American History: McKinley and the Gold Standard Win in 1896
STEVE EMBER: Welcome to the MAKING OF A NATION -- American history in VOA Special English.
In the eighteen nineties, the American people were deeply divided over the nation's money system. Should the United States support its currency with gold or with gold and silver? This question became the main issue in the presidential election of eighteen ninety-six.
This week in our series, Kay Gallant and Harry Monroe tell the story of that election.
KAY GALLANT: Many Americans wanted a gold standard. They said the United States should support its money only with gold. A gold standard, they said, would keep the value of the dollar high. These people were called "gold bugs." Most were businessmen, bankers, and investors.
Many other Americans wanted the United States to support its money with both gold and silver. They thought the value of the dollar was too high. A high dollar, they said, drove down prices for agricultural products. A silver standard would lower the value of the dollar. These people were called "silverites."Most were farmers, laborers, and owners of small businesses.”
HARRY MONROE: The debate over gold and silver was especially important because of an economic depression that began in the United States in eighteen ninety-three. Thousands of banks and businesses closed. Millions of men lost their jobs. Foreign investors withdrew their money from America. Americans who had money were afraid to invest it.
Many people believed the depression would end if the government issued more paper money backed by silver.
President Grover Cleveland disagreed. And he opposed any legislation that might threaten the gold standard. He noted that every major nation supported its paper money with gold. The United States would be foolish, he said, not to do the same. It could not stand apart from the world's other money systems.
KAY GALLANT: President Cleveland belonged to the Democratic Party. By eighteen ninety-six, many Democrats had become silverites. They gained control of party organizations in several western and southern states. They called Cleveland a traitor to his party and to the American people. They did not want him to be the party's candidate in that year's election.
The Republican Party also was divided over the issue of gold and silver. Some members from silver-mining states in the west left the party. Others remained in the party, but gave support secretly to silverite Democrats.
Republicans had done well in the congressional elections of eighteen ninety-four. They won control of both the Senate and House of Representatives. Party leaders were sure a Republican could be elected president in eighteen ninety-six. The most likely candidate appeared to be Governor William McKinley of Ohio.
HARRY MONROE: McKinley was, in fact, nominated on the first ballot at the Republican convention in St. Louis, Missouri.
The Democratic Party held its nominating convention in Chicago, Illinois. The most likely candidate was Congressman Richard Bland of Missouri. A majority of convention delegates, however, were silverites. And they expected to nominate a silverite candidate.
Supporters of President Cleveland wanted to test the silverites' strength. They demanded a debate on the gold-silver issue.
Several men spoke in support of President Cleveland and the gold standard. Several spoke in support of silver. The last to speak was Congressman William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska. He had led an unsuccessful fight in Congress to keep America using silver.
KAY GALLANT: Bryan spoke emotionally during the convention debate. He said he represented America's farmers, laborers, and small businessmen who wanted a silver standard.
Bryan ended his speech with a line that became famous during the campaign. It called to mind the torture and death of Jesus Christ. Bryan said gold supporters could not force their money system on silver supporters. "You shall not," he said, "crucify mankind upon a cross of gold."
With those words, William Jennings Bryan won the nomination away from Congressman Bland. He would be the Democrats' presidential candidate. He was just thirty-six years old.
HARRY MONROE: A number of Democrats refused to accept Bryan as their candidate. They withdrew from the Chicago convention and held one of their own. They called themselves National Democrats. They nominated candidates for president and vice president. But they did not win many votes in the election.
America's third party at that time -- The People's Party -- had a difficult decision to make.
Populists, as they were called, agreed with silverite Democrats that the United States should have a silver standard. So, some believed the party should unite with the Democrats to support democratic candidate William Jennings Bryan. If they did not, Republican William McKinley was sure to win the election.
Other populists feared that such a union would mean the end of the People's Party.
The populists solved the problem at their nominating convention. Like the Democrats, they chose Bryan to be their candidate for president. But they chose a different candidate for vice president. In this way, William Jennings Bryan was able to run for president at the head of two separate political parties.
KAY GALLANT: There was a great difference in the way the two presidential candidates campaigned. William McKinley refused to travel. Instead of going to the voters, he let the voters come to him. And they did. Railroad companies supported McKinley. They ran special trains to his home in Ohio. The trip was free.
Each trip was the same. A band met the train and marched with the group to McKinley's home. McKinley came outside to hear a statement of support from the leader of the group. Then he made a short speech and shook hands. The group left and another one came.
On one day of the campaign, McKinley met thirty groups this way. That was more than eighty thousand people.
HARRY MONROE: While McKinley stayed at home, William Jennings Bryan travelled. He visited twenty-seven states and spoke to five million people. Bryan explained that he had to travel, because the Democratic Party did not have enough money to campaign in other ways. Bryan spent six hundred fifty-thousand dollars on his campaign. McKinley spent three-and-a-half-million dollars.
Bryan's main campaign idea was that the gold standard would ruin America's economy. McKinley's main campaign idea was that silver money would ruin the economy. For a time, Bryan's campaign seemed to be succeeding. More and more people promised to support him. Then, in the final weeks before election day, the situation began to change.
The depressed economy showed signs of improving. The price of wheat rose for the first time in several years. Perhaps, people said, it was wrong to blame gold for the depression. Perhaps, they said, the ideas of William Jennings Bryan were wrong.
KAY GALLANT: On election day, it was soon clear who had won. McKinley received two hundred seventy electoral votes. Bryan received one hundred seventy-six.
Bryan congratulated McKinley. Then he told his supporters to begin getting ready for the next presidential election. "If we are right about silver," Bryan said, "we will win four years from now."
HARRY MONROE: McKinley's election seemed to give new life to the American economy. Within a month, a business publication reported that buying and selling had increased greatly. It said demand for goods had led to the re-opening of factories closed during the depression.
At the same time, new supplies of gold were discovered in Alaska, Australia, and South Africa. The extra gold increased the supply of money in the same way silver would have increased it.
Taxes on imported goods rose to almost sixty percent. Under this protective tariff, American industry grew fast. The depression ended.
KAY GALLANT: The economic depression of the eighteen nineties forced Americans to worry first about developments at home. But there were a number of international developments then which involved the United States.
The Election of 1896
The election of 1896 is seen as the beginning of a new era in American politics, or a "realignment" election. Ever since the election of 1800, American presidential contests had, on some level, been a referendum on whether the country should be governed by agrarian interests (rural indebted farmers--the countryside--"main street") or industrial interests (business--the city--"wall street"). This was the last election in which a candidate tried to win the White House with mostly agrarian votes.
Although there were several important issues in the 1896 election, the nominating process was dominated by the fallout of the country's monetary policy, an issue that had been at the forefront of American politics for decades, but had come to a head
That the gold coins of the United States shall be a one-dollar piece which at the standard weight of twenty-five and eight-tenths grains shall be the unit of value.
The National Republican Convention, St. Louis, June 16-18
Of the remaining men, Bryan maneuvered to be the last to speak in the platform debate on July 9. He claimed to speak . in defense of a cause as holy as the cause of liberty. the cause of humanity. Bryan blamed the gold standard for impoverishing Americans, and identified agriculture as the foundation of American wealth. He called for reform of the monetary system, an end to the gold standard, and promised government relief efforts for farmers and others hurt by the economic depression. Bryan ended his rousing oration with religious imagery:
Having behind us the producing masses of this nation and the world, supported by the commercial interests, the laboring interests and the toilers everywhere, we will answer their demand for a gold standard by saying to them: You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.
On November 3, 1896, 14 million American voted. McKinley won with 276 electoral votes to Bryan's 176, [1896 electoral map] and by a popular vote margin of 51% to Bryan's 47%. Bryan did well in the South and the West, but lacked appeal with unmortgaged farmers and especially the eastern urban laborer, who saw no personal interest in higher inflation. Hanna's "McKinley and the Full Dinner Pail" slogan had been more convincing. McKinley won in part by successfully forging a new coalition with business, professionals, skilled factory workers and prosperous (unmortgaged) farmers. By repudiating the pro-business wing of their party, the Democrats had set the stage for 16 consecutive years of Republican control of the White House, interrupted only in 1912 when a split in the Republican Party aided the election of Woodrow Wilson.
[1897 inaugural address]. Once in office, McKinley followed through on his proposed economic policy,
William McKinley: Campaigns and Elections
The Panic of 1893, one of America's most devastating economic collapses, placed the Democrats on the defensive and restored Governor McKinley's stature in national politics. McKinley dominated the political arena at the opening of the 1896 Republican presidential nominating convention held in St. Louis. His commitment to protectionism as a solution to unemployment and his popularity in the Republican Party—as well as the behind-the-scenes political management of his chief political supporter, affluent businessman Marcus Hanna of Ohio—gave McKinley the nomination on the first ballot. He accumulated 661 votes compared to the 84 votes won by his nearest rival, House Speaker Thomas B. Reed of Maine.
The Republican platform endorsed protective tariffs and the gold standard while leaving open the door to an international agreement on bimetallism. It also supported the acquisition of Hawaii, construction of a canal across Central America, expansion of the Navy, restrictions on the acceptance of illiterate immigrants into the country, equal pay for equal work for women, and a national board of arbitration to settle labor disputes.
The Democrats, meeting in Chicago, rallied behind William Jennings Bryan, a former congressman from Nebraska. A superb orator, Bryan stirred Democrats with his stinging attack on the gold standard and his defense of bimetallism and free silver. He won the nomination on the fifth ballot. The Democrats pegged their hopes for victory on their opposition to (1) the protective tariff, (2) the immigration of foreign "pauper labor," and (3) the use of injunctions to end strikes. They also supported a federal income tax, a stronger Interstate Commerce Commission, statehood for the western states (Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona), and the anti-Spanish revolutionaries in Cuba, who were also supported by the Republicans.
Realizing that the Democrats had stolen their thunder on free silver, the insurgent Populist Party, which sought to organize and support farmers' interests, fused with the Democrats to nominate Bryan for President. Faced with the loss of the Solid South and the Far West, owing to the silver issue, the Republicans raised a staggering $4 million for the campaign. A majority of the contributions came from business, particularly protectionist manufacturers who supported high tariffs and bankers who wanted to maintain sound money policies. Most of these funds went into the printing and distribution of 200 million pamphlets. McKinley, following the tradition of previous candidates who campaigned for President from their homes, delivered 350 carefully crafted speeches from his front porch in Canton to 750,000 visiting delegates. Some 1,400 party speakers stumped the nation, painting Bryan as a radical, a demagogue, and a socialist. Republican speakers de-emphasized their party's stand on bimetallism and instead championed a protective tariff that promised full employment and industrial growth.
Bryan, in response, stumped the nation in a strenuous campaign, covering 18,000 miles in just three months. He spoke to wildly enthusiastic crowds, condemning McKinley as the puppet of big business and political managers. However, midway through his campaign, Bryan's pace faltered. His strategy for dual party support failed. Gold Democrats bolted the party, unhappy with Bryan's stand on bimetallism and free silver. Some urban-based progressives, who worried about Bryan's evangelistic style and moralistic fervor, also deserted the Democrats. Moreover, Bryan failed to build support outside his Populist and agrarian base, especially in the face of McKinley's effective campaigning on economic issues.
Bryan lost to McKinley by a margin of approximately 600,000 votes, the greatest electoral sweep in twenty-five years. McKinley received over a third more electoral college votes than Bryan. The Republican victory reflected a winning coalition of urban residents in the North, prosperous midwestern farmers, industrial workers, ethnic voters (with the exception of the Irish), and reform-minded professionals. It launched a long period of Republican power lasting until 1932, broken only by Woodrow Wilson's victory in 1912, which occurred principally because of a split in the Republican Party.
The Campaign and Election of 1900
After four years in office, McKinley's popularity had risen because of his image as the victorious commander-in-chief of the Spanish-American War (see Foreign Affairs section) and because of the nation's general return to economic prosperity. Hence, he was easily renominated in 1900 as the Republican candidate. The most momentous event at the Philadelphia convention centered on the vice presidential nomination of Governor Theodore Roosevelt of New York. Vice President Garret A. Hobart of New Jersey had died in office, and Roosevelt's candidacy added a popular war hero and reform governor to the ticket. Setting up the stage for a rematch of the 1896 election, the Democrats again nominated Bryan at their convention in Kansas City. Grover Cleveland's former vice president, Adlai E. Stevenson, took the second spot on the Democratic slate.
The rematch played to old and new issues. Bryan refused to back off his call for free silver even though the recent discoveries of gold in Alaska and South Africa had inflated the world's money supply and increased world prices. As a result, the U.S. farming industry saw its profits grow as crops such as corn commanded more money on the market. Farmer dissatisfaction was less than it was in 1896, and gold was the reason behind it. Hence, Bryan's silver plank was a nonissue to the farming community, which was one of his main constituent groups. Responding to these voter sentiments, Democratic Party managers included the silver plank in their platform but placed greater emphasis on expansionism and protectionism as the key issues in the election. The Democrats also opposed McKinley's war against Philippine insurgents and the emergence of an American empire, viewing the latter as contrary to the basic character of the nation. The Republicans countered with a spirited defense of America's interests in foreign markets. They advocated expanding ties with China, a protectorate status for the Philippines, and an antitrust policy that condemned monopolies while approving the "honest cooperation of capital to meet new business conditions" in foreign markets.
Duplicating the campaign tactics of 1896, the Republicans spent several million dollars on 125 million campaign documents, including 21 million postcards and 2 million written inserts that were distributed to over 5,000 newspapers weekly. They also employed 600 speakers and poll watchers. As in 1896, McKinley stayed at home dispensing carefully written speeches. His running mate, Theodore Roosevelt, campaigned across the nation, condemning Bryan as a dangerous threat to America's prosperity and status.
Although not a landslide shift comparable to election swings in the twentieth century, McKinley's victory ended the pattern of close popular margins that had characterized elections since the Civil War. McKinley received 7,218,491 votes (51.7 percent) to Bryan's 6,356,734 votes (45.5 percent)—a gain for the Republicans of 114,000 votes over their total in 1896. McKinley received nearly twice as many electoral votes as Bryan did. In congressional elections that year, Republicans held fifty-five Senate seats to the Democrats' thirty-one, and McKinley's party captured 197 House seats compared to the Democrats' 151. Indeed, the Republican Party had become the majority political party in the nation.
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This Day in History -- The Great 1896 St. Louis Tornado
120 years ago today, the Gateway to the West, St. Louis, would see its deadliest tornado and the third deadliest tornado in U.S. history. This tornado resulted in the deaths of 255 people and left more than a thousand injured. In addition, it caused approximately $10 million in damages an equivalent to $309 million in 2019.
By the spring of 1896, St. Louis had become a manufacturing powerhouse and one of the top five largest cities in the U.S. with a population of around 500,000. The city was complete with its Lafayette Square, Compton Heights and Mill Creek Valley neighborhoods, as well as the Eads Bridge. The city hadn&rsquot had a major weather event in nearly 25 years, so the tornado appeared as a surprise to the booming population.
The storm would first strike the Compton Heights neighborhood around 5 p.m. before continuing on a devastating track through the Mill Creek Valley. More than 5,000 people lost their homes and their possessions during this storm.
The storm continued past Mill Creek Valley toward the Mississippi River, where it decimated steamboats and other watercraft, scattering their pieces across the river to the Illinois shore. At this point, 300 feet of the eastbound side of the Eads Bridge was destroyed. It was constructed from steel and was touted as being &lsquotornado proof&rsquo, much like how the Titanic was &lsquosink-proof'.
In just under half an hour, the tornado carved a three-mile-wide path of carnage through St. Louis. Along the way, century old trees, heavy metal fences and houses were ripped out of the ground, flung several blocks and bent into unrecognizable forms. Immediately after the tornado, volunteers gathered from all over the city and helped clean up debris and assist the wounded. Telegraph and telephone poles had to be rebuilt to establish communications again.
Experts, using the Enhanced Fujita Scale first invented in 1971 and updated in 2007, estimated the 1896 tornado was an EF-4. An EF-4 tornado is the second highest on the scale, packing winds between 166 and 200 miles per hour.
The 1896 Republican National Convention was supposed to be held in St. Louis in June and fears of its movement arose due to the extensive tornado damage. However, after a massive cleanup effort, the convention was held. St. Louis would return to its full hustle and bustle a few years later and would go on to host the 1904 World&rsquos Fair and the Summer Olympics.
The tornado was part of the historic outbreak sequence of May 1896 and it is considered to be one of the most violent tornado outbreaks in U.S. history. In total, 484 people were killed across nine states: Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Kentucky. At least 38 different tornadoes struck those states during the week of May 24 &ndash 28.
Since that fated day in 1896, three tornadoes have touched down in St. Louis, though none have been as deadly. The three storms occurred in 1904, 1927 and 1959, with the 1927 tornado being the second deadliest tornado for St. Louis when 72 fatalities occurred.
Photo, Print, Drawing [National Republican Convention, June 18, 1896, St. Louis, Mo.]
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1896 Republican Convention - History
Decreases in crop prices and crop failures in the 1880s bred economic discontent among farmers that led to the formation of the Populists.
Assess the economic conditions that led to discontent in the 1890s
- Low inflation and a scarcity of paper money increased farmers’ debt burden during the 1880s, while decreasing real wages and crop prices.
- The Populist Party emerged out of the Farmers’ Alliances and the agricultural distress of the 1880s.
- Supporters of the Populist Party and many Democrats favored silver, while Republicans and financial interests advocated the gold standard.
- In 1896, the Democratic candidate, William Jennings Bryan, argued against the nation crucifying itself on a “cross of gold.”
- The improvement of U.S. finances in 1897 and the Spanish American War in 1898 drew attention away from Populist issues.
- Under the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890, the government increased its purchasing of silver while depleting its stock of gold.
- gold standard: A monetary system in which the value of circulating money is linked to the value of gold.
- Panic of 1893: An economic depression in the United States, beginning in 1893 and marked by the collapse of railroad overbuilding and shaky railroad financing, which set off a series of bank failures.
- McKinley Tariff: An act of the U.S. Congress, framed by Representative William McKinley and designed to protect domestic industries from foreign competition, that raised the average duty on imports to almost 50 percent.
The economic transformation taking place during the Gilded Age created prosperity and new lifestyles for some, but these changes also had a widespread negative impact in areas dominated by farming. Although crop diversification and the greater focus on cotton as a cash crop offered some potential for farmers to get ahead, other forces worked against that success. For instance, while technology greatly increased the amount a farmer could harvest, it also created large surpluses that could not be sold. Farmers struggled due to debt and falling prices. The crop failures of the 1880s greatly exacerbated the situation.
During the late 1880s, a series of droughts devastated the West. To make matters worse, the McKinley Tariff of 1890 was one of the highest the country had ever seen. This was detrimental to American farmers, as it drove up the prices of farm equipment. By 1890, the level of agrarian distress was at an all-time high.
This high level of agricultural distress led to the birth of several farmer movements, including the Grange movement and Farmers’ Alliances. The Grange was a secret order founded in 1867 to advance the social and economic needs of farmers. In addition to farming practices, the Grange provided insurance and aid to its members. The association grew swiftly during early years, and at its peak, had approximately 1.5 million members. The original objectives of the Grange were primarily educational, but these were soon de-emphasized in favor of an anti-middleman, cooperative movement. Collectively, Grange agents bought everything from farm machinery to women’s dresses, and purchased hundreds of grain elevators, cotton and tobacco warehouses, and even steamboat lines. They also purchased patents to enable the Grange to manufacture its own farm machinery. In some states, these practices led to ruin, and the name, Grange, became a reproach.
The Farmers’ Alliances were political organizations with elaborate economic programs. According to one early platform, the alliance’s purpose was to, “unite the farmers of America for their protection against class legislation and the encroachments of concentrated capital.” Their program also called for the regulation—if not the outright nationalization—of the railroads currency inflation to provide debt relief the lowering of the tariff and the establishment of government-owned storehouses and low-interest lending facilities. These requests were known as the “Ocala Demands.” From these elements, a new political party, known as the “Populist Party,” emerged.
The Populist Party and the Currency Question
The pragmatic portion of the Populist platform focused on issues of land, railroads, and money, including the unlimited coinage of silver. During the Civil War, the United States switched from bimetallism to a fiat money currency to finance the war. After the war, the government passed the Fourth Coinage Act in 1873 and soon resumed payments without the free and unlimited coinage of silver. This put the United States on a monometallic gold standard. This angered proponents of the free coinage of silver known as the ” Silverites.”
To understand exactly what is meant by “free coinage of silver,” it is necessary to understand the way mints operated in the days of the gold standard. Essentially, anyone who possessed uncoined gold, such as successful prospectors, could bring it to one of the U.S. Mints and trade it for its equivalent in gold coins. Free silver advocates wanted the mints to accept silver on the same principle, so that anyone would be able to deposit silver bullion at a Mint and in return receive nearly its weight in silver dollars and other currency.
The Populists showed impressive strength in the West and South in the 1892 elections. It was the currency question, however, pitting advocates of silver against those who favored gold, that soon overshadowed all other issues. Agrarian spokesmen in the West and South demanded a return to the unlimited coinage of silver. Convinced that their troubles stemmed from a shortage of money in circulation, they argued that increasing the volume of money would indirectly raise prices for farm products and drive up industrial wages, thus allowing debts to be paid with inflated dollars.
Conservative groups and the financial classes, on the other hand, believed that such a policy would be disastrous. They insisted that inflation, once begun, could not be stopped. Railroad bonds, the most important financial instrument of the time, were payable in gold. If fares and freight rates were set in half-price silver dollars, railroads would go bankrupt in weeks, putting hundreds of thousands of men out of work and destroying the industrial economy. They claimed that the gold standard was the only currency that offered stability.
The financial panic of 1893 heightened the tension of this debate. Bank failures abounded in the South and Midwest. Unemployment soared and crop prices fell sharply. The crisis, and President Cleveland’s inability to solve it, nearly broke the Democratic Party.
The Democratic Party, which supported silver and free trade, absorbed the remnants of the Populist movement as the presidential elections of 1896 neared. The Democratic convention that year was witness to one of the most famous speeches in U.S. political history. Pleading with the convention not to, “crucify mankind on a cross of gold,” William Jennings Bryan, the young Nebraskan champion of silver, won the Democrats’ presidential nomination. The remaining Populists also endorsed Bryan, hoping to retain some influence by having a voice inside the Bryan movement. Despite carrying most of the South and West, Bryan lost the more populated, industrial North and East—and the election—to the Republican William McKinley whose campaign slogan was “A Full Dinner Pail.”
The following year, the country’s finances began to improve, mostly from restored business confidence. Silverites, who did not realize that most transactions were handled by bank checks, not sacks of gold, believed the new prosperity was spurred by the discovery of gold in the Yukon. In 1898, the Spanish-American War drew the nation’s attention further away from Populist issues. If the movement was dead, however, its ideas were not. Once the Populists supported an idea, it became so tainted that the vast majority of American politicians rejected it only years later, after the taint had been forgotten, was it possible to achieve Populist reforms, such as the direct popular election of senators.
Free silver: A 1896 Republican poster warns against free silver. A man holding a baby and a woman carrying a basket of food read “Vote for Free Silver” posters outside the Democratic Campaign Headquarters. They carry out the following conversation: “‘What awful poor wages they have in all those free silver countries, John!’ ‘That’s so, wife, but the politicians say it will be different in America.’ ‘I wouldn’t take any chances on it, John, It’s easy to lower wages and hard to raise them. Politicians will tell you anything. We know there was good wages when we had protection. We could never buy clothes for the children on what they given in free silver countries, could we?”
The Republican platform of 1896 favored the gold standard but left the door open to free coinage of silver, it also supported acquisition of Hawaii and parts of the Danish West Indies, favored a canal across Central America, naval expansion, sympathized with revolutionaries in Cuba and Armenia, wanted exclusion of all illiterate immigrants, applauded gains in women's rights and pledged "equal pay for equal work". It also supported creation of a "National Board of Arbitration".
1896 Republican Platform
The Republicans of the United States, assembled by their representatives in National Convention, appealing for the popular and historical justification of their claims to the matchless achievements of thirty years of Republican rule, earnestly and confidently address themselves to the awakened intelligence, experience and conscience of their countrymen in the following declaration of facts and principles:
For the first time since the civil war the American people have witnessed the calamitous consequence of full and unrestricted Democratic control of the government. It has been a record of unparalleled incapacity, dishonor and disaster. In administrative management it has ruthlessly sacrificed indispensable revenue, entailed an unceasing deficit, eked out ordinary current expenses with borrowed money, piled up the public debt by $262,000,000 in time of peace, forced an adverse balance of trade, kept a perpetual menace hanging over the redemption fund, pawned American credit to alien syndicates and reversed all the measures and results of successful Republican rule. In the broad effect of its policy it has precipitated panic, blighted industry and trade with prolonged depression, closed factories, reduced work and wages, halted enterprise and crippled American production, while stimulating foreign production for the American market. Every consideration of public safety and individual interest demands that the government shall be wrested from the hands of those who have shown themselves incapable of conducting it without disaster at home and dishonor abroad and shall be restored to the party which for thirty years administered it with unequaled success and prosperity. And in this connection, we heartily endorse the wisdom, patriotism and success of the administration of Benjamin Harrison. We renew and emphasize our allegiance to the policy of protection, as the bulwark of American industrial independence, and the foundation of American development and prosperity. This true American policy taxes foreign products and encourages home industry. It puts the burden of revenue on foreign goods it secures the American market for the American producer. It upholds the American standard of wages for the American workingman it puts the factory by the side of the farm and makes the American farmer less dependent on foreign demand and price it diffuses general thrift, and founds the strength of all on the strength of each. In its reasonable application it is just, fair and impartial, equally opposed to foreign control and domestic monopoly to sectional discrimination and individual favoritism.
We denounce the present tariff as sectional, injurious to the public credit and destructive to business enterprise. We demand such an equitable tariff on foreign imports which come into competition with the American products as will not only furnish adequate revenue for the necessary expenses of the Government, but will protect American labor from degradation and the wage level of other lands. We are not pledged to any particular schedules. The question of rates is a practical question, to be governed by the conditions of time and of production. The ruling and uncompromising principle is the protection and development of American labor and industries. The country demands a right settlement, and then it wants rest.
We believe the repeal of the reciprocity arrangements negotiated by the last Republican Administration was a National calamity, and demand their renewal and extension on such terms as will equalize our trade with other nations, remove the restrictions which now obstruct the sale of American products in the ports of other countries, and secure enlarged markets for the products of our farms, forests, and factories.
Protection and Reciprocity are twin measures of American policy and go hand in hand. Democratic rule has recklessly struck down both, and both must be re-established. Protection for what we produce free admission for the necessaries of life which we do not produce reciprocal agreement of mutual interests, which gain open markets for us in return for our open markets for others. Protection builds up domestic industry and trade and secures our own market for ourselves reciprocity builds up foreign trade and finds an outlet for our surplus. We condemn the present administration for not keeping pace [faith] with the sugar producers of this country. The Republican party favors such protection as will lead to the production on American soil of all the sugar which the American people use, and for which they pay other countries more than one hundred million dollars annually. To all our products to those of the mine and the fields, as well as to those of the shop and the factory, to hemp and wool, the product of the great industry sheep husbandry as well as to the foundry, as to the mills, we promise the most ample protection. We favor the early American policy of discriminating duties for the upbuilding of our merchant marine. To the protection of our shipping in the foreign-carrying trade, so that American ships, the product of American labor, employed in American ship-yards, sailing under the stars and stripes, and manned, officered and owned by Americans, may regain the carrying of our foreign commerce.
The Republican party is unreservedly for sound money. It caused the enactment of a law providing for the redemption [resumption] of specie payments in 1879. Since then every dollar has been as good as gold. We are unalterably opposed to every measure calculated to debase our currency or impair the credit of our country. We are therefore opposed to the free coinage of silver, except by international agreement with the leading commercial nations of the earth, which agreement we pledge ourselves to promote, and until such agreement can be obtained the existing gold standard must be maintained. All of our silver and paper currency must be maintained at parity with gold, and we favor all measures designated to maintain inviolable the obligations of the United States, of all our money, whether coin or paper, at the present standard, the standard of most enlightened nations of the earth.
The veterans of the Union Armies deserve and should receive fair treatment and generous recognition. Whenever practicable they should be given the preference in, the matter of employment. And they are entitled to the enactment of such laws as are best calculated to secure the fulfillment of the pledges made to them in the dark days of the country's peril.
We denounce the practice in the pension bureau so recklessly and unjustly carried on by the present Administration of reducing pensions and arbitrarily dropping names from the rolls, as deserving the severest condemnation of the American people.
Our foreign policy should be at all times firm, vigorous and dignified, and all our interests in the western hemisphere should be carefully watched and guarded.
The Hawaiian Islands should be controlled by the United States, and no foreign power should be permitted to interfere with them. The Nicaragua Canal should be built, owned and operated by the United States. And, by the purchase of the Danish Islands we should secure a much needed Naval station in the West Indies.
The massacres in Armenia have aroused the deep sympathy and just indignation of the American people, and we believe that the United States should exercise all the influence it can properly exert to bring these atrocities to an end. In Turkey, American residents have been exposed to gravest [grievous] dangers and American property destroyed. There, and everywhere, American citizens and American property must be absolutely protected at all hazards and at any cost.
We reassert the Monroe Doctrine in its full extent, and we reaffirm the rights of the United States to give the Doctrine effect by responding to the appeal of any American State for friendly intervention in ease of European encroachment.
We have not interfered and shall not interfere, with the existing possession of any European power in this hemisphere, and to the ultimate union of all the English speaking parts of the continent by the free consent of its inhabitants from the hour of achieving their own independence the people of the United States have regarded with sympathy the struggles of other American peoples to free themselves from European domination. We watch with deep and abiding interest the heroic battles of the Cuban patriots against cruelty and oppression, and best hopes go out for the full success of their determined contest for liberty. The government of Spain, having lost control of Cuba, and being unable to protect the property or lives of resident American citizens, or to comply with its Treaty obligations, we believe that the government of the United States should actively use its influence and good offices to restore peace and give independence to the Island.
The peace and security of the Republic and the maintenance of its rightful influence among the nations of the earth demand a naval power commensurate with its position and responsibilities. We, therefore, favor the continued enlargement of the navy, and a complete system of harbor and sea-coast defenses.
For the protection of the equality of our American citizenship and of the wages of our workingmen, against the fatal competition of low priced labor, we demand that the immigration laws be thoroughly enforced, and so extended as to exclude from entrance to the United States those who can neither read nor write.
The civil service law was placed on the statute book by the Republican party which has always sustained it, and we renew our repeated declarations that it shall be thoroughly and heartily, and honestly enforced, and extended wherever practicable.
We demand that every citizen of the United States shall be allowed to cast one free and unrestricted ballot, and that such ballot shall be counted and returned as cast.
We proclaim our unqualified condemnation of the uncivilized and preposterous [barbarous] practice well known as Iynching, and the killing of human beings suspected or charged with crime without process of law.
We favor the creation of a National Board of Arbitration to settle and adjust differences which may arise between employers and employed engaged in inter-State commerce.
We believe in an immediate return to the free homestead policy of the Republican party, and urge the passage by Congress of a satisfactory free homestead measure which has already passed the House, and is now pending in the senate.
We favor the admission of the remaining Territories at the earliest practicable date having due regard to the interests of the people of the Territories and of the United States. And the Federal officers appointed for the Territories should be selected from the bona-fide residents thereof, and the right of self-government should be accorded them as far as practicable.
We believe that the citizens of Alaska should have representation in the Congress of the United States, to the end that needful legislation may be intelligently enacted.
We sympathize fully with all legitimate efforts to lessen and prevent the evils of intemperance and promote morality. The Republican party is mindful of the rights and interests of women, and believes that they should be accorded equal opportunities, equal pay for equal work, and protection to the home. We favor the admission of women to wider spheres of usefulness and welcome their co-operation in rescuing the country from Democratic and Populist mismanagement and misrule.
Such are the principles and policies of the Republican party. By these principles we will apply it to those policies and put them into execution. We rely on the faithful and considerate judgment of the American people, confident alike of the history of our great party and in the justice of our cause, and we present our platform and our candidates in the full assurance that their selection will bring victory to the Republican party, and prosperity to the people of the United States.