voter was warned not to give his vote prematurely
— for McKinley was coming.
Mark Hanna's biographer tells us that little record
remains of the methods employed — nothing, in
fact, which shows that Mr. Hanna spent money. He
was no speaker, and yet something about him talked
so persuasively that long before the convention met
he had secured a large majority of delegates over
McKinley 's nearest competitor, Speaker Thomas B.
Reed. And there can be as little question of the
Major's personal popularity as of the willingness of
all those who came under Hanna's influence to re-
gard it as a duty to vote for him. Every one who be-
lieved in Protection must rally to support the em-
bodiment of that policy.
The development of the country since the Civil
War might be regarded, as I remarked earlier, as a
process of the creation and accumulation of wealth
to an unexampled amount. The ultimate question
was, — Who should own that wealth, how should it
be distributed? Should it build up a plutocracy or a
democracy? The suspicion grew that the people
140 JOHN HAY
were not getting their share in the distribution of
capital. The election of Cleveland indicated a gen-
eral discontent. The rise of Populism after 1890
brought forward the advocates of bizarre or half-
baked economic projects. One of these was the be-
lief that the free coinage of silver would enable the
poor man, by an unexplained jugglery, to transfer
into his own pocket some of the wealth of the rich
This heresy infected Republicans and Democrats
as well as the avowed Populists; and the Major, true
to his instinct for summing up the various elements
in the Republican Party, gave it a polite attention.
This was the only anxiety which troubled Hanna
during the last part of the canvass. He himself, as
capitalist and financier, preferred gold; but he re-
garded Protection as of primary importance. If
worse came to worst, tariff duties could be paid in
silver as fruitfully as in gold and the protected in-
dustries would still thrive; but if there were no tariff,
what would become of the protected industries? So
open-minded were both Hanna and the Major that
they left it for the Convention to decide whether
the candidate should stand on a gold or a silver
This brief and admittedly imperfect outline may
serve to trace the transition which took place in
MAJOR Mckinley 141
the Republican Party during the promotion of Mc-
Kinley's candidacy. Hay watched Hanna's venture
in hippodroming, much as a retired manager forty
years eadier may have watched Barnum's efforts to
capture the pubHc with a new and strange attrac-
tion. Hay apparently preferred McKinley, for he
wrote Mr. Adams on October 25, 1895: "I think
McKinley is much ' forrider ' than a few months ago.
The faithful think Foraker is pulling straight, and
there are anguilles sous roches that betoken an early
coUapseof other booms." ^ Hay could hardly foresee
however, that the rest of his career was bound up in
Another menace besides Free Silver alarmed the
conservatives of both parties during that winter. At
the end of 1895, President Cleveland, almost with-
out warning, hurled a defiant message at Great Brit-
ain, which had long been bickering with Venezuela
over their common frontier. The President declared
that England must arbitrate, and that the United
States would uphold the Monroe Doctrine against
all comers. The country stood breathless, convinced
that this meant war. Hay wrote to his brother-in-
law, Mr. Samuel Mather: "You are dead right. It is
^ General Joseph B. Foraker was another Ohio aspirant. The
allusion to the "eels under the rocks" seems to imply that Hanna's
intrigues were beginning to tell.
142 JOHN HAY
incumbent on all sane men to be very careful how
far they commit themselves to the support of one in
so disturbed state of mind as the President at this
moment. The man who could write so headlong a
message, and follow it a few days later with that
panicky cry for help from Congress — and then al-
low Carlisle to say that no help was needed, is a
most unsafe guide to follow." (December 31, 1895.)
The British did not desire war, and there was no
war; but the Monroe Doctrine remained, like a vol-
cano suddenly thrust up in mid-ocean athwart the
paths of half the world's ambitions.
Never disposed to join in factional wrangles. Hay
spent the summer of the campaign in Europe. The
following extract introduces another subject — the
Cuban insurrection, which Marshal Weyler was en-
deavoring to suppress.
To Henry Adams
Washington, April 17, 1896.
To you, O Globe Trotter, light of my lonely soul,
to whom all wisdom is an open scroll, and to whom
Truth is as easy as Sin : — Health and Prosperity.
With your usual unmerited luck you have got
Upper-deck room E, per Teutonic, May 20, while I,
merely because I am righteous and provident, stew
and stifle in a far forward kennel on the deck below.
MAJOR Mckinley 143
But a time will come — Tremblez, tyrans ! when an
outraged proletariat will have reason of your luxury
We are much the same. We and Maceo ^ larruped
los Senores Espanoles at La Chuza — which it would
have done your insurgent heart good to see it. Wey-
ler has been complaining all along that we would n't
stop and fight with him. So, just by way of a friendly
accommodation — not to spoil sport — Maceo at-
tacked the Alfonso Trece regiment and drove it seven
miles into the sea under cover of a gunboat. And
even yet Weyler does not seem happy.
During Hay's stay in England, however, he took
care to enlighten the British public as to McKinley's
prospects and deserts, and he used his personal influ-
ence to renew the friendly relations between England
and the United States which had been wrenched by
President Cleveland's Message on the Venezuela
On June 7, 1896, Hay writes from Paris to his wife
in Washington an account of his brief stay in London.
At a dinner-party, he says: —
"E. was placed between Joseph Chamberlain and
Sir William Harcourt, and had a very merry time.
Old Sir W. flirted with her in his most elephantine
^ Cuban insurrectionist.
144 JOHN HAY
manner, and occasionally he and C. would fight
across her, on politics, in a very savage though cour-
teous manner. It was a chance that a girl of her age
rarely gets to see the greatest politicians of the time
in their hours of ease.
"After dinner, in the smoking-room, I sat between
Lord C. and Chamberlain, and had some very inter-
esting talk with each of them. My talk with Cham-
berlain was especially important. I was urging him
to have the Venezuela question settled before Mc-
Kinley came in, and he said they were doing all they
could, but that Venezuela would not treat separately
now that she had been encouraged so by the United
States. He hopes that both countries may agree to
"My letter to the Times appears to have been
read more than anything I ever wrote. Everybody
I meet speaks of it — most with approval, but some
thinking I am wrong in being so sure of McKinley's
nomination. S. and the Herald have greatly influ-
enced people's minds against McKinley. But next
week will show them. In fact, the little Herald of
this morning virtually gives it up.
"The Chronicle was after me for several days for
an interview. I fought it off till the last day, and
then concluded I might as well say a good word for
McKinley. I inclose it to you. It is wrong in many
MAJOR Mckinley 145
particulars, but the general impression is all right.
I did it to reach the immense Radical constituency
of the Chronicle. It is Henry Norman's paper."
On returning to London, after a rapid trip through
France and North Italy to Venice, Hay caught up
with the latest political news from home. His letters
to Mr. Adams now are more bantering than ever,
because Mr. Adams, like Senator Cameron, was a
On July 26, Hay writes from Brown's Hotel,
London : —
To Henry Adams
One more human being I have seen, if it is proper
to call an argento-maniac human. Moreton Frewen ^
bore down on me in St. James's Street, looking very
well and prosperous, and grasped me by the hand,
and told me to put all my money on Bryan; that it
was a walk-over; that betting on Bryan was simply
picking up money. The cause of his rapture was that
he had just read that the Goldbug Democrats were
going to nominate another candidate. It is a good
working theory, I suppose, that the more candidates
a party has, the surer it is to win, but I am too old
and feeble to follow the argument. . . . All right! I
^ At that time the most conspicuous British advocate of bimetal-
146 JOHN HAY
have lived under many sorts of Presidents in my
time, and I can even stand a Boy Orator; but unless
he can show a left hind foot of a snow-white rabbit
killed in the dark of the moon by a black dog I am
not going to waste my money betting on him.
To Mrs. Hay he sent further news of his last days
in London : —
H. M. S. Teutonic, July 31, 1896.
Monday I called at the Embassy. Mr. Bayard
was away, and Robert Roosevelt asked me if I would
like to go to the House of Commons, where he had
an engagement to meet General G. I accepted with
alacrity, and went down at once. He got us excellent
seats in the front row of the gallery. We heard the
questions and answers, and then heard speeches by
Labouchere, Curzon, and Harcourt on the Uganda
Bill, which were extremely interesting. Roosevelt
then told me Sir Wm. Harcourt and Balfour ^ both
wanted to see us. So we went to Harcourt' s room
(he has a room to himself as leader of the Opposition)
and saw him and Balfour for a few minutes. It
turned out that they had nothing to say to G. (not
knowing him), but both were anxious to talk to me
about McKinley and Venezuela. I had a talk with
1 Mr. Balfour was then First Lord of the Treasury.
MAJOR Mckinley 147
Balfour, and Sir Wm. made an appointment with me
at B.'s for the next day. He went at once into the
matter. Balfour had told him nearly every word I
had said, and he had remembered it all. These Eng-
lish public men have wonderful memories. We had a
talk of an hour of great interest and importance. He
thinks the Venezuela matter ought to be settled now.
He asked me to say to Chamberlain and Curzon what
I had said to him. He thought it would do a great
deal of good.
In urging British public men to settle the Vene-
zuela dispute as soon as possible. Hay was perform-
ing a patriotic duty; for he warned them not to
expect that a Republican administration would dis-
avow President Cleveland's stand in the matter.
From the steamer, as he neared home, he wrote
another amusing letter to Mr. Adams.
To Henry Adams
H. M. S. Teutonic, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 1896.
The days have been gray and muggy ; the air clasps
you like an affectionate devil-fish. The boat is filled
with highly respectable New York Democrats who
say they are going to vote for McKinley, and then go
below and are sick at the thought of it. Poor things!
I am sorry for them — I, who would die for Mc-
148 JOHN HAY
Kinley and the Old Flag. Why can't they vote for
him and like it? . . .
At the Embassy in London there was the same
wail of despair. Bayard ^ was away, but R. and W.
and C. were howling for McKinley, at the same time
feeling that they were periling their souls' salvation
by it. Mr. Bryan has much to answer for, driving
so many great and good people into the support of
On the other hand, whisper it soft and low, a good
many worthy Republicans are scared blue, along of
the Baby Orator of the Platte. Even my sanguine
G. was far from chortling when I saw him in London.
I am still cheerful, but even in my dauntless ear there
murmurs the fragment of an old Saga which says:
" In politics the appeal to the lower motives is gen-
erally for the moment successful." What if the
Baby Demosthenes should get in with this pro-
gramme: Free silver; abolition of Supreme Court;
abolition of national banks ; confiscation of railroads
and telegraphs! Add to this such trifles as making
Debs Attorney- General, and you or Brooks Secretary
Please buy me a house in Surrey, and a couple of
palaces in Venice — name of Bryan Debs Smith, if
you please. It is well to be ready for contingencies.
^ Thomas F. Bayard, American Ambassador in London.
MAJOR McKINLEY 149
But shadows avaunt! We are going to elect the
Major if it takes a leg — and then you will all be
happy, even the perverse and the fro ward. . . .
I have been reading Shelley. He seems to have had
a certain faculty of writing verse. If it had not been
for that, he would have made a good candidate for
During Hay's absence, the Republican Conven-
tion met at St. Louis and Mr. Hanna produced Mr.
McKinley, who was nominated on the first ballot.
The platform, thanks to the efforts of some Eastern
delegates, declared in favor of a gold standard. At
Chicago, three weeks later, the Democrats nominated
Mr. William J. Bryan, a comparatively unknown
politician, who carried the convention by storm by
denouncing the tyranny of gold. "You shall not press
down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns!"
he shouted in concluding his speech. "You shall not
crucify mankind upon a cross of gold!" An assem-
bly, or a party, which allows itself to be the victim
of such a metaphor is as much to be pitied as the
children whom the Pied Piper conjured, without re-
turn, into the mountain.
The silver men bolted from the Republican Party,
and the Gold Democrats nominated General John
M. Palmer in the hope of drawing votes away from
150 JOHN HAY
Br>'an. So the Republicans, instead of being com-
pelled to make another fight in behalf of Protection,
with Major McKinley to lead them, were forced to
defend "honest money" during this campaign.
When he reached New York, Hay reported to Mr.
Henry White in London: —
"I find the feeling a little nervous, unnecessarily
so, I think. I talked with Hanna and some of the
Executive Committee, and while there is nothing
like dread of defeat, there is a clear comprehension
that [Bryan] will get the votes of a good many others
of his kind, and that it will require more work than
we thought necessary last spring to beat him. But
the work will be done and he will drop into congenial
oblivion next November.
"I had a long and serious talk with Sir William
Harcourt by his own appointment, the day before
I left, in which he referred, as you do, to the idea
the government seem to have, of the advisability of
delay. I assured him, almost in your very words,
that it was a great mistake: that McKinley could
not yield on such a position taken by Cleveland."
(August 5, 1896.)
Until the end of the summer the Republicans
Imagined that they could win with ease. But Mr.
Bryan's personal canvass, unparalleled till then in the
MAJOR Mckinley 151
number of speeches made and the distances traveled
by the candidate, was beginning to cause alarm by
September 8th, when Hay wrote to Mr. Adams: —
"What a dull and serious campaign we are having !
The Boy Orator makes only one speech — but he
makes it twice a day. There is no fun in it. He sim-
ply reiterates the unquestioned truths that every
man who has a clean shirt is a thief and ought to be
hanged ; that there is no goodness or wisdom except
among the illiterate and criminal classes; that gold is
vile; that silver is lovely and holy; in short, very
much such speeches as you would make if you were
here. He has succeeded in scaring the Goldbugs out
of their five wits; if he had scared them a little, they
would have come down handsome to Hanna. But he
has scared them so blue that they think they had
better keep what they have got left in their pockets
against the evil day. Your friend George Fred Wil-
liams ^ weeps in public over the wickedness of the
Goldbugs and does not appear to get reconciled to
the [kicks] which they are giving him. He is, so far
as I know, the only blossom of the Mugwump garden
who has gone wrong this year."
On October 4 Hay writes again in his bantering
^ Former Democratic Congressman from Massachusetts who
joined the Bryan party.
152 JOHN HAY
''What you say about the Majah is all I could ask,
but the way you say it pains me. Your head is right,
as usual; but how about your heart? Is it up to the
G.^ test? Would you die for the Majah? If you will
do that, and send a certificate, you will be all right.
We really cannot admit any less rigorous test. W.,^
I think, would. I know Cleveland would, and Olney.
Cabot and Teddy have been to Canton to offer their
heads to the ax and their tummies to the hara-kiri
knife. He has asked me to come, but I had thought
I would not struggle with the millions on his tram-
pled lawn. Still, if you will go with me, and offer to
pour out the bluest blood of your veins, I will go."
A fortnight later (October 20th), writing from
Cleveland, Hay sends this significant letter. He had
taken the stump for the Republican ticket, and had
conferred, by invitation, with Major McKinley, who,
throughout the campaign, stayed at his home in
Canton, Ohio, and there received visiting delegations
and individuals on his lawn: —
"The days succeed and resemble each other con-
siderably. Cleveland has ceased the ennobling pur-
suit of the dollar (37 1 J grains fine), and has given
itself over to two weeks' debauch of politics. No
business is done in the mart. We roughen our
throats all night shouting for the Majah. The ante-
1 Gilderian. ' Wayne MacVeagh.
MAJOR McKINLEY 153
election scare which I have observed with more or
less detachment for twenty years has set in with
unusual vigor. Most of my friends think Bryan will
be elected and we shall all be hanged to the lampions
of Euclid Avenue. I have not yet made up my mind
to this. When I do, I shall change my politics and
try to placate the mob by saying I am next-door
neighbor to your brother Brooks's brother. I spent
yesterday with the Majah. I had been dreading it
for a month, thinking it would be like talking in a
boiler-factory. But he met me at the station, gave
me meat, and, calmly leaving his shouting worship-
ers in the front yard, took me upstairs and talked
for two hours as calmly and serenely as if we were
summer boarders in Beverly at a loss for means to
kill time. I was more struck than ever with his mask.
It is a genuine Italian ecclesiastical face of the fif-
teenth century. And there are idiots who think
Mark Hanna will run him !
''You are making the mistake of your life in not
reading my speech. There is good stuff in it — to
live and to die by. If you read it in a reverent and
prayerful spirit, it might make you a postmaster.
You are not interested in political news. If you were,
I would give you a pointer. The Majah has a cinch
— and don't you forget it."
On January 26, 1897 Hay went to Canton by ap-
154 JOHN HAY
pointment with the President-elect. In a brief mem-
orandum he says: — "Hanna at the house . . . talk
from 1 1 till I. . . . [McKinley] was called away to the
telephone. Kohlsaat ^ wanted to talk with him. He
came back saying K. was dancing with delight over
the reception of the Gage ^ appointment. Hanna
said, 'He need n't claim that. I discovered Gage.'
McK. said, ' I don't care who claims it, if it is a good
thing.' He then told me what remarkable support
it was getting all over the country. P. Morgan, Sim-
mons, B"^^ of Trade, politicians, etc., from one end
of the country to the other.
"He then discussed fully the rest of the Cabinet
as contemplated. State, Sherman. Treasury, Gage.
War, Alger. Navy, Long."
About this time the rumor spread that Mr. Hay
had accepted either a Cabinet position or an Am-
bassadorship. As late as February 25th the situa-
tion, as he described it in a letter to his brother-in-
law, was as follows : —
To Samuel Mather
Washington, Feb. 25, '97.
. . . Smalley was too previous with his announce-
ment. The place has neither been accepted nor
1 Herman H. Kohlsaat, editor of the Chicago Times-Herald.
* Lyman J. Gage, Chicago banker.
MAJOR McKINLEY 155
offered. I have received an intimation that the Presi-
dent thinks of sending me to England but he has not
made the offer in so many words. I am not worrying
him nor myself about it. I have done all I could for
Whitelaw Reid and have reason to think he has been
offered the place and declined it. I have allowed
nobody, so far as I know, to worry McKinley in the
We are getting very anxious about his cold. It
would be a grievous disappointment if he should be
compelled to take the oath in his bedroom in Canton.
The outcome of the Bushnell-Hanna complication
is most gratifying. It is the sensation of the state.
Knowing Mr. Reid's appetite for high places, we
doubt whether the English mission was offered to
him. The reference to the Bushnell-Hanna affair re-
calls one of the most shocking examples of political
cynicism in modern American history. McKinley
desired to take Hanna, to whom he owed every-
thing, into the Cabinet; but Hanna was too astute
to run the risk of frittering away his ascendency in
a position which afforded little scope for his pecu-
liar talents and was likely to be transient. He in-
sisted, therefore, upon going to the Senate, where he
would be virtually assured of a life tenure. But
there was no vacancy in the Senate from Ohio.
156 JOHN HAY
McKInley demanded therefore that John Sherman
should resign from the Senate and accept the Secre-
taryship of State. Thereupon Governor Bushnell of
Ohio appointed Hanna to Sherman's seat, and later
the appointment was confirmed by the Ohio Legis-
lature, though not without difficulty. To force the
venerable Sherman, whose powers were already fail-
ing, into the most important office after that of the
President himself, showed a disregard of common
decency not less than of the safety of the nation.
As soon as President McKinley was inaugurated,
he announced that he had appointed John Hay
Ambassador to Great Britain — an announcement
which caused general satisfaction throughout this
country, for he was experienced, he had not been
identified with any Republican faction, and he was
popularly thought of rather as a statesman than as a
HAY went to England gladly. He had many
acquaintances there, both in political and
social life. He knew the ways of diplomacy. Not
only his own experience in subordinate diplomatic
positions, but also his long study of Lincoln's admin-
istration had given him the best possible insight into
statesmanship in action. He found, as every intel-
lectual man must find, the ceremonial of office tedi-
ous. But it had large compensations in the access
which it opened to the rulers of an empire, to ques-
tions of world-wide significance and to patriotic ser-
vice of the highest kind.
On April 6, 1897, ^^ writes from New York to the
First Secretary of the London Embassy ; —
To Henry White
I see by to-day's papers you have arrived, and
have already taken over the Embassy. I see also
that Mr. Bayard ^ is booked for an ovation on the
7th of May. I do not know quite what that means,
or how long he is to be in London before he gets
^ The farewell ovation to Mr. Bayard took place on that date.
158 JOHN HAY
his loving-cup. But all this can be left until I see
I have already declined four public dinners and
speeches. I hope, if you are consulted in regard to any
invitations to such functions, that you will, where it
is practicable, dissuade our kind friends from sending
such invitations. I do not intend to begin a cam-
paign of speech-making the moment I land, and I
should much prefer not to be asked.
I have promised Mr. Murray to say a few words at
the unveiling of the bust of Scott in Westminster
Abbey in May. Please regard this as confidential
until Mr. Murray himself makes it public. Arthur
Balfour is to make the principal address.
He arrived in England on April 21 and dreaded
the public reception which threatened him.
To Samuel Mather
U.S.M.S. St. Paul, April 21.
My dear Sam: —
Here we are at the end of our journey, just enter-
ing Southampton Water. I quake a little in the knees
and pale a little about the gills as I am informed the
Mayor and Corporation of Southampton are to meet
us at the dock and make me an address of welcome
and flapdoodle. If they stop at that I will be happy
HAY'S AMBASSADORSHIP 159