It’s definitely strange times. Here we are in the middle of the primary season and yet nothing is happening. No rallies, no debates, and no robo calls (OK, that last one is a good thing). But in 1912 the situation was very different.
In 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt had decided not to run for another term and turned over leadership of the Republican Party to William Howard Taft who won election as president. However, in 1912 Roosevelt was back, challenging Taft in the primaries for the Republican nomination. It’s rare for anyone to challenge an incumbent for his party’s nomination so the political climate that spring was raucous.
In May, Roosevelt launched a “whistlestop” campaign, travelling the country by train and speaking from the rear platform to crowds along the route. On May 4, Roosevelt arrived in Westminster. Follow this Link to see an image of Roosevelt’s stop in New Windsor on his way to Westminster. He crossed the street from the railroad station to the office of the American Sentinel newspaper. There a crowd of 1,500 had gathered to greet him. He spoke for only a few minutes before boarding the train and continuing his journey to Baltimore, and, unfortunately, no one made a record of his remarks.
Marylanders chose Roosevelt over Taft in the primary but Taft won the nomination at the party’s convention in Chicago. Not being someone who gave up easily, Roosevelt ran as the candidate of the Progressive Party. The party is more commonly called the “Bull Moose” party because of its symbol.
In the general election, Taft and Roosevelt split the Republican vote helping Democrat Woodrow Wilson to win the presidency.