July 02, 1912

Theodore Roosevelt on the “Treacherous Injustice at Chicago” and His New Bull Moose Party

Typed Letter Signed
1 page
SMC 1257
According to his lights, he had won the primaries, and ought to have then taken the nomination: but Taft had the Republican establishment – and the party, if not the people, choose the incumbent President, by 21 votes, instead of the insurgent Roosevelt as its candidate in 1912. So Roosevelt simply carried the fight outside Chicago’s Coliseum and into the streets. He would form a new party, the Progressive Party, and it would nominate him, in August, as its candidate for president. When asked how he was feeling, Roosevelt said, “like a bull moose,” – thus giving the new party a nickname. In this letter to his old Harvard classmate, Roosevelt, having just bolted the Republicans and a scant few weeks away from becoming the standard bearer for the Progressives, takes stock:

I do not think it possible to put the word "Republican" into the new name. It would alienate many democrats from us. It is just as you say, the outcome depends as to whether the men who revolt at the mean and treacherous injustice at Chicago, will feel their sense of indignation stronger or weaker as time goes on. If the indignation is a straw fire, then we shall lose, and it will speak badly for our people. I hope that the reverse will be true.

Roosevelt trounced Taft in the 1912 election – but lost to Wilson. The Progressive Party, like Roosevelt himself, never contended in another election.
Typed Letter Signed (“T. Roosevelt”), with three autograph emendations, 1 page, quarto, The Outlook, 287 Fourth Avenue, New York [New York], July 2, 1912. To Bradley Gilman in Massachusetts.
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