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CHAPTER XXXIII

LOOKING FORWARD

IT

T was a distinctly new McKinley who faced the

cheering crowd before the Capitol on Inauguration Day, March 4, 1901. Four years before, the man who took the oath of office was McKinley the Republican, the triumphant leader of his party, untried in the responsibilities of the great position of trust then conferred upon him, anxious for the future, but confident that the principles for which he stood would save the country from its distress. Now it was McKinley the national President, standing before a reunited nation from which sectionalism had been driven away; a President whose judgment had been vindicated and his principles approved; a President returned to power with the confidence and goodwill of the wise and patriotic men of all parties. The great problem of the Currency had been solved and the national credit reëstablished on a satisfactory basis. Idle mills had resumed their functions, labor was employed, exports had reached a volume in excess of those of any other nation, and the whole country teemed with active productivity. The promises of the party leader had been more than

fulfilled. But these had been overshadowed by new responsibilities. The nation had become a worldpower. International questions, which in previous administrations had rarely come to perplex the occupant of the White House, were now matters of almost weekly occurrence. These were questions, not of party politics, but of national policy. The changed condition was profoundly realized by the President, who said to his Secretary with deep emotion, “I can no longer be called the President of a party; I am now the President of the whole people."

In his first Administration McKinley was busy with the working-out of the new tariff and currency laws, with the trying difficulties of the Spanish War and the delicate negotiations with Spain before and after the war, with the new and complicated problems of insular government, and with the diplomacy which the new position of the United States among the nations had imposed upon him. The work in the White House trebled and quadrupled and the office force had to be greatly increased merely to handle the clerical labor incident to the changed conditions.

Indeed, the President himself had changed. He had grown with each new responsibility. He was a broader, deeper, greater statesman than he had been before. Like Lincoln, he rose to meet every emergency that confronted him. The strain of complex situations seemed only to clarify his vision. Thus it was that, at the beginning of his second Administration, McKinley seemed to face the future with the eyes of a prophet. He had marked out the lines of a new political development, the necessary corollary of the entrance of the United States upon the responsibilities of a world-power. He foresaw that the nation must anticipate new and possibly complex relations with other

The

government of dependent peoples in the Philippines and in the Antilles was to be worked out upon definite plans which he had laid down. The peace of China and its integrity as a Nation remained to be secured, with that consideration for the welfare and happiness of its people upon which the President had insisted. The close relations with Europe and Japan, which the Boxer incident had accentuated, indicated that the United States must hold itself in readiness for future emergencies of an international character. McKinley realized that the country, in facing new duties and possibly new perils, must first safeguard its own stability, provide against lurking dangers, and by a broad and enlightened policy preserve and strengthen the unparalleled prosperity that had come to its industrial, agricultural, and commercial interests.

powers.

With the view of accomplishing this purpose he now began to give anxious thought to two great problems. The first was the conservation of prosperity. He realized that the diversified production made possible by the rapid growth of the industries of the country had outstripped the capacity of the home market to absorb it, and that the foreign markets must be enlarged by broader commercial relations. Reciprocity arrangements had already been negotiated with France, Portugal, Italy, and Germany, and with Great Britain for her West-Indian possessions; also with Nicaragua, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic, and with Denmark in behalf of the Island of St. Croix. These conventions were then pending in the Senate, and it was the intention of the President to secure their ratification, if possible, and then to arrange new treaties with other nations. This policy, in his judgment, would preserve the principles of Protection at home and at the same time secure an outlet for the surplus products in foreign markets. He saw in the idea the supreme development of the theory to which he had given so many years of his life. During his vacation in Canton in the preceding summer he had outlined a series of speeches through which he expected to bring the country to the support of his plans.

The second of the great problems was the control

of the trusts. No critic of the Administration saw more clearly than did President McKinley that the unprecedented wave of prosperity was fraught with danger. He was not blind to the growing tendency of large business interests to consolidate their capital, either for greater economy of production and operation, or for the purpose of buying out or ruining their small competitors. Nor was he indifferent to the enormous industrial advantages of such combinations, provided they were conducted honestly and without detriment to the interests of the people. The rapid organization of trusts was both a good and a bad movement; with advantages as well as dangers, neither of which could be disregarded. To control these vast corporations, so that the people of the country should share in their benefits and be protected against their vicious tendencies, to weld them into an element of strength in the industrial structure without temporizing with their evils, was a problem to which the statesman who had done so much for the business interests of his country might well give a large share of his attention. The question so absorbed his mind that even before his second inauguration President McKinley had begun the collection of data for a series of speeches and had reached the firm determination to deal seriously with the evils inseparable from the rapid multipli

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