1912: Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft and Debs--The Election that Changed the Country

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1912: Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft and Debs--The Election that Changed the Country

Author: James Chace
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Copyright: 2004
Pages: 336
Cover Price: $ 16.00

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Beginning with former president Theodore Roosevelt's return in 1910 from his African safari, Chace brilliantly unfolds a dazzling political circus that featured four extraordinary candidates. When Roosevelt failed to defeat his chosen successor, William Howard Taft, for the Republican nomination, he ran as a radical reformer on the Bull Moose ticket. Meanwhile, Woodrow Wilson, the ex-president of Princeton, astonished everyone by seizing the Democratic nomination from the bosses who had made him New Jersey's governor. Most revealing of the reformist spirit sweeping the land was the charismatic socialist Eugene Debs, who polled an unprecedented one million votes.

Wilson's "accidental" election had lasting impact on America and the world. The broken friendship between Taft and TR inflicted wounds on the Republican Party that have never healed, and the party passed into the hands of a conservative ascendancy that reached its fullness under Reagan and George W. Bush. Wilson's victory imbued the Democratic Party with a progressive idealism later incarnated in FDR, Truman, and LBJ. 1912 changed America.

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Background Information

Theodore Roosevelt was a progressive political leader, conservationist, war hero and adventurer. William Howard Taft became president after Theodore Roosevelt but later became what he had really wanted to be, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Eugene Victor Debs ran many times on the Socialist Party ticket for president of the United States, once while imprisoned for his opposition to World War I. Woodrow Wilson won the election of 1912 as a Democrat when Teddy Roosevelt split the Republican vote by forming the Bull Moose Party.