On the eve of our next presidential election, we imagine that this cartoon depicting Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and William Howard Taft before the 1912 Presidential Election might ring true today. The divided cartoon drawn by Clifford Berryman reveals the confident public persona each candidate projects - how they’re acting - versus the nervousness each candidate undoubtedly feels as the election approaches.
Untitled [How They’re Acting and How They Feel] by Clifford Berryman, 11/5/1912, U.S. Senate Collection (ARC 306083)
Congress in the Archives will feature monthly staff posts on our blog. Today’s post comes from Jessie Kratz.
The 1912 presidential election was a three-way contest among former President Theodore Roosevelt for the Progressive (Bull Moose) Party, New Jersey Governor Woodrow Wilson for the Democratic Party, and incumbent President William Howard Taft for the Republican Party. As the election neared, Taft, who had given no major campaign speeches in the months leading up to the election, was living up to the moniker that Roosevelt had given him in September - “a dead cock in the pit.” Despite his lackluster campaign performance, Taft’s campaign managers continued to argue that he was still a contender in the race. They even announced a prediction for the election outcome: Taft would win with 280 electoral votes. In this cartoon, published just weeks before Election Day in the Washington Evening Star, the Democratic donkey and the Bull Moose are shown laughing hysterically. In the general election, held on November 5, 1912, Taft gained a mere eight electoral votes compared with Roosevelt, who gained 88 and Wilson—the winner—who gained 435.
G.O.P Bulletin by Clifford Berryman, Washington Evening Star, 10/18/1912, U.S. Senate Collection (ARC 6040976)
Halloween Hoax, 10/31/1912
Clifford Berryman Political Cartoon Collection, Records of the U.S. Senate
During the Presidential Election of 1912, the Republican Elephant is spooked by the “hollow” threat of Teddy Roosevelt’s new Progressive “Bull Moose” party, which was poised to split the Republican vote.
In 1942, Michigan Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg introduced Senate Joint Resolution 166 which would have amended the U.S. Constitution to extend the vote to citizens 18 years of age or older. Although not ratified at the time, the proposal came up again during the Vietnam War. The 26th Amendment was ratified on July 1, 1971 after being passed by Congress just a few months earlier. Although not necessary for the amendment to become law, President Richard Nixon, accompanied by several 18-year old witnesses, signed the amendment on July 5, 1971.
Learn more about the Constitutional Amendment Process.
Senate Joint Resolution 166 Proposing the 26th Amendment, 10/19/1942 (ARC 1633716)
Senator Vandeberg introduced this Joint Resolution proposing a constitutional amendment on October 19, 1942.
This political cartoon by Clifford K. Berryman depicts William Howard Taft being enticed to run for the Presidency. While serving as Secretary of War, Taft had told President Theodore Roosevelt that his highest ambition was to serve as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, but Roosevelt wanted him to run in the 1908 election as his successor. With Roosevelt’s encouragement, Taft began to consider running. In this cartoon Taft blocks the buzz of a potential Supreme Court nomination to better hear the enticing buzz of the Presidential bee. Berryman speculates that Taft may be succumbing to Roosevelt’s wishes and is “not afraid” of running for President.
Not Afraid by Clifford K. Berryman, 8/9/1905, U.S. Senate Collection (ARC 1693338)
By 1912, 13 states had adopted the progressive idea of direct presidential primaries to break the control of party bosses on delegate selection for the national convention. Theodore Roosevelt dominated these state primaries. In this cartoon, which features Roosevelt and President William Howard Taft tugging on the arms of a personified “Ohio,” Clifford K. Berryman depicts the climax of this preconvention battle, which took place in that state in late May. Berryman terms Ohio “The Mother of Presidents” not only because it was Taft’s home state, but also because it sent a large quota of delegates to the national convention. In an intense and bitter contest, Roosevelt won a complete victory, winning the popular vote by a large margin and capturing nearly every district delegate.
Untitled [Ohio, the Mother of Presidents], by Clifford K. Berryman, 5/21/1912, U.S. Senate Collection (ARC 206104)
With the 2012 election ramp up, here is a cozy/creepy reminder that in nearly a century of American politics very little has changed, excepting a goat. This 1924 Berryman Ain’t Politics Grand? was drawn with the Presidential and Congressional elections only two weeks away at the time, and depicts politicians of all parties promising to lower taxes to sway voters.
We have the go-to Dem. Donkey, Rep. Elephant, and the now obsolete Progressive Goat (as anyone who knows anything about livestock knows those horned ones are the out-of-the-box types).
How will Presidential and Congressional campaigns continue to change? Join us Thursday at 7 p.m. to find out.
By the election of 1800, the nation’s first two parties were beginning to take shape. The Presidential race was hotly contested between the Federalist President, John Adams, and the Democratic-Republican candidate, Thomas Jefferson. Because the Constitution did not distinguish between President and Vice-President in the votes cast by each state’s electors in the Electoral College, both Jefferson and his running mate Aaron Burr received 73 votes.
According to the Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, if two candidates each received a majority of the electoral votes but are tied, the House of Representatives would determine which one would be President. Therefore, the decision rested with the lame duck, Federalist-controlled House of Representatives. Thirty-five ballots were cast over five days but neither candidate received a majority. Many Federalists saw Jefferson as their principal foe, whose election was to be avoided at all costs. But Alexander Hamilton, a well-respected Federalist party leader, hated Burr and advised Federalists in Congress that Jefferson was the safer choice. Finally, on February 17, 1801, on the thirty-sixth ballot, the House elected Thomas Jefferson to be President.
The tie vote between Jefferson and Burr in the 1801 Electoral College pointed out problems with the electoral system. The framers of the Constitution had not anticipated such a tie nor had they considered the possibility of the election of a President or Vice President from opposing factions - which had been the case in the 1796 election. In 1804, the passage of the 12th Amendment corrected these problems by providing for separate Electoral College votes for President and Vice President.
For more information about the Electoral College, please visit the Federal Register’s U.S. Electoral College webpage.
Electoral vote tally, 2/1/1801, Records of the U.S. Senate
Because no candidate received a majority of the votes cast when the Electoral College met on December 1, 1824, it was immediately clear that the Presidential election would be left up to the U.S. House of Representatives for the second time in our young nation’s history. Article 2, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution states that the Electoral College shall vote for President of the United States, and that the ballots would be counted by Congress. The person with the majority of votes would become President, while the person with the second most votes would be come Vice President. If a majority was not achieved, the U.S. House of Representatives would then choose a President from among the top three contenders.
When Congress convened to officially count the votes on February 9, 1825, Andrew Jackson held the most electoral votes at 99, but fell 32 votes shy of the required majority. Having finished fourth in the tally, Henry Clay was no longer a candidate when the election was handed over to the House, but as House Speaker he played a key role in determining the selection of the next President. With Clay’s support and influence, John Quincy Adams was elected President by the House of Representatives. After his March 4, 1825, inauguration, Adams nominated Clay to be Secretary of State. Jackson and his supporters saw this as the epitome of political corruption for the position of Secretary of State was considered a stepping stone toward the presidency, making Clay Adams’ likely political heir.
Jackson resigned from the U.S. Senate in 1825, and began campaigning for the 1828 election on the heels of the alleged “Corrupt Bargain.” The bitterly contested 1828 election was a rematch between Jackson and Adams, but with a decisive outcome. Jackson received 173 electoral votes, while Adams received only 83. Jackson was inaugurated as the seventh President of the United States on March 4, 1829.
Electoral Tally, 2/9/1825, SEN 18A-J1, Records of the U.S. Senate (ARC 306207)