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Jacob Casady
Hist 153
Module 3: Nano History
The campaign of 1912 and the intensity of mudslinging between Progressives: Teddy
Roosevelt vs. William Taft
During the campaign of 1912 insults and accusations flew between Theodore Roosevelt
and William Taft, but what most people do not know is these presidents were once best friends.
Before leaving office in 1909 Theodore began something he would soon regret. Theodore would
choose William Taft as his successor in the Republican Party. Teddy thought that William would
be the ideal candidate for the presidency but soon he would be proven wrong and have to make a
choice that would sacrifice their friendship for the good of the American people. Little did Teddy
know his actions would be in vain and Woodrow Wilson would win the election for the
Democratic Party.
Before the end of Theodore Roosevelt final term he appointed William Taft as his
successor for the Republican Party. Teddy and William were best friends who share many of the
same ideals. During his presidency Teddy offered William positions as a Justice in the Supreme
Court which William denied, and Secretary of War which he accepted in 1904. (HIST 153:
Contemporary America- William Howard Taft). Theodore chose William Taft as he successor so
that he may continue to carry out his programs and policies while sharing the same ideals.
However certain circumstance within the Republican Party would soon make the two presidents

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After the assassination of William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt became the 26th
president of the United States. However this was never quite intended. Theodore was the
governor of New York before his vice presidency, however the Republican Party devised a
strategy to nominate him for the vice presidency, this would give McKinley the support of the
people and keep teddy out of a position of power. However the Republican Party did not
anticipate the assassination of McKinley and Theodore rose to the presidency. The republicans
feared Teddys attitude and recklessness however he would go on to be one of the most
progressive presidents in this nations history. During his presidency Roosevelt became a
steward of the people (the WHITE HOUSE- Theodore Roosevelt). Teddy used his political
power in ways no other president has before, supervising deals between company and unions,
protecting national resources, and using military force to threaten big business as such happened
with the strikes of the Pennsylvanian United Mine Workers and George Baer. The coal
operators were informed that if no settlement were reached, the army would seize the mines and
make coal available to the public. (HIST 153: Contemporary America- Teddy Roosevelt)
During his presidency Theodore gained the nickname The Trust Buster for setting out on a
campaign to fight big trusts at which he succeeded most famous of which was the trust of
Northern Securities Railroad Company. (HIST 153: Contemporary America-Teddy Roosevelt)
Theodore fought for the ideals of the people without worry of blow back from big business.
During William Tafts presidency many criticized him of being a bad politician. Upon
gaining office his political skills were put to the test right of the back and they failed. Instead he
had to make a choice between two halves of the Republicans Party, the conservatives and the
progressives. Taft sided with the conservatives and this outraged the progressives. Unlike his

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predecessor who learned to control both sides of the party, Taft tore the Republican Party in half.
Although Tafts techniques varied from Roosevelt he enforced Teddys programs and continued
to initiate about 80 antitrust suits and submitted Federal income take amendments to congress as
well as direct election of senators. (the WHITE HOUSE- William Howard Taft). However his
inability to keep the two halves of the party whole sparked a flame in Roosevelt to run for
presidency once more. Although Taft kept his promise to continue Roosevelts programs, his lack
of political finesse is what he is known for and is what lost him the next election.
In the Campaign of 1912 the Republican Party was divided, and this would be their
doom. The conservatives sided with Taft claiming Roosevelt was dangerous to the state. Whereas
the progressives sided with Roosevelt who claimed Taft was a Puzzlewit and calling for a more
active government. (Return of the Rough Rider) War sparked between the candidates and these
previous best friends were now mortal enemies. Taft claimed Roosevelt " stretched the power of
the executive branch too far (Return of the Rough Rider). Certainly while in office Roosevelt
did push the boundaries of his political power, but all for good reasons and if nothing more than
for the people of his country. Taft and his conservatives even went as far to say Roosevelt had
become the most dangerous man in American history (Return of the Rough Rider). But with a
Party divided neither of the candidates had a chance to gain the presidency once more. Although
Roosevelt dominated the primaries Taft claimed the caucuses for himself. Slander and
accusations were made by both side and it is hard to believe that these two men once called each
other friends. The Republican Campaign had become a cutthroat game of snatch and grab.
However this game would all be for naught for Woodrow Wilson would claim the presidency for
the Democratic Party. One republican commented "We can't elect Taft & we must do anything to

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elect Wilson so as to defeat Roosevelt." (Return of the Rough Rider). This quote shares the
ideas that this fight between presidents proved nothing except they were no longer fit to lead.
No matter how aggressive the 1912 campaign became the ending will always be the
same, Woodrow Wilson would move on to become the next president. With the Republican Party
cut in half there was little chance of their success and although both leaders had their strength
neither were victorious. The progressive movement would soon come to a halt and the country
would change with it. After years of Republican politics it was not a Democrats turn to lead and
so he did into one of the bloodiest wars in human history. (HIST 153: Contemporary AmericaWoodrow Wilson)

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-Works Citied-

-Hist 153The Hist 153 articles were supplied and edited by my professor so I feel the sources are
very scholarly and un-biased. These are history article which gave me the information to
complete this paper.

HIST 153: Contemporary America-Teddy Roosevelt

HIST 153: Contemporary America- William Howard Taft,

HIST 153: Contemporary America- Woodrow Wilson

-The White House ArticlesThese articles are off of a government website so I feel as if they are a very trusted
source. The information from these websites gave me historical knowledge on Theodore
Roosevelt and William Taft.

the WHITE HOUSE- Theodore Roosevelt

the WHITE HOUSE- William Howard Taft

-Return of the Rough RiderThis article is from a very well renowned historical magazine company so I trust that
their article is un-biased and factual.
Return of the Rough Rider, Lewis L. Gould, Smithsonian Magazine, August 2008

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