Paul Leland Haworth.

Reconstruction and union, 1865-1912 online

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many negroes. Yet throughout his term of
office his influence with the people remained the
despair of his enemies.

During these four years the government se-
cured the conviction of numerous shippers and
railroads for rebating, and practically broke
up the practice. One great disappointment was



REVOLT AGAINST PLUTOCRACY 229

experienced. The powerful Standard Oil Company
was convicted in a Federal court of repeated
violations of the anti-rebate law, and Judge
Kenesaw M. Landis inflicted (1907) the extreme
penalty of the law a fine of $29,240,000. But
the case was carried to higher courts, and the
company escaped on a technicality. This and
similar miscarriages of justice roused bitter
criticisms of the courts and system of jurispru-
dence which culminated in some Western states
in a movement favoring a constitutional provi-
sion for the "recall" of unsatisfactory judges.

In 1907 actions were begun to dissolve both the
Standard Oil Company and the American To-
bacco Company. After four years of tedious
litigation the Supreme Court decreed that both
companies were guilty of violating the Sherman
Act. But the order of dissolution was in some
respects so perfunctory that many people believed
the public would derive little benefit from it;
that the trusts in question would " merely change
their clothes." By reading the word "unreason-
able" into the statute the court also brought
upon itself the charge of emasculating the law by
"judicial legislation." A few months after these
decisions were handed down the Taft adminis-
tration brought suit against the United States
Steel Corporation, which hitherto had enjoyed
immunity from prosecution. In both radical and
conservative circles it was felt, however, that the
Sherman Act was unsatisfactory and ought to be
repealed or amended. Many economists believed
that efforts to break up the great combinations
ran counter to natural business evolution; they



230 RECONSTRUCTION AND UNION

held that control by the Federal government was
the rightful remedy.

Roosevelt's greatest victory in the way of
reform legislation was won during the long session
of the fifty-ninth congress. With the aid of many
Democrats, and after a bitter fight, he secured
the passage of a pure food law, a meat inspection
law, and a more stringent railway rate law. The
last-named act increased the membership of the
interstate commerce commission to seven and
fixed their salaries at $10,000 per year. It
authorized the commission to fix a maximum,
just, and reasonable rate of transportation when
the rate in force has been complained of, but
granted to the transportation companies the
right of appeal to the courts. In 1910 a special
commerce court was created to deal with such
cases. The act forbade rebates under heavy pen-
alties. Pipe-lines, sleeping-car companies, and
express companies were declared common carriers
and were made subject to the law. The act also
forbade the granting of passes to any except
specified classes of persons and thereby struck a
blow at a custom whereby railroads had managed
covertly to influence the action of public officers,
including even judges. The president failed, how-
ever, to obtain a reduction of the Philippine tariff
and an act requiring railroads and other corpora-
tions doing interstate business to obtain Federal
charters.

Popular support in favor of such measures
was increased by repeated disclosures of the
nefarious operations of "Big Business." In
New York a joint-committee of the legislature



REVOLT AGAINST PLUTOCRACY 231

revealed grave mismanagement in the affairs of
certain great mutual life insurance companies.
It appeared that some of the companies had
contributed large sums to the Republican cam-
paign fund and that they were in the habit of
using stockholders' money to influence legislation
and the press. Gross favoritism existed in ap-
pointments and salaries, and the chief officers
were guilty of manipulating company funds
for their own private advantage. Subsequently
it was asserted that Senator Foraker of Ohio,
Senator Bailey of Texas, Governor Haskell of
Oklahoma, and other public officers had accepted
large sums of money from the Standard Oil Com-
pany or other monopolies under circumstances
which, to say the least, showed gross indelicacy
on their part. These and other disclosures went
far to justify radical charges of dishonesty in the
management of great business enterprises. The
insurance revelations resulted in the enaction in
1907 of a national law prohibiting corporations
from contributing to campaign funds.

Throughout his presidency Roosevelt devoted
much attention to the public domain. He secured
the reclamation of vast areas of arid lands by
irrigation, and he did much to build up the nation's
forest reserves, adding at one time 17,000,000
acres to such reserves. In public speeches and in
messages to Congress he urged the desirability
of conserving natural resources and the retention
of mineral wealth and water-power sites in public
hands. The public lands had long been a prey to
sharks of every sort, but a stop was put to their
activities by the conviction and punishment of



232 RECONSTRUCTION AND UNION

one United States senator, two congressmen,
and many smaller thieves. Thoughtful men
had long realized the desirability of conserving
our natural resources against the criminal waste
that had so long obtained, and the conservation
movement enlisted powerful support in all parties.

In August, 1906, a rebellion broke out in Cuba
against the Palma administration. The movement
quickly became so formidable that Palma, feeling
himself unable to protect life and property, re-
quested the United States to intervene under the
Platt amendment. After some hesitation Presi-
dent Roosevelt sent Secretary of War Taft and
Acting-secretary of State Bacon to Cuba to in-
vestigate the situation. They found it so bad
that on the 29th of September Taft issued a
proclamation taking temporary possession of
the island in the name of the United States.
Six thousand troops were sent thither as an
army of occupation, and Charles E. Magoon
was appointed provisional governor. Subse-
quently an election was held, and when the new
officers were installed (February 28, 1909), the
United States withdrew a second time from the
island.

About the time the Cuban occupation began,
a strained situation developed between the
United States and Japan. The old hostility to
Orientals had again flamed up on the Pacific
coast, and the San Francisco school authorities
excluded Japanese children from the white
schools, while mobs mistreated adult Japanese
on the streets and attacked their shops. Japan
protested against the school order (October, 1906),



REVOLT AGAINST PLUTOCRACY 233

and President Roosevelt sent the secretary of
commerce and labor to San Francisco to make an
investigation. As it was doubtful whether the
Federal government had power to interfere in the
affair, the president used moral suasion upon the
San Francisco authorities, who consented to
withdraw the segregating order provided the
president would take steps to prevent the further
introduction of Japanese laborers into the country.
Roosevelt also used his influence with the governor
and legislature of the state to prevent the passage
of anti-Japanese legislation. The sensational press
greatly increased the tension by insisting that
the two nations were on the verge of war. Ulti-
mately the trouble was settled amicably, but in
December, 1907, the president judged it expedient
to send the most powerful fleet ever gathered
under the American flag on a cruise around the
world. As the fleet first proceeded to Pacific
waters and touched at Japanese ports, most
people believed that the demonstration was
intended as a warning to Japan and other powers
that America was ready.

President Roosevelt naturally desired to be
succeeded by a man who would carry out his
policies. The pressure upon him to stand for a
re-election proved tremendous, but he resolutely
withstood it and lent his support to the candidacy
of William H. Taft. As governor of the Philip-
pines and secretary of war, Taft had made an
enviable record for himself as a subordinate, and
many believed that he would do well in a position
where he could make policies as well as carry
them out. There existed no great enthusiasm



234 RECONSTRUCTION AND UNION

for Taft personally, but his candidacy was fur-
thered by the use of large sums of money fur-
nished by his family and by the political influence
of the administration. The latter was undoubt-
edly the determining factor, for the progressive
elements of the party generally supported Taft
merely upon Roosevelt's recommendation. An
anecdote of the times hits off well the actual facts
in the case. It represented a graduate of Yale,
Taft's alma mater, talking to a graduate of Har-
vard, the institution at which Roosevelt was edu-
cated. Said the Yale man: "This is a Yale year.
We've got the president." "Yes," retorted the
Harvard man, "but he had splendid Harvard
interference."

The Democrats, meeting at Denver, renomi-
nated Bryan for the third time, with John W.
Kern of Indiana for the vice-presidency. Roosevelt
had stolen so much "Democratic thunder" that
there was little conflict of principles between the
two parties, and the campaign proved a listless
one. In the light of subsequent events, the most
important feature of the campaign was the pledge
of the Republican platform to revise the tariff.
In several speeches Taft explained that this
meant revision downward. The election resulted
in a Republican victory. Taft received 321 elec-
toral votes, Bryan only 162.

Upon his retirement from the presidency
Roosevelt departed for a hunting trip into the
wilds of East Africa, and for once it was the set-
ting, not the rising, sun that received most popular
attention. As president, Roosevelt had accom-
plished a great deal of constructive work, but



REVOLT AGAINST PLUTOCRACY 235

undoubtedly his main achievement was that of
rousing the American people to the problems
of the day. For the fruition of his labors much
depended upon his successor.

President Taft's administration quickly proved
disappointing to those persons who* had been
most ardent in securing his nomination and
election. Soon after his inauguration, in com-
pliance with a campaign pledge, he called a
special session of congress to revise the tariff.
The announcement roused great expectations
among reformers. Under Roosevelt railway re-
bates, one of the two chief props to trusts and
monopolies, had been removed; and it now was
hoped that the other prop, the protective tariff,
would at least be weakened. But as usual in such
cases, the protected interests sent swarms of
agents to Washington to urge high duties, while
few persons presented themselves to speak for the
consumer. A decided rift quickly appeared in the
Republican ranks. The "Progressives" or "In-
surgents," for the most part followers of Roose-
velt, advocated genuine tariff revision, among
their leaders being Senators La Follette of Wis-
consin, Cummins of Iowa, Beveridge of Indiana,
Bourne of Oregon, and Bristow of Kansas, and
Representatives Norris of Nebraska, Murdock
of Kansas, and Hayes of California. The Pro-
gressives had strong popular support and ex-
pected aid from Taft, but he, instead of swinging
his predecessor's "Big Stick," seemed, in the
main, to hold with the "Stand-pat" machine,
headed by Senator Aldrich and Speaker Cannon.
The result was that the Payne-Aldrich Bill, as



236 RECONSTRUCTION AND UNION

finally passed by congress and signed by the
president, lowered duties so little that thousands
of Republicans were unable to accept the meas-
ure as an honest redemption of the party's pledge.
In some cases duties were openly increased, while
in others seeming reductions were nullified by re-
classifications and other underhand devices. A
praiseworthy feature of the act was that it con-
siderably lowered the tariff rates between the
United States and the Philippines. Taft ad-
mitted that the wool schedule was indefensible,
but defended the bill as a whole as the best
tariff ever enacted. He had few followers except
among the protected interests.

A scandal in ihe department of the interior
served to widen the rift in the party. At the
head of that department the president had placed
Richard Achilles Ballinger, a Seattle lawyer
whose sympathies with Roosevelt's conservation
policy appear to have been conspicuous by their
absence. Ballinger restored to entry large tracts
of land containing valuable power sites, and dis-
missed from the service three officers who op-
posed his course concerning certain questionable
Alaskan coal claims, for the owners of which he
had once acted as attorney. Among Ballinger's
critics were ex-Secretary of the Interior Garfield
and Gifford Pinchot. Pinchot was a gentleman
of large wealth who had studied forestry abroad
and introduced the first systematic work of the
kind ever attempted in the United States. In
1898 he became chief of the forest service (then
the division of forestry) and by disinterested and
efficient work won a high place in the public



REVOLT AGAINST PLUTOCRACY 237

confidence. Both he and Garfield were close
friends of ex-President Roosevelt. Public sym-
pathy was generally with Pinchot in the contro-
versy, yet Taft dismissed him from the service
and insisted upon retaining Ballinger. A major-
ity of a congressional investigating committee
brought in a report "whitewashing" Ballinger,
but many uncomfortable facts concerning the
affair and Ballinger 's previous career were brought
to light; the pressure of public opinion continued
so strong that at last Ballinger resigned. By
his course in the matter Taft alienated many
supporters, yet he remained a friend to conserva-
tion. To the vacancies created by the retirement
of Pinchot and Ballinger he appointed men who
were enthusiastic conservationists. He also se-
cured legislation to safeguard the movement, and
withdrew from entry many million acres of water
power sites, and coal, phosphate, and petroleum
lands. By December, 1910, the existing with-
drawals totaled 91,000,000 acres.

The new tariff act and the Ballinger scandal
provoked a great outcry. There also existed much
dissatisfaction with the conduct of affairs in the
house of representatives, where a knot of con-
servatives, headed by Speaker Joseph G. Cannon,
had long ruled with a high hand. Cannon was
a picturesque representative from the Danville
district of Illinois, much given to the use of pro-
fanity and fine cut tobacco. He had at one time
been highly popular and had won the nickname
of "Uncle Joe," but the people had come to be-
lieve that he represented extremely conservative,
if not predatory, interests. A somewhat similar



238 RECONSTRUCTION AND UNION

state of affairs obtained in the senate, where the
chief power was Senator Nelson W. Aldrich of
Rhode Island. Aldrich had long been regarded
as a rank conservative, and popular confidence
in him was not increased by the fact that he was
the father-in-law of the son of John D. Rocke-
feller. In the sixty-first congress, Progressive or
Insurgent representatives and senators fought
to overturn the Stand-pat oligarchies. President
Taft lent his support to the Stand-patters, and
in the interest of party solidarity even wielded
the patronage club against the Progressives.
Nevertheless, hi March, 1910, the Progressive
representatives, aided by the Democrats, wrested
control from the speaker and circumscribed
his authority. Progressive senators also suc-
ceeded in weakening the power of the senate
oligarchy.

Popular discontent with the party in power
was strongly reflected in the elections of 1910.
The Democrats carried Massachusetts, Connecti-
cut, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, and
other states that in recent years had ordinarily
been Republican and won a large majority in
the house of representatives. The election and
the nominating conventions and primaries that
preceded it retired many Stand-pat Republicans
to private life, but, in general, the Insurgents
were strikingly successful. The election was
interpreted as a signal rebuke to the administration
and the reactionary forces that had controlled
congress. Ex-President Roosevelt participated
in the campaign, but he sedulously refrained
from indorsing the administration, and usually



REVOLT AGAINST PLUTOCRACY 239

confined his efforts to supporting Insurgent
candidates. Even his great popularity proved
unequal to saving New York to the Republicans.
A significant feature of the election was the enor-
mous Socialist vote. For the first time a Social-
ist, Victor L. Berger of Milwaukee, won a seat
in congress. Undoubtedly, however, the party
was not yet so strong as it seemed. The Socialist
mayor of a Western town well characterized the
true situation when he said that twenty per cent
of the vote he received was Socialistic and eighty
per cent protest.

The result of the election was not lost upon
President Taft. The Payne-Aldrich Act had
created a tariff board to assist the president in
applying certain maximum and minimum pro-
visions of the act. Taft obtained further appro-
priations for this board and set it to work collecting
information against a future attempt to revise
the tariff. He also carried through negotiations
for a reciprocity agreement with Canada. The
agreement was bitterly opposed by a portion of
the farming interest, for farmers believed that
it took from them most of their effective protection
without relieving them from the high duties on
goods which they consumed. Manufacturers also
inclined to oppose it because they feared it would
prove an entering wedge for further tariff changes.
The sixty -first congress expired before the senate
took any action upon the agreement, and Taft
called a special session of the new congress to con-
sider it. Largely through the aid of Democratic
votes he managed to obtain his wish. When the
Democrats and Progressive Republicans united,



240 RECONSTRUCTION AND UNION

however, to pass a farmers' free list bill and a bill
lowering the excessive duties on wool and woolen
goods, the president vetoed both measures.
Canada later unexpectedly rejected the reci-
procity agreement. The mountain had labored
without bringing forth even a mouse.

The early weeks of 1912 found political condi-
tions more chaotic than for many years. Through-
out the country, and especially in the West, the
people were striving to secure a more effective con-
trol over public affairs by adopting such devices as
primary elections, the initiative and referendum,
and the recall of unsatisfactory officers. In both
the old parties there existed a progressive and a
reactionary wing, and it was questionable whether
mere names could much longer hold together
things which were unlike. In congress Progressive
Republicans openly acted with the Democrats on
such matters as tariff legislation, while conserva-
tive Democrats secretly aided the Stand-pat Re-
publicans. President Taft had failed to retain
the confidence of a large section of his party,
Senator La Follette early began a campaign for
the Republican nomination, and there arose a
widespread demand for the return of Roosevelt.
In February, in reply to a joint appeal from seven
Republican governors, the ex-president indicated
that be would accept a renomihation. Among the
Democrats the leading candidates seemed to be
Governor Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey, Gov-
ernor Judson Harmon of Ohio, and Speaker
Champ Clark of Missouri; but the outcome was
doubtful, with the nomination of some "favorite
son" or "dark horse" not improbable.



REVOLT AGAINST PLUTOCRACY 241

The results of the census of 1910 served to
emphasize the fact that the United States of
to-day is not the United States of 1865. Its total
area has increased over 700,000 square miles, and
its population of 101,100,000, including Alaska
and the insular possessions, is almost treble the
number who welcomed the peace that closed the
great civil conflict. Vast areas in the West which
were then without a single white inhabitant have
since been won from the Indians and from the
desert for civilized settlement. The population
in 1870 of the region west of the Mississippi,
excluding the older states of Texas, Iowa, Mis-
souri, and Arkansas, and parts of Minnesota and
Louisiana, was only a million and a half; to-day
it is upwards of thirteen millions.

Throughout the period a decided drift to the
cities took place. The percentage of urban dwell-
ers in 1870 was only 20.9; it had increased to 46.3
in 1910. During the last decade many rural
districts actually decreased in population. The
desire to live in cities, however, was diminishing.
Better roads, rural mail delivery, the telephone,
and other factors rendered country life more
attractive. A growing desire for a simpler and
more open-air existence, a realization of the truth
of the old adage that "God made the country
and man the town" caused many people to heed
the slogan "Back to the farm!"

Statistics show that the very blood of the nation
is changing. Irish, Germans, and English formed
most of the tide which flowed through Castle
Garden in the ante-bellum period. People of
these races continued to come, but in the '70s



242 RECONSTRUCTION AND UNION

and '80s emigrants from other nations began to
set their faces westward in large numbers. Nor-
wegians, Swedes, and Danes made up a large
part of the swarm that settled the Dakotas and
other Northwestern states. Later more southerly
peoples Russian Jews, Poles, Hungarians, Ital-
ians, Greeks, and Syrians flocked in, and too
often added to the congestion of population in
metropolitan centers. During the decade 1900-10
the number of immigrants from the polyglot
Austro-Hungarian Empire increased 1,021,732; of
Italians, 857,837; of Russians (mostly Jews, Finns,
and Poles), 999,228; of Greeks, from 8,513 to
101,100. During the same period the number
of Irish decreased 263,832, and of Germans,
314,213. New York City is perhaps the most
cosmopolitan city in the world. It contains more
Jews than ever lived in Jerusalem except during
the feast of the Passover, more persons of German
extraction than reside in any German city except
Berlin, more people of Irish blood than inhabit
Dublin. About two-thirds of its inhabitants are
of foreign parentage. A similar situation on a
smaller scale obtains in Chicago and elsewhere.

In prosperous times the horde which in a single
year enters New York harbor exceeds the total
number of the West Gothic nation which in 376
began the Barbarian migrations into the Roman
Empire. The influx is so prodigious that some
thinkers fear that just as Rome fell because there
ceased to be any real Romans, so America will fall
because there will cease to be any true Americans.
Most of the immigrants are poor, most are ignorant,
many come from nations having widely different



REVOLT AGAINST PLUTOCRACY 243

social and political customs, and to fuse them all
into Americans has tested even the capacity of the
greatest "melting pot" the world has known.

Undoubtedly the salvation of the country
from the deluge has been its system of public
schools, the development of which is one of the
marvels of the age, equaling the wonderful story
of steam and electricity. Higher education has
also progressed rapidly, and there are more
college graduates to-day than there were high-
school graduates in 1865. Fifty years ago most
colleges and universities were little more than
academies; graduate work was not even at-
tempted. There are now dozens of well-equipped
institutions that bestow the higher degrees. In
fact, there seems almost to be danger of over-
doing such work, and a witty Harvard professor
remarked not long ago that there will come a
time in the United States when there will be a
new order of mendicant monks, and their name
shall be Doctors of Philosophy!

Printing and publishing have kept pace with
education. The voice of the printing press is
never stilled. A mere list of the periodicals pub-
lished in the United States, with a few facts
concerning the management, circulation, etc. of
each, fills a great book of 982 pages. The develop-
ment of the magazine has been especially rapid.
One volume of 1,442 pages sufficed for the titles
of articles and stories published down to 1882;
the years 1905-09 alone required one of 2,491
pages. 1 Books, too, fall from the press like


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Online LibraryPaul Leland HaworthReconstruction and union, 1865-1912 → online text (page 15 of 20)