Alton B. Parker

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Alton Brooks Parker (1852-1926) was the Democratic nominee for president in 1904. Since this put him up against the popular Theodore Roosevelt, Parker never really had much of a chance, largely because his quiet, cool personality was a stark contrast to the aggressive TR.

Parker was born in Courtland, New York and served on the New York Supreme Court prior to his presidential run. Never really enthusiastic for the nomination, and never campaigning for it in his own right, Parker was placed on the ballot by conservative Democrats after the progressive faction's candidates, Richard Black of Missouri, and William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska, were unable to muster the 2/3 then needed to clinch the nomination. The hope, apparently, was that since Parker had backed Bryan's 1896 and 1900 runs despite being conservative, that he could unite the two factions.

But Roosevelt's progressivism undermined the support of the Bryan faction for Parker, as TR was considerably more liberal (and interesting) than William McKinley. I.F. Stone commented that 1904 was one of the few years in which both candidates were equally eminently qualified for the presidency, but that Parker's retiring personality and lack of appeal in his own party kept the race from becomign competitive.

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