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Sectional Interests

Watching rifts open in the 1890s among various regions of the U.S., observers often expressed fear that the country would return to civil war. Both McKinley and Bryan supporters accused the other of "sectional hostility," either as representatives of ex-Confederates and Western renegades, or of Northeastern industrialists. The departure of many Western silver Republicans from the national convention, and the endorsement of Bryan by Western- and Southern-based Populists, deepened the connection between region and party.

us sectional interest map

Cartoons on Sectional Interests

  • June 21: Denver New Road: Cleveland's Romance
  • Aug 13: American Non-Conformist: Farmer Hanna
  • 10 September, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • 13 September, Boston Globe
  • 14 September, L.A. Times
  • 20 September, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • 24 September, L.A. Times
  • 26 September, L.A. Times
  • 28 October, Puck
  • 14 November, Judge


At the present time we are hearing a good deal of a "new sectionalism" which is said to be arraying the West and South against the East. . . . The states between the Mississippi, the Ohio, and the Great Lakes form the debatable region. The East, which is the chief object of Western and Southern hostility, includes the New England and Middle states, with New York as a centre. Kansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas, Colorado, and Nevada have been most distinctly committed to the new doctrines. These states have been strongholds of the Populists. . . . In the South, Alabama and South Carolina, and more lately North Carolina, have been the chief seats of the movement.

...The West and South are the debtors of the East, and regard that section as grasping and avaricious. The East, having suffered frequent loss, naturally looks at the West and South as debtors anxious to avoid payment of just debts. Hence arises the Western idea of the money power, in which England and the East are represented as grasping usurers, bent on the enslavement of the world. Contrasted with this idea is the equally mistaken Eastern view of the West and South as filled with persons possessed of wild and fanatical ideas on industry and government. The hope of the future lies in a clear understanding of one section by the other, and a cordial union between them for the reform of existing abuses, . . . leaving none of the scars and burdens still remaining to us from the great conflict by which the older sectionalism of North and South was destroyed. —Frederick Emory Haynes, "The New Sectionalism," Quarterly Journal of Economics 10 (April 1896), 269-95.

The assertion that Altgeld wants to be insulted in New York so as to get a larger vote at home illustrates the peculiarities of politics. —Boston Globe, 18 October 1896

What a golden opportunity the "New South" is letting slip from its grasp in the present political campaign in not arraying itself on the side of sound-money principles! The millions of Eastern capital that have gone to the great West for agricultural development and high rates of interest will, as surely, be withdrawn--whichever way this election may terminate--to seek investment in those States that vote, as they borrowed, to pay their obligations in an honest dollar. —W. H. Childs, Brattleboro, Vermont, in New York World, 21 Sept. 1896

They accuse us of raising a sectional question. We have not raised a sectional question. The restoration of bimetallism is good not for the West and South only; it is good for the people of Connecticut also. . . . The gold dollar is not an honest dollar and the reason why our opponents insist on using the phrase "honest money" instead of gold money is because they recognize the difference between an honest dollar and a gold dollar. When they talk about honest money and the gold standard at the same time they remind me of the men who went to a cemetery and saw an inscription upon a monument: "Here lies a lawyer and an honest man." (Laughter.) And the man who read the inscription remarked that the grave did not look like it was big enough for two men. (Laughter). —William J. Bryan, speech in Bridgeport, Conn., Rocky Mountain News, 25 September 1896

Tillman in New York: The Money Fight is Sectional.

. . . Some of you perhaps have formed your opinions about me. I have also formed mine about you. You are the most ignorant and benighted community in the United States. Your newspapers, upon which you alone depend for your news and knowledge of public men and affairs, have studiously kept you hide-bound and narrow by giving you only one side of this question. . . . I am glad to come here and carry the war into Africa, for this is the head center of the devilment. That is why I came to New York, within a mile of Wall Street, where you are surrounded by millionaires, where you belong to them as slaves, and ask you to rise in your majesty and throw off this yoke. —People’s Party Paper, 3 July 1896

Has the East Been Unjust to the West?

The interests of the great west have been subordinate to those of the east. Thus the McKinley tariff, while undoubtedly producing temporary stimulation in the east, operated with an iron hand upon the interests of our western country. —Jeremiah T. O'Sullivan

I cannot see that the west has any reason to complain... Eastern capital developed Western resources. —Godfrey Morse

I state that the west has just cause of complaint against the east... In 1873 silver was by law excluded from its mintage rights, and the effect was certainly contractive at a time when the government indebtedness was large. —Pierre Humbert Jr.

The hostility which the western people feel toward the railroads is greater because they are chiefly owned at the east, and eastern capitalists are responsible for their mismanagement. —John C. Lane, Boston Globe, 20 September 1896

© 2010 Rebecca Edwards, author of New Spirits: Americans in the Gilded Age, 1865-1905 by Rebecca Edwards, Oxford University Press

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Major events of the campaign,
in cartoon and story. (Click date)

  • Feb 27: People’s Advocate: Reading Tillman's Speech
  • Mar 19: People’s Advocate: Pitchfork
  • Apr 4: The Ram’s Horn: Rescued
  • Apr 15: Sound Money: History Repeats Itself
  • Apr 25: The Ram’s Horn: The Stranger at Our Gate
  • May 28: Prohibitionist’s convention, Pittsburgh, PA
  • June 16: Republican convention, St. Louis, MO
  • June 21: Denver New Road: Cleveland's Romance
  • June 28: L.A. Times: Bucking a Wall
  • July 4: Socialist convention, New York, NY
  • July 11: Democratic convention, Chicago, Illinois
  • July 9: Rocky Mountain News: A Soliloquy
  • July 11: Harper’s Weekly: Gold Bugs
  • July 12: L.A. Times: The Old Lady and Her New Wheel
  • July 16: People’s Advocate: McKinley's Evil Sprit
  • July 18: Harper’s Weekly: Altgeld and Bryan
  • July 22: Silver convention, St. Louis, MO
  • July 25: People’s Party convention, St. Louis, MO
  • July 22: Rocky Mountain News: Wall Street's Private Studio
  • July 25: Harper’s Weekly: Farmer McKinley
  • July 25: Judge: The Silver Candle
  • July 27: Chicago Record: Bryan's Tightrope
  • Aug 5: Rocky Mountain News: The Plain English of It
  • Aug 6: Sound Money: Spain and Rothschilds
  • Aug 8: McKinley accepts Republican nomination
  • Aug 9: Denver New Road: Bryan's Romance
  • Aug 12: Bryan accepts Democratic nomination
  • Aug 13: American Non-Conformist: Farmer Hanna
  • Aug 15: Rocky Mountain News: Bryan the Lion
  • Aug 16: L.A. Times: Aesop's Fox
  • Aug 18: Rocky Mountain News: Hanna the Wizard
  • Aug 20: Sound Money: The Cross of Gold
  • Aug 20: L.A. Times: Popocratic Witches
  • Aug 22: The Ram’s Horn: A Double Burden
  • Aug 29: Harper’s Weekly: McKinley the Veteran
  • Aug 29: Labor Advocate: Look at This
  • Aug 30: St. Louis Globe Democrat: Dime Museum
  • Sept 2: National (Gold) Democratic convention, Indianapolis, IN
  • Sept to Nov 1: McKinley front-porch campaign, Canton, OH
  • Sept 3: New York Journal: Li Hung Chang
  • Sept 5: Harper’s Weekly: The Crown of Thorns
  • Sept 5: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Just the Bare Facts
  • Sept 6: L.A. Times: Comrades in Arms
  • Sept 6: St. Paul Pioneer Press: A Bryan Dollar
  • Sept 8: Early election day in Arkansas and Vermont
  • Sept 9: Rocky Mountain News: John Bull
  • Sept 10: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Arkansas and Vermont
  • Sept 11 to Nov 1: Bryan travels 13,000 miles by train, stump-speaking around the nation.
  • Sept 11: St. Paul Pioneer Press: The Divorcee
  • Sept 11: St. Louis Globe Democrat: Uncle Sam Diagnoses
  • Sept 12: Labor Advocate: Their Argument Misses Fire
  • Sept 12: The Ram’s Horn: Building Up His Business
  • Sept 12: Harper’s Weekly: Populist Supreme Court
  • Sept 12: New York Journal: Hanna's Funds
  • Sept 13: Boston Globe: The Silver Dog
  • Sept 13: L.A. Times: Uncle Sam's Circus
  • Sept 14: L.A. Times: Populist Pandora
  • Sept 14: Rocky Mountain News: Playing Upon a Single String
  • Sept 17: Rocky Mountain News: Chinese Immigration
  • Sept 18: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Against Turkey
  • Sept 18: Rocky Mountain News: A Horrible Suspicion
  • Sept 19: Judge: Bryan's Cross
  • Sept 19: Labor Advocate: How They Love The Farmers
  • Sept 19: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Election-Year Friend
  • Sept 20: Boston Globe: Writ of Replevin'
  • Sept 20: L.A. Times: Populist Delilah
  • Sept 20: L’Abeille de Nouvelle Orleans: The Sultan Laughs
  • Sept 20: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: John Bull's Theft
  • Sept 21: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: The Robber And His Victim
  • Sept 24: L.A. Times: Resurrecting Secession
  • Sept 24: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Treachery
  • Sept 25: Daily Inter-Ocean: Democratic Jonah
  • Sept 26: Harper’s Weekly: Silver Bullfight
  • Sept 26: L.A. Times: For Sale
  • Sept 26: National Reflector: Rings On The Hog
  • Sept 26: Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Bicyclist Bryan
  • Sept 29: L.A. Times: Poor Circulation
  • Oct 1: Pioneer Press: Silver Trust Hog
  • Oct 3: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Workingman's Friend
  • Oct 4: Raleigh New and Observer: Hanna and Dixon
  • Oct 6: Election Day in the state of Florida (not all states voted on the first Tuesday in Nov).
  • Oct 6: Chicago Times: X-Ray of Bryan's Brain
  • Oct 6: Pioneer Press: Silver Conversation
  • Oct 6: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Florida's Lifeline
  • Oct 8: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Democratic Florida
  • Oct 8: New York Journal: Confident Hanna
  • Oct 10: Harper’s Weekly: Three Witches
  • Oct 10: The Coming Nation: The Worker's Treadmill
  • Oct 11: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Resurrection
  • Oct 13: New York Journal: Hanna and Workers
  • Oct 13: St. Louis Globe Democrat: Bryan as Jack Cade
  • Oct 13: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: The Gold Balloon
  • Oct 15: Coxey's Sound Money: Uncle Sam Enslaved
  • Oct 15: Rocky Mountain News: Elected McKinley
  • Oct 16: Boston Globe: Bryan the Salesman
  • Oct 17: Coming Nation: Labor Exploitation
  • Oct 20: L.A. Times: Burning Cross of Gold
  • Oct 21: The Coming Nation: Socialism
  • Oct 22: Sound Money: The Old Party Scale
  • Oct 22: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Hanna's Crown of Thorns
  • Oct 24: Harper’s Weekly: Altgeld and Guiteau
  • Oct 25: Daily Inter-Ocean: Bryan's Balloon
  • Oct 25: Omaha World Herald: Getting Women to Register
  • Oct 27: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Hanna, Trusts, and Morgan
  • Oct 28: Puck: A New Civil War
  • Oct 30: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Hanna in Lehigh Valley
  • Oct 31: Republicans announce “Flag Day,” then argue with Democrats and Populists over meaning of the flag
  • Oct 31: Harper’s Weekly: Democratic Wind-Up Toys
  • Oct 31: New York Journal: Buncombe Brigade
  • Oct 31: The Ram’s Horn: Ignorance, Stupidity, and Fraud
  • Nov 2: McKinley wins presidential election
  • Nov 2: L.A. Times: Clown Bryan
  • Nov 4: L’Abeille de Nouvelle Orleans: Knock-Out Punch
  • Nov 4: St. Paul Pioneer Press: Elephant on the Silver Pillow
  • Nov 5: Sound Money: Prediction for 1900
  • Nov 14: Judge: Republican Tam O'Shanter
  • Nov 14: Coming Nation: Our Farmers Situation
  • Dec: Overland Monthly: Uncle Sam Looks Abroad
New Spirits
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