« PreviousContinue »
the convention, but every time he arose he attracted attention, and the influence he exerted was remarkable. At the critical time during the . convention his was the voice that rallied the Blaine forces. Three ballots had been taken. · Blaine gained on each ballot. The final and desperate effort was made by the other candidate under the lead of the dashing Foraker, in Sherman's behalf, for an adjournment. There was pandemonium, and there threatened to be a panic.
In the midst of the storm Major McKinley arose. He waved his hand and the tumult.ceased. Calm and like granite he stood the master spirit of the convention. His short speech was carried in clarion tones all over the immense hall. As a friend of Blaine, he said, he recognized and respected the rights of the friends of other candidates to secure an adjournment, and concluded :
The excitement in the convention hall had become intense. Thecdore Roosevelt, the youthful New Yorker, who came finally, in opposition to his wishes, to be associated with Major McKinley on a presidential ticket; George W. Curtis, the editor of Harper's Weekly, and others, were on chairs yelling to be heard. General Henderson, of Missouri, the chairman, was trying to quell the tumult, and the massive and phlegmatic Dutcher, of New York, one of President Arthur's adlierents, was trying with might and main to secure recognition from the chair.
In the midst of the confusion Major McKinley arose. Though not a tall man, he seemed to tower above those around him. His face was pale, like a piece of marble statuary, except that his eyes fairly blazed. In clarion tones his voice rang out, and the tumult ceased. It was evident that he was the dominating spirit of that convention. For a moment he stood like a splendid granite column, and then, silence having been secured, said that, as a friend of Blaine, he respected the rights of the other candidates to secure an adjournment. He did not say he favored an adjournment, but added :
“Let the motion be put and let everybody favorable to the nomination of Blaine vote against it."
That settled it. Under Major McKinley's leadership, assumeci spontaneously and boldly, the Blaine men accepted the challenge, the motion for an adjournment was voted down, and the victory was won. It was not defeat that Major McKinley turned aside—the situation was not so serious as that—but in a crisis, when the Blaine men were getting demoralized and the convention was turning itself into a mob, the Major, leaping to the front, by one command marshaled the Blaine men into line and pressed them forward to their already sighted victory. Major McKinley was chairman of the committee on resolutions at that conven
tion, and when he appeared to read the platform he received an ovation that was one of the features of that great event.
Major McKinley's next appearance at a republican national convention was in 1888, and this time he came at the head of the Ohio delegation, and in John Sherman's behalf. At this convention no candidate had been able to secure a majority. Sherman, Alger, Allison, Harrison, Gresham, and Depew, all had a strong following, but none was near a nomination. Major McKinley, at the head of the Ohio delegation, instructed to vote solidly for Sherman, was one of the heroes of the convention. His entrance at each session was greeted with the wildest enthusiasm. Day and night he was at work among the various state delegations, laboring to secure votes for Ohio's great financier. On the sixth ballot a delegate voted for William McKinley, and was greeted by cheers which swelled again and again before silence could be restored. The next state that was called cast seventeen votes for Major McKinley, and again the cheers broke forth. The drift was unmistakably setting toward McKinley like an ocean tide.
Everyone expected to see the Garfield nomination of 1880 repeated. But they were disappointed. The roll call was interrupted by the Major, who, leaping upon a chair at the end of the middle aisle, pale, but calın and determined, uttered a speech which, unpremeditated as it was, has seldom been surpassed for eloquence, candor and unselfish loyalty. In it he declared his inability to be a candidate with honor to himself, and proclaimed his unswerving loyalty to the Ohio chieftain. The tide was turned. On the seventh ballot Benjamin Harrison was named, but McKinley went home to Ohio stronger than ever in the hearts of his fellow men.
Some time before the republican national convention of 1892, held in Minneapolis, Minn., June 7, Governor McKinley had privately and publicly expressed himself as in favor of the renomination of President Harrison. Having committed himself, the governor stood by his declaration. Ile was elected a delegate-at-large as a Harrison man, and the understanding was that Ohio would vote solidly for the President's nomination.
The convention elected Governor McKinley its permanent chairman. R. M. Nevin, of Dayton, was his alternate. Before he took the chair as presiding officer the governor specifically charged Mr. Nevin to vote for Harrison. Only one vote was taken on the nomination for president. When Ohio was called ex-Governor Foraker said Ohio asked time for a consultation, and after a pause the vote of the state was announced as: Harrison, 2 votes; William McKinley, 44. Chairman McKinley immediately sprang from his seat and shouted:
“I challenge the vote of Ohio!".
A brief and animated debate then ensued between ex-Governor Foraker and Governor Mckinley, in which Foraker told the chairman that he had ceased to be a member of the Ohio delegation on assuming the post of presiding officer, and could not be recognized. Finally a roll call of the Ohio delegation was ordered, and this resulted, McKinley, 45; Harrison, 1. The only vote for Harrison cast by the Ohio delegation was that cast by Governor McKinley's alternate. President Harrison was renominated on the first and only ballot, but the governor had 182 votes cast for him despite the fact that he was not a candidate. At the conclusion of the balloting Governor McKinley took the floor and moved that the president's nomination be made unanimous, and the motion carried. The governor was chosen chairman of the commission that officially notified the president of his nomination.
The result of the campaign of 1892 was a surprise to both the leading political parties. Grover Cleveland, the democratic candidate for president, was elected, and both the house and senate had large democratic majorities. The political revolution was remarkable, and was largely due to the populist movement, and to fusion between the populists and democrats in the south and west. The clamor for the free coinage of silver, at the ratio of 16 to 1, and the industrial depression which set in in 1893, brought Governor McKinley into the public eye as the man calculated to restore prosperity to the country. Meanwhile he adhered strictly to his duties as governor of Ohio.
Great Campaign of 1894.
The years 1893 and 1894 were years of sore trial to the people of the United States. The incoming of a democratic administration and the fear that the tariff would be again overhauled had frightened timid people. Other influences combined to augment the general distrust, and soon a panic ensued, which was widespread, and devastating in its effects.
Corporations were pushed to the wall, banks closed their doors, solvent firms sought refuge in the hands of receivers, great financial institutions resorted to extraordinary combinations in the hope of stemming the almost resistiess tide, the people took alarm and drained the savings banks of their deposits, orders for merchandise and commodities stopped, and whole communities of wage-earners were discharged from mines, mills, factories and workshops.
In the face of financial gloom and despair, the financiers, the business men, the captains of industry, exhibited courage, determination and the highest order of patriotism. They risked their fortunes in the effort to stem the current rapidly running against them. They stood in the ranks with angry and panic-stricken men and women and pointed out the folly of withdrawing money from sound and well-managed banks. They kept open their mills and factories until forced to close for want of orders. They, by their enterprise, forced a return of some gold to our shores. The tide of calamity following the advent of the democratic party to power at one time bade fair to engulf the business interests of the nation.
Labor, likewise, acted heroically. Reduction of wages was acceptedi. Factories went on half time without a protest from the employees, and thousands daily joined the mournful army of the unemployed with the cherished hope that a few weeks would bring about better times. Here and there the cry went up for bread or work, and at such gatherings the socialistic spirit naturally came to the front. The hundreds of thousands, however, suddenly emerging from a long period of prosperity, did not feel at once the pinch of poverty. They were peaceable and hopeful, and, like the business men of the country, turned to the party in power for some remedy—to the party which promised so much to the wage-earner.
And what was the remedy offered ? In the late summer of 1894 a tariff bill was passed which deepened the shade in the picture above given. It brought about greater suspense in our industries. It filled with uncertainty every branch of industry and trade. In fact, millions of anxious, careworn American citizens who had looked for statesmanlike action found only indifference and incapacity both in the law and the methods employed to secure its passage. Nothing was being done to turn the tide and relieve the people. With no steady, courageous hand and comprehensive brain at the helm, national legislation had drifted into an uncertainty that bewildered even the friends of the administration. At this crisis the calm wisdom, vast experience, infinite industrial knowledge and courageous determination of William McKinley was called for by the people of the United States in the most unmistakable manner. It does not detract from the achievements or reputation of any other contemporary republican leaders to say that there never was in time of peace such a universal demand for a statesman, and it is doubtful if there ever was another such campaign as that which McKinley opened in September, 1894.
In this man, merely the governor of one of our forty-four states, the people recognized a statesman of courage and action. He was in touch with the labor and with the industrial and the financial interests of the country. In such an emergency they could rely upon his advice being sound and for the good of the country. It is said by those who know, that there was not a state in the north at this crisis in the nation's history that did not clamor for McKinley. The Ohio republican state committee was almost in despair at the demands that came for McKinley's time. Every county in Ohio wanted him to speak in it, and it was a physical impossibility for the committee to meet the demands and requests which poured in upon it. He was not only wanted because of his pleasing personality and earnest devotion to the republican party, but because he of all others was best able to crystallize the sentiment of protection and win the country back again to the American system, under which the nation was prosperous and the people contented and happy.
In commenting on this campaign, Mr. Samuel G. McClure, who was with McKinley part of the time, says: “It is a simple statement of facts to say that the tours made by McKinley in the past seven weeks have no parallel in American political history. The swings around the circle made by Presidents Cleveland and Harrison are the only journeys in recent years which may be compared to them, and they were not in any strict sense of the word political at all. The desire to see the chief exe