Cast of Characters
Nan Britton—A small town girl with a big crush—on the next
president of the United States, United States Senator Warren
G. Harding—and she will bear his child.
Heywood Broun—The Republican New York Tribune's in-
house radical. Trenchantly brilliant observer of the 1920
Democratic and Republican conventions.
William Jennings Bryan—"The "Silver Tongued Orator of
the Platte." Legendary voice of the old agrarian-based
populism. Three-time Democratic presidential nominee.
Wilson's disgruntled pacifist Secretary of State. Waiting in the
wings in 1920, but the times have passed him by.
Carrie Chapman Catt—Suffragette leader. Prohibitionist.
President of the (for whites only) National American Woman
Suffrage Association. In August 1920, her battle for women's
votes races to conclusion.
Professor William Estabrook Chancellor—The
obsessively racist Ohio college professor whose accusations
that Harding is part black tosses the election into last-minute
Calvin Coolidge—Silent Cal. The taciturn Vermonter who
became Massachusetts' coldly efficient governor. His words
following 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
Grace Goodhue Coolidge—Calvin's charming and ever-
patient wife. Her husband writes: "She has borne with my
infirmities, and I have rejoiced in her graces." No one
disagreed with the assessment.
Gov. James Middleton Cox—Warren Harding's feisty
Democratic twin, a small town Ohio newspaper editor who
dabbles in state politics, has his own marital troubles, and,
when no other candidate proves suitable, wins a presidential
Josephus Daniels—The North Carolina segregationist and
prohibitionist newspaper baron who becomes Woodrow
Wilson's Secretary of the Navy and FDR's long-suffering boss.
Harry Michajah Daugherty—The unsavory Ohio politico and
lobbyist who attaches himself to Warren Harding and rides
him all the way to the Attorney Generalship—and ultimately to
Eugene Victor Debs—Imprisoned anti-war Socialist Party
ideologue and editor. "Federal prisoner 9653" campaigns for
the presidency from his Atlanta Penitentiary jail cell—and
garners nearly a million votes.
Henry Ford—Hero of the American industrial revolution,
father of the burgeoning auto industry, pacifist, politician, and,
as publisher of the Dearborn Independent, the nation's
Marcus Garvey—Jamaican-born founder of the mass-
movement Universal Negro Improvement Association. Self-
proclaimed Provisional President of Africa. Garvey launches a
black owned steamship company, numerous other black
businesses—and the back-to-Africa movement.
Adm. Cary Grayson—Woodrow Wilson's personal
physician. With Edith Wilson, Grayson hides President
Wilson's crippling infirmities from the American people.
Florence Kling DeWolfe Harding—"The Duchess." Warren
Harding's strong-willed, older wife. The brains behind his
modest newspaper empire. The Duchess prophesizes: "I can
see but one word written above his head if they make [Warren]
President, and that word is Tragedy."
Sen. Warren Gamaliel 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 most issues to be nominated. "America's present
need," he intones, "is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums
but normalcy." America agrees.
Col. George B. Harvey—Publisher of Harper's Weekly and
The North American Review. Wilson's earliest political
backer. Wilson openly repays Harvey with ingratitude and
scorn. At the 1920 Republican convention Harvey asks
Harding if he has anything in his record to disqualify him from
the presidency. Harding will lie.
Will Hays—Chairman of the Republican National Committee.
The nation's savviest political operative. Presidential timber.
William Randolph Hearst—The controversial radical press
baron. He opposes the League of Nations and toys with third
party presidential schemes.
Herbert Hoover—The Great Engineer. International gold
mining adventurer. Multi-millionaire. Savior of war-ravaged
Europe's starving masses. Political progressive. Member of
the Wilson administration. A national hero. In 1920 Hoover
covets the presidency but has one big problem: he can't
decide if he's a Republican or a Democrat.
J. Edgar Hoover—The ambitious, young Justice Department
lawyer who orchestrates Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer's
Col. Edward Mandell House—The brilliant, manipulative
little Texan who flatters his way into Woodrow Wilson's heart.
Wilson loved him—until he dumped him.
Sen. Hiram W. Johnson—TR's 1912 running mate hopes to
inherit TR's progressive mantel. His liberalism alienates the
right. His "irreconcilable" isolationism alienates the left. His
personality alienates everybody. Johnson looked, said one
historian, "like a bad-tempered baby."
John T. King—Connecticut Republican wheeler-dealer. He
manages TR's campaign, then Leonard Wood's. "John
supplies the efficiency," says TR, "and I supply the morals."
Albert D. Lasker—The Texas-born Chicago advertising
genius who helps fuel Warren Harding's 1920 campaign
Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge—The quintessential Boston
Brahmin. Author. Classical scholar. Intellectual. Chairman of
the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Lodge's loathing of
Woodrow Wilson ("I never expected to hate anyone in politics
with the hatred I feel toward Wilson") helps fuel his vendetta
against Wilson's League of Nations.
Alice Roosevelt Longworth—-TR's daughter, wife of House
Speaker Nicholas Longworth, lover of progressive Idaho
Senator William E. Borah. The most deliciously acerbic
observer of Washington's social scene--and of Warren
Gov. Frank O. Lowden—Illinois's capable, middle-of-the-
road Republican reform governor. A prime contender for the
nomination. His presidential ambitions founder on charges of
Dudley Field Malone—-The Wilson crony who quits his
lucrative patronage position to protest the imprisonment of
suffragettes. Later, he seeks the presidency on a radical third
William Gibbs McAdoo—Wall Street lawyer and financier.
Secretary of the Treasury. Woodrow Wilson's son-in-law.
McAdoo plans to succeed his father-in-law in the White
House. His problem: Wilson has no intention of leaving.
Lucy Mercer—Eleanor Roosevelt's social secretary. In 1917,
Eleanor discovers Lucy has become too social with Franklin.
The affair permanently damages the Roosevelt marriage, but
some excuse it. "He deserved a good time," TR's sharp-
tongued daughter Alice observes, "He was married to
A. Mitchell Palmer—Wilson's ambitious Attorney General.
After an anarchist bomb destroys Palmer's home, Palmer
transforms himself from Quaker progressive to fierce Red
hunter, jailing 10,000 radicals, deporting 556, and warning of
a Red uprising—all on the way to a run for the presidency.
Palmer's chances evaporate when the uprising never occurs.
Alice Stokes Paul—Suffragette leader. Anti-war activist.
Hunger-striker. Founder of the National Women's Party. A
vengeful power structure bars her from enjoying suffrage's
Mary Allen Hulbert Peck—An engaging, artistically inclined
New England widow. Was she Woodrow Wilson's
correspondent, friend, and Bermuda-vacation chum? Or his
Sen. Boies Penrose--Boss of the Pennsylvania Republican
Party and unofficial leader of the national GOP's standpat
wing. Is he manipulating the Republican National Convention
from his Philadelphia sickbed?
Carrie Fulton Phillips--Marion, Ohio housewife and friend of
Warren and Florence Harding who became Warren's most
dangerous mistress. A German sympathizer during World
War, she blackmails her lover during the 1920 presidential
William Cooper Procter--Millionaire Ivory Soap
manufacturer. An early adversary of Woodrow Wilson. In 1920,
Procter manages Leonard Wood's campaign. His soap floats.
His candidate sinks.
John R. Rathom—The controversial, rotund, Australian-born
Providence Journal publisher who exposes FDR's
scandalously inept handling of an explosive homosexual
scandal at the Newport Navy base.
Eleanor Roosevelt—TR's niece. FDR's fifth cousin and wife.
By 1920 their marriage is already seriously damaged by his
infidelities. A sheltered child of privilege, her social
conscience is just beginning to emerge.
Franklin D. Roosevelt—The handsome, jaunty, Harvard-
educated dilettante who hopes to parlay his Roosevelt
pedigree and charm into the presidency. He's already
retraced TR's steps as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. But is
he mature enough to go farther?
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.
Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti—Italian immigrant
anarchists accused of murder and robbery. Their case
explodes into an international cause celebre.
Col. William J. Simmons—Inspired by D. W. Griffith's The
Birth of a Nation, this failed ex-preacher creates "The World's
Greatest Secret, Social, patriotic, Fraternal, Beneficiary
Order" of them all, the infamous Ku Klux Klan.
William Howard Taft—The seventh president on the scene
for the election of 1920. Taft has learned his lesson and wants
no part of the White House. Once derided as a hide-bound
conservative, Big Bill Taft now personifies moderation: pro-
League of Nations and anti-Wilson.
Joseph P. Tumulty—The savvy New Jersey Irish Catholic
politico who serves as Wilson's loyal and efficient personal
Wayne B. Wheeler—Wily boss of the Anti-Saloon League.
He bestows prohibition upon a thirsty nation.
Edith Bolling Galt Wilson—"America's First Female
President." The Washington, D.C. jeweler's widow who
became Woodrow Wilson's second wife. Their whirlwind
courtship provokes scandalous Washington whispers. With
her husband incapacitated, she rules the nation.
Woodrow Wilson—Brilliant, eloquent, progressive, and self-
confident. But also bigoted, self-centered, stubborn, and
messianic. He desperately dreams of a League of Nations to
prevent future wars, but can't sell the idea, either at home or
abroad. Compromising article after article of his Fourteen
Points, he sows the seeds of another war. "Woodrow Wilson
is an exile from the hearts of his people," says Gene 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
hopes for an unprecedented third term.
Gen. Leonard Wood—A law-and-order Man on Horseback.
The heir to TR's "Rough Rider" traditions. The early favorite for
the 1920 Republican nomination.