網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

of 1897 followed the precedent and submitted Mr. Hanna's name to the voters of Ohio as the Republican candidate both for Mr. Sherman's unexpired term and for the new term beginning March 4, 1899. No objection was made to this action. On the contrary, the utmost harmony and enthusiasm prevailed. The opposing faction was placated by the renomination of Asa Bushnell for Governor; but Charles L. Kurtz was retired as chairman of the State Committee and one of Mr. Hanna's friends, Mr. George K. Nash, was substituted for him. Mr. Kurtz resented his enforced retirement, and for this and other reasons cherished a lively personal animosity against Mr. Hanna which was later to bear fruit. Mark Hanna, unlike so many other business men, did not attempt to enter the Senate by the back door. His candidacy was submitted to the voters of Ohio just as decisively as if the “Oregon System” of direct partisan primaries had prevailed in that state. He was, of course, nominated without a state-wide primary, but every voter in Ohio, in casting his ballot for a member of the General Assembly, knew or thought he knew or ought to have known whether he was voting for or against Mr. Hanna. The campaign was managed with his customary thorough attention to detail. The issue was deliberately and explicitly raised all over the state. The County Conventions which succeeded or followed the State Convention indorsed his candidacy. In this way the Republicans in eighty-four out of the eighty-eight counties testified to their approval of his election. The Republican nominees for the Legislature were obliged to declare publicly whether they would or would not vote for him. His candidacy dominated the campaign and either overawed or included all other issues. The situation compelled Mr. Hanna to go upon the stump and meet the voters of his native state face to face. He was obliged to risk practically his whole political future upon the impression which his person and his words would make upon the electorate, and he was obliged to risk this attempt without any previous training or experience in public speaking. His skill as a political manager might help to decide the result. His great personal influence with the leading members of his party might rally to his aid the most effective available assistance. Nevertheless he stood before the public practically alone and in a new rôle. Heretofore he had organized the expression of public opinion and exerted his influence upon it indirectly through other men. In his new rôle he must try to shape it directly by the weight of his own words and by the contagious force of his own convictions. He must conquer popular confidence in himself as a man and as a political leader, or else he must be content to become a sort of glorified senatorial “boss” and stage manager, who, no matter how powerful and useful he were behind the scenes, never dared to make a public appearance except as a lay-figure or as a prompter. The development that ensued constituted, perhaps, the most striking single incident in a career full of dramatic surprises. Nothing in Mr. Hanna's previous career had made his friends anticipate that he would make a success or obtain any influence as a public speaker. Mr. James H. Dempsey, indeed, states that many years before he had been surprised at the vigorous, concise and logical argument which Mr. Hanna had made before the old Board of Improvements in Cleveland on behalf of certain requests which had been submitted to the Board by the street railway company; but Mr. Hanna's experience of even this class of speaking had been slight. Such arguments were almost always turned over to counsel. Until the fall of 1897 his appearances as a public speaker had been limited to the few words he had said in response to the ovation tendered to him at the St. Louis Convention, to the little addresses which he had made to his neighbors and friends after his return from St. Louis, and to one speech of less than ten minutes delivered in Chicago during the campaign of 1896. How, then, was a man in his sixtieth year to break through the habits of a lifetime and learn the new trick of talking fluently and convincingly in public? It would not be easy to read or to memorize a carefully prepared speech, but on the stump speeches cannot or should not be prepared. Success on the stump depends far more on a man's ability to adapt himself sympathetically to a particular audience or situation than it does upon careful preparation or even upon his general ability and eloquence as a partisan orator. It was really fortunate for Mr. Hanna that such was the case. The lack of preparation characteristic of good stump speaking was the aspect of it which enabled him to make a success. He was a man who could think out a plan of campaign but not the ramifications of an idea or the best way of expressing it. Mrs. Hanna contributes an account of her husband's one attempt to - prepare himself for his new job. It was President McKinley who first urged upon him the absolute necessity of his appearance on the platform during the fall campaign of 1897. “If I go on the stump,” Mr. Hanna replied, “I’ll never be elected. I can't stand up before a crowd and talk.” Mr. McKinley encouraged him, advised him to think the matter over, lock himself in his library and write at least one speech, which could be changed from time to time to meet the special needs of particular crowds. “When you have written it,” said Mr. McKinley, “fetch it to me, and I will look it over.” The next Sunday Mr. Hanna dutifully disappeared into his library after supper and sat up until midnight, wrestling with the composition of his speech. As he finished the sheets, he put them into a drawer of his desk, and the next morning after breakfast he took them out and read them. Mrs. Hanna says that she will never forget the look of utter disgust that possessed his face during the reading. At the end he tore the sheets to pieces and threw them into the waste paper basket. “That,” he said, pointing to the waste paper basket, “is the weakest and most sickening stuff I have ever read.” Mark Hanna had to do things in his own way. He could not make or write a speech a la McKinley. Thereafter he never prepared a speech or the outline of a speech. When on the stump he never carried with him notes, references, books or information and memoranda of any kind. So far as his intimate friends could judge he never even needed to turn over in his own mind the substance of what he proposed to say. His private secretary, Mr. Elmer Dover, states that he did not know definitely what he would talk about until he got upon his feet. Yet he was always ready for the three or four speeches that might comprise the day's work, and each of them would have its own special propriety and point. The only part of these speeches of which he needed some conscious preliminary control was the very beginning. He usually planned the first sentence or two. The rest of it followed of its own momentum, just as a conversation may take its own course after a subject has once been introduced. When he was in good form, he was able to talk on in this way for an hour or more, without pausing for an idea or scarcely for a word. Naturally he did not acquire such facility immediately or without an introductory period of distress. In the beginning it required on his part a great effort to face an audience. Mrs. Hanna says that on the occasion of his first few political speeches he turned pale with discomforture. In one case his obvious distress was such that she feared he would faint. For a long time he lacked self-confidence on the platform and dreaded when the moment for his appearance arrived. During his first stumping tour in the fall of 1897 he began with little speeches which required not more than fifteen minutes to deliver. By the end of the campaign he could run on for half an hour without effort or loss of energy. The time came when he began to enjoy it and take pride in his success. After a long period of confinement in his office nothing amused or rested him so much as a week on the stump. It was exhilarating without being fatiguing. It benefited him in much the same way that a vacation accompanied by hard outdoor exercise benefited other men. It stirred him up mind and body, and he returned home refreshed and happy. Eventually he came to be a very effective public speaker. His success was caused chiefly by the sympathetic understanding which he had the power of establishing between himself and his audience. He impressed them immediately as a largehearted, genial and sincere man, wholly without pretence and humbug. They felt the attraction and the force of his personality. He talked to them as he might talk to a group of friends, with simple words, in a confidential manner and on occasions with bursts of explosive feeling. He did not need to prepare these speeches, because they consisted, not of ideas which he had derived from others, but of a few deep convictions based exclusively on his own life or the lives of his own people. Everything that he had to say was on the top of his mind. His public speaking was an artless revelation of his own personality and his own experience, which accounts for the ease with which he took it up and its popular success. His audiences were for the most part captivated by the man, and they were easily convinced by a group of ideas, based upon so familiar and typical an experience. Beginning merely as a stump speaker, he finally found it as easy to talk in public about other than political topics. Several of his most successful speeches had nothing to do with politics; but whatever the subject, the substance and the method were always the same. In June, 1903, he had, for instance, been asked to make the principal address at the seventy-fifth anniversary of the foundation of Kenyon College, and he had consented to do so. His promise had, however, escaped his memory, and he went to Gambier on the appointed day merely, as he thought, in the capacity of guest. When he saw his name on the program, he was very much embarrassed; but he rose to the occasion. His speech, which was as usual composed in the face of his audience and under the stimulus of its presence, has been described by those who heard it, for the most part educated and trained men, as adequate and excellent of its kind. Speeches such as those of Mr. Hanna do not read as well as they sound. They had a colloquial rather than a rhetorical value. They were deficient in structure, in sequence and even in the thorough expression of a single idea. They rambled about from one subject to another, with frequent retracing of paths already trod, and with abrupt chasms between one part of the journey and the next. Particularly in the beginning, the wording was sometimes clumsy, and the meaning of particular sentences obscure. The second half of a long sentence would sometimes lose any sense of filial responsibility towards the first half. But with practice Mr. Hanna gradually overcame the most obvious of these faults. He could never make a coherent speech culminating in a climax. When his feelings were very much aroused, his expression of them was forcible and explosive rather than intense and dignified. He was not, that is, an orator any more than he was a statesman; but his style of speaking suited his own audiences and message better than would any outbursts of sustained and impassioned eloquence. His own personality supplied the wire which tied all his paragraphs and sentences together, and which gave consistency if

« 上一頁繼續 »