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leaders of the anti-Blaine contingent believed themselves spokesmen of all that was reputable and the custodians of all that was honorable in their party. And it was difficult for them to believe that the representatives chosen by that party in every section of the country could refuse to follow them. But the young man from New York, the young man who had shattered the ring that had been sending assemblymen from Murray Hill, and who had forced a merit law through a hostile legislature, was right. Mr. Blaine was nominated. The first day of the convention was taken up in temporary organization. The second saw the wrangle over a platform, and the debate which waked when the attempt was made to pledge every member of the convention to the support of the ticket to be nominated. And at 10 o’clock on the morning of June 5, 1884, the hour for conflict had come. In the first ballot Mr. Blaine led, with Mr. Edmunds a close second, and the following list of “favorite sons” trailing away with unimportant votes: Arthur, Logan, Hawley, W. T. Sherman and Robert Lincoln. The second ballot showed a decided gain for
the man from Maine. Mr. Roosevelt and his friends worked as they never had worked before, for they believed the nomination of that man meant the defeat of the party at the polls; but it was to no avail. The organization of the Blaine forces had been far too thorough. Not only were the delegates in general infected with that enthusiasm which roused wherever his name was mentioned, but a careful reading of the reports, as well as the testimony of thosestill living-who attended the convention, is to the effect that the galleries were packed with Blaine adherents. When "nominations were in order," Edmund's name evoked a decorous and respectable cheering. President Arthur's nomination was greeted with all the applause which Federal officials, grateful for favors expected, could give it. Robert Lincoln won but a perfunctory greeting. But when the blind preacher from Ohio told of the matchless qualities of James G. Blaine, there was a continuous and deafening roar of applause for the space of fifteen minutes; and it began anew at intervals, and roared again when the peroration was concluded.
Blaine was the idol of the convention!
The fourth and last ballot was as follows:
Blaine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 541
And it seemed that the young reformer from New York had lost. Yet in the course of time it was discovered by even the most practical politicians of his party that every prophecy he had made was realized. The nominee of that convention was defeated at the polls in November– the first of his party to suffer such a fate in twenty-four years.
It is a little curious to note that in this period of his life Mr. Roosevelt was the close personal friend of Mr. Grover Cleveland, then governor of New York, and who in this same summer was nominated as the candidate of the Democrats for the presidential chair. Both were advocates of reform in politics, and that wiser reform which goes to the fact of government. To men not fully informed as to the situation in New York State, Mr. Cleveland's doctrine may have been regarded as not wholly sincere; for he was a member of the party which, in a national way, was out of power. And it was national politics as much as state, that they sought to purify. But there was as great a degree of sincerity, very likely, in the position of the Democrat as in that of the Republican, even in the broader field. But that man who views both Mr. Cleveland and Mr. Roosevelt, in this campaign of 1884, as seekers after either state or national advantage, lacks information as to the motives that controlled them. Mr. Cleveland, because his party had long been out of power in the nation, has been accused of an ulterior motive in seconding those measures of reform in the public service for which Mr. Roosevelt so sturdily battled. And the latter has been regarded as trying for the command of forces in the Empire State. But both estimates are wrong. Mr. Cleveland could hardly have departed in so short a time from the course which had engrossed him from the beginning, for he was a “York State man”; and it is doubtful if he realized then the national possibilities that were opening before him. On the other hand, it would be folly to accuse Mr. Roosevelt of cribbing and confining his labors to the horizon of state politics. He felt the need of reform there as much as did Mr. Curtis. But he saw the need of a national change of heart; and all his effort in the political arena was devoted to securing it. And yet these two men were friends. They were both battling for a better government, because they both believed a better government was possible, and was—by the very exigency of the occasion—made necessary. Mr. Roosevelt was defeated in his labors at the national convention, and a campaign of noise and enthusiasm began immediately, and reminded him for five months of the failure recorded against him. His personal friend, Mr. Cleveland, represented the very principles, so far as reform and the merit system were concerned, for which he had battled. And yet not even the most inveterate enemy of Mr. Roosevelt has ever accused him of supporting his friend in the election, at the expense of the nominee of his party. Therein is found the realization of his doctrine that a man may at times follow the lead of