What the American South Fought to Prevent
“The triumph of the North in the war, forever dislodging the landed gentry from political power, brought sweeping authority to the tariff-minded industrialists—authority that has since been seriously disputed, and then in purely parliamentary fashion, only by the Western agrarians under William Jennings Bryan, who had mistaken their true class interests when they helped crush the South. From 1865 to 1896 the essentially revolutionary rule of the industrialists was unbroken.
The evolutionary phase in which the dominion of the industrialists regularized itself and shaded off into the rule of finance capitalists began to assume shape in 1896. Marcus Alonzo Hanna, commissar extraordinary of John D. Rockefeller, became the political architect of the new era, whose unique characteristics have been a tremendous drive into foreign markets, unprecedented industrial consolidation, expansion of the mass-production industries to a staggering degree, the unexampled application of technology to production, and the fateful gravitation of the nation’s producing resources as well as its political apparatus into the hands of bank capitalists. But although nascent finance capital made its first bid for dominance with the national emergence of Hanna, not until 1920, with the election of Warren G. Harding to the presidency, did it seize upon undivided suzerainty.
[U]nder Hanna the industrialists and bankers moved in, a consolidated body, and constituted themselves the two political parties…the control was for the first time brazenly admitted and, cynically or sincerely, justified on the pretense that it was in the national interest. Control, it become obvious to the magnates, had to wielded openly, as a prescriptive right of big capital, rather than covertly; otherwise, the rising chorus of protest might develop into an overwhelming mass movement. After Hanna crude bribery by men of wealth was no longer essential to the control of government; first because the men placed in the highest public offices from McKinley through Hoover were all the political creations of the wealthy; and second, because the community of wealth had finally obtained the rich treasure trove it had been ceaselessly seeking in the maze of frauds and trickeries that extended from the Civil War to the end of the century.”
(Politics of Aggrandizement: 1896-1912; America’s 60 Families, Ferdinand Lundberg, Halcyon House, 1939, pp. 51-53)