Crimson Banners Fly: The Rise of the American Left

Part 2: Chapter III - Page 19
  • cap.png

    U.S. Capitol, Washington D.C., 1896 - Source: Wiki Commons

    Bryan allies in Congress introduced two new pieces of legislation in early December of 1897. The first, known as the American Safeguards bill, was written mostly in response to President Cleveland's notorious treatment of the Pullman strikers (which had been denounced in the 1896 Democratic platform). The legislation flatly stated that federal courts could no longer issue injunctions against nonviolent workers. Initially, this bill included provisions banning anti-union 'yellow-dog contracts' as well as the utilization of private agencies to instigate labor violence, but these were stripped away in a conservatively-bent committee. Other than the most virulent Bourbons, Democrats accepted this bill and unified to defend it.

    The Sulzer-Hepburn Bill, named for its co-authors, Representatives William 'Plain Bill' Sulzer (D-NY) and William P. Hepburn (R-IA), called for an expansion of the Interstate Commerce Commission in order to more stringently control the formation of trusts, curtail the consolidation of railroad systems, institute bookkeeping standards, and set maximum rail rates. Members of all three major political factions in Congress seemed to agree on the necessity to implement these regulatory measures. Now their actions needed to match their words.

    Just prior to the opening of the second session of Congress on December 6th, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Stephen Johnson Field retired from the bench. Having reached the ripe old age of 80, the rather traditionalist Lincoln appointee decided to vacate his seat on the court and allow for President Bryan to name a successor. "Attorney General Gray," wrote Ackerman, "insisted Bryan conserve his political capital and present Congress with a middle-of-the-road nominee. Boies concurred, concerned with the fate of the trust-busting initiative. Even Rep. Bland wrote to the president, urging he deny any instinct to reshape the highest court. Bryan listened to their advice, but could not be swayed."

    To Congress, Bryan floated a name they could not have anticipated: Joseph M. Carey. This individual, then retired, served from 1885 to 1895 as a Republican congressman from Wyoming. Prior to this, he was an associate justice to the Wyoming Territory Supreme Court. Carey was unlike most Republicans of his time, often disputing the mainstream party line on issues of federalism and social issues. In one instance, during the course of congressional debate pertaining to admitting Wyoming to statehood, Carey declared, "Wyoming would wait 100 years for statehood rather than join without women's suffrage." For lack of stronger terminology, the former senator could fairly be described a 'Progressive' before Progressivism.

    The president believed that Carey was the perfect candidate, and the Wyomingite took Bryan up on his offer. Some Democrats fumed over what they saw as Bryan's incredulous betrayal of party allegiance. To them, the nomination of a Republican senator was indefensible. Bryan, nonetheless, worked to persuade his party, confiding in them his belief that Carey would further the goals outlined in the Chicago platform. Congressional Republicans, having long since deemed Bryan an inept fool, happily agreed to admit Carey to the bench. Within weeks, Congress near-unanimously approved of Bryan's pick and granted Joseph Carey permission to sit alongside new colleagues on the Fuller Court.

    Speaker Reed, considering himself twice victorious in defeating President Bryan, thereafter allowed for the introduction and debate of the Sulzer-Hepburn and American Safeguards bills. The merits and Constitutionality of both measures were discussed at length by members of the House, with support for passage far exceeding that of the Coinage Restoration bill. Conservative Republicans objected to a stipulation in the injunction bill protecting the rights of workers to organize collectively, a conviction shared with the Bourbon minority. An amendment gutting the Safeguards legislation of the pro-union language passed with ease, 225 to 132. Bryan was discouraged by this news, but still sought to pass what he could.

    The House passed both measures, in the end. Upon its arrival, the legislation found less resistance in the Senate, where the bulk of its members exhibited favor of passage. A handful of staunch conservatives did remain opposed to Sulzer-Hepburn on the grounds that regulating rates could disrupt the railroad industry. Others, like Senator Platt, remarked that the Supreme Court would simply strike down the anti-trust portions, as they recently managed to do with the Sherman Antitrust Act in United States v. E. C. Knight Co. To the latter charge, Senators Spooner and Cullom, proponents of the Interstate Commerce Act, retorted that the federal government had the power regulate monopolies, trusts and pools since it meant the protection of interstate commerce. The Senate did not alter either bill, passing both with few defections in early April.
     
    Part 2: Chapter IV - Page 20
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    Anti-Spain Publication, 1898 - Source: Wiki Commons

    Chapter IV: Cuba Libre!: The War and How it Ended


    In his final address to Congress in December of 1896, President Grover Cleveland dedicated a section specifically to foreign policy. In response to a recent uprising taking place on the Caribbean island of Cuba, a province held by the sputtering Spanish Empire, the mustachioed president stated that the United States may be forced to intervene if Spain was unable to exercise its authority. In his words, the U.S. acted on behalf of its "higher obligations [...] which is by no means of a wholly sentimental or philanthropic character. [...] It is reasonably estimated that at least from $30 to $50 millions of American capital are invested in the plantations and in the railroad, mining, and other business enterprises on the island."

    Liberty-starved Cuban "insurrectos" rebelled against Spanish colonialism starting in 1895. They, as well as thousands of Cuban workers and peasants, were subsequently brutalized in a series of abhorrent human rights abuses, including indefinite detention in concentration camps. The American yellow press, led by Hearst's New York Journal and Pulitzer's New York World, intensely cataloged this behavior by the Spanish and called for the federal government to forcibly intervene. Initially, neither Grover Cleveland, William Jennings Bryan nor the Republican Congress held the slightest interest in moving toward armed conflict overseas, and both presidents frequently corresponded with Spain in order to sort out the situation in a diplomatic fashion. Likewise, lucrative overseers of American corporations, albeit eager to expand beyond the nation's borders, too feared that war would impede the tenuous economic restoration.

    Regardless of their government's anti-war sentiments, Hearst and Pulitzer incessantly pressed the issue all throughout 1896 and 1897. Hearst, especially, derided the conditions faced by the struggling Cuban people in great detail and specificity, garnering a reputation for exaggerated headlines and fictionalized accounts of women prisoners. The mass of these reports centered on the treatment of Cubans by the villainous Governor-General Valeriano Weyler, cited by Hearst as "The Butcher." Hundreds of thousands of Cubans died, and many more suffered, under Weyler's reign. In addition to his crimes against Cuba itself, the general authorized the internment of American citizens residing on the island, thus further incensing the United States citizenry.

    Weyler's term finally came to an end with the rise of Spanish Prime Minister Práxedes Mateo Sagasta in October of 1897, but much of the damage had already been done. Even with the general's replacement and the reversal of his most malevolent policies, Cuba and its people remained unwillingly married to the Spanish throne. Hearst's reporting continued, undeterred by Weyler's sacking, capitalizing on an exponential rise in sales of the Journal. Sales exploded for the World as well, in addition to the sea of other publications mimicking anti-Spain sentiment.

    Some politicians shared Hearst's feelings and directly called on the president to act. Senator Lodge of Massachusetts strongly supported U.S. intervening in the conflict, as did the outspoken former police commissioner of New York City, Theodore Roosevelt. Both found it the responsibility of the nation to protect Western Hemispheric countries at any cost. Roosevelt declared, "We will have this war for the freedom of Cuba in spite of the timidity of the commercial interests," and in confidence famously relented that, "A slice of Boston cream pie has more courage than [Bryan] could hope to muster."

    President Bryan, like nearly every other American, steadily grew enraged by the management of Cuba under Spanish rule.


    Bryan was not immune to the revulsion. He saw the crisis as a moral issue. Cubans pined to win their freedom from a tyrannical European power. They were slaves. Captives of Pharaoh. The capitalists of Spain starved the people of Cuba, ground them down and enslaved them for profit. It was the burden of the United States, Bryan thought, to liberate. To break the chains that bound and scarred the wrists of a downtrodden population.
    Spain ignored his plea to grant Cuban autonomy, time and time again. [Spanish Ambassador Enrique] Dupuy de Lôme publicly mocked his naivety and guffawed at the notion that the peasants were worthy of self-rule. Diplomacy was silenced -- drowned out by the reverberating boom of the war drum.
    Benjamin McIntyre, The Workers' Struggle: The Birth of a Columbian International, 2018

    Bryan had had enough. Empathizing with the Cuban cause and recognizing his duty to speak with the voice of an outraged public, the president implored Congress pass a formal ultimatum to Spain demanding it relinquish control of its colonial possessions. On February 11th, Bryan spoke directly to the legislature. He proclaimed, "Universal peace cannot come until justice is enthroned throughout the world. Until the right has triumphed in every land and love reigns in every heart, government must, as a last resort, appeal to force."

    The House and Senate concurred, passing a joint-declaration by the month's end. President Bryan proudly signed the measure on February 25th and immediately authorized Navy Secretary Williams' issue to blockade Cuba. Spain refused the order and declared war on the United States. For the first time since the Civil War, the U.S. mobilized for armed entanglement with a hostile power.
     
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    Part 2: Chapter IV - Page 21
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    Frederic Remington's "Charge of the Rough Riders at San Juan Hill," 1909 - Source: Wiki Commons

    The United States was at war. Bryan, firmly believing the conflict a mission to spread democracy, heartily accepted his duties as commander in chief. In his address to Congress, the president pledged that the U.S. would seek engagement in the affairs of Cuba insofar as the rights of its people were concerned. He delivered a blanket repudiation of mistreatment and his glorified Lockean ideals of liberty and freedom, but noticeably did not highlight the plight of commerce, the protection of property, nor the ambitions held by pro-expansion jingoists to establish American protectorates in place of Spanish colonies. Sugar plantation owners and other commercial interests were displeased by the speech, but they had grown accustomed to disappointment under President Bryan and thoroughly expected a bungled overseas efforts.

    Congress promptly authorized funding for war mobilization and the Bryan Cabinet began to enact its military strategy. Apart from the tactically successful naval blockage of Cuba, the chief victory for the Navy Department arose when Secretary George Williams dispatched Commodore George Dewey and Rear Admirals Winfield S. Schley and William T. Sampson to lead a precision strike on the Spanish fleet. The vessels in this contingent targeted the Santiago de Cuba port, which had been a major base for the Spanish Caribbean Squadron. On March 24th, when the squadron attempted an offensive maneuver against the American forces, the U.S. Navy caught wind and unleashed their barrage, thus eliminating all six Spanish ships.

    Simultaneously, Secretary of War George Steele, alongside President Bryan, plotted a land campaign. They recruited former Confederate General Joseph Wheeler and Major General Wesley Merritt to head the Fifth Army Corps and work toward a full-throttle assault on Santiago. Seemingly inspired by the plight of Cuba and the president's call to action, volunteers joined with the Army by the scores and quickly filled the ranks needed to embark. Among those who enlisted were Theodore Roosevelt and presidential physician Leonard Wood. These two would command the 1st Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, also known as the 'Rough Riders'.

    The American forces barreled through Cuba that spring, suffering only minor casualties while inflicting devastating damage to the poorly led and strategically inept Spanish troops. The U.S. and Cuban soldiers trudged through the territory and atop the San Juan heights by April 2nd, overcoming what war historians like John Duka have since deemed,"... a reduced Spanish garrison fighting a two-front war along the perimeter of Santiago. Victorious in their legendary charge up San Juan Hill were Roosevelt, First Lieutenant John J. Pershing, and Captain [Buckey] O'Neill." With morale plummeting, due in part to their defeat at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba, and their infantry overwhelmed by an encircling siege, the Spanish garrison finally capitulated. Guantánamo surrendered shortly thereafter.

    The war for Cuban liberty reached its end, and the American-bolstered "insurrectos" had won. An intermediary with the Spanish government approached State Secretary Stone with an offer to negotiate peace, adding that Spain would consider independence options for Cuba in such terms. Stone conscientiously informed Bryan of this information, knowing full well Bryan's inclination to jump at independence as the sole treaty stipulation.

    Removing the Spanish influence from Cuba meant a foothold for American commercial interests in the Caribbean. Cuban self-rule, however, meant nothing apart from the endangerment of the U.S. tobacco and sugar markets. Worse still was the prospect of Spain retaining its Pacific holdings in the Philippines when the United States had the opportunity to seize these territories for herself should the war go on. President Bryan listened when Stone expressed this warning, but he found that the war for Cuban liberation could not be justly expanded into a war of conquest.
    Thomas O'Conner, A Radical History of American Politics: Vol. 4, 2014

    Stone adhered to Bryan's instruction and responded affirmatively to Spain's request for a ceasefire. Thenceforth, representatives from both belligerent parties gathered together at a Parisian venue to conduct the business of peacemaking. Secretary Stone chaired the negotiating commission, and he was accompanied by former Vice President Stevenson, Senators Teller, Bacon, and Arthur Gorman (D-MD). From May 3rd through June 30th, the opposing delegations discussed terms in drawn-out mediation sessions until the deal was struck, at last.

    In the final Treaty of Paris, Spain agreed to grant complete independence to Cuba as well as Puerto Rico. The Spanish crown would also absorb any debt owed by the two island territories (estimated at around $4 million) and free all remaining American prisoners. Stone was unable to incorporate a fourth segment mandating limited autonomy in Spain's remaining colonies, but the Spanish delegations assured him that the Sagasta Government would gradually phase out its prison policy of indefinite detention. The document was finalized and signed by all parties present on July 1st, formally ending the Spanish-American War.
     
    Part 2: Chapter IV - Page 22
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    Puck Magazine's "Uncle Sam's Picnic", 1898
    Children are labeled 'Philippines,' 'Ladrones,' 'Porto Rico,' and 'Cuba'
    Man on Right is labeled 'Monroe Doctrine' - Source:
    Wiki Commons

    Once news broke that the U.S. commission in Paris accepted terms of Cuban and Puerto Rican independence, most Americans reacted with celebration. The nation's military succeeded in easily ridding Spain from the Caribbean, and thereby protected the Americas from European interference. "Cuba Libre!" hailed Hearst's Journal, "War in Cuba Ends with Spanish Retreat - Bryan Enshrines American Ideals Abroad". Hearst was overjoyed by Bryan's actions, and he ensured that the president was extensively lauded for his heroism in a series of articles and political cartoons. If sales of the publication were any indication of Bryan's favorability with the public, then he was surely beloved in the summer of 1898.

    However, not all viewed the Paris Treaty in a positive light. The fervor of patriotism that took hold with American involvement overseas did so alongside a revived iteration of Manifest Destiny. Egged on by commercial interests aspiring to international growth, a handful of politicians, authors and public orators sought to utilize the tide of idealistic popular concern for their own purposes and beliefs. Such figures disliked the prospect of independence for Spain's colonies, and instead backed widespread annexation. For the capitalist class, permanent U.S. control meant access to swathes of land, the integration of a new workforce, and the production of an extensive amount of goods.

    As with westward expansion, imperialism held that it was the God-given right of the United States to expand beyond its existing borders. Those espousing this rhetoric stated that it was for the best interest of the colonized communities to be "saved" by American oversight a la "White Man's Burden." Theodore Roosevelt remarked that fitness for self-government came "to a race only through the slow growth of centuries, and then only to those races which possess an immense reserve fund of strength, common sense and morality." In other words, he believed that the experiment of democracy could only be successful if the quality of the racial stock in question was suitable.

    Imperialists like Roosevelt greatly disapproved of Bryan ending the war without establishing protectorates in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and, most significantly, the Philippines. Far more than the Caribbean islands, that Pacific archipelago symbolized a gateway to international markets and a stepping-stone on the road to empire. Over the course of the Spanish-American War, this became the rallying cry of the Republican Party. Mark Hanna, who previously spoke against involvement in Cuba, now stridently supported American ownership of the Spanish colonies. "As long as the nation was entangled with Spain," Hanna stated, "we should seek a strategic point [in the Pacific, to give] the American people an opportunity to maintain a foothold in the [Chinese] markets."

    Now, with Secretary Stone's signing of the Treaty of Paris, leading Republicans declared that Bryan betrayed his own economy. They had their chance to grandstand during the congressional ratification process, when a two-thirds majority was required to officially accept the terms. Senate Republicans lambasted the deal at length and profusely disowned the agreement. Senator Nelson Aldrich (R-RI) warned that passage would "rob us of our just dues" and Lodge accused the president of deliberately ignoring an "irresistible pressure of events." Others like Senators George Hoar and Eugene Hale (R-ME) broke from the party leadership and sided with the Democratic minority supporting ratification, yet they proved to be few and far between. Bryan simply could not acquire the support needed to pass the treaty in the Senate.

    Albert J. Beveridge, a historian and political speaker from Indiana, became one of the most prominent individuals advancing the cause of imperialist annexation. He fostered a new faction within the state Republican party and quickly rose through the ranks during the Bryan Administration to the point that he won the GOP nomination for Senate. Like Roosevelt and Lodge, Beveridge spoke regularly against the policies of President Bryan. Once the fine print of the Paris Treaty was accessible to the public, the Hoosier elected to deliver a speech touching on the merits of American exceptionalism, the divine nature of expansionism, and race destiny.

    The American Republic is part of the movement of race, the most masterful race in history. The race movements are not to be stayed by the hand of man. They are mighty answers to Divine commands. Their leaders are not only statesmen of peoples - they are prophets of God. The inherent tendencies of a race are its highest law. They precede and survive all statutes, all constitutions... the sovereign tendencies of all our race are organization and government. They are pre-destined to be master organizers for governing savage and senile people.

    Where shall we turn for consumers of our surplus? Geography answers the question. China is our natural customer. The Philippines give us a base at the door of all the East. The power that rules the Pacific is the power that rules the world. With the Philippines that power is and will forever be the American Republic. Either we rise and answer the call, the profound regeneration of the world, or it may collapse into barbarism. We know where this current administration stands - the question is, where do you stand?
    Albert Beveridge, Indiana University Bloomington Speech, August 4th, 1898

    This Beveridge address, dubbed the "March of the Flag" speech, was widely reported and laid down a principle all assumed would guide the postwar doctrine of the Republican Party. It was extensively lauded by the party leaders and, as would come to pass, practically guaranteed his election to the Senate. The allure of the Pacific archipelago breathed new life into racial pseudoscience, a facet which had fallen out of fashion beyond staunch segregationists and anti-Sioux fanatics.
     
    Part 2: Chapter IV - Page 23
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    “Civilization Begins at Home,” Literary Digest, Nov. 26, 1898 - Source: Wordpress

    As the Republican Party entrenched itself in limitless expansionism and opportunity, their counterparts in the Democratic Party and elsewhere exclaimed dramatically opposing viewpoints. Contrary to the grandiose oratory espoused by those in favor of imperialism, relatively few Americans in this late Gilded Age period championed the idea of an American Empire. Support for the Spanish-American War was certainly universal, that much is true. Yet, most viewed the war as a heroic endeavor to protect Cuba, not a catalyst for conquest.

    When Roosevelt and Lodge began guiding their party toward imperial ambitions, resistance was inevitable. As previously mentioned, Senators Hoar and Hale found Cuban independence justified and fought to ratify the Paris Treaty in Congress. Hoar implored his fellow congressmen to adhere to the foundational principles of the nation, warning "we would be descending from the ancient path of republican liberty [...] down into the modern swamp and cesspool of imperialism." The contingent in Hoar's camp was mostly composed of the Old Guard, including men like Speaker Reed, former President Harrison, and railroad executive Charles Francis Adams, Jr.

    Speaker Reed, especially, rallied for senatorial passage of the Paris Treaty. Even with his disdain for Bryan and the Democrats, Reed admitted that the administration fared well in the war with Spain and constructed a suitable agreement to end hostilities. He could not sympathize with the imperialists within his party who pressed renewed aggression in the Philippines. "It is inconsolable," Reed remarked, "and unconstitutional for the United States to rule other peoples against their will and without congressional representation." This outburst by the Maine representative, a denouncement of fellow Republicans, effectively ended any talk of his reappointment to the speakership. He would later choose not to run for re-election to the House.

    Democrats and Populists fiercely attacked the idea of American imperialism and the potential subjugation of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. However, the lion's share of Democrats (notably in the South) did not oppose American rule over Spain's colonies out of concern for the well-being of the local populations. It was quite the opposite. Most Democratic politicians detested the idea of empire because it meant absorbing new, non-white communities. For some, like Populist Senator William Allen (Pop-NE), the issue was economics. "Should the imperialists have their way," he said, "the Philippines and Cuba would be ours. What, then, would prevent commerce from relocating to these regions? The syndicates could easily build new factories and employ an endless horde of nondescript populations for starvation wages."

    With Senator Benjamin Tillman, the problem was not economic, but social.


    We of the South have borne this white man's burden of a colored race in our midst. We have already learned the impossibilities of peacefully associating the races. There is no sense in squandering our resources to add these inferior races to our fine nation. Doing so will inject this poisoned blood into the body politic. God Almighty made them inferior and lacking in moral fiber. [...] If I may echo Senator McLaurin, it is indeed peculiar that senators who favored universal suffrage and the full enfranchisement of the negro should now advocate imperialism. If they are sincere in their views as to the Filipinos, they should propose an amendment to the Constitution which will put the inferior races in this country and the inhabitants of the Philippines upon an equality as to their civil and political rights.
    Benjamin Tillman, Speech Before Congressional Hearing | Treaty of Paris Ratification, January 3rd, 1899

    Tillman's opinions were not unique to the South Carolinian. His words in Congress received rapturous applause from the entire Southern Democratic delegation, and even a handful of Democrats from the Western states. He articulated exactly what disturbed fellow anti-imperialists most of all: the two-face nature of the Republicans. The GOP dream of an American Empire was hypocritical as it paralleled the racial issues at home. They exhorted absolute rule whilst accepting nonvoting status for the colonized. Therefore, in their eyes, the Republicans validated white supremacy despite their rhetoric favoring non-white suffrage in the South.

    Regardless of this, the mainstream Republican press sought to mimic Hearst's accomplishment and drive up public support for their point of view. Publications such as The Washington Post and The New York Times reported little of anti-imperialists like Tillman, other than to deride their callowness, and instead propped up the "righteous' cause of expansionism. One particularly vigorous article in the Post read, "The taste of empire is in the mouth of the people. It is our destiny to pursue an imperial policy. The Republic, renascent, [will take] her place with the armed nations." Editorials like these often concluded with the endorsement of certain 'messengers' to these policies, and as the next presidential election approached, the endorsements included prospective presidential candidates. No more would artifacts of a bygone era like Benjamin Harrison stand a chance at the convention, not when "the hero of San Juan Hill, Rough Rider Theodore Roosevelt" was up for consideration.
     
    Part 2: Chapter IV - Page 24 - 1898 Election Results
  • 1898 Congressional Elections

    Senate

    Republican: 45 (+1)
    Democratic: 31 (-3)
    Populist: 5 (0)
    Silver Republican: 3 (-2)
    Silver: 2 (0)

    House
    Democratic: 181 (+45)
    Republican: 163 (-30)
    Populist: 8 (-15)
    Silver Republican: 2 (-1)
    Silver: 1 (0)
    Independent: 2 (+1)

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

    In his first two years serving as president, William J. Bryan had the displeasure of dealing with the uncooperative, Republican-majority 55th Congress. His legislative agenda had been weakened to the point of nonrecognition. Every single plank put forward by the Nebraskan president - from comprehensive labor protections, to sweeping anti-trust regulations, to the institution of Free Silver - was either watered down to its core or outright defeated. Bryan needed a Democratic Congress to achieve any measure of true success.

    The 56th Congress only met him halfway. Taking place in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War and just prior to the ratification debate in Congress, the 1898 congressional elections resulted in a noteworthy boost for the Democratic Party. Perhaps it was due to success overseas or the realization that Bryan would not doom the economy, or even straightforward frustration with Republican stonewalling, but it appeared as though the general public favored Bryan more so than it did in 1896. The preceding match for control over the House ended in Republicans losing 61 of its mammoth-sized 253 seats. Now, it lost an additional 30. These losses in conjunction with Populists' fusionist tactics allowed for the Democrats to retake the House of Representatives with one seat to spare.

    Minority Leader Joseph W. Bailey, a conservative, states' rights Democrat largely out-of-step with the trajectory of the party, would refuse to stand for the speakership election. The Democrats nominated Ohioan reformer John J. Lentz to to this position, and by the following March he would succeed Thomas Reed as the House speaker. Lentz stood side-by-side with President Bryan and respected his platform (aside from the currency issue). Upon his election, Lentz worked to ensure that his title remained just as powerful as it had been in Reed's hand, and in this he had little trouble. Republicans, meanwhile, eventually designated the colorful, pugnacious Illinois Representative Joseph Gurney Cannon as their minority leader, bucking any speculation that the party would grant its Western delegation a role in leadership.

    In the interim since Bryan was elected, pro-reform, populist-like Democrats ousted Bourbon factions across the country in state assemblies and offices. The ruling Bourbonite branches in the Midwest were decimated in the 1897 and 1898 statewide elections, leaving few to resist Bryan's influence. Concurrently, many of these same state legislatures swapped from Republican to Democratic majorities. One may imagine that this amounted to a flashing red danger sign for Senate GOP incumbents, however one would be mistaken.

    As fortune would have it, the Class 1 grouping of senators was up for re-election in 1898, and this class did not house many vulnerable Republicans. This group last faced election in 1892, when President Cleveland won his huge electoral victory and brought with him a tenuous Democratic majority in the Senate. Therefore, even with popular support for Bryan reaching new heights and Democrats taking control of state legislatures, the Republican Party ended up expanding its Senate majority.

    Democrats retained a swing seat in California, but suffered losses in New York, New Jersey, and North Dakota. One of the more shocking results of these elections was in Pennsylvania, where GOP boss Matthew Quay lost his senate seat to the former Pennsylvania Governor Robert E. Pattison. The governor, an ally of Bryan's, was prodded by local colleagues to run for the Senate once the state government narrowly flipped Democratic. Pattison edged out the incumbent by only two votes in the legislature and provided his party with a rare win in the Keystone State.

    His health and memory worsening, Senator John Sherman (R-OH) retired from his legendary place in Congress in the spring of 1898. This provoked a hotly contested special election between Democratic Representative David Meekison (D-OH), a former mayor and banker, and Republican power broker Marcus Hanna. Hanna, who clawed back from the brink of obscurity after the previous presidential race, regained his prominent standing in Ohio politics and subsequently won the nomination of his party to the Senate. Hanna handily defeated Meekison for Sherman's seat.

    In Delaware, the seat once held by Attorney General Gray remained vacant due to intense disagreement in the state legislature. Financier J. Edward Addicks and businessmen Henry A. du Pont both controlled factions within the state government, and these sides fought vehemently over the senate appointment. Unable to reach a compromise, Gray's seat stayed empty all throughout the 56th (and 57th) Congress. Similar failures in Florida, Utah and Washington prevented the election of three additional senators until the next congressional elections.

    Senators Elected in 1898 (Class 1)
    James D. Phelan (D-CA): Democratic Hold
    Joseph R. Hawley (R-CT): Republican Hold
    Vacant (-DE): Democratic Loss/Legislature Failed to Elect
    Vacant (-FL): Democratic Loss/Legislature Failed to Elect
    Albert J. Beveridge (R-IN): Republican Gain
    Eugene Hale (R-ME): Republican Hold
    Arthur P. Gorman (D-MD): Democratic Hold
    Henry Cabot Lodge (R-MA): Republican Hold
    Julius C. Burrows (R-MI): Republican Hold
    Cushman Davis (R-MN): Republican Hold
    Hernando Money (D-MS): Democratic Hold
    Francis Cockrell (D-MO): Democratic Hold
    William A. Clark (D-MT): Democratic Gain
    William V. Allen (Pop-NE): Populist Hold
    William M. Stewart (SR-NV): Silver Republican Hold
    John Kean (R-NJ): Republican Gain
    Chauncey M. Depew (R-NY): Republican Gain
    Porter J. McCumber (R-ND): Republican Gain
    Mark Hanna (R-OH): Republican Hold
    Robert E. Pattison (D-PA): Democratic Gain
    Nelson W. Aldrich (R-RI): Republican Hold
    William B. Bate (D-TN): Democratic Hold
    Charles Allen Culberson (D-TX): Democratic Hold
    Vacant (-UT): Silver Republican Loss/Legislature Failed to Elect
    Redfield Proctor (R-VT): Republican Hold
    John W. Daniel (D-VA): Democratic Hold
    Vacant (-WA): Republican Loss/Legislature Failed to Elect
    J.F. McGraw (D-WV): Democratic Hold
    Timoth E. Ryan (D-WI): Democratic Hold
    John Eugene Osborne (D-WY): Democratic Gain
     
    Part 2: Chapter V - Page 25
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    The White House, Washington, D.C., 1900 - Source: Wiki Source

    Chapter V: The Empire Strikes Back: Shattering the Triple Alliance

    President Bryan's lone motive for involving the United States in the conflict with Spain was to remedy the profound ills facing Cuba. In the beginning, he could not anticipate that men like Beveridge would capitalize on war patriotism for their own ends. Once hostilities reached an end and Stone signed the treaty, the president considered the war, and all discussion of annexation, over. Yet, with the Republican majority in the Senate unwilling to pass the Treaty of Paris in its current form, the door to empire remained open.

    Bryan began to believe that if this new breed of jingoistic Republicans were to gain control over the White House, they would seek re-engagement with Spain in order to capture her territories - as well as unleash total war upon the newly independent island nations of Cuba and Puerto Rico. Congressional midterm elections were all Bryan had to settle the matter once and for all, but the existing system prevented senatorial results from matching the will of the voters. The unconventional president had little inclination to roll the dice on the next presidential election, and instead sought to enact an alternative strategy. Bryan would not allow for reckless fantasies of vast American conquests to overshadow the domestic injustices he cared so deeply for.

    The 56th United States Senate had several vacant spots as a direct result of state government gridlock. Three of these four seats were expected to lean Democratic, and the fourth, an amenable Silver Republican. Should Bryan have had these votes in the Senate, along with the support of the People's and Silver parties, he would have reached 45. With 45 Republican votes to 45 Bryan votes, Vice President McLean would be the tiebreaker on all legislation. Furthermore, a tied or Democratic-led Senate perhaps would have amassed enough pressure on the GOP to fold on the ratification issue. Bryan and his cohorts thereabouts challenged the source of the troubles: the senatorial election process."
    H. William Ackerman, Presidents of the Gilded Age, 2016

    He may have been unable to assist in the effort to silence imperialist Republican grandstanding in this legislature, but Bryan's multi-pronged method intended to save the proceeding Congress (and administration) from a similar fate. The president personally communicated a heavily circulated address to his legislative colleagues once its first session began in December of 1899. This 'State of the Union' speech, as some historians have ruled, set the stage for his platform in the upcoming election. Bryan began with a general commendation of war veterans and the role of the U.S. as a protector of freedom abroad before shifting to the need to ratify the Treaty of Paris.

    In this, Bryan softly made his way to anti-imperialism. He only touched on it briefly, comprehending the reality that his words would fall on deaf ears, but the president could hardly resist condemning a concept he so intensely despised. "The fruits of imperialism," Bryan beckoned, "be they bitter or sweet, must be left to the subjects of monarchy. This is the one tree of which the citizens of a republic may not partake. It is the voice of the serpent, not the voice of God, that bids us eat." He offered that the Republic must never repeat the mistakes of the Old World. "Imperialism might expand the nation's territory, but it would contract the nation's purpose. It is not a step forward toward a broader destiny; it is a step backward, toward the narrow views of kings and emperors."

    If the intrinsic doctrine of American republicanism, government representative of the people, could be torn to slivers in the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Cuba, then perhaps it first required reinforcement back home. Here, Bryan deviated from foreign policy to domestic reform, remarking, "As the first republic founded in this hemisphere, is our fate to lead by example. In unison, we must denounce tyranny and pillar democracy." Bryan then alluded to the absolute necessity to pass two weighty reforms: Allocating Congress with the power to levy an income tax and providing for the direct election of U.S. senators. Considering that the income tax was, for all intents and purposes, ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court during Pollock v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co. and that the process to elect senators is outlined clearly in Article 1 of the Constitution, both of these reforms required constitutional amendments.

    Bryan's speech was received warmly by his fellow Democrats, Populists, and clan of supportive publishers. Members of the People's Party especially applauded the reforms, with elder Representative James Weaver promising Bryan that the House would pass both amendment proposals by the year's end. William R. Hearst ran a series of headlines hailing Bryan's initiatives and echoing his evangelist sentiment, such as "Bryan to Congress: Revive Democracy." Even some congressional Republicans nodded along at the mention of electoral reform. It seemed Bryan struck a chord that rose above party lines.
     
    Part 2: Chapter V - Page 26
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    Proposal for the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution - Source: Wiki Commons

    As predicted by Congressman Weaver, the House of Representatives passed joint-resolutions proposing amendments regarding the income tax and for the direct election of senators on December 23rd and December 29th respectively. Speaker Lentz enthusiastically backed both of these, later stating, "It is essential to the longevity of our republic that we modernize our political system in the coming century. If we fail to rise to the task, we have no business governing." House Majority Whip Oscar Underwood (D-AL) ensured complete Democratic backing for both proposals, reportedly insisting to reluctant Bourbons that the implementation of the income tax would end economic reliance on the tariff. Republican representatives were somewhat split on the initiatives, but enough moderates broke from Cannon's conservative faction to allow passage.

    The Senate reacted with far less warmth. Although Bryan steadily gained support from even hardliner Cleveland Democrats (a far cry from their staunch opposition in the 55th Congress), leading Republicans rallied hard against the two amendments and seemed intent on stonewalling progress just as they had with the Paris Treaty. The minority Democrats chose first to focus in on the electoral reform resolution, and fought heartily, against all odds, for the Republican leadership to concur on its introduction.

    Uninterested, Old Guard leaders, predominantly from the Northeast, waved away the notion that the resolution would be brought before the legislature. Senator William E. Chandler (R-NH) stated, "The Senate, as it did in [1893], shall not consider it." "The responsibility for the election of senators," exclaimed Senator Hoar in his denouncement, "would pass from honored state delegates to the whims [of the] mob." Chandler and Hoar, accompanied by Thomas Platt, Henry C. Lodge, Chauncey Depew, and Joseph Hawley (R-CT), composed the core of the opposition.

    Democrats, Populists, and a handful of Western Republicans encouraged prompt action in the upper house, but the Republican majority disapproved. Outraged by constant senatorial inaction, pro-Bryan newspapers and magazines appealed straight to the electorate, urging them to write Congress with their opinion on the amendments. Pulitzer and Hearst sparked the call, but other state and local publishers - even some who supported Harrison in 1896 - amplified it in a rare nonpartisan engagement. In response, the people roared back. It took until March for the reports to be released, but letters addressed to resistant senators indeed poured in by the tens of thousands. The overwhelming majority of these fervently favored passage. Public sentiment, evident through these letters and a slew of pro-reform editorials in the mainstream press, sided with Bryan.

    Faced with the bitter reality that this shift in the zeitgeist could serve to assist in Bryan's re-election, Senate Republicans somberly allowed for the resolutions to reach the floor. Proponents in the legislature struck hard and fast when debate ensued, explicitly referring to the inexcusable actions by "corrupt" and "aristocratic" multi-term senators. "The state appointment system," blustered Populist Senator Allen, "is an affront to democracy as we know it. Jurisdiction over this body mustn't be decided through villainous means." Allen charged, accurately so, that the present system was leading to unjust bribery and extortion of the state legislatures. Nefarious behavior, he found, was utilized by influential politicians as a gateway to the Senate. Reform-minded senators generally concurred.


    Not one single amendment managed to successfully pass through Congress since 1869. The idea basically fell into the realm of impossibility. With debate over the Senate election process, however, it was likely a combination of widespread dissatisfaction following two congressional elections with vastly disparate Senate/House results, and collective embarrassment over Senate vacancies. Obviously, Bryan being president accelerated public support to a discernible degree. [...] It all came together by June (of 1900).
    Bruce K. Tedesco, The Constitution: A Living Document TV Miniseries, 2002

    Shortly before the end of the congressional session, the Senate voted on the resolution. Jubilant Bryan Democrats corralled the entirety of their party in addition to a sufficient number of tepid Republicans to secure the necessary two-thirds vote. Unmoved opponents like Hoar voted against passage, but the bulk of the Midwestern and Western delegations complied with public demand. The final vote for the proposal tallied 70 Aye to 17 Nay. With that, Congress adjourned.

    The Senate thereafter resumed its stonewalling of Bryan's legislation. Aside from the aforementioned resolution, no other measures passed through the 56th Congress. Bryan allies hoped to gather enough support to simultaneously push for the income tax amendment, but it ultimately failed to manifest that year.
     
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    Part 2: Chapter V - Page 27
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    Richard Olney, 34th U.S. Secretary of State - Source: Wiki Commons

    Conventional wisdom pointed to the coming presidential election as a long-shot for the Republicans. The Bryan Administration's incumbency advantage contained all the keys necessary to secure re-election. Economically, the nation was sluggishly, though undeniably, recovering to a state of relative prosperity. Gross national product increased from $13 billion in 1896 to nearly $19 billion in 1900. Wages and employment were on the rise, as was the commonality of electricity and telephones in technologically developed homes.

    Trade unions grew rapidly at the turn of the century. The improved economic conditions and trust in the current administration's stance on unionism influenced a notable rise in labor union membership. The American Federation of Labor, a reformist union organization headed by the cautious Samuel Gompers, became the largest such organization in the country during President Bryan's tenure. The AFL refused to directly engage in political activities or outright affiliate with any one party out of uneasiness over alienating half of its members, but it did, in effect, ally itself to Bryan's policies regarding worker protections.

    Bryan's presidency disproved the fear mongering so omnipresent during his initial campaign. Not only did the nation's economy not collapse, but the administration's willingness to compromise on legislation and Secretary Stone's successful management of foreign affairs earned Bryan a reputation for sensible governance. His reforms seemed to fall in line with general public opinion, and his coalition of Democrats and Populists looked to be insurmountable. The GOP needed to move fast if it desired a win.

    RNC Chairman Garret Hobart had died of a heart ailment in November of 1899, prompting the election of his successor, former Governor William McKinley to that post. McKinley, having stepped down from his three-term governorship in January of 1898, briefly retired from political life whilst remaining a guiding force in the Ohio Republican Party. The chair election itself was unevenly tilted to McKinley's favor due to Mark Hanna's handiwork - considered a returned favor following the governor's backing of Hanna's Senate campaign - and the race was over and done with rather fast. When he took up his new position as chairperson of the national party, McKinley deviated from Hobart's strict oppositionist direction and charted a novel course.

    Alongside state and federal party leaders, Chairman McKinley plotted to decimate Bryan's momentum before it became unstoppable. To accomplish this task, the Republicans sought dissolution of the president's so-called 'triple alliance' of Silverites, Populists and anti-imperialists. They could no longer result to demeaning Bryan's mental fitness to serve as president, but they could, conceivably, dissuade his allies from committing their unrelenting support. These factions would only dedicate full loyalty to Bryan insofar as he spoke to their core issues. Therein lied the opportunity.


    For all of his eloquent speaking abilities and stellar political instincts, William Jennings Bryan lacked the capacity to define himself on his own terms. It has been argued that Bryan's victory against Harrison was a natural result of the legendary oratory spree embarked by the former candidate. Yet, the 'Great Commoner' likely only grasped victory with the help of the liberal press - McLean, Hearst, etc. They cataloged his speeches and re-formed and edited his tone to match the target demographic of each paper. Free Silver did not arise in the Cincinnati Enquirer just as Bryan's condemnation of lynching never appeared in the Montgomery Advertiser. The electorate may indeed have been swayed by Bryan's words, but the deceptive filtering of his language is what led to his taking office.
    Russell Kirk, American Politics Reconsidered: A Conservative Critique of the Twentieth Century, 1967

    McKinley understood that the Republicans needed to control the narrative. The GOP fumbled the ball in this arena up to this point, but the RNC was now willing to risk experimenting with the Ohioan's hypothesis. A bargain was struck, and the die was cast.

    On May 20th, 1900, just before the Senate's final vote on the amendment, Harper's Weekly released a contentious editorial regarding President Bryan. It alleged that Bryan's retreat on the currency issue was planned beforehand, and that he did not intend on bringing up the issue in Congress in the case of his re-election. The article cited specific statements from several prominent Gold Democrats, including former Representative William B. Cockran (D-NY) and Cleveland's State Secretary, Richard Olney. It seemed, according to these individuals, that the Bryan Administration agreed to back off on Free Silver in exchange for the support of the Bourbon faction of the party.

    Olney reiterated various consultations with Bryan men and presented the arrangement in black-and-white. "[Bryan], of course, personally supported bimetallism, and I have no reason to doubt his aim to implement it. The facts were, as thus. [The Coinage Restoration bill] was doomed to fail in Washington. It is, and was, a dead concept. Olney continued, alleging that Bryan's associates, knowing the bill could not be saved, pushed Speaker Reed to proceed with debate as a deliberate false front. "Thereabouts, the party unites and moves on. Bryan is permitted to claim, 'I gave it my all,' and his radical supporters are none the wiser."

    Tactically, the described conspiracy made sense. In one fell swoop, the Bryan Administration stood to eliminate as worthwhile threats both the People's Party as well as the National Democratic Party. He could speak just enough about Populistic measures to retain their support from 1896 and leave no risk of generating apathy, while simultaneously delivering so little that the Bourbons could endure supporting him. Giving credence to the idea, Gold Democrats did certainly support all of Bryan's legislation beyond the Coinage Restoration bill, and there was no indication that the conservatives planned on challenging his nomination. "Bryan could thread the needle," Cockran stated. "Everyone sees the president they wish to see."
     
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    Part 2: Chapter V - Page 28
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    New York Herald Headline, November 11th, 1898 - Source: Wiki Commons

    The Harper's article proved a significant blow to President Bryan. Political historians have since largely concurred that, although there may have been an element of truth behind the tale, the details from Olney's perspective were fabricated. Today we have little evidence to prove the validity of the claim one way or another, yet knowing the moral character of Bryan it is unlikely that he fostered a corrupt bargain with Gold Democrats. The rise of postwar imperialist sentiment already bound business Democrats close to the standard bearer for anti-imperialism, so, by 1900, Bryan could have gone full-throttle for Silver and retained their begrudging support. Not to mention, Olney also had reason to spite Bryan, considering the American Safeguards Act particularly humiliated the former state secretary.

    In the moment, however, the accusations printed in that editorial rattled the Bryan Coalition to its core. No longer was currency the most pressing national issue for the Democratic Party, yet agrarian Silverites remained central components to Bryan's base. The president could not afford the disenchantment of this group nor allow for his character to be violated. Pro-Silver clubs and state party factions across the country led the effort to elect Bryan in 1896. Should these forces abandon their leader out of a sense of distrust and either swap party allegiance or abstain from voting altogether, Bryan would be hard-pressed to win the Western United States.

    Dampening of Silver Democrats' allegiance to Bryan was worrying, but losing the vote of the Populists would be devastating. The People's Party itself actually dissipated dramatically since the last general election. Weaver and the Populist congressional delegation advocated fusionist tactics so fiercely by 1898 that it became more attractive to run as a populist-leaning Democrat than a pure Populist. The election of "the People's President" was viewed by many of the fusionists as a vindication of their ideology, and they fervently supported coalescing around the Democratic president, even when doing so jeopardized or countered the very policies espoused in the Omaha Platform.

    Membership of the People's Party halved between 1896 and 1900, despite Bryan's presidency. Many Southern Populists gravitated back to the Democrats, and hundreds of the party's representatives were resoundingly booted out if they refused to fuse. The cross-racial economic policies applauded by some in the People's Party and Farmer's Alliance became out-favored by white supremacist reaction. Nowhere was this quite so apparent than in Wilmington, North Carolina, when an insurgent white militia, specifically citing a defense of "Anglo-Saxon... civilization" forcibly overthrew the democratically elected Populist city government and violently intimidated and assaulted black neighborhoods. Dozens of black men and women were killed. Detestable racist sentiment overshadowed all else in Wilmington, as it would do so throughout the South as the region delved deeper into 'Jim Crow' segregationist policies. Of this, Bryan spared few words and refused to intervene.

    Those on the left-wing of the People's Party who passionately disagreed with the leadership's decision to advocate for involvement in the Democratic Party were also attracted to other, more radical, political organizations and affiliations. Burgeoning ideas concerning collective ownership of property progressively supplanted the Populists' nineteenth century vision of agrarian republicanism as the leading Leftist tendency in the United States. Class inequality ran just as rampant under Bryan as it had under Cleveland and Harrison, and any halfway reforms were craven, or even heretical. For this group, it mattered not whether Bryan supported Silver or Gold. Capitalism was definitively irredeemable and the president had not fundamentally challenged the economic status quo.

    The nucleus of the Populist movement, however, backed the president and his brand of Democracy thus far. The Harper's piece tested their support as no other recent political development yet had. RNC officials managed to plant this seed in the mind of the electorate, and if McKinley's hypothesis was correct, any subsequent move from Bryan could serve to exacerbate the problem. Either allow for the contamination of his reputation and hope the issue is forgotten during the course of the election, or risk a formidable third party threat from the conservatives. "Damned if you do and damned if you don't," wrote O'Conner. "[Bryan] did not see a path which allowed him to escape unscathed. He concluded that the best, and only, option was to tell the truth."

    To those who maintain that this administration has abandoned (Free Silver), I say we will secure bimetallism. To those who affirm our sight has blurred, I say we shall seek fair currency until the glorious day it is done. To those who say do not press the issue of silver, I can say to bimetallism at sixteen to one as Ruth said to Naomi: 'Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God, my God.'
    William Jennings Bryan, Speech in Cleveland, Ohio, June 18th, 1900
     
    Part 2: Chapter V - Page 29
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    Governor Roosevelt with Lockport City Officials at Newfane Station, August 15th, 1899 - Source: Wiki Commons

    Sixteen years prior to these events taking place, during the presidential election of 1884, a sizable group of dissatisfied Republican voters rejected their party nominee and voted Democratic. James G. Blaine, the senator from Maine, was mired in scandal and could not withstand attacks from the Democrats recounting his many faults. Blaine lost a nail-biter election to Grover Cleveland due in part to the defection of 'Mugwump' splitters. Now, in the wake of Bryan doubling down on the silver issue, a similar phenomenon seemed to be taking shape.

    Harper's Weekly, The Washington Post, and other conservatively bent publications capitalized on Bryan's fateful choice with new articles highlighting the president's unstable currency theory and his contempt for sound economics. Gold Democrats like Olney were once more featured in several of these editorials. "It is increasingly apparent," he wrote, "that Mr. Bryan's moralism does not account for sanity." The Democratic Old Guard, a contingent which halfheartedly backed the president from the moment of his Oath of Office, could back him no longer. "The mutation unleashed upon the party of Jefferson and Jackson must be reversed. If we must suffer McKinley for a time, then so be it."

    This fortune transpiring before the Republican Party required an appropriate response. If it sought to forge this unified opposition, it needed to designate a presidential candidate capable of appealing to both Republican voters as well as pro-business Democrats. Several vastly disparate Republican candidates begun working toward the party nomination by the time January rolled around, including former vice presidential pick Henry Clay Evans of Tennessee, but none yet captured the bare appeal necessary to allure Bourbon elites. RNC Chairman William McKinley, considered by this point as the voice of the national party and a clear-cut frontrunner for the nomination, flatly denied any interest in once more seeking higher office.

    The candidate amassing the most momentum leading to the convention rather lacked the aforementioned appeal. Theodore Roosevelt, national war hero and potential foil for Bryan's electioneering, was overtly vying for the presidential nod. After the war, the bombastic Roosevelt shuffled back into New York politics and gained favor with the state Republican Party. He was thereby, by a near-unanimous decision, placed on the top of the GOP gubernatorial ticket for 1898.

    Roosevelt stormed the political barricades as if he was still at war in Cuba, delivering upwards of twenty speeches per day in a manner clearly inspired by Bryan's crusade for office. Donning his Rough Rider persona, the candidate vigorously paraded through the state in a close contest with Tammany Hall's selection, Democratic judge Augustus Van Wyck. He won this engagement and barged his way into the governor's mansion as if it was Santiago. "In the long run," declared the new governor, "he serves his party best who most helps to make it instantly responsive to every need of the people, and to the highest demands of that spirit which tends to drive us onward and upward."

    Senator Platt and the state party leadership commonly coordinated with Governor Roosevelt during the early months of the latter's tenure in office, developing governing strategies and advising the newcomer how best to deal with an unruly legislature. Once Roosevelt started signing off on legislation that instituted a new tax on franchises and leaned into laws meant to break apart hugely influential corporate trusts, the more conservative Republican machine ended its amicable relationship with the governor. Desiring a middle-ground between rosy populist Democracy and jaded Social Darwinism, Governor Roosevelt also worked to enact an 8-hour working day for state employees, greater government mediation in labor disputes, and civil service reform.

    The governor honed in on his opinion of United States' foreign affairs while serving in that role. Speaking to the virtues of a code of morality he judged "the strenuous life", Roosevelt stressed patriotism and masculinity in tandem with international action during a Chicago speech.


    In speaking to you, men of the greatest city of the West, men of the State which gave to the country Lincoln and Grant, men who pre-eminently and distinctly embody all that is most American in the American character, I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.
    Last year we could not help being brought face to face with the problem of war with Spain. All we could decide was whether we should shrink like cowards from the contest, or enter into it as beseemed a brave and high-spirited people; and; once in, whether failure or success should crown our banners. So it is now. We cannot, as the present administration desires, avoid the responsibilities that confront us in Hawaii, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. A job half-finished is a job not finished. If we drove out a medieval tyranny only to make room for savage anarchy, we had better not have begun the task at all.
    Theodore Roosevelt, "The Strenuous Life" Speech, April 10th, 1899

    Roosevelt's own writing in 1899 demonstrated his personal wish to remain in the gubernatorial role for a second term to further develop his unique policies for New York before setting foot on the national stage. However, feeling as though President Bryan's "ineptitude" on domestic and foreign matters "brought dishonor to the flag" and cowardice to the republic, the governor contemplated greater ambitions. Sometime in mid-February, Roosevelt sent a telegram to his friend, former Assistant State Secretary John M. Hay, requesting he assist in the campaign. He did the same for an assortment of other characters, including famed journalist and photographer Jacob Riis.

    Platt, who was in the midst of devising an under-the-radar plot to elevate Roosevelt to the vice presidential slot at the national convention, reacted with a mix of astonishment and rage once hearing the news. It frankly shattered his plan to pieces. The convention would, by tradition, categorically disallow an active presidential candidate to be placed in the call for vice president, meaning Roosevelt would either end up in the White House or back in the governor's mansion for a second term. The senator needed to trek the extra mile if he indeed wished to, as he once admitted, "get rid of the bastard."
     
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    Part 2: Chapter V - Page 30
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    U.S. Senator Mark Hanna, 1900 - Source: Wiki Commons

    Roosevelt, to put it mildly, embodied everything the Republican establishment dreaded in a nominee. His severing of all ties to the state party machine indicated his unruliness and tendency to act on instinct, and his reformist economic ideals alienated any plausible monetary assistance from lucrative corporations. Choosing the New Yorker at the convention would also plainly jeopardize McKinley's strategy to take down President Bryan in November. The Rough Rider simply could never be allowed the nomination of the Republican Party at the presidential level. The RNC needed someone else.

    In order to soundly thwart Roosevelt, the Republicans required an individual similar enough to the governor to captivate an audience, yet, at the same time, be nothing alike in terms of personality or policy. Representative Evans possessed some appeal to the Old Guard, but he sorely lacked a solid base despite proving his worth as a strategist for the Harrison Campaign. Other potential picks like retired Governor Levi Morton and former Speaker Reed suffered from analogous defects to Evans'. Apart from Roosevelt, there were remarkably few well-known figures emerging as consistent enemies to 'Bryanism'. On the conservative end of the spectrum, the lone name was Marcus Hanna.

    The mastermind behind McKinley's early, oft-forgotten presidential campaign and the de facto leader of the Ohio Republicans, Senator Mark Hanna, from the point of his ascension to the Senate, bitterly opposed President Bryan and the Democrats. Unlike the type of opposition utilized by Reed, Hanna obstructed Bryan whilst proposing alternate solutions. During the intense debate over electoral reform, the Ohioan essentially agreed with the president over the core problem. He acknowledged that the antiquated process of state legislatures appointing senators demanded some degree of adjustment, but squarely rejected the concept of direct election.

    Hanna thereby proposed to his colleagues a less radical approach, theorizing that the cure for the vacancy problem lied in temporary appointments. He believed that the federal government merely needed to grant state governments the ability to appoint interim senators, and require it do so in the case of a vacancy. Doing this would solve the vacancy issue and ease tension from deadlocked legislatures without completely rewriting the entire process. Unfortunately, he was unable to accrue adequate support to amend the resolution and it passed in its original form. Still, Hanna's ingenuity demonstrated the exact type of moderate governing the Republican stalwarts longed for in a president.

    The Ohioan formally initiated his presidential campaign upon learning of Roosevelt's interest to run. Hanna re-formed much of his politically adept team from the 1896 operation and began working toward the nomination in earnest. He applied the strategy originally meant for McKinley, accruing Southern delegates as speedily and efficiently as possible. In the span of a few months, Hanna locked in the bulk of the South in addition to securing a majority of delegates in Illinois. Hanna supporter Charles G. Dawes, a Chicago businessman and state party official, became a key figure in the campaign's Midwestern operation as it sought to drive in swathes of delegates to Hanna's side.


    By his personal accounts, Hanna enjoyed running his own campaign far more than managing another's. His authority went unquestioned by those working for him, even by elder colleagues. Hanna rarely approached others for advice, but did so in his 1900 campaign for the presidency, consulting fellow Ohioan William Rufus Day. An associate of McKinley, Day befriended Hanna several years prior and corresponded with the senator frequently upon the latter's inauguration to the Senate. Within this correspondence, it is revealed that Day foreshadowed the greatest stumbling block to Hanna's prospective nomination. "I fear there are signs that the Mr. Roosevelt has taken Pennsylvania. Quay has lost the respect of his peers."
    Jay R. Morgan, The American Elephant: A Study of the Republican Party, 1980

    The senator from Ohio drastically underestimated the organizational prowess of his chief competitor, not realizing that Roosevelt's ties to the expansionist wing of the GOP equaled Hanna's influence with the state party machines. Support from party bosses was no longer sufficient in rounding up state delegates. Morgan expounds, "Dreams of an American Empire blinded considerable portions of the Republican Party. Hanna's plan ignored this fact." Hanna, who was running on a conservative, broadly isolationist platform, was blind-sighted by the degree to which imperialism infected the whole of the party in the last two years. Roosevelt's stance on incorporating the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Cuba into the United States' sphere of influence, as well as his reform-minded repudiation of bosses, machines, and trusts, led to his sweep of the Western delegations in addition to outpacing Hanna in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
     
    Part 2: Chapter V - Page 31 - 1900 RNC I
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    Exposition Auditorium, June, 19th, 1900 - Source: Wiki Commons

    By the time the Republican National Convention convened, Roosevelt and Hanna were about tied in pledged delegates. The Ohioan retained a small advantage in terms of raw numbers, but the New Yorker frequently argued that his partisans were less likely to bail out in the case of a second ballot. Roosevelt's pummeling of Hanna along the West Coast pushed the latter to adopt a more virulent campaign strategy: demonizing the governor in the same vein as President Bryan. He openly referred to his competitor as a "fanatic opportunist" and a "sure-fire road to a two-term Bryan," deepening the rift between the two camps. Hanna started to stir the mudslinging pot at on the onset of summer in a last-ditch hope to avoid a contested convention, but he ultimately failed in his goal. As fate would have it, the nominee would be decided at the RNC.

    The Exposition Auditorium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania opened its doors on June 19th for the convention festivities. Chairman McKinley ushered in the start of the event, then opted for Senator Edward Wolcott (R-CO) to serve as the temporary chairman over the tense arena for the first day, followed by Senator Lodge on the second. Lodge brought the committee to order whence he was handed the gavel, and commenced in the delivering of a speech restating the tenants of the '96 Republican platform. He touched on the need to raise tariffs, pass legislation to cement the gold standard, modernize the military and protect American commerce. These ideas generated hefty applause, but the proceeding tirade against President Bryan ended in a deafening roar of approval.


    During these years of Democratic spectacle, we had presented to us pure political chaos. The party of melancholy and unfulfilled promises under President Cleveland devolved into one absent of intelligent action. We have endured unending artificial agitation, humorously dubbed reform, heroically blockaded by the U.S. Senate: the last vestige of common sense governing. [...] We have also, for the last two years, been paralyzed as a nation, stunted by a radical bent on darkening the shining light of Old Glory. It is the task of the American people to embrace its responsibility to the lands liberated from foreign tyranny. Should we turn the islands, where we had destroyed all existing sovereignty, loose upon the world to be a prey to domestic anarchy and the helpless spoil of some other nation? Never! The outcry against our call, the demand that we serve as guardians of freedom, is as empty as the cant about 'militarism' and 'imperialism' is devoid of sense and meaning.
    Henry Cabot Lodge, Opening Remarks to Republican National Convention, June 20th, 1900
    Senator Lodge's skillful correlation of the Bryan Administration and the Democrats with anti-imperialism, and more so his phrasing which insinuated communal, party-wide agreement on the topic of the former colonies, proved a sharp blow to Hanna's prospects. Hanna was often mum on the matter, but he did not exemplify the same attitude toward jingoism that Lodge and Roosevelt had. Lodge was meant to be impartial, and, in truth, he refused to outright endorse any one candidate, but this dig at anti-expansionists (which, as previously mentioned did result in immense applause) served to help bolster the governor.

    Lodge may also have influenced the final platform proposal decided later that day, as a plank calling more explicitly for authority over the Western Hemisphere was confirmed by a voice vote over the objections of a minor opposition. Regardless of the undoubted divisiveness over the limits of American sovereignty, this victory for the expansionist faction seemed to, for the time being, settle the issue. After all, no one walked out of the auditorium upon final passage of the platform, as had been the case in 1896 regarding bimetallism.

    With the rising of the sun on June 21st arrived the third day of the Republican National Convention. Following a brief opening prayer, Senator Lodge declared that the business of nomination was next on the agenda. As established by the traditional convention rules, proponents for individual candidates were instructed to rise and present short nominating speeches. Three candidates were to be formally nominated, in order: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Hanna, and Henry Clay Evans. The call took place alphabetically, with Alabama first.

    Mr. P.D. Barker of Alabama immediately yielded the floor to Massachusetts, whence Lieutenant General Arthur MacArthur, Jr., formally proclaimed the nomination of Governor Roosevelt for the presidency. His speech ended in rapturous applause, but much of it may have been out of respect for the commander's actions during the war with Spain. Hanna's nominating speech came from Senator Joseph Foraker of Ohio, then seconded by John F. Jones of South Carolina. They chiefly spoke to Hanna's merits as a businessman and, to a minor extent, his activities in the Senate. Henry Evans was nominated by Representative Henry R. Gibson (R-TN) in a manner similar to his vice presidential nomination four years previous, and it invoked positive reaction primarily from the Tennessee delegation. Then, at Gibson's closing remarks, Senator Lodge instructed the reading clerk to begin calling the roll.


    1593892123460.png

    The first call, as all were despondently aware, did not succeed in designating a nominee. Hanna led Roosevelt by about ten delegates, but he remained far behind the necessary threshold to secure the nomination. No longer bound by state party decision-making, and incidentally invalidating months of toilsome work from both of major campaigns, the delegates were now free to be swayed on the convention floor. Hanna and Day's tactic to rely on state machines to decide the nominee on the first ballot failed, placing the ball squarely in Roosevelt's court. The New Yorker had a knack for instinct, perhaps a consequence of his military service, and an indecisive nominating convention seemed to play to this significant advantage over the more calculative Hanna. Just prior to the second ballot, Roosevelt operatives exuberantly persuaded as many delegates as possible to shift the numbers dramatically enough to generate unanimous consent for his nomination, just as Harrison accomplished in 1896.

    This did not manifest on the second ballot, nor on the third. Numbers slightly fluctuated betwixt the leading contendors, but neither again ascended above the 400 count. The campaigns, their die-hard delegates, and the candidates themselves brazenly refused to budge. This deadlock threatened to stall the convention indefinitely. An infuriated William McKinley personally wired Hanna and Roosevelt with a plea to resolve the ordeal in a cordial manner, but neither camp backed down. "Whispers swirled throughout the convention hall," wrote Jay Morgan, "speculatively started by Senator Platt, that Roosevelt refused an offer to serve as Hanna's vice president. It was hardly surprising, knowing Roosevelt. The only post he desired on the federal level other than the presidency was Secretary of War, and Hanna, of course, curtly disallowed his opponent to have a say on foreign affairs in his administration."

    Behind the scenes, the two camps warred. Once the convention adjourned for the day, Hanna continued to deride his competitor, spilling rumors to the delegates of Roosevelt's alleged plot to bolt from the party if he should be denied the nomination. In the midst of the conundrum, the Ohioan reportedly screamed to a conciliatory colleague, "I will not have that damned cowboy in the White House!" Roosevelt felt much the same about Hanna, letting it be known that the Ohioan's affinity with organized capital, "exonerated Democratic doubts regarding our earnestness for reform." Senator Hanna was not one to shy away from the cause of corporate aggrandizement, and during his career indeed associated consolidation with prosperity. Personal attacks aside, Hanna's rampant conservative program may have been what kept Roosevelt from forging a compromise.
     
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    Part 2: Chapter V - Page 32 - 1900 RNC II
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    Internal View of the Republican National Convention, June 19th, 1900 - Source: Wiki Commons

    When all was at its bleakest, a new prospect appeared at the dawn of the fourth day. Exhausted delegates disgusted with the bitter deadlock began suggesting the introduction of a 'dark horse' candidate. Deep-rooted proponents of the two leaders stayed determined on winning the nomination, but others believed that the contest could only feasibly conclude with a new name selected. Several fresh faces arose in the proceeding ballot, among them Henry Cabot Lodge and Robert Todd Lincoln, but one man alone stood out from the pack. Proving to peel away a significant amount of delegates from Hanna and Roosevelt, the campaign for Senator Albert J. Beveridge of Indiana was born.

    In a peculiar twist of destiny, Beveridge had been approached by a member of the national committee on the evening of June 21st with the offer. The Hoosier contemplated his options, and subsequently complied. Already a delegate from his home state, Beveridge himself was present at the Republican convention when his name appeared in the ensuing roll calls the following morning. Delegates seized the moment with avidity. Representative Evans bowed out from consideration on the fifth ballot and endorsed Beveridge, markedly boosting his chances. Governor Roosevelt, who was a personal friend and political ally of Beveridge, somberly accepted the writing on the wall. He therefore wired his supporters to champion the nomination of Beveridge for president. That put him over the top.


    1112221
    One of the single most contentious and unpredictable conventions in modern history thereby resulted in the nomination of Indiana Senator Beveridge for president (humorously, the fourth straight Republican nominee from that state). He appeared to be suitably strait-laced for the conservative wing and adequately internationalist for the imperialist wing. Beveridge matched President Bryan in terms of oratory skills as well as age, 38 years to 40, respectively. The nominee proceeded to deliver a fiery acceptance speech, the first of its kind delivered by the party's nominee personally at the convention, with as much passion as his famous 'March of the Flag' address.

    Party victories, as such, are nothing; the progress of the American people is everything. Harmony with the onward movement of the Nation makes a party invincible. Opposition to the progress of the Republic means deserved defeat. In our internal commerce and industry it is toward cooperation and combination. This is only another way of saying that civilization is progressing. But while we are in harmony with the times, we are not blind to the evils which cling to the great trunk which itself is sound. But we insist that the tree shall not be felled because of the evils. When combinations of capital attempt to arbitrarily raise prices from motives of mere greed or unjustly reduce wages merely to increase dividends, they must be prevented, punished. But apply a remedy - do not administer a medicine of death.
    Now, a word for our 'enlightened' foes of expansion. Let men beware how they employ the term "self-government." It is a sacred term. It is the watchword at the door of the inner temple of liberty, for liberty does not always mean self-government. Self-government is a method of liberty - the highest, simplest, best - and it is acquired only after centuries of study and struggle and experiment and instruction and all the elements of the progress of man. Self-government is no base and common thing to be bestowed on the merely audacious. It is the degree which crowns the graduate of liberty, not the name of liberty's infant class, who have not yet mastered the alphabet of freedom. Savage blood, Oriental blood, Malay blood, Spanish example - are these the elements of self-government? The rule of liberty that all just government derives itself from the consent of the governed applies only to those who are capable of self-government. We govern the Indians without their consent, we govern our territories without their consent, wee govern our children without their consent.
    Albert J. Beveridge, Speech Accepting the Republican Nomination, June 22nd, 1900

    In the spirit of reconciliation and in recognition that Roosevelt approved of the nominee while Hanna certainly did not, Beveridge floated the business-oriented Senator Chauncey Depew for vice president. To Republicans, notably elder statesmen in the business wing, Depew was remarkably popular. He served the nation politically since 1856, when he championed the election of John C. Fremont for president. Depew also held a degree of appeal for curious Northern Bourbons due to his history in the railroad industry and law service to Cornelius Vanderbilt. Hanna, who privately preferred Cornelius N. Bliss for the slot, reluctantly agreed.

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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.
     
    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
     
    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.
     
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