Great Leaders and National Issues of 1896/Chapter 8/Quay

VIII. Political Giants of the Present Day—

Matthew Stanley Quay

Matthew Stanley QuayEdit

Republican Leader and U. S. Senator From Pennsylvania


Matthew Stanley Quay stands conspicuous in the political history of this country. Modest, unassuming and reticent, yet brave and courageous, he combines the elements of political leadership with broad and liberal statesmanship.

A man may be a politician without being a statesman, but no man of the present day can be a statesman without being a good politician. There are politics and politicians, but a politician in the nobler sense of the word is one who draws his inspiration from the people and expresses their wants and sentiments in his public acts. Such a man is Senator Quay.

Quay's Tariff RecordEdit

Quay did more, perhaps, than any one in the Senate, for had it not been for his management in giving the McKinley Bill the place of the Force Bill, it would never have passed the Senate. The McKinley Bill was made by the Committee of Ways and Means in the House, of which Burrows and Dingley and Bayne and Payne were members. When it left the Senate it had over 600 amendments to it, of which reciprocity was one, with Blaine for its author.

The McKinley Bill was the work of the Republicans of the Senate and the House and a Republican President. It took the name of the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, as all tariff bills do.

His Life StoryEdit

Senator Quay is in his prime, strong and vigorous mentally and physically—the best results of a well-spent life. He was born in the little town of Dillsburg, York county, Pa. His father was a Presbyterian clergyman. He prepared for college at Beaver and Indiana academies. He then entered Jefferson College, where so many Pennsylvanians have been educated, and graduated there in 1850. He was admitted to the bar in 1854 at Beaver, and was elected Prothonotary in 1856, and re-elected in 1859.

When the war began he joined the Tenth Pennsylvania Reserves as lieutenant, and finally became colonel of the One Hundred and Thirty-fourth Pennsylvania Volunteers. Shortly before the battle of Fredericksburg he was compelled to resign by disability, resulting from a serious illness with typhoid fever. Just as he was ready to return to his home the battle came on. He begged to be permitted to go into action, and against the protest of the regimental surgeon he was permitted to do so. He distinguished himself in that great battle by personal bravery and that rare coolness and judgment that has since always accompanied him in the most desperate struggles, and he is one of the few survivors of the war who holds a medal by act of Congress for heroic conduct in battle.

Since the war he has held several offices, with great credit to himself and benefit to the State. He has been on several occasions delegate to national conventions.

Personal CharacteristicsEdit

He lives a quiet, domestic life, loved, respected and honored by a devoted wife and children. He is sympathetic and can hardly resist an appeal for aid. He is what is known among men as big-hearted, devoted to his friends and indulgent to his enemies.

Those who know him best have the greatest respect and admiration for him, and hold him in the same esteem that Grant was held by the Union soldiers. He talks little and listens much. He does not repeat his words or emphasize his adjectives, but means every word he says.

His memory is remarkable; he never forgets a face or a fact. He catches a point at once and understands the purpose of an interview before it is half over. He has taught many all the politics they know, but, as Senator Gorman said, he has never taught any one all that he knows. He is charitable to a fault and never is harsh or unkind to any one. He is never seen in anger, in excitement, or discouraged.

His ability as a man and leader grows upon men as they know him better. There is always a hidden reserve, knowledge and power that is apparent, but undisclosed. He has more friends among the Democrats than any Republican in the State, for while he fights hard, he fights fair and in the open field.