« 上一頁繼續 »
would have contributed nothing to the chances of Republican Success. A significant change had taken place since 1896 in the nature and reasons of the support which business men were affording to the Republican party. Four years before the responsible business interests of the country, small as well as large, had united in condemning the free coinage of silver. A certain amount of the same feeling was carried over into the campaign of 1900. The fact that Mr. Bryan was again running on a free-silver platform, and the fact that even though elected on the issue of anti-Imperialism, he might be able and willing to disestablish the gold standard, took the heart out of business during the summer of 1900. The issue, however, between financial aberration and financial sanity could not be as sharply drawn as it had been in 1896, and there was a tendency among smaller business men to return to their traditional partisan allegiance. The Republicans could not demand the support of business just because it was business. They could not assess the National Banks all over the country for a certain percentage of their capital, because Democratic success would certainly cause acute financial disaster. During the years between the two campaigns certain classes of American business had been radically reorganized. The process of combination had made enormous strides. It had infected more or less every important department of industry. It had, indeed, become the dominant characteristic of American industrial practice. But in proportion as this process of combination increased in volume, it became subject to political attack. The large corporations had a doubtful standing under state and federal anti-trust acts. They were not overscrupulous about conducting their business according to fair and legal methods. Even those whose standing under existing laws was unimpeachable were liable to severe injury from adverse state and national legislation. Agitation against them and against the millionnaires interested in them was becoming both violent and widespread. The large business interests could no more disregard the sort of denunciation which was more than ever hurled at them than the Southern slaveholders could ignore the denunciation of the abolitionists; and its effect in the two cases was very much the same. Big business men became “class conscious.” They needed political power more than ever for the protection of business interests, and the power which may have been acquired in self-protection would inevitably be used for aggressive purposes. In 1900, consequently, it was as much big business as general business which began to depend upon the Republican party for political protection. The Democratic platform and candidate denounced the process of business organization, while the Republican candidate and platform recognized that it had a certain validity. The whole corporation interest rallied more enthusiastically than ever to the Republicans and opened its purse more liberally than ever. To be sure, the distinction between big business and general business was not sharply drawn. The “prosperity” of which the Republicans boasted and which they promised to continue was necessary to both, and the waving of the “prosperity” banner was intended to appeal to both. Nevertheless, the distinction had become plainer than it was in 1896, and it had a profound bearing upon the campaign and its results. When Mr. McKinley was reëlected, big business undoubtedly considered that it had received a license from the people to do very much as it pleased. Mr. Hanna himself never distinguished sharply between the interests of general business and big business. His own business life, except in relation to the street railway company, had never become entangled either with the methods or the interests characteristic of the larger corporations. He intended to represent in politics the essential interest of business itself — irrespective of size, location, organization or character. The “prosperity” which he wished to promote was necessary to all sorts of business, and the policy of his opponents was dangerous to all sorts of business. Farther than that he did not go. Nevertheless, the necessities of practical politics brought him closer and closer to the representatives of large corporate interests. It was much more convenient to get the money needed for an effective campaign from them than from a larger number of smaller subscribers; and such was particularly the case because the smaller business men were much less conscious of their political interests and responsibilities than were their more opulent associates. Mr. Hanna wanted, as usual, to accomplish the largest and surest results with the utmost economy of time. So in 1900 he solicited and obtained support from Wall Street more explicitly and more exclusively than he had in 1896. The explicit recognition on the part of the contributors that they were paying for a definite service enabled Mr. Hanna still further to systematize the work of collection. The size of a contribution from any particular corporation was not left wholly to the liberality or discretion of its officers. An attempt was made with some measure of success to make every corporation pay according to its stake in the general prosperity of the country and according to its special interest in a region in which a large amount of expensive canvassing had to be done. In case an exceptionally opulent corporation or business firm contributed decidedly less than was considered its fair proportion, the checque might be returned. There are a number of such cases on record. On the other hand, an excessively liberal subscription might also be sent back in part — assuming, of course, that the Committee had collected as much money as it needed, or more. The Standard Oil Company contributed $250,000 in 1900, as it had done in 1896; and there was, I believe, only one other contribution received by the Committee of the same size. When the election was over the officials of the Company were astounded to receive a letter from the Committee containing a check for $50,000. They had contributed more than their share, and the surplus over and above the necessities of the campaign permitted the Committee to reimburse them to that extent. Incidents of this kind naturally increased the confidence of business men in the new management of the Republican party. Money was not being extorted from them on political pretexts for the benefit of political professionals. They were paying a definite sum in return for protection against political attacks. Imagine the feelings of an ordinary political “Boss” upon learning that good sound dollars, which had been received as a political contribution, were actually being returned to their donors. Instances of this kind indicate that Mr. Hanna had introduced some semblance of business method into a system of campaign contributions, which at its worst had fluctuated somewhere between the extremes of blackmail and bribery. If it had been allowed to develop farther, the system might have become a sort of unofficial taxation which a certain class of business was obliged to pay, because in one way or another its prosperity and even its safety had become dependent upon the political management of the country. Even in the extreme form which it assumed in 1900, the system itself remained the natural outcome of a relation between business and politics, which the politico-economic history of the country had conspired to pro-. duce and for which in a very real sense the mass of the American people were just as much responsible as were its beneficiaries and perpetrators. Mr. Hanna merely developed it, and removed from it, so far as possible, the taint of ordinary corruption. Just as the work performed by individuals on behalf of McKinley's first nomination was never paid for by the promise of particular offices, so these contributions were not accepted in return for the promise of particular favors. In one instance a cheque for $10,000 was returned to a firm of bankers in Wall Street because a definite service was by implication demanded in return for the contribution. The men whose hands went deepest into their pockets understood in general that, if the Republicans won, the politics of the country would be managed in the interest of business—a consequence which was acknowledged by all the Republican speakers and by none so frankly as by Mark Hanna. But the more the practice of assessing corporate interests for the benefit of one party was reduced to a system, the more impossible it became. The very means which were taken by business to protect itself against hostile political agitation was bound in the long run to inflame the irritation; and the more the irritation became inflamed, the greater the injury which business would suffer when it eventually lost control. The intimate association of business prosperity with illegal and unfair business practices was bound to make general business, whether innocent or guilty, pay the final costs. It is extraordinary that the hardheaded men who throughout so many years spent so much money for political protection, did not realize that business could not permanently succeed in having its own way in politics by the use of merely business means and methods — without corrupting the country. The prevailing tendency of politics to ignore business in the treatment of business questions is merely
the inevitable consequence of the tendency of business, when it had political power, to exercise it in a manner which ignored the fundamental political well-being of a democratic state. In making use of his abundant resources in 1900 Mr. Hanna was not trying, as he had been in 1896, merely to win the election. He was planning a victory so decisive and so comprehensive that the Republicans would be unquestionably marked as the dominant party. He was planning above all as a matter of practical politics to increase the narrow Republican majority in the Senate, and thus to obtain a more effective and responsible control over legislation than the party had hitherto possessed. Where he expected to make the necessary gains was west of the Mississippi River. He counted on being able to keep all the Eastern States which went Republican in 1896. He was just as confident that the Middle West would stick to its allegiance. A very general impression existed that Indiana would go Democratic, but Mr. Hanna insisted that he could win it. He devoted a great deal of time to that state, and he succeeded. But the part of the country in which he was most interested was the territory west of the Mississippi River, which had formerly been Republican, but which since the rise of “Populism” had fallen away from the true faith. The results of the Congressional elections of 1898 encouraged him to believe that possibly the great majority of these states could be carried. In spite of the popularity of Bryan in the region and the enthusiastic indorsement of the Democratic ticket by all the “Populistic” organizations, he proposed to concentrate his biggest guns on the Far West. He himself spent two-thirds of his time in Chicago and only one-third in New York. Mr. McKinley, as President, could not play as important a part in the campaign as he had in 1896; but in his Vice-Presidential candidate Mr. Hanna had a most effective substitute for the vacancy. Mr. Roosevelt was as indefatigable a speaker and traveller as Mr. Bryan himself, and the National Committee used him to the limit of his endurance. Mr. Hanna was not slow to perceive how much assistance Mr. Roosevelt might be to him in carrying the Northwestern States. It was the Republicans of this region who had been most stirred by the war and most clamorous for Mr. Roosevelt's nomination.