Teddy Roosevelt is one of our historically highly-rated, most well-known, and beloved American presidents. Stories about him in and out of the White House abound. Since we’re now in the midst of another hotly-contested presidential election season, it is interesting to look back at how TR, as he preferred to be called, approached his own campaigns. Was electioneering really so different 100+ years ago?
In a word - NO. Remove modern technology from the equation, and you find some surprising – and some humorous – similarities. Teddy Roosevelt first campaigned in 1900, as running mate to Republican presidential nominee William McKinley. He couldn’t have known he would actually become our 26th president shortly thereafter, when McKinley was assassinated. He worked so hard in support of McKinley, one columnist reportedly said, “Tis Teddy alone that’s running, an’ he ain’t a running, he’s gallopin’.”
SIMPLE AND ELEGANTLY DESIGNED FISH PLATE FROM THE TEDDY ROOSEVELT OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA COLLECTION - MANUFACTURED BY WEDGWOOD - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION.
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Name calling – a hallmark of current campaigning – was prevalent back then, too. Mark Hanna, a political rival within TR’s own Republican Party, called Teddy “that damned cowboy.” During the 1904 presidential election, the Democrats billed themselves as the “sane and safe choice.” Conversely, they described Roosevelt’s administration as “spasmodic, erratic, sensational, spectacular and arbitrary.”
CAMPAIGN FINANCE. Teddy raised more than $2 million from wealthy industrialists and Wall Street financiers like J.P. Morgan. Reportedly this group said they would rather see an “unpredictable head of a predictable party” in the White House than a “predictable head of an unpredictable party.”
PRESIDENT THEODORE ROOSEVELT'S ORNATELY CRAFTED
1902 STERLING SILVER CASE, MONOGRAMMED "TR 1902" - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION.
THE ART OF EXPEDIENT DEAL-MAKING. To secure support from more conservative Republicans, Teddy made a trade. He promised to downplay his progressive domestic agenda if they would allow him to follow his own lead in foreign affairs. When he used his “bully pulpit” to promote regulation of big business, the conservatives insisted that TR tone it down. However, as a campaign tactic shortly before the 1904 Republican convention, Roosevelt defiantly issued an executive order giving pensions to all veterans between 62-67 years old.
Ironically, it was deal-making that caused Teddy to split from the Republicans and form his own Progressive Party. Having decided to make another run for the White House against his former protégé William H. Taft, Roosevelt arrived at the convention with more delegates than Taft. But Taft’s people refused to recognize their credentials. Teddy was irate and walked out, along with his followers. He later told them at their own convention, “We stand at Armageddon, and we battle for the Lord.”
THEODORE ROOSEVELT’S EXQUISITE
STERLING SILVER TEA CADDY - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION.
Even key platform issues haven’t changed much. Roosevelt campaigned for economic opportunity and political justice, a national health service and a minimum wage for women. Woodrow Wilson, running against Teddy in 1912, campaigned for corporate campaign spending limits and banking and currency reform.
ONE MAJOR DIFFERENCE. Although Teddy had campaigned long and hard on behalf of McKinley, he did not actively participate in his own campaign to become president in 1904. In those days, presidential candidates did not do that. It’s difficult to imagine today’s nominees sitting on the sidelines while their respective vice-presidential candidates did all the work to win over voters.
World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of scarce or rare pieces of official White House China. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical artifacts has been his sole focus for more than 35 years. Mr. Amyx's collection is the largest privately-owned collection of extremely high-quality, as well as the rarest, Official White House China and Presidential China in the world. If you would like to engage in a discussion with Mr. Amyx about White House China, please contact him through the button below.