By 1904 our nation had already held twenty-five elections. The American people wanted a president with character, integrity, and tenacity. In the election of 1904, there were six presidential candidates, but through the party conventions and campaign activities only two candidates received a substantial amount of attention. The issues driving this election included expanding the merchant marines, beefing up the navy, the protective tariff, and protecting the gold standard. One candidate easily won the nation's votes by clearly showing values as well as having an excellent foreign and domestic policy.
The six presidential candidates running were: Republican Theodore Roosevelt, Democrat Alton Parker, Socialist Eugene Debs, Prohibitionist Silas Swallow, Populist Thomas Watson, and Socialist Laborer Charles Corregan. (3) Theodore Roosevelt became Vice President in the 1900 election, and with the assassination of William Mckinley in 1901, Roosevelt became an "accidental" president. (1) If Roosevelt won in the 1904 election, he would become the first president to be elected after an "accidental" term. (1) He was a writer, naturalist and soldier who loved his country. At the time of the election, Alton Parker was the Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals. (4) Parker's motive was to end the rapid mind changing and corruption of power, what he called the "rule of individual caprice" and "usurpation of authority" by the president. (4) Eugene Debs, the Socialist, ran for president five times and never won once. He did, however, eventually receive recognition for being one of the best known socialists, a founding father of the International Labor Union and Industrial Workers of the World. Silas Swallow was the Prohibition Party's candidate, for president as well as having been Mayor of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a state legislator, the state treasurer, and Governor of Pennsylvania. Thomas Watson, the Populist, became an extreme anti-Semite and anti-Catholic crusader, as well as an advocate for the reorganization of the Ku Klux Klan. Even though he didn't win the presidential election, two years before dying Watson was elected as a U.S. Senator. The Social Labor party candidate was Charles Corregan, an American printer and politician. The number of candidates is a reflection of how there were more issues in the United States, and new parties were created to address the issues important to those candidates.
During the campaign of 1904, the two parties that received the most attention were the Democratic and Republican parties. Both parties had very separate platforms, but the candidates were much alike in their views. The Republican platform focused on making sure American jobs were secure by upholding the protective tariff. (1) Republicans wanted to expand the merchant marine and concentrate on a strong navy. (1) Theodore Roosevelt was praised for his foreign and domestic policy that carried over from his previous experience in the oval office. (1) The Democratic platform wanted the federal government to spend less money, and they claimed extensive corruption in the executive branch. (2) They wanted stronger laws against monopolies and to keep the federal government from continuing the protective tariff. (1) This platform was also opposed to imperialism and wanted independence for the Philippines. (1) They wanted the government to regulate work shifts (down to eight hours) , favored construction of the Panama Canal, senators to be directly elected, the Western territories to become states, cuts in the department of defense, and the extermination of polygamy. (1)
During the presidential campaign the candidates were so much alike, except for Roosevelt being more charismatic than his competitor, that voters could not tell them apart. At campaign debates, both candidates argued the same points. (2) Both believed in the gold standard, in fair treatment for Filipinos and eventual liberation for their territory, as well as giving labor unions the same rights as individuals before the courts. (1) Roosevelt did step out and ask his voters to support him in his "Square Deal" policies, a domestic program formed upon four basic ideas: conservation, regulating business monopolies, enforcing the Anti-Trust Act, and supporting progressive ideals. (1) While gaining support for his "square deal" policies, it was realized that Roosevelt could make change through what he believed was right. (2)
In the end, Theodore Roosevelt easily won the nation's votes by clearly showing values as well as having a foreign and domestic policy. (3) He became the 26th President of the United States with 2,500,000 more votes than Parker, which was the first time any candidate had ever won with such a land slide. (3) During his presidential career, he secured the route for and began construction on the Panama Canal, and won the Nobel Peace Prize for mediating an end to the Russo-Japanese War. (2) Some people view President Roosevelt as one of the greatest presidents to have run our nation. Reflections of his accomplishments can still be seen today in our gorgeous national parks and in the constant utilization of the Panama Canal.
1. Gould, Lewis, and N. Kura. American presidents of the 20th century. Nova Science Pub Inc, 2000. Print.
2. Morris, Edmund. Theodore Rex. Random House Inc, 2001. Print.
3. Leip, David. "1904 Presidential General Election Results. " National Election Results. 2005. David Leip, Web. 6 Dec 2009. <http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/national.php?year=1904>.
4. Cunniff, M.G. Alton Brooks Parker: The Probable Democratic Candicate for President. The World's Work: A History of Our Time. 8 vols. 1904. Print.