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26 June, 2013
Bryan or McKinley? The Present Duty of American Citizens.
IX. The Paramount Issue.
by North American Review, The


The welfare of the country is paramount in every political contest. No political party can always be right; but one party or the other must be trusted with the reins of government. It is sometimes difficult to determine which party would be likely to govern the country best. In the present contest the Republican party stands for law, order, honor, progress, and good government, while the Democratic party makes loyalty to rebels in arms against the United States the paramount issue. Under these circumstances, it is plain to every patriotic man that duty to our country demands that the Republican party should be continued in power.

Four years ago the silver question was the paramount issue. I believed then, and I believe now, that the demonetization of silver, whether ignorantly or corruptly accomplished, was the greatest calamity of the nineteenth century. It reduced the supply of money and enhanced its value fully one hundred per cent., and the general range of prices fell in twenty years more than fifty per cent. Property invested in bonds and other money futures was doubled, while all other property lost one-half of its exchangeable value. I believed that Mr. Bryan was earnestly in favor of silver, and that he was an honest and sincere man, and I believed that if the Democratic party could gain power on that issue, it would do everything possible to restore the coinage of silver. So strong was my conviction that the good of the country required the mintage of silver equally with gold, that I left the Republican party and labored zealously to elect Mr. Bryan.

But times have changed, and Mr. Bryan has changed. At all events, he has developed characteristics incompatible with patriotism or honor. The contention of the silver men that more money would restore prosperity has been verified. A thousand million dollars of new gold from the mines since 1896, a hundred million dollars added to the bank currency, and the war expenditures have raised prices, furnished employment for all, and created the good times which the remonetization of silver would have produced. The money question will not be considered by the people when money is plentiful, and the advocates of silver must wait until the bounteous flow of gold from the mines is diminished and falling prices come again. The financial issue will then be paramount. Any attempt to make the silver question an issue when money is abundant will not advance the cause, but, on the contrary, will create a prejudice in the minds of the people against the white metal.

Under these circumstances, it was natural for Mr. Bryan to seek some other issue. His success in creating what he terms the paramount issue, and forcing the Democratic party to adopt it, is an exhibition of genius and leadership without a parallel in American politics. Imperialism is a myth. It does not exist, and it can not exist in this country. Everybody in all parties is opposed to it. No President has ever attempted to maintain a larger army than was necessary to defend the honor of the country and maintain law and order.

No one knows better than Mr. Bryan that there is no real issue of imperialism, because he virtually admits that there would have been no imperialism to fight if he had not secured the ratification of the treaty with Spain, by which we acquired the Philippines. Nearly all orhis two hours speech of acceptance at Indianapolis was devoted to imperialism as growing out of the acquisition of these islands. He even congratulates himself on having secured the ratification of the treaty, and points to the result as justifying the means. He says:

"I believe that we are now in a better position to wage a success- ful contest against imperialism than we would have been had the treaty been rejected."

Very true. If the treaty had been rejected, Mr. Bryans two hours speech against the acquisition of the islands would have been inapplicable, and he might have been unable to discover any other mirage with which to deceive the Democratic convention. The conduct of Mr. Bryan in securing the ratification of the treaty to create the issue of imperialism is crafty, and would be harmless in a person not the candidate of a great party for President of the United States.

The most remarkable part of Mr. Bryans scheme is his assumption that expansion and imperialism are one and the same thing. The Democratic party is responsible for every foot of expansion previous to the purchase of Alaska by Johnsons administration, and every acre of territory acquired since the adoption of the Constitution has been acquired against the protest and generally against the sanguinary opposition of the inhabitants. The consent of the people has never in any case been given or asked. The few inhabitants of the land embraced in the Louisiana purchase, who knew what was taking place, protested, but the great mass of the people in that territory have continued their opposition in bloody wars for nearly a century, and still regard themselves as independent tribes or nations. The Florida purchase brought on the Seminole war, which lasted seven years. Both Mexicans and Indians occupying Texas, New Mexico, California, and Arizona were bitterly hostile to the change of sovereignty. The language of all cessions to the United States is precisely the same. The Philippines were acquired, so far as manner, form and substance are concerned, just as all other territory has been acquired by the United States.

Mr. Bryans contention that the acquisition of the Philippines is imperialism stamps Presidents Jefferson, Monroe, Jackson, Polk, and Pierce as imperialists, and makes the establishment of free institutions and the erection of great states in newly acquired territory the very essence of imperial dominion.

Every act of Mr. McKinleys administration in dealing with the Filipinos has been based upon and modelled after the precedents of the great Democratic Presidents, whom the American people love to honor. The audacity of Mr. Bryans charge of imperialism against President McKinley for following in the footsteps of Democratic Presidents in the acquisition and government of territories has taken the country by surprise.

If the contention of Mr. Bryan be right, then President Cleveland was the only occupant of the White House who was a real anti-imperialist. His refusal to accept Hawaii makes him the only Democratic model worthy of imitation, and distinguishes him as the only true patriot whose administration conformed to the Declaration of Independence. It is unfortunate that the greatest Jeffersonian Democrat who ever occupied the Executive chair should be unable to endorse Mr. Bryans candidacy for President, with anti-imperialism as the foundation of mutual admiration.

The motives of Mr. Bryan in taking sides with Aguinaldo and his rebellious followers are not as well understood by the Filipinos as they are by our own people. The inhabitants of Luzon do not know that Mr. Bryan invented imperialism, or that he has taken sides witim them against his own Government, solely for the purpose of gaining votes. They do not know that an honest, successful administration and great prosperity are persuasive arguments in favor of the re-election of Mr. McKinley, and that the encouragement which the rebels in the archipelago are receiving from Mr. Bryan is a part of the great drama of legerdemain by which he hopes to hypnotize the American people, and induce them to jump out of the frying pan into the fire.

Mr. Bryan seems utterly heedless of the consequences of the aid and comfort he is extending to rebels in arms. He pays no attention to the accumulation of evidence that the guerilla warfare in Luzon is prolonged in anticipation of immediate independace in case of his election. The shooting of American soldiers and the murder and robbery of natives friendly to the United States, in order to keep up a show of resistance until the Democratic candidate becomes President, count for nothing when weighed in the balance against Mr. Bryans ambition. I call upon all fair-minded citizens to read Mr. Bryans speech of acceptance, delivered at Indianapolis on the 8th of August, 1900, and compare his utterances with the statutes of the United States against aiding and encouraging rebellion. It seems to me that section 5,334 of the Revised Statutes is applicable to his case. it is as follows:

" Sec. 5334. Every person who Incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages In any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States, or the laws thereof, or gives aid and comfort thereto, shall be punished by imprisonment not more than ten years, or by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars; or by both of such punishments, and shall, moreover, be incapable of holding any office under the United States."

Mr. Bryan evidently fears that the paramount issue of imperialism which he has created will fade if kept too constantly in the focus of public opinion. His acrobatic qualities are brought into service nearly every day in mounting a new stalking-horse. If is recent rough-riding of Trusts puts to shame the cowboys on a thousand hills. He proposes to destroy Trusts by creating a federal trust to control all other trusts, He says:

" Let Congress provide that, whenever any corporation organized in any State wants to do business outside of the State, it must go to the federal government and obtain a license which will enable it to do such outside business."

He does not say to which department of the Government he would assign this duty, but the presumption is that he would organize a Department of Trusts, in which only trusted favorites would be appointed. He says in his letter of acceptance:

" I shall select an attorney general who will without fear or favor enforce existing laws."

He does not say which party passed those laws. The only effective law against Trusts was recommended by President Harrison and passed by a Republican Congress in 1890. This law has been upheld and enforced by the Supreme Court of the United States. Under it, the Supreme Court of the United States held that a traffic agreement between thirty-one different railroad companies was illegal, and the court enjoined its further execution. Judge Taft, in the Circuit Court of Appeals, held, in the case of the Addystone Pipe and Steel Company vs. the United States, that a combination between six corporations not to com- pete with each other was illegal.

What law against Trusts was passed during either the first or the second term of Mr. Clevelands administration? What efforts were made by Clevelands Attorneys-General, Garland, Gluey or Harmon, to prosecute trusts?

Mr. Bryan, in his Wheeling speech, says: " I want to destroy every private monopoly in the United States."

Mr. Bryans election would, therefore, sweep out of existence all patent rights, close the Patent Office, and destroy many other private rights which are of necessity exclusive and, consequently, monopolies. It would put an end to the marvellous development of the mechanical skill of the American people, which has made the United States conspicuous throughout the world. It would deprive genius of both the incentive to exertion and the means of subsistence, and turn back indefinitely the tide of progress. Mr. Bryan's undigested views, wild assertions, and disastrous remedies for Trusts are undoubtedly the result of want of time to consider thoroughly any one subject, on account of the multiplicity of issues he seeks to utilize in order to be elected President.

In view of the prosperity of the country and the general increase of wages since 1896, the coal miners will naturally inquire whether their grievances result from McKinleys administration or are the work of a New York syndicate of heartless speculators, who miss the bond deals and the plunder of wrecked fortunes which they enjoyed under the Cleveland administration. When they discover, as they must, that the policy of the Administration has created general prosperity, and that extortion and oppression are inspired by private greed, they will not gratify the malice or desire for plunder of their real oppressors; nor will they listen to the cry of stop thief from those who rob their dinner pails, although that cry is echoed by the melodious voice of the Democratic candidate for the Presidency.

Mr. Bryan is a great orator, but he can hardly maintain the charge that the Republican party is responsible for all the evils, real and imaginary, that flesh is heir to. The assumption that all monopolies are created by legislation of Congress, and that the President of the United States is responsible for all disagreements and conflicts between employers and employees will not commend itself to sensible men. Mr. Bryan will learn that the American people do not live on hate alone, and that his efforts to array neighbor against neighbor, class against class, and to embitter the masses against the owners of accumulated wealth will not increase, but will diminish, his following.

I believe that a great majority of the people of the United States are beginning to regard Mr. Bryan as an able, adroit, and plausible sophist, possessed of wonderful magnetism and will power, but an unsafe man to be trusted in the high office of President of the United States.

WILLIAM M. STEWART.

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