Lawyer Pens Book On Political Conventions History
By MATT OWINGS
The Daily Record of Baltimore
BALTIMORE (AP) — Like a lot of lawyers, Stan M. Haynes loves to read American history. Unlike most lawyers, Haynes loves it so much he’s written a book about it.
Recently published, “The First American Political Conventions: Transforming Presidential Nominations, 1832-1872” chronicles the beginnings of the nomination process and how Baltimore played an integral role.
“I was a history major in college,” said Haynes, who received his bachelor’s from the College of William & Mary in 1980 and his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1983. “So, I’ve always been an American history nut.”
Haynes said his interest in the early American presidential contests sparked his desire to write.
“I was curious to see where all these conventions were held, since I work in Baltimore,” he said.
“I always thought I wanted to write a book, and it had a lot of local history in it. It just seemed like the right thing to do.”
The venture took roughly two years for Haynes to complete, and it wasn’t an easy task for a full-time lawyer. Haynes primarily works on employer defense cases and workers’ compensation issues at Baltimore’s Semmes, Bowen & Semmes.
“I would work on it in the evenings at home,” he said. Research was done during the week, while weekends — where he had large timeframes to “sit and think”– were devoted to writing, he said.
The 276-page book hit shelves this May, in plenty of time for the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., this month and the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., the first week of September.
That timing, in fact, eventually dictated Haynes’ choice of a publisher.
“I don’t have an agent, so that eliminated a lot of the publishing companies right off the bat,” he said.
He chose McFarland & Co. Inc, an independent publisher based in North Carolina that caters primarily to the library audience, with academic texts and other nonfiction books.
About nine months ago, McFarland offered Haynes a contract guaranteeing the book’s summer release — something other companies could not promise.
“I’m a lawyer,” he said, when talking about the time-consuming project. “So I’m used to the legal process being slow.”
The book features anecdotes and other accounts of conventions found by researching old newspaper articles, convention transcripts and biographies from those who experienced these early political gatherings in Baltimore and elsewhere.
Collecting the stories could be difficult at times, Haynes said.
“The sources were scarce,” he said. “Early newspapers aren’t always available.”
One story followed the unusual path of a man who believed he was Benjamin Franklin. The impersonator dressed as the founding father as he marched around Baltimore giving speeches during one of the convention here. (For more about the book, check out its website, americanpoliticalconventions.com.)
According to Haynes, his book was meant to be less of a scholarly work and more of a “quick read for the casual history person.”
And, he said, he hopes it will not be his last.
“I have to confess: I enjoy it. It’s a nice relief from what I normally do every day. I’ll probably continue it,” Haynes said, “as long as somebody buys the books.”
Information from: The Daily Record of Baltimore www.mddailyrecord.com
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)