100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

Woodrow Wilson Elected US President

When Theodore Roosevelt left office in 1909 he selected William Howard Taft his Secretary of War to succeed him as President. Taft easily won the 1908 presidential election. Taft alienated Roosevelt when he used the Sherman Anti-Trust Act to break up US Steel, a trust Roosevelt approved of as a “good” trust. On the other hand, Taft let American Tobacco Company structure its own dissolution, a move Roosevelt saw as too lenient. Taft represents the conservative wing of the Republican party and has said Roosevelt is “the greatest menace to our institutions that we have had in a long time.” Roosevelt advocated the recall of judicial decisions through popular vote whereas Taft had held up the recognition of Arizona as a state until popular recall was taken out of the state constitution. To Taft, Roosevelt and his attempt at a 3rd term as president Roosevelt has made him a dangerous radical “because of his hold upon the less intelligent voters and the discontented” with policies that bordered on Socialism.

Roosevelt and Taft contested each other at the Republican National Convention in Chicago but Taft had the delegates all sewn up. Roosevelt saw this as a theft and started his own party, the Progressive Party.


The Democratic Party experienced much wrangling in choosing a presidential candidate at the national convention in Baltimore, Maryland in July 1912. They finally chose New Jersey governor Woodrow Wilson.


This is the first time a US presidential election saw 3 major candidates. There were also minor candidates such as Socialist Party nominee Eugene Debs who ran for president in 1900, 1904, 1908 as well as 1912. Roosevelt has been campaigning hard since the Democratic convention, traveling the country by rail and making speeches. When asked early on if his health were up to the task, Roosevelt replied “I’m as fit as a Bull Moose.” Political Pundits jumped on the and the Progressive Party was soon also known as “The Bull Moose Party”.


All the candidates traveled the country campaigning almost constantly. Each was affected by dramatic incidents. Roosevelt was shot by a would be assassin in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in October 1912.


Taft’s vice-president James Sherman who had been renominated for the post died in office barely a week before the election.


Democratic candidate Woodrow Wilson was injured in an auto mishap a few days before the election.


On November 5, 1912 US voters went to the polls with Arizona and New Mexico casting votes for the first time. The split in the Republican vote made it possible for Wilson to carry a number of states that had been reliably Republican for decades. 4 candidates each cleared 5% with the Socialist garnering more than a million votes. The split was evident by the popular vote where Taft carried no state, Roosevelt carried 1 and Wilson, a Southerner carried the 11 states of the former Confederacy. By electoral vote Taft carried 2 states, Roosevelt 6, and Wilson 40.

Woodrow Wilson was elected the 28th president of the United States. He is the first president elected who has earned a PhD.

US president elect Woodrow Wilson

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