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"This question is broader than can be written in the lines of the bill. It will be widespread in its benefits. It is not aimed at any class or any particular industry. It is one of those measures whose influence will permeate every industry and every class in the length and breadth of the United States. When I am told that the people of the interior of this country are not interested in the shipping question, I say it is not true in fact. Every man, no matter what his vocation in life, is interested and will be benefited directly or indirectly, because you cannot create an industry like this, requiring first the development of our raw materials and then the construction of ships which open up the markets of the world and give greater opportunities to our merchants and manufacturers, without benefiting every industry and every line of business."
These words of Senator Hanna's were uttered in absolute good faith. He sincerely believed that in promoting legislation which in his opinion would restore the American flag to the high seas, he was making an essential contribution to a constructive national business policy. He could not understand why so many Republicans who were willing to subsidize manufacturers with high protective rates should shrink from granting to the shipping industry similar encouragement. He himself knew that there was no essential difference between paying the money directly out of the Treasury and collecting it indirectly from the consumers — except perhaps that the second method was more costly. Yet certain Republicans and protectionist Democrats talked as if the two cases were different, and as if the only object of the ship-subsidy bill was to make a gift of the people's money to a group of wealthy men interested in ocean transportation. An accusation of this kind was continually being flung at his head by the Democrats. These charges of bad faith and equivocal motives aroused in Mr. Hanna an honest indignation, and on one occasion, Feb. 15, 1901, he answered the taunts with dignity and selfrestraint. I quote his short speech on that occasion almost in full:— •
"Mr. President, I have listened patiently for days to this discussion, and have listened with astonishment to many of the reckless statements which have been made by the opponents of this bill, statements which cannot be borne out by facts and which are intended to place before the country a misconception of the merits of this measure. I have known perfectly well of the intended opposition to defeat the measure. I have heard insinuations with reference to men who have been connected with the measure in this body and out of it which made me blush, and I resent them. I have heard the scolding from our friend from Colorado [Mr. Teller]. But, Mr. President, we are not children. We believe when we present a measure on the floor of this Senate and advocate it, whether as a Republican measure or simply as a public measure, that we are entitled at least to be considered as honest in our purpose. From the time that this bill was introduced until this hour the effort I have made to secure its enactment into law has been for the purpose of accomplishing what it has been stated it would accomplish — to upbuild the merchant marine of the United States and to better the conditions of the people.
"I do not claim to have any greater technical or general knowledge than the average of men, but I claim to have some knowledge, as the result of experience, that leads me to make certain deductions as to economic measures; and when I advocate this measure from my seat in this Senate I think I should have the same right and the same consideration at the hands of this body that I am willing to grant to any other Senator; that I am sincere and honest in my convictions, and that I am advocating the measure, not for the purpose, as is claimed here, of looting the Treasury of the United States, but for advancing the material interests of the people of the United States.
"Mr. President, as far as I am concerned as one of the advocates of this shipping bill, after having made this statement I propose to occupy the same position from now until the 4th of March that I have occupied from the beginning — to demand at the hands of this body fair treatment for an honest measure with an honest intent; and I do not propose to be side-tracked by any Senator from the other side of the Chamber. I myself will decide when I will go on the side-track.
"For my part I have tried to be fair, and even liberal, to the other side; and I am met with the taunt, almost descending to personality, that the purposes of those who are advocating this measure is to pay back subscriptions to political campaign funds, to pay political debts, and that the Republican party is the only party that descends to such political measures — an insinuation that, by virtue of my position as Chairman of the National Republican Committee, I am responsible for this legislation here in order to make recompense to those who, you say, have contributed to the campaign fund of the Republican party. Is that a part of an economic question to be discussed in this body? Is that what you call fair treatment in legislation?
"Mr. President, as I have said in the beginning, my interest in this measure is because I believe it to be for the interests of the people of this country. I believe that it means the upbuilding of a new industry, a kindred industry to those industries which have made this country great and prosperous. It means another step in the direction of development, not confined to section or to party, but for the good of the whole country."
In conclusion Mr. Hanna turned upon his critics, and accused them of passing without a murmur a river and harbor bill containing provisions which made the ship-subsidy bill by comparison look white and innocent. Whether any particular measure for the encouragement of trade was called a looting of the Treasury or a piece of constructive economic legislation depended upon the number of Congressional districts which it happened to benefit. I have read a great deal of Mr. Hanna's private correspondence with the ship-builders and operators who would have benefited from the operation of the subsidy bill, and I failed to discover any intimation that the bill was not framed in good faith to accomplish its ostensible object. Whether, as a matter of fact, it would have done so without any benefit to private interests, beyond the amount absolutely necessary to accomplish the desired object, is a question upon which none but an expert can pass. In the course of the debate Senator Spooner made some shrewd criticisms of the details of both the bills, which might well have caused doubts in the minds of his hearers. Such doubts are bound to arise whenever the people actually benefited by any attempt to encourage a private industry have a great deal to say about the terms of its encouragement. Economic legislation which seeks to accomplish a constructive business purpose by the direct or indirect subsidizing of private interests should be framed, as it is in Germany, by experts whose opinions cannot be biassed by any prospect of personal advantage. Our American practice had, however, been entirely different. With some few exceptions all American economic legislation before 1900 was practically dictated by its beneficiaries. In allowing its beneficiaries to have a good deal to say about the ship-subsidy bill
Mr. Hanna and his associates were following a long-established precedent. But the precedent was based upon the idea that the public and private interests involved were substantially identical. Mr. Hanna himself believed them to be substantially identical; and when the subsidy legislation failed it was his honest opinion that a wise and necessary measure for promoting the expansion of American commerce had been killed by cowardice and sectional prejudice.
THE DEATH OF PRESIDENT MCKINLEY
In the preceding chapter the fate of the attempt to revive American shipping engaged in foreign trade has been followed to the end, although the end did not take place until after the occurrence of many other extremely important incidents in Mr. Hanna's life. In the meantime Mr. McKinley's second inauguration had taken place amid much jubilation and personal and party congratulations. Mr. Hanna had charge of the ceremony, and during its progress was, according to the newspapers, almost as much its hero as was the President himself. But the man who, according to his Western flatterer, could make the sun stand still could not prevent the rain from falling. The combined ceremony and festivity was marred by the usual foul weather of early March.
Local politics in Cleveland occupied much of his time during the spring of 1901. At the municipal election held in April Tom Johnson was elected Mayor of Cleveland for the first time by a substantial majority over the Republican candidate. Mr. Johnson continued to be both Mayor of Cleveland and a thorn in the flesh to Mr. Hanna for the next three years. With all his talent for political management he never succeeded in keeping the Republicans in control of his own city—and that in spite of the fact that the city usually went Republican at national elections. His street railroad interests were undoubtedly a serious embarrassment to him in his handling of the local political situation, and prevented him from acting or from appearing to act as disinterestedly as he did in state and national politics.
Senator Hanna himself was inclined to attribute the ill success of the local Republican organization chiefly to one cause. Since 1886, as we have seen, the Republicans of Cuyahoga County had been nominating their candidates for office under the so-called Crawford County system of direct primaries. The