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Philip Dru Administrator : a Story of Tomorrow 1920 - 1935 online

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interests he represented. He had a marvelous aptitude for political
manipulation and organization, and he forged a subtle chain with which
to hold in subjection the natural impulses of the people. His plan was
simple, but behind it was the cunning of a mind that had never known
defeat. There was no man in either of the great political parties that
was big enough to cope with him or to unmask his methods.

Up to the advent of Senator Selwyn, the interests
had not successfully concealed their hands. Sometimes
the public had been mistaken as to the true
character of their officials, but sooner or later the truth had
developed, for in most instances, wealth was openly for or against
certain men and measures. But the adroit Selwyn moved differently.

His first move was to confer with John Thor, the high priest of finance,
and unfold his plan to him, explaining how essential was secrecy. It was
agreed between them that it should be known to the two of them only.

Thor's influence throughout commercial America was absolute. His wealth,
his ability and even more the sum of the capital he could control
through the banks, trust companies and industrial organizations, which
he dominated, made his word as potent as that of a monarch.

He and Selwyn together went over the roll and selected the thousand that
were to give each ten thousand dollars. Some they omitted for one
reason or another, but when they had finished they had named those who
could make or break within a day any man or corporation within their
sphere of influence. Thor was to send for each of the thousand and
compliment him by telling him that there was a matter, appertaining to
the general welfare of the business fraternity, which needed twenty
thousand dollars, that he, Thor, would put up ten, and wanted him to put
up as much, that sometime in the future, or never, as the circumstances
might require, would he make a report as to the expenditure and purpose
therefor.

There were but few men of business between the Atlantic and Pacific, or
between Canada and Mexico, who did not consider themselves fortunate in
being called to New York by Thor, and in being asked to join him in a
blind pool looking to the safe-guarding of wealth. Consequently, the
amassing of this great corruption fund in secret was simple. If
necessity had demanded it twice the sum could have been raised. The
money when collected was placed in Thor's name in different banks
controlled by him, and Thor, from time to time, as requested by Selwyn,
placed in banks designated by him whatever sums were needed. Selwyn then
transferred these amounts to the private bank of his son-in-law, who
became final paymaster. The result was that the public had no chance of
obtaining any knowledge of the fund or how it was spent.

The plan was simple, the result effective. Selwyn had no one to
interfere with him. The members of the pool had contributed blindly to
Thor, and Thor preferred not to know what Selwyn was doing nor how he
did it. It was a one man power which in the hands of one possessing
ability of the first class, is always potent for good or evil.

Not only did Selwyn plan to win the Presidency, but he also planned to
bring under his control both the Senate and the Supreme Court. He
selected one man in each of thirty of the States, some of them belonging
to his party and some to the opposition, whom he intended to have run
for the Senate.

If he succeeded in getting twenty of them elected, he counted upon
having a good majority of the Senate, because there were already
thirty-eight Senators upon whom he could rely in any serious attack upon
corporate wealth.

As to the Supreme Court, of the nine justices there were three that were
what he termed "safe and sane," and another that could be counted upon
in a serious crisis.

Three of them, upon whom he could not rely, were of advanced age, and it
was practically certain that the next President would have that many
vacancies to fill. Then there would be an easy working majority.

His plan contemplated nothing further than this. His intention was to
block all legislation adverse to the interests. He would have no new
laws to fear, and of the old, the Supreme Court would properly interpret
them.

He did not intend that his Senators should all vote alike, speak alike,
or act from apparently similar motives. Where they came from States
dominated by corporate wealth, he would have them frankly vote in the
open, and according to their conviction.

When they came from agricultural States, where the sentiment was known
as "progressive," they could cover their intentions in many ways. One
method was by urging an amendment so radical that no honest progressive
would consent to it, and then refusing to support the more moderate
measure because it did not go far enough. Another was to inject some
clause that was clearly unconstitutional, and insist upon its adoption,
and refusing to vote for the bill without its insertion.

Selwyn had no intention of letting any one Senator know that he
controlled any other senator. There were to be no caucuses, no
conferences of his making, or anything that looked like an organization.
He was the center, and from him radiated everything appertaining to
measures affecting "the interests."



CHAPTER XII

SELWYN SEEKS A CANDIDATE


Selwyn then began carefully scrutinizing such public men in the States
known as Presidential cradles, as seemed to him eligible. By a process
of elimination he centered upon two that appeared desirable.

One was James R. Rockland, recently elected Governor of a State of the
Middle West. The man had many of the earmarks of a demagogue, which
Selwyn readily recognized, and he therefore concluded to try him first.

Accordingly he went to the capital of the State ostensibly upon private
business, and dropped in upon the Governor in the most casual way.
Rockland was distinctly flattered by the attention, for Selwyn was,
perhaps, the best known figure in American politics, while he, himself,
had only begun to attract attention. They had met at conventions and
elsewhere, but they were practically unacquainted, for Rockland had
never been permitted to enter the charmed circle which gathered around
Selwyn.

"Good morning, Governor," said Selwyn, when he had been admitted to
Rockland's private room. "I was passing through the capital and I
thought I would look in on you and see how your official cares were
using you."

"I am glad to see you, Senator," said Rockland effusively, "very glad,
for there are some party questions coming up at the next session of the
Legislature about which I particularly desire your advice."

"I have but a moment now, Rockland," answered the Senator, "but if you
will dine with me in my rooms at the Mandell House to-night it will be a
pleasure to talk over such matters with you."

"Thank you, Senator, at what hour?"

"You had better come at seven for if I finish my business here to-day, I
shall leave on the 10 o'clock for Washington," said Selwyn.

Thus in the most casual way the meeting was arranged. As a matter of
fact, Rockland had no party matters to discuss, and Selwyn knew it. He
also knew that Rockland was ambitious to become a leader, and to get
within the little group that controlled the party and the Nation.

Rockland was a man of much ability, but he fell far short of measuring
up with Selwyn, who was in a class by himself. The Governor was a good
orator, at times even brilliant, and while not a forceful man, yet he
had magnetism which served him still better in furthering his political
fortunes. He was not one that could be grossly corrupted, yet he was
willing to play to the galleries in order to serve his ambition, and he
was willing to forecast his political acts in order to obtain potential
support.

When he reached the Mandell House, he was at once shown to the Senator's
rooms. Selwyn received him cordially enough to be polite, and asked him
if he would not look over the afternoon paper for a moment while he
finished a note he was writing. He wrote leisurely, then rang for a boy
and ordered dinner to be served.

Selwyn merely tasted the wine (he seldom did more) but Rockland drank
freely though not to excess. After they had talked over the local
matters which were supposed to be the purpose of the conference, much
to Rockland's delight, the Senator began to discuss national politics.

"Rockland," began Selwyn, "can you hold this state in line at next
year's election?"

"I feel sure that I can, Senator, why do you ask?"

"Since we have been talking here," he replied, "it has occurred to me
that if you could be nominated and elected again, the party might do
worse than to consider you for the presidential nomination the year
following.

"No, my dear fellow, don't interrupt me," continued Selwyn
mellifluously.

"It is strange how fate or chance enters into the life of man and even
of nations. A business matter calls me here, I pass your office and
think to pay my respects to the Governor of the State. Some political
questions are perplexing you, and my presence suggests that I may aid
in their solution. This dinner follows, your personality appeals to me,
and the thought flits through my mind, why should not Rockland, rather
than some other man, lead the party two years from now?

"And the result, my dear Rockland, may be, probably will be, your
becoming chief magistrate of the greatest republic the sun has ever
shone on."

Rockland by this time was fairly hypnotized by Selwyn's words, and by
their tremendous import. For a moment he dared not trust himself to
speak.

"Senator Selwyn," he said at last, "it would be idle for me to deny that
you have excited within me an ambition that a moment ago would have
seemed worse than folly. Your influence within the party and your
ability to conduct a campaign, gives to your suggestion almost the
tender of the presidency. To tell you that I am deeply moved does scant
justice to my feelings. If, after further consideration, you think me
worthy of the honor, I shall feel under lasting obligations to you which
I shall endeavor to repay in every way consistent with honor and with a
sacred regard for my oath of office."

"I want to tell you frankly, Rockland," answered Selwyn, "that up to now
I have had someone else in mind, but I am in no sense committed, and we
might as well discuss the matter to as near a conclusion as is possible
at this time."

Selwyn's voice hardened a little as he went on. "You would not want a
nomination that could not carry with a reasonable certainty of election,
therefore I would like to go over with you your record, both public and
private, in the most open yet confidential way. It is better that you
and I, in the privacy of these rooms, should lay bare your past than
that it should be done in a bitter campaign and by your enemies. What we
say to one another here is to be as if never spoken, and the grave
itself must not be more silent. Your private life not only needs to be
clean, but there must be no public act at which any one can point an
accusing finger."

"Of course, of course," said Rockland, with a gesture meant to convey
the complete openness of his record.

"Then comes the question of party regularity," continued Selwyn, without
noticing. "Be candid with me, for, if you are not, the recoil will be
upon your own head."

"I am sure that I can satisfy you on every point, Senator. I have never
scratched a party ticket nor have I ever voted against any measure
endorsed by a party caucus," said Governor Rockland.

"That is well," smiled the Senator. "I assume that in making your
important appointments you will consult those of us who have stood
sponsor for you, not only to the party but to the country. It would be
very humiliating to me if I should insist upon your nomination and
election and then should for four years have to apologize for what I had
done."

Musingly, as if contemplating the divine presence in the works of man,
Selwyn went on, while he closely watched Rockland from behind his
half-closed eyelids.

"Our scheme of Government contemplates, I think, a diffuse
responsibility, my dear Rockland. While a president has a constitutional
right to act alone, he has no moral right to act contrary to the tenets
and traditions of his party, or to the advice of the party leaders, for
the country accepts the candidate, the party and the party advisers as a
whole and not severally.

"It is a natural check, which by custom the country has endorsed as
wise, and which must be followed in order to obtain a proper
organization. Do you follow me, Governor, and do you endorse this
unwritten law?"

If Rockland had heard this at second hand, if he had read it, or if it
had related to someone other than himself, he would have detected the
sophistry of it. But, exhilarated by wine and intoxicated by ambition,
he saw nothing but a pledge to deal squarely by the organization.

"Senator," he replied fulsomely, "gratitude is one of the tenets of my
religion, and therefore inversely ingratitude is unknown to me. You and
the organization can count on my loyalty from the beginning to the end,
for I shall never fail you.

"I know you will not ask me to do anything at which my conscience will
rebel, nor to make an appointment that is not entirely fit."

"That, Rockland, goes without saying," answered the Senator with
dignity. "I have all the wealth and all the position that I desire. I
want nothing now except to do my share towards making my native land
grow in prosperity, and to make the individual citizen more contented.
To do this we must cease this eternal agitation, this constant proposal
of half-baked measures, which the demagogues are offering as a panacea
to all the ills that flesh is heir to.

"We need peace, legislative and political peace, so that our people may
turn to their industries and work them to success, in the wholesome
knowledge that the laws governing commerce and trade conditions will
not be disturbed over night."

"I agree with you there, Senator," said Rockland eagerly.

"We have more new laws now than we can digest in a decade," continued
Selwyn, "so let us have rest until we do digest them. In Europe the
business world works under stable conditions. There we find no proposal
to change the money system between moons, there we find no uncertainty
from month to month regarding the laws under which manufacturers are to
make their products, but with us, it is a wise man who knows when he can
afford to enlarge his output.

"A high tariff threatens to-day, a low one to-morrow, and a large part
of the time the business world lies in helpless perplexity.

"I take it, Rockland, that you are in favor of stability, that you will
join me in my endeavors to give the country a chance to develop itself
and its marvelous natural resources."

As a matter of fact, Rockland's career had given no evidence of such
views. He had practically committed his political fortunes on the side
of the progressives, but the world had turned around since then, and he
viewed things differently.

"Senator," he said, his voice tense in his anxiety to prove his
reliability, "I find that in the past I have taken only a cursory view
of conditions. I see clearly that what you have outlined is a high order
of statesmanship. You are constructive: I have been on the side of those
who would tear down. I will gladly join hands with you and build up, so
that the wealth and power of this country shall come to equal that of
any two nations in existence."

Selwyn settled back in his chair, nodding his approval and telling
himself that he would not need to seek further for his candidate.

At Rockland's earnest solicitation he remained over another day. The
Governor gave him copies of his speeches and messages, so that he could
assure himself that there was no serious flaw in his public record.

Selwyn cautioned him about changing his attitude too suddenly. "Go on,
Rockland, as you have done in the past. It will not do to see the light
too quickly. You have the progressives with you now, keep them, and I
will let the conservatives know that you think straight and may be
trusted.

"We must consult frequently together," he continued, "but cautiously.
There is no need for any one to know that we are working together
harmoniously. I may even get some of the conservative papers to attack
you judiciously. It will not harm you. But, above all, do nothing of
importance without consulting me.

"I am committing the party and the Nation to you, and my responsibility
is a heavy one, and I owe it to them that no mistakes are made."

"You may trust me, Senator," said Rockland. "I understand perfectly."



CHAPTER XIII

DRU AND SELWYN MEET


The roads of destiny oftentimes lead us in strange and unlooked for
directions and bring together those whose thoughts and purposes are as
wide as space itself. When Gloria Strawn first entered boarding school,
the roommate given her was Janet Selwyn, the youngest daughter of the
Senator. They were alike in nothing, except, perhaps, in their fine
perception of truth and honor. But they became devoted friends and had
carried their attachment for one another beyond their schoolgirl days.
Gloria was a frequent visitor at the Selwyn household both in
Washington and Philadelphia, and was a favorite with the Senator. He
often bantered her concerning her "socialistic views," and she in turn
would declare that he would some day see the light. Now and then she let
fall a hint of Philip, and one day Senator Selwyn suggested that she
invite him over to Philadelphia to spend the week end with them.
"Gloria, I would like to meet this paragon of the ages," said he
jestingly, "although I am somewhat fearful that he may persuade me to
'sell all that I have and give it to the poor.'"

"I will promise to protect you during this one visit, Senator," said
Gloria, "but after that I shall leave you to your fate."

"Dear Philip," wrote Gloria, "the great Senator Selwyn has expressed a
wish to know you, and at his suggestion, I am writing to ask you here to
spend with us the coming week end. I have promised that you will not
denude him of all his possessions at your first meeting, but beyond that
I have refused to go. Seriously, though, I think you should come, for if
you would know something of politics, then why not get your lessons from
the fountain head?

"Your very sincere,

"GLORIA."

In reply Philip wrote:

"Dear Gloria: You are ever anticipating my wishes. In the crusade we are
making I find it essential to know politics, if we are to reach the
final goal that we have in mind, and you have prepared the way for the
first lesson. I will be over to-morrow on the four o'clock. Please do
not bother to meet me.

"Faithfully yours,

"PHILIP."

Gloria and Janet Strawn were at the station to meet him. "Janet, this is
Mr. Dru," said Gloria. "It makes me very happy to have my two best
friends meet." As they got in her electric runabout, Janet Strawn said,
"Since dinner will not be served for two hours or more, let us drive in
the park for a while." Gloria was pleased to see that Philip was
interested in the bright, vivacious chatter of her friend, and she was
glad to hear him respond in the same light strain. However, she was
confessedly nervous when Senator Selwyn and Philip met. Though in
different ways, she admired them both profoundly. Selwyn had a
delightful personality, and Gloria felt sure that Philip would come
measurably under the influence of it, even though their views were so
widely divergent. And in this she was right. Here, she felt, were two
great antagonists, and she was eager for the intellectual battle to
begin. But she was to be disappointed, for Philip became the listener,
and did but little of the talking. He led Senator Selwyn into a
dissertation upon the present conditions of the country, and the bearing
of the political questions upon them. Selwyn said nothing indiscreet,
yet he unfolded to Philip's view a new and potential world. Later in the
evening, the Senator was unsuccessful in his efforts to draw from his
young guest his point of view. Philip saw the futility of such a
discussion, and contented Selwyn by expressing an earnest appreciation
of his patience in making clear so many things about which he had been
ignorant. Next morning, Senator Selwyn was strolling with Gloria in the
rose garden, when he said, "Gloria, I like your friend Dru. I do not
recall ever having met any one like him." "Then you got him to talk
after we left last night. I am so glad. I was afraid he had on one of
his quiet spells."

"No, he said but little, but the questions he asked gave me glimpses of
his mind that sometimes startled me. He was polite, modest but elusive,
nevertheless, I like him, and shall see more of him." Far sighted as
Selwyn was, he did not know the full extent of this prophecy.



CHAPTER XIV

THE MAKING OF A PRESIDENT


Selwyn now devoted himself to the making of enough conservative senators
to control comfortably that body. The task was not difficult to a man
of his sagacity with all the money he could spend.

Newspapers were subsidized in ways they scarcely recognized themselves.
Honest officials who were in the way were removed by offering them
places vastly more remunerative, and in this manner he built up a
strong, intelligent and well constructed machine. It was done so sanely
and so quietly that no one suspected the master mind behind it all.
Selwyn was responsible to no one, took no one into his confidence, and
was therefore in no danger of betrayal.

It was a fascinating game to Selwyn. It appealed to his intellectual
side far more than it did to his avarice. He wanted to govern the Nation
with an absolute hand, and yet not be known as the directing power. He
arranged to have his name appear less frequently in the press and he
never submitted to interviews, laughingly ridding himself of reporters
by asserting that he knew nothing of importance. He had a supreme
contempt for the blatant self-advertised politician, and he removed
himself as far as possible from that type.

In the meantime his senators were being elected, the Rockland sentiment
was steadily growing and his nomination was finally brought about by the
progressives fighting vigorously for him and the conservatives
yielding a reluctant consent. It was done so adroitly that Rockland
would have been fooled himself, had not Selwyn informed him in advance
of each move as it was made.

After the nomination, Selwyn had trusted men put in charge of the
campaign, which he organized himself, though largely under cover. The
opposition party had every reason to believe that they would be
successful, and it was a great intellectual treat to Selwyn to overcome
their natural advantages by the sheer force of ability, plus what money
he needed to carry out his plans. He put out the cry of lack of funds,
and indeed it seemed to be true, for he was too wise to make a display
of his resources. To ward heelers, to the daily press, and to
professional stump speakers, he gave scant comfort. It was not to such
sources that he looked for success.

He began by eliminating all states he knew the opposition party would
certainly carry, but he told the party leaders there to claim that a
revolution was brewing, and that a landslide would follow at the
election. This would keep his antagonists busy and make them less
effective elsewhere.

He also ignored the states where his side was sure to win. In this way
he was free to give his entire thoughts to the twelve states that were
debatable, and upon whose votes the election would turn. He divided
each of these states into units containing five thousand voters, and, at
the national headquarters, he placed one man in charge of each unit. Of
the five thousand, he roughly calculated there would be two thousand
voters that no kind of persuasion could turn from his party and two
thousand that could not be changed from the opposition. This would
leave one thousand doubtful ones to win over. So he had a careful poll
made in each unit, and eliminated the strictly unpersuadable party men,
and got down to a complete analysis of the debatable one thousand.
Information was obtained as to their race, religion, occupation and
former political predilection. It was easy then to know how to reach
each individual by literature, by persuasion or perhaps by some more
subtle argument. No mistake was made by sending the wrong letter or the
wrong man to any of the desired one thousand.

In the states so divided, there was, at the local headquarters, one man


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Online LibraryEdward Mandell HousePhilip Dru Administrator : a Story of Tomorrow 1920 - 1935 → online text (page 4 of 14)