Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Monday, March 12, 2018

Backstory: Setting the Stage for an "Irony of Fate"

It would be an irony of fate if my administration had to deal chiefly with foreign affairs.      
Woodrow Wilson, 1913

The Republican Ticket: Taft and Sherman

In June 1912, former president Theodore Roosevelt sought the Republican nomination at the party convention in Chicago. He was infuriated by what he took to be a betrayal of his progressive program by his personally chosen successor, the incumbent William Howard Taft. The delegates chose Taft anyway, with former New York congressman James "Sunny Jim" Sherman as his running mate.

Roosevelt and his supporters bolted, then formed the Progressive Party, popularly known as the Bull Moose Party. [T.R.—"I am as strong as a bull moose."] At their convention in August, California governor Hiram Johnson was selected as T.R.'s running mate. [One of their campaign managers in Contra Costa County, California, would be your editor's great-uncle,  Superintendent of Schools William Hanlon.] 

The Progressives: T.R. and Hiram Johnson
The Democrats were elated by the Republican split, realizing that their opponents' 16-year rule was at an end. The only real suspense was generated around the question of which Democrat would be the next president. Favorite son candidates were put forth from all sections of the country. The strongest appeared to be House Speaker Champ Clark of Missouri, the personal favorite of the influential William Randolph Hearst. Despite widespread support, Clark was unable to gain the necessary two-thirds vote in the early balloting. 

The turning point occurred when the still influential William Jennings Bryan switched his support to New Jersey governor Woodrow Wilson, an advocate of moderate reform. Bryan would later be appointed Wilson's secretary of state as a reward. After 46 ballots, the exhausted delegates finally selected Wilson and Indiana governor Thomas R. Marshall as his running mate. 

Destiny's Ticket: Democrats Wilson and Marshall

Wilson won a lopsided electoral victory in November 1912. His election was nearly assured from the beginning because of the Republican split. Against all his predispositions, he would eventually embrace the role of the nation's war leader, and, later self-designated world shaper.  Fate proved to have a fine sense of irony.

Material from:

No comments:

Post a Comment