Theodore Roosevelt was riding high as the election of 1904 approached.
He had secured the Panama Canal (by helping create the nation of Panama). His only rival for the presidential nomination in 1904 was a sickly Senator. The American people loved his antics, even while establishment politicians feared he was too dangerous a lunatic to be running the country. American children, even though they couldn't vote, pestered their parents to get them a Teddy Bear, created after the President refused to shoot a wounded bear on a hunt in Mississippi.
He only had to convince the establishment Republicans he was safe. He sent Elihu Root, the most establishment Republican in the country, to get the message out. Objections to his candidacy slowly disappeared.
The Democrats nominated Judge Alton B. Parker, a gray, taciturn fellow, to run against him. On the surface, it appeared like the Judge had no chance, but Teddy knew that safe and boring was the only thing that could beat him.
Fortunately, the Democrats made a number of mistakes in the campaign. Their nominee stayed on the sidelines, and when he finally came out to fight, the only arrow in his quiver was a conspiracy theory for which he had no proof.
Theodore Roosevelt was elected in a landslide.
All he had to do now was not put his foot in his mouth in any big way.
On Election Night, without consulting anyone, he made the following statement to the press:
“On the fourth of March next I shall have served three and a half years, and this three and a half years constitutes my first term. The wise custom that limits the President to two terms regards the substance and not the form. Under no circumstances will I be a candidate for or accept another nomination.”
Well, Mr. President, I sure hope that isn’t a statement you’ll regret someday. And I REALLY hope it doesn’t cause you to do something dangerous and self-destructive in the next few years.
Have a listen to the History's Trainwrecks Podcast at the links or embedded players below:
On our next episode, we enter the regretful phase of Theodore Roosevelt’s political life as he sits out the election of 1908, grows disenchanted with his appointed presidential successor, and storms the election of 1912 like a bull moose.
Stay tuned for Teddy Roosevelt’s Third Term, Part IV.
Like the show? Subscribe to the podcast and like or follow our Facebook page for more historical trainwrecks and their adventures.
Britannica.com “Free Silver Movement.” Retrieved August 4, 2021 from https://www.britannica.com/event/Free-Silver-Movement
Morris, Edmund. “Theodore Rex.” Simon & Schuster, 2006.
Roosevelt, Theodore. “Autobiography of Theodore Roosevelt.”
Wikipedia, “Alton B. Parker.” Retrieved August 3, 2021 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alton_B._Parker#Presidential_nomination
Wikipedia, “Teddy Bear.” Retrieved August 3, 2021 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teddy_bear
Post a Comment
Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.