Some Republicans were relieved when Teddy Roosevelt was named as McKinley’s vice president since it was so rare for a vice president to become president. One Roosevelt opponent breathed a sigh of relief saying, “Now that darned cowboy will never be president.” That abruptly changed when an assassin shot and killed President McKinley, making Roosevelt the President.
McKinley supporters were nervous about the Roosevelt presidency. In order to reassure them, Roosevelt kept McKinley’s cabinet. Nonetheless, he exercised broad executive power. Besides regulating big business and breaking up trusts, he attempted to force changes in the rules for football and ordered the federal mint to make changes in the design of a coin he disliked. Roosevelt enjoyed widespread popularity and won the 1904 election. After eight years in the White House, he initially adhered to his pledge not to run for another term.
But in 1911, members of the party approached Roosevelt and asked him to run. He agreed, seeing himself as the savior of the party. When he was defeated at the convention, he accepted the nomination of the Progressive Party. After Roosevelt declared that “I’m as fit as a bull moose,” the party became known as the Bull Moose Party.
On this date in 1912, North Dakota Congressman H.T. Helgesen announced his support for Roosevelt. That wasn’t a big surprise. Roosevelt had long been a popular figure in North Dakota. The state embraced him as a native son.
Only a few days after Helgesen’s endorsement, a disgruntled man shot Roosevelt. Roosevelt carried his steel eyeglass case in his pocket along with a copy of his fifty-page speech. While the bullet lodged in his chest, it wasn’t fatal. Roosevelt determined that the wound was not serious and, in typical Roosevelt fashion, gave his speech before going to the hospital.
When Roosevelt lost the 1912 election to Woodrow Wilson, the Bull Moose Party fell apart. It had been held together by Roosevelt and his powerful personality.
Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher
Ward County Independent. “Congressman Helgesen Favors Mr. Roosevelt.” Minot ND. 10/10/1912. Page 1.
US History. “The Progressive Party.” https://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1755.html Accessed 9/3/2019.