May 1912: President Theodore Roosevelt’s Campaign Train Stops in North Baltimore

"Great Crowd :Turns out to greet the ex-president"

A May 17, 1912 North Baltimore Beacon newspaper article reported that ex-President Theodore ”Teddy” Roosevelt’s campaign train stopped briefly in North Baltimore during the Republican Party primary election campaign. Roosevelt liked to call himself ”Colonel” to remind voters of his service with the US Army in the 1898 Spanish-American War.

Theodore Roosevelt

President Theodore Roosevelt was a progressive Republican who established the US Forest Service, built the Panama Canal, broke up business monopolies, and strengthened the American military. Most historians rank him as one of our greatest presidents.

In presidential campaigns, Ohio was just as important in 1912 as it is in 2012, and, as the largest community in southern Wood County, North Baltimore was significant enough to warrant a short stop by candidate Roosevelt. In those days, candidates used railroads as their primary means of campaign transportation.

Theodore Roosevelt, president from 1901-09, had chosen not to run for re-election in the 1908 campaign. His Secretary of War, Howard Taft, received the Republican nomination and won the 1908 fall presidential election. By 1912, TR had grown disenchanted with the Taft Administration and believed that big businesses and corrupt special interests had too much influence in determining Federal Government policies. As a result, he decided to run again and, by May 1912, he was campaigning in Ohio to obtain the Republican nomination.

Roosevelt’s efforts to unseat Taft failed and the Republican Party re-nominated Taft. However, Roosevelt refused to quit and ran as an independent in the fall 1912 election. As a result, the Republican vote was split, and Democratic nominee Woodrow Wilson won the presidency despite receiving a minority of the total popular vote. Despite losing the election, Roosevelt’s speech in North Baltimore paid off when he received the majority of votes in both Henry Township and Wood County.

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