The Year of
the Six
President George W. Bush's Reaction to 1920: The Year of the Six Presidents
Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin D. Roosevelt
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"an unbelievable book you should read"Glenn Beck

Primary Reading for the University Scholastic League (UIL) Social Studies Topic for 2014-2015:
United States Political History: The Executive Branch

Source Material: Library of Congress: Presidential Election of 1920: A Resource Guide

A tale of modern America at the crossroads—grounded in solid historical research,
insightful social commentary, a compelling and innovative structure, and riveting
historical profiles.

In 1920, a record six past, present, or future chief executives eye the great prize of the
Presidency, each with a unique style and vision of the office and the nation:

Theodore Roosevelt:
The Rough Rider himself. President. Historian. Cowboy. Police
Commissioner. Trust-Buster. Explorer. Naturalist. Big-Game Hunter. Noble Prize-winner. He
has been president once—and wants the job again. Only the hand of God can keep him from
the White House in 1920.

Woodrow Wilson: Brilliant, eloquent, progressive, and self-confident. But also bigoted, self-
centered, stubborn, and messianic. He desperately plans for a League of Nations to prevent
future wars, but lacks the diplomatic and political skills to sell the idea either at home or abroad.
In the bargain, he fatally compromises article after article of his Fourteen Points and sows the
seeds of another war. "Woodrow Wilson is an exile from the hearts of his people," says Eugene
V. Debs, "The betrayal of his ideals makes him the most pathetic figure in the world." An
October 1919 stroke leaves him too crippled to lead the nation, but the nation is never told.
Fantastically, he clings to hopes of an unprecedented third term.

Warren G. Harding: Ohio small-town newspaper editor, Republican politician, and serial
adulterer. His strengths: he looks like a president, sounds like a president (if you don't listen too
carefully), and is sufficiently vague on the issues to be nominated. "America's present need," he
intones, "is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums but normalcy." America agrees.

Calvin Coolidge: Silent Cal. The taciturn Vermonter who became  Massachusetts's coldly
efficient governor. His actions during the September 1919 Boston police strike ("There is no
right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, anytime")  make him presidential
timber. In Chicago, the GOP convention stampedes and anoints him its vice-presidential

Herbert Hoover: The Great Engineer. International gold mining adventurer. Multi-millionaire.
Savior of war-ravaged Europe's starving masses. A political progressive and member of the
Wilson administration. A national hero. In 1920 Hoover wants to be president but has one big
problem: he can't decide if he's a Republican or a Democrat.

Franklin D. Roosevelt: Wilson's ambitious, but not yet properly-seasoned, under secretary of
the Navy. If the Republicans can't nominate a dead Roosevelt, the Democrats will nominate a
live one—Franklin—for vice-president.
Named by Richard Norton Smith on C-SPAN as
one of his favorite presidential campaign books.
Featured in Kirkus Reviews
"Best Books
of 2007"
Featured on C-SPAN

After Words, interviewed by
ABC News Correspondent Ann Compton

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1920 By the Numbers :

  • 100,000 members of the Ku Klux Klan
  • 556 radicals deported to Russia
  • 531 electoral votes
  • 61 lynchings
  • 44 ballots at the Democrat National Convention
  • 14 Points
  • 10 ballots at the Republican National Convention
  • 7 First Ladies
  • 6 Presidents in the running
  • 4 Presidential mistresses
  • 2.7% Beer
  • 2 Constitutional amendments
  • 2 handbills alleging the next president was black
  • 2 Italian anarchists arrested for a murder in South
    Braintree, Massachusetts
  • 1 President of Africa
  • 1 Attorney General's home bombed
  • 1 Wall Street bombing
  • 1 Presidential candidate residing in Atlanta Federal
  • 1 Catholic placed in nomination for the presidency
  • 1 commercial Radio Station on the air
  • 1 illegitimate child
  • 1 lawsuit by a Vice-Presidential nominee
  • 1 Presidential son-in-law
  • 1 fraudulent Pulitzer Prize
  • 1 League of Nations
  • 1 World War
From the Publisher:

The presidential election of 1920 was
among history's most dramatic as six
once-and-future presidents—Wilson,
Harding, Coolidge, Harding, Hoover,
and Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt—
jockeyed for the White House. With
voters choosing between Wilson's
League of Nations and Harding's front
porch isolationism, 1920's election
shaped modern America like no other.

Women won the vote. Republicans
outspent Democrats by 4 to 1, as
voters witnessed the first extensive
newsreel coverage, modern campaign
advertising, and results broadcast on
radio. We had become an urban
nation—automobiles, mass production,
chain stores, and easy credit
transformed the economy.
1920 paints
a vivid portrait of America, beset by the
Red Scare, jailed dissidents,
Prohibition, smoke-filled rooms, bomb-
throwing terrorists, and the Klan,
gingerly crossing modernity's threshold.
David Pietrusza discusses September 16, 1920's
deadly Wall Street bombing with
WCBS-TV's "Eye on New York" host Dana Tyler.
Glenn Raucher's May 2007 introduction
of David Pietrusza at Manhattan's Writer's
Voice Program
A Selection of the:

  • Book-of-the-Month Club
  • History Book Club
  • The Literary Guild
  • Quality Paperback Book Club
  • Doubleday Book Club
  • Military Book Club
  • Scientific American Book Club
Download the mp3 File of
John Rothman's Interview of
David Pietrusza on
KGO-AM, San Francisco
David Pietrusza on C-SPAN's BookTV (After Words)