Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October 1912

In October 1912, as the presidential campaign enters its final weeks, Theodore Roosevelt is shot on his way to a speech in Milwaukee.  The vice president, a candidate for reelection as President Taft's running mate, suddenly dies of kidney disease.  President Grover Cleveland's widow announces her engagement (it will be 56 years before another president's widow remarries) and the Red Sox win the World Series.  In world news, one war ends and another begins, both involving the Ottoman Empire.


Roosevelt Campaigning in Milwaukee Before the Shooting

The 1912 presidential campaign took a dramatic turn as it entered its final weeks.  At about eight o'clock in the evening of October 14, in front of the Hotel Gilpatrick in Milwaukee, former President Roosevelt was shot as he was entering an automobile to go to the auditorium to deliver a campaign speech.  The would-be assassin approached Roosevelt and fired once at close range.  He was identified as John Schrank, a New York City saloon-keeper, who objected to Roosevelt's bid for a third term.  Schrank had been stalking Roosevelt for some time, following him from Charleston to Atlanta to Chicago and several cities in between before catching up with him in Milwaukee.  The bullet entered Roosevelt's right breast, its force diminished by striking Roosevelt's glasses case and the manuscript of the speech he was about to deliver.  Albert Martin, one of Roosevelt's secretaries who was accompanying Roosevelt, jumped on Schrank and knocked him to the ground, preventing a second shot.  As Schrank was pulled to his feet, the angry crowd pushed forward with cries of "Lynch him, kill him!"  Roosevelt raised his hand and called for the crowd to stand back, saying he was unhurt.  Only after Roosevelt was in in the automobile on his way to the auditorium was it noticed that there was a hole in his coat and blood on his shirt.  His doctor, who was in the automobile with him, wanted him to return to the hotel, but Roosevelt insisted on proceeding to the auditorium and delivering his speech, which began with the dramatic announcement that he had just been shot.  Opening his coat and showing the audience his blood-stained shirt, Roosevelt boasted that "it takes more than that to kill a bull moose!" and proceeded to speak for approximately an hour.  After speaking, he was taken to a hospital where it was determined that the bullet had lodged in the chest wall and had not entered the lung.  He was given medical clearance to travel to Chicago, his next destination.  After a few days in a Chicago hospital he returned to his home at Oyster Bay, New York.  He gave no more speeches until October 30 when he addressed a crowd of 16,000 at Madison Square Garden.  He was greeted affectionately by the partisan audience, but seemed subdued in his delivery, showing the strain of his recent injury.

Wilson at Madison Square Garden, October 31, 1912

Woodrow Wilson also resumed his campaign at the end of the month, having suspended it while Roosevelt was recovering from his wound.  The day after Roosevelt's appearance he also mounted the stage at Madison Square Garden, where he was given an enthusiastic welcome.  He was accompanied by William Sulzer and Martin Glynn, the Democratic candidates for New York governor and lieutenant governor, respectively.

 "Parramatta," President Taft's Summer Home

President Taft spent most of the month at his summer home in Beverly, Massachusetts, where for the last two years he has rented "Parramatta" from Mrs. Henry Peabody.  He left Beverly to return to Washington on October 26.  He did not entirely neglect his campaign for reelection, making a brief visit to New York City  and several speeches in the New England area while staying in Beverly.  In a setback to Taft's campaign, the California Supreme Court ruled on October 3 that the names of his electors could not be on the ballot in that state as Republicans, since electors pledged to Roosevelt had won the Republican primary.

Vice President James S. Sherman

The month ended with the death of one of the major party nominees.  Vice President James S. Sherman, the Republican Party's nominee for reelection, died on October 30 of Bright's Disease.  "Sunny Jim" Sherman, a former member of the House of Representatives from Utica, New York, was elected to the vice presidency in 1908 as President Taft's running mate.  Because there is no constitutional provision for filling a vacancy in the office of vice president, it will remain open until the new term for the president and vice president begins on March 4.  It is expected that the Republican Party will designate another person as its nominee for vice president some time before the electoral college meets in January.

Launching Ceremony of the U.S.S. New York

On October 30, the battleship U.S.S. New York (BB-34) was launched at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.  She is the sister ship of U.S.S. Texas (BB-35), which was launched May 18, 1912 at Newport News, Virginia.

Becker (center, head down) on his way to Sing Sing's Death Row

Lieutenant Charles Becker of the New York City Police Department was tried and convicted this month of first degree murder in the death of the mobster Herbert Rosenthal.  On October 30, Justice John W. Goff sentenced him to die in the electric chair.  After his sentencing, he was taken back across the "Bridge of Sighs" to the Tombs, and from there transported to death row in the state penitentiary at Sing Sing.  His execution is scheduled to take place the week of December 9.  He continues to protest his innocence, and has appealed his conviction.

The 1912 Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox won the 1912 World Series, four games to three.  The series, pitting the Red Sox against the New York Giants, got under way at the Polo Grounds on October 8 and ended at Fenway Park on October 16.  It took eight games to decide the winner: the second game ended in a 6-6 tie when it was called after eleven innings on account of darkness.  The series pitted two of the greatest pitchers in the game against each other: the Giants' Christy Mathewson and the Red Sox's "Smoky Joe" Wood, who ended the regular season with a 34-5 record and an earned run average of 1.91.  In the final game, the Giants had a one run lead in the bottom of the tenth when Clyde Engel, pinch-hitting for Wood, hit an easy fly ball to center field.  Giants center fielder Fred Snodgrass dropped the ball and the Red Sox went on to score two runs to win the game.

Ziegfeld Follies of 1912

The Ziegfeld Follies of 1912 opened this month at the Moulin Rouge Theatre in New York.  One of the hit songs from the show is "Row, Row, Row" (click to play):


Frances Folsom at the Time of Her Marriage to President Cleveland

Frances Folsom Cleveland, the widow of former President Grover Cleveland, has announced her engagement.  She will marry Thomas J. Preston, Jr., a professor of archaeology at Wells College.  Mrs. Cleveland was only 21 years old when she married the president in the White House in 1885.  They had five children, one of whom, "Baby" Ruth Cleveland, died in 1904.

Thomas Fortune Ryan Out for a Stroll

 On October 2, the Senate committee investigating political contributions received a complete list of contributions to the 1904 Republican campaign to reelect President Roosevelt, including $150,000 contributed by J.P. Morgan & Co.  Roosevelt has issued a statement in which he asserts that campaign contributions did not purchase any favors or special treatment.  On the other side of the political divide, Thomas Fortune Ryan, the transportation, tobacco and insurance magnate, testified on October 21 that he contributed $450,000 to Democratic candidates that year.  This year Ryan was a Virginia delegate to the Democratic national convention, where William Jennings Bryan denounced him by name, along with J. P. Morgan and August Belmont, as a member of "the privilege-hunting or favor-seeking class."


 Turkish and Italian Delegations at the Signing of the Treaty of Lausanne

The Ottoman Empire and Italy have agreed to peace terms ending the Italo-Turkish War.  Under the terms of the Treaty of Lausanne, Turkey will retain nominal sovereignty of Libya, but it will withdraw its troops and consult the Italian government concerning the appointment of administrative officials.  In return, Italy will withdraw its troops from Rhodes and the other Aegean islands it occupied during the war.

The New and Former Grand Vizier

The end of its war with Italy will not bring peace to the Ottoman Empire.  As the ink was still drying on the Treaty of Lausanne, another war involving the Empire broke out in the Balkans.  The weakness of the Empire having just been demonstrated in north Africa and the Mediterranean, the Balkan countries saw an opportunity to achieve their long-standing goal of evicting Turkey from Europe and decided to take action.  Montenegro declared war on October 8, followed on October 17 by the other members of the Balkan League: Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia.  At month's end, the Bulgarian army inflicted a crushing defeat on the Turks near Adrianople.  Grand Vizier Muchtar Pasha resigned and was replaced by former Grand Vizier Kiamil Pasha.


Felix Diaz

On October 16 Felix Diaz, a nephew of deposed Mexican president Porfirio Diaz, raised the standard of revolt in Veracruz against the government of Francisco Madero.  It was a short-lived rebellion: government forces captured the city and Diaz himself on October 23, and on October 27 he was sentenced to death.  This is far from the end of attempts to overthrow the Madero government, however, as rebellions led by Emiliano Zapata, Pascual  Orozco and others continue throughout Mexico.

October 1912 – Selected Sources and Recommended Reading
Contemporary Records and Periodicals:
American Review of Reviews, November and December 1912
Literary Digest, November 2, 1912
New York Times, October 1912

Books and Articles:
Matthew Algeo, The President Is a Sick Man
James Chace, 1912: Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft & Debs -- the Election That Changed the Country
Lewis L. Gould, Four Hats in the Ring: The 1912 Election and the Birth of Modern American Politics
Lewis L. Gould, The William Howard Taft Presidency
Edmund Morris, Colonel Roosevelt
Patricia O'Toole, When Trumpets Call: Theodore Roosevelt After the White House
Henry F. Pringle, The Life and Times of William Howard Taft