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These instances sufficiently indicate that Mr. Hanna's active interest in politics long antedated his connection with the street railway. Neither he nor his wife became even partial owners in the West Side Street Railway until 1876, and not until six years later did he undertake the management of that corporation. His business affairs had nothing to do with his entrance into, politics, and he did not remain in politics in their interest. Quite apart from the evident fact that any benefit which his business could derive from his political connection would only be incidental, no one who understands the sort of a man Mark Hanna was can believe for an instant that his interest in politics could be derived from any source outside of itself.
He could no more help being interested in politics, and in expressing that interest in an eager effort to elect men to office, than he could help being interested in business, his family or his food. His disposition was active, sympathetic and expansive; and it was both uncritical and uncalculating. He accepted from his surroundings the prevailing ideas and modes of action. He went into business because business was the normal career for a good American. The selection of both his dominant and his subordinate business interests was influenced, as we have seen, more by personal motives than by any intention of making a large fortune. In the same way he went into politics, because politics was the other primary activity demanded of him by his local surroundings. Under prevailing conditions it was an inevitable way of asserting himself for a man who had an instinctive disposition towards an expansive all-round life — so far as such a life could be reached in action. He could no more have entered or remained in politics merely from a calculating motive, good or bad, than he could have planned to become a poet.
He went into business partly as a bread-winner and partly because it took business to keep him busy. He went into politics as a citizen. The motive, in so far as it was conscious, was undoubtedly patriotic. That he should wish to serve his country as well as himself and his family was rooted in his make-up. If he proposed to serve his country, a man of his disposition and training could do so only by active work in i
party politics. Patriotism meant to him Republicanism. Good government meant chiefly Republican government. Hence the extreme necessity of getting good Republicans elected, and the absolute identity in his mind and in the minds of most of his generation between public and party service.
Mark Hanna differed from the majority of successful business men of his generation in that he continued to live up to his conviction of the identity between active personal participation in party politics and public service. During the seventies and eighties successful business men were becoming so much absorbed in making money that their participation in politics was ceasing to be active and personal. The work which they formerly did in politics was being more and more taken over by professional politicians. But there was a minority of business men who never consented to any such division of labor. They continued to participate in active political work, and to proclaim by their behavior that business men had no right to shirk or shift their share of personal political responsibility. Among them was Mr. Hanna; and in remaining true to the close association between business and politics, he was loyal to a time-honored and fundamental American tradition. Once more he was proving himself to be the descendant of the pioneer who made no sharp distinction between private and public interest, and who testified to the coincidence between private and public interest by the association in their own lives between business and political activity.
A number of men familiar with the political annals of Cleveland during the seventies corroborate Mr. Myers in the assertion that a part of Mark Hanna's early political activity consisted in fighting the growing political power of the petty "bosses." He used to go to the business men of his ward individually, and try to persuade them that they ought to be more actively interested in local municipal affairs—that they, the taxpayers, and not the ward heelers, should rule the city. Little by little he organized the business men in his neighborhood, and for a while he had the local "bosses" of the West Side more or less under control. In this connection it should be remembered that the first phase of the municipal reform movement all over the country took just this form of an attempt to renew the interest of business men in local politics; and the fact that Mark Hanna himself, like most business men, may have had certain private interests mixed in with his opposition to the local "bosses" must not blind us to the meaning of his early campaign for reform. As a business man and an active politician he was fighting the fact that business and politics were being specialized and divided. He was seeking to escape from the awkward alternative of being obliged either to fight the political mercenaries or to conciliate them.
Now Mark Hanna was not by disposition a reformer. He was a man of action, whose peculiar strength was to consist in his thorough grasp of all the conditions, human as well as material, underlying immediately successful achievement. A reformer, even when he is not essentially a critic and a man of words, is obliged to subordinate action to preliminary agitation. Mark Hanna was not made to fight deeply rooted political abuses. He was not made to follow for long any path which did not lead to a visible and accessible goal. He soon abandoned his fight against the local "bosses," and eventually he came to accept their cooperation as a condition of practical political achievement. But his alliance with the professional politicians never amounted to fusion. Both his methods and purposes remained different. He always continued to be the business man in politics who was keeping alive in his own policy and behavior the traditional association between business and politics, between private and public interest, which was gradually being shattered by the actual and irresistible development of American business and political life.
In order, consequently, to understand Mark Hanna's point of departure in politics we must bear in mind (1) that he was an industrial pioneer, and instinctively took to politics as well as business; (2) that in politics as in business he wanted to accomplish results; (3) that politics meant to him active party service; (4) that successful party service meant the acceptance of prevailing political methods and abuses; and (5) finally that he was bound by the instinctive consistency of his nature to represent in politics, not merely his other dominant interest, but the essential harmony between the interests of business and those of the whole community.
In his first public appearance in national, as well as in local, politics he was inevitably cast for his one great part of a business man. It occurred during the Garfield campaign in 1880, in which he was intensely interested, because the Republican candidate was not only from Ohio, but from the vicinity of Cleveland. He is stated to have originated the idea of a Business Man's Republican Campaign Club, and of organizing out of the business men of Cleveland an effective campaign instrument. Among other services to the cause the club arranged a parade, in which Mark Hanna carried a torch among other patriotic and busy partisans. The idea had a great success. Similar clubs were organized in other cities, and aroused the interest of business men in the election. It is significant that in 1880 business men were first beginning to become conscious of their attachment to the Republican party and that Mark Hanna was associated with the first advertisement of the association.
Another incident connected with the Garfield campaign testifies both to Mr. Hanna's active participation in the work of the campaign and to his readiness to rise to an occasion and assume a risky responsibility. James A. Garfield's nomination had not been cordially greeted by the large faction in the party who had supported in the Convention the candidacy of General Grant, and who remained sulky after its defeat. This very apparent division in the party was a confession of weakness; and in order that the secrets of the confessional might remain obscure to the public, the party managers organized a mass meeting at Warren, Ohio, just to show to the public how united such a party could be. Not only was General Grant himself to attend, but also Roscoe Conkling from New York, Simon Cameron from Pennsylvania, General John A. Logan of Illinois, and other conspicuous Grant Republicans.
According to a prearranged plan the different members of the party were to meet in Cleveland and then be forwarded to Warren by the Erie Railroad. Mark Hanna was put in charge of the transportation of the harmonious Republican orchestra, and on his own initiative and without consulting anybody he decided to make the gathering useful to the party's candidate as well as to the party. He arranged that the train should