« 上一頁繼續 »
his deskmate from a thrashing by resisting the teacher in what was by our schoolroom standards an unlawful mode of punishment. This diverted attention from my fellow-culprit, who in the melée went scot-free.” Dr. McCook adds: “Several teachers had charge of the high School during the pupilage of the Senator (and his deskmate, but the one who wielded the greatest and most wholesome influence upon our characters was Reuben McMillan. To him the writer owes more than any other instructor in school or college; and this affection and this gratitude were shared during his school life, at least, by Mr. Hanna.” Before leaving the subject of Mark Hanna's schooling in New Lisbon, attention must be called to an unofficial source of instruction and training which the lad shared with some of his playmates. On Jan. 12, 1850, there was instituted the “Polydelphian Society of New Lisbon,” a debating club, whose constitution and behavior are so well described in a letter written by General Anson G. McCook, then Secretary of the United States Senate to Major W. W. Armstrong of Cleveland in April, 1892, that I reproduce it in part: “With what interest you read [in a book containing the constitution and minutes of the society) of the efforts to provide for every possible contingency to make our debating society a success — the elaborate way in which we provided for the duties of the officers — the limitations we placed upon debate, peremptorily shutting off long-winded orations — the amount of fines to be imposed upon disorderly members, running from “5 to 25 cents’ — the power, as we expressed it in terms that very closely resemble a provision in the Constitution of the United States, to lay and collect taxes for necessary purposes — the express provision that no one shall address the chair except upon his feet and the positive prohibition ‘that no member should be permitted to whistle or eat in the society’; all expressed in quaint and boyish phraseology but with unmistakable clearness and directness. From the record the first question we attempted to debate was “Was the Mexican War justifiable?’ and the minutes gravely state that “after a good deal of arguing, the jury brought in its decision for the negative.’ “It is wonderful, too, with what splendid courage these untrained boys tackled subjects that have puzzled the best intellects of the country; and it is remarkable with what good sense and justice they decided them. In nearly every instance these boys of from 12 to 15 years of age, living in a small town in eastern Ohio, placed themselves squarely upon the side of questions that since then have been maintained by the best minds and consciences of the country. For instance, on the questions, “Should flogging be abolished in the Navy’’ ‘Shall Canada be annexed to the United States?’ and ‘Will the conquest of New Mexico and Upper California resultin moregood thanevil?” the society said ‘Yes.” On the then comparatively new question of “Should women be allowed to vote?’ the boys also said “Yes.” On the question, ‘Have the Negroes more cause for complaint against the Whites than the Indians?” the Polydelphians even at that early day decided wisely in the affirmative; and your friend and townsman, Mark Hanna, took the side of the black man and won his cause. On the question, “Should the United States take any part in the Hungarian struggle for liberty?” the boys stood by our traditional policy, notwithstanding the temptation to be led off by spread eagle oratory. With scarcely an exception the boys placed themselves on the side of justice, humanity, good morals and good government, and that speaks pretty well, it seems to me, for the atmosphere and influences which surrounded these boys.” Although one of the younger members, Mark Hanna was active and prominent in the Polydelphian Society. In his “Threnody” on the Senator, Dr. Henry C. McCook reproduces a copy of the minutes for one of the meetings at which Mark acted as secretary. On this occasion the portentous subject was discussed, “Which does the most good to a republican government, Virtue or Intelligence?” The secretary states that the question was decided in favor of the “negitive”; but whether the “negitive” is equivalent to Virtue or Intelligence the scribe fails to record. Mark was one of the jury. His handwriting at that time (he was just thirteen) was awkward and unformed, his spelling was far from impeccable, and his power of composition probably inferior to that of an average well-trained boy of the same age to-day. But his handwriting shows the general characteristics of his later penmanship.