Fernando Wood: A Political Biography

By Jerome Mushkat | Go to book overview

THIRTEEN
An Uncertain Majority

R ANDALL swung into a vigorous campaign to retain the Speakership shortly after the last barrier fell to Hayes's inauguration. Unlike two years earlier, he did everything possible to undercut Cox and Morrison, his chief rivals. Above all, Randall considered Wood indispensable. To a confidant, Randall wrote that although " Wood & I have never spoken on the subject," they made an implicit swap. For his aid, Randall agreed to name Wood "chairman [of] Ways and Means." At the moment, neither considered the chief liability in the deal -- their profound differences over the tariff -- and pushed ahead with single-minded dedication.1

Wood pulled powerful strings of money, organization, and influence. In New York, he lobbied hesitant financiers and congressmen, assuring them that Randall was safe on key fiscal issues. Within Tammany, he secured Kelly's endorsement by warning that Cox's candidacy was futile. During the summer, Wood spent a working holiday at Sharon Springs, pushing Randall among politicians vacationing from other states.2

The missing piece was the party's largest bloc of congressmen, sixty-seven Southern Democrats and their uncertain attitude toward Randall after the disputed election. While Randall called in political debts for past help he had given Southerners, Wood tested his own standing among them. It was firm. To most Southerners, Wood's racism was a vital part of their chief priority, preserving the racial order through home rule. His role in the presidential election was beside the point, then, especially since Hayes's Southern policy seemed to abandon blacks to their control.

Wood listened sympathetically to Southern grumbling about Randall's rulings and his negative attitude about subsidizing the Texas and Pacific Railroad. Wood soothed ruffled feelings through a network of congressional associates, and wrote pro-Randall editorials for the prestigious Charleston News and Courier, which Ben Wood partially owned, emphasizing Randall's belief in home rule. To three

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Fernando Wood: A Political Biography
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • One - The Beginning 1
  • Two - Foundations 13
  • Three - First Victory 31
  • Four - The Model Mayor 41
  • Five - The Political Mayor 63
  • Six - The Southern Candidate 82
  • Seven - The Southern Mayor 98
  • Eight - The Politics of Loyalty 116
  • Nine - The Peace Democrat 133
  • Ten - Political Exile 152
  • Eleven - The Politics of Frustration 170
  • Twelve - Congressional Leader 190
  • Thirteen - An Uncertain Majority 221
  • Fourteen - The Man and His Career 243
  • ABBREVIATIONS USED IN NOTES 248
  • Notes 249
  • Bibliography 293
  • Index 313
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