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A Notable Congress

A Notable Congress image
Parent Issue
Day
10
Month
March
Year
1899
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

The 55th congress has ' ronuded out its career and become a thiug of ' the past, a matter of history. Whilejio individual "niomber rose toj promiuence in statesmanship, as did Dewey iii the naval service, yefc the congress, when jndged by what it did, must be reeorded ainongst the notable oues of our history. It was elected in a time of great industrial distress aud after one of the most remarkable 'campaigns in ynr history. Nevertheless it, in large meastire, fulfllled the platform pledges of the party which elected it. It did this, however, in reverse order after the manner of the scriptnral precept that "the first shall be last and the Jast first." The financial qtrestion which .was of first importance thronghont the campaign being left to the last and practioally untouched. At the special session it repealed the Wilson tariff asit waspledged to dosubtitutiug therefore the Dingley tariff, carrying the highest protective duties of any tariff in our history. It did not, however.meet its pledge togive the country a tariff lawtwhich vvouldproducesufficient revenue to meet the needs of the govemment. The duties imposed were too near the prohibitive line to ao that, and but for the war taxes subsequently laid, the weakness of the rneaeure as a revenne producer wotüd have long since become painfnlly appareut. The congress kept faith with the people relative to Cuba and the struggle her people were making for lelief from Spanish spoilation and niisgovernment. The temper of congress on this questicn was clearly manifested during ' the special ession by the appropriation of $50,000 for the relief of our citizeus on the ís'.atrá. The regalar session was marked by stil) stronger sentiment and the destruction of the Haine brought the issue to a climax. Acts for the relief of the sufferexs, tor the temporary iucrease of the military establishment and placing $50,000.000 iu the hands of the president for the natioual defense, followed each other iu rapid succession. The independeuce of the people of Cuba was recognized ou April 20, and Spain was directed to withdraw her military forces from the island and on April 25 congress declarad ttaat a state of war existed betweeM Spaiu and the United States. Early iu June congress passed a war tax naeasnre 'which it was thonght wowld raise -$150,000,000 of revenue and authorized ? he president to raise f300,000,000 by a sale of bonds. It' also passed a uatrional bankruptcy act and annexed the Hawaiian Islands:. The most important act of the session which has just closed, theone which willprobably be most f ar reaching in its resnlts, the one which bids fair to work a radic.il ehange of national policy and which ■ebanged in considerable degree the map lif the world and bundled the Dons ont of the western hernisphere, was the ratification of the treaty of peace. In this onnection congress also appropriated 120,000,000 to compénsate Spain for the Philippines in iccordance with the feruas of the treaty. The army reorganization is auother important piece of legislatiou enacted by this congress, although this can be considerad only in the light of a temyorary measnre. It is uot probable, however. that the army wili ever agaiu be reduced to the oíd figure. The Nicaragua Canal bilí failed of enactment. A million dollars were placed -at the disposal of the president, howver, with instrnctions to investígate he whole project and report at the ■next session of congress. Uudonbtedly ■i transisthmian canal will be an nndertaking of the near fntnre. The war focnsed attentiou upon the projoct and made it necessity more apparent than ever before. The oiily other important acts were the one making provisión for the taking of the 12th censas and the -appropriation of $1,000,000 for the Paris cxposition, The 12th census act is thoronghly bad in that it places this great work in the hands of the spoilsmen. We make onrselves ridiculous by committiüff fo Ktupendons au nnderaking, aud oue which depeuds for its valué npon its accuracy alone, to an army of men who may have no siugle jualification for (he work except the iavor of a congressman who desires thereby to pay a poli deal debt. It was tbis sanie principie which rende-red the llth eeusus practically worthless and preven ted its iasue .o long that its statistics, had they been originally correct, were uucieut history wheu they reached the pcople. The congress just closed was extravagant boyond compare. Deductiug the expenses of the war from tho total of $1,566,890,816.28, aud comparing the ordinary appropriatious with thase of the preceeding congress, shows large increases in varions lines. Why did the house pass the .Atkinson bilí so precipitately last Tnesday? What caused the antis to lie down so unresistingly? Did they f car to meet the represen tatives f resh from the people iu the state couveution while every pledge made last f all reraained unfulfilled? Did they tbink they conld thus dispel any possible storra which might be threatening iu the state convention and still depend on the sécate, after the couvention was over to put the measure to sleep? Did they have a tip that the stories receutly sent out frorn Lausing as to Senator McMillau's chauge of heart toward the Michigau Central were trae? Had they discovered and hitherto uuseen rnerits in the Atkinsou bill? Was it a frank acknowledgetnent on their part of a lack.of ability to frame a better taxation measxre? Was it bronght about by a revolt in their ranks cansed by disgust at the long continued trifling Or was it passed in entie good faithr There is no risk to rnn in answering the final question in the negative. Evidence is abundant that there has been and is no intention of meeting platform pledges of last fall relative to the Atkinson bill. It is not thinkable that the influences typified by Sky Olds, which have been at svark to defeat the will of the people as expressed at the polls are not just as strongly and actively against the measure now as they hav3 been from the beginnlug. Will the senate pass it? If it does, it will do so in opposition to the latest prououncement of the party on the subject. Is this likely to be done? The exigencies of the campaign may change present conditions. Otherwi.se the outlook for the Atkinson bill or any similar measure is not bright. President McKinley performed a pie ce of public service the otber day which it is safe to say will be the only one dnring his administratiou to meet the unanimous approval of the American people - the naming of George Dewey for the highest rank in the American navy. The honor goes to him with the congratulatious and blessing of every man, woman and cbild of this great nation, and he is worthy of it all. It is said that Dewey was hurt when, at the begining of the war, he was sent to the Asiatic station, but his patriotism is snch that this supposed exclusión frorn the principal theatre of the war and the probability of winning glory, in no sense cooled his ardor. He was ready to perform his full duty any where with the result that he fought the first and last battle of the war and won higbei rank than anyone else in either branch of the servioe. He is empbaticnlly the right man for the plaoe aud his couutrymen delight to honor him. On Friday ocenrred tho first break from Senator Quay in the Peunsylvania legislature. For two long mouths his friends, andfiome others members who considered themselves bound by caucus action, have stood faitfully by him to the practical exclusión of all other business This steadfastness is worthy of a better cause. In staying by their discredited candidate they have wronged the people of the whole state aud neglected their business. How long will the people, because of conservative habit, and mere opposition to change, continue an antequated inethod of electing senators which has not a single argument iu its favorHow long will they permit the time of the legislature to be wasted and the members corrupted by these coctests and themselves, as a result, misrepres" ented in the senate? Bverybody knows there is a better way. The present inethod is in the interest of the politicians alone. The people should shake off this control and elect the senators themselves.