Encyclopedia Britannica offers an entry on Mark Hanna, for those
persons who are connected to that service (or see the Wikipedia
Professor Richard Jensen, a noted scholar of the history of American
politics of this time period, also provides this brief summary of Hanna's
Marcus Alonzo Hanna (1837-1904)
Mark Hanna was a central figure in the politics of the 1890s and early
1900s. Cleveland was emerging as a major transhipping point between the
Great Lakes ore deposits and the mills of Ohio, and he became rich as
a shipper and broker serving the coal and iron industries. One of the
industrialists fascinated less by profits than by the outdoor spectacle
and indoor bargaining of politics, he increasingly abandoned management.
He was a key advisor to William McKinley, whose hard-fought races for
governor in 1891 and 1893 established him as the outstanding Republican
spokesman for high tariffs, high wages, and renewed prosperity in the
face of a deep depression. Hanna helped secure the nomination in 1896,
but had to overcome widespread enthusiasm for William Jennings Bryan's
free silver crusade. Hanna nationalized the G.O.P. campaign. He raised
$3.5 million, mostly from corporations fearful of the economic disaster.
Hanna's educational campaign reached millions of voters with a consistent,
insistent message in favor of sound money, prosperity, and cultural pluralism.
Soon the Democrats targeted Hanna as an arch-villain who threatened to
put corporate interests ahead of the national interest. Taking his place
in the Senate, he emerged as a party leader in his own right. Hanna worked
with the Civic Federation as a conciliator regarding labor strife. He
sought to bring unions into the Republican fold and head off major strikes
that would be not only economically damaging but politically and socially
divisive. Hanna's death at the peak of his power in 1904 cut short a contest
with Theodore Roosevelt that might well have forecast the Taft-Roosevelt
battle of 1912.