Flix for Short: The Old Way and the New Way (1912)

Your Feature Presentation: Wilson's 1912 Campaign Ad

With the Republican National Convention continuing tonight and the election approaching, this is a political installment of Flix for Short. It’s also a historical one. Above is the 100-year-old silent film The Old Way and the New Way, the first known political ad to utilize the moving image. Here we see Woodrow Wilson lambaste William Howard Taft as a tool for special interests; Wilson, by comparison, is the candidate for the common man. Even new political ads continue the Old Way traditional.

Taft had experienced a demoralizing mid-term election in 1910, and the Republicans were split up when Teddy Roosevelt fought Taft for the party’s nomination. Roosevelt lost the delegate count to Taft and started the Progressive/Bull Moose Party in response. Wilson wound up winning the 1912 election with roughly 42% of the vote, Roosevelt came in second with 27%, and Taft came in third with 23%. Socialist candidate Eugene Debs picked up just 6% of the votes.

If Teddy came up with enough cash, I would have liked to have seen his campaign ad. I imagine it would be him surviving a series of political assassinations and beating the crap out of people.

Historical fact of the day: John Schrank attempted to assassinate Teddy Roosevelt in Milwaukee on October 14, 1912. Schrank’s bullet hit Roosevelt in the chest but was partially stopped by Roosevelt’s steel eyeglass case and a folded 50-page speech. Sensing that he was in no mortal danger, Roosevelt delivered his 90-minute speech while bleeding, beginning his oration, “Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.”

[PBS News Hour on YouTube via Bad Ass Digest]

Hubert Vigilla
Brooklyn-based fiction writer, film critic, and long-time editor and contributor for Flixist. A booster of all things passionate and idiosyncratic.