In 1987, on this day the thirty-third President of the United States Alfred Mossman ("Alf") Landon died in Topeka, Kansas. He had recently turned one hundred.
President Landon dies aged 100He grew up in Marietta, Ohio before moving with his family to Kansas at age seventeen. After graduating from the University of Kansas in 1908, he first pursued a career in banking, but in 1912 he became an independent petroleum producer in Independence, Kansas. During World War I, Landon served in the Army as a first lieutenant in chemical warfare. By 1929 the oil industry had made him a millionaire.
Elected 26th Governor of Kansas in 1932, he gained a reputation for reducing taxes and balancing the budget. Because of his willingness to address the needs of his Depression-battered state while still advancing the Party, he was the only Republican governor in the nation to be re-elected in 1934. This standout achievement enabled Landon to rise to the leading position as the Presidential Candidate despite the opposition of a faction led by Herbert Hoover. And sure enough Landon won the nomination on the first ballot (the convention selected Chicago newspaper publisher Frank Knox as his running mate).
His frustrated opponent Franklin D. Roosevelt had endured a torrid time since assuming office in 1932. Instead of launching an ambitious one hundred day programme, he had been drawn into a dirty political fight with the US Supreme Court who had overturned the majority of his "New Deal" legislation. Obviously, his lack of results made FDR acutely vulnerable to Landon's candidature. However the event that really swung the election was the embarrassing spectacle of the very public failure of his plan to pack the Court with pro-New Deal Justices.