ELECTION OF 1896 (VASSAR WEBSITE)

Context is Panic of 1893

Remember to use Google Images for persons, events, newspaper headlines
http://www.google.com/imghp?hl=en&tab=wi

1896 Presidential Campaign (Vassar)
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/1896home.html

The 1896 presidential election was one of the most exciting and complicated in U.S. history. This website provides an introduction to one aspect of the campaign: the hundreds of political cartoons published in newspapers around the country.


1896 Election Results
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/electionresults.html

The Republican presidential and vice-presidential candidates, McKinley and Hobart, won a sweepingvictory in the electoral college, with 271 electoral votes to Bryan's 176. The popular vote was much closer: 7,102,246 to 6,492,559.

Historians have seen 1896 as a "realigning election," though it confirmed results that had already been apparent in the 1894 congressional races: by 1897, Republicans had won sweeping control of the White House and both houses of Congress. The 1896 election showed a sharp differentiation between voters in the economic "metropole"--the Northeast and industrial areas--and those in the "periphery"--the South and West. Most historians believe this disagreement stemmed from different reactions to the massive depression, though voters' loyalties reflected a mix of racial attitudes, memories of the Civil War, and other motivations. It is possible to show how men (and a few women) voted, but impossible to prove with certainty why each individual voted as he did.

William McKinley was inaugurated on March 4, 1897, as the 25th president of the United States. His inaugural address promised solutions to the nation's economic woes--and he was lucky enough to preside over an economic recovery during the years of his first term. Thus, it was even more difficult by 1900 for Democrats and a few Populists to claim that Republican policies spelled the nation's economic doom.


Biographies of Leaders:

William Jennings Bryan
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/bryan.html

Mark Hanna
The Republicans, Mark Hanna, and Labor
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/hanna.html

William McKinley
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/mckinley.html
The Era of William McKinley (Ohio State University eHistory)
http://ehistory.osu.edu/osu/mmh/mckinley/

William Allen White
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/white.html



Political Parties in the 1896 Presidential election campaign:
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/parties.html

"Soon the United States will have as many political parties as Spain and will be split up into innumerable
factions and groups. . . . The following table of the rearranged parties is given:

(1) The gold Republican party.
(2) The free-silver Democrats, among whom are (a) those who want Populist support and (b) those who
don't want Populist support.
(3) The free-silver Republicans.
(4) The gold Democrats, among whom are (a) those who will support McKinley and (b) those who will
nominate a ticket of their own.
(5) The Prohibitionists.
(6) The bolting Prohibitionists.
(7) The Bryan Populists, among whom are (a) those who favor Bryan and Sewall and (b) those who are
for Bryan and Watson.
(8) The anti-Bryan Populists.
(9) The voters who are on the fence.
(10) The voters who have taken to the woods."
--Mexican Herald, quoted in Public Opinion, 27 August 1896

The election of 1896 was one of the most complicated in U.S. history. As the Mexican Herald observed, four different parties' national conventions split, and in two cases the "bolters" (those who left their parties) ran separate presidential and vice-presidential candidates. Populists ran a separate vice-presidential candidate.

"Free silver" was the central issue of the 1896 presidential campaign, but today the debates surrounding it may seem technical and obscure.
Why did Americans care so passionately about "honest money" and "free silver"? What were the deeper meanings of these slogans?

1. Republican Party

The Republican Party won the presidency and control of Congress, despite the defection of pro-silver Republicans from the West.

The Republican Party (main page)
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/republicans.html

Republican Platform
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/gopplatform.html

William McKinley's Acceptance Speech
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/mckinleyaddress.html

William Allen White, "What's the Matter with Kansas?"
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/whatsthematter.html

2. Democratic Party

The Democratic Party held the presidency when the campaign began, but President Grover Cleveland did not support his own party's candidate.
The party split, and Cleveland expressed his support for the Gold Democratic "bolters."

The Democratic Party (main page)
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/democrats.html

The Silver Democrats
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/democrats.html

William Jennings Bryan's Cross of Gold Address to the Chicago Convention
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/crossofgold.html

The Silver Democratic Platform
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/chicagoplatform.html

The Gold Democrats: Candidates and Platform
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/golddem.html

3. People's Party

National delegates of the People's Party divided over whether to endorse William Jennings Bryan, whom Silver Democrats had already chosen as their nominee. The convention endorsed him over strenuous protests from "middle-of-the-road" Populists, who remained strong enough to force the nomination of a separate vice-presidential candidate, Tom Watson. The resulting confusion contributed to the continuing decline of Populist fortunes.

The Populist Party (main page)
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/populists.html

People's Party Platform
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/peoplesplatform.html

Mary Lease's Speech at Cooper Union
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/leasespeech.html

4. Prohibitionist Party

The Prohibitionist Party had peaked in strength in 1888; its convention also divided over whether to address the money question or to present a "narrow-gauge" platform focused solely on the prohibition of liquor.

Prohibitionist Party
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/prohibition.html

5. Silver Party

The Silver Party, tiny and overwhelmingly Western, endorsed the Silver Democratic candidates but drafted and passed their own platform.

Silver Party
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/silverparty.html

6. Socialist Labor Party

The Socialist Labor Party nominated candidates, though Socialism had not yet achieved the strength it would after 1900. Many future Socialists, such as Eugene V. Debs, called themselves Populists in 1896 and supported William Jennings Bryan.

Socialist Labor Party
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/socialism.html

Socialist Labor Party Platform
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/slpplatform.html

Daniel DeLeon's Address, "Reform or Revolution."
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/deleon.html


Themes of the1896 Presidential Campaign:

Antisemitism
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/antisemitism.html

McKinley Supporters and the Bible
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/goldbible.html

Bryan and the Bible
Bryan, Religion, and the Silver Question
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/bryanreligion.html

Memories of the Civil War and Slavery
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/civilwar.html

The Currency Issue
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/currency.html
Inflation Calculator
http://www.westegg.com/inflation/
Gold/Silver Prices
http://money.cnn.com/data/commodities/
http://www.monex.com/liveprices

Economic Depression of 1893
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/depression.html
Jacob Coxey
http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=70&nm=Jacob-S-Coxey
Keep Off the Grass!: Coxey’s Army Invades the Nation’s Capital
http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5364/
Marches on Washington
http://www.pbs.org/pov/brotheroutsider/march/pastmarches01_coxey.html
From Coxey's Army to Occupy Wall Street
http://www.psu.edu/dept/richardscenter/2011/10/from-coxeys-army-to-occupy-wall-street.html

Immigration
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/immigration.html

Farmers and Laborers
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/labor.html

Nativism and the (American Protective Association) A.P.A.
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/apa.html
Protestant Paranoia: The American Protective Association Oath
http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5351/

Racial Prejudice
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/prejudice.html
Plessy v. Ferguson

Sectional Interests
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/sections.html

Strikes (Homestead and Pullman)
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/strikes.html

The Supreme Court in 1896
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/supremes.html

The Protective Tariff
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/tariff.html

Trusts and Monopolies
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/trusts.html

U.S. Foreign Relations
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/foreignrelations.html
Spain and Cuba
To Annex Hawaii
Turkey and Armenia

Woman Suffrage
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/suffrage.html

Women in the Campaign
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/women.html



Popular Culture in the 1890s

Bicycles
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/bicycle.html

Inventions
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/inventions.html

Literary Themes
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/literary.html
Mark Twain in his Times
http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/railton/index2.html

Medicine
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/medicine.html
Patent Medicines (Chronicling America, Library of Congress)
http://www.loc.gov/rr/news/topics/patentmedicines.html

Popular Amusements
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/amusements.html

Images of Uncle Sam
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/unclesam.html

Special Feature: The 1896 Campaign at Vassar College itself
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/vassar.html

Journals and Newspapers in the Campaign
http://projects.vassar.edu/1896/journals.html#nytimes

Bibliography
Teaching 1896: Classroom Ideas