Crimson Banners Fly: The Rise of the American Left

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Part 3: Chapter X - Page 64

(Left to Right) Richard Olney, Chauncey Depew, and Theodore Roosevelt - Sources: (1)(2)(3) Wiki Commons and LoC

At long last, Election Day arrived and it was time to test Isaac Funk's theory. Judging by the similar conclusions reached by The Literary Digest and The New York Tribune, this election would prove to be one unlike any other in American history. Not since James B. Weaver's candidacy in 1892 had a prominent third party bid so overshadowed the two-party duopoly in the United States. Former Secretary Theodore Roosevelt ably organized campaign events across the nation, delivering hundreds upon hundreds of speeches in a relatively short span. In terms of mileage, he surpassed his previous record during the 1900 campaign, and easily eclipsed Bryan's 1896 figures. With Senator Richard Olney and President Chauncey Depew both running sedentary, front-porch campaigns, this electoral venture looked to conclusively address the hypothesis regarding the acute effectiveness of whistle-stop campaigning. Was 1896 sincerely a fluke as suspected by some party officials, or did Bryan pioneer the future of modern campaigning?

Knowing the embedded drawbacks of a third party bid for office, Roosevelt allies in two crucial states tweaked voting mechanisms to better suit their favored candidate (certainly risking their reputations in the process). Governor Richard Yates (R-IL), a reformer not seeking re-election, backed Roosevelt and ensured he would have a distinct advantage in the Prairie State. With enough arm twisting in the state GOP, Yates managed to modify the state-wide ballot to place Roosevelt's name on the Republican line. Likewise, California Governor George Pardee (R-CA), an opponent of consolidation and a staunch ally of Roosevelt, placed the Progressive nominee on the state ballot as "Republican-Progressive." "Roosevelt ought to be the incumbent," Lieutenant Governor Alden Anderson (R-CA) reportedly claimed, "Beveridge chose him, not the Eastern Establishment. Depew [was given] the vice presidency to satisfy Platt." In both of these states, as well as in Wisconsin where La Follette aggressively championed the Progressive nominee, an increasingly inflamed RNC vehemently encouraged Republicans to vote Depew whether or not his name appeared on the ballot.

Although he did not go as far as to resort to ballot tinkering, Governor Samuel Pennypacker (R-PA) enthusiastically endorsed President Depew at a notable public event, calling upon "all patriotic Americans, from sea to shining sea, cast your ballot in favor of a full dinner pail and continuing prosperity." In some ways, considering Pennypacker's role in terminating the Anthracite Strike by preserving Governor Stone's order to station the National Guard and private police forces at the coal mines, this pushed Republican-affiliated miners further away from supporting the president. Reliving Depew's noncompliance to engage in arbitration, coal mine workers were the least likely demographic to support Depew's re-election despite pleas from their elected officials to do so.

Once all ballots were cast and the counting commenced, state-appointed tellers immediately identified the validity of Funk's discovery. Roosevelt and Olney, as far as the Popular Vote was concerned, were neck-and-neck, while President Depew often sank to a distant third. The only exceptions to this rule were in select states in New England (namely: New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut) and Utah. Depew held his own in the Beehive State, where an alliance forged with local boss Senator Reed Smoot (R-UT) produced an extreme advantage for the incumbent president. Combined with an affinity for high tariffs, the people of Utah narrowly voted their preference for Depew above the other contenders, thereby awarding him their three Electoral Votes. These five states, and their 22 total Electoral Votes, would be all that Depew would win in his re-election campaign. Constant mud-slinging from the Democrats, the Roosevelt-ists, the Socialists, the union organizers, and the anti-corruption advocates were insurmountable. Depew's performance would go down as the worst in history for an incumbent president seeking re-election.

Where Depew suffered, Olney and Roosevelt thrived. A coalition of Bryan Democrats and progressive Republicans fueled the former New York governor's rocket to the top, providing the Progressive nominee a sufficient base to combat the strength of his opponents. Olney, on the other hand, mostly retained the allegiance of solidly Democratic voters whilst benefiting extensively from a split Republican electorate. The latter phenomenon led to Olney nearly succeeding in taking New England for himself, contesting in a region typically locked-out for Democratic candidates. He managed a strong second place finish in Massachusetts, defeating the Republican presidential candidate for the first time in history. Apparently due to a public refusal of Senator Lodge to declare himself for Depew (neither did he endorse Roosevelt, perhaps not wishing to break with the Republican Party), Roosevelt captured a commanding lead in Greater Boston which could not be stunted by rural conservatives in the western part of the state. With about 36% of the vote, Roosevelt narrowly won Olney's home state of Massachusetts.

Despite the perceived advantage of a split Republican vote, a considerable contingent of the Bryan Democrats split the Democratic vote by supporting Roosevelt. Therefore, the circumstances that had played out in Massachusetts were repeated in dozens of other states, including in New Jersey. Roosevelt shrunk Olney's expected lead in traditional Garden State Democratic strongholds like Jersey City while seizing expansive plurality wins in Essex and Ocean counties. The Progressive nominee defeated his Democratic contendor: 39% to 36%. Delaware and Maryland proved to have the opposite effect, however. An abundance of conservative voters in both parties, as well as an outnumbered ratio of Democrats to Republicans, pummeled Roosevelt down to a third place finish and conclusively granted Olney a relatively confident victory.

New York was a bit more complex. Considering Roosevelt and Depew each possessed strong ties to the state, New Yorkers could have advanced in any one direction. Traditionally, the Republican machine, headed by Senator Platt and former Governor Morton, dominated national and state elections in the Empire State. Platt personally supported Depew at the Republican Convention and incessantly spoke in favor of his re-election leading up to the opening of the polls. With voters divided between the two Republican candidates, Olney successfully captured a plurality vote despite being the only one of the three main contenders not a current or former representative of that state. A majority of counties sided with Depew, but Olney ended up on top with 39% of the vote.
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Part 3: Chapter X - Page 65

A Pro-Olney Illustration from "Puck" Magazine, October 15th, 1904
Caption: "Here is An Able Democrat, a Rational Expansionist, and a Sound-Money Man! Why Not Elect Him?" Wiki Commons

In Pennsylvania, as a consequence of both registered Democrats composing an extreme minority of the electorate as well as unionized workers overwhelmingly backing Roosevelt and Debs over the competition, the nominee for the Progressive Party won a 40% plurality of the raw vote and all 34 of its Electoral Votes. The failure of the Depew Campaign to close the gap with Roosevelt in the Keystone State would directly lead to the loss of support for Governor Pennypacker's renomination by the Pennsylvania Republican Party in 1906 (Not a response to the Anthracite Strike as popularly understood by some political historians).

Richard Olney comfortably swept the Southern United States, expanding margins to figures unseen in decades. This bastion of the Democratic vote provided their nominee with totals ranging from Kentucky's commendable 51% to South Carolina's extraordinary 94%. West Virginia, a state very narrowly won by Albert Beveridge four years prior, decisively returned to the Democratic fold in 1904. Any remote question concerning the reliably of the Solid South after it flinched in the 1900 presidential election now vanished. Be that as it may, not every region renewed its doctrinal party loyalties.

Across the American West, in states previously viciously devoted to William J. Bryan and his brand of Democracy, the Progressives triumphed. This haven for agrarian politics, populist economics and anti-boss sentiment awarded a slew of victories to the Progressive Party. It seems Hill was incorrect in assuming the allegiance of Westerners to the Democratic Party. Bryan transformed their politics on a fundamental level. Rebutting the prevailing tendency of American voters to cast their ballots strictly along party lines regardless of the candidates' policies, a sufficient plurality of Bryan voters switched to Roosevelt. The Rough Rider, boosted by these mugwump-esque Bryan supporters, achieved wins in every Western state apart from Utah. Wyoming and Oregon were the closest margins, 2% and 2.5% respectively, but they too supported the Roosevelt candidacy.

As the night went on, those analyzing the incoming figures began worrying that none of the active candidates could plausibly reach the threshold of 238 Electoral Votes. Some newspapers predicted, on the eve of the election, that an evenly divided Industrial Midwest may manifest. In such a scenario, with every candidate denied the threshold, the incoming Congress would convene to decide the outcome of the election. Others believed a late surge in Depew votes in Ohio and Wisconsin would more easily hand the election to Olney. These predictions, albeit possibilities in an alternate timeline, fundamentally failed to take in account the sheer unpopularity of the Democratic and Republican candidacies.

By vast pluralities, voters in Michigan and Minnesota preferred Roosevelt. He nearly rose above 50% in the former, but eventually capped at 48%. Likewise, because of the aforementioned actions of Governor Yates, Roosevelt easily conquered Illinois, capturing 48% of the vote compared with Olney's 40% and Depew's 9% (write-ins). Perhaps as a result of Bryan's aforementioned semi-endorsement, or industrial workers favoring more left-leaning proposals in the aftermath of the Anthracite Strike, or even a larger than expected sect of voters distrusting their unsympathetic president, Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin all allocated, via razor-thin margins, slightly more votes to Roosevelt than either Depew or Olney. To exemplify how "razor-thin" these margins were: Ohioans sent 303,625 (or 29.93%) of the vote to Depew, 320,754 (31.62%) to Olney, and 324,390 (31.98%) to Roosevelt.

There it was. The Progressive Party overcame the odds of this contentious election and seemingly delivered Theodore Roosevelt the presidency. With 246 Electoral Votes in tow, the former war secretary managed to exceed the necessary Electoral College threshold. As the popular legend goes, when Roosevelt was later approached by a herd of journalists and asked to provide a comment on the election, the New Yorker joyfully responded, "Gentlemen, if I may be so bold. It is Columbia who leads us forward, and her radiance shall illuminate this land." From thence on, newspapers popularly referred to the Progressive Party as the "Party of Columbia".

Deleted member 94708

So will the rump Democrat and Republican parties thwart Roosevelt’s entire agenda in Congress or will we see some sort of corruption of the Electoral College?

Or will (unpopular I know) Roosevelt get much of his platform passed and still see it insufficient to stave off the rising expectations of the workers and the Socialist Party?
So will the rump Democrat and Republican parties thwart Roosevelt’s entire agenda in Congress or will we see some sort of corruption of the Electoral College?

Or will (unpopular I know) Roosevelt get much of his platform passed and still see it insufficient to stave off the rising expectations of the workers and the Socialist Party?

Good questions! We will see very soon :)
Part 3: Chapter X - Page 67 - 1904 Election Results II
1904 Congressional Elections

Republican: 48 (+2)
Democratic: 42 (-2)

Republican: 219 (+19)
Democratic: 159 (-21)
Progressive: 5 (+5)
Socialist: 1 (+1)
Independent: 0 (-4)

House of Representatives Leadership
Speaker Joseph G. Cannon (R-IL)
Minority Leader Champ Clark (D-MO)
Minority Leader Wesley L. Jones (P-CA)
Minority Leader John C. Chase (S-NY)

As the Progressive Party officially opted against fielding congressional or statewide challengers in 1904, the vote-splitting which categorized the presidential race was notably absent in all other races this cycle. That is not to say, however, that the Progressives did not have a role in these lesser elections. Roosevelt was the sole endorsee of the novel national organization, but a select few incumbents swapped party affiliation in advance of the election. This included Governors Robert M. La Follette and George Pardee, as well as Representatives James McLachlan (P-CA), Wesley L. Jones (P-WA), Howard M. Snapp (P-IL), Charles T. Dunwell (P-NY), and Charles L. Knapp (P-NY).

Governor La Follette, having been unanimously nominated by the Wisconsin Republican Party to run for the United States Senate, challenged incumbent Democratic Senator Timoth E. Ryan for his seat. Ryan, a Bourbon Democrat and Milwaukee attorney, lost the confidence of Wisconsinite Bryan Democrats after joining conservative Republicans in affirmatively voting to repeal Sulzer-Hepburn. This minority faction of the state Democratic party failed in preventing Ryan's renomination, but shortly thereafter professed a willingness to back the reformist La Follette. Unlike his opponent, the governor promoted Progressive objectives like a nationwide primary system, merger regulation, and the passage of Bryan's income tax amendment. Listed on the state ballot as a Republican and a Progressive, the insurgent candidate defeated Senator Ryan, 51% to 48%.

Senate seats once belonging to Mark Hanna and Robert Pattison were vacated upon the deaths of these two senators. Governors Myron Herrick (R-OH) and Samuel Pennypacker appointed interim replacements for Hanna and Pattison, respectively, over the course of the 58th Congress. In Ohio, Representative Charles W. F. Dick (R-OH) filled the senatorial vacancy, but later lost the nomination of the Ohio Republican Party to McKinley's former Lieutenant Governor Andrew L. Harris (R-OH). Harris possessed some middling support by the progressive Republicans for speaking out against corporate donations, yet only narrowly defeated Democrat financier John H. Clarke, 53% to 46%. In the face of a dangerous nominating fight, corporate attorney John M. Bell, Pennypacker's appointee to the Senate, chose to endorse his opponent instead of running for a full, 6-year term. Therefore, Attorney General Philander C. Knox won that nomination unopposed, and sailed to an easy win against Representative James K.P. Hall (D-PA).

William V. Allen, the once-Populist senator from Nebraska, sorrowfully decided against running for re-election. Knowing the intense uphill and presumably fruitless endeavor of contesting the Democratic nomination, Allen instead sought a return to his private law practice. He did offer an enthusiastic endorsement of Bryan Democrat Richard L. Metcalfe (D-NE) for his seat, hoping to reignite the fire in the Nebraskan population that once carried William J. Bryan to the presidency. Former President Bryan himself also submitted a written endorsement of the Democratic candidate in The Commoner just prior to November. Representative Elmer Burkett (R-NE) resoundingly won the Republican nomination and received well-publicized endorsements by Governor John H. Mickey (R-NE) and former Senator John M. Thurston (R-NE). Although the local press predicted a landslide win for Congressman Burkett, Mr. Metcalfe won the election by a margin of 1,181 votes (out of about 230,000). It appeared Bryan, and his agrarian army, remained a formidable presence in the American West.

The Class 1 U.S. Senate seat in New York was held by Chauncey Depew until his ascension to the vice presidency in 1901. Republicans fell in line behind his successor, James S. Sherman, who won that seat handily against David Hill that same year. Sherman governed as a stubborn, staunch conservative whilst in office and allied himself closely with the Republican Old Guard against the Roosevelt faction. He campaigned extensively for Depew's re-election in 1904, applauding the incumbent president's legislative effort and "proving invulnerable to the anarchists, socialists, and hoodlum radicals" demanding reform. Backed by the RNC, and possibly in the process of being groomed for committee leadership, Sherman towered over the New York delegation not unlike Depew before him.

New York Democrats, left somewhat in the wilderness following the back-to-back defeats of Dave Hill, turned to the one figure believed to stand a snowball's chance at victory: New York City Mayor George B. McClellan, Jr. Hardly in line with the liberal Bryan sect of the national party (despite serving as Bryan's Assistant Secretary of the Navy), McClellan was a trusted social conservative, a dyed-in-the-wool Tammany Hall favorite, and an advocate for education reform. Upon an agreement to accept the party nomination if offered, McClellan energetically campaigned for Sherman's seat in the Senate. He concentrated heavily on driving up voter participation in his city, often reaching out to Irish and Italian immigrant neighborhoods to request their favor. He also won the endorsements of former Mayor Van Wyck (D-NY) and Democratic Boss Richard Crocker while, by contrast, Sherman failed to garner support by McClellan's mayoral predecessor, Seth Low. The vote was close, but McClellan did manage to topple Sherman and succeed to the Senate. Aside from his defeat on the presidential level, Depew later listed Sherman's loss in this race as one of his greatest political regrets.

On the whole, and especially in regards to the House of Representatives elections, scores of Republican candidates for election and re-election indicated malleability to work with Roosevelt in the off-chance he was indeed elected. Progressively-leaning Republican voters, chiefly made up of middle-class workers and small businessmen, cast their ballots for the war secretary for president, but voted straight ticket Republican otherwise. On the opposing end, Bryan Democrats, who otherwise abandoned Olney to vote for Roosevelt, elsewhere voted Democratic. As such, the House only tilted slightly toward the Republican Party. Speaker Cannon would linger as an overarching force in the House and commanded his Republican delegation as he so pleased, but Minority Leader John Lentz, exhausted from dealings with an antithetical DNC, retired in 1905. Following a rather grueling sparing match for Lentz' position, frontrunner John S. Williams (detested by the Bryanites for his conduct at the St. Louis convention) lost his bid to lesser-known Missouri Representative Champ Clark (D-MO).

Senators Elected in 1904 (Class 1)
Frank Putnam Flint (R-CA): Republican Gain, 61%
Morgan Bulkeley (R-CT): Republican Hold, 67%
George Gray (D-DE): Democratic Hold, 53%
James Taliaferro (D-FL): Democratic Hold, 89%
James A. Hemenway (R-IN): Republican Hold, 59%
Eugene Hale (R-ME): Republican Hold, 72%
Isidor Rayner (D-MD): Democratic Hold, 69%
Henry Cabot Lodge (R-MA): Republican Hold, 68%
Julius C. Burrows (R-MI): Republican Hold, 58%
Moses E. Clapp (R-MN): Republican Gain, 58%
Hernando Money (D-MS): Democratic Hold, Unopposed
Francis Cockrell (D-MO): Democratic Hold, 61%
William A. Clark (D-MT): Democratic Hold, 52%
Richard L. Metcalfe (D-NE): Democratic Hold, 50%
George S. Nixon (R-NV): Republican Hold, 51%
John Kean (R-NJ): Republican Hold, 54%
George B. McClellan, Jr. (D-NY): Democratic Gain, 51%
Porter J. McCumber (R-ND): Republican Hold, 64%
Andrew L. Harris (R-OH): Republican Hold, 53%
Philander C. Knox (R-PA): Republican Hold, 63%
Nelson W. Aldrich (R-RI): Republican Hold, 59%
William B. Bate (D-TN): Democratic Hold, 60%
Charles Allen Culberson (D-TX): Democratic Hold, Unopposed
George Sutherland (R-UT): Republican Hold, 68%
Redfield Proctor (R-VT): Republican Hold, 80%
John W. Daniel (D-VA): Democratic Hold, Unopposed
Samuel H. Piles (R-WA): Republican Hold, 56%
J.F. McGraw (D-WV): Democratic Hold, 51%
Robert M. La Follette (R/P-WI): Republican Hold, 51%
Clarence D. Clark (R-WY): Republican Gain, 56%
Part 4: Chapter XI - Page 68

Theodore Roosevelt, 28th President of the United States - Source: Wiki Commons

Part 4: Lion's Roar

Chapter XI: Birth of the Progressive Era: Rooseveltian America and the Third Party Problem

Once the immediate aftershocks of the presidential election wore off, the disparate political forces in the United States attempted to regain their balance. A joint effort by DNC Chair Thomas Taggart (D-IN) and RNC Chair William McKinley to challenge the results in the three closest states stalled as no evidence emerged of foul play. The cross-over of Bryan Democrats to the Roosevelt Camp appeared to have been the catalyst that allowed the Progressive nominee to squeak by the other two candidates in these states, and although the Depew and Olney campaigns worked tirelessly to discover evidence of voter fraud or illegal collusion with local tellers, there was simply no reasonable case to suspect the vote as illegitimate. An intensive, last ditch effort by the campaigns to influence electors in Ohio also ended in embarrassing and disgraceful failure. It dragged on for weeks, but the Republican-Democratic investigation of the count and their resistance to recognize Roosevelt as the winner eventually faded into grumbled displeasure.

A smattering of relatively neutral figures within the Republican National Committee approached McKinley sometime in December regarding how to treat the president-elect. Led by Representative James Eli Watson (R-IN), this contingent suggested that the party ought to work with Roosevelt as if he were an elected Republican, and perhaps make amends for the ill-fated decision to renominate Depew. McKinley, operating in somewhat of a hive-mind with the Old Guard faction of conservative Republicans, declined Watson's proposal. Along with Senators Foraker, Fairbanks, and Frye, House Majority Whip James A. Tawney (R-MN), and Speaker Joseph Cannon, McKinley reaffirmed the Republican commitment to their traditionalist values and defense of American commerce above all else. He acknowledged the results of the election, and released a public statement accepting the loss, but in private exhibited gratitude for the Progressives' defection and the "purification" of the GOP. McKinley stepped down as chairman in 1905, retiring from public life and allowing for the rise of his successor: Whitelaw Reid.

The headline appearing in the post-election issue of The Commoner, the newspaper published and edited by William J. Bryan, was titled, "The Plutocratic Threat and Roosevelt's Opportunity". The article presented a side-by-side contrast between the activities of the Democratic Party and the Olney Campaign versus Roosevelt and the Progressives. According to this piece (likely written by the former president's brother, Charles W. Bryan), the conservative takeover of his party, exemplified by the adoption of a 'sound money' plank at the convention and the forced nomination of a Cleveland-era Bourbon, practically guaranteed the loss of the American West. "While the campaign was applauded by the eastern press," the article read, "it surely alienated a large number of Democrats of the West and South. The reorganizers, in complete control of the party and the planners of the campaign, led this party to its worse defeat in its lifetime. The Democratic Party, if it hopes to win success, must take the side of the plain, common people." In the ensuing months, Bryan Democrats would begin demanding the resignations of national committee members.

Progressives (and, to an extent, the Socialist Party with its astounding 4.42% of the Popular Vote) were the true winners of the 1904 election. New York notwithstanding, Roosevelt captured every major American city outside of the South, and did so on an unprecedented new party line. This shattering of the old, two party system demonstrated its shaky foundations as well as the urgency many Americans felt regarding breaking the federal government free from its associations with big business. With Roosevelt's victory the country braced itself for a strange new period in political history that neither Bryan, nor Beveridge, had enacted. The Progressive Era had begun.

On March 4th, 1905, Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as president by Chief Justice Melville Fuller at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. Raring to move ahead with his agenda and plot a path forward, the new president delivered a short inaugural address encapsulating some key parts of his platform and lexicon.

Practical equality of opportunity for all citizens, when we achieve it, will have two great results. First, every man will have a fair chance to make of himself all that in him lies; to reach the highest point to which his capacities, unassisted by special privilege of his own and unhampered by the special privilege of others, can carry him, and to get for himself and his family substantially what he has earned. Second, equality of opportunity means that the commonwealth will get from every citizen the highest service of which he is capable. No man who carries the burden of the special privileges of another can give to the commonwealth that service to which it is fairly entitled.
Now there has sprung up a feeling deep in the hearts of the people-not of the bosses and professional politicians, not of the beneficiaries of special privilege-a pervading belief of thinking men that when the majority of the people do in fact, as well as theory, rule, then the servants of the people will come more quickly to answer and obey, not the commands of the special interests, but those of the whole people. Our relations with the other powers of the world are important; but still more important are our relations among ourselves. Such growth in wealth, in population, and in power as this nation has seen during the century and a quarter of its national life is inevitably accompanied by a like growth in the problems which are ever before every nation that rises to greatness. Power invariably means both responsibility and danger. Our forefathers faced certain perils which we have outgrown. We now face other perils, the very existence of which it was impossible that they should foresee.
It is my personal belief that the same kind and degree of control and supervision which should be exercised over public-service corporations should be extended also to combinations which control necessaries of life, such as meat, oil, and coal, or which deal in them on an important scale. I have not doubt that the ordinary man who has control of them is much like ourselves. I have no doubt he would like to do well, but I want to have enough supervision to help him realize that desire to do well. I believe that the officers, and, especially, the directors, of corporations should be held personally responsible when any corporation breaks the law.
We are the heirs of the ages, and yet we have had to pay few of the penalties which in old countries are exacted by the dead hand of a bygone civilization. We have not been obliged to fight for our existence against any alien race; and yet our life has called for the vigor and effort without which the manlier and hardier virtues wither away. Under such conditions it would be our own fault if we failed; and the success which we have had in the past, the success which we confidently believe the future will bring, should cause in us no feeling of vainglory, but rather a deep and abiding realization of all which life has offered us; a full acknowledgment of the responsibility which is ours; and a fixed determination to show that under a free government a mighty people can thrive best, alike as regards the things of the body and the things of the soul.
Theodore Roosvelt, Inaugural Address Excerpt, March 4th, 1904
Part 4: Chapter XI - Page 69

John Hay Walking with Adelbert Hay, March 15th, 1905 - Source: Wiki Commons

During the Grover Cleveland Administration, and those which preceded it, the function of the United States presidency had merely been one of stable stewardship and sensible supervision. Nothing epitomized this clearer than Cleveland's frank aversion to assisting working Americans when the banking establishment collapsed under his watch. Once President Bryan claimed center stage, the role of chief executive finally evolved from a silent and rather submissive doorkeeper into one that spoke to and reacted alongside the general population. He, and Beveridge to a lesser extent, morphed public perception of how a president ought to act and conduct the business of governing. Depew seemed to turn back the clock on this oddity, stepping back from the Bryan period. Should, for instance, either he or Olney have won the 1904 election, history may have looked back on the Bryan-Beveridge stage of as a strange interim. However, Roosevelt won that race, and he was certainly not willing to return to the days of presidential caretakers. As he himself recalled, backing down from the task of utilizing an active presence was not an option. "I did not care a rap for the mere form and show of power; I cared immensely for the use that could be made of the substance."

President Roosevelt conceived a unique method of commanding an executive position, one thoroughly displayed during his time serving as governor of New York. He saw the potential of governing as a limitless vehicle for positive and reactive government working on behalf of the American citizenry. Caring not for party bosses or polite dealings with corporate leaders, Roosevelt wished to offer genuine, concrete solutions for the unaddressed issues facing the country. However, that is not to say he concurred with Bryan's, or for that matter Debs', methodology to bring forth beneficial reform for the suffering masses. He may have viewed himself as a defender of the moral right, but he sharply disapproved of Bryan's 'change from below' ideal and the socialistic call to uproot society altogether. Regardless of the conservative press describing Roosevelt's frantic rhetoric as inciting socialist tendencies, he and the Progressives were far from labor-centric.

The Progressives generally found issue with radical calls to foster a political party for laborers, believing that the duty of manifesting true reform squarely fell with the moralistic, sophisticated, and well-bred (protestant) middle-class. Such a demographic - journalists, lawyers, social workers, mechanics, and craftsmen - composed the central core of the new Progressive Party. They did not appeal to workers, nor did they have any interest in affiliating with labor union organizations. When Roosevelt proclaimed, as he often did in the lead-up to his presidential win, that the country was in crisis, he cited "the depths of an evil plutocracy" as well as a class war instigated "by the mob" as significant threats. The president's proposed reforms, in his own determination, were necessary in order to save the country from unfathomable corporate power on one hand and unbridled socialism on the other.

Upon his move to the Executive Mansion, or as he so affectionately coined it, the White House, Roosevelt was almost instantaneously approached by varied men of finance who pleaded he back down from the Progressive platform. A partner of J.P. Morgan, George W. Perkins, professed to Roosevelt his empathy with "co-operation rather than competition", but quietly instructed him to "do nothing at all, and say nothing except platitudes," regarding trusts and the power of corporations. The novel president listened with amusement, as he did to scores of other businessmen requesting an absence of serious legislation. As anyone who knew Roosevelt could attest, he was not easily swayed on such core principles. The president later wrote, "Perkins might just as well make up his mind that I will not make my message one hair's breadth milder. Perkins simply represented the effort to sit back in the harness. Such effort was worse than useless."

Anticipating a discordant Congress, Roosevelt sought to acquire his preferred selection of political allies in his presidential Cabinet. There were virtually no outright Progressives in the legislature in 1905, so the president desperately needed to appoint men who were capable of securing legislative coadjutors. Vice President Taft, in the aforementioned regard, was an invaluable asset to the Roosevelt Administration. He had ties to dozens of prominent Republican figures and, potentially, could lead an effort to sway certain congressional fence-sitters should resistance arise. George von Lengerke Meyer, a Massachusetts politician and the U.S. Ambassador to Italy under Beveridge, was granted the position of Navy Secretary with a similar belief that he could garner Republican loyalties.

Roosevelt selected, without a second thought, Leonard Wood for War Secretary. He admired Wood's conduct in the Spanish-American War and his advisory service during the Philippines War, and for this was offered the Cabinet position determined most suitable for the major general. Other Progressive figures were appointed as a combined show of gratitude and recognition of their abilities - including PNC official James R. Garfield for Interior Secretary, anti-trust Ninth Circuit Judge Joseph McKenna for Attorney General, and former Iowa Governor L.M. Shaw as Treasury Secretary. He also offered former Mayor Seth Low a position within the Department of the Interior, but he eventually declined.

Insofar as the remaining position was concerned, Roosevelt knew precisely who to award the post to. John Hay, who previously served in this role and guided promising overseas development right up until his resignation, respectfully agreed to once more take up the role as State Secretary. Hay began losing interest in public service after his spat with President Beveridge and, as debated by historians, his health worsened due to work stress. Along with his son, Adelbert, a low-ranking official within the State Department, John Hay enjoyed life as it was, yet eagerly joined Roosevelt during the presidential campaign. He may not have anticipated the offer, but Hay gladly returned to his post. As he wrote, "Barring a surprise execution, I intend on fulfilling my obligation to serve to the end of my usefulness."

The Roosevelt Cabinet

President - Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.
Vice President - William H. Taft
Sec. of State - John M. Hay
Sec. of Treasury - L.M. Shaw
Sec. of War - Leonard Wood
Attorney General - Joseph McKenna
Postmaster General - Frank Harris Hitchcock
Sec. of the Navy - George von Lengerke Meyer
Sec. of Interior - James R. Garfield
Sec. of Agriculture - James Wilson​
Part 4: Chapter XI - Page 70

U.S. House of Representatives in Session, March 17th, 1905 - Source: LoC

In a letter submitted before Congress, the young and ambitious President Roosevelt presented a collection of ideas he deemed imperative for the maintenance of the country. The protracted and sententious message entailed a wide assortment of policy proposals, citing recent studies to further embody their soundness. An overarching theme of these legislative suggestions was a reaction to the material conditions of the late Gilded Age and its many inequalities. The president, wishing to start his reign with a wallop, referred to his demanding domestic program as a "Square Deal for every man."

In the opening of the twentieth century, working men, women and children did not possess the slightest modicum of protection against expansive working hours or sickeningly low wages. Workers also did not have access to safe working conditions, as exemplified through staggering statistics estimating half a million workplace injuries and 30,000 workplace deaths in the United States each year. No other nation came close to such sobering figures. These individuals were not able to collect compensation for workplace casualties, nor could they attain anything resembling unemployment restitution if laid off as a result of an on-site injury. Some workers, on a private basis, negotiated slightly improved contracts with their employers, yet, in the absence of a labor union, an individual worker had no actual power if the owner chose to whisk away conciliated benefits as a cost-saving measure.

These conditions, largely unchanged over the previous decades, drove millions of workers to organize in their respective industries as well as lean away from the prevailing laissez-faire conservatism of the era. Regardless of public support for reform, however, seemingly unbreakable ties between huge businesses and powerful legislators ensured that domestic policy resisted revision. President of the AFL, Samuel Gompers, perhaps the only reputable union chief capable of influencing federal policy on the side of the workers, rejected any notion to involve either himself or the AFL in political action. He continuously and strictly upheld "pure and simple unionism," and forbade AFL-affiliated unions from championing political interference. Regardless of their leader's stance, much of the rank and file AFL membership expressed support for Roosevelt's candidacy in the 1904 presidential election.

President Roosevelt's Square Deal, in part, was meant to address many of the base issues associated with unfettered capitalism. The old, Gilded Age approach to governing was no longer suitable to present day circumstances, and, as the president summarized, time was far overdue for reform. His proposals included pieces of the Progressive platform, in addition to unaddressed segments of previous Republican platforms and Roosevelt's own spur-of-the-moment whims. He favored instituting safer working conditions and limiting daily hours, as well as granting monetary compensation for industrial accidents. Roosevelt also concurred with Bryan over the need to bolster the powers of the Interstate Commerce Commission and grant new supervisory powers to federal "watch dog" boards. The president held nothing back when openly censuring, "the huge monnied men to whom money is the be-all and end-all of existence; to whom the acquisition of untold millions is the supreme goal of life, and who are too often utterly indifferent as to how these millions are obtained." Unless these villainous businesses were vigorously and consistently regulated by the federal government, they would operate contrary to the interests of the American citizenry.

Roosevelt directed his letter primarily to his former colleagues in the Republican Party. He directly challenged them, exclaiming that federal regulation was all that stood to reduce class warfare and stop the accelerating interest in socialism. In setting up an arbitration commission, for example, the pure creation of bureaucratic machinery to solve smaller labor disputes could actively prevent the growth of radicalism (which was the consequence of inaction during the Anthracite Strike). Roosevelt firmly believed that Depew failed in justly responding to the Pennsylvania labor dispute. By not intervening, Depew and reactionary open-shop owners like George Baer had proved the validity of the socialists' claims that the federal government would side against the people in all cases, even when the owners were blatantly in the wrong.

Roosevelt made it clear that he was willing to proceed with arbitration and the recognition of sensible unions led by "reasonable men" like John Mitchell. Unions, he believed, could be responsible partners of business if intervention took place. It was either stable trade unionism, through what he theorized as a fair, multi-member conciliation board, or radical and revolutionary unionism that threatened the entire system. As Civic Federation Attorney Louis D. Brandeis elucidated, the stability of trade unionism would allow leaders like Mitchell the opportunity to gain a stronger understanding of business, which "almost invariably makes the leaders responsible and conservative."

Congressional Republicans did not view President Roosevelt as one of their own, nor had they ever. He was elected on a strange and alien third party ticket, one that robbed the Republican Party of their financial security and national prestige. Roosevelt was a traitor, and they cared nothing for his presidency nor his legacy. "If [Roosevelt] should starve the public of a promising future," one party official wrote, "so be it. He will perish in the inferno he so recklessly lit." Judging by the insinuations of the national committee, they planned to rally support behind a conservative contender in 1908. [...] Reality proved a significant hurdle. As was demonstrated in the election; Roosevelt, as well as his policies, were immensely popular. Otherwise, the candidate would have miserably failed and fallen to obscurity as third party cavaliers tend to do.
Jay R. Morgan, The American Elephant: A Study of the Republican Party, 1980

Once revived from a laughing fit upon receipt of the president's demands, the congressional Republicans responded, in no uncertain terms, that they would not consider enacting Roosevelt's legislation. GOP leadership, conducting themselves in the manner as described above by Morgan, rejected the mere prospect of submitting the proposals for legislative debate. In some ways, the opposition was even fiercer than it was when dealing with Bryan. "Democracy is a known menace and purveyor of financial disruption," Senator John Spooner blasted in a letter to Whitelaw Reid, "but an opportunist and turncoat is a most malicious demon." Spooner, as well as Senators Aldrich and Fairbanks, composed the chief conservative obstruction to Roosevelt in the upper house. In the lower house, Speaker Cannon acted in a similar role.

Even though both Theodore Roosevelt and Joseph Cannon were earnest ideologues of Republicanism, they never could come to terms with the role of the Legislative branch in the American system. While the President professed a belief in curtailing the excesses of corporate hegemony and plutocratic rule, Cannon dismissed it all, top to bottom. The speaker viciously opposed every last point in Roosevelt's Square Deal. Regarding the Progressives' proposal to explore federal land conservation, Cannon surcharged with disgust, "Not one cent for scenery." His unambiguous autocratic control over the House of Representatives meant the likelihood for debate or designating legislative committees on such reformist subjects was microscopic.

The president may have expected a bit more courtesy from his once-allies, but there is little historical evidence to indicate that he believed Congress would budge on these foundational problems. He did not despise the conservatives on a personal level, and especially not so with regards to the more amiable Senator Lodge, but, professionally, he had trouble tolerating their positions. Roosevelt disassociated with this branch of Republicanism at every turn, doing so long before he formally joined the Progressives. Now, as the president himself noted, his deep-rooted suspicion of the "wing of the party governed by the spirit of Hanna," was confirmed. As long as the Republican leadership correlated the present state of affairs with prosperity, compromise was a dead end.

Embedded in this saddening reality was the nature of the third party problem. Should Roosevelt have succeeded in attaining the Republican nomination, congressional Republicans would have little choice but to accommodate their party leader. Progress may have proven possible under these circumstances. In this case, as it was, Roosevelt required an alternative path forward, even if meant burning some bridges to cinders and constructing new ones from scratch.
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If I were to guess (and I am), I'd say that Teddy's best shot at getting his favored legislation through is to broker a coalition of soon-to-be-ex Democrats and Republicans who see the writing on the wall and decide to jump on the Progressive train to keep their seats. All depends on whose seat is under threat, and how many of them are sufficiently mercenary (or more generously, dedicated to the idea of representative government) to jump ship, and that I do not know.

Alternatively I could see an accelerationist tendency happening, where he's repeatedly stymied by Cannon et al, and the left feel the need to protest and go on strike further, and perhaps this pressure convinces enough Congressmen to bend, just enough to get Roosevelt's least repulsive (to them) reform passed. He's then surely tarred with the socialist brush, since conservative Democrats and Republicans would want to crow that he's in league with the radical strikers and mobilized the mob to force his wishes against proper republican government, like a modern-day Caesar. He might indeed see more overt support from leftists too, though he might well try and mobilize the more middle-class base he prefers, to use the same tool of protest and outcry. Even if he's successful at that, though, I think it likely would not match the scale of working-class mass protest in this era, so it again would make it look (to conservatives) like he's turning leftwards and his anti-socialist talk was misdirection.
If I were to guess (and I am), I'd say that Teddy's best shot at getting his favored legislation through is to broker a coalition of soon-to-be-ex Democrats and Republicans who see the writing on the wall and decide to jump on the Progressive train to keep their seats. All depends on whose seat is under threat, and how many of them are sufficiently mercenary (or more generously, dedicated to the idea of representative government) to jump ship, and that I do not know.

Alternatively I could see an accelerationist tendency happening, where he's repeatedly stymied by Cannon et al, and the left feel the need to protest and go on strike further, and perhaps this pressure convinces enough Congressmen to bend, just enough to get Roosevelt's least repulsive (to them) reform passed. He's then surely tarred with the socialist brush, since conservative Democrats and Republicans would want to crow that he's in league with the radical strikers and mobilized the mob to force his wishes against proper republican government, like a modern-day Caesar. He might indeed see more overt support from leftists too, though he might well try and mobilize the more middle-class base he prefers, to use the same tool of protest and outcry. Even if he's successful at that, though, I think it likely would not match the scale of working-class mass protest in this era, so it again would make it look (to conservatives) like he's turning leftwards and his anti-socialist talk was misdirection.

Ooh interesting ideas! I would add that even someone as powerful as Cannon would, at some point, need to reconcile with public demand.
Whether TR has the patience to wait that long, well.. that's another problem, hm?

Deleted member 143777

Sorry to hijack the thread, but does anyone have any recs for leftist America timelines other than this one, Reds! (obviously), and The Glowing Dream?

Deleted member 107125

Debs would definitely not be center-left in modern Europe, he'd probably still be considered far-left. He is an actual socialist and socialism is definitely not center left in Europe. Honestly people over-exaggerate how much further left Europe is, they difference really isn't that large and pretty much only exists on economic issues.
I may be wrong but waan’t Debs a strong advocate of socialism through parliamentary means, which is contrary to the revolutionary ideals generally associated with “far-left” politics?
I may be wrong but waan’t Debs a strong advocate of socialism through parliamentary means, which is contrary to the revolutionary ideals generally associated with “far-left” politics?
Perhaps, but he still advocated for actual worker control of the means of production. Not just an increased welfare state and regulations. As far as I know no one that us considered "center-left" in Europe is seriously advocating for that. Some may have it as some nebulous far off end goal, but no one considered even remotely mainstream is actually attempting to do so or even has a plan on how it would be accomplished.
Part 4: Chapter XI - Page 71

"The Lesson It Teaches," Spencer Political Cartoon, November 18th, 1904 - Source: LoC

The Democratic Party found itself in a rather curious dilemma upon the election of Theodore Roosevelt to the presidency. By the time Chief Justice Fuller administered the oath of office to the Progressive exemplar, it had become overwhelmingly certain which Democratic denomination legitimately held the reigns. Senator Richard Olney's startling defeat to the hero of San Juan Hill in that three-way race exemplified the might and influence wielded by the Bryan Democrats and their titular leader. In complying with the former president's endorsement of the Progressive platform, the Bryanites expertly disproved the myth of Bourbon competence. Now, the mantle fell to the excluded Bryan Democrats to assert their dominance.

Having been nationally discredited in the wake of the election, Democratic reorganizers began to resign en masse from the central committee. Key figures in the reactionary movement survived the exodus, like staunch conservatives Senators Joseph Bailey (D-TX) and John Daniel (D-VA), but, once more, they were confined to the minority. DNC Chair Thomas Taggart voluntary resigned in December of 1904, thereby allowing for Cleveland Mayor Tom L. Johnson (D-OH) to fulfill the duties of party chairman. The Kentucky-born mayor, an unalterable reformist and anti-monopolist, symbolized the grand return of the left-leaning faction of Democrats to party leadership. Upon the confirmation of the vote, Johnson promptly stripped David Hill and John Williams of their prominent committee assignments and released a biting statement condemning their "irrefutably undemocratic and suspect engagements during the 1904 DNC in forcing Olney's nomination. Hill and Williams each retired in disgrace, with the latter defeated in 1906 for his House seat.

William J. Bryan, indisputably the leader of the Democratic Party in the post-1904 period, corresponded with Johnson during these leadership spars, crafting new techniques for the party in the process. Among these was a request to unite the non-Bourbon elements of the party in a joint-effort alongside the burgeoning Progressives. "If there is a lesson to be drawn from this last election," Bryan publicly purported, "it is that our struggle is one in the same. The people's voice rejects the plutocrats, it rejects the monopolists, and it rejects the corrupt policies represented by the reactionaries. In 1900, the Democratic platform read that, 'a private monopoly is indefensible and intolerable.' That ticket won over 6.5 million votes. In 1904, that proclamation, and others like it, were striped bare. The total votes under that conservative mantra were fewer than 5 million. There is no chance for a conservative Democratic Party. [...] Roosevelt has the ire of plutocracy, as do I. In order to cull the dictatorial rule of trusts in the government, and enshrine the right of the people to rule, we must find areas of commonality and respond to the country's evident demand for reforms."

Southern Democrats, an integral part to the national party, were more receptive to Bryan's plea than one may expect. They were no revolutionists, overtly disapproving of Bryan's latest proposals for public ownership of railroads and disregarding the Socialists' anti-capitalist plea, but they were not all conservatives. Despite maliciously tearing away the rights of Southern black voters, these politicians applauded an assortment of socio-economic reforms not unlike the new president. Dixie reformers like Governor Jeff Davis (D-AR), a populist leader and avid white supremacist, indeed advocated for Roosevelt's crusade to dismantle the powers of trusts and corporations and vastly supported the Progressive position on federal infrastructure projects, the protection of union organizers, education reform, and the implementation of the progressive income tax.

Especially once Bryan Democracy returned to the forefront of the party, but too throughout the preceding decade, Democrats in the Southern states sounded far more like President Bryan than President Cleveland. Representatives of the wealthy planter class were gradually overshadowed by a new class of politicians resembling the heyday of Populism. The aforementioned Arkansas governor belonged to this league, as had the recently elected firebrand Mississippian Governor James K. Vardaman (D-MS), textile worker advocate Representative Coleman Blease (D-SC), former Populist Representative Thomas E. Watson (D-GA), co-owner of the Raleigh News & Observer Josephus Daniels (D-NC), and 'Godfather of Demagoguery' Senator Benjamin Tillman. These anchors for anti-plutocracy fought out of a sense of extreme resentment for the economic elite and industrial titans of the North, sometimes allying themselves with militant unionists when many early Progressives would have turned away.

Chairman Tom Johnson corralled this field to lead his mission for progressive reform, paying little mind to their explicitly racist views. Johnson and Bryan deliberately ignored their deplorable racism in order to concentrate solely on the more agreeable portions of Southern populism. As long as the theoretical legislation did not threaten to reduce the powers of local and state control of racial affairs and deliver that authority to D.C., the new Democratic leadership understood that most non-Bourbon Southerners were onboard. Therein lied the golden opportunity, for both Bryan and Roosevelt, to achieve their respective goals.

The Revolt in the Congress. President Roosevelt's Square Deal was met with antipathy by Republican lawmakers as the Speaker of the House, Joseph Cannon, denied the will of the people to be heard in the legislature. Cannon, the ultimate determiner of House agenda, maintained party discipline as increasingly impassioned demands from the chief executive piled up. Mass derision by the Democrats in Congress ensued, with Minority Leader Champ Clark proving an unlikely ally of the once-Republican Roosevelt. New York Congressman William Sulzer, cheered on by Mr. Clark and President Roosevelt, guided the bipartisan 225-man coalition in outright rebellion against the dictatorial House Speaker.
Mr. Sulzer forcibly introduced a resolution to withdraw the Speaker from the all-important House Rules Committee and strip him of his committee assignment powers - a move which served to effectively eliminate Cannon's iron rule. Outnumbered and caught off-guard, Cannon's League of Stalwarts could not withstand the appeal, and it was adopted by the day's end. Realizing his abasement, Cannon slyly requested a vote to remove him from the Speakership, confident he would win. Congress complied. To Cannon's utter shock, they voted in favor of removal. "Sometimes in politics one must duel with skunks," Cannon later remarked, "but no one should be fool enough to allow skunks to choose the weapons."
Once the smoke cleared, 37 of the 60 young Republican insurgents who partook in Sulzer's coalition formally disaffiliated from the Republicans and joined with the Columbian Party. Seven Democrats did the same. Moderate Republican Thomas S. Butler, the father of Major General Smedley Butler, rose as the new Speaker. Although not an admirer of Roosevelt, Butler gracefully adhered to the swelling tide of reform and allowed each and every Square Deal proposal to come before the floor.
Robert Porter, Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressives, Released 1996
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