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U.S. presidential election, 1912

Presidential CandidateElectoral Vote Popular Vote Pct Party Running Mate
(Electoral Votes)
Woodrow Wilson (W) 435 6,293,454 Democrat Thomas R. Marshall (435)
Theodore Roosevelt 88 4,119,207 Progressive Hiram Johnson (88)
William Howard Taft 8 3,483,922 Republican Nicholas M. Butler[?] (8)
Other elections: 1900, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1916, 1920, 1924
Source: U.S. Office of the Federal Register (http://www.archives.gov/federal_register/electoral_college/scores#1912)


(Larger version)

Former President Theodore Roosevelt's formation of the Progressive or "Bull Moose" party resulted in the only instance in the 20th century of a candidate of neither the Republican nor Democratic party receiving more votes than one of the candidates of those two leading parties.

Formation of the Bull Moose Party

On the evening of June 22, 1912, former President Theodore Roosevelt asked his supporters to leave the floor of the Republican National Convention in Chicago. Roosevelt maintained that President William Taft had allowed fraudulent seating of delegates in order to capture the presidential nomination from progressive forces within the Party. Taft's poor showing against Roosevelt in the primaries, the latter contended, evidenced popular support for a more progressive Republican agenda.

The rift between progressive and conservative wings of the Republican Party was apparent even before Roosevelt left office. Roosevelt's support of government regulation, his groundbreaking efforts in conservation and consumer protection, and his willingness to work with organized labor alienated pro-business party members. When Roosevelt tapped William Howard Taft as his successor in 1908, he had assumed Taft would continue to support his agenda. Although Taft's record suggested a leader sympathetic to reform, the former jurist's quiet demeanor and attention to the letter of the law irritated Roosevelt and disappointed Republican progressives.

Republican progressives reconvened in Chicago's Orchestra Hall and endorsed the formation of a national progressive party. When formally launched later that summer, the new Progressive Party chose Roosevelt as its presidential nominee. Questioned by reporters, Roosevelt said he felt as strong as a "bull moose." Thenceforth known as the "Bull Moose Party," the Progressives promised to increase federal regulation and protect the welfare of ordinary people.

General Election

The 1912 presidential campaign was bitterly fought and easily won. With the Republican Party divided, progressive Democrat Woodrow Wilson captured the presidency handily. Although he failed to become chief executive again, Roosevelt succeeded in his vendetta against Taft who received just twenty-three percent of the popular vote compared to Roosevelt's twenty-seven percent.

Despite an impressive showing in 1912, the Bull Moose failed to establish itself as a viable third party. Still active on the state level, Progressives did not put forward a presidential candidate again until Wisconsin Senator Robert M. La Follette's run in the election of 1924.

Other candidates included Eugene V. Debs of the Socialist Party who received 900,369 popular votes, and Eugene W. Chafin of the Prohibition Party, who received 207,972.

After the election, Nicholas Butler was selected to receive the electoral votes from Utah and Vermont due to the death of V.P. James S. Sherman.

Source: Library of Congress (http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/jun22)

See also: President of the United States, U.S. presidential election, 1912



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