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The Republican Command

The Republican Command: 1897--1913

Horace Samuel Merrill
Marion Galbraith Merrill
Copyright Date: 1971
Pages: 392
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130hq8d
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  • Book Info
    The Republican Command
    Book Description:

    This powerful book reminds us of the enormous power the nation accords its political leaders and how in the significant period, 1897--1913, these leaders failed to meet their responsibilities. Their inadequacies, the authors feel, delayed the administration of justice for all citizens, neglected the Negro, and seriously impaired the future effectiveness of their own once viable, successful, and justly proud Republican Party.

    The authors follow the maneuvers of McKinley, Roosevelt, Taft, Senators Aldrich, Platt, Allison, and Spooner, and House Speaker "Uncle" Joe Cannon as they juggled pressing domestic questions, perpetuating themselves in power without really confronting the public need.

    From the outset, when the party came into power in 1897 under remarkably auspicious circumstances, until it met final defeat at the hands of Woodrow Wilson in 1912, the Republican leaders laid a foundation by default for the Democratic return to power. Their neglect of major national problems afforded the Democrats a golden opportunity to appropriate those issues as their own.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6390-1
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. INTRODUCTION: A REPUBLICAN ERA, 1897-1913
    (pp. 3-8)

    0n march 3, 1913, the day before Republican party relinquished the remnants of its control over the national government to the Democratic party, an editorial entitled “Rocks that Wrecked a Party” appeared in theNew York World.The pitfalls the writer reviewed constitute a warning to leaders any party at any time. “Sixteen years ago,” the editorial its readers, “with William McKinley at its head, the Republican party was restored to power. It has been supreme all departments of government during that time except for the last two years in the House of Representatives.” Compared with the Democratic party, moreover,...

  6. I REPUBLICAN RETURN TO POWER, 1897-1898
    (pp. 9-42)

    A new political era began in March 1897 when William McKinley was inaugurated president. In the nation’s capital and among the majority of Republicans back home, there was impressive agreement that the American experiment had succeeded and that our political, economic, and social institutions, grown to maturity, should be left alone except for minor repairs. Party leaders agreed that it would be wise politics to proclaim their devotion to the protective tariff, to sound currency, and to the flag, with an occasional frown at monopolies, corruption, and lynching of Negroes. Most Republican voters seemed content with the “tried and true”...

  7. II SPECIAL INTERESTS AND WARMONGERS DISRUPT THE LEADERSHIP, 1897-1898
    (pp. 43-56)

    Contests in the senate over the Dingley tariff bill in 1897 and the Cuban crisis in 1898 caused the Republican command to make concessions that did violence to their personal convictions and to their pride. But despite these concessions they operated with such consumrnate political skill that they emerged with enhanced power. Because they were professional politicians with responsibilities to their party followers, it was understandable that they bowed to political expediency. Nevertheless, it was regrettable that they lacked sufficient will and ability to prevent enactment of what they knew to be a disgraceful tariff measure and to prevent a...

  8. III SHREWD GESTURES ON CURRENCY AND TRUST PROBLEMS, 1897-1900
    (pp. 57-78)

    Both currency and trust problems haunted the McKinley administration. The party leadership so adroitly handled the issues, however, that party unity remained intact. McKinley and the Senate Four accomplished this by making gestures that had more sales value than substance. The half-measures they induced Congress to enact satisfied their Republican constituents but, in actuality, merely postponed adequate reform. After much cautious maneuvering, Congress passed an innocuous currency measure and, on the trust problem, created an investigative commission. The election victory of 1900 gave testament to the skill of the party leadership.

    The currency question was so complex and divisive that,...

  9. IV OPPORTUNITIES AND DANGERS EMERGE, 1900-1901
    (pp. 79-92)

    In the nine months between the sweeping Republican victory of 1900 and the assassination of President McKinley, the top leaders showed no real desire to inaugurate a new program or to improve the old one. They believed the current system made possible the current prosperity. McKinley, however, suggested that means were available to the party to foster ever greater prosperity, and Vice-President Theodore Roosevelt, together with some lesser lights in the party, talked about modernizing the party’s economic policies. They left it to the future and to Congress, however, to formulate actual proposals. McKinley was hesitant to challenge the Senate...

  10. V ROOSEVELT INVIGORATES THE PARTY, 1901-1902
    (pp. 93-115)

    Roosevelt’s accession to the presidency automatically elevated him to the status of party chieftain. As such, he had to work with Aldrich, Platt, Allison, and Spooner, who continued in the top command. The new president and the Senate Four, being intelligent, seasoned professional politicians, quickly accommodated themselves to each other’s needs. Hence the work of running the government and the party proceeded as smoothly as in the McKinley years. Roosevelt recruited some new men to aid him politically and to help modernize and the activities of the executive branch, but he never to destroy the power of the Senate Four....

  11. VI ROOSEVELT, ALLISON, AND SPOONER CONFRONT THE INSURGENTS, 1902-1903
    (pp. 116-136)

    Republican insurgency in the Middle West was a major concern of the party hierarchy in 1902–1903. Roosevelt, Spooner, and Allison were the most concerned. The problem confronting Spooner was so completely confined to state politics that it was inadvisable for an outsider, even the president, to interfere. However, Roosevelt was able to come to rescue of the beleaguered Allison. Allison welcomed his help and serving the senator’s interest increased Roosevelt’s influence and power. Some of the aid he gave came indirectly from actions on the trust problem and the coal strike, but Roosevelt’s speech-making in the Middle West was...

  12. VII CANNON, TRUSTS, AND CURRENCY TO THE FORE, 1903
    (pp. 137-159)

    The republican leadership in 1903 concentrated on Congress. A new assertiveness was evident in the House of Representatives, which reflected, on the part of both House members and their constituents, a growing discontent with the status quo. In January, House Republicans selected “Uncle Joe” Cannon as Speaker. The Senate Four demonstrated that they understood the necessity of concessions to public demands for reform and to the insistence of both the House and the president on a greater and more positive role in party policies. Congress enacted some moderately important legislation, especially on the trust problem. The Republican inner circle admitted...

  13. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  14. VIII THE ELECTION OF 1904
    (pp. 160-192)

    The election of 1904 was a stunning victory for the ebullient, gifted Roosevelt and a disappointment for some key old-time members of the Republican leadership. In state contests, men of lesser stature gained votes at the expense of established leaders. Identification with the popular Roosevelt forestalled an even greater decline than this in the power of the Senate Four. The condition of southern Negroes was a matter of more than usual national consideration in the election, largely because “friend-of-the-Negro” Roosevelt was a presidential candidate and because the Republican platform contained a proposed plan to reverse the Negro disfranchisement movement. Southern...

  15. IX THE PARTY LEADERSHIP CONFRONTS BIG BUSINESS, 1905-1906
    (pp. 193-221)

    The sweeping election victory of 1904 provided the Republicans with more power than they were willing to use, for they were clearly afraid to apply their great power to effect modernization of the party policies. Their promises to the voters had been very vague, and they had not even agreed among themselves on an agenda, let alone on what positions to take on important issues. They simply had not dared to face the political turmoil that could erupt in their own party if they made an effort to enact constructive legislation on the tariff, trusts, and currency, recognizing that such...

  16. X AN EPIDEMIC OF POLITICAL CAUTION, 1906
    (pp. 222-242)

    After enactment of the Hepburn Act and the pure food, drug, and meat inspection measures, the Republican party approached the 1906 election with caution and felt the need to strengthen its public image with voters. Times were still good and there were no tangible evidences of panic, yet many people feared that further governmental reforms might lessen prosperity and expressed increased concern for law and order as a protection for individual and property rights. The Republican leadership shared the general uneasiness over extremists. They were concerned over socialism, labor union agitators, and Negro lynchings. Hence they concentrated more on law...

  17. XI THE ROOSEVELT-ALDRICH-CANNON TRIUMVIRATE, 1907-1908
    (pp. 243-276)

    Throughout the final two years of the Roosevelt administration, the president, Senate leader Aldrich, and Speaker Cannon guided the Republican party. Aldrich and Cannon replaced the Four as the dominant figures in Congress. The concentration of party power in the Roosevelt-Aldrich-Cannon triumvirate, however, brought no appreciable change in Republican party policy. They clung to their habitual attitudes on the tariff, trusts, currency, and Negro questions. They exhibited no desire to initiate any significant legislation on any important matters, although the Panic of 1907 and the impending election campaign of 1908 finally forced them to enact emergency currency legislation This drift...

  18. XII THE TAFT-ALDRICH-CANNON TRIUMVIRATE, 1909
    (pp. 277-298)

    The top republican leadership that emerged following Roosevelt’s withdrawal from the political scene failed to meet its responsibilities and thereby contributed conspicuously to the rapid deterioration of the party. The new Republican command consisted of Taft, Aldrich, and Cannon. These three appeared incapable of treating the Republican party as a viable, national organization with a unified purpose and showed no real interest in modernizing its traditional policies. They did nothing to carry out the historic party commitment the Negroes or to champion any other humanitarian cause. They allowed the currency question to remain buried in the slow moving Monetary Commission...

  19. XIII PARTY REGULARITY DISINTEGRATES, 1910
    (pp. 299-313)

    After 1909, the Taft-Aldrich-Cannon leadership continued to decline in popularity with the voters and at the same time lost its hold on Congress. Cannon lost much of his great power in the House; Aldrich became more amenable in the Senate; under Insurgent attack Taft suffered humiliation in his role party chief. The election results in the fall of 1910 graphically illustrated the failure of the party command.

    Soon after passage of the Payne-Aldrich Tariff and Taft’s to “jolly the people” into endorsing the measure, he some other public servants, especially Senate Insurgents, gave earnest attention to the widely recognized need...

  20. XIV TAFT, TARIFF, AND TRUSTS, 1911-1913
    (pp. 314-336)

    THE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP during the final two years of the Taft administration needed, above all else, formulate a sound and attractive party program. Party modernization had been an imperative need during the previous years and also during the final two years of the Roosevelt administration. The results of the 1910 election emphasized extent of the party’s bankruptcy. By early 1911, it seemed that the party was headed for almost certain defeat that little remained from the recent past from which to fashion a new program more suitable to the times. The Taft administration failed to meet this critical need. Instead,...

  21. Bibliography of Works Cited
    (pp. 337-344)
  22. Index
    (pp. 345-360)