McLean for president!… Or so Mencken proposed


“[During a 1926 train tour of the South, H. L. Mencken mischievously touted a succession of Southern governors as presidential contenders.]  After attending a Carolina-Duke football game with Dr. and Mrs. Fred Hanes of Chapel Hill he met the press ….  Far be it from a magazine editor to interfere in local politics, but Governor Angus McLean for President!

“In Charlotte the pro-McLean Observer went into the governor’s chances with great editorial seriousness; in Winston-Salem the anti-McLean Sentinel sniffed, ‘The South has a way of picking its own candidates for President, whether native sons or otherwise, and it does not need the services of H. L. Mencken.’

“Incredible as it may seem, all the booms took hold. Everywhere local bosses and bosslets committed themselves, [and] committees were forming [until] the Associated Press, noting a remarkable similarity in all the booms, put two and two together and let the cat out of the bag.

“They were months getting it all straightened out.”

— From “The Sage of Baltimore: The Life and Riotous Times of H. L. Mencken” (1950)  by William Manchester