Crimson Banners Fly: The Rise of the American Left

Not open for further replies.
Part 2: Chapter IV - Page 24 - 1898 Election Results
1898 Congressional Elections


Republican: 45 (+1)
Democratic: 31 (-3)
Populist: 5 (0)
Silver Republican: 3 (-2)
Silver: 2 (0)

Democratic: 181 (+45)
Republican: 163 (-30)
Populist: 8 (-15)
Silver Republican: 2 (-1)
Silver: 1 (0)
Independent: 2 (+1)

House of Representatives Leadership
Speaker John J. Lentz (D-OH)
Minority Leader Joseph G. Cannon (R-IL)
Minority Leader John Calhoun Bell (Pop-CO)
Minority Leader John Franklin Shafroth (SR-CO)

In his first two years serving as president, William J. Bryan had the displeasure of dealing with the uncooperative, Republican-majority 55th Congress. His legislative agenda had been weakened to the point of nonrecognition. Every single plank put forward by the Nebraskan president - from comprehensive labor protections, to sweeping anti-trust regulations, to the institution of Free Silver - was either watered down to its core or outright defeated. Bryan needed a Democratic Congress to achieve any measure of true success.

The 56th Congress only met him halfway. Taking place in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War and just prior to the ratification debate in Congress, the 1898 congressional elections resulted in a noteworthy boost for the Democratic Party. Perhaps it was due to success overseas or the realization that Bryan would not doom the economy, or even straightforward frustration with Republican stonewalling, but it appeared as though the general public favored Bryan more so than it did in 1896. The preceding match for control over the House ended in Republicans losing 61 of its mammoth-sized 253 seats. Now, it lost an additional 30. These losses in conjunction with Populists' fusionist tactics allowed for the Democrats to retake the House of Representatives with one seat to spare.

Minority Leader Joseph W. Bailey, a conservative, states' rights Democrat largely out-of-step with the trajectory of the party, would refuse to stand for the speakership election. The Democrats nominated Ohioan reformer John J. Lentz to to this position, and by the following March he would succeed Thomas Reed as the House speaker. Lentz stood side-by-side with President Bryan and respected his platform (aside from the currency issue). Upon his election, Lentz worked to ensure that his title remained just as powerful as it had been in Reed's hand, and in this he had little trouble. Republicans, meanwhile, eventually designated the colorful, pugnacious Illinois Representative Joseph Gurney Cannon as their minority leader, bucking any speculation that the party would grant its Western delegation a role in leadership.

In the interim since Bryan was elected, pro-reform, populist-like Democrats ousted Bourbon factions across the country in state assemblies and offices. The ruling Bourbonite branches in the Midwest were decimated in the 1897 and 1898 statewide elections, leaving few to resist Bryan's influence. Concurrently, many of these same state legislatures swapped from Republican to Democratic majorities. One may imagine that this amounted to a flashing red danger sign for Senate GOP incumbents, however one would be mistaken.

As fortune would have it, the Class 1 grouping of senators was up for re-election in 1898, and this class did not house many vulnerable Republicans. This group last faced election in 1892, when President Cleveland won his huge electoral victory and brought with him a tenuous Democratic majority in the Senate. Therefore, even with popular support for Bryan reaching new heights and Democrats taking control of state legislatures, the Republican Party ended up expanding its Senate majority.

Democrats retained a swing seat in California, but suffered losses in New York, New Jersey, and North Dakota. One of the more shocking results of these elections was in Pennsylvania, where GOP boss Matthew Quay lost his senate seat to the former Pennsylvania Governor Robert E. Pattison. The governor, an ally of Bryan's, was prodded by local colleagues to run for the Senate once the state government narrowly flipped Democratic. Pattison edged out the incumbent by only two votes in the legislature and provided his party with a rare win in the Keystone State.

His health and memory worsening, Senator John Sherman (R-OH) retired from his legendary place in Congress in the spring of 1898. This provoked a hotly contested special election between Democratic Representative David Meekison (D-OH), a former mayor and banker, and Republican power broker Marcus Hanna. Hanna, who clawed back from the brink of obscurity after the previous presidential race, regained his prominent standing in Ohio politics and subsequently won the nomination of his party to the Senate. Hanna handily defeated Meekison for Sherman's seat.

In Delaware, the seat once held by Attorney General Gray remained vacant due to intense disagreement in the state legislature. Financier J. Edward Addicks and businessmen Henry A. du Pont both controlled factions within the state government, and these sides fought vehemently over the senate appointment. Unable to reach a compromise, Gray's seat stayed empty all throughout the 56th (and 57th) Congress. Similar failures in Florida, Utah and Washington prevented the election of three additional senators until the next congressional elections.

Senators Elected in 1898 (Class 1)
James D. Phelan (D-CA): Democratic Hold
Joseph R. Hawley (R-CT): Republican Hold
Vacant (-DE): Democratic Loss/Legislature Failed to Elect
Vacant (-FL): Democratic Loss/Legislature Failed to Elect
Albert J. Beveridge (R-IN): Republican Gain
Eugene Hale (R-ME): Republican Hold
Arthur P. Gorman (D-MD): Democratic Hold
Henry Cabot Lodge (R-MA): Republican Hold
Julius C. Burrows (R-MI): Republican Hold
Cushman Davis (R-MN): Republican Hold
Hernando Money (D-MS): Democratic Hold
Francis Cockrell (D-MO): Democratic Hold
William A. Clark (D-MT): Democratic Gain
William V. Allen (Pop-NE): Populist Hold
William M. Stewart (SR-NV): Silver Republican Hold
John Kean (R-NJ): Republican Gain
Chauncey M. Depew (R-NY): Republican Gain
Porter J. McCumber (R-ND): Republican Gain
Mark Hanna (R-OH): Republican Hold
Robert E. Pattison (D-PA): Democratic Gain
Nelson W. Aldrich (R-RI): Republican Hold
William B. Bate (D-TN): Democratic Hold
Charles Allen Culberson (D-TX): Democratic Hold
Vacant (-UT): Silver Republican Loss/Legislature Failed to Elect
Redfield Proctor (R-VT): Republican Hold
John W. Daniel (D-VA): Democratic Hold
Vacant (-WA): Republican Loss/Legislature Failed to Elect
J.F. McGraw (D-WV): Democratic Hold
Timoth E. Ryan (D-WI): Democratic Hold
John Eugene Osborne (D-WY): Democratic Gain
Part 2: Chapter V - Page 25

The White House, Washington, D.C., 1900 - Source: Wiki Source

Chapter V: The Empire Strikes Back: Shattering the Triple Alliance

President Bryan's lone motive for involving the United States in the conflict with Spain was to remedy the profound ills facing Cuba. In the beginning, he could not anticipate that men like Beveridge would capitalize on war patriotism for their own ends. Once hostilities reached an end and Stone signed the treaty, the president considered the war, and all discussion of annexation, over. Yet, with the Republican majority in the Senate unwilling to pass the Treaty of Paris in its current form, the door to empire remained open.

Bryan began to believe that if this new breed of jingoistic Republicans were to gain control over the White House, they would seek re-engagement with Spain in order to capture her territories - as well as unleash total war upon the newly independent island nations of Cuba and Puerto Rico. Congressional midterm elections were all Bryan had to settle the matter once and for all, but the existing system prevented senatorial results from matching the will of the voters. The unconventional president had little inclination to roll the dice on the next presidential election, and instead sought to enact an alternative strategy. Bryan would not allow for reckless fantasies of vast American conquests to overshadow the domestic injustices he cared so deeply for.

The 56th United States Senate had several vacant spots as a direct result of state government gridlock. Three of these four seats were expected to lean Democratic, and the fourth, an amenable Silver Republican. Should Bryan have had these votes in the Senate, along with the support of the People's and Silver parties, he would have reached 45. With 45 Republican votes to 45 Bryan votes, Vice President McLean would be the tiebreaker on all legislation. Furthermore, a tied or Democratic-led Senate perhaps would have amassed enough pressure on the GOP to fold on the ratification issue. Bryan and his cohorts thereabouts challenged the source of the troubles: the senatorial election process."
H. William Ackerman, Presidents of the Gilded Age, 2016

He may have been unable to assist in the effort to silence imperialist Republican grandstanding in this legislature, but Bryan's multi-pronged method intended to save the proceeding Congress (and administration) from a similar fate. The president personally communicated a heavily circulated address to his legislative colleagues once its first session began in December of 1899. This 'State of the Union' speech, as some historians have ruled, set the stage for his platform in the upcoming election. Bryan began with a general commendation of war veterans and the role of the U.S. as a protector of freedom abroad before shifting to the need to ratify the Treaty of Paris.

In this, Bryan softly made his way to anti-imperialism. He only touched on it briefly, comprehending the reality that his words would fall on deaf ears, but the president could hardly resist condemning a concept he so intensely despised. "The fruits of imperialism," Bryan beckoned, "be they bitter or sweet, must be left to the subjects of monarchy. This is the one tree of which the citizens of a republic may not partake. It is the voice of the serpent, not the voice of God, that bids us eat." He offered that the Republic must never repeat the mistakes of the Old World. "Imperialism might expand the nation's territory, but it would contract the nation's purpose. It is not a step forward toward a broader destiny; it is a step backward, toward the narrow views of kings and emperors."

If the intrinsic doctrine of American republicanism, government representative of the people, could be torn to slivers in the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Cuba, then perhaps it first required reinforcement back home. Here, Bryan deviated from foreign policy to domestic reform, remarking, "As the first republic founded in this hemisphere, is our fate to lead by example. In unison, we must denounce tyranny and pillar democracy." Bryan then alluded to the absolute necessity to pass two weighty reforms: Allocating Congress with the power to levy an income tax and providing for the direct election of U.S. senators. Considering that the income tax was, for all intents and purposes, ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court during Pollock v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co. and that the process to elect senators is outlined clearly in Article 1 of the Constitution, both of these reforms required constitutional amendments.

Bryan's speech was received warmly by his fellow Democrats, Populists, and clan of supportive publishers. Members of the People's Party especially applauded the reforms, with elder Representative James Weaver promising Bryan that the House would pass both amendment proposals by the year's end. William R. Hearst ran a series of headlines hailing Bryan's initiatives and echoing his evangelist sentiment, such as "Bryan to Congress: Revive Democracy." Even some congressional Republicans nodded along at the mention of electoral reform. It seemed Bryan struck a chord that rose above party lines.
Does Spain still controls the Philippines?

The topic will come up later in the TL, but to answer your question, Spain would no longer control the Philippines.
The Philippine Revolution ran its course and a militarily exhausted Spain would retreat by the end of the century.
Nice, although I assume this American left isn't going to result in an American Revolution and result in something more akin to the Communist Party of France than the Bolsheviks.
Part 2: Chapter V - Page 26

Proposal for the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution - Source: Wiki Commons

As predicted by Congressman Weaver, the House of Representatives passed joint-resolutions proposing amendments regarding the income tax and for the direct election of senators on December 23rd and December 29th respectively. Speaker Lentz enthusiastically backed both of these, later stating, "It is essential to the longevity of our republic that we modernize our political system in the coming century. If we fail to rise to the task, we have no business governing." House Majority Whip Oscar Underwood (D-AL) ensured complete Democratic backing for both proposals, reportedly insisting to reluctant Bourbons that the implementation of the income tax would end economic reliance on the tariff. Republican representatives were somewhat split on the initiatives, but enough moderates broke from Cannon's conservative faction to allow passage.

The Senate reacted with far less warmth. Although Bryan steadily gained support from even hardliner Cleveland Democrats (a far cry from their staunch opposition in the 55th Congress), leading Republicans rallied hard against the two amendments and seemed intent on stonewalling progress just as they had with the Paris Treaty. The minority Democrats chose first to focus in on the electoral reform resolution, and fought heartily, against all odds, for the Republican leadership to concur on its introduction.

Uninterested, Old Guard leaders, predominantly from the Northeast, waved away the notion that the resolution would be brought before the legislature. Senator William E. Chandler (R-NH) stated, "The Senate, as it did in [1893], shall not consider it." "The responsibility for the election of senators," exclaimed Senator Hoar in his denouncement, "would pass from honored state delegates to the whims [of the] mob." Chandler and Hoar, accompanied by Thomas Platt, Henry C. Lodge, Chauncey Depew, and Joseph Hawley (R-CT), composed the core of the opposition.

Democrats, Populists, and a handful of Western Republicans encouraged prompt action in the upper house, but the Republican majority disapproved. Outraged by constant senatorial inaction, pro-Bryan newspapers and magazines appealed straight to the electorate, urging them to write Congress with their opinion on the amendments. Pulitzer and Hearst sparked the call, but other state and local publishers - even some who supported Harrison in 1896 - amplified it in a rare nonpartisan engagement. In response, the people roared back. It took until March for the reports to be released, but letters addressed to resistant senators indeed poured in by the tens of thousands. The overwhelming majority of these fervently favored passage. Public sentiment, evident through these letters and a slew of pro-reform editorials in the mainstream press, sided with Bryan.

Faced with the bitter reality that this shift in the zeitgeist could serve to assist in Bryan's re-election, Senate Republicans somberly allowed for the resolutions to reach the floor. Proponents in the legislature struck hard and fast when debate ensued, explicitly referring to the inexcusable actions by "corrupt" and "aristocratic" multi-term senators. "The state appointment system," blustered Populist Senator Allen, "is an affront to democracy as we know it. Jurisdiction over this body mustn't be decided through villainous means." Allen charged, accurately so, that the present system was leading to unjust bribery and extortion of the state legislatures. Nefarious behavior, he found, was utilized by influential politicians as a gateway to the Senate. Reform-minded senators generally concurred.

Not one single amendment managed to successfully pass through Congress since 1869. The idea basically fell into the realm of impossibility. With debate over the Senate election process, however, it was likely a combination of widespread dissatisfaction following two congressional elections with vastly disparate Senate/House results, and collective embarrassment over Senate vacancies. Obviously, Bryan being president accelerated public support to a discernible degree. [...] It all came together by June (of 1900).
Bruce K. Tedesco, The Constitution: A Living Document TV Miniseries, 2002

Shortly before the end of the congressional session, the Senate voted on the resolution. Jubilant Bryan Democrats corralled the entirety of their party in addition to a sufficient number of tepid Republicans to secure the necessary two-thirds vote. Unmoved opponents like Hoar voted against passage, but the bulk of the Midwestern and Western delegations complied with public demand. The final vote for the proposal tallied 70 Aye to 17 Nay. With that, Congress adjourned.

The Senate thereafter resumed its stonewalling of Bryan's legislation. Aside from the aforementioned resolution, no other measures passed through the 56th Congress. Bryan allies hoped to gather enough support to simultaneously push for the income tax amendment, but it ultimately failed to manifest that year.
Last edited:
I just want to say thanks for writing a TL in this time period, I've never looked into the 1890s much so this is extra interesting to read.
Very minor nitpick - constitutional amendments are done as joint resolutions rather than bills and don’t go to President for signature. But really, really enjoying the timeline and look to the 1900 election with baited breath.
I just want to say thanks for writing a TL in this time period, I've never looked into the 1890s much so this is extra interesting to read.

You're welcome! Glad you're enjoying it!

Very minor nitpick - constitutional amendments are done as joint resolutions rather than bills and don’t go to President for signature. But really, really enjoying the timeline and look to the 1900 election with baited breath.

Oops - you are correct! I'll edit that bit out.
Hoping the election is worth the wait :)
Part 2: Chapter V - Page 27

Richard Olney, 34th U.S. Secretary of State - Source: Wiki Commons

Conventional wisdom pointed to the coming presidential election as a long-shot for the Republicans. The Bryan Administration's incumbency advantage contained all the keys necessary to secure re-election. Economically, the nation was sluggishly, though undeniably, recovering to a state of relative prosperity. Gross national product increased from $13 billion in 1896 to nearly $19 billion in 1900. Wages and employment were on the rise, as was the commonality of electricity and telephones in technologically developed homes.

Trade unions grew rapidly at the turn of the century. The improved economic conditions and trust in the current administration's stance on unionism influenced a notable rise in labor union membership. The American Federation of Labor, a reformist union organization headed by the cautious Samuel Gompers, became the largest such organization in the country during President Bryan's tenure. The AFL refused to directly engage in political activities or outright affiliate with any one party out of uneasiness over alienating half of its members, but it did, in effect, ally itself to Bryan's policies regarding worker protections.

Bryan's presidency disproved the fear mongering so omnipresent during his initial campaign. Not only did the nation's economy not collapse, but the administration's willingness to compromise on legislation and Secretary Stone's successful management of foreign affairs earned Bryan a reputation for sensible governance. His reforms seemed to fall in line with general public opinion, and his coalition of Democrats and Populists looked to be insurmountable. The GOP needed to move fast if it desired a win.

RNC Chairman Garret Hobart had died of a heart ailment in November of 1899, prompting the election of his successor, former Governor William McKinley to that post. McKinley, having stepped down from his three-term governorship in January of 1898, briefly retired from political life whilst remaining a guiding force in the Ohio Republican Party. The chair election itself was unevenly tilted to McKinley's favor due to Mark Hanna's handiwork - considered a returned favor following the governor's backing of Hanna's Senate campaign - and the race was over and done with rather fast. When he took up his new position as chairperson of the national party, McKinley deviated from Hobart's strict oppositionist direction and charted a novel course.

Alongside state and federal party leaders, Chairman McKinley plotted to decimate Bryan's momentum before it became unstoppable. To accomplish this task, the Republicans sought dissolution of the president's so-called 'triple alliance' of Silverites, Populists and anti-imperialists. They could no longer result to demeaning Bryan's mental fitness to serve as president, but they could, conceivably, dissuade his allies from committing their unrelenting support. These factions would only dedicate full loyalty to Bryan insofar as he spoke to their core issues. Therein lied the opportunity.

For all of his eloquent speaking abilities and stellar political instincts, William Jennings Bryan lacked the capacity to define himself on his own terms. It has been argued that Bryan's victory against Harrison was a natural result of the legendary oratory spree embarked by the former candidate. Yet, the 'Great Commoner' likely only grasped victory with the help of the liberal press - McLean, Hearst, etc. They cataloged his speeches and re-formed and edited his tone to match the target demographic of each paper. Free Silver did not arise in the Cincinnati Enquirer just as Bryan's condemnation of lynching never appeared in the Montgomery Advertiser. The electorate may indeed have been swayed by Bryan's words, but the deceptive filtering of his language is what led to his taking office.
Russell Kirk, American Politics Reconsidered: A Conservative Critique of the Twentieth Century, 1967

McKinley understood that the Republicans needed to control the narrative. The GOP fumbled the ball in this arena up to this point, but the RNC was now willing to risk experimenting with the Ohioan's hypothesis. A bargain was struck, and the die was cast.

On May 20th, 1900, just before the Senate's final vote on the amendment, Harper's Weekly released a contentious editorial regarding President Bryan. It alleged that Bryan's retreat on the currency issue was planned beforehand, and that he did not intend on bringing up the issue in Congress in the case of his re-election. The article cited specific statements from several prominent Gold Democrats, including former Representative William B. Cockran (D-NY) and Cleveland's State Secretary, Richard Olney. It seemed, according to these individuals, that the Bryan Administration agreed to back off on Free Silver in exchange for the support of the Bourbon faction of the party.

Olney reiterated various consultations with Bryan men and presented the arrangement in black-and-white. "[Bryan], of course, personally supported bimetallism, and I have no reason to doubt his aim to implement it. The facts were, as thus. [The Coinage Restoration bill] was doomed to fail in Washington. It is, and was, a dead concept. Olney continued, alleging that Bryan's associates, knowing the bill could not be saved, pushed Speaker Reed to proceed with debate as a deliberate false front. "Thereabouts, the party unites and moves on. Bryan is permitted to claim, 'I gave it my all,' and his radical supporters are none the wiser."

Tactically, the described conspiracy made sense. In one fell swoop, the Bryan Administration stood to eliminate as worthwhile threats both the People's Party as well as the National Democratic Party. He could speak just enough about Populistic measures to retain their support from 1896 and leave no risk of generating apathy, while simultaneously delivering so little that the Bourbons could endure supporting him. Giving credence to the idea, Gold Democrats did certainly support all of Bryan's legislation beyond the Coinage Restoration bill, and there was no indication that the conservatives planned on challenging his nomination. "Bryan could thread the needle," Cockran stated. "Everyone sees the president they wish to see."
Last edited:
Part 2: Chapter V - Page 28

New York Herald Headline, November 11th, 1898 - Source: Wiki Commons

The Harper's article proved a significant blow to President Bryan. Political historians have since largely concurred that, although there may have been an element of truth behind the tale, the details from Olney's perspective were fabricated. Today we have little evidence to prove the validity of the claim one way or another, yet knowing the moral character of Bryan it is unlikely that he fostered a corrupt bargain with Gold Democrats. The rise of postwar imperialist sentiment already bound business Democrats close to the standard bearer for anti-imperialism, so, by 1900, Bryan could have gone full-throttle for Silver and retained their begrudging support. Not to mention, Olney also had reason to spite Bryan, considering the American Safeguards Act particularly humiliated the former state secretary.

In the moment, however, the accusations printed in that editorial rattled the Bryan Coalition to its core. No longer was currency the most pressing national issue for the Democratic Party, yet agrarian Silverites remained central components to Bryan's base. The president could not afford the disenchantment of this group nor allow for his character to be violated. Pro-Silver clubs and state party factions across the country led the effort to elect Bryan in 1896. Should these forces abandon their leader out of a sense of distrust and either swap party allegiance or abstain from voting altogether, Bryan would be hard-pressed to win the Western United States.

Dampening of Silver Democrats' allegiance to Bryan was worrying, but losing the vote of the Populists would be devastating. The People's Party itself actually dissipated dramatically since the last general election. Weaver and the Populist congressional delegation advocated fusionist tactics so fiercely by 1898 that it became more attractive to run as a populist-leaning Democrat than a pure Populist. The election of "the People's President" was viewed by many of the fusionists as a vindication of their ideology, and they fervently supported coalescing around the Democratic president, even when doing so jeopardized or countered the very policies espoused in the Omaha Platform.

Membership of the People's Party halved between 1896 and 1900, despite Bryan's presidency. Many Southern Populists gravitated back to the Democrats, and hundreds of the party's representatives were resoundingly booted out if they refused to fuse. The cross-racial economic policies applauded by some in the People's Party and Farmer's Alliance became out-favored by white supremacist reaction. Nowhere was this quite so apparent than in Wilmington, North Carolina, when an insurgent white militia, specifically citing a defense of "Anglo-Saxon... civilization" forcibly overthrew the democratically elected Populist city government and violently intimidated and assaulted black neighborhoods. Dozens of black men and women were killed. Detestable racist sentiment overshadowed all else in Wilmington, as it would do so throughout the South as the region delved deeper into 'Jim Crow' segregationist policies. Of this, Bryan spared few words and refused to intervene.

Those on the left-wing of the People's Party who passionately disagreed with the leadership's decision to advocate for involvement in the Democratic Party were also attracted to other, more radical, political organizations and affiliations. Burgeoning ideas concerning collective ownership of property progressively supplanted the Populists' nineteenth century vision of agrarian republicanism as the leading Leftist tendency in the United States. Class inequality ran just as rampant under Bryan as it had under Cleveland and Harrison, and any halfway reforms were craven, or even heretical. For this group, it mattered not whether Bryan supported Silver or Gold. Capitalism was definitively irredeemable and the president had not fundamentally challenged the economic status quo.

The nucleus of the Populist movement, however, backed the president and his brand of Democracy thus far. The Harper's piece tested their support as no other recent political development yet had. RNC officials managed to plant this seed in the mind of the electorate, and if McKinley's hypothesis was correct, any subsequent move from Bryan could serve to exacerbate the problem. Either allow for the contamination of his reputation and hope the issue is forgotten during the course of the election, or risk a formidable third party threat from the conservatives. "Damned if you do and damned if you don't," wrote O'Conner. "[Bryan] did not see a path which allowed him to escape unscathed. He concluded that the best, and only, option was to tell the truth."

To those who maintain that this administration has abandoned (Free Silver), I say we will secure bimetallism. To those who affirm our sight has blurred, I say we shall seek fair currency until the glorious day it is done. To those who say do not press the issue of silver, I can say to bimetallism at sixteen to one as Ruth said to Naomi: 'Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God, my God.'
William Jennings Bryan, Speech in Cleveland, Ohio, June 18th, 1900
Part 2: Chapter V - Page 29

Governor Roosevelt with Lockport City Officials at Newfane Station, August 15th, 1899 - Source: Wiki Commons

Sixteen years prior to these events taking place, during the presidential election of 1884, a sizable group of dissatisfied Republican voters rejected their party nominee and voted Democratic. James G. Blaine, the senator from Maine, was mired in scandal and could not withstand attacks from the Democrats recounting his many faults. Blaine lost a nail-biter election to Grover Cleveland due in part to the defection of 'Mugwump' splitters. Now, in the wake of Bryan doubling down on the silver issue, a similar phenomenon seemed to be taking shape.

Harper's Weekly, The Washington Post, and other conservatively bent publications capitalized on Bryan's fateful choice with new articles highlighting the president's unstable currency theory and his contempt for sound economics. Gold Democrats like Olney were once more featured in several of these editorials. "It is increasingly apparent," he wrote, "that Mr. Bryan's moralism does not account for sanity." The Democratic Old Guard, a contingent which halfheartedly backed the president from the moment of his Oath of Office, could back him no longer. "The mutation unleashed upon the party of Jefferson and Jackson must be reversed. If we must suffer McKinley for a time, then so be it."

This fortune transpiring before the Republican Party required an appropriate response. If it sought to forge this unified opposition, it needed to designate a presidential candidate capable of appealing to both Republican voters as well as pro-business Democrats. Several vastly disparate Republican candidates begun working toward the party nomination by the time January rolled around, including former vice presidential pick Henry Clay Evans of Tennessee, but none yet captured the bare appeal necessary to allure Bourbon elites. RNC Chairman William McKinley, considered by this point as the voice of the national party and a clear-cut frontrunner for the nomination, flatly denied any interest in once more seeking higher office.

The candidate amassing the most momentum leading to the convention rather lacked the aforementioned appeal. Theodore Roosevelt, national war hero and potential foil for Bryan's electioneering, was overtly vying for the presidential nod. After the war, the bombastic Roosevelt shuffled back into New York politics and gained favor with the state Republican Party. He was thereby, by a near-unanimous decision, placed on the top of the GOP gubernatorial ticket for 1898.

Roosevelt stormed the political barricades as if he was still at war in Cuba, delivering upwards of twenty speeches per day in a manner clearly inspired by Bryan's crusade for office. Donning his Rough Rider persona, the candidate vigorously paraded through the state in a close contest with Tammany Hall's selection, Democratic judge Augustus Van Wyck. He won this engagement and barged his way into the governor's mansion as if it was Santiago. "In the long run," declared the new governor, "he serves his party best who most helps to make it instantly responsive to every need of the people, and to the highest demands of that spirit which tends to drive us onward and upward."

Senator Platt and the state party leadership commonly coordinated with Governor Roosevelt during the early months of the latter's tenure in office, developing governing strategies and advising the newcomer how best to deal with an unruly legislature. Once Roosevelt started signing off on legislation that instituted a new tax on franchises and leaned into laws meant to break apart hugely influential corporate trusts, the more conservative Republican machine ended its amicable relationship with the governor. Desiring a middle-ground between rosy populist Democracy and jaded Social Darwinism, Governor Roosevelt also worked to enact an 8-hour working day for state employees, greater government mediation in labor disputes, and civil service reform.

The governor honed in on his opinion of United States' foreign affairs while serving in that role. Speaking to the virtues of a code of morality he judged "the strenuous life", Roosevelt stressed patriotism and masculinity in tandem with international action during a Chicago speech.

In speaking to you, men of the greatest city of the West, men of the State which gave to the country Lincoln and Grant, men who pre-eminently and distinctly embody all that is most American in the American character, I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.
Last year we could not help being brought face to face with the problem of war with Spain. All we could decide was whether we should shrink like cowards from the contest, or enter into it as beseemed a brave and high-spirited people; and; once in, whether failure or success should crown our banners. So it is now. We cannot, as the present administration desires, avoid the responsibilities that confront us in Hawaii, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. A job half-finished is a job not finished. If we drove out a medieval tyranny only to make room for savage anarchy, we had better not have begun the task at all.
Theodore Roosevelt, "The Strenuous Life" Speech, April 10th, 1899

Roosevelt's own writing in 1899 demonstrated his personal wish to remain in the gubernatorial role for a second term to further develop his unique policies for New York before setting foot on the national stage. However, feeling as though President Bryan's "ineptitude" on domestic and foreign matters "brought dishonor to the flag" and cowardice to the republic, the governor contemplated greater ambitions. Sometime in mid-February, Roosevelt sent a telegram to his friend, former Assistant State Secretary John M. Hay, requesting he assist in the campaign. He did the same for an assortment of other characters, including famed journalist and photographer Jacob Riis.

Platt, who was in the midst of devising an under-the-radar plot to elevate Roosevelt to the vice presidential slot at the national convention, reacted with a mix of astonishment and rage once hearing the news. It frankly shattered his plan to pieces. The convention would, by tradition, categorically disallow an active presidential candidate to be placed in the call for vice president, meaning Roosevelt would either end up in the White House or back in the governor's mansion for a second term. The senator needed to trek the extra mile if he indeed wished to, as he once admitted, "get rid of the bastard."
Last edited:
Part 2: Chapter V - Page 30

U.S. Senator Mark Hanna, 1900 - Source: Wiki Commons

Roosevelt, to put it mildly, embodied everything the Republican establishment dreaded in a nominee. His severing of all ties to the state party machine indicated his unruliness and tendency to act on instinct, and his reformist economic ideals alienated any plausible monetary assistance from lucrative corporations. Choosing the New Yorker at the convention would also plainly jeopardize McKinley's strategy to take down President Bryan in November. The Rough Rider simply could never be allowed the nomination of the Republican Party at the presidential level. The RNC needed someone else.

In order to soundly thwart Roosevelt, the Republicans required an individual similar enough to the governor to captivate an audience, yet, at the same time, be nothing alike in terms of personality or policy. Representative Evans possessed some appeal to the Old Guard, but he sorely lacked a solid base despite proving his worth as a strategist for the Harrison Campaign. Other potential picks like retired Governor Levi Morton and former Speaker Reed suffered from analogous defects to Evans'. Apart from Roosevelt, there were remarkably few well-known figures emerging as consistent enemies to 'Bryanism'. On the conservative end of the spectrum, the lone name was Marcus Hanna.

The mastermind behind McKinley's early, oft-forgotten presidential campaign and the de facto leader of the Ohio Republicans, Senator Mark Hanna, from the point of his ascension to the Senate, bitterly opposed President Bryan and the Democrats. Unlike the type of opposition utilized by Reed, Hanna obstructed Bryan whilst proposing alternate solutions. During the intense debate over electoral reform, the Ohioan essentially agreed with the president over the core problem. He acknowledged that the antiquated process of state legislatures appointing senators demanded some degree of adjustment, but squarely rejected the concept of direct election.

Hanna thereby proposed to his colleagues a less radical approach, theorizing that the cure for the vacancy problem lied in temporary appointments. He believed that the federal government merely needed to grant state governments the ability to appoint interim senators, and require it do so in the case of a vacancy. Doing this would solve the vacancy issue and ease tension from deadlocked legislatures without completely rewriting the entire process. Unfortunately, he was unable to accrue adequate support to amend the resolution and it passed in its original form. Still, Hanna's ingenuity demonstrated the exact type of moderate governing the Republican stalwarts longed for in a president.

The Ohioan formally initiated his presidential campaign upon learning of Roosevelt's interest to run. Hanna re-formed much of his politically adept team from the 1896 operation and began working toward the nomination in earnest. He applied the strategy originally meant for McKinley, accruing Southern delegates as speedily and efficiently as possible. In the span of a few months, Hanna locked in the bulk of the South in addition to securing a majority of delegates in Illinois. Hanna supporter Charles G. Dawes, a Chicago businessman and state party official, became a key figure in the campaign's Midwestern operation as it sought to drive in swathes of delegates to Hanna's side.

By his personal accounts, Hanna enjoyed running his own campaign far more than managing another's. His authority went unquestioned by those working for him, even by elder colleagues. Hanna rarely approached others for advice, but did so in his 1900 campaign for the presidency, consulting fellow Ohioan William Rufus Day. An associate of McKinley, Day befriended Hanna several years prior and corresponded with the senator frequently upon the latter's inauguration to the Senate. Within this correspondence, it is revealed that Day foreshadowed the greatest stumbling block to Hanna's prospective nomination. "I fear there are signs that the Mr. Roosevelt has taken Pennsylvania. Quay has lost the respect of his peers."
Jay R. Morgan, The American Elephant: A Study of the Republican Party, 1980

The senator from Ohio drastically underestimated the organizational prowess of his chief competitor, not realizing that Roosevelt's ties to the expansionist wing of the GOP equaled Hanna's influence with the state party machines. Support from party bosses was no longer sufficient in rounding up state delegates. Morgan expounds, "Dreams of an American Empire blinded considerable portions of the Republican Party. Hanna's plan ignored this fact." Hanna, who was running on a conservative, broadly isolationist platform, was blind-sighted by the degree to which imperialism infected the whole of the party in the last two years. Roosevelt's stance on incorporating the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Cuba into the United States' sphere of influence, as well as his reform-minded repudiation of bosses, machines, and trusts, led to his sweep of the Western delegations in addition to outpacing Hanna in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

The Bryan team believed that in spurning McKinley and his home state of Ohio, the Republican Party may have dampened its support in the Hawkeye State and thereby allowed for the possibility of a Democratic win.

Nitpick, but Ohio is the Buckeye State.

Fin de siecle American politics seems fertile ground for the emergence of an American leftism, I'm curious to see where this goes.

I'm also interested in whether Japan looks to the south a few decades earlier if the Philippines (and Hawai'i?) remain outside of American hands...
Dawes, as in Dawes Plan Dawes... well that's interesting to see.


Nitpick, but Ohio is the Buckeye State.

Fin de siecle American politics seems fertile ground for the emergence of an American leftism, I'm curious to see where this goes.

I'm also interested in whether Japan looks to the south a few decades earlier if the Philippines (and Hawai'i?) remain outside of American hands...

Will fix! And we'll see what happens in the Pacific soon :)
Part 2: Chapter V - Page 31 - 1900 RNC I

Exposition Auditorium, June, 19th, 1900 - Source: Wiki Commons

By the time the Republican National Convention convened, Roosevelt and Hanna were about tied in pledged delegates. The Ohioan retained a small advantage in terms of raw numbers, but the New Yorker frequently argued that his partisans were less likely to bail out in the case of a second ballot. Roosevelt's pummeling of Hanna along the West Coast pushed the latter to adopt a more virulent campaign strategy: demonizing the governor in the same vein as President Bryan. He openly referred to his competitor as a "fanatic opportunist" and a "sure-fire road to a two-term Bryan," deepening the rift between the two camps. Hanna started to stir the mudslinging pot at on the onset of summer in a last-ditch hope to avoid a contested convention, but he ultimately failed in his goal. As fate would have it, the nominee would be decided at the RNC.

The Exposition Auditorium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania opened its doors on June 19th for the convention festivities. Chairman McKinley ushered in the start of the event, then opted for Senator Edward Wolcott (R-CO) to serve as the temporary chairman over the tense arena for the first day, followed by Senator Lodge on the second. Lodge brought the committee to order whence he was handed the gavel, and commenced in the delivering of a speech restating the tenants of the '96 Republican platform. He touched on the need to raise tariffs, pass legislation to cement the gold standard, modernize the military and protect American commerce. These ideas generated hefty applause, but the proceeding tirade against President Bryan ended in a deafening roar of approval.

During these years of Democratic spectacle, we had presented to us pure political chaos. The party of melancholy and unfulfilled promises under President Cleveland devolved into one absent of intelligent action. We have endured unending artificial agitation, humorously dubbed reform, heroically blockaded by the U.S. Senate: the last vestige of common sense governing. [...] We have also, for the last two years, been paralyzed as a nation, stunted by a radical bent on darkening the shining light of Old Glory. It is the task of the American people to embrace its responsibility to the lands liberated from foreign tyranny. Should we turn the islands, where we had destroyed all existing sovereignty, loose upon the world to be a prey to domestic anarchy and the helpless spoil of some other nation? Never! The outcry against our call, the demand that we serve as guardians of freedom, is as empty as the cant about 'militarism' and 'imperialism' is devoid of sense and meaning.
Henry Cabot Lodge, Opening Remarks to Republican National Convention, June 20th, 1900
Senator Lodge's skillful correlation of the Bryan Administration and the Democrats with anti-imperialism, and more so his phrasing which insinuated communal, party-wide agreement on the topic of the former colonies, proved a sharp blow to Hanna's prospects. Hanna was often mum on the matter, but he did not exemplify the same attitude toward jingoism that Lodge and Roosevelt had. Lodge was meant to be impartial, and, in truth, he refused to outright endorse any one candidate, but this dig at anti-expansionists (which, as previously mentioned did result in immense applause) served to help bolster the governor.

Lodge may also have influenced the final platform proposal decided later that day, as a plank calling more explicitly for authority over the Western Hemisphere was confirmed by a voice vote over the objections of a minor opposition. Regardless of the undoubted divisiveness over the limits of American sovereignty, this victory for the expansionist faction seemed to, for the time being, settle the issue. After all, no one walked out of the auditorium upon final passage of the platform, as had been the case in 1896 regarding bimetallism.

With the rising of the sun on June 21st arrived the third day of the Republican National Convention. Following a brief opening prayer, Senator Lodge declared that the business of nomination was next on the agenda. As established by the traditional convention rules, proponents for individual candidates were instructed to rise and present short nominating speeches. Three candidates were to be formally nominated, in order: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Hanna, and Henry Clay Evans. The call took place alphabetically, with Alabama first.

Mr. P.D. Barker of Alabama immediately yielded the floor to Massachusetts, whence Lieutenant General Arthur MacArthur, Jr., formally proclaimed the nomination of Governor Roosevelt for the presidency. His speech ended in rapturous applause, but much of it may have been out of respect for the commander's actions during the war with Spain. Hanna's nominating speech came from Senator Joseph Foraker of Ohio, then seconded by John F. Jones of South Carolina. They chiefly spoke to Hanna's merits as a businessman and, to a minor extent, his activities in the Senate. Henry Evans was nominated by Representative Henry R. Gibson (R-TN) in a manner similar to his vice presidential nomination four years previous, and it invoked positive reaction primarily from the Tennessee delegation. Then, at Gibson's closing remarks, Senator Lodge instructed the reading clerk to begin calling the roll.


The first call, as all were despondently aware, did not succeed in designating a nominee. Hanna led Roosevelt by about ten delegates, but he remained far behind the necessary threshold to secure the nomination. No longer bound by state party decision-making, and incidentally invalidating months of toilsome work from both of major campaigns, the delegates were now free to be swayed on the convention floor. Hanna and Day's tactic to rely on state machines to decide the nominee on the first ballot failed, placing the ball squarely in Roosevelt's court. The New Yorker had a knack for instinct, perhaps a consequence of his military service, and an indecisive nominating convention seemed to play to this significant advantage over the more calculative Hanna. Just prior to the second ballot, Roosevelt operatives exuberantly persuaded as many delegates as possible to shift the numbers dramatically enough to generate unanimous consent for his nomination, just as Harrison accomplished in 1896.

This did not manifest on the second ballot, nor on the third. Numbers slightly fluctuated betwixt the leading contendors, but neither again ascended above the 400 count. The campaigns, their die-hard delegates, and the candidates themselves brazenly refused to budge. This deadlock threatened to stall the convention indefinitely. An infuriated William McKinley personally wired Hanna and Roosevelt with a plea to resolve the ordeal in a cordial manner, but neither camp backed down. "Whispers swirled throughout the convention hall," wrote Jay Morgan, "speculatively started by Senator Platt, that Roosevelt refused an offer to serve as Hanna's vice president. It was hardly surprising, knowing Roosevelt. The only post he desired on the federal level other than the presidency was Secretary of War, and Hanna, of course, curtly disallowed his opponent to have a say on foreign affairs in his administration."

Behind the scenes, the two camps warred. Once the convention adjourned for the day, Hanna continued to deride his competitor, spilling rumors to the delegates of Roosevelt's alleged plot to bolt from the party if he should be denied the nomination. In the midst of the conundrum, the Ohioan reportedly screamed to a conciliatory colleague, "I will not have that damned cowboy in the White House!" Roosevelt felt much the same about Hanna, letting it be known that the Ohioan's affinity with organized capital, "exonerated Democratic doubts regarding our earnestness for reform." Senator Hanna was not one to shy away from the cause of corporate aggrandizement, and during his career indeed associated consolidation with prosperity. Personal attacks aside, Hanna's rampant conservative program may have been what kept Roosevelt from forging a compromise.
Last edited:
Part 2: Chapter V - Page 32 - 1900 RNC II

Internal View of the Republican National Convention, June 19th, 1900 - Source: Wiki Commons

When all was at its bleakest, a new prospect appeared at the dawn of the fourth day. Exhausted delegates disgusted with the bitter deadlock began suggesting the introduction of a 'dark horse' candidate. Deep-rooted proponents of the two leaders stayed determined on winning the nomination, but others believed that the contest could only feasibly conclude with a new name selected. Several fresh faces arose in the proceeding ballot, among them Henry Cabot Lodge and Robert Todd Lincoln, but one man alone stood out from the pack. Proving to peel away a significant amount of delegates from Hanna and Roosevelt, the campaign for Senator Albert J. Beveridge of Indiana was born.

In a peculiar twist of destiny, Beveridge had been approached by a member of the national committee on the evening of June 21st with the offer. The Hoosier contemplated his options, and subsequently complied. Already a delegate from his home state, Beveridge himself was present at the Republican convention when his name appeared in the ensuing roll calls the following morning. Delegates seized the moment with avidity. Representative Evans bowed out from consideration on the fifth ballot and endorsed Beveridge, markedly boosting his chances. Governor Roosevelt, who was a personal friend and political ally of Beveridge, somberly accepted the writing on the wall. He therefore wired his supporters to champion the nomination of Beveridge for president. That put him over the top.

One of the single most contentious and unpredictable conventions in modern history thereby resulted in the nomination of Indiana Senator Beveridge for president (humorously, the fourth straight Republican nominee from that state). He appeared to be suitably strait-laced for the conservative wing and adequately internationalist for the imperialist wing. Beveridge matched President Bryan in terms of oratory skills as well as age, 38 years to 40, respectively. The nominee proceeded to deliver a fiery acceptance speech, the first of its kind delivered by the party's nominee personally at the convention, with as much passion as his famous 'March of the Flag' address.

Party victories, as such, are nothing; the progress of the American people is everything. Harmony with the onward movement of the Nation makes a party invincible. Opposition to the progress of the Republic means deserved defeat. In our internal commerce and industry it is toward cooperation and combination. This is only another way of saying that civilization is progressing. But while we are in harmony with the times, we are not blind to the evils which cling to the great trunk which itself is sound. But we insist that the tree shall not be felled because of the evils. When combinations of capital attempt to arbitrarily raise prices from motives of mere greed or unjustly reduce wages merely to increase dividends, they must be prevented, punished. But apply a remedy - do not administer a medicine of death.
Now, a word for our 'enlightened' foes of expansion. Let men beware how they employ the term "self-government." It is a sacred term. It is the watchword at the door of the inner temple of liberty, for liberty does not always mean self-government. Self-government is a method of liberty - the highest, simplest, best - and it is acquired only after centuries of study and struggle and experiment and instruction and all the elements of the progress of man. Self-government is no base and common thing to be bestowed on the merely audacious. It is the degree which crowns the graduate of liberty, not the name of liberty's infant class, who have not yet mastered the alphabet of freedom. Savage blood, Oriental blood, Malay blood, Spanish example - are these the elements of self-government? The rule of liberty that all just government derives itself from the consent of the governed applies only to those who are capable of self-government. We govern the Indians without their consent, we govern our territories without their consent, wee govern our children without their consent.
Albert J. Beveridge, Speech Accepting the Republican Nomination, June 22nd, 1900

In the spirit of reconciliation and in recognition that Roosevelt approved of the nominee while Hanna certainly did not, Beveridge floated the business-oriented Senator Chauncey Depew for vice president. To Republicans, notably elder statesmen in the business wing, Depew was remarkably popular. He served the nation politically since 1856, when he championed the election of John C. Fremont for president. Depew also held a degree of appeal for curious Northern Bourbons due to his history in the railroad industry and law service to Cornelius Vanderbilt. Hanna, who privately preferred Cornelius N. Bliss for the slot, reluctantly agreed.



Representative Evans bowed out from consideration on the fifth ballot and endorsed Beveridge, markedly boosting his chances. Governor Roosevelt, who was a personal friend and political ally of Beveridge, somberly accepted the writing on the wall. He therefore wired his supporters to champion the nomination of Beveridge for president. That put him over the top.


Is it plausible for a Southern Republican to be taken as seriously as a prospective nominee as Evans is being taken here?
Not open for further replies.