Following President William McKinley's assassination in 1901, Vice President Theodore Roosevelt succeeded him. In 1904, the incumbent was unanimously nominated by the Republican Party. Democrats came forward with a much less colorful figure, Alton B. Parker, chief justice of the New York Court of Appeals. Roosevelt easily won 56 percent of the popular vote, with a popular vote margin of 19 percent—the largest recorded since James Monroe's uncontested reelection in 1820 and the election of Warren G. Harding in 1920.
Much more interesting than the defeat of Parker was the bitter struggle waged within the Democratic Party that preceded it. Parker was a Gold Democrat, more like Theodore Roosevelt than William Jennings Bryan, who championed silver-based currency and still maintained considerable control of the Democrat Party; he denounced Parker as a tool of Wall Street. The cartoon that enlivens the cover of a 1904 issue of the Democratic magazine Puck ridicules the dissent stirred by Bryan by depicting him as a squabbling parrot who holds tight to "dead issues" of his Populist movement—the "moral issue" of the impoverished poor, "free silver," his "Kansas City platform" of 1900, and the popular Bryan slogan of "16-to-1" (his claim that 16 silver-backed dollars could be printed for every one dollar backed by gold). Bryan's Populist movement, however, was far from dead. It set the direction for the liberal economic programs of such Democratic presidents as Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson, and it still lives today.
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