“The Fourth of July at Kansas City” is a piece of campaign rhetoric reflecting the belief of some voters in the 1900 elections that the Democratic Party is one of chaos, corruption, and insanity. William Jennings Bryan, the Democratic opponent of incumbent president (and winner of the 1900 elections) William McKinley, is notably featured in a prominent portrait on the right side of the cartoon as a threatening figure who poses a danger to the country. The first indication of the cartoonist’s belief that Bryan (and the Democratic Party as a whole) is unfit for the presidency is the top of the barrel in the back of the cartoon that has the “16:1” ratio written on it, the silver to gold ratio proposed for unlimited silver coinage. This is a reference to Bryan’s steadfast adherence to “free silver,” a movement to tie American currency to silver that Bryan insisted would bring about better economic times. Bryan’s adherence to free silver puzzled many voters because America’s use of the gold standard had brought about economic prosperity for three consecutive years under McKinley’s term, and the Gold Standard Act of 1900 was passed enacting this practice as law. Bryan’s stance as a Silverite made voters feel he was simply stubborn for refusing to budge from his clearly defunct position. In the words of Republican congressman Thomas Reed, “Bryan would rather be wrong than [be] president.” Evidently, the cartoonist agrees.
The issue of U.S. imperialism and the country’s military action in Cuba, the Philippines, and China is also on full display. On the platform are Carl Schurz, Edward Atkinson, and William Lloyd Garrison Jr, vice-presidents of the Anti-Imperialist League, and Emilio Aguinaldo, leader of the Filipino rebels fighting the US. Prior to the 1900 elections, McKinley’s term was marked by wars characterized by many American voters as imperialist. American military involvement in Cuba and the Philippines was a major issue of contention on the campaign trail, an issue McKinley would later examine in what I consider to be the final piece of 1900 campaign rhetoric, McKinley’s Inaugural address. The author of this particular cartoon evidently rebukes these accusations, instead choosing to paint anti-imperialists in the same negative light as the crazy socialists and Silverites in the background.
Admiral George Dewey (left), the man responsible for capturing the Spanish Manila Bay colony in the Philippines, is also present on the platform. It is no mistake that Dewey is present standing next to Bryan’s menacing portrait: Dewey was previously in the running for the presidency until he made a fool of himself by declaring the role of president to be “easy.” Predictably, Dewey was mocked for his statement and quickly disregarded as a serious nominee for President due to his obvious lack of political experience. Placing him next to Bryan leads the viewer to believe the same fate awaits him, a sort of guilt by association. Emilio Aguinaldo’s (right) presence also paints Bryan as a traitor to his country, souring his reputation in the eyes of viewers. A banner in the upper left of the cartoon espousing Aguinaldo to be “a true democrat” solidifies the cartoonist’s intent, painting a sort of scarlet letter on the whole of the Democratic Party. The banner to the right of Aguinaldo’s states, “we express our sympathy with the boxers.” This refers to the Boxer rebellion, a protest by a group of Chinese against America’s presence in the country which was suppressed by American troops acting on McKinley’s orders. With the Boxer rebellion ongoing at the time of this cartoon’s publishing, the statement is treasonous and reflects poorly on Bryan’s character.
In addition to Bryan’s anti-imperialism, he was widely opposed to trusts and made his opposition to big business associations a key element of his campaigning. Supporters of McKinley, though, pointed to the hypocrisy of Bryan’s stance given the involvement of some of his key supporters in trusts and big business activities. The cartoonist depicts this hypocrisy with his drawing of a large block of ice labeled “Tammany Ice Trust” in the middle of the cartoon, as well as a banner in the upper left-hand corner of the cartoon stating “down with the ice trusts.” At the time, Augustus Van Wyck, New York Mayor Robert Van Wyck, and what looks to be John Carroll, the men encased in the block of ice, were associates of Tammany Hall, a political machine backing Bryan for president. During Bryan’s campaign Tammany Hall was embroiled in a scandal over New York City’s “ice trust,” and its support of Bryan calls his positions and character into question. The presence of Chicago Mayor Carter Harrison II and the sign he holds (“Wide Open Chicago,” referring to the lawlessness engendering the city’s political corruption) doesn’t help Bryan’s campaign, either.
Ultimately, this cartoon is a very powerful piece of campaign rhetoric in that it argues the viewpoints of Bryan’s opponents and exhibits the events and controversies surrounding his campaign. It is a snapshot of the political climate of the time and a reminder of why Bryan failed in his efforts to gain the vote in 1900.
IMAGE (and information): http://elections.harpweek.com/1900/cartoon-1900-Medium.asp?UniqueID=21&Year=1900
After the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901, Theodore Roosevelt ascended to the presidency, and eventually become the first “accidental” president to win a second term for the presidency on his own accord.
Now a candidate for his second term, Roosevelt was in a position that especially required him to prove that he was capable of gathering his own support in order win the presidential election that year. Although he eventually entered into the presidency, The Republican Party had no intentions of ever selecting Roosevelt to be president. Republican leaders had nominated him to run for vive president with William McKinley in 1900 as an effort to remove him from the troubles that he was causing them in his governorship of New York, where he has been elected in 1898. When McKinley died, the 41-year-old Roosevelt would become the youngest man to ever assume the presidency.
Roosevelt’s ascendance into the presidency did not come without disdain. Upon his entrance to the presidency, Republican politician Marc Hanna was reported to say “ I told William McKinley that it was a mistake to nominate that wild man at Philadelphia…I asked him that if he realized what would happen if he should die. Now look, that damned cowboy is president of the United States.”
Although cowboy may have been only one of the many ways to describe the multi faceted and charismatic president, Roosevelt did indeed bring a new energy to the presidency. His experience in both the military and pioneering in the West brought a sense of coolness and personality that very few presidents since his presidency have been able to embody.
In 1904 Roosevelt would run for reelection. Although Roosevelt was popularly perceived as the more charismatic candidate among his competition, the Democratic opposition promoted themselves as the “sane and safe choice,” and they attacked the Roosevelt administration for being “spasmodic, erratic, sensational, spectacular, and arbitrary.” Roosevelt picked Senator Charles W. Fairbanks of Indiana, a conservative Republican for his running mate. Roosevelt would later be questioned for this decision considering the fact that he views as very liberal and charismatic, contrary to his reserved and conservative running mate.
The Democratic picked two conservatives, Judge Alton B. Parker, from New York, and eighty-one-year-old Henry G. Davis. Davis, a wealthy ex-senator from Virginia was the oldest man to ever run for the vice-presidency.
The race was predicted to be close, considering that there was not a huge divide in the way that the Republican and Democratic candidates stood on the major issued of time. Personality was the major difference between the two. Both Roosevelt and Parker were for the gold standard, and although the Democrats were more outspoken against the issue of imperialism, both parties did not support it. They also both were for the rights of labor unions to be treated as citizens and the fair treatment and eventual liberation of Filipinos from American control.
1904 would also be the first year that the Socialist party would run in an election. The Socialist Party of America at the time was a coalition of parties that was based on industrial cities with strong ties to ethnic communities that often worked in labor during the time period, such as the German and the Finish. The party elected Eugene Victor Debs for the presidency and Benjamin Hanford was elected for the Vice Presidency.
During the election campaign Roosevelt would ask voters to support his square deal policies. “Square Deal” referred to domestic programs that focused on three ideas. These ideas were the conversation of natural resources, control of corporations and consumer protection. His opposition would challenge Roosevelt on his anti trust policies and for accepting contributions from big business.
On August 6, 1904, Harpers Weekly magazine would feature a cartoon about the 1904 campaign titled “Keeping Cool.” Harpers Weekly was an American was political magazine that was based in New York City. It was published by the Harper Brothers and discussed many different subjects. Until the mid 1800s newspapers were primarily text, but in the late 1850’s Harpers pioneered a new process that enabled the inclusion of illustrations with text. This development arrived around the time of the Civil War and quickly changed the way that the American people saw the war that was taking places in their very own backyards. This inclusion of illustration in the magazine made Harpers Weekly very popular. It ran from 1857 to 1916 and featured domestic news, fiction, essays and humor.
In “Keeping Cool,” the cartoonist William Allen Rogers would challenge the compatibility of the 1904 Republican ticket. In the cartoon, the pair is depicted as incompatible. Prior to Roosevelt’s nomination for Republican candidate, many Republicans felt him to be too liberal for the ticker. Some of these attitudes are even depicted in the cartoon. In the cartoon the artists shows Fairbanks, frozen in a block of ice. He is cramped and closed in the block of ice, while Roosevelt looking vey cowboyish in his Rough Riders uniform is sitting on top of the ice shivering from the cold. The warmness and charisma of Theodore Roosevelt clad in his uniform is a start contrast to the cold and conservative Fairbanks.
By November 8, 1904 Roosevelt and Fairbanks would live by a landslide. Roosevelt would win 56.45 of the popular vote and receive more than 2 ½ million popular votes. No president before that time had won by such a margin. Roosevelt would prove to maintain such popularity throughout his presidency and even was said to regret his decision to promise not to run again after his reelection into office. After winning the election, Roosevelt would state, “ I am no longer a political accident.”
In time the implications of his policies and presidency would prove that there was definitely no mistake about that “damned cowboy” becoming president. He most certainly proved to be a man of the people.
Inaugural addresses do not normally come to mind when discussing campaign rhetoric. After all, the campaign is finished and a clear winner has been chosen. In the case of William McKinley, however, his inaugural address serves as the final piece of his 1900 campaign rhetoric, wrapping up the words and promises he made over the campaign into one succinct speech and convincing his listeners why he is the right choice for president. It was effectively his last “front porch” speech of the campaign, the polar opposite of opposing Democrat William Jennings Bryan’s “stumping tour” campaigning.
On March 4, 1901, William McKinley stood before the nation to deliver his inaugural address, assuming presidential responsibilities for another four years and finalizing his defeat of Bryan, again. However, unlike the inaugural address preceding his first term four years prior, this time McKinley chooses to remind the American public of his accomplishments during his first term and explain what the country must do to solidify them. McKinley also uses his inaugural address to clarify the necessity of the country’s involvement in the many international conflicts marking his presidency and highlight the importance of a unified nation in fighting these battles.
The first lines of McKinley’s address allude to the economic troubles facing the nation before he became president. At the time of McKinley’s installment in 1897, America was facing a record deficit and serious economic instability. He immediately set out to correct this by signing the Dingley Tariff act, which raised tariffs from 41% to 46% and allowed McKinley to negotiate reciprocal trade treaties. Three years later, McKinley sought to further reduce the country’s economic anxieties by making the Gold Standard Act of 1900 law. This act assigned gold a dollar value and tentatively placated the nation’s fears about the dollar’s strength. In the process, the gold standard’s enactment effectively ended popular support for the policy of free silver, an issue long championed by William Jennings Bryan along his campaigns. The effects of these two actions allowed McKinley to boast in his address about his returning the country to economic prosperity, declaring the US to “have a surplus instead of a deficit”, discuss how “the Congress just closed has reduced taxation in the sum of $41,000,000,” and crow about the fact “every avenue of production is crowded with activity, labor is well employed, and American products find good markets at home and abroad”. Still, McKinley cautions the nation about maintaining its prosperity, insisting “its permanence can only be assured by sound business methods and strict economy in national administration and legislation.”
McKinley then segues into a portion of the address where he praises Americans for their unification and pleads for them to continue joining together to guarantee continued progress. This portion of the address in particular is recited in a “tough style,” and McKinley drives home how important it is for Americans to appreciate past difficulties and move forward with the same vigor as if they still existed. The president claims, “strong hearts and helpful hands are needed, and, fortunately, we have them in every part of our beloved country. We are reunited. Sectionalism has disappeared. Division on public questions can no longer be traced by the war maps of 1861. These old differences less and less disturb the judgment. Existing problems demand the thought and quicken the conscience of the country, and the responsibility for their presence, as well as for their righteous settlement, rests upon us all–no more upon me than upon you”. Of particular note is McKinley’s allusion to “the war maps of 1861.” McKinley was the last president to be elected to have served in the Civil War, thus making him the last president to lead an America he once saw truly divided. McKinley’s civil war service lends credibility to his words and infers the importance of unification to a secure country. Moreover, McKinley’s reference to the civil war is strategically placed: it connects him with civil war veterans like the ones he courted along the campaign, and it foreshadows the rest of the address’s focus on the wars the country has fought and is fighting abroad at the time.
McKinley transitions to the remainder of the address by discussing military action in the context of America’s obligation to bring freedom and democracy to oppressed peoples around the world and ensure its continuation once US forces exit. The beginning of this portion of the address is marked by McKinley’s insistence that America “make good” on its guarantees of Cuban independence following the end of the Spanish-American war. But first, some context: during McKinley’s first term, the nation went to war with Spain over its occupation of Cuba, where an uprising by Spanish loyalists in January of 1898 caused concern for America’s safety. Following the bombing and sinking of the USS Maine in Havana in February, America and Spain declared war on one another, which lasted until Spain’s surrender in July and the official end of the war on August 12, 1898. McKinley vigorously reminded voters of American victory in Cuba along the campaign trail, making discussion of the issue prime material for his address. In it, McKinley asserts that “the peace which we are pledged to leave to the Cuban people must carry with it the guaranties of permanence. We became sponsors for the pacification of the island, and we remain accountable to the Cubans, no less than to our own country and people, for the reconstruction of Cuba as a free commonwealth on abiding foundations of right, justice, liberty, and assured order. Our enfranchisement of the people will not be completed until free Cuba shall ‘be a reality, not a name; a perfect entity, not a hasty experiment bearing within itself the elements of failure.’” McKinley’s style during this portion of the address is as serious as the subject matter, and his use of parallelism at the end of the quote fittingly summarizes his message. McKinley’s words embody the American spirit of democracy and encapsulate the accountability and progress he would like to see during his second term of office, the same progress he promised throughout his campaign.
McKinley’s calls for American accountability continue with his subsequent review of the nation’s involvement in the Philippines, which he finishes the address with. Ending after his death in 1902, McKinley was overseeing an undeclared war against Filipino nationalists at the time of his address and throughout his campaign. McKinley insists “the settled purpose, long ago proclaimed, to afford the inhabitants of the islands self-government as fast as they were ready for it will be pursued with earnestness and fidelity”. Possibly in response to those questioning the war along the campaign trail and accusing McKinley of imperialism, he explains, “we are not waging war against the inhabitants of the Philippine Islands. A portion of them are making war against the United States. By far the greater part of the inhabitants recognize American sovereignty and welcome it as a guaranty of order and of security for life, property, liberty, freedom of conscience, and the pursuit of happiness”. McKinley insinuates that American involvement in the Philippines is one of necessity – if not for national security, for the sake of Filipino freedom. McKinley closes his address with his hope that the war “end without further bloodshed.” Six months later, McKinley’s presidency would end in it following his assassination by Leon Czolgosz.
“1900: McKinley v. Bryan” http://elections.harpweek.com/1900/Overview-1900-1.htm
“Inaugural Address, March 4, 1901.” http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=25828#axzz1PIyRV8Nh
William McKinley. American President: An Online Reference Resource. http://millercenter.org/academic/americanpresident/mckinley/essays/biography/print
The election of 1912 was unprecedented for its time and remains today one of the most captivating pieces of political theater. After a contentious convention struggle, William Jennings Bryan, himself a three-time presidential candidate and one of the country’s most powerful speakers, helped throw the Democratic nomination to Governor Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey. The intellectual former president of Princeton University had served as governor for just over a year and would later appoint Bryan as Secretary of State. For their part, the Republican’s found themselves a house divided. Incumbent President William Howard Taft had his re-nomination challenged by the very man who had all but handed the office to him just four years earlier, former president Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt’s return to politics splintered the party, pitting his progressive followers against the establishment conservatives who favored the mild-mannered Taft. The convention virtually deadlocked before the powerful establishment forces were able to seal the nomination for President Taft. Roosevelt declared that “the bosses in control of the Republican party” had “stolen the nomination and wrecked the political party” and announced that he would run as an independent on a progressive platform.1
It is as such that candidate Theodore Roosevelt traveled to Milwaukee on October 14th, 1912 to deliver one of many campaign speeches. It would be no ordinary speech. While Roosevelt greeted supporters outside the auditorium John Schrank, a disturbed man who had “stalked TR for thousands of miles”2 stepped forward and shot him in the chest. As Roosevelt himself put it, “He shot to kill.”3 In an almost unbelievable act of fate the bullet hit the thick collection of paper in Roosevelt’s breast pocket on which he had prepared his remarks, slowing it down just enough to prevent it from killing him when it entered his body. Wounded though he was, the ever boisterous former colonel insisted that he go on and give his speech regardless.
One can only imagine that the theatrics of the moment were not lost on Theodore Roosevelt, a man with a flare for the dramatic who had a “love of stagy arrivals.”4 He began his speech by alerting the crowd that he had just been shot but boasting that, “it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.”5 This would become the most famous line of the speech and would forever earn his independent party the title “The Bull Moose Party.” From there he twice showed the audience where the bullet had entered his body, like Mark Antony displaying the wounds of Caesar, and stressed repeatedly his own devotion to his cause for a better life for all even if it came at the price of his own. Roosevelt then seamlessly turned the attempt on his life into an attack against his political opponents. Speculating about what had driven his would be assassin to such an act, the former president asserted that:
Now, friends, of course, I do not know, as I say, anything about him; but it is a very natural thing that weak and vicious minds should be inflamed to acts of violence by the kind of awful mendacity and abuse that have been heaped upon me for the last three months by the papers in the interest of not only Mr. Debs but of Mr. Wilson and Mr. Taft.6
Going further, he argued that his opponents could not:
Make the kind of untruthful, of bitter assault that they have made and not expect that brutal, violent natures, or brutal and violent characters, especially when the brutality is accompanied by a not very strong mind; they cannot expect that such natures will be unaffected by it.7
In essence, Roosevelt skillfully placed blame for the attempt on his life at the doorstep of his opponents.
Still perhaps the most telling characteristic of this political rhetoric is neither the theatrics of the speech nor Roosevelt’s handling of his wound, but the greater and subtler content of the speech itself. It is virtually entirely about Theodore Roosevelt. The word used significantly more often than any other is “I.” At one point he refers to the citizens as “my people”, and while he quickly corrects himself adding “our people” it is indicative of his true mentality.8 It is not until the later half of the speech that he addresses any type of policy or platform issue, and even although only briefly and through the context of what he had done throughout his career. While he frequently refers to his audience as his “friends” and briefly uses the repetition of the word “you” as a call to action later in his speech, the campaign is clearly and proudly the Teddy Roosevelt show.9 This is true and characteristic of Roosevelt’s lifestyle and career. Few men have so dominated the political landscape of an era as did Theodore Roosevelt, and arguably none have done it with such joy or by greater force of personality. Without an establishment ticket, his campaign was purely candidate driven and centered. It was the Bull Moose Party, and Theodore Roosevelt was the Bull Moose.
1. Roosevelt, Theodore. “”It Takes More Than That To Kill A Bull Moose”: The Leader and The Cause.” Theodore Roosevelt Association. Web. 22 Apr. 2011. http://www.theodoreroosevelt.org/research/speech%20kill%20moose.htm.
2. Roosevelt, Bull Moose Speech.
3. Roosevelt, Bull Moose Speech.
4. Morris, Edmund. Theodore Rex. Random House. New York. 2002.
5. Roosevelt, Bull Moose Speech.
6. Roosevelt, Bull Moose Speech.
7. Roosevelt, Bull Moose Speech.
8. Roosevelt, Bull Moose Speech.
William Jennings Bryan was the Democratic presidential nominee during three different presidential elections. He ran unsuccessfully against McKinley and Taft. And as years progressed his following decreased immensely. However Bryan was an extremely influential and persuasive public speaker.
In 1896 at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago Bryan delivered his famous Cross of Gold Speech. This speech advocated bimetallism. During this time, the country was experiencing economic hardship. Bimetallism supporters believed replacing the gold standard with silver would have an adverse effect of inflation. (Cross of Gold) Bryan’s political party wanted to “standardize the value of the American Dollar to silver.” (Cross of Gold) The silver standard would make it easier on the poor to repay their debts. The poor were associated with careers such as farming and agriculture as well as other small local businesses. It was also believed that individuals would also have an easier time repaying debts if the gold standard was changed to the silver standard. This speech helped Bryan during his first campaign. Americans “believed themselves victimized by banks, railroads, and agricultural implement dealers, who prevented farmers’ economic progress. That belief, coupled with sagging commodity prices, drought, high taxes, interest rates, and excessive freight charges, led farmers and other Americans to look for assistance” (Wunder). Bryan is who these Americans turned to. Many like the idea of the silver standard, but not enough to vote him into office.
During the next Presidential election Bryan moved from his silver standard platform to an anti-imperialism platform. However, there were times during this campaign where he combined the two policies. He was recorded saying “The nation is of age and it can do what it pleases; it can spurn the traditions of the past; it can repudiate the principles upon which the nation rests; it can employ force instead of reason; it can substitute might for right; it can conquer weaker people; it can exploit their lands, appropriate their property and kill their people; but it cannot repeal the moral law or escape the punishment decreed for the violation of human rights” (Hibben) Republicans mocked his “indecisiveness” and referred to him as a coward. It has been said that Henry Littlefield portrayed his Cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz, off of Bryan during this campaign. On August 8, 1900 Bryan gave another speech. This time its focus was on anti-imperialism. Most of the speech shows his support for equality. However he goes into detail discussing other nation’s practices. He sets the stage for his opinion as well as the opinion held by the Democratic Party. Bryan does a good job of using past presidents and political leader’s ideals, and policies to convince the American people of “what we should do now.” Though not expressed directly in this speech Bryan also perused avenues that supported Prohibition (without taking a direct stand on the matter) and attacked Darwinism beliefs.
Around this time period Bryan produced a weekly magazine titled: “The Commoner.” When he first produced the magazine he was calling for the help of his fellow Democrats. He wanted the Democratic Party to take the incentive in dissolving banking-trusts and regulating the railroad more closely. (William Jennings Bryan) Bryan believed that creating this magazine would generate followers, which he believed would indirectly help him win the 1908 Presidential election. He wanted “to take his message to the people through the most widely accessible medium for political expression available. Contemporaries often called Bryan the voice and hope of the people, the orator of small-town America and the mouthpiece for Jeffersonian democracy” (Wunder) The magazine ran from 1901-1923, and each edition presented “his personal, political and moral agendas, including his domestic policy support for business regulation, citizens’ ballot initiatives and referenda, the political primary nomination system and, in foreign policy, an anti-imperialist stance.” (Wunder) During the later years of the magazine Bryan attacked and undermined his opponents through the articles. He attacked numerous government agencies and leaders, which some believe helped him get appointed Secretary of State during the Wilson years. While Bryan was sitting Secretary or War, the magazine continued to endorse particular candidates for leadership positions and was noted as an extremely influential magazine.
At the end of the magazine’s life it began to take another approach. The magazine’s articles were less about the government, and Bryan’s political agendas and more about his religious beliefs. William Jennings Bryan has been noted as one of America’s leading men in politics during the turn of the century and many give credit to his speeches and this magazine as a factor.
“Cross of Gold.” 30 March 2011. Wikipedia. 20 April 2011 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross_of_Gold_speech.
Hibben, Paxton. The Peerless Leader, William Jennings Bryan. New York: Farrar and Rinehart, 1929.
“William Jennings Bryan.” 20 April 2011. Wikipedia. 20 April 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Jennings_Bryan.
Wunder, John. “William Jennings Bryan: The Commoner.” 9 Febrary 2010. Jnews. 20 April 2011 http://www.unljnews.net/college/the-commoner-william-jennings-bryan%E2%80%99snewspaper/.
In the late 1800s German political cartoonist Joseph Kepler created and founded America’s first humor magazine. Named for the mischievous Fairy in Shakespeare’s “Mid Summer Night dream,” Puck was only published in German. After a year of distribution and extreme popularity Puck rose to the top. It was then printed in both English and German. In 1920 publishers continued producing the English edition, but discontinued the German edition. The periodical was designed for criticizing and commenting on governments and political leadership through colorful political cartoons, caricatures and political satire. Puck primarily favored bourbon democrats. These democrats were considered conservative, classical liberals. The magazine also favored large corporations like banks and railroads. It was also said to support German American ideals and proficiently attack Irish Americans. Historians believe that the artists of the magazine enjoyed depicting political leaders over everything else, especially during political campaigns.
Released during the 1908 presidential campaign Samuel Ehrhart constructed a political cartoon depicting Theodore Roosevelt handing a baby off to William Taft. It was a popular piece of rhetoric during the campaign. Shown here on the right one can see the importance of Taft and Roosevelt’s comradely and friendship.
Roosevelt had been the President of the United States from 1901-1909 and decided not to run for a third term. It was believed that Roosevelt hand- picked Taft for the position and was going to do everything in his power to make sure that Taft won the presidential election. Teddy Roosevelt is depicted here as a cowboy. He was often depicted as a cowboy because of his robust “masculinity”. Though Roosevelt was neither from the South nor the West he remained true to his Cowboy association. Before becoming President, Theodore purchased land in North Dakota where he was able to practice his cowboy nature and experiment with land protection. In the early 1900 Cowboys were hired to maintain ranches and cattle. They often maintained and protected the land and its surroundings, which in some ways is easily compared to the principles of commander and chief.
In the background a bell hop is carrying Teddy’s “big stick”. The stick refers to Teddy’s popular saying “speak softly and carry a big stick and you will go far”. Roosevelt used this message while negotiating the Monroe Doctrine. He made it clear that he was willing to negotiate, but in a threatening manner. The big stick was representing Roosevelt’s military ties and the force behind them. Roosevelt was known to use his “big stick” metaphor continually throughout his presidency. The bellhop in this photo was meant to depict William Loeb, Roosevelt’s right hand man and head of advisors. William Loeb was an extremely knowledgeable political leader, but was mostly in the background. Loeb was given credit for assisting the President in the decision of not running for a third term. Loeb also assisted in finding a good replacement candidate that Roosevelt could endorse.
The baby in the picture is meant to depict the responsibilities of the presidency. Here Roosevelt is handing his responsibilities to Taft, who is well prepared in his maid’s uniform to accept the ongoing responsibilities. As one can see, the baby looks like Roosevelt because it is supposed to represent all his own plans and policies. The baby looks as though he will allow Taft to hold him, however it is clear that he would rather be held by Roosevelt.
Taft is depicted here as a man in a maid’s uniform. This has multiple dimensions of its own. Firstly, under his maid’s uniform is a suit, which shows Taft’s professionalism as the President to be. However the maid’s uniform shows his loyalty to Roosevelt as a servant of his plans, responsibilities, and policies for the country.
Samuel Ehrhart used his knowledge of history and the presidency to create this political advertisement. As it was distributed around the United States many Americans saw the add for what it was. It was viewed as Roosevelt leaving office, and handing all his responsibilities and policies to Taft. It was reassuring to the American people that Roosevelt left the office in good hands. He had left the presidency up to Taft, which was fine because Taft had the same beliefs and plans that Roosevelt had when he left office. The magazine also created several cartoons which completely discredited William Jennings Bryan.
The election of 1912 is historically viewed essentially as a battle of rhetorical wit between the Democrat from New Jersey, Woodrow Wilson, and the Progressive from New York, former president Theodore Roosevelt. Taft, who was relieved not to be reelected, did not figure very prominently into the campaign. Both Wilson and Roosevelt understood the importance of reform in this particular election, and made it a focus of their campaigning. Industry was transforming the nation, and changes had to be made in order to deal with the new problems that were arising while simultaneously maintaining “the democratic values that the Founders had envisaged” for the country.1 The most pervasive and crucial of these issues facing the nation in 1912 was the rise of big businesses. While Roosevelt and Wilson agreed that changes needed to be made to prevent big business from taking over and threatening the success and viability of American capitalism, they disagreed on how to go about making those changes.
Roosevelt believed the answers lied in what he called in a 1910 speech the “new nationalism.” For Roosevelt, there was no denying that big business was not going to go anywhere whether everyone liked it or not. So, rather than fight for its eradication, something Roosevelt seemed to think would be an exercise in futility, he advocated for its regulation. Wilson did not agree with this tactic. In a campaign speech in 1912, (found at http://bit.ly/gJH3Av), Wilson eloquently explains the difference between his and Roosevelt’s plans for big business reform and why Roosevelt’s plan is not sound:
He proposes in his platform not to abolish monopoly, but to take it under the legal protection of the government and to regulate it; in other words, to take the very men into partnership who have made it impossible to carry out these programs by which all of us wish to help the people. It is perfectly idle to talk of doing things when your hands are tied for you, so long as the men who now control the industry of the country continue to control it.2
Wilson skillfully connects Roosevelt with the tycoons who run the big businesses and monopolies in this speech, making Roosevelt out to be the bad guy when it comes to reforming big business and making real changes. Wilson continues on, outlining his own platform for reform in response to Roosevelt’s “New Nationalism” with what is generally referred to as Wilson’s “New Freedom.” Wilson makes it explicitly clear that his “New Freedom” does not seek to destroy the enterprise of capitalism that the country had worked so hard to build up. By doing this, Wilson addresses the concerns of big business men while still advocating for small business owners. His plan, as stated in this speech, is to “see to it that competition is so regulated that the big fellow cannot put the little fellow out of business, for he has been putting the little fellow out of business for the last half-generation.” Wilson projects in this speech the image of friend to all businessmen, seeking neither to destroy big business nor aid in the destruction of small business and competition. Wilson also masterfully avoids insulting any of Roosevelt’s supporters by stating that he explicitly stating that he believes they are “men and women of noble character and of elevated purpose” for whom he has “no word of criticism.”
The actual audio of the speech, recorded on a phonograph, is less than enthralling and slightly monotone. Wilson himself admitted he thought Roosevelt a superior personality to himself in that he could “appeal to people’s imagination.”3 The majority of people, however, most likely read this speech the next day rather than listened to it as Wilson read it. The actual words are effective and convincing, conveying clearly what Wilson believes to be the crucial difference between his and Roosevelt’s plan for reform. Despite the tone of voice, you can hear in this speech the rhetorical prowess and understanding with which Wilson spoke to the American people during the campaign.
1. Chace, James. 1912: Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft & Debs– the Election That Changed the Country. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004. 7.
2. 1912 US Election Campaign Speech Audio- Woodrow Wilson 1 of 6. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yb30L-NmKjo
The election of 1896 was heavily based around the currency situation in the United States. For some people, mainly Democrats and Populists, free silver was the obvious choice. For the republicans, the appropriate choice was abiding by the gold standard. This issue alone is a primary staple of the election of 1896’s legacy.
This political cartoon would be entirely too controversial and inappropriate to be printed in any newspaper today. This is a fantastic example of how the times have changed and how the ideals of the American people have changed; a lot less propaganda and rhetoric is tolerated in today’s society. This cartoon is titled “History Repeats Itself.” The anti-Semitic undertones of this cartoon are unpleasant and offensive, but regardless of the offensive content it certainly gets the message across. If something with this type of content was printed today it would gain an existentially larger amount of publicity because of the shock value alone, but it would not be as effective due to its offensiveness.
Social prejudice was much more widely accepted in the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. In the late nineteenth century, Anti-Semitism was actually a plausible variation of social prejudice, if there even is such a thing. Anti-Semitism was especially prominent in the western societies, and had been for years. The political party that exercised their distaste for the Jewish people the most was the Populists. The Populists placed blame on the Jewish people for many of the hardships that their people have faced, such as farmers who are in a serious amount of debt. These farmers helped induce the growth and stability of the Populist Party. It is especially disgusting to consider the attitudes of these western Populists, because their exposure to people of the Israeli culture was limited. This means that the majority of these harsh judgments made by the Populist Party were based on stereotypes alone.
In the top left corner of the cartoon there is an image of a man hanging himself and a caption that says: “What Judas ought to do.” Also, above the cross that Uncle Sam is being crucified upon there is a sign that reads: “This is U.S. in the hands of the Jews.” Both of these anti-Semitic visuals on the cartoon are awful to consider, but during the late nineteenth century they spread the message of the Populist Party effectively. The title alone sends a strong message about how the Jewish people ought to be seen. “History repeats itself” this image and idea draws many parallels to Bryan’s Cross of Gold speech. This cartoon is once again comparing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ to what the Jewish people in America are doing to Uncle Sam and all that he represents. But what initiated the prevalence of this anti-Semitism in American culture during the late nineteenth century?
A book titled “A Tale of Two Nations” written by a man named “Coin” Harvey, told a story that drew much attention to the negative effects of Jewish men having any control over money in the United States. The character development is basic, but some characters possess obvious personality traits to people involved in the election. The story told is about a London Banker who comes up with a fine plan to prevent the U.S. from ever using Silver as currency. He sends a man named Rogasner to the states to persuade the United States congress to abide by the gold standard. Unfortunately, Rogasner gets sidetracked by falling in love with a woman who is in love with a Nebraska congressman who happens to be pro-silver. Rogasner is supposed to represent a dark Jewish man who is out to destroy the Caucasian race. As ludicrous as this sounds, it actually did have an impact on the minds of many Western Americans. “Coin” Harvey saw the Jewish Banking Houses as the main reason for the working mans problems. This led to a negative generalization of the Jewish people. You see in this cartoon that there are republicans on one side and democrats on the other. They are both essentially doing the same thing to Uncle Sam, but notice the bucket of debt on the side of the Republicans. This is a clear representation of they debt that they do not seem to be clearing. Nowhere on this cartoon is the word Populist, so I assume this was a pro-Populist cartoon. Regardless of political position, this is an interesting yet offensive cartoon to publish in papers, but the message does get sent for all to interpret.
The election of 1912 was unique in that it was the only election until that point in time that had a viable third party candidate. In addition, the election functioned as “an important and pithy discussion about the country’s future.”1 The candidates were Democrat Woodrow Wilson from New Jersey, Republican William Howard Taft from Ohio, Progressive (“Bull Moose”) Theodore Roosevelt from New York and the persistent Socialist from Indiana, Eugene Debs. After serving the better part of two terms as president of the United States, Roosevelt essentially handed the Republican nomination down to Taft. Roosevelt believed Taft would carry on his legacy and serve the country in a way with which Roosevelt would agree.
Over the course of Taft’s term, however (1909-1912), Roosevelt became increasingly disappointed in the way Taft was carrying out his tenure as president. Sure that he had no choice but to take matters into his own hands once again, Roosevelt attempted to “wrest the Republican nomination away from Taft” before the 1912 presidential election.2 When he failed to do so, Roosevelt formed a third party, the Progressive Party, and “threw his hat in the ring” against his former successor Taft and Democratic nominee Woodrow Wilson. Roosevelt thought he had a shot, but the real impact he made on the election of 1912 was splitting the Republican vote and giving Wilson an advantage in the election that he would not have gotten had he been running against only one Republican candidate. Roosevelt and Wilson, the two leading candidates, both focused on reform, specifically on the topic of big business and the economy.3
In the general election, Wilson won 435 electoral votes and 42% of the popular vote to Roosevelt’s 88 electoral votes and 27% of the popular vote and Taft’s eight electoral votes and 23% of the popular vote. Debs won zero electoral votes with six percent of the popular vote. The election of 1912 proved to be the first and last time a third party candidate, Roosevelt, finished higher than third place. 4 The cartoon depicts what is widely recognized as the reason Wilson won the election; the division of the Republican Party provided Wilson with the perfect opportunity to let Taft and Roosevelt split the Republican vote and win enough electoral votes to win the presidency. In fact, Roosevelt “may well have handed Wilson the presidency.”5 Without the division of the Republican Party, Wilson would have had a much more difficult time securing the election.
The cartoon, created by Louis M. Glacken, was featured in Puck magazine in 1912. The humorous, liberal leaning magazine “functioned as a link between elite intellect and popular imagination.”6 In other words, Puck “tapped the great middle-class readership of America” while simultaneously attracting “upper and some lower class readers as well.”7 This particular piece of rhetoric was printed in an issue of Puck after the 1912 presidential election. The cartoon’s message is simple: The Grand Old Party (Republicans) divided by the Bull Moose/Progressive Party equals victory for Democrat Woodrow Wilson. The order is important too. The cartoon does not depict an equation in which the Republican Party simply split and neither faction was more to blame than the other. Instead, it is made clear with the elephant being divided by the Bull Moose that the Bull Moose (Theodore Roosevelt) drove the wedge between the party and essentially gave the win to Wilson. Roosevelt, who shared the majority of the election coverage and visibility with Wilson, received more votes than Taft, the incumbent. Both Roosevelt and Wilson were knowledgeable rhetoricians who understood the relationship between reform and success in the election. The oratorical skill and subsequent popularity of Roosevelt superceded the fact that Taft was the current president and former Roosevelt protégé. Roosevelt’s popularity proved too much for Taft’s incumbency to overcome, but not enough to defeat Wilson. This cartoon accurately and simply depicts this aspect of the election. Visually, this cartoon works because it is simple, clear and consistent: each part of the equation is represented by each party’s mascot (the Bull Moose even has Teddy Roosevelt’s glasses, just in case it was not explicitly clear). Furthermore, the cartoon implies that Wilson had no problem accepting the win for what it was. Perched on his faithful donkey, he is smiling and joyfully waving his hat in the air, enjoying his victory.
1. “Election of 1912.” US History. http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h887.html
2. “From Taft to Wilson: The 1912 Election.” The Authentic History Center. http://bit.ly/fsfV28
3. Chace, James. 1912: Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft & Debs– the Election That Changed the Country. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004. 3,7.
4. “From Taft to Wilson…”
5. Chace 7.
6. Backer, Dan. “A Popular Medium.” Uniting Mugwumps and the Masses: Puck’s Role in Guilded Age Politics. University of Virginia. http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ma96/puck/part3.html
7. Sloane, David E.E. Introduction. American Humor Magazines and Comic Periodicals. Ed. David E.E. Sloane. New York: Greenwood Press, 1987.
After two incredible terms, President Theodore Roosevelt decided not to run for a third. Instead he set out to find another candidate from the progressive party to take his spot. The first man Roosevelt chooses for the job was Elihu Root and he declined. Root believed that he would not be a good contender and had no interest in serving and as commander and chief. William Howard Taft was the second man that Roosevelt approached for the job. With a little bit of persuasion from his wife and Roosevelt, Taft accepted the offer. After Roosevelt hand- picked his successor the race was on. The 1908 presidential election was between William Howard Taft and William Jennings Bryan.
Taft was a well liked, respectable Republican man from Cincinnati, Ohio. He was from a large wealthy family who like himself, was very well educated. By the age of 30 Taft had made his way through law school, law firms and landed a position in the Ohio Supreme Court. In 1881 he was appointed to the United States court of Appeals for the sixth circuit and in 1904 President Roosevelt appointed him to Secretary of War. He remained in that position until he was nominated for President of the United States. Taft was projected to win. With Roosevelt as his primary endorser he was able to use Teddy’s popularity, policies and ideals to sway the American Public. Many believed voting for Taft was similar to voting Roosevelt into office for a third term. Taft wasn’t perusing any particular policies during his campaign. Many of his policies and plans were actually attributed to Roosevelt. Instead of promoting ideas, Taft took another avenue. His campaign slogan was “Vote for Taft now, you can vote for Bryan anytime.” Taft as well as the Republican Party believed if they promoted his popularity he won win by a land slide. Along with the American popular vote, Taft also consumed the votes of large businesses and corporations which at the time essentially controlled much of America.
William Jennings Bryan was very different then his competitor. He was a left wing Democrat. Many Americans viewed Bryan’s policies and ideals as an extreme and outlandish. William Jennings Bryan was a very religious man from Nebraska. He was endorsed by the Presbyterian Church whenever he ran for a position in the U.S. government. He held positions in both the Senate and House as well as serving in President Wilson’s cabinet. The 1908 campaign was Bryan’s third and final presidential campaign. The Democratic Party continued nominating him for the position of President, believing that he would make a wonderfully influential leader. However, Bryan had trouble running successful campaigns. Each election he ran was negatively correlated with the previous election. He continued losing, and each time by more votes. Bryan created the stumping tour, which many believed would help him win his elections. The stumping tour was when a candidate traveled around the USA giving speeches on platforms or sawed off tree stumps to the people of that town. Many of his contenders were staying at home, campaign on their own front porch. Bryan was known for his policies; free silver, anti-imperialism and trust-busting. During this campaign Bryan was perusing the trust-busting policy. Some believe that these ideals cost him the election. Essentially trust-busting was breaking up large corporations that used “trusts” to conceal the nature of certain business arrangements. The Democratic Party was trying to prove to the country that many large corporations were using these trusts to do illegal business transactions.
The campaign wasn’t a process like it is today. Many nominations were made months before the vote took place. Today people being campaigning for President years before the election. For the most part the country was evenly divided. Most Northern states voted for Taft, and many Southern states voted for Bryan. Roosevelt carried 29 states and an electoral vote of 321, which was equal to about 53% of the population. Bryan on the other hand carried 17 states, 162 electoral votes and 42% of the population. The Republican Party had remained in power and in office for 3 terms, after which the Democratic Party took control with Presidential candidate Woodrow Wilson. Unfortunately for Roosevelt and the Republican Party, Taft did not keep the promises in which he made. After a few years in office he decided to formulate his own ideals and policies, which cause Roosevelt to return to the campaign arena in 1912.
“1908 Presidential Election.” 16 April 2011. Wikipedia. April 18 2011 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_1912.
“Election of 1908.” United States History. 17 April 2011. http://www.ushistory.com/pages/h878.html.
unknown. “William Howard Taft.” American President An online Reference Resource. 17 April 2011 http://millercenter.org/president/taft/essays/biography/3.
“William Jennings Bryan.” 10 April 2010. Nebraska State Historical Society. 18 April 2011 http://blog.nebraskahistory.org/?p=1388.