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tv   The Presidency Grover Clevelands 1884 Election  CSPAN  February 20, 2021 12:00pm-1:01pm EST

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i want to really start out but by talking if i can about about the election for those who don't know much about it. as of 1884 the republicans had been in power non-stop for 24 years in the presidency. i don't have to tell you what that meant. in fact to democrats. it meant that people could have got a voting age and a voted at least once or if they were in
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philadelphia three or four times, uh for the democratic party with no chance of winning democrats believe they'd had the election stolen from them in 1876 or and and they were right about that though. it was actually more stolen back after the democrats. it's hard feel it in the first place, but 1884 looked very much like their year and they had every reason for feeling that it would be their year. and so what would happen would be they had to simply find a candidate who could do the job. let me see if i can go some pictures and give you a kind of a feel for what we're going to be showing right here and there we are that does as a that gives us a pretty good image to start out with 1884 the setting president is a republican president. his name is chester alan arthur president by grace of an assassins bullet that killed james a garfield in 1881. uh chester alan arthur deserved
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determined his own right. he actually was a pretty and pretty able president. uh, but there were those who never could forgive him for the way he came to power for they knew that he was part of the political faction that it included the assassin james guitar the assassin goto who had killed james a garfield and the and for people like that. they're leading candidate. they would support would be known other than james gillespie blaine james she blaine what what can i say about him? well, he was a remarkable man. some people talked about him as having a kind of a skyrock skyrockety. it's level of emotion and power which is not a bad way of describing him. he was very much of a of an enthusiastic man. he made friends very easily had an absolutely photographic memory a person they did shaken hands within a crowd say 25
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years before he would immediately recognize again and exactly what talked about it's a magnificent quality and while democrats to distrusted and feared him many of them couldn't really help liking him as well very much leighton his career in 1892 when he was a republican secretary of state a democrat happened to mention his name in a speech to a democratic crowd and everybody began the crowd began to cheer. well democratic crowd cheering for republican leader like blade the man joked and says, you know, he clearly has more friends here than he did at the republican national convention to which someone crowd chatted we're all as friends and the cheering began again. it's remarkable quality his supporters were so so fond of him that they were often referred to as blaney acts, which is not a particularly attractive term, but but there it is well, i use that as a as a kind of a caution out there if i
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can because what i want to stress right here is the arthur's friends want him for renownment real renomination by the party and they think he deserves it. blaine's friends wants him for the nomination. the one thing that neither of their sides new was that neither of those men really wanted to be nominated at all. there were good reasons for that arthur new and nobody else did that he was a dying man. he suffered for what they in those days called rights disease and and therefore could never live through a term and he he had very little political ambition left after his wife had passed away a few years before blaine also actually didn't really want to become president. they've been a time when he did, but he grown very fatalistic about it convinced that he could never get through the job. he was something of a hypochondriac convinced that he was suffering from all kinds of ailments. and there was one of their
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trauma. it's a very important trauma. when garfield was shot at the railroad station in 1881 the man right next to him was his close friend the secretary of state james g blaine and blaine came back from this contradictama his his clothing soaked with the blood of the president who would take about six weeks to die. blaine was convinced that charles goto the assassin had not said i am a stall word and now arthur was president he could swear that what he what the toe had said was my god. i meant to hit blaine. well, these are the kind of things that don't make you very keen on running for the office yourself. so why are these two people that don't really want the office running against each other? because each of them was told by their followers if you don't do it the other guy's gonna get it arthur if you don't run blaine's going to be nominated and the blame people are telling blame if you don't run arthur's going
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to be nominated you and so essentially these two people if they've known that the other one didn't want the job. they might actually have dropped out of the race. in fact blaine's idea that he talked about with some people. was that the ideal person to nominate would be general william to come to sherman the man so well known for urban renewal in in atlanta during the civil war as a matter of fact during the convention a telegram republican convention a telegram was sent to to sherman urging him to accept the nomination if offered sherman sent back and unequivocal reply. he said if nominated i will not run if elected. i will not serve aren't very many people in politics. there are as bl. as william tecumseh sherman so we have a skyrockety energetic man as plain was a man of considerable talent and we have arthur when the nomination took place blaine wanted almost hands
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down. it was not a hard question. but for many independent republicans, this was a terrible thing because they saw blaine as a very corrupt man a man who had done favors for the railroad when he had been speaker of the house in return for the railroad doing favors for him a man who did demagogical things waving the bloody shirt of sectional antagonism on in front of the house. that is to say reminding people in the united states that white southerners were killing black southerners for political purposes and to them it seemed as if blaine was a very very dangerous and demagogical man, and when blaine was nominated these reformers who song is corrupt, did something almost unthinkable in that day and age which is they walked out of the party and they declared that any democrat would be better if they could choose one. that would be clean and
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upstanding. well that really brings us back to the pictures again, and that's where i want to try to take you if i can right now. there's a lot of possible nominees and you can see in this marvelous cartoon right here all kinds of politicians going after the presidency including arthur. who is that arthur is judas. it says right there that that one with that the side whiskers and so on remarkable, these pictures came out of a magazine called puck that did about three color cartoons every week. they're gorgeous lithograph you can see and there is blaine so that you can see pretty much what he looks like frankly if you'd ask blaine the one job. he most wanted to have was be secretary of state where he thought he could make a difference in ways that presidents could not and he had been secretary of state under garfield and arthur came in had quit the job to head into retirement rather than serve under the man who had replaced garfield as we see right there. but reformers and cartoonists
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like nast would tell you that just about every corrupt job every fraudulent act. somehow had blames fingerprints on them this i might add was not really true but very often we demonize people that we have good reason for disliking for other reasons and some of these things that are attached to the magnetic man as he's described here. he's really not guilty of at all, but you'll just have to take their word for it now take a look at this cartoon. this is one of the most impressive cartoons of the campaign. there is our friend. none other than james c blaine being unveiled before the republican tribunal tattooed with his crimes his graft his demagogism his taking of bombs in the union pacific railroad and the like and some republicans are horrified and some of them are laughing heartily and if you look at that that little that young man there in the front. with the with a small mustache
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the young fellow right there between the two bearded guys. they're looking trouble anybody recognize that if you said a state assemblyman from new york by the name of theodore roosevelt. you're absolutely right. now this man this cartoon of course is one of the great democratic attacks on blaine and it it was circulated all over the place the irony is that the cartoonist that drew it voted for blaine in the november election. it was just it was just a job to him and here's another wonderful one and you can say it says blaine can't beat his record. you see the tattoos are running all by themselves. it's a marvelous kind of a race out there well against the person like that who could the democrats run? well, you can't run anybody that's connected with the civil war one way or the other certainly not somebody of confederate loyalties. it's 25 20 years in the past, but people still remember it hardly and well, but they did have a very good choice. choice was the governor of new
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york grover cleveland grover. cleveland was something of a political flu. four years before he hadn't been in politics at all. he just been a lawyer up in buffalo, but when there was a scandal in buffalo and the mayorals race, he was nominated as a reform candidate by the democrats. the next year when there was a scandal in the governor's race. he was nominated for governor by the democrats many proved to be a very upright and a very honest governor cleveland's integrity is beyond all question and he was a very hard-working man who said that he would work until looking over bills until three in the morning and then lean back and say well, let's knock it off and call it half a day. it's quite a remarkable quality and talent he also had a tremendous amount of courage, especially in making trouble for those people that expected to get help from him and expected gratitude in other words.
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this is a man as notoriously clean as blaine is notoriously corrupt and he's a man in other words for the democrats that can give them the kind of new start that they had no other chance of having. that start in fact would be to make a candidate on the issue of reform. well, what kind of reform are we talking about here? well, you know, what are the issues that are at hand? well the essential kind of reform is simple up to 1883 every job that the united states government hands out you hand out to your political friend every four years. all the postmasters heads. all the country are blipped off and you put in new and friendly people for yourself everybody in the treasury department everywhere else. it doesn't matter whether the person is a drunk or a crazy person or crook if he served the party he gets rewards that's the spoil system and the result is you can often have absolutely
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incompetent people for office. i mean, there's a story probably not true about the secretary of the navy and 18 a 77. well, he's a politician from indiana. how much see close does indiana have not much and it said that when you made his first inspection of a navy ship he stood on the deck tapped his pain on the deck with amazement and cried why foot during things hollow? well, it's an interesting kind of point of view. well, cleveland speaks for civil service reform the idea. that officers should be handed to people on the basis of examination and that you shouldn't fire people for political purposes that in fact, they should serve out a certain term and then they could be replaced maybe with your own people, but they'd have to be people of capacity in other words. he really speaks for reform and he makes a magnificent contrast to blame. those only one small catch with
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the delegates hadn't figured out. grover cleveland is a remarkably honest and able man. there's not a question about it. he's a man of great courage in many ways. he has all the qualities. we'd like to see in a president except intelligence, but you can't have everything really uh, but there is one other aspect about him that we need to try to look at. this cartoon here shows the governor as a kind of a celibate avoiding matrimony and everything else. the real story though is a little more disturbing. about a week after the convention of meets a story comes out a called it terrible tale. and there it mentions that cleveland was a lifelong bachelor had a dissolute career in buffalo new york that he went to bars that he was wildly drunk that he had been joyriding plastered in a carriage with his
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law partner oscar folsom and and in the process of that there'd been an accident and the courage it turned over in his partner was killed but most important that cleveland was a rank de bushey that he was always in the company of prostitutes and much worse. that he had fathered and illegitimate child by a widow by the name of maria halpin and when the widow began to get obstreperous, he did the kind of stuff that you see in 19th century. melodramas. he had his friends in the law arrestor and lock her in a madhouse. oh boy. this is a really great person to run for the office of president and so on it's it it's a horrifying kind of story and and then suddenly you've got the sense that there's a man who's public life is squeaky clean and his private life is absolutely atrocious. and and that's a very disturbing kind of picture out there and
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you can see it in this cartoon right here another voice for cleveland. then the baby is crying. i want my paw. well you look at that story and you wonder how can this campaign, you know be anything but one of the dirtiest in history and dirty it is in fact, it should be added cleveland did the politically smart thing which was what most people would have considered their really unpolitical thing when committees came up to albany to ask him to put a spin on this. his answer was simple. he said tell the truth. and so an investigating committee of ministers went up to buffalo and they discovered cleveland wasn't a drunk cleveland wasn't in that accident with this partner oscar folsom cleveland was in had in fact lived a very respectable life. but yes, cleveland had carried on an affair with maria halpin
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and maria halpin had been expecting and had been pregnant. and cleveland had a strong suspicion. in fact, he knew that she was seeing other men at the child might not be his. but he was the only unmarried person among all the other people and so he felt the morally proper thing to do was to take responsibility for it. well the ability of a person like this not to hide things and to tell the truth seemed like a tremendous contrast to blame who would fudge your lie about his past or deceive under any kind of circumstances and had done it on a regular basis. so the real question of character doesn't have to do with maria help and it has to do with is this a man of integrity? well, i i don't have to tell you that this is clearly not enough to make a campaign where it's going to be a very dirty campaign you will occasionally
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have a democrats marching shouting blaine blaine james key blaine continental wire from the state of maine and you will have republicans marching in chanting mom mom. where's my paw going to the white house? haha. you think yourself how could the campaign get it dirtier than this? well it is that dirty. and there are other aspects a few of the aspects that we might follow might include two minor parties labor party headed by former general benjamin butler and a prohibition party headed by the former governor of kansas man by the name of john p saint john. it's a wonderful religious name for a very evangelical party, uh these parties they could never carry a single state, but they could pull votes away from cleveland on one side or on blaine on the other so during the campaign very quietly ben butler's party.
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they could actually pull votes away from cleveland was being financed and subsidized by the blame forces to try to make sure that cleveland didn't get the votes he needed. and in fact, that was their big mistake because the party they really should have gone after was john p s a john's prohibition party because that was the one that drew entirely from republicans. and what actually happened was that the republicans ran out of money. they ran out of money. they couldn't pay for butler's campaign and also pay a big sum to john p. st. john to have him drop out of the race, which would have helped them enormously and that is why i blaine after a campaign swing came back to new york to a fundraising banquet a money band quit at delmonico's with millionaires to raise money that he desperately needed for his campaign the effect of that was a dramatic front page picture a cartoon belle's are blaine and
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the money king showing him surrounded by rich fat cats and and monopolists of the word find out there all wanting to get something out of the government out of this utterly corrupt. allegedly corrupt, man. it was a disaster thing, but you know, what on some days that would be described as bad news. but that day that wasn't the bad news for blaine the bad news for blame that day was much much worse. and i'll get to that in just a minute if i can. in other words, we're talking about a very surly nasty personal campaign a very ugly one and one that neither side should be particularly proud of as far as they win. you ask when you look about this what that other disaster was on opportunober 29th, and and there's a guy who did it. the fifth avenue hotel blaine is met by a congregation of
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ministers of all denominations. and they're there to tell him that he is the candidate of family. he's the candidate of religion. they don't have to mention cleveland illegitimate child. everybody knows what the underlying out. there is blaine is the candidate of morality cleveland the candidate of immoral you don't you don't have to get all that close to it, and they had done better than that because on that exact same day the republicans unleash to the newspapers two things a letter supposedly an affidavit for maria halpin saying i wasn't seduced by grover cleveland. i was raped and the second thing was our revelation that the prohibition candidate john peace a john was a spouse abuser and a wife beater in other words. you've got two of these candidates that you smeared good and hard and you've got all the ministers making a testimonial to blame. except unfortunately the master
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of ceremonies for this talk was the reverend samuel burchard and the reverend samuel burchard really wasn't clear about certain aspects of the campaign you see to win the state of new york blaine had to win at least some irish catholic votes, which usually voted democratic but they didn't like cleveland very much. and the part of the republican party had always been a very protestant party on the democratic party had always been the place where catholics had gone and blaine actually was making real inroads among the catholics and so you get the reverence samuel burchard and in his remarks of lady says we are republicans and we don't propose to leave our party and identifier cells with a party whose antecedents have been rum romanism and rebellion. we are loyal to our flag. we are loyal to you. well, you know what's happened right in that instant of the irish vote is gonna be lost and
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when the returns come in, i don't have to tell you what the effect of that is. the effect is a disastrous and the effect in fact of it is not simply disastrous blaine is going to lose the state of new york by a thousand votes and new york is the one state he needed to carry on that election if he was going to win. and so in many ways it looks as if this entire election has been decided by corruption and by scandal and by the most shady of tactics. well is that right? that's the way a lot of people describe it. i don't think it's actually true. the reality is that if you actually look at the votes in new york blaine does better with irish voters than the republican candidate four years before or four years later, so i'm not sure rumromedism rebellion made that much of a difference. what makes a difference is 22,000 people that vote for the
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prohibition party in new york, which is more than enough to turn the scale. because once you begin to make a smear on saint john's family, do you think he's gonna drop out of the race or do you think he's gonna fight to kill? you know, what's going to happen? and that is exactly what happened. but there's another aspect why this dirt at this time and that's where i want to spend about four or five minutes to suggest something. point number one political calculation in 1884 the civil war issues aren't of use anymore. uh, you could waive the bloody shirt. you can talk sectionalism. but blaine realized this is a great way to lose because the south is a solid democratic south if the democrats carry the whole south and they always do they only need two northern states to have an electoral majority, indiana and new york. so what you need to do is try to bring up an issue.
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that doesn't make white southerners mad. don't talk about race. don't talk about things of of the past and the war talk about the tariff the tax on goods coming into the country which will benefit rice growers in the south and sugar growers in the south and ironmongers and birmingham alabama as much as it will pencil thing you iron makers and as much as it will the people that grow sheep it in in with wisconsin and ohio in other words, you're making the tariff issue number one, that's your key and part of that is the tariff is protection and so protection of the home that's part of what the terrorist doing. it's protecting the wage in the worker. so talking about protecting the home by talking about cleveland as a threat to the family in the home. it's a great blend out there. second kind of thing rather critical is that for a lot of people, you know? one of my friends were to say you shoot my dog a kill your cat
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it is if they're going to talk about blaine's private in business dealings and connection with politics. it feels like fair game to bring up the personal life of grover cleveland and make a lot of it. but there's also the other aspect the prohibition party as we've already described is very much of a work of a have a very protestant evangelical party. they think that morality should be at the front end of politics that the republican party should earn its name the party of moral ideals. and how do you persuade people that might vote prohibition to vote for blaine? well, you need to put this scandal about cleveland's the threat to the family foremost. don't you? that's how you do it and that's how they did it. and why are the democrats talking about corruption with with blaine? well, the answer is a lot of the democrats want to lower the tariff. they'll tell you that the tax on goods really puts money into the pockets of the rich guys and the
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monopolists, but if they can fit us into a picture of blaine as essentially being in the pay of just about every special interest out there they can sell it without ever talking about the tariff specifically and that's very important because there are some democrats that like a high tariff so you can't make the issue about the terror you to talk in code. and how do you talk in code you talk in terms of corruption dealing with james g blaine? in other words, we think that this is an election that's not talking about real issues, but it really is. there's one other thing if you ever go to parades political parades they have them in 1884. there's thousands of of banners all over the place and you know, how often anybody brings up grover cleveland is illegitimate child in any of those banners. almost never they're talking about the tariff. they're talking about the home. they're talking about the protection of people, but they
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don't talk about this scandal. they just don't do it. and i think it is because after this scandal was unveiled republicans realized that it was so icky and so disgusting that it was probably going to turn voters away if they emphasized it openly the best way you do it is you bring in the ministers. so we think we understand 1884. we think it's a non-issue election of personalities. and in fact, it's not it really isn't it's one where the real issues are things like the tariff the power of money in politics and a clean civil service. did the country choose right when it chose, cleveland? well, it depends and if you think a country ever chooses, right if a president is elected by suppressing the vote in about half of the states in the southern half of the country by keeping blacks who vote republican from ever going to
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the polls if you think that's a legitimate game then cleveland was honorably legitimately elected. which of the two people would have been a better president? frankly, i think the country would be better would have been well off with either one of them. there are worse things and a person being mildly corrupt if they're bright and talented and innovative and imaginative is blaine was. and honesty, you know in the presidency is not enough. the kind of honesty of a cleveland is the kind that can't believe that anybody is right except himself and he can't be flexible and change. william jennings, bryan really had the last word on that when he said nobody doubts that president cleveland is sincere, but so were the mothers in india that throw their children to the crocodiles in the ganges. so if you ask me who i would vote for in the 1884 election, the answer is that i really
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don't know if i were voting for the cleanest person probably would have been cleveland. if i were voting for the best person for president, it might have been blamed. okay. i am done. we actually just switch things up a little bit because my good friend and as you know, colleague here at the center of presidential history. brian franklin is the real expert on 19th century polish politics. i don't do anything that doesn't evolve nuclear weapons as a matter of principle. and so that was actually one of the most exciting and energetic talks we've seen in years, and i know that brian if you guys can turn on that camera, i know you have a lot of questions for professor summers. thanks, jeff, really appreciate it and thank you dr. summers for joining us. jeff is right. we do have a running joke between us that i have to remind him of which is that years that
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begin with 19 actually do in fact exist. so, but i'm glad to help take over and and hand you some questions today dr. summers. i thought i wanted to start with one question before we get to some of the audience questions. one question that struck me right as you were ending as you were sort of weighing who might i vote for this is building off of a question that actually nancy asked which is something sort of provocative, but pretty simple. what difference does it make who won? you let all the way up to 1884 and then we kind of jump off the edge. so what difference does it make given what you know happens afterwards. that's a very good question and the answer is i think it made an awful lot of difference if blaine had come in. i think that the tariff would have probably been raised increased protections among other things. i don't think that civil service reform would have sped along as fast. i don't think blaine was committed to the idea of not
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handing out the spoils to people that wanted the spoils. i think in foreign policy we would have found america growing an awful lot closer to our neighbors in latin america, which was very much on blaine's mind not growing closer in the sense of annexing them but in the sense of closer trade ties to create kind of an equivalent of a western hemisphere eu which was something that he really envisioned as a possibility to try to bring all of america to one larger combine. i think when it comes to things like veterans pensions blame would certainly not have bet vetoed veterans pension bills the way cleveland did and i think it's possible only barely possible that he would have put his weight behind a bill whose aim was to provide money for southern black schools that were so badly underfunded.
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you will never find this happening with cleveland and a lot of republicans were uneasy about it, but i'm not absolutely sure that blaine wouldn't have supported the so called blair will so i think it would have made a great deal of difference in some i think not so good ways in some very good ways. it's hard to play out those sorts of questions. it reminds me when i teach my texas history course here at smu. one of the things that were cleveland comes up really prominently isn't in his veto of the seed bill. oh, yes what and could i don't know if you could tell us a little bit about that, but also maybe the difference that blaine and cleveland had when it comes to sort of federal federal overreach. you might say or federal the federal government reaching into to help states when things like that happen in, texas. cleveland believed in using the government to spend as little money as it possibly could and that's one of the reasons why he would have liked to have lowered
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the tariff when he got around to favoring that in 1888. the less revenue comes in the less different ways. it can be spent in for a rivers and harbors or any of the other kind of things that are pork barrel messages. in 1887. there's a drought in texas and if i'm not mistaken the congress passes through a bill may have been 10,000 or something like that to buy feed for farmers that whose crops it entirely failed. grover cleveland beat of the bill saying while the people should support the government the government should not support the people and that fits very much with point of view. and that's one of the reasons why he was very hostile to most kind of union veteran pension bills private pension bills that went through as well. he's very strict about that kind of material and he does not want
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a government that has brought overreach. there's an argument to be made for that and the argument is that the states are laboratories of change in so many ways that it's safe leaving the task for them. but in certain respects it has to be said that's a very limited point of view and one that republicans did not share. i don't think there's any question that republicans would have believed that government is meant for the purpose of things like disaster relief. for example, it's meant to try to bail out. companies or otherwise that are in serious trouble that are crucial to the economy and that makes a difference between the two of them. now in his first term, you know feed bill for texas who cares about it outside of texas. probably nobody. i mean, it's it's a nice kind of thing. but you look for example in his second term, you know after benjamin harrison has sandwiched in between two terms of
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cleveland, uh and in a second term that level of inflexibility is the reason why william jennings bryan said what he did there's a sense almost insensitivity to a country where the suffering is very broad and and very wide that this man simply doesn't care which i don't think is true. he simply believed that the national government shouldn't take on those responsibilities even in a time of economic catastrophe, which is second term. in fact was of course the price of that was that thanks to his policies. the democrats would be as a result of it out of power for 16 years i don't know. it's a big price to pay for being right. that's true. that's true. but this this talk of views on the state government versus the federal government and the split between at least blaine and cleveland if not republicans and democrats. sure, sort of calls back to me a
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bit of a question that one person from the audience has i'm vincent now. i actually don't know if this particular fact is true. so i'll ask you which is whether cleveland pay to stay out of service and the civil war. but what that room i would like you to answer that if you know, but the broader question i have that that brings up in my mind is what role did the memory of the civil war and particularly the issue of states versus the federal government have in the campaign and in these two men's. views of how the government should work let me answer each of those questions first. one of the things that you could do during the civil war was at least in the united states as opposed to the pretended confederacy was you could you could act if you were susceptible to the draft. you could buy someone to act as a substitute in your place. that was perfectly legal. it was part of the law cleveland was at that point of struggling
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lawyer in buffalo. he was trying he was the only person that could take care of his mother and his sisters. uh, his sister's not being married his mother being a widow and close to destitution and he felt it made much more sense for him to practice long support them, then in fact go to war. so yes, he did send a substitute, but blaine didn't go to war either lane was in congress during civil war. so bringing up a war record wasn't gonna do any good and blaine did not want to bring up the war war and the democrats didn't want to bring up. war they wanted they didn't want the north to say this is the party of rebellion. this is the party of the confederacy. this is the party of the cue klux klan. so you want to try i have an issue that has nothing to do with it to say we're in new issues right now and blaine needed to crack the south. i mean he really wasn't gonna carry this out. but if you can carry west virginia and maryland and delaware and missouri and maybe
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can kentucky then you don't really need to worry too much about whether you're carry new york or not because you're gonna have electoral votes enough and his idea was if you want to do that. yeah emphasize the terror you talk about the tariff at all times and that's exactly what he did. so he was not going to use the bloody shirt and orders for we're not gonna do it. this had to not be an issue four years later. it's gonna be a very big issue because well, you've got cleveland running against general benjamin harrison so it makes a great deal of difference then. so that that really is the answer about war issues. but if you ask how much people's memory of the war lasts let me put it to you like this, you know when the last civil war of veteran retires from congress. 1932 that's how long that's how long the memories of this war last and have an effect on politics it you know, you can't
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get away from that. and it's going to continue that way. you know, what the biggest expenditure of the national government was in 1900. it's veterans pensions, which i think maybe as much as 40% of the national budget. that's how important the war. is it you can't get over it. it can't really be forgotten. no, and the government spending at its peak around that time and also that's the peak of when in society. you start seeing the sort of reunion coming together the building or any of the monuments that we see today are going up starting at this time, right? sure living. oh, yeah. oh, yeah from about 1875 up through about 1915. people are putting up the monuments. i don't i don't want to get into present-day politics here. largely. i feel a lot like a colonial history professor i had when i was in college when somebody asked him a question about the progress he says, i don't know anything after 1800 is current events to me and that's a way
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for me for about 1896 and i get on easy, but i want to caution that the reason these monuments are going up. it's very true that white supremacy is one of the things that causes monuments to go up in some of the south and i grant that but i also have to caution that these monuments are going up with the same time in the north and it ain't white supremacy that's doing that. i think one of the biggest motivators for monuments in the 1800s. it's supposed to in the 1900s. is the veterans getting old they're dying and they want to be and their heirs want them to be remembered so that their sacrifice doesn't end up being forgotten kind of the way today. we forgotten veterans of world war. i where it's just you know, oh, yeah world war ii saving private ryan, but world war one is virtually vanished from our consciousness. and i i think that memory is really critical. because the veterans on both
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sides really are bothered that people will see this war as maybe an entertainment maybe a lapse out there, but we'll forget the kind of sacrifices that they made. and that's kind of important. so it's a very tricky kind of issue to really handle but it's on everybody's mind the issue of the war. you can't you can't really get away from it. yeah for sure memory of the war memory of the people who fought you know in some cases trying to put forward particular ideas about what they want going for. but all those are wrapped up in it. i've got a question here that's from a blame which i can only assume is a blend ascendant who asks about cleveland's record and policy on what he calls law and order. does that bring any bell for you? i know that that's a more recent term law and order well in his first administration, i can't really talk much about law and
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order because there's not really much to say what the closest you can come to the issue of law and order is he is attempt to take back land grant from the red that we're going to the railroads where the railroads did not fit the conditions in the law and it and it failed to do what they'd promised in return for those land grants. but you get to a second administration in the in the 1890s. and this is a president who is perfectly willing to send out the military largely to break a strike of railroad workers and pullman employees in chicago even of the cost of violence. he sends the troops arguably. he's attorney general sends the troops arguing that is to keep peace in chicago up till then there hadn't been any violence in chicago when the troops come that there that that all at once the violence begins to break out and it doesn't look like it's like it's the strikers the committed the violence. and the other thing from that
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presidency i find very troubling that's also a case of the law being used shall we say in creative ways? is when a man called jacob coxy decides to march a march of the jobless to washington. they don't want to hand out. they don't want welfare. they think the government should create a kind of a jobs program to help them, you know work and and earn money to get through the depression. the president won't even see jacob coxy. he won't see the delegation. the congress won't meet for them. but the police and the capital arrests jacob coxi, and they throw him in jail for walking on the grass. probably tells you about as much about law and order as you really want in that respect. i thought i might shift we've actually have a couple of questions that sort of ask us to follow blaine forward just a little bit sure years that he becomes secretary of state and
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this developing relationships with latin america. i guess i might ask you could you tell us a little bit about how that comes about post to this election, but also maybe sort of one of these what if questions you know what happens to those sorts of changes in international relations and markets particularly with latin america if blaine becomes president instead well, i think if he'd been president he would have embarked on those programs four years sooner wouldn't it? because he'd be in the white house and he'd essentially really be his own secretary of state. he enjoyed being secretary of state under garfield very very much in the about nine months that he was secretary of state. he loved dabbling in politics and his influence in politics under garfield was absolutely dreadful, but his dabbling in foreign policy was was very farsighted. people describe blaine is if he was actually kind of a danger in foreign policy. he referred to jingo jim, you know a person that was a
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saber-rafter who would get us into wars. that's simply not the way he behaved the secretary of state. why did it become secretary of state? well in 1888 when the republicans meet in convention, he's the favorite of most of the republicans. all right, he was barely beaten in 1884, but he really still has the heart of the party blaine doesn't want the position and he sends in a letter to the convention refusing to take a nomination and essentially throwing a support to benjamin harris. well when benjamin harrison's elected president. he's really got no choice. he's got to make blame. give blame the top job as administration, which is the job that blaine wanted secretary of state. blaine and secretary of state proves to be pretty cautious president. he calls up an american congress to try to bring the nations together. he tries to punch holes in the tariff so that we have what's
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called reciprocity where you know, if say argentina, let's in our goods of some kinds will lower the the tariff on the hides that they're sending to us. for example, it's a policy in many ways to try to combine the the parts of the country. there's just there's just one real problem here. by 1889 or 1890 blaine isn't just a hypochondriac. he really is not well. and he's growing old very fast. and what makes him grow older in this in the secretary of state's job is the death of his son. i think and the death of his daughter i think to both of these people die and you know the loss of a child there's several child then as today is absolutely shattering. by early 1892 blaine is a very sick weary man the kind of energy he could throw into foreign policy. he just can't throw there.
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and i have to add as well that he's dealing with a president who from the very first known that the people in his party like blade much more than they like him and that if they had a chance they would nominate blaine in a heartbeat. and having a president like benjamin harris and who doesn't like you as secretary of state. that's an awful burden to carry because benjamin harrison, he's not a glad i had handing or nice kind of a person. he's a you know, the speaker of the house said i only had two enemies in public life one of them the president pardoned out of the penitentiary and the other he made the collector of the port in portland maine that this is not a we call sort of the common touch. i mean you could almost say at harrison to hardly know him to know him. well, he's a he's an honest man. he's an upright man, but he is not a glad-handing person and he in blaine, you know had markedly different personalities. so my answer is i think blaine
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did the best he could but by the time he becomes secretary of state the second time he's a man with very serious health issues and you know, i think it's you know about six months after he retires or resigned the secretary of state he dies in early 1893 so it's it's kind of a sad story really very much. yeah, um, i have two more questions here for you, maybe one specific and then maybe one a general one that you might. help us close with the first one has to do with this topic of religion in the election. yeah. i here's the question you made a you know, pretty specific case that historical memory tells us that this rum romanism rebellion charge had a significant effect, but in fact if we go back and look he had, you know more catholic votes than either as predicate the point before him or the one after him. that's right. what is what is this anti-catholic rhetoric doing on
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the ground in new york? and why is it that despite? i mean despite these charges. why is it that there's more votes for him in that election as opposed to before or after. even on a personal level. could you talk a little bit more about what is it that draws catholics away from the democratic party at this moment? even if it's just in, new york. sure, that's a that again is a very good question and there's a very good answer to it and as a caution irish catholics, and that's quite critical. two or three two or three answers to that that work. first first kind of point is i don't say that no votes were changed by rum romanism rebellion. i think if there hadn't been that speech blaine probably would have got even more irish catholic votes than he did. i think he lost some but he still had more than any republican before or after would get and and so that's critical to say and my suspicion is he lost fewer votes that way there
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were really caused by the prohibitionist upstate that we're voting vigorously against him a party that i might add was being bankrolled by the democrats nicely and quietly as well because they knew that's exactly what it would do. but the other aspect really has to do with irish catholics irish catholics one thing that held them together and a number of irish protestants too was they felt that england was tyrannical treating ireland's the colony and that ireland needed home rule and it needed to be free. and blaine as secretary of state had made very clear that he was critical of england. he was opposed to england's overweaning power in the world and he had been very supportive of irish-americans would gone over to england and been arrested he would be glad to use the state department to help them get out of difficulties and the irish catholics remembered that. this is a person that had taken
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this thing seriously some of them may also have remembered that if i'm not mistaken, i don't remember whether his sister was in a convent. i think she may have been and i think his mother is buried in a catholic graveyard, which means that there are catholics in the family and and this is something that you know can inclined people your way, but that's of course another reason why the tariff is such an important wedge issue. it doesn't just appeal to the south it appeals to irish catholics because the whole language of the protective tariff is our big enemy in the world in trade is england you bring in a low tariff and the english will under sell us in everything. you want to strike a blow it england you need to protective tariff to do it. and striking a blow at england and that kind of rhetoric boy. that sounds like music to irish catholic years. they love the sound of that. let me caution about the rum romanism rebellion.
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why didn't blaine speak up? well, we don't really know he was a very tired man by then. he had been campaigning and presidents didn't campaign in those days it sort of an unheard of thing. he was worn out he assumed it was going to be the same kind of boilerplate and my impression was he didn't actually wasn't really listening and i can imagine him standing on the steps in the fifth avenue hotel and going. what did he say did he say rum romanism and was that mormonism was that was that rum mormonism and rebellion rum romanism rebellion. i mean if it was mormonism that that's fine. utah doesn't vote. it's not in the election, of course mormons. we know that they they believe in multiplicity of wives were talking about sexual deviants in the 1800s kind of terms kind of like we're talking about certain candidates in the presidential race that are doing sexual deviance. ;-) notch out there without ever mentioning it and you know, let's say the minister hadn't said romanism. what do you do bring it up and
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say oh, i really believe that catholics should be treated equally when this isn't even brought up you're going to offend an awful lot of protestants out there. it's better to make your speech not even bring this issue up and simply talk about the tariff and hope that nobody's gonna notice notice and it's gonna blow over. so i think that's really the story out there, you know in a campaign when you're tired really tired. you begin to make mistakes. you wouldn't make and i think that's what happened to blaine. that i had answered the question or did i go off on robin hood's barn again, maybe a little both in but i've it's i think it's fascinating to hear it come down and even in a historian's perspective to perhaps this man was just tired or this man made a mistake because when we look back we often assume that you great men or women of the past are sort of above the the everyday life, but when we're watching a campaign now, we of course don't think that we see
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every hour every day how things affect candidates and how things can turn on even small. daily decisions, and it's really helpful to look back on elections from a century ago and think of them in those same terms. i'd like to ask you one final question here that maybe help us close out. and and and that's that's this. why don't we remember? this election and these candidates as much in the sort of general public? as we do others right the average person isn't going to be able to say anything i think about 1884 unless they're a particular history reader like they might be able to say about 1860 or about 1912 or 1940. whatever one of those big dates. what is it about this election? that seems to have perhaps left some of our consciousness outside of this the scandalous details. well, i guess the real answer.
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is that most of the elections in the 1800s? nobody remembers and no nobody remembers anybody? remember? i think anything about the 1880 election or the 1888 blocks of five election 1892. that's a big election the fact is that most americans really don't pay attention to gilded age history anymore. they know that there's a lot of presidents that had beards but they can't really tell one from the other and so i i think it's just a matter of collective memory. i wish i could say that americans will not remember though elections. they've had over the last few years some day, but i'm afraid i'm afraid some of the stuff is so lured. it's gonna last a long time, but you know the issues the stories of the of the guild today. there's so much fun. they're so exciting but to most people so then it's so over that
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nobody remembers it anymore. and you know this kind of too bad because this stuff is really cool. and it's one of the kind of things that how williams wrote books on. i'm i can't really speak for all of his books. i haven't looked at any of his books and so about 80 clock this morning, but you know, he's a spectacular rider and i would recommend that if people want to pick up something like decade or decision about the policies the 1890s, it's not a very long book, but you'll get fun out of every single page. okay. no, that's a i mean, that's a great answer. i i think to you know, what is it that people are interested in when it comes to today's elections and we talk about scandal and we talk about dinners and what's said in particular private dinners and we talk about attack ads and about religion and about all these things. i mean, these are front and center in the late 1800s and very similar ways feel like we
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could learn a lot about today good. yeah. well, i really appreciate youi .
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because one of the interesting things about this. period is most folks know that it's going to happen most folks understand that by 1944. president roosevelt's not going to complete his fourth term in office the question is when and who's going to take on this responsibili?


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