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described in a preceding chapter. According to a letter written by Captain Donaldson to Mr. James B. Morrow, the following is the actual sequence of events leading to Mr. Sherman's resignation.
"In 1897, Mr. Sherman expressed to me his desire to return to the Senate, should the Republicans of the state desire it, and asked me to assist him in ascertaining the drift of sentiment. A few of us sought to organize a committee in his behalf to act centrally at Columbus. Before this was accomplished General Dick, then Secretary of the National Committee, requested me to go to Cleveland, to assist in the work of the National Committee. It was then agreed by Mr. Sherman's friends in Columbus that each of us should pursue the work individually until the committee should be organized, and that I should pursue the work from Cleveland. Immediately on my arrival in Cleveland, I informed both Mr. Hanna and General Dick what I intended doing, and they both cordially assented and agreed to facilitate and did facilitate my work. I wrote a series of letters to friends in every county in the state and sent the replies without comment to Senator Sherman, so that he might be informed at first hand of the real situation in the state. Just at that time a Cabinet appointment began to be discussed, and very many of his tried and true friends urged him to round out his career in the Cabinet. I was doubtful about the wisdom of his abandoning the race for the Senate, but I never ventured a suggestion further than to assure him that I thought he could be reelected. I could see by Mr. Sherman's letters that he was not averse to a Cabinet appointment, and finally on invitation of President McKinley did accept the Premiership without any pressure on Mr. Hanna's part."
The two letters from Senator Sherman to Captain Donaldson read as follows: —
"Jan. 10, 1897. "capt J. C. Donaldson, "My Dear Sir : — "Your interesting letter of the 7th inst. is received and read with attention. I am very glad to read your favorable report of the condition of opinion in Ohio. Still I feel a sense of duty to McKinley and am strongly inclined to accept his offer. The chief impediment in the way is the fear that Governor Bushnell will not appoint Hanna to fill my unexpired term. It seems to me that I ought to be allowed to designate my successor without at all affecting the question of who should be elected Senator for the term commencing March 4, 1899. I will keep you informed of any change of condition if any should occur.
"Very truly yours,
"Feb. 3, 1897. "capt. J. Donaldson, "My Dear Sib : — "Your letter of the 1st with inclosures is received and has been read with attention. It would seem as if Governor Bushnell is doing all he can to make it difficult to reelect him. He ought at once to settle the question of my successor, and any other selection than Hanna would be a great mistake. I will be glad any time to get clippings, indicating the political feeling in Ohio.
"Very truly yours,
The overture made by Senator Sherman to Captain Donaldson in respect to a canvass for his reelection was itself probably prompted by a desire on the part of the Senator to find out whether, in case he refused a Cabinet office, he could keep his seat in the Senate. He had received a written tender of the Secretaryship of State about January 1, and had already practically decided to accept it. On January 15 he went to Canton and made his acceptance definite. He had many good reasons for being very glad of the chance to end his public career as the Premier of a Cabinet. He had been elected in 1892 only by a narrow margin and after a hard and costly fight. He could be reelected only after another similar fight, and he had no longer the strength either to go on the stump or to manage the details of such a campaign. A position at the head of the Cabinet looked by comparison like a dignified and grateful refuge. He was glad to accept it, and he was glad that his vacant place might be filled by Mr. Hanna. If his retirement from the Senate was the result of a conspiracy, whereby he was kicked upstairs for Mr. Hanna's benefit, the victim himself was one of the chief conspirators.
The other charge — that the President-elect appointed an unfit man as his Secretary of State for the purpose of indirectly benefiting Mr. Hanna — is more serious. It has been stated in the following words by Rear Admiral F. E. Chadwick in his history of the "Relations of the United States and Spain." He charges (p. 490, Vol. 1) that "Mr. Sherman's infirm health, soon to become painfully evident, combined with his advanced age, now seventy-four years, made the appointment one to be justly criticised. Mr. Sherman's appointment, even had he been in vigorous health, and equal to the heavy duties of his office, was, in the critical condition of affairs, on account of his previous pronounced antagonistic views to Spanish procedure, a blow to peace. . . . That the appointment was a concession to certain political adjustments in his state of a decidedly personal nature, did not add to its political morality." The accusation is, consequently, that Mr. McKinley deliberately appointed as his Secretary of State a man, who was disqualified for the office both by his record and by physical infirmities, so as to supply Mr. Hanna with a seat in the Senate.
That the appointment of Mr. Sherman was a mistake, there is, of course, no doubt; but the reasons which made it a serious mistake are more obvious long after the event than they were at the time. The appointment commended itself to Mr. McKinley as one that from many points of view was extremely desirable. Mr. Sherman was, in 1897, if not the most eminent living American statesman, at least the statesman with the longest record of useful public service. His name carried more weight than that of any other political leader. He had served in the Senate, not only as chairman of the Committee on Finance, but also as chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations. Mr. McKinley may well have been ignorant of the fact that Mr. Sherman had fulminated vigorously and ignorantly in the Senate about Spanish dominion in Cuba. He had every intention of preserving peace with Spain, and he would not, under any circumstances, have appointed a man Secretary of State who in his opinion would have made the preservation of peace more difficult. He may well have thought that he was calling to his assistance the one American statesman whose experience in relation to the foreign affairs of the country would make his services peculiarly valuable.
A political associate of Mr. McKinley's, whom the President-elect frequently consulted about the effect on public opinion of appointing different men to his Cabinet, clearly recollects a conversation with Mr. McKinley in respect to Senator Sherman's designation as Secretary of State. The consideration which seemed to be uppermost in Mr. McKinley's mind was the prestige which he hoped would accrue to the administration by the bestowal of the premier position in his Cabinet on Mr. Sherman. He had been elected on an issue involving the financial integrity of the country and the prosperity of general business. He wished above all to gain for the administration the confidence of the business interests, and in his opinion Senator Sherman's appointment would contribute effectually to that result. He recognized that Mr. Sherman was failing in health and mental vigor, but he argued that inasmuch as the country knew nothing about it, Mr. Sherman's name would lose none of its value to the administration. He expected to be able by giving Mr. Sherman a competent first assistant Secretary to obtain the benefit of the Senator's prestige and general advice, while at the same time keeping the departmental detail in capable hands.
Such arguments may well have carried much weight with Mr. McKinley. He had never been much interested in the foreign affairs of the United States, and he probably failed to understand the gravity of the approaching crisis. He did not anticipate that within a year the country would be on the verge of war, and he had every intention of preserving peace. His attention being concentrated on the domestic situation, he naturally made his appointments with the object chiefly in mind of meeting the exigencies of the country's political and business condition. He made, consequently, grave mistakes in appointing his Secretaries both of Foreign Affairs and of War, but the mistakes were natural, if not excusable. He would have been the last man in the world to have compromised the success of his administration by naming weak men to the heads of those departments — in case he had realized his subsequent need of unusually capable assistants as Secretaries of Foreign Affairs and of War.
Whether or not the arguments in favor of Mr. Sherman's transfer to the State Department would have prevailed, in case Mr. McKinley had not needed Mr. Hanna's assistance in the Senate and in case Mr. Hanna had not wanted a seat in that body, may well be doubted. But admitting that a Senatorship for Mr. Hanna constituted an important advantage of the arrangement, there was nothing reprehensible about such a redistribution of official positions among Mr. McKinley's supporters and friends. The mistake consisted, not in the arrangement itself, but in failing to understand the paramount importance at that particular juncture of the ablest possible direction of State Department. Furthermore, in estimating the probable influence of Mr. Hanna's desire for a seat in the Senate upon the tender of the Secretaryship of State to Mr. Sherman, it must be remembered that the President was running a grave risk of transferring Mr. Sherman to the State Department, while at the same time making room for an opponent rather than his most efficient friend in the Senate. As Mr. Sherman's letters indicate, they had no assurance that the new Secretary's place could and would be filled by Mark Hanna.
The Governor of Ohio at that time was Asa Bushnell. He had been nominated by the State Convention of 1895, which was controlled by the opposing faction in state politics. He was far from friendly either to the President-elect or to Mr. Hanna. He would have liked to interfere with their plans. As a matter of fact, he hesitated a long time before making the appointment, keeping Mr. Hanna in the meantime in an agony of suspense. Not until February 21, two weeks before Mr. McKinley's inauguration, and five weeks after the announcement of Senator Sherman's appointment, did he write to Mr. Hanna announcing the latter's appointment as Senator, until the Legislature should have an opportunity to act.
"columbus, February 21, 1897. "My Dear Mr. Hanna : —
"When Senator Sherman announced his intention of accepting the portfolio of the State Department in the Cabinet of