The U.S. Presidential Elections of 1908-1912

52028-2 (2 CDs)  | $ 36.00


Note: Original CD set is Sold Out; you will receive a CDR Version

Scholars routinely observe that the advent of radio reshaped political speech from the impassioned pleas bellowed to thousands, to conversations among intimates in the quiet of the living room. But for more than a decade before the first commercial radio broadcast station was inagurated in Pittsburgh in 1920, citizens in their living rooms, drawing rooms and parlors had been listening to candidate speeches. This feat was made possible by the phonograph.

-- From the Introduction by Kathleen Hall Jamieson

CD 1 (79:18)
Lincoln, Nebraska, July 21, 1908 - Recorded by the Victor Talking Machine Company
2.Popular Election Of Senators4:07
3.The Tariff Question4:03
4.Guaranty Of Bank Deposits3:54
5.The Labor Question3:50
6.The Railroad Question3:11
7.The Trust Question3:55
8.Publication Of Campaign Contributions3:45
Lincoln, Nebraska, May, 1908 - Recorded on cylinder by the Edison Company
9.Swollen Fortunes2:12
New York, New York, September 14, 1908 - Recorded by the Columbia Phonograph Company
10.Mr. Taft's Borrowed Plumes3:55
Hot Springs, Virginia, August 5, 1908 - Recorded by the Victor Talking Machine Company
11.The Republican Party Stands By Mr. Roosevelt 3:13
12.Our Army And Navy2:37
13.Postal Savings Banks3:34
14.The Rise And Progress Of The Negro1:52
15.Democratic Policy Prevents Restoration Of Prosperity3:17
16.Labor And Its Rights3:03
17.The Farmer And The Republican Party2:17
18.Irish Humor3:21
19.The Effect Of Proposed Jury Trial In Contempt Cases2:25
20.Our Foreign Dependencies2:46
21.Foreign Missions3:15
22.What Constitutes An Unlawful Trust3:19
23.Functions Of The Next Administration3:56
Hot Springs, Virginia, August 27, 1908 - Recorded by the Columbia Phonograph Company
24.Republican Responsibility And Performance; Democratic Responsibility And Failure3:34
CD 2 (76:57)
New York, September 24, 1912 - Recorded by the Victor Talking Machine Company
1.Woodrow Wilson On The Third Party2:54
2.Woodrow Wilson On The Trusts3:45
3.Woodrow Wilson To The Farmers3:54
4.Democratic Principles4:03
5.Woodrow Wilson On Labor3:43
6.Woodrow Wilson On The Tariff3:48
Oyster Bay, New York, c. August, 1912 - Recorded on cylinder by the Edison Company
7.The Progressive Covenant With The People3:30
8.The Right Of The People To Rule4:20
9.The Farmer And The Business Man4:28
10.Social And Industrial Justice3:56
Emporia, Kansas, September 22, 1912 - Recorded by the Victor Talking Machine Company
11.The Liberty Of The People3:44
12.Mr. Roosevelt Pays His Respects To Penrose And Archbold3:34
13.The "Abyssinian Treatment" Of Standard Oil3:29
14.Why The Trusts And Bosses Oppose The Progressive Party3:56
15.The Farmer And The Business Man4:27
Beverly, Massachusetts, October 1, 1912 - Recorded by the Victor Talking Machine Company
16.President Taft On Prosperity2:07
18.President Taft On A Protective Tariff2:30
19.Who Are The People?3:21
20.The Anti-Trust Law3:18
21.President Taft Discusses Labor And Capital2:56
22.Popular Unrest2:31


The U.S. Presidential Campaigns of 1908 and 1912

The Reshaping of American Political Communication


Scholars routinely observe that the advent of radio reshaped political speech from the impassioned pleas bellowed to thousands, to conversations among intimates in the quiet of the living room. But for more than a decade before the first commercial radio broadcast station was inaugurated in Pittsburgh in 1920, citizens in their living rooms, drawing rooms, and parlors had been listening to candidate speeches. This feat was made possible by the phonograph.

Beginning at the turn of the twentieth century, phonographers captured speeches for the public and posterity. Defined by Webster’s in 1909 as “An instrument for mechanically recording and reproducing human speech and other sounds,”1 “phonographs” permitted voters to listen to campaign appeals at their leisure. At this time, there were three major manufacturers of recording devices utilizing two different types of technology: a vertical-cut machine which played wax cylinders and a lateral-cut machine which played flat, shellac disks. All three major companies produced the recordings in the 1908 campaign: The National Phonograph Company, better know as “Edison”, the Victor Talking Machine Company and the Columbia Company. During that campaign, Taft “made twelve cylinders for Edison, thirteen discs for Victor, and ten discs and five cylinders for Columbia”2 His opponent William Jennings Bryan recorded ten cylinders for Edison, eleven discs for Victor and twelve discs for Columbia 3. Many of the speeches of both candidates were repeated for the different record companies and not all speeches were published. In 1912, Woodrow Wilson recorded six short speeches on September 24 for Victor 4. Taft made seven discs for Victor on October 1, 1912 in Beverly Massachusetts. 5 Roosevelt recorded short speeches for Edison and Victor in 1912 as well. 6

                           *           *           *

“Judge Taft has consented to make several short speeches into talking machines for reproduction,” noted an article in the New York Times on August 3, 1908. “As the process of making a campaign speech is somewhat different from making a campaign speech from the back of a car platform or from a front porch, Mr. Taft to-day found Mrs. Taft laughing at him as he was doing a bit of rehearsing for the real records.” 7 The speeches, noted the article, averaged 300 words in length.

A member of Congress from Nebraska from 1891 to 1895, William Jennings Bryan (1860–1925) had lost a bid for the Senate in 1894. In 1908 Bryan who had won the Democratic nomination in 1896 with his impassioned “cross of gold speech,” was the standard bearer for his party for the third time. In 1896 and 1900 Republican nominee William McKinley had defeated him. Facing Bryan in 1908 was William Howard Taft, the heir apparent of incumbent second term President Theodore Roosevelt.

Entering government service as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) was a minor player in the first McKinley administration (1897). Transformed into a popular hero by his service with the Rough Riders in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, Roosevelt was elected governor of New York in 1898. In 1900 as McKinley’s vice presidential running mate, T.R. was swept into national office. His time in that office ended abruptly with the assassination of McKinley only a few months after the election.

In September 1901, at the age of forty-three, Theodore Roosevelt became president of the United States. In 1904 he easily secured a second term by defeating Democratic Party nominee Alton Parker. The ticket campaigned on a platform supporting the protective tariff and maintaining the gold standard. From 1901–1909, Roosevelt served almost two terms as the twenty-sixth president of the United States. Of his decision not to seek a third term, T.R. wrote “However certain I might be that in seeking or accepting a third term I was actuated by a sincere desire to serve my fellow countrymen, I am very much afraid that multitudes of thoroly (sic) honest men who have believed deeply in me, (and some of whom, by the way, until I consented to run might think that they wisht me to run) would nevertheless have a feeling of disappointment if I did try to occupy the Presidency for three consecutive terms, to hold it longer than it was deemed wise that Washington should hold it...” 8 Since he had publicly promised not to seek a third term, Roosevelt made it plain that he wanted Taft as the next president.

William Howard Taft (1857–1930) was elected the twenty-seventh president of the United States in 1908 in the first presidential campaign to make widespread use of the phonograph record as a means of campaign communication. Appointed Secretary of War by Republican president Theodore Roosevelt in 1904, Taft was a close political adviser of the popular president. In 1906 T.R. tagged Taft as his successor ensuring his nomination in 1908. The speeches by Taft on the CD might suggest to the unenlightened listener that Roosevelt is indeed seeking a third term:

He recommended the passage of the law, which the Republican convention has since specifically approved, restricting the future issue of stocks and bonds by interstate railways that such as may be authorized by federal authorities. He demonstrated to the people by what he said, by what he recommended to Congress, and by what he did. The sincerity of his efforts to command respect to the law, to secure equality of all before the law, and to save the country from the dangers of a plutocratic government towards which we were fast tending. In this work, Mr. Roosevelt has the support and sympathy of the Republican party, and his chief hope of success in the present controversy must rest on the confidence which the people of the country have in the sincerity of the party’s declaration in his platform that it intends to continue his policy.

Campaigning on a pledge to continue the Roosevelt tradition, Taft handily defeated Bryan in 1908.

During his first term, however, Taft alienated the progressives in his own party and his mentor by refusing to join efforts to oust the unpopular Speaker of the House Joseph Cannon and by supporting the Payne–Aldrich Tariff. Roosevelt responded by fighting Taft for the nomination of the Republican Party in 1912. Allen Churchill wrote that T.R. became a “hater... capable of man-sized fury.... Theodore, who always liked to say he felt strong as a bull moose, now began to resemble a wounded one.” 9 When Taft secured that nomination, T.R. broke from the Republicans to head the Progressive party. Drawing on T.R.’s statement that “I’m feeling like a bull moose,” the progressives are better known as the Bull Moose party.

Congressional Government (1885), Wilson had secured the governorship of New Jersey as a reformer. In 1912, when the leading candidate, Champ Clark, failed to secure the two-thirds needed for the Democratic nomination and William Jennings Bryan threw his support to the New Jersey governor, Wilson won the nomination on the Democratic convention’s forty-sixth ballot. Woodrow Wilson was the beneficiary of the split between Taft and T.R. With the Republican vote divided, he won the presidency with 435 electoral votes.

The presidential election of 1912 played out against the backdrop of a presidency whose powers had been dramatically enlarged by Theodore Roosevelt’s two terms. “Roosevelt viewed the Presidency as a ‘big stick’ and as a podium,” writes Marcus Cunliffe. “He tackled difficulties with a freewheeling, happy ferocity...

On the CDs we hear the differences that marked the candidacies of William Jennings Bryan, Woodrow Wilson, William Howard Taft, and Theodore Roosevelt. Where T.R. and Wilson sound extemporaneous, Taft’s awkward intonational patterns and flat delivery suggest that he is tied to scripted texts. Where Roosevelt’s tone is urgent and occasionally angry and bitter, Wilson’s is more professorial. Of the four, Bryan is most clearly the master stump orator less comfortable with the intimate medium of communication through phonographs.

Finally, these segments of discourse harken to a time in which the laws that we take for granted were under consideration. Note Roosevelt's impassioned plea for a minimum wage and Wilson's response that it would result in a lowering of existing wages. Observe Roosevelt's call for an eight-hour workday.

© Kathleen Hall Jamieson, 2000


Kathleen Hall Jamieson is Dean of the Annenberg School for Communication and Director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.


1 Webster’s 1909, p. 1623.

2 Robert and Celia Dearling, The Guinness Book of Recorded Sound. Guinness Books, 1984, p. 184.

3 Compiled by Brian Rust, Discography of Historical Records on Cylinders and 78s. Westport CT and London: Greenwood Press, 1979, pp. 44-45.

4 Robert and Celia Dearling, The Guinness Book of Recorded Sound. Guinness Books, 1984, p. 185.

5 Ibid. p. 184.

6 Ibid., p. 184.

7 “Virginians Will Hear Taft,” New York Times, August 4, 1908, p. 3.

8 Marcus Cunliffe, The American Heritage Pictorial History of the Presidents of the United States. “Letter to George Trevelyan,” New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968, p. 308.

9 Quoted in The American Heritage History of the Presidency. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968, p. 655.

10 Cunliffe, The American Heritage History of the Presidency. p. 306.

The Gramophone and the Campaigns of 1908 and 1912

In a few days more, Edison dealers will have something absolutely unique in the history of the world, namely, phonograph records made by the ruler of a great nation. Mr. Taft will, on March 4, become President of the United States, and the Edison records made by him last Summer will take on a new interest. ... A year ago, the mere suggestion that it would be possible to buy records made by the President of the United States would have been received with incredulity and yet, in a few days, they will exist and may be had at a price within the reach of the poorest.
The Edison Phonograph Monthly, March 1909

Thomas Edison’s phonograph celebrated its thirtieth anniversary in 1908, the year that William Jennings Bryan and William Howard Taft ran for the United States presidency. These two candidates made recordings of short campaign speeches, what might today be called “sound bites”, and became the first politicians to utilize the medium of sound recording to expound their platforms. With the passage of more than nine decades, radio, television, and the Internet now crowd our collective consciousness with a continuous flood of political information, and it is difficult to imagine a time when the printed word was the only method of disseminating current events. Political campaigns were conducted by means of huge rallies where the candidates addressed throngs of citizens without even the aid of the public address system that we find so necessary today.

By the year 1908, the phonograph had achieved tremendous popularity and was fast becoming the prominent entertainment instrument of the day. It was no longer viewed as a novelty and in fact, by this time, almost anyone could afford a phonograph. A great variety of recordings were now available. One could purchase records of marching bands, comic monologues, instrumental solos, religious music, and even operatic arias sung by the most revered international artists. Thus, the idea of bringing the actual voices of political candidates into the home must have been an intriguing one to those who first thought of it. In order to understand how and why these recordings were made, it is necessary to correct a misconception about the phonograph.

Today, the word phonograph is commonly used to describe any primitive machine for recording or reproducing sound, much as the brand names of Xerox and BAND-AID have become generic descriptive nouns. The phonograph, invented by Thomas A. Edison in 1878, recorded sound by cutting a spiral groove into a rotating cylinder. The sound was captured by means of a cone shaped horn, and focused upon a thin diaphragm which was attached to the cutting stylus. This stylus was positioned so that as the groove was being cut, the sound vibrations would cause the stylus to move vertically within that groove. Curiously, Edison stumbled upon this idea while he was under contract to Western Union trying to invent an alternate method for speech transmission to Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone. There was, as might be expected, an immediate flurry of interest in this new invention that recorded sound, but Edison himself put it aside for nearly ten years focusing his attention completely on the electric light bulb.

Edison resumed interest in his phonograph in c. 1887 and began promoting it as an office dictation device. He began to publicize the phonograph widely and he garnered international attention by having his agent Colonel George Gouraud record the voices of such notable figures as P. T. Barnum, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, Sir Arthur Sullivan, Florence Nightingale, Henry Irving, William Ewart Gladstone, and even Queen Victoria. Posterity has been greatly enriched by the legacy of these recordings which, except for that of Queen Victoria, all exist in various archives in the U. S. and England.

During the 1890s, small cylinder manufacturers began offering musical recordings of a popular nature in limited quantities to phonograph owners, and this marks the actual beginning of the record industry which was to experience a meteoric growth over the next two decades. With lamentable lack of vision, however, these record companies took no interest in recording serious music or in preserving the voices that were then making history. Continuing in this trend, Edison himself entered the record making business in 1898 forming the National Phonograph Company. Although he was the primary stockholder, he took no part in its day to day operation. While Edison pursued other ideas for prospective inventions, the German-born American inventor Emil Berliner had developed, in 1887, another system for recording sound. The Gramophone, as he called his invention, utilized a disk as the recording medium. Sound was recorded in much the same way as on the phonograph with the difference that the cutting stylus was oriented to produce a side-ways or lateral vibration within the groove. At first, the gramophone gave little competition to the phonograph, owing to the inferior sound of the records, not to mention the fact that buyers had to purchase a different type of record player. However, by 1900, disk recording and manufacturing had so improved that the new format began to overtake the cylinder with tremendous rapidity. The two major producers of the gramophone were the Victor Talking Machine Company in the United States, and its counterpart, the Gramophone and Typewriter Company LTD. in England. During the early years of the twentieth century, both companies began cultivating a market for classical music recordings, and made great progress by coaxing famous opera singers and instrumentalists into the recording studio. The gramophone’s popularity increased especially in urban centers, but the phonograph continued to appeal to rural America due to the lower price of cylinders and machines. Edison continued to cling to the cylinder concept with stubborn tenacity. In 1905, he launched his own celebrity opera series which met with only moderate success. That just wasn’t the sort of music that phonograph owners wanted to hear--they much preferred “camp meeting” hymns or sentimental renditions of “old time favorites.” Although the market for phonographs and cylinders was slowly dwindling, the Edison company continued to manufacture them well into the 1920s just to satisfy faithful customers.

The competition between the Edison and Victor companies in the U. S. was further diluted by a third participant, the Columbia Phonograph Company. It had begun producing cylinder recordings in the 1890s and by 1902 was producing disks as well. Columbia also entered the classical recordings market with their “Grand Opera Series” which attempted to compete with Victor’s “Red Seal Record”. Such was the position of the American recording industry in the Spring of 1908.

It was a presidential election year, and by May, the political issues were being fiercely debated in the press; the anti-trust laws, labor rights, and U. S. Imperialism in the Philippine Islands were among the hot topics. Although neither party had as yet chosen their candidates, there seemed little doubt as to who they would be – William Jennings Bryan for the Democrats, and William Howard Taft for the Republicans. It is quite clear that Mr. Bryan was the first to make records, and the Edison company was first to record him. The exact date of the recording session is uncertain, but we know that sometime during the month of May, Harold Vorhese, a member of Edison’s recording department, was dispatched to Lincoln, Nebraska for the purpose of recording Bryan at his residence.

When I was detailed to go to the home of William Jennings Bryan and direct the making of a series of Edison records by Mr. Bryan, I felt a little “shaky,” ... I knew the Records were to be important ones, especially with Mr. Bryan so prominent in the Presidential campaign, and I was more than anxious to secure good results. I reached Lincoln, Nebraska, on a Friday morning, with my recording apparatus and a plentiful supply of wax masters. Everything had been arranged, and when I got to the Bryan home found Mr. Bryan ready for work.... Mr. Bryan had his speeches in typewritten form, and had timed himself several times in getting them the right length. Nevertheless we found on trying the first that it was too long to get on the Record so it had to be cut down and another trial made. Mr. Bryan seemed a little nervous when he first started, much more so, he said, than he ever felt in facing an audience of ten thousand people. Considering that his words were to be reproduced all over the world in perhaps a million homes, and that it might mean a great deal to him how his speech was received, I thought he showed remarkable composure. We kept at it pretty steadily all of Friday and Saturday mornings and a few Records were thrown out, though not nearly so many as I had expected.... Some workmen who were engaged in repairing a porch annoyed us with their hammering and Mr. Bryan went out to tell him to let up for a while. He did not want to arouse their curiosity, so told them he was talking into the ‘phone. ... When our work was at last finished on Saturday, the library floor looked as if it had been visited by a snow storm, so thickly was it strewn with the wax shavings. ... as quickly as I could get my things together, I was on the way back to Orange, N. J. with the Records. If I had been the bearer of the crown jewels I wouldn’t have guarded them more carefully.
The Edison Phonograph Monthly, July 1908

The first announcement of these records appeared in the June issue of The Edison Phonograph Monthly, which publication was intended for Edison Phonograph dealers. It read,

We take great pleasure in announcing ten Edison Records by William Jennings Bryan. ... They are among the plainest and most natural Records we have ever turned out. No one who has ever heard Mr. Bryan speak will fail to recognize all of the wonderful charm of voice and manner for which he is famous. Mr. Bryan needs no introduction. His prominence as the two-time, and prospective third-time Democratic candidate for President, together with his remarkable gifts as an orator, have made him known everywhere, while his upright Christian character and fearless exposition of his political beliefs stamp him as one of the foremost Americans of history. ... The Bryan Records should go a long way towards offsetting the present trade dullness. We shall not be surprised if they out-sell any set of Records we have ever issued, owing to Mr. Bryan’s prominence in the current Presidential campaign.

These ten cylinders, each running to about two and a half minutes in duration, were released to the public in early June. They included eight speeches on political topics and two orations entitled “Immortality”, and “An Ideal Republic”. The July issue of the Phonograph Monthly featured a lengthy article entitled “Push the Bryan Records.” It provided the dealer with a host of advertising tips, and even instructions for creating a Bryan store window display. This issue also contains Harold Vorhese’s fascinating account of his visit to the Bryan residence, (see above.)

Not to be out-done, the Victor company made ten disk recordings of Bryan during two sessions held on 15 June and 21 July 1908. These recordings duplicate much of the Edison speeches but possess the advantage of being slightly longer in duration. Victor’s publication for their dealers, entitled “The Voice of The Victor” promoted their disks in much the same way as did Edison with perhaps a little less finesse. On 14 September, Bryan again repeated much of the same material for the Columbia Company. These records were not well promoted and therefore, are extremely rare.

Mr. Frank W. Dyer, president of the Edison company, attempted to secure the services of President Roosevelt to record some speeches to represent the Republican side of the campaign. This plan never materialized, and William Howard Taft was engaged following his nomination in Cincinnati.

Mr. Taft recorded first for Edison on 3 August 1908, followed immediately by Victor on 5 August, and ultimately by Columbia on 27 August. It is not surprising that Edison was the first to promote their Taft cylinders, and the August issue of the Phonograph Monthly includes, once again, a detailed report on the making of the Taft recordings by Walter Miller, manager of the Edison recording department.

Everything was quickly put in readiness and on Saturday afternoon Mr. Taft was ready to begin. At least, he thought so, but events proved that he wasn’t. He had a large scrap book in which news paper copies of his speeches had been pasted. He had gone through these and marked the portions he wished to use in the Records. It was so marked up, however, that he had difficulty following it. These were the first Records he had ever made and he remarked that it was a little different from what he had expected. So, he gave one of his secretaries instructions to make typewritten copies of the marked portions. ... On Monday at 3 p.m., we got busy on the Records, and by 5 o’clock, we had four completed. Mrs. Taft was very much interested to know how her husband’s voice would sound in the Phonograph, and was present while the first four Records were being dictated. At 5:15 p.m., Mr. Taft went for his regular horseback ride and gave us an appointment for that evening at 9. At that time, he dictated two more speeches, which were all he had expected to make. He had become deeply interested by this time, however, and said, “I’ll give you another,” and he kept “giving us another” until we had twelve all together. ... We caught the first train out on the following morning and were at the factory with the Records Tuesday night, when the work of moulding the duplicates was begun. I was greatly amused, coming up from Washington on the Congressional Limited, at some scraps of conversation I overheard in the smoker. The morning papers were filled with accounts of Taft’s “canned speeches.” Everyone in the car was discussing them as well as the report that Mr. Bryan said the opposition had stolen his campaign thunder. They all seemed greatly interested in the part that Edison is playing in the Presidential campaign. Of course, no one imagined that the “canned speeches of William H. Taft” were in my dress suit case at that moment.

The three record companies were thrilled to add these recordings to their catalogues, and we know that Bryan and Taft were each paid $500 by Edison for their services. One can only assume that Victor and Columbia made similar compensation to the candidates, since The Victor and Columbia financial books no longer survive. Both Edison and Victor published brochures advertising the Bryan and Taft records. These were to be given out to any prospective buyers, and it was expected that these important new recordings would boost the sale of record players thereby increasing each of their listenerships.

Following the election in November, the Edison Phonograph Monthly continued to promote the Taft cylinders for their historic value as “collector’s items” and even encouraged dealers to keep selling the two non-topical Bryan cylinders. “The dealer who is disposed to believe that the day of the Taft and Bryan Records is past simply because the election is over, is making a mistake, and he will make a worse error if he does not redouble his efforts to put the Records in every Phonograph collection.” The Victor company made no such effort.

The preparation of these campaign speech records has been great fun for me. In comparing the various versions by Edison, Victor, and Columbia, I found the Victor disks to be the most satisfactory, both for their sonic clarity, and for their extra length. For Mr. Bryan, I have included one Edison cylinder (CD 1, Track 9) and one Columbia disk (CD 1, Track 10) neither of which was released by Victor. For Mr. Taft, I have included one Columbia disk that was not recorded by the other companies. There are several additional Columbia recordings that do not duplicate Victor or Edison material, but the only available copies were in such poor condition as to make them unlistenable.

Old recordings are, today, often referred to as “78s”. However, none of these Victor or Columbia disks were recorded at 78rpm. In order to reproduce the voices correctly, I have found it necessary to play the Victors at about 75rpm, and the Columbias at about 80. The recordings from both companies suffer from speed instability, which necessitated the gradual lowering of the speed between the beginning and the end of each disk.

The 1912 campaign involved three political parties, Republican, Democratic, and Progressive, with their respective candidates William H. Taft, Woodrow Wilson, and Theodore Roosevelt. Once again, campaign speeches were recorded but advertised with considerably less fanfare than those of 1908. Victor recorded all three candidates, and produced an impressive sales brochure. (see page 22) Edison also made cylinders, but only of Mr. Roosevelt, owing to the fact that Thomas Edison was, himself, a staunch Roosevelt supporter. A sales bulletin dated 31 August 1912, proclaimed to Edison dealers:

It is with much pleasure that we are able to announce four Amberol records by Theodore Roosevelt which were recently made at his home in Oyster Bay, New York. The selections chosen by Mr. Roosevelt cover subjects of national interest and importance, and will be used by him during his coming campaign throughout the country. (see page 23)

It is puzzling that the Columbia company was conspicuously absent from the campaign.

Shortly after the election, in November 1912, Edison issued another sales bulletin, this time aimed at the individual phonograph owner with a different sales angle.

“It is with no little sense of pride that we announce four Records by Theodore Roosevelt. ... Though, as their titles indicate, the selections are all of a political character, interest in them will not cease with the end of the Presidential Campaign of 1912, for they state, in part at least, the principles upon which the Progressive Party is founded. ... The majority of newspapers of the country invariably see the words and deeds of any political party through the small or the large end of a telescope according to their political convictions, so that the same party appears alternately as a band of saints or sinners regardless of its actions. Perhaps the safest way to judge a party is through the words of its leader himself. And when the man is undisputedly one of the foremost characters of the age, it is indeed a privilege to hear him state in his convincing way the principles of the party which he was instrumental in founding. These Records will also serve as a basis of comparison by which to judge the ultimate success or failure of the new movement in many years to come.

I have included, on CD 2, all of the Victor and Edison recordings. The Edison cylinders of Theodore Roosevelt are of particular interest because they are so unbelievably well-recorded. In fact, these are some of the finest recordings of the time. Roosevelt’s delivery is so relaxed as to give the feeling that he is actually in the room with you. The Victors are much different and it is quite illuminating to compare the Edison and Victor versions of “The Farmer and The Businessman”. (CD 2, Tracks 9 and 15.)

The Presidential election year of 1916 produced no recordings of candidate speeches. Only once again in 1920 did the recording industry play a part in the Presidential race. In that year, commercial radio became a reality, but that is another chapter for another time.

© Ward Marston, 2000

In Their Own Voices: Transcripts

The U.S. Presidential Elections of 1908 and 1912

CD 1

Election 1908

William Jennings Bryan
Lincoln, Nebraska, July 21, 1908
Recorded by the Victor Talking Machine Company

  1. Imperialism
  2. Popular Election Of Senators
  3. The Tariff Question
  4. Guaranty Of Bank Deposits
  5. The Labor Question
  6. The Railroad Question
  7. The Trust Question
  8. Publication Of Campaign Contributions
    MP3 Format Download | Streaming

Lincoln, Nebraska, May, 1908
Recorded on cylinder by the Edison Company

  1. Swollen Fortunes

New York, New York, September 14, 1908
Recorded by the Columbia Phonograph Company

  1. Mr. Taft’s Borrowed Plumes

William H. Taft
Hot Springs, Virginia, August 5, 1908
Recorded by the Victor Talking Machine Company

  1. The Republican Party Stands By Mr. Roosevelt
  2. Our Army And Navy
  3. Postal Savings Banks
  4. The Rise And Progress Of The Negro
  5. Democratic Policy Prevents Restoration Of Prosperity
  6. Labor And Its Rights
  7. The Farmer And The Republican Party
  8. Irish Humor
  9. The Effect Of Proposed Jury Trial In Contempt Cases
  10. Our Foreign Dependencies
  11. Foreign Missions
  12. What Constitutes An Unlawful Trust
  13. Functions Of The Next Administration

Hot Springs, Virginia, August 27, 1908
Recorded by the Columbia Phonograph Company

  1. Republican Responsibility And Performance;
    Democratic Responsibility And Failure

CD 2

Election 1912

Woodrow Wilson
New York, September 24, 1912
Recorded by the Victor Talking Machine Company

  1. Woodrow Wilson On The Third Party
    MP3 Format Download | Streaming
  2. Woodrow Wilson On The Trust
  3. Woodrow Wilson To The Farmers
  4. Democratic Principles
  5. Woodrow Wilson On Labor
  6. Woodrow Wilson On The Tariff

Theodore Roosevelt
Oyster Bay, New York, c. August, 1912
Recorded on cylinder by the Edison Company

  1. The Progressive Covenant With The People
  2. The Right Of The People To Rule
    MP3 Format Download | Streaming
  3. The Farmer And The Business Man
  4. Social And Industrial Justice

Emporia, Kansas, September 22, 1912
Recorded by the Victor Talking Machine Company

  1. The Liberty Of The People
  2. Mr. Roosevelt Pays His Respects To Penrose And Archbold
  3. The "Abyssinian Treatment" Of Standard Oil
  4. Why The Trusts And Bosses Oppose The Progressive Party
  5. The Farmer And The Business Man

William H. Taft

Beverley, Massachusetts, October 1, 1912
Recorded by the Victor Talking Machine Company

  1. President Taft On Prosperity
  2. Peace
  3. President Taft On A Protective Tariff
  4. Who Are The People?
  5. The Anti-Trust Law
  6. President Taft Discusses Labor And Capital
  7. Popular Unrest

CD 1


Lincoln, Nebraska, July 21, 1908

Track 1 – Imperialism

Imperialism is the policy of an empire, and an empire is a nation embracing different people living under different forms of government. The Republican party has never dared to admit its imperialistic purpose and yet it is administering a colonial policy upon a theory utterly opposed to the theory of self-government. The Democratic party has for nine years parted out the evils of colonialism. It has for nine years challenged the Republican party to discuss the governmental principles which underlie colonialism. And it opposes colonialism today as it has from the beginning. The platform adopted at Denver condemns the experiment in imperialism as an inexcusable blunder, which has involved us in enormous expense, brought us weakness instead of strength, and laid our nation open to the charge of abandoning the fundamental principles of a republic. The platform favors an immediate declaration of the nation’s purpose to recognize the independence of the Philippine Islands as soon as a stable government can be established. Such independence would be guaranteed by us, as we guarantee the independence of Cuba, until the neutralization of the islands can be secured by treaty with other powers. This does not mean a withdrawal from the Orient, for in the recognition of independence our government will retain such land as may be necessary for coaling stations and naval bases. The land thus retained will furnish us all the territory we need for commercial expansion, and it would be much easier to protect the Filipinos from outside interference when they are in possession of their own government, and thus interested in guarding it from without. It is now costing us more than 100 millions a year for the Army and Navy in excess of what it cost us ten years ago, and we are under suspicion in the Orient as long as we hold the Filipinos in subjection. The Orient is in a ferment; reform is making progress everywhere. Our nation, instead of discouraging this reform by the establishment of a colony in the Pacific, should be the leader in reform movement, and thus attach to itself the progressive element in all the countries of the East. It is to our commercial advantage to encourage the adoption of our ideals and our customs and these ideals and customs can be brought to the attention of Japan, China, India and the Philippines only by steadfast adherence to the traditions of our country. Thus our financial influence, as well as our political duty, lead us to renew our attachment to the Declaration of Independence and to the doctrines of the fathers. A republic can have no substance, it can have no colony; the proofs of imperialism, be they bitter or sweet, must be left to the children of monarchy. This is the one tree of which the citizens of a republic may not partake. It is the voice of the serpent and not the voice of God that bids us heed.


Lincoln, Nebraska, July 21, 1908

Track 2 – Popular Election Of Senators

The Democratic national platform, recently adopted at Denver, contains a declaration in favor of the election of United States senators by direct vote of the people, and expresses the opinion that this reform is the gateway to other national reform. This is the third declaration of this kind made by a Democratic National Convention. The first having been made at Kansas City in 1900, and the second at St. Louis in 1904. The Republican National Convention held at Chicago last month, declared against this reform by a vote of more than 7 to 1; and the Republican party has in former campaigns, refused to endorse it in its platform; and yet so insistent are the rank and file of all parties, that the House of Representatives of the Federal Congress, has five times declared in favor of the election of senators by the direct vote of the people. Two-thirds of the states have also endorsed this proposition to their legislatures, and there is no reason to doubt that among the voters there is an almost unanimous sentiment in its favor. Why do the Republican leaders oppose a reform which even Republican voters demand? There can be but one explanation. The favor seeking corporations have made the Senate the center of their political influence, and as the Senate must concur, before any remedial legislation is possible, predatory wealth is able to prevent legislation by controlling the Senate. The excuse, however, given by those who oppose the popular election of senators, is that the Senate represents the states and that a popular election of senators would destroy the representative character of that body. There is no foundation whatever for this argument, because senators will represent their states just as completely when elected by the people as when elected by legislatures of the several states. I may go farther and say that state representation will be even more secure under popular election because the present method of election has dropped such odium upon the Senate that the Senate as a legislative body has suffered. The state is not a thing apart from the people, the people of the state constitute the state, and the people of the state have just as much right to a voice in the United States Senate as they have to a voice in the House of Representatives. If the people of the state have intelligence enough to select their governors, their state legislators, their members of Congress, and their presidential electors, who will say that they have not intelligence enough to select their senators by direct vote. Men may differ as to whether the country would be benefited by a high tariff or a low tariff. They may differ in regard to financial systems, and they may even differ as to the economic advantages of great corporations. But among those who believe in the right of the people to self government and in the capacity of the people for self government, there can hardly be any difference of opinion as to the wisdom of putting the election of United States senators in the hands of the people. So urgent is the necessity for this reform that a number of states have already joined in the call for a constitutional convention to reform the method of electing senators in spite of the opposition of the Senate itself. But it is probable that the Senate will yield when it finds further resistance useless. In the meantime, the voters ought to see to it that only those who are elected to the Senate and to the House of Representatives who have sufficient confidence in the people to grant their reasonable demand for the control of the United States Senate.


Lincoln, Nebraska, July 21, 1908

Track 3 – The Tariff Question

There is an important difference between a revenue tariff and a tariff levied purely for protection. A revenue tariff is so framed that it will raise the needed revenue and you stop when you get enough. A protective tariff may be so framed that a heavy burden will be laid upon the people and little revenue collected and you never know when to stop. The revenue tariff of 1846 was so satisfactory that after it had been in operation for ten years, the first Republican platform -- the platform of 1856, did not mention protection. When the war began between the states, the tariff was raised for the purpose of increasing the revenue, and when the war was over, it was continued on the ground that the infant industries needed protection for a few years until they could stand upon their feet. But in a little while, these infants were not only able to stand upon their own feet, but to walk all over everybody else’s feet. Then a new excuse had to be found, and the advocates of the high tariff began to argue that a protective tariff must be retained permanently for the benefit of labor but that the duty should only be high enough to cover the difference between wages here and abroad. Under the pretense that such a tariff was being framed, the protectionists have made the tariff twice as high on an average as the entire labor call. For a third of a century the protected manufacturers have been acting as the trustees for their employees. Trustees, too, without bond. They have been securing discriminating duties on the ground that these duties would enable them to deal generously with their employees, but they have only given in wages what the labor organizations were in a position to compel. Many of our manufacturers are now selling in foreign markets in competition with the cheapest labor of the world, and they often sell at a lower price abroad than at home. The tariff has thus become a full work for the protection of the trusts, and the Republican leaders, no longer able to defend the tariffs scheduled as they exist simply ask that tariff reform be left to the beneficiaries of the tariff. But how can we expect the men who profit by an extortion of the tariff to join in the crusade for the reduction of that tariff? We believe that the tariff must be reformed by those who have suffered from it, not by those who have profited by it. Our platform says we favor immediate revision of the tariff by the reduction of import duties. Articles entering into competition with trust controlled articles, should be placed upon the free list. Material reductions should be made in the tariff upon the necessaries of life, especially for articles competing with such American manufacturers as are sold abroad more cheaply than at home, and gradual reduction should be made in such other schedules as may be necessary to restore the tariff to a revenue basis. This tariff plank of the Denver platform not only demands tariff reduction, but it specifies the steps to be taken in securing that reduction. And I believe that it embodies the sentiment of a large and growing majority of the American people.


Lincoln, Nebraska, July 21, 1908

Track 4 – Guaranty of Bank Deposits

The fifteen million bank depositors of the United States demand security for their money, and the Democratic national platform pledges the party to legislation under which the national bank should be required to establish a guarantee fund for the prompt payment of the depositors of any insolvent national bank. The system could be available to all state banking institutions wishing to use it. Oklahoma has enacted a law compelling the state banks to establish such a guarantee fund, and permitting national banks to take advantage of it, and the experience under the Oklahoma law has been very satisfactory. This guarantee system has been in operation since February 14th of this year, and up to May 14th the secured banks have increased their deposits more than four million dollars, while the unsecured banks have lost in deposits a little more than one million. The decrease in deposits in the unsecured banks is proof that the depositors felt the need of greater security and the large increase in the deposits in the secured banks prove that some three million dollars has been gone from hoarding and hiding or from without the state. But one bank has failed during this period, and within one hour of the suspension the receiver had received authority to pay all depositors in full. This not only protected the depositors from loss, but protected the community from the embarrassment that follows a bank failure where no provision is made for the guarantee of deposit. The Federal government demands specific security when it deposits money in the national bank. States, counties, and cities require security when they deposit in either state or national banks. Why should the individual depositor be left without security? Why should the individual depositor be compelled to bear the loss if the stockholders and directors of the bank employ careless or criminal officials? During the last 40 years the average loss to depositors in national banks has been less than 1/10 of 1 percent of the deposits, and while this loss has sometimes been severe upon the individual depositors in failed banks, it would have been very light upon the banks themselves, and as Oklahoma has shown, the tax would have more than been offset by the increased deposits gone into the bank. There are two arguments made against the guarantee system. First, that it defies the large banks of the advantage which they now have over small banks. But why should large banks demand an advantage at the expense of the depositor and the community? They have advantage enough in their ability to make larger loans and in the value of the endorsement to those who do business with them. The second argument is that the guarantee of depositors would make the banks careless. There’s no weight in this argument because in case of failure, the stockholders of the bank lose all their stock, and additional penalty besides, before other banks lose anything. The fact that the stockholders would suffer such loss would be a sufficient punishment for carelessness. Most of the failures today come from careless management, and we can secure more stringent regulation of banks when all of the banks have to stand in back of each bank, for then all banks would be interested in the careful management of each bank. If the bankers are short-sighted enough to oppose the guaranteed banks, they must be prepared to accept the postal savings bank, for the depositors will not longer consent to having their savings jeopardized.


Lincoln, Nebraska, July 21, 1908

Track 5 – The Labor Question

The wage earners constitute so large a proportion of our population that all political and economic questions effect them, but there are certain questions in which they feel a special interest. They’re interested, for instance, in an eight-hour day, and the Democratic platform declares in favor of eight-hour day on all government work. The laboring men are also interested in the Employers Liability Act, and the Democratic platform endorses this measure. The antitrust law has been so construed as to apply to labor organizations, but the distinction between an association of laboring men or farmers, or other citizens organized for mutual benefit -- and industrial combinations known as trusts, is so clear that the two subjects ought to be treated separately. And the Democratic platform puts the party on record against legislation which passes labor organizations with illegal combinations in restraint of trade. One of the most acute questions affecting labor is that which involves the issue of the written injunction. The Republican leaders have attempted to raise a false issue and have accused the laboring men of lack of respect for the courts. They do injustice to the wage earners. There is no lack of respect for the courts and there is no thought of interfering with the legitimate use of the written injunction. Courts, however, are creatures of law and it is their province to interpret the laws which the people make. Experience has shown the necessity for a modification of the law relating to injunction, and the Democratic party favors the enactment of a measure which passed the United States Senate 12 years ago, but which a Republican Congress has ever since refused to enact. This measure gives to the accused the right of trial by jury when the alleged contempt was not committed in the presence of the court. The demand for a jury trial in such cases is not revolutionary. It is simply a demand that those who are known as wage earners shall be given the protection always accorded to persons who are tried in a criminal court. The Democratic platform also insists that injunction should not be issued in industrial dispute in cases where the injunction would not lie if no industrial disputes were involved. In other words, the wage earner should not be discriminated against, and the industrial dispute itself should not be a sufficient cause for the issuance of an injunction. Before an injunction is issued in an industrial dispute, the conditions ought to be such as to justify the writ of injunction if there were no disputes between employer and employee. Our platform goes a step further and declares in favor of a Department of Labor with a cabinet officer at its head. This is but a reiteration of the position taken by the party in 1900, and who will say that the laborers of the country are not entitled representation at the President’s council table. They have so large a part in the production of the nations wealth in time of peace, and they are so prompt to offer their services in time of war, that no one should begrudge them a spokesman in the President’s cabinet.


Lincoln, Nebraska, July 21, 1908

Track 6 – The Railroad Question

The right of Congress to exercise complete control over interstate commerce, and the right of each state to exercise just as complete control over commerce within its borders, can no longer be questioned. But it is necessary that there shall be an enlargement of the powers of the Interstate Commerce Commission to enable it to compel railroads to perform their duties as common carriers and to prevent discrimination and extortion. The first step in the direction of supervision and rate legislation is to be found in the valuation of the railroad, and we believe that the Interstate Commerce Commission should be authorized to make such valuation, taking into consideration not only the physical value of the property but the original cost of production and all other elements which enter into a fair and just evaluation. We believe that railroads should be prohibited from engaging in business which brings them into competition with their shippers, that the older issue of stocks and bonds should be prevented, and that such reductions should be made as conditions justify, care being taken to avoid reduction that would compel a reduction of wages, prevent adequate service, or do injustice to legitimate investment. The Interstate Commerce Commission should have the power to take the initiative in the determination of rate and all traffic agreements should be subject to the approval of the commission. Telegraph lines and telephone lines, so far as they are engaged in interstate commerce, should be also under the jurisdiction of the Interstate Commerce Commission. In other words, these quasi-public corporations must recognize the obligations which they owe to the public and the government acting to its reported agents should be in a position to require obedience to law, and submission to necessary regulations. Railroad managers sometimes assume that the general public is bent on injustice, but this is a mistake. There is a sense of justice among the masses and this sense of justice can always be appealed to. The Democratic party is not hostile to railroads, but it is hostile to the mismanagement of railroads and to the extortion that is sometimes practiced by railroads. It insists upon fair play and nothing more. It insists that the patron as well as the stockholder must be considered, and it believes that friendly relations between the railroads and the public can only be maintained by an understanding of the situation and by the recognition, by all corporations, of the supremacy of the government.


Lincoln, Nebraska, July 21, 1908

Track 7 – The Trust Question

A trust may be defined as a corporation which controls so large a proportion of a given product as to be able to determine the price and conditions of sales. The evil of a monopoly is that it destroys competition and leaves the producer at the mercy of a corporation, which can then arbitrarily exact such profits as it pleases. There are certain results which naturally follow from the establishment of a private monopoly. First, the corporation raises the price of the finished product. Second, being the only purchaser of raw materials, it lowers the price of that material. Third, as it controls the opportunity for employment, it reduces the wages of those who are skilled in that particular business. And fourth, it puts out an inferior product. In these ways it can add to its profits, and man is as yet too weak to withstand the temptation that a monopoly constantly presents. In the nature of the case, but comparatively few of the population can profit by a monopoly, while the masses are the victims of monopoly. Monopolies are both corruptive and coercive. By large contributions to campaign funds, they purchase immunity from restraining legislation and from the enforcement of the law. And as they employ an army of laboring men, they can influence elections by threatening employees with starvation if they refuse to vote as directed. The trusts therefore are an evil and can be nothing else. They are hurtful from an economic standpoint, they are a corrupting element in politics, and they menace popular government.

The Denver platform declares that a private monopoly is indefensible and intolerable and demands the vigorous enforcement of the criminal law; together with additional legislation which will make a private monopoly impossible. It specifies three new remedies. First, a law preventing a duplication of directors among competing corporations. The duplication of directors being a familiar device by which a few men secure control of corporations engaged in the same line of business and destroy competition. Second, a licensed system which will bring under Federal supervision, corporations controlling 25 percent of the product in which they deal and prohibiting control of more that 50 percent. This licensed system will not interfere with the legitimate corporations, but will protect them from the corporations that are aspiring to a monopoly. The limit of 50 percent is suggested because a corporation which controls one half of the entire product, that is a corporation which supplies 40 millions of people is large enough to take advantage of every economy in production. To allow a corporation to control more than 50 percent is to permit it to take advantage of the public. The third new remedy is to compel licensed corporations to sell to all customers upon the same term after making due allowance for the cost of transportation. This will prevent a big corporation from underselling a small competitor in a limited territory while maintaining the price elsewhere. The extermination of monopoly does not mean the extermination of business. On the contrary, the extermination of monopoly means a revival of business – it means lower prices for the consumer, higher prices for the producer of raw material, higher quality in the product, better wages for the employee, and more people employed in production.


Lincoln, Nebraska, July 21, 1908

Track 8 – Publication of Campaign Contributions

An election is a public affair. It is held for the benefit of the public and it is the means through which the people select their officials and give directions as to the policies to be adopted. There is no sound reason for secrecy in regard to campaign methods; and publicity will in itself prove a purifying influence in politics. The necessity for publicity has increased with the growth of favor seeking corporations. These combinations of capital have gradually extended their power over the government through contributions to the campaign funds and the officials elected by them have, in return for contributions, sold immunity to offenders. Public opinion has at last compelled a reluctant Congress to prohibit contributions from corporations. But in many cases, individual stockholders in the big corporations have so large a personal interest, that they can afford to subscribe the funds necessary for the purchase of an election. The recent national convention of the Republican party, by an overwhelming majority, voted down the publicity plank proposed by Senator Lafollete's friends. But the Republican leaders already see that it was a serious mistake. The Democratic party has declared in its platform not only against receiving contributions from corporations, but against receiving from individuals contributions unreasonably large. And, what it is even more important, our platform declares in favor of the publication, before election, of all contributions above a reasonable minimum. At the first meeting of the National Democratic Committee, I joined with Mr. Kerr candidate for Vice President, in requesting the committee to interpret and apply this plank to the present campaign. We suggested that $10,000 be fixed as the maximum for individual contributions, and that all individual contributions above $100 be made public before the election. All such contributions made before the 15th of October, to be made public on or before that date, all contributions received after the 15th of October to be made public as received. No contributions to be received within three days of the election, and all expenditures to be made public immediately after the election. The Democratic committee unanimously adopted these suggestions and will apply the doctrine of publicity. It is to be hoped that the action taken by the Democratic committee will compel the Republican committee to do likewise. For the people ought to know what influences are at work in the campaign, that they may better decide whether either party has so obligated itself to the great corporations as to make it impossible for it to protect the rights of the people. Let there be light, is the demand of the voters, and more and more emphasis is being placed upon this demand. If there are any who love darkness rather than light, the excuse must be found in holy writ -- it is because their deeds are evil.


Lincoln, Nebraska, c. May, 1908

Track 9 – Swollen Fortunes

The phrase "Swollen Fortunes" accurately describes one of the evils that must be met by legislation, because swollen fortunes are largely due to legislation. The term "swollen" when applied to "fortunes" means that the fortunes are abnormally large; that they are unnatural, diseased, and a swollen fortune implies that some possess less than they ought to because a few have collected more than they have earned. When we condemn swollen fortunes we are not attacking honestly acquired fortunes. On the contrary, we are defending legitimate accumulation when we insist that they shall be distinguished from wealth dishonestly acquired and that dishonest accumulations shall be prevented. Swollen fortunes are, in almost every case, traceable to privileges given by the government, or to favoritism shown to a few at the expense of the rest of the population. The cure for swollen fortunes, therefore, is in the restoration of the government to its old foundations, and in the application to all branches of the government of the doctrine of equal rights to all and special privileges to none. There is a divine law reward, and where this law is operated, people enjoy compensation in proportion to their intelligence, their industry and their integrity. It should be the aim of the government to conform to this divine law, and as far as possible, insure to each citizen a return from society proportionate to his contribution to the welfare of society. This is the economic principal which should govern all legislation and then when each has received what he has justly earned, he is prepared to apply the moral principal that those who are strong should voluntarily assist those who are weak; that those who are fortunate should voluntarily share with the unfortunate.


New York, New York, September 14, 1908

Track 10 – Mr. Taft’s Borrowed Plumes

What good things does Mr. Taft stand for that is not borrowed from the Democrats? He favors an income tax when we need it, but thinks we do not need it now. Is the income tax a good thing? Where did Mr. Taft get the idea? From the income tax law enacted by the Democrats in 1894 and opposed by the Republicans. The last Democratic national platform endorses the income tax; the last Republican national platform is silent on the subject. Mr. Taft favors railroad regulation, where did he get the idea? From the President’s recommendations? But the President’s recommendations were suggested by three Democratic national platforms, platforms which endorsed regulations when Republicans were silent on the subject. Mr. Taft is personally inclined towards the election of senators by the people---where did he get the idea? The proposition was endorsed in the House of Representatives by the 52nd and 53rd Congresses and both of these Congresses were Democratic. The Proposition was afterwards endorsed by Republican Congresses, but it was rejected by the last Republican national convention by a vote of 7 to 1. In declaring for it, therefore, Mr. Taft is in line with the Democratic platforms of 1900, 1904 and 1908, and out of harmony with his own platform. Mr. Taft advocates a certain kind of publicity, of campaign contributions, but in doing so he is endorsing a proposition which the Democrats urged in the House but which was rejected in his own convention. He does not go as far as the Democratic platform goes, but in so far as he goes at all, he goes towards the Democratic platform and away from his own. Mr. Taft is advocating tariff revision; this is not equivalent to tariff reduction and yet in admitting that some of the tariff schedules ought to be lowered, he is recognizing the righteousness of the Democratic protests against the present high tariff law which the Republicans have heretofore refused to touch. Mr. Taft even recognizes that the Filipinos must ultimately have independence. He put this off, it is true, for a least two generations, but heretofore we have not been able to get the Republicans to discuss the subject at all. The Democrats have said from the first, that ultimate independence was the only policy consistent with American ideals. These are some of the things which Mr. Taft has borrowed from the Democrats. He has not gone as far as he ought to have gone on these questions. But the Democrats can claim credit for having compelled such a stance as he makes. The Democrats, however, are not responsible for his position on trial by jury in cases of indirect contempt, or for his failure to take the people’s side of the trust question. On the labor question and the trust question, we will not claim that he had borrowed anything from the Democrats, but we do claim that his position on these subjects would be better if he had borrowed, and that on other questions he could have strengthened his position by borrowing more than he had. And to conclude, Mr. Taft has imitated the Democrats in using the talking machine as a means of reaching the public.


Hot Springs Virginia, August 5, 1908

Track 11 – The Republican Party Stands By Mr. Roosevelt


The strength of the Republican cause in the campaign at hand is in the fact that we represent policies essential to the reform of known abuses for the continuance of liberty and true prosperity and that we are determined that our platform unequivocally declare to maintain them and carry them on. The revelations of the breaches of trust, the disclosures of the rebates and discriminations by railways, the accumulating evidence of the violation of the antitrust law by a number of corporations, the over issue of stocks and bonds on interstate railways for the unlawful enriching of directors and for the purpose of concentrating control of railways in one management, all quickens the conscience of the people and brought on a moral awakening among them that boded well for the future of the country. The man who formulated the expression of the popular conscience, and who led the movement for practical reform, was Theodore Roosevelt. He laid down the doctrine that the rich violator of the law should be as amenable to restraint and punishment as the offender without wealth and without influence. And he proceeded by recommending legislation and directing executive action to make that principle good in actual performance. He secured the passage of the so called "rate bill" designed more effectively to restrain excessive and fix reasonable rates, and to punish secret rebates and discriminations which had been general in the practice of the railroads and which have done much to enable unlawful trust to drive out of business their competitors. It secured much closer supervision of railway transactions, and in order to avoid undue discrimination, forbade in future the combination of the transportation and shipping business under one control. President Roosevelt directed suits to be brought and prosecutions to be instituted under the antitrust law, to enforce its provisions against the most powerful of the industrial corporations. He pressed to passage the Pure Food Law and the Meat Inspection Law in the interests of the health of the public, clean business methods and great ultimate benefits to the trades themselves. He recommended the passage of the law, which the Republican convention has since specifically approved, restricting the future issue of stocks and bonds by interstate railways that such as may be authorized by federal authorities. He demonstrated to the people by what he said, by what he recommended to Congress, and by what he did. The sincerity of his efforts to command respect to the law, to secure equality of all before the law, and to save the country from the dangers of a plutocratic government towards which we were fast tending. In this work, Mr. Roosevelt has the support and sympathy of the Republican party, and his chief hope of success in the present controversy must rest on the confidence which the people of the country have in the sincerity of the party’s declaration in his platform that it intends to continue his policy.


Hot Springs, Virginia, August 5, 1908

Track 12 – Our Army and Navy

Mr. McKinley and Mr. Roosevelt and the Republican party have constantly advocated the policy with respect to the army and the navy that will keep this republic ready at all times to defend her territory and her doctrine, and to assure her appropriate part in promoting permanent tranquility among the nations. I welcome from whatever motives the change in the Democratic attitude towards the maintenance and support of an adequate navy, and hope that in the next platform the silence of the present platform in respect to the army will be changed to an acquiescence in its maintenance to the point of efficiency in connection with the efficiently reorganized militia and the national volunteers for the proper defense of the country in times of war, and that the discharge of those duties in times of peace for which the army, as at present constituted, has shown itself so admirably adapted in the Philippines, in San Francisco, in Cuba and elsewhere. We are a world power and cannot help it, and although at peace with all the world and secure in the consciousness that the American people do not desire and will not provoke a war with any other country, we must be prudent and not be lulled into a sense of security which would possibly expose us to national humiliation. Our best course, therefore, is to insist on a constant improvement in our navy and its maintenance at the highest point of efficiency. The position which our country has won under Republican administration before the world should inure to the benefit of everyone, even the humblest of those entitled to look to the American flag for protection without regard to race, creed or color, and whether he is a citizen of the United States or of any of our dependencies. In some countries with which we are on friendly terms, distinctions are made in respect to the treatment of our citizens traveling abroad and having passports of our executive. Based on considerations that are repugnant to the principles of our government and civilization, the Republican party and administration will continue to make every proper endeavor to secure the abolition of such distinction, which in our eyes are both needless and appropriate.


Hot Springs, Virginia, August 5, 1908

Track 13 – Postal Savings Bank

The Republican platform recommends the adoption of a postal savings bank system. The government guarantee will bring out of hoarding places much money which may be turned into wealth producing capital and will be a great incentive for thrift in the many small places in the country having now no savings bank facilities which are reached by the post office. It will bring to everyone however remote from financial centers a place of perfect safety for deposit with the interest returned. The pending bill for such banks provides for the investment of the money deposited in national banks and the various places in which we’ve gathered or as near thereto as may be practicable. This answers the criticism contained in the Democratic platform that under the system the money gathered in the country will be deposited in Wall Street banks. The system of postal savings bank has been tried in so many countries successfully that it cannot be regarded longer as a new and untried experiment. The Democratic platform recommends a tax upon the national banks and upon such state banks as may come in, in the nature of enforced insurance, to raise the guarantee funds to pay the depositors of any bank which fails. The proposition is to tax the honest and prudent banker to make up for the dishonesty and imprudence of others. No one can foresee the burden which under this system would be imposed upon the sound and the conservative bankers of the country by this obligation to make good for the losses caused by the reckless, speculative and dishonest men who would be unable to secure deposits under such a system on the faith of the proposed insurance. Because in its present shape, the proposal would remove all safeguards against recklessness in banking… and in the end, probably the only benefit would accrue to the speculator who would be delighted to enter the banking business when it was certain that he could enjoy any profits that would accrue, while the risk would have to be assumed by his honest and hardworking fellow. In short, the proposal is wholly impracticable unless it is to be accompanied by a complete revolution in our banking system with a supervision so close as practically to create a government bank. If the proposal were adopted exactly as the Democratic platform suggests, it will bring the whole banking system of the country down in ruin. And this proposal is itself an excellent illustration of the fitness for national control of a party, which will commit itself to a scheme of this nature without the slightest sense of responsibility for the practical operation of the law proposed. The Democratic party announces its adhesion to this plan and only recommends the tried system of postal savings bank as an alternative if the new experimental panacea is not available. The Republican party prefers the postal savings bank as one tried safe and known to be effective and as reaching many more people now, without banking facilities, than the new system proposed.


Hot Springs, Virginia, August 5, 1908

Track 14 – The Rise And Progress Of The Negro

The Republican platform refers to the amendments to the Constitution that were passed by the Republican party for the protection of the Negro. The Negro in the forty years since he was freed from slavery has made remarkable progress. He is becoming a more and more valuable member of the communities in which he lives. The education of the Negro is being expanded and improved in every way. The best men of both races at the North, as well as at the South, ought to rejoice to see growing up among the southern people an influential element disposed to encourage the Negro in his hard struggle for industrial independence and assured political status. The Republican platform adopted at Chicago explicitly demands justice for all men without regard to race or color. And just as explicitly declares for the enforcement and without reservation in letter and spirit of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution. It is needless to say that I stand with my party squarely on that plank in the platform and believe that equal justice to all men and the fair and impartial enforcement of these amendments is in keeping with the real American spirit of fair play.


Hot Springs, Virginia, August 5, 1908

Track 15 – Democratic Policy Prevents Restoration Of Prosperity

Unlawful trust should be restrained with all the efficiency of injunctive process, and the persons engaged in maintaining them should be punished with all of the severity of criminal prosecution in order that the method pursued in the operation of their business shall be brought within the law. To destroy them, and to eliminate the wealth they represent from the producing capital of the country, would entail enormous loss and would throw out of employment myriads of working men and working women. Such a result is wholly unnecessary to the accomplishment of the needed reform and will inflict upon the innocent far greater punishment than upon the guilty. The Democratic platform does not propose to destroy the plants of the trust physically, but it proposes to do the same thing in a different way. The business of this country is largely dependent on a protective system of tariffs. The business done by many of the so-called trusts is protected with the other businesses of the country. The Democratic platform proposes to take off the tariff in all articles coming into competition with those produced for the so-called trusts and to put them on the free list. If such a course would be utterly destructive of their business, as is intended, it would not only destroy the trusts but all of their smaller competitors. The ruthless and impracticable character of the proposition grows plainer as its effect upon the whole community is realized. To take the course suggested for the Democratic platform in these matters is to involve the entire community, innocent as it is, in the punishment of the guilty. While our policy is to stamp out the specific evil. This difference between the policies of the two great parties is of a special importance in view of the present condition of business. Gradually, business is acquiring a healthier tone, gradually all wealth which was hoarded is coming out to be used, confidence in security of business investment is a plant of slow growth and is absolutely necessary in order that our factories may all open again; in order that our unemployed may become employed; and in order that we may again have the prosperity which blessed us for ten years. The identity of the interests of the capitalists, the farmer, the businessman and the wage earner in the security and profit of investment cannot be too greatly emphasized. I submit to those most interested, the wage earners, the farmers, and the businessmen, whether the introduction into power of the Democratic party with Mr. Bryan, at its head, and with the business destruction that he’s openly advocated as a remedy for our present evil, will bring about the needed confidence for the restoration of prosperity.


Hot Springs, Virginia, August 5, 1908

Track 16 – Labor And Its Rights

We come now to the question of labor. One important phase of the policies of the present administration has been an anxiety to secure for the wage earner an equality of opportunity and such positive statutory protection as to place him on the level in dealing with his employer. The interests of the employer and the employee never differ except when it comes to a division of the joint profit of labor and capital into dividends and wages. This must be a constant source of periodical discussion between the employer and the employee, as indeed are the other terms of the employment. To give to employees their proper position in such a controversy, to enable them to maintain themselves against employers having great capital, they may well unite because in union there is strength and without it each individual laborer and employee would be helpless. The promotion of industrial peace through the instrumentality of the trade agreement is often one of the results of such unions when intelligently conducted. There is a large body of laborers, however, skilled and unskilled, who are not organized into unions - their rights before the law are exactly the same as those of the union men and are to be protected with the same care and watchfulness. In order to induce their employer into a compliance with their request for changed terms of employment, all workmen have the right to strike in a body. They have a right to use such persuasion as they may, provided it does not reach the point of duress, to lead their reluctant co-laborers to join them in their union against their employer, and they have a right if they choose, to accumulate funds to support those engaged in a strike, to delegate to officers the power to direct the action of the union, and to withdraw themselves from their associates from dealings with or giving custom to those with whom they are in controversy. What they have not the right to do is to injure their employer’s property, to injure their employer’s business by use of threats or methods of physical duress against those who would work for him or deal with him, or by carrying on what is sometimes known as a secondary boycott against his customers or those with whom he deals in business. All those who sympathize with them may unite to aid them in their struggle but they may not through the instrumentality of a threatened or actual boycott, compel third persons against their will; and having no interest in their controversy, to come to their assistance. These principles have for a great many years been settled by the courts of this country.


Hot Springs, Virginia, August 5, 1908

Track 17 – The Farmer And The Republican Party

As the Republican platform says, the welfare of the farmer is vital to that of the whole country. The prosperity of the country rest peculiarly upon the prosperity of agriculture. Just now, one of the strongest hopes of returning good times is based on the business which the farmers’ crops are to afford. The Republican party during the last twelve years has accomplished extraordinary work in bringing the resources of the national government to the aid of the farmer. He is vitally interested in the restraining of excessive and unduly discriminating railroad rates, in the enforcement of the Pure Food Law, in the promotion of scientific agriculture, and in increasing the comforts of country life as by the extension of free rural delivery and the building of good roads. The free delivery in the postal service now reaches millions of our citizens and will be extended until every community in the land receives its full benefits. Everyone recognizes the essential and economic advantages of good country roads maintained more and more largely at public expense and less and less at the expense of the abutting owner. The policies of the present administration have most industriously promoted all these objects and cannot fail to commend themselves to the farmers’ approval. It is difficult to see how with his intelligent appreciation of the threats to business prosperity involved in democratic success at the polls he can do otherwise than give his full and hearty support to the continuation of the policies of the present administration under Republican auspices.


Hot Springs, Virginia, August 5, 1908

Track 18 – Irish Humor

I am a great lover of humor, however little I have of it, and believe in it as a panacea. In these days of nervous prostration, of brain fag and of the strenuous life, there is nothing that so much contributes to a survival of the trials and sufferings of the day as a sense of humor. It is like the buffers in the solid train, like the air cushion of a modern field gun. It saves the jolt; it takes up the recoil. It seems to me that this trade of humor, so fully developed in the Irish character, has had much to do with the persistence of the race and with its growth of numbers and power and influence the world over, in spite of the burdens and disadvantages under which it has labored. In the Irish faith, the smiles and tears chase each other fast. As John Boyle O’Reilly said, "I wrote down my troubles every day, and after a few short years, when I turned to the heartaches past away, I read them with smiles, not tears." In his poem, "An American," Kipling speaks of the ancient humor as likely to save the American nation from the dangers to which it is exposed:

          But, through the shifts of mood and mood,

Mine ancient humor saves him whole --

          The cynic devil in his blood

That bids him mock his hurrying soul

          That checks him foolish-hot and fond,

That chuckles through his deepest ire,

          That glids the slough of his despond

But dims the goal of his desire.

If this humor be the safety of our race, then it is due largely to the infusion into the American people of the Irish brain. It is now 25 years since I had the pleasure of visiting the Emerald Isle, and I remember its beauties well. We landed at Queen Sound very early in the morning of a July day and it seemed to me that nothing was ever greener, nothing was ever sweeter, nothing was ever more attractive than the surroundings of Queen Sound harbor at that hour. Thence we went to Cork and there in the suburbs that historic city we visited Blarney Castle and kissed the stone with all its mellifluous consequences. While in Cork there crowded up in our memories that musical verse the Shandon Bell:

With deep affection and recollection

     I often think on those Shandon Bells

Whose sounds so wild would, in my days of childhood

     Fling round my cradle their magic spells

On this I ponder where’er I wander

     And thus grow fonder sweet Cork of thee

With thy bells of Shandon that sound so grand on

     The pleasant waters of the River Lee


Hot Springs, Virginia, August 5, 1908

Track 19 – The Effect Of Proposed Jury Trial In Contempt Cases

Under the provision of the Democratic platform promising a jury trial in all cases of indirect contempt, a recalcitrant witness who refuses to obey a subpoena may insist on a jury trial before the court can determine that he received the subpoena. A citizen summoned as a juror, and refusing to obey the writ when brought into court, must be tried by another jury to determine whether he got the summons. Such a provision applies not alone to injunction, but to every order which the court issues against perjury. A suit may be tried in the court of first instance and carried to the court of appeals and then to the Supreme Court. Then if the decree involves the defendant doing anything or not doing anything, and he disobeys it, the plaintiff who has pursued his remedies in lawful court for years must, to secure his rights, undergo the uncertainties and the delays of a jury trial before he can enjoy that which is his right of the decision of the highest court of the land. I say without hesitation that such a change will greatly impair the indispensable power and authority of the court. In securing to the public the benefits of the new statute, and acted in the present administration, the ultimate instrumentality to be resorted to is the courts of the United States. If now their authority is thus to be weakened, how can we expect that such statutes will have efficient enforcement. If advocates seem to suppose that this change in someway will inure only to the benefit of the poor working man. As a matter of fact the person who will secure chief advantage from it is the wealthy and unscrupulous defendant able to employ astute and cunning council and anxious to avoid justice. The maintenance of the authority of the court is essential unless we are prepared to embrace anarchy. Never in the history of the country has there been such an insidious attack upon the judicial system as the proposal to interject the jury trial between all orders of the court made after full hearing and the enforcement of such order.


Hot Springs, Virginia, August 5, 1908

Track 20 – Our Foreign Dependencies

The Republican party has pursued consistently the policy originally adopted with respect to the dependencies which came to us as the result of the Spanish War. The material prosperity of Puerto Rico and the progress of its inhabitants toward better conditions in respect to comfort of living and education should make every American proud that this nation has been an efficient instrument in bringing happiness to a million people. In Cuba, the provisional government established in order to prevent a bloody revolution, has so administered affairs and initiated the necessary laws, as to make it possible to turn back the island to the lawfully elected officers of the Republic in February next. In the Philippines, the experiment of a national assembly has justified itself both as an assistant in the government of the island and as an education in the practice of self-government to the people of the island. We have established a government with effective and honest executive department and a clean and fearless administration of justice. We have created and are maintaining a comprehensive school system which is educating the youth of the islands in English and in industrial branches. We have constructed great government public works, roads and harbor. We have induced the private construction of 800 miles of railroad; we have policed the island so that their condition as to law and order is better now than it ever has been in their history. It is quite unlikely that the people, because of the dense ignorance of 90 percent, will be ready for complete self-government and independence before two generations have passed. But the policy of increasing partial self-government step by step, as the people shall show themselves fit for it, should be continued. The proposition of the Democratic platform is to turn over the island as soon as a stable government is established. This has been established. The proposal then is in effect to turn them over at once. Such action would lead to ultimate chaos in the islands and the progress among the ignorant masses in education and better living will stop. We are engaged in the Philippines in a great missionary work that does our nation honor and is certain to promote in a most effective way the influence of Christian civilization. It is cowardly to lay down the burden until our purpose is achieved.


Hot Springs, Virginia, August 5, 1908

Track 21 – Foreign Missions

I have known a good many people who were opposed to foreign mission. I’ve known a good many regular attendants at church, consistent members, that religiously, if you choose to use that term, refuse to contribute to foreign mission. I confess that there was a time when I was enjoying a most provincialism, that I hope has left me now, when I rather sympathized with that view. Until I went to the Orient, until there was thrust upon me the responsibilities with reference to the extension of civilization in those far distant lands, I did not realize the immense importance of foreign mission. The truth is we have got to wake up in this country. We are not all there is in the world; there are lots besides us and there are lots of people besides us that are entitled to our effort and our money and our sacrifice to help them on in the world. Now no man can study the movement of modern civilization from an impartial standpoint and not realize that Christianity, and the spread of Christianity, are the only basis for hope of modern civilization in the growth of popular self-government. The spirit of Christianity is pure democracy; it is the equality of man before God. The equality of man before the law, which is, as I understand it, the most Godlike manifestation that man has been able to make. I am not here tonight to speak of foreign missions from a purely religious standpoint. That has been and will be done. I am here to speak of it from the standpoint of political governmental advancement. The advancement of modern civilization, and I think have had some opportunities to know how dependent we are on the spread of Christianity for any hope we may have of uplifting the people whom providence has thrust upon us for our guidance. I suppose I ought not to go into a discussion here of our business in the Philippines, but I never can take up that subject without pointing the moral. It is my conviction that our nation is just as much charged with the obligation to help the unfortunate peoples of other countries that are thrust upon us by faith onto their feet to become a self governing people as it is the business of the wealthy and fortunate in the community to help the infirm and the unfortunate of that community. It is said that there is nothing in the constitution of the United States that authorizes national altruism of this sort. Well of course there is not, but there is nothing in the Constitution of the United States that forbids it. What there is in the Constitution of the United States is a breathing spirit that we are a nation with all the responsibilities that any nation ever had and, therefore, when it becomes the Christian duty of a nation to assist another nation, the constitution authorizes it because it is part of national well being.


Hot Springs, Virginia, August 5, 1908

Track 22 – What Constitutes An Unlawful Trust

The combination of capital in large plants that manufacture goods in the greatest economy is just as necessary as the assembling of the parts of a machine to the economical and more rapid manufacture of what in old times was made by hand. The government should not interfere with one any more than the other when such aggregations of capital are legitimate and are properly controlled, for they are then the natural result of modern enterprise and are beneficial to the public. In the proper operation of competition, the public will soon share with the manufacturer the advantage in economy of operation and lower prices. When, however, such combinations are not based on any economic principal but are made merely for the purpose of controlling the market to maintain or raise prices, restrict output and drive out competitors, the public derives no benefit and we have a monopoly. There must be some use for the company of the comparatively great size of its capital and plants and the extent of its output either to coerce persons to buy of it rather than of some competitor or to coerce those who would compete with it to give up their business. There must usually, in other words, be shown an element of duress in the conduct of its business towards the customers in the trade and its competitors before a mere aggregation of capital or plant becomes an unlawful monopoly. It is perfectly conceivable that in the interests of economy of production, a great number of plants may be legitimately assembled under the ownership of one corporation. It is important, therefore, that such large aggregations of capital and combination should be controlled so that the public may have the advantage of reasonable prices and that the avenues of enterprise may be kept open to the individual and the smaller corporation wishing to engage in business. In a country like this where in good times there is an enormous floating capital awaiting investment, the period before which effective competition by construction of new plants can be introduced into any business is comparatively short, rarely exceeding a year and is usually even less than that. Existence of actual plants is not therefore necessary to potential competition. Many enterprises have been organized on the theory that mere aggregation of all, or nearly all, existing plants in the line of manufacture without regard to economy of production destroys competition. They have, most of them, gone into bankruptcy. Competition in a profitable business will not be affected for the mere aggregation of many existing plants under one company unless the companies thereby affect great economy. The benefit of which it shares with the public or takes some illegal methods to avoid competition and to perpetuate a hold on the business.


Hot Springs, Virginia, August 5, 1908

Track 23 – Functions of the Next Administration

Mr. Roosevelt has set high the standard of business morality and obedience to law. The Railroad Race Bill was more useful possibly in the immediate moral effects of its passage than even the legal effects of its very useful provisions. From its enactment dates the voluntary abandonment of the practice of rebates and discriminations to the railroad and the return by their managers to obedience to law and the fixing of tariff. The Pure Food and Meat Inspection Laws and the prosecutions directed by the President under the anti- trust law have had a similar moral affect in the general business community and have made it now the common practice for the great industrial corporations to consult the law with a view to keeping within its provision. It has also had the effect of protecting and encouraging smaller competitive companies so that they have been enabled to do a profitable business. But we should be blind to the ordinary working of human nature if we did not recognize that the moral standards set by President Roosevelt will not continue to be observed by those whom cupidity and the desire for financial power may tempt, unless the requisite machinery is introduced into the law which shall in its practical operation maintain these standards and secure the country against the departure from them. The chief function of the next administration in my judgment is distinct from, and a progressive development of, that which has been performed by President Roosevelt. The chief function of the next administration is to complete and perfect the machinery by which these standards may be maintained, by which the lawbreakers may be promptly restrained and punished, but which shall operate with sufficient accuracy and dispatch to interfere with legitimate business as little as possible. Such machinery is not now adequate. There should be a classification of that very small percentage of industrial corporations having power and opportunity to affect illegal restraints of trade and monopolies and legislation either inducing or compelling them to subject themselves to registry and to proper publicity regulations and supervision of the Department of Commerce and Labor. The field covered by the industrial combinations and by the railroads is so very extensive that the interests of the public and the interests of the businesses concerned cannot be properly subserved except by reorganization of bureaus in the Department of Commerce and Labor, of Agriculture, and the Department of Justice, and a change in the jurisdiction of the Interstate Commerce Commission. It does not assist matters to prescribe new duties for the Interstate Commerce Commission which is as practically impossible for it to perform or to denounce new offences with drastic punishment unless subordinate and ancillary legislation shall be passed making possible the quick enforcement in the great variety of cases which are constantly arising of the principles laid down by Mr. Roosevelt and with respect to which only typical instances of prosecution with the present machinery are possible. Such legislation should and would greatly promote legitimate business by enabling those anxious to obey the federal statute to know just what are the bounds of their lawful action. The practical constructive and difficult work, therefore, of those who follow Mr. Roosevelt is to devise the ways and means by which the high level of business integrity and obedience to law which he has established may be maintained and departures from it restrained without undue interference with legitimate business.


Hot Springs, Virginia, August 27, 1908

Track 24 – Republican Responsibility And Performance; Democratic Responsibility And Failure

I have already pointed out that the Republican party long ago passed the Antitrust Law and is vigorously enforcing it. I have already stated that it passed the Interstate Commerce Law and its amendments, the Elkins Law and the Rate Bill, and is vigorously enforcing them. I have already dwelt on the great change for the better that has been brought about by this administration. I have said that the extent of the abuses were not known or realized during the time when the burden of the Spanish War and its consequences had to be met or until revelations were made early in this administration when the work of remedying them was at once begun. If these abuses were always well known, as now plain, and the necessity for their radical and drastic reform was clear to all and especially to the Democratic party under its present leadership, it would seem that of all the possible agencies for reform, the Democratic party is the one least entitled to any credit. For while the resolutions of its platforms in 1896, 1900 and 1904 denounced the abuses of corporate wealth, they never proposed feasible plans or made the prominent and chief issue of any campaign, the carrying out of what have now become known, and properly known, as the Roosevelt policy. On the contrary in 1896 the party made the chief issue a disastrous financial experiment which would have retarded the progress of this country a quarter of a century and sullied its financial honor. In 1900 the Party reiterated its adherence to this suicidal policy of repudiation of national and private debts and obligations and then advanced to the paramount issue of the campaign – not the trust, not corporate wealth and abuses - but rather the repudiation of all our international responsibilities growing out of the Spanish War and the destruction of what they called the growing cancer of imperialism in the policy of this country. Again, in 1904, instead of selecting the abuses and evils for which they now seek to make the Republican party responsible as the main issue of the campaign, the burden of their contention was the usurption of the powers of the Executive Office for President Roosevelt including his settlement of the anthracite coal strike and the violation of the federal constitutional limitations by the Republican party, while the extent of the trust evil was minimized by the statement of the then party candidates that the common law furnished sufficient remedy to suppress it, and for the general party declaration that nothing but safe and sane policies were to be adopted under the administration which should follow its success in the election. The people in 1896, by a substantial majority, rejected the plan of repudiation of the Democratic party. In 1900 the people again, by even a greater majority, rejected the plan of the Democratic party to repudiate the national responsibility, and in 1904 they again rejected the same party which had temporarily assumed its ancient character as a preserver of the Constitution. This is the record of the party whose policies it is claimed Mr. Roosevelt and the Republican party have stolen in the actual abolition of railway rebates and discrimination, in the active enforcement of the anti trust law, in the passage of a pure food law, in the passage of a meat inspection law and in the actual demonstration that corporate interests and influences do not control the passage of laws or the enforcement of them under the present Republican administration.



New York, September 24, 1912

Track 1: Woodrow Wilson On The Third Party

There is a new party, which it is difficult to characterize because it is made up of several elements. As I see it, it is made up three elements in particular. The first consists of those Republicans whose consciences and whose stomachs could not stand what the regular Republicans were doing. Added to this element are a great many men and women of noble character and of elevated purpose who believe that this combination of forces may, in the future, bring them out on a plane where they can accomplish those things which their hearts have so long desired. I have no word of criticism for them. Then there is a third element in the new party of which the less said the better. To discuss it would be interesting, only if I could mention names, and I have forbidden myself that indulgence. We have in this party two things. A political party and a body of social reformers. Mr. Roosevelt puts forth an admirable platform of what he would like to do for the people. But how is he going to do it? He proposes in his platform not to abolish monopoly, but to take it under the legal protection of the government and to regulate it. In other words, to take the very men into partnership who have been making it impossible to carry out these great programs by which all of us wish to help the people. It is perfectly idle to talk of doing things when your hands are tied for you, so long as the men who now control the industry of the country continue to control it. Now we don’t want to disturb the industry of the country; we are not here to destroy the industry which these men have developed. But we are here to destroy the control over the industry of other people which these men have established and which makes it impossible that we should give ourselves a free hand in the service of the people. There are two programs. The Democratic program is this – to see to it that competition is so regulated that the big fellow cannot put the little fellow out of business, for he has been putting the little fellow out of business for the last half generation. The program of the third party is to take these big fellows that have been putting the little fellow out of business and regulate them, saying, "that is all right--you have put the other fellows out of business--but we are not going to put the little fellows back where you destroyed them. We’re going to adopt you and say run the business of the country, but run it in the way we tell you to run it." The only thing you have to choose between therefore is this: Are you going to have fresh brains injected into the business of this country and the best men win, or are you going to make the present combinations permanent.


New York, September 24, 1912

Track 2 - Woodrow Wilson On The Trust

The tariff question as dealt with in our time has not been business, it has been politics. Tariff schedules have been made up for the purpose of keeping as large a number as possible of the rich and influential manufacturers of the country in a good humor with the Republican party which desires their constant financial support. The tariff has become our system of favor. It becomes a matter of business, of legitimate business, only when the partnership and understanding it represents is between the leaders of Congress and the whole people of the United States, instead of between the leaders of Congress and small groups of manufacturers demanding special recognition and consideration. That is why the general idea of representative government becomes a necessary part of the tariff question. What has the result been? Prosperity? Yes, if by prosperity you mean vast wealth no matter how distributed or whether distributed at all or not. If you mean vast enterprises built up to be presently concentrated under the control of comparatively small bodies of men, who can determine almost at pleasure whether there should be competition or not, the nation, as a whole, has grown immensely rich. But what of the other side of the picture? It is not as easy for us to live as it used to be. Our money will not buy as much. High wages, even when we get them, yield us no great comfort. We used to be better off with less, because a dollar could buy so much more. The majority of us have been disturbed to find ourselves growing poorer even though our earnings were slowly increasing. Prices climb faster than we can push our earnings up. Moreover, we begin to perceive some things about the movement of prices that concern us very deeply and fix our attention upon tariff schedules with a more definite determination than ever to get to the bottom of this matter. We know that they are not fixed by the competitions of the market, or by the ancient law of supply and demand, but by private arrangements with regard to what the supply should be and the agreements among the producers themselves. The high cost of living is arranged by a private understanding. This is the natural history of such tariffs as are now contrived as it is the natural history of all other governmental favor and of all licenses … to help certain groups of individuals along in life. The fact is that the trusts have been formed, have gained all but complete control of the larger enterprises of the country, have fixed prices and have fixed them high so that profits might be rolled up that were thoroughly worthwhile, and that the tariff, with its artificial protections and simulations, gave them the opportunity to do these things and have safeguarded them in that opportunity. Laws must be devised which will prevent this, if laws can be worked out by fair and free counsel, that will accomplish that result without destroying or seriously embarrassing any sound or legitimate business undertaking or necessary unwholesome arrangements. The Democratic party is not speaking destruction of any kind, nor the disruption of any sound or honest thing, but merely the rule of right and of the common advantage.


New York, September 24, 1912

Track 3 - Woodrow Wilson To The Farmers

I remember reading of a great day in the year 1775, when certain farmers took their guns in their hands and gathered into groups along the roads that led from Lexington in Massachusetts to Boston, and there quietly lay in order to intercept British troops who had come up on an errand aimed at the liberties of the colonies. And I have often heard, since that day, men speak of the embattled farmers at Lexington. Well, there are going to be embattled farmers again in the history of this country. Not with guns in their hands, but with ballots in their hands, who are going to come back and claim the sovereignty which they share with the rest of the people of the United States. I do not wish anything I say to be understood as embattling the farmers against any other great legitimate interest in this country, because our task at the present moment is the task of understanding one another so thoroughly that there will be only one cause, only one purpose, and men acting together can lift all the levels of our political life. The farmers of this country, however, are in a very interesting position. I have seen the interests of a great many classes specially regarded in legislation, but I must frankly say that I have never seen the interests of the farmer very often regarded in legislation, and one of the greatest impositions upon the farmers in this country that has ever been devised is the present tariff legislation of the United States. I have never heard anybody but orators on the stump say that the tariff was intended for the benefit of the farmer. When the United States was the granary of the world the farmers were not looking for protection, and while they were not looking, everything else had duties put upon it, and the cost of everything that they had to use was raised upon them until now it is almost impossible for them to make a legitimate profit. While you were feeding the world, Congress was feeding the trusts. I wish again to disavow all intentions of suggesting to the farmer that he go in and do somebody up. All that I am suggesting to you is that you break into your own house and live there, and I want you to examine very critically the character of the tenants who have been occupying it. The rent has been demanded of you and not of them. You have paid the money which enabled them to live in your own house and dominate your own premises. The tariff intimately concerns the farmer of this country. It makes a great deal of difference to you that Mr. Taft vetoed the Steel Bill. It makes a difference to you in the cost of practically every tool that you use upon the farm, and it is very significant that a Democratic House of Representatives passed the Steel Tariff Reduction Bill over the President’s veto. The farmer pays just as big a proportion of the tariff duties as anybody else. What happened in the Congress which has just recently adjourned? The House of Representatives with the acquiescence of a Senate, which is not Democratic, passed the Farmers Free List Bill. It put agriculture implements – lumber, shingles, salt, bagging and ties on the free list. Then what happened to the bill? It was vetoed by the President because, consciously or unconsciously, he represents not the people of the United States, but those who have held the peoples power and trust for their own purposes.


New York, September 24, 1912

Track 4 – Democratic Principles

We stand in the presence of an awakened nation impatient of partisan make-believe. The nation has awakened to a sense of neglected ideals and neglected duties to a consciousness that the rank and file of her people find life very hard to sustain. That her young men find opportunity embarrassed and that her older men find business difficult to renew and maintain because of circumstances of privilege and private advantage which have interlaced their subtle threads throughout almost every part of the framework of our present law. She has awakened to the knowledge that she has lost certain cherished liberties and wasted priceless resources which she had solemnly undertaken to hold in trust for posterity and for all mankind, and to the conviction that she stands confronted with an occasion for constructive statesmanship such as has not arisen since the great days in which our government was set up. There never was a time when impatience and suspicion were more keenly aroused by private powers selfishly employed, when jealously of everything concealed or touched with any purpose not linked with the general good or inconsistent with it, more sharply or immediately displayed itself. Nor is the country ever more susceptible to unselfish appeals or to the high arguments of sincere justice; these are the unmistakable symptoms of an awakening. There is the more need for wise counsel because the people are so ready to heed counsel, if it be given honestly and in their interests. It is in the broad light of this new day that we stand face to face with great questions of right and of justice, questions of national development, of the development of character and of the standards of action, no less than of a better business system--more free, more equitable, more open to ordinary men, practicable to live under, tolerable to work under--or a better fiscal system whose taxes shall not come out of the pockets of the many because of the pockets of the few, and within whose intricacies special privilege may not so easily find cover. What is there to do? There are two great things to do. One is to set up the rule of justice and of rights in such matters as the tariff, the correction of the trusts and the prevention of monopoly, the adaptation of our banking and currency laws to the very beauties of which our people must put them, the treatment of those who do the daily labor in our factories and mines and throughout all of our great industrial and commercial undertakings as they should be treated in a civilized politic, and the political life of the people of the Philippines for whom we hold governmental power in trust for their service, not our own. The other thing, the additional duty, is the great task of protecting our people and our resources, and of keeping open to the whole people the doors of opportunity to which they must, generation by generation, pass if they are to make conquests of their fortunes in health, in freedom, in peace and in contentment. In the performance of this second great duty, we are face to face with questions of conservation and of development, questions of forests and water powers, and mines and waterways, and the building of an adequate merchant marine, of the opening of every highway and facility, and the setting up of every safeguard needed by a great industrious expanding nation.


New York, September 24, 1912

Track 5 – Woodrow Wilson On Labor

To look at the politics of the day from the viewpoint of the laboring man is not to suggest that there is one view proper to him, another to the employer, another to the capitalist, another to the professional man, but merely that the life of the country as a whole may be looked at from various points of view and yet be viewed as a whole. The whole business of politics is to bring classes together, upon a platform of accommodation and common interest. In a political campaign the voters are called upon to choose between parties and leaders. Parties and platforms and candidates should be frankly put under examination to see what they will yield us by way of progress, and there are a great many questions which the working man may legitimately ask and press until he gets a definite answer. The predictions of the leader of the new party are as alarming as the predictions of the various stand-patters. He declares that he is not troubled by the fact that a very large amount of money is taken out of the pockets of the general tax payer and put into the pockets of particular classes of protected manufacturers, but that his concern is that so little of this money gets into the pockets of the laboring man, and so large a proportion of it into the pockets of the employer. I have searched his program very thoroughly for an indication of what he expects to do in order to see to it that a larger proportion of this prize money gets into the pay envelope, and I have found only one suggestion. There is a plank in the program which speaks of establishing a minimum or a living wage for women workers, and I suppose that we may assume that the principal is not in the long run meant to be confined in its application to women only. Perhaps we are justified in assuming that the third party looks forward to the general establishment, by law, of a minimum wage. It is very likely, I take it for granted, that if a minimum wage were established by law, the great majority of employers would take occasion to bring their wage scale as nearly as might be down to the level of that minimum, and it would be very awkward for the working man to resist that process successfully, because it would be dangerous to strike against the authority of the federal government. Moreover, most of his employers, at any rate practically all of the most powerful of them, would be wards and protégés of that very government which is the master of us all, for no part of this program can be discussed intelligently without remembering that monopoly as handled by it is not to be prevented, but accepted and regulated. When you have thought the whole thing out, therefore, you will find that the program of the new party legalizes monopoly and of necessity subordinates working men to them, and to the plans made by the government both with regard to employment and with regard to wages. Take the thing as a whole and it looks strangely like economic mastery over the very lives and fortunes of those who do the daily work of the nation, and all this under the overwhelming power and sovereignty of the national government. What most of us are fighting for is to break up this very partnership between big business and the government.


New York, September 24, 1912

Track 6 – Woodrow Wilson On The Tariff

We stand in the presence of an awakened nation. Plainly it is a new age. There are two great things to do. One is to set up the rule of justice and right in such matters as the tariff, the regulation of trust, and the prevention of monopoly. The business of government is to separate special and particular interests from the general interests of wide community. The initial task this year is to get our government in such shape that we can use it for our own purpose, not against anybody in particular, but for everybody in general. We want to establish a real partnership between all the people and the federal government instead of between special interests and the federal government. We must affect a great readjustment and get the forces of the whole people once more into play. The tariff question as dealt with in our time has not been business; it has been politics. The tariff has become a system of favors. Tariff schedules have been determined in committee rooms and in conferences. The tariff becomes a matter of legitimate business only when the understanding it represents is between the leaders of Congress and the whole people of the United States, instead of between the leaders of Congress and small groups of manufacturers demanding special recognition and consideration. That is the heart of the whole affair. It is at bottom a question of good faith and morals. Our conviction as Democrats is that the only legitimate object of tariff duties is to raise revenue for the support of the government. We denounce the Payne-Aldrich Tariff Act as the most conspicuous example ever recorded of the special favors and monopolistic advantages which the leaders of the Republican party have too often shown themselves willing to extend to those to whom they look for campaign contributions. The changes which we make should be made only at such a rate, and in such a way, as will least interfere with the normal and healthful course of commerce and manufacture. There should be an immediate revision downward. It should begin with the schedules most obviously used to kill competition and raise prices in the United States and should be extended to every item which affords opportunity for monopoly and special advantage, until special favors shall have been absolutely withdrawn and our laws of taxation transformed from a system of governmental patronage into a system of just and reasonable charges which shall fall where they will create the least burden. The Republican party does not propose to change any of the essential conditions which mark our present difficulties. Mr. Roosevelt proposes in his platform not to abolish monopoly, but to take it under the legal protection of the government and to regulate it, to take the very men into partnership who have been making it impossible to carry out these great programs by which all of us wish to help the people. We do not wish to disturb the industry of the country, but to destroy the control over the industry of other people which these men have established and which makes it impossible that we should give ourselves a free field of public service.


Oyster Bay, New York, August, 1912

(The second half of the speech is an excerpt from "A Confession of Faith," an address originally delivered to the national convention of the Progressive party in Chicago on August 6, 1912. See Social Justice and Popular Rule: Essays, Addresses, and Public Statements Relating to the Progressive Movement (1910-1916) by Theodore Roosevelt.)

Track 7 – The Progressive Covenant With The People

Political parties exist to secure responsible government and to execute the will of the people. From these great tasks both of the old parties have turned aside. Instead of instruments to promote the general welfare they have become the tools of corrupt interests, which use them impartially to serve their selfish purposes. Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics, is the first task of the statesmanship of the day. Unhampered by tradition, uncorrupted by power, undismayed by the magnitude of the task, the new party offers itself as the instrument of the people, to sweep away old abuses, to build a new and nobler government. This declaration is our convenant with the people and we hereby bind the party and its candidates, in state and nation, to the pledges made herein. With all my heart and soul, with every particle of high purpose that is within me, I pledge you my word to do everything I can to put every particle of courage, of common sense, and of strength that I have at your disposal, and to endeavor so far as strength has given me to live up to the obligations you have put upon me, and to endeavor to carry out in the interest of our whole people the policies to which you have today solemnly dedicated yourselves in the name of the millions of men and women for whom you speak.

Surely there never was a fight better worth making than the one in which we are engaged. It little matters what befalls any one of us who for the time being stand in the forefront of the battle. I hope we shall win, and I believe that if we can wake the people to what the fight really means, we shall win. But win or lose, we shall not falter. Whatever fate may at the moment overtake any of us, the movement itself will not stop. Our cause is based on the eternal principles of righteousness; even though we who now lead may for the time fail, in the end the cause itself shall triumph. Six weeks ago, here in Chicago, I spoke to the honest representatives of a convention which was not dominated by honest men. A convention wherein sat, alas, a majority of men who, with sneering indifference to every principle of right, so acted as to bring to a shameful end a party which had been founded over half a century ago by men in whose souls burned the fire of lofty endeavor. Now to you men, who, in your turn, have come together to spend and be spent in the endless crusade against wrong, to you who face the future resolute and confident, to you who strive in a spirit of brotherhood for the betterment of our nation, to you who gird yourselves for this great new fight in the never-ending warfare for the good of human- kind, I say in closing what in that speech I said in closing: we stand at Armageddon, and we battle for the Lord.


Oyster Bay, New York, c. August, 1912

(This speech contains excerpts from "The Right of People to Rule," an address originally delivered at Carnegie Hall, New York City, on March 20, 1912. See Social Justice and Popular Rule: Essays, Addresses, and Public Statements Relating to the Progressive Movement (1910-1916) by Theodore Roosevelt.)

Track 8 – The Right Of The People To Rule

The great fundamental issue now before our people can be stated briefly. It is, "Are the American people fit to govern themselves, to rule themselves, to control themselves?" I believe they are; my opponents do not. I believe in the right of the people to rule. I believe that the majority of the plain people of the United States will, day in and day out, make fewer mistakes in governing themselves than any smaller class or body of men, no matter what their training, will make in trying to govern them. I believe, again, that the American people are, as a whole, capable of self-control, and of learning by their mistakes. Our opponents pay lip-loyalty to this doctrine, but they show their real beliefs by the way in which they champion every device to make the nominal rule of the people a sham. I am not leading this fight as a matter of aesthetic pleasure. I am leading because somebody must lead, or else the fight would not be made at all. I prefer to work with moderate, with rational-conservatives, provided only that they do in good faith strive forward towards the light. But when they halt and turn their backs to the light, and sit with the scorners on the seats of reaction, then I must part company with them. We the people cannot turn back. Our aim must be steady, wise progress.

It would be well if all people would study the history of a sister republic. All the woes of France for a century and a quarter have been due to the folly of her people in splitting into two camps of unreasonable conservatism and unreasonable radicalism. Had pre- Revolutionary France listened to men like Turgot, and backed them up, all would have gone well. But the beneficiaries of privilege, the Bourbon reactionaries, the shortsighted ultra-conservatives, turned down Turgot and then found that instead of him they had obtained Robespierre. They gained twenty years freedom from all restraint and reform, at the cost of the whirlwind of the "red terror" and in their turn the unbridled extremists of the terror induced a blind reaction. And so, with convulsion and oscillation from one extreme to another, with alternations of violent radicalism and violent Bourbonism, the French people went through misery toward a shattered goal. May we profit from the experiences of our fellow republicans across the water, and go forward steadily, avoiding all wild extremes; and may our ultra-conservatives remember that the rule of the Bourbons brought on the Revolution, and may our would-be revolutionaries remember that no Bourbon was ever such a dangerous enemy of the people and their freedom as the professed friend of both, Robespierre.

There is no danger of a revolution in this country; but there is grave discontent and unrest, and in order to remove them there is need of all the wisdom and probity and deep- seated faith in and purpose to uplift humanity we have at our command. Friends, our task as Americans is to strive for social and industrial justice, achieved through the genuine rule of the people. This is our end, our purpose. The methods for achieving the end are merely expedients, to be finally accepted or rejected, according as actual experience shows that they work well or ill. But in our hearts we must have this lofty purpose, and strive for it in all earnestness and sincerity, or our work will come to nothing. In order to succeed we need leaders of inspired idealism, leaders to whom are granted great visions, who dream greatly and strive to make their dreams come true; who can kindle the people with the fire from their own burning souls. The leader for the time being, whoever he may be, is but an instrument, to be used until broken and then to be cast aside; and if he is worth his salt he will care no more when he is broken than a soldier cares where he is sent, where his life is proffered in order that the victory may be won. In the long fight for righteousness the watchword for all of us is "spend and be spent."


Oyster Bay, New York, c. August, 1912

(The speech contains excerpts from "A Confession of Faith," an address originally delivered to the national convention of the Progressive party in Chicago on August 6, 1912. See Social Justice and Popular Rule: Essays, Addresses, and Public Statements Relating to the Progressive Movement (1910-1916) by Theodore Roosevelt.)

Track 9 – The Farmer And The Business Man

There is no body of our people whose interests are more inextricably interwoven with the interests of all the people than is the case with the farmers. The Country Life Commission should be revived with greatly increased powers; its abandonment was a severe blow to the interests of our people. The welfare of the farmer is a basic need of this nation. It is the men from the farm who in the past have taken the lead in every great movement within this nation, whether in time of war or in time of peace. It is well to have our cities prosper, but it is not well if they prosper at the expense of the country. In this movement the lead must be taken by the farmers themselves; but our people as a whole, through their governmental agencies, should back the farmers. Everything possible should be done to better the economic condition of the farmer, and also to increase the social value of the life of the farmer, the farmer’s wife, and their children. The burdens of labor and loneliness bear heavily on the women in the country; their welfare should be the especial concern of all of us. Everything possible should be done to make life in the country profitable so as to be attractive from the economic standpoint and there should be just the same chance to live as full, as well rounded, and as highly useful lives in the country as in the city.

The government must cooperate with the farmer to make the farm more productive. There must be no skinning of the soil. The farm should be left for the farmer’s son in better, and not worse, condition because of its cultivation. Moreover, every invention and improvement, every discovery and economy, should be at the service of the farmer in the work of production; and in addition, he should be helped to cooperate in business fashion with these fellows, so that the money paid by the consumer for the product of the soil shall, to as large a degree as possible, go into the pockets of the man who raised that product from the soil. So long as the farmer leaves cooperative activities with their profit-sharing to the city man of business, so long will the foundations of wealth be undermined and the comforts of enlightenment be impossible in the country communities.

The present conditions of business cannot be accepted as satisfactory. There are too many who do not prosper enough, and of the few who prosper greatly there are certainly some whose prosperity does not mean well for the country. Rational Progressives, no matter how radical, are well aware that nothing the government can do will make some men prosper, and we heartily approve the prosperity, no matter how great, of any man, if it comes as an incident to rendering service to the community; but we wish to shape conditions so that a greater number of the small men in business--the decent, respectable, industrious, and energetic men who conduct small businesses, who are retail traders, who run small stores and shops--shall be able to succeed, and so that the big man who is dishonest, shall not be allowed to succeed at all.

Our aim is to control business, not to strangle it--and above all, not to continue a policy of make-believe strangle towards big concerns that do evil, and constant menace toward both big and little concerns that do well.

Our aim is to promote prosperity and then to see that prosperity is passed around, that there is a proper division of prosperity. We wish to control big business so as to secure among other things good wages for the wageworkers and reasonable prices for the consumers. We will not submit to the prosperity that is obtained by lowering the wages of working men and charging an excessive price to consumers, nor to that other kind of prosperity obtained by swindling investors or getting unfair advantages over business rivals. We propose to make it worth while for our business men to develop the most efficient business agencies, but we propose to make these business agencies do complete justice to our whole people. We’re against crooked business, big or little. We are in favor of honest business, big or little. We propose to penalize conduct and not size.


Oyster Bay, New York, c. August, 1912

(The speech contains excerpts from "A Confession of Faith," an address originally delivered to the national convention of the Progressive party in Chicago on August 6, 1912. See Social Justice and Popular Rule: Essays, Addresses, and Public Statements Relating to the Progressive Movement (1910-1916) by Theodore Roosevelt.)

Track 10 – Social and Industrial Justice

Our prime concern is that in dealing with the fundamental law of the land, and assuming finally to interpret it and therefore finally to make it, the acts of the courts should be subject to and not above the final control of the people as a whole. I deny that the American people have surrendered to any set of men, no matter what their position or their character, the final right to determine those fundamental questions upon which free self-government ultimately depends. The people themselves must be the ultimate makers of their own constitution, and where their agents differ in their interpretations of the constitution, the people themselves should be given the chance, after full and deliberate judgment, authoritatively to settle what interpretation it is that their representatives shall thereafter adopt as binding. We do not question the general honesty of the courts, but in applying to present-day social conditions the general prohibitions that were intended originally as safeguards to the citizen against the arbitrary power of government in the hands of caste and privilege, these prohibitions have been turned by the courts from safeguards against political and social privilege into barriers against political and social justice and advancement. Our purpose is not to impugn the courts, but to emancipate them from a position where they stand in the way of social justice, and to emancipate the people in an orderly way from the inequity of enforced submission to a doctrine which would turn constitutional provisions, which were intended to favor social justice and advancement, into prohibitions against such justice and advancement.

In the last twenty years an increasing percentage of our people have come to depend on industry for their livelihood, so that today the wage-workers in industry rank in importance side by side to the tillers of the soil. As a people, we cannot afford to let any group of citizens or any individual citizen, live or labor under conditions which are injurious to the common welfare. Industry, therefore, must submit to such public regulation as will make it a means of life and health, not of death or inefficiency. We must protect the crushable elements at the base of our present industrial structure. We stand for a living wage. Wages are subnormal if they fail to provide a living for those who devote their time and energy to industrial occupations. The monetary equivalent of a living wage varies according to local conditions, but must include enough to secure the elements of a normal standard of living--a standard high enough to make morality possible, to provide for education and recreation, to care for immature members of the family, to maintain the family during periods of sickness, and to permit a reasonable savings for old age. Hours are excessive if they fail to afford the worker sufficient time to recuperate and return to his work thoroughly refreshed. We hold that the night labor of women and children is abnormal and should be prohibited; we hold that the employment of women over forty-eight hours per week is abnormal and should be prohibited. We hold the seven-day working week is abnormal, and we hold that one day of rest in seven should be provided by law. We hold that the continuous industries, operating twenty-four hours out of twenty-four, are abnormal, and where, because of public necessity or for technical reasons (such as molten metal), the twenty-four hours must be divided into two shifts of twelve hours or three shifts of eight, they should by law be divided into three of eight.


Emporia, Kansas, September 22, 1912

Track 11 – The Liberty Of The People

The difference between Mr. Wilson and myself is fundamental. The other day in a speech at Sioux Falls, Mr. Wilson stated his position when he said that the history of government, the history of liberty, was the history of the limitation of governmental power. This is true as an academic statement of history in the past. It is not true as a statement affecting the present. It is true of the history of medieval Europe. It is not true of the history of 20th Century America. In the days when all governmental power existed exclusively in the King or in the baronage, and when the people had no shred of that power in their own hand, then it undoubtedly was true that the history of liberty was the history of the limitation of the governmental power of the outsiders who possessed that power. But today, the people have actually or potentially the entire governmental power. It is theirs to use and to exercise if they choose to use and to exercise it. It offers the only adequate instrument with which they can work for the betterment, for the uplifting, of the masses of our people. The liberty of which Mr. Wilson speaks today means merely the liberty of some great trust magnate to do that which he is not entitled to do. It means merely the liberty of some factory owner to work haggard women over hours for under pay and himself to pocket the proceeds. It means the liberty of the factory owner who crowds his operatives into some crazy deathtrap on a top floor, where if fire starts the slaughter is immense. It means the liberty of the big factory owner who is conscienceless and unscrupulous, to work his men and women under conditions which eat into their lives like an acid. It means the liberty of even less conscientious factory owners to make their money out of the toil, the labor, of little children. Men of this stamp are the men whose liberty would be preserved by Mr. Wilson. Men of this stamp are the men whose liberty would be preserved by the limitation of governmental power. We propose, on the contrary, to extend governmental power in order to secure the liberty of the wage- workers, of the men and women who toil in industry, to save the liberty of the oppressed from the oppressor. Mr. Wilson stands for the liberty of the oppressor to oppress; we stand for the limitation of his liberty thus to oppress those who are weaker than himself.


Emporia, Kansas, September 22, 1912

Track 12 – Mr. Roosevelt Pays His Respects to Penrose and Archbold

In this contest, we have a right to appeal to all honest men to support us without regard to what their political affiliations may have been in the past. The powers that prey are united against us. The powers that prey pay no heed to a question of partisanships in this contest. Some of them may, individually, prefer Mr. Wilson to Mr. Taft and others may prefer Mr. Taft to Mr. Wilson. But the preference for either is tepid compared to the intensity of their animosity towards us, and their willingness to stand by either of the other two candidates or by anyone else, if only they can beat the Progressive party. The reason is evident, these men, the big bosses of the political field, the beneficiaries of privilege in the field of industry, the men who represent that sinister alliance between crooked politics and crooked business, which has done more than anything else for the corruption of American life, are united as one man against the genuine rule of the people themselves. The privileged classes, the representatives of special privilege, of special interests, can always make terms with a boss or bosses. They can make terms with the bosses who dominate the Republican party, they can make terms with the bosses who dominate the Democratic party, but they can’t make terms with the people. They can’t make terms with the men who honestly and genuinely represent the popular will. The attitude of our opponents has been well shown by the alliance between Messrs. Penrose and Archbold. You may remember that the other day, Senator Penrose of Pennsylvania and Mr. Archbold of the Standard Oil Company appeared before a senate committee to testify against me. That is, nominally, they were to testify against me. Really, they were testifying against Mr. Cornelius Bliss who is dead. Mr. Bliss was the Treasurer of the Republican National Committee during the lifetime of President McKinley and he continued in that position until after 1904 when I ran for President. He lived for seven years after the events as to which these two men have testified. While he lived they never dared open their mouths against him, but now he is dead and the two valiant souls come forward to bear witness against a dead man.


Emporia, Kansas, September 22, 1912

Track 13 – The "Abyssinian Treatment" Of Standard Oil

What was really interesting in their testimony, however, was the sidelight it cast on their own motives and standard of propriety, and incidentally, an unwitting tribute to the attitude of my administration. If you will turn to Page 133 of the Record. (You can get the record, I will say incidentally, from your senator, unless he’s a stands-pat senator in which place, you probably can’t get it from him.) If you will turn to Page 133 of the Record, you will find where Mr. Archbold says, substantially, "Darkest Abyssinia can show nothing to compare with the treatment administered to the Standard Oil Corporation during the administration of President Roosevelt." In this instance, Mr. Archbold is testifying to what is quite correct. I did administer the Abyssinian treatment to the Standard Oil Corporation while I was president. I administered it because I thought The Standard Oil needed it. And if ever I am president again, and the Standard Oil or any other corporation acts as the Standard Oil then did, I’ll administer the Abyssinian treatment to it again. That’s why Mr. Archbold and Mr. Penrose are trying to beat me and to beat the Progressive party. You may notice that Mr. Archbold doesn’t complain that the present administration ever administered the Abyssinian treatment to the Standard Oil Company. Not a bit of it. Mr. Archbold has no fear that either the Democratic or Republican parties, if successful at the next election, would administer the Abyssinian treatment to the Standard Oil Corporation or to any other of the big law breaking trusts. Mr. Archbold knows that the Standard Oil could make its peace with, could come to an agreement with, the men who manage the Republican party or the men who manage the Democratic party, but he also knows that he could make no peace with the leaders of the Progressive party, and he could make no peace with the Progressive party itself because it is in very fact the party of the people of the United States. Again, on the next page of the testimony, you will find where Mr. Bliss is quoted by Mr. Archbold as saying that he had no influence with me. That he could not stop my proceedings at the time when, as Mr. Archbold says, I was engaged in administering the Abyssinian treatment to the Standard Oil Corporation.


Emporia, Kansas, September 22, 1912

Track 14 – Why The Trusts And Bosses Oppose The Progressive Party

Now this statement of Mr. Archbold represents but part of the truth. Mr. Bliss did have real and great influence with me. I respected him and admired him. I should have paid heed to any request or suggestion he made, would have carefully considered it and would have earnestly desired to adopt it, if I honorably could. But it is perfectly true that neither Mr. Bliss nor any other human being ever had any influence over me so far as concerned getting me to abandon the prosecution of any corporation or any individual engaged in wrong doing. To this extent, Mr. Archbold’s testimony is entirely true, and I call your attention to the fact that Mr. Archbold and Mr. Penrose come forward to testify against me only because at the moment, I am heading the Progressive movement. Were I a private citizen, it wouldn’t enter their heads to make any assault on me. They dislike me, I grant you, and the longer I live the greater cause I shall give them to dislike me. But that isn’t the fundamental motive that’s influencing them. The fundamental motive that induces them to act as they have acted in this matter is, not merely that they dislike me, but far more because they dread you. They dread you, the people. You and those like you who make up the people of the United States. They know that their time has come once the people obtain real power. We stand for the rights of the people. We stand for the rights of the wage-worker. We stand for his right to a living wage. We stand for the right and duty of the government to limit the hours of women in industry, to abolish child labor, to shape the conditions of life and living so that the average wage worker shall be able so to lead his own life and so to support his wife and his children that these children shall grow up into men and women fit for the exacting duties of American citizenship. The big trust magnates of the type of Mr. Archbold, the big politicians of the old boss type so well represented by Mr. Penrose, stand against the people. They object to the government, to government being used primarily in the interest of the people themselves. Naturally, they will do all they can to breakdown the only real enemies that they have and the only real champions, the only real and efficient champions of popular right, and economic, social, and industrial justice.


Emporia, Kansas, September 22, 1912

Track 15 – The Farmer And The Business Man

The welfare of our people is vitally and intimately concerned with the welfare of the farmer. The Country Life Commission should be revived with greatly increased power. It’s abandonment was a severe blow to the interest of our nation, for the welfare of the farmer is a basic need of this nation. It is the men from the farms who in the past have taken the lead in every great movement within our country, whether in time of war or in time of peace. It is well to have our cities prosper, but it is not well if they prosper at the expense of the country. In this movement, the lead must be taken by the farmers themselves. But our people as a whole, through their governmental agency should back them up. Everything possible should be done for the better economic condition of the farmer and also to increase the social value of the life of the farmer’s wife and their children, no less than of the farmer himself. The burdens of labor and loneliness bear heavily on the women in the country. Their welfare should be the especial concern of all of us. Everything possible should be done to make life in the country profitable so as to be attractive from an economic standpoint, and there should be just the same chance to live as full, as well-rounded, and as useful lives in the country as in the city. The government must cooperate with the farmer to make the farm more productive. There must be no skinning of the soil. The farm should be left to the farmer’s son, in better and not worse condition because of its cultivation. Moreover, every invention and improvement, every discovery and economy, should be at the service of the farmer in the work of production and in addition, he should be helped to cooperate in business fashion with his fellows so that the money paid to the consumer for the product of the soil, shall to as large a degree as possible, go into the pockets of the man who raised that product from the soil. So long as the farmer leaves cooperative activities with their profit sharing to the city man of business, so long will the foundations of wealth be undermined and the comforts of enlightenment be impossible in the country community.

The present condition of living cannot be accepted as satisfactory. There are too many who do not prosper enough, and of the few who prosper greatly, there are certainly some whose prosperity does not mean welfare for the country. Rational progressives, no matter how radical, are well aware that nothing the government can do will make some men prosper, and we heartily approve the prosperity, no matter how great of any man, if it comes because of his rendering service to the community. But we wish, so to shape condition, that a greater number of the small men in business, the decent, respectable, industrious and energetic men, who conduct small businesses, who are retail traders, who run small stores and shops, shall be able to succeed and so that the big man who is dishonest, shall not be allowed to succeed at all. Our aim is to control business, not to strangle it. And above all, not to continue the policy of make-believe strangle toward big concerns that do evil and constant menace towards both big and little concerns that do well. Our aim is to promote prosperity and then to see that prosperity is passed around. But there is a proper division of prosperity. We wish to control big business among other reasons so that we may secure good wages for the wageworker as well as reasonable prices for the consumer. We will not submit to the prosperity that is obtained by lowering the wages of working men and charging an excessive price to the consumer. Nor to that other kind of prosperity that is obtained by swindling investors or by getting unfair advantage over smaller business rivals.


Beverly, Massachusetts, October 1, 1912

Track 16 – President Taft On Prosperity

Before all reform, before all changes, before every other consideration and importance, is a furnishing to the people the means of living, the means of enjoying comfort in their lives, and of educating their children, of making their homes attractive; and all this depends upon the high rate of wages, the great demand for labor and the continuance of prosperity and good business. How foolish the American people would be to hazard the continuance of this by voting into power a party whose first declared principal is hostility to the policy of protection upon which our business is conducted. Under a Republican administration, there’s nothing to fear from a policy of Congress in respect to the tariff or any other economic policy which will disturb business or frighten capital. With the incoming of a Democratic administration, and if it comes in, it’s difficult to see how it can come in without absolute control of both Houses of Congress. I ask the business interests of this country, I ask the wage earners--whether when they receive the news the day after the election that there’s to be absolutely Democratic control of the financial and economic problems of this country after the 4th of March--whether even a mere doubt as to what the Democratic party would do with this power in respect to the tariff would not halt and paralyze business. I ask them whether when the time comes and we might reasonably expect the change which is to take away the protection from our protected industry and so injure or destroy them, we would not see the prosperity which is now making everyone happy fade away, and if we would not be met with those dreadful symptoms of panic and hard times for which fortunately only the older of the present generation are familiar.


Beverly, Massachusetts, October 1, 1912

Track 17 – Peace

I am willing to admit that war has accomplished much in the progress of the world. I am willing to admit that there are certain crises in the forward march of Christian civilization that perhaps could not have been met than in any other way than by the sword. I am willing to admit that war develops certain heroic traits in men and furnishes a test for the evidence of the highest character. Perhaps too, it trains and disciplines people. But the other side of the picture justifies the prayer of every man, of every civilized man, that war should be abolished and that the suffering, cruelty, corruption and demoralization that follow in its train should be, as far as we can bring it about, lifted as a burden from the human race. It is our duty to take every legitimate and proper step we can to persuade the nations of the world to settle their controversies in some other way. They are looking to us as a country independent of entangling alliances separated from all possible attacks by two wide oceans; rich, powerful, and in a situation where nobody can accuse us of being afraid of any nation or of taking this step because we are afraid of war, if war were a necessity. It is the common people of the world that are interested in this business, they know when we have war, it is they that have to bear the burden. It’s their sisters, and mothers and daughters that have to wait, trembling, to hear the news from the battlefields to learn whether their dear ones have bitten the dust. It’s the grave mass of the plain people that Lincoln loved so well that have to stand the brunt of war. They do not have the glory of coming home with the gold lace and the feathers and all that falls to the leader. They are not elected President because they happen to be successful. They know the demoralization that follows in the wake of war. We should lead the way and all doubts as to our constitutional authority should be resolved in favor of our stepping forward as a nation with the power, the wealth, the fortune and the opportunity that God has given us to help along the movement of Christian progress towards permanent peace.


Beverly, Massachusetts, October 1, 1912

Track 18 – President Taft On A Protective Tariff

The platform of 1908 promised on behalf of the Republican party to do certain things. One was that the tariff would be revised at an extra session. An extra session was called and the tariff was revised. The platform did not say in specific words that the revision would be generally downward, but I construed it to mean that. During the pendency of the bill and after it was passed, it was subjected to the most vicious misrepresentation. It was said to be a bill to increase the tariff rather than to reduce it. The law has been in force now since August 1909--a period of about 35 months. We are able to judge from its operation how far the statement is true that it did reduce duty; it has vindicated itself. Under its operation prosperity has been gradually restored since the panic of 1907. There have been no disastrous failures and no disastrous strikes. The percentage of reduction below the Dingley Bill is shown in the larger Free List and in the lower percentage of the tariff collected on the total value of the goods imported. The figures show that under the Dingley Bill, which was enforced 144 months, the average percent of the imports that came in free was in value 44 and 3/10ths percent of the total importation, and that under the Payne Bill, which has been in force 35 months, the average percent in value of the imports which have come in free amounts to 51 and 2/10ths percent of the total. But the average advalorem of the duties on all importation under the 12 years of the Dingley Bill were 45 and 8/10ths percent, while under the 35 months of the Payne Bill this was 41 and 2/10ths percent, and that the average advalorem of the dutiable imports under the Dingley Bill was 25 and 5/10ths percent, while under the Payne bill it was 20 and1/10ths percent. In other words, considering only reductions on dutiable goods, the reduction in duties from the Dingley Bill to the Payne Bill was 10 percent, and considering both free and dutiable reduction, they amounted to 21 percent.


Beverly, Massachusetts, October 1, 1912

Track 19 – Who Are The People?

I cannot think that the American people, after the scrutiny and education of this campaign during which they will be able to see through the fog of misrepresentation and demagoguery, will fail to recognize that the two great issues, which are here presented to them, are: First, whether we shall retain on a sound and permanent basis, our popular constitutional representative form of government with the independence of the judiciary as necessary to the preservation of those liberties that are the inheritance of centuries, and second, whether we shall welcome prosperity which is just at our door by maintaining our present economic business basis, and by the encouragement of business expansion and progress through legitimate use of capital. May we not hope that the great majority of voters will be able to distinguish between the substance of performance and the question of promise? That they may be able to see that those who would deliberately stir up discontent and create hostility toward those who are conducting legitimate business enterprises, and who represent the business progress of the country, are sowing dragon seed. Who are the people? They are not alone the unfortunate and the weak. They are the weak and the strong, the poor and the rich, and the many who are neither. The wage earner and the capitalist, the farmer and the professional man, the merchant and the manufacturer, the storekeeper and the clerk, the railroad manager and the employee, they all make up the people, and they all contribute to the running of the government, and they have not, anyone of them, given into the hands of anyone the mandate that speaks for them as peculiarly the peoples’ representative. Especially does not he represent them, who assuming that only the people are the discontented, would stir them up against the remainder of those whose government alike this is. In other campaigns before this, the American people have been confused and misled and diverted from the truth, and from a clear perception of their welfare, by specious appeals to their prejudices and their misunderstanding. But the clarifying effect of a campaign of education, the breaking of the bubbles of demagogic promise, which the discussions of a campaign made possible, have brought the people to a clear perception of their own injuries and to a rejection of the injurious nostrum that in the beginning of the campaign it was then feared they might embrace and adopt. So may we not expect in the issues which are now before us, that the ballots cast in November shall show a prevailing majority in favor of sound progress great prosperity upon a protective basis and under true constitutional and representative rule by the people.


Beverly, Massachusetts, October 1, 1912

Track 20 – The Antitrust Law

When the case of our party is stated for national consideration, it seems strange why there should be any doubt of the conclusion that the electorate will reach in respect to the continuance of the administration in power in Washington. Four years ago we made many promises, all of which we have substantially kept, and the issues which are presented today are issues upon which it would seem that the voters of this country have not changed their minds, and opt not to change them. In the first place, the happiness of the people is more deeply affected by the prosperity and good business that prevail than by any other one condition. A national government cannot create good times; it cannot make the rain to fall, the sun to shine, or the crops to grow. But it can, by pursuing a meddlesome policy attempting to change economic condition and frightening the investment of capital, prevent a prosperity and revival of business which otherwise might have taken place. And in view of the experience of the past, in which we have seen efforts to bring about a change in monetary or economic policies halt enterprise, paralyze investments, and throw out of employment hundreds of thousands of working men, the virtue of having taken no step to interfere with the coming of prosperity and the comfort of the people is one that ought highly to commend an administration and the party responsible for it as worthy of further continuance in power. It has been said against this administration that in the prosecution of the trust law it has needlessly interfered with business and has paralyzed investment. The answer to the charge is first, that as long as the statute is upon the statute book, it’s the sworn duty of the President and his assistant to see that the law is executed, and second, that as he has done so and as prosperity is here and is budding forth on every side in full view of the people of the country, the charge that the administration has interfered with business or the revival of prosperity is refuted. On the contrary, the inference to be drawn is that the country has squared itself to the law as it appears into its enforcement, and it’s coming to know that it is possible to do all business within the law, and that the performance of the promise in respect to the law which has been made by successive party platforms for more than a decade, deserves approval rather than criticism. That there may be supplementary legislation of a character to make easier of the performance of the requirements of the law, I firmly believe. I have made my recommendations as to Federal incorporation as one means of helping along with the greatest corporations that need the charter of the national government properly to perform their function without needless interference of the state, and with a corresponding opportunity to the national government, closely to supervise the operations of these greatest corporations and thus to keep them within the law.


Beverly, Massachusetts, October 1, 1912

Track 21 – President Taft Discusses Labor And Capital

Organization has become a feature of modern life. The organization of capital has reduced the cost of production and has, therefore, contributed greatly to the material prosperity of the world. Organization of labor has undoubtedly bettered the condition and raised the wages of labor. But in the power which organization has placed in the hands of particular individuals, it will be unreasonable to expect that there should not be temptations to abuse and oppression. When these are yielded to for the few as compared with the many exposed to them, and the law is violated, it’s no reason for hysteria or a destruction of the whole social order. It’s no reason for giving up the system of private property or forbidding the formation of corporation or preventing the organization of trade unions. It's no ground for the advocacy of socialism. We must take up the abuses in the good old Anglo-Saxon way, adjust our statutory remedies to the fitness of the thing, place our confidence in the public servants who show themselves alive to public needs, and courageous and energetic enough to prosecute the offenders to conviction. We must not paralyze their efforts by loudly suggested suspicion of their good faith until there is some just foundation for such suspicion. It’s too often the custom to characterize a man as a corporation man or an anti-corporation man, or a labor man or an anti-labor man--this is unjust, for most men in American public life are neither and wear no livery. It will indeed be an evil day in this country when the servants of the people are not generally admitted to be impartial between rich and poor, recognizing the value of organization of labor and capital but favoring a policy which will banish the abuses and oppression of organization in whatever entry. The truth is that 9/10ths of the people of this country are neither in favor of a poor man because he is poor, or a rich man because he’s rich. They’re in favor of all of the people and the extending of an equal protection of the law to all people. They’re in favor of protecting the rights of the corporation or labor organization, as representing only a number of people united together for a common and lawful object, exactly as they would protect the rights of the individual. And on the other hand, they are in favor of protecting the rights of the individual against the organization, whether of capital or labor, whenever it uses its aggregation of power for unjust competition or unjust interference with the rights of the less powerful individual.


Beverly, Massachusetts, October 1, 1912

Track 22 – Popular Unrest

We are living in an age in which by exaggeration of the defects of our present condition, by false charges of responsibility for it against individuals and classes, by holding up to the feverish imagination of the less fortunate and the discontented the possibilities of a millennium, a condition of popular unrest has been produced. New parties are being formed with the proposed purpose of satisfying this unrest by promising a panacea. In so far as any quality of condition can be lessened and equality of opportunity can be promoted by improvement of our educational system, the betterment of the laws to ensure the quick administration of justice, and by the prevention of the acquisition of privilege without just compensation, in so far as the adoption of the legislation above recited, and laws of a similar character may aid the less fortunate in their struggle with the hardships of life, all are in sympathy with a continued effort to remedy injustice and to aid the weak. And I venture to say that there’s no national administration in which more real sense of such progress has been taken than in the present one. But in so far as a the propaganda for the satisfaction of unrest involves the promise of a millennium, a condition in which the rich are to be made reasonably poor, and the poor reasonably rich by law, we are chasing a phantom. We are holding out to those whose unrest we fear, a prospect and a dream, a vision of the impossible. After we have changed all the governmental machinery so as to permit instantaneous expression of the people in constitutional amendment, in statute, and in recall of public agent, what then? Votes are not bread, constitutional amendments are not work, referendums do not pay rent or furnish houses, recalls do not furnish clothing, initiatives do not supply employment or relieve inequalities of condition or of opportunity. We still ought to have set before us the definite plans to bring on complete equality of opportunity and to abolish hardship and evil for humanity. We listen for them in vain.

These transcripts were taken from recordings made during the United States Presidential campaigns of 1908 and 1912. Though the voices of the speakers can be heard clearly, certain words are difficult and sometimes even impossible to recognize. In preparing these transcripts, words that are unintelligible have been indicated with an ellipsis. These recordings also have a considerable number of oral errors, that is, slips of the tongue. We have decided not to include such spoken errors in these transcripts, in order to clarify the speaker’s intended words and thereby render these speeches more cohesive and comprehensible to the serious reader.

Ward Marston

July, 2000