The Rise and Fall of the Warner Empire: Politics (Part V)

James G. BlaineGrover Cleveland

It often seems that those who are successful in business decide that they should favor the world of politics with their wisdom. H. H. Warner was no exception. Having made his mark, first in the safe business and more recently in the patent medicine business, Warner decided on politics as his next area of endeavor. His involvement though was not as a candidate for elective office, but rather as an activist in the Republican Party.

Atwater reports that in 1884, Warner was chosen as a delegate to the Republican National Convention from the thirtieth New York district. In grand style, he rented two Pullman cars and transported fifty local Republicans and members of the press to the convention in Chicago. Based on the reports in the Rochester Union and Advertiser  and the Rochester Democrat and Chronical from May and June, 1884, the Warner party did not travel in complete sobriety. Quoting the reporter:

“The ride was dusty but not wholly dry” and by the time the convention opened, the Rochester boys “turned up cheerful and well preserved.”

Atwater at 180. At the Chicago convention, Senator James G. Blaine (above left) of Maine, a former Speaker of the House and Secretary of State was nominated over the incumbent President Chester A. Arthur. Warner repeatedly cast his votes for Abraham Lincoln’s son, Robert, was not formally nominated as a candidate. Warner was unsuccessful as a candidate for vice-president of the convention. Blaine ultimately lost the election to Grover Cleveland (above right).

Warner returned to the Republican National Conventions in 1888 in Chicago and 1892 in Minneapolis. He supported favorite son candidate, Chauncey Depew and later the successful candidate, Benjamin Harrison in 1888 and Blaine again in 1892. The trips to these conventions were also aboard well-provisioned Pullman cars. After that, Warner faded from political life and moved on to other ventures that would ultimately bring the downfall of his patent medicine empire.

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