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Theodore Roosevelt Regrets He Couldn’t Convince Dark Horse Candidate Supporters to go to John Sherman at 1884 Republican National Convention
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Unlike his brother William Tecumseh Sherman, who steadfastly refused a political career, John Sherman was a lifelong public servant. Here, he attempts to gain the Republican presidential nomination for the second time.

THEODORE ROOSEVELT. Autograph Signed Letter to John Sherman in reference to the 1884 Republican National Convention. July 12, 1884. 2 pp. 4 ½ x 7 in. on two adjoining black-bordered sheets.

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Complete Transcript

422 Madison Av./New York/July 12th 84

Hon John Sherman

Dear Sir,

Your kind favor of the 16th inst. has come to hand. I have only to regret that my efforts to transfer the various “dark horse” and “favorite son” votes to yourself were not successful; you would have received the most cordial and hearty support from all Republicans, and I should have been proud indeed could I have assisted in bringing about your nomination.

            Most truly yours,

            Theodore Roosevelt

Docketed: “N.Y. July 12/84 Theodore Roosevelt”

Historical Background

Roosevelt’s black-bordered mourning stationery was in memorial to Roosevelt’s wife Alice and his mother Martha, who both tragically died within hours of each other on February 14, 1884. The brother of General William Tecumseh Sherman, John Sherman (1823-1900) proved to be one of the most influential Republicans of his time. He served as Ohio Representative (1855-1861) and Senator (1881-1897), Secretary of the Treasury under Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881), and Secretary of State under William McKinley (1897-1898). In 1884, he sought the Republican nomination for the presidency for the second time of three failed attempts (1880, 1884, and 1888). He was the principal author of the 1890 Antitrust Act that bears his name.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) was the 26th President, and a fervent nationalist, environmentalist, and reformer. He began his political career as a Republican state assemblyman, then president of the New York Police Board in 1895-1897, where he fought administrative corruption. Roosevelt organized and led a regiment, the Rough Riders, in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. He used his newfound celebrity to win election as governor of New York (1898-1900), and was nominated as Vice President under William McKinley for the Election of 1900. In 1901, he became President upon McKinley’s assassination, and was re-elected in his own right in 1904. He insisted on a strong navy, civil service reform, national conservation efforts, and federal regulation of trusts, monopolies, and meatpackers. Roosevelt declined to run again in 1908, instead throwing his support behind William Howard Taft. However, disappointed with his hand-picked successor, in 1912, Roosevelt decided to run against Taft as a third-party candidate against Taft. The split in the Republican Party, and a strong showing by Socialist candidate Eugene V. Debs, propelled Democrat Woodrow Wilson into the White House. Though he was mentioned as a candidate in 1916, Roosevelt retired from politics, but was a strong advocate of entering World War I on the side of Britain and France.