Crimson Banners Fly: The Rise of the American Left

Part 5: Chapter XVIII - Page 110
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William J. Bryan Speaking to Supporters, c. 1912 - Source: Wiki Commons

In the wake of the Manhattan Scandal investigations and coinciding accusations that the president acted in an unlawful manner, Democratic Party leaders fretted over their future. As previously indicated, the bulk of the leadership discarded the notion of renominating Hearst once the midterm elections straightforwardly exhibited public disfavor with the administration. His brand was immeasurably toxic, and the only remote shot of retaining Democratic control over the Executive Branch as well as the U.S. Senate necessitated distancing the party from the president. A notable portion of the national committee alternatively preferred redirecting the public narrative in order to exonerate Hearst, likely calculating the pure strategic advantage of a re-election campaign, but they were an extreme minority.

Before Hearst's February announcement, a quiet civil war brewed within the Democratic ranks as its destiny appeared up for grabs. Without a doubt, the largest and most influential faction had been the Bryan Democrats. Pre-dating Hearst and his far more exaggerated and dubious form of populist agitation, the Bryanites were the first in the country to have run a successful, anti-corporate national campaign. They viewed Hearst with a skeptical eye from the start, and had no qualms with launching a challenge to the incumbent. Once stories began to break regarding the Hearst Campaign intimidating delegates at the 1908 Democratic National Convention, Bryan Democrats forever broke with the president. "We, the true enemies of private monopoly and the sinners on Wall Street," pro-Bryan Representative Cyrus Cline (D-IN) remarked in November of 1911, "know of only one man, honest and true, who can restore faith and promise to this land. William Jennings Bryan is the man this country needs."

Former President Bryan continuously prevailed as the nation's single most beloved and requested public speaker in the United States. Always a thorn in the side of corporate America, Bryan spoke out against the new crop of trusts emerging in the period between 1909 and 1912, and implored the people themselves demand federal intervention. He usually avoided criticizing Hearst, even amid the scandal, instead preserving his fiercest remarks for financial interests for sinking the anti-plutocratic Keliher Bill. More so, Bryan commended the Hearst Administration once it passed a reduction of the tariff in 1909, but in no other instance did the orator provide his two cents on the elected leader.

In a move that may have cost him more than originally intended, Bryan emerged in favor of temperance in 1909. He rallied against what he flavored, "the conscious-less, merciless liquor trust," and the "immoral" essence of alcohol consumption. Few Democrats had thus far dared to risk their political fates on affiliating with the overly righteous, prickly Prohibitionists, but Bryan found the issue essential to "purifying [an America] rife with violence and treachery." He evangelized it, joining with groups like the Christian socialists, champions of the Social Gospel, and remnants of the defunct Populist Party. Prohibition laws even began winning passage on the state level with players in the Anti-Saloon League gaining significant steam, especially in the South. Yet, Bryan's support of alcohol prohibition tarnished his reputation among industrial workers and immigrant populations which wholly opposed the proposed ban. As was true with his other policy stances, Bryan was never one to adopt politically expedient positions.

If he intended on seeking the presidential nomination, Bryan also faced one other monumental test, namely that progressivism was no longer limited to he alone. Democratic progressives effectively ran the national organization by 1912. The reorganizers of yore were long since removed from power, and even Southern Democratic conservatism had lost its edge to a company of Southern populists in the vein of Senators James Vardaman and Ben Tillman. Most prospective presidential candidates were indeed far more like William J. Bryan than Grover Cleveland. As described by historian John S. Gardner, "Internal strife over the direction of the post-Hearst Democratic Party threatened to drag them into the wilderness. Scuttling an unpopular incumbent was difficult enough on its own, but the rise of six separate popular candidacies over that year's course meant traversing an intersection with all roads possibly leading to dead-ends."

The above quote highlights the unique shape of the pre-convention turmoil endured by the Democrats. In the case of a typical contested nomination, one or two prominent officials declare an interest in the presidency and, thereafter, fight for the title while a group of minor and/or favorite son candidates fall to the wayside. In 1912, the brawl proved far more intense and was accompanied (just as in the case of the Republicans) by a string of hard-fought presidential primary elections. First, Representative Oscar Underwood, the notorious anti-Hearst House official, displayed the tell-tale signs of a national campaign. He began more publicly, virulently scrutinizing the president for consistent policy failures and blaming his shortcomings for spoiling what could have been a masterful reign by the party. Underwood quickly won over scores of Southern delegates and gained various pledges of support in that time.

Former Governor Judson Harmon did as Underwood had, organizing an apparent presidential campaign, and setting up state-wide operations for the clear purpose of wooing party delegates. He did eventually formally declare his intention to succeed Hearst, the first Democrat to do so, but had some trouble cultivating a base for his Cleveland-esque stances and sensibilities. Additionally, recently elected Governor Woodrow Wilson, who from his election was instantly considered as a plausible contender, followed the will of his supporters and announced a campaign for the White House in mid-February. Wilson acted the part of a trustworthy progressive in office, spurning state bosses and enacting anti-trust laws. Albeit a textbook dark horse candidate, the governor looked to emulate Cleveland's support in the northeast with social moderation and Hearst's on the West Coast with economic reformism. Wilson went on to carry several states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey, in the primaries.

Hearst declared his candidacy on February 28th, dramatically shuffling the race and sending all the active and prospective candidates' plans up into smoke. Quiet unrest in the upper echelon of the party rose to a frenzy. Hearst, likely amused by the disarray of the Democratic Party, unveiled an extraordinarily well-funded campaign operation, and confirmed the hiring of his entire 1908 staff. He promptly received the endorsements of Minority Leader William Sulzer, State Secretary and former Speaker John J. Lentz, Governor Lewis Chanler, Boss Charles Murphy, and promising New York State Assemblyman Alfred E. Smith. That aforementioned pro-Hearst minority in the national committee reawakened, feverishly calling upon the other active candidates to suspend their campaigns to better assist the president's re-election. The following morning, in what served as the next chain in a link of perceptively panicked events, Vice President Champ Clark furiously resigned from the administration and declared his wish to challenge Hearst. "Out of pure manic, or perhaps brilliance," wrote Gardner, "Clark undercuts the president along with any upward momentum. Whether by plan or coincidence, Bill Bryan publishes an announcement of his own the very same day. [...] The primaries are split, and no one walks away a clear favorite going into the convention."
 
Part 5: Chapter XVIII - Page 111 - 1912 DNC I
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Democratic National Convention of 1912 in Session - Source: Wiki Commons

On June 25th, a mere week after the Republican Party formally nominated Thomas Butler for president, leagues of Democratic delegates, officeholders, and supporters gathered at the Fifth Regiment Armory in Baltimore, Maryland. The time had finally arrived to let loose the steam that bubbled beneath the surface, and thereby allow for the party to designate its standard bearer. A dramatic airing of grievances was all but inevitable, and the divided national committee braced for the worst. The 21st Democratic National Convention had begun, and the fight was on.

President Hearst explicitly broke a long-standing tradition and opted to personally attend the convention. Incumbent presidents customarily permitted campaign managers to appear on their behalf, as party traditionalists found the presence of any active candidate during the convention inappropriate and unseemly. Hearst, never one to abide by political customs, balked at that notion and chose to visit the festivities regardless. Just as he accomplished four years earlier, the president knew that this action would award him prolific press coverage and a featured spot above the competition. Unlike in 1908, however, he was not alone in seeking this objective. Bryan and Clark also appeared in-person. Harmon, Underwood, and Wilson preferred to take the established route.

Each camp arrived to Baltimore set on accomplishing their specific agenda, not limited exclusively to nominating their favored candidate. For instance, Bryan contrived of a bigger picture beyond his potential presidential assignment. One of the Nebraskan's greatest struggles as president was constant negotiation with fellow Democrats. The Democratic Party of 1896 did not have a progressive majority, and as a result many of Bryan's proposals, like strict anti-trust regulation and federal assistance for farmers, remained unfulfilled. In 1912, his ideas were, in theory, wholly accepted by the party proper minus unpersuadable Southern conservatives and Northeastern Bourbons. Victory for Bryan involved not simply re-election but completing the transformation of the Democratic Party to unhesitatingly adopt a progressive program ready to pass through a (conjectural) Democratic-majority Congress.

On the opposing end of the spectrum, Hearst failed to outline any novel policy goals for a potential second term and merely upheld the crushed Civic Liability plan. As explored by biographers like John Gardner and Thomas Cohen, Hearst waged the war for re-election for the sheer purpose of embarrassing his foes and verifying his own political philosophy. "[Hearst] on the top of the ticket," Cohen wrote, "absolutely guaranteed an uphill battle in November. The controversies could not be easily scrubbed away. Empirically, this was a permanent stain. [...] Policy was not his purpose for leaping into the fray. Though his committed supporters relentlessly and passionately defended the cause of re-electing the president, Hearst was in it for Hearst." Despite the incumbency advantage, Hearst was unable to seat his ally, Representative George Lindsay (D-NY), as convention chairman and keynote speaker. The winner of that vote was anti-corruption advocate Governor John Burke of North Dakota.


Yes, it was certainly a contentious affair, but the Baltimore convention contained all the regular pomp and circumstance. Brass marching bands played Dixie down the aisle. Auditorium walls were plastered in Democratic symbolism and its ceiling adorned with the stars and stripes. Convention staff, fascinatingly enough, nailed down state standards to the floorboards to prevent them from being raised and paraded about. Hearst and Bryan being present did not disturb the atmosphere of the convention, it only served to excite the crowds further. John Burke delivered a rather inconsequential speech that did not take sides, but actually promoted harmony. He didn't disrupt the peace. That honor belonged to Bryan with his famous Sermon on the Mount moment.
Prof. Dominic Stratton, "Interview: Party Conventions Throughout History," The Cambridge Historical Journal, 1995

During the third day of the convention, just before the first ballot was cast, Bryan rushed to the podium and requested Chairman Burke to introduce a resolution to the floor. Burke agreed to the request. As the erstwhile president relayed, the convention ought to declare, unmistakably, its "opposition to any candidate for president who is a representative of, or under any obligation to, John Pierpont Morgan, Thomas F. Ryan, August Belmont, or any other member of the privilege-hunting and favor-seeking class." Over shouts of disapproval he continued, "Be it further resolved, that we demand the withdrawal from this convention of any delegate or delegates constituting or representing the above-named interests. [...] If thy right hand offends thee, cut it off! The party needs to cut off those corrupting influences to save itself." This proclamation, that was met with antipathy by the non-Bryan delegations and loud jeers by the New York delegates, was a thinly veiled assault on Wall Street and its ties to Tammany Hall. Transportation industrialist Thomas Ryan had been accused of bribing New York City officials for years, and such a bribing network could only have existed with the apt assistance of Boss Murphy. Hearst, knowing this was Bryan's method of enacting revenge, reportedly scowled all the while.

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At the conclusion of the initial ballot, Bryan just narrowly excelled over Hearst, 339-338. Clark rang in in third, with Underwood and Wilson sputtering behind. Bryan's figure was hardly enough to win out the fight, but in commanding a higher number of delegates in the first official roll call, he exemplified that Hearst, regardless of his stature as the incumbent president, did not hold the full allegiance of the Democratic Party. Observers accredited this count to Bryan's resolution, which served to remind the convention-goers of the calamity of Hearst's reign and the murky mysteries of the Manhattan Scandal. In the immediate aftermath of the call, the respective candidates' camps scrambled to win over the now uncommitted blocs of delegates. Boss Murphy, the leader of the New York delegates, worked meticulously behind the scenes to stop Bryan and promote Hearst. Simultaneously, Western Democrats condemned Hearst as an unelectable toxin and demanded Bryan be granted a shot at re-election.

The incongruent array of forces could not arrive at a reasonable accommodation as the day went on. A second ballot came and went, with similar results displaying six immovable delegations. Then, a third, and a fourth. By this point, nearly all minor candidates had dropped out and released their delegates, but the count again failed to change. President Hearst, according to Cohen, conveyed to Bryan a mediated settlement on the eve of June 27th. Via telegram, the incumbent "offered Bryan his choice of Secretary of State or Vice President. Knowing he would not be able to swing the stick, Hearst hoped to tempt Bryan with the carrot. Recall, he pulled a comparable stunt four years prior. It worked then, why should he expect anything different now?"
 
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Part 5: Chapter XVIII - Page 112 - 1912 DNC II
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Former President Bryan at the 1912 DNC - Source: Wiki Commons

Vice President Champ Clark entered the Democratic National Convention intent on bringing Hearst down. Once cordial associates, Hearst and Clark drifted apart as the former's presidency dragged on. Their disagreements on policy and strategy were profuse, and the two no longer seemed to get along person-to-person. As incompatible as the arrangement was, Champ acceded to the president out of respect for the office and recognition of his place as second-in-command. He eventually consigned himself to wait out the remainder of his term, planning afterward to support Hearst's eventual successor and run for a position of leadership in the House of Representatives. When Hearst did the unthinkable, however, and declared his ambition for a new term, Clark forcefully switched gears.

The Missourian's record was not quite spotless in terms of political connections and reported dealings, but he had no love for Hearst's ties with Tammany, his eye-rolling demagoguery, and oblivious disdain for Congress. A Hearst ‘Part Two’ epitomized an expansion of everything Clark despised in contemporary politics. It was in this mindset that the vice president formally handed in his resignation and departed Washington. He wished not to collaborate with Bryan out of fear that the former president would end up as paralyzed in office as he was in 1897. More so, Bryan was none too fond of Clark, privately coining the bureaucrat a servant of Wall Street and the Democratic Old Guard. All that remained was to declare a separate candidacy, and Clark did just that.

By mid-June, Clark won his fair share of presidential primaries and managed to cobble together a unyielding coalition of moderate Democrats, veteran party officials, and Midwestern leaders. He won the support of about half of the Californian delegation as well, appealing to them with folksy mannerisms and a guise of anti-corporate reformism. Still, a large swathe of the voting population not only perceived the Missourian as a stale career politician (1912 was Clark's 17th year in Washington), but viewed him as a tainted Hearst Cabinet official. If one was opposed to Hearst's re-election, in all likelihood one would too oppose this ill-suited substitute. Therefore, Clark understood the hurdles of his long-shot candidacy and planned for numerous potential outcomes.


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Chairman Burke had just completed the 9th roll call, one that again failed to appoint a nominee. Harmon had conceded by the 7th and released his delegates to "vote as they will," resulting in an equal spread. Now, another candidate announced their concession. Discovering lackluster support and a convention leaning to the top three candidates, Governor Woodrow Wilson dropped out of the race. Wilson's phoned-in memo was read aloud by his campaign manager, Democratic committee member and railroad engineer William Gibbs McAdoo. It stated that the governor's removal from the divided count would move the deadlocked convention closer toward a salvageable conclusion. It begged for peace, exclaiming that a united front was a prerequisite to defeat the Progressive and Republican nominees. He did not go as far as to endorse any one candidate, but, considering Wilson's delegates were all adverse to Hearst, this move strongly benefited Clark, Underwood, Bryan, and, the final candidate in the running, Indiana Governor Thomas Marshall.

When the next call pushed Clark closer to the top while Hearst and Bryan remained hopelessly stunted, the time had arrived for a choice to be made. Two members of the Hearst Camp, most feasibly Representatives Sulzer and Lindsay, visibly approached Bryan and implored him to act on the aforementioned negotiation. Bryan was seen thoughtfully listening to the men's words whilst uncharacteristically keeping his mouth shut when he had his attention split. An individual from the Clark camp scrambled to Bryan's side and breathlessly handed him a sealed letter. The former president opened the note, read it, turned to nod at the Clark associate, and slipped the letter deep into his suit-jacket pocket. The above occurred in the span of about ninety seconds.

Burke, after briefly consulting with a Bryan campaign worker, announced that a candidate would be speaking to the delegation prior to the next roll call. The anti-Bryan component of the crowd understandably groaned at the prospect of another bomb-throwing charade by the Great Commoner, but, alas, Burke had not referred at all to Bryan. Champ Clark was the individual who then rose and approached the podium. Up to this moment, Clark had yet to directly speak to the delegates, but as a top-3 competitor, none anticipated what would next take place.


My friends and colleagues, and all good Democrats. Clark clears his throat. The stage creaks as the crowd observes in silence. On this occasion we offer, in earnest, a promise to the American people of what we will do if sworn into power. Our promise is to judge wisely, act for progress, and stand tall as American patriots. In the days of Thomas Jefferson, the work of the Democratic Party accomplished a great deal to bind the nation. We did it by good teamwork. The Democratic Congress did its duty, the Democratic president did his duty. Today we will do the same. We will work together. He pauses and takes a breath. Therefore, I will no longer allow myself to be considered as a candidate for President of the United States. Audience reacts in shock. Some gasp, others leap to their feet. Speaking for myself, and for any of the delegation who may decide to join me, I shall support the nomination of Governor Thomas Marshall for President.
The crowd erupts in a frenzy. A tide of men dart toward the stage frantically yelling over one another. Pan to close-up on Hearst. Music swells as Hearst furrows his brow.
Dir. Walter Hill, W.R.H., Cannon Films, 1998

For Clark, endorsing Marshall was the final option available. First elected in 1908, the witty and mustachioed Hoosier generally identified with the progressive faction of the party, albeit shying away from associating with the Bryan or Hearst sects. He supported a pro-labor, anti-corruption agenda as governor, matter-of-factly opposing the more moderate Indiana Democratic Party leadership and its calls to govern conservatively. Marshall championed the core of Civic Liability on the state level and fought incessantly for the ratification of the 16th and 17th Amendments in addition to the legalization of a state-wide primary system. Having been a popular executive, the Indiana delegation placed Marshall's name in consideration for president despite the governor's absence at the convention and his absent campaign.

In order to secure the future of the party and finally rid it of its Hearst-shaped albatross, Clark made the decision to bow out and endorse the sole candidate left undirtied by intra-party bickering, factionalism, and the rottenness of D.C. One look at Hearst's slack-jawed face explained exactly how unforeseen this event had truly been. He was not especially angered by the ordeal, but more so slumped in disbelief. With their plan set in motion, Bryan took the cue from Clark. He too announced a stunning concession one ballot later, petitioning the delegates to cast their votes for Marshall. The momentum catapulted the Hoosier forward, outright collapsing Hearst's strategy for a terminally deadlocked convention and awarding the dark horse candidate the nomination.


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Chaos very briefly ensued in the latter part of the 13th ballot. Having been bested by the apparent scheme unleashed by Bryan and Clark working in tandem, a festering President Hearst stood amongst the noise and rabble of the venue, accompanied by roughly two-hundred of his minority delegation, and waltzed out of the Fifth Regiment Army. The incumbent did precisely as he had warned and, in most melodramatic fashion, permanently severed ties with the Democratic Party. The anti-Hearst section of the party cheered as the president strolled down the aisle. When the delegates followed, apart from a recorded fistfight and a notable incident with a thrown chair, far less of an uproar was raised than initially expected. Once the arena settled down, Chairman Burke announced that the final call was unanimous (by the remaining delegates), and Governor Marshall was the choice of the convention.

Somewhat surprised over the effectiveness of the plot, Marshall sent over his hastily written acceptance speech to the national committee and had it read to a mostly relieved audience. He went on to deliver the remarks personally to a crowd in Indianapolis. It swore to uphold a progressive program, deliver on the promises of the Democratic platform, and wipe clean the slate leftover by President Hearst. The speech itself was nothing particularly special, but the sheer fact that it encompassed the core of the Democratic message without being held back by the ingrained drawbacks of Hearst or Bryan led to the speech's reprinting in most mainstream publications. The nominee advised the convention to settle on a more conservative option to balance out the perceived progressive nature of the selection, and to this the convention designated the nemesis of the New York City leadership: Senator George B. McClellan, Jr.


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Part 5: Chapter XVIII - Page 113 - 1912 PNC
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Former President Roosevelt Speaking in the Chicago Convention Hall - Source: Wiki Commons

With the Democratic and Republican conventions formally wrapped up and their nominees ceremoniously decided, all that remained was for the Progressives to make their pick. The RNC and DNC each captured the attention of the country, especially the latter considering it revolved around President Hearst and his fight for the nomination, but neither event expressly appreciated the mood of the country in 1912. The Republicans latched squarely onto the Manhattan Scandal and chiefly focused on deriding the administration rather than offering an alternative vision for the United States. Democrats, largely distracted by factionalism and a deadlocked convention, chose neither Hearst's nor Bryan's interpretation of Democratic progressivism. It selected a wild-card and opted to begin from square-one as opposed to settling on either of the available former presidents with their respective bases. According to contemporaneous reporting and the slant of 1912-era editorials, much of America desired a return to stable familiarity whilst maintaining a progressive course. To this, just one candidate held all the cards.

Former President Theodore Roosevelt finally declared his decision in early March, and indeed chose to run once more for the presidency. Supporters clamored for the return of the Progressive standard bearer and wrote scores of letters addressed to the Rough Rider articulating that perspective. They considered his work unfinished and found Hearst's alleged corruption to blame for the lackluster election results four years ago. Furthermore, very few believed any of the alternative options could defeat the two predominant nominees. Butler had lined up a sea of high-dollar donations behind his campaign while Marshall gained swift support by powerful Democratic city managers and the Bryan machine. As rumors swirled of Hearst preparing to launch an independent bid for the White House, the Progressives knew that this fractured contest was their greatest shot at repeating their 1904 triumph.

Their Progressive leader concurred, and thereby treated his return to the political scene as a grandiose comeback much in the style of the late Grover Cleveland. Like Cleveland, Roosevelt was tossed from power in exchange for a divisive and economically untested replacement. Both retained an air of the presidency even in exile, and constantly absorbed the attention of the press. Coverage of ex-President Roosevelt was just as excessive, if not more so, than when he resided in Washington. As was not the case for Marshall and Butler, everyone knew of Theodore Roosevelt in 1912, and therefore he did not need to expend any energy defining himself on the national stage. As such, when the Progressive National Convention opened its doors in the Chicago Coliseum, it felt just as if the party was on the course of re-nominating an incumbent president rather than a former one.

On August 5th, thousands of delegates as well as political celebrities like Jane Addams and Samuel Gompers arrived to Chicago ready to begin the next chapter in American history. A defining feature of the Chicago PNC, one made apparent early on, was just how united this organization truly was. It was jarring, some reporters claimed, to witness a committee and a delegation completely undivided. This was the sole convention in 1912 that gave such an impression, and that benefited the Progressives immensely when it came to satisfying a stability-craved population. Walls were adorned with patriotic memorabilia and symbols, including American flags and picturesque depictions of Columbia (referencing their nickname), in addition to enormous portraits of Beveridge and Roosevelt overlooking the convention hall. It was quite clear who the nominee would be.

The finalized list of principles combined aspects of Roosevelt's New Nationalism, the Square Deal, and unaccomplished goals as listed in prior platforms. It applauded the eight-hour working day, emphasized the need for women's suffrage, and condemned the resurgence of industrial trusts. The Progressive platform also emphasized the achievements of the Roosevelt Administration as compared with the Democratic legacy, demonstrating the party's ability to provide significant results regardless of the status and makeup of Congress. Regarding foreign policy, the Progressives doubled-down on the need to expand the American sphere of influence abroad, grow overseas markets in developing nations and territories, aggressively stave off British interference in Cuba and French involvement in Latin America, and continue to foster amiable trade relations with Germany. That platform, the most left leaning of its three thus far, was unanimously supported by every last delegate.


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The first and only roll call was unanimous. Theodore Roosevelt would be it. He appeared in-person at the arena and delivered a forceful and compelling speech which won a thirty-minute standing ovation and a romping iteration of "Hail, Columbia."

In every wise struggle for human betterment one of the main objects, and often the only object, has been to achieve in large measure equality of opportunity. In the struggle for this great end, nations rise from barbarism to civilization, and through its people press forward from one stage of enlightenment to the next. One of the chief factors in progress is the destruction of special privilege. The essence of any struggle for healthy liberty has always been, and must always be, to take from some one man or class of men the right to enjoy power, or wealth, or position, or immunity, which has not been earned by service to his or their fellows. That is what you fought for in the Civil War, and that is what we strive for now.
Now to you men, who, in your turn, have come together to spend and be spent in the endless crusade against wrong, to you who face the future resolute and confident, to you who strive in a spirit of brotherhood for the betterment of our nation, to you who gird yourselves for this great new fight in the never-ending warfare for the good of humankind, I say in closing what in that speech I said in closing: We stand at Armageddon, and we battle for the Lord.
Theodore Roosevelt, Progressive Convention Acceptance Speech, Excerpt, 1912

The two-day affair concluded with the nomination of the vice president. There were several contenders, including the potential re-nomination of former Vice President Taft, but a strong recommendation by the national committee to end unsuccessful appeals to Republican voters eventually persuaded Roosevelt to prompt the delegation into its eventual direction. After some deliberation, they chose staunch progressive, railroad regulator Governor Hiram Johnson of California in unanimity. A committee majority found that Taft's probable enticing of Republicans equally deterred otherwise eager Progressive voters. Therefore, choosing a popular incumbent member of their own party was a no-brainer.

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Part 5: Chapter XVIII - Page 114
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Governor Thomas Marshall and First Lady Lois Marshall of Indiana - Source: Wiki Commons

Public opinion had grown less charitable to the idea of continuing half-hearted progress by 1912, and leaned into the idea of more serious, systemic reform to achieve economic equity. Reinforced with the reality of faux reform in Washington under Hearst, a more substantial fragment of the population now questioned the issues associated with a system based on exploiting labor. It was becoming increasingly common for one to belong to a labor union, and the stigma of joining a "radical" IWW local lessened considerably in the period between 1909 and 1912. Socialist editorials stayed prevalent in the public eye with subscriptions to newsletters like Appeal to Reason and Max Eastman's The Masses far surpassing figures in previous years. Enclaves of left-wing communities began sprouting forth in coastal and Midwestern regions, such as in the famously progressive Greenwich Village in New York.

Theodore Debs, the Socialist nominee's younger brother, managed the candidate's campaign and geared it to take advantage of recent developments. He ensured that the presidential effort appealed to young Village rebels just as fervently as it did so among union activists and traditional party members. Rallies numbered in the tens of thousands in support of the Socialist Party as the Red Express of 1912 traveled from town to town. Eugene Debs appeared alongside IWW leaders like Joseph Ettor, spoke in Denver with Bill Haywood, and enthralled crowds with Meyer London and Charles Russell at Madison Square Garden. He urged his listeners organize for industrial unionism and not be carried away with electoral reform as the be-all and end-all. "Revolution cannot be achieved in a day," he repeatedly stressed. "Never for a moment confuse reform for revolution and never abandon sight of the ultimate goal."

Not every unionized worker and social activist sided with the aging Socialist star, however. Although the SP's nominee captivated gargantuan audiences and obtained far more notoriety than in any prior election, the number of voters willing to offer their vote to that party was a distinct minority. All major presidential candidates voraciously professed some degree or another of pro-reform sentiment. Case in point, Governor Marshall looked to win over many of the same voters of Debs: Industrial workers, urbanites, and young and diverse communities. He reiterated his progressive record at every opportunity and tastefully pledged to accomplish similar goals if elected. Marshall named specific measures including expanding the primary system and instituting stringent guidelines on public officials to combat corruption (introduced during a critique of Hearst).

Marshall did not go as far as to support the eight-hour working day nor promote fundraising transparency out of a conscious effort to retain Southern Democrats in the coalition. Applauding expansive federalism would be impossible for the Democrat. With so many options available on the ballot to choose from, the last development he desired would be for Southerners to splinter the party. As thus, even though Marshall favored anti-trust action and economic opportunity for outmaneuvered small businesses, he could not offer the reform-hungry populations in the North and West much beyond that. Apart from proudly embracing prohibition, Marshall ducked any and all risky or controversial topics. His fellow Democrat in the White House, on the opposing end, was not held down by such strings.

August closed with four candidates in the ring. September began with five. President Hearst formally announced his plan to run for president as an independent on September 1st. Viewing himself as a sword-wielding hero atop a white horse, the incumbent declared that the political system was despairingly corrupt and necessitated a liberator. He began his campaign by voicing virulent fury toward Congress for knee-capping his presidency with a foolhardy, retaliatory investigation. He exclaimed that, "progress perished in the Legislature," and that the only way forward would be to elect self-reliant congressional candidates unaided by political parties and associations. This intense antagonism hardly helped Hearst's image, and, of anything, buttressed memories of the Manhattan Scandal to otherwise persuadable voters. He also no longer rallied against the state boss apparatus (ie, Boss Murphy) in the same tone that he had four years earlier. This likely propped up the perception of Hearst as a corrupt politician beholden to certain interests.

Still, not all was bleak for the incumbent. Hearst's status as a 'President without a Party' granted him incessant media coverage, and his base of dedicated proponents were not so quick to abandon their leader. As written by John Gardner, "Incumbency comes with certain advantages and disadvantages. One supremely essential plus in a presidential re-election campaign is brand loyalty, and Hearst had it. Regardless of the events of the Democratic National Convention and Marshall's presence on the campaign circuit, Hearst, as the sitting president, had friends in both high places and low places. [...] His managers took on more intensive roles in the autumn of 1912 as the campaign heated up, and they sought out to win support from a pool of responsive municipal groups and businesses. When unable to fulfill their task of achieving an endorsement, they would erect spurious counterparts - see Women's League for Hearst vs. National American Woman Suffrage Association."

Having invested enormous sums of private capital into the campaign thus far, Hearst was flat broke by early October. He spent an estimated $75,000 per week on the re-election effort, and when his own supplies ran dry, he took on immense loan debt. The president sporadically incorporated his fundraising difficulties into his campaign speeches, professing that the oil and steel trusts feared his reign and opted to sink his personal investments. Over the span of the first month of campaigning it gradually appeared as if he was losing his grip on the situation. His lifesaver market connections notwithstanding, Hearst was at severe risk of bankruptcy on a financial level and finishing dead last on the political front. Despite pushing endless campaign advertisements and editorials through his media enterprises, the president's figures in public polling were abysmal. In order to remain afloat, Hearst needed a new tactic.


The Des Moines Register
Presidential Preference Polling, October 1912
(P) Theodore Roosevelt 35%
(R) Thomas S. Butler 27%
(D) Thomas R. Marshall 25%
(I) William R. Hearst 09%
(S) Eugene V. Debs 03%
Other 01%
 

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Banned
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Governor Thomas Marshall and First Lady Lois Marshall of Indiana - Source: Wiki Commons

Public opinion had grown less charitable to the idea of continuing half-hearted progress by 1912, and leaned into the idea of more serious, systemic reform to achieve economic equity. Reinforced with the reality of faux reform in Washington under Hearst, a more substantial fragment of the population now questioned the issues associated with a system based on exploiting labor. It was becoming increasingly common for one to belong to a labor union, and the stigma of joining a "radical" IWW local lessened considerably in the period between 1909 and 1912. Socialist editorials stayed prevalent in the public eye with subscriptions to newsletters like Appeal to Reason and Max Eastman's The Masses far surpassing figures in previous years. Enclaves of left-wing communities began sprouting forth in coastal and Midwestern regions, such as in the famously progressive Greenwich Village in New York.

Theodore Debs, the Socialist nominee's younger brother, managed the candidate's campaign and geared it to take advantage of recent developments. He ensured that the presidential effort appealed to young Village rebels just as fervently as it did so among union activists and traditional party members. Rallies numbered in the tens of thousands in support of the Socialist Party as the Red Express of 1912 traveled from town to town. Eugene Debs appeared alongside IWW leaders like Joseph Ettor, spoke in Denver with Bill Haywood, and enthralled crowds with Meyer London and Charles Russell at Madison Square Garden. He urged his listeners organize for industrial unionism and not be carried away with electoral reform as the be-all and end-all. "Revolution cannot be achieved in a day," he repeatedly stressed. "Never for a moment confuse reform for revolution and never abandon sight of the ultimate goal."

Not every unionized worker and social activist sided with the aging Socialist star, however. Although the SP's nominee captivated gargantuan audiences and obtained far more notoriety than in any prior election, the number of voters willing to offer their vote to that party was a distinct minority. All major presidential candidates voraciously professed some degree or another of pro-reform sentiment. Case in point, Governor Marshall looked to win over many of the same voters of Debs: Industrial workers, urbanites, and young and diverse communities. He reiterated his progressive record at every opportunity and tastefully pledged to accomplish similar goals if elected. Marshall named specific measures including expanding the primary system and instituting stringent guidelines on public officials to combat corruption (introduced during a critique of Hearst).

Marshall did not go as far as to support the eight-hour working day nor promote fundraising transparency out of a conscious effort to retain Southern Democrats in the coalition. Applauding expansive federalism would be impossible for the Democrat. With so many options available on the ballot to choose from, the last development he desired would be for Southerners to splinter the party. As thus, even though Marshall favored anti-trust action and economic opportunity for outmaneuvered small businesses, he could not offer the reform-hungry populations in the North and West much beyond that. Apart from proudly embracing prohibition, Marshall ducked any and all risky or controversial topics. His fellow Democrat in the White House, on the opposing end, was not held down by such strings.

August closed with four candidates in the ring. September began with five. President Hearst formally announced his plan to run for president as an independent on September 1st. Viewing himself as a sword-wielding hero atop a white horse, the incumbent declared that the political system was despairingly corrupt and necessitated a liberator. He began his campaign by voicing virulent fury toward Congress for knee-capping his presidency with a foolhardy, retaliatory investigation. He exclaimed that, "progress perished in the Legislature," and that the only way forward would be to elect self-reliant congressional candidates unaided by political parties and associations. This intense antagonism hardly helped Hearst's image, and, of anything, buttressed memories of the Manhattan Scandal to otherwise persuadable voters. He also no longer rallied against the state boss apparatus (ie, Boss Murphy) in the same tone that he had four years earlier. This likely propped up the perception of Hearst as a corrupt politician beholden to certain interests.

Still, not all was bleak for the incumbent. Hearst's status as a 'President without a Party' granted him incessant media coverage, and his base of dedicated proponents were not so quick to abandon their leader. As written by John Gardner, "Incumbency comes with certain advantages and disadvantages. One supremely essential plus in a presidential re-election campaign is brand loyalty, and Hearst had it. Regardless of the events of the Democratic National Convention and Marshall's presence on the campaign circuit, Hearst, as the sitting president, had friends in both high places and low places. [...] His managers took on more intensive roles in the autumn of 1912 as the campaign heated up, and they sought out to win support from a pool of responsive municipal groups and businesses. When unable to fulfill their task of achieving an endorsement, they would erect spurious counterparts - see Women's League for Hearst vs. National American Woman Suffrage Association."

Having invested enormous sums of private capital into the campaign thus far, Hearst was flat broke by early October. He spent an estimated $75,000 per week on the re-election effort, and when his own supplies ran dry, he took on immense loan debt. The president sporadically incorporated his fundraising difficulties into his campaign speeches, professing that the oil and steel trusts feared his reign and opted to sink his personal investments. Over the span of the first month of campaigning it gradually appeared as if he was losing his grip on the situation. His lifesaver market connections notwithstanding, Hearst was at severe risk of bankruptcy on a financial level and finishing dead last on the political front. Despite pushing endless campaign advertisements and editorials through his media enterprises, the president's figures in public polling were abysmal. In order to remain afloat, Hearst needed a new tactic.


The Des Moines Register
Presidential Preference Polling, October 1912
(P) Theodore Roosevelt 35%
(R) Thomas S. Butler 27%
(D) Thomas R. Marshall 25%
(I) William R. Hearst 09%
(S) Eugene V. Debs 03%
Other 01%

A slow burner like always.
 
Wonder if the winner (which seems to be Roosevelt, IMO) will get the United States into World War I in 1914--that was one of the causes of the eventual revolution in @Aelita's Reds! timeline...
 
Four decent men and a scoundrel.

I'm sure quite a few ITTL could agree, though they won't agree on the identity of the scoundrel :p

Is it too early to predict the split in the electoral college? The way this is going, it has a real chance of being thrown to the house - exciting, both as a story direction, and as an immense opportunity for good old accelerationism dirty politics.
 
(Forgive me for the double post, I thought it would be better than an edit that completely overhauls my last post)

I wanted to take a crack at reading the tea leaves. The past few elections show clearly, that apart from the solid south, the entire country is probably an intense battleground:
The Election of 1896: Final Results

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The Election of 1900: Final Results

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The Election of 1904: Final Results

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The Election of 1908: Final Results

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In making a map for my prediction, I ended up spending a few hours just making a clean template, so I'm just gonna post a quick prediction that I can refine later with discussion :p

266_to_win.png


The Mid-Atlantic to Midwest seemed like a major battleground, with all three major candidates being favorite sons and having some appeal to various bases there - though I'm really uncertain about the extent of the Republican support I've put there, outside Pennsylvania which I'm imagining is just a favorite son swinging a tight race between Butler and Roosevelt. The (northern) Plains Midwest seems more solid in its Progressive support if I remember correctly, while in the west I'm not sure about California, but I gave it to Roosevelt (except an echo of OTL that amuses me :) ) because I figured his VP nominee would help swing it. And, of course, voters might coalesce behind particular candidates as the race goes on, and there's any number of events that could completely change the face of the race, but assuming all three major candidates stay viable, I'm thinking the result will look somewhat like this.

If my math is right, this leaves us with a hung EC:
Roosevelt: 218
Marshall: 175
Butler: 138

I made a template that I can easily edit, so if anyone wants to suggest amendments to the prediction, or a different prediction of their own, I don't mind making another :D

For example:
Marshall only needs to swing the upper south and Nebraska in my first scenario, and he gets the EC plurality (215 vs Roosevelt's 210). Though, in such a universe, I suspect Butler would likely have collapsed enough to lose Ohio as well, perhaps even Pennsylvania.
266_marshall.png
Such a (partial) Republican collapse would look more like this, giving Roosevelt the presidency with (I believe) 298 electors, unless Schrank has a luckier bullet, that is...
266_roosevelt.png

Edit: Been doing some more fiddling with colors, I think I have a pretty-nice set of one-party-leading, two-way-battlegrounds, and 3-way-tossup colors here:
The triangle of colors shows what the colors mean, for example green is a competitive election with progressives leading and republicans in second, yellow is a safe progressive lead, and yellow-orange is a competitive election with a progressive lead against the dems in second, while red-orange is a progressive-democrat race led by the dems, and so on and so on. If you're familiar with ternary plots used in scientific diagrams or infographics, it's the same idea. I originally had 16 colors, which was too many to be legible, and I'm also working on a cyan-magenta-yellow palette but that's still quite eye-burny.
1912_leans_rgb.png

I'm hoping the color scheme makes the meaning of the colors clear even without the triangle, so I can just take out the triangle rather than have to work on making it fit with the rest of the design :p
 
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Is it too early to predict the split in the electoral college? The way this is going, it has a real chance of being thrown to the house - exciting, both as a story direction, and as an immense opportunity for good old accelerationism dirty politics.

I wanted to take a crack at reading the tea leaves. The past few elections show clearly, that apart from the solid south, the entire country is probably an intense battleground:

The Mid-Atlantic to Midwest seemed like a major battleground, with all three major candidates being favorite sons and having some appeal to various bases there - though I'm really uncertain about the extent of the Republican support I've put there, outside Pennsylvania which I'm imagining is just a favorite son swinging a tight race between Butler and Roosevelt. The (northern) Plains Midwest seems more solid in its Progressive support if I remember correctly, while in the west I'm not sure about California, but I gave it to Roosevelt (except an echo of OTL that amuses me :) ) because I figured his VP nominee would help swing it. And, of course, voters might coalesce behind particular candidates as the race goes on, and there's any number of events that could completely change the face of the race, but assuming all three major candidates stay viable, I'm thinking the result will look somewhat like this.

If my math is right, this leaves us with a hung EC:
Roosevelt: 218
Marshall: 175
Butler: 138


Edit: Been doing some more fiddling with colors, I think I have a pretty-nice set of one-party-leading, two-way-battlegrounds, and 3-way-tossup colors here:
The triangle of colors shows what the colors mean, for example green is a competitive election with progressives leading and republicans in second, yellow is a safe progressive lead, and yellow-orange is a competitive election with a progressive lead against the dems in second, while red-orange is a progressive-democrat race led by the dems, and so on and so on. If you're familiar with ternary plots used in scientific diagrams or infographics, it's the same idea. I originally had 16 colors, which was too many to be legible, and I'm also working on a cyan-magenta-yellow palette but that's still quite eye-burny.
View attachment 586314
I'm hoping the color scheme makes the meaning of the colors clear even without the triangle, so I can just take out the triangle rather than have to work on making it fit with the rest of the design :p

Good analysis! You've more or less nailed which areas are clear battlegrounds versus more unmovable areas like the Solid South.
The 1904 realignment began many of the trends you've mentioned, like a Progressive advantage in the West. Remember, though, the Democratic vote will be split in 1912.
We know in OTL what a split Republican vote meant for that election, but now both parties are severed, so we'll see who can pull this off.
 
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