Bull Moose on the Stump

The 1912 Campaign Speeches of Theodore Roosevelt

Lewis L. Gould, ed

As standard bearer of the Progressive Party in 1912, Theodore Roosevelt played to enthusiastic crowds wherever he traveled. When he was targeted by an assassin while campaigning for president, a bullet passed through the speech in his breast pocket-pages that he then held aloft while assuring the crowd "It takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose . . . and you cannot escape listening to this speech!"

This first full edition of his campaign speeches takes readers on the stump from New England to California, collecting thirty-five texts largely overlooked since they were first delivered. They offer a more nuanced picture of his third-party candidacy than has ever existed, providing a companion to Lewis Gould's recent Four Hats in the Ring and shedding new light on both the Progressive movement and the dynamics of an extraordinary campaign that changed American politics forever.

“The 1912 campaign featured the finest debate ever held in a presidential election, thanks to Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt. Wilson’s speeches have long been available, but not Roosevelts, which are fascinating for both their fire and their philosophy. Gould has remedied this lack with this superb edition, which gives a full sense of TR both in action and in the play of his mind.”

—John Milton Cooper, author of The Warrior and the Priest: Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt

“Showcases Roosevelt at his uncompromising, pugnacious and idealistic best.”

—Stacy Cordery, author of Theodore Roosevelt: In the Vanguard of the Modern

Culled from nation-wide newspaper archives, these speeches show TR at his most radical. He echoes the missionary spirit of the Progressives as they challenged partisan orthodoxy, advocating for "the plain people, for their right to rule, and for their duty to secure for themselves and for others social and industrial justice." All over the country, he speaks out on government regulation of business, social justice, the role of the president, the place of reform in national politics, and of course his differences with Woodrow Wilson.

Given the wide availability of Wilson's speeches, having Roosevelt's available makes the study of the 1912 campaign more meaningful-not only the debate between the New Nationalism and the New Freedom but also differences on such issues as tariffs and campaign contributions. These texts also reveal how Roosevelt massaged Wilson's words to serve his own polemical purposes.

"We do not propose to do anything that will interfere with prosperity," proclaimed Roosevelt, "but we want it passed around"; and these speeches show that, even in a new century, his words are as relevant as ever.

About the Author

Lewis L. Gould's most recent book is Four Hats in the Ring: The 1912 Election and the Birth of Modern American Politics, a Main Selection of the History Book Club (see page 33). His numerous other books include The Modern American Presidency; The Presidency of William McKinley; The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt; and The Spanish-American War and President McKinley.