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Tilden wrote his letter."

It is a custom of politicians to assert that each election
is the most important ever known, but the campaign


of 1896 not only was one of the most important in Amer-
ican history but one of the most compHcated and un-
usual in the history of political parties in the United
States. The Republicans planned to fight the political
battle on the protective tariff issue, but were forced to
conduct a campaign of education on the currency ques-
tion. Party lines were broken and the West and South
generally speaking were arrayed against the East, and
favored the free coinage of silver at the ratio of 16 to 1.

The Vermont Republican League met at Montpelier
on April 28, about three hundred delegates being pres-
ent. Speeches were delivered by Senator John M.
Thurston of Nebraska and Congressman R. Z. Linney
of North Carolina. Senator Thurston was a native of
Vermont, and had married a niece of Judge Poland.

The Republican State Convention met at Montpelier
the following day, April 29, and was addressed by Sena-
tor Thurston. A motion made by J. K. Darling of
Chelsea that all resolutions should be submitted to the
committee on resolutions without debate, met with vig-
orous opposition. James L. Martin of Brattleboro
moved to amend the motion by excepting any resolution
relating to Presidential preferences, and the amendment
was carried. Hugh Henry of Chester then offered the
following resolution: "While we recognize the prece-
dent which has heretofore sent our delegates to national
conventions without tying their hands with positive in-
structions, and would not break that precedent, yet we
feel we would be untrue representatives of those who
sent us here did we fail to give voice to their convic-
tions. Therefore, b.c it Resolved, That in the great


apostle of American protection, William McKinley of
Ohio, we recognize the first choice of the Republicans of
V'ermont for their Presidential candidate." This reso-
lution was greeted with great cheering. It was seconded
by George E. Lawrence of Rutland, was vigorously sup-
ported by Kittredge Haskins of Brattleboro, R. O.
Sturtevant of Swanton and others, and was adopted
without serious opposition.

The delegates-at-large elected were Redfield Proctor
of Proctor, Dr. H. D. Holton of ^rattleboro. Col. E. C.
Smith of St. Albans and Charles A. Prouty of Newport.
In the First district, James B. Scully of Burlington was
elected by a vote of 145 to 72 cast for Dr. W. N. Piatt
of Shoreham, and O. M. Barber of Bennington also
was elected. The Second district delegates chosen were
James W. Brock of Montpelier and Victor I. Spear of
Randolph. The platform favored a protective tariff,
and on the currency declared: "The Republicans of
V^ermont are unalterably opposed to any scheme that
will give to this country a depreciated or debased cur-
rency. We are, therefore, opposed to the free coinage
of silver, except by international agreement, and until so
established we believe that the present monetary stand-
ard should be honorably maintained. The continued
agitation for the free coinage of silver retards the
return of confidence and prosperity, stands in the way of
beneficial legislation, and is in every respect harmful to
the best interests of the whole country."

It had been supposed that Vermont would support
Thomas B. Reed of Maine. One month before the con-
vention it was generally conceded that Reed delegates


would be chosen. A strong sentiment for McKinley,
however, swept over the State. It was not a manufac-
tured sentiment but a spontaneous movement. At a
meeting held the night before the convention, Gen. J. G.
McCullough and Senator John M. Thurston sounded out
the delegates and found that apparently a majority
favored McKinley. During the night the McKinley
leaders canvassed the situation and made plans to carry
the convention. The Reed men vainly tried to stem the
rising tide of McKinley enthusiasm.

The First District Convention adopted resolutions
expressing the hope "that the nominee of the Republican
National Convention may be that distinguished states-
man and ideal American, William McKinley of Ohio."

The news of the McKinley victory in Vermont created
consternation in the Reed camp. Senator Proctor was
accused of unfair political methods. He explained that
he had not attempted in the least to influence the delega-
tion. He had expected that the State would support
Reed, and if the convention had been held one month or
six weeks earlier probably it would have elected Reed
delegates. As soon as he arrived in Vermont he found
a strong McKinley sentiment, not only in the larger
towns and cities, but in the small towns, outside the
ordinary channels of communication. Congressman
Powers was strongly in favor of Reed but Morristown
elected as his associates on the delegation to the State
Convention, four strong McKinley men and the Ohio
Governor was endorsed by a vote of four to one. Mark
Hanna, McKinley's political lieutenant, declared that the
news of W'rmont's preference for McKinley, practically



settled the endorsement of the Ohio candidate by the
Illinois convention.

The Democratic State Convention of 18% nomi-
nated Dr. J. n. Jackson of Barre for ("iovcrnor and
elected as delegates-at-large to the National Convention
Thomas W. Moloney of Rutland, Wells Valentine of
Bennington, S. C. Shurtleff of Montpelier and P. J. Far-
rell of Newport. The district delegates chosen were:
First District — Michael Magiff of St. Albans, John W.
McGeary of Burlington; Second District — W. H.
Creamer of Bethel, W. H. Miner of Brattleboro.

The platform commended President Cleveland's ad-
ministration, favored a local option-license law instead
of prohibition, and declared : "We demand the mainte-
nance of the gold standard of value as being in the
true interest of all our people, and especially those who
are obliged to labor for what they receive, and we are
opposed to the free coinage of silver except by interna-
tional agreement." An attempt to substitute a free sil-
ver plank was laid on the table, only a few votes being
cast in favor of the amendment.

The declaration of the Republican party of the Nation
nn the currency question was quite as important as the
nomination of candidates. During the week before the
assembling of the convention Senator Proctor, Henry
C. Payne, member of the Republican National Committee
for Wisconsin, H. H. Kohlsaat, proprietor of the
Chicago Record-Herald, Ex-Gov. William R. Merriam
of Minnesota, Melville E. Stone, manager of the Asso-
ciated Press, and Myron T. Herrick of Ohio, held almost
continuous sessions at the McKinley headquarters at


Chicago, in an effort to formulate a satisfactory currency
plank. Senator Proctor supported a straight declara-
tion for a gold standard, the words "the standard of
most enlightened nations of the world"" being inserted at
his suggestion. The plank as prepared by this commit-
tee was approved by Governor McKinley, accepted by
the Committee on Resolutions, so far as the gold stand-
ard was concerned, and was adopted by the Convention
without change.

The friends of McKinley asked Senator Proctor to
act as temporary chairman of the National Convention,
but he declined in favor of Senator Thurston of
Nebraska. The Vermont delegates supported Governor
McKinley for President and Garret A. Hobart of New
Jersey for Vice President. Senator Proctor's name was
considered for the position of Chairman of the National
Committee, but he felt that his health was not equal to
the strain. He took charge of the campaign on the
Pacific Coast and harmonized the discordant elements so
successfully that McKinley carried both California and

The Republican campaign for the Governorship nom-
ination was very closely contested by the friends oi Maj.
Josiah Grout of Derby and Speaker W. W. Stickney of
Ludlow. Every one of the six hundred and seventy-five
delegates attended the State Convention held at Bur-
lington on June 17, 1896. Grout was nominated, receiv-
ing 339 votes, 336 being cast for Stickney. The plat-
form denounced the free coinage of silver. Nelson W.
Fisk of Isle Tva Motte was nominated for Lieutenant
Governor by acclamation.


There was a bitter fight in the Democratic National
Convention between the Gold and the Free Silver Demo-
crats, in which it was soon evident that the Silver men
were in control. The Vermont delegates supported the
Ciold element in the party, favoring amendments to the
])latform hostile to free silver, which were voted down,
and supporting David B. Hill of New York for tem-
porary chairman. After the adoption of the platform,
containing a free silver plank, four Vermont delegates
refused to take part. These men were Messrs. Farrell,
Valentine, Creamer and John W. Gordon of Barre — who
acted as alternate for W. H. Miner. Four Vermont
delegates, Messrs. Moloney, McGeary, Magifif and
Shurtlefif, voted for William J. Bryan of Nebraska as
the party's Presidential candidate, until he was nomi-
nated on the fifth ballot. The four Vermonters who
voted for Bryan were given an ovation, which was led
by the Texas delegation, and the Vermont banner was
the only New England standard carried around the con-
vention hall in the enthusiastic procession which followed
the nomination of the Nebraska orator.

The four Vermont delegates voting supported John
R. McLean of Ohio for Vice Presidential candidate on
the first ballot, Richard P. Bland of Missouri on the
second and third ballots, and Mr. McLean on the fourth
and fifth ballots.

A bolting Democratic Convention w^as held at Bellows
Falls on August 18. with P. M. Meldon of Rutland as
chairman, and the following delegates were elected to
attend the National Convention of the National (Gold)
Democratic party: W. H. Creamer of Bethel, John W.


Gordon of Barre, Wells Valentine of Bennington, P. M.
Meldon of Rutland, A. P. Childs of Bennington, E. F.
Brooks of Brattleboro, Elisha May of St. Johnsbury
and Henry Gillette of Richmond. Some of the most
prominent Democrats of the State were affiliated with
this party. Two of the delegates elected, Messrs.
Creamer and Valentine, attended the National Conven-
tion held at Indianapolis, September 2-3, and supported
Gen. John M. Palmer as the party's candidate for

A mass State Convention of the Peoples' party nomi-
nated a State ticket headed by the name of Joseph Bat-
tell of Middlebury as a candidate for Governor.

An active campaign was waged in Vermont. One of
the features of the national contest was a vigorous letter,
written by Hon. Edward J. Phelps, to Col. G. G. Bene-
dict, editor of the Burlington Free Press, in which this
distinguished Democrat attacked the free silver doctrine,
and announced that he would support the Republican
State and National tickets, although he was not, and
never expected to be, a member of that party. The
Republicans sent well known orators into the State and
at a rally held at Burlington on August 25 the speakers
included Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts,
Senator John M. Thurston of Nebraska, Senator Red-
field Proctor of Vermont and Ex-Senator George F.
Edmunds of Vermont.

A total vote of nearly seventy thousand was cast for
Crovernor, as follows: Grout, 53,426; Jackson, 14,855;
Joseph Battell (Populist), 831; Rodney Whittemore
(Pro.), 753; scattering, 55. The Republican vote was


considerably larger, and the Democratic vote was some-
what smaller than usual.

A feature of the campaign of 1896 was the visits of
Republican delegations to Canton, Ohio, the home of
William McKinley, the party's candidate for President.
Vermont's Republican majority in the September elec-
tion was so large that the proposal to organize an expe-
dition in this State to visit Canton was favorably re-
ceived. T. M. Deal and C. S. Forbes of St. Albans,
E. R. Morse of Proctor and L. Bart Cross of Montpelier
acted as a committee of arrangements. A special train
was chartered and left Vermont on the evening of Wed-
nesday, September 9. The train was decorated with
mottoes and portraits of McKinley and Hobart. A ban-
ner extending the entire length of a car bore the words,
"Vermont to Ohio" and on the front of the engine was
a sign board on which was painted the inscription, "Ver-
mont for McKinley, 39,000." The St. Albans Glee Club
and the St. Albans Brigade Band accompanied the dele-
gation. Among the prominent Vermonters who made
the trip were Senator Proctor, Congressman Powers,
Governor Woodbury, Lieutenant Governor Mansur,
Governor-elect Grout, Lieutenant Governor-elect Fisk,
Ex-Governor Ormsbee, Chairman Olin Merrill of the
Republican State Committee, Col. George T. Childs,
member of the Republican National Committee, State
Superintendent of Education Mason S. Stone, and many

The train was enthusiastically greeted along the route.
The Vermonters marched through the crowded streets
of Canton to the McKinley residence. Chairman Olin


Merrill addressed Governor McKinley, stating that the
plurality of thirty-nine thousand was ten thousand larger
than any given before in the history of gubernatorial
elections in Vermont, and he gave credit to patriotic
Democrats for their aid. Colonel Childs also addressed
the party candidate.

In his response Governor McKinley said in part : "I
give you welcome, generous welcome, from an overflow-
ing heart, to my State, my city and my home. It would be
unjust to my own feelings, and irresponsive to the kind
sentiments uttered by your spokesmen, if I permitted to
pass unobserved the fact that in the preliminary contest
for the nomination of President, the State of Vermont
gave me her united vote. The Green Mountain State
is endeared to us all by tradition and history, in song and
story, but above all in good work manifest in glorious
results. Whether in the days of the Revolution, when
her hardy mountaineers repulsed the best soldiers of
Europe; in the days of the Rebellion, when her soldiers
displayed the same resolute courage at Big Bethel,
Crampton's Gap, Savage's Station or Gettysburg, or in
the no less important and decisive conflicts in civil life,
the people of Vermont have always been true to the best
ideals and highest obligations of duty; and active, dis-
tinguished and useful in every great emergency. No
one will deny to them a glorious part in achieving the
independence of the Colonies. None will question that
they did much to check the aggressions of human slav-
ery, and in the final triumph of the Union in the hour
of its greatest peril. Nor in our later trials will any
doubt that the example and voice of Vermont have


always been most potential on the side of justice, honor
and right."

After discussing campaign issues, he said in closing:
"Citizens of Vermont, I congratulate you on the
example and courage of the Green Mountain Boys who
fought at Bennington and Gettysburg. The long line of
eminent and worthy men who have contributed to the
national galaxy; the great worth of your present dis-
tinguished public servants both in State and National
councils ; the many great names you have given to litera-
ture, arts and sciences, and especially to mechanics and
inventions. But of all, I congratulate you upon the high
character, not only of the population you have sent to
other States, but of that which you have kept at home.
Your devotion to your best interests, your love of liberty
and the enlightened principles of free government, your
love of social order and respect for law, comes to us of
the newer States a most gracious inspiration and positive
strength. No poor words of mine could express the debt
of gratitude I feel is so richly due you in the pending
contest. Your acts speak louder than words and point
the way to grander results. You have set the pace;
you have lifted up the standard of public honor. I
appreciate most highly your call upon me at such discom-
fort and trouble; but I value far more the proud services
you have rendered your country in this emergency in our

Almost every sentence of the speech was applauded
and at its close there was tremendous cheering. The
St. Albans Glee Club then sang a song composed by
Stephen E. Royce of St. Albans, entitled "We Want


You McKinley, Yes We Do." After the singing, Sena-
tor Proctor introduced the visiting Vermonters to Gov-
ernor McKinley on the historic porch of his Canton
home. Mrs. McKinley sat at a window and was an in-
terested spectator of the proceedings. She was pre-
sented with a case of Vermont butter, molded in the
form of a cross of gold, and bearing in relief the por-
traits of McKinley and Hobart. The party left Canton
at eleven o'clock in the forenoon and reached St. Albans,
on the return trip, Saturday forenoon. On the way
home a Vermont McKinley Club was organized.

Josiah Grout was born at Compton, Que., May 28,
1841, and with his father's family removed to Vermont
in 1848. He was educated in the public schools and at
Glover and St. Johnsbury Academies. For a few
months he travelled in Kentucky and Wisconsin as a
book agent. The future Governor was attending St.
Johnsbury Academy in the fall of 1861 when Governor
Fairbanks addressed a war meeting in the town hall.
Young Grout decided to enlist and informed the principal
of his decision, after which he walked five miles to con-
sult with his father, who reluctantly gave consent. The
next day he walked to Danville to enlist, but found that
the company was full. He continued his walk to Glover,
where he arrived about midnight, only to find that that
company was also full. The next day he walked from
Glover to Barton, where, after a journey of more than
forty miles on foot, he found an opportunity to enlist in
the First Vermont Cavalry. After participating in
seventeen battles he was wounded in an engagement with
Mosby's Confederate troopers, and was compelled to


leave the service. In 1864, following the St. Albans
Raid, he was appointed a Captain and later Major of
the Twenty-sixth New York Cavalry, raised to guard the
northern frontier. After the war he studied law in the
office of his brother, W. W. Grout, and was admitted to
the bar in 1865. He practiced law, aided in publishing
the Barton Standard and in 1866 took charge of the
custom house at Island Pond, remaining in the customs
service six years. After retiring from this position he
opened a law office at Newport. He removed to Chicago
in 1875 and practiced his profession there for three years.
This led him to assume for a client, the management
of a manufacturing business at Moline, 111. He re-
turned to Vermont in 1881 and established his home at
Derby, where he conducted a large farm. In 1905 he
resumed the practice of law at Newport with his son,
Aaron. He represented Newport in the Legislature in
1872 and again in 1874, being chosen Speaker when
H. H. Powers was elected a Supreme Court Judge. In
1880 he took an active part in the Republican campaign
in Illinois and was asked to become a candidate for Con-
gress in the Galesburg district, but declined. After his
return to Vermont he represented Derby in the Legisla-
ture from 1884 to 1888, being chosen .Speaker in 1886
and 1888. He was a Senator from Orleans county in
1892 and in 1904 again represented Derby in the Gen-
eral Assembly.

William A. Lord of Montpelier was elected Speaker.
In his retiring message Governor Woodbury announced
that a permanent camp ground for the National Guard
had been purchased in proximity to the rifle range at


Fort Ethan Allen. He referred to the vigorous attacks
made upon the prohibitory liquor law and expressed the
belief that the Australian ballot law ought to be

Governor Grout in his inaugural address referred to
the evil of double taxation and emphasized the need of
good roads. He declared that the prohibitory law had
"signally aided the cause of temperance." He reported
that there was still some dissatisfaction with the town
system of schools, and advocated the establishment of the
office of Attorney General.

The educational law was amended, permitting towns
to unite in employing a superintendent of schools. A
Board of Normal School Examiners was created and
the sum of five thousand dollars was appropriated an-
nually for each Normal School. The length of a legal
school was fixed at not less than twenty-eight weeks.
A collateral inheritance tax of five per cent was levied
and a city and a town of St. Albans were incorpo-
rated. The Governor was authorized to appoint com-
missioners to encourage Vermonters to exhibit their
products at the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. Reso-
lutions were adopted deploring the death of Ex-Gov-
ernor Fuller.

An interesting feature of this session was the sixth
consecutive election of Mr. Morrill as United States
Senator, at the age of eighty-six years. He received
every vote cast in the Senate. In the House he re-
ceived 213 votes, while 17 were cast for Herbert F. Brig-
ham of Bakersfield. In a speech accepting the election,
Senator Morrill said:


"In coming once more before the General Assembly
of Vermont to tender my thanks and appreciation of the
great honor so generously conferred upon me by a re-
election for another term to the United States Senate,
I can only offer the gratitude of a full heart to each and
all the members of the General Assembly for this testi-
monial of confidence and regard. You will readily be-
lieve me when I confess embarrassment from the un-
exampled extension of the trust with the burden which
an acceptance will impose.

"Of course you are not unaware that in length of
Congressional service my twelve years in the House of
Representatives and twenty-nine years in the Senate,
amounting to forty-one years, exceeds that of any other
member of Congress — past or present — that of Senator
Sherman of Ohio, being thirty-seven years and that of
Nathaniel Macon of North Carolina, also thirty-seven
years, from 1791 to 1828.

"The reelection to the United States Senate for a sixth
term, on top of twelve years prior service in the House
being unprecedented, is likely to become historic and I
regret that I have not more to my credit for its justifi-
cation ; but I must be permitted to interpret it as a gen-
eral approval by a beloved State of my record in Con-
gress for many years, on many measures during eras
wdiich are already historic and will forever so remain.
It cannot be construed as the verdict of posterity unless
further service should now be terminated, as the record
w^ould not be finished nor beyond the reach of change
or disfigurement.


''Frankly, permit me to say that I do not at this
moment propose — whatever it may seem proper for me
to do hereafter — to offer any practical proof in refuta-
tion of Jefferson's declaration that office holders seldom
die and never resign. But my time for the present
and such ability as I may possess will be faithfully de-
voted to the high and responsible duties to which you
have assigned me.

"Some imaginative outsider may say that nobody else
in Vermont appears to care for the office. That possibly
might be a slander and yet I believe there are less chronic
office holders proportionately in Vermont than in any
other State of the Union. But, whether there are any
worthy parties who really desire the office or not, I some-
times feel that an apology may seem to be due from me
to several eminent gentlemen with undoubted senatorial
qualifications who may think there is here something too
much of official longevity and that 'Superfluous lags
the vet'ran on the stage.'

"They will, however, soon have the advantage for
whatever it may be worth of the precedent now estab-
lished but, in fact, they should place the responsibility
upon the General Assembly whose action since I be-
came an octogenarian has been spontaneous, certainly
unsolicited, as no member this year nor of six years
ago will charge me with asking for or proposing a pro-
longation of my public service, however highly, in these
last years of my labor, I may have prized the distinction.

"You will forgive me, I hope, for acknowledging that

Online LibraryWalter Hill CrockettVermont, the Green mountain state (Volume 4) → online text (page 17 of 43)