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American Government and Politics.
the removal of duties on trust-controlled products and the restoration of the tariff to a revenue basis.
On the subject of railway regulation, the Republicans advocated such an amendment of the law as would give the railroads the right to make and publish traffic agreements subject to the approval of the Interstate Commerce Commission, provided the principle of competition was maintained, and they called for national legislation to prevent stock-watering. The Democratic platform was more explicit, demanding that a physical valuation of railway property be made, that railways should be prevented from entering into competition with their shippers, and that the Interstate Commerce Commission should be empowered to take the initiative in rate regulation, to inspect proposed schedules, and to readjust unreasonable rates.
The anti-trust plank of the Republican party proposed to give the federal government more extensive supervision and control over interstate corporations having the power and opportunity to establish monopolies; the Democratic platform demanded the destruction of all private monopoly, and recommended, as specific measures, laws preventing duplication of directors among competing corporations, establishing a federal license system and compelling licensed companies to sell their commodities at the same price throughout the country, subject to variations owing to cost of transportation.
On the vexed question of injunctions, the Democrats reiterated their pledges of 1896 and 1904, providing for jury trial in cases of indirect contempt; and stated that "injunctions should not be issued in any cases in which injunctions would not issue if no labor dispute were involved." The Republicans, while insisting on preserving the integrity of the judiciary, declared that "the rules of procedure in the federal courts with respect to the issue of the writ of injunction should be more accurately defined by statute, and that no injunction or temporary restraining order should be issued without notice, except where irreparable injury would result from delay, in which case a speedy hearing thereafter should be granted."
The Democrats condemned imperialism as a blunder, and favored an immediate declaration of the nation's purpose to give the Philippines independence as soon as stable government could be established, subject to arrangements similar to those with
Cuba. According to the Republicans, the policies of McKinley and Roosevelt were leading the inhabitants of the islands, step by step, to an ever-increasing measure of home rule.
As to labor questions, the Republicans pointed to their record; and the Democrats promised to create a department of labor and to free unions from the restrictions on combinations in restraint of trade.
The Democratic platform in addition called for the popular election of Senators, an income tax, regulation of telegraphs and telephone rates for interstate business, publicity of campaign funds, and legislation creating a national bank guarantee fund, securing depositors in national banks.
In his acceptance speech, Mr. Taft approved the physical valuation of railways, seemed to favor the exemption of trade unions from the anti-trust law, endorsed the popular election of Senators, and stated that in his opinion an income tax could be passed which would not conflict with the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court.1
1 A new party bearing the name of the Independence party, formed under the auspices of Mr. Hearst in New York, favored anti-injunction legislation, the exemption of labor unions from the operation of anti-trust laws, government ownership of public utilities, and other radical innovations.
THE process by which political parties have built up their organizations from the primary to the national committee and extended their sway throughout the United States and its dependencies forms one of the most interesting studies in all the history of political institutions. Originating in a variety of voluntary practices, party machinery became more definite and more complete from generation to generation, until at length it became a veritable government without and within the legal government
with its own army of officials, its congresses or conventions, its rules and customs, and its methods for maintaining discipline in the ranks. Its enormous power was early recognized; but for a long time it was regarded as a purely private association in spite of its eminently public character; and accordingly it escaped all governmental control. It was not until the abuses of the parties became so notorious as to threaten the integrity of the commonwealth, that the policy of regulating them by statute was adopted. This policy, once accepted, has been steadily advanced, however, until in many states the political party has been frankly recognized by law and openly made a piece of the regular mechanism of government.'
Party machinery is not a fortuitous development, but is the direct result of the requirements of practical politics. The necessity of nominating candidates for offices leads inevitably to the development of caucuses and conventions. In the conduct of campaigns, leadership and discipline are indispensable, and hence we have concentration of power in the hands of party directors, and the organization of an army of party workers. When a party is in power, it fills offices, makes and enforces laws, grants franchises, and in a multitude of ways regulates private interests; and out of these functions come emoluments, cam1 See Readings, p. 131.
paign funds, and enormous power over the lives of men. It is small wonder, therefore, where there are so many offices to be filled and so many advantages to be derived that our political parties have reached a high degree of organization and control.
Early Nominating Methods
The beginnings of this great system may be traced back into the colonial period, for it appears that even the Boston town meeting, so celebrated for its democratic character, had fallen into the hands of the caucus long before the Declaration of Independence. After the organization of the independent governments, there was naturally an increase in the number of elective offices," and, while in many instances candidates were brought before the public through personal negotiations or by the advocacy of a few friends, it was not long before more or less regular assemblies for the purpose of making nominations appeared everywhere throughout the states. For local and county nominations a general mass meeting composed of interested parties seems to have been the early method employed, but the controversies which arose in these assemblies led to a demand for regularity in composition, so that nominating conventions of official delegates soon began to appear alongside the mass meetings. For example, candidates for Congress and the state legislature in the county of Philadelphia were nominated in 1794 “at a large and respectable meeting of the freemen," but five years later, in 1799, we hear of a county convention in that city made up of three delegates from each ward. By the close of the eighteenth century, county conventions, composed of delegates representing lower units of government, seem to have been fairly well developed in Pennsylvania. About the same time congressional and county conventions seem to have been regularly established in Massachusetts and in all other states where party contests had reached any degree of sharpness.
The state convention as a regular institution was a development of a later period. It is true that we hear of a state con
1 For John Adams' interesting account of the Boston caucus, see Readings, p. 12, note 1.
2 See above, p. 89.
3 Dallinger, Nominations for Elective Offices in the United States, pp. 21–23.
vention in Pennsylvania as early as 1788, but it seems to have disappeared before a device known as the legislative caucus. Owing to the difficulties of communication and the small number of elective state offices, the expedient of nominating state tickets by the convention method did not appear attractive to the politicians. For a time, therefore, nominations were made in a variety of fashions. For example, Judge Yates was nominated by the Federalists as a candidate for governor of New York, in 1789, by "a party meeting" held in New York City, at which Alexander Hamilton and several other persons were appointed a committee of correspondence to promote the election of their nominee. In 1792, George Clinton was nominated governor of that state at a Republican meeting held in New York City, said to have been composed of "gentlemen from various parts of the state."
The Legislative Caucus
It was not long, however, before the power of making state nominations was assumed by the members of each party in the state legislature, who organized themselves into an assembly known as the legislative caucus. It was the practice for this caucus to meet officially, usually in the capitol building, select the candidates, and issue a signed proclamation or appeal for support. In conducting the campaign, the legislative caucus organized correspondence committees throughout the state. Although this newer device was more representative than the older irregular mass meetings which it supplanted, it was, of course, not so completely representative as the later state convention. For instance, if a county had no Federalist member in the state legislature, it would have no weight in the selection of the state candidates, although it might contain a number of Federalist voters. The injustice of this arrangement was recognized in New York as early as 1817, when the Democratic legislative caucus was reënforced by representatives of the Democratic voters from those counties which had Federalist members in the state assembly.2
In 1800 the legislative caucus was transferred to Congress as a mode of making nominations for President and Vice-President.
1 For a description of a legislative caucus, see Readings, p. 112.