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Source: American Monthly Review of Reviews
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “The Strength of Our Free Government”
Author(s): anonymous
Date of publication: October 1901
Volume number: 24
Issue number: 4
Pagination: 388

“The Strength of Our Free Government.” American Monthly Review of Reviews Oct. 1901 v24n4: p. 388.
full text
presidential elections; McKinley-Bryan presidential race (1900); voting.
Named persons
William Jennings Bryan; William McKinley; Theodore Roosevelt.


The Strength of Our Free Government

The American people as a whole are devoted to the Constitution of the United States, which provides for a government at the head of which shall be a President, elected for four years. They came forward, with entire acceptance of the system, to decide, upon the majority principle, between the candidates of last year. Mr. McKinley and Mr. Bryan, let it be remembered, were not the only candidates. There were several others, representing socialistic and extreme radical groups, whose views might to some extent have been thought to approach certain of the views held by at least one branch of the anarchists. But practically nobody in the country cared for the opinions or candidates of these peculiar groups. Nearly all the voters were either for McKinley or for Bryan. Those who voted for Bryan were equally in favor of the principle of majority rule; and, accordingly, when it was clear that the majority had chosen McKinley, all the Bryan men were by that token perfectly loyal in the acceptance of the result, and they became as faithful to McKinley in the sense of upholding him in the position of President of the United States as if they had cast their votes for him. Thus, Mr. McKinley was not merely the selection of a little more than half of the people of the United States, but he became the selection of the entire country in deference to the majority principle,—because, otherwise, no such thing as government, peace, or social order could even be conceivable under conditions existing in our epoch. The opponents of Mr. McKinley, under our system, had a perfect right to use all customary methods of political campaigning to secure the election of their favorite, Mr. Bryan; and after his election, while sustaining him absolutely in his lawful place as President, all citizens opposed to his party or to his policy had a perfect right to criticise sharply both his methods and his public acts. We say this because there seems to exist in some minds a confusion between the excessive and intemperate kind of political criticism and the totally different position of the anarchists. In this country the test is not loyalty to a man, but loyalty to our institutions themselves; and the country met that test completely in its temper and behavior when Mr. Roosevelt took up the work of his stricken predecessor.



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