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Charles G. Dawes 



Charles G. Dawes 




Henry Holt and Company 

I Q53> ty Henry J/oto and Company, Inc. 

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Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 53-5274 


To the 'MLemory of 




3. CHICAGO 38 









12, WAR 164 

13, HELEN MARIA 184 





18, *1 TAKE BACK NOTHING" 258 






Charles G. Dawes 

Chapter One 


Jf Brigadier General Rufus R. Dawes had found time to 
read his copy of the Cincinnati Commercial on August 27, 1865, the 
day his first son was born, he would have found that it was one of 
those whirling, news-making days that were to he symbolic of the 
life of that son, Charles Gates Dawes, The Atlantic cable had broken 
that day after being two-thirds laid; President Andrew Johnson had 
met with his Cabinet to consider invoking the Monroe Doctrine to 
drive the Emperor Maximilian out of Mexico; and now five months 
after the last guns of the Civil War had sounded, an authoritative 
source in Washington let it be known that Jefferson Davis, recent 
President of the Confederate States, who lay in irons at Fortress 
Monroe, would soon be placed on trial. 

Even in the well-written column of the Commercials Wash- 
ington correspondent was a discussion that could riot have failed to 
be of interest to one with a small gift of prescience, for it called the 
White House "a miserable old shell in which no gentleman of com- 
fortable circumstances would, for an instant, think of living. It 
should/' the correspondent thought, "either be abandoned or made 
fit for the habitation of a President." 

The Dawes family into which the infant was born that day in 
Marietta, Ohio, was not an obscure one. The first Dawes in America, 
William, had come from England in 1635 as a member of the Massa- 
chusetts Bay Colony. There were some clergymen and teachers 
among William's descendants, but most of them became traders 
and merchants, one being senior partner in the mercantile firm of 


Dawes and Coolidge; both partners were forebears of men whose 
names, in reverse order, were one day to form a winning Presidential 
and Vice-Presidential ticket. 

According to irascible John Adams, there were even politicians 
among the early Dawes kin. One of them, Tom, may have been the 
progenitor of the smoke-filled rooms which were still operating on a 
national scale in the United States as late as 1952, In his diary, 
Adams complained that local Boston politicians wore meeting se- 
cretly in Tom Dawes' garret* 

"There they smoke tobacco until you cannot sec from one end 
of the garret to the other/' wrote the future President, There they 
drink flip, I suppose; and there they choose a moderator who puts 
questions before the voters regularly; and selectmen, assessors, war- 
dens, fire wardens, and representatives are regularly chosen before 
they are chosen in town*" The group of which Adams spoke were 
the men later known as the "Sons of Liberty/' 

The first Dawes to make page-one news was thirty-year-old 
William, the great-great-grandfatber of the man who, one hundred 
and fifty years later, was to be Vice-President of the United States, 
William rode with Paul Revere on the night of April 18, 1775* Re- 
vere took the route from Charlestown to Lexington; Dawes 
ducked the redcoats through meadows and marshes from Boston to 

Another ^eat-great-grandfathcr of Charles Gates Dawes was 
Manasseh Cutler, a graduate of Yale before the Revolutionary War, 
and a friend of Benjamin Franklin, Sagacious old Manasseh, a 
preacher, lawmaker, pamphlet writer, and botanist, was one of the 
drafters of the Ordinance of 1787, chart for the government of the 
Northwest Territory, and the document which planted the first 
substantial colony in Ohio, The Northwest Ordinance has been 
called the most notable law ever drafted by representatives of the 
American people. It provided for the settlement of the Northwest 
Territory and for the admission of states to be formed from It It 
established a public school system and provided that no law should 
ever impair the obligation of contract. Its most important provision 
was the abolition of involuntary sarritude~the first effective Wow 
struck against slavery in this country- Cutler was also & member 

of the House of Representatives from Massachusetts in the Seventh 
and Eighth Congresses. 

Marietta, in all of its customs and man-made aspects, was as 
near a Massachusetts village as its inhabitants could fashion it. For- 
ests came up to the very edge of the town. It even outdid New 
England in one arboreous respect, boasting the Rathbone elm, the 
largest of record in the United States; and there were great beeches 
and oaks. Wild crab bloomed everywhere. Sheepnose apple trees 
blossomed in its orchards, and woodbine covered its houses. Its 
churches were replicas, and its houses copies, of those in New 

The first Dawes to take up residence in Marietta was William 
Mears, son of the 1775 rider. Henry was of the second generation. 
For two complete centuries and a quarter of another, the Dawes 
family had been in the main stream of events in America; but it 
remained for Rufus R., of the third Dawes generation in Ohio, who 
came out of the Civil War a brevet brigadier general at twenty- 
six, to achieve fame beyond any of the name to that date, includ- 
ing William. 

When Lincoln issued his first call for volunteers in April, 1861, 
Rufus R* Dawes was engaged in business at Mauston, Juneau 
County, Wisconsin. Accompanying the President's proclamation 
was an announcement that the Badger State's quota would be lim- 
ited to an infantry regiment of 780 men. Two weeks later twenty- 
two-year-old Rufus R. Dawes had recruited 100 men, and two 
months later his company had been mustered into service. They 
bore the mellifluous title, "Lemonweir Minute Men/* for the lovely 
river which curled from the softly swelling hills through the beau- 
tiful valley where most of the men lived. For the most part wearing 
the red shirts of raftsmen, some in country homespun, and a few in 
broadcloth and silk hats, the Dawes recruits arrived at Camp Ran- 
dall in Madison so meagerly drilled that they kicked one another's 
heels as they walked along. 

At Madison, Dawes met Edward S* Bragg, Captain of Com- 
pany E, Sixth Wisconsin, who immediately impressed him as "the 
brightest man in the regiment/* Bragg, at thirty-four, was the most 

6 Portrait of an American; 

influential Democrat in Wisconsin, one of the state's most noted 
lawyers, and a Stephen A. Douglas delegate to both the Charles- 
ton and Baltimore Democratic National Conventions the previous 
year; but, like Dawes, with little military knowledge. 

An intimate friendship was to spring up between the men so 
different and yet each with a personality which put him naturally 
in command. Bragg, diminutive, all port and mien, swank and swag- 
ger; and Dawes, of quiet stability, weie often to alternate in com- 
mand of the Sixth Regiment of the Iron Brigade. Each was to be 
the idol of his soldiers, both were to attain the rank of brigadier 
general, and both weie to serve in Congress. 

By August 7, 1861, Company K and the rest of the Sixth Regi- 
ment were at Camp Kalorama on Meridian Heights in Washington, 
D,C, They went into action in June, 1862, for McDowell's ten-day 
wild-goose chase after Stonewall Jackson hi the Shcnundaah Valley; 
and, on July 31, when Pope had succeeded McDowell in command 
of the Army of Virginia, the Wisconsin men, 2,800 strong and led 
by General John Gibbon, moved into the bloody forty-five days cov- 
ering Rappahannock, Gainesville, and the Second Bull Run, and 
the battles of South Mountain and Antietam in the Maryland Cam- 
paign. In those operations, Gibbon's 2,800 men suffered a loss of 
x>592 and came out of the carnival of blood with the historic title, 
the "Iron Brigade/' to be us famous for its valor in the North as 
the "Stonewall Brigade" in the Southland, 

At Antietam, recently elevated Lieutenant Colonel Edward S. 
Bragg was wounded, and Dawes, now major, took command of the 
Sixth Wisconsin in the midst of the fierce struggle* At the battle's 
end, it had lost 400 men killed and wounded. A few days later, 
when President Lincoln came to review the Union forces* Dawes 

'The flower of our regiment was slaughtered hi that terrible 
corn field* , . We had about ,050 men in Jim* for the review. . , , 
Mr, Lincoln was manifestly touched by the worn appearance of our 
men, and he himself looked serious and careworn, He bowed low 
in response to the salute of our tattered flags. As I sat upon my 
horse in front of the regiment, I caught a glimpse of Mr, Lincoln's 
face which has remained photographed upon my memory. Com- 
pared with the small figure of General McClallan who, with his 


jaunty air and somewhat gaudy appearance, cantered along beside 
him, Mr. Lincoln seemed to tower as a giant." 

In the switching of command between quick-moving Bragg 
and sure-footed, bold Dawes, the Sixth Wisconsin was led by Bragg 
at Fredericksburg, Fitzhugh's Crossing, and Chancellorsville. From 
Chancellorsville, when Stonewall Jackson swept down on the Fed- 
erals in the last charge of that great Confederate General, there 
came the first of the false reports that Dawes had been killed in 
battle. As that report circulated, he and Bragg were getting the 
first sleep they had had in many nights. 

"Bragg and I lay down on the same oil cloth. I remember dis- 
tinctly that Bragg wore his spurs and that he kicked in his sleep/* 

On the pleasant morning of June 30, 1863, when the Sixth Wis- 
consin in the First Battalion of the First Bngade, First Division, 
First Army Corps of the reorganized Army led the way for Meade's 
legions across the Maryland line into Pennsylvania on the way to 
Gettysburg, Bragg, the "Little Colonel," was again disabled, and 
Dawes rode at the head of his men. 

"The regiment will go out strong in health and cheerful in 
spirit and determined always to sustain its glorious history," he 
had written to Mary Gates. "It has been my ardent ambition to 
lead it through one campaign, and now the indications are that 
my opportunity has come. If I do anything glorious, I shall expect 
you to be proud of me. . * . I have a good mount, she knows the 
orders of battalion drill as well as the men do. ... If there is a 
battle, watch the papers to see if General John F. Reynolds and 
General James S. Wadsworth figure in it By them, you can trace 


On July i, there came to Marietta the first flash of the tele- 
graph from Gettysburg. It told that General Reynolds and Wads- 
worth's division had opened the battle and had been cut up severely 
in the fight 

Now Lieutenant Colonel Dawes, commanding the Sixth Wis- 
consin, had been detached from the Iron Brigade by order of Gen- 
eral Abner Doubleday and rushed to the support of Wadsworih's 
division, which was being forced back and outflanked. 

The fire of the Sixth Wisconsin checked the advancing line of 
the Southerners, who took refuge in a railroad cut. Dawes' mare 

8 Portrait of an American: 

had been shot from under him. Dawes was thrown sprawling in 
front of his men. The mare hobbled to the rear on three legs. On 
foot, Dawes charged the cut and, in the 175 paces of the advance, 
he lost one out of every two men in his command before he ob- 
tained the surrender of the Second Mississippi, the only regiment to 
surrender as an organization during the battle. 

"The commander of the regiment, Lieutenant Colonel R. R. 
Dawes, proved himself one of the ablest officers in the field/* Gen- 
eral Doubleday said in his report, "The moment was a critical one, 
involving the defeat, perhaps the utter rout, of our Union forces/' 

To Mary Gates, Dawes wrote: 

"God has preserved me unharmed through another desperate, 
bloody battle. Regiment lost 168 men. . . * Only four field officers 
in the brigade have escaped, and I am one of them/* 

On July 4, Dawes passed his twenty-fifth birthday supervising 
the burial of fallen Union and Southern soldiers. He found his mare 
and arranged for her keep and shipment from Gettysburg to Wis- 
consin, a full 1,000 miles. 

Six months after Gettysburg, on January 6, 1864, the Sixth Wis- 
consin went baek to Milwaukee for a month's furlough and to 
recruit. Dawes, now a colonel, stopped in Marietta and* on January 
18, he married Mary Beman Gates, 

Mary Gates, like the Daweses and most other Marietta families, 
was of New England stock. Her father, Beman Gates, had come to 
Ohio from Connecticut. At twenty-one, he was an editor; at twenty- 
four, he was of established position and income; later he became a 
railroad builder, and in 1863 had organized the First National Bank 
of Marietta. 

Mary Gates had been brought up in the home at Fourth and 
Putnam Streets, known as "the house with the big windows" The 
Gates house betokened comfortable financial circumstances, and 
Mary Gates' windows looked out on flowering terraces, a box-bor- 
dered formal garden, the common annuals and perennials, towering 
trees, a spring, and the college campus* 

Dawes and his bride went to Milwaukee and hfe furloughed 
regiment, traveling part of their journey in a freight caboose. Then 
he returned to war for the hardest campaigning of all; the Wilderness, 


Spotsylvama, the Bloody Angle, Laurel Hill, Jericho Ford, North 
Anna, Bethesda Church, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg. 

On April 14, 1865, four months and thirteen days before the birth 
of their son, Charles Gates, Brevet Brigadier General Dawes and 
his young wife arrived in Washington on their war-interrupted 
honeymoon. They planned to attend Ford's Theater that night, to 
see the play "Our American Cousin." Why they turned back 
their tickets and thus were not witnesses of the assassination of 
Abraham Lincoln was told in a letter written by Mary Dawes to her 
mother, Mrs. Beman Gates. 

'We barely escaped seeing the whole affair. Just after we got 
into Washington Friday, we heard that Grant and President Lincoln 
were to be at Ford's Theater that evening, and we made our ar- 
rangements to be there; but we walked over the Capitol grounds 
and around the streets so long before supper that I was so completely 
tired out that I told Rufe that, if there was any possibility of seeing 
President Lincoln anywhere else, I just could not go to the theater. 
So we contented ourselves to give up seeing him for the evening, 
fully expecting to see him Sunday at Dr. Phineas D. Gurley's New 
York Avenue Presbyterian Church, which he scarcely ever failed to 

The Marietta Iron Works, manufacturers of railroad iron, pros- 
pered; and, as his fortune grew, Rufus Dawes looked for other in- 
vestments. Oil-and-gas exploration was under way in southeastern 
Ohio> and he made money in that, too. Successful in all operations 
he undertook, within a few years he was rated wealthy. 

By 1872 his attention was devoted almost wholly to the Marietta 
Iron Works. A kinsman, William P. Cutler, was a prime mover in 
the building of the Hocking Valley and other short lines in Ohio, 
Indiana, and Illinois, which would later become parts of the Illinois 
Central, Baltimore and Ohio, and of the Pennsylvania Railroad sys- 
tems. Cutler and his associates had been the largest customer for 
Dawes' rails, Now, in 3872, Dawes was to land the biggest customer 
of them all. Jay Cooke wanted all the production the Marietta plant 
could give him for his extensions of the Northern Pacific and other 
western railroads, 

The panic of 1873 brought sudden and complete financial dis- 

io Portrait of an American: 

aster to Rufus Dawes. Jay Cooke and other railroad builders to 
whom he had been furnishing great quantities of iron rails were 
unable to pay for consignments alieady delivered, and gave no more 
orders. The rolling mill closed, never to open again* General Dawes 
soon engaged in the wholesale lumber business and, although he 
never recovered the fortune lost in 1873, he eventually became mod- 
erately prosperous. 

In 1880, Rufus Dawes received the Republican nomination for 
Congress in his district. His opponent was Adom'ram Judson (Silver 
Bill) Warner, like Dawes an ex-Union general Their units had 
fought within 200 yards of one another at Gettysburg, They were 
warm friends; and the campaign, while fiercely partisan, was per- 
sonally friendly, but not intended to be as friendly as young Charles 
Gates Dawes made it. 

On the eve of election, the Warnerites organized a torch* 
light parade. It marched up Fourth Street past the Dawes borne 
and, to the consternation of others of the Dawes family sitting on 
their front porch, Charley Dawes was in the front rank of the band, 
playing a flute, He explained, when he returned home that night, 
that it was a purely professional appearance for which he had been 
paid. But to the others of the family it was heresy, compounded by 
the fact that the remuneration ho had received had not even been 
in sound money; the pay had been a silver dollar! 

Dawes won the election. Fifteen-year-old Charles, grown a 
little more orthodox in his Republicanism, always vividly remem- 
bered March 4, 1881; for on that day, not only did his father be- 
came a member of the House of Representatives in the Forty-seventh 
Congress, but Senator John Sherman of Ohio provided the youth 
with a ticket to the members' gallery of the Senate. Young Charles 
saw Rutherford B, Hayes go out as President and James A, Carficld 
come in; watched Vice-President Arthur in one of the few times he 
was to preside over the Senate; listened to James C, Rlainc of Maine 
speak on the last day before he resigned from the Senate to become 
Gat-field's Secretary of State; and thrilled to the nwfestie oratory 
of Senator Roscoe Conlcling of New York, who found an occasion 
to speak, as he always did when the Senate galleries were crowded* 

When young Dawes went to John Sherman's tiny office in thi* 


Capitol to thank him for his courtesies, he found the Senator and 
his brother, General William Tecumseh Sherman, together, and re- 
membered that the lawmaker addressed his soldier brother as 

Congressman Rufus Dawes found the Republican side of the 
House of Representatives well filled with ex-Union soldiers, from 
privates to major generals. On the Democratic side, there was a 
mixture of ex-Union and ex-Confederate veterans. His old friend, 
ex-Brigadier General Edward S. Bragg, the "Little Colonel" of the 
Sixth Wisconsin, sat as a Democrat from that state. 

Dawes was but one term in Congress; but his service was no- 
table for two things: one, a piece of legislation; the other, a vote. 
He introduced and pushed to passage legislation establishing diplo- 
matic relations between the United States and Persia. 

Congressman Dawes was one of the small group of thirty-five 
House members who voted against passage of the Chinese Exclusion 
Act. Senator Henry Laurens Dawes, of Massachusetts, was one 
of the six Senators so aligned. Whatever the merits of the bill, failure 
to support it was a fatal political error. Organized labor in his Ohio 
district arose en masse against him. In Marietta, the Chair Makers 
Union, the district's largest labor union, marched in a body to the 
polls to vote against Dawes and for (Silver Bill) Warner, from 
whom he had wrested the seat in 1880. Warner won the close elec- 
tion by 600 votes. 

Rufus R. Dawes never again held public office after leaving 
Congress. He had strong support for the Republican gubernatorial 
nomination in 1889, but his health had begun to fail, and the 
nomination went to Joseph B, Foraker. 

In August of that year, the wiry man who, in 1863, had gone 
through a half-dozen pitched battles and many skirmishes and, 
for a period of eight months, had never once slept in a house, be- 
came critically ill of exhaustion. He partially regained his health 
but never again was able to walk, He continued, however, to con- 
duct his lumber business. New inventions helped. 

"The development of the long-distance telephone has been of 
immeasurable help to me with my restricted activities/' he wrote, 
"As early as January, 1886, from Marietta, I talked business with 

1st Portrait of an American: 

perfect ease with men m Parkersbuxg, West Virginia, over our tele- 
phone. Now I am able to reach more distant places/' 

The Dawes family was closely knit, not only m the ex-Union 
officer's immediate family, but there were close ties among the 
Gateses, Cutlers, Bartletts, Millses, Elsworths, Bosworths, Shedds, 
and other kinsmen. 

All the Daweses seem to have had an uncommon affection for 
one another. In letters and journal entries, Charles Gates Dawes 
was to tell with pride of the achievements of his brothers Bemaa, 
Rufus, and Henry, and his sisters Mary and Bessie. 

But each Dawes had a mind of his own. Although his father 
was a member of the Loyal Legion, Charles Gates wrote a letter 
to the Cincinnati Commercial Gazette attacking the Legion's prin- 
ciple of primogeniture and its requirement that its members wear 
full-dress suits at the annual banquets. And when Charles Dawes 
wrote a letter to the Marietta Register warmly endorsing legislation 
pending in Washington to establish the Interstate Commerce Com- 
mission to regulate railroads, his brother Ruftus Cutler Dawes wrote 
an answering letter, blistering the argument point by point. 

Young Charles did things young men of those days did. He 
engaged in athletics, won a bicycling prize, was a good debater 
and a regular attendant at the First Presbyterian Chxirch* 

He seemed little interested in politics after his father left Con- 
gress; but when, during the Cleveland-Blaine campaign in 2,884, 
both Elaine and Thomas Bracket* Reed of Maine spoke In Mari- 
etta on the same day, he thought it was a great event. There were 
torchlights and a great throng; and Grandmother Gates, who was 
also there, said it was the biggest political event in Marietta since 
the "Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too" campaign of 1840, 

From Marietta College, Dawes was graduated fourth in his 
class. He took groat pride in his alma mater* Not so good a student 
was his brother Beman, whose antics brought a scries of suspensions. 

When they returned for commencement exercises a few years 
later, Charles said reverently, This old school has turned out some 
great men*** 

*Yes,* replied Beman, "it turned me out three times-* 1 

At Cincinnati Law School, Dawes studied in the law office of 


the dean of the school, former Major General Jacob Dolson Cox. 
Cox, a handsome man, six feet three inches in height and of military 
bearing, had been a Civil War division commander, first Governor 
of Ohio at the end of the war, member of Congress, and Secretary 
of Interior in the Cabinet of President Grant. 

Dawes' diligent study attracted the attention of General Cox, 
and the veteran barrister gave his protg6 careful tutoring. Cox 
also came to have great faith in the business judgment of Dawes, 
and to be his financial backer. 

Dawes* high examination grades were marked up by a young 
Cincinnati lawyer, William Howard Taft, later to he President and, 
afterward, Chief Justice of the United States. 

The paths of Taft and Dawes, who were one day to have desks 
100 feet apart in the Capitol at Washington, one as Vice-President 
and the other as Chief Justice, never crossed until years later, when 
both were in public life. 

A Marietta College student was Byron Bancroft Johnson, later 
to be one of the organizers, and lifetime president, of the American 
League of Professional Baseball Clubs. Johnson was no scholastic 
wizard, but Dawes put him down as the student most likely to suc- 
ceed financially. 

Johnson decided the Marietta baseball park needed a fence, and 
set out to raise the funds, On his list of prospects was Beman Gates, 
grandfather of Charles Gates Dawes. Beman Gates, though perhaps 
a distant kinsman of "Bet-a-Million" John W. Gates, was no spiritual 
kinsman of that picturesque plunger in free-handed money matters, 

*1 could not believe it when Johnson told me he had induced 
my grandfather to contribute twenty-five dollars," Dawes said. 
"When he convinced me, I told him that a man capable of getting 
that amount from Beman Gates was destined to succeed financially." 

Johnson went on to Cincinnati Law School with Dawes, and was 
a fellow student in General Cox's law office. 

Another classmate of Dawes at Cincinnati Law School was 
George Buckland, of Freemont, Ohio, a son of Major General H P. 
Buckland. General Bucldand was a business associate of ex-President 
Hayes. Dawes wrote an account of a summer visit to Fremont, as 
a guest of General Buckland, He spent a day and night at the home 
of the ex-President, as a guest of his son, Webb, and heard remfiois- 

14 Portrait of an American: 

cences of General Grant, who had just died at Mount McGregor. 
Participating in the discussion of why Grant sought a third 
term as President were Ohio's four most eminent citizens: Senator 
John Sherman, Hayes, and Generals Buckland and Cox. Dawes had 
not yet started his diaries, but he made a record of the conversations 
of the four most distinguished men he had over seen together in 
a private gathering up to that time. 

The sort of man he was to be was very clearly indicated by now* 
"Henry," said Bill Riley, brakeman on the Marietta, Columbus 
and Northern Railway, * your brother Charley Dawes is the com- 
monest man I ever saw/' 

"What do you moan by common?'' Henry asked a little dubiously, 
"Well,* said Bill Riley, "you know how common I am. I've got 
no education, and I don't live in the best part of town. Charley, he's 
got education and he knows all the big people. So he got on my train, 
and I told him I was going to get married. 'That's fine. Bill* he says, 
'when is the wedding?' I told him. "Bill/ ho says, Tm coming, and 111 
be your best man/ He did come, sure enough, and everyone liked 
him. He was the commonest man in the crowd." 

General Jacob D. Cox was struck by "his intense energy and 
his vigorous independence of thought/' 

Atlee Pomerenc, a Cincinnati Law School mate, afterward to 
be a Democratic United States Senator from Ohio, culled Dawes 
"a man of friendships, . . a very definite person," 

Grandmother Dawes, in her diary, referred to his "warm 
thoughtfulness and great consideration of others/* 

During his college and law-school years, Dawes worked the 
summers as sxirveyor for the Marietta, Columbus, and Northern 
Railway. Both at school and in his work, he gathered an infinite 
number of friends, and kept them through the years* 

The Dawes family had been a fournal-kwping ow% even back 
to old Manasseh Cutler, whose papers had come into the possession 
of the family in the boyhood of Charles Gates Dawes. Old Manas- 
seh's frankness had shocked Grandmother Dawes, a prim lady of 
the i88oX who "didn't like the notion of the old clergyman going 
to horse races and dances and balls, and drinking wfno at dinners, 
and she doesn't want our boys ever to know, so she wfll guard 
tibese papers pretty closely as long a$ she lives," 


When Charles Gates Dawes, at the suggestion of his grand- 
father Beman Gates, began keeping the diary, he was a graduate of 
Marietta College and held a degree he had obtained from Cincinnati 
Law School before he reached twenty-one. Marietta, oldest town in 
the Northwest Territory, had only 5,000 population and, although 
he had once written in unconditional glorification of his birthplace, 
"Nature made no errors in the creation of this Muskingum country/* 
it afforded no glowing opportunities for young lawyers. 

While Dawes nursed his law degree and waited for the arrival 
of his twenty-first birthday and a suitable location for his legal tal- 
ents, he entered into partnership with his father in the production 
of railroad ties and car timbers His first diary entry was dated 
January 3, 1887: 

*1 went to Dexter City on train but missed seeing ray man, so 
walked to South Olive to look after some badly hewed railroad 
ties," he wrote. 'While there, a freight train was wrecked and a 
passenger train blocked* Found Father and General Lew Wallace, 
the author of Ben HUT, on the passenger train, and we three went 
to supper at Captain J, Woods while the wreck was being cleared. 
At Caywood, we were delayed by another train wreck, but the 
General delivered his lecture, notwithstanding. I went with Bessie 

"Had a pleasant time with General Wallace. Received a very 
different impression of him than I received at the age of twelve 
years (I think). I took dinner with Mary Elston at his home in 
Crawfordsville. He made too much fun of Mary and me at that 

The name of General Wallace was only the first of those of 
famous Americans with which his diary was to be studded. In a 
long career, he kept this diary, the totaled entries of which not only 
made him his own best historian but, kept contemporaneously as it 
was, gave on-the-spot illumination of some of the world's greatest 
events* Its second entry contained the name of a Cincinnati Law 
School mate, and the man with whom he had the longest of all his 
friendships, Atlee Pomerene. 

"Arrived at Canton, Atlee Pomerene was at the depot to meet 
me. Went to the hotel where he is boarding and, after supper, to 
a little gathering he had arranged for me. Atlee had Harry Frease 

16 Portrait of an American 

to dinner with us. As Atlee is candidate for city solicitor, he made 
me meet all his political friends " 

Early entries showed his interest in music and the stage. To 
most of the infrequent plays which came to the Marietta city hall, 
he went with Ward A. Holden, later an eminent New York City 
physician. **Ward and I always get die cheapest seats/* he wrote. 
On March 19, 1887, he put down for the first time die name which 
was to occur most often in his diary: Caro Blymyer. 

Caro Blyniyer two years later became his wife and walked by 
his side the remaining years of his life. 

Subsequent entries were to record his impressions of almost 
every musical and stage star of the last decade of the nineteenth 
and first decade of the twentieth centuries. He was interested in 
music, also something of a flutist and pianist in his own right. On 
some occasions at Marietta musicals he played the flute, and his 
mother was his accompanist on the piano. 

Charles Dawes' thoughts of a location turned west, as did the 
thoughts of most young men similarly situated in those days, Kansas 
City and Omaha had highest priority on the list of possibilities. He 
finally decided on Lincoln, Nebraska, 

On a night late in April, he walked to the registry desk of tibe 
Commercial Hotel in Lincoln. On the desk, there rested a familiar 
object of Western Americana of that day, a stub-pointed pen jabbed 
into a huge, splotched Irish potato* He took the pen and wrote a 
scratchy signature on the register. He was too tired for a scotoscopic 
view of the town which was to play such an important part in 
life, and went immediately to bed* 

Chapter Two 


J he Lincoln which greeted Charles G. Dawes when he 
left the Commercial Hotel to view it on the morning of April 27, 
1887, was n scenic treat to the young man whose life had been 
passed among the wooded hills, the green valleys, and the clear, 
clean streams which flow into the winding Muskingum River and 
on into the turbulent Ohio. 

Twenty years earlier, the first legislature of Nebraska had sent 
a commission to choose a site for a state capital, the paramount 
stipulation being that, when located, it should be called Lincoln, 
in honor of the man who had not only saved the Union but had 
signed that charter for the settlement of an infinite expanse of the 
arable West, the Homestead Act, which President Buchanan had 
vetoed. On treeless salt plains, in a hamlet formerly called Lan- 
caster, 100 miles from the nearest railroad, was built first a state 
capitol, then a state university, a penitentiary, and a hospital for 
the insane. A railroad came five years later. 

The combination of the Homestead Act, the magnetic pull of 
the romantic West on the Easterner, the promise of 'land for the 
landless/* and the constant reiteration, by Horace Greeley, of his 
slogan, "Go west, young man; go forth into the country," had at 
first failed to bring the expected influx of settlers. But, where all 
other inducements failed, the panic of 1873 succeeded; tens of 
thousands had gone west in search of a living. In the early eighties, 
Lincoln had mushroomed from a little over 10,000 population to a 
figure which the 1890 Census showed to be beyond 55,000. 


i8 Portrait of an American: 

But on that spring morning in 1887, Lincoln still had the new, 
tentative look of a Western town which might, overnight, double 
its population or, just as quickly, lose half of it It was, for the most 
part, treeless, for long peiiods i aimless, a town of dirt streets, its 
houses scatteied over a wide expanse of prairie* Nor had he, Dawes 
was soon aware, como like a bee to a clover patch. Opportunities 
for a young lawyer just six months past his twenty-first birthday 
were little brighter in Lincoln than in Marietta, 

"I was quickly cominced," Dawes recalled years later, "that 
Horace Grecley's advice, 'Go west, young man/ was not good short- 
range pecuniary counsel. I bad come out West under the impression 
that it would be comparative! v easy to get neb. But migration acts 
as a cream scpaiator, and, when I got ben*, there were gathered 
some of the brightest \oung men of the Kast, all of whom hud come 
here under the same circumstances and with the same aspirations 
as I. I could have clone better had I gone to an Kasteru or a larger 
Midwestern city* There would not have been the same* relative com- 
petition. Here, there were se\en men for even dollar, I could have 
gone where there were sen en dollars for every man/* 

His early impression that rc*ul estate trafficking offered a path 
to riches also was soon dissipated. His arrival and the collapse of 
the mid-eighties city ieal-eslate splurge were practically simul- 

"I struck Lincoln right at the top of a boom; then it started 
sliding/" he said. 

The early struggles of a young lawyer in these surroundings 
emerge vividly from the terse notes in bis diary: 

May '2t: Engaged desk room in Academy of Music at $6 por 

"May &{; Ordered business cards and started out the profcs* 
sion of law. 

"May 25.* Spent day trying to drum up business. Called on 
Attorney General Lease, an old Washington County, Ohio, man ut 
the Capitol In the evening, went to see the 'Beggar Student/ 

"May 31: Accomplished nothing much this day. At office and 
around collecting (or attempting to collect) bad bills* 

"June i: Got a large amount of collection work today and un- 


expectedly. Spent morning and afternoon at it. Made about $5, little 
enough for the detestable business. 

"June 8- Made arrangements with Weeks, chief engineer of the 
B. & M. Railway, to collect a $50 note I had against one of his level 
men Thus an embiyomc lawsuit was spoiled which, otherwise, 
would have been my first. . , . 

"June 21: Was sworn in as a practicing Nebraska attorney, by 
Judge Chapman, on motion of A. W. Field. . . ." 

Dawes had no relish for the kind of law practice which would 
probably come his way. In August, two months after he was ad- 
mitted to the bar in Nebraska, he became counsel for the Lincoln 
Board of Trade in a fight against discriminatory freight lates. He 
could have found nothing quite so likely to establish himself as a 
public figure, or so financially unrewarding He received no re- 
tainer, and never asked for or accepted a fee in his long freight-rate 
litigation. "It is a good, steady job without pay," he wrote. 

Perhaps anyone who made a trip from Marietta, Ohio, to Lin- 
coln, Nebraska, in an open-windowed, cindery railroad coach in 
the eighties, computing the miles traveled, the hours consumed, 
and the transfers and waits at terminals, would have ended the 
trip with a conception of distances involved, and the urgent neces- 
sity of reasonable transportation rates, Dawes believed these trans- 
portation charges were the No i economic problem of the western 

Dawes pursued the rate combat with all the zeal of a crusader. 
When other men in Lincoln became complacent, he shook them 
up, painting a picture of prosperous Nebraska commercial towns 
processing the products of prosperous Nebraska farms. His earn- 
ings from other law cases were not enough to support him and his 
cause; and, for a period in the most crucial part of the fight, his 
father sent him $50 per month to assist him in making ends meet. 

Dawes' rate fight is one of the best documented of all the activi- 
ties of his life. When in 1951, sixty years later, John E, Pixton, made 
a study of "Charles G. Dawes and the Nebraska Freight-Rate Fight" 
for the Nebraska State Historical Society, he found, in addition to 
collections which the Historical Society had made, papers in pub- 
lic libraries, railroad archives, newspaper files, state capitals, and in 
private hands. 

2O Portrait of an American: 

Freight-rate controversies were nothing new in the West when 
Dawes arrived m Lincoln. Iowa, Nebraska, and Texas were the 
three states where freight rates aroused the highest passions. The 
battles in Texas, led by James Stephen Hogg, and in Nebraska, 
spearheaded by Dawes, were under way simultaneously. But where 
Hogg made his effort first as attorney general and then governor, 
Dawes carried on as a private citizen, with funds for expenses 
raised by the Trade Board's solicitations, 

Dawes was pitted against the rich resources and the formidable 
legal talent at the disposal of the Burlington, the Union Pacific, 
and the Missouri Pacific, Arrayed against him were such lawyer 
giants as craggy-faced Joseph William BIythe, John M. Thurston, 
and T* M, Marquette. The briefs and legal arguments ho prepared 
to use against the railroads Dawes himself pecked out on a ven- 
erable caligraph, forerunner of the typewriter. 

The contention of Dawes was that the disproportion existing 
between the high local rates in Nebraska and the lower "through" 
rates from outside points to the state shut out the producers of in- 
terior Nebraska from dealing with their natural home market, the 
cities of southern and western Nebraska, Under the long-lmul the- 
ory of rate-making, he argued, railroads discriminated against those 
industries of southern Nebraska which produced for the state mar- 
ket, and encouraged only industries producing for a distant market 
on which the carriers got a long haul This system of rate-making, 
he contended, prevented development and diversification of the 
industries of interior Nebraska upon natural lines, 

John Utt and the other members of the Lincoln Board of Trade 
which sponsored them placed no great reliance in the Dawes-origi- 
nated replevin suits as a means of reaching their ultimate objectives; 
but Utt, in the cattle-country idiom of the day, thought such cases 
in sufficient numbers would "raise hell among the yearlings,* and 
might have the effect of softening the attitude of the truculent rail- 
roads. Dawes* somewhat ingenious argument was that failure of a 
carrier to deliver goods to a consignee tipon payment of a "ri^mm- 
able 1 * charge constituted unlawful seizure of the consignee's goods. 

Thus it was that the cause which was to win Dawes nationwide 
fame started with a simple replevin suit against the Burlington, three 
months after his arrival in Lincoln, 


Dawes had fought only the opening skirmishes of the 
freight-rate war when he hegan the acquaintance with William 
Jennings Bryan which ripened into life-long friendship and political 
opposition. Dawes had arrived in Lincoln on April 26. Bryan came 
six months later, on October 22. Dawes, twenty-two, with smooth- 
shaven cheeks and looking even younger than his years, and Bryan, 
twenty-seven, and wearing a big, black beard, met at a banquet of 
the Irish National League of America, in Lincoln. Dawes was soon 
convinced that Bryan was an orator of stature. Placed far down 
on a list of speakers headed by T. P. O'Connor and H. Grattan 
Esmonde, Irish members of Parliament, Bryan spoke so eloquently 
that the diners, who had not correctly understood his name when he 
was introduced, punctuated his speech with cheers: "Hurrah for 
O'Brien! w 

Dawes and Bryan soon had offices in the same building, the 
Burr Block. Bryan was on the fifth floor, Dawes on the third. Bryan 
had formed a partnership with Adolph R. Talbot, an established 
lawyer. Bryan's part of the firm's income was so small that, while 
waiting for Mrs, Bryan to come out, he slept in the office to save 
expenses. The two young lawyers were to be ranged against one 
another at the famous Round Table, a Lincoln discussion club, in 
courts, and on political hustings. 

At the end of the year 1887, the personable young Ohioan had 
established himself in Lincoln. Older lawyers had learned that he 
was a young man of intense seriousness, driving energy, and re- 

The hard Nebraska years were decisive in molding the kind 
of man Charles Gates Dawes was to be. His widening circles of 
friends included such pioneer Nebraska figures as S. H. Burnham, 
I. M. Raymond, D. E. Thompson, F. W, Little, E. E. Brown, and 
Stephen S. Geisthardt Financial success would not tap his shoulder 
for some years; but, at the first year's end, he wrote to his father in 
Marietta that he would be able to manage without any financial 
assistance, even though he gave a great deal of time without re- 
muaeration to the prosecution of the railroad cases. 

The first tangible success in the railroad cases came to Dawes 
exactly a year after his arrival in Lincoln. He had made his first 

22 Portrait of an American: 

appearance in the Nebraska Supreme Court in a suit attacking the 
lease of the Atchison and Nebraska Railroad by the Burlington. 
Dawes, who had prepared his case with great care and lehearsed it 
orally in his room, claimed that the lease of the line running from 
Atchison, Kansas, to Lincoln was really a marriage in violation of 
the laws of the state prohibiting the consolidation of the franchises 
of competing lines. 

Dawes* adversary before the Supreme Court was T. M. Mar- 
quette, the Burlington's brilliant general solicitor. The Court, in 
its decision, upheld Dawes' contention and declared the lease void. 
Dawes got the news in a telephone call from Attorney General 
Lease, and wrote in his journal: "This is a great victory, and indi- 
cates a successful termination of that suit. . . , One year ago to- 
day, I arrived in Lincoln/' 

Dawes* first friends in Lincoln had l>een among older men, 
Bryan was the* first of his age group. From then on, the names of 
others of similar age began to appear in his diary, among them 
Second Lieutenant John J. Penshing, with whom Dawes formed a 
friendship which was one of the closest of his life, and certainly 
the closest Pershing ever had; Bruce Coffroth, an attorney, ami 
later his law partner; Dan Wing; and GILS Hanna. Wing, who Ix'camc 
a New England financial loader, was perhaps the first of tho young 
men Dawes launched on their careers, 

Dawes* judgment in financial matters had gained him the con* 
fidence of General Cox, his Cincinnati law-school teacher, and 
many others* Soon lie was asked to make investments for them. 

**I picked up, in these investments, some valuable experience/* 
he related later on. "I bought one building for General Cox, paying 
$32,000 for it, which was u great sum of money in my imagination, 
and the most I had ever handled, up to that time, 

"The man from whom I purchased the building was a hard* 
crusted, touchy-tempered old lawyer. After T took possession of the 
property and examined into the situation, I felt that* from a moral 
standpoint some of its tenants left a great deal to IK* desired. The 
second floor housed the biggest gambling joint in town. A part of 
tho building, which was residential, hud female tenants whose source 
of income was being widely discussed In the town* I gave notice to 


both the gamblers and the jolly women to vacate. Some of the 
shadiest characters were the personal friends of the former owner, 
and bewailed to him the homeless state in which I had cast them. 
A few days later, the old lawyer met me on the street He was much 

" 'Young man/ he snorted, 'if you have started out singlehanded 
to moralize the world, you'll find out you have a hell of a job on 
your hands/ 

"His advice on that particular case may not have been entirely 
unbiased and pertinent but, as an over-all postulate, it is one which 
can be valuable to both individuals and nations." 

The Lincoln State Journal of January i, 1889, described Dawes 
in a list of matrimonial eligibles: "Anti-monopoly agitator, 125 
pounds, neatest moustache in Lincoln. Has disposition to go back 
and see someone in Ohio, but is worth trying again/' 

Eighteen months after his arrival in Lincoln, Dawes, still short 
of money, returned to Cincinnati and married Miss Caro Blymyer. 
Early pictures show her as a delicate, dark-haired girl, with a fine 
oval face, dominated by her large, dark, thoughtful eyes. Her 
father, W. H. Blymyer, of Pennsylvania Dutch stock, was a manu- 
facturer of such miscellaneous things as steam engines, sorghum 
machinery, and ice machines. He had erected one of the first tall 
buildings in Cincinnati, and was president of the Cincinnati Exposi- 
tion. Caro Blymyer was a direct descendant of Miles Standish and 
of Paul Fearing, the first delegate to the Continental Congress from 
the Northwest Territory. She was also a descendant of Major Gen- 
eral Israel Putnam, of the Revolutionary War, and of Michael Hille- 
gas, the first Treasurer of the United States. 

''When I was getting ready to go home and get married, I 
couldn't afford a dress suit, so I went to the Chancellor of the Uni- 
versity, who had one and let me have it second-handed," Dawes 
wrote, "About the same time, Lieutenant John J. Pershing needed 
one. The tails of his had worn bare. He told me he went to a tailor 
and had him cut a tail out of an old pair of pants. Then he bougjit a 
new pair of trousers for $6. 

"Mrs, Dawes and I came back to Lincoln and started house- 
keeping m a little six-room cottage at 1400 D Street. The phrase 
of the wedding service, *With all my worldly goods I thee endow/ 

24 Portrait of an American: 

was a hollow mockery in my case for, after the ceremony at Cin- 
cinnati, the railway faie to Lincoln consumed the bulk of my 
Vorldly goods/ But it was a glorious time, when we figured we 
could live on $80 per month. It took close to $100. Mrs, Dawes was 
a good manager, or we could not have got through on that; but I 
found, at the end of the first year, I had earned enough to spend 
$100 per month on our living, and had $400 left over for furniture; 
and then, after a time, came little Rufus Fearing and then little 
Carolyn, and life was wholly complete/* 

The fust Bryan-Dawcs silver debate occurred at the homo of 
S, H* Burnham, Lincoln banker and businessman, 

*I don't know anything about the silver question, and I want 
to learn/' said the man who was to carry the i6~to-i free-silver flag 
as the 1896 Democratic Presidential candidate. 

One of the witnesses to the debate was Judge S. B* Pound, 
father of Roscoe Pound, later renowned dean of Harvard I <aw School 

Bryan and Dawes, whose houses were a block apart, continued 
their vehement argument as they walked home together, Dawes was 
an enthusiast for his point of view, Bryan an evangelist* 

"Mrs. Bryan and Mrs, Dawes walked ahead of us," Dawes wrote, 
"They got home and had to come back and get us out of our argu- 
ment We had stopped on a street corner, and were going at it again* 
hot and heavy ." 

The Lincoln Round Table, of which Dawes was to bo the last 
living charter member, was similar to hundreds of such discussion 
clubs scattered throughout the nation* The membership was hetero- 
geneous; lawyers, physicians, ministers, bankers, businessmen, me- 
chanics, and, in university towns like Lincoln, faculty members. 
They discussed issues of the clay, and often expressed grass-roots 
sentiments which party politicians heeded in writing state and na- 
tional platforms. There were discussions of such subjects as "Annexa- 
tion of Hawaii to the United States,* the "Hatch Bill in Regulating 
Dealings in Commodity Futures," "Nebraska Freight Rate*/* and 
"How the United States Government Should Raise Its Revenue/' 

"There would be a general discussion and the expression of 
able men of extreme views on every subject, successfully designed 
to create irritations and 'comebacks'," Dawes wrote* There some- 


times were distinguished visitors. Among such, Dawes listed Robert 
G. Ingersoll and Bill Nye, the humorist 

Dawes remembered that one of the subjects Bryan suggested 
for debate at the Round Table was: "Resolved, That Private For- 
tunes Should Be Limited to $100,000 for Each Individual." 

Many years afterward, when Dawes visited the Bryan home in 
Florida, the Commoner showed him over the Bryan property. 

"Now suppose your $100,000 limitation had been adopted/' ban- 
tered Dawes. 

"Circumstances alter cases/' Bryan replied with a sly grin. 

Bryan, before the end of the eighties, had decided on public 
life as a profession, Dawes was just as determined not to get into 
politics, at least from the standpoint of holding office himself. Bryan 
sought every opportunity to get speaking dates and appear in pub- 
lic His name stayed on the office door as Talbot's partner, for he 
was certainly an excellent public-relations man for the firm. 

Bryan chose the tariff as the most vote-worthy issue when he 
was elected to Congress in 1890 for the first of his two terms, in the 
Fifty-second and Fifty-third Congresses. 

Pershing never attended sessions of the Lincoln Round Table, 
but participated with Bryan and Dawes in "debates at the Square 
Table" in Don Cameron's Restaurant, a place around which many 
Dawes and Pershing legends revolve. There were even more nu- 
merous legends about Cameron himself. 

There has been a romantic report that Cameron was a one-time 
Spanish grandee on his uppers, who introduced the most peppery 
version of Spanish cooking to the West. In fact, he had been a cook 
for the lumberjacks of Minnesota and Wisconsin, then hit the old 
fur-traders' trail through the Platte Valley and over the South Pass, 
to cook for mining outfits in Colorado and Wyoming. He fed them 
superlatively well, and won their robust approval. When these ac- 
tivities begsin to lag, ho had taken himself, his skill, and his skillet 
to boom town Lincoln, halfway between the lumber and mining 

The fame of Don Cameron's place has been heard by many 
more present-day Lincolnites than have ever heard of the Round 
Table, For nearly a half century, Pershing and Dawes were to make 
reference to it in conversations and correspondence; and, after 

26 Portrait of an American: 

Pershing had commanded the AEF and Dawes had been Vice-Presi- 
dent, they joined to finance the comfort of Cameron in his last days* 

An appearance by Dawes as a witness before the Committee on 
Railroads of the Nebraska State Senate on February 25, 1891, as a 
"people's advocate against the laihoad lobby," enhanced his reputa- 
tion. His enviable renown as a rate expert was in no way lessened 
when, on the following August 13, he appeared before the State 
Board of Transportation and held the floor for more* than two hours, 
and was given the close attention not only of the Boaul but of the 
most important lailroad men in Nebraska* Du\u\s anur/ed his audi- 
ence by quoting from memory 150 alleged discriminatory rates. 
When Auditor of State Benton heckled, Dawes got into one of those 
acrimonious colloquies which he had frequently precipitated: 

"I will suy to you, Mr, Auditor Beaton, that it is u good deal 
better for you to make this investigation right hero at home than it 
is riding in special cars at the expense of the railroads/* 

Benton replied: 

"I guess you would ride, too, if you had the chance/' 

"Not if I were drau ing a salary as a state auditor and a member 
of the Board of Transportation, and was paid by the people to stay 
home and protect their interest and do my duty/' Dawes shot back. 

In the exchange, Dawes had had opportunity to focus attention 
on the point which he had been seeking to bring to the public's 
notice: that state officials who took pusses from railroads could not 
be expected to do their full duty to the public, and that leadens in 
private life also shared the blame. How many railroad passes were 
issued m any one year, in the era when they were handed out so 
freely, was never ascertained. In Texas, Governor Hogg claimed 
232,000 passes were in use at one time, and were In the hands of 
most state, county, and city officials* 

Even William Jennings Bryan was a puss taker* 

"But since T have been a candidate for public ofKct% I have 
paid every nickel of my railroad fare/' Bryun said, 

There Is today, in this state, a great public grievance, exorbi- 
tant local rates on railroad freight/" Dawefs wrote. "And yet, the 
leading men of the state and of this city post* us apologists for this 
robbery, because they fear tho robbers. They stand by and see the 


proper internal development of the state retarded by these high 
local rates, and keep their mouths shut, lest their annual passes 
take wings and fly " 

About the Dawes appearance which saw his clash with Ben- 
ton, an Omaha newspaper commented: 

"C G. Dawes, the young Lincoln attorney who appeared before 
the State Board of Transportation Friday and disturbed the serenity 
of that somewhat slow-moving and complacent body by a few star- 
tling facts, has already gained state-wide renown " 

On April 22, 1891, the New York Post gave editorial attention 
to Dawes and his freight-rate fight The i,5oo-word leading editorial 
in the Post was the first mention he had ever received in an Eastern 

He was still short of his twenty-sixth birthday. 

The year 1893 saw Dawes a dynamic part of the life of Lin- 
coln. He had two children and had moved into a larger house His 
law practice had grown. The breadth of his interests was constantly 

S. H, Burnham had organized the American Exchange National 
Bank, and asked Dawes to be one of the directors. Along with Burn- 
ham and G. M. Lambertson, Dawes then brought about a consolida- 
tion with the State National Bank, to make the new American 
Exchange Bank the second largest in the city. 

In part with his savings and in part with loans from General 
Cox and others, he founded the Dawes Block Company, owning 
and managing a number of office buildings in Lincoln's business 
center. He was one of the incorporators, vice-president, and held 
one of the three controlling interests in the Lincoln Packing Com- 

On February 4, he was able to announce the acquisition of what 
he regarded as the best business location in Lincoln, the building 
on the northwest corner of Thirteenth and O Streets. "My children 
will live to see the corner always a family possession/' he wrote. 
He retained the property all his life. 

One striking note ran through all Dawes' entries on business 
deals. He rarely entered into a business venture without inviting 
one or two of his friends to share the profit with him. 

28 Portrait of an American: 

His friend John J Pershing was discouraged at his prospects. 
He had the impressive title of Professor of Military Science and 
Tactics, and Commandant of Cadets, at the University of Nebraska. 
But he was thirty-five years old and still a second lieutenant and, 
at the going rate in the Cavalry, would not reach the grade of major 
until retirement age. He had acquiiccl a law degree while teaching 
the Nebraska cadets. 

Pershing told Dawes that the only thing he really knew was the 
business of Indian fighting, which lie had learned in skirmishes 
against the Sioux, Indian fighting was in the doldrums* and he had 
no bidders for his law talent But when he mentioned the subject 
of a partnership to Dawes, his friend warned him: 

"Better lawyers than either you or I can ever hope to be are 
starving in Nebraska I'd try the Army for a while* yet. Your pay 
may be small, but it comes very regularly/' 

In a journal note of January 7, 1893* Dawos wrote; "We are 
living in a rapid time.'* His diary attested that these were whirling 
days for him. For recreation, he boxed, played tennis, skated, swam, 
danced, and oven took tip the game now to the West, golf. He was 
good at billiards, belonged to a whist club, but was a poor card 
player* He played the piano and flute at social affairs, ami was a 
regular church attendant. 

The theater was his principal diversion* He loved it with a pas- 
sion shared with no contemporary some-day-to-be-famous American, 
with the possible exception of Woodrow Wilson. He was always tak- 
ing his pretty young wife to see people like Edwin Booth* Henry 
Irving, Ellen Terry, Julia Marlowe, Kordiea, Clara MorrK W. J, 
Florence, Sol Smith Russell, Lillian Russell, and Marie* Tempest 

When the radiant, voluptuous English singer Ixrttic Collins 
came to town in flesh-colored tights and with u gravel voice, much 
foot stamping, and many muscle-shaking spasms sang the St. 
Louis-born ragtime, ^a^U-Ra-Boom-Dce-A, 1 * hit song of 1891, 
Dawos recorded laconically: 

"Saw *Mfcs Helyett/ a very poor comic opera. Miss Lottie Collins, 
the famous dancer, appeared in the* Mcond act and displayed re- 
markable* agility, among other thing*.* 

It was an era of great American neJghhorliness, hand-shaking, 
and visiting. Nowhere was the spirit of friendliness and helpfulness 


so generally practiced as on the new, raw Great Plains. Dawes' jour- 
nal entries reflect all this with accounts of the calls he made, the 
people with whom he talked, the business which occupied his mind, 
and the events of local, state, and national interest which drew his 

Dawes was interesting himself in all manner of civic affairs. 
He had by now relatively as wide an acquaintance as he had in 
Marietta and was later to have in Chicago, and m all three cities 
during his residence he had as wide an acquaintance as any man 
there. The Burnhams, Raymonds, and others with whom he had 
business dealings, in associations which ripened into enduring 
friendships, were the oldest citizens, but they had been there only 
a decade or a decade and a half longer than he, for when Dawes, 
at the age of twenty-two years, went to Lincoln, he was two years 
older than the twenty-year-old town. 

In the bitter-cold months of January, February, and March, 
1893, much of it subzero temperatures, Dawes wrote, in a relaxed 
manner, of what seemed to be a very furious rate of life: of law, 
business deals, meetings of the Round Table Club, of his views on 
monopoly, politics, and politicians. The three-month period is typical 
of the life of activity he led. He wrote capsule reviews on musical 
events he attended or theatrical performances he saw, and made 
notes on impressions of books he read. Two of these books were the 
essays of Arthur Schopenhauer, the German philosopher, and La 
D6bdcle, by Emjle Zola. 

When Rutherford B. Hayes, the first of the fifteen presidents of 
the United States whom he was to know, died on January 17, 1893, 
Dawes commented in his diary that he had seen Hayes many times 
and been entertained in his home. 

''President Hayes was a great man, much underrated by the 

When the death of Elaine, a little more than a week after that 
of Hayes, symbolized the end of an era, Dawes wrote of the plumed 

"January 271 Worked a little and loafed a little. 

"James G* Elaine is dead. He was a striking figure in current 
history, I saw him frequently at Washington and, again, when he 
spoke at Marietta during his canvass against Cleveland for the Presi- 

3O Portrait of an American: 

dcncy. He lived in a turmoil of excitement, harassed by ambition 
and by false friends. He was surrounded by (he rich, their business 
associate and intimate adviser, yet was the idol of the pooi. He was 
the most wonderful example of a successful alloy of demagogism 
and statesmanship. His impulses came fioxn the brain and not the 
heart, in all public matters; yet he was not a cold calculator, by any 
means, his gieatest mistakes being m hasty decisions." 

He deplored the tendency "toward consolidation and concen- 
tration of wealth and power in the hands of u few." 

In midwinter of 1893 scandal broke which set all Nebraska 
talking. Of it, he wrote: 

"Exposure shows gross neglect and caiclc&sncss in the letting of 
large coutiacts, on the part of the Board of Public Lands and Build- 
ings in thus state, and impeachment is suggested. Many investigating 
committees ha\e been appointed, and good results seem likely to be 
obtained* It scorns probable that the Dorgan-Mosher penitentiary- 
asylum combine* is broken forever," 

In a talk before the Round Table, Dawcs related the Nebraska 
scandal "to the concurrent upturning** which political scoundrels are 
receiving all over the world/* He listed "similar awakenings of the 
people to unsuspected corruption, such us the coxy kinship between 
crime and the police in New York City, as shown by the Parkhurst 
crusade; the exposure of the great Panama Canal frauds, and con* 
victions of prominent men in France; the prosecution of the whisky 
trust; the exposure of bank scandals in Rome, Italy; and other in- 

"Too often in the past, the go<xl results have }*&! negated when 
the people lapsed into apathy and listlessncss. I-et iw hope that we 
are on the threshold of an era when people will take more time to 
examine into their public affairs. Until men have the same vigilance 
in their government as they have in their private business, we will 
always sec the infringements on the rights of people mwt with im* 
perfect vindication/' 

Dawes gave many evidences that he was no hide-bound par- 
tisan* He wanted his party "to win only when it deserved to win/* 
he wrote, lie thought its rebuke m the election of Crover Cleveland 
as President in 1892 would have a '"chastening and salutary effect* 
on it nationally, and the great gains of the Popultet Party in the 


West "ought to have the effect of bringing the Republican Party 
back closer to the people's will in this section." He detested party 
machines, and the record of his Nebraska years is replete with his 
appeals to the people over the heads of languid or venal office 

"I have scratched my ticket a little, for good reasons/* he wrote 
Dawes* ticket scratching did not extend far enough to favor William 
Jennings Bryan in either of his Congressional races, being confined 
to "some of the state candidates under the domination of the rail- 

**I would support you if your economics matched your oratory/' 
he told Bryan. 

A diary item dated February 6 read- "The Populists and Demo- 
crats in the legislature combining, W, V. Allen was elected United 
States Senator from Nebraska, by a majority of five. He is a better 
man than the candidate of the Republican Party, John M. Thurston, 
the attorney of the Union Pacific. The people have gained a victory, 
and all friends of good government ought to rejoice. Although a Re- 
publican, I am for honest treatment of the desires of the people 
to have railroad domination in politics ended." 

There were squalls on the economic horizon when the Round 
Table met at the Dawes home in midwinter to discuss the silver 
question. Round Table Member William Jennings Bryan was not pres- 
ent at this meeting; he was busy with his Congressional duties, but 
stories had drifted back to Lincoln, and Bryan was the chief topic 
of conversation. 

One of Bryan's colleagues in the House of Representatives was 
brilliant young Joseph Weldon Bailey, of Texas, three years Bryan's 
junior. Bryan asked his advice on good books to read on the money 
question. Bailey turned over to him such books as General A J. ( Sil- 
ver Bill) Warner's Appreciation of Money, Source of Value in 
Money 9 and numerous pamphlets of the Bimetallic Union, of which 
Warner was founder and president. The young Texan also took the 
Nebraskan to a secondhand book store, and Bryan left with an arm- 
ful of books on gold and silver. Soon Bryan, according to reports in 
Washington and Lincoln, was giving every spare minute to a study 
of the money question. Bryan, Round Table members heard, was 

3 Portrait of an American: 

preparing himself to ride the "white" money horse against the 
"yellow" steed in a race for higher office. 

By the next meeting, Bryan was home, and Dawes recorded: 
"Attended a meeting of the Round Table at the home of Congress- 
man Wilham Jennings Bryan, where we discussed a good supper, 
as well as the silver question." 

There was no doubt in the minds of those attending that meet- 
ing that Bryan's study of the writings of General Warner and his 
close association with Congressman Richard P. (Silver Dick) Bland 
of Missouri had vastly increased his information on money. He was, 
in fact, even then preparing for the speech he was to make in Con- 
gress four months later, advocating the free and unlimited coinage 
of silver as the cure for the nation's ills. 

For all the Congressman's boning on the subject, Dawes thought 
Bryan's logic was weak. He combated bis arguments, and apparently 
carried a majority of the Round Table with him* Duwes did not re- 
gard himself as a reactionary; he regarded himself as a "progressive 
conservative/' but he told Iris follow Round Tablets that, on his 
record, probably ho was considered radical. Ho thought sound 
money was progressive. Dawes did not fail to recognize that any 
sort of cause backed by Bryan's oratory would have an increasing 
number of converts; he believed the Government had already gone 
too far in silver legislation, such as the Sherman law, "which compels 
the Government to buy silver bullion which is worthless for purposes 
of redemption," 

Dawes began to bo an eager student of banking matters from 
the time he was elected to the directorate of the Lincoln bank. That 
study > plus preparation he made for his debutes with Bryan, sent 
him delving deep into monetary problems and led to his first book, 
published by Rand McNally in 1894, under the eighteen-word title, 
The Banking System of the, United States and Its Relation to tfw 
Moneij and Business of the Country. In the months intervening 
between Ins first scribbled notes for the book and its publication, 
he was to have opportunity to test his theories in a crucible which 
the nation little expected. When the Jxx>k did appear* it advocated 
guarantee of bank deposits, which came thirty-nine years later, to 


a more critical banking situation than that which was to come in the 
summer of 1893. 

Dawes made his first visit to Texas in the spring of 1893. He 
was so favorably impressed with the future of that section that he 
looked for an investment there. He wrote to Francis Beidler, in 

"There will surely arise, here on the Gulf Coast of Texas, one 
of the nation's truly great cities, certainly the metropolis of the new 

But he saw barriers which would have to be surmounted, for 
he told Beidler that "Galveston has no adequate protection against 
Gulf floods, and Houston does not have access to deep water. Hous- 
ton people talk ghbly of moving the sea inland, but that is a for- 
midable undertaking/' 

He had, Dawes went on in his letter to Beidler, "talked to Mr. 
Julius Runge, the President of the First National Bank, concerning 
an alliance for the purpose of controlling the Galveston Gas Com- 
pany, and, if further investigations confirm my first impressions, 
I would want your cooperation in this deal. Neither Galveston, 
which has less than 30,000 people, nor Houston, which has two or 
three thousand less, are yet much more than half as large as Lincoln/* 

Dawes, through some legal matters he had handled in Nebraska, 
had become interested in the manufacture of artificial gas, and be- 
lieved it offered a profitable future. This Galveston move, although 
nothing came of it, was his first toward entering the business. 

When Dawes returned to Lincoln, it was no longer breathing 
the heavy air of a boom. High-level business activity, which the 
whole state had enjoyed, was ending. The darkest part of the pic- 
ture neither Dawes nor anyone else foresaw. 

'In the spring of 1893 the West talked principally of the World's 
Fair, which was being rushed for summer opening in Chicago. Its 
wonders had been ballyhooed until the nation's imagination had 
been fired and its sight-seeing appetite whetted. 

To the Dawes family, it had an especial interest; and there had 
been much correspondence between Dawes and his father-in-law, 
W. H. Blymyer, of Cincinnati. Chicago had wanted something spec- 
tacular, which would cause as much talk as the Eiffel Tower, built 

34 Portrait of an American: 

for die Paris exposition. A young Pittsburgh engineer, George A, W, 
Ferns, thought he had the answer, and talked so convincingly that 
Blymyer, an intimate friend, had given him financial backing. 

Blymyer had been president of the Cincinnati Exposition, had 
learned something about show business and what it took to draw 
crowds. Ferris went before the Columbian Exposition officials and 
proposed to erect, on die Midway Plaisance, a wheel 2150 feet in 
diameter, to bo known as the Ferris Wheel. He could build, he said, 
a concrete foundation capable of supporting the vehicle and resist- 
ing a wind velocity of 120 miles an hour. 

There would be, Ferris explained to the wide-eyed officials, 
thirty-six cars suspended from the wheel, each car being 27 feet 
wide and 9 feet high, and having forty chairs of fancy twisted steel 
screwed to the floor* The carrying capacity of all the cars would 
be 1,440 passengers and, when loaded, the entire weight of the 
structure would be 1,500 tons. Its highest point would be 268 feet 
above the ground. 

One revolution of the Wheel could be made in ten minutes; 
and a passenger's ride would be two revolutions, with six stops to 
each revolution, permitting the emptying and filling of six ears from 
twelve raised platforms. 

With an exhibition providing such a thrill ride as no one in this 
country had ever taken, made absolutely safe by powerful air brakes, 
and certain to be very profitable, argued Ferris, "Where would your 
Eiffel Tower at Paris be?" 

Chicago fair officials snapped up Ferris' project 

When Dawes took his first trip on the Ferris Wheel in June> 
1893, people still shied away from it. But in July a hurricane, blow- 
ing at no miles per hour, swept Chicago, It was the ill wind of the 
proverb* At the height of the storm, Ferris, his wife, and a news- 
paper reporter went for a test ride. After the newspaperman an- 
nounced that the Wheel *hurdly trembled/* visitors begun to crowd it 

Ferris' project and BIymyer's Judgment had been vindicated. 
No one ever built a second Eiffel Tower; but London built a dupli- 
cate Ferris Wheel, even bigger, for its Earl's Court exhibit the 
following year, People came to Chicago to ride the Wheel, even 
after the fair closed; and smaller Wheels became standard amuse- 
ment features at every fair and carnival in the nation* 


In one of his few bad business guesses, Dawes, in the spring 
of 1893, noted the untoward economic situation, but wrote: "The 
general business condition is such that a disastrous panic, such as 
that of 1873, seems improbable, if indeed not impossible." 

For Dawes* optimism, there is this extenuating circumstance: 
Few men who have gone through a depression believe there can be 
a future one as harsh as the one they have experienced. Yet he took 
no chance on being caught flat-footed, and immediately began to 
put his affairs into shape for what he called a 'long pull," if one 

In mid-Apnl, he wrote: "Almost a money panic prevails in the 
land. The long-continued export of gold has led people to fear a 
premium on gold, and the consequent degradation of our currency. 
The loo-milhon-dollar gold reserve has been encroached upon, but 
the banks are affording relief by furnishing some gold to the United 
States Treasury in return for greenbacks." 

In May, conditions grew worse. 

"May 15: There is a panic on Wall Street, but it does not ex- 
tend over the country. Stocks took a drop, and a few failures are 
announced. The time has long since passed when a clique of gam- 
blers can break this country, though there is no doubt they can do 
great harm, especially the grain and provision gamblers/' 

Disaster soon began to strike closer and closer to home. There 
were bank failures in Sioux City and Denver, In Chicago, the Colum- 
bia National Bank closed its doors, and long lines began to form 
in front of the windows of the Chicago savings banks. 

The American Exchange National Bank had, by now, become 
"the strongest in Lincoln, and can successfully withstand a se- 
vere strain, should it come/' There had been a run on another 
bank in Lincoln, and wisdom demanded preparation for a possible 
emergency. Dawes, with E. E. Brown, another director, was sent 
East, with the difficult assignment of finding a loan of $100,000, 

Although money was scarce all over the nation, one half of the 
loan was subscribed by the forceful and picturesque president of 
lie Chicago National Bank, John R. Walsh, from County Cork, Ire- 
land, who was then at the height of his meteoric career. 

The swift initial success was so unexpected that Dawes tele- 

36 Portrait of an American: 

graphed to their anxious fellow directors that the mission on which 
they had set out was half accomplished. The novitiate financier 
made an impish entry in his diary, "Mr. Brown and I celebrated by 
going to see *Ali Baba* at the Opera House/' 

Dawes found New York gloomier than Chicago: "Those who 
knew the most were those who seemed most alarmed/* But he got 
the balance of the money the Lincoln Bank needed. 

The American National weathered the storm, though a stream 
of withdrawals reduced its deposits by two thirds. But all over the 
nation banks closed, factories shut down, railroads went into the 
hands of receivers, and long lines of unemployed gathered in front 
of the soup kitchens. 

Dawes* diary in these months was a recital of heavy and con- 
tinuous financial catastrophes. Twenty years before he had seen his 
father's fortune melt under just such an upheaval. Dawes owed 
$00*000, a considerable debt for a young man of twenty-eight; but 
he had taken steps to ward off personal disaster. That winter, in a 
small way, ho was able to begin the charities he was to continue all 
his life, 

"Want and misery exist on all sides," he wrote. ''There will be 
widespread distress this winter, which it will be the duty of every- 
one to help alleviate. I am trying to help a few families/* 

To the nation, the year 3894 brought the march of Ooxey's 
Army and the great Pullman strike. Depression had followed panic. 
In the summer of 1894 savage winds and the smoldering heat lashed 
humans, animals, and vegetation on the Groat Plains, The ther- 
mometer rose as high as xo$ degrees, winds above forty miles an 

"Thousands of acres of com* dark, healthy, and promising, had 
become a sacrifice to the insatiable appetite of embattled dements," 
said the Lincoln Star. "Crop failure was complete. The* spirits of the 
pioneers drooped; the outlook was bleak* Banks, merchants, and 
business concerns went down in Lincoln, lawyers and doctors 
moved away. Buildings were vacant; there was no work; many were 
hungry* 1 * 

To those who stayed, Lincoln was a place of thwarted hopes, 
Those who emerged passably intact from the panic ww# few, and 
Dawes had done better than most. But he was faced with th# ncces- 


sity of getting income from other sources to protect his Nebraska 

A year before, his friend Francis Beidler of the Chicago Power 
Supply Company had suggested a Chicago location to Dawes, a 
suggestion to which he gave little heed at the time. He liked the 
idyllic neighborlmess of Lincoln. 

In July Dawes acquired the entire capital stock of the LaCrosse 
Gas Light and Coke Company of LaCrosse, Wisconsin Late in the 
year he bought the Northwestern Gas Light and Coke Company at 
Evanston and, in January, 1895, moved to Chicago, which was to be 
his home for the remaining fifty-six years of his life. 

Chapter Three 


J feel that, in changing my home to Chicago, I am enter- 
ing into a field of great possibilities/* Duwes wrote in his diary in 
January, 1895. lie was certain it was the last move he would make, 
Chicago would be his home for the balance of his life. 

Dawes* closest business associate at the outset indicated that 
business, not politics, was his interest. lie was John R. Walsh, a 
Democrat of Democrats, then Chicago's most impressive* and spot- 
lighted citizen, and the* man who had come to Dawes' rescue when 
the Lincoln hank needed money, 

Walsh confided to Dawes that he did not consider himself a 
president maker, but was deeply interested in seeing his friend 
Vice-President Adlai Stevenson succeed Crover Cleveland in the 
White House, Once Dawes had been in Walsh's office when Steven- 
son and his son, Lewis, came in, Walsh introduce! Dawes to the 
Vice-President and, when Stevenson had departed, remarked: 

"I don't know whether Adlai can make it or not That cra^y 
man in Springfield, who is barred himself (Governor Altgeld was 
of foreign birth mid, therefore, ineligible for President), does not 
like him, 1 * 

If Altgeld's opposition could b<* overcome* Walsh thought, 
Stevenson would bo high on the list of eligihles, for he was generally 
a well-liked man, comfortable for all factions to got nkmg with. 

Walsh said Stevenson was a sflveritcs although ho had been 
the ticket mate of Cold Bug drover Cleveland* Publicly, Stevtmson 
was noncommittal in his attitude on money. He had darted flirtatious 



glances at both monetary wings of the party. Walsh told Dawes of 
a waggish quip of which Stevenson was the butt, because of his inde- 

"Adlai is a friend of the white metal and a great admirer of the 

His paramount desire, far transcending any other ambition, 
Walsh said, was to own a railroad. Dawes was in no position to give 
Walsh any comfort in the matter of getting Stevenson into the White 
House, but he told the banker-publisher he had a cousin, Henry 
Bosworth, who was receiver for a railroad of a sort (the Chicago, 
Peoria, and St. Louis), and would, no doubt, be glad to be rid of 
its rusty nails and rickety rolling stock. 

<e l took quarters at the Union League Club, to which I had been 
elected a member through the introduction of my friend, John R. 
Walsh, and lived there until Caro and the children arrived on Janu- 
ary 26, when we took three rooms at the Auditorium Annex Hotel/* 
Dawes put down in his own account of his beginnings in Chicago. 
"I am making some valuable new acquaintances. My financial affilia- 
tions are with the Globe National (E. H. Pearson), with the Equi- 
table Trust people (LA. Walton, Secretary), and with John R. 
Walsh, President of the Chicago National Bank/' 

Dawes 7 own account of his start in the McKinley campaign, in 
the management of which he eventually had a greater hand than 
any man except Mark Hanna, is told in a diary entry of March 10, 


"During the year 1894, I met Major McKinley in Columbus, 
Ohio, and, also, in the fall, in Lincoln In his interest, I did consider- 
able work among the politicians of Nebraska, Wyoming, and North 

"In January of this year, I met M. A, Hanna, of Cleveland, and 
had a conference with him over McKinley's plans to secure the 
nomination for the Presidency. My plan of enlisting support for 
McKinley is being followed in the West, and Mr. Hanna has given 
my work full endorsement. 

"Hanna is in full charge of the McKinley campaign throughout 
the entire country. He wrote me yesterday that McKinley would 
soon join him at Thomasville, Georgia, where they would meet many 

4O Portrait of an American: 

people. He said things look very favorable in the South. He has asked 
me to look after matteis in Illinois, in this connection. 

"McKinley seems to be the coming man." 

If Dawes had wished to make a money wager on that last ob- 
servation, any politician in the country would have given him liberal 
odds that McKinley had no such sunlit piospects. Mountainous, 
tart-tongued Thomas Brackett Reed, Speaker of the House of Rep- 
resentatives, the highest office held by any Republican at that time, 
was first in the field. Reed's campaign was managed by Joe Manloy, 
who had been Blaine's manager. Benjamin Harrison, only sixty-two, 
and four years out of the White House, was believed to be receptive 
for another try James Clarkson, the most potent of the Western 
king makers, would be for Senator Allison, of Iowa, Tom Platt 
would be for Governor Morton, who had won the gubernatorial 
election in New York by a record majority. Matt Quay, of Penn- 
sylvania, would play it cagey, trying to land in the winner's circle- 
But Quay did not like McKinley. 

McKinley wa<? not without strength. His long service in Con- 
gress had brought him to the favorable attention of the party* In 
the Republican National Convention of 7892, where he had served 
as permanent chairman, he had polled 182 votes in a revolt against 
Harrison's renomination, In the good Republican off-year campaign 
of 1894, he had made 371 campaign speeches and appeared in 300 
cities and towns in sixteen states, traveling an estimated 12,000 miles 
and addressing two million people. 

Against McKinley stood the fact that his second term as Ohio 
Governor was coming to an end, and he* would soon be out of office. 
No one except Hanna, a Cleveland coal man, seemed actively in- 
terested in consolidating such scattered support for McKinley as 

Hanna's admiration for McKinley dated hack to the year 1876 
and a pitched courtroom battle in Canton, Ohio- There had boon 
strikes and riots at the Rhodes Coal Mine in Stork County, Ohio, 
which had resulted in the arrest of a number of strikers, H&nna, 
then general manager of Rhodes and Company, had looked on while 
young Lawyer McKinley took, without fee, the case of a group of 
strikers and secured the acquittal of most of them, Hunna had at once 


sought the acquaintance of his young opponent and cultivated that 
friendship ever since. 

Hanna in 1895 had only limited acquaintance with politicians 
who could be expected to control convention votes. Platt, Quay, 
Clarkson, and Manley ignored Hanna as one hardly worth their 
time. Even William E. Lorimer, a lesser boss, snubbed Hanna. 

Lorimer, born in Manchester, England, and just four years 
older than Dawes, had begun his career in Chicago at the age of 
twelve. He had been a newsboy and a sign painter's apprentice, 
had worked in the packing houses and on a street railway, and 
finally became a brick manufacturer and builder. He had taken over 
the Republican machine in a rough-and-tumble fight and forced it 
to give him the Republican nomination for Congress. In 1895 he 
held the Congressional seat, dominated the Illinois machine, and, 
in a play for national recognition, was backing the favorite-son 
Presidential candidacy of Senator Shelby M. Cullom, a man of high 
character and great prestige in his home state. 

Dawes' March diary entry was the last on politics to appear for 
some time. The Republican National Convention was still fifteen 
months away, and business demanded attention Dawes was nego- 
tiating for the purchase of several gas plants, and acquired those 
at Kenilworth and Wilmette in Illinois, and Akron in Ohio. 

Perhaps the most character-illuminating of all his diary entries, 
in that eventful year for him, were those having to do with human 
suffering. For the first time in his life, he found himself face to face 
with the bleak, desperate poverty and human misery which are bred 
in a large city. He had seen hard times in Marietta and in Lincoln. 
There had been crop failures and unemployment, there had been 
people suffering, in the middle-sized town as well as the small one. 
But when Dawes looked at the despair which had made its home 
in young, teeming, vigorous Chicago, a metropolis of 1,300,000, he 
was shocked. 

Charles Dawes never learned to look upon human misery with- 
out being moved by it or without trying to do something about it* 
Before six months after his arrival in Chicago had gone by, he was 
urging city officials and newspaper editors to get behind an effort to 
double Cook County's appropriation for charitable purposes. His 
diary tells the story: 

42 Portrait of an American: 

"I saw H, H. Kohlsaat, the publisher. I am getting him to advo- 
cate, in the Times Herald, the increasing of the annual appropria- 
tion, for charitable purposes of Cook County, from $100,000 to 
$200,000. Kohlsaat promised to look carefully into the matter; and, 
with his aid, I can accomplish the desired results. Saw CX D. Wethe- 
rell, City Comptroller, in the same connection. This year is only half 
gone, yet the county agent has distributed over $80,000 of his 
$100,000 appropriation, and the cold months of November and De- 
cember are still to come/* 

And, a week later; 

"I talked to William Ponn Nixon, publisher of the Chicago 
Inter-Ocean, about getting the appiopriatiou for charities for Cook 
County raised to $200,000* He promised to take the matter up in 
due time. I will have to keep at it for a while yet> but I expect to 
accomplish it" 

Dawes* campaign was crowned with success two months after 
it had been launched. He had carefully avoided becoming connected 
with it publicly, uncl he saw to it that all credit for the enterprise 
went to those who had helped him, 

Throughout the years, as his efforts to help the needy continued 
without flagging and soon began to involve the expenditure of stead- 
ily mounting sums from his private fortune, Ins name became as well 
known in the places of poverty as in the places of the mighty, But 
he never ceased to be embarrassed by any expression of gratitude, 
however well deserved. Fata was kind to him, he felt, and it was 
only natural that he should give a hand to his fellows who were 
clown and out. That was all there was to it. In the end, he formed a 
habit of warding off thanks with a display of crustiness which 
amused, but could not deceive, those who knew him. 

In Mark Hanna's room in the Wellington Hotel in Chicago, in 
May, Dawes agreed to lead the fight for McKinksy in Illinois, Onwos 
was surprised to find that 1 1 arm a looked without awe on such hosge* 
as Platt and Quay* He belittled the candidacy of such Easterners as 
Reed and Morton, Hanna considered the East the habitat of Vice- 
Presidential, not Presidential* eligible*. When the Kepuhlicans made 
a by with an Easterner at the head of the ticket, they lost, Hanna 


emphasized. The West would nominate the Republican candidate, 
and it would be McKinley or Allison. 

At Columbus, where he talked over campaign plans with Me- 
Kinley, Dawes thought the Ohio Governor had a far greater f amihar- 
ity with the political realities than Hanna. Except for Ohio, McKin- 
ley thought the bosses would be in control of all the states with big 
convention delegations, unless Illinois could be wrested from them. 
A spectacular victory in such a pivotal Northern state as Illinois, 
third largest in population and delegate strength, could be the deci- 
sive turn in the contest for the Presidency. 

"McKinley also places great importance on the selection of a 
convention city," Dawes wrote. "He thinks Chicago the best place 
for him, especially so if we can win the Illinois delegation for him ** 

Hanna summoned Dawes to his home in Cleveland in Septem- 
ber. There might be an important break coming, he said. Quay had 
indicated that he and Platt would like to talk to Hanna. Hanna went 
East, saw the bosses, and reported to McKinley the conditions under 
which he would be able to secure Eastern machine support. The 
terms were plain: Tom Platt wanted to be Secretary of the Treasury 
and be assured of all federal patronage in New York, Matt Quay 
wanted to be the sole job dispenser for Pennsylvania 

Hanna apparently did not think these terms exorbitant. But 
McKinley would have nothing to do with the bartering bosses." 
He answered flatly. 

"Mark, there are some things which come too high. If I were to 
accept the nomination on those terms, it would be worth nothing to 
me, and less to the people. If that is the only way I can achieve the 
nomination, I prefer to retire from the race/' 

McKinley went on to talk of the sort of campaign he wished to 
wage. Hanna enthusiastically agreed. Shut out of the boss-controlled 
states, the McKinley campaign, more than ever, needed the prestige 
it would get from a victory in Illinois. Illinois began selecting its 
delegates early in the Presidential-election year, and finished by 
electing delegates from the state at krge in April. 

Bracketed with a victory in Illinois, in advertising value, was 
little Vermont, which also chose its delegates early. The Green 
Mountain State was the most rock-ribbed of all in its Republican 
allegiance. It nestled between lean Tom Platt's New York and fat 

44 Portrait of an American: 

Tom Reed's Maine, and Reed's managers claimed all the Eastern 
states for him. McKinley wanted to upset that claim. Dawes noted: 

"McKinley has privately determined to exert his influence to 
have the National Committee select Chicago for the place of the 

Then came a sobering setback. The Republican National Com- 
mittee met in Washington, and the anti-McKinley forces chose 
St. Louis instead of Chicago. 

Dawes met with McKinley and Hanna in Cleveland to take 
stock of the situation All agreed that a victory in Illinois was, more 
than ever, a vital necessity, Hanna still thought an agreement might 
be made with the Illinois machine. With this, Dawes disagreed in 
toto. He was certain the Illinois machine would have to be met 
head on and soundly whipped. McKinley agreed with Dawes. 

By the middle of January, less than two weeks after his meeting 
with McKinley and Hanna, Dawes had started his organization in 
every one of 102 counties in the state. It was a curious organization, 
but far from nondescript. Its main strength consisted of political 
amateurs, Union veterans, businessmen, and more or less prominent 
Republican Party members not then in politics, Dawes himself had 
never voted in Illinois or attended an Illinois state political con- 

The young campaign manager was soon to have a test of his 
new organization and to find out the strength of the opposition. The 
Republican State Central Committee was to convene in Springfield 
on January 28 to choose a meeting place for the April state conven- 
tion* So sure were the Republicans of November victory that they 
advertised the state committee meeting as a love feast The meeting 
turned out to be more of a dress rehearsal for the coming campaign 
than had been anticipated; for, after the shouting and chewing for 
the leading candidates had finally died down, the mention of McKin- 
ley's name, made merely as a matter of national courtesy, invoked 
such an applause that the machine was jolted, 

Dawes' organization had done its work well Ha himself was 
so busy that he found time for only two short entries In hte diary: 

"January 27: Arrived at Springfield. Saw W, E* Mason about 
referring to McKinley in the meeting tomorrow. In consultation all 
day with Republican leaders over the state, planning district cam- 


paigas for McKinley. . . . Cullom is furious at McKinley's invasion 
of Illinois, which he considers his own particular and personal 

"January 28. Went to love-feast meeting. . . . Cullom's name 
as a Presidential candidate was mentioned while he was on the stage. 
Even then, McKmley's magic name brought forth the most thunder- 
ous applause. All day long, the overwhelming McKinley sentiment 
in the state manifested itself. It is McKinley against the field, 
against the bosses, against everything the bosses can bring to bear/' 

Blond Billy Lorimer appealed to Illinois to "stand solidly for 
Shelby M. Cullom. He is as big as any man in the field " 

The ruthlessness of the machine Dawes had set out to wreck 
was soon manifest. McKinley supporters, in search of meeting places, 
found all available halls rented for weeks in advance, by the opposi- 
tion, and standing empty. All vehicles for hire were somehow en- 
gaged elsewhere. Dawes wrote in his diary: 

"February i: Hanna is being greatly disappointed in his can- 
vass for funds. The great trouble with our campaign is the lack of 
money for legitimate purposes." 

The turning of the tide came on February 12, 1896, the date 
when Lincoln's birthday was being observed as a national holiday 
for the first time. A month earlier, Hanna and Dawes had arranged 
that McKinley would open his campaign on this day with a speech 
at the Marquette Club in Chicago. They had spared no effort to 
secure the presence of as many influential Midwestern Republicans 
as they could reach. 

Tlie man who was, perhaps, the most charming of modern 
Presidents was never more irresistible. In Dawes* private room at the 
Auditorium Annex, he captivated politicians, singly and by delega- 
tions. Master of the felicitous word and the apt phrase, McKinley 
was superb at the great banquet, where he spoke to an audience of 
a thousand. Soon after this, Dawes* diary began to reflect the first 

On March 4, Dawes' own Congressional district, the Seventh, 
chose the first two instructed national-convention delegates in the 
nation. They were for McKinley. 

In mid-March, an emissary informed Hanna that there was a 
possibility that Cullom might withdraw, under certain conditions. 

46 Portrait of an American: 

It was a critical moment in the campaign, and, on March 29, Dawes 
wrote the uncompromising answer to the Cullom feelers: "The Gov- 
ernor told me he proposed to take this place, if it came to him, 
unmortgaged " 

On March 31 Dawes was to make a very happy diary entry: 
"Received a telegram that Cullom's home Congressional district 
instructed for McKmley, which is a great victory for us/* 

By mid-April most of the Illinois district delegates hud been 
won for McKmley. The big test of the state convention lay ahead. 
By what his friends called a firm hand and his opponents culled 
autocracy, Dawes hud made political enemies in no small number. 
He had to deal with jealousy, personal ambition, and defection in his 
own ranks. 

One of his allies was reform Mayor Swift, of Chicago, a man 
with great personal ambition. 

At a caucus before the state convention at Springfield, on April 
24, Dawes came near packing his own meeting against himself, by 
inviting in some delegates who gave their allegiance to Mayor Swift 
rather than himself. Daws had outlined a well-thought-out plan of 
procedure in the convention. Swift proposed a change, and .sug- 
gested that the decision on tactics bo postponed until a larger caucus 
could be held, Dawes, who seldom in his life lost his temper without 
benefit to himself or his cause, jumped lo his feet and shouted to 

"The proposition you make means that we go into the conven- 
tion a disorganized mob, McKinlov holds ninety of the one hundred 
* * * r 

counties in this state. We aro not going to allow personal ambitions 
and personal jealousies to defeat the purposes of this caucus, We are 
going to demand that the order of business be changed so as to have 
Presidential instruction voted on before nomination of candidates 
for state office* The antt-McKinley minority in this convention is not 
going to fox its info a position where, after state candidates are nom- 
inated and delegates at large chosen, a tired convention can IK* 
tricked Into adjournment without voting Presidential instructions. 
Tliis is the time for derisiveness, riot hesitation. There are not going 
to be any more caucuses. That's the way it is going to be; and, if 
you. Mayor Swift, don't like that procedure, you can got the hell 
out of 


Swift accepted the Dawes plan. 

After a record-breaking three days of caucuses and conferences, 
and two full days of the convention session, accompanied by all the 
drama usually reserved for the national convention, Dawes won 
instruction for McKinley by a majority of 329. 

From Canton, a jubilant McKinley wrote: 

"There is nothing in all this long campaign so signal and so 
significant as the triumph in Springfield. I cannot find words to ex- 
press my admiration for your high qualities of leadership. You have 
won exceptional honor. You had, long ago, won my heart." 

Vermont instructed for McKinley a few days later. The Illinois 
victory had had the expected psychological effect Even while Tom 
Platt, the "easy boss/* announced that "The McKinley claims do not 
seem to have much substantial basis," Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, 
Kansas, and Arkansas followed suit. The McKinley band wagon was 

Chapter Four 


!A/ever did a young man of thirty look forward with deeper 
personal interest than did Dawes to the Republican and Democratic 
national gatherings in 1896. 

He had become convinced, in April of that year, that William 
McKinley, whose nomination he had confidently predicted two years 
before when McKinley was a very chancy long shot, was certain to 
be the Republican convention's choice. 

In his confidence that McKinley would assuredly he the Repub- 
lican standard bearer, Dawes was now in numerous company* Platt, 
Quay, Manley, Clarkson, and the other bosses opposing McKinley 
had never gotten together on any effective "stop McKinley** strategy* 
They hud plied their opposition to the Ohioan separately, and evi- 
dence of this lack of integration was readily apparent. Benjamin 
Harrison and most of the favorite sons had dropped out of tire race* 

Dawes had been making another prediction, for many months. 
It was that, for the first time in history, the two parties would nomi- 
nate men with the same first name. His Democratic William was 
Bryan* This prophecy was hedged with the* proviso that Bryan, in 
some way, manage to get to the rostnun and make a speech. The 
serious mention of Bryan brought hint some good-natured fem% 
When ho made It to Hanna, he would get the reply, "It will ho Dick 
Bland*" McKinley, a personal friend of Bland, agreed with Hanna. 

Dawes and Abner McKtoley, brother of the Presidential candi- 
date, left Marietta for St. Louis on June io six days before the con- 
vention. They found a striekea city. For two weeks now, St. Louis 



had been burying its dead and clearing away the debris left in the 
wake of a cyclone which had torn a path a mile and a half through 
the center of the town. 

Mark Hanna had arrived a few hours before Dawes. After the 
St. Louis convention, he was to rank as incomparably the greatest 
political manager ever to come on the national scene. The Hanna 
legend would grow lustier and lustier, soon he would be said to 
have his hands on wires he never touched, and to have accomplished 
feats he never attempted. But on that hot, humid St. Louis night, 
there was about Hanna nothing of the superman. Not a notably care- 
less dresser, he had gotten off the train wearing a cheap gray suit 
and an old straw hat, front side back. His feet already hurt him be- 
fore the convention started, and his small, well-shaped hands had 
begun to swell from too much handshaking. As soon as he arrived at 
the Southern Hotel, he ordered quantities of ice water, stripped off 
his coat, and began holding shirt-sleeve interviews and conferences, 
with his historic Room 88 door wide open. Two floors above Hanna, 
Dawes, in his own room, took care of the overflow. 

Tom Platt came in from New York, denying that things were so 
conclamant for McKinley He still insisted McKinley would be de- 
feated. Hanna, never suspecting such an unkind fate, was to inherit, 
and unwillingly wear for life, a distinguishing emblem which Platt 
wore only for a day. The New York boss reportedly was in possession 
of an immense fund to promote Levi P. Morton's Presidential aspira- 
tions. A cartoonist depicted Platt arriving in St. Louis, his valise 
covered with dollar marks. Later, the badge was to be transferred, 
by unfriendly cartoonists, to Hanna's garb. It was a made-to-order 
prefix for his first name, and he was to be labeled "Dollar Mark" in 
two Presidential campaigns. 

The entries in Dawes* diary for these days are scanty, indicating 
that they were written at great haste. Between last-minute cam- 
paigning and the preparation of the party platform, he had little 
time left But among the entries there is one, the only on-the-spot 
record concerning the much-disputed question of who wrote the 
gold plank, which went much further than McKinley had ever gone 
or had ever been expected to go: 

"June 15: Attended informal conference at which was drawn 
up tihte money plank of the platform. Participated iu discussion of 

50 Portrait of an American: 

same. The plank hero agiccd upon was afterward adopted by the 
convention. Present: Ilanna, Governor Merriam (of Minnesota), 
Myron Hcnick, H II. Kohlsaat (uncertain of Moses P. Handy); 
Melville Stone, head of the Associated Press, Henry C. Pu>ne; and 
perhaps one or two otheis. Hanna submitted a draft which had been 
approved by Governor McKmley. Some discussion took place as to 
the word 'gold' in connection with "existing standard/ Went over to 
the St. Nicholas Hotel and look a hand in the Vice-Presidential cam- 
paign. Did not get much sleep/* 

The plank, as adopted, said, in part: Ah \Ve an* therefore opposed 
to the free coinage of silver, except by international agieewent with 
the leading commercial nations of the cuith, which agreement we 
pledge ourselves to promote; and, until Mich agreement can he ob- 
tained, the existing gold standard must he maintained. All of our 
silver and paper currency must he maintained at parity with gold 
and we favor all measures designated to maintain inviolably the obli- 
gations of the United States, and all our money, whether coin or 
paper, at the present standard, the standard of the most enlightened 
nations of the earth/* 

This part of MeKwlev's platform was a calculated risk, H meant 
the certain holt of Western silverites, among them Senator Henry 
M. Teller of Colorado, the "stalwart/* who had been present at the 
birth of the Republican Party* 

The Kleventh Republican National Convention does not rank 
among the more* dramatic ones m history* Perhaps its mast moving; 
moment wius when the Senator from Colorado* known as "Crying" 
Teller, rose to make his expected sjx*eeh against MeKinlcy's gold 
plank. He was wearing the old-fashioned frock of the old-fashioned 

"You may nominate, in this convention, any man you choose," 
he said between tear drops* "If yon will put him on the right kind 
of platform, I will vote for him. But if you a<tk me, as an honest 
man, to surrender my principles, that I cannot do. When the Repub* 
lican Party was organized, I was there, H has never had a candidate 
since, that my voice was not raised In his support. If my stand takes 
me out of political life, I will go, with the feeling that at least I 
maintain my consistency and my manhood, that my conscience is 
clear, and that my country will haves no right to find fault with 


Teller received an ovation. But, when the applause had subsided 
and the roll was called, the gold plank was adopted as written, by a 
vote of 818)2 against 105^. The silver men walked out. 

The rest was a foregone conclusion. Over the noisy long- 
distance telephone wire which had just been strung to St. Louis, the 
first such telephonic communication that far west, Tom Reed (from 
the Speaker's office in Washington) had shouted to frail, soft-spoken 
Murray Crane. "Put my name before the convention, even if I am 
the last man to oppose McKinley " 

McKinley won the nomination, in a landslide, over Reed, Alli- 
son, Morton, and Quay. Reed, the runner-up, had only 84% to 
McKinley ? s 661& Dawes had delivered 46 of Illinois' 48 votes 
to McKinley Lorimer's own delegate vote and another which the 
blond boss controlled went to Reed. In his f ar-off Canton, Ohio, home, 
the nominee came to the telephone to listen to the cheering, shouting, 
and singing of his victorious followers in the St. Louis convention hafi. 

The high-riding McKinley forces refused* Platt and Quay even 
the consolation of the Vice-Presidential choice. Hanna picked squat, 
solemn Garrett A Hobart, of New Jersey, for that place. Noting in 
his diary that he had arranged for Illinois to vote for Hobart, Dawes 
wrote: "I think the position taken by Illinois practically settled that 

In the press gallery of the Republican convention, a short dis- 
tance from where Mr. and Mrs. Dawes watched the proceedings, sat 
an editorial contributor to the Omaha World Herald, now turned 
reporter. His name was William Jennings Bryan. Two weeks later, 
in another convention, he would supply drama such as no political 
convention ever held on American soil had witnessed. 

When his term in Congress had come to an end in 1895, Bryan 
had taken the newspaper job as a stop-gap, at a starting salary of 
$30 per week, and begun his efforts to secure the Democratic nomi- 
nation for the Presidency. So far, he had barely won a mention 
among the Democratic possibilities, The leading contender was un- 
deniably Richard P. (Silver Dick) Bland, of Missouri. But more than 
twenty men anxious for the lightning to strike their rods, some with 
new Presidential booms and others with shop-worn ones, would lug 
them to Chicago, 

52 Portrait of an American: 

Dawes was more than ever certain it was just Bryan's kind of 
convention. The old party warhorses, who were mostly gold men, 
had lost delegate contests to men whom Henry Watterson called 
devils of fiatism, and these newcomers would sit in the convention. 
But Dawes still had little company in believing Bryan would walk off 
with the nomination if he could manage, m some way, to get to the 
convention's platform and make a speech. A newspaper item of the 
day had said: 

"Just three people believe the boy orator of the Platte, who 
speaks in platte-te-tudes, has a chance for the Democratic nomina- 
tion. They are: Bryan himself, his wife, and Dawes, a Republican/* 

Although a native of Illinois., Bryan had not even been men- 
tioned in the Altgeld-dommated Illinois Democratic convention, held 
only three weeks before the national convention. He was so little 
known, when he arrived in Chicago, that one newspaper referred 
to him as "Thomas" Jennings Bryan. 

Dawes went from one Chicago hotel lobby to another in search 
of Bryan's headquarters. He found no less than three headquarters 
of "Silver Dick" Bland, the cravatless Missouri favorite. At the main 
headquarters, dapper Colonel Joe Rickey, inventor of the gin rickey, 
was informing the public of the overwhelming merits both of his 
candidate, Bland, and of his own concoction, of which, he assured all 
comers, "A man can drink four times as many as any other drink/* 

Colonel Rickey, a master of repartee, was no mean antagonist. 
One of the opposing candidates had just come out with the remark: 
"A man who never hides his collar button with anything but a napkin 
might antagonize the prejudices of America's erstwhile friends when 
it comes to the Presidency of the United States/* Rickey shot back: 
"Why does Bland need a cravat? His beard covers not only his collar 
button, but a heart which beats for all the people.** 

But Dawes found no Bryan headquarters. For Bryan, so far, 
was merely a member of a contesting delegation from Nebraska, and 
the rival delegation would be on the temporary roll of the conven- 
tion. When the session opened, he and his fellow silverites from 
Nebraska were cooling their heels outside. But Bryan and his dele- 
gation were seated on Thursday, June 7. On Friday, Bryan stepped 
up to the rostrum. 

It was the first full-dress political event in the history of the 


spick-and-span new Coliseum, such a meeting place as the nation 
had not seen before The sun rays, falling through the glass dome, 
lit up every part of the hall, giving brilliance to the banners and 
paintings hanging from walls and ceiling. 

As Dawes entered the convention hall, he passed the Nebraska 
delegation, some of whom he knew. Bryan was holding a large fan 
in his hand. 

"Bryan was not sitting with his Nebraska delegation/' Dawes 
recalled "He was just across a railing from them. He had on an 
alpaca coat. Although most of the delegates were coatless, Bryan 
had added something. He wore a low-cut white vest, like those 
usually worn with full-dress suits. He looked heavy-eyed and tired, 
although he seemed fresh once he faced the delegates. His appear- 
ance was changed from when I first knew him. In those early days in 
Lincoln, he had worn a full black beard. Now he was clean-shaven. 

"Bryan had outmaneuvered the conservatives, and even his 
allies, in the division of time and the order of its use. The conserva- 
tives put up their champions first: Senators Hill, of New York, and 
Vilas, of Wisconsin; and ex-Governor Russell, of Massachusetts. Hill 
seemed tired, and his voice did not carry. Vilas was given narrow 
courtesy by the delegates. Russell, who lived barely two weeks 
longer, was so hoarse that he could be heard only with great 

"Ben Tillman's speech had taken up fifty minutes of the allotted 
time, leaving Bryan only thirty minutes It was all he needed to make 
himself complete master of the situation. 

"He got his first demonstration of approval at the very outset, 
when he asked the audience not to measure his abilities against *the 
distinguished gentlemen to whom you have listened,' but- The hum- 
blest citizen in all the land, when clad in the armor of a righteous 
cause, is stronger than all the hosts of error/ 

"Bryan waited for the demonstration to subside, then stepped 
a little further forward on the stage. His youthful voice was clear, 
resonant, and pleasant. His tone was captivating; his diction, as 
always, good. The great size of the hall seemingly put no strain 
upon Ms voice, He spoke without notes* It sounded like extempori- 
zation. He made few gestures. His greatest applause came when he 
described his businessman: 

54 Portrait of an American: 

" 'We say to you (addressing the gold delegates) that you have 
made the definition of a businessman too limited in its application 
The man who is employed for wages is as much a businessman as the 
merchant of New York; the farmer who goes forth in the morning 
and toils all day., who begins in the spring and toils all summer, and 
who, by the application of brain and muscle to the natural resources 
of the country, creates wealth, is as much of a businessman as the 
man who goes upon the Board of Trade and bets upon the price of 
grain. The miners who go down 1,000 feet into the earth or climb 
2,000 feet up on the cliffs, and bring from their hiding places the 
precious metals to be poured on the channel of trade, are as much 
businessmen as the few financial magnates who, in a back room, 
corner the money of the world. We come to speak for this broader 
class of businessmen. 9 

"From that moment on, he had his audience at his feet, leaning 
forward so as not to miss a word. His closing sentence, *fou shall not 
press down upon the brow of labor this Crown of Thorns, you shall 
not crucify mankind upon a Cross of Gold* which gave the speech its 
name, did not attract great attention then. This peroration was 
merely anticlimax. Long before this was reached, he owned the 
convention, body and soul, and it had worn itself out, cheering." 

Before the cheering was over, Dawes walked out of the conven- 
tion hall and wrote out a telegram to Major McKinley, saying flatly 
that Bryan would be nominated. That evening, he wrote into his 

"June 8 Went to the Democratic convention. Sat on platform. 
Heard my old fnend, Wilham J Bryan, make his speech on the plat- 
form's silver plank. His oratory was magnificent, his logic pitifully 

"I could not but have a feeling of pride for the brilliant young 
man whose life, for so many years, lay parallel to mine, and with 
whom the future may yet bring me into conflict, as in the past 

"The scene was memorable. I had for weeks (knowing so well 
the oratorical capabilities of Bryan) predicted bis nomination, if he 
made a speech on the silver platform." 

Grimly, the backers of the other candidates went about the 
business of placing their principals in nomination. Vest, of Missouri, 
nominated Bland. But, so far as the convention, was concerned, he 


might as well have been reciting his "Tribute to a Dog," an effort 
which had won him his greatest fame His voice could not be heard 
fifty feet from wheie he stood His unheard speech was studded with 
Vestian nifties, such as. 

"Give us Silver Dick and silver quick 
And we will make McKinley sick 
In the ides of next November." 

But the delegates knew they were not going to give the nation 
Silver Dick and they didn't care to hear Vest. The Cross of Gold 
speech had been enough oratory to last them a lifetime. 

The nominating speech for Boies, of Iowa, stirred hardly a rip- 
ple. Senator Turpie tossed in the name of Hoosier Governor Mat- 
thews. A Georgia delegate, named Lewis, rather gratuitously nomi- 
nated Bryan. It was an entirely unnecessary gesture A dozen more 
nominators droned their way through speeches. 

The nomination would come from a party split squarely down 
the middle. A Democratic President sitting in the White House had 
been insulted, time and again. 

The chairman of the New Jersey delegation announced that his 
state, which had always hitherto been dependably Democratic in 
Presidential elections, would withhold its vote on the convention's 
ballot. Ex-Governor Flower announced that New York would not 
vote Diminutive General Bragg of the old Iron Brigade, he of the 
famous statement, "We love Grover Cleveland for the enemies he 
has made/' announced that Wisconsin was abstaining from voting. 
In all, 185 delegates skipped the roll call. 

Bryan was nominated on the fifth ballot. Dawes was not present 
when it happened. His diary states the reason: 

"July 10; Did not go back to the convention, as I knew the 
nomination of Bryan was inevitable." 

Bryan was on the hustings almost as soon as the Chicago con- 
vention adjourned. He was to make the most strenuous political 
campaign in history, riding in a special railroad car inappropriately 
named "The Idler/' 

The "Black Eagle of the Platte," as the former "Boy Orator*' had 
now come to be called because of his jet locks, was running on three 

56 Portrait of an American: 

platforms and with two Vice-Presidential running mates. He had 
been given the nomination of the coatless, cravatless, and, in some 
instances, sockless Populists at St. Louis, a sort of Wild West pow- 
wow, whose delegates the conservative newspapers derisively de- 
scribed as "representatives of the sage brush, jack rabbits, and free 
coinage." It had presented to him, as his ticket companion, lean, 
rabble-rousing Tom Watson, of Georgia, and had implored him to 
ditch Sewell, the Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate, and run in 
double harness with the Atlantan. The Free Silver convention, 
apparently recognizing that Bryan was already tt>o heavily laden 
with Vice-Presidential entanglements, gave him a third platform to 
stand on, endorsed his candidacy, and let it go at that. 

Bryan, sweating through the alpaca coat in which he had made 
his Cross of Gold speech, soon was drawing audiences which were 
measured only in acres. 

How McKinley would meet the challenge of his silver-tongued 
antagonist had not been decided when Hanna, Dawes, and other 
members of the Executive Committee of the Republican National 
Committee went to Canton on July 16 and heard from McKinley his 
irrevocable decision to stick to front-porch campaigning. He was 
sure, he said, that Bryan would plead poverty, and try to capitalize 
on the plea. 

'1 will not try to compete with Bryan/' Dawes quoted McKin- 
ley. "I am going to stay here and do what campaigning there is to 
be done. If I took a whole train, Bryan would take a sleeper; if I 
took a sleeper, Bryan would take a chair car, if I took a chair car, he 
would ride a freight train. I can't outdo him, and I am not going to 

A front-porch campaign was not a new idea for a Presidential 
candidate. Harrison had used it in Indianapolis in 1888. But McKin- 
ley made an excellent platform appearance and had a winning way 
with crowds. In past stumping, he had displayed great endurance, 
In a prenomination effort in Kansas in the year 1895, he had spoken 
to 150,000 people in two days. Once, in the Sunflower State, he had 
spoken twelve times in one day, another time, he had made twenty- 
one speeches in sixteen hours. His decision disappointed many 
Republicans. But Dawes, the only member of the Executive Com- 


mittee who knew Bryan, believed McKinle/s plan would be the 
most effective. 

In another diary entry concerning the July 16 meeting at Can- 
ton, Dawes wrote: "McKinley and Hanna told me they wanted me to 
be responsible for the proper handling of funds/' He added a foot- 
note, that Hanna had been more explicit four days later, that Dawes 
would handle all funds. He was then withm forty days of his thirty- 
first birthday. 

Dawes set up the Chicago office, then went back to Canton. 
On August 23, Dawes sat with McKinley in the twelve-by-eighteen 
library of the nominee's two-story yellow-frame house in Canton, 
while McKinley read him his acceptance letter, page by page. c l 
suggested two or three minor changes, which he adopted," Dawes 
wrote. "It is a very able document/' 

There was no doubt of the potency of McKinley's promise to 
banish bread lines, put an end to the depression, which had already 
lasted three years, "give the workman an honest dollar for honest 
toil"; and bring the country a new deal. Although McKinley did not 
actually use the words "new deal," other Republican orators did. 

Part of Dawes' duties in Chicago was to audition campaign 
songs, which poured in for what was to be a singing, slugging con- 
test. One of the first submitted put the New Dealer label on McKin- 
ley. The song, set to a grave tune of the grave nineties, went' 

What matter if all goods are cheap, our clothing and our hash, 

If we can get no work to do to bring the ready cash? 

The ring of empty dinner pails is but a mournful tune, 

There's got to be a new deal sure, for there's blood upon the moon. 

There's blood upon the moon, oh, yesl A dark and dismal stain. 
But better days are close at hand, when light shall shine again. 
The winter's discontent will turn to summer's breath of June. 
McKinleyll bring a new deal sure; there's blood upon tie moon. 

In August Bryan, en route to New York, passed through Canton. 
He was greeted by a crowd which filled every inch of standing or 
climbing space around the station. 

"I am glad, in this city," he announced, "the home of my distin- 
guished opponent, to testify to his high character and personal 

58 Portrait of an American: 

worth." Then, by sudden impulse, he climbed down from the train 
and, with Silver Dick Bland at his side, drove over to the McKinley 
home to greet his opponent. The nation was getting the first taste of 
the high drama that was to follow. 

On September 14, Bryan invaded the Blue Grass State to speak 
at the little town of Henderson. He found that the population of a 
half-dozen western Kentucky counties, and some from Indiana, had 
come to hear him. As he swung into the East, he drew great crowds 
at Baltimore and Wilmington In Philadelphia, dozens were injured 
in the crush. At Brooklyn, a howling, tumultuous throng greeted 
him. On September 25, 70,000 hailed him on the Boston Common. 
His argument may have been tongue-worn and illogical, but Bryan 
was making it as only Bryan could. 

He turned west for a spectacular trip through West Virginia, 
then to Illinois, into Tennessee, and back into Indiana for a speech 
at Indianapolis on October 6. Up to now, his Boston Common 
crowd had been his greatest. But Indianapolis gave him a con- 
queror's reception. In a parade from the railroad station, the Cleve- 
land Club of Indianapolis, in Prince Albert coats, marched ahead. 
These were old Grover's boys, named after the President; but they 
were not withholding their support from Bryan, as Cleveland was. 

Behind the Cleveland Club, Bryan rode in a white carriage 
drawn by four white horses caparisoned in silver harness. At the 
circle where he made his speech, every available inch of space was 
taken, and the sea of people stretched away in the streets which 
formed the circle's spokes. 

McKinley's certainty that many people would come to see him 
was borne out Visitors started even before the nominee had made 
the announcement that he intended to keep to his own front porch 
On June 18, when the telegraph wires were humming with the news 
of his nomination, his Canton and Massillon neighbors were alreadv 
giving him a serenade. Two days later a New York delegation 
stopped on its way home from the St Louis convention. On June 27, 
the date of his official notification, there appeared a crowd of 16,000 

By July i, the visitors had trampled down McKinley's lawn and 


obliterated his carnation beds. By the first of August the ground 
around his home was bare, beat-up earth. Enthusiastic supporters 
had pulled the pickets from his white fence and taken them home for 

Yet the greatest pilgrimage of American political history was 
merely beginning. From mid-September until the last Saturday in 
October, special trains brought railroad men, millworkers, miners, 
potters, and workmgmen of all kinds, schoolteachers, commercial 
travelers, bishops, preachers, evangelists, merchants, bankers, South- 
ern planters, and Northern fanners, men of every trade and profes- 
sion. Visitors would start arriving at dawn, and continue coming all 
day. From 800 to 1,000 letters a day poured into McKinley's study 
Republican processions marched and remarched past the modest 
McKinley home. Bands played; enthusiasts cheered; and steam 
calliopes contributed their "music.** 

Canton liked it all. The town decorated its homes. Citizens, 
wearing enormous red badges, their carriages shiny and their horses 
well groomed, met and welcomed the visitors, which many days 
reached as high as 10,000 and on one day 50,000. 

Occasionally the old white horse which pulled McKinley's car- 
riage would trot to the depot to bring an important visitor to the 
house. The country over, squads of white horses were being used 
to pull the white-money man. Bryan rode in carriages which had 
been painted white and silver-plated, with white horses wearing 
white silver-plated harness. Every white horse was a potential Bryan 
parader. Only the old McKinley white horse was exempt 

Sometimes McKinley spoke from the front porch, sometimes 
from the highly polished hickory stump sent to him by east-Tennes- 
see admirers, and sometimes from the bandstand. In bad weather, 
or for especially large crowds, he used a tabernacle. 

Finally, the "wheeled might of the nation" came to Canton. 

Dawes, himself a bicyclist, and Hanna, interested in anything 
mechanical, had given special attention to the cyclists of America. 
In Chicago headquarters four times as much money had been allot- 
ted to the wheelmen's department as to the women's department; 
for, while women were voting only in Wyoming, Colorado, and 
Utah, the wheelmen were organized in every city in the land. 

60 Portrait of an American: 

The McKinley and Hobart Wheelman's League was going to 
give the Republican candidate the show of his life. Battalions of 
wheelmen, two and four and six abreast, swung into alignment Most 
of them were in uniform, some in suits of pure white, faced in red, 
others in white capes with huge magenta collars. There was the 
inevitable bicycle float, showing McKinley and Hobart riding tan- 
dem in the lead, Bryan and Sewell second. Tom Watson rode alone, 
a touch of levity in the grave nineties. Marchers followed, carrying 
bicycle rims with pictures of McKinley and Hobart in the circles. 

The peddling wheelmen performed intricate mass-formation 
rides they had practiced for weeks. Finally, they halted in front of 
McKinley, dismounted, and raised their front wheels in salute. Their 
spokesman addressed the candidate: 

"The wheeled hosts of the nation came to avow their allegiance 
to you. . , . Our bond of brotherhood is our wheel; not a mere toy 
or simple source of pleasure, but a great commercial auxiliary, the 
acme of mechanical skill in the evolution of vehicles .* 

McKinley replied: "In this countiy of inventions, I doubt if 
any means of locomotion was ever so favorably received. Rapid 
transit in this novel form depends largely upon a single condition, 
good roads (loud applause and ringing of bicycle bells), and I am 
for them There are 800,000 bicycles being produced each year. The 
bicycle has beaten the best time ever made by a running horse." 

That same night, 25,000 railroad men in working clothes surged 
through the Chicago Loop for McKinley and sound money, carrying 
railroad lanterns instead of the usual torches, and on October 8, 
Chicago Day, that city saw the biggest public procession of the 
nineteenth century, with 100,000 men with golden badges, gold 
hats, gold caps, and gold shoes, marching for five hours before a 
crowd of half a million people. Although it was an all-civilian event, 
the procession moved like an Army corps on dress parade. Civil War 
veterans were putting their military knowledge to peaceful uses, 

The Chicago Day parade also saw the first use of a device which 
was soon in use everywhere. "It was seen everywhere during the 
parade," a newspaper account said. "It is an instrument called the 
megaphone/ which first came into use on bicycle tracks, and is 


calculated to make the most inoffensive whisper sound like a fog- 
horn. When it comes to noise, its success yesterday must give it 
recognition in all future demonstrations/* 

The effort to convince the electorate that McKinley, and not 
Bryan, was the friend of the people was going forward with wither- 
ing effectiveness. 

Dawes had set up national campaign headquarters in Chicago, 
with little of the money he was generally supposed to have at his 
command. "The pressure for places is simply overwhelming," he 
had noted on July 23. "Met 100 or so people, all of whom had a plan 
of campaign involving their employment as an incident/* The Hanna 
legend, fed by cartoonists who portrayed him in suits checkered with 
dollar signs and wading in lucre up to his knees, worked a powerful 
attraction upon people of every description, not all of them above 
suspicion. "The usual crowd of place hunters," Dawes noted, a few 
days later. "It involves a strain upon the sympathies to turn away 
some of the poor fellows/' 

Hanna had arrived in Chicago on August 10, a day of swelter- 
ing heat, but he did not bring campaign funds with him. He in- 
spected Dawes' headquarters, then put an extra supply of collars 
into his hat, and went on a round of money-raising visits. After 
pounding the Chicago pavement for several days without much 
success, he went East on the same errand. A week later, Dawes 

"Received letter from Hanna. The outlook for money for cam- 
paign purposes is very poor. Our plans will have to be cut down/' 

Not until September did money begin to flow into Republican 

"September 9: Have now received, as committeeman, nearly 
$300,000 since the campaign opened." 

"September n: At lunch, Mr. Hanna handed me an envelope 
containing fifty $1,000 bills, being a contribution of a railroad to the 
Republican fund. Deposited a check for a similar amount from an- 
other source. These will be the largest contributions of the cam- 
paign. Spoke to about 5,000 people at South Side meeting, and was 
well received." 

On October i Hanna could report that he had collected the 

Qz Portrait of an American: 

largest single campaign contribution made by an individual so far 
when he received $35,000 from E. H. Harriman in New York, while 
Dawes had received a contribution of $10,000 from Marshall Field, 
the Chicago merchant. 

Dawes made almost weekly trips to Canton to report on the 
progress of headquarters work to McKinley. He made this notation 
of his one meeting with Bryan during the campaign 

"Bryan and his wife were at the Auditorium Annex. I called upon 
them and had quite a talk. Bryan, somehow, imagines he has a chance 
to be elected President. He referred to our old silver debates and 
gave me a conditional invitation to visit him at the White House/* 

Charles Dawes' diary reflects a furious round of activities during 
the last month of the campaign He was running campaign head- 
quarters on a business basis, including meticulous accounting for 
every penny of campaign funds. His public speeches and private 
conferences followed each other in rapid succession. But on Novem- 
ber i he could enter: 

"November i: The campaign, one of the most notable the 
country has ever passed through, is drawing to a close. I write this 
on Sunday evening, before the eventful Tuesday. I am so confident 
of victory, and have always been, that I cannot even contemplate 
defeat as a possibility. It has been a great privilege to be connected 
with the campaign as one of the Executive Committee; and I have 
appreciated and, I think, improved my opportunities for gaining 
political knowledge and experience. I have kept my hands clean, 
and finish the campaign with a clear conscience/* 

And, the next day: 

"November 2: This is the eve before election, an event upon 
which my future course in life will largely turn* I believe we will 
have an overwhelming victory/* 

On that same day, Bryan traveled 290 miles in Nebraska, mak- 
ing daylight speeches at Lincoln and eight other stops. At Omaha, 
he made seven speeches at night, winding up with a great rally. At 
the end of his sixteenth speech of the day, and the three thousandth 
speech of the campaign, the i6-to-i candidate's voice was unim- 
paired, his physical condition better than when he started. Next 
day, Nebraska was in his column. 


"November 3. Election day. Major McKinley was elected 
President of the United States. There is an overwhelming majority 
for him, and a large majority in the electoral college. Voted at 
Evanston in the morning. Spent the rest of the day, and most of the 
evening, at national headquarters, where we received the returns. In 
the evening made a short address at the Auditorium, where 5,000 
people were listening to the election news. Telegraphed congratula- 
tions to the Governor and to Hanna " 

The majority was "overwhelming" only in the relative sense that 
it was much greater than the difference between the parties in any 
recent election McKinley led Bryan by 567,692 m the nation. Yet the 
race was so close, in a number of states, that the Chairman of the 
Democratic National Committee did not concede the election until 
Thursday. That night, Bryan wired to McKinley. "Senator Jones has 
just informed me that the returns indicate your election, and I 
hasten to extend my congratulations. We have submitted the issue 
to the American people, and their word is law." 

There was no law, in those days, requiring the publication of 
campaign contributions and expenditures, When Bryan and Dawes 
met for the first time after the election, Bryan asked. 

"Charley, how much did you fellows spend to beat me?" 

"We spent $3,562,325.59," said Dawes. 

Bryan was amazed. 

"Why, Tom Lawson told me he saw Pierpont Morgan give 
Hanna a check for five million dollars!" 

Chapter Five 


J he unofficial picking of a President's Cabinet for him, 
which is an American custom, began within a week after McKinley's 
election The Cleveland Leader, published in Hannah home city, 
which had been the first newspaper to favor McKinley's nomination 
and was supposed to have sources of information not open to others, 
forecast that Dawes would be Secretary of the Interior. 

There were other plausible selections, including Benjamin Hai- 
rison for Secretary of State, and Theodore Roosevelt for Attorney 
General, in the Leader's list. Hanna's own name did not appear 
What was not known at the time was that neither Hanna nor Dawes 
expected or desired to be rewarded with a Cabinet portfolio* Hanna 
had aspirations for a public career, but he wanted it in the legislative 
branch of government, as United States Senator from Ohio. 

Dawes also entertained an ambition, to be United States Senator 
from Illinois. But he was barely thirty-one years old. In all the history 
of the republic, not a handful of men had been elected to the Senate 
at his age. In addition, he had been a citizen of Illinois for less than 
two years. His senatorial designs would have to be postponed. 

Speculation that Dawes would be in the Cabinet continued as 
McKinley went about the business of assembling his official family. 
Newspapers commented that, if Dawes did get a Cabinet post, he 
would be the youngest man ever appointed to such a place, younger 
even than was Alexander Hamilton when George Washington put 
him in the Treasury. Men of political weight, including such McKin- 


ley intimates as Judge Peter S. Grosscup and General John McNulta, 
scheduled a trip to Canton to urge Dawes' appointment as Secretary 
of the Treasury. Dawes vetoed it. 

"I am approached constantly by influential friends/' he noted in 
his diary, "who proffer their support to me for the Illinois Cabinet 
position. I ask of these to refrain from addressing Governor 

In December, with Hanna, he visited die President-Elect to 
make plans for the inauguration which, in Hanna's words, would be 
"purely democratic, but grandly magnificent/' Dawes' diary records- 

"December 15: The President-Elect again discussed the ques- 
tion of a Cabinet position with me. He said he often thought he 
owed his nomination, in great part, to my effort in Illinois, and was 
anxious to know whether his failure to give me a Cabinet appoint- 
ment would, in any way, alter our intimate and constant friendship; 
that he would not have these relations altered for three Cabinet posi- 
tions. He spoke with deep feeling, and touched me greatly. I replied 
that nothing could alter or lessen my regards for him. He talked 
over the Cabinet personnel with me." 

But, on the train en route to Chicago with McKinley, who 
was to be a guest in his home, Dawes wrote: 'TThe President-Elect 
urged me to consider the appointment of myself as Comptroller of 
the Currency, if a Cabinet position for me should prove im- 

If Dawes was to accept an executive office in Washington, that 
of the Comptroller of the Currency was the one he preferred above 
all others. The office had been created during the Civil War, along 
with the national banking system. Congress, the sad experiences 
with the politically dominated United States Bank still fresh in its 
mind, had done a painstaking job to assure the political independ- 
ence of the Comptroller. His term of office was five years, one year 
longer than the President's term. 

In his quasi-judicial functions, the Comptroller was not con- 
trolled by any higher official. His annual reports were made to Con- 
gress directly, which rendered him independent of the Secretary of 
the Treasury, and allowed him to present to the legislature his own 
views on the banking and currency needs of the country. While in 

66 Portrait of an American: 

later years the Comptroller's office became obscured by the creation 
of the Federal Reserve Board, the Reconstruction Finance Corpora- 
tion, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, there was no 
doubt that, in the late nineties, it held far-reaching powers It was an 
office which demanded exceptional skill and placed an uncommonly 
heavy burden of personal responsibility upon the shoulders of its 
holder. These were the considerations which prompted Dawes pres- 
ently to inform McKinley: 

"I would gladly accept the appointment as Comptroller of the 
Currency, and consider it a crowning honor/' 

McKinley made Dawes his emissary to ascertain if Senator Alli- 
son would accept appointment as Secretary of State, Allison desired 
to remain in the Senate, so McKinley named Senator John Sherman, 
of Ohio, his cabinet premier, thus providing a place for Hanna in 
the Senate. 

When Representative Nelson Dingley, of Maine, declined to be 
Secretary of the Treasury, McKinley considered Dawes for that post. 
Dawes countered by presenting to the President a candidate of his 
own, white-whiskered Lyman J. Gage, a Gold Bug Chicago Demo- 
crat McKinley promptly commissioned Dawes to ascertain Gage's 
views on the tariff and, also, if he was interested in the Cabinet 
place The interview was satisfactory, and Gage was appointed. 

With Mr. and Mrs. Abner McKinley, Dawes went to Washing- 
ton for the inauguration. He noted: 

"By a curious coincidence, my old associates, Mr. and Mrs. 
W. J. Bryan, and their little daughter, were in the same parlor car 
with us I introduced them to the McKinleys and had a long talk with 
them. Bryan did not express any disappointment. I had a talk 
with Mrs Bryan. She spoke very sensibly and pleasantly about *old 
times' and her husband She somehow believes her husband will 
lead to triumph, in a Presidential race, the elements which stood 
for him in the last conflict/' 

How effectively Congress had safeguarded the Comptroller's 
office against political influence became evident at once. McKinley 
wanted Dawes to take office immediately. But James H. Eckles, 
then Comptroller, declined to resign before the completion of his 


Dawes stayed on in Washington for a while, part of the time 
living, at the President's invitation, in the White House. He recom- 
mended W. J. Calhoun, who had been his floor leader when Dawes 
fought for McKinley delegates at the Illinois Republican convention, 
as a proper man to make the study McKinley wanted made of the 
Spanish-Cuban situation. He went with the President to New York 
for the dedication of the tomb of General Grant, accompanied 
McKinley to the Nashville Centennial on the first of the President's 
good-will tours to the South, recommended General Jacob D. Cox 
as Minister to Spain, and carried McKinley's offer of the, at the 
moment, most vital of all diplomatic posts to General Cox, which 
Dawes' old law teacher declined because his health was not vigorous 
enough to cope with the rapidly deteriorating relations between the 
United States and Spain. 

Dawes urged that former Vice-President Adlai Stevenson be 
the Democratic member of the commission the President was send- 
ing abroad in an effort to effectuate his party's sound money plat- 
form. Stevenson, with the other commissioners (Senator Wolcott, 
of Colorado; and Charles J. Paine, of Massachusetts), departed in 
April. The commission got no encouragement from Great Britain, 
France, Russia, Japan, and India, all of whose assent was necessary 
for an international bimetallism agreement. Its mission eventually 

With Mrs. Dawes, the future Comptroller of the Currency 
went on their first European trip during the summer. He, of course, 
knew of the failure of the Bi-Metallism Commission, and realized 
that it would have an effect on the office he was about to assume. 
Unlike that of the Commission, his own trip was unofficial, intended 
only to gain such information as he could in preparation for his 
future duties. 

When Dawes returned in August of 1897, he found a country 
emerging from the depression which had gripped it for four years. 
On his arrival in New York, he noted: 

<< Wheat sold at $1.00 per bushel today, the highest price since 
1891. Prosperity seems to be dawning at last." 

While waiting for the office of the Comptroller to become va- 
cant, Dawes returned to Chicago with every intention of continuing 

68 Portrait of an American: 

his researches and studies on monetary matters. But he had no 
sooner come home than he found himself chosen the foreman of 
a grand jury. Although he could have evaded the distasteful assign- 
ment, he had vowed he would never dodge a civic call. 

"It is a mournful duty and a rather trying experience for one 
who endeavors to be conscientious/' he wrote. 

But in three weeks the jury had disposed of 745 cases, had 
visited jails, infirmaries, and an insane asylum; and Dawes, as fore- 
man, had written a report calling attention "to the grave faults of 
our present system of disposing of minor civil and criminal cases," 
When the jury was finally disbanded, Judge Ewing complimented it 
with the statement that "Its record has not been surpassed in the 
history of Cook County, and vindicates the new jury law/* Judge 
Chetlain added- "Its record is the most outstanding of any jury in 
the history of this county." 

In numerous meetings with Dawes, McKinley completed his 
currency recommendations during the autumn. The finishing touches 
were added at Canton. Dawes* journal threw light on the happy 
family life of the McKinleys One entry: 

"We talked, for a time, about his mother, who is eighty-nine 
years old, and of his sister, Miss Helen. His mother kissed him good- 
night, saying, 'William, I am going to bed now. You will find some 
pie under a cloth on the dining-room table, which I have put there 
for you/ After she and Mrs. McKinley and Miss Helen had retired, 
the President and I went out and tried the pie, at which we were 
soon joined by Mark Hanna and Senator Burrows, of Michigan/' 

On November 26, Dawes made this diary entry: "Mr. and Mrs. 
Albert J. Beveridge took dinner at the house, and spent the evening 
with us/* The entry was notable because it was his first diary men- 
tion of Beveridge, later to be a United States Senator from Indiana, 
and one of Dawes' closest friends. 

On December 16, 1897, James H. Eckles resigned as Comp- 
troller of the Currency. An hour later, the President sent the nomina- 
tion of Dawes to the Senate. Mark Hanna, although suffering from 
hives and rheumatism, began to hobble about the Senate Chamber, 
with Senators Cullom and Mason of Illinois trailing along behind 


him. In two hours he had polled the Senate Finance Committee 
and obtained unanimous approval of both Republicans and Demo- 
crats. Dawes was confirmed at once. He had just passed his thirty- 
second birthday. 

Back in Lincoln days, Dawes used to refer to his running battle 
with the railroads as "a good steady job without pay." When he 
assumed the Comptroller's office, he began to draw a regular salary 
for the first time in his life. It amounted to $5,000 a year 

"January 3, 1898. I enter my responsible office fully impressed 
by its obligations, and resolved to administer it without timidity 
or favoritism, striving only to do that which is right and consistent 
with public and private honor. 

"I believe it to be my duty to refrain from any acts which might 
give the impression that, as an administrator of law and a public 
official, I am more intimate with those the law is destined to restrain 
than with those it is designed to protect. Accordingly, I declined 
an invitation of John J. McCook to meet the bankers of New York 
at a banquet to be given by him." 

Dawes did not have to wait long for an occasion to demonstrate 
that he meant what he had said about timidity. Among the first 
callers was Representative Charles Curtis, later to be United States 
Senator, Republican Majority Leader of the Senate, and Vice-Presi- 
dent. He was swarthy, stocky, raven-haired, part Kaw Indian. In 
the course of his life, he had worn a blanket on an Indian reserva- 
tion, been a jockey and, later, a hack driver. He had the forthright 
vocabulary of his background. 

At the moment Curtis was outraged by the fact that Dawes, 
without consulting any Kansas politician or political organization, 
had appointed a Kansas bank examiner. The Senator, who was ac- 
companied by two important Kansas bankers, had planned a fear- 
some exhibition of his indignation, calculated to win the admiration 
of his influential constituents 

"What do you mean/' he roared, "by appointing a nonresident, 
nonpolitical nonentity as Kansas bank examiner? I want you to ex- 
plain it to me, if you can, so I can explain it to my people!" 

Dawes shouted back as loudly as Curtis: 

"You won't have the slightest trouble about that. By the Eter- 
nal, you just tell anyone who is interested that you talked to a 

yo Portrait of an American: 

Comptroller who feels competent to fill his job, is conducting the 
office exactly the way he sees fit, and, as long as he is here, is going 
to continue to do so." 

Curtis left the office, muttering that Dawes would hear from 
him again. He never did. 

Two weeks after coming into office, Dawes discovered that the 
banks of New York, Boston, and Chicago were in the habit of em- 
ploying his own bank examiners, for a goodly compensation, to make 
extra examinations of their banks for the bankers' own uses "This 
is an outrage," he announced, "and shall be stopped today. No man 
can serve two masters " The banks protested vigorously, but Dawes 
stood firm. 

The severest test of his stamina and character came with the 
closing of the Chestnut National Bank in Philadelphia. This huge 
institution was closely tied up with the sprawling interests of Wil- 
liam H Singerly, banker, paper-mill owner, and newspaper pub- 

The ramifications of the failure affected the interests of numerous 
leading financiers, among them many Republican political leaders, 
and a liberal sprinkling of top Democrats. These leading interests 
had, among themselves, worked out a plan of the order in which 
the creditors of the institution were to be paid off. Dawes rejected 
the plan as unfair to the other depositors, and the storm broke. 

"Great pressure is being brought to bear on me to modify my 
position in the Singerly matter, but I cannot and will not yield/' 
Dawes wrote. 

"The Mayor of Philadelphia called and made an argument en- 
deavoring to have me modify my conditions of January 24, 

"Senator Penrose, the State Treasurer, and the Lieutenant Gov- 
ernor of Pennsylvania came to my office relative to a deposit of the 
state in the Chestnut Street National Bank, with a proposition which 
was unfair to other depositors, and which I refused to consider, in 

Dawes went himself to Philadelphia. When he stepped off the 
train on the cold morning of January 28, a tall, silk-hatted, im- 
maculately dressed man was waiting on the platform. He extended 
his gloved hand and introduced himself as Edward l^ownsend Stotes- 


Stotesbmy had been a partner of Drexel and Company, and 
was now a member of the firm of J. P Morgan and Company. He 
was a member (in many cases, the chairman) of the boards of 
directors of some of Pennsylvania's largest manufacturing and trans- 
portation companies He headed local patriotic societies, civic or- 
ganizations, and Philadelphia sportsmen's clubs. He was, moreover, 
a staunch Republican and heavy campaign contributor. 

Stotesbury and Dawes talked only briefly Stotesbury asked for 
a later appointment to discuss the situation in detail; but wished, 
at the time, to urge the Comptroller to beware of George H. Earle, 
and to see that he had no part in the management of the bank's 

Dawes went to the Chestnut Street National Bank, then had 
lunch with Earle. He observed Earle carefully all during the con- 
ference. When the luncheon broke up, Earle remarked that he be- 
lieved it necessary, in the interest of the depositors, to have a receiver 
appointed as quickly as possible. 

"I have decided to make you receiver," Dawes surprised Earle, 

Dawes had picked the right man Earle did his job so well that 
he not only managed to pay all depositors out in full and to return 
all assessments made against stockholders, but he even accomplished 
the astounding feat of paying to each stockholder $40 per share. 
This performance was made possible, in part, by the fact that Dawes, 
in his capacity as Comptroller of the Currency, continued for a 
while to publish the Democratic Philadelphia Record, and to run it 
so profitably that, eventually, it could be sold at the then extremely 
high figure of $2,800,000. 

Dawes' administration was characterized by the vigor which 
had come to be expected of him. When there was a defalcation in 
the New York bank of powerful United States Senator Tom Platt, 
Dawes promptly closed its doors. There was no guilt attached to 
Platt, Dawes announced. But a politically minded man might have 
found a way not to close a Platt bank. 

He sent thirty-one-year-old Dan Wing, whom he had known as 
a minor employee in a Lincoln bank, to clean up the Boston financial 
mess caused by the failure of the Globe National and Broadway 
National Banks. He would not listen to the Boston protest that Wing 
was too young a man for the task. Wing fixed things up, stayed a 

72 Portrait of an American: 

half century, and became one of the leading New England bankers 
Dawes found underpinning for shaky financial institutions in 
New York, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and other cities. Chief Joseph, chief 
of the Nez Perces Indians, wearing long black hair and wrapped in 
a blanket, came to see him about the failure of a bank which had 
caused much distress to his tribesmen. When Dawes straightened 
it out, the great warrior called him "Big wampum man." 

"I went to the White House/' Dawes noted, "and got the Presi- 
dent to go to the basement to sit ten minutes for a sculptor who had 
waited three months, and over, for the opportunity. The bust is for 
the Government building at the Paris Exposition/' 

Getting the President to sit for his sculptor was probably the 
smallest service Dawes ever performed for the White House; for 
the President, like so many other men, had come to rely more and 
more on Dawes* judgment. When McKinley accumulated savings, 
Dawes found investments for him, the largest in Lincoln, Nebraska. 

"In the evenings, at ten o'clock, I frequently walked from my 
house, at 1337 K Street, to the White House, and went to the old 
Cabinet room, where I would wait for the President to come up- 
stairs/ 7 he wrote. "This he did almost every night, to finish up the 
business of the day with his trusted friend, George B. Cortelyou, 
first his Assistant Secretary, then his Secretary. 

"The President, on these occasions, was usually relaxed. Much 
of the work was formal, and consisted of examining and signing 
papers covering decisions made during the day, or before, and the 
President would often talk freely of the things involved. General 
Corbin, the Adjutant General, would generally be there with im- 
portant matters from the War Department. I shall never forget 
these visits late at night/* 

Although Dawes always disclaimed ever having had any de- 
cisive influence on McKinley's decisions, he was never reticent 
about his own opinions. "If you think you have commonsensc no- 
tions, you need not think them out of place in any company/' he 
had written in 1895, when he had informed McKinley of his views 
on the silver question. The problems with which McKinley was now 
faced were more serious than the silver issue; for, to William McKin- 


ley who, as a volunteer in the Civil War, had worn Union Blue for 
four years, who had seen some of its bloodiest battles, and who 
regarded war as the ugliest of human activities, there fell the task 
of leading the United States into another armed contest. 

There is no doubt about Dawes' own position toward the events 
which led from the mysterious explosion of the battleship Maine 
in the harbor of Havana on February 15, 1898, to the declaration 
of war on April 27. 

"The history of war which is true mingles acts of heroism with 
details of the slaughterhouse," he had written at Lincoln in the 
winter of 1893 "It tells of the game of chess played by generals, 
and of the mechanism and reasons for the movement of great masses 
of men; then, in the same breath, of disemboweled men, of splintered 
bones projecting through bleeding flesh, of the butchery of men 
more cruel than that of cattle, of horrible gaping wounds, headless 
bodies, decaying and putrescent corpses " He had not changed his 

Dawes* office in the Treasury Building looked out upon the 
White House, a scant 200 feet away. Two or three times a week 
he had lunch there with the President He often joined the President 
and his wife for dinner as well. Dawes saw President McKinley 
more often than any other man in his White House office. 

Sometimes, when he was troubled, the President would ask 
Dawes to go on long, slow walks with him. Sometimes they would 
go for rides in a one-horse trap. "The President would drive at a 
fast clip," Dawes wrote. 

Assistant Secretary of State William R. Day, who carried all 
the burdens of that office for the now senile John Sherman, liked 
to relax by riding a roller coaster. Dawes frequently noted streetcar 
trips with Day to Glen Echo, the national capital's Coney Island. 

No less than thirty-six journal entries made during the two and 
a half months preceding the outbreak of the war tell of conversa- 
tions touching upon that subject. 

"March 9. I had a talk with the President, congratulating him 
on the great compliment paid to him, and the great good to result 
from the placing, by unanimous vote of Congress, of fifty million 
dollars at his disposal for purposes of defense. 

"The President stands for any course consistent with national 

74 Portrait of an American: 

honor which will bring peace. In his hands this immense sum will 
be a great instrument for good, if war comes; but the fact that it is 
placed in his hands is a vindication of his policy, and adds to his 
power to control the situation in the interests of honorable peace 

"March 19. The President seemed to feel in better spirits than 
usual, although he is always cheerful. In the afternoon I was with 
Judge Day at the State Department. Theodore Roosevelt came in ? 
urging war and emphasizing the danger of delay, having learned of 
the sailing of the Spanish torpedo flotilla. I went dnving with Judge 
Day and we discussed Cuba, The situation grows more perplexing 
and ominous. War will be difficult to avoid. The President will do 
what he believes to be right. If he is right, the future, when all 
events are judged in the keen light of conscience and knowledge, 
will vindicate his course 

"The sensational papers make more difficult the situation. If 
war comes, it will be because the starvation and suffering in Cuba is 
such that the United States orders it stopped, on the ground of 
humanity and outraged judgment, and that order of intervention 
is resisted by Spain 

"March 22. The President again talked of the Cuban situation. 
His great line of policy is being assisted by events. He had hoped, 
and still hopes, to stop the suffering in Cuba without war. But he 
expects it to be stopped Intervention will be on broader grounds 
than the question of responsibility for the disaster to the Maine, 

"March 26. Saw the President at i P.M. A peace delegation of 
Quakers called and came into the Cabinet room while I was there. 
Was at the White House again at 4 P.M. The Naval Commission 
reports the Maine explosion was an external one first, followed by 
an explosion of one of the smaller magazines. This report will go to 
Congress, with a brief message from the President on the Cuban 
situation, asking an appropriation to feed the starving. This aid 
granted, he will proceed to feed these people, whether Spain objects 
or not. He will not request their recall, as this might be acceded to 
by Spain, placing him under obligation. Again, if they were recalled, 
and hostilities should open shortly after in Havana Harbor, he would 
be accused of treachery and bad faith. 

"March 27 Talked over the Cuban situation with Judge Day. 
He has been in constant communication with Madrid, The Spanish 


cabinet is intimating further concessions, and will probably consent 
to the feeding of the reconcentrados, and that the reconcentrados 
be allowed to return to their homes and farms. It is expected that 
Spam will further propose an armistice after this is accomplished 
Day hopes they will propose that this armistice shall continue until 
October i, when the President of the United States shall, as media- 
tor, settle the dispute finally and without war. 

"Neither the President nor Sagasta desires war. But the Presi- 
dent proposes to intervene to stop the suffering. His purpose is in 
accord with the dictates of humanity. If this purpose of relieving 
suffering is interfered with, he will use force, and his conscience 
and the world will justify it. 

"March 28 Was at White House. The callers are all more or 
less agitated over the situation in Congress. The President's message 
went to Congress. 

"He expects abuse for his efforts for a peaceful settlement of 
the Cuban situation, but, when his policy and acts are all known 
to the public, they will know his true strength and moral courage. 
The weak man, in his place, would long ago have been rushed into 
war under the awful pressure exerted He had, some time ago, taken 
the steps which the press demands should have been taken. He has 
notified Spain that the reconcentrados must be released and allowed 
to go to their homes. The public does not yet know this; but, when 
they do, a portion of the public will still demand unreasonable haste. 
War may be very near. 

"March 29- There is great indignation, among the more radi- 
cal members of Congress, at the President's message, which was not 
warlike enough to suit them. 

"March 31: Congress is awaiting a report from the President 
on Monday as to the situation, by which time Spain is to answer the 
President's demands. 

"April 4: Saw the President at noon. In the message, he will 
not recommend the recognition of Cuban independence, but will 
defend the right to stop the trouble, upon the broad grounds of 
humanity, by force if necessary. 

"April 7: The President and I took lunch alone in the library, 
and afterward I went driving with him for an hour. He discussed 
the situation with his customary frankness. He read his reply to the 

76 Portrait of an American: 

joint note of the ambassadors of the six Great Powers, expressing 
hope for peace between this country and Spain War seems inevitable. 

"April 20; Today, the President signed the joint resolution of 
Congress, and sent an ultimatum to Spain. 

"April 22; Our battleships are seizing Spanish vessels. 

"April 29: An engagement is expected by Sunday between 
our Asiatic Squadron and the Spanish ships at Manila * 

True to Dawes' prediction. Commodore Dewey steamed into 
Manila Bay at dawn on May i, 1898. When he had come within 
range of the Spanish fleet, he issued the famous order: "You may 
fire when you are ready, Gridley." 

On May 3, Dawes wrote in his diary: "Had lunch with the 
President. He will make Commodore Dewey an Admiral, 

"June 4: News comes of the bravery of Officer Richmond 
Pearson Hobson and his crew, in sinking a large collier in the mouth 
of Santiago Harbor, under the fire of Spanish guns. The hope is that 
this imprisons Cervera's fleet. 

"July 4: During the day we heard of the destruction of Cer- 
vera's fleet at Santiago/* 

The war, which lasted three months, three weeks, and three 
days, was soon ended. At the White House, Dawes noted in his 
diary, he saw recently demobilized William Jennings Bryan, whose 
208 days as the colonel of a Nebraska regiment had been spent in 
an Army camp near Jacksonville, Florida Another colonel, Theodore 
Roosevelt, whose 132 days of service had been action with the 
Rough Riders, was also back. Bryan was preparing to try again for 
the White House, Roosevelt for Governor of New York 

Dawes* final entry concerning the Spanish-American War is 
dated August z&: 

**Went with Abner McKinley and others on a Government tug 
down the Hudson, and met the flagship New York. Was introduced 
to Admiral Sampson. Gage, Wilson, Smith, Griggs, and Bliss, of 
the Cabinet, were there. Heard the Mayor of New York's address 
to Sampson, and his reply. Abner went back to the tug; but, upon 
invitation, I stayed and took the trip up the Hudson, Most of the 
time I was on the bridge of the ship. 

"It was a most wonderful greeting which the battleships re- 
ceived The river was filled with shrieking whistles; cannons were 


firing; and immense crowds everywhere were cheering. The ships 
in the parade were the New York, Indiana, Iowa, Oregon, Massa- 
chusetts, Brooklyn, and Texas. Admiral Schley boarded our ship in 
the afternoon. 

"Two incidents aboard the New Yor k made what I think will 
be lasting impressions on me On the deck of every ship, bands were 
playing the National Anthem. On our deck I saw one young captain 
of the Marines, the tears running down his face, walking up and 
down, saying, 'This is my country! This is my country!' 

"At noon, I saw old Secretary of Agriculture Wilson walking 
alone on the quarter deck, and I said: *Mr. Wilson, they are serving 
luncheon below, and you had better go down/ Secretary Wilson is 
a typical American citizen from Iowa, a farmer, dignified, without 
affectation, and he said to me: *I don't make it a rule to go where 
I'm not asked/ 'But,' I replied, c nobody will regret the oversight 
more than the officers of the ship; you should go down You have 
had nothing to eat since four o'clock this morning/ He said, 'My 
boy, I will tell you something. Thirty-five years ago, I came up this 
same river with my Scotch father and mother, in the steerage of a 
little ship; and now I come up it on this great warship, a member of 
the Cabinet of the President of the United States. I want to walk 
here and think about it. I can get along without lunch today/' 

"December 31, 1898: With Frank Lowden, Gus Hanna, and 
my brothers Rufus and Beman, I saw the old year out at the Union 
League Club. Thus ended an important year in my life, the year of 
greatest work thus far, and a year of progress, I think, all things con- 
sidered. I am deeply grateful for all which has come to me, and 
anxious to be found worthy of it/' 

Chapter Six 


!7he real things of life are the simple things; the re'al at- 
tachments are the home attachments." Thus Dawes had written in 
his diary after a visit to his old home in Marietta. 

His house at 1337 K Street, in Washington, was such a home. 
It was gay with the presence of Caro; little Rufus, now eight; and 
Carolyn, now six years old. While Senator Wolcott, of Colorado, 
was making the streets of the national capital unsafe with a single- 
seated, rubber-tired Victoria, Washington's first automobile, Dawes' 
stable housed a team of carriage horses of which he was proud. The 
Dawes house was within walking distance of the White House and 
the homes of his friends; for, in that fin-de-sidcle era, almost all the 
homes of executive officials, Supreme Court justices, senators, and 
embassies were clustered in a small, tree-shaded area. 

Friends had always been an indispensable element in his life. 
With the turnover in officialdom for which Washington is noted, 
new names began to appear in the diary. William Rufus Day, Dawes' 
closest friend, with whom he lunched two or three times a week at 
a famous table in Losekam's F Street restaurant, had departed, and 
John Hay was Secretary of State. George B. Cortelyou, McKinley's 
secretary, was his closest friend now, with the possible exception of 
Albert Beveridge. The name of George W. Perkins, soon to be a 
J. P. Morgan partner, appeared frequently. Theodore Roosevelt had 
become Governor of New York, and had much correspondence with 
Dawes, principally in connection with federal employment for 
ex-Rough Riders, to whom Roosevelt referred, in his letters, as "my 


troopers/' Another newcomer with whom Dawes was greatly im- 
pressed was Elihu Root, who was succeeding the beleaguered Russell 
A. Alger as Secretary of War. 

His diary tells of the many informal social gatherings at the 
White House, which were the principal relaxation of the President. 

"I joined the President and Secretary Gage in singing Methodist 
hymns. Senator Hanna was present, but he did not sing." 


"I went with Caro and Howard O. Sproggle, of Chicago, to the 
White House, where Mrs. Lawrence Townsend, wife of the Minister 
to Belgium, played and sang She had a marvelous accompanist. 
Mrs. Townsend is one of a number of fine musicians the President 
has had at the White House. About all the members of the Cabinet 
in the city, and their wives, were present. 

"The President knew that Seward Webb, Cortelyou, and I 
played the piano. The President has a good sense of humor, so he 
commanded all three of us to play. 

"Miss Flora Wilson, who was studying voice, was asked by the 
President to sing. When she refused, her father, Secretary of Agri- 
culture Wilson, volunteered: 'Mr. President, I will sing/ 

"I played the piano as his accompanist, and he sang some Scotch 
songs, or at least recited the words, along with some of the weirdest 
noises I have ever heard. Ineffectual efforts were made to draft 
other local talent into the concert. It was a very jolly affair, for the 
contrast between the finished performance of Mrs, Townsend and 
that of the rest of us was amusing, and was what the President was 
evidently seeking to emphasize." 

Then there was the stage, Dawes' abiding passion. Since the 
President was an infrequent theatergoer, but liked to work deep into 
the night, Charles and Caro Dawes had developed the custom of 
taking Mrs. McKinley to the theater frequently. The President would 
remain in his study, and Dawes would often join him there after 
the play or concert to review the day's business or discuss the prob- 
lem of the morrow. 

"While I sat with the President late at night, he went through 
a mass of official business, and made decisions. He would often pause 
and tell me why he was deciding as he did/' Dawes wrote. "One 
thing he told Cortelyou and me made a life impression upon me. 

8o Portrait of an American: 

He was considering the appointment of a minister to a foreign 
country. There were two candidates. The President outlined their 
qualifications, which seemed almost identical. Both were able, ex- 
perienced, honest, and competent. Each was equally entitled to 
preference from a political standpoint Then he told this little story, 
an incident apparently so unimportant that, except for its conse- 
quences, it never would have been told, an incident so trivial that 
the ordinary man would have forgotten it. But McKinley was not 
an ordinary man. 

"The President said that, years before, when he was a member 
of the House of Representatives, he boarded a streetcar on Penn- 
sylvania Avenue one stormy night, and took the last seat in the car, 
next to the rear door. An old and bent washerwoman, dripping wet, 
entered, carrying a heavy basket. She walked to the other end of 
the car and stood in the aisle. No one offered her a seat, tired and 
forlorn as she looked. One of the candidates whom the President was 
considering he did not name him to uswas sitting in the seat near 
which she was standing. He was reading a newspaper, which he 
shifted so as not to seem to see her, and retained his seat. Repre- 
sentative McKinley arose, walked down the aisle, picked up the 
basket of washing, and led the old lady back to his seat, which 
he gave her. The present candidate did not look up from his news- 
paper. He did not see McKinley or what he had done. 

"This was the story. The candidate never knew what we then 
knew, that this little act of selfishness, or rather this little omission 
of an act of consideration for others, had deprived him of that which 
would have crowned his ambition of perhaps a lifetime, 

"We never know what determines one's career in life. Indeed, 
it may be these little forgotten deeds, accumulated, are the more 
important factors; for it is they which must, in many cases, provide 
us with the opportunity to do the greater deeds, and we uncon- 
scious of it. Why comes this reward in life? Why that disappoint- 
ment or failure? We cannot know with certainty. This we can know, 
however, and this story illustrates it: There is no act of kindli- 
ness, however small, which may not help us in life; and there is no 
act of unkindness, however trivial, which may not hurt us. More 
than that: The habitual doing of kindness always adds to our hap- 


piness, for kindness done is duty performed. Unkindness always 
breeds an unhappy spirit, for unkmdness is duty neglected.'* 

While growing prosperity throughout the nation soon began 
to reduce sharply the number of bank failures and other financial 
upheavals, and so lightened somewhat the burden of one phase of 
work in the office of the Comptroller of the Currency., work in- 
creased in another. Dawes was championing efforts to bring about 
a sound emergency currency to lessen the danger of financial strin- 
gencies, and, at the same time, fighting legislation for asset cur- 
rency, which he considered a dangerous nostrum 

"We want some sort of currency which can come out in panics, 
which can be used at such times to carry us through, and not a 
currency which will help us into a panic when we are out of one," 
Dawes explained. 

He won the support of President McKinley and such power- 
ful senators as Allison, Aldnch, and Burrows, for the plan on which 
he worked many months. He had hoped to get it into the Gold 
Standard Bill, and it was inserted in the Senate. When the bill 
went to conference between the Senate and the House, it snagged. 
Speaker Henderson, anxious to get legislation which would redeem 
the 1896 platform promises, ordered the bill stripped of all such 
controversial amendments as the Dawes currency plan, and it was 
not in the Gold Standard Bill which McKinley signed into law on 
March 14, 1900. 

The Spanish- American War had established the United States 
as a naval power to be reckoned with. Her voice began to be heard 
around the world. 

John Hay was negotiating with the European powers for the 
open door in China. Congress was debating the recognition of the 
revolutionary government in Cuba and the Puerto Rican tariff. 
Thomas Brackett Reed retired from public life in protest against 
"imperialism/ 7 

The United States had Cuba, the Philippines, Guam, and 
Puerto Rico on its hands, and debated what to do with them. 
George Frisbie Hoar, the old man eloquent, had parted company 
with McKinley on the issue of expansion, leaving the admuristra- 

82 Portrait of an American: 

tion without a spokesman in the Senate. There were frequent ref- 
erences to Beveridge in Dawes* diary: 

"Beveridge is Presidential timber, if he can restrain his in- 
tense energies and commanding talents, and have the patience to 
exercise tact and discretion/' he wrote. 

Beveridge had, by now, won a Senate seat; and the daring 
strategy had been devised of filling the vacuum of the administra- 
tion on foreign policy in the Senate by making him its spokesman. 
This explained the Dawes diary item- "I am trying to help Bev- 
eridge get on the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Senate * 

Ten days after Beveridge was elected to the Senate came 
Aguinaldo's insurrection in the Philippines. Captain John J. 
Pershmg, then in Washington to organize the Bureau of Insular 
Affairs in the War Department, and in line to become its chief, 
declined the promotion in order to join the fighting 

Dawes' restless energy was being expended in many ways. 
He had become concerned over the rapid growth of trusts in the 
field of business which were taking place despite the Sherman 
Antitrust Act of 1890, and were to culminate m the organization 
of the United States Steel Corporation, the nation's first billion- 
dollar enterprise. Four entries in 1899 pointed up his concern with 
the situation: 

"March 24. The enormous capitalization of industrial con- 
cerns, and the combinations in apparent effort to control and raise 
prices, are deeply stirring the people, and will force the question 
of further legislation on the subject into the next campaign. 

"March 28. I talked over the matter of the unprecedented 
growth of trusts with the President, and the position in reference 
to them and their evil tendencies which our party should assume. 
He told me he intended to call the attention of Congress to the 
matter in his next message, and would lead in a movement for their 
proper restriction/' 

"Waldorf Hotel, New York. April 23: In the evening, Mr. and 
Mrs. George C. Boldt entertained us at dinner. The hotel is full of 
business schemers. Combinations of corporations of every kind are 
being made, and the "money changers' are at all the tables. 

"September 22; At xo P.M., went over to the White House and 


stayed with the President until 11:30. Discussed finance, and read 
my speech on 'Trusts/ which I expect to deliver in Boston " 

In his speech before the Merchants Club o Boston on October 
17, Dawes called "the taking of positive action against the present 
and prospective evils of the trusts one of the necessities of the hour. 
The question of the nature of that action is one of the issues now be- 
fore the people, and will remain before them until properly settled " 

Bevendge had come back from his trip to the Philippines just 
before Dawes made the Boston speech. Although Congress was in 
recess and Beveridge had not yet taken his Senate seat, and it was 
yet ten months before even the 1900 Presidential ticket would be 
named, Dawes recorded: 

"Beveridge announced to me that he was a candidate for the 
Presidency in 1904 and, whether I would be for him or against 
him, he proposed to make me his Secretary of the Treasury/' 

Dawes regarded Bevendge's statement as an amusing ab- 
surdity. But he was greatly interested in another pronouncement, 
that the Indianian expected to put himself prominently before the 
country by a speech defending the administration against the Dem- 
ocratic charge of "imperialism/ 7 

Beveridge began the three-month writing of the speech in 
Dawes' house. He made the speech on January 8, 1900, one of the 
great days in the history of the United States Senate. All morning, 
landaus, victorias, stanhopes, surreys, and carriages of all descrip- 
tions, drawn by horses which were the pride of their owners and 
grooms, discharged their freights of smartly dressed women and 
silk-hatted gentlemen. Admiral George Dewey, who had come home 
for his welcome seventeen months after the Battle of Manila, was 
in the gallery, resplendent in gold lace, and accompanied by his 
bride, the auburn-haired former Miss McLean of Cincinnati. 

Beveridge, freshman Senator from out of the West, was to 
make his debut in that august body in a role never before or since 
entrusted to one so callow in Senate service. Unknown yet, even by 
sight, to most of his colleagues, he was to be spokesman for his 
President and party on an issue which might dominate the forth- 
coming Presidential campaign. "Expansionism/' the administration 
called the issue; "imperialism," cried the opposition, and even some 
of the most stalwart Republicans. 

84 Portrait of an American: 

Every Senator was in his seat, and members o the House 
stood in the back of the Chamber when Bevendge walked in. He 
had been in his hotel room, going over with Dawes, for the last 
time, some of the revised portions of the speech. Dawes had been 
hearing parts of that speech since October, he had made sugges- 
tions, and only now it was ready. 

At 12:30, Beveridge sent this resolution to the Senate presiding- 
officer's desk- "RESOLVED, That the Philippine Islands are territory 
belonging to the United States, that it is the intention of the United 
States to retain them as such, and to establish and maintain such 
governmental contiol throughout the archipelago, as the situation 
demands " 

Beveridge had no notes or manuscript. Never once did he 
halt for a word, never did he stumble He spoke too fast for the 
Senate stenographers to take his speech down completely; but 
each word was distinct as his rippling sentences poured forth. 

He took note of Secretary of State John Hay's recent diplomatic 
tnumph, an assent from the great powers to the principle of the 
open door in China, and went on: 

"From Hong Kong's heights civilization is irradiating all the 
Orient If this be imperialism, its final end will be the empire of 
the Son of God. 

"The power which rules the Pacific rules the world; and> with 
the Philippines, that power is, and will forever be, the American 

Beveridge ended his speech in exactly two hours. It filled twelve 
columns of newspaper type. As he finished, a storm of applause 
rolled through the Senate hall from floor and galleries, Senate gray- 
beards, who had sat fascinated, violated all rules to cheer, Bev- 
endge was famous at a leap. 

Of that exciting day in the Senate, Dawes wrote: 

"In the morning, at Beveridge's request, went to his room, 
where he read some revised extracts of his speech. With Sadie 
Burnham and Caro, I went to the Senate at 12.30 to hear him make 
his speech, upon which he had been working for months. It was a 
great scene and a great triumph for Albert, who delivered his ad- 
dress with power and matchless grace. We sat with Secretary Gage 
in the President's reserved seats and had a fine view of the notable 


event Beveridge's speech will be long remembered as making his 
advent into greater affairs." 

Two months later, on the party-splitting Puerto Rican tariff 
bill, Beveridge was outside of the administration breastworks. 
Dawes wrote: 

"March 13: In the evening Beveridge came over and read 
me his constitutional arguments on the Puerto Rican bill, parts of 
which are very remarkable. As usual of late we got into a heated 
argument, to our mutual amusement. Mrs. Dawes did not consider 
it so amusing, as we upset a bottle of ink on a prized rug of hers/' 

For the next few days, Dawes and George W. Perkins had 
many stormy sessions with Beveridge, in an effort to obtain his 
support of compromise Puerto Rican legislation. Beveridge finally 

"If it had not been for Perkins and myself, I think, without 
question, Beveridge would have read himself out of the party and 
joined Mason and others in refusing to accept the best attainable, 
and thus endanger the solution of the Puerto Rican Government, 
which is far and above the lesser question of a temporary and small 
tariff," Dawes wrote. The bill squeaked through Congress and 
headed for a court test, and Dawes noted: "The precedent is fixed 
for the Philippines." 

It was the Philippine Insurrection which was indirectly re- 
sponsible for the only scolding McKinley ever gave Dawes. "It 
was in connection with a pardon matter," Dawes recalled. "Jacob 
Wolfson, of New Orleans, had committed an offense against the 
banking law. The defalcator was in collusion with a bank teller 
who allowed him to overdraw his account. Later, he was allowed 
to enlist, and fought bravely in the Philippines. One particular act 
of heroism was swimming a river to perform a dangerous mission. 
A petition for his pardon, signed by his superior officers and 1,000 
soldiers who served with him, was sent in. 

"In cases against the banking law, both the Attorney General 
and the Comptroller of the Currency were asked for recommenda- 
tions. I felt that the man had sinned against society but had atoned. 
I recommended mercy; Griggs recommended against it. 

86 Portrait of an American: 

"As the heads of the two recommending agencies had dis- 
agreed, I went to see Griggs. I used the word 'mercy* in my talk 
with the Attorney General. Griggs, a man with a steel-trap mouth, 
objected to that word. "The Department I head is the Department 
of Justice, not the Department of Mercy/ he said, with such an air 
of finality that I never mentioned it to him again. 

"There the matter stood on April 9, when the man was to sur- 
render to a United States marshal and begin his seven-year prison 
term. Wolfson, believing his case hopeless, came to me. As he came 
into the office, Abner McKmley, the President's brother, was with 
me. *I am never going to take off this uniform and put on stripes/ 
he said 

"'Don't be too quick/ I told him, and promised to see the 
President. *You be back here at two o'clock/ 

"I went over to the White House with Abner The President 
began to scold me when I brought the matter up. It was the first 
time he had ever done that. 

* TTou know perfectly well this man enlisted solely for the pur- 
pose of putting himself in a position to ask for a pardon/ the Presi 
dent said. 

"When I started to remonstrate, the President smiled and 
signed a paper and tossed it across his desk to me. It was the par- 
don. He had not wanted to offend Griggs who, at noon that day, 
went out as Attorney General. The pardon recommendation had 
been the first act of Philander G Knox as Attorney General/* 

Early in 1900 Dawes became involved once more in the cam- 
paign which was to put McKinley in the White House for a second 

"January 29; Spent a time with the President, who is celebrat- 
ing his fifty-seventh birthday. He reviewed the past few years of 
his life and his prospects* It would be a great personal relief to him 
not to receive again the nomination for the Presidency." 

Dawes listened while McKinley gave his reasons. The petit 
mal from which Mrs, McKinley suffered had grown much worse 
during the year. His administration, he thought, would be counted 
successful. He had fought a successful war. He had the treaty with 
Spain, and John Hay's triumph, the open door in China. 


In Congress, the legislative program had been a heavy one. 
Hawaii had been annexed and given a territorial form of govern- 
ment, and we had valuable Pearl Harbor No action had been taken 
on the Philippines or Cuba, but that could wait Congress, for the 
time, would leave to the President the duty of maintaining Amer- 
ican sovereignty and providing a government for the Philippines. 
A form of government had been provided for Puerto Rico, with the 
pioviso that, whenever its legislative assembly enacted a system of 
local taxation to meet the needs of the Islands, the Puerto Rican 
tariff would be removed. An Isthmian-canal bill had passed the 
House as the first step toward joining the Atlantic and the Pacific. 

Gold was firmly established as the monetary standard of the 
nation Every dollar was a gold dollar, or its equivalent There was 
the greatest volume of money in circulation in the nation's history, 
and foreign trade was at its greatest peak. 

Antitrust legislation had completed its journey through com- 
mittee and was on the congressional calendar for action at the 
next session. Congress had appropriated the huge sum of seven 
hundred million dollars to run the Government in the next year, 
but the country was prosperous and could afford it 

Future admirals would not have to fight with revenue cutters 
and other nondescript ships, as Dewey had at Manila. Congress 
had voted the McKinley naval-expansion bill, and the country was 
on its way to a big navy The authorizations were for two battle- 
ships, three cruisers, three protected cruisers, and five submarines, 
the new underwater craft of naval warfare 

McKinley had gladdened the heart of labor by asking an ex- 
tension of the eight-hour day. There was better feeling between the 
North and South. He had made, too, a move which, it was hoped, 
would forever prevent outbursts of yellow fever which, at various 
tones, had plagued Philadelphia, Boston, New Orleans, Charles- 
ton, Norfolk, New York, and Memphis. Major Walter Reed, of the 
United States Army, would soon depart for Havana in an effort 
to find out whether the disease was transmitted by the mosquito 

But the Republicans had no one on the horizon as formidable 
as McKinley. Hanna thought Bryan would be stronger than four 
years before. He wrote to Dawes that winning will "be no boy's 
play this year." 

Chapter Seven 


en Dawes swung the Illinois delegation to Garrett A 
Hobart in 1896, it had given Mark Hanna everything he wanted: 
Presidential nomination, Vice-Presidential nomination, and plat- 

With Hobart dead and the Vice-Presidency vacant in 1900, 
Dawes was again to play a decisive part in the selection of the 
nominee for that office, a part which was to have a profound in- 
fluence on the course of American history. Hanna was not to do so 
well; Platt and Quay were to do better than four years before. 

There was no doubt of McKinley's private preference for a 
running mate. It was Senator William B. Allison, of Iowa. But on 
June 10, on the eve of the Republican National Convention, a vastly 
important entry was made in Dawes* journal McKinley, Hanna, 
Allison, and Dawes met in the White house and discussed the Vice- 
Presidential nomination. The result Dawes gave in a dozen words* 

"Allison persists he will not accept the nomination for the Vice- 
Presidency/' Three days later, Allison made it official with a pub- 
lic announcement- "I will not have the Vice-Presidency; it cannot 
be forced upon me. If I should be nominated at Philadelphia, I will 
decline, will refuse to run/' 

Theodore Roosevelt had also announced. "I will not be a 
candidate for Vice-President. My statement is absolute/' 

Dawes favored then Representative Jonathan P. Dolliver, of 
Iowa, as McKialey's ticket partner, but assumed that the President 
and the President's friends would keep hands off and allow the 



convention to choose whomsoever it wished, provided the man 
chosen was not objectionable to the administration. Hanna openly 
backed Secretary of the Navy John D. Long, of Massachusetts. 

Despite Roosevelt's statement, Platt arrived in Philadelphia 
beating the tom-toms for the New York Governor. When Quay pro- 
tested that "A man as combative and impulsive as Roosevelt is 
the worst type of Vice-President," Platt replied that the best long- 
range thing which could happen to the Republican Party would be 
to elect Roosevelt Vice-President and depend upon him to do the 
things which would come naturally to him to wreck himself. Then 
the party would have a troublesome man out of its way for future 
Presidential nominations. Moreover, Platt undoubtedly wanted 
Roosevelt out of the state house m Albany. 

There was another impelling reason for Quay to go along with 
Platt The old boss was waiting for a chance to give Hanna his 
come-uppance. Only six weeks before, Hanna, temporarily bed- 
ridden with rheumatism, had refused to release Chauncey Depew 
from their pair so that Depew might vote for the seating of Quay 
as United States Senator from Pennsylvania Thus Hanna was de- 
cisive in the unseating of Quay by a one- vote margin. 

When Dawes arrived on Sunday, he found Roosevelt very 
much in the race, despite his disavowal. He wrote in his diary. "The 
sentiment here is clearly for Roosevelt for Vice-President." On Sun- 
day Quay announced that 58 of Pennsylvania's 64 delegates would 
be for Roosevelt. "And," he added, "we will cut the comb of Mark 

When an upsurge for Roosevelt came from the Western dele- 
gations, McKinley had other worries than his Vice-Presidential 
candidate. The gravest crisis in the Boxer uprising had come. All 
that Sunday he was in constant communication with General Ar- 
thur MacArthur, at Manila, to ascertain what troops the Philippine 
commander could spare from the pacification of the archipelago 
for duty in China. When MacArthur told him he could send his 
favorite regiment, the seasoned Ninth, McKinley went to bed. 

That Sunday night, too, Roosevelt was wavering. He told a 
caller: "A man cannot be too big for his party. If a call comes, he 
must accept/' 

Dawes believed the situation had reached the point where only 

go Portrait of an American: 

one man could issue a fiat and bring about his choice for Vice- 
President That man was McKinley, and the President, having kept 
his hands off until now, could not jump into the fight. 

Still, Hanna had not given up. He believed he could stem the 
Roosevelt tide. He announced, at a news conference, that Long 
would be nominated. Then came the famous Monday break in the 
situation long unrecorded. 

"At about noon, I was in Hanna's room with H. C. Payne, of 
Wisconsin; Senator J. C, Burrows, of Michigan, and others/' Dawes 
noted. "Much enraged at the fact that Quay had started a stampede 
for Roosevelt, Hanna seemed about to line up the administration 
forces for Long. 

"He said that, if Roosevelt were nominated T>y Quay and 
Platt/ he would refuse to be chairman of the National Committee, 
Hanna and I had almost an altercation, since I insisted, with all 
my power, that any interference on his part, for Long or anybody, 
would start a stampede in the West for Roosevelt; and thus, he 
(Hanna) would be playing into Quay's hands; that it was simply 
a trick of Quay's to take advantage of the Roosevelt sentiment, and 
make it appear that he was a factor in it 

"Hanna was in such a state of mind that I arranged to have 
Cortelyou at one telephone and the President at another (at the 
White House), so that I could talk with Cortelyou and have the 
President hear what I said. I outlined the situation to them, and 
received an ultimatum from the President for Hanna which, at his 
dictation, I copied and took to Hanna. It read as follows: 

"'The President's close friend must not undertake to commit 
the administration to any candidate. It has no candidate. The con- 
vention must make the nomination. The administration would not 
if it could. The President's close friend should be satisfied with his 
unanimous nomination, and not interfere with the Vice-Presidential 
nomination. The administration wants the choice of the convention, 
and the President's friend must not dictate to the convention/ 

"After the session of the convention, I took this to Haima. He 
had already called a conference at Bliss* rooms at the Stratford at 
10:30 P.M. to decide whether to make an effort to unite the con- 
vention on some other candidate than Eoosevelt for Vice-President 
Hanna said, however, he would follow the President's instructions. 


"I was greatly relieved at the outcome, as nothing could have 
stopped the Roosevelt movement, and the only result of Hanna's 
interference would have been his humiliation, and embarrassment 
to the President." 

Ten days later: 

"June 30: I discussed politics with Roosevelt He evidently 
knew much of what took place regarding his candidacy between 
the President, Hanna, and myself, and was very much interested 
to know something more." 

The Republican campaign, under the slogan "The full dinner 
pail," was fought against the background of a Chinese uprising and 
a widespread coal strike at home, which found Hanna, the former 
coal operator, on the side of the miners against the mine owners. 

On November 6, the McKinley-Roosevelt ticket defeated Bryan 
who, this time, had sixty-five year old ex- Vice-President Adlai E. 
Stevenson as his running mate. 

The Dawes and McKinleys celebrated their twelfth and thirti- 
eth wedding anniversaries a day apart, the Dawes January 24 and 
the McKinleys the twenty-fifth. Dawes wrote on January 24, 1901: 

"Our twelfth wedding anniversary. The children presented us 
with original drawings representing two punctured hearts, and sur- 
rounded with forget-me-nots. Had lunch at the White House with 
President and Mrs. McKinley. ... I took my dear wife a bunch 
of violets, and spent one of the happy evenings of a very happy mar- 
ried life. We also received some beautiful flowers from the White 

For Dawes, there was a particular additional reason for his 
wedding-anniversary happiness: 

"I gave Will Dawes $3,300 to retire the last of the preferred 
stock of the Dawes Business Block Company at par and accrued 
dividends at 8 per cent. That makes $47,300 which I have retired 
at the same terms. He then brought me a deed transferring all the 
property of the company to me as an individual. . . . The com- 
pany was a heavy load to me during the panic. I allowed no friend 
who had invested on my judgment to lose a cent of principal or 
interest on it 

ga Portrait of an American: 

"Only one man, an old German in Marietta, objected to turning 
his stock over. He replied: 

"1 think I will keep mine. Anything which is good enough for 
Charley Dawes is good enough for me/ He was a very surprised 
man when he found I had been taking the money out of my pocket 
to pay the dividends. 

"When I married, I was twenty-three years old. I barely had 
money enough to pay rny railroad fare from Lincoln to Cincinnati 
for the wedding At the time the panic struck, I was twenty-eight 
A community in Ohio had backed my judgment, and I owed 
$200,000 " 

Other members of the family were doing well, too: 

"Received annual reports of Evanston and Ottumwa gas com- 
panies, demonstrating the ability as manager and financier of my 
beloved brother, Rufus. He is a great man in every respect, and only 
his modesty holds him back. 

"Semen's business ability is winning him prestige and fortune. 
He has come into control of the Little Rock (Arkansas) gas plant, 
and is president of the company, having about one third himself 
His success at Lansing and Little Rock has been over great ob- 
stacles placed in his path. 

"Henry is, as Tom Ochiltree said, 'not only my brother but my 
personal friend/ I am sensible of the good fortune of having such 
brothers and sisters as mine; for they are not only successful, but 
good and unspoiled by success/' 

He was backing his friend Walter WelLcnan on his polar ex- 
pedition. He also had been one of the originators of the idea to build 
the Lafayette Monument in Paris, and it had been successful: 

"We held a meeting of the Lafayette Memorial Commission 
in my office. Archbishop Ireland, Reverend Edward Everett Hale, 
Robert J. Thompson, and myself were present. . . . When the 
bills for the Lafayette monument in Paris are paid, we will have 
quite a surplus left, I suggested that each member of the Commis- 
sion be communicated with, seeking his opinion upon the advisa- 
bility of asking Congress the authority for devoting the surplus of 
the funds voted us for duplication of the monument in the United 

Dawes noted that George W. Perkins had come and spent the 


night at his house to discuss "J. Pierpont Morgan's offer of a full 
partnership. He is guaranteed $3OO,ooo-per-year profit. Morgan 
wants a man in his firm who can maintain its prestige after he is 
gone. Perkins will accept. He has high ideals and believes that the 
solution of industrial problems must be approached, first, by the 
distribution of stock holdings of industrials among the people, then 
by honest management without inside rings/* 

Dawes had thoroughly reorganized the Comptroller's office, 
and was ready to retire and make his long-contemplated race for 
the Senate in Illinois 

"June 23: 1 decided, this day, to resign my office as Comptroller 
of the Currency, in view of the fact that I am a candidate for the 
United States Senate in Illinois. My term does not expire until Jan- 
uary i, 1903, but I cannot be a candidate and perform properly, 
next year, the duties of my responsible office. In doing this with- 
out solicitation or suggestion, I am influenced by the plain prop- 
erties of the situation; but it is also wise, in politics, to have courage 
to burn bridges behind you when their existence may give aid to 
the enemy. 

"The President would be glad to appoint me at the end of my 
term, without doubt; and, in seeking the Senate, I am giving up a 
congenial and responsible place. But if a man clings to the pleasant 
things, he will miss the higher ones. He may miss the higher things 
anyway, but it should not be for lack of courage to attempt them." 

"June 24. I went over to the White House and told the Presi- 
dent what I had decided to do. He was much surprised with the 
conclusions at which I had arrived. He asked me several times if 
I had fully considered it, and requested that the matter remain be- 
tween us two until the proper time for announcement Later in 
the afternoon I went driving with the President. He asked me if 
I had fully determined upon the step, and spoke of how his wife and 
he would miss Caro and myself. 

"June 2$: I was with the President again. He asked me if I had 
not reconsidered which, of course, I had not. We discussed briefly 
the matter of my successor. On reaching home, I read in the Cen- 
tury Magazine for this month the article by Woodrow Wilson, 
'When a Man Comes to Himself/ When my children reach middle 
life, if God spares them and it is for my children that I am writing 

94 Portrait of an American: 

these journals I want them to read this article, which I have pinned 
between these leaves. 

"I have never read these journals of mine through since start- 
ing them, but I remember some of my plans for reforming things 
wrong in society, when I was younger, and that I used to write of 
them in my journal. I do not think I am any more tolerant now of 
governmental and industrial wrongs than I was then. But, as Mr 
Wilson says, It is the discovery of what they cannot do and ought 
to do which transforms reformers into statesmen/ 

"The practicability of every reform is determined solely and 
absolutely and always by 'the circumstances in the case/ and only 
those who put themselves into the midst of affairs, either by action 
or observation, can know what these circumstances are, or perceive 
what they signify. I am far from being transformed into a man who 
more clearly perceives the limitations of usefulness of those who con- 
stantly preach radical doctrines. As someone said to me once (I think 
my brother Ruf e, perhaps ) , 'Think radically, but speak conservatively, 
if you want to command influence/ " 

And finally: 

"I saw the President and formally tendered my resignation as 
Comptroller, to take effect October i, for the reason that I will be 
a candidate for the United States Senate from Illinois, Suggested 
Cortelyou as my successor. The President immediately called Cor- 
telyou in and left the decision with him. While the appointment 
would mean a loss to the President of the most efficient secretary 
a public man ever had, it seems plainly an opportunity for Cortel- 
you, and I think he so regards it." 

There had been another development of which only a handful 
of people knew at the time. On August 2, 1900, in the midst of 
the Presidential campaign, Hanna had written to Dawes: 

"I enclose a statement from one of my Secret Service agents 
which, I think, is reliable as to the fact and intent; and, while I 
cannot see the sense of their having any reason to attack the Presi- 
dent of the United States, I cannot but feel it is my duty to suggest 
caution. It is unfortunate that this should have come at a time 
when the public's mind is excited over the coming election, and the 
class issue is again being revived. There are many diseased minds 


in the country. Therefore I wish you would show this to the Presi- 

The enclosed memorandum, gaining significance from the fact 
that King Humbert I of Italy had fallen at the hands of an assassin 
only four days earlier, read. 

"The purpose of the following information is that proper safe- 
guards be thrown about the person of the President, and the in- 
formation following may be corroborated by reference to the Intel- 
ligence Bureau of the Government. 

"About two years ago, an Italian-American resident of New 
York City, named E. Moretti, furnished to the Government infor- 
mation relative to a Grotto of Socialists located in Paterson, New 
Jersey, and, on the strength of that information, Moretti was em- 
ployed by the Government for a short time and, during the time 
of his employment, furnished the following particulars to the officer 
employing him: 

"The Anarchists or Socialists, through their various organiza- 
tions, resolved to rid the earth of a number of its rulers, and the 
following selections were made: first, the Empress Eugenie of 
Austria was to be dispatched, then the King of Italy, then the Czar 
of Russia, then the Prince of Wales or his mother, the Queen; then 
the President of the United States; and, lastly, the Emperor of Ger- 
many. As the first two calls made by this information have come to 
pass as predicted, this informant, impressed with the possibilities 
of the situation, asks that the information furnished by him to the 
Government two years ago be gone over, with a view of corrobo- 
rating it. 

"It may well be that the man, Breschi, who killed the King of 
Italy, was the second man selected to do the work, the first one 
selected being killed by his fellow members because of his failure 
to do the work which had fallen to him by the rules of the Grotto. 
Then another drawing was had; and, the slip falling to Breschi, he 
kept his oath. Appreciating that the President and his best fnends 
do not feel apprehensive for his safety, the party responsible for 
this statement of facts, prompted only by what he knows to be true, 
as far as the informant's part is concerned, believes that proper and 
prompt steps should be taken to protect the person of the President, 
and, for that purpose, suggests that his secretary, Mr. Cortelyou, 

96 Portrait of an American: 

be communicated with and requested to triple the guard now sur- 
rounding the President. There is but one man now doing the duty." 

Dawes' own notes continue the story: 

"Though not unusually disturbed by the many vague warnings 
of this nature so often received, this was surrounded by so many 
evidences of reliability, as compared with others, that I was much 
worried, and saw the President and showed him the papers and 
insisted with all my power on less indifference on his part to his 
personal safety. Saw Cortelyou about it, and he saw Chief Wilkie, 
of the Secret Service, in connection with the matter. The guard was 
increased. The detective claims that the plot includes the assassina- 
tion of all the leading rulers of the world, and originates at Pater- 
son, New Jersey, where Breschi, the assassin of Humbert, came 

On April 27 Dawes spent an hour, late at night, with President 
McKinley, and bade him farewell as the President prepared to 
leave for a six-week Western trip McKinley talked over his plans 
for the summer. 

The journey would accomplish three purposes. The President 
was anxious to make another solidifying trip into parts of the South 
he had been unable to visit. He had fostered good will between the 
sections with his earlier trip to Nashville, his speech before the 
Georgia legislature, and his trip through the Shenandoah Valley. 
He had put a Southern man, Mobile-born and Nashville-reared 
Ethan A. Hitchcock, in his Cabinet; and two of the first four gen- 
erals he appointed in the Spanish War were Fitzhxtgh Lee and Jo- 
seph E. Wheeler, former Confederate Army officers. 

Three of the fighting naval war machines he had asked for 
(the Battleships Maine, Missouri, and Ohio) were ready for launch- 
ing. His presence on one of these occasions would give him an op- 
portunity to emphasize the necessity of an adequate two-ocean 
navy, now that the United States had become a world power. He 
chose the ceremonies in connection with putting the Ohio down 
the ways at San Francisco. 

At the end of the trip he would open the Exposition at Buffalo, 
then go with Mrs. McKinley to Canton for the summer in their re- 


modeled home. As it turned out, only the southern part of the trip 
passed off without mishap 

In Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi great throngs, among 
them thousands of Confederate veterans, turned out to honor the 
President, one of whose close fnends was General John B Gordon, 
then the commander of the United Confederate Veterans. At New 
Orleans, which had never been visited by a President of the United 
States before, eight spirited white horses, with yellow-satin har- 
ness, drew the President's carriage in a parade before hundreds of 
thousands of people. 

In gaily-decorated Houston the parade route of the President 
was strewn with roses, and aged Mrs. Anson Jones, widow of the 
last President of the Republic of Texas, came to greet the first 
President of the United States she had seen since James K Polk 

This triumphant trip continued through Texas, New Mexico, 
and into California Then occurred something which caused Mc- 
Kinley to postpone his Buffalo trip from July to the ill-fated Sep- 
tember date. 

"Mrs McKinley is seriously ill at San Francisco/' Dawes noted 
on May 14 "All are much worried she may not recover I wired 
President McKinley " 

Mrs. McKinley rallied sufficiently for the President to partici- 
pate in the launching of the Ohio. He then canceled all further en- 
gagements and, ten days later, started the hurried trip back to 
Washington with her. 

As the President reached Colorado on his journey to Washing- 
ton with the stricken Mrs. McKinley, the Supreme Court handed 
down its decisions in the first of the consolidated Puerto Rican 
cases. In perhaps the most involved reasoning by the Court, with 
the exception of the gold decision rendered by a successor bench 
thirty-four years later, the Court, in two opinions, decided, in effect. 

"The Constitution follows the flag, but not to the extent that 
tariff laws in the territories must be uniform with those of the United 

"Puerto Rico and the Philippines became integral parts of the 
United States upon ratification of the Treaty of Paris, but Congress 
has power to govern them according to their needs, without ref- 
erence to the excise limitations of the Constitution/* 

98 Portrait of an American: 

While the decision generally sustained the insular policy of the 
administration, both decisions were by 5-to-4 decisions, and one 
Justice, swinging from one line-up to another, wrote both majority 

The Court's strangely arrived at consensus brought forth Peter 
Finley Dunne's famous quotation of Mr Dooley: 

"No matter whither th' Constitution follows th* flag or not, th' 
Supreme Coort follows th' illiction returns." 

On July 10, McKinley sent for Dawes and discussed with him 
a personal matter: 

"We walked for an hour in the White House lot, and the Presi- 
dent discussed the third-term interviews given out by Depew and 
Grosvenor, which he regards as unkind and uncalled for, though 
possibly well meant. He spoke of the best method of stopping it, 
and of his thought of making a public statement that he would not 
accept a third term if tendered. In the evening he had a Cabinet 
meeting to consider the form of his statement. Mrs. McKinley is 
improving, and the President was feeling very well/* 

On the following day Dawes wrote: 

"The President read me his statement which he gave to the 
press, finally disposing of the third-term talk. The President's an- 
nouncement is only what the people of the country who have come 
to know his high purpose expected. To his friends, his view upon 
the third-term question has always been freely expressed. It is not 
generally known, but nothing but a sense of duty led the President 
to consent to his second nomination. Personally, he felt he had lit- 
tle to gain and much to lose by a second term. The President is a 
domestic man; and, in the midst of the anxieties and perplexities 
of his high office, his mind has constantly turned to his Canton 
home, a return to which both he and his wife look forward with 
great anticipation/' 

McKinley's rejection of a third term was the most pointed and 
specific ever made by any President. He said: 

"I regret that the suggestion of a third term has been made. I 
doubt whether I am called upon to give to it notice; but there axe 
now questions of the gravest importance before the administration 
and the country, and their just consideration should not be preju- 
diced in the public mind by even the suspicion of a thought of a 


third term. In view, therefore, of the reiteration of the suggestion 
of it, I will now say, once and for all, expressing a long-settled con- 
viction, that I not only am not, and will not be, a candidate for a 
third term, but I would not accept a nomination if it were ten- 
dered me." 

Vice-President Roosevelt lost little time getting into the Presi- 
dential race. On the day following McKinley's announcement, 
Roosevelt wrote to Dawes, asking for a meeting as soon as possible. 
In mid- July, Dawes, in New York en route home from Boston to 
Washington, noted his first visit to the home of Theodore Roosevelt: 

"At the Waldorf Hotel in New Yorfc: In response to a repeated 
invitation from Vice-President Roosevelt, took the train to Oyster 
Bay and spent the night at his house. I had a long talk over the po- 
litical situation and in connection with his prospects for the Repub- 
lican Presidential nomination in 1904. 

"Roosevelt fears that Governor Odell, through the machine, 
will control the New York delegation against him. I told him I 
thought this would greatly strengthen him if it happened, just as 
Cleveland was strengthened by the successful local opposition of 
Tammany. I told him that, in my judgment, Illinois would be for 
him. Professor Nicholas Murray Butler was also a guest at the 
house. Met Mrs. Roosevelt and the children. 

"Roosevelt and I spent two hours in conference, and I told him 
I was for him, and should be unless the sentiment of our people 
should change against him, which I did not anticipate. I explained 
that we were fighting in Illinois to make our organization respon- 
sive to public sentiment, which therefore would make us his nat- 
ural allies in the coming contest. 

"When I arose in the morning, there had been placed in my 
room an unattached tin tub filled with the coldest-looking water 
I ever saw. Beside the tub was a huge bathing sponge. I decided I 
would forego a bath until I got back to New York. Took breakfast 
with the Roosevelts, and a walk with the Vice-President, and left 
for New York. 

"Back in Washington, worked on recommendations as to laws 
to be passed in the Philippines regulating banking, and sent them 
to Governor General William Howard Taft." 

On August 11, Dawes received a telegram from Cortelyou at 

ioo Portrait of an American: 

Canton, saying that President and Mrs. McRinley wished Mr. and 
Mrs. Dawes to come to Canton for a visit Later, Cortelyou tele- 
phoned, asking that they bring Mrs. Rixey, wife of the President's 
physician., along with them 

"Cortelyou met us at the train with the President's carriage/* 
Dawes wrote in his journal of August 12, 1901. "We had a jolly 
evening, with Cortelyou playing the Cecehan, a kind of piano. 
The President was in his best mood. Mrs. McKmley is very much 
improved in health. The President has greatly enhanced the appear- 
ance of the house, and both he and his wife are planning a quiet 
and pleasant summer The callers are many, but not so pestiferous 
as when they came bent on getting office." 

At the end of three days Dawes, accompanied by Cortelyou, 
left for a visit to his old home in Marietta Mrs. Dawes went to 
Chicago to find a house where they could move in October. When 
Dawes went to tell him good-by, McKinley said: 

"I am going to sit down and write my Buffalo speech I think 
it will be the most important one of my life." 

Back in Washington, Dawes found this letter from Vice-Presi- 
dent Roosevelt, dated August 20: 

'Would there be any chance of Mrs. Dawes and yourself com- 
ing here (Sagamore Hill) for a night with us in September? Almost 
any date after the 8th would suit us. I want to tell you in full about 
the Colorado, Missouri, and Kansas situations and, also, to get some 
advice on Illinois again." 

Another letter from Roosevelt, dated August 28, read: 

"I had rather a succession of mild calamities in my family, 
which resulted in two of my children going to the hospital, and 
Mrs. Roosevelt is going to take them to the Adirondack soon. I 
shall want to see you after my return from the Adirondacks. Per- 
kins will be back by that time. Cannot I arrange to see both of you 
together? I had a letter from Cullom I want to tell you of ." 

Dawes had not replied to Roosevelt's letters when an unex- 
pected tragedy made it unnecessary to do so. 

The speech which William McKmley delivered on the Es- 
planade at the Pan American Exposition at Buffalo on September 
5, 1901, was addressed to an audience all over the world. 

*We must encourage a Merchant Marine built, owned, and 


manned by Americans/' he said. "We must build the Isthmian Canal. 
The construction of a Pacific cable can no longer be delayed. After 
all, how near, one to the other, is every part of the world. God and 
man have linked the nations together. No man can long be indif- 
ferent to another. 

"The period of exclusiveness is past. The expansion of our trade 
and commerce is a pressing problem. A policy of good will and 
friendly trade relations will prevent reprisals Reciprocity treaties 
are in harmony with the spirit of the times; measures of retaliation 
are not 

"Let us ever remember that our interest is in concord, not con- 
flict, and that our real eminence rests in the victories of peace, not 



McKinley's speech excited keen interest around the world. "It 
is the utterance of a man," said the London Standard, "who feels 
he is at the head of a great nation with vast ambition and a newborn 
consciousness of strength. Her national life is no longer self-con- 
tained or introspective/' 

At four o'clock on Friday afternoon, McKinley, accompanied 
by John G. Milburn, President of the Exposition, his secretary, Cor- 
telyou; and two Secret Service men, arrived at the domed Temple 
of Music for the public reception. He was greeted by thunderous 
cheers and applause There is no doubt that McKinley was beloved 
by his fellow countrymen as few Presidents have been Visitors stood 
in line to shake the President's hand. 

While the great pipe organ was playing Bach's Sonata in F, 
the President reached out to grasp the left hand of Leon Czolgosz, 
whose right hand was bandaged. As he shook it, the anarchist 
Czolgosz fired two bullets from a ,32-caliber revolver which he held 
concealed inside the bandage. The President fell back into the arms 
of Cortelyou. The muffled sound of the shots was drowned in the 
organ music Few people had noticed what had happened 

"I was sitting, about 5:30 P.M, at my desk in the Treasury 
Building," Dawes recorded in his journal, "when Sam Small, Jr., a 
newspaper correspondent, hurried in with the news that the Presi- 
dent had been shot I immediately made arrangements to leave for 
Buffalo. Upon arrival there, I went to the house of Mr. Milburn, 
where the President was lying. 

Portrait of an American: 

"Cortelyou told me of the condition of the President. I then 
saw the President's sisters, Mrs. Duncan and Miss Helen McKinley; 
and Mary Barber, who was trying to comfort Mrs. McKinley. I did 
not see Mrs. McKinley. Miss Duncan and Senator Hanna came in. 

"Cortelyou described the wonderful calmness and courage of 
the President after he was shot. His first words were of his wife, 
then of mercy for the miserable wretch who had shot him and 
who would have been killed by the crowd, had not the President 
saved him. The President had said, 'Let no one hurt him/ " 

Three days later, when doctors had pronounced President 
McKinley out of danger, Dawes told of his conference with Vice- 
President Theodore Roosevelt on the 1904 Republican Presidential 

"Roosevelt met me at the Milburn house and asked me to lunch 
with him at the house of Mr. Wilcox, where he is staying He said 
he wanted to talk to me privately, and would ask Mrs Wilcox to 
arrange it so that we would not be interrupted. Colonel W. C 
Brown took Mrs. Abner McKinley, Mary Barber, and me driving; 
and, afterward, I went to lunch with the Vice-President. He drew 
me aside to discuss 1904 Presidential politics for an hour. I told 
him his prospects seemed good in Illinois Roosevelt thinks Cullom 
has the Presidential germ, though the latter has written him a 
friendly but rather evasive letter. 

"After lunch I went back to the Milburn house, and Mrs. 
McKinley sent for me to come upstairs, where she was sitting with 
Mary Barber and the nurse. She broke into tears when I came in, 
but soon recovered herself, and I talked with her for some time. 
She says, 'The Lord is with us/ and her husband will recover. She 
sent her love to Caro and the children, for I told her, now that the 
President is out of danger, I was going to Washington. Said good-by 
to Abner and Cortelyou, and all The President tells Cortelyou he is 
getting rather lonesome. Even Abner has not seen him yet; nor have 
any of the family, except Mrs. McKinley, only the doctors and 
nurses, and occasionally Cortelyou. The President, however, is 
cheerful, as he has been ever since he recovered from the operation/' 

Dawes returned to Washington; Roosevelt went to the Adiron- 
dacks; and members of the Cabinet left Buffalo. Then came the re- 
lapse. Of the death of the President, Dawes wrote: 


"September 13, and Saturday morning: At four o'clock in the 
morning (September 13), Caro and I were awakened by the con- 
tinued ringing of the telephone bell, and Captain B. F. Montgomery, 
of the White House, notified me of the sinking spell of the President. 
I hurried to the White House, where Montgomery was in com- 
munication with Cortelyou by wire. At 5:30, Secretary Gage came, 
and we awaited the sad news of increasing danger. At 7:50 A.M. 
I left for Buffalo, reaching there at about 8 P.M., and drove im- 
mediately to the Milburn house. Latta, of the White House staff, 
met me at the sidewalk. He was in tears, and said to hurry or I 
would be too late. I went hurriedly upstairs and was taken to the 
room of my dying friend, the great President of the United States. 
He was surrounded by the family group. Mrs. McKinley was sitting 
by his side, with her face near his. He had one arm around her and 
was smiling at her. He had ceased speaking some time before this, 
but he seemed conscious, and he looked at me in the kindly way 
which was so natural to him. Some little time before this, he had 
repeated a portion of the hymn, 'Nearer, My God, to Thee, e'en 
though it be a cross that raiseth me* He had bade those present 
'farewell/ saying, It is God's way; His will, not ours, be done/ 

"Silently, we stood by his bedside. Abner took my hand in his. 
His sister, his nephew and nieces, and others were there. Cortelyou 
stood at the foot of the bed Mrs. McKinley made no outcry; her 
grief was past words. Finally she was led away, to see him no more 
alive. Before she went to rest, she was told the President would 
not awaken in this world. 

"Through the long, weary night, we waited. The Cabinet was 
on the lower floor, but, from time to time, they and others of the 
family and near friends would pass in and out of the room, the 
door of which stood open As I watched him in the earlier evening, 
the President did not seem like a dying man to me. He moved his 
limbs freely, and did not seem to breathe with difficulty. He seemed 
to want to hold Dr. Rixey's hand, and would reach out to him like 
a child in the dark. Once he said, 'Oh, dear/ as if in distress. Finally, 
at 2:15 A.M., the end came. The President lay with head near the 
side of his bed. The faithful Dr. Rixey, who had been by him 
through long hours, sat by him then. Around him were the Presi- 
dent's sisters: Mrs. Duncan and Miss Helen McKinley; near the 

ic>4 Portrait of an American: 

head of the bed, Sallie Duncan, and Mary Barber, Jim McKioley, 
and William Duncan, Mrs Abner McKinley, Mr. Osborne, and John 
Barber were present. Besides those of the family were Cortelyou, 
Webb Hayes, Colonel W. C. Brown, and myself; the nurses, Miss 
McKenzie and Miss Hunt, and some other attendants. 

"The President was breathing mechanically and audibly. Fi- 
nally, he ceased to breathe, and it seemed he was gone. Then he 
drew another breath, after a time. Then all was still. Dr. Rixey 
placed the stethoscope on the President's chest and, in a little 
time, said simply, 'The President is dead/ The great life was ended. 

"The little group around him passed out of the room It was 
thus that I looked upon him last. He had died as he had lived, in 
fear of his God and in his faith in His mercy and goodness. As I 
left the stricken household and walked out into the darkness, my 
thoughts were of my own dead father, and of this friend who had 
now gone forever, and who had been as father was to me; then 
of the wife who lived only for the President and who, in her suffering 
and lifelong illness, clung to his strong nature as a vine clings to 
the oak." 

On the morning of September 14, 1901, Vice-President Theodore 
Roosevelt left his camp in the Adirondacks and, in a swinging, 
bouncing buckboard, was driven down the mountain passes to a 
train waiting to take him to Buffalo Of that day Dawes wrote- 

"Went with Senator Fairbanks to the Milburn house at eleven 
o'clock. I was present at a meeting of the Cabinet with Senator 
Hanna, Judge Day, Senator Fairbanks, Myron Herrick, and Abner 
McKinley. Arrangements for the funeral were decided upon, 

"I tried to be helpful during the day, and made up a list of 
people for the funeral train, and was also with President Roosevelt, 
taking him the text of a proclamation which John Hay had wired, 
setting aside Thursday as a day of mourning in the country Roose- 
velt, however, did not follow Hay's form, but prepared one himself, 
which he read to me This Cortelyou sent out. All the old family and 
political friends whose faces had grown so familiar during the past 
six years were present at the Milburn house at different times during 
the day." 

Subsequent entries in Dawes* diary tell of the first funeral serv- 
ices in Buffalo, of the immense crowd which passed the President's 


bier in Buffalo City Hall, and of the trip of the funeral train to 

"At every town, the whole population seemed gathered along 
the tracks/' he wrote "People were often in tears. At almost every 
place the school children were standing in line The Grand Army 
posts were there with their flags draped in black. Long lines of 
laboring men, civic and military organizations, stood in silent order. 
At many points, the people sang "Nearer My God, to Thee/ as the 
train passed slowly along. The singing, the tolling of the bells, the 
sad and silent gatherings made the deepest impression of all. 

"Poor Mrs. McKinley was so bowed in grief that she could not 
bear to look out of her car window. At Harrisburg a tremendous 
crowd gathered, and so at Baltimore. An immense concourse of 
people had assembled at Washington. With Captain and Mrs. 
McWilhams, I was driven to the White House, where we entered 
a rear door. There I met Caro. In a short time the body of the 
President was brought in and taken to the East Room Caro and I 
had been at the White House when the President and Mrs. McKinley 
left for Canton. How little did we expect such a home coining. 
Mrs. McRinley went into the East Room for a short time after reach- 
ing the White House, and remained there for a time alone/* 

In the remainder of his entries, Dawes told of the funeral 
services in the great rotunda of the Capitol, attended by President 
Roosevelt and ex-President Grover Cleveland, of the lying ui state 
in Canton City Hall, and the final services. 

"For the last time there was gathered in Canton the old 
McKinley following, and familiar faces were everywhere. Yet how 
different than ever before was the spirit in which we gathered to- 
gether. The Chief was gone." 

Chapter Eight 


Dawes* resignation from the office of Comptroller 
of the Currency became effective, he returned to Chicago to carry 
on his figEt in the 1902 Illinois Senatorial campaign. 

In 1900, Senator Shelby M. Cullom, discouraged at his chances 
for re-election, had offered to withdraw in favor of Dawes. Governor 
Richard Yates, who had been the beneficiary of Dawes 7 second his- 
tory-making assault on the Illinois machine, had also tendered his 

"With the rejection of Yates* proffer of support it would seem 
that altogether, including my refusal of support from Cullom him- 
self, Fred Busse, Dan Campbell, and Charles B. Rannels, I have 
come near to a declination of the Senatorship itself," Dawes wrote. 
"Yet under the circumstances no other course was consistent with 

Dawes' defeat of the Illinois machine in the 1900 state conven- 
tion had been spectacular. 

He had gone to Peoria to attend what he regarded as a routine 
state convention. When he arrived he found Governor Tanner and 
Congressman Lorimer in control. Cullom and the antimachine ele- 
ment admitted defeat. He proposed: 

"If you, Senator Cullom, and your friends will do just as I say 
and fight to the finish absolutely without compromise, I will stake 
everything on the result and lead the fight. You will either whip 
the machine now or it will win and hereafter be invincible." 

At the end of a turbulent, nose-bloodying two days Dawes had 



administered a resounding defeat to Tanner and Lorimer, routed 
the machine candidate for governor, brought about the compromise 
nomination of Yates for that office, and assured Cullom's re-election. 

Back home on the eve of the 1902 Senatorial race, Dawes had 
little taste for politics. His business interests in Chicago and else- 
where were making ever greater claims on him. Word from Wash- 
ington did nothing to augment his desire to return there. Most of 
the old McKinley inner circle cared little for Theodore Roosevelt. 
There came letters such as this from Secretary of the Treasury Gage- 

"The death of McKJnley and the occupancy of the White House 
by a man of acknowledged ability but of a temperamental quality so 
different, your departure from the government scene, and the 
changes which if not actualized yet are within the range of possi- 
bility, give those of us here a feeling of depression and chronic sad- 

Tanner's rout in the 1900 state convention had eliminated him 
from politics. But Dawes would stall have to contend with Lorimer. 
And when now in 1902 he learned that Yates, whom he himself had 
been principally responsible for putting into office, had joined forces 
with Lorimer, he could be certain that the battle for the Senatorial 
seat would not be an easy one. "The fight will be clean-cut," he noted, 
"and either Lorimer or I must be counted out when it is over." 

English-born Lorimer had a paramount personal stake in the 
defeat of Dawes. He coveted the highest American elective office 
to which he was eligible, that of United States Senator. But in 1902 
he did not believe he had the strength necessary to win it. If he 
was to secure the office in 1908, he would have now to put in a man 
weak enougjh to be pushed out six years later. Dawes was not such 
a man. Eventually Lorimer chose Albert J. Hopkins, a long-time 
Illinois Congressman. With Dawes and the sitting senator, William 
E. Mason, it would be a three-man race. 

Dawes' principal ally against the machine was Lawrence Y. 
Sherman, a downstate lawyer and speaker of the Illinois House of 
Representatives. In February, 1902, Dawes packed a suitcase and 
embarked on what to him was very distasteful personal campaign- 
ing. He took along the book of a Roman historian. 

"I got up early as usual, washed in ice water as usual and wiped 
my freezing face with a towel the size of a hand/' he wrote during 

io8 Portrait of an American: 

the first week of the tour. "I then made ready for the daily dive into 
the pettiness and littleness of a machine-bound Southern Illinois 
county. At Harrisburg I was met by a large committee and was 
agreeably surprised to find a lot of high-grade men in politics there. 
Perhaps my more favorable impression of them was influenced by 
their kindness to me. I am reading Tacitus in my spare time as I 

Except for such aid as he received from Sherman, Dawes waged 
a lone fight against a machine which financed itself by a "shake- 
down" assessment of Republican officeholders "It may be that I 
will go down in ruins, but I have at least helped the cause of clean 
politics in Illinois as much as any other man; for the result will be 
the adoption of new and honorable methods in party management 
in the State hereafter." 

But things were not what they had been. In the public mind, 
Dawes had become identified as a man close to President McKinley. 
"I got an inkling of things to come when my personal mail began 
to drop off after the dealt of President McKinley," Dawes recalled. 
"It was at that time well known that I would be a candidate for the 

In March Dawes noted: "Roosevelt has created the impression 
that he is against me in this fight. This, I think, he has done un- 
wittingly, for I believe he intends to be impartial." In that same 
March it became increasingly clear that the strength of Lorimer's 
candidate Hopkins was growing, while that of Dawes and the in- 
cumbent, Senator Mason, was declining correspondingly. 

How the likelihood of defeat affected Dawes 7 frame of mind can 
be seen in a diary entry of March 10: "Took train for Bloomington. 
Senator Mason and Congressman Hopkins were on the train. We 
talked over the campaign. Had hard work in suppressing my sense 
of the humorous. Some time ago Mason was hilarious and Hopkins 
gloomy now Hopkins wears a broad smile, but Mason has stopped 
brushing his hair and looks like a moulting chicken. Am endeavoring 
on my own part to maintain equilibrium." 

And three days later: 

"March 13: The gains made by our political opponents in cer- 
tain sections have created an impression that we are defeated. 
Accordingly, we are temporarily deserted if prospects improve, 


permanently if they do not. Such is politics. I am making arrange- 
ments, therefore, to light on my feet in business if the political 
tiger throws me." 

Thus, when the battle had finally been lost, Dawes could 
write with equanimity: 

"I write this on May 11. It is a record of my political de- 
feat. . . . 

"Having anticipated the outcome for a long time, my feeling 
was only one of relief. I turn again to active business life, grateful 
for the fortune which took me into politics and now takes me out. 
When I decided to become a candidate for United States Senator, 
I supposed I would have the friendship of the state administration 
and of the national administration under McKinley. I had the prom- 
ise of the support of the Sherman-Busse element of the party also. 
The assassin's bullet took away my best friend, President McKinley, 
and from that time my interest as well as my strength in politics 
declined. President Roosevelt, while endeavoring to be impartial, 
created the opposite impression, and greatly injured me. 

'While I have lost, yet my original plan was well conceived, and 
as go human projects, was wise. But none of us knows what is to 
come to us All we can do is to do our best, and with gratitude to 
Providence accept that which happens to be wisest for us. All that 
has heretofore happened to me has been for the best and I know 
that my defeat must now turn out for the best. I turn to business 
with the keen joy of a man entering from a political atmosphere to 
one where promises are redeemed and faith is kept." 

Thus, Dawes left politics. But he had vowed to destroy the 
Illinois machine, and continued to give his support to Lawrence Y. 
Sherman. How much Sherman needed Dawes' support can be gath- 
ered from an entry in Dawes* diary at the end of that year: 

"Against Sherman is being used all the state and national and 
county patronage possible," Dawes wrote. "The odds are against 
him. We are confronted in Illinois by a machine of the strength of 
Tammany. They give no quarter. They hesitate at nothing To our 
knowledge they offer cash for legislative votes. They have unlimited 
resources at present on the surface; but they are rotten inside." 

And after a few days, when Lorimer's forces had won out once 
more, Dawes added: 

no Portrait of an American: 

"Sherman met with defeat but it was a defeat which has 
strengthened him in the hearts of the people. To the public official 
public respect is the only enduring reward. This, defeat cannot take 
from some, nor victory give to others. I take off my hat to this faith- 
ful and courageous man." 

As Dawes* political prospects darkened, his business outlook 
brightened. During the winter and spring he had declined the 
presidency of a newly founded bank in St. Louis, and had consoli- 
dated his holdings in numerous gas companies. The latter trans- 
action had been profitable and, as always, not only to Dawes him- 
self, but also to his friend Banker John R. Walsh and his brothers 
Rufus and Beman Dawes. In April of 1902 he noted in his diary: 
"I am now worth, in my judgment, something over $400,000, above 
all my liabilities." 

For a man who was then barely thirty-six years old, and who 
less than ten years before had owed $200,000, yet had paid off all 
his creditors in spite of the nationwide panic, this was a satisfac- 
tory performance. It is not surprising, then, that the officers of the 
International Bank, which was being organized m New York with 
a capital of six million dollars, invited Dawes to accept the presi- 
dency and name his own salary. 

Months earlier, Charles M. Schwab, president of the United 
States Steel Corporation, I. N. Perry, a capitalist, George W. Per- 
kins, and Frank O Lowden and others had urged him to head a 
new bank and trust company in Chicago. Dawes got off the train 
from what was to prove his fortunate defeat in the Springfield Sen- 
atorial nominating convention, went to Lowden's office, and had 
Lowden draw up organization papers for a $5,000,000 trust com- 
pany to be called the Central Trust Company of Illinois. Subscrip- 
tions to the stock of this company quickly exceeded the proposed 
capital. On July 8, 1902, the new bank opened its doors with first- 
day deposits of more than four million dollars. Planned from the 
beginning to be a "big bank for small people/' it and its successors 
were to be known for more than a half century as the "Dawes 

"My blood no longer thrills to the call of political trumpets as 
in the olden days. I have learned the happiness of peaceful business 


life. The great bank which, with others, I have founded is steadily 
growing in strength and prestige. Under my feet I feel the rock 
of established business position and no longer the shifting, treach- 
erous sands of politics." 

For the next decade, Dawes was to find nearly unbroken hap- 
piness in this life which he called peaceful, but which most other 
men would have considered uncommonly active. His efforts to put 
the national currency on a basis which would allow it to weather 
a possible panic efforts he had been carrying on since 1898 con- 
tinued. Within the span of a few months, he found time to address 
the bankers' associations in eight states, although he had to decline 
invitations from five more states. In the autumn of 1903, he felt that 
he had made his first dent. 

"The American Bankers Association has pronounced in favor of 
a heavily taxed emergency currency. Thus the world 'do move.* " 

He took a growing interest in civic affairs, and among other 
things promoted a proposal which then sounded fantastic but has 
meantime become a reality: that of his friend D. H Burnham "to 
build a park on grounds at present submerged in the lake extending 
from Jackson Park to Lincoln Park, leaving a canal between the new 
park and the present shore line to be crossed at intervals by bridges/ 7 
He was, however, not gullible according to 1903 standards: '1 talked 
to Abner McKinley for a long time about his affairs/' another note 
reads. "He is determined to invest some money in a scheme to make 
artificial rubber. It is a scheme in which he thoroughly believes, but 
which seems to me must be a fraud of the first water." 

He seems to have been a consultant of many of the leading 
businessmen in Chicago. Various diary entries told of advising with 
C, H. Deere, whose company would have been the largest in a pro- 
posed amalgamation of the leading plow manufacturers into the 
proposed National Plow Company. Charles Deering consulted him 
about the details of a merger with McCormick. The plow negotia- 
tions stalled, but the amalgamation of Deering and McCormick com- 
panies into the International Harvester Company was completed. 
There were entries of discussions with Judge E. H. Gary of the 
United States Steel Corporation and James J. Hill, the railroad 
builder. The young president of the Central Trust Company was 
moving into the top financial circles of the nation. 

112 Portrait of an American: 

Dawes went to New York to discuss currency reform with J, 
Pierpont Morgan and found that he and the great financier were on 
the same side of the issue: "Morgan's face is one of the strongest I 
have ever seen. His hair is iron-gray, and his big moustache coal 
black. He looked straight at me with the most piercing eyes I ever 
saw, except perhaps those of President McKinley. He is a fascinating 

"Morgan very calmly told me how he kept John W. Gates from 
acquiring control of the Louisville & Nashville railroad. 1 did it 
because Gates was interested in profits and not in the proper opera- 
tion of the railroad. A man interested only in profits is a dangerous 
factor anywhere in the railroad world/ " 

Dawes scrupulously avoided Washington. Mark Hanna had 
been victorious in his fight for the Panama Canal. In June, 1903, 
both Senate and House completed action on it and Roosevelt signed 
it Dawes had a part in getting Hanna interested at a time when it 
appeared that the Nicaraguan route would be chosen. Sir Edwin 
Dawes, who lived at the Dawes ancestral home, Faversham, in 1901 
wrote a letter of introduction to Comptroller Dawes and handed it 
to his business associate, Captain Phillipe Bunau-Varilla, formerly 
engineer-in-chief of the unfinished Panama Canal, who was coming 
to the United States to urge the practicability of that route. 

Dawes introduced Bunau-Varilla to President McKinley and to 
Senator Hanna. Hanna invited the Frenchman to come to see him: 
"I shall always be glad to talk to you about the greatest question of 
the day, the Isthmian Canal." 

Bunau-Varilla's arguments were convincing and Hanna was 
soon arguing so strongly for the Panama route that its enemies 
called it the "Hannama" Canal 

But in his hour of triumph, Hanna was lonely in Washington. 
Of all the original McKinley crowd only he remained in the national 
capital. He wrote to Dawes : 

"Dear Charlie: I was glad to get your kind letter. It seems like 
a breath of fresh air to get words like yours from one of the *old 
guard/ I want to congratulate you, Charlie, upon your splendid 
business enterprise which I am sure you will make a great success.* 7 

Henry C. Payne of Wisconsin, a confidant of Hanna, visited him 
in Washington, and the next day Dawes made this diary entry: 


"I had lunch with* Henry Payne. He predicts trouble between 
Roosevelt and Hanna." 

For a short time yet, Dawes, lover of horses, was to resist the 
new means of transportation which was catching the fancy of the 
nation. For his first contacts with it were unfortunate. 

"October 2,2* Charles Deering called with his automobile to 
take me to Evanston. We had a strenuous ride when the machine 
would go at all. It broke down at Washington and Monroe streets 
and there for half an hour we were surrounded by a curious crowd. 
Finally when we did go the chauffeur seemed crazy to make speed 
The experience was calculated to wreck the nervous system. We 
broke down twice before reaching Evanston We went to Deering's 
house but rode home behind horses, declining further association 
with the automobile." 

And: "In Philadelphia Lawrence McCormick took Caro, Knowl- 
ton Ames, and me out riding in his automobile. After a number of 
escapes, more or less narrow, we finally broke down in Fairmont 
Park and after installing the machine in an adjacent stable we went 
home in the street cars much to my mental and nervous relief/' 

It was not until a year later that Dawes would buy his first 

His house, of course, was always open to his friends. There are 
notes of a dinner he gave to Captain John J. Pershing who had re- 
turned to the United States after making a name for himself in the 
campaign against the Moros. And another entry tells of a visit to 
William Jennings Bryan at Lincoln. "With M. M. Kirkman and S. H 
Burnham I called on William J. Bryan at his country home. Bryan 
greeted us cordially and took us over his new home. He says the 
newspapers exaggerate everything he does. He said that the publi- 
cized $2,500 mantel cost $150 one-half of that in advertising in the 
Commoner and the $1,500 team of horses really cost him $600 One 
of the latter fell down in his stall while we were there and at the 
call for aid we all adjourned to the stable where the horse was soon 

There are also numerous other entries in Dawes' diary, in a very 
different vein. One of them tells of a short visit to New York City: 

ii4 Portrait of an American: 

"Alexander H. Revell, Max Pam, Gus Hdnna, and I had dinner 
and afterward went to the opera. After that Gus took us to the 
Beaux Arts, a restaurant of extremely high prices and filled with 
theatrical people as patrons. A fine quartet sang and the scene was 
an animated one. 

"It was midnight when we started out to drive to the hotel 
Noticing one or two tramps sleeping on the seats in the park in the 
rain, they got on my mind and after going to bed at the Waldorf I 
decided to get up and look them up. I drove back in a cab and got 
the park policeman to accompany me Instead of the three or four 
whom I had happened to see, I found about thirty in the park, all 
but one of whom I am happy to say I was able to provide with 
enough for lodging and breakfast. I went back to bed some time in 
the early morning. I was much impressed by one poor unfortunate 
man who was sleeping in the rain upon a park seat and who, when 
he was awakened with a proffer of help, said that he could not 
consent to take it and that he would find work the next day. Nor 
could I though I begged him to do it get him to accept help. I 
'uncovered/ so to speak, before this noble man and bade him 'God- 
speed.' " 

As the year 1903 drew to a close, Dawes bade it farewell with 
the words: 

"My life seems smoother than for many years. It is no longer 
full of distractions or anxieties, but for that matter I have never 
allowed myself under any circumstances to worry greatly about the 
matter of business or politics. I have been able to help many by the 
wayside during the past year, and hope to be able to help many 
more in the future. In that is one of life's greatest compensations/' 

The opportunity to help for which he was hoping was not far 

In April, 1903, Theodore Roosevelt had come to Chicago to 
deliver his celebrated speech on the Monroe Doctrine. Dawes, who 
thought this speech "quite the best address he has delivered since 
he became President/' took the occasion to record his impressions. 
They add up to a revealing pen portrait of the President 

"Not being a part of this Administration and, therefore, not 


harassed by the sycophants and other visitors, as used to be the case 
when I accompanied President McKmley, I watched the proceed- 
ings in his suite with both interest and amusement. Roosevelt met 
his callers often with an apparently affectionate enthusiasm which 
seemed for the moment greatly to please and inspire them. At the 
first greetings the face of the caller beamed with mingled gratitude 
and hope. After taking his seat, however, and watching for a time 
the continual flow of the same affectionate enthusiasm on the part of 
the President toward others, the face of the caller with ambition 
becomes more thoughtful and finally a shade of sadness appears 

"I confess to some feeling of pride when the President deemed 
my advice of some consequence. But, when upon meeting Secretary 
Shaw, I discovered a number of others bearing their burdens of 
advice upon similar Presidential instigation, and, greatly impressed 
with their burden's weight, the humor of the situation became a 
source of enjoyment. Having no ax to grind myself, the defectiveness 
of the Presidential grindstone did not cause me the anxiety which I 
thought I detected on the face of my friend H. H. Kohlsaat, and 
some other cocallers with advice for Secretary Shaw. In the Presi- 
dent's room, as fast as people came they were invited to stay and 
take tea. I noticed that Senator Hopkins and Kohlsaat, like myself, 
probably fearing that the tea supply might prove to be deficient, 
early joined the procession of those giving advice to Shaw who was 
at the tune at a room in the old Auditorium Hotel. 

"I have a great admiration for Roosevelt. All that happened 
really increased my respect for him. His hearty greetings are simply 
the natural result of his own good spirits and splendid vitality. But 
while his greetings express only what he feels, yet what he feels is 
not that which the stranger or casual acquaintance would infer from 
his manner. He is too robust in his nature not to confuse one at first 
in the attempt accurately to judge of his real feelings by his action. 
He has no blind side. He has no sense of reverence, so to speak. He 
is fair in his dealings and just in his decisions when he has heard 
both sides. He has no sense of fear or inherent love of peace. He 
seeks to wield power not to avoid wielding it. He apparently loves 
everybody and nobody both at once everything and everybody 
being subordinated to his desire to keep the approbation of the pub- 
licnot simply for the sake of that approbation but for the sake of 

n6 Portrait of an American: 

that rightdoing as well, which brings it. He is a good President but 
not as great as McKinley. While he has the same strength of purpose 
as McKinley had, he has not the power of self-control and self- 
conquering that McKinley had. And then his strength is not tem- 
pered, as was that of McKinley, by the real tenderness of heart and 
kindness of instinct which characterized McKinley's smallest 

Neither Dawes nor his audience gave at the time much notice 
to a portion of the speech which became the most famous of any 
attached to T. R/s name. It was something to which even Roosevelt 
made no claim to authorship 

"There is/' Roosevelt said, "a homely adage which runs: 'Speak 
softly and carry a big stick, you will go far.* If the American nation 
will speak softly and yet build and keep at the highest pitch of train- 
ing a thoroughly efficient navy, the Monroe Doctrine will go far. I 
ask you to think this over." 

Cartoonists leaped to their drawing boards to draw Teddy and 
the Big Stick. He was implored to get out his Big Stick against 
enemies, foreign and domestic. No one long remembered any of the 
balance of his speech. 

The subject most discussed by Republicans as the 1904 Presi- 
dential contest approached was the relationship of Roosevelt and 
Hanna. Dawes of all men was the most competent to give testimony 
on that Dawes heard their feelings from the lips of each. He talked 
to Hanna twenty-four days before his death, and the next day after 
he saw Roosevelt, and immediately wrote a synopsis of his talks with 
each of them. 

Mr. and Mrs. Dawes had arrived in Washington on January 17, 
1904. It was their first return to the national capital since October, 
1901, just after McKinley's death. Hanna was not in town on the 
cold January day of their return. Only the day before he had been 
re-elected Senator by the legislature of Ohio, receiving the largest 
majority ever given a Senator in Ohio. The afternoon newspapers 
carried dispatches that Lieutenant Governor Warren G. Harding 
had brought Hanna before a joint session of the legislature after the 
balloting, to receive an ovation from the Ohio lawmakers. 

Hanna came back from Ohio on January 19 and Dawes went to 


the Hanna suite at the Arlington for an hour's talk. For a man who 
had just won an overwhelming re-election, Hanna seemed strangely 
depressed. He said that he would be national chairman through the 
June Republican national convention and expected to exercise all the 
authority and prerogatives of that position. 

"I told him/' D^wes wrote in a journal entry made that day, 
"that I hoped he would not make the mistake James G. Elaine made 
when he became a defeated eleventh-hour candidate against Ben- 
jamin Harrison. Hanna said he did not intend to become a candidate. 
He was very bitter against Roosevelt, called him untruthful. 

"Hanna said he had refused to become a candidate despite the 
solicitation of J. P. Morgan, George F. Baker, J J. Hill, and other 
magnates whom he named, but he had promised them that he would 
not advocate the nomination of Roosevelt before the convention, 
thus giving them the opportunity to endeavor to get another candi- 

"Hanna said he did not think Roosevelt could be defeated for 
the nomination. 

"Morgan and Hill, Hanna told me, threatened to support a 
Democrat against Roosevelt if he was nominated, provided the Dem- 
ocrat was not a too radical socialist or Bryanite. Hanna was emphatic 
that he would not head the National Committee for the next cam- 
paign. He said that if he did and won, Roosevelt would claim all 
credit, and if he lost, Roosevelt would accord him all the blame." 
Next day: 

"While Mrs. Dawes remained with Mrs. Roosevelt, I had a long 
talk with the President," Dawes wrote. "Roosevelt spoke with his 
customary frankness. I did not seek his confidences but he gave 
them freely. He talked about his renomination chiefly. 

"Roosevelt said that on the porch at Senator Hanna's house at 
Cleveland, at the tune of his daughter Ruth's wedding, Hanna had 
promised to support him for renomination and that they both re- 
garded it in the nature of a contract for cooperation along that line. 
Now he said that as convention time approached Hanna receded 
instead of advanced that he (Roosevelt) did not care so much so 
far as the general situation was concerned, although he recognized 
the fact that the negative attitude of Hanna gave some sort of a 
nucleus for his enemies in the party to gather around. 

n8 Portrait of an American: 

"That did not trouble him so much, Roosevelt said, as the fact 
that Hanna's attitude in Ohio seemed to force him into an alliance 
with Joseph B. Foraker in Hanna's own state against him." 

On the trip, Dawes noted, Fairbanks had told him he wanted to 
run for Vice-President with Roosevelt. Bevendge wanted to be the 
1904 keynoter: "As in the olden days Albert gonfided all his plans 
and aspirations for the Presidency for which he expects to be a 
candidate in 1908." 

Dawes told no one what Hanna and Roosevelt had said to him. 
Into his diary he wrote: 

"While our whole trip was enjoyable, I realized after it all the 
more that I was through with politics, and that my ambitions and 
associations were permanently changed. A short visit to Washington 
is enough for me. The air is one of intrigue and striving and change 
To have listened to the comments of Roosevelt on Hanna and Hanna 
on Roosevelt; of Beveridge on Fairbanks and Fairbanks on Bev- 
eridge, and of Cortelyou and Justice Day on the whole situation is 
to have heard a great* deal of comprehensive and epigrammatic 

On the night of January 30 Senator Hanna attended the winter 
dinner of the Gridiron Club. He had always been that newspaper 
club's favorite guest and now, as the possessor of another six-year 
term in the Senate, he got a great ovation. In an affectionate mood 
the Club's quartette sang his favorite, "The Song That Touched My 

On the following day, a Sunday, Hanna took to bed A typhoid 
epidemic was raging in Columbus during the ten days he had spent 
there, and Hanna had contracted the fever. 

In the hushed lobby of the Arlington some of the nation's best- 
known men waited for news from the Hanna suite upstairs. Theo- 
dore Roosevelt called daily at the hotel. Ten thousand miles away 
the first blows of the Russo-Japanese war were being struck. The 
Slavs and the Nipponese traded punches on the Yalu River and the 
Russians retreated from Seoul as the Japanese came ashore at 
Inchon. Forty miles away in Baltimore raged a $150,000,000 fire, the 
second greatest holocaust in the nation's history. But nothing took 
the attention of the political world from the darkened bedroom in 
the Arlington where Hanna lay in a coma, conscious only at inter- 


vals At times his pulse was so feeble that it was hardly detectable. 
In all the lurid lexicon of vituperation there was scarcely an epithet 
which Hanna had escaped. But by now he had lived to be one of 
the best-loved and most highly esteemed men in American public 

Just before seven o'clock Monday evening, February 15, Mark 
Hanna died. In the hushed lobby below, the famous Dr. William 
Osier announced: 

"The end was peaceful The Senator died as a child goes to 
sleep.' 7 

Notification of Hanna's death came to Dawes in a telegram from 
Elmer Dover, the Senator's secretary. In the library at his Evanston 
home that night, Dawes wrote his evaluation of the businessman 
turned statesman: 

"February 15. I received a telegram from Dover saying that 
Senator Hanna died at 6:40 P M. I went to the telegraph office and 
sent a message of condolence. 

"Thus ends the life of one of the greatest political organizers 
probably the greatest this country has ever had. For many years I 
was in close contact with Hanna and enjoyed his confidence. He was 
aggressive and masterful save with McKinley, to whom Hanna 
owed his success in chief part. And yet the services Hanna rendered 
McKinley were well-nigh indispensable Hanna was sincere and 
frank above all things. He hated hypocrisy. His political standards 
were not as high as McKinley's but what they were, he never apol- 
ogized for them. In his later life he sought in an unusual degree to 
be useful to the public in the settlement of industrial disputes, and 
he rendered most signal service in the settlement of labor troubles. 
He was a kindly, generous man. He was always natural and always 
helpful and intensely loyal to his associates. He was often indiscreet 
when acting under impulse, but seldom unwise in any of his matured 

"He was so approachable and so sympathetic that he possessed 
an army of friends who felt a deep attachment for him. Whfen Hanna 
once gave his friendship, he seemed unable to believe that friend 
capable of wrongdoing. This often led him into embarrassing con- 
tests for unworthy men; but so great was the public confidence in 

Portrait of an American: 

the rectitude of his intentions that such contests did not seem to 
injure his standing, but rather to aid it. 

"In his relations to McKinley, in which, as intermediary when 
campaigns were on and Hanna was at a distance, I was at times 
intimately involved, he was always a loyal and faithful ally. At times 
he would complain to me bitterly of McKinley who was always 
unwilling to allow the Government's attitude upon any essential 
matter of department business to be affected by political considera- 
tions, but notwithstanding his disappointment at what he termed 
McKmley's lack of cooperation, he would always faithfully labor 
away to do the best he could under the circumstances. 

"Hanna was personally scrupulously honest As the man, how- 
ever, who raised the campaign funds in 1896 and 1900, he felt it his 
duty when contributors appealed to him for assistance in the matter 
of contracts, etc to do what he could for them. This never led him 
to my knowledge to ask anything which he believed was unfair or 
wrongbut it was a most harassing burden which he had to bear 
His growth in public esteem was wonderful and his career demon- 
strated the value to a public man of unjust abuse. The reaction came, 
and vindicated him, as it always will in similar cases. 

"All in all, he was a great man and his death is to be regretted 
as a national loss. He was a most useful Senator. He was largely 
responsible for the change in the public attitude in favor of the 
Panama, as against the Nicaragua route He was eminently practical 
in his public services. Had he lived longer he would have been still 
more conspicuous in his public usefulness for Hanna had a sincere 
desire to be helpful. Peace be with hunl" 

Dawes went to Cleveland for the final funeral service: 

"The services were most impressive. Great crowds lined the 
street There were many evidences of sincere grief from every 
source, save in the Hollenden Hotel, where crowds of ghoulish poli- 
ticians fought and talked the livelong day over the open grave of 
the great leader." 

The peace meeting between Roosevelt and Hanna, for which 
Dawes had hoped so ardently, had never come. But there was the 
note which Hanna had sent to Roosevelt from his sickbed, on Febru- 
ary 5: "You touched a tender spot, old man, when you personally 

i Charles G Dawes as a schoolboy m 
Marietta, Ohio 

2 Charles G Dawes as a student in law 
school in Cincinnati 

The General Rufus R Dawes home in Marietta, Ohio, birthplace of Charles G Dawes 

4. Portrait of Mrs Charles G Dawes painted in London in 
by John St Helier Lander. 

5 The six child) en of Rufus R and Mary Gates Dawes left to nght (in front) Bessie 
(Mrs Hany IJoyt) and Mary Frances (Mrs Arthur G Beach), Rufus C, Beman G, 
Henry M , Charles G 

6 Meeting of the Allied Supply Board at their headquarters, Combest, December 15, 
left to right General Merrone, representing Italian Army in France, General Dawes, n 
senting American Army, General Payot, chairman, representing French Army, Ge\ 
Ford, representing English Army, Major Cumont r representing Belgian Army. 

7 Allied Supply Board m meeting Generals Dawes, Ford, Payot, Merrone Other mem- 
bers unidentified 

8 Generah John J Pcrshing, diaries G Dawet, and James G Harbord 

c) John T McCutcheon's cartoon (January 31, 1939) m the 

Chicago Tnbune of "The Three Musketeers'" Generals Dawes, 

Pershing, and Harlord 

10 Reparation*, experts arriving in New York on the SS Leviathan, left to right 
Owen D Young, General Dawes> and Henry M Robinson 

u August 7, 1927, dedication of the Peace Bndgc at Buffalo, New YorJl, wheie General 
Dawes delivered the pnntipal address General Daiucs, on the Amcncan sff/e, reaching 
across the nbbon to s/mfce the hand of the Pnnce of Wales, future King Edwaid VIII 

12 June 3i, 1927, Captain Charles A Lindbergh returning from fint nonstop flight from 

New York to fans, k welcomed as a colonel hij President Coohdgc and Vice-Prewlent 

Dawes, Washington, D C 

13 Dawes and Secretary of State Shmson take their seats pr&paratonj to affixing their 

signatures to the 1930 London Naval Agreement 

14 The Vice-President and Speaker Nicholas Longworth begin the canvass of the Electoral 
College results which showed the victory of Herbert Hoover over Alfred E Smith m 1928 

presidential campaign 

15 Dawes leaving the White Howe aftei 
accepting his last appointment to public 
office the president) of the Reconsh no- 
tion Finance Corporation in 


Piesident Herbert Hoover and Am- 
baswdoi Chailes G Daue<t 

17 Ambassador Charles G Dawes and 
Prime Minuter J Ramsay MacDonald 

i S Dawe? making /izv "Helen Matid 

1 f-t T 


came to see me early this morning/' And Roosevelt had replied in 
the same vein. Perhaps no more was needed. 

The Republican caravan moved into Chicago in mid- June of 
1904, with the nomination of Theodore Roosevelt for President and 
Charles W. Fairbanks for Vice-President assured in advance. Henry 
Cabot Lodge brought the main platform planks which had been 
drafted in Washington by Roosevelt and himself. There was to be 
no employment other than ratification for the more than one thou- 
sand convention delegates. 

But if the lot of the delegates was a tranquil one, such was not 
the case in the party hierarchy the Republican National Commit- 
tee. Behind the scenes, a bitter battle was being fought over the 
question who would succeed Hanna as chairman of the National 
Committee. President Roosevelt had selected Cortelyou, but when 
Dawes arrived on the scene, he found the bulk of the Committee in 
open revolt against this selection. Dawes informed the President by 
telegram of the situation and received the characteristic telegram 
in return: 

"Explain to the opposition that if I am to run as President then 
Cortelyou is to be chairman of the National Committee, and that 
opposition to him is simply disloyalty to the Republican Party and 
covert assistance to the Democrats " 

Dawes pocketed the bristling telegram. "Since the backbone of 
the opposition was in my judgment broken and the effect of the tele- 
gram would be to reinspire opposition, I did not show it save to one 
or two of the loyal friends." 

A few days later: 

"Cortelyou will be chosen and given full power Cortelyou's 
selection marks the final transition from the rotten conditions of 
management as it was before Hanna's day to an absolutely clean 
basis. Hanna was distinctly an improver of conditions. Cortelyou 
will further perfect them since he will even more strenuously than 
Hanna insist upon clean methods of campaigning." 

There were just a few commitments before Dawes could leave 
the political scene. He rendered what aid he could to his friend 
Graeme Stewart in a close but losing race for mayor of Chicago 
against Democrat Carter H. Harrison. Harrison's razor-thin edge 

122 Portrait of an American: 

came from West Side wards controlled by Billy Lorimer. It did not 
suit Lorimer to have in City Hall a Republican who might give him 

The 1904 Republican gubernatorial situation was complicated 
for Dawes by the entry of three of his close friends, Frank O. 
Lowden, Charles S. Deneen, and Lawrence Y. Sherman against the 
Lorimer-backed incumbent Yates. In a record-setting seventy-nine- 
ballot convention, Deneen was nominated. 

At Roosevelt's request Dawes acted as trustee and supervised 
the spending of all funds for the Republican campaign in the West. 
Dawes saw Roosevelt just once during the campaign. The others 
present were Cornelius N. Bliss, treasurer of the National Commit- 
tee, and Cortelyou. 

"Roosevelt discussed things in his usual robust way/* Dawes 
recorded. "Said he wanted publicity of campaign funds. Bliss told 
him he could not get contributions if he made the names of the 
donors public. Roosevelt said that at this stage of the game he sup- 
posed we needed contributions worse than publicity/ That settled 
The campaign which returned Theodore Roosevelt to the White 
House, waged at a cost little in excess of two million dollars, yielded 
three hundred and thirty-six electoral votes for the Republican can- 
didate, and a popular majority in excess of two and a half million. 
Closing his Chicago headquarters, Dawes noted: 

"The returns were so one-sided that they were received quietly 
at Republican headquarters. I received word of Beman's election to 
Congress in Ohio. Deneen's majority in Illinois was about 200,000 
Chicago went Republican by a tremendous majority. This victory 
against a Democratic party controlled by conservatives indicates 
coming contests by the Republicans with Democracy controlled by 
radicals. It means the removal of the center of coming political 
controversies to the West." 

Chapter Nine 


W ithout in any way diminishuig his fight for currency re- 
form, Dawes in 1905 became the most articulate private citizen in 
the nation on another very live issue antitrust legislation. 

The Sherman Antitrust Act was loosely drawn and vague in its 
definitions. In the decade and a half it had been on the statute books 
it had failed almost completely to check or even retard the combina- 
tion of industrial concerns aiming at the establishment of monopoly 

President McKinley, in his message to Congress of 1899, had 
urged the lawmakers to correct the increasingly intolerable situation. 

"There must be a remedy for the evils involved in such organi- 
zations/' the President had said. "If the present law can be extended 
more certainly to control or check these monopolies or trusts, it 
should be done without delay. Whatever power the Congress pos- 
sesses over this important subject should be promptly ascertained 
and asserted/' 

But no action was taken during the short time the national legis- 
lature was in session before President McKinley's death. Nor had the 
subject received any attention during the nearly four years of 
McKinley's second term which Theodore Roosevelt completed. 

Early in 1905 Dawes published in the Saturday Evening Post 
an article asking for antitrust legislation. He followed up with an- 
other article in the North American Review, and with a number of 
public speeches. 

Dawes contended that if the Sherman Antitrust Act "is to be 
useful hereafter, it must be made to define what kinds of agreements 


124 Portrait of an American: 

are illegal/' As the main objections to the law in its present form 
Dawes mentioned the fact that "its principal section makes criminal, 
without further definition, an agreement in restraint of trade It 
leaves to judicial determination the definition of the crime, and it 
has not yet been defined, but will be defined only as each case arises 
The business community, therefore, is left in doubt as to what con- 
stitutes a crime under the law. 

"Being indefinite in its definition of the crime, and introducing 
into business an element of doubt and uncertainty as to trade agree- 
ments, it operates to the disadvantage of the scrupulous businessman 
and in favor of the unscrupulous one. 

"The enforcement of this law giving, necessarily, through its 
general terms, such wide latitude and discretion to executive officers 
in their right to proceed against corporations and individuals is 
bound to create the appearance at least of favoritism in its applica- 
tion, and to result in lack of uniformity in the treatment of cases 
arising under it. 

"The Sherman Antitrust Act is today encouraging the crushing 
out of competition, and is encouraging the formation of larger cor- 
porations all the time, because they can legally do by consolidation 
what they cannot legally do as separate corporations through a trade 

Even while Dawes was advocating the clarification and 
strengthening of the antitrust laws, Theodore Roosevelt decided to 
revive and enforce the Sherman Act. He requested the Department 
of Justice to obtain injunctions under the Act against a number of 
corporations, among them Chicago meat packers, in an effort "to 
prevent combinations to raise prices.** 

Since the Sherman Act had long gone unenf orced, it was under- 
stood that there would be no criminal prosecutions for prior viola- 
tions. The injunction served merely to put the packers on notice that 
there would be prosecution if the injunction were to be disobeyed. 

In October, 1904, James R. Garfield, commissioner of corpora- 
tions in the Department of Commerce and Labor, called on the Chi- 
cago packers for their books. Skeptical of the purpose for which the 
books were wanted, a committee of packers, headed by Ogden 
Armour, went to Dawes for advice. 


"Have you lived up to the terms of your injunction?" Dawes 

"We issued the strictest order to our employees to carry out the 
terms of the injunction and we have seen that it is done/' Armour 

"Then let the government have your books, but if you want re- 
assurance I'll ask Garfield about the purposes for which they are to 
be used/* Dawes said. 

"Garfield assured me the information was only for a cost study 
by his department, and that the information obtained would be 
used only by it/' Dawes noted. "The packers then turned over the 
books. Later the packers came to me and alleged that contrary to 
the agreement the Department of Justice had gained possession of 
the data. If it had been a matter between the Department of Justice 
and the packers when I was first appnsed of it, I would have had 
nothing to do with it, but as the intermediary between Garfield and 
the packers, I was m a sense held responsible. I agreed to go to 
Washington and make inquiries about the matter." 

On October 20, another entry: 

"I went to the Department of Commerce where I talked to Sec- 
retary Metcalf and Commissioner Garfield The Department of 
Commerce people denied strenuously that the information had been 
misused. I went to the White House where I saw the President who 
sent for Moody, the Attorney General. Moody also denied that the 
Department of Commerce had furnished him the information, stat- 
mg that he was making this independent investigation to ascertain 
whether the injunction against combination by the packers to raise 
prices was being violated. I was satisfied that both Metcalf and 
Moody told the truth. The President kept me for lunch." 

In midwinter the District Attorney's office in Chicago an- 
nounced that an effort would be made to indict the packers for viola- 
tions of the law committed prior to the injunction imposed by 
Federal Judge Peter S Grosscup. 

Indignant, Dawes went back to the White House on March 7, 
1905. He arrived in Washington at the end of the three days of 
festivities attendant on the inauguration of Roosevelt and Fairbanks. 

"Presidential Secretary Loeb called me at the residence of Jus- 
tice Day where I was staying and told me to be at the White House 

126 Portrait of an American: 

at 12:30," Dawes wrote "Upon reaching there I found that the Presi- 
dent had decided, at the Cabinet meeting just finished, to go to the 
funeral of Senator William M. Bate of Tennessee, and was making 
his preparations. I was, therefore, taken to him as he was stretched 
out in his barber's chair. That was the best possible way I could 
have found him if I was to make a consecutive statement. In his own 
office it was Roosevelt's habit to do most of the talking. I was also 
aided by the fact that the barber was old and very slow. 

"The President had greeted me so cordially that I began with a 
conciliatory statement. I said: 'Mr. President, you have taught your 
friends when they have complaints to make or cases to state to come 
to you for a square deal. I want to say to start with that I do not 
come here as a critic of anything which has been done thus far in 
this case, but of what the District Attorney's office at Chicago says 
it may do. If I speak strongly it is with the expectation that speaking 
with justice, I shall receive justice * 

"Roosevelt sat up straight in his chair and said; 

" 'You are always honest and I want to hear what you have to 

"I talked with all the force I could command and at intervals he 
sat up, with the lather on his face. I said: 

"*At my former interview with you and Attorney General 
Moody, you outlined to me your policy in regard to the reforms you 
hoped to inaugurate under the Sherman Antitrust law, and your 
method of accomplishing them I understood from that interview: 
first, that you would not as a policy seek to secure industrial reform 
by the humiliation of individuals through indictments under the 
Sherman Antitrust law which for over ten years has been a dead 
letter on the statute books, and that you would proceed by injunc- 
tion against the corporations to improve industrial conditions; 
second, that you had with the fullest deliberation proceeded against 
the packers in an injunction suit, which, being successful, amounts 
to a restatement in a concrete way of the Sherman kw; that this 
action constitutes fair notice to the packers that if after this injunc- 
tion there are violations of it, and of the Sherman Antitrust law, 
then they would be subject to indictment and arrest for such 

" "With this understanding I went away. My friends among the 


packers had already issued to their employees the strictest orders to 
obey this injunction. They tell me it has been obeyed. I believe them. 

" 'But, however that may be, the District Attorney's office at 
Chicago now publicly announces that it will indict the packers for 
violation of the Sherman Antitrust law antedating the injunction, 
and that they will not limit their investigation to alleged violations 
of the injunction. 

" 'Now I come here demanding equal administration of the law 
that enforcement of the law shall be uniform. That I have a right 
to demand/ 

"The President again sat up straight in his chair and interjected: 
Tou have a right to that, you shalT receive it!* Well then/ I said, 
1 demand that along with the effort to indict the packers of the West 
for improved offenses against the Sherman Antitrust law, you now 
proceed to indict James J. Hill and J. Pierpont Morgan and the 
officers of the Northern Securities Company for their proved infrac- 
tion of that law in the already adjudicated Northern Securities case. 

" 'Garfield's report shows that the packers make about two per 
cent on their gross business, and I have just read in the Philadelphia 
Record that if they do $800,000,000 per year business then the 
$16,000,000 profit is too large. And yet the United States Steel Cor- 
poration, with its advertised billet pool in existence, made last year 
about $50,000,000 on a gross business of about $440,000,000. Why 
is there to be one rule for the East and another for the West? Or is 
there but one rule? I believe that whatever policy you eventually 
pursue will be a fair policy but I warn you that your subordinates in 
office may create policies and problems for you before they have 
your personal consideration. 

" In every city there are retailers* poolson sugar, on ice, on 
meaton almost every commodity formed for mutual protection 
and for arranging what might be called the rules of the trade. The 
men in these pools are not all scoundrels. They seek to avoid a com- 
petition that may absolutely destroy them. Most of the evils of which 
the country complains are the outgrowth of unrestrained and un- 
regulated competition. A large corporation will sell below cost in 
a particular locality in order to destroy the local competitor, and thus 
enable it later to exercise a monopoly/ 

"The President at this point rubbed the lather off his face and 

128 Portrait of an American: 

sprang out of the chair. We went back to his office. He said to me 
T)awes, I want you to go down to the Department of Justice and 
make that speech to them. The Attorney General is in Virginia, but 
Hoyt, the Solicitor General, is at the Department. I have to be pretty 
careful in what I say, but I want you to know that I give great 
weight to what you have said/ He asked me to remain for lunch with 
him the next day, but I had to leave that afternoon/' 

Back in Chicago, Dawes told Armour and P. A. Valentine about 
the White House conversation. 

"Armour is very much alarmed and worried over the matter/' 
Dawes wrote. "He said to me in the most dejected tones. 

" 'Dawes, I am living and recently have been living the darkest 
hours of my life I believe the intention is to indict the packers 
Everyone eats meat and a suit against the packers would be politi- 
cally popular. Roosevelt wants popularity. I am an accident in this 
business which I inherited from my father who was a great leader. 
I am not a criminal and if I am indicted as a lawbreaker it will be a 
great grief to me and my family. 

"1 have endeavored strictly to obey the injunction. I have 
wanted to obey the laws always All my life I have tried to be a good 
citizen. I have in this world only my mother, my wife, and my daugh- 
ter. If I left my business to my little girl it would be a curse to her. 
I have felt almost as if I would like to quit the worry and stress of 
business life and sell out Yet I have a sense of duty to the men who 
have grown up with the business and who would lose their places 
that has led me to abandon the plan. I have long since lost the desire 
for money and I feel I have few friends/ 

"While Armour was speaking he was so much agitated at times 
that I thought how different a man he really was from the man he is 
painted in the press. As I grow older, I realize more and more that 
there are more than two sides to every question there are two sides 
to every view. I hope I may be just. I can see, too, as I grow older, 
how great is the influence of environment on one's mind. In my 
younger days I was a radical in many ways I wonder sometimes 
whether my views are changing because I am coming really into 
larger knowledge of men and affairs, and the underlying conditions 
of life. 


"This I am coming to see: There is too little charity in the world, 
too little sympathy for the weak and suffering, too little of the 
giving to others. But I do not find the givers among the critics of 
conditions or of men. Nor do I find the critic much different from 
other men, save in his complaining. I know the world is getting 
better, but it is a slow growth. The altruistic spirit is growing, but 
the selfishness of men and the intolerance of men are barriers which 
for ages have endured and will/' 

Dawes went to Washington once again on June 5. He had 
another talk with Roosevelt on the proposition of indicting the pack- 
ers for infraction of the Sherman Act, and recorded: 

"The President stated that Attorney General Moody and Dis- 
trict Attorney Morrison at Chicago claimed that the spirit at least of 
the injunction has been violated, and that if there was a case they 
would indict. Contrary to his policy heretofore of proceeding against 
the corporations, Roosevelt is determined to proceed against the 
person of the packers. I am firmly convinced that the packers have 
not violated the spirit of the injunction, and I so told him. If they 
have, I have been deceived by men in whom I trusted. I do not 
believe it, and I stated my belief in strong words. The President 
promised to reopen the discussion with Moody and District Attorney 
Morrison of Chicago, who is in the city, the next day." 

On July i, less than a month after Dawes' second visit to Roose- 
velt, an indictment was returned by the Grand Jury of the Northern 
District of Illinois Federal Court, charging the packers with "con- 
spiring in restraint of trade and commerce among the states and with 
foreign nations, and with an attempt to monopolize such trade and 
commerce, in violation of the Antitrust Act." 

On March 21, 1906, Judge J. Otis Humphrey held that the 
record showed that the information obtained by Garfield from the 
packers "was demanded by the Department of Justice for the pur- 
pose of this prosecution, and that Garfield declined to give it, as he 
had promised the defendants it would not be so used; that later, 
upon repeated demands of the Department of Justice, and upon the 
order of the President, he turned it over to that department. It is 
contended that as to all such evidence the defendants are entitled 
to iimnunity, and I am of the opinion that they are so entitled. The 

130 Portrait of an American: 

immunity pleas filed by the defendants will be sustained as to the 
individual defendants, the natural persons, and denied as to the 
corporations, the artificial persons, and the verdict will be in favor 
of the defendants as to individuals, and in favor of the government 
as to the corporations/* 

Dawes had hoped that Roosevelt "with his great popularity will, 
before this period of general interest in corporation matters is 
passed, take leadership in having Congress perfect this law and by 
clearer definitions make it enforceable. Any agreement for the pur- 
pose of extorting an unreasonable price ought to be put under the 
ban of the law. The American businessman wants the law clarified 
so that he can pursue his business without the fear of molestation 
and criminal prosecution when he is not a criminal 

"As a matter of experience we know in this country no law is 
tolerable if enforced, or useful if unenforced, which designates good 
and bad acts alike as criminal. You don't put the whole community 
in the pest house because some members of it have the smallpox." 

There had been, Dawes soon asserted, an appearance of favorit- 
ism in the cases instituted by the Department of Justice. 

"In the Northern Securities case/' he said in an address before 
the Conference of the National Civic Federation, "a limited action 
was taken against the corporation only, and no attempt was made to 
hold the officers criminally. In the case against the packers, the effort 
was made to hold them criminally liable. In this latter case, the Gov- 
ernment found itself in the attitude of announcing through one 
department, Commerce and Labor, after a thorough investigation, 
that the business was not a monopoly and that its profits were rea- 
sonable, and of seeking at the same time, through another depart- 
ment, Justice, to put its owners in jail as public malefactors. 

"The Northern Securities case was so presented to the courts 
that the reinstatement of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Rail- 
road as a competitor of the Northern Pacific and Great Northern 
Railways was not involved in the decree. As a consequence, when 
the Northern Securities Company was dissolved by the decision, the 
same interests remained in control of the railway situation in the 
Northwest. They had that control, represented by two separate stock 
certificates instead of one single Northern Securities stock certificate 


as formerly. No patron of the Great Northern or the Northern Pacific 
knows, except as a matter of history, that the government won its 
great antimerger decision. 

"The proper remedy should have been sought in an effort to 
restore the old condition of competition, not in changing in the 
hands of the same owner a piece of white paper for a piece of red 
paper and a piece of blue paper. It must have been known at the 
time when the case was brought up that it could result in nothing 
practical when no attempt was made to bring into court that which 
was the very cornerstone of the whole transaction." 

But the filing of antitrust suits became more and more a matter 
of fits and starts, while trusts were multiplying by leaps and bounds 
Dawes thought "the chief endeavor seems to be to satisfy the public 
mind through selected civil and criminal cases. 

"Another thing: the fact that attacks upon men of prestige and 
men of supposedly high character and men of position is made possi- 
ble under this law, and that attacks upon the men who do outstand- 
ing things attract public attention, has resulted so far in an inability 
of the Department of Justice to refrain from trying their cases in 
the newspapers prior to instituting the case/' 

Some government actions, Dawes thought, Had all the appear- 
ance of being made to keep the muckrakers content. He paid his 
respects to them too. 

"They have done some good and they have done harm. Much 
of the writings of the muckrakers is one-sided and superficial. Some 
of the muckrakers cover up their superficial knowledge by the use of 
sharp phrases. They know, too, that a fine way to engage the public 
attention for any political party or any young man or any idler 
and the critic is often an idle man is to assault somebody who is 
doing sometitiing. For it is the doers and not the drones in whom the 
people are interested. The muckrakers cannot see the grass for the 
snakes. They point to a hole in the sidewalk and claim the whole 
town is going to fall through it. Whatever may be written about him, 
the man who nails himself to the right principle will in the long run 
be vindicated/* 

Dawes saw Theodore Roosevelt less than a half-dozen times 
after the packer episode. Thus it came as a surprise to him whei* in 

132 Portrait of an American: 

December of 1906 President Roosevelt sent him the first draft of a 
message relating to currency reform with a statement that he desired 
Dawes* criticism. 

"I criticized it rather severely since it leaned toward the author- 
ization of an increased bank currency, subject to only a small tax, 
which would allow the notes to be used in normal times and to that 
extent prevent their use in time of panic 

"It is distasteful to me to criticize the President, and I do not 
intend to do so further Although urged to do so by Justice Day, at 
whose home Caro and I were visiting in December, I did not call on 
him when in Washington. I could not, after having criticized him 
as severely as I have to a few of my friends, bring myself to meet 
him as an apparent friend. And yet he has appointed my dear friend 
Cortelyou Secretary of the Treasury, and I can almost forgive him 
everything for that." 

Black headlines in the Chicago newspapers of Monday morning, 
December 18, 1905, jolted the city as it had not been jolted for years. 
The three banks of John R. Walsh had failed Excited citizens 
grabbed the papers to read with apprehension. Would the closing 
of the Chicago National Bank, the Equitable Trust Company, and 
the Home Savings Bank carry down the whole Walsh empire? 

In the dominion built up by the one-time Irish immigrant lad 
were utilities, newspapers, railroads, quarries, coal, wharfs, ware- 
houses, real estate, amusements. Walsh did nothing that was not 
prodigious His success had been sensational, his failure surely 
would be no less so. It could mean loss of jobs, shutdown of business. 
Might it not also plunge the country into a panic and bring catas- 
trophe to other cities? 

But the details were reassuring. There had been an all-night 
session of 50 Chicago bankers and a few of the city's leading mer- 
chants and manufacturers, representing altogether $500,000,000 of 
Chicago's wealth. The conferees, just before daylight Monday, had 
come to an agreement on an unprecedented cooperative action. The 
other banks in Chicago would take over the assets and guarantee 
the deposits of the three Walsh institutions, and if there were losses 
the guaranteeing banks would prorate them. The bankers had per- 
ceived that the failure of Chicago's most colorful man, who was also 


one of its richest and most highly respected citizens, might precipi- 
tate a financial crisis that could not be confined to Chicago. 

Behind this simple announcement, there was concealed the 
story of a dramatic clash of wills between Marshall Field and Dawes, 
from which Dawes had emerged victorious and with added stature. 

All day Sunday Comptroller of the Currency Ridgely from 
Washington and a committee of six bank presidents had been in 
session with Walsh and his Board of Directors. At nightfall a call 
had gone out for all bank presidents in the city, routing them out 
of their homes, churches, or clubs. Dawes had been fetched from 
Orchestra Hall where he was presiding over a memorial meeting 
for Graeme Stewart. 

Assembled in the lofty marble hall of the First National Bank 
on Monroe Street, the bank presidents heard from James B. Forgan, 
head of that institution, that Walsh had loaned to his own enter- 
prises and invested in their securities some $15,000,000 of the funds 
of his banks, and that they were in an insolvent condition. Forgan 
then promised the assembly that a committee, meeting in the Walsh 
Bank, would soon report with more information and with recom- 
mendations to meet the situation 

The assembly waited for several hours. Finally, a messenger 
arrived from the Walsh Bank and asked Dawes to join the committee 
meeting there. 

Again the assembly waited. Dawes and Marshall Field, over at 
the Walsh Bank, had their tug-of-war which deadlocked the commit- 
tee for hours. 

The disagreement came over the question whether the bankers' 
guarantee should cover only the private deposits, or both them and 
the public deposits of Chicago, Cook County, and the State of Illi- 
nois. Field insisted that only private deposits be guaranteed. Dawes 
held out for a full guarantee. 

Imperious, blunt as a hippopotamus, Field pressed his point 
There were few men who could cross Marshall Field. Seventy years 
old now and in the last year of his life, he had come to Chicago forty- 
nine years before as a Yankee store clerk. First with Potter Palmer 
and Levi Z. Leiter as his partners and then by himself he had built 
up his great mercantile business. The nation's most successful mer- 
chant had the highest respect of Dawes and of all the other conferees 

134 Portrait of an American: 

but Dawes came from the same New England stock as Field and 
could be as inflexible. And he felt his plan was the more equitable. 

Behind Field stood such big Chicago bankers as Orson Smith of 
the Corn Exchange Bank, Byron Smith of the Northern Trust Com- 
pany, and Ernest A. Hamill of the Illinois Merchants Trust Com- 
pany. But Dawes' argument won the backing of James B. Forgan 
Rising dramatically, Forgan said: "I will never agree to the guaran- 
tee unless Dawes' point is conceded!" An accord seemed impossible 
Then John J. Mitchell, president of the Illinois Trust Company, 
agreed to Dawes' plan The impasse was broken. Marshall Field, the 
two Smiths, and Hamill capitulated. Dawes, in his record of the 
session, said: 

"To John J. Mitchell belongs tihe chief credit for one of the 
greatest acts of public-spirited cooperation known in the banking 
history of our country, probably the greatest. I left at 5:40 A.M. 
It was necessary for me to take the position I did. I felt it was my 
duty to my own institution and only true equity. That it was con- 
ceded, however, was an inexpressible relief to me." 

On Monday there were runs not only on the Walsh Bank but 
on other Chicago banks also. But confidence soon returned. 

"December 20. I called on John R. Walsh with whom in the 
old days I had so much business. He told me he had been a damn 
fool He showed great self-control. He said he had not spoken to me 
on the night of the conference at any length, for he would have 
broken down if he had done so/' 

Dawes thought back to a day ten years before when Walsh had 
told him the greatest of his ambitions was to own a railroad That 
ambition had become the chief reason for his downfall. Of the fifteen 
million of the bank funds he had invested in his own enterprises the 
biggest chunk had gone into three ill-starred short-line railroads. 

There was no evidence that Walsh had intended to deceive or 
defraud anyone. But he had run afoul the national banking laws 
and a jury gave him a five-year sentence in the Federal Penitentiary 
at Leavenworth. The white-haired Walsh served a year and nine 
months of his term, was paroled because of failing health, and died 
in Chicago nine days after his release. 

The disaster which might have come at the time of the Walsh 


f ailure, but was averted then by the cooperative action of the Chi- 
cago bankers, hit the nation twenty-two months later, on October 22, 
1907 The Knickerbocker Trust Company of New York failed. 

The Knickerbocker was the city's "society bank/* its clientele the 
most fashionable in town. It had been involved in the efforts of 
F. Augustus Heinz to corner the copper market, and when copper 
dropped from twenty-six to twelve cents per pound in six months, 
the fate of the bank was sealed Long lines formed at the tellers' 
windows on that Tuesday morning. By noon $8,000,000 had been 
paid out, and the windows slammed shut 

On the stock exchange, prices plunged to new lows. A number 
of brokerage houses failed. False rumors ran regarding the solidity of 
other banks. There was a run on the Trust Company of America, and 
the Union Trust Company in Providence, Rhode Island, closed At 
Pittsburgh, Westinghouse Electric Company failed, the Southern 
Steel Company at Birmingham closed its doors, and business insti- 
tutions all over the nation toppled 

Never had a financial panic come so unexpectedly. It came at 
a time when the country was harvesting bountiful crops and selling 
them at good prices; mines, mills, and manufacturing companies 
were busy, railroads had more freight than they could haul. Labor 
was fully employed. Almost at the very moment when the Knicker- 
bocker was failing, President Roosevelt, in a speech at Nashville, 
boasted of the strength of the nation's financial structure. 

The effect of the New York failure was felt throughout the 
country. For nearly a decade, Dawes had been advocating an emer- 
gency currency for just such a situation. Nearly seven years earlier, 
during his days as Comptroller of the Currency, he had written: 
"Things are running smoothly now, but the next panic will carry 
down a lot of these new banks/' Now the panic was upon the coun- 
try, and the country had no more means to fight it than it had had in 


Dawes* diary gives a blow-by-blow account of the effect of the 
cataclysm on Chicago. It quickly became evident that the govern- 
ment in Washington was concerning itself principally with New 
York. But the West continued to call for money in steadily increasing 
amounts and the West did business mainly with Chicago. There 
was no cessation of these outside drains as Chicago financial institu- 

136 Portrait of an American: 

tions strove to keep the city's own industrial situation somewhere 
near normal. 

"October 25: Cortelyou has been putting large sums of money 
into New York banks in an attempt to stem the panic. As I came 
down Adams Street in my automobile Friday morning, I saw express 
wagons being loaded with specie from the Sub-Treasury in the Post 
Office Building and I realized the money was going to New York. 

"I interviewed J. B. Forgan on the matter, and found that his 
bank, the First National, had applied for $1,000,000 government 
deposits from the Treasury and had been refused. 

"Through Comptroller of the Currency Ridgely, whom I called 
long distance, I had Cortelyou on long distance from New York at 
midnight. He said he had practically exhausted his funds with the 
demands of New York banks, but would let me know if he could 
help the Chicago banks tomorrow. I told him that Chicago was 
already in as bad a fix as New York; that we were certainly going 
on a clearing house basis, and that for his own record as well as 
the banks* sake he should find us the money. I told him the New 
York banks were refusing to ship us the currency while the West 
was taking $5,000,000 a day or thereabouts from us," 

Chicago was in desperation. 

"The drain of currency on each Chicago bank is something fear- 
ful. I met with the Clearing House and remained there until 6 P.M. 
It was a memorable meeting. It developed that probably every bank 
in Chicago would be compelled to close next week unless clearing 
house certificates were issued. From the meeting I went to Evanston 
where Cortelyou called me by telephone from New York. 

"Cortelyou told me he had placed still more money in New 
York during the day. He said he would leave for Washington at 
midnight and there check up his remaining cash and let me know 
by Sunday afternoon whether he could help us. Men desperately in 
need of money called me at home as well as at the bank. On the 
other hand, a number of my friends with surplus funds have called 
to ask if I had need of them. Vice-President Fairbanks sent his son, 
Warren, to ask if I could use $60,000 personally/' 

As Chicago banks fought for their lives, the heads of the in- 
stitutions went to their desks on Sunday morning. Dawes remained 
at his bank all Sunday night At four o'clock Sunday afternoon 


Comptroller Ridgely telephoned Dawes that Cortelyou would order 
the Sub-Treasurer at Chicago to deposit $3,000,000 cash with gov- 
ernment national bank depositories in Chicago $1,000,000 a day 
for three days. 

"I announced this to the assembled bankers at the clearing 
house meeting, and insisted that the trust companies should be given 
a share of this money, furnishing to the national banks a portion of 
the bonds required to secure the deposits. The matter was referred 
to me for my determination of what was fair, and there in the clear- 
ing house meeting I arranged some trades between national banks 
and trust companies, which made a more equitable distribution of 
the relief afforded by the cash. I did not ask any for my bank, the 
Central Trust Company, which made me a fairer judge of what 
was right between the others." 

By this and other government actions, Chicago banks man- 
aged to stay open. Another panic had been met. But in New York 
all the old stand-by props, such as optimistic statements by Presi- 
dent Roosevelt, Pierpont Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, E. H Harri- 
man, and Andrew Carnegie had failed to lift the gloom 

Charles A Coffin, who had been President of the General Elec- 
tric Company during all its existence, conceived the idea that the 
best psychological effect could be achieved by reorganizing the 
very bank whose failure had precipitated the crisis Funds to make 
it stronger than ever were quicHy subscribed. Coffin and a re- 
organizing committee met with J. Pierpont Morgan in the Morgan 

"The first thing I would do would be to try to get Dawes away 
from Chicago," Morgan told the committee 

Dawes agreed to talk it over and met with the committee at the 
Plaza Hotel. He was told that if he would head the bank he could 
name his own terms. This was the most attractive offer anyone had 
ever made him, he assured the committee, "but," he said, "I have 
thought it all over, what my Chicago association means to me, 
what life means there and here, and I find that my heart has mas- 
tered my head I am going to stay out West." 

For most of the first twenty years in which Dawes kept a diary, 
it had been his custom to sit down at the end of the year and write 

138 Portrait of an American: 

a progress report, telling of what he had sought to accomplish and 
how far he had succeeded. These summings-up were intended only 
for the eyes of his children. At the end of 1906 he had written the 
next to last of these yearly summaries. It is the longest, and also 
the last written piece of advice he gave to his children He had said. 

"It will be interesting to me and should be to my children to 
go over the record of a fairly active life. This is my forty-first year of 
Hfe. As I look back I can see how little worthwhile it has been, ex- 
cept in so far as I have made it useful to others I can safely say 
to you children now, that the greatest pleasure I can have is in 
thinking, as I am tonight, of the people I have helped or helped to 
help themselves. 

"So order your life that as the years pass you can look upon 
them as having afforded you the chance to help the struggling, who 
without your aid might have sunk. I want you to know that to me 
charity has always seemed the greatest virtue. Help people and then 
you will be helped, perhaps, when the Lord settles your accounts 
and you sorely need it. To charity add the other virtues; but remem- 
ber that without charity there can be no salvation and no real 
character that will avail Remember at all times the poor, the sick, 
the discouraged, the forsaken. I know there are some people in the 
world whom I have saved, and that if I am saved it is that and 
that only which will be the cause. This I knowthe one thing as 
surely as the other. To give aid to the utterly helpless there is 
nothing finer in life " 

Now a year later, at the close of 1907, he wrote: 

"On this day, realizing the distress that walked our streets as 
a result of the existing business situation, I arranged at my own 
expense to feed the hungry. I put the matter in charge of Malcolm 
McDowell. I called Mayor Busse and he arranged for the coopera- 
tion of Dr. Evans, the health commissioner of the city, and others 
Got Ogden Armour to furnish the horse and wagon. 

"Each night we feed from four hundred up to eight hundred 
and fifty people. Medill McCormick of the Tribune heard about 
the matter and took up the movement through the Tribune. I sent 
him my check for $500. All in all, starting from this little move- 
ment, thousands will now be cared for each of these cold nights 
with food and lodging. I have kept my name out of it, of course, 


but I feel a deep satisfaction in the matter. I will keep my wagon 
going until the other arrangements will fully take its place/* 

Some days later, he added: 

"F.S.: We fed from our bread wagon, in the ten days before 
the Tribune took up and founded the lodging house, about 11,000 

The depression dragged on. For years, the bread wagons re- 
appeared every winter. In 1910, Dawes took Ogden Armour and 
James A. Patten into partnership, but in the winter of 1911 he ran 
the enterprise again entirely at his own expense. That year he noted: 

"Have run my bread wagon with Malcolm McDowell. The suf- 
fering is very great in the city. We will have fed between 30,000 
and 40,000 during the winter. Thank God I am able to do it/ 7 

Chapter Ten 


On March 17, 1908, Senator Robert M. LaFollette rose 
in the Senate to denounce the "one hundred men who are running 
the country." While Senate rules in effect at the time prevented 
LaFollette from giving the names on the Senate floor, he issued 
his list for publication in the country's newspapers. 

It was a formidable group, including John D Rockefeller, J. 
Pierpont Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, James J. Hill, E. H Harriman, 
John Jacob Astor, August Belmont, H. M. Flagler, William Rocke- 
feller, Henry C. Frick, Cyrus McCormick, Jacob H. Schiff, Levi P 
Morton, Clarence W. Mackay, H. H. Rogers, C. M. Schwab, W. 
K. Vanderbilt, Harry P. Whitney, E. H. Gary, and eighty-one others. 

The Senator was selling the nation short. No one hundred men 
or, for that matter, no one thousand men had ever been able to run 
the United States at any period of her history. 

The names of Rockefeller, Morgan, Carnegie, Hill, and Harri- 
man had been heard for at least forty years, those of Astor, Van- 
derbilt, and McCormick for nearly half a century. The youngest 
man on the list was Charles Gates Dawes. He was a mere forty-two 
years old and he was to outlive all the other ninety-nine. 

No one was more surprised than Dawes himself to be men- 
tioned in such mighty company. He was a wealthy man in 1908, to 
be sure, yet he was still far from the peak of his wealth which he 
was to reach perhaps ten years later The Dawes Bank was only 



six years old. And since he had avoided publicity not only in con- 
nection with his charities but in all other respects, his name meant 
nothing to the vast majority of Americans. 

As ardent McEonleyites in 1896, Dawes and LaFolIette had 
been rather close friends, but that closeness had long since ceased 
to exist. Dawes never felt the need to make any public comment 
on LaFollette's speech. He had already made what amounted to a 
rather pat answer on the subject of the personal power of captains 
of industry in a speech to a group of businessmen: 

"You see articles as to the tremendous power of certain men 
because of their great wealth. This is a favorite way of creating the 
impression of the existence of a sinister power. You see these men 
credited with the aggregated resources of a group of banks or rail- 
roads or industries that are actually owned by hundreds of thou- 
sands of people How do these men gain that influence over the 
property of thousands of other people who willingly entrust it to 
their guidance? As a rule they exercise leadership and power be- 
cause their exercise of it is wise, temperate, and just. Inert wealth 
has no power. Wealth in motion is power. Many of the greatest lead- 
ers in finance today are not men of vast wealth, but those who 
through their qualities of care, initiative, and j'ustice keep large 
bodies of wealth in useful motion. 

"And let me tell you something: In my observation the man 
who follows the leadership of another man with his money demands 
a much stricter accounting than the man who simply follows a 
political leader with his vote. How many men would last as leaders 
of financial power through their influence over the investing class 
of the country, if they appealed to the prejudices of the people in- 
stead of their reason as do many of the demagogic leaders of today? 
I would not include all politicians in this indictment, as I would 
not include all financiers in this eulogy. The demagogue is to the 
statesman what the "get-rich-quick" mining promoter is to the Mad 
of financier I am discussing." 

Dawes was to be much occupied that year with his effort for 
emergency currency legislation. He was president of the Chicago 
Bankers' Club in 1908 and caused some consternation among its 

142 Portrait of an American: 

membership when he chose as its annual banquet speaker the un- 
likeliest person conceivable: William Jennings Bryan. 

Bryan, less than two months away from a practically unopposed 
third-time Presidential nomination by the Democrats, appeared at 
the dinner on May 23 and made it a momentous occasion for him- 
self. He unexpectedly unveiled the paramount issue on which he 
would campaign the guarantee of bank deposits. Whether Bryan 
knew it or not, Dawes had suggested this insurance for depositors 
in his book published back in 1894. 

Bryan also urged emergency currency legislation in his Chicago 
Bankers* Club speech It was an entirely different plan from that 
which Dawes had advocated In reality it was the multiplicity of 
plans that held back any legislation now. Two groups, the backers 
of the Aldrich bill on one hand and those of the Vreeland bill on 
the other, were deadlocking the issue in sullen disagreement. 

In the spring of 1908 Dawes appeared before the banking and 
currency committee of the House of Representatives in Washing- 
ton. Hostile at first, the committee rose and applauded him when 
he had finished his statement. 

"The absolute impossibility of the financial doctors of this 
country uniting upon any one measure has been demonstrated," 
he told the committee. "No plan of any one man will become law. 
With our diversified interests, our diversified opinions, and the great 
breadth of the country, any bill passed will be a composite a com- 

"There are defects in the Aldrich bill and you should make 
every effort to correct them. Fifteen years ago there was a panic and 
there was no legislation afterwards. Last year we had another panic 
and we came nearer than many people realize to going over the 
brink. We are confronted with the necessity of remedial legislation 
of some sort. Only at a time like this when the catastrophe is fresh 
in the minds of the people can you get action. I am never a sym- 
pathizer with the postponement of the correction of an evil. It does 
not make any difference if it is fifty years before we need to use 
this legislation; it should be passed now/' 

The Aldrich-Vreeland law which resulted remained on the 
statute books for six years before it was replaced by the Glass-Owen 
Federal Reserve Bank measure. In its short life, Dawes believed, it 


averted a panic in 1913 when for the first time in this country there 
was an unprecedented liquidation of deposit credits and at the same 
time banks increased their loans to business and industry instead 
of constricting them. 

In an interview given at the time of the passage of the bill, 
Dawes said: 

"It is an imperfect law. It has defects which future Congresses 
will have to cure as they appear. But it will enable banks in reserve 
cities to pay their debts in times of panic. It is not a guarantee 
against financial panic. No law can be." 

Dawes* part in the 1908 election was to be smaller than in 
previous years. Joseph G. Cannon seemed slated to hold the Illinois 
delegation as a favorite son. Dawes* friend, Vice-President Charles 
W. Fairbanks, who yearned to move into the White House, came 
to see him a number of times. But it was obvious that Theodore 
Roosevelt intended to pick his own successor, and that his favor 
would go to Secretary of War William Howard Taft 

Dawes recalled a luncheon with Taft and Secretary of State 
William R. Day many years before, shortly after McKinley had 
chosen Taft to head the Philippine Commission. Taft had bemoaned 
the fact that he would have to leave the circuit judgeship which 
he liked. But Dawes had said: "If you do a good job in the Philip- 
pines you are likely to be President of the United States/' 

Dawes himself, for the last few years, had hoped that Roosevelt 
would appoint Taft Chief Justice to succeed tie aging Melville 
Weston Fuller. He supported Taft after the nomination but did not 
accede to Taft's request that he become treasurer of the Republican 
National Committee. 

Once again, both the Republican and Democratic nominees were 
Dawes' close personal friends. He had shared many a lunch and din- 
ner at Losekam's in Washington with his former law school mentor 
William Howard Taft. And Bryan had been close to him ever since 
the days in Lincoln when Bryan's gargantuan appetite had been ac- 
cused of rendering the operation of Don Cameron's restaurant un- 

''Whoever is elected this year," Dawes commented, "the country 

144 Portrait of an American: 

is in for a big board bill. It will be a lush four years for the White 
House grocer!" 

While Dawes' long-standing battle for currency legislation had 
thus finally been successful, the outlook for his efforts to bring about 
clean party politics in Illinois had to grow much worse before it 
grew better. 

William Lorimer had won a triumphant re-election to the House 
of Representatives. But his eye was still on a seat in the United 
States Senate, 

Illinois held its first Senatorial preference primary in 1908. Lori- 
mer did not enter it, and the choice went to Hopkins. But the 
primary was only an advisory one and the Illinois legislature would 
elect. The unwary Illinois reform element could hardly credit the 
reports which began to come out of Springfield in January Lorimer 
was determined to put Hopkins aside and take the seat himself. 

Few more loathsome scenes have ever been enacted in a state 
legislature than those which occurred in Springfield during the 125 
days from January 20 to May 26, 1909. In that time, ninety-five 
ballots were taken Hopkins had started with 90 votes, 13 short of 
a constitutional majority. On the ninety-fifth ballot, Lorimer, amid 
widespread charges of naked bribery and corruption, got 108 votes, 
5 more than a majority. This vote was made up of 53 Democrats 
and 55 Republicans, the first time in history that an almost equal 
alliance of Democrats and Republicans had elected a Senator. There 
was scant doubt of the methods used to bring the needed final votes 
to the Lorimer side. 

Dawes was shocked that Lorimer could be elected a Senator 
from Illinois He made a rather gloomy memorandum on the politi- 
cal outlook: 

'The United States has become the wealthiest nation the world 
has ever known Its form of government is now undergoing severe 
tests. The discontent, which prosperity seems to foster in the people 
almost as much as extreme poverty does, is diverted largely now 
toward large corporations as well as toward the widespread corrup- 
tion in politics. 

"The attractions and profits in business life are such that, unlike 
fifty years ago, our strongest men seek business instead of public 


careers. As was once the case in Rome when it was difficult to find 
good men who were willing to take public office, it is now almost 
impossible to get the best class of our citizens interested in office 
holding. Our state legislatures are largely corrupt. Many of our 
municipal governments, through reforms, are seemingly making 
more progress toward better conditions than any other of our gov- 
erning agencies." 

Although William Lorimer's right to his seat in the Senate was 
under fire from the day he took the oath of office, it was not until 
July 13, 1912, that the Senate adopted a resolution declaring that 
"corrupt methods and practices were involved in his election, and 
that the election, therefore, was invalid." 

In 1909 Dawes had purchased a large straw-colored brick house 
in Evanston Aged oak trees threw their cooling shade over the tile 
roof and the round corner towers that were popular in the nineties 
The lawn, smooth as a putting green, reached to the shores of Lake 
Michigan. The ample stables housed only the riding horse of Mrs 
Dawes. Dawes* automobile stood in the adjacent garage. 

It was the second home he had owned, and while the little 
house on D Street in Lincoln had been rather tight, the Evanston 
home was large for his present needs His son, Rufus Fearing, was 
ready to enter Princeton, and his daughter Carolyn was about to 
depart for the Misses Masters School at Dobbs Ferry. But it gave 
him space to house and expand his fine library and to offer to his 
friends the musical entertainment of which he was so fond. 

Dawes' unquenchable love of music had involved him in an- 
other "good steady job without pay" that of raising money for 
the Chicago Grand Opera Company. How it came about is told in 
his diary for the year 1910. 

"I went to a luncheon where a few Chicago people met Phillip 
M. Lydig of New York It seemed that Clarence H. Mackey, Otto 
H Kahn, and Lydig had expected Chicago people would subscribe 
for $300,000 in a new grand opera company, New York to take 
$200,000. J. C. Shaffer had raised $100,000 in Chicago but the enter- 
prise was at a halt and the New York people, having on the face 
of their Chicago expectations entered into contracts involving over 

146 Portrait of an American: 

$200,000, were in an embarrassing situation. This is why I have had 
so much to do with opera. Harold McCormick and I raised enough 
money through stock subscriptions to put the enterprise on its feet, 
when added to what Shaffer had already raised. 

"This naturally put us at the head of the business, and McCor- 
mick, Shaffer, and I have certainly had an experience. Nobody here 
pays much attention to its business except us. It has been enjoyable 
work in many ways The Company lost about $260,000 the first 
season only about $60,000 was lost in Chicago, the rest in the East. 
We had to raise $134,000 to try it again the next season. We have 
to average $7,500 per night to break even, which thought consoles 
me for having failed to take up the business of impresario for a life's 

In 1911 Dawes entered the musical world also as a composer 
He wrote his "Melody in A Major" at one sitting, with no thought 
of publication, as a simple piano score, cobbled it some more for 
the violin, and thought perhaps he would, if a leisure time ever 
came, make an orchestration of it. 

At Marietta, at Lincoln, and later in Chicago and Washington 
he had many friends among musicians. When they came to his house 
Dawes would take part with them in trios, quartets, and quintets 
He had taken a particular interest in Francis MacMillan, the violin- 
ist, and sponsored his first appearance in this country before an 
enraptured audience in Orchestra Hall in Chicago 

When MacMillan was next in Chicago after Dawes had com- 
posed the ''Melody," he played it and thought it excellent. 

'It's just a tune that I got in my head, so I set it down," Dawes 
told MacMillan, "I never gave the thing a name. If you want it you 
can have it. It has served its purpose as a diversion for me." 

Dawes was tinder the impression that MacMillan sold it to a 
publisher for $100. His first feeling when he became aware that 
he was an acknowledged composer was one of chagrin. 

"No one told me it had been published," he said. "I was walking 
down State Street and came to a music shop. I saw a poster size 
picture of myself, my name plastered all over the window in large 
letters and the window space entirely filled with the sheet music. 

"My business is that of a banker and few bankers have won 


renown as composers of music. I know that I will be the target of 
my punster friends. They will say that if all the notes in my bank 
are as bad as my musical ones, they are not worth the paper they 
were written on. 

"I never studied music at all, never received instructions on 
any instrument. I think my parents were afraid I might become a 
musician, so they discouraged my taking lessons. I always had an 
intense love for music and what little I know I taught myself. The 
flute was the smallest of the instruments so it was the easiest to 
smuggle into my room and then, too, it was not as noisy as most 
of the others. So that was the instrument I learned to play/* 

The original "Melody" copyright was followed by eleven 
others. They included a piano music-roll arrangement by Milton 
Suskind, an arrangement for the piano by Marie Edwards von 
Hitter, a pipe organ version, an arrangement by Adolph G. Hoff- 
man for large orchestra, another for small orchestra, and one by 
Sydney Baynes of Great Britain, also for orchestra, an arrangement 
for a waltz by Harry L. Alford, for an alto saxophone by Rudy 
Wiedoeft, and an adaption called "Let Me Dream" words and ar- 
rangement by Don Wilson. Dawes himself helped Carleton L. Colby 
to make an arrangement for a military band. 

Fritz Kreisler, in January of 1922, added the Dawes composi- 
tion to his repertoire. 

In 1923, Kreisler explained to Dawes how it was chosen: 

"When I was on tour it was my custom to try out new music, 
with Mrs. Kreisler playing the accompaniments This piece came 
to me in a great bundle sent by a publisher for my consideration, 
When we tried it out, Mrs. Kreisler exclaimed: 

" "This is a good one/ 

"I was glad to hear her say so as it had also taken my fancy 
because of its tunefulness and its strong musical value. I had no 
idea the author was a famous man." 

But Dawes replied: 

"I was not but you are making me famous." 

As a phonograph record, Dawes' song, in the month of its 
greatest popularity, sold 30,000 copies. And in 1951 the "Melody 
in A Major" was revived and had a run on radio, television, and 
records under the name "It's All in the Game." 

148 Portrait of an American: 

Bread wagons and operas were but a few of the many extra- 
curricular activities Dawes undertook either on his own initiative 
or because they were saddled upon him by others With Carter H. 
Harrison he was receiver for the Chicago, Milwaukee Electric Rail- 
way, with D. Forgan receiver for the Illinois Tunnel Company which 
had made the first grandiose effort to build a Chicago passenger 
subway. He also was president of the Home for Destitute Crippled 
Children, a job which took more of his time, he said, than any other 
chore, "in settling, or endeavoring to settle, various rows in regard 
to management between a very able staff of physicians and a very 
able house committee of women/' 

Dawes read a great deal, made numerous speeches, and occa- 
sionally wrote on invitation articles for the Saturday Evening Post, 
Pearsons Magazine, and the National Magazine. At the same time, 
he was in 1911 absorbing several other banks into the Central Trust 
Company, and buying and selling utilities from the Pacific Coast to 
the Gulf of Mexico. Yet the notes in his diary for that year are written 
in the debonair tone of a man half at work and half at play. 

"Palm Beach- February: I took a flight in a hydroplane with 
my friend Walter Brookins, the aviator." Considering the frail air- 
craft of those days, this showed real courage 

There is also a record of a leisurely visit to Supreme Court 
Justice Day in Washington. Day was giving a dinner for his eight 
brethren on the Supreme Court Bench, and Dawes was the only 
outsider present. 

"There was at the time as there seems always to have been in 
this country a public discussion of the ages of the Judges," he wrote. 
"The dinner turned into a humorous discussion of senility and an 
effort to assess the mental infirmities of the various membe' of the 
Court. Most of the Justices gave very candid estimates of their 
mental powers or lack thereof Holmes explored his own mental 
vigor with great self -insight and objectivity and much wit. It was 
the consensus (as near as the court ever comes to unanimity) that 
McKenna was the most senile. 

"Chief Justice White delivered the opinion of the Court. 
McKenna dissented. He admitted senescense but denied senility. 


There is a bond of mutual affection between the portly Chief Justice 
and agile little McKenna. None of the Justices appeared to me to 
be suffering from mental or physical fatigue. They seemed to eat 
what they wanted. They have a great variety of interests and all 
put in long hours at work I was impressed by Chief Justice White, 
a man of immense vitality and understanding. Charles Evans Hughes 
has a fine mind and is more sociable than I had heard " 

At the time of the dinner, Harlan, the oldest member of Court, 
was So, Holmes 70, McKenna 68, White 66, and Hughes 49. 

For months before Lorimer's expulsion from the Senate, Dawes 
had been deep in behind-the-scenes activity in the campaign of 
Lawrence Y. Sherman, who sought to unseat Shelby M. Cullom. It 
was no soft undertaking, for Cullom had represented Illinois in the 
United States Senate for thirty years. 

"Sherman has been going around the state with a change of 
clothing in a paper gripsack/' Dawes wrote. "He wa$ my staunch 
ally when I sought the Senate seat and I owe him a ten-year-old 
debt of gratitude. Sherman has written more progressive legislation 
for III nois than any other man. No one has remained in public life 
at a greater sacrifice to himself. I am going to do everything I can 
to help him." 

Thirty days before the primary election of April, 1912, Dawes 
left his bank desk, organized Sherman's campaign for a rousing 
wind-up tour and raised enough money to put him on the same 
kind of special train as gubernatorial candidate Deneen was using 
Sherman defeated Cullom for the advisory preference by 40,000 
votes But in 1912, Republican nomination did not mean certain 
election. It would be nearly a year before Sherman knew whether 
or not he was to have a Senate seat. 

Dawes declined election as a delegate-at-large from Illinois to 
the 1912 Republican national convention, giving as one reason that 
it seemed at that time Theodore Roosevelt would be the nominee 
for President. 

"I would not," he wrote, "be a member of a convention whose 
probable nominee I would not later support at the polls/' 

During the 1912 convention Mr. and Mrs George B Cortelyou, 
who had come to Chicago from New York, were guests at the Dawes 

150 Portrait of an American: 

home. CortelyoTi now resided in New York and was president of the 
Consolidated Gas Company. 

"Together Cortelyou and I watched the proceedings from the 
outside/' Dawes wrote, "though we both were invited to participate 
in the respective conferences Cortelyou by the Roosevelt managers 
and I by the Taft managers. 

"The convention and the factions were led by noisy men of 
small mental caliber. As I went over to the hotels where the leaders 
congregated and saw them and reflected upon the greatness of the 
occasion and the vastness of the country whose interests are at stake, 
I was reminded of bats in a deserted church/' 

After a bitter conflict the convention nominated Taft in the 
fetid heat of the Coliseum. With the announcement of the ballot's 
result, a band somewhere in the rafters of the vast hall struck up, 
"Waltz Me Around Again, Willie/* There was a faint ripple of ap- 
plause. The delegates were perfectly sure that William Howard Taft 
and the party of the Elephant were not going to waltz to victory 
this time. 

In September, after the Republican schism and the entry of 
Roosevelt into the Presidential race on the Bull Moose ticket, Dawes 
wrote a memorandum: 

"I suppose in after years, it may be interesting to me to note my 
present feelings as to the political prospects. I early had an admira- 
tion for Theodore Roosevelt, believing him to be all that was com- 
mendable in public leadership. Believing in him and his motives, as 
my personal contact with him and his associates gradually opened 
my eyes, I was shocked and surprised long ago as many have been 
since Vast multitudes still believe in him, but I do not think he 
can be elected. There would be no logic in his election. If he proves 
anything but one of the leaders in a political faction hereafter I 
shall be surprised. But a leader of some kind he will always be " 

The Republican split put Woodrow Wilson in the White House. 
Edward Dunne, an able Democrat, moved into the State House at 
Springfield. The legislature was so closely divided between Repub- 
licans and Democrats that for a time it appeared Illinois would 
have no United States Senator. It was only through the prestige of 
Governor Dunne that the deadlock was resolved. Dunne brought 
about the election of James Hamilton Lewis to the Cullom vacancy 


for which Lewis had the Democratic, Sherman the Republican nom- 
ination. Thus Lewis got a six-year term in the Senate, while Sher- 
man, completing first Lorimer's unexpired term, began eight years 
of service as a Senator. Dawes' long-standing battle for clean party 
politics m Illinois had at last been won, 

Chapter Eleven 


7n 1912, tragedy struck the home of Mr and Mrs. Dawes. 
On September 5, their only son, twenty-two-year-old Rufus Fearing, 
was drowned in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. 

Young Dawes had foregone his summer vacation to work in the 
Dawes gas plant at Chicago Heights. He was to spend one more year 
at Princeton and then, after an apprenticeship, assume the manage- 
ment of one of his father's utilities. Eventually, Dawes had hoped the 
quiet, serious youth would succeed him in all his business enterprises. 

"I had told him," Dawes wrote, "that I had decided, in view of 
his industry and his abilities and character, he was fitted to bear 
heavy responsibility early in life and yet, for the proper develop- 
ment of his qualities, he must early have the opportunity to work 
out, without the sense of assistance from me, the achievement of 
his higher success and standing. He would thus feel that he must 
rely upon himself and, in. the advance of a business for which he 
was solely responsible, find the measure of his capacity." 

Rufus Fearing had been a star athlete at Lawrenceville He 
had, however, suffered an attack of typhoid fever while with a sur- 
veying party in South Dakota in 1908, which left him with a weak- 
ened heart As a result, he played neither baseball nor football at 
Princeton, but was captain of the fencing team. 

The death of his son was the great sorrow of Dawes' life. On 
the night after his death, Dawes wrote an estimate of the boy's 
character, to be read by Rev. Frank W. Gunsaulus at the funeral. 



The tribute attracted wide attention, and hundreds of thousands 
of copies of it were distributed by the YMCA. 

In addition to this widely circulated tribute, he had put down 
in his diary an eulogy of his son, written for his eyes alone. They 
evoke an echo of the words with which Rufus Dawes had bid fare- 
well to his son Charles back in 1887: "Charles, I think you are 
possessed of a sufficient sense of values not to confuse the false 
shadow of fame or the acquirement of wealth with the substance of 
solid achievement. You may some day win both fame and wealth, or 
you may win neither. I can only say to you what I have said to you 
before: The only success in life is the development of character!" 
A quarter of a century later, Charles Dawes* farewell to his son 
Rufus Fearing shows how much that Dawes family tradition had 
been kept alive through two generations: 

"My son's life was noble and useful. I will put down some of 
the salient points of his character. His mind was most unusual. It 
was thorough and quick. He was a thinker and philosopher an 
exact investigator. He had a retentive memory. He formed just con- 
clusions. His opinions I found at all times to be sound and original. 
He had remarkable self -discipline. He never complained, no matter 
what hardships he was enduring. He was of a very cheerful dis- 
position and had a fine sense of humor. He abhorred arrogance. 
He stood unflinchingly by his principles. He was exact in money 
matters yet extremely generous. He counted wealth as little, recog- 
nizing the true nobility of kbor. He was kindly. He had taken me, 
asking me to help them, among the poor and lowly of the earth. 
In all his life I found nothing to regret. He died with all the noble 
illusions of a high-minded youth undisturbed and undispelled." 

As the last entry in the little stack of journals in which he had 
recorded happenings or impressions in his new home in the West, 
as a young married man and as a lawyer, industrialist, public of- 
ficial, and banker, Dawes put down this notation: 

"I bring this journal to a close by writing of my son even though 
my broken heart must suffer much in doing it. I have kept this 
journal for nearly twenty-five years. In reality, what I have put down 
for the past twenty years was intended entirely for him to read, 
and now that he has gone I have no heart further to continue it 

154 Portrait of an American: 

"My boy lived long enough to win out Whatever the years 
added would only be material In a man's character is his real career. 
All that my dear wife and I have ever found in him has been joy 
and pride and splendid hope. This hope we have in each other 
that we will do as he would have us do that we will live for others 
than ourselves, that through us and our strength the weak shall be 
lifted up, the hungry and cold cared for, the suffering comforted 

"We must work, but we must do it only to give the more. We 
must fight our grief in order that with unhindered powers we may 
strive in larger and more generous ways to be useful. May God give 
us the strength and the will and the love and the power to help in 
the years left to us in greater measure those less blessed than our- 
selves. Finis." 

In the tribute to his son, Charles Dawes had extended a lasting 
invitation to all of his son's friends. "He loved his friends/' Dawes 
had written, "and but recently told his mother that our house was 
all through the coming years to be the stopping place for his college 
friends passing through the city. How grateful our lonely hearts 
will be to them now if they will only accept this invitation and sleep 
in his room and fill for a little time the empty chair." The first of 
Rufus' many and close friends to come was Roger W Straus, his 
Princeton classmate. 

But now Charles Dawes, who within a year after his son's 
death had adopted a son and a daughter, was to extend hospitality 
on a much vaster scale. 

Chicago was the showcase of the bustling, fast-building West 
The more the West grew, the more Chicago grew Just as Chicago 
factories furnished the material that went into the building of the 
West, so also did Chicago furnish a great part of the human catalyst 
for the surging development of the West's raw wealth It was the 
barracks of the largest seasonal labor army in the world These 
migratory workers created for Chicago a problem of which Dawes 
quickly took notice. Annually, about May i, that army would move 
into a dozen Western states to lay railroad tracks, grade roadbeds, 
dig drainage ditches, aid harvesting When cold weather came 
around November i, it moved back to Chicago It had nowhere 
else to go. There it would get along as best it could until the next 


spring, when employers would come again to dip into the man- 
power pool. 

Perhaps one alcoholic spree after the return would take the 
earnings for a man's summer of hard work Few of the laborers 
managed to get througjh. the winter on the summer's savings. In 
bitter winter weather, they found shelter in Chicago's flop or 
"scratch" houses on South Clark, South State, and West Madison 
Streets. There was the year-around problem that the West and 
even Chicago's seasonal demand never absorbed all of the workers. 
The unneeded found a day's work in Chicago when they could. 
When Dawes returned to Chicago after five years of public service 
in the McKinley administration, he found conditions among this 
class of laborers more distressing than when he left. 

The bread wagon he ran in Chicago for the next few winters 
to dispense hot coffee and sandwiches to long shuffling lines of 
shivering men he did not feel was enough. He was providing food 
but no shelter His fortune by now had reached the point where 
he could build and assure the continued operation of a place which 
would provide both food and shelter. 

The Rufus F. Dawes Hotel for Men, Chicago's first endowed 
home for the unemployed, opened on January 2, 1914, with 300 
guests. It had 303 beds and was the Ritz-Carlton of the unemployed 
Charles Dawes had set up the endowment and spent $385,000 on 
the building of the institution which, in his own words, was in- 
tended "as a memorial to my son who had shown deep interest in the 
conditions which this hotel is designed to meet" 

Many people had warned him against the enterprise. First of 
all, the cautious voices had said, he would have trouble with drunk- 
ards Dawes replied: 

"A drunken man can freeze to death just the same as a sober 
one. I would hate to be the man who made the decision on admit- 
tance with the thermometer ten degrees below zero." 

The new hotel opened in a blinding snowstorm. It never had 
any trouble with drunken people. Since the guests turned their 
clothes in to be fumigated, and received nightshirts in the mean- 
time, it was impossible for them to carry liquor Dawes' instructions 
to the hotel staff were plain: "The purpose of this hotel is to take 
care of people whom no one else cares to take care of. They are our 

156 Portrait of an American: 

guests just as people are guests at any hotel. They must not be made 
to feel that they are objects of charity. The bills are small, but our 
guests pay them, and they can depart with their self-respect unim- 

The bills were indeed small. A bed cost six cents. For ten 
cents, a guest got a separate room. A menu posted at the hotel's 
opening gave these prices: 

Meat hash and beans 3 cents Mutton stew with 

Coffee, with milk and , '$$?$! bread 3 cents 

sugar 2 cents Soup with bread scents 

Roll i cent Doughnut i cent 

Macaroni and bread 3 cents Baked beans and bread 3 cents 
Pie, all varieties 3 cents 

In the cheery lobby of the hotel was a huge painting of the 
Battle of Lake Erie, and Lawrence's legend: 

Dawes* hotel, "a ladder for the down and out/' was successful 
from the first. It took business away from Hogan's Flop and other 
places along Chicago's filthy, dreary, cruel Skid Row. Even the IWW 
rooming house nearby charged ten cents for sleeping on the floor. 

There was a game room in the basement of the Dawes Hotel, 
and a reading room with newspapers, magazines, and books. The 
hotel provided a place where guests might shave and shine their 
shoes. "A clean face and well-blacked shoes create confidence." 
The only rule enforced by the hotel not enforced by standard ho- 
tels was that it required guests to take daily baths. 

Many of the seasonal laboring men who went to jobs in the 
West made arrangement on their return for winter hotel accommo- 
dations. For eighteen dollars a comfortable room could be obtained 
for six months. 

In its first two years, the hotel furnished 294,222 lodgings with 
bath, at five cents each; 62,770 baths with lodgings in separate rooms 
at ten cents each; meals miming into the hundreds of thousands at 
an average price of six cents. Its free employment agency found 
jobs for thousands. 

So successful was the hotel that it led to the organization of the 
Rufus F, Dawes Hotel Association "to own and operate hotels, 


restaurants, and lodging houses whereat the needy, the unemployed, 
and men of impaired means may procure food and lodging at prices 
within their ability to pay; and if , as a result of its operations, any 
profits shall accrue to said corporation,, the same shall never be dis- 
tributed among the members of the corporation but shall be forever 
dedicated and shall be devoted to aiding the poor and needy in 
such manner as the trustees shall from time to time determine." 

At the end of the first year's operation, Dawes made the longest 
statement he ever made concerning the hotel, in which he said: 

"The purpose of the Rufus F. Dawes Hotel, as operated by 
Henry M. Dawes and myself, is to provide men with accommoda- 
tions at reasonable figures. It is no different from any other hotel 
except that its charges are lower. 

"It assumes that its guests are gentlemen and appreciative of 
gentlemanly treatment. The fact that in the operations of the hotel 
a deficit results is not made tibe excuse by the management for any 
different treatment of guests than is customary in other first-class 
hotels. However sympathetic with religious, educational, and chari- 
table work I might be and I am so if I went as a paying guest to 
a first-class hotel and found the management solicitous as to my 
mental state, religious beliefs, and daily occupation, and insisting 
upon my listening to unsolicited advice or religious or educational 
addresses, I would regard it as an insult and an assumption of in- 
feriority on my part and superiority on theirs, unjustified by the 
nature of our relationship. 

"Accordingly, the Rufus F. Dawes Hotel management, proceed- 
ing on the idea that its guests are not to be considered as a class 
or species, or anything but American citizens, has succeeded beyond 
our best expectations There are no rules in the hotel different from 
any other first-class hotel, save those relating to sanitation. I make 
the assertion that there is no hotel in the country, accommodating 
anything like an equal number of guests, that has as little trouble 
with its patrons as ourselves. In fact, we have no trouble at all/* 

The second Rufus F. Dawes Hotel for Men was built in Boston 
and opened January 7, 1916. It had double the capacity of the one 
in Chicago. Over the fireplace in the lobby of this hotel hung the 
portrait of William Dawes, great-great-grandfather of Charles G. 

158 Portrait of an American: 

Dawes. He was the man who rode with Paul Revere on the mem- 
orable night in April, 1775. 

Not quite three years later, on February 17, 1917, the Mary 
Dawes Hotel for Women was opened in Chicago. It had 250 rooms 
at ten, twenty, and thirty cents per night Meals were seven cents. 
It was highly successful and, one year, made $5,000. This hotel was 
named for the mother of Charles G Dawes. Off the lobby was a 
cheerful, well-furnished living room. There were living rooms, sew- 
ing rooms, and laundry rooms. 

Again there had been well-meaning warnings. Dawes was told 
that good girls would not go to the hotel unless he took every pre- 
caution to keep unmoral women out. Dawes' reply was charac- 

"I have seen women of doubtful morality in every hotel I have 
ever been in. There is a hotel in New York with the best-known 
name of any hotel in the United States and such women, in diamonds 
and tiaras, go there Hotels seem to take them in and welcome them. 
We will operate on the same basis that the biggest hotels of the 
country do." 

In the twenty years the Mary Dawes Hotel ran, it never had a 
complaint about the morals of its women guests 

To the manager and clerical employees of the Mary Dawes 
Hotel, Dawes issued these instructions: 

"We are simply hotelkeepers, and the Mary Dawes Hotel is 
nothing but a hotel run as a first-class respectable place, differing 
from other hotels only in its cheaper prices. Since our guests pay 
for our service, we assume no right as hotelkeepers to inquire into 
their private affairs. There is nothing in the fact that one becomes 
our paying guest, either in our hotels for men or for women, which 
should subject him or her to any other restrictions than if a larger 
rate per day was being charged. 

"We wish to assure our patrons that so long as they are orderly 
and deport themselves properly while in our hotels, their independ- 
ence will not be interfered with, nor will they be affronted by un- 
asked advice and interference in their private affairs. 

"At the Rufus Dawes Hotels HI Boston and Chicago in the last 
three years, we have registered and cared for over 500,000 guests, 
and we claim that at no hotel charging fifty times their rates is better 


order observed or greater appreciation of others shown by guests. 

"The purpose of the Mary Dawes Hotel will have failed if it 
does not demonstrate that our women guests, in all the finer essen- 
tials, are the equal of our guests at the men's hotels, that they as 
fully resent unwarranted curiosity in their private affairs, that they 
as fully appreciate independence; that they as fully appreciate re- 
spectable surroundings and the respectable deportment of others 
in other words that, as a whole, they will match respectable treat- 
ment with respectable conduct/' 

Things did not come off quite smoothly when the Mary Dawes 
Hotel in Chicago opened. But Dawes did not give any thought to 
the threatening disturbance, and how it was conquered, until many 
years later when he, then Vice-President of the United States, came 
back to Chicago for a visit. 

"As we stepped out of the hotel tonight," he then wrote, "a 
well-dressed young man was waiting for us. 1 am Joe/ he said, and 
then all of that first evening when we opened the Mary Dawes 
Hotel came back to me in recollection 'Little Joe' (he was then) 
was a young hoodlum born in the alley behind the hotel, and he 
was the leader of an active gang of young ruffians of about twelve 
years of age. On the opening night, these ragamuffins gathered in 
force and so annoyed the crowds of guests and visitors coming in 
at the front door that an attendant started to telephone for the 

"Fortunately, I heard him and, stopping him, decided on an- 
other course of action I stepped out into the yelling crowd of 
youngsters and said I wanted them to come in and have supper with 
me. Joe, much embarrassed, accepted for all, and I entered the 
hotel with the lot. Their procession created something of a sensa- 
tion Treated like gentlemen, they acted like gentlemen. Without a 
murmur, they submitted themselves to Mrs. Dawes and Miss Decker, 
who scrubbed their faces and hands for them before they sat down 
at a table with Mother at one end and myself at the other. They 
were rather subdued, but my how they ate and especially the ice 

"One of the little fellows told me his father had just come home, 
and when I asked where his father had been, he said, In jail/ This 
was Joe, and Joe told me then that the boys would 'always be nice to 

160 Portrait of an American: 

the hotel/ and he would do any work he could at any time, 'fur 
nuthinY And so all these years the boys have been 'nice to the 
hotel/ and the manager told me that Joe has called constantly ever 
since that time to ask how he could help. For some time I kept track 
of him, but I had not seen hfm for years before tonight. He is now a 
chauffeur honest, well-behaved, and successful. Why don't we real- 
ize more the enormous returns which come from little kindnesses? 
And these returns come oftenest when we need them most, when the 
sun is setting and the day's work is almost done/* 

Also many years later, he noted: "I never visit these hotels with- 
out happiness. Since the hotels have opened, many instances have 
occurred of the most beautiful of all charities: that of the poor for 
the very poor, of the suffering for those who are perishing. On bitter 
cold nights, the streets of every great city are a Gethsemane for 
many of the homeless and half-clad poor, some of them brought to 
their condition through no fault of their own, but all of them with 
a right to help if the religion of Christ means anything On such 
nights, the Rufus Dawes hotel is filled to overflowing, and then is 
when it does the most good. 

"Late one winter night, when the thermometer stood at ten 
degrees below zero, and after the doors of the hotel had been closed, 
John Hanson, the manager, heard a persistent knocking at the door. 
Opening it, he found a shivering and thinly clad man and, beside 
him, sitting on a wheeled board that could be propelled by hand, 
was another man without any legs. The first man explained that his 
friend, the cripple, was sure to *go under* during the night unless he 
got shelter. He said he was all right himself and could stay out 

"To pay for a lodging for the cripple, he held in his hand two 
postage stamps, which was all he had, and asked John to take them 
in lieu of the regular charge of five cents. Of course, they were both 
cared for but if that one thing had been its only service, it earned 
its cost that night/' 

AH three hotels continued to be operated for a considerable 
length of time, even after the Federal Government assumed the 
burden of relief. In 1939 Charles Dawes gave the Rufus F. Dawes 
Hotel in Chicago to the Chicago Community Trust which, in turn, 
leased it to the Chicago Industrial League for one dollar per year 
and continued to operate it in the same manner as Dawes had done. 


The Mary Dawes Hotel in Chicago was deeded to the Trustees of 
the Dawes Arboretum of Newark, Ohio, in 1938, and was subse- 
quently sold for use as a lodging house. The Rufus F. Dawes Hotel 
in Boston was given to the Boston Industrial Home and, as this is 
written, is still being operated on the same basis under the name, 
"The Rufus F. Dawes Hotel, a Refuge for Unfortunate Men." 

In later years, when Dawes, much to his regret, found himself 
in the limelight, newspaper reporters and even friends would often 
ask him: 

"Tell us something about your charities!" 

"Charities?" Dawes would reply. "I have no charities. At times 
I have tried to help some people that is all." 

Dawes came up to the Republican national convention in 1916 
with the possibility that he might play a decisive part in the naming 
of the party's Presidential candidate. He might even come out of the 
convention with his long-time ally, Senator Lawrence Y. Sherman, 
as the nominee. A game apparently was coming up in which any 
hand well played could be die winning one, and Dawes sat with a 
good hand. The sixty-six delegates of Illinois were instructed for 
Sherman. Bewildered by the situation in which he found himself, 
Sherman asked Dawes to assume command. 

Never did a political party gather in greater confusion than did 
the Republicans when they assembled for their national convention 
in Chicago in June. There was the certainty that a record number of 
names (nineteen) would be placed before the convention for its 
Presidential nomination. The man whom the majority of the party 
obviously wanted to lead it was Charles Evans Hughes. Dawes then 
had only a slight acquaintance with Hughes, who sat untouchably 
on the United States Supreme Court, and no one had the answer to 
the question of whether he would accept if nominated. The man who 
wanted most intensely to be nominated was Theodore Roosevelt, 
and he was the one Republican Dawes would not support in the 
fall election if he were nominated. 

The Republicans were not to have the stage alone. As the GOP 
met in the Coliseum, the Bull Moose met downtown in the Audi- 
torium, ready for a coalition if the Republicans nominated Roosevelt, 

162 Portrait of an American: 

ready to go it alone if some one other than Roosevelt carried the day 
in the Republican convention. 

An unpublicized preview of the convention was run under the 
heavily beamed ceiling of the 4o-by-ioo living room of the Dawes 
home in Evanston on Sunday, June 4, with most of the candidates 
other than Roosevelt and Hughes represented In the long discus- 
sion, the most important statements were made by Dawes and Sen- 
ator James W. Wadsworth of New York. 

Dawes told the conferees he believed Hughes, if nominated 
and elected, would be a great President, but he thought he would 
be hard to elect. Dawes believed either Sherman, Cummins, Theo- 
dore E. Burton of Ohio, or perhaps Fairbanks would make a better 

"Wilson will be no easy man to beat," Dawes told the gather- 
ing. "In the Middle West, a case will have to be made that he ought 
to be beaten. Any Republican candidate will carry the East, but the 
election will be won between the western border of Pennsylvania 
and the Pacific Ocean, and I think a Western man will do better in 
this great area. I do not believe Theodore Roosevelt can get, under 
any conceivable situation which can arise in this convention, as 
many as 150 votes, so it will be Hughes or one of the men repre- 
sented here." 

Wadsworth interjected: "I represent the New York delegation, 
which is for Elihu Root, but Charles E. Hughes is its second choice. 
If conditions arise where Hughes can get the nomination and Root 
cannot, New York will break to Hughes." 

Wadsworth's statement ended the meeting. With the New York 
delegation ready to support Hughes, there could be no fusion of 
the other candidates. The convention's outcome was foreshadowed. 

On Friday word- weary delegates heard more than a dozen Presi- 
dential candidates nominated The biggest noise-making came when 
Senator Albert B Fall of New Mexico put Roosevelt's name before 
the convention, but the cheers were from the galleries and not the 
delegate sections. On the first ballot even favorite son Sherman out- 
polled Roosevelt by one vote, 66 to TR's 65. To Hughes went 253, a 
fourth of the total convention strength. Only Weeks with 105 and 
Root with 103 exceeded the 100 mark. 

On Saturday, June 10, the third ballot gave Hughes 949% votes. 


Roosevelt got i8& Charles W. Fairbanks for Vice-President com- 
pleted the ticket. The Bull Moose got word of the Republican out- 
come and nominated Roosevelt for President and Governor John M 
Parker of Louisiana for Vice-President. Denied the Republican 
nomination, Roosevelt declined the Bull Moose proffer. He had no 
taste for another third-party race. 

Dawes' June prediction that Hughes would have great difficulty 
in the central $nd western farm belt was borne out. Such Republican 
dependables as Ohio, Kansas, Nebraska, and North Dakota were in 
the Democratic column in November and Indiana and Minnesota 
were barely saved. California also deserted the G O.P. Wilson won 
another four years in the White House by the narrowest of margins. 

Chapter Twelve 


On June 28, 1914, Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria 
fell to the attack of a Serbian assassin Within less than three months 
nearly a dozen European and Asiatic nations had become involved 
in the great slaughter of World War I. 

The effects of the conflagration were felt at once in the United 

"The old landmarks by which we could guide ourselves and 
formulate our plans have been swept away/* Dawes said in an 
address at the Chicago Union League Club m November, 1914. "A 
large part of the world has reverted to barbarism How much this 
war will affect us as a nation, or whether we will be drawn into it, 
no one can now tell If it is much prolonged, it is extremely doubtful 
that it can be kept within the limits of Europe, Asia, and Africa. 
There must be preparedness in this nation which wants no war 
There must be national preparedness and individual preparedness. 
I do not, for instance, know what the day's work may be for me. The 
world may be on the threshold of an elemental convulsion of human- 
ity which will last for a century Certainly the loss of life and the 
waste of wealth which this war will bring will profoundly shake the 
world " 

On May 7, 1915, a German submarine sank the Cunard liner 
Lusttania. President Wilson sent a warning to Germany on May 13, 
another one on June 9. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, 
unwilling to support the President's second note to Germany, re- 
signed his office. Later he came to Chicago and visited Dawes 



"Bryan asked me to introduce him to the Chautauqua audience 
in Edgewater," Dawes wrote. "I could not refuse, yet I felt a little 
ashamed that a man who so lately had held the high post of Secre- 
tary of State should be so engaged. I was somewhat more ashamed 
of both of us while we waited backstage for our appearance before 
the audience. We were surrounded by tumblers, and there were a 
bear and a bear-wrestler next to us. It was a hot day, and Bryan and 
I were the only ones of the gathering who had on many clothes/* 

Dawes was once more in disagreement with Bryan. Bryan op- 
posed the Anglo-French loan. Dawes was the first banker in Chicago 
to back it. On September 16 he announced that the Central Trust 
Company would take a half -million-dollar participation. 

Other sinkings of American vessels by German submarines fol- 
lowed In April of 1917 the nation went to war. 

Theodore Roosevelt hurried to Washington and asked Wilson 
for permission to lead a volunteer army division overseas. Instead, 
Wilson made the dramatic surprise announcement that there would 
be an American Expeditionary Force to Europe, commanded by 
Major General John J Pershing. William Jennings Bryan made head- 
lines by announcing he would try to enlist as a private, something 
he never did, however. 

Charles Gates Dawes, in May of 1917, closed his desk in his 
bank and put on uniform. 

As a youth, Dawes had run levels for a surveying party of the 
Marietta, Columbus and Northern Railroad in Athens County, Ohio, 
The proceeds had helped him to pay his way through Cincinnati 
Law School. Now, thirty-three years later, that experience furnished 
his qualification for service in the Western European shooting zone. 
Engineers, he knew, would be the first, or among the first, American 
troops to reach the battle front, and that was where he wanted to be. 

At fifty-one, and with an ankle separation that frequently put 
him on crutches, Dawes did not appear too promising a candidate 
for an Engineer's commission. He had, however, potent friends, 
among them the Commander in Chief of tibie American Expedition- 
ary Forces, John J. Pershing. In May Pershing informed him that a 
commission as major in the Corps of Army Engineers would be forth- 

"Charley," Pershing said, "I once thought I would follow you 

i66 Portrait of an American: 

into law, but I never imagined you would follow me into die Army. 

While Pershing was merely surprised to see Dawes in uniform, 
others were dismayed. Among them was forty-three-year-old Her- 
bert Hoover, who had just been selected as the United States Food 
Administrator. Hoover urged Dawes to abandon his military career 
at once and head a new organization to control grain prices in the 
United States. 

"Hoover talked to me for an hour or so and was very emphatic 
in his invitation. He said: 'I can find a hundred men who will make 
better lieutenant colonels of engineers, and I want you right here/ 
Hoover is an extremely able man. He will succeed if anyone can in 
the difficult task that confronts him." 

But Dawes stood firm Late in May he joined his regiment, the 
i/th Engineers, for training in Atlanta. The regiment was made up 
of 750 engineers from the South and 350 from the North, under the 
command of Colonel John S. Sewell Dawes had personally recruited 
forty of them at Marietta, and others from among railroad friends 
It was just the kind of an outfit he liked Moreover, there was reliable 
information that, come August, the lyth Regiment would be in steel 
helmets and gas masks, building narrow-gauge railroads behind the 
French lines. 

Dawes organized a band out of the enlisted personnel of the 
i/th Engineers, and when he found that the Army would be slow 
in getting instruments, he purchased them himself and presented 
them to the musicians. His ankle gave him no trouble. He soon 
reached the rank of lieutenant colonel. 

"The tactics became a little hard for me, but I was soon drilling 
a battalion and feeling thoroughly at home in it. Hoover gave me a 
great scare by wiring- Would you bear me implacable resentment 
if I asked the President to assign you to me?' I wired back: 'Under 
no circumstances do such a thing- It would be unfair and cruel, and 
I know you would not consider it* " That was the last Dawes was to 
hear from Hoover for some time. 

The lyth Engineers reached New York on July 28 and embarked 
on the Carmania The Carmania arrived in Liverpool on August 11, 
after zigzagging its way through the submarine zone. Dawes had not 
been idle on the way over. Colonel Sewell placed him in command of 
regimental boat drill, Dawes slept with his clothes on, in the after 


wheelhouse near the after island, which was to be his post if there 
were a submarine attack. He devised a method of getting men on deck 
most expeditiously opposite their boats and rafts. He figured the 
time required to get men from the hold into ships of all sizes Learn- 
ing that no drill manual existed for the landsmen who would follow, 
Dawes wrote one and sent it to Pershing It was adopted as standard 
by the United States and used on all the transports Those ships 
carried two million soldiers to Europe. 

The 17th Engineers were the first American troops to reach 
London Through cheering throngs they marched past Buckingham 
Palace and were reviewed by King George, Queen Mary, and Ameri- 
can Ambassador Walter Hmes Page. 

Dawes was giving a dinner for the officers of the regiment at the 
Ritz when a sudden order came to embark immediately for France. 
The lyth crossed the channel to Havre on a cattle boat. 

"We officers slept on a floor so crowded that if anyone left his 
place in the night to go on deck, the natural expansion that ensued 
made it impossible for him to get back and find space enough to he 
down in. As a result, he slept thereafter on deck. It was a contrast to 
the Ritz in London." 

The 17th went to St. Nazaire, supposedly on its way to the 
front. At St. Nazaire, Dawes occupied his time by making a study of 
the facilities of that base and what ought to be done to prepare it 
for the immense number of American troops and the large amount of 
freight that would be unloaded here He prepared and sent to 
Pershing a preliminary report recommending reconstruction of rail- 
road facilities, additional wooden docks, the use of machinery in- 
stead of manpower for boat unloading, and other improvements, 
Pershing was to adopt all of them. 

But no orders came for the 17th to move It heard that the 13th 
Regiment was at the front building the narrow-gauge railroads the 
17th had expected to build Dawes went to Paris to carry to Pershing 
the protest of the indignant 17th against being held away from the 
front. The Commander in Chief of the A E F. lost no time in telling 
Dawes he intended to detach him from his present duties and assign 
him as head of an organization, to be known as the General Purchas- 
ing Board of the Army, which would coordinate, control, supervise, 
and direct all purchasing for the United States Army in Europe. 

168 Portrait of an American: 

The way Pershing had plunged into his job impressed Dawes. 
He wrote: 

"Pershing is the man for this emergency. He has a great faculty 
for disposing of things. He is not only a great soldier but has great 
common sense and tremendous energy. He has made me the head 
of a board of ten officers, representing all the purchasing depart- 
ments of our Army, including also the Red Cross and the Army 
YMCA. He gives me practically unlimited discretion and authority 
to go ahead and devise a system of purchasing, to organize the 
board, to arrange liaison connections between the French and Eng- 
lish army boards and our own, to use any method which may seem 
wise to secure supplies for the Army in Europe, thus relieving the 
American transports of a considerable part of their tremendous 
burden. I have been put in a position relative to our Army supply 
and purchase operation in France that has no counterpart in the 
armies of England and France. He gives me authority to select my 
assistants within or without the Army. In other words, he makes me 
an important element in this war." 

The last sentence was a masterpiece of understatement Every- 
one with whom Pershing discussed the idea of such a board with 
Dawes at its head had advised against it. Even Colonel James G 
Harbord, Pershingfs Chief of Staff, felt the A E.F. Commander was 
making a mistake and placing too much authority in Dawes, who was 
admittedly Pershing's closest friend Indeed, it is doubtful that 
Pershing would have established the board if he had not felt that 
he had in Dawes the man who could accomplish the task he had in 

Pershing immediately took Dawes to M. Painleve, French Min- 
ister of War. 

"Dawes," Pershing told Painlev6, "will centralize all our Army 
purchases in Europe, take control of these purchases, and will organ- 
ize a system for locating and transporting supplies/' 

Painlev expressed his satisfaction with the arrangement, the 
first man who had. Thus was born the board which was to buy 
everything possible in Europe, in order to save precious ship space 
and to offset to a great extent the effect of hostile submarine activity. 
How well Dawes did his job * was shown by this war's-end report. 
He had bought more than ten million ship-tons of supplies in Europe, 


compared with less than seven million tons shipped from America. 

Pershing explained to Dawes privately why he had overruled 
his advisers and created the board with Dawes at its head He had 
discovered that the Allies were far weaker than he had believed, and 
was of the opinion that Germany would have been the certain 
winner if the United States had not joined. The war was going to 
be won, but the bulk of the job might fall to America. If the Allies 
collapsed, the surest safeguard to the A E.F would be an unbroken 
line of communication back to the French ports, maintained by the 
Service of Supply. The weight of evidence was that the French and 
British could hold out, but it would be made doubly sure if purchases 
of supplies for American needs could be made in Europe in sufficient 
quantities to save as much space as possible for troop transports. 

The two old friends continued their conversation over lunch. 
Pershing was quartered in a house owned by Ogden Mills which 
had formerly been the palace of Jean Lannes, one of Napoleon's 
marshals. The great dining room, in which Pershing, Dawes, and 
some members of Pershing's staff took their meal, was large enough 
to accommodate a hundred guests. 

"John," said Dawes, "when I contrast these barren surroundings 
with the luxuriousness of our early life in Lincoln, Nebraska, it does 
seem to me that a good man has no real chance in the world " 

Pershing meditatively replied. "Don't it beat hell!" 

Pershing left Paris to open his headquarters at Chaumont, while 
Dawes opened his office in a single room in the Ritz Hotel Ten days 
later, he had taken hold so energetically and displayed so much 
organizing ability that Pershing wrote to him* "Officers here, some of 
whom opposed die creation of the board, have many good things to 
say for you/' 

Dawes, in a memorandum, said: 

"In every way, John is using his vast power to strengthen and 
uphold my hands Dear fellow and loyal friend, I hope I do not fail 
him. He has told me how much he relies on me and how gratified he 
is at what I am doing, and what his officers say of it He will never 
realize what these words mean to one in the quiet of the night, 
when, weary with the work and battle of the day, he takes mental 
account of himself and his task. 

170 Portrait of an American: 

"The executive ability of Pershing impresses me more and more 
as time passes. Nothing counts with him but results The law of the 
survival of the fittest among his officers is at work. In war, no excuses 
count. Performance alone answers. Conducted as it is, no reputation 
will be made by accident 

"If I fail in my military career, it will not be because I have 
failed to grasp firmly all the authority within reaching distance of 

Yet Dawes' tender-heartedness crept in when some of the men 
selected for his staff proved inadequate for their tasks 

"Whether it is military method or not/' he wrote, "where I find 
men unfitted to carry on certain ideas or lines of work assigned them, 
I am trying to change them, without breaking their hearts and 
spirits, to some work better adapted to their ability In proportion, as 
power has come to me in life, I seek to avoid its ruthless use. Its 
exercise is no less effective indeed, I have found it more effective- 
when with it are exhibited patience, reason, and moderation. The 
law of compensation is ever at work. Unhappy will be the man in 
power who for one minute forgets it God keep us all humble in 

Although Dawes was determined to keep up with his diary, he 
found it hard to do so, for several reasons: 

"The operations of my office are so vast, the matters of vital im- 
portance with which it is concerned are so varied, the demands upon 
my time are so pressing that it can only be of a general nature. These 
notes will often be made under pressure, but always with a sense of 
responsibility and a desire for accuracy. I will not write of war's 
horrors as I run across them. Others will do that I will sometimes 
write of some of the amusing things of which one must traip himself 
to think in times of apprehension." 

Dawes was carrying out very important duties with a very low 
military rank His opposite numbers from another nation invariably 
out-ranked him But he never felt handicapped, no matter with 
whom he was dealing "The history of this war will be written 
around achievements, not shoulder straps." At times, he even found 
his low rank advantageous He could perform his duties "without 
being put in an unnecessarily conspicuous position, which I am 
anxious to avoid." 


By mid-September, 1917, Dawes found that exceeding every- 
thing in immediate importance was the problem of coal and its trans- 
portation to the American Army arriving in France in ever-increasing 
numbers. He heard that Admiral William S Sims, commanding the 
United States Naval Forces operating in European waters, was in 
Paris, and went to him in an effort to borrow a collier. 

'When I got to Sims* house, he was preparing to go to some 
social event and was heavy with braid and lace The minute I men- 
tioned 'coal,' he began a tirade. 

" 'There is not a man in the Army who knows his business,* the 
impatient Sims barked 1 do not intend to waste time!' " 

The man who was a mere lieutenant colonel interrupted the 
startled Admiral with a still louder bark: 

"Damn you, Sims, I am not in the Navy and I haven't been in 
the Army long. I have been in this coal business just about a week. 
I didn't come here to be insulted or to listen to you insult the Army, 
I came to borrow a ship I am trying to prevent a fuel famine. You 
say there is no one in the Army who understands his business If 
you will listen to me, you will find one who bears a reasonable resem- 
blance to a man who knows exactly what he is talking about " 

Sims listened, and Dawes carried his point. Later he wrote: 

"I regret that I descended to extreme statement but, immedi- 
ately after I had spoken, the gold lace dropped away and a clear- 
headed, helpful man emerged Sims could not give us a ship, but 
gave beneficial suggestions and kindly encouragement. We even- 
tually got coal moving in all the supply needed " 

After the coal, there came the labor problem, involving the task 
of finding 50,000 men for the building of military railroads. 

"General Pershing has placed upon me the responsibility of pro- 
curing labor in Europe for the work of the A E.F , which will require, 
in the aggregate, 100,000 men. He says he soon will begin ordering 
to the front men trained for combat duty and now used for labor, 
depending upon me to fill their places by rapidly recruiting labor 

"Pershing has suggested to the French that we use some of the 
Russians now in France as laborers. It has been kept a profound 
secret, but two divisions of Russian troops on the French line (about 
40,000 men) revolted after killing many of their officers. The French 

Portrait of an American: 

have them in barbed-wire enclosures, and are rather at a loss what 
to do with them/' 

The labor corps Dawes organized for the A.E.F started off with 
two hundred companies, totaling about 50,000 men. Assigned to 
him were 133 captains, 133 first lieutenants, 134 second lieutenants, 
100 sergeants, and 2,000 corporals. As the corps eventually passed 
the 100,000 mark in personnel, Dawes reported that it was composed 
of Chinese, Indo-Chinese, Spanish, Italians, Portuguese, French, 
Senegalese, Greeks, Maltese, Belgians, North Africans, and some 
German prisoners of war. 

Lumber had to be procured, forage, railroad ballast, crossties, 
steel, barbed wire, picks and shovels, oil, sugar, clothing, chloroform 
Dawes got them coming in an unbroken stream. He knew the im- 
portance of what he was doing for the men on the fighting lines, and 
spared neither himself nor others to get the job done. He could 
plead, cajole, or demand but if need be, he could also be quite 

Once when railroad crossties were urgently needed at the front, 
an officer wired Dawes. "Exigent we have crossties. Move heaven 
and earth to get them by Saturday/* 

It was Wednesday. Dawes telegraphed back the same day. 
"Raised hell and got them today." 

In spite of such undiplomatic language, Dawes soon did the 
work of a diplomat. There was his deft performance in the case of 
the Belgian locomotives: Belgium had turned over to France and 
England 1,100 of them, but firmly insisted on holding its remaining 
600 for civilian use at the end of the war. After all efforts of the 
British and French had failed, Dawes succeeded Next, he suggested 
a way to solve the grave money-exchange problem between France 
and Spain and between France and Switzerland, and straightened 
out the difficult task of getting railroad ties in neutral countries. 

"I feel as if I were exercising the power of one of the old 
monarchs. Sometimes I negotiate single-handed with governments " 

And then, there were the horses and the mules. 

War has always been cruel to men. World War I was cruel also 
to animals. A total of 185,000 horses and 63,000 mules went to the 
battlefields with the American Expeditionary Forces alone. Of these, 


60,000 horses and 7,000 mules were killed in battle, an immensely 
greater proportion than that of men under fire. 

Dawes threw out a dragnet to bring in every animal possible 
from Western Europe's dwindling supply of horses and mules. In 
memorandum after memorandum, he told of his quest. 

"The French agreed today to let me have 30,000 horses. This is 
in addition to the 136,000 they have already furnished me. . . . 
Prospects better for 60,000 animals from Spain. . . . Got 13,000 
horses from the British. . . . After being at the front and looking at 
a German barrage laid down on the front line, I know what horses 
mean to our men. This is why I keep everybody in a tension. Ever 
since I have been here, I have tried to visualize military needs to 
keep myself at the highest pitch of effort. I have tried to see always 
a private soldier holding out his hands to me, and my beloved 
Commander smiling when I filled them." 

There was a story behind the mules which Dawes "imported" 
from Spain. Among the many outstanding men whose assistance 
Dawes had been able to enlist was August Belmont, back in the 
United States a horse breeder and racer as well as a financier. 
Belmont had sold his thoroughbreds in order to join the American 
Expeditionary Force. A promising colt which he sold to Samuel 
Riddle was called Man O'War, later considered the greatest race 
horse of all times. 

"I don't think you know anything about mules,'* Dawes told 
Belmont, "but the Army needs everything that moves on wheels or 
legs. I think you have got sense enough to manage both the Span- 
iards and the mules/' 

Belmont left on his unfamiliar errand while Dawes noted in his 

"A man never knows what he can do until he has to. I got 
businessmen to finding things, and some of them did remarkable 
jobs/' Soon Belmont would be meeting picturesque Spanish smug- 
glers at night in the Pyrenees to buy contraband mules. 

Dawes, now past fifty, was working sixteen and more hours a 
day and liking it In March of 1918 he had been recommended to 
President Wilson as the best-qualified man to head the newly created 
War Finance Corporation. When the recommendation was with- 
drawn at the insistence of Pershing, Dawes heaved a sigh of relief. 

174 Portrait of an American: 

"I do not think I could survive being taken away from this work 
of mine here, to which I am giving and shall give all that is in me/' 
he wrote "Compared with it, nothing that I have done heretofore in 
life seems important." 

He now recommended and himself began the difficult negotia- 
tions leading up to what was to be his supreme achievement, the 
creation of die Military Board of Supply Late in March the Allies 
had reached an agreement for the consolidated command under 
Foch. Dawes* conception was that there should be a coupling up 
of the rear of the three Allied armies, American, French, and British, 
just as the Foch agreement had coupled them up at the front. 

The idea came to Dawes during a visit to his old organization, 
the i7th Engineers, still at St Nazaire. He saw the United States 
building great warehouses there, while French warehouses were 
emptying. He was certain that such waste existed in many other 
activities In effect, the recommendation he sent to Pershing was an 
extension to the French and British armies of the procurement sys- 
tem which Dawes had established for the American Army. 

"For every argument for the Foch command at the front, there 
exist two arguments for a similar authority for supply and transpor- 
tation rn the rear," Dawes wrote to Pershing. "I mean by this supplies 
from America, supplies from France, supplies from England, and the 
land and sea transportation, warehousing, and handling thereof/' 

Pershing approved Dawes' recommendation on April 17, and 
cabled to the War Department that aviation, munitions, coal, horses, 
gasoline, oats, hay, meat, flour, shoes, sugar, wagons, tentage, de- 
mountable barracks, lumber, supply depots, and warehouses were 
the principal items that could be pooled. 

Premier Clemenceau of France gave his sanction to the idea at 
once. "Why hasn't someone thought of this before," he wondered. 
"It will mean an end to tremendous waste in wealth, manpower, and 

The first meeting on the pooling proposal was held in Paris. 
The original intention was to meet at the office of the French Min- 
ister of Armament, but Premier Clemenceau was so strongly in favor 
of the Dawes proposal that the meeting place was changed to the 
waxed-floor, gilded-mirror council room at the Quai D'Orsay. When 


Dawes walked in, he was greeted by Clemenceau and most of his 

Dawes had been told in advance that the British would prob- 
ably strongly oppose. He was not long in finding that this was true. 
Dawes, the sole American representative, took along as interpreter 
Chauncey McCormick, one of the businessmen who took captain's 
commissions under Dawes. The British delegation was headed by 
beribboned, six-foot-eight-inch Lieutenant General Sir John Cowans, 
Quartermaster General of the British Army. Flanking Cowans were 
Sir Andrew Weir, the later Lord Inverforth, Sir J W. Curry, and 
Generals Atkins and Cannot. Colonel Payot and Messieurs Canne 
and Jeanneney represented the French. 

Cowans obviously expected that General Pershing would be 
present. "Extraordinary people!" Dawes heard Cowans say as he 
glanced at the low-rank American representative. 

Cowans rose. He asked: "Is General Pershing here?" 

"No, General Pershing is not here," Dawes replied tartly 

"What?" Cowans exclaimed in astonishment and exasperation, 
and with a patent sneer at Dawes' rank. 

"Well, I am here and, if you have got half as much authority as 
I have, we'll get somewhere." 

Cowans had been facing Dawes and speaking directly to him, 
so low that he could not be heard by the others. There were fifty 
reasons, he told Dawes, why Great Britain could not agree to the 

Dawes rose and faced the audience as he spoke to Cowans. 

"Here you are sent here by your Prime Minister, who has agreed 
to this in principle. And you say you can give fifty reasons why you 
can't agree. You stay here and find one reason to agree to it. We are 
trying to win a war, and we want to find ways to do things." 

After three hours, the meeting broke up without an agreement. 
The British representatives wished to consult their government 

Dawes later explained his attitude: 

"It wasn't my way of dealing, but we were in a war. I knew that 
on my reply to Cowans would depend our relations in the future. 
Cowans was a distinguished military man, and military men like to 
deal with men of equal rank. He had a bed quilt of ribbons and 
medals on his breast, attesting his service to his country. Men would 

176 Portrait of an American: 

rather die than surrender a prerogative, and a prerogative was in- 
volved for England. Realizing that I must shake the English up 
thoroughly if we were to land anywhere, I tried to keep the minds 
of the conferees on the necessities of coordination and to prevent 
the English from focusing attention on the difficulties of the wide- 
spread application of an unquestioned principle." 

Clemenceau and Dawes jointly presided over the second meet- 
ing on May 16. The British did not appear, but filed a written state- 
ment. Pershing and Clemenceau agreed on the pooling plan, whether 
or not Great Britain took part. Pershing, believing die matter so 
urgent that the winning or losing of the war might depend on it, 
dispatched Dawes to London with a plea to Lloyd George to join. 

Dawes arrived in London, paid a courtesy visit to Major General 
John Biddle, commanding the American forces in England, and told 
him of his mission. 

*Td like to make the arrangement for the appointment and go 
along with you/' Biddle said. Dawes agreed. Biddle went to the 
telephone and told the British Premier's secretary: "Colonel Dawes 
is here from General Pershing on what I consider an important mis- 
sion/* An appointment for three o'clock the next day was agreed on. 

Biddle came back from the telephone well pleased. But Dawes 
was astounded: "Why, Biddle, you can't expect me to wait until 
three o'clock tomorrow!" 

Dawes asked if he might call. Biddle agreed, but said that he 
had never been able to get an appointment even as early as the one 
he had gotten for Dawes. 

Dawes got Lloyd George's secretary on the telephone and was 
told that the appointment made by Biddle was the best that could 
be arranged. Any change was "quite impossible, and the request for 
it most irregular/' 

"What?" Dawes roared into the telephone. "I come here on a 
matter of the highest military importance, and you tell me I have to 
wait twenty-four hours?" 

He continued to pour vitriol over the wires, until the secretary 
asked him to wait. Finally the secretary returned to tibe telephone 
and asked Dawes to come over immediately. 

Lloyd George was waiting in the hall. Dawes presented to him 
the letter from Pershing, designating Dawes as the representative of 


the American Army, and containing a copy of the plan whicK 
Pershing and Clemenceau had signed. 

"I am for it," Lloyd George said, "but our War Office is against 

"I believe this statement of the plan is so simple that the British 
War Office cannot misunderstand it or be against it," Dawes said, 

"I'd get the War Council together right now to consider the 
matter, but Lord Milner is in Paris," the Premier said. 

"Isn't Cowans the sticking point? If he is, I would like to talk 
to him," said Dawes. 

"You fix Cowans, and IT1 let you write the British letter of 
acceptance of the plan," Lloyd George replied 

It was Paul D. Cravath, member of the American Mission to 
the Inter-Allied Council on War Purchases and Finance and a friend 
of Dawes, who made the appointment for Dawes with Cowans. 

"Now don't you go over there and be a bull in a china shop. 
Remember, Cowans is intensely British," Cravath warned. 

"He's no more intensely British than I am intensely American," 
Dawes replied. "I think we will get along all right." 

"Cowans was busy writing when I was admitted to his office," 
Dawes later recorded. "His back was to the door. I went over un- 
invited and took the vacant chair by his desk. He looked up sur- 
prised, but was cordial. We soon worked out a satisfactory arrange- 
ment. Cravath, Dwight Morrow, and I wrote the British letter of 

And by three o'clock the next day, the time set for the confer- 
ence, Dawes was on his way to Paris. 

Dawes wrote of the agreement: 

"It clears the way for common sense. The other day, I saw two 
trains of sixty cars each, carrying identical freight, passing each 
other in opposite directions Not a pound of this freight should have 
been moved. There should be no more continued piling-up of 
unnecessary supplies behind one line while another line has a 

Dawes' London visit had also cleared the way for a meeting of 
minds: Cowans and he became close friends from then on, and his 
call on the British Prime Minister marked the beginning of a warm 
friendship with Lloyd George. It was Cowans who later ordered that 

178 Portrait of an American: 

Dawes' portrait be hung in the British War College, and Lloyd 
George who recommended him for the highest British war medal 
Dawes received. 

By autumn of 1917 Dawes had become the talk of Paris He 
smoked long black cigars and wanted a big cup of coffee along with 
his meals where others wanted a demitasse at meal's end. Titles 
meant nothing to him The Countess of Pembroke, family name 
Heibert, wife of Lieutenant Colonel the Earl of Pembroke, was 
"Mrs Pembroke/ 7 Lady Sarah Wilson, a daughter of the Duke of 
Marlborough, "Mrs Wilson " His diary fills in some of the details- 

"The French believe in the sacredness of fixed procedure at a 
dinner. When I told the headwaiter at the Ritz that General Pershing 
was to dine with me and I was ordering dinner in advance, he was 
much distressed because I ordered no soup. His protests were polite 
but extremely insistent Soup should be served, the General would 
expect soup. Was I sure he did not want it? He would prepare it 
anyway and, if the General did not want it, it would not be put on 
the bill Was I very sure that the General could get along without 
soup? "Well/ I finally replied, 'when the General and I patronized 
Don Cameron's lunch counter in Lincoln, Nebraska, he was able to 
get along without soup and nearly everything else I have ordered 
that costs over ten cents!' 

"This remark, designed to arouse the waiter's sense of humor, 
went unnoticed in his profound depression over my obstinacy, and 
so I let him make his soup and pass the question directly to the great 
chieftain himself for decision When the General, dining at my 
expense, decided for soup, the waiter's joy was so evident that the 
threatening sacrilege had not been committed that I was glad for his 
sake I had raised the question/' 

He was a roaring, tearing legendary figure who set the stage for 
important meetings by precipitating acrimonious debate He held 
interest by shocking or amusing men as he drove home his point 
His strictures on incompetence and ineptitude were worth going 
miles to hear. His vocabulary was the most picturesque in the A E F. 
He passed out long cigars Other men liked the cigars and came to 
like him He had utter contempt for time-wasting canons. He looked 
askance at "Allied boards, town meetings, and common-consent 


discussions." His own board was no debating society. He wrote to 

"I never had a meeting of the General Purchasing Board, except 
on minor matters such as the distribution of office space, never on 
determination of action. Our organization is military. The reason 
why our Allied boards fail is because action has to be by a board and 
not by an individual." 

Yet the legend did not take account of the fact that Dawes* 
sometimes unconventional behavior not only served to get things 
done, but had in fact been adopted for this very purpose. Even when 
Dawes was seemingly losing his patience, he knew perfectly well 
what he was doing. A notation in his diary is revealing: 

"In our inter-Allied conferences, whenever I happened to repre- 
sent our Commander in Chief, which was frequently, I soon came to 
employ certain methods to secure early decision When the confer- 
ence was confronted with necessity of agreement on something 
involving a sacrifice to one of the parties, and a bitter difference was 
inevitable, I always endeavored to precipitate the issue immediately 
in the clearest and most distinct way. By smoking cigars, by great 
emphasis, by occasional profanity, no matter how dignified the 
gathering or impressive the surroundings, I generally got everybody 
earnestly in discussion of the very crux of the question in the first half 
hour My disregard of the conventions was studied and had a pur- 
pose. It served to save precious time by dissipating that atmosphere 
of self -consciousness in which men so often commence their negotia- 
tions. By having the session start in comparative acrimony, the 
foundation was laid for a natural reaction which brought good feel- 
ing later on. This would cause everyone to leave the conference in 
better humor than if the fight occurred just before the ending. 

"If the differences between conferees are vital and important 
enough, they will be strongly contested. A perception of this at the 
beginning of a conference, and a courageous meeting of the situa- 
tion, creates rougja sailing for a time but it grows steadily smoother 
at the end. Weak men or vain or conventional men, or even strong 
men at times, by overpoliteness, by overdeference to a nonessential 
environment or strange and dignified surroundings, carefully avoid 
ruffling the waters at first, only to ride later into the inevitable storm. 

i8o Portrait of an American: 

In such cases, all leave the conference annoyed, some by the decision 
and some by the other conferees. In a common cause and a common 
emergency, men should come out of a conference not only with a 
decision, but as friends. 

"Among sincere and honest men in an emergency involving the 
common interest, the quicker disagreeable truth involved in decision 
is met, the surer will be an honest and a quick settlement of respec- 
tive duty. In this, I am not speaking of ordinary conferences among 
ordinary men, but of vital conferences upon which hang great 

His closer associates quickly came to see that there was method 
in Dawes' apparent madness. Harbord, who had opposed Dawes' 
appointment, became one of his staunchest adherents. 

"Dawes is one of the finest characters I have ever known," Har- 
bord noted, "generous, high-minded, straightforward, courageous, 
and very able. Outspoken and apparently impulsive, he generally 
thinks things over in detail and then puts them out in the impulsive 
manner. The air of impulsiveness is no indication that his verbal 
output is not based on due deliberation. He is a winning personality, 
very much of a special pleader, and the master of insidious approach 
Our country has no more devoted and loyal servant than him in the 
performance of a duty that, in my judgment, could not have been so 
well performed by any other living man. And the performance of 
that duty is essential to our ultimate success in the war." 

Even Pershing himself seems occasionally to have used the 
Dawes method. Dawes wrote: 

"General Pershing told me of his violent interview with Foch of 
last Saturday. Pershing said he and Foch called one another every- 
thing in the book. While notes were taken of the interview, they will 
never indicate how important and tense was the issue At one time, 
Foch told Peishing he would appeal to the President of the United 
States. It ended with John's success. Yet Pershing and Foch are great 
friends and will always be so. Each admires the other. Unusual men 
take unusual methods of expression at times, but they never mis- 
understand one another/' 

How well Pershing was satisfied with Dawes' own performance 
may be gathered from a cablegram which he sent to the War Depart- 
ment on January 3, 1918, asking that Dawes be promoted: 


"Colonel Dawes has performed a service which could not have 
been rendered by any other officer. He has coordinated the great 
purchases already made in this command, avoiding competition and 
raising of prices, and resulting in the savings of hundreds of thou- 
sands of tons of shipping. Besides this, he has coordinated our pur- 
chases and those of France and other Allies, and is the author of the 
France-American purchasing agreement. He merits this promotion, 
and his usefulness will be enhanced by it." 

And on a less official occasion, Pershing remarked: 

"Dawes to me is a pearl without price, but I don't think I will 
ever militarize my old friend." 

Dawes himself disagreed on the second point: 

"I am learning to flop up my hand in receiving salutes. I am go- 
ing to be a real soldier yet. This morning, I remembered to put on 
my pants before my shoes." But there is another entry in Dawes* 
diary, showing that his hope to become a genuine military man con- 
tinued to encounter difficulties. It refers to a visit of Pershing and 
Dawes to the headquarters of General Foch. 

"With all his grasp of the great things of military operation and 
organization, General Pershing by no means overlooks the important 
relation of some little things to a general scheme. His mind is cer- 
tainly open to details, no matter how impressive the surroundings. 
My own somewhat pronounced indifference toward certain military 
conventions, born as often of ignorance as intention (although not 
always) is a matter of some embarrassment to him. After he had 
finished his conference with General Foch, he was standing with 
General Harbord across the road from me and some Frenchmen, 
waiting for Foch to take his automobile for his trip to Abbeville to 
see Haig. 

"I saw him looking at me, notwithstanding the sound of the 
cannon, and the general surroundings, with an expression of mingled 
friendliness, admonition, and concern which characterizes his coun- 
tenance during some of my interviews with his better-disciplined 
military associates. It led me to make a hasty self-appraisement in 
which, however, I could surmise no fault. He spoke to Harbord, and 
the latter WjJcedT~across the road to me. As Harbord carefully 
buttoned up'my overcoat, which was opened, including the hooks at 
the top, hemiinnured in my ear, 'This is a hell of a job for the Chief 

Portrait of an American: 

of Staff, but the General told me to do it * Some soldiers told me that, 
in England, there was a kodak shot taken of John with one breast 
pocket unbuttoned. For this picture I am going to search that coun- 
try, to use it for justifiable defense purposes/' 

The Military Board of Allied Supply had hardly set up shop in 
the old Chateau at Coubert when, on September 12, 1918, the 
Americans scored their great triumph at St. Mihiel. For four years 
that salient had defied the hammering of the French Army. Now it 
was in American possession. 

On the very day that St Mihiel fell, Dawes had completed an 
elaborate system of motor regulations to govern, first, road traffic in 
the zone of operations; second, the hauling of troops by mechanical 
transport, third, governing troop movements by mechanical trans- 
port Pershing ordered the regulations put into effect immediately. 
Graduates of a Dawes motor transport school were put on the roads, 
guiding traffic and preventing jams As the American Army moved 
into the Argonne, Dawes somehow got material to extend the normal 
gauge railroad to Varennes. 

'Three times during the last two months of the war, Dawes went 
to the front, bouncing precariously at high speed over badly worn 
and deeply rutted roads On October 5 Pershing ordered him to 
come to Souilly. Again Pershing was to tell him of his battle plan. 
He intended to attack heavily on October 9 at the Meuse and the 
Aire Dawes remained on Pershing's tram until the day after the 
American attack had started at Montfaucon. From there, he kept 
bombarding his two headquarters in Paris and Coubert with calls 
for supplies. 

On October 21 he went again to Pershing's train at Souilly, and 
on the following day was under fire at Fleville, near Grandpr& He 

"Everything is in good shape, and I am confident that, as our 
lines advance, the supplies can be brought up " 

By now, GouraucTs right and Pershing's left were out of the 
Argonne Forest and fighting side by side between Grandpr6 on the 
Aire and Vouziers on the Aisne. Ninety-three thousand animals and 
3,500 motor trucks, capable of carrying a combined load of 20,000 
men with their equipment and supplies, were in operation. Dawes 


was in an automobile accident on his return from Pershing's train to 
Paris, but escaped uninjured He was going back to strong-arm more 

In all his shuttling back and forth from his Pans headquarters 
to the front, and in a half-hundred Pans air raids, Dawes never re- 
ceived a war injury The only time he was ever knocked off his f eet 
if we can trust his own recollection in this matter was in June, 1918, 
when a bomb exploded near his hotel and threw him sitting into a 
rocking chair. 

Pershing opposed an armistice. He believed a complete military 
victory would lessen the chance for future war. Dawes agreed with 

"October 3: May the Lord bring this war to a close soon, pro- 
vided its close marks an enduring peace But this war must be fought 
to a finish, not negotiated to one. 9 ' 

At 5-30 in the morning of November 11, 1918, German repre- 
sentatives put their signatures to an Armistice agreement in a box- 
car in the Forest of Compi&gne At 11 oo o'clock that day, the guns 
on the Western Front fell silent. 

Chapter Thirteen 


Jis Dawes walked down the Place de la Concorde on his 
way to his office in the Elysee Palace Hotel that morning of Novem- 
ber 11, 1918, nothing would have pleased him better than to pack 
up bag and baggage and go home to the United States It is not a 
usual thing for a man of affairs to leave his desk suddenly and go 
away to war, but Dawes had done so eighteen months before. He 
now felt his job was completed. The day for his kind of man in 
uniform had ended. 

Only a part of Paris had yet been given the news of the cease- 
fire as Dawes made his morning appearance at his desk. He was 
greeted with the information that General Pershing wished to speak 
to him on the telephone immediately. Dawes called the Commander 
in Chief at the Chateau Vals des Escoliers at Chaumont. Pershing, 
Dawes thought, had accomplished everything he had come to France 
to do. 

"For the first time since I have been over here, I did not antici- 
pate an emergency, but thought his mind might be on the victory," 
Dawes said in a letter to his mother, describing how the Armistice 
came to him. "It was characteristic of the Cominander in Chief that 
he was hard at work, and what he wanted was to talk over the plan 
for a financial section for the General Staff When I congratulated 
him on his success, he said that he would not consider that he had 
succeeded until the Army was safely back in the United States." 

Dawes himself had some suggestions. 

"I suggested to Pershing that he should issue to the Army chiefs 



of services an order, stopping immediately construction and pur- 
chases not essential to the A.E.F. under the new conditions created 
by the Armistice It seemed to me that such a statement, issued 
on the very day of the Armistice, would not only result in great 
saving through the prompter action of the chiefs of the services, 
but would indicate to the American people that the A.E F. appre- 
ciated its duty to save everything possible in view of the enormous 
sacrifice which our nation had made in order to supply us. 

"At the request of the Commander in Chief, I later dictated over 
the telephone such a suggested statement, first telephoning it to 
Harbord, who approved it. I am anxious to see how the Commander 
in Chief will finally issue the statement. In anything important, 
he usually writes out the matter in longhand, then gives it careful 
revision. As a result, Pershing's individuality is so apparent in his 
orders that I can generally tell from reading the ones he has per- 
sonally prepared He is a great master of English." 

Outside in the streets of Paris, and in its night clubs and ball- 
rooms, there was gaiety and celebrating such as the world had 
seldom seen. The ringing of bells filled the air Women in evening 
clothes and men in the uniforms of a dozen Allied nations filled the 
public places which only a short time ago had stood empty in fear 
of air raids. But Dawes had a job on his hands In constant tele- 
phonic communication with Pershing and Harbord, he was busy 
putting the tremendous business machine of the American Expe- 
ditionary Force into reverse. 

"One does not know how many tens of millions of dollars sav- 
ing to the people of the United States depended upon prompt and 
intelligent action/* he wrote. "I only noticed casually the singing 
and cheering crowds in the streets, and gave myself over unreserv- 
edly to the consideration of orders and instructions to the purchasing 
services under the authority of the Commander in Chief and Com- 
manding General." 

Through Dawes' office the next day began to flow transactions 
reflecting the crisis which the sudden ending of the war had brought 
to Europe. Dawes, whose waking hours for weeks had seldom been 
free of the thought of horses, quickly heard of that animal from 
another angle. Italian General Merrone came to Dawes' headquar- 
ters with a telegram from his government that it held 1,000,000 

i86 Portrait of an American: 

Austrian prisoners, and 200,000 Austrian horses, with no food for 
the prisoners nor hay for the animals. 

Pershmg, Dawes, and Harbord had soon worked out then- 
plan for contract cancellation and methods of liquidation of the im- 
mense property and plant of the American Army in France An order 
by Pershing set up the Advisory Settlement Board of the A.E.F. "to 
consider and recommend policies connected with the disposition of 
war supplies, material, and equipment/" The members of the Board 
were Dawes, Edward R Stettinius, civilian, and Colonel John A. 
Hull, Judge Advocate and Finance Officer of the A E F. 

At the same tune Dawes, driven by the desire to return home 
as soon as possible, was preparing his final reports as member of the 
Military Board of Allied Supply and as General Purchasing Agent 
of the A.E.F. and Chairman of the General Purchasing Board. When 
he looked at the final figure of the supplies he had purchased in 
Europe, even he himself was amazed 

"If anyone had told us at the beginning that this task con- 
fronted us, we should not have believed it possible," he wrote "As 
David must have kept his mind on his slingshot instead of the size 
of Goliath, so it must have been with us/* 

It took him until March of 1919 to prepare the last of his war- 
time reports, that as American member of the Military Board for 
Allied Supply He regarded it as "my most important contribution 
to the military literature of the war, and the most important docu- 
ment which I have ever prepared." But he wondered how many 
would read it. "The world is in a crisis, and Europe will remain in 
one indefinitely, so the minds of this generation will not concern 
themselves largely with retrospect." 

Even before one job was completed, there came calls for Dawes 
to help in another one. 

The first call came again from Herbert Hoover, who wished to 
draft Dawes as chairman of a military commission which was to go 
to Berlin and take charge of relief of die German civilian population 
Had Dawes been free at that moment, he might well have followed 
Hoover's call. 

"In the great press of work of the last week, my visits and 
work with Herbert Hoover remain in memory. He outlined his plans 
for feeding Europe, so far as it has been possible to formulate them. 


His present liaison with our Army is through my office. He shared 
my frugal lunch on the office" desk the other day. 

"He impresses me more each time I see him. He is clear, dis- 
tinct, intensely practical, fearless, and possessed of the widest per- 
spective. He is essentially a man of action/' Dawes added: "In view 
of the disturbed conditions in Berlin and the interesting nature of 
the work, my inclination toward adventure was somewhat involved." 

While Pershing had vetoed Hoover's request, on the ground that 
Dawes "cannot be spared from his present service," he himself urged 
Dawes to accept when, in February of 1919, Secretary of War Baker 
asked Dawes to become the military member of the United States 
Liquidation Commission, of which die civilian members were to be 
Judge Edwin B. Parker of Texas, former United States Senator 
Henry B. Hollis of New Hampshire, and Homer H. Johnson of 
Cleveland, Ohio. 

"Here I am," Dawes wrote after he had accepted, "head over 
heels in a mean and thankless task, but one which I have no hon- 
orable right to decline. Had I not long ago decided to sink personal 
considerations in this war service, I should have avoided this posi- 
tion as I would have avoided the smallpox. The "going is good* for 
me to leave the Army now, but to stay as a member of a commission 
to sell its assets is to work hard without the incentive of a war pur- 
pose, to run the risk of making serious mistakes which will result 
in attacks upon one's motives; in other words, to risk the reputation 
for success which I now have for no adequate personal purpose. 

"However, the way things have been put to me, I should feel 
like a skunk if I did not do it. There is no patriotism in what I am 
doing, only a desire not to shirk what I am really qualified to do 
and what I ought to do. Somehow, it is not so inspiring to work 
at saving money for one's government as to work at helping save its 
life And this is what I had looked forward to as the time when I 
should be leaving for America!" 

On the night of his appointment as a member of the Liquidating 
Commission, Dawes went with Hoover to be decorated Commander 
of the Legion of Honor by Clementel, French Minister of Com- 
merce, "who inexpressibly horrified me by kissing me on both cheeks 
before a large audience, of which the American part must have been 
tremendously amused. As we sat at the table together, I told Hoover 

i88 Portrait of an American: 

our old friends in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Marietta, Ohio, who 
knew us better, would never have made the mistake of making either 
of us so prominent or of kissing us/* 

The task of the Liquidating Commission, it soon became obvi- 
ous, would require six months. There were American war supplies 
of a nominal value of $1,500,000,000 scattered in all parts of war-rav- 
aged France. At home, the United States had an unneeded stockpile 
worth $2,000,000,000. Great Britain had approximately $2,000,000- 
ooo worth of supplies in France, and France itself had an immense 

"Transportation facilities for this stock in France are limited," 
Dawes wrote. "Its value is lessening with time. France, as a govern- 
ment, is in financial straits, and yet it is the logical purchaser of our 
property. Our negotiations are rendered more difficult by the com- 
plicated intergovernmental credit situation. It is necessary to deal 
upon the highest plane and with great energy. Whatever we do will 
be criticized, but I prefer to be criticized for doing something in- 
stead of nothing/' 

Payot, Dawes' French coadjutor on the Military Board of Allied 
Supplies, had once said sadly: "Both Dawes and I work sixteen hours 
a day. But Dawes spends all his time fighting the Germans. I work 
four hours fighting the Germans, and twelve hours fighting my own 
people." Now again, Dawes would be irked by the fact that the 
representatives of other nations were unwilling, or perhaps unable, 
to keep pace with him. But since his work was no longer a matter 
of life and death, he was able to take a humorous view of his diffi- 

"It amuses me to think what must have been the first impressions 
of me received by those splendid officers and dear friends (so used 
to conventional military methods of statements and address ) when, 
breathing fire and brimstone, I made incursions into the system. My 
mind then was fixed upon the red-hot poker of dire necessity pressed 
upon the lower part of my back, and I was oblivious to nicety of 
expression or conventional forms of military salutation. Now I am 
by degrees relapsing into more placid and dignified ways befitting 
a banker and businessman/* 

It was not until early July that the Liquidating Commission re- 
ceived its first firm offer from the French for the purchase of Amen- 


can supplies. On July 24 the Commission accepted the offer. That 
night, Payot and Dawes Lad their last dinner together: 

"We couldn't talk to each other, having no interpreter, but we 
just sat around and felt badly about separating/* 

On March 2-8, 1919, Pershing had conferred upon Dawes the 
Distinguished Service Medal "for the magnificent service you ren- 
dered the common cause/' Decorations from other nations followed 
in quick succession: On May 4, at Tours, he was made a Companion 
of the Bath, Harbord and other officers being decorated at the same 
tune. On June 17 King Albert of Belgium conferred upon him the 
Commander of the Order of Leopold and on July 16 he received 
the Croix de Guerre. The Italian decoration, Commander of SS 
Maurice and Lazarus, came next. But to Dawes, who had declined 
Pershing's offer that he ride as a member of the Commander's Staff 
in the Peace Parade in Paris on July 14, since "to ride in it means 
I cannot see it," decorations meant little or nothing. 

"One of the most difficult things to do is to refrain from ac- 
cepting undeserved credit," he wrote "I have been so accustomed 
to associating ceremony with nonaccomphshment since, in civil life, 
it is the chief resource of those desirous of publicity, whether de- 
served or not, that I confess I was not overcome on these occasions. 

"The value of ceremony as a social power is unquestioned. It can- 
not be dispensed with without destroying one of the great incentives 
of human effort and one of the useful agencies of proper govern- 
mental and social discipline. But in all my negotiations as an Army 
officer in inter-Allied conferences, I fought it as a bar to progress 
and understanding. In proportion as men are right-minded and in- 
telligent, ceremony is unessential in their relations * 

How much decorations meant to others than himself, Dawes 
was soon to learn when he was assigned with the duty of making 
up a list of men to receive the Distinguished Service Medal. 

"The craze for decoration among all peoples is an amazing 
phenomenon/' he wrote. "Let a man receive praise from press, pulpit, 
and everywhere else for service, but fail to give him that ribbon, 
and he feels as if he has been disgraced. 

"The heart-burnings among officers who have not received the 
Distinguished Service Medal, when they unquestionably deserve it, 

igo Portrait of an American: 

leads me to question the advisability in our country of any govern- 
mental system tending toward the creation of classes, the disap- 
pointment of the unpreferred is apt to be directed toward the 
government as well as toward its agent m decoration distribu- 
tion. . . . 

"The Decoration Board of the A.E.F. is swamped with thou- 
sands of requests for reconsideration of disapprovals of the D S M 
As a matter of fact, it has been impossible, and always will be im- 
possible, to discriminate justly in the distribution of awards in a 
large army, because of the very vastness of the task which prevents 
a consideration of all the cases from the viewpoint of the same 
minds An officer of the A EJF. who has succeeded in his task, has 
been promoted, has been commended by his superior officers and 
associates, should not feel himself reflected upon because he has not 
received one of the few Distinguished Service Medals distributed 
among millions of men. And yet some of them do, and I greatly 
regret it. 

"The world 'will little note nor long remember' even our names, 
much less the minor things relating to our personal vanity. I suppose, 
as one who has received much more recognition than he deserved, 
it is easy for me to recommend philosophy to those who have been 
unjustly treated But, when I find disappointment so keen and rage 
so blinding that I have to endure patiently an attack on the system 
and everybody connected with it, including intimations that I have 
not been duly active for my friends, all because I have failed in 
strenuous recommendations to have the D S.M awarded where it 
is deserved, I come to realize that the system is questionable. 

"How little anyone cares to hear of our failures and grievances. 
If the world was not cold, human vanity would demand all its time 
and energy expended in sympathizing with grouches. Realizing, es- 
pecially this morning, that this is a very cold world after a conversa- 
tion with some officers who did not get the D S M., I suggested to 
them the following paraphrase: "Weep, and the world laughs at 
you, laugh, and you laugh alone ' This did not seem to comfort them, 
their sense of humor being submerged, along with their other facul- 
ties, in deep pessimism/' 

When the Liquidating Commission had completed its work, 


Dawes, on August 2, sailed out of Brest Harbor on the freshly painted 
Leviathan, a great contrast to the Carmania, splashed and daubed 
in camouflage, zigzagging through the submarine zones when 
Dawes had come over. He carried as his most prized possession a 
sword selected for him and engraved to him by Pershing 

As Dawes returned to Chicago directly from the port of de- 
barkation, he was greeted by a Presidential boom. In an interview 
William Jennings Bryan said he thought Dawes the man most likely 
to appeal to both progressives and conservatives in the Republican 
party Bryan added: "Dawes' personal character is impeccable." 
Replying to a letter in which Bryan had also mailed a copy of the 
interview, Dawes wrote: 

"Your letter written to me from Washington did not reach me 
for a long time. As for politics, I enclose an authentic interview in 
this morning's Chicago Tribune which, I think you will agree, dis- 
poses of the question. From the time I left politics nearly twenty 
years ago, I have never had any idea of re-entering, and will not 
do so under any circumstances. Just the same, I appreciate your 
kindly thought of me which prompted your interview and letter " 

If the office held any lure for him, still Dawes would not have 
sought the Presidency His friend of a quarter of a century, Frank 
O. Lowden, whose record as Governor of Illinois had been out- 
standing, was an active candidate with Dawes' full support. Dawes 
knew also that some Republicans would object to him violently 
since he had become a vigorous champion of Woodrow Wilson's 
conduct of the war, and had defended the peace treaty. 

"This peace conference," he had written from Paris, 'lias prob- 
ably done the very best it was possible to do in the environment in 
which it acted When the environment is forgotten and the uncon- 
qu^rable necessities of an actual situation do not confront the critic, 
there will be much international literature devoted to a demonstra- 
tion of how much better a treaty would have resulted if the nations 
had summoned the critics to the conference instead of their greatest 
men. The highest art of criticism, as a rule, is developed only in those 
personally incapable of constructive accomplishment," 

And in a newspaper article he had added- 

"I have faith that the honest judgment of the American people 
will be forced to the same conclusion as was that of the representa- 

Portrait of an American: 

tives of all governments signing the treaty, to wit: that, since it was 
impossible for any of them to have in the treaty all they would de- 
sire, they would accept the best treaty possible. 

"I therefore look forward to an ultimate rally of American 
public sentiment behind it, faulty as it may seem to us in certain 
details, as embodying the hopes of a better future for ourselves and 
the world. 

"As a people who would not evade or shirk the responsibilities 
which our own sovereign decision to enter the war has brought upon 
us, we should lift our eyes and efforts from the smaller aspects of 
our situation, and ratify in its entirety this great treaty of peace in 
which thirty nations have at last composed their differences after 
the most terrible war of all time." 

He was outspoken against those who had attempted to ob- 
struct the war effort after the United States cast its lot with the 
Allies. In a speech at Cincinnati, he said: 

"There is no better interior decoration for an American jail 
than those scoundrels who stabbed the country in the back during 
the war. Hell, when we get Grover Bergdoll in jail, it will be time 
enough to talk about getting Eugene Debs out/* 

While Dawes succeeded in squelching his boom, talk of Per- 
shing as the Republican nominee continued and caused him real 

Pershing had brushed aside politicians who talked to him 
about the Presidential race. But in Lincoln there lived one of 
Pershing's University of Nebraska cadets, Mark W Woods Grown 
wealthy by 1920, Woods had made an effort to get his old instructor 
to make a try for the White House He got little encouragement 
from Pershing, but put the AE.F. Commander's name in the Ne- 
braska Presidential preference primary anyway. In a hotly con- 
tested three-way race between Pershing, Major General Leonard 
Wood, and Senator Hiram Johnson of California, the primary was 
carried by Johnson. 

While Pershing had little interest in the Presidency for himself, 
he was fearful that the nomination would go to Leonard Wood, for 
whom he had no great admiration either as a soldier or a statesman. 
Pershing's Nebraska vote did prevent Wood from carrying a state 
which had been conceded to him. That result could not have been 


displeasing to Pershing. It was a painful blow to the heavily financed 
Wood campaign. 

The temperature outside of the Chicago Coliseum, where the 
Republican national convention was in session, stood at 96 in the 
late afternoon of the second Friday in June, 1920. Inside, it must 
have been a good ten degrees hotter. There was not so much as a 
timid breeze in all Chicago. 

After the fourth ballot for the Republican nomination for Presi- 
dent, Leonard Wood was leading Lowden by a narrow margin 
Harding had received only 6i& votes. Seventeen candidates in all 
had received votes for the Presidential nomination The coatless, 
collarless delegates had sweltered, screamed, and paraded through 
the aisles for ten solid hours in a field day of oratory and demon- 
strations. Even "Tieless Joe" Talbert of South Carolina peeped over 
his high collar to observe it was the hottest convention day in his 

From the Pennsylvania delegation, at the end of the fourth bal- 
lot, came a motion to adjourn. Chairman Henry Cabot Lodge put 
the motion. There was a good volume of ayes, a thunderous roar 
of noes. Apparently the motion had been defeated, but Lodge de- 
clared it carried and walked off the platform. Had the convention 
continued in session for another ballot or two that day, Lowden 
might have been nominated. The next day, after the long night 
meeting in Col. George Harvey's smoke-filled room, it was a dif- 
ferent story. Harding, far back in the early balloting, rushed forward 
to take the nomination. 

Pershing, who had believed he would be compelled to leave the 
Army if Leonard Wood was elected President, jubilantly telegraphed 
to Dawes his pleasure at Wood's defeat: "Could anything be better? 
The victory is ours. I die content." 

On the morning of February 2, 1921, Charles G. Dawes got off 
a train in Washington and walked to the Capitol. He had been 
offered, and it was generally believed at that time would accept, 
the post of Secretary of the Treasury in the Harding Cabinet. But 
it was other business that brought him to Washington this day. 
He was to appear, an hour later, before the House Committee on 
War Expenditures, a body formed after the Republicans won con- 

194 Portrait of an American. 

trol of Congress in the 1918 election. The chairman of the Committee 
was Representative William J. Graham of Illinois. 

The Graham Committee had a unique history. It had begun 
its hearings in 1919 and, by the date of Dawes* appearance, had 
taken thirteen million words of testimony, bound in twenty volumes 
of thirteen hundred pages each 

At the beginning of the investigation, a subcommittee of the 
Graham Committee had gone to France and asked for Pershing's 
records. When it was found that the records, packed in one hundred 
and eighty shipping boxes, were aboard the boat on which Pershing 
was to return, the Graham Committee abandoned that phase of the 
hearing and summoned Judge E. B. Parker, chairman of the Liqui- 
dating Committee. 

Parker, famous for his mastery of detail, appeared before the 
inquisitors, bringing with him three boxes of records, each so heavy 
it required two soldiers to carry it. 

The first question addressed to Parker was 

"Why was this large number of airplanes burned by the Army 
in France instead of being salvaged?" 

Parker went into his box for the records His answer to the one 
question consumed an hour. The surprised Committee promptly ad- 
journed with the statement to Parker that his answer had been so 
complete and satisfactory, they felt justified in assuming that all 
the business on which he was called to testify had been completed 
properly and in the best interests of the United States. 

The summons to testify came to Dawes nearly two years after 
the Committee had begun its work A week before his appearance, 
Charles M. Schwab had been on the stand. The Committee had 
been brutal in its questioning, and the industrialist, believing the 
Committee was reflecting on his integrity, burst into tears 

Dawes resented the Committee's call He was a busy man. He 
arrived in Washington on the morning he was to testify, and walked 
around the Capitol park for an hour, waiting for the Committee 
to assemble. The longer he walked, the angrier he got At ten 
o'clock, he went to the Committee room. There was less than a 
quorum present One or two newspapermen sat at the press tables. 
The audience was limited to two wealthy Washington spinsters, the 


Patten sisters, who attended every Congressional hearing to which 
they could gam admittance. 

The scene was to become more animated in short order In 
the first thirty minutes of his testimony Dawes had given a sufficient 
preview of his spirit to bring newspaper reporters scurrying to the 
press table By noon, every seat in the hearing room was filled and 
Capitol police were holding back crowds which tried to get in 

"You were the purchasing agent for the American Expeditionary 
Forces' 5 " asked Representative Oscar E. Bland, Republican, of In- 

"I was," Dawes answered in the only mild tone of voice he used 
during his seven hours' appearance. 

"Is it not true that excessive prices were paid for some articles?" 
Bland continued. 

"When Congress declared war, did it expect us to beat Germany 
at twenty per cent discount?" Dawes ripped back. "Sure, we paid 
high prices Men were standing at the front to be shot at We had 
to get them food and ammunition. We didn't stop to dicker. Why, 
man alive! We had a war to win! It was a man's job!" 

"Is it not true that excessive prices were paid for mules ?" Bland 
went on. 

"Helen UanaT 

Dawes had jumped from his chair. He strode to the front of 
the long mahogany Committee table. "I would have paid horse prices 
for sheep, if the sheep could have pulled artillery to the front! 

"Oh, it's all right to say we bought too much vinegar and too 
many cold chisels, but we saved the civilization of the world! Damn 
it, our diplomatic system was a failure Our American ministers 
would not cooperate with us, even though it was a matter of life 
and death for our soldiers. They were all tangled up in State De- 
partment red tape. This thing of pink-tea diplomatic officials is fatal 
in time of war. English diplomacy was as bad as ours Brigade after 
brigade was without horses. To get vitally needed horses from Spain 
we had to send men there with money in their pockets. We bought 
smuggled mules in the Pyrenees in the middle of the night. 

"There was nothing pink-tea about the way we handled it. 
There was no time for conventionalities or unlimited debate. Why, 
we actually hired an outfit of professional smugglers, the like of 

196 Portrait of an American: 

which you never saw outside of Carmen, to get those horses into 
France. For weeks, we had these smugglers leading horses and mules 
up and down the dark mountain defiles of the Pyrenees, delivering 
them at dead of night with mystic pass words and all of that. They 
were not nice men, but they got the mules out of Spain and we got 
them to the front, and the horses dragged the cannon 

"We asked France for horses. We were told: If we take these 
horses off the farms at harvest time, we will have a revolution.' Our 
argument was that, if we could not put the artillery into the Argonne 
for our men, the Germans would come through and take their horses 
and take all France/* 

By now, Dawes was roaring 

"The American people do not support any such monkey busi- 
ness as is going on here. If you men would spend more time trying 
to stem the millions of waste going on under your noses instead of 
trying to put fly specks on the United States Army, we would have 
a lot better government. 

"Long after this Committee is dead and gone and forgotten, 
the achievement of the American Army will stand in an everlasting 
blaze of glory. You have tried to make a mountain out of a mole 
hill. The people are tired of war talk and faultfinding. Thank God, 
the Army was American, not Democratic or Republican. 

"I tell you the people are not interested in this Committee. 
If I were not here, strutting and swearing, there would be no news 
in this. I bitterly resent this effort to reflect upon the entire Army 
because some poor devils blundered in Switzerland You cannot put 
a blotch upon the Army What the Hell did we go in for to steal 
money?' 1 

"Were there not grafters who followed the American Army?" 
a Committee member asked. 

"Yes, they were there!" Dawes snapped, "Some of the most 
despicable characters on earth, trying to help the Army by selling 
it things it needed at exorbitant figures. There was one man we 
caught and deported. What's his name? Oh, what's the use! I'm 
not a muckraker. He was a traitor/* 

No witness had ever talked in such a way to a Congressional 
Committee. But the investigators sat spellbound while Dawes con- 


"If members of Congress had been there and their minds had 
been open and wise, you would have done the same thing as the 
Army did in the matter of prices/' he said "When it comes to a 
question of necessity, you never have any trouble with politics. 

"I have no reason to hold this Committee in high esteem. I am 
here today to do what I can to put an end to the detestable official 
effort to blacken American military achievement for political and 
partisan purposes. 

"Give the War Department some credit. Considering every- 
thing, the record of what was done by the War Department in 
getting ready for war shows a greater accomplishment than that 
of France or Great Britain for the same period of time. I don't 
believe you can pick flaws there, and I am not speaking as a Demo- 

"There were hounds in this country who tried to spread the 
news that Pershing was at the theater the night of the Armistice. 
He was there hke hell! He was at his office, starting the work of 
canceling vast war contracts to save money/' 

Dawes' last remark had given one of the investigators an idea. 
Promptly the question came: 

"What about the surplus food and clothing in France? Could 
the Liquidating Commission not have obtained more than the 
$400,000,000 it received?" 

"I was a member of that Liquidating Commission/' Dawes re- 
torted. "You can give me all the hell you want because I sold a lot 
of junk to the French for $400,000,000 instead of keeping 40,000 
soldiers there to guard it while we tried to peddle it. My conscience 
hurts me sometimes when I think we charged too much! It is just 
that sort of fool talk that forced Great Britain to hold on to its stock 
and attempt to drive a hard bargain. The stuff is there today, rotting. 
England lost billions by listening to that sort of bunk listening to 
a lot of people who were afraid of muckrakers at home They are 
raising the devil in England now because England did not sell its 
supplies when we sold. There is no use throwing mud when you were 
not there to know the conditions." 

For seven hours, Dawes spoke his mind in terms that could not 
be misunderstood. "A man had either to cry or swear/' he said when 
it was all over. "Charley Schwab did the crying and Charley Dawes 

198 Portrait of an American: 

did the swearing. I accomplished my purpose I might have done 
it without profanity, but this is doubtful." 

Dawes did accomplish his purpose beyond a doubt "I think 
I speak for the Committee/' said Subcommittee Chairman Johnson 
of South Dakota, "when I say we wish there were more witnesses 
as truthful and unafraid " 

Dawes' name leaped to the front pages of the country's news- 
papers His printed testimony was a bestseller at the Government 
Printing Office. But the public was cheated, his speech had been 
emasculated by deletions and omissions. The deletions were be- 
cause of the swear words, omissions because, Committee members 
said, he often spoke too fast for the stenographers to take it down. 

Dawes was already on his way back to Chicago There he re- 
ceived a telegram from Pershing: "All Washington is agog over your 
splendid testimony, and they approve of it in every detail even to 
the cuss words." 

But more than the cuss words had been eliminated in the official 
record of the hearing The expression "Helen Maria," a f amiliar phrase 
to him in his Nebraska days, had also disappeared Even the news- 
papers had misunderstood it It was quoted as "Hell and Maria/' 
Thus misspelled, it was to enter the Dawes legend as his favorite 

Chapter Fourteen 


immediately upon his inauguration on March 4, 
President Warren G Harding asked Dawes to head a committee 
to investigate and recommend reorganization of the War Risk 
Board later the Veterans Bureau and to formulate plans for the 
proper care of the veterans of World War I 

There were eleven members on the committee, among them 
wealthy Miss Mabel T. Boardman, Secretary of the American Red 
Cross. As the committee sat down to its first meeting m Washington, 
each member found at his place a note requesting his presence at 
a social affair at Miss Boardman's house that night. 

Dawes walked in and convened the committee m his usual brisk 
manner. He picked up the note from Miss Boardman, as well as 
another note telling him that a suite of seven rooms had been 
fitted out for his use in a new building on the site of the old Arling- 
ton Hotel 

"How long do you think we are going to be here?" Dawes asked 
the War Risk Bureau Director. 

"Six or seven months." 

"Well, I am not going to be here even six or seven days," Dawes 
snapped. Then, turning to Miss Boardman, he said: 

"Now, Miss Boardman, we are not going to your party tonight, 
or to any other social event, until we solve this problem. Further- 
more, I see the Surgeon General sitting there. We are going to give 
him just fifteen minutes for his testimony, and that will apply to all 
other witnesses If we can't get all we want in that time, perhaps 


200 Portrait of an American: 

we can extend it slightly, but I don't think we will have to do so." 
With a groan, the committee buckled down to work. On the 
third day its report was in preparation, and Dawes went home 
He had given Washington a sample of efficiency and economy as 
he understood them. President Harding was to ask at once for more 
of the same. 

Harding and Dawes had first met in June of 1920, two days 
before Harding was nominated for the Presidency of the United 
States, At that time, Dawes had been doing everything in his power 
to promote the candidacy of his intimate friend Frank O. Lowden. 

"I think," Lowden had said as he and Dawes sat alone in a 
private room of Lowden's campaign headquarters, "that, as the 
host governor of the State of Illinois and as a candidate, I should 
pay a courtesy call on all the other candidates, and I want you to 
go with me/' 

With a dozen or more open and receptive candidates, this was 
a considerable chore, but the two old friends trudged bravely from 
headquarters to headquarters, Harding was the most affable of all 
the candidates. He wondered why he had never met Dawes before, 
had high praise for Dawes* brother Beman, whom he had known 
for many years; and said he had been much interested in a magazine 
article Dawes had written: "How a President Can Save a Billion 

After his election, Harding telephoned Dawes at once and asked 
if it would be convenient for him to come to Marion for a conference 
At Marion, Harding said without qualification: 

"I am going to offer you the first post I have offered to anyone 
in the Cabinet. I want you to be my Secretary o the Treasury, and 
let's save that billion dollars you wrote about/' 

But Dawes shook his head. The Secretary of the Treasury, he 
told the President, was not the man to make the savings. The only 
way in which economy in government could be practiced was 
through the enactment of legislation providing for an executive 

"Only in this manner can you inaugurate a system of coordi- 
nating business control over the various departments which for 132- 
years have been almost completely decentralized 


"The one way the law can be made to work after it is enacted 
is for the President of the United States to make it work. As long 
as the President of the United States is not indifferent to his duty, 
budget law or no budget law, the system will work. But let the 
impression be created in the business organization of the government 
that the President's eye and the eyes of his agents are not watchful, 
budget law or no budget law, the system will fail. Nothing should 
be allowed to divert the attention of the public from the duty and 
power of the President to a machine which without him would be 
as dead as a locomotive without water or coal. 

"A Cabinet member cannot do the job. As Secretary of the 
Treasury and a member of the Cabinet, I could not tell other mem- 
bers of the Cabinet what to do. But, as your assistant secretary or 
as assistant President or whatever you might call it, I could, if I 
could sit by your side and issue executive orders. Just because the 
United States Government is the biggest business in the world, there 
is no reason why it should be the worst run. But only one man can 
make it run right, and that is the President of the United States/' 

But Harding was not quite convinced. He persisted in his belief 
that the Secretary of the Treasury was the man to balance the 
budget, and that Charles Dawes would be that man. 

In the light of subsequent history, Harding's discussion o Cabi- 
net possibilities with Dawes that day was an interesting one. 

"I would like to appoint Fall Secretary of State. I have great 
confidence in him and respect for his ability. I think Fall's appoint- 
ment would please the Theodore Roosevelt following, for you know 
Roosevelt selected Fall to put him in nomination for the Presidency 
four years ago. Fall is a bigger man than he is given credit for being, 
but the country probably would not take to his appointment as Sec- 
retary of State. I am going to offer the post to Hughes, but he is not 
my preference for the place. I would much rather have Fall 

"I am determined to have Hopver in my Cabinet. He is going 
to be the hard one to get. Penrose and Philander Knox are dead set 
against him. They say he ran for the Presidential nomination, or at 
least allowed the use of his name, in the Democratic primary in 
Michigan. They don't like him because they think he is a Democrat 
and, even regardless of that, they just don't want him/' 

202 Portrait of an American. 

Harding concluded their Marion talk with the startling state- 

"Dawes, now that this frightening job is in my lap, I don't know 
why I ever wanted it. I have been very happy in the Senate. I want 
to be a good President for four years, and that is all I want. Barring 
a financial panic such as Grover Cleveland had to contend with in 
ninety-three, the Republicans will have a long tenure in control 
I'd like to see you nominated and elected President in 1924. I will 
do what I can to help you." 

Dawes passed over the remark with a polite pleasantry. He 
never mentioned it to anybody but one or two close friends In fact 
the extent of Harding's faith in Dawes did not become public until 
Vice-President Curtis died in 1936. Among Curtis' memoirs, which 
he had kept private to the end, was the report of a visit he 
had paid to the President in 1923, as Harding was leaving on the 
Alaska trip never to return to Washington Curtis had urged Harding 
at that time to run again in 1924, lest Calvin Coohdge should become 
the Presidential nominee. 

"Charley, you are not worried about that little fellow in Massa- 
chusetts, are you?" Harding replied 

A moment later, Curtis said, President Harding turned to him, 
put his hand on his shoulder, and said 

"Charley Dawes is the man who is going to succeed mel" 

A month later, Harding was dead, and Coolidge President. 

But that was three years later. Dawes left Harding, after their 
Marion talk, with the impression that the proffer of the Secretary of 
Treasury portfolio was open to him, but he had not accepted. 
Harding apparently felt that the matter was settled. When William 
Howard Taft visited Marion on December 24, Harding told him 
that he had offered Cabinet places to Hughes, Dawes, and Hoover, 
and seemed confident that all would accept. 

In Florida in January Dawes asked Harding to put him out of 
consideration for Secretary of the Treasury, saying: "As much as I 
would like to see your Administration a success, Senator, nothing 
could tempt me into public life now, except possibly Director of the 
Budget, if that office is created, and that I would take only a year 
for the purpose of putting it in running order." 

Harding said he agreed with reluctance, but added: 


"Please don't let it be known that you have been offered and 
refused to be Secretary of the Treasury I still have not been able 
to remove Penrose's and Knox's objections to Hoover. I would be 
inclined to make Mellon Secretary of the Treasury if the Pennsyl- 
vania Senators would end their objection to Hoover. Mellon prob- 
ably has too much money for a Secretary of the Treasury. I may 
get as much criticism over his appointment as I would if I put J. P. 
Morgan in that place." 

When Harding volunteered that he intended to appoint Harry 
M. Daugherty, who had been his campaign manager, as Attorney 
General, Dawes protested that it would be a bad appointment, 
Dawes said He quoted Harding's reply: 

"Well, I wouldn't be here (President-Elect) but for him He 
has asked me for the place, and I am going to give it to him. Other 
people, too, have advised me as you have. But I would not be right 
with myself if I did not appoint Harry." 

When Dawes' decision became known, Pershing wrote him from 

"I think your declining the place of Secretary of the Treasury 
is the biggest thing you ever did. You are in so much better position 
to say things that need saying than you would be if you were an of- 
ficial. You know very well your distinct personality was never in 
subjection while you served in the A E.F., and you could never have 
accomplished the splendid work you did had I in the least under- 
taken to curb or restrict it, which I never thought of doing, as you 

In June of 1921 Dawes booked passage to Europe for himself 
and his family. No sooner had he done so than Congress passed the 
Budget Act and Harding asked him to become the first Budget 
Director. Dawes agreed, upon the stipulation that "the Bureau of 
the Budget shall be impersonal, impartial, and nonpolitical." Unless 
it was and always remained so, it would fail. 

"You must realize that you are the first President to tackle the 
job of a coordinated business control over the departments/' he told 
Harding "I doubt if you recognize the strength of the 150 years 
of archaisms which you must fight. 'Delay, linger, and wait!' is the 
watchword of bureaucracy." 

The President promised Dawes to support him with all his au- 

204 Portrait of an American: 

thority. Dawes canceled his steamship reservations, came to Wash- 
ington, and at once began to set up the Budget Bureau. 

"Under the law, the Director of the Budget acts under the au- 
thority of the President and, after my conference with him, there 
was left no doubt of the earnestness of his purpose. I knew that all 
the rest of my life I would be cursed with regret if I did not attempt 
the work of establishing correct business methods in the govern- 
mental administration of our country." 

In a city where everyone was demanding mahogany furniture, 
Dawes emphasized economy by scraping together enough old oak 
furniture from Government warehouses to equip his office under the 
eaves of the Treasury Building. 

The auguries for success in Government saving, Dawes be- 
lieved, were good There was a then-popular President who had 
been voted into office by the greatest landslide in the nation's his- 
tory In the light of later Government expenditures, a billion-dollar 
saving might seem negligible. But to a nation unaccustomed to debt, 
the more than twenty-three billion dollar deficit of three years of 
war budgets seemed enormous. With war taxes still in effect, there 
was a clamor for a reduction in expenditures and for retirement of 
the national debt 

Dawes' first step was to meet the Cabinet en masse in the of- 
fice, and in the presence, of the President, and to explain his c'oncept 
of his present assignment. The Budget Bureau was concerned only 
with the humbler and routine business of government; it was con- 
cerned with no question of policy except economy and efficiency. 

"A Cabinet officer, as I see him," said Dawes, *is on the bridge 
with the President, advising him on the direction in which the ship 
shall sail. He is concerned with matters of the highest importance. 
But, at the same time, that Cabinet officer, under our Constitution, 
is charged with responsibility for a limited portion of the common 
machinery of the ship. He will not properly serve the captain of 
the ship or its passengers, the public, if he resents the call of the 
Director of the Budget from the stokehole, put there by the captain 
to see that coal is not wasted. In whatever direction, as a matter 
of policy, those in higher place and authority may turn the ship, 
the way the coal is handled and conserved determines how far in 
a given direction the ship will sail/' 


In his diary, Dawes explained the purpose and the effect of this 

"The important thing I wanted to do with the Cabinet was to 
create the impression that helpfully and sympathetically, with 
common sense and proper appreciation of the rights and sensibilities 
of others, these principles were to stand now and for all tune as the 
rock of the budget system of the United States. In order to create 
this impression and to deal with the peculiar psychology of the 
situation, I started mildly and precisely, gradually precipitating one 
or two personal controversies which I handled firmly, all with the 
approval of the President who knew exactly what I had in mind. 
The entire Cabinet, however, believed, in my judgment, that what- 
ever rights were given to me by the President, I would not be timid 
about exercising, and that was my principal idea in meeting them/' 

His most important allies, Dawes knew, would be the many 
hundreds of bureau chiefs and supervisors who could effect econo- 
mies each in his own sphere of authority. Accordingly, one of his 
first recommendations to the President was a system of promotions 
and salary increases among those bureau chiefs who made savings. 
This proposal was a subject of Dawes' talk at the meeting of the 
entire business administration of the government which he had 
called for the day following his session with the Cabinet. 

President Harding, Vice-President Coolidge, General Pershing, 
the members of the Cabinet, and twelve hundred bureau chiefs and 
routine officers of the Government tramped into the auditorium for 
the first such meeting in the nation's history The chiefs of these 
routine business organizations were the men who, through all the 
history of modern government, had been systematically asking for 
more appropriations than they needed, the old system of asking 
for a little fat to make sure the appropriation would last the year out. 

Dawes used no pyrotechnics. He spoke in a low, earnest, kindly, 
conversational tone. He had praise for "the tens of thousands of loyal 
Government men and women who, in this immediate emergency, 
must be chiefly depended upon to reduce the present terrible cost 
of governmental administration," 

At the end, with a touch of old-fashioned evangelism, he called 
on all those who would cooperate to rise. The entire audience rose. 

"I am glad to say," Dawes noted in his diary, "that an attitude 

Portrait of an American: 

of cooperation exists already so far as the Treasury Department is 
concerned. Indicating what sort of a man is at the head of this 
Department, in his conception of the necessities of the present and 
the future of the Budget Bureau, Secretary Mellon walked upstairs 
to my office. He did this because he regarded it as necessary in con- 
nection with a call from me for information needed by the Presi- 
dent of the United States. It will be an historic walk in the annals of 
the Budget Bureau/' 

Dawes* attitude would not always remain as amiable as it had 
been in the first session At the very next meeting, before an audience 
as large as that of the first, and again including President Harding, 
Vice-President Coolidge, the Cabinet, and General Pershing, he felt 
the need of saying some disagreeable things. 

He had learned that the Army was selling surplus supplies at 
ridiculously low prices to speculators who resold them at large profits 
to the Navy Dawes reported this information, then told of the co- 
operation he had received in some quarters, and also took notice of 
an underhanded effort to sabotage his campaign for economy. Sud- 
denly he interrupted his speech and called to an assistant- 

"Now hand me those brooms!" 

Two brooms were brought in. Dawes brandished them above 
his head. 

'This may look like stage play, but it is not, because things like 
this have got to stop. Here is a Navy broom, made in accordance 
with Navy specifications. Here is an Army broom, made in accord- 
ance with Army specifications Now, the Army had 350,000 of these 
brooms surplus. The Navy needed 18,000 brooms. It could have 
had the Army brooms for nothing but, because they were wrapped 
with twine instead of wire, the Navy wouldn't take them as a gift. 
So the Navy went into the market and bought brooms at top prices. 

"Suppose a thing like that had occurred in a private business 
organization. Would it ever be necessary to bring it before the entire 
body of the organization at a semiannual meeting as an example 
to be avoided? The mere knowledge of it in the body of a business 
organization would drive the guilty man out of his position in dis- 

While Dawes was driving home his point in this and other ways, 
he was also concerned to establish the office of Director of the 


Budget on a basis from which a man less forceful than himself 
could carry on Since this required authority in some respect over 
the members of the Cabinet, it was a delicate matter. 

"The administrative vice-president of an ordinary corporation/* 
he wrote, becomes a conduit of pressure downward upon the busi- 
ness organization in the interest of unified executive plan and policy. 
Unfortunately, however, our governmental Cabinets have always 
been a conduit for the transmission of pressure from the body of the 
business organization upward for complete departmental independ- 

"As advisers of the President in matter of national policy, they 
can rightfully stand upon their dignity without injury to the country, 
and, the more independent their advice, the more valuable it may 
be; but, as the administrators of the routine business, they must 
be at all times subordinate to the President and to the coordinating 
machinery now created by him for the transmission of a unified busi- 
ness program 

"I dictated, as a memorandum to the President, the reasons why 
the Director of the Budget must have the right to summon in con- 
ference, when needed, the Cabinet heads, to insure the successful 
operation of the Bureau. It is absolutely essential for the first Di- 
rector to get these things settled in custom and as recognized prin- 
ciples, since, unsettled, they will hereafter wreck the system The 
force of the status quo in Washington is very strong. 

"I want to get a status quo on this matter of the relation of the 
Director to the Cabinet heads for the benefit of the system, hereafter 
as well as now. Some time in the future, as so often in the past, there 
will come an administration headed by a man not especially trained 
to the business view of government administration There will be 
some new Cabinet officer of forceful methods, great conceit, and in- 
flamed with the desire of impressing his little personality on the 
history of the country, entirely unmindful of the long line of for- 
gotten predecessors who attempted in vain the same thing. 

"This man will see in the machinery essential to control the 
business methods of the Government a challenge to his individual 
power and importance. With the Chief Executive indifferent to busi- 
ness matters, such a marplot can get temporary notoriety through 

Portrait of an American: 

assertions of independence of the budget system and, provided 
there is executive weakness, do great injury to his country/* 

Although the appropriations for the new fiscal year had already 
been made and were to go into effect within one week after Dawes* 
arrival, he prepared a new tentative budget designed to reduce ex- 
penditures below the amount of the Congressional appropriations. 
Such a thing was unheard of in Washington. Once the appropria- 
tions had been made, the fate of the taxpayer was sealed. 

Dawes slashed right and left. He made Colonel Henry C. Smith- 
ers, a tough Army man, coordinator general, called in a dozen more 
able Army and Navy men, and induced another dozen outstanding 
businessmen from pnvate life to come into his office at one dollar 
per year. In this list were two of his brothers, Rufus and Henry M 
Dawes. Others were such nationally known names as A. J. Earling, 
Samuel M Felton, Colonel John S. Sewell, and former Senator 
Lawrence Y. Sherman How much could be accomplished with such 
a staff under Dawes* guidance may be gathered from a memorandum 
covering the activities of one day: 

"On the first onslaught, the Navy dropped out on a hundred- 
million-dollar reduction I had put down for them. Admiral Coontz 
(Chief of Naval Operations) is a tough old buck. I had to accept 
his statement as far as the present is concerned. 

"Agriculture followed by reneging on $25,000,000. Beads of 
perspiration formed on my forehead and, I regret to say, profane 
ejaculations characterized my vocabulary. Secretary Mellon, who 
joined me at the office, joined also in the perspiration, although 
naturally a cool man. By evening, I had raked up a dependable 
$305,000,000, notwithstanding the $125,000,000 that dropped out." 

In spite of such signal achievements, Dawes never forgot the 
limits within which his bureau was to function. 

"The Budget Bureau/* he said at one of the semiannual meet- 
ings, "must keep humble. If it ever becomes obsessed with the idea 
that it has any work except to save money and improve efficiency 
in routine business, it will cease to be useful. Again I say, we have 
nothing to do with policy. Much as we love the President, if Con- 
gress, in its omnipotence over appropriations, and in accordance 
with its authority over policy, passed a law that garbage should be 
put on the White House steps, it would be our regrettable duty, as 


a bureau, in an impartial, nonpohtical, and nonpartisan way, to 
advise the Executive and Congress on how the largest amount of 
garbage could be spread in the most inexpensive and economical 

Although the statutory term of office was seven years, Dawes 
remained faithful to his original resolve to leave at the end of twelve 

"As I proceed/' Dawes said, "I am surer of my position that, 
as one who must be used to upset the status quo, I am not the 
logical man to continue the operation of the Budget Bureau after it 
is organized, and after the way is cleared for its operation by the 
establishment of precedent, custom, and executive attitude and 

"There is a great relief in feeling this way, for I detest this life. 
Once it is clearly understood by everybody that I am to leave upon 
the presentation of the first budget, I will have in the minds of all, 
when I advise machinery and regulations, what Woodrow Wilson 
called 'the moral advantage of disinterestedness/ " 

On June 30, 1922, when his year was up, Dawes had more than 
made good his promise to save a billion dollars. During his twelve 
months in office, government expenditures exclusive of debt repay- 
ment had been cut down to $3,375,000,000, a saving of one and 
three quarter billion dollars over the preceding fiscal year. The Fed- 
eral Budget was not only balanced in that year, but receipts ex- 
ceeded expenditures by nearly three quarters of a billion dollars, 
and the public debt had been reduced by slightly over one billion 
dollars. Even taxes had been lowered. Said Charles Evans Hughes: 
"Only Dawes, with his experience, energy, and untiring devotion to 
his task, could have done the job that was done " 

Dawes himself noted: 

"I am carrying back as souvenirs of this experience the hand- 
written pasteboard sign on the office door: 'Bureau of the Budget/ 
and two brooms I wish I could take back some of the secondhand 
furniture which we raked up in the Treasury cellars. One cannot 
successfully preach economy without practicing it. Of the appropria- 
tion of $225,000, we spent only $120,313.54 in the year's work. We 
took our own medicine/' 

The system Dawes had instituted operated in the Budget 

2,10 Portrait of an American. 

Bureau for eleven years. These years constitute the longest sustained 
effort at maximum economy in the history of the American govern- 
ment. In 1931, the English Royal Commission on Civil Service unani- 
mously recommended to Parliament the adoption of the American 
budget system as conceived by Dawes 

But on June 10, 1933, two months after taking office, President 
Franklin D Roosevelt abolished the Federal Coordinating Service 
of the United States, most essential part of the executive control 
system, without which there could be no adequate supervision of 
the correlated affairs of the government. Another seven years later, 
in 1940, Dawes was to say in a public speech: 

"Some day, a President, if he is to save the country from bank- 
ruptcy and its people from rum, must make the old fight over again, 
and this time the battle will be waged against desperate disadvan- 
tages. Against him will be arrayed the largest, strongest, and most 
formidably entrenched army of interested government spenders, 
wasters, and patronage-dispensing politicians the world has yet 

If the Roosevelt Administration wanted someone to tell it how 
to "end slovenly fiscal housekeeping," no one was so well qualified 
as "Dawes who set up the centralized Federal budgeting system and 
showed results," Arthur Krock wrote in the New York Times "But/* 
Krock commented ruefully, "the spenders in the executive group" 
were not interested 

Chapter Fifteen 


Chicago had no monopoly on the crime wave of the early 

's, but with its mobs fighting gory war for terntory in which they 
would furnish illicitly brewed beer, alcohol for bathtub gin, and 
liquor for speakeasies, and with racketeers and gunmen moving in 
on some union labor organizations, Chicago yielded to no American 
community m her disrespect for law. The corrupt crowd of William 
Hale Thompson held the city hall, and Len Small's evil-smelling 
cohorts were in control of the state government at Springfield 
Downstate, the Ku Klux Klan was in the ascendency. Labor hood- 
lumism made building operations in the nation's second largest city 
as dangerous as a battlefield Needed home and business construc- 
tion had to be abandoned or delayed. 

In April of 1923 Dawes announced the formation of an organi- 
zation whose aim it was to counteract these influences The organiza 
tion was to be known as the "Minute Men of the Constitution." 

In his statement announcing the formation of the organization, 
Dawes hit out at "the wide disrespect for law, the cowardice of 
political leaders in evading issues involving good government when 
they tend to antagonize organized minorities, and the arrogance and 
lawlessness of certain unworthy leaders of special groups. . . The 
organization," he hoped, "could reach our political parties over the 
minority organizations formed for selfish purposes, and over the am- 
bitions of candidates for office and down into the hearts and 
consciences of law-abiding citizens. 

"The country needs a new Bill of Rights, just as it did when the 

Portrait of an American: 

Declaration of Independence was signed. We need to protect the 
country from those who are trying to dig under the cornerstones of 
the Constitution. Our organization is not a political body, but we are 
going to fight for clean politics. Neither is it antiunion. It is not 
against the closed union shop, but it maintains that union disputes 
should be settled in a legal manner/* 

The first company of the Minute Men was put together in 
Evanston under the captaincy of a former First Army Division 
machine-gun captain, who had brought sixty fellow American Le- 
gion members to Dawes* residence for the purpose. Most of these 
sixty took leaves of absence from their businesses, professions, or 
employment to canvass for members In six weeks they recruited 
6,000 members for Evanston Company No. i. 

"In this effort to support law enforcement I did not turn to any 
but young men, including with them only a very few gray heads/' 
Dawes wrote. "Youth is a matter of soul and spirit and, therefore, in 
its essence is not to be measured in years. The reason I did not turn 
to my business friends was not because they are not patriotic citi- 
zens, but because youth always furnishes the energy and translation 
of idealism into immediate and unquestioning action. 

"The older man is cynical and reform-weary. He has partici- 
pated in so many efforts for good which have failed. He wishes well 
and votes well and applauds constitutional principles at public din- 
ners. But after many years of experience he needs some demonstra- 
tion that his work is really going to be effective before he will join, 
in earnest, this kind of activity, which requires him in the early 
stages to subordinate golf, dinner engagements, ball games, and 
business itself to its calls." 

In June Dawes himself slammed down the top of his bank desk 
and began setting up companies throughout the state. There were 
no dues for membership, no pay for organizers, and every precaution 
was taken that membership should not yield any monetary profit to 
anybody. Expenses were negligible. All meeting places were fur- 
nished free Audiences as high as 5,000 heard some of Dawes' 
speeches; crowds of 3,500 were common. While Evanston, with its 
enrolled membership of 7,300, was the largest, there were Quincy 
with 3,500 and Mofine with 1,500, down to as low as 100 in some 
communities. In its heyday the organization reached a membership 


of 42,786, and had 154 companies in 42 of the 102 counties in Illinois. 
It had some members in aU but eight counties. 

Some of Dawes' downstate meetings furnished real fireworks. 
At Joliet, where the sheriff had been slam by gangsters, Dawes went 
to address a citizens' meeting. Less than fifty people turned out. The 
mayor who was to introduce him had left die city. Dawes stood up 
and said: 

"I have been getting audiences of 1,000 to 3,000 people in other 
towns, and it hasn't been considered a disgrace to introduce me. 
Your mayor ran away like a yellow dog. I won't insult these men who 
are here with me by addressing fifty people. This town isn't worth 
the powder it would take to blow it up." 

With that he walked out of the room. A few days later he was 
invited back to address a meeting of 500 civic leaders. He took 
General Dumont of France as a guest, and enrolled 400 members in 
a Joliet company. 

Both in Chicago and downstate Dawes was constantly threat- 
ened with physical violence. He refused to heed the fears of his 
friends that he might be slugged. He never was. 

The Minute Men's first test came in Cook County in a judicial 
election and against labor bosses. Two high and respected judges, 
Denis E. Sullivan, a Democrat, and Jesse E. Holdom, a Republican, 
were attacked as "injunction judges." Dawes rallied his twenty Cook 
County companies behind the two judges, asserting the union leaders 
were guilty of misrepresentation. 

"Judges Holdom and Sullivan, under the law, were required to 
issue these injunctions when a proper bill was presented to them," 
he said "They merely followed the law as they found it. An attack 
upon judges who follow the Constitution and the laws of Illinois 
should be condemned by all classes of citizens because the security 
of all is bound up in the enforcement of the law and a social condi- 
tion which means their protection from illegal acts A labor injunc- 
tion restrains men who want to assault and loll from carrying out 
such practices. It does not prevent a man from striking, nor does it 
prevent him from going to work. It is an arm of the law intended to 
protect society in the peaceful carrying on of the affairs of life. 

"In the coming judicial election, therefore, we find an attack 
being made by men assuming to represent minority organizations 

214 Portrait of an American: 

upon judges who have done their full duty in carrying out the law. 
Under these circumstances, if Judges Sullivan and Holdom should 
be defeated, it would be an encouragement to all other judges to 
disregard the law at the behest of minority organizations rather than 
to enforce it** 

The fight on the judges was made by a group of labor leaders, 
the ablest of whom, Daw,es considered, was James C. Petrillo of the 
Musicians Union. Twenty companies of Minute Men in Cook 
County, backing the judges, rang doorbells and manned the polls 
on election day. The heavy majorities for Sullivan and Holdom in 
the suburbs, running nine to one in Evanston and almost as much in 
others, carried the day. The Fifteenth Ward in Evanston, heavily 
labor, went five to one for Sullivan and Holdom, and Dawes com- 
mented: "No better evidence could be had of the bluff and pretense 
of radical labor leaders when they claim they can influence the good 
citizens of labor organizations against the safeguards of law and 

The Minute Men were accused of being anti-Ku Klux Klan. 
This accusation was true. For the program of the Klan included 
religious and racial intolerance, and the Klan considered itself to 
an extent independent of the regular law enforcement agencies. 

"The opposition of the Klan/' Dawes announced, "only empha- 
sizes the necessity of what we are doing Why does not the Ku Klux 
Klan, which professes to be for law enforcement, come out from 
behind their sheets? The truth of the matter is that they are taking 
the law into their hands in many sections of the country. Lawlessness 
is not helped by more lawlessness.** 

The Minute Men were also accused of being antiunion. That 
this accusation was false is perhaps best shown by the fact that the 
Steam and Operating Engineers Local of Chicago unanimously and 
in a body endorsed the purposes of the Minute Men, and that among 
the Minute Men themselves could be found a majority of the mem- 
bers of that Union as well as of many other labor unions. 

"The question is often asked," Dawes said in a speech at Deca- 
tur, "if our organization was formed to fight for the open shop. I 
reply that the Supreme Court of the United States has held that the 
right to collective bargaining under which employee and employer 
may establish the closed shop is a constitutional right. If we advo- 


cated the open shop we would be striking at the Constitution just as 
the lawless labor leader does when he orders an American citizen 
assaulted in an effort to establish the closed shop We will always 
have with us these economic contests, and good citizens will differ 
on the open and the closed shop These contests should be waged 
under the law which protects the inalienable rights of the indi- 
vidual " 

But while the Minute Men had no intention of opposing labor, 
they intended just as little to yield ground to gangsters who had 
seized control of some of the labor unions. As Dawes put it: 

"The labor demagogues did not inspire us with political trepida- 
tion. This movement is in the interest of all labor union and non- 
unionand all classes of citizens It is simply a movement for good 
government, equally important to all. Union labor is, in the great 
majority, patriotic In Chicago, it is suffering under a leadership in 
part composed of gunmen and criminals, who impose a slavery 
through intimidation upon their membership to which only the 
autocracy of Lenin and Trotsky can be compared/' 

The conceded accomplishment of the organization was victory 
in the bitterly contested Cook County judicial election of 1923 Its 
opposition undoubtedly caused the withdrawal of William Hale 
Thompson as a candidate for re-election as mayor in 1923, and it was 
instrumental in the nomination and election of many law enforce- 
ment candidates on a statewide nonpartisan basis in Illinois in 1924. 
But beyond this result, the organization had brought about a public 
awakening on the part of the citizens to the necessity of watching 
state elections, preventing fraud at the polls, and counteracting 
unfair propaganda. 

However, there was trouble brewing elsewhere on the globe. 
Germany had defaulted on a reparations payment and France and 
Belgium had sent troops into the Ruhr. The British had taken excep- 
tion to the French and Belgian action, while the Germans threw up 
their hands and asserted that they simply could not pay And so 
Dawes was called to head a committee of experts which was to 
solve a hopelessly tangled situation 

With all that has happened since, it is difficult to realize today 
how important the question of German reparations was to the well- 

216 Portrait of an American: 

being of Europe and indeed of the whole world back in the year 
1923. After the end of World War I, it seemed a settled proposition 
to all thinking men that Germany should pay for the damage she 
had wrought in an unprovoked aggression. A Reparations Commis- 
sion had been set up to formulate the terms of settlement. 

The figures appearing in the numerous reports of that commis- 
sion staggered the imagination' the war debt of Germany was set 
variously at sixty-seven, eighty-six, and finally thirty-three billion 
dollars. Then, while German mouth harmonicas, shipped in part 
payment, flooded France, the German currency collapsed and in- 
flated to a point where German bankers were eager to pay twelve 
thousand billion marks for one American dollar. 

The average man with a cursory interest read at intervals of 
such apparently futile political starts as those made at Boulogne, 
San Remo, Hythe, and Brussels, of the Spa Conference, "Pans 
Decisions," "London Ultimatums," and the actual payment by Ger- 
many of one billion gold marks on September 21, 1921. Then fol- 
lowed news of defaults, moratoriums, conferences and counter- 
proposals, and finally the military move which sent the French and 
Belgian armies marching back into the Ruhr on January 11, 1923. 

The United States did not claim reparations from Germany. 
Whatever sums came out of Germany were to go to France, Great 
Britain, Italy, and Belgium, with some payments to Japan, Greece, 
Portugal, Yugoslavia, and Rumania. All America hoped to recover 
were the relatively small expenses of the American Army of Occupa- 
tion in Germany, and the ten billion dollars in war and reconstruction 
loans made to the Allies. But since the French asserted that they 
could not pay their debts unless the Germans did, even these modest 
hopes of tie United States were to prove illusionary. 

Secretary of State Charles E. Hughes, in his address at New 
Haven, Connecticut, on December 21, 1922, made his historical 
proposal that the reparations question be referred to a committee of 
experts who would make an effort to solve it from an economic rather 
than a political viewpoint. A year later, the Allied powers accepted 
the Hughes proposal and issued tibe invitations to General Dawes 
and Owen D. Young to participate. They were invited as eminent 
American citizens and not as authorized agents of the American 
Government. Great Britain chose Sir JosiaL. Stamp and Sir Robert 


ML Kindersley; France, Jean Parmentier and Edgard Allix; Belgium, 
Baron Maurice Houtart and Monsieur Emile Francqui; Italy, Dr. 
Alberto Pirelli and Prof. Federico Flora. In extending the invitation, 
the Reparations Commission of the Allied governments designated 
Dawes to act as chairman. 

The Allied governments were especially anxious that Dawes 
should accept. As General Purchasing Agent for the A.E.F., United 
States member of the Military Board for Allied Supply, and in a role 
which amounted to diplomatic representative of Pershing during 
World War I, he ranked, so far as Europe was concerned, as one of 
the American big four Woodrow Wilson, Pershing, and Herbert 
Hoover being the other three. 

On December 27, 1923, General Dawes, Owen Young, and 
Rufus Dawes, brother of the General, who had been selected by 
Dawes and Young as chief of their personal staff of assistants, con- 
ferred for two hours with Secretary of State Hughes. Next day they 
sailed aboard the liner America, of the United States Shipping 
Board, for the session of the "Committee of Experts" in Paris and 

Dawes and Young were acutely aware of the magnitude and 
importance of their task. Restoration of the productivity of Germany 
was a world necessity. The two Americans and their associates 
faced the necessity of finding means to balance the budget and sta- 
bilize the currency of Germany first of all. Their studies aboard ship 
convinced them of the accuracy of what the French statesman Louis 
Barthou was to tell them in the opening session at Paris: "It may be 
said without exaggeration that the peace of the whole world de- 
pends upon the settlement of the reparations problem/' 

Dawes summed up his view of the situation as follows: 

"The question of reparations in each country concerned involves 
both an economic and a political problem, and a proper settlement 
of it in any one of them or among all of them necessitates a compro- 
mise between economics and politics along lines of expediency 
which recognizes the real essentials of both. 

"In negotiating settlements of such a nature, men of official 
position, endeavoring to avoid offense to public opinion, tend to ad- 
vocate proposals sacrificing economic principles for temporary politi- 
cal objectives, while economists, on the other hand, in applying 

Portrait of an American: 

economic principles, tend to disregard existing public sentiment 
which, however prejudiced, ignorant or temporary at first, must 
eventually determine the fate of the settlement." 

Before boarding ship, Dawes had discussed his assignment with 
Roland Boyden, formerly observer for the United States on the 
Reparations Commission, and with Dwight Morrow. 

"In our talk with Morrow and Boyden a divergence of views 
manifested itself of which, no doubt, we will see constantly the 
counterpart during our work abroad," Dawes wrote. "Boyden seemed 
to think that to give Germany 'the will to work 3 the limit of repara- 
tions should be fixed now-^that productivity in Germany depends 
upon removing the menace of indefinite reparations. Morrow, on 
the other hand, believes that the stabilization of the currency and 
the balancing of the budget are the important things now as the 
first step that an endeavor to fix reparations now means an impasse 
with France, which does not propose to estimate the present strength 
of an impoverished Germany in such a way as to foreclose the case 
finally. Morrow feels that given a currency system and a reformed 
budget, Germany will commence to revive as Austria has, notwith- 
standing that vast and unsettled reparations overhang the country 
and its people/* 

All through the trip across the ocean, Dawes and his staff con- 
tinued to familiarize themselves with their assignment. There were 
daily conferences aboard ship. 

"Ship Captain Rind has been very considerate of us and set 
aside the children's play room as our place of conference. The signifi- 
cance of this choice was not wholly lost on us. Through some myste- 
rious subconscious mental agreement, probably arising out of a desire 
to forget the more appropriate actual designation, we are calling 
the conference room 'the dog house/ 

"These daily conferences on the boat, involving as they do the 
constant repetition of thought on this unfamiliar question this men- 
tal exercise is doing to the mind what physical repetition of exercise 
does to the body. It is not only adding to our knowledge but is 
preparing us for this kind of work when we land next Monday. I 
really attach more importance to the exercise which my mind has 
had than to the knowledge which it has acquired in the last week." 

Dawes quickly formed a deep liking for Owen Young. "I am 


delighted with my associate, Owen D. Young. He is all that Har- 
bord has said and more. He has intellectual poise. His ability, after 
patiently listening to a detailed discussion, to summarize his conclu- 
sions in a few sentences is remsCrkable. The elimination of the non- 
essentials marks all his processes of thought. Added to that, he 
inspires not only confidence but friendship and trust/' 

The capacity of Young's mind to cut through details to the heart 
of the problem became more and more precious to Dawes as the days 
went by. For the man who was to head the "Committee of Experts" 
soon began to lament in his private notes that he found himself 
"knee-deep in experts." 

"Am getting rather 'fed up* on expert opinion as I read long 
arguments of 'experts* winding up with diametrically opposite con- 
clusions I realize the value of 'expert' opinion, but I realize also the 
danger of its unqualified acceptance. Where a man has acquired his 
'expertness* merely as a judge and observer of the work of other men 
whose burdens he himself has never borne in other words, where 
he lacks a definite and personal experience in a practical participat- 
ing way with the work itself I regard his opinions and advice of 
negligible value. 

"My reading of the economic arguments, pro and con, inspires 
in me a feeling of apprehension when I see myself designated as an 
'expert/ Is it possible that my common sense is suspected? All inter- 
national economists deal with a subject so vast that it defies compari- 
son with other subjects upon which we are accustomed to call in 
experts. For this reason, these economists enjoy a general range of 
possible asinimty, wider and more unchallenged than any others By 
some of them one must set great store by others, none. One thing is 
certain, the European situation needs something besides theoretical 

"Less and less I am impressed with detailed argument. The more 
I hear, the more clearly I see that if, as a Committee, we are to make 
progress and really be helpful, we must be something quite different 
from a debating society. Just now my mind is upon those methods 
which 1 must adopt as Chairman to accomplish results. 

"Nothing is more important at the inception of important work 
than humility of opinion. If one does not have it a he can never be 
sure that he has all the facts, much less the proper sense of their 

22O Portrait of an American: 

relative importance. I think Young and I are humble and open- 
minded. * 

The American group arrived in Paris on January 7. An assembly 
of former wartime associates had met on the station platform to 
greet Dawes. But if they expected to see him with his famous black 
cigar they were disappointed. For Dawes, faithful to a promise he 
had made to Marshal Foch, had given up cigar smoking, and had 
instead adopted that famous underslung pipe which a friend had 
given to him, and which caused the smoke to travel through a 
wooden channel fifteen inches long. Soon the "upside-down" pipe 
would become Dawes' hallmark. 

Paris was beckoning, but Dawes had work to do "As this detail 
is a working one/* he wrote, slipping into military lingo, "I am declin- 
ing all invitations. It certainly seems like old times to be lying awake 
nights thinking over difficult problems. It is the irony of fate that 
Paris, the playground of the traveling American, is, and always has 
been for me, the place of strenuous endeavor night and day and 
little else/' 

But he did find time for his close friends. Pershing was in Paris 
completing his book, My Experiences in the World War, and they 
were to be much together. General Payot was running the railroads 
in the Ruhr and, as it was important for Dawes to know about the 
Ruhr, he called in his old wartime coadjutor. He recorded dinners 
and luncheons with eighty-four-year-old Clemenceau, with Foch, 
with Sir Robert Home, who had been Lloyd George's wartime chan- 
cellor of the exchequer, and with Charles M. Schwab and other old 
friends. Foch asked for an upside-down pipe and wrote Dawes that 
he had adopted it for his smoking. 

On January 14, 1924, Dawes made his speech at the opening 
session of the Committee. It was straightforward and hard-hitting 
in the best Dawes tradition: 

"This is no time to mince words. What, today, at the inception 
of our work, have we found? In the first place we see an impenetra- 
ble and colossal fogbank of economic opinions, based upon premises 
of fact which have changed so rapidly as to make the bulk of them 
seem worthless even if they were in agreement. With all due respect 
to the great ability of those experts who have wandered through 
this gloomy labyrinth, they could not have failed to come out in the 


opposite direction. They were confronted with the necessity of find- 
ing stable conclusions where no conditions were stable. If in their 
computations designed to clarify the mind, they dealt with the mark, 
the next week the mark was something else; if they dealt with the 
dollar, the pound, the French or Belgian franc, or the Italian lira, 
there was one value in foreign exchange for each, and another in 
internal purchasing power, if they dealt in gold there were values in 
prewar gold and postwar gold to be considered. In general, we 
failed to find much value in economic arguments based on what 
ought to be instead of what is. 

"While immense libraries of legal arguments, of more or less 
obsolete statistics, and of economic discussion were being laboriously 
compiled for five years, the economic foundations of Germany have 
well-nigh crumbled away. 

"How could anyone, expert or nonexpert, suggest anything 
worthwhile about a German budget if the money collected through 
taxes and disbursed under the budget would not buy or pay for 
anything? The first step we should take, it seems to me, is to devise a 
system to stabilize Germany's currency, so that we can get some 
water to run througih the budget mill. Let us build the mill after we 
find the stream to turn its wheels. 

"We are less concerned for the moment with the present capac- 
ity of Germany to pay, than with the present capacity and courage 
of this Committee to act. Why waste time in formalities and mean- 
ingless courtesies and conventionalities? 

"The house is afire. We propose to find some water to put it out, 
without the further use of mathematics involving the fourth di- 

Next morning, the speech appeared in twenty different lan- 
guages all over the continent. Troubled Europe heaved a sigh of 
relief. These plain words were the first ray of hope in many years. 
Owen Young said no more than the truth when in a speech in New 
York, nearly eleven months later, he reported: 

"The installation speech of General Dawes, which was pub- 
lished in full in the newspapers in all the principal countries of the 
world, created a change in the public opinion of Europe. His direct- 
ness, his courage, and his determination dispelled despair and doubt 
and gave hope and confidence to the masses of the people in Europe 

222 Portrait of an American: 

and a feeling of pride to the people of America From that time on 
the Committee was no longer the 'Experts Committee' but the 
'Dawes Committee/ " 

Dawes' expectation that he would have to plow his way pain- 
fully through expert opinions was agreeably disappointed. "I never 
met an abler body of men," he wrote after the first meeting of the 
group. "It would seem impossible for such a group to adjourn with- 
out some accomplishment/ 7 Yet he was not overoptimistic. "When 
our work here is over," he said, "we shall get either garbage or 
garlands. Til run the risk of the garbage/' 

Never did an international committee more quickly grapple 
with its problems. Between its opening on January 14, and its ad- 
journment on April 9, the full committee held fifty-four meetings, 
the subcommittee on the budget held sixty-three, and the subcom- 
mittee on the stabilization of the currency, eigjity-one After a short 
time, Dawes was able to write into his diary: 

"The first draft of the bank plan has been worked out in detail. 
We are now approaching some of the essential points of possible 
controversy. What substantial thing can be given Poincare for what- 
ever tangible he gives up in the Ruhr in order that Germany, under 
a new plan, can put herself in shape to commence on a general 
reparation effort? Many feel that if Germany be made strong enough 
to pay she will be strong enough to refuse to pay. 

"But what if she is not made strong enough to pay, does not 
Europe face disaster, anyway? It is clear that every program is 
attended by dangerous contingencies. The only course we can take 
is a plain one to assume that peace, well guarded, and not war, is 
the normal state of modern man/' 

Dawes kept the Committee in almost continuous session Sub- 
committees met in the morning, plenary session took up the after- 
noon Dr. Hjalmar Schacht, head of the German Reichsbank, was 
immediately sent for, and at the close of his testimony the committee 
had reached the opinion that an independent gold bank should be 
established in Germany. 

"Schacht made a remarkable revelation of character during his 
questioning," Dawes wrote. Tie frankly intimated that as long as 
he was the President of the Reichsbank, he was the bank." 


But Dawes thought he got his best picture of German despair 
and desolation from M. Grassman, representative of labor: "Grass- 
man made a very powerful and moving address. Why must the chief 
burdens of society fall most heavily upon those to whom it is most 

Dawes' notes on the work of the Committee are once again 
scanty, indicating the pressure under which he worked. The Dawes 
Plan that came out of the conference is history. But for an appraisal 
of Dawes' own work during the many meetings, we depend on the 
notes and memoirs of other participants. 

"Those who did not know Dawes at the outset of our delibera- 
tions/' Sir Josiah Stamp wrote, "knew of him, and that he was noted 
for his prompt action, vigorous and picturesque speech, with a spe- 
cial pipe of his own that stood for his personality almost without a 
cartoon, and having toward polite society an attitude around which 
hung an anecdotal cluster, in which the real and apocryphal were 
equally entertaining and inextricably mixed. We expected much 
from him and got more than we had expected. He kept himself free 
from detailed contention, and, therefore, stood as a final court of 
judgment, to which we had the less need to have recourse because 
he was always there. He kept the contacts with the outside world 
during the proceedings, freeing us from embarrassment but creating 
no feeling of aloofness or indifference. 

"He had an eye for essentials and smooth working. And if 
leadership is encouragement, enheartenment at a critical time, and 
getting the best out of a team, he was a born leader Some of us soon 
learned that underneath the Hell and Maria'-ness of a rather myth- 
ical violence was a singularly generous nature, punctuating faith 
in himself with strange essential humilities and an almost extrava- 
gant appreciation of the qualities and works of others These charac- 
teristics go a little way toward explaining the uniform success he has 
had in his career in getting results, whether in France or as Director 
of the Budget, in the Dawes Committee, as Vice-President, as Am- 
bassador, or in his bank, for he trusted his assistants and rejoiced in 
any limelight they could get, and it never affected one whit his own 

And Owen Young: 

"It was the charm of a unique personality, the sympathy of a 

224 Portrait of an American: 

sensitive man with a capacity to understand different and often con- 
flicting points of view, and finally the generosity of spirit which ex- 
cited the admiration of every member of the Committee. General 
Dawes became more than the impartial chairman of that diversified 
group. Their several individual backgrounds and national interests 
would naturally invite disintegration. The cohesive force which 
held them together and brought a unanimous report on every point 
considered by the Committee was General Charles G. Dawes." 

French Jean Parmentier wrote how Dawes delighted the ses- 
sions with such apothegms as: 

"Common sense when applied to great affairs is the height of 
statesmanship. . . . Economic peace is the best antidote for war. 
... A man falls in love with ideas simply because he created them, 
not because they are worth creating. . . . We must not fear the 
consequences of truth only the failure to tell it completely/' 

Sir Josiah Stamp had listed ten critical points on each of which 
the Committee might have split and gone home without agreement 
That it did not split, Stamp wrote, was due principally to Dawes, its 
captain and leader. 

On April 9, 1924, the Dawes Plan was completed. It was a 
report as lengthy as the Versailles Treaty, but its terms were made 
understandable in a summary prepared by Young and included in 
the report. So intense was American interest in the agreement that 
its 39,927 words were cabled to the United States that day at the rate 
of 2,700 words per hour the biggest single transmission by either 
wire or cable up to that time. 

Dawes himself wrote the letter of transmittal to the Reparations 
Commission. In this document which would go into the archives of 
the world he gave all credit to his associates: 

"In their vision in their independence of thought and, above 
all, in their high and sincere purpose which rises above small things 
over which the small so often stumble, my colleagues have shown 
themselves worthy of this trust. That their work, which I now place 
in your hands, may assist you in the discharge of your great respon- 
sibilities is their prayer, and the knowledge, hereafter, that it has so 
done will be their full reward." 

Germany accepted the plan within the week. Secretary of State 
EJughes wrote to Dawes: "Permit me to congratulate you upon your 


extraordinary achievement. The more the question is considered the 
more clearly it appears that in this plan may be found the hope of 
salvation in Europe and that if it were thrown aside the result would 
be economic chaos. You and your associates have made a contribu- 
tion of first magnitude to the peace and security of the world." Even 
President Coolidge, in what must have been for him an extraordinary 
burst of enthusiasm, cabled. <c You and your associates represented 
not the American government, but the American mind." 

The Dawes Committee had held the only completely successful 
conference on international governmental affairs between the end 
of World War I and the midway point of the twentieth century. 

Whatever happened later in Europe because of the timidity 
among Allied statesmen and the rise of the maniac Hitler and the 
even more cunning and evil Stalin, these things are the record of the 
Dawes Committee: Its plan worked for its entire limit of five years. 
Germany had a normal parliamentary regime in that half decade 
the only time it did between the dethronement of Emperor Wilhelm 
II and its dismemberment after World War II. For those five years 
Germany paid the reparation which the Committee had found was in 
its capacity to pay. For those five years Germany's economy, cur- 
rency, and credit were re-established, and Europe had the greatest 
period of tranquillity between the two world wars. 

While the public was hailing Dawes and his committee, he and 
Owen Young were driving in a cab through the streets of Paris. In 
the words of Young: 

"The Committee being hailed in the European press as the 
saviors of civilization, General Dawes said to me at dinner in Paris, 
'Say, Young, if we have saved civilization, don't you think we ought 
to investigate it and see if it's worth saving?' Realizing the impor- 
tance of basic research, I accepted the daring challenge. 

"Several hours later, how many I will not say, the General 
turned to me in the taxi that was bringing us home, and without 
referring to our earlier conversation said, 'Maybe she ain't worth it.' " 

In October of 1924, after he had returned to Chicago, Dawes 
received a cable from Young in Paris: "Plan effective and in opera- 
tion. Referring to your garbage and garlands, I am thankful you are 
receiving only garlands." Dawes, then campaigning as the Republi- 

226 Portrait of an American: 

can Vice-Presidential nominee, replied: "Sincere congratulations on 
your great success. Relative your remarks about garlands and gar- 
bage. My steady diet in this campaign is a mixture of the two." 

As in all diaries, there are gaps and omissions in the diary of 
General Dawes. There is no mention that for his work as Chairman 
of the Reparations Committee of Experts he was awarded the Nobel 
Peace Prize. Nor is there any record of the fact that he never cashed 
the check which accompanied the Prize, but endorsed it over to the 
Walter Hines Page School of International Relations for which 
money was being raised at that time. 

Chapter Sixteen 


j he Republican national convention which met in Cleve- 
land on June 10, 1924, was the first such party gathering to be broad- 
cast over the radio, the nation's newest industry. Listeners all over 
the country put on their earphones or gathered closely around their 
loud-speakers, to hear a college president delivering the longest 
nomination speech in the annals of American politicsd conventions 
in behalf of the most taciturn of all Presidents of the United States. 
Between the hours of five o'clock in the afternoon and ten o'clock at 
night on June 12, they would hear the convention stampeding twice 
to nominate two different Vice-Presidential candidates. 

For four years the Republican party had chafed under the taunt 
that its Presidential nominations were made in smoke-filled rooms. 
Henry Cabot Lodge, whose strange ruling on the volume of 
the oral aye and nay adjournment vote four years before had set 
the stage for the smoke-filled room, was again present as a delegate. 
But for all of the influence he exerted this time, he might as well have 
stayed at his home in Cambridge. 

The majority of the 1,109 delegates, gathered in Cleveland's 
shiny new convention hall, wanted most of all to do something for 
Frank O. Lowden, recent Governor of Illinois, who they felt had 
been euchred out of the 1920 nomination They would gladly have 
nominated him for President. But Calvin Coolidge had been in the 
White House for ten months, and not to name him was unthinkable. 

With top place on the ticket foreclosed, the delegates were de- 
termined to make amends by nominating Lowden for Vice-President. 


228 Portrait of an American. 

Lowden, however, had no hankering for the Vice-Presidency and 
had emphatically so declared. 

Among the men whom Lowden had informed of his decision, 
there was Mark W. Woods of Lincoln, Nebraska, the same man who 
had pushed Pershing into the Nebraska Presidential preference pri- 
mary in 1920. Although Woods had failed then in sending to the 
White House a former Lincoln man, he was unabashed If he could 
not make one former Lincoln man President of the United States, he 
would at least try to make another one Vice-President. That other 
man was Charles G. Dawes. 

Woods broached his plan to Dawes. Again, he received no en- 
couragement. Dawes felt that his friend Lowden should receive the 
nomination and, if the ticket won that November, should try for 
the Presidential nomination four years later. Then Dawes changed the 
subject to talk about the impending commencement exercises at 
Marietta College, which he meant to attend and make the occasion 
for a substantial gift to his old alma mater. 

But Woods was not easily discouraged. Even though Dawes had 
been noncommittal, Woods felt certain that he would accept the 
nomination if it were presented to him as a fait accompli. Woods 
went on to Cleveland and went to work at once. 

A tyro in politics, Woods knew no delegates except those from 
Nebraska. The only other two people at the convention whom he 
knew well were two men sitting in the press section: William Jen- 
nings Bryan, covering the convention for a newspaper syndicate, 
and a Texas correspondent who, four years earlier, had shared his 
enthusiasm for Pershing and now shared his admiration for Dawes. 

"You know I share your high regard for Dawes, Mark," Bryan 
said to him. "If you succeed, your party will have a Vice-Presidential 
candidate who is abler than its Presidential candidate. I don't believe 
though that you control your own delegation." 

Bryan was right Of the nineteen delegates from Nebraska, ten 
were supporting tiae former Senator and then Circuit Court Judge 
William S. Kenyon. But among the Kenyon backers was Representa- 
tive A, W. Jefferis of Omaha, among whose ambitions was that of 
becoming Senator. Jefferis might be open to any suggestion that 
would bring him to favorable public notice in Nebraska. 

And so Woods buttonholed Jefferis and explained his proposi- 


tion. He painted in glowing colors the great political and other bene- 
fits that would fall to any man heard over the radio in a nominating 
speech. Hundreds and thousands of miles away, in every part of the 
country, people would be crowding around radio receivers, attracted 
by the novelty of listening to a party convention. No man from 
Nebraska had ever been able to command such a nationwide audi- 
ence, and if he, Jeffens, were to place the former Nebraskan Dawes 
in nomination, there would not be a home in the entire state to 
remain ignorant of it. His would be an historic performance, especially 
if it should turn out that Dawes was the choice of the convention. 

Jefferis was convinced. His switch brought the Cornhusker dele- 
gation caucus over to Dawes. 

The overwhelming sentiment of the convention, however, was 
in favor of Lowden. Lowden was given the nomination. Nebraska 
and New Jersey gave their entire strength to Dawes, and scattered 
votes from sixteen other states ran him up to an unexpected 149 

While the convention adjourned to await Lowden's reaction, 
Woods canvassed Lowden's supporters to secure pledges for Dawes 
if Lowden should decline And up to June 12, 1924, no man in Ameri- 
can history had ever refused a Presidential or Vice-Presidential nomi- 
nation bestowed upon him by one of the major parties. 

After a few hours, the unprecedented had happened Lowden 
declined. The convention, led by the big state delegations from New 
York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, and Texas, stampeded as 
noisily and enthusiastically to Dawes as it had supported Lowden a 
scant five hours before. Dawes* margin over Herbert Hoover, the 
next candidate, was nearly three to one 682^ votes to 234^ votes, 
despite the fact that William M. Butler, chairman of the Republican 
National Committee, was working for Hoover. 

"The Republican candidate for Vice-President," wrote William 
Jennings Bryan in a syndicated newspaper article, "is a successful 
businessman, a man of character, patriotism, and civic enthusiasm. 
In all public positions which he has held, beginning with Comp- 
troller of the Currency, he has acquitted himself creditably. He goes 
into the campaign a more active factor than the Vice-Presidential 
candidate usually is. He is a more vigorous personality than the 

230 Portrait of an American: 

Dawes received news of the convention's action in Marietta. 

"My nomination occurred unexpectedly to myself while I was 
at my old home in Marietta, attending the commencement exercises 
of the college from which I was graduated/' his journal reads. "There 
is one recollection I shall always treasure. It is of the gathering of 
thousands of the people of the town the next day to hear me speak 
briefly from the front porch of the old family home. The church 
bells were rung in honor of the occasion. Some people may claim the 
Vice-Presidency doesn't amount to much, but just then it seemed to 
me the greatest office in the world 

"The old proverb *A prophet is not without honor save in his 
own country' embodies a general truth with but rare exceptions. The 
prophet in this case was one who had spent a more or less mis- 
chievous boyhood in the town, and his reflection was that the only 
explanation of the stirring scene was that those who really knew 
him then had for the most part departed this life." 

Three days later Dawes stood before his house in Evanston, in 
the rain, and addressed two thousand of his neighbors, both Repub- 
licans and Democrats, who had come to call on him in spite of the 

"Before such a gathering I could not be partisan," Dawes said. 
"As human beings, whatever may be our party, we are bound to 
differ on many subjects, but as good citizens we can unite to demand 
of those who represent us in political debate that they represent our 
differences honestly and from the standpoint of truth not from the 
standpoint of prejudice and passions. The man who distorts facts, 
the man who preaches pleasant doctrines to one portion of the 
people and another pleasant but absolutely inconsistent doctrine to 
another portion, is a menace to the safety of our fundamental insti- 
tutions As good citizens, irrespective of party, we must demand 
from our political leaders a strict adherence to the truth, including 
disagreeable truth. 

"I have recently returned from Europe where I have seen in 
prostrated industry and human suffering the effects of demagogic 
political appeals to the passions and prejudices of the different peo- 
ple, as distinguished from appeals to their reason and common sense. 
To the very brink of the abyss has Europe been brought by this 
method of treating serious questions, involving great elemental and 


economic principles. To save herself, she has abandoned the dema- 
gogue and returned to common sense. As to the demagogue on the 
stump in the coming campaign, whatever may be his party, I want 
it distinctly understood that I will ask no quarter, and will give 

On July i Dawes went to Washington to discuss campaign plans 
with President Coolidge. The two men who were now ticket mates 
had not been especially close to each other before their nomination. 
In Dawes* papers there are copies of only a few letters that had 
passed between them, among them one from Coohdge dated Novem- 
ber 23, 1923, which reads: 

"You know I am no hand to write letters unless I have some kind 
of business, but it does not seem right for me not to see you and hear 
from you once in a while/' 

The Washington visit was to have a tragic ending. During din- 
ner of July 2, fourteen-year-old Calvin Coolidge, Jr , felt ill and left 
the table. 

"While I did not realize that there was anything serious about 
Calvin's illness, I think the President must have sensed it from the 
first/ 7 Dawes said. "He seemed to lose all interest in the conversation 
and the dinner soon ended. I was to leave that night to continue my 
talks with Young and Morrow in New York on the preparations for 
putting the Reparations plan into effect As I passed the door of 
Calvin's room I chanced to look in He seemed to be in great distress. 
The President was bending over the bed. I think I have never wit- 
nessed such a look of agony and despair as was on the President's 
face. From that moment I felt a closeness to Coolidge I had never 
felt before, and have never lost I had gone through the same great 
sorrow that he faced " 

A blister on the boy's foot, contracted while playing tennis on 
the White House lawn die day before, had caused blood poisoning. 
Celebrated specialists hurried to the White House for consultation. 
Their efforts were of no avail, death came on Monday night, July 7. 

Calvin Coolidge had little heart left for the campaign. The 
brunt of the stumping was to fall on Dawes. 

At this stage, the outcome of the election was far from a fore- 
gone conclusion The Republicans had then no reason to expect the 
boon they were to receive from the Democrats, who made a spectacle 

232 Portrait of an American. 

of themselves in a slugging, snarling iO3-ballot McAdoo-Smith dead- 
lock in Madison Square Garden. This, too, was the first Democratic 
national convention ever to be broadcast, and a nation listened in as 
the oldest of the national parties signed its own 1924 death warrant. 

Senator Robert M. LaFollette of Wisconsin had been nominated 
by the third party. On July 7 the Socialist party formally enlisted 
under his banner. 

There was in the third-party platform a plank which called for 
congressional veto of judicial decisions. And Eugene Debs, the 
Socialist leader, had backed LaFollette with the words: "I think it is 
wise for our party to make no nominations under the circumstances, 
but at the same time to hold the Socialist party intact, adhere strictly 
to its principles, and keep the red flag flying/* These were the two 
issues on which Dawes intended to base his campaign. 

Both the President and William M Butler of Massachusetts, 
chairman of the Republican National Committee, differed from 
Dawes in their ideas on how the campaign should be run. Early in 
August President Coolidge sent to Dawes one of the most unusual 
letters ever written by a Presidential candidate to his Vice-Presiden- 
tial running mate. It is such an extraordinary document that Dawes 
put it in his lockbox, where it remained for the rest of his life. It ran: 



August 2, 1924 
My dear General: 

Thinking you may have the same difficulty in writing a speech 
of acceptance that I had four years ago, I am going to venture to 
try to help you. 

The more simple you can keep it, the better you will like it. You 
have for your guide, of course, the Party's platform, and you might 
get some suggestions out of my message to the Congress and the 
speeches that I have made since that time. If you keep as much as 
you can to an expression of general principles, rather than attempting 
to go into particular details of legislation, you will save yourself 
from a great deal of annoying criticism. More people will agree with 
you if you say we ought to have protection, than if you begin to 


discuss various schedules. More people will favor opposition to high 
surtaxes, than the adherence to specific rates. 

I know how irksome it is to attempt to restate what others have 
said, instead of having perfect freedom to branch out in any direc- 
tion you might wish But that is the penalty we have to pay for run- 
ning in pairs. Should you think that I could possibly be of any help, 
do not fail to run down here any time, or communicate with me in 
other ways, always keeping in mind that my telegrams and tele- 
phones are public property. 

It may interest you to know that I was much pleased to learn 
the other day that I am kin to Manasseh Cutler, through the Rice 
family, and therefore kin to you. We are both kin to John Quincy 

With kindest regards to you and Mrs. Dawes, I am 

Very truly yours, 
Brig. General Charles G. Dawes 
Chicago, Illinois 
p s Whenever you go anywhere, take Mrs. Dawes along 

Chairman Butler wanted to make economy in government ex- 
penditures the dominant issue, and gave instructions to that effect to 
Dawes in what amounted to a ukase. Dawes disagreed. To him, the 
paramount issue lay in LaFollette's call for congressional veto of 
judicial decisions. 

"This proposition," Dawes stated, "is to abrogate the threefold 
division of power executive, legislative, and judicial which is the 
basis of our Constitution, and to make the executive and judicial 
power subordinate to legislative power. Its effect likewise would be 
disastrous to the rights of states, to which are reserved such rights 
of government as are not specifically delegated to the federal govern- 
ment by the Constitution. It would be practically equivalent to a 
government of pure democracy, which history has proved is most 
futile and disastrous for the proper protection of the people." 

While Coolidge undoubtedly agreed with Butler on the matter 
of what the issue should be, neither the President nor the National 
Chairman pressed their points. Dawes sent his acceptance speech, 
stressing the issue raised by LaFollette, to the President before its 

234 Portrait of an American: 

delivery, and Coolidge made no suggestions for changes in the 
speech other than in the LaFollette section where he thought it better 
to use the phrase "an important issue" rather than "the predominant 
issue/' Dawes delivered the speech on August 19, from the porch of 
his Evanston home, to a crowd estimated at fifty thousand people 
which filled the yard, the street, and a park running down to the 
shore of Lake Michigan. 

Once the campaign had opened, Dawes' relations with both 
Coohdge and Butler were the most cordial. His one acrimonious 
brush was with Representative Everett Sanders of Indiana, chairman 
of the Speakers* Bureau of the Republican National Committee. 
Sanders claimed the right to censor the speeches of Dawes and all 
other speakers for the national ticket. Dawes went to the offices of 
the National Committee in Chicago and spoke his mind. 

"Everett, I was nominated for this office at Cleveland by all or 
part of the delegates from thirty-seven of the forty-eight states. I 
was not a candidate for either President or Vice-President. I assume 
that the men and women who nominated me knew of my record of 
independence. I intend to be guided by my own conscience and my 
own judgment of the issues to be presented and the manner of their 
presentation. If that is not satisfactory to the National Committee 
then I will not speak under its auspices. I will conduct my own 
campaign and pay my own expenses/* 

Sanders argued that Dawes was planning a course that would 
wreck the Republican party, 

"What about Maine?" Sanders asked. "The Maine Republican 
Central Committee has forbidden anyone to mention the Ku Klux 
Klan there. If you make the speech there, that I understand you 
intend to, regardless of what may happen in Maine we will lose 
Indiana by 150,000 votes/* 

Dawes knew full well that Indiana and Maine were the two 
most completely Klan-dominated states in the north. But the de- 
scendent of Manasseh Cutler and future cofounder of the Chicago 
branch of the National Conference of Christians and Jews would not 
soft-pedal this issue. 

"I intend to speak on the Klan in Maine," he replied. *7 may 
make many mistakes but I think I can make the campaign without 
discredit to myself or the party. If I go into office I want to go with 


the respect of the people of this country. The occupancy of a public 
office, unless decorated with public respect, is a curse to anyone/' 

The showdown was not long in coming. Dawes opened his 
campaign at Augusta on August 23 A Ku Klux Klan official, high 
in the councils of the Republican party, sat on the platform a few 
seats away from the Vice-Presidential candidate. Dawes opened 
his speech: 

"I first desire to speak relative to the Ku Klux Klan/' 

Taking as his text Josiah Quincy's statement, "Society is never 
more certainly in the path of destruction than when it trusts itself 
to the guidance of. secret societies," Dawes continued: 

"Government cannot last if that way, the way of the Ku Klux 
Klan, is the way to enforce the law in this country. Lawlessness 
cannot be met with lawlessness if civilization is to be maintained/' 

This speech had precipitated the issue that the more timid 
members of the Republican party had most feared There were wide- 
spread rumors that Calvin Coolidge would take vigorous exception. 
But three days after the speech was delivered, the Maine Republi- 
can State Central Committee chairman wired to the President and 
to the National Committee at Chicago that, in his opinion, Dawes' 
speech had saved the Republican campaign there instead of injuring 
it. This was what Dawes would have expected. His diary reads 

'When I arrived at Augusta and it was learned I was to men- 
tion the dread word *Ku Klux,' the state committee was in a state of 
extreme apprehension which it took no pains to conceal. Under its 
orders no Republican state candidate had been allowed to refer to 
the subject in his speeches. However, before an audience of six 
thousand people, I started my speech: *I first desire to speak relative 
to the Ku Klux Klan/ 

"Knowing there can be no reaction to right except a right reac- 
tion, I had no misgivings as to the reception of the speech by the 
public. It was, I am told, the only argumentative statement on the 
Ku Klux subject made by a candidate during the campaign " 

President Coolidge, whom Dawes saw at Plymouth Notch, Ver- 
mont, the day after the speech, remarked that it was "good." 

"The President, Mrs. Coolidge, and I took lunch in the little 
dining room off the sitting room During the lunch Colonel Coolidge, 
the President's father, took no part in the conversation In the sitting 

236 Portrait of an American: 

room afterwards he said nothing, but after a time he rose and left 
the room. The President and Mrs Coolidge were sitting where they 
could see out of the window, and although I could not do so, I 
knew what was happening. About thirty newspapermen, waiting 
outside to tackle me, waylaid the Colonel The President rose 
abruptly, and with considerable impatience said 1 asked him to say 
nothing/ Mrs. Cookdge replied: 1 don't think you need worry about 
your father/ When finally I met the newspaper phalanx outdoors, 
I asked them what they had said to the Colonel. *We asked him 
what you and the President were talking about, of course/ they 
replied. What did he say?* I asked 'My hearing ain't as good as it 
used to be!" had been the reply of the President's father." 

On August 29 Dawes spoke at Lincoln. He received a noisy wel- 
come. Before a crowd of twenty-five thousand people assembled 
under the hard hot sun of a Nebraska summer, he discussed the farm 
question, calling it the "most serious economic situation now con- 
fronting the United States." From Lincoln, his train was to carry 
him fifteen thousand miles over the country to deliver 108 speeches 
to hundreds of thousands in his large audiences, and to millions 
more who listened on the radio. 

Dawes hammered away at radicalism in any guise. He made 
the most of Debs' red flag statement. 

"Here is the alignment and here are the two flags," he told his 
audiences. "Neither President Coolidge nor his party platform as- 
sumes that the Constitution of the United States is an outworn 
document of old-fashioned ideas to be discarded for the principles 
of the new socialism. Robert M. LaFollette, leading the army of ex- 
treme radicalism, has a platform demanding public ownership and 
attacking our courts which are the fundamental and constitutional 
safeguard of American citizenship." 

He struck out at 'lack of respect for law," "demagogism," "ef- 
forts to catch votes under false pretenses," and unsparingly attacked 
both Republican and Democratic candidates for their timidity and 
for "condoning in minority groups acts of lawlessness." 

He demanded continuing effort at economy in the federal gov- 
ernment, "which is now taking only 28 per cent of the total taxes," 


and called for more economy "in states, cities, and counties which 
are consuming 72 per cent of the taxes." 

Although the campaign was waged mainly on domestic issues, 
he also urged the entry of the United States into the World Court. 
The man who had helped Europe solve its reparations problem was 
no isolationist. He stressed that in foreign policy there must be no 
impairment of the right of sovereignty of the United States, or of 
her right to make her own decisions on her own interests; and with 
that settled, the United States must do its duty in its international 

"In the United States/' he had said in his acceptance speech, "in 
regard to the question of foreign relations, general opinion seems to 
have settled upon two great fundamental principles, first, that what- 
ever be our form of contact and conference with foreign nations, 
the independence and sovereignty of the United States, with the 
right to determine its own course of action, must at all times, and 
under all circumstances, not only be preserved by it, but recognized 
by all other nations, and second, that, with its sovereignty always 
unimpaired, the United States should undertake to meet its inter- 
national obligations unflinchingly, exhibiting no moral cowardice and 
welcoming, in the interest of universal peace and progress, that con- 
tact with other nations in which alone relevant facts can be fully 
developed and common-sense methods adopted for solutions of ques- 
tions of common interest. 

"Here we are, the greatest and most powerful nation on the 
face of the earth, possessing the capacity for world leadership. To 
rot morally in a policy of national isolation rather than to contest 
cleanly in those mental battlefields in which questions must be solved 
for the advancement of civilization, both here and abroad, is that 
the temper of the American people? I think not." 

These were the principles which Dawes repeated over and again 
in every one of his major speeches. Some of the newspapermen 
traveling with him urged that he say something new, or insert some 
new matter, so that their reports could be somewhat more news- 
worthy. But Dawes declined. In his next platform appearance, he 

"Some of the gentlemen of the press accompanying me have 
been urging that I change my speech. I have not. There is one issue 

238 Portrait of an American: 

in this campaign and one only on the Atlantic seaboard, out beyond 
to the Rockies, to the Pacific waters, in the Southland, or in the great 
middle area of our country. That issue is whether you stand on 
the rock of common sense with Calvin Coolidge, or upon the sinking 
sands of socialism with Robert M. LaFollette." 

Dawes was no orator in the accepted sense of the term. His 
voice, which was high-pitched, had none of the timbre of the silver- 
tongued spellbinder. He spoke too fast for full radio effectiveness. 
But his strong points were his winning personality and a deep ear- 
nestness and sincerity. Western crowds liked his emphatic gestures 
reminiscent of Theodore Roosevelt. The red-blooded nature of his 
campaign, his blunt and emphatic language, and his whole-souled 
forthrightness pleased his audiences 

It has always been a disputed question how much a Vice-Presi- 
dential candidate can help a ticket. There is no doubt that Dawes 
was of immense help to the Republican campaign of 1924 He was 
strong in the Western farm belt where Coohdge was weakest. And 
the fact that the world powers had unanimously adopted the Dawes 
Plan on reparations and that it went into effect in October, less than 
a month before the election, gave the Republican party a consider- 
able boost. Everett Sanders, the same man who had tried to prevent 
him from discussing the Ku Klux Klan, would soon announce from 
Republican campaign headquarters. 

"Dawes has been the most successful Vice-Presidential cam- 
paigner in American history. He has won hundreds of thousands of 
independent voters to the Republican banner. There are five words 
that we hear so often they have become a chant. They are: 1 like 
that man Dawes!' " 

Dawes himself was having the time of his life with just one 
single drawback. Wherever he went, his "Melody in A Minor" was 
being manhandled by bands of every description. 

"General Sherman," he wrote, "with justifiable profanity once 
expressed his detestation of the tune 'Marching Through Georgia/ 
to which he was compelled to listen whenever he appeared any- 
where I sympathize with his feeling when I listen to this piece of 
mine over and over. If it had not been fairly good music I should 
have been subjected to unlimited ridicule As it is, a toastmaster once 
introduced me as *both a businessman and a musician/ adding, It 


is a regret to me, however, that I find businessmen referring to him 
as a musician and musicians referring to him as a businessman/ " 

On November i Dawes closed his campaign with a picnic on 
the farm of his author friend George Ade, at Brook, Indiana. On 
the following Tuesday the Republican ticket won, carrying thirty- 
five of the forty-eight states with an electoral vote of 382, and draw- 
ing a popular plurality of 7,339,019. This victory was bigger than 
even the most optimistic Republican had dared hope. The Democrat 
Davis won 136 votes, all in the solid South. LaFoUette carried Wis- 

Dawes himself took no credit for the outcome. He wrote- 

"Under a government such as ours, and the method provided 
for selection of the President, the man who occupies that office, in 
his temperament, attitudes, and characteristics, will generally well 
represent the inarticulate opinion of the public as to the kind of 
leadership the country needs at the time. 

"When Coolidge was elected, the world desired tranquillity 
a reaction of its people from the excesses of war. That was the 
subconscious issue of the elections of 1924 in the United States, 
England, and France Where the victory of the conservative party 
associated itself in the public mind with a prospect of a tranquil 
future, the conservatives won, as they did in our country with Cool- 
idge, and in Britain with the Baldwin government Where, as in 
France, the attitude of the conservative party dofninated by Poin- 
car6 and his extreme nationalistic Ruhr policy was regarded as 
conducive to increased controversy, Herriot and the left were 

"What brought Calvin Coolidge to the favorable notice of our 
people generally was his action in the Boston police strike, which 
indicates courage in a period when growing lawlessness in the 
country had aroused public opinion. Coolidge personifies to our 
people calmness, common sense with purpose, and splendid courage/' 

Three days after the election in the United States, the so-called 
"Dawes Election*' was held in Germany. It was to choose a pew 
Reichstag for the German Republic. Supporters of the Dawes jplan 
won 322 seats, twice the strength of the Fascist opposition of the 
right and the Communist opposition of the left put together,. For 

240 Portrait of an American: 

the next five years, the term of the Dawes Plan, Germany and all 
Europe would experience a period of unbroken recovery. 

One of the few men not willing to speak in glowing terms about 
"the Dawes Plan* was Dawes himself. A few weeks before, in 
Philadelphia, he had been introduced for the hundredth time as "the 
savior of Europe." He had opened his speech with the words: 

"Throughout this campaign I have been introduced as the man 
who, alone and unaided, aU by himself, drew up and adopted what 
is known as the Dawes Plan, I have explained as best I could all 
along that that plan was the result of concerted effort. It could not 
have been possible without the full eflFort and full cooperation of 
every member To have it said repeatedly that I did it alone, just 
between us makes me sick!" 

On March 2, 1925, the Vice-President-Elect with Mrs. Dawes 
and their adopted children, Dana and Virginia, left Chicago for 
Washington. Dawes was still on the greener side of sixty years. His 
hair was a little thinner than formerly but it had hardly a streak of 
gray. He was in superb physical condition. 

The nation wondered how the vigorous Dawes would perform 
in this strange office to which he had been elected, an office lying 
somewhere between the executive and legislative branch and where 
he presided by constitutional dictum over a body which would much 
rather elect its own presiding officer as the House of Representatives 
elects its Speaker. 

The answer of how he would perform was not to be long de- 

Chapter Seventeen 


J he morning of March 4, 1925, held the promise of the 
most pleasant, comfortable, and generally satisfactory inauguration 
day in many years. Three days of rain had been succeeded by sun- 
shine ideal for the ceremonies and the brief but snappy parade that 
were scheduled. "Coolidge luck" was still holding, even to the be- 
havior of the elements. 

There had been just one mishap and only a perplexed subcom- 
mittee of the civic inaugural committee knew about that. Governors 
of the states, including a feminine one from Wyoming, were, as their 
predecessors had from time immemorial, to ride imposingly astride 
horses in the inaugural parade, spaced in the order of the admission 
of their states into the Union. But the horse age had about come to 
its end. More governors than ever before had come for the inaugura- 
tion of the first Yankee President since Franklin Pierce There were, 
in fact, more governors than horses But the committee had scam- 
pered around and remedied the unbalance. 

For all the curtailments upon which Calvin Coolidge had 
insisted in the interests of economy and Coolidge simplicity, the 
ceremonies were to be impressive The speech, given out well in 
advance, was in type in every newspaper office in the land, ready 
for release when the President uttered the first word of it. It was 
a good Coolidge speech, stressing economy, promising a tax cut, 
and calling for an "adequate army and navy/* 

No Vice-Presidential speech was available Stevenson, Hobart, 
Fairbanks, Sherman, Marshall, Coolidge, and even Theodore Roose- 


Portrait of an American: 

velt had assumed the Vice-Presidency with no more than a few 
pleasantries suitable to the occasion Charles G. Dawes, who had 
arrived quietly a day or two before, had given no indication that 
he would do differently. Unknown to him, a chorus from the Hamil- 
ton Club had come down from Chicago and was conducting im- 
promptu serenades. He had given a dinner the night before inaugu- 
ration. Pershing, who was to have been there, was ill in Cuba and 
only the Dawes kin and Owen D. Young sat down to table 

The ceremonies were to begin as always in the Senate chamber 
with the swearing in of the new Vice-President. Then, after a third 
of the membership of the Senate, chosen at the previous election, 
had taken their oaths, the Vice-President, the legislative and judicial 
branches of the government, the governors of the states, the Cabinet, 
and high officers of the Army and Navy would stand outside on the 
east entrance while the President, in solemnity and simple dignity, 
would take the oath of office. 

The Senate chamber formed a brilliant setting for the first 
event of the day. The Senators were crowded to one side of the 
chamber On the other side were placed members of the House of 
Representatives. The Supreme Court occupied the front row, all in 
black. The man in the huge black robe was Chief Justice William 
Howard Taft, who had himself taken the President's oath on the 
snowiest, stormiest of all inauguration days and now was to admin- 
ister it to a successor Near the front were the governors of the 
sovereign states. 

Across the aisle sat the President of the United States and his 
Cabinet. Then came the diplomatic representatives of foreign coun- 
tries, ambassadors in front, ministers just behind. No glory of uni- 
form is comparable to diplomatic dress, and none ever equaled the 
equipage of Seiior Don Juan Riano Gayangos, the Spanish Ambassa- 
dor and dean of the Corps on that occasion, although British Am- 
bassador Sir Esme Howard, with gold lace, orders, and decorations, 
approached Gayangos in elegance. 

The galleries were packed Mrs Coolidge, Mrs. Dawes, and 
their parties sat in reserved sections. Everyone of eminence in 
Washington was on hand. Outside, a hundred thousand men and 
women faced the Roman portico where the President would be 
sworn in and address them. 


Promptly at noon (Senate clock time), Dawes, correctly dressed 
and looking a little shy, mounted the podium and took the oath 
from President pro tern Albert B. Cummins. That completed, the 
new Vice-President picked up a gold-mounted and inscribed gavel 
made from a portion of a piano stool he had used as a boy and 
gently tapped the extraordinary session of the Sixty-ninth Congress 
to order. The gavel had been presented to hi that morning by 
Marietta Post No. 68 of the American Legion. 

Dawes began his speech in a low tone. 

'What I say upon entering this office should relate to its ad- 
ministration and the conditions under which it is administered,'* he 
said. "Unlike the vast majority of deliberative and legislative bodies, 
the Senate does not elect its Presiding Officer. He is designated for 
his duty by the Constitution of the United States." 

The full portent of that was not lost on the Senators. Here was 
a man calling attention to the fact that forty-eight states had partici- 
pated in his election and certainly he would claim the same interest 
in the rules that they, each elected by a single state, could claim. 
Before they could recover, Dawes went on: 

"In the administration of this office his duty is to be concerned 
with the methods of effective procedure as distinguished from any 
legislative policy of the body over which he presides It is not for 
the Vice-President to be personally concerned with the interests of 
political parties or with the policies or projects involved in legislative 
action, save in that unusual contingency where, under the Constitu- 
tion, it becomes necessary for him to cast the deciding vote in the 
case of a tie. Nor should he, in view of that unusual contingency, 
assume any attitude toward prospective legislation until the con- 
tingency occurs. Any other course would inevitably lessen the weight 
of his influence in those impartial and nonpartisan matters with 
which it is his duty, under die Constitution of the United States, 
to be concerned 

"In my conduct I trust I may yield to no Senator in fairness, 
courtesy, and kindliness and in deference to those unwritten laws 
which always govern any association of gentlemen, whether official 
or private. It shall be my purpose not to transgress in any way 
those limits to my official activity determined by the Constitution of 
the United States and by proper parliamentary procedure. But the 

244 Portrait of an American: 

Vice-President, in part because he is not elected by the members 
of this body, not by a state, but by the people of the United States, 
and his constitutional and official relations are to the Senate as a 
whole, should always express himself on the relation of its methods 
of transacting public business to the welfare of the nation. 

"For him, therefore, officially to call to the attention of the 
Senate any collective duty such as an improvement in the method 
under which its business is carried on, so far from being an irrelevant 
and uncalled-for action on his part, is a supreme duty." 

Dawes warmed to his subject. His voice rose. He shook his fin- 
ger for emphasis. In past years, he went on, the customs had evolved 
out of a commendable feeling of the members of the Senate of fair- 
ness, courtesy, and consideration for each other. But minorities had 
taken advantage of those rules and turned them against the interests 
of the country, and incrusted tradition had stayed the Senate's hand 
in dealing with such headlong individuals and blocs. 

"What would be the attitude of the American people and of the 
individual Senators themselves toward a proposed system of rules 
if this were the first session of the Senate of the United States in- 
stead of the first session of the Senate in the Sixty-ninth Congress?" 
he asked, and answered himself: "The impact of outraged public 
opinion, reflected in the attitude of the Senators themselves, would 
crush the proposal like an eggshell/* 

Now Dawes turned to Senate Rule Twenty-two: 

"That rule/* he contended, "which at times enables Senators to 
consume in oratory those last precious moments of a session needed 
for momentous decisions, places in the hands of one or a minority 
of Senators a greater power than the veto power of the President 
of the United States, which is limited in its effectiveness by an af- 
firmative two-thirds vote/' 

For nearly twenty minutes he vigorously and pungently at- 
tacked the rules conducive to dawdling and deadlock, filibuster, 
obstruction, and circumlocution, the rules that seemed made to order 
for minority and bloc interference. 

The Senate burned. Members of the House of Representatives, 
a body so large and unwieldy that it can operate only with some 
form of cloture, were enjoying the proceedings. Others than the 
members of the legislative branch listened first with formal atten- 


tiveness, then with amazement. In newspaper offices all over the 
land, new eight-column banner headings were written, and the news- 
papers went to press without waiting for the Coolidge speech. Vice- 
President Dawes had stolen the headlines from the President. 

The things Dawes had said about the rules had been said many 
times before in the Senate chamber. One President of the United 
States, Woodrow Wilson, with wide public support, had brought 
about a modification providing for checking debate by a two-thirds 
rule The Wilson device had been used once or twice. But what 
evoked the Senate's wrath was that Dawes had never presided over 
a legislative body and had not even waited for the Senate grudg- 
ingly to accept him. Here was a man with a great popular following, 
using the dais and the backdrop of a spotlighted occasion to appeal 
not merely to glowering Senators but over their heads to the country. 
Also, and perhaps more consistently than any other man, he had the 
success habit he was accustomed to achieve what he set out to 

When the new Vice-President had finished, there was an icy 
silence among the Republicans, while Democratic Senators ex- 
changed remarks of biting sarcasm. But if the Senate deplored the 
speech, the nation applauded. In the words of the Boston Transcript: 
"Dawes has no one but the people with him." 

Dawes himself noted in his diary: 

"It is one thing to write and deliver an address and another to 
get the public to think it over The course I followed to bring my 
inaugural speech to general public attention succeeeded. It was 
simple, consisting of a delivery so emphatic and jarring upon the 
atmosphere of the occasion as to compel the general reading of the 
speech, because of the indignation it created on the spot, especially 
among Senators. And yet, when the public read the speech, they 
found it only plain argument and simple statement, not provocative 
in nature, and addressed wholly to the reason and not the prejudices 
or emotions of the reader. 

"Ordinarily, of course, the Vice-President's inaugural speech 
has been a minor incident of the program, carried out in the Senate 
in the morning session, just preceding the inauguration of the newly 
elected President on the steps of the Capitol outside. For a new 
Vice-President, elected by the people and not by the Senate to 

246 Portrait of an American: 

discuss in his inaugural the proper conduct of the hody over which 
he is to preside was not customary, but it is difficult to indict it as 
out of place. 

"My forceful manner of delivery was resented: Bernard Shaw 
was right when he said: 'No offensive truth is ever properly pre- 
sented without causing irritation.* " 

But fate, as if to pour balm on the wounded feelings of the 
Senators, decreed that Dawes himself should be caught napping 
only five days later. 

Among all of Coolidge's nominations for his Cabinet, only 
that of Charles Beecher Warren of Michigan to the office of Attorney 
General met with resistance. Senator Walsh of Montana charged 
that Warren had been connected with the "Sugar Trust" and was 
therefore disqualified to head the Department of Justice which was 
responsible for the enforcement of the Sherman Antitrust Act. 

For days Dawes presided wearily over the Senate sessions in 
which Warren was attacked and defended, and defended and at- 
tacked again. At last, late in the afternoon of March 9, he asked 
Senators Curtis and Robinson, the majority and minority leaders, 
if there would be a vote that day. They told him that six more Sena- 
tors had given notice of their intention to speak and, therefore, it 
would be impossible to reach a roll call. Dawes went to his suite in 
the Willard Hotel and was fast asleep when the Senate underwent one 
of the sudden changes for which it is noted Five of the Senators 
who had expected to speak abandoned their plans. One spoke. Then 
Curtis asked for a roll call 

The roll call proceeded. Nine nominal Republicans aligned with 
the Democrats and it quickly became evident that a tie vote might 
result. A frantic call went out for the Vice-President As Dawes 
hurried from his hotel room, a forty-to-forty vote defeating the 
nomination was tabulated. And while Republican Senators tried to 
delay further proceedings until Dawes' arrival, using the very par- 
liamentary tactics he despised, Senator Overman of North Carolina, 
the only Democrat who had supported the nomination, changed his 
vote and definitely killed the nomination just before Dawes reached 
the Chamber. 

The incident at once became Washington's choicest morsel of 


conversation. Republican Senators sharply criticized Dawes, Demo- 
crats ridiculed him. And the Willard Hotel, where Dawes stayed, 
had to remove from its F Street entrance a crude sign, placed there 
by a prankster: "Dawes Slept Here!" 

A day or two after the event, Dawes was showing a Chicago 
friend around the Capitol. The two friends sat down in the chamber 
of the Supreme Court. An uninteresting case was being argued, 
and the lawyer arguing it was a bore. Justice Van Devanter was 
nodding. Justice Holmes was pulling his mustache in an effort to 
keep awake. 

Alert Chief Justice William Howard Taft, who had seen his 
old friend enter, scribbled a message on a piece of paper and sent 
it to Dawes. It read. "Come up here This is a good place to sleep " 

Dawes took the lesson to heart. Never again was he to take a 
chance on the uncertainties of the Senate. 

With the special session of the Senate in adjournment, Dawes 
stayed over in Washington to make a speech at a dinner honoring 
William Jennings Bryan on his sixty-fifth birthday. After fending 
off some good-natured jokes about his own "activity and inactivity 
in the Senate/' he paid a tribute to Bryan as "a clean man in every 
way." About the three occasions on which Bryan had unsuccessfully 
run for President, and the other three times when, just as unsuccess- 
fully, he had backed Democratic candidates, Dawes had this to say: 

"I have been listening to speeches telling of Colonel Bryan's 
fight for the commoner and against the forces of plutocracy. I knew 
him before any man in this room did. We were young together in 
Lincoln. At that time I represented the commoner and he repre- 
sented plutocracy. He lived in a two-story house and had a one- 
horse surrey. I lived in a coffee-mill cottage and had neither surrey 
nor horse. He often would come by our house and take us for a ride. 

"Since that time he has, three times directly and three times 
indirectly, taken the National Democratic Party for a ride." 

After the speech, Bryan went over to shake Dawes* hand. It was 
the last meeting of the two old friends. That night Bryan went to 
Dayton, Tennessee, to take part in the Scopes evolution trial. There, 
on July 26, he died, 

248 Portrait of an American: 

Caught napping or not, Dawes had every intention to do what 
he could to reform Senate rules. Immediately after the dinner in 
honor of Bryan, he left for a tour to carry the issue to the people. In 
some of the larger cities on his long itinerary, he addressed audiences 
of between six and twelve thousand persons. 

There can be no doubt that individual Senators and groups of 
Senators have on occasion used the Senate rules to blackjack or 
blackmail the Senate But it is doubtful whether a minority could 
ever have become as tyrannical as Dawes feared. The bloc system, 
which plagued the Republican stalwarts in the Senate, did not last 
long beyond the early twenties. It was liquidated, as was indeed 
most of the Republican membership, in the economic depression 
which followed 

Later on, the constitutional amendment abolishing the "lame 
duck" session of Congress was to do more. Individual filibusters flour- 
ished best under the mandatory March 4 adjournment date. But when 
Dawes' term as Vice-President came to an end, the rules against which 
he had protested and campaigned were still in effect The audiences 
who came to listen to him on his flying tour were perhaps more 
interested in the man than in his message. No popular movement 
arose to help him in his efforts at reform With all the sorrows of the 
world, and all the follies of mankind, it proved too difficult even for 
Dawes to arouse and sustain interest in the rules under which a 
parliamentary body operates. 

Dawes* otherwise ineffectual trip had one pleasant interruption 
he stayed in Boston for the isoth celebration of Patriots' Day, with 
its lighting of lanterns in the spire of Old North Church and a re- 
enactment of the ride of Paul Revere and William Dawes in 1775. 
General John J. Pershing, who had completed his tour of duty as 
Chief of Staff, was present to put an^Araiy sergeant on a horse to 
ride the Revere route, while Dawes helped another sergeant on his 
mount to retrace the route his great-great-grandfather William had 
ridden the same night While the two modern horsemen were on 
their way, now somewhat lengthened by detours around souvenir 
stores, tourist cabins, gasoline stations, and other works of man, 
the assembly in Boston revived a bit of poetry which had been writ- 
ten to give Dawes' great-great-grandfaiher his due. The poet Long- 
fellow had neglected the role of William Dawes because, he said, 


"the name Revere rhymed better" A less famous poet, Helen F. 
More, had had no such difficulty Her poem ran: 

What's in a Name 

I am a wandering, bitter shade, 
Never of me was a hero made; 
Poets have never sung my praise; 
Nobody crowned my brow with bays, 
And if you ask me the fatal cause, 
I answer only, "My name was Dawes " 

'Tis all very well for the children to hear 
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere, 
But why should my name be quite forgot 
Who rode as boldly and well, God wot? 
Why should I ask? The reason is clear. 
My name was Dawes and his Revere. 

When the lights from Old North Church flashed out, 

Paul Revere was waiting about 

But I was already on my way 

The shadows of night fell cold and gray 

As I rode with never a break or pause, 

But what was the use when my name was Dawes? 

History rings with his silvery name. 
Closed to me are the portals of fame. 
Had he been Dawes and I Revere 
No one had heard of him, I fear 
No one has heard of me because 
He was Revere and I was Dawes. 

Shortly after they met on the speakers' rostrum in Boston, 
Dawes told Pershmg that their old restaurant keeper, Don Cameron, 
was ill, and that he had seen to it that Cameron's remaining days 
would be comfortable. Pershing answered with a check. "I want old 
Don to know I have not forgotten him/' 

Dawes was back in Washington for the autumn session of Con- 

25 Portrait of an American: 

"The Vice-President's room come to think of it is an im- 
pressive one/' he wrote. "Its chief ornaments are Rembrandt Peale's 
portrait of Washington painted in 1795, and said to be his best 
likeness and a great chandelier brought up from the White House 
after some Rooseveltian alterations of that mansion. 

"During the session of Congress, whenever the Senate is not 
sitting, large delegations of visitors are piloted through the Capitol 
corridors and either pass by or through the Vice-President's office, 
depending upon whether or not that official is seated at his desk 
his door as a rule being kept open for better ventilation. In case 
he is there, the visitors all stop and peek in or walk sideways past 
the door to look in. It was under these circumstances that lie late 
Thomas Marshall called out. Tf you don't come in, throw me a pea- 

"To those who have heard the guides solemnly describe the his- 
torical relics of the Vice-President's office, the following Capitol 
legends of the office may seem irreverent, but they are at least worth 

"The Dolly Madison mirror from the White House, which is not 
large and hangs about eight feet above the floor, was hung so, it is 
said, in order that tall Vice-President Fairbanks could use it to tie 
his cravats. The fine mahogany cabinet which occupies the west side 
of the room is interesting only to the old-timers among the Senate 
employees as the alleged depository of the historic bottle of brandy 
which Andrew Johnson drank just before he made his inaugural 
address to the Senate as Vice-President, and which after nearly up- 
setting him quite upset his speech/* 

There were now in the Vice-President's room some other un- 
usual objects which Dawes did not mention On a table awaiting 
his return were piled up stacks and stacks of gavels There were 
gavels made of wood taken from Fanueil Hall, from the Washington 
elm under which George Washington had taken command of the 
American Army at Cambridge, and from Admiral Peary's North 
Pole ship, the Roosevelt. There were gavels of ivory and of myrtle 
wood. Ever since his opening speech to the Senate, they had kept 
pouring in from all corners of the country, many of them accom- 
panied by the suggestion that he use them on the Senate. There 
were gavels, too, in the form of underslung pipes. And pipes also 


had come from everywhere: hand-carved gold and silver pipes, 
gourd pipes, and peace pipes from Indian tribes. 

A few minutes before he went up to the Vice-President's chair 
for his first time, Dawes turned to John C. Crockett, for more than 
a quarter of a century Reading Clerk and Chief Clerk of the Senate 
"Crockett, I am going up against a job I don't know anything about, 
and I'm going to lean on you. I want you to help me/* 

"Yes, Mr. President," said Crockett, using Dawes' Senate title. 
Til quietly whisper any detail of procedure to you," 

"No, dammit, Crockett, say it out loud. I know and they know 
I don't know. Let's not pretend!" 

Dawes probably put in a greater number of man-hours in the 
presiding officer's chair than any of his immediate predecessors or 
successors A Vice-President can vacate the chair at will by the 
simple process of beckoning some Senator to assume it Garner, 
whose two years as Speaker and eight years as Vice-President formed 
the longest continuous service of any high parliamentary presiding 
officer in this country from its founding to the middle of the twenti- 
eth century, occupied the chair relatively seldom, and often took 
a seat on the floor. Dawes was never in the chamber except to preside. 

Impatient as he was with time-wasting tactics, and although 
he found a way to eliminate some of them, Dawes never resorted 
to any of the short cuts that Garner used to speed up proceedings. 
But, for a period of fifty years, Dawes shared with Garner the fame 
of being one of the two Senate presiding officers (Vice-Presidents 
or Presidents Pro Tempore) who never had a ruling overturned by 
the Senate. 

"If these Senators whom I have called to the chair during my 
absence have occasionally been overruled, it is probably because 
they endeavored to rule so as to further a political motive, something 
which Senators tell me is occasionally expected in the Chair, but 
which I have never done," he wrote. 

It was one of the boldest strokes of initiative ever taken by the 
presiding officer of a parliamentary body when Dawes, in the short 
session of Congress ending on March 4, 1927, assumed nonpartisan 
leadership in the Senate, forcing cloture not only on the McNary- 
Haugen bill, but also on the McFadden-Pepper bill which revised 

2,52 Portrait of an American: 

the National Bank Act and indefinitely extended the charters of the 
Federal Reserve Banks. 

The national-bank section of the Pepper-McFadden bill had 
been framed in 1924 by Comptroller of the Currency Henry M. 
Dawes, brother of the Vice-President. It provided for important 
modifications in the law governing national banks. At that time, 
state banks could join the Federal Reserve System if they wished, 
whereas the national banks were compelled to join The strictures 
put upon the national banks by antiquated laws were such that many 
of them were taking out the more liberal state charters, thus re- 
moving themselves from a class that was compelled to join the Fed- 
eral Reserve System to one that could make its choice. The Gov- 
ernment was thus losing control over the Federal Reserve System, 
and the national banking system was being dangerously under- 
mined. The Pepper-McFadden bill had been drafted to meet this 
danger, and carried with it an indefinite extension of the charter of 
the Federal Reserve System which otherwise would have expired 

Dawes brought together in his office some of the most conserva- 
tive and some of the most radical members of the Senate. 

"I know perfectly well that an undercover filibuster is under 
way against both these bills/' Dawes addressed the gathering. "I 
mean by that, debate on other measures is being prolonged solely 
to keep either of these bills from being reached If either one of them 
is reached, there will be an open filibuster Without cloture, neither 
the McNary-Haugen bill nor the McFadden-Pepper bill can get a 
vote. I propose that you men who oppose the McNary-Haugen bill 
vote for cloture on it; then, if you have got the votes, beat it. But 
let's have some action instead of this name-calling that is going 

Dawes forced an agreement that both bills should be voted on. 
His energetic action produced the unprecedented situation that the 
bank-bill proponents circulated the cloture proposal for the McNary- 
Haugen bill, while the McNary-Haugen supporters circulated the 
clottire proposal for the bank bill. Both bills passed President Cool- 
idge vetoed the McNary-Haugen bill, but the McFadden-Pepper 
bill became law. Dawes later felt that this law had at least warded 


off threatened catastrophe in the strained financial situation shortly 
after the renewal of the Federal Reserve System law. 

As tinder his watchful eyes the debate proceeded on the floor 
day after day, Dawes sat in the Vice-President's chair and jotted 
down contemplative character sketches of the Senators. If they were 
uncomplimentary, he omitted the name of the Senator: 

"I have often noticed in the Senate that ignorance, when it is a 
natural gift and not the result of mental indolence, is a rather at- 
tractive human quality when associated with courage and sincerity. 
It creates a sense of their own superiority in the minds of others, 
without creating irritation. It inspires kindly treatment from the 
world. But we have some individuals who seem to have been cursed 
at birth with the double heritage of ignorance and grouchiness. Of 
these only I speak. None of them would have ever arrived in public 
life had it not been for an extraordinary endowment with nervous 
energy. This is the one gift which everybody envies them. Such men, 
although they are adept and successful publicity seekers, have no 
great influence, their astonishing amount of misdirected energy 
cannot make up for their lack of common sense. Their frequent dia- 
tribes usually evoke no reply, for, as the Spaniards say: It's a waste 
of lather to shave an ass/ " 

"I suppose Senator , from sheer weariness or, more likely, 

because to continue longer would endanger the publication of the 
speech in the morning paper, will soon conclude. Then we can pass 
the appropriation bill/' 

"There are certain men who so like to wield the torch that, while 
they occasionally and usefully burn away underbrush, they are not 
content until they burn some houses as well. These house-burners 
are represented in the Senate. At times, with great public benefit 
and acclaim, they will burn a rotten structure. If they were to be 
content with this, all would go well with them in public life. But, 
unfortunately for their highest ambitions, they always, in their 
career, try to set ablaze too many good structures, and a common- 
sense public never makes a hero out of one whom they come to 
consider a pyromaniac." 

254 Portrait of an American: 

"When Boulder Dam is built, there should be on it somewhere 
a tablet to Senator Hiram Johnson, without whose untiring and able 
leadership it would have failed. I never saw a man more faithful and 
effective in a hard fight than Johnson has been in this one." 

"Senator Joseph T. Robinson is a man of great ability, of high 
character, of industry, and exceptional qualifications as a leader. He 
has the courage of a lion He never deceives, and his decisions are 
quick but sound. I regard him as a statesman of the highest rank/' 

"I am inclined to regard James W. Wadsworth of New York as 
the ablest of the Senators This high estimate has not been influenced 
by a close friendship. I have never had any intimate associations in 
work or interests with him But viewed from every angle, not only as 
a Senator but as one qualified for constructive leadership (mental 
or moral, military or civil, in Congress or out), I regard him as most 

"Borah always brings to my mind the great parliamentary lead- 
ers of the past and, when he speaks, it seems a far cry from the tactics 
are bringing general discredit upon Senate debates/' 

And of Reed, the Democrat from Missouri who had commented 
on Dawes' opening speech with the acid remark, "His melody of 
voice, grace of gesture, and majesty of presence were only excelled 
by his modesty!" Dawes wrote: 

"I had a pleasant talk with James A. Reed Everybody regrets 
that he is voluntarily leaving public life after eighteen years of bril- 
liant service in the Senate. As an orator, he is in a class by himself, 
a representative of the able and fearless statesmen of the old school. 
I have many times been the target of his shafts of wit and satire but, 
after all, that is really something of a distinction/* 

For before the term of Dawes* office had reached the halfway 
mark, his wholehearted forthrightness, fairness, and invariable kind- 
liness had won him the ungrudging respect of the Senate, and made 
him many warm friends. 


On March 4, 1927, the session of Congress which completed 
Dawes' first two years in office came to an end. The Senate was tied 
up once again in a dreary filibuster, in which a minority was trying 
to seat Senator-Elect William S Vare of Pennsylvania, charged with 
excessive election expenditures Important legislation, including a 
deficiency appropriation bill, failed. 

One minute before twelve o'clock, Dawes rapped his gavel 
sharply and said: "It is customary for the Vice-President, at the 
beginning and ending of a session of Congress, to address the Senate 
upon an appropriate topic The comments the Chair has to make 
on this occasion will be very brief. 

"The Chair regards the results of the present legislative session 
as primarily due to the defective rules of die Senate under which a 
minority can prevent a majority from its constitutional right of 
bringing measures to a vote This is the only great parliamentary 
body in the world where such a situation exists. 

"On this closing day of the second session of the Sixty-ninth 
Congress, the Chair commends to the Senate the remarks on the 
Senate rules which he made on the first day of the first session of 
the Congress. 

"The hour of twelve o'clock having arrived, the Senate stands 
in adjournment, sine die" 

James Alexander Reed of Missouri, the uncontested master of 
invective, ridicule, and sarcasm in his generation, smiled a friendly 
smile, and, from his Senate seat, waved to Dawes. 

Dawes had been enjoying his return to Washington It was like 
a vacation, for the work pace, by his standards, was leisurely. Vice- 
President and Mrs. Dawes gave dinners, big and little, at their home 
on Behnont Street Dawes had his own plan of dining, which was 
the despair of the sticklers for protocol. He would conform only 
when the occasion absolutely required formality. His dinners for 
President and Mrs. Coolidge met the prescribed form to the letter 
during the meal, but afterward there was an informality and a vari- 
ety of entertainment which kept the President up long beyond his 
accustomed bedtime. 

The dinners that Dawes liked most to give brought together 

256 Portrait of an American: 

scholars, musicians, explorers, aviators, financial giants, and just old 
friends. They caused the saying in Washington that "everybody has 
a good time at the Dawes dinners, but he is just as likely as not to 
put a fiddler ahead of the Secretary of State in the seating." 

There is an entry in his diary telling of another dinner, one at 
which he had been a guest It had been in New York, where Vice- 
President Dawes had gone for a conference on reparation questions 
with Charles Evans Hughes and Owen Young 

"On Monday noon, General Harbord gave a lunch at India 
House and, in the evening, I addressed a joint meeting of the New 
York Post Society of Military Engineers and the American Society of 
Mechanical Engineers. Major General Ely, Admiral De Steiguer, 
General Harbord, General Vanderbilt, and others joined in the dis- 
cussion after my speech. I made a short visit to the Armistice Ball 
of the British Great War Veterans at the Plaza Hotel, another bril- 
liant affair, and when I was taken to the center of the hotel, the 
dancing stopped and the "Star Spangled Banner" was played by the 
band. I mention these things to give a contrasting background of a 
tragic and pathetic incident, one which brought me for the last time 
to die side of a boyhood friend, and has been unrolling for me since 
the memory of long ago 

"In the midst of all these festivities, I received a telegram from 
my son-in-law in Chicago, saying * DIED YESTERDAY CHARLES 


IN HIS CARE/ At Miss EelTs private school at Marietta, Ohio, which I 
attended at the age of twelve years fifty-one years ago I first knew 
him. I remembered him then chiefly as a good-natured boy who was 
always laughing, and who, with a front seat in school and a book so 
held that the teacher could not see his face, would twist his counte- 
nance into the most absurd grimaces for the benefit of the rest of us 
on the back seats. 

"Our ways soon parted, but we had become good friends, and 
the occasion of our next meeting was during the week of my gradua- 
tion from the Cincinnati Law School in 1886 Tom Dawson (after- 
ward Minister to Chile and Colombia) had won the hundred-dollar 
prize for the best essay, and was spending a portion of it upon a 
dinner in a private room of the old Denison Hotel at Cincinnati, to 
assuage the disappointment of his competitors, of whom I was one. 


'When we were seated, walked in with a napkin over his 

arm. He was a waiter at the hotel. He was visibly embarrassed. It 
took me some time to get him at his ease. That was the last time- 
forty-two years ago-that I talked at length with him. But I have seen 
him several times since. 

"The first time was on the streets of Chicago, at least twenty 
years ago, when I recognized him as a dilapidated and disconsolate 
tramp with ragged clothing. But he had recognized me first and 
turned away. He would not allow me to catch him. If I walked fast 
after him, he would walk faster; if I started to trot, he would trot. I 
knew then that pride had not left him, and a man that keeps his pride 
is never wholly lost. It was not until years afterward that I heard 
from him. He appealed for help from a New York public hospital, 
which I gave him, writing him that he could call on me any time. 
But he did not do so for another space of years. When, several years 
ago, once more in sickness, he asked aid, I sent it, then continued to 
send him a monthly check thereafter until his death. 

"When on Monday morning I visited the undertaker to arrange 
the burial, he told me that when cashed my checks at his lodg- 
ing house, he had said that I was his friend, and when he died alone 
in his room and was taken to the morgue, the lodginghouse keeper 
told the undertaker to notify me. The last time I saw him was at the 
City Morgue yesterday morning. Owen Young and I were unrecog- 
nized when we went there with the undertaker, and while the search 
was being made for his body, which was there with eighty others 
Owing to some mistake in his name on the commitment papers, the 
first body shown me was not his But on the second steel litter which 
was drawn on rollers from its alcove, there beneath the terrible 
mask left by long years of poverty and dissipation, I saw the face of 
my boyhood friend. His wasted body was covered by an old and 
frayed overcoat. He had died uncared for in any way. 

"Besides the morgue attendant, Mr. Young, and myself, there 
were present three soldiers in uniform, who had been looking for a 
missing comrade. As I stood uncovered, they took off their caps, and 
one of them asked: Is he your brother?' 'No ? ' I replied, 'just a friend.* 

"But as I walked away, I thought, 'Are we not all brothers?' " 

Chapter Eighteen 


J do not choose to run for President in 1928," President 
Coolidge said in the South Dakota Black Hills on August 2, 1927, 
exactly four years after he had assumed the Presidency. 

If this carefully and puzzhngly worded statement did not pre- 
clude a Coolidge draft, it did open the door for the nomination of 
another Republican presidential candidate. Four names were almost 
immediately under discussion: Hughes, Hoover, Lowden, and 

Charles Evans Hughes took his name out of the debate at once. 
Dawes, although his stand was not quite as unequivocal, made it 
clear from the beginning that he had no intention of pressing his 
candidacy in any way. To his brother Henry, who wanted to know 
his feelings in the matter, he stated: 

"I have had friends who have been President and it killed them. 
I have no desire to end my life that way. However, no American can 
admit that he would consider being President other than a great 
accomplishment. As far as I and the Presidency are concerned, I am 
like a chip on the tide of the ocean, and I don't know and am not 
going to try to control where it might drift/' 

"But there is another point to consider/' Henry Dawes urged, 
"and that is your obligation if you can do things in the office some 
other man might not be able to do." 

"That's all bosh. The man nominated will be either Hoover or 
Lowden. Essentially I think as they do and there is nothing I can do 
that they could not do." 



But editorials all over the country continued to push his candi- 
dacy. The North American Review thought the situation called for a 
revival of the precedent set at the very beginning of the Republic, 
when Presidents were succeeded by the Vice-Presidents who had 
served under them Washington by Adams, and Adams by Jefferson. 
"There could be no more auspicious solution of the problem created 
by President Coolidge's self-denying choice than to hark back to 
that rule of our early days and to select for his successor the man who 
had served with him as Vice-President and who, in doing so, has 
vitalized, energized, and magnified that office as was never done 
before," said a leading editorial in the Review. "The first occupant 
of the office declared it, with peevish ineptitude, to be 'the most 
insignificant that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagina- 
tion conceived/ Nobody would ever dream of thus describing it dur- 
ing the tenure of the incumbent. Nor would it be questioned that the 
roll of Presidents would be enriched by having added to it in 1929 
the name of Charles Gates Dawes." 

Dawes paid them no heed On September 10 he went to New 
York to say farewell to Pershing who was leaving the country to 
attend the American Legion convention in Paris. Dawes used the 
occasion to pay public and eloquent tribute to Democrats Woodrow 
Wilson and former Secretary of War Newton D. Baker. 

"President Wilson and Secretary Baker conferred on John Per- 
shing the title of Commander in Chief of the American Expeditionary 
Force and he was all the title indicated/' Dawes said. "Our great war 
President, Woodrow Wilson, and his able Secretary of War, Newton 
D. Baker, protected the American Army from political mischief- 
makers. Thank heaven, and them, Pershing did not, like the Generals 
of our Civil War, have political assassins firing at his back while he 
was facing the enemy. The nation should always be grateful for the 
courage, conviction, and action of Wilson and Baker," 

This was not the kind of talk a candidate for the Republican 
nomination was expected to make. But the Dawes-for-President 
movement was mounting nonetheless. In the beginning of Decem- 
ber, when Dawes returned to Washington for the session of Con- 
gress, he made an effort to stifle the boom with a statement only 
slightly longer than Coolidge's announcement: 

"I am not a candidate for the Presidency. I favor the nomination 

260 Portrait of an American: 

of Frank O. Lowden, assuming President Coolidge is not a candi- 

It was well understood that Dawes was tied to Lowden by 
cords of loyalty But practical politicians also understood that Low- 
den's candidacy did not have a chance in the changed situation 
within the Republican Party. They continued to press Dawes. But 
he turned a deaf ear to all entreaties. 

Thus, while Lowden's campaign continued listless, and Calvin 
Coolidge loomed in the background as an unknown quantity, Hoover 
scouts redoubled their activity, touring the country in the quest of 
delegates for their candidate. 

Dawes, meantime, absented himself from politics and resumed 
a favorite extracurricular occupation of his, that of lecturing at the 
Army War College on the military principles of supply in allied 
armies. Generals Pershing, Mason Patrick, Edgar Jadwin, and many 
of Dawes* old associates of World War I attended the lectures, as 
did many young officers, among them one Captain Dwight D 
Eisenhower, later to be President of the United States. 

"I like this experience at the War College best when I can get 
off the platform and down into the bull pen with these military 
experts," Dawes wrote "To present to their keen intelligence and 
immediate comprehension and acceptance certain new principles of 
warfare, the recognition and establishment of which only dire neces- 
sity made possible, brings to me that satisfaction which always comes 
upon those rare occasions when one can impart relevant information 
and constructive suggestions to experts " 

In June, 1928, delegates to the Republican national convention 
began to arrive in Kansas City. Speculation was still revolving 
around a draft of Calvin Coolidge. Lowden had an undetermined 
number of delegates, but was undoubtedly short of the 250 he had 
expected. Hoover forces believed that, barring a strong resurgence 
of the "Draft Coolidge" sentiment, they would have the 545 conven- 
tion votes then required for nomination. 

The "Draft Coolidge" movement collapsed. Lowden withdrew 
his candidacy. In the one and only ballot of the convention, Hoover 
received 837 votes. A last-ditch group of 74 voted for Lowden, and 


171 more were divided among Curtis, Watson, Norris, Coolidge, 
Goff, Dawes, and Hughes. 

"Hoover triumphed in his fight for the nomination through 
ability, inherent merit, and persistence in organized effort," Dawes 
wrote into his diary "He is a man of courage and character. I have 
always admired him, having come to know him, his attitudes, and 
his methods during the first year of the American budget and in 
France during the post-Armistice period of the war. The attacks on 
him during the preconvention campaign only strengthened him. The 
justified association in the public mind of a man's name with real 
accomplishment in the pubhc service and in the service of humanity 
is always his best protection against the tongue of slander/' 

It was on August 7, 1927, five days after Coolidge's famous 
statement, that Dawes had been the starred orator at the dedication 
of the Peace Bridge at Buffalo. The event had been memorable. 
Vice-President Dawes, Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg, and 
Governor Alfred E, Smith of New York were the ranking American 
officials, while the British Empire was represented by the Prince of 
Wales, future King Edward VIII, Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, 
and Premier MacKenzie King, of Canada. 

The Vice-President and the Prince sat in the center of the span 
and exchanged greetings over a ribbon stretched across the bridge. 
Then Mrs. Dawes cut the ribbon with a pair of gilt scissors, and the 
two official groups went to a platform on the American side where 
Dawes delivered the principal address of the occasion before an 
audience of seventy-five thousand. 

The Naval Disarmament Conference at Geneva had just dis- 
banded in failure. The United States and Great Britain, pledged to 
equality, had been unable to agree upon what in the special necessi- 
ties of each nation constituted parity. Dawes took advantage of this 
peace celebration between the two countries with the long Atlantic- 
to-Pacific boundary to impress upon both of them the need to con- 
tinue their efforts at eliminating competitive war preparations. Urg- 
ing that it was unthinkable for the United States and Great Britain 
to place again upon their people the burden of competitive naval 
building because of a temporary disagreement among their experts 

262 Portrait of an American: 

on a matter of interpretation, Dawes kid down the simple proposi- 

"If in their respective programs under the principle of equality 
the United States requires heavy cruisers, which Great Britain does 
not need, and Great Britain requires light cruisers, which the United 
States does not need, there is no excuse for inaugurating a competi- 
tion under which ships will be built which neither of them need/' 

Dawes* incisive speech produced wide and favorable comment 
on both sides of the Atlantic. Prime Minister Baldwin was so im- 
pressed with it that he asked for, and received, Dawes' signed read- 
ing copy as a souvenir. But Dawes had his critics, too 

One group of them felt that his speech was "good common 
sense, but undiplomatic." Dawes noted in his diary "Common sense 
is never undiplomatic/* 

Other critics felt that the Vice-President, in dealing with royalty, 
had failed to follow the proper protocol. 

"When the Prince and I stepped from our cars," Dawes* diary 
reads, "I insisted that he precede me on the platform, as that ap- 
pealed to ine as the proper courtesy to show our guests. When he 
and I went through formal affairs later in the afternoon on the Cana- 
dian side, he insisted that I precede him. I mention this merely be- 
cause some American newspapers criticized a length this proceeding 
on the American side as indicating that our Government was improp- 
erly taking a backseat because I did not step ahead. Washington 
indulges in much discussion of questions of personal precedence, 
and to such a degree is offense sometimes taken if the precedents are 
not followed that the State Department undertakes to give advice in 
the matter, especially in connection with official dinners and other 
official occasions! I suppose this saves a lot of petty and undignified 
quarreling. But I do not think the American people care a 'whoop* 
about these things/* 

There was another American attendant at the dedication of 
Buffalo Bridge who was also soon mentioned in the country's news- 
papers and those of the world, but not in a tone of criticism. That 
was Secretary of State Kellogg who, not much later, submitted to 
the European powers a plan for the renunciation of war which took 
its name from him, received almost immediate and universal ad- 


herence, and was signed by twenty-three nations in September of 

Dawes himself played an important part in securing American 
ratification for the Kellogg Pact. This Pact, as well as the billion- 
dollar cruiser-building program for the United States were both on 
the agenda when the Senate reconvened on January 3, 1929, for the 
short two-month session left to the Coolidge Administration. Dawes 
put Vice-President-Elect Curtis into the chair for the first day, and 
went with Senator Borah to spend most of the day in his own room, 
laying plans to prevent a filibuster 

"I favor the Kellogg Treaty," Dawes stated, "but I favor the 
Cruiser bill just as strongly under existing circumstances It is not 
proposed to build cruisers to achieve naval superiority, but to attain 
naval equality under existing treaties Since the naval experts at 
Geneva were unable to interpret, in terms of ships, an agreed-upon 
principle of equality with Great Britain as extending to cruisers, it 
is now unwise for the United States to stop building cruisers, 

"The struggle of the world away from war will be slow and 
hard, and many steps which, when taken, may seem illogical and 
backward, will, in due time, be recognized as forward steps. There 
will be wars in the future, for human nature has not changed. But 
some may be avoided. About all I can see in this Kellogg treaty is a 
better chance for peace; but that is a great deal/' 

President Coolidge was as anxious as Dawes that the Kellogg 
Pact be ratified. But in spite of all of the steam the Vice-President 
generated, the vote did not come until January 15, after an impres- 
sive address by Senator Borah. 

"The final and short speech which Borah made rose to the 
heights of the historic orations of our forebears in the Senate years 
ago, when principles of fundamental importance to our nation's life 
were at stake/' 

Then, finally, the Senate voted overwhelmingly for ratification. 
For the result Dawes gave credit to a half-dozen Senators: Borah, 
Curtis, and the freshman Vandenberg for the Republicans, Robin- 
son, Tom Walsh, and Swanson of Virginia for the Democrats. 

The Cruiser bill was also called up, and was to have still rougher 
sailing. But in the end the clouds dispersed, and the bill was passed. 

And finally, the Senate completed action on the bill for the 

264 Portrait of an American: 

"Century of Progress" exposition at Chicago. Dawes, who sponsored 
the exposition, appeared before a Senate committee and was so 
genial that the committee was disappointed when he told them he 
wanted no federal appropriation the Fair would pay for itself. 

"January 24. Our fortieth wedding anniversary I brought 
home to my wife some flowers, which pleased her the more because, 
I regret to say, I generally forget the anniversary until she reminds 
me of it. But this time I did not" 

Dawes* Vice-Presidential term was now drawing to a close 

"I have found the task of presiding over the Senate, while fre- 
quently most interesting and exacting, at times rather irksome," he 
wrote. "This is natural, for most of my life has been in executive and 
administrative positions with specific objectives and well-defined 
authority and responsibilities. In such positions, one becomes accus- 
tomed to condensed and clear statements of fact, accompanied by 
arguments based upon them which appeal to reason and common 
sense rather than to prejudice or emotion. There are many able Sena- 
tors of business and legal training whose addresses are a delight. 
Their public life is devoted to constructive public service exacting 
in its demand for hard work and, as a rule, useful in proportion to it. 
Conscientious and considerate, with minds bent upon creating con- 
viction on debatable propositions and projects of immense public 
importance, they command a respect and influence, when speaking, 
greatly out of proportion to the size of their senatorial audience. 
Indeed, the surface indication of a useful speech is often a vacant 
Senate floor/* 

And in another mood: 

*I consider it no part of my duty to crown candidates for cherry- 
blossom or sundry other queens and, so far as I have any recollection, 
at no time since my nomination for or occupancy of this office have 
I kissed anyone except female relatives/* 

Nor had Dawes considered it part of his duty to trouble the 
President with unsolicited advice. Even before assuming office, he 
had written the following note to Coolidge: 

"I am not much of a letter writer, but I will try to say here what 
I would say to you if I saw you. 


"About sitting with the Cabinet: 

"I have always thought that unwise, long before it ever entered 
my head that I would have to pass upon the matter individually. So 
far as you and I are concerned, such a thing as a misunderstanding is 
impossible. That never entered my head. But if I should sit in the 
Cabinet meetings, the precedent would be fixed, and in the future 
it would sometime prove a very injurious thing to the country, in 
my judgment. 

"The Cabinet, and those who sit with it, should do so always at 
the discretion and inclination of the President. Our Constitution so 
intended it. 

"And again, the relationship is a confidential one, and the selec- 
tion of a confidant belongs to him who would be injured by the 
abuse of confidence however unintentional. Suppose, in the future, 
some President, with this precedent fixed, must face the alternative 
of inviting a loquacious publicity seeker into his private councils, or 
affronting him in the public eye by denying him what has come to 
be considered as his right how embarrassing it would be! 

"I have many times expressed these ideas when I had no thought 
of ever being nominated for the Vice-Presidency, or any other office. 

"If ever you want me in some matter where I can really be of 
assistance to you, you know how greatly I would esteem the privi- 
lege of serving you. But it is not necessary for me to report 'Tuesdays 
and Fridays* in order to be 'prepared for duty/ " 

And a diary note read: 

"My friendship and high respect for President Coolidge are such 
that it would be personally a pleasure to sit in his Cabinet, but I will 
not do so because, in my judgment, it involves a wrong principle. 

"The official relations of the President and Vice-President lend 
themselves to the encouragement of misapprehensions, which are 
easy to create I have always sensed the inherent embarrassments 
involved in the plan of having the Vice-President sit in the Cabinet, 
as Coolidge did in the Harding administration After my election, not 
knowing how Coolidge felt about it, I wrote him stating my views. 

"This was done to relieve him if he shared my views of any 
embarrassment, if he desired to carry them out, notwithstanding 
the fact that he had accepted Harding's invitation Again I did not 
want to do him the discourtesy of declining a possible invitation, 

266 Portrait of an American: 

and I thus avoided any necessity of such, a course, however remote/* 

As the end of his term neared, he wrote: 

"The busybodies and mischief-makers, of which Washington has 
its full quota, flutter around those in public position like birds of ill 
omen, and have said much about unpleasant relations between 
Coohdge and myself, but I have paid little, if any, attention to them. 
And if Coohdge has, I am mistaken/' 

Like every one else in Washington he enjoyed some of the new 
Coolidge stones which were springing up almost daily. He wrote of 
the latest one he had heard: 

*1 came back to Washington from New York last evening with 
Frank W. Stearns, the President's close friend and a man universally 
liked and respected. He is the embodiment of the cautious and con- 
siderate gentleman of the old school. He told me of an amusing 
conversation he had with the President. The latter was standing at 
his desk one day with a copy of the Intimate Papers of Colonel 
House' in his hand. He looked fixedly at Stearns and said: *Mr 
Stearns, the Constitution of the United States makes no provision 
for the position of unofficial adviser/ 'Mr. President/ responded 
Stearns, Tiave I ever given you any advice?' 'No,' said the President, 
*but I just thought I would tell you/ " 

Dawes had had no qualms about doing a good turn to an old 
friend. Chief Justice Taft, whose Supreme Court was then crowded 
in quarters in the old Senate Chamber, midway on the long Capitol 
corridor, had long wanted a home of its own for the Court. At last 
the bill was passed 

"I received the engrossed bill for the erection of the new build- 
ing, and signed it as President of the Senate. Less than fifteen min- 
utes later, Chief Justice Taft telephoned, asking whether I had signed 
the bill He was anxious to have President Coolidge approve it 
today. This I arranged within an hour, to his considerable satisfac- 
tion. I have always felt grateful to Taft for, in 1886, he marked the 
papers of our graduating class in Cincinnati Law School, and passed 
nearly the whole class, including myself. He does not know it, but 
that was one reason why he got such quick service today. The friend- 
ship with the Chief Justice, which I have enjoyed during these last 
four years, has been one of the pleasant things of my service here. 
He is beloved by all." 


And now the time had come to go to the last big White House 
reception. Dawes had been to twenty of them under the McKinley 
Administration, five under Harding, and twenty under Coolidge, 
and had worked out a plan for enjoying them. 

"After marching downstairs and as far as the Blue Room with 
the official procession, headed by President and Mrs. Coolidge, I do 
my full duty in greeting those assembled there, even waiting for 
the judges, diplomats, or generals and admirals (as the nature of 
the reception determines) to return to the room after they have 
passed in line to greet the President. Then, generally with Secretary 
Mellon as a companion, I slip away to the room at the right of the 
front door where the Secret Service men and my old friend, Ike 
Hoover, major domo of the White House, generally hold forth. Just 
beyond its open door, in the main hall, the Marine Band, which 
plays all evening, is stationed, We have, therefore, three advantages 
of which the other guests are deprived: we can sit down, we can hear 
the music; and we can smoke. 

"Here we remain until about ten minutes before the official 
procession, which we must join, starts upstairs again. We can tell 
when to start back to it by the petering out of the long procession of 
guests coming from the East Room through the hall to the Blue 
Room to shake the weary hands of the Chief Executive and his wife. 
But we have another way of telling. Invariably, Mrs. Dawes gets 
worried for fear we shall not get back in time, and either comes her- 
self or sends an aide for us." 

The President-Elect, Dawes' old friend Hoover, had akeady 
arrived in Washington and was staying at the Mayflower Hotel. The 
new administration was ready to take over. Dawes, and apparently 
President Coolidge also, were equally ready to lay down their official 

"When an administration changes in Washington, it is a tragic 
time for many. Yet in Washington there is a heartless indifference to 
ambitious and suffering spirits, for Washington is used to change. 
When the appointments are finally made, all is outwardly pleasant, 
for the pride of the disappointed sustains them in the effort to con- 
ceal their feelings, and the satisfaction of the successful is restrained 

Portrait of an American: 

to be in 'good form/ Yet, tinder the placid surface of things, currents 
of deep feeling are surging. 

"The White House offices, where I called this morning, bore 
mute evidence of the passing of power. The halls ordinarily filled 
with newspapermen, photographers, candidates for office, Senators, 
Representatives, and visitors who have come to pay their respects, 
were almost empty. My old friends there, some of whom came to 
their places thirty years ago under the McKinley Administration, like 
Rudolph Forster and Latta, all had time to leave their work for a 
chat. The President was not seeing different men every fifteen min- 
utes* He, too, had plenty of time. The crowd was up at the Mayflower 
Hotel, where the President-Elect is staying, and there is the chief 
center of news and interest. 

"But I could not help but think that, of the two men, the Presi- 
dent is the more fortunate. He has finished his work, a great and 
successful one, and leaves with public acclaim, while the President- 
Elect must take up great and difficult burdens " 

In his last days in the Vice-Presidency he wrote his appraisal of 
that office: 

"It is largely what the man in it makes it which applies to all 
public offices. The fact that the Vice-President in the Senate Cham- 
ber cannot enter into debate is considered a disadvantage, yet for 
that reason he is removed from the temptation to indulge in the piti- 
able quest of that double objective so characteristic of many Senate 
speeches the placating of general public opinion and an opposing 
local constituency at the same time. For his prestige as a presiding 
officer, it is to his advantage that he neither votes nor speaks in the 
Senate Chamber. Outside the Senate Chamber his position as Vice- 
President gives him a hearing by the general public as wide as that 
accorded any Senator, other things being equal. If he lacks initia- 
tive, courage, or ideas, he of course will be submerged; but that is 
true also of a Senator or any other parliamentary member. Whatever 
many have said to the contrary, as any one discovers who has occu- 
pied the office, the people hold it in great respect/' 

He spoke out against some of the flummery of the office, one of 
them motorcycle escorts. He thought these screeching convoys were 
"usually to feed the vanity of local politicians and they endanger life 
and limb. 


"After several narrow escapes due to the high speed, which the 
escorts generally insist on increasing when street travel and traffic 
is heavy, I proceeded on the theory that the motorcycles were escort- 
ing me, and not I the motorcycles, and compelled my chauffeur to 
slow down to a reasonable speed. To the ordinary citizen on the 
street, these escorts are not only dangerous but extremely annoying." 

As if to render Dawes' departure still less painful, the Senate, in 
February, became involved in a double-barreled filibuster, one 
against the naval appropriation bill, the other against a bill to in- 
crease the number of federal judges. Senator Cole Blease of South 
Carolina blandly informed the Senate that, unless his state got 
another judge, no one would. While Blease talked on every other 
subject but that of judges, Dawes went to his office off the Senate 
chamber. Novitiate Senator Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan left the 
floor and came to Dawes' office. 

"Do you know Martial?" the Vice-President asked. 

*I have read him/* Vandenberg replied. 

The Vice-President, a teetotaler, crossed over to the case where 
Andrew Johnson had kept the ill-starred bottle of brandy. The case 
was now filled with rare books. He pulled out a volume of Martial 
and read: 

"My action is not one for assault or wounding or poisoning; it 
concerns my three she-goats. I complain that they are lost by my 
neighbor's theft; this is the fact which the judge prescribes to be 
proved to him. You, with a mighty voice and every gesture you 
know, make the Court ring with Cannae, and the Mithridatic war, 
and insensate Punic perjuries, and Sullas, and Mariuses, and Muci- 
uses. And now, Postumus, mention my three she-goats!" 

Dawes reread the last six words from the Latin. 

"Jam, die, Postwne, de tribus capellis! 

"Did you ever," Dawes went on, 'listen in an American court- 
room to anything like the lines that Martial wrote?" 

"I did!" 

'Well, you'll hear it in the Senate, too. What Tve read is eight- 
een centuries old, and it is still urgent." 

The situation in the Senate had reached a deadlock "The most 
determined obstructionists are fawned upon, cajoled, flattered, any- 

270 Portrait of an American: 

thing to get their acquiescence so that the Senate may do its consti- 
tutional duty/* Among the subjects discussed in the delaying tactics 
was a local District of Columbia bill, providing the site for a new 
food market. "Now the Senate fritters away its time over a place to 
sell spinach/' Dawes wrote. 

"February, 27, 1929: I am spending the evening alternately in 
my office and in the Chair of the Senate while that body, tangled in 
the web of its rules, flounders hopelessly. The Senate is a paradise on 
earth for the congenital troublemaker. 

"Midnight: Have been in the Chair, listening to the filibuster- 
ing speeches droned out by the obstructionists. A humiliating specta- 
cle is presented by this powerful body, helpless of relief from an 
absurd situation except by the sheer wearing out of the physical 
strength of those determined that the majority of the Senate should 
be denied its rights. It is a travesty on common sense, and an outrage 
upon American institutions. 

"Am now going to sleep on the sofa in my office beneath Peak's 
portrait of George Washington, who was an exponent of direct 
action; a sleep which will be subject to interruption but affording 
relief from the sight of grown men acting like spoiled children." 

"1:35 A.M., February 28: My fitful slumber has been disturbed 
during the last hour and a half by quorum calls announced each time 
by two rings of the bell in my office Curiosity about what was going 
on led me to arise at the last bell and re-enter the chamber of the 
'greatest deliberative body on earth/ 

"The Senators were resting uneasily but, thank heaven, quietly, 
in their seats, having sent the Sergeant at Arms to arrest Senators 
who have not answered the roll call. When these recalcitrants are 
brought in, they will listen to a continuance of driveling and irrele- 
vant talk. 

"Will go back to the Senate lobby and listen to the probable pro- 
fanity of the arrested Senators as they are brought in. This is to me 
one of the few pleasant incidents of such proceedings. 

"Later: 2:30 A.M.: When I reached the Senate, the Senators 
were standing in the middle of the Chamber, gathered around the 
chief filibustered who was laying down the conditions upon which 
the business of the Senate could proceed tomorrow. 

"All demands for the allotment of time tomorrow on the pending 


bill were finally granted by 'unanimous consent/ and the Senate 
recessed at 2:45 A.M. until 11 A.M. today. 

"Later: February 28, 1929. One hundred and eighty-four bills 
and four resolutions were passed by the Senate. The session began at 
11 A.M. and ended at 7.30 P.M. 

"Almost all were passed after 4 P.M., when the calendar was 
taken up, and within a period of three and a half hours. A very 
deliberative body, indeed!" 

Altogether it had been a busy session. The Seventieth Congress, 
in the last two years of the Coolidge administration, passed 1,037 
public laws, the largest output in the first 163 years of the nation's 
history and being approached only by the 921 public laws of the 
Eighty-first Congress. 

While the Senate would not change its rules, eighty-eight of the 
ninety-six Senators on March 3, 1929, gathered in the historic cham- 
ber in an unprecedented action to sing the praises of their fighting 
presiding officer. Democratic Leader Joseph T. Robinson, his voice 
choking with emotion, presented the Senate's gift, a silver tray. 

"During the four years that you have served as Vice-President, 
no instance is recalled in which your decision has been reversed on 
appeal by vote of the Senate," Robinson said. "In this respect the 
record is without parallel. Remembering that, on numerous occasions 
during these four years, this Chamber has been the scene of fierce 
debates, participated in by skilled parliamentarians, it is surprising 
that you, being without judicial experience, have avoided successful 
challenge for error in decision. 

"It must be pleasing to you in this hour to be assured, by one 
with some degree of responsibility, and by the Senators opposed to 
the political organization with which you have been affiliated, that 
only unlimited confidence in your impartiality has made such a tri- 
umph, such a record, possible. 

"No mere intelligence, however great, if influenced by partisan 
or personal favoritism, could produce such conclusive evidence of 
the respect and good will of both the Democrats and the Republicans 
with whom you have worked during the last four years. 

"Fairness and promptness have marked your conduct. Firmness 
and justice have characterized your decisions. This declaration is 
believed to be the conviction of every Senator. 

Portrait of an American: 

"To the tribute respecting the high standard of your official 
conduct, another should be added, a tribute which cannot fail to 
inspire in your own breast sentiments of pride and gratification. You 
enjoy the friendship, the affectionate esteem, of all with whom you 
have been associated here: members, officials, and employees of the 

"Clarity of thought, generosity of disposition, and decisiveness 
are, indeed, a fortunate combination of traits which have endeared 
you to us all." 

And Borah of Idaho said: 

"Over the Senate of this Congress and the preceding Congress 
has presided one of the most distinguished of living Americans, a 
man high in the confidence and esteem of his countrymen long be- 
fore he became presiding officer of this body. Of his career and his 
distinction generally, there is no occasion perhaps, at this time, to 
speak. But of him as a presiding officer there is occasion to speak 
His uniform courtesy, a stranger to favoritism or partisanship, his 
keen interest in the great problems before us, his acknowledged and 
exceptional ability these are the things which have won the respect 
of and endeared him to every member of the Senate It may well be 
understood what an inspiration is found in the standing and high 
character of such a presiding officer. We take leave of him in deep 
affection and with a sense of gratitude which will go with us through 
the rest of our lives.** 

Moist-eyed, Dawes wrote some lines on a piece of paper which 
he handed to old John Crockett, the Reading Clerk: 

"Senators, I had intended to reply personally, but I find I can- 
not trust myself to do it. 

"My dear friends, you have done a very generous and kindly act. 
You have done me a great honor. I thank you from the bottom of my 

At noon on Inauguration Day, Dawes made his final statement 
to the Senate, graceful but unyielding: 

"I have tried to be worthy as best I could and, in the occupancy 
of this Chair, I have never consciously deviated from the duty which 
inseparably attaches to it, that of impartiality in partisan, personal, 
and sectional differences. 


"At the time of parting between friends, there is no place for 
acrimony, and I assure you there is none in my heart. But I could 
not be true to myself and to my conception of the duties of this 
position if, as I leave it for the last time when, if ever, disinterested- 
ness should characterize iny convictions, I did not speak again of the 
collective error of this great and powerful branch of government. 

"Alone among all the great deliberative bodies of the world, the 
Senate of the United States, under its rules, has parted with the 
power to allot its tune to the consideration of the subjects before it 
in accord with their relative importance. This defect of procedure is 
fundamental. I take back nothing." 

Chapter Nineteen 


Dawes looked forward to his return to Chicago "where I 
have ties of business" But especially would he "enjoy the quiet 
things of life: books that do not speak until taken in hand and 
addressed, the peace of a well-ordered house; the recollections of an 
active career, and the pondering over the lessons which experience 
alone can teach." 

There was just one thing he had to do before going home. He 
would go to the Dominican Republic as soon as his term as Vice- 
President expired and carry out his promise to President Vasquez 
to put the financial affairs of that country in order. 

In February Dawes had just finished his skillful job of piloting 
the Kellogg Peace Pact and the billion-dollar cruiser-building bill 
through the Senate when he had a visit with President-Elect Hoover. 
The President-Elect talked of his anxiety over the growing bitterness 
between the United States and Great Britain, and of his fervent 
desire to get an Anglo-American agreement on the smaller categories 
of war vessels there was already the battleship treaty. He wanted 
a man as Ambassador to Great Britain who would have to embody 
an unusual combination of experience, skill in dealing with a variety 
of people, and personal charm. And the man Hoover thought fitted 
the description was Dawes. 

The man whose Buffalo speech had convinced a large body of 
opinion in both English-speaking nations that another effort at agree- 
ment should be attempted presented compelling reasons why some 
one else should be chosen He thought that Henry L. Stimson, whom 


Hoover had chosen to be his Secretary of State, might have some one 
in mind. Stimson was Governor General of the Philippines and 
would not be able to return and assume his new duties until late in 
March. Dawes, however, agreed to accept if Hoover continued to 
feel he should after Stimson's return, and after the outcome of the 
election between Baldwin's Conservatives and MacDonakTs Labor 
party had become known. 

With a commission of his own selection, Dawes sailed for the 
West Indies in March, and after four weeks had established a system 
of executive control of expenditures of the Dominican government 
similar to the budget system he had set up in the United States. As 
he prepared to board ship for home at the end of April, 1929, a cable 
from President Hoover informed him of his designation as Ambas- 
sador to the Court of St. James. 

What he had wanted most was to get back to Chicago and assist 
his brother Rufus in getting the preparations for the Chicago World's 
Fair under way. But Hoover, who twice before had wanted to draft 
Dawes and twice had failed, now knew how to appeal to him. 

"When one reaches my age in life and but a few more years are 
available for the allotment of its remaining activities, and when, as in 
my case, one has very definitely decided what those activities would 
be, he does not relish the idea of being wrenched away from them 
and diverted into something new," Dawes wrote. "Of all the activi- 
ties I would have chosen for myself, diplomacy would have been the 
last. Hoover got me the only way he could have gat me He believed 
the world was in for an armament race, and he knew that every such 
previous race had ended in devastating war. He believed I could be 
useful in connection with international reduction-of -armament mat- 
ters and the new diplomatic status which we all hope has been 
created by the Kellogg treaty. 

"He mentioned the difficulty he was having of inducing men of 
large affairs and unusual administrative and executive qualifications 
to accept appointment to the Cabinet He said that three had re- 
cently declined to be considered, in view of the treatment accorded 
nominations by the Senate, treatment which amounts to a trial 
before the public on ex-parte evidence and upon any chargjft an 
enemy chooses to make. Criticism would in no way deter me<|*om 
trying my wings in difficult public service. I have reached m age 

276 Portrait of an American: 

where I am no longer unduly elated by public praise or depressed at 
all by public criticism. It can be a question of only a few months until 
it is determined whether the assignment given to me is to be a 
success or a failure/' 

And so Dawes put his personal affairs in shape for an absence of 
indeterminate length, and reported in Washington. He arrived on 
May 15, 

President Hoover put Dawes up at the White House partly as 
a gesture of friendship, and partly to facilitate Dawes' work. A work- 
room had been set up immediately adjoining Dawes' bedroom. 

Dawes and Henry L. Stimson, the new Secretary of State who 
had just returned from his post as Governor General of the Philip- 
pines, began at once to work out the details of Dawes' assignment. 
Both men saw eye-to-eye in their enthusiasm for a hmitation-of-arms 
program which Stimson later was to call "the last concrete achieve- 
ment of the postwar movement to turn swords into plowshares/' 
Indeed, a general reduction of armaments enjoyed at that time the 
almost solid support of both Democratic and Republican Parties. 
It also had the backing of General Pershing and, among younger 
officers, of Major General Douglas MacArthur, son of Dawes' old 
friend Lieutenant General Arthur MacArthur. In addition, the new 
administration, which had gone into office on a strong majority, was 
still in its "honeymoon," the most favorable time in the life of any 
administration to secure concerted action. Herbert Hoover, one- 
time head of relief m Europe, knew better than most Americans the 
harrowing distress that follows in the wake of war, and was anxious 
to make determined peace efforts while in the White House. Beyond 
the ocean, Ramsay MacDonald's Labor party had just won the Brit- 
ish election and was more eager than the Conservative party had 
been to improve relations with the United States. Great Britain was 
among all nations most heavily indebted to the United States, and 
American public opinion felt that a limitation of British naval con- 
struction would produce savings which might go to reduce the Brit- 
ish debt. Finally, a general disarmament conference was planned 
for the year 1932. An Anglo-American agreement was essential to 
set the stage for that general conference. "If the United States and 
Great Britain can agree upon what constitutes parity of fighting 
strength," Dawes wrote in his diary, "the result will be a naval 


reduction by the three great powers (the United States, Great Brit- 
ain, and Japan) and probably France and Italy. If we cannot reach 
such an understanding, the cause of naval disarmament is lost for 
the present/' 

Against this background, Dawes and Stimson worked out the 
three main topics that the Ambassador's talks with Ramsay Mac- 
Donald would cover. First of all, the two countries would have to 
reach an accord on the naval strength each of them required for its 
security Next, they would have to study the question whether a 
reduction in their naval construction programs then under way could 
be agreed upon without endangering security needs. And finally, the 
two countries would have to get together on the thorny question of 
just what constituted equality between their two navies, particularly 
in the cruiser category. 

Dawes' assignment was one of peace or war, of life or death. It 
was of the kind to which he could devote his whole-hearted atten- 
tion, and all of his considerable energy. And again, time was of the 

Dawes' arrival in London was planned to coincide as nearly as 
possible with the accession to power of the MacDonald government. 
Less than a week after his arrival, Dawes was scheduled to speak 
before the Society of Pilgrims and it was this address which would 
set the pattern of his negotiations with MacDonald. 

Dawes had written his Pilgrims* speech in Chicago. 'This 
address I took with me to Washington to submit to President Hoover 
and Secretary Stimson, as tending toward limiting debate* upon the 
matter, since the discussion then would naturally be as to modifica- 
tions in the address, rather than in generalities," he wrote Dawes 
remembered only too well the hopeless maze of conflicting "expert" 
opinions in which the settlement of the reparations question had 
been all but lost. This time, he intended to make it abundantly clear 
that, while the professional naval men would be heard and their 
findings be given weight, the central problem itself would be settled 
by responsible statesmen and not by the technicians. The experts 
would in the main be expected to work out specific problems 
assigned to them by statesmen. 

He found that Hoover and Stimson agreed with him that this 
was a point of such paramount importance that they spent all of 

278 Portrait of an American: 

three days on the formulation of the pertinent passage, consulting a 
number of American officials and even British Ambassador Sir Esme 
Howard. After seventy-two hours, the crucial paiagraph emerged in 
a version that no expert could misunderstand: 

"At the beginning of the work, the contribution of the naval 
experts to the problem should be a definition of abstract equality. 
It is certainly possible for naval experts to arrive at a definition of 
fighting strength of ships. Thus, for instance, one might find a yard- 
stick with which to determine the military value of individual ships. 
These ships might differ in displacement, size of guns, age, speed, 
and other characteristics; yet such an agreed, properly weighed 
value might be given to each of these differing characteristics as to 
make it possible to compare, for example, the cruiser fleets or com- 
bined fleets of two navies, and establish a parity between them." 

With his Pilgrims* speech settled, Dawes found that he had still ' 
time enough for a whirlwind trip to Chicago where brother Rufus 
was having difficulties in raising the monies necessary for the pro- 
jected Chicago Fair. The enthusiasm for the idea which Rufus 
Dawes had encountered in 1928 had, by May, 1929, turned to 

Charles Dawes, scheduled to sail for England on June 7, ap- 
peared in Chicago on May 24 and announced publicly that he 
assumed full responsibility for financing the Fair, and expected to 
raise ten million dollars from Chicago sources before he sailed. 

"In making this decision," Dawes wrote, "I was wholly actuated 
by a sense of loyalty to my brother and indignation at the position in 
which he had been left in a great civic enterprise, through no fault 
of his own. My first step was to call to my office peremptorily, and 
without explanation, certain civic leaders whose friendly attitude I 
regarded as essential to unify the different elements behind the Fair. 
These were mostly friends whose unselfish, constructive, exacting, 
and remunerative work for Chicago in the past had placed every 
loyal citizen in their debt; men with whom I had cooperated for 
years and whom, at times, I had followed as a worker under them. 

"But I met them now as enemies To me their indifference in 
this civic enterprise was inexcusable, and I addressed them some- 
what as I once did a wartime congressional committee. But I knew 


my men. Behind my harsh language was a call to duty for their city 
in a crisis, a call from a friend, and to that kind of summons no one 
of them, during a lifetime, had ever failed to respond. After the three 
hours we remained together, the World's Fair, changed by our agree- 
ment to 'The Century of Progress/ had a united civic sponsorship 
behind it. I shall never forget their kindness and loyal offer of help 
in tune of need." 

With the "Century of Progiess" exposition started on its way, 
and the ten million dollars' worth of bonds entirely underwritten, 
Ambassador and Mrs. Dawes, their adopted children Dana and 
Virginia, and his nephew Henry, who was to be his secretary, sailed 
for England as scheduled. 

"I have never been a diplomat/' Dawes said on his arrival in 
London. "I have many faults. But somehow I am sure you will put 
up with them, as have my own people." 

Two days later, His Excellency Ambassador Charles Gates 
Dawes and Mrs. Dawes were riding to Windsor Castle in an open 
landau sent to Windsor railroad station to meet them and with 
British outriders in blue and white livery. They were to be received 
by King George who, because of illness, had not received a foreign 
diplomat for a whole year. When they left the Castle nearly two 
hours later, after a short private conference between the statesmen 
and a long foursome conversation in which Queen Mary had joined, 
they parted friends. 

That night, Dawes was on his way to Scotland to see Prime 
Minister J. Ramsay MacDonald. "I had been asked by the President 
to show MacDonald my Pilgrims' speech/' Dawes wrote. "My pur- 
pose, of course, was not only to submit it to him for comment, but 
to secure his acquiescence in the program of our government which 
it contained, and his agreement to relegate the present discussion of 
the question of the freedom of the seas and other controversial ques- 
tions, pending the settlement of naval reduction as the probable first 
step to be taken." 

The Sunday conference between the Prime Minister and the 
Ambassador at Logie House, Dunphail, Morayshire, was friendly 
and frank. MacDonald approved of Dawes' plans in full, and sat 
down to write out in longhand a statement to the press. 

"We have had a conversation regarding the present position of 

280 Portrait of an American: 

naval disarmament as between the United States and Great Britain. 
It has been informal and general and most satisfactory. His Excel- 
lency proposes to refer to the subject at his Pilgrims* dinner on 
Tuesday night, and I shall do the same almost at the same time at 
Lossiemouth, and that is intended to be the beginning of negotia- 
tions. We both wish to make it clear that the other naval powers are 
expected to cooperate in these negotiations, upon the successful 
outcome of which the peace of the whole world must depend " 

Their official business settled, the two men went riding over the 
moor to Glen Ferness by way of Lochindorb By the time they 
approached the ruins of Lochindorb Castle, once the stronghold of 
the Wolf of Badenoch, greatest of Highlands bandits, MacDonald 
was smoking the upside-down pipe with which Dawes had presented 
him With a Scotsman's pride, the British Prune Minister assured his 
guest that some Chicago gangsters might perhaps accumulate 
greater wealth, but none of them would ever achieve greater or more 
lasting fame than the Wolf of the Highlands. 

When Dawes returned to London he had every reason to feel 
satisfied with the results of his first few days in Great Britain. 

"I was much impressed with MacDonald/' Dawes wrote. "His 
constructive purpose in this navy matter is unquestioned His ability 
to deal with it and the clearness of his mind upon the subject were 
fully demonstrated. He was agreeable, confidential, and frank 
throughout all our interview, and I left with a high respect for him/' 

But although much had been accomplished, there was yet more 
to be done before the delivery of the Pilgrims* speech. If naval dis- 
armament around the world was to be achieved as a step in the 
eradication of the seeds of a second world war, the cooperation of 
Japan, the third great naval power, was essential. 

Dawes, whose common-sense procedure on Buffalo Bridge had 
incensed a part of the American press, had been carefully briefed 
by State Department officials in Washington on the diplomatic 
protocol a new Ambassador was expected to follow. Among his first 
duties was that of calling on the ambassadors of other nations in the 
chronological order of their appointment. Any violation of this order, 
he had been warned, would be considered an insult by the country 
whose ambassador had been slighted. Yet the Japanese ambassador, 


Tsuneo Matsudaira, was the most recently appointed among the 
ambassadors on whom Dawes had to call. If diplomatic protocol 
were followed, Dawes would not be able to see his old friend of 
Washington days until some time after the Pilgrims' Speech. 

Putting first things first, Dawes, who arrived in London early 
in the morning, went from the station directly to the Japanese Em- 
bassy and joined Matsudaira for breakfast. Thus the Japanese gov- 
ernment was given prior notice of the content of Dawes* speech, 
eliminating all cause for suspicion on their part. The rest of the world 
never learned of the visit, and the diplomatic sky remained un- 

"A matter of the first importance at the present time," Dawes 
addressed his audience at London's Pilgrims Club, "is that the 
friends of world peace move unitedly toward that objective with a 
clear understanding among themselves that any effort which is not 
a united effort is likely to be ineffective and tending toward dis- 

"An early agreement on naval reduction would seem to be the 
next step to be taken toward world peace. As to any other contro- 
verted questions between any nations or between Great Britain and 
the United States, their future peaceful settlement will not be en- 
dangered by the cessation of an enormously expensive naval com- 
petition in progress during their discussion/ 7 

A series of long and difficult negotiations followed the Pilgrims' 
speech and MacDonald's almost simultaneous speech at Lossie- 
mouth The attention of the chancelleries and of the peoples of the 
world was on London where the two English-speaking nations were 
making a concerted effort to assure durable peace. "One of my most 
frequent callers on business has been Matsudaira/' Dawes recorded, 
"and I have called at his embassy at least as many times. Each tnes 
to save the other the trip necessary to get together/' 

But Dawes* activities were a healthy mixture of business with 
the highest pleasures known to him, the pleasures of the mind. 

"Half the time MacDonald and I spend together, we talk of 
things other than international relations/* Dawes wrote. "His knowl- 
edge of history and literature is exact and comprehensive. It is a 
delight to be with him. He talks of the problems which he has on 
hand and few men have more difficult ones and in his views, so 

282 Portrait of an American: 

far, he has never descended from the high levels of sincere friend- 
ship. I have faith that he will stand all tests without loss of public 
respect, irrespective of what happens to him politically." 

Slowly, signs of progress began to appear. On July 29 Dawes, 
Hugh Gibson, American Minister Ray Atherton, MacDonald, and 
First Lord of the Admiralty Alexander held an important conference. 
"When we left, the only remaining question involving naval parity 
between our two nations which was unsettled related to the cruiser 
class, and that was much simplified. . . . We agree to equate by 


Two days later Dawes had his first talk with one of the great 

figures of the century, Winston Churchill: 

"I had never met him before," Dawes wrote. "We talked over 
his coming trip to America, and he outlined what was in his mind 
to say. He said, frankly, he did not favor a naval-limitation agree- 
ment. There was an interesting but general talk. 

"He is a man whose relentless ambition may carry him to the 
top. That might be a relatively short time in this country where 
parties are breaking down and the electorate is restless Churchill 
makes a point of telling one from the United States that he is half- 
American and has a great affection for the United States I put 
my own value on that statement, and it is a high one. But, as much 
as any Englishman I have ever met or in fancy created, he typifies 
John Bull to me, and he has my admiration for that/' 

Although Churchill at that time did not command an influence 
that would have given his opposition to Dawes' efforts any serious 
weight, the negotiations lagged and dragged. The experts, it seemed, 
were resolved that no agreement should be reached before they had 
had their day in court. 

"... I am more depressed than I have been since we began 
our conversations/' Prime Minister MacDonald wrote to Dawes 
on August 22. "You will remember that we started on the yardstick 
which was the proposal for Geneva You were to give me a formula, 
and we both agreed that it should be examined by subordinate ex- 
perts. That has all gone. In your speech to the Pilgrims, you said 
so truly that the statesmen should handle this matter and, as there 
was the desire for an agreement and as a naval conflict between the 
countries was unthinkable, the technicians should not thwart the 


statesmen. That has gone, and we are back in exactly the same 
atmosphere, and facing exactly the same presentation of the prob- 
lem, as we were at Geneva. We are drifting away from the only 
road that offers a solution of a problem which does not consist of 
reality at all, but of words and appearances. Experts and lawyers 
make nearly all the reefs on the seas of life upon which men and 
states founder/' 

And Dawes himself thought he saw "the beginning of an ef- 
fort to fit a yardstick to the settlement instead, of a settlement to a 

Three more weeks, dozens of conferences in London and in 
Washington, and endless cabling between the two capitals had to 
be gone through before Dawes, on September 13, could record: 

"Differences of naval technical opinion have now been so re- 
duced that, quantitatively, they concern less than 25,000 tons out 
of an aggregate tonnage of both nations of about 2,400,000 tons. The 
only point upon which the naval experts are apart is whether three 
of the American cruisers are to be 10,000 tons each with eight-inch 
guns, or there is to be substituted for these three cruisers four 
smaller cruisers, say of 7,500 tons, with six-inch guns. Thus has a 
mountain shrunk to a mouse/* 

Now that it was nearly over, Dawes could pay a left-handed 
compliment to the experts: "I confess to satisfaction with the way in 
which we have used the naval technicians, for never, in my judg- 
ment, could there have been a naval conference in which the con- 
sultations with them have been more continuous and thorough on 
both sides. ... At no time did we let them get the middle of 
the stage, where their continuous bonfires would have presented to 
the audience the appearance of a general conflagration/' 

With the agreement sealed, MacDonald sailed for the United 
States on September 27 the first British Prime Minister to visit this 
country. Before leaving, he had had time for only a short note to 

"When I have a little more leisure, I really must put on paper 
an expression of some of the obligations we aH owe to you for what 
you have done since you set foot on our shores. I feel that, if this 
were to end one's service to the world, it would have been worth 

284 Portrait of an American: 

Dawes sailed for the United States shortly after the British 
Prime Minister, to spend a few months at home. 

Almost a year and a half earlier, on July 10, 1928, Dawes had 
noted in his journal: 

"The situation in the country points to a coming business 
change. The credits of the country which, under natural laws, even- 
tually grow beyond a proper proportion to the cash in which they 
are redeemable, give evidence of reaching that stage before many 
months Will it, when reached, make nervous the depositing class, 
as used to happen in the days prior to the establishment of the Fed- 
eral Reserve System with its large credit-creating potentiality? Will 
the American people, as they sometimes do during the closing of a 
period of prosperity, while it still persists, suddenly turn over in 
bed that is, wake up some morning with their outlook changed 
from an optimistic to a pessimistic view of the future, as they did 
in 1893? Such an action might mean political revolution, now as 
then. As the Bible has it: *J es hunm waxed fat, and kicked!* Since 
prosperity often begets folly and sometimes panic, these changes 
have their source in the instincts more than in the intelligence of 
the people. Their date cannot be predicted with any certainty. 

'Yet there are signs at present of the conditions which, in the 
past, have accompanied such changes in their first stages." 

And on January 22, 1929 

"It is a difficult thing successfully to encourage, at the same 
time, tight money conditions on the stock market and easy money 
conditions for legitimate business. The Federal Reserve Board is 
finding that out. Money flows to any safe point of highest interest 
rates nothing can stop that Until general deflation sets in, credit 
conditions wfll grow worse, no matter what the Federal Reserve 
Board does Expanded credits, when they are general, can never be 
liquidated in an orderly manner They collapse History proves that." 

In February of 1929 Dawes had begun to believe a business 
crash almost inevitable 

He spent the morning of February 18 before the session of the 
Senate with Arthur Leonard, a business associate of Chicago, later 
to be President of the "Dawes Bank," "going over some important per- 
sonal matters. In these days of a strained credit situation in the 


country, the wise businessman is making preparations for a possible 
credit contraction of serious proportions. This will come at any time 
when there occurs any lack of general confidence, and perhaps be- 

"Men may talk of the new business conditions which make the 
old danger signs obsolete, but there is one unchanging element in 
the situation and that is human nature All human nature is subject 
to the law of reaction. When men have moved in a mass in one 
direction for a long time, under the influence of optimism, they 
always move in the opposite direction when pessimistic/* 

And now in the month of October, 1929, as Dawes returned 
from the United Kingdom, the stock market collapsed in the panic 
he had predicted. There may have been some at that time who 
thought the panic no more than a passing crisis. But Dawes, early 
in November of 1929, noted in his diary: 

'This panic, in my judgment, is the beginning of a major de- 
pression in general business It is easy to be philosophical in a panic 
when one is out of debt. There is widespread agony and despair 
among the venturesome in life, but it is the plodder's day of tri- 
umph. After having passed through the panics of 1893, 1907, and 
1914 (the latter two as a businessman), I am in a position in this 
one to sense the suffering of one class and the melancholy satisfac- 
tion of the other. The latter feeling is natural but not creditable. 
I notice that some who have escaped disaster in this upheaval 
through mere accident, pickled in the vinegar of their own pre- 
tended righteousness, are the most severe in their criticisms of the 

"For several years, I have been expecting it and getting my 
house in order to meet it. It should have occurred two years ago and, 
for at least that length of time, I have been warning my friends to 
get out of the stock market 

It was in the panic of 1893, when I was twenty-eight years old, 
that I learned the greatest financial lesson of my life, which was 
that ninety-day notes become due Before that time, I had regarded 
them as renewable forever. At the time when that panic broke, I 
owed in the neighborhood of $200,000. I passed through it without 
failure, but my agonies of anxiety and worry, and my strenuous 
endeavors of that period, terrible as their memory is, have proved 

286 Portrait of an American: 

themselves the safeguard of my business life. They taught me the 
dangers of debt. I have borrowed since that time, but never reck- 
lessly, and never without a plan for repayment worked out at the 
time I contracted the debt. Out of my experience, I have given 
advice to a number of young men during the last two years, as to 
what was ahead of them. I can recall none of them who took my 
advice. So probably it would have been with me before 1893. I 
doubtless would have listened to but not acted upon conservative 
advice. Experience alone teaches the ambitious young. 

"To me it seems that the signs of the coming of the present 
catastrophe were more pronounced than those of any other through 
which the United States has passed. History shows that there is no 
such thing as an orderly deflation of generally overexpanded credit. 
Human nature remains the same. The law of human action and re- 
action is immutable. Federal Reserve banks, low production costs, 
low inventories, and all the other things which the optimist has 
regarded as 'making a change in conditions as compared with the 
past* have not changed human nature. The longer the spree, the 
deeper the following depression and the longer the sobering-up 

But depression or no depression, Dawes had work to do. Within 
two weeks after his arrival in Chicago, he sold $6,125,000 worth of 
the bonds of the Century of Progress Exposition that had been 
guaranteed by leading Chicago citizens Then he went on to Wash- 
ington to begin his preparations for the Five Power Naval Confer- 
ence in January, 1930, to which Great Britain had invited the United 
States, Japan, France, and Italy. 

The American Delegation to the Conference was to consist of 
Secretary of State Stimson as chairman, and the delegates Senators 
Joseph T. Robinson and David A. Reed, Ambassador Dawes and 
Dwight Morrow. Secretary of the Navy Adams was added, and 
Hugh Gibson was also appointed at the insistence of Dawes. Ad- 
miral W. V. Pratt and Rear Admiral Hilary P Jones went as advisers. 

Dawes* role in the conference would be far different from the 
man-to-man diplomacy he had been able to carry on with Prime 
Minister MacDonald, Then he had been the highest ranking Amer- 
ican dealing with the highest ranking Britisher. Now, Secretary of 
State Stimson would be the top intermediary between the United 


States Government and the governments of the four other nations. 
Dawes' changed status became evident at once. 

"Matsudaira called and fully reported on the Japanese naval 
proposition. I told him I would not enter into a discussion of it with 
him, that our Naval Conference delegation had been appointed and 
that, although I was a member of it, I did not propose to change 
the status quo here in London by personal negotiations at this time, 
unless specifically directed by my Government or by the chairman 
of our delegation. I told him that I would, of course, transmit any 
information he desired to our Government." 

Nonetheless, Dawes had been charged in Washington to deliver 
a talk which, just as his Pilgrims' speech had done earlier, would 
set out the American aims in the forthcoming negotiations. The 
speech, which was delivered in November before the Institute of 
Journalists, was in fact a supplement of the Pilgrims' speech After 
expressing his confidence that the five Naval Powers would meet in 
the spirit of the Kellogg Peace Pact, Dawes summed up the purpose 
of the Five Power Conference: 

"The specific objective of this present negotiation is the aboli- 
tion of the general competitive building of fighting ships, and their 
reduction in number, so far as is consistent with the national security 
and domestic necessities of the respective naval powers/' 

But privately and in conversation with Ramsay MacDonald, 
Dawes was apprehensive. The Conference, he feared, would turn 
into a "four-language talkfest with days wasted on jabber and transla- 
tion of jabber/' And in his diary he added: 

"I do hope that, by some departure from the conventional, the 
Conference can properly create a public sense of its earnestness and 
its determination to indulge in constructive work rather than decla- 

There was another danger threatening the success of the con- 
ference. At the Reparations Conference, where Dawes' word had 
been law, distracting social activities had been forbidden. Now again, 
Dawes proposed that "the work of the conference can best be done 
if there is no debauch of "gorgeous social affairs/ " The British Gov- 
ernment, however, host to delegations from four other nations, had 
announced that there would be four public functions. 

"The four public functions arranged for the delegates axe just 

288 Portrait of an American: 

four too many, in my judgment. I have engaged in too many inter- 
allied conferences during the war not to understand the folly of 
the present society program and its possibilities. At the least, we 
have probably added weeks to the length of the Conference. First 
impressions are of vital importance in their effect upon the delegates 
themselves. If they are led to believe that time and expedition are 
not of value, they will act accordingly/' 

While Dawes, in the nature of his assignment, did at no time 
during the Five Power Conference act as the American spokesman, 
he neglected nothing which might smooth the progress of the Con- 

"Dwight Morrow and I are spending much time with some of 
the delegates, realizing they can do much to make or mar the 
success of the Conference. The part of wisdom at a 'unanimous 
consent' party is to look after wallflowers who, feeling neglected, 
may prove to be poison ivy in disguise/' And, in particular, he 
carried on many private talks with French Premier Aristide Briand, 
who became his close friend. For it was from France, and from 
Italy, that Dawes expected most of the trouble of the conference 
would come. Lloyd George agreed. "Briand is constructive but, 
in this conference, his feet are tied, the knot is very, very tight," 
he told Dawes 

The conference was slow in making progress. In March the 
United States and Great Britain had equated their tonnage at 
1,200,000. A month later an agreement had been reached between 
the United States, Great Britain, and Japan. France and Italy were 
still standing apart While France, Dawes was convinced, wanted 
to join in an agreement, Fascist Italy was beginning to feel her 
strength, and refused to settle for anything less than parity with 

"I am far from regarding a five-power pact, even under the 
present circumstances, as unattainable," Dawes wrote on March 22. 
"Even if most of the nations have given up hope of anything but a 
three-power pact, I am glad to say that is not the case with our 

To complicate matters, Secretary of State Stimson, in spite of 
the success he had achieved so far, was under constant fire from 
home, being accused of 'poor management/' "timidity," and Tack 


of leadership." This criticism from the back seat reached such pro- 
portions that on March 28 President Hoover felt it necessary to issue 
a statement expressing his firm support of the work of the delega- 
tion in London. The conference, Hoover felt, was making much 
better progress than the public realized. At the end of its first 
month, it had been near failure but since then, it had survived 
the fall of the French government, an adverse vote in the British 
Parliament against MacDonald's government, and an election in 
Japan in which the Minseito Peace party had emerged triumphant. 
It had resulted in an agreement among three of the five participants. 
And hope had not yet been abandoned that the other two partici- 
pants would be brought into line. 

How the situation and Stimson's role looked on the ground 
emerges clearly from an entry in Dawes' diary. "Stimson is a safe 
leader, not afraid to take individual responsibility where necessary, 
without hesitation, and yet wise enough to explain all he does to 
his delegation. As a result, he has a united delegation behind him 
As a body, they are strong men, and only capable leadership would 
satisfy them. Their attitude toward him during all these difficult 
negotiations, composed as they are, is of itself a tribute to his 
unusual qualifications for the place. He is carrying a heavy load, 
but never shows the white feather or a slackening of effort because 
of discouraging circumstances " 

France, meanwhile, had been attempting to convince England 
and the United States that she would have to have either a large 
navy or a security pact. But the United States declined flatly to be- 
come party to any security pact. The only obligation America was 
willing to shoulder in case of naval threats to French security was 
"to examine the situation as it may affect the interests of herself 
and her nationals/' No security pact or even consultative pact came 
out of the conference. When the drafting committee set to work in 
April to prepare the final form of the treaty, they were writing a 
five-power treaty insofar as the postponement of replacement of 
capital ships until after 1936 was concerned and a three-power 
treaty which limited tonnage of cruisers, destroyers, and submarines. 
Three nations were to scrap a total of nine ships: Great Britain 
five, the United States three, and Japan one. 

If this was not a complete success, it was far from being a com- 

290 Portrait of an American: 

plete failure. Agreement had been reached among the three largest 
naval powers. As for the rest, Ramsay MacDonald announced in a 
speech: "The French, Italians, and ourselves will pursue the search 
for a complete naval agreement/' It was not until April of 1930 that 
all hope for agreement with Italy had to be abandoned when Bemto 
Mussolini launched an Italian naval rearmament program of impos- 
ing dimensions. 

To Dawes, the British Prime Minister wrote: 
"But for you, the success which has been attained could not 
have been reached. Further than that, I am happy beyond words 
that the relations between the United States and ourselves have been 
so wonderfully changed. That alone, I think, is an achievement 
which means much for the future good of the world and, in that, 
your part has been as big as mine." 

As the various delegations returned home to seek ratification 
of the treaty, Ambassador Dawes prepared to relax in the fulfillment 
of his regular duties when he received a cable from Acting Secre- 
tary of State Joseph P. Cotton: 

"You will proceed to Washington as soon as possible for con- 
sultation. What we want you back for is to help in defending the 
Treaty in the Senate, and we regard this matter as important." 

In June the fate of the treaty still hung in the balance before 
the Senate. Stimson, alluding to a British newspaper editorial prais- 
ing Dawes as "the one man in the United States who understands 
the value and use of the calculated indiscretion," wrote to Dawes: 

"The treaty represents th^most advanced step yet taken in naval 
reduction, and, at the same time, secures parity for the United States, 
which could be attained only by fifteen years of a naval race at the 
cost of two billions of dollars, during aU of which time we would 
have naval inferiority and starvation of other useful government 
activities It protects us both in the Atlantic and the Pacific, 

"We must, of course, be patient with people who exclaim over 
a knot in the kitchen door instead of showing appreciation of a great 
architectural accomplishment. 

"For myself, I should welcome a Dawes' indiscretion from you. 
Tear off your dress suit and say THell and Maria/ The situation is 


almost ludicrous, and yet there is danger of people losing their per- 

In a special session of the United States Senate, however, the 
treaty was ratified on July ai, 1930, with the support of all but nine 
votes. From the day when Buffalo Bridge was dedicated to the day 
of that ratification, no man had worked as long and nnflaggmgly 
for this result as Dawes. 

Chapter Twenty 


7t was on Friday, the thirteenth of December, that his 
Excellency the Ambassador of the United States of America, Charles 
Gates Dawes, gave his first formal dinner at Prince's Gate. Among 
the guests were Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice; Prime Minis- 
ter Ramsay MacDonald, and Miss Ishbel MacDonald; His Excellency 
the Japanese Ambassador, and Madame Matsudaira; His Excel- 
lency the French Ambassador, and Miss De Fleuriau, His Excellency 
the Spanish Ambassador, Marques Merry del Val, and the Mar- 
quesa; Lord and Lady Astor; Sir John and Lady Hanbury-Williams; 
and many others. The gathering included a number of famous artists 
and authors but the renowned comedian Leon Errol, whom Dawes 
thought "the funniest man on the stage/* who had been a guest at 
the Embassy for a whole week, did not sit down to table. 

The dinner began in an atmosphere of exquisite correctness. 
But as it proceeded, things began to go wrong. They were small 
things at first, and the guests ignored them. 

One of the waiters, to all outward appearances an excellently 
trained servant, began to fill the water glasses with lemonade. His 
deft hands removed plates before the diners had finished the course. 
As he passed a tray with the fish course around the table with one 
hand, he removed the silver for the fish course with the other. He 
took a plate with crackers from the table and the crackers slipped 
and buried the food on one of the plates. 

The guests, with the tact and nobility of thoroughbreds, grace- 
fully overlooked the series of faux pas. But now this same waiter 


reappeared with a tray, stumbled, and nearly emptied it into the 
lap of one of the ladies 

A spoon dropped from his hand and fell under the table. He 
quietly took a candle, got down on his hands and knees, and began 
to crawl about in search of the lost spoon. 

"It seems this waiter has found his way to the sherry/* one of 
the ladies remarked. 

"Sorry, ma'am," replied the waiter, sitting up on his haunches, 
"there is none in the house, but I shall be glad to go out and get 
some for you.*' 

There is no telling what Leon Errol would have done next if 
Lady Astor, at this point, had not seen through the prank Dawes 
and Errol were playing on the assembly. Now they confessed, and 
Errol was introduced and sat down at the table with the others 
for the last course. And after the dinner he entertained them so 
delightfully with his letter-mailing trick and with stories that Prime 
Minister MacDonald broke an appointment in order to remain, and 
he and the other guests stayed on until long after midnight. 

Charles Dawes' hospitality quickly became as famous in Lon- 
don as it had been in Washington. Although he served no liquor 
at Embassy functions, since he did not intend to flout abroad the 
prohibition laws that were in force at home, the Embassy attracted 
countless American visitors. On each of the three occasions when he 
celebrated the Fourth of July in London, he served food and re- 
freshments to more than twenty-five hundred Americans 

Like all American Ambassadors to Great Britain, he had to dig 
into his own pocket for most of his expenses. In the two and a half 
years he was at Prince's Gate, he served food, from reception sand- 
wiches to dinners, to visitors from home at the rate of more than 
five thousand a year. 

"Caro," a journal entry read, "tells me that, at lunch or dinner 
in the last month, we have entertained at the Embassy about two 
hundred and fifty Americans. On assuming this office, I determined 
that, if I could help it, our visitors from home would never experi- 
ence a 'cold' Embassy such as I once encountered in 1897, during 
my first trip to Europe. Caro is entitled to the credit for the way 
we take care of people. She is a born executive and, with her perfect 
tact and kindly heart, she keeps the Embassy, with its large staff 

2Q4 Portrait of an American: 

of servants and a continual capacity load of transients and house 
guests, a place of comfort and happiness/* 

American statesmen, businessmen and professional men, artists, 
writers, actors, and simple tourists made it a point to call on Dawes. 

"I have to cross the ocean to see my favorite statesman/' wrote 
Will Rogers. "But I'll tell you that, when you come over here to 
London and see Charley Dawes performing, it is worth the trip. 
He makes you mighty proud of your country. You ought to hear him 
tell about his experience with ferocious mothers. I doubt if a charg- 
ing elephant or a rhinoceros is as determined or hard to check as 
a socially ambitious mother." 

There is no doubt that social climbers were among Dawes' 
greatest trials in London. The only person who can introduce an 
American woman at the British Court is the American Ambassador. 
Then, and probably still today, one who has curtsied before a King 
or Queen has achieved a mark of distinction in some circles of 
American society. And so, dowager after dowager besieged the Am- 
bassador to assist her and her daughters in seeming the much de- 
sired day in court. Dawes had little patience with such ambitions. 

"At dinner, a wealthy American woman kept referring to Lord 
this and Lady that/* he wrote in his diary. "I tried as tactfully as 
I could to bring the talk back to things in our own country, but she 
would roam back to her lords and ladies. Finally, I said to her: *You 
were born in a little town in Wisconsin. Your husband was born in 
a little town in Ohio. America has given you all you have. Your 
interest ought to be there. Let's bring the conversation back to 
American topics/ " 

And in an address before the Masters and Fellows of Trinity 
College, Dawes remarked: 

"We have recently had in London a body of American travelers 
representing a cross-section of the American people, representing 
the heart and body and soul of the American people; a body of trav- 
elers not self-invited, with their minds unoccupied by thoughts of 
society reporters or fashionable dressmakers. 

"They brought no social introductions. The credentials each 
carried were but the photograph of a son and a few withered flowers 
from a garden at home to lay on a grave in France." 

The reference was to a group of 156 Gold Star mothers for 


whom he himself had held a reception in his Embassy. His diary 

"Lord Jellicoe and Field Marshal Plumer were there, and I 
introduced them to many mothers whose sons had fallen by the side 
of their British comrades. The ayth Division served under Plumer. 
Afterward, we all accompanied the mothers as they laid wreaths at 
the grave of the Unknown Soldier in Westminster Abbey and at the 
Cenotaph. It was an affecting and solemn occasion. I was very 
proud of the simple and unaffected way in which these fine and 
natural American women conducted themselves, and I could not 
but think how majestic was their naturalness as contrasted with some 
of their countrywomen who besiege me with requests to be pre- 
sented at Court 

"While I was standing near Lord Plumer, someone told us that 
one of the mothers present had lost two sons in the 27th Division. 
I told him I would find her and present her to him. His answer was 
a request to go with me *to be presented to her/ " 

Dawes, who admired Winston Churchill for being typically 
British was American, and did not feel that he owed an apology for 
it to anyone. He did the hitherto unheard-of thing of giving a dinner 
at the Embassy to the entire staff, including the Marine Guard, 
secretaries, stenographers, and clerks. And one Indepejidence Day, 
he presided and made a brief opening address at a dinner where 
Dr. John Grier Hibben of Princeton University and Lord Reading 
were the principal speakers. To Dawes Dr. Hibben's speech seemed 
in poor taste, an abject apology to the British people for the behavior 
of the Americans. Dr. Hibben explained to the English how and 
why the Americans were so wrong in international policy. In effect, 
Dawes thought, Hibben forgave the British all their reparation debts 
if only in return they would forgive America all her sins As Dr. 
Hibben sat down, Dawes rose to make a second speech, an extem- 
poraneous one such as one migjit hear from any bandstand in any 
park in any town in America on the Fourth of July. It was a speech 
straight from the shoulder. The British cheered as lustily as the 

There is an entry in Dawes* diary on another of his numerous 
speeches in the British Isles: 

"My emphatic method of extempore speech before the Travel 

2,96 Portrait of an American: 

Association of Great Britain and Ireland this week was disparaged 
by one or two English newspaper critics who are accustomed to 
more repose in public expression " But it was this very speech which 
brought him a letter from the Right Reverend The Lord Bishop of 
London, Arthur Foley Wmnington-Ingram, PC , KCV.O , DD.: 

"Dear General. I felt sure that I would like you but, after your 
speech today, I feel that you are 'a man and a brother ' Now could 
you and Mrs Dawes step down quite informally and lunch here on 
Tuesday, the twenty-third, and meet my five brother bishops who 
help me with my little 4,500,000? They are all jolly fellows, and 
you would like them, and your wife would enjoy seeing this old 
place where the bishops have lived for thirteen hundred years" 
The British soon began to bestow attention and honors upon 
"this distinguished American who has attracted such widespread 
attention in these Islands," and who was reported to have said he 
would not wear knee-length silken britches at king's levees or royal 

"Attended a dinner of the Royal Geographical Society and, 
afterward, a formal meeting of it when, in behalf of the American 
Geographic Society, I presented the Cullen medal to John Huburt 
Mill for his notable contribution to science. Later in the evening, 
Caro and I attended a musical given by Lady Corey at her home in 
Belgrave Square, at which Fritz Kreisler was the artist During the 
program, to the surprise o some of my diplomatic colleagues who 
were present, he played my composition and also played it the next 
night with an encore at his guest concert at Queen's Hall/" 

The 500-year-old British Society of Barristers and Judges, the 
"Middle Benchers," thawed sufficiently to elect him to membership 
Dawes accepted, took his place at die foot of the table as all novitiate 
members did, entered into the assignment of "ringing the belT 
with gusto, and was voted a "capital fellow/' 

And the Earl of Crawford, Chancellor of the University of 
Manchester, conferred the LLD degree on Dawes with the words: 
"Strangely in his chariot is the tornado harnessed alongside the 
dove And I trust I overstep no limits set by diplomatic reticence 
if I add that, under the tempestuous exterior and unconventional 
address, brimming over with picturesque expletives, none of which, 


however, he claims to have invented himself, he conceals the kind- 
est of hearts and the most loving of dispositions/' 

But although Dawes discharged his many social obligations as 
Ambassador with skill and grace, his heart was not in this kind of 
activity. His opinion about "gorgeous social affairs" was stall the 
same. Nor was he the only one in a public position to feel that way. 
Once at a dinner where he was seated next to the Prince of Wales, 
the future King asked him: 

"Do you like this sort of thing?" 

"No!" Dawes replied emphatically. 

"Neither do I." 

"The difference between us," Dawes said, "is that I, some day, 
will go home to Chicago and do just as I please. You will have to do 
this the balance of your life." 

"Any public assignment," Dawes wrote into his diary, "except a 
difficult one is unattractive. Aside from the naval work which has 
now occupied ten months, and in which there was a specific objec- 
tive, there has been little of importance in this position and, under 
normal circumstances, the life of an ambassador here seems largely 
a round of social events, public speaking on noncontroversial sub- 
jects, and idle enjoyments " 

Obviously, a man like Dawes could not be idle for long After 
a short "vacation" trip to Chicago during which Dawes completed 
the financial arrangements for the "Century of Progress" fair, Dawes 
returned to London and there made plans for an archaeological ex- 
cursion to Southern France, to the Altarnira Cave, and to other 
Spanish sites of central interest in the study of prehistoric man. 

Archaeology had long been one of Dawes' strongest extracur- 
ricular interests. He had financed an expedition of the Smithsonian 
Institution, to further its studies of the early history of explora- 
tion in America and to assist it in a search for a Mayan codex which 
would allow the decipherment of Mayan writing. His companion 
on the trip to France and Spain was to be Dr. George Grant Mac- 
Curdy, director of the American School for Prehistoric Research 

"There is not much doing at the Chancery, and I api putting, with- 
out trouble, two hours a day into archaeological study," Dawes 
wrote. "I am going to give all the time I can to Dr. MacGurdy's 

298 Portrait of an American: 

treatises, as I want to be more nearly letter perfect when I make 
the trip with him. I had a long talk with Sir Auckland Geddes, 
chairman of the Rio Tinto Company, Ltd., about the archaeology 
of the Niebla area and the Rio Tinto mine which we shall visit." 

At Les Eyzies, which MacCurdy called the center of Paleolithic 
cavedom, and at Cap-Blanc, Combarelles, Font-de-Gaume, Cro- 
Magnon, Laugerie-Basse, and other famous abodes of prehistoric 
man, Dawes for two weeks was to forget the phght of the present. 
On part of the trip Dawes was accompanied by the Infante Don 
Alfonso and the Infanta Beatriz. 

"I stumbled and crawled along the deep limestone passages of 
Combarelles and Font-de-Gaume, and saw in their inner depths, in 
Combarelles, 250 meters from the entrance, the pictures executed 
by Paleolithic man 25,000 or more years ago, under conditions of 
great personal discomfort It seems to me he must have sought these 
more remote and difficult sections of the caves to indulge his artistic 
instincts, not so much because he was seeking a shrine for the pic- 
tures themselves, as some archaeologists say, but a protected place, 
so that if his enemies did find him unawares, they could attack him 
in only one direction, and then only after he had been put on his 
guard again." 

The day on which this note was written, after ten hours under- 
ground in torrid heat, was August 27, 1930, Dawes' sixty-fifth 

On his return to London, Dawes found the situation of modern 
man not much more comfortable. "Between India, unemployment, 
Palestine, the safeguarding question, and an insecure tenure, neces- 
sitating the continual adjustment of a constantly shifting and indefi- 
nite alliance with the Liberal party under Lloyd George, the Prime 
Minister is 'Old Man Trouble's own child 7 just now. 

"MacDonald is disturbed by the French military program in- 
volving large appropriations and fortifications and aeroplanes and a 
large naval construction, planned to commence soon, although the 
latter is not yet in the appropriation stage. 

"He has been unable to get Briand to agree to American and 
British participation in the discussion between Italy and France as 
to the naval settlement, which they could not reach at the Naval 


Conference. MacDonald maintains that this discussion should be 
considered as an extension of the negotiations of the London Naval 
Conference, and should be under similar methods and preparatory 
to the deliberations of the Disarmament Conference of the League 
of Nations* 

"They do not agree to this or, rather, France does not agree. 
He regards this as discouraging, and fears that France is going 
ahead with a naval program which will force Great Britain to follow. 

"MacDonald, in discussing the situation in India, told me that 
Great Britain would at any cost maintain law and order and British 
prestige, which alone assures peace in India/* 

The woes of Great Britain were to occupy many words in 
Dawes' reports to Washington. The future of that country as a 
world power, he thought, lay largely in India, "divided by castes, 
religion, tradition, and conditions thousands of years old/' The In- 
dian situation, he wrote to Stimson, ho believed "was more serious 
than at any time since Queen Victoria was crowned Empress at the 
Durbar in 1877." In the Imperial conference in October, 1930, he 
detected further enkincllement of the flames of nationalism and the 
shaking loose of the cement which held the British Empire together. 

"Perhaps most of England agrees with the views of Lord Roth- 
mere that 'the Indianization of central authority in India means the 
ruin of the British Empire/ " Winston Churchill came to luncheon 
with Dawes to toll him that even a discussion of the Indianization 
of central authority in India was "immensely dangerous/* 

On October a6 the time had finally come when the treaty that 
had come out of the London naval conference was to be officially 
deposited in Ixmdon, Although France and Italy had signed some 
parts of it, they were still at loggerheads concerning its main points* 

"The attitude and appearance of Do Fleuriau and Bordonaro, 
the French and Italian Ambassadors, appealed to their own and our 
sense of humor,* said Dawes' written accotmt of the ceremony, "The 
scene was like a schoolroom, the good little boys sitting at their 
desks doing their sums dutifully under the eyes of an approving 
teacher, and the two little bad boys sitting all alone. We all laughed 
about it with De Fleuriau and Bordonaro, who appreciated the 
ludicrous appearance of their isolation*" 

The French-Italian situation, however, boded ill for the dis- 

300 Portrait of an American: 

armament conference that had been scheduled to take place in 
1932. None of the countries involved were doing the spadework that 
the United States, Great Britain, and Japan had done to prepare for 
the naval conference of 1930. As early as spring of 1931, American 
Secretary of State Stimson believed the conference foredoomed to 
failure. President Hoover, however, felt there was yet time to save it. 

Leading European statesmen, among them the German Foreign 
Minister Curtius, had let it be known that in their opinion Charles 
Dawes would be the best possible President or Vice-President for 
the 1932 disarmament conference. But in January, 1931, Dawes 
went to see MacDonald, to convey to him the reasons why the 
United States would not sponsor the selection of an American for 
that office. In Stimson's view, Dawes informed MacDonald, the most 
complex problems of the conference directly concerned Europe 
alone, "and, while the United States is sympathetic toward the ef- 
fort for a settlement, it cannot properly assume a responsibility for 
its outcome, whether a success or a failure/* 

MacDonald was no more hopeful than Stimson. 

"I found the Prime Minister frankly pessimistic," Dawes noted. 
"He sees no progress in the French and Italian naval situation. Nor 
does he look happily at the attitude of France and Germany toward 
the Disarmament Conference He fears that Germany may end up 
simply using it for the purpose of making a declaration against the 
Versailles Treaty. He made no demur to Stimson's reasoning/* 

For a short moment, the situation improved. France and Italy 
had reached an agreement "in principle/' but the agreement was not 
to develop any further. The German- Austrian customs union was to 
make any talk of disarmament in France impossible Briand resigned, 
and Dawes noted in his diary: 

"Briand's resignation as Minister of Foreign Affairs menaces the 
success of the disarmament conference and of other European ef- 
forts for peaceful adjustments for the time/* 

Dawes, at his London listening post, heard the rumbling of 
unrest all over Europe, and faithfully reported it to Washington. 

"To keep our State Department informed about the progress 
of the constantly changing naval negotiations between Great Britain, 
France, and Italy requires the American Ambassador to perform 
functions similar to those of an informed newspaper correspondent 


conveying confidential news, not for publication but for use in the 
determination of policy by those charged with responsibility for it." 

With an obdurate and fanatical Hitler daily gathering strength 
in Germany; France disturbed by the implications of the German 
and Austrian customs union; Italy and France deadlocked in their 
naval negotiations; the first faint thunder from the war clouds m 
Manchuria; and the pillars of Empire weakening for Great Britain 
in India, Palestine, and on the Suez, Ambassador Dawes, in the late 
spring of 1931 wrote to his brother Rufus in Chicago: 

"I fear the time is arriving described in Isaiah 33:7: 'The am- 
bassadors of peace shall weep bitterly/ * 

Chapter Twenty-One 


L)iplomacy," Dawes wrote during his term as Ambassador 
at the Court of St. James, "is not hard on the brain., but it is hell 
on the feet/' And indeed, the distances the Ambassador had to cover 
on foot, in trains, or aboard ship were enormous. On May 22, 1931? 
he was on another ocean voyage to report to Washington. 

On his second day at sea, aboard the SS Bremen, he wrote in 
his diary: 

"Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt of New York sent a note by 
his son, Elliott, inviting me to dinner last nigfct in his stateroom. 
No others were present. Roosevelt's service in Washington was under 
President Wilson as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. As I seldom 
visited Washington in those days, I had never met him, to my recol- 
lection, though he said we had met at Bordeaux, France, during the 

"It was a regular Rooseveltian occasion, both delightful and 
strenuous. I do not know when I have enjoyed an evening more, 
and we were both surprised, being still fresh and in the full height 
of conversational activity, to find we had consumed four and a half 
hours when we separated or, rather, when I left his room. With 
common experience in civil service, common experience during the 
war, common friends and acquaintances by the score, we forgot all 
political difference which, after all, is never a real barrier; and, 
naturally, we forgot to look at the clock." 

While Dawes felt that President Hoover ought to be re-elected, 
he held out little hope that this would happen. At the occasion of 


the 1930 elections Dawes had noted. "Hard times and prohibition 
went hand in hand to beat the Republicans. There is no occasion to 
philosophize. Events are in the saddle. Prohibition cuts squarely 
across party lines. As the result of the election, two new leaders 
stand out. Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt of New York, a wet 
Democrat; and Dwight Morrow of New Jersey, a wet Republican/' 
By now, Dawes was convinced that Frankhn D. Roosevelt would 
be the next President of the United States. 

"In this world-wide and serious business depression, the major- 
ity of the people in most of the countries thus affected seem in 
opposition to their governmental administrations. The reasoning of 
the average man everywhere is simple. He wants a change of things, 
so why not start out by changing administrations? In times of ad- 
versity, he will regard any action, good or bad, wise or unwise, on 
the part of an existing administration as wrong. In other words, his 
attitude is determined by his feelings rather than his reason. 

"Existing administrations, however, while probably doomed to 
early defeat, may have a chance to come back into public favor later 
if they act courageously, but not if they fail to act. If they act wisely, 
posterity, which ignores popularity in forming its judgments, will 
applaud them. Posterity will even condone an unwise act if it is 
sincere and courageous, but for indecision and inaction in time of 
crisis it has only condemnation. 

"I hear much criticism of President Hoover for his unquestion- 
ably useful effort to mitigate the situation, It is to his credit that he 
is being criticized for doing too much instead of too little/' 

Next day, Dawes had another long conversation with the future 
President Roosevelt In a session "lasting until midnight/* they 
talked of the League of Nations, Winston Churchill, diaries, and, 
above all, economy in government Dawes had gone to the boat 
from the House of Parliament where he had heard Churchill speak 
on tihte Budget, and had written in his diary: 

"Churchill interests me more and more as an orator. He is not 
the equal of Arthur Balfour and does not have the deep, spiritual 
qualities of Ramsay MacDonald, but he is a great orator, and foe 
draws blood from the opposition when he speaks. Churchill spoke 
of his 'present loneliness/ an obvious allusion to the fact that the 
Conservatives seem to be making an outcast of him at this time, 

304 Portrait of an American: 

Churchill has great vigor and courage, and it seems to me the Con- 
servatives might well be using his talents/' 

Governor Roosevelt in the boat conversations had been prolific 
in his praise of the Federal Budget System established by Dawes. 
He asked for, and received, a sizable file of material which Dawes 
had furnished to the British Royal Commission on Civil Service, 
and which contained some of his views on governmental economy. 
In retailing the material later, Roosevelt attached a handwritten 

State of New York 


Franklin D. Roosevelt 


Dear General: 

Are you going to have any copies of this made? If so, I should 
much like to have one, to make the heads of my departments read 
it. The budget system as such, in Albany, is pretty good, but there 
is no comprehension of the idea that the whole amount of an ap- 
propriation does not have to be spent. 



Roosevelt in his 1932 campaign was merely to expand the views 
expressed in his two ocean talks with Dawes. Dawes subsequently 
changed his early good opinion of Roosevelt when Roosevelt 
changed his views on economy in governmental administration. 

The gloom of the depression ravaging the United States fell 
across the ocean to meet Dawes on his way home. The passengers 
aboard seemed "soaked with pessimism, and the press reports indi- 
cate clearly that business in the United States is growing worse. 
With unerring but not premeditated accuracy, I select the worst 
possible time to go home and raise money for the exposition. How- 
ever, as I came out all right in the panic month of 1929, I will not 
prejudge the possibilities." Before! the ship reached the American 
shore, Dawes received radiograms from both Hoover and Morrow 
to call on them immediately on his return. The word "crisis** would 


be the leitmotiv of their conversations, as it would indeed be of 
Dawes' remaining years in the public service. 

"Had two long and interesting visits with Secretary Mellon. 
One thing I note in this terrible business depression, undoubtedly 
the worst in this country since 1873, is that even the richest men are 
worried. All have been met by very large and unexpected demands 
for money to salvage their speculating friends and to assist in meet- 
ing past commitments of their enterprises. Mellon is one of the 
richest men in the United States, but, just as I found with every 
other business leader in New York, his face was 'sicklied o'er with the 
pale cast of thought/ " 

Home in Chicago, Dawes found "a bankrupt city government 
already in default on city obligations, and so far unable to get reme- 
dial legislation from the legislature which would enable it to help 
itself. It cannot even raise money to pay the city employees. The 
banks are unwilling to take any more of the city's obligations until, 
through the enactment of new legislation, they have a chance to be 
paid back/' Nonetheless, Dawes sold over a million dollars of Cen- 
tury of Progress exposition bonds "sufficient to carry building to the 
latter part of 1932." 

But now the storm in all its fury was breaking in Europe. En 
route to Springfield, Illinois, where Hoover was to speak, the Presi- 
dent and the Ambassador discussed the situation. The Bank of 
Austria was about to fail. If that happened, the Reichsbank in Ger- 
many would be compelled to declare a moratorium. 

"This would precipitate a world financial crisis, affecting our 
own country materially, as the New York banks alone were reported 
to have $500,000,000 of German acceptances," Dawes wrote in the 
record of his train conferences with Hoover, "The New York bankers 
had been telephoning Hoover before he left Washington, requesting 
governmental assistance in the European difficulty. 

"Hoover was considering what he could do to relieve this situa- 
tion. His present thought was to suggest a reparations moratorium 
all around, for one or two years, funding the payment due to the 
United States for that time. France, in that case, would have to 
forego receiving reparations, at present amounting to more than she 
is paying the United States. Hoover could not propose such a plan 
without being assured by leaders of the opposition that Congress 

306 Portrait of an American: 

would ratify it in December. European finance is tottering, but this 
moratorium might help tide things over. 

"Meanwhile, the Bank of Austria's gold reserve, like that of the 
Reichsbank, is becoming dangerously low, and the recalling of short- 
time loans by America, and our favorable balance of trade, continue 
to draw the life blood from European finance. In our own country, 
banks are closing every day, and money is being hoarded in safe- 
deposit boxes/' 

On June 21 Hoover announced the foreign-debt moratorium. It 
was a move in the self-interest of the United States. Dawes said in a 
supporting statement: 

"In these days of commercial and financial international depend- 
ence, no great nation is immune from the effect of credit collapse of 
any other great nation That always involves a possible world-wide 
credit collapse. That is why the world now rallies to the cause of 
German credit relief." 

But in spite of all efforts, the German financial situation grew 
rapidly worse. The country declared a bank moratorium and a gold 
embargo. Other central European countries were about to follow 

"This morning, William R. Castle, Under Secretary of State, 
telephoned me that the President desired me to return to London 
as soon as possible and he there while the German loan negotiations 
between the representatives of the three nations concerned were 
taking place. He stated that the President said, in view of my repara- 
tions and financial experience, he thought the earlier I got back to 
London, the better, that the* situation was very serious because of 
conditions imposed by France, and he feared the negotiations would 
be prolonged for several weeks." 

Dawes prepared to return to London, to remain as long as 
needed. He had, he said, "remained in public service so long that I 
have no longer any private employment." The Central Trust Com- 
pany of Illinois which he had founded had by now been merged with 
the National Bank of the Republic, to become the Central Republic 
Bank and Trust Company, a $350,000,000 institution. While it was 
still generally known as the "Dawes Bank," Dawes had retained little 
more than a sentimental interest in it, But the institution stood on 
solid feet, and Dawes left for England without any fear for its fate. 


"Among the lessons this generation is being taught is the inter- 
dependence of the European nations upon each other, and the fact 
that no nation can permanently prosper economically upon the 
calamities of others/' Dawes wrote. "It is also evident that public 
opinion here and elsewhere is changing its attitude somewhat on the 
whole question of reparations and debt payments. If they can really 
be settled on a basis satisfactory to all concerned, so that they no 
longer can be used by nationalistic politicians as a basis for creating 
ill feelings among neighboring people, the prospects of continuing 
peace and more eflFective disarmament will be greatly improved. The 
present world-wide economic crisis has rescued these questions 
everywhere, here and in Europe, from a matter of public discussion 
to a matter of public feeling. In this is some hope, for when the 
public feels, it acts." 

Stimson, in London as another crisis came, favored a $500,000,- 
ooo loan to Germany from the Bank of England, the Bank of France, 
and banks in the United States. Hoover, Dawes, Morrow, and Mills, 
huddled in the White House, were unanimously against this, because 
"the amount proposed would be entirely insufficient to restore nor- 
mal German credit, whatever be the form the loan would take, even 
if American hankers would participate, which they won't/* 

Hoover proposed instead a stabilization and assurance of the 
existing volume of short-term credit to Germany, which amounted 
to $1,400,000,000. This would have to be agreed to by foreign bank- 
ers. The maintenance of this large volume of credit to Germany, 
Hoover felt, plus the $400,000,000 relief from reparations payments 
which he had brought about a month before, would do more to 
assure stability of the German credit structure than the loan. 

With the German situation thus for the moment saved, Dawes 
embarked for England. Before he was halfway across the ocean, the 
report came that the Bank of England was in distress. The Old Lady 
of Threadneedle Street, up to her neck in commitments, was losing 
gold at a disturbing rate. Sensational press reports charged France 
with abetting these gold withdrawals. 

"It is evident that another week-end crisis te on/* Dawes wrote. 
"Last week it was Germany; this week it's England.* 

On August & the bolstering of the Old Lady began* The Federal 

308 Portrait of an American: 

Reserve Bank of New York, and other Federal Reserve Banks, agreed 
to purchase from the Bank of England up to $125,000,000 of prime 
commercial bills. The Bank of France committed itself to take an 
equal amount. 

"Everybody informed," Dawes wrote, "knows that England's 
credit situation is in a crisis, demanding the same kind of help which 
England, in the past, extended to those in similar circumstances. But 
it was difficult for England, which has always extended credit in the 
past, to ask for it now. 

"The arrangement is referred to this morning in the English 
press as a tripartite arrangement between the United States, Eng- 
land, and France, of which England will be the first beneficiary. It 
is of mutual interest to all concerned, of course, and, while England 
is primarily benefited, the United States and France act because of 
benefits to themselves But the form of the press statement is an 
indication of how England repels the thought of assistance/' 

On August 16 Dawes recorded: 

"Through the fifty-million-pound loan to the Bank of England 
by the Federal Reserve Banks and the Bank of France, the pound 
has been stabilized for the present, but confidence in British econ- 
omy and financial stability has been shaken. Great Britain now seems 
to face inflation and currency depreciation or the adoption of a 
partial moratorium such as that already existing in Germany/' 

But on August 30 a credit of $400,000,000 to the United King- 
dom was arranged, with the United States and France to peg the 
pound sterling at par MacDonald called Stanley Baldwin and 
Neville Chamberlain, Conservatives, and Liberal party leaders such 
as Sir Herbert Samuel and Sir Samuel Hoare, into consultation on 
emergency legislation to meet the crisis. MacDonald's own Labor 
party refused him its support, only Chancellor of the Exchequer 
Philip Snowden and Secretary of State for Dominions J. H. Thomas 
going along with him. Arthur Henderson led the Cabinet and the 
majority of the party in opposition. Meeting with King George at 
Buckingham Palace, MacDonald, Baldwin, and Samuel agreed to 
form a national government. Labor displaced MacDonald and made 
Henderson its parliamentary leader 

Lights burned late in the American Chancery every night in 
September, and Ambassador Dawes received and cabled tens of 


thousands of words about the imminence of a general election in the 
United Kingdom, the silver predicament, the stiaits on gold with 
Great Britain close to going off the gold standard, the ugly Chinese- 
Japanese situation, and other troublesome conditions around the 

"These are momentous times In this general election in Britain, 
democracy is undergoing a supreme and decisive test on this side of 
the ocean. What wiU be the outcome? In Germany today, there is a 
governmental crisis In Manchuria, Japan and China are on the brink 
of war. In all the countries of the world, economic crisis. Fear and 
continuing uncertainty of these alone we are certain. 

"In the breaking up of old conditions, many old controversies 
may be settled That at least seems probable If the Nationalists come 
into power in Germany, for instance, reparations will be wiped out. 
Germany will then settle that question for herself, and the world will 
accept it, for it cannot secure reparations by going to war for them " 

During his stay in England Dwight Morrow had often visited 
him and on every visit home Dawes had had long talks with Morrow. 
They also carried on a steady correspondence. Morrow died on Octo- 
ber 6. Dawes wrote in his diary: 

"My dear and faithful friend, Dwight W. Morrow, died sud- 
denly yesterday at his home in Englewood, New Jersey. I loved him 
as a brother and mourn his loss. Among all the leading men of our 
country, of whom I have known some intimately in my public and 
private life during the last forty years, I regard Dwight Morrow as 
the ablest. 

"He died full of accomplishment but, even so, only at the thresh- 
old of a great career of public usefulness* The words on General 
Gordon's tomb in St Paul's apply to Dwight as well: 'At all times and 
everywhere, he gave his strength to the weak, his substance to the 
poor, his sympathy to the suffering, and his heart to God/ " 

No sooner had one problem been settled than Dawes' diplomatic 
skill was needed to deal with trouble elsewhere on the globe, In the 
night of September 18, 1931, a Japanese army at Mukden, engaged 
in night maneuvers, used an alleged explosion on a railway to seize 
the capitals of three Manchurian provinces and other key points, 
leaving to the Chinese troops no choice but to withdraw from the 

310 Portrait of an American: 

region. Within two months Japanese troops had occupied every im- 
portant city in southern Manchuria with the sole exception of 

On November 9, 1931, Dawes attended the annual Lord Mayor's 
dinner. MacDonald, whose nationalist ticket had won a landslide 
victory in October, was the principal speaker. During the Prime 
Minister's speech, a messenger brought the American Ambassador a 
message. Secretary of State Stunson wished to speak by telephone 
on an important matter. The United States Government, Stimson 
told Dawes, wanted him to go to Pans and represent it during the 
meeting of the Council of the League of Nations on November 16, 
"to consider and act upon the Manchurian situation in a continuation 
of the effort to avert the threatened war between China and Japan " 

Dawes' first move was to get in touch with Matsudaira, the Japa- 
nese Ambassador to Great Britain. Next he went to see Sir John 
Simon, who had succeeded Lord Reading as Foreign Minister. Then 
Dawes, Matsudaira, and Sir John huddled. It was evident that 
Matsudaira was a sorely perplexed diplomat. The Japanese military 
forces which on September 18 began the movement acted without 
the approval of the Japanese Premier and the Foreign Minister. It 
was, in fact, almost a mutinous act, at least an act of defiance by the 
militarists in their long contest with the Japanese moderates. Matsu- 
daira frankly told Dawes that he would be representing, not the 
Japanese Empire, but the moderates as against the militarists. He 
did not know which faction would finally be triumphant. 

These London conferences, and his talks with M. Briand, the 
President of the League of Nations Council at the Quai D'Orsay, 
convinced Dawes that it was doubtful whether either the Japanese 
Government in Tokyo or the Chinese Government in Nanking could 
control the movement of their troops in the field: 

"During much of the time, it seemed as if we were dealing with 
two separate governments in Japan, and no government at all in 
China, representing real power of decision." 

The League took jurisdiction, because both Japan and China 
were members, and both the Council and the Assembly of the 
League were in session in Geneva at the time of the aggression; and, 
also, China appealed to the League. The Council, by a vote of 
thirteen to one, Japan dissenting, demanded that the Japanese evac- 


uate the occupied territory by November 16, and called upon China 
to guarantee the safety of the Japanese in the evacuated territory. 
Japan did not comply. 

Dawes was then a man of recognized broad competence, and a 
seasoned diplomat of high standing throughout the world. Conse- 
quently, the American government left it very largely to his discre- 
tion to make whatever contribution this country could toward set- 
tling the issues and preventing war between China and Japan. 

Whether he attended or did not attend the meetings of the 
Council of the League was at his option. This question came up at 
the first parley between Briand and Dawes. The American Ambassa- 
dor informed Briand that he regarded the United States as following 
League leadership in the negotiations. But he said: "A parallel co- 
operation by the United States, reserving its independence of action 
and decision, would be more effective in securing peace than if, by 
attendance at the meetings to the curiosity of the world press and 
justified apprehension of my Government, I became involved in the 
discussion of methods of an organization of which the United States 
is not even a member/* 

"If, however," he added, "in the future, I come to believe the 
greatest influence of the United States for the common objective of 
peace can be exercised by my attendance at the meeting of the 
Council, I will not hesitate to attend." 

Dawes remained at his station in the Ritz Hotel in Paris day and 
night for four weeks, accepted no outside invitations, held many 
conferences with other negotiators, was in frequent telephone talks 
with President Hoover and Secretary Stimson; and so unremitting 
was the task that he wrote: "I was virtually a prisoner in my office. 
My cables alone ran well over one hundred thousand words in four 

His relations with the Chinese and the Japanese representatives 
on the Council of the League of Nations were unique: 

"Upon receiving messages from their governments which, if 
presented to the League, would create an impasse and tend to bring 
about a failure of the negotiations, both Sze and Matsudaira would 
first bring the situation to ray attention. During those days also, Sir 
Eric Drummond, Secretary General of the League and thus repre- 
sentative of the Council, would call for a preliminary discussion of 

312 Portrait of an American: 

the different situations and the course it seemed wise to take from the 
standpoint of the Council. Sir John Simon and I also would exchange 
calls. This made it possible for me, on several occasions, to exercise 
an influence in preventing stalemates which might have occurred if 
the representatives of Japan and China had first gone directly to the 
Council, where the nature of the difficulty was sure to have become 
public before it was settled. It was evident during these negotiations 
that, whenever a matter was given to the League Council for confi- 
dential discussion at a closed meeting, it became public property in 
the press the next day." 

Out of the sessions of the Council of the League, and not least 
out of Dawes* own efforts behind the scene, there came a unanimous 
report of the Council, one to which both China and Japan agreed, 
arranging for the dispatch of an impartial commission of inquiry to 
Manchuria. In a statement written by Dawes, the United States, not 
a member of the League, gave her approval and support to the 
action, and to the appointment of the Lytton Commission. As Dawes 
left Paris in the company of Sir Robert Cecil, he was hopeful "that 
this resolution has at least brought about the prevention of a general 
war between Japan and China at this time, making possible a com- 
paratively peaceful stabilization of the Manchurian situation, and 
insuring further peaceful discussion of the unsettled and fundamen- 
tal issue involved/' 

But on the very day on which Dawes and Cecil disembarked 
from the channel boat, the Minseito Cabinet of Premier Shidehara 
fell, and the "war" Seiukai Cabinet came into power. On January 2, 
Chinchow, the last Chinese bastion in Manchuria, fell to the 

In London another tough assignment was waiting for Dawes. 
On December 21, 1931, Stimson called him by telephone to say that 
the President and the Secretary of State desired him to be chairman 
of the United States delegation to the Disarmament Conference in 
Geneva in February. 

'1 told him I did not feel competent to engage in the technical 
negotiations which, to such an extent, this convention would involve. 
My suggestion was that Hugh Gibson would be better qualified. The 


discussion indicated, however, that he and the President were fully 
resolved in the matter. 

"Upon inquiry whether my appointment was satisfactory to 
Senator Claude Swanson, who will be a member of the delegation, he 
replied that it was. I told him that, under the circumstances, I would 
accept This is certainly a difficult assignment. If I had not had some 
experience m international negotiations and did not know what I 
was taking on, I would feel highly honored. As it is, the appointment 
leaves me cold. However, I will do the best I can." 

Dawes embarked immediately for the United States to discuss 
his prospective duties as delegation chairman, and presided over the 
first meeting of the delegation at the State Department, But by now, 
President Hoover had trouble on another front. In an effort to prop 
up the nation's sagging economy, he had proposed the establishment 
of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to make loans to dis- 
tressed banks, railroads, and business. 

The proposal met with strong opposition in Congress* A foe of 
the legislation was John N, Garner who, as Speaker of the House of 
Representatives, held the highest office of any Democrat in the 
nation. Such an institution, he shouted, might serve legitimate busi- 
ness at first, but, "when that need is past, it will linger on as a pipe 
line to the United States Treasury for chiselers and drone businesses, 
which will not be entitled to the use of the people's funds which 
partisan favor will give them." 

Garner admitted, however, that the need for emergency help 
was great He agreed to support the legislation if he were assured 
that it would be abolished when the need no longer existed, and that 
the men appointed to administer it would be "Republicans like 
Charley Dawes and Democrats like Jesse Jones/* He was given the 

Dawes, by now a keen and experienced judge of international 
affairs no less than of financial troubles, felt that he would be able to 
do more good by undertaking an urgent task at home rather than a 
hopeless task abroad. Late in January he resigned his position as 
Ambassador and chairman of the Geneva delegation, and a few days 
later assumed his duties as president of the Reconstruction Finance 

From xo Downing Street, London, MacDonald wrote to Dawes: 

314 Portrait of an American: 

"I grieve much that the announcement which appears in today's 
paper means that you are going to leave us. We have had a very good 
time together, which I think has been completely undisturbed by 
disagreements or misunderstandings How happy the world would 
be if every country's relations with the others had been conducted 
in the spirit in which you and we have managed as regards our own. 
When you wander back here to be lazy, or for any other purposes, 
do remember that, as long as I am above ground, there will be 
somebody who will expect to see you and who will greet you with 

So acute was the country's economic plight that Dawes and 
Jesse H Jones began work before the Senate had confirmed their 
nominations as directors of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. 
Oddly, the borrowed room where they worked had been Dawes* 
office thirty-five years before when he, a thirty-two-year-old Comp- 
troller of the Currency, had his first nationwide experience in rescu- 
ing tottering banks. It was banks again that were to receive first 
attention now. 

The directors heard that they could have their choice be- 
tween first deciding the claims of the largest bank empire in the 
nation, or those of the railroad system with the greatest mileage. The 
decision was to put plasma in the bank's blood stream before giving 
oats to the iron horse On the first day of operation, a $15,000,000 
loan went to the Giannini Bank of America. While the RFC Directors 
were debating the loan to the Giannini bank, Orris P and Mantis J. 
Van Sweringen, controlling a three-billion-dollar transcontinental 
group of railroad lines aggregating 28,631 miles, stood in the bustling 
corridor of the drafty old building, waiting their turn. 

There is less personal documentation of Dawes' activities in the 
first of Washington's alphabetical agencies than of any other period 
of his adult life up to that time At the end of his term as Ambassador 
to the Court of St. James, he abandoned his habit of keeping a diary 
and notes, never again to resume it. The pace he now set at the RFC 
was too grueling In their efforts to rescue the nation's economy, 
he and his fellow RFC directors would be working many months on 
sixteen-hour days for seven days a week. 

At the end of his first month at the RFC, it had expanded from 


the original two floors to occupy the entire building, formerly the 
Department of Commerce. Something like one thousand loans had 
been studied and processed. To 858 banks and trust companies had 
gone loans of $158,000,000, nearly $61,000,000 to railroads, and 
about $10,000,000 to mortgage-loan companies and building and 
loan associations. These sums were to be dwarfed by the pouring out 
of billions in both Europe and at home in later years, but in 1932 
they were impressive. 

While two decades later the wisdom of Garner's epigrammatic 
statement that "you can lick a depression easier than you can liqui- 
date a government agency" was m a fair way of being proved, but 
the RFC for at least the first dozen years of its life was to be one of 
the best administered, the least partisan, and the most helpful to the 
nation of all modern-day government agencies. 

In June, after four months at the Reconstruction Finance Cor- 
poration, Dawes resigned and returned to Chicago. For the balance 
of his years, he would be in private life. 

Chapter Twenty-Two 


On June 17, 1932, Charles Gates Dawes walked into a 
meeting of the directors of the Central Republic Bank and Trust 
Company of Chicago and demanded that he be elected chairman of 
its Board. The bank was in trouble as, in varying degree, was every 
other bank in the United States. But in Dawes' judgment, it was 

Dawes* own holdings in the Central Republic amounted to 
fifty-two shares, with a par value of $5,200, but a market value on 
that day of only $2,444. The Central Republic had come out of a 
merger of the Central Trust Company of Illinois, which Dawes had 
founded but with which he had had no active connection since his 
election to the Vice-Presidency of the United States, with the Na- 
tional Bank of the Republic. His faith in the soundness of the institu- 
tion, still referred to popularly as the "Dawes Bank," was such that 
the firm Dawes Brothers, Inc., of which he was the largest stock- 
holder, had invested several hundred thousand dollars in shares of 

Banks in and around Chicago had been taking a terrible beat- 
ing. On the day Dawes resigned from the Reconstruction Finance 
Corporation, twenty-five suburban banks had closed their doors. On 
June 22, bank runs began in Chicago's Loop. On June 23, the Carroll 
chain of seven banks failed to open. On June 24, eight more of the 
smaller banks in the Loop remained closed. At the end of the most 
tempestuous week of bank runs and closings any great city in the 
land had ever seen, the Central Republic and four other big banks in 
Chicago had alone managed to stay open. 



But the confidence of the public was badly shaken. On June 25, 
a Saturday, long lines formed in front of the tellers* windows in the 
five big downtown banks, and crowds collected in LaSalle, Clark, 
Dearborn, and Monroe streets. The hundreds of thousands of Chi- 
cago's unemployed, dependent entirely on their dwindling bank 
accounts, could not take a chance on losing their deposits or having 
them frozen behind closed tellers' windows. And on this Saturday, 
rumors had spread through the city that even the big five were no 
longer solvent 

Shortly before noon that day, President Melvin A. Traylor of 
the biggest of all Chicago banks, the seventy-year-old First Na- 
tional, climbed up the marble pedestal supporting a pillar in the 
savings department of his bank to address the depositors present. 
He told them that, with all that was happening in Cook County 
banks, they could not be blamed for doubting, but he wished to 
assure them that the First National Bank was as solvent as ever. 

That night Charles G. Dawes made a decision and went to bed 
for the first night's sound sleep since he had returned to Chicago. 
On Sunday, he would summon the other Chicago banks and an- 
nounce that, on Monday morning, the Central Republic Bank would 
not open its doors. To the Sunday morning meeting, Dawes called 
financial executives of his bank, and the heads of the other big Chi- 
cago banks. They knew the story of the past week as well as he did. 
In six days, loop banks had paid out more than $100,000,000 in cur- 
rency over the counter. Additional millions disappeared to other 
cities through the clearinghouse. 

After the meeting with Dawes, Traylor called his own bank 
associates to meet in the First National Bank. He then went to the 
hotel room of Jesse H. Jones, a director of the Reconstruction Fi- 
nance Corporation. Jones, a delegate from Texas to the Democratic 
national convention, and a leader in the movement to nominate 
John Nance Gamer for President, had arrived for the convention 
which was to meet the following Tuesday. Later, Jones recorded: 

*Mr. Traylor came to my hotel room and asked me to go witib 
him to a meeting of bankers. He did not tell me the purpose o the 
meeting or where it was being held, but his mien indicated that it 
was serious and important. We got to the bank about noon* Frob- 

3*8 Portrait of an American: 

ably thirty or forty of the leading bankers, bank directors, and men 
prominent in the business and financial life of Chicago sat around, 
and an atmosphere of graveness pervaded the room. 

"General Dawes was the coolest man present, and he dominated 
the meeting just as I had seen him dominate many other important 
gatherings. He was concise and convincing. In a voice which was a 
blend of force and gentleness, he explained how he had weighed all 
elements of the situation and now wished to inform the other banks 
in Chicago, and me as a Government official, that he did not intend 
to open his bank the following morning. He had no doubt that the 
bank was solvent, but it was perfectly evident what would happen. 
The bank's cash would continue to disappear through the clearing- 
house and by over-the-counter withdrawal by frightened depositors, 
until the bank eventually would have to close anyway. Such a situa- 
tion would throw the brunt of the trouble on friendly, trusting de- 
positors, who would have to wait for their money until the bank was 

"He made it clear that he wanted no assistance, but wished to 
fulfill an obligation he felt he owed to the other banks so that, know- 
ing his decision, they could use such means as they saw fit to meet 
their own requirements. It must have been apparent to all of those 
present, as it certainly was to me, that a continuation of the bank 
runs and clearinghouse withdrawals would force all banks in the 
Chicago area to close." 

The scene was reminiscent of one held twenty-seven years be- 
fore in the same room, when the John R. Walsh banks closed, and 
Dawes had deadlocked the meeting until there was agreement on 
the equal treatment of all classes of depositors. Dawes would not 
have hesitated to close a bank under similar circumstances when 
he was Comptroller of the Currency and held that power; now 
he did not hesitate to close his own bank. 

Traylor, speaking for other Chicago bankers, said they would 
have great trouble in remaining open, indeed, closing of the Central 
Republic might start a sweep of big-bank closings that would rock 
the country. Dawes, who as a director of the RFC had participated 
in authorizing loans to more than four thousand banks, believed that 
eventually all banks would have to be closed and curative bank laws 
enacted. Jones afterwards believed that it would have perhaps been 


better for all the banks if they had closed at that time and remained 
closed until the enactment of a bank-guarantee law. Indeed, the 
banks were closed nine months later, at the beginning of the Roose- 
velt administration. Then the Vandenberg deposit-insurance amend- 
ment to the Glass banking bill was passed over Roosevelt's strenuous 

Traylor requested Jones to call President Hoover and recom- 
mend government assistance in keeping the Central Republic open, 
Jones said he did not have sufficient information to make a recom- 
mendation, but he would make a quick study. He could not, he 
pointed out, examine a large bank in a few hours, but he, too, had 
participated in the authorization of four thousand loans to banks in 
four months, and his eye was practiced. Then he took off his coat, sat 
down at a desk, and began to examine bank records. An hour or so 
later, he telephoned President Hoover. 

*I have made a horseback appraisal," he said, "which is, I think, 
about as accurate, for general purposes, as a detailed analysis of the 
bank's assets supported by credit information. I think it is too danger- 
ous to the country to allow the Central Republic to close for, if it 
closes, all Chicago banks will eventually have to and, perhaps, all the 
banks of the country. I am willing to take the responsibility for mak- 
ing the loan. There cannot be any great loss in the liquidation of the 
bank, if it comes to that There is security here, in my estimation, for 
a loan of $90,000,000." 

President Hoover said he would consult the Secretary of the 
Treasury and some others of his advisers. Not much later he called 
back and told Jones to "make as good a trade as you can for partici- 
pation of other banks in the loan, but save that bank' 9 

The meeting which had begun at noon Sunday did not adjourn 
until after four o'clock Monday morning. During the afternoon on 
Sunday, Wilson McCarthy, another Democratic member of the RFC 
Board of Directors, arrived in Chicago for the Democratic conven- 
tion and, with RFC examiners, fingered through the bank's col- 

New York bankers, joining in the telephoning, insisted that the 
Central Republic borrow the $90,000,000 for which, Jones had said, 
there was sufficient collateral. The closing of the Dawes Bank, the 
New Yorkers urged, might start a wave which within a few days or 

Portrait of an American: 

a few weeks of that calamitous summer, would sweep over the whole 
commercial-bank structure, first of the Midwest, then of the nation 
New York, they assured, would participate in the loan to the extent 
of $10,000,000. 

Dawes insisted that the New York commitment be put in writ- 
ing. As it was Sunday, it was impossible to get the signatures. 

Dawes still strongly insisted he believed his decision to close 
had been the right one. Because he had been but recently a director 
of the RFC, he did not want to be a borrower from it. He was 
certain, he said, that in a liquidation the bank would pay off 100 
cents on the dollar, perhaps even without a stockholders' assessment. 

At two o'clock Monday morning, with the New York banks in- 
accessible in time for Monday morning opening, and the Chicago 
banks insisting that $3,000,000 was about as much of the loan as 
they could take, it still appeared that the bank would have to close. 
Then Jones announced that he and McCarthy, as RFC directors, 
would authorize a loan up to $90,000,000 if the Chicago banks would 
participate to the extent of $5,000,000. But all terms of the law would 
have to be met, Jones insisted. The Chicago RFC agency manager 
and examiners and the Chicago loan advisory board would have to 
certify that the security for the loan, in their opinion, was sufficient 
to assure its repayment. 

Shortly after 4AM. Monday the last details had been arranged, 
On Monday and Tuesday, the RFC put $40,000,000 into the bank's 
vault. As collateral for the loan, the RFC took practically all of the 
assets of the bank. 

"As it looked to me then, the country could not afford the shock 
of the closing of this big bank," Jones said later. "Under the same 
information and circumstances, I would do the same thing again. 
From the Government's standpoint, it was a sound loan. There were, 
however, many sound reasons, both from a local and a national 
economic standpoint, why the Central Republic and all other banks 
in the United States might better have been closed in June, 1932* as 
they were finally, anyway, in March, 1933. Probably twenty million 
depositors suffered a greater loss in their deposits than they would 
have suffered had their banks not remained open too long." 

This was the one occasion on which Dawes changed an impor- 
tant decision at the behest of others. He had done it on the judgment 


of the President of the United States, two members of the RFC 
Board of Directors, and the unanimous opinion of Chicago bankeis 
that it was the best course. 

Five weeks later, he submitted a plan for the organization of a 
new bank to take over the Central Republic Bank and liquidate it. 
The new bank was called the City National Bank and Trust Com- 
pany, with a capital of $5,000,000, Dawes was its active Chairman of 
the Board. 

Decline in the value of the Central Republic's collateral in the 
next few months made it necessary to make a stockholders' assess- 
ment. The RFC filed suit in 1936. Without waiting for a decision, 
Dawes paid his assessment of $5,200. On May i, 1937, Federal Judge 
Wilkinson ruled that the stockholders were liable to assessments, 
but imposed the conditions that executions could not be levied for 
six months. Yet two days after the decree, Dawes Brothers, Inc., and 
other members of the Dawes family liable to an assessment paid 
$1,027,000 to the bank receiver. 

Despite the fact that Dawes had assumed the burden of the 
bank's trouble when his personal holdings were small and he had not 
been an officer or director of the bank for seven years, the loan was 
the subject of attacks throughout the 1932 Presidential campaign. 
President Hoover replied to the attack in a campaign speech in St. 
Louis in November. 

"The central human figure of that bank was a man who had 
served his country for forty years in high capacities, who in recent 
years had been absent from the country in a position of first impor- 
tance to the American people,** Hoover said. "You know the use our 
political opponents have made of this incident. They ignore the 
fact that General Dawes resigned from the Reconstruction Finance 
Corporation three weeks before, on his first news that attacks were 
being made on the bank with which his name had long been associ- 
ated. He resigned to save that bank without call on the Reconstruc- 
tion Finance Corporation, of which he has been a director. He knew 
and appreciated the use that would be made of such calumny in 
this campaign. He sought to avoid it 

"And you should know that, when that Sunday meeting started, 
General Dawes stated that he could not bring himself to ask for 
assistance from the corporation of which he had so lately been a 

322 Portrait of an American: 

director, but it was upon the insistence of the two Democratic mem- 
bers of the Reconstruction Board sitting in the Federal Reserve 
meeting in Chicago, and upon the insistence of the leading Demo- 
cratic banker of Chicago, who was then mentioned as a candidate 
for the Presidency of the United States, and upon the insistence in 
New York City of the leading Democratic banker and a leading 
Democratic manufacturer also mentioned for the Presidency, upon 
the insistence of the other members of the Reconstruction Finance 
Corporation, that this was no case of the personal feelings of General 
Dawes or the effect upon my administration, that it was solely a case 
of national necessity, and those men then and there jointly offered to 
take the full responsibility for the action. 

"These men acted not because they were Democrats or Republi- 
cans, but because they were loyal citizens of the United States. The 
situation demanded broad vision and comprehensive understanding 
of the problem, instant decision, bold and courageous action. Only 
by this was a major disaster averted. And I may tell you that not only 
were these loans adequately secured but, in the ordinary course of 
business, they are being paid off." 

On January 3, 1933, Dawes wrote to John Pershing: "The last 
year has been a difficult one, but things have come out very well. I 
am enclosing for you the first statement of the City National Bank 
and Trust Company We are both growing older but, with us as with 
Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch, our vicissitudes have not made us 

There is reliable eye-witness evidence that this last statement 
was literally true. For on that morning, or some other morning much 
like it, two religious sisters in their black and white habits were 
ushered into his office. The two good sisters, one of whom was of 
medium height and ample build while the other was tall and exces- 
sively slender, came from a Catholic institution whose aim it was to 
care for the bodies and cure the souls of wayward girls. They came 
because Dawes had helped them before and because they needed 
more help. 

The General gave them a reception they had little expected* He 
j'umped up from his chair, strode around his large desk to meet them, 
and greeted them by giving each of them a resounding kiss on the 


They answeied with smiles of delight. Their smiles deepened 
while Dawes wrote the check. 

The sisters were merely a drop m an endless stream of unusual 
visitors who came to the bank and were invariably admitted to 
Dawes* office. In this stream, there was also a silent, poorly dressed 
man who put in an appearance at regular intervals. He would find 
his way into Dawes' office and then stand around without ever utter- 
ing a syllable. "Good morning, there!" Dawes would call out No 
answer. "What brings you here today?" No answer. "Lovely day, 
isn't it?" No answer. And then, Dawes would hand the man five or 
ten dollars, and he would leave, without ever having broken his 
silence. Only his eyes had spoken. But once outside of Dawes' office, 
the man would find his tongue and tell those who wanted to know 
that General Dawes had supported him for many years, but, appar- 
ently, the General did not like the sound of the words "Thank you!" 
and so he and the visitor had agreed that the visitor would not open 
his lips And that, he added, was indeed a hard assignment oh, yes, 
he now was really earning his money. 

It is not known how many such people the General kept on what 
might be called his "payroll/* He himself refused to tell, and since 
he kept very few records on matters of this sort, his papers do not 
tell either. But those who were close to him during those years and 
had occasion to observe the callers coming to his office, estimate that 
the number was between two hundred and two hundred and fifty. 

From the panicky days of 1893, when a financial crisis had 
stopped all earnings of the Dawes Block Company in Lincoln, 
Nebraska, to the day when he had redeemed the last of that com- 
pany's bonds, Dawes had carried in his pocket a slip of paper show- 
ing the progress he was making in repaying the bondholders to 
whom, in addition, he was regularly paying interest out of his own 
pocket When all was paid off, he had shown the slip to Captain John 
Pershing as a memento of their hard times together in Lincoln. 

Now again, Dawes was carrying a slip of paper showing the 
progress that was being made on the repayment of the RFC loan to 
his bank. In 1938, while he and General Pershing were together in 
Tucson, he showed ft to Pershing: "John," he sa *d, "you and I will 
live to see this one paid in full. 1 * 

Portrait of an American: 

One day in the early forties, as Dawes sat by Pershing's bedside 
in Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, a thought struck him and he 
reached for the soiled and worn bit of paper in his pocket. 
"Look John/' he said. "Here it is-it's all paid." 
The RFC loan, running with interest and liquidation expenses 
to over one hundred million dollars, had been paid in full. 

Chapter Twenty-Three 


J he last years of Charles Gates Dawes' life were in many 
ways his happiest and most rewarding. His health had always been 
and still was excellent he didn't "remember when I have had a 
serious illness." Mrs, Dawes' health had also remained good. In the 
sixty-two years of their married life they had rarely been apart the 
longest period was during his World War I service. 

"I am naturally inclined to be indolent, and have always been, 
except when I was on a red-hot stove Lately, there has been nothing 
to keep me from indulging my indolence/' he would say. The "in- 
dolence" of the man who, for nearly two generations, had led a life 
of activity and public service few men could match, would have kept 
a younger man fully occupied* 

Each morning at the same time he rode the fourteen miles along 
the beautiful lake front from his home to his bank and went to the 
big carved desk in his office. He would be ready to preside over the 
board of directors, and available for any consultation. He liked his 
"crowd." In his business, he had told the committee which had 
offered him the presidency of the Knickerbocker Bank, he would 
always have his "crowd." This "crowd* of his septuagenarian and 
octogenarian days were loyal friends and keen bankers like Philip R, 
Clarke and Arthur Leonard* The banking institution he had founded 
in 1932 at the age of sixty-seven and over which he still presided at 
eighty-five had become one of the largest and strongest in the nation, 

In addition to the success of his bank, the outcome of the Cen- 
tury of Progress Exposition of which his brother, Rufus G, was 

Portrait of an American: 

president had given him great pleasure. As Vice-President he had 
piloted a resolution through Congress to permit the government to 
invite other nations to participate. It was to be a subsidyless exposi- 
tion and the legislation provided that not only could there be no 
federal assistance but the President of the United States could not 
invite other nations until $5,000,000 had been raised by private 
subscription. Dawes also saw to it that no assistance could be ac- 
cepted from any state or municipal taxing agency It not only paid 
subscribers back with 6 per cent interest, but after paying demoli- 
tion costs and restoring die grounds, there was surplus of $160,000 
for distribution to charity 

Chicago, his city which never lost its fascination for him, con- 
sidered him its best-known and most beloved citizen, and, at the 
occasional luncheons and dinners he attended, the audience jumped 
to its feet and cheered when he was introduced. 

Visitors still came from all over the world to visit the Evanston 
home or drop in on him at the bank. Some came asking things, 
others just to shake his hand. Many of them came unannounced, 

One day in the year 1950, when Dawes was nearing his eighty- 
fifth birthday, tihere piled into his office a group of fanners, mer- 
chants, and mechanics in their shirt sleeves. They were the board of 
directors of a small bank in a small Illinois town who at a meeting 
had suddenly decided to pay a visit to the most eminent citizen of 
the state. And so they had jumped into their cars without losing time 
to get their ties on, and had driven off for Chicago and the Dawes 

Against his habit, Dawes did not rise to greet them. 

"My legs are not as good as they used to be," he said with a 
smile "But I can still read a bank statement without glasses. I don't 
want you to think from this that I am unduly interested in money. In 
my very young days, I had a burning ardor for it, but since then I 
have been interested in it only intermittently. One of the Rothschilds 
once said he made his fortune because he discovered there are times 
when one should not try to make money /' 

When Dawes said that he was little interested in money, he was 
speaking the literal truth. Although he was to leave his family in 
more than comfortable circumstances, his fortune did not bear com- 
parison with those, for instance, of most of the other ninety-nine men 


who had appeared on Senator LaFollette's famous list. His business 
acumen had allowed him to achieve financial security comparatively 
early in his life, and he had been able to give to others who were in 
need. He had wanted little more 

Yet there is no doubt that he could have increased his fortune a 
hundredfold if he had wanted to. Once on a trip he pointed to a little 
settlement and said: "Ten or twenty years from now this place will 
be one of the most important cities in this state." Those who were 
with him, including his chauffeur, pricked their ears up and bought 
themselves a few acres of ground in the community, each according 
to his means. A decade later, they found themselves in comfortable 
circumstances because of this transaction. But Dawes himself had 
not been interested enough to do likewise. He probably took some 
pleasure in the fact that his prediction had come true and had 
worked out well for some men he knew. But that was all 

No wonder, however, that the shirt-sleeve board of directors 
now pressed him for a prediction of the future. He laughed, and 

"Oh, no! I am not going to do that. I have never been able to 
break myself of the habit of making soundings along that line, but 
they are to satisfy myself and I do not any longer divulge the results/' 

That day an out-of-town friend was with him in his office, and 
as they talked between callers, Dawes, in his best anecdotal or 
philosophical manner, would offer a running commentary on the 
happenings in his office. Thus, when a young member of a Chicago 
business firm had left, Dawes commented: 

"There are men in his firm with far more impressive titles whose 
work is far less valxtable. This youngster is the sort of fellow who 
does not need a title. When I was at the White House one day, 
General John B Gordon, the great Confederate leader and a close 
friend of President McKinley, cawia in to see the President. General 
Gordon told a story I have never forgotten. At the beginning of the 
war a young man came to him and said he wanted to get his uniform 
quickly so that he could drill his men. "Young man/ said Gordon, *if 
you are not a captain in your shirt sleeves, I can't make yoti one with 
a uniform/ * 

Near the end of the day, also unannounced, came Owen D. 
Young, who was just passing through Chicago, As the all-day visitor 

328 Portrait of an American: 

reflected back over the day's stream of callers, some successful and 
some obviously unsuccessful men, he thought of what Young had 
once written: 

"No man of real quality ever lost General Dawes' affection or 
respect merely because he failed to succeed. No man ever gained 
it merely because he held high title or high position. With him, 
it is always the character of the men. From commanding generals to 
privates in the ranks, from the most ordinary and inconspicuous 
individuals to presidents, kings, and princes, he gathers his friends. 
His sense of reality is never impaired by position, and his dramatic 
sense is never destroyed by convention." 

"Is this a typical day of callers?" the visitor asked. 

General Dawes answered: "Well, I do not get lonely. But I have 
stayed out of the limelight very well." And with a chuckle he picked 
up a letter which he had received and personally answered. It was 
addressed: "To the estate of the late Charles G. Dawes/* 

Dawes was an omnivorous reader, and not of books alone. He 
went daily through all the Chicago daily newspapers, one New York 
newspaper, two daily financial newspapers, a few periodicals, and 
the weekly London Times still came to him. 

"I once read this newspaper very carefully," he said, pointing to 
the New York Times, "but now I seldom look at anything except the 
obituary page." 

"Why the obituary page?" 

"To see how many people live to be ninety," he replied. "You'd 
be surprised how many make it." 

In the afternoon, when the business of the bank had been com- 
pleted, Dawes would return to his Evanston home, and to his library. 

There was little music now in his life. His hearing was failing 
slowly, and he no longer played his flute or the piano. "I do not get 
the overtones. Not long ago I tried to play Tea for Two/ which I 
used to play a lot, but I won't try it again. I miss these overtones, 
too, in music which is being played in front of me or which comes by 
radio or television/' 

And so, his books which by now had grown into a library of well 
over ten thousand volumes, came to mean more and more to him. 
While other people in his social bracket had indulged in such sundry 


fads as sailing yachts or blooded horses, Dawes all his life had been 
collecting books. In addition to his regular library, he had brought 
together a number of special collections on subjects of particular 
interest to him, including a fine collection of Civil War materials 
which he later turned over to the Newberry Library in Chicago for 
public use. And while the countless exquisite objets dart which he 
had gathered in his home from the four corners of the globe gave to 
his library somewhat the air of a museum, his books, whether rare or 
not, were not museum pieces but well-fingered tomes Throughout 
the years, his diaries abounded with notes such as: 

"I am reveling in my library again as I used to before exchang- 
ing evenings devoted to the acquisition of knowledge for those at 
Washington, so often devoted to large dinners. 

"I am reading the one-time-f amous work History of Civilization 
in England* by Thomas Henry Buckle How cheap and contemptible 
a book like this makes the alleged historical works being sold by 
tens of thousands today simply because they detail immoralities. It, 
and books like it, stand out from the mass of 'best sellers* today like 
some of the old cathedrals of Europe surrounded by the slums of 
modern cities. 

"On my trip to New York I read a current biography, written by 
one of the new school of historians, who endeavor to make *best 
sellers' by emphasizing at length the scandalous episodes in the lives 
of ancient leaders, merely using their real accomplishments as back- 


"As I write, I have by my side Appian's Roman History, Thu- 
cydides, Dio Cassius, Julius Caesar (Gallic Wars and Civil Wars}, 
Strabo* Plutarch, and Suetonius." 

Or again: 

"How much there is in the life of the reader who spreads before 
himself the records of history! 

"How alike are men; how old is the race; and how through long 
ages of struggle it is slowly lifting itself into a higher average of 
happinessthis is the study of middle age. The study of the young is 
the method of self-advancement The successful young man is almost 
more or less of an egotist. But as he grows old, if he has somewhat of 
wisdom, how little he grows in his own eyes, and how great in com- 

330 Portrait of an American: 

parison that vast current of humanity pouring down through the 
ages, its source lost in a dim past, its outlet beyond our sight or ken " 

He had always been deeply interested in history. It constituted 
much of his reading after he returned to Chicago. Now he set about 
rereading all the history he had read before his war service. 

"One never knows, who reads with an open mind, to what con- 
clusions history will lead him. They will differ somewhat according 
to his age in life, and his life's experience up to that time. This I 
know, that my present conclusions will be sounder dian any I could 
have formed before my war experience. . . . War, more or less, is a 
postgraduate course in human experience. 

"In an emergency, a great leader never thinks or acts as would 
the ordinary man This is one reason why historians so often fail 
entirely to comprehend the motives and acts of a leader iu an emer- 
gency As a rule, the historian's life is one of observation, investiga- 
tion, and literary production. His is not the ^battling* life. He has not 
experienced that of which he writes. His literary reactions, however 
brilliant, are based on the only interpretation of human nature possi- 
ble to him." 

Dawes told visitors he used his deafest ear to listen to people 
who proposed he write his memoirs, contribute magazine articles, 
and give newspaper interviews. 

"I have controlled that situation now except for recurring 
August twenty-sevenths. People come in here on my birthday and 
want statements from me on national and international problems. 
There was never a time one could discuss the world in just a few 
minutes. National and international problems today are more com- 
plex than in the days when I was trying to help solve them. 

"At other times I haye been asked to give advice to the new 
generation. Young men have no desire to receive advice from old 
men. I have no advice to the young, but Owen D. Young made a 
suggestion to old men which seems to me to have great merit He 

'More harm is done by old men who cling to their influence than 
by young men who anticipate it* " 

In his day he had been fiafche heat of many a battle. It may be 


that the differences between him and his opponents had not been as 
great as they had seemed. 

"John Garner once told me that when he came to Washington he 
thought Republicans were corrupt, but Culberson, the Texas Senator, 
told him somewhat facetiously: "No, John, they are as honest as we 
are. The difference is that we think die people can be trusted to run 
the government and they do not/ I never thought the Republican 
party was the only party fit to run the government, I merely believed 
that usually the country's best interests were served by the Republi- 
can party. 

"Both parties have the same basic political economic philoso- 
phy; if they had not, the shock of the change from one party to 
another would be too sharp for the country to endure. Our national 
elections are not a contest between systems, but between parties, 
and there can be profoundly important issues and differences be- 
tween parties/' 

Yet how much had the political scene changed since he came 
back to Chicago nineteen years before! 

The work he had done as Director of the Budget, which he con- 
sidered next to his war service his most important achievement, had 
been undone by President Franklin D. Roosevelt when he abolished 
the federal coordinating service. 

'This unfortunate action, taken at the inception of the most 
gigantic peacetime governmental spending operation in history, was 
one of the chief causes of the present condition of chaos in the busi- 
ness system of our government/* Dawes said in a speech "This action 
fulfilled the prediction I made in 1921 as the first Director of the 
Bureau of the Budget in my report to the President, which was trans- 
mitted to him by Congress: If in the future there should at any time 
come into office an executive indifferent to the operation of the 
government as a business machine, there would, under the immuta- 
ble laws of human nature, immediately spring up an effort on the 
part of the independent departments and establishments at first to 
curtail and restrict the activities of the coordinating agencies and 
then to wipe them out of existence/ * 

His peace efforts, too, had been undone they had not been able 
to stem the tide of Fascist and then Communist expansion by force 
of arms* The United States had become involved in another World 

Portrait of an American: 

War, vaster and more hideous than any war in history. Two of his 
closest friends in the peace negotiations Ramsay MacDonald and 
Aristide Briand had not lived to witness the new conflagration. But 
Pershing saw it all. 

In October, 1937, General and Mrs Dawes had gone with 
General Pershing to dedicate the war memorial at Chateau-Thierry, 
and to visit the old battlefields, including, Dawes recorded, "a place 
where with three companions I had once stood, serving quietly and 
unwittingly as a target for three pieces of heavy German artillery/' 

That year, too, West Point Military Academy had accepted his 
gift of the Pershing sword to be presented to the Captain of Cadets 
at each annual graduation ceremony. 

In February of 1938 the two old friends had again been to- 
gether at Tucson. Pershing became seriously ill. He was never to 
recover fully his health. In 1948, almost sixty years after the be- 
ginning of their close friendship, General Pershing died, Dawes had 
gone to Washington for the funeral, the last trip he ever took to 
the national capital. 

"My old friends who were coeval with me have been dropping 
off one by one and for years I have been the florist's best customer " 

He had corresponded with Pershing, both of them writing in 
longhand, from the time the General went to Walter Reed Hospital 
for his long last stay there. He continued to correspond with Cor- 
telyou until the death of this old fnend in 1940. In his last letter, 
Cortelyou had written that although he was supposed to be retired, 
"I find myself projected into situations where I have been kept 
busier than for years," and Dawes had replied: "You are wise; for 
one who has led the life of intense activities you have, idleness is 
unendurable and fatal. As the demands of business lessen upon me, 
I, like you, extend my associations along interesting lines, including 
prehistoric research." 

*1 have my own way of recognizing old age," Dawes said. "You 
are old when you believe people when they tell you how much 
younger you look than you actually are. Connie Mack came in here 
the other day and had lunch with me. He is still young enough to 
manage a major league baseball team, but he knows he is 87 and 
looks it." 

One of the old friends who was still alive was the Japanese 


diplomat Matsudaira Dawes had heard from him shortly after V-J 
Day. Hugh Gibson, in Tokyo at the end of the war, wrote to Dawes 
that Matsudaira's home had been destroyed by fire, and he had 
found Dawes' old friend living in reduced circumstances in a little 
house in the suburbs. "Madame Matsudaira offered me a cup of tea 
and apologized because she could offer me nothing to eat, for she 
had nothing in the house." A peace advocate, Matsudaira was 
broken-hearted at the war folly of his country. *1 recall those pleas- 
ant days we worked so closely together for the peace," Matsudaira 
wrote to Dawes. "I have been elected as the First President of the 
House of Councillors, which corresponds to your United States 

Matsudaira, too, died in 1949, but not before General Douglas 
MacArthur had paid him this tribute: "By his wisdom and patriotism 
he gave the Japanese people in time of greatest need resolute lead- 
ership in the building of a new Japan/' 

The death of his brother, Rufus, was the first break in the 
Dawes family of four brothers and two sisters. General Dawes had 
always taken great pride in the close relationship of the four brothers. 
These four remarkable men differed widely in temperament and 
personality. Their abilities, too, were widely divergent but comple- 
mentary. All their lives they formed a tightly knit unit, held to- 
gether by affection and family pride. 

Sometimes friends asked Dawes to give his appraisal of the fif- 
teen Presidents he had known. He would not rate them, but ascribed 
to four of them outstanding qualities: Cleveland courage; McKin- 
ley quiet effectiveness; Wilson intellect; and William Howard 
TafWregardless of how his administration is ranked, he had per- 
haps the best understanding of the constitutional functions of his 
office of any of the Chief Executives. His public life was a triumph 
of principle and usefulness/* Rutherford B, Hayes, the first President 
Dawes ever knew, once made a statement which Dawes thought the 
truest and most notable remark on politics he had ever heard: Tie 
who serves his country best, serves his party best." 

Of all Presidents he knew he believed McKinley gave more 
thought to the task at hand and less thought to his place in history 

any other. He believed that Franklin D. Roosevelt gave more 

334 Portrait of an American: 

thought to how generations yet unborn would regard him than 
did all other Presidents he had known combined. 

"The reputations of public men depend upon their contempo- 
rary environment But I don't want to go into these things now. 
I put them in my journal I discussed people as I saw them con- 
temporaneously My ideas, whatever they were, can be found not 
only in these notes I have made for nearly half a century, but in 
the speeches I made or articles I wrote The writing was all mine. 
I never had a ghost writer. I would have been ashamed to palm off 
the product of another man's mind as a creation of my own " 

"I consider the job I did in the war the biggest of my life. Next 
to that I would put my service as Budget Director. Both were jobs 
where you could get things done/' Dawes would say. And if he 
were asked for the prescription on how to get things done, he 
would tell an anecdote. 'When Napoleon sent his brother to Italy 
to command an army, he said to him: Hold no councils of War!*" 

Around the world, and especially among the European debtor 
nations, Dawes would be best remembered as the author of the 
Dawes Han And in America he lived on in the memory of men as 
Ambassador and Vice-President and as the man who had enriched 
the language by a picturesque expletive: Hell V Maria! This legend 
followed him through his entire life, and lingers on. 

"I have always been interested in how the public will pick 
up a single phrase out of a long speech and enlarge it beyond pro- 
portion/' he said. "I heard Bryan give his celebrated speech on the 
silver question, but his expression about the 'Cross of Gold' hardly 
received attention at the time When Theodore Roosevelt used the 
phrase about the Big Stick that became his tag, he used it merely 
as an old proverb to illustrate a point. 

*I was testifying before a Congressional committee and was at- 
tempting to impress upon them that we had been trying to win a 
war in Europe and without any thought of a 10 or 20 per cent dis- 
count in the money cost. The Army had improved my faculty of 
expression. But the 'Hell and Maria' phrase which leaped into the 
headlines was not something I learned in the Army. The public 
got an idea that I interlarded my conversation with explosive ex- 
pletives, the mildest and probably only printable one being Hell 


and Maria/ Now I don't think I am a profane man. I know that 
most of the time I am a mild 'by golly' sort of a man and not at all 
a 'Hell and Maria* fellow." 

This is not to say that Dawes had never been criticized for 
anything but his supposed profanity In fact, he had been criticized 
aplenty for any number of reasons. But this never troubled him. 

"I never saw a man suffer long from an unjust attack/' he once 
said. "I never feared attacks when I was in public life. I learned 
early in my office holding how an unjust attack can be turned to 

No, Dawes' biggest trouble in life had not come from his critics. 
He himself had been his own greatest troublemaker. But it had 
been worth the candle: 

"Most of my trouble has come from attempted kindness. But 
most of my happiness has come from the same endeavor/' 

One late afternoon General Dawes was sitting before a cheerful 
log fire in his library, talking to a visitor, a friend from Washington. 

The day had been a typically "idle" day in the Dawes tradition. 
He had spent the morning and the early afternoon at the bank, 
presiding over the meeting of the board of directors, dictating and 
signing letters, receiving visitors, and signing a good part of one 
thousand Christinas letters that were to go to customers of the bank 
After leaving his office at four o'clock, he had done some work on 
his two current fund-raising campaigns one of them for a boys" club 
sponsored by Herbert Hoover, the other for Marietta College. This 
was the kind of indolence Dawes enjoyed most 

"I have had eighteen unhurried and unhanded years since I 
came back here as a private citizen," he said, "Mrs. Dawes and I 
have both been blessed with good health and I have caught up on 
a lot of things I kept putting off because of other preoccupations. 
There is still a lot of reading I want to do and I expect I will put 
in the bulk of my remaining time in this room." 

Tihe visitor's eyes turned to the bookcases lining the walls of 
the library. Over there was the collection of Manasseh Cutler's 
papers running to some ten thousand pages, and next to it the largest 
collection in existence of records of the Old Northwest Territory, 
There were the rare books of the Dawes library which, together 

336 Portrait of an American: 

with the entire building, would some day go to Northwestern Uni- 
versity, In the corner stood a cane that George Washington, during 
his Presidency, had given to one Colonel Thomas Dawes, the smoke- 
filled-room-Dawes of John Adams' diary, there was silverware that 
had belonged to William, the rider of 1775, and his wife Mehitabel. 
A framed certificate on the wall, dated May 27, 1887, proclaimed 
that Charles Gates Dawes had authority to practice law in Ohio. 
About the room were bronze busts of Pershing, Foch, Joffre, Payot, 
Lloyd George, Clemenceau, Tardieu, Harbord, and Dawes; a 
breech-loading Spanish cannon Pershing had sent from the Philip- 
pines; pieces of Mayan pottery, presented by President Chiari of 
Panama; a Damascene cigarette case from Albert J. Beveridge, a 
silver cigar box from the 17th Engineers, and a tobacco pouch from 
Marshal Foch. 

As the visitor looked about he thought of what Booth Tarking- 
ton had said of Dawes: "A student of history, he laughs at tradition; 
a philosopher by inclination, he turns to material things; a musician 
by nature, he becomes a leading financier." 

He could have gone on to say: successful in all things, he was 
forever concerned about the downtrodden and the failures; he was 
familiar with panic, crisis, and catastrophe as few men were, but 
in his own words "incapable of remaining a pessimist overnight/' 
a man who never lost his easy laughter and his faith in mankind. 

Dawes in his library that night talked of his country's future. 
There were some things that troubled him. 

"A nation is like an individual," he said, "subject to the same 
laws and offered by the Creator the same inducements to sobriety 
and industry/' 

"It would do the country some good,** the visitor suggested, 
"to hear some of the things you said to me tonight.** 

"I have said quite enough in my time,** Dawes replied. "If I 
did break my vow never again to give my views publicly on events 
past or present, it would be in the shape of a five-word prayer for 
all of us: 

"God give us common senser 

In the evening of April 23, 1951, Dawes once again sat reading 
in his library. As a chairman of a civic committee, he had this day 


completed arrangements for the reception of General Douglas Mac- 
Arthur, just removed from his Far Eastern Command. The reception 
was to take place on the twenty-sixth. 

When the hour came for him to retire for the night, Caro Dawes 
entered the library. He raised his eyes and looked at the woman 
whom, in a tribute not meant for publication, he had called "my 
faithful helpmate for so many years/' He smiled to her, sank back 
into his chair, and closed his eyes. 

Death had tiptoed in where a strong man had trod. 


Adams, Charles F., 286 

Adams, John, quoted, 4 

Ade, George, 239 

Aldnch-Vreeland currency law, 142-143 

Alexander, Albert V., 282 

Alger, Russell A., 79 

Allen, W. V , 31 

Allison, William B , 40, 51, 66, 88 

Altgeld, John P , 38 

Ambassador to Great Britain, Dawes as, 


American Exchange National Bank, Lin- 
coln (Neb ), 27, 35-36 

Ames, Knowlton, 113 

Anarchist plot to assassinate President, 

Antitrust legislation, 82-83, 87, 123-131 

Armour, Ogden, 124-125, 128, 138, 139 

Arthur, Chester A , 10 

Atherton, Ray, 282 

Bailey, Joseph Weldon, 31 

Baker, George F., 117 

Baker, Newton D , 187, 259 

Baldwin, Stanley, 261, 262, 308 

Bank crisis, Chicago, 1905, 132-134, na- 
tional, 1907, 135-137; Chicago, 1932, 

Bank deposits, guarantee of, 32-33, 142- 
143, 319 

Banking interests, in Lincoln, 27, 32, 35- 
36, in Chicago, see Dawes Bank 

Beidler, Francis, 33, 37 

Belmont, August, 173 

Benton, Nebraska Auditor of State, 26 

Bevendge, Albert J., 68, 78, 82-85, 118 

Biddle, John, 176 

Bimetallism, 50, 67, see also Free-silver 


Blame, James G , 10, 12, 29-30 
Bland, Oscar E , 195 
Bland, Richard P (Silver Dick), 32, 51- 

52, 54-55, 58 
Blease, Cole, 269 
Bliss, Cornelius, 122 
Blymyer, Caro (Mrs Charles Gates 

Dawes), 16, 23-24 
Blymyer, W. H., 23, 33-34 
Blythe, Joseph William, 20 
Boardman, Mabel T , 199 
Boies, Horace, 55 
Boldt, George C, 82 
Book written by Dawes, 32 
Borah, William E , 254, 263, 272 
Bosworth, Henry, 39 
Bosworth family, 12 
Boyden, Roland, 218 
Bragg, Edward $., 5-7, n* 55 
Bread wagons, 1907-1911, 138-139, 155 
Bnand, Anstide, 288, 298, 300, 310-31:1, 


Brookins, Walter, 148 
Brown, E. E , 21, 35-36 
Brown, W C , 102, 104 
Biyan, William Jennings, 66, 76, 91, 113, 

142, 143, 164-165, 191, 228, 229, 247; 

early days in Lincoln, 21, 24-26, 31-32; 

first nomination for Presidency, 48, 51- 

55; in campaign of 1896, 56-63; Cross 

of Gold speech, 54 
Buckland, R. P., 13-14 
Budget, Bureau of, 2O2r-aio, 331 
Buffalo, Pan American Exposition at, 100 





Bull Moose movement, 150, 161-163 
Bunau-Vanlla, Phillipe, 112 
Burnham, S H., 21, 24, 27, 113 
Burrows, J C., 68, 90 
Busse, Fred, 106, 109, 138 
Butler, William M., 229, 233 

Cabinet, President's, Dawes* views on, 265 
Callioun,W J,6r 
Cameron, Don, 25-26, 249 
Campaigns, political. See Presidential 


Cannon, Joseph G , 143 
Canton, Ohio, in first McKinley campaign, 


Castle, William R , 306 

Cecil, Sir Robert, 312 

Central Republic Bank and Trust Com- 
pany, 306, 316-3*2, 3*4 

Central Trust Company of Illinois See 
Dawes Bank 

Century of Progress Exposition at Chicago, 
264, 275, 278-^79, *86, 305, 335-336 

Chamberlain, Neville, 308 

Chanties, 36, 41-42, 114, 155-161, 322- 


Chicago Grand Opera Company, 145-146 
Chicago World's Fair, z#$3, 33-34, *933, 

264, 275, 378-279, 86, 305, 35-336 
China, relations with, 81, 84, 89 
Chinese Exclusion Act, 11 
Churchill, Winston, 282, 299, 303-304 
Cincinnati Commercial, 3 
Cincinnati Commercial Gazette, 12 
Cincinnati Law School, 12-14 
City National Bank and Trust Co , 321- 

332, 325 

Civil War, Rufus R. Dawes in, 5-9 
Clarke, Philip R., 325 
Clarkson, James, 40-41, 48 
Clemenceau, Georges, 174-176, 220 
Cleveland, Grover, 30, 58, 105, 333 
Cleveland Leader, 64 
Coffroth, Bruce, 42 
Collins, Lottie, 28 
Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893, 

Comptroller of Currency, Dawes as, 65- 


ConkUng, Roscoe, 10 

Coofce, Jay, 9-10 

Coolidge, Calvin, 202, 225, 258, in cam- 
paign of 1924, 227-228, 231-239; as 
President, 241,, 35*, 363, 264-266 

Coontz, Admiral Robert E., 208 

Cortelyou, George B., 121, 132, 136-137, 
149-150, 332, m McKinley administra- 
tion, 73, 78, 94 

Cotton, Joseph P , 290 

Cowans, Sir John, 175, 177-178 

Cox, Jacob D , 13, 14, 22, 27, 67 

Crane, Murray, 51 

Cravath, Paul D., 177 

Crockett, John C,, 251, 272 

Cross of Gold speech of William Jennings 
Bryan, 54 

Cuba, relations with, 67, 74-75, 81 

Culberson, Charles A , 331 

Cullom, Shelby M,, 41, 45-46, 68, 102, 
106-107, 149 

Currency question See Free-silver issue, 
Monetary standards 

Currency reform, in, 132, 141-143 

Curtis, Charles, 69-70, 202, 246, 263 

Cutler, Manasseh, 4-5, 14 

Cutler, William P., 9 

Czolgosz, Leon, assassin of President Mc- 
Kmley, 101-102 

Daugherty, Harry M., 303 

Dawes, Beman (brother), 12, 92 

Dawes, Bessie (sister), 12 

Dawes, Carolyn (daughter), 24, 145 

Dawes, Charles Gates, ancestry of, 3-5, 
8; school years, 10-15, Lincoln years, 
*7~37, first McKinley campaign, 38- 
63, as Comptroller of Currency, 64- 
105; Senatorial campaign of, 93, 106- 
110; in World War I, 165-191, "Hell 
V Maria" speech, 193-198, as Budget 
Director, 202-109; on Experts Commit- 
tee for Reparations plan, 216-226; in 
campaign of 1924, 228-^39; as Vice- 
President, 241-256, 261-274? as Am- 
bassador to Great Britain, 274-313; as 
president RFC, 313-315, ** Chicago 
bank crisis, *93> 3*6-3*2, 3*4 

Dawes, Mrs, Charles Gates (Caro Blym- 
yer), 16, 23-^4 

Dawes, Dana (adopted son), 340 

Dawes, Henry (grandfather), 5 

Dawes, Mrs Henry (grandmother), 14 

Dawes, Henry (nephew), 279 

Dawes, Henry Laurens, 11 

Dawes, Henry M. (brother), 12, 92, 157, 
208, 252, 258 

Dawes, Mary (sister), 12 

Dawes, Mary Gates (mother), 8-9, 158, 


Dawes, Rufus Cutler (brother), 12, 92, 

208, 217, 275, 378, 333 
Dawes, Rufus Fearing (son), 24, 145, 

Dawes, Rufus R (father), 3, 11-12, 153; 

business investments of, 9-10, in Civil 

War, 5-9, in Congress, 10-11 
Dawes, Tom (Colonial politician), 4 
Dawes, Virginia (adopted daughter), 240 
Dawes, WiB, 91 
Dawes, William (first American ancestor), 

Dawes, William (revolutionary ancestor), 


Dawes, William Mears (great-grand- 
father), 5 

Dawes Bank, 110-111, 148, 306, 316-322, 

Dawes Plan for Germany, 215-225, 239- 


Dawson, Thomas, 256 
Day, William R, 73, 74 7%> 104, 132, 


Debs, Eugene, 191, 232 
Deere, C H , ill 
Deerrng, Charles, 111, 113 
Democratic national conventions. 1896, 

52-55, 1924, 232 
Deneen, Charles S , 122, 149 
Depew, Chauncey M , 89 
Depression, 285, 304-324; anticipation of, 

284-^286, European crisis, 305-309 
Dewey, Admiral George, 76, 83 
Diary, beginning of, 15, summary of 1906 

and 1907, 137-139 
Dmgley, Nelson, 66 
Disarmament Conference, 1932, 276-278, 

299-301, 31^-313 
Dolliver, Jonathan P., 88 
Dominican Republic, assistance of Dawes 

to, 274, 275 
Doubleday, Abner, 7-8 
Dunne, Edward, 150 
Dunne, Peter Finley, quoted, 98 
Drummond, Sir Eric, 311 

Earle, George H,, 71 
Earbng, A J, 208 
Eckles, James H , 66, 68 
Eisenhower, Dwight D , 260 
Elsworth family, 12 
Errol, Leon, 292^293 
European financial crisis, 193*, 305-309 
Expansionism following Spanish- American 
War, 8i-8a, 83-85, 87 

Faurbanks, Charles W, 104, 118, 121, 

136, 143, 163 
Fall, Albert B , 162 
Federal Reserve System, 142-143, 252- 

253, 307-308 
Felton, Samuel M , 208 
Ferns Wheel, 34 
Field, Marshall, 62, 133-134 
Five Power Naval Conference, England, 

1930, 282-283, 286-291 
Flower, Roswell P , 55 
Foch, Marshal, 174, 180, 220 
Foraker, Joseph B , 11, 118 
Forgan, James B , 133-134, 136, 148 
Forster, Rudolph, 268 
Frease, Harry, 15 
Free-silver issue, 10, 24, 31-32, in 1896 

campaign, 50, 54 
Freight-rate fight, Nebraska, 19-22; 26-27 

Gage, Lyman J , 66, 79, 107 

Garfield, James A., 10 

Garfield, James R , 124-125, 129 

Garner, John N , 251, 313, 315 

Gary, E H , 111 

Gas company interests, 33, 37, 41 

Gates, Beman, 8, 13, 15 

Gates, John W , 13, 112 

Gates, Mary Beman (Mrs Rufus R. 

Dawes), 7, 8-9 
General Purchasing Board of U S Army, 

World War I, 167-183 
George, Lloyd, 176-178, 288, 298 
Germany, Dawes Plan for, 215-225, 239- 

240, financial crisis, 1931, 305-307 
Gibson, Hugh, 282, 286, 312, 333 
Glass-Owen Federal Reserve Bank meas- 

ure, 142 

Gold standard See Free-silver issue; Mon- 
etary standards 

Gordon, John B., 97, 327 

Graham Committee, post-World War I, 

Great Britain, Dawes as Ambassador to, 
274-313, financial crisis, 1931, 306-^309 

Greeley, Horace, 17 

Grosscup, Peter S , 65, 125 

Guam, relations with, 81 

Gunsaulus, Rev Frank W*, 152 

Hale, Rev. Edward Everett, 92 

Haxnill, Ernest A,, 134 

Handy, Moses P , 50 

Hanna, Gus, 22, 77, 114 

Hanna, Mark A., in first McKlnley cam- 



paign, 39-41, 42-51, 57-63, in McKm- 
ley administration, 64, 66, 68, 79, 104, 
in campaign of 1900, 88-91, m Roose- 
velt administration, 112, 116-121 

Harbord, James G., 168, 180, 181-182, 
186, 256 

Harding, Warren G, 116, 193, 199-203 

Harriman, E H , 62 

Harrison, Benjamin, 40, 48, 56 

Harrison, Carter H., 121-122, 148 

Harvey, George, 193 

Hay, John, 78, 81, 84, 104 

Hayes, Rutherford B., 10, 13-14, 29, 333 

Hayes, Webb, 13, 104 

Heinz, F Augustus, 135 

"Hell 'n' Maria" speech, 193-198 

Henderson, Arthur, 308 

Hemdk, Myron, 50, 104 

Hibben, Dr John Gner, 295 

Hill, David B , 53 

Hill, James J,, 111, 117, 127 

Hitchcock, Ethan A,, 96 

Hoar, George Frisbie, 81 

Hoare, Sir Samuel, 308 

Hobart, Garrett A,, 51, 88 

Hobson, Richmond Pearson, 76 

Hoffman, Adolph G,, 147 

Hogg, James Stephen, 20, 26 

Holden, Ward A > 16 

Holdom, Jesse E , 213-214 

Holhs, Henry B., 187 

Homestead Act, 17 

Hoover, Herbert, 166, 186-188, 201-^203, 
229, 258-^61, as President, 274-275, 
77, ^89, 300, 303, 305-307, 312-313, 

Hopkins, Albert J*, 107-108, 115, 144 

Home, Sir Robert, 220 

Hotels for unemployed, 154^161 

Howard, Sir Esme, 242, 278 

Hughes, Charles Evans, 149, 161-163, 258; 
as Secretary of State, 202, 209, 216, 

Hull, John A., 186 

Humphrey, J. Otis, 129 

Illinois party politics, in i8g6, 40, 41, 43- 
47, 51, in 1900, 106-107, & 190*, 107- 
110; in iQoS, 144-145, 151 

Inauguration, Presidential, 1925, 41-446 

Ireland, Archbishop, 92 

"Iron Brigade" of Civil War, 6-7 

Japan, seizure of Manchuria by, 309-3x2 
Jetteris, A. W., 

bhnson, Byron Bancroft, 13 
bhnson, Hiram, 192, 254 
bhnson, Homer H , 187 
ones, Jesse H , 313-314, 317-320 
ones, Hilary P , 286 

Kahn, Otto, 145 

Kellogg Pact, 262-263, 274 

Kenyon, William S , 228 

Kmdersloy, Sir Robert M , 217 

Kirkman, M. M,, 113 

Knox, Philander C , 86, 201, 203 

Kohlsaat, H H , 42, 50, 115 

Kreisler, Fritz, 147, 296 

Krock, Arthur, quoted, 210 

Ku Klux Klan, 211, 214, 234-^235 

La Follette, Robert M , 140-141, 232, 239 
League of Nations, action on Manchurian 

crisis, 310-312 

Lease, Attorney General (Neb ), 18, 22 
Lee, Fitzhugh, 96 
Leonard, Arthur, 284, 325 
Lewis, James Hamilton, 150-151 
Lincoln (Neb ), 17-18 
Lincoln, Abraham, 6-7, 9 
Lincoln Board of Trade, fight against 

freight rates, 19-22, 26-27 
Lincoln Round Table, 21, 24-25, 31-32 
Lincoln Star, 36 
Lincoln State Journal, 23 
Liquidation Commission* post-World War 

I, 187-190 
Little, F. W., 21 
Lodge, Henry Cabot, 193, 227 
Long, John D,, 89 
Lorimer, William E , 41, 45, 51, 106-107, 

122, 144-145 
Lowden, Frank O., 77, no, 122, 191, 193, 

200, 227-^229, 258-260 
Lusitania, sinking of, 164 
Lydig, Phillip M., 145 

MacAxthur, General Arthur, 89 
MacArthur, General Douglas, 276, 333* 


McCarthy, Wilson, 319-320 
McClellan, George B., 6-7 
MoCormick, Chauncey, 175 
McCoraick, Harold, 146 
McCorxnick, Lawrence, 113 
McCormick, Medffl, 138 
MacCurdy, Dr. George Grant, 297-298 
MacDonald, J. Ramsay, 276, 279-283, 290, 

93, 298-^00, 308, 3x0, 

342 INDEX 

McDowell, Malcolm, 138, 139 

McFadden-Pepper ball, 251-^252 

Mack, Connie, 332 

McKenna, Joseph, 148-149 

Mackey, Clarence H , 145 

McKmley, Abner, 48, 66, 86, 102-104, 111 

McKinley, William, 333, nominated for 

Presidency, 39-41, 42-51, in campaign 

of 1896, 56-63, as President, 64-68, 72- 

101, in campaign of 1900, 86-91, as- 

sassination of, 101-105 
MacMillan, Francis, 146 
McNarry-Haugen bill, 251-252 
McNulta, John, 65 

Maine, battleship, explosion of, 73, 74 
Manchuria, Japanese seizure of, 309-312 
Manley, Joe, 40-41, 48 
Marietta (Ohio), 5, 15 
Marietta College, 12 
Marietta Iron Works, 9 
Marietta Register, 12 
Marquette, T M , 20, 22 
Marshall, Thomas R , 250 
Mary Dawes Hotel for Women, 158-161 
Mason, W, E , 44, 68, 85, 107-108 
Matsudaira, Tsuneo, 281, 287, 310, 333 
Mellon, Andrew, 203, 206, 208, 267, 305 
"Melody in. A Major," by Dawes, 145-147 
Memam, William R , 50 
Metcalf , V H , 125 
Milburn, John G, 101 
Military Board of Allied Supply, World 

War I, 174-183 
Mills family, 12 

Minute Men of Constitution, 211-215 
Mitchell, John T , 134 
Monetary standards, 67, 81, 87, see also 

Free-silver issue 
Moody, W. H , 125, 129 
More, Helen F., poem by, 249 
Morgan, J. Pierpont, 93, 112, 117, 127, 

Morrow, Dwight, 177, 218, 286, 288, 303, 


Morton, Levi P , 40, 49, 51 
Musical interest, 16, 145-147, 328 

Naval expansion, 87, 96 

Nebraska freight-rate fight, 19-22, 26-07 

Nixon, William Perm, 42 

Northern Securities case, 127, 130-131 

Northwest Ordinance, 4 

O'Connor, T. P , 21 
Osier, Dr. William, 119 

Packers, antitrust action against, 124-130 

Page, Walter Hines, 167 

Pam, Max, 114 

Panama Canal, 87, 112 

Panic, of 1873, 9-10, of 1893, 35-36, of 

1907, 135; see also Depression 
Parker, Edwin B , 187, 194 
Parmentier, Jean, 217, 224 
Patten, James A , 139 
Payne, H C , 50, 90, 112-113 
Payot, General, 188-189, 220 
Penrose, Boies, 70, 201, 203 
Perkins, George W , 78, 85, 92-93, no 
Perry, I N , no 
Pershmg, John J , 82, 113, 192-193, 203, 

248-249, 323-324, 332, as Commander 

in Chief of A E.F., 165-187, Nebraska 

years, 22, 23, 25, 28 
Petrillo, James C , 214 
Philadelphia Record, 71 
Philippines, relations with, 76, 81-82, 84, 

Pilgrims, Society of, Dawes' address to, 

277-278, 281 
Platt, Thomas C , 40-41. 43> 47, 48-49* 

51, 71, 8S-91 

Plumer, Field Marshal, 295 
Political conventions. See Conventions, 

national political 
Pomerene, Atlee, 14, 15-16 
Populist Party, 30-31, 56 
Pound, Roscoe, 24 
Pound, S. B., 24 
Pratt, W V,*86 
Presidential campaign, 1896, 38-63, 1900, 

88-91; 1904, 122; 1908, 143; 2912, 149- 

150; 19*6, 161-163; ig4 9 230-239; 

1928, 258-261 

Prince of Wales, 261-262, 297 
Puerto Rico, relations with, 81, 85, 87, 97- 


Quay, Matt, 40-41, 43, 48, 51, 88-91 

Railroad-freight-rate fight, Nebraska, 19- 

22, 26-27 

Railroad passes, era of, 26 
Raymond, I. M., 21 
Reconstruction Finance Corporation, 313- 

Heed, David A,, 286 

Reed, James A., 254, 255 

Reed, Thomas Brackett, 12, 40, 51, 81 

Reed, Walter, 87 



Reparations Commission Experts Commit- 
tee, 215-225 

Republican national conventions 1892, 
40, 1896, 48-51, 1904, 1*1, 1912, 149- 
150* 1916, 161-163, 192* 191-193, 
1924, 227-329 

Revell, Alexander H , 114 

Revere, Paul, 4 

Rhodes Coal Mine strikes, Stark County, 
Ohio, 40 

Rickey, Joe, 52 

Ridgely, William B., 133, 136-137 

Riley, Bill, 14 

Rixey, Dr. P M , 103-104 

Robinson, Joseph T., 246, 254 263, 271- 
27*. 286 

Rogers, Will, quoted, 294 

Roosevelt, Franklin D., 210, 302-304, 331, 


Roosevelt, Theodore, 74, 76, 78, 88-91, 
99-102, 165, antitrust activities, 124- 
131; and Bull Moose, 150, 161-163, 
as President, 104-105, 114-118, 121 

Root, Elihu, 79, 162 

Round Table, Lincoln (Neb ), 21, 24-25, 

Rufus F. Dawes Hotel for Men, 155-161 

Samuel, Sir Herbert, 308 
Sanders, Everett, 234, 238 
Schacht, Dr Hjalmar, 222 
Schwab, Charles M , no, 194, 220 
Senatorial campaign of Dawes, 93, 106- 


Sewell, Arthur, 56 
Sewell, John S,, 166, 208 
Shaffer, J> C, 145-146 
Shedd family, 12 

Sherman, John, 10-11, 14, 66, 73 
Shearman, Lawrence Y., 107-110, 122, 

14^-151, 161-162, 208 
Sherman, William Tacumseh, 11 
Sherman Antitrust Act, 82, 123-124 
Sherman Silver Purchase Act, 32 
Silver currency, See Free-silver issue 
Simon, Sir John, 310, 312 
Sims, William S., 171 
Singerly, William H,, 70 
Small, Len, 211 
Smith, Byron, 134 
Smith, Orson, 134 
Saowden, Philip, 308 
Sound money, see Free-silver issue 
Spanish-American War, 67, 73-77 
Stamp, Sir Josiah, 216, 223-224 

Stearns, Frank W , 266 

Stettunus, Edward R , 186 

Stevenson, Adlai, 38-39, 67, 91 

Stewart, Graeme, 121, 133 

Stamson, Henry L, 274-277, 286-291, 

300, 307 

Stone, Melville, 50 

Stotesbury, Edward Townsend, 70-71 
Sullivan, Dems E., 213-214 
Suskmd, Milton, 147 
Swanson, Claude A , 263, 313 
Swift, George B , 46-47 

Taft, William Howard, 13, 99, 143, 150, 

202, 242, 247, 266, 333 
Talbert, Joseph, 193 
Talbot, Adolph R , 21, 25 
Tanner, John R., 106-107 
Tarkmgton, Booth, quoted, 336 
Teller, Henry M , 50-51 
Thomas, J H , 308 
Thompson, D, E , 21 
Thompson, Robert J , 92 
Thompson, William Hale (Big Bill), 211, 


Thurston, John M , 20, 31 
Tillman, Ben, 53 
Townsend, Mrs, Lawrence, 79 
Transportation rates in Nebraska, fight 

over, 19-22, 26-27 
Traylor, Melvm A., 317-318 

Utt, John, 20 

Valentine, P. A., 128 

Vandenberg, Arthur, 263, 269 

Van Swenngen, Orris P* and Mantis J., 


Vare, William S,, 255 

Vasquez, President of Dominican Repub- 
lic, 274 

Vest, George G,, 54^55 

Vice-Presidency, Dawes in, 241-256, 261- 

Vilas, William F., 53 

Wadsworth, James W , 162, 254 

Wallace, Lew, 15 

Walsh, John R., 35 38-39* i3*-*34 

Walsh, Thomas J , 246,^^263 

Walton, L, A., 39 

Warner, Adoniram Judson (Silver Bill), 

10, 11, 31 

Warren, Charles Beecher, 246 
Watson, Tom, 56 


Watterson, Henry, 52 

Weeks, John W , 162 

Wellman, Walter, 92 

Wheeler, Joseph E , 96 

White, Edward D , 148-149 

Wilson, James, 76-77, 79 

Wilson, Woodrow, 93~94 150, 163, 

165, 245, 259, 333 
Wing, Dan, 22, 71-72 
Wirmmgton-Ingram, Arthur Foley, 

Bishop of London, 296 


Wisconsin Regiment in Civil War, 5-9 
Wolcott, Edward O , 67, 78 
Wood, Leonard, 192-193 
Woods, Mark W , 192, 228-229 
World War I, 164-183, postwar liquida- 
tion program, 184-191, Congressional 
164- investigation, 193-198 

Yates, Richard, 106, 107, 122 
Lord Young, Owen D,, 216-226, 257, 327-328,