America's Silver Era, The Story of William Jennings Bryan

Chapter I, A Cross of Gold
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    My friends, we declare that this nation is able to legislate for its own people on every question, without waiting for the aid or consent of any other nation on earth; and upon that issue we expect to carry every State in the Union. I shall not slander the inhabitants of the fair State of Massachusetts nor the inhabitants of the State of New York by saying that, when they are confronted with the proposition, they will declare that this nation is not able to attend to its own business. It is the issue of 1776 over again. Our ancestors, when but three millions in number, had the courage to declare their political independence of every other nation; shall we, their descendants, when we have grown to seventy millions, declare that we are less independent than our forefathers? No, my friends, that will never be the verdict of our people. Therefore, we care not upon what lines the battle is fought. If they say bimetallism is good, but that we cannot have it until other nations help us, we reply that, instead of having a gold standard because England has, we will restore bimetallism, and then let England have bimetallism because the United States has it. If they dare to come out in the open field and defend the gold standard as a good thing, we will fight them to the uttermost. 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.

    -William Jennings Bryan, in his speech to the Democratic Convention, July 9th, 1896.


    (Republican cartoon criticizing Bryan's speech)

    The Presidential Election of 1896 was, without a doubt, the greatest upset of American electoral history. William Jennings Bryan had a massive funding disadvantage and ran as the incumbent Democratic president presided over a poor economy. To make matters worse, Conservative Bourbon Democrats who supported the Gold Standard formed a third party ticket, dividing William McKinley’s opposition. On paper, the election should have been the biggest landslide since the Era of Good Feelings. And with any other Democrat, it likely would have been. However, two factors contributed to Bryan’s upset victory. One was Bryan’s great oratory skills and his decision to actively campaign for himself. In order to assuage fears that Bryan was a radical, he denounced radical elements within the labor movement in speeches in New York and Chicago. While this tactic certainly made him competitive despite all the disadvantages he had against McKinley, it was not what ultimately gave him victory. Many historians now believe that Bryan won the election because of a critical error made by the McKinley campaign. William McKinley decided to make an appeal to Democrats alienated by Bryan’s populist rhetoric. He believed that an army of Bourbon Democrats, including many Southerners, would carry him safely to victory on Election Day. In doing this, the tariff issue was greatly downplayed for fear that protectionism would scare away potentially sympathetic voters. This proved to be a great miscalculation as his support for protectionism was well-known and he didn’t use it to his advantage as much as he could. McKinley’s inability to effectively counter Bryan’s appeal to the working class led to the Republican Party’s defeat in November.

    The election was very close, and that must have added to the pain felt by McKinley and his supporters. McKinley also lost his home state of Ohio by less than 2,000 votes. Had he won Ohio, he would have won the election. In addition, the McKinley/Hobart ticket actually won more votes than the Bryan/Sewall ticket. It is one of history’s great ironies that “The Great Commoner” won the election without winning the popular vote. This showed that not everyone in the working class supported Bryan and the cause of free silver. Many industrial laborers voted Republican as they feared that his monetary policies would only benefit the farmer. Indeed, the election of 1896 was not simply labor against business, rich against poor. While business generally fell behind McKinley, they by no means were a monolith. Bryan’s running mate, Arthur Sewall, was a shipping magnate, and the silver mine owners were more than happy to see an enemy of the Gold Standard in the Executive Mansion[1]. Nonetheless, Bryan entered office determined to enact policies that benefited the farmer and the laborer rather than the businessman.

    -Excerpt from Silver vs. Gold, the Election of 1896, Sumner Sewall[2], Howard Publishing Co., 1946.


    William Jennings Bryan (D-NE)/Arthur Sewall (D-ME): 6,735,052 votes (48.3%)/244 Electoral Votes
    William McKinley (R-OH)/Garret Hobart (R-NJ): 6,885,607 votes (49.4%)/203 Electoral Votes

    Others[3]: 320,465 votes (2.3%)/0 Electoral Votes

    Bryan’s inauguration was compared to that of Andrew Jackson in 1828. Hordes of rural Westerners flooded into DC to hear their young energetic champion speak. The Eastern elites were horrified just as they were then. His speech was full of the same passion and oratory eloquence that his supporters were used to. He praised America’s system of government and the opportunities it gave for peaceful transition of power. He called for national unity; between Republicans and Democrats, between North and South, and between East and West. He stated that America was entering a new era, an era in which the farmer and the worker would fully enjoy the privileges of living in the American Republic. His supporters loved every word; they had high hopes for the man from Nebraska. Meanwhile, those who voted against him feared that he would destroy the country. Many urban workers feared that they would lose their jobs if Bryan won. While these prophecies of doom never came true, neither did the hopes of many that Bryan’s Presidency would bring great prosperity to all. For most Americans, 1897 was no different than 1896, life went on.

    Bryan began his presidency with a Democratic House and a Republican Senate. However, this does not tell the whole story, as there were Conservative Bourbon Democrats and pro-Silver Republicans. Some politicians, sensing the winds of change, opportunistically switched from supporting gold to supporting silver. Bryan’s cabinet appointments were dominated by Southerners and Westerners, the regions that supported him. He also appointed two Republicans to his cabinet. America, for better or worse, had entered a new age. It was an age that continued beyond Bryan’s Presidency. It wasn’t a golden age by any definition, but it had some moments of greatness. Rather, in consideration of William Jennings Bryan’s favorite metal, these years should be referred to as America’s Silver Age.

    -Excerpt from America's Silver Age, Edward S. Scott, Patriot Publishers, 2017.

    On March 4, 1897 William Jennings Bryan, Mary Baird Bryan (the new First Lady), and their three children; Ruth, William Jr, and Grace moved into the Executive Mansion, their new residence. Vice President Arthur Sewell was a common guest of the Bryans. Sewell was somewhat an oddity in politics. He was a New England businessman who was not only a Democrat, but also a supporter of silver. His presence was very useful during Bryan’s early presidency. Sewell met with business leaders to reassure them that Bryan was not anti-business, that he only opposed bad businesses and bad business leaders. This had mixed results. The titans of industry still largely opposed Bryan, but some businessmen, like oil baron Thomas L. Hisgen, would support the President.

    Other guests of the Bryan’s included the members of his cabinet. For Secretary of State Bryan chose Senator Henry Moore Teller of Colorado. Henry Teller was a prominent Silver Republican who supported Bryan’s campaign. He was also Secretary of the Interior under President Chester Arthur. Teller, like Bryan, was an opponent of American Imperialism. Teller also was a proponent of Native American rights. For Secretary of the Treasury Bryan chose Alexander del Mar, a member of the Silver Party from New York. Del Mar was an outspoken opponent of the Gold Standard. Bryan’s most controversial cabinet nomination was undoubtedly John Tyler Morgan of Alabama for Secretary of War. Bryan wanted to bring a former Confederate into his cabinet to promote national unity. Senator Morgan had been among the Democrats who opposed Grover Cleveland and the Gold Standard. He was also an extreme racist and a former slave owner. He was happy to be appointed to Bryan’s cabinet and hoped to steer him away from his pacifist leanings. John T. Morgan and Henry Teller would often clash during the Bryan administration.

    US Representative Benton McMillan of Tennessee was chosen as Attorney General. He was known for supporting progressive causes such as the income tax and child labor laws. Populist Alabama Representative Milford W. Howard[4], who gained fame challenging corruption in Congress and was even younger than the President, was chosen as Postmaster General. For Secretary of the Navy, William C. Whitney of Massachusetts, who was given that position during Cleveland’s first term, was chosen. Bryan chose Idaho Republican Senator Fred Dubois as his Secretary of the Interior. Dubois was a supporter of Silver, environmental conservation, and an anti-Mormon. Finally, for Secretary of Agriculture, Bryan chose Representative Joseph C. Sibley of Pennsylvania, who was a farmer and opponent of the Gold Standard.

    -Excerpt from The Guide to the Executive Mansion, an in Depth Look at America's Presidents by Benjamin Buckley, Harvard Press, 1999.

    1: What the White House was called before Theodore Roosevelt gave it that name.
    2: Sumner Sewall was the Grandson of Arthur Sewall and governor of Maine during the 1940s IOTL.
    3: Gold Democrats, Prohibition, Socialist Labor, and National Prohibition Parties.
    4: In my original Bryan TL, Howard served as Vice President for most of Bryan's Presidency. This man would later go on to support Fascism, something I did not know at the time. Howard Publishers ITTL is named after him.
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    Bryan's Cabinet
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    (President William Jennings Bryan and Vice President Arthur Sewall)


    (Left to Right, Top to Bottom):
    Secretary of State: Henry M. Teller (R-CO)

    Secretary of the Treasury: Alexander del Mar (S-NY)

    Secretary of War: John T. Morgan (D-AL)

    Attorney General: Benton McMillin (D-TN)

    Postmaster General: Milford W. Howard (P-AL)

    Secretary of the Navy: William C. Whitney (D-MA)

    Secretary of the Interior: Fred Dubois (R-ID)

    Secretary of Agriculture: Joseph C. Sibley (D-PA)
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    Chapter II, Settling In
  • The Twenty-fifth President of the United States of America was quite unlike the previous twenty-four. He was the youngest, his home state was the furthest west of any President up to that point, and the platform that got him into the Executive Mansion was unlike any other. There would also be no alcohol in the Executive Mansion during the Bryan administration, which set him apart from most Presidents but not all. Young was a polite way to describe the new President, who entered the office shortly before his 37th birthday. His opponents used the word "inexperienced" to describe him. And indeed, he was not completely prepared for his new job. The Great Commoner had to grow into the Presidency, learning as he went along. Fortunately he was surrounded by men more experienced than he in the art of statecraft. Bryan believed that he could use his oratory skills and force of personality to bend congress to his will. He would soon figure out that this was not to be and that change would have to come gradually.

    -Excerpt from America's Silver Age, Edward S. Scott, Patriot Publishers, 2017.


    (Bryan in his thirties)

    The battles in Congress were just beginning. Democrats made massive gains in the 1896 House elections, coupled with a few Republican defections, the Democrats had 180 Representatives, Conservative Democrats still held considerable sway in the party, though their influence was certainly weakened. And they were able to maneuver their man, Joseph Weldon Bailey of Texas into the position of Speaker of the House. Bailey and Bryan disagreed on almost every issue, with tariffs being an exception. He blocked several progressive bills, infuriating many of the newly elected members of his party. Bailey would hold his position for only a few months before the overwhelming pressure forced him to resign, stating that he was unable to lead his party at this time. While there was disagreement over who should replace Bailey as Speaker of the House, eventually Tom L. Johnson of Ohio was selected. Johnson was a committed progressive and opponent of monopolies, he would get along well with the President. With Johnson as speaker, laws protecting the right to join a union were passed along with anti-trust legislation. However, the Senate defeated the income tax.


    (Left: Joseph W. Bailey, Right: Tom L. Johnson)

    Of course, while those issues were important, what everyone anticipated was the battle over the repeal of the Coinage Act of 1873, called the "Crime of '73" by silver supporters. This law effectively put the US on the Gold Standard. Bryan had campaigned for Free Silver and his Presidency would be a failure if it didn't pass. The debate was lengthy in the House, but the repeal was passed in that chamber 183-174 on July 15, 1897. Then the Senate debated the bill. President Bryan personally spoke to the Senate, as did Secretary of the Treasury Alexander del Mar. While the Senate had a Republican majority, several of these Republicans were pro-Silver. Short attempts at filibuster were made by supporters of the Gold Standard. After over a week of consideration, The Senate was deadlocked 45-45 on the repeal. Vice President Arthur Sewall broke the tie and on July 25, 1897, the so called "Crime of '73" was gone. When news spread to the Western States, there was great celebration. Some say that the revelries rivaled that of the Union victory in 1865. Gold Standard supporters were disheartened, but were convinced that they would regain power once Free silver ushered in an age of financial ruin. The Republicans were planning a comeback.

    Postmaster General Milford Howard was interested in a lot more than letters and mail. In fact, very few people today would even associate him with such. Howard believed in the power of the motion picture to influence public opinion, even when the technology was in its infancy. He invited people to the Executive Mansion to film the President (and himself). Shortly after the Repeal of the Coinage Act of 1873, William Jennings Bryan invited James Naismith to meet the President and his cabinet at a gymnasium in Washington DC. Bryan was curious about the new game of Basketball that Naismith had invented. Naismith explained the game to the President and did a demonstration with the players he brought with him. Mr. Howard had cameramen ready to record parts of the meeting. Then, the ball was handed to the President. William Jennings Bryan decided to walk halfway down the court, and proceeded to shoot the ball into the hoop on his first try. At least that was the official story, it may have been on his hundredth attempt that he finally pulled it off. Some experts even claim the film was edited. Nonetheless, copies of the short grainy film were distributed across the country, and it endeared Bryan to much of the public. It is uncertain whether Basketball would ever have attained the popularity it has today if it were not for Bryan.

    -Excerpt from The Guide to the Executive Mansion, an in Depth Look at America's Presidents by Benjamin Buckley, Harvard Press, 1999.


    (James Naismith)

    Bryan's success on the Basketball court, even if exaggerated, came along with his recent domestic policy successes. While domestic events dominated the Spring, Summer, and Fall, the Winter of 1897 and 1898 would be dominated by foreign events. His response to these events would have a great impact on the nation's future.
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    Chapter III, Just War
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    During the election of 1896, proponents of American Imperialism opposed William Jennings Bryan. When he became President they lamented that America’s great opportunity to establish itself as a great power had been squandered by an idealistic pacifist. This was an inaccurate portrayal of the situation. The truth is that Bryan, while anti-Imperialist, was no pacifist. America would first learn this in December of 1897. There was increasing pressure on the President and Congress to declare war on Spain and liberate Cuba. “Yellow journalists” such as Bryan supporter William Randolph Hearst agitated for war. Within Bryan’s own cabinet there was also pressure. Secretary of War John T. Morgan is credited for convincing the President that war with Spain was necessary in the fall of 1897. The cruelties of Governor of Cuba Valeriano Weyler, who Spanish Prime Minister Cánovas[1], who had recently survived an assassination attempt, saw fit to keep in power, horrified Bryan, who called upon Congress for a Declaration of War. After some debate, Congress agreed and on December 10, 1897, America was at war with Spain. Bryan proclaimed that America was fighting not to conquer but to liberate. The war of liberation would be called the Cuban War.

    -Excerpt from America's Silver Age, Edward S. Scott, Patriot Publishers, 2017.


    (Left: Spanish Prime Minister Antonio Cánovas del Castillo, Right: Spanish Governor of Cuba, Valeriano Weyler)

    The first actions of the War were on the sea, and all were in the US’ favor. On December 22, 1897, the USS Maine and the USS Texas, along with some smaller ships sunk the Spanish Cruiser Cristóbal Colón, along with gunboats Sandoval, Antonio Lopez, and Alvarado, as well as a few torpedo boats at the port of Cienfuegos. This was followed by American victories at Havana and Guantanamo Bay. In January, the invasion of Cuba began. On January 20, 1898, American forces landed at Guantanamo Bay, outnumbering the Spanish defenders nearby 2 to 1. In addition, thousands of Cuban rebels assisted US troops in battle. While the Spanish forces fought bravely they were defeated and they surrendered Guantanamo Bay on January 22. Santiago de Cuba fell a few days later. On February 4, 1898, the USS Maine bombarded Manzanillo as Americans and Cuban rebels made short work of the Spanish garrison. The battle featured a cavalry charge led by Theodore Roosevelt and Leonard Wood. By the end of February, American soldiers and Cuban Rebel fighters controlled much of the Western edge of Cuba.


    (Top: USS Maine, Bottom: Spanish Cruiser Cristóbal Colón)

    Spain made a final attempt to break American naval power, hoping to cut off US troops on the Island. This failed and Americans continued to advance in Cuba. In the Pacific, which had been a sideshow, the Spanish Navy was losing and the military was unsure if it could hold on to the Philippines as American ships approached Manilla. Meanwhile, a small force of American marines landed west of Havana on March 1. After Spanish forces failed to push them back, Spain called for a ceasefire. Cánovas, urged by Regent Maria Christina (whose son, King Alfonso XIII was only 11 at the time). wanted to end the war before things turned even worse for Spain. He was committed to his colonial empire and wanted to keep as much of it as possible. America accepted the ceasefire and soon the two sides were at the negotiating table in Paris. The US sent a delegation led by Secretary of State Henry Teller, who Bryan most trusted to represent the United States in Paris. The Spanish Prime Minister ordered the Spanish delegation to not accept an American annexation of the Philippines or Puerto Rico. Cánovas was an Imperialist hardliner, who earlier had stated that “the Spanish nation is disposed to sacrifice to the last peseta of its treasure and to the last drop of blood of the last Spaniard before consenting that anyone snatch from it even one piece of its territory.” By the summer of 1898, his policy had changed to one of abandoning Cuba to save the rest of the empire. To the Spanish delegation’s surprise, Teller didn’t ask for either. Cuban Independence was the main goal of the US delegation. The other demands were tolerable to Spain. The provisions of the 1898 Treaty of Paris were:

    -Spain must relinquish control of Cuba, which is now to be an independent nation.

    -Spain must pay 5 million Pesetas in reparations to Cuba.

    -Spain must respect the rights of those living in its colonies and provide a form of self-government for the Philippines and Puerto Rico.


    (Regent of Spain, Maria Christina)

    Spain agreed to the demands made at Paris, with the intention of never fully enforcing the third provision of the treaty. Spain had been humiliated, but it could have been much worse. Many in the Spanish government were just happy to keep part of their empire and pivoted their focus from the Caribbean (Puerto Rico was much more loyal than Cuba and unlikely to rebel) to the Pacific. In America the public was thrilled, and after the divisive first year of Bryan’s Presidency, everyone was united in celebration. The war helped Bryan win the confidence of those who thought he was weak on foreign policy. Cuban War veteran Theodore Roosevelt would later claim that the war caused him to finally respect the President. Others were displeased, some because they opposed the war in the first place, but others because they thought Bryan didn’t do enough. Among these were journalists such as Joseph Pulitzer and politicians such as William McKinley. They criticized Bryan for leaving the Philippines and Puerto Rico in Spanish hands when. As Massachusetts Senator Henry Lodge would say, “he [Bryan] had a knife held to Spain’s throat, and then he just walked away. All that America gained was one naval base.”

    The war also caused disagreements within the President’s cabinet. Secretary of War John Morgan, a former slaveholder, hoped to have an all-white army fight in Cuba. William Jennings Bryan found his proposal ridiculous, stating “Why would you turn down a man willing to die for his country?” Morgan, along with Navy Secretary Whitney, found themselves at odds with Bryan and Teller’s anti-Imperialism. They wanted America to annex Puerto Rico and the Philippines. In July of 1898, Bryan gave a speech to Congress in which he stated that the only time America should go to war is if the war is a Just War. This is a reference to Thomas Aquinas’ Just War Theory. Bryan said that the Cuban War met all the qualifications for it to be a Just War. First, he stated that the war was declared by a properly instituted authority, the United States Congress. Second, he stated that the war had a good and just purpose, the liberation of the Cuban people from their Spanish oppressors, and was not for self-gain. He stated that peace was the central motive even in the midst of violence; American troops fought the war against Spain with the goal of the liberation of Cuba in mind, and ended the war once the goal had been achieved. Congress would later pass the Just War Act, requiring every American War to conform to these principles. The remainder of Bryan’s Presidency was mostly peaceful.

    -Excerpt from The Guide to the Executive Mansion, an in Depth Look at America's Presidents by Benjamin Buckley, Harvard Press, 1999.

    1: OTL the Prime Minister was assassinated by an anarchist in 1897. After he died the dreaded Weyler was removed from his post in Cuba.
    Chapter IV, Let the Silver Era Begin!
  • Bryan’s first two years in office went well for him. 1897 had seen legislative victories (with some setbacks sprinkled in). 1898 saw America victorious against Spain. The 1898 midterm elections were a Democratic wave. The Democrats took the Senate and increased their majority in the House of Representatives. The House of Representatives was split between 224 Democrats, 119 Republicans, and 14 members of other parties such as Populist or Silver. The Senate had 47 Democrats, 39 Republicans, and 4 members of other parties. These third parties were in the process of merging with the Democratic Party. The 56th Congress’ first action would be to make Bimetallism official US policy by fixing the weight ratio of silver and gold coins at 16-1. America had officially entered its silver era.

    -Excerpt from America's Silver Age, Edward S. Scott, Patriot Publishers, 2017.

    Supporters of Free Silver were confident that the economic downturn inherited from the Cleveland administration was finally going to end. And some people’s situations did improve, most notably farmers. But by fall of 1899 it was clear that for many Americans, things were getting worse, not better. Bryan’s popularity dropped and the Republicans found new energy. It was obvious to everyone following politics that William McKinley was planning on a rematch and was confident about his odds against the incumbent. Meanwhile, several Bourbon Democrats were exploring possible challenges against Bryan at the 1900 National Convention. One name that was suggested was Navy Secretary William Whitney, who had resigned from Bryan’s cabinet in 1899. Whitney opposed Bryan in the 1896 election and was only chosen to appease Conservatives in the party. Disagreements over the Treaty of Paris were the ultimate cause of his resignation. He was replaced by Senator George Turner of Washington. He declined to run, instead opting for a peaceful retirement, he died in 1904.


    (Navy Secretary George Turner)

    Supreme Court Justice Stephen Field died in 1899. Field was an octogenarian conservative appointed by Lincoln. In 1898 he cast his vote in favor of the majority view in Smith v. McMillin, which ruled an 1897 child labor law to be unconstitutional. There was a rumor floating that the more conservative justices were delaying their retirement until Bryan left office. And Field stayed on the Court right up until his death. He was replaced by Judge Walter Clark, Associate Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. The influence of Conservatives on the US Supreme Court was waning. In earlier years, the Supreme Court was a largely conservative body, constantly striking down progressive legislation. While the Court would continue to do this at times, it would do so less frequently.

    -Excerpt from The History of the Supreme Court, W. C. Adams, 1977.


    (Walter Clark, Supreme Court Justice)

    Bryan was about to enter another Presidential campaign, one where he, and many other Democrats, were uncertain of the result. This was in stark contrast with the great optimism of Republicans. So confident of victory was the Grand Old Party that the field of candidates for the 1900 Presidential race was crowded. In a cabinet meeting, Bryan reportedly asked “which Republicans running for President this year?” to which Milford Howard replied, “The better question, Mr. President, is which Republicans are not running for President this year?” Then Fred Dubois and Henry Teller, the two Republicans in Bryan’s cabinet, jokingly suggested that they were considering a run for the Republican nomination. Bryan had hoped that by 1900 he could count on his policies ushering in economic prosperity, but it hadn’t come yet. The battle for 1900 was going to be just as hard, if not harder, than 1896.

    -Excerpt from The Guide to the Executive Mansion, an in Depth Look at America's Presidents by Benjamin Buckley, Harvard Press, 1999.
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    Chapter V, Conventions
  • “To say that I was pessimistic during the 1900 Presidential campaign would be an understatement. I wasn’t even sure that I would still be the Party’s nominee, let alone win the election. I was determined to campaign as hard as I could, and hope for the best.” This is what Bryan recounted two decades later. Two major challengers emerged against William Jennings Bryan for the Democratic Nomination. The first was Thomas Catchings, a Representative from Mississippi and a supporter of the Gold Standard. The other was Wisconsin Senator William Villas, a fellow Bourbon Democrat. The goal was for Villas to take away Northern delegates from Bryan while Catchings took away Southern delegates. Conservatives hoped that between these two, and a number of favorite sons, Bryan would be denied a majority of delegates.

    -Excerpt from The Guide to the Executive Mansion, an in Depth Look at America's Presidents by Benjamin Buckley, Harvard Press, 1999.

    In order to defeat the conservative insurgency, Bryan enlisted the aid of his supporters. South Carolina Senator Ben Tillman persuaded many Southern delegates to stick with Bryan. Well before the convention, Milford Howard had distributed films of William Jennings Bryan along with campaign literature throughout the Deep South, hoping that the people would pressure their political leaders to support Bryan’s reelection. Vice President Arthur Sewall tried to ensure the loyalty of the delegates from New England. On July 4 the 1900 Democratic National Convention began in Kansas City, Missouri. Bryan could count on the loyalty of the West, that was certain, but the rest of the state delegations seemed up for grabs. The attempted revolt of the Southern delegates went poorly; Catchings had the support of his home state of Mississippi, along with a sizable minority of the Louisiana, Texas, and Virginia delegations. Many of the West Virginia delegates opposed Bryan, but they were split between Catchings and Villas. The rest of the South stood with the President. Meanwhile, in the Midwest, only Wisconsin supported Villas.


    (Left: Thomas C. Catchings, Right: William Freeman Villas)

    While the Southern and Midwestern delegations disappointed Bourbon Democrats, the real battle would be in the Northeast. Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts sided with various opponents of Bryan. Maine, the home of Arthur Sewall, was the only New England delegation to support Bryan. Pennsylvania and New Jersey surprised everyone by rejecting the Bourbon candidates. And New York delegates narrowly chose Bryan over former mayor of New York City and favorite son Abram Hewitt. This was because of support from two New York politicians, former Vice President Adlai Stevenson, and former Bryan opponent David B. Hill. Bryan had won his party’s nomination once again. In his victory speech he called on Democrats to unite and continue the work he had begun for farmers, miners, and urban laborers.

    The first Republican to announce his intention to run was Thomas Brackett Reed, former House Speaker from Maine. While most Republicans criticized Bryan for not doing enough during the Cuban War, Reed opposed the war entirely. Another contender was Pennsylvania’s Matthew Quay. Robert Todd Lincoln and Frederick Dent Grant hoped to take advantage of their last names. Attorney Chauncey Depew of New York, Michigan governor John T. Rich, Rhode Island governor Charles W. Lippitt, Tennessee Representative Henry Clay Adams, and former ambassador Whitelaw Reid were among the other contenders for the nomination. And then there was William McKinley, eager to have a rematch with William Jennings Bryan. McKinley quickly became the frontrunner. Some delegates were concerned about his electability, as he had previously lost an election in what should have been a Republican year. They rallied around Thomas Reed, the only other candidate that stood a chance at winning the nomination. However, in the end, McKinley was nominated once more. Robert Todd Lincoln was chosen as his running mate as part of a Midwestern strategy. McKinley’s nomination speech at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia emphasized protectionism, support for the Gold Standard, and a more active foreign policy.

    -Excerpt from McKinley, by Raymond Garrett, Charleston Publishing House, 1999.


    (Left: William McKinley, Right: Robert Todd Lincoln)

    There were other party conventions as well. The National Democratic Party nominated Thomas Catchings of Mississippi. This meant that their strategy would focus on the Southern States, as Catchings failed to generate much enthusiasm in the North. The Vice Presidential nominee would be former US Postmaster General William Wilson of West Virginia. The Socialist Labor Party nominated Eugene V. Debs of Indiana for President and Job Harriman of California for Vice President. Their strategy was to specifically target urban workers who were not doing well under Bryan’s Presidency. They portrayed Bryan as a puppet of the silver mine owners and not a friend of the common man. Debs, imitating Bryan, proclaimed “You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of silver.”
    Chapter VI, Rematch
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    William Jennings Bryan was facing an uphill battle in his quest for reelection. A bad economy, a divided party, a considerably lower campaign budget than his Republican rival, media bias, and Socialists attacking his ideas from the left were working against Bryan getting four more years in the Executive Mansion. The situation looked worse than 1896, which was a very narrow victory. But, Bryan also had a few more advantages than he had four years prior. Bryan had more control over the Democratic Party machines, meaning the party would do more to help him get reelected. And the disparity in funding and media support between Bryan and McKinley was much narrower than it was in 1896. As President he had led America to victory, which would certainly endear him to the military. Bryan also had, if possible, even more support in rural areas this time.

    The Republicans ran a Midwestern strategy. The idea was to defend the states in the region that McKinley won in 1896 while trying to win Indiana and Ohio. Bryan’s strategy would be to target the other states in the Midwest and Upper South. Iowa, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Maryland, and Delaware were all states that McKinley won in 1896 but Bryan was determined to compete for in 1900. With this in mind, Bryan once again set out on a train, giving speeches at every town he stopped in. His first speech was in Philadelphia, not particularly friendly ground, and he attracted a few protesters. He then went into Delaware. He and his campaign surrogates blanketed the state, reaching every town and talking to a large portion of its small population. Next came Maryland, and then Virginia and West Virginia, until he made it to the Midwest.

    -Excerpt from America's Silver Age, Edward S. Scott, Patriot Publishers, 2017.

    The Republican Party did its best to counter the Democrats’ claim that they were the party of the rich. Indeed, many poor people voted for McKinley. McKinley’s message to the working class was that bimetallism, and its champion in the Executive Mansion, were to blame for high inflation and the continuing economic crisis. Many modern economists share McKinley’s views. He also promised that protectionism would keep industry in the United States. Many immigrants voted Republican as they were concerned about Bryan’s anti-alcohol stance after national blue laws were passed in 1898, restricting liquor sales on Sundays. McKinley also had the support of America’s most disadvantaged demographic. African-Americans who were not prevented from voting mostly cast their ballots for McKinley. After all, his running mate was the Great Emancipator’s son. Bryan actually made an effort to appeal to black voters, and had campaign surrogates argue that Democratic policies would help their communities. While some African-Americans did support Bryan, the majority did not.

    -Excerpt from McKinley, by Raymond Garrett, Charleston Publishing House, 1999.

    The Gold Democrats ran an almost entirely Southern campaign. They hoped at the very least to win Mississippi’s electoral votes. In the case that neither McKinley nor Bryan obtained an electoral majority, Catchings hoped to become kingmaker. Bryan considered campaigning in the South, but realized that the Midwest was more important. He could rely on his many Southern supporters along with Milford Howard to campaign there on his behalf. Eugene Debs spent most of his time in the larger cities of the Midwest. His arguments were simple; silver has not helped the proletariat, reestablishing the gold standard will not help either, the workers can only be freed by overthrowing capitalism. He argued “what difference does it make to the toiling masses, whether the President is a puppet of the gold mine owners or a puppet of the silver mine owners? Neither will be your friend!” While many were convinced by Debs, the majority of American workers rejected his message, hoping that either major party had the answers to improve the economy.


    (Eugene V. Debs)

    In August, a poll was done of several states that were deemed important in the upcoming election. This meant large states and states that were close in 1896. Public opinion polls were much less common and much less advanced at this time than they are today, but they existed. This poll was an aggregate of various local straw polls. The results were disheartening for Democrats to say the least. McKinley was projected to win Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Iowa. But these were states he already won in 1896. He also was projected to win Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, California, and Oregon, states that voted for Bryan four years earlier. Bryan was projected to win Texas, Missouri, Kentucky, and South Dakota. The only silver lining was that North Dakota, which voted for McKinley in 1896, was now projected to vote for Bryan.

    But the campaign was far from over. Victory in 1900 would hinge on one factor: turnout. Bryan could count on high turnout from his supporters. For Republicans, things were more complicated. Yes, Bryan was not extremely popular in urban areas, but that didn’t mean they would turn out for McKinley in large numbers. Republicans had a difficult time getting people excited to vote for their candidate. This was contrasted with the undying energy of William Jennings Bryan, who gave speeches with the same passion that was present in 1896. McKinley was seen by many as stale and as the candidate for the rich, while Bryan seemed to genuinely care about the plight of the common man. In addition, many of the attacks on Bryan had lost their luster. After the Cuban War it was hard to portray him as weak. And while bimetallism wasn’t off to great start, the doom and gloom predictions of complete financial collapse didn’t come true either.


    (William Jennings Bryan in his early forties)

    On the night of Tuesday, November 6, 1900, William Jennings Bryan prayed, went to bed, fully expecting to wake up the next morning to news of McKinley’s victory. Among his cabinet only Joseph Sibley and Milford Howard believed that Bryan would win. But the winner was not yet clear the next day, giving Bryan some hope. Then, on Thursday, the news was in: William Jennings Bryan won reelection. This came as a shock to Bryan and his campaign staff just as it did to McKinley’s team as well as the rest of the country. The President was reportedly overjoyed when he heard the news that he won. And this time, he actually won the popular vote. McKinley could at least take solace in the fact that this time he won his home state of Ohio. But he had lost two elections in a row that should have been easy Republican victories. His political career was over. In addition, the Gold Democrats failed to carry a single state, only cracking above 20% in Mississippi.

    -Excerpt from The Guide to the Executive Mansion, an in Depth Look at America's Presidents by Benjamin Buckley, Harvard Press, 1999.


    William Jennings Bryan (D-NE)/Arthur Sewall (D-ME): 6,727,867 votes (47.7%), 233 Electoral Votes
    William McKinley (R-OH)/Robert Todd Lincoln (R-IL): 6,685,553 votes (47.4%), 213 Electoral Votes
    Thomas Catching (ND-MS)/William Wilson (ND-WV): 338,509 votes (2.4%), 1 Electoral Vote[1]
    Eugene V. Debs (S-IN)/Job Harriman (S-CA): 211,568 votes (1.5%), 0 Electoral Votes

    Others[2]: 142,455 votes (1.0%), 0 Electoral Votes

    1: Faithless elector from Mississippi
    2: Mostly the Prohibition Party
    Chapter VII, Dos Equis
  • Spanish Prime Minister Antonio Cánovas del Castillo had lost war with America. However, his resolve to keep the rest of the empire was unshaken. Cánovas believed that Spain’s Empire was saved by the foolishness of America’s young President William Jennings Bryan (who was close to half the age of Cánovas). He was surprised by US Secretary of State Henry Teller’s limited demands at the Treaty of Paris. While he hated giving up Cuba he was thankful to keep the rest of Spain’s Empire. Despite the loss of Cuba, Spain still had possessions scattered across the globe. Closer to home there were still the Canary Islands and the Spanish colonies in Africa. The Spanish West Indies still existed as Puerto Rico remained in the empire. And Spain still controlled the East Indies, though their grip on the Philippines was weakening. Even though the Cuban War was over, Spanish soldiers were still dying in a faraway place, fighting against Philippine rebels.


    (Spanish soldier in the Philippines)

    Many began to see the Spanish Empire as a liability rather than an asset. This increasingly became the position of the Spanish Liberal Party as well as the Socialist movement. When confronted with the cost in money and lives for Spain, some advocated selling the Philippines. But Prime Minister Cánovas was convinced that instead of shrinking, the Spanish Empire was to expand. He and those who shared his views started the Dos Equis Movement[1]. The idea behind the movement was that the 19th century had seen Spain’s dominions shrink but that there would be a reversal of Spanish fortunes. The Twentieth Century would be the Spanish century, according to them. Thus the Spanish soldiers who fought and lost in Cuba were transferred to the Pacific to fight a Philippine insurgency. The Spanish government also tried to shift the demographics of the Philippines. A large percentage of Cuban loyalists were transferred to the island chain and some Spanish citizens were paid to settle there. In addition, The Spanish government began to explore the possibility of gaining concessions in China.

    -Excerpt from The Dos Equis Movement, Spain's last gasp for power, by Ona Andreu, Seville Press, 1997.

    Puerto Rico was not a high concern for the Spanish government. Even many sceptics of Imperialism made the Caribbean island an exception. The inhabitants were generally loyal to Spain. Though some Puerto Ricans desired independence, they were not the majority. In 1898, per the Treaty of Paris, Spain gave Puerto Rico an autonomous government. Virtually all of the elected officials of that government were loyal to Spain. Agents operating from the US and Cuba tried occasionally to incite a popular revolt against the Spanish government, but few were persuaded. And the loyalists on the island’s numbers were bolstered by loyalists from Cuba. Spanish investment on the island increased after the Cuban War, helping stimulate the local economy. While Cánovas and the Dos Equis Movement encouraged Spanish citizens to settle in the Philippines, more Spaniards settled in Puerto Rico. The island would continue to attract Spanish tourists and settlers for decades to come.

    -Excerpt from The History of Puerto Rico, by Alfonso Clemente Campo, Atlantic, 2001.

    In early 1899 the beleaguered Spanish forces in the Philippines, facing an enemy emboldened by Spain’s defeat in the Cuban War, were happy to see help come in the form of a troop surge. The Spanish Army won most of the battles that year, as the newspapers back home proudly reported. Soldiers were not the only people coming, so were thousands of Cuban loyalists, mostly settling in Manilla. There was also the new Repoblación program, launched in 1899, where the Spanish government paid its citizens to settle in the Philippines. In the summer of that year, over 5,000 Spaniards would arrive in the Philippines to begin their new lives, and more were following behind them. These new arrivals would occupy the highest caste of colonial society, Peninsulares, Spaniards born in Spain. The newcomers displaced many locals from their jobs, and they were not welcome by most of the native inhabitants.

    By the end of 1899 the Spanish government was confident that it had pacified enough of the Philippines to declare the troop surge a success. With that, Spain reorganized the local government to allow for some form of autonomy. An amnesty was called for rebel soldiers (though not the rebel leaders) and some accepted the amnesty while the majority continued fighting. Governor-General Fernando Primo de Rivera announced that elections would be held for a new legislature in regions deemed sufficiently pacified in 1900. The elections were never intended to be fair. Natives were often prevented from voting and candidates that the Spanish didn’t like were regularly disqualified. This, combined with the loss of jobs as a result of the Repoblación program, led to widespread protests. In Manilla, these protests turned into riots on August 4, in which five Spanish soldiers, two Spanish civilians, and 83 Filipinos were killed, with many more on both sides wounded. The Spanish government responded by making mass arrests of hundreds of suspected rebels. This inflamed Philippine opinion against Spanish rule and even more Filipinos joined the rebellion.


    (Philippine Rebels)

    Many of the new Spanish settlers were unable to escape the increasing violence. Several were killed, including entire families. The Spanish government tried to keep this news from spreading back home, but the people found out eventually. The Repoblación program’s popularity drastically decreased once people back home new the truth. Young aspiring artist Pablo Picasso, who had come with an early wave of settlers, had this to say about the situation: “In 1899 the ships were full of people from every part of society, optimistic about their new life in a mysterious faraway land. In 1901 I saw a ship come into port carrying 70-80 men. There were a few brave adventure-seekers and a few missionaries, but the majority of them were beggars.” The program that began as an attempt to strengthen Spain’s hold on the Philippines became a means to rid Spain’s major cities of their unwanted inhabitants. In 1902 the program was discontinued.

    While Cánovas would be remembered for presiding over Spain’s loss of Cuba, he should also be remembered for expanding Spain’s power on the other side of the world. Spain was among China’s “Most Favored Nations” and trade had been going on between the two countries for centuries. In 1900 Spain bought its very own concession port in China. Aichow[2] was a city on the Southern coast of Hainan Island, which was relatively close to the Spanish-controlled Philippines. Spain hoped to bring all of Hainan into its sphere of influence in the future. However, they would have to compete with the French, who were the dominant foreign power in the region. Thus, for the time, Spain would need to be content with Aichow. The purchase of Aichow was made possible by increased taxes, angering the public. Cánovas was replaced as Prime Minister later that year by Práxedes Mateo Sagasta, who opposed the Doq Equis Movement from the very beginning. It seemed like the New Spanish Century would never come to pass.

    -Excerpt from The Dos Equis Movement, Spain's last gasp for power, by Ona Andreu, Seville Press, 1997.

    1: Dos Equis means "two Xs" in Spanish. The two Xs symbolize the 20th century, just like they do on the Beer.
    2: Now Sanya.
    Chapter VIII, The Second Term of William Jennings Bryan
  • “I believe in the resilience of the American people to solve whatever problems come before them.” William Jennings Bryan said in his second inaugural address on March 4, 1901. The economic downturn, which begun under Cleveland’s administration, had not yet ended. Many people blamed the President and his monetary policies for the continuing hard times. Democrats had narrow majorities in both houses during the 57th Congress, but if they couldn’t do something about the ongoing economic crisis, that would soon change. Tragedy struck a month after the inauguration when Vice President Arthur Sewall died of a stroke. Bryan’s second term was definitely not off to a good start.

    -Excerpt from The Guide to the Executive Mansion, an in Depth Look at America's Presidents by Benjamin Buckley, Harvard Press, 1999.


    (Arthur Sewall, 1835-1901)

    In 1901 the annexation of Hawaii was finalized. Ever since the fall of the Monarchy in 1893, the government of Hawaii desired annexation by the United States. Grover Cleveland opposed annexation as he viewed the seizure of power to be illegitimate. Though Bryan was no fan of expansionism, he viewed Hawaii as an exception. He reasoned that Hawaii was relatively close to the United States (much more so than the Philippines) and thus within its sphere of influence. And, if the US didn’t annex Hawaii, some European power would annex it later on. War with Spain during his first year in office distracted the US from annexing the Islands earlier. It was never near the top of President Bryan’s Agenda anyway. Ironically, it was the Hawaiian government, led by Sanford B. Dole, which began to have reservations about annexation. After all, the overthrow of Hawaiian Queen Liliuokalani in 1893 was done by businessmen, and Bryan wasn’t exactly the best friend of business. But, as business didn’t collapse during the Bryan administration, these concerns faded away.


    (Sanford B. Dole)

    Annexation of Hawaii was actually more of a Republican cause than a Democratic one. If Hawaii had gained statehood instead of territory status, it would have likely voted Republican. Contrary to the popular image of William Jennings Bryan as the ultimate Democrat, he was willing to oppose his own party and work with Republicans whenever he saw fit. There were many progressive Republicans at the time, and Bryan worked with them when there was common ground. A coalition of progressive Republicans and Democrats in Congress passed an Amendment to allow for the direct election of Senators. However, it failed to be ratified by enough state legislatures. For every failure there were successes, and in 1901 William Jennings Bryan signed into law the Child Labor Act of 1901, establishing maximum working hours for children under the age of 16. It was challenged by the Supreme Court but was upheld in a 5-4 decision.

    But the economy still hadn’t improved. By 1902 there were still no signs of a recovery. Even the farmers, who were supposed to benefit from Bimetallism, were suffering. So the Democrat-controlled Congress decided that doing something was necessary to keep their jobs. They came up with an economic stimulus, directed at various parts of the economy, with the intent to help both the rural and urban poor. Whether it had much effect is still debatable. It was widely seen as a desperate last attempt on the part of congressional democrats to keep the House and Senate, which they narrowly lost in the 1902 Congressional elections. However, in 1903 the economy finally began to recover. Conservatives claimed that the market was going to straighten itself out eventually, and that increased government spending and Bimetallism had nothing to do with it. However, the public saw the return to economic normalcy as a direct result of President Bryan and Democratic policy.

    In 1903 Democrats in Congress pushed for referendums in three territories. Some Republicans fought against this as the proposed states of Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona would bolster Democrats’ numbers in the House and Senate, as well as increasing their odds of winning the electoral college. Thus, the new House Speaker Chauncey Depew vowed to block all vote on statehood until after 1904, in order that it not affect the outcome of the election. Many Republicans, including Representative Theodore Roosevelt of New York, strongly disagreed with Depew’s actions and criticized him. Statehood for these territories would have to wait until after the election, an election in which William Jennings Bryan announced he would seek an unprecedented third term.

    -Excerpt from America's Silver Age, Edward S. Scott, Patriot Publishers, 2017.
    Chapter IX, Tecumseh's Curse
  • 151794-004-3D8C5058.jpg

    While the first half of Bryan’s term saw the economic crisis continue and the Democrats lose both Houses of Congress, the second half saw economic recovery. In 1902 Bryan was seen as ineffective while by 1903 he was seen as saving the country from economic ruin. By the time the 58th United States Congress began in March of 1903 the crisis was nearly over. Very little of note occurred during the 58th Congress. Speaker Reid of Ohio was seen as an obstructionist, blocking legislation from coming up for a vote. The only legislation of note that was passed was a bill to increase tariffs, which was vetoed by the President. In the popularity contest between the President and Congress, the President was winning. Bryan received thousands of letters, mostly from the Western States, begging him to run for a third term. Bryan was still as wildly popular in the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains as he had been in 1896. Bryan is often portrayed as being initially hesitant of running for a third term, but was eventually convinced by fan mail. In reality, Bryan didn’t need much convincing. He used the letters to justify what he already planned on doing.


    (House Speaker Whitelaw Reid, staunch opponent of William Jennings Bryan)

    Meanwhile, the more superstitious segments of American society were worried about Bryan’s ability to survive his Presidency. On the surface, this seems odd as the President was in his early forties. However, many at the time believed in the Curse of Tippecanoe, or Tecumseh’s Curse. Tecumseh was a Shawnee leader who allied with the British during the War of 1812. Tecumseh’s Native American Alliance had been defeated the year before in 1811 at Tippecanoe. The commanding general was future United States President William Henry Harrison. After Harrison was elected in 1840, he became the first President to die in office. Every President elected in a year divisible by 20 would die in office. Abraham Lincoln, elected in 1860, died in office in 1865. And James Garfield, elected in 1880, also died in office. Some were worried that Bryan, by virtue of winning the election of 1900, would be next. Then, as Bryan was enjoying the summer air with his family on the Executive Mansion’s lawn on July 11, 1903, he was shot at. The gunman was a poor shot; two bullets missed the President entirely while one grazed his shoulder. As guards came running to the scene, the gunman ran away. He was quickly apprehended and interrogated.

    Under interrogation, the gunman revealed that he was not working alone. He identified other conspirators, one who was attempting to bomb the Capitol Building and others who were planning on assassinating members of Bryan’s cabinet. They were Communist Revolutionaries and they hoped to cause the government to collapse. It was very poorly planned out. The other conspirators were quickly apprehended with the exception of one, who shot and seriously injured a man who looked like Secretary of War John T. Morgan. The last assassin was shot by a cop on August 14 in Paducah, Kentucky. With the exception of the one who confessed, the other six conspirators were hanged. In the aftermath, some newspapers reported that the President had shaken off an old curse (referring to Tecumseh’s curse). Some retellings of the story had Bryan wrestle the gun away from his assassin. Regardless, public sympathy for Bryan increased after the incident. Intriguingly, after Bryan supposedly “shook off” a curse placed upon US Presidents by a Shawnee chief, he would go on to promote and sign into law legislation to benefit American Indians and Alaskan Natives.

    -Excerpt from The Guide to the Executive Mansion, an in Depth Look at America's Presidents by Benjamin Buckley, Harvard Press, 1999.

    On September 3, 1903, the 120th anniversary of the end of the American Revolution, William Jennings Bryan gave a speech in Dover, Delaware, the capital city America’s first state. He talked about the issues facing America and the need for further reform. He talked about the creeping influence of imperialists, whose values ran counter to everything America stood for. He talked about the importance of keeping corporate power out of Washington. He talked about his own achievements in resisting these influences and fighting for the American farmer and worker. He talked about how Americans were doing better in 1903 than they were when he first ran for President. He said “It took a few years, but silver has finally saved America’s farmers and laborers from economic ruin.” He then railed against a Republican-controlled Congress that was doing nothing for the average American. He ended his speech with this, “If the cause of poor and downtrodden is not taken up by God-fearing Americans who will work within the bounds of the Constitution, it will be stolen by Godless radicals. I, William Jennings Bryan, am seeking a third term as President.” The crowd, mostly filled with supporters who delivered the state to him in 1900, applauded. However, many Americans, including some Democrats, were horrified by Bryan’s departure from the tradition began by George Washington.

    -Excerpt from America's Silver Age, Edward S. Scott, Patriot Publishers, 2017.
    Chapter X, Chicago
  • As Bryan announced his intention to run for a third term, he received relentless criticism. He was mockingly dubbed “King William” by many in the Republican Party, which was holding its convention in Chicago that June, a week before the Democratic National Convention in St. Louis. And it was clear, at least to most serious observers, that either Mark Hanna of Ohio or Matthew Quay of Pennsylvania would be the nominee. Hanna was slightly favored over Quay. And it was general consensus that the winner of the two would choose the other as his running mate. The winner would campaign on the Gold Standard, protectionism, and a more active foreign policy. Minor candidates included Representative Robert La Follette of Wisconsin, Representative Elihu Root of New York, Senator (and war hero) Leonard Wood of New Hampshire, and Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts, along with a scattering of favorite sons.


    (Left: Mark Hanna, Right: Matthew Quay)

    But things did not go according to plan. A few months before the convention, Mark Hanna died. And a few days before the convention, Matthew Quay died. Thus, when the delegates met in Chicago, they had no idea who they were going to vote for. So the remaining candidates each gave their speeches, eager to impress the delegates. Most of the candidates’ speeches had common themes; “King William” was a lousy President, the Gold Standard must be reestablished, higher tariffs are needed, and America needs to expand its influence across the globe. Occasionally there was mention of defending the rights of African-Americans in the South. Then, Representative Robert La Follette took the stage. He was not much concerned with issues like Gold and Silver; instead he talked about the need for progressive reform. He made an appeal to the worker, many of whom still felt that Bryan’s policies were not helping. And he stood out as a firm opponent of imperialism.

    The Western delegates loved him. However, many of the Eastern delegates saw him as the equivalent of the President they hated. And a large number of the Northeastern delegates vowed to never vote for La Follette. However, some Northeastern politicians such as New York Representative Theodore Roosevelt supported his campaign. The 1904 Republican convention saw the beginnings of a split in the party that would last into the 1930s. There were those who made peace with the fact that the Gold Standard was dead (the position of the average American) and there were those who would “never surrender to silver.” And at the 1904 Convention, the compromisers won. It must be noted, that most of the compromisers supported an eventual return to the Gold Standard, but when the public was ready for it. Robert La Follette was nominated for President and former Connecticut Governor Morgan G. Bulkely was selected as Vice President.


    (Left: Robert M. La Follette, Right: Morgan G. Bulkely)

    Meanwhile, the frustrated diehard Gold Standard Republicans held a convention in Boston two weeks later. There they nominated Henry Cabot Lodge for President and Senator Joseph B. Foraker of Ohio for Vice President. They called this ticket the “Independent Republican” ticket. The ticket had mostly regional appeal, with very few supporters west of the Mississippi. The goal was not to win the election outright, which would be nearly impossible. Rather, the Independent Republican ticket sought to prevent La Follette from gaining an electoral majority. After this was achieved, Lodge hoped that the House of Representatives (which had an, albeit narrow, Republican majority) would give him the Presidency. The last (and only) time that the House had selected the President was 80 years earlier in 1824. The majority of the states Lodge contested were unlikely to be carried by Bryan, so it would be hard to accuse him of trying to hand the election over to the Democrats.

    -Excerpt from Fighting Bob, Sumner Sewall, Howard Publishing Co., 1951.


    (Left: Henry Cabot Lodge, Right: Joseph B. Foraker)

    In 1904, America was horrified by the news of a train accident in Colorado. In a way, that accident served as a metaphor for the 1904 election. The Republican convention was a disaster, and only the first part of a much larger train wreck that was that year’s Presidential Election. While Democrats gleefully cheered as the Republicans fought each other at Chicago, they knew that St. Louis was not likely to be much more peaceful. For, Bryan’s announcement didn’t quell the ambitions of those Democrats who thought it was their turn to carry the party to victory.

    -Excerpt from America's Silver Age, Edward S. Scott, Patriot Publishers, 2017.
    Chapter XI, St. Louis
  • William Jennings Bryan got on the stage at the Democratic National Convention in St. Louis and gave one of his trademark speeches. He defended his legacy as President; he condemned the imperialists and accused them of trying to drag America into wars in faraway lands. He then called for new reforms, direct election of senators, women’s suffrage, and a variety of programs to help bring rural America out of isolation and poverty. He also boasted that his administration had broken up more monopolies than any others, most recently that of Standard Oil. While some were excited by Bryan’s speech, others were not. Some delegates resented the growing power of rural Westerners in the Democratic Party and were hopeful that the party would return to its rightful owners, the eastern elites, after Bryan was done. A larger group appreciated what Bryan did but felt that his time was up and he should let new voices carry on the cause of reform.

    The other candidates included Senator Ben Tillman of South Carolina, Maryland Governor John W. Smith, Representative Charles A. Towne of Minnesota, Senator William A. Harris of Kansas, and former Admiral George Dewey of Vermont. On the first ballot, no candidate received a majority, though Bryan had the most votes. Eventually, the anti-Bryan (or more accurately, those opposed to a third term for Bryan) delegates coalesced around George Dewey. Dewey was popular for his role as admiral during the Cuban War. Dewey campaigned as a moderate, palatable to both progressives and conservatives in the party. After seeing that Bryan was not going to get a majority, some of the delegates ditched the President and were welcomed in the Dewey camp. George Dewey won the Democratic nomination for President and John W. Smith was selected as Vice President.


    (Left: George Dewey, Right: John W. Smith)

    For most observers, it looked like Bryan’s political career was effectively over, though few thought that an ex-President Bryan would completely retire from politics. Dewey reportedly planned on making him ambassador to China in order to keep him from causing trouble back home. It seemed that Dewey would slide to victory as the Republican vote was divided. The papers in the Northeast gleefully celebrated Bryan’s defeat at the Democratic Convention. People began to count down the days until Bryan would leave office. Some were even planning celebrations for that day. In Nebraska, people were saddened by the events at the Convention, but then went along with their lives. However, most of the opponents and the supporters of President Bryan neglected to anticipate one thing. The President himself was already making plans for his post-Presidency when he received news that some say changed the course of American history.

    The Peoples’ Party (or the Populist Part as it was commonly known) was a once powerful alternative to the Republicans and Democrats. Founded in 1891, it helped popularize the issues of Bimetallism and its supporters were often poor farmers. In 1892 the Populist Party’s Presidential nominee, James B. Weaver, won over 8% of the popular vote along with the states of Kansas, Colorado, North Dakota, Idaho, and Nevada. In 1896, the Party endorsed William Jennings Bryan and faded into irrelevancy, with most of their elected officials joining the Democratic Party. Bryan promoted some party members to cabinet positions. In 1900, the Party once again endorsed the Democratic ticket. By 1904 it had few elected officials and was considered irrelevant. Thus, their convention in Birmingham, Alabama was sparsely attended and covered mostly by the local papers rather than national ones.

    In Birmingham, the delegates overwhelmingly refused to endorse George Dewey. They considered running one of their own candidates but instead opted for a much more opportunistic move. They decided to nominate the sitting President of the United States of America. Some historians say that Milford Howard, a party member himself, sent people to the convention to promote President Bryan as the nominee. The delegates selected Thomas Watson, a Senator from Georgia, as his running mate. Watson had been the party’s Vice Presidential nomination in 1896, as an alternate to Arthur Sewall. However, by the time the Electoral College convened most of the electors rallied behind Bryan’s official running mate. The news came as a shock to Bryan, who quickly accepted the nomination and was happy to be back in the race, and to Dewey, whose chances of victory fell significantly as a result. With both the Republicans and the Democrats were divided, the election of 1904 would be bitter and chaotic.


    (Left: William Jennings Bryan, Right: Thomas Watson)
    -Excerpt from The Guide to the Executive Mansion, an in Depth Look at America's Presidents by Benjamin Buckley, Harvard Press, 1999.
    Chapter XII, The Battle of 1904
  • The news that William Jennings Bryan was still a candidate for President was not received well by the other main candidates. Dewey, who before was all but guaranteed victory due to a split Republican ticket, now realized that the election was far from over. The Lodge campaign was perhaps hit the worst. His strategy was to aim for third place in the Electoral College by capturing Massachusetts. But with Bryan in the race he might come in fourth place, which would shut him out of the House vote entirely. The La Follette campaign saw both setbacks and new opportunities coming from the Populist candidacy. On one hand, Bryan neutralized much of the Republican Party’s strategy to bring the West back into the fold. On the other hand, it split the Democratic vote. The states of the Upper South were now possible Republican wins.

    Robert La Follette decided to imitate Bryan’s successful strategy and actively campaign. He made stops in both the large cities and the smaller towns in the Midwest. He also campaigned in Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, and Arkansas. La Follette had no delusions about winning a majority of the vote in these states; he simply hoped to get more votes than Dewey or Bryan. However, many of the people who would support La Follette, particularly African-Americans, were disenfranchised. In addition, some Southern Republicans supported the Independent Republican ticket, meaning that La Follette couldn’t even be sure of receiving as many votes as McKinley had during his campaigns. Meanwhile his running mate Morgan Bulkeley was sent to secure the Northeast against the Lodge insurgency.

    -Excerpt from Fighting Bob, Sumner Sewall, Howard Publishing Co., 1951.

    George Dewey made some campaign stops of his own. He generally focused on the big cities. He spoke in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, among many others. However, he also visited his sparsely populated home state of Vermont and its neighbor New Hampshire. Dewey enjoyed many advantages; he had the most financial and media support and he appealed to wide segments of the population. Northeastern Democrats who opposed Bryan’s populism could once again proudly proclaim that they were Democrats. He also appealed to many Republicans as he was a war hero and a New England man. He avoided divisive issues like tariffs and the Gold versus Silver debate. But this also revealed a weakness; he never took strong positions on most of the issues.

    -Excerpt from America's Admiral, Arnold Warner, Howard Publishing Co., 1945.

    William Jennings Bryan was about to embark on another one of his whistle-stop tours. Only this time, the route he took was quite different. He started in the South in July and made his way into the Midwest in October. The South, especially the Deep South, had the best opportunity for capturing electoral votes. He was highly popular in the region and a vote for Bryan in South Carolina wasn’t going to change the fact that Yankee Republicans weren’t going to win that state. His reception in the South was even greater than he anticipated. People came out in droves to listen to the President speak. Bryan was also conscious about the popular vote, seeing as he had lost the popular vote in 1896. He believed that if he received more votes than any other candidate, he would have a mandate and the House of Representatives would vote for him for President. Thus, he recruited every notable supporter of his in the Northeast in a get-out-the-vote effort that would try to find everyone who liked him in the region and get them to the polls. Among these Northeastern supporters of his were oil baron Thomas Hisgen from Massachusetts, the late Vice President Arthur Sewall’s business associates in Maine, various wealthy Northeasterners who owned stocks in Silver mining companies, and of course, William Randolph Hearst.

    -Excerpt from The Guide to the Executive Mansion, an in Depth Look at America's Presidents by Benjamin Buckley, Harvard Press, 1999.

    Henry Cabot Lodge determined that he had no choice but to actively campaign as well. He campaigned on being the only candidate that could restore the Gold Standard. He painted La Follette as a clone of Bryan, a Democrat in sheep’s clothing. He argued for American Imperialism. He traveled across New England and then to New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. He needed to either win those largely-populated states, or hope that Bryan could completely eclipse Dewey in the South if he hoped to come in third place in the Electoral College. He had a respectable media and financial machine behind him, along with the support of many local Republicans. However, he was increasingly obvious that he was a regional candidate. He was the only one of the four major candidates to not have ballot access in all 45 states. And in many of the states where he had ballot access he simply took away votes from La Follette.

    Also in the running was Socialist activist Eugene Debs. His running mate was Bill Haywood of Utah. Socialists saw the election of 1904 as their golden opportunity. They saw the forces of capitalism divided between four candidates. So Debs and Haywood campaigned across the country. In some states the Debs/Haywood ticket would even come in third place. The Socialist Labor Party would win some seats in state legislatures that year. The famous Adolphe Cartier[1] distributed campaign literature for the Socialists, even though he could not vote as he wasn’t a US citizen. His experiences in the United States had an effect on him. This election in particular greatly lowered his opinion of the American political system. In 1906 he went on to write Démocratie Américaine, or American Democracy, which catapulted him to fame and an eventual political career in France.


    (Bill Haywood was very much the equal of Eugene Debs)

    -Excerpt from Eugene Debs and Big Bill, a new look into America's Early Socialist Movement, Anne Benton, Justice Press, 2004.

    Dewey had a plausible path to the 238 Electoral votes required to win the election outright. It was a longshot, but if he held the entire South and most of the Northeast he could do it. For this reason he was the favorite to win. La Follette was also able to gain the necessary votes, but everything would have to go just right. Bryan had no realistic shot at an electoral majority. Thus Dewey was considered most likely to win, with La Follette a close second, and Bryan a distant third. The Dewey camp viewed Bryan as a nuisance, forcing them to tie down resources in Texas when they were needed in New York against the Republicans. While the Midwest decided 1896 and 1900, most believed that the Northeast would decide 1904. Dewey was in the best position to win that region. La Follette had to contend with the Independent Republican ticket, which had most of its support in that region. He hoped to contain Lodge to Massachusetts. While Bulkeley was campaigning for the Republican ticket in Montpelier, he stated that “I am as much in favor of the Gold Standard as Lodge.” This was almost immediately misrepresented by “yellow journalists” as being La Follette’s position. La Follette tried to distance himself from Bulkeley and emphasized his positions that appealed to Western and Midwestern voters. As a result, many voters in both the East and West were alienated.

    Just as La Follette’s campaign was losing ground to a resurgent Lodge campaign in the Northeast, it had to contend with a new threat. Bryan had finished his tour of the South and was entering the Midwest. To counter Bryan’s appeal to voters in that region, La Follette doubled down further on his Midwestern populist positions. A La Follette Speech in the middle of October of 1904 would sound similar to a Bryan speech given at the same time. Meanwhile, Dewey was delighted that Bryan was finished causing trouble in the South. He had long ago determined that the Midwest would not be a major part of his strategy. He was confident that the Northeast and South would carry him on to victory. Dewey did not engage in much criticism of Bryan or his policies, especially after Spain announced a withdrawal from the Philippines in the middle of the election. Instead, he emphasized that Washington had set a precedent, and that Bryan, despite his merits and accomplishments, was in no position to do what Washington would not. This was the position of most Americans.

    In the end, Bryan miscalculated. It was several days until most of the state results were made known. It was clear that he had gotten third place in the Electoral College. George Dewey had the most electoral votes while La Follette was not too far behind. La Follette received the greatest number of popular votes, followed by Bryan. Dewey came in third place with slightly under a quarter of the vote. Lodge came in fourth place in both the electoral and popular vote count; he could only hope to be in the running for the House vote if there were enough faithless electors to turn the tide. When the Electoral College convened, there indeed were many faithless electors (though not enough to put Lodge in third place), mostly at the expense of La Follette and Dewey. Three Ohio electors, possibly influenced by William McKinley, went against their state’s wishes and chose Lodge. They were joined by an Illinois and a Kentucky elector. Meanwhile, one elector each from Tennessee and North Carolina abandoned La Follette for Bryan. Bryan also received electoral votes from the Dewey States of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas. And finally, an elector pledged to Bryan in Wyoming voted for the Debs/Haywood ticket.


    George Dewey (D-VT)/John W. Smith (D-MD): 3,640,002 votes (24.55%), 176 Electoral Votes
    Robert La Follette (R-WI)/Morgan Bulkeley (R-CT): 4,525,170 votes (30.13%), 160 Electoral Votes
    William Jennings Bryan (D-NE)/Thomas Watson (P-GA): 4,194,827 votes (28.29%), 104 Electoral Votes
    Henry Cabot Lodge (IR-MA)/Joseph B. Foraker (IR-OH): 1,997,201 votes (13.47%), 35 Electoral Votes
    Eugene V. Debs (S-IN)/Bill Haywood (S-UT): 310,753 votes (2.10%), 1 Electoral Vote
    Others [2]: 157,954 votes (1.07%), 0 Electoral Votes

    The long and bitter election of 1904 was not over yet. The election went to Congress where each state delegation to the House of Representatives could choose Dewey, La Follette, or Bryan. 23 state delegations were needed for a majority. The Senate was given a choice between John Smith and Morgan Bulkeley for Vice President. Since Republicans had a majority in the Senate and Bulkeley was acceptable to Lodge supporters, he was quickly elected Vice President. In the House, it was a different story. At first, Dewey had the most state delegations at 16. La Follette and Bryan each had 11 state delegations behind them. There were 7 state delegations that were either deadlocked or undecided. Most of these states had two representatives who couldn’t come to an agreement. La Follette was a representative and thus was able to make a case for why the others should vote for him. The other representatives didn’t care much for his campaigning though.


    (After 14 million Americans couldn't elect a president, 386 of them would)

    The Bryan supporters soon realized that they would not be able to get enough state delegations to win. Thus, the majority of them began to debate the merits of Dewey v. La Follette. Even the Nebraska delegation abandoned hope of electing Bryan. At the same time, some of the pro-Lodge Republicans began to switch their support to Dewey. In the end, Dewey won 23 state delegations while La Follette won 18. The single representatives from Nevada and Idaho stuck with Bryan. The delegations in Kansas and South Dakota were deadlocked. Dewey, the inoffensive war hero would be the 26th President of the United States. William Jennings Bryan was disappointed in the results, but came to terms with the fact that it was not God’s will for him to win. He told his supporters to unite behind the new president. For Lodge, the election signaled the end of his presidential ambitions. For La Follette, the whole ordeal left a bitter taste in his mouth. He would go on to advocate for the abolition of the Electoral College. For most of the country, people were simply happy for it to be over.

    -Excerpt from America's Silver Age, Edward S. Scott, Patriot Publishers, 2017.

    1: This is the first major character that doesn't exist OTL that I put in this story (though many of the authors are not real people). Lets say his birth certificate was lost.
    2: Mostly the Prohibition Party
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    1904 Presidential Election Statistics
  • -George Dewey received the highest percentage of the vote in the state of Mississippi (60%). His worst state was Nevada, where he received 3% if the vote.

    -Robert La Follette's best state was Wisconsin (55%). His worst state was South Carolina, where he received 7% of the vote.

    -William Jennings Bryan's best state was Nevada (71%). His worst state was Rhode Island where he received 10% of the vote.

    -Henry Cabot Lodge's best state was Massachusetts (53%). His worst state was South Carolina, where he received 1% of the vote. He was not on the ballot in every state.

    -Eugene Debs' best state was Nevada (7%). He received less than 1% of the vote in multiple states. He was not on the ballot in every state.

    Regional Results:




    George Dewey was very popular in the Northeast, unusually so for a Democrat. This was also where more than half of Lodge's supporters lived. Robert La Follette came close in many of these states, especially Bulkeley's home state of Connecticut. Bryan also made a surprisingly respectable showing in these states, winning 20% in Maine. Lodge came in first place in New England while Dewey won the Mid-Atlantic states of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

    George Dewey won 1,112,997 votes (27.68%).
    Henry Cabot Lodge won 1,077,743 votes (27.00%).
    Robert La Follette won 969,870 votes (24.12%).
    William Jennings Bryan won 751,126 votes (18.68%).
    Eugene Debs won 86,359 votes (2.15%).
    Other candidates won 40,377 votes (1.00%).

    New England:

    Henry Cabot Lodge won 370,014 votes (40.3%).
    George Dewey won 210,013 votes (22.87%).
    Robert La Follette won 196,909 votes (21.44%).
    William Jennings Bryan won 140,057 votes (15.25%).
    Other candidates won 9354 votes (1.02%).
    Eugene Debs won 9347 votes (1.02%).


    George Dewey won 902,984 votes (29.10%).
    Robert La Follette won 772,961 votes (24.91%).
    Henry Cabot Lodge won 707,729 votes (22.81%).
    William Jennings Bryan won 611,069 votes (19.69%).
    Eugene Debs won 77,012 votes (2.48%).
    Other candidates won 31,023 (1.00%).


    Robert La Follette dominated this region, winning every single state. However, Bryan had many supporters in the region and nearly won Iowa. Dewey's performance was underwhelming as he wrote off most of this region. Most of Lodge's support in this region came from Ohio and Illinois. Debs received 5% of the vote in his home state of Indiana.

    Robert La Follette won 1,841,847 votes (38.87%).
    William Jennings Bryan won 1,256,370 votes (26.52%).
    George Dewey won 989,534 votes (20.88%).
    Henry Cabot Lodge won 477,407 votes (10.08%).
    Eugene Debs won 124,416 votes (2.63%).
    Other candidates won 46,607 votes (0.98%).


    George Dewey was the strongest candidate in this region, though Bryan and La Follette made impressive showings here. La Follette actually won the highest number of votes in the Upper South as many of those states were three-way competitions. In the Deep South it was a competition between Dewey and Bryan. Alabama was strongly pro-Bryan while Georgia and Florida were likely swayed by his visits to those states. Lodge was largely irrelevant outside of certain parts of the Upper South. This region, with the exception of West Virginia, was not very receptive to Eugene Debs' message.

    George Dewey won 1,326,615 votes (31.59%).
    William Jennings Bryan won 1,301,167 votes (30.99%).
    Robert La Follette won 1,126,026 votes (26.82%).
    Henry Cabot Lodge won 333,724 votes (7.95%).
    Other candidates won 42,363 votes (1.01%).
    Eugene Debs won 39,469 votes (0.94%).

    Upper South:
    Robert La Follette won 868,449 votes (30.39%).
    George Dewey won 825,397 votes (28.89%).
    William Jennings Bryan won 802,444 votes (28.08%).
    Henry Cabot Lodge won 300,794 votes (10.52%).
    Eugene Debs won 33,405 votes (1.17%).
    Other candidates won 29,205 votes (1.02%).

    Deep South:
    George Dewey won 531,619 votes 39.65%
    William Jennings Bryan won 498,723 votes (37.20%).
    Robert La Follette won 257,527 votes (19.21%).
    Henry Cabot Lodge won 32,930 votes (2.46%).
    Other candidates won 13,158 votes (0.98%).
    Eugene Debs won 6,064 votes (0.45%).


    The West was Bryan country, especially the mountain states. Robert La Follette had considerable appeal in this region, but was ultimately unable to win more than two states (California and Oregon). Dewey was a non-factor outside of the West coast. This was Debs' best region and he out-performed Lodge in many of these states.

    William Jennings Bryan won 886,164 votes (47.42%).
    Robert La Follette won 587,427 votes (31.43%).
    George Dewey won 210,856 votes (11.28%).
    Henry Cabot Lodge won 108,327 votes (5.80%).
    Eugene Debs won 60,509 votes (3.25%).
    Other candidates won 27,495 votes (1.52%).

    Great Plains:
    William Jennings Bryan won 385,948 votes (49.14%).
    Robert La Follette won 263,553 votes (33.56%).
    George Dewey won 69,203 votes (8.81%).
    Henry Cabot Lodge won 33,352 votes (4.25%).
    Eugene Debs won 23,245 votes (2.96%).
    Other candidates won 12,149 votes (1.55%).

    Mountain West:
    William Jennings Bryan won 315,370 votes (59.79%).
    Robert La Follette won 132,618 votes (25.14%).
    George Dewey won 28,500 votes (5.40%).
    Eugene Debs won 26,047 votes (4.94%).
    Henry Cabot Lodge won 16,185 votes (3.07%).
    Other candidates won 9,592 votes (1.82%).

    West Coast:
    Robert La Follette won 191,256 votes (34.40%).
    William Jennings Bryan won 184,846 votes (33.24%).
    George Dewey won 113,153 votes (20.35%).
    Henry Cabot Lodge won 58,790 votes (10.57%).
    Eugene Debs won 11,217 votes (2.02%).
    Other candidates won 5,754 votes (1.03%).
    Chapter XIII, The Sun Sets on Spain
  • The Philippines were seen by many as the last remaining symbol of Spanish power. And this is one of the reasons that the Spanish government desperately tried to keep the islands under its control. In late 1900 Práxedes Mateo Sagasta replaced Cánovas as Prime Minister. Within a few months of taking office, he realized that things were going from bad to worse in the Philippines. The rebels reversed most of the progress made by the Spanish military by New Year’s Day of 1902. While his predecessor would have simply thrown more men at the problem, Sagasta saw the writing on the wall. In 1902 the Spanish government discontinued its Repoblación program (though few Spaniards wanted to participate in it by that point). The majority of those in government agreed that at least some of the Spanish East Indies must be sold before they were lost. Some hardline supporters of the Dos Equis Movement protested, but for everyone else the question was not if Spain should sell its colonies, but how many colonies it should sell and who it should sell them to.

    A large faction within the Spanish Cortez believed that Spain could still hold on to Luzon. They couldn’t come to terms with abandoning Manilla. This all changed when rebels besieged the city in June of 1902. Though they lost they inflicted high casualties on the Spanish garrison. Meanwhile, across Spain, small anti-war protests were organized. The protests grew and became outlets for people to express their frustrations against the current system and agitate for Democratic reform. Some called on the government to allow for more competition against the established Partido Liberal-Conservador (Liberal-Conservative Party) and Partido Liberal (Liberal Party). These two parties agreed to the Turno Pacifico (Peaceful Turn) where they would have alternating periods of power. One of the large groups that sought to challenge the two-party system was the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (Spanish Socialist Workers Party). They were well-organized and quickly took over the protests in Madrid, Seville, and Barcelona. The protesters called for a complete withdrawal of Spain from most of its colonies and they were joined by many veterans.

    As all of this was happening, Prime Minister Sagasta died on August 1, 1902 at the age of 77. That same day, Spanish soldiers in Madrid fired on a group of protestors, killing several and injuring many more. Then, some of the more revolutionary-minded protestors decided to strike back. In every major Spanish city, riots erupted. By the time Eugenio Montero Ríos assumed his duties as the new prime minister the situation was spiraling out of control. His government decided to give in to some of the demands, particularly the democratic reforms. The government announced that there would be free and fair elections held in 1904. Some of the more violent revolutionaries were deported to Puerto Rico, however. While peace was restored at home, peace seemed far away in the Philippines. By 1903 every departing ship seemed to carry droves of Spanish citizens desperate to go to Guam, Aichow, or anywhere else. It was also apparent that the rebels were receiving arms from foreign nations, Spain suspected Japan.


    (Philippine Rebels)

    The first country to offer payment for Spanish colonies was Italy. However, it did not offer enough money. Germany and Japan were also potential buyers. However, the eventual buyer turned out to be an old enemy. The United States approached Spain in 1904 and offered to buy the Philippines. The Senate narrowly approved the purchase and by August of 1904 the transaction was complete. Us President William Jennings Bryan felt sorry about his failure to liberate the Philippines and believed that if the US did not buy the islands, the Philippine people would be subject to another cruel Darwinian Imperial power in Spain’s place. He was also concerned that, in case he lost reelection in November, a future administration would annex the Philippines and make it a US colony. Thus by purchasing the islands, Bryan denied the imperialists a victory. The Philippines would be made an independent nation, allied with the United States.

    On August 16, 1904, Spain officially announced that its soldiers would withdraw from the Philippines. On February 16, 1905, the Spanish flag was lowered for the last time in Manilla. Spanish Governor-General Fernando Rivero de Rivera was booed by locals as he embarked on a ship headed for Spain. And just like that, centuries of Spanish rule came to an end. Once all the soldiers and government officials were gone, there were great celebrations. Later that year, Emilio Aguinaldo would be elected as the first President of the Philippines. Even before the last Spanish soldiers left, American businessmen began to trickle in. That trickle became a flood over the next decade. After Bryan left office, the American presence on the island began to take the form of military bases.


    (Emilio Aguinaldo, First President of the Philippines)

    The people in Spain who still supported the Dos Equis Movement were furious. But there was not much they could do. Their presence in the Spanish Conservative Party was a liability to that party’s electoral prospects. Many within the party wanted to be rid of them. Their influence in government continued to wane. In 1905 their remaining supporters were further infuriated when the rest of the Spanish possessions in the Pacific were sold to Germany. Spain and Germany became allies shortly afterwards. The Dos Equis Movement became a target of mockery worldwide. In a 1905 meeting with government officials, Mexican President Porfirio Diaz reportedly grabbed a bottle of Dos Equis beer and sarcastically announced the beginning of a Mexican century; that Mexico was going to retake the American Southwest, and that they were also going to conquer China. This story may not be true, but it shows how Spanish Imperialists became the laughing stock of the world.

    -Excerpt from The Dos Equis Movement, Spain's last gasp for power, by Ona Andreu, Seville Press, 1997.
    Chapter XIV, The Emperor Against the Dowager
  • 525px-BoxerTroops.jpg

    China is a civilization with a long and proud history. But by the end of the 19th century it was a nation in decline. It was reeling from defeat in the two Opium Wars and the Sino-Japanese War. Only decades earlier, they had dealt with the bloody Taiping Rebellion. Making things worse, the ruling Qing Dynasty was allergic to reform. The Empress Dowager Cixi even had the Guangxu Emperor placed under house arrest after he tried to implement reforms. In many of China’s coastal cities, foreigners ran the show. This caused resentment from the locals that led to the creation of the 義和拳 (Yihequan), or the Fists of Harmony and Justice. This movement was known for its use of violence against foreigners and Christians. Originally the group opposed the Qing as well (seeing as the ruling dynasty was not ethnically Han). However, some members of the Qing court admired the movement’s opposition to the West.


    (Yihequan soldiers)

    The group’s violent tactics inevitably brought foreign intervention into the country. The real question was whether or not Cixi, who held the real power in the country, would openly support the Yihequan. And Cixi, along with the Qing government, supported the Yihequan. Prince Duan was an influential Qing official who favored this decision. But a large number of Qing officials broke ranks. The foreign powers of Japan, Russia, Britain, France, the United States, Germany, Italy, and Austria-Hungary were joined by friendly Qing soldiers. They took over much of China’s land. After they captured Beijing the Qing government decided to continue the war against the foreigners and they set up a new capital in Lanzhou. However, as the Qing court was on the road to Lanzhou, the emperor escaped.


    (Foreign troops in China)

    The Guangxu Emperor and a few men who helped him escape travelled to Kaifeng. He was well received by the locals. He declared that the actions of the Empress Dowager Cixi were illegitimate and so was the government at Lanzhou. On October 1, 1900, the United States became the first nation to establish diplomatic relations with the new Qing government. By the end of the year, most of the world had recognized the Qing government at Kaifeng as the legitimate Qing government. The Kaifeng government made peace with the Eight Nation Alliance. The Qing government at Lanzhou responded by claiming that the emperor was actually at Lanzhou and that the man claiming to be the Guangxu Emperor was a usurper. The so called “usurper” was little more than a puppet of Western powers and Japan, according to official propaganda. The Yihequan that remained within pro-Kaifeng territory would wage a guerilla war against the foreign soldiers and friendly Chinese forces.


    (Left: Empress Dowager Cixi, Right: Guangxu Emperor)

    The majority of the Chinese population did not believe the propaganda coming from Lanzhou. Much of the Qing military defected. In January of 1901 the city of Luoyang was captured by pro-Kaifeng forces, giving them control of all of Henan. However, to the South, pro-Lanzhou soldiers and Yihequan fighters joined forces and gained ground against pro-Kaifeng forces in Sichuan and Yunnan. They took advantage of the chaos caused by the assassination of several pro-Kaifeng generals by the Yihequan. Prince Duan was then dispatched to the ancient city of Xi’an, which he would fortify. Xi’an became the most important city in China for both sides. Guangxu’s generals believed that the war would end quickly if the city was captured. However, his forces were in no position to do that yet.

    Meanwhile, Russian forces invaded China from the North and West, defeating the pro-Lanzhou forces in the region. They would be given a larger sphere of influence in China if the pro-Kaifeng forces won. The Kaifeng government also granted a concession to Spain in exchange for money and weapons. This seemed insignificant at the time but in later years the Spanish presence at Aichow would be the impetus for a much larger event. Of course Cixi made sure that this was put to good use, claiming it proved that the Kaifeng government was a puppet of the foreign powers. The Lanzhou government went on the offensive throughout 1901, hoping to secure as much territory as they could while pro-Kaifeng forces were still disorganized. They won many battles in Southern China, and pushed into Henan province. There they fought the Second Battle of Luoyang on June 1, 1901.

    The two sides were roughly equal in numbers, with the Lanzhou forces having a slight advantage when the Yihequan were accounted for. Cixi’s generals hoped for a decisive victory that would open the road to Kaifeng. Before the battle, a Yihequan assassin slipped into the city and killed pro-Kaifeng general Yuan Shikai. Then, the commanding officer of the Lanzhou forces, Dong Fuxiang, ordered an attack. Despite the confusion caused by the death of their general, pro-Kaifeng forces held firm, and Dong’s advance slowed. The stalemate was broken when Japanese and American troops, low on ammunition and cut off from allies, made a heroic bayonet charge. While they took high casualties, their actions scared their enemy and rallied their allies. The tide of the battle began to turn. By June 11, Dong ordered a retreat from the city. Over 20,000 were dead on both sides.


    (General Dong Fuxiang)

    After the victory at Luoyang, the Kaifeng forces regrouped under Nie Shicheng (who defected early in the war), and then marched towards Xi’an. Portugal was then brought into the conflict when Yihequan attacked Portuguese citizens in Macao. Portuguese troops clashed with Yihequan in Southern China and defeated them. By 1902 the Yihequan ceased to be a threat in Yunnan, Guizhou, and most of Sichuan. Thus, pro-Kaifeng forces began to close in on Xi’an from both the East and the South. The Kaifeng army that arrived from the East fought a few indecisive skirmishes with the Yihequan and Lanzhou forces in the later months of 1901 and the earlier months of 1902. But when the Southern forces arrived, it was time to lay siege to Xi’an. On April 4, 1902, the bombardment of Xi’an began.

    A few days later, the numerically superior (325,000 to 220,000) Kaifeng and foreign troops invaded the city. Prince Duan commanded the garrison to fight to the last man against the foreigners and their puppets. Within two days it was clear that the Kaifeng soldiers were gaining the upper hand. While the Yihequan continued to fight ferociously, the regular pro-Lanzhou Qing soldiers began to surrender en-masse. It took about three weeks to secure the city, as some units continued to fight on. At the end of the battle Prince Duan was captured and taken as a prisoner of war. Over 100,000 Lanzhou troops were taken prisoner, many of which decided to switch sides. Around 35,000 Lanzhou troops escaped Xi’an. Meanwhile, Kaifeng casualties were less than 40,000. After the battle the Guangxu Emperor thanked all the foreign soldiers that had helped him thus far. He then requested that the foreign powers begin to withdraw from China’s interior as Chinese soldiers should be the ones who deal the final blow to the Lanzhou government. Most foreign powers were already planning on doing this.


    (Left: Prince Duan, Right Nie Shicheng)

    There was panic in the Qing court at Lanzhou after the fall of Xi’an. Some advocated surrender, but they were harshly rebuked by the Yihequan leaders who had gained influence in government. Others suggested retreating further into Western China. But Cixi declared that she would not retreat from Lanzhou, and the government came around to her position. Though Dong Fuxiang’s reputation had been damaged by his unsuccessful assault on Luoyang, the Lanzhou government recognized that he was their best general. Thus he was recalled from the North, where he had won some minor victories against the Russians, and tasked with the defense of Gansu province and Lanzhou in particular. Cao Futian, leader of the Yihequan, ordered scorched earth tactics against the advancing Kaifeng forces. Much of the countryside in Shaanxi and Gansu was devastated. In Lanzhou-controlled territory, people suspected of being Kaifeng sympathizers (Christians and people with ties to foreign nations) were rounded up and summarily executed.

    The Lanzhou government was given a short reprieve however, as relations between Kaifeng and Moscow broke down. While the other foreign powers were withdrawing their troops to their respective concessions, Russia ignored the Emperor’s request. Russia wanted to annex parts of Qing territory and desired a much larger sphere of influence than the Kaifeng government originally agreed to give them. Chinese soldiers were sent north to persuade the Russians to stay in their allotted sphere of influence. Russian forces refused and battles broke out in Manchuria and Inner Mongolia. Russia was surprised by the strength and resilience of the Chinese soldiers. Japan then sent an ultimatum that threatened war if Russian troops did not withdraw back into Manchuria. Britain also condemned Russian aggression and prepared itself for a possible war. Out of all the major powers, only France took Russia’s side. Tsar Nicholas II decided not to risk a war against two, possibly three nations. He gave in to China’s demands.

    Guangxu then turned his attention towards finishing off the Lanzhou government. In November of 1902 Longnan, defended entirely by Yihequan, fell. By 1903 Kaifeng forces were mere kilometers from Lanzhou. Dong Fuxiang’s army was in poor morale, and whittled down by mass desertions. It numbered 70,000. It was no match for the 250,000 Kaifeng troops under the command of Nie Shicheng. Battle came in February and it was short, the outcome a foregone conclusion. General Dong surrendered the city, and a peace treaty was signed. All remaining pro-Lanzhou forces were ordered to surrender, which most did. It was then discovered that the Empress Dowager Cixi had died weeks ago. The Yihequan continued to resist, and their numbers were augmented by some diehard pro-Lanzhou soldiers. They waged a guerilla war for the next few years, but by 1906 they were defeated. The last recorded Yihequan activity was a failed attack on a group of foreign diplomats in Beijing.

    Excerpt from Guangxu, Jiang Jieshi, Beijing Books, 1933.
    Chapter XV, The Admiral Takes Office
  • 220px-George_Dewey_calendar_cover_cph.3g09041.jpg

    George Dewey’s inaugural address, while certainly respectable, was somewhat boring compared to the fiery speeches America had heard from their president for the last eight years. Indeed, Dewey is generally considered to be an ordinary president who served between two extraordinary presidents. Bryan was usually in the middle of the action, directly making the case for his policies to Congress and the American people. Dewey, in contrast to his predecessor and his successor, took a more conservative view of the role of the executive office. During his time in office, he mostly let Congress run the country. Much of the American public was happy with this, as they saw the previous administration as going too far in the opposite direction. Dewey would be a Democrat much more in line with Grover Cleveland than William Jennings Bryan.

    -Excerpt from The Guide to the Executive Mansion, an in Depth Look at America's Presidents, Benjamin Buckley, Harvard Press, 1999.

    For Secretary of State, Dewey chose Representative John Sharp Williams of Mississippi. His Secretary of the Treasury was Senator David B. Hill of New York. Secretary of War, previously held by former Confederate John T. Morgan, was now held by George McClellan Jr. of New York. For Attorney General; Senator Charles Allen Culberson of Texas was selected. Representative Theodore Bell of California was chosen as the new Postmaster General. The new Secretary of the Navy was Senator Joseph R. Burton of Kansas. The new Secretary of the Interior was Senator Paris Gibson of Montana. And the new Secretary of Agriculture was Benjamin Shively of Indiana.

    When Congress convened in 1905, there was a clear Republican majority in both Houses. House Speaker Whitelaw Reid had blocked the admission of new states in the previous Congress, since he saw it as an attempt by Bryan to increase his odds in the Electoral College. With Bryan out of the way, he allowed for a vote. Congress authorized statehood referendums in the Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona Territories. Oklahoma was admitted as the 46th state in 1905. However, the issue of the Indian Territory was not resolved and would not be until well after Dewey’s Presidency. On most maps at the time it was shown as a part of the state of Oklahoma, though legally it remained a separate entity. In 1907 New Mexico and Arizona were admitted as the 47th and 48th states, respectively.

    In 1905, the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed. Now, Senators would be directly elected by the people instead of their state legislatures. This was a major policy agenda for William Jennings Bryan, and it was finally achieved after he left office. This was not the only Bryan policy that was successful under new management. The environmental conservation that had begun under the Bryan Administration and led by Secretary of the Interior Fred Dubois was continued. Large areas of land, mostly in the West, were preserved from exploitation. Bryan supporters had many reasons to be happy with the direction of the country despite the absence of their man in Washington.

    -Excerpt from America's Admiral, Arnold Warner, Howard Publishing Co., 1945.

    In 1906 supporters of the Gold Standard made a last-ditch attempt to enact their agenda. The majority of Republicans were still pro-Gold Standard, not just those who supported Lodge in 1904. They hoped that enough Conservative Democrats would join them to make up for the votes of pro-Silver Republicans. In the end, they didn’t have the votes for a repeal of Bimetallism. Republicans also passed a bill to increase tariffs. This passed both the House and the Senate. Dewey did not sign the bill but neither did he veto it. This caused some uproar amongst Democrats. Dewey was almost certain that 1908’s convention was not going to be a pleasant affair.

    -Excerpt from America's Silver Age, Edward S. Scott, Patriot Publishers, 2017.
    Chapter XVI, Mr. Ex-President
  • William Jennings Bryan’s defeat in 1904 came as a surprise. He strongly believed he was going to win. However, he was not angry. He said that the results were God’s way of telling him he needed to go back home. When he returned to Nebraska he was given a hero’s welcome. Yet, he couldn’t stay still for long. In 1905 he went on a speaking tour of the West. He did this to reward the people of a region that was loyal to him and that he didn’t campaign in. On his tour he emphasized the need for unity. He said that he held no ill will against George Dewey, and that he was a fine president. He also stated in no uncertain terms that he would not run for president in 1908. His brother, Charles W. Bryan, was elected governor of Nebraska as a Democrat, not a Populist.

    In 1906 Bryan decided to go and see the world. Cuba was the natural starting point. When he arrived he was immediately hailed as “El Libertador” for helping the island nation win its independence. In the first decade of its independence, Cuba saw the deaths of two presidents. Calixto Garcia lasted less than a year and his successor, Máximo Gómez, died in 1905. It was Cuba’s third president, Emilio Núñez, who met with Bryan. Bryan gave Núñez advice on leading a nation, as he was shown the various sights in Havana. The new Cuban government pursued similar policies as the US government, even adopting Bimetallism. Núñez himself was educated in America. Relations between the two nations would be close for the foreseeable future.


    (Emilio Núñez, third President of Cuba)

    Next year the ex-President went to Europe. The main stops were Britain, France, Germany, and Russia. Bryan’s mission was to promote peace and mutual understanding. And he was received well. He spoke with royalty and other powerful players in European politics. Some leaders he liked more than others. Despite his anti-Imperialist stance and distaste for monarchy, Bryan got along well with King Edward VII. He also got along fine with Tsar Nicholas II. He had no issues with French President Émile Loubet, either. He was not so impressed with Kaiser Wilhelm, however. In Germany he saw what he believed the imperialists wanted America to be like. In Russia, he met with author Leo Tolstoy, and the two quite enjoyed each other’s company [1]. Before returning to America Bryan visited Vienna and praised Austria-Hungary for not involving itself in the race for colonies. He also developed a lifelong friendship with future Emperor Franz Ferdinand.

    (Leo Tolstoy, Russian author)

    The trip was considered a success. President Dewey sent Bryan, along with other American politicians, to China in order to strengthen Sino-American ties. The Guangxu Emperor admired America and saw it as the only major foreign power that did not seek to exploit China. The Qing Dynasty was transitioning into a constitutional monarchy and they sought outside advice on writing a constitution. China would look to America in forming a new government, and the European powers and Japan in reforming its military. China held elections for a provisional government in 1906 after the last organized opposition to the emperor was defeated. Bryan met with the Emperor and many of the elected officials of the provisional government. He especially enjoyed the company of Sun Yat-sen, a fellow Christian and reformer. Bryan was influential in putting freedom of speech and religious freedom in the new Constitution. In the end, the Chinese Constitution established a bicameral legislature and an independent judiciary. It was very similar to the US system of government with the important exception of a hereditary executive. Many modern historians claim that Bryan’s influence on the Chinese Constitution is overstated and that the perception of his importance in the project is little more than “White Man’s Burden” mentality.

    -Excerpt from Spokesman for America, the diplomacy of William Jennings Bryan, Phyllis Ortwin, Carolina, 2009.

    1: Leo Tolstoy and William Jennings Bryan were big fans of each other and met OTL. Tolstoy had a picture of Bryan on his wall.
    Chapter XVII, A Forgotten President
  • Though much happened during Dewey’s presidency, he is largely a forgotten president. Most of the significant domestic events during his administration were acts of Congress or state legislatures. The one area where he did get involved was foreign policy. He actively pursued trade and friendship with China and Japan. He essentially continued the Bryan policy of America being the “world’s good guy.” The United States generally tried to keep good will with all nations. One way in which he departed from Bryan on foreign policy was the establishment of an American military presence in the Philippines. President Dewey also denounced the Belgian government for the atrocities committed in the Congo. He even threatened to cut off diplomatic relations with the small European kingdom. Eventually, the Belgian government took control of its African colony away from the crown. However, this was more a result of condemnation from other European powers.

    -Excerpt from The Guide to the Executive Mansion, an in Depth Look at America's Presidents, Benjamin Buckley, Harvard Press, 1999.

    Dewey had to face the discontented elements of his own party. He thanked God that Bryan wasn’t getting himself involved in this election. The other major Populist rabble-rouser, William Randolph Hearst, decided to not get involved in either the Democratic or Populist Presidential nominations. This meant that the Populist Party was not going to be the threat that it was in 1904. All Dewey had to do was win the nomination and then he would have most Democrats on his side. As Dewey himself challenged a sitting President for the nomination it was only fair that he too would receive a challenge at the convention. Former Colorado Governor William Hope Harvey was a favorite of Western Delegates who felt no love for Dewey. Various favorite sons, mostly from the South, also competed. In the end, Dewey won convincingly. Minnesota Governor John Johnson was selected as his running mate.


    (John Johnson)

    Most people expected the GOP to nominate Senator Leonard Wood for President, and rising star Representative Theodore Roosevelt for Vice President. But the majority of delegates were convinced that Roosevelt would be a better candidate and they nominated him for President and Wood for Vice President. Unlike in 1904, the Republican Party of 1908 would be unified with only minor exceptions. Dewey was confident of his chances against Wood, but not Roosevelt. In order to win, he would need to carry the entire South and then carry enough States in the West and hope for victory in states like New Jersey or Ohio. And it needed to be an outright victory in the Electoral College. If the election went to the House it would be a clear Republican victory. The election hinged on the loyalty of diehard Bryan supporters. Would they follow Charles Bryan’s advice and remain loyal Democrats or would they fall to Roosevelt and the Republicans?


    (Left: Theodore Roosevelt, Right: Leonard Wood)

    Technically, there were other options for Bryan voters as well. The Populists nominated Bryan’s 1904 running mate Thomas Watson of Georgia for President and Representative Caldwell Edwards of Montana for Vice President. But the majority of people who voted for the Populist ticket in 1904 only did so out of loyalty to William Jennings Bryan. There was also Socialist candidate Bill Haywood of Utah, with his running mate Carl Thompson, a minister from Wisconsin. In 1904 the Socialist Labor Party fell under the radar as there were four major candidates for President. This year would see their support greatly increase and they won several local elections. However, for most Americans 1908 was a contest between Dewey and Roosevelt.

    The main focus of both major party campaigns was the states on the Ohio River. The more sparsely populated West was a mystery even for political experts. Some thought that Bryan’s legacy would be enough to keep most of the region in the Democratic column. Others pointed out that Dewey received few votes in the West in 1904. Roosevelt was popular in the region and some predicted a Republican sweep of those states accordingly. Others thought that that the region would be split, or that the Populists or Socialists might take some states. Ultimately, Dewey was trounced in the West as he was in most places outside the South. Roosevelt was simply a lot more popular than Dewey. Voters also wanted a change after sixteen years of Democrat rule.

    -Excerpt from America's Silver Age, Edward S. Scott, Patriot Publishers, 2017.


    Theodore Roosevelt (R-NY)/Leonard Wood (R-NH), 6,775,701 votes (49.10%), 300 Electoral Votes
    George Dewey (D-VT)/John Johnson (D-MN), 5,620,658 votes (40.73%), 180 Electoral Votes
    Thomas Watson (P-GA)/Caldwell Edwards (P-MT), 594,771 votes (4.31%), 7 Electoral Votes [1]
    Bill Haywood (S-UT)/Carl Thompson (S-WI), 534,052 votes (3.87%), 0 Electoral Votes
    Others[2], 274,616 votes (1.99%), 1 Electoral Vote

    Dewey’s last act as President was the modernization of America’s Navy, which he felt had been neglected under the Bryan administration. After leaving office in 1909 he would gradually fade from America’s collective memory. Nearly every American (as well as many foreigners) knows a thing or two about William Jennings Bryan and Theodore Roosevelt. But mentions of George Dewey are often met with blank stares. Few would rank him at the top of America’s greatest Presidents, but even fewer would rank him near the bottom. The economy was in a fair condition and the people were generally happy. He wasn’t a highly effective leader, but America was not facing any major crises that required strong leadership. Some conservative historians in later years came to appreciate Dewey’s hands-off approach to government that distinguished himself from the rest of America’s Presidents in the early 20th century.

    -Excerpt from America's Admiral, Arnold Warner, Howard Publishing Co., 1945.

    1: 6 faithless electors from Georgia and one from Nevada
    2: Mostly Prohibition and various write-ins, the electoral vote was from New Hampshire and it was for for Leonard Wood.
    Supreme Court in 1909
  • Chief Justice of the Supreme Court:

    Melville Fuller
    Born February 11, 1833
    Grover Cleveland Appointee (1888)


    Associate Justices of the Supreme Court:

    John Marshall Harlan
    Born June 1, 1833
    Rutherford B. Hayes Appointee (1877)


    David Josiah Brewer
    Born June 20, 1837
    Benjamin Harrison Appointee (1889)


    George Shiras Jr.
    Born January 26, 1832
    Benjamin Harrison Appointee (1892)


    Edward Douglass White
    Born November 3, 1845
    Grover Cleveland Appointee (1894)


    Rufus Wheeler Peckham
    New York
    Born November 8, 1838
    Grover Cleveland Appointee (1895)


    Walter McKenzie Clark
    North Carolina
    Born August 19, 1846
    William Jennings Bryan Appointee (1899)


    John Worth Kern
    Born December 20, 1849
    William Jennings Bryan Appointee (1902)


    Alton Brooks Parker
    New York
    Born May 14, 1852
    George Dewey Appointee (1906)