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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 coöperation 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 return from Warren by way of Mentor, where General Garfield lived, and where he was continually receiving his loyal party associates. What followed is described by Mr. James H. Kennedy, who was reporting the whole affair for the Cleveland Herald. After the meeting was over, the harmonious guests were being entertained at luncheon by Senator Harry B. Perkins in his house at Warren. Mr. Hanna called at the house and was shown into the dining room. “General,” said he, addressing Grant, “it has been arranged that we return to Cleveland by way of Mentor, and if you propose to stop and see General Garfield, we shall have to start in a very short time.” He made this announcement in public so as to bring the question straight to the attention of Grant. Conkling did not want to go to Mentor, and when he did not want to do anything he had a way of emphatically looking the part. His brow was like a thunder cloud. Grant saw the danger and did not dodge the issue. “We will go to Mentor,” he said to Mr. Hanna, and Conkling sullenly acquiesced. Accordingly the train was stopped at General Garfield's town, and the distinguished Republicans paid their respects to the standard-bearer, whereby the country was given a still more striking proof of the wilful harmony which prevailed in the Republican party. Mark Hanna's interest in the campaign was, of course, increased by the fact that in May, 1880, he had bought the Cleveland Herald. Thus he provided himself with a costly mirror in which his ardent Republicanism was reflected. And in those days Republicanism was very ardent and very innocent — particularly when the Republican candidate lived in one's native state, not far from one's home town. On the day following Garfield's election the Herald printed in great pica type, as an appropriate leading editorial upon that glorious event, a whole psalm of praise and thanks to the Lord: “The Lord openeth the eyes of the blind | The Lord loveth the righteous !” During the years immediately following the election of General Garfield the range of Mark Hanna's political interests gradually broadened. He became a local political leader of importance, and evidently had some influence upon the party nominations for city and county offices. He had ceased to fight the machine and had become one of its allies and supporters. It was the period of his ownership of the Herald and of his management of the West Side Street Railway; and both of these interests helped to involve him more and more in politics. In the spring of 1883 George W. Gardner was nominated for mayor by the Republicans. The Leader charged Mr. Hanna with responsibility for the nomination, which was considered undesirable for no other reason, apparently, than the candidate's association with the owner of the Herald; and Mr. Gardner's election was consequently fought with bitterness, and finally with success, by Mr. Cowles. It was one among a long series of factional fights among Cleveland Republicans, the result of which frequently cut entirely away the small Republican majority in the city. During these years, also, Mark Hanna was assuming for the first time a certain importance in state politics. His services during the Garfield campaign and his liberal contributions to campaign funds designated him for recognition at the hands of the party. Mr. George W. Gardner states that he suggested Mr. Hanna's name to the state committee as a member of the important subcommittee on finance. Mr. Hanna was named at the same time as Charles Foster, with whom he was closely and cordially associated in politics. Mr. Gardner adds that Mr. Hanna at first objected strongly to giving as much time to state politics as the position demanded, but finally allowed himself to be persuaded. He served with success, because his standing as a business man made him a good collector of campaign funds. Thereafter he remained in more or less constant association with the state committee. The range of his political activity increased, however, very slowly, and so did his importance as a local political leader. His status in politics was merely that of a man who was giving most of his time to business, but who could be called upon for certain services to his party. He did not offer himself for public office, and apparently he had no political ambition — except his usual ambition of becoming a leader among the men associated with him in any undertaking. This period of his interest in politics may be compared to the part of his business career which antedated his entrance into the firm of Rhodes & Co. It was the experimental period, during which he had not come to realize either what he wanted in politics or what were the ways and means of attaining success in this less familiar region. His peculiar success in business had been due largely to the formation of a group of loyal and permanent human relationships. His subsequent success in politics was to be due largely to the creation of similar ties; and the time had not yet come when the really helpful and permanent ties could be formed. In the meanwhile the enmities which he had already made in politics were perhaps even more conspicuous than the friendships. His lack of diplomacy, his indifference to popularity and his plain-dealing had more serious results in politics than they had in business. His fights with the petty “bosses,” and his aggressive methods and ways had raised in his path a number of aggrieved men, who, like Mr. Cowles, were eager to oppose any candidate or measure which he advocated, and who were already describing him as a “boss” unscrupulously grasping after money and power. These personal enemies in his own bailiwick were a source of embarrassment to him throughout the whole of his political career. His political enemies were more than outweighed by his political friends, but the political friendships of these early years were, with one or two exceptions, not his permanent political friends. He had still to make a number of mistakes and failures before he knew what he could do in politics, and with whom he wanted to coöperate.