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"He had never been very close to me, although of course we had worked heartily together when I was a candidate for VicePresident and he was managing the campaign. But we had never been closely associated, and I do not think that he had at that time felt particularly drawn to me.
"The situation was one in which any small man, any man to whom petty motives appealed, would have been sure to do something which would tend to bring about just such a rift as had always divided from the party leaders in Congress any man coming to the Presidency as I came to it. But Senator Hanna had not a single small trait in his nature. As soon as he called on me, without any beating about the bush, he told me that he had come to say that he would do all in his power to make my administration a success, and that, subject, of course, to my acting as my past career and my words that afternoon gave him the right to expect, he would in all ways endeavor to strengthen and uphold my hands. There was not in his speech a particle of subserviency, no worship of the rising sun. On the contrary, he stated that he wished me to understand that he was in no sense committing himself to favor my nomination when the next Presidential election came on; for that was something the future must decide; but that he would do all he could to make my administration a success and that his own counsel and support within and without the Senate should be mine in the effort to carry out the policies which had been so well begun. I, of course, thanked him and told him that I understood his position perfectly and was grateful for what he had said.
"He made his words good. There were points on which we afterwards differed; but he never permitted himself, as many men even of great strength and high character do permit themselves, to allow his personal disapproval of some one point of the President's policy to lead him into trying to avenge himself by seeking to bring the whole policy to naught. Any one who has had experience in politics knows what a common failing this is. The fact that Senator Hanna never showed the slightest trace of it, and never treated his disagreement with me on some difficult point as any reason for withholding his hearty support on other points, is something which I shall not soon forget.
"Throughout my term as President, until the time of his death, I was in very close relations with him. He was continually at the White House and I frequently went over to breakfast and dinner at his house; while there was no important feature of any of my policies which I did not carefully discuss with him. In the great majority of instances we were able to come to an agreement. I always found that together with his ruggedness, his fearlessness and efficiency he combined entire straightforwardness of character. I never needed to be in doubt as to whether he would carry through a fight or in any way go back on his word. He was emphatically a big man of strong aggressive generous nature."
Because of Mr. Roosevelt's fine pledge to continue the policy of his predecessor, the death of Mr. McKinley and the accession of a new President made at the moment a smaller alteration in the political situation than might have been anticipated. But there remained the terrible wound dealt to Mr. Hanna's personal feelings by the loss of his friend. The strength of his attachment to Mr. McKinley received a striking testimonial, when after his visit to the dying man, he broke down and burst into tears. He was a man of intense feelings, which were rarely, if ever, betrayed in public. Indeed, it seemed almost like a point of honor with him, as with so many men of strong will, not to permit any outward expression of his personal affections. After long separation from relatives, to whom he was and had shown himself to be devotedly attached, he would after their return greet them in a very casual way or not greet them at all. He shrank instinctively from revealing his affections in the ordinary way, not because he was callous or indifferent, but because, perhaps, they were so lively that he could not risk their expression in words. He allowed his actions to speak for him.
His attachment to Mr. McKinley was peculiarly deep and strong, because it was compounded, as Mr. Roosevelt has suggested above, of two elements — each of which was fundamental in his disposition. He had in the first place a veritable gift for friendship. His personal relations with other men constituted the very core and substance of his life. He had served Mr. McKinley, as he had served so many others, because of disinterested personal devotion; but in the case of Mr. McKinley the personal devotion was heightened by feelings derived from another source. This particular friendship had awakened his aspirations. His general disposition was such that an ideal could make a peculiarly strong appeal to him only when it was embodied in a human being. Mr. McKinley's finer qualities aroused in him the utmost admiration. He was profoundly impressed by the unfailing patience, consideration and devotion which his friend had lavished on an ailing and difficult wife. He was, perhaps, even more impressed by Mr. McKinley 's repeated refusals to obtain any political advantage by compromises with conscience. As he himself has said, Mr. McKinley's declaration that there were some things which a Presidential candidate must not do even to be President had made a better man of him. And undoubtedly his friend's influence upon his life and career was really elevating. His own personal standards of behavior in politics steadily improved, partly because he was fully capable of rising to a responsibility, as well as to an opportunity, but also partly because of the leavening effect of his association with his friend. This association had meant to Mr. Hanna more than his fame, his career and his public achievements. It had meant as well the increase of public usefulness and personal self-respect which a man can obtain only by remaining true to a certain standard of public behavior.
Towards the end of his life Mr. Hanna became increasingly aware of a difference between himself and Mr. McKinley in their respective attitudes towards personal ties and responsibilities. He never gave explicit expression to this difference, but he was glancing at it in the following passage in the National Magazine on "McKinley as I knew Him." "We were both," he says, "of Scotch-Irish descent, but opposite in disposition. He was of more direct descent than I, but it was thought from our dispositions that he had the Scotch and I had the Irish of the combination." What he means by this is probably that personal relationships were not so vital to Mr. McKinley as they were to himself. Mr. McKinley acted less than he did on the prompting of instinct and affection. The mere fact that the President was the more conscientious man of the two tended also to make him more conscious and less consistent in his feelings. Mr. McKinley was solicitous of the appearance which he was making to the world and posterity, and this quality might sometimes give his behavior at least the appearance of selfishness. I am not implying that he was not a loyal and in his way a sincere man; but loyalty was not to him as fundamental a virtue as it was to Mr. Hanna. He might have considered the possibility of breaking with his friend under conditions which would in Mr. Hanna's eyes have wholly failed to justify the rupture. In point of fact the latent and actual differences between the two men never gathered to a head. I have told the story of their few important disagreements; but the wonder is, not that they were there to tell, but that they were not more frequent and more serious. They do not in any way invalidate the popular impression that the association between the two men was, perhaps, the most loyal friendship which has become a part of American political history.
An honest friendship endures, not because it does not have any differences to overcome, but because it is strong enough to overcome such differences as inevitably occur. The association of Mr. Hanna and Mr. McKinley was punctuated with many trivial disputes which never became serious, partly because of the President's tact. The two men had to reach a mutually acceptable decision about thousands of bits of official business or policy in the course of a year. Their decisions were at times bound to diverge, and when such divergence arose they might for a moment wear the appearance of being serious. Mr. Hanna was a plain-dealer, honest and fearless to a fault, brusque sometimes in manner, quick in feeling and explosive in speech. When he disagreed with another man he might say so with both heat and energy. Under such circumstances Mr. McKinley was at his best. He was too tactful and prudent to make matters worse by any contradiction or disputation. He knew that in a few minutes or hours the storm would blow over, and that Mr. Hanna would then be willing to resume the discussion with a cool head and the utmost good temper.
These, however, were small things. What really tested the friendship was the change which gradually took place in their respective public positions. Mr. McKinley was, as I have said, extremely solicitous of his reputation. From the day he was first elected President he was represented as being under Mr. Hanna's control far more than was actually the case and to an extent which must have been galling. In matters of public policy he was always his own master — at least so far as Mr. Hanna was concerned; and even in the latter's own special field of political management he by no means merely submitted to Mr. Hanna's dictation. Mr. George B. Cortelyou, who had the best opportunities for judging, considered that Mr. McKinley was an abler politician than Mr. Hanna — and this in spite of the fact that he ranks Mr. Hanna's ability very high. Mr. McKinley did not get the credit for being either as independent, as courageous or as self-dependent as he really was. Furthermore, as time went on, Mr. Hanna increased rather than diminished in public stature; and as he increased the President became not absolutely but relatively smaller. Comic papers like Life published cartoons, in one of which Mr. Hanna was represented as a tall robust English gentleman with Mr. McKinley at his side dressed in a short coat and knee breeches. It was entitled "Buttons." Such a portrayal of their relationship would have been exasperating even had it been true; but it was not true.
If there had been any truth in it, the friendship between the two men could not have lasted. Mr. McKinley was bound to overlook the occasional public perversion of their relation one to another, because as a matter of fact Mr. Hanna had always recognized in his behavior towards his friend the essential difference in their positions. Mr. McKinley was the master, Mr. Hanna was only the able and trusted Prime Minister. The latter never presumed upon his friendship with the President, upon the contribution he had made towards Mr. McKinley's nomination or election or upon the increasing independence and stability of his own public position. Everybody most familiar with their private relations testifies that Mr. Hanna asked for nothing in the way of patronage to which he was not fully entitled. The extent of his ability or his willingness to obtain favors on merely personal grounds was very much overestimated. He was erroneously credited, for instance, with