United States Elections: Presidential Elections (1896)

American election 1896
Figure 1.--This cabinet card shows a smarly dressed boy wearing a double-breasted suit and holding a homberg hast. He has a round McKinley button pinned to his lapel. Politics throughout the 19th century before the movies, radio, and television was a subject of public entertainment in America. The studdio was Sackett's Art Studio, Pittsburg, Kansas. Kansas like most of the southern Plsins (non-industrial Midwest) and West would go for Bryan.

The United States in the late-19th century was a country evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. Elections could go eitherway. The 1896 election was a cloese one, but it would prove to be one of the transformational ekection in American history and usher in a period of Republican accendency. At the 1896 Republican Convention, in time of depression, the wealthy Cleveland businessman Marcus Alonzo Hanna ensured the nomination of his friend William McKinley as "the advance agent of prosperity." The Democrats on the 5th ballot nominated William Jennings Bryan. He would mesmerized the Democratic Partyfor two decades. He was of Scotts-Irish and English origins. Religion played a very important role in his life from an early age. He was one of the most influential American politicans of turn-of-the century America, but had an unimpressive political history and proved not very successful at winning elections. The economy was the central issue in the election. The Democrats, advocating the "free and unlimited coinage of both silver and gold"--which would have mildly inflated the currency--nominated William Jennings Bryan. This was a kind of coming attraction for the 20th century with the Democrats advocating inflationsry policies and the Republicans sound fiscal policies. While Hanna used large contributions from eastern Republicans frightened by Bryan's views on silver, McKinley met delegations on his front porch in Canton, Ohio. Bryan sept the Solid South and most of the west, except Califormnos and Oregon. McKinnley carried the industrial northeast and industrialized upper mid-West. McKinnley won by the largest majority of popular votes since 1872, although it was relatibvely close. The Republican victory was much greater in the electoral College. Bryan proved to be one of the most electrifying losers in American political history. He lost his first campaign to McKinley. Money was a major factor in the campaign. The business community stringly supported McKinnley and the Republicans. Jennings spent about $0.25 million on his campaign. Mark Hanna suceeded in raising 10 times that ammount for McKinley. It proved to be a high-turnout election and a close finish. It is sometimes lost on modern commentators that the voter's choice of McKinley and sound fiscal policues resulted in a period of economic growth, expansion, and prosperity. This would make the Republicans the dominant political part in America for three decades.


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Created: 5:44 AM 4/22/2012
Last updated: 5:45 AM 4/22/2012