On January 4, 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt nominated William Howard Taft to be Secretary of War. Taft served as Secretary of War from 1904 until he was elected President in 1908. Taft later served as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1921 to 1930.
“Lan Sakes, What’ll I Do With ‘Em?”, 11/07/1912
Clifford Berryman’s “Miss Democracy” ponders what to do with the House, Senate, and White House, following Democratic victories in the 1912 Election, the result of a split in Republican party ranks produced by Theodore Roosevelt’s independent Progressive (Bull Moose) party candidacy.
“This is my day to be heard”
-the “Silent Voter”
Three nervous Presidential candidates peer over the shoulder of a character representing the silent voter, wondering how he will mark his ballot on Election Day, 1904. President Theodore Roosevelt is the Republican incumbent, opposed by Judge Alton B. Parker, the Democratic candidate and Thomas Edward Watson of the People’s Party.
Congress in the Archives will feature monthly staff posts on our blog. Today’s post comes from Jessie Kratz.
The Twelfth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that after a presidential election the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate meet to count the electoral votes. On February 12, 1913 the House and the Senate met in a joint session to count the votes from the 1912 presidential election. The major candidates in the election were the unpopular incumbent President William Howard Taft (Republican Party), former President Theodore Roosevelt (Progressive “Bull Moose Party”) and New Jersey Governor Woodrow Wilson (Democratic Party). Wilson handily defeated Taft and Roosevelt, winning 435 of the 531 available electoral votes. Wilson also won 42% of the popular vote, while his nearest challenger, Roosevelt, won just 27%. Eugene Debs, who had run on the Socialist ticket, won an impressive 6% of the popular vote but failed to receive a single electoral vote.
1912 Electoral Tally, 2/12/1913, SEN 62A-L1, Records of the U.S. Senate
After his victory in the 1904 election, President Theodore Roosevelt promised that although his first term had lasted only three years (beginning after the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901), he would adhere to the two-term precedent established by George Washington. Yet by 1912, convinced that only his progressive leadership would save the Republican party, Roosevelt announced his candidacy. Roosevelt contended that he had only promised to refuse a third consecutive term. Political cartoonist Clifford Berryman shows Roosevelt attempting to dodge the anti-third term principle as he crouches before Washington’s ghost. Not until 1951, after Franklin Roosevelt’s four terms in office, did Congress enact the XXII Amendment to the Constitution, officially limiting Presidents to two terms.
Untitled by Clifford K. Berryman, 10/1/1912, U.S. Senate Collection (ARC 306175)
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)
“The conditions shown by even this short inspection to exist in the Chicago stock yards are revolting”
In this cover letter to the Neill-Reynolds report, President Theodore Roosevelt urged Congress to immediately enact legislation to provide for meat inspection and establish sanitary conditions for the meatpacking industry. Three months earlier author & journalist Upton Sinclair had written to Roosevelt, detailing many of the industry’s practices.
Message from President Theodore Roosevelt to the House of Representatives and the Senate, 06/04/1906
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)