Crimson Banners Fly: The Rise of the American Left

Is it plausible for a Southern Republican to be taken as seriously as a prospective nominee as Evans is being taken here?

Evans ITTL is more respected, at least regionally, for his work to try and help elect Harrison in 96, so I didn't think it was unreasonable to give him some soft regional support and a delegate ceiling around 126. I tried to convey that the delegates started looking for an alternate candidate as the convention dragged on, so when Beveridge won fourth place upon being named for president on the 4th ballot, Evans saw him as a middle-ground choice and dropped out. Evans endorsing Beveridge was important because it cemented the idea that the latter was the only viable non-TR, non-Hanna option left.
 
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Part 2: Chapter V - Page 33 - 1900 DNC
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Convention Hall, July 4th, 1900 - Source: Wiki Commons

On July 4th, the Convention Hall in Kansas City began hosting the Democratic National Convention. Leading Bryan Democrats excitedly awaited the opportunity to broadcast their message of unity and determined reform in contrast to the more divided, decidedly anti-reform Republicans. This, the party of the president, needed to convey the right theme, one entailing hope for the future and resistance to empire, if it sought solid victory that November.

Chairman James Jones brought the arena to order, and following a brief opening prayer allowed for Kansas City Mayor James A. Reed to initiate the ceremonies. Reed discussed the significance of the convention being held on Independence Day, reiterating the Declaration of Independence and reflecting upon the words of Thomas Jefferson, the "...patron saint of Democracy." Framing the mood of the delegates, he continued, "In these days, when we are being told that Jefferson was an expansionist, it is well to [...] recall the fact that the expansion Jefferson believed in was expansion upon American soils. The doctrine of Jefferson was the doctrine, of all the fathers of the Republic. They told us 'That entangling alliances were to be avoided.' [...] The Republican party has latterly, it seemed, concluded to try the experiment of entangling alliances. It longs for standing armies, it pines for a world supremacy."

Mayor Reed proceeded to denounce the Republican platform along with its standard-bearers, Albert Beveridge and Mark Hanna. To this he received thunderous applause. Temporary Chairman Charles Thomas, the governor of Colorado, spoke next. He elaborated on Reed's rejection of GOP expansionism and recalled the merits of a 16-to-1 currency system. Thomas, as well as proceeding speakers, touched on the indefensible nature of private monopolies and trusts, the need to lower the tariff whilst raising an income tax, and the call for state governments across the nation to promptly approve of the proposed constitutional amendment. The final platform of the Democratic Party included hefty planks for all of these significant issues, approved in unison by the pro-Bryan delegates.

Apart from the most fervent anti-imperialist conservatives, Bourbon Democrats were nowhere to be found. Gold Democrats were dismayed by Bryan's insistence on economic reform and bimetallism, and outright refused to take part in the Democratic convention. Some professed a common cause with the president regarding his foreign policy, but the overwhelming majority within this faction stood by Richard Olney's Harper's Weekly statements. To them, the silver issue simply overshadowed all others.


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When the time arrived for nomination, the call was unanimous for William J. Bryan. As all could see, this was no longer the party of Grover Cleveland types, but one rejuvenated with populist tendencies and the tide of reformism. Bryan, as denoted by tradition, did not attend the convention himself. He was stationed at his Lincoln home throughout the proceedings and communicated via telegraph to his colleagues in Kansas City. The president did not believe it wise to repeat his convention antics from four years prior. Alternatively, he consulted with his team of seasoned campaign operatives and developed the strategies which would come to define his 1900 general election romp.

Bryan eventually decided against retaining incumbent Vice President John McLean for a second term. If the Bourbons planned on hitching onto the Beveridge bandwagon, the president required a new component to his 'triple alliance.' Seeing as the Republican Party repudiated Rough Rider Roosevelt, Bryan thought it may serve him well to designate a war hero as the accompanying face on the Democratic ticket. "[Bryan] felt inclined to underline the fact that the War with Spain was no war of conquest," wrote Thomas O'Conner. "It was, therefore, indispensable to bond war patriotism with anti-imperialism. Assuaged by Rear Admiral Sampson and other close friends, a disputably antipathetic Commodore George Dewey responded to the president's call with affirmation.


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Part 2: Chapter VI - Page 34
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President Bryan Election Poster, 1900 - Source: Wiki Commons

Chapter VI: The Election of 1900: Setting Sail for an American Century

President William J. Bryan, now a veteran in national political campaigning, greased the wheels of his electoral organization and prepared to embark on his mission for re-election. Seeking to be one step ahead of the narrative, as early as the spring of 1900 Bryan began conducting a refreshed whistle-stop tour throughout the country. Strategists universally, on all ends of the political spectrum, recognized that this methodology was critical in deciphering how the Nebraskan conquered the Republican machine previously. As such, the president repeated all he had learned. From the East to the Midwest, Bryan recited stump speeches to massive, devoted crowds.

Flexible currency still appealed to a score of indebted farmers and small businessmen in the South and West, as well as within enclaves of Silver Republicans and Populists. In any locations where these demographics were sure to be present, Bryan relayed his call for Free Silver and pledged to make it a reality if granted a compliant Democratic Congress. When it came to the Midwest, however, Bryan knew the silver issue fell on deaf ears. Instead, in more industrialized regions, the president focused on the plight of the laborer and the detriment brought on to the economy by trusts and pools.

At the turn of the century, trusts dominated the market for basic goods like glass, paper, salt, tobacco and steel. Bryan was politically savvy enough to coin the rise of corporate consolidation as a potent threat and, as president, worked to push the popular opinion of trusts closer to his framing. He frequently pointed to the Sulzer-Hepburn Act as a step in the right direction and referred to the now-bolstered Interstate Commerce Commission as proof that he treated the issue seriously. Leaning back into evangelical populism, Bryan remarked, "There can be no good monopoly in private hands until the Almighty sends us angels to preside over the monopoly."

Vice President McLean greatly assisted in boosting Bryan's messaging all throughout the state of Ohio just as he had before. McLean, though likely disappointed that the president chose to nominate Dewey in his place, cordially stayed onboard as an influential consultant on the campaign trail and the go-to figure for press relations. Other leaders in the Bryan camp like Secretaries Stone and Hogg directed regional efforts in their respective home states, Missouri and Texas. Former Vice President Adlai Stevenson volunteered to do the same in Illinois.

Albert Beveridge also learned some lessons from 1896. Frankly appalled by Benjamin Harrison's final, lackluster campaign, the senator looked to engineer a drastically different operation. Like President Bryan, Beveridge spoke at hundreds of events all around the country to directly petition the voters. The Indiana senator also wisely adjusted his speeches to accommodate for demographic differences. With insight from Mark Hanna, the senator built a campaign on “business principles," organizing diverse bureaus appealing to different constituencies: Germans and Irish, Black and White, conservative and liberal. He deployed dozens of proponents across the country who spoke on his behalf and personally distributed tens of millions of pamphlets in different languages.

Both major candidates were athletic orators, but the Republican nominee honed in on a completely distinct audience from the Democrats'. Instead of appealing to populist agitation and fermenting anger at the present system, Beveridge embraced "conservative sensibilities" in his stump speeches. He sought to make clear that even-minded governance and moderate domestic reform, not dramatic changes in the economic system and constant sparing with the legislative branch, would lead to heightened prosperity for all. Having long-since made a name for himself among fellow Republicans as a bonafide American patriot, the star of Indiana was met with crowds of equal enthusiasm to Bryan's.

To his immense fortune, Beveridge too allied with a cadre of similarly gifted speakers. Charles Dawes in Chicago and John Hay in Indiana did well to champion their party's nominee, as did Hanna, albeit exclusively for GOP investors. Once Beveridge confirmed the trusted service of Theodore Roosevelt at the closing of the national convention, he thereby added the crown jewel to his team. The ferocious governor vowed to counter Bryan and the "disgraceful" cause of "Populist Democracy" at every turn, and he did just that, often recounting that the views of the president were "figments of disordered brains."

Roosevelt, in a rather revealing letter to the senator, relayed that the opposition attracted the worst America had to offer. He explained that while the GOP campaign accumulated upstanding patriots in its drive to ensure the revival of "civilized politics," the Democrat gathered "all the lunatics, all the idiots, all the knaves, all the cowards, and all the honest people who are slow-witted [in their] will to ride down the gullet of crackpot communistic and socialistic doctrines." In total agreement with the governor's philosophies, Beveridge, and later the RNC, adopted like-minded anti-Bryan, aggressively patriotic terminology.
 
Part 2: Chapter VI - Page 35
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Depiction of President Bryan from Judge Magazine, August 11th, 1900 - Source: Wiki Commons

Imperialism vs. anti-imperialism was, undoubtedly, the defining issue of the 1900 election. The battle for the soul of American foreign policy, which began at the end of the Spanish-American War, stood to categorize partisan debates in the coming century. Since 1898, Journalists began coining this a precipice of the 1900 Election. When the general election did erupt, the prediction proved incredibly accurate.

The candidates believed in vastly disparate overseas policies. Bryan's perspective supposed that the war had been justified solely because its end-goal was the liberation of Cubans from the tyrannical rule of Spain. As the conflict wound down, the president grew deeply concerned over the prospect that the United States could delve into hedonistic expansionism. More so, as previously established with the Paris Treaty and subsequent debate in Congress, the Bryan Administration and the bulk of the Democratic Party were not interested in colonial endeavors in Cuba nor elsewhere.

Democratic suspicion over imperialist aims for world conquest hung over the realm of politics in this period. When violent conflict exploded in China over intrusive European occupation during the autumn of 1899, President Bryan controversially refused to dedicate American troops to the cause, to the fierce derision of his opponents. The Republican Senate demanded the president act, but he would do no such thing. Bryan did express a willingness to include the Hawaiian islands in the American sphere of influence to prevent other nations from gobbling up the archipelago, but opposed outright annexation. He echoed the sentiments of fellow anti-imperialist Champ Clark, a representative from Missouri, who once questioned, "How does it happen, then, that we have gotten along splendidly for one hundred and nine years without these volcanic rocks? Have we grown weaker as we have multiplied in population? Certainly no jingo will have the hardihood to maintain a proposition so preposterous."

Bryan's supporters, particularly Southern and Midwestern planters and farmers, intensely opposed opening competing markets in the Pacific. Agrarian forces held no ambitions in the acquisition of offshore territories, and actually found the whole ordeal a wasteful distraction as domestic matters remained ignored. As a result of his resilience to annexation, the president received endorsements from the Populist Party as well as the newly founded American Anti-Imperialist League, a diverse and decentralized organization of self-described "non-interventionists." Through incorporating such sentiment into his administration and political campaign, Bryan sought wider appeal from individuals and organizations which advocated similar foreign policy perspectives.

In his acceptance speech of the nomination, President Bryan concentrated heavily on anti-imperialism as a moral issue. Bryan cited the contest, "between plutocracy and democracy," likening the newfound drive for empire an, "attempted overthrow of American principles [...] The last plague, the slaying of the first-born which will end the bondage of the American people, and bring deliverance from the Pharaohs who are enthroning Mammon and debasing mankind. Those who would have this nation enter upon a career of empire must consider not only the effect of imperialism on the Filipinos, but they must also calculate its effects upon our own nation. We cannot repudiate the principle of self-government in the Philippines without weakening that principle here." To Bryan, the concept was flagrantly unjustifiable.

Stratton: Forgive me, John, but I simply do not agree with your assessment. If you examine his language, you would see that Bryan's call to avoid war was not pacifistic, but strictly anti-imperialist. He entered the fray with Spain, and he even supported protectionism in Hawaii! Bryan was no pacifist. His urging of the citizenry to stave off Beveridge-Roosevelt imperialism was precisely in line with how the people felt. Military veterans who witnessed the realities of war in Cuba wrote to him in fear that Beveridge would drag them into brutal wars in the Philippines and-

Marks: Now... yes now that may be true to some degree, I will admit, but on the whole it was not the path he should have trekked. He was most definitely correct in upholding the 'government of the people' ideal, but it alienated all of the moderates, all of the segregationists in the South, and escalated opposition from the non-McLean press from a position of apolitical neglect to one of fierce mocking. It was the morally right thing to do, absolutely. But was it smart, politically? I just don't think it was.
Professor Dominic Stratton of Cambridge University and Presidential Historian John Marks
Republic or Empire: A Round Table Discussion on Capitalist Imperialism, Aired 2001

Where Bryan saw aggressive annexation, Beveridge perceived rich opportunity. Regarding U.S. control over Hawaii, the Philippines, Cuba and Puerto Rico, the Republicans forecasted a natural forging of economic gateways into foreign markets. The senator's 1898 March of the Flag speech popularized imperialism and forever associated it with the Republican Party. In addition to this, a large segment of the big business community which once opposed war with Spain now fervently sided with Beveridge in his search of an 'El Dorado' in the Pacific markets. By all accounts, the public was soundly split on the topic, although the sheer loudness emanating from the Beveridge operation certainly presented an advantage to their side.

A key shift in the debate arose when the Philippines secured final and total independence from the Spanish Empire in August of 1900, concluding the Philippine Revolution and firmly cementing its own democratic government. This fundamentally altered the discussion. Beyond Hawaii, the Philippines had been in the sights of the imperialists from the onset of the Spanish-American War. Logically, this became a prime target for American expansion and the Beveridge Campaign leaped at the opportune chance. No longer did imperialism amount to renewed war with Spain over its colonies, but rather asserting influence over an independent nation reeling from a lengthy revolutionary war.

Beveridge, in seizing the opportunity, doubled-down on his rhetoric referencing the inability of "uncivilized peoples" to self-govern and the God-given right of the United States to expand outward. "That flag has never paused in its onward march. Who dares halt it now - now, when history's largest events are carrying it forward; now, when we are at last one people, strong enough for any task, great enough for any glory destiny can bestow? How comes it that our first century closes with the process of consolidating the American people into a unit just accomplished, and quick upon the stroke of that great hour presses upon us our world opportunity, world duty, and world glory, which none but the people welded into an invisible nation can achieve or perform?"

Bryan shot back, frustratingly asking, "Is it our destiny to designate the fates of all other nations? Is our national character so weak that we cannot withstand the temptation to appropriate the first piece of land that comes within our reach? The advocates of imperialism find it impossible to reconcile a colonial policy with the principles of our government or the canons of morality." While the president honed in on defending the newly sovereign nations of Cuba and the Philippines, the opposition continued to capitalize on war-driven patriotism.

Fixating on a core message of patriotic sentiment juxtaposed with involvement in international affairs, Senator Beveridge introduced as his slogan, "Commerce Shall Follow the Stars and Stripes". Bryan scoffed at the arrogance of his competitor, yet he did not adjust his own messaging in retaliation. His staunch isolationism clashed with his vice presidential nominee, George Dewey, who urged the president to shift closer to the Hoosier. Dewey found himself at ends with Bryan's uncompromising foreign policy, incidentally indicating to a reporter in mid-September that he found faults with the Democratic line on economic expansion and, to make matters worse, would not deny favoring Beveridge's stance on the subject. Bryan was most likely incensed at Dewey's implied treachery, but there is no documented response from the nominee.
 

Stratton: Forgive me, John, but I simply do not agree with your assessment. If you examine his language, you would see that Bryan's call to avoid war was not pacifistic, but strictly anti-imperialist. He entered the fray with Spain, and he even supported protectionism in Hawaii! Bryan was no pacifist. His urging of the citizenry to stave off Beveridge-Roosevelt imperialism was precisely in line with how the people felt. Military veterans who witnessed the realities of war in Cuba wrote to him in fear that Beveridge would drag them into brutal wars in the Philippines and-
Marks: Now... yes now that may be true to some degree, I will admit, but on the whole it was not the path he should have trekked. He was most definitely correct in upholding the 'government of the people' ideal, but it alienated all of the moderates, all of the segregationists in the South, and escalated opposition from the non-McLean press from a position of apolitical neglect to one of fierce mocking. It was the morally right thing to do, absolutely. But was it smart, politically? I just don't think it was.
Professor Dominic Stratton of Cambridge University and Presidential Historian John Marks
Republic or Empire: A Round Table Discussion on Capitalist Imperialism, Aired 2001

Well that does not bode well for Bryan's chances at reelection...
 
Part 2: Chapter VI - Page 36
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Logo of the Social Democratic Party of America - Source: Wiki Commons

In June of 1897, members of the American Railway Union conglomerated at Handel Hall in Chicago. The union, being on its last legs, was not expected to survive the convention. Organizer Eugene V. Debs, alongside other prominent figures in the emerging American Left, engaged in an effort to build support for a new organization from the ashes of the fledgling ARU. He articulated that the novel coalition needed to stand by workers in all industries, and that it must be dedicated to a "grand co-operative scheme enabling people to work together in harmony in every branch of industry," and fight "until the old barbaric system has been destroyed and the republic is redeemed and disenthralled and is, in fact, the land of a free and happy people."

Named the Social Democracy of America, this broad collection of various factions included a slew of radicals and activists, from union officers like James Hogan and Roy Goodwin to famed anarchists like Lucy Parsons and Emma Goldman. The organization urged all honest citizens to unite "to conquer capitalism by making use of our political liberty and to make democracy 'the rule of the people' a truth by ending the economic subjugation of the overwhelmingly great majority of the people." The party did not, however, root itself in Marxist ideology, to the disappointment of the more orthodox socialists in attendance. It instead supported a generic classless vision of society, one initially propped up by Debs, which urged caution in preaching class consciousness. These individuals supporter an older, more utopian, analysis, putting forward an idea that all of society, as long as it upheld moralism and the right values, could bring about socialism. Editor of the left-wing Appeal to Reason newsprint, Julius Wayland, encapsulated the idea. "What is Socialism?" he asked during a published interview. "Merely Christianity in action. It recognizes the equality in men."

Tensions over the route of the party platform boiled over at the 1898 summer convention of Social Democracy. Reconciling differences between electorally-minded reform socialists with revolutionary anarchists was always an improbable task, especially at this relatively youthful stage of the labor movement. The convention, overall, was divided over not only their interpretation of socialism, but whether their "colonization" project (establishing a highly-concentrated bastion of socialism in the Western states) would come to pass. The orthodox wing, led by rigid Marxist Daniel DeLeon of the Socialist Labor Party, assertive labor activist and former People's Party delegate Victor L. Berger, and historian Frederic Heath intensely disliked the aforementioned relocation plan. They implored Debs join their legion to pursue electoral means and greater political action.

Despite his distrust for Berger's vision, Debs stunningly reversed his position on utopian colonization and joined the minority contingent in bolting from Social Democracy. The Berger forces thereby converged and founded a separate group: The Social Democratic Party. This SDP was concise in its platform. Under capitalism, it argued, two distinct classes with conflicting interests had developed: the working class and the capitalist class. Unlike the more nebulous organization that preceded it, the Social Democratic Party called for explicit changes aside from the overthrow of capitalism itself. This included legislation to eliminate dangerous working conditions, complete nationalization of popular resources, and complete equality for women. It also allied itself with the crusade of labor to cooperate on economic issues, including endorsing strikes, boycotts and the 8-hour working day.

The studious Debs publicly accepted the program and disavowed support for colonization. It took a great deal of convincing from his colleagues in the SDP to fully commit to abandoning the prospect of transforming the Democratic Party. Debs, once an avid supporter of the Bryan presidency and the cause of Free Silver, drifted away from the Democrats out of a sense of disillusionment to their lackluster commitment to far-reaching social and economic progress. The reform movement had run into a stone wall, which could neither be breached nor scaled. Debs found that only through persistent activism and a long-term fight to convert the American people to the cause of socialism could the wall be destroyed.

Debs emerged as a leading voice in the SDP, and spoke frequently to massive crowds and for union organizations. He addressed public audiences as well as meetings of workingmen and women on strike. His stardom appeared to stem less from an advocacy of socialism than his role in the 1894 Pullman Strike. That strike proved to be a momentous occasion in the history of the American labor movement, from the unprecedented use of the injunction to the imprisonment of the union's leaders. Not since the Great Railroad Strike of 1877 had a labor struggle influenced national culture. Debs symbolized heroism to many of these workers, so it was of little surprise when the SDP unanimously nominated their single most famous personality for president in 1900.

Somewhat reluctantly, Debs accepted the unanimous decision reached by the SDP at their March convention. It was a long-shot, to be sure, but socialists did encounter a series of minor victories since the inception of the party. It achieved its first success in Haverhill, Massachusetts, in 1898, where socialist John C. Chase was elected mayor with union support and the votes of Irish Catholic shoe workers. The following year, socialists won control over the Rockton, Illinois, city government with significant union backing. Debs knew presidential victory was unlikely, but perhaps his tireless proselytizing could boost the liberation march he represented. Thereby, from September onward, the candidate began a six-week national tour: the first ever of its kind for the cause of socialism.

Ah, my friends, this movement of socialism will be popular in the next few years. It is moving forward in all directions; every man, woman, and child in the land is vitally interested in it. Such a meeting as this is immensely suggestive, immensely significant; it bears testimony to the fact that men and women are thinking upon this great question as they have never thought before; they realize that the world is trembling on the verge of the greatest organic change in human history. And the socialists realize that the next ruling class of the world will be the working class. So they are pressing forward step by step until the minority they represent becomes the majority, and seizes the reins of government and inaugurates the system of the cooperative commonwealth. If you believe in these conquering principles we ask you to join the new crusade and stand side by side with us, and cast your lot with socialism and cast your votes for the Social Democratic Party and hasten the day of its triumph.

I look into the future with absolute confidence. When I strain my vision the slightest I can see the first rising rays of the sun of the cooperative commonwealth; it will look down on a nation in which men and women — I say men and women, because in the new social order, women will stand side by side with men, the badge of inferiority will be taken from her brow — and we will enjoy the enraptured vision of a land without a master, a land without a slave.
Eugene V. Debs, "Competition vs. Cooperation" Speech, September 29th, 1900
 

dcharleos

Donor
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Logo of the Social Democratic Party of America - Source: Wiki Commons

In June of 1897, members of the American Railway Union conglomerated at Handel Hall in Chicago. The union, being on its last legs, was not expected to survive the convention. Organizer Eugene V. Debs, alongside other prominent figures in the emerging American Left, engaged in an effort to build support for a new organization from the ashes of the fledgling ARU. He articulated that the novel coalition needed to stand by workers in all industries, and that it must be dedicated to a "grand co-operative scheme enabling people to work together in harmony in every branch of industry," and fight "until the old barbaric system has been destroyed and the republic is redeemed and disenthralled and is, in fact, the land of a free and happy people."

Named the Social Democracy of America, this broad collection of various factions included a slew of radicals and activists, from union officers like James Hogan and Roy Goodwin to famed anarchists like Lucy Parsons and Emma Goldman. The organization urged all honest citizens to unite "to conquer capitalism by making use of our political liberty and to make democracy 'the rule of the people' a truth by ending the economic subjugation of the overwhelmingly great majority of the people." The party did not, however, root itself in Marxist ideology, to the disappointment of the more orthodox socialists in attendance. It instead supported a generic classless vision of society, one initially propped up by Debs, which urged caution in preaching class consciousness. These individuals supporter an older, more utopian, analysis, putting forward an idea that all of society, as long as it upheld moralism and the right values, could bring about socialism. Editor of the left-wing Appeal to Reason newsprint, Julius Wayland, encapsulated the idea. "What is Socialism?" he asked during a published interview. "Merely Christianity in action. It recognizes the equality in men."

Tensions over the route of the party platform boiled over at the 1898 summer convention of Social Democracy. Reconciling differences between electorally-minded reform socialists with revolutionary anarchists was always an improbable task, especially at this relatively youthful stage of the labor movement. The convention, overall, was divided over not only their interpretation of socialism, but whether their "colonization" project (establishing a highly-concentrated bastion of socialism in the Western states) would come to pass. The orthodox wing, led by rigid Marxist Daniel DeLeon of the Socialist Labor Party, assertive labor activist and former People's Party delegate Victor L. Berger, and historian Frederic Heath intensely disliked the aforementioned relocation plan. They implored Debs join their legion to pursue electoral means and greater political action.

Despite his distrust for Berger's vision, Debs stunningly reversed his position on utopian colonization and joined the minority contingent in bolting from Social Democracy. The Berger forces thereby converged and founded a separate group: The Social Democratic Party. This SDP was concise in its platform. Under capitalism, it argued, two distinct classes with conflicting interests had developed: the working class and the capitalist class. Unlike the more nebulous organization that preceded it, the Social Democratic Party called for explicit changes aside from the overthrow of capitalism itself. This included legislation to eliminate dangerous working conditions, complete nationalization of popular resources, and complete equality for women. It also allied itself with the crusade of labor to cooperate on economic issues, including endorsing strikes, boycotts and the 8-hour working day.

The studious Debs publicly accepted the program and disavowed support for colonization. It took a great deal of convincing from his colleagues in the SDP to fully commit to abandoning the prospect of transforming the Democratic Party. Debs, once an avid supporter of the Bryan presidency and the cause of Free Silver, drifted away from the Democrats out of a sense of disillusionment to their lackluster commitment to far-reaching social and economic progress. The reform movement had run into a stone wall, which could neither be breached nor scaled. Debs found that only through persistent activism and a long-term fight to convert the American people to the cause of socialism could the wall be destroyed.

Debs emerged as a leading voice in the SDP, and spoke frequently to massive crowds and for union organizations. He addressed public audiences as well as meetings of workingmen and women on strike. His stardom appeared to stem less from an advocacy of socialism than his role in the 1894 Pullman Strike. That strike proved to be a momentous occasion in the history of the American labor movement, from the unprecedented use of the injunction to the imprisonment of the union's leaders. Not since the Great Railroad Strike of 1877 had a labor struggle influenced national culture. Debs symbolized heroism to many of these workers, so it was of little surprise when the SDP unanimously nominated their single most famous personality for president in 1900.

Somewhat reluctantly, Debs accepted the unanimous decision reached by the SDP at their March convention. It was a long-shot, to be sure, but socialists did encounter a series of minor victories since the inception of the party. It achieved its first success in Haverhill, Massachusetts, in 1898, where socialist John C. Chase was elected mayor with union support and the votes of Irish Catholic shoe workers. The following year, socialists won control over the Rockton, Illinois, city government with significant union backing. Debs knew presidential victory was unlikely, but perhaps his tireless proselytizing could boost the liberation march he represented. Thereby, from September onward, the candidate began a six-week national tour: the first ever of its kind for the cause of socialism.


Ah, my friends, this movement of socialism will be popular in the next few years. It is moving forward in all directions; every man, woman, and child in the land is vitally interested in it. Such a meeting as this is immensely suggestive, immensely significant; it bears testimony to the fact that men and women are thinking upon this great question as they have never thought before; they realize that the world is trembling on the verge of the greatest organic change in human history. And the socialists realize that the next ruling class of the world will be the working class. So they are pressing forward step by step until the minority they represent becomes the majority, and seizes the reins of government and inaugurates the system of the cooperative commonwealth. If you believe in these conquering principles we ask you to join the new crusade and stand side by side with us, and cast your lot with socialism and cast your votes for the Social Democratic Party and hasten the day of its triumph.
I look into the future with absolute confidence. When I strain my vision the slightest I can see the first rising rays of the sun of the cooperative commonwealth; it will look down on a nation in which men and women — I say men and women, because in the new social order, women will stand side by side with men, the badge of inferiority will be taken from her brow — and we will enjoy the enraptured vision of a land without a master, a land without a slave.
Eugene V. Debs, "Competition vs. Cooperation" Speech, September 29th, 1900

Now we're getting to the red meat.
 
Part 2: Chapter VI - Page 37
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Harper's Weekly Illustration of Bryan and Dewey - Source: Harp Week

The voting kicked off on November 6th, 1900, a cold, cloudy Tuesday. Only time would tell whether the American public concurred with President Bryan's arguments and permitted him an additional four years, or if they desired a new face in the Executive Mansion. Democratic and Republican-affiliated publishers ramped up their ongoing efforts to circulate negative stories and depictions of their opposing candidate. The New York Journal propped up Bryan as a brave, war-time president and attempted to characterize Beveridge as a power-hungry creature moving against the grain. Harper's Weekly, on the other hand, squarely sought to define the incumbent president as an irreconcilable lone-wolf unsuited for the duties of governing. In the weeks leading up to the vote, the latter publication regularly referenced in-fighting between Bryan and Dewey as evidence of the president's inability to manage a unified country.

Preliminary news was not kind to Bryan, with reports of Republican-leaning districts experiencing abnormally high turnout. The same held true with select minority demographics, like German immigrants, who rushed to the polls to expel the Nebraskan from Washington. It appeared as though the nomination of Dewey for vice president did little to persuade conservative Democratic voters, as Election Day dispatches confirmed that the bulk of these individuals intended on voting for Beveridge and Depew. It seemed 'The Great Commoner' ultimately failed to markedly grow his solid base of support since ascending to the presidency.

Yet another facet that played to the advantage of the Republicans in Midwestern swing states leading up to the 1900 election was their outreach to black voters. President Bryan spared no words for the cruel and and unjust treatment of black Americans, and waved off any notion that he would offer even the slightest remedy for their situation. He felt no inclination to adjust a stance that led to his political success. To Bryan's credit, he did condemn lynchings in his speeches, but at the same time the president avidly defended so-called "suffrage qualifications". He exclaimed, "[Southern black voters] may qualify themselves to vote tomorrow; the condition is not hopeless. But in the case of a colonized Philippines, the qualification is permanent. There is no means provided whereby the subject may become a citizen."

In an interview with Nick Chiles of the Topeka Plaindealer, Bryan also declined to comment on the rights of black Southerners following a particularly ruthless speech recently delivered by Senator Tillman. The South Carolinian brazenly affirmed that newly instituted voting regulations were straightforwardly meant to keep black people from voting. "We have done our level best [to disenfranchise blacks]. We stuffed ballot boxes. We shot them. We are not ashamed of it." When Chiles questioned Bryan per his feelings on the matter, the president responded, "I won't answer that question. Is your paper Republican or Democratic in politics?" In the end, feasibly a direct result to the mass disenfranchisement of black men, Southern turnout dropped by about 16%.

As Harrison, Blaine, and all prior Republican candidates accomplished in previous elections, Senator Beveridge dominated in the Northeast and made significant gains in the Mid-Atlantic states. Bryan could not make inroads in New Jersey, winning a lowly 42% of the vote. Similarly, the president unearthed abysmal defeat in New York, 43% to 54%, endangering the Empire State's status as an attainable win for the Democrats on the national level. To the profound joy of Senator Depew and Governor Roosevelt, their home state provided Republicans with their greatest victory margin since Abraham Lincoln in 1860.

Republicans in Pennsylvania granted its 32 Electoral Votes to Senator Beveridge in a similar fashion to Harrison's 1896 figures. President Bryan secured wins in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia as he managed to do previously, but the Beveridge Campaign ensured that the Nebraskan would not again eke out a win in West Virginia. As for the Solid South, Bryan remained in the driver's seat. Perhaps due to the dissipation of the Populist Party in the South, however, the Nebraskan's commanding raw vote totals from four years prior were not replicated.

A majority of the Western states stayed loyal to Bryan in 1900. The president's insistence on pushing for Free Silver in his second term locked-in many of the same voters that chose the captivating orator in his first run. Results in Nevada, Colorado, Idaho and Wyoming demonstrated sweeping wins for the president, with the same taking place in South Dakota, Nebraska, and Utah. Kansas proved more difficult for Bryan this time, but he did manage to secure a very narrow win in the Sunflower State. Breaking from the trend, however, the president was less fortunate regarding the West Coast. Washington, Oregon and California - all states won fairly confidently by the Democrats in 1896 - universally sided with Beveridge.

At last, in the contentious Midwest, a combination of depressed Democratic turnout, invigorated black and immigrant support for Republicans, and an evenly divided showing among industrial laborers negated the natural advantages of Bryan's populism to these voters. Beveridge swept his opponent in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, in addition to grabbing fair successes in Michigan and Indiana. The Hoosier proved to inspire voters in Illinois as well, where he captured the attention of the state's residents and thereby added its 24 Electoral Votes to his count. These numbers presented thus far awarded the Republican challenger with the necessary threshold in the Electoral College to end the election, yet it is worth mentioning that he also won a slight victory in Ohio against the incumbent.

Senator Beveridge, with 264 Electoral Votes, thereby won the presidential election and ushered in a dramatic repudiation to President Bryan.
 
You should adopt the conventional red state/blue state = Republican/Democrats. Not doing so makes your maps kind of confusing to look at.

I'm fairly entrenched in using the international system (Red for parties on the left, Blue for the right) from my time on the Atlas forums.
To me, it looks weird the other way around :)
 

dcharleos

Donor
I'm fairly entrenched in using the international system (Red for parties on the left, Blue for the right) from my time on the Atlas forums.
To me, it looks weird the other way around :)

But the Republicans and the Democrats don't fit on the conventional right/left continuum. ;-)
 
This timeline is on Atlas too so it’d probably be kind of annoying to post it with difference color schemes between the two.
 
So, I'm finally up-to-date with the timeline. I'm going to assume that Bryan's presidency showed that left-wing (or at least left-leaning) politics is possible in the US, but his failure to do much pushes his more left-wing constituency to the SDP and SLP.
 
Part 2: Chapter VI - Page 39 - 1900 Election Results II
1900 Congressional Elections

Senate

Republican: 41 (-4)
Democratic: 39 (+8)
Populist: 4 (-1)
Silver Republican: 2 (-1)
Silver: 2 (0)

House
Republican: 200 (+37)
Democratic: 152 (-29)
Populist: 4 (-4)
Silver Republican: 1 (-1)
Silver: 0 (-1)
Independent: 0 (-2)

House of Representatives Leadership
Speaker Joseph G. Cannon (R-IL)
Minority Leader John J. Lentz (D-OH)
Minority Leader John Calhoun Bell (Pop-CO)
Minority Leader John Franklin Shafroth (SR-CO)

Evidently, the referendum on President Bryan included the Democratic House in its scope. An apparent conservative reaction to Bryan returned the House of Representatives to Republican hands, thereby providing President-elect Beveridge the mandate necessary to govern effectively. Representative John Lentz had his position reduced to that of minority leader as a jubilant Joseph Cannon acquired the highly-coveted speakership. Cannon remarked on November 8th to a gaggle of press, "Gentlemen, it is my sworn oath that the 57th [Congress], the first of the new century, shall rise to the ranks of the 37th and 41st."

Promising renewed economic growth, legislation affirming the gold standard, and peaceful coordination with the president, Republicans successfully swept away many of the freshman Bryan Democrats. Voters made clear in 1900 their disdain for Free Silver and subsequently whittled away the pro-Silver representation, dissolving half of the House Populist delegation in the process. These results were far from a worst-case scenario, all in all, but it was discouraging for the Bryanites to witness nearly all of their midterm gains disappear.

Regarding the Senate, as only four states thus far ratified the proposed constitutional amendment, the process remained the same for appointments and vacancies. In a fascinating turn of events, Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate fared fairly well in their elections, succeeding incumbent Republicans in several instances. Ironically, this was certainly due to Democratic takeovers of various statehouses during Bryan's presidency. In other words: the reversal of 1896 and 1898. Republicans, for the most part, were winning statewide popular votes, but Democratic control of select state legislatures stayed consistent beyond 1900. Needless to say, conservative Republicans quickly jumped onboard the amendment locomotive as the results poured in.

In Massachusetts, a state easily carried by Albert Beveridge, incumbent Senator George F. Hoar lost his bid for re-election. Hoar, as one of the few anti-expansion Republicans in the legislature, proved a valuable asset to anti-imperialists and helped justify President Bryan's foreign policy. With Beveridge running for the presidency, the Boston-based Republican Party refused to commit to Hoar's re-nomination. One third of the state legislature's majority party propped up former Boston Mayor Edwin Curtis and cast their votes in his favor as others chose Hoar. This granted a pathway to victory for the pro-expansion, conservative Democratic candidate. With the full backing of the minority Democrats along with several Republican defectors, the state government appointed former Secretary of State Richard Olney to the Senate.

Encapsulating the deterioration of the national People's Party, one of the few incumbent Populists, Senator Marion Butler (Pop-NC), lost re-election to a Democratic challenger. Butler had been an avid fusionist in the People's Party and a key figure in the choice to nominate Bryan for president in 1896. He assisted Bryan Democrats in the Senate to the best of his ability and, prior to Wilmington, had been anticipated to receive an endorsement from the state Democratic party in his re-election campaign. Instead, the party chose rabid white supremacist and segregationist Furnifold Simmons, who walked away an effortless victor of that contest.

State legislatures in New York and Indiana held special elections to determine the successors for Depew and Beveridge, respectively. Republicans in Indiana unanimously selected James A. Hemenway, an incumbent congressman, who went on to defeat Democrat William Davis with little difficulty and retain the seat for the GOP. The New York Republican Party, on the other hand, did not have a name in mind. Some offered up former Governor Frank S. Black for the role, others suggested Frank Hiscock, a one-term senator during the early 1890s. Both men declined. Democrats, meanwhile, rallied around former senator David B. Hill in unison.

The Old Guard eventually settled on the congressman representing New York's 25th District, James S. Sherman. Having been born in the politically prominent Sherman family, the New Yorker already possessed a degree of fame upon his inauguration into the House of Representatives in 1886. He proved himself a fierce ally of McKinley during endless tariff and currency debates, and later backed the Ohioan's ill-fated presidential candidacy in 1896. Sherman, in 1900, campaigned for the Beveridge/Depew ticket within his home state, and, perhaps for this effort, the congressman was designated the choice of the Empire State Republicans. Sherman's bloc in the state legislature far outnumbered Hill, therefore handily winning Depew's seat.


Senators Elected in 1900 (Class 2)
John Tyler Morgan (D-AL): Democratic Hold
James Berry (D-AK): Democratic Hold
Thomas M. Patterson (D-CO): Democratic Gain
Vacant (-DE): Democratic Loss/Legislature Failed to Elect
James Taliaferro (D-FL): Democratic Gain*
Augustus Bacon (D-GA): Democratic Hold
Fred Dubois (D-ID): Democratic Gain
Shelby M. Cullom (R-IL): Republican Hold
James A. Hemenway (R-IN): Republican Hold*
John H. Gear (R-IA): Republican Hold
Joseph R. Burton (R-KS): Republican Hold
Joseph C.S. Blackburn (D-KY): Democratic Hold
Murphy J. Foster (D-LA): Democratic Hold
William P. Frye (R-ME): Republican Hold
Richard Olney (D-MA): Democratic Gain
James McMillan (R-MI): Republican Hold
Knute Nelson (R-MN): Republican Hold
Moses E. Clapp (R-MN): Republican Hold*
Anselm J. McLaurin (D-MS): Democratic Hold*
W.C. Conrad (D-MT): Democratic Gain
William A. Poynter (D-NE) Democratic Gain
Henry Burnham (R-NH): Republican Hold
William Sewel (R-NJ): Republican Hold
James S. Sherman (R-NY): Republican Hold*
Furnifold Simmons (D-NC): Democratic Gain
A. S. Bennett (D-OR): Democratic Gain
George P. Wetmore (R-RI): Republican Hold
Benjamin Tillman (D-SC): Democratic Hold
Robert J. Gamble (R-SD): Republican Gain
Edward W. Carmack (D-TN): Democratic Hold
Joseph W. Bailey (D-TX): Democratic Hold
Thomas Kearns (R-UT): Republican Gain*
Thomas S. Martin (D-VA): Democratic Hold
William P. Dilingham (R-VT): Republican Hold*
Addison G. Foster (R-WA): Republican Gain*
Stephen B. Elkins (R-WV): Republican Hold
John E. Osborne (D-WY): Democratic Gain

*Special Election and/or Filled Vacancy
 
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