The National Party Conventions


 “After the Circus”
  Cartoonist:  Edward Windsor Kemble
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   June 22, 1912, p. 7

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
This Harper’s Weekly cartoon dramatizes the raucous Republican National Convention of 1912, which ended in the party split in two. The intense competition of the primary season included Theodore Roosevelt calling William Howard Taft a “fathead” who was “dumber than a guinea pig.” The initially stunned president responded by labeling his challenger a “demagogue” and a “dangerous egotist.” The pre-convention contest for delegates ended with 254 contested seats, 235 of which the Republican National Committee (RNC) awarded to Taft. The outraged Roosevelt traveled to the national convention in order “to protect his own rights against the naked robbery being undertaken by the Taft forces.”

When the Credentials Committee reaffirmed the RNC’s decision, Roosevelt and most of his delegates refused to participate in the convention and began planning the formation of the Progressive Party, which in August nominated him for president. Here, the big tent of the Republican circus (convention) is stained with mud and/or blood, while thrown bricks and bottles lie on the ground. The Republican Elephant has been severed in two, with the injured progressive front leaving the party and the conservative “stand-pat” trunk remaining behind. The hat may represent Roosevelt’s previous announcement of his candidacy, “My hat is in the ring.”













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