Robert La Follette doesn't know his presidential chances are dead, Theodore Roosevelt is still not saying whether he'll run, President Taft bolsters his family's standing with the Catholic Church, and William Jennings Bryan automobile gossip! Previously in The 1912 Project...
La Follette Doesn't Know When to Quit Following his evisceration in the papers over the weekend for a speech condemning newspapers in Philadelphia, Sen. Robert La Follette seems to be the only person who doesn't think his chances of being president are dead, dead, dead. His campaign issued a statement that the candidate is suspending his activities, maybe even taking a friend's advice to take a six-week cruise through the Mediterranean, but would not be withdrawing from the race: "Senator La Follette finds it necessary to take a few weeks' rest. This may prevent his making speeches in the State which are to hold early primaries, and his friends in those States will make such campaign for him as in their judgment will best serve the progressive principles which his candidacy represents." And there is one person that La Follette, sick in the head or not, is sure does not serve those principles: Theodore Roosevelt. The New York Times reported that La Follette had ignored his advisers counsel to sit out 1912 and wait to run again in 1916, when he would be 61. The paper added, "But La Follette put all that aside. He declared with the old La Follette ring that his was a fight for principles and not for office. He did not expect to get the nomination himself this year. He was laboring for a cause and he was the best and truest representative of that cause." (Note the heavy use of past tense.) "In other words he was a better Progressive than Roosevelt and the Statesman from Sagamore Hill would not make the same kind of stand for the true principles that he would."
But in The New York Times today, this defense of principle is translated as simple stubborness. It begins its report: "Increasingly strong representations yesterday and today of the embarrassment he is causing his friends and the Progressive campaign have failed to move Senator La Follette a peg from his determination to leave his name as a Presidential candidate before the country... The truth of the whole situation is that the progressive movement, as an insurrection against the Adminstration, is drifting aimlessly about without head or goal." But they do give La Follette a rare chance to speak for himself: "I have been a the standard bearer of principles, not individuals. No possible change in circumstances can change the great issues for which I have found and will continue to fight. I can enlist in the ranks of no man unless he adopt publicly in binding terms the true principles of progressive government by the people."
Roosevelt Still Silent Speaking of Roosevelt's public remarks, The New York Times calls the clamor for the former President to get into the race, "the boom of the Sphinx of Oyster Bay" because he refuses to say whether he wants to run. It's not a mystery, but it does make for playful exchanges with reporters. At the bottom of a report titled, "ROOSEVELT MUST LEAD PROGRESSIVES," is this brief interview:
Now Wilson Meets the Press Former Princeton president Woodrow Wilson is no dummy. After La Follette's bad outing in front of the Periodical Publishers's Association, the Democratic candidate addressed the New Jersey Editorial Writers' Association at Trenton's Hotel Windsor. (La Follette had been scheduled to speak to the group, too, but it was one of the engagements cancelled due to his poor health.) He seems to have learned his lessons well in Philadelphia. The Trenton True American does not carry any of his speech, but it has this brief recap:
William Jennings Bryan Buys a Car First off, apparently The New York Times had a gossip column in 1912. It was about cars, but there it is labeled clearly: "Gossip of the Automobilists and Notes of the Trade." And in this week's edition, we learn that William Jennings Bryan, populist of Nebraska, hero of Free Silver, and "one time hope of Democracy," is also something of a car buff.
According to the sales brochure, such a number would run the candidate $1,100, plus $90 if he opted for the "silk mohair top complete with side curtains and dust cover." But we have to admit it looks like a sweet ride.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.