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Marcus A. Hanna
Mark Hanna

United States Senator
from Ohio
In office
March 4, 1897 – February 15, 1904
Preceded by John Sherman
Succeeded by Charles W. F. Dick

14th Chair of the Republican National Committee
In office
Preceded by Thomas H. Carter
Succeeded by Henry Clay Payne

Born September 24, 1837(1837-09-24)
Lisbon (formerly New Lisbon), Ohio
Died February 15, 1904 (aged 66)
Washington, D.C.
Political party Republican
Military service
Service/branch Union Army
Unit Quartermaster Corps
Battles/wars American Civil War

Marcus Alonzo Hanna (September 24, 1837 – February 15, 1904), best known as Mark Hanna, was an American industrialist and Republican politician from Cleveland, Ohio. He rose to fame as the campaign manager of the successful Republican Presidential candidate, William McKinley, in the U.S. Presidential election of 1896 in a well-funded political campaign and subsequently became one of the most powerful members of the U.S. Senate.

Early life[]

In 1844, Hanna's family moved to Cleveland, Ohio. He attended the Cleveland Central High School, where he befriended the young John D. Rockefeller,[1] and subsequently enrolled in Western Reserve College and Preparatory School, though he did not complete his studies.[2] After working for his father's grocery business, the young Hanna became involved in numerous unsuccessful business ventures. He served as a quartermaster in the United States Army during the Civil War and was always close to veterans' organizations. (It is not true that he was awarded the Medal of Honor -- that was an unrelated Marcus Hanna.) After 1867, he became rich as a shipper and broker serving the coal and iron industries. Cleveland was emerging as a major transshipping point between the Great Lakes ore deposits and the mills of eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, and Hanna loved making deals and bargains on a daily basis over a wide range of products and services. He was one of the few industrialists fascinated less by profits than by the outdoor spectacle and indoor bargaining of politics.[3][4]

Hanna was a longtime member of St. John's Episcopal Church in Cleveland, Ohio.

Manager of campaigns[]

Hanna made a transition into politics during the 1880s, and in 1888, he managed Ohio Senator John Sherman's unsuccessful effort to gain the Republican presidential nomination. Rep. William McKinley had tried unsuccessfully to win the position of Speaker of the House in 1891, losing to Rep. Thomas B. Reed of Maine, who was backed by Theodore Roosevelt. McKinley then turned his attentions to running for governor of Ohio. Hanna helped McKinley win the 1891 and 1893 elections for governor and became his chief advisor.

McKinley's strongest competitor for the Republican nomination in 1896 was Speaker Reed. After Hanna attended a speech Reed gave in Washington, he realized that Reed lacked the presidential appearance or stature McKinley possessed. After McKinley won the 1896 Republican nomination for president, Hanna, as chairman of the Republican National Committee, raised an unprecedented $3.5 million for McKinley's campaign, in which he ran on the gold standard, high tariffs, pluralism, and renewed prosperity. Most of the money came from corporations who feared that William Jennings Bryan's Free Silver policy would limit their economic power. By October the Democrats realized they were losing the battle for campaign funding and targeted Hanna as the arch-villain who threatened to put corporate interests ahead of the national interest.[5] As McKinley was highly likeable, Hanna became a target of Bryan's supporters, especially William Randolph Hearst and his New York Journal.

Hanna's campaign employed 1400 people, who concentrated a flood of pamphlets, leaflets, posters, and stump speakers. McKinley defeated Bryan by an electoral vote of 271 to 176. At the time, it was the most expensive campaign ever in U.S. politics, with the McKinley campaign outspending Bryan's by nearly 12 to 1. Today it is considered the forerunner of the modern political campaign for its adroit use of publicity, its overall national plan, its strategic use of issues, and especially the candidate's own speech making.

Election to U.S. Senate[]

File:Mark Hanna 1896 election.jpg

1896 Davenport cartoon of Mark Hanna as slave driver, from William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal

Once elected, McKinley appointed Senator John Sherman to his Cabinet as Secretary of State, and Hanna was elected by the Ohio legislature in March 1897 to fill the remainder of that term. The aging Sherman's lack of diplomatic experience caused many opponents of the administration to accuse McKinley of forcing Sherman out of his Senate seat to placate Hanna, indicating the executive's subservience to the whims of finance. In fact, McKinley had offered the position to Iowa senator William Allison, who turned him down, and selected Sherman to add prestige to an otherwise undistinguished cabinet. The incoming president had initially offered Hanna the office of postmaster general, an honorific position usually awarded to party leaders.

Hanna aligned himself with the most conservative senators in the Republican Party and rarely spoke on the record in Congress. The high rates of the 1897 Dingley Tariff coupled with Hanna's divisive public persona engendered a strong anti-Hanna coalition to rise in Ohio during the 1897 elections. A brutal campaign that many saw as a validation of McKinley's first six months in office left Hanna victorious, but the wide Republican majorities of the 1896 election had dissipated.

Hanna deplored the rising clamor for a war with Spain in 1898, believing the conflict would hinder economic recovery. In constant consultation with McKinley, Hanna labored to rally support for the administration's diplomatic negotiations with Spain in the Senate. Fearing the Democrats would exploit a lack of action in the November midterm elections, Hanna joined McKinley and most of his conservative supporters in the Republican Party in assenting to war.

As the economy recovered and international triumphs against Spain bolstered McKinley's popularity, the 1900 rematch was an easy victory for Hanna. Taking his place in the Senate, he came out from McKinley's shadow and played an influential role in terms of selecting the Panama route for a canal. Hanna worked as a conciliator with the National Civic Federation in labor conflicts. He succeeded in attracting some labor unions into the Republican fold and avoiding some major strikes.

Hanna and Roosevelt[]

Hanna and Theodore Roosevelt had been allies when they met in 1884, but they became rivals, initially due to their disagreement about the Spanish-American War. Roosevelt strongly favored war with Spain; Hanna resisted war until public opinion demanded it. In 1900, New York politicians wanted Governor Roosevelt to become vice president. He reportedly told some who spoke out in favor of Roosevelt becoming vice-president "Don't any of you realize there's only one life between that madman and the presidency?". Hanna, however, lacked the political power to stop it. Once one of the leading powers in the conservative faction of the Republican party, Hanna lost influence when McKinley was assassinated and replaced by Roosevelt. Upon hearing the news, Hanna reputedly remarked that "Now that damn cowboy is president." Hanna and Roosevelt worked together (particularly on the Panama Canal), and although they remained personally cordial, they considered each other political rivals.

Death and legacy[]

Hanna was expected to run against Roosevelt for the Republican nomination for president in the 1904 election. The rivalry was cut short by Hanna's death of typhoid fever, at the peak of his power, in February of that year. Hanna is buried in Cleveland's Lakeview Cemetery.

Famed for the quote; "There are two things that are important in politics. The first is money and I can't remember what the second one is".

The Hanna Building on the corner of Euclid Avenue and East 14th Street in Cleveland bears his name.

The small community of Hanna, South Dakota bears his name.

His portrait was painted by the Swedish artist Anders Zorn, and in 1902/3 by the Swiss-born American artist Adolfo Müller-Ury (1862–1947); the latter now belongs to the Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland Ohio.

Hanna was the father of Ruth Hanna McCormick, who married a U.S. Representative and Senator, and herself served in the United States House of Representatives.

Karl Rove's relationship with George W. Bush is often compared with Hanna's relationship with McKinley, and frequently it is reported that Rove is an admirer and student of Hanna's career.[6] Rove has, however, denied this in interviews.[7]

Further reading[]

  • Thomas Beer. Hanna (New York, 1929), biography
  • Herbert Croly Marcus Alonzo Hanna: His Life and Work (New York, 1912), biography
  • Horner, William T. Ohio's Kingmaker: Mark Hanna, Man and Myth (Ohio University Press; 2010) 360 pages; first scholarly biography
  • James Ford Rhodes. The McKinley and Roosevelt Administrations, 1897-1909 (1922), Rhodes was Hanna's brother-in-law


  1. Richard F. Hamilton (2006). President Mckinley, War And Empire. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publ.. pp. 54. ISBN 0765803291. 
  2. "Marcus Alonzo Hanna". Ohio History Central. 
  3. McKinley and Hanna
  4. The American Experience: Mark Hanna
  5. "A wealthy industrialist, Hanna [...] believed that government existed primarily to help business. He once told the Ohio attorney general, who sued to dissolve Standard Oil, to drop the suit. 'Come on,' Hanna pronounced, 'you've been in politics long enough to know that no man in public life owes the public anything." Linking Rings: William W. Durbin and the Magic and Mystery of America, James D. Robenalt, Kent State University Press, Ohio, pp. 11-12
  6. for example, "Billionaires for Bush". The Nation. July 21, 2003. Retrieved 2008-02-26. "It's not for nothing that Karl Rove describes Mark Hanna as his political hero.". 
  7. "I'm not at all like Hanna. Never wanted to be." as quoted in Suskind, Ron (January 2003). "Why Are These Men Laughing?". Esquire. Retrieved 2008-02-26. 

Template:Start box |- ! colspan="3" style="background: #cccccc" | United States Senate Template:U.S. Senator box Template:S-ppo |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
Thomas H. Carter |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Chairman of the Republican National Committee
1896 – 1904 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Henry Clay Payne |- |}

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