement. Anyone seeking clarity about what's at stake in the run-up to 2012 needs to know what happened to our politics in 1924. It wasn't complicated, it was very exciting and it worked. And Garland S. Tucker III's book is a perfect guide.'' --
Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal
Well-told tale of one of the most extraordinary and long forgotten Presidential elections in American history. The major party nominees in the 1924 contest were both genuine conservatives. Their conservatism was not skin-deep but rather well thought out and articulated with compelling eloquence. But after 1924 the Democrats irrevocably became the party of the Left while Republicans eventually became the party of conservatism. Those dismayed by American politics today will find solace and perhaps inspiration in reading of this election. Author Tucker has written a fascinating account of a contest we won t likely see replicated again. --Steve Forbes, Chairman & CEO of Forbes Media
About the Author
Garland S. Tucker, III, is president/CEO of Triangle Capital Corporation, a publicly traded specialty finance company located in Raleigh, North Carolina. He graduated magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from Washington and Lee University and received an MBA degree from Harvard Business School. He is a former member of the New York Stock Exchange; serves on the boards of a number of companies, schools, and charitable organizations; and is a lifelong student of history.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is not academic history - the author is a successful businessman and apparently, quite an accomplished amateur historian. While well footnoted, most are of secondary sources (which is fine for the general reader). There is especially considerable reliance on the work of the conservative British historian, Paul Johnson. There are a few instances where some explanation might help the general reader. References are made to the Lodge Reservations to the League of Nations Treaty and the Teapot Dome scandal - in each instance a sentence or two explaining them would be useful to the reader not generally familiar with the subject matter.
Overall, a very worthy and enjoyable work - if one read this book and Frederick Lewis Allen's classic, Only Yesterday (also relied on by the author here), one would have an excellent overall picture of 1920s America.
The author has expertly pulled back the curtain revealing a decades-old slanted view of the twenties as dull, bourgeois, and ruthless, as purported by two generations of American historians. The author has rightly corrected that prevalent popular view of this era, as one in need of historical balance. He quotes Paul Rubin: "We now know that FDR's policies likely prolonged the Great Depression because the economy never fully recovered in the 1930s, and actually got worse in the latter half of the decade." And then, quotes Paul Johnson: "Coolidge Prosperity was huge, real, widespread and it showed that the concept of a property-owning democracy could be realized."
The book is well organized, even for one who is not familiar with the details of the twenties. The author sets the stage with an excellent overview of the 1920-1924 period, when the country moved from years of progressivism under Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, toward conservatism and fiscal responsibility, beginning with the Harding-Coolidge administration.
It is unfortunate that so many historians have been sympathetic to the Wilson/FDR progressivism and fail to understand Harding's governing philosophy, one who viewed the government's role as providing a stable, hospitable environment that encouraged capital investment and individual initiative.
The author has also put to rest those historians' Allan Nevins, Arthur Schlesionger, Jr., among others, who have wrongly painted Harding as an isolationist, which is pure rubbish.
Tucker next takes us on a fascinating journey through a short history of the Democrats and Republicans, which logically leads the reader to a description of the famous "103rd ballot" Democratic Convention, that split the party and nominated John Davis; and the more sedate and scripted Republican Party that nominated Coolidge.
Next, the author gives a detailed and fascinating short history of each candidate and the campaign. Readers will especially enjoy reading about these two conservatives and will learn so much that traditional historians have never researched and revealed about this historic watershed of conservatism.
Without giving away too much, suffice to say, John Davis returned to a law practice, after losing the 1924 Election, and, as a true conservative, broke with FDR, who led the Democrat Party away from conservatism, to the extreme left. Calvin Coolidge returned to private life after the White House. The Coolidge legacy is important; but few historians have acknowledged it. It would not be until the 1970s, that the Coolidge economic prosperity was re-examined. The prosperity was not built on stock speculation but on his tax cuts. Ronald Regan would discover the clue to the boom during the Coolidge years, and duplicate his economic policies.
The 1924 Election with Davis, Coolidge, and Robert LaFollette (running as a third party Progressive candidate), focused on issues that would resurface over and over in American politics, especially during the presidency of Ronald Regan; and then most recently in the current Obama era.
The reader will find this a wonderful book, complete with new pictures not previously seen, and statistical tables that complement the story. An outstanding book, which I highly recommend.