CHAPTER X. EXTREME REPUBLICANISM
That Quay was able to tap a new source of supply was due to a combination of circumstances. It will be remembered that the Pendleton civil service act of 1883 had forbidden the assessment of office-holders in political campaigns, and had made it necessary to procure funds elsewhere. In the campaign of 1888, business men who believed that the success of Cleveland would hurt their interests, and manufacturers who profited directly by the protective tariff rallied to the defence of Harrison and contributed heavily to his campaign fund.
The use to which the funds thus contributed were put was revealed in a letter written apparently by W.W. Dudley, treasurer of the National Republican Committee, and sent to party leaders in Indiana. The latter were directed to find out who had the "Democratic boodle" and force them, presumably by competition, to pay big prices for their own men. The leaders were also instructed to "divide the floaters into blocks of five and put a trusted man with the necessary funds in charge of these five, and make him responsible that none get away, and that all vote our ticket."
On the other hand the most wholesome feature of the campaign was its educational aspect. Hundreds of societies, tons of "literature," thousands of stump speeches attacked and defended the tariff. Schoolboys glibly retailed the standard arguments on one side or the other. Attention was centered, as it had not been since the war, on an important issue.
At the close of the campaign the Republicans played a trick which was reminiscent of the Morey letter of Garfield's day. A letter purporting to be from a Charles F. Murchison, a naturalized American of English birth, was sent to the British minister in Washington, Lord Sackville-West. Murchison requested the minister's opinion as to whether President Cleveland's hostile policy in a recent controversy with Canada had been adopted for campaign purposes and whether after election the President would be more friendly toward England. Lord Sackville indiscreetly replied that he believed President Cleveland would show a conciliatory spirit toward Great Britain. The correspondence was held back until shortly before the election and was then published in the newspapers and on hand bills. Republicans triumphantly declared that Cleveland was the "British candidate." The President was at first inclined to overlook the incident but eventually gave way to pressure and dismissed the minister, whereupon the English government refused to fill the vacancy until there was a change of administration.
In the ensuing election the vote cast was unusually heavy; the protectionists felt that a supreme effort must be made to preserve the tariff system, and the Democrats, having experienced the joys of power, were determined not to loosen their grip on authority; the Prohibitionists increased their vote over that of 1884 by 100,000, while the Labor party cast 147,000, almost as many ballots as the Prohibitionists had numbered in the earlier year. Cleveland received somewhat over 100,000 more votes than Harrison, but his support was so placed that his electoral vote was sixty-five less than his opponent's.
From the standpoint of political history the result was unfortunate. The tariff question had been sadly in need of a definite answer, the people had been educated upon it and had given a decision, but the electoral system placed in power the party pledged to the theories of the minority. Aside from the unusual effect of our machinery of election, many small elements entered into the Republican victory. Some of the Independents had become disaffected since 1884 and had returned to the Republican fold. Disgruntled office-seekers opposed a President who did not reward his workers. In New York, which was the decisive factor, Hill was a candidate for re-election as governor and was elected by a small majority, while Cleveland lost the state by 7,000 votes. This gave color to charges that the enemies of the President had made a bargain with the Republicans by which the latter voted for Hill as governor and the Democrats for Harrison as President.