Arthur Wallace Dunn.

From Harrison to Harding, a personal narrative, covering a third of a century, 1888-1921 online

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and to each of them Bryan raised an objection which he
said was fatal. Finally, one of the committee said:

"Mr. Bryan, we have suggested every man that we
could think of, hoping to find a man you would support.
Will you tell us frankly if there is any man whom you
would support?"

"How would OUie James do?" asked Bryan.

Then the committee, and every man to whom they


" If I Am the Candidate " 47

told the story, knew that Bryan must be the

Following Bryan's return from his trip abroad he had
a way of happening into a city or state just when plans
were being formulated to elect delegates antagonistic
to him. In most cases he was able to frustrate aU such
attempts and put his opponents to flight or on the
defensive. To oppose Bryan in those days was almost
Democratic treason.

It was while Bryan was on one of these missions in a
southern state that I heard him use the expression :

"If I am the candidate."

I knew he was the candidate at the time, which made
his remarks aU the more interesting.

It happened at one of those social functions which
occasionally develop into a political discussion. All but
one of the twenty-four men present were southerners
and Democrats.

"If I am the candidate, it will not be necessary to
make a declaration in favor of government ownership,"
Bryan was saying. "It is not opportune now to put
that in the platform."

"But why did you say anything about it?" asked
Senator Daniel of Virginia. "You are the candidate,
why did you want to make a declaration which was so
obnoxious to the people of the South? "

"I just said, 'If I am the candidate,'" said Bryan.
"I do not know yet whether I shall be the candidate,
but if I am the candidate, my position is too well known
for me to dodge. When John Sharp Williams came to

48 From Harrison to Harding

see me in London he urged me to avoid all reference to
government ownership in any speeches I made. "When
I made my Madison Square Garden speech I said I was
for government ownership. If I had followed Wil-
liams's suggestion and if I were the candidatej I would
be asked on every stump if I had changed my opinion,
and I would be forced to declare for government owner-
ship and unnecessarily make it an issue in the

There followed quite an extensive discussion of govern-
ment ownership, in which governors of several states

"You of the South," declared Bryan, "are opposed
to government ownership because you are afraid your
Jim Crow laws against the negroes will be abolished by
the general government. As if," he scornfully con-
tinued, "your personal objections to riding with negroes
should interfere with a great national reform. But I
tell you that government ownership should not be an
issue now. We must wait to see how government
regulation works out.

"You people also complain because I have declared
for the initiative and referendum. That ought to be
an issue, ' ' asserted Bryan. ' ' I will drive every man out
of the Democratic party who does not support it."

"Mr. Bryan," almost wailed ex-Senator Berry of
Arkansas, "I want to live long enough to see another
Democratic President, but I am afraid you are making
it impossible. Why can't you leave these impossible
issues and stick to those upon which you can win? "

"If I Am the Candidate" 49

"Win! Win!" exclaimed Bryan. "That's it! You
want to win ! You would sacrifice principle for success.
I would not. I would not desire to be elected if the
principles I stand for were not incorporated in the plat-
form. I am not sure that defeat is not better than
victory, if victory comes with the sacrifice of principles.
What an empty thing victory would have been in 1904
when so many of the principles of the party had been
sacrificed. I intend, if I am the candidate, that the
principles shall be preserved."

"But some of the things you have stood for in the
past have proved to be wrong," said Senator Daniel,
"and you may be wrong again."

"I have always been right," asserted Bryan.

Well, there was a lot more discussion, with Bryan
against all the others. And though they agreed with
him on scarcely anything, they knew he would be
nominated in 1908, and that he would have the dele-
gates from the states of the South.

"What's the use? " afterwards asked Governor Swan-
son of Virginia, one of the shrewdest politicians in
the group. "Bryan is sure to be nominated, and
sure to be defeated. Let us hope that will end him
and that we can then elect another man four years

Sometime later I was telling James K. Jones, who
managed two Bryan campaigns, of the occurrence just
related, and he said:

"That is just like Bryan. He was a very difiicult
man to work with in a campaign. He was wayward

VOL. 11—4

50 From Harrison to Harding

and dictatorial, and 'always right,' just as you heard
him declare."

Not long afterwards I met Judge Alton B. Parker on
a train, and in stating that Bryan would be the candi-
date of the Democratic party for the third time, I
mentioned the rather remarkable fact that in seven
Presidential campaigns the Democrats had had but
three candidates; that Cleveland was three times the
nominee and Bryan would have the same distinction.
Then Judge Parker quoted a statement made by Cleve-
land a short time before, when speaking of Bryan :

"It is not because Bryan stings and stings me like a
gnat or a fly at every opportunity that I dislike the
man," Cleveland said. "That is only a personal an-
noyance. But Bryan is a constant menace to the
country. His perpetual candidacy will prevent the
Democrats from winning an election, and the coun-
try suffers from long continued control by the

An amusing incident of the preliminary campaign
happened at one of the many Bryan dinners in a
southern state. One of those voluble, enthusiastic
individuals, with a gift for mal d, propos remarks, glibly
advised Bryan to ask the next Democratic convention
to nominate Theodore Roosevelt for President. In
reply Bryan rather grimly remarked:

"As at present advised I will not ask the Democratic
national convention to name Roosevelt for President."

While the nomination of Bryan seemed a foregone
conclusion, there was at times an effort made by Demo-

"If I Am the Candidate" 51

crats who did not want him to secure another candidate.
Judge George Gray of Delaware was brought forward,
but he was open to the charge of disloyalty to Bryan
in 1896, besides coming from a small eastern state. In
other sections where efforts were made to pave the way
for anti-Bryan delegates, they were frustrated by Bryan
appearing in the community for the purpose of deliver-
ing a lecture or an address. Before he left the in-
cipient anti-Bryan movement was snuflfed out.

The most formidable candidate appearing in the
arena was Governor John A. Johnson of Minnesota. He
had supported Bryan twice, had been elected Governor
twice in a RepubHcan state, and was equipped with
every attribute of a vote getter. He was a Scandinavian,
and Republican Scandinavians elected him Governor.
It was figured out that there were enough Scandina-
vian votes in the northern states to make his election

Soon after Johnson's name had been mentioned he
became very prominent. Then from Bryan's friends
came the charge that he was "Jim Hill's candidate."
This was soon repudiated, but it became evident that
Bryan would not consent to Johnson's nomination.

"John," I said to him one day, for we had long been
close personal friends, "if you are nominated, Bryan
won't let you win the election. He will defeat you just
as he defeated Parker."

"If I am nominated, I'll run a different campaign
than that of Parker in 1904," replied Johnson. "I
won't take nine baths a day in the Hudson and say the

52 From Harrison to Harding

party is clean, and let it go at that. If I am nomi-
nated, I'll take Bryan into the campaign with me and
he'll have to show his hand in every state."

Johnson's remark about "baths in the Hudson" had
reference to the daily report from Esopus, N. Y., dur-
ing the summer of 1904, that Judge Parker was taking
a swim in the Hudson River.

Judge George Gray of Delaware consented to the use
of his name as a candidate on the Democratic ticket.
Like Governor Johnson the Judge was not frightened by
the fact that any man who dared to oppose Bryan was
likely to be charged with being a "tool of the interests,"
"Wall Street's man," or branded in similar terms as
unfit to be the Democratic nominee.

There was another interesting phase of the prelimi-
nary Democratic campaign, besides that of Bryan's
sudden appearances in commimities where opposition
to him was developing. When a Democrat who was a
Senator or Representative showed a tendency to oppose
Bryan, or countenanced a movement for the election of
delegates opposed to Bryan, he would soon find that a
candidate had entered his field who was shouting
loyalty to the Nebraskan ; and the new man would make
such headway that the man in office was forced to de-
clare for Bryan as a matter of self-preservation. To be
suspected of disloyalty to Bryan in those days was al-
most like buying a ticket to private life. Bryan was as
popular with the masses of Democrats as Roosevelt
was with the masses of Republicans.

Bryan allowed the discussion of candidates to go on

" If I Am the Candidate " 53

until the middle of November in 1907, when he made a
public statement to the effect that, while he would make
no eflEort to obtain the nomination, if the party wanted
him he was willing to accept the nomination.

There was no wild enthusiasm for Taft as the Re-
publican candidate, yet everybody was well aware that
no other candidate could be named so long as Roose-
velt was supporting Taft and efforts were renewed
from time to time to make Roosevelt the candidate.

"We would rather have four years more of Roose-
velt than a man whom Roosevelt would boss for four
years. Besides, we know Roosevelt and we don't
know Taft."

That was to a great extent the idea of standpat-
ters. They knew what Taft had said in his speech
at Bath, Maine, and feared that Taft meant a radical
reduction of the tariff. They knew that, although
Roosevelt had in talk threatened tariff revision, he
never sent in a message on that subject.

Owing to the renewed talk of a third term Roosevelt
republished and reiterated his statement, made on the
night of the election in 1904, that under no circum-
stances would he again be a candidate or accept a
nomination, for President.

Much of the third term talk was kept up by the "fair-
haired boys." These were a group of journalistic ad-
mirers of Roosevelt, who frequented the White House
and wrote articles in praise of the President.

The "fair-haired boys" must be differentiated from
the "tennis cabinet." The latter were the President's

54 From Harrison to Harding

"second line of advice," ranking below Cabinet officers,
but officeholders ever ready to be on hand when the
President wanted to play tennis, take a long ramble, or
in any other way sought entertainment. The prin-
cipal members of the "tennis cabinet" were Gifford
Pinchot, James R. Garfield, and Lawrence Murray.
Tennis was the popular game at the White House while
Roosevelt was President. The French Ambassador
was frequently one of the players.

Here is one of the best of the ' ' tennis cabinet ' ' stories :

Lou Payn went to Washington one day and visited
the White House. Now, Lou Payn was an elderly
gentleman, dapper and small, always dressed to the
minute with gloves, tie, socks, walking stick, blending
and harmonizing like a fashion plate. But he was a
"bad man." He was one of the small bosses up-state
in New York, and so bad a small boss that Roosevelt
when Governor removed him from the office of
Insurance Commissioner, notwithstanding the pro-
tests of Tom Piatt, Ben Odell, Bill Barnes, and other
members of the New York political machine.

Great was the surprise then, when Lou Payn called
at the White House; not only called, but had a long
talk with the President. It was quite a sensation.

Later in the day M. Jusserand telephoned to inquire
if the President desired to play tennis that afternoon.

"Tell the Ambassador I cannot play to-day," said
Roosevelt to the secretary who brought the message,
and then turning to the man with whom he was talking,
he said:

" If I Am the Candidate " 55

"1 spent an hour or two with Lou Payn to-day, and
to assure Pinchot thf t I have not suffered any con-
tamination I must go and have a long walk with him."

The ultra reformers, the truly good, who were so
averse to politicians that they could not tolerate them,
who never thought public positions were honestly ad-
ministered unless they, the reformers, held the offices,
were often pained on account of Roosevelt's association
with Tom Piatt, Bill Barnes, Boies Penrose, and many
other purely political politicians, who did not even pre-
tend to be good. They feared that the President
would become contaminated. And they will never
know that Roosevelt was a better politician than any of
the bosses.

"I work with such tools as come to my hand," the
President once told me, when this subject was men-
tioned. "I am not going to quarrel with Piatt or any
other man. I am going as far as I can in working with
the big and little bosses in every state. All I ask of
them is that they recommend to me honest men, and I
will appoint such men to office when I can."

These poHticians seldom recommended the truly
good for positions, those men who always bolted the
party when they were dissatisfied, consequently a large
ntmiber of this class feared that Roosevelt was often in
dangerous company, and subject to a great deal of bad
advice on account of his associations.

A sort of adjunct to those who were voluntarily as-
sisting Roosevelt to be President was developed in a
so-called ' ' People' s Lobby. ' ' This organization carried

56 From Harrison to Harding

many distinguished names among its oiScers and di-
rectors. Its announced object was to "lobby for the
people," to tell the Congress what legislation ought to
be passed and what should be defeated.

Just think of it! Here was an organization, com-
posed of men who had no experience in legislation, living
for the most part quiet and retired lives among their
books, which assumed to tell Congress, composed of
Senators and Representatives from every section of the
country, what the people wanted.

It was used by the officeholders, just as any other
organization would be used by shrewd men. The
"People's Lobby" boosted most of the Administration
policies and helped to kill oflE opponents of the
Administration who were becoming obnoxious.

During the summer Vice President Fairbanks be-
came a victim of one of the fool-friends that afflict men
in high station. President Roosevelt was passing
through Indiana on one of his many trips, and stopped
at Indianapolis where he was entertained at luncheon
by the Vice President. The fool-friend of Fairbanks
thought that the luncheon was incomplete without
cocktails and ordered them sent from one of the saloons,
and there on the Vice President's table when the guests
assembled were the cocktails. President Roosevelt
drank the one in front of him, as did other guests who
were so inclined.

The capriciousness of the public was shown in the
fact that there was no general condemnation of Roose-
velt for drinking the cocktail, but the temperance

" If I Am the Candidate " 57

societies severely condemned Vice President Fairbanks
for having cocktails on his table. More than that, the
Methodist Church refused to send Fairbanks, who
never took a drink of anything spirituous, to the Metho-
dist council, but did send Senator Beveridge.

It is almost a tragedy, the way Fairbanks got the
worst end of little things. He was cartooned as an icicle,
and paragraphists devoted much space to quips about
his secretive and reticent manner. As in the cocktail
incident, he suffered for much without reason while
others went scot free.

"Speak softly and carry a big stick," was one of the
phrases that President Roosevelt made famous — a
phrase coined when urging greater naval preparation.
Thereafter the "Big Stick ' ' became a part of the Roose-
velt collection of uniques. Probably no other object has
figured so much in the cartoons as this Roosevelt weapon.

No doubt the President had something like the "Big
Stick " in mind when he sent the fleet of sixteen battle-
ships around the world. Previous to the sailing of the
fleet Japan had expressed dissatisfaction with our ob-
jection to Japanese laborers in this country and the
efforts of California to deny Japanese the privileges of
the pubHc schools. It was asserted by the Administra-
tion in the most emphatic terms that the fleet was
going on a purely friendly mission, but it was well
understood that the real object was to give the Japanese
and the rest of the world an opportunity to see that the

58 From Harrison to Harding

About the time that the fleet was sent around the
world President Roosevelt introduced an innovation
which stirred the Navy deeply and caused the retire-
ment of Admiral Brownson as Chief of the Bureau of
Navigation. The President ordered a surgeon of the
Navy to take command of a hospital ship, whereupon
line officers made a vigorous protest against the assign-
ment of any staff officer to a position of command at
sea. It was a warm controversy while it lasted, but of
course the President had his way as Commander-in-
Chief of the Army and Navy.

There was one other matter in regard to the Navy in
which he did not have his way. He ordered the
Marines off the ships, but was overruled by Congress.
A provision was inserted in an appropriation bill, which
Roosevelt had to sign, restoring the Marines to the
ships. The Marines had friends in Congress, in fact
they are stronger with the legislative branch of the
government than either the Army or the Navy. In
every measure designed to increase the personnel and
efficiency of the Navy the Marines always secure more
advancement than the larger arm of the sea-fighting

Roosevelt endeared himself to the young men of the
country by the interest he took in sports and every-
thing that pertained to young men. "Don't foul!
don't flinch! Hit the line hard," he once told a group
of young men. His contempt for "mollycoddles"
aroused the unbounded enthusiasm of every virile
young man or boy.

" If I Am the Candidate " 59

Taking such an interest in football as to have the
committee on the rules of the game meet with him at
the White House was very characteristic of the Presi-
dent. His delight in a good boxing match, and all
contests involving strength, skill and courage endeared
him to the younger element in the nation. And so,
when he summoned the celebrated Japanese wrestler to
the White House and had a wrestling match in the East
Room of that historic edifice, the youth of the land met
every criticism by echoing the President's own "bully ! "
uttered so frequently when he was well pleased.



Relations between Executive and Legislative Branches Strained —
Rejection of the Pour-Battleship Plan — Rhode Island Senator the
Leader of the Senate— "Third House" Composed of Governors a

T EGISLATION and politics were freely mixed in the
■*^ session in December, 1907. There was the usual
demand for tariflE reyision, but announcements were
made by the Republicans that tariff revision would be
postponed until after the Presidential election. This
did not stop the agitation for immediate action for free
pulp and newsprint paper which had been so forcefully
urged by the newspapers of the country. In fact the
demand for free pulp and paper had more to do with
forcing a promise of tariff revision than anything else.
James R. Mann, as chairman of a special committee,
made an exhaustive inquiry and report on the subject,
and thus formed the basis of a stronger demand for a great
reduction of duty, if not free trade in pulp and paper.
When the clamor for tariflE revision was at its height
Speaker Cannon put an end to the speculation by say-
ing that no action would be taken during that Congress,
and Uncle Joe was then at the summit of his power in
the House.


President Differs with Congress 6i

It was a session of many messages. The President
outlined enough work for Congress to keep it busy for
ten years, and before one message was fully digested
he would send in another. Some of these messages
showed that he was fighting hard for his policies, and
occasionally he would take a shot at his critics.

In some way there was a belief among the Demo-
crats that Roosevelt was really playing for a third term.
To forestall anything of the kind an effort was made to
pass an anti-third-term resolution in the House. Henry
D. Clayton of Alabama had the resolution in charge
and worked industriously to bring it to a vote, but the
Republicans would not permit it to reach that stage.

Roosevelt was frequently the subject of bitter
attacks in Congress, particularly in the Senate. De-
mocratic Senators who had stood by him in the Browns-
ville affair, and had been severely criticized for so doing,
seemed to be trying to equalize the situation by vitriolic
assaults upon the occupant of the White House. In-
cidentally there were many Republicans who thoroughly
enjoyed the attacks upon the President. Senator Bailey
of Texas in one of the discussions of Roosevelt said :

"If he were a better man, he would be a Democrat.
... He is a mixture of good and bad. He may be
brave, but he is as rash as he is brave. He is said to be
honest, but he is as arbitrary as he is honest. ... He
has done more to change the character and structure
of the government than all of his predecessors

Among other severe critics of Roosevelt were Senator

62 From Harrison to Harding

Rayner of Maryland, Senator Culberson of Texas, and
Senator Tillman, of course. Rayner often spoke of
"presidential usurpation" and "executive dictation."
His frequent attacks on Roosevelt indicated personal
as well as political antipathy.

Senator Simmons of North Carolina was another
vigorous critic of "rule from the White House, which
was so apparent in Congress."

Roosevelt did not remain silent under these criticisms,
and sometimes hit back in messages or in letters to
personal friends which were made public.

It was during his last year in the White House that
Roosevelt made his great fight for a naval program of
four battleships a year. He sent a special message to
Congress pointing out the necessity for such increased
construction in order that the country might be ade-
quately prepared. He wanted a large naA^ to insure
peace. Not to provide it was "mischievous folly."
The answer of the House of Representatives came the
next day when two battleships were voted, while the
four-battleship plan was overwhelmingly defeated. The
Republican leaders who opposed the President were
Cannon, Tawney, Burton, Poss, Payne, Dalzell and
Bartholdt, all men of long service and recognized
leaders. Tawney, in fighting the program, made the
assertion that seventy-two per cent of the revenues
of government were used to pay for wars past or in
preparation for war.

Roosevelt carried the fight for four battleships to the
Senate. His champion in that body was Senator Bev-

President Differs with Congress 63

eridge. The Indiana Senator was earnest, alert, and
constantly in the debate, but his manner, and his un-
popularity among his fellow Senators, did more harm
than his championship did good. Lodge and other
personal friends of the President could not be followers
oi Beveridge.

Opposition to the four-battleship plan was lead by
Aldrich, Allison and Hale, and it was defeated by more
than two to one in the Senate.

Senator Aldrich's power in the Senate, despite his
antagonism to Roosevelt's policies, or most of them, was
surprising. Aldrich had been a leader for years, not
only on account of his ability, but because of his close
attention to everything pertaining to the Senate. He
was always in the Senate or near at hand, and he al-
ways knew what was going on, either by personal ob-
servation or through the activities of a number of
lieutenants who were glad to help him.

Aldrich early in his senatorial career secured a place on
the Finance Committee, which gave him prominence,
particularly when the membership of that powerful
committee was limited to eleven members. He was

Online LibraryArthur Wallace DunnFrom Harrison to Harding, a personal narrative, covering a third of a century, 1888-1921 → online text (page 4 of 29)