The Land of the Dollar

Source: G.W. Steevens, The Land of the Dollar (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company), p. 289

Text: The anxious crowd outside surged denser and more terrible in its ungovernable weight. Thousands stood craning their necks to the walls of the huge buildings before them, faintly outlined against the deep sky. Search-lights spun round the horizon, lighting up signal-kites floating aloft. On the screens appeared scenes shown by the cinematographe, which were received with alternate delight and derision. When the first returns were shown the crowd lost mastery of itself. The City Hall Park is cut up by public buildings, with parallelograms and triangles of grass. The crowd broke against the wire fences, swept them down, and surged over the sacred enclosures. It could not help it. The laws of space and force were the only things that had not taken a night off for the election.

Comment: George Warrington Steevens (1869-1900) was a British journalist, and The Land of the Dollar is his account of an assignment in America in the late 1890s. The scene he is describing is crowds waiting in New York for the results from the 1896 presidential election, won by the Republican William McKinley.

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