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vast timber and mineral resources of the nation have passed largely into private hands. Cities have grown by leaps and bounds, and millions of poor are crowded in our industrial centres. The village workshop, the old-fashioned woollen mill by the brookside, the handloom, the short railway line, the small individualist factory, have been conquered by mighty captains of industry, whose bold enterprises and remarkable genius for worldwide organizations are the wonder of our age. With this industrial revolution has come a working-class. It may be demonstrable that there are many gradations of fortune in modern life and that members of the working-class are constantly passing to other ranks, but this should not be allowed to obscure the fact that a permanent working-class, dependent almost entirely upon the sale of labor power, is the inevitable concomitant of the industrial revolution. In connection with our commercial enterprises the insular dependencies have been acquired, and the federal government drawn into the mesh of world politics. Surely the United States of our time is further away from Lincoln's day than his America was from the America of Washington.
The Minor Parties
The new conditions of American life have created new groups of interests, and have, therefore, forced steadily to the front new types of political doctrines. These groups of doctrines, so far as they propose radical changes, usually find their first exponents in minor parties; and as the respective issues come within the range of practical politics, they are presented to the country in the national campaigns of the two great parties. Accordingly it seems worth while to review briefly the minor parties since the Civil War, for, in spite of their apparent insignificance, they are by no means negligible factors in the American governing process. These parties fall readily into three groups: the temperance, the labor, and the agrarian parties.
1. About the middle of the nineteenth century there arose a temperance movement which carried several states for absolute prohibition. A reaction, however, speedily set in, and the temperance question was overshadowed by the great slavery issue. It was not until after the Civil War that the Prohibitionists entered national politics. They held their first national conven
tion at Columbus, Ohio, on February 22, 1872, and nominated Mr. Black of Pennsylvania as their presidential candidate. In their platform they declared that the prohibition of the liquor traffic was the leading issue, but they also proposed certain currency reforms and the regulation of transportation and monopolies.1 Indeed, from the very inception of the party, the Prohibitionists have been unable to ignore the other questions of the day; and from time to time they have declared in favor of various economic reforms as well as the prohibition of the liquor traffic. Nevertheless, they have been unable to muster any considerable strength, for they polled only about 254,000 votes in 1908.
2. Almost immediately after the Civil War labor entered American politics as a separate and independent element. In 1872 a party known as the "Labor Reformers held a national convention in Columbus, Ohio, which was attended by representatives from seventeen different states. The party at that convention declared in favor of restricting the sale of public lands to> bona fide homeseekers, Chinese exclusion, an eight-hour day in government employments, civil service reform, one term for each President, regulation of railway and telegraph rates, and the subjection of the military to civil authority. For a time, the labor element seems to have been absorbed into the agrarian groups described below; but in 1888 a "Union Labor" party met in national convention at Cincinnati, and drafted a platform embodying the principal doctrines of the Labor Reformers and demanding, in addition, popular election of United States Senators.3
The labor forces appeared in an avowed socialist organization in the campaign of 1892, when the "Socialist Labor" party held its first convention in New York. This party has made its appeal almost exclusively to the working-class. It declared in its platform of 1908 that "man cannot exercise his right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without the ownership of the land and the tools with which to work. Deprived of these, his life, liberty, and fate fall into the hands of the class that owns these essentials for work and production." The radical appeal of
1 Their candidate in that year polled 5608 votes.
2 The candidate of the Labor Reformers in that year polled about 29,000 out of over 6,000,000 votes.
3 The candidate of the Union Labor Party in 1888 polled 146,935 votes.
the Socialist Laborites to the working-class to unite against the property-owning class has met, however, with no considerable response; its candidate in 1896 polled only 36,373 votes, and in 1908 the number fell to about 15,000.
The extreme views of the Socialist Labor party led to the organization of another radical group taking the name of "Socialist" party, which held its first convention in 1900; and in the last presidential campaign polled 448,453 votes - more than the combined vote of the other minor parties. This party also makes its appeal especially to the working-class, but it is not so revolutionary in tone as the older socialist group, and it does not demand the complete abolition of all private property in the means of production. In its platform of 1908 it declared in favor of graduated inheritance and income taxes; universal suffrage; the initiative and referendum; proportional representation and the right of recall; new federal departments of health, education, and labor; popular election of judges; employment of unemployed working men on large government undertakings; collective ownership of all industries in which competition has ceased' to exist; extension of the public domain to include mineral' resources, forests, and water power; compulsory government insurance for the working-class; and an extended labor code designed to raise the standard of life for the working people in every branch of industry.
3. There has been in American politics since the period of the Revolution a distinctly agrarian element, but it did not appear as a separate political party until after the Civil War. With the rapid decline in the prices of agricultural products which accompanied the general collapse of the inflated war prices, the farmers began to grow dissatisfied with their lot, and at length they came to believe that the railways, the corporations, and the financial policy of the federal government were principally responsible for the evils under which they labored. Working through the legislatures, especially in Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, and other western states, they attempted to secure relief by passing a number of laws regulating railway rates and the conditions of warehousing and transporting grain.
1 It declared in its platform of 1908 "that occupancy and use of land be the sole title to possession."
The discontented farmers entered politics in 1876 as the Independent National or "Greenback" party, and waged warfare especially on the Republicans, charging them with being responsible for the decline in prices because they had placed the monetary system on a gold basis and contracted the currency. In spite of the small vote polled by their candidate, Peter Cooper, of New York, the Greenbackers put forward a candidate in the next campaign, and even made a third attempt in 1884. In view of later developments, their platform of 1880 is interesting, for it included, among other things, free coinage of silver, advanced labor legislation, the establishment of a national bureau of labor, Chinese exclusion, a graduated income tax, and the regulation of interstate commerce.
Although it gained in votes at first, from 81,737 in 1876 to 308,578 in 1880, the Greenback party went to pieces completely after the campaign of 1884. Within a short time, however, the discontented agrarians formed a new association, known as the Farmers' Alliance, which, although it did not officially enter politics, was the precursor of the Populist party. This party drew together, in 1892, both agrarian and labor elements in a national convention, which met at Omaha and put forth a radical program, demanding government ownership of railways, telegraph and telephones, a graduated income tax, postal savings banks, and the free coinage of silver and gold at the legal ratio of 16 to 1.
On this radical platform the Populists went into the campaign of 1892, with James B. Weaver as presidential candidate, and polled more than a million votes, principally in the western and southern states, carrying Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada, and securing one electoral vote in North Dakota and another in Oregon. This unprecedented achievement by a minority party was partially due to fusion with the Democrats in some of the states, but beyond question the Populists had attained a numerical strength which made them a force to be reckoned with in American politics.2
1 So-called on account of its advocacy of paper money.
2 The Populist party, after its capture of the Democratic party in 1896, continued to maintain a separate organization, but it has steadily declined, its candidate in 1908 polling only about 30,000 votes.
Political Issues in the United States
The New Era in American Politics
This became apparent in the great free silver contest of 1896, when the Democratic party was captured by the Populist wing, and waged a campaign on a platform based largely upon Populist A principles. In that year the sectional issues of the Civil War were cast aside, and the new issues arising out of the industrial revolution, the growth of trusts, and the development of organized labor were forced to the front. The particular plan of reform -the free coinage of silver-with which Mr. Bryan waged his memorable campaign was permanently rejected, but the spirit which he aroused affected all other parties, for he announced in no uncertain tones that an economic revolution had taken place since the Civil War, and he voiced the slowly awakening consciousness of the broad mass of the people to the fact that the great corporate and financial interests would have to be checked Cand controlled in some way.'
Mr. Bryan was not destined to carry into effect the policies which he advocated with such eloquence and zeal, and it would be misreading the history of our time to attribute the political revolution of the last decade to his personal influence. The times have changed and new issues have come with them. This is evident in the platforms put forth by the two great parties in 1908, and in the policies advocated by presidential candidates during the campaign.2
The Democratic and Republican platforms, in that year, were in accord on a number of points, such as the admission of Arizona and New Mexico as separate states, liberal pensions, the encouragement of the national marine (for which purpose, however, the Democrats would not impose "new or additional burdens on the people" or give "government bounties"), the creation of national public-health agencies, the conservation of natural resources and the establishment of postal savings banks (which the Democrats favored if a guarantee of bank-deposits could not be secured). Both parties agreed that the tariff should receive an early revision, but the Democrats were more specific, favoring
1 For Mr. Bryan's appeal in his famous "crown of thorns" speech, see Readings, p. 105.
2 For the Republican platform of 1908, see Readings, p. 107.