Press passes Mailer used during the Republican and Democratic national conventions. © Estate of Norman Mailer
Visitor's guide to Miami Beach.
The Republican National Convention took place in Miami Beach, Florida, a setting that Mailer described as "a sultan's strip... [whose] air conditioning is pushed to that icy point where women may wear fur coats over their diamonds in the tropics."
Page of Mailer's handwritten notes for Miami and the Siege of Chicago. © Estate of Norman Mailer
In this text Mailer compares his impressions of three candidates for the Republican Presidential Nomination: Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and—briefly—Nelson Rockefeller. He writes in a style typical of New Journalism, the newly emergent literary genre his writing ultimately helped to solidify. For example, Mailer references himself in the third person as "the reporter," unabashedly offers his subjective opinion, and underscores his observations with personal life experience.
Tally sheet of the Republican nominees from Mailer's personal files. © Estate of Norman Mailer
Mailer's press pass for the Democratic National Convention, August 1968. © Estate of Norman Mailer
The Democratic National Convention took place from August 26-29 at the International Amphitheater in Chicago. Norman Mailer described Chicago as "the great American city." In his words,
Chicago was a town where no one could forget how the money was made. It was picked up from floors still slippery with blood, and if one did not protest and take a vow of vegetables, one knew at least that life was hard, life was in the flesh and in the massacre of the flesh—one breathed the last agonies of beasts. So something of the entrails and the secrets of the guts got into the faces of native Chicagoans. A great city, a strong city with faces tough as leather hide and pavement... In Chicago, they did it straight, they cut the animals right out of their hearts—which is why it was the last of the great American cities, and people had great faces, carnal as blood, greedy, direct, too impatient for hypocrisy, in love with honest plunder.
Photograph of Norman Mailer giving a speech, August 1968. Unidentified photographer.
This photograph of Norman Mailer at the Grant Park rally during the Democratic National Convention was probably sent to Mailer by Roger Feldman.
Letter sent from Roger Feldman to Norman Mailer on September 3, 1970. © Estate of Norman Mailer
This letter from one of Norman Mailer's readers reveals the characters and background behind a scene at the Grant Park Rally, which Norman Mailer describes in Miami and the Siege of Chicago. As Norman Mailer's editor put it, the author, Roger Feldman, was "indirectly responsible" for the creation of what became at least one paragraph in Norman Mailer's book.
Photograph of an arrested demonstrator, 26 August 1968, Tribune Staff photographer.
This photographer was taken during the Democratic National Convention in the midst of the Chicago riots. The caption reads: "police subdue demonstrator who attempted to cross Michigan Avenue Bridge after marching with several hundred down Michigan Avenue. Marchers were stopped here." The civilian in this image was one of roughly 10,000 people who descended upon Chicago during the conventions to protest in the streets. They were met by 23,000 police and National Guardsmen, which Chicago Mayor Richard Daley enlisted to contain the riots. Norman Mailer described the chaos that ensued:
At the other end was the chaos of Michigan Avenue when the police fulfilled their Yippie christening and flailed at the wild forage like wild pigs... Yes, children, and youths, and middle-aged men and women were being pounded and clubbed and gassed and beaten, hunted and driven, sent scattering in all directions by teams of policemen who had exploded out of their restraint like the bursting of a boil.
Daley later justified this use of force by claiming to have received intelligence that assassination plots would be attempted on the conventions' leaders, a threat which, on the heels of the Kennedy and MLK assassinations, resonated with the fears of many Americans at the time. No evidence was found that such plots had been intended.
Channing Phillips Political Button.
Channing Phillips, who had headed President Kennedy's presidential campaign in Washington D.C. previous to his assassination, was the first black man to be entered into the nomination for president by a major political party. A civil rights leader, social activist, and minister, Phillips received the ballots of 67 ½ delegates.