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"I Make Politics My Recreation": Vice President Garrett Hobart and Nineteenth-Century Business Politics

Michael Connolly

Abstract


Until recent decades, American vice presidents were relatively obscure, little-known men who had minimal impact upon the politics and policies of the administrations they served. On this ignominious list remains Garret A. Hobart (1844-1899) of Paterson, New Jersey, vice president under President William McKinley, a businessman-turned-politician who died before his term expired. A closer look, however, reveals a man dubbed “assistant President” by contemporary journalists, an influential policymaker who had the president‟s confidence, and a lawyer-entrepreneur who shrewdly maneuvered the shadowy line between business and politics. At times, his pursuit of personal fortune in the railroad and water supply businesses veered into suspicions of graft and illegality. Far from being a nineteenth-century nonentity, Hobart was a central voice for the Republican Party during the 1890s, and one of the more influential and controversial vice presidents in American history.

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