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Politicking and Emergent MediaUS Presidential Elections of the 1890s$
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Charles Musser

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520292727

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520292727.001.0001

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Cinema, McKinley at Home, and the 1896 Election

Cinema, McKinley at Home, and the 1896 Election

(p.80) Chapter 3 Cinema, McKinley at Home, and the 1896 Election
Politicking and Emergent Media

Charles Musser

University of California Press

The 1896 elections, coming after a long period of economic distress, produced a political realignment and mobilized various new media forms for politicking purposes. Many traditionally Democratic newspapers rejected William Jennings Bryan’s Populism and switched their loyalties to Republican candidate William McKinley, giving William Randolph Hearst an opening to become a champion of Democracy. The Republican candidate’s brother, Abner McKinley, invested in the American Mutoscope Company and the Republican National Committee sponsored its official theatrical debut as its biograph projector screened McKinley at Home. The rival Edison Manufacturing Company offered a train scene featuring Bryan. The Republicans embraced technological novelties such as the phonograph, the telephone and the bicycle--implying that innovation would help to solve the economic crisis.

Keywords:   American Mutoscope Company, biograph, Abner McKinley, Edison, William Randolph Hearst

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