When Wilson spoke at Convention Hall and the Shubert Theatre four days before elected President

When Wilson spoke at Convention Hall and the Shubert Theatre four days before elected President

Convention Hall is now the site of Geva. Gift from Lucian Waddell. ceramic miniature: “Geva Theatre, Rochester, New York, Performing at the Richard Pine Theatre, 25th Anniversary Season 1997 – 1998, Limited Edition”

Sat, Nov 2, 1912 – Page 19

Sat, Nov 2, 1912 – Page 19 Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

In keeping with our Presidential Visits series (BELOW), on November 1st, 1912 Woodrow Wilson spoke at Convention Hall and the now gone Shubert Theater in the days before his victory over William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt.  The visit was significant in that Wilson was the only major party candidate to visit Rochester. Furthermore, as the election was drawing close, the Democrat and Chronicle claimed the speeches were Wilson’s “last pronouncement of national significance during the present campaign.”  The D & C reported the crowds Wilson drew may have been the largest gatherings of the year.

75 W. Main Street, Rochester, NY

@1908. The National Theater (opened in 1902) was renamed Theater Shubert prior to 1913. 75 W. Main Street, Rochester, NY

Fri, Nov 1, 1912 – Page 22

Fri, Nov 1, 1912 – Page 22

In 1912, Roosevelt had split with the Republican party and ran on the Progressive Party ticket, commonly called the “Bull Moose” Party. Roosevelt felt Taft had not gone far enough in curbing corporate power. In his speeches in Rochester, according to the headline, The Democrat Wilson provided “HIS ATTITUDE TOWARDS MONOPOLIES.”  Wilson said he stood “absolutely” by the Democratic platform that “private monopoly was indefensible and intolerable.”  Given Wilson’s Progressive views, he even went as far as to say that direct government involvement was conceivable:


Sat, Nov 2, 1912 – Page 19 Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Much like today, Progressives grappled with how to regulate corporate power in an era of vast economic inequality.

Thomas R. Marshall

November 30, 1914 Democrat and Chronicle

Wilson did not visit Rochester during his presidency, but his Vice President Thomas R. Marshall spoke at Convention Hall on December 1st, 1914.  The highlight of the talk was his allusion to Theodore Roosevelt in which Marshall called Roosevelt  a “gift from God for the Democratic Party,” a nice word play on Theodore that means a gift from God in Greek.  Marshall was referring to Roosevelt’s break with the Republican Party that propelled he and Wilson to office.

Democrat and Chronicle, 03 Oct 1912, Thu, Page 20

Democrat and Chronicle, 03 Oct 1912, Thu, Page 20

On October 2nd, 1912 Roosevelt’s Vice Presidential “Bull Moose” running mate, Governor Hiram Johnson of California, also spoke at Convention Hall to 5,000 “Monroe Moose” as Roosevelt’s local supporters were called.  Johnson criticized Taft for leaving the county behind in social and industrial reforms.

And as the campaign neared its finish, Rochestarians could go to Sibley’s to hear the words of the candidates on the Victor:

Democrat and Chronicle, 24 Oct 1912, Thu, Page 3

Democrat and Chronicle, 24 Oct 1912, Thu, Page 3

On Taft and Roosevelt’s visits to Rochester, see

When Taft spoke at Convention Hall on August 23rd, 1911  and October, 26th, 1898: the Rough Rider on his way to the Governor’s mansion. TR Comes to Town, again…and again…and again… by Michael Nighan.

For some parallels between the 1912 and 2016 elections, see 1860/1912 Redux? from Michael Nighan)

The split between Roosevelt and Taft enabled Wilson to win Monroe County and New York both of which usually voted Republican.

440px-New_york_presidential_results_1912 new

1912 election. Blue = Wilson; Red = Taft

Four years later in 1916, New York State and Monroe County reverted to their usual Republican leanings as Wilson lost both; in Monroe County his Republican opponent Charles Evans Hughes won between 60 and 70% of the vote.  But Wilson won national re-election.


1916 election. Red = Hughes; Blue = Wilson


First, ROYALTY ON THE RIVER: A KING (and maybe a second king, and even an emperor) COME TO ROCHESTER

Then, when a Frenchman was in Rochester and a plaque for Lafayette.

In When President John Quincy Adams visited Rochester on July 27th and 28th, 1843 and toured Mt. Hope Cemetery, the grave of Nathaniel lincolnRochester.

In On Abraham Lincoln in Rochester from Michael Nighan, a plaque and a train station.

occupyIn Memorial Day, 1892, when President Benjamin Harrison dedicated the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Monument in Washington Square Park with Frederick Douglass. And Occupy Rochester, Benjamin Harrison, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass in the same park Occupy would occupy.

In November 1st, 1892 when McKinley campaigned for Benjamin Harrison, the Washington park ice rink.

In October, 26th, 1898: the Rough Rider on his way to the Governor’s mansion. TR Comes to Town, again…and again…and again… by Michael Nighan., a statue of Teddy in School 29.

When Taft spoke at Convention Hall on August 23rd, 1911, the Grand Army of the Republic

In BIG BILL, BIG BELL AND SCHOOL BELLS: An ex-president, the Liberty Bell, and several thousand school teachers come to town. it was William Howard Taft.


In FDR’s first visit to Rochester as a national candidate, September 23rd, 1920. And the League of Nations., Rachel in Washington Square Park.

In October 21st, 1920 in Rochester and Governor Harding’s return to normalcy. And the school named after him., a school in North Gates.harding-school-newest

In Governor Roosevelt’s triumphant return to the Convention Hall, October 18th, 1932, a luncheon with Eleanor Roosevelt.

In FDR in Rochester en route to a New Deal landslide, October 17th, 1936, an unfinished portrait.

In FDR in Rochester three days before he won a third term, a speech at the train station.

In When President Truman campaigned in Rochester en route to his upset win over NY Governor Thomas Dewey, a thruway sign.outside-school

In October 23rd and 24th, 1952 when Ike and Adlai were in town back to back. And School 29., the Adlai E. Stevenson School.

In 56 years ago when JFK spoke at the War Memorial. Two days after his debate with Nixon. Nine days after RFK was here., the War Memorial.

In Nixon at the War Memorial one week before he lost a razor thin election to JFK ,the War Memorial.

In LBJ and RFK in Rochester, October 15th,1964, LBJ and RFK at the airport.

In November 3rd, 1964: When Rochester’s Senator Keating lost to RFK in the wake of LBJ’s landslide. a Federal building.

In 45 years ago when President Nixon visited Rochester. And 3 days later when East High School erupted in racial violence a media briefing at the Landmark Hotel in Pittsford.running-for-prz

In When Carter stumped Rochester in ’76. And Howard the Duck. it was Howard for Prez.

In October 31st, 1976: Gerald Ford two days before the unelected president’s comeback falls just short., a Playboy

In October 29th, 1980: Carter at a rally six days before the Reagan revolution. And when Bernie Sanders campaigned for Barry Commoner, the Citizen’s Party.

In November 1st, 1984: Ronald Reagan five days before his 49 state landslide. And Jesse Jackson at MCC. And a liberal enclave. it was two rallies.

with BrIAN cropped

In 27 years ago today when President George H. W. Bush visited Wilson Magnet High School, a signed chalkboard.

In May 24th, 2005 when President Bush spent political capital in Greece. it is Dr. Bruce Kay

In 11 years ago when President Bush met J-Mac. And the judgment of history., J-Mac.

In 5 Meliora Weekends ago when President Clinton spoke., Great Books with President Seligman.

In On October 19th, 2012 when Bill Clinton campaigned for Louise Slaughter. And a Socialist at the public market, Peta Lyndsay.

with-billIn , A seat at the President’s table four years later soup and a grilled cheese sandwich at Magnolia’s and an eyewitness account.

In Next stop Albany. On the road with the Trumprenuers, the Trumprenuers at the airport.

In Memories of presidential visits on Election Day in Brighton, a vote for Talker.

About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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