Saturday, June 23, 2012

Today -100: June 23, 1912: Your steam roller had exceeded the speed limit

Right before the Republican convention was scheduled to vote on the presidential nomination, Henry Allen of Kansas read out a statement from Theodore Roosevelt which said that since the RNC had, “by the so-called steam-roller methods, and with scandalous disregard of every principle of elementary honesty and decency,” stolen delegates and “substitute[d] a dishonest for an honest majority,” making “the convention in no proper sense any longer a Republican convention representing the real Republican party. Therefore I hope the men elected as Roosevelt delegates will now decline to vote on any matter before the convention. I do not release any delegate from his honorable obligation to vote for me if he votes at all, but under the actual conditions I hope that he will not vote at all. ... Any man nominated by the convention as now constituted would be merely the beneficiary of this successful fraud; it would be deeply discreditable to any man to accept the convention’s nomination under these circumstances; and any man thus accepting it would have no claim to the support of any Republican on party grounds, and would have forfeited the right to ask the support of any honest man of any party on moral grounds.” Allen continued (I’m not sure if this is still TR’s statement), “we decided that your steam roller had exceeded the speed limit.” “You accuse us of being radical. Gentlemen, let me tell you that no radical in the ranks of radicalism ever did so radical a thing as to come to a national convention of the great Republican party and secure through fraud the nomination of a man that they know could not be elected.”

Taft was officially and alliteratively nominated by Ohio’s ex-Lt. Gov. Warren G. Harding: “I have heard men arrogate to themselves the title of ‘Progressive Republicans,’ seemingly forgetting that progression is the first essential to Republican fellowship... Progression is not proclamation nor palaver. It is not pretense nor play on prejudice. It is not of personal pronouns, nor perennial pronouncement. It is not the perturbation of a people passion-wrought, nor a promise proposed.” Taft is in fact “the greatest Progressive of his time,” said Harding, to the accompaniment of “hisses, hoots, groans, and boos”. Later in the speech Harding accused TR of “pap rather than patriotism” and elevated Taft to the “party pantheon.”

Almost 1/3 of the delegates abstained from voting (including 20 of the 22 from California). Taft won the nomination by a narrow majority (561). 107 of the Roosevelt delegates felt honor-bound to honor their instructions or primary voters and vote for TR, but most (344) sat on their hands. The convention then re-nominated James Schoolcraft Sherman as VP, the first time a sitting VP had been re-nominated in 80 years, even though Sherman was dying of Bright’s disease and everyone knew it (Spoiler alert: he will die just before the election).

A platform is adopted.

Taft gives the NYT a statement that his, um, victory means the constitution has been saved. Evidently he sees this as purely a defeat of the idea of judicial recall. “All over this country patriotic people to-night are breathing more freely, that a most serious menace to our republican institutions has been averted.”

Roosevelt delegates hold a rump convention and nominate Roosevelt for president. He accepts, but says he’d step aside if the new party, once it is organized and holds a proper convention, decides to choose someone else, like that could happen. A lot of speeches use the phrase “Thou Shalt Not Steal” and the most popular word is “fraudulent.” The convention will meet again tomorrow. Says Gov. Hiram Johnson, “I know it is Sunday, but our work is holy work.”

Headline of the Day -100: “Hamburg Has a Talking Cat.”

Allegedly, an anarchist tries to poison King Victor Emmanuel of Italy’s trout. The cook tasted the dish and dropped dead.

The US Secret Service plans to adopt guns that fire gas that blinds and chokes people.

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