A Business Slow-Down Nation-Wide [excerpt]
THE struggle in New England was only a provincial
phase of a larger condition. The same problem was the national problem.
For the nation the commercial competitor was foreign. William McKinley,
in his antemortem speech in 1901, had declared that continued prosperity
for the Republic required outlets abroad for manufactures. Prophet
of high tariffs for development of the “home market,” intimate personal
and political associate of thick-and-thin protectionists, Mr. McKinley
came to recognize that the United States had crossed the line into
the class of nations which produce more manufactures than they can
consume. Protection, he believed, had had its perfect work. “The
era of exclusiveness,” he said, “is past.” He pointed the way across
the seas. America must buy abroad if her foreign customers were
to be put in position to take her products; imports must be freer.
Judging by the past, any obstruction
to this program would come from Mr. McKinley’s former associates
and disciples of the protection camp not yet converted to his new
policy. Since the Civil War 
down to 1901 industrial and mercantile interests had sat at the
head of the council board. Indeed, protectionists were active in
blocking, after he was gone, the new plan proposed at Buffalo by
the doomed President, their former leader. Obstruction, however,
was by no means confined to business men who disagreed with McKinley.
Predictions based upon past contests left out of account an entirely
new condition. Controversy had thitherto waged between schools of
business thought. The champions now were ethical leaders against
business leaders. Czolgosz struck down not only McKinley, but the
intense solicitude for material prosperity which McKinley represented.
Moral and altruistic issues, long in the seed, had come to fruit.
The air was filled no longer with demands that the transportation
and business interests, sitting at the head of the table, should
cause the government to adopt this or that policy affecting business.
What people insisted upon was that these interests should not sit
at the head or at the table at all.