The “Bull Moose” Campaign of 1912
Democrats in 1912 felt they could take the White House (since being out for 16 years) because the Republicans had split their party. Democrats looked to Dr. Woodrow Wilson, the governor of New Jersey. Wilson had been a mild conservative but had turned become an strong progressive. His background was in education as a history professor, then as president of Princeton Univ. As governor of NJ, he made a name for himself by standing up to the bosses, trusts, and as a liberal. At their convention, it took 46 votes to choose Wilson. The final vote was cast after William Jennings Bryan threw his support behind Wilson. The Democrats now had a candidate in Woodrow Wilson and they added a platform they named the "New Freedom." The New Freedom platform was made up of liberal and progressive policies. At the Progressive party convention Teddy Roosevelt was nominated by reformer Jane Addams (of Hull House in Chicago). Roosevelt's speech enthralled its listeners. TR won the nomination (which was a foregone conclusion) and commented that he felt "as strong as a bull moose." The Progressive party then had a symbol and a nickname: the Bull Moose Party. The 1912 presidential campaign was thus set and the campaigning began. The 1912 candidates were…
Republican: Pres. William Howard Taft
Democrat: Woodrow Wilson
Progressive: Theodore Roosevelt
Talk between Taft and TR got nasty as the two old friends laid into one another. Wilson could enjoy just letting his other two opponents rip themselves. Personality wars aside, Wilson's New Freedom plan and Roosevelt's "New Nationalism" plan came front-and-center. The New Nationalism plan had been inspired by The Promise of American Life by Herbert Croly (1910). The book agreed with TR's old policy of leaving good trusts alone but controlling bad trusts. The New Nationalism also pushed for female suffrage and social programs such as minimum wage laws social insurance programs. These such programs would...
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