We’ve fallen a little behind on our World War I series. Over the next few weeks/months, we’re going to work to get caught-up to the calendar.
As the night of November 7th, 1916 became the early morning hours of November 8th, supporters of Charles Evans Hughes were becoming increasingly confident.
The former New York Governor, Supreme Court Justice and Republican nominee for President, Hughes had waged a brief campaign – he hadn’t sought the office but accepted the nomination in June – but looked as though he was on the verge of winning. Hughes had all but swept the Eastern states, racking up victories in large electoral college states like New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois. By the time the reported results had turned to the Western states, Hughes already had nearly 249 electoral votes (New Hampshire was still too close to call) out of the 266 he needed to win. The early numbers in the West had favored incumbent President Woodrow Wilson, but Hughes’ camp felt secure that he would obtain at least Oregon and California’s votes. Together, they would deliver the Presidency to Hughes.
Despite Germany’s unrestricted submarine warfare and numerous acts of terrorism, America had remained neutral in Europe’s conflict. Wilson had campaigned largely on his ability to keep America out of the war, while Hughes had spent the last five months questioning the nation’s preparations. Despite Hughes wanting to side-step any mention of the war directly, the campaign’s final weeks had devolved into a pro-neutrality versus pro-Entente/pro-war election.
The results from Oregon and California, although not official, arrived early in the morning – Hughes looked likely to win them both. As Hughes drifted off to sleep, it was as the President-elect of the United States. America had taken one step closer to preparing for war.
The common historical refrain of America’s attitude about the Great War in 1914 was that the nation staunchly preferred peace. In reality, the nation was strongly divided on a variety of issues surrounding Europe’s conflict. Continue reading