The First Decade of the Twentieth Century
When McKinley for the second time entered upon the duties of the high office to which he had been chosen, it was with a consciousness of new and grave responsibilities. Firmly and manfully he had declared his policies and purposes as his duty appeared, and his second term promised the conclusion of a notable and useful public career.
Prosperity and unparalleled activity ruled supreme. The nation which had selected William McKinley as its chief ruler was on the pinnacle of its glory. The balance of trade in favor of the United States reached the stupendous figure of $664,900,000. The fires under the political caldron had burned out, and harmony reigned from North to South and East to West. While, for McKinley, Destiny seemed to point to only the propitious, it held for him, deeply veiled, the tragedy, the tears, and the sorrows of his beloved nation.
Twice before had the nation been called into the house of mourning for its chief by the hand of an assissin. The gentle Mckinley, with no known foes, and no fears, was the third victim of the dastardly weapon of death, this time in the hand of one of a licensed class who are a menace to the government.
In the spring of 1900 the President had made an extensive tour of the country and his reception had been most cordial and enthusiastic in all sections. During the summer, under the direction of the great statesman, John Hay, Secretary of State, the United States, conjointly with other nations, had put down the serious "Boxer" uprising in China.
During the summer of 1901 a fair of great splendor and completeness was held at Buffalo, N. Y., by the nations of the Western Continent, called the Pan-American Exposition. The 5th of September was designated "President's Day," and President McKinley was formally invited to be the guest of the day. On this occasion he delivered his last noteworthy address, which proved to be his last to the American people.
The next day, September 6th, it was arranged that he hold an informal reception when he might greet and shake hands with the general public, which was greatly appreciated by the visiting throngs, affording an opportunity for many to meet the President who had not had this pleasure. Long lines of people had formed to pass the platform on which McKinley stood, and a hundred or so had passed and heard his kind words of greeting, when a youthful man approached, with his right hand apparently bandaged with a handkerchief. Sympathetically the President took the stranger's extended left hand with a kindly smile, when two shots rang out almost at once, and the President for a moment stood dazed, then fell into gentle arms. Both shots had hit their mark. The President's first words were solicitude for his wife, and next that the assissin be not hurt. The name of the murderer was Leon Czolgosz, a pupil of Emma goldman, the noted anarchist. He was quickly seized, but with difficulty saved from fatal violence. The news at first quelled the great throng into strange silence, then arose the hoarse death scream of the mob, but the confusion was quelled and the prisoner gotten safely to the jail and into a cell. The wounded President was hastily removed to the Exposition Hospital and there operated on, and later taken to the Milburn residence, where he lingered, while the nation wept and prayed and hoped for eight days. The wound had been fatal, and there was no hope from the first, and President McKinley died on the 14th day of September.
A profound and overwhelming wave of sorrow and grief passed over the whole country. The body of the dead President lay in state at Buffalo and at the Capitol at Washington, whence it was taken to Canton and laid to final rest.
McKinley's final biographers will write him down as a manof high moral character, without remarkable initiative, a shrewd judge of human nature, like Lincoln, able to read public sentiment and cautious not to antagonize it. It was his policy to follow public sentiment rather than to form it. He was never hasty in forming his opinions, but deliberate in arriving at conclusions, giving time for fanaticism to wane and fallacies to disappear. McKinley was of the safe and sane type of statesman, but lacing in those great qualities necessary to stand alone when great crises arise. He would scarcely be listed in the class who achieve greatness, but possibly with those who have greatness thrust upon them.
When Theodore Roosevelt, who had been elected Vice-President over Adlai E. Stevenson, took the oath of office as President of the United States, there was considerable apprehension, until he announced his purpose to retain the McKinley Cabinet and to continue the McKinley policies in the administration of national affairs. President Roosevelt was by nature impulsive, self-assertive, aggressive. He was also the youngest man ever in the office, being only forty-three.
His subsequent term of seven and a half years in the presidency proved to be the most strenuous of any President in the history of the country save that of Andrew Jackson. Roosevelt, while a Republican in party affiliations, was very progressive and democratic in his views, and his position was inevitably to be that of a party reformer rather than a party leader. His innate impetuosity, his dedactic method of expression, and conspicuous egotism could not fail to produce clashes and misunderstandings with leaders of his party. Chief among these powerful antagonists was Senator Hanna, of Ohio, who would probably have been a troublesome rival for the presidency in the next convention but for his removal by death, in February, 1904.
Soon after the election of 1896 corporate capital began to assume new and larger proportions in the industrial world. Combinations were fomred and capital was centralized into what were called trusts. These conditions were growing and after the Republican victory of 1900 the prophecy of Bryan relative to the menacing power of corporate wealth was rapidly being fulfilled. Trusts were springing up on every hand. The prosperity of the country had apparently fostered an unscrupulous spirit of greed and graft, furthered by hirelings in legislative lobbies and city halls, that became the shame of the country. The big "interests," which like a boa constrictor were swallowing small competitors on right and left, were beginning to cause alarm.
The railroads, which were in fact part of the trusts, by discrimination in rates decapitated small concerns at will. This ultimately led to the Railroad Bill, one of the most important pieces of legislation of the times. During these few, but remarkable years' growth, the fecundity of the soil was so great as to produce in addition to the pioneer Oil Trust, the Beef Trust, the Sugar Trust, the Steel Trust, and others, representing hundreds of millions of capital in the hands and under the control of a few individuals.
The clash of the State and Federal laws made the question of the regulation or limitation of these powerful combinations one of great complexity and difficulty. Here was a battlefield with real giants worthy the steel of the most ambitious and aggressive. To the credit of President Rooseveltbe it said, though he ridiculed Bryan, when he saw the storm gathering in fulfilment of Bryan's predictions and warnings, he met the issue squarely and forcefully, and his public utterances and activities were unceasing from 1902 to the close of his second term in 1909.
The first noteworthy act of President Roosevelt was in 1902 when he interfered where a more cautious man would not have ventured. An extensive coal strike in the anthracite mining regions of Pennsylvania had thrown 150,000 miners out of work and produced a coal famine, which was causing widespread suffering. The President gratuitously and unofficially called the officials of union labor and the mine owners into a conference at Washington, where, diplomatically, they were led to sign an agreement, calling off the strike for two years. Great distress was temporarily averted and matters were so adjusted in two years that no resumption of the strike occurred. The President had done "A very big thing, and an entirely new thing," was the comment of the London Times.
In January, 1902, President Roosevelt sent a message to Congress with recommendations looking toward the construction of an Isthmian canal, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Ocens, shortening the waterway between New York and San Francisco by eighty-five hundred miles, and from the eastern coast to Australia by four thousand miles. For fifty years this project had been under consideration by various nations, and as early as 1850 a treaty (Clayton-Bulwer) had been made by the United States and Great Britain relative to its accomplishment. Later in France a company was organized, and large amounts of money put into a proposed similar enterprise, but it ended in failure. The action of Congress in response to the President's message authorized the purchase of the French interest for forty million dollars, appropriating a hundred and seventy million dollars for the construction of the canal across the Isthmus of Panama.
A tedious delay was experienced in concluding a treaty with Columbia, and the inhabitants of Panama seceded from Columbia, setting up an independent republic, and within three or four days the United States recognized the independence of Panama, and all difficulties relative to beginning work on the canal were settled. The haste of the United States in recognizing the new republic had no precedent in international dealings, and the President was subject of much censorious criticism, but the great nations of Europe were equally interested with the United States in the canal project, and the public at home and abroad soon forgot this lapse of presidential conventionalism. The treaty entered into by the United States with Panama secured for the new republic its independence and granted to the Panama government a bonus of ten million dollars.
The canal belt is ten miles wide, which territory is under the government of the United States. The length is about fifty miles and the depth is to be 40 feet, with a width of 280 feet at the top and 200 feet at the bottom. Activities preparatory to beginning the "digging" were started in the early spring of 1904. A year was consumed in the work of sanitation and organization. The canal will be neutral waters, available for the vessels of all nations, can never be blockaded, and the time of occupancy to belligerents limited to twenty-four hours. The total expense to the United States when completed will exceed three hundred million dollars. The enterprise is the biggest undertaking of modern times and will materially affect the commercial and shipping interests of the world.
The year 1903 was the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase. The following year this historic act of Thomas Jefferson was commemorated on a most magnificent scale at St. Louis, Missouri. The St. Louis world's fair of 1904 was not a novelty after such as had been held at Chicago a decade before, and the Pan-American at buffalo three years previous, but the magnitude of the enterprise had never been equaled. The area of the grounds was twelve hundred and forty acres, double that at Chicago, and the expense of the fair was fully ten millions greater than at Chicago.
With new features added commensurate with human progress, here was concentered a representation of the advancement of the races--in the arts, science, and invention, and in fact everything pertaining to human industry and attainment--from nearly every part of the earth. It was an aggregation too vast for the mind to grasp.
The fair opened in the early spring and was closed in November, and was visited by about twenty million people. In addition to the general buildings, of which the Agriculture building was the largest, covering twenty acres, were those erected by the various States of the Union, and also of foreign nations. The imposing grandeur of the buildings, the artistic beauty of the grounds, all intensified by magnificent electrical illumination at night, presented a scene of marvelous splendor. Like other expositions, but on a larger scale and brought down to date, it was a panorama of the world's work, in the most beautiful setting that artistic and ingenious skill could devise.
The strenuous and versatile President had attracted a great deal of attention in all quarters and no little opposition in some. The captains of industry who spoke for the corporate interests representing great aggregations of capital, had formulated plans to eliminate Roosevelt. Extensive steps had been taken to influence labor to turn against the President, but the death of Senator Hanna demoralized the opposition, and Roosevelt thenceforth became the dictator of his party.
The prosecution by Attorney-General Knox of the Northern Securities "merger" and its disolution had alarmed and exasperated capital's chiefs, who through their subsidized press sought to discredit the President as unsafe, revolutionary, and destructive, menacing national prosperity, thus arousing apprehension and mistrust in the unsuspicious mind. When his enemies saw their bubble burst there was a disgraceful scramble to get back within the regular party lines. The date of the convention--June 21st, 1904--found Capital at Chiago, the place of meeting, humbly bowing before the "big stick," and decorously supporting the "unsafe" President. Roosevelt was nominated by acclamation, and Charles W. Fairbanks, of Indiana, was named for second place.
In the platform was the declaration for a protective tariff, an ambiguous reference to trusts, and an unreserved indorsement of Roosevelt's policies.
A few weeks later, the 6th of July, a dramatic convention was held at St. Louis by the Democrats. Twice before in national convention the Democratic party, as it had been known in the past, lost its identity and was submerged by the radicals, dominated by Mr. Bryan. But the conservative wing of the party had regained control, due partly to two successive defeats of the radicals, and the political kaleidoscope showed the incongruous picture of a very conservative Democratic party and a very radical Republican party.
A fiasco of W. R. Hearst, a millionaire newspaper owner, was the only opposition to Judge Alton B. Parker, of New York, who was nominated on the first ballot. Parker was a gold Democrat, and wired the convention to this effect. No money plank had been inserted in the platform, and no opposition was raised against the candidate because of his views. Henry G. Davis, of West Virginia, eighty years of age, was named for the Vice-Presidency.
Bryan, who was delegate-at-large, was very active in the convention, and though he was outvoted on important questions, his graceful submission to the will of the majority won for him much admiration and many friends. While many thousands of Bryan followers stayed away from the polls, Bryan was loyal to his party and vigorously joined in the campaign for Judge Parker.
President Roosevelt was elected by an overwhelming majority, due to a solid Republican host of Bryan idolaters, as was to be demonstrated four years later, who refused to vote at all. After the St. Louis convention Mr. Bryan grew in strength, and after the election of Roosevelt, his opinions still had great weight among his millions of followers. His declarations were not misleading nor ambiguous, nor qualified so as to be misunderstood. His statements were not couched in obscure platitudes. He was definite, concrete, and positive. He took the position that the questions at issue were not merely a matter of policy or political expediency, but involved eternal ethical principles. To a host of American citizens he was the ablest and clearest exponent of their convictions, and it was obvious that Bryan was not a dead issue in American politics.
The result of the election was such a hearty public indorsement of the Roosevelt policies that the President proceeded to conclude his first, and to enter upon his second term with pronounced self-confidence and virile independence.
Early in 1904 by his action qgainst the Beef Trust and the Northern Securities "merger," notice had been served as to what might be expected if Roosevelt was reelected. The Senate was not in sympathy with the reformatory spirit of the President, and this historic, blase body of colonial dignitaries were not slow to manifest their disapproval of the youthful President's unconventional enthusiasm to reach criminals in high places.
As President of a great nation Roosevelt was a unique character. He was a combination of qualities rarely found in one man. He was dramatic and vehement, irascible and vindictive. He was loquacious, marvelously versatile, and the public listened and applauded the vociferous, ethical utterances of the President. He was athletic, didactic, sometimes comic, and the pleased, amused public again approved and applauded. In the arena of serious action the constituents of the President were intensely earnest and sympathetic in their approval. He was a shrewd politician and yet remarkably courageous, and the results proved the expedience of his courage, and that he was stronger than his party. His defects were natural and human, and therefore condoned, and his vivacity and courage were human virtues, believed to be exercised in the interests of the common good, and therefore, to him, were elements of strength and popularity.
In the beginning of President Roosevelt's second term in 1905, there arose a civic spirit of reform throughout the length and breadth of the nation, strengthened by the accepted standards of the administration's moral code. Civil federations were formed in the cities, and where reform candidates were chosen in the nunicipal elections, it was revealed that organized gangs of grafters had been looting the treasuries for years, involving millions of dollars. In Philadelphia Mayor Weaver's war against municipal graft was notorious all over the land. The bribing of legislatures by hired corporation lobbyists, the powerful influence over lawmakers by the liquor interests, aroused great activity and resulted in the abolition of the lobbyist in various States and a Prohibition tidal wave over many States. The liquor question in most of the States took the form of county option, or local option making the county unit.
During the summer of 1905 there were international publicity, much excitement, and not a little apprehension, caused by an official investigation of the great life insurance companies of New York. For years these giant institutions had been managed by a coterie of men who had not been required to make an accounting, and the investigation revealed the reckless and lavish use of millions of trust funds. these mammoth institutions, created out of the people's savings, while subject to peculations, were found to be built on a rock which could not be shattered, and were perfectly solvent with many millions of surplus.
The veneficial effect of the sensational investigation was the wholesale dismissal of the culpable officers, stringent legislation for strict supervision and regulation of the insurance business, and a material reduction in the ultimate cost of insurance. Public attention was brought to the fact that the life insurance business had grown to be one of the greatest commercial and beneficient institutions of the world, holding an aggregate for disbursement of billions of dollars. The reform thus effected in the great American companies, with extensive business in foreign countries, resulted in placing the business on high commercial lines and increased public confidence.
The annual Presidential message, which was sent to Congress December 6, 1904, was voluminous and dealt mainly with industrial problems. Legislative control of large capital was urged, and a plea was made for a powerful navy, a Statehood bill was recommened, but the most important question brought to the attention of Congress was that of the regulation of railway rates.
The indictments returned by the Grand Jury of Portland, Oregon, against Senator John H. Mitchell, Congressmen Binger Hermann, and John N. Williamson for complicity in extensive land frauds, aroused much indignation and was the forerunner of public interest and agitation along the lines of conservation of national public utilities.
On the 6th of March the President's new Cabinet was announced. Among them were John Hay, Secretary of State; William H. Taft, Secretary of War; George B. Cortelyou, Postmaster-General, with other strong men holding the portfolios of the different departments. The Cabinet suffered a serious loss on July 1st in the death of the Secretary of State, John Hay, who had commanded great respect and admiration at home and abroad, as a most trustworthy and able public servant in a very high office. Mr. Elihu Root, of New York, was appointed to fill the vacancy, and at the same time Charles J. Bonaparte, of Maryland, was appointed Secretary of the Navy to succeed Paul Morton, resigned. The Government was feeling its way, sounding this and that commercial structure, looking into dark corners, tapping the walls, and opening erstwhile locked doors, seeking hidden causes for the distress and industrial unrest coexistent with a period of universal commercial prosperity. In July, 1905, things were found by the Government sleuths which results in the indictment of twenty-six officials of the great packing companies and transportation agencies, for conspiracy in restraint of trade. Little came of it so far as it related to punishment of the guilty, but it served one great purpose; it directed the public eye aright to discover the Jonah of the Ship of State, and it demonstrated that the cause of the industrial national trouble could be found and the big criminals could be caught.
Labor a Capital were at war in many localities. The New England States, New York, Chicago, and Colorado were the centers of the greatest agitation. The Fall River textile strike, finally settled by Governor Douglas, of Massachusetts, had lasted six months. In Chicago, some months later, the teamsters' strike grew to be sesrious and destructive to life and property. The coal strike of 1906, which involved fifteen States, and a biter war between capital and labor in Colorado, culminating in the famous trial and confession of the notorious Harry Orchard, all indicated that the two great keepers of national wealth and prosperty were not merely pausing, but were in the throes of a mighty struggle. The coincident circumstances intensified the feeling in many quarters against the trusts, and the legal battle against this American leviathan was begun and not to be terminated for long years. The American people will await with no little apprehension the final issue as to whether the Government or the trusts shall rule.
The race problem, which has always been an issue in the States, was conspicuously brought to public attention in various localities during this period. Numerous cases of lynching and race riots occurred in Louisiana, Alabama, and Texas, all south of Mason and Dixon's line, but there were some serious riots calling for military interference in Ohio, Missouri, and other Nothern States.
On the 18th of April, 1906, the whole country was startled by news of a most terrible catastrophe at San Francisco. This beautiful and populous city of almost half a million people, the pride of the West, was smitten and laid in ruins and ashes by the most severe earthquake ever known on the continent. At a few minutes past five o'clock on Wednesday morning, April the 18th, when some were arising, many more still soundly sleeping, there was a shiver which ran over the city, quickly followed by other tremors more severe, when inhabitants were aroused by crashing timbers and falling buildings. Sleeping families found roofs falling in, floors hurled to the street. In seconds rather than minutes, the streets were full of ruins and swarming, screaming, unclothed men, women, and children. the startling eruption of Mt. Vesuvius earlier in the same month had given evidence of seismic disturbance, but at San Francisco and vicinity the disturbances were vastly greater. The city had been subject to subterranean disturbances and minor shocks had caused damage at intervals during the century. Brick and stone had not been used to any extent in building, more than ninety per cent. of the structures being of wood, nor were they extremely high, the Chronicle Building of ten stories being one of the highest. This unparalleled shock was too severe for even the wooden buildings to withstand, and hundreds of lives were lost in the wreckage of the homes and hotels destroyed. The great City Hall collapsed, as also did the Palace Hotel. A large part of the property loss was due to the spread of conflagration. The wreckage started many fires, the water supply was destroyed, and the fire department helpless, and could only resort to dynamite in the effort to check the flames. The 'quake cut off communication from the rest of the world by wire and rail. The people by the thousands were left in a primitive state in the streets and the parks. As soon as steam and human sympathy could bring relief, millions in money and food and clothes were sent to the sufferers. Tents and food were also furnished by the United States army, and the city placed under martial law. Other points in California were within the beltlines of seismic disturbance, and suffered serious loss, especially in property.
Leland Stanford University at Palo Alto, thirty miles south of San Francisco, was terribly shattered. Santa Rosa, north of San Francisco, suffered great loss of life and property. Five hundred miles south of San Francisco, at Los Angeles, several undestructive shocks were felt. The good cheer on the part of the unfortunate homeless, rich and poor, was remarkable. The people instinctively appeared to drop back into the primitive state of equality. All standards of value were annihilated. Life was the priceless thing. the code of morals and conduct instantly and automatically put into effect was the corollary of our faith in humanity and everlasting human progress. The loss in property to San Francisco ran into the hundreds of millions, the destructive fires for days spreading over the best portions of the residence and business sections of the city. When stock was taken it was found that by removal and other losses the population of San Francisco was depleted by many thousands. Immediate and determined steps were taken to rebuild, on a grand scale, what should be known as the "new" San Francisco, and the rapidity and magnificence of the reconstruction of the ruined city of the Golden Gate are a marvel of American energy and achievement.
In political and governmental affairs there were several incidents of world interest during this year. In August a rebellion broke out in Cuba, and spread with such rapidity and became so formidable that President Palma requested the United States to intervene, and our President promptly responding with an armed force, peace was quickly restored without difficulty.
On the 9th day of August, 1906, Russian and Japanese envoys, in response to an invitation from the President, met at Portsmouth Navy Yard to agree upon a treaty of peace, terminating the Russo-Japanese War. This result was diplomatically brought about and the treaty signed September 5th. Owing to serious international complication which had arisen at the close of the war between Japan and Russia, in arranging peace terms, it was regarded as a spendid stroke of diplomacy on the part of the President of the United States when he succeeded in getting the two nations to agree upon and sign a treaty of peace on neutral grounds.
Earlier during the year, in May, the remains of John Paul Jones, long in obscurity, were discovered and brought from France to the United States and sepultured in Bancroft Hall, at Annapolis Naval Academy, with fitting national honors.
The session of Congress which closed the 30th of August, 1906, marked more important legislation than for many years. After a biter struggle between the President and Congress the Railroad Rate Act was passed in a modified form from the original draft, but as finally passed it authorized the Inter-State Commerce Commission to fix maximum rates when the rate is complained of, leaving to the railroads the right of appeal to the courts. It compels the railroads to have a published uniform freight rate. It prohibits discrimination in freight or passenger traffic, prohibits the giving of passes, makes sleeping cars and express companies common carriers, and has an extensive effect for the betterment of the railroad traffic of the country.
Another most important and far-reaching law enacted by the Fifty-nineth Congress was the Pure Food Lqw, brought about largely through the able and untiring efforts of Dr. Harvey W. Wiley, who has been in the Government service for many years. This law applies to all inter-State trade and provides a penalty for adulterations, misbrands, and use of poisons in foods, drugs, medicines, and liquors. This law met with great opposition from fake patent medicine concerns and their ilk, but was one of the most beneficial acts of Congress in many years.
In March, 1906, some disturbance arose in the Philippine Islands, a considerable insurrection having been stirred up by the Moros. Prompt action on the part of the United States in sending additional troops and vigorous measures adopted by the military on the islands soon quelled the disturbance and complete order was restored. The loss in consequence of the insurrection was six hundred Moros and seventeen Americans killed.
As in the autumn elections of every even-numbered year a new national House of Representatives is chosen, the public takes an interest second only to that awakened by the quadrennial Presidential contest. This interest is always greatly enhanced by various State elections that come at the same time. In the autumn of 1906 the one State to attract national attention above all others was New York. For governor of this State the Republicans nominated Charles E. Hughes, a lawyer of great ability, who had won national fame by his masterly way of conducting the life insurance proble.
The Democratic candidate was William R. Hearst, the millionaire proprietor of a chain of newspapers scatterd from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Mr. Hearst had organized a new party called the Independence League, and this party had first put him in nomination for the governorship. The Democrats were at this moment without a strong leader in New York, and from the fact that tey knew that Mr. Hearst would draw many votes from their party, they ratified the nomination of the Independence League and made him their candidate also.
As the compaign progressed it became clear that if Hearst won the governorship he would become a very prominent figure, and probably the logical Democratic candidate for the Presidency two years hence. But a great many Democrats did not like the radical journalist and his methods, and they were sure to cut him in the election. Moreover, the administration took an active hand in the campaign. President Roosevelt sent Secretary Elihu Root into the State, and at Utica Root delivered a scathing philippic against Hearst that has few parallels since the days of Demosthenes.
The result of this extraordinary election was that Hearst was defeated by a plurality of about 53,000, while the remainder of the Democratic ticket was elected by small margins. This threw Hearst again into the background, insured the continued Democratic national leadership to Mr. Bryan, and made Hughes one of the foremost Republican leaders in the nation.
In other States the campaigns were locally important, but far less national in interest than in New York. Pennsylvania had a fierce campaign, a newly formed "Lincoln party" having joined with the Democrats in the hope of overthrowing the regular Republican machine, headed by United States Senator Penrose. In this they failed, and Edwin S. Stuart, the regular Republican nominee, was chosen governor. The New England States all remained in the Republican column, except Rhode Island, which elected a Democrat. Mr. Higgins, governor by a small plurality. In the Middle West there were few surprises in the State elections. Governor Johnson, Democrat, of Minnesota, was reelected by a majority of sixty thousand, while the new State of Oklahoma was completely captured by the Democrats, who would therefore be entitled to write the new constitution for the State.
The new Congress showed a decided falling off in the Republican majority, but yet a sufficient working majority (something above fifty) in the new House. For an off year this was considered a very good showing, one of the best, indeed, in the history of the country for the party in power. It certainly revealed no great discontent with the administration.
Coincident with the autumn campaign arose an international question that threatened for a time the peace of the nation. It came in the form of a cry from the Pacific Coast against the threatened danger of an unlimited Asiatic migration to that part of the country. Twenty years earlier a similar agitation, directed wholly against Chinese immigration--as no other Asiatic immigrants were at that moment in sight--had resulted in the drastic Chinese Exclusion Act. But it was now the Japanese that were the objects of attack. Not included in the Chinese act, these people had been crossing the Pacific, chiefly from Hawaii, in increasing numbers. Slowly for years public sentiment on the coast was crystallizing against them, and the subject was lifted into international prominence by a comparatively trifling incident in San Francisco.
The School Board of that city passed an ordinance excluding Japanese children from the public schools attended by white children. We have treaty with Japan which guarantees to Japanese residing in America the same treatment accorded our own people. In October the Japanese ambassador at Washington entered a protest against the discriminating act of the San Francisco school board.
President Roosevelt quickly saw the danger to the national peace and he took a decided stand against the school authorities of the city of the Golden Gate. Later he sent Secretary of the Interior Metcalf to the city to investigate the case. His report was made in December. It developed that fewer than a hundred Japanese had been attending the public schools of San Francisco and that the school board, led or driven by labor agitators and yellow journalism, had magnified a molehill into a mountain, thus disturbing international peace.
In the winter following, the mayor and school board of San Francisco made a journey to the nation's capital by invitation, to confer with the President and Secretary of State about the subject under dispute. The result of this conference was that the board agreed to rescind its order, and, on the other hand, that steps should be taken toward prohibiting the continued coming of the Japanese to America. It happened that at this moment there was pending in conference a new immigration law, and herein lay the opportunity to meet the demands of the Pacific coast in such a way as not to offend Japan. Accordingly a clause embodied in the immigration law that was later enacted (approved by the President on February 20) provided that the President be authorized to refuse to admit laborers from our insular possessions or from the Panama Canal Zone, if in his judgment their coming would be detrimental to our industrial conditions. This was later applied to Japanese and Koreans, and the problem for the time at least was solved, as the Japanese Government does not issue passports authorizing Japanese laborers to come directly to the United States. This arrangement proved quite agreeable to the Japanese Government which, it must be added, had maintained a dignified and friendly attitude toward the United States throughout the pending difficulties.
The Japanese are a great people--intelligent, quick-witted, full of courage and ambition. Their marvelously rapid rise in the scale of civilization in the last half-century has attracted the admiration of the world. But with all that, every thoughtful American will agree that their coming to the United States in unlimited numbers would prove a calamity in the end. Their civilization, like that of the Chinese, is so different from our own that the two cannot blend into one, and if the two races were to develop side by side on the same soil and under the same government, the result would be a future race problem far more serious and menacing than any we have yet encountered. The Pacific Coast people are therefore quite right in their instinctive impulse to exclude the unlimited coming of the Orientals.
During the summer of 1907 a memorable exposition was held in Virginia to celebrate the three hundredth anniversary of the settlement of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America. Here on the banks of the noble river, bearing the name of the first Stuart English king, was the seat of the colony that grew into the great State of Virginia; here, too, were born self-government and negro slavery--the one to expand until it became the model for nearly all civilized nations; the other to spread its baneful influence until it divides a great people into hostile sections and finally brings about the most destructive of modern wars.
The contrast between the America of the day when Jamestown was founded, and the day of the opening of this exposition, is the most striking illustration of the marvelous progress of modern times. A vast continent, covered with primeval forests and thinly peoples with a wild, uncivilized race, was transformed in the three centuries into a gigantic self-governing nation ofnearly a hundred million people, with their vast cities, their wonderful systems of railways and telegraph, and a standard of civilization second to none on the earth.
The most notable world event of the year 1907 was the second meeting of the World's Peace Tribunal at The Hague, the first having been held in 1899 at the suggestion of the Czar Nicholas II of Russia. The great object of the tribunal is to work for the reduction of armaments and foster universal peace among the nations. The second conference met on June 15, 1907, nearly fifty countries being represented. M. Melidoff, of Russia, was chosen president. There were in all eleven sessions, extending to October 18. Thirteen separate propositions were agreed on and sent out to the nations. Many of these were ratified by most of the leading governments. They deal with the rights and duties of the nations on land and sea in their relations with one another. While the conference was in session, on July 30, the cornerstone was laid of a magnificent Peace Palace at The Hague, due to the generosity of the American philanthropist, Mr. Andrew Carnegie.
Two things highly desired by the public opinion of the world were doubtless brought nearer by these sessions, but not fully brought to consummation. One of these is embodied in the resolution passed on August 17: "That it is highly desirable that the governments should resume the serious study of the question of limiting armaments." The other was the proposal of the American delegates that a permanent international "Court of Arbitral Justice" be established, to which all nations should look for arbitration in case of differences with one another. The proposition was ably advocated, but not adopted. We believe, however, that the time is not far distant when such a court will be established. The public opinion of the world, the final arbiter in all questions of world-wide significance, is slowly but irresistibly crystallizing in favor of universal peace.
In the fall of 1907 occurred one of the most disastrous financial panics, accompanied by an industrial depression, that deeply affected the economic conditions of the nation. As early as january of the same year there was a financial crisis in Wall Street, which came again at intervals in the following months. On october 22 the climas was reached when a great run on the Knickerbocker Trust Company, of New York, and its various branches, was begun. No longer could the industrial world remain apart and unaffected, as it had done in the preceding months. About the beginning of November the commercial world was struck with cyclonic force. Banks all over the country refused to cash checks, except very small ones. It was not long before the great industries of the country were in a state of demoralization. Within three weeks half a million men were laid off and the industrial retrenchment multiplied on all sides.
A panic usually follows a season of prsperity and is caused in part by overspeculation. But it would be impossible to point to any particular cause as the sole factor in bringing about a panic. Doubtless a disturbance in the financial and business world is the resultant of various agencies that converge at a certain moment, and the wisest economist is unable to point them out definitely and unerringly. So with the panic of 1907, which continued far into the following year, when gradually the business of hte country assumed its normal condition.
One cause of this panic, however, as generally agreed, is our inelastic system of currency. Our banking system is such that the volume of currency in circulation will contract when most needed, as in the case of moving of the crops of the Middle West, and will expand when least needed. This defect is a most serious one, and for years it has attracted the attention of financiers, with no practical results thus far. Senator Aldrich, of Rhode Island, brought forward a bill at this short session of Congress providing for a central national bank, which if established it was hoped would remedy the evil. But after much discussion the scheme fell to the ground.
Representative Fowler, of New Jersey, also devised a plan of currency reform. His measure was a comprehensive one for the creation of a banknote currency which should be guaranteed by the Government, which in turn should be secured by a fund contributed by the banks. Mr. Fowler's plan also came to naught.
Among the colored people of the South there was considerable agitation on account of the "Brownsville affair." Three companies of colored soldiers were stationed at Fort Ringgold, near Brownsville, Texas. One night in August, 1906, they or some of them made a raid on the town, firing their muskets right and left, killing one white man and wounding several. The affair created much excitement, and President Roosevelt, after making every effort to discover the guilty ones without success (as they refused to bear witness against each other), ordered the entire three companies discharged from the public service.
Instantly the whole colored race of the United States broke out in wrath against the President. In December he came out in a vigorous message defending his action. The matter was soon taken up by the Senate. The committee on military affairs made a report sustaining the action of the President, but with a dissenting minority report by Senator J. B. Foraker, of Ohio. Roosevelt sent a message recommending that a law be passed permitting the reenlistment of all the discharged men who could prove their innocence. This again Foraker combated with much ability and succeeded in having a Senatorial investigation ordered.
It was believed by most white people that the Brownsville affair was dragged on for two years for the political effect. Senator Foraker, whatever his object may have been, succeeded in winning the whole colored race, and by them he was promptly suggested for the Presidency. At length, however, the Brownsville matter was settled on the lines suggested by President Roosevelt.
The great absorbing subject of the year 1908 was the campaign and elections, which included the choosing of a President, a House of Representatives, many State governors, and innunmerable minor officials. This quadrennial duty of the American people is not only a duty; it is a national diversion, an intensely interesting game, entered into with all the zest of the sportsman, enjoyed by the millions; and so indomitable is the good will of the American people that the defeated forget their sorrows within a few days and are almost ready to join in the rejoicing of the victors, for at bottom every one knows that the country is safe in the hands of either great party.
The campaign of 1908 became a leading topic of general conversation earlier, it seems, than usual. For many months before the meeting of the national conventions the various candidates of the two great parties were widely discussed in all classes of society.
The Republicans, not all, but many of them, began to discuss Roosevelt for a third term, on the supposition that, as no other conspicuous leader had developed in the party, he would be the one sure pilot that would lead them to victory. but all these third-term rumors were set at rest when the President, on December 11, 1907, reaffirmed a statement that he had issued on election night in 1904, namely, that under no circumstances would he be a candidate for reelection. Thisleft the field open to all who chose to enter the race.
As the winter months passed the most widely discussed possibility was William H. Taft, Secretary of War in the cabinet of Roosevelt. Taft had been governor of the Philippines and had made a splendid record in the archipelago. He was well know throughout the country and it was no secret that President Roosevelt favored his candidacy. The chief raval, as it seemed at first, whom Mr. Taft would have had to reckon with was Senator Foraker, of the same State, Ohio. Not that Foraker was popular; in truth, he had a meager national following except among the negroes whose allegiance he had won in the Brownsville affairs; but becuase of the fact that he had stolen a march on Taft by securing the indorsement of the League of Republican Clubs of Ohio. In November, 1907, the league had indorsed Foraker for President and the latter had formally accepted. It was not believed that Foraker could be elected President; but this indorsement seemed to indicate that Taft would not have the support of his own State in the convention--and seldom can a man receive a nomination for the Presidency when not unequivocally supported by his own State.
The party put forth in the various States the usual number of "favorite sons," all of whom were able and conscientious men. There was Philander C. Knox, of Pennsylvania, a member of the Cabinet, as was Mr. Taft, and a very able and successful lawyer; Charles W. Fairbanks, Vice-President, the favorite son of Indiana; Senators La Follette and Cummins, able, brilliant, progressive men, the respective first choices of Wisconsin and Iowa; and above all Governor Hughes, of New York. Hughes had shown such power as the life insurance prober, had made such a brilliant battled for the governorship of his State, that he was now pronounced by many the ablest Republican in the nation. But Hughes' weakness lay in the fact that he was not a national politician and had a meager following outside his own State.
Turning now to the camp of the enemy, we find the Democrats, like the Republicans, with one strong popular leader, William J. Bryan; but unlike the Republican idol, their leader was willing to make the race. Bryan is one of the ablest men that ever rose in American public life; his character is without a flaw. He had done what none but Henry Clay ever did before him--he had held a great party in a viselike allegiance to himself in the face of years and years of continuous defeat. Indeed, it was a marvelous thing--this man, a private citizen in private life, without a fortune and without an office to bestow, holding six million voters through twelve years of party disaster by his mere personality, his power of leadership!
But there was one source of fatal weakness with Mr. Bryan. He was looked upon as a radical and the most conservative element of his party, alienated at the time of his spectacular nomination at Chicago in 1896, had remained aloof and refused to be reconciled. This element was not large, but large enough to hold the balance of voting power, and, winning as he was, the brilliant Nebraskan was unable to win the disaffected Democrats.
Next to Bryan, the Democrats talked of Governor Johnson, of Minnesota, for the race of 1908. Johnson was a remarkable man. Not even Lincoln had risen from a lower depth of poverty and obscurity, nor shown higher aspirations and ideals. Born of Swedish parents, with a mother and several younger brothers and sisters to support, Johnson spent his boyhood years in ceaseless toil. Picking up an education as best he could, he rose in early manhood in public life and became governor of the great State of his birth in spite of the usual great majority of the party opposite that to which he belonged.
Judge Gray, of Delaware, was also put forward as a favorite son of the Democrats of Delaware. Gray was a strong man, but too conservative perhaps for this year, when the tendencies of both parties were toward progressive liberalism.
Two other possible candidates may be mentioned in this connection: Joseph W. Folk, of Missouri, who had, in the city of St. Louis, done more, single-handed, for the overthrow of intrenched corruption, had "convicted more boodlers than were ever before convicted by any single prosecuting officer in the world's history"; and Judson Harmon, of Ohio, who in the Cabinet of President Cleveland, and in the government service as prosecutor of a Western railroad for alleged rebating, had proved himself a great lawyer and a public-spirited citizen of unswerving integrity.
As the winter and spring months passed it seemed clear that Taft and Bryan were over-shadowing their rivals and were practically sure to be chosen standard-bearers of their respective parties. And so it proved.
The great Republican convention met in Chicago on the 16th of June and two days later Mr. Taft was nominated for the great office on the first ballot, by a vote of 702 out of a total vote of 980. It was widely asserted that the administration had used its vast power to bring about the nomination. There was much truth in the assertion; but all agreed that aside from this fact, Mr. Taft was as able, as popular, as honest and patriotic, and as likely to carry the election as any other man the convention could have chosen. For his running mate on the ticket James S. Sherman, of New York, who had long been a representative in Congress, was selected by the convention.
The Democratic convention met in Denver on the 6th of July. It was a foregone conclusion that Mr. Bryan would carry off the honors. At the mentionof his name by a speaker the vast assemblage went wild with enthusiasm and an hour and twenty-five minutes elapsed before order could be restored. On the first ballot bryan received about nine-tenths of the votes, the remaining being scattered among favorite sons. Mr. John W. Kern, of Indiana, was named for second place on the ticket.
The platforms of the two great parties had many points in resemblance. Each promised a far better administration of the government during the ensuing four years than the other could possibly give. On the tariff both promised that a revision should be made, the Democrats declaring that the revision should be downward, the Republicans being noncommittal on that point. Two items of the Democratic platform became favorites with Mr. Bryan in the whirlwind campaign that followed. These were the publication of campaign contributions with the names of the contributors, before election. The other was the guaranteeing of bank deposits by the national government.
Both candidates for the presidency "took the stump," a thing never before witnessed in the history of the country. Hitherto it was usual for the candidates of the great parties for the Presidency to refrain from entering the hustings. Now and then this rule had been suspended, as in the cases of Greeley in 1872, Blaine in 1884, and Bryan in his earlier campaign. In each instance, it is noteworthy, the candidate so doing was defeated. Now, however, this result could not follow, as both Taft and Bryan made extensive speaking tours.
Both drew vast crowds. Mr. Taft was no match for Bryan in handling an audience; but he made a good impression everywhere, as an able and sincere man who would make a safe and sane President. Mr. Bryan stands alone as a versatile and adroit platform orator. He has not a peer among living men. Vast crowds greeted him everywhere he went. Many who went to hear him were his sincere admirers, but cast their votes for Taft, believing him the better fitted for the great office. The campaign was clean and dignified, each candidate entertaining a profound respect for the other.
The minor parties of this campaign must not be overlooked. Before the great parties had met in national convention two of the small parties had put their tickets in the field. The remanants of the moribund Populist party met in April at St. Louis and named the brilliant Georgian, Thomas E. Watson, for first place, and S. Williams, of Indiana, as his running mate. The Socialists met in Chicago in May and placed the well-known leader, Eugene V. Debs, in nomination, with Benjamin Hanford, of New York, for second place.
The Prohibition party held its convention at Columbus, Ohio, the middle of July, naming as its standard-bearers Eugene W. Chafin, of Illinois, and A. S. Watkins, of Ohio. The Socialist Labor party also put a ticket in the field.
Of all the minor parties, however, the one which attracted most attention was the newly born Independence League. This party was the creation of W. R. Hearst, whose spectacular race with Hughes for the governorship of New York we have noticed. Mr. Hearst did not choose to permit his own name to go on the ticket, and Thomas Hisgen, a manufacturer of Massachusetts, was named for first place, with John Temple Graves, of Georgia, for second. Mr. Hearst evidently expected a very large vote for his ticket. He made a speaking tour and attracted much public attention. The sensation of the campaign was made by him when he made public certain letters which he had in some way purloined from the Standard Oil Company. These letters disclosed unknown relations between that company and certain public men, including Senator Foraker, of Ohio, and played their part in blasting a few reputations.
The result of the election was a decided victory for Mr. Taft, he receiving three hundred and twenty-one electoral votes to one hundred and sixty-two for Bryan and none for any of the other candidates. Taft's plurality over Bryan reached almost a million and a quarter in the popular vote. The Socialists had made heavy gains over former elections, polling about four hundred and fifty thousand votes, which, however, is scarcely three per cent. of the total vote. One surprise was the small showing of Mr. Hearst's party, its poll being but eighty-three thousand votes.
The Democrats took their defeat as good-naturedly as usual, and marvelously soon after the shouts of victory had died away the people were going about their daily affairs as if nothing had happened.
Not alone for its campaign will the year 1908 be remembered. The panic of the preceding year was receding in the distance, the crops were good, and the people were prosperous and happy. It is true that the government receipts of six hundred million dollars fell short of meeting the disbursements by sixty millions. But everyone knew that this condition would be temporary nd no one had time to worry over the deficit.
Congress enacted a few good laws in 1908. One of these is the Employers' Liability law, enacted in April. It provides that common carriers doing inter-State business must be responsible for accidents to their employees while in service, any agreement or contract to the contrary notwithstanding. In May a stringent child labor law was enacted in the District of Columbia, which was intended to be a model for State legislation in the same line. It was believed that a law by Congress governing child labor in the various States would be of doubtful constitutionality.
Probably the most important single piece of legislation was the Emergency Currency law. It provides for associations of banks, not less than ten in one association, with power to issue in times of financial stringency an emergency crrency to the amount of five hundred million dollars. This currency must be properly secured and so taxed as to insure its retirement when the period of stringency has passed. Congress also at this session, which ended on May 30, appropriated $29,227,000 for the Panama Canal, $1,500,000 to represent the United States at the exposition in Tokio, Japan, in 1912, and remitted $10,800,000 of the Chinese indemnity from the Boxer uprising of 1900. This act greatly pleased the people of China and their government decided to expend the income from this sum, or a large part of it, in sending Chinese students to the United States to be educated.
The 4th of March, 1909 the day on which Mr. Taft was inaugurated President of the United States, was attended by the worst snowstorm of the winter. Trains bearing thousands of visitors were stalled in the snow and failed to reach the capital city before the ceremonies were over. but there was little to see by those who were there. The usual street parades were held with the greatest of difficulty, and the new President was obliged to depart from the usual custom. He delivered his inaugural address in the Senate chamber and not from the platform erected for the prupose on the east steps of the Capitol.
It was at first thought that the new President would retain substantially the old Cabinet of his predecessor, of which he had been a member; but he wisely chose to select a new one. Retaining Secretary Wilson in the Department of Agriculture, and transferring George von L. Myer from the Post Office to the Navy Department, he chose new men for the remaining positions. A happy choice for Secretary of State was Senator P. C. Knox, of Pennsylvania, one of the ablest men in the country. For the Treasury, Franklin MacVeagh, a Chicago Democrat, was selected, and jacob m. Dickerson, another Democrat, from tennessee, was chosen Secretary of War. The remaining members of the new Cabinet were F. H. Hitchcock, Postmast-General; charles Nagel, Secretary of Commerce and Labor; R. A. Ballinger, Secretary of the Interior, and George W. Wickersham, Attorney-General.
The one great subject before the American people in the spring and summer of 1909 was the revision of the tariff, for which a special session of Congress had been called, to meet on the 15th of March. Two days after the opening of the session a comprehensive tariff bill was introduced in the House by Representative Payne, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. It was the result of months of study of the committee aided by expert assistance.
This draft of the new tariff elicited much favorable comment from all sides, regardless of party. It seemed to be a sincere effort to revise the tariff for the benefit of the whole people. It reduced by fifty per cent the highly protective duties on steel and lumber, put hides on the free list, reduced the duties on many necessaries of life, and provided for an inheritance tax.
Had the Payne bill been accepted bodily by the Senate, it would have pleased the country in general--all except the pampered interests and trusts which had fattened on the Dingley tariff at the people's expense--and it would have become a tower of strength to the Republican party. But, alas! this was not to be. The Payne bill must run the gauntlet of the Senate and be twisted and warped until it loses its identity in the Payne-Aldrich tariff. The "interests" had become aroused. They made their onslaughts, with the usual success, on that ancient body, the Senate, and the Payne-Aldrich tariff became one of the most highly protective measures that ever passed an American Congress. The Corporation Tax feature, however, which was embodied in the law, was not displeasing to the public.
President Taft took little part in shaping the tariff measure. He played golf and enjoyed the exhileration of his new office. No new President ever does much toward coercing Congress. He has well-defined ideas of the separate constitutional duties of the legislative and executive branches of government. But in a year or two he discovers that Congress needs watching and leading; and if he is a strong man, he becomes its leader and he shapes legislation in a larger degree no doubt than the framers of the Constitution ever intended. No better example of this fact can be found than the contrast between the making of the Payne-Aldrich tariff and the putting through of the Reciprocity treaty with Canada, two years later. The one was a purely Congressional measure; the other an Executive measure, put through both houses under the Executive pressure, in the face of the remarkable fact that probably not one-third of the members of Congress actually favored it.
The tariff of 1909 is not a revision downward; the average duties are slightly increased. The people of both great parties had demanded some relief from the high cost of living, fostered and enhanced by the excessive tariff. They had asked bread; they received a stone. Nothing was clearer than the fact that the great protected interests had again dictated the tariff schedules to the lawmakers, and this tariff is the most highly protective measure ever enacted in the annals of the country.
A few items of this famous measure will here be interesting. The manufacture of cotton fabrics, for example, highly protected by the Dingley tariff, had made gigantic progress, and many cotton mills had paid as high as sixty per cent. dividends, and even higher--at the expense of the consumers. Confidently the people expected relief from this extortionate schedule. On the other hand, the new tariff raises the cotton fabrics duties to a point thirteen per cent. higher than it was before, and on some fabrics, by changes in classification, the rates have been increasd more than one hundred per cent. The woolen schedule is equally indefensible. It discriminates against the carded wool industry, which produces the poor man's cloth, and in favor of the worsted industry, the former being taxed as high as 200 per cent.00--on coarse woolen cloth, blankets, and the like.
In the metal schedules there were general reductions of the excessive Dingly rates; but they were still left far higher than the necessities of the case demanded. Mr. Carnegie testified before the committee that steel products no longer need protection at all. but in spite of the most conclusive evidence the average duties on steel products are very high. On the whole, the rductions of the Payne-Aldrich bill are far more than offset by increases of duty.
A wide cry of protest came from all parts of the country on the passage of this tariff measure. All classes of people became conviced that the protected interests had dictated it. It had been fondly hoped that this Congress would bring forth a measure that would please the people and that the tariff would be taken out of politics for a few years. But instead, the cry of real tariff revisions became louder than ever, and so it continues to this day. The Republican party instantly began to lose ground. It had lost its great opportunity to do the people a service and weaken its great rival, and at the next opportunity the people had to speak at the polls, in the fall of 1910, the Republican majority in the House was swept away and replaced by a larger Democratic majority.
The year 1909 will be remembered for the rapid development of aerial navigation. For many years inventors and scientists had been working on this problem. The possibility of man's flying with artificial wings, in bird fashion, had long been given up, as it was evident that he had not the necessary strength. The possibiliyt of utilizing steam or some other power was conceived. For twenty years Hiram Maxim, an American inventor in England, worked on this problem. Professor Langley, of the Smithsonian Institution, also worked for years with the same end in view. Neither of these inventors was wholly successful, but they did much toward bringing about a final solution of the problem.
The Wright brothers, of Dayton, Ohio, were among the first to succeed in flying, without the use of gas and using a machine heavier than air. At the same time there were others in various parts of the world working on the flying machine, and several others were successful almost simultaneously with the American inventors. On July 25, 1909, M. Bleriot, a Frenchman, made the first successful flight across the English Channel. In August, 1911, a french aviator remained in the air twelve hours without alighting.
What the future of aerial navigation will be no one can foretell. It is hardly probable that the art will ever be of much practical importance in the commercial world. But, though the businessis a dangerous one and a majority of the earliest flyers have met death in their practicing, the principle of flying by machinery is known and the world will never lose the art.
A spectacular cruise of the American fleet had been made around the world and was terminated in February, 1909, when it reached Hampton Roads, after a direct run from Gibraltar. In December, 1907, the fleet had been sent from eastern waters around Cape Horn to the coast of California, where it arrived in the following April. Thence it proceeded across the Pacific, visiting Australia and Japan and many Oriental points, returning by way of the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean. The hearty applause which our fleet received in foreign ports was a source of great gratification to the American people, as it attested to the general good will toward us in all parts of the world. The entire trip had covered about forty-five thousand miles and was not marred by a single accident in the entire journey.
The greatest interest of the year 1910 centered in the Congressional and State elections. For many months there seemed to be a general trend away from the Republican party, chiefly because of the disappointment of the country in the Payne-Aldrich tariff. Immediately on the passage of that tariff law there was a serious disaffection in the party. A considerable number of Senators and Representatives known as "Insurgents" or "Progressives" protested vigorously against the tariff law and have since opposed many administration measures.
In a few by-elections, as the English would put it, the direction of the political wind was clearly indicated. To fill vacancies in the lower House of Congress a special election was held in Boston and another in the Rochester district in New York some months before the time of the regular election. Both districts were strongly Republican and in each the Democratic candidate was elected by a large majority.
As the time of the regular election approached the excitement grew intense. The Republicans were on the defensive, but they used every effort to stem the Democratic tide that seemed to be sweeping over the land. Former President Roosevelt, having returned from a year's hunting tour in Africa, threw himself into the campaign with all the vigor of his vigorous nature. But the tide could not be stemmed. The election of November 8th showed great Democratic gains in almost every part of the country.
The United States Senate still remains Republican, but with a reduced majority. The political complexion of the House was completely changed, a Republican majority of over fifty being replaced by a Democratic majority of sixty. Mr. Cannon's stormy career as Speaker thus came to an end, and Champ Clark, the sturdy Missouri Democrat, attained his life's ambition by being chosen the following spring to that office.
The results of the State elections were even more striking. In seven Northern States Republican governors were replaced by governors of the opposite party, while three Republican governors replaced Democrats. Governor Harmon, of Ohio, was reelected by a majority of a little above a hundred thousand, while John A. Dix, the Democratic candidate for governor of New York, won by a margin of seventy thousand. In a few States the Republicans won the governorship from their opponents, through local causes. In Minnesota, owing to the death of Governor Johnson, the Democrats lost their hold and the State went back to the Republican column. In Nebraska there was a similar result through the defection of Mr. Bryan on account of the temperance question, while in Tennessee the Republicans won the governorship, the first time since the Civil War, because of a split in the Democratic party.
Perhaps the most striking personal victory of the campaign was the election of Dr. Woodrow Wilson governor of New Jersey by a majority of fifty thousand. Wilson had been an educator and a student and writer on governmental and historic subjects, and at the time of his nomination was president of Princeton University.
Two results of the November elections stand out in strong relief, both of which are gratifying to all thoughtful citizens who can rise above the trammels of narrow partisanship. First, the two great political forces of the nation are equalised in strength and will have perhaps an equal chance in the next presidential contest. For sixteen years the Democratic party had been so far in the minority as to produce unwholesome political conditions. When the two great parties are nearly evenly balanced, each becomes a watchdog on the other; the party in power will far more likely be on its good behavior when its rival is standing ready and able to snatch from it the reings of government in case it is not faithful to its trust.
Second, the development of Democratic leaders. Since the passing of Cleveland the party as a whole had been shepherdless. For twelve years mr. Bryan was the dominant figure; but Bryan, with all his great ability, his uncompromising integrity, could not command the allegiance of a certain element of his party, an element large enough, by swinging to the other side, to compass his defeat whenever he was placed at the head of the ticket.
After the election of 1910, however, no one could twit the party for its want of strong leaders. Governor Johnson would perhaps have been the favorite of them all but for his untimely removal by the hand of death. In the front rank as Democratic leaders now stand Governors Harmon, of Ohio, and Wilson, of New Jersey. Next to these half a dozen strong men may be named. Champ Clark and Joseph W. Folk, of Missouri; Mayor Gaynor, of New York, and Governos Foss, of Massachusetts; Dix, of New York, and Marshall, of Indiana, any one of whom would command the united strength of his party.
The Thirteenth Decennial Census of the United States was taken in the spring of 1910. In the first census, of 1790, but two or three inquiries were made, with reference to color, age, and sex of each person enumerated. In the law for the census of 1910, passed on July 2, 1909, it was provided that there be four lines of investigation; 1st, population; 2d, agriculture; 3d, manufactures; 4th, mines and quarries.
The specially appointed enumerators gathered data for population and agriculture only, the other information being gathered by other agents, including the regular employees of the government. The enumerators numbered sixty-eight thousand and were chosen through a competitive examination, held in all parts of the United States on February 5, 1910. Each enumerator was responsible to one of three hundred and thrity supervisors, and these again to the Director of the Census. To keep the taking of the census out of politics president Taft issued an order that both supervisors and enumerators should, during their term of service, "avoid an active part in politics."
Congress voted fourteen million dollars for the taking of the census and fixed April 15 as the day for beginning the work, instead of June 1st as heretofore, because of the fact that by the latter date many city residents have changed their domicile for the summer. The enumerators were paid from two to four cents for each inhabitant enumerated, and from twenty to thirty cents for each farm reported, according to the character of the district.
The result of the census showed a striking increase in the population of the great cities. The growth of the city of New York is the most striking single incident brought out by the census of 1910. That wonderful metropolis, the second largest city in the world, showed a growth of thirty-nine per cent., an increase from 3,437,202 in 1900 to 4,766,883 in 1910. Chicago remains the second city in size and Philadelphia the third, each showing a normal growth.
Another striking feature of this census is the fact that the purely agricultural States show but little growth in population, and in some cases practically none at all. Iowa was the only State, however, which revealed an actual loss. This is due in part, as is also the slow growth of other States in the Middle West, to the fact that for some years past large numbers of American farmers have been migrating to Southwestern Canada. It is believed that in no far distant future there will be something of a counter movement, from the cities back to the farm. This belief is fostered by the fact that farm products are becoming higher priced, and by the further fact that farm life is becoming less isolated and more desirable than hitherto, largely through such agencies as the telephone, the interurban trolley, the making of better roads, the automobile, and rural mail delivery.
The total population of continental Untied States by the census of 1910 was 91,972,266, an increase in ten years of 15,977,691, or twenty-one per cent.
We have noticed on an earlier page the beginning of the Panama Canal. It remains to give a word to the progress of the great work. The two great features of the canal are the Gatun Dam and the Culebra Cut. The Gutan Dam is near the Atlantic end, but a few miles from the town of Colon. There is a line of hills parallel with the Atlantic coast, and through a gap between the hills, or rather a valley a mile and a half in width, flows the Chagres River. The Gatun Dam will dam up the Chagres River. This dam is being made of earth; it will be about one-third of a mile in thickness at the bottom and thirty-five feet at the top. Damming up the Chagres River will form a lake of sixty-four square miles, extending from the Culebra Hill, a distance of twenty-four miles.
A shop will be lifted from the sea level to the lake, a distance of eighty-five feet, by means of a great flight of locks, three in number, or rather six, as the locks are in pairs, to be sued each independent of the other, so that two vessels may pass while going in opposite directions.
Culebra Hill is one of the lowest points in the vast mountain system which extends from Patagonia to the Arctic regions of the north. It is three hundred and thirty-five feet in height and the cut through it, nine miles in length, must be two hundred and eighty-five feet at the highest point of the hill. The great work requires many years of toil of thousands of men. At this time there are about forty-five thousand men at work on the great canal, only about five thousand of whom are Americans, who are employed as engineers, foremen, clerks, and the like.
At first the labor problem for this colossal undertaking seemed a hard one. It was impossible to find American laborers in sufficient numbers who were willing to go to Panama to do the muscular work. At length the problem solved itself. The West Indian negroes were found to be the men wanted, and more than thirty thousand of them are now employed on the canal. they are lazy, it is true, and need the constant vigilance of an overseer; but if properly handled they get a great deal of work done in the course of a month. According to present estimates the great waterway will be ready for use a year or two earlier than originally expected, probably by the close of the year 1914.
It is possible that the Panama Canal will not at first, probably not for many years, be a financially paying institution; but all agree that it will be a wonderful stimulus to the modern commercial world. The distance by water between New York and San Francisco by way of the canal will be eighty-four hundred and fifteen miles shorter than by the old route around Cape Horn. Between New York and the ports of Chili the gain will be fifty-two hundred miles, and from Liverpool to the Pacific ports it will be six thousand miles.
The question of whether to fortify or not to fortify the Canal Zone was much discussed until finally it was decided in the affirmative. On March 4, 1911, Congress voted three million dollars with which to begin the work of fortification, the total cost of which is estimated at something over twelve million dollars.
The crusade against the great trusts and monopolies of the past few years has borne some fruit. It was in November, 1906, that the government began suit against the Standard Oil Company, at St. Louis, in the United States Circuit Court. The contention of the government was taht the Standard was violating the Sherman Anti-Trust law and ought to be dissolved. A report by the Commissioner of Corporations in the following May showed that the company had secured the practical control of the entire oil trade, through its violating of the law. Later an agreement was unearthed, between the Standard and the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, by which the latter was to pay the oil company a rebate of ten per cent. on all oil shipments. The suit was pressed, and on November 20, 1909, the Circuit Court decided that the company was an illegal corporation and ordered it dissolved. The case then appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States, and after more than a year and a half, during which the public became somewhat impatient, the decision came, on May 15, 1911, sustaining the lower court, dissolving the great corporation, allowing it six months in which to wind up its business and to separate into its original parts, that is, the various companies of which it was composed.
Two weeks later, on May 29, the Supreme Court rendered its decision in the case of the American Tobacco Company, a decision second only to that of the Standard Oil. In this case also the Court decided that the company was illegal and ordered its dissolution. There are other trusts also under the ban and it seems probable that the government officials will bring many more prosecutions for alleged violations of the Anti-Trust law.
In the short session of Congress ending March 4 President Taft placed before Congress a reciprocity treaty with Canada. After some months of negotiation at Ottawa and later at Washington, the two countries agreed on a sweeping change in their trade relations, many articles produced by either country and needed by the other being put on the free list. President Taft's object no doubt was in some measure to counteract the popular feeling against him for his having signed and defended the payne-Aldrich tariff.
On January 26 he sent the Reciprocity agreement to the Senate with an able message defending it. Later he made it known that if it were not acted on he would call an extra session of Congress. The Democrats quickly came to the rescue of the Republican President, as the agreement was a step in the direction of tariff reform, which they had been preaching for a generation, though a great majority of Republicans opposed the measure. However, enough of them voted with the Democrats to pass it in the House, without change or debate.
But the Senate, on the plea of too great pressure of other business, failed to take up the measure, and the Sixty-first Congress expired on March 4th. Thereupon the President called the new Congress to meet in extra session on the 4th of April. The new House was strongly Democratic. Champ Clark was elected Speaker, and it was not long before th Reciprocity treaty had again passed the House, with little debate and no change.
In then went to the Senate, where a long, tiresome debate followed. The Democrats and Insurgent Republicans generally favored the measure; but the conservatives were for the most part found on the other side. No doubt the measure would have failed to pass the Senate but for the pressure from the administration and the general support of the press of the country. The vote was taken on July 22 and the measure was carried by a good majority. The President was greatly pleased with the outcome. He thanked the Democrats heartily for their support.
In Canada the tribulation over the Reciprocity treaty was still greater than in the United States, resulting in the dissolution of Parliament and a new election. The Canadians voted on September 21st and Reciprocity was defeated by a large marjority--a veritable landslide--and all President Taft's efforts to establish closer trade relations with Canada came to naught.
One other crowning act of the Taft administration for the summer of 1911 remains to be mentioned--the treaties of arbitration between this country on one hand and England and France on the other. These treaties were both signed on the same day, August 3, that with England at Washington and that with France at Paris. Such action has been talked of for many years and its consummation is fully in accord with the world's growing public opinion. Such an example by such great powers will go far to bring about for the future the desire of the nations--the blessings of perpetual universal peace.
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