After the Progressive Republican convention, a newspaperman asked Theodore Roosevelt how he felt returning to politics. TR replied that he was as strong as a Bull Moose. That animal became the symbol of his third party. With the Republicans badly split, the voters almost hand delivered the victory for Woodrow Wilson. Here is a quick summary:
This was the first time that the incumbent nominee played almost no part in the election. William Howard Taft, a 300 pounder with a walrus mustache, had a legal not a political mind. He carried just two states-Vermont and Utah with a total of eight electoral votes. This was the worst showing of an incumbent one term President ever.
Theodore Roosevelt ran a rip snorting campaign, placing himself ideologically between Taft and Wilson. In early October, there was an attempt on his life in Milwaukee, WI. John M. Schrank, a German immigrant bartender, shot TR during a campaign speech. Sparing the details, the bullet hit his rib cage but did not effect, at least in a short time span, any vital organs. In a dramatic and foolish display of courage, the Former President insisted on delivering his speech before going to the hospital. At the hospital, doctors treated the wound but decided not to remove the bullet. Roosevelt recovered completely. The authorities ruled Schrank insane and committed him to a hospital.
Theodore Roosevelt, the renegade Republican won six states with 88 electoral votes-Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Michigan, South Dakota, California, and Washington.
Woodrow Wilson carried 40 states with 435 electoral votes, the most in both numbers to date; yet he had only 40% of the popular vote, among the lowest ever. Wilson with his New Freedom agenda proceeded to the White House.
William Howard Taft remained somewhat in politics but mainly worked in his law firm. He supported for President Charles Evans Hughes in 1916 and Warren Harding four years later. In 1921 Harding nominated him for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Easily confirmed, WHT served until 1930. He resigned a month before his death. Taft often said in his years on the bench that he did not even remember being President.
Theodore Roosevelt remained very active Republican politics and was a constant critic of President Wilson. As stated, the Republicans in 1916 nominated Charles Evans Hughes for President in Chicago. The Progressive Republicans, also in Chicago, gave Theodore Roosevelt another chance at the Presidency. However, Roosevelt was unwilling to split the party again and supported Hughes.
After the outbreak of World War I, Roosevelt met with President Wilson asking authority to raise and head volunteers for the war effort. Wilson refused widening the breach between the two. By 1920, resentment of the Republicans over the 1912 split, which TR caused, had disappeared. The GOP wanted him for the President nomination that year. Roosevelt died in October 1919.
Woodrow Wilson, to me, became the most puzzling of our Presidents. More later