Ohio History Journal

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Organizing a National Convention:

Organizing a National Convention:

A Lesson from Senator Dick

Edited by THOMAS E. FELT*



FROM THE CIVIL WAR to the present, the engineers and operators

of Ohio's major party machinery have been obliged by circum-

stances to learn their trade thoroughly. The state's strategic geo-

graphic position, its coveted electoral votes, and its diverse economic

interests have made it not only a home of presidents and would-be

presidents but a school for party managers as well. In this hotly

contested two-party state, the school has never been an easy one.

Occasionally, however, an experienced coach has appeared on the

scene with an offer of assistance, and on one occasion at least, the

coach set his lessons down in writing.

The occasion was the struggle between Theodore Roosevelt and

William Howard Taft for the Republican presidential nomination

in 1912. The coach was former Senator Charles W. F. Dick of Ohio.

Dick had studied in the school of Mark Hanna, and on Hanna's

death in 1904 had been elected to succeed him in the senate. His

training had begun in the politics of his native Akron. At the age

of twenty-nine he began the first of two terms as chairman of the

Republican state central committee (1887-91), followed by a year

as head of the state executive committee and later a period as a

secretary to the Republican national committee. After the brief

interruption of the Spanish-American War, in which he served as a

lieutenant colonel, Dick went to congress for three terms and was

again chosen to head the state executive committee before entering

the senate. A Democratic legislature had retired him from that

office in 1911, and his chances for a comeback the following year

depended largely upon the success of the Taft faction of his party

in the state and at the national convention.

*Thomas E. Felt is field representative for the Illinois State Historical Society.