Boss Rule in the Gilded Age: Matt Quay of Pennsylvania

By James A. Kehl | Go to book overview

3
A Profile Low in Politics, High in Visibility 1867-1877

AFTER 1867 politicians who remained hostile to Cameron were severely chastened. In most districts throughout the Keystone State, a Republican aspirant had the choice of joining the Cameron organization or going into political retirement. Young, ambitious, and bitten by the political bug in 1867, Quay yearned for a future in politics. His role in the senatorial nomination had opened the door to friendly relations with the Camerons who respected his skill, but he realized that unfortunate overtones accompanied his move. Not wanting to be classed as a traitor to Curtin, he moved so cautiously that his transition to the Cameron camp took five years ( 1867-1872) to complete.

Because of his identification with the Cameron-Curtin controversy, Quay, as a candidate for any significant office, was temporarily a Republican liability, capable only of keeping the factional pot boiling. He could contribute neither to the cohesiveness of the party nor to his own political advancement. He understood the signs and withdrew from the limelight to found and edit a weekly newspaper in his hometown.


Power of the Fourth Estate

Known as the Beaver Radical, Quay's weekly first appeared on December 11, 1868, and he continued as editor and publisher for four years. It was an instant success. The name itself struck a responsive note with the rural readers. The term radical suggested that the editor intended to go to the root or heart of crucial issues, that his political plow would dig beneath the surface

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