Republicans

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This photograph shows President Taft with, among others, Booker T. Washington and Andrew Carnegie.

Going into the election President Taft seemingly should have enjoyed a significant advantage when asking for African-American votes. After all, he was the Republican candidate in 1912, the voice of the "Party of Lincoln." Unfortunately for Taft, however, a tenuous political connection with the "Great Emancipator" did not matter as much in the minds of many African American voters as did Taft’s own actions as president.

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Black leaders were torn between their loyalty to the one party that had given them opportunities and their belief that the Republican Party had never given African Americans enough support and protection in return. The cartoon shows a pot labeled "White Men Only" with Chef Taft giving only a "taste" of the "Federal Offices" stew to an African American stuck on the wrong side of the "color line."

Despite dissatisfaction with Taft and the Republicans, old ties proved difficult for many to break. Along with many other black leaders, Booker T. Washington endorsed Taft after he had gained the Republican nomination. In the words of historian Richard Sherman, most black politicians "apparently concluded that their interests would be best served by maintaining a record of party regularity." (The Republican Party and Black America: From McKinley to Hoover, 1896-1933, 102.)