It's that time of year again! Every summer interns from around the country join us in our work on the TR Digital Library. We often ask them to share their experiences in the blog. Intern Kip Thorson delved into documents relating to the 1904 Republican and Democratic Conventions.
As the United States prepares for the 2016 presidential election in November, and the national conventions for both the Republican and Democratic parties held in July are a recent memory, I have been sifting through documents in the Theodore Roosevelt Digital Library that pertain to the time period leading up to and shortly after the 1904 Republican National Convention in Chicago. Because of the timing, I couldn’t help but ponder similarities and differences in our own era.
The 1904 convention, too, had its share of conflict and controversy. In the year leading up to the convention, there was speculation that Roosevelt would have competition for the Republican nomination from wealthy businessman and Ohio Senator Mark Hanna. Hanna served as Chairman of the Republican National Committee for both of William McKinley’s elections in 1896 and 1900. Hanna was also a vocal critic of Roosevelt’s selection as McKinley’s running mate in 1900. The following items in the digital library reflect concerns – and hopes – for Hanna’s presidential prospects: Looks Like Rubbing It In, Letter from John Allison to Jeter Connelly Pritchard, and Letter from Paul Morton to Theodore Roosevelt.
However, Hanna’s death in early 1904 provided Roosevelt a clear path to the nomination, and eventual victory in the 1904 presidential election. By June, the biggest drama of the convention centered on who would replace Hanna as the Chairman of the Republican National Committee. In a telegram from Theodore Roosevelt to Cornelius Newton Bliss, TR urges a strong supporter of his to arrive early at the convention to thwart an attempt to block Roosevelt’s choice. The 2016 convention showed us that one thing remains timeless -- political moves and countermoves.