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course Mr. Hanna may have written the sentence loosely and vaguely, in order to emphasize his general idea that the Standard Oil Company was merely one example of desirable organization in business, but why should he suggest to the Attorney-General of the state that part of his own business was being conducted in defiance of state laws, particularly in view of the fact that the assertion would have been untrue?
Much more serious, however, is the suspicion which must attach to the sentence: "There is no greater mistake for a man in or out of public place to make than to assume that he owes any duty to the public or can in any manner advance his own position or interests by attacking the organizations under which experience has taught business can best be done." A fair-minded man cannot read the foregoing sentences carefully without suspecting that the words "he owes any duty to the public or" have been interpolated. With those words omitted the meaning of the whole passage is consistent, whereas the phrase under suspicion adds an irrelevant idea which breaks the force of the rest of the sentence. Mr. Hanna might well have written, "There is no greater mistake for a man in or out of public place to make than to assume that he can in any manner advance his own interests by attacking the organizations," etc., but why, even had he believed it, should he be cynical and incoherent enough to throw in a remark that a public official owes no duty to the public? The supposition is incredible. One can conceive that some such remark could be passed in private among a group of the lowest professional politicians or entirely unscrupulous business men, but for a man in semi-public life, no matter how corrupt personally, to commit such an idea to paper would be to convict him of childish folly. The folly becomes more than inexplicable when it is remembered that the recommendation was addressed to a man with whom Mr. Hanna was slightly acquainted, and who would have good ground to be aggrieved by the letter. A perversion so gross, so palpable and so stupid exposes itself.
Whether or not any other passage in the letter is or is not genuine one does not like to assert with confidence. No doubt the greater part of it is authentic, but the suspicion which attaches to the whole document makes it impossible to accept absolutely any part of it and base a criticism of Mr. Hanna upon it. In general, however, there is this to be said. Much of the letter might have been written by Mr. Hanna in 1890, and, having done so, he might have wanted it destroyed in 1897. Moreover, he might have wanted to destroy it, not merely because it was troublesome, but because he was ashamed of it. A man who was to become United States Senator should not have reproached a state prosecuting attorney for bringing a plausible suit against a possibly illegal corporation, and he should not have intimated that for the attorney's own political welfare he should thereafter have as little as possible to do with such business. But Mr. Hanna had changed a good deal since the fall of 1890. He still believed that the organization of capital was a good thing and should not be discouraged by law. He still had very little curiosity whether as a matter of fact corporations like the Standard Oil Company were conducting their business illegally. He was still too complaisant about accepting money for political purposes from corporations whose legal standing was at best dubious. But he would not have reproached a state prosecuting attorney for attempting to enforce the law, nor would he have intimated that by so doing the man's political future would have been compromised.
THREE YEARS OF TRANSITION
An account of Mark Hanna's career in the Senate of the United States need touch only incidently upon many essential phases of the legislative and political history of his seven years of service. To associate the history of these years too intimately with Mr. Hanna's biography would be to convey a false impression of the scope of his political influence. In respect to certain problems confronting Mr. McKinley's administration, his preferences and opinions were extremely powerful. In respect to other questions, equally if not more important, his influence was negligible. He was not the man to interfere in any business with which his past training and his present position did not make him very competent to deal; and in relation to many of the most pressing questions of public policy, his opinions were no more powerful and his advice no more useful than that of a dozen other Republican Senators.
The first three years of Mr. Hanna's service in the Senate constituted a period of transition in his career. Never before had he occupied an important official position. Never before had he shouldered any personal responsibility for questions of public administration and policy. Hitherto his dominant political interest had been that of contriving the election of his friends and associates to more or less important offices. But suddenly he had become a part of the government—and an important part, by virtue both of his constitutional and his extra-constitutional powers. His extra-constitutional power as the confidential friend and adviser of the President and the chairman of the Republican National Committee was the natural product of his past achievements; and these powers were exercised with vigor and with good judgment. But his official power as Senator did not immediately attain any considerable momentum. It was allowed to grow naturally and from relatively obscure and small beginnings.
There is a certain class of Senators, usually lawyers, who immediately become conspicuous, if not powerful, in the Senate chamber by virtue of a good voice, a habit of fluent public speaking and a large amount of public self-assurance. But Mr. Hanna was still an inexperienced speaker; and he never cared to talk in public, except when he could do so with some authority. Before becoming prominent in the official proceedings of the Senate, he was bound, in obedience to his usual practice, to begin by securing the personal confidence of his colleagues. He must first establish in his new surroundings that group of personal friendships and alliances which always constituted the foundation of his leadership.
Neither could his success in becoming a Senate leader be taken for granted. That body is something of a club with strong domestic prejudices and traditions. Success, no matter how brilliant, obtained outside that body does not guarantee to a newcomer any corresponding consideration from his colleagues. He has to earn their consideration by acceptable behavior on the spot. Mr. Hanna's prominence as the friend of McKinley and as the chairman of the National Committee rather tended to make many of the older Senators suspicious. They would have been quick to resent any assumption of power or any interference with the course of legislation by virtue of Mr. Hanna's relations with the President. Moreover, Mr. Hanna was only a business man; and while many business men had managed to secure seats in the Senate, they had rarely exercised much influence therein. The typical Senator is a lawyer. The debates in that body which arouse the keenest local interest usually involve constitutional questions on which none but a lawyer can speak with authority. Thus Mr. Hanna had many barriers to break down before his leadership outside the Senate could be paralleled by any corresponding influence within that body.
By a curious fatality, moreover, the most pressing problems of the first three years of Mr. McKinley's administration were remote from those questions of domestic politics, with which Mr. Hanna's position, training and experience had made him competent to deal. As we have seen, President McKinley assumed office pledged above all to put an end to a period of economic depression and to restore prosperity. The administration was constituted with the domestic situation chiefly in mind, and a large amount of legislation was planned for the purpose of stimulating industrial activity. But all these plans were embarrassed, if not entirely frustrated, by the insurrection in Cuba. The inability of the Spanish government to suppress the rebellion, the ruthless means adopted to that end and the growing sympathy of a large part of the American people with the insurgents was gradually creating an extremely critical situation. The President and his Cabinet desired and intended to avoid war with Cuba, both because they thought it unnecessary and because they feared that war would prevent them from redeeming the pledge to restore prosperity. Yet by its attitude towards the Spanish policy in Cuba, the administration at the very outset of its career was in danger of being pushed into an unpopular position and of losing the confidence of the country.
The President had called an extra session of Congress for the purpose of restoring prosperity by means of tariff revision, and the war party in Congress used this opportunity to agitate for intervention in Cuba. A few days after the inauguration a joint resolution recognizing the belligerency of the Cuban insurgents was pressed for consideration in the Senate. The debate thereon ran along for a couple of months. Much of this time was occupied in discussing the question whether the recognition of belligerency or independence was an executive or legislative function; but behind the constitutional discussion lay two divergent opinions as to the desirability of forcing a war on Spain. Almost all the Democrats and a minority of the Republicans wanted to bring about war. The recognition either of belligerency or independence was a means to that end. A resolution recognizing the belligerency of the Cuban insurgents passed the Senate on May 20, 1897. Senator Hanna, opposed as he was to war and committed as he was to the support of the President, voted uniformly with the minority. A very small minority it was. Only thirteen Senators voted with him, while forty-one favored the resolution. The resolution itself was never even considered in the House of Representatives.
Not, however, until the following spring was the Cuban situation to become really critical; and the interval gave Congress an opportunity to undertake the legislation which the President