The Election of 1908 found the old veteran, William Jennings Bryan, making his third and final attempt to reach the White House. There was also a number of "third party" nominees in 1908.
Roosevelt Backs Taft in the Republican Race
William Jennings Bryan gained the nomination at the Democratic convention in Denver with very little opposition. The stalwarts of the Republican Party were hoping Teddy Roosevelt would seek another term, but Roosevelt endorsed William Howard Taft instead. With Teddy's backing, Taft faced no opposition at the convention.
Third Party Candidates Try for the White House
Eugene Debs was also nominated for a third time by the Socialist Party. The Prohibition Party turned to Eugene Chafin as its candidate, and the Populist Party nominated the "racist," Thomas E. Watson of Georgia. The publisher, William Randolph Hearst, in an attempt to gain revenge against his old enemy, William Jennings Bryan, backed Thomas Hisgen as the Independence Party candidate.
Bryan stated he would not accept contributions from corporations. As the campaign unfolded, he pushed for the following ideas.
Roosevelt Pulls Republican Strings
From the start, Taft appeared to be controlled by Roosevelt, who even edited Taft's acceptance speech. It was as though Roosevelt was running for re-election, but with Taft as his stand-in. Taft seemed to agree with Bryan on many of the issues, but he was willing to accept contributions from the corporations.
Whereas Bryan was an energetic, experienced campaigner, Taft was much the opposite.
Taft did not become active in the campaign until prodded by Roosevelt, and he then commenced to destroy Bryan's public image and promised to maintain Roosevelt's public policies.
Debs' Aggressive Campaign vs. Hisgen's Limited Effort
The Socialist Party created organizations in 39 states, and Debs crisscrossed the country using his 'Red Special' railroad train. On the other hand, Thomas Hisgen only campaigned in the state of New York.
By election day, the Republicans had raised and outspent the Democrats by almost 3 to 1. It seemed the nation had finally grown tiresome of Bryan, and on election night, Teddy Roosevelt announced, "We've beaten them to a frazzle."
Taft won 321 electoral votes to Bryan's 162. Once again, the Third Party candidates failed to gain a single electoral vote. Bryan was stunned and questioned why he had done so poorly at the polls. Some would later say it was a vote more against Bryan than for Taft.1908 Campaign Items
|Presidential Candidate||Vice Presidential Candidate||Party||Popular Vote||Electoral Vote|
|William Howard Taft||James S. Sherman||Republican||7,678,908||321|
|William Jennings Bryan||John W. Kern||Democratic||6,409,104||162|
|Eugene V. Debs||Benjamin Hanford||Socialist||420,793||0|
|Eugene W. Chaflin||Aaron S. Watkins||Prohibition||253,840||0|
|Thomas L. Hisgen||John T. Graves||Independence||82,872||0|
|Thomas E. Watson||Samuel Williams||People's||29,100||0|
|August Gillhaus||Donald Munro||Socialist-Labor||14,021||0|
|Daniel B. Turney||Lorenzo Coffin||United Christian||500||0|
Source: Historical Statistics of the United States, 1789-1945, By United States. Bureau Of The Census, p. 289.
Served as the 24th Governor of Texas (1907-1911).
Lost his 1908 race for Governor of Texas
Lost to O. B. Colquitt in the 1910 Democratic gubernatorial primary. He was an old Confederate who served three terms in the Texas Legislature (1900 - 06). By profession he was a lawyer, woodworker, and blacksmith. He died in 1941 at age 101.
Lost to O. B. Colquitt in the 1910 Democratic gubernatorial primary
Finished second in the 1910 gubernatorial primary
Served in the Texas Senate (1901-04) and as Texas Attorney General (1904-09). Finished 4th in the 1910 gubernatorial primary.