Democrats have little hope of matching the fervor and historical import of their 2008 convention, when they made Barack Obama the first black presidential nominee of a major political party. Will they find some way to make an enduring mark in 2012? Here are five memorable moments from their earlier gatherings:
1932: Amid the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt invents the tradition of the nominee coming to the convention to accept the nomination with a speech, instead of waiting for a formal ceremony weeks later. “I pledge myself to a New Deal for the American people,” he says.
1948: Minneapolis Mayor Hubert Humphrey declares it’s time to “get out of the shadow of states’ rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights.” When support for civil rights is added to the party platform, Mississippi’s delegates and half of Alabama’s walk out.
1964: Delegates stand in tearful silence as Robert Kennedy quotes Shakespeare in tribute to his slain brother, President John F. Kennedy: “When he shall die, take him and cut him out into stars, and he shall make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun.”
1968: Vietnam War protesters are met with tear gas and billy clubs, leading a convention speaker to denounce “Gestapo tactics on the streets of Chicago.” Inside the convention hall, anti-war delegates engage in shouting matches with supporters of Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who wins the nomination. His televised speech is intercut with scenes of the melee outside.
1980: When Ted Kennedy’s challenge to President Jimmy Carter falls short, he concedes with a defiant note: “The cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.” In 2008, stricken by incurable brain cancer, Kennedy will echo these words as he passes the torch to Barack Obama: “The work begins anew, the hope rises again and the dream lives on.”
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