PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & ELECTIONS
OVERVIEWS & CHRONOLOGIES: 1916
By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS
Election Year: 1916
Election Day Date: November 7, 1916
- Woodrow Wilson, Thomas Marshall, Democratic, 9,126,868, 49.24% 277, 52.2%
- Charles Hughes, Charles Fairbanks, Republican 8,548,728, 46.12% 254, 47.8%
- Allan Benson, George Kirkpatrick, Socialist 590,524 3.19% 0 0.0%
- James Hanly, Ira Landrith, Prohibition 221,302 1.19% 0 0.0%
- Other (+) – – 49,163 0.27% 0 0.0%
Voter Turnout: 61.6%
Central Forums/Campaign Methods for Addressing Voters:
Stumping, speeches, rallies, pamphlets
Election Law/Campaign Finance Changes:
- Presidential primary laws passed in 25 states.
- Uneventful 1916 Republican primary race halted the growth of some the Progressive electoral reforms; initiative, referendum, and recall, as did disappointment in the results of some of the reforms.
Incumbent President and Vice President on Election Day:
Woodrow Wilson, Thomas R Marshall, Democratic, 1913-1921
Population: 1916: 101,961,000
GDP: 145 Nominal GDP (billions of dollars): $49.6 Real GDP (billions of 2005 dollars): $647.7 GDP Deflator (index 2005=100%) 7.66 Population (in thousands): 101,961 Nominal GDP per capita (current dollars): $487 Real GDP per capita (year 2005 dollars): $6,353
Number of Daily Newspapers: 2,441 (1920)
Average Daily Circulation: 33,028,630 (1920)
Method of Choosing Electors: Popular vote (mostly General Ticket/Winner Take All)
Method of Choosing Nominees: National Party Convention, Political machines, bosses, early period (1901-1916) of primaries
Central Issues (Nomination/Primaries):
- World War I; neutrality; sympathy for the allied forces (British and French) but the majority of Americans wanted to remain out of the war
- Economic slump, rebound
Leading Candidates (Nomination/Primaries):
Democratic Party candidate:
- Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States (New Jersey)
Republican Party candidates:
- Charles E. Hughes, U.S. Supreme Court Justice and former Governor of New York
- John W. Weeks, U.S. senator (Massachusetts)
- Elihu Root, former U.S. senator (New York
- Charles W. Fairbanks, former Vice President of the United States (Indiana)
- Theodore Roosevelt, Former President (New York)
- William Howard Taft, Former President (Ohio)
- Robert M. La Follette, Sr. Senator (Wisconsin)
Main Controversies (Nomination/Primaries):
- Republican Party’s internal divisions;
Campaign Innovations (Nomination/Primaries):
Major Personalities (Nomination/Primaries):
Theodore Roosevelt; William Howard Taft; Elihu Root
- Democratic 20, 53.5% delegates
- Republican 20, 58.9% delegates
Democratic Party (July 1, 1916)
- Woodrow Wilson(I) 1,188,978, 98.78%
- Robert G. Ross 9,417, 0.78%
- Henry Ford 3,284, 0.27%
- Others 896, 0.07%
- James Beauchamp “Champ” Clark 802, 0.07%
- William Jennings Bryan 282, 0.02%
- Judson Harmon 31, 0.00%
- James E. Campbell 27 0.00%
Republican Party (July 1, 1916)
- Unpledged 455,765 23.60%
- Martin G. Brumbaugh 233,100 12.07%
- Albert B. Cummins 191,951 9.94%
- Charles Warren Fairbanks 176,080 9.12%
- Lawrence Yates Sherman 155,945 8.07%
- Robert Marion La Follette 133,476 6.91%
- Henry Ford 131,965 6.83%
- Theodore Elijah Burton 122,1696.32%
- Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt 83,739 4.34%
- Charles Evans Hughes 82,530 4.27%
- William Alden Smith 77,872 4.03%
- Henry D. Estabrook 30,676 1.59%
- William Grant Webster 17,927 0.93%
- Others 15,064 0.78%
Third Party Candidates and Nominations:
Progressive Party (May 20, 1916)
- Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt 5,410 72.09%
- Others 2,075 27.65%
- Charles Evans Hughes 10 0.13%
- Lawrence Yates Sherman 10 0.13%
Socialist Party (May 16, 1916)
- Allan Louis Benson 5,750 80.65%
- Arthur LeSueur 1,156 16.21%
- Others 191 2.68%
- Eugene Victor Debs 33 0.46%
Turning Points (Nomination/Primaries):
- Still split from 1912, Republicans sought a candidate to appeal to both factions. Roosevelt tried to reunite the party and recapture the nomination
- “It seems to me very clear that, as a member of the Supreme Court, I have no right to be a candidate, either openly or passively.” Charles Evan Hughes
Conventions (Dates & Locations):
- Democratic National Convention: June 14-16, 1916, Convention Hall; Saint Louis Ollie M. James (Kentucky) 1st ballot, Woodrow Wilson (New Jersey) Thomas R. Marshall, (Indiana)
- Republican National Convention: June 7-10, 1916, Chicago Coliseum; Chicago 3rd ballot, Charles Evans Hughes (New York), Charles W. Fairbanks (Indiana)
Convention Turning Points:
Democratic National Convention:
- Americanism and national unity planned themes, America as a World power
- Convention emphasized peace and neutrality: “He kept us out of the war”
- Wilson replaced William McCombs as the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee/Convention with Vance McCormick
- Wilson supported a more Progressive platform.
Republican National Convention:
- Progressive Republicans supported Roosevelt for the nomination. His name was entered on the ballot, causing a demonstration and calls to “Throw him out!”
- Leading candidates: conservative Senator Elihu Root of New York, liberal Senator John W. Weeks of Massachusetts
- Roosevelt was still strong enough to prevent Elihu Root’s nomination, because as Republican National Convention chairman in 1912, Root orchestrated Taft’s renomination
- Charles Evans Hughes, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court from New York, was nominated on the third ballot as the compromise candidate with William Howard Taft’s support.
- Charles Fairbanks, Roosevelt’s Vice President renominated for VP.
Number of Ballots to Choose Nominees:
Democratic Party Nomination
2 delegates/state/member of Congress; 1,093 delegates and alternates.
- Woodrow Wilson nominated without a roll call; only one delegate objecting
- Thomas R. Marshall unanimously
Republican Party nomination
Presidential 3rd ballot
- Charles E. Hughes 253 326 950
- John W. Weeks 105 102 2
- Elihu Root 103 89 9
- Charles Fairbanks 89 75 7
- Albert Cummins 85 77 2
- Theodore Roosevelt 81 65 19
- Theodore Burton 78 69 9
- Lawrence Sherman 66 59 5
- Philander Knox 36 30 6
- Henry Ford 32 29 9
- Martin Brumbaugh 29 22 2
- Robert M. La Follette, Sr. 25 25 23
- William Howard Taft 14 4 0
- Thomas C. DuPont 7 13 6
- Henry Cabot Lodge 7 2 0
- John Wanamaker 5 1 1
- Frank Willis 1 2 2
- William Borah 2 0 2
- Warren G. Harding 1 0 1
- Samuel W. McCall 0 1 1
- Leonard Wood 0 1 1
Third Party Candidates & Nominations:
Progressive Party Nomination:
- Met simultaneously as the Republican Convention
- Renominated former President Theodore Roosevelt, who declined the nomination and supported Republican candidate Charles Hughes
- Roosevelt returned to the Republican Party. He knew he could not win as a third- party candidate and would be again dividing the Republicans and guaranteeing Wilson’s victory.
- Roosevelt considered Wilson too passive amid German bullying.
- The party fell apart without Roosevelt
- Presidential, Allan Louis Benson
- First time Eugene Debs did not lead the Socialist Party in an election
Convention Keynote Speaker:
Nominating Speech Speakers (President):
- Democratic Party: Peace and neutrality: military preparedness; progressive reforms (tariffs, banking, labor, agriculture) women’s suffrage (voted from the floor: minority plank wanted to leave the decision to individual states, defeated 888 ½ to 181 ½.)
- Republican Party: Women’s suffrage (decision of individual states); Equal rights for women (separate plank); stronger national defense, tariff commission; natural resources conservation. Condemned the Wilson administration’s interference in Mexico.
General Election Controversies/Issues:
International affairs; Neutrality, World War I;
Campaign Innovations (General Election):
- Much patriotic imagery in the campaign, reflecting the patriotic backlash against immigrants in general and Germans in particular during the war
- Wilson campaigned little, worked on social legislation, avoided a national railroad strike, emphasized peace and neutrality; Front porch speeches at Shadow Lawn as election day neared;
- Republicans, led by their Director of Publicity, Robert W. Woolley, depicted Woodrow Wilson as the great protector of the American home, using colorful posters and slogans such as “HE HAS PROTECTED ME AND MINE.”
- Hughes also did not actively campaign much; inept campaign manager William R. Willcox; difficulty finding an issue to attack Wilson
Major Personalities (General Election):
Republican Governor of California Hiram Johnson; William R. Willcox
Turning Points (General Election):
- Hughes failed to call on California’s popular Progressive Republican governor, Hiram Johnson, when both stayed at the same hotel in Long Beach, California. Apparently Hughes did not know Johnson was there.
- Despite many other tensions between the two and their warring factions, many blamed the backlash against the supposed snub when Hughes lost California – and the election — by under 4000 votes.
- On September 29, Wilson sent an aggressive telegram to Jeremiah O’Leary, a pro-German, anti-British Irish leader, who had demanded Wilson clarify his position on the war. “I would be deeply mortified to have you or anybody like you vote for me,” Wilson wired back. “Since you have access to many disloyal Americans and I have not, I will ask you to convey this message to them.” Wilson’s jingoism electrified Americans, fueling the growing backlash against “hyphenate Americas.”
Popular Campaign Slogans:
- Democratic Party: Woodrow Wilson “He kept us out of war”
Influential Campaign Appeals or Ads:
- Democratic Party: “The Lesson is Plain: If You Want WAR, vote for HUGHES! If You Want Peace With Honor, VOTE FOR WILSON!”
Money Spent (Each Campaign/Party/Overall):
Defining Quotation (Winning Candidate):
- “I am not expecting this country to get into war. I know that the way in which we have preserved the peace is objected to, and that certain gentlemen say they would have taken some other way that would inevitably have resulted in war, but I am not expecting this country to get into war, partly because I am not expecting these gentlemen to have a chance to make a mess of it.” Woodrow Wilson, October 21, 1916
- “We have been neutral not only because it was the fixed and traditional policy of the United States to stand aloof from the politics of Europe and because we had had no part either of action or of policy in the influences which brought on the present war, but also because it was manifestly our duty to prevent, if it were possible, the indefinite extension of the fires of hate and desolation kindled by that terrible conflict and seek to serve mankind by reserving cur strength and our resources for the anxious and difficult days of restoration and healing which must follow, when peace will have to build its house anew.” Woodrow Wilson, Address at Sea Girt, New Jersey Accepting the Democratic Nomination for President, September 2, 1916
- “I am inclined to follow the course suggested by a friend of mine who says . . . never to murder a man who is committing suicide.” Woodrow Wilson on his reluctance to attack Charles Hughes
Defining Quotation (Losing Candidate):
- “If I had known that Johnson was in the hotel, I would have seen him if I had been obliged to kick the door down.” Charles Evan Hughes after the election about his supposed snub of Hiram Johnson. l
- “The people as a whole are heartily tired of me and of my views.” Theodore Roosevelt
- “I agree with the American people in thanking God we have a President who has kept — who will keep — us out of war.” William Jennings Bryan
- Hughes led in the Eastern and Midwestern states early on election night, newspapers were declaring Hughes the President but Wilson refused to concede
- One of the closest electoral votes in history; Wilson, 30 states, 277 electoral votes; Hughes, 18 states, 254 electoral votes
- Legend: Hughes went to bed believing he had won the election; in the morning a reporter called to get Hughes’ reaction to Wilson win and comeback, either his son or valet responded “the President is sleeping.” The reporter replied, “When he wakes up, tell him he isn’t the President anymore.”
Significant books about the campaign:
- Lovell, S. D. The Presidential Election of 1916. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1980.
Lasting Legacy of Campaign:
- Woodrow Wilson was the only Democrat to win the Presidency in the fourth party system (1896-1932)
- Vice President Thomas R. Marshall first Vice President reelected since John C. Calhoun in 1828
- First ticket to remain intact and win reelection and serve two terms since Monroe and Tompkins
- Wilson only the second candidate to win the election without winning his home state
- Woodrow Wilson, won reelection with the smallest percentage margin, 3.1% until George W. Bush in 2004, 2.5%)
- Wilson was the only President re-elected with fewer electoral votes than his first election victory
- October 3, 1913: “President Wilson signs the Underwood-Simmons Tariff Act, considerably reducing tariff rates set by previous Republican administrations.”
- October 14, 1914: President Wilson signs into law the Clayton Anti-trust Act. “The law advances the third leg corporate regulation of his “New Freedom” program. The law strengthens the original Sherman Anti-trust Act of 1890 by prohibiting exclusive sales contracts, predatory pricing, rebates, inter-corporate stock holdings, and interlocking directorates in corporations capitalized at $1 million or more in the same area of business. The act restricts the use of the injunction against labor, and it legalizes peaceful strikes, picketing, and boycotts.”
- November 3, 1914: Mid-Term Elections: “Democrats gain five seats in the Senate giving them a 56-40 majority. Democrats lose 61 seats in the House, but still maintain a 230-196 majority, nine seats are held by minor parties.”
- May 7, 1915: A German U-Boat torpedoes the British passenger liner Lusitania off the coast of Ireland. “The American public recoils at the loss of 1,198 civilians, including 114 Americans. The Wilson administration issues a fiery response to Germany, holding that nation responsible for the loss of American lives and the violation of American neutrality. Eager to keep the United States at bay, Berlin promptly expresses its regret but claims that the British were illegally smuggling arms aboard the ship.”
- June 7, 1915: “William Jennings Bryan resigns as secretary of state in protest over the Wilson administration’s handling of the Lusitania sinking. Bryan thinks Wilson is acting too boldly and calls on him to take a more moderate approach, banning American travel on belligerents’ ships. Wilson names Robert Lansing acting secretary of state.”
- July 21, 1915: “A third Lusitania note is dispatched to Germany, warning the nation that any consequent violation of American rights would be viewed as “deliberately unfriendly.””
- 1912-1916: Presidential primary laws are passed in 25 states.
- 1916: Uneventful 1916 Republican primary race halts the growth of some the Progressive electoral reforms; initiative, referendum, and recall, as did disappointment in the results of some of the reforms.
- March 11, 1916: Socialist Party Convention nominates Allan Louis Benson for President. It is the first time Eugene Debs does not lead the Socialist Party in an election.
- April 3-May 20, 1916: Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt wins the Progressive party primaries.
- May 3, 1916: Socialist Labor Party Convention nominates Arthur Elmer Reimer for President.
- May 5, 1916: “Germany issues the “Sussex Pledge” after a U-Boat sinks another passenger ship, the French liner Sussex, without warning on April 24. Following protests from Washington about German unrestricted submarine attacks, the German government promises not to sink any more merchant ships without prior warning and without time for passengers and crew to abandon ship.”
- May 16, 1916: Socialist Party Primaries endorse Allan Louis Benson.
- June 3, 1916: “Congress passes the National Defense Act in response to deteriorating relations between Germany and the United States. The act bolsters the standing Army to 175,000 and the National Guard to 450,000.”
- July 1, 1916: End Democratic Party Primaries, Woodrow Wilson wins
- July 1, 1916: End Republican Party Primaries, Unpledged
- June 7-10, 1916: Republican National Convention convenes at the Chicago Coliseum in Chicago Illinois, nominates on the 3rd ballot, Charles Evans Hughes (New York) for President, and Charles W. Fairbanks (Indiana) for Vice President. Progressive Republicans support Roosevelt for the nomination. His name is entered on the ballot, which causes a demonstration and calls to “Throw him out!” Leading candidates are conservative Senator Elihu Root of New York, and liberal Senator John W. Weeks of Massachusetts; Roosevelt is still strong enough to prevent Elihu Root’s nomination, because as Republican National Convention chairman in 1912, Root orchestrated Taft’s renomination. Charles Evans Hughes, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court from New Yorkis nominated on the third ballot as the compromise candidate with William Howard Taft’s support. Charles Fairbanks, Roosevelt’s Vice President is nominated for Vice President.
- June 10, 1916: Progressive Party Convention convenes, no nominee emerges from the convention. The Progressive Party meets simultaneously as the Republican Convention, and renominates former President Theodore Roosevelt, who declines the nomination and instead supports Republican candidate Charles Hughes.
- June 14-16, 1916: Democratic National Convention convenes at Convention Hall in Saint Louis, Missouri. Ollie M. James (Kentucky) serves as chairman. The convention nominates on the 1st ballot Woodrow Wilson (New Jersey) for President, and Thomas R. Marshall (Indiana) for Vice President. The Convention’s themes emphasize peace and neutrality: “He kept us out of the war”; Wilson replaces William McCombs as the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee/Convention with Vance McCormick. Wilson supports a more Progressive platform.
- July 21, 1916: Prohibition Party Convention nominates James Frank Hanly for President.
- June 23, 1916: Roosevelt writes a letter declining the Progressive nomination, by urging Progressives to unit with the Republican Party and support Hughes for President, claims it is the only way to defeat Wilson in the election.
- July 25, 1916: Anti-Masonic Party Convention nominates/endorses Charles Evans Hughes for President.
- August 1916: Hughes fails to call on California’s popular Progressive Republican governor, Hiram Johnson, when both stay at the same hotel in Long Beach, California. Apparently, Hughes is not aware that Johnson is staying there.
- September 2, 1916: Woodrow Wilson gives an address at Sea Girt, New Jersey accepting the Democratic Nomination for President.
- September 29, 1916: “Wilson sent an aggressive telegram to Jeremiah O’Leary, a pro-German, anti-British Irish leader, who had demanded Wilson clarify his position on the war. “I would be deeply mortified to have you or anybody like you vote for me,” Wilson wired back. “Since you have access to many disloyal Americans and I have not, I will ask you to convey this message to them.” Wilson’s jingoism electrified Americans, fueling the growing backlash against “hyphenate Americas.””
- September-October 1904: Wilson gives Front porch speeches at Shadow Lawn as election day neared.
- September 19, 1916: National Democratic headquarters announces that Wilson will give his forst campaign address on Saturday, September 23, at 3 o’clock at Shadow Lawn, Long Branch. Wilson decides to give very few campaign addresses in the fall.
- September 23, 1916: Wilson gives his first campaign speech at Shadow Lawn, Long Branch.
- September 26, 1916: “SEABURY TO SEE WILSON.” Conference at Shadow Lawn, Wilson campaign announces Wilson will give a campaign address in Chicago.
- October 5, 1916: Wilson begins a speaking tour of the mid-west, addresses Omaha.
- October 12, 1916: Wilson addresses Indianapolis.
- October 13, 1916: “WILSON TO ATTACK REPUBLICANS TODAY; Will Talk to a Great Delegation from Pennsylvania at Shadow Lawn. READS REPORT ON U-BOAT His Reception in Indianapolis Showed His Personal Popularity in the Hoosier State.” President Wilson returned to Shadow Lawn from Indianapolis shortly after 2 o’clock this afternoon. It was announced today that he had decided to speak in Buffalo on Oct. 30, and in New York City on Oct. 31. Both speeches, in accordance with the policy marked out at the beginning of the campaign, will be before non-partisan organizations.” (NYT)
- October 19, 1916: Wilson speaks in Chicago.
- October 30, 1916: Wilson speaks in Buffalo.
- October 28, 1916: “President Wilson spoke at Shadow Lawn today to an audience of at least 15,000 persons. He accused the Republican Party of endangering the counsels of the nation “to settle a family, quarrel” and and held up to ridicule their “gyrations” on the tariff question and the “disappearance” of issues which they raised earlier in the campaign.”
- October 31, 1916: Wilson speaks in New York City.
- November 7, 1916: Election Day, Democrat Woodrow Wilson is reelected President, and Thomas R. Marshall is reelected Vice President. Despite many other tensions between Hughes and Johnson and their warring factions, many Republicans blamed the backlash against the supposed snub when Hughes lost California – and the election — by under 4000 votes.
- January 8, 1917: Presidential Electors cast the electoral vote in their state capitols.