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CHAPTER XXVI THE CAMPAIGN OF 1903 AND THE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION
A CONTEMPORARY observer of Mr. Hanna's career might well have surmised in the fall of 1901 that the Senator had climbed as high in public estimation as was possible for a man of his economic opinions and political methods. He was the undisputed leader of his party, and he was much more popular throughout the country than ever before; but how could a man as definitely committed as Mr. Hanna was to special business interests and to “machine” politics broaden any farther the basis of his public prestige 7 We have seen how he succeeded in doing so. The increased scope of his legislative interests, his willingness to consider all legislative projects from a responsible national standpoint, his decisive participation in the action of the Senate respecting an interoceanic canal, and finally his work on behalf of a better understanding between capital and labor, – his actions in all these matters had enhanced his stature still further in the eyes of the American people. There was no anticlimax in Mark Hanna's career. His public personality continued until the day of his death to gather size and distinction.
What he had gained was an increasing amount of confidence in him on the part of the public. He had always possessed the trust of the men, no matter of what class, with whom he came into practical association. After he went upon the stump he won the support of the Republican voters of his own state. But from the beginning his close association with “machine” politics and with merely business interests had made a large element in public opinion question his influence on public affairs. Many men who liked what they knew of his personality did not trust his methods or share his ideas. The tour in the Northwest during the campaign of 1900 had done a good deal to diminish this distrust, yet it continued to prevail, not merely among radicals, but among men of reforming tendencies all over the country. Much of it was bound to remain in any event, because it was partly due to divergent views of public policy. But during 1902 he came to be regarded with increasing respect even by his irreconcilable opponents, while at the same time the number of these opponents was substantially diminished. Many more people than formerly tended to accept his political leadership. Confidence in his personal good faith unquestionably attached thousands of the smaller business men of the country to the support of the existing system—the very class which, during the year or two after his death, went over to the cause of reform. He was a great power not merely in public and party business, but in his influence on public opinion. A fair indication of the nature and extent of Mr. Hanna's influence is afforded by the merely external aspects of his life in Washington. The employees of the Senate all agree that no other Senator, when he was at the Capitol, had as many callers as did Mark Hanna; and certainly the office of no other Senator was over-run with so many and such different people. In his anteroom would be found politicians of high degree from all over the Union, an equally large assortment of “big” and little business men, state governors, Congressmen, labor leaders, fellow-Senators and even Cabinet officers. Rarely did Mr. Hanna at this time call on either a colleague in the Senate or a member of the Cabinet. He would usually telephone to the latter's office, say that he wanted to see the secretary and inquire when it would be convenient for him to call. Nine times out of ten the secretary would make an appointment to go and see Mr. Hanna. Towards the end the unusual consideration with which he was treated was partly due to his known physical enfeeblement; but his peculiar prestige in the world of affairs and politics was no less responsible. The one man in Washington on whom he invariably called was, of course, the President. Another superficial fact of some significance is that he never used his committee room as an office. His mail, which at one time amounted to about half as much as all the rest of the Senate, was sent to his private office. When he wanted to receive
callers at the Capitol, he used the room of the Vice-President, which was situated just across the hall from the entrance to the Senate Chamber. The Vice-President, Mr. Hobart, loaned him the use of this room whenever he needed it, and after Mr. Hobart's death, the new presiding officer of the Senate, Mr. Frye, was equally accommodating. This is a trivial fact, but it is an illustration of the privileged position to which he had obtained by virtue of personal ties and his public importance. No man who had succeeded in placing so much private and public credit to his personal account could escape being hailed as a candidate for the Presidency. Nomination and election to the highest office in the land were about the only American political distinction which might have still further enhanced Mr. Hanna's prestige and power. It would, indeed, have been the only fitting culmination to a career which had gathered such unexpected and unprecedented momentum. Had Mr. McKinley and Mr. Hanna both lived until the fall of 1904, the latter's nomination and election would have been extremely probable. Mr. Roosevelt might have been a stiff competitor, but he could hardly have overcome the power of the administration, assisted by that of Mr. Hanna, his friends and followers. Mr. McKinley himself would have been the only man who could have prevented Mr. Hanna's nomination. Mr. Hanna never deliberately intended and planned to make himself President — as he had planned and fought to make Mr. McKinley President and himself Senator. Had he retained his health, as well as his life, he would scarcely have refused a nomination offered to him by a substantial majority of his party; but at no time did he himself begin to contrive his own nomination or encourage his friends to do so. That was not his way, and if it had been his way, he would never have climbed as high as he did. He could not have used his peculiar personal and political advantages for the benefit of his own ambition without injuring the foundations of his power. His associates had confidence in him, because, as his career proved, he was working primarily for what he believed to be the interest of the party or the country. Whenever he felt himself entitled to a particular position, such as Senator, he fought for it; but he never attempted to manufacture a title which did not in a very real sense already exist. There were, however, powerful individuals in the community, who both from friendship and interest, wanted to see Mr. Hanna in the Presidential chair. Immediately after McKinley's election in 1900 the newspapers began to publish articles, naming Mr. Hanna as the “logical” nominee of the Republican party in 1904—as, indeed, at that time he unquestionably was. During the fall of 1901, just before Mr. McKinley's assassination, some followers of Mr. Hanna in Cleveland organized a Mark Hanna Club, and proposed to assemble at a public dinner and launch a Hanna “boom.” They were immediately and effectually suppressed. Mr. Hanna publicly announced that he was not a candidate for the nomination; and at his bidding the Mark Hanna Club, with a glorious outlook towards the future, was dedicated to the memory of a dead statesman of Ohio — James A. Garfield. Even if Mr. Hanna was to be nominated, he obviously could not afford to have the agitation in favor of his candidacy originate so near his own doorstep. The supersession of Mr. McKinley by Mr. Roosevelt completely changed the situation. The new President had been considered as possible nominee—even when he was no more than Vice-President. His promotion made him more than ever a candidate. A President who has served only one term and wants a renomination has a presumption in his favor as a matter both of personal justice and partisan expediency. The one effective way in which his party can approve his administration is to make him its candidate. To refuse him the distinction constitutes the gravest possible criticism of the man and weakens the strength of the party in the prospective campaign. It can be justified only in case the President has done nothing to deserve a nomination, or what he has done has lost him the support of his party. In Mr. Roosevelt's case he frankly wanted a nomination, and he wanted it all the more because he had never been elected to the Presidency. Whether his administration was a success or a failure, he could make a strong bid for the honor, as Chester A. Arthur had done in 1884, by virtue of his control over patronage. Any attempt to nominate Mr. Hanna would, consequently, meet at best with a powerful resistance from the friends of a President who had been popular enough to have the nomination for Vice-President thrust upon him against the will of Mr. Hanna and the administration. The advocates of Mr. Hanna's candidacy could only wait and hope for some mistake or accident which would injure Mr. Roosevelt's prospects. Nothing, however, happened to make the President any less available as a candidate. He made some enemies, but he conquered or attracted more friends. His administration was approved, and he himself was increasingly liked and admired. The advocates of Mr. Hanna's nomination would necessarily have been very much discouraged, had not the corresponding increase in the Senator's personal prestige tempted them to believe that not even the President's power and popularity or Mr. Hanna's own indifference could block the road. Sentiment in favor of their favorite's nomination welled up spontaneously on any and every favorable opportunity. The first occasion on which it obtained noticeable expression was at the meeting of the Ohio State Convention, held in Cleveland late in May, 1902. The Convention itself was not of any great importance. It assembled only for the purpose of nominating some minor state officials. Senator Hanna was present and controlled its action and its official deliberations. The platform contained a cordial indorsement of President Roosevelt's administration — one so cordial that the President wrote to Mr. Hanna and thanked him for it. But the aspect of the Convention which attracted and deserved most attention was the practically unanimous outburst among the delegates of Hanna Presidential sentiment. The feeling never obtained any official expression, but the manifest attitude of the delegates might be fairly construed as a pledge of support for a movement in favor of his nomination. It was so construed by the newspapers all over the country and a great deal of discussion followed as to the respective claims and chances of the President and the Senator. In the meantime the relations between the two were cordial and even intimate. Both of them were loyal to the understanding they had reached on the day of Mr. Roosevelt's succession. The President consulted the Senator about the dis