Pin, Theodore Roosevelt, 1912

Pin, Theodore Roosevelt, 1912

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President William McKinley needed a new running mate for his re-election campaign in 1900 because his first vice president, Garret Hobart, had died in office. Theodore Roosevelt, governor of New York, was widely expected to get the job. Initially unsure he really wanted it, Roosevelt was convinced by his political friends that the vice presidency was his avenue to the White House. No one could have anticipated how quickly that would come to pass. Just six months into his term, President William McKinley was assassinated and Vice President Theodore Roosevelt ascended to the presidency in 1901, a job he would hold until 1909.
Roosevelt had pledged not to seek a third term as president but his disillusionment with his handpicked successor, William Howard Taft, led political observers to believe he would try to take the 1912 Republican nomination from the incumbent. At a speaking engagement in Cleveland, Ohio in February, Roosevelt finally made the official announcement “my hat is in the ring.” When the Republican National Convention selected Taft instead, Roosevelt took his ambition and his new campaign slogan to the newly formed Progressive Party. Hats and references to hats appeared on a variety of campaign items. Roosevelt lost the 1912 election to Democratic candidate Woodrow Wilson but the Progressive Party stunned the Republican establishment by finishing second with over 27% of the popular vote and 88 electoral votes from six states. President Taft who received 23% of the popular vote became the only sitting president to finish third in a re-election bid. Socialist Eugene V. Debs, running for the fourth time, finished fourth with 6% of the vote.
The metal hat hanging on this pin may have been designed to resemble the hat Roosevelt wore during the Spanish-American War. In 1898, he resigned his position as Assistant Secretary of the Navy to accept command of the First U.S. Volunteer Calvary, more commonly known as the Rough Riders. Led by Colonel Roosevelt, the unit garnered more publicity than any other during the Spanish-American War. Roosevelt’s war hero image helped propel his political career and images of him as a soldier appeared on many artifacts in his vice presidential and presidential campaigns.
Object Name
overall: 2 3/4 in x 2 3/4 in x 1 in; 6.985 cm x 6.985 cm x 2.54 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Political Campaigns
See more items in
Political and Military History: Political History, Campaign Collection
Government, Politics, and Reform
American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith
American Democracy
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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