The Treason of the Senate

By David Graham Phillips | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
Fairbanks, Hale, and Frye

FAIRBANKS, the presiding genius of the Aldrich-Bailey Senate, is, technically, not a member of it. But no account of the leadership in the citadel of "the interests" would be adequate if it neglected him. The story of his rise from a young Indianapolis lawyer with rich, influential relatives, in 1874, to senatorial multimillionaire, vicè-president, and Harriman candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, is a typical Senate biography. Soon after he began to practice law, his uncle, General-Superintendent Smith of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, got him the job of attorney to the receiver of the Indiana, Bloomington & Western Railroad. For fourteen years thereafter he devoted his talents to the service of railway wreckers and reorganizers and stock and bond waterers. He laid the broad foundation of his great fortune early. The I. B. & W. was popularly regarded as much poorer than it really was. A pool was formed by the inside ring and the heavily discounted wage-checks of the road's badly paid employees were bought up; the checks were paid in full--and the young lawyer became a financier, a bulwark of conservatism and probity!

It was his clever railway work that got him Morgan's favor and the coveted position of Morgan's Middle-Western lieutenant. To indicate the man as a public factor we need not linger on the jobbery of Indianapolis, Bloomington & Western, the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton, the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & Indianapolis, the Père Marquette, etc. Fairbanks grew richer and richer, bought Indiana Republican heelers, financed Indiana Republican and independent newspapers, including the chief Republican papers of the state, the "Indianapolis Journal" and the "Indianapolis News"; he made addresses to religious bodies, backed the machine with his money bags, became a statesman, a senator in 1897, and vice-president through the popularity of Roosevelt in 1905. While he was "representing" the people of Indiana as a senator in 1901, he and his protector, Morgan, quarreled over the famous, or rather infamous, Joss railway bill drawn by Morgan's chief lawyer, Stetson. Fairbanks promised Morgan that Governor Durbin would sign the bill. Durbin either would not or dared not. Though the Fairbanks machine punished Durbin's "treachery" by retiring him from public life, Morgan remained "sore." This and some C. H. & D. matters caused Fairbanks to find it expedient to transfer himself to the service of Harriman. It is with the Harriman branch of "the interests" that he is now identified, and under its auspices delegates--chiefly colored delegates from the South--are in the way of purchase as Fairbanks's support for the Republican presidential nomination.

As senator, Fairbanks was always quick to rally with the faithful round Aldrich, against the people. As presiding officer of the Senate, his opportunities for direct service are necessarily limited. He is still a Wall Street speculator, for his political expenses are a heavy drain. His most ardent senatorial supporters in his presidential ambition are Hemenway of Indiana and young Brandegee of Connecticut-- which is, of itself, enough to "locate" them.

Will "the interests" nominate him as the Republican presidential candidate in 1908? The present plan of the Aldrich-Ryan con

-93-

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