« 上一頁繼續 »
individual, was responsible for the appearance of the magical word. Another equally vigorous claimant is Mr. James B. Foraker. He was the chairman of the Committee on Resolutions, and he asserts emphatically that no matter what palaver may have preceded the final decision, the Committee, of which he was chairman, was really responsible both for the general wording of the plank and for the actual insertion of "gold" before the phrase "standard of value."
Notwithstanding these conflicting claims and the more or less conflicting evidence upon which they are based, the several accounts agree upon certain fundamental facts; and a fairly complete story of what actually occurred can be pieced together, which derives nothing from controverted testimony. There will remain certain minor ambiguities and conflicts of evidence, which may be partly explained by the failure of certain witnesses to take account of events which had occurred without their knowledge on other parts of a complicated and confused field of action. In spite of these minor conflicts, some of which I shall attempt to explain, a sufficiently complete story can be told, which includes no incidents which are not intrinsically probable or which are not confirmed by more than one witness.
Undoubtedly Mr. McKinley himself wanted to subordinate the currency issue to that of protection. His own record in relation to legislation affecting the standard of value had been vacillating. He was a bimetallist, and had stood for the use of both gold and silver in the currency of the United States without inquiring too closely whether the means actually used to force silver into circulation had or had not tended to lower the standard of value. His personal political prominence had been due to his earnest and insistent advocacy of the doctrine of high protection, and he feared that if the currency issue were sharply defined, the result would necessarily be (as it was) a diminution in price of his own political and economic stock-in-trade. Considerations of party expediency reenforced his own personal predilections. His party was united on the issue of protection. It was divided on the currency issue. There were "silver Republicans," and they all came from a part of the country in which he personally was very popular. The sentiment in favor of a single gold standard was strongest in New England and the Middle States, which were more or less opposed to his nomination. If he had favored unequivocally a single gold standard, his candidacy would have been weakened among his friends, while his opponents would have merely shifted their ground of attack. Not unnaturally he proposed to evade the issue by standing for "sound money" without denning precisely what sound money really was.
Mark Hanna's personal attitude was different from that of Mr. McKinley. He was enough of a banker to realize that the business of the country was suffering far more from uncertainty about the standard of value than it was from foreign competition. Mr. William R. Merriam tells of certain interesting conversations which took place in August, 1895, on the porch of Mr. Hanna's house overlooking Lake Erie, between himself, Russell A. Alger, Mr. Hanna and Mr. McKinley, in which both the political and economic aspects of the prospective campaign issues were thoroughly discussed. In these conventions Mr. McKinley was, in Mr. Merriam's own phrase, "obsessed" with the idea of the tariff as the dominant issue of the coming campaign. Mr. Hanna, on the other hand, was, in Mr. Merriam's words, "in favor of committing the Republican party to gold, as the sole basis of currency, and he was anxious and willing to lend his aid to the furtherance of this policy."
Inasmuch as Mr. McKinley was the candidate, his views prevailed. Throughout the whole preliminary canvass the currency issue was evaded. The State Conventions, in which the candidate's personal influence prevailed, declared for sound money and the coinage of silver in so far as it could be kept on a parity with gold. Conventions such as that of Wyoming instructed their delegates for McKinley, while declaring at the same time for the free and unlimited coinage of silver. Mr. Hanna as the manager of the campaign realized how much Mr. McKinley's ambiguous attitude on the currency was helping the canvass in the Western States, and he probably desired as much as McKinley did that any more precise definition of the issue should at least be postponed until after Mr. McKinley's nomination was assured. In no event would he have insisted upon any opinion of his own in respect to an important matter of public policy in antagonism to that of his candidate and friend.
McKinley's opinion remained unchanged until the very eve of the Convention. Mr. Kohlsaat asserts that on Sunday, June 7, he spent hours trying to convince Mr. McKinley of the necessity of inserting the word "gold" in the platform. The latter argued in opposition that ninety per cent of his mail and his callers were against such decisive action, and he asserted emphatically that thirty days after the Convention was over, the currency question would drop out of sight and the tariff would become the sole issue. The currency plank, tentatively drawn by Mr. McKinley and his immediate advisers, embodied his resolution to keep the currency issue subordinate and vague. According to Mr. Foraker, Mr. J. K. Richards came to him at Cincinnati some days before the date of the meeting of the Convention, bringing with him direct from Canton some resolutions in regard to the money and the tariff questions prepared by the friends of Mr. McKinley with his approval. Mr. Foraker had been slated for the Committee on Resolutions; and the McKinley draft was placed in his hands with a view to having them incorporated in the platform. The currency plank as handed to Mr. Foraker began as follows: —
"The Republican party is unreservedly for sound money. It is unalterably opposed to every effort to debase our currency or disturb our credit. It resumed specie payments in 1879, and since then it has made and kept every dollar as good as gold. This it will continue to do, maintaining all the money of the United States, whether gold, silver or paper, at par with the best money of the world and up to the standard of the most enlightened governments.
"The Republican party favors the use of silver along with gold to the fullest extent consistent with the maintenance of the parity of the two metals. It would welcome bimetallism based upon an international ratio, but until that can be secured it is the plain duty of the United States to maintain our present standard, and we are therefore opposed under existing conditions to the free and unlimited coinage of silver at sixteen to one."
The resolutions mentioned by Mr. Foraker were placed in his hands on Monday or Tuesday, June 8 or 9. Mr. Foraker, however, did not reach St. Louis until Saturday morning; and in the meantime a good deal had been happening there and elsewhere in respect to the currency plank. Mr. Hanna had already gone to St. Louis. When he arrived he had in his possession a draft of certain resolutions, presumably the same which had been taken to Mr. Foraker by Mr. J. K. Richards. He was joined in St. Louis early in the week by a number of Mr. McKinley's friends and supporters; and in the group a lively discussion almost immediately arose as to the precise wording which should be adopted in defining the currency policy of the Republican party. This group consisted in the beginning of Senator Redfield Proctor of Vermont, Colonel Myron T. Herrick, General Osborne and Mr. Hanna himself. Mr. Hanna was so busy in rounding up his delegates and in attending to other details that he could not give much of his time to the conferences over the platform, but he was in and out and knew what was going on.
Towards the middle of the week the group of gentlemen participating in these conferences was increased by several accessions from the number of Mr. McKinley's friends in other states, among whom may be mentioned Mr. Henry C. Payne, William R. Merriam and Melville E. Stone. After his arrival Mr. Henry C. Payne became particularly active in getting the conference together and in having the platform typewritten anew, after every change, and in having copies supplied to each participant. On Wednesday morning Mr. Hanna handed to Mr. Payne the draft of the currency plank as prepared by McKinley with the request that it be revised by the conference and put into final shape. The discussion continued on Thursday. After an agreement had been reached on certain changes Mr. Payne was asked to prepare another draft for discussion on the following day, which was Friday.
On Friday morning Mr. H. H. Kohlsaat of Chicago joined the conference, having come over from Chicago in response to a telegram particularly for that purpose. Mr. Kohlsaat's relation to the whole matter was peculiar. He was a friend of long-standing both of Mr. McKinley and Mr. Hanna. He had, of course, been favorable to the former's nomination, but in the newspapers which he controlled he had combined an earnest advocacy of Mr. McKinley's selection with an even more earnest and insistent advocacy of the single gold standard. He states that he had not been allowed by Mr. McKinley and Mr. Hanna to assist in the contest for the delegation from Illinois, because they were embarrassed by his attitude on the currency question. With the addition of Mr. Kohlsaat the members of the conference consisted of Mr. Payne, Colonel Herrick, Senator Proctor, ex-Governor Merriam and Mr. Stone. Mr. Hanna was present a certain part of the time, but he had so many other matters which required his attention that he was frequently being called off.
There is some conflict of testimony as to proceedings of the conference on Friday. Colonel Herrick states that the final draft had been substantially submitted and accepted on Friday morning. Mr. Kohlsaat, on the other hand, declares that in the draft forming the basis of discussion at the beginning of the conference the word "gold" was omitted. This draft read as follows:
"The Republican party is unreservedly for sound money. It caused the enactment of the law providing for the resumption of specie payments in 1879. Since then every dollar has been as good as gold. We are unalterably opposed to every measure calculated to debase our currency or impair the credit of our country. We are therefore opposed to the free and unlimited coinage of silver except by agreement with the leading commercial nations of Europe, and until such agreement can be obtained we believe that the existing gold standard should be preserved. We favor the use of silver as currency, but to the extent only that its parity with gold can be maintained, and we favor all measures designed to maintain inviolably the money of the United States, whether coin or paper, at the present standard, the standard of the most enlightened nations of the earth."
The foregoing draft was furnished by Colonel Herrick. It differs in one or two minor respects, and in one essential respect, from the draft which, according to Mr. Kohlsaat, formed the basis for discussion at the conference of Friday. The minor differences are merely matters of order and may be ignored. The essential difference turns upon the insertion of the word "gold" before "standard." According to Mr. Herrick the draft prepared by Mr. Payne contained the word "gold." According