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Summary and Significance of the United States Presidential Election of 1912

Summary and Significance of the United States Presidential Election of 1912
The United States Presidential Election of 1912 was one of the most significant elections in American history, due to a split in the Republican party. For a better understanding, Historyplex gives a summary of the significance of the 1912 Presidential Election.
Neha B Deshpande
Last Updated: Jun 2, 2018
Did You Know?
Theodore Roosevelt's Progressive Party was also known as the 'Bull Moose' party. It was named so after journalists quoted him saying that he felt like a bull moose soon after the party was formed.
Do you remember an old saying that states: 'When two people fight, the third person gains.' Well, we come across such situations so many times. However, a good example of this can be the U.S. Presidential Election of 1912. There were some elections in U.S. history that have stood out to be record breaking. The 1912 election was symbolized by a fallout in the Republican Party, resulting into a win for the Democratic Party, and also the birth of the 'Progressive Party'.

To those who are unaware of the system of presidential elections, the United States follows an indirect system of voting, where the citizens appoint electoral candidates, who in turn appoint the President and Vice President through a poll.

The following sections give a summary, and answers some key questions of the 1912 Presidential Election.
Who Were the Major Candidates in the Presidential Election of 1912?
Democratic Party
Woodrow Wilson: Born in Virginia in 1856, he was a political science professor and also the president of Princeton. Gauging his popularity, the Democrats saw him as a favorable candidate for the Presidential Election. After his win in the 1912 election, he served for a tenure from 1913 to 1921.

Progressive Party
William Howard Taft: President Roosevelt had him under his wings as a potential candidate for the Republicans. However, when he resumed office after his win in the 1904 election, his working techniques did not go well with the progressives and Theodore Roosevelt. Though he signed almost twice of the antitrust Acts than his predecessor, he lost popularity due to his conservative techniques.

Republican Party
Theodore Roosevelt: He had already served as a President at the age of 43, being the youngest president at that time, and serving a tenure from 1901 to 1909. He was awarded with the Nobel Peace Award due his negotiations to end the Russo-Japanese war. A fun fact is that, the famous 'Teddy Bear' was named after him, due to one of his hunting escapades. After his successor Taft disappointed him with conservative techniques, he decided to contest as an eligible candidate in the 1912 election.

Other candidates:
Socialist Party
Eugene V. Debs: An efficient leader, union activist, and an advocate of socialist views, he was pivotal in the 'Pullman Strike', one of the biggest strikes in American history. He witnessed his greatest success in the 1912 election, with 6% votes.

With growing conflicts between Roosevelt and Taft, Roosevelt decided to contest as a presidential candidate. His techniques were aggressive, vigorous, and also progressive in nature, as against Taft's conservative techniques. However, when the Republican Party reappointed Taft as the potential nominee, Roosevelt and his followers decided to drift away and form their own party.
Who Won the Presidential Election of 1912?
Woodrow Wilson of the Democratic Party won the 1912 election. The statistics are as follows:

President Vice President Electoral College Popular Vote
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas R. Marshall 435 6,294,327
Theodore Roosevelt
Hiram W. Johnson 88 4,120,207
William Howard Taft
Nicholas M. Butler 8 3,486,343
Eugene V. Debs
Emil Seidel 0 900,370

Thus, the statistics indicate that Woodrow Wilson won by a whopping number of electoral votes.
Key Issues of the 1912 Presidential Election
Regulation of Trusts: This was one of the key points of differences in the candidates. The issue was whether there was government regulation necessary in the case of trusts, and to what extent.

Women's Suffrage: Not all states had granted voting rights to women. Hence, one major issue was whether to grant them a constitutional right to vote.

Tariffs: Protective tariffs to protect American trade from foreign competition was again a point of debate, where some believed that excessive tariff would not be beneficial to the economy.
Thus, the split between a major party was one of the major highlights of the 1912 election. After this election, Roosevelt chose not to stand for the 1916 election, and the rift between the Republicans and Progressives slowly dissolved.