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chants. To this end alliances were established covering every aspect of the production, the handling and transportation of the coal, iron ore and pig-iron. The firm itself owned coal mines in the several bituminous districts in Ohio. Its individual partners also owned mines. In other cases merely an interest had been purchased in mines operated independently. In still other cases the coal of wholly independent operators was bought outright and sold. Most of this coal was placed on the market in Cleveland, and a large part of it was carried up the Lakes in steamers owned in part by members of the firm as individuals. The same methods were repeated in the iron ore district. Iron mines were owned both by the firm, by its individual members and by outsiders to whom capital had been advanced. The firm profited from the sale of their ore, and frequently from its handling and transportation, while at the same time it transported and sold large quantities of ore for other producers.
The volume and the diversity of the business was a great help to its economic and efficient transaction. Vessels which carried iron ore down the Lakes could carry coal back. The alliance with the Pennsylvania Railroad Company was of great assistance to the selling end of the business. The large quantities of materials sold justified the development of one of the ablest sales-organizations in the country. The firm had unsurpassed opportunities of keeping in touch with every aspect of the coal and iron business and of making both its purchases and its sales to the best advantage. Finally it always consumed a certain part of the raw materials it produced or sold, and it possessed in this way a safety valve for its business. It could either sell the raw material or convert it according to the comparative opportunities of profit. A large and increasing part of the business of the firm consisted of mining its own coal and ore, transporting them in its own boats, unloading them on docks which it leases and operates, and (sometimes) smelting the ore in its own furnaces. Pig-iron, however, was its most finished product. The firm never went into the manufacture of steel, although certain of its members entered the directorate of steelproducing companies — partly in order to secure business for the copartnership.
An organization of this kind is rare, if not unique, in the history of American business. Essentially it consisted of a partnership, which constituted the nucleus of a widely ramified system of corporate and firm properties, individual properties, and personal and corporate alliances. Throughout the territory embraced by the operations of the firm, all the roads led back to the partnership itself, which gathered toll from the crossing of every bridge, the passage of every turnpike, and the safe arrival at every destination. Yet these tolls were cheerfully paid, because the firm always served its customers fairly and efficiently, and because its policy was never either grasping or disloyal. The organization has the appearance of being perilously complicated, of being dependent upon too many fluctuating conditions, and upon too many merely personal alliances. But as a matter of fact, it has stood excellently the test of long and hard wear. For over forty years, during which time the conditions of its business have been radically changed, the firm has succeeded, not merely in holding its own, but in using these very changes to make its own position stronger.
Particularly during the last thirteen years conditions in the coal and iron industry have not been favorable to commission merchants. The tendency has been to do away with the middleman, and to organize under one ownership every phase of the process of converting iron ore into finished steel products; but in spite of this tendency the organization of the firm was such that it could be adapted to the new conditions. Its alliances were strengthened by increasing the range and amount of its ownership in the products it sold; and its own business became to an even larger extent a matter of selling its own pig-iron rather than the basic materials thereof. To be sure, this development took place largely after M. A. Hanna had retired from active business; but his successors were able to meet effectively the new situation as it developed, partly because Mr. Hanna had established the business on sound foundations and made it both a tough and a flexible instrument.
The salient fact, consequently, about the organization developed by Mr. Hanna was its peculiar personal character. Although transacting a volume of business very much larger than that of many big corporations, and although it has formed many corporations for the purpose of owning particular branches of its business, it has remained essentially a copartnership. A corporate organization demands impersonality of methods and policy. It is most effective when its operations can become automatic and be reduced to rule. But the business of M. A. Hanna & Co. was the creation of sound and enterprising individual management; and it has continued to demand management of this kind. Mark Hanna made it personal; and personal it has remained. It was successful under his management, because of the excellence of his judgment, the soundness of his policy and the absolute personal confidence which he inspired among his associates. It has continued to be prosperous under his successors, because they were able to bring similar qualities to its direction. Although it is twentyfive years since Mark Hanna was actively connected with the business which bears his name, his personality still lives in it and determines the forms of its activity.
MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS INTERESTS
In the account given of the business which Mr. Hanna and his partners gradually built up, no attention has been paid to other contemporaneous business interests. This particular aspect of his life has a unity of its own and can best be treated independently both of his political career and his miscellaneous business engagements. The coal and iron selling agency constituted, of course, the foundation of his business structure. Until 1894 it consumed most of his time and energy. Throughout his life it provided him with his sinews of war. It made him a wealthy man, and he needed the power which only wealth can give. But important as it was in his life, and clearly as the quality of the man was expressed in the contribution he made to the success of the firm, the actual sequence of events in his business career is for the most part irrelevant to the main current of his life.
From 1867 until 1880 he appears to have devoted practically all his time to coal and iron. The first six of these years were consumed in making himself a master of the business and in broadening its basis. The next five years constituted a period of general trade depression, during which Mr. Hanna had to struggle in order to maintain the ground which had already been won. But late in the seventies business revived, and Rhodes & Co. began to reap the reward which a period of active trade brings to a well-established and well-managed business. Mr. Hanna found himself possessed of means, which enabled him to undertake a number of other enterprises of some importance. He had become, indeed, one of the most conspicuous and prosperous of Cleveland business men, whose cooperation was usually expected in matters of local business importance.
The first of these miscellaneous ventures was nothing less than a plunge into the newspaper business; and as the incident had a certain bearing on Mr. Hanna's subsequent political career, it must be told in some detail. His interest in the matter originated in an attempt made by certain friends and associates to give renewed life to an old, well-established, but decayed local journal. At one time the Cleveland Herald had been the most influential organ of the Republican party in northern Ohio, and the only prosperous newspaper in the city of Cleveland. But owing to the death of one of its owners and the bad management of the remaining partner, both its circulation and its prestige fell away. In the meantime the Cleveland Leader, which was edited and for the most part owned by Edwin Cowles, was gradually taking its place. Later the Herald was bought by Richard C. Parsons and William Perry Fogg. Colonel Parsons, a former Congressional representative, a politician of considerable influence, and a cultured and able man, became its editor; and Mr. Fogg, a dealer in crockery, took charge of the business management. They put both additional capital and energy into the Herald and made it a good newspaper, but all to no purpose. They could not either shake the standing of the Leader or restore the Herald to its former position. The new owners could not stand the strain. Their losses threatened to ruin them, and they had to sell out.
William Perry Fogg retired, and Colonel Parsons persuaded a number of prominent men in Cleveland to come to his assistance. The new owners of the paper were a syndicate consisting of J. H. Wade, who laid the foundation of the Western Union Telegraph system; Henry Chisholm, the founder of the Cleveland Rolling Mill Company, the great local steel works; John D. Rockefeller and H. M. Flagler; Amasa Stone, the fatherin-law of John Hay; S. T. Everett, Dan P. Eels, a banker, Elias Sims, one of the owners of the West Side Street Railway and Mark Hanna. An abler and more successful group of business men would have been hard to find in Cleveland or elsewhere, but they were failures as the publishers of a newspaper. The Leader continued to prosper and the Herald to lose money. Finally the weary millionnaires refused to pay any more assessments. Colonel Parsons retired for good, and the property passed into the control of Mr. Hanna and a few associates, with the former as president of the company. The new