By 1908, the year of the presidential election, an influential portion of the Republican members of Congress, particularly in the Senate, were bitterly opposed to President Roosevelt. His attitude on the trusts and the railroads was offensive to many, and on several occasions he had gained the upper hand over Congress by means which were coming to be known as "big-stick" methods. The so-called "constructive recess" of 1903 was an example.

Under the provisions of the Constitution, the president appoints many officials with the advice and consent of the Senate, when it is in session, and fills vacancies that happen during a recess by granting commissions which expire at the end of the next session. On December 2, 1903, at noon, one session of Congress came to an end and another began. Precisely at 12 o'clock, according to the official statement, the President issued new commissions to W.D. Crum, a negro, to be collector of the port of Charleston, and also to 168 army officers, of whom the President's close friend Brigadier-General Leonard Wood was one. General Wood was to be promoted to a major-generalship and the remaining promotions were dependent upon his advance. The President's theory was that a "constructive recess" intervened between the two sessions, during which he could make recess appointments. Although the Senate was hostile to both Crum and Wood, it reluctantly succumbed to Roosevelt's wishes rather than withhold promotion from the 167 officers to whom it had no objection.

In 1908, Senator Tillman, an outspoken Democratic critic of the President, declared that senators vigorously denounced Roosevelt's radical ideas in private but that in public they opposed merely by inaction. Party loyalty was sufficient to keep these Republicans, in most cases, from open and continued rebellion. Hardly less hostile to the President were many of the business men of the country, who objected to his economic policies, but the only alternative to Roosevelt was Bryan, who, as one of the earliest proponents of radical legislation, was even more offensive. On the other hand, a large majority of the rank and file of the party, especially in the North and West, upheld the President with unfeigned enthusiasm and made his position in the party so strong that he could practically name his successor. Several candidates had more or less local support for the nomination - Senator Knox, of Pennsylvania, Governor Hughes, of New York, Speaker Cannon, of Illinois, Vice-President Fairbanks, of Indiana, Senator La Follette, of Wisconsin and Senator Foraker, of Ohio. The President's prestige and energy, however, were frankly behind the candidacy of his Secretary of War, William H. Taft.

The Republican convention of 1908 met in Chicago on June 16. Early in the proceedings the mention of Roosevelt's name brought an outburst of enthusiasm which indicated the possibility that he might be nominated for a third term, despite his expressed refusal to allow such a move to be made. In the platform the achievements of the retiring administration were recounted in glowing terms; tariff reform was promised; and a postal savings bank, the strengthening of the Interstate Commerce law and the Sherman Anti-trust act, the more accurate definition of the rules of procedure in the issuance of injunctions, good roads, conservation, pensions and the encouragement of shipping, received the stamp of party approval. Planks pledging the party to legislation requiring the publicity of campaign expenditures, the valuation of the physical property of railroads and the popular election of senators were uniformly rejected. The closing paragraph declared that the "trend of Democracy is toward Socialism, while the Republican party stands for wise and regulated individualism." The contest over the nomination was extremely brief, as Taft received 702 out of 979 votes on the first ballot. James S. Sherman of New York was nominated for the vice-presidency.

The Democrats, meanwhile, were in a quandary. A considerable fraction of the party desired the nomination of somebody other than Bryan, whose defeats in 1896 and 1900 had cast doubts upon the wisdom of a third trial. Nevertheless the failure of Parker in 1904 had been so overwhelming that the nomination of a conservative seemed undesirable and, moreover, no candidate appeared whose achievements or promise could overcome the prestige of Bryan. The national convention was held in Denver, July 7-10, and Bryan dominated all its activities. The platform welcomed the Republican promise to reform the tariff, but doubted its sincerity; promised changes in the Interstate Commerce law, a more elastic currency, improvements in the law of injunctions, generous pensions, good roads and the conservation of the national resources. In the main, however, the platform was an emphatic condemnation of the Republican party as the party of "privileges and private monopoly." It declared that the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives exercised such absolute domination as to stop the enactment of measures desired by the majority. It demanded the termination of the "partnership which has existed between corporations of the country and the Republican party," by which the business interests contributed great sums of money in elections in return for an unmolested opportunity to "encroach upon the rights of the people." It promised the enactment of laws preventing corporation contributions to campaign funds and providing for the publication before election of all contributions by individuals. Detailed and definite planks in relation to trusts indicated that the framers of the platform possessed at least the courage of their convictions. Three laws were promised: one preventing the duplication of directors among competing corporations; another establishing a license system which would place under federal authority those corporations engaged in interstate commerce which controlled as much as twenty-five per cent. of the product in which they dealt, and which should likewise protect the public from watered stock and prohibit any single corporation from controlling over fifty per cent. of the total amount of any commodity consumed in the United States; and, third, a law forcing corporations to sell to purchasers in all sections of the country on the same terms, after making due allowance for transportation costs.

As soon as the platform was out of the way, the convention turned to the nomination of the candidate. Only George Gray, of Delaware, and John A. Johnson, of Minnesota, contested the leadership of Bryan, but their support was so slight that he was chosen on the first ballot. John W. Kern, of Indiana, was nominated for the vice-presidency.

Of the smaller parties which shared in the election of 1908, the People's party and the Socialists should be mentioned. The Populists adopted a program of economic reforms many parts of which had been prominent in their platforms of 1892 and 1896. Both the Republicans and the Democrats, however, had adopted so many of these earlier demands that the Populists rapidly lost strength and disappeared after 1908. The Socialists likewise advocated economic reforms, together with government ownership of the railroads, and of such industries as were organized on a national scale. The candidate nominated was Eugene V. Debs, a labor leader who had gained prominence at the time of the Pullman strike.[1]

The only novelty in the campaign was Bryan's stand in regard to campaign funds. By calling upon his supporters for large numbers of small individual contributions, he drew attention to the fact that the corporations were helping generously to meet Taft's election expenses. At their leader's direction the Democratic committee announced that it would receive no contributions whatever from corporations, that it would accept no offering over $10,000 and that it would publish a list of contributors before the close of the campaign.

The result of the election was the triumph of Taft and his party. The Republican popular vote was 7,700,000; the Democratic, 6,500,000; the Socialist, 420,890. The election also gave the Republicans control of Congress, which was to be constituted as follows during 1909-1911: Senate, Democrats, 32, Republicans, 61; House of Representatives, Democrats, 172, Republicans, 219.

Few men in our history have had a wider judicial and administrative experience before coming to the presidency than that of William H. Taft. He was born in 1857 in Ohio, graduated from Yale University with high rank in the class of 1878 and later entered upon the study of law. A judicial temperament early manifested itself and Taft became successively judge of the Superior Court in Cincinnati and of a United States Circuit Court. From the latter post he was called to serve upon the Philippine Commission, was later Governor of the Philippines and Secretary of War in Roosevelt's cabinet. During the period of his connection with the Philippines and his membership in the Cabinet he visited Cuba, Panama, Porto Rico, Japan and the Papal Court at Rome in connection with matters of federal importance.

Personally Taft is kindly, unaffected, democratic, full of good humor, courageous. As a public officer he was slow and judicial, rather than quick and executive like his predecessor. Although in sympathy with the reforms instituted by Roosevelt, Taft was less the reformer and more conscious of considerations of constitutionality. Roosevelt thought of the domain of the executive as including all acts not specifically forbidden by the Constitution or by the laws of the nation; Taft thought of it as including only those which were specifically granted by the Constitution and laws. The one was voluble, a dynamo of energy, quick to seize and act upon any innovation that gave promise of being both useful and successful; the other thought and acted more slowly and was less sensitive to the feasibility of change. One possessed well-nigh all the attributes necessary for intense popularity; the other inspired admiration among a smaller group. Roosevelt had a peculiarly keen perception of the currents of public opinion, enjoyed publicity and knew how to achieve it; Taft was less quick at discovering the popular thing and less adept at those tricks of the trade that heightened the popularity of his predecessor.

Despite the patent differences of temperament and philosophy between Taft and Roosevelt, both expected that the new administration would be an extension of the old one. Roosevelt indicated this in his frank preference for Taft as his successor; Taft indicated it in his thorough acceptance of the policies of the preceding seven years and in his intention, expressed at the time of his inauguration, to maintain and further the reforms already initiated. His first act, however, the appointment of his official advisors, caused some surprise among the friends of his predecessor who expected that he would retain most if not all of the Roosevelt cabinet. When he did not do so, it seemed as if the attempt to further the Roosevelt policies would lack continuity.[2]

The immediate problem that faced the new executive was the revision of the tariff. The task was one which has frequently resulted in political disaster, but the platform left no choice to the President:

    The Republican party declares unequivocally for a revision of the 
    tariff by a special session of Congress immediately following the 
    inauguration of the next President.... In all tariff legislation the 
    true principle of protection is best maintained by the imposition 
    of such duties as will equal the difference between the cost of 
    production at home and abroad, together with a reasonable profit to 
    American industries.

The precise meaning of this declaration will perhaps always remain a matter of dispute, although it is certain that the public in general understood it to mean a distinct lowering of the tariff wall, and Taft committed himself to downward revision in his inaugural address. Moreover, whether it was intended by the framers to commit the party to downward revision or not, the method of defining the amount of protection to be granted was both novel and unsatisfactory, as Professor Taussig has pointed out. How could the costs of production at home or abroad be determined? To what extent would the principle announced in the platform be carried? Almost any commodity can be produced almost anywhere if the producer is guaranteed the cost of production, together with a reasonable profit. The wise revision of the tariff is difficult enough under any circumstances; under so vague a theory as was proposed in 1908, the chances of success became remote.

The drafting of the tariff bill proceeded in the usual manner. The Ways and Means Committee of the House, the chairman of which was Sereno Payne, held preliminary public "hearings," which were open to any who desired to offer testimony or make requests. Naturally, however, the great body of the consuming public was little represented; most of those who appeared were manufacturers, importers and other interested parties. The bill drawn up by the Committee and passed by the House revised existing duties, on the whole, in the downward direction. The Senate Finance Committee, however, under the leadership of Nelson W. Aldrich, an experienced and able proponent of a high protective tariff, made 847 amendments, many of them important and generally in the direction of higher rates. The Senate, like the House, contained several Republicans, usually called "insurgents," who were inclined to break away from certain of the party doctrines. Senators Bristow, Cummins, Dolliver and La Follette were among them. This contingent had hoped for a genuine downward revision, and when they saw that the bill was not in accord with their expectations, they prepared to demand a thorough debate. Each of the insurgents made an especial study of some particular portion of the proposed measure so as to be well prepared to urge reductions. Their efforts were unavailing, however, and the bill passed - the insurgents voting with the great majority of the Democrats in the negative. The bill then went to a conference committee. Up to this point, the President had taken little share in the formation of the bill. Yet as leader of the party he had pledged himself to a downward revision and the result seemed likely not to be in the promised direction. He therefore exerted pressure on the conference committee and succeeded apparently in getting some reductions, chiefly the abolition of the duty on hides. The bill was then passed by both houses and signed by the President on August 5, 1909.

The question whether the Payne-Aldrich act redeemed the pledge embodied in the platform of 1908 will doubtless remain a debatable question. On the one hand, a prominent Republican member of the Committee on Ways and Means and of the Conference Committee, declared that the act represented the greatest reduction that had been made in the tariff at any single time since the first revenue law was signed by George Washington. Roosevelt also defended the act. Experts outside of Congress sharply differed. Professor Taussig analyzed the act in all its aspects and concluded that no essential change had been made in our tariff system. "It still left an extremely high scheme of rates, and still showed an extremely intolerant attitude on foreign trade." General public opinion was most affected by the fact that duties on cotton goods were raised, and those on woolen goods left at the high rates levied under the Dingley act. It also appeared that many silent influences had been at work - the duty on cheap cotton gloves, for example, being doubled through the efforts of an interested individual who procured the assistance of a New England senator.[3]

Not long after the passage of the act President Taft defended it in a speech at Winona, Minnesota, as the best tariff bill that the Republican party had ever passed. In regard to the woolen schedule he frankly said:

    Mr. Payne in the House, and Mr. Aldrich, in the Senate, although 
    both favored reduction in the schedule, found that in the Republican 
    party the interests of the wool growers of the Far West and the 
    interests of the woolen manufacturers in the East and in other 
    States, reflected through their representatives in Congress, were 
    sufficiently strong to defeat any attempt to change the woolen 
    tariff and that, had it been attempted, it would have beaten the 
    bill reported from either committee.... It is the one important 
    defect in the present Payne tariff.

The response of the press and the insurgent Republicans to the passage of the bill and to the Winona speech were ominous for the future of the party. Although not unanimous, condemnation was common in the West, even in Republican papers. Particular objection was made to the high estimate which the President placed upon the act and to his defence of Senator Aldrich, who had come to be looked upon as the forefront of the "special interests"; and western state Republican platforms in 1910 declared that the act had not been in accord with the plank of 1908.[4]

Coincidently with the disagreement over the Payne-Aldrich act, there raged the unhappy Pinchot-Ballinger controversy. One of the last acts of President Roosevelt had been to withdraw from sale large tracts of public land which contained valuable water-power. The purpose and the effect of the order was to prevent these natural resources from falling into private hands and particularly into the hands of syndicates or corporations who would develop them mainly for individual interests. President Taft's Secretary of the Interior, Richard A. Ballinger, took the attitude that the withdrawals were without statutory justification and he therefore revoked the order for withdrawals immediately after coming into office. Upon further investigation, however, he re-withdrew a part of the land, although somewhat doubtful of his power to do so.

During the summer of 1909, Gifford Pinchot, the Chief Forester, addressed an irrigation Congress in Spokane and asserted that the water-power sites were being absorbed by a trust. Much interest was aroused by the charge, which was looked upon as an attack on the Secretary of the Interior and his policy. Within a short time the idea became widespread, through the press, that Ballinger was associated with interests which were desirous of seizing the public resources and that this fact lay back of his partial reversal of the policy of his predecessor. This impression was deepened by the charges of L.R. Glavis, an employee of the Department of the Interior, concerning the claims of a certain Clarence Cunningham, representing a group of investors, to some exceedingly valuable coal lands in Alaska. Glavis asserted that the Cunningham claims were fraudulent, that many of the Cunningham group were personal friends of Ballinger and that the latter had acted as attorney for them before becoming Secretary of the Interior. President Taft, with the backing of an opinion from Attorney-General Wickersham, upheld Ballinger and dismissed Glavis. The press again took the matter up and the controversy was carried into Congress, where an investigation was ordered. About the same time Pinchot was removed for insubordination, and additional heat entered into the disagreement. The majority of the congressional committee of investigation later made a report exonerating Ballinger, but his position had become intolerable and he resigned in March, 1911. The result of the quarrel was to weaken the President, for the idea became common that his administration had been friendly with interests that wished to seize the public lands.

Republican complaint in regard to the tariff and the Pinchot-Ballinger controversy were surface indications of a division in the party into conservative or "old-guard," and progressive or insurgent groups. The same line of demarcation appeared in a quarrel over the power of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Joseph G. Cannon. Cannon had served in the lower branch of Congress almost continuously for twenty-seven years, and in 1910 was filling the position of speaker for the fourth consecutive time. Much of his official influence rested on two powers: he appointed the committees of the House and their chairmen, a power which enabled him to punish opponents, reward friends and determine the character of legislation; and he was the chairman and dominant power of the Committee on Rules which determined the procedure under existing practice and made special orders whenever particular circumstances seemed to require them. It was widely believed that Cannon, like Aldrich in the Senate, effectually controlled the passage of legislation, with slender regard to the wishes or needs of the people. "Cannonism" and "Aldrichism" were considered synonymous. For several years an influential part of the Republican and Independent, as well as the Democratic press had attacked Speaker Cannon as the enemy of progressive legislation. Many of them laid much of the blame for the character of the Payne-Aldrich act at his door. The Outlook decried "government by oligarchy"; The Nation declared that he belonged to another political age; Bryan queried what Cannon was selling and how much he got; Gompers, the head of the American Federation of Labor, pointed him out as the enemy of all reforms.

The outcry against the Speaker in the House itself, reinforced by the gathering opposition outside, found effective voice in a coalition of the Democrats and the insurgent Republicans. In mid-March, 1910, an insurgent presented a resolution designed to replace the old Committee on Rules by a larger body which should be elected by the House, and on which the speaker would have no place. The friends of Cannon rallied to his defence; other business fell into the background; and debate became sharp and personal. One continuous session lasted twenty-six hours, parliamentary fencing mingling with horse-play while each side attempted to get a tactical advantage over the other.[5] Eventually about forty insurgent Republicans joined with the Democrats to pass the resolution. The result of the change was to compel the speaker to be a presiding officer rather than the determining factor in the passage of legislation. About the time that Cannon's domination in the House was being broken, the announcement that Senator Nelson W. Aldrich and his staunchly conservative associate, Eugene Hale, of Maine, were about to retire indicated a similar change in the Senate. These men had served for long periods in Congress and were looked upon as the ablest and most influential of the "reactionary" element in the upper house.

Coincidently with the partial disintegration of the conservative wing of the Republican party in Congress, there was passed a large volume of legislation of the type desired by the insurgents. The public land laws were improved; acts requiring the use of safety appliances on railroads were strengthened; a Bureau of Mines was established to study the welfare of the miners; a postal savings bank system was erected; and an Economy and Efficiency Commission appointed to examine the several administrative departments so as to discover wasteful methods of doing business. Of especial importance was the Mann-Elkins Act of June 18, 1910, which further extended the powers of the Interstate Commerce Commission. Experience had brought out serious defects in the rate-fixing procedure set up by the Hepburn Act. By that law, to be sure, a shipper could complain that the roads were charging him an unreasonable rate and the Commission might, in course of time, uphold him and order relief; but in the meantime the shipper, especially if he were a small one, might be crushed out of existence through the large rates, and the consuming public would have paid increased prices for commodities with no possibility of a remuneration to them, even if the Commission decided that the rates levied were unreasonably high. The Mann-Elkins law, therefore, provided that the Commission might suspend any proposed change in rates for a period not greater than ten months, and decide during that time whether it was reasonable and should go into effect or not. In this way the burden of proving the justice of a suggested change was placed upon the railroads.[6]

An act of June 25, 1910, which was amended a year later, required the publication of the names of persons contributing to the federal campaign funds of the political parties, and the amounts contributed, as well as a detailed account of the expenditures of the committees and the purposes for which the expenses were incurred. President Taft also urged the passage of an income tax amendment to the federal Constitution and indicated that he was in favor of an amendment providing for the popular election of senators. Amendments for both these purposes passed Congress; but they were not ratified and put into effect until 1913.

In June, 1910, Roosevelt returned from Africa whither he had gone for a hunting trip, after the inauguration of President Taft. Both elements in the Republican party were anxious for his sympathy and support. Roosevelt himself seems to have desired to remain outside the arena, at least for a time, but for many reasons permanent separation from politics was impossible. He became a candidate for the position of temporary chairman of the New York Republican State Convention against Vice-President James S. Sherman. The contest in the convention brought out opposition to him on the part of the old-guard, and his triumph left that wing of the party dissatisfied and disunited. During the summer and autumn of 1910 he made extensive political tours. At Ossawatomie, Kansas, he developed the platform of the "New Nationalism," which included more thorough control of corporations, and progressive legislation in regard to income taxes, conservation, the laboring classes, primary elections at which the people could nominate candidates for office, and the recall of elective officials before the close of their terms. He urged such vigorous use of the powers of the federal government that there should be no "neutral ground" between state and nation, to serve as a refuge for law-breakers. Critics pointed out that these proposals had been urged by the insurgents and the followers of Bryan, and there could be no doubt where the sympathies of Roosevelt lay in the factional dispute within the Republican party.

While conditions within the organization were such as were indicated by the hostile criticism of the Payne-Aldrich act, by the Pinchot-Ballinger controversy, the overturn of Speaker Cannon and the disintegration of the Aldrich-Hale group, the congressional election of 1910 took place. Signs of impending change had already become evident. Insurgent Republicans were carrying the party primaries; and the Democrats, who were plainly confident, emphasized strongly the tariff act, Cannonism and the high cost of living as reasons for the removal of the Republicans. The result was a greater upheaval than even the Democrats had prophesied. In nine states the Republicans were ousted from legislatures that would elect United States senators; the new Senate would contain forty-one Democrats and fifty-one Republicans - too narrow a Republican majority in view of the strength of the insurgents. In the choice of members of the lower branch of Congress there was a still greater revolution; the new House would contain 228 Democrats, 161 Republicans and one Socialist, while Cannon would be retired from the speakership. In eastern as well as western states, Democratic governors were elected in surprising numbers. Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Oregon were among them. Of particular importance, as later events showed, was the success in New Jersey of Woodrow Wilson, former president of Princeton University.

Not long after the election of 1910 the President sent to Congress a special message urging the adoption of a reciprocal trade agreement with Canada. The arrangement provided for freedom of trade in many raw materials and food products, and for substantial reductions on some manufactured articles. He believed that the project would benefit both countries economically and improve the already friendly relations existing between them, and he set his heart upon its adoption. Opposition appeared at once: the farmers' organizations protested vigorously at the reduction of the tariff on agricultural products; the high protectionists were fearful of an entering wedge which might lead to further tariff reductions; and the paper and wood pulp interests also objected. Although the agreement eventually passed both houses of Congress by large majorities, the opposition was composed chiefly of Republicans. Objection to the arrangement in Canada turned out to be stronger than had been anticipated. The fear that commercial reciprocity might make the Dominion somewhat dependent on the United States seems to have caused a manifestation of national pride, and Sir Wilfred Laurier, who had led the forces in favor of the agreement, was driven out of power and reciprocity defeated. The result for the administration was failure and further division in the party.

Democratic control of the House during the second half of Taft's term effectually prevented the passage of any considerable amount of legislation. A parcel-post law, however, was passed, a Children's Bureau was established for the study of the welfare of children, and a Department of Labor provided for, whose secretary was to be a member of the cabinet. Aided by the insurgents, the Democrats attempted a small amount of tariff legislation. Although a general revision of the entire tariff structure would be a long and laborious task, specific schedules could be revised which would indicate what might be expected in case of Democratic success in 1912. The sugar, steel, woolen, chemical and cotton schedules were taken up in accord with this plan and bills were passed which were uniformly vetoed by the President.

In his attitude toward the regulation of big business, President Taft was in harmony with his predecessor and was in thorough sympathy, therefore, with suits brought under the Sherman law against the Standard Oil Company, and the American Tobacco Company. In May, 1911, the Supreme Court decided that both of these companies had been guilty of combining to restrain and to monopolize trade, and ordered a dissolution of the conspiring elements into separate, competing units. The Court also undertook to answer some of the knotty questions that had arisen in relation to section 1 of the act, which declares illegal "every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade." Did the prohibition against every contract or combination mean precisely every contract, whether important or not? Or did it refer merely to large and unreasonable restraints? The phraseology of the statute seems to prohibit restraints of all kinds, and the previous decisions of the Court had been in line with this view. When, then, the decisions in these two cases erected the "rule of reason" and declared that only those restraints were forbidden that were unreasonable, the attention of some opponents of the trusts was focussed on the obiter dictum, rather than upon the decisions themselves. In taking this position, they had the support of Mr. Justice Harlan who agreed to the decision but condemned theobiter dictum, asserted that the exact words of the law forbade every contract, and deprecated what he believed to be the amendment of statutes by the courts. The dissolution of the companies into competing units, however, had no apparent effect that was of benefit to the public. In fact, immediate increases in the value of Standard Oil stocks indicated that the decision was of slight consequence.

In the meantime the widening of the breach in the Republican party was indicated by the formation of the National Progressive Republican League on January 21, 1911. Its most prominent leaders were Senators Bourne, Bristow and La Follette; and leading progressives in different states were invited to join - among them ex-President Roosevelt. It was the hope that if the latter joined the League, the step might help to place him in more open opposition to the Taft administration. The purpose of the organization was the passage of progressive economic and political legislation, especially acts providing for the election of senators by vote of the people, direct primaries for the nomination of elective officers, direct election of delegates to national conventions, the initiative, referendum and recall in the states, and a thorough-going corrupt practices act.

Early in 1912 the factions in the Republican party began to consider the question of a leader for the coming presidential campaign, some of the progressive element looking to La Follette as the natural candidate, and others to Roosevelt when it was seen that he would not support Taft for a renomination. On February 21, Roosevelt addressed a constitutional convention in Columbus, Ohio, and expressed a political creed that closely resembled the program of the National Progressive Republican League. In the meantime the demand for Roosevelt as a candidate had been incessant on the part of numerous Republicans of insurgent sympathies, who realized how many more progressive principles he had accepted than Taft. Finally on February 24 he replied to an appeal from a group of his supporters, including seven state governors, that he would accept a nomination. Thereupon most of the progressives transferred their allegiance from La Follette to the ex-President. President Taft's fighting spirit had become aroused, in the meanwhile, and he had declared that only death would keep him out of the fight.

The call had already been issued for the Republican Nominating Convention to be held in Chicago, in June, and the contest began for the control of the 1,078 delegates who would compose its membership. The supporters of Taft, being in possession of the party machinery, were able to dictate the choice of many of these delegates, especially from the South, by means that had been usual in politics for many years. The friends of Roosevelt, in order to overcome this handicap, began to demand presidential preference primaries, in which the people might make known their wishes, and in which his personal popularity would make him a strong contender. During the pre-convention campaign, twelve states held primaries and the others held the usual party conventions. At first Taft did not actively enter the contest, but the efforts of Roosevelt were so successful and his charges against the President so numerous that he felt compelled to take the stump. The country was then treated to the spectacle of a President and an ex-President touring the country and acrimoniously attacking each other. The progressives, Taft asserted, were "political emotionalists" and "neurotics"; Roosevelt, he complained, had promised not to accept another nomination, had broken his agreement, and had not given a fair account of the policies which the administration had been following. Roosevelt charged Taft with being a reactionary, a friend of the "bosses" and with using the patronage in order to secure a renomination. And he grated on the sensibilities of the nation by referring to his influence in getting Taft elected in 1908 and remarking, "it is a bad trait to bite the hand that feeds you." The result of the presidential preference primaries in the few states that held them was overwhelmingly in favor of Roosevelt; in the states where conventions chose the delegates, Taft obtained a majority; in the case of over 200 delegates, there were disputes as to whether Taft or Roosevelt men were fairly chosen. These contests, as usual, were decided by the National Republican Committee, with the right of appeal to the Convention itself. The Committee decided nearly all the contests in favor of Taft's friends, and since all the delegates thus chosen would sit in the Convention and vote on one another's cases, the decision seemed likely to be final.

The scene of action then shifted to Chicago where the Convention assembled on June 18. Aroused by the action of the Committee in the contests, Roosevelt went thither to care for his interests.[7] The election of a temporary chairman resulted in the choice of Elihu Root, who was favorable to Taft. The Roosevelt delegates, declaring that the contests had been unfairly decided, enlivened the roll-call by shouts of "robbers," "thieves"; and when Root thanked the Convention for the confidence which it reposed in him, his words were greeted with groans. Upon the failure of an attempt to revise the decision of the National Committee in the cases of the contested delegates, Roosevelt announced that he was "through." One of his supporters read to the Convention a statement from him charging that the Committee, under the direction of Taft, had stolen eighty or ninety delegates, making the gathering no longer in any proper sense a Republican convention. Thereafter most of the Roosevelt delegates refused to share either in the nomination of the candidate or in the adoption of a platform. The choice of Taft as the candidate was then made without difficulty.

The platform contained the usual planks concerning the party's past, the protective tariff and the civil service; and it reflected something of the rising interest in economic and political reforms in its advocacy of laws limiting the hours of labor for women and children, workmen's compensation acts, reforms in legal procedure, a simpler process than impeachment for the removal of judges, additions to the anti-trust law, the revision of the currency system, publicity of campaign contributions and a parcel-post.

As the Republican convention was drawing its labors to a close, the dissatisfied adherents of Roosevelt met and invited him to become the candidate of a new organization. Upon his acceptance, a call was issued for a convention of the Progressive Party, to be held in Chicago on August 5. The discord among the Republicans was viewed with undisguised content by the Democratic leaders, for it seemed likely to open to them the doorway to power. Yet the same difference between liberals and conservatives that had been the outstanding feature of the Republican convention was evident among the Democrats, and nobody could be sure that a schism would not take place.

There was no lack of aspirants for the presidential nomination. J.B. ("Champ") Clark, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Governor Judson Harmon, of Ohio, O.W. Underwood, Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, and Governor Woodrow Wilson, of New Jersey, all had earnest supporters. In contests in the state conventions and primaries, Speaker Clark was most successful, although not enough delegates were pledged to him to secure the nomination.

The convention met in Baltimore on June 25, and for the most part centered about the activities of Bryan. On the third day he presented a resolution declaring the convention opposed to the nomination of any candidate who was under obligations to J.P. Morgan, T.F. Ryan, August Belmont, or any of the "privilege-hunting and favor-seeking class." An uproar ensued, but the resolution was overwhelmingly adopted. Balloting for the candidate then began. Speaker Clark had a majority, but was far from having the two-thirds majority which Democratic conventions require; Governor Wilson was more than a hundred votes behind him. While the fourteenth ballot was being taken, Bryan created a new sensation by announcing that he should transfer his vote from Clark to Wilson, on the ground that the New York delegates were in the hands of Charles F. Murphy, the leader of Tammany Hall, and that Murphy was for the Speaker. The relative positions of the two leading candidates remained unchanged, however, for five ballots more. Then the tide began to turn. At the thirtieth, Governor Wilson led for the first time, and on the forty-sixth Clark's support broke and Wilson was nominated.

The platform resembled that of 1908. It called for immediate downward revision of the tariff, the strengthening of the anti-trust laws, presidential preference primaries, prohibition of corporation contributions to campaign funds, a single term for the president and the revision of the banking and currency laws.

The organization of the Progressive party, in the meantime, was rapidly proceeding, and on August 5 the national convention was held. It was an unusual political gathering both in its personnel - for women delegates shared in its deliberations - and in the emotional fervor which dominated its sessions. At the Democratic convention the delegates had awakened the echoes with the familiar song "Hail! Hail! The gang's all here"; the Progressives expressed their convictions in "Onward, Christian Soldiers." Roosevelt's speech was called his "confession of faith"; his charge that both of the old parties were boss-ridden and privilege-controlled epitomized the prevailing sentiment among his hearers. Without a contest Roosevelt was nominated for the presidency and Hiram Johnson of California for the vice-presidency.

The platform adopted was distinctly a reform document. It advocated such political innovations as direct primaries, the direct election of senators, the initiative, referendum and recall, a more expeditious method of amending the Constitution, women's suffrage, and the limitation of campaign expenditures. A detailed program of social and economic legislation included laws for the prevention of accidents, the prohibition of child labor, a "living wage," the eight-hour day, a Department of Labor, the conservation of the nation's resources, and the development of the agricultural interests. The third portion of the platform dealt with "the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics." It declared the test of corporate efficiency to be the ability "to serve the public"; it demanded the "strong national regulation of interstate corporations," a federal industrial commission comparable to the Interstate Commerce Commission and the protection of the people from concerns offering worthless investments under highly colored and specious appearances.

The results of the election indicated how complete the division in the Republican party had been. In the electoral college Wilson received 435 votes to Roosevelt's 88 and Taft's 8. Yet Wilson's popular vote - 6,300,000 - fell far short of the combined Roosevelt-Taft vote - 7,500,000 - and was less than that of Bryan in 1896, 1900, and 1908.[8] The fact that the combined Roosevelt-Taft vote was less than that received by Taft in 1908 seems to indicate that many Republicans refused to vote. The control of Congress, in both houses, went to the Democrats, even such a popular leader as Speaker Cannon failing of reelection. In twenty-one of the thirty-five states where governors were chosen, the Democrats were triumphant. Whether, then, the schism in the Republican party was responsible for the success of the opposition, or whether the electorate was determined upon a change regardless of conditions in the party which had hitherto controlled popular favor, the fact was that the overturn was complete. And circumstances that could not have been foreseen and that affected the entire world were destined to make the political revolution profoundly significant.


In the main, periodical literature written with more or less partisan bias must be relied upon.

For the election of 1908, F.A. Ogg, National Progress (1918), and the better newspapers and periodicals. W.H. Taft may be studied in his Presidential Addresses and State Papers (1910), Present Day Problems (1908), and Our Chief Magistrate and His Powers (1916).

On the Payne-Aldrich tariff: S.W. McCall in Atlantic Monthly, vol. CIV, p. 562; G.M. Fisk in Political Science Quarterly, XXV, p. 35; H.P. Willis in Journal of Political Economy, XVII, pp. 1, 589, XVIII, 1; in addition to Tarbell and Taussig.

The documents in the Pinchot-Ballinger controversy are in Senate Documents, 61st Congress, 2nd session, vol. 44 (Serial Number 5643), and 3rd session, vol. 34 (Serial Numbers 5892-5903).

For other incidents: C.R. Atkinson, Committee on Rules and the Overthrow of Speaker Cannon (1911); Canadian reciprocity in Senate Documents, 61st Congress, 3rd session, vol. 84 (Serial Number 5942); Appleton's American Year Book (1911). The decisions in the Standard Oil and American Tobacco cases are in United States Reports, vol. 221, pp. 1, 106; a good discussion will be found in W.H. Taft, Anti-Trust Act and the Supreme Court (1914). For the rise of the insurgent movement and the election of 1912, F.E. Haynes, Third Party Movements (1916); R.M. La Follette, Autobiography; B.P. De Witt, Progressive Movement (1915); W.J. Bryan, Tale of Two Conventions (1912); besides Ogg, Beard and Stanwood.

The American Year Book (1910-), becomes serviceable in connection with major political events. Its articles are usually non-partisan and may be relied upon to bring continuing tendencies and practices up to date.

       * * * * *

[1] Above, p. 322.

[2] The cabinet was composed of: P.C. Knox, Pa., Secretary of State; P. MacVeagh, III., Secretary of the Treasury; J.M. Dickinson, Tenn., Secretary of War; G.W. Wiekersham, N.Y., Attorney-General; F.H. Hitchcock, Mass., Postmaster-General; G.L. Meyer, Mass., Secretary of the Navy; R.A. Ballinger, Wash., Secretary of the Interior; J. Wilson, Ia., Secretary of Agriculture; C. Nagel, Mo., Secretary of Commerce and Labor. Meyer and Wilson had been in Roosevelt's cabinet.

[3] Other features of the act were the establishment of a Court for the settlement of tariff disputes, provisions for a tariff commission and a tax on corporation incomes.

[4] Mr. Dooley, who was well known as a humorous character created by F.P. Dunne, made merry with the claim that the tariff had been reduced, by reading to his friend Mr. Hennessy the "necessities of life" which had been placed on the free-list and which included curling stones, teeth, sea-moss, newspapers, nuts, nux vomica, Pulu, canary bird seed, divy divy and other commodities.

[5] A sample of the jocosity that partially relieved the tension is the following portion of the Congressional Record for March 18:

    The Speaker pro tempore: The House will be in order. Gentlemen 
    will understand the impropriety of singing on the floor, even though 
    the House is not at this moment transacting any business. The House 
    is not in recess.

    Chorus. "There'll be a hot time in the old town to-night."

    The Speaker pro tempore. That was last night, not to-night. 
    (Laughter.) The House will be in order.

    Mr. Shackleford. Mr. Speaker, I make the point of order that the 
    tap-tapping of the Chair's gavel interferes with the music. 

Cf. Atkinson, Committee on Rules, 115.

[6] A Commerce Court was also provided, so as to expedite the decision of appeals from orders of the Commission. Its career was brief, for Congress was not well-disposed toward the project, and the Court was abolished in 1913.

[7] When Roosevelt arrived in Chicago, he remarked that he felt like a "bull moose," an expression which later gave his party its popular name.

[8] Roosevelt, 4,000,000; Taft, 3,500,000.