That was an old vaudeville joke, and it always got a laugh. It was true enough. Charles G. Dawes was our 30th (1925-1929) Vice President, and he lived in Illinois. But unless you’re from Evanston, you probably never heard of this man.
|Charles Gates Dawes
In October 1901, Dawes left the Department of the Treasury in order to pursue a U.S. Senate seat from Illinois. He thought that, with the help of the McKinley Administration, he could win it. McKinley was assassinated and his successor, President Theodore Roosevelt, preferred Dawes's opponent. In 1902, following this unsuccessful attempt at legislative office, Dawes declared that he was done with politics. He organized the Central Trust Company of Illinois, where he served as its president until 1921.
In 1909 he bought this house at 225 Greenwood Street in Evanston, Illinois. The Dawes House was designated a national Historic Landmark in 1976. It is now owned by the Evanston History Center (formerly known as the Evanston Historical Society).
In February 1921, the U.S. Senate held hearings on war expenditures. During heated testimony, Dawes burst out, "Hell and Maria, we weren't trying to keep a set of books over there, we were trying to win a war!" He was later known as "Hell and Maria Dawes" (although he always insisted the expression was "Helen Maria")
Dawes resigned from the Army in 1919 and became a member of the American Legion. He supported Frank Lowden at the 1920 Republican National Convention, but the presidential nomination went to Warren G. Harding. When the Bureau of the Budget was created, he was appointed in 1921 by President Harding as its first director. Hoover appointed him to the Allied Reparations Commission in 1923.
For his work on the Dawes Plan, a program to enable Germany to restore and stabilize its economy, Dawes shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1925. The negotiations on reparations broke down. Dawes's plan was replaced with the Young Plan, which reduced the total amount of reparations and called for the removal of occupying forces.
By 1924 Calvin Coolidge was President and running for re-election. He wanted a running mate from the pivotal swing-state of Illinois. The Republican Convention gave the spot to ex-Governor Frank Lowden. He turned it down. Then Dawes got the nod. He delivered his acceptance speech from the porch of the house in Evanston, Illinois.
The Coolidge-Dawes ticket won a landslide victory.
|TIME Magazine Cover: Charles G. Dawes - June 11, 1928
Dawes was never seriously considered as a presidential candidate. He was later Ambassador to Great Britain, then returned to banking.
He died in 1951 and is buried in Rosehill Cemetery and Mausoleum in Chicago.
Dawes stipulated in his will that the house become a historical museum. It has been the home of the Evanston History Center since 1960, and it was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.
 The Dawes Plan, an arrangement for Germany’s payment of reparations after WWI. On the initiative of the British and U.S. governments, a committee of experts, presided over by an American financier, Charles G. Dawes, produced a report on the question of German reparations for presumed liability for World War I. The report was accepted by the Allies and by Germany on Aug. 16, 1924. No attempt was made to determine the total amount of reparations to be paid, but payments were to begin at 1,000,000,000 gold marks in the first year and rise to 2,500,000,000 by 1928. The plan provided for the reorganization of the Reichsbank and for an initial loan of 800,000,000 marks to Germany. The Dawes Plan seemed to work so well that by 1929 it was believed that the stringent controls over Germany could be removed and total reparations fixed. This was done by the Young Plan.
|Tobacco aficionados might be interested to learn that Dawes designed and popularized the Dawes Pipe.