Biography of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson Part 4 Election
About the United States President Woodrow Wilson, biography and history of his nomination and election.
PROFILES OF THE PRESIDENTS
Nomination: June 25, 1912...
As the Democratic convention began in Baltimore, the leading candidate for the nomination was James Beauchamp "Champ" Clark, the popular Speaker of the House, who--unlike Wilson--had won an impressive sting of primary victories. Clark had captured much of William Jennings Bryan's old agrarian constituency, but though he won a majority of the votes on several early ballots, Wilson combined with other minor candidates to prevent him from winning the necessary two thirds. When Bryan himself deserted Clark, a strong trend developed toward Wilson, and the former Princeton professor was finally nominated on the 46th ballot.
Election: Nov. 5, 1912...
Wilson's election was assured from the very beginning by the bitter split in Republican ranks. After an unsuccessful drive to take the Republican nomination away from President Taft, former President Theodore Roosevelt led progressives out of the convention in order to organize their own party. Under Roosevelt's leadership, the resulting Progressive, or "Bull Moose," party was the most powerful third party in the history of presidential elections.
In the public debate on key issues, Wilson assumed a middle ground between the conservative Taft and the radical platform of the Roosevelt Progressives. Under the influence of the crusading lawyer Louis D. Brandeis (later appointed by Wilson to the Supreme Court), Wilson developed a program known as the New Freedom, which was designed to end large business combinations and to return the U.S. to the old days of wide-open opportunity and free-enterprise capitalism. In taking his program to the public, Wilson loosened up considerably; he said that the highlight of the campaign for him was the moment when someone at the back of the crowd in a small town waved his arms at Wilson's train and shouted, "Hello, Woody!" On another occasion, as Wilson reached the climax of his speech and lashed out against the trusts, an unidentified citizen yelled, "Give it to 'em, Doc! You're all right."
Nevertheless, in the final tally Wilson actually polled fewer votes than did William Jennings Bryan in any of his three unsuccessful tries as the Democratic candidate, but because of the Republican split, Wilson's 6,301,254 was enough for victory. Third-party candidate Roosevelt finished second with 4,127,788, while incumbent William Howard Taft polled only 3,485,831. In the electoral college, Wilson won easily with 435 votes to 88 for Roosevelt and only 8 (the states of Utah and Vermont) for Taft.
In this already complicated election, a strong fourth party challenge was offered by the Socialists and their standard-bearer, Eugene V. Debs. Debs won nearly a million votes, or an impressive 6% of the national total.
First Term: Mar. 4, 1913...
On a cold and disagreeable day, Woodrow Wilson was sworn in by Chief Justice Edward Douglass White on the east portico of the Capitol. The Wilsons had insisted that there be no inaugural ball, and they retired to the White House for a quiet family evening before going to bed at "a reasonable hour."
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