Parades, Protests and Politics

1912: A Party Splits

Theodore Roosevelt addressing an audience at the Congress Hotel upon his arrival in Chicago for the Republican Convention in 1912.

Theodore Roosevelt arriving at Union Station in 1913. (CHS, DN 60,709)

At the 1912 Republican National Convention, catcalls and heckling replaced the traditional cheers and patriotic speeches of the convention for the first time. A power struggle between former president Theodore Roosevelt and the incumbent, William Howard Taft, divided the party, ultimately handing victory in the general election to Democratic candidate Woodrow Wilson.

The conflict began during the preferential primaries, in widespread use for the first time. Roosevelt had won most of these contests by a wide margin, but Taft retained control of the Republican National Committee. In an attempt to exercise the strength provided by the primary vote, Roosevelt's supporters challenged the legitimacy of 248 delegates bound to Taft and tried to overthrow the national committee's selection for temporary chair, Elihu Root.

The national committee supported Taft, however, ruling in his favor over cries of "Theft!" and "Choo! Choo! Choo!" from Roosevelt delegates protesting these "steamroller" tactics. Foreseeing defeat, Roosevelt instructed his supporters to abstain from voting and to organize to nominate him on the Progressive Party ticket after the convention.

Al Capone
Black Sox
Century of Progress
Chicago Fire
World's Columbian Expo
Parades, Protest and Politics
Parades, Protests and Politics Photo Gallery
Parades, Protests and Politics Artifacts
Parades, Protests and Politics Bibliography
The Pullman Era
The Stockyards
Fort Dearborn

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