Boss Rule in the Gilded Age: Matt Quay of Pennsylvania

By James A. Kehl | Go to book overview

13
Leader of the Anti-Hanna Forces 1900-1904

MARK HANNA quickly learned that the Quayites would not forget his affront to their leader. Penrose addressed him forcefully in the Senate cloakroom: "Senator, it probably didn't occur to you that the next legislature of Pennsylvania will send you some very disturbing news. . . . I'm simply telling you that you have some months to prepare yourself for the return of Mr. Quay who has a hell of a memory. I'd work hard during those months, senator, if I were you."1

As predicted, Quay was prepared to act. The first opportunity came when the Republican National Convention assembled in Philadelphia on June 19, 1900. Quay gathered a few stray political threads, cleverly wove them into a rope, and securely tied the hands of the national chairman. His comprehensive plan was a cooperative venture with Boss Platt of New York, who was anxious to transplant Governor Theodore Roosevelt, his enfant terrible, into the national arena because he was a threat to the boss's system. By muscling into the state's patronage picture, the governor was slowly wrecking the Platt machine. Platt had confidentially requested Hanna's support for a campaign to make the second position on the ticket available to Roosevelt. He interpreted Hanna's refusal as retaliation for his endorsement of Reed over McKinley during the 1896 nomination hassle, and he was stymied until Quay came to the rescue.2

Quay knew that the selection of a candidate for vice-president was the last and least significant function of a national chairman. Usually the slot was assigned as a consolation prize to a defeated faction or a different section of the nation. The Beaver boss decided that in 1900 the second spot on the ticket

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