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Charles Evans Hughes (April 11, 1862 - August 27, 1948) was a Nationalist American politician and lawyer who served as Governor of New York and as President of the United States. A member of the National Party's progressive movement and a staunch opponent of the left-wing labor movement, he was referred to as the "progressive conservative."
While he governed over a period of social stability and economic growth in the United States, the economy went into decline late in his term as part of the global financial turndown. One of his policy highlights was his avoidance of war with Japan for almost all of his term, until his hand was forced by the torpedo attack against the USS Rockefeller on September 14, 1924.
Governor of New York
Hughes served as the Governor of New York from 1907 until 1911. He won the 1906 election handily over William Randolph Hearst, becoming the only Nationalist to win election that year. As Governor, he built upon his success as a lawyer in pursuing an aggressive agenda against both trusts and the New York Railroad Union, which had the strong support of the Bryan Democrats (in New York referred to as Silvercrats). In 1908, Hughes fought a hard-fought battle against George Wilson Mills, a Silvercrat, yet secured reelection. Hughes chose not to run for reelection in 1910, insteading desiring national office. Popular amongst the people of New York, Hughes campaigned vigorously for Nationalist office seekers, including his nephew Robert R. Hughes for state senator, and tacitly supported Bourbon Democrat Eliezer Weschel due to his personal feud with Nationalist gubernatorial candidate Perkins Quincy.
As Governor, Hughes' greatest legislative achievement was the "trust-busting" of the United American Electric Company, which controlled 63% of New York's electricity in 1909, which paved the way for both General Electric and American Energy to grow in the succeeding decade.
In 1912, Hughes was regarded as a strong candidate for the Nationalist Presidential nomination - however, pro-business Nationalists balked at his selection due to his preference for free trade, a legal history supporting antitrust sentiments, support of Democratic candidates in New York and his support of a national prohibition of alcohol. At the 1912 National Party Convention in St. Louis, he placed third, second and fourth on the first three ballots before withdrawing his name from the ballot and endorsing eventual nominee Theodore Roosevelt, in the expectation that he would be nominated as the Vice Presidential candidate. Roosevelt, however, explicitly chose Charles W. Fairbanks as his preferred running mate, alienating Hughes, who declined to campaign for Roosevelt in New York.