George Oberkirsh Seilhamer.

History of the Republican party (Volume 1) online

. (page 53 of 61)
Online LibraryGeorge Oberkirsh SeilhamerHistory of the Republican party (Volume 1) → online text (page 53 of 61)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


ural competition. Every Democratic rule of governmental action is
violated when, through unnecessary taxation, a vast sum of money,
far beyond the needs of an economical administration, is drawn from
the people and the channels of trade, and accumulated as a demoraliz-
ing surplus in the national treasury.

The money now lying in the Federal treasury, resulting from super-
fluous taxation, amounts to more than $125,000,000, and the surplus
collected is reaching the sum of more than $00,000,000 annually.



486 HISTORY OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.

Debauched by this immense temptation, the remedy of the Republican
party is to meet and exhaust by extravagant appropriations and ex-
penses, whether constitutional or not, the accumulation of extrava-
gant taxation. The Democratic policy is to enforce frugality in pub-
lic expense and abolish unnecessary taxation. Our established do-
mestic industries and enterprises should not and need not be endan-
gered by a reduction and correction of the burdens of taxation. Oil
the contrary, a fair and careful revision of our tax laws, with due
allowance for the difference between the wages of American and
foreign labor, must promote and encourage every branch of such
industries and enterprises by giving them assurances of an extended
market and steady and continuous operation. In the interests of
American labor, which should in no event be neglected, revision of
our tax laws, contemplated by the Democratic party, should promote
the advantage of such labor by cheapening the cost of necessaries
of life in the home of every workingman, and at the same time secur-
ing to him steady and remunerative employment.

Upon this question of tariff reform, so closely concerning every
phase of our national life, and upon every question involved in the
problem of good government, the Democratic party submits its prin-
ciples and professions to the intelligent suffrages of the American
people.



THE PERIOD OF DISCONTENT.
I.

PRESIDENT HARRISON'S ADMINISTRATION.

The Fifty-first Congress Thomas B. Reed Coinage Act of 1890
Bland Silver Coinage Act of 1878 The Purchase of Silver Mc-
Kinley Tariff Act of 1890 William McKinley Features of the
McKinley Tariff Reciprocity International Conference of 1889
Reaction The Fifty-second Congress Bland Free Coinage
Bill A Do-nothing Congress.




ITH the election of President Harrison a Republican Con-
gress was chosen that gave the new administration the
support that is necessary to a successful policy. In the
Senate upon the organization of the 51st Congress
there were 39 Republicans to 37 Democrats, but this meager majority
was afterward increased by the admission of the new States of
Montana, North and South Dakota, and Washington. Montana was
not represented in the Senate in the 51st Congress. The first
Senators from the new States w r ere Gilbert A. Pierce and Lyman R.
Case}', of North Dakota; Gideon C. Moody and Richard F. Pettigrew,
of South Dakota, and Watson C. Squire and John B. Allen, of Wash-
ington, all Republicans. The Republicans who entered the Senate
for the first time were Edward O. Wolcott, of Colorado; Anthony Hig-
gins, of Delaware; and William D. Washburn, of Minnesota. John
W. Daniel and John S. Barbour, of Virginia, Democrats, succeeded
William Mahone and H. H. Riddleberger. The new Republican mem-
bers of the House were: John J. De Haven and William Vandever, of
California; Hosea Townsend, of Colorado; William E. Symonds,
Charles A. Russell, and Frederick Miles, of Connecticut; Abner Taylor,
W r illiam E. Mason, Charles A. Hill, P. S. Post, William H. Gest, and
George W. Smith, of Illinois; Joseph B. Cheadle, of Indiana; John H.
Gear, J. H. Sweeney, Daniel Kerr, John F. Lacey, and James P. Dolliv-
er, of Iowa; E. J. Turner, of Kansas; J. H. Wilson and H. F. Finley, of
Kentucky; H. D. Coleman, of Louisiana; H. Stockbridge, Jr., of Mary-
land; Charles S. Randall, Elijah F. Morse, Henry C. Lodge, William
Cogswell, Francis T. Greenhalge, John W. Candler, J. H. Walker, and
Rodney Wallace, of Massachusetts; Edward P. Allen, C. E. Belknap,
Mark S. Brewer, T. D. Bliss, F. W. Wheeler, and S. M. Stephenson, of
Michigan; M. H. Dunnell, John Lind, Darwin S. Hall, S. P. Snyder,



488 HISTORY OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.

and Solomon G. Comstock, of Minnesota; F. G. Neidringhaus, Nathan
Frank, and William M. Kinsey, of Missouri; Thomas H. Carter, of
Montana; W. J. Cornell and Gilbert F. Laws, of Nebraska; H. F. Bar-
tine, of Nevada; Alonzo Nute and Orren C. Moore, of New Hamp-
shire; Chris A. Bergen, of New Jersey; William C. Wallace, M. D. Sti-
vers,CharlesJ. Knapp, J. A.Quackeubush, John Sanford, John H. Mof-
fitt, Frederick Lansing, James S. Sherman, David Wilber, James J.
Belden, Milton Delano, Thomas S. Flood, John Raines, and William
G. Laidlaw, of New York; H. P. Cheatham, and H. G. Ewart, of North
Carolina; H. C. Hansbrough, of North Dakota; J. A. Caldwell, E. S.
Williams, M.M.Boothman, Henry L. Morey, Robert P. Kennedy, Jacob
J. Pugsley, C. P. Wickham, Joseph D. Taylor, Martin L. Smyser, and
Thomas E. Burton, of Ohio; Smedley Darlington, R. A. Yardley, Mar-
riott Brosius, J. W. Rife, M. B. Wright,
Henry C. McCormick, Edward Scull, Samuel
A. Craig, John Dalzell, J. Warren Ray, C. C.
Townsend, W. C. Culberson, and Lewis F.
Watson, of Pennsylvania; Warren O. Arnold,
of Rhode Island; Oscar F. Gifford and John

A. Pickler, of South Dakota; Alfred A. Tay-
lor and Henry C. Evans, of Tennessee; T. H.

B. Browne and George E. Bowden, of Vir-
ginia; John L. Wilson, of Washington; and
Charles B. Clark, Nils P. Haugen, and Myron
H. McCord, of Wisconsin. The venerable

THOMAS B. REED. General N. P. Banks was once more a mem-

ber of the House from Massachusetts.

Among the Democrats, who were or became prominent, were William
McAdoo, of New Jersey; Amos J. Cummings and Roswell P. Flower,
of New York; William Mutchler and James Kerr, of Pennsylvania,
and W. H. F. Lee, of Virginia.

Thomas B. Reed, of Maine, was chosen Speaker of the House, a
post he has since held, except in the 52d and 53d Congresses,
w r hen the Democrats were in a majority. Mr. Reed had proved
himself the strongest member of one of the strongest delegations in
Congress. W T ell-informed, able, brilliant, eloquent, witty, with a vein
of sardonic aggressiveness in his wit that was always sarcastic, and
sometimes bitter, Speaker Reed brought to the chair qualities that
made him a fit successor of Banks, of Grow, of Colfax, and of Blaiue.
But he had other qualities that w T ere especially needed in the emer-
gency in which he was called to the Speakership. Among these his
quickness of perception, his readiness of resource, and his indomit-
able courage are the most conspicuous. In the 51st Congress




PRESIDENT HARRISON'S ADMINISTRATION. 489

they were especially necessary. The Republican majority in the
House was only eight 169 Republicans to 161 Democrats. To hold
such a slender majority in hand, and with it to achieve practical re-
sults in legislation required great ability and skill, as well as the un-
bending will of a master of men. But more difficult of management
than the slender majority was the powerful minority. Unable to con-
trol legislation the Democrats determined to prevent it. Their plan
was to break the quorum by refusing to vote. This device was met
by another as effective as it was simple. Instead of acknowledging
the recalcitrant Democrats as absentees the Speaker counted them
as present, and thus enabled the House to pass the party measures
which, under a less resolute presiding officer, would have been beaten.
This was called " counting a quorum." It was a plan that gave great
offense to the Democrats, who denounced it with extraordinary bit-
terness, and nicknamed the Speaker " Czar " Reed.

The principal legislation of the 51st Congress was the Coin-
age Act of 1890 and the so-called McKinley Tariff. The free coinage
of silver had been forcing itself upon the attention of Congress with
more or less aggressiveness ever since 1877. Previous to 1873 it had
existed legally, although in practical operation the coinage of the sil-
ver dollar was almost nominal. From the establishment of the mint
in 1792 to 1806 the aggregate number of silver dollars coined was
1,439,417, and from 1806 to 1835 there was no coinage whatever of
this piece. In 1836 the number of dollar pieces coined was only 1,000.
The two years following coinage of dollars was suspended, but was re-
sumed in 1839, when 300 were issued, and the coinage was continued
until 1873, when the standard silver dollar was supplanted by the
trade dollar. The largest, annual coinage of standard silver dollars
was made in the years 1871 and 1872, when it was 1,117,136 and 1,-
118,600 respectively, which is equal to nearly two-fifths of the aggre-
gate of standard silver dollars coined from 1792 to 1873, which aggre-
gate was 7,830,538. The number coined in January and February,
1873, was 296,000, which are included in the above aggregate. The
" Demonetization Act " was passed February 12, 1873. At this time
and for twelve years before and six years afterward, no gold or silver
coins were in actual circulation in the United States. At first no at-
tention was paid to the demonetization of the silver dollar, but after
the passage of the Resumption Act in 1875, an agitation for its res-
toration to the coinage began, which had a partial success in the
Coinage Act of 1878.

In 1877 what was known as the " Bland bill " passed the House of
Representatives. It was prepared and championed by Mr. Bland, of
Missouri. This bill provided for the coinage of " silver dollars of the



490 HISTORY OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.

weight of 412! grains Troy, of standard silver, as provided in the Act
of January 18, 1873. . . . Which coins, together with all silver
dollars heretofore coined by the United States of equal weight and
fineness, shall be a legal tender, at their nominal value, for all debts
and dues, public and private, except where otherwise provided by
contract. And, any owner of silver bullion may deposit the same at
any United States coinage mint or assay office, to be coined into such
dollars for his benefit, upon the same terms and conditions as gold bul-
lion is deposited for coinage under existing laws." It gave free coin-
age (that is, the same coinage as was given to gold) to any owner of
silver bullion who presented it at the mint unlimited coinage of silver
dollars for all silver bullion presented to be coined. It made coinage
compulsory, at the ratio existing between silver and gold. It was
practical monometallism, with silver as the standard, and gold at a
premium, for the cheaper metal, when coined, invariably takes the
volume of circulation and expels the dearer. The entire character of
this bill was changed in the Senate, and as finally passed by both
Houses became known as the Bland-Allison Act. As passed, it in-
volved the principle of bimetallism, for it limited the coinage of the
cheaper metal, silver, and undertook to maintain it at par with gold
by providing for its redemption.

The Act of February 28, 1878, restored the silver dollar of 412i grains
to the coinage with full legal tender power, but did not restore silver
bullion to the minting privilege which attached to it prior to 1873,
and which was in every respect equal to that bestowed upon gold. This
Act re-established the " dollar of the fathers," made it legal tender
for all debts, " except when otherwise expressly stipulated in the con-
tract," and directed the Secretary of the Treasury to purchase silver
bullion monthly " at the market price thereof, not less than two mill-
ion dollars' worth per month, nor more than four million dollars'
worth per month, and cause the same to be coined monthly, as fast as
so purchased, into such dollars." The third section provided that
holders of silver dollars " may deposit the same with the Treasurer or
any Assistant Treasurer of the United States, in sums not less than
ten dollars, and receive therefor certificates of not less than ten dol-
lars each." It also provided " that immediately after the passage of
this Act the President shall invite the governments of the countries
composing the Latin Union, so called, and of such other European
nations as he may deem advisable, to join the United States in a
conference to adopt a common ratio between gold and silver, for the
purpose of establishing internationally the use of bimetallic money
and securing fixity of relative value between those metals."

This bill represented the thought that pervaded the silver agitation



PRESIDENT HARRISON'S ADMINISTRATION. 491

of later years. Those who favored the " Greenback " inflation scheme
were its ardent supporters. Kepresentatives from the silver-produc-
ing States were strongly in its favor, in the belief that it would en-
hance the value of their product. While it made the coinage of silver
dollars compulsory to the extent of $2,000,000 a month, it placed a
limit at $4,000,000. It was thought that this much circulation in
silver dollars could be kept at par with gold, but it was soon found
that the silver dollars would not circulate. Out of the 12,136 tons
of silver purchased by the Government at a cost of 1308,199,262, and
out of the 378,166,793 silver dollars coined therefrom under the Act, at
an expense of $5,000,000, not more than one out of every eight found
its way into circulation. The Government might as well have saved
itself the $5,000,000 expense of coinage, and bought and stored the
silver in bullion shape. The bullion was always w r orth more than
the coined dollars, and could have been more safely and cheaply
cared for in the Treasury vaults than its equivalent in coins. There
was no increase in the price of silver bullion, for it declined from
$1.12 an ounce in 1879, to 93^ cents an ounce in 1889, or, in other
words, it declined to a point where it stood to gold as 22 to 1 per ounce
value, and the value of the silver in a silver dollar was only 72 cents.
The silver certificate feature of the Act proved of little practical
value, and in the main the Act negatived its own provisions, and bred
causes for its repeal, which led to the passage of the Coinage Act of
July 14, 1890.

The bill which became the basis of this Act was prepared on a
plan that embraced the views of Secretary of the Treasury Windom.
It was submitted to the House and passed. Its provisions were that
any owner of silver bullion, not foreign, could bring it to any mint and
obtain for it legal tender treasury notes equal in value to the then
market value of the silver, which notes were redeemable either in
gold or silver bullion, at its then market value, at the option of the
Government, or in silver dollars at the holder's option. This bill
was amended in the Senate by inserting a clause providing for free
and unlimited coinage. It then went to a conference committee,
where it took the form in which it was passed finally and became a
law. As passed it directed the Secretary of the Treasury to pur-
chase 4,500,000 ounces of silver bullion each month at the market price
thereof, not exceeding $1 for every 371^ grains of pure silver, and to
issue in payment for such purchase Treasury Notes of the United
States. These Treasury Notes were made redeemable in coin, gold,
or silver, at the discretion of the Secretary of the Treasury, and had
full legal tender value. Following this clause was one which read:
" It being the established policy of the United States to maintain the



492 HISTORY OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.

two metals on a parity with each other upon the present legal ratio,
or such ratio as may be provided by law." The Act also provided
for the actual coinage of 12,000,000 silver dollars a month up until
July 1, 1891. After that date no silver dollars were coined, but the
bullion purchased was held in the form of tine silver bars. Under the
Act $28,298,455 was coined, and up to April 1, 1891, $89,602,198 in
Treasury Notes, to pay for bullion deposited, had been issued, $77,605,-
000 of which were in circulation. At the same date the value of
silver bars held by the Treasury was $65,720,000. On November 1,
1891, the total of silver dollars coined and in existence in the United
States, under all the Acts, was $409,475,368, of which $347,339,907
was in the Treasury, and only $62,135,461 outside of the Treasury,
or in circulation. Against this $323,668,401 silver certificates had
been issued, $321,142,642 of which were outside of the Treasury, and
$2,525,759 inside. At the same date the stock of silver bullion in the
Treasury was $33,094,234.

The 54,000,000 ounces of silver which the Government was required
to buy yearly, and to issue Treasury Notes therefor, was the exact
output of the silver mines in the United States in 1890. A prime ob-
ject of the law was, therefore, to furnish a sure market for the product
of our mines, at the prevailing price of silver bullion when presented
at the Treasury. The Act was a compromise act, and both mine
owners and advocates of " free and unlimited coinage " accepted the
compromise, as the best that could be done to secure a certain home
market for their product, and at the same time increase the circulat-
ing medium of the country by just the number of Treasury Notes re-
quired to purchase 54,000,000 ounces of silver. It was a general be-
lief, at the time of the passage of the Act, that its effect w r ould be to
increase the market price of silver. Indeed this was confidently
prophesied by mine ow r ners and free silver coinage advocates. In an-
ticipation of such rise, silver speculators entered the market and
drove silver bullion up to $1.05 an ounce in April, 1890; to $1.08 in
May; to $1.15 in August, and to $1.21 in September. But now the
natural law of supply and demand began to operate against them.
They had to contend with the world's market, and the world's prices,
and no longer with a home market and home prices. The inevitable
consequence was that the price of silver broke. The country that
could sustain a certain amount of silver coin, as a circulating medium,
at par with gold, could not sustain the market value of silver bullion
at a point above where the laws of supply and demand, as established
by the world at large, chose to fix it. In October, 1890, silver fell to
$1.09 per ounce, and in December to $1.06. The decline was gradual
for a long time. In December, 1891, silver was worth 94| cents an



PRESIDENT HARRISON'S ADMINISTRATION. 493

ounce, and the fine silver in a dollar was worth only 73 cents. On
May 23, 1892, silver sold for 881 cents per ounce. Therefore, even
with so excellent a customer as the Government, and one ready to
take the entire output of the silver mines of this country, the mar-
ket price of the product declined.

The Tariff bill of 1890 was a measure of far greater importance and
fraught with more far-reaching consequences than the Coinage Act.
It was framed by the Committee on Ways and Means, and took the
name of the McKinley bill, from the Chairman of the committee,
William McKinley. Mr. McKinley had served thirteen years on the
committee before he attained to its leadership. What may be called
his maiden speech on the doctrine of Protection was made in 1878,
when the Wood bill was under discussion. This speech ranked as one
of the ablest delivered at the time, and stamped him as a leader in
the economic thought that was to dominate future tariff legislation.
His part in the passage of the Tariff of 1883 was so conspicuous that
Judge Kelley said of him that he had " distanced all of his colleagues
in mastering the details of the tariff." More than any one else Mr.
McKinley at this time made the protective idea a paramount doc-
trine of the Republican party, carrying it into the workshops and
homes of American workiugmen. In 1888, when Mr. Mills sprung
his remarkable attack upon American industries upon the House,
without consultation with the minority of the Committee on Ways
and Means, Mr. McKinley took the lead in resenting the insult, and
in making a report remarkable for its exhaustive presentation of
facts, minuteness of detail, and invincibility of argument. The re-
port was followed by a speech that showed that he was without an
equal in the House in fearless, logical, and convincing championship
of a Tariff for Protection. The election of President Harrison and a
Republican House of Representatives gave him the first claim to the
Chairmanship of Ways and Means in the 51st Congress, where,
by virtue of his position, it became his duty to incorporate the policy
of the party into the form of a statute. He entered upon the work
fully equipped by experience, and with all the enthusiasm of his
ardent nature. Determined to avoid the errors into which the Demo-
crats had previously fallen, he invited all the interests concerned in
tariff revision to a hearing, and a bill was framed which was to con-
stitute the Tariff Act of 1890, and be popularly known as the " Mc-
Kinley bill." The effort was to embody in the bill the experience of
all former tariff legislation and what w r as best of all former acts; to
impose rates of a distinctively protective character, and in the inter-
ests of American labor, on manufactures w r hich could exist here.
but whose existence was threatened by foreign competition; to im-



494 HISTORY OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.

pose similar rates on goods, such as tin plates, which we do not but
could manufacture and ought to; largely to reduce the duty on neces-
saries, or exempt them altogether, as by making sugar free; to in-
crease the free list by placing all raw materials on it whose importa-
tion did not compete with the home growth of the same; to introduce
the policy of reciprocity, by which we could gain something by en-
larged trade in return for the loss of duties on sugars and such ar-
ticles.

A great deal of thought was given to the bill, and it was fully
debated in Congress. Perhaps no Tariff Act was ever passed in
w T hose preparation so many interests had been so fully consulted, and
with whose provisions the varied interests were so fully satisfied.
Certainly none ever passed that had to undergo more minute criti-
cism, whose merits were more elaborately discussed, and respecting
which so many prophecies, good and bad, were indulged. Its passage
occupied the entire time of the first session of the 51st Congress,
and it was not until October 1, 1890, that it became a law. The
McKinley Act increased duties on about 115 articles, embracing farm
products, manufactures not sufficiently protected, manufactures to be
established, and luxuries, such as wines. It decreased duties on
about 190 articles, embracing manufactures to be established, or
which could not suffer from foreign competition. It left the duties
unchanged on 249 articles. It enlarged the free list till it embraced
55.75 per cent, of all imports, or 22.48 more than previous tariffs.
The placing of sugar on the free list was a loss of revenue equal to
154,000,000 a year. Yet in its practical workings the act never failed
to raise the revenue expected of it, which was ample for all the needs
of the Government, with a fair margin to spare.

With the McKinley Act were incorporated reciprocity features
that had never before been made a part of an American tariff. While
the United States were going through their early experiments with
Free Trade and Protection there was scarcely a thought of reciproc-
ity or reciprocal trade, as we have come to understand it. It was not
until 1824 that its advantages began to be discussed. President
Adams desired that our government should be represented in the
" General Assembly of American Republics," called to meet at Pan-
ama, June 22, 1826, and appointed two commissioners subject to the
" advice and consent of the Senate." In the Senate the Committee
on Foreign Relations reported against the proposed mission, and an
acrimonious debate ensued, the Slave Power being hostile to the en-
couragement of commercial intercourse with the South American
Republics, whose example w r as regarded as " scarcely less fatal than
the independence of Hayti to the repose of the slave States of the



PRESIDENT HARRISON'S ADMINISTRATION. 495

Union." Finally the Senate grudgingly approved the President's
selections, and the House, after a long delay, voted the necessary
funds; but the delay was fatal, as it was intended to be, and the
congress had adjourned before the commissioners could reach Pan-
ama.

After President Adams's futile attempt to promote reciprocal trade
the idea of reciprocity lay dormant until it was revived by President



Online LibraryGeorge Oberkirsh SeilhamerHistory of the Republican party (Volume 1) → online text (page 53 of 61)