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  Election What-ifs? (Moderators: Keyboard Jacobinism, Apocrypha)
  The New America
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beaver2.0
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« on: September 17, 2014, 06:20:17 am »

The Election of 1896 and the McKinley Presidency

The US Presidential Election of 1896 involved two completely new candidates, all of the veterans of previous campaigns gone.  The Republican Party nominated William McKinley of Ohio, a classic Republican, and veteran of the Civil War.  His opponent was Democrat William Jennings Bryan, who believed he had a chance to win the Presidency, with his personal supporters of the former Populist Party.  Bryan was a charismatic figure and had a very large personality, especially known for his devout Presbyterianism.  Both parties had fairly uninteresting vice-presidential candidates, Garret Hobart and Arthur Sewall respectively.

The issues of the day were economic.  Importantly, the debate over the gold and silver standard, of which the Democrats supported the Silver.  Tariffs were also quite important, and the Democrats generally opposed them.

Bryan travelled the country, campaigning and giving speeches.  His speechs often had a religious tone, and Republican counterattacks on him suggested he was a religious extremist.  While he harassed the Republicans in the west, he alienated the urban Democrats in New England.  This led to a split, with the more urban and upper class Democrats forming the National Democratic Party, which was pro-Gold and a more popular representation of the old Bourbon Democrat movement.  It soon appeared that this election would go to the Republicans, with the Democrats clearly too divided to win this time around.

The Election of 1896

McKinley- 248
Bryan- 153
John M. Palmer- 46

And so it did.  The National Democrats made a good showing, especially amongst Irish and Germans, both because of fear of Prohibition, and the Irish because of Bryans religious rhetoric.  It soon appeared that the Democratic-National Democratic split would probably continue for a while.

On March 4, 1897, William McKinley was inaugurated as President.  He began his administration as the Democrats expected, by raising tariffs and appointing Republicans to various government positions.  With the Democrats disunited, the Republicans found it increasingly easy to control Congress while the Democrats could barely do anything.  However, by the end of 1897, things were improving slightly, and the rift between the Democrats and National Democrats began to be bridged.

In March 1898, the Maine Incident occurred in which the USS Maine and a Spanish ship exchanged shots off Cuba.  The US took little from it, but Spain came under the impression that there was a need to prepare for war because of impending US invasion.

The Democratic Party, for whatever reason, believed war to be around the corner, so advocated arming the forces.  The Republicans, while supporters of a war, believed there was no reason for mobilization, based off a War Department Report, whose head was a McKinley appointee.

War began on July 15, after the day before, the USS Texas hit a mine off Cuba and sank, prompting war.  Spain's forces, prepared, launched raids on the US coast, where their ships bombarded US ports.  However, within a week, US forces had pushed Spain back, and the war had ended by the end of October.   The Republican Party claimed victory, but the war was not the kind of war they had wanted.  Many civilians had died, and the war had been bloody.

Bryan's supporters, meanwhile, spoke of his knowledge of the war before it began, some saying it was god-given, and of how Bryan led a Nebraska Cavalry force up San Juan Hill in Cuba.  This all further alienated the National Democrats, who were anti-war.

In December, McKinleys vice-president, Garret Hobart, long sick, died.  A new one, Charles Phelps Taft, an unimportant, relatively new Massachusettsite was nominated.

The rest of McKinleys first administration was relatively uneventful, besides the campaign for Presidrnt.  He faced William Jennings Bryan and Alton B. Parker, neither of which seriously challenged McKinley, with Bryan's speeches called little more than religious rabble rousing in upper class east coast newspapers.  In 1901, McKinley was again inaugurated, and, going into his second term, was a little harder on tariffs.  However, tragedy struck on March 1, 1902, when Howard Black, an anarchist and veteran of the Spanish-American War, shot McKinley was dead within three hours, and Charles Phelps Taft was sworn in as President.
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Kalwejt
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« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2014, 12:51:47 pm »

Go on.
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