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Washington voters pick Warren G. Harding for president and Louis F. Hart as governor on November 2, 1920.

HistoryLink.org Essay 5576 : Printer-Friendly Format

On November 2, 1920, Washington voters pick Republicans Warren G. Harding (1865-1923) as president and Louis F. Hart (1862-1929) as governor. Republicans sweep statewide offices, and Farm-Labor Party candidates poll more votes than Democratic contenders.

American Isolationism Following Great War

The principal issue in the presidential campaign was U.S. ratification of the League of Nations. President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) had requested a "solemn referendum" of the American people on the matter. Harding, a U.S. Senator from Ohio, defeated Ohio Governor James M. Cox (1870-1957) with a large majority. The Republican victory indicated a rejection of U.S. involvement in foreign affairs. The U.S. never joined the League of Nations.

Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945), Assistant Secretary of the Navy in the Wilson Administration, campaigned in Seattle and delivered a speech. Attendance was low and left a feeling that, "while he was a very nice young man, with a pleasing personality, he lacked the dynamic force and intensity to go very far in American political life" (Stewart).

Republican Governor Louis F. Hart had succeeded to the office upon the death of Governor Ernest Lister (1870-1919), a Democrat.

White Farmers v. Japanese American Farmers

The Farm-Labor party in Washington grew out of the discontent of farmers following the collapse of crop prices after World War I and was made up of many disaffected Democrats. Anti-Japanese feeling among farmers and workers ran high and an initiative to prohibit the ownership of land by aliens (modeled after a California law targeting Japanese immigrants) barely missed qualifying for the 1920 ballot. Farm-Labor gubernatorial candidate Robert Bridges (1861-1921) lost votes when his Democratic opponent disclosed that Bridges had leased land to two Japanese tenants. Bridges stuck by his party's equality platform.

Election Results

The vote counts for presidential electors were approximately as follows:

  • Republican - 222,000
  • Democrat - 83,000
  • Farm-Labor - 77,000

    Other races were as follows:

    Governor

  • Louis F. Hart (R) - 210,662
  • W. W. Black (D) - 66,079
  • Robert Bridges (FL) - 121,371

    U.S. Senator
  • Wesley L. Jones (R) - 217,069
  • George F. Cotterill (D) - 68,488
  • C. L. France (FL) - 99,309
  • Sources:
    Edgar I. Stewart, Washington: Northwest Frontier (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1957), 257-260; Richard C. Berner, Seattle 1900-1920: From Boomtown, Urban Turbulence, to Restoration (Seattle: Charles Press, 1991), 314-315.


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    Warren G. Harding (1865-1923), 1921
    Courtesy Library of Congress


     
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