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Let the People Rule

Cover of Let the People Rule

Let the People Rule

Theodore Roosevelt and the Birth of the Presidential Primary
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"Between February 24, 1912, when TR came out of political retirement to challenge William Howard Taft for the Republican Party's nomination for president, and June 23 of that year, Roosevelt and his supporters created and benefited from thirteen new presidential primaries, the first in the nation's history. Stressing the importance of primaries, TR's campaign theme became "the right of the people to rule." Though Roosevelt won about 70 percent of the delegates selected by public vote, it was not enough to overcome the power of party bosses and entrenched interests. He walked out of the convention to create the Bull Moose Party but then shocked many of his strongest supporters by excluding all black delegates from the Deep South. Let the People Rule shows how the political and social turmoil of that landmark year changed politics in ways that provide important lessons for America today. A suspenseful narrative, replete with larger-than-life personalities, and a must-read backstory for anyone concerned with the history and fate of a democracy that, at its best, aims to 'Let the People Rule.'" –Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University

"You wouldn't think that there would be anything new to say about Theodore Roosevelt by now. But Geoffrey Cowan has brought to life a fascinating part of TR's story usually left out of the history books. He tells it with verve and suspense, warts and all, his insights deepened by his own impressive background as a democracy activist." –Adam Hochschild, author of To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914–1918

"Geoffrey Cowan's Let the People Rule rips the lid off of the 1912 presidential election. Cowan brilliantly illuminates everything from the birth of the political primary system to the disenfranchisement of African Americans to egos writ large. The narrative has a marvelous flow and the research is superb." –Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History at Rice University and author of The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America

"Drawing on deep and fresh research, Geoffrey Cowan has written a rich, eye-popping political history. Teddy Roosevelt was a progressive hero, but he could play as rough as today's most cynically expedient politicians." –Evan Thomas, author of Being Nixon and Robert Kennedy

"A fresh and perceptive look at Theodore Roosevelt's fight for the Republican nomination in 1912. Based on extensive research in original sources, Let the People Rule laces striking information on TR's race against President Taft with new insights and a fresh and important analysis. Let the People Rule is the book to read on Roosevelt's pivotal year." –Lewis L. Gould, author of The Republicans: A History of the Grand Old Party

"For those of us who believe that modern American politics began at the turn of the twentieth and not the twenty-first century, Geoff Cowan has produced a fresh contribution to the argument. The modern mechanics of presidential selection, the rise of candidacies largely independent of party, and the mobilization of autonomous supporters: all come to life in Let the People Rule." –Byron E. Shafer, Hawkins Chair of Political Science, University of Wisconsin

"Between February 24, 1912, when TR came out of political retirement to challenge William Howard Taft for the Republican Party's nomination for president, and June 23 of that year, Roosevelt and his supporters created and benefited from thirteen new presidential primaries, the first in the nation's history. Stressing the importance of primaries, TR's campaign theme became "the right of the people to rule." Though Roosevelt won about 70 percent of the delegates selected by public vote, it was not enough to overcome the power of party bosses and entrenched interests. He walked out of the convention to create the Bull Moose Party but then shocked many of his strongest supporters by excluding all black delegates from the Deep South. Let the People Rule shows how the political and social turmoil of that landmark year changed politics in ways that provide important lessons for America today. A suspenseful narrative, replete with larger-than-life personalities, and a must-read backstory for anyone concerned with the history and fate of a democracy that, at its best, aims to 'Let the People Rule.'" –Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University

"You wouldn't think that there would be anything new to say about Theodore Roosevelt by now. But Geoffrey Cowan has brought to life a fascinating part of TR's story usually left out of the history books. He tells it with verve and suspense, warts and all, his insights deepened by his own impressive background as a democracy activist." –Adam Hochschild, author of To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914–1918

"Geoffrey Cowan's Let the People Rule rips the lid off of the 1912 presidential election. Cowan brilliantly illuminates everything from the birth of the political primary system to the disenfranchisement of African Americans to egos writ large. The narrative has a marvelous flow and the research is superb." –Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History at Rice University and author of The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America

"Drawing on deep and fresh research, Geoffrey Cowan has written a rich, eye-popping political history. Teddy Roosevelt was a progressive hero, but he could play as rough as today's most cynically expedient politicians." –Evan Thomas, author of Being Nixon and Robert Kennedy

"A fresh and perceptive look at Theodore Roosevelt's fight for the Republican nomination in 1912. Based on extensive research in original sources, Let the People Rule laces striking information on TR's race against President Taft with new insights and a fresh and important analysis. Let the People Rule is the book to read on Roosevelt's pivotal year." –Lewis L. Gould, author of The Republicans: A History of the Grand Old Party

"For those of us who believe that modern American politics began at the turn of the twentieth and not the twenty-first century, Geoff Cowan has produced a fresh contribution to the argument. The modern mechanics of presidential selection, the rise of candidacies largely independent of party, and the mobilization of autonomous supporters: all come to life in Let the People Rule." –Byron E. Shafer, Hawkins Chair of Political Science, University of Wisconsin

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About the Author-
  • Geoffrey Cowan, president of the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands and the Annenberg Family Chair in Communication Leadership at the University of Southern California, is the best-selling author of The People v. Clarence Darrow. He lives in Los Angeles.

Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine The Republican Party is in chaos as it approaches its national convention, and a colorful, unpopular candidate appears to be a shoo-in for the nomination. Sound like today's headlines? Actually, this happened in 1912. With a television anchor's skill, narrator Joe Barrett explains that the unwanted candidate who split the Republican Party in two was (former) President Teddy Roosevelt. His opponent for the nomination was President William Howard Taft. In the end, Roosevelt's actions gave the election to the Democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson. Modern-day political junkies will be shocked to learn that presidential politics were just as corrupt and complicated 100 years ago as they are today. Barrett manages to keep the dozens of real-life characters straight in this story, which shows the birth of the primary election system. M.S. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 23, 2015
    In this timely, engaging story of Teddy Roosevelt’s role in changing how political parties choose their presidential nominees, Cowan (The People v. Clarence Darrow), director of the Annenberg School’s Center on Communication Leadership and Policy at the University of Southern California, presents the 26th president as a conflicted, reluctant champion of popular democracy. Roosevelt served nearly two full terms as president (1901–9) before taking a hiatus from politics. Friends and supporters urged him to run again in 1912 to keep the Republican Party on a reformist course. However, Roosevelt’s personally groomed successor, William Howard Taft, refused to give up hopes for a second term, setting the stage for a fight at the nominating convention. Roosevelt knew he had to capitalize on his popularity, so the manner of choosing delegates and who they represented was critically important to securing the nomination. Cowan writes with a Rooseveltian verve, focusing on the political processes without losing sight of the major personalities who were involved as Roosevelt, Taft, and Robert La Follette jockeyed for the 1912 nomination. He also portrays Roosevelt as an opportunist who manipulated race and gender issues to further his candidacy. Roosevelt introduced an important change to the nominating process, but Cowan shows that it cost him and the Republicans the White House. Illus.

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Let the People Rule
Let the People Rule
Theodore Roosevelt and the Birth of the Presidential Primary
Geoffrey Cowan
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