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having been dormant for a number of years, both Benjamin and Joshua Hanna were elected directors. Joshua Hanna was also director of the Columbiana Mutual Insurance Company of New Lisbon, while at a somewhat later date, another brother, Robert Hanna, became president of the association.
These sufficiently petty details are worth mentioning, because they establish the position occupied by Benjamin Hanna and his sons in New Lisbon at the time of Mark Hanna's birth and boyhood. They had become one of the leading families of the town, and local capitalists of unimpeachable standing. Benjamin Hanna himself did not continue to live back of the store. He bought and inhabited still another farm on the edge of the town. Joshua, the eldest son, built for his own occupancy a fine brick house on the brow of the hill overlooking the valley. Leonard Hanna, also, soon after the birth of Mark, moved into a house of his own, situated on High Street, which ran through a different part of the same hill. It was a spacious square building of some dignity, and betrayed a lingering allegiance to Colonial forms. It was crowned by a low pyramidal roof, broken by dormers, and its corners were emphasized by pilasters. On the front was a large entrance porch, which served as a piazza. Robert Hanna, also, had a separate establishment; and capital was supplied to Levi, wherewith to start a brewery — a business which was later abandoned because of the conversion of a large part of the family to the cause of temperance.
A business which was profitable enough to maintain about thirty feet of filial Hanna was obviously something more than a retail store. As a matter of fact, Benjamin and his sons were apparently the leading wholesale and commission merchants in what was then one of the busiest trading towns in eastern Ohio. Just how many of the sons were made partners in the business is not certain. The membership of the firm varied at different times. Accounts, due-bills and notes found among Mark Hanna's papers indicate that Benjamin Hanna, Leonard Hanna and Thomas B. Hanna were partners in business under the firm name of B., L.,& T. Hanna as early as August, 1842, and as late as May, 1849.
They were less interested in politics than were the majority of the successful men of their generation. Only one out of Benjamin Hanna's seven capable and energetic sons had any political ambition. No doubt the fact that they were Quakers, and in particular Hicksite Quakers, had something to do with this peculiarity. The sect had a tendency to keep away from political contentions and responsibilities; and no one of the Hanna family even served in the Legislature or held anything but a town office. They were nevertheless men of definite political convictions. Benjamin and all his sons were Whigs — an allegiance which followed naturally from their mercantile interests. Those who survived until the War became Republicans.
As Quakers they protested vigorously against slavery. After 1800 many Quakers had migrated from Virginia into Ohio, so that they might live in a state untainted by human bondage. In all probability Robert Hanna's final migration had been determined by the wish to escape from the neighborhood of such an institution. These Quakers later became a soil for the growth of anti-slavery feeling in Ohio; and when the underground railroad was started the majority of the stations were situated in their houses. The sympathies of the Hanna family are plainly indicated by the assistance they gave to this dangerous traffic. In the cellar of Joshua Hanna's fine brick house there had been built a secret room, which was used as a place of concealment for fugitive slaves; and presumably the rest of the family knew and approved of its existence.
As was also natural in Hicksite Quakers they had an instinctive sympathy with agitations for moral reform. The period from 1840 until 1855 was one of lively ferment of opinion, in which the preachers of all kinds of reforming creeds found many listeners and many followers. The most vital movement of this kind, abolitionism apart, was that in favor of temperance. The pioneer American' consumed a huge amount of raw spirits, being provoked thereto both by its cheapness and by the thirst
1 "In May, 1832," to quote a local history, "George Graham made application for a license to retail spirituous liquors at the corner of the Public Square and Market Street. The council, being satisfied that he was a person of good moral character, granted a license for one year for the consideration of $10. Before adjournment it was decided that the next meeting of the council be held in George Graham's back room."
inevitably created by his daily consumption of bacon and salt pork. Local distilleries were among the earliest manufacturing enterprises in all pioneer communities. One had been started in New Lisbon soon after the settlement of the town, and its product was sold for only twenty-five cents a gallon. The first attempt to counteract the evils of the large amount of resulting intoxication took the mild form of temperance societies, whose members pledged themselves to confine their drinking to wine and beer.
Sterner methods and measures were, however, needed in order to check the serious evils of gross and general intoxication. In 1847 one of the famous six drunkards of Baltimore, who had been preaching total abstinence all over the country with great success, invaded New Lisbon, and held meetings every night for three weeks. No hall in the town was big enough to contain his audiences. The largest church was crowded, and outside in the street were overflow meetings. They had apparently a profound and lasting effect on the community. The Hannas had always been temperate, but some of them, at least, now became total abstainers. The brewery operated by Levi Hanna was sold, and the two youngest sons of Benjamin were among the charter members of the Total Abstinence Society.
It was, however, Leonard Hanna, Mark Hanna's father, who took the most prominent part of any of the family in the temperance movement of eastern Ohio. He was the only fraction of the forty-two feet who had an inclination towards public speaking or a gift for it. He is described as a fluent and forcible speaker, who possessed preeminently the power of interesting and dominating even an unsympathetic audience. After the visit of the eminent Baltimore drunkard, Dr. Hanna carried on the agitation for many years in the vicinity of New Lisbon. His son, H. Melville Hanna, who was two years younger than Mark, can remember the tenor of a number of his father's temperance addresses. As was natural for a physician, he emphasized rather the physiological than the moral arguments for total abstinence. Habitual whiskey drinkers, he said, were only half as likely to recover from acute ailments; and in the case of severe surgical operations their chances were even smaller.
Leonard Hanna, however, was not merely a lecturer on temperance. He was the only exception in the family to the general abstention from an active interest in politics. The extent of this interest is difficult to establish, but undoubtedly he ranked among the abler and more popular Whig stump speakers in that part of Ohio. He was compared by many to Tom Corwin, who was the leading popular orator among the Whigs. According to the custom of the day, he used to hold joint debates with prominent Democrats, the two verbal contestants travelling together from town to town in the same carriage. His opponent on one occasion was Edwin M. Stanton. On another occasion (according to Kersey Hanna) Dr. Hanna and David Todd held eleven joint discussions in different parts of the Western Reserve — one of them in Cleveland. If this is so, Leonard Hanna must have enjoyed a very considerable reputation as a political orator, for David Todd, afterwards the second of Ohio's war governors, was one of the most conspicuous Democrats in the state and a speaker of recognized ability and force.
Nevertheless Dr. Leonard Hanna was apparently not elected to any public office. His nearest approach to election occurred, according to the statement of his brother Kersey, in 1844, when he ran for Congress as a Whig and cut down the Democratic majority in his district from about 5000 to about 300 votes. A failure of this kind gives a man as much renown as would actual success; and there is every indication that Dr. Hanna stood exceptionally well among his political associates in Ohio. When H. Melville Hanna went to Washington at the beginning of the War to be examined for admission into the navy, he called on Senator Benjamin Wade at his father's request, and was warmly greeted by that rough old anti-slavery warrior. He was glad to do anything he could for Dr. Leonard Hanna's son.
His interest in politics apparently diminished very much towards the end of his life. His son, H. Melville, states that a friend once asked his father, "Why didn't you stay in politics?" "Because," the doctor replied, "I would have to get into the mud," which sounds well, but is hardly sufficient. Doubtless certain aspects of political life were repellent to his Puritan and Quaker training, but probably both his health and his business interests had much to do with his diminishing political activity. Soon after 1847 the family suffered reverses in business, which resulted in its dispersal in 1852. Dr. Hanna was forced to start his business career all over again under novel surroundings; and his new work and its heavier responsibilities could not have left him much leisure for politics.
Nevertheless, it is significant that the only one of Benjamin Hanna's sons who exhibited any active personal interest in politics was Mark Hanna's father; and this interest was apparently merely one expression of a versatile and sympathetic disposition, which was aroused to action by every serious call made upon him by his domestic and social surroundings. In addition to being a business man and a political speaker, he was an energetic temperance reformer, and he always retained a lively interest in his early profession. It was a period in which one man could easily and acceptably play many parts, and in which a man of an essential social and communicative disposition was inevitably driven to play many parts. The better men of that generation tended to spread their personal energy over a very large area.
In the case of Dr. Hanna the business interest was dominant, and the others only subordinate. He was a man who acted from personal rather than impersonal motives, from sympathies and affections rather than from strong purpose. In the absence of any special bent for professional or political life, he merged his own interest with that of the family. By the year 1840 there were not very many men in Ohio, outside of Cincinnati, who were as much like capitalists as Benjamin Hanna and his sons. The careers of the sons were determined by the opportunities which their father was able to offer to them; and in accepting this opportunity Dr. Leonard Hanna was apparently the only one who sacrificed other personal interests of any great importance. He did not travel very far either as a physician, a politician or a business man, but if his efficiency was diminished by his versatility, the same quality served only to increase the attraction of his personality.
H. Melville Hanna tells a story about his father and grandfather which is both touching and amusing, and which may fitly terminate this sketch of Mark Hanna's immediate for