Ohio History Journal

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13





Lawyer as Lobbyist:

Harry M. Daugherty and the

Charles W. Morse Case,






Of all President Warren G. Harding's 1920 Cabinet selections, none received more

opposition than the Attorney General appointment of Harry M. Daugherty-a fel-

low Ohioan who had directed the presidential nomination campaign. Both the

press and various public officials considered Daugherty a freewheeling lobbyist with

a rather unsavory past. To buttress their assessment they uncovered the in-

discretions that had sometimes characterized his early career.' The most discussed

incident was Daugherty's 1911-12 involvement in the Charles W. Morse case, which

reemerged to embarrass him further as Attorney General in 1922. No matter how

one might evaluate Daugherty's role in that case, it provides some of the best in-

sights into the nature of Daugherty's character and his utilization of political in-

fluence to enhance his law practice.

By early 1911 Daugherty's political career had already undergone several set-

backs, and in January of that year a Democratic Ohio General Assembly rejected

him in favor of Democrat Atlee Pomerene for United States Senator. That

Daugherty received the most Republican votes in the legislature made the defeat no

easier to accept.2 The one consoling factor was his continual friendship with Presi-

dent William Howard Taft whom he had helped to nominate in 1908. It was felt,

however, that Daugherty most likely could still command support of the Taft organ-

ization in Ohio for a future senatorial bid. Until such time, he focused his attention

upon a law practice that represented some of the leading corporations in the United

States, including the American Tobacco Company, Armour and Company, and the

Western Union Company. Indeed, as senior partner in the Columbus, Ohio, law

firm of Daugherty, Todd, and Rarey, the energetic and politically astute Daugherty

became one of the leading lobbyists in the Midwest. A 1911 vanity book, Club Men

of Columbus in Caricature, portrayed him walking down the street protectively lead-



1. See, for example, the lengthy article on Daugherty in the New York World, February 17, 1921. See

also Robert K. Murray, The Harding Era: Warren G. Harding in His Times (New York, 1968), 106-107.

2. Prior to 1914, the General Assembly elected Ohio Senators. The voting generally went by party


Mr. Giglio is Assistant Professor of History at Southwest Missouri State University.