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A History of the United States by Cecil Chesterton

And though the Philippines were retained


organized Socialism is, in America, almost a negligible force; not so organized labour. In no country has the Trade Union movement exercised more power, and in no country has it fought with bolder weapons. In the early struggles between the organized workers and the great capitalists, violence and even murder was freely resorted to on both sides, for if the word must be applied to the vengeance often wreaked by the Labour Unions on servants of the employer and on traitors to the organization, the same word must be used with a severer moral implication of the shooting down of workmen at the orders of men like Carnegie, not even by the authorized police force or militia of the State, but by privately hired assassinators such as the notorious Pinkerton used to supply.

The labour movement in America is not generally Collectivist. Collectivism is alien to the American temper and ideal, which looks rather to a community of free men controlling, through personal ownership, their own industry. The demand of American labour has been rather for the sharp and efficient punishment of such crimes against property as are involved in conspiracies to create a monopoly in some product and the use of great wealth to "squeeze out" the small competitor. Such demands found emphatic expression in the appearance in the 'nineties of a new party calling itself "Populist" and formed by a combination between the organized workmen and the farmers of the West, who felt themselves

more and more throttled by the tentacles of the new commercial monopolies which were becoming known by the name of "Trusts." In the elections of 1892, when Cleveland was returned for a second time after an interval of Republican rule under Harrison, the Populists showed unexpected strength and carried several Western States. In 1896 Democrats and Populists combined to nominate William Jennings Bryan as their candidate, with a programme the main plank of which was the free coinage of silver, which, it was thought, would weaken the hold of the moneyed interests of the East upon the industries of the Continent. The Eastern States, however, voted solid for the gold standard, and were joined, in the main, by those Southern States which had not been "reconstructed" and were consequently not included politically in the "Solid South." The West, too, though mainly Bryanite, was not unanimous, and McKinley, the Republican candidate, was returned. The Democratic defeat, however, gave some indication of the tendencies which were to produce the Democratic victory of 1916, when the West, with the aid of the "Solid South," returned a President whom the East had all but unanimously rejected.

McKinley's first term of office, saw the outbreak and victorious prosecution of a war with Spain, arising partly out of American sympathy with an insurrection which had broken out in Cuba, and partly out of the belief, now pretty conclusively shown to have been unfounded, that the American warship _Maine_, which was blown up in a Spanish harbour, had been so destroyed at the secret instigation of the Spanish authorities. Its most important result was to leave, at its conclusion, both Cuba and the Philippine Islands at the disposal of the United States. This practically synchronized with the highest point reached in this country, just before the Boer War, by that wave of national feeling called "Imperialism." America, for a time, seemed to catch its infection or share its inspiration, as we may prefer to put it. But the tendency was not a permanent one. The American Constitution is indeed expressly built for expansion, but only where the territory acquired can be thoroughly Americanized and ultimately divided into self-governing States on the American pattern. To hold permanently subject possessions which cannot be so treated is alien to its general spirit and intention. Cuba was soon abandoned, and though the Philippines were retained, the difficulties encountered in their subjection and the moral anomaly involved in being obliged to wage a war of conquest against those whom you have professed to liberate, acted as a distinct check upon the enthusiasm for such experiments.

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