Sandburg's Hometown

November 3, 2014

Presidential Election of 1896 Republican Poster - William McKinley (Pres) & Garret A. Hobart (VP)

The Election of 1896 (continued)

by Barbara Schock

Carl Sandburg and Charles “Frenchy” Juneau didn't get to see the Republican candidate for president, William McKinley, in person. He remained at his home in Canton, Ohio, and the crowds went to visit him. He spoke from his front porch. His speeches were carefully crafted and he did not answer questions from the audience. Groups of women flocked to see him as he was a handsome man. There were bicyclists, good roads advocates, businessmen and others who took advantage of excursion fare railroad tickets to go to Canton. Upon their arrival, the citizens of Canton would show them to their hotel, give them a tour of the city and escort the group to McKinley's home on Market Street.

The Republican National Convention had been held in St. Louis June 16 to 18. McKinley was selected as the nominee on the first ballot. Mark Hanna, a wealthy Ohio industrialist, had been working with McKinley for several years to secure the nomination. In order to insure McKinley would be the party's choice, he spent $100,000 (equal to $2.7 million in today's money) on the convention. Hanna was convinced that the poor performance of the administration of Grover Cleveland in handling labor strife and the continuation of the depression that began in 1893 would mean a successful campaign for McKinley.

As the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Hanna visited other wealthy industrialists and financiers to solicit funds. He stressed to them that the Democratic Party platform would cause inflation, because it advocated the coinage of silver by a ration of sixteen to one to gold. It would cease to protect American products without high tariffs, which McKinley had advocated as a congressman. Worst of all, it would institute an income tax on high income individuals.

Engraved portrait of William McKinley (U.S. Bureau of Engraving & Printing)
Engraved Portrait of William McKinley as President
(U.S. Bureau of Engraving & Printing)

For the campaign Hanna was able to collect an estimated $3 to $7 million (between $96 and $193 million in today's money). No one has been able to account for all the money that was collected. It was spent on newspaper advertisements, posters, pamphlets and signs which flooded the country. It was alleged money was also spent to buy votes.

Partisans for McKinley were afraid farmers and industrial workers would combine to take over the country so they spread negative rumors about them. They attacked women who spoke in favor of William Jennings Bryan and implied the men were weaklings or worse. They reminded people that it was the Republican Party and Abraham Lincoln who had won the Civil War. The tactic was called “waving the bloody shirt.” They even suggested the Bryan supporters were trying to start another secession movement.

McKinley supporters insisted prosperity was returning and there would be plenty of jobs for workers. They maintained that high tariffs would protect American products and increase wages. Signs were posted at factories saying they would not open after the election if Bryan was elected.

The election went to McKinley, but not by a large margin.

Sandburg's Hometown
Date Title
November 3, 2014 The Election of 1896 (continued)
October 27, 2014 The Election of 1896
October  24, 2014 The Rissywarn
October 20, 2014 The Parlor Stove
October 13, 2014 Ashes to Ashes
October 6, 2014 Jesse James
Sept. 29, 2014 Lester T. Stone, Public Servant
Sept. 22, 2014 It's Who You Know
Sept 15, 2014 Mother of the Illinois Flag
Sept 8, 2014 The Scissors Grinder
Sept 1, 2014 Baseball
August 25, 2014 Howard K. Knowles, Capitalist
August 18, 2014  Alcoholic Beverages
August 11, 2014 Soda Water
August 4, 2014 Sweet Corn
July 28, 2014 Marching Through Georgia
July 21, 2014 The Knox County Fair
July 14, 2014 The Panic of 1893
July 7, 2014 The Rev. T. N. Hasselquist
June 30, 2014 The Knox County Courthouse
June 23, 2014 The Family Photograph Album
June 16, 2014 Parades
June 9, 2014 Lingonberries
June 2, 2014 Where We Live
May 26, 2014 Old Main
May 19, 2014 Rhythms of the Railroad
May 12, 2014 Spring Tonic
May 5, 2014 The Milkmen
April 28, 2014 Gray's "Elegy..."
April 21, 2014 Off to War
April 14, 2014 Swedish Easter
April 7, 2014 A Father's Face
March 31, 2014 Secret Societies
March 24, 2014 George A. Murdock, Merchant
March 10, 2014 Trade Cards
March 3, 2014 The Demorest Medal
February 24, 2014 Rip Van Winkle
February 17, 2014 Cabbage Soup
February 10, 2014 Lincoln's Birthday
February 3, 2014 4  The Colonel
January 27, 2014 The Lincoln Penny - A Little History
January 20, 2014 Walking to Work
January 13, 2014  A Small Abode
January 6, 2014 Birth of a Poet
December 30, 2013 Christmas 1880
December 23, 2013 Swedish Christmas
December 16, 2013 The Reporter Sees Santa
December 9, 2013 The Coming of Christmas
December 2, 2013 The Fire Boys Talk
November 25, 2013 Galesburg Will Feast on Turkeys and Cranberries - Thanksgiving 1893
November 18, 2013 Mary Sandburg Johnson
November 11, 2013 Carl Sandburg's Bicycle
November 4, 2013 Lace Curtains
October 28, 2013 The Front Room
October 21, 2013 A Warm Breakfast
October 14, 2013 Marion D. Shutter
October 7, 2013 Cigars and Consumption
September 30, 2013 Forrest F. Cooke & August Sandburg
September 16, 2013 Forrest F. Cooke, Mayor
September 9, 2013 Dusty Streets
September 2, 2013 Typhoid Fever
August 26, 2013 Coffee and Water
August 19, 2013 A Horse! A Horse!
August 12, 2013 Gaddial Scott
August 5, 2013 The Racetrack
July 29, 2013 John Peter Algeld - Part II
July 22, 2013 John Peter Altgeld - Part I
July 15, 2013 Tramps, Tramps, Tramps
July 8, 2013 Lady Liberty
July 1, 2013 Galesburg's Fourth
June 24, 2013 John H. Finley
June 17, 2013 The World's Columbian Exhibition
June 10, 2013 Fruit Short-Cake
June 3, 2013 Horatio Alger, Author
May 27, 2013 Memorial Day, 1887
May 20, 2013 Professor Jon W. Grubb
May 13, 2013 Beginnings of Lombard University
May 6, 2013 Young Sandburg’s View of Lombard College
April 29, 2013 Thinking
April 22, 2013 Robert Colville, Master Mechanic
April 15, 2013 The Galesburg Opera House
April 8, 2013 Grocery Stores and Sample Rooms
April 1, 2013  A Hearty  Breakfast 
March 25, 2013  The Lost Wallpaper Legend 
March 18, 2013 Martin G. Sandburg
March 4, 2013 The Edison Talking Machine
February 25, 2013 Joe Elser, Civil War Veteran
February 18, 2013 Remember the Maine...
February 11, 2013 Lincoln's Birthday
February 4, 2013 Curiosity