Blogs > Liberty and Power > ANTI-IMPERIALISTS, CLASSICAL LIBERALS, AND PROGRESSIVES

Dec 27, 2003 6:43 am


ANTI-IMPERIALISTS, CLASSICAL LIBERALS, AND PROGRESSIVES



Liberty and Power guest blogger, Sam Koritz has mentioned the fine website of Jim Zwick on the history of the Anti-Imperialist League. As Sam notes, many of the anti-imperialists were dedicated classical liberals. He also points out that the turn of the century was a period of transition in which classical liberalism gave way to progressivism.

Tracing this transition has long been one of my research interests. For this reason, along with my wife, Linda Royster Beito, I wrote an article for the Independent Review , on the National Democratic (or Gold Democratic) Party. The party, which ran a ticket to oppose Bryan and McKinley in 1896, included many men who later were stalwarts of the League. Among them were such champions of free trade and the gold standard as Edward Atkinson, Oswald Garrison Villard, Horace White, and Moorfield Storey.

Interestingly, Storey and Villard were also pioneers in the crusade to uphold individual rights for blacks. Storey was the first president of the NAACP while Villard was its treasurer. While Villard later moved away from classical liberalism, Storey held on to most of these beliefs to the end of his life and even opposed federal child labor laws in the 1920s.

The National Democrats garnered less than one percent of the vote in 1896 and did not run a candidate in 1900. One of those votes in 1896 was cast by none other than President Grover Cleveland, who later became a vice president of the Anti-Imperialist League.

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