1908 Republican National Convention

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1908 Republican National Convention
1908 presidential election
William Howard Taft, Bain bw photo portrait, 1908.jpg James Sherman, Bain bw photo portrait facing left.jpg
Taft and Sherman
Date(s) June 16–19, 1908
City Chicago, Illinois
Venue Chicago Coliseum
Chair Henry C. Lodge
Presidential nominee William H. Taft of Ohio
Vice Presidential nominee James Sherman of New York
Total delegates 980
Votes needed for nomination 491
Results (President) Taft (OH): 702 (71.63%)
Knox (PA): 68 (6.94%)
Hughes (NY): 67 (6.84%)
Cannon (IL): 58 (5.92%)
Fairbanks (IN): 40 (4.08%)
La Follette (WI): 25 (2.55%)
Foraker (OH): 16 (1.63%)
Roosevelt (NY): 3 (0.31%)
Abstaining: 1 (0.10%)
Ballots 1
1904  ·  1912

The 1908 Republican National Convention was held in Chicago Coliseum, Chicago, Illinois on June 16 to June 19, 1908. It convened to nominate a successor to the popular GOP President, Theodore Roosevelt and his Vice President, Charles W. Fairbanks.

In the event, United States Secretary of War William Howard Taft of Ohio won Roosevelt's endorsement and received the nomination. The convention nominated New York Representative James Schoolcraft Sherman to be his running mate.

The Platform

The Republican platform celebrated the Roosevelt administration's economic policies such as the keeping of the protective tariff, establishment of a permanent currency system (the Federal Reserve), additional government supervision and control over trusts. It championed enforcement of railroad rate laws, giving the Interstate Commerce Commission authority to investigate interstate railroads, and reduction of work hours for railroad workers, as well as general reduction in the work week.

In foreign policy, it supported a buildup of the armed forces, protection of American citizens abroad, extension of foreign commerce, vigorous arbitration and the Hague treaties, a revival of the U.S. Merchant Marine, support of war veterans, self-government for Cuba and the Philippines with citizenship for residents of Puerto Rico.

In other areas, it advocated court reform, creation of a federal Bureau of Mines and Mining, extension of rural mail delivery, environmental conservation, upholding of the rights of African-Americans and the civil service, and greater efficiency in national public health agencies.

The platform lastly expressed pride in U.S. involvement in the building of the Panama Canal, the admission of the New Mexico and Arizona Territories; called for the celebration of the birthday of Abraham Lincoln; and generally deplored the Democratic Party while celebrating the policies of the Republicans.


The 1908 Republican National Convention in session.

The following individuals spoke at the 1908 Republican National Convention. Many spoke with the goal of nominating a specific nominee as this was before the age of the primary and they were all decided at the convention.

June 16

June 17

June 18

  • Prayer by Rev. Dr. John Wesley Hill
  • George Henry Williams, Former Attorney General
  • Henry Sherman Boutell of Illinois, Lawyer and diplomat
  • Joseph W. Fordney, Congressman of Michigan
  • Frank Hanly, Governor of Indiana
  • Charles A. Bookwalter, Mayor of Indianapolis
  • Stewart L. Woodford, Former Congressman and Judge of New York
  • Theodore E. Burton, Congressman of Ohio
  • George A. Knight, Attorney and Businessman
  • C.B. M'Coy, Ohio Factory Owner
  • W.O. Emory, Young Black Delegate from Macon, Georgia
  • Robert S. Murphy, Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania
  • James Scarlet, Prominent Attorney from Danville, Pennsylvania
  • Henry F. Cochems, Wisconsin Football Star
  • Charles A.A. McGee, Author of "The Truth About Money" from Wisconsin

June 19

As for the smaller number of speeches than today, this was caused largely by the fact that only actual observers saw this convention due to lack of broadcast media at this time. There were also more convention business items to take care of since nominations back then always went all the way to the convention where someone was officially nominated. This was due to the lack of a sufficient primary season for the nomination. For this same reason, nominating speeches were given.

Presidential Candidates

Prior to the convention, Vice President Charles Fairbanks and New York Governor Charles Evans Hughes both seemed like plausible nominees, but Roosevelt was determined to pick his own successor.[1] Though Roosevelt preferred Secretary of State Elihu Root, Root's age and background in corporate law made him an unpalatable nominee, so Roosevelt instead supported Secretary of War William Howard Taft.[2] Entering the convention, Taft, buoyed by the support of the popular Roosevelt, was virtually assured of the nomination.[3] Taft won the presidential nomination on the first ballot, overcoming Fairbanks and a few other candidates.[4]

Withdrew Before Convention

Declined to Seek Nomination

Vice Presidential Candidates

Taft preferred a progressive running mate such as Indiana Senator Albert Beveridge or Iowa Senator Jonathan Dolliver, but Congressman James S. Sherman of New York had the support of Speaker Joseph Gurney Cannon and the New York delegation.[2] Sherman was a fairly conservative Republican who was nonetheless acceptable to the more progressive wing of the party.[2] Sherman won the vice presidential nomination on the first ballot, taking 816 of the 979 votes cast.[5] New Jersey Governor Franklin Murphy received 77 votes while Massachusetts Governor Curtis Guild, Jr. received 75 votes, with the remaining votes going to Governor George L. Sheldon of Nebraska and Vice President Charles Fairbanks.[5]

Declined to Seek Nomination

See also

Preceded by
Chicago, Illinois
Republican National Conventions Succeeded by
Chicago, Illinois


  1. "Charles Warren Fairbanks, 26th Vice President (1905-1909)". US Senate. US Senate. Retrieved 9 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "James S. Sherman, 27th Vice President (1909-1912)". US Senate. US Senate. Retrieved 8 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Convention on, Taft Controls". New York Times. 17 June 1908. Retrieved 8 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Taft Named; First Ballot". New York Times. 19 June 1908. Retrieved 8 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 Tweedy, John (1910). A History of the Republican National Conventions from 1856 to 1908. Republican National Convention. pp. 389–390. Retrieved 8 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>