2012 is an election year; the internet, newspapers and 24-hour news channels are not going to let us forget it any time soon. It is also the centennial of the 1912 election in which the first successful third party candidate ran for the presidency. The candidate was Theodore Roosevelt, running on the Progressive, or Bull Moose, party ticket.
This split from the Republic party occurred after Roosevelt failed to win the Republican nomination from incumbent William Howard Taft at the Republican National Convention in June 1912. The following day, Roosevelt met with supporters to officially form the Progressive Party which held its convention in August, nominating Roosevelt as their candidate for president.
Many of Roosevelt’s supporters would follow him to the Progressive Party but I am left wondering for whom a particular early supporter voted. Harry R. Hannum was a farmer and rancher in New Mexico; he wrote to Theodore Roosevelt in early January 1912 voicing his support for Roosevelt [Editor’s note: original spelling and grammar has been maintained in this transcription]:
My Dear Mr. Roosevelt:-
I am neither in my dotage or infancy being 38 years. I am not well off neither am I asking alms. I am not over stocked with brains neither do I consider my self a blockhead. I am simply a free born American Citizen having the power to vote for whom I please. We can’t support Mr La Follette as he is troubled with brain stones. Neither can we support Mr Taft as he is lacking in back bone. So it is up to you Mr Roosevelt, for god sake throw down the bars come out in the open, get into the harness and save the Nation from ourselves. With Theodore Roosevelt in the White House to lead us either in Commerce or war we can defy the world.
To see the original document, click here.
The Progressive Party would go on to hold an historic convention and campaign in 1912. I can only think Mr. Hannum voted for Roosevelt after such strong support! Look for more blog posts on the Progressive Party centennial and election year throughout 2012.