27 Masters of Politics: In a Personal Perspective

27 Masters of Politics: In a Personal Perspective

27 Masters of Politics: In a Personal Perspective

27 Masters of Politics: In a Personal Perspective

Excerpt

TOM L. JOHNSON

I STOOD in a noisy crowd before a Cleveland newspaper office on a November night in 1907 and saw in the election returns that Tom L. Johnson had soundly beaten that stalwart Republican congressman and candidate for mayor, Theodore Elijah Burton. I was so happy at the news that I almost forgot that on that same day I had been elected to my first public office--that of clerk in a village some miles to the West.

The Republicans had done their utmost that year. President Theodore Roosevelt had prevailed upon Burton to run and had made no bones about supporting him. William H. Taft, Secretary of War and President-to-be, joined in the urging. So did James R. Garfield, Secretary of the Interior and son of an Ohio President. This made the campaign a piece of national news and a test of national Republicanism.

In three successive elections Johnson had already beaten three opponents. Burton was the best the Republicans had. He was a man of eminent respectability, high attainment as a scholarly statesman and great power in the House of Representatives. But he was also stiff, ponderous and pedantic. As he accepted the nomination, he had intoned the aphorism attributed to Julius Cæsar, Jacta alea est. This, which could have passed in parliamentary oratory, was ill suited to the rough ways of municipal politics. Cartoonists had their fun with it, and Johnson announced a personal translation, "Let 'er go, Gallagher."

Burton was nevertheless a potent speaker, with a masterly grasp of financial and corporative realities. He had the fervid support of every element in the city which represented invested wealth and . . .

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