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Junior “oratoricals” among the intellectual festivities of a year of the Western Reserve College. It was the great feature of the college term — more important even than the commencement exercises. Every member of the Junior class was expected to “oratorical”; and at the same time the collegiate honors, which were to be distributed among the class a year later, wer indicated and practically announced. Mr. Geo. H. Ford, classmate of Mark Hanna's, tells the story of the episode in the following words: “The “affair' occurred April, 1859. The Junior class of that year was unusually large and above the average in talent. In it were several Clevelanders. I remember W. W. Andrews, son of Judge Sherlock J. Andrews, as one of them, and John F. and Henry V. Hitchcock, sons of the president of the college. The faculty was justly proud of this class, but certain of its individual members had put on “airs,’ and the lower classmen resented it, Hanna among the rest. The coming “exhibition’ was looked forward to with great local interest. The program was prepared secretly, and to prevent accidents was sent to Cleveland to be printed. Hanna saw an opportunity of removing a little of their conceit, so he went to Cleveland, got on good terms with some one in the printing office, secured a proof of the program, and forwarded it to his fellow-conspirators in Hudson. A racy burlesque or sham program was prepared and returned to him, which he had printed in elegant style and sent back. I think, although I am not sure, he also managed to suppress, or get possession of the genuine programs, and to forward a bundle of the shams by express to the class on the morning of the exhibition, too late for a remedy. The shams were thoroughly distributed throughout the audience in the crowded chapel by boys enlisted by his co-conspirators.” Mr. Ford does not believe that Mark was expelled. He was merely reprimanded severely by the faculty, indefinitely suspended and his return made conditional on a promise of good behavior. He adds that Mark Hanna was easily a captain among the boys of his age in college — frank, fearless and ener* This is a mistake. Mr. Hanna could scarcely have been 21 years old
when he entered college. He entered in 1857. The joke was played in 1858.
getic, full of fun and always ready to play harmless jokes on his companions. Once when a local fire company was making a blundering attempt to extinguish a fire near the college campus, he quickly collected thirty or forty boys, charged on the firemen, took the extinguisher away from them, seized the nozzle of the hose with his own hands, climbed to the roof of the house, and remained there until the fire was put out. Obviously Mark Hanna's suspension was the occasion of his quitting college rather than the cause. After he had finished with the high School, his own preference was for an immediate plunge into business, and in going to college he was merely making a temporary concession to the wishes of his mother. He could make the concession out of respect for his mother, but at the first check his own will prevailed. His parents had allowed him a good deal of independence, and he was accustomed to act for himself. All his deeper instincts urged him to begin his career in business. The fact that he considered himself engaged to be married would alone have been sufficient to make the idea of a long college course irksome. Life itself was beckoning to him. Why potter over books, when there were real things to do? From his own point of view he made the right decision. He would have gained little from a college training. He was never interested in books. He never learned much out of books. Even at high school his progress must have been slow, or he would have been ready for college before he was twenty years old. By disposition and training he was the true product of a pioneer society, in which an active life without any artificial preliminary discipline is the efficient life, and in which the action adopted is determined by the economic environment. Inasmuch as he was destined to be a business man, the sooner he began, the better. Experience was his one possible source of real education, and his experience could become edifying only as the result of actual experiment. While he had little ability to learn at second hand from books, he had or came to have a gift for learning from his own successes and failures, and so for adapting himself to the needs of his own career. The business carried on by Hanna, Garretson & Co., into which Mark Hanna entered in the spring of 1858, afforded an excellent schooling for an energetic and intelligent young man. Nominally they were only wholesale grocers, but a wholesale grocery in Cleveland fifty years ago inevitably tended to become a general forwarding and commission business. Cleveland was at that time just beginning to reap the advantage of its situation on Lake Erie at the most convenient point for the control of the shipping and the trade, other than grain, of the Great Lakes. During the fifties both Wisconsin and Minnesota were beginning to be settled, and because of the Lakes many of the needs of the pioneer population of these states could be supplied most economically by water in the boats of the merchants of a conveniently situated city like Cleveland. Hanna, Garretson & Co. were apparently one of the first firms to anticipate the possibilities of this trade. They began early to extend their business into the Lake Superior region. In order to make their deliveries, they established a line of steamboats which carried passengers as well as freight, and for which return cargoes had to be found. And their return cargoes even at this early date were prophetic of the product, for which the upper Lake region was later to become conspicuous. The pioneers of Minnesota wanted to sell, not grain or hogs, but pig-copper, iron ore and salt fish. Hanna, Garretson & Co. used in this part of their business the Manhattan, one of the first steamboats regularly operated on the Lakes, and later the City of Superior and the Northern Lights. Hiram Garretson spent much of his time in New Orleans, buying the sugar and molasses, which was sold to their customers in Ohio and along the Lakes, and which was still shipped to Cleveland by way of the Ohio River and canal. Leonard and Robert Hanna remained in Cleveland and took care of the selling end of the business. When Mark Hanna left college, his business experience began, as he himself says, in jumpers and overalls. He started as a general rustabout on the docks, and as a clerk in the warehouse on Mervin Street. His work was the same as that of any other young man in and about the store. He was soon, however, given a more responsible job. He did not remain in the warehouse much longer than enough to obtain a speaking acquaintance with that aspect of the business. His first outside assignment was that of purser on one of the vessels