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There is a certain class of Senators, usually lawyers, who immediately become conspicuous, if not powerful, in the Senate chamber by virtue of a good voice, a habit of fluent public speaking and a large amount of public self-assurance. But Mr. Hanna was still an inexperienced speaker; and he never cared to talk in public, except when he could do so with some authority. Before becoming prominent in the official proceedings of the Senate, he was bound, in obedience to his usual practice, to begin by securing the personal confidence of his colleagues. He must first establish in his new surroundings that group of personal friendships and alliances which always constituted the foundation of his leadership.
Neither could his success in becoming a Senate leader be taken for granted. That body is something of a club with strong domestic prejudices and traditions. Success, no matter how brilliant, obtained outside that body does not guarantee to a newcomer any corresponding consideration from his colleagues. He has to earn their consideration by acceptable behavior on the spot. Mr. Hanna's prominence as the friend of McKinley and as the chairman of the National Committee rather tended to make many of the older Senators suspicious. They would have been quick to resent any assumption of power or any interference with the course of legislation by virtue of Mr. Hanna's relations with the President. Moreover, Mr. Hanna was only a business man; and while many business men had managed to secure seats in the Senate, they had rarely exercised much influence therein. The typical Senator is a lawyer. The debates in that body which arouse the keenest local interest usually involve constitutional questions on which none but a lawyer can speak with authority. Thus Mr. Hanna had many barriers to break down before his leadership outside the Senate could be paralleled by any corresponding influence within that body.
By a curious fatality, moreover, the most pressing problems of the first three years of Mr. McKinley's administration were remote from those questions of domestic politics, with which Mr. Hanna's position, training and experience had made him competent to deal. As we have seen, President McKinley assumed office pledged above all to put an end to a period of economic depression and to restore prosperity. The administration was
constituted with the domestic situation chiefly in mind, and a large amount of legislation was planned for the purpose of stimulating industrial activity. But all these plans were embarrassed, if not entirely frustrated, by the insurrection in Cuba. The inability of the Spanish government to suppress the rebellion, the ruthless means adopted to that end and the growing sympathy of a large part of the American people with the insurgents was gradually creating an extremely critical situation. The President and his Cabinet desired and intended to avoid war with Cuba, both because they thought it unnecessary and because they feared that war would prevent them from redeeming the pledge to restore prosperity. Yet by its attitude towards the Spanish policy in Cuba, the administration at the very outset of its career was in danger of being pushed into an unpopular position and of losing the confidence of the country. The President had called an extra session of Congress for the purpose of restoring prosperity by means of tariff revision, and the war party in Congress used this opportunity to agitate for intervention in Cuba. A few days after the inauguration a joint resolution recognizing the belligerency of the Cuban insurgents was pressed for consideration in the Senate. The debate thereon ran along for a couple of months. Much of this time was occupied in discussing the question whether the recognition of belligerency or independence was an executive or legislative function; but behind the constitutional discussion lay two divergent opinions as to the desirability of forcing a war on Spain. Almost all the Democrats and a minority of the Republicans wanted to bring about war. The recognition either of belligerency or independence was a means to that end. A resolution recognizing the belligerency of the Cuban insurgents passed the Senate on May 20, 1897. Senator Hanna, opposed as he was to war and committed as he was to the support of the President, voted uniformly with the minority. A very small minority it was. Only thirteen Senators voted with him, while forty-one favored the resolution. The resolution itself was never even considered in the House of Representatives. Not, however, until the following spring was the Cuban situation to become really critical; and the interval gave Congress an opportunity to undertake the legislation which the President and Mr. Hanna believed to be essential to the cure of the economic depression. As it happened, the complexion of the two Houses enabled the Republicans to pass a tariff bill, but prevented them from taking any action on the currency. They had a large majority in the House, but in the Senate the balance of power was held by a body of pro-silver protectionists chiefly from the Far West. In a little over two weeks after the meeting of Congress, the Dingley Bill had been reported and passed in the House, only twenty-two out of its one hundred and sixtythree pages being discussed in detail. The Senate was more deliberate, and its contribution to the final form in which the bill was enacted was correspondingly substantial. The bill was not reported until the eighth of May, and it was not signed by the President until July 24. The Republican leaders in both Houses desired to pass a bill which, while raising the rates, would not run any danger of incurring the unpopularity of the McKinley Bill. But they were obliged ultimately to accept a series of schedules which ranged higher than they intended. The wool schedule was the heart of the matter. By a combination between Senators representing woollen manufacturing states and those representing wool growing states, who were none other than the pro-silver protectionists, the duties on wool and the compensating plus the protective duties on woollen goods were restored to about the level of the McKinley Bill. On cotton goods the general tendency was to impose slightly lower duties than those of 1890. On silks and linens, on the other hand, the changes were radical, and the duties higher than ever before in the history of the country. On chinaware the rates of 1890 were restored, whereas most of the metal duties were left very much as they had been in 1894. Whatever opinion one may form either of the political or economic desirability of the Dingley Bill, it apparently served the purpose of its progenitors. Increasing business activity followed upon its enactment; and the high protectionists sincerely believed that without such a stimulus President McKinley would never have proved to be the advance agent of prosperity. Senator Hanna, of course, warmly approved the changes proposed by the bill, but just how much influence he had upon its details cannot be traced by any public indications. He was not a member of the Finance Committee, and not once did he open his mouth during the public discussion of the schedules. His colleague, Senator Foraker, in a speech made on the stump during the fall of 1897, gave the following description of Mr. Hanna's contribution to the making of the Dingley Bill. “No man not on the Committee did more than Senator Hanna to win the success that was achieved. I doubt if any other man did as much. He devoted himself with assiduity to the study of the various schedules. He listened with patience to the claims and appeals of all, and with rare good judgment aided the Committee and the Senate in reaching just conclusions.” Only slight changes were made in those schedules in which his own firm was financially interested. The rates on iron ore remained at forty cents a ton, and that on pig-iron at four dollars. The duty on coal was increased from forty to sixty-five cents a ton, but it was not restored to the level of 1890, which had been seventy-five cents a ton. Senator Hanna's only appearance in public during this first session of the fifty-fifth Congress was for the purpose of calling up a bill, introduced by himself and providing for a new public building in Cleveland. It was passed without opposition. Of course, he also introduced a number of private pension bills. The committees to which he was assigned included that on Enrolled Bills, Mines and Mining, Naval Affairs, Pensions, Railroads and the Select Committee on Transportation and Sale of Meat Products. During the second session of the same Congress Mr. Hanna remained in the background. Not once did he address the Senate. His behavior was doubtless dictated by his wise preference for silence when he could not speak with authority and effect. If he did not speak during the second session of the fifty-fifth Congress, it was not because the course of events failed to interest him. It was during this session that the stubborn purpose of President McKinley and his Cabinet to avoid war proved abortive. The intention of the Republican leaders had been to transact only necessary business, and then to adjourn early, if possible by May 1. They wanted to avoid any further agitation until the slowly rising wind of business activity had scattered the fruits of “prosperity '' over the whole country; and above all, they sought to leave the administration free to deal with the Cuban situation without interference from Congress. These plans were frustrated by the increasing fury of the demand for intervention in Cuba; and after February 15, the date on which the Maine was blown up in the harbor of Havana, it became extremely doubtful whether a war with Spain could be avoided. Indeed, war became certain, in case the investigation indicated that the explosion which wrecked the vessel and killed the crew could be traced to a source outside of its hull. Before, however, the critical phase of the Cuban situation was reached, the Senate was occupied with certain routine business. The way in which Mr. Hanna voted upon several of these matters must be recorded as indicating his attitude upon public questions. In the first place he voted in favor of Senator Lodge's bill, imposing an educational qualification on immigrants; and in casting the vote he had with him, not only his regular Republican associates, but a majority of the Senate. In the second place he voted in favor of seating in the Senate one Henry W. Corbett, who had been appointed Senator from the state of Oregon by a Republican governor, after the failure of a Democratic Legislature, because of Republican abstentions, to elect a Democrat. This was a matter on which there was some division of opinion among the abler constitutional lawyers in the Senate, Mr. Spooner being in favor of seating Mr. Corbett and Mr. Platt of Connecticut being against it. Mr. Hanna's vote is interesting, chiefly because of his subsequent vote in relation to a similar question affecting the title of Senator Quay of Pennsylvania to his seat. Finally on January 28 Mr. Hanna was one of a minority of twenty-four who during a discussion of a currency resolution, raised for political purposes, voted in favor of the payment of all bonds of the United States in gold coin or its equivalent. In the meantime the administration was unable to stem the tide which both in Congress and the country was making for war. Up to the last moment the President sought to find some middle ground. He sought to placate American public opinion by acting energetically on behalf of American citizens in Cuba, and by pressing Spain to improve its conduct of the war and to redress the grievances of its Cuban subjects. If the Maine had