History of the United States eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 731 pages of information about History of the United States.
silenced; business prostrate; our homes covered with mortgages; and the land concentrating in the hands of capitalists....  The fruits of the toil of millions are boldly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few.”  Having delivered this sweeping indictment, the Populists put forward their remedies:  the free coinage of silver, a graduated income tax, postal savings banks, and government ownership of railways and telegraphs.  At the same time they approved the initiative, referendum, and popular election of Senators, and condemned the use of federal troops in labor disputes.  On this platform, the Populists polled over a million votes, captured twenty-two presidential electors, and sent a powerful delegation to Congress.

=Industrial Distress Augments Unrest.=—­The four years intervening between the campaign of 1892 and the next presidential election brought forth many events which aggravated the ill-feeling expressed in the portentous platform of Populism.  Cleveland, a consistent enemy of free silver, gave his powerful support to the gold standard and insisted on the repeal of the Silver Purchase Act, thus alienating an increasing number of his own party.  In 1893 a grave industrial crisis fell upon the land:  banks and business houses went into bankruptcy with startling rapidity; factories were closed; idle men thronged the streets hunting for work; and the prices of wheat and corn dropped to a ruinous level.  Labor disputes also filled the crowded record.  A strike at the Pullman car works in Chicago spread to the railways.  Disorders ensued.  President Cleveland, against the protests of the governor of Illinois, John P. Altgeld, dispatched troops to the scene of action.  The United States district court at Chicago issued an injunction forbidding the president of the Railway Union, Eugene V. Debs, or his assistants to interfere with the transmission of the mails or interstate commerce in any form.  For refusing to obey the order, Debs was arrested and imprisoned.  With federal troops in possession of the field, with their leader in jail, the strikers gave up the battle, defeated but not subdued.  To cap the climax the Supreme Court of the United States, the following year (1895) declared null and void the income tax law just enacted by Congress, thus fanning the flames of Populist discontent all over the West and South.

THE SOUND MONEY BATTLE OF 1896

=Conservative Men Alarmed.=—­Men of conservative thought and leaning in both parties were by this time thoroughly disturbed.  They looked upon the rise of Populism and the growth of labor disputes as the signs of a revolutionary spirit, indeed nothing short of a menace to American institutions and ideals.  The income tax law of 1894, exclaimed the distinguished New York advocate, Joseph H. Choate, in an impassioned speech before the Supreme Court, “is communistic in its purposes and tendencies and is defended here

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History of the United States from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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