Page images
PDF
EPUB

cutive of the nation in both of these cases and to do him honor were the great moving causes that prompted display and large attendance. But in the tours which McKinley made, the official function was entirely absent. In its stead was the wish to honor the greatest exponent of a great cause and to hear the tariff discussed by its master. On the part of McKinley it was very far from a matter of self-seeking. For years he has always been at the service of the republican party whenever it saw fit to command him and it was in his power to comply. He had made remarkable tours before this one, and in each instance at the request of the committee where he was called to speak. This was conspicuously the case this year.

“The combined tours far exceeded the distance half round the world. It is one of the marvels of the man that he was able to undergo all the fatigue which this immense feat implies, and yet close the campaign in as good health as when he began and without having lost a pound in weight. Very often he was the last of the little party to retire, and almost invariably he was the first to rise. He seemed tireless, and every state committee in the Mississippi valley and beyond it apparently took it for granted that the gallant champion of 'patriotism, protection and prosperity' could not be over-worked. When he consented to make one speech for them, they forthwith arranged half a dozen short stops en route, and kept him talking almost constantly from daybreak till late at night. He agreed to make forty-six set speeches in all during the campaign, and when he had concluded he had not only made them, but had spoken at no less than 325 other points as well. For over eight weeks he averaged better than seven speeches a day. At least two of these daily were to large audiences where he was compelled to talk for an hour or more. The others varied from ten minutes to half an hour. in length, and were frequently addressed to crowds of five thousand people. On several occasions, as the special train was hurrying hiin along, he was called out for a talk before he had breakfasted, and would find to his surprise that one, two or three thousand persons had gathered at that early hour to see and hear him. It was not McKinley who sought all this, it was the people who sought McKinley.

"It did not require any great perception to discover that the glowing accounts which the press associations carried about his meetings were in fact modest and moderate narratives of what transpired daily. The correspondents were expected to give non-partisan accounts, and did so, though some of the democratic papers, which were served by the press associations, were growling at what they assumed was the exaggeration the correspondents were guilty of. The fact is, the meetings were not overdrawn in the least. If anything, the press narratives did not do them full justice, simply because to have done so would have called forth general protests from the democratic papers and the charge that the accounts were highly colored. It is not strange that this should be the case. No one who was not with McKinley part or all of the time can form an adequate conception of the enthusiasm and interest with which he was received in all parts of the nation. It had to be seen to be realized.”

Another graphic story of this campaign was told by Harry Miner, the correspondent of the Cincinnati Times-Star, who accompanied Governor McKinley. Said Mr. Miner:

“Governor McKinley is winding up what has been, perhaps, the most remarkable political campaigning tour made by any man in this country. He has spoken in sixteen states, namely, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Kentucky, Louisiana, West Virginia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and New York. He has made as many as twenty-three speeches in one day, most of them, of course, being short. It has been estimated by those who have been with him that he has addressed two million people.

"The audiences which have flocked to hear McKinley have been enormous. In many places the crowds that went to hear him were the largest ever gathered in those places upon any occasion.

“People traveled for great distances to hear him. At Lincoln, Neb., there were among his hearers 500 cowboys who had ridden ninety miles on their mustangs for the sole purpose of hearing protection's chief exponent. At St. Paul there were several men in the audience who came 300 miles from their homes in Dakota to hear him speak, and at Huntington, West Virginia, a man traveled 200 miles to hear McKinley's speech.

“It is probable that the largest meeting was at Hutchinson, Kansas, where the number of outsiders was estimated at not less than 30,000, coming from Texas, Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma and Indian Territory. In the Eastern States the crowds were very large, but perhaps not quite so much so as in the Western States. It is estimated that the crowd at Albany numbered not less than 10,000 persons. At Utica, Syracuse and Philadelphia many thousands were turned away from the doors of the large halls, and huge as the crowd was it was not so large as the crowd outside, which was not even able to get inside of the doors.

"It was a good deal easier for McKinley to talk to audiences this year on political issues than it was two years ago. These great popular clemonstrations would seem to indicate two things——that McKinley is respected, confided in and admired by the people of the country, and that the people want to know about protection. Before he was telling the people what would happen; now he was telling them how to undo what they had already done. His prophecy of two years before has been proved by events to be correct.

"It would hardly be fair to accuse the committees that had charge of McKinley of being unfeeling, but it is certainly true that they worked him like a horse, or more properly speaking, like that tireless and amiable animal, the uncomplaining mule. From the moment that a state committee laid hands on him they worked him without cessation, making him get up at six o'clock in the morning, take a bite of breakfast and rush out and make a speech, and then keep on making speeches until late at night. No word of complaint ever came from McKinley, but he was most awfully tired out. But once did he say anything which indicated that he felt he was being overworked. He addressed two immense meetings in Syracuse, N. Y., finishing his last speech shortly after ten o'clock. His train was not to leave until eleven, and on his way to the hotel after the last meeting he turned to the Mayor and expressed assumed surprise that he was to be allowed to waste a full hour which he might have put in in making another speech. The Mayor was not familiar with McKinley's dry humor and hastened to apologize for not having arranged a third meeting.

“However, the next night at Philadelphia, McKinley had a chance to make three speeches, and did so.

"McKinley found a queer feature of political campaigning in the South. Political meetings there are usually held on Sunday. The reason for this is that men in the country districts are adverse to losing a day's time from their work and demand that political stumpers shall do their talking on the Sabbath day. McKinley was asked to make a few speeches in Mississippi and Alabama on Sunday, while returning from New Orleans, but he gently declined, of course.”

One of the most interesting of these meetings was that held at New Orleans, in October. The Protectionists of that state had been clamorous for Governor McKinley's services, but had been repeatedly refused by the Ohio State Committee. Finally a representative came to plead the case, and consent was given, the Governor's dates in Ohio being canceled. His trip through the South was an ovation. Enthusiastic crowds greeted him all along the line, and at several places he spoke briefly. The meeting in New Orleans was held in an immense amphitheater accommodating more than 12,000 people. It was packed to the doors by an audience that was assuredly anxious to be enlightened. The New Orleans Picayune, a radical Democratic newspaper, gave the following account of the affair:

“McKinley appears a little under middle height, and this defect of under size is increased by the exceeding squareness and solidity both of form and face. His forehead, smooth and white, overhangs eyes deepset under bushy eyebrows of jet black. He has a trick, when asking a question, of lifting those eyebrows so that the latent fire in his eyes flashes forth suddenly and sharp. His mouth is mobile, the face clean shaven, the hair thin on the top and straggling to the coat collar in innumerable fine points.

“McKinley looks very like the pictures which have of late been liberally distributed throughout the city.

“In speaking, McKinley has few but effective gestures, the chief of which is a sort of reiterated hammering into space, as though driving a nail into the atmosphere. Though the Auditorium arena is wonderfully large, McKinley's voice filled it easily. And it is a voice in itself singularly rich in the variety of inflection and emphasis, deriving an added zest from the western drawl and mannerism still clinging to it.

“Considered simply a forensic display, McKinley's speech was exceedingly interesting. The exquisite art with which he evaded all the topics which, such as the Force bill, might have touched his audience too nearly, was admirable. His array of argument was marshaled with the skill of a practical debater, presenting with marvelous ability an epitome of the republican philosophy of politics.

“It was but natural that, in addressing an audience so thoroughly Southern, Mr. McKinley should lay special emphasis on the part which the South had played in the history of tariff legislation. As he delineated the origin of the republican tariff through the effort of Southern statesmen, the applause was fairly indescribable. From the gallery a voice cried out: 'Give it to them, McKinley; give it to them.' A burst of laughter attended this ejaculation, but the orator never smiled. He mopped the perspiration from his forehead, and while the din continued refreshed his memory from his notes. The applause again became uproarious when, a few moments later, he declared that the burden of the present administration, 'with its free trade laws,' was the greatest burden the people had borne for thirty years.

"Nor did the audience fail to respond when, by a ready object lesson, the speaker illustrated the operation of the tariff in relation to the manufacture of glass tumblers. 'Every tumbler imported,' he said, “represents the displacement of a tumbler of domestic manufacture. If you cut the tariff on glass and expect to receive an increased revenue, the importation must be redoubled. Is that what you want?'

“And the vast assembly fairly went wild for five minutes.

Again, when the governor declared that the displacement of an American laborer meant the cessation of his wages, a voice cried out:

[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »