Election of 1904: Theodore Roosevelt wins the election

Theodore Roosevelt succeeded William McKinley, who was assassinated in September 1901. Roosevelt became the odds-on favorite for the Republican nomination in 1904. However, a disgruntled segment of the party voiced their view that Roosevelt's actions were too liberal. They favored instead the nomination of Mark Hanna. Hanna had advised Roosevelt for a few months after the assassination, but then lost influence in the administration. His death in 1904 probably averted a heated contest over what direction the Republican Party would take. With the contender gone, the convention nominated Roosevelt by acclamation.

The Democrats passed over William Jennings Bryan and settled on the nomination of Alton B. Parker, a conservative Appeals Court judge in New York. Parker was a firm advocate of the gold standard, embodying the Democrats' desire to distance themselves from the shelf-worn silver issue. Bryan overcame his distaste for the nominee, campaigned dutifully in the farm belt and stressed popular progressive ideas of the day. Conservative Democrats blasted Roosevelt for his trust-busting activities and inviting Booker T. Washington, a prominent black leader, to the White House.

Roosevelt won a convincing victory in November. Significant Democratic support was visible only in the South. Following his triumph, Roosevelt unwisely announced his decision to not seek a third term, a statement he would come to regret.

The 1904 election witnessed a strong showing by Eugene V. Debs and the Socialists, and a notable presence by the Prohibition Party. The Populists were in steep decline and would disappear from the national scene after the next presidential election.

Election of 1904
Candidates

Party

Electoral Vote

Popular
Vote

Theodore Roosevelt (NY)
Charles Warren Fairbanks (IN)

Republican

336

7,623,486

Alton Brooks Parker (NY)
Henry Gassaway Davis (WV)

Democratic

140

5,077,911

Eugene Victor Debs (IN)
Benjamin Hanford (NY)

Socialist

0

402,283

Silas Comfort Swallow (PA)
George W. Carroll (TX)

Prohibition

0

258,536

Thomas Edward Watson (GA)
Thomas Henry Tibbles (NE)

People's
(Populist)

0

117,183

Charles Hunter Corregan (NY)
William Wesley Cox (IL)

Socialist Labor

0

31,249

Austin Holcomb (GA)
A. King (MO)

Socialist Labor

0

1,000