Imagine a presidential election without the intrusion of 24 hour news, the internet, or Facebook. Candidates traveled the country by train, and newspapers were the primary source of information on electoral races.
Charles Hughes on the campaign trail
One hundred years ago, during the presidential election of 1916, the Republican party of Montgomery County hosted vice-presidential candidate, the Honorable Charles W Fairbanks. Fairbanks, a Hoosier from Indianapolis, had previously won elections for a senate seat from Indiana, and for vice-president under Theodore Roosevelt in 1904. He had lost his bid to run as president during the 1916 campaign, but was instrumental in setting up the Republican platform for this election. Charles E. Hughes, at the time, led the Republican ticket against the Democratic nominees Woodrow Wilson and Thomas Marshall, another Hoosier.
During Fairbanks’ visit, in October of 1916, he planned single visits to Linden,Darlington, Waveland, and two trips through Crawfordsville. He was to stop for15 minutes in each town and speak from the back of the train. On the Saturdaystop in Darlington, a large reception would be held by prominent local Republicans. This trip through the county would be the last for any Republican candidates for this election.
Secret polls throughout the state were conducted by the New York Herald, the
Cincinnati Enquirer, and other metropolitan newspapers. All sections of the. country showed favoritism towards the Republican slate. Hughes was seen to be accumulating voters previously leaning towards a Wilson vote.
Election results were close across the country. In fact, Hughes and Fairbanks had a pretty good idea that they had won when their heads hit their pillows on election night. However, when California’s votes were counted, Wilson had defeated former Supreme Court Justice Charles Hughes 49.1% to 46.1%, or 277 electoral votes to 254.
Towns and cities in Alaska, Minnesota, and Oregon are named Fairbanks in his honor, along with a school in Indianapolis.