Boss Rule in the Gilded Age: Matt Quay of Pennsylvania

By James A. Kehl | Go to book overview

12
Exercises in Defensive Power 1897-1900

McKINLEY'S presidential victory blunted Quay's aggressiveness, although he himself did not admit it publicly for several years. No longer concerned with the development of a national political empire of his own, he was nevertheless determined to retain control of the Republican machine he had built in Pennsylvania, at least through the remainder of his senatorial term. If he had not been in the midst of a running battle with John Wanamaker and the Republican insurgents, he probably would have retired in 1898. But in that instance, like so many others in his career, he would not withdraw while under attack.1

The entry of Mark Hanna into the new Congress eclipsed Quay's senatorial power. Taking his seat in the Senate for the first time in 1897 (a vacancy had been deliberately created so that the governor of Ohio could appoint him), the chairman of the Republican National Committee rose to prominence more rapidly than any of his predecessors. He had nominated and elected Mckinley, and this feat alone commanded immediate respect from his senatorial colleagues. At the same time it gave him an entree to the White House that no other senator enjoyed. When an appointment or project lay unnoticed on the corner of the president's desk and a gentle nudge was needed, Hanna was most frequently sought out by the impatient legislator and asked to call the item to the president's attention. Graciously responding to such requests, he quickly developed more power in the White House and in the Senate than any of his fellow senators.2

Quay accepted Hanna's new leadership with characteristic silence and perfunctorily went about the task of protecting the interests of his

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