1912 Election and the Power of Progressivism

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Maya Austell March 6, 2012 American History II Book review on 1912 Election and the Power of Progressivism The election of 1912 was a rare four-way contest. All four candidates ultimately had the same goals and similar qualities of Progressivism but quite different ways of moving towards it. Brett Flehinger states “Although Roosevelt, Taft, Wilson, Debs, and others disagreed fundamentally on a number of issues, their debates focused on a central question: How should American society respond to the swift and sweeping social and political changes brought on by the development of this new corporate economy.” (pg. 21) Before President Theodore Roosevelt left office, he picked William Howard Taft to be his successor and helped get him elected. William Howard Taft was nominated by the support of Republicans and the conservative wing. Since Theodore Roosevelt failed to receive the Republican nomination, TR and his supporters formed the Progressive Party, (nicknamed the "Bull Moose Party") so he was chosen as its candidate for President. Eugene V. Debs, knows as a American Union leader and founding member of the International Labor Union and the Industrial Workers of the World, was a nominee of the Socialist Party. The fourth runner in this election was Woodrow Wilson, supporter of the Democratic Party. He was nominated on the ballot thanks to the support of William Jennings Bryan, a three-time Democratic presidential candidate. If all of the candidates were supporters of Progressivism, what were the issues? The three key issues of this election were how to deal with trusts, should women be able to vote, and should tariffs be used to protect trade in America. This book states, “Although the debates ranged widely, there were two general camps: (1) Those who argued for a small- scale, localized, producer-oriented

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