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What’s The Matter With Missouri?
by [?]

BY WILLIAM MARION REEDY.

The art of politics in Missouri is not more depraved than in most other states, I imagine; but it seems that in Missouri the practitioners of that art are somewhat coarser-grained and smaller-minded than men in the like charlatanry elsewhere. I think I may write of them and their methods in the capacity of critic, without obtruding my prejudices as a gold-bug.

Missouri, like every other Western State, took kindly to the silver theory; indeed, possessing, as one of its chief citizens, Mr. Bland, a champion of silver for thirty years, Missouri was as ready for 16 to 1 as any silver producing State. “Coin’s” book found welcome wide and warm when it appeared among a people who admired Mr. Bland, and who had equally admired “Farmer” Hatch.

But while the people of Missouri were for silver it was only partly in deference to popular opinion that the Democratic party declared for that doctrine.

When Col. Chas. H. Jones became editor of the Republic, coming from Jacksonville, Florida, he was taken up by the then Governor David R. Francis, a grain merchant, or speculator, a very rich man and an aristocrat. The two were fast friends until, Col. Jones having married, the wife of the governor, for reasons sufficient to herself, refused to receive Mrs. Jones. Out of this social episode grew a feud. As the first result of that feud Col. Jones was forced out of the Republic. He went to the New York World. Ad interim, however, he managed to defeat the plan of President Cleveland to name Mr. Francis as a member of his cabinet in 1893. When Col. Jones fell out with Mr. Francis, the editor made an alliance with Mr. Joel Stone, who succeeded Mr. Francis as governor of Missouri.

In course of time Col. Jones was sent West to take charge of the Post-Dispatch. When he arrived in St. Louis he conferred with Governor Stone. Col. Jones wanted to destroy Francis, who had control of the Democratic party machinery. Francis had been “mentioned” for president. He was the brilliant, if chilly, leader of the party. He had wealth and he and his friends could “take care of” the visiting rural committeeman. Col. Jones scented the silver sentiment in the State. That sentiment suggested, naturally, antipathy to wealthy bosses and “grain gamblers.” Col. Jones declared that the way to destroy Francis was by “taking up silver.” And Col. Jones “took it up” with a vengeance. The sentiment had been lurking among the people all the time. For years the party committees warned the speakers to “steer clear of the money question.” Col. Jones in print and Governor Stone on the stump, appealed to the people on the very thing the old rulers of the party had hedged on, and the battle was on.

Mr. Francis evaded the fight. He wanted harmony. He was suave and clammy but non-committal. He did not wish to come out for silver. He did not wish to oppose the silver people. Once or twice he threatened to fight and then he threw up his hands. Missouri declared for silver at 16 to 1, without a dissenting voice in the convention. The State committee was enlarged to render Mr. Francis’ friends innocuous. Col. Jones and Governor Stone voted to support Bland for President at the Chicago convention and the National battle was precipitated. When Missouri declared for silver, with a candidate who represented the silver issue wholly and whose character endeared him especially to the bucolics everywhere, the silver sentiment became a political force to reckon with the stampede that ended with the nomination of Mr. Bryan was started.

So it seems to me that if Mrs. Francis had swallowed her prejudices and received Mrs. Jones there might have been a great deal of different history. Mrs. Jones was the Helen of the Siege of Wall Street. This incident is important only as showing, once again, how trifling things affect the destinies of Nations.