Boss Rule in the Gilded Age: Matt Quay of Pennsylvania

By James A. Kehl | Go to book overview

8
Altruism Versus Practical Politics 1889-1890

SURPRISINGLY, Quay and Harrison had never met. They had both been delegates to the 1880 national convention, but moved in completely different circles; Quay was among the Immortal 306 while Harrison maneuvered to nominate Garfield.

With the 1888 election over, Harrison received congratulatory messages from all parts of the nation, and well-wishers with either gratuitous advice or the desire for political recognition thronged to Indianapolis. Quay meanwhile remained busy in Washington, securing the loose election ends so that the Democrats could not "steal Congress." He too received accolades from partisans in all states of the Union, and in the Republican press he was compared to every hero from Cato to Napoleon, from Washington to Lincoln. Depicted as the only public man, other than U. S. Grant, who had achieved political leadership through the eloquence of silence, he was approached, in person and by letter, by nearly every politician who had rendered service during the campaign. To these seekers he was certainly a more prominent figure than the president-elect, but he endeavored to turn all overtures aside. Declining countless invitations to dinners and receptions, he serenely explained: "I am the same Matt Quay I always was, and I don't want any demonstration made over me."1

Harrison expressed his appreciation to Quay for the "brilliant work done during the campaign" and extended an invitation to visit Indianapolis "at such time as suits your convenience." Being a practical-minded politician, Quay assumed that the president-elect would recognize his accomplishments, as the nation had, and would freely respond with practical rewards. When,

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