This is the official ballot for presidential elector for Election District No. 2, Town of Castile, November 5, 1912, signed by Merlin S. Smallwood and Thos. J. Murphy, Commissioners of Elections of and for Wyoming County, NY.
The Presidential Nominees are (President / Vice-President):
||Woodrow Wilson / Thomas R. Marshall
||William H. Taft / James S. Sherman
||Eugene V. Debs / Emil Seidel
||Eugene W. Chafin / Aaron S. Watkins
|National Progressive Ticket:
||Theodore Roosevelt / Hiram W. Johnson
|Socialist Labor Ticket:
||Arthur E. Reimer / August Gillhaus
The presidential election of 1912 brought Americans a difficult choice between a reform Democrat, a conservative Republican, and one of the most popular presidents of the era.
Elected as vice-president in 1900, Theodore Roosevelt became president after the assassination of William McKinley in 1901. In 1904, he won a full term in a crushing defeat of Democrat Alton Parker. In his inaugural speech of 1904, Roosevelt said he would consider his seven years as president as two full terms, and promised not seek a third term reelection, a promise he would later regret.
Perhaps most noted today for his transfer of some 125 million acres of public land to national parks and wildlife reserves, the Roosevelt presidency was marked by ardent nationalism and progressive domestic policy. Roosevelt fought hard for government regulation of industry, the establishment of a federal Bureau of Corporations and the Department of Commerce and Labor. He arranged for construction of the Panama Canal, and his facilitation of the peace negotiations following the Russo-Japanese war in 1905 won him the Nobel Peace Prize.
By 1908, there was little doubt that if Roosevelt had chosen to run again, he would have been reelected. But, he had given his word that he would not. Instead, he hand-picked a successor he felt confident would continue his policies, a man who had served as a lawyer, a judge, governor of the Philippines and secretary of war, William Howard Taft. Roosevelt saw the country drifting toward socialism. He felt the policies of the Taft's administration should be designed to halt that drift.
However in the years following, Roosevelt grew increasingly disillusioned with his choice and with his party. He felt Taft had allied himself with the conservative leadership of the Republican party, and Roosevelt became an outspoken critic of the president's policy. Roosevelt's personal and political friends urged him to run again in 1912. At first, he was resolutely opposed. He knew he would be labeled power-hungry, would risk the unity of the Republicans and even his place in history. But he also recognized that he was largely responsible for the progressive movement within his party, a movement he did not want to see fail, and felt, perhaps, he could beat Taft for the Republican nomination.
By June, at the 1912 Republican National Convention, Roosevelt had already won almost every primary, but the Republican machine was determined to nominate Taft. The Roosevelt delegates withdrew from the convention and on August 5, they held the first convention of the Progressive Party, nicknamed the Bull Moose Party.
Roosevelt realized that by splitting his party, he was almost ensuring a Democrat in the White House for the first time since 1892, nominee Woodrow Wilson. Nevertheless, he campaigned vigorously for the "New Nationalism" program of the Progressives, which included direct election of US senators, votes for women, a corrupt-practices act, a federal securities commission, old-age pension, abolition of child labor and pure food laws.
Actually, Roosevelt and Wilson were both progressives, but Wilson was a strong proponent of states' rights and felt that such issues as women's suffrage and child labor laws were issues for the state. Wilson rejected a stronger role of government in human affairs. Roosevelt won the progressive Republicans, but could not sway the reform Democrats. When it was over, the popular vote showed:
Although Wilson won by a landslide in the electoral vote, he won only 42 percent of the popular vote.
For more information about presidential elections or Theodore Roosevelt, please contact the Research Center or your local public library.