The Election of 1912 Part II


The convention proceeded to nominate candidates. On the first ballot Clark had 440 1/2 votes, Wilson 324, Harmon 148, Underwood 117 1/2, and other candidates 56. Balloting continued with the probability, as it seemed, that when at last the conservatives were convinced that neither the Clark nor the Wilson men would come to either Harmon or Underwood, they would throw the strength of these two men to Clark, which would give him such a lead that he would secure the two-thirds vote demanded for a nomination in a democratic convention. The New York delegation, voting under the unit rule and dominated by Murphy, the Tammany leader, was supposed to be directing this move, and Sullivan, leader of the Illinois organization, and Taggart, who occupied a similar relation to the Indiana delegation, were said to be cooperating with Murphy. If this plan succeeded, the effect of Bryan's resolution against capitalistic domination would be lost.

The Nebraskan watched these proceedings carefully. He was voting steadily for Clark, for whom his state's delegation was instructed but his personal influence was thrown for Wilson. On the twelfth ballot the New York delegation changed from Harmon to Clark. While the fourteenth was being taken. Bryan read a statement saying that Nebraska indorsed Clark, thinking he was progressive and opposed to the policy for which New York stood. He closed by declaring he would no longer support New York's candidate, nor would he help nominate a man under obligations to "Morgan, Ryan, Belmont, or any other member of the privilege-seeking, favor-hunting class." This announcement angered the Clark men, but it found response among the Western and Southern
delegates, who for sixteen years had battled against the class that Bryan arraigned. It checked the trend to Clark and was followed by a rise in Wilson's vote. The time was then near midnight, Saturday, June 29, and the convention adjourned to Monday. Clark, naturally much exasperated, issued a denial of the charges implied in Bryan's statement, and Bryan publicly announced that he did not doubt Clark's good intentions but distrusted the forces combining to secure his nomination. Many futile ballots were taken on Monday, July 1.It began to be feared that a deadlock was inevitable, and rumor said that Bryan would propose an adjournment with a referendum. Such a course would undoubtedly defeat the conservatives, and they relaxed their efforts. On the 46th ballot enough of them came to Wilson to secure his nomination. Thomas R. Marshall, of Indiana, was named for vice-president. The platform pledged the candidate, if elected, to one term only.

The day after the republican convention adjourned the Roosevelt forces in Chicago met in a mass-meeting, resolved to organize a new party, and appointed a committee to carry out their purposes. The result was a national convention at Chicago, August 5, 1912. Eighteen of its delegates were women, indicating the party's indorsement of woman's suffrage. There was much enthusiasm, and a touch of crusading zeal showed forth when the ten thousand delegates and their friends sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "Onward, Christian Soldiers." Roosevelt announced the principles of the party in a speech which won the admiration of friends and foes. He demanded that government be dependent on the will of the people, that machine politics be destroyed,
that women be allowed to vote, that labor be given better wages and shorter hours of work, and that social justice be secured in all the relations of government. August 7 the ticket was selected, Roosevelt for president and Hiram W. Johnson, governor of California, for vice-president. The organization was called the "progressive party," and active efforts were made, before and after the convention, to perfect its state and local organizations.

Rarely has a campaign been fought so bitterly with such a slight difference of men and principles. In comparison with old-time leaders Taft, Wilson, and Roosevelt were all liberals, although they differed in degrees of liberalism. On the tariff republicans and progressives stood practically together, demanding lower rates on a protective basis with a view of maintaining the higher wages of American workmen. The democrats repudiated protection and declared for a tariff for revenue only. Republicans and progressives would regulate the trusts, although the former wished to make the officials of the trusts criminally liable, while the latter asked that patents be robbed of their worst monopolistic features. The democrats opposed trusts generally, desired to regulate more effectively interstate public utilities, and to strengthen federal control of interstate commerce without weakening state control. The republicans ignored the initiative and referendum and declared against judicial recall, although they asked for an easier method than impeachment of removing bad judges. The progressives indorsed each of these three measures, and demanded a referendum for judicial decisions annulling state laws. All the parties supported conservation of natural resources, a parcels post, currency reform, and laws to prevent abuses in campaign contributions. The democrats and progressives indorsed the popular election of United States senators, a federal income tax, and the nomination of candidates in primaries. The progressives demanded woman's suffrage, an easier method of amending the constitution, registration of lobbyists, exclusion of federal officials from political activity, a department of labor, promotion of labor unions, and protection of the people from deceptive investment schemes.

The campaign abounded in bitter attacks on Roosevelt by democrats and republicans. La Follette, who felt keenly his own repudiation, declared he was the victim of treachery. He is supposed to have given aid to the democrats. Wilson himself denounced the progressive candidate as a tool the steel trust and as a self-seeker. Roosevelt replied with emphasis and made many speeches in the North, West, and South. In Milwaukee, October 14, he was shot by an insane man who imagined that Roosevelt was responsible for the murder of McKinley. A serious flesh wound was the result, but an excellent constitution well preserved by temperate habits enabled him to recover rapidly. Taft conducted a quiet campaign and made few speeches. There was little hope of his election, and many republicans probably voted for Wilson to make sure of Roosevelt's defeat.

The election occurred November 5, and of the 531 electoral votes Wilson received 435, Roosevelt 88, and Taft 8. For the last-named but two states voted, Utah and Vermont. Five declared Election for Roosevelt Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Washington. In California the contest was close and 11 progressive and 2 democratic electors were chosen. The
popular vote was 6,200,818 for Wilson, 4,123,206 for Roosevelt, 3,484,520 for Taft, 898,296 for Debs (socialist), 207,965 for Chafin (prohibitionist), and 29,071 for Reimer (socialist-labor). The democrats carried the house of representatives by a majority of 147 over republicans and progressive republicans.


Website: The History
Article Name: The Election of 1912 Part II
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: A Short History of the United States by John Spencer Bassett, Ph.D. The Macmillan Company 1913
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