Cleveland’s second election took place two years after the centennial census had been taken, showing that our nation had grown from about four million to about sixty–three million inhabitants. The voting process was carried on in a different way this time, because most of our states used the Australian system of balloting.
As you perhaps do not know what Australian balloting means, I must try to make it clear to you. Each voter receives a paper, called ballot, at the voting place, or polls. On this paper are printed the names of all the different candidates. The voter then goes into a little closet or booth, where no one can see him, marks and folds his ballot, and brings it out to be put into the ballot box. As no one knows how he has voted unless he chooses to tell, this system has served to check bribery, for politicians know that a man who is dishonorable enough to sell his vote is likely to lie, and they do not care to waste their money.
Cleveland is, so far, the only President whose two terms have not come together; he is the twenty–fourth, as well as the twenty–second, President of the United States.
You have probably heard so much about Columbus that you will not be surprised to learn that after celebrating all the centennials of the Revolutionary War, Americans began to think it would be right to do something grand to keep the fourth centennial of his discovery of America.
After much thought, they decided to have a monster World’s Fair at Chicago; but as the plans were made too late to have it ready for 1892, the real celebration was put off till the next year. Still, in 1892, President Cleveland went to Chicago to dedicate the World’s Fair, and in the spring of 1893 it was thrown open to the public. The newspapers had been telling so much about the coming fair, the vast preparations, and the beautiful buildings, that every one wanted to see them. But no one ever imagined anything half so beautiful as the Great White City really was.
Several million people passed through its gates to view its wonders, and although many had seen fine sights before, all agreed that nothing could compare with the Chicago Exposition.
Not only were there exhibits of all kinds, from all parts of the world, but grounds and buildings were decorated with flowers and statues, and illuminated by electricity, until the place looked like fairyland.
Among the beautiful pictures and statues seen on all sides, were many showing some part of the life of Columbus. Besides, all the visitors were particularly interested by four queer–looking ships anchored in the lake. They had been sent from Norway and from Spain. One was an exact model of an old Viking boat, and the others of the Pinta, Nina, and Santa Maria, the vessels with which Columbus had first crossed the Atlantic.
Here, too, were exhibited many new inventions, and besides the wonderful things made by Edison, people admired the work of Tesla, another genius in electricity. To show Americans how times had changed, the first and last locomotives stood side by side, Indian canoes, gondolas, and naphtha launches flitted about the lakes, and savages from some of the uncivilized parts of the world mixed in the crowd of loyal Americans and courtly foreigners.
In the year of the famous Chicago World’s Fair, more strikes occurred, and in the course of the next year the workmen in some cities grew so unruly that the troops had to be called out. Many people thought that the business panic of 1893 was caused by the monthly coinage of silver; so Congress decided to stop coining that metal.
But this decision did not please everybody, and people took sides on the question. Some were in favor of the unlimited coinage of silver at the ratio of 16 to 1, although sixteen pounds of silver were now worth much less than one pound of gold. They were hence called “silver men,” or “free–coinage” men. But those who did not believe in the unlimited coinage of silver, and insisted that gold was the best kind of money, were called “gold bugs,” or “sound money” men.
Meanwhile, as Cleveland and the Congress thought that the McKinley tariff was partly to blame for the trouble, it was changed in favor of another suggested by Wilson.