The presidential election of 1912 was unusual in that there were four candidates. Theodore Roosevelt, who had supported his successor, William Howard Taft, in 1908, wanted, four years later, to run again himself. Failing to win the nomination of the Republican Party (that went to the incumbent Taft), Roosevelt formed his own party--the Progressive Party, also known as the Bull Moose Party. Woodrow Wilson, of course, was the Democrats' candidate, and, with Eugene Debs running as the candidate of the Socialist Party of America, voters--still all men--had four candidates to choose from.
In 1912, the suffragists were ramping up their battle for the vote, and Wilson was not the best choice as President to help them achieve their goal. Theodore Roosevelt was. In 1912, Roosevelt's Bull Moose Party was the first national political party to have a plank in the party platform supporting woman suffrage. Wilson, as did Taft, opposed federal woman suffrage.
It wasn't that Wilson disliked women. Louis Auchincloss described him as someone who "simply could not live without the love and approval of an attractive and sympathetic woman." When his first wife, Ellen Axson Wilson, died in August 1914, Wilson was devastated. His health deteriorated, he fell into depression and talked of resigning. When he met Edith Bolling Galt, the charming and wealthy widow who would become his second wife, he was smitten. In June 1915--less than a year after Ellen's death--they were secretly engaged. They were married, after little more than the minimum wait required by respectability, in December 1915.
|Woodrow Wilson, daughter Eleanor, and Ellen Axson Wilson|
|Woodrow Wilson and Edith Bolling Galt|