T HE ELECTION OF 1912 IS ONE OF THE GREAT DRAMATIC events in American history. On the one hand, Woodrow Wilson, the stern schoolmaster lecturing the voters on the necessity of re-establishing the economic and political ideals of an older society; opposed to him, the vigorous advocate of a new industrialized era, Theodore Roosevelt, urging the nation to look forward with confidence to future greatness. In the background, a chorus of industrial spokesmen proclaiming a new era of material prosperity resulting from the productivity of big business.
The issues of that election seemed clear to the participants. Wilson was asking the American people to stop to consider where they were going as a nation. After more than a half-century of industrialization, had the price the country paid in reduced individual opportunity been too great for the material rewards of progress? Had the growth of big business exacted so large a levy on political institutions in corruption and special privilege that government of and by the people was in danger? Wilson, for one, did think the price too high and the exactions too great; in the New Freedom he proposed to recreate a nation in which the small man could make good, while government meted out an even-handed justice that gave special license to no one.
But could he do it? Theodore Roosevelt, the insurgent BullMoose