1 AMST 4312 5 May, 2012 Professor Salvatore Theodore Roosevelt, Progressivism, and the Constraints of American Exceptionalism While

variations of the idea of American Exceptionalism have existed since the inception of the republic, its modern conception—a domestic faith in the inherent good of democratic capitalism and a belief in an American responsibility to do good abroad—has its roots in the Republican Party of the early 20th century. This political attitude distinguished the United States from Europe and prevented the federal government from taking all but the smallest of steps to adapt to the needs of an increasingly urban and industrial nation. While the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt would eventually overcome, at least domestically, the limits of exceptionalism, it is Franklin‘s cousin Theodore who deserves credit for being one of the first national figures to mount an assault on the old order. TR may have made little progress in the conception of foreign policy, but his summation of decades of international progressive thought in his New Nationalism provided a significant part of the intellectual foundation which showed that the United States could no longer live in isolation; indeed, it would eventually change the face of the federal government itself. Though TR was inherently limited by his conception of business monopoly and combination, the New Nationalism nevertheless bridged his progressive impulses as president to a distinctly modern platform. By the end of the 19th century, the United States was changing at such a rapid pace that even the most adroit administration would have difficulty keeping up. Between 1890 and 1900, the population alone grew by close 20.5 percent, rising from 63 million to 76 million; over the course of Theodore Roosevelt‘s presidency, this figure would increase by another 21 percent to 92 million.1 This expanding population would eventually put the majority of Americans in cities and the majority of workers outside of agriculture. In 1900, close to 40 percent of Americans lived in urban areas—

2 45.5 percent did a decade later.2 Urbanization and an expanding population together helped feed the rapidly growing manufacturing sector which in 1900 employed almost 22 percent of the workforce. While the growing population and economic expansion fueled stellar economic indicators, conditions for the workers themselves were mixed at best. While wages in 1901 had recovered from the depression of 1893, average annual income was only $508, excluding farm labor; contemporary estimates of a living wage put the figure at $600 for basic subsistence, a sum which over two thirds of the adult workforce did not make, not to mention the 1.75 million children between the ages of 10 and 15 who were considered employed.3 Robert Hunter‘s ground–breaking 1904 study Poverty estimated that as many as 10 million Americans lived below the poverty line.4 Problems in the new American economy, however, were not limited to wages and child labor. Over the course of the Roosevelt administration, approximately 20,000 Americans were killed in work–related accidents per–year; another 500,000 were injured or maimed annually.5 Poor conditions and low wages also exacerbated tensions in labor relations. There were over 3,000 strikes and work stoppages in 1901 alone.6 Such problems were not unique to the United States; American reformers in fact often communicated with their European and South American counterparts on, in the words of Julian Mack, president of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections, ―how to alleviate suffering to cure the ills that, by common belief, many of our fellow citizens were inevitably doomed to bear.‖7 This trans–Atlantic partnership produced a voluminous literature on private poverty alleviation and, eventually, on public policy. Initially, however, these reformers depended mostly on private charity. When charity failed though, many reformers reached the same conclusion as social worker Jane Addams did from her work at Hull House, that the poverty and injustice faced by the working class was, ―too far–reaching to be cared for by any private philanthropy.‖8

3 Unfortunately, recognizing that government intervention was needed and actually implementing any meaningful, programmatic reform were two wholly separate acts, at least in the United States. While nations like Germany and the United Kingdom were early adopters of measures such as minimum wages and social insurance, American reformers were left to advocate their cause at the state and municipal level; the federal government was unwilling to consider such laws or to address the large corporate trusts that exploited the situation.9 Federal recalcitrance may be partially attributed to the nature of the Republican Party, the dominant political organization at the turn of the century. While the GOP originally emphasized unity between capital and labor, public perception under the administration of William McKinley was that the party‘s true sympathies favored capital at the expense of labor; McKinley, for example, though he demanded, ―a remedy for the evils involved in [trusts],‖ refused to authorize any use of the Sherman Antitrust Act.10 Moreover, the Senate was increasingly identified as being in the pockets of regional business interests. Senator Marcus A. Hanna of Ohio, who was also a close friend and advisor of President McKinley, typified the Republican view that as far as trusts went, ―a man had a right to do what he pleased with his own.‖11 The end result of these beliefs was a faith that, unlike Europe, the United States would transcend the problems of urbanization and industrialization through the expansion of business and without the extension of federal power. Such was the state of the nation and the Republican Party that Theodore Roosevelt inherited after the tragic assassination of William McKinley in September 1901. While Roosevelt pledged McKinley‘s policies would ―continue absolutely unbroken,‖ Republican leaders remained wary of the new president.12 Roosevelt, indeed, came to Presidency having already displayed a reformist streak. In 1883, as New York State Assemblyman, he had pushed through legislation for better working conditions for cigar rollers; as Governor of New York, he advocated for transparency in corporate affairs as an antidote to corruption.13

4 Such behavior, combined with his impetuous resignation as Assistant Secretary of the Navy to fight in the Spanish–American War, had almost kept Roosevelt from being nominated Vice President in 1900. With morbid prescience, Senator Hanna had asked his fellow Republicans, ―Don‘t any of you realize there‘s only one life between that madman and the Presidency?‖14 Needless to say, Roosevelt‘s pledge did not convince Hanna. Opposition from a conservative senate would be one of the biggest limitations Roosevelt faced as president. Nevertheless, a selected analysis of Roosevelt‘s presidency shows his ideas of reform developed into a strong, incipient progressivism. Roosevelt‘s first major act as president seems at face value to have justified Hanna‘s fears. Roosevelt, like McKinley, was wary of the Sherman Antitrust Act as an instrument of long term economic policy.15 Roosevelt‘s conception of trusts and monopolies—that size was irrelevant as long as government regulation ensured proper behavior—would indeed eventually limit him more than any conservative opposition, though mostly after his presidency.16 In February 1902, however, the Sherman Act was the only tool Roosevelt had at his disposal to deal with the creation of the Northern Securities Company.17 Northern Securities was a railroad holding company formed in 1901 which merged the assets and stock of the Great Northern and Northern Pacific railroads; the resulting entity was so massive that it threatened to dominate the states its lines straddled.18 The first complaint, in fact, came from a court test supported by the governors of Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, and North and South Dakota.19 Though the February 19, 1902 announcement that the Justice Department would pursue an antitrust case against Northern Securities would seem to violate Roosevelt‘s own view on corporate combination, the suit was in fact a move designed to help implement his policy. Seven years earlier, in United States v. E.C. Knight Co., the Supreme Court had greatly circumscribed federal oversight and regulation of trusts.20 To Roosevelt, the emergence of Northern Securities was not about how trusts should be controlled, but rather, ―the absolutely vital question was whether the government had the

5 power to control them at all.‖21 By vigorous prosecution of Northern Securities, Roosevelt aimed not only to overturn E.C. Knight Co., but to establish precedent for federal regulatory authority, especially over railroads. The success of Roosevelt‘s antitrust action indeed allowed him to push for the administrative regulations he preferred as opposed to relying on the Sherman Act. For the rest of his political career, Roosevelt would be more consistent in his beliefs regarding the combination of capital. Once the principle of federal supremacy was established, Roosevelt was content to leave the oversight of corporate affairs to the Bureau of Corporations, established within the newly created Department of Commerce and Labor in 1903, as well as the Interstate Commerce Commission.22 When the Supreme Court ratified Roosevelt‘s actions in 1904, Roosevelt praised, ―the newer and more wholesome doctrine under which the Federal Government may now deal with monopolistic combinations.‖23 Additionally, though railroads would continue to be an issue throughout Roosevelt‘s time in office, the two major pieces of legislation addressing them, the Elkins Act of 1903 and the Hepburn Act of 1906, expanded the discretionary authority of the executive branch by increasing the powers of the ICC, thereby fulfilling Roosevelt‘s desire for increased federal administrative power.24 While an impressive departure from the policy of the McKinley administration, Roosevelt‘s suit against Northern Securities was a political fight on the ground of his choosing. In September 1902, Roosevelt confronted his first major domestic crisis: a long running strike in Pennsylvania‘s anthracite coal industry.25 A previous strike two years earlier had been resolved through the intervention of McKinley and Senator Hanna; then, the coal operators had actually agreed to minor concessions.26 This strike, however, given the seasonal timing, threatened to cause a serious shortage of fuel for heating during the approaching winter. Given that such an occurrence would cripple the nation, the coal operators refused to brook any compromise, believing that they could rely on the government to eventually break the strike.27

6 By the time Roosevelt chose to act in September, the situation was urgent. The strike had been on since May and coal prices on the East Coast had doubled to $15 per ton. Roosevelt struggled to justify intervention as public pressure to end the strike mounted. Eventually, he summoned John Mitchell, president of the United Mine Workers, and the presidents of the railroads that owned the mines to Washington on October 3, 1902, writing, ―the failure of the coal supply has become a matter of vital concern to the whole nation.‖28 At the meeting, Roosevelt attempted to play the role of mediator, with the ultimate goal of resuming production immediately.29 Mitchell suggested that Roosevelt name a tribunal to ―determine the issues which have resulted in the strike‖ and offered that if the coal operators accepted the tribunal‘s verdict, so too would the union. The operators‘ counter offer was to call Mitchell an ―outlaw,‖ demand that the UMW be dissolved as a trust, and for Roosevelt to dispatch troops, ―to at once squelch the anarchistic condition of affairs existing in the anthracite coal regions by the strong arm of the military.‖30 Though the meeting was a failure in the sense that it did not resolve the strike, it represented a critical juncture in American labor history as well as Roosevelt‘s eventual institution of the Square Deal. First, Roosevelt had put a labor union—and by extension ordinary workers—on the same political level as management.31 The consequence of this action was to legitimize the cause of labor organization and moreover recognize that perspectives from outside the management class were necessary to determine what was best for the nation. Additionally, Roosevelt‘s decided against the unilateral use of force in an era when violent repression of strikes was common; only eight years earlier, President Grover Cleveland had ordered regular Army troops to break the Pullman strike.32 For recognizing treating union workers as participants in a bargaining process, Roosevelt deserves praise. Roosevelt‘s eventual resolution of the strike, however, still conformed to his idea that business alone could do good so long as it had the guidance of the federal government. To

7 Roosevelt, his efforts required, ―even handed justice to operator and miner alike.‖33 These principles would form the basis of the Square Deal. So while the United Mine Workers may have been legitimate in Roosevelt‘s eyes, they were not necessary to an equitable solution. The strike, which ended on October 23rd, was resolved by a six member commission which did not include any representative of the UMW; the closest organized labor got to the commission was the appointment of Edgar E. Clark, who was grand chief of the Order of Railway Conductors, but was labeled ―an eminent sociologist‖ in order to make him palatable to the other members of the commission, including Roosevelt‘s friend and J.P. Morgan & Co. partner George W. Perkins.34 The commission itself eventually presented an even handed settlement which included a 10 percent pay raise, a nine–hour day, and a grievance arbitration system. Crucially, however, it did not recognize the UMW as a bargaining agent.35 While Roosevelt would eventually suffer politically from his attitude towards union recognition, in 1902 such a settlement was unprecedented and put Roosevelt in labor‘s good graces. Square dealing certainly beat strike breaking. Roosevelt‘s actions, moreover, catapulted him to leadership of progressive Republicans. A December 1902 article in the progressive North American Review wrote that his actions, ―have given the color of romance and knight errantry‖ to the office of the president; another regular Republican newspaper called the settlement, ―a great personal triumph.‖36 Such accolades were useful for Roosevelt as the election of 1904 approached. While his nomination was virtually secured after the death of Senator Hanna in February, Roosevelt still needed to shape the Republican platform, especially in areas where he would still clash with the old guard GOP. Fortunately for Roosevelt, the popular goodwill and esteem he gained from the Northern Securities case and the resolution of the coal strike translated into an almost absolute domination of the Republican National Convention in Chicago.37

8 It is no surprise then that the party platform exactly echoed Roosevelt‘s unique, exceptionalist acceptance of monopoly as a dispassionate force so long as proper regulation existed. The platform stated that: Combinations of capital and labor are the results of the economic movement of the age, but neither must be permitted to infringe upon the rights and interests of the people. Such combinations…are alike entitled to the protection of the laws, but both are subject to the laws and neither can be permitted to break them.38 Such a plank left Roosevelt plenty of room to pursue further expansion and centralization of federal regulatory power. It also, however, reinforced the idea of the GOP as a pro–business party in that it defended the size of trusts as a natural outgrowth of the economy. Such a position was not popular in the progressive movement; it would not hurt Roosevelt in a race against the conservative Democrat Alton B. Parker, but Roosevelt‘s refusal to adjust his views on this subject threatened to become a political liability. Future liabilities aside though, in 1904, Theodore Roosevelt was indomitable. Moreover, Alton Parker proved to be one of the most uninspiring candidates in popular memory. His acceptance speech was a disappointment; Albert Shaw of the American Review of Reviews wrote that, ―this is the most apathetic campaign ever heard of since James Monroe‘s second election.‖39 Roosevelt easily triumphed in such an atmosphere, winning 56.4 percent of the popular vote and 336 electoral votes.40 Such a commanding electoral performance initially gave Roosevelt a significant amount of leverage to push his legislative agenda. Had he not chosen to pledge against running again in 1908 on election night, his influence would have undoubtedly lasted even longer.41 In his second term, Roosevelt would indeed need all of the leverage and influence he could muster. One of his chosen targets of reform, railroad regulation, set him against the Senate and nearly ignited a Republican civil war.42 In early 1905, Roosevelt received a report from the ICC

9 stating that railroads were using discriminatory pricing to favor certain shippers; in the report, the ICC commissioner, Charles A. Prouty stated that the situation, ―demand[s] legislative and perhaps legal action.‖43 Congress was not necessarily averse to regulating the railroads and in 1903 had banned discriminatory rebates under the Elkins Act.44 Roosevelt, however, wanted to permanently reconcile the railroads actions with the best interests of the nation and believed he had the force of public opinion on his side. In his annual message to Congress, he argued that, ―the government must in increasing degree supervise and regulate the workings of the railways engaged in interstate commerce [to avoid] an increase of the present evils.‖45 Public opinion did not just side with Roosevelt, it was the genesis of his concern. Agitation over railroad rates and combination was a pervasive and popular cause; public sentiment perceived rising freight rates, which were already at an exorbitant level, as tied to increasing cost of living.46 In the aftermath of his electoral success, Roosevelt became the champion of regulatory reform, telling the Union League Club in Philadelphia that the United States could no longer tolerate, ―the use of vast power conferred by vast wealth…in its corporate form, without lodging somewhere in the Government the still higher power of seeing that this power…is also used for and not against the interest of the people as a whole.‖47 While conservative newspapers were appalled by Roosevelt‘s insistence on additional regulation—some compared him to William Jennings Bryan—his message combined with public opinion helped pass an initial version of a regulatory bill—Esch–Townsend .48 The Esch–Townsend bill would have granted the ICC the power to fix rates at ―just and reasonable‖ levels on railroads engaged in interstate commerce which would be subject to review by a commerce court; the bill passed the House in February 1905 by a vote of 326–17.49 Unfortunately for Roosevelt, however, the bill immediately ran into staunch opposition in the Senate, led by fellow Republican Nelson Aldrich of Rhode Island.50 Aldrich led a sizable bloc of pro–railroad, anti– regulation senators that effectively killed Esch–Townsend. For Roosevelt, however, the loss of the

10 bill was only a minor setback. Roosevelt, in fact, did not like rate fixing and preferred to have the ICC set a rate ceiling instead.51 A new bill, co–authored to Roosevelt‘s standards by Senator John Dolliver and Representative William P. Hepburn, both of Iowa, was introduced in January, 1906.52 The new railroad bill, which would eventually become the Hepburn Act, was extremely invasive by the standards of 1906. Nevertheless, it still fit Roosevelt‘s general faith that the only thing a corporation needed in order to be a net benefit to society was basic oversight. Given this, the bill actually faced opposition from two directions. Senator Aldrich and the conservative bloc, though hardly supportive of federal oversight, demanded broad court review of any ICC decisions, a predictable position.53 On the other hand, there was Senator Robert M. La Follette of Wisconsin. La Follette was sworn into the Senate around the same time the Hepburn bill was introduced; he demanded that Roosevelt follow the more progressive, and coincidentally more punitive, measures that he had pushed for as Governor of Wisconsin.54 La Follette, indeed, took issue with Roosevelt‘s entire understanding of monopoly and antitrust law.55 To him, the Northern Securities method of antitrust enforcement represented a desired norm, not an exception. Roosevelt now found himself in the unhappy position of trying to bridge two rival factions within his own party. After a risky maneuver to bypass Aldrich and pass the railroad bill through the Senate Democrats collapsed in failure, Roosevelt was forced to approach Senator William B. Allison of Iowa to author a compromise amendment allowing broad judicial oversight of ICC rate decisions.56 On May 18, 1906, the bill passed the Senate by a vote of 71–3; Roosevelt signed the Hepburn Act into law that June.57 While Roosevelt stated that he believed the Act, ―tends toward carrying out the principles I have been preaching,‖ others were not so certain. Senator Albert J. Beveridge of Indiana worried that the issue of judicial review was left so vague that the, ―‗railroad‘ senators won out in the fight for broad review;‖ Senator John C. Spooner, a leader of the

11 conservatives and ally of Aldrich agreed.58 Eventually though, in 1910, the Supreme Court rendered such debate moot by siding with the advocates of narrow review. The Hepburn Act was ultimately the signal domestic achievement of Roosevelt‘s presidency. Roosevelt seized the policy initiative by paying close attention to public opinion and was able to shape the foundations of American economic regulation to his satisfaction.59 At the same time he was fretting over judicial review, Senator Beveridge wrote that, ―if it had not been for Theodore Roosevelt, there would not have been any railroad legislation of any kind.‖60 Roosevelt‘s reformist roots and progressive impulses left a policy legacy which had he simply embraced the role of elder statesman, would still have made him a seminal figure in 20th century history. As a private citizen, however, Roosevelt was freed from the ideological constraints of Republican Party and from the necessity of moderating his ideas in order to work with Congress. Subsequent political development and Roosevelt‘s evolving progressive stance moreover ensured that he would play still an even greater role in the creation of the modern presidency, even if ultimately within the paradigm of his exceptionalist economic views. As the election of 1908 approached and Roosevelt‘s lame–duck status materialized, the question of who would run on the Republican ticket began to dominate Roosevelt‘s mind. Determined to uphold his pledge not to run, Roosevelt instead decided that he would hand pick a successor who could uphold and expand his policies.61 When Roosevelt settled on his friend and Secretary of War William Howard Taft, he sowed the seeds of his own return to public life. Though Taft had faithfully executed orders under Roosevelt, he was at heart much more conservative. As a lawyer, Taft valued the letter of the law and the constitutional restrictions of presidential authority.62 Roosevelt, who believed the president should be a ―steward of the people,‖ and therefore should respond to popular opinion, should have easily seen that Taft would be a disappointing successor.63

12 Roosevelt, however, remained outwardly confident in Taft‘s ability, saying ―he and I view public questions exactly alike.‖64 After Taft soundly defeated William Jennings Bryan in the general election and was inaugurated, Roosevelt actually chose to leave the country for an African safari so as not to be accused of unfairly strong–arming Taft.65 Unfortunately, the new president was left in the same compromising position that Roosevelt had been in during the fight over the Hepburn Act, and while Taft was a large man, even he could not straddle the emerging party split between the Old Guard of Senator Aldrich and Speaker Cannon and the insurgent progressives.66 One of those progressives, head of the Forrest Service Gifford Pinchot, began writing Roosevelt in early 1910, warning of Taft‘s willingness to side with the conservatives. Roosevelt and Pinchot had collaborated on conservation policy, a subject very close to the ex–president‘s heart, when Roosevelt was in office.67 Consequentially, Roosevelt held Pinchot‘s political opinions in high regard. Taft, according to Pinchot, was not acting out of, ―deliberate bad faith,‖ but rather had succumbed to, ―his surprising weakness and indecision;‖ unlike a progressive steward of the people, Taft followed the advice of the last person who talked to him, thereby ceding control of the party back to the Old Guard conservatives.68 With ominous prescience, Pinchot predicted that unless Taft turned ―squarely about,‖ there would be, ―a clear cut division between the administration and the reactionaries on the one side, and the progressives and the great mass of the people on the other.‖69 Only a week after receiving Pinchot‘s letter, Roosevelt was informed that Taft had dismissed Pinchot from the Forest Service over a dispute with the Secretary of the Interior Richard A. Ballinger.70 Pinchot‘s scathing letter combined with news that Taft had so callously dismissed one of his most trusted advisors deeply angered Roosevelt. Even more infuriating was that Pinchot had not lost his office fighting to implement any new measures, but rather for confronting Taft and Ballinger over plans to weaken conservation measures already in place. Roosevelt himself at that point resolved to return to the United States and end his self–imposed political exile.71 In this act, he was

13 supported by his friend Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts; ―there is a constantly growing thought of you,‖ Lodge wrote, ―and your return to the Presidency.‖72 Roosevelt delayed his return, however, in order to make a grand tour of European capitals. Indeed, the trip proved valuable to Roosevelt‘s subsequent attempts to reshape the Republican Party; he delivered five major addresses while in Europe and the intellectual stimulation encouraged him to think seriously about bringing a more thorough form of social democracy back to the United States than any of his progressive impulses as president would have led him to support.73 Roosevelt displayed proof of such development during a speech in Paris at the Sorbonne in April, 1910. There, Roosevelt fired a full salvo against the idea that property rights could trump human rights. Roosevelt argued that, in the long run, property and human rights are indistinguishable; ―but,‖ he said, ―when it clearly appears that there is a real conflict between them, human rights must have the upper hand, for property belongs to man and not man to property.‖74 Four months after his address at the Sorbonne, Roosevelt prepared to give another speech, intent on bringing the United States into what he called the, ―world movement of civilization.‖75 This speech, given in Osawatomie, Kansas, took place at the dedication of the John Brown battlefield, which commemorated the radical abolitionist‘s struggle to keep slavery out of what was then called ―Bloody Kansas.‖76 Roosevelt used the first few paragraphs of the speech to honor both John Brown and the Union Army veterans in attendance, but rapidly launched into outlining his vision of a political philosophy to guide the future of the nation. ―The true conservative,‖ said Roosevelt, echoing his speech at the Sorbonne, ―is he who insists that property shall be the servant and not the master of the commonwealth; who insists that the creature of man‘s making shall be the servant and not the master of the man who made it.‖77 Roosevelt, however, did not simply push for the adoption of a new relationship between human and property rights; he put forth an entirely progressive legislative agenda as well. The New

14 Nationalism called for Congress, ―to prohibit the use of corporate funds directly or indirectly for political purposes,‖ as well as supervision of the capitalization of all corporations involved in interstate commerce. Domestically, Roosevelt also called for business executives to be held liable for illegal corporate actions, tariff revision by an expert commission, a graduated wealth and estate tax, a national workman‘s compensation act, a child labor law, and the expansion of vocational training.78 Such a complete political transformation immediately put Roosevelt back in competition for leadership of the progressive movement. Ultimately, the New Nationalism was the complete extension of the Square Deal conception of even handed justice for all to every aspect of national economic life; in Roosevelt‘s own words, the New Nationalism, ―regards the executive power as the steward of the public welfare. It demands of the judiciary that it…be interested primarily in human welfare…just as it demands that the representative body shall represent all the people rather than any one class.‖79 In many ways, Roosevelt was willing now to go far beyond the policies he considered appropriate as a sitting president. Yet despite a change which in many ways seemed radical, there was one key area where Roosevelt refused to budge from his previous position: trusts. His speech, indeed, contained a barely reworded version of the statement from the Republican Party Platform of 1904. In the New Nationalism, ―combinations in industry are the result of an imperative economic law which cannot be repealed by political legislation.‖80 Such a position had not harmed Roosevelt as president because the progressive movement had not yet become a cohesive political force. Now, however, Roosevelt would have to justify a seemingly pro–trust policy to a very skeptical movement without the benefits of incumbency. Foreshadowing events to come, Senator Robert La Follette and his advisor Louis D. Brandeis immediately condemned Roosevelt‘s stance on antitrust and regulatory issues.81

15 While Roosevelt was happy to return to politics, he was not yet sure if he wanted to run for office in 1912. In the wake of the New Nationalism speech, a number of people contacted Roosevelt about beginning a campaign, but Roosevelt demurred throughout most of 1911 citing the difficulty of denying Taft the nomination.82 Other progressives, however, were not so cautious. On June 17, 1911, La Follette announced his intention to challenge Taft.83 Of greater concern to Roosevelt though was that La Follette had been poaching Roosevelt‘s political allies for money and endorsements—for example, Gifford Pinchot and his brother Amos.84 As with Taft, however, Roosevelt should not have been surprised by La Follette‘s actions; in January 1911, La Follette and Brandeis had formed the National Progressive Republican League with the goal of elevating La Follette from the Senate to the White House—Roosevelt was one of the first who was asked to join.85 With La Follette‘s candidacy gaining traction though, Roosevelt began to look for an opportunity to enter the race. The opportunity to dethrone La Follette came sooner than Roosevelt could have hoped for. In January, 1912, La Follette addressed the annual banquet of the Periodical Publisher‘s Association in Philadelphia.86 Tired and under stress from the campaign and due to follow a speech by the eloquent hopeful for the Democratic nomination Woodrow Wilson, La Follette, in his own words, ―flunked the test‖ of his candidacy.87 La Follette‘s address was long and rambling and at points he diverted from his prepared text to attack journalists, hardly a good idea at a banquet of newspaper publishes. The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin reported that, ―respectful attention gave way at the end of an hour to confusion and at the end of two hours the confusion took on the proportions of an uproar…it was the consensus of opinion that the La Follette Presidential boom had received a mortal hurt.‖88 Roosevelt and his supporters could not pass up such an opportunity. The next month, the Republican governors of West Virginia, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Wyoming, Michigan, Kansas,

16 and Missouri sent Roosevelt a somewhat contrived public letter asking him to accept the 1912 Republican presidential nomination if offered.89 Roosevelt‘s response, published the following Monday, stated that the decision was not his to make, but rather the American people‘s.90 In his eagerness, however, Roosevelt did not even wait for his response to be printed before he happily proclaimed in a speech in Cleveland that, ―my hat is in the ring!‖ With Roosevelt‘s entrance into the race and the effective end of La Follette—many of his most important supporters save for Brandeis defected to TR—Taft was not only forced on the defensive, but was crowned leader of the reactionary Old Guard as well.91 A speech Roosevelt gave shortly before his announcement, however, gave Taft enough ammunition to mount a principled campaign, at least within the Republican Party itself. While in Columbus, Ohio, Roosevelt had come out in support of a plan to subject judicial decisions to popular recall.92 Many within the G.O.P. who might have supported Roosevelt for the sake of winning an election, despite his progressivism, considered Roosevelt‘s plan to be an outright attack on the Constitution and the American judiciary.93 Roosevelt even lost the support of his friend Henry Cabot Lodge, who, without Roosevelt, would not have been reelected to the Senate in 1910; Lodge wrote to Roosevelt that, ―I found myself confronted with the fact that I was opposed to your policies…with great force in regard to changes on our Constitution and principles of government…I knew…that you and I differed…but I had not realized that the differences were so wide.‖94 Taft also had ulterior motives for steadfastly opposing Roosevelt‘s attempt to take over the Republican Party. Indeed, Taft focused more on denying Roosevelt the nomination than on any plan for Republican victory in November.95 The contest between Roosevelt and Taft represented the starkest choice between progressivism and conservatism in the entire election. Taft and other Republicans realized that if Roosevelt succeeded in denying Taft the nomination, the American conservative establishment would take years to recover. Taft summed the argument up well in a

17 letter to New York Republican boss William Barnes, saying the great task before them was not to win in November, but rather, ―to retain the party and the principles of the party, so as to keep it in a condition of activity and discipline, a united force to strike when the blow will become effective for the retention of conservative government and conservative institutions.‖96 Ultimately, Taft was successful in denying Roosevelt the nomination at the Republican National Convention in Chicago, despite Roosevelt‘s stellar performance in the states with direct primaries. In the first of many repercussions Roosevelt would face stemming from his ideas on antitrust law and economic regulation, La Follette and his small but pivotal number of delegates refused to support Roosevelt‘s choice for temporary chairman of the convention.97 Roosevelt needed a sympathetic chairman in order to claim enough disputed delegates to clinch the nomination; the La Follette bloc, however, saw the contest between Roosevelt and La Follette for leadership of the progressive movement as the more important fight.98 Not even Roosevelt‘s candidate for chairman, Governor Francis E. McGovern of Wisconsin, could persuade La Follette to think differently. Consequently, Taft‘s candidate, Senator Elihu Root of New York, was elected temporary chairman by a vote of 558–501; had La Follette‘s thirty–nine delegates accepted the compromise, Root would have lost.99 La Follette himself believed that he had personally denied Roosevelt the nomination. He wrote that, ―if I had not had an ‗iron brigade‘ at Chicago…the Bull Moose would have had his way.‖100 Root, despite having served in Roosevelt‘s administration, was deeply opposed to Roosevelt‘s vision of constitutional reform and was therefore determined to crush Roosevelt‘s insurgency; Roosevelt delegates referred to Root‘s tactics as ―the steamroller.‖ 101 When Roosevelt delegates responded to a roll call vote with ―present but not voting‖ in protest of Root‘s actions, Root simply called on alternate delegates to cast a vote, even if they happened to be Taft supporters.102

18 The progressive machine that Roosevelt had built could not be killed by parliamentary procedure though. No sooner was Taft nominated than the majority of Roosevelt‘s delegates staged a walk–out of the convention and marched to Orchestra Hall where they vowed to support Roosevelt for an independent, third party nomination.103 Roosevelt himself, however, needed to be sure he would have proper organizational support—that is campaign funds. Fortunately for Roosevelt, his friend George W. Perkins, who had worked with Roosevelt during the anthracite coal strike and lobbied on behalf of Roosevelt‘s Bureau of Corporations, as well as publisher Frank Munsey, both pledged their fortunes to the cause.104 Perkins and Roosevelt shared similar views on economic regulation and national administration. Unfortunately for progressive unity though, Perkins was still tainted by his association to J.P. Morgan & Co, adding to the charge that Roosevelt was only progressive insofar as it didn‘t hurt his wealthy friends‘ businesses. While the budding Progressive Party planned to hold a full scale convention in order to officially nominate Roosevelt and draft a platform, the Democrats were holding their national convention in Baltimore that June. Of the four major candidates, Speaker of the House Champ Clark was favored to win and on one ballot received a raw majority of votes.105 The Democratic Party, however, required a two–thirds vote for nomination; many Democrats worried that if they nominated a party hack like Clark, they would alienate progressive voters, throwing away a chance to beat a divided Republican Party.106 Clark, moreover, had received his majority with votes from the Tammany Hall controlled New York delegation, prompting William Jennings Bryan, still a major powerbroker within the party, to declare war on Clark.107 Bryan eventually threw his support behind the first term progressive Governor of New Jersey, Woodrow Wilson, who became the Democratic nominee for president on the forty–sixth ballot.108 That the Democrats nominated a progressive—and one with a strong record at that—forced the Progressives to make sure their platform was sufficiently distinguishable from the Democrats‘.

19 The convention, which met in Chicago that August, nominated Theodore Roosevelt as its presidential candidate; reflecting Roosevelt‘s commitment to reform and social justice, his nomination was seconded by social worker Jane Addams.109 Parts of the platform drafting process went equally as well. Indeed, much of the platform eventually resembled Roosevelt‘s New Nationalism speech at Osawatomie. Among other things, the platform called for limitations on campaign spending, registration of lobbyists, ending injunctions against labor disputes, prohibition of child labor, a minimum wage, an eight hour work day, and national workers‘ compensation.110 An additional facet of the platform actually merits its own discussion, both for its foresight and merit. This plank called for, ―the protection of home life against the hazards of sickness, irregular employment and old age through the adoption of a system of social insurance adapted to American use.‖ Roosevelt himself was intimately involved in the drafting of this plank, having said in his ―Confession of Faith‖ that, ―It is abnormal for any industry to throw back upon the community the human wreckage due to its wear and tear, and the hazards of sickness, accident, invalidism, involuntary unemployment, and old age should be provided for through insurance.‖111 Roosevelt‘s position was unique—it at once showed both his respect and admiration for the progress made by other nations on issues of social and industrial justice as well as his commitment to enact reform in a distinctly American manner.112 Better examples of Roosevelt‘s commitment to an exceptional economy exist though. In this case, Roosevelt was directly inspired by the British National Insurance Act, which was passed in 1911, and the system of German social insurance; the adoption of this plan demonstrated that even if Roosevelt believed in some facets of America‘s exceptional economy, he did not believe the nation to exist within a policy vacuum.113 By calling for social insurance in 1912, not only did the Progressive Party anticipate a major later piece of American social policy, it gave reformers a concrete goal to strive for.

20 Unfortunately for the Progressives, the drafting of the business plank exposed a major rift within the party‘s ranks. While racial equality and Jim Crow were by far the most contentious issues discussed, the issue of antitrust law and the nature of corporate behavior was a close second. More seriously, the issue threatened to fracture the young party‘s leadership and divided even those who had served with Roosevelt in the White House.114 The conflict started over the composition of the plank itself, which was drafted by, among others Gifford and Amos Pinchot and revised by Judge Learned Hand and Herbert Croly; also given access to the process, however, was George W. Perkins.115 The Pinchot brothers both believed in the strict enforcement of the Sherman Act and wanted to see the platform condemn trusts. Amos Pinchot wrote to Roosevelt saying, ―in the old days it was the Crown against the people. Today it is the industrial oligarchy, the trusts, against the people.‖116 Gifford, for his part, believed that trusts were responsible for the rising cost of living. To him, antitrust law was a matter of, ―the eternal question of the people‘s bread.‖117 Perkins had been familiar with Roosevelt‘s opinion on business regulation since he had helped Roosevelt lobby Congress to create the Bureau of Corporations in 1903; he knew that not only were the Pinchots fighting a losing battle, but that Roosevelt might be inclined to take a stronger stand as well.118 Perkins drafted a plank which was even bolder in its endorsement of business combination and expansion than Roosevelt had been in either the 1904 Republican Party Platform or in his speech at Osawatomie. According Perkins, concentration of business was not just ―inevitable,‖ as Roosevelt had previously argued, it was ―necessary for national and international business efficiency.‖119 Roosevelt happily obliged his friend and patron. He intervened in the platform committee to remove language drafted by the Pinchots and ensure that Perkins‘ plank was chosen.120 Amos Pinchot accused the ―trust magnate‖ Perkins of having ―stolen‖ the plank. While those at the convention would manage to rally around their platform once it was complete, Louis D. Brandeis watched with dismay as Roosevelt and Perkins forced the Progressives

21 to compromise so dearly on such an important issue. Several days after the convention ended, on August 28, 1912, Brandeis went to Sea Girt, New Jersey to visit Woodrow Wilson.121 Brandeis knew that Wilson was already predisposed to support antitrust law and set out to give the governor tactical advice on where Roosevelt was the weakest; indeed, before his meeting with Wilson, Brandeis told a reporter that by breaking up trusts you regulated competition instead of the trusts themselves, thereby giving more freedom to smaller market players.122 Brandeis was evidently persuasive because Wilson framed the trust issue in this manner for the rest of the campaign to great effect.123 The repercussions Roosevelt‘s attitude on business, however, did not stop this time with antitrust policy. The same attitude that led him to settle the anthracite coal strike without any official recognition of the United Mine Workers allowed him to endorse a pitifully weak plank on unionization. The same Progressive Party which was so bold elsewhere meekly stated that, ―we favor the organization of workers…as a means of protecting their interests and promoting their progress.‖124 On the other hand, the Democratic Platform, under a commitment stemming from William Jennings Bryan‘s 1908 campaign, stated, ―there should be no abridgement of the right of the wage earners…to organize for the protection of wages and the improvement of labor conditions… such labor organizations and their members should not be regarded as illegal combinations in restraint of trade.‖125 Brandeis urged Wilson to contrast the Democratic defense of the right to organize with Roosevelt‘s acceptance and protection of trusts and monopoly in appeals to organized labor. It is no surprise that Wilson and the Democrats were endorsed by Samuel Gompers, the president of the American Federation of Labor.126 Roosevelt and the Progressive Party suffered further as moderates and antitrust progressives defected to the Democratic Party. In the November election, Wilson won a commanding victory in the Electoral College, with 435 electoral votes, along with 42 percent of the popular vote.127 Given, however, that his party had only existed for three

22 months at the time of the general election, Roosevelt did extremely well. The Progressive Party won five states and received 27 percent of the popular vote; not since the emergence of the Republican Party in the 1850‘s had a third party performed so well.128 Indeed, Roosevelt‘s third party record still stands a century later. Roosevelt‘s presidency and subsequent Progressive Party candidacy left a much more important legacy for the United States though. As president, Roosevelt embodied the modern concept of the strong executive. Unwilling to rely entirely on the congressional party organization, Roosevelt was an active participant in the legislative process. His involvement in the passage of the Hepburn Act, for instance, served as an example to future presidents on how to overcome the staunch resistance of a committed minority. Additionally, Roosevelt‘s theory of the president as a steward of the people has come to be widely accepted—insofar as opinion polls are the lifeblood of modern punditry. By bridging his reformist inclinations as president, however, to candidacy with an inherently modern platform, Roosevelt set the United States on the path to reconciling its politics with economy and with the living conditions of the average American. Roosevelt‘s presidency and progressive candidacy were the first serious challenge to the callous idea that economic expansion alone could cure all societal ills. Some of this change would begin immediately; at times Wilson governed more from the perspective of a New Nationalist than from his own New Freedom.129 Moreover, while Roosevelt did not overcome his exceptional view of industrial capitalism, many of the programs which he ran on in 1912, when finally implemented, would do just that. More than anything, however, Roosevelt demonstrated that the United States could not ignore ―the world movement of civilization.‖ He exposed the foolishness of thinking that the nation could exist in its own intellectual vacuum.


Lewis L. Gould, The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2011), 28. Ibid, 29. 3 Ibid, 32. 4 Ibid. 5 Ibid, 33. 6 Ibid. 7 Sidney M. Milkis, Theodore Roosevelt, the Progressive Party, and the Transformation of American Democracy, (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2009), 65. 8 Ibid, 66. 9 Ibid. 10 Lewis L. Gould, Grand Old Party: A History of the Republicans, (New York: Random House, 2003), 132. 11 Ibid. 12 Lewis L. Gould, Theodore Roosevelt, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 26. 13 Ibid 10; ibid, 23. 14 Gould, The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, 7. 15 Gould, Theodore Roosevelt, 30. 16 Gould, The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, 50 17 Ibid. 18 Ibid, 47. 19 Ibid. 20 Ibid. 21 Ibid. 22 Gould, Theodore Roosevelt, 30. 23 Ibid. 24 Ibid. 25 Gould, The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, 63. 26 Ibid. 27 Ibid. 28 Ibid, 64. 29 Ibid. 30 Ibid. 31 Ibid, 65. 32 Ibid. 33 Ibid. 34 Ibid, 66-67. 35 Ibid. 36 H.W. Brands, T.R.: The Last Romantic, (New York: BasicBooks, 1997), 462. 37 Ibid, 504. 38 ―Republican Party Platform of 1904,‖ The American Presidency Project, accessed May 5, 2012, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29631. 39 Gould, Grand Old Party, 149. 40 Gould, The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, 140. 41 Ibid, 139. 42 Ibid, 145. 43 Ibid. 44 Ibid, 146. 45 Ibid, 145. 46 Ibid, 146. 47 Ibid, 147. 48 Ibid. 49 Ibid.
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Ibid, 154. Ibid. 52 Ibid, 159. 53 Ibid. 54 Ibid, 150-52. 55 Ibid. 56 Ibid, 158. 57 Ibid, 159. 58 Ibid. 59 Ibid. 60 Ibid. 61 Gould, Theodore Roosevelt, 46. 62 Ibid. 63 Ibid. 64 Ibid, 47. 65 Ibid, 48. 66 Ibid, 49. 67 Milkis, Theodore Roosevelt, 29. 68 Ibid, 30. 69 Ibid. 70 Ibid. 71 Ibid. 72 Brands, T.R, 667. 73 Milkis, Theodore Roosevelt, 30. 74 Ibid, 32. 75 Ibid, 36-37. 76 Ibid, 38. 77 ―New Nationalism,‖ TeachingAmericanHistory.org, accessed May 5, 2012, http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=501. 78 Ibid. 79 Ibid. 80 Ibid. 81 Milkis, Theodore Roosevelt, 43 82 Ibid, 44. 83 Ibid, 45. 84 Ibid. 85 Brands, T.R, 685; Milkis, Theodore Roosevelt, 41-42. 86 Ibid, 51. 87 Ibid, 52. 88 Ibid. 89 Ibid, 53. 90 Ibid. 91 Ibid, 56. 92 Ibid, 55. 93 Ibid, 56. 94 Ibid. 95 Ibid, 108. 96 Ibid. 97 Ibid, 113-114. 98 Ibid. 99 Ibid.
50 51


Ibid. Ibid. 102 Ibid, 118. 103 Ibid, 119. 104 Ibid. 105 John Milton Cooper, Woodrow Wilson: A Biography, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009), 157. 106 Ibid. 107 Ibid. 108 Ibid, 158. 109 Milkis, Theodore Roosevelt, 154. 110 ―Progressive Party Platform of 1912,‖ TeachingAmericanHistory.org, accessed May 5, 2012, http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=607. 111 ―Confession of Faith,‖ TeachingAmericanHistory.org, accessed May 5, 2012, http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=613. 112 Milkis, Theodore Roosevelt, 156. 113 Daniel Rodges, Atlantic Crossing: Social Politics in a Progressive Age, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998), 251; Milkis, Theodore Roosevelt, 157-158. 114 Ibid, 178. 115 Ibid, 177. 116 Ibid, 178. 117 Ibid. 118 Ibid. 119 ―Progressive Party Platform of 1912.‖ 120 Milkis, Theodore Roosevelt, 179-180. 121 Cooper, Woodrow Wilson, 162. 122 Ibid, 163. 123 Ibid. 124 ―Progressive Party Platform of 1912.‖ 125 ―Democratic Party Platform of 1912,‖ The American Presidency Project, accessed May 5, 2012, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29590. 126 Milkis, Theodore Roosevelt, 202. 127 Ibid, 253. 128 Ibid.
100 101

Ibid, 271.


Brands, H.W., T.R.: The Last Romantic, (New York: BasicBooks, 1997). Cooper, John Milton, Woodrow Wilson: A Biography, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009). Gould, Lewis L., Grand Old Party: A History of the Republicans, (New York: Random House, 2003). Gould, Lewis L., The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2011). Gould, Lewis L., Theodore Roosevelt, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012). Milkis, Sidney M., Theodore Roosevelt, the Progressive Party, and the Transformation of American Democracy, (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2009). Rodges, Daniel, Atlantic Crossing: Social Politics in a Progressive Age, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998). TeachingAmericanHistory.org, ―Confession of Faith,‖ accessed May 5, 2012, http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=613. TeachingAmericanHistory.org, ―New Nationalism,‖ accessed May 5, 2012, http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=501. TeachingAmericanHistory.org, ―Progressive Party Platform of 1912,‖ accessed May 5, 2012, http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=607. The American Presidency Project, ―Democratic Party Platform of 1912,‖ accessed May 5, 2012, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29590. The American Presidency Project, ―Republican Party Platform of 1904,‖ accessed May 5, 2012, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29631.

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