George Oberkirsh Seilhamer.

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only six delegates getting under cover, while fifty-eight preferred to
remain outside of the breastworks. Reed's backing was the worst
exhibit on the slate. He obtained the undivided vote of only three
of the New England States, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode
Island, twenty-nine votes from Massachusetts, and five votes from
Connecticut. The entire Vermont delegation went over to McKinley,
Eeed's scattering support from the South and Southwest two votes
from Alabama, two from Georgia, tw T o from Illinois, four from
Louisiana, one from Maryland, one from New Jersey, two and a half
from North Carolina, five
from Texas, and one each
from Virginia, the District
of Columbia, and Oklahoma
showing that he was not
a factor in the fight.

On the morning after the
nomination one of the New
York papers gravely an-
nounced, in summing up
the results, that Thomas C.
Platt and his friends com-
pelled Mr. Hanna, Mr. Mc-
Kinley's representative at
St. Louis, to accept the gold
plank in the platform.
" Mark Hanna," it said,
" wanted to nominate Mc-
Kinley on an ambiguous
platform. The carefully

planned nomination could not be beaten; but Mr. Platt, with the
intelligent and courageous help of the Reed men, forced Mr.
Hanna to come out into the open. He forced the Republicans
from a cowardly evasion into a straightforward declaration."
As a matter of fact, the use of the word " gold " in the Re-
publican platform was a matter of such supreme indifference
that the friends of McKinley would not have been justified in re-
fusino; to assent to it. Had it not been a matter of indifference


had not the Republican party been a gold party, either with or
without a declaration on the subject McKinley's strength in the
Convention was so great that it would have been impossible for
Platt to " force " Hanna.



For Vice-President Garret A. Hobart, of New Jersey, was nomi-
nated on the first ballot, receiving 533i votes to 301^ for all the others.
His principal competitor was H. Clay Evans, of Tennessee, who re-
ceived 277^ votes. New Jersey demanded his nomination. " Not
for himself, but for our State," said Judge J. Franklin Fort, in plac-
ing his name before the Convention; " not for his ambition but to
give to the nation the highest type of public official, do we come to
this Convention by the command of our State, and, in the name of the
Kepublican party of New Jersey unconquered and unconquerable,
undivided and indivisible with our united voice speaking for all that
counts for good citizenship in our State, nominate to you for the of-
fice of Vice-President of the Republic, Garret A. Hobart, of New

So far as the Republicans were concerned there was no silver ques-
tion in the campaign, but with the Democrats the issue was a real
one a real issue on a false basis. The attempt to engraft free silver
upon the Kepublican Platform had failed, but it was certain, before
the meeting of the Democratic National Convention on July 7, that
the silver men would succeed in making it the dominating feature in
the Democratic Platform. They w r ere in the majority in the Con-
vention and they soon showed that it was an aggressive majority.
Although contrary to Democratic precedents and practice, the re-
commendation of David Keunett Hill, of New York, for temporary
chairman, by the National Committee, was set aside, and John W.
Daniel, of Virginia, was chosen by the silver men. The vote by
which this was accomplished was: Daniel, 550; Hill, 349; not voting,
1. The man who did not vote was Senator Hill. The States that
voted solidly against Hill were: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Col-
orado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky,
Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina,
North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah,
and Wyoming. The States that voted solidly for Hill were: Con-
necticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hamp-
shire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South
Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin. The States that were split on the
question were: Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Washington, and West
Virginia. The Territories played little part in the program. Ex-
cept for Senator Daniel's vote the vote of Virginia was solidly for
its own favorite son and against Senator Hill. The silver men in
the Convention accepted every recommendation made by the Na-
tional Committee except the one to make Senator Hill temporary
chairman. They singled Senator Hill out for defeat, and easily ac-
complished their purpose.


Senator Daniel, on taking the chair, expressed profound gratitude
for the honor conferred upon him, and his regret that his name should
have been brought in even the most courteous competition with his
distinguished friend, Senator Hill, who would readily recognize the
fact, however, that there was no personality in the matter. It was
solely due to the principle which the great majority of Democrats
stood for, Mr. Daniel standing with them. As the majority of the
Convention was not personal in its aims neither was it sectional.
It began with the sunrise in Maine and spread into a sunburst in
Louisiana and Texas. It stretched in unbroken lines across the con-
tinent, from Virginia and Georgia to California. It swept like a
prairie fire over Iowa and Kansas, and it lighted up the horizon in
Nebraska. When he saw that grand array, and thought of the
British gold standard that was recently unfurled over the ruins of
Republican promises in St. Louis, he thought of the battle of New
Orleans, of which it had been said:

" There stood John Bull in martial pomp,
But there was Old Kentucky."

The whole speech was an argument for free silver and against a
gold standard. On the second day the permanent organization was
effected by the selection of Stephen M. White, of California, as perma-
nent President of the Convention, and the contested seats from Mich-
igan and Nebraska were settled in favor of the contesting silver dele-
gates from both States. The Committee on Resolutions did not re-


port until the third day. In the meantime a terrific battle had been
fought in the Committee. The silver men were determined that the
Platform should be a plain and unequivocal statement of their prin-
ciples, while the u gold bugs " sought such modifications as would
serve to stave off a party breach, and reconcile the country to the
Platform declarations. The results of this struggle were majority
and minority reports, with an appeal to the Convention for final set-
tlement. These reports meant a day of angry struggle. The silver
men grew firmer in their attitude, and more pronounced in their
views. The gold men tried all expedients of oratory and delay to
accomplish something favorable to themselves. Senator Jones, of
Arkansas, read the majority report, and J. II. Wade, of Ohio, fol-
loAved by reading the minority report. The issue was thus drawn in
Convention. Senator Tillman, of South Carolina, sprang to the rescue
of the majority platform in a speech filled with fiery invective and
bitter denunciation of the Cleveland administration. It was so par-
tisan and sectional that Senator Jones, of Arkansas, sought to give a


non-sectional turn to the discussion by declaring that free silver coin-
age was national, and, as a cause, had adherents in every State. Then
came the turn of Senator Hill, of New York. When Mr. Hill was
followed in equally eloquent and pathetic strains by Senator Vilas,
of Wisconsin, and ex-Governor Russell, of Massachusetts, the climax
of excitement was supposed to have been reached. But not so; the
demonstration that greeted Russell's peroration was quickly sub-
merged by that which welcomed the appearance of William J.

Mr. Russell's speech was in the nature of a farewell to the old
Democracy. " I have but one word to say," he began; " I am con-
scious, painfully conscious, that the mind of this Convention is not
and has not been open to argument. I know the will of this great
majority, which has seen fit to override precedents and attacks the
sovereignty of States, is to rigidly enforce its views. I know full
well that an appeal also will fall on deaf ears. There is but one
thing left, to enter my protest. I do so, not in anger or in bitterness,
but with a feeling of infinite sorrow. Our country, if not this Con-
vention, will listen to our protest."

Mr. Bryan's speech was a strong plea for free silver and against a
gold standard; a defense of the Income tax, and an arraignment of
the Supreme Court. It closed with two figures of speech character-
istic of Western oratory. " If they dare to come out," he said,
aiming his shafts at the sound money Democrats in the Convention,
" and in the open defend the gold standard as a good thing, we shall
fight them to the uttermost, having behind us the producing masses
of this nation and the world. Having behind us the commercial in-
terests and the laboring interests, and all the toiling masses, we shall
answer their demands for a gold standard by saying to them, l You
shall not press down upon the brow of Labor this crown of thorns.
You shall not crucify man on a cross of gold.' " At the conclusion of
Mr. Bryan's speech the whole Convention sprang to its feet, and
20,000 throats roared, while twice 20,000 arms waved frantically.
Handkerchiefs and flags flew wildly. Hats were hurled aloft. Um-
brellas were waved. Men shouted like maniacs. Suddenly a mem-
ber of the Texas delegation uprooted the banner of the Lone Star
State and carried it to where stood the standard of Nebraska. Other
delegates grasped the staffs of their delegations and pushed their way
to the Nebraska delegation. Soon the staffs of two-thirds of the
States were grouped about the purple standard of Bryan's State.
Only the standards of Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maine,
Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Vermont, South
Dakota, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania were left standing when


the demonstration was at its height. After five minutes of this tur-
bulence, the crowd sank back exhausted. When all were seated,
Delegate Saulsbury, of Delaware, climbed upon his chair. He and
his three silver colleagues from that State gave three cheers for
Bryan, which was answered with a shout from the gallery of " What's
the matter with Bryan for President? "

The evening session was devoted to placing candidates in nomina-
tion. Mr. Bland was nominated by Senator Vest, Mr. Matthews by
Senator Turpie, and Mr. Boies by Senator White. When Georgia
was called, Colonel H. T. Lewis rose, and, after a few words, sub-
mitted the name of William J. Bryan, of Nebraska. " He needs no
speech to recommend him," said Colonel Lewis. The words exploded
another mine of the same fiery sort which the Nebraskan had in-
flamed with his own oratory a few hours before. The work of bal-
loting was postponed till Friday, July 10. The indications now all
pointed to Bryan, though several other candidates were to be placed
in the field. It was to be as exciting a day as the previous one,
though without its acerbities. A melancholy and painful part of the
proceedings was the declination of so many delegates to join in them,
through disgust at the Platform and their treatment by the majority.
The New York and New Jersey delegates remained passive in their
seats, and Connecticut, Wisconsin, Delaware, Michigan, and Rhode
Island cast only partial or scattering votes.

The vote on the first ballot was: Richard P. Bland, of Missouri,
235; William J. Bryan, of Nebraska, 119; Robert E. Pattison, of
Pennsylvania, 95; Horace Boies, of Iowa, 85; J. S. C. Blackburn, of
Kentucky, 83; John R. McLean, of Ohio, 54; Claude Matthews, of
Indiana, 37; Benjamin R. Tillman, of South Carolina, IT; Sylvester
Pennoyer, of Oregon, 8; Henry M. Teller, of Colorado, 8; Adlai E.
Stevenson, of Illinois, 7; William E. Russell, of Massachusetts, 2;
David B. Hill, of New York, 1; not voting, 178. On the last ballot
the vote was: Bryan, 500; Bland, 106; Pattison, 95; Matthews, 31;
Boies, 26; Stevenson, 8; not voting, 162. Changes were made, how r -
ever, giving Bryan more than the 512 necessary to a choice.

There were five ballots for a candidate for Vice-President, Arthur
Sewall, of Maine, being nominated on the fifth ballot.

The other tickets nominated for the campaign were: The People's
Party, W T illiam J. Bryan for President, and Thomas E. Watson, of
Georgia, for Vice-President; the National Democratic party, John
M. Palmer, of Illinois, for President, and Simon B. Buckner, of Ken-
tucky, for Vice-President; the Socialist Labor party, Charles H.
Matchett, of New York, for President, and Matthew Maguire, of New
Jersey, for Vice-President; the Prohibition party, Joshua Levering,


of Maryland, for President, and Hale Johnson, of Illinois, for Vice-
President. The seceding Prohibitionists nominated Charles E. Bent-
ley, of Nebraska, for President, and James H. Southgate, of North
Carolina, for Vice-President.

The campaign was one of great vigor, but remarkably free from
personalities and vituperation. Mr. McKinley was at his Canton
home when he was nominated, and he remained there throughout the
canvass. He lived in a house as modest as that which Abraham Lin-
coln occupied in 1800, but the life of the Kepublican candidate for a
time after his nomination was a succession of congratulatory epi-
sodes telegrams, letters, visits, speeches, and processions. The
visitors came singly and in delegations, the most important of these
being the members of the St. Louis Convention, charged w r ith the
duty of his formal notification. This Committee, composed of rep-
resentatives from each State and Territory, reached Canton on June
29. There was nothing stilted in Mr. McKinley's reception of the
messengers of the Convention, for he gave to the occasion the grace of
a new departure, by turning it to the account of his party and the
country. In his own eloquent, logical, and convincing way, he let it
be known exactly how he stood toward the party and its platform of
principles, how the party was expected to stand toward the country,
and what were the solemn duties of an hour in which redemption
from existing ills was expected. " The American people," he said,
u hold the financial honor of our Government as sacred as our flag,
and can be relied upon to guard it with the same sleepless vigilance.
They hold its preservation above party fealty, and have often demon-
strated that party ties avail nothing when the spotless credit of our
country is threatened. The money of the United States, and every
kind or form of it, whether of paper, silver, or gold, must be as good
as the best in the world. It must not only be current at its full face
value at home, but it must be counted at par in any and every com-
mercial center of the globe. The sagacious and far-seeing policy of
the great men who founded our Government, the teachings and acts
of the wisest financiers at every stage in our history, the steadfast
faith and splendid achievements of the great party to which we be-
long, and the genius and integrity of our people, have always de-
manded this, and will ever maintain it. The dollar paid to the
farmer, the wage-earner, and the pensioner must continue forever
equal in purchasing and debt-paying power to the dollar paid to any
Government creditor. The contest this year will not be waged upon
lines of theory and speculation, but in the light of severe practical
experience and new and dearly acquired knowledge. The great body
of our citizens know what they want, and that they intend to have.


They know for what the Republican party stands, and what its re-
turn to power means to them. They realize that the Republican party
believes that our work should be done at home and not abroad, and
everywhere proclaim their devotion to the principles of a protective
tariff which, while supplying adequate revenues for the Government,
will restore American production and serve the best interests of
American labor and development. Our appeal, therefore, is not to a
false philosophy or vain theorists, but to the masses of the American
people, the plain, practical people whom Lincoln loved and trusted,
and whom the Republican party has always striven to serve."

Without stirring from his home, Mr. McKinley made his words and
his influence felt in the remotest corners of the land. Bryan pursued
the opposite policy from that adopted by McKinley. He was much
in evidence from the beginning to the close of the campaign. He
went everywhere and talked incessantly. " There shall be no signs
of ' Keep off the grass ' when you come around, boys," he said, to the
crowds in Chicago on the evening of his nomination. After leaving
Chicago on his way to his home at Lincoln, he visited Salem, his


birthplace, and afterward made journeys in every direction, making-
speeches wherever there was a crowd to meet him. This was the fea-
ture of the canvass for free silver, and the free silver candidate was
received with so much apparent enthusiasm that he was certain of his
election. The man in the little home at Canton made no journeys,
but, like Lincoln thirty-six years before, waited quietly for the people
to show that they knew what they wanted, and whom they would
have to serve them as President of the United States.

The two candidates were as opposite in their characters as in their
methods. In temperament Mr. McKinley was calm, self-contained,
equable. As a young man he had served with his regiment in the
Civil War. In Congress he earned distinction as a Republican leader
and the champion of Republican principles. As Governor of Ohio
he had shown executive ability of a high order. His public life had
begun when Bryan was a schoolboy, and his public services com-
manded the admiration of his party and the country. Mr. Bryan, on
the contrary, was a. very young man, with little experience, and in-
clined to political vagaries. He was known to the people only
through a few speeches, and his speeches were like a rushing moun-
tain stream, sparkling, but shallow. Between the two men it was
impossible that the sober thought of the country should be in doubt.

While McKinley escaped much of the usual vituperation and mis-
representation of "a Presidential candidate, Mark Hanna, the Chair-
man of the Republican National Committee, was not so fortunate.
Suddenly he became the most talked-of man in America. His por-



trait, in varying shades of perfection, was in every newspaper. Even
Bryan was not more a subject of popular interest. If virulence di-
rected against Mark Hanna had counted for much McKinley would
have been beaten, but the same influences that operated in the Re-
publican National Convention in June were operative throughout
the campaign and determined the result in November.

The defection of the sound money Democrats was not considered a
serious menace by the men who nominated Bryan and Sewall. It
was believed that the vote diverted to the support of Palmer and
Buckner would be more than made up by that which the silver Re-
publicans would give to Bryan. There were grounds for this as-
sumption. All over the country there were Republicans who ad-
vocated free coinage during the
campaign, but most of them voted
for McKinley and Hobart in the
end, while the sound money Demo-
crats were forced by the fusion of
the Bryan Democracy with the
Populists to adopt the same course.
So-called Fusion tickets were
adopted in twenty-six States. In
Kansas Democratic electors were
indorsed by the Populists in return
for State officers, and in North Da-
kota Populist electors were given
a Democratic indorsement on sim-
ilar terms. In Oregon there was
only one Democratic elector to two
Populists and one silver Repub-
lican. In previous Presidential

campaigns when there were Fusion tickets it meant that either of
two candidates might benefit from the arrangement, but Fusion in
1896 was only united support of Bryan by Democrats and Populists
alike. It was a division of electors between parties, but under no
circumstances between candidates. In the States in which the ma-
jorities either way were likely to be overwhelming, there were no
Fusion tickets Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Caro-
lina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia; Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode
Island, and Vermont. Altogether eighty Populists were named as
candidates for electors, but no significance is to be attached to this
wide recognition of Populism, as it was only a device to catch votes
for Bryan.

The popular vote for President was 13,923,643, of which 7,106,199



votes were cast for McKinley, 6,502,685 for Bryan, 132,871 for Pal-
mer, 131,757 for Levering, 36,258 for Matchett, and 13,873 for Bent-
ley. McKinley's majority was 288,753, and his plurality over Bryan
603,514. Bryan's pluralities were confined to the Southern and min-
ing States. McKinley carried the agricultural and manufacturing
States by overwhelming majorities. The States that voted for
Cleveland in 1892, but voted for McKinley in 1896, were Connecticut,
Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New
York, and Wisconsin. California had voted 8 for Cleveland to 1
for Harrison, but now voted 1 for Bryan to 8 for McKinley. Michi-
gan, which had given Cleveland 5 electoral votes, now gave McKinley
its full electoral vote. North Dakota gave its 3 votes to McKinley
instead of dividing them impartially as in 1892. The reaction that
was the result of the McKinley bill was now reversed by the reaction
that was the result of the Wilson bill. The silver question was not
seriously felt in the campaign, and in the elections gave Bryan only
four States that had voted for Harrison in 1892 Montana, Nebraska,
South Dakota, and Wyoming.

The election of William McKinley was justly hailed as the promise
of a new Period of Prosperity.



The Fifty-Fifth Congress Quick Passage of the Dingley Tariff Act-
Changes in Duties Legislation in the Extraordinary Session of
Congress Annexation of Hawaii The Cuban Question In-
surrections in Cuba devolution of 1895-98 American Sym-
pathy with the Cubans The Case of the Competitor President
Cleveland's Attitude The Question of Belligerency Resolu-
tions in the Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth Congresses President
McKinley's Course Destruction of the " Maine " War with
Spain Beginning of a New Epoch.

ITH the election of William McKinley a Republican House
of Representatives was also chosen, and the Republicans
obtained a plurality in the Senate that was virtually a
majority on all questions except the free coinage of silver.
The new Republican Senators in the 55th Congress are Henry Hert-
feld, of Idaho; William E. Mason, of Illinois; Charles W. Fairbanks,
of Indiana; William J. Deboe, of Kentucky; George L. Wellington,
of Maryland; Thomas C. Platt, of New York; Joseph B. Foraker and
Marcus A. Hanna, of Ohio, and Boies Penrose, of Pennsylvania. Not
so many States have unbroken Republican delegations as in the 54th
Congress, but four States re-elected their delegations complete Con-
necticut, Iowa, Maine, and New Jersey; and four other States had full
Republican delegations Maryland, Minnesota, W r est Virginia, and
Wisconsin. The Representatives from Maryland were all new mem-
bers except William B. Baker, of the Second District, but West Vir-
ginia and Wisconsin returned all the members of the previous House
except one each, and Minnesota replaced only two of its Representa-
tives. The Democrats made no serious inroads in the delegations of
any of the great Republican States Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts.
New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The Congress was called to
meet in special session March 15, 1897, and Thomas B. Reed, of Maine,
was chosen Speaker for the third time.

The extraordinary session of the 55th Congress was called specially
to deal with the Tariff; in the words of President McKinley's mes-
sage, " To supply ample revenue for the support of the Government
and the liquidation of the public debt." In view of the emergency
the Committee on Ways and Means in the 54th Congress had pre-


pared the necessary tariff schedules during the previous session, and,
three days after the beginning of the special session, was able to re-

Online LibraryGeorge Oberkirsh SeilhamerHistory of the Republican party (Volume 1) → online text (page 58 of 61)