Crimson Banners Fly: The Rise of the American Left

1902 Congressional Elections

Senate

Republican: 45 (+4)
Democratic: 45 (+6)
Populist: 0 (-4)
Silver Republican: 0 (-2)
Silver: 0 (-2)


House
Republican: 200 (+2)
Democratic: 180 (+28)
Independent: 4 (+4)
Populist: 0 (-4)
Silver Republican: 0 (-1)


House of Representatives Leadership
Speaker Joseph G. Cannon (R-IL)
Minority Leader John J. Lentz (D-OH)

On November 30th, 1901, the Missouri state government ratified the proposed 16th Amendment to the Constitution, making it the 34th state to do so. With that, State Secretary Hay thereafter certified the the amendment as part of the U.S. Constitution. From thence on, every senator was required to be directly elected to Congress. More so, statewide governors were now required to call for a special election to fill senate vacancies, and, if found necessary, state governments could allow for governors to fill vacant seats with temporary appointments. The 1902 Senate elections were the first in American history in which every senator was popularly elected as opposed to appointed by the state legislatures. Not even the wisest political analyst waged a prediction on the outcome of the nationwide races. The final results, showing a deadlocked 45-45 Senate, appeared to epitomize deep-seated division in the United States at the turn of the century.

Senator James K. Jones of Arkansas, Democratic National Committee Chairman since Bryan's election, faced a tough senatorial nomination challenge from former Governor James Paul Clarke (D-AR). Regardless of his status as a Confederate Army veteran and a political moderate, some within the state party disliked Jones' affiliation with former President Bryan and his wing of the party. The incumbent senator denied any accusations that he helped engineer the Nebraskan's crowning in 1896 and reiterated his neutrality concerning the disparate sects of the national organization. Governor Clarke, a self-proclaimed devotee of "upholding white supremacy" and "the white standards of civilization," sparred with Jones in the lead-up to the state party convention, particularly calling to attention Jones' failure to unite Democrats. Overcoming the allegations made against him, however, Jones retained support by the Arkansas Democratic Party and succeeded in winning a third senatorial term.

Alienated from the Republican Party, Senator Henry M. Teller of Colorado ran for re-election as a Democrat in 1902. Teller expressed hesitation prior to pursuing this action, likely out of a desire to maintain ties with close Republican colleagues, but eventually chose to abandon the GOP. The Colorado Republican Party selected San Miguel County Attorney Herschel M. Hogg (R-CO) to contest the election. Somewhat of a moderate reformist, Hogg called on Silver Republicans to move on from the currency issue and instead work to enact legislation protecting Coloradan land from federal mining intrusion. On a pro-Silver and anti-imperialist platform, and despite embarrassment at the national level for his defeat on bimetallism, Teller won re-election against Hogg with about 63% of the vote.

In Delaware, with the bickering state General Assembly relieved of its duty to appoint senators, vacant Senate seats were filled in 1902 special elections. Former Attorney General George Gray reluctantly chose to run for his old Senate seat in one of the two elections, easily winning it without worthy opposition. For the other seat, however, a bitter nomination contest materialized between Representative L. Heisler Ball (R-DE) and Businessman Henry A. du Point (R-DE). The latter candidate, a conservative Depew supporter and former military officer, fostered immense support by the local Old Guard of the Delaware Republican Party. Ball, though a youthful reform-minded moderate more in line with the Beveridge mold, had been routinely considered a carpetbagger upon relocating to New Castle County from Philadelphia. The nominating session concluded with the narrow edge granted to Du Pont: the victor in the general election.

With William Allison now serving as Treasury Secretary, his post in the Senate remained vacated until the midterm elections. Former Representative John J. Seerly (D-IA), the middle-of-the-road Democratic nominee, ran in the special election to replace Secretary Allison, yet he proved unable to move the increasingly pro-Republican population of the Hawkeye State. Following a grueling fight for the nomination, Representative William Peters Hepburn became the choice of the state party for Senate. Hepburn was chiefly known for his roles in chairing the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce and co-authoring the Sulzer-Hepburn Act. Perhaps the most likely choice of any Iowan to draw in disaffected Bryan Democrats alongside interventionist Republicans, Hepburn eventually gained the vital support of then-President Beveridge and Secretary Roosevelt, thus propelling him to the finish line during lengthy nomination proceedings.

Former Secretary of State William J. Stone won his election to the U.S. Senate as a Missourian representative, succeeding retiring incumbent George G. Vest (D-MO). Against the advice of his advisers, Stone ran on a platform espousing his experience under President Bryan. He promoted Democratic governance as "Capable [...] of discerning wars which must be waged in defense of liberty [versus] those fought in the name of commerce." Missouri, albeit a solid Bryan state, contained an evenly divided population in terms of political party membership. It was therefore considered foolhardy for Stone to concentrate on controversial national issues instead of relying on his tenure as governor in the 1890s. Nonetheless, Stone handily defeated Republican Richard Kerens (R-MO) and prepared for a contentious 58th Congress.

Populists experienced their greatest downfall in the 1902 elections, stumbling to total decimation. Of the eight representatives of the People's Party stationed in the 57th Congress, none were re-elected as Populists. Senator James H. Kyle of South Dakota died in 1901, prompting a special election for his seat (won by a Republican). Senators Heitfeld and Harris, both avid Populists and proponents of the Farmer's Alliance, learned that their sole chance of victory wholly depended upon fusion with state Democratic parties. In an unenthusiastic motion, these two incumbents (as well as fellow Populist Senator William Allen) abandoned the People's Party moniker. By slim margins, the former Populists won re-election as Democrats.

As a result of the 1900 U.S. Census, the House of Representatives too endured a significant change. Census reapportionment led to an increase in the amount of total House seats, from 357 to 386. This, in addition to the benefits won through redistricting, set off a spark amongst Democrats - a sliver of hope. Considering the abundance of new seats were set to be located in areas with large second-wave immigrant populations, the Democratic Party thought it possible to expand their paltry representation in the lower house regardless of mass public sympathy toward the late president.

Minority Leader John J. Lentz found himself in the midst of an intra-party revolt as the Bourbons sided closer to the Republican Party with each passing day. Firm in his belief that the issue of ongoing conflict in the Philippines would negate popular favor for expansionism and, more so, trusting that the electorate remained receptive to Bryanist populist rhetoric, Lentz instructed House candidates to promote the Bryan brand of Democracy moving forward. On the whole, judging by the final, state-by-state results, it appeared as though the strategy did indeed work as intended. Democrats won 28 seats while Republicans managed a far smaller two-seat win.

Some notable House races included the election of Charles Hamlin (R-ME), Union Army veteran and the son of former Vice President Hannibal Hamlin, as well as four "Anti-Machine" Republicans in Pennsylvania to the federal legislature. One of the more fascinating developments had undoubtedly been the surprise election of publisher and Bryan-ally William Randolph Hearst to the U.S. House. Running as a Bryan Democrat in New York's 11th District, Hearst proclaimed the urgent need establish worker protections, mandate the 8-hour working day, and nationalize the telegraph industry. He also railed against the Philippine-American War, citing "Thousands of American lives needlessly lost in the racket of war." Largely self-funded, Hearst succeeded in swaying the electorate to his side.


Senators Elected in 1902 (Class 3)
Edmund Pettus (D-AL): Democratic Hold, Unopposed
James K. Jones (D-AR): Democratic Hold, 81%
George Perkins (R-CA): Republican Hold, 56%
Henry M. Teller (D-CO): Democratic Gain, 63%
Orville H. Platt (R-CT): Republican Hold, 74%
*George Gray (D-DE): Democratic Gain, 68%
*Henry A. du Pont (R-DE): Republican Gain, 60%
Stephen Mallory II (D-FL): Democratic Hold, Unopposed
Alexander S. Clay (D-GA): Democratic Hold, 93%
Henry Heitfeld (D-ID): Democratic Gain, 51%
Albert J. Hopkins (R-IL): Republican Hold, 58%
Charles W. Fairbanks (R-IN): Republican Hold, 58%
*Jonathan P. Dolliver (R-IA): Republican Hold, 65%
*William P. Hepburn (R-IA): Republican Hold, 77%
William A. Harris (P-KS): Democratic Gain, 52%
James B. McCreary (D-KY): Democratic Gain, 59%
Samuel D. McEnery (D-LA): Democratic Hold, 88%
George L. Wellington (R-MD): Republican Hold, 53%
*Russell A. Alger (R-MI): Republican Hold, 64%
William J. Stone (D-MO): Democratic Hold, 61%
Francis G. Newlands (D-NV): Democratic Gain, 56%
Jacob Gallinger (R-NH): Republican Hold, 74%
*John F. Dryden (R-NJ): Republican Hold, 60%
Thomas C. Platt (R-NY): Republican Hold, 57%
Lee Overman (D-NC): Democratic Gain, 82%
Henry C. Hansbrough (R-ND): Republican Hold, 53%
Joseph B. Foraker (R-OH): Republican Hold, 55%
Charles W. Fulton (R-OR): Republican Hold, 52%
Boies Penrose (R-PA): Republican Hold, 62%
Asbury Latimer (D-SC): Democratic Hold, Unopposed
Alfred B. Kittredge (R-SD): Republican Gain, 61%
Reed Smoot (R-UT): Republican Gain, 53%
William P. Dilingham (R-VT): Republican Hold, 80%
Levi Ankeny (R-WA): Republican Gain, 55%
John C. Spooner (R-WI): Republican Hold, 59%

*Special Election
 
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Article in "The Washington Times" Describing an End to Hostilities, July 18th, 1903 - Source: LoC

President Depew, albeit not nearly the imperialist Beveridge had been, wished not to abandon the Philippine venture altogether. He understood that the Republican Party and, truthfully, the country as a whole desperately needed the violent affairs to come to a close. The list of American atrocities piled up and only served to vindicate anti-imperialists like William J. Bryan in their constant derision of contemporary foreign policy. Depew, spurning the demands of the jingoist sect which demanded bloody vengeance for their fallen president, searched for an opportunity to conclude the conflict in such a way that reflected his interest in assisting the growth of American entrepreneurship.

Racial pseudoscience - popularized and socially embraced by the 1900s in world's fairs, political illustrations, common postcards, and children's textbooks - reinforced the vision of American Whites as the saviors of civilization. President Beveridge crafted his foreign policy through the lens of this 'race thinking,' constantly working out excuses and justifications for domination and war in place of fair negotiation and diplomacy. The late president characterized the building of an American Empire as an inevitable outcome of Manifest Destiny, but failed to address the dire consequences of such a project. Most Americans seemed to applaud expansionism but became rather uneasy whenever it gave way to undisguised imperialism - that is, undermining the sovereignty of independent nations and usurping their freedom to make their own decisions.

Controlling several minor islands and possessing trading depots was one thing, but the brutality instituted by the Army under Beveridge and Generals Otis, MacArthur and Smith was another entirely. Anti-imperialists gained the upper hand in public opinion precisely due to these aforementioned atrocities. The United States, they felt, ought not to operate as a sprawling empire if it meant vast destruction and expansive physical and psychological torture. Depew himself found issue with both wings of the debate, outright distrusting the foundation of the anti-imperialist claims as naive yet not quite coming to terms with the Social Darwinist position. Unlike his deeply ideological predecessors, the president candidly aspired to end the bloodshed while maintaining a U.S. economic presence in the Philippines.

As far as the actual progress of the war was concerned, U.S. forces stationed in the archipelago endured as the stalemate continued. For both the Filipinos as well as the Americans, distressing conditions plagued every province. Poor sanitation, starvation, and outbreaks of malaria and cholera killed thousands with no regard to nationality. The order from U.S. generals to decimate local food and medicinal supplies over the course of the occupation now seemed to backfire as guerrilla insurgents began cutting off American bases from waterfronts and drop zones. Just when the situation seemed its bleakest, however, brigades serving under General MacArthur managed to discover and ransack the operating residence of General Miguel Malvar.

On May 6th, 1903, Malvar's base was captured and the military leader surrendered to American authorities. His capitulation meant a total collapse in Filipino morale and a prompt end to organized Philippine resistance. The Philippine general declared a ceasefire. Depew did the same, calling for an end to hostilities. With the surrender unconditional, it was up to the United States to conjure together a worthy arrangement before guerrilla warfare erupted once more. The president, alongside John Hay's Cabinet replacement, John Bassett Moore, believed the prospect of pure annexation (the end-goal as proclaimed by Beveridge) a preposterous one, as doing so would surely inflame tensions to a boiling point. Retreating from the jingoist line, Depew and Moore looked to initiate American oversight without resorting to total domination.

The Depew Administration oversaw the creation of the Philippine Committee in mid-June in order to construct a satisfactory policy to be implemented in the Philippines. Various, theoretical strategies for implementation in the island territories were considered during the sessions of this committee. One unnamed State Department staff member apparently asked Secretary Moore to consider his concept of segmenting the archipelago in three parts. The U.S. would annex Luzon whilst the Philippine Republic retained control over Mindanao, with outlying Visayan Islands operating as a "neutral zone." Moore, who apparently found the concept unrealistic and impossible to implement, promptly fired the staffer and famously defenestrated the man's hat and jacket.

When time arrived for the committee to present its determination to the president, Depew was thrilled with their work. Their finalized arrangement called for limited civilian government in tandem with recognition of the authority of the United States.

The Philippines Organization Act, upon its passage through Congress with near-unanimity, established a bicameral legislature for the native population and the promise of amnesty for revolutionaries. It created an Americanized Bill of Rights for the Filipino people specifically tuned to award more liberties to wealthier residents and non-Catholics. Corporations were the true winner of the war, having been assured that no limits were placed on the maximum allowable investment nor on the degree of land ownership by corporate interests. Two of the most influential Filipinos in the post-war legislature were also two of its wealthiest and corrupt inhabitants: Benito Legarda and Felipe Buencamino.

In the aftermath of passage, the Manila Trading Company, an American investment group, worked alongside the Depew Administration to purchase about 100,000 acres of land previously controlled by the Spanish Catholic Church. By 1910, the Manila Trading Co. operated as a de facto private government in many parts of the archipelago. This end result, although far from the ideal pure annexation as popularized by Beveridge and Lodge, satisfied markets. [...] As one may insinuate, a significant contingent of Filipinos refused to accept American authority despite the surrender of Malvar and his call for a ceasefire. Sporadic guerrilla raids went on throughout 1903 and beyond as the torch of resistance stayed lit.
Thomas O'Conner, A Radical History of American Politics: Vol. 4, 2014
 

John Mitchell of the UMW Arrives in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, April 17th, 1902 - Source: Wiki Commons

Anthracite, otherwise known as hard coal, was an invaluable resource in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, powering factories and providing homes across the industrialized world with a basic source of heat. Mines in northeastern Pennsylvania were the primary source of this substance within the continental United States. Workers assigned to these dangerous and unsafe mines, mostly first-generation Eastern European and Italian immigrants, were expected to procure the coal for a pittance.

The United Mine Workers of America, or UMW/UMWA, entered the arena in the 1880s as a counterbalance to hegemonic coal mine operators and owners. With no exception for race or national origin, nor skilled versus unskilled, the union effectively organized over 140,000 anthracite coal miners in this period. Led by John Mitchell, the union found tremendous success in its organizing drive and began securing minor victories in the 1890s. It became apparent by the spring of 1902, however, that the UMW-affiliated laborers were no longer willing to settle for half-measures and inadequate conditions. They fiercely desired recognition of the union and a joint-agreement to collectively bargain with the mine owners. The miners agreed upon several other demands, including a pay raise, a shortened work week, and an honest weighing of each day's coal (the basis for their earnings.)

In April, representatives of the UMW approached George F. Baer, President of the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company, and offered to arrange fair arbitration to discuss the workers' demands. Insisting the illegitimacy of the union and the impossibility of granting raises to the miners employed by his company, Baer laughed off the deal. His dismissive opinion was that the workers did not suffer whatsoever, "Why, hell, half of them can't even speak English." In prompt response, the anthracite miners in Scranton, Pennsylvania declared a work-stoppage. With neither side willing to budge an inch, tensions erupted into a full-fledged labor strike.

No end appeared in sight as the summer months flashed by. The miners' determination to succeed was surely matched by Baer's unending arrogance. In the belief that the status quo was pre-determined by divine action, Baer declared, "The rights and all interests of the laboring man will be protected and cared for - not by the labor agitators - but by the Christian men to whom God in His infinite wisdom has given the control of property interests of the country, and upon the successful management of which so much depends." The miners were not dealing with your average, everyday hubris. This was advanced hubris.

As the months carried on and coal prices steadily rose, the tide of public opinion began shifting in favor of the strikers against the elite owners. Hearst egged on the persistent workers and called for then-President Beveridge to consider federal intervention in the matter. The publisher implored the federal government to prosecute Baer and the owner of Reading Railroad, J.P. Morgan, for their role in prolonging the strike. "Divine Right Baer," he stated, "has made the fateful choice that Americans will need to survive this winter with no heat. Do not fret, so says Baer, for the Omnipotent shall keep us warm with his glorious light."

Beveridge finally admitted in late October that the problem deserved attention. Winter lied on the horizon, and as the nation delved into an unprecedented coal shortage, Northern states faced a cataclysmic coal famine. Beveridge handed to Interior Secretary Lyman Gage a decree to explore all available options for arbitration in order to swiftly resolve the strike. The Hoosier, seemingly confiding in Gage his alignment with public sentiment, indicated his intention to hold accountable the mine owners. He wrote, "Upon my return to Washington, the matter will be addressed and Morgan will sit at the table." To the detriment of the anthracite miners, Beveridge died prior to settling the case. Accordingly, the responsibility fell to President Depew.

Depew, monitoring the situation closely alongside his personal friend, J.P. Morgan, came to the conclusion that little could be done legally. He was vastly distrustful of political interference in the affairs of private businesses and sharply disagreed with those who wanted intervention. Insofar as the federal government was concerned (at least under the Depew Administration), any and all plausibility for neutral arbitration halted in its tracks.


To address our viewer's question, I would say no. Not every household knew exactly what and who Depew represented, politically. Even those who familiarized themselves with his famous speeches were unlikely to associate his name with arch conservatism and corporatism in the same regard we do today. Much of that association was born with his response to the Anthracite Coal Strike. With the entire country calling out for the president to do something - anything, really - to intervene in Pennsylvania, many had trouble fathoming continued inaction. His abject refusal to break from the ranks of the wealthy aristocracy did a number on his reputation.
Theodore Roosevelt, then serving as the nation's War Secretary, observed the phenomenon as well as the president's reaction to it. He asked Depew, over and over to the point of annoyance, to consider peaceful mediation for the sake of preventing calamity. Roosevelt viewed the issue as one that required government intervention as the operators were disallowing negotiation, especially in the case of coal which could be seen as a public service. He believed it absolutely necessary to disrupt private business to preserve the public welfare. It was a moment that greatly refined Roosevelt's thoughts on labor and the role of the federal government to guide change.
Marvin Everett, UBS American Presidents: Life Portrait of Chauncey Depew, Aired 2000

President Depew ignored the recommendations of his allies. It was inappropriate, he declared, to mandate a settlement on behalf of the respective parties. The New Yorker represented the prevailing philosophy of government in which representatives in federal and state legislatures protected the interests of businesses rather than individuals. To Depew, the UMW-affiliated miners courted anarchy and were instigating socialistic action while the benevolent owners merely wished to remain afloat. He wholeheartedly agreed with Baer that, "The duty of the hour is not to waste time negotiating with the fomenters of this anarchy and insolent defiance of law, but to do as was done in the Civil War, restore the majesty of law."

Although unable to declare an injunction as a result of the American Safeguards Act, the president eventually did endorse the strategy of Governor William A. Stone (R-PA) to call upon the Pennsylvania National Guard. Stone planned to station these forces at the anthracite mines to protect a small contingent of strikebreakers. In utilizing this method, they believed, the operators could guarantee an adequate sum of coal was extracted to end the fuel shortage and, thereby, prevent a calamitous winter famine. Therefore, hundreds of strikebreakers, guarded by members of the National Guard and the private Coal and Iron Police, were sent into the mines to resume coal production. Intimidated by police firepower and warned against initiating conflict by the UMW, strikers could do little but somberly observe.

The Coal Strike endured throughout the winter before its inevitable fade in early 1903. Thousands of miners moved on to other professions and others opted to return to their respective home countries. Mitchell did nothing as the strike waned from national significance, aside from issuing repetitious pleas that President Depew defend the rights of the workers. This, the failure of the UMW, served to radicalize scores of unionized workers who grew disillusioned with the nature of begging for arbitration and moderate change within the framework of capitalism. In March of 1903, three weeks after the disappointing end to the strike, membership in the newly founded Socialist Party of America skyrocketed.
 
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Keep in mind that Eugene Debs is so far left that he makes Bernie Sanders and AOC (aka Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) look moderate by comparison...

That being said, some are going to wonder if the bosses are trying to radicalize workers deliberately...
 
Keep in mind that Eugene Debs is so far left that he makes Bernie Sanders and AOC (aka Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) look moderate by comparison...

That being said, some are going to wonder if the bosses are trying to radicalize workers deliberately...
When yous ee your opposition pretty much spewing such entitled BS and acting like modern feudal lords, it's easy to understand why he is the way he is
 
While I don't like Debs (I don't dislike him, either--I'm neutral on him), yeah, @CountDVB, he has reasons for being the way he is, given that his opposition is acting like entitled bastards and feudal lords...
 
While I don't like Debs (I don't dislike him, either--I'm neutral on him), yeah, @CountDVB, he has reasons for being the way he is, given that his opposition is acting like entitled bastards and feudal lords...
Cue basically capitalism being proclaimed the new form of fedualism, just for the economy rather than the state. And that the idea of "moving up" in social status is a rigged game
 
Keep in mind that Eugene Debs is so far left that he makes Bernie Sanders and AOC (aka Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) look moderate by comparison...
Now that you mention that, I think Bernie has a portrait of Debs in his office (is this too current politics-y?).

Psst. Even the labour or SPD just after ww2 will be left of Sanders on economic issues
A lot of that is probably him deliberately moderating his public positions to be more palatable to the American voting base.
 
Keep in mind that Eugene Debs is so far left that he makes Bernie Sanders and AOC (aka Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) look moderate by comparison...
but Bernie and AOC are already moderate even without the comparison to Eugene Debs, they're just Social Democrats.
if you're implying a center-left group of Social Democrats in the United States who advocate policies not too dissimilar to Europe or Canada is somehow radical, oh boy.
Psst. Even the labour or SPD just after ww2 will be left of Sanders on economic issues
Yeah, Labour and SPD actually had a link to Trade Unionism while Bernie is in a political party that frequently union busts.
 
Eugene Debs is considered far left, @UlyssesCrab...by American standards; I agree that, in Europe or Canada, he'd be center-left (to be fair, I am not too familiar with the politics of those countries, so I apologize; who in the US would be considered far left by European or Canada standards)...

That being said, I'm rooting for him to succeed more ITTL, especially with his opposition acting like modern lords and thinking they're better than the workers (this is a good TL, BTW, @PyroTheFox)...
 
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