Illustrious ancestors, a profitable business career, and remarkable civilian and military government service does not guarantee successful electoral office.  In Calvin Coolidge’s world, no one better demonstrates this than his vice president, Charles Gates Dawes. Although one of his forebears was the William Dawes who rode with Paul Revere to warn Lexington and Concord that the British were coming, Charlie Dawes never recovered from some missteps early in his vice presidential term.
Born in Ohio, Dawes made his name in business and banking in Lincoln, Nebraska and later Chicago, Illinois, after graduating from Marietta College. He turned to politics as an Illinois campaign worker for President William McKinley, who appointed him Comptroller of the Currency, a post he held from 1898 to 1901. He immediately ran for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senator from Illinois in 1902, but lost to Albert J. Hopkins (R), the eventual winner, who was backed by the new president, Theodore Roosevelt.
Dawes then returned to banking until World War I when he was head of supply procurement for the American Expeditionary Force in France and became a brigadier general.  He received a nickname when testifying in front of a congressional committee looking into overspending during the war. When a member of the committee asked Dawes if it was true that excessive prices were paid for mules in France, he replied, “Hell and Maria, I’d have paid horse prices for sheep, if the sheep could have pulled artillery to the front!” Thus he was ‘Hell and Maria’ Dawes or ‘Helen Maria’ Dawes, as he always insisted.
Dawes was appointed the first Director of the Bureau of the Budget in 1921 by President Harding. He served on the Allied Reparations Commission negotiating with European colleagues to find a plan for Germany to pay war compensation to the victors. The Dawes Plan provided for a reorganization of German finances with loans from American investors. For his effort, he shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1925. He gave the money from the prize to Johns Hopkins University. Unfortunately, the plan was not a long term solution, and the German economy collapsed.
Many have struggled with being vice president of this country. Dawes was one of them in part because he had strong convictions and self-confidence, but the office does not lend itself to advocating for a cause. See the next blog posting for Dawes’ troubles in the office.