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The Great Republic by the Master Historians
Public Events and Presidential Elections
by Bancroft, Hubert H.

[Political affairs assumed various startling phases during the decade here glanced at. New questions of vital importance to the welfare of the nation, both domestic and international, were taken up by the government with marked vigor, and popular, discussion rose to fever heat on several occasions. Our epitome is taken from chapters written by Joseph M. Rogers, in the work, "The World's History and Its Makers."]

In 1882 factional politics in New York became bitter once more. The administration candidate for Governor, Secretary Folger, was nominated after a bitter struggle. The Democratic nominee was Grover Cleveland, of Buffalo, who had made a reputation as a courageous reform mayor. The Blaine faction of the Republicans was incensed at what they considered the domination of the Convention by President Arthur and Mr. Conkling, and many refused to vote. As a result, Cleveland was elected by the unprecedented majority of nearly 200,000, and he became the logical candidate of his party for President in 1880.

The campaign that ensued was the most delporable in our history. The personalities indulged in have never been exceeded. The private life of each of the leading candidates was assailed, and the general conduct of the campaign in this respect was so indecent that it shocked public sentiment, and has never since been indulged in. And now the result of the old Blaine-Conkling feud was fully shown. While every effort was made to heal the breach, it was not finally closed. The pivotal State was New York, and this was carried for Cleveland by slightly over 1,000 votes, though the Republicans claimed a fraudulent count in New York City of Butler votes for Cleveland, which would have elected Blaine. Butler, in his memoirs, also makes this claim. It took several days to complete the count, and a repetition of the contest of 1876-7 was feared, but Cleveland got the State and the Presidency. Blaine's managers made a number of tactical mistakes. A few days before the election Mr. Blaine was met by a party of clergymen with an address delivered by Dr. Burchard, who spoke of the Democracy as the party of "Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion." It is said Blaine did not understand the second term, but supposed it to be "Mormonism." At any rate he did not correct the statement, which angered many Roman Catholics, and is believed to have cost him the election. Mr. Cleveland had the support of many former Republicans, because they admired his conduct as Mayor and Governor, and for his professed devotion to civil service reform. These Republicans were called "Mugwumps," and the term was considered one of reproach. Since then independence in politics has become much more general, and the term has been almost abandoned.

The electoral vote stood: Cleveland, 219; Blaine, 182. The popular vote was: Cleveland, 4,911,017; Blaine, 4,848,-334; St. John, 151,809; Butler, 133,826; scattering, 11,362.

Grover Cleveland was the first Democrat to occupy the Presidency after the retirement of Buchanan, twenty-four years before. The House elected with him was Democratic, but the Senate was Republican, and this prevented any partisan legislation during his term of office. The Senate, however, confirmed nearly all of his appointments. The struggle for office at the opening of his term was the greatest in history. Democrats expected to get all the offices, but found the President very conservative. During the first two years his removals from office were comparatively few, and he extended the scope of the civil service law. In general, he allowed the Republicans in prominent offices to serve out their four-year terms, but the diplomatic and consular offices were generally filled with Democrats. Later in his term he was less faithful to his promises, and greatly disappointed the Independents, who looked upon him as the chief apostle of this reform. For his Cabinet, Mr. Cleveland chose: Thomas F. Bayard, of Delaware, Secretary of State; Daniel Manning, of New York, Secretary of the Treasury; Wm. C. Endicott, of Massachusetts, Secretary of War; William C. Whitney, of New York, Secretary of the Navy; L. Q. C. Lamar, of Mississippi, Secretary of the Interior; Augustus S. Garland, of Arkansas, Attorney-General, and W. F. Vilas, of Wisconsin, Postmaster-General.

General Grant died on July 25, 1885, of cancer of the throat, after a lingering illness. After his return from his tour he settled in New York City, and unwisely invested all his savings, as a silent partner, in the brokerage firm of Grant & Ward, the former being his son. The fraudulent failure of the firm through Ward's roguery swept away every dollar Grant possessed and left him in debt $150,000 to William H. Vanderbilt for money borrowed at the request of Ward. To pay this last debt he turned over all his swords, medals, and gifts to Mr. Vanderbilt, who deposited them in the National Museum in Washington. General Grant was seriously ill and his condition appealed to the country. Congress made him once more a General, and retired him with full pay. During his illness he wrote his memoirs, which had an enormous sale.

In 1887 Congress passed the Inter-State Commerce law, designed to prevent discriminations between shippers engaged in inter-state commerce. The Commission has acted as a court, and has made many notable decisions, but it lacks certain powers necessary to carry out the real needs of the country. It has prohibited pooling, and in many cases forbidden unjust rates. In ten years freight rates were greatly reduced.

Mr. Cleveland's administration was generally successful. There was no partisan legislation possible. His marriage to Miss Frances Folsom, in 1886, greatly increased his popularity. He aroused more antipathy by his vetoes of special pension bills than by any other acts of his term. Instead of allowing these to go as a matter of course, as his predecessors had done, he investigated each case and, when convinced of their impropriety, he wrote veto messages which by their wording greatly offended many old soldiers and others. In 1887 he determined to make the tariff an issue and, in his annual message, made a terrific assault upon the principle of protection to American industries. This was done against the advice of many of his friends. The House passed a low tariff measure, known as the Mills Bill, but it was not acted on by the Senate. He was unanimously renominated at the Democratic Convention, which met at St. Louis June 5, 1888, with Allen G. Thurman, of Ohio, for Vice-President, Mr. Hendricks having died. The platform indorsed Mr. Cleveland's views on the tariff. Benjamin Harrison, of Indiana, was the Republican candidate, and was elected, with Levi P. Morton as Vice-President. The electoral vote stood: Harrison, 233; Cleveland, 168. The popular vote was: Harrison, 5,444,053; Cleveland, 5,538,536.

The tariff act known as "the McKinley Bill" was prepared and put through the House. It provided for an average of higher duties than had ever been laid, but also greatly increased the free list. In the Senate the bill met opposition, where a bill to put Congressional and Presidential elections under Federal control had aroused the Southern Democrats, who professed to see in it a return of negro domination. By skilful manoeuvring Senator Quay made an arrangement by which the election law was dropped and the tariff bill passed.

Foreign matters had a serious aspect during this administration. In New Orleans an Italian society, known as the "Mafia," had long secured immunity from punishment for crime by means of political influence. A number of particularly foul murders had been committed and no one convicted. On March 14, 1891, a mob gathered, broke open the jail, and shot down seven Italian prisoners who were awaiting trial, and hanged two others. Italy at once demanded an apology and reparation. Mr. Blaine replied that it was a matter for Louisiana and not the United States to settle. The relations between the two countries became strained. The Italian Minister went home, and ours left Rome. Eventually the matter was healed over, $25,000 recompense given the families of the murdered men, and friendly relations were restored.

A more serious incident was that with Chile. In 1891, during one of the periodical revolutions, the existing government was overthrown. Our Minister granted asylum to the deposed President, and he escaped the fate common in South American revolutions. This greatly angered the successful revolutionists, who soon took an opportunity to wreak their vengeance. The revolutionary steamer Itata was seized by the United States, but sailed away suddenly. She was followed, and surrendered at Iquique. This made matters worse. The United States cruiser Baltimore lay in Valparaiso harbor and some of her crew (October 16th) went ashore as usual. A mob collected and drove the blue jackets back to the boats, killing two and wounding several. This was an insult not to be brooked. President Harrison demanded an immediate apology and indemnity. Chile at first was not disposed to agree to this, whereupon rapid preparations were made for war. At this Chile backed down and made the reparation demanded, though not with very good grace. The sum paid was $75,000. The body of the killed boatswain's mate, Charles W. Riggin, was disinterred, taken to his home in Philadelphia, and lay in state in Independence Hall, and was buried with military and popular honors.

In 1889 Dom Pedro was driven from his throne as Emperor of Brazil and a republic was established.

A dispute with Great Britain was submitted to arbitration. Claiming the sole right to catch seals in Bering Sea, the United States government had seized some Canadian vessels engaged in shooting seals on the high seas. Our contention was that we owned the seals. The matter was decided against us, and we paid the damages.

Various political and personal reasons explain the return of Mr. Cleveland to power in 1892. The electoral vote was: Cleveland, 277; Harrison, 145. The popular vote was: Cleveland, 5,556,562; Harrison, 5,162,874.

A modification of the McKinley tariff act was enacted, the President refusing to sign the measure as altered by the Senate.

There was no partisan legislation during the rest of Cleveland's administration. In both of his terms Mr. Cleveland largely extended the scope of the civil service law, for which he was criticised by Republicans, who claimed that he first allowed departments to be filled with Democrats. Much dissatisfaction also was caused by the fact that the bonded indebtedness was increased $262,000,000. Part of this was to pay expenses, but most of it to maintain gold payments during the silver excitement. One contract made by the administration with a Wall street syndicate for bonds at a low price which the latter sold at a high price, caused great dissatisfaction. It was necessary, however, to get gold, as the "endless chain" worked rapidly.

The important foreign episode of the administration was a controversy with Great Britain over the Venezuela boundary. For many years there had been a dispute between Great Britain and Venezuela as to the boundary line between the latter and British Guiana. The matter came to a crisis when gold was found in the disputed country. Great Britain finally laid down a line as its minimum boundary and brought matters to a crisis by offering to arbitrate only over a small amount of territory in dispute. In this situation, invoking the Monroe Doctrine, Mr. Cleveland sent an ultimatum, with an implied threat of war, that the whole subject must be arbitrated. The ultimatum admitted of no compromise, and was so brusque that war seemed inevitable if Great Britain refused, as seemed likely, to accede to our demands. She did accede, and the matter was submitted to arbitration. The message to Congress, sent December 17, 1895, caused a small panic in financial circles, as it was believed that war was inevitable.

Populism and free silver had much to do with the campaign of 1896. Mr. McKinley was the Republican candidate. The Democratic Convention nominated William J. Bryan, of Nebraska, a brilliant orator and former Congressman, who had hardly been mentioned for the place, but who carried the Convention by storm in an eloquent speech for free silver. Arthur Sewall, of Maine, a prominent ship- builder and capitalist, got second honors. McKinley won in November, with Garret A. Hobart, of New Jersey, as Vice-President. The electoral vote was: McKinley, 271; Bryan, 176. The popular vote was: McKinley, 7,107,822; Bryan, 6,288,866.

Esteeming the tariff question of prime necessity, an extra session of Congress was called. Mr. Dingley prepared a new high protective measure, which passed both houses after many amendments, and became a law in 1897. Manufactories once more became busy, and a sudden rise in the price of wheat, due to an unusual foreign demand, aided powerfully in restoring prosperity. In the year 1898 the foreign trade balance was more than $600,000,000 in our favor, the domestic trade was the greatest ever known, while railroads and other enterprises largely increased their earnings.

Several conflicts with Indians had occurred subsequent to the Civil War. A massacre of settlers in Minnesota was followed by severe punishment and the tribes migrated to Dakota. In 1866 a two years' war broke out because of attacks on gold-seekers who passed through the Sioux reservation. In 1876 the movement against the Sioux resulted in the massacre of General Custer and his force of two hundred and fifty cavalry. Other encounters have periodically occurred, but the educational efforts with young Indians at the Carlisle school are having excellent results and promise still better.

The unexampled prosperity of the country has been demonstrated to the world from time to time, the first notable exhibition being that of 1876.

In the last year of Grant's term was held the exhibition at Philadelphia, to celebrate the Centennial of American liberty. Philadelphia was selected because the Declaration of Independence was signed there. It was by far the greatest world's fair that had been held up to that time. The city set aside a large portion of Fairmount Park for the purpose, and here were erected six large buildings and hundreds of smaller ones. The expense was borne largely by local enterprise, but the Government loaned $1,500,000, which was repaid. The total expense was $8,500,000, part of which was defrayed by the city, and part by the State. The rest was raised by subscription to stock in the enterprise, a portion of which was repaid. The total number of visitors was just under 10,000,000, and the largest on any one day was 274,919. The exposition was open from May 10 to November 10, except Sundays, a total of 159 days. It was opened with appropriate ceremonies by President Grant and Emperor Dom Pedro, of Brazil.

The exhibits came from all parts of the world, and for the first time in our history our people had an opportunity to compare their own products with those of other nations. The visitors likewise came from all over the world, and the result was most gratifying. While it was discovered that in the useful arts, particularly in machinery, our own country was in the lead, it was found that in the decorative arts we were far in the rear. It is impossible to estimate the effect of this exhibition upon the refinement and culture of the great masses of the people. Heretofore most of our energies had been directed towards getting the necessaries and comforts of life and developing our great resources; there was a natural pride over our accomplishments in many walks of life that led us to underestimate the rest of the world; but when the people beheld what the older nations accomplished, their respect grew, and many valuable lessons were learned. The decoration of houses has proceeded rapidly since that time, and the uses of color have been extended. Our artists and artisans got new ideas, and originality was stimulated so that our fabrics and artistic designs of all kinds are in most cases equal to any in the world and very often far superior. It is in teaching such lessons as these, and in educating those who have few advantages of travel, that such exhibitions are of the highest value. Thirty- eight foreign governments took part in the exhibition.

The great World's Fair was held at Chicago in 1893, celebrating the four hundredth anniversary of the landing of Columbus. It was a magnificent advance on the famous Centennial of 1876. Costing over $20,000,000, its ideal edifices satisfied all standards of taste and beauty. Enormous buildings were erected, but instead of being merely useful, the most elaborate pains were taken with their architecture. The exterior was a white composition known as staff, being principally plaster of paris, which looked like marble. The decorations, mural and of statuary, were elaborate and artistic. The grounds were laid out with lagoons, fountains, and all that landscape gardening could produce. The whole was a veritable fairyland. At night the buildings and lagoons were lighted up by electricity and the artistic effect was magnificent. The exhibits were complete and comprehensive, showing all that the world could offer in the arts and sciences. Foreigners were amazed at the display, and Americans no less. In the seventeen years which had passed since the Centennial, progress had been wonderful. Whereas in 1876 much of our showing contrasted poorly with foreign exhibits, now the comparisons were almost all in our favor. The exhibition was open six months, during which time there were 27,500,000 visitors, and total receipts of over $33,000,000. The Government gave directly $1,500,000, besides its own exhibit, and further aid by allowing the coinage of special designs of subsidiary coin, which commanded a premium. One interesting feature of the Fair was the Parliament of Religions, at which were gathered representatives of nearly every known religious creed in the whole world.

The Charleston earthquake of August 31, 1888, was the most destructive known on this continent. The damage, estimated at $10,000,000, was equalled by the terror and sufferings of the people. A year later the Johnstown flood added its horrors to the unusual list of vast disasters. The Conemaugh dam suddenly gave way, the city and several villages were demolished in an hour, several thousands were drowned or crushed to death, and the money loss was reckoned at many millions. The hurricane that struck Galveston, Texas, Sept. 8, 1900, is said to have cost seven thousand lives, and the property loss is inestimable in its magnitude.

Joseph M. Rogers


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