.. shape the political coalitions of the first half of the 20th century. The Republicans had committed themselves to conservative economics–a stance that they consistently retained thereafter. McKinley’s first term was dominated by the 10-week-long Spanish-American War (1898) and the subsequent acquisition of Guam, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and the annexation of Hawaii. These events increasingly thrust the United States into world politics. The only question regarding the Republican ticket in 1900 was who would replace Vice-President Garret Hobart who had died the previous year.
Governor Theodore ROOSEVELT of New York was chosen. McKinley again defeated William Jennings Bryan but was assassinated in 1901. Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as president, inaugurating a remarkable era in American political history. Theodore Roosevelt and Progressivism Under Theodore Roosevelt the country saw reforms in economic, political, and social life. Republicans took the lead in conservation efforts and, to the dismay of some old stalwarts, began implementing Roosevelt’s trust-busting ideas. Roosevelt’s overwhelming reelection in 1904 inaugurated a new era of regulatory legislation and conservation measures.
As he had promised, he chose not to run in 1908 and urged the party to nominate William Howard TAFT of Ohio. Taft defeated Bryan, who was running for the third time; Taft’s style, however, and his conservatism alienated the liberals within the Republican party. Those liberals, led by Robert M. La Follote of Wisconsin, organized (1911) the National Progressive Republican League as a means of wresting party control from the conservatives. At the Chicago convention in 1912, Roosevelt challenged Taft for the nomination.
Failing to win, Roosevelt bolted the party and ran as the PROGRESSIVE PARTY candidate. Thus split, the Republicans decisively lost the presidency to Woodrow WILSON. In 1916 the Republicans nominated Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes, but Wilson’s domestic record, his personal popularity, and his pledge to keep the United States out of the war in Europe were obstacles too great for Hughes to overcome. Despite Wilson’s promises, the United States was drawn into World War I, and party politics gave way to bipartisan prosecution of the war. Republicans won control of the House of Representatives and the Senate in the 1918 elections and, at the end of the war, prevented the United States from joining the League of Nations by rejecting ratification of the Versailles Treaty.
The Republican ticket of Warren G. HARDING and Calvin COOLIDGE won the 1920 election by a landslide. Harding’s administration was plagued by scandals, which were inherited by Coolidge after Harding’s death in 1923. In a politically astute move, Coolidge appointed two special prosecutors to deal with the scandals, one from each party. Nominated in his own right in 1924, Coolidge was reelected by a large margin.
In 1928, Coolidge declined to run again, and the Republicans turned to Herbert HOOVER of California. Hoover won by an unprecedented landslide against Alfred E. SMITH. Republicans also won control of both houses of Congress. Many believed that another era of Republican hegemony was dawning, but a rapidly escalating worldwide economic depression brought Hoover and his party to their knees.
Although the Hoover administration took steps to stop the decline of the economy, its remedies were generally thought to be ineffectual and too late. Hoover was renominated in 1932 in the depths of the Depression of the 1930s, but Franklin D. ROOSEVELT defeated him in one of the great landslide victories in U.S. history. The 70-year era of Republicanism was at an end.
One of Roosevelt’s major accomplishments was wooing the black vote away from the Republicans. The Republicans in the Minority: 1932-52 The Republicans were unable to find a candidate who could match Roosevelt’s popular appeal. Alf Landon and Wendell L. WILLKIE failed in 1936 and 1940, respectively. Mostly isolationist before World War II, the Republicans backed the war effort, a stance that was to lead to support–enunciated by Sen.
Arthur H. Vandenberg–for bipartisan foreign policy after the war. The 1944 elections came at a critical time in the midst of World War II, and New York governor Thomas E. DEWEY became the fourth Republican candidate to be overwhelmed by Roosevelt. In 1948, Dewey again was the Republican nominee, this time against Roosevelt’s successor, Harry S.
TRUMAN. He conducted a lackluster campaign, lulled into complacency by polls and expert opinions that forecast a landslide Republican victory. Truman, however, defeated Dewey in a great upset. The Eisenhower Era In 1952 the Republican national convention nominated Gen. Dwight D. EISENHOWER to head its ticket.
Although the party was split over the defeat of conservative senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio for that nomination, its ticket went on to win a landslide victory, carrying 39 states. Eisenhower’s running mate was California senator Richard M. NIXON. The 1956 ticket of Eisenhower and Nixon won another decisive victory, due in part to Eisenhower’s moderate course in foreign policy, his successful ending of the Korean War, and his great personal popularity. Democratic control of both houses, however, won in 1954, was continued.
In 1960, Vice-President Nixon won an easy victory for nomination but lost the election to John F. KENNEDY of Massachusetts by the smallest popular margin in the 20th century–a difference of only about 113,000 votes out of more than 68 million cast. After a bitter internal party struggle prior to the 1964 Republican convention, Sen. Barry M. GOLDWATER of Arizona wrested the presidential nomination and control of the Republican party away from the Eastern moderates and began an attempt to convert the party into an ideologically pure conservative party.
His landslide defeat by Lyndon B. JOHNSON, however, left the party organization in shambles. The Nixon-Ford Years In 1968, Richard Nixon reappeared to win the party’s nomination and selected Maryland governor Spiro T. AGNEW as his running mate. Nixon went on to win the election over Democrat Hubert H. HUMPHREY, who was unable to bring his party together after divisions brought on by U.S.
involvement in the Vietnam War. President Nixon’s first term was marked by many successes, including improved relations with China, a more cooperative relationship with the USSR, an improved economy, and what appeared to be significant steps toward peace in Vietnam. In 1972 the Democrats nominated a prominent antiwar senator, George S. MCGOVERN of South Dakota. Nixon was reelected by an enormous popular-vote margin, carrying every state except Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. Even so, the Democrats continued to control both houses of the Congress. The campaign, however, carried the seeds of the political destruction of Richard Nixon.
A burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the WATERGATE office complex during the campaign led to revelations of widespread civil and criminal misconduct within the campaign organization, administration, and White House; IMPEACHMENT hearings were held, and eventually Nixon resigned in 1974. An earlier scandal involved Vice-President Agnew, who was forced to resign in 1973 after being convicted of income-tax evasion. Nixon was succeeded by Vice-President Gerald R. FORD, who had been appointed to the office after the resignation of Agnew. Ford faced a serious economic situation–high unemployment, rising inflation, high interest rates, and huge budget deficits.
He was criticized by moderates for doing too little to allay the nation’s economic ills and by conservatives for offering amnesty to Vietnam-era draft evaders and for appointing Nelson ROCKEFELLER to the vice-presidency. After a difficult primary contest against conservative Ronald REAGAN of California, Ford lost the election to Democrat Jimmy CARTER. The Reagan and Bush Administrations By 1980 the apparent inability of the Carter administration to control the economic situation, coupled with a perception of U.S. impotence abroad (exemplified by the Iranian seizure of U.S. hostages), favored a Republican resurgence. Reagan easily won the party’s presidential nomination (his most liberal opponent, John Anderson, subsequently ran as an independent) and went on to overwhelm Carter, taking 489 electoral votes (against Carter’s 49) and 51 percent of the popular vote.
At the same time, the Republicans won 12 additional seats in the U.S. Senate, taking control of that body for the first time in 25 years. This Republican resurgence, however, was only partially confirmed in the 1984 elections. Although in his reelection bid Reagan routed Walter F. MONDALE, taking 59 percent of the popular vote and a record-breaking 525 electoral votes (to Mondale’s 13), the Republicans lost two SENATE seats, while retaining a majority.
Democrats continued to control the House. The pattern of Republican presidential triumphs and Democratic gains in Congress continued in 1986, when the Democrats regained a majority in the Senate, and 1988, when George Bush won the presidency by a large margin. President Bush’s approval rating reached an impressive 89 percent in 1991 after the international coalition he forged against Iraq achieved victory in the Persian Gulf War. However, a recession that began in 1990, combined with the electorate’s growing concern with domestic issues in the aftermath of the Cold War and public impatience with gridlock in the government, counted against him in his reelection bid. Led by Bill CLINTON, the Democrats in 1992 captured the presidency (with 370 ELECTORAL votes to Bush’s 168) and solid majorities in both houses of Congress.
In 1994, having blocked Clinton’s legislative agenda and mounted an aggressive counterattack in that year’s mid-term election campaign, Republicans seized control of both houses of Congress. Bibliography American Encyclopedia on line Political Issues.