One hundred years ago the Republicans were optimistic as to their chances to unseat Woodrow Wilson. By nominating Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes, a moderate progressive, they had healed the split that had led to their defeat in 1912. This healing was underlined when Theodore Roosevelt declined the nomination of the Progressive Party that he had founded in 1912 and had a telegram read at the Progressive convention, held at the same time as the Republican convention, announcing that he was endorsing Hughes. Here is the Republican party platform for 1916:
In 1861 the Republican party stood for the Union. As it stood for the Union of States, it now stands for a united people, true to American ideals, loyal to American traditions, knowing no allegiance except to the Constitution, to the Government, and to the Flag of the United States. We believe in American policies at home and abroad.
Protection of American Rights
We declare that we believe in and will enforce the protection of every American citizen in all the rights secured to him by the Constitution, by treaties and the laws of nations, at home and abroad, by land and by sea. These rights, which in violation of the specific promise of their party made at Baltimore in 1912, the Democratic President and the Democratic Congress have failed to defend, we will unflinchingly maintain.
We desire peace, the peace of justice and right, and believe in maintaining a strict and honest neutrality between the belligerents in the great war in Europe. We must perform all our duties and insist upon all our rights as neutrals without fear and without favor. We believe that peace and neutrality, as well as the dignity and influence of the United States, cannot be preserved by shifty expedients, by phrase-making, by performances in language, or by attitudes ever changing in an effort to secure votes or voters. The present Administration has destroyed our influence abroad and humiliated us in our own eyes. The Republican party believes that a firm, consistent, and courageous foreign policy, always maintained by Republican Presidents in accordance with American traditions, is the best, as it is the only true way, to preserve our peace and restore us to our rightful place among the nations.
We believe in the pacific settlement of international disputes, and favor the establishment of a world court for that purpose.
We deeply sympathize with the fifteen million people of Mexico who, for three years have seen their country devastated, their homes destroyed, their fellow citizens murdered and their women outraged, by armed bands of desperadoes led by self-seeking, conscienceless agitators who when temporarily successful in any locality have neither sought nor been able to restore order or establish and maintain peace.
We express our horror and indignation at the outrages which have been and are being perpetrated by these bandits upon American men and women who were or are in Mexico by invitation of the laws and of the government of that country and whose rights to security of person and property are guaranteed by solemn treaty obligations. We denounce the indefensible methods of interference employed by this Administration in the internal affairs of Mexico and refer with shame to its failure to discharge the duty of this country as next friend to Mexico, its duty to other powers who have relied upon us as such friend, and its duty to our citizens in Mexico, in permitting the continuance of such conditions, first by failure to act promptly and firmly, and second, by lending its influence to the continuation of such conditions through recognition of one of the factions responsible for these outrages.
We pledge our aid in restoring order and maintaining peace in Mexico. We promise to our citizens on and near our border, and to those in Mexico, wherever they may be found, adequate and absolute protection in their lives, liberty, and property.
We reaffirm our approval of the Monroe Doctrine, and declare its maintenance to be a policy of this country essential to its present and future peace and safety and to the achievement of its manifest destiny.
We favor the continuance of Republican policies which will result in drawing more and more closely the commercial, financial and social relations between this country and the countries of Latin America.
We renew our allegiance to the Philippine policy inaugurated by McKinley, approved by Congress, and consistently carried out by Roosevelt and Taft. Even in this short time it has enormously improved the material and social conditions of the Islands, given the Philippine people a constantly increasing participation in their government, and if persisted in will bring still greater benefits in the future.
We accepted the responsibility of the Islands as a duty to civilization and the Filipino people. To leave with our task half done would break our pledges, injure our prestige among nations, and imperil what has already been accomplished.
We condemn the Democratic administration for its attempt to abandon the Philippines, which was prevented only by the vigorous opposition of Republican members of Congress, aided by a few patriotic Democrats.
Right of Expatriation
We reiterate the unqualified approval of the action taken in December, 1911, by the President and Congress to secure with Russia, as with other countries, a treaty that will recognize the absolute right of expatriation and prevent all discrimination of whatever kind between American citizens whether native-born or alien, and regardless of race, religion or previous political allegiance. We renew the pledge to observe this principle and to maintain the right of asylum, which is neither to be surrendered nor restricted, and we unite in the cherished hope that the war which is now desolating the world may speedily end, with a complete and lasting restoration of brotherhood among the nations of the earth and the assurance of full equal rights, civil and religious, to all men in every land.
Protection of the Country
In order to maintain our peace and make certain the security of our people within our own borders the country must have not only adequate but thorough and complete national defence ready for any emergency. We must have a sufficient and effective Regular Army and a provision for ample reserves, already drilled and disciplined, who can be called at once to the colors when the hour of danger comes.
We must have a Navy so strong and so well proportioned and equipped, so thoroughly ready and prepared, that no enemy can gain command of the sea and effect a landing in force on either our Western or our Eastern coast. To secure these results we must have a coherent continuous policy of national defence, which even in these perilous days the Democratic party has utterly failed to develop, but which we promise to give to the country.
The Republican party stands now, as always, in the fullest sense for the policy of tariff protection to American industries and American labor and does not regard an anti-dumping provision as an adequate substitute.
Such protection should be reasonable in amount but sufficient to protect adequately American industries and American labor and so adjusted as to prevent undue exactions by monopolies or trusts. It should, moreover, give special attention to securing the industrial independence of the United States as in the case of dye-stuffs.
Through wise tariff and industrial legislation our industries can be so organized that they will become not only a commercial bulwark but a powerful aid to national defence.
The Underwood tariff act is a complete failure in every respect. Under its administration imports have enormously increased in spite of the fact that intercourse with foreign countries has been largely cut off by reason of the war, while the revenues of which we stand in such dire need have been greatly reduced.
Under the normal conditions which prevailed prior to the war it was clearly demonstrated that this Act deprived the American producer and the American wage earner of that protection which enabled them to meet their foreign competitors, and but for the adventitious conditions created by the war, would long since have paralyzed all forms of American industry and deprived American labor of its just reward.
It has not in the least degree reduced the cost of living, which has constantly advanced from the date of its enactment. The welfare of our people demands its repeal and its substitution of a measure which in peace as well as in war will produce ample revenue and give reasonable protection to all forms of American production in mine, forest, field and factory.
We favor the creation of a tariff commission with complete power to gather and compile information for the use of Congress in all matters relating to the tariff.
The Republican party has long believed in the rigid supervision and strict regulation of the transportation and of the great corporations of the country. It has put its creed into its deeds, and all really effective laws regulating the railroads and the great industrial corporations are the work of Republican Congresses and Presidents. For this policy of regulation and supervision the Democrats, in a stumbling and piecemeal way, are within the sphere of private enterprise and in direct competition with its own citizens, a policy which is sure to result in waste, great expense to the taxpayer and in an inferior product.
The Republican party firmly believes that all who violate the laws in regulation of business, should be individually punished. But prosecution is very different from persecution, and business success, no matter how honestly attained, is apparently regarded by the Democratic party as in itself a crime. Such doctrines and beliefs choke enterprise and stifle prosperity. The Republican party believes in encouraging American business as it believes in and will seek to advance all American interests.
We favor an effective system of Rural Credits as opposed to the ineffective law proposed by the present Democratic Administration.
Rural Free Delivery
We favor the extension of the Rural Free Delivery system and condemn the Democratic administration for curtailing and crippling it.
In view of the policies adopted by all the maritime nations to encourage their shipping interest, and in order to enable us to compete with them for the ocean-carrying trade, we favor the payment to ships engaged in the foreign trade of liberal compensation for services actually rendered in carrying the mails, and such further legislation as will build up an adequate American Merchant Marine and give us ships which may be requisitioned by the Government in time of national emergency.
We are utterly opposed to the Government ownership of vessels as proposed by the Democratic party, because Government-owned ships, while effectively preventing the development of the American Merchant Marine by private capital, will be entirely unable to provide for the vast volume of American freights and will leave us more helpless than ever in the hard grip of foreign syndicates.
Interstate and intrastate transportation have become so interwoven that the attempt to apply two and often several sets of laws to its regulation has produced conflicts of authority, embarrassment in operation and inconvenience and expense to the public.
The entire transportation system of the country has become essentially national. We, therefore, favor such action by legislation, or, if necessary, through an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, as will result in placing it under complete Federal control.
Economy and a National Budget
The increasing cost of the national government and the need for the greatest economy of its resources in order to meet the growing demands of the people for government service call for the severest condemnation of the wasteful appropriations of this democratic administration, of its shameless raids on the treasury, and of its opposition to and rejection of President Taft’s oft-repeated proposals and earnest efforts to secure economy and efficiency through the establishment of a simple businesslike budget system to which we pledge our support and which we hold to be necessary to effect a real reform in the administration of national finance.
We believe in a careful husbandry of all the natural resources of the nation—a husbandry which means development without waste; use without abuse.
Civil Service Reform
The Civil Service Law has always been sustained by the Republican party, and we renew our repeated declarations that it shall be thoroughly and honestly enforced and extended wherever practicable. The Democratic party has created since March 4, 1913, thirty thousand offices outside of the Civil Service Law at an annual cost of forty-four million dollars to the taxpayers of the country
We condemn the gross abuse and the misuse of the law by the present Democratic Administration and pledge ourselves to a reorganization of this service along lines of efficiency and economy.
Reaffirming the attitude long maintained by the Republican party, we hold that officials appointed to administer the government of any territory should be bona-fide residents of the territory in which their duties are to be performed.
We pledge the Republican party to the faithful enforcement of all Federal laws passed for the protection of labor. We favor vocational education, the enactment and rigid enforcement of a Federal child labor law; the enactment of a generous and comprehensive workmen’s compensation law, within the commerce power of Congress, and an accident compensation law covering all Government employees. We favor the collection and collation, under the direction of the Department of Labor, of complete data relating to industrial hazards for the information of Congress, to the end that such legislation may be adopted as may be calculated to secure the safety, conservation and protection of labor from the dangers incident to industry and transportation.
The Republican party, reaffirming its faith in government of the people, by the people, for the people, as a measure of justice to one-half the adult people of this country, favors the extension of the suffrage to women, but recognizes the right of each state to settle this question for itself.
Such are our principles, such are our “purposes and policies.” We close as we began. The times are dangerous and the future is fraught with peril. The great issues of the day have been confused by words and phrases. The American spirit, which made the country and saved the union, has been forgotten by those charged with the responsibility of power. We appeal to all Americans, whether naturalized or native-born, to prove to the world that we are Americans in thought and in deed, with one loyalty, one hope, one aspiration. We call on all Americans to be true to the spirit of America, to the great traditions of their common country, and above all things, to keep the faith.