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A History of the Republican Party by Platt

1882 appointing a Tariff Commission


The

Forty-seventh Congress opened its first session on December 5, 1881, with David Davis presiding in the Senate; in the House, Joseph Warren Keifer, Republican, of Ohio, was elected Speaker by 148 votes to 129 for Samuel J. Randall, and the Republicans were again in control of both branches of Congress. The legislation of this Congress was marked by the redemption of the party pledges of the preceding campaign. The Edmunds law (March, 1882) was directed at polygamy in Utah and the territories. Immigration of Chinese laborers to the United States was suspended for ten years (May 6, 1882), a previous bill making the time twenty years having been vetoed by President Arthur. A bill was also approved (May 15, 1882) appointing a Tariff Commission. The Commission met in Washington in July. It was constituted from both political parties, and was composed of men of high standing. When the second session of the Forty-seventh Congress convened on December 4, 1882, it listened to the second annual message from President Arthur, in which the main subject to receive attention was the rapid reduction of the national debt by the large annual surplus revenue. The Tariff Commission at the same time submitted an exhaustive report, containing a schedule of duties recommended by it; after considerable debate and many changes in the schedule, a tariff bill was passed and approved by the President, March 3, 1883, the Democrats steadily opposing it.

Civil Service Reform

was taken up and provided for in the Pendleton Civil Service Reform bill (January, 1883), which provided for a non-partisan commission and defined their duties; the effect of this bill was to withdraw from politics the employes of the Government.

The strong prejudices which accompanied Mr. Arthur into office never fully disappeared; during 1882 and 1883 there was considerable public unrest which had its natural influence on political action; it was caused by dissatisfaction among the laboring classes against combinations of capital, which were now resulting from the extraordinary development of the nation's resources, and also because many producers were dissatisfied with the provisions of the new tariff schedule. Although the country was enjoying great prosperity and business confidence, there was a feeling for a change of politics and men. These various causes, and the fact that the strong slavery and sectional issues had disappeared from politics, were demoralizing to the Republican strength in many of the pivotal States, and portended an exceedingly close election in the campaign of 1884. Ohio elected a Democratic Secretary of State in 1882, and followed it the next year by electing Mr. Hoadley, Democrat, over Mr. Foraker, Republican, for Governor. Many other important Democratic victories were gained in 1882 --Pennsylvania electing a Democratic Governor and New York electing Grover Cleveland by the enormous majority of 192,000, a victory which secured him the Democratic presidential nomination in 1884. President Arthur was a candidate for the presidential nomination in 1884, and his strength came mainly from the South, but the overwhelming Republican sentiment in the northern and western States demanded the nomination of one whose distinguished services and magnetic personality would unquestionably, with a united party behind him, bring another victory to the party in its eighth national contest.


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