Source: Recollections of Thirteen Presidents
Source type: book
Document type: book chapter
Document title: “Theodore Roosevelt” [chapter 13]
Author(s): Wise, John S.
Publisher: Doubleday, Page and Company
Place of publication: New York, New York
Year of publication: 1906
Pagination: 237-76 (excerpt below includes only pages 255-59)
|Wise, John S. “Theodore Roosevelt” [chapter 13]. Recollections of Thirteen Presidents. New York: Doubleday, Page, 1906: pp. 237-76.
|excerpt of chapter
|Theodore Roosevelt (assumption of presidency); Marcus Hanna; William McKinley (relations with Marcus Hanna); Theodore Roosevelt (relations with Marcus Hanna); Theodore Roosevelt (political character).
|Chester A. Arthur; Henry Clay; Millard Fillmore; Marcus Hanna; William Henry Harrison; Andrew Johnson; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley; Theodore Roosevelt; John Tyler.
|From title page: By John S. Wise, Author of “The Lion’s Skin,” “The End of an Era,” “Diomed,” etc.
Theodore Roosevelt [excerpt]
McKinley was young and well and
strong.  There was no thought of such
a thing as his assassination, and the average New York Republican organisation
man made no concealment of the clever trick they had resorted to, to rid themselves
of an obnoxious Governor by placing him in a sinecure. The delegates returned
to New York singing, “I guess that will hold him down awhile.” No man understood
better than did Governor Roosevelt the motive, the purpose, the temper of his
nomination, or the men who planned it and brought it about.
In the Vice-Presidential office he was a veritable Pegasus hitched to a plow.
When the horrid crime which removed McKinley brought Roosevelt into the Presidential office, he came in under conditions hardly less trying than those imposed upon Tyler as successor of Harrison, and much more difficult than those attending Fillmore’s or Arthur’s succession. If Harrison’s death was a great blow to Henry Clay, who had calculated so much upon Harrison’s subjection to his dominancy, what must have been the blow of McKinley’s death to Mark Hanna and his thoroughly entrenched coterie?
When Harrison died Clay was not yet firm in his seat, and what he lost was what he had hoped for rather than what he had realized. When McKinley died, Mark Hanna’s peculiar but forceful plans had been in complete operation for four years; he had secured their endorsement for  another term; had tasted one lease of great power and influence to the full; and was just preparing for another four years of even more thorough control. No matter how great or how dominant one may insist that McKinley was, no one questions that the days of McKinley were full of sunshine for Mark Hanna and his compact, thoroughly organised political machine. For nobody questions that Mark Hanna had a great machine, whether it was a good or a bad machine; or that he was the chauffeur, whether McKinley was owner or merely an honoured guest. And no machine ever had a harder or more sudden jolt on the highway of politics than did Mark Hanna’s when McKinley died and Roosevelt mounted in his place.
The world can never know what Mark Hanna and his political syndicate felt when McKinley died, or how in their inmost hearts they welcomed the advent of his successor, or how he in his inmost heart regarded them.
He was and is a person altogether different in temperament, and in party associations, from McKinley. Andrew Johnson himself differed no more radically from Lincoln than did Roosevelt from McKinley. As for Mark Hanna and the style of political management known as Hannaism, which was synonymous with McKinleyism, certainly Roosevelt had never theretofore operated upon such lines. The people loved McKinley; they seemed to have faith in Hanna  and Hannaism. They were not prepared to give them up for any unknown and untried policy of Mr. Roosevelt.
It is to the credit of Roosevelt and Hanna alike that both behaved admirably in a trying time; and both agreed that, continuing the personnel as well as the policy of McKinley’s Administration, they would subordinate all antagonisms, disappointments and incongruities between them and strive together for the public good. It certainly was not a natural alliance. No two men that ever came together in politics had more irreconcilable view-points, ideals or standards, than did Theodore Roosevelt and Mark Hanna. How they succeeded in pulling together as well as they did for the common welfare during the three years after McKinley’s death that Hanna lived is a wonder, and to the great honour of both of them; for while, in that time, McKinley’s policies were adhered to, Hanna methods and Hanna dominancy and men of the type which Hanna chose in the day of his control under McKinley, rapidly gave place to Roosevelt methods, Roosevelt dominancy, and men of a very different type from those who flourished under Hanna.
Whether the friendship between Roosevelt and Hanna could or would have survived the strain of these inevitable changes if Hanna had lived need not be discussed. Outwardly at least it did continue until Hanna died, and that is surprising  enough to the general public, who had been taught to look upon Roosevelt as rash, and stubborn, and unyielding. I have watched him closely, and know that when any question vital to his support by his party followers arises, he is not rash, or stubborn, or unyielding. On the contrary, no man weighs more quickly or calculatingly which of two inconsistent plans it is best to yield in order to retain party support. And no man is more politic in not confessing that he abandoned one purpose in order to attain another.