Theodore Roosevelt Attends Republican National Convention
Roosevelt was a Republican activist during his years in the Assembly, writing more bills than any other New York state legislator.
Already a major player in state politics, he attended the Republican National Convention in 1884 and fought alongside the Mugwump reformers; they lost to the Stalwart faction that nominated James G. Blaine. Refusing to join other Mugwumps in supporting Democrat Grover Cleveland, the Democratic nominee, he debated with his friend Henry Cabot Lodge the pros and cons of staying loyal. When asked by a reporter whether he would support Blaine, he replied, "That question I decline to answer. It is a subject I do not care to talk about." Upon leaving the convention, he complained "off the record" to a reporter about Blaine's nomination. But, in probably the most crucial moment of his young political career, he resisted the very instinct to bolt from the Party that would overwhelm his political sense in 1912. In an account of the Convention, another reporter quoted him as saying that he would give "hearty support to any decent Democrat." He would later take great (and to some historical critics such as Henry Pringle, rather disingenuous) pains to distance himself from his own earlier comment, indicating that while he made it, it had not been made "for publication." Leaving the convention, his idealism quite disillusioned by party politics, Roosevelt indicated that he had no further aspiration but to retire to his ranch in the wild Badlands of the Dakota Territory that he had purchased the previous year while on a buffalo hunting expedition
The 1884 Republican National Convention was a presidential nominating convention held at the Exposition Hall in Chicago, Illinois, on June 3-6, 1884. It resulted in the nomination of James G. Blaine and John A. Logan for President and Vice President of the United States. The ticket lost in the election of 1884 to Democrats Grover Cleveland and Thomas A. Hendricks.
In attendance were 1600 delegates and alternates and 6000 spectators. There were 820 official delegates; 411 votes were needed to win the nomination. Blaine was the favorite going in, but there was a possibility that incumbent Chester Arthur could build a coalition with smaller candidate such as George F. Edmunds. There were also rumors that members of the Party would bolt if Blaine won the nomination. Neither Blaine nor Arthur were in attendance. Blaine was at his home in Augusta, Maine and Arthur followed the events from the White House by telegraphy.
To test the waters Blaine supporters nominated Powell Clayton as temporary chair of the Convention. A former Arthur supporter, Clayton was now in Blaine’s camp. He was popular with veterans, but was also associated with the Star Route Frauds. Edmunds supporters, led by Henry Cabot Lodge moved to nominate John R. Lynch instead, an African-American from Mississippi. The speech supporting Lynch was given by Theodore Roosevelt. Lynch won the vote 424 to 384, and Blaine’s nomination seemed for the first time vulnerable.