Taft and Roosevelt and the Election of 1912.

Apr 2014
203
Earth
I think it is clear that Taft did not like being President that much. It wasn’t who he was and I think (correct me if I am wrong) that his wife sort of pushed Taft into running for the office. Being President even at that time and even since the early days of the Republic involved a lot of pressures and ridicule. Taft didn’t like the job. Taft wanted to be a Supreme Court Justice. This is the job he wanted and eventually got, was an excellent jurist, who became the Chief Justice of the Court.

Teddy Roosevelt LOVED being President. TR stepped down in 1909 and did this and that, shot animals in Africa and did other manly things. He missed the office and wanted back badly. Supposedly TR was going to run in 1920 but he died in 1919. But he really wanted back in the White House.

So why couldn’t Taft go to TR and say “Hey, I don’t like being President, if I step aside, make me a Supreme Court Justice, the job I really want. You want to be President, you can have it!” Taft was a President if the United States which is an honor in and of itself even if you didn’t like the job or we’re good at it. I think Taft was an honest and decent guy, he just hated the job.

So why wasn’t this arrangement made and TR become the Republican nominee? My history teacher said that TR would have won if Taft stepped aside. The national vote would have shown this if Taft’s votes were added to TR’s total but they would have still have lost to Wilson in the Electoral College unless TR could have flipped some states. How many people who voted for Wilson would have voted for TR only?

Was it just pride? I think TR was somewhat a dick and wanted back and out of pride and animosity Taft stayed out of spite so TR couldn’t win. But again why? Were there any Supreme Coiet vacancies in Taft’s term? Could he have possibly nominated himself to the job and left the Presidency to his Vice President?

Seems strange for someone who was so wealthy as Taft to run for an office he has he doesn’t like or want to a guy of his party who wants the job badly. Where was the fall out between the two men? These guys were close friends but there was a falling out. Again. Why? Was TR a jerk? Taft must have thought so or he would not have run?

So why didn’t Taft just quit and let TR take over and hope for a Supreme Court vacancy?
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,479
Dispargum
One reason might be that all leaders depend on various aides, staffers, a cabinet, etc and these people were not willing to relinquish power. To retain the loyalty of his supporters, sometimes a leader has to do things he doesn't like.
 
Jun 2017
2,971
Connecticut
I think it is clear that Taft did not like being President that much. It wasn’t who he was and I think (correct me if I am wrong) that his wife sort of pushed Taft into running for the office. Being President even at that time and even since the early days of the Republic involved a lot of pressures and ridicule. Taft didn’t like the job. Taft wanted to be a Supreme Court Justice. This is the job he wanted and eventually got, was an excellent jurist, who became the Chief Justice of the Court.

Teddy Roosevelt LOVED being President. TR stepped down in 1909 and did this and that, shot animals in Africa and did other manly things. He missed the office and wanted back badly. Supposedly TR was going to run in 1920 but he died in 1919. But he really wanted back in the White House.

So why couldn’t Taft go to TR and say “Hey, I don’t like being President, if I step aside, make me a Supreme Court Justice, the job I really want. You want to be President, you can have it!” Taft was a President if the United States which is an honor in and of itself even if you didn’t like the job or we’re good at it. I think Taft was an honest and decent guy, he just hated the job.

So why wasn’t this arrangement made and TR become the Republican nominee? My history teacher said that TR would have won if Taft stepped aside. The national vote would have shown this if Taft’s votes were added to TR’s total but they would have still have lost to Wilson in the Electoral College unless TR could have flipped some states. How many people who voted for Wilson would have voted for TR only?

Was it just pride? I think TR was somewhat a dick and wanted back and out of pride and animosity Taft stayed out of spite so TR couldn’t win. But again why? Were there any Supreme Coiet vacancies in Taft’s term? Could he have possibly nominated himself to the job and left the Presidency to his Vice President?

Seems strange for someone who was so wealthy as Taft to run for an office he has he doesn’t like or want to a guy of his party who wants the job badly. Where was the fall out between the two men? These guys were close friends but there was a falling out. Again. Why? Was TR a jerk? Taft must have thought so or he would not have run?

So why didn’t Taft just quit and let TR take over and hope for a Supreme Court vacancy?
Well before a few decades ago the big split in American politics was within the party's themselves not between parties with both having opposing wings within them(and by opposing I don't mean one being more left or right of center but still left or right of the other party). Teddy Roosevelt was the leader of the Progressive Wing of the Party and he had become President because of McKinley's death. Many in the party were happy to be rid of him and did not want him back. Taft and TR also had a falling out, it's not like TR and Taft remained friends, this is why TR ran against Taft for the nomination. TR losing the nomination at the convention but clearly getting a majority of the would be Republican vote shows this divide between the party machinery and electorate. It's hard to imagine it being as simple as trading jobs but even if it was, Taft and TR were no longer good friends.

I think Taft was a horrible person his decisions as a jurist bother me morally. You are right it is basically a fact TR(or Taft) would have beaten Wilson, Wilson performed worse than Bryan in the popular vote but the split allowed him to win the electoral vote in most states. Then again TR was the one that came in and not only swung the race but ensured Taft was the worst performing major candidate in US Presidential election history a major party candidate with the numbers of a third party candidate.
 

nuclearguy165

Ad Honorem
Nov 2011
4,781
Ohio, USA
Well before a few decades ago the big split in American politics was within the party's themselves not between parties with both having opposing wings within them(and by opposing I don't mean one being more left or right of center but still left or right of the other party). Teddy Roosevelt was the leader of the Progressive Wing of the Party and he had become President because of McKinley's death. Many in the party were happy to be rid of him and did not want him back. Taft and TR also had a falling out, it's not like TR and Taft remained friends, this is why TR ran against Taft for the nomination. TR losing the nomination at the convention but clearly getting a majority of the would be Republican vote shows this divide between the party machinery and electorate. It's hard to imagine it being as simple as trading jobs but even if it was, Taft and TR were no longer good friends.

I think Taft was a horrible person his decisions as a jurist bother me morally. You are right it is basically a fact TR(or Taft) would have beaten Wilson, Wilson performed worse than Bryan in the popular vote but the split allowed him to win the electoral vote in most states. Then again TR was the one that came in and not only swung the race but ensured Taft was the worst performing major candidate in US Presidential election history a major party candidate with the numbers of a third party candidate.
I would also definitely side with TR here, but what decision of his as a juror bother you in particular? Was it arguing in favor of states' rights when the issue of child labor came up?
 
Jun 2017
2,971
Connecticut
I would also definitely side with TR here, but what decision of his as a juror bother you in particular? Was it arguing in favor of states' rights when the issue of child labor came up?
That is the highlight it is not the only decision I have a problem with. Not like SCOTUS was willing to let states regulate "the right to contract" all to much if at all.
 

Viperlord

Ad Honorem
Aug 2010
8,109
VA
Taft wrote that he was outright overjoyed when strikers were shot in the 1890s, so it's admittedly not really that hard to make a case that he wasn't actually a terribly pleasant human being, or at least serially unsympathetic to the interests of lower classes. He is somewhat the aggrieved party in his relationship with Roosevelt, inasmuch as Roosevelt handed the job to him, decided he didn't like how Taft was doing it, and turned on him, not just politically but personally. A lot of his anger at Taft dated from Taft firing Gifford Pinchot as head of Forestry, and while Pinchot was brilliant at the job, he had unquestionably been insubordinate and historians tend to agree Taft was right to sack him.
 
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Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
TR had become more progressive and Taft had become more conservative.over time. TR's New Nationalism implemented many of the policies of the New Deal, while Taft was was more in the control of business interest. Even Taft's Anti-Trust actions were motivated more to promote the business interest of Wall Street and the bankers than the interest of the public - a dozen smaller companies provided more opportunities to sell.stock, get commission s, and make loans than one giant company.

I believe TR would rather have seen a Democrat like Wilson get elected than have Taft continue his policies as president.
 
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Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
4,291
Caribbean
It's hard to imagine Taft was more tied to big banks and big business than the Roosevelts. The Bank of New York was founded by James Roosevelt in 1784. And when the Roosevelts merged (married) with the Delanos, there were railroad barons and Wall Street on both sides of the merger.
 
Dec 2011
280
So why wasn’t this arrangement made and TR become the Republican nominee? My history teacher said that TR would have won if Taft stepped aside. The national vote would have shown this if Taft’s votes were added to TR’s total but they would have still have lost to Wilson in the Electoral College unless TR could have flipped some states. How many people who voted for Wilson would have voted for TR only?

There is no reason to think that any Wilson voters would have switched to TR (or to Taft). Neither had any appeal to Democratic voters. If they disliked their candidate sufficiently they might abstain (as many did in 1904) but they would not vote for a Republican.

In fact it is unlikely that any Republican could have won, even in a straight fight. They had already been creamed in the 1910 midterms, ie even before TR bolted. And the division in the GOP was far too bitter for Taft voters to simply switch to TR, or vice versa. Huge numbers wuld have gone fishing. Even as it was, voter turnout was well down, 58.8% as against 65.4 in 1908. But for the enfranchisement of women in several states, the absolute number would also have been down. In a two-way race it would have dropped even more.