William L. Wilson and Tariff Reform, a Biography

By Festus P. Summers | Go to book overview
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Making the Wilson Bill [1893]

ALTHOUGH WILSON was soon to become an important figure in the new administration, he remained generally in the background until mid- summer 1893 when the new Congress met. From the first he seems to have been marked for House leadership and his friends approved Cleveland's decision not to tempt him from it. On the eve of his departure for Washington, Cleveland told George F. Parker that he would like to appoint Wilson assistant to the President with a salary of ten thousand dollars to help with important matters of policy. "Yes I tell you that, while I should hate to take Wilson out of Congress," he said, "I would make him my assistant if I could. I have even half a notion to offer him the place anyhow and pay him out of my own pocket."1 He was widely mentioned for the attorney generalship and there can be little doubt that Cleveland would have considered the appointment seriously under favoring circumstances. But in view of Wilson's legislative experience, his place in the tariff-reform movement, and the apparent wish of Cleveland to have a trusted lieutenant in the House, one can easily believe that the President-elect had no thought of appointing him to a cabinet position. Cleveland sent for him and he went to Lakewood, New Jersey, on February 4, 1893, for an interview; but it is doubtful that the cabinet post was even mentioned there. As an interesting sidelight it may be noted that Isidor Straus, who occupied a cottage at Lakewood and saw Cleveland often, thought that Wilson should have been offered something on the score of courtesy at least, and he criticized Cleveland sharply for pursuing a tight-lipped, self-willed policy not only with respect to Wilson but also with Charles S. Fairchild, who had served as Secretary of the Treasury in Cleveland's first cabinet and whose

Reprinted by permission of Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., from Parker, Recollections of Grover Cleveland, pp. 187-83.


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