This powerful book reminds us of the ermous power the nation accords its political leaders and how in the significant period, 1897-1913, these leaders failed to meet their responsibilities. Their inadequacies, the authors feel, delayed the administration of justice for all citizens, neglected the Negro, and seriously impaired the future effectiveness of their own once viable, successful, and justly proud Republican Party. The authors follow the maneuvers of McKinley, Roosevelt, Taft, Senators Aldrich, Platt, Allison, and Spooner, and House Speaker Uncle Joe Cann as they juggled pressing domestic questions, perpetuating themselves in power without really confronting the public need. From the outset, when the party came into power in 1897 under remarkably auspicious circumstances, until it met final defeat at the hands of Woodrow Wilson in 1912, the Republican leaders laid a foundation by default for the Democratic return to power. Their neglect of major national problems afforded the Democrats a golden opportunity to appropriate those issues as their own.
Horace Samuel Merrill is professor of history at the University of Maryland. Marion Galbraith Merrill is a specialist in manuscript research.