Monday, March 10, 2008

Garret Hobart 1844-1899 ..One of the most forgotten Vice Presidents..However, his death changed the world..A look at his grave in Patterson, NJ

President William McKinley and Vice President Garret Hobart relaxing on a vacation. They were very close and often would go on vacations together with their wife's who were also very close.

It was perhaps the nicest and warmest relationship in the Presidency. Hobart was often referred as to as the co-President. Both he and McKinley were beloved by just about everyone.
Hobart was involved in every aspect of the Presidency. McKinley made the office of the Vice-President a vital one to his administration. The main reason was he very warm relationship with the Hobart's.
Hobart was also McKinley's savings advisor. As Hobart was involved in many businesses and McKinley had once had the misfortune of having to declare bankruptcy. Therefore McKinley gave Hobart part of his paycheck as President to him to invest so he would never have such a problem again.

(Remember, ex-Presidents did not get a pension or anything from the government save for free postage.)

It was planned that Hobart would be a part of McKinley's 2nd administration. But fate had other ideas.

Hobart was strickened in mid 1899 with heart disease.
By the fall he was in pretty bad shape. McKinley wrote often from the White House and the Hobart's were writing back.
It was heartbreaking for McKinley as he was not only seeing a dear friend dying, but the one person who made his administration so happy and successful, his friend and Vice President.
The letters from William McKinley and his wife to the Hobart's are just filled with love and hope. The Letters back from the Hobart's were full of love and realism.

They knew it was only a matter of time. On November 21, 1899, Hobart died.

The entire world went into mourning for the very much loved Vice President.
Much of the Senate, Congress, Supreme Court, Cabinet, and of course his friend, the grieving President came. McKinley said it was great loss for him. He seemed very effected by it all as it was noted in the papers.

It was a grand event in Patterson, New Jersey. As all of the American and much of the world's political body came to honor Hobart. He was laid out in a Tiger Oak casket with silver handles. On the lid was a shield saying. Garret Hobart 1844-1899.

The Vice President was then laid out in City Hall in Patterson, and then the service was held in the Presbyterian Church. It was standing room only and most of the locals who knew him were sadly not able to go inside as it was over crowded with visitors.

After the service there was a march to Cedar Lawn Cemetery on the edge of town where Hobart's body was placed in the Receiving vault. President McKinley was with the body all the way to the vault and then made it his business to thank the heads of the cemetery for their work. He kept saying it was a great loss, not only to him but the country.
McKinley while there was able to see New York from the Hills of this Patterson cemetery. Then they all left and the Body rested in the receiving vault till the following year.

The inside of the old Receiving vault. The door leads to vaults to hold the caskets of those who do not have mausoleums yet or it is too cold to dig a grave. Today with tractors to dig, cold weather is usually not a great problem. but still they get their use now and then. But this is was Hobart's first resting place.

What is not really known today is that Patterson was one of the wealthiest communities in the United States at the end of the 19th century. The location of the Hobart Mausoleum is surrounded by many like it and many graves marked with very opulent funeral statuary. It is a most incredible place.
To look at it today one can only look with wonder at the grand graves and mausoleums. In this picture you will see the Hobart Mausoleum on the left and many of the other graves of that era in its locale.

This is the Hobart Mausoleum built in 1900-01. It is the largest mausoleum in the cemetery.

The name is on the front. Oddly there are no flags or markings on the structure to say who is there and who he was.

The inside of the Mausoleum. It was very hard to photograph this. I had to try several times taking pictures through the grating of the Bronze doors. It is quite lovely inside. In this structure rests Hobart, his wife and daughter.

Now comes the great change that Hobart made by his death.

History just needs a little thing to change the entire world. Hobart was to be in McKinley's second term. But by his death the political bosses were at a loss as to who to make Vice President.
Theodore Roosevelt who was at this time the Governor of New York was a real pain to all of the political bosses, but mostly Thomas Platt.
There was little love between McKinley and Roosevelt, But the bosses wanted to get rid of Roosevelt.
The best place to put him was the Vice Presidency. As it was a nothing position, at least it was now.
Senator Mark Hanna put it best to the Republican bosses saying.."You have put one life between the Presidency and that damned cowboy".

McKinley had no plans to make Roosevelt a part of his inner circle. Roosevelt had embarrassed and insulted McKinley many times in the press. Saying when it came to war, McKinley had the backbone of a Chocolate eclair.
The thing that Roosevelt failed to grasp was that McKinley knew war, Roosevelt had his fantasies of what it was.
Also McKinley had more class than Roosevelt. But that did not stop Roosevelt from making a fool of himself and once again embarrassing the President. But McKinley when told that Roosevelt would be his running mate was as kind as he always was. He was like a kid in a candy shop. He was shocked when he saw McKinley's modest home in Canton. Roosevelt could not have that, he was as Harry S. Truman put it. More bull than moose. I am sure that McKinley's scotch consumption went up, knowing that he had Roosevelt with him for 4 years. But once again fate laid out its icy hand.

In September, 1901 McKinley was assassinated and Roosevelt was President. If Hobart had lived how different the history of the United States may have been.

If you get the chance visit the mausoleum of Hobart. No one comes by anymore, nor does anyone know who he was, or what he was, which is sad and what prompted me to write this.

I was glad to drop and wish the former Vice President well, and to ask him to give my best to his friend President McKinley as well.

McKinley and his running mate. There are very few of them together.