Sketch of Secretary Cortelyou
Entered the Government Service Some Years Ago as
It will be six years October 31,
1901, since George B. Cortelyou, through the kind offices of Secretary
Lamont and Fourth Assistant Postmaster-General Maxwell, entered
the Executive Mansion at Washington as a stenographer at $1,600
per year. Now he is next to the President of the United States in
the most confidential relations, having succeeded the late John
Addison Porter of Connecticut as Private Secretary.
Prior to his entrance into the White
House, Mr. Cortelyou had occupied a minor position in the Postoffice
Department, his first appointment being at the compensation of $900
per annum. His executive qualities, however, attracted the attention
of the Fourth Assistant Postmaster-General, and he was quickly promoted
as confidential secretary to that official. Secretary Lamont had
been sponsor for Mr. Lamont, who had been a resident of Duchess
County, N. Y., and he kept an eye upon his protege with a view to
advancing him just as rapidly as circumstances would permit.
Transferred to White House.
An opportunity occurred to transfer
Mr. Cortelyou to the White House when Mr. Robert L. O’Brien resigned
as stenographer to President Cleveland to become a newspaper correspondent
in Washington. Mr. Cortelyou was chosen to fill the vacancy, and
when President Cleveland retired the protege of Secretary Lamont
was still as his post. During the regime of Private Secretary Porter
a great deal of attention was paid to social obligations at the
White House, and the President was compelled to rely more and more
upon his stenographer in order to keep in touch with public affairs.
When failing health necessitated the
retirement of Mr. Porter there was no hesitation on the part of
the President about choosing his successor and the mantle fell upon
the shoulders of Stenographer Cortelyou. How well he has justified
this choice has been demonstrated from the beginning of the Spanish
War down to the hour when the President was stricken, at Buffalo,
September 6th, 1901.
Reliance in Him.
Callers at the White House upon official
or other business will recall the reliance that the President felt
in his private secretary for whenever a mooted question arose his
unvarying request was: “Send for Cortelyou and see what he has to
say on this subject.”
Always alert and faithful in the discharge
of his duty, it is no wonder to those who know the intimate relations
between the President and his private secretary that in the crucial
moment before undergoing the operation at the hands of the surgeons
that the stricken President enquired of Cortelyou “Are these surgeons?”
receiving an affirmative answer and confident that Cortelyou knew
what he was saying, the President submitted without further questioning
or anxiety as to the result.