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Samuel J. Randall, of Pennsylvania, led the meager contingent of
Democrats that opposed it. The bill was finally passed by the House
by 162 ayes to 149 nays, July 21, 1888, in time, with a counter bill in
the Senate embodying the Republican doctrine of Protection, to be-
come the dominating issue of the Presidential campaign that was
then beginning.


The Mills bill made significant reductions in existing tariff rates,
but it was hastily and crudely drawn, and only served to exhaust the
time of the first session of the 50th Congress for political effect, with-
out any expectation of practical legislation. The country was not
prepared for Free Trade as a direct issue, and the consequences *were
disastrous to Mr. Cleveland and his party.

President Cleveland gave offense to many Republicans by persist-
ing in the veto policy in the 50th Congress that he had pursued so
relentlessly in the 49th, and especially by his veto of the Dependent
Pension bill. A hasty order for the return of Confederate battle-flags,
in 1887, caused so much excitement that it was revoked. But as a
whole the Administration was colorless, apart from the impetus given
to Tariff revision by the President's bold message in December, 1887,
and the passage of the Mills Tariff bill by the House of Representa-
tives in 1888.




The Democrats Take the Lead Democratic National Convention at
St. Louis The Republican Party " Struggling for Life " Eulo-
gies of President Cleveland Irish Flattery Nominating Speech
of Daniel Dougherty Taxation is Robbery Cleveland Renomi-
nated by Acclamation The Democratic Platform Allen G.
Thurmau for Vice-President Republican National Convention
at Chicago The Presidential Candidates Organization of the
Convention The Platform Balloting Analysis of the Voting
Depew Withdraws McKinley's Protest Elaine's Telegrams
Read Benjamin Harrison Nominated Levi P. Morton for Vice-
President The Candidates Democratic View of the Campaign
Elements of Discontent General Harrison's Election.

ONTRARY to the practice of previous Presidential cam-
paigns during the long period of Republican supremacy,
the Democrats, emboldened by their confidence in the Presi-
dent's lead in favor of tariff reduction, in 1888, anticipated
the Republicans by calling the Democratic National Convention to
meet at St. Louis a fortnight earlier than the meeting of the Repub-
lican National Convention at Chicago. It was thought as the party
was now dominant in Federal politics, with the exception of the
United States Senate, that it should take the lead in laying down its
principles and naming its candidates. When the National Commit-
tee met to settle the meeting-place of the Convention there was a
spirited contest for the honor, New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Cincin-
nati, and San Francisco all being competitors. St. Louis, for the
second time in the history of the Democratic party, was chosen as the
Convention city, and the 5th of June was named as the day for the

Long before the Convention met it was apparent that Mr. Cleveland
would have no competitor for the Presidential nomination. Every
State in the Union not only declared in favor of his renomination,
but indorsed his position on the tariff. There w r as a feeling among
Democrats that his re-election was assured, and even that the Repub-
lican party was no longer a serious menace to Democratic supremacy.
These sentiments were voiced by Stephen M. White, of California,


who was made temporary Chairman of the Convention. " The re-
election of Grover Cleveland/' Mr. White said, " is demanded by the
patriotic sentiment of the land. The Kepublican party is struggling
for life. It can not long survive. Its extended incumbency was due
to the fears and doubts succeeding the civil conflict. These forebod-
ings have been removed by time and thought; and honest opinion, in
spite of illegal force openly used, notwithstanding criminal efforts
defeating the public will as expressed at the ballot-box, has driven
unworthy servants from office, and has summoned to power an ad-
ministration to which no stain or suspicion has ever attached. . . .
The honest, intelligent electors, whose judgment is untainted by preju-
dice, are prepared to again intrust this Government to the Democratic
party. That that organization has accomplished so much, notwith-
standing the continued opposition of its foes, is ample evidence that
during the next four years its policy will be finally and completely
adopted. The coming contest will result in the triumph of Democ-
racy. The nominees of this Convention will be the chosen of the peo-
ple, and if we do our duty the Kepublican party w T ill be unable to
retard the progress of our country."

The work of the Convention was not so much to nominate a candi-
date for President of the United States as to eulogize the candidate
upon whom the party was united. Mr. White's warm indorsement of
Cleveland's administration was almost cold in comparison with the
praises of the Democratic orators who followed him. On the second
day of the Convention, Patrick A. Collins, of Massachusetts, was made
its permanent President. His references to the great qualities and
surpassing virtues of the candidate had all the glow and fervor of
genuine Irish flattery. " We need not wait," he said, " for time to do
justice to the character and services of President Cleveland. Honest,
clear-sighted, patient, grounded in respect for law and justice, with a
thorough grasp of principles and situations, with marvelous and con-
scientious industry; the very incarnation of firmness he has nobly
fulfilled the promise of his party, nobly met the expectations of his
country, and written his name high on the scroll where future Ameri-
cans will read the names of men who have been supremely useful to
the Republic."

Not easily surfeited with the vaunted glories of the man of might
who, after the wanderings of a quarter of a century, had led the Demo-
cratic hosts out of the wilderness, the Convention w T as eager for still
more sounding phrases in praise of the Moses of the Democracy. In
order to gratify this unusual taste for oratory, it w r as determined not
to wait for the report of the Committee on. Resolutions not to wait
even for the President's State in calling the roll before putting Mr.


Cleveland in nomination. The call of the States was accordingly or-
dered, and in the name of Alabama, the first on the list, Daniel
Dougherty, the " silver-tongued orator v of Philadelphia, mounted
the rostrum to present the name of Grover Cleveland. " We are here,"
he said, " not indeed to choose a candidate, but to name the one the
people have already chosen. He is the man for the people. His career
illustrates the glory of our institutions. Eight years ago unknown
save in his own locality, he for the last four years has stood in the gaze
of the world, discharging the most exalted duties that can be confided
to a mortal. To-day determines that not of his own choice, but by
the mandate of his countrymen and with the sanction of heaven, he
shall fill the Presidency for four years more. He has met and mas-
tered every question as if from youth trained to statesmanship. The
promises of his letter of acceptance and inaugural address have been
fulfilled. His fidelity in the past inspires faith in the future. He is
not a hope. He is a realization. Scorning subterfuge, disdaining re-
election by concealing convictions, mindful of his oath of office to de-
fend the Constitution, he courageously declares to Congress, dropping
minor matters, that the supreme issue is reform, revision, reduction
of national taxation; that the Treasury of the United States, glutted
with unneeded gold, oppresses industry, embarrasses business, en-
dangers financial tranquillity, and breeds extravagance, centraliza-
tion, and corruption; that high taxation, vital for the expenditures of
an unparalleled war, is robbery in years of prosperous peace; that the
millions that pour into the Treasury come from the hard-earned sav-
ings of the American people; that in violation of equality of rights
the present tariff has created a privileged class, who, shaping legisla-
tion for their personal gain, levy by law contributions upon the neces-
saries of life from every man, woman, and child in the land; that to
lower the tariff is not free trade it is to reduce the unjust profits of
monopolists and boss manufacturers, and allow consumers to retain
the rest."

After the enthusiasm evoked by the naming of the candidate had
subsided, speeches seconding the nomination were made, and then the
question of nominating Mr. Cleveland by acclamation was put to the
Convention. Without a call of the States and without a dissenting
vote this was agreed to, and he was declared the Democratic candi-
date for President of the United States. Only one hour and a quarter
had been devoted to making the nomination. When the result was
attained the Convention adjourned until the following morning to
await the report of the Committee on Resolutions.

The adoption of the Platform was the business of the third day's
proceedings. While taking the same ground in favor of tariff reduc-


tioii that the President had taken in his message in 1887, the Platform
was not such a bold and open avowal of Democratic tendencies in
favor of Free Trade. Indeed, as originally reported, it contained no
direct allusion to the Mills Tariff bill, which had passed the House,
and was pending or rather suspending in the Senate. This oversight
was corrected by a resolution recommending the passage of that
measure, offered in the Convention by William L. Scott, of Pennsyl-
vania, which was adopted and made part of the Platform.

Three candidates were named for Vice-President Allen G. Thur-
man, of Ohio; John C. Black, of Illinois, and Isaac P. Gray, of Indiana.
Only one ballot was necessary, Mr. Thurman receiving 067 votes, to
104 " for Mr. Gray and 31 for General Black. Twenty -three States
voted solidly for Thurman, including New York, Ohio, and Pennsyl-
vania. In calling Mr. Thurman from his retirement to accept this
nomination some fear was expressed, even by Democrats, that he was
too old for the position in case of his election. Mr. Thurman, in fact,
was younger than Kaiser Wilhelm when he consolidated the German
Empire; younger than Gortschakoff when he dominated Russia;
younger than Thiers when he became the first President of the French
Republic, and as young as Disraeli when he made Queen Victoria
Empress of India.

The Republican National Convention of 1888, when it met at Chi-
cago on the 19th of June, did not have its work cut out for it. With
the exception of John Sherman and James G. Blaine, w r ho was not a
candidate with his own consent, the list of Presidential aspirants was
made up of new names. Some of the men who were to be put in
nomination had never before been voted for in a National Convention.
When the roll of the States was called on the third day of the Con-
vention for the nomination of Presidential candidates Connecticut
presented General Joseph R. Hawley; Illinois, Walter Q. Gresham;
Indiana, General Benjamin Harrison; Iow r a, William B. Allison;
Michigan, Russell A. Alger; New York, Chauncey M. Depew; Ohio,
John Sherman; Pennsylvania, Edwin H. Fitler, and Wisconsin, Jere-
miah M. Rusk. With such a list of candidates, some of them unknown
to the delegates outside of their own States, it is not surprising that
the work of the Convention was almost as prolonged as that of the
Convention of 1880.

The Convention opened with a brief address by Benjamin F. Jones,
the Chairman of the National Committee, after which John M. Thur-
ston, of Nebraska, was made temporary President. The usual com-
mittees being named, the Convention listened to speeches by John C.
Fremont and Frederick Douglass, and then adjourned until the next
morning. When the Convention met on Wednesday the organization


was perfected by the selection of Morris M. Estee, of California, as
permanent President. While waiting for the report of the Committee
on Credentials there were more speeches, W. O. Bradley, of Kentucky,
and J. B. Foraker, of Ohio, being the orators. A feature of the even-
ing session was the adoption of resolutions of respect to the memory
of Grant, Arthur, and Logan. The contests were those between the
Mahone and Wise delegates from Virginia. The Mahone delegates-at-
large were seated, but the seats for the Congress districts were ac-
eorded to the Wise claimants. The contest w r as the occasion of a
minority report and a long debate in the Convention.

The Platform was reported on Thursday morning. The acceptance
of the Tariff issue was unequivocal. The Mills bill was denounced
and the proposition to place wool on the free list condemned. " The
Republican party," said the Platform, " would effect all needed reduc-
tion of the national revenue by repealing the taxes upon tobacco,
which are an annoyance and burden to agriculture, and the tax upon
spirits used in the arts and for mechanical purposes, and by such re-
vision of the Tariff laws as will tend to check imports of such articles
as are produced by our people, the production of which gives employ-
ment to our labor, and releases from import duties those articles of
foreign production (except luxuries) the like of which can not be pro-
duced at home. If there shall still remain a larger revenue than is
requisite for the wants of the Government, we favor the entire repeal
of the internal taxes rather than the surrender of any part of our pro-
tective system at the joint behest of the whisky ring and the agents
of foreign manufacturers." The party leaders failed to foresee the
real issue of the currency question in the future, and the Platform not
only declared in favor of the use of both gold and silver as money, but
condemned " the policy of the Democratic administration in its efforts
to demonetize silver." The foreign policy of Cleveland's administra-
tion was condemned for its inefficiency and cowardice, and on the
Fisheries question with Canada the Administration was denounced for
" its pusillanimous surrender of the essential privileges to which our
fishing vessels are entitled in Canadian ports under the treaty of 1818,
the reciprocal maritime legislation of 1830, and the comity of nations,
and which Canadian fishing vessels receive in the ports of the United
States." The Platform closed with a denunciation of the hostile spirit
shown by the President in his numerous pension vetoes, and the ac-
tion of the Democratic House of Representatives in refusing a consid-
eration of general pension legislation.

General Hawley was put in nomination by Mr. Warner; Mr. Gres-
ham by Leonard Swett, one of the confidential friends of Abraham
Lincoln; General Harrison by ex-Governor Porter; Mr. Allison by Mr.


Hepburn, of Iowa; General Alger by Colonel Robert E. Frazer; Mr.
Depew by Frank Hiscock; Mayor Fitler, of Philadelphia, by Charles
Emory Smith, and General Husk by Senator Spooner. The balloting
was as follows:

June 22. June 23. June 25.


Harrison 80 91 94 217 213 231 278

Sherman 229 249 244 235 224 244 231

Alger 84 216 122 135 142 137 120

Gresham Ill 108 123 98 87 91 91

Allison 72 75 88 88 99 73 76

Depew 99 99 91

Rusk 25 20 16

Phelps 25 18 5

Ingalls 28 16

Hawley 13

Fitler.' 24

McKinley 2 3 8 11 14 12 16

Lincoln 3221 2

Miller 2

Douglass 1

Foraker 1 11

Grant 1

Haymond 1

Elaine. 35 33 35 42 48 40 15

Total vote. ... 830 830 830 829 827 830 831 830
Necessary for

choice! .... 416 416 416 415 414 416 416 416

It will be seen that on the first ballot 93 votes were cast for candi-
dates who had not been formally placed in nomination 35 for James
G. Elaine, 28 for John J. Ingalls, 25 for William Walter Phelps, 3 for
Robert T. Lincoln, and 2 for William McKinley. When Hawley and
Fitler were withdrawn, after the ballot, Sherman gained 20 votes.
Alger 32, Gresham 3, Harrison 16, McKinley 1; but Ingalls lost 12,
Phelps 7, and Elaine 2. The name of Senator Ingalls was then with-
drawn. On the third ballot the greatest gain was for Gresham, who
passed Alger by one vote, while Sherman lost five votes. Elaine recov-
ered his two lost votes, and McKinley gained 5. After the third ballot
the Convention took a recess until evening. The sensation of the
evening was the withdrawal of Chauncey M. Depew, w 7 ho had made


no gains on the second ballot and lost 8 votes on the third. It was
apparent that Mr. Depew could not be nominated, and he was cha-
grined that he had allowed his name to be used. As it was understood
that the support of the New York delegation would go to General
Harrison, the friends of the other candidates became solicitous, and
an adjournment was ordered until Saturday.

The event of Saturday Avas the speech of William McKinley, of
Ohio, protesting against being voted for as a candidate. " I am here,"
he said, " as one of the chosen representatives of my State. I am here
by a resolution of the Republican party, without one dissenting voice,
commanding me to cast my vote for John Sherman, and use every
worthy endeavor for his nomination. I accepted the trust, because
my heart and judgment were in accord with the letter and spirit and
purpose of that resolution. It has pleased certain delegates to cast
their votes for me. I am not insensible to the honor they would do
me, but in the presence of the duty resting upon me I can not remain
silent with honor. I can not consistently with the credit of the State
whose credentials I bear and which has trusted me, I can not w T ith
honorable fidelity to John Sherman, who trusted me in his cause with
his confidence, I can not consistently with my own views of personal
integrity, consent or seem to consent to permit my name to be used
as a candidate before this Convention. I would not respect myself if
I could find it in my heart to do, to say, or permit to be done, that
which could even be ground for any one to suspect that I wavered in
my loyalty to Ohio, or my devotion to the chief of her choice and the
chief of mine. I do request, I demand, that no delegates who w r ould
not cast reflection upon me shall cast a ballot for me."

The fourth ballot left Sherman still in the lead, but with Harrison
a close second. Alger gained 13 votes and Gresham lost 25. On
this ballot the Pennsylvania vote remained firm for Sherman with the
hope of beating Harrison. On the next ballot, the fifth, Harrison
lost 4 votes and Sherman 11, but Alger and Allison showed gains, and
McKinley's vote, in spite of his protest, was 14 and Elaine's 48. In
view of the change in the relative standing of the candidates, and the
desire among the delegates for consultation, the Convention, after
the fifth ballot, took a recess until 4 o'clock, and then determined to
adjourn until Monday. When the Convention again assembled after
the Sunday rest Mr. Boutelle, of Maine, obtained consent to make a
privileged announcement, and, mounting the platform, said:

" I am under a restraint which I do not feel at liberty to ignore,
and without attempting to give constructions or interpretations of
my own to the language of one greater than myself by far, I discharge
my humble duty, as the representative of the Maine delegation, by


reading to you, without preface or comment, the following dispatches
which I have received :

" * EDINBURGH, June 25.
" ' To Boutelle and Manley, at Chicago :

" ' Earnestly request all friends to respect my Paris letter.

" < (Signed) JAMES G. ELAINE.'

" The second says:

" * EDINBURGH, June 25.

" ' I think I have the right to ask my friends to respect my wishes
and refrain from voting for me. Please make this and former dis-
patches public. (Signed) JAMES G. ELAINE.' "

Notwithstanding this announcement Elaine received 40 votes on
the sixth ballot, which followed. Harrison's figures were reversed
from 213 to 231, but Sherman's vote, which had fallen to 224, was
increased to 244. On this ballot Frederick D. Grant received one vote.
The trend was now setting so strongly in Harrison's favor that it was
expected the seventh ballot would secure his nomination, and vir-
tually such was the result. He received 278 votes, which gave him a
lead that rendered him invincible. Allison was withdrawn, his with-
drawal leaving Sherman utterly without hope. When the vote of
Tennessee was cast on the last ballot Harrison was already nominated,
and the rest of the voting was a landslide for the nominee. The result
was received with great applause. Hats were thrown up by the men,
and the ladies in the galleries waved their handkerchiefs and parasols.
One of the officers of the Convention climbed to the Chairman's desk
and unfurled a banner containing a portrait of Harrison. If the dele-
gates had met at Chicago a week before determined to make Harrison
the candidate the enthusiasm could not have been greater.

The nominations for the Vice-Presidency were Levi P. Morton, of
New York; William Walter Phelps, of New Jersey, and William O.
Bradley, of Kentucky. There was only one ballot, the vote being:
Morton, 561; Phelps, 119; Bradley, 93; Blanche K. Bruce, of Missis-
sippi, 11, and Walter F. Thomas, of Texas, 1.

General Harrison possessed many attributes and qualities that ren-
dered him a popular candidate with Republicans in every part of the
country. As the grandson of William Henry Harrison, who died only
one month after his inauguration as the first Whig President of the
United States, a romantic political interest attached to his candida-
ture. As a soldier in the War for the Union, he had risen from the
rank of a second-lieutenant in the Seventieth Regiment, Indiana Vol-
unteers, to Brigadier-General. Both at the head of his regiment and
as the commander of a brigade he distinguished himself by his sol-
dierly qualities. He led the assault at Resaca in May, 1864, and at



Peacktree Creek he elicited the admiration of his commanding officer,
General Hooker. At the Indianapolis bar after the war he took high
rank. In 1870 he was the Republican candidate for Governor of In-
diana, but the contest that year was known to be a hopeless one, and
he accepted the nomination only as a public duty. He was elected to
the United States Senate in 1881, and gained great distinction during
his term in that body. His nomination for the Presidency was in
every way worthy of the party and its traditions, and of all the can-
didates before the Chicago Convention in 1888 he was best suited to
win back the government from Grover Cleveland and the Democracy.

Mr. Morton was a merchant and banker who had risen from poverty
in Vermont to affluence in New York. He had not entered politics
until 1876, when he was a candidate
for Congress in New York City, but
was defeated. In 1878 he was again
a candidate, and was elected. Mr.
Morton was offered the post of Secre-
tary of the Navy in the Cabinet of
President Garfield, but he declined,
and was appointed Minister to
France. As a man of large business
experience, distinguished public serv-
ice, and unblemished reputation, he
added strength to the ticket, and
helped the party to enter upon a win-
ning campaign.

" The campaign," according to
one of Mr. Cleveland's biographers,
" was a bitter and unrelenting one
on the part of the Republicans.

They had known for four years what it was to be in the minority.
They had also felt what it was to have a President of the United
States who represented the reverse of everything that they them-
selves had emphasized during the latter stages of the history of their
party. So they attempted to make use of the tariff-reform message
of the previous year to raise the usual scare about the reduction of
wages of workingmen. In this thev had little success, but as the

~ ~ V

canvass progressed, it became apparent that there was not enough
time to reach the farming population of the country, and to instruct
them fully in the meaning of tariff reform. The desperation of Re-
publican partisans and the interests of certain classes of manufactur-
ers enabled the managers to raise large sums of money, which were
used corruptly, and with much effect, in several of the close States.



Online LibraryGeorge Oberkirsh SeilhamerHistory of the Republican party (Volume 1) → online text (page 50 of 61)