American History Since 1865
January 14, 2013
Professor Andrew Cramer
What is said and what is done
The election of 1912 was a crazy one to say the least. The two front-runners, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson with Howard Taft lagging behind left a mark on America not soon forgotten. What America had just come out of and what it was going into required candidates that could give America hope. Progressivism laid out a plan to change a lot of things in America that had somehow faltered and by introducing slogans that were catchy and ideas that Americans hoped could possibly bring change, Wilson and Roosevelt went head to head trying to make America their own while convincing the people that they were the best candidate to bring about changes that everyone was looking for. The question is then: did what they said they would do and what they did went they went into office hold true or was it all just a bunch of talk? “The most useful leaders were those who could read the direction of opinion and compellingly articulate it back to the public in a form that would promote safe and steady progress” (Kraig, 2000).
There was a lot going on around the time of the election. Theodore Roosevelt had come into the Presidency when McKinley was assassinated. When the term was getting close to ending he made it clear that he would not run again for the office. He endorsed William Taft to be his predecessor and because of his influence, Taft won the position. Once he was in office, Taft made many decisions that upset Roosevelt and that were against what the Progressives stood for, which Roosevelt was a strong advocate for. Given the things that had happened while Taft was in office, Roosevelt realized that he had to make sure that Taft did not get in the White House again and so he announced that he would run and branched off in the “Bull Moose Party” a breakoff from the Republican party that he was a part of.
Each candidate in his or her own way put a wonderful a spin on ideals that seemed to have a ring to it. For Roosevelt is was the Square Deal, where every man was to be treated equally and given equal opportunity to have a new chance. Human welfare and property rights were priorities in his campaign but the later was of less significance. He also proposed “the federal government should be used to protect the laboring men, women and children from exploitation” (Roosevelt, 1910). Overall, Roosevelt advocated for social justice for the people and to undo the corrupt politics of business and government. The new party was formed to deal with what they called an invisible government that had no regard for the people and that this party would “offer itself as the instrument of the people to sweep away old abuses, to build a new and nobler commonwealth” (Bull Moose Party, 1912).
Roosevelt, also known as the “Warrior”, appealed to many of the progressive’s ideals. The main ideas that he hit on were conservation, environmentalism and business reform. One of the main things that Theodore Roosevelt accomplished was to give the Chief Executive more power, have more control over the economy and to regulate business. This was something that Wilson also wanted.
Wilson favored the New Freedom motto. Wilson was referred too much differently than Roosevelt. He was referred to as the “Priest” mostly because of his upbringing. One of the things that Wilson did was address the anxiety of the people that had been brought on by all of the changes in the economy from the war. He was hand in hand with Roosevelt on the labor issues and safeguarding the health of the nation. He states, “Sanitary laws, pure food laws, and laws determining conditions of labor which individuals are powerless to determine for themselves are intimate parts of the very business of justice and legal efficiency” (Wilson, 1913). His main strategy while