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then Pennsylvania, throwing off the Blaine mask, gave him 42 votes
to only 3 for Blaine. But the nineteen Pennsylvania delegates who
remained true to Harrison stopped the tide, and prevented a stam-
pede. The nomination of Harrison was made when the vote of Texas
was cast. The whole number of votes in the Convention was 906, the
number cast, 904 1-3; necessary to a choice, 453.

There was scarcely any talk of a candidate for Yice-President
until the nomination for President was made. After that result
the Convention took a recess until evening. By tacit consent the
naming of the candidate was left to the New York delegation, which
agreed upon Whitelaw Reid, the editor of the Tribune. The name of
Thomas B. Reed was also presented, but it was withdrawn at the re-
quest of the Maine delegation, and Mr. Reid was nominated by unani-
mous vote.

When the Democratic National Convention met at Chicago on
June 21, the nomination of Grover Cleveland was a foregone conclu-
sion. There was a number of other candidates. David Bennett Hill,
of New York; Horace Boies, of Iowa; Arthur P. Gorman, of Mary-
land, and John G. Carlisle, of Kentucky, all had their followers. Tam-
many Hall was again opposed to Cleveland, and it was certain that
the vote of New York would be given to Hill. Outside of New York
he had little strength. Iowa was for Boies, and he had advocates in


the Ohio and other delegations. Neither Gorman nor Carlisle had
anything more than a nominal support, even from their own States.
It was a Cleveland Convention, and while the Tammany contingent
continued the cry until the last,

" Hill, Hill, give us Hill,"

the Pennsylvanians were nearer the sentiment that swayed the ma-
jority of the delegates when they sang,

" Grover, Grover, four years more of Grover;
Out they go.
In w r e go,
And then we'll be l in clover.' "

William C. Owens, of Kentucky, was made temporary, and William
L. Wilson, of West Virginia, permanent President of the Convention.
u The distinguished leader who presided over the Republican Con-
vention," Mr. Wilson said, u boasted that he does not know what tariff
reform is. Whoever said that he did? Let us hope, with that
charity that eudureth all things and believeth all things, that he is
fully as ignorant as he vaunts himself to be. Unfortunately, the peo-
ple are not so ignorant of the meaning of protection which is doled
out to them in the bill that bears his name. They see that meaning-
written large to-day in a prostrated agriculture, in a shackled com-
merce, in stricken industries, in the compulsory idleness of labor,
in law made wealth, in the discontent of the workingmen, and the
despair of the farmer." These words were the keynote to the action
of the Convention, to the Platform, and to the campaign. The Plat-
form was unusually bitter in denunciation of the Republicans and Re-
publican measures. It virulently denounced protection as a fraud
and unconstitutional, the McKinley act as the " culminating atrocity
of class legislation," and reciprocity as a fraud; declared opposition
to trusts, to the giving away of public lands to railroads, to the Coin-
age Act of 1890, to State banks, to Republican foreign policy, to
pauper immigration, and to Harrison's administration; and in favor
of Mississippi improvements, the Nicaragua canal, popular education,
the admission of new States, the protection of railway employees, and
the abolition of the " sweating system."

Mr. Cleveland was put in nomination by Governor Leon Abbett, of
New Jersey. His speech vaunted the achievements of the party as
the result of the Cleveland policy. " In every State in this Union,"
he said, " that policy has been placed in Democratic platforms, and
our battles have been fought upon it, and this great body of represen-


tative Democrats has seen its good results. Every man in this Con-
vention recognizes the policy of the party. In Massachusetts, it gave
us a Russell; in Iowa, it gave us a Boies; in Wisconsin, it gave us a
Beck for Governor, and a Yilas for Senator; in Michigan, it gave us
Winans for Governor., and gave us a Democratic Legislature, and
will give us eight electoral votes for President. In 1889, in Ohio,
it gave us James E. Campbell for Governor, and in 1891, to defeat
him, it required the power, the wealth, and the machinery' of the en-
tire Republican party. In Pennsylvania, it gave us Kobert E. Patti-
son; in Connecticut, it gave us a Democratic Governor, who was kept
out of office by the infamous conduct of the Republican party; in New
Hampshire, it gave us a Legislature, of which we were defrauded; in
Illinois, it gave us Palmer for Senator, and in Nebraska, it gave us
Boyd for Governor. In the great Southern States, it has continued in
power Democratic Governors and Democratic Legislatures; in New
Jersey, the power of the Democracy has been strengthened, and the
Legislature and the Executive are both Democratic; in the great
State of New York, it gave us Hill for Senator and Roswell P. Flow r er
for Governor. With all these glorious achievements it is the wisest
and best party policy to nominate again the man whose policy made
these successes possible. The people believe that these victories
which gave us a Democratic House of Representatives in 1890, and
Democratic Governors and Senators in Republican and doubtful
States, are due to the courage and wisdom of Grover Cleveland. And,
so believing, they recognize him as their great leader."

Only two other candidates were formally presented: Mr. Boies by
Mr. Buncombe, and Mr. Hill by William C. Dewitt, of Brooklyn. It
was three o'clock in the morning of the 23d when the balloting began.
Cleveland was nominated on the first ballot, receiving 617 1-3 votes
to 115 for Hill, 103 for Boies, 36 for Gorman, 16 2-3 for Stevenson, 14
for Carlisle, 2 for Morrison, 2 for Campbell, and 1 each for Pattison,
Russell, and Whitney. For Vice-President Adlai E. Stevenson, of
Illinois, received 402 votes; Isaac P. Gray, of Indiana, 343; Allen B.
Morse, of Michigan, 86; John L. Mitchell, of Wisconsin, 45; Henry
Watterson, of Kentucky, 26; Burke Cockran, of New York, 5; and
Lambert Tree and Horace Boies, one each. After the ballot Mr.
Stevenson w r as nominated by acclamation.

The form of discontent that was represented by the " Greenback-
ers " in 1880 and 1884, and the United Labor and Union Labor parties
in 1888, now became known as the Populist party. It formulated its
doctrines at a meeting at Ocala, Fla., and was sufficiently advanced to
take its place in the campaign. This it did in the nomination of Gen-
eral James B. Weaver, of Iowa, for President. The party was re-


fruited from both the leading parties, and gave as reasons for its ex-
istence those found in the preamble to its platform: that corruption
dominates the ballot-box, the legislature, the Congress, and touches
even the ermine of the bench. The people are demoralized, news-
papers largely subsidized or muzzled, public opinion silenced, business
prostrated, homes mortgaged, labor impoverished, lands concentrated
in the hands of capitalists, workmen denied the right of organization,
imported pauperized labor beating down wages, the fruits of toil
stolen to build up colossal fortunes, the national power to create
money appropriated to enrich bondholders, a vast public debt funded
into gold-bearing bonds, silver demonetized, and the currency
abridged to fatten usurers, bankrupt enterprises, and enslave in-

The campaign turned on the questions that were given prominence
in the platforms: the untried McKinley Tariff, the new policy of
Reciprocity, still a theory rather than a condition, the need of a
change. Every Republican measure was assailed with unexampled
bitterness. Every Republican act was misrepresented. It w r as the
passions, not the judgment of the people, to which the Democrats
made their appeals. u The mission of the Democratic party/' said
one of the orators at Chicago, " is to fight for the under dog. When
that party is out of power, we may be sure there is an under dog to
light for, and the under dog is the American people. When that
party is out of power, we may be sure that some party is in control of
our government that represents a section, and not the whole country;
that stands for a class, and not the whole people. Never was this
truth brought home to us more defiantly than by the recent conven-
tion at Minneapolis. W 7 e are not deceived as to the temper of the
Republican party. We are not in doubt as to its purposes. Having
taxed us for years without cause or mercy, it now proposes to disarm
us of all power of resistance. Republican success in this campaign,
whether we look to the party platform, the candidates, or the utter-
ances of the party leaders, means that the people are to be stripped
of their franchise through force bills, in order that they may be
stripped of their substance through tariff bills. . . . When you
confer upon the Government the power of dealing out wealth, you un-
chain every evil that can prey upon and eventually destroy free in-
stitutions, excessive taxation, class taxation, billion-dollar Con-
gresses, a corrupt civil-service, a debauched ballot-box, and pur-
chased elections. In every campaign the privilege of taxing the
people will be bartered for contributions to corrupt them at the polls.
After every victory a new McKinley bill to repay those contributions
with usury, out of taxes taken from the people." A special appeal


was made to the American workingman. Protection was denounced
as u a fraud"; Reciprocity was "a sham"; the Sherman Silver
Act was " a cowardly makeshift." The people listened to the claim
and yielded to it. The result was a Democratic victory that was a
surprise to both parties a victory that was a disaster from the mo-
ment of its achievement.

Cleveland and Stevenson carried the full Electoral vote of twenty -
three States, counting California, one vote from which went to Har-
rison. Harrison and Reid carried fifteen States, counting Ohio, one
vote from which went to Cleveland, and Oregon, one vote from which
was cast for Weaver, the Populist candidate. Weaver carried four
States. Michigan gave five Electoral votes to Cleveland and nine to
Harrison, and North Dakota one each to Cleveland, Harrison, and
Weaver. Cleveland had the Solid South; he also had the Republican
States of California, Illinois, Indiana, New York, and Wisconsin.
Weaver had Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, and Nevada. In the States of
Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, North Dakota, and Wyoming the Democrats
ran no Electoral tickets, but voted with the Populists for the purpose
of taking these States from the Republicans. The votes in the di-
vided States were due to these causes; in California and Ohio, be-
cause the vote for the Cleveland and Harrison electors was close; in
Michigan, because by act of the Legislature each Congress district
voted separately for an elector; in Oregon, because one of the four
candidates for electors on the People's party ticket was also on the
Democratic ticket, the result being three Republicans and one Peo-
ple's party electors; in North Dakota, because one of the two People's
party electors who were elected cast his vote for Cleveland, thus caus-
ing the Electoral vote of the State to be equally divided between
Cleveland, Harrison, and Weaver.

Cleveland received 277 Electoral votes to 145 for Harrison and 22
for Weaver. The popular vote was 12,154,542, of which Cleveland re-
ceived 5,550,533; Harrison, 5,175,577; Weaver, 1,122,045; Bidwell,
Prohibitionist, 279,191; and Wing, Socialist Labor, 21,191. Cleve-
land owed his pluralities to the Populists in three States California,
Indiana, and Wisconsin.



Effects of Mr. Cleveland's Election The Fifty-third Congress Presi-
dent Cleveland on the Financial Disorders Repeal of the Silver
Purchasing Act The Opposition to Kepeal A Battle for Free
Silver Coinage of the Seigniorage Wilson Tariff Bill Com-
mittee on Ways and Means A Disappointing Measure Income
Tax Feature Change in the Rules of the House The Wilson
Bill in the Senate Amendments Arguments against the In-
come Tax Sugar Trust Scandal The Tariff Bill in Conference
President Cleveland's Remarkable Letter Indignant Re-
sponse of Mr. Gorman The Bill as Passed a Humiliating Sur-
render The President Allows it to Become a Law Another
Letter Repeal of Reciprocity Reaction The Fifty-fourth Con-
gress Failure of the New Tariff Condition of the Treasury.

O Presidential election before it ever resulted in a reaction
so immediate and complete as that which attended the sec-
ond election of Grover Cleveland. Political victory was
followed by commercial disaster. Gold went abroad with
a rapidity never before experienced. The Treasury reserve became
depleted. Exports fell off. Expenditures exceeded receipts. The
Secretary of the Treasury intimated the probability of redeeming
silver certificates in silver. Credits shriveled, banks closed, corpora-
tions and firms went to the wall, business demoralization became
well-nigh universal, mills shut down, labor went idle. The period was
one of panic, or rather a suspension of faith and credit that is usually
worse than panic. There was a want of confidence that was to rest
like an incubus on the entire second administration of Mr. Cleve-

It was thought that the Sherman Silver Purchasing Act Of 1890
had something to do with the business catastrophe that was the di-
rect result of Mr. Cleveland's election. To repeal this measure the
53d Congress was called to meet in special session, August 7,
1893. It was a Democratic Congress in both Houses. A revolution
had been wrought in the Senate by the Populist States. Nebraska,
Nevada, North Dakota, and Wyoming had all chosen Populist Sena-
tors; Kansas and South Dakota were already represented by Popu-


lists. The Republican Senators from Colorado, Idaho, and the two
Dakotas were Populists in fact if not in name. California, New
York, and Wisconsin sent Democrats to replace Republicans. Only
thirty-seven Republicans remained in a chamber that two years be-
fore had forty-seven. In the House there were signs of Republican
recovery, 125 Republicans to 88 in the 52d Congress. Thus
the Democratic party found itself in possession of all branches of the
government for the first time in thirty-two years. It could apply its
principles at will, but though a triumphant, it was not to prove a
happy party. After all its boastings in the previous campaign, it
proved unequal to the work before it.

" Our unfortunate financial plight," the President said in his mes-
sage to the new Congress, " is not the result of untoward events, nor
of conditions related to our natural resources; nor is it traceable to
any of the afflictions which frequently check national growth and
prosperity. With plenteous crops, with abundant promise of re-
munerative production and manufacture, with unusual invitation to
safe investment, and with satisfactory assurance to business enter-
prise, suddenly financial distrust and fear have sprung up on every
side. Numerous moneyed institutions have suspended because
abundant assets were not immediately available to meet the demands
of frightened depositors. Surviving corporations and individuals are
content to keep in hand the money they are usually anxious to loan,
and those engaged in legitimate business are surprised to find that
the securities they offer for loans, though heretofore satisfactory, are
no longer accepted. Values supposed to be fixed are fast becoming
conjectural, and loss and failure have invaded every branch of busi-
ness. I believe these things are principally chargeable to Congres-
sional legislation touching the purchase and coinage of silver by the
General Government. This legislation is embodied in a statute
passed on July 14, 1890, which was the culmination of much agita-
tion on the subject involved, and which may be considered a truce,
after a long struggle, between the advocates of free silver coinage and
those intending to be more conservative. Undoubtedly the monthly
purchases by the Government of four million and five hundred
thousand ounces of silver, enforced under that statute, were re-
garded by those interested in silver production as a certain guaranty
for its increase in price. The result, however, has been entirely dif-
ferent, for immediately following a spasmodic and slight rise, the
price of silver began to fall after the passage of the act, and has since
reached the lowest point ever known. This disappointing result has
led to renewed and persistent effort in the direction of free silver
coinage. ... It was my purpose to summon Congress in special


session early in the coming September that we might enter promptly
upon the work of tariff reform, which the true interests of the country
clearly demand., which so large a majority of the people, as shown by
their suffrage, desire and expect, and to the accomplishment of
which every effort of the present Administration is pledged. But
while tariff reform has lost nothing of its immediate and paramount
importance, and must in the near future engage the attention of Con-
gress, it has seemed to me that the financial condition of the country
should at once, and before all other subjects, be considered by your
honorable body."

A bill for the unconditional repeal of the silver purchasing clause
of the Act of 1890 was offered by Mr. Wilson, of West Virginia, on
August 11, but it was met immediately, and at all its stages by amend-
ments looking to free coinage, at ratios from 16 to 1 to 20 to 1. A
few Western Republicans voted for all these propositions, and many
Democrats voted against them. All these efforts failing, Mr. Bland
attempted to revive the Bland-Allison Act of 1878, but this attempt
failed also. The debate closed on August 28, and the bill providing
for unconditional repeal was passed by the House by 239 yeas to 109
nays. All the Republicans, except the Silver Republicans, voted for
it. The Senate passed a substitute for the House bill which contained
a declaration in favor of bimetallism through international agree-
ment. The vote was 43 yeas to 32 nays. The majority comprised
23 Republicans and 20 Democrats. The minority consisted of 19
Democrats, 9 Silver Republicans, and 4 Populists. The Senate
bill was passed on October 28, and the House concurred on November
1 by 194 yeas to 94 nays, not voting 66.

Nearly three months were required for this simple act of perfunc-
tory legislation three days, or three weeks at most, ought to have
been sufficient for its accomplishment. For profound intensity of
feeling about nothing, for embittered silliness in all its stages, it was
a match for the Secession weeks of the 36th Congress and the weary
and virulent years of Reconstruction. The silver purchasing clause
of the Sherman Act, so-called, was indeed a miserable makeshift. To
make its repeal, or the occasion of its repeal, a test of principle or even
of partisanship was a folly even greater than that of its passage. A
resolution offered by Mr. Bland at the outset and ordered by the House
is in its terms a serious caricature of those solemn proceedings.
Fourteen days were allowed for the debate. " Eleven days of the de-
bate," the resolution said, " to be given to general debate under the
rules of the last House regulating general debate, the time to be
equally divided between the two sides as the Speaker may determine.
The last three days of debate may be devoted to the consideration of


the bill and the amendments herein provided for, under the usual
five-minute rule of the House, as in Committee of the Whole House.
General leave to print is hereby granted. Order of amendments:
The vote shall be taken first on an amendment providing for the free
coinage of silver at the present ratio. If that fail, then a separate
vote to be had on a similar amendment proposing a ratio of IT to 1;
if that fails, on one proposing a ratio of 18 to 1; if that fails, on one
proposing a ratio of 11) to 1 ; if that fails, on one proposing a ratio of 20
to 1. If the above amendment fails, it shall be in order to offer an
amendment reviving the Act of February 28, 1878, restoring
the standard silver dollar, commonly known as the Bland-Allison Act;
the vote then to be taken on the engrossment and third reading of the
bill as amended, or on the bill itself if all amendments shall have been
voted down, and on the final passage of the bill without other inter-
vening motions."

All this was carried out with a fidelity as grave as it was gro-
tesque. But the Senate outdid the House in solemn trifling. Mr.
Peffer, of Kansas; Mr. Perkins, of California; Mr. Berry, of Arkansas;
Mr. Allen, of Nebraska; Mr. Blackburn, of Kentucky; Mr. Stewart, of
Nevada, and Mr. Squire, of Washington, all had substitutes for the
Finance Committee's substitutes, and substitutes for the substitutes
of each other. These substitutes, like the amendments offered in the
House, looked to the free coinage of silver; but some of them had a
reminiscent quality that the House amendments lacked. Mr. Peffer
wanted to go back to the silver coinage of 1834, and this failing, to
the Act of January 18, 1837. Mr. Berry would have been content to
revive the Act of 1878. Mr. Pasco, of Florida, wanted a commission to
ascertain or establish a ratio. There were propositions for additional
Treasury notes, for silver coinage with a seigniorage of 20 per cent.,
and the coinage of the seigniorage. These attempts to open the
mints to the products of the Silver States neutralized the effects of
repeal. Simple repeal would have been beneficial, if adopted quickly
and unconditionally. Menaced by the Populistic free silver theory
of a powerful minority in both parties, it soon became manifest that
the substantial benefits expected from repeal were not to be realized;
that business enterprise must remain prostrate while the impending
tariff legislation, for which the Administration and the Congress
had received a " mandate " from the people, continued as the main
cause of the widespread depression and alarm.

As the repeal of the McKinley Tariff was inevitable in a Congress
elected to repeal it, it was a mistake to defer its consideration from
the special to the regular session of the 53d Congress, with the
subsequent delay and uncertainty attending the passage of the Tariff


of 1894. In the meantime, the question of the free coinage of silver
continued to obtrude itself upon both Houses, while the condition
of the Treasury went from bad to worse. When the 53d Con-
gress met in regular session, December 4, 1893, the Treasury reserve
had fallen below the f 100,000,000 limit deemed safe for redemption
purposes. There was a deficit in Treasury receipts of about $68,000,-
000. One loan of $50,000,000 had been called for, and others were ex-
pected to follow. As a means of aiding the Treasury, Mr. Bland in-
troduced into the House a bill providing for the coinage of the Treas-
ury seigniorage. It was championed by all the free silver coinage
men, who saw r in it an opportunity they had lost during the extra
session of the Congress. The estimated value of this seigniorage was
$55,000,000, which, if coined into silver dollars, would be so much
straight gain to the Treasury. It was opposed by the Republicans
and an able Democratic contingent as sheer inflation, without a
particle of security behind it, since the value of silver bullion in the
Treasury, against which $153,000,000 of silver certificates had been
issued, had fallen from $120,000,000 to $97,000,000. Adding the es-
timated value of the seigniorage ($55,000,000) to this $97,000,000, the
sums would still be short of the $153,000,000 silver certificates which
were to be protected. This bill did not pass, but it served to show
that the question of the free coinage of silver was a rapidly growing
one, and that the day might not be distant when it would project
itself upon the country in a form independent of existing political

Although the introduction of a Tariff bill into the House of Repre-
sentatives w r as long delayed, and its passage still longer, its prepara-
tion began with the re-election of Speaker Crisp and the appointment

Online LibraryGeorge Oberkirsh SeilhamerHistory of the Republican party (Volume 1) → online text (page 55 of 61)