Theodore Roosevelt

1912–The Year of the Presidents

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1912 was the year of the Presidents. It was an election year, but it saw the prominence of three Presidents {Past, Present and Future} involved.

To learn about a candidate in 1912 you had to depend on the newspaper or go to a political rally, if he came to your area. These were the days before candidates spoke on the radio, TV, held debates or took their cause to a talk show.

Theodore Roosevelt

Past—President Theodore Roosevelt—Roosevelt left the Presidency in 1908. He did not want to serve more than 2 terms, since none of his predecessors had. He disagreed with the job his handpicked successor, William Taft, was doing. In essence he ended up tearing the Republican party in two.
Theodore Roosevelt served as New York City Police Commissioner in 1895. He gained notability when he resigned his post in the Department of the Navy and formed the Rough Riders in 1898 {Spanish American War}. He became New York Governor later that year in President William McKinley’s running mate in the 1900 election.
Teddy Roosevelt became President after William McKinley was assassinated in 1901. He was returning from a hike when he received a telegram stating McKinley’s condition was critical. He and his family took a train towards Washington, when he received word of McKinley’s death. Roosevelt promised to keep McKinley’s policies. In 1904 he won the election in his own right. In 1905 he issued the Monroe Doctrine to help smaller countries in need. He made the White House a daily news center. He chose not to run for another term and supported Taft, who won.
Taft and Roosevelt remained friends until Taft filed papers against the US Steel, which greatly upset Roosevelt. This happened in October 1911, while Taft was already running for re-election. Roosevelt began his campaign for the presidency, but the bid came too late and most Republicans supported Taft. The primaries of 1912 was the first time a presidential primary was extensively used.
When Roosevelt did not win the bid of the Republican party, he formed the Progressive party, also known as the Bull Moose Party. An assassination attempt was made on his life on October 14, 1912. He carried the bullet with him for the rest of his life. The election was three weeks later, but Roosevelt was off of the campaign trail, recovering from his wound.
When The Great War {WWI} began, Roosevelt supported the allies and spoke out against Wilson’s reluctance to get involved. Quentin Roosevelt, his youngest son, was killed in service in 1918. He died in his sleep on January 6, 1919 of a heart attack. Vice President Thomas Marshall said “Death had to take Roosevelt sleeping, for if he had been awake, there would have been a fight.”

William Taft
Present—President William Taft—Taft was the sitting President, having been handpicked to take over for Teddy Roosevelt, when he left office. Roosevelt was not happy with the job Taft was doing in office and decided to challenge him. He was a very conservative President and didn’t particularly enjoy the job. Taft proposed and passed the bill to begin taxing the income of corporations. Before taking the office of President he was the administrator of the Panama Canal, a former judge, and Secretary of War under Roosevelt. He established a Postal Savings System and a Parcel Post System. Taft lost the 1912 election. He was our largest President ever, but lost considerable weight after leaving office.
After leaving office he taught law at Yale for a while. He supported a League of Nations, going so far as to found and serve on several boards to promote peace during the Great War. In 1921 he was appointed as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court {the only President to sit on the Supreme Court}. He retired in February 1930, and five weeks later, on March 8, he died. He became the first president buried at Arlington National Cemetery. He is the only Chief Justice to have a state funeral.

Future—President Woodrow Wilson—Wilson completed a doctorate in 1883 from John Hopkins University, making him the only president to hold such an advanced degree. He became President of Princeton University in 1902. Historian John Cooper said “Wilson’s tenure set Princeton on the path to become one of America’s great universities.”
In 1910 he became Governor of New Jersey. His popularity led to him running for President in 1912. He was elected President in 1912 and held the position for the next eight years. He tried to keep America out of the Great War {WWI}. When the Germans attacked American ships in 1917, he asked Congress to declare war. He was a great wartime leader, a leading person in the Peace Conference and the mastermind behind the League of Nations.
His wife, Ellen, died in 1914, making him one of three men to be left a widower while in office. The next year he married, Edith.
In 1919 he suffered a stroke and was very ill. He left politics the following year very disappointed in his perceived accomplishments. He passed away on February 3, 1924 and was buried at the Washington National Cathedral. He is the only president buried in Washington, DC.
Woodrow Wilson

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