BECK index

US Depression & Cleveland 1893-97

by Sanderson Beck

Grover Cleveland 1889-93
Cleveland, United States & Hawaii in 1893
Cleveland & United States Panic of 1893
Cleveland, Debs & the General Strike in 1894
United States & Cleveland in 1894
United States & Cleveland in 1895
Cleveland & United States Elections in 1896

Grover Cleveland 1889-93

United States & Harrison 1889-93

      Before leaving Washington on 4 March 1889 the Clevelands sold their home at Oak View for about $140,000 turning a $100,000 profit. While exiting from the President’s Mansion Mrs. Frances Cleveland told the head butler Jerry Smith, “We are coming back just four years from now.”1 They went to New York, and after a fishing trip in the Adirondacks they rented a four-story brownstone house at 816 Madison Avenue. Cleveland had saved half his salaries as President, and he associated with the law firm Bangs, Stetson, Tracy, and MacVeagh. He paid ten percent of his legal fees for office expenses but mostly acted as a referee in his office when called upon to do so by courts. After the head lawyer Francis Stetson got the financier J. P. Morgan’s account, Cleveland became friends with Morgan who was also Tracy’s brother-in-law.
      Cleveland mostly held to the ex-Presidents’ tradition of not commenting much on the current President’s policies. On December 12 he spoke to about 400 businessmen at the Merchants’ Association in Boston on ballot reform. He said he was glad to address those who

represented that factor in civilized life
which measures the progress of a people,
which constitutes the chief care
of every enlightened government
and which gives to a country the privilege
of recognized membership in the community of nations.2

That same week he addressed 250 leading authors at the American Copyright League and expressed his doubts about running for a second term. Yet he began to criticize the Harrison administration on the high tariffs and silver issues, though he commended Harrison’s judicial appointments as superior to his own. On 13 November 1890 he spoke in Columbus, Ohio at a birthday banquet for his 1888 running mate Allan Thurman. He criticized William McKinley and his tariff for slighting the working class.
      On 8 January 1891 Cleveland addressed the annual Jackson Day Dinner of the Philadelphia Young Men’s Democratic Association on “The Principles of True Democracy.” He described those principles as

Equal and exact justice to all men;
peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations—
entangling alliance with none;
the support of the state governments in all their rights;
the preservation of the general government
in its whole constitutional vigor;
a jealous care of the right of election by the people;
absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority;
the supremacy of the civil over the military authority;
economy in the public expenses;
the honest payment of our debts
and sacred preservation of the public faith;
the encouragement of agriculture,
and commerce as its handmaid, and freedom of religion,
freedom of the press, and freedom of the person.3

      In 1891 he began speaking nearly once a month. Cleveland was concerned about the Sherman Silver Purchase Act especially when Democratic conventions in 21 states supported unlimited silver coinage. In January all but one Democrat in the US Senate voted for a free coinage bill. In February he sent a letter on that issue to the New York Reform Club, writing,

If we have developed an unexpected capacity for the
assimilation of a largely increased volume of this currency,
and even if we have demonstrated
the usefulness of such an increase,
these conditions fall far short of insuring us against disaster
if, in the present situation,
we enter upon the dangerous and reckless experiment
of free, unlimited, and independent silver coinage.4

      Some eastern capitalists opposed the high McKinley tariffs and the Sherman Silver Act. These included Cleveland’s former Treasury Secretary Charles Fairchild, his Navy Secretary William Whitney, the merchant brothers Oscar and Isidor Straus, and Henry Villard who was a journalist and a railroad financier.
      The former New York Governor David B. Hill had just been elected a US Senator. He hoped to get the Democratic nomination for President by courting free-silver Democrats in Congress, the South, and the New York delegation. The state party chairman Edward Murphy tried to aid Hill by calling for an early state convention on February 22 in Albany; but this backfired when the New York World called it “an act of midwinter folly; illogical, unfair, undemocratic and unwise.” Most of the other Democratic newspapers agreed with that. Cleveland’s backers could not get the committee to cancel the Albany convention, and they planned one to meet at Syracuse in May. On Washington’s birthday Cleveland spoke at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and said,

Interest yourselves in public affairs as a duty of citizenship;
but do not surrender your faith to those who discredit
and debase politics by scoffing at sentiment and principle,
and whose political activity consists
in attempts to gain popular support
by cunning devices and shrewd manipulation.5

Cleveland suggested that the virtue and honesty of George Washington’s time was still relevant. The speech was published in the major newspapers. Cleveland decided that he would obey “the cause of the country and of my party.” The Rhode Island convention in March pledged their delegates to Cleveland, followed by the Massachusetts Democrats and then on May 14 by the Georgia convention.
      The Democratic Convention met at Chicago on June 21, and after a very long session the next day they nominated Cleveland for President on the first ballot. Adlai E. Stevenson of Illinois, who advocated free silver, was nominated for Vice President. When he was Assistant Postmaster General under Cleveland, Stevenson had replaced 40,000 Republicans with Democrats.
      The 1892 presidential campaign and the election are discussed in “Harrison & US Elections in 1892” in the previous chapter.
      Cleveland had some trouble at first getting people to accept cabinet positions. Thomas Bayard declined to return to being Secretary of State because he wanted to be the ambassador to Great Britain to which he was appointed. Cleveland then chose the former Republican and US Appeals Court Judge Walter Q. Gresham who had been Postmaster General in 1883 and Treasury Secretary in 1884. Charles Fairchild declined to be Treasury Secretary again. Cleveland’s choice of the US Senator John G. Carlisle of Kentucky was respected because he was an expert and had a brilliant intellect. The US Senator George Gray of Delaware declined to be Attorney General, and Cleveland named the Boston railroad lawyer Richard Olney. Cleveland chose his friend Wilson Bissell to be Postmaster as he was capable and loyal to civil service reform. He picked Hoke Smith, the owner of the Atlanta Journal, as Interior Secretary because he advocated tariff reform and sound money. He also wanted to aid the Indians and protect public land and forests from private exploitation. The Alabama Congressman Hilary Herbert became the Navy Secretary. Daniel Lamont had worked closely with Cleveland for many years, and he was made Secretary of War and was his closest advisor. J. Stanley Morton had been the Secretary and then the Acting Governor of the Nebraska Territory. He had founded Arbor Day on 10 April 1872 when about one million trees were planted in Nebraska. He had stood up to free-silver Democrats and was appointed Secretary of Agriculture.
      On 1 March 1893 the US Congress passed the Diplomatic Appropriations Act which authorized funds of varying amounts for envoys extraordinary and ministers plenipotentiary in 35 nations and for ministers resident and consuls-general in 5 nations.

Cleveland, United States & Hawaii in 1893

US, Harrison & Hawaii in Early 1893

      After a heavy snowfall President Grover Cleveland gave his brief second inaugural address on March 4. He called for a frugal government and continued civil service, and he summarized the policies of his first administration. He described the relations of business and labor, his Indian policy, and tariff reform. He said,

   The existence of immense aggregations of kindred
enterprises and combinations of business interests
formed for the purpose of limiting production
and fixing prices is inconsistent with the fair field
which ought to be open to every independent activity.
Legitimate strife in business should not be superseded
by an enforced concession to the demands of combinations
that have the power to destroy, nor should the people
to be served lose the benefit of cheapness
which usually results from wholesome competition.
These aggregations and combinations frequently
constitute conspiracies against the interests of the people,
and in all their phases they are unnatural
and opposed to our American sense of fairness.
To the extent that they can be reached
and restrained by Federal power
the General Government should relieve our citizens
from their interference and exactions….
   Our relations with the Indians located within our border
impose upon us responsibilities we can not escape.
Humanity and consistency require us to treat them
with forbearance and in our dealings with them to honestly
and considerately regard their rights and interests.
Every effort should be made to lead them,
through the paths of civilization and education,
to self-supporting and independent citizenship.
In the meantime, as the nation’s wards,
they should be promptly defended against the cupidity
of designing men and shielded from every influence
or temptation that retards their advancement.
The people of the United States have decreed that
on this day the control of their Government
in its legislative and executive branches shall be given
to a political party pledged in the most positive terms
to the accomplishment of tariff reform.
They have thus determined in favor of
a more just and equitable system of Federal taxation….
While there should be no surrender of principle,
our task must be undertaken wisely
and without heedless vindictiveness.
Our mission is not punishment,
but the rectification of wrong.6

      The country was facing the worst economic depression in twenty years, and Cleveland often worked as late as 2 or 3 in the morning. The Cleveland White House had only seven servants including a chef, a nurse, and a telephone operator. In his first term there was only one phone, and he often answered it himself. On March 5 a New York Times editorial wrote that President Cleveland

has an absolutely sound conception of the functions
of the Government of these United States
and of the principles upon which
its administration must be conducted
if its popular character is to be maintained.
He has the unerring instinct of a clear common sense
as to the policy that must be maintained
to guard our great heritage of popular institutions
from the insidious influences that tend to undermine it.7

      For the first time since the 1856 election the Democratic Party controlled both houses of the US Congress. The Midwest was suffering from economic deflation. In Kansas from 1887 to 1893 over 11,000 farms were foreclosed while three-quarters of the land in 15 counties was taken over by mortgage companies. The Kansas Governor Lorenzo Dow Lewelling sent his “Executive circular to metropolitan police commissioners” which was also called the “Tramp Circular” advising them to be lenient toward the wandering vagrants and the unemployed.
      The US Supreme Court in United States v. Workingmen’s Amalgamated Council on March 25 upheld the conviction of union leaders for conspiracy to violate the Sherman Anti-trust Act because they were trying to prevent interstate commerce.

      On March 9 President Cleveland withdrew the Hawaiian treaty from the Senate. The New York Times and the New York World called for an investigation, and Cleveland sent to Hawaii Rep. James H. Blount of Georgia, who had just retired from being the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, to find out the truth and to restore American honor and justice. He had the new flag taken down and the Hawaiian flag raised again. Secretary of State Gresham agreed with Cleveland that for the sake of justice the Hawaiian government should be restored. The New York Commercial Advertiser criticized Cleveland for throwing away a “prize.” Albert S. Willis replaced Stevens as minister and urged reconciliation. In the debate most Democrats supported Cleveland, but some wanted to continue the American expansion begun by Presidents Jefferson and Polk. Stevens complained that the McKinley Tariff Act had cost Americans most of the $12 million loss to the sugar industry.
      When Blount arrived in Hawaii, he stopped US forces from being police for the provisional government and took down the flag and withdrew the marines back to the USS Boston. He stayed in a hotel instead of with a wealthy supporter. He learned that most of the natives opposed United States annexation while sugar planters pressured some to sign petitions on its behalf. Blount completed his report for the State Department and the President on July 11, and it was kept secret until late November. He and Cleveland agreed that annexation was not justified. President Sanford B. Dole declined to dismantle his government, and Queen Liliʻuokalani refused to grant amnesty and wanted to be returned to power.
      On October 18 Secretary of State Gresham presented to Cleveland and the Cabinet a plan for Hawaii. Willis told Queen Liliʻuokalani that she must promise clemency to her adversaries and accept their actions during the interval in order for her authority to be recognized by the US. On November 13 President Dole met with her, but she refused to grant amnesty to revolutionaries. Willis eventually persuaded her to do so on December 16, but then Dole refused to resign. Most Hawaiians opposed her restoration. On December 4 Cleveland condemned the forcible intervention and worked to resolve the situation, and three days later he and his Cabinet turned the Hawaiian emergency over to the US Congress. On December 18 Cleveland sent a long special message to Congress on the Hawaiian issue. He believed that right and justice should determine their path and wrote,

If national honesty is to be disregarded
and a desire for territorial extension or
dissatisfaction with a form of government not our own
ought to regulate our conduct,
I have entirely misapprehended the mission and character
of our Government and the behavior which the conscience
of our people demands of their public servants.8

Thus he urged the United States “to make all possible reparations.” He again asked Congress to devise a legislative plan “consistent with American honor, integrity, and morality.” The US Senate decided to stay out of Hawaii’s affairs and insisted that other nations do the same. Some Americans including church groups who supported the Christian missionaries protested the result; but most newspapers opposed restoring a monarch, and some prominent thinkers praised Cleveland for his wisdom.
      The great historian Allan Nevins compared this crisis to the situation faced by the Roman Senate in 464 BC when they decided to extend their power beyond the Italian peninsula to Sicily in order to defend the Mamertines. That was also the year Rome began holding gladiatorial contests in the city. Nevins wrote,

In an era of international land-grabbing
Cleveland, despite angry sneers,
had insisted that the United States should meet
the loftiest obligations of honesty and unselfishness;
in an era when the rights of small nations
were almost universally trampled on,
he had displayed a sensitive consideration
for one of the weakest of them all.9

      To reduce the number of office-seekers Cleveland decided he would not appoint anyone who had served during his first term, and he excluded newspapermen. In mid-March he would not recognize the patronage boards set up by legislators. After dealing with the job-seekers for nine weeks he refused to see them during the time arranged for talking with Congressmen. He filled the State and Treasury Departments with partisan Democrats, but the Post Office Department followed the nonpartisan civil service reforms. Secretary of State Gresham did not know Democrats well, and he was aided by the Assistant Secretary Josiah Quincy for six months. Cleveland asked Theodore Roosevelt to stay on as the Civil Service Commissioner, and he did so until the spring of 1895.
      The Sherman Silver Act of 1890 had committed the United States to annual purchases of 54 million ounces of silver at market value, and this was inflating the currency by some $50 million each year. When Cleveland left the presidency in 1889 the US cash balance was $281 million with $196,689,514 of it in gold. When he returned in 1893 Harrison had left only $112,450,577 in cash and $103,500,000 in gold. The legal minimum of the latter was $100 million. Henry Villard predicted a financial panic. The Philadelphia and Reading Railroad owed $125 million and declared bankruptcy, signaling what could happen. On April 20 a Boston banker warned US Attorney General Olney that people would go into a panic if the federal gold reserve fell below $100 million. In 1892 the US Government had lost $50 million in gold, and in the current fiscal year ending on June 30 the drain of gold to Europe would be $87.5 million. Treasury Secretary Carlisle got an emergency loan of $6 million from New York bankers to raise the reserve up to $107 million by March 25, but for the first time it fell below $100 million on April 23. Cleveland maintained gold payments, and Andrew Carnegie said that he had saved the country from a panic.
      Cleveland attended the International Columbian Naval Review on the Hudson River in New York City on April 27. Then on May 1 he officially opened the World’s Columbian Exposition at Chicago where a quarter million people gathered. Millions had attended since it began in October 1892, and 27 million more would visit during the summer. Cleveland began noticing pain in his mouth while returning to Washington on May 3. He agreed to be examined by Dr. R. M. O’Reilly who found an ulcer from the molar teeth to the soft palate. Then Dr. James H. Welch of John Hopkins found that a biopsy specimen was malignant. Cleveland’s personal physician Joseph D. Bryant confirmed this, and the President became concerned that this must be kept secret so as to avoid increasing the financial panic. If Vice President Adlai Stevenson replaced Cleveland, he likely would put the US on the silver standard.
      The US Supreme Court on May 15 upheld the Geary Act of 1892 that had strengthened the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 which had prohibited the immigration of Chinese workers.

Cleveland & United States Panic of 1893

      On May 4 the daring Wall Street speculator, Stephen Van Cullen White, after having paid a 100% dividend in January, had his National Cordage Company fail along with two other important firms. Panic occurred at the New York Stock Exchange the next day. On Tuesday May 9 the Chemical National Bank of Chicago failed, followed two days later by the Columbia National Bank. European banks and governments tried to get their US notes redeemed for gold. Harvey Fisk & Co. estimated that the value of a silver dollar was down to 53 cents, and it was diminishing every day. The Panic of 1893 had begun. One quarter of the nation’s railroads failed involving $2.5 billion of capital and 40,000 miles of railways. New York banks in May and June refused to discount the notes of western and southern institutions, causing many to close down. Farms were especially hard hit. By August about two million people or 15% of the labor force were unemployed.
      Cleveland agreed to have surgery, and the operation took place on the Oneida yacht of his friend Elias Benedictwhere he had spent much time. He liked to smoke cigars and chew tobacco, and they may have caused the cancer in his mouth. He was 56, corpulent, and exhausted from working hard, but they decided they needed to use ether as an anesthetic despite the risk. A team of top surgeons and the expert dentist Ferdinand Hasbrouck removed two teeth and the tumor on July 1. Cleveland survived and gradually recovered as his friend Lamont told the press that he had dental surgery. Some more diseased tissue was removed in a second operation on the 17th. After he regained his ability to speak, the Attorney General Olney reported that he said, “My God, Olney, they nearly killed me!”10 He was fitted with an artificial jaw. He had lost some weight, and there was no outward sign on his face.
      On June 9 George Pullman and about 200 prominent men that included tycoons such as retailer Marshal Field, grocery wholesaler Franklin MacVeagh, flour miller Charles Pillsbury, and various railroad executives attended a dinner in St. Paul, Minnesota to celebrate the completion of James Jerome Hill’s Great Northern Railroad connecting St. Paul, Minnesota to Puget Sound in the state of Washington. That summer because of the economic decline Hill began cutting wages for the lowest paid workers to a dollar a day. Yet in 1893 a good wheat crop with low prices on equipment and supplies enabled Hill to make large profits. The Northern Pacific Railroad, which had been completed in 1883, declared bankruptcy on October 20.
      In May and June 1893 the New York banks refused to rediscount notes from western and southern financial institutions. India was the last country to demonetize silver which caused the price of US silver to fall to 77 cents an ounce on June 27 because it no longer had a market. Mines in Colorado were shut down, putting 30,000 men out of work. Delegates from silver-mining states met at Denver; they promised to accept repeal of the Sherman Act if free and unlimited coinage of silver was maintained. They blamed the world’s capitalists for demonetizing silver, and they warned against a single gold standard.
      US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Blatchford died on July 7, and Cleveland nominated William Hornblower of New York; but David Hill, the senior senator from that state, got the votes to defeat the nomination. Hill wanted Rufus W. Peckham, whom Cleveland knew in Albany, but he nominated his brother Wheeler H. Peckham instead. He was rejected by even more votes. Finally on 12 March 1894 Cleveland nominated Senator Edward D. White of Louisiana who opposed the President on the tariff, and on the same day the Senate confirmed him unanimously.
      On August 1 savings banks required sixty days of notice before withdrawing funds. New York banks cashed only small checks, and 642 banks failed. Democrats blamed the Republican tariff that increased the prices of imports. Plentiful and cheap silver enabled people and banks to use it to purchase paper money and then redeem that for gold, reducing the US Government’s supply and hoarding of the precious metal. Also 194 railroads declared they were bankrupt.
      The US Congress had adjourned on June 30, but the next day Cleveland summoned them to reconvene for a special session on August 7 in order to repeal the Sherman Silver Act. He wrote a message that was delivered to the US Congress on August 8 in which he asked them to direct their attention to the “alarming and extraordinary business situation, involving the welfare and prosperity of all our people.” He urged them to repeal the Silver Act by which the US Government had purchased over $147 million worth of silver, some of it paid for with gold. The value of money had increased, making it hard for those with heavy debts. William L. Wilson of West Virginia, Bourke Cockran of New York, and the former Speaker Thomas Reed of Maine spoke for the repeal in the House. Those opposed were led by Joseph W. Bailey of Texas and young William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska who made an influential 3-hour speech on August 16, saying,

On the one side stand
the corporate interests of the United States,
the moneyed interests, aggregated wealth and capital,
imperious, arrogant, compassionless….
On the other side stand an unnumbered throng,
those who gave to the Democratic party a name
and for whom it has assumed to speak.
Work-worn and dust-begrimed,
they make their mute appeal, and too often find
their cry for help beat in vain against the outer walls,
while others, less deserving,
gain ready access to legislative halls.11

      On August 20 the House voted to repeal the Sherman Silver Act 239-108 with 78 Democrats, 22 Republicans, and 8 Populists voting no. Cleveland returned to Washington on the 30th, and Dr. Bryant declared him “all healed.” When a story about his operation leaked out in the Philadelphia Press on August 29, it was denied by his advisors and generally not believed. The secrecy was fairly well kept, and the public would not learn about the cancer until 1917. In the Senate much debate and filibustering went on for nearly two months with William V. Allen of Nebraska speaking continuously for 15 hours. On October 17 John Sherman argued for repealing his own bill, saying,

If we dispose of the question as we think best
for the people of the United States,
we will gladden the hearts of millions of laboring men
who are now being deprived of employment;
we will relieve the business care of thousands of men
whose fortunes are embarked in trade;
we will relieve the farmer and facilitate
the transportation of his products to foreign countries,
which is now clogged by the want of money.12

On October 23 President Cleveland still insisted they pass the repeal, and one week later the Congress finally approved the bill with the Senate voting 48-37. A few minutes later Cleveland signed it into law.
      About 16,000 businesses had become bankrupt. Half the laborers in Paterson, New Jersey were not working. Silver miners in Colorado went to Denver to apply for relief. Poorhouses became bankrupt, and many public schools closed because they lacked funding. About 5,000 Polish immigrants in East Buffalo were in danger of starving.
      On September 16 in the largest land rush over 100,000 American settlers had bought lots in the six million acres of the Cherokee Strip between Kansas and the Oklahoma Territory which Cherokees had sold for $8,595,736 in an 1891 treaty the US Congress had finally ratified on 3 March 1893. That treaty also established the Dawes Commission with the power to dissolve tribal governments and allot land to individuals as preparation for Oklahoma becoming a state.
      In the First Annual Message of his second term to the US Congress on December 4 Cleveland reported that he had found

that the constitutional Government of Hawaii
had been subverted with the active aid of our representative
to that Government and through the intimidation caused by
the presence of an armed naval force of the United States,
which was landed for that purpose
at the instance of our minister.
Upon the facts developed it seemed to me
the only honorable course for our Government to pursue
was to undo the wrong that had been done
by those representing us and to restore as far as practicable
the status existing at the time of our forcible intervention.
With a view of accomplishing this result
within the constitutional limits of executive power,
and recognizing all our obligations and responsibilities
growing out of any changed conditions brought about
by our unjustifiable interference,
our present minister at Honolulu
has received appropriate instructions to that end.13

He also noted that in the previous year the US had exported gold worth $108,680,844 which was nearly double that of the year before. The sugar bounty had increased from $2,033,053 to $9,375,131. The latest annual deficit of the US Government was $28 million. The US Army had 25,778 enlisted men and 2,144 officers while the state militias had 112,597 officers and men. The War Department spent less than $52 million of which $15,296,876 was used to improve rivers and harbors. The US Army was not needed for any Indian outbreaks or for domestic violence. Cleveland reported that the Railroad Mail Service had speeded up all mail deliveries. He estimated that 110,000 of the 248,000 Indians on 161 reservations with 86,116,531 acres of land had “adopted civilized customs.”
      In the House of Representatives the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, William L. Wilson, held hearings daily on a revised tariff bill until September 20. Andrew Carnegie advised the President not to do “radical surgery” on the tariffs. Cleveland helped write a conservative bill that added lumber, coal, iron, and wool to the free list along with raw and refined sugar, and the reductions on manufactured clothing were moderate. Wilson introduced the tariff bill named after him on December 19.
      The American Federation of Labor (AFL) held their annual convention in December. They estimated that more than three million Americans were unemployed, and they demanded an 8-hour day so that more people would have jobs. They urged the US Government to issue $500 million in paper money to finance public works.
      Detroit’s Mayor Hazen Pingree expanded public welfare programs and hired the unemployed to grow vegetables on vacant lots. His “potato-patch plan” spread to Buffalo, Brooklyn, New York, Cincinnati, and other cities.

Cleveland, Debs & the General Strike in 1894

      On 20 April 1894 over 100,000 coal workers in Columbus, Ohio went on strike for better pay. The next day about 126,00 United Mine Workers led by John McBride joined the strike that grew to 160,000 a few days later, and it spread from Pennsylvania to Alabama and Colorado.
      On April 28 the Great Northern Railroad’s owner James Hill sent a telegram to President Cleveland complaining about mobs in North Dakota and Montana saying they were interfering with the US mail, though they were not. The US Attorney General Olney disliked Hill and advised Cleveland not to interfere because the workers could be right.
      President Cleveland agreed to let Olney be US Attorney General while still working for his $10,000 salary as counsel for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad. As a cabinet officer he made only $8,000. Olney had been a corporation lawyer for 35 years and was also a director on the boards of the New York Central and the Santa Fe railroads. The US Attorney Thomas Milchrist in Chicago told the General Managers Association (GMA) that he would get arrest warrants for strikers who interfere with US mail which had been greatly expedited by railroads. The US Attorney Edwin Walker had been the lawyer for the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad since 1870. Olney sent him to Chicago to command the federal response to the boycott. He worked with the GMA against the strike and reported to Olney by telegram. Olney ordered Chicago’s chief US Marshal John W. Arnold to gather a force, and he quickly appointed 400 deputies and would eventually deploy 5,000 marshals from Chicago. Railroad companies paid for most of these men who arrested about 800 strikers in Chicago. The police arrested some deputy marshals who shot at people indiscriminately. Colorado’s Gov. Davis H. Waite protested that the deputy marshals like “a private army” were arresting strikers without warrants.
      Illinois Gov. John Peter Altgeld had written the essay “Our Penal Machinery and Its Victims” in 1884. Altgeld after listening to Clarence Darrow on 26 June 1893 courageously pardoned three Haymarket convicts. Although he believed that troops would be used to help the railroad interests to defeat the workers, on June 30 he sent 300 state militiamen because of the alleged public danger. The next day he sent 265 soldiers to Decatur and 220 to Danville.
      On Sunday July 1 Olney ordered US Attorney Milchrist to use the law, and he worked many hours on a petition for an injunction which two sympathetic federal judges helped write before forbidding Eugene Debs and the American Railway Union (ARU) directors from aiding the boycott in any way or communicating with members about the strike. Strikers were ordered not to oppose replacement workers or employees or even persuade them not to perform their duties. Those violating the writ could be arrested for contempt of court. Many considered this un-American. The injunction also prohibited public nuisance, obstructing the mail, and even restraining interstate commerce according to the Sherman Antitrust Act which was intended to curtail monopolies.
      During the Pullman Railroad strike in 1894 on July 3 Attorney General Olney showed President Cleveland, who had been sheriff of Erie County for 3 years, telegrams from Illinois, New Mexico, Colorado, and California asking for Federal troops. Cleveland called an emergency cabinet meeting with Army Commander John Schofield and General Nelson Miles, and at 4 p.m. the President decided to send troops. Miles asked about firing on rioting strikers, and Cleveland replied that Miles was to be the judge of that. War Secretary Lamont wired orders to Fort Sheridan, and Miles booked a train to Chicago. Cleveland said, “If it takes every dollar in the Treasury and every soldier in the United States to deliver a postal card in Chicago, that postal card should be delivered.”14
      On July 5 rioters burned or overturned freight cars, and General Miles asked General Schofield to send more troops. On that day Gov. Altgeld wrote to President Cleveland objecting that he had not requested them, and he asked him to respect “local self-government” and withdraw the Federal troops. He told reporters that Olney was representing the great trusts and using the government.
      On Friday July 6 the nation’s largest labor conflict escalated as mobs overturned at least 150 boxcars while fire destroyed 250 on sidings. Outside the stockyards about 700 freight cars of the Panhandle Railroad were burned. Some 200 open cars with coal were set aflame. Property damage in Chicago on that day was estimated at $1 million. City officials found that railroad losses that day were $340,000. On Saturday Federal troops were directed to shoot anyone who set fires, destroyed property, threw objects, or attacked marshals of trainmen. State militia and police were given similar instructions.
      On the Sunday evening of July 8 Cleveland met with his cabinet and read a letter from Debs and the Knights of Labor leader James Sovereign in which they claimed that the railroads disrupted the mail, that the military was deployed too quickly, and that workers needed to be protected from the ravages of corporate greed. Cleveland proclaimed that strikers were “public enemies,” and the next day he sent his prohibitions to western states with major disorders. Citizens were required to disperse by 3 p.m. on July 10. He also ordered eight infantry companies in New York to go to Chicago, and he called out the Navy and Marines in San Francisco to go against the Sacramento strikers. General Miles wired that Chicago rioters had 6,000 rifles and many dynamite bombs, and he threatened death to anyone who came within 100 feet of railroad tracks.
      The general strike began on July 11, and incidents in Illinois and California resulted in a few people being killed. US Secretary of State Gresham commented that Pullman’s men made a serious mistake when they refused to negotiate with employees and when they used the US Government to crush labor unions. He called for Pullman to resign. Senator John Sherman urged government to regulate sleeping-car fares as they did for freight rates.
      On July 12 a Knights of Labor committee with US Senator James H. Kyle urged President Cleveland to invoke the Arbitration Act of 1888 to settle the disputes. He promised that after the disorders ended, he would appoint a commission to investigate. Also on that day about 10,000 people gathered at Cooper Union in New York, and Henry George criticized the use of the standing Federal army against citizens.
      On July 26 Cleveland appointed the Labor Commissioner Carrol D. Wright to head the investigating commission on the Pullman strike. They began holding hearings on August 15, and over two weeks they listened to over 200 witnesses and examined many documents. They found much to criticize in how Pullman’s employees were treated. Debs explained that local unions decided whether to strike, and delegates had called off the boycott on August 2. He suggested that government ownership of the railroads would be better. Debs said he was not a socialist and was for harmonious relations.
      Pullman himself appeared on August 27 and faced tough questioning on his business decisions. The commissioners in their report found that concentration of power and wealth greatly changed business, and corporations needed to be restrained by laws. They criticized Pullman for refusing arbitration and for his stingy treatment of employees, and they blamed the GMA for refusing to deal with the ARU. They found no evidence that the ARU officers had advised or participated in any “intimidation, violence, or destruction of property.” They suggested that government facilitate arbitration and require unions to ban violence in their by-laws. They recommended a law to prevent corporations from barring employees in unions. Reforms they favored included restricting immigration, compulsory arbitration, worker pensions, limiting work hours, and a minimum wage.

United States & Cleveland in 1894

      Mormons had broken the 1882 law against polygamy, and on 4 January 1894 President Cleveland granted amnesty to them for as long as they observed the law thereafter.
      On January 8 a fire in Chicago destroyed most of the exhibits at the International Columbian Exposition that resulted in $2 million damage.
      On February 8 the US Congress repealed the Enforcement Act of 1871 so that control over elections would be returned to the states. On May 15 New Jersey became the first state that prohibited employers from discriminating against union members in hiring.
      Frederick Douglass in June published the pamphlet The Lesson of the Hour that described in detail how and why Negroes are lynched. In summarizing he wrote,

I have shown that the Negro’s accusers
in this case have violated their oaths,
and have cheated the Negro out of his vote;
that they have robbed and defrauded the Negro
systematically and persistently, and have boasted of it.15

      On June 28 the US Congress made Labor Day a national holiday on the first Monday in September. The provisional government in Hawaii established a republic on July 4 which Cleveland quickly recognized.
      The US House of Representatives on February 1 had voted 204-140 for the Wilson Tariff Bill. Wilson persuaded President Cleveland to add a small income tax to make up for revenue losses. Farmers complained about the free wool; mine owners did not want iron on the free list; and the sugar trust objected to no duties on sugar. In the US Senate three Populists usually voted with the 44 Democrats who still outnumbered the 38 Republicans, but on tariffs the Populists wanted duties cut more on all manufactured goods so that foreigners would import more of America’s farm products. During the debate at least six Democrats opposed Cleveland, and their numbers increased. He called them “obstructionists,” and Maryland’s Democratic Senator Arthur Pue Gorman, who co-sponsored Wilson’s bill, said it was wrong to reform tariffs during a depression. During months of debate the senators added 634 amendments for their states’ special interests, and the bill finally passed 39-34 on July 3.
      Cleveland complained his opponents were using the worst political methods and bringing about a dangerous situation. On July 18 he was informed that the conference committee could not resolve the differences between the two bills. He wrote a letter criticizing the bill, and Gorman replied with a retaliatory speech in the Senate. Cleveland got support from state conventions by Democrats in Massachusetts, Florida, Indiana, and Iowa and from the Baltimore Sun and the New York Herald. The Congress finally sent the bill to the President on August 18. Cleveland had caught malaria and had left town for a while returning on August 22. He refused to sign it, but he let it become law by not using the veto.
      The nation was still suffering from the depression, and the Democratic Party was weakened by division. Crops were damaged by a plague of grasshoppers and chinch bugs, and blizzards destroyed starving cattle. Farmland was enlarged in the US by about 305 million acres as the number of farms increased from 4 million to 5.7 million. Many farmers had debt from buying equipment and land, and overproduction in grains, beef, and pork lowered prices. Wheat prices fell below 55 cents a bushel in the Chicago market when the farmers growing costs were at least 50 cents. In 1894 corn sold in central markets for less than 30 cents. Cotton had sold for 11 cents a pound in the 1880s, and its price had fallen below 7 cents. Total farm mortgages passed $2.2 billion with annual interest over $200. Kansas and Nebraska were especially hit hard by drought and foreclosures. The price of grain was so low that often they could not afford to ship it to markets.
      The Wilson-Gorman Tariff became law on August 27 reducing the McKinley Act tariffs by about 20%, and it included the first peace-time income tax which was for 2% of income over $4,000 a year. On 8 April 1895 the US Supreme Court in Pollock v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co. voted 5-4 that the income tax was unconstitutional, and they ordered the $80,000 already collected be given back to about 4,500 people most of whom had attached protests to their returns.
      President Cleveland was committed to maintaining the gold standard that most nations used, but populists in the West especially were keen on the rising production of silver. The total gold in the US fell below $600 million. The US Government’s gold reserve was down to $80 million when the Silver Purchase Act was repealed on 30 December 1893, and it fell to $69 million in January 1894. The federal gold deficit for the next fiscal year beginning in July was predicted to be $78 million. US gold was being exported at a rate of nearly $74 million a year. Cleveland ordered Treasury Secretary Carlisle to sell bonds for gold at 4% interest. The Treasury had enough silver bullion to coin $55,150,000 in silver dollars, and Congress passed the Bland’s seigniorage bill on March 25 to do that; but Cleveland vetoed it four days later. To prevent their overriding his veto he persuaded House Speaker Charles Crisp to put it to a vote before any debate, and the veto was sustained. Democrats opposing Cleveland called themselves the “Wild Horses.” The US Treasury’s cash balance was barely above the required minimum of $100 million.
      On August 18 the US Carey Act granted one million acres of desert land to the states Idaho and Wyoming on the condition that they irrigate and reclaim it for the use of settlers.
      On September 4 about 12,000 garment workers in New York City went on strike protesting sweatshop conditions and piecework pay.
      In the fall elections of 1894 the House of Representatives had its greatest turnaround so far going from a 198-143 Democratic advantage to a 253-93 Republican majority. A total of 24 states had no Democrat in the House, and six others had only one. Republicans became governors in Wisconsin, New York, and Illinois, and they took over the state legislatures in West Virginia, Missouri, Maryland, and Delaware. In the US Senate the Democrats edge over Republicans was reduced to one seat while there were 4 Populists and one Silverite.
      On November 14 the US gold reserve was down to $61 million, and Treasury Secretary Carlisle issued a call for bids on $50 million worth of 10-year 5% bonds for ten days. This increased the US gold reserve to $111 million in early December. In the year ending on November 30 the US had exported $73.7 million dollars in gold.
      On November 22 in Washington the US and a representative from Japan signed a commercial treaty.
      In his Second Annual Message on December 3 Cleveland discussed US relations with various nations. On the condition of the Samoan Islands which were being governed by the United States, Britain, and Germany, he wrote,

The present Government has utterly failed to correct,
if indeed it has not aggravated,
the very evils it was intended to prevent.
It has not stimulated our commerce with the islands.
Our participation in its establishment
against the wishes of the natives was in plain defiance
of the conservative teachings and warnings
of the wise and patriotic men
who laid the foundations of our free institutions,
and I invite an expression of the judgment of Congress
on the propriety of steps being taken by this Government
looking to the withdrawal from its engagements
with the other powers on some reasonable terms
not prejudicial to any of our existing rights.16

The US Congress did not agree on withdrawing from the Samoan Islands, and they refused to follow his advice. Then the President reported on numerous financial issues of the government. He noted that imprisoned Apaches were being given “an opportunity to demonstrate their capacity for self-support” and that other Indians such as the “Cheyennes and Arapahoes” were making “steady and healthy progress.” He discussed agriculture and animal husbandry.
      In that message to Congress Cleveland also wrote that he would fight to maintain the gold standard. He complained that the Congress was restricting the sale of bonds with the 1875 Resumption Act. A second issue in December added $58,538,500 in gold but was good for only ten weeks. As people hoarded gold, more banks failed. By the end of 1894 the US Treasury had only $31 million in gold.
      On December 12 Carl Schurz spoke to the National Civil Service Reform League. He criticized the American spoils system that began in 1829 and which had already wasted hundreds of millions of dollars in government spending for selfish interests. Corrupt money was used in party contests and elections. He said,

It creates the boss and the machine,
putting the boss into the place of the statesman
and the despotism of the machine
in the place of an organized public opinion….
It leads to the usurpation, in a large measure,
of the executive power of appointment
by members of the legislative branch,
substituting their irresponsible views of personal
or party interest for the judgment as to the public good
and the sense of responsibility of the executive.17

On civil service reform Schurz wrote,

It means simply that, with regard to all the public offices
and employments concerned,
rules for appointment and promotion be introduced
which rigidly exclude political and personal favoritism,
and secure place and preferment only to those who
in some prescribed manner establish the superiority
of their mental and moral fitness for the work to be done.18

      Also in 1894 the Immigration Restriction League formed in Boston and began campaigning for accepting only literate immigrants.

United States & Cleveland in 1895

      On 8 January 1895 Rep. Joseph C. Sibley of Pennsylvania criticized President Cleveland in the US House of Representatives saying the people needed a government with more than “brains, belly, and brass.”
      A panic in late January withdrew $20 million in gold from the US Treasury in only nine days. On January 28 Cleveland sent a special message to Congress to approve issuing 3% long-term bonds. Three days later with the gold reserve down to $45 million Assistant Treasury Secretary William Curtis met with the financiers J. P. Morgan and August Belmont who represented England’s House of Rothschild. They arranged a bond sale of $100 million bringing gold from Europe. Bimetallists in the West favoring silver helped the House defeat an otherwise popular bill by William Springer on February 7. The next day with under $9 million in gold coins left in the New York subtreasury Cleveland made a deal with Morgan who bought 3.5 million ounces of gold with more than half coming from Europe for $65,116,244 in 30-year 4% gold bonds which were worth 104.5 which they then sold for 112.25. This increased the US gold reserve to over $107,550,000 and was to prevent gold flowing out of the US Treasury. Cleveland asked the Congress to recognize the “gold bonds” so that the US could save $16 million, but they refused to use the word “gold.”
      On January 21 the US Supreme Court in United States v. E. C. Knight Co. decided 8-1 that the American Sugar Refining Company could monopolize the manufacturing of a product in a state, and only a state government could correct that. Justice Harlan dissented arguing that the federal government is justified in acting during such an emergency. Attorney General Olney was not bothered by corporate power. Cleveland disagreed with him but allowed his cabinet officers some autonomy.
      On February 20 the syndicate sold the bonds at 112.25, and those subscribing raised the price on the open market to 119. The next day the New York World accused the Morgan syndicate of making a profit of more than $5 million on the deal. Morgan declined to tell a US Congress committee how much he made, but evidence indicated it could have been $7 million. The Farmers’ Alliance claimed that the people had been defrauded of over $8 million that left them with a $62 million debt.
      Also on February 20 the former slave and long-time abolitionist and advocate of equal rights Frederick Douglass died after attending a meeting on women’s suffrage.
      The new US sugar tariff had devastated the Cuban economy, and another insurrection broke out there against Spanish rule in February. On March 8 a Spanish gunboat fired on the USS Alliance six miles from Cuba. Alabama’s Senator John T. Morgan urged sending warships to Havana, and he advocated making Cuba “an American colony.” Pulitzer’s New York World and William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal competed for readers by reporting Spanish atrocities against the Cuban rebels; but most newspapers and journals opposed war, and many business leaders agreed with Cleveland’s neutrality. On June 12 President Cleveland declared United States’ neutrality. He asked citizens not to aid the insurgents, and he promised that violators would be prosecuted. His administration persuaded the Spanish government to release captured Americans even though they complained that most of the money and ammunition for the rebels were coming from the United States. In December the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee approved a resolution recognizing Cuban independence which could lead to war against Spain; but Cleveland ignored it because he was strongly opposed to war.
      On May 27 the US Supreme Court reinforced the Geary Act that excluded the return of Chinese immigrants by denying them the right of habeas corpus.
      The US Assistant Attorney General Edward B. Whitney argued the case for the Federal income tax which the US Supreme Court declared unconstitutional, and then he wrote “Political Dangers of the Income-Tax Decision” for the August issue of Forum. He maintained that the US Congress should be the judge of the need for any tax at all. He concluded,

Any tax levied may properly be called a war tax so long as
the Treasury is struggling with an immense annual deficit,
where, but for pensions to veterans of the Civil War,
we should have an annual surplus of double the amount.19

      US Supreme Court Justice Howell Jackson died on August 8. Cleveland nominated Rufus W. Peckham again, and this time he asked New York’s Senator David B. Hill to help get him confirmed which he did.
      Free-coinage Democrats met at Washington in August preparing for the convention in 1896. William Jennings Bryan, who left the House and lost a Senate race in 1894, was on a lecture tour in the West and the South. That summer J. P. Morgan with another bond issue increased the US Treasury’s supply of gold. On September 14 the gold reserve was below the legal limit at $96.3 million. Those following Cleveland’s gold policy were called “gold bugs,” and those for silver were named “silverites.” President Cleveland, Vice President Stevenson, and six cabinet officers attended the Cotton States International Exposition at Atlanta in late October. Cleveland spoke to 50,000 people on the currency crisis, hoping to retain southern Democrats in the next election. He warned the silverites in his party that Republicans advocating sound money could defeat the Democrats again, and with the presidency they would dominate the government.
      The Tuskegee Institute founder Booker T. Washington sent a copy of his speech at the Cotton States and International Exposition at Atlanta on September 18 to President Cleveland who wrote back,

Your words cannot fail to delight and encourage
all who wish well for your race;
and if our coloured fellow-citizens do not
from your utterances gather new hope
and form new determinations to gain
every valuable advantage offered them by their citizenship,
it will be strange indeed.20

      The Venezuelan government in August 1894 had hired William L. Scruggs, who was President Harrison’s former minister to that nation, as a legal advisor and diplomat in Washington. He published British Aggressions in Venezuela, or the Monroe Doctrine on Trial in October and sent copies to newspaper editors and politicians, and it had four editions by December. The Cleveland administration began conveying to the British their desire to help mediate the dispute over Venezuela’s border with Britain on January 23. They influenced congressmen to consider a resolution advising Britain and Venezuela to accept arbitration. Both houses passed it unanimously, and Cleveland signed it on February 20. He asked Secretary of State Gresham to prepare a policy paper on Venezuela, but he died on May 28.
      The Attorney General Olney became the new Secretary of State on June 10, and the former Cincinnati judge and lawyer, Judson Harmon, became Attorney General. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts wrote in the June North American Review, “The supremacy of the Monroe Doctrine should be established and at once—peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must.”21 Influenced by Lodge’s article Olney wrote very aggressive messages to Britain in regard to the Venezuela dispute, asserting that the US was in a position to be “master of the situation.” In a few weeks he completed an aggressive draft of a memorandum for Ambassador Bayard and showed it to Cleveland. Olney wrote that the US should maintain its dominance in the western hemisphere and must not allow European powers to take over Latin American nations. Cleveland toned down Olney’s letter, which he called a “20-inch gun,” to one offering impartial arbitration in the boundary quarrel, and he sent it to London on July 20.
      Not until December 7 did the British Prime Minister Salisbury through his envoy Julian Pauncefote inform Olney that he denied that a European power must submit such conflicts to arbitration. He also stated that the Monroe Doctrine had no validity under international law and that it did not apply to the Venezuelan border dispute. In a special message to Congress on the 17th the President discussed the issues between Great Britain and the Republic of Venezuela, and concluded by asking Congress to fund a commission that he would appoint. He asserted that the United States must resist any appropriation by Britain of Venezuelan land, and he ended by saying,

There is no calamity which a great nation can invite
which equals that which follows
a supine submission to wrong and injustice
and the consequent loss of national self-respect and honor,
beneath which are shielded
and defended a people’s safety and greatness.22

The House of Representatives unanimously approved the commission and $100,000 for expenses. Enthusiasm for intervention spread; but as people realized that the coast of Venezuela was defenseless against Britain’s powerful navy, the war fever calmed down.

      On October 8 the Ohio Valley Improvement Association at Cincinnati began work to make the Ohio River navigable for commerce. The US Army Corps of Engineers would build 49 locks and movable dams on 980 miles between Pittsburgh and Cairo, Illinois.
      On November 5 Utah’s new constitution for statehood granted women the right to vote, and Utah was admitted as a state on 4 January 1896.
      Cleveland in his long annual message to Congress on December 2 discussed several foreign policy issues including the successful US arbitration of a border dispute between Argentina and Brazil, US claims against Chile, the developing war between the Chinese empire and Japan which the US was helping to prevent, defending a US diplomat in Madagascar during France’s takeover, trade relations with Germany, resolution of Bering Straits’ issues with Britain, Hawaii’s situation, relations with Mexico and Nicaragua, concerns regarding Russia, a naval incident with Spain near Cuba, Turkey’s massacre of Christians in Armenia, and then how to solve the boundary dispute between Venezuela and Britain.
      The President reviewed extensively the financial issues regarding gold and silver, concluding, “Even the continued agitation of the subject adds greatly to the difficulties of a dangerous financial situation already forced upon us.”23 Judson Harmon had become Attorney General and was requesting remedial legislation in regard to trusts that the railroad lawyer Olney had ignored. Near the end of his message Cleveland wrote this about the effect of trusts:

Their tendency is to crush out individual independence
and to hinder or prevent the free use of human faculties
and the full development of human character.
Through them the farmer, the artisan,
and the small trader is in danger of dislodgment
from the proud position of being his own master,
watchful of all that touches his country’s prosperity,
in which he has an individual lot,
and interested in all that affects
the advantages of business of which he is a factor,
to be relegated to the level of a mere appurtenance
to a great machine, with little free will,
with no duty but that of passive obedience,
and with little hope or opportunity of rising
in the scale of responsible and helpful citizenship.24

In response the Congress approved $100,000 for the boundary commission despite Britain’s refusal to recognize that. Some people supported Cleveland’s policy that was influenced by Olney’s aggressiveness, but others opposed threatening war. Pulitzer in his New York World and Godkin in the Evening Post called the President’s message a mistake while the Springfield Republican wrote that armed intervention by the United States was unacceptable. On 2 January 1896 Carl Schurz in a speech to New York state’s Chamber of Commerce commended the commission, but he advised that the British would not accept arbitration under a threat of war. Some suspected that Cleveland wanted to run for a third term. In July he rejected any suggestion of sending a man-of-war to Havana because he did not want to provide any excuse for trouble with Spain.
      On December 20 Cleveland notified the US Congress that the US gold reserve was barely $79 million, and he asked them for aid in protecting the peoples’ interests and to prevent impairing the public credit.

Cleveland & United States Elections in 1896

            On 6 January 1896 President Cleveland and Treasury Secretary Carlisle announced the fourth bond issue of $100 million for gold. Bids were submitted, and on February 5 the Treasury unsealed them to find 4,640 offers totaling $568,269,000 mostly between 110 and 112. They decided that bonds worth $66.8 million went to 780 bidders who had subscribed rates over 110.6877. Morgan got $33,179,250. The Federal gold reserve had fallen to $44.5 million, and the sale raised it to a record high at $128,713,000.
      The US Congress on January 1 had approved $100,000 for a 3-man commission on the boundary dispute between Venezuela and Britain. On January 13 the US ambassador Bayard wired Cleveland that both British political parties wanted the Venezuela dispute “promptly settled by friendly co-operation.” The US Boundary Commission was inclining against British claims, and on November 12 the Brits signed a treaty with Venezuela agreeing to arbitration. Former US President Benjamin Harrison was a lawyer for Venezuela, and the final decision of the Tribunal of Arbitration in favor of the British was not announced until 3 October 1899.
      The ratio of silver to gold had doubled to 32 to 1, and Treasury Secretary Carlisle warned that that would cut the value of the dollar in half. The US Senate passed a free coinage bill 48-41 on February 1 with Democrats providing half the votes for silver. The House of Representatives defeated the bill while Democrats were voting 58-31 for passage. This issue was making Cleveland very unpopular in his own party. He spoke near the end of March at Carnegie Hall in New York at a rally in support of the Presbyterian home missions. He accused selfish interests of making the silver-mining states corrupted for their “lawlessness, the dram-shops and gambling dens.” Westerners naturally reacted negatively against that, and they wanted to get control of the presidency. Cleveland released a statement to the New York Herald Tribune in which he warned against a monetary disaster, and he predicted that the Democratic Party adopting the soft-money policy would give the Republicans the advantage in the future. After his term the Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the Presidency until 1910.
      Silver Democrats wanted their convention to be in St. Louis while those favoring the gold standard were for New York. They compromised by deciding to meet in Chicago. Cleveland sent the New York financier William Whitney, his top fiscal advisor, to Chicago to organize the strategy for the gold advocates, and he was assisted by the former Governor of Massachusetts, William E. Russell. Cleveland went to his summer home on Cape Cod.
      On February 20 the young Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts gave a speech urging the United States to recognize and support the Cubans rebelling against Spanish rule. He suggested they offer “good offices to mediate between Spain and the Cubans in order to restore peace and give independence to the island which Spain can no longer hold.”25 He noted that the insurgents were holding more land than the Spanish armies. He argued, “Free Cuba would mean a great market to the United States; it would mean an opportunity for American capital.”26 He believed the American people would welcome bringing the Cuban war to an end to establish liberty and independence.
      On March 16 the US Supreme Court determined what would be the border between the state of Texas and the Oklahoma Territory.
      Senator Lodge made a speech on March 16 advocating a literacy requirement for new immigrants in order to reduce the number Italians, Russians, Poles, Hungarians, Greeks, and Asiatics while allowing in more English speakers, Germans, Scandinavians, and French. He warned that illiterate immigrants would take unskilled jobs for lower pay and compete with Americans because they are “alien or lower races of less social efficiency and less moral force.”27
      On April 4 Cleveland had Secretary of State Olney send a diplomatic message to Spain offering US mediation for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Cuba.
      On May 18 the US Supreme Court in Plessy v. Ferguson decided 7-1 that, even though Plessy was only one-eighth African, racial segregation was allowed if the separate facilities for blacks were equal to those for white citizens. Justice Henry B. Brown for the majority argued that political equality does not have to extend to color distinctions and social issues, and he noted that state legislatures had established “separate schools for white and colored children” which state courts had upheld. Justice Harlan in dissent referred to the equal rights implied in the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, and he argued that whites and blacks have the right to occupy the same public conveyance. He also noted that the Louisiana law implied that whites are superior. He wrote,

In the view of the Constitution,
in the eye of the law, there is in this country
no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens.
There is no caste here.
Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows
nor tolerates classes among citizens.
In respect of civil rights,
all citizens are equal before the law.28

He warned,

The present decision, it may well be apprehended,
will not only stimulate aggressions,
more or less brutal and irritating,
upon the admitted rights of colored citizens,
but will encourage the belief that it is possible,
by means of state enactments,
to defeat the beneficent purposes which the people
of the United States had in view when they adopted
the recent amendments of the Constitution.29

      On May 29 the Prohibition Party nominated for President the Baptist preacher Joshua Levering and the lawyer Hale Johnson of Illinois for Vice President. The Socialist Labor Party on July 4 nominated the organizer Charles H. Matchett of New York for President.
      The Republican national convention met at St. Louis June 16-18, and they nominated Ohio’s Gov. William McKinley overwhelmingly on the first ballot. Their platform advocated the gold standard, and McKinley’s manager Mark Hanna persuaded delegates to nominate Garret A. Hobart of New Jersey for Vice President rather than have another Gold Bug on the ticket.
      The Democratic convention met July 7-11, and the silver faction gained the two-thirds needed because they controlled the credentials committee 27 to 16 and added delegates from the West while disqualifying some of those from the East who were for gold. Their platform criticized Cleveland’s policies on gold bond trafficking with banking syndicates, injunctions against the Pullman strike, and sending in federal troops. Senator Hill of New York led the debate for the gold faction; but he disliked Cleveland and was happy when the convention rejected a resolution commending Cleveland’s policies 357-564. On July 9 the last speech was by the 36-year-old William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska, a former two-term Congressman. He aroused most of the 20,000 delegates by talking about the common people—the businessmen, wage earners, farmers, miners, rural lawyers, and local merchants. He said they needed an Andrew Jackson who would stand up against organized wealth. His speech reached a climax when he said,

If they dare to come out in the open field
and defend the gold standard as a good thing,
we shall fight them to the uttermost, having behind us
the producing masses of the nation and the world.
Having behind us the commercial interests
and the laboring interests and all the toiling masses,
we shall answer their demands 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.30

For five seconds he stood there with his arms out as if crucified in silence. Then he lowered his arms and walked toward his seat as the thunderous applause began. The cheering and demonstration lasted 35 minutes, and the platform was approved 628-301. That evening nominations went on until nearly 1 a.m.
      Voting began the next morning at 10. On the first ballot Richard P. Bland of Missouri had nearly twice as many votes as Bryan; but with each ballot Bryan gained more votes until he took the lead on the fourth ballot and then won overwhelming on the fifth. A similar voting pattern for Vice President nominated Arthur Sewall, a ship-builder from Maine who also advocated free silver.
      The Populists’ convention nominated Bryan, but they chose Thomas E. Watson of Georgia instead of Sewall for VP. Bryan also gained the presidential nomination of several minor parties—Single Taxers who followed Henry George, Nationalists who were influenced by Edward Bellamy, and Christian Socialists who were led by Rev. W. D. P. Bliss. In the South the Louisville Courier-Journal, the New Orleans Picayune, the Charleston News and Courier, and the Richmond Times each opposed Bryan.
      The former governor William E. Russell of Massachusetts died of heart failure suddenly on July 16 at the age of 39, and Cleveland went to his funeral in Boston on the 20th. About 900 gold Democrats met in Indianapolis on August 7, and they scheduled their convention for September 2. They nominated the 79-year-old Union General John Palmer of Illinois for President and the Confederate General and former governor of Kentucky, Simon Bolivar Buckner, who was 73, for vice president. They would get only 135,000 votes, and many more Democrats voted for McKinley.
      Bryan began his campaign with his prepared acceptance speech on a hot August 12 at Madison Square Garden in New York where 12,000 filled the arena with 15,000 gathered outside. Bryan was popular as an extemporaneous speaker; but as he read this speech for 100 minutes, half the audience walked out. Printed copies of his speech were distributed through the press, but his message did not resonate in the East.
      On August 16 gold was discovered in a creek by the Klondike River 14 miles from Dawson City in the Yukon Territory of Canada. About a hundred thousand prospectors traveled north, and the gold mined helped the US economy recover.
      Mark Hanna led the Republican National Committee and raised money to pay off a $100,000 note that McKinley had signed for a friend. Hanna distributed information to newspapers and magazines on his candidate’s accomplishments and virtues. His committee raised $3.5 million compared to $1.5 million Republicans got in 1892. All together the Republican national and local committees spent about $16 million. Hanna asked banks for 0.25% of their capital, and Standard Oil contributed over $250,000. McKinley followed the tradition of not traveling to campaign, and from his front porch in Ohio he made speeches to visitors that journalists distributed.
      Interior Secretary Hoke Smith of Georgia informed Cleveland that he was for Bryan because he was worried the Republicans might restore reconstruction in the South. Cleveland accepted his resignation for September 1 but later invited him to the cabinet’s last annual dinner at the White House. The former Governor of Missouri, David R. Francis, replaced Smith on September 3. Cleveland did not campaign, though he made a political speech at Princeton College in October.
      On October 1 the US Postal Office Department began its Rural Free Delivery (RFD) service to reach isolated people and aid the business of mail-order companies such as Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward.
      South Carolina allowed only whites to vote in the Democratic primary.
      In the election on November 3 McKinley won the popular vote by 3.4% and the electoral college 271-176 winning all the northern states east of the Mississippi plus Kentucky, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, California and Oregon while Bryan took all the southern states and the rest of the western states. In the US Senate Republicans gained 4 seats while the Democrats lost 7. With 2 Silver Republicans they outnumbered Democrats 48-32. The Populists gained one seat giving them 5. In the House of Representatives the Republicans lost 48 seats as the Democrats gained 31; but the Republicans still had a 206-124 advantage. Populists won 13 more seats giving them 22, and the Silver Republican Party got 3 seats.
      Cleveland in his last message to Congress on December 7 discussed the desire of some to intervene in the Cuban rebellion against Spain, and then he gave his own view,

These inevitable entanglements of the United States
with the rebellion in Cuba,
the large American property interests affected,
and considerations of philanthropy and humanity in general
have led to a vehement demand in various quarters
for some sort of positive intervention
on the part of the United States….
   The United States has, nevertheless,
a character to maintain as a nation, which plainly dictates
that right and not might should be the rule of its conduct.
Further, though the United States is not a nation
to which peace is a necessity, it is in truth
the most pacific of powers and desires nothing so much as
to live in amity with all the world.
Its own ample and diversified domains
satisfy all possible longings for territory,
preclude all dreams of conquest,
and prevent any casting of covetous eyes
upon neighboring regions, however attractive.31

      When Cleveland left the presidency in 1897, he had over $300,000.


1. Grover Cleveland: A Study in Character by Alyn Brodsky, p. 250.
2. Indiana State Sentinel, Indianapolis, Marion County, 18 December 1889.
3.Grover Cleveland by Alyn Brodsky, p. 262.
4. Ibid., p. 264.
5. Ibid., p. 271.
6. Messages and Papers of the Presidents 1789-1908 ed. James D. Richardson, Volume 9, p. 391.
7. Grover Cleveland by Alyn Brodsky, p. 5-6.
8. Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Volume 9, p. 461.
9. Grover Cleveland: A Study in Courage by Allan Nevins, p. 561.
10. Grover Cleveland: A Study in Courage by Allan Nevins, p. 532.
11. Ibid., p. 540.
12. Ibid., p. 545.
13. Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Volume 9, p. 441.
14. Grover Cleveland by Henry F. Graff, p. 119.
15. The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass by Philip S. Foner, Volume 4, p. 504.
16. Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Volume 9, p. 532.
17. The Annals of America, Volume 11, p. 495.
18. Ibid., p. 497.
19. The Annals of America, Volume 12, p. 74.
20. Up from Slavery: An Autobiography by Booker T. Washington, p. 119.
21. American Review, CLX (June 1895), 658 in A History of American Foreign Policy by Alexander DeConde, p. 332.
22. Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Volume 9, p. 658.
23. Ibid., p. 655.
24. Ibid., p. 744-745.
25. The Annals of America, Volume 12, p. 85.
26. Ibid., p. 86.
27. Ibid., p. 91.
28. Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896).
29. The Annals of America, Vol. 12, p. 98.
30. Speeches of William Jennings Bryan, Volume 1, p. 249.
31. Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Volume 9, p. 719.

Copyright © 2022 by Sanderson Beck

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US Women Reformers 1869-97
American Philosophy & Religion 1869-97
American Education 1869-97
American Literature 1869-97
US Summary & Evaluation 1869-1897
United States & Capitalism 1869-1897 Bibliography
United States & McKinley’s War 1897-1901
US & Theodore Roosevelt 1901-09
United States & Taft 1909-13
Evaluating US Presidents Summary & Evaluation 1865-1913
Evaluating US Presidents 1865-1913 Bibliography

World Chronology
Chronology of United States 1845-1896

BECK index