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Newspaper goes in-depth on VP nominee

Editor’s note: This is part of a weekly series marking the 120th anniversary of Niles native William McKinley’s U.S. presidency.

In late 1899, the subject of vice president was of interest to everyone in the nation.

Garret Hobart being recently deceased meant there was a vacancy for the upcoming election in 1900. The eventual nominee, Theodore Roosevelt, wasn’t the first choice. The Dec. 13, 1899, New York Times wrote about this at length describing Elihu Root, the Secretary of War, as a proposed nominee.

“It may be stated almost without qualification that the Republican national ticket next year will be McKinley and Root. That the President will be renominated there has been no doubt for a long time. As to the nominee for vice president the sentiment in favor of Elihu Root, the Secretary of War, which became apparent several months ago, has assumed proportions which, in the opinion of men who are masters in the art of politics, practically ensures his being given second place on the ticket.

“That Mr. Root is willing to go on the ticket with Mr. McKinley there is not the slightest doubt. It may be said even that the Secretary is ambitious to procure the vice presidential nomination; in fact, it is known that he has aspirations of that character. He is perhaps better equipped for the place than almost any other New York man who has been mentioned in this connection. It is believed that he would be acceptable to Senator Platt, who, by the way, was largely instrumental in having him appointed Secretary Alger’s successor in the Cabinet.

“When Mr. Platt was asked tonight whom he favored for the Vice Presidential nomination he said: ‘Any good New York man would suit me.’

” ‘How about Mr. Root?’ “

‘Mr. Root would be satisfactory,’ was Mr. Platt’s reply. ‘McKinley will be nominated by acclamation.’

“As to the matter of nominating the entire ticket by acclamation, there is reason to believe that the next Republican National Convention will establish such a precedent. Senator Hanna has conceived the idea, and it is remarkable how favorably it is being received. The Senator has confided his proposition to a few friends, and they are enthusiastic over it. Mr. Hanna believes that inasmuch as McKinley will be renominated in that manner, his running mate should be accorded the same distinction.”

‘It seems to me,’ he said ‘that a contest in the convention for the Vice Presidency should be avoided for the reason chiefly that President McKinley will be named for first place without opposition. The nomination for second place under the circumstance should be made, in my opinion, with the same absence of friction and contest. If we could go before the country with a ticket chosen in such a way the effect upon the party throughout the United States and upon the people of all parties would be most marked. The action of the convention would be received with eclat, and the Republicans would start in at the very beginning perfectly harmonious and with a solid impregnable front. It would be a sure augury of the victory that will follow in November.’

“Vice chairman Payne agrees heartily with Mr. Hanna’s plan. The more he considers it the more pleased he becomes with it. He said tonight that he would be happy to see the convention adopt it, and that he believed it would do so.

“In all probability the Republican Convention will be held the second week of June.”

Farris is director of the National McKinley Birthplace Museum in Niles.

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