Joseph Benson Foraker.

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swell — to swell with pride — to think of its most distinguished leader
traveling abroad. (Laughter.) He was going clear around the world.
(Laughter.) He was going to see everything in sight. (More laughter.)
When he passed out of the Golden Gate they stood on tiptoe to look
after him. And when he arrived in the Orient and visited China and
Japan and the Philippines and the Straits Settlements and India, he
grew awfully large in their minds. It seemed as though the further he
traveled and the less he said the greater he grew. (Tremendous
laughter.) He soon became a giant, and he kept still so long they com-
menced calling him, not only "the peerless leader," but "Bryan, the
conservative." No more the "radical" — the conservative. They thought
here at last is one, the third time being the charm, who will surely
"lead us out of the wilderness." And so. State after State endorsed him
for 1908, and when the time was fixed for his arrival in New York,
Democracy emptied itself on that poor, victimized city. Fifty thousand
of them were there to see a man who had really crossed the ocean and
who had become conservative. (Laughter.) They had a great time.
Our distinguished friend, Tom L. Johnson, was spokesman. (More
laughter.) They nominated him for the Presidency, and Mr. Bryan, in
a short speech of an hour, accepted the nomination, defeated himself
at the polls, and fastened the Republican Party in power for a. gen-
eration to come. (Tremendous cheering.) In the slang phrase of the
day, he punctured his own tire and the wind all escaped. (Laughter.)
You ought to have seen that 60,000 Democrats coming away from New
York. I saw some of them. They went heads up, eyes bright, full of
good cheer, full of confidence. They came away in despair, their party
split in twain, because their peerless leader had not proven conservative,
but more radical than ever. He proposed that we should now take
another step, one I have been looking for for a year, for the government
to buy and own and operate the railroad trunk lines and the States
to own and operate the State lines.

Now, that would be a sorry mess, wouldn't it? Well, I am not going
to discuss it; too big a subject. It is enough to say his own greatest
party leaders already proclaim their dissent. One of them. Senator
Bailey of Texas, announced that maybe Mr. Bryan can be the candi-
date, but he shall not make the platform. What is to be done? AU
hope seems to be gone for that party. I see nothing for us to do except
to do as Governor Herrick suggested, instead of sending twenty Repub-
licans to Congress, let us send twenty-one this time, just to see how
it will look.

Now, gentlemen, thanking you for your indulgence and your patience,
unwilling to trespass longer, I bid you good evening. (Applause.)

Another year passed and a great change had been wrought.
On the assembling of Congress in December next following
after the Dayton Convention the Brownsville debate was in-


augurated, to be followed by the adoption of my Resolution
for an investigation, the Gridiron Club dinner-debate, and the
open proclamation of war for my "elimination" and the inaug-
uration of hostilities by the appointment of Judge Sater to
the United States Judgeship. In addition, the financial panic
of 1907 had broken upon us, and was yet in full force.

These events were accompanied by a spirited canvass of the
State during the summer, in the course of which Secretary
Taft made a number of speeches in which he reiterated his
tariff views and said some other things that I did not think
helpful to the cause of Republicanism. To aU of which I
made answer from time to time as occasion seemed to require.

While this speaking campaign was satisfactorily progress-
ing in the open I was being undermined and double-crossed
by occult methods of which I had no knowledge until con-
fronted by their results ; and that was too late to prevent or
counteract them.

The political organization of Hamilton County, headed by
Mr. George B. Cox, one of the ablest and most efficient local
leaders our State has ever produced, was then in the very
zenith of its power. The Hamilton County delegations to
State Conventions were so large that acting as a unit they
practically controlled the politics of Ohio.

Secretary Taft had openly and virulently assailed Mr.
Cox, and his organization, in a speech made at Akron, in
1905. On this account I supposed that under any and
all circumstances this powerful factor would be hostile to Mr.
Taft, and his political ambitions, whatever they might be.

I had always been fortunate enough to have that support,
and had, as I supposed, every reason to believe I would con-
tinue to have it, for the time being at least, — especially as
against Mr. Taft.

I was incredulous, therefore, when I observed some indi-
cations to the contrary, and remained so until suddenly unde-
ceived by the receipt through the mails from some unknown
friend, unknown then and still unknown, of the following copy
of a telegram from Mr. August Herrmann, Mr. Cox's Chief


Lieutenant, to Mr. C. P. Taf t, at Point au Pic, Canada, where
he was spending his summer vacation:

Point au Pic, Canada, July 27, 1907.
Hon. C. p. Taft.

Bader, Durr and Hynicka home. When Taft resolution is introduced
on Tuesday an amendment will be offered also indorsing Foraker. This
will no doubt be supported by the two members of Hamilton County.
If the amendment is defeated and the Taft resolution presented squarely
to the committee, both members from here will support it. Under the
circumstances my suggestion would be to have your people defeat the
amendment without the votes from Hamilton County and then put the
other resolution through. By aU means treat this information confiden-
tially, especially its source.

August Hebbmann.

The State Committee meeting was held so soon after I
received this warning — only a day or two — ^that I had no time
to consider what to do, even if I had been able to do anything
to prevent the action proposed. Accordingly the program
was carried out on time and to the letter, just as suggested
by Mr. Herrmann in his telegram.

From that time forward Mr. Cox and his organization
openly and zealously supported the cause of Mr. Taft, and
it is no exaggeration to say that Mr. Taft was more indebted
to Mr. Cox for a practically solid delegation to the National
Convention from Ohio in 1908 than to any other single indi-

It was with Mr. Herrmann's telegram on my files, and the
recollection fresh in mind of the co-operation of Mr. Cox and
his organization with the Taft forces proper, that the fol-
lowing correspondence was had with Mr. Charles D. Hilles,
while he was Secretary to President Taft, and doubtless, in
view of the ways and duties of Secretaries, with Mr. Taft's
full knowledge and approval, of all Mr. Hilles said:

December 7, 1911.

Dear Sir: — A friend writes inclosing what he says is a copy of an
extract from a letter written by you to Mr. Frank P. MacLennan,
Topeka Daily State Journal, Topeka, Kansas.

Will you kindly advise me whether what I have so received is a
correct copy of what you have written to Mr. MacLennan or anybody
else? I enclose a copy.


I refer partitularly to your statement of what occurred in Ohio
in 1908. Very truly yours, etc.,

j. b. forakee.
Hon. Chables D. Hilles,
White House,

Washington, D. C.

Enclosure mentioned.

Extract from letter to Frank P. MacLennan, Topeka Daily
State Journal, Topeka, Kansas, signed "Charles D. Hilles,
Secretary to the President," hearing date of "The White
House, Washington, June 2, 1911 :"

It was inconceivable that the press should have questioned the
President's courage and resolution, for his public record was well
known. He had rendered a decision adverse to labor unions, which put
an end to secondary strikes; he had faced a state of affairs in the
Philippines which would have tried any man's soul; he had invaded his
home State of Ohio at the crisis in a political campaign to hold George
B. Cox up to public execration; he had invaded Ohio later and wrested
control from Cox and Foraker and Dick; he had indulged in an impolitic
denunciation of Mr. Gompers in the campaign; and as President, had
convened Congress in extraordinary session to reduce tariff schedules,
a step which no President since Grover Cleveland had taken. It was
inevitable that a conflict would result in the Congress; that delays
would occur; that business would halt and the ultimate result would be
disappointing. He consented to play an ungrateful part, a role almost
as ungrateful as that of the villain's in the play.

The WHrrE House,

December 11, 1911.
My Dear Sir: — I have your letter of December 7th, inclosing a copy
of an extract from a letter which it is said that I wrote on June 2, 1911,
in which the following statement occurs:

"It is inconceivable that the press should have questioned the

President's courage and resolution, for his public record was well

known. ... he had invaded Ohio later and wrested control

from Cox and Foraker and Dick."

You ask me whether I made the statement in question. I am bound

to say that I did. I have been of the opinion that it was a matter of

public knowledge that when the President decided in 1907 to become a

candidate, a controversy was precipitated in Ohio, in which no man

would have engaged who was lacking in fighting qualities. I sincerely

hope the reference to that spirited contest has not given offense.

Sincerely yours,
Hon. J. B. Foraker, Charles D. Hilles.

Cincinnati. Ohio.


December IS, 1911.
Dear Sir: — Referring to your note dated the 11th inst., but only just
now received, I only wanted to learn whether, with your attention spe-
cifically called to the sentence mentioned, you would still adhere to it
as a truthful statement?

I was not aware until I read your thrilling enumeration of the coura-
geous achievements of the President, that any one had ever asserted or
even intimated that in the "spirited contest," to which you refer, Mr.
Cox took any part, except as a supporter of the President.

Very truly yours, etc.,
Hon. Chables D. Hilles, J. B. Fobakee.

White House,

Washington, D. C.

The WsrrE House,

December 18, 1911.
My Dear Senator Foraker: — I have your letter of Friday, and wish
to again assure you of my deep regret that the reference to the Ohio
controversy of 1907 was offensive to you.

I can only reiterate that it was not my intention to give offense, and
I did not at that time believe the sentence in question was susceptible
of the construction you have since placed upon it.

Sincerely yours,
Hon, J. B. Fohakee, Chakles D. Hilles.

Cincinnati, Ohio.

Subsequent investigations and disclosures showed that Mr.
Herrmann's telegram was, as it shows on its face, only one
of a number of similar communications that had been passing
between the same parties, by which it was shown that a major-
ity of the State Central Committee had been for some time
prior to the date of the telegram "brought into the Taft
camp," and that the Taft managers were, and for some time
had been, fully prepared to have the Committee at its meeting
take whatever action Mr. Charles P. Taft might think desir-

While this correspondence was in progress Mr. William H.
Taft was also spending his summer vacation with his brother
at Point au Pic, Canada. This fact makes it fair to assume
that he was kept fully informed.

If so, it was with knowledge that he was risking nothing
as to his own endorsement that he wrote a letter, September
20th, to "a friend in Ohio," and sent a copy of it to Presi-


dent Roosevelt "for such future use" of it as he might see fit
to make — a privilege of which he availed himself by pub-
lishing it in connection with an interview given out by him
in 1908, for the purpose of supporting and illustrating the
"fearless independence and righteous unselfishness" of Mr.
Taft, as shown by the statement in his letter that, because
of the principle involved, he would not accept an endorsement
as Ohio's candidate for the Presidency if that endorsement
must be coupled, as some one had proposed, with an endorse-
ment of me as Ohio's Republican candidate for re-election to
the Senate, not because of opposition to me personally, but
because of my course with respect to the Rate bill and the
Brownsville matter.

When, in accordance with this "fearlessly independent and
righteously unselfish" letter, the committee endorsed him and
refused to endorse me, I challenged the authority of the com-
mittee to take such action in a public letter to the Honorable
C. B. McCoy of Coshocton, calling attention to the fact that
the Dayton Convention, composed of between eight and nine
hundred duly chosen delegates, representing collectively and
in detail all the counties of the State, desired to express them-
selves on the subject, but had desisted therefrom at my request
because not chosen with reference to that question, and
because, therefore, such action would be beyond their authority
and jurisdiction, and insisting that if that was true as to the
convention, as all at the time agreed it was, much more was
it true of a committee of only twenty-one members not one
of whom had been chosen with reference to his Presidential
preference. My letter to Mr. McCoy was well received, and
a decided resentment of the committee's action was manifested
all over the State.

The result of this was that later, November 20, 1907, after
I had returned to Washington, the Advisory and Executive
Committees of the Ohio Republican League, together with
their general oflicers, numbering in all about one hundred
members, and representing every county in the State, assem-
bled in Columbus and adopted the following resolutions, which


were offered by ex-Lieutenant Governor, now Senator Warren
G. Harding.

As showing the spirit of the occasion I quote as follows from
the press report of the proceedings :

Remabks of Fobmeh Lieut. Gov. Wabeeh G. Habdino.

Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen: — Under the head of "The Good of the
Order" I beg to submit to your consideration the following resolutions:

The Republican League of Ohio, born in the enthusiastic devotion
and patriotism of the young manhood of the Republican Party, pledges
anew its fidelity to Republican policies and doctrines which have made
the republic prosperous and great. It avows its loyalty to that robust
Republicanism expounded by its great leaders of the past — John Sher-
man, Marcus A. Hanna and William McKinley; and as advocated today
by their able and distinguished successor in leadership, Joseph Benson
Foraker. (Applause and cries of "Read it again! Read it again!")
(Renewed applause.)

On this occasion the general officers of the League, together with Its
Advisory and Executive Committees, representing the eighty-eight
counties of Ohio, in session assembled, believe it opportune to declare:

That, in our opinion, the good of the Republican Party requires that
we should positively announce that we have no sympathy whatever with
the proposition that has been recently advanced, that Senator Joseph
Benson Foraker be "eliminated" and retired from public life because
he was not able to agree with President Roosevelt as to the rate bill,
or joint statehood for New Mexico and Arizona, or about the Browns-
ville matter. (Applause.)

On the contrary, we believe he was right in opposing joint state-
hood as he did, except on condition that a majority of the citizens of
each territory should vote therefor, in which requirement the President
now concurs; and we believe he was right and we thoroughly approve
his action in demanding that the helpless negro soldiers of the Twenty-
fifth United States Infantry who had served their country with great
valor and distinction should be given an opportunity to testify in their
own defense that they were not guilty of the crime for which on
purely ex parte testimony they have been discharged without honor.
(Loud and prolonged applause.)

Although one of the earliest and most earnest advocates of the
policy of Governmental supervision and regulation of interstate com-
merce and the railroads and other corporations engaged therein, Senator
Foraker has steadfastly refused to be forced by the public clamor to
support measures relating to that subject that appeared to him uncon-
stitutional and of such general character as to jeopardize the prosperity
of the American people (renewed applause) ; and a comparison of the
great good that has been wrought under the Elkins law, which Senator
Foraker helped to frame and enact, with the bitter disappointments
that have been realized under the rate bill, which he opposed, shows that
there was abundant ground for difference of opinion concerning the


latter measure, and strikingly illustrates the value to the whole country
of such qualities in a public official. (Loud applause.)

As a volunteer soldier of the Union Army, as a Judge of the Superior
Court of Cincinnati, as Governor of Ohio, as United States Senator,
and during all the years of his long public career as Executive, Legis-
lator and Judge, and as one of the foremost champions of the great
principles of Republicanism, he has been thoroughly tried and his name
has become familiar to the whole American people.

His record is one of unswerving devotion to his country and to his

While distinguished for his loyalty to both, he is equally noted for
his conservative judgment and the courage with which he maintains
what, in his opinion, duty requires.

Entertaining these views we send him greeting and assure him as he
returns to his labors at Washington that he has our unqualified con-
fidence and esteem, and we not only pledge him our loyal support for
his re-election to the Senate, but we further declare that he is our
choice as the Republican candidate for President of the United States
in 1908. (Loud and long-continued applause.)

A voice: Hope that will hold you for awhile.

Governor Harding: With him for President the policy of protection
to American industries and American labor would not fear the attacks
of its enemies, whether made in the open by avowed free traders, or
by those who, in the guise of fi-iends, profess to improve it by a down-
ward revision of duties; and every American citizen, whether white
or black, and no matter how humble, would feel and know that there
would be a fearless enforcement of the laws that have been enacted
for the protection of his rights. (Vociferous applause.)

At this time of business depression and painful uncertainty as to
political conditions, his nomination would be especially helpful. It
would arouse the old-time Republicanism, restore confidence and insure

It is for such reasons we present Joseph Benson Foraker as our stand-
ard bearer, and appeal to Republicans everywhere to join us in his
support. (Loud applause.)

Gentlemen, in the name of that immortal grand Army which saved to
us the Union that we boast of and of which Army Senator Foraker is
its most distinguished representative in public life; in the name of the
humble black man; in the name of the believer in a "Square Deal,"
whether it is for the humble citizen or the distinguished statesman; in
the name of that fighting band of Ohio Republicans who caught the
inspiration as he bore the banner aloft twenty years ago and have
marched with him to victory triumphant time and again; in the name
of that Republicanism which we wish to make triumphant in 1908, I
move the adoption of these resolutions. (Applause long-continued.)

Many other speeches in character similar to the expressions
of Senator Harding were made in connection with the occa-
sion by leading active Republican members of the organization.


When furnished with an official copy of the resolutions I
answered as follows:

United States Senate.

November 28, 1907.
Hon. Conrad J. Mattern,

Vice President Ohio Republican League,
Dayton, Ohio.

Dear Sir: — I write to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the
22d instant with copy inclosed, as stated, of resolutions adopted by the
Advisory and Executive Committees of the Ohio Republican League of
Clubs at a joint meeting held at the Neil House in Columbus, Novem-
ber 20, denouncing the proposition that I should be "eliminated" from
public life, and relegated to private citizenship because in the discharge
of my duties as a Senator I have been unable in three instances to agree
with President Roosevelt, and pledging me their support as a candidate
for re-election to be my own successor, and also declaring that I am
their choice as a candidate for the Presidency.

I am informed that there were ninety-eight members of the com-
mittee, out of a total membership of 105 present in person or by proxy,
and that the resolutions were adopted by a unanimous vote, and with
much enthusiasm.

The names and addresses of those present, as published in the news-
papers, show that all sections and counties of the State were repre-
sented, and that among these representatives are many who have for
years been well known to the whole State as prominent leaders of the
Republican Party.

I would not be insensible to such a mark of confidence and esteem
if I could be, and I could not be if I would.

But I do not want to even appear to be a candidate for two offices
at the same time, and therefore forego the double honor proposed, and
with heartfelt appreciation accept the support for the Presidential can-
didacy which the committees have so generously tendered.

Nevertheless, I want to say that far beyond anything personal to
myself, I am gratified by the action taken because it is a flat rebuke
to the suggestion that the office of United States Senator is to be stripped
of aU the real honor attached to it by making its incumbent a mere
agent to register the decrees of somebody else instead of the representa-
tive of a State charged with the constitutional duty of legislating accord-
ing to his best judgment for the welfare of a great nation, accountable
to his constituency for his acts and votes, but to nobody else.

I regard it of far greater importance to uphold and protect the
dignity and usefulness of the Senatorial office than that any particular
man should be chosen to fill it.

As our fathers created it the place is one of the most important in
the Government, and any man might well feel highly honored to hold it,
but if it is to be degraded into a mere agency, no self-respecting man
can desire to hold it.

I not only stand for the broad principles involved, but also stand
ready to submit to my constituents for their judgment not only my


action in the three instances when I was unable to agree with the Pres-
ident, but my entire record. I may have made mistakes, but no speech
or vote or other act wiU be found that was not in accordance with a
conscientious judgment formed by the aid of the best Ught at the time

My action on the question of joint statehood and in the Brownsville
matter your committees have approved, as I believe the great majority
of Republicans do everywhere.

There are doubtless yet many who criticise my vote on the rate bill,
but if the assurances with which my mail is filled, coming as they do
from every section of the country, are not misleading, the number of
these critics is rapidly diminishing.

In the debates on that measure I took pains to point out that if the
Government took upon itself the duty and responsibility of making rates,
it would of necessity have to determine not only how much a railroad
should be allowed to make, but also how much it should be allowed to
spend — ^how much for operation, for extensions, for equipment, and for
every other item of necessary expenditure, all of which it is impossible
for a government to do successfully and satisfactorily, and that the
result would inevitably be that just at the time when a rapidly increas-
ing business for the roads was making it necessary for them to raise
hundreds of millions annually for increasing their tracks, cars, and
general facilities we would impair the confidence of investors in their
stocks and bonds and thereby not only make it impossible for the roads
to sell the additional securities necessary for such purposes, but lead

Online LibraryJoseph Benson ForakerNotes of a busy life → online text (page 43 of 61)