Tuesday, April 24, 2018

the last book I ever read (Benjamin Harrison: The American Presidents Series by Charles W. Calhoun, excerpt nine)

from Benjamin Harrison: The American Presidents Series by Charles W. Calhoun:

The Detroit meeting and Blaine’s New York trip, both splashed in the newspapers, convinced Harrison that it was time to remove the gloves. To take charge of his campaign, he called in Louis Michener, telling his old manager, “No Harrison has ever retreated in the presence of a foe without giving battle.” With barely two weeks before the Republicans were to convene in Minneapolis, Michener zealously set to work. “The President,” Halford wrote, “seems to be pleased with the fact that his friends are cutting loose.” Michener arranged pro-Harrison statements by leading party figures and convinced many to go to Minneapolis to lobby delegates directly. To raise a fund for convention expenses for his team of workers, he dunned cabinet members for five hundred dollars each, although one, not surprisingly, did not contribute. Michener and his allies arrived in Minneapolis and opened the Harrison headquarters on June 1, a full week before the convention started. As each state delegation arrived in town, one of Michener’s aides became its constant companion and watchdog.

While the contest heated up in Minneapolis, Blaine sent his resignation to Harrison on June 4, and the president accepted it immediately. The previous July, members of the national committee had told a Blaine representative that if the secretary desired the presidential nomination, he would have to resign or brand himself as a dishonorable man. Now, after vacillating for nearly a year, he took the fateful step. Many believed that the ailing secretary had finally given in to the importunities of men such as Platt and Quay as well as those of his wife, whose hatred for the president had become well known. “Well, the crisis has come,” Harrison told Halford. Mame Dimmick, who was at the White House, recorded in her diary that Blaine had “proved himself a traitor to the President.” At Harrison’s behest, Halford wired Michener and others in Minneapolis urging “care and caution.”

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