A Point of Disruption
On November 5, Election Day, McKinley won the Electoral College and took the popular vote by a larger margin than any president since Grant. The weather was fair, unseasonably warm for November, a sign of better times to come, Carnegie hoped; but during the McKinley presidency Carnegie would reevaluate his priorities as there were significant changes in his personal life and the country went to war. While dealing with personal and political disruptions, he would also have to conduct his own war in business as new powers arose to challenge him. At least for now, he could rejoice that the Republicans were back in power and order in his political world was restored.
During the last Republican administration under Harrison, Carnegie had enjoyed a favorable status, especially with his friend James Blaine serving as secretary of state. By contrast, during Cleveland's term, he had suffered a series of attacks from Navy Secretary Abner Herbert, Attorney General Richard Olney, and sundry congressmen. Now it was time to take immediate advantage of McKinley to protect his company's flank, and it was Frick who proposed the most opportunistic idea. Knowing the company's attorney, Philander Knox, and McKinley were friendly, Frick thought Knox might just have a chance at being appointed McKinley's attorney general. How better to protect the company's interests than by having the country's top legal eagle in the bag, so, on December 16, Frick submitted the idea to Carnegie: “Am satisfied you could secure the selection of Mr. Knox for this position, as I know the President-Elect would do almost anything you asked.” 1
Considering Carnegie's financial support of McKinley, Frick's observation was quite correct. The next day, Carnegie wrote McKinley, opening with a humble apology:
If there was one thing which I had resolved upon, it was that you should never be troubled by me about appointments. I pity you too 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: 348.
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