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The United States presidential election of 1908 was held on November 3, 1908. Popular incumbent President Theodore Roosevelt, honoring a promise not to seek a third term, persuaded the Republican Party to nominate William Howard Taft, his close friend and Secretary of War, to become his successor. Having badly lost the 1904 election with a conservative candidate, the Democratic Party turned to two-time nominee William Jennings Bryan, who had been defeated in 1896 and 1900 by Republican William McKinley. Despite his two previous defeats, Bryan remained extremely popular among the more liberal and populist elements of the Democratic Party. Despite running a vigorous campaign against the nation's business elite, Bryan suffered the worst loss in his three presidential campaigns, and Taft won by a comfortable margin.


Republican Party nomination

Republican candidates:

Candidates gallery

Image:William Howard Taft.jpg|Secretary of War William Howard Taft of OhiomarkerImage:Philander Knox, bw photo portrait, 1904.jpg|Senator Philander Knox of PennsylvaniamarkerImage:Governor_Charles_Evans_Hughes.jpg|Governor Charles Evans Hughes of New YorkmarkerImage:JGCannon.jpg|Speaker of the House Joseph Gurney Cannon of IllinoismarkerImage:CharlesWFairbanks.jpg|Vice President Charles W. Fairbanks of IndianamarkerImage:Robert M. La Follette, Sr. .jpg|Senator Robert M. LaFollette, Sr. of WisconsinmarkerImage:Joseph Benson Foraker.jpg|Senator Joseph B. Foraker of OhiomarkerImage:Leslie Shaw, Bain photo portrait.jpg|Former Secretary of the Treasury Leslie M. Shaw of Iowamarker

Taft/Sherman campaign poster
The Republican nomination contest marked the introduction of the presidential preference primary. The idea of the primary to nominate candidates was sponsored by anti-machine politicians such as New York Governor Charles Evans Hughes and Senator Albert B. Cummins. The first state to hold a presidential primary to select delegates to a national convention was Floridamarker in United States presidential election, 1904, when Democratic Party voters held a primary among uninstructed candidates for delegate. During early 1908, the only two Republican contenders running nationwide campaigns for the presidential nomination were Secretary of War William Howard Taft and Governor Joseph B. Foraker, both of Ohiomarker. In the nomination contest, four states held primaries to select national convention delegates. In Ohio, the state Republican Party held a primary on on February 11. Candidates pledged to Taft were printed on the ballot in a Taft column, and candidates pledged to Foraker were printed in a column under his name. Taft won a resounding victory in Ohio. The three states holding primaries to select delegates without the preference component were split; Californiamarker chose a slate of delegates that supported Taft; Wisconsinmarker elected a slate that supported Wisconsin Senator Robert M. La Follette, Sr., and Pennsylvaniamarker elected a slate that supported Pennsylvania Senator Philander C. Knox.

The 1908 Republican Convention was held in Chicagomarker from June 16 to June 19. William Howard Taft was nominated with 702 votes to 68 for Knox, 67 for Hughes, 58 for Cannon, 40 for Fairbanks, 25 for LaFollette, 16 for Foraker, 3 for President Roosevelt, and one abstention

Presidential Ballot
William Howard Taft 702
Philander Knox 68
Charles Evans Hughes 67
Joseph Gurney Cannon 58
Charles W. Fairbanks 40
Robert M. LaFollette, Sr. 25
Theodore Roosevelt 3
Absention 1

Representative James S. Sherman of New York received the vice presidential nomination.

Vice Presidential Ballot
James S. Sherman 702
Edward F. Murphy 77
Curtis Guild 75
George L. Sheldon 10
Charles W. Fairbanks 1

Democratic Party nomination

Democratic candidates:

Candidates gallery

Image:WilliamJBryan1902.png|Former Democratic presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan of NebraskamarkerImage:George Gray;G000396.jpg|Former Senator George Gray of DelawaremarkerImage:John Albert Johnson.jpg|Governor John Albert Johnson of Minnesotamarker

The 1908 Democratic Convention was held in Denvermarker from July 7 to July 10. Despite a challenge by Minnesotamarker governor John Albert Johnson, two time previous nominee William Jennings Bryan quickly won the overwhelming support of his party.

The Balloting
Presidential Ballot Vice Presidential Ballot
William Jennings Bryan 892.5 John W. Kern 1002
George Gray 50.5
John A. Johnson 46

General election


Taft-Sherman postcard with U.S.
With the free silver issue no longer dominant, Bryan campaigned on a progressive platform attacking "government by privilege". His campaign slogan, "Shall the People Rule?", was featured on numerous posters and campaign memorabilia. However, Taft undercut Bryan's liberal support by accepting some of his reformist ideas, and Roosevelt's progressive policies blurred the distinctions between the parties. Republicans also used the slogan "Vote for Taft now, you can vote for Bryan anytime," a sarcastic reference to Bryan's two failed previous presidential campaigns. Businessmen continued to support the Republican Party, and Bryan failed to secure the support of labor. As a result, Bryan ended up with the worst of his three defeats in the national popular vote, losing almost all the Northern states to Taft and losing the popular vote by eight percentage points. This would be Bryan's last campaign for the presidency; however, he would remain a popular figure within the Democratic Party and in 1912 would play a key role in securing the presidential nomination for Woodrow Wilson.
Roosevelt handing over his policies to his political protégé, William H.


(46 States participated, as Oklahomamarker had joined the Union the year before)

Source (Popular Vote):

Source (Electoral Vote):

Campaign memorabilia

Image:PostcardTaftShermanPresidentialCampaign1908.jpg|Taft-Sherman postcardImage:MagazineCoverColliers07251908.jpg|Collier's magazine coverImage:PostcardWichllYerHaveUSPresidentialCandidatesTaftBryan1908.jpg|Humorous postcardFile:JohnJohnson1908ribbon.JPG|John Johnson ribbon

See also


Further reading

External links

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