United States presidential election, 1904: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1900 United States 1908
United States presidential election, 1904
November 8, 1904
President Theodore Roosevelt, 1904.jpg AltonBParker.png
Nominee Theodore Roosevelt Alton B. Parker
Party Republican Democratic
Home state New York New York
Running mate Charles W. Fairbanks Henry G. Davis
Electoral vote 336 140
States carried 32 13
Popular vote 7,630,457 5,083,880
Percentage 56.4% 37.6%
Presidential election results map. Blue denotes states won by Parker/Davis, Red denotes those won by Roosevelt/Fairbanks. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.

Incumbent President
Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt

The United States presidential election of 1904 was held on November 8, 1904. The Republican Party unanimously nominated incumbent President Theodore Roosevelt for president at their 1904 national convention. Roosevelt had succeeded to the Presidency upon William McKinley's assassination. During the election campaign, Roosevelt called on the voters to support his "square deal" policies. The nominee of the Democratic Party was Alton B. Parker, Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals, who appealed for an end to what he called "rule of individual caprice" and "usurpation of authority" by the president.

Theodore Roosevelt easily won a term of his own, thus becoming the first "accidental" president to do so. Roosevelt won 56.4% of the popular vote; this, and his popular vote margin of 18.8%, were the largest recorded between James Monroe's uncontested re-election in 1820 and the election of Warren G. Harding in 1920. Roosevelt won the election by more than 2 1/2 million popular votes. No earlier president had won by so large a margin.




Republican Party nomination

Republican candidates:

Candidates gallery

Roosevelt/Fairbanks campaign poster

As Republicans convened in Chicago in June 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt's nomination was assured. President Roosevelt effectively maneuvered throughout 1902 and 1903 to gain control of the party and ensure his renomination in 1904. A dump-Roosevelt movement had centered around the candidacy of Senator Mark Hanna of Ohio, but Hanna's death earlier in the year had removed this obstacle. Hanna's death in February 1904 ended any real opposition to Roosevelt within the GOP. Roosevelt's nomination speech was delivered by former governor Frank S. Black of New York and seconded by Senator Albert Beveridge of Indiana. Roosevelt was nominated unanimously on the first ballot with 994 votes.

Since conservatives in the Republican Party denounced Theodore Roosevelt as a radical, they were allowed to choose the vice-presidential candidate. Senator Charles W. Fairbanks of Indiana was the obvious choice, since conservatives thought highly of him yet he managed not to offend the party's more progressive elements. Roosevelt was far from pleased with the idea of Fairbanks for vice president. He would have preferred Representative Robert R. Hitt of Illinois, but he did not consider the vice-presidential nomination worth a fight. With solid support from New York, Pennsylvania, and Indiana, Fairbanks was easily placed on the 1904 Republican ticket in order to appease the Old Guard.

The Republican platform insisted on maintenance of the protective tariff, called for increased foreign trade, pledged to uphold the gold standard, favored expansion of the merchant marine, promoted a strong navy, and praised in detail Roosevelt's foreign and domestic policy.

Presidential Ballot
Ballot 1st
Theodore Roosevelt 994

Source: US President - R Convention. Our Campaigns. (September 9, 2009).

Vice Presidential Ballot
Ballot 1st
Charles W. Fairbanks 994

Source: US Vice President - R Convention. Our Campaigns. (September 9, 2009).

Democratic Party nomination

Democratic candidates:

Candidates gallery

Parker/Davis campaign poster

In 1904, both William Jennings Bryan and former President Grover Cleveland declined to run for president. The Republican Party had nominated Roosevelt to succeed himself; the Democrats knew that he was colorful and popular with the people; it was felt that only a good man could defeat a good man. The Democrat best qualified for this task was Alton B. Parker, a Bourbon Democrat from New York.

Parker was the Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals and was respected by both Democrats and Republicans in his state. On several occasions, the Republicans paid Parker the honor of running no one against him when he ran for various political positions. Parker refused to work actively for the nomination but did nothing to restrain his conservative supporters, among them the sachems of Tammany Hall. Former President Grover Cleveland endorsed Parker.

The Democratic Convention that met in Saint Louis on July 6, 1904, has been called "one of the most exciting and sensational in the history of the Democratic Party." The struggle inside the Democratic Party over the nomination was to prove as exciting as the election itself. Though Parker had been out of active politics for twenty years, had neither enemies nor errors to make him unavailable, a bitter battle was waged against Parker by the more radical wing of the party in the months before the convention. Despite the fact that Parker had supported Bryan in 1896 and 1900, Bryan hated him for being a Gold Democrat. Bryan wanted the weakest man nominated, one who could not take the control of the party away from him; he denounced Parker as a tool of Wall Street.

Inheriting Bryan's support was publisher, now congressman, William Randolph Hearst of California. Hearst owned eight newspapers, all of them friendly to labor, vigorous in their trust-busting activities, fighting the cause of the people who worked for a living. Because of this liberalism, Hearst had the Illinois delegation pledged to him, and the promise of several other states. The prospect of having Hearst for a candidate so frightened conservative Democrats that they renewed their efforts to get Parker nominated on the first ballot.

At 81, Henry G. Davis was the oldest major party candidate ever nominated for national office

With the exception of the Bryan and Hearst backers, everyone called for Parker. So great was the feeling of unanimity that he received 658 votes on the first roll call, nine short of the necessary two thirds. Before the result could be announced, twenty-one more votes were transferred to Parker; the nomination was his. Parker handily won the nomination on the first ballot with 679 votes to 181 for Hearst and the rest scattered. Former Senator Henry G. Davis of West Virginia was nominated for vice president; at 81, he was the oldest major party candidate ever nominated for national office. Davis had received the nomination because it was believed he could swing his state. Davis had an honorable career in politics, was also a millionaire mine owner, railroad magnate, and banker.

Parker sprang into action when he learned that the Democratic platform pointedly omitted reference to the monetary issue. To make his position clear, Parker, after his nomination, informed the convention by letter that he supported the gold standard. The letter read, “I regard the gold standard as firmly and irrevocably established and shall act accordingly if the action of the convention today shall be ratified by the people. As the platform is silent on the subject, my view should be made known to the convention, and if it is proved to be unsatisfactory to the majority, I request you to decline the nomination for me at once, so that another may be nominated before adjournment.”

It was the first time a candidate had made such a move. It was an act of daring that might have lost him the nomination, made him an outcast from the party he had served and believed in all his life.[1]

The Democratic platform called for reduction in government expenditures and a congressional investigation of the executive departments "already known to teem with corruption," condemned monopolies and pledged an end to government contracts with companies violating antitrust laws, opposed imperialism and insisted upon independence for the Philippines, and opposed the protective tariff. It favored strict enforcement of the eight-hour work day, construction of a Panama Canal, the direct election of senators, statehood for the western territories, and extermination of polygamy, reciprocal trade agreements, cuts in the army, and enforcement of the civil service laws. It condemned the Roosevelt administration in general as "spasmodic, erratic, sensational, spectacular, and arbitrary."[2]

The Balloting
Presidential Ballot Vice Presidential Ballot
Alton B. Parker 679 Henry G. Davis 654
William Randolph Hearst 181 James R. Williams 165
Francis M. Cockrell 42 George Turner 100
Richard Olney 38 William A. Harris 58
Edward C. Wall 27 Abstaining 23
George Gray 12
John S. Williams 8
Robert E. Pattison 4
George B. McClellan, Jr. 3
Nelson A. Miles 3
Charles A. Towne 2
Bird Sim Coler 1

Source: Keating Holland, "All the Votes... Really," CNN [1]

Socialist Party nomination

Debs/Hanford campaign poster

The Election of 1904 was the first election in which the Socialist Party participated. The Socialist Party of America was a highly factionalized coalition of local parties based in industrial cities and usually was rooted in ethnic communities, especially German and Finnish. It also had some support in old Populist rural and mining areas in the West. Prominent socialist Eugene Victor Debs was nominated for President and Benjamin Hanford was nominated for Vice President.

General election


The campaigning done by both parties was much milder than it had been in 1896 and 1900. The campaign season was pervaded by good will and it went a long way toward mending the damage done by the previous class-war elections. This was due to the fact that Parker and Roosevelt, with the exception of charisma, were so similar. So close were the two candidates that few differences could be detected. Both men were for the gold standard; though the Democrats were more outspokenly against imperialism, both believed in fair treatment for the Filipinos and eventual liberation; and both believed that labor unions had the same rights as individuals before the courts. The radicals in the Democratic Party denounced Parker as a conservative; the conservatives in the Republican Party denounced Theodore Roosevelt as a radical. People were heard to say that Parker should have been the Republican nominee, Roosevelt should have been the Democratic nominee.

During the campaign, there were a couple of instances where Roosevelt was vulnerable. First, Joseph Pulitzer's New York World carried a full page story about alleged corruption in the Bureau of Corporations. President Roosevelt admitted certain payments had been made, but denied any "blackmail." Secondly, in appointing George B. Cortelyou as his campaign manager, Roosevelt had purposely used Parker's former secretary of commerce because Cortelyou, knowing the secrets of the corporations, could extract large contributions from them. The charge created quite a stir and in later years was proven to be sound. In 1907, it was disclosed that the insurance companies had contributed rather too heavily to the Roosevelt campaign; that Roosevelt himself, only a week before the election, had called E. H. Harriman, the railroad king, to Washington to ask him to raise funds to carry New York state. Even though the charge was true, the issue didn't have traction and Parker carried only the traditionally Democratic Solid South.


"The Mysterious Stranger" – A political cartoon showing Missouri having left the Solid South by voting Republican.

Theodore Roosevelt won in a landslide, taking every Northern and Western state. He also picked up Missouri.

Presidential candidate Party Home state Popular vote Electoral
Running mate Running mate's
home state
Running mate's
electoral vote
Count Pct
Theodore Roosevelt Republican New York 7,630,457 56.4% 336 Charles Warren Fairbanks Indiana 336
Alton Brooks Parker Democratic New York 5,083,880 37.6% 140 Henry Gassaway Davis West Virginia 140
Eugene Victor Debs Socialist Indiana 402,810 3.0% 0 Benjamin Hanford New York 0
Silas Comfort Swallow Prohibition Pennsylvania 259,102 1.9% 0 George W. Carroll Texas 0
Thomas Edward Watson Populist Georgia 114,070 0.8% 0 Thomas Henry Tibbles Nebraska 0
Charles Hunter Corregan Socialist Labor New York 33,454 0.2% 0 William Wesley Cox Illinois 0
Other 1,229 0.0% Other
Total 13,525,002 100% 476 476
Needed to win 239 239

Source (Popular Vote): Leip, David. 1904 Presidential Election Results. Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections (July 28, 2005).Source (Electoral Vote): Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996. Official website of the National Archives. (July 31, 2005).

See also


  1. ^ They Also Ran
  2. ^ William DeGregorio, The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents, Gramercy 1997

Further reading

  • Blum, John Morton (1954). The Republican Roosevelt. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.   Series of essays that examine how Roosevelt did politics.
  • Gould, Lewis L. (1991). The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0700604359.  
  • Harbaugh, William Henry (1961). Power and Responsibility: The Life and Times of Theodore Roosevelt. New York: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy.  
  • Morris, Edmund (2001). Theodore Rex. New York: Random House. ISBN 0394555090.   Biography of Roosevelt during the years 1901–1909.

External links


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address