Imatges de pàgina

met, and the wild enthusiasm of the advocates of free silver carried all before it, that the East began to think that possibly the strength of the silver craze had been under-estimated.

At the present writing it seems hardly probable that the Democrats will carry the next presidential election, but the supporters of Mr. McKinley no longer feel the absolute confidence which was theirs only a few weeks ago. It is true that in the East all 'gold Democrats' will either vote for McKinley, or will abstain from voting. That this will give every one of the Eastern States to the Republicans is reasonably sure.

On the other hand no man can predict to what extent the ‘silver Republicans' of the West will abandon McKinley, and vote for the Democratic candidate. If they are sufficient in number to carry Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, in addition to most of the other Western States, and the solid South, the Republicans may be defeated in spite of their victories in the East. It should not be forgotten that it is not merely the silver question which will influence Western voters. For the first time in the history of the United States the West is arrayed avowedly against the East, and the dislike of the Eastern people, which is universal at the West, will be an important factor in the election.

American optimism shirks the confession that the West dislikes the East. No one, however, who has any thorough knowledge of the American people, can doubt that for some years the East and the West have been steadily growing further and further apart, until they are now fairly in the attitude of hostile communities. The West dislikes the East for two reasons. The Western man is haunted by the fear that his Eastern fellow citizen looks upon him as a social inferior, and in revenge he sneers bitterly at what he calls the culchaw' of the East. In point of fact the Eastern American does not care a particle what sort of clothes the Western man wears, or in what fashion he trims his hair and beard. That there is a certain rusticity in Western speech and manners is sufficiently obvious when the West and the East meet socially, but the man from Chicago is mistaken in supposing that by reason of these things he is despised by the man from New York. The Eastern press may occasionally express its amusement at Western ways, but this is rarely done in malice. Nevertheless the Western man, with the painful self-consciousness of the rustic who finds himself in a drawing-room, believes that he is an object of ridicule, and therefore cordially hates the innocent Eastern man. Childish as this feeling may seem, it still exists, and no one can converse half an blour with a Western American without being informed that no Western man cares a straw for the opinion of the East, which is a sure proof that the contrary is the fact.

But the chief cause of the animosity of the West towards the East is the fact that the former is heavily in debt to the latter. The

[ocr errors]

Western cities have been built with Eastern money, and the Western railways and Western mines owe their existence either to Eastern or English capital. The debtor rarely likes his creditor, especially when it is inconvenient to pay him. Chicago was rebuilt after the great fire by money furnished by the East; but when the lenders ventured to suggest that payment of interest was desirable, Chicago became bitterly indignant at the New York and Boston 'Shylocks,' who were represented as clamouring for their respective pounds of flesh. The Western press uniformly takes a like attitude towards all Eastern creditors, and the mildest epithets given to them are ‘Shylocks,' 'sharks,' and bloodsuckers.' Gradually the Western man has convinced himself that it is a hard and merciless thing for a creditor to ask for payment, and he is quite ready to take advantage of any method of legally avoiding payment of his debts. The advocates of free silver offer him precisely what he is seeking. If silver becomes the only currency, the Eastern Shylock' can be paid in silver dollars that are worth only fifty cents each. The Western debtor can thus rid himself of one-half of his indebtedness, and can at the same time punish the presumptuous East for its insolence in expecting full payment. The West does not favour the free coinage of silver merely because of its ignorant belief that cheap money’ will make everybody rich. Not the least of the charms of free silver is the expectation that it will serve as an instrument for the chastisement of the East.

The result of the present political campaign will be to intensify the hostility of the West towards the East. For months to come the two great divisions of the country will be in battle array, one against the other. The East will stand for gold and honesty—the West for silver and knavery. The question of the tariff will pass out of sight, and the honest Eastern Democrat will vote for the author of the most preposterous Protectionist measure the world has ever seen, because his only alternative will be to vote for the candidate who represents a policy of highway robbery. Whatever the result of the election may be, the West and the East will have been for months in the attitude of enemies, and the Eastern and Western press will have constantly reviled one another as 'Shylocks' and thieves. If the West dislikes the East to-day, dislike will have grown into the bitterest hatred by next November.

As has been said, the probabilities are at present in favour of the election of McKinley. But a defeat of the Silverites this year simply postpones their victory for four brief years. The Republicans are pledged to re-enact the McKinley tariff, and two, or at most three, years of Protection of the McKinley variety will bring about an inevitable industrial and commercial panic, precisely as the panic of 1895 was brought about. Under the unnatural stimulus of a high Protective tariff manufactories of protected articles will spring up

everywhere, and their eagerness to fill the market will ensure the over-production that Protection invariably fosters. Then will follow the closing of manufactories, the idleness and discontent of workmen, and the financial stringency and distress which were, a year ago, the direct results of the McKinley tariff, but which the unthinking voter absurdly charges to the account of the most honest and capable man that has occupied the Presidential chair during the present century. When this panic occurs, the Silverites will insist that it has been the result of the failure to adopt the free coinage of silver. The voters will either be convinced that this is true, or, at all events, they will be ready to give the silver panacea a trial. The defeat of the silver candidate in 1896 will be followed by his triumphant election in 1900, and the East will lie prostrate at the mercy of the West.

That the free and unlimited coinage of silver means the utter ruin of the East, goes without saying. When the Silverites gain possession of the Federal Government, the East must submit, with what grace it can muster, to complete and hopeless bankruptcy, or it must withdraw from the Union, and endeavour to maintain its independence by arms. It may fail as the South failed a generation ago, but it will at least have perished honourably, and its skirts will be free from the stain of fraud and robbery with which the West will have blackened the Federal Union.







The Republican party has declared explicitly for the maintenance of the existing gold standard, and the Democratic party, at its convention. recently held in this city, has declared with equal explicitness for the free coinage of silver by this country alone. The great issue is therefore fairly and squarely joined. And it is the first time in the history of the Republic that a clearly defined issue on this great question has been put before the people. The electoral battle which will be waged between now and November will be beyond all comparison the most important that has been fought in this country since the Civil War.

Which side is going to win? To read the great daily papers in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Boston, one would suppose that there was really no question about it, and that the victory of the Gold men by an overwhelming majority was a foregone conclusion. But these papers can be no more relied on to correctly represent the sentiment of the American people than the daily papers of London can be relied on to correctly represent the sentiment of the English people outside of London. In the prophecies which they make regarding the result, the wish is largely father to the thought.

For my own part, I am convinced that, if every other issue save that of gold against silver were eliminated from the campaign, silver would win. But gold goes into this fight with two great advantages. It is tied to the Republican reaction, and it is tied to the cause of Protection. Roughly speaking, the South and the States and Territories west of the Missouri River are for silver, and the North-Eastern States are decisively for gold. The great agricultural States of the North-West constitute the doubtful territory in which the real battle will be fought. At the State Conventions held in preparation for the National Conventions, the Republicans succeeded in securing gold delegations in these States, but it was evident that there was a strong VoL, XL-No. 234



minority in favour of silver. In nearly all of these States, the Democratic party selected delegations instructed for silver. I am satisfied that, if the money issue were not in any way complicated by other issues, the Silver party would carry most of the North-Western States and that the electoral vote of these States, added to that which they would receive from the West and South, would suffice to give them a majority. But these North-Western States, and in particular the great States of Illinois and Iowa, have always been Banner Republican States. Some of them suffered a temporary aberration during the landslide to Democracy which took place at the last national election. But this seems to have only intensified the violence of the reaction in favour of their old love. The gold standard now presents itself to the Republicans in these States as the policy of their party, and they have to choose between voting for it and leaving the party. Again, there is undoubtedly a great reaction in this country in favour of Protection; and, strange as it may seem to people in England, this reaction is specially strong in the States of the North-West. The Gold cause now comes before the voters of these States linked to the cause of Protection, and the two must stand or fall together. Upon the whole, I hazard the prophecy that gold will win, after a great struggle, and by a moderate majority.

We are already in the thick of the fray. At least two-thirds of the editorial writing done in the daily papers has reference to this issue. The Republicans are naturally making a vigorous effort to keep the Protection issue to the front; but even their papers tacitly assume that there is no need to argue over this issue, and the Democratic papers avoid it as the burnt child avoids the fire.

Expositions of the familiar rule known as Gresham's law and of the application of that law to the case of this country if the free coinage of silver were adopted, the respective merits of the single and double standards and the possibility of maintaining a stable par of exchange between the two metals, the sufficiency of the available supply of gold to meet the needs of the leading nations for money of ultimate redemption,—these and such as these are the subjects that are threshed out in the editorials of our leading dailies with a wearisome iteration. It may not be out of place for me to notice here a few salient points in regard to the way in which this great controversy is being conducted.

There are two leading features which seem fated to arise, in a greater or less degree, in connection with all discussions of monetary or social topics. These features are manifesting themselves in a very marked degree in the newspaper discussion of the money question at present going on in this country. They

They are the following: 1. Each side calls the other side very hard names indeed.

2. While the most absolutely contradictory theories are advocated on either side, the advocates of each side are supremely certain that

« AnteriorContinua »