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"When I was about to pay the bills, Hahn said you had assumed some or had provided means for the payment of certain expenses. It is not right that you should bear this burden, and I hope you will frankly state to me what amount you have expended and what obligations you have incurred, so that I may at least share it with you. I have so written to Hahn. It is a source of great satisfaction to me that our canvass was made without the expenditure of a single dollar for boodle, with no bitterness to our adversaries, and with no appeals for our candidate to the interested cupidity or ambition of the Senators and members.
"Please give my kindly greetings to your wife and tell her for me that she is lucky to have so good a husband, the soul of honor.
"Very sincerely yours,
The foregoing letter speaks for itself, and calls for only one comment. In spite of Senator Sherman's professions of gratitude he never mentions Mr. Hanna's name in the lengthy account of his final election to the Senate, which appears in his "Reminiscences." Indeed, Mr. Hanna's name never appears in the entire book. The volume was published in 1895 and 1896, so that Mr. Sherman's later grievance against Mr. Hanna, if grievance it was, could have had nothing to do with the omission.
THE MAKING OF A PRESIDENT
The victory in Ohio in the fall of 1891 was the first substantial triumph of Mark Hanna's political career. Theretofore the candidates in whose election he was most interested had usually been beaten; and these frequent failures must have been trying to a man who was accustomed to succeed, and whose cherished political purposes were all related to the election to office of certain friends and associates. The victories of McKinley and Sherman must, consequently, have been all the more gratifying. The first constituted an important step towards the realization of Mr. Hanna's dearest ambition. The second was a blow to the prestige of his irreconcilable opponent, and made it easier to keep control of the state organization in McKinley's interest. Thus the elections of 1891 had done much to repair the damage caused by the disaster of the previous fall. Mr. McKinley's prestige would be considerably enhanced by his selection during a year of Republican defeat to an office from which one Republican had already graduated to the presidency. McKinley had become personally more than ever a presidential possibility.
The question immediately to be considered was whether anything could or should be done to push the candidacy at the coming National Convention. The situation was difficult and complicated. The most prominent candidate for the nomination was, of course, President Benjamin Harrison. It is always a dangerous matter to oppose the renomination of a President who has done nothing to disqualify himself for a second term. A strong anti-administration sentiment is necessary to overcome the initial advantage which a President can derive from the prestige and patronage of his office; and an opponent is further handicapped because his candidacy must be based partly on a criticism of a President derived from his. own party. Whenever a fight is made, it tends to become bitter and threatens a dangerous schism within the ranks of the Faithful.
Strong, however, as was the position of the President, it presented certain weaknesses, which the friends of an alternative candidate could scarcely ignore. Mr. Harrison was personally unpopular. He had made many enemies in the party, who would have been glad to see him defeated. On the surface his nomination was not by any means assured. A majority of the delegates were not pledged to vote for him. The disaffected elements in the party might be able to hold up the nomination and concentrate upon some other candidate. Among the disaffected Republicans was Mr. Hanna. He had not been well treated by Mr. Harrison and would in any event have been opposed to the President's renomination. In September, 1891, an attempt had been made to disarm his opposition. His friend, Charles Foster, who was Secretary of the Treasury, prevailed upon the President to offer to Mr. Hanna the office of Treasurer of the National Committee. It was a position which he was well qualified to fill, and which under ordinary circumstances he would have been likely to accept. But its acceptance would have tied him to the administration, and he declined. He wished to remain free to take any advantage of President Harrison's lack of strength which the situation, as it developed, permitted.
Under the circumstances the plan was adopted of keeping the McKinley candidacy above the surface but in the background. No attempt was made to secure the election of delegates pledged to McKinley. Mr. McKinley himself assumed the correct attitude of being overtly favorable to Harrison's renomination. But preparations were made to bring McKinley forward, in case Mr. Harrison's renomination proved to be difficult. Mr. Hanna's hope was that enough delegates would be kept away from the President by a revival of the Blaine candidacy to tie up the nomination and permit the introduction of McKinley into the breach. Mr. Hanna was not a delegate to the Convention, but he went to Minneapolis and opened an unofficial headquarters for McKinley at the West House. For some days he tried, not without prospects of success, to arrange combinations, which under certain possible contingencies might result in McKinley's favor.
It was, however, a useless effort. McKinley never had a chance, and he did well not to abandon his overt support of the President and his overt discouragement of his own followers. Mr. Harrison could not be beaten. Twelve of his friends, subsequently named the "Twelve Apostles," conceived the idea of collecting all the Harrison disciples together as a sort of demonstration in force, which would constrain the weaker brethren. The meeting was held in Market Hall and was attended by a sufficient number of delegates to assure the nomination. President Harrison received 535 votes on the first ballot and his selection was made unanimous. The McKinley headquarters at the West House had been closed some days before, although this fact did not prevent Mr. Hanna from continuing to work on behalf of his friend. As the event proved, it was fortunate that the President was strong enough to obtain a renomination. Probably no Republican candidate could have been elected in 1892, while at the same time the President's defeat resulted in making McKinley even more possible for 1896. He was generally admitted to be the most available man for the next nomination. No less than 182 delegates had voted for him as an unauthorized candidate, which was as many as had voted for Blaine. He had been hailed in the Convention as the candidate for '96. The symptoms could scarcely be more favorable.
The Convention was no sooner over than steps were taken in the direction of Governor McKinley's nomination in 1896. On this point the testimony of ex-Senator Charles Dick is explicit. He had been a delegate to the Minneapolis Convention; and (according to his account) Mr. Hanna and others of the Republican leaders in Ohio had talked with him about accepting the chairmanship of the State Committee in case McKinley were nominated. About two weeks later the State Committee met in Columbus, and selected Mr. Dick as chairman. As soon as he was notified, he started for Columbus to decline the honor. He had agreed to accept it only in case some Ohio man were nominated. There he had an interview with Governor McKinley, who urged him to accept and insisted that before reaching any negative decision he have an interview with Mr. Hanna. The result was that he allowed himself to be persuaded. They both of them urged the necessity of having a trustworthy McKinley man at the head of the State Committee, so that every local campaign between 1892 and 1896 could be conducted with a view to the nomination of the Governor in 1896. #
No opportunity was lost to keep the candidate before the public. During the campaign of 1892 special efforts were made to make Mr. McKinley conspicuous on the stump. An unusually prolonged trip was arranged by Thomas H. Carter, chairman of the Republican National Committee, after consultation with Mr. Hanna. The Governor's route stretched as far west as Iowa and Minnesota, and as far east as Maine, and it included all the important intervening states. Wherever he went he made a favorable impression. He was not like William J. Bryan a great popular orator, but he was a persuasive and effective speaker, who could give dignity and sincerity to the commonplaces of partisan controversy. Above all, his amiability and his winning personal qualities never failed to make for him friends and well-wishers.
The defeat of Benjamin Harrison and the election of Grover Cleveland had, of course, a profound although at first a doubtful, effect upon Mr. McKinley's general standing as a presidential candidate. The campaign on his behalf would be either very much strengthened or very much weakened,— according to the success or failure of the new President's administration. Mr. Cleveland had been elected on the tariff issue. The high protectionist legislation passed in 1890 continued to be so unpopular that not only did he receive a larger majority in the electoral college than he had in 1884, but his party secured the control of both Houses of Congress. For the first time since the Civil War the Democrats were in a position to fulfil their preelection promises. If they could pass a measure of tariff reform, which would receive the approval of the country, Mr. McKinley's chief political stock-in-trade would be very much damaged. On the other hand the failure of tariff reform as a practical economic and political policy would make him the logical candidate of his own party.