Tom Watson, Agrarian Rebel

By C. Vann Woodward | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIX
From Populism to Muckraking

TO ALL WHO HAD EYES to see it was plain that plans for a counter-revolution within the Democratic party were under way for 1904. Weakened by two successive defeats, the leadership of Bryan was open to challenge. The party of Bryan and Tillman, of West and South, of agrarianism and Main Street was likely to become once more the party of capitalism and Wall Street, of Eastern Big Business and Tammany. In their effort to overthrow Bryanism and make Democracy "as respectable as Republicanism," if not a little more so, David B. Hill and August Belmont united in putting forward Grover Cleveland as "a dignified stalking-horse" while they manipulated the nomination of Judge Alton B. Parker. William Randolph Hearst was easily the most serious contender for the nomination in opposition to the conservative combination.1

"Were I in politics," Watson began a statement in March, 1904, tentatively subjunctive in mood, "were I in politics, I should heartily approve and support the candidacy of William R. Hearst." Furthermore, Watson thought Cleveland "the most distasteful candidate who could be offered to the South." He admired Roosevelt "the man" very much, but Roosevelt "the politician" stood for those things he most abhorred "imperialism, extravagance, class legislation, militarism, Hamiltonism, of the rankest sort."2

____________________
1
Allan Nevins, Grover Cleveland, pp. 754-755; P. Hibben, The Peerless Leader: William Jennings Bryan, pp. 245-249.
2
Atlanta News, March 7, 1904.

-355-

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