In the 1912 presidential election, former President Theodore Roosevelt was denied the Republican nomination for president, despite having won nine out of the twelve primary elections. But the power of the party bosses was still too strong in 1912 and they selected incumbent President William Howard Taft as their standard bearer, a man that Roosevelt had hand picked as his successor. In response, Roosevelt bolted from the party and formed the Progressive or Bull Moose Party to win back the White House. In a raucous three way race that also included Democratic candidate Woodrow Wilson, Taft and Roosevelt split the Republican vote, installing Wilson in the Oval Office.
New Book: On January 11, 2016, W.W. Norton & Company will release Geoffrey Cowan’s new book, “Let the People Rule: Theodore Roosevelt and the Birth of the Presidential Primary,” in which he tells the story of the contentious 1912 presidential election, one full of biting insults by all three candidates.