Page images
[ocr errors]

notification of his nomination or a request that he the noise of dissent has grown fainter as the excite. will consent to be a candidate. It is urged by influ. ment of the campaign rises. The party is composed ential members of the party that as a Democrat he altogether of men who had already had the selfwould be “ embarrassed” by such a notification discipline of giving up party for the sake of prinand request, and that the “ crisis " is so grave that ciple. Every one in it had been originally either a they must sacrifice their party to their patriotism, Democrat or a Republican, and had severed all his and save their country by voting for the Democratic old political ties to unite with those who, like him. candidate without his knowledge “ officially"-on self, cared more for reform than old party comforts. the sly, as it were. Until their convention met To men who had already made one such sacrifice,

another was not difficult. The People's Party is bi. vertebrate as well as bi. metallic. It was built up of the old Greenback and Anti - monopoly elements, reinforced by castaways of the Union Labor, National, and other third party en. terprises. Its members had become well acquainted with the adversities of fusion and amalgamation, and used to being “ traded” out of existence.

One of the plainest looks on the face of the St. Louis convention was anxietyanxiety of the managers who for years had been planning to get by fusion

— with Republicans or Democrats—the substance if not the name of victory, and saw in the gathering many resolute “middle of the road” opponents; anxiety of the mass of the delegates lest they were being sold out; anxiety, inost surprising of all, among the radicals, lest by insisting too much upon their own radicalism they might explode a coalescence which, if left to gather headway, might later be invaluable to them. The predominant anxiety found its most striking expression in the preparation and adoption

of the platform. In the these millions had hoped that theirs would be the committee room every suggestion for the utterance main body of a victorious army. This hope ends in of any novelty in principle or application was ruththeir reduction to the position of an irregular force lessly put down. When the platform was reported of guerillas fighting outside the regular ranks, the to the convention, the previous question was at once fruit of the victory, if won, to be appropriated by moved, and the platform adopted without a word of a general who would not recognize them. Even more debate. Even in the Democratic convention half a interesting is it that this is cheerfully accepted by day was given to discussing the articles of political most of the rank and file of the People's Party. No faith. No motion to reconsider this closure and protest of sufficient importance to cause a halt was secure a discussion of the principles of the movemade at the first, when the shock was greatest, and ment was made. Even the radicals sat silent. In


the proceedings of the convention the creed of the party was therefore practically not considered. In a large view the only subject which engrossed the gathering was whether the party should keep on in its own path or merge for this campaign with the Democracy. The solicitude to do nothing which should hinder the Rising of the People, if that had really begun, was the motive that led to the indorsement of Bryan. Most of the three hundred, over one hundred of them from Texas alone, who refused to unite in this, would have joined its one thousand supporters had the protection they prayed for against the old Democracy been given them by the exaction of guarantees from the Democratic candidate and campaign managers. It was not that they loved Bryan less. A determination that the People's Party and that for which it stood should not be lost if this year's battle was lost by its ally, Democracy, accounts for the nomination of Watson. The majority which insisted that all the precedents should be violated and the Vice-President nominated before the President, and which rejected Sewall and took Thomas E. Watson of Georgia-a second Alexander H. Stephens in delicacy of physique and robustness of eloquence and loyalty to the people—was composed, as the result showed, mostly of the same men who afterward joined in the nomination of Bryan. It is true there was a strong opposition to Sewall, because he was national bank president, railroad director and corporation man. But the nomination speeches and the talk of the delegates showed convincingly that the same men who meant to support Bryan were equally well minded that there should not be an absolute surrender to the Democracy. The Democracy must yield something in return for the

nation before the convention-Colonel S. F. Norton, much greater concession the People's Party was to author of the “ Ten Men of Money Island," of which give.

hundreds of thousands of copies have been sold, who Contrary to expectation and to the plan by which

for twenty years has been giving his means and his the two conventions had been brought to St. Louis life energy to agitating for an ideal currency. The on the same dates, the silver convention exercised People's Party believes really in a currency redeemno influence on that of the Populists. The delegates able in all the products of human labor, and not in of the latter listened with unconcealed impatience gold alone, nor in gold and silver. A party which to every reference to the silver body, and refused

hates Democracy accepted the Democratic nominee, to allow its members any rights upon the floor. The and a party which has no faith in silver as a panacea report of the Conference Committee was listened to accepted silver practically as the sole issue of the without interest. The tumultuous refusal of the campaign. Peter Cooper, the venerable philan convention to allow Senator Stewart of the silver thropist, candidate for President on the Greenback .convention an extension of time when he was ad ticket in 1876—whose never absent air cushion Nast dressing them, was one of the many signs that the by one of his finest strokes of caricature converted convention cared less for silver than did the Demo into a crown for General Butler when running as cratic convention. Most of the Democrats really Greenback and Labor candidate for Governor of believe free silver is a great reform. That is as far Massachusetts-presided over the first days of the as they have got. But it was hard to find among convention from within the frame of a very poorly the Populists any who would not privately admit painted portrait. But later, by accident or design, that they knew silver was only the most trifling about the time when it thus became plain that the installment of reform, and many—a great many

convention would make only a platonic declaration did not conceal their belief that it was no reform at of its paper money doctrines, and would put for. all. The members of the People's Party have had

ward only Free Silver” for actual campaign use, most of their education on the money question from the face of the old leader disappeared and was seen the Greenbackers among them—men like the only no more with its homely inspiration above the chair. candidate who contended with Bryan, for the nomi. man's head.




The solution of the paradoxical action of the con- ization itself. Certainly the strongest single body of vention as to Democracy and money was the craving believers in the convention was this of anti-monopoly for a union of reform forces which burned with all in everything, including the currency. These men the fires of hope and fear in the breasts of the dele- would much rather have declared for the demone gates, and overcame all their academic differences tization of gold than the remonetization of silver. of economic doctrine and all their old political That their strength was formidable-formidable prejudices. The radicals had men who were eager enough to have split the convention near the middle, to raise the convention against the stultification if not to have carried it-no one could deny who studthey thought it was perpetrating. If the issue had ied on the ground the feelings and beliefs of the dele. been made there was an even chance, good arithme. gates. But those who might have called this force ticians among the observers thought, that the con- into activity were quiescent, for Col. Norton's can. vention could have been carried by them, and a didacy was unsought, impromptu and without or“ stalwart” ticket put into the field on a platform ganization. The leaders did not lead, and their

followers did not clamor to be led. “ General ” J. S. Coxey of the Commonweal Army, who has left large property interests to suffer while he has devoted himself to educating the people on his “Good Roads" plan of internal improvements, to be paid for by non-interest bearing bonds, was present, and made no resistance outside of the Committee of Resolutions. Ex-Governor Waite of Colorado, whose name will be cheered in any assembly of labor men or Populists, as the only Governor who has called out the militia to protect the workingmen against violence at the hands of their employers, for the sake of harmony forbore to press his claims at the head of a contesting delegation from Colorado. Senator Peffer, who has shown an ample courage in every emergency at Washington, sat silent, though he was bitterly opposed to the methods of the managers. The fear ruled that unless the reform forces united this time they would never again have the opportunity to unite. It was in the air that there must be union. The footfall of the hour for action was heard approach. ing. It was a phsychological moment of rapprochement against an appalling danger which for thirty years now had been seen rising in the sky. If the radicals made a mistake, it was a patriotic mistake. The delegates knew perfectly well that the silver miners were spending a great deal of money and politics to get them to do just what they were doing. They knew what the Democratic politicians were doing with the same object. They knew that with some of their own politicians the anxiety to return to the old political home was not dissociated from visions of possible fatted calf. But though they

knew all this, they went on by an overwhelming mafar in advance of that adopted in Omaha in 1892, one jority to do what the mine owners and the Demodemanding, for instance, the public ownership of all crats and the traders wanted them to do, and the monopolies. This contingent felt that the social acquiescence of the mass of the party in their action question is more than the money question, the is now beyond question. We can comprehend this money question more than the silver question, and better when we see men like Edward Bellamy, the the silver question more than the candidacy of any head of the Nationalists, and Henry George of the one person. If the money question was to be the Single Taxers, and the Rev. W. D. P. Bliss of the issue it wanted it to be the whole money question- Christian Socialists also taking the same attitude the question how an honest dollar can be made and for precisely the same reason that the real instead of being only stumbled on in placers or

issue is “between men and money," in Bellamy's bonanzas, and how it can be made as elastic as the phrase ; and they cannot afford to side with money creative will of the people and as expansive as civil. against men.






REGENT disenssimi and editorials in the serious


journals and reviews indicate that the East does not fully understand either the strength of the silver sentiment or the methods and arguments by which it is being advanced in the interior and West. During several weeks past I have been lecturing before various Chautauquas, summer assemblies and colleges of Ohio, Illinois, Indiana. Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa. These

assemblies, continuing through ten or twelve days with their summer schools, lectures and concerts by the best platf jrm speakers of the country, assemble audiences at once vast and widely representative. Here pulses and throbs the intellectual life of the entire section. Conversation with a large number of representative men has convinced me that as Republicans we must adopt new methods of discussion and redouble our energies if we are to destroy the silver heresy and maintain sound money. The outline of a single ad. dress given to an assembly of farmers in a country schoolhouse in Iowa will interpret the methods and arguments used throughout the entire West.

The chief feature of the speaker's address was his charts. Upon one end of a blackboard was written an estimate of the number of millions of bushels of oats raised this year by the farmers of Iowa, and a further estimate of the value of the crop at the market price of 13 cents a bushel.

The Populist portrayed the farmer working like a slave through eight months of the year to produce this 13-cent bushel of oats, while the railway in a single day and night hauled the grain to Chicago, where it receives 7 of the 13 cents as its recompense. Now the first cent of the seven extorted will, urged the orator, take away all hope of the farmer paying the interest on his mortgage; the second cent will take from wife or daughter woolen dress warm against the winter; the third will take the boy and girl out of school and college and condemn them to the drudgery of the farmhand or housemaid; the fourth cent will take away all possibility of purchasing the review, the newspaper, the book, and drive men back to barbarism. When the orator reached this point in his discussion the audience was inflamed to the highest point. At that moment self-interest and prejudice armed his listeners against all arguments for sound money. Had the Republican committee been there when the assembly dispersed to present each farmer with a library devoted to the exposure

of the silver heresy, even the multitude of books would not have availed for reversing the fariner's judgment or convincing him that the gold standard is not responsible for his misfortunes, or that free silver is not the unfailing panacea for all his ills.

In many of the rural districts class hatred and sectionalism are invoked against McKinley and the Republican party. The farmer is told that the reason why the railroads extort 7 cents out of the 13 paid for the bushel of oats is that the railroad must pay interest on watered stock representing two or three times the cost of building the road. Now the argument of the Populist is that this water must be squeezed out of the stock before the farmer can hope for better rates. As a means to this desired end it is urged that since railways cannot increase the fare of three cents a mile, the success of free silver will throw the railway into the hands of a receiver and force an entire readjustment. Like dynamite, class hatred is a powerful weapon, and the farmer is urged to use it against his ancient enemy. the cor poration. By the skillful use of half truths and falsehoods the prophet of free silver succeeds in inciting the farmer to punish the railways in the hope that some time in the long run benefit will accrue to him in the shape of lessened charges for transportation.

Strangely enough, one of the most effective argu. ments that is being used is directed not against capital, nor against ability as represented by the employer, but against the trades unions of the cities. The farmers affirm that carpenters, plasterers and masons have, through strikes and riots, succeeded in maintaining a false standard of wages. In the face of the falling prices for the farmer, with wheat selling for 60 cents a bushel, the carpenter and mason has, through the long period of financial depression since 1893, held his wage up to 40 and 50 cents an hour, all this, too, despite the fact that the farmer of the great interior and western states has during the same period toiled not eight hours a day, but fourteen or sixteen, and received on an average but 78 cents per day. By reason of their isolation the fariners feel that it has been impossible for them to organize trades unions enabling them to maintain their rights in the same way that the laboring men in the cities have defended themselves against wrong. Now the problem that fronts the farmer, the Populist urges, is how shall the wage of the laborer in the city be equalized with the wage of


It is my

the laborer in the pasture or meadow. In nature not fill such a bottle, and the larger the ocean and there is a law by which the water in the spout of the greater the vacuum of the bottle, the tighter is the tea-kettle finds the same level with the water in the cork pushed in. Under such conditions the old the kettle itself. But wages will not equalize them. orthodox methods of campaign are impotent. A selves; the task of equalization asks the farmer's aid. new kind of literature even must be evolved. Many The gist of the silver orator's argument touching difficulties hitherto unknown have been developed. this point is this: Suppose Bryan is elected and the Then the successful tariff speaker is not always a country goes to a silver basis. The carpenter's or successful disputant of the financial question. A mason's wages will still stand at 40 or 50 cents an clear view of the silver question involves wide read. hour, for at the very best he can scarcely hope for ing and experience and a trained mind, -conditions an advance in wages of more than 5 or 10 cents an asking for years, not weeks of education. Up to the hour. But with the small increase in amount of present moment the great need in the Republican wages will come the halving of the purchasing power campaign is a need of illustrated literature. A short, of his money. But for his 60-cent bushel of wheat spicy statement with a cartoon or picture will dis. the farmer will, under the new conditions, obtain tribute itself; it has wings and feet and walks or $1.20. Not capital, not ability, not labor, but land, fies throughout the township or county. Contrary. therefore, is to receive the benefit of the financial wise, long pamphlets, studied financial discussions change. Thus the wages of the farmer will be made and the abstract documents sent out will never be to approach those of the carpenter or inason, and read by farmers, but will serve during the coming that, too, without riot or strike or the use of winter for lighting the kitchen fire of the man who

is supposed to distribute them. One of the members Unfortunately this method secures the transfer of the English Cabinet has said that Lord Rosebery of a part of the wages from the pocket of the car. was defeated and Salisbury elected by reason of the penter or mason in the city to the pocket of the large posters pasted on barns and the cartoons sent farnier in the country. It gains for one class of out through patent insides of newspapers. Beyond workingmen at the expense of another.

a peradventure, a new kind of campaign document firm conviction that the election of McKinley and must be invented. The eye offers a short route to the success of the principles, financial and economic, reason and judgment. The poster as an influence in for which he stands, will increase the farmer's waye the campaign offers more hope than any other without lessening the wage of the laboring men in method of public instruction. cities. A box filled with ballots representing such After patient investigation I am convinced that arguments and half-truths would not equal a single the present industrial depression has its explanation vote cast by wise men in the days of Adams, Hamil. in causes other than the appreciation of gold or the ton and Jefferson.

depreciation of silver. In the long run the farmers Much is being said about the campaign of educa not less than the laboring men in cities have only tion. Unfortunately, unto the present moment the misfortune and sorrow as the result of the election education has been largely on the part of the Popu- of Bryan. But my acquaintance with the rural lists. The zeal of the silver orator is something to districts of states like Illinois and Iowa makes it stir the wonder and alarm of all intelligent men. impossible for me to believe that the farmers will Like the zealot of old, the silverite rises yet a great ever consent to a policy of repudiation. These states while before day to compass one convert before were settled largely by New England in connection milking his cows or finding his way into the fields. with the Kansas and Nebraska troubles in 1857. No All day long he hastens his footsteps that he may section in the entire country represents a higher have an hour in the evening for visiting some uncon- average of intelligence and culture; no section buys vinced neighbor. He returns from the field to take more books and magazines, or sends a larger proporup the argument where he dropped the thread in tion of its young inen and women to the academy the morning. He counts himself the divinely or- and college. Beecher and Gough used to say no dained apostle of the new financial movement. He section in the land gave a more appreciative hearing. goes to church on Sunday to obtain inspiration for The country district has always furnished the lead prosecuting his mission during the week. Farmers: ers to the city. Eighty five per cent. of the great picnics by streams and in groves are held. The financiers, lawyers, bankers, merchants and profes. bicycle race, the horse race, the wrestling inatch and sional men of the cities have come from the country, the silver debate increase the crowds. When the or from the small villages. The leaders of the next sound money orator begins his argument he finds generation in the city are to-day toiling behind the himself working against signal odds. He who starts plow in the country. I have abiding confidence in out to convert others finds it hard to confess he him. the intelligence and morality and sober second self has been wrong. He is impervious to argument. thought of the farmers and their sons. Once the His mind may be compared to a bottle empty and question is fully before them they will refuse discorked as it floats in the sea. The ocean itself can- honor and repudiation.

« PreviousContinue »