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Lewis and Hearst were aiming at precisely this result — with the expectation of profiting more from the notoriety and the appearance of persecution than they would lose in damages. So he decided to disregard the attacks, libellous as they probably were, and he continued to do so until the end. But he was very much wounded by them and suffered severely from the vindictive and grotesque misrepresentation. Like all men whose disposition was buoyant and expansive, and whose interests were active and external, he was dependent upon the approval of his associates. As the scope of his political activity increased, the approbation which he wanted and needed had to come from a widely extended public opinion. Hence, while he was by no means a thin-skinned man, and was accustomed to stand up under the blows received in the rough and tumble of political fighting, he could not but wince under a personal distortion which was at once so gross and brutal, and yet so insidious and so impossible to combat. He had been brought up in the midst of the good-fellowship characteristic of the Middle West of the last generation. He was used to a social atmosphere of mutual confidence and a general and somewhat promiscuous companionship. He was accustomed to deal fairly with other men and to be dealt fairly with by them; and this concentration upon his own person of a class hatred and suspicion wounded and staggered him, until he became accustomed to it, and was better able to estimate its real effect upon public opinion.
The practice of attaching to a few conspicuous individuals a sort of criminal responsibility for widely diffused political and economic abuses and evils has, of course, persisted; and in so large a country as the United States it has necessarily been performed by newspapers and magazines. The people who have participated in this pleasant and profitable business are recommended to ponder the following sentence from Aristotle's "Politics," which is as true of the American Democracy as it was of that of Greece. "The gravest dangers to democracy," says Aristotle, usually occur "from the intemperate conduct of the demagogs, who force the propertied classes to combine by instituting malicious prosecutions against individuals or by inciting the masses against them as a body."
Whatever one may think about the rights and wrongs of the campaign fund of 1896, it must be admitted that it served its purpose. If the campaign of instruction had not been organized on the scale undertaken by the National Committee, the election of Mr. McKinley might never have taken place. The Committee itself had for a long time no confidence in the success of its labors. Not until early in October did they begin to feel that the tide had been turned. The decisiveness of the result must not deceive any one into the belief that it was inevitable. The momentum and enthusiasm attained toward the middle of October by the campaign on behalf of Mr. McKinley's election was the result of the vigorous, exhaustive and systematic work performed by the National Committee during the two previous months.
Mr. Hanna had a method of conducting a political campaign, not unlike that of a coach in training a foot-ball team. His attempt was gradually to wind up public opinion until it was charged with energy and confidence. The different moves in the campaign were planned in advance. All the general preparations were completed by a certain date. There followed some particularly vigorous special onslaughts on particular states; and when this work was satisfactorily accomplished, preparations were made to hold the ground while the hard work was concentrated on other less doubtful states. The execution of this general plan was carried out with the utmost care and vigor. The whole organization was inspired by the energy and confidence of its chief. Gradually a contagious enthusiasm and Han was communicated to the entire body. The different lines of work converged towards the end of the campaign. Their effect was cumulative, and their ultimate goal a condition of complete readiness on the Saturday night before election.
In the year 1896 Mr. Hanna was conducting his first National Campaign, and he was, perhaps, over-eager. At all events he pushed his preparations somewhat too hard. He was ready for the election a week before election day, and he feared that he could not hold his ground. He was afraid, that is, of overtraining; and the last week was a period for him of intense uneasiness. And he might well be uneasy, because the country had been worked up to a condition of high excitement. By skilful management and a good cause the hurrah for Bryan had been converted into a hurrah for McKinley. Enthusiasm could not be maintained at such a pitch, and if it began to subside, the recession might attain a dangerous volume. His fears proved to be unnecessary. The electorate had not only been worked up to a high state of enthusiasm, but they had been convinced. The victory on election day realized Mr. Hanna's highest hopes and expectations. No President since U. S. Grant entered office supported by so large a proportion of the American people as did William McKinley.
SENATOR BY APPOINTMENT
The pleasantest days in the lives of American political leaders are those which succeed some decisive victory at the polls. Public opinion takes off its hat and bows to success. It likes to crown a victor with laurels and strew his path with roses. For the time being the press and the public are far more interested in good-naturedly hailing the conqueror than they are in calling up memories of past conflicts or in anticipating future troubles. The months succeeding Mr. McKinley's election were no exception to this rule. The business of the country had been relieved of an oppressive nightmare and a really dangerous threat, and public opinion had nothing but kind wishes for the men who had accomplished its deliverance. Mark Hanna shared with Mr. McKinley this warm bath of popular approval and interest. The whole country began to recognize how unprecedented it was that a citizen occupying no official position and without any personal hold on public opinion should have been able to contribute substantially to the nomination and election of a President.
The way in which Mr. Hanna was regarded at this moment by an able and sympathetic fellow-Republican is very well expressed in the following extract from a letter written by Mr. John Hay to a friend in Paris. "What a glorious record Mark Hanna has made this year! I never knew him intimately until we went into this fight together, but my esteem and admiration for him have grown every hour. He is a born general in politics, perfectly square, honest and courageous, with a coup d'oeil for the battle-field and a knowledge of the enemy's weak points which is very remarkable. I do not know whether he will take a share in the government, but I hope he will." Many other people besides Mr. Hay were wondering what would be the future of this man, who could decide to make a President and see his will prevail. The expectation was that he would enter the new Cabinet, and as a Cabinet officer would continue to act as his friend's political adviser and manager. It was the obvious way of recognizing his past services and securing them for the future.
So, at all events, thought the new President himself. On Nov. 12, just a week after his election was assured, he wrote to Mr. Hanna: —
"my Dear Mr. Hanna: —
"We are through with the election, and before turning to the future I want to express to you my great debt of gratitude for your generous life-long and devoted services to me. Was there ever such unselfish devotion before? Your unfaltering and increasing friendship through more than twenty years has been to me an encouragement and a source of strength which I am sure you have never realized, but which I have constantly felt and for which I thank you from the bottom of my heart. The recollection of all those years of uninterrupted loyalty and affection, of mutual confidences and growing regard fill me with emotions too deep for pen to portray. I want you to know, but I cannot find the right words to tell you, how much I appreciate your friendship and faith. God bless and prosper you and yours is my constant prayer.
"Now to the future. I turn to you irresistibly. I want you as one of my chief associates in the conduct of the government. From what you have so frequently and generously said to me in the past, I know that you prefer not to accept any such position, but still I feel that you ought to consider it a patriotic duty to accept one of the Cabinet offices, which I want to fill with men of the highest character and qualifications. I want you to take this tender under the most serious consideration and to permit no previous expressed convictions to deter you from the performance of a great public duty.
"May I not expect to see you here very soon? Please give to Mrs. Hanna and the family the sincere personal regards of Mrs. McKinley and myself.