History of the United States
Volume IV

Chapter XXVI
Cleveland's Administration, 1885-1889

The new President was inaugurated on the 4th of March, 1885. Perhaps the history of the country has furnished no other example of so rapid a rise to great distinction. Grover Cleveland, twenty-second President of the United States, was born at Caldwell, New Jersey, March 18th, 1837. With his father he removed in 1840 to Fayetteville, New York. Here the youth grew to manhood. His education was obtained in the common schools and academies of the neighborhood. In 1857 he removed to New York City, and became a student of law. In 1859 he was admitted to the bar, and four years afterwards was appointed Assistant District Attorney for Erie County. In 1869 he was elected Sheriff of the same county; and in 1881 he was chosen Mayor of Buffalo. In 1882 he was elected Governor of New York, receiving for that office a plourality of more than 190,000 votes. Before his termof office had expired, he was called by the voice of his party to be its standard-bearer in the presidential campaign of 1884, in which he was again successful.

On the day following his inauguration, President Cleveland sent to the Senate the names of those whom he had selected for places in his cabinet. The nominations were as follows: For secretary of state, Thomas F. Bayard, of Delaware; for secretary of the treasury, Daniel Manning, of New York; for secretary of the interior, Lucius Q. C. Lamar, of Mississippi; for secretary of war, William C. Endicott, of Massachusetts; for secretary of the navy, William C. Whitney, of New York; for postmaster-general, William F. Vilas, of Wisconsin; for attorney-general, Augustus H. Garland, of Arkansas.

The last month of Arthur's and the first of Cleveland's administration were noted for the International Cotton Exposition, at New Orleans. This, after the Centennial Exposition of 1876, was the greatest display of the kind ever held in the United States. The Exposition extended from December of 1884 to June of 1885, and was daily attended by thousands of visitors from all parts of the United States and from many foreign countries. The display was varied and full of interest. Intended in the first place to exhibit the wonderful resources of the South in her peculiar products, the exhibition was enlarged to include all branches of production and every species of mechanism and art. Among the incidental benefits of the Exposition may be mentioned the increased intercourse and consequent friendliness of the people of the Northern and Southern States.

The first year of Cleveland's administration was uneventful. Public affairs were administered in much the same manner as before. The great question practivally before the President was that of the reform of the Civil Service. In attempting this work, that is, in the endeavor to substitute a new series of rules for appointment to office, by which the persons appointed should be selected rather for their fitness than for their party services, the President was greatly hampered and embarrassed. He found that the old forces, which had so long held sway in American politics, were as active as ever, and that the institution of a reform was almost impossible under existing conditions. His appointments to office were in the meantime watched with great interest by both parties, and sharply criticised by the Republicans, as not being in accordance with the principles on which Cleveland had been elected to the Presidency. It was not desired by either party that they should be so. The Democratic office-hunters of the country were too anxious to secure the places which they had won at the polls to permit the President to act with freedom in the premises; and they of the opposite party foresaw that, if a system of genuine reform should be instituted, the overthrow of Cleveland at the end of his term would be impossible.

The first great national event of the Cleveland administration, that is, the first event involving the interests of American society, was that of the labor agitations, which broke out in the spring of 1886. It were difficult to make an adequate statement of the causes of these serious troubles. It was not until after the Civil War that the first symptoms appeared of a renewal in the New World of the struggle which has been long going on in Europe between Capital and Labor. It had been hoped that such a conflict would never begin in America. The first difficulties of this sort in our country appeared in the mining regions, and in the factories of the Eastern States. The agitation soon spread in the West. As early as 1867 the peculiar mothod of action called "striking" began among the laborers of the country. An account of the great railroad strike of 1877 has already been presented. The years following this event were seasons of unusual plenty in production, and the troubles were not renewed.

From 1883 to 1886 a series of bad crops brought on a revival of the labor troubles. Meanwhile, a speculative mania had taken possession of the American markets. large amounts of capital had been turned from legitimate production to the buying and selling of margins. Stagnation ensued in business. Stocks declined in value, manufactories were closed, and the difficulty of obtaining employment was greatly enhanced. At the same time monopolies sprang up and flourished, and, coincident with this, American labor discovered the salutary but dangerous power of combination. A rage for organizing labor appeared in all departments of industry; nd the arrogant form of monopoly was opposed by the insurrectionary front of the working classes.

In the meantime a large mass of ignorant foreign labor had been imported into the United States. The manufactories and workshops were filled with the worst elements from several European kingdoms. The classes thus brought in were un-American in every respect. Communistic theories of society and anarchic views of government began to clash with the more sober Republican opinions and practices of the people. To all this were added the evils and abuses incident to the wage system of labor.

When the trade season of 1886 opened, a series of strikes and labor troubles broke out in several parts of the country. It was the cities and towns which were most involved in these agitations. The first serious conflict was on what is known as the Gould System of Railways in the southwest. A single workman, belonging to the Knights of Labor, and employed on a branch of the Texas and Pacific Railway, at that time under a receivership and therefore beyond the control of Jay Gould and his subordinates, was discharged from his place. This action was resented by the Knights, and the laborers on a great part of the Gould System were ordered to strike. The movement was, for a season, successful, and the transportation of freights from St. Louis to the southwest, ceased. Gradually, however, other workmen were substituted for the striking Knights; the movement of freights was resumed, and the strike ended in comparative failure; but this end was not reached until a severe riot in East St. Louis had occasioned the sacrifice of several innocent lives.

Far more alarming was the outbreak in Chicago. In that city the socialistic and anarchic elements were sufficiently powerful to present a bold front to the authorities. Processions bearing red flags and banners, with communistic devices and mottoes, frequently paraded the streets, and were addressed by demagogues who avowed themselves the open enemies of society and the existing order. On the 4th of May, 1886, a vast crowd of this reckless material collected in a place called the Haymarket, and were about to begin the usual inflammatory proceedings, when a band of policemen, mostly officers, drew near, with the evident purpose of controlling or dispersing the meeting.

A terrible scene ensued. Dynamite bombs were thrown from the crowd and exploded among the officers, several of whom were blown to pieces, and others shockingly mangled. The mob was, in turn, attacked by the police, and many of the insurgents were shot down. Order was presently restored in the city; several of the leading anarchists were arrested on the charge of inciting to murder, were tried, condemned, and four of them executed. Measures were taken to prevent the recurrence of such tragedies as had been witnessed in the Haymarket Square. On the day following the Chicago riot, a similar, though less dangerous, outbreak occurred in Milwaukee; but in this city the insurrectionary movement was suppressed without serious loss of life. The attention of the American people--let us hope to some good end--was called, as never before, to the dangerous relations existing between the upper and nether sides of our municipal populations.

The summer of 1886 is memorable on account of the great natural catastrophe known at the Charleston earthquake. On the night of the 31st of August, at ten minutes before ten o'clock, it was discovered at Washington city, and at several other points where weather and signal stations were established, that communications with Charleston, South Carolina, were suddenly cut off. Inquiries were sent out relative to the origin of the shock which had at that moment been felt, with varying degrees of violence, throughout nearly the whole country east of the Mississippi and south of the Great lakes. In a few minutes it was found that no telegraphic communication from any side could be had with Charleston, and it was at once perceived that that city had suffered from the convulsion.

Measures were hastily devised for further investigation, and the result showed that the worst apprehensions were verified. Without a moment's warning the city had been rocked and rent to its very foundations. Hardly a building in the limits of Charleston, or in the country surrounding, had escaped serious injury, and perhaps one-half of all were in a state of semi-wreck or total ruin.

Many scientists hurried to the scene and made a careful study of the phenomena, with a view to contributing something to the knowledge of mankind. One or two points were determined with tolerable accuracy. One was, that the point of origin, called the epicenter, of the great convulsion, had been at a place about twenty miles from Charleston, and that the motion of the earth immediately over this center had been nearly up and down, that is, vertical. A second point tolerably well established was, that the isoseismic lines, or lines of equal disturbance, might be drawn around the epicenter in circles very nearly concentric, and that the circle of greatest disturbance was at some distance from the center. Still a third item of knowledge tolerably well established was that away from the epicenter--as illustrated in the ruins of Charleston--the agitation of the earth was not in the nature of a single shock, or convulsion, as a dropping or sliding of the region to one side, but rather a series of very quick and violent oscillations, by which the central country of the disturbance was, in the course of some five minutes, settled considerably to seaward. The investigation made by the men of science did not, however, lead to the discovery of the primary cause of earthquakes, or of any means of protection against such catastrophes.

The whole coast in the central region of the disturbance was modified with respect to the sea, and the ocean itself was thrown into turmoil for leagues from the shore. The people in the city were in a state of the utmost consternation. They fled from their falling houses to the public squares and parks, and far into the country. Afraid to return into the ruins, they threw up tents and light booths for protection, and abode for weeks away from their homes. The convulsion was by far the greatest that this continent had experiences within the historical epoch. Nothing before in the limits of our knowledge has been at all comparable with it in extent and violence, except the great earthquake of New Madrid, in 1811.

The disaster to Charleston served to bring out some of the better qualities of our civilization. Personal assistance and contributions from all quarters poured in for the support and encouragement of the afflicted people. For several weeks a series of diminishing shocks continued to terrify the citizens and paralyze the efforts at restoration. But it was discovered in the course of time that these shocks were only the dying away of the great convulsion, and that they gave cause for hope of entire cessation rather than continued alarm. In the course of a few months the debris was cleared away, business was resumed, and the people were again safe in their homes.

On the 4th of March, 1887, the second session of the Forty-ninth Congress expired. The work of the body had not been so fruitful of results as had been desired and anticipated by the friends of the government; but some important legislation had been effected. On the question of the tariff nothing of value was accomplished. A measure of Revenue Reform had been brought forward at an early date in the session, but, owing to the opposition of that wing of the Democratic party headed by Hon. Samuel J. Randall, and committed to the doctrine of protection, as well as to the antagonism of the Republican majority in the Senate, the act failed of adoption. By the beginning of 1887, it became apparent that no legislation looking to any actual reform in the current revenue system of the United States, could be carried through Congress.

On the question of extending the pension list, however, the case was different. A great majority of both parties favored such measures as looked to the increase of benefits to the soldiers. At the first, only a limited number of pensions had been granted, and these only to actually disabled or injured veterans of the War for the Union. With the lapse of time it became more and more important to each of the parties to secure and hold the soldier vote, without which it was felt that neither could maintain ascendency in the government. A genuine patriotic sentiment and gratitude of the Nation to its defenders coincided in this respect with political ambition. The Arrears of Pensions Act, making up to those who were already recipients of pensions such amounts as would have accrued if the benefit had dated from the time of granting the pension, was passed in 1879; and at the same time the list of pensioners was greatly enlarged.

The measure presented in the Fiftieth Congress was designed to extend the pension list so as to include all regularly enlisted and honorably discharged soldiers of the Civil War who had become in whole or in part dependent upon the aid of others for their maintenance. The measure was known as the Dependent Pensions Bill. Many opposed the enactment of a law which appeared to give the bounty of the government to the deserving and the undeserving alike, and to compel the worthy recipients of pensions to rank themselves with those who had gone into the army for pay, and had been brought to want through improvidence. A majority was easily obtained for the measure in both Houses of Congress, and the act was passed. President Cleveland, however, interposed his veto; the effort in the House of Representatives to pass the measure over his opposition, failed, and the proosed law fell to the ground.

One of the most important laws of this administration was the Presidential Succession law of 1886. The Constitution makes no provision for filling the presidential office in case of death or disability of both President and Vice-President. A law had therefore been passed placing the president of the Senate and next the Speaker of the House in line of succession. This law was quite unsatisfactory. It might throw the government into the hands of the party that had been defeated at the polls by the people; or in case neither the Senate nor the House had chosen presiding officers there might be a lapse in the office of the President. This defect was corrected by the law of 1886, by which the line of succession runs through the Cabinet, beginning with the secretary of state. Any member of the Cabinet to be in line must be eligible to the presidency.

Another important law of the session was the act known as the Inter-State Commerce Bill. For some fifteen years complaints against the methods and management of the railways of the United States had been heard on many sides, and in cases not a few the complaints had originated in actual abuses, some of which were willful, but most were merely incidental to the development of a system so vast, and, on the whole, so beneficial to the public. In such a state of affairs the lasting benefit is always forgotten in the accidental hurt. A large class of people became clamorous that Congress should take the railways by the throat, and compel them to accept a system of uniformity as respected all charges for service rendered.

The Inter-State Commerce Bill was accordingly prepared, with a multitude of clauses requiring a Commission of lawyers for their interpretation. It was enacted that all freight carriage across State lines within the Union should be at the same rate per handred for all distance, and between all place, and under substantially the same conditions; and that passenger fares should be uniform for all persons. In the very nature of things railways are unable to carry freight at as small a rate per hundred, or passengers at as small a charge per mile, between places approximate as between places at great distances. In some regions it is many times more expensive to build and operate a railroad than in others. To carry one of these great thoroughfares over the Rocky Mountains is a very different thing from stretchng a similar track across the level prairies of Illinois. In the nature of the case, competition will do its legitimate work at an earlier date, and more thoroughly, between great cities than between unimportant points, however near together. But these natural conditions were overlooked in the bill, and it became a law. It is safe to say that no other measure ever adopted by the American Congress has been so difficult of application.

This period was noted for a revival of Interest in the Civil War. The memory of that conflict has been preserved in a series of authoritative publications, by some of the leading participants. This work, so important to the right understanding of the great struggle for and against the Union, was undertaken by General William T. Sherman, who, in 1875, published his Memoirs, narrating the story of that part of the war in which he had been a leader. This had been preceded by the history of the War Between the States, by Alexander H. Stephens, late Vice-President of the Confederacy. In 1884 General Grant began the publication of a series of war articles in the Century Magazine, which attracted universal attention, and which led to the preparation and publication of his Memoirs, in 1885-'86. Similar contributions have more recently been ublished by Generals George M. McClellan, John A. Logan, and Philip H. Sheridan. Other eminent commanders of the Union and Confederate armies have recorded their personal recollections of the conflict in which they bore a part, in an able and impartial literature of the war.

This revival, after a lapse of a quarter of a century, of patriotic memories, became an element in the political history of Cleveland's administration. There was a persistent effort by one of the political parties to use the war spirit for its own advantage; and the President, by some of his acts, gave opportunity for such advantage to be taken of his policy. The sessions of Congress, from 1885 to 1888, were noted for the excessive number of private pension bills which were passed. Many of these were doubtless devoid of merit. The President, in the exercise of his prerogative, vetoed such bills as he thought ill-advised, or against the public interest. In a number of his veto messages he made such references to the character of the bills, and to the unworthiness of the applications, as to furnish occasion for much bitter comment on his course.

It happened, also, that a measure prepared by the Secretary of War was approved by the President, for the restoration to the various States, and ultimately to the regiments from which they had been taken, of the Battle Flags of the Civil War. The most of such trophies had been captured from the Confederate armies. The President, without looking carefully into the matter, gave his assent to the order for the return of the flags in possession of the government; but presently revoked the order, allowing the old trophies to remain in keeping of the War Department, as before. The proposed measure, however, created much excitement in some parts of the country, and gave the opponents of the administration a second advantage on the score of the alleged unpatriotic course of the President. Several minor incidents were added of the same character, the whole constituting a body of charges used with much effect throughout the Northern states in the ensuing Presidential election.

Still another circumstance relating to the Rebellion belongs to this period of our country's history; namely, the death, within a limited period, of nearly all the great leaders in the Civil War. It was as though a whole generation of military captains and great civilians had been swept away. It can not be doubted that the hardships and intense excitements to which the participants were subjected, during the four years' conflict, had impaired the vitality of nearly all who were seriously engaged in the war.

In the spring of 1885 it became known that General Ulysses S. Grant was stricken with a fatal malady. The announcement at once drew to the General and ex-President the interest and sympathies of the whole American people. The hero of Vicksburg and Appomattox sank under the ravages of a malignant cancer, which had fixed itself in his throat. On the 23d of July, 1885, he expired at a summer cottage on Mount McGregor, New York. His last days were hallowed by the love of the nation which he had so gloriously defended. No funeral west of the Atlantic--not even that of Lincoln--was more universally observed. The procession in New York City was perhaps as imposing a pageant as was ever exhibited in honor of the dead, with the possible exception of the funeral of the Duke of Wellington, in London. On the 8th of August, the body of General Grant was laid to rest in Riverside Park, overlooking the Hudson. There, on the summit from which may be seen the great river and the metropolis of the nation, is the tomb of hm whose courage and magnanimity in war will forever give him rank with the few master spirits who have honored the human race, and changed the course of history.

Within less than three months from the funeral of Grant, another distinguished Union General fell. On the 29th of October, General George B. McClellan, at one time commander of the Army of the Potomac and General-in-Chief, subsequently Democratic candidate for the Presidency, and at a later period Governor of New Jersey, died at his home at St. Cloud, in that State. His conspicuous part during the first two years of the Civil War, his abilities as a soldier and as a citizen, and his unblemished character as a man, combined to heighten the estimate of his life, both public and private. After another brief interval, a third great military leader fell, in the person of General Winfield S. Hancock, Senior Major-General of the American Army. During the war he had won for himself the title of "Hero of Gettysburg." Afterwards, in 1880, he was the Democratic candidate for the Presidency against General Garfield. In the meantime, within a brief period, Generals Irwin McDowell, Ambrose E. Burnside, Joseph Hooker, and George G. Meade, each of whom, in a critical period of the war, had commanded the Army of the Potomac, passed away. Before the close of 1886 Major-General John A. Logan, greatest of the volunteer commanders, who, without previous military education, won for themselves distinguished honors in the War for the Union, fell sick and died at his home, called Calumet Place, in Washington City. At the outbreak of the war he had resigned his seat in Congress, joined the first advance of the Union Army, and fought in the battle of Bull Run. Subsequently, he had risen to the place of United States Senator from Illinois, and in 1884 was the Republican candidate for the Vice-Presidency.

In the meantime, several distinguished civilians had passed away--men who, like the military heroes, had borne a great part in public affairs at the epoch of the Civil War. On the 25th of November, 1885, Vice-President Thomas A. Hendricks, after what was supposed to be a trifling illness of a single day, died suddenly, at his home in Indianapolis. His life had been one of singular purity, and the amenities of his character were conspicuous in the stormy arena of American politics. His death was soon followed by that of Horatio Seymour, of New York. On the 12th of February, 1886, this distinguished citizen, who had been Governor of the Empire State, and a condidate for the Presidency against General Grant, died at his home in Utica. Still more distinguished in reputation and ability was Samuel J. Tilden, also of New York, who died at his home, called Greystone, at Yonkers, near New York City, on the 4th of August, 1886. Mr. Tilden had made a great impression on the political thought of the epoch. He had acquired within his own party an influence and ascendency far greater than that of any other statesman of his times. His intellectual force could not be doubted, nor could it be claimed that he failed to apply his faculties assiduously to the greatest political questions of the age. He was essentially a public man, and in his last days prepared a famous paper on the Coast and Harbor Defenses of the United States, which led to a wide discussion of the question and to the legislation of the Forty-nineth Congress on that important subject.

To this list of deaths much be added the illustrious name of Henry Ward Beecher, to whom, with little reservation, must be assigned the first place among our orators and philanthropists. Nor is it likely that his equal in most of the sublime qualities of manhood will soon be seen again on the great stage of life. His personality was so large and striking as to constitute the man a class by himself. He had the happy fortune to retain his faculties unimpaired to the close of his career. On the evening of the 5th of March, 1887, at his home in Brooklyn, he sank down under a stroke of apoplexy. He was nearing the close of his seventy-fourth year. He lived until the moring of the 8th, and quietly entered the shadows. He was followed to the grave by the common eulogium of mankind, and every circumstance of his passing away showed that he had occupied the supreme place among men of his class in America.

On the 18th of April, 1888, at the Hoffman House, New York City, Roscoe Conkling, ex-Senator of the United States, died after a brief and painful illness. A local inflammation, brought on by exposure to the most violent snowstorm with which New York had been visited within the memory of man, extended to his brain and caused his death. He had reached the age of fifty-nine years. Few men in America have led a more stormy career. During six years of service in the House of Representatives, and afterwards in the Senate of the United States, he sought and won leadership by constant battle, contention, and antagonism. Twice was he re-elected Senator of the United States. In 1880, he led the forces of General Grant in the Chicago Convention. After the accession of Garfield to the Presidency, he broke with the administration, and suddenly resigned from the Senate, living thenceforth the life of a private citizen, in New York city. For many years he was the rival of mr. Blaine in the leadership of the Republican party. His talents rose to the region of genius; and his presence was an inspiration to his friends and a terror to his enemies.

On the 23d of March, 1888, Morrison R. Waite, Chief Justice of the United States, died at his home in Washington city. The event justifies a few paragraphs relative to the history of the great tribunal over which Judge Waite presided during the last fourteen years of his life.

In the formation of the Constitution of the United States, it was intended that the three general departments of the Government should be of equal rank and influence. The importance of our great national Court, in determining the final validity of all legislation, can hardly be overestimated. The Supreme Bench is the only immovable breakwater against the unscrupulous spirit of party. It is fortunate that the offices of our Chief Justices, and of the associate Justiceships, are appointive, and are thus removed from the passion of partisan elections. It may be of interest to glance at some of the vicissitudes through which the Supreme Court has passed since its organization, in 1789.

The court was first instituted by the appointment of John Jay as Chief Justice, who held the office until 1794, when he gave place first to John Rutledge, who was not confirmed, and, in 1706, to Oliver Ellsworth. The latter presided over the court until, in 1800, the infirmities of age compelled his resignation. Then came the long and honorable ascendency of Chief Justice John Marshall, who held the office from his appointment, in 1801, to his death, in 1835. This was the Golden Age of the Supreme Court. From 1835 to 1837 there was a vacancy in the chief justiceship, occasioned by the disagreement of President Jackson and the Senate of the United States; but at the latter date the President secured the confirmation of Judge Roger B. Taney as Chief Justice, who entered upon his long term of twenty-seven years. It was his celebrated decision in the case of the negro, Dred Scott, relative to the status of the slave race in America, that aided in applying the torch and lighting the flames of the Civil War.

At the death of Chief Justice Taney, in 1864, President Lincoln appointed as his successor Salmon P. Chase, recently Secretary of the Treasury, and author of most of the great financial measures and expedients by which the national credit had been preserved during the Rebellion. His official term extended to his death, in 1873, and covered the period when the important issues arising from the Civil War were under adjudication. To Chief Justice Chase fell, also, by virtue of his office, the duty of presiding at the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson. In 1874 the appointment of Morrison R. Waite as Chief Justice was made by President Grant; and the death of this able jurist devolved on President Cleveland and the Senate the duty of naming his successor. Judge Melville W. Fuller, of Chicago, was appointed, and confirmed on the 30th of April, 1888.

During the whole of Cleveland's administration the public mind was swayed and excited by the movements of politics. The universality of partisan newspapers, the combination in their columns of all the news of the world, with the invectives, misrepresentations, and countercharges of party leaders, kept political questions constantly uppermost to the detriment of social progress and industrial interests. Scarcely had President Cleveland entered upon his office as chief magistrate when the question of the succession to the Presidency was agitated. The echoes of the election of 1884 had not died away before the rising murmur of that of 1888 was heard.

By the last year of the administration it was seen that there would be no general break-up of the existing parties. It was also perceived that the issues between them must be made, rather than found in the existing state of affairs. The sentiment in the United States in favor of the constitutional prohibition of the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors had become somewhat extended and intensified since the last quadrennial election. But the discerning eye might perceive that the real issue was between the Republican and Democratic parties, and that the questions involved were to be rather those of the past than of the future.

One issue, however, presented itself which had a living and practical relations to affairs, and that was the question of the tariff on foreign imports. Since the campaign of 1884, the agitation had been gradually extended. At the opning of the session, in 1887, the President, in his annual message to Congress, departed from all precedent, and devoted the whole document to the discussion of the single question of a Reform of the Revenue System of the United States. The existing rates of duty on imported articles of commerce had so greatly augmented the income of the Government that a large surplus had accumulated, and was still accumulating, in the treasury of the United States. This fact was made the basis of the President's argument in favor of a new system of revenue, or at least an ample reduction in the tariff rates under the old. It was immediately charged by the Republicans that the project in question meant the substitution of the system of Free Trade in the United States as against the system of protective duties. The question thus involved was made the bottom issue in the Presidential campaign of 1888.

As to the nomiees of the various parties, it was from the first a foregone conclusion that Mr. Cleveland would be nominated for re-election by the Democrats. The result justified the expectation. The Democratic National Convention was held in St. Louis, on the 5th day of June, 1888, and Mr. Cleveland was renominated by acclamation. For the Vice-Presidential nomination there was a considerable contest; but, after some balloting, the choice fell on ex-Senator Allen G. Thurman, of Ohio. The Republican National Convention was held in Chicago, on the 19th day of June. Many candidates were ardently pressed upon the body, and the contest was long and spirited. It was believed, up to the time of the convention, that Mr. Blaine, who was evidently the favorite of a great majority, would be again nominated for the Presidency. But the antagonisms which that statesman had awakened in his own party made it imprudent to bring him forward again as the nominee. His name was accordingly not presented to the convention. The most prominent candidates were Senator John Sherman, of Ohio; Judge Walter Q. Gresham, of Chicago; Chauncy M. Depew, of New York; ex-Governor Russell A. Alger, of Michigan; ex-Senator Benjamin Harrison, of Indiana, and Senator William B. Allison, of Iowa. The voting was continued to the eighth ballot, when the choice fell upon Benjamin Harrison, of Indiana. In the evening, Levi P. Morton, of New York, was nominated for the Vice-Presidency on the first ballot.

In the meantime, the Prohibition party had held its National Convention at Indianapolis, and on the 30th of May had nominated for the Presidency, General Clinton B. Fish, of New Jersey, and for the Vice-Presidency, John A. Brooks, of Missouri. The Democratic platform declared for a reform of the revenue system of the United States, and reaffirmed the principle of adjusting the tariff on imports with strict regard to the actual needs of governmental expenditure. The Republican platform declared also for a reform of the tariff schedule, but at the same time stoutly affirmed the maintenance of the protective system as such, as a part of the permanent policy of the United States. Both parties deferred to the patriotic sentiment of the country in favor of the soldiers, their rights and interests, and both endevored, by the usual incidental circumstances of the hour, to gain the advantage of the other before the American people. The Prohibitionists entered the campaign on the distent proposition that the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors should be prohibited throughout the United States, by constitutional amendment. To this was added a clause in favor of extending the right of suffrage to women.

As the canvass progressed during the summer and autumn of 1888, it became evident that the result was in doubt. The contest was exceedingly close. As in 1880 and 1884, the critical States were New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Indiana. In all of the other Northern States the Republicans were almost certain to win, while the Democrats were equally certain of success in all the South. In the last weeks of the campaign, General Harrison grew in favor, and his party gained perceptibly to the close. The result showed success for the Republican candidate. He received 233 electoral votes, against 168 votes for Mr. Cleveland. The latter, however, appeared to a better advantage on the popular county, having a considerable plurality over General Harrison. General Fisk, the Prohibition candidate, received nearly three hundred thousand votes; but under the system of voting, no electoral vote of any State was obtained for him in the so-called "College," by which the actual choice is made. As soon as the result was known, the excitement attendant upon the campaign subsided, and political questions gave place to other interests.

The last days of Cleveland's administration and of the Fiftieth Congress were signalized by the admission into the Union of four new States, making the number forty-two. Since the incoming of Colorado, in 1876, no State had been added to the republic. Meanwhile the tremendous tides of population had continued to flow to the west and northwest, rpaidly filling up the great Territories. Of these the greatest was Dakota, with its area of 150,932 square miles. In 1887 the question of dividing the Territory by a line running east and west was agitated, and the measure finally prevailed. Steps were taken by the people of both sections for admission into the Union. Montana, with her 145,776 square miles of territory, had meanwhile acquired a sufficient population; and Washington Territory, with its area of 59,994 square miles, also knocked for admission. In the closing days of the Fiftieth Congress a bill was passed raising all of these four Territoris--South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, and Washington--to the plane of Statehood. The act comtemplated the adoption of State constitutions, and a proclamation of admission by the next President. It thus happened that the honor of bringing in this great addition to the States of the Union was divided between the outgoing and incoming administrations.

Another act of Congress was also of national importance. Hitherto the government had been administered through seven departments, at the head of each of which was placed a Cabinet officer, the seven together constituting the advisers of the President. No provision for such an arrangement exists in the Constitution of the United States; but the statutes of the nation provide for such a system as most in accordance with the republican form of government. Early in 1889, a measure was brought forward in Congress and adopted, for the institution of a new department, to be called the Department of Agriculture. Practically the measure involved the elevation of what had previously been an Agricultural Bureau in the Department of the Interior, to the rank of a Cabinet office. Among foreign nations France has been conspicuous for the patronage which the Government has given to the agricultural pursuits of the country. Hitherto in the United States, though agriculture has been the greatest of all the producing interests of the people, it had been neglected for more political and less useful departments of American life and enterprise. By this act of Congress, the Cabinet officers were increased in number to eight instead of seven.

Return to Ridpath's History of the United States Table of Contents
Return to E-Books Index
Return to California AHGP Home Page
Return to Sacramento County AHGP Home Page

© 2000-2002 by Jacque Rogers