Carl A. Grinde: “belong to the insurgent wing of the republican party” (1910)

While researching information about the Cherry Rock Bridge earlier in the week, I ran across an item about Carl Grinde from South Dakota that sent me off in search of ‘who were the insurgent Republicans’? It is always interesting to see how political ideology becomes a shape-shifter. The item that caught my attention:

Carl A. Grinde of Colton, at one time county auditor, was a county seat visitor. Mr. Grinde made an official announcement of his intentions of becoming a candidate for the republican nomination for county treasurer. Mr. Grinde belong [sic] to the insurgent wing of the republican party. It was rumored several days ago, about the time of the last insurgent conference that Mr. Grinde would come out as a candidate in the near future.

Argus-Leader (Sioux Falls, South Dakota), May 3, 1910, p. 3.

One has to go back in time…all the way back to 1896, in order to discover the beginnings of the ‘silver insurgent republicans.’

“young Senator Cannon of Utah”
By Unknown author – Internet Archive identifier, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17470749

The earliest mention I found of insurgent republicans was the Evening Star (Washington DC), June 18, 1896, p. 11. The “Declaration of the Silver Men” requested permission to read the declaration of the ‘silver delegates”, which was approved.

Curiosity to hear the manifesto of the insurgent silver republicans stills the audience into attentive listening, and Cannon’s voice rings through the hall. He grows dramatic as he proceeds, and stirs the silver sympathizers into an uproar of applause for the bold sentiments uttered by the silver leaders on their defiance to their gold standard brethren.

The issue arose when Republicans in the mid-west increasingly were able to include silver proposals in Congress. The silver market of the Rocky Mountain states would benefit from “a larger federal market” whereas the conservative Republicans favored the gold standard that had long been the driving force in currency issues. The ‘silverites’ were considered the progressives in the party–thus, the term insurgents. They were a potent force for a while, and successful in forming coalitions with Democrats to defeat “the organization Republicans for the first time in 35 years” in Connecticut (The Centralia Enterprise and Tribune, June 26, 1897, p. 16). Their opposition to conservative Republicans continued to grow, and in 1910, Carl A. Grinde ran for office as an insurgent republican. It is fascinating to me that progressive ideas were considered insurgent, because that is not generally how we perceive the term now–we are more likely to perceive it as radical. The term defined members who “acts contrary to the policies and decisions of one’s own political party” (noun) and “rising in opposition to civil authority or established leadership” (adjective) (Merriam-Webster.com/dictionary/insurgent).

By Cartoonist for Brooklyn “Eagle” – Originally printed in the Brooklyn “Eagle”, 1901, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8525198

The other major split was on the issue of high tariffs, on which the conservatives (keep tariffs on goods imported high) and progressives (revise economic policy to decrease monopoly and taxes on poor) further increased the divide among the Republicans, and ushered in a victory for the Democrats in 1912. The Republicans resumed power throughout the 1920s through a pro-business policy, until the crash of 1929 and the Great Depression.

1896 Republican campaign posters
By L. E. Foster – Political cartoon, originally published in The Wasp on August 22, 1896 (https://archive.org/details/wasp189635unse/page/n655/mode/1up and https://archive.org/details/wasp189635unse/page/n656/mode/1up), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1808092

One thing about it, you can always count on all sides of the question to present the opposition in the most damaging terms possible. True in 1896, in 1910, in 1930… and ad infinitum from 2022 forward. It is why we need to investigate all sides of an issue and make informed decisions. When I was a child, the common saying was:

“Believe nothing you hear and only half of what you see.”

Especially if “they” said it.

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9 Responses to Carl A. Grinde: “belong to the insurgent wing of the republican party” (1910)

  1. I loved your comment about presenting the opposition in the most damaging light possible. We’ve always done it, and I’m sure we always will.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Betty says:

    Interesting. Besides the practice of presenting the opposition in the most damaging light, I also see the theme of a divided party losing to the other. Another timeless feature of politics. Oh how working for the good of the people gets so muddied and lost.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My dad used to use that saying “Believe nothing you hear and only half of what you see.” It never grows old!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. peggy says:

    Politics is something I seldom read about or listen to on the news. I do know the two parties in this nation have always fought with each other and it will never change. Both parties have good and bad traits. Their bickering never seems to help this country accomplish anything.

    Like

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