Gospel of Conscience
Carnegie's political and social agenda had been confined mostly to Britain until he sold his newspaper interests and President Grover Cleveland made noise about lowering the protective tariff. In 1887, Cleveland, who believed it was time to stop passing along government privileges to businessmen in protected or favored industries, was urging the reduction of tariff levels to save American consumers money. Fortunately for Carnegie, the president left it to Congress to reform the tariff, and his initiative sank in a legislative quagmire. Overall, Cleveland took a laissez-faire approach to big business, accepting the day's conventional wisdom that individual economic freedom equated to national economic progress. Regardless, Carnegie was wary of another four years with the Democrats ruling the capital and desired the business-friendly Republicans back in office. So, during the 1888 election campaign, he threw his full weight behind Benjamin Harrison, as did Matthew Quay, a powerful Pennsylvania senator who was named campaign chairman, and John Wanamaker, the retail genius, who headed Harrison's campaign finance committee.
Carnegie's fellow Republicans were not choirboys, which reflected poorly on his own character. Quay was known to take stock in companies for favors, and it was said he knew how “to keep silent in sixteen different languages”— just the kind of man Carnegie could appreciate—and, needless to say (but said anyway), the campaign was highly funded by powerful businessmen for whom Wanamaker later secured favors. 1 One wide-girthed pipeline for funds was provided by James M. Swank, the hardheaded, Scotch-Irish chief of the American Iron and Steel Association. Since the 1870s, he had lobbied Congress for protective tariffs on behalf of clients like Carnegie and now provided Harrison, who promised aggressive tariff protection, with a bottomless bucket of funds. Some of the money was used in voter-fraud schemes engineered by Quay in Pennsylvania and New York. 2 The Democrats were guilty of fraud, too; it just boiled down to who was willing to pay the most. How much
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Publication information: Book title: Carnegie. Contributors: Peter Krass - Author. Publisher: Wiley. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2002. Page number: 238.
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