Ratcliffe was a great statesman. The smoothness of his manipulation was marvelous. No other man in politics, indeed no other man who had ever been in politics in this country, could—his admirers said—have brought together so many hostile interests and made so fantastic a combination. Some men went so far as to maintain that he would "rope in the President himself before the old man had time to swap knives with him." The beauty of his work consisted in the skill with which he evaded questions of principle. As he wisely said, the issue now involved was not one of principle but of power.