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164 RECONSTRUCTION AND UNION

line, which was now put forward with so much
assurance, had years before been characterized
by the British government itself as "merely a
preliminary measure open to further discussion."

President Cleveland thereupon did a character-
istically daring thing. He sent a special message
to congress (December 17, 1895) recapitulating
the points in the controversy and declaring that
since Great Britain refused to arbitrate, the United
States must itself ascertain the true boundary.
He asked congress to appropriate money to defray
the expenses of a special commission to make the
necessary investigation. He declared that in
case the disputed territory should be found to
belong to Venezuela, it would be "the duty of
the United States to resist by every means in its
power" any British aggressions upon it. He
added: "In making these recommendations I
am fully alive to the responsibility incurred, and
keenly realize all the consequences that may
follow." The message struck a popular chord.
The country resounded with applause. In four
days congress voted $100,000 for the commission*
without division or debate.

Great Britain suddenly awoke to the serious-
ness of the situation. For a time there seemed
grave danger of war, but the raid of Dr. Jameson's
freebooters into the Transvaal and the Kaiser's
congratulatory dispatch to Kruger turned British
attention from the Venezuelan question. Peace
was preserved in the only way possible Lord
Salisbury accepted the new interpretation of
the Monroe Doctrine and consented to arbi-
trate the whole question. A formal treaty to



BATTLEDORE AND SHUTTLECOCK 165

that effect between Great Britain and Vene-
zuela was signed (February 2, 1897). The decis-
ion of the arbitration tribunal proved, on the
whole, favorable to England, but the tribunal
awarded to Venezuela some territory east of the
Schomburgk Line territory which England had
claimed to be so clearly hers that she would not
allow her title to it to be called in question.

The outcome of the dispute marked a signal
victory of American diplomacy. In the words
of the London Times, Great Britain admitted
"that in respect of South American Republics
the United States may not only intervene in dis-
putes, but may entirely supersede the original
disputant and assume exclusive control of the
negotiations." It was an assertion and a conces-
sion of American hegemony in the New World.

The Venezuelan message gave President Cleve-
land temporary popularity, but it did not enable
him to recover control of his party. In the West
and South particularly that party was thoroughly
inoculated with the free silver virus. In those
sections most Democrats regarded the president
as a traitor who had betrayed party and nation
to the "Gold Bugs" of Wall Street. The Repub-
licans were themselves divided on the financial
issue, but they had won an overwhelming victory
in the congressional elections of 1894 and were
extravagantly confident as to the future. It
was their common boast that in 1896 they could
nominate " a rag-baby or a yellow dog and elect it."

The chief candidates for the Republican nomi-
nation were Thomas B. Reed of Maine and Wil-
liam McKinley of Ohio. Reed had made himself



166 RECONSTRUCTION AND UNION

conspicuous by his arbitrary course as "Czar"
of the house, but it was felt by many politicians
that he was too openly a friend of the gold stand-
ard to be acceptable in the West. McKinley
was regarded by many as a more available can-
didate. As a member of the house in 1878 he had
voted for the Bland-Allison Bill on its first pas-
sage and subsequently when it was passed over
the president's veto, but his exact position on
the money question was unknown, and his record
was more closely associated with the tariff. It
was his bill of 1890 that had brought defeat to
his party in that year and again in 1892, but a
reaction had come, and it was now possible to
arouse enthusiasm among those who attributed
the hard times to Democratic rule by shouting
"Bill McKinley and the McKinley Bill." Fol-
lowing his defeat in the congressional election of
1890, he had twice been elected governor of Ohio,
and his course in that office had been eminently
satisfactory to the powerful financial interests
that were now grasping at the government. Mc-
Kinley was a man of moderate abilities and pure
private life. Being the son and grandson of iron-
masters, he understood the manufacturer's point
of view and sympathized with it.

The decisive part in the campaign for the
nomination and some assert in the years that
followed was played not by McKinley but by
his political manager, Marcus Alonzo Hanna of
Cleveland. "Mark" Hanna, as he was usually
called, was an Ohio business man who had ac-
cumulated a large fortune in coal, iron, and other
industries. He owned street railway and other



BATTLEDORE AND SHUTTLECOCK 167

franchises, and had participated in local and
state politics as an adjunct to his business. In
private life he was a blunt, coarse-fibered man,
with many likable human traits. As regards
his theoretical knowledge of political science, it
is enough to say that one of his favorite expres-
sions of denunciation was: "He's a Socialist
and an Anarchist." Hanna was frankly cynical
of popular government. He was a corruptionist
of the most dangerous type. In the words of one
who was long associated with him in politics,
"Mark Hanna never tried to carry an election
merely by a sober appeal to the sense and con-
science of the people. When he wanted a thing,
it was his idea to go out and buy somebody."

While governor, McKinley became involved
in financial obligations to the extent of about
$100,000, but Hanna and other wealthy friends
gave him the money that saved him from bank-
ruptcy. What influence this transaction later
had upon McKinley 's career it is impossible to
say. This much is certain, that their relations
were very close, and that Hanna's was the
stronger nature. Men who knew both have gone
so far as to say that "McKinley was not, for
Hanna took him," but this is undoubtedly an
exaggeration.

Hanna was determined to secure the nomina-
tion of his friend for the presidency, and he con-
ducted the campaign to that end with consum-
mate skill. Through the lavish use of money
secret influences were set to work, particularly
in the South and West, to fan into a flame the
already latent friendliness felt among Republi-



168 RECONSTRUCTION AND UNION

cans for "the advance agent of prosperity." It
is notorious that many of the Southern delegates
to Republican national conventions are venal,
and Hanna was especially successful in obtaining
delegates from that section. When the Republi-
can convention met at St. Louis in the middle of
June, McKinley was nominated on the first
ballot, with Garret A. Hobart, a wealthy lawyer
and business man of New Jersey, as the vice-
presidential candidate.

Up to the meeting of the convention it had
been uncertain what attitude the party would
take on the coinage question. Hanna had skill-
fully kept his candidate's opinions on the subject
in the background in order not to alienate the
free silver West or the gold East. But with his
consent, and perhaps through his secret manage-
ment, a platform was adopted which opposed the
free coinage of silver, except by international
agreement. Senator Teller of Colorado and
thirty -three other delegates, including three other
senators and two members of the house, at once
seceded from the convention. Their withdrawal
was serious, but the convention's action had
secured the support of the sound money East.

Meanwhile it was becoming certain that the
Democrats would declare for free silver. In the
West the free-coinage craze had become an obses-
sion. " It was a fanaticism like the Crusades. In-
deed, the delusion that was working on the people
took the form of religious frenzy. Sacred hymns
were torn from their pious tunes to give place to
words which deified the cause and made gold
and all its symbols, capital, wealth, plutocracy



BATTLEDORE AND SHUTTLECOCK 169

diabolical. At night, from ten thousand little
white schoolhouse windows, lights twinkled back
vain hope to the stars. . . . They sang their
barbaric songs in unrhythmic jargon, with some-
thing of the mad faith that inspired martyrs
going to the stake. Far into the night the voices
rose, women's and children's voices, the voices
of old men, of youths and of maidens rose on the
ebbing prairie breezes, as the crusaders of the
revolution rode home, praising the people's will
as though it were God's will and cursing wealth
for its inequity."

When the Democratic convention met at Chi-
cago in July, the free-silver wing had full control.
The old conservative leaders were swept aside.
Cleveland's administration was repudiated. Gold
monometallism was denounced as the mischief
" which had locked fast the prosperity of an indus-
trial people in the paralysis of hard times." The
platform demanded "the free and unlimited
coinage of both silver and gold at the present
legal ratio of 16 to 1 without waiting for the aid
or consent of any other nation."

Much uncertainty existed as to who would lead
the crusade in behalf of the white metal. The
man most talked about at first was the "Father
of Free Silver," Senator Richard P. Bland of Mis-
souri. But while the platform was still under
discussion there appeared upon the stage to plead
the cause of silver a young man of thirty-six from
Nebraska. The speaker had a magnificent presence
and a marvelous mellow voice that penetrated to
the farthest recesses of the great convention hall.
Practically unknown to the nation, utterly un-



170 RECONSTRUCTION AND UNION

known to many of the delegates present, he pro-
ceeded to deliver an oration the like of which,
judged by its effectiveness, had rarely been heard
since the days of Clay and Webster. And when
he closed by saying: "You shall not press down
upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns you
shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold!"
he had won in an hour what other men had
striven a lifetime for and had failed to win.
"Silver Dick" Bland was forgotten; the next
day William Jennings Bryan was nominated for
the presidency.

The new leader was a graduate of Illinois
College, and a lawyer of Lincoln, Nebraska. His
public experience was practically limited to two
terms in the lower house of congress, where he
had been an active insurgent against Cleveland's
financial policy. He was the youngest man who
had ever been nominated for the presidency.

The action of the Chicago convention dismayed
Eastern Democrats. Many prominent leaders
and newspapers declared that they would not
support the "Boy Orator of the Platte." The
bolters organized a "Gold Democrat" party,
which held a convention at Indianapolis in
September and nominated ex-Senator Palmer of
Illinois and General Simon E. Buckner of Ken-
tucky for the presidency and vice-presidency.
With this movement President Cleveland and
his friends were supposed to be in sympathy.
On the other hand, the Populists and Silver Re-
publicans, meeting in separate conventions
at St. Louis, decided to support Bryan, but
the Populists substituted Thomas E. Watson



BATTLEDORE AND SHUTTLECOCK 171

of Georgia for the Democratic vice-presidential
nominee.

The campaign was fought almost solely on the
financial issue. The Democrats urged that the
scarcity of money depressed business and worked
a great injustice upon the debtor class. Con-
traction, they declared, is as dishonorable as
inflation, and it has the added disadvantage of
falling most heavily upon those who have borrowed
money rather than upon those who have been
rich enough to lend it. They contended that if
even one great commercial nation like the United
States should restore the historic value ratio
between the two metals, other nations would be
compelled to co-operate, the money famine would
be ended, and business would improve. They
had no fear of fiat value. One of their campaign
songs ran thus:

" You may say what you will of the fifty cent dollar.
But I tell you it beats none at all all holler."

Bryan made a whirlwind campaign, traveling
eighteen thousand miles and speaking to probably
five million hearers. For a time it seemed that
he had a chance of election, but it was not to be.
Great numbers of people wrongly laid all the
blame for the hard times upon Democratic rule,
and the cry of "McKinley and Prosperity" won
labor votes. Many people, though agreeing that
something was wrong with the nation, could not
agree that free silver was the rightful remedy.
They were inclined to accept the Republican
view that to adopt it would mean national ruin



172 RECONSTRUCTION AND UNION

and national disgrace. The financial interests
contributed to the Republican cause a greater
campaign fund than any that had hitherto been
gathered. Laborers were told that if the Demo-
crats won they need not return to work. City
banks brought pressure to bear upon country
correspondents. Orders for goods were made
contingent upon the choice of the Republican
candidate. When the votes were finally counted
in November, it was found that McKinley
would be the choice of 271 electors, Bryan of
only 176.

The money question had served to obscure the
real issue and to postpone the solution of an evil
that had resulted from a long course of economic
evolution. A little more than a century before
there had begun in England a new movement
in history that in its effects upon the daily lives,
thoughts, and habits of men has been vastly more
important than any political revolution of which
there exists a record. By the invention of labor-
saving machinery such as the spinning- jenny, the
power-loom, and the steam-engine, man freed
himself from the limitations of his own puny
strength and harnessed Nature to work for him.
Society passed from the handicraft into the in-
dustrial stage.

This Industrial Revolution, of which too little
is said in our school histories, has had both its
bright and its dark sides. The amount of goods
that could be created for human enjoyment was
vastly increased, but the new system brought
with it the growth of factories, child labor, the
capitalistic system, with all the complicated



BATTLEDORE AND SHUTTLECOCK 173

problems that these things entail. In the evo-
lution of industrial society there developed a
system of combinations having the activities of
an individual and infinitely greater power, but
without an individual's responsibility.

The control of these giant combinations was
the real problem of the day, but the party of
reform unwisely "sought a remedy through an
attempt to establish an unsound economic prin-
ciple. The result was their defeat, and for a time
the defeat of the cause for which they were con-
tending. The way to deliverance was not to be
opened to them through the door of the national
finances. Mr. Bryan resembled a champion who
rushes forth to meet a powerful antagonist, and
who has armed himself with a sword of which the
blade is flawed. At the very crisis of the combat,
his weapon was shattered in his grasp, and the
victory was given to his adversary."

President Cleveland retired from office the
most unpopular ex-president since Andrew John-
son. His party had openly repudiated him, and
among Western Democrats his name was anath-
ema. But as the years passed more and more men
paid tribute to his integrity and to his stubborn
stand for sound money. In one respect his break
with his party was an unmixed blessing, for it
left him a freer hand to advance civil service
reform. He retained Theodore Roosevelt on the
Civil Service Commission, and worked in har-
mony with him until Roosevelt resigned to be-
come police commissioner of New York City.
Finding on his second inauguration 42,928
places under civil service rules, Cleveland ex-



174 RECONSTRUCTION AND UNION

tended the classified list until the positions
numbered 86,932, of which only 1,513 were due
to growth. His successor deemed the extension
somewhat too sweeping to suit his idea of the
fitness of things. He withdrew some thousands
from the classified list and placed over six thou-
sand under a modified system more flexible to the
desires of Republican spoilsmen.



CHAPTER VH

THE WHITE MAN'S BURDEN

IN the year 1868 the people of the island of
Cuba rose against their Spanish rulers in an
attempt to obtain self-government. The proxim-
ity of the island to the United States helped to
rouse a strong interest in the great Republic for
the struggling revolutionists. In August, 1869,
President Grant signed a proclamation recog-
nizing the belligerency of the insurgents, but
owing to the influence of Secretary Fish it was
never issued. Four years later a Spanish gun-
boat seized a filibustering steamer, the Vir-
ginius, on the high seas and carried her into
the harbor of Santiago, where fifty-three of the
passengers and crew, including eight American
citizens, were summarily shot. The war spirit
flamed high in the United States, for when cap-
tured the Virginius was flying the American
flag. Hostilities seemed likely, but after vex-
atious delays reparation was made by Spain
for the affair. American feeling was also soothed
by the discovery that the Virginius had ob-
tained her registry by perjury and fraud. The
war languished for a decade, but ultimately peace
was restored in the island upon promises being
175



176 RECONSTRUCTION AND UNION

made of important concessions. Hardly had the
patriots laid down then* arms when the promises
were broken, and Spain proceeded to govern as
tyrannically as ever.

Early in 1895 another revolt broke out in the
island, among those engaged in the movement
being many who had participated in the Ten
Years' War. Unable to meet the Spanish regulars
in the field, the insurgents resorted to guerrilla
tactics, and by the end of 1896 roamed at will over
three-fourths of the inland country. Plantations
were laid waste by both sides, villages and towns
were burned, and great stretches of country
reverted to the wilderness. Under the humane
leadership of Governor-general Campos, the Span-
ish at first waged warfare in accordance with civil-
ized usages; but Campos failed to suppress the
revolt, and in January, 1896, was superseded by
General Weyler, whose harsh policy gained for
him the name of the "Butcher." Weyler put into
effect a policy of gathering the peasants and vil-
lagers into fortified towns in order that they might
not afford assistance to the insurgents. Being
improperly supplied with food and shelter, the
unhappy reconcentrados died by tens of thousands.

The revolt quickly won American sympathy,
and not a few adventurous spirits betook them-
selves to Cuba to fight in the insurgent ranks.
The American government tried hard to enforce
its neutrality laws, but numerous vessels managed
to escape the vigilance of the authorities and to
land volunteers and sorely needed munitions of
war in Cuba. As the war dragged slowly along,
as newspaper and magazine correspondents sent



THE WHITE MAN'S BURDEN 177

out stories of Spanish cruelty and the awful
sufferings of the non-combatants hi the recon-
centration camps, American interest became
intensified, and more and more people began to
feel that our government ought to intervene to
put a stop to such horrors. Since at least fifty
millions of American capital was invested in
the island, Americans also had a pecuniary interest
in the return of peace conditions. In spite of
growing pressure, however, President Cleveland
and President McKinley after him preserved a
perfectly correct attitude, but plainly intimated
that the United States could not be expected to
display forbearance forever.

In September, 1897, Stewart L. Woodford, the
American minister to Spain, renewed to the Span-
ish government previous tenders of our friendly
offices in settling the contest, at the same time
giving warning that American patience was about
at an end. Seftor Sagasta, the head of a new
Liberal ministry, replied that Spain was about
to grant the Cubans the right of self-government
under Spanish sovereignty. The brutal Weyler
was superseded by General Blanco, the con-
centration order was somewhat modified, and
all American prisoners were released. But the
revolutionists refused to trust Spanish promises,
while the loyalists in the island, in riotous out-
breaks, denounced autonomy and the United
States. Fearing for the safety of Americans in
Havana, Consul-general Fitzhugh Lee asked
for naval protection. Orders were issued for the
North Atlantic squadron to rendezvous at the
Dry Tortugas, only a few hours' sailing from Cuba,



178 RECONSTRUCTION AND UNION

and the second-class battleship Maine was sent
to Havana. To preserve appearances, the Spanish
armored cruiser Vizcaya visited New York. About
this time a letter from the Spanish minister at
Washington, Sefior Dupuy de Lome, in which
he spoke cynically of Spam's grant of self-govern-
ment to Cuba and disrespectfully of McKinley,
was published in the American press and re-
sulted in his resignation.

The tension between the two countries, already
high, was soon increased well-nigh to the break-
ing point by a tragic incident. On the night of
February 15th, the Maine, at anchor in Havana
harbor, was blown up by an explosion, resulting
in the death of 266 American seamen. Public
indignation in the United States was intense,
for it was generally believed that the tragedy was
due to dastardly treachery, and there was a deep
desire for vengeance. An American court of in-
quiry reported that the disaster had been caused
by an external explosion; a Spanish court that
the explosion was an internal one.

The pressure of the war party upon congress
and the president now became irresistible. Con-
gress appropriated $50,000,000 "as an emergency
fund for the national defence." War vessels,
guns, and other munitions were purchased abroad.
Certain European states endeavored to intervene
in behalf of Spain, but the attempt was frustrated
by the attitude of Great Britain; it ended hi a
mere tender of friendly offices. On the 19th of
April, the anniversary of Lexington and Concord,
congress adopted a joint resolution declaring
Cuba free and independent and authorizing the



THE WHITE MAN'S BURDEN 179

president to force Spain to relinquish her sover-
eignty. A formal declaration of war followed
six days later.

Volunteers were called for, but it was evident
that in the coming conflict sea-power would play
the decisive part. On paper the two navies were
apparently about equal in strength. Continental
sympathizers with Spain affected to believe that
the Spanish fleets would sweep the seas. But the
new American navy, begun in the administration
of Arthur, contained some splendid vessels,
manned by officers and men filled with the tra-
ditions of a service that had produced a Paul
Jones, a Decatur, a Macdonough, a Perry, two
Porters, and a Farragut. Partly through the
energetic preparations of a strenuous assistant-
secretary, who had foreseen the war and under-
stood what was needed, the vessels had been
kept in fighting trim, and the crews had been
trained to use the guns. As a result, the navy
displayed an efficiency that astonished even its
creators and admirers.

The first blow was not long delayed. Commo-
dore George Dewey had for some time been sta-
tioned with a small but highly efficient squadron
at Hong Kong within striking distance of the
Philippine Islands. In obedience to a cablegram
from Washington, he sailed into the harbor of
Manila on the early morning of May Day, and
in a few hours utterly destroyed a much inferior
Spanish fleet without the loss of a man. The
victory put the city of Manila at his mercy, but
he forbore taking it until land forces could
arrive from the United States. While waiting,



180 RECONSTRUCTION AND UNION

he blockaded the city, suffering meantime some
vexatious annoyances from the too officious
behavior of a German fleet. Sufficient troops were
hastily sent from the United States, and on the
13th of August, with some assistance from the
natives, who had risen in revolt against the
Spaniards, the Americans took the city. Spanish
rule in the Orient was at an end.

Meanwhile even more decisive events had been
taking place in and around Cuba. With the
first outbreak of war, a powerful squadron under
Acting-admiral Sampson had blockaded Havana
and other ports of the island, while a "Flying


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Online LibraryPaul Leland HaworthReconstruction and union, 1865-1912 → online text (page 11 of 20)