Wednesday, January 30, 2019


      After all, following Andrew Jackson's second-generation era of American politics, few presidents had managed to vie seriously for a second term.  Since Jackson's reelection in 1832, nearly seventy years before, only three presidents had been elected twice:  Lincoln, Grant, and Cleveland.   Now McKinley also seemed poised to reach the fullest appropriate tenure established by Washington's two-term precedent.


     With hostilities in the Philippines and global challenges such as the Boxer episode in China, not to mention ongoing troop commitments in Cuba and Puerto Rico, McKinley wanted to maintain a 100,000-troop army well into the future.  But such a standing army, absent major military imperatives, was unprecedented, and anti-imperialists had pressed hard on the issue during the campaign.  "If you are in favor of a large standing army," said Bryan, "you will vote the Republican ticket;  if you are opposed to a large standing army, to make subjects of a people of whom we cannot make citizens, you will vote for the Democratic ticket."  Bryan's plan:  get out of the Philippines and return to a small peacetime army.


     Hanna revived the super-efficient organizational engine of four years earlier.  By late September it produced seventy different documents (brochures, letters, pamphlets), as well as ten or more different posters and lithographs.  It distributed 110 million individual items.  Newspaper inserts and supplementary materials amounted to two million copies per week.  McKinley speeches and utterances were translated into German, Norwegian, Swedish, French, Dutch, "and four or five other languages."  The aim was to break the electorate down into discrete ethnic groups for targeted messages.  The speakers bureau was revived to ensure that McKinley's message got to precisely the right location at the right time.


McKinley carried Nebraska and South Dakota on his way to an Electoral College victory of 292 to 155.   Bryan carried the Solid South and four Western states, but the president captured the entire rest of the country.  His popular vote plurality was 859,694, some 200,000 more than his 1896 margin,

-Robert W. Merry,  President McKinley:  Architect of the American Century

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