February 6, 2023
Chevy Chase, Maryland
Frank Mayes was on a mission to ingratiate himself into the upper echelons of Democratic party power centers, and Emmett was part of his grand scheme to be come a national political player; though I believe that once Mayes made it big as a behind-the-scenes kingmaker of sorts, he was going to cut Emmett loose. Emmett was, by 1912, too much of a liability, even though he was able to hide his drinking fairly well from those who weren’t close to him. Mayes just had to get Emmett into office, and start reaping the benefits of his personal Congressional connection. Mayes just had to keep Emmett focused on doing whatever it took to keep up a good front until the General Election, which was less than five months away. There were other plans already in the works once Emmett was elected.
So, while Mayes was in Baltimore, he promoted his “investment” to anyone and everyone who could help further his cause.
The national press didn’t know about Emmett-as-liability yet, and, Mayes was banking on that. What better way to shore up one’s image than to leak tidbits to reporters from other parts of the country who didn’t know Emmett’s back story?
After all, Emmett was newsworthy:
What’s interesting is that most of the coverage about Emmett in other sources reporting on the Democratic National Convention noted that he mostly observed what was going on, he was not talkative, and he kept to himself. I wonder how much of that was true, though.
If you’ve ever attended one of these conventions, it’s far from tame — boozing, carousing, and all sorts of nutty behavior can and does take place when folks are away from home and ‘off the leash’ — and the Baltimore papers reported about partying going on every day, and all night long, during the 1912 convention. It was nuts. Take a look on the historic newspaper databases at ANY of the reports on the convention, especially The Baltimore Sun or the Washington, D.C. Evening Star.
Emmett was probably careful while he was in Baltimore, in terms of drinking too much in public or carousing, but I doubt he was quiet and off to bed before 10 pm at any time during the convention. He was just like any other young man visiting a large metropolitan area, meeting new people, experiencing new things, seeing new sights. His experiencing all of the newness of what lay ahead of him as a future congressman (and the attention he was getting) was intoxicating too, whether booze was involved or not.
Mayes’ golden boy partied right along with everyone else in Baltimore, learned a lot, and had a good time. Not doubt this made Frank Mayes’ chaperoning a challenge; but, Mayes did protect his investment. How much work Mayes had to do to keep some of Emmett’s convention extracurricular behavior out of the reporting of other newspapers is unknown, but I’m certain Mayes did step in on occasion during the convention.
Categories: Book Congressman Florida History
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