His handpicked successor and close friend, William Howard Taft, was a reluctant politician whose sole ambition was to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Amiable and easygoing, Taft was the very opposite of the restless Roosevelt. After Taft failed to carry forward his predecessor's reformist policies, an embittered Roosevelt decided to challenge Taft for the party's nomination. Thwarted by a convention controlled by Taft, Roosevelt abandoned the GOP and ran in the general election as the candidate of a third party of his own creation, the Bull Moose Progressives.
Woodrow Wilson, the former president of Princeton University, astonished everyone by seizing the Democratic nomination from the party bosses who had made him New Jersey's governor. A noted political theorist, he was a relative newcomer to the practice of governing, torn between his fear of radical reform and his belief in limited government.
The fourth candidate, labor leader Eugene V. Debs, had run for president on the Socialist ticket twice before. A fervent warrior in the cause of economic justice for the laboring class, he was a force to be reckoned with in the great debate over how to mitigate the excesses of industrial capitalism that was at the heart of the 1912 election.
Chace recounts all the excitement and pathos of a singular moment in American history: the crucial primaries, the Republicans' bitter nominating convention that forever split the party, Wilson's stunning victory on the forty-sixth ballot at the Democratic convention, Roosevelt's spectacular coast-to-coast whistle-stop electioneering, Taft's stubborn refusal to fight back against his former mentor, Debs's electrifying campaign appearances, and Wilson's "accidental election" by less than a majority of the popular vote.
Had Roosevelt received the Republican nomination, he almost surely would have been elected president once again and the Republicans would likely have become a party of reform. Instead, the GOP passed into the hands of a conservative ascendancy that reached its fullness with Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, and the party remains to this day riven by the struggle between reform and reaction, isolationism and internationalism.
The 1912 presidential contest was the first since the days of Jefferson and Hamilton in which the great question of America's exceptional destiny was debated. 1912 changed America.
Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt
Mornings on Horseback is the brilliant biography of the young Theodore Roosevelt. Hailed as "a masterpiece" (John A. Gable, Newsday), it is the winner of the Los Angeles Times 1981 Book Prize for Biography and the National Book Award for Biography. Written by David McCullough, the author of Truman, this is the story of a remarkable little boy, seriously handicapped by recurrent and almost fatal asthma attacks, and his struggle to manhood: an amazing metamorphosis seen in the context of the very uncommon household in which he was raised. The father is the first Theodore Roosevelt, a figure of unbounded energy, enormously attractive and selfless, a god in the eyes of his small, frail namesake. The mother, Mittie Bulloch Roosevelt, is a Southerner and a celebrated beauty, but also considerably more, which the book makes clear as never before. There are sisters Anna and Corinne, brother Elliott (who becomes the father of Eleanor Roosevelt), and the lovely, tragic Alice Lee, TR's first love. All are brought to life to make "a beautifully told story, filled with fresh detail", wrote The New York Times Book Review. A book to be read on many levels, it is at once an enthralling story, a brilliant social history and a work of important scholarship which does away with several old myths and breaks entirely new ground. It is a book about life intensely lived, about family love and loyalty, about grief and courage, about "blessed" mornings on horseback beneath the wide blue skies of the Badlands.
The Lion's Pride: Theodore Roosevelt and His Family in Peace and War
(Edward J. Renehan
In The Lion's Pride, Edward J. Renehan, Jr. vividly portrays the grand idealism, heroic bravery, and reckless abandon that Theodore Roosevelt both embodied and bequeathed to his children and the tragic fulfillment of that legacy on the battlefields of World War I. Drawing upon a wealth of previously unavailable materials, including letters and unpublished memoirs, The Lion's Pride takes us inside what is surely the most extraordinary family ever to occupy the White House. Theodore Roosevelt believed deeply that those who had been blessed with wealth, influence, and education were duty bound to lead, even perhaps especially if it meant risking their lives to preserve the ideals of democratic civilization. Teddy put his principles, and his life, to the test in Spanish American war, and raised his children to believe they could do no less. When America finally entered the "European conflict" in 1917, all four of his sons eagerly enlisted and used their influence not to avoid the front lines but to get there as quickly as possible. Their heroism in France and the Middle East matched their father's at San Juan Hill. All performed with selfless some said heedless courage: Two of the boys, Archie and Ted, Jr., were seriously wounded, and Quentin, the youngest, was killed in a dogfight with seven German planes. Thus, the war that Teddy had lobbied for so furiously brought home a grief that broke his heart. He was buried a few months after his youngest child. Filled with the voices of the entire Roosevelt family, The Lion's Pride gives us the most intimate and moving portrait ever published of the fierce bond between Teddy Roosevelt and his remarkable children.
The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt
Described by the Chicago Tribune as "a classic," The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt stands as one of the greatest biographies of our time. The publication of The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt on September 14th, 2001 marks the 100th anniversary of Theodore Roosevelt becoming president.
Theodore Roosevelt, the U.S. Navy, and the Spanish-American War
(Edward J. Marolda)
Theodore Roosevelt led the charge in the 1890s for the creation of a US fleet of modern, steel-hulled, heavily-armed warships. The future President and his intellectual soul mate, Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, championed the theory of sea power to fuel America's emerging global expansion. The US victory in the Spanish-American War of 1898 vindicated these views. These essays chart the role of Roosevelt and the war in the origins of US sea power.