Progressive Party (United States, 1912)
As a member of the Republican Party
, Roosevelt had served as president from 1901 to 1909, becoming increasingly progressive in the later years of his presidency. In the 1908 presidential election
, Roosevelt helped ensure that he would be succeeded by Secretary of War
Taft. Although Taft entered office determined to advance Roosevelt's Square Deal
domestic agenda, he stumbled badly during the Payne–Aldrich Tariff Act
debate and the Pinchot–Ballinger controversy
. The political fallout of these events divided the Republican Party and alienated Roosevelt from his former friend.
Progressive Republican leader Robert M. La Follette
had already announced a challenge to Taft for the 1912 Republican nomination, but many of his supporters shifted to Roosevelt after the former president decided to seek a third presidential term, which was permissible under the Constitution
prior to the ratification of the Twenty-second Amendment
. At the 1912 Republican National Convention
, Taft narrowly defeated Roosevelt for the party's presidential nomination. After the convention, Roosevelt, Frank Munsey
, George Walbridge Perkins
and other progressive Republicans established the Progressive Party and nominated a ticket of Roosevelt and Hiram Johnson
of California at the 1912 Progressive National Convention
. The new party attracted several Republican officeholders, although nearly all of them remained loyal to the Republican Party—in California, Johnson and the Progressives took control of the Republican Party.
The party's platform built on Roosevelt's Square Deal
domestic program and called for several progressive reforms. The platform asserted that "to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day". Proposals on the platform included restrictions on campaign finance
contributions, a reduction of the tariff
and the establishment of a social insurance
system, an eight-hour workday
and women's suffrage
. The party was split on the regulation of large corporations, with some party members disappointed that the platform did not contain a stronger call for "trust-busting
". Party members also had different outlooks on foreign policy, with pacifists like Jane Addams
opposing Roosevelt's call for a naval build-up.
In the 1912 election, Roosevelt won 27.4% of the popular vote compared to Taft's 23.2%, making Roosevelt the only third party presidential nominee
to finish with a higher share of the popular vote than a major party's presidential nominee. Both Taft and Roosevelt finished behind Democratic
nominee Woodrow Wilson
, who won 41.8% of the popular vote and the vast majority of the electoral vote
. The Progressives elected several Congressional and state legislative candidates, but the election was marked primarily by Democratic gains. The 1916 Progressive National Convention
was held in conjunction with the 1916 Republican National Convention
in hopes of reunifying the parties with Roosevelt as the presidential nominee of both parties. The Progressive Party collapsed after Roosevelt refused the Progressive nomination and insisted his supporters vote for Charles Evans Hughes
, the moderately progressive Republican nominee. Most Progressives joined the Republican Party, but some converted to the Democratic Party and Progressives like Harold L. Ickes
would play a role in President Franklin D. Roosevelt
's administration. In 1924, La Follette set up another Progressive Party
for his presidential run. A third Progressive Party
was set up in 1948 for the presidential campaign of former vice president Henry A. Wallace
was the founder of the Progressive Party and thus is often associated with the party
Roosevelt left office in 1909. He had selected Taft, his Secretary of War
, to succeed him as presidential candidate and Taft easily won the 1908 presidential election
. Roosevelt became disappointed by Taft's increasingly conservative policies. Taft upset Roosevelt when he used the Sherman Anti-Trust Act
to sue U.S. Steel
for an action that President Roosevelt had explicitly approved.
They became openly hostile and Roosevelt decided to seek the presidency. Roosevelt entered the campaign late as Taft was already being challenged by Progressive leader senator Robert La Follette
of Wisconsin. Most of La Follette's supporters switched to Roosevelt, leaving the Wisconsin senator embittered.
Nine of the states where progressive elements were strongest had set up preference primaries, which Roosevelt won, but Taft had worked far harder than Roosevelt to control the Republican Party's organizational operations and the mechanism for choosing its presidential nominee, the 1912 Republican National Convention
. For example, he bought up the votes of delegates from the southern states, copying the technique Roosevelt himself used in 1904. The Republican National Convention rejected Roosevelt's protests. Roosevelt and his supporters walked out and the convention re-nominated Taft. The next day, Roosevelt supporters met to form a new political party of their own. California governor Hiram Johnson
became its chairman and a new convention was scheduled for August. Most of the funding came from wealthy sponsors, magazine publisher Frank A. Munsey
provided $135,000; and George W. Perkins
, a director of U.S. Steel and chairman of the International Harvester Company
, gave $130,000 and became its executive secretary. Roosevelt's family gave $77,500 and others gave $164,000. The total was nearly $600,000, far less than the major parties.
The new party had serious structural defects. Since it insisted on running complete tickets against the regular Republican ticket in most states, few Republican politicians were willing to support it. The exception was California, where the progressive element took control of the Republican Party and Taft was not even on the November ballot. Only five of the 15 more progressive Republican Senators declared support for it. Republican Representatives, Governors, committeemen and the publishers and editors of Republican-leaning newspapers showed comparable reluctance. Many of Roosevelt's closest political allies supported Taft, including his son-in-law, Nicholas Longworth
(though Roosevelt's daughter Alice
stuck with her father, causing a permanent chill in her marriage). For men like Longworth, expecting a future of his own in Republican politics, bolting the party
would have seemed tantamount to career suicide. However, many independent reformers still signed up.
Historian Jonathan Lurie notes that scholars usually identify Roosevelt as the leader most identified with progressive conservatism. Roosevelt said he had "always believed that wise progressivism and wise conservatism go hand in hand".
However, Taft and his supporters often hailed Taft as the model progressive conservative and Taft himself said he was "a believer in progressive conservatism".
Four decades later Dwight D. Eisenhower
declared himself an advocate of "progressive conservatism".
Progressive convention and platform
Despite these obstacles, the August convention opened with great enthusiasm. Over 2,000 delegates attended, including many women. In 1912, neither Taft nor Wilson endorsed women's suffrage on the national level.
The notable suffragist and social worker Jane Addams
gave a seconding speech for Roosevelt's nomination, but Roosevelt insisted on excluding black Republicans from the South (whom he regarded as a corrupt and ineffective element).
Yet he alienated white Southern supporters on the eve of the election by publicly dining with black people at a Rhode Island hotel.
Roosevelt was nominated by acclamation, with Johnson as his running mate.
The main work of the convention was the platform, which set forth the new party's appeal to the voters. It included a broad range of social and political reforms long advocated by progressives. It spoke with near-religious fervor and the candidate himself promised: "Our cause is based on the eternal principle of righteousness; and even though we, who now lead may for the time fail, in the end the cause itself shall triumph".
16-page campaign booklet with the platform of the new Progressive Party
The platform's main theme was reversing the domination of politics by business interests, which allegedly controlled the Republican and Democratic parties, alike. The platform asserted:
To destroy this invisible Government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.
To that end, the platform called for:
In the social sphere, the platform called for:
The political reforms proposed included:
The platform also urged states to adopt measures for "direct democracy
- The recall election (citizens may remove an elected official before the end of his term)
- The referendum (citizens may decide on a law by popular vote)
- The initiative (citizens may propose a law by petition and enact it by popular vote)
- Judicial recall (when a court declares a law unconstitutional, the citizens may override that ruling by popular vote)
Besides these measures, the platform called for reductions in the tariff
and limitations on naval armaments by international agreement. The platform also vaguely called for the creation of a national health service, making Roosevelt likely the first major politician to call for health care reform.
The biggest controversy at the convention was over the platform section dealing with trusts and monopolies. The convention approved a strong "trust-busting" plank, but Perkins had it replaced with language that spoke only of "strong National regulation
" and "permanent active [Federal] supervision" of major corporations. This retreat shocked reformers like Pinchot, who blamed it on Perkins. The result was a deep split in the new party that was never resolved.
The platform in general expressed Roosevelt's "New Nationalism
", an extension of his earlier philosophy of the Square Deal
. He called for new restraints on the power of federal and state judges along with a strong executive to regulate industry, protect the working classes and carry on great national projects. This New Nationalism was paternalistic, in direct contrast to Wilson's individualistic philosophy of "New Freedom
". However, once elected, Wilson's actual program resembled Roosevelt's ideas, apart from the notion of reining in judges.
Roosevelt also favored a vigorous foreign policy
, including strong military power
. Though the platform called for limiting naval armaments, it also recommended the construction of two new battleships per year, much to the distress of outright pacifists such as Jane Addams.
Roosevelt mixing ideologies in his speeches in this 1912 editorial cartoon by Karl K. Knecht
(1883–1972) in the Evansville Courier
Roosevelt ran a vigorous campaign, but the campaign was short of money as the business interests which had supported Roosevelt in 1904 either backed the other candidates or stayed neutral. Roosevelt was also handicapped because he had already served nearly two full terms as president and thus was challenging the unwritten "no third term" rule.
In the end, Roosevelt fell far short of winning. He drew 4.1 million votes—27%, well behind Wilson's 42%, but ahead of Taft's 23% (6% went to Socialist Eugene Debs
). Roosevelt received 88 electoral votes
, compared to 435 for Wilson and 8 for Taft.
This was nonetheless the best showing by any third party since the modern two-party system was established in 1864. Roosevelt was the only third-party candidate to outpoll a candidate of an established party.
Pro-Roosevelt cartoon contrasts the Republican Party
bosses in back row and Progressive Party reformers in front
Many historians have concluded that the Republican split was essential to allow Wilson to win the presidency. Others argue that even without the split, Wilson would have won (as he did in 1916).
In addition to Roosevelt's presidential campaign, hundreds of other candidates sought office as Progressives in 1912.
Twenty-one ran for governor. Over 200 ran for U.S. Representative (the exact number is not clear because there were many Republican-Progressive fusion candidacies and some candidates ran with the labels of ad hoc
groups such as "Bull Moose Republicans" or (in Pennsylvania) the "Washington Party".)
On October 14, 1912, while Roosevelt was campaigning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a saloonkeeper from New York
, John Flammang Schrank
, shot him, but the bullet lodged in his chest only after penetrating both his steel eyeglass case and a 50-page single-folded copy of the speech titled "Progressive Cause Greater Than Any Individual
", he was to deliver, carried in his jacket pocket. Schrank was immediately disarmed, captured and might have been lynched had Roosevelt not shouted for Schrank to remain unharmed.
Roosevelt assured the crowd he was all right, then ordered police to take charge of Schrank and to make sure no violence was done to him.
As an experienced hunter and anatomist, Roosevelt correctly concluded that since he was not coughing blood, the bullet had not reached his lung and he declined suggestions to go to the hospital immediately. Instead, he delivered his scheduled speech
with blood seeping into his shirt.
He spoke for 90 minutes before completing his speech and accepting medical attention. His opening comments to the gathered crowd were: "Ladies and gentlemen, I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot, but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose".
Afterwards, probes and an x-ray showed that the bullet had lodged in Roosevelt's chest muscle, but did not penetrate the pleura
. Doctors concluded that it would be less dangerous to leave it in place than to attempt to remove it and Roosevelt carried the bullet with him for the rest of his life.
In later years, when asked about the bullet inside him, Roosevelt would say: "I do not mind it any more than if it were in my waistcoat pocket".
Both Taft and Democratic nominee Woodrow Wilson suspended their own campaigning until Roosevelt recovered and resumed his. When asked if the shooting would affect his election campaign, he said to the reporter "I'm fit as a bull moose", which inspired the party's emblem.
He spent two weeks recuperating before returning to the campaign trail. Despite his tenacity, Roosevelt ultimately lost his bid for reelection.
In California, the state Republican Party was controlled by Governor and Roosevelt ally Hiram Johnson, the vice presidential nominee, so Progressives there stayed with the Republican label (with one exception).
The lesser Progressive candidates generally got between 10% and 30% of the vote. Nine Progressives were elected to the House and none won governorships.
Some historians speculate that if the Progressive Party had run only the Roosevelt presidential ticket, it might have attracted many more Republicans willing to split their ballot, but the progressive movement was strongest at the state level and so the new party had fielded candidates for governor and state legislature. In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
, the local Republican boss, at odds with state party leaders, joined Roosevelt's cause. In spite of this, about 250 Progressives were elected to local offices. The Democrats gained many state legislature seats, which gave them 10 additional U.S. Senate seats—they also gained 63 U.S. House seats.
Despite the second-place finish of 1912, the Progressive Party did not disappear at once. One hundred thirty-eight candidates, including women,
ran for the U.S. House as Progressives in 1914 and 5 were elected. However, almost half the candidates failed to get more than 10% of the vote.
Hiram Johnson was denied renomination for governor as a Republican—he ran as a Progressive and was re-elected. Seven other Progressives ran for governor; none got more than 16%.
Some state parties remained fairly strong. In Washington
, Progressives won a third of the seats in the Washington State Legislature
businessman John M. Parker
ran for governor as a Progressive early in the year as the Republican Party was deeply unpopular in Louisiana. Parker got a respectable 37% of the vote and was the only Progressive to run for governor that year.
Later that year, the party held its second national convention, in conjunction with the Republican National Convention as this was to facilitate a possible reconciliation. Five delegates from each convention met to negotiate and the Progressives wanted reunification with Roosevelt as nominee, which the Republicans adamantly opposed. Meanwhile, Charles Evans Hughes
, a moderate Progressive, became the front-runner at the Republican convention. He had been on the Supreme Court in 1912 and thus was completely neutral on the bitter debates that year. The Progressives suggested Hughes as a compromise candidate, then Roosevelt sent a message proposing conservative senator Henry Cabot Lodge
. The shocked Progressives immediately nominated Roosevelt again, with Parker as the vice presidential nominee. Roosevelt refused to accept the nomination and endorsed Hughes, who was immediately approved by the Republican convention.
The remnants of the national Progressive party promptly disintegrated. Most Progressives reverted to the Republican Party, including Roosevelt, who stumped for Hughes; and Hiram Johnson, who was elected to the Senate as a Republican. Some leaders, such as Harold Ickes
of Chicago, supported Wilson.
All the remaining Progressives in Congress rejoined the Republican Party, except Whitmell Martin
, who became a Democrat. No candidates ran as Progressives for governor, senator or representative.
From 1916 to 1932, the Taft wing controlled the Republican Party and refused to nominate any prominent 1912 Progressives to the Republican national ticket. Finally, Frank Knox
was nominated for vice president in 1936.
The relative domination of the Republican Party by conservatives left many former Progressives with no real affiliation until the 1930s, when most joined the New Deal
Democratic Party coalition of President Franklin D. Roosevelt
In congressional elections
House of Representatives
In presidential elections
Office holders from the Progressive Party
"Raise Red Bandana as Roosevelt Battle Flag; Near Emblem of Socialism Gives Color to the New-Born Party". Idaho Statesman. Boise, Id. June 24, 1912. p. 4.
- Stromquist, Shelton (2006). Reinventing 'The People'. Chicago: University of Illinois Press. p. 101. ISBN 9780252030260. When the Progressive convention opened in Chicago on August 5, 1912, it reminded many observers of a revival...The social reform community organized a 'Jane Addams chorus,' distributed bright red bandanas that became the party's symbol...
- The American Promise. II. Boston, New York: Bedford/St. Martin's. 2012. p. 674. ISBN 9780312663148.
- ^ Morris, Edmund. Colonel Roosevelt. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks. pp. 215, 646.
- ^ Arnold, Peri E. "William Taft: Domestic Affairs". Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
- ^ Jean Strouse (2012). Morgan: American Financier. Random House. p. 1413. ISBN 9780307827678.
- ^ John A. Garraty, Right Hand Man: The Life of George W. Perkins (1960)
- ^ James Chace (2009). 1912: Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft and Debs -The Election that Changed the Country. Simon and Schuster. p. 250. ISBN 9781439188262.
- ^ Jonathan Lurie. William Howard Taft: The Travails of a Progressive Conservative (Cambridge University Press, 2012). p. 196.
- ^ Lurie, William Howard Taft: The Travails of a Progressive Conservative p ix.
- ^ Günter Bischof. "Eisenhower, the Judiciary, and Desegregation" by Stanley I. Kutler, Eisenhower: a centenary assessment. pp. 98.
- ^ "Bull Moose years of Theodore Roosevelt by Theodore Roosevelt Association". Theodoreroosevelt.org. Retrieved January 6, 2012.
- ^ George E. Mowry, "The South and the Progressive Lily White Party of 1912". Journal of Southern History 6#2 (1940): 237–247. JSTOR 2191208.
- ^ Baum, B.; Harris, D. (2009). Racially Writing the Republic: Racists, Race Rebels, and Transformations of American Identity. Durham: Duke University Press. p. 188. ISBN 9780822344353.
- ^ Paul D. Casdorph, Republicans, Negroes, and Progressives in the South, 1912-1916 (1981).
- ^ Melanie Gustafson (2001). Women and the Republican Party, 1854–1924. p. 117. ISBN 9780252093234.
- ^ Patricia OToole (June 25, 2006). ""The War of 1912," Time in partnership with CNN, Jun. 25, 2006". Time.com. Retrieved January 6, 2012.
- ^ See clause # 4.
- ^ Progressive Historians, by Richard Hofstadter, "He (Goodnow) was troubled by the thought that twentieth-century United States was governed by eighteenth-century precepts, and hence was caught between a virtually unamendable Constitution and wholly unamendable judges."
- ^ Democratic Ideals, by Theodore Roosevelt, "We propose to make the process of constitutional amendment far easier, speedier, and simpler than at present."
- ^ Gary Murphy, "'Mr. Roosevelt is Guilty': Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for Constitutionalism, 1910–1912". Journal of American Studies 36#3 (2002): 441-457.
- ^ William Kolasky, "The Election of 1912: A Pivotal Moment in Antitrust History". Antitrust 25 (2010): 82+
- ^ Robert Alexander Kraig, "The 1912 Election and the Rhetorical Foundations of the Liberal State". Rhetoric and Public Affairs (2000): 363–395. JSTOR 41940243.
- ^ Gustafson (2001). Women and the Republican Party, 1854-1924. p. 117. ISBN 9780252093234.
- ^ Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U. S. elections. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Inc. 1985. pp. 295, 348.
- ^ "The Bull Moose and related media". Archived from the original on March 8, 2010. Retrieved March 8, 2010. to make sure that no violence was done.
- ^ Remey, Oliver E.; Cochems, Henry F.; Bloodgood, Wheeler P. (1912). The Attempted Assassination of Ex-President Theodore Roosevelt. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: The Progressive Publishing Company. p. 192.
- ^ "Medical History of American Presidents". Doctor Zebra. Retrieved September 14, 2010.
- ^ "Excerpt", Detroit Free Press, History buff.
- ^ "It Takes More Than That to Kill a Bull Moose: The Leader and The Cause". Theodore Roosevelt Association. Retrieved October 14, 2015.
- ^ "Roosevelt Timeline". Theodore Roosevelt. Retrieved September 14, 2010.
- ^ Timeline of Theodore Roosevelt's Life by the Theodore Roosevelt Association at www.theodoreroosevelt.org
- ^ Donavan, p. 119
- ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 19, 2015. Retrieved November 9, 2010.
- ^ "Justice Story: Teddy Roosevelt survives assassin when bullet hits folded speech in his pocket". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on January 30, 2013. Retrieved October 14, 2013.
- ^ Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. elections (1985), pp. 489–535, 873–879
- ^ "A Kansas Woman Runs for Congress". The Independent. July 13, 1914. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
- ^ Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U. S. elections (1985), pp. 880–885
- ^ Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U. S. elections (1985), pp. 489–535
- ^ Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U. S. elections (1985), p. 503
- ^ Fred L. Israel, "Bainbridge Colby and the Progressive Party, 1914–1916". New York History 40.1 (1959): 33–46. JSTOR 23153527.
- Broderick, Francis L. Progressivism at risk: Electing a President in 1912 (Praeger, 1989).
- Chace, James. 1912: Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft & Debs—the Election That Changed the Country (2004).
- Cowan, Geoffrey. Let the People Rule: Theodore Roosevelt and the Birth of the Presidential Primary (2016).
- Delahaye, Claire. "The New Nationalism and Progressive Issues: The Break with Taft and the 1912 Campaign," in Serge Ricard, ed., A Companion to Theodore Roosevelt (2011) pp. 452–467. online.
- DeWitt, Benjamin P. The Progressive Movement: A Non-Partisan, Comprehensive Discussion of Current Tendencies in American Politics (1915).
- Flehinger, Brett. The 1912 Election and the Power of Progressivism: A Brief History with Documents (Bedford/St. Martin's, 2003).
- Gable, John A. The Bullmoose Years: Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive Party. Port Washington, NY: Kennikat Press, 1978.
- Gould, Lewis L. Four hats in the ring: The 1912 election and the birth of modern American politics (University Press of Kansas, 2008).
- Jensen, Richard. "Theodore Roosevelt" in Encyclopedia of Third Parties (ME Sharpe, 2000). pp. 702–707.
- Kraig, Robert Alexander. "The 1912 Election and the Rhetorical Foundations of the Liberal State". Rhetoric and Public Affairs (2000): 363–395. JSTOR 41940243.
- Milkis, Sidney M., and Daniel J. Tichenor. "'Direct Democracy' and Social Justice: The Progressive Party Campaign of 1912". Studies in American Political Development 8#2 (1994): 282–340.
- Milkis, Sidney M. Theodore Roosevelt, the Progressive Party, and the Transformation of American Democracy. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2009.
- Mowry, George E. The Era of Theodore Roosevelt and the Birth of Modern America. New York: Harper and Row, 1962.
- Painter, Carl, "The Progressive Party In Indiana", Indiana Magazine of History, vol. 16, no. 3 (Sept. 1920), pp. 173–283. JSTOR 27785944.
- Pietrusza, David, "TR's Last War: Theodore Roosevelt, the Great War, and a Journey of Triumph and Tragedy". (Guilford [CT]: Lyons Press, 2018).
- Pinchot, Amos. What's the Matter with America: The Meaning of the Progressive Movement and the Rise of the New Party. n.c.: Amos Pinchot, 1912.
- Pinchot, Amos. History of the Progressive Party, 1912–1916. Introduction by Helene Maxwell Hooker. (New York University Press, 1958).
- Roosevelt, Theodore. Bull Moose on the Stump: The 1912 Campaign Speeches of Theodore Roosevelt Ed. Lewis L. Gould. (UP of Kansas, 2008).
- Selmi, Patrick. "Jane Addams and the Progressive Party Campaign for President in 1912". Journal of Progressive Human Services 22.2 (2011): 160–190.
Last edited on 7 May 2021, at 11:14
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