Theodore Roosevelt Elected Vice President of United States

Roosevelt was a powerful campaign asset for the Republican ticket, which defeated William Jennings Bryan in a landslide based on restoration of prosperity at home and a successful war and new prestige abroad.

Bryan stumped for Free Silver again, but McKinley's promise of prosperity through the gold standard, high tariffs, and the restoration of business confidence enlarged his margin of victory. Bryan had strongly supported the war against Spain, but denounced the annexation of the Philippines as imperialism that would spoil America's innocence. Roosevelt countered with many speeches that argued it was best for the Filipinos to have stability, and the Americans to have a proud place in the world. Roosevelt's six months as Vice President (March to September 1901) were uneventful. On September 2, 1901, at the Minnesota State Fair, Roosevelt first used in a public speech a saying that would later be universally associated with him: "Speak softly and carry a big stick, and you will go far."

By the time the Republican National Convention opened in June in Philadelphia, it had become obvious that Roosevelt was the favorite to receive the vice-presidential nomination. When he continued to protest that he would rather be governor of New York, Lodge warned him that, if he attended the convention, his nomination was assured. But Roosevelt could not stay away, claiming that to do so would look like cowardice. As a result, despite his protestations, his magnetic presence at the convention fired the enthusiasm of his partisans to a fever pitch. When he appeared for the opening session clad in a black hat reminiscent of the Rough Riders' Cuban campaign—what one delegate called "an acceptance hat"—his nomination was sealed. Scores of western delegates spent that night parading and chanting "We want Teddy." As Senator Platt put it, "Roosevelt might as well stand under Niagara Falls and try to spit water back as to stop his nomination by this convention." Ohio Senator Mark Hanna, who opposed the Roosevelt nomination, tried to block the movement from his position as convention chairman, but without support from the president he could do little against the combined forces of Platt, Pennsylvania boss Matthew Quay (who had an old score to settle with Hanna), and genuine popular will. In desperation, Hanna could only protest, "Don't you realize that there's only one life between this madman and the White House?"

Theodore Roosevelt really did not want to be vice president, but he was a confirmed political realist with presidential ambitions. He knew that regaining the nomination for governor of New York would be difficult, if not impossible, against the open opposition of Senator Platt, and even a successful gubernatorial campaign promised only two years of political struggle against growing corporate hostility. Although Roosevelt continued to fight his own nomination, his protests grew gradually weaker, until, by the time of the convention, they were no longer convincing. Everything pointed to the vice-presidency, and Theodore Roosevelt knew how to read the signs. He did not pursue the office, but when it was thrust upon him, he accepted it. For good or ill, he was now President McKinley's running mate and he was determined to make the best of it.

If I have been put on the shelf, my enemies will find that I can make it a cheerful place of abode.”

— Theodore Roosevelt

Speak softly and carry a big stick, and you will go far.”

— Theodore Roosevelt