The Best Option?

 

Not all African-Americans supporting Taft did so because of their admiration of his policies and actions. Many supported Taft because in their eyes he was the best of three bad options. The following excerpts from African-American newspapers compare Taft to Wilson and Roosevelt.

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EITHER TAFT OR WILSON

Will be elected president of the United States next Tuesday. Roosevelt cannot possibly win.

And if you vote for Roosevelt you help make Woodrow Wilson, college professor, free trader, and theorist in governmental affairs, the next president.

Wisdom and patriotism demand that you vote the Republican ticket.

PRESIDENT TAFT’S DEEP SYMPATHY FOR THE RACE

I am fully alive to the heart pangs that a colored man endures when suffering from the contemptuous insults of the white men not at all his equal either in point of intelligence or devotion to duty. I know the sense of injustice that has oftentimes burned itself into his breast when he realizes that his rights have been trampled upon and his claims to fair treatment rejected solely because of the color of his skin.

--President William Howard Taft

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"I KNOW THE BURDENS YOU HAVE TO BEAR."

I know the burdens you have to bear. I can understand the disadvantages under which you labor. I know of your sufferings, mental and otherwise, and humiliations. I can understand what they are and how hard they are to bear, but I want you to know that there are a lot of good people in this world who sympathize deeply with you and are anxious to help you in your hard course.

--From Speech of President Taft at Georgia Industrial School, Ga, May 1, 1912.

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THE DOOR OF HOPE—1902

I cannot consent to take the position that the door of hope—the door of opportunity—is shut upon any man, no matter how worthy, purely upon the ground of race or color.

--Theodore Roosevelt

TEN YEARS LATER—1912

It would be much worse than useless to build up the Progressive party in these southern states, where there is no real Republican party, by appealing to the Negroes or to the men who in the past have derived their sole standing from leading and manipulating the Negroes.

--Theodore Roosevelt

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For more information on race in the 1912 election and on the other parties' efforts to attract votes, see the pages on the Democrats, Progressives, and Socialists.