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Philip Dru: Administrator

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<SPAN name="XXXVI"></SPAN> <h1 align="center" style="margin-top: 2em;font-variant: small-caps">Chapter XXXVI</h1> <h2 align="center" style="margin-top: 2em;font-variant: small-caps">Selwyn&#8217;s Story, Continued</h2> <p>Flushed though I was with victory, and with the flattery of friends, time servers and sycophants in my ears, I felt a deep sympathy for the boss. He was as a sinking ship and as such deserted. Yesterday a thing for envy, to-day an object of pity.</p> <p>I wondered how long it would be before I, too, would be stranded.</p> <p>The interests, were, of course, among the first to congratulate me and to assure me of their support. During that session of the legislature, I did not change the character of the legislation, or do anything very different from the usual. I wanted to feel my seat more firmly under me before attempting the many things I had in mind.</p> <p>I took over into my camp all those that I could reasonably trust, and strengthened my forces everywhere as expeditiously as possible. I weeded out the incompetents, of whom there were many, and replaced them by big-hearted, loyal and energetic men, who had easy consciences when it came to dealing with the public affairs of either municipalities, counties or the State.</p> <p>Of necessity, I had to use some who were vicious and dishonest, and who would betray me in a moment if their interests led that way. But of these there were few in my personal organization, though from experience, I knew their kind permeated the municipal machines to a large degree.</p> <p>The lessons learned from Hardy were of value to me now. I was liberal to my following at the expense of myself, and I played the game fair as they knew it.</p> <p>I declined re-election to the next legislature, because the office was not commensurate with the dignity of the position I held as party leader, and again, because the holding of state office was now a perilous undertaking.</p> <p>In taking over the machine from the late boss, and in molding it into an almost personal following I found it not only loosely put together, but inefficient for my more ambitious purposes.</p> <p>After giving it four or five years of close attention, I was satisfied with it, and I had no fear of dislodgment.</p> <p>I had found that the interests were not paying anything like a commensurate amount for the special privileges they were getting, and I more than doubled the revenue obtained by the deposed boss.</p> <p>This, of course, delighted my henchmen, and bound them more closely to me.</p> <p>I also demanded and received information in advance of any extensions of railroads, standard or interurban, of contemplated improvements of whatsoever character, and I doled out this information to those of my followers in whose jurisdiction lay such territory.</p> <p>My own fortune I augmented by advance information regarding the appreciation of stocks. If an amalgamation of two important institutions was to occur, or if they were to be put upon a dividend basis, or if the dividend rate was to be increased, I was told, not only in advance of the public, but in advance of the stockholders themselves.</p> <p>All such information I held in confidence even from my own followers, for it was given me with such understanding.</p> <p>My next move was to get into national politics. I became something of a factor at the national convention, by swinging Pennsylvania&#8217;s vote at a critical time; the result being the nomination of the now President, consequently my relations with him were most cordial.</p> <p>The term of the senior Senator from our State was about to expire, and, although he was well advanced in years, he desired re-election.</p> <p>I decided to take his seat for myself, so I asked the President to offer him an ambassadorship. He did not wish to make the change, but when he understood that it was that or nothing, he gracefully acquiesced in order that he might be saved the humiliation of defeat.</p> <p>When he resigned, the Governor offered me the appointment for the unexpired term. It had only three months to run before the legislature met to elect his successor.</p> <p>I told him that I could not accept until I had conferred with my friends. I had no intention of refusing, but I wanted to seem to defer to the judgment of my lieutenants.</p> <p>I called them to the capital singly, and explained that I could be of vastly more service to the organization were I at Washington, and I arranged with them to convert the rank and file to this view.</p> <p>Each felt that the weight of my decision rested upon himself, and their vanity was greatly pleased. I was begged not to renounce the leadership, and after persuasion, this I promised not to do.</p> <p>As a matter of fact, it was never my intention to release my hold upon the State, thus placing myself in another&#8217;s power.</p> <p>So I accepted the tender of the Senatorship, and soon after, when the legislature met, I was elected for the full term.</p> <p>I was in as close touch with my State at Washington as I was before, for I spent a large part of my time there.</p> <p>I was not in Washington long before I found that the Government was run by a few men; that outside of this little circle no one was of much importance.</p> <p>It was my intention to break into it if possible, and my ambition now leaped so far as to want, not only to be of it, but later, to be <i>it</i>.</p> <p>I began my crusade by getting upon confidential terms with the President.</p> <p>One night, when we were alone in his private study, I told him of the manner and completeness of my organization in Pennsylvania. I could see he was deeply impressed. He had been elected by an uncomfortably small vote, and he was, I knew, looking for someone to manage the next campaign, provided he again received the nomination.</p> <p>The man who had done this work in the last election was broken in health, and had gone to Europe for an indefinite stay.</p> <p>The President questioned me closely, and ended by asking me to undertake the direction of his campaign for re-nomination, and later to manage the campaign for his election in the event he was again the party&#8217;s candidate.</p> <p>I was flattered by the proffer, and told him so, but I was guarded in its acceptance. I wanted him to see more of me, hear more of my methods and to become, as it were, the suppliant.</p> <p>This condition was soon brought about, and I entered into my new relations with him under the most favorable circumstances.</p> <p>If I had readily acquiesced he would have assumed the air of favoring me, as it was, the rule was reversed.</p> <p>He was overwhelmingly nominated and re-elected, and for the result he generously gave me full credit.</p> <p>I was now well within the charmed circle, and within easy reach of my further desire to have no rivals. This came about naturally and without friction.</p> <p>The interests, of course, were soon groveling at my feet, and, heavy as my demands were, I sometimes wondered like Clive at my own moderation.</p> <p>The rest of my story is known to you. I had tightened a nearly invisible coil around the people, which held them fast, while the interests despoiled them. We overdid it, and you came with the conscience of the great majority of the American people back of you, and swung the Nation again into the moorings intended by the Fathers of the Republic.</p> <p>When Selwyn had finished, the fire had burned low, and it was only now and then that his face was lighted by the flickering flames revealing a sadness that few had ever seen there before.</p> <p>Perhaps he saw in the dying embers something typical of his life as it now was. Perhaps he longed to recall his youth and with it the strength, the nervous force and the tireless thought that he had used to make himself what he was.</p> <p>When life is so nearly spilled as his, things are measured differently, and what looms large in the beginning becomes but the merest shadow when the race has been run.</p> <p>As he contemplated the silent figure, Philip Dru felt something of regret himself, for he now knew the groundwork of the man, and he was sure that under other conditions, a career could have been wrought more splendid than that of any of his fellows.</p>
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