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where were they then? (Alton Brooks Parker)

William Jennings Bryan is famously an electoral loser, but he wasn’t always a loser. In 1904, Alton B. Parker was. Don’t know much about Alton B. Parker? Neither do I, but he won the Democratic presidential nomination in 1904 after having been (scroll down for the correct Parker) chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals. I don’t know anything about his merits as a candidate, but Wikipedia notes:

In author Irving Stone’s 1943 book, They Also Ran, about defeated presidential candidates, a chapter about Judge Parker mentioned that he is the only defeated presidential candidate in history never to have a biography written about him. Stone theorized that Parker would have been an effective president and the 1904 election was one of a few in American history in which voters had two first-rate candidates to choose from. Stone professed that Americans liked Roosevelt more because of his colorful style.

After the election Parker went back to being a lawyer, though it appears he was still referred to as “judge” – as was the style at the time. And in today’s 1908 New-York Tribune, he (or someone with the exact same name) makes a surprise appearance at the bottom of the front page:


Toston, Mont., July 16.–Judge Alton B. Parker, while visiting here yesterday, took part in a tragedy. The dead: One large and vociferous rattlesnake. The judge was riding a horse in the wake of a band of sheep at Riverside Ranch, when he took judicial cognizance of the reptile. The rattler waved its tail. His honor, not to be outdone, waived all technicalities, and by virtue of his authority and a large stone executed the defendant on the spot.

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