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General William Henry Harrison died a month after inauguration from exposure on that occasion, and fatigue imposed by the rush of office-seekers. Tyler was placed on the ticket to heal a political grievance in Virginia, and in his views of public policy he was sympathetic rather with the Democracy than the Whigs.
General Zachary Taylor was the card played by Thurlow Weed to beat the Democrats with a Mexican war hero. Taylor ranked as a "Whig, but not an ultra Whig.” There was no little labor expended in adjusting language to give the Whigs confidence they were not to be Tylerized. Millard Fillmore was Weed's idea of the best that could be done when Daniel Webster declined the Vice-Presidency with Taylor for head of the ticket, just as he had declined the honor of running as the second man of the Harrison ticket. This explains the tradition that Webster twice refused the Presidency. He refused nominations that would have carried him into the great office.
Under Fillmore's Administration, the Whig party took decisive steps toward ultimate extinction.
The three murdered Presidents were Republicans, two of them from Ohio. No Democratic President ever died in office. The succession of Andrew Johnson to Abraham Lincoln was not a success, and there are still traceable evil consequences flowing from the anxiety of Republicans to put on the appearance of nationality, in response to the reproach that they were sectional, as the force that was conservative of slavery in a great section of the common country. Mr. Johnson was not a gentleman of delicate balance of the faculty termed the judicial. It never was fair to call him a traitor. He was capable of swinging dangerously far between extremes. His oscillations might have damaged our form of government. Still, he abolished slavery in Kentucky, with the urgency and help of General Palmer, and expanded the country by taking the advice of William H. Seward and Charles Sumner, in annexing Alaska.
Garfield was murdered by a squabbler for spoils, a wretch whose vanity was a disease. Chester Arthur was nominated to conciliate the supporters of Conkling in pressing General Grant for a third term; but his position was that of the faction that assailed Garfield, and he suffered greatly because he was misunderstood and sensitive. He sought manfully to meet and subdue the cross currents in the vortex into which he was thrown, and it was practically impossible for him to keep Garfield's Cabinet to the end. He treated all with courtesy, and won respect as President; but though nearly all the States in Republican Convention approved his administration, his battle for election to the Presidency was lost when it was begun.
Mr. Roosevelt does not suffer from the disabilities and inheritance of hostility which affected his predecessors who reached the Presidency through
the Constitutional provision, and the laws fixing the succession. His candidacy was not that of an opponent of the McKinley Administration, though he certainly was not the choice of the Cabinet as a body for the Vice-Presidential nomination, one of themselves being preferred. This was, however, all in good part, and an honorable competition, and the same people, in the largest dimensions of the word as applicable to the Republicans, were for Roosevelt, as they were for McKinley, and for substantially the same reasons, one being that they were beyond question the strongest combination that could be presented. The association was a happy one, and the bearing of Roosevelt has been observed by all observers, and praised by those whose good words are praise indeed. He has answered admirably all reasonable anticipations, and strengthened the confidence of the people.
Notwithstanding this, there are persons who have control of a share of publicity, and use it to insist there will presently be a storm that will blow in an altogether new Cabinet, and substantially a new policy.
The rumor that the Honorable John Hay, who, as Secretary of State, stands next to Roosevelt in the Presidential line, is about to leave the Cabinet, is offered in the same places and by the same persons, and with some shapes that were given the same story at nearly the same intervals, during the Administration of McKinley. The fact behind this is, Mr. Hay does not care to hold office, and his weariness of official labor has for some time been known to his friends. This feeling has no doubt been made more acute by his bereavement in the loss of his son. There is, perhaps, another cause; the Honorable Secretary of State may be sensible of increasing fatigue in the endless struggle in the Senate over treaties, which, no matter what their merit, are, as a custom, subjected to a line of criticism by Senators who care for treaties only as a mark for their arrows, tipped, not with deadly poison, but touched with various tinctures of Senatorial sensibility, that are irritating. An exception was made of the recent Nicaragua treaty, which was speedily confirmed, increasing Hay's freedom and fame.
President Roosevelt assuredly met all the requirements of courtesy, sympathy, personal politeness, the consideration of the public requirements of conservatism. He not only told the Cabinet he wanted them to remain with him, but there was one thing on which his mind was fixed, irrespective of their wishes, he “could not accept any resignations." He felt it an obligation of public duty to say this, and mean it with the full force of his words. This was neither the promise nor the mandate for a term of years or months. He held the Cabinet as emergency men. He did no more than his duty, and they accepted the situation in the spirit with which he gave it interpretation. The Cabinet has many strong points, the stronger that it is composed of the friends, in a special sense, of the late President, who loved them as they loved
him. All the members of the Cabinet were agreeable to and devoted to him. As a happy family they gave united strength to the public service with individual zeal. The fact of the special personal regard between the Cabinet and the late President cannot be applied to assure the endurance of the relations under the changed conditions. President Roosevelt's demand that the Cabinet should stay with him implied the presence of possibilities that there are influences with a tendency to disintegration. One thing accepted is that if Roosevelt was setting out to make a certain journey, he probably would not pursue without deviation the path of McKinley. There is no man with more striking characteristics than those of Roosevelt. He and McKinley were good friends, not because they moved in the same ways. Their differences were mutually attractive. This principle might not apply to the half dozen men of the Cabinet. There is no occasion for public alarm because the Cabinet has changed. The new appointments are satisfactory. There may at any time arise public questions upon which there must be action, and respectable differences of opinion respected. The President's powers are not in any degree impaired or limited by the circumstances of the succession.
Truthfully and very handsomely the London Standard of September 16th, said:
“The case of President Roosevelt differs from that of his predecessors. He was made Vice-President, not because he was an obscure 'safe' man, but because he was just the reverse. So far from being ineligible for the Presidency, he might, if he had pleased, have put himself forward against Mr. McKinley himself, with some chance of defeating him. But the party managers would not have him. He was too independent of them, too little disposed to resign his will to dictation, too strong a personality to be acceptable to any clique or caucus. Yet he had attracted the enthusiastic regard of so large a body of the American electors, that he might perhaps have defied the bosses,' and forced his way to the White House. He was too loyal to his party and to his colleagues, to set up the banner of revolt. He consented to stand aside and devote himself to his duties as Governor of New York State. But the party managers were not satisfied, and they would not rest till Mr. Roosevelt was manoeuvered into the position of Vice-President of the Republic. He submitted to the nomination with contemptuous acquiescence.”
There is one word very wrong here, though it is evidently not a misprint, for contemptuous read considerate. But there was no thought by Roosevelt of contesting the Presidential nomination then. The question some of his friends raised was whether the Vice-Presidency was on the road to the Presidency, and the thought that a Vice-President should be fit to be President carried Roosevelt into the second place.