Congress in the Archives will feature monthly staff posts on our blog. Today’s post comes from Jessie Kratz.
The 1912 presidential election was a three-way contest among former President Theodore Roosevelt for the Progressive (Bull Moose) Party, New Jersey Governor Woodrow Wilson for the Democratic Party, and incumbent President William Howard Taft for the Republican Party. As the election neared, Taft, who had given no major campaign speeches in the months leading up to the election, was living up to the moniker that Roosevelt had given him in September - “a dead cock in the pit.” Despite his lackluster campaign performance, Taft’s campaign managers continued to argue that he was still a contender in the race. They even announced a prediction for the election outcome: Taft would win with 280 electoral votes. In this cartoon, published just weeks before Election Day in the Washington Evening Star, the Democratic donkey and the Bull Moose are shown laughing hysterically. In the general election, held on November 5, 1912, Taft gained a mere eight electoral votes compared with Roosevelt, who gained 88 and Wilson—the winner—who gained 435.
G.O.P Bulletin by Clifford Berryman, Washington Evening Star, 10/18/1912, U.S. Senate Collection (ARC 6040976)
After Theodore Roosevelt won the 1904 election, he stated that he would not be a candidate for President again. However, as the sitting President of the party, he had a strong influence over who the Republicans would nominate in 1908.
William Howard Taft, a close political friend of Roosevelt’s, received the nomination on the first ballot. This stickpin from the archives of the Truman Presidential Library features a portrait photograph of William Howard Taft.
President Kennedy throws the first pitch of the 1961 baseball season at Griffith Stadium, Washington, D.C. 4/10/1961
Griffith Stadium hosted every POTUS from William Howard Taft to JFK before it was demolished in 1965. Taft was a baseball fan and initiated the tradition of the Presidential first pitch at Griffith Stadium. As the home of The Washington Senators, the stadium featured a presidential box behind first base.
Also seen in this photo are Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson; Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota; Special Assistant to the President Dave Powers; majority owner of the Washington Senators franchise General Elwood R. “Pete” Quesada; Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen of Illinois; Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Abraham Ribicoff; Associate Press Secretary Andrew Hatcher; Secret Service Agents Gerald “Jerry” Behn and John J. “Muggsy” O’Leary.
Eighty-three years ago this week Herbert Hoover was inaugurated as the 31st President of the United States on March 4, 1929.
The basic facts are well known: it was a rainy day; the major topics of Hoover’s inaugural address were foreign policy and Prohibition; Chief Justice (and former-President)William Howard Taft muffed the oath of office.
However, for a detailed, behind-the-scenes view of the event, the official Report of the Inaugural Committee is a treasure trove of information. Read more
Pictured here, the 1929 Inaugural Program; Inaugural photo of President Hoover and Vice President Charles Curtis.
Thanks Tumblrs, for pointing out our wonky math in this post! We’ve corrected the number of years.
Useful facts via Prologue: Pieces of History:
- President William Taft was the last POTUS to sport facial hair (note his finely curled mustache in the pictured cartoon).
- Taft weighed 340 pounds and stood almost six feet tall.
- As president he had a bathtub specially made for him due to his size. The bathtub was 7 feet 1 inch long, 41 inches wide, and weighed one ton.
- Taft is the only president to have served on the Supreme Court. He administered the Oath of Office to Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover
- Yesterday, September 15, was his birthday (1857). Happy Birthday President Taft!
If you’re wondering why Taft is outside of the usual suspects on Our Presidents, here’s why.