Boss Rule in the Gilded Age: Matt Quay of Pennsylvania

By James A. Kehl | Go to book overview
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The Making of a President 1888

EXHAUSTED from more than a week of intensive convention maneuvering that demanded a daily routine of four hours of bed and twenty hours of bedlam, Quay hastened to Washington to handle a few emergencies and then escaped to Brigantine Beach, north of Atlantic City, to relax. Even this retreat to his favorite New Jersey fishing haunt was not without its political overtones. The Republican National Committee was scheduled to meet in New York on July 10 to select a new national chairman and organize for the coming campaign, but Quay deliberately stayed away. Although a member of this committee, he planned to be absent because he was considered a leading contender for the chairmanship. Not certain that he should accept the challenge, he was nevertheless determined that he was not going to be on hand to submit to questioning. Either he would be named to the post without qualification or he would willingly see it pass to someone else.

In preliminary discussions concerning the chairmanship held at the convention, there had been a division of opinion. Western Republicans did not want to see responsibility for victory pass into the hands of an easterner whose primary interest was the tariff. Assuming that the electoral votes of New York were easier to corral than those of Indiana, they feared that a chairman from an industrial state would misplace the campaign emphasis, downgrading their desires for regulation of the railroads, public land subsidies and so forth. Thus Quay's absence from the committee meeting was a direct result of his desire to avoid this controversy, particularly since he regarded New York as the key to success in the fall. As a safeguard to western interest, William W. Dudley and John C. New, both of Indiana, were named to the


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Boss Rule in the Gilded Age: Matt Quay of Pennsylvania


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