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Response to Triana (Original post)

Tue Sep 30, 2014, 06:23 PM

32. That had been the position of the Democratic Party since 1896


1896 is one of the pivoted elections in his history. The Democratic Party went into full progressive mode. At the convention they REJECTED the position of the sitting DEMOCRATIC President and selected as the Democratic Candidate William Jennings Bryan and his embracing the concept of the Income Tax, inflation (through the minting of silver dollar coins), internal improvements (i.e., paved roads for the farmers) and banning the use of Order Orders in Strike (a big issue among unions at that time, for Court Orders were used to JAIL strikers), etc. In 1908 Bryan would even embrace voting for women, even through the greatest resistance to that was in the American South, an area of the COuntry HE had to win to win the Presidency.

Bryan was attacked in 1896, some people calling him "loony" for even THINKING silver dollars should be minted.

Background: In 1857, do to the massive increase in Gold (Something like 10-25% of all gold even found was found in California) the US revised its coinage system. The Half Cent was dropped and the "Large Cent" was replaced by what we now call the "Cent". The Silver coins (the half dime, replaced by the nickel in the late 1860s, the dime, the Quarter, the Half Dollar and Silver Dollar) all contain enough silver to be equal to just about what their nominal value was. Then the huge Nevada Silver mines opened up during the Civil War, so by the 1880s the value of silver in such coins was worth about half their nominal amount (i.e, a Silver Dollar in 1900 had about .55 cents worth of Silver in it).

Do to the Civil War, the US started to print paper money in 1861, silver and gold coins soon disappeared. The US even PRINTED Three cent paper money for people had started to use stamps as currency do to the shortage of silver coins. The Nickel was introduced to provide a non-silver coin (and to replace the unpopular half dime, a coin half the size of the dime and thus easy to lose).

After the end of the Silver War, Congress wanted the US dollar to return to its traditional value of $20 to an ounce of gold. In 1864 it had reached $200 an ounce of gold and Congress had ruled paper money equal gold coins at face value for any and all debts. Thus Congress attempted to pay off the Civil War Debt so Congress could then use Federal Funds to buy dollars till the Dollar Returned to $20 to an ounce of gold. This caused a huge deflationary surge. People who borrowed $100 in 1864 had to pay the equivalent of $1000 to pay off that debt in 1874 (The year the debt was paid off, and the Civil War Income Tax was abolished). Deflation is WORSE then inflation for it makes debtors even further behind for this very reason. i.e. what they could sell in 1864 at $100, they could sell in 1874 for $10, but any PAPER debt was still $100. This lead to what is now called the "Long Depression" of 1874-1898 (Dates actually varies, these are the "Best fit" dates).

By the 1880s farmers had had enough and wanted inflation, and seeing that Silver had dropped in price compared to Gold demanded minting of Silver Dollars (do to the inflation of the Civil War, paper money was "disfavored" at that time period EXCEPT if expressed in terms of gold, thus "Gold Certificates" were viewed as "Gold" not paper money). The Farmers combined with the Silver miners demanded "Free Silver" the minting of silver coins independent of their effect on the price of dollars in gold.

In 1896 the Democratic Party embraced this concept. William Jennings Bryan wanted the Free minting of Silver to kick the economy to help the farmers (the Majority of People still lived on the farm in 1896, the first census that showed more people living in urban areas then in rural areas was the 1920 census, and to get that what are now called "urban Clusters" were included in people living in Urban areas. A Urban cluster is a location where at least 2000 people live in some sort urban area, in an otherwise rural county. Such Urban clusters also make many rural areas "urban" for more people live in such "Urban Clusters" in many rural counties then actually live in the country and thus are called "Urban Counties" . This is best seen in California.



Thus the "Free Silver" Movement of the 1880s and 1890s was a demand for inflation, which was something Wall Street OPPOSED. Free Silver died out after 1896 for in 1898 you had three gold strikes, Australia, South African and Alaska. This produced what is called "Gold Inflation" i.e. what you could buy with a set amount of gold went down for as more gold entered the gold market, the demand for other items stayed constant. Thus what you could buy with gold in 1896 was more then you could buy with gold in 1900. This "Gold Inflation" was the inflation the Democrats had called for when they endorsed "Free Silver", thus "Free Silver" died out as an issue for you had finally had the inflation that the country had needed since the 1870s.

Now, the Democratic Party thus embraced the concept of what we now call progressive economics. Bryan was the leader of the movement and thus was attacked, even after he was dead. My favorite attack was Herbert Hoover's attack on the New Deal "Bryanism without Bryan". In simple terms it was Bryan's wing of the party that demanded economic reforms and finally achieved it with the New Deal.

Anyway, Bryan and his progressives stayed in control of the Democratic Party for the 1900 election, but lost out to what we would call the DLC in 1904. In 1908 Bryan won the nomination again. All four time the Democrats lost and I remember reading in my history book that Bryan won less votes in each election. Those same books did not mention, that the GOP candidate ALSO received less votes and Bryan's percentage was higher (The 1904 was the lowest votes for Democratic Candidates for it was a what we would call a DLCer).

In 1912 Wilson won the nomination and picked Bryan as his Secretary of State. Bryan resigned in 1915 for he said Wilson's refusal to reign in the New York City Banks would FORCE the US into WWI just to protect their investments. In 1920 FDR was picked as the VP candidate but lost the election. It should be noted that Bryan was lukewarm in that election for neither stood for economic reforms that were needed. Bryan died in 1925, and in 1928 the Democratic Party decided to run his long time nemesis, Al Smith of New York. Bryan had long opposed Al Smith, not for Smith being Catholic, but that Smith represented Tammy Hall AND was a known month piece of Wall Street. Al Smith lost badly. The Bryanites (as they were often called) were back in charge in 1932. While FDR was NOT a Bryanite, he was willing to work with them.

Thus the short history of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party from 1896 to 1932. From 1932 to 1945 FDR was President, from 1945 to 1952 Truman. Truman was of the big city bosses wing of the Democratic Party for they had selected him to be the next President when they forced FDR to replace Henry Wallace with Truman in the 1944 Campaign. Wallace had been of Bryanite wing of the party, but that wing also wanted clean government AND the end of patronage. The big city bosses had no problem with clean government but patronage was important to them and Wallace's opposition to patronage had been a problem when Wallace was Vice President, but with FDR's health deteriorating in 1944, the Big City bosses wanted someone to be the next President who understood they problems and that was Truman.

Truman had a hard time switching from a War Economy to a peach economy. Truman did NOT want another Post War Depression that had cost him his store in 1921. Thus Truman refused to release people from the Military except at a pace the civilian market place could take them in. Thus for the ONLY time in American History they was NO POST WAR DEPRESSION caused by the sudden release of soldiers into the civilian Market place. For this he was ATTACKED by the GOP. The GOP said he was DENYING those soldiers the RIGHT to live as free men. Truman retort, basically was, all he was doing was preventing them from going jobless after fighting. The GOP used HOW Truman handle the economy to get control of the House in 1946, but then lost control of the house in 1948 for Truman showed HE knew how to keep the economy going.

Jack Kennedy was of the DLC wing of the Democratic Party (as had his father been). Thus JFK's effort as to desegregation was no better then had been Eisenhower's. LBJ was of the Bryanite wing of the Democratic Party and thus was able to push through Civil Rights (at the cost of going to war in Vietnam, yes the two ARE connected). Carter was of the Bryanite Wing of the party, but the DLCers could get what the Progressive wing could not get, financing.

In 1896 Bryan was outspent 3.5 million to .650 million dollars, and still won 42% of the vote (One of Bryan's enemy, H.L. Mencken, would later said the only reason Bryan lost was do to ELECTION FRAUD (1896 was the first ballot in Presidential Elections that ALL ballots were Secret, prior to 1896 you marked you ballot and the vote was counted AS YOU VOTED, thus everyone knew who you voted for, Secret ballots had long been opposed for it was easier to rig such ballots AND it was impossible to show who cast what ballot so even if the ballot HAD been changed there was no way to determine that). Bryan's problem was a lack of cash.

Anyway, FDR and HIS PARTY, was the product of what Bryan AND his followers had started in 1894 (Two years BEFORE the election of 1896). They wanted progressive political movement and started that ball. It was a long haul, but any REFORM takes time.

Bryan was so popular that the GOP attacked him all the time. Many of what you hear of him in the Scoop's Monkey Trial are the results of those attack NOT what happened at that Trial. Darrow and Bryan were both good Democrats, they had campaign together many a time. Darrow even went to Bryan's Funeral and his comment was the US lost a good man (Darrow and Bryan disagreed over teaching of Human evolution when that was the decision of the local school board, but on most other items they were in agreement).

Sidenote: Darrow had long attack fundamentalism and when he heard Bryan had agreed to participate in the Scoops Monkey Trial, for the only time in his career Darrow agreed to serve as an attorney for free. From what I have read this was more to show the world who was the better speaker then anything else. Darrow had long been active on what is called the "Rubber Chicken" Circuit given speeches for paid. Bryan had preferred the Chautauqua Circuit where his more progressive messages were better received. Radio and the Great Depression killed off the Chautauqua Circuit, but that was long after Bryan was dead. Bryan was the #1 draw in that circuit, till replaced by Helen Keller after his death.

Bryan even in 1896 supported labor and did all he could to help labor. At that time period the use of Court Orders to suppress strikes was widespread and the single most effective tool against unions. Bryan supported restriction on the issuance of such court orders, a big thing for labor in 1896. Thus the New Deal is the product of almost 40 years of effort, most of it seem ineffective between 1896 and 1928, but it prevailed after 1932.

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LineReply That had been the position of the Democratic Party since 1896
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