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OF 1896 








All rights reserved 



Set up and electrotyped. Published November, 1906. Reprinted 
January, 1910 ; August, 1912 ; November, 19x6. 
New edition in eight volumes, November, 1920. 


J. S. Gushing Co. Berwick <fe Smith Co. 
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A. 






Grant loses ground ........ 1 

E. Rockwood Hoar 2 

Fish Cox Hoar 3 

Hoar's resignation requested 4 

Cox resigns 5 

Fish Hoar Cox 6 

Grant's indiscretions 7 

Inaugural address of President Charles W. Eliot ... 8 

Impetus to Civil Service Reform ; Jenckes's bill ... 10 
Schurz Trumbull George William Curtis . . .11 

Senatorial clique supporting Grant ..... 12 

Butler's influence ......... 13 

Grant as regards Civil Service Reform had not the root of 

the matter in him 13 

Grant's failure in Southern policy ...... 14 

Congressional leaders harp upon the "rebellion" and 

"rebels" 15 

Boss Tweed's rule in New York 16 

The Tweed Ring 17 

Tweed Hoffman Gould Fisk 18 

Tweed corrupts the legislature 19 

Hall Connolly Tweed Sweeny 20 

Operations of the Tweed Ring 20 

Tweed's vulgarity and extravagance . . . 23 

Tweed at the height of his power at the beginning of 1871 . 24 




New York Times Thomas Nast attacks the Tweed Ring . 25 

The Whitewashing Committee 26 

Tweed's benefactions 27 

Continued attacks of the New York Times .... 28 

New York Times secures important evidence ... 29 

Attempt to bribe the "Times" 30 

Attempt to bribe Nast 31 

Tweed arrested 32 

Tweed escapes ; rearrested ; dies in 1878 .... 33 

Municipal reform discussed ....... 34 

Liberal Republican movement of 1872 36 

Sumner Trumbull Adams 39 

Charles Francis Adams's letter 39 

The Cincinnati convention May 1, 1872 .... 41 

The platform a concession to Greeley 43 

Greeley nominated for President 45 

An unfortunate nomination 45 

Disappointment of many of the leaders of the movement . 47 

Tariff reform in Congress ....... 48 

Tariff legislation, 1872 49 

National Republican convention of 1872 renominated Grant 51 
Democratic convention endorses Greeley . . . .51 

"Eating Crow" 53 

North Carolina election 55 

Greeley's canvass and speech-making ..... 56 

An exciting campaign 58 

Nast's cartoons . . .59 

Grant's strength 60 

Grant elected 61 

Republicans obtain again their two-thirds majority in Con- 
gress 62 

Death of Greeley 63 


The Credit Mobilier 65 

Members of Congress said to have been bribed ... 65 



Acts for the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad . 66 

Oakes Ames and his Credit Mobilier 67 

Profit of the Credit Mobilier 68 

Oakes Ames's position and justification .... 68 

Congressional investigation threatened .... 69 

Legislation threatened 70 

Ames places Credit Mobilier shares "where they will do 

most good to us" 70 

Dividends paid on Credit Mobilier 72 

Evidence taken by the Poland committee .... 73 
Poland committee recommends expulsion of Oakes Ames 

and James Brooks .74 

House censures them 74 

A partial defence of Ames 75 

An intelligent contemporaneous opinion of the transaction . 76 

Boutwell, Dawes, Henry Wilson, Bingham, Kelley . . 77 

The case of Schuyler Colfax 78 

Allison's straightforward course , . 79 

The case of James A. Garfield 80 

Effect of the Credit Mobilier disclosures on public sentiment 82 

Corruption in the New York custom house .... 83 

"Salary Grab "Act 84 

Grant's second inauguration 85 

Grant halts in Civil Service reform 86 

The case of Collector Simmons 87 

Butler's great influence over Grant ..... 88 

Conkling and the Chief Justiceship ..... 89 

Character of Roscoe Conkling 90 

Other selections ; Williams, Caleb Gushing . . . .91 

Morrison R. Waite, Chief Justice 92 

The Virginius Affair 93 

Fish's prompt action ; Castelar's sincere regret ... 94 

Great excitement in the United States ..... 95 

War with Spain seems imminent ...... 96 

Sumner cool and just 96 

Fish proceeds with caution 96 



Fish sends to Madrid the demand of our government . . 97 
Sickles our minister seems to want war at any price . . 98 

Virginius affair settled 99 

Great credit due to Fish 100 

Railroad construction before 1873 101 

Feverish business conditions, 1872 102 

Jay Cooke building the Northern Pacific Railroad . .103 
Business expansion ; glut of railway bonds .... 104 

Apparent prosperity 105 

Optimistic reasoning 106 

Failure of Jay Cooke & Co., September 18, 1873 . . .107 
Financial panic ......... 107 

Clearing-House certificates 108 

President and Secretary of the Treasury in conference . . 108 
September 21-27 week of intense gloom . . . .109 

Business paralysis all over the country 110 

Cause of the Financial Panic Ill 

The Chicago Fire of 1871 112 

The Boston Fire of 1872 . 112 

Incompetent financing of the government . . . .114 

The Commercial Crisis 115 

Aftermath of the panic 116 

Assembly of Congress December, 1873, hailed with delight ; 

inflation proposed . . . . . . .117 

Richardson, Secretary of the Treasury, inflates the currency 118 
Sherman, Thurman, Schurz, oppose inflation . . .119 
The argument for inflation . . . . . . 120 

Sherman meets it . . . . 120 

Morton advocates inflation 121 

Thurman speaks against inflation . . . . . . 122 

Schurz's sound philosophy ....... 123 

The Inflation bill ......... 125 

Grant vetoes Inflation bill 126 

The veto a brave and noble act . . . . . .128 

Sanborn contracts 129 

Richardson resigns the Secretaryship of the Treasury . .130 



Democrats successful in the fall elections of 1874 . . . 131 
A true political revolution .... . 132 

Reasons for it . ... 132 

The Resumption Act of 1875 . 134 

Resumption accomplished on January 1, 1879 . . . 137 
Revenue Act of 1875 ... .137 


Reconstruction 138 

Texas obtains home rule in 1872 . . . . . .138 

Negro rule in Alabama . . ... . . . . 139 

Corruption in Alabama 140 

Railroad-Aid Mania 141 

Corruption and extravagance in Alabama .... 142 

Movement for liberation 143 

"Campaign lies" .143 

"Campaign lies" exposed 145 

Democratic success in Alabama in 1874 .... 147 
Home rule restored in Alabama . . . . . .148 

"Southern Outrages" campaign 149 

Trouble in Arkansas 150 

Grant interferes in Arkansas 151 

Poland defeats Grant's project 152 

Arkansas secures home rule 152 

Attempt to enact a new Force bill 153 

Passes the House ; not considered by Senate . . . 153 

Civil Rights Act passed 154 

Declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme 

Court .155 

The story of Mississippi 155 

Governor Alcorn ; Revels ; Lynch 156 

Negro-carpet-bag government in Mississippi; extravagance 

and corruption 157 

Ku-Klux-Klan in Mississippi 157 

Ku-Klux outrages end with the year 1872 .... 158 



Alcorn Powers Ames, governors of Mississippi, men of 

integrity 159 

Negroes in office ; Africanization of the State . . .160 

Corruption .... 161 

Lucius Q. C. Lamar 161 

Sumner's battle-flag resolution 163 

Lamar's eulogy of Sumner 164 

The corrupt and incompetent ring of Vicksburg . , . .167 

Riot at Vicksburg 168 

The story of Louisiana 168 

Unblushing corruption 169 

The processes of the thieves resemble Tweed's . . .170 
Plunder of the rich and fruitful State of Louisiana . .171 
The corrupt government maintained by Federal authority . 172 
Disabilities of former Confederates removed . . . .173 

Quarrel in the Republican party 173 

The Louisiana Returning-Board 173 

How the political game was played in Louisiana . . .174 

Recommendation of Senate committee 174 

Grant's action 175 

Colfax massacre 176 

Coushatta massacre 177 

Foster-Phelps-Potter report, 1874 178 

Fraud in Louisiana 179 

Charles Foster; William Walter Phelps .... 180 

Trouble in New Orleans . 182 

Five Democratic members ejected from the legislature by 

the troops 183 

Sheridan's "banditti" despatch 183 

Grant's confidence in Sheridan 184 

Cry of indignation at the North . . . . . .185 

Schurz condemns Sheridan's despatch . . . . .185 

Indignation meetings 186 

Foster-Phelps-Potter report published January 15, 1875 . 187 
Hoar, Wheeler, Frye visit New Orleans .... 188 
Sheridan in New Orleans 188 



Hoar's report 190 

Wheeler compromise 191 


The story of Mississippi resumed 192 

The political campaign of 1875 192 

Contrast between Mississippi and Ohio . . . .193 

Race riots 194 

Governor Ames asks for troops 195 

[Grant refuses troops .196 

Ames, a man of great courage, prepares for war . . .196 

Fights ; Peace Agreement 197 

The "Mississippi Plan" 198 

The question of troops 200 

The Democrats carry the State 201 

The returns analyzed ; intimidation and force were employed 202 

Fraud charged on both sides 202 

Different considerations presented ..... 202 
Political revolution ; home rule in Mississippi complete . 204 

The case of South Carolina 206 

The worst example of negro-carpet-bag rule .... 206 
Large numbers of coloured men in the legislature . . . 206 
Six years of bribery, corruption, dishonesty .... 207 

Different methods of stealing 207 

Barbaric extravagance ; crime ; vice ..... 209 

Scott and Moses 210 

^Daniel H. Chamberlain's statement regarding three years of 

negro-carpet-bag rule . . . . . . .211 

Negro constituency of South Carolina 212 

Scott and Whittemore 213 

Governor F. J. Moses 214 

Defence of the negro constituency 215 

Pike's description of South Carolina legislature . . .216 

Defiant negroes in Charleston 220 

State elections of 1868 and 1870 221 



Intimidation by negroes 222 

Charleston garrisoned by negro militia 223 

Scott and Moses 224 

Daniel H. Chamberlain, governor 225 

Character of Chamberlain 225 

Action of Governor Chamberlain ...... 226 

Chamberlain's patriotic speech at Lexington, 1875 . . 229 

Chamberlain's fight with corruption 230 

Chamberlain's famous despatch 231 

Chamberlain's ambition ....... 231 

A general consideration of the policy of negro suffrage . . 232 

A general consideration of the negro in politics . . . 233 

The negro in politics 234 

A general consideration of Congressional reconstruction . 235 

Character of the Southern people ...... 236 

Comparison with other policies 237 


Contest on the financial question transferred to Ohio . . 239 

Hayes- Allen campaign of 1875 240 

A spirited contest . . . . . . . . .241 

Sherman; Schurz; Thurman; McDonald .... 242 

Republicans and sound-money principles successful . . 243 

Blaine sounds the keynote of the 1876 campaign . . . 243 

Bitter debate in the House 244 

Blaine fires the Northern heart ...... 245 

Benjamin H. Bristow as Secretary of the Treasury . . 246 

St. Louis Whiskey Ring 247 

Prosecution of members of the Whiskey Ring . . . 249 

J. B. Henderson relieved from duty as special counsel . . 249 

Grant's testimony . . 250 

A popular suspicion of Grant . ' . . . . . 251 

Grant's thorough honesty 252 

Friction between Grant and Bristow ..... 253 

The Belknap scandal 254 



High-water mark of corruption in national affairs . . 255 

Lowell's view of the subject 255 

George William Curtis's opinion 256 

George F. Hoar on corruption 257 

James G. Elaine's transactions . . . . . . 258 

Acts as broker with Maine friends 258 

Elaine's Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad bonds . . 260 

Elaine's defence 262 

Charge against Elaine reappears 264 

The Mulligan letters .265 

Elaine's defence .' 266 

Elaine's defence considered 268 

Elaine swoons on the steps of his church . . . . 270 

National Republican convention of 1876 .... 270 

Elaine, Conkling, Morton, candidates . . . . 271 

Bristow the reformers' candidate 272 

Robert Ingersoll presents Elaine 272 

Elaine against the field 273 

Rutherford B. Hayes nominated 274 

Elaine sends to Hayes an earnest assurance of support . . 276 

National Democratic convention of 1876 .... 276 

Samuel J. Tilden nominated for President .... 277 

Character of Tilden 277 

Character of Hayes 278 

Hayes's letter of acceptance ....... 279 

Tilden's letter disappointing 280 

Michael C. Kerr, Speaker of the House . . . .281 

Elaine determined the issue of the campaign . . . 282 

"Waving the bloody shirt" 283 

Southern Question the issue 284 

Attacks on Tilden's personal character 285 

Nast's cartoons ......... 285 

Ohio and Indiana ; October States 286 

Republicans carry Ohio, Democrats Indiana .... 287 

Skilful management ; large amount of money spent . . 287 

"Bulldozing" tactics; canvass in South Carolina . . . 288 



Stories of outrages fabricated 289 

Election day November 7 290 


Hearing the returns 291 

Who is elected President, Hayes or Tilden? . . . .292 

Grant's action for the preservation of order at the South . 293 

Florida and Louisiana in doubt 293 

The great bone of contention, Louisiana .... 294 

The Louisiana Returning-Board 294 

The "visiting statesmen" . . . . . . . 294 

Character of Wells, President of Returning-Board . . 295 

Vote of Louisiana declared for Hayes 296 

Fraud charged ; Sherman justifies action of Returning-Board 297 

Democratic statement ........ 298 

Discussion of the question ....... 299 

Crooked work of the Louisiana Returning-Board . . . 300 

In a letter to Hayes Sherman defends it .... 301 

Sherman's view ; McCulloch's 301 

Sherman's visit to Hayes ....... 302 

The electors in the several States vote 302 

The case of Oregon 303 

Constitutional theories ........ 304 

The disputed presidency 305 

Seriousness of the situation 306 

Danger of civil war . . . . . . . 307 

Charges of corruption against Tilden's friends . . . 308 

Tilden's good case 309 

Tilden lacks courage . . . . . . . .310 

Tilden's indecision 311 

Committees of House and Senate 312 

House committee ......... 313 

Joint meeting of two committees 314 

Plan agreed to on Saturday 314 

Given up on Monday 315 



Discussion again in committee 316 

Protracted negotiations . . . . . . . .317 

Plans and counter-plans . . . . . . .318 

Electoral Count bill agreed upon ...... 319 

Edmunds introduces the bill into the Senate . . . 320 

Morton opposes it 321 

Conkling's great speech in favour of it . . . . . 322 
Bill passes the Senate and the House ; signed by the Presi- 
dent ; the Electoral Count Act 325 

The constitution of the Electoral Commission . . . 327 

Bradley the fifteenth man 328 

Commencement of the count ...... 329 

The case of Florida 330 

O'Conor's argument . . . . . . . .331 

Florida adjudged to Hayes 333 

Thurman's opinion in the Florida case 334 

Miller's opinion 335 

Bradley's opinion 336 

Florida counted for Hayes 338 

Louisiana counted for Hayes 340 

Oregon and South Carolina counted for Hayes . . .341 

Anger of the Democrats ....... 341 

Hayes declared elected 343 

Evarts's adroitness 345 

O'Conor and Evarts in the Florida case .... 345 

Bradley's defence 346 

The decision of the Electoral Commission discussed . . 347 

Florida recovers home rule 349 

Affairs in South Carolina 349 

Was there a bargain about the withdrawal of the troops ? . 350 

Troops withdrawn from the State House of South Carolina 351 

The case of Louisiana 352 

Troops withdrawn from the State House of Louisiana . . 353 

End of the History 354 

General Considerations 355 



GRANT needed all the glory he could get out of the 
Treaty of Washington and the Geneva arbitration to 
atone for the faults of his first administration. Going 
into office with almost universal acclaim and respect he 
had so lost ground that in less than two years it could 
be said of him with the assent of manjr of the best men 
of his party: "The wreck of General Grant's fame is a 
national misfortune. That fame was a national posses- 
sion, and it was the best people of the country, those 
whom he is now repudiating or refusing to rely on, who 
built it up by giving him a hearty and unfaltering sup- 
port in the field and at the polls." 1 The President for 
the most part gravitated to men of vulgar tastes and low 
aspirations. Himself pure in thought and deed, he never- 
theless liked to talk " horse," and " horsey " men were 
among his chosen companions. Nor was he, apart from 
soldiers, a good judge of men. His association during 
the first year of his administration with Gould and Fisk, 
his delegation of important powers to Babcock in the 
San Domingo business were a shock to all those who 
wished to see dignity in official life. He made wretched 
appointments in the diplomatic service and on the whole 
his other selections were a disappointment, in many of 
which he was strongly influenced by nepotism. In one 

1 The Nation, Nov. 17, 1870, p. 322 ; see Life of Bowles, Merriam, vol. ii. 
p. 129. George W. Curtis wrote to C. E. Norton on June 26, 1870 : " I think 
the warmest friends of Grant feel that he has failed terribly as president, not 
from want of honesty or desire but from want of tact and great ignorance. 
It is a political position and he knew nothing of politics and rather despised 
them." Life of Curtis, Cary, p. 213. 



respect however he did uncommonly well, better it was 
said than Lincoln had done in that class of officials. 
A recent act 1 had created nine new Circuit courts and the 
appointment of the judges had fallen to Grant, who chose 
for the positions excellent lawyers; but this was due to the 
advice and insistence of E. R. Hoar, his Attorney-Gen- 
eral, who had a remarkable discrimination and old-fash- 
ioned respect for good judges. Although Grant was 
surrounded by sycophants and self-seekers he never 
entirely abandoned the society of cultivated and intelli- 
gent men and among them he was sincerely attached to 
Judge Hoar and enjoyed his companionship. They had 
in common the love of a good cigar and Grant felt the 
charm of Hoar's society and listened with unaffected 
delight to his stories, of which he had an almost inex- 
haustible store. 2 As I have already stated, the President 
nominated him for Associate Justice of the United States 
Supreme Court but this excellent nomination was re- 
jected by the Senate. The real reason of the rejection 
was that in the appointments of the new circuit judges 
he had prevailed upon the President to select the best 
men he could get, no matter if the selections required, 
as they often did, that the urgent recommendations of 
influential senators be disregarded. The appointments 
were so good that the Senate dared not reject them and, 
as Grant was too powerful to quarrel with, the senators 
vented their displeasure upon the Attorney-General. 
After his rejection Senator Cameron, a personal friend, 
said to him, " What could you expect for a man who 
had snubbed seventy senators ! " Edmunds, Conkling 
and Carpenter, all good lawyers, were among those who, 
out of personal pique, voted against the nomination. 8 

1 Act of April 10, 1869. 

2 See Autobiography of G. F. Hoar, vol. i. p. 306 ; BoutwelPs Reminis- 
cences, vol. ii. p. 208. 

8 George F. Hoar, Autobiography, vol. i. p. 306, vol.'ii. p. 77 ; C. F. Adams 
in the Mass. Hist. Soc. Feb. 1895, Proceedings, 2d ser. vol. ix. p. 304 ; 


When Lowell visited Washington in March 1870 he 
wrote, " Judge Hoar and Mr. Cox struck me as the only 
really strong men in the cabinet." 1 Had Lowell then 
known as much as we do now he would have added, 
Hamilton Fish ; indeed Hoar and Cox themselves had 
a high opinion of the ability of the Secretary of State. 
We have seen how eager Fish was to disassociate him- 
self from Grant's administration and that he remained 
in office from purely patriotic motives. The President 
might also have retained Hoar and Cox as his consti- 
tutional advisers had not his policy finally driven them 
from the cabinet. 

It will be remembered that there were two men in 
the cabinet from Massachusetts, Judge Hoar being an 
original appointment and Boutwell being named for the 
Treasury when it was found that Stewart was ineligible. 
Hoar, recognizing that this double representation of one 
State was unusual, told the President from the first 
that his resignation was at any time at his service. It 
is probable that Grant had in mind the removal of this 
inequality when he nominated Hoar for the Supreme 
Court. After his rejection [February 3, 1870] by the 
Senate Hoar, through the medium of some intimate 
friends, sent word to the President that his resignation 
was at his disposal but, Grant being unwilling to part 
with him, he staid on. Meanwhile the President had 
suffered the disappointment of seeing his San Domingo 
treaty unfavourably received by the Senate. Sumner 

Washington Letter to The Nation, Jan. 6. 1870, p. 5. Pierce speaks of 
Edmunds as the principal influence, vol. iv. p. 475. The vote on Hoar was 
24 : 33. For, Republicans 24 ; against, Republicans 24, Democrats 9. The full 
Senate [Feb. 3, 1870] was 68. Every one of the Republicans from the recon- 
structed States, except two, voted against his confirmation, being influenced 
in addition to the other reason by the desire of having a justice from the 
South. Chandler voted no. Merrill (Vt.), Sherman and Morton were absent. 
The Committee on the Judiciary reported adversely. Truinbull was the 
only member of it who voted aye. Executive Journal, vol. xvii. p. 357. 
1 Letters, vol. ii. p. 57. 


had come out openly against it. Now Sumner stood 
high with the coloured constituents of the carpet-bag 
and scalawag senators from the South, and to Grant's 
solicitations for support, these senators said that if they 
took ground against Sumrier they must have something 
in return. The South had no representation in the 
cabinet and they suggested that their section should 
supply the Attorney-General. 1 

The awkward manner in which Grant now went 
to work to secure votes for his treaty shows what a 
tortuous course he had undertaken to steer. " I was 
sitting in my office yesterday morning" [June 15, 1870], 
is the account given by Judge Hoar to General Cox, 
"attending to routine business, with no more thought of 
what was to come than you had at that moment, when 
a messenger entered with a letter from the President. 
Opening it, I was amazed to read a naked statement 
that he found himself under the necessity of asking for 
my resignation. No explanation of any kind was given 
or reason assigned. The request was as curt and as 
direct as possible. My first thought was that the 
President had been imposed upon by some grave charge 
against me. A thunder-clap could not have been more 
startling to me. I sat for a while wondering what it 
could mean why there had been no warning, no 
reference to the subject in our almost daily conversa- 
tions. The impulse was to go at once and ask the 
reasons for the demand ; but self-respect would not 
permit this, and I said to myself that I must let the 
matter take its own course, and not even seem dis- 
turbed about it. I took up my pen to write the resig- 
nation and found myself naturally framing some of 
the conventional reasons for it ; but I stopped and 

1 In this I have followed J. D. Cox, Atlantic Monthly, August, 1895. 
For other versions see C. F. Adams, Treaty of Washington, p. 142 ; Bout- 
well's Reminiscences, vol. ii. p. 210. 


destroyed the sheet, saying to myself, Since no reasons 
are given or suggested for the demand it is hardly honest 
to invent them in the reply ; ' so I made the resignation as 
simple and unvarnished as the request for it had been." 1 
In the autumn it came Cox's turn. Grant had said 
in June, < there was no man whom he loved more than 
Governor Cox"; 2 but, to the displeasure of the corrupt 
money-makers, who had the President's ear, the Secre- 
tary of the Interior had, on good and sufficient grounds, 
opposed the McGarrahan claim to some mining lands 
in California. 3 Moreover in the administration of his 
department, he had been a practical exponent of civil 
service reform. He had, so far as possible, introduced 
competitive examinations into the Patent Office, Census 
Bureau and Indian service, coming into frequent col- 
lision with senators and representatives who desired 
places for their political friends. He protected his 
clerks against political assessments which were de- 
manded for use in the Pennsylvania election and, for 
this devotion to a civil service based on merit, he of- 
fended Senators Cameron and Chandler who had much 
influence with the President and who believed that the 
public chest should furnish contributions for party ends. 4 
Not being sustained by the President, he had no option 
but to resign, arid in offering his resignation, he wrote 
[October 3, 1870] to Grant : When Congress adjourned 
in the summer I was credibly informed that a somewhat 

1 J. D. Cox, Atlantic Monthly, August, 1895, p. 169. Amos T. Akennan 
of Georgia was appointed Attorney-General. Judge Hoar had spoken well 
of him at the time that he was a candidate for judge in one of the circuit 
courts, and now told the President that he believed him to be "an honest 
man and a good lawyer." Ibid., p. 171. 

2 C. F. Adams, Treaty of Washington, p. 222. J. D. Cox is called Gov- 
ernor as well as General. 

8 The Springfield Republican called it " a scheme of very bad repute; " 
The Nation, " a swindle." Life of Bowles, Merriam, vol. ii. p. 129 ; Feb. 9, 
1871, p. 83. 

4 See the different references in The Nation, in the vol. July-Dec. 1870. 

6 FISH HOAR COX [1870 

systematic effort would be made before their reassem- 
bling in the winter to force a change in the policy 
we have pursued in the Interior Department. The 
removal of the Indian service from the sphere of ordi- 
nary political patronage has been peculiarly distasteful 
to many influential gentlemen in both Houses ; and in 
order to enable you to carry out your purposes success- 
fully, I am satisfied that you ought not to be embar- 
rassed by any other causes of irritation in the same 
department. My views of the necessity of reform in 
the civil service have brought me more or less into col- 
lision with the plans of our active political managers 
and my sense of duty has obliged me to oppose some of 
their methods of action through the arrangement." l 

Fish, Hoar and Cox were looked tip to by the inde- 
pendent political thinkers of the country as standing 
for good government and the displacement of two of 
them was a grievous disappointment. " How long," 
said the Springfield Republican, on the retirement of Cox, 
does the President suppose the people will patiently 
endure this dealing with high office as if it were a presi- 
dential perquisite, to be given away upon his mere 
whim, without regard to the claims of the country ? 
It was bad enough when he only dealt so with consul- 
ates and small post-offices ; but now that he has come 
to foreign ministers and cabinet offices it is intolerable." 2 
At the time of Hoar's resignation, The Nation, while 
regretting that the Attorney-General should have made 
a demand to have the legal-tender question reopened in 
the Supreme Court, said : " Still in peace as in war 
< that is best blood which hath most iron in 't ' ; and 
much is to be excused to the man [i.e. Judge Hoar] who 
has for the first time in many years of Washington his- 

1 New York Tribune, Oct. 31. Grant accepted the resignation Oct. 5. 
Columbus Delano of Ohio succeeded Cox. 

2 Nov. 12, 1870. Life of Bowles, Merriam, vol. ii. p. 129. 


tory, given a back-handed blow to many an impudent 
and arrogant disposer of patronage. He may well be 
proud of most of the enmity that he won while in office 
and may go back contented to Massachusetts to be her 
most honored citizen." l 

The President, who preferred the society of Babcock 
and Murphy [the collector of the New York City Cus- 
torn-House] 2 to that of Judge Hoar and listened to the 
counsel of the senatorial clique and Benjamin F. Butler, 
who was his champion in the House, rather than to that 
of Hoar and Cox, had got a good start on the down- 
ward road. No wonder Judge Hoar in his anxious mood 
before leaving Washington made a special call on Fish 
to urge him " under all circumstances to hold fast," 
adding, " You are the bulwark now standing between 
the country and destruction." 3 

Grant openly accepted gifts and sometimes returned 
favours to the givers but it is probable that he never 
consciously connected the two in his mind, for in many 
worldly matters he was simple as a child. He un- 
doubtedly looked upon the presidential office as a pres- 
ent to him for having saved the nation and he hardly 
deemed it a sufficient reward. General Richard Taylor 
who saw him in 1872 said that he knew, " to the last 
shilling, the various sums voted to the Duke of Welling- 
ton." 4 His early struggles with poverty had led him 


1 June 23, p. 396. 

2 Murphy was appointed collector in 1870. " No collector was ever more 
destitute of fit qualifications for the office but he was identified with a faction 
of Republicans which was in favor at Washington." He made " 338 remov- 
als or three every five days during the eighteen months that his scandal- 
ous administration was tolerated." Report of D. B. Eaton, chairman of the 
Civil Service Commission, p. 23. 

8 Fish's Diary, June 17, 1870. C. F. Adams, Treaty of Washington, p. 221. 

* Destruction and Reconstruction, p. 265. Wellington received from 
Parliament a pension of 2000 a year for three lives when made a lord in 
1809 ; in 1812, 2000 more ; in 1813 his field-marshalship brought him 7000 
a year aside from his pay as commander in the field. When made a duke in 
1814 Parliament gave him 500,000 and after Waterloo, a mansion and estate. 


to rate highly the possession of money and to admire 
extravagantly the men who had a talent for its acquisi- 
tion. 1 It was for this reason that he appointed Stewart 
and welcomed the money-makers, giving them the entree 
of the White House. 

When Lowell was in Washington during March 1870 
he saw the President and made an acute judgment. 
" I liked Grant," he wrote, " and was struck with the 
pathos of his face ; a puzzled pathos as of a man with 
a problem before him of which he does not understand 
the terms." 2 It was by no means Grant who was the 
most to blame, but the Republican party and the country 
for literally forcing upon him a place for which he was 
unsuited 3 and which only a man of supreme virtue like 
Washington could have refused. He was chosen presi- 
dent on the theory which came in with Jackson that 
any American citizen is fit for any position to which he 
is called, that special training for administrative work 
is unnecessary, and that the practical man is invariably 
to be preferred to the reader of books. 

In the same year with Grant another President was 
inaugurated the President of Harvard College, Charles 
W. Eliot who protested against the prevalent theory. 
In his inaugural address on October 19, 1869 he said : 
" As a people, we do not apply to mental activities the 
principle of division of labor ; and we have but a halting 
faith in special training for high professional employ- 
ments. The vulgar conceit that a Yankee can turn his 
hand to anything we insensibly carry into high places 
where it is preposterous and criminal. We are accus- 

1 Boutwell's Reminiscences, vol. ii. p. 205 ; private conversation with Gen- 
eral Cox, July 8, 1893 ; with Judge Hoar Oct. 4, 1893. 2 Letters, vol. ii. p. 56. 

8 " I did not want the presidency," said Grant in 1879, " and have never 
quite forgiven myself for resigning the command of the army to accept it ; 
but it could not be helped. I owed my honors and opportunities to the 
Republican party and if my name could aid it I was bound to accept." 
Around the World with General Grant, J. R. Young, vol. ii. p. 452. 


tomed to seeing men leap from farm or shop to court- 
room or pulpit, and we half believe that common men 
can safely use the seven-league boots of genius. What 
amount of knowledge and experience do we habitually 
demand of our law givers ? What special training do 
we ordinarily think necessary for our diplomatists ? . . . 
This lack of faith in the prophecy of a natural bent and 
in the value of a discipline concentrated upon a single 
object amounts to a national danger." It does not fall 
within my province to tell of President Eliot's services 
to education and his influence on the college and school 
curricula of the whole country during his thirty-seven 
years 1 of office, but I should mention in this connection 
that he has been a consistent advocate of the doctrine 
that special training is required for special work and 
that to him, more than to any other one man, is due the 
immense change in public opinion upon this subject since 
the era that began with Jackson and ended with Grant. 
"Iteration and re-iteration," writes A. V. Dicey, "are 
a great force ; when employed by a teacher of genius 
they may become an irresistible power." 2 For seven and 
thirty years President Eliot has preached the necessity 
of training to a people who stood much in need of such 
a gospel ; and as a measure of the influence that he must 
latterly have exerted I may mention the undoubted fact 
that for twelve years past no public addresses, save those 
of the Presidents of the United States themselves, have 
been so widely read throughout the whole country as 
have those of President Eliot. 

The forced resignation of Secretary Cox gave an im- 
petus to civil service reform which was increased by 
the results of the elections of 1870. For the first time 
since 1864, the Republicans lost their two-thirds major- 
ity in the House, their number falling from 172 to 138 
and their majority from 101 to 35. The Democrats also 

1 Written in 1906. a Law and Opinion in England, p. 127. 


made a gain of four seats in the Senate. 1 Grant in his 
message of December 5, 1870 called for " a reform in the 
civil service." " The present system," he said, " does 
not secure the best men, and often not even fit men for 
public place. The elevation and purification of the 
civil service of the Government will be hailed with 
approval by the whole people of the United States." 
A timely article of General Cox published in the North 
American Review for January 1871 attracted the atten- 
tion of Congress, through a distinct reference to it by 
Trumbull in a speech in the Senate. "Our civil service 
as it exists," declared Cox at the outset, " is little better 
than a nuisance. . . . The larger part of the time of 
the President and all the members of his cabinet is 
occupied" with dealing out the offices. " It forms liter- 
ally and absolutely the staple of their work. Diplomacy, 
finance, military, naval and internal administration are 
the minor affairs which the settled policy of the country 
has relegated to such odds and ends of time as may 
be snatched from the greater cares of office. . . . The 
members of Congress do not escape from similar bur- 
dens." 2 The war-cry " To the victors belong the spoils " 
has had the same effect upon our politics as " the cry of 
< Beauty and booty ' upon an army entering a captured 
city." The remedy " is to apply to the civil service com- 
pletely and thoroughly, the plain principles of common 
business administration " ; to adopt the rule that " ad- 
mission to the civil service " shall be only " upon the 
results of a competitive examination open to all and 
dismission only upon ascertained failure of capacity or 
character." 3 

Jenckes in the House had long been advocating his 

1 Tribune Almanac, 1871, 1872. 

2 Garfield wrote in the Atlantic Monthly for July 1877, p. 61, "one-third 
of the working hours of senators and representatives is hardly sufficient to 
meet the demands made upon them in reference to appointments to office." 
Cited by D. B. Eaton in his report, p. 24. 3 pp. 82, 85, 89, 97, 98. 


bill providing competitive examinations for entrance 
into the civil service and Schurz during the winter of 
1870-1871 moved a similar measure in the Senate. 
Neither of these passed but, through the efforts of 
Trumbull and Jenckes, a provision was incorporated in 
an Act making appropriations for sundry civil expenses 
of the Government, [approved March 3, 1871] which 
authorized the President to prescribe such rules and 
regulations for the admission of persons into the civil 
service of the United States as will best promote the 
efficiency thereof " and further authorized him to appoint 
a Commission to establish regulations for the purpose 
of ascertaining " the fitness of each candidate ... for 
the branch of service into which he seeks to enter." 
Of this Commission George William Curtis, who was 
an earnest advocate of this reform, was appointed chair- 
man. The Commission recommended a series of rules 
which sincerely and faithfully carried out would have 
placed our civil and consular services upon a basis of 
merit, determined by competitive examinations for en- 
trance and by conduct in office, and would have brought 
political assessments to an end. By a special message 
of December 19, 1871 the President announced to Con- 
gress that he had adopted these rules and would put 
them into effect on the coming first of January. " I 
ask," he said, " for all the strength which Congress can 
give me to enable me to carry out the reforms in the 
civil service recommended by the commission." l Con- 
gress was not favourable to the reform and grudgingly 
made two appropriations for the Advisory Board [gen- 
erally called the Civil Service Commission], which was 
prescribed in the rules and was indispensable to carry 
them out, but in the end refused to give it the necessary 
means. 2 Grant was sincere but not earnest. Had he 

1 Richardson, vol. vii. p. 156. 

2 Members of the Commission at times served without compensation. 


put the same force into civil service reform that he did 
into San Domingo annexation he could have obtained 
the necessary money from Congress and carried out the 
rules, as he would have had a strong public sentiment 
at his back. But as George William Curtis wrote in 
1879, " The rules recommended to President Grant, and 
adopted by him, were never effectively carried into 
practice at any point of the service." l 

The senatorial clique who were Grant's stanch sup- 
porters in his Southern policy, in the San Domingo 
scheme, and in the deposition of Sumner, and who 
mainly controlled the policy of the administration, were 
opposed to civil service reform. Morton said, " I be- 
lieve that the civil service of this government now is 
conducted as well as any civil service in the world 
where there are an equal number of clerks employed." 2 
Conkling was bitter in his opposition. The most 
striking of his utterances on the subject," writes An- 
drew D. White, " was in one of the State conventions, 
which, being given in his deep sonorous tones ran much 
as follows : < When Doctor-r-r Ja-a-awrisori said that 
patr-r-riotism-m was the 1-a-w-s-t r-r-refuge of a scoun- 
dr-r-rel he ignor-r-red the enor-r-rmous possibilities of the 
word r-refa-awr-rm ! ' " 8 Chandler and Cameron looked 
with contempt upon " the new-fangled notions." Sher- 
man and Edmunds are sometimes included in this sena- 
torial clique but they were not through-thick-and-thin 
supporters of Grant. These two indeed were statesmen 
of a high order, not politicians of the stamp of Conk- 
ling, Chandler and Cameron. Carpenter was in the 
main an administration senator and an opponent of 
civil service reform ; like Conkling, he often failed to 

1 Introduction to D. B. Eaton's Civil Service in Great Britain, p. vii ; see 
also Life of Curtis, Edward Cary ; The Progress of Civil Service Reform, 
Lambert, pamphlet. 

2 Life of Morton, Foulke, vol. ii. p. 216 ; Jan. 12, 1871, Globe, p. 460. 
8 Autobiography, vol. i. p. 171. 


make the best use of his undoubted ability. Fortu- 
nately there were jealousies among the cabal or its 
power at the back of the President might have been 
almost irresistible. " Conkling, Carpenter and Ed- 
munds," wrote Morton to his wife, " hate Sumner but 
they hate me more." 1 

Butler, who apparently had more influence with the 
President than any other member of the House was a 
spoilsman of the lowest order and a resolute upholder 
of the " scheme of congressional patronage " which 
Grant found well established on his induction into 
office. Republican representatives controlled the local 
appointments in their own districts, Republican sena- 
tors many of the important offices in their respective 
States and, in the main those in Democratic congres- 
sional districts. In accordance with the so-called 
" courtesy of the Senate " the Republican senators 
from any State determined whether nominations to 
offices in that State should be confirmed or rejected, 
since on this point they could count on the support of 
all the senators of their own party. 2 

To make a breach in this well-intrenched system re- 
quired earnest and persistent work, an incessant ham- 
mering at each vulnerable point. In war Grant would 
have found such a problem quite to his liking ; and if 
we recall what Hayes and Cleveland later accomplished 
for the reform of the civil service against great odds, we 
shall see how easy it would have been, comparatively, 
for Grant from his strong vantage-ground to overpower 
the spoilsmen of his own party. But he had not the 
root of the matter in him. How lightly he held his 
earlier intentions for civil service reform may be seen by 
comparing the enunciations in his messages of Decem- 
ber 5, 1870 and December 19, 1871 with the opinion he 

1 May, 1871. Life of Morton, Foulke, vol. ii. p. 178, note. 

2 Life of Morton, Foulke, p. 210. 


pronounced two years after the close of his second 
administration [April 1879] when he said : " I think 
our government is honestly and economically managed, 
that our civil service is as good as any in the world that 
I have seen and the men in office are men, who as a rule 
do their best for the country and the government. . . . 
I was anxious when I became President to have a civil 
service reform broad enough to include all that its most 
earnest friends desired. I gave it an honest and fair 
trial, although George William Curtis thinks I did not. 
One reason perhaps for Mr. Curtis's opinion may be that 
he does not know as much about the facts as I do. 
There is a good deal of cant about civil service reform 
which throws doubt upon the sincerity of the move- 
ment." 1 

Even more disappointing than Grant's failure in 
civil service reform was his failure in developing a 
liberal Southern policy. Here great things had been 
hoped for. His report to President Johnson in 1865, 
his general attitude, the " Let us have peace " of his 
letter of acceptance, his intervention in Virginia and 
Mississippi soon after his inauguration, all led people to 
believe that he would perform the great work of pacifica- 
tion of the South. But Morton, Conkling, Chandler, Cam- 
eron and Butler, perhaps also Sherman and Edmunds, 
were eager for Republican electoral votes and congres- 
sional representation from the Southern States; and 
to these ends a military occupation was essential 
wherever the Republican party still had a fighting 
chance. So the Grant of Appomattox, instead of 
following the line of conciliation there so nobly begun, 
threw himself into the arms of the Republicans who 
advocated the stern repression of Southern discontent. 
But in this important matter it is clear that he was 
misled ; that he was sound in intention is implied in the 

1 J. R. Young, Around the World with General Grant, vol. ii. p. 264. 


utterances that follow. " I will not allude unkindly to 
General Grant," said Benjamin H. Hill, February 18, 
1874. " However much wrong he may have done other- 
wise, we, in Georgia, owe him a debt of which I have 
personal knowledge and I shall never speak of him 
unkindly." l " In looking back now over the interven- 
ing years," wrote General John B. Gordon, " I am glad 
that I have never been tempted in the heat of political 
contests, even while the South was enduring the agony 
of the carpet-baggers' rule to utter one word against 
that great and magnanimous Union soldier." 2 Grant 
later reverted to his original generous attitude. " I feel 
that we are on the eve of a new era," he wrote shortly 
before his death, " when there is to be great harmony 
between the Federal and the Confederate. I cannot 
stay to be a living witness to the correctness of this 
prophecy ; but I feel it within me that it is to be so. 
The universally kind feeling expressed for me at a time 
when it was supposed that each day would prove my 
last, seemed to me the beginning of the answer to * Let 
us have peace.' " 3 

The congressional leaders, who so powerfully influ- 
enced Grant and who obviously rated the apparent and 
transitory interest of their party higher than the wel- 
fare of the country, found it easier to carry elections at 
the North by harping upon the " rebellion " and " rebels " 
than to undertake the real work of reform. The 
failures and scandals of Grant's two administrations 
were largely due to the easy pardon obtained, in accord- 
ance with Republican ethics, for any sort of rascality 
committed by one who was " sound on the main ques- 
tion," which meant being pledged to universal negro 
suffrage and the continued subjection of the Southern 
States. Dr. Johnson's apophthegm might well have 

1 Life and Speeches, p. 413. 2 Reminiscences (1903), p. 461. 

8 Personal Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 563. Grant died on July 23, 1885. 


been quoted against Conkling himself, for patriotism in 
the ranks of the dominant party was now become al- 
most synonymous with traducement and abuse of the 
South. The disappointment with Grant during 1871 
and the first part of 1872 was keen and led to a move- 
ment for reform wnich I shall defer relating until I have 
told of the uprising in favour of good government in 
New York City a striking manifestation of the fact 
that reform was in the air. 

When Grant was inaugurated, New York City was 
under as despotic a rule as Paris : one despot was the 
Emperor Napoleon III, the other was Boss Tweed. The 
Empire in France and the Republic in America had led 
to similar results in the chief city of each country but 
the advantage lay with the empire. Paris looked like 
a well-governed city. Good order prevailed ; the streets 
were clean ; there were conveniences for getting about ; 
and, though living was dear, the citizen seemed to be 
receiving almost the worth of his money. Old streets 
had been widened and new ones laid out ; beautiful 
and imposing edifices had been erected. In all these im- 
provements, there had undoubtedly been considerable 
stealing, yet, under otherwise good administration and 
good administrative traditions, enough money had been 
properly applied to produce a splendid result. In 1867, 
Paris had welcomed the world to her Exposition and the 
American who went thither from New York must have 
blushed at the thought of his country's ill-kept, ill-regu- 
lated metropolis, where neither orderly nor decent mu- 
nicipal conditions obtained. Dirty streets, slow and 
crowded street cars and stages and dear cabs were the 
rule. Improvements were indeed made and public edi- 
fices erected but a large part of the money appropriated 
did not go into them and incompetence and slovenly work 
went hand in hand with dishonesty. Louis Napoleon 
liked to apply thus the words of Augustus, I found Paris 
a city of brick and left it one of marble, but Tweed, 


despite his colossal impudence, never ventured such a 
boast. Living was dear and conditions, except for the 
rich, were generally hard. In short New York was a 
great money-making centre which did not know how to 
care for itself. 

New York City was governed by four men, A. Oakey 
Hall, the Mayor, Peter B. Sweeny, the Treasurer of both 
city and county, Richard B. Connolly, the Controller, 
and William Marcy Tweed, the President of the Board 
of Supervisors and also member of the State Senate. 
Tweed was born in New York in 1823 of Scotch parents. 
His father brought him up to the trade of chair-making 
but politics attracted him early and he entered on that 
career as a volunteer fireman, becoming the foreman of 
the Americus or Big Six Fire Company and an efficient 
ward politician. When twenty-nine years old he was 
elected as a Democrat to the National House of Repre- 
sentatives but served only one term. Better suited to 
his talents than legislation was municipal administration 
which he steadily pursued until he became chief of the 
robbers who governed New York. In 1869 the New- 
York taxpayers knew that they were being plundered 
but they were apparently helpless. The theory that a 
democracy will not submit long to a notoriously corrupt 
rule might have been illustrated, had not the ring been 
maintained in power by the intricate political machine 
of Tammany Hall, of which Tweed was Grand Sachem. 
Tammany Hall was devoted to the poor, to the lower 
million. It provided work for the able-bodied, fed the 
hungry and took care of the sick. Its protecting arm 
was thrown round the newly arrived Irish immigrant. 
For all this paternal care it demanded and obtained the 
votes of its clients on election day. Tweed had a leader 
and sub-leaders in each ward, a captain in each election 
district ; these were his henchmen and vote getters. At 
the height of his power, besides having about him a 
mass of retainers who held superfluous offices, he paid 


out of his own pocket about $60,000 a year to others 
who were selected for special political work. He was 
a tyrant. A failure on the part of a henchman to deliver 
the necessary votes was punished by abrupt dismissal. 1 

In spite of his machine his power would have been 
endangered had he permitted honest elections ; so, to 
remove all possible doubt of the result, he had recourse 
to illegal naturalizations, false registration, repeating of 
votes and cheating in the count. Little difficulty was 
had in carrying the city election as, according to the 
State census of 1865, there were 51,500 native and 
77,475 naturalized voters ; 2 but elated at his uninter- 
rupted success Tweed aspired to the control of the 
State in order to rivet his power more firmly on the 
city. In 1868 a governor was to be chosen and Tam- 
many Hall secured the Democratic nomination for John 
T. Hoffman, one of its own creatures who had been 
mayor three years under the Tweed regime. Hoffman 
was a man of some ability and enjoyed a certain degree 
of popularity with respectable men ; and, though it 
could not be denied that he was associated officially with 
a gang of thieves, it was generally supposed that he 
himself took none of the plunder. Outside of New 
York City and Brooklyn, New York State was strongly 
Republican and could be depended on to give Grant a 
large vote. It was charged, probably with truth, that 
Tweed and his associates held back the returns in New 
York City and Brooklyn until those from the remainder 
of the State were in, so that it might be know r n how 
many votes were needed to carry it for Seymour and to 
elect Hoffman. 8 Ten thousand majority was counted 
for Seymour, nearly 28,000 for Hoffman. Tweed and 
his ring, in partnership with Gould and Fisk, owned 
three corrupt judges, Barnard, Cardozo, and M'Cunn 

1 History of Tammany Hall, Myers, p. 272. 2 Myers, p. 250. 

3 The Nation, Nov. 5, 1868, p. 361. 


who were useful in various ways, one of them being to 
naturalize newly arrived immigrants without regard to 
the limitations of the law. Before the election of 1867, 
when Hoffman was chosen a second time for mayor, the 
Courts turned out citizens at the rate often of one 
thousand daily. 1 

Having elected their governor in 1868, the Democrats 
next year obtained a majority of the legislature ; being 
now in possession of the State government Tweed 
determined to secure a city charter more favourable for 
his operations. It was said that he spent a million 
dollars in bribing members of the legislature for their 
votes, the money being employed indiscriminately 
among Republicans as well as Democrats. Six hundred 
thousand dollars went to a lobbyist to buy members. 
Five Republican senators were paid 840,000 each for 
their votes and influence ; six others received $10,000 
each. The vote for the charter was 30 : 2 in the Senate, 
116:5 in the Assembly 2 [passed April 5, 1870]. The 
legislature had 18 Democrats and 14 Republicans in the 
Senate, 72 Democrats and 56 Republicans in the 
Assembly. The very name of this act, the Tweed 
charter, ought to have caused it to be universally con- 
demned as an infamous job; yet the press in the main 
approved it, the Citizens' Association of New York 
memorialized the legislature in its favour and a num- 
ber of men of wealth and character in the city signed a 
petition for its adoption. 8 By this charter New York 
City, bound hand and foot, was delivered over to Tweed 
and his ring, for it was provided that the city's finances 
be placed entirely under the control of four officers, the 
mayor, the controller, the chairman of the department 

1 History of Tammany Hall, Myers, p. 250. 

2 Ibid., p. 272 ; Life of S. J. Tilden, Bigelow, p. 183 ; Appletons' Annual 
Cyclopaedia, 1870, p. 544. 

8 Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1870, pp. 543, 544 ; Frank J. Goodnow 
in Bryce's American Commonwealth, vol. i. p. 342. 


of public works, and the chairman of the park depart- 
ment. The mayor was A. Oakey Hall, known as 
" Elegant Oakey," a clubman eager for social distinction 
and a writer of verse and of tales in prose. He had the 
appointment of the other three members of this om- 
nipotent board who were Connolly, appropriately called 
"Slippery Dick," Tweed, and Sweeny, "a lawyer of 
education and ability, sombre and seclusive " whose 
middle initial B was written out " Brains " by Nast to 
imply that it was he who concocted the schemes of 
plunder. 1 The legislature that gave Tweed his charter 
authorized at the same session the ad interim Board of 
Audit which was so designated as to be made up of 
Hall, Connolly and Tweed and which was granted the 
" power to examine and allow all claims against the 
county previous to 1870." 2 New York County and City 
were coextensive but there were county as well as city 
officials ; thus the ad interim Board was an additional 
scheme for theft. 

The sole aim of the Tweed ring, under its various 
guises, was to steal the people's money and one of its 
favourite methods was to prompt the raising of accounts 
by those who did work for the city or furnished it with 
supplies. When for instance a man had a claim for 
$5000 he was approached by one of Connolly's agents 
who said, " We cannot pay this but make the amount 
155,000 and you shall have your money at once." The 
creditor thereupon raises the bill to $55,000, obtains a 
warrant for that amount and, on his indorsement of it 
over to one Ingersoll, receives five one-thousand-dollar 
bills. The remaining $50,000 are divided among the 
members of the ring. 3 This is an example of some of 
their most arrant stealing. The percentage taken in 
1869 was comparatively small ; in 1870 it reached 66 

Life of Naat, Paine, pp. 140, 143. * Goodnow, p. 344. 

New York Times, July 21, 1871. 


per cent and later 85 per cent. When the exposure came 
it was found that in one instance the Board of Special 
Audit had signed orders for six millions of which the 
city had realized barely 1600,000. Tweed received 24 
per cent and the remainder was divided among the con- 
federates on a regular scale. 1 The scheme of raising 
accounts yielded vouchers to the amount of $190,600 for 
rent of armories for the State militia which were really 
hired for 146,600; 185,500 more were charged to 
armories that were never occupied and 85000 to one that 
had no existence whatever. 2 Repairs included, armo- 
ries were represented to have cost the city $3,200,000, 
the actual expenditure on this account having been 
$250,000. 3 If Ingersoll's bill of chairs at five dollars 
each for armory furniture had set forth articles really 
supplied the chairs would reach seventeen miles if 
placed in line. 4 

The ring undertook the erection of a County Court 
House. They spent three millions on construction and 
showed on their books an expenditure of eleven millions. 
Garvey's bills for plastering and repairs on this Court 
House, which needed repairs before it was finished, and 
on other buildings as well, tell a part of the story of 
fraud. " Andrew J. Garvey the plasterer ! " writes 
Paine. " Generations of plasterers yet unborn will take 
off their hats to his memory ! $2,870,464.06 had he 
earned at his humble trade in the brief period of nine 
months." " Garvey is the Prince of Plasterers," said 
the New York Times. Earning $133,187 in the two 
shortest days of the year [December 20, 21] " his good 
fortune surpasses anything recorded in the Arabian 
Nights.' " 5 The plumbing bills for two years were 

1 Life of Tilden, Bigelow, vol. i. p. 185 ; New York Times, Nov. 1, 1871. 

2 New York Times, July 8, 1871. 

8 Report of Joint Committee, ibid., Oct. 28, 1871. 

* Ibid., July 26, 1871. 

5 Life of Thomas Nast, p. 175 ; New York Times, July 24, 1871. 

22 THE TWEED RING [1871 

enormous. Warrants to the amount of $350,000 were 
issued for carpets for the Court House, enough to cover 
the whole City Park three times ; 113,000 would have 
bought all that were necessary. We cannot answer, 
said the New York Times, what became of the rest of 
the carpets but Boss Tweed's son has just opened the 
Metropolitan Hotel with gorgeous carpets and furniture. 1 
The widening of Broadway between 34th and 59th 
streets was another piece of jobbery ; members of the 
ring and their friends bought property which would 
either be required or sustain damage and in the pur- 
chases or awards of damages by the city, received ex- 
cessive amounts. 2 Tweed and his associates were 
engaged in a number of enterprises which were used 
to rob the tax-payers. They owned an insignificant 
newspaper which printed corporation advertisements, a 
printing company that enjoyed a monopoly of the city's 
business, and two banks ; they were interested in In- 
gersoll & Co., chair and furniture factories, and in a 
manufacturing stationer's establishment. 8 

The literature on the subject is full of these special 
instances of fraud. A so-called " joint committee " com- 
posed largely of taxpaying citizens investigated the 
city accounts and reported that immense sums had been 
paid for services not rendered, for materials not furnished 
and to employes unknown at the offices; that parties 
having claims and unable to get payment had assigned 
them over to persons connected with the departments 
who had in many instances, with the knowledge and 
co-operation of those appointed and sworn to guard and 
protect the public interests, fraudulently increased the 
amounts. The committee estimated that a private cor- 
poration of the same resources and disbursements would 

1 New York Times, July 23, 30, 1871. 

2 Goodnow, p. 346 ; New York Times, Feb. 24, 1871. 
8 New York Times, Aug. 10, 1871. 


have been carried on for one-tenth of what the city and 
county governments had cost in the last two years. 
In another report they said that " frauds and robberies 
of the most infamous character have been committed " 
and that the city debt was being doubled every two 
years. 1 The total stealings of the Tweed ring have been 
variously estimated at from 145,000,000 to $200,000,000. 2 
Tweed could not lay by a very large portion of his 
share of the booty. To safeguard his position and main- 
tain his power cost enormously and he was blackmailed 
at every turn. Vulgarly and recklessly extravagant, he 
moved from a modest house on Henry Street to a man- 
sion on Fifth Avenue where he gave his daughter an 
extravagant wedding. The girl received $100,000 worth 
of gifts, among them fifteen diamond sets, one of which 
cost $45,000, and her wedding dress cost $5000. 8 Nast's 
cartoons during 1871 show the fifteen- thousand-dollar 
diamond worn conspicuously by Tweed. 4 He spent a 
fortune on his country house and stables at Greenwich, 
Connecticut. 5 In connection with that place a story is 
told significant of his character. Pointing to a statue, he 
asked the contractor, Who is that ? " That is Mer- 
cury the god of merchants and thieves " was the reply. 
" That's bully," said Tweed, " put him over the front 
door." 6 Tweed was " a drinking, licentious Falstaff " 7 
and must have found a sympathetic companion in 
James Fisk who used to drive about town in a coach- 
and-four with a batch of harlots. 8 Tweed and Sweeny 
were made directors of the Erie Railway and Tweed's 
Erie profits were large. In return Gould and Fisk were 

1 New York Times, Sept. 12, Oct. 10, 28, 1871 ; Report No. 3, Oct. 9, 
Official Proceedings ; New York Tribune, Aug. 23, 29, Oct. 10. 

2 History of Tammany Hall, Myers, p. 297 ; Life of Nast, Paine, p. 176. 

3 May 31, 1871. New York Times. 

* Life of Nast, Paine, p. 158. 6 Myers, p. 280. 

6 The Last Quarter-Century, Andrews, vol. i. p 13. 

7 Life of Nast, Paine, p. 143. The Nation, Nov. 9, 1871, p. 301. 


given at Albany the legislation which they asked for 
and were constant recipients of favours from the city 
government. 1 

At the beginning of 1871 Tweed and his ring were at 
the height of their power. At the previous November 
election Hoffman had been re-elected governor and Hall, 
mayor. Nast in an effective cartoon shows Hoffman in 
royal ermkie seated on a throne, a crown on his head, 
and behind him Tweed with a sword labelled " Power " 
and Sweeny with a headsman's axe. Behind Tweed 
appears the jovial, vulgar face of Fisk whilst the guards 
at the left are two Irish " plug-uglies." Beneath is the 
legend, " The Power behind the throne. He cannot 
call his soul his own." 2 So elated was Tweed at hav- 
ing obtained possession of the city and State that he 
now aspired to the control of the national government 
and Hoffman was put forward as the Democratic candi- 
date for the presidency in 1872. Between the Novem- 
ber election of 1870 and April 1871, no man, strange as 
it may appear, was so prominently mentioned for the 
Democratic nomination ; and this, too, at a time when 
the Democrats, certain of New York's electoral vote, 
seemed to have a good chance of electing their candidate. 
Nast had already formed Hoffman's cabinet. In the 
centre of the cartoon Tweed is pictured as the real 
potentate while in the rear Hoffman has shrunk to half 
his size. Sweeny is Secretary of State, Connolty has 
the Treasury, and Fisk the Navy Department ; Hall is 
Attorney -General. 3 

1 Myers, p. 266 ; Henry Adams, The New York Gold Conspiracy, p. 328. 

2 Life of Nast, Paine, p. 155. 

* Ibid., p. 183 ; The Nation, April 15, 1871, p. 252. Hoffman's career is 
one of the curiosities of our politics. Hailed as the future President in Jan. 
1871, he was ruined politically by the end of the year because of his connection 
with the Tweed ring. I have two striking personal impressions of Hoffman. 
In the winter of 1866 I used frequently to see him at an early morning hour 
walking down Broadway on his way to the City Hall. Tall and erect, under 
forty and in full physical and mental vigour, he presented a distinguished 


Although the voice of the New York City press was 
pretty generally hushed because of the large amount of 
city advertising it is one of the glories of the Fourth 
Estate that the downfall of the Tweed ring was effected 
by two of its representatives. The references in the text 
and notes have already indicated to whom the honour is 
due. The New York Times and Thomas Nast in 
Harper's Weekly were the forces which finally overthrew 
this seemingly invincible power. Toward the end of 
1869, Nast satirized the partnership between Hoffman, 
Tweed, Sweeny, Connolly, " O.K. Haul," Gould and " Jim 
Fisk." They are pictured as a smiling contented com- 
pany, the large chest of " Tax-payers' and Tenants' Hard 
Cash," open before them being the cause of their glee. 1 
In 1870 the New York Times began its hard and well- 
directed blows. George Jones was its proprietor and 
Louis J. Jennings, an Englishman, its editor, and the two 
were a remarkable combination of energy, fearlessness, 
and sureness of aim. During 1870 and the first half of 
1871 their attacks were based on suspicion and moral 
evidence only. Most well-informed and hard-headed 
men felt sure that Tweed and his associates were steal- 
ing large amounts of the people's money but the ring 
had defenders in the press and in men of high standing. 

appearance and was looked at with interest, as he passed with long elastic 
strides. He was regarded as one of the coming men of the nation. To an 
admiring audience I heard him in a graceful little speech introduce Schuyler 
Coif ax when he delivered his lecture "Across the Continent" [Dec. 28, 
1866 when Hoffman was mayor-elect]. Hoffman had the air of the very 
successful man who is well satisfied with himself and confident that affairs in 
general are working for his advantage. Twenty years later I saw him at the 
Schweizerhof in Lucerne. Accompanied by his wife he was driving through 
Switzerland ; and in this hotel, full of his own countrymen, he sat neglected, 
probably shunned by many. The light was gone from his eyes, the vigour from 
his body, the confidence from his manner ; consciousness of failure brooded 
in their stead. He had not become dissipated. Great opportunities missed : 
this was the memory that racked him, body and spirit, and left him nerveless 
and decrepit, inviting death. 
1 Life of Nast, Paine, p. 139. 


The great question was, Could their guilt be proved ? 
So strongly was the ring intrenched ; so carefully 
guarded all avenues to exposure that it seemed a well- 
nigh impossible task. Nevertheless Jennings's vigorous 
articles caused the confederates some alarm and they 
offered Jones one million dollars for silence but this offer, 
which of course was refused, only whetted his purpose 
and the attack went on with more spirit than ever. 1 

Somewhat concerned at the observed effect on public 
sentiment, the ring secured shortly before the election 
of 1870 an indorsement from respectability and wealth. 
John Jacob Astor, Moses Taylor, Marshall 0. Roberts and 
three other rich men spent six hours in the controller's 
office, made an examination of the books and the securi- 
ties in the sinking fund and listened to the assurances 
of Connolly and his subordinates, afterwards publishing 
this statement, " We have come to the conclusion, and 
certify that the financial affairs of the city, under the 
charge of the controller, are administered in a correct 
and faithful manner." They made out the debt less 
than it was and the sinking fund more. It was said 
that this report was the result of a threat from the city 
officials to raise enormously the assessments on these rich 
men's large holdings of real estate. Nast condensed 
their certificate to " Report of the New York City debt 
by Slippery Dick. All O.K. Correct, signed by J. J. 
Astor, Marshall O.Roberts, Moses Taylor." In his cartoon 
he put the faces of these men on the bodies of three mice, 
whose tails had been cut off by a trenchant blade, called 
sharp editorials." Underneath was written : " Three 
blind mice ! See how they run ! The Times cut off 
their tails with a carving knife." 2 

1 Life of Nast, Paine, p. 153 ; The Nation, Nov. 23, 1871, p. 334. 

2 Harpers Weekly, July 22, 1871 ; Life of Nast, Paine, p. 144. The 
Astor report was dated Nov. 1, 1870, New York Times, Nov. 7, 1870, Jan. 
13, Nov. 17, 1871 ; New York World, Nov. 6 ; Tribune, Nov. 7, 1870 ; History 
of Tammany Hall, Myers, p. 277. 


On Christmas day 1870, Tweed gave $50,000 to the 
poor of his ward and $1000 dollars each to the alder- 
men of the various wards to buy coal for the needy. 
After this, many said, " Well if Tweed stole, he was at 
least good to the poor." l As a matter of fact, he was 
using an old device to throw dust into the eyes of un- 
thinking men. For it was the poor and the men of 
moderate means who were directly or indirectly mulcted 
by Tweed's stealings; rich men and corporations sub- 
mitted to the ring's blackmail and in return their taxes 
were assessed on a valuation far below the real value of 
their property. 2 These benefactions to the poor were a 
prelude to enormous schemes of plunder which Tweed 
and Sweeny carried through the legislature that met in 
January 1871. 3 " There is absolutely nothing in the 
city," declared the New York Times February 24, 1871, 
" which is beyond the reach of the insatiable gang who 
have obtained possession of it. ... The legislature is 
completely at their disposal." 4 It was proposed to 
erect a statue to Tweed for his services to the commu- 
nity and a good start had been made in raising the nec- 
essary money by subscription when Tweed declined the 
honour. 5 

The day of retribution was at hand. The first mis- 
fortune to Tweed and his confederates was a fatal in- 
jury to Watson, the county auditor, as the result of a 
sleighride accident [January 24, 1871]. As long as there 
was hope for his recovery the ring did all that was 
possible for him in the way of medical skill and nurse's 
care and when it became certain that he would die a 

1 New York Times, Jan. 3, 1871 ; Myers, p. 276. 

2 The Nation, Feb. 8, 1872, p. 82. 

3 New York Times, Jan. 23, May 1, June 9, 1871. They lost power before 
they could carry out these schemes. 

4 Cited in Life of Nast, Paine, p. 167. Verified by the Times. 

6 Myers, p. 278 ; Life of Nast, Paine, p. 159 ; The Nation, Mar. 16, 30, 
1871, pp. 171, 210. 


number of thugs known as " Tweed's lambs " barri- 
caded the house and prevented all access to Watson 
lest an awakening conscience should bid him betray the 
secrets of the ring. 1 Watson had charge of widening 
and straightening Broadway and his death left the plans 
and accounts in embarrassing confusion. Nast pic- 
tured Tweed and Sweeny studying intently a city map 
in which Broadway is prominent and Boss Tweed saying 
" To make this look straight is the hardest job I ever had. 
What made Watson go sleighriding ? " 2 

Irritated at the attacks of Nast, Tweed gave orders to 
his Board of Education to reject all bids from Harper 
and Brothers for school books ; and some members of 
the Harper firm fearing great injury to their business, if 
they held out against the powerful ring, favoured a 
change of policy but Fletcher Harper insisted that " the 
fight against these scoundrels " go on, and go on it did. 3 

The awards made in the process of the Broadway 
widening job were set aside by Act of the Legislature. 
" Each successive step taken by the ring," said the New 
York Times February 24, 1871, " for the purpose of cov- 
ering up their tracks in connection with the Broadway 
widening job only tends to reveal more closely the mag- 
nitude of the scheme they had concocted for plundering 
the city. Their last act of calling upon one of the 
judges to discharge a grand jury while engaged in the 
legitimate business one might add, the high duty 
of investigating a conspiracy to defraud the city gov- 
ernment betrays their guilty connection with the job." 

Still no tangible evidence appeared and Jones and 
Jennings, Nast and Fletcher Harper must often have felt 
discouraged when they thought how barren of results 
their long-continued efforts had been. They had thor- 

1 Watson died on Jan. 30, 1871, New York Tribune. 

2 Life of Nast, Paine, p. 160 ; New York Tribune, Feb. 6 ; Times, Feb. 24, 
1871 ; Myers, p. 283. 8 Life of Nast, Paine, p. 168. 


oughly informed the public, so far as their knowledge 
went, but they had not been able to rouse it to action. 
In fact it was not clear in what way action could be 
taken. On April 4, 1871, William E. Dodge, William 
F. Havemeyer, Henry Ward Beecher and William M. 
Evarts were the spokesmen at a meeting in Cooper In- 
stitute which protested against the bills the ring was forc- 
ing through the legislature. But the bills were passed 
and Tweed asked, " Well, what are you going to do 
about it ? " Nast showed the true state of the case by 
a cartoon picturing New York City under Tweed's 
thumb. 1 But at last the much-desired evidence was 
obtained : it came from the inside. James O'Brien, ex- 
Sheriff and leader of the " Young Democracy," had 
secured the appointment of a protege of his, Copeland, 
as a clerk in the controller's office, who by his orders 
made transcripts of the accounts. Later, O'Brien, hav- 
ing quarrelled with the ring, called one summer's night 
on Jennings while he was engaged in his editorial writ- 
ing for the morrow. " Warm evening," said O'Brien. 
" Yes, hot," was the reply. " You and Nast have had a 
hard fight." " Have still," answered Jennings. O'Brien 
pulled a roll of papers from an inner pocket saying : " I 
said you have had it. Here are proofs of all your 
charges exact transcriptions from Dick Connolly's 
books. The boys will likely try to murder you when 
they know you've got 'em just as they've tried to mur- 
der me." 2 A little later one O'Rourke, who had on 
the death of Watson been made county book-keeper 
brought to Jennings similar transcripts. 

That Jennings had possession of the accounts soon 
became known to the ring ; and the usual tactics were 
employed. A lawyer, a tenant in the Times building, 

1 Life of Nast, Paine, p. 163. 

a Interview with L. J. Jennings, M.P. London World, 1887, cited in Life 
of Nast, Paine, p. 168. 


sent word to Jones that he wished to see him on an 
important matter in his own office. Repairing thither 
and being ushered into a private room Jones was con- 
fronted by Controller Connolly. Jones turned to go, 
saying, "I don't want to see this man." "For God's 
sake," exclaimed Connolly, "let me say one word to 
you " ; and he then offered Jones five million dollars to 
forego the publication of the accounts. " I don't think," 
said Jones, " the devil will ever make a higher bid for 
me than that." Connolly pleaded, argued and pictured 
the delights of rest, travel and luxurious living. " Why 
with that sum," he declared, "you can go to Europe 
and live like a prince." " Yes," answered Jones, " but I 
should know that I was a rascal. I cannot consider 
your offer or any offer not to publish the facts in my 
possession." 1 

On July 8, 1871 the New York Times began the pub- 
lication of the accounts. As issue after issue appeared 
with the damning disclosures supported by pointed edi- 
torials explaining their meaning and calling upon the 
city to realize its great shame, the citizens of New York 
knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that they had been 
governed by a gang of common thieves and they cried out 
for redress. Democrats not connected with Tammany 
Hall joined in the cry. Nast supplemented the work 
of the Times with one of his most effective cartoons. 
The four conspirators are in front and eleven other men 
complete a circle. The question is, as put by the Times, 
" Who stole the People's Money ? " " 'Twas him," is 
the reply, and Hall indicates Connolly with his thumb, 
Connolly points to Sweeny and Sweeny to Tweed, who 
still retaining his complacent and insolent smile points 
to Ingersoll of the chairs ; and so on round the circle, 
the plasterer, the carpet manufacturer, the carpenter, the 
furnisher of gas pipes, the dealer in awnings and 

1 Harper's Weekly, Feb. 22, 1890. Life of Nast, Paine, p. 170. 



the seller of furniture point each to his neighbour. 
Finally " John Smith " points to Tom, Dick and 
Harry " and the Old Board to the New, who com- 
pletes the circle with the forefinger directed at Hall. 
" Let's stop those pictures," exclaimed Tweed on seeing 
this cartoon. " I don't care so much what the papers 
write about me my constituents can't read; but they 
can see pictures." Nast was offered $500,000 to stop his 
caricatures and go to Europe ; he refused the bribe and 
continued his work. 1 

Hall and Connolly attempted a defence; its inade- 
quacy and falsity were pointed out by the Times in 
stinging words. Still the four head men of the ring 
thought that, if they lay low, the storm would blow 
over. 2 

But the storm that began soon after July 8 steadily 
gathered force. At the earliest possible day in the 
autumn September 4, 1871 a great mass meeting 
was held in Cooper Institute and an overflow meeting 
outside which condemned the ring, called for reform 
and appointed a committee of 70 to carry out their 
resolves. 8 

After this meeting the ring, already greatly alarmed at 
Jones's refusal of their bribe, were thrown into a veri- 
table panic. Tweed, Sweeny and Hall laid their heads 
together, and the result of this little conference was a 
plan by which Connolly should be made the scapegoat 
of the whole party. Hall asked the supervisors and 
aldermen to appoint a joint committee 4 of themselves 
and citizens to examine the controller's accounts. Eight 
officials and sixteen taxpayers constituted this com- 
mittee arid the taxpaying citizens dominated it. 5 They 

1 Life of Nast, Paine, p. 179. 2 Times, passim July and August. 

8 New York Times, Sept. 6. 

4 Known as the Joint Committee or Booth Committee. 
6 Official proceedings ; New York Tribune, Aug. 31. The Committee or- 
ganized on Sept. 6. 


fixed upon September 11 as the day when their examina- 
tion should begin. On the previous evening all the 
county vouchers and cancelled warrants for 1869 and 
1870 especially desired by the committee as covering 
the work on the Court-House and the furnishing of it, 
were stolen. 1 Hall asked Connolly to resign because of 
this theft. Connolly aware of the treachery of his con- 
federates refused to resign, writing, " I am unable to 
submit myself a vicarious sacrifice." 2 

Connolly now consulted William F. Havemeyer and 
Samuel J. Tilden who advised him to appoint as deputy 
controller, Andrew H. Green, a Democrat of high char- 
acter. Hall removed Connolly so as to dispose of Green 
but Tilden obtained an opinion from Charles O'Conor, 
the celebrated Democratic lawyer, which affirmed the 
validity of Green's possession thereby thwarting the 
design of ejecting him under colour of judicial process. 3 

The reformers now had the controller's office so far 
in their own hands that they could obtain facts on 
which to base a criminal prosecution. Tilden and 
O'Conor wrought with energy and on October 27 had 
Tweed arrested and held to bail in the sum of $1,000,000, 
which was furnished, Jay Gould being his chief bonds- 
man. 4 The election of November 7 completed the over- 
throw of the ring. The Republicans carried the State 
securing a good majority in the legislature while the 
Reform candidates in the city were generally successful. 
Tweed was the only Tammany senator elected ; he had 
boasted that he would receive 30,000 majority but he 
actually obtained only one-third of it. Sweeny im- 
mediately resigned from the Board of Park Commis- 
sioners. Connolly gave way to Green as controller and 

1 New York Times, Sept. 12 ; Life of Nast, Paine, p. 186. 

2 Times, Sept. 13. 

8 Ibid., Sept. 17-19. Life of Tilden, Bigelow, vol. i. p. 192. 
4 Times, Oct. 27, 28 ; Life of Nast, Paine, p. 192 ; History of Tammany 
Hall, Myers, p. 289. 


on December 28 Tweed relinquished his office. 1 Hall 
however held on to his office until the expiration of his 
term [December, 1872]. 

There were many indictments, trials and attempts to 
convict the different members of the ring ; but, though 
a few contractors and lesser officials were sent to 
prison, Tweed was the only one of the chief robbers to 
share their fate. Sweeny and Connolly fled to Europe 
with money enough to live in luxury. 2 Judges Barnard 
and M'Cunn were impeached and removed from office 
whilst Cardozo to avoid impeachment resigned. 8 

In December 1871 Tweed was indicted for felony 
but was released on a paltry bail by Judge Barnard. 
He was tried twice in 1873 ; once the jury disagreed ; 
the second time they found a verdict of guilty. He 
was sentenced to twelve years' imprisonment and to pay 
a fine of $12,000. After one year in prison he was 
released on a legal technicality by a decision of the 
Court of Appeals. Civil suits were brought against 
him and he was re-arrested, his bail being fixed at three 
millions. Unable to obtain this he lay in prison but in 
December 1875 escaped. In hiding for a time in New 
Jersey he found his way to Brooklyn whence he went 
to Florida on a schooner, then in a fishing smack to 
Santiago de Cuba. There he was arrested but he again 
escaped and taking refuge on the Spanish bark Carmen 
reached Vigo, Spain. In Spain he was again arrested 
and turned over to a United States man-of-war which 
brought him to New York on November 23, 1876 ; he was 
again put in prison. Apparently he had little money 
left and could no longer escape the clutches of the law. 
On April 12, 1878 he died in the Ludlow Street jail. 4 

1 New York Times, Nov. 8, 9, 12, Dec. 30, 31 ; The Nation, Nov. 9, p. 297. 

2 New York Times, Nov. 26, Dec. 17, 1871, Jan. 1, 2, Feb. 4, 11, 1872 ; 
History of Tammany Hall, Myers, p. 296. Sweeny afterwards compromised 
for $400,000 and returned to New York. Goodnow, p. 360. 

* Myers, p. 292 ; Life of Nast, Paine, p. 336. 


Few contrasts in politics are so striking as that in 
New York City between January and December 1871. 
The Tweed ring had been dislodged from a position ap- 
parently unassailable and its members, now seen in 
their true character as criminals, were being prosecuted 
or fleeing from justice. Unfortunately, as is apt to be 
the case, the work of reconstruction was not so thorough 
as that of destruction. Much energy was spent in the 
effort to obtain a new charter, 1 the fact being ignored 
that the provisions of the Tweed charter of 1870 were 
in themselves " for the most part sound and wise, accord- 
ing in principle with the most advanced modern theory 
of municipal administration." 2 A single change only in 
system or laws was necessary to secure the indispensable 
requisite of honest and capable men for the administration 
of city affairs. William F. Havemeyer, a Reformer, was 
elected mayor in 1872 but two years later Tammany Hall 
was again successful. Since that time New York has suf- 
fered many vicissitudes. It has had several honest 
and competent mayors and some good government. But 
the good is not permanent. With but these few intermis- 
sions power has been in the hands of inefficiency and cor- 
ruption, varying in degree, though never so flagrant as 
under Tweed. And the reason is that the reformers of 1871 
missed a golden opportunity to strike at the root of the 
evil. Tweed had maintained himself by the suffrages of 
ignorant men, who had no stake in the community. 
The remedy was a restriction of right of suffrage to those 
qualified for it by education and by property. What 
would have followed upon such a reform is easy to see. 
Illegal naturalization would have been stopped ; no 
foreigner would have been allowed to vote without the 
five years' residence in addition to the other qualifica- 
tions. There would have been no more false registration, 

1 An act for a new charter passed the legislature but was vetoed by the 
governor, New York Times, April 19, May 1, 1872. 

2 Goodnow, p. 342. 



no ballot-stuffing, no dishonest counts. Men of educa- 
tion and property, seeing that their votes were of weight, 
would have better attended to their civic duties and, 
knowing that their money was properly spent, would 
have been less prone to evade payment of taxes. Under 
such a reform, men of honesty and ability would be 
chosen for the city offices, and, as the amount of available 
administrative talent is large, the government of New 
York City would be as good as that of any city in Great 
Britain or Germany. 

The obstacles in the way of such a reform are great 
indeed, though by no means insurmountable. At the 
time of the uprising in 1871 a restriction of the suffrage 
in New York might have been accomplished had all the 
energy of reformers been directed to that end. Even 
then it would have been extremely difficult, for the 
country was bowed down in adoration of the theory 
that voting was a right, not a privilege. If universal 
suffrage be necessary in this country for the protection 
of the liberty of the individual and to give the ignorant 
and the shiftless a certain standing in the community, 
these ends are effectively served by the privilege of 
voting for the President and members of Congress. The 
management of our cities is purely a business matter, 
and so, for the most part, is that of our States. There is 
therefore no sound reason why any man should partici- 
pate in the election of city or State officials, of members 
of the common councils and State legislatures unless 
he can fulfil moderate requirements as to education 
and property. For the greatest good of the greatest 
number the rule of an intelligent minority is, in city 
and State affairs at least, preferable to the rule of an 
unintelligent democracy. 1 

The disaffection to Grant of which I have spoken 

1 See A. V. Dicey, Law and Opinion in England, p. 160. 


led in 1872 to a revolt against him in his own party 
which is known as the Liberal Republican movement. 
This movement really began in 1870 in Missouri, where 
the Republican party split on the question of removing 
the political disabilities of those who had sided with the 
South during the Civil War. Carl Schurz headed the 
wing favouring re-enfranchisement which nominated B. 
Gratz Brown for governor and, receiving the support of 
the Democrats, was successful in the autumn election. 1 
Assuming the name of Liberal Republicans, they met in 
convention at Jefferson City on January 24, 1872 and 
invited all Republicans, who were opposed to the admin- 
istration and in favour of reform, to meet in national 
mass convention at Cincinnati on the first Wednesday 
of the following May. The movement received a power- 
ful support from the Chicago Tribune, Cincinnati Com- 
mercial and Springfield Republican, and a more guarded 
approval from The Nation and the New York Evening 
Post. These were all Republican journals or indepen- 
dent with a Republican leaning. The Louisville 
Courier-Journal, Democratic, gave enthusiastic support, 
the New York World, conditional. The New York 
Tribune was opposed to Grant but the declaration of 
the Missouri Liberal Republicans for " a genuine reform 
of the tariff " prevented its endorsement of the move- 
ment with which it was otherwise in sympathy. Let 
that question be left aside, said the Tribune, substantially, 
during March and we will " go to Cincinnati " ; 2 some- 
what later Greeley, its editor, signed the response of the 
Liberal Republicans of the East to the Western invita- 
tion. 3 In February General J. D. Cox, Judges Stanley 
Matthews, Hoadley and Stallo of Ohio announced their 

1 The Fusion legislature which was chosen sent Frank P. Blair to the 

2 Life of Bowles, Merriam, vol. ii. p. 178 ; Tribune, March 16 ; The 
Nation, April 4, p. 209. 

3 Printed in the Tribune of March 30 ; The Nation, April 4, p. 209. 


adhesion to the movement as did Senator Trumbull in 
March, and Governor Blair of Michigan and Governor 
Palmer of Illinois in April. Frank Bird, Edward Atkin- 
son and General W. F. Bartlett of Massachusetts were 
favourable but Sumner remained silent. 

Grant's renomination was inevitable. The Republican 
machine, the senatorial clique, nearly all the leading 
senators and representatives, the Republican news- 
papers, except those named, and the mass of the party 
preferred him to anybody else, so that as the situation 
developed, it became clear that the Cincinnati conven- 
tion, to justify its existence, must make an independent 
nomination. Meanwhile the movement gained rapidly in 
strength until in April it seemed not altogether unlikely 
that a ticket nominated by the convention and accepted 
by the Democrats would carry the country. 1 Charles 
Francis Adams, Greeley, Trumbull, Sumner and Judge 
Davis were suggested as candidates for the presidency. 2 
As early as February, Nast pictured " H. G. the editor " 
offering the nomination to Horace Greeley the farmer, 
who is found in the field, guiding the plough and rejoic- 
ing in the name of Cincinnatus. 8 One week before the 
convention assembled, the Springfield Republican, while 
preferring Adams, said that either Sumner, Greeley or 
Trumbull would be a proper nomination. 4 

A large mass meeting on April 12 in Cooper Institute, 
New York emphasized the growing importance of the 
movement and the element most affected by it. " We 
believe," said The Nation, " it was the most densely 
packed meeting which ever met there. All approach 

1 The Nation, Jan. 4, March 21, pp. 4, 180. 

2 Life of Bowles, Men-lam, vol. ii. p. 180 ; The Nation^ March 14, 21, 
pp. 162, 181. 8 Life of Nast, Paine, p. 223. 

* Life of Bowles, Merriam, vol. ii. p. 180. I do not find that The Nation 
ever suggested Greeley for President, but, if I understand the article cor- 
rectly, it did make a tentative suggestion of the ticket, Trumbull and Greeley, 
March 14, p. 162. 


within fifty yards of the entrance was next to impossible 
in the early part of the evening, so great was the crowd 
in the street. . . . The audience was composed of that 
sober, thoughtful middle class, equally removed from 
wealth and poverty, which one has seen in the same 
room on all great occasions since 1860, such, in short as 
was there at the first emancipation meeting in 1862 
and at the reform meeting of last spring." Senators 
Trumbull and Schurz were the speakers. Trumbull 
made " a strong, clear, but unadorned statement of the 
charges brought by the promoters of the new move- 
ment against the administration " ; and Schurz employed 
" that powerful and telling rhetoric of which he is now 
the greatest master in America." 1 

The preliminary success of the movement was what 
wrecked it in the end. As appearances pointed to a 
triumph of the Liberal Republicans in the election, 
disappointed politicians made haste to join them. Sen- 
ator Morton, at a Grant meeting in Cooper Institute on 
April 17 at which he and Wilson were the chief speakers, 
said that the regular Republican convention to be held 
in Philadelphia had been called "an office-holders' con- 
vention " ; but he was sure that there would be more 
office-seekers at Cincinnati than office-holders in Phila- 
delphia. 2 Especially noticeable were the office-seekers 
among the New York men who were bent towards Cin- 
cinnati. Senator Fenton, the chief of these, had no 
more real love of reform than Conkling. But in the 
division of the patronage of the State the President had 
favoured Conkling at the expense of alienating Fenton. 
The two senators came together in open opposition at 
the State Republican convention of 1871 and Conkling 
carried the day. The success of his ticket at the 

1 The Nation, April 18, p. 249. 

2 Life of Morton, Foulke, vol. ii. p. 256 ; New York Tribune, April 18, 



autumn election made him supreme in the State and 
drove Fenton into the ranks of the opposition where 
he worked in harmony with his close political friend 
and associate, Greeley. 

The pre-convention canvass showed that the men who 
were to meet together in Cincinnati would agree in their 
declaration of principles on everything except the 
tariff ; thus the candidate, rather than the platform, was 
the matter of chief concern. It became evident that 
those who had inspired the noblest part of the move- 
ment could support consistently either Sumner, Trum- 
bull or Adams. Under Surnner they could have gone 
down to defeat with dignity and without an excuse or a 
regret for having given him their support. He had been 
an early advocate of civil service reform. 1 He would 
have been a peace-maker in the presidential office and 
he would have sought reconciliation with the South. 
But failing health practically forbade his being seriously 
considered. 2 

So the enlightened choice lay between Trumbull 
and Adams. Trumbull was an excellent senator and, 
though his true place was in the Senate, he would have 
been a satisfactory candidate. Adams possessed execu- 
tive ability and all other requirements as well. He was 
the strongest candidate that could be named, the one 
most feared by the supporters of Grant and most ac- 
ceptable to the Democrats. In a letter written to David 
A. Wells [April 18] six days before his departure for 
Europe to attend the Court of Arbitration in Geneva 
he made it evident, despite an unfortunate expression, 
that he was an ideal candidate for the sincere reformers 
who were the real strength of the Liberal Republi- 
can movement. "I do not want the nomination," he 
wrote, " and could only be induced to consider it by the 

1 Pierce, vol. iv. p. 191. 

2 See Pierce, vol. iv. p. 532 ; Julian's Political Recollections, p. 860. 

40 ADAMS'S LETTER [1872 

circumstances under which it might possibly be made. 
If the call upon me were an unequivocal one, based upon 
confidence in my character earned in public life ; and a 
belief that I would carry out in practice the principles 
which I professed, then, indeed would come a test of my 
courage in an emergency ; but if I am to be negotiated 
for, and have assurances given that I am honest, you 
will be so kind as to draw me out of that crowd. With 
regard to what I understand to be the declaration of 
principles 1 which has been made, it would be ridiculous 
in me to stand haggling over them. With a single ex- 
ception of ambiguity I see nothing which any honest 
Republican or Democrat would not accept. Indeed I 
should wonder at any one who denied them. The diffi- 
culty is not in the professions. It lies everywhere only 
in the manner in which they are carried into practice. 
... I never had a moment's belief, that when it came 
to the point any one, so entirely isolated as I am from 
all political associations of any kind, could be made 
acceptable as a candidate for public office ; but I am so 
unlucky as to value that independence more highly than 
the elevation which is brought by a sacrifice of it. ... 
If the good people who meet at Cincinnati really believe 
that they need such an anomalous being as I am (which 
I do not) they must express it in a manner to convince 
me of it, or all their labor will be thrown away." 2 

The manly independence of the letter ought to have 
won Adams the nomination and his attack on a com- 
mon political practice was well worth considering. With 
the doctrine of " principles not men," which was much 
emphasized in ante-bellum days, had grown up the prac- 
tice of framing platforms of national political conven- 

1 Probably that made by the Liberal Republican convention at Jefferson 
City, Missouri, Jan. 24. Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1872, p. 552. 

2 Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1872, p. 777. This letter was printed in 
the newspapers before the convention. Bowles, who thought it would help 
Adams, gave it to the public. Life by Merriani, vol. ii. p. 181. 


tions almost solely with a view to catching votes. Much 
ingenuity was employed in giving to resolutions a word- 
ing susceptible of two very different constructions. What 
might be represented by a campaign orator as a virtual 
promise to some doubtful State or section of the country 
was often followed by a string of vague and general 
declarations for civil service reform and the like, the aim 
of which was to attract independent voters who wished 
to see our politics lifted to a higher plane. 1 Of these 
last, little or nothing was heard after the election. Thus 
when Adams said that good professions were easy and 
good practice difficult, he implied that the main issue 
should be the elevation to office of honest, capable and 
high-minded men. 

Wednesday, May 1 was the day fixed for the meeting 
of the Cincinnati convention. But on the previous 
Monday the politicians had begun to assemble and 
prominent among them was Senator Fenton. Present 
also were the five independent editors Murat Halstead 
of the Cincinnati Commercial, Horace White of the 
Chicago Tribune, Henry Watterson of the Louisville 
Courier- Journal, Samuel Bowles of the Springfield 
Republican and Whitelaw Reid of the New York Trib- 
une whose earnest and patriotic writings had been a 
potent influence in forwarding this independent move- 
ment that seemed to presage a new era in American 
politics. Halstead, Bowles, Watterson and White (of 
whom the three first named were openly in favour of 
Adams) wrought together in perfect sympathy. They 
believed that a scheme was laid between New York and 
Illinois for the nomination of Judge David Davis who 
had an itching for the presidency and had allowed him- 
self to be nominated by the Labour Reformers, upon a 
platform which made even his silent consent a grave 

1 General Sherman wrote July 16, 1872, " As to platforms and parties, of 
course I regard these as more traps to catch flies. " Sherman Letters, p. 338. 


indiscretion. It seemed as if the very air of our 
Supreme Court was tainted with the presidential mania. 
Colonel N. P. Chipman, a delegate to Congress from the 
District of Columbia, 1 wrote in March to Nast : " David 
Davis, Field and Chief Justice Chase are really the 
only members [of the Supreme Court] that have the 
fever at all. Nelson would have but he is too old now." 
Nast drew a picture of Chase and Davis in their judicial 
robes on the bench, the Chief Justice giving his asso- 
ciate this admonition, 

" Mark but my fall and that that ruined me. 
Judge Davis, I charge thee, fling away ambition." 3 

Believing that the nomination of Davis would be 
" fatal to the integrity of the convention," Halstead, 
White, Bowles and Watterson protested against it in 
their journals of Tuesday morning [April 30] and suc- 
ceeded in thwarting the project. Fen ton, who was 
supposed to be prominent in this intrigue, returned 
home 3 but apparently his influence was still exerted 
through his henchmen for much of the Davis strength 
was transferred to Greeley. 

On Wednesday, May 1 the mass convention met. In- 
stead of delegates formally chosen by States and Con- 
gressional districts, the mass of men that had assembled 
were unaccredited ; but the correspondent of The Nation, 
wrote, " I doubt indeed whether a more respectable, 
honest, intelligent, public-spirited body of men was ever 
got together for a similar purpose." 4 It was provided, 

1 The right of such quasi-representation was lost later. 

2 Life of Nast, Paine, pp. 232, 234. Although Chase had a stroke of 
paralysis in Aug. 1870 "he pulled some wires" for the Cincinnati nomi- 
nation. Life of Chase, Hart, p. 413 ; Warden, p. 728. 

3 Life of Bowles, Merriam, vol. ii. p. 184 ; New York Tribune, April 30, 
May 1 ; Chicago Tribune, Springfield Republican, April 30. Cincinnati corre- 
spondence, The Nation, dated May 4. The New York Tribune of May 4 
denied that Fenton had anything to do with the scheme. 

* May 9, p. 303. 


according to the usual plan of national conventions, that 
each State should be entitled to two votes for each of its 
senators and representatives; and, as from some States, 
there were more volunteers than necessary to fill the 
delegations and from others not enough, it was still 
further provided that an excess delegation should choose 
from among themselves the requisite number of dele- 
gates, whilst an incomplete delegation might cast the 
full vote of their State. The first mistake came early 
in the proceedings. Schurz was made permanent presi- 
dent of the convention ; by which act the man who had 
done more than any other to further this auspicious 
movement was removed from the place where he was 
most needed. He had shown that he was fitted for 
political leadership ; and on the floor, as advocate and 
manager, he might conceivably have got the convention 
to declare for a platform and a candidate that would 
have satisfied the demands both of expediency and of a 
high political morality. 1 In his speech on taking the 
chair he plainly designated Adams, though without 
mentioning his name, as the most suitable candidate for 
the presidency. 

With one exception the address and platform were all 
that could be desired. The address arraigned Grant 
and his partisans severely for their failings. The plat- 
form, in laying down the policy to be pursued towards 
the South, demanded " the immediate and absolute 
removal of all disabilities imposed on account of the 
rebellion " and local self-government for the States. It 
regarded " a thorough reform of the civil service as one of 
the most pressing necessities of the hour." The resolu- 
tion out of keeping with the high aims and determined 
spirit of the movement was one dictated by Greeley. 

1 Schurz has been spoken of so frequently in this and my earlier volumes 
that a characterization of him here is unnecessary. In a brief biographical 
sketch in Warner's Library of the World's Best Literature, vol. xxii. p. 12,974, 
I have given my idea of his life and character. 

44 BALLOTING [1872 

Recognizing," it said, that there are in our midst 
honest but irreconcilable differences of opinion with re- 
gard to the respective systems of protection and free 
trade, we remit the discussion of the subject to the 
people in their congressional districts and to the deci- 
sion of Congress thereon, wholly free from executive 
interference or dictation." This was adopted by the 
committee on Resolutions only after an all-night session 
and the convention was seemingly well satisfied with 
this disposition of the sole matter of disagreement. 
Contemporary observers affirm that the compromise 
was necessary and inevitable ; 1 but it is more exact to 
say that it was the price paid for the support of Greeley 
and the New York Tribune and, though that powerful 
support was well worth bidding for, the price paid was 
too high, even when regarded as purely a matter of 
policy. Not since the Civil War had there been so 
earnest a demand for reduction of the tariff ; not again 
for eighteen years was there to occur so favourable an 
opportunity to test that sentiment at the polls. 

Still it was a platform on which Adams or Trumbull 
might stand with entire consistency. On Friday [May 
3] the balloting began. On the first ballot Adams had 
203, Greeley 147, Trumbull 110, Gratz Brown 95, David 
Davis 92 and there were also votes for Governor Curtin 
and Chase. At first Brown was not present at the 
convention but efforts, which were made to secure the 
Missouri delegates for Adams, were represented to him 
by telegraph as a betrayal of himself. Accompanied 
by Frank P. Blair he hastened to Cincinnati bent on 
revenge. After the first ballot a note was sent up to 
the chair, and Schurz, after reading it, rose to say that 
a gentleman who had received a large number of votes 
was present in the hall and desired to make a statement 
which courtesy required that the convention should hear. 

1 See New York Tribune, May 4, 6, 7 ; Springfield Republican, May 4. 


Brown slowly mounted the stairs of the platform and, 
after an exchange of greetings with the presiding officer, 
announced that he withdrew from the contest as he 
" desired the nomination of the man most likely to w r in," 
who in his opinion was Horace Greeley. At this New 
Yorkers, New Jersey men, Vermonters, and Southerners 
cheered loud and long. Schurz left the chair to appeal 
to the Missouri delegation to cast their votes for Adams. 
He resumed it and the balloting went on. The second 
ballot showed the result of Brown's effort. Greeley had 
245 to Adams's 243. Still Adams regained the lead on 
the third ballot and kept it until the sixth when he re- 
ceived 324 to Greeley's 332. 

Eight thousand people were in the convention hall on 
that day. The noise, hubbub and excitement were a 
gratifying delight to the adroit politicians who, cool and 
self-possessed, were using their arts to sway the dele- 
gates, most of whom were entirely unused to political 
engineering, in favour of "the philosopher" and "friend 
of humanity." " Anybody to beat Grant " had been a 
watchword but Schurz in his speech as president had 
deprecated it. " Away with the cry < Anybody to beat 
Grant,' " he said "a cry too paltry, too unworthy of 
the great enterprise in which we are engaged." In the 
state of panic which the convention reached during the 
sixth ballot the old idea must have come uppermost in 
the minds of the delegates. Brown's appeal had moved 
them ; the wire-pullers were ever at work ; so here, at 
the height of their distraction, was an obvious inference 
held up before their very noses. Who, indeed, was so 
likely to beat Grant as Horace Greeley? The slight 
lead he received on the sixth ballot was the signal for a 
rush to the rising man. Delegation after delegation 
changed its vote and, on the final announcement the 
result was Greeley 482, Adams 187. Gratz Brown was 
then nominated for the vice-presidency. 

Greeley's was a preposterous nomination. Thoroughly 


honest himself he had nevertheless been long associated 
with the worst set of politicians in the State of New 
York outside the Tammany ring. 1 The convention had 
been made the dupe of those very methods against 
which its assembling was a protest. And this time the 
victorious machine stopped nowhere short of complete 
conquest. In the regular party conventions one group 
ordinarily gets the platform, another the presidential 
candidate and still another the candidate for the vice- 
presidency. But here Greeley dictated the platform 
resolution on the only point at issue, received the nomi- 
nation for President and Brown, who had withdrawn 
in his favour, was his associate on the ticket. A tariff 
reform convention yielded one of its cardinal points for 
harmony's sake and then nominated the most extreme 
protectionist living. 

Grant's attitude towards civil service reform was 
more friendly than Greeley's. Grant had periods of 
faith when he made sincere endeavours in the cause. In 
January of this year, perhaps under the influence of the 
Liberal Republican movement, he was aiming at a better 
administration. George William Curtis, who it will be 
remembered was chairman of the Civil Service Com- 
mission, wrote from Washington to Nast, " The Presi- 
dent is fully in earnest about the civil service but his 
6 friends ' [meaning undoubtedly the senatorial clique 
and Butler] are bitterly hostile." 2 But now a real civil 
service reform convention nominated " a gentleman 
whose whole nature revolts against tests, who hates the 
very name of 'discipline,' who despises all training and 
has a low opinion of experience and whose life has been 
in a large measure devoted to the glorification in all 
human concerns of the Rule of Thumb." 8 

1 The Nation, May 9, p. 300. 

2 Jan. 13, Life of Nast, Paine, p. 216 ; but see editorial in The Nation, 
Jan. 11, p. 20. 3 The Nation, May 16, p. 317. 


On only one of the three cardinal points, the policy 
to be pursued towards the South, was Greeley in sym- 
pathy with the promoters of the Liberal Republican 
movement. Even here his agreement had not been 
complete for, though strongly in favour of universal 
amnesty, he had no less ardently advocated the Enforce- 
ment and Ku-Klux bills. 1 

Halstead, White, Bowles and Watterson were griev- 
ously disappointed at the result of their efforts but 
decided to give the Cincinnati ticket their support. 
Bowles wrote in a private letter of May 11 : " There 
was a fate above logic and superior to reason that 
brought about Greeley's nomination. . . . The contest 
will be between Greeley and Grant and we shall all go 
for Greeley and he will be elected. . . . Greeley has 
magnificent qualities and has done more for political 
reform and social reform, Republican advancement and 
Democratic elevation than any man living. Then he has 
more first-class weaknesses than any man, too. There 
are risks in taking him, but compared to the benefits, 
they don't begin to be as great as those under Grant." 2 
Grant in the end received the support of The Nation and 
the New York Evening Post. 

Schurz and the men who had co-operated with him, 
were, with the exception of the Brown clique, bitterly 
disappointed. Schurz, J. D. Cox, William Cullen Bryant, 
Oswald Ottendorfer [the editor and proprietor of the 
New Yorker Staats-Zeitung who had done valiant ser- 
vice in the overthrow of the Tweed ring], David A. 
Wells and Jacob Brinkerhoff made an effort to put other 
candidates before the country which, however, came to 
nothing. 3 Stanley Matthews, who was temporary chair- 
man of the convention, wrote in a private letter, " I am 

1 New York Tribune, May 31, 1870, Feb. 27, 1871, May 1, 1872. 

2 Life of Bowles, Merriam, vol. ii. p. 210. 

8 Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1872, p. 779. 


greatly chagrined at the whole matter, my own partici- 
pation in it included ; and have concluded . . . that as 
a politician and a President-maker, I am not a success." l 

The administration Republicans received the nomina- 
tion with derision and were in high glee that Adams 
had not been named. The public in general, who had 
not realized that strenuous efforts were being made for 
Greeley but supposed that Adams or Davis would be 
the nominee, were astounded. Cool-headed political 
observers saw at once that there was little or no chance 
for the success of the Cincinnati ticket. 2 

Notwithstanding its lamentable conclusion the Lib- 
eral Republican movement was not without influence 
for the good. It undoubtedly gave a final impetus to 
the passage of a General Amnesty Act which Congress 
had been considering for more than a year. 8 

The glaring inconsistency of the proceedings at Cin- 
cinnati prevented their having any marked influence on 
the tariff legislation which was pending. The House of 
Representatives, elected in 1870, was a tariff reform 
body in spite of its Republican majority of 35. Elaine, 
the speaker, recognized this fact by making up the 
Committee of Ways and Means so that the tariff reformers 
should have a majority, which majority was composed 
of Finkelnburg, a Republican from Missouri, Burchard, a 
Republican from Illinois and the Democrats although 
Dawes, a protectionist, was chairman. 4 The possession 

1 Life of Chase, Warden, p. 732. Matthews in the end supported Grant, 
New York Times, Aug. 3, 1872. 

2 My authorities for this account are Life of Bowles, Merriam, vol. ii. ; the 
Week, the editorials and the correspondence from Cincinnati of May 4 in The 
Nation ; Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1872 ; History of the Presidency, 
Stanwood ; Elaine, vol. ii. ; Pierce, vol. iv. ; Life of Nast, Paine ; The Last 
Quarter Century, Andrews, vol. i. ; Life of Adams, C. F. Adams ; Proceed- 
ings of the Convention. See also correspondence, probably White, in Chicago 
Tribune, May 2, 4. 3 Approved May 22, ante. 

4 The committee was Dawes, Maynard, Kelley, Roberts, Republicans and 
protectionists ; Finkelnburg, Burchard, Republicans, Brooks, Kerr and Beck, 
Democrats, five tariff reformers. 


of this committee was an important advantage for the 
tariff reformers who could probably have carried the 
bill it reported through the House. But then there was 
the Senate to be reckoned with, which had become pro- 
tection's ever wakeful watchdog. In the end a compro- 
mise was arrived at which was expressed by two acts. 
What unfortunately amounted to a concession to the pro- 
tectionists was the act which originated in the House and 
was approved May 1 placing tea and coffee on the free list. 
Any legislation in accordance with the " free breakfast 
table " maxim only gave force to the protectionist idea 
that articles which we did not grow or manufacture 
should be admitted without duty ; and the redundant 
revenue aided them, as their act was a simple and sure 
way of reducing it. 

The revenue reform measure passed the House May 20 
and the Senate May 30. 1 This compromise was voted for 
by the moderate protectionists and most of the tariff re- 
formers, the protectionists fearing that if it was not 
accepted greater reductions would be made, and the 
tariff reformers feeling that it was a step in the right 
direction and the most forward one that at this time 
Congress could be induced to take. By this act there 
were placed on the free list, hides, jute-butts and paper 
stock ; " books which shall have been printed . . . more 
than twenty years at the date of importation ; . . . 
books, maps and charts specially imported not more than 
two copies in any one invoice " for literary or scientific 
societies or colleges; the professional libraries of men 
arriving here from abroad, and the books of persons and 
families from foreign countries which have been in use 
one year before being brought here. Shipbuilding ma- 
terials were admitted duty free for ships to be engaged 
in the foreign trade and not to be employed in the coasting 

1 On account of some differences the bill went to a Conference Committee 
and, as finally agreed on, was approved June 6. 


trade more than two months in any one year. The 
duty on salt was reduced one half, 1 that on bituminous 
coal reduced from 11.25 to 75 cents per ton. Duties 
were lowered on india rubber, tin, soda ash, leather 
arid other articles ; and a ten per cent, reduction was 
made in the tariff on all manufactures of cotton, wool, 
hair goods, india rubber, iron, steel and other metals 
except cotton machinery ; also on manufactures of paper, 
glass and leather. It was a good start in the direction 
of freer trade but for a variety of reasons, one of which 
was the entire repeal of the duties on tea and coffee, the 
movement did not proceed further during Grant's presi- 
dency. All the stamp taxes except those on checks 
were taken off. It is noticeable that the Income Tax 
was not renewed. 2 

The regular Republican convention met in Philadelphia 
on June 5. Many of the chief men of the party were pres- 
ent and the assemblage was one " fairly representative 
of the ordinary American voter." Negroes and Southern 
white Republicans were conspicuous and Judge Thomas 
Settle of North Carolina was chosen permanent presi- 
dent of the convention. The platform approved the 
work of the President and the Republican Congress, 
reciting the two glories of Grant's administration : 
" Despite annual large reductions of the rates of taxa- 
tion the public debt has been reduced during General 

1 Salt in bulk was reduced from 18 cents to 8 cents per 100 Ib. ; in sacks 
and barrels 24 cents to 12 cents. 

2 Taussig, Tariff History, p. 180 ; Stanwood, American Tariff Controversies, 
vol. ii. p. 178 ; The Nation, June 13, p. 382 ; Dewey, Financial History, p. 
397 ; the Act itself ; George F. Hoar, Autobiography, vol. i. p. 202. Dawes 
managed the Compromise tariff bill. Bowles wrote to him May 21 "You 
certainly have won a brilliant victory on the tariff. ... It is not statesman- 
ship and you know it. ... There is a better way of making a tariff than 
by a combination or compromise of all the cotton mills and woollen mills and 
sheep farmers and pin factories and coal mines of all the congressional districts 
of the land." Life by Merriam, vol. ii. p 212. In the House the ayes were 
77 Republicans, 72 Democrats, total 149 ; the noes 40 Republicans, 21 Demo- 
crats, total 61. In the Senate the vote was 49 : 3, 22 absent. 


Grant's presidency at the rate of a hundred millions a 
year ; " l " Menacing foreign difficulties have been peace- 
fully and honorably composed and the honor and 
power of the nation kept in high respect throughout 
the world." 2 Grant was unanimously nominated for 
President with great enthusiasm. One ballot decided 
the contest for the vice-presidential nomination. Henry 
Wilson received 3641 votes to 3211 for Colfax. Colfax 
in 1870 had written a letter saying that, at the end of his 
present term, he purposed to retire from public life : 
otherwise the ticket of 1872 would have been that of 
1868 ; but when, near the end of 1871, he said that he 
was willing to accept a renomination, the movement for 
Wilson had become formidable. 8 Wilson, who, as 
Lowell said, was " Cleon over again with a vengeance " 4 
was a hard man to beat. Moreover Colfax had given 
offence to the Washington newspaper correspondents 
and their influence was used against him. " There was 
unsubdued excitement in the press-gallery when it be- 
came evident that Wilson would be nominated on the 
first ballot, and several correspondents were to be seen 
swinging their hats, exchanging congratulations, asking 
each other, How about the Syndicate now ? and How 
that was for Schuyler ? " 5 

It was evident that Greeley had no chance whatever 
for election unless the Democrats endorsed his candi- 
dacy and gave him the support of their organization. 
The leading Democrats of the North, disgusted at his 

1 Between March 1, 1869 and March 1872, the debt was reduced 

3 This referred to Cuban affairs and the Treaty of Washington. The 
Geneva arbitration was still in the crucial stage. 

8 Life of Colfax, Hollister, pp. 360, 366. 

* Letters, vol. ii. p. 32. 

6 Phila. Corr. of The Nation, June 7, one of my authorities for this 
account. See also Blaine, vol. ii. ; Stanwood, History of the Presidency ; 
Appletons' Annual Cyclopedia, 1872 ; Life of Colfax, Hollister, pp. 373, 
411, 419. 


nomination, were at first averse from this but the South- 
erners took a different view. Indifferent to civil service 
reform and so poor that the high tariff was only a drop 
in the bucket of their misery, their one overmastering 
desire was to recover home rule, and to this Greeley 
stood pledged. Moreover their hearts had been touched 
by his signing the bail-bond of Jefferson Davis and they 
were the sort of men who never forgot an act of per- 
sonal kindness. In the two months intervening between 
the two conventions it became clear that no other Lib- 
eral Republican candidate would be substituted for 
Greeley and that the only possible hope of defeating 
Grant lay in the concentration of the opposition on the 
Cincinnati nominee. 

On July 9 the Democratic convention met in Balti- 
more. The Southern element was prominent. " The 
same sharp faces with which the war made so many 
Northerners acquainted for the first time," wrote the 
Baltimore correspondent of The Nation ; " the long hair ; 
the eccentric dress in which the waistcoat was apt to be 
conspicuous by its absence; the odd intonation, were all 
noticeable. One could see the old politicians who have 
so long been absent from national conventions, famous 
war-horses and eaters of fire, who used to take part in 
the conventions of the days before the deluge, when 
there was no North, and Arkansas gave the law to 
Massachusetts [sic] ; and who have since been states- 
men in the Confederacy, emigrants to Brazil, residents 
in Canada. There were old men curiously dressed in 
black clothes with large linen cuffs to their shirts, wear- 
ing the look of planters who have been ruined and are 
still somewhat in a maze over the citizenship of the 
negro, to say nothing of the prospect of voting for 
the editor of the incendiary Tribune instead of seeing 
' the boys ' burn him in effigy. Many of these were 
victims of the carpet-bagger apparently, and moved 
one's pity. . . . Perhaps the Northerners were inferior 


in appearance to their Southern associates, take them 
one with another. I believe the only out and out 
odious faces were on the shoulders of Northern men 
Democrats and Liberal Republicans ; and one might 
perhaps have proved physiognomically the position that 
if the most intellectual portion of the Democratic party 
of the North is not surpassed, and perhaps not equalled, 
in clear, intellectual force and keenness, by any portion 
of the Republican party, the rank and file of it, never- 
theless, does certainly include a greater proportion of 
ignorance and brutality than the rank and file of the 
Republicans. A higher general average of intelligence 
and character was I think discernible at Philadelphia 
than here ; and indeed there was no very successful 
representation of that intellectually able class which 
may be called the legal-minded constitutional Democracy, 
as distinguished from the negro-hating and office-seeking 
Democracy." l 

The convention by a vote of 670 : 62 accepted the 
Cincinnati platform ; by 686 to 46 scattering votes, 
nominated Horace Greeley for President, and by 713 : 19 
Gratz Brown for the vice-presidency. 2 

A distaste for Greeley 's candidacy impelled The Na- 
tion to enrich our political vocabulary. " Mr. Greeley," 
it said, " appears to be boiled crow ' to more of his 
fellow-citizens than any other candidate for office in 
this or any other age of which we have record. . . . 
The Free-Trade and Revenue-Reform Cincinnati men 
say he is boiled crow to them ; boiled crow he is to 
his former Republican associates ; and now the Demo- 
crats are saying . . . that to them also he is boiled 
crow." 8 This article gave rise to the expression, " to 
eat crow " which is thus defined by the Century Dic- 
tionary: "to do or accept what one vehemently dislikes 
and has before defiantly declared he would not do or 

1 July 18, p. 40. 2 Stanwood. 8 July 11, p. 17. 

64 "EATING CROW" [1872 

accept." l In all our political annals there is no such 
striking instance of " eating crow " as the nomination 
of Horace Greeley by the Democrats. No other Repub- 
lican writer or speaker had so vilified them ; indeed the 
gist of his abuse was popularly put thus : I do not say 
that all Democrats are rascals but it is undeniably true 
that all rascals are Democrats." 2 

Henry M. Stanley's return from his successful search 
after Livingstone in the interior of Africa was used by 
one of the humorists to emphasize the astounding fact. 
Five years' isolation from the civilized world had made 
Livingstone eager for news. Stanley told him of the 
Austro-Prussian war and Koniggratz, of the execution 
of Maximilian, of the Franco-German war, the down- 
fall of Napoleon III and the rise of the German empire ; 
and at last that the Democratic party had nominated 
Greeley for the presidency. " Hold on," Livingstone 
then says. " You have told me stupendous things, and 
with a confiding simplicity I was swallowing them 
peacefully down ; but there is a limit to all things, and 

1 One of the campaign songs ran : 

" There is a dish no cook-book names, 
And which no patriot cares to know, 
Which none but starving men will taste, 
A noisome victual called boiled crow ; 
This, Democratic leaders eat." 

The Nation, Oct. 10, p. 232. 

2 I quote this from memory. A search through the newspapers has not 
found it ; but the same idea is expressed in the New York Tribune of Jan. 4 
and Jan. 7, 1868. " We . . . asked our contemporary ( World) to state 
frankly whether the pugilists, blacklegs, thieves, burglars, keepers of dens of 
prostitutes, etc., etc. , who make up so large a share of our city's inhabitants, 
were not almost unanimously Democrats." " So every one who chooses to 
live by pugilism, or gambling or harlotry with nearly every keeper of a 
tippling house is politically a Democrat. ... A purely selfish interest 
attaches the lewd, ruffianly, criminal and dangerous class to the Democratic 
party by the instinct of self-preservation." These were quoted by Conkling 
in a speech in New York in July but I have had them verified from the 
originals. President Dwight is accredited with a similar remark in the 
Federalist days : "Although every Democrat is not a horse thief, it is quite 
certain that every horse thief is a Democrat." 


when you tell me that Horace Greeley is become a Demo- 
cratic candidate " I will be hanged if I believe it. 1 

General Sherman writing to his brother from the 
standpoint of Paris said : " I feel amazed to see the turn 
things have taken. Grant who never was a Republican is 
your candidate ; and Greeley who never was a Democrat 
but quite the reverse, is the Democratic candidate." 2 

After the Democratic convention it was patent to 
everybody that voters must choose between Grant and 
Greeley and many prominent men, who found the choice 
distasteful, finally declared for one or the other. Schurz 
and Trumbull announced their support of Greeley and 
made speeches in his favour. It was impossible for 
Sumner after his philippic of May 31 in the Senate 8 to 
give his adherence to Grant ; but he made no formal 
declaration until June 29 when, in a letter to a number 
of Washington coloured citizens, who had asked him 
for advice, he said that he should vote for Greeley who 
was " unquestionably the surest trust of the coloured 
people." 4 

The first indication of the final result came from the 
State election of North Carolina, then a doubtful State. 
This election took place on August 1 and the early re- 
turns caused great elation among the Greeleyites, which 
was soon checked by returns from the strong Repub- 
lican counties of the western part of the State, showing 
that the Republican candidate for governor had a ma- 
jority of 1899. Nor did the September elections in 
Vermont and Maine afford them any comfort. 

Notwithstanding these indications which seemed to 
confirm that early belief of his supporters and his 
opponents alike that Greeley was a candidate of exceed- 
ingly doubtful promise, it is nevertheless true that in 

1 The Nation, Aug. 8, p. 83. 

2 July 16, Sherman Letters, p. 337 ; see J. Sherman's reply, p. 338. 
8 Pierce, vol. iv. p. 523 ; Works, vol. xv. p. 85. 

4 Sumner's Works, vol. xv. pp. 175, 187. 


September and the first part of October a considerable 
degree of confidence was manifested in his election. All 
exertions were now directed towards Pennsylvania, 
Ohio and Indiana which held State elections on the 
second Tuesday of October. The political workers 
made an effort to have a " hard-cider and log-cabin " 
campaign and, raising the " old white hat and white 
coat " 1 for a banner, hoped to cheer and sing " the pic- 
turesque old champion " into the White House. Torch- 
bearers uniformed in oilcloth caps and capes turned out 
in large numbers singing to the air of the " Battle Cry 
of Freedom," " Greeley forever ! Hurrah, boys, hurrah ! " 
In September Greeley made a tour through the three 
October States, speaking to vast audiences in a number 
of cities and apparently arousing great enthusiasm. 2 At 
Pittsburg he presented with great force the only Liberal 
Republican tenet for which he stood, and which, apart 
from the personal question of candidates, was the only 
serious issue of the campaign. "They 3 talk about 
rebels and traitors," he said. " Fellow-citizens, are we 
never to be done with this ? . . . So far as I can see, 
every single demand made on the part of the loyal States 
and the loyal people has been fully complied with on 
the part of those lately in rebellion. Everything has 
been done that we asked ; everything has been conceded 
and still they tell us < Why we want them to repent.' 
Have they not brought forth works meet for repent- 
ance ? " The Southerners have given their assent to 
the Cincinnati platform, "the most intense, the most 
complete Republican platform that had ever been pre- 
sented by any national convention whatever." He 
appealed to the business men, merchants and manufac- 
turers of Pittsburg " to stop this war. You cannot 

1 Greeley's habitual garb. 2 New York Tribune, Sept. 20, 21, 24. 

8 Referring to the army and navy convention held in Pittsburg a fe 
days previous which had been engineered by the Grant party. 


afford," he continued, " to teach a part of your country 
to hate you, to feel that your success, your greatness is 
identical with their humiliation. ... I ask you to take 
the hand held out to you by your Southern brethren in 
their adoption of the Cincinnati platform . . . and say 
. . . < The war is ended, let us again be fellow-country- 
men, and forget that we have been enemies.' " l 

Elaine's excellent memory furnishes the following 
recollections of the campaign : Greeley's speeches were 
" chiefly devoted to his view of the duty and policy of 
pacification" and "presented his case with an ability 
which could not be exceeded and they added to the 
general estimate of his intellectual faculties and resources. 
He called out a larger proportion of those who intended 
to vote against him than any candidate had ever before 
succeeded in doing. His name had been honored for 
so many years in every Republican household that the 
desire to see and hear him was universal, and secured to 
him the majesty of numbers at every meeting. So great 
indeed was the general demonstration of interest, that a 
degree of uneasiness was created at Republican head- 
quarters as to the ultimate effect of his tour." 2 

The Democratic leaders in the main and the Demo- 
cratic organization stood loyally by Greeley. Ex-Sena- 
ator Buckalew and ex-Senator Hendricks, both men of 
ability and character, ran for governor on the Greeley 
ticket in Pennsylvania and Indiana respectively. New 
York, which had a close political as well as commercial 
connection with Pennsylvania and Ohio, put forward 
Francis Kernan, a pure, capable and popular man, to 
contest the governorship with General Dix whom the 
Republicans had drawn forth from his retirement. 
Members of Congress were to be elected and the Demo- 
crats and assistant Democrats (as some one dubbed 
the Greeley Republicans) nominated many candidates 

i New York Tribune, Sept. 20. 2 Vol. ii. p. 634. 

68 "GREAT TIDAL WAVE" [1871 

calculated to draw out the full vote : in some districts, men 
of wealth who were willing to spend their money in the 
chance of securing the honour of a seat in Congress. In 
Ohio the Germans who had generally been Republicans 
were counted as being largely in the Greeley ranks. 1 The 
Irish in the cities were supposed to be attracted by this 
pleader for the oppressed, the farmers of the West by 
the journalist who was their advocate and friend. 

A phrase in Greeley's letter to the Cincinnati conven- 
tion has become famous as a watchword of conciliation. 
" I accept your nomination," he wrote, " in the confident 
trust that the masses of our countrymen North and 
South are eager to clasp hands across the bloody chasm." 
Three other phrases constantly in the mouths of his sup- 
porters showed how high were their hopes of success. 
What would finally prevail, they said, was " the sober 
second thought " which implied the adherence of a large 
number at first opposed to his candidacy. The " great 
tidal wave " would sweep Grant and his party from 
power, or, changing the metaphor as one went beyond 
Ohio " the prairie fire was rolling on over the West." 
The Greeley party actually expected to carry Pennsyl- 
vania and Indiana at the October election and to keep 
down the majority in Ohio. But Grant's supporters 
worked like a disciplined army. Able speakers such as 
Morton, Conkling and Sherman defended the administra- 
tion, joined issue with their opponents on the Southern 
and other questions, and asserted that Greeley was unfit 
for the presidential office. 

On both sides it was a campaign of bitter personali- 

1 This defection was due primarily (I think) to a general dissatisfaction 
with the Grant administration. Whether or not the French Arms debate 
(Pierce, vol. iv. p. 504 ; Life of Morton, Foulke, chap, xi.) and the circum- 
stance which gave rise to it had anything to do with this defection I am not 
sure. Greeley personally repelled the Germans. Himself a teetotaller he was 
an aggressive advocate of total abstinence and at times favoured prohibitory- 
legislation. (Tribune passim 1852 and 1854; editorial of Nov. 12, 1867; 
Cyclopaedia of Temperance, article Greeley.) 


ties ; but these bore more severely on Greeley than on 
Grant for the reason that the Grant party had on their 
side Thomas Nast who entered the contest with energy 
unimpaired by his attack on the Tweed ring. Early in 
the year Nast had visited Washington where he had 
been made much of by the President and his friends, a 
personal attachment being thus formed, which strength- 
ened his political views. Greeley's face, figure, dress 
and manners lent themselves to caricature and at first 
Nast's portrayals were good-natured and perhaps justi- 
fiable ; but as the campaign grew hotter, the caricatures 
of Grant by Frank Leslie's artist so incensed Nast that 
he spared nobody in his cruel retorts. Sumner and 
Schurz began to figure in his cartoons. 1 Finally he 
drew a rebuke from George William Curtis who was 
the exponent of Grant's cause in the editorial columns 
of Harper's Weekly. "My dear Nast," he wrote on 
August 22, I did ask you not to caricature Sumner, 
Greeley, Schurz and Trumbull, because at that time I 
thought it was bad policy and I think so still ! The 
exact difficulty which I feel is this, that it is wrong to 
represent as morally contemptible men of the highest 
character with whom you politically differ. To serve 
up Schurz and Sumner as you would Tweed, shows, in 
my judgment, lack of moral perception. . . . There is 
a wide distinction between a good-humored laugh and a 
moral denunciation." 2 Nast's cartoons were certainly 
not needed to elect Grant, but they were extremely 
effective with the mass of the people, and in a close 
election might easily have turned the scale, so potent 
was ridicule against a man like Greeley whose personal- 
ity and the circumstances of whose candidacy presented 
a broad target to its shafts. 


1 Life of Nast, Paine, p. 230 et seq. It is perhaps unnecessary to say that 
Nast's cartoons were in Haider's Weekly. 

2 Life of Nast, Paine, p. 244. These cartoons were not stopped. 


Despite the tariff compromise of Cincinnati all the 
manufacturers were for Grant ; his was the better tariff 
party of the two. And practically all other business 
and financial interests were for his re-election. Business 
was good and men engaged in it were quite content 
with existing conditions ; moreover they greatly dis- 
trusted Greeley's judgment fearing his well-known 
erratic tendencies. This position was thus described 
by Bowles : " Money-bags are always and everywhere 
conservative. When you have proved to the busy 
wealth-seekers that the President has shown an indecent 
fondness for gifts, that he has appointed rascally or in- 
capable kinsmen to office, that he has cracked if not 
broken the laws, what have you accomplished by your 
denunciation ? They will reply to you < General Grant 
is a safe man. The country has prospered and its credit 
improved under his administration. We know him and 
know that he can be trusted not to smash things. It 
would be folly for us to take the risk of a change. Let 
well enough alone.' " 1 Manufacturers, merchants and 
bankers not only gave their voices and influence for 
Grant but, during that heated contest of September, 
doubting lest they had been too sanguine of victory, 
contributed freely to the Republican campaign fund. 
For Grant, too, were the great mass of Republicans 
who always voted with their party. No amount of 
hostile criticism could make them forget that he to- 
gether with Lincoln had saved the country. Beside 
this great achievement they regarded his sins as venial. 
This class of men liked Greeley too and appreciated his 
work during the decade before the war : but they were 
shrewd enough to see that a great journalist was not 
necessarily a fit man for the presidency, even though 
they had neglected to apply a similar criterion to Grant. 

A review, after the election, of the tremendous forces 

1 Life by Merriam, vol. ii. p. 196. 


at work for Grant makes it well-nigh incredible that 
any result should ever have been expected other than 
the triumphant re-election of the President. Neverthe- 
less in the first days of October there were many anx- 
ious Republicans who felt that nothing was certain till 
the votes were counted. But Tuesday October 8 
shattered the hopes of the Greeley Republicans and 
Democrats. " Honest Buckalew " was defeated in Penn- 
sylvania by over 35,000. The Republicans carried Ohio 
by 14,000. While Hendricks was elected governor of 
Indiana by a majority of 1148, the result was due to his 
personal popularity and not to the strength of the 
Greeley movement. The legislature chosen was Repub- 
lican ensuring the return of Morton to the Senate. 

No hope remained for Greeley. On November 5 
there was indeed a " great tidal wave," but it was one 
suited to the requirements of Nast's pencil, which showed 
Democrats, Liberal Republicans and Greeley swallowed 
up in the advancing flood. 1 Greeley lost his own State 
New York by 53,000 ; Pennsylvania, which was devoted 
to his gospel of protection, by 137,000 ; Illinois 57,000 ; 
Iowa and Michigan each 60,000 ; Massachusetts 74,000 ; 
and Ohio, where boys that had been brought up on the 
New York Weekly Tribune were now casting their first 
presidential votes, by 37,000. Indiana which elected Hen- 
dricks in October gave Grant 22,000 majority. Greeley 
carried only six States, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, 
Missouri, Tennessee and Texas 2 which were entitled to 
66 electoral votes. Grant carried all the rest receiving 
272 electoral votes 8 and a majority of the popular vote 
of three quarters of a million. 4 

1 Life of Nast, Paine, p. 257. 2 All by small majorities except Missouri. 

8 The votes of Louisiana and Arkansas were rejected by Congress and are 
not included in the total. 

* My authorities for the campaign are the same as those I used for the 
conventions. I myself have a lively recollection of the canvass. 

The large Republican majorities were said to be due partly to ths wilful 


Could Adams have been elected ? The discontent 
with Grant was far reaching" wrote George F. Hoar, 
and " I thought at the time that if Mr. Adams had 
been nominated, he might have been chosen." l Except 
in one respect he was an invulnerable candidate : it was 
said that he would lose a portion of the Irish vote. But 
despite the work of the Republican machine and the 
conservative influence of " good times " he would have 
attracted the whole floating independent vote which has 
decided many elections and might have made him Presi- 
dent. The Germans would unquestionably have been 
roused to enthusiasm by the eloquence of Carl Schurz, 
which, in such a cause, would have been very different 
from his faltering effort in behalf of Greeley. But the 
party conventions had offered the independents only a 
choice of evils ; with good political sense the larger 
number chose the lesser evil and voted for Grant. This 
much is sure : with Adams the contest would have been 
close and the Republican majority in Congress kept 
within decent limits. The overwhelming victory of 
Grant carried with it a large accretion of Republican 
strength in Congress. The Senate, which he met on his 
second inauguration, had 49 Republicans, 5 Liberal Re- 
publicans, 19 Democrats, the House 195 Republicans, 
4 Liberals, 88 Democrats. 2 Thus the two-thirds Repub- 
lican majority was regained to the real detriment of the 
Republican party and of the country. 

absence from the polls of many Democrats, Elaine, vol. ii. p. 536. Had the 
election been close it would have been a curious inquiry whether the result 
was affected by the epizootic or horse epidemic which then prevailed through- 
out the country. It was impossible or almost impossible to obtain horses for 
the conveyances which are used in cities to carry feeble or negligent voters to 
the polls. In the country where long distances must be traversed to the vot- 
ing places the effect might have been considerable. 

1 Autobiography, vol. i. p. 284. 

2 Tribune Almanac, 1874. The last time that Congress met regularly on 
March 4 was in 1871. The law requiring its assembling on that date was 
repealed April 20, 1871. This Congress [the 43d] met first on Dec. 1, 1873. 


There was but one good result from the Cincinnati 
convention and its preposterous nomination of Greeley 
the endorsement by the Democrats of the Cincinnati 
platform. Northern and Southern Democrats in their 
convention solemnly declared : " We pledge ourselves 
to maintain the Union of these States, emancipation 
and enfranchisement, and to oppose any reopening of 
the questions settled by the Thirteenth, Fourteenth 
arid Fifteenth Amendments of the Constitution " ; l 
" The public credit must be sacredly maintained, and 
we denounce repudiation in every form and guise." 
These declarations may well be a subject of felicita- 
tion for patriotic citizens, but exactly the same would 
have been made had Adams or any other been the candi- 
date. The moral effect of Democrats voting for Adams, 
an original free-soiler and a Republican from the be- 
ginning would be as great as their pronouncing for 
Greeley and their action would have been taken without 

The campaign was followed by a tragedy. Return- 
ing from his western tour Greeley watched almost 
without sleep at the bedside of his dying wife who 
passed away before the election. 2 After the election 
he resumed the editorship of the Tribune but his own 
race was run. Always an overworked man, the strain 
of the campaign, the mortification of his overwhelming 
defeat, the crippled financial condition of his journal 
and the death of his wife were more than he could 
bear. His nerves gave way completely and he died a 
broken-hearted man [November 29]. Over his grave 

1 Despite the " disastrous failure " of the Greeley movement, " it 
was regarded by Benjamin H. Hill as the most beneficial post bellum 
episode in national politics. It broke the crust of Northern prejudice 
and furnished proof of the sincere desire of the Southern people to get 
rid of sectional issues and all questions arising out of the war." Life by 
his son, p. 65. 

2 Oct. 30, 1872. 


men's hearts were softened. His useful and great work 
was remembered ; his failings were forgotten. 1 

1 Life of Bowles, Merriam, vol. ii. ; Blaine, vol. ii. ; Life of Nast, Paine. 
"We have been terribly beaten," Greeley wrote to his friend Colonel 
Tappan of New Hampshire. " I was the worst beaten man who ever ran for 
high office. And I have been assailed so bitterly that I hardly knew whether 
I was running for President or the Penitentiary. In the darkest hour my 
suffering wife left me, none too soon for she had suffered too deeply and too 
long. I laid her in the ground with hard dry eyes. Well I am used up. 
I cannot see before me. I have slept little for weeks and my eyes are still 
hard to close, while they soon open again." Life of Coif ax, Hollister, p. 
387, note. Grant, Colfax and Henry Wilson rode in the same carriage at 
Greeley's funeral. New York Tribune, Dec. 5. 

Godkin wrote to C. E. Norton on April 23, 1867 : "... Barnard . . . kept 
a gambling saloon in San Francisco, and was a notorious blackleg. ... He 
came then to New York, plunged into the basest depths of city politics, and 
emerged Recorder. After two or three years he got by the same means to 
be a judge of the Supreme Court. His reputation is now of the very worst. 
He is unscrupulous, audacious, barefaced, and corrupt to the last degree. 
He not only takes bribes, but he does not even wait for them to be offered 
him. He sends for suitors, or rather for their counsel, and asks for the 
money as the price of his judgments. A more unprincipled scoundrel does 
not breathe. There is no way in which he does not prostitute his office, and 
in saying this I am giving you the unanimous opinion of the bar and the 
public. . . . Yet the press and bar are muzzled, . . . and this injurious 
scoundrel has actually got possession of the highest court in the State, and 
dares the Christian public to expose his villany." Hollo Ogden, in Atlantic 
Monthly, July, 1906. 


HAD the presidential contest been close, a charge made 
by the New York Sun, during the heat of it, might have 
turned the scale against Grant. It was alleged that in 
the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad through 
the operations of a construction ring, Oakes Ames, the 
leading spirit of those thus associated had, in order to 
ensure the performance of certain actions for their bene- 
fit, distributed in bribes to members of Congress thirty 
thousand shares of Credit Mobilier [the construction 
company] worth nine millions of dollars. Fifteen l were 
named as having received the stock : the Vice-President, 
the Secretary of the Treasury, two senators, two ex- 
senators, the Speaker and six other members of the 
House, besides one ex-representative and one no longer 
living. Of these Elaine, Dawes, Henry Wilson, Colfax 
and Garfield explicitly denied the charge and, although 
the Greeley speakers and journals made the most of it, 

1 Others were disclosed in the investigation ; but some of these and of the 
original fifteen had nothing to do dirprtly or indirectly with the transaction. 



such impetus had the Grant candidacy gained, that, dur- 
ing the campaign, the charge had no influence detrimen- 
tal to him or the Republican party but was relegated to 
the limbo of " campaign lies." 

The charge was a gross exaggeration. Of bribery in 
the common acceptance of the term there had been only 
three cases ; but there had been other suspicious trans- 
actions and when Congress assembled in December 
[1872] Elaine, the Speaker, calling S. S. Cox to the 
chair, moved for a committee of investigation and his 
resolution was at once carried without a dissenting 
voice. Cox appointed Luke P. Poland of Vermont, 
Banks of Massachusetts, George W. McCrary of Iowa, 
William E. Niblack of Indiana and William M. Merrick 
of Maryland as the committee. Poland as chairman, 
McCrary and the two Democrats [Niblack and Merrick] 
were a guarantee that the inquiry would not result in a 
whitewashing report. From the reports of this com- 
mittee and another select committee on the affairs of 
the Union Pacific Railroad Company 1 and the testi- 
mony taken before them, a fairly accurate story can be 
told of this transaction. 

By the statutes of July 1, 1862 and July 2, 1864 Con- 
gress authorized the construction of the Union Pacific 
Railroad, giving it the franchise, and the right of way, 
and in addition a loan of twenty-seven millions of gov- 
ernment bonds. But this loan was not made a first lien 
on the property, as the company was authorized to issue 
twenty-seven millions of its own first mortgage securi- 
ties. Moreover Congress gave it a vast area of the pub- 
lic domain in the form of land grants. For our day this 
would be a liberal charter and there would be no diffi- 
culty in securing subscribers to the authorized capital 

1 The members of this Committee were J. M. Wilson, Samuel Shellabarger, 
George F. Hoar, H. W. Slocum, Thomas Swan. The last two named were 


stock in cash, which the statutes required to furnish a 
sound basis for the enterprise. But between 1864 and 
1869 conditions were far different. The furnishing of 
so large an amount of money by open cash subscrip- 
tions or by a syndicate of moneyed men was impossible. 
To make a start, to build enough of road to secure the 
first pro-rata proportion of the government bonds and a 
mileage on which to issue the first railroad bonds, it was 
necessary that some men of means, energy and daring 
should embark in the enterprise and pledge their indi- 
vidual credit. Chief among these men in the case of 
Union Pacific was Oakes Ames of Massachusetts. He 
and his associates constructed the road in the fashion 
then prevailing they built it on the bonds and took 
the stock for the road-building. " How much of the 
stock was paid in cash ? " Ames was asked. " It was 
all paid in cash, or on account of construction which is 
the same thing," he answered. 1 Little cash apparently 
was paid in. 2 Nearly all the stock was issued to the 
members of the construction ring who paid for it " at 
not more than thirty cents on the dollar in road- 
making." 8 

Ames and his associates organized a construction com- 
pany securing for it an existing charter of the State of 
Pennsylvania, called the Credit Mobilier, the stock- 
holders in which were substantially identical with those 
in the Union Pacific. 4 Ordinarily in the railroad build- 
ing of the time the construction companies were com- 
posed of a select few of the stockholders who, for 
personal risks taken and services rendered, were, if suc- 
cess attended the operation, eventually recompensed by 
the rest. But in the case of Union Pacific the bonds 
and the land grant of the government, together with 

1 Wilson report, p. 25. 

2 At the time of the contract with the Credit Mobilier Company, "per* 
haps two or three hundred thousand dollars." Ibid., p. 3. 

Ibid., p. 3. * Ibid., p. xi. 


other privileges, furnished the means for construction 
and for the profit of the favoured ring. The Credit 
Mobilier either directly or indirectly constructed a large 
part of the Union Pacific Railroad and, working with 
great energy, managed to finish and open it in May 
1869 as well as to make a considerable gain for them- 
selves. Oakes Ames in his testimony before the com- 
mittee stated the cost of the railroad and its equipment 
to be seventy millions and the profits of the contractors 
about seven millions, 1 but later in his remarks in the 
House he admitted that they might be near 110,000,000. 
John B. Alley a director of the Credit Mobilier said he 
thought the profits of construction were between eight 
and nine millions. 2 But the Wilson and Hoar com- 
mittee 3 say in their report : " It appears then speaking 
in round numbers that the cost of the road was 
150,000,000 which cost was wholly reimbursed from 
the proceeds of the government bonds and first-mort- 
gage bonds ; and that from the stock, the income bonds 
and land-grant bonds the builders received in cash value 
at least $23,000,000 profit." 4 

Oakes Ames was elected to Congress in the autumn 
of 1862 and for the four succeeding terms. In Septem- 
ber 1865, he took the Union Pacific upon his shoulders 
and soon became so heavily involved in the enterprise 
that he used his position in the House for his private 
interest rather than for the public weal. His personal 
acquaintance with his colleagues proved of service in 
the schemes for self-protection that he was about to set 

1 Wilson report, p. 724. 2 Ibid., p. 5. 

* George F. Hoar says in his Autobiography, vol. i. p. 321, "I had to a 
large degree the charge of the investigation in Washington, where the wit- 
nesses were examined and in the end the duty of preparing the report." 

* p. xvii. The amount of land-grant bonds issued was $10,400,000 ; in- 
come bonds $9,355,000 ; stock $36,762,300, ibid., p. ii. I have not the least 
doubt that the committee's estimate of profits is excessive. But on the other 
hand, Ames's differing statements deprive his testimony of credit and it is 
apparent his knowledge is not exact. 


afoot during the session of Congress that began in 
December 1867. At that time, it is true, he and his 
associates believed that their greatest difficulties had 
been overcome. " We asked no legislation and expected 
none " from Congress, he asserted truly, 1 but they were 
apprehensive that something might be done to interfere 
with their expected profits and what they regarded as 
their rights. The building of the road, " the spanning 
of the continent with a great highway of civilization," 
had appealed to the popular imagination and the public 
had looked upon the successive steps of the enterprise 
with interest and delight. When Cheyenne was reached 
in October 1867 the New York Tribune told the story in 
the words " Five hundred miles of civilization " : when 
the whole line to San Francisco was completed, civiliza- 
tion had advanced 2000 miles to the westward. 2 

But some inquisitive members of Congress were 
beginning to suspect that the law had been evaded and 
that a large amount of money was being made in a 
manner not intended by the statutes which created the 
company. These statutes provided that the stock should 
be actually paid for in full in money ; as a matter of 
fact it was issued to men who paid for it at not more 
than 30 cents on the dollar in road-making." 8 But, 
reasoned Ames and his associates, if that condition of 
the charter had been enforced it would have been im- 
possible to build the road. Therefore the arrangement 
with the Credit Mobilier was wise ; it called into service 
the vast personal credit of Ames which was necessary to 
prevent the abandonment of the enterprise. On the 
other hand, the Wilson-Hoar committee argued, If these 

1 Poland report, p. 39. 

2 Hollister's Colfax, p. 396 ; New York Tribune, Oct. 28, 1867, May 10, 
1869. The Union Pacific R.R. was from Council Bluffs, Iowa to Ogden, 
1004 m. The Central Pacific which was built at the same time ran from 
Ogden to San Francisco (844 m.) making a total of 1848 m. 

8 Wilson report, p. iii. 


stockholders could not build the road " according to the 
act of Congress, they had no right to build it. They 
could easily have represented their difficulty to Congress 
which has dealt generously with them from the begin- 
ning." 1 This they should have done in 1865-1866 but 
they were probably averse to going to Congress for a 
modification of the charter lest the all-engrossing Recon- 
struction measures should preclude its being then con- 
sidered, or lest onerous conditions should be attached 
even if a modification was secured. Knowing that an 
evasion of the statutes in this respect would enable them 
to proceed with the work, they decided upon this course, 
which after many vicissitudes seemed in December 
1867 to promise a high degree of success. 

Thoroughly proper as the Credit-Mobilier-Union- 
Pacific people believed their action to have been, they 
were aware that it would not bear the threatened 
Congressional investigation. Moreover on December 9, 
1867 C. C. Washburn of Wisconsin introduced in the 
House " a bill to regulate by law the rates of transpor- 
tation over the Pacific Road ; " and subsequently he 
and Washburne of Illinois introduced other measures 
seemingly inimical to the interests of the company. 2 
These considerations prompted Ames to take steps to 
protect the Union Pacific Railroad against adverse legis- 
lation. Three hundred and forty-three shares of the 
Credit Mobilier were transferred to him as Trustee. " I 
shall put [these]," he wrote from Washington in a 
private letter, where they will do most good to us. I 
am here on the spot and can better judge where they 
should go." 8 Beginning in December 1867 " he entered 
into contracts with a number of senators and represen- 

1 Wilson report, p. xix. 

2 Poland report, p. iv.; Cong. Globe, pp. 211, 1218, 1861, 2130, 2428. 

8 Jan. 25, 1868, Poland Report, p. 4. Ames wrote "I shall," when he 
had actually placed a number of shares but a confused thought and expres- 
sion runs through his letters and testimony. 

CH. XL.] 



tatives to let them have shares of stock in the Credit 
Mobilier Company at par with interest thereon from the 
first day of the previous July." Some paid the money 
for their shares ; others who were unable to do so had 
their stock carried for them by Ames. 1 The shares at 
this time were worth at least 200. The Poland Com- 
mittee traced 160 shares for which contracts were made 
for delivery to different members of Congress. A " part 
of the purchasers here are poor," Ames wrote in the 
private letter from Washington hitherto quoted, "and 
want their bonds to sell to enable them to meet their 
payment on the stock in the C. M. I have told them 
what they would get as dividend and they expect I 
think " to receive the 80 per cent, dividend in bonds. 2 
By January 30, 1868 Ames seems to have completed his 
operations for he writes from Washington in a private 
letter: " I don't fear any investigation here. ... I 
have used this [the Credit Mobilier shares] where it will 
produce most good to us I think. In view of ... 
Washburn's move here, I go in for making our bond 
dividend in full." 8 

When under oath before the committee on December 
18, 1872 he was asked, "What did you refer to by 
Washburn's move here ' ? " " Washburn," Ames an- 
swered, " made an attack upon the Union Pacific Rail- 
road, that we were charging too much fare, that our 
lands were enormously valuable, worth five to ten dollars 
an acre for the alkali regions on the plains ; that they 
[Ames and Company] were not going to build the road 
so as to be good for anything ; that the object was to 
get the Government bonds and then abandon the road 

1 Poland report, p. iii. 

2 Ibid., p. v. I have given a liberal paraphrase to a sentence impossible 
to parse. 

8 Ibid., p. 6. There is here again a confusion of dates. Washburn of 
Wisconsin is obviously meant and I have therefore corrected the spelling in 
the letter. 


to the Government. ... He wanted to fix a rate of 
fare by law beyond which we could not charge." l On 
February 22, 1868, Ames wrote again confidentially : 
" I want that $14,000 increase of the Credit Mobilier to 
sell here. We want more friends in this Congress and 
if a man will look into the law (and it is difficult to get 
them to do it unless they have an interest to do so) he 
cannot help being convinced that we should not be in- 
terfered with." 2 

The dividends paid on this stock during 1868 were : 

January 4, 80 per cent, in first mortgage bonds of Union 

Pacific Railroad. 

100 per cent, in Union Pacific Railroad stock. 
June 17, 60 per cent, cash ; 40 per cent, in U.P.R.R. 

July 3, 75 per cent, first mortgage bonds U.P.R.R. ; 

75 per cent, in U.P.R.R. stock. 
Sept. 3, 75 per cent, first mortgage bonds U.P.R.R. ; 

100 per cent, in U.P.R.R. stock. 
Dec. 19, 200 per cent. U.P.R.R. stock. 3 

Union Pacific Railroad first mortgage bonds were 
worth from 80 cents to 97 cents, the stock from 19 cents 
to 30 cents. Rating them respectively at 80 cents and 19 
cents the holder of ten shares of Credit Mobilier which 
cost the member of Congress $1000 and interest from 
July 1, 1867 was entitled in 1868 to dividends which 
would amount in cash to $3418.50. Only two or three 
members who had contracts for the stock received 
all these large dividends. Some cancelled their agree- 
ments before any were paid to them ; some received one 
dividend, others two, and then insisted that the contracts 
be abrogated. To some the certificates of stock were 

1 Poland report, p. 41. Washburn's speeches in the House hardly justify 
Ames's assertion. His main speech was March 20, 1868, Globe Appendix, 
p. 298. Washburne's of Illinois of Jan. 19, 1869 comes nearer to it. Globe, 
p. 463. 2 Poland report, p. 7. 8 Ibid., pp. 40, 51, 55. 


actually transferred, whilst the title of others to 
ownership was merely their agreement with Ames, in 
which cases a verbal withdrawal from the transaction 
was all that was necessary. The members' unwilling- 
ness to hold on longer to the stock or valuable privilege 
was due in part to a lawsuit in which the Credit Mobi- 
lier was becoming involved and in part to their own 
suspicions of the large dividends. It does not appear 
that any member of Congress was told of any prospec- 
tive dividend except the first ; nor is it certain that even 
so much information was imparted to all. In some in- 
stances Ames stated that it was good stock and "he would 
guarantee that they should get at least 10 per cent, on 
their money." Some members asked whether the hold- 
ing of the stock would embarrass them in their legisla- 
tive responsibility. No, said Ames, " The Union Pacific 
has received from Congress all the grants and legislation 
it wants and they shall ask for nothing more." J 

The Poland committee took evidence in regard to a 
number of men whose cases it did not consider in its 
report for lack of jurisdiction, but its finding in regard 
to Dawes, Scofield, Bingham, Kelley and Garfield will 
apply to all the others except three whom I shall spe- 
cially mention. The committee absolved them from "any 
corrupt motive or purpose " and expressed the opinion 
that they had no idea that they were " guilty of any 
impropriety or even indelicacy in becoming a purchaser 
of the stock." 2 It was fully established by the evidence 
that Ames had said nothing during the transaction 
which would lead the members to understand that they 
were expected to return the favour by their votes or 
influence in Congress. One incident did indeed look 
suspicious. The Washburn bill came up during the 
period when most of the members had a contract for 
their stock ; and when it " came to a vote," said Poland 

1 Poland report, p. iii. * Ibid., p. 9. 

74 OAKES AMES [1878 

in his speech presenting his report, " Ames and all his 
friends were found voting in opposition to it." 1 This 
with the exception of the statute of April 10, 1869 was the 
only positive action of either House. That statute was 
passed before all these accounts with Ames were closed ; 
but its authorization to remove the office of the Union 
Pacific Railroad Company to Boston, which Ames and his 
associates desired, was, under the circumstances, entirely 
proper ; and the other parts of the Act were restrictive 
and safeguarded the interests of the government. 2 

The Poland committee 3 found Oakes Ames "guilty 
of selling to members of Congress " shares in the Credit 
Mobilier at prices much below their true value with the 
intent " to influence the votes and decisions of such 
members in matters to be brought before Congress for 
action"; and it recommended his expulsion from the 
House. It found James Brooks of New York guilty of 
corruption as a member of the House and as a govern- 
ment director of the Union Pacific Railroad and like- 
wise recommended his expulsion. 4 The House changed 
the resolution for expulsion in both cases to one of cen- 
sure, which in the case of Ames was carried by 182 : 36 
and in that of Brooks by 174: 32. 5 The fact is, the 
House had unwittingly executed on these unhappy 
men the extreme penalty of the law. The vote of 
censure was had February 27, 1873. 6 Brooks died on 
the April 30 following; Ames on the 8th of May. 
The deaths of both men were undoubtedly hastened by 
their mortification and disgrace. 

1 If those not voting are assumed in opposition, Poland's statement is suffi- 
ciently exact. For the votes see Globe, 40th Cong. 2d Sess., pp. 1218, 2130, 
2428. 2 For this statute see Poland report, p. 196. 

8 The Poland committee was appointed on Dec. 2, 1872, the first day of 
the session. It reported on Feb. 18, 1873. 

* Ibid., p. xix. 

5 House Journal; Globe; 22 did not vote on the Ames case, 34 on the 

6 Neither had been chosen members of the next Congress. 


The finding of the committee in the case of Brooks 
was just ; 1 that in the case of Ames strictly in accord- 
ance with the law. Nevertheless the fate of Ames was 
sad. Of a speculative turn of mind, but, with a reputa- 
tion for business honesty in his own community, he 
went into the Union Pacific Railroad from two motives: 
one was to make money ; the other, " the desire to con- 
nect his name conspicuously with the greatest public 
work of the present century." 2 John B. Alley testified 
that Ames's own profits were less than a million, which, 
considering the labour and risk involved, was by no means 
an excessive recompense. In fact it appears that the 
extension from their creditors which the Ames Brothers 
were forced to ask in 1870 was due to financial embar- 
rassment arising out of their connection with the Union 
Pacific Railroad. 8 

Ames was the product of his time. In business ethics 
the man who took a bribe was dishonourable, the man 
who gave it was not. But Ames did not think that he 
was offering bribes ; 4 he had no idea that he was doing 
an immoral or indelicate act ; he thought his transactions 
with members of Congress were the "same thing as 
going into a business community and interesting 
the leading business men by giving them shares." 5 
" Was there any purpose on your part," asked Poland 
when he was giving his testimony, "of exercising 
any influence over members of Congress or to corrupt 
them in any way ? " "I never dreamed of it," 
answered Ames ; " I did not know that they re- 
quired it, because they were all friends of the road 
and my friends. If you want to bribe a man you want 

1 1 have not thought it necessary to present the details which justify my 
opinion. 2 Ames's defence in the House. 

8 Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1873, p. 21 ; Poland report, pp. 
15, 95. 

* There was no connection between Ames and Brooks. Poland's speech, 
Feb. 25, 1873. 5 Ibid., Feb. 25. 


to bribe one who is opposed to you, not to bribe one 
who is your friend. ... I never made a promise to, 
or got one from, any member of Congress in my life, 
and I would not dare to attempt it." l His remarks which 
were read in the House by the clerk 2 before the resolu- 
tion of censure was passed have the ring of sincerity. 
" I have," he said, " risked reputation, fortune, every- 
thing in an enterprise of incalculable benefit to the gov- 
ernment from which the capital of the world shrank; 
... I have had friends, some of them in official 
life, with whom I have been willing to share advanta- 
geous opportunities of investment ; . . . I have kept to 
the truth through good and evil report ; denying nothing, 
concealing nothing, reserving nothing. Who will say 
that I alone am to be offered up a sacrifice to appease a 
public clamor, or expiate the sins of others ? " 

A Senate committee sitting in February [1873] found 
James W. Patterson, a senator from New Hampshire, 
guilty of corruption and false swearing and reported a 
resolution that he be expelled from the Senate. 3 Since 
but five days of the session remained and his term 
expired on March 4, no action was taken on the resolution. 

Colonel Chipman, in a letter to Nast of January 26, 
1873 presented an intelligent contemporaneous opinion, 
which is pretty nearly the conclusion at which the 
historian must arrive. " I have not lost my faith in the 
honesty and integrity of such men as Dawes, Bingham, 
Garfield," ... he wrote, " but we must have our 
ideas as to their sagacity greatly shocked and 
lowered. . . . These gentlemen had a little money to 
invest. They are all poor, and to turn an honest penny 
seemed desirable. The sly and devilish Ames gave 
them the opportunity for the investment without fully 
acquainting them with the transaction. 

i Poland report, p. 32. * Febt 2 5, Globe, p. 1726. 

8 Report No. 619, 42d Cong., 3d sess. 


Scene second. The campaign comes on ; some whis- 
perings about Credit Mobilier stock in the hands of well- 
known Republicans. They thought a frank confession 
might hurt Grant and that the public would not admit 
the investment in the stocks to be a legitimate thing; 
hence, they concealed the facts and misled the public. 

Scene third. The Congressional Investigation begins. 
With the same stupidity they keep back the simple 
truth and seek again to cover up facts. Step by step 
the disclosures are brought out until the country is 
shocked, without knowing exactly why or how. It has 
ruined Colfax and Patterson and some others, and 
greatly lowered the public opinion in their integrity. 
All of them must suffer more or less." 1 

For its bearing on their future careers something still 
remains to be said of the various attitudes towards 
Credit Mobilier of a number of men in public life. It is 
almost superfluous to write that Boutwell who was a 
member of the House at the time of the transactions 
took none of the stock. Dawes 2 and Henry Wilson 
were guilty of impropriety but the public knew that 
they were absolutely incorruptible and entirely acquitted 
them ; nor did they suffer afterwards for their transac- 
tions with Ames. The cases of Bingham and Kelley were 
different from these and different from each other but 
neither man was guilty of corruption. Colfax was 
Speaker of the House at the time and agreed to take 
twenty shares of Credit Mobilier. His denial of the 
charge made during the campaign was disingenuous. Be- 
fore the committee he admitted the contract for the stock 

1 Life of Nast, Paine, p. 270. Patterson's name is where the first ellipsis 
occurs. Chipman wrote before the Senate committee had taken testimony and 
made their report. Of course I do not subscribe to " the sly and devilish Ames." 

2 A denial of Dawes in a private letter of Sept. 11, 1872 got into print 
without his authority and knowledge. It was over-reticent and led to some 
suspicion which was dispelled completely by his statement before the investi- 
gating committee. 

78 COLFAX [1873 

but testified that on reflection he had decided not to 
take it and swore that he had never received any divi- 
dends. But Ames, by his testimony and an entry in his 
famous " Memorandum Book " showed a payment of 
$1200 as a dividend on the Credit Mobilier to Colfax. 1 
Colfax appeared before the committee a number of 
times and, floundering grievously in an attempt to ex- 
plain the contemporaneous deposit of $1200 to his credit 
in his bank, only succeeded in getting himself deeper in 
the mire. It is impossible to believe that he told the 
truth. In the course of his endeavour to account for 
these $1200 it transpired that he had received four thou- 
sand dollars from George F. Nesbitt of New York w r ho had 
sent it ostensibly out of admiration for Colfax, as a con- 
tribution for his personal expenses during his vice-presi- 
dential campaign of 1868. But it was further disclosed 
that Nesbitt was a large stationer and had obtained, 
while Colfax was chairman of the Post Office committee 
of the House, large contracts for government envelopes. 
Hollister, the biographer of Colfax, has made a strong 
plea for the innocence of his hero. It is strong in the 
presentation of the case itself and in the evident sincer- 
ity of the writer. But much as one would like to 
believe it and so to share the confidence which the people 
of South Bend [Indiana] expressed in the most distin- 
guished of its citizens, the plea does not carry conviction. 
Although the biographer has failed in this, he has drawn 

1 The account with Colfax from the Memorandum Book was : 

S. C. DR. CR. 

1868 1868 

To 20 shares C. M. of A. $2,000 00 March 5, By Cash . . . $ 634 72 

To interest 86 72 Feb. 14, Dividends of 

June 19, To cash .... 1,200 00 bonds U. P. R. 2000, 80, 

$3,286 72 160 less 3 P er cent - 1,652 00 
June 17, By dividend col- 
lected for his account . 1,200 00 

$3,286 72 
Poland report, p. 288. 


a pathetic contrast of the two periods in the life of Col- 
fax. As Speaker and Vice-President he was one of the 
foremost men of the nation and even aspired to the 
highest office in the land. He was asked by Grant to 
become Secretary of State should Fish persist in giving 
up the burden ; l after Greeley died he was offered the 
editorship of the New York Tribune* In the later 
period, he led an inconspicuous life, without influence in 
the affairs of the nation ; he earned his livelihood as a 
successful popular lecturer, touring the country from 
one end to the other. 

Hollister's table of contents tells the story. Three 
hundred and fifty-eight pages are devoted to the busy 
political life of eighteen years and fifty-one to the twelve 
years of unavailing regret at the failure of his political 
career. 8 On March 4, 1869 Colfax may be said to have 
reached the height of his fame. Had strength been 
needed, he had added it to the Grant presidential ticket. 
He was amiable and attractive and one of the most 
popular men in the country ; his personal morals, apart 
from money affairs, were pure and his domestic life 
happy. Brilliant prospects gave him a consciousness of 
power which he was at no pains to disguise. On March 
4, 1873 he left the capital in humility and disgrace. 
Playing upon the ever ready smile on what had seemed 
an honest face, the wags of the press now altered his 
first name, and, whenever they referred to him in his 
comparative obscurity, called him " Smiler " Colfax. 

The American people's love of veracity and straight- 
forwardness was illustrated in the testimony of William 
B. Allison and its consequences. Allison had taken from 
Ames ten shares of Credit Mobilier; and without any 
concealment or evasion he gave an account of this trans- 
action, of his dividends, of his return of the stock and 

' Aug. 4, 1871. Hollister, p. 356. * Ibid., p. 388. 

8 He died in 1885 at the age of 62, 

80 GARFIELD [1873 

the reason therefor. In his testimony he said, "I have no 
interest in any matter covertly that I am not willing the 
public at any time should know all about." l In these few 
words he laid down a rule than which none could be safer 
or more proper as a guide to public officials and members 
of Congress in making investments. Allison's name is 
never associated with the Credit Mobilier. From 1873 
to the present time, 2 he has without interruption been 
returned to the Senate by his State of Iowa which is well 
known as an intelligent and highly moral constituency. 
To those whose memory goes back to the winter of 
1873 the mention of the Credit Mobilier brings up pre- 
eminently three names, Ames, Colfax and Garfield. 
Garfield testified that Ames had offered him ten shares 
of the stock and that, after holding the offer under con- 
sideration for a while, he had decided not to take it. 
" I never owned," he swore, " received or agreed to 
receive any stock of the Credit Mobilier or of the Union 
Pacific Railroad, nor any dividend or profits arising 
from either of them." 8 On the other hand Ames testified 
that he procured ten shares of Credit Mobilier for Gar- 
field who agreed to take it ; and his Memorandum Book 
showed this account. 

J. A. G. DR. 

1868 To 10 shares stock Credit Mobilier of A . $1,000 00 
Interest ........... 47 00 

June 19, To Cash ........ 329 00 

$1,376 00* 

1868 By dividend bonds. Union Pacific Rail- CB. 

road $1000 at 80 per cent, less 3 per cent. 776 00 
June 17, By dividend collected for your 

account ........... 600 00 

11,376 00 
No certificate of stock was ever transferred to Garfield. 

l Poland report, p. 308. 2 1906. 8 Poland report, p. 129. * Ibid. , p. 297, 


Garfield admitted that he had received three hundred 
dollars from Ames, but testified that this was money 
borrowed during the session of 1868. From the evidence 
it is easy to see that a misunderstanding might have 
occurred, Ames and Garfield carrying away different 
ideas from their conversation. Though Ames was a 
truthful witness, he does not impress the reader as 
having a trained and logical mind ; his memory was 
bad for dates and details and much of his testimony is 
undoubtedly inaccurate. The entry in the Memorandum 
Book, as being supposedly contemporaneous, is indeed 
weighty evidence, yet these entries were not always 
made on the spot, even though they recorded the true 
dates of the transactions. 1 What makes the case dam- 
aging to Garfield is that the Poland committee, who, 
in addition to the record, had the advantage of seeing 
the witness face to face, adopted Ames's version. 2 The 
Poland report, against Garfield's testimony, indicates 
that he swore falsely or that his memory had been 

While the friends and admirers of Garfield may -well 
wish that the transaction had a better aspect, it is in- 
disputable that he won his case before very intelligent 
juries. Standing for re-election to the House in 1874 
the burden of his canvass was the explanation of this 
and two other charges 8 ; and at one memorable meeting 
he invited friends and enemies to be present and put him 
to question. His district was composed of Ashtabula, 
Geauga, Lake, Portage and Trumbull counties in the 
Western Reserve of Ohio, a district celebrated all 
over the country for its intelligent and high-minded 
people ; it was made up of inquisitive and reflecting 
voters. To these he argued his case and received a 

1 Poland report, p. 448. 2 Ibid., p. vii. 

8 These will be considered when in a future volume I speak of Garfield's 
candidacy for the presidency. 

82 GARFIELD [1873 

This needs some explanation. Garfield's majority in 
1872 had been 10,935 ; in 1874 it was but 6346. His 
vote fell off 6600. But it was a year of Republican 
disaffection and Democratic success and he suffered 
from the general reaction. By the election of 1872 
Ohio had sent 13 Republicans and 7 Democrats to the 
House ; by that of 1874 the figures were exactly re- 
versed [13 Democrats, 7 Republicans]. In the district 
adjoining Garfield's, and containing the city of Cleveland, 
a Republican majority in 1872 of 2700 was succeeded by 
a Democratic majority in 1874 of 2500. Moreover, of 
the falling off in Garfield's vote of 6600, 2378 was in 
Trumbull county which, having an extensive iron 
industry, had become disaffected to Garfield because of 
his advocacy of tariff reform. 

In 1874, Garfield won his nomination in that sure 
Republican district by 100 to 34 blanks ; in 1876 and 
1878 he was nominated by acclamation. In January 1880 
he received a unanimous nomination from the Repub- 
licans of the legislature for United. States senator and 
was chosen to represent Ohio in the Senate, but on the 
day on which he would otherwise have taken his seat he 
was inaugurated President of the United States. During 
the presidential campaign and at the polls, he received 
the significant endorsement of the so-called independent 
Republicans. In all these contests, intelligent and honest 
men carefully considered his record in the Credit Mobi- 
lier case and most of them came to the conclusion that 
he had spoken the truth and that Ames and the Poland 
committee were mistaken ; of those who doubted the 
accuracy of his statements, the greater part believed that 
he was at all events innocent oj: corruption and of 

The effect of the disclosures on public sentiment was 
profound. After one of its greatest victories the Re- 
publican party was put on trial. To the trusting con- 
stituents, it was a sickening thought that so many of 

CH. XL.] 



their leaders had apparently been found wanting. That 
Henry Wilson, Dawes, Kelley, Bingham and Garfield 
should even be suspected of corruption, that Colfax had 
sworn falsely to cover up his operations struck dismay 
to Republicans to whom the safety of the country had 
seemed bound up in the dominance of their party. With 
stern appreciation of the popular sentiment Poland wrote 
in his report : " This country is fast becoming filled with 
gigantic corporations wielding and controlling immense 
aggregations of money and thereby commanding great 
influence and power. It is notorious in many state 
legislatures that these influences are often controlling, so 
that in effect they become the ruling power of the State. 
Within a few years Congress has to some extent been 
brought within similar influences, and the knowledge 
of the public on that subject has brought great discredit 
upon the body, far more, we believe, than there were 
facts to justify. But such is the tendency of the time, 
and the belief is far too general that all men can be 
ruled with money, and that the use of such means to 
carry public measures is legitimate and proper. No 
member of Congress ought to place himself in circum- 
stances of suspicion, so that any discredit of the body 
shall arise on his account. It is of the highest impor- 
tance that the national legislature should be free of all 
taint of corruption and it is of almost equal necessity 
that the people should feel confident that it is so. In a 
free government like ours we cannot expect the people 
will long respect the laws, if they lose respect for the 
law-makers." 1 

Not only was there corruption in Congress and the 
State legislatures but it was notorious in so important a 
branch of the civil service as the New York custom 
house. A grave impropriety was exposed in one of the 
United States judiciary which led to his resignation. 

1 Poland report, p. x. 

84 "SALARY GRAB" ACT [1873 

To many it seemed by no means unlikely that the 
Credit Mobilier and the other affairs that were brought 
to light were only the open sores of a festering body 
politic : earnest people asked in despair, Is there no 
longer honesty in public life ? 1 

Public sentiment was further outraged by the passage 
of the so-called " Salary Grab " act [March 3, 1873]. 
The question of an increase of salaries was brought 
before the House by Butler in a report of the Committee 
on the Judiciary in which excellent reasons were given 
for the proposed action. The act as finally passed, 
Democrats and Republicans alike voting for it, raised 
the President's salary from 125,000 to 150,000 a year 
and made proper increases for the Justices of the Su- 
preme Court, the Vice-President, the members of the 
cabinet and the Speaker of the House ; 2 it raised the 
pay of senators and representatives from $5000 to $7500 
per annum. Our democracy has always been noted for 
its failure to comprehend the reasons for paying high 
salaries to public servants. In this case it made no 
objection to the larger emoluments for the President 
and Judges of the Supreme Court but centred its wrath 
upon members of the legislative body. Here even the 
mere increase of salary, although improperly tacked on 
to a*n appropriation bill, might have been submitted to 
after a certain amount of grumbling ; but the law applied 
to the members of the present Congress, and the fact 

1 My main authorities for this account are the Poland and Wilson re- 
ports. I have been helped by Life of Bowles, Merriam, vol. ii. ; Appletons' 
Annual Cyclopedia, 1873 ; George F. Hoar's Autobiography, vol. i. ; Life 
of Nast, Paine ; Life of Colfax, Hollister ; Life of Garfield, Riddle ; The 
Nation. In regard to the New York custom house, see Senate report of 
March 3, 1871. S. R. 41st Cong. 3d Sess., No. 380; Conkling's resolution, 
Dec. 18, 1871, Globe, p. 159 ; majority and minority reports of Committee 
on investigation, June 1872, S. R. 42d Cong. 2d Sess., No. 227 . 

2 The salaries of the Vice-President, Speaker of the House and members 
of the Cabinet were fixed at $10,000 each ; the Chief Justice $10,500, the 
Associate Justices each $10,000. 


that on March 3, 1873 they voted themselves $5000 each 
for work done during two years preceding that date 
caused an explosion which made them tremble. Sena- 
tors and representatives, who voted for the bill, explained 
and argued the matter to their constituents. The prece- 
dents, they urged truly, were all on the side of the 
retroactive provision ; but the public ire was thoroughly 
aroused and all arguments were powerless to vindicate 
the act. The "salary grab " came to be called the "back 
pay steal." In response to the popular indignation a 
host of members who had drawn the increased salary 
covered it into the Treasury. When the Forty -third 
Congress came together at its first session in December 
[1873] the subject was at once taken up. Much time 
was devoted to it in both the House and the Senate 
with the result that on January 13, 1874 a bill was 
passed repealing all the increases of compensation except 
those of the President and Justices of the Supreme 
Court. 1 

The shadow cast by Credit Mobilier was still deep, 
and the murmurs against " salary grab " were rising 
ominously when Grant, the head of the party that was 
held responsible for both outrages, took the oath of 
office, and, on a bitterly cold March day, delivered his 
inaugural address. The address was commonplace 
enough ; but knowing that a great general and well- 
meaning man was entering for the second time upon an 
undertaking that he was not equal to, one detects in it 

1 The date given is the passage of the bill by the House. It passed the 
Senate Jan. 12, and was approved Jan. 20, 1874. McPherson's Hand-Book 
of 1874 gives a convenient history of the " Salary Grab " act and its repeal, 
p. 3 et seq. 

'Hie most important measure of the session of Congress which ended 
March 3, 1873, for the subsequent history of the country was the Coinage 
Act of Feb. 12, 1873, which demonetized the 412 grains silver dollar. This 
may be more properly considered in connection with the silver legislation of 
1878 than now. I desire here to express my many obligations to William 
MacDonald's "Select Statutes," 1861-1898. 


a note of pathos, especially in the closing words : 
" Throughout the war and from ray candidacy for my 
present office in 1868 to the close of the last presidential 
campaign, I have been the subject of abuse and slander 
scarcely ever equalled in political history, which to-day 
I feel that I can afford to disregard in view of your ver- 
dict, which I gratefully accept as my vindication." 

Soon after the inauguration, it became evident that 
any reliance on Grant for the accomplishment of reform 
in the civil service was vain. George William Curtis 
liked him and endeavoured to put the best face on his 
faint efforts in that direction, writing on December 2, 
1872 to Charles Eliot Norton, "The cabinet is not 
friendly but fortunately Grant is tenacious and resolved 
upon the spirit which should govern appointments." 1 
But on March 18, 1873 Curtis wrote to the President, 
"As the circumstances under \vhich several important 
appointments have recently been made seem to me to 
show an abandonment both of the spirit and the letter 
of the civil service regulations, I respectfully resign my 
position as a member of the Advisory Board of the 
Civil Service." 2 [or as it is frequently called, Civil 
Service Commission. Curtis was chairman.] Curtis 
here wrote finis to Grant's half-hearted work for a 
reform of which he had little comprehension. The pre- 
tence continued a while longer. The President appointed 
an excellent man in Curtis's place, Dorman B. Eaton ; 
he approved "certain further rules" of the Civil Service 
Commission; and he referred to the subject in three 
different messages. 3 But on December 7, 1874 he wrote 
in his annual message: "I announce that if Congress 
adjourns without positive legislation on the subject of 
< civil service reform ' I will regard such action as a dis- 
approval of the system and will abandon it." 4 Con- 

1 Life by Edward Cary, p. 232. 3 Richardson, vol. vii. pp. 230, 254, 263. 

2 New York Times, April 9. * Ibid., p. 301. 


gress did not enact such positive legislation. Competi- 
tive examinations were almost everywhere given up, 1 
and with them even the pretence of reform. 

From this point our civil service went from bad to 
worse. During, the early part of 1874 an appointment 
was made which outraged the people of Massachusetts. 
So powerful, indeed, was the array of the better element 
in the State against the evil influence of one man, that 
the affair at once assumed a national importance. 
William A. Simmons, a henchman of Butler's, was 
nominated for collector of the port of Boston [February 
1874]. " Simmons," wrote Merriam, " was a character- 
istic product of the times. He was a man of good 
private life, a church-goer, a Methodist class-leader, but 
a practiced adept in manipulating the lowest class of 
voters and in carrying elections by dubious means." 3 
Boutwell, now senator, gave the appointment his 
approval. Sumner opposed it and by his opposition 
made Grant only the more set in his purpose. 8 But the 
names of the men who sided with the senior senator are 
evidence of the unfitness of Simmons for so important 
an office. Among them were Washburn, the governor of 
the Commonwealth, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes and 
John G. Whittier all of whom wrote to Sumner ad- 
versely to Simmons's confirmation. Judge Hoar, George 
F. Hoar, Henry L. Pierce and four other Massachusetts 
members of the House, making seven out of the eleven, 
were of the same mind. The Boston Daily Advertiser 
protested vigorously against the appointment and in a 
letter to the President said : " Sir, you are beset by evil 
advisers ; you are deceived by their representations, and 
either through a misapprehension of circumstances or a 
want of knowledge of the sentiments of this nation you 

1 A notable exception was the New York City Post Office, where a system 
of competitive examinations was built up by the Postmaster, Thomas James. 

2 Life of Bowles, vol. ii. p. 266. 

8 See incident related by George F. Hoar, Autobiography, vol. i. p. 210. 

88 GRANT BUTLER [1874 

are led to lend your aid to their schemes. . . . The 
employment made of the administrative service of this 
country is rotten in root and branch. . . . The great 
party . . . led as it now is ... has only a future of 
bitter disaster and disgrace to you, to us [the citizens of 
Massachusetts] and to the nation." 1 George F. Hoar 
in a personal interview told the President of the dissat- 
isfaction of the Republicans of Massachusetts and begged 
that the nomination be withdrawn. The Senate com- 
mittee reported adversely to the confirmation. But 
Grant was obdurate; he would not withdraw Simmons's 
name. Conkling and Carpenter it is said championed 
his cause in Executive session and in February [1874] 
he was confirmed, although Boutwell, frightened probably 
by the storm that had risen in Massachusetts, voted 
against him. Butler was the main factor in securing 
the confirmation as he had been in getting the appoint- 
ment and his success in both cases was due to the 
influence he possessed over the President. I have a 
hold over Grant," Butler said to Judge Hoar, "and he 
does not dare withdraw Simmons's name." Owing to a 
mutual respect and liking, Judge Hoar could talk more 
plainly to the President than any other of the more 
cultivated men in public life. In a personal interview, 
he urged the withdrawal of the nomination, but to 
no effect ; then, hoping perhaps to arouse his indignation, 
he broke out, as they sat close together in confidential 
talk, " Butler says he has a hold over you." Grant set his 
teeth, then drew down his jaw and, without changing 
countenance, looked Hoar straight in the eye but said 
not a word. A long and painful silence ensued and 
Hoar went aw r ay. 2 

1 Feb. 23, 1874 ; The Nation, Feb. 26. 

2 Conversation with Judge Hoar, Oct. 4, 1893. My other authorities are 
Pierce's Sumner, vol. iv. p. 589 ; George F. Hoar, Autobiography, vol. i. pp. 
210, 386, vol. ii. p. 3. The Nation, Jan.-June, 1874, pp. 116, 131, 148 ; 
Life of Bowles, Merriam, vol. ii. p. 266. On Feb. 26, 1874, Boutwell from the 


" Statesmanship in Congress," wrote Thurlow Weed 
towards the close of 1873, " is now so low that it will 
take many years to build it up to a higher tone. Prob- 
ably the most influential man in Congress to-day is 
Benjamin F. Butler, as he is the worst. Massachu- 
setts never served the country so badly 'as when she 
sent General Butler to Congress. It is an alarming sign 
of the times that a man of his astuteness thinks that 
the course he chooses to adopt is one which will give him 
a large following." l 

On May 7, 1873 Chief Justice Chase died and the 
President, acting upon a matured conviction, offered 
[November 8] the place thus made vacant to his most 
intimate political friend, Roscoe Conkling. 2 When 
Grant's purpose leaked out, the independent press 
objected strongly to the intended appointment on the 
ground that Conkling had devoted himself to practical 
politics rather than to his profession, having rarely 
appeared before the higher courts and only once before 
the Supreme Court of the United States, and that in 
his long career he had shown little of the quality of a 
statesman. All this was undoubtedly true, yet there 
are excellent reasons for the belief that Conkling would 
have made a good Chief Justice and that for his own 
fame it is to be regretted that he declined the office 
which Grant offered him in complimentary and gener- 
ous terms. He had had a good training for the place. 
Although, contrary to the keen desire of his father, he 
had refused to go to college, he learned much from this 

Committee on Commerce reported adversely on Simmons's nomination. The 
vote stood that day 15 : 20. No quorum. Next day Simmons was confirmed 
30 : 16. Boutwell voted no, Conkling did not vote nor did Hamlin, An- 
thony and Edmunds. Six New England senators voted no, only one aye, 
Sprague. Carpenter and Logan voted aye. Executive Journal, vol. xix. pp. 
259, 260. The Boston Daily Advertiser is my authority for the statement 
that Conkling and Carpenter urged his confirmation ; also Pierce. 

1 Life of Weed, vol. ii. p. 501. 

2 Life of Conkling, A. R. Conkling, p. 460. 

90 Rt'JCOE CONKLING [1873 

father, a college-bred man, who was for twenty-seven years 
a United States district judge, loved good literature and 
the society of cultivated and distinguished men. Among 
those who resorted to his house were Chancellor Kent, 
Justice Smith Thompson [sixteen years justice of the 
New York Supreme Court, twenty years on the Supreme 
bench of the United States], John Quincy Adams, Mar- 
tin Van Buren and Thurlow Weed. For the alert young 
Conkling here was an auspicious environment. 

He read law at Utica in the office of Francis Kernan, 
an able lawyer, later his opponent in contests for elec- 
tion to Congress. Conkling was a reader of good books 
and, in his excellent speeches, paid great attention to 
diction, showing in this respect the influence of his 
studies of the Bible, Shakespeare and Milton, Burke and 
Macaulay and the nineteenth-century poets. It was said 
that he had learned by heart the first book and most of 
the third of Bryant's translation of the Iliad ; and one 
cannot help wondering if it ever occurred to him that 
Agamemnon's estimate of Achilles exactly suited him- 

" This man would stand 

Above all others ; he aspires to be 
The master, over all to domineer, 
And to direct in all things." 1 

Conkling was barely 44 ; he would undoubtedly have 
adapted himself to the atmosphere of the Supreme Court 
and been swayed by its solemn traditions. He was an 
industrious man and could easily have mastered the 
cases ; opinions written in his clear style would have 
been a noteworthy addition to our legal lore. It was a 
misfortune for the bench as well as for himself that he 
declined the appointment. 2 

1 Book I. lines 301-364. 

2 See Life of Roscoe Conkling, A. R. Conkling ; Article in Appletons' 
Cyclopaedia of Biography ; The Nation. 



The capriciousness of Grant's judgment was shown 
in his second selection, George H. Williams of Oregon, 
his Attorney-General. The Bar Association of New 
York City, regarding the office as "second in dignity and 
importance to no other under our government," pro- 
tested against this nomination and remonstrated ear- 
nestly against its confirmation by the Senate as Williams 
was " wanting in those qualifications of intellect, expe- 
rience and reputation which are indispensable to uphold 
the dignity of the highest national court." It was said 
that the Senate, which was more than two-thirds Repub- 
lican was almost unanimous for the rejection of the 
nomination 1 and it was withdrawn. 2 

Worse remained behind. Caleb Gushing was the 
next nomination, sent in, so Tom Murphy 8 was reported 
as saying, because " they made such a fuss over the 
nomination of Williams that the old man got mad." 4 
Though Gushing was an eminent lawyer and the most 
learned of the American counsel at the Geneva Arbitra- 
tion, his probity was so seriously in question as to make 
his nomination for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court 
anomalous to a degree. This was the real reason of the 
Senate's refusal to confirm the appointment. Two sen- 
ators who were friends of the administration wrote in a 
private letter that he was condemned "because he lacked 
principle." 5 Grant however was saved from another 
direct rebuff by the unearthing of a letter written in 
March, 1861 by Gushing to Jefferson Davis in which he 
recommended to his "dear friend" a renegade civil 

1 The Nation, Jan. 8, 1874, p. 18. 

2 Pierce's Sumner, vol. iv. p. 685. Conkling from the Committee on the 
Judiciary reported favourably on Williams (Dec. 11, 1873). On Edmunds's 
motion on Dec. 15 the nomination was recommitted. On January 8, 1874, the 
President withdrew the nomination at Williams's request. Executive Journal, 
vol. xix. pp. 183-189, 210. 

8 Ante. 

4 The Nation, Jan. 22, 1874, p. 51. 

6 Howe and Hamlin, Life of Conkling, p. 463. 


servant. Assigning this letter as a reason, the Repub- 
lican caucus asked the President to withdraw the nomi- 
nation, which was done at once [January 13, 1874J. 1 

An effort was now made by Senators Howe and 
Hamlin to induce Conkling to reconsider his refusal. 
To A. B. Cornell a political friend and co-worker of his 
they wrote on January 18 : " The country seems to 
require that the Chief Justice should possess high 
character, sound principles, great capacity and wide 
celebrity. . . . We have the best of evidence that the 
President would like to renew the offer to Mr. Conk- 
ling. ... If you will say to us by twelve o'clock to- 
morrow that Mr. Conkling will accept, he can be made 
Chief Justice by four P.M. . . . There can be no 
doubt that we are acting in harmony with our friends 
here." Word that circumstances rendered it " inadmis- 
sible " for Conkling to take the place, reached Howe in 
the Senate chamber shortly after twelve [January 19] ; 2 
and, on the same day the President, whose mind was 
already made up as to his next choice, sent to the Sen- 
ate the name of Morrison R. Waite of Ohio who two 
days later was unanimously confirmed. 

Waite had been brought into national prominence by 
his useful service as one of the counsel at the Geneva 
Arbitration, 3 and his Alma Mater [Yale] had signalized 
his return home by conferring upon him the degree of 
Doctor of Laws. . He had graduated at twenty-one in the 
class with William M. Evarts, Benjamin Silliman and 
Edwards Pierrepont, another classmate for a part of the 
course being Samuel J. Tilden. For years he had been 

1 The Nation, Jan. 15, 1874, p. 33 ; Pierce's Simmer, vol. iv. p. 585 ; 
Richardson, vol. vii. p. 259 ; Executive Journal, vol. xix. pp. 218, 221 ; New 
York Tribune, Jan. 14, 15. 

2 Life of Conkling, pp. 463, 464. 

3 He did not impress Roundell Palmer with his ability. " Mr. Waite," he 
wrote, " was a commonplace honest man, with nothing remarkable about 
him ; the elevation which awaited him was not then dreamt of by anybody." 
Memoirs, vol. i. p. 248- 



well known in Ohio as an able lawyer at its distinguished 
bar, and at the time of his appointment was presid- 
ing over the State constitutional convention by its 
unanimous choice. It was in itself an entirely proper 
appointment and the Senate and the country felt great 
relief at their escape from Williams and Gushing but 
they had little idea of the inherent capacity of this 
modest son of Ohio. 1 " Chief Justice Waite," wrote 
Edward L. Pierce, "held the office for fourteen years 
and left a name which bears well a comparison with 
those of his predecessors." 2 

Fish, who remained in the State department during 
the whole of Grant's two terms, had during 1873 another 
opportunity to reflect some honour on an otherwise dis- 
credited administration. The civil war, which had been 
going on in Cuba for a number of years, still continued 
in a " languid, desultory, ferocious and indecisive " 3 way 
and an incident of the struggle came near bringing Spain 
and the United States to blows. In 1870 an American- 
built steamer, the Virginius, had been bought for the 
purpose of being used for landing military expeditions 
on the island in aid of the Cuban insurgents and she had 
actually been to some extent engaged in this work, 
being called by one of the Havana newspapers " the 
famous filibuster steamer Virginius" 4 On October 31, 
1873 she was bound from Kingston, Jamaica to some 
point in Cuba, flying the American flag, and carrying a 
cargo of war material, as well as 155 passengers and 
crew, among whom were some American citizens ; but 
the passengers were for the most part Cubans intending 
to join the insurgents. Sighted by the Spanish war 
steamer Tornado, she turned about and ran towards 
Jamaica but was pursued, captured and taken into 

1 The Nation ; Appletons' Cyclopaedia of Biography. 

2 Pierce's Sumner, vol. iv. p. 687. 

8 The Nation, Nov. 20, 1873, p. 334. 
4 Foreign Relations, 1874, p. 1055. 


Santiago de Cuba. Fifty-three of the crew and passen- 
gers were condemned to death by court-niartial and 
between November 4 and 8 inclusive were shot ; 1 among 
them were eight American citizens. 

Fish acted promptly. " The capture on the high seas 
of a vessel bearing the American flag," he telegraphed 
on November 7 to General Sickles, our minister in Spain, 
" presents a very grave question, which will need investi- 
gation ; . . . and if it prove that an American citizen 
has been wrongfully executed, this government will 
require most ample reparation." 2 At the same time the 
affair was receiving attention in Madrid. Castelar, the 
president of the existing but short-lived Spanish Re- 
public, abhorred bloodshed and disliked military pro- 
nunciamientos? He had the news of the capture of 
the Virginius at seven o'clock on the morning of Novem- 
ber 6 and at once telegraphed to the captain-general at 
Havana " that the death penalty must not be imposed 
on any non-combatant without the previous approval of 
the Cortes, nor upon any persons taken in arms against 
the government without the sanction of the Executive." 
Four days later he said to Sickles : " How deeply I 
deplore the execution of the four prisoners at Santiago 
de Cuba ! [those on November 4]. What a misfortune 
that my order was not received in time to prevent such 
an act ! It was against the law and the only excuse 
offered is that a sentence of death had already been 
pronounced against these men. 4 Such scandals must 
cease." Later Castelar received the intelligence of the 
"wholesale butchery and murder" 5 with deep concern. 

1 Others were sentenced to death but only fifty -three were executed. 

2 Foreign Relations, 1874, p. 922. 

3 Article Castelar, A. E. Houghton, Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. xxvi. 
p. 612. 

4 It was asserted that these four had been tried and sentenced to death 
about two years previously. 

5 Words of Fish. 



The evidence is clear that his order reached Havana 
too late to prevent the executions of November 7 and 8. 
There can be no doubt as to the sincerity of his expres- 
sions of regret. 1 

The Virginius affair caused great excitement in the 
United States. " The People Aroused," " America Arm- 
ing " and " A Burst of Wrath " are some of the news- 
paper headings. The many pending grievances of 
American citizens, sympathy with the insurgents, desire 
for the acquisition of Cuba partly from greed, partly in 
order to abate a nuisance so near our coast, all these 
influences combined to magnify the supposed insult to our 
flag at the hands of " Spanish ferocity and barbarism." 
Influential newspapers of both parties maintained that 
the offence could not be wiped out by an apology and 
urged the government to immediate and violent action 
against Spain." 2 New York City was the focus of the 
excitement ; there indignation over the Virginius was 
enforced by the influence of the Cuban revolutionists 
who made New York their headquarters. A public 
meeting was organized by the Cuban junta, so the 
report ran, but the spontaneity of the proceedings 
showed that manipulation had not been necessary. 
Steinway Hall, full to the doors, listened to an earnest 
speech from William M. Evarts the chairman of the 
meeting which expressed the popular indignation. 
[November 17.] An overflow meeting was held near by 
in Tammany Hall, when S. S. Cox made an inflamma- 
tory speech. It was evident that the procedure of our 
Secretary of State was too slow for the patriots who 
gathered in Tammany Hall, as the mention of his name 
was greeted with hisses and cries, " Down with Fish." 
Governor Hendricks telegraphed to the Steinway Hall 
assembly what he thought was the sentiment of Indiana. 

1 Foreign Relations, 1874, pp. 923, 926, 929, 931, 933. 

2 The Nation, Nov. 20, 1873, p. 332. 


" Spain," he said, cannot be permitted to maintain her 
authority in Cuba by means which civilized nations 
regard as atrocious, and, in the cause of humanity and 
good government the United States should now extend 
their sympathy and power over that island." 1 This 
undoubtedly expressed the popular feeling from New 
York City to the Missouri River. War looked imminent 
and the President authorized the Secretary of the Navy 
to put our navy on a war footing. 2 

There were, however, some cool heads and better in- 
formed that did not approve the general cry. Sumner 
wrote a letter to the Stein way Hall meeting in his best 
vein. He deprecated the " war fever" and " the bellig- 
erent preparations of the last few days." We should not 
forget, he said, " that we are dealing with the Spanish 
nation struggling under terrible difficulties to become a 
sister Republic and therefore deserving from us present 
forbearance and candor. Nor can we forget the noble 
President whose eloquent voice pleading for humanity 
and invoking our example has so often charmed the 
world. The Spanish Republic and Emilio Castelar do 
not deserve the menace of war from us." 3 Although 
this letter is dated November 15 it was not read at the 
meeting of the seventeenth. 4 It was intended to pro- 
duce an effect and might have done so. It must also 
be said that the Steinway Hall gathering and the gen- 
eral public were not aware of the doubt as to the right 
of the Virginius to carry the American flag and they 
knew little if anything of Castelar's prompt action and 
nothing of his expression of profound regret. 

Meanwhile Fish was proceeding with caution. On 
November 12 he informed Sickles confidentially "that 

1 New York Tribune, Nov. 18 ; The Nation, Nov. 27, 1873, p. 345. 

2 Ibid., Nov. 1873, pp. 329, 332 ; Richardson, vol. vii.p. 242. 
8 Sumner's Works., vol. xv. p. 285. 

4 It was said it did not reach the committee until the 18th, The Nation, 
Nov. 27, 1873, p. 345. 


grave suspicions exist as to the right of the Viryinius 
to carry the American flag " and added, Investigation 
is being made." On November 14 he sent by cable to 
Sickles the demand of our government : " Unless abun- 
dant reparation shall have been voluntarily tendered, 
you will demand the restoration of the Virginius, and 
the release and delivery to the United States of the 
persons captured on her who have not already been 
massacred, and that the flag of the United States be 
saluted in the port of Santiago, and the signal punish- 
ment of the officials who were concerned in the capture 
of the vessel and the execution of the passengers and 
crew. In case of refusal of satisfactory reparation 
within twelve days from this date you will . . . close 
your legation and leave Madrid." l 

In all these negotiations Fish made but one slip, and 
that was due in part to a misapprehension of the facts 
and in part to his failure to make sufficient allowance 
for the impetuous temper of our minister to Spain. 
Hearing on November 15 from our acting-consul-general 
in Havana that the newspapers there reported the 
execution of fifty-seven more prisoners and that only 
eighteen would escape death, he repeated the news to 
Sickles adding : " If Spain cannot redress the outrages 
perpetrated in her name in Cuba the United States 
will. If Spain should regard this act of self-defence 
and justification and of the vindication of long-continued 
wrongs, as necessitating her interference, the United 
States, while regretting it, cannot avoid the result. 
You will use this instruction cautiously and discreetly, 
avoiding unnecessarily exciting any proper sensibilities 
and avoiding all appearance of menace ; but the gravity 
of the case admits no doubt and must be fairly and 
frankly met." 2 Official confirmation of the report of 
the additional executions was not forthcoming, and 

1 Foreign Relations, 1874, pp. 927, 936. 2 Ibid., p. 938, see also p. 1071. 


within a day or two Fish learned that it was incorrect ; 
but the mischief was already done in inciting Sickles to 
undue harshness and haste. Sickles proceeded as if war 
must be had at any price. Castelar promptly sent him 
word that the report of further massacres was untrue, 
and later he received an assurance from the minister of 
State that there had been no executions since the orders 
of the government had reached Santiago. These state- 
ments he chose to regard as " a vague denial," and in 
all his subsequent actions was seen the influence of his 
stubborn reliance on the false rumours. He communi- 
cated Fish's demand to the minister of State, who, so 
he cabled to Fish, characterized it as being " without 
foundation, imperious, arbitrary, compulsory and humili- 
ating." This was not a fair summary of the Spaniard's 
reply, which, though unnecessarily controversial, was 
dignified, and ended with a courteous appeal for delay, 
in order that all the facts should be ascertained. 
The whole text of the reply, being sent by a special 
bearer to London and then cabled, did not reach Fish 
until later so that for a while he laboured under a 
misapprehension. 1 

Many of Sickles's despatches were of a nature to ex- 
cite the State department and, if they leaked out, to 
inflame public sentiment in the United States. His 
choice of the means for conveying intelligence operated 
in a like direction. What made for war was cabled ; 
the facts tending to peace were sent by mail. Castelar's 
ardent and sincere expressions of regret being told in 
letters, did not reach Fish until November 28 and 
December 8. 2 On November 19, Sickles telegraphed 
from Madrid : " Popular feeling runs high here against 
United States and this legation. Press violent and 
abusive, advising government to order me out of Spain. 

1 Foreign Relations, 1874, pp. 939, 945, 947, 949, 951. 

2 Ibid., pp. 923, 924, 931. 


Last night a mob was collected to attack and sack the 
legation. The authorities interfered and preserved the 
peace." 1 

On the day before this hysterical despatch was sent, 
Sickles, choosing to regard the reply of the Spanish 
minister of State as a refusal for reparation, cabled to 
Fish that he proposed "to close the legation forthwith"; 
but in the meantime Admiral Polo, the Spanish minis- 
ter at Washington, had entered into the negotiations. 
A result of this new development was Fish's telegram to 
Sickles, " the President holds that the demand for a 
proper length of time to learn the exact state of the 
facts is reasonable." 2 Sickles lingered on, but contrived 
to stretch the meaning of one of Fish's despatches [No- 
vember 25] to such a point that he felt justified in asking 
for his passports. Later he withdrew the request ; but, 
the peremptory mood again seizing him, he determined 
to renew it. This really proved of advantage inasmuch 
as it gave Fish a pretext for ordering that the negotia- 
tions be dropped at Madrid and advising Sickles that 
they would henceforward be conducted at Washington. 8 

On November 29 Fish and Admiral Polo reached an 
agreement. The Virgmius and the survivors of her 
passengers and crew were to be restored forthwith. 
Spain was to salute the flag of the United States on the 
25th of December next unless she should prove to the 
satisfaction of our government that the Virginius at 
the time of her capture was not entitled to carry the 
American flag. Spain was to proceed against such of 

1 Foreign Relations, 1874, p. 954. The minister of State on Nov. 23 
authorized the. Spanish minister at Washington to "contradict report in 
reference to hostile manifestations against the American minister. General 
Sickles is treated with consideration and respect. Some intemperance of 
language but the monarchical press was promptly silenced by the threat 
of immediate punishment." p. 982. 

a Ibid., pp.951, 955. 

8 Ibid., pp. 958, 960, 963, 964, 966. The differences between Fish and 
Sickles resulted in Sickles's resignation. Ibid., pp. 973-975. 


her authorities as had infringed Spanish laws or treaty 
obligations. 1 

On December 16 the Virginius with the American 
flag flying was delivered to the Navy of the United States 
at Bahia Honda, Cuba. In proceeding to New York 
she encountered a severe storm and sank off Cape Fear. 
On December 18, the surviving prisoners were surren- 
dered at Santiago and reached New York in safety. 
The documents in the case were submitted to Attorney- 
General Williams who decided [December 17] "that the 
Virginius at the time of her capture was without right, 
and improperly carrying the American flag." The salute 
to the flag was therefore dispensed with ; the Spanish 
government disclaimed any intent of indignity. 2 

Fish deserves great credit for proceeding in this cool 
and cautious manner when so many strong men were 
swayed by the war sentiment of the country. It appears, 
too, that the President stood behind him at every stage 
of the negotiations. Earl Granville, England's Secretary 
for Foreign Affairs, said that Fish's demand for repara- 
tion was moderate and just, and this opinion was com- 
municated to Castelar. 3 Castelar prided himself on 
terminating the incident " without too much damage to 
the prestige of Spain." 4 

In the process of carrying a subject to its logical con- 
clusion my narrative has often passed over the most 
important event of the year 1873, the financial panic 
which began on September 18 with the failure of Jay 
Cooke & Co. Nearly all authorities agree that the para- 

1 Foreign Relations, 1874, pp. 970, 987. 

2 President's message of Jan. 5, 1874 ; Foreign Relations, 1874, p. 1113. 

3 Ibid., p. 959. 

4 Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. xxvi. p. 613. My main authorities for 
this account are Foreign Relations, 1874 ; the President's messages of 
Dec. 1, 1873, Jan. 5, 1874. Richardson, vol. vii. pp. 241, 256. I have also 
used The Nation ; Pierce's Sumner, vol. iv. ; Sumner's Works, vol. xv. 


mount cause of the panic was excessive railroad con- 
struction. The completion of the Union Pacific Railroad 
in 1869 marked the beginning of the era. Railroads 
were built out into the western wilderness to open up 
territory on which grain might be grown to supply 
Europe. Coal and iron roads were constructed ; old 
railroads increased their facilities by adding either a 
second track or long sidings. From 1865 to 1868 inclu- 
sive, the average annual increment of new railroad had 
been but a little over 2000 miles. But in 1869, 4953 
miles had been built ; in 1870, 5690 ; in 1871, 7670 ; and 
in 1872, 6167, making over 24,000 miles in four years. 1 It 
was an axiom in the iron trade that nothing led to so 
great a consumption of iron as did the construction of 
new lines of railroad. The rails themselves represented 
a large quantity of raw iron, and so did the equipment 
of the roads the wheels, axles and other parts of the 
cars and locomotives. All this was actually fresh use of 
material, increasing the consumption in a vastly greater 
degree than did the renewals of old railroads. One of the 
great enterprises was that of Cornelius Vanderbilt. The 
existing two tracks of his New York Central Railroad 
were inadequate to the business available to the road and 
he reasoned that he must have four tracks, two to be used 
for passenger trains at rapid speed, and two for freight 
which, moving slowly but constantly, without inter- 
ference and waits, would combine economy with despatch. 
A characteristic of this period was the replacement, by 
established and financially sound railways, of their old 
iron rails by new ones made from Bessemer steel; but the 
old iron, which was taken up, went into consumption 
as did the scrap from outworn cars and locomotives. 
The 24,000 miles of new railroad construction in four 
years entailed an enormous business in iron. The coun- 
try's iron furnaces and mills, all crowded to their utmost 

Poor's Manual, 1876-1877. 


capacity, were not sufficient to meet the demand, and 
pig-iron and rails were imported in large quantities 
from Great Britain. Activity in one industry breeds it 
in another. Through iron there was now an induced 
expansion of every business and manufacture in the 
country. Part of the earnings of the old railroads was 
derived from carrying materials for the construction of 
the new. The transportation on the great inland lakes 
was affected: vessels had a large amount of business at 
high freights and this stimulated the construction of new 
lake carriers. Labourers had full employment, wages 
were good and immigration was fostered with the result 
that every cotton and woollen factory and practically 
every workshop of any kind was busy. In a word, dur- 
ing 1869, 1870 and 1871 business was good in the quiet 
satisfactory way of large sales at fair prices and mod- 
erate profits. In 1872, feverish conditions began to pre- 
vail, one symptom being the excessively high price of 
iron. During that year the average price of No. 1 
anthracite foundry pig-iron in Philadelphia was 149 
per ton, of iron rails |85, of steel 1112, advances over 
the previous year respectively of $14, $15, and Jfl.2. 1 In 
Pittsburg and Cleveland prices ruled even higher. The 
demand was active, profits were large, and nearly every 
iron-master was seized with the desire to expand his 
works so as to increase his output. These extensions 
required more iron, and accordingly general business 
was again stimulated. 

Had there been sufficient capital in the country to 
finance the construction of these new railroads and had 
it been properly applied this extraordinary display of 
energy in opening up new country for the raising of 
grain and in providing new ways to bring coal and iron 
more cheaply and expeditiously to market would have 
been a boon. But energy outran available means. The 

1 Iron in All Ages, Swank, p. 391. 


active spirits, who were building the roads, had to bor- 
row the necessary money, and theoretically this was to 
be obtained from the sale of bonds. For a while this 
plan may have answered ; but a large enterprise, such 
as the construction of a new railroad, needed in the long 
run the backing of a New York banking-house of large 
means and undoubted credit. Thus Jay Cooke & Co. 
undertook to finance the Northern Pacific ; Fisk and 
Hatch, the Chesapeake and Ohio; and Kenyon, Cox 
& Co., the Canada Southern. They advanced money 
for the w T ork of construction, and when a sufficient 
mileage had been built on which to base an issue of 
bonds they prepared them in the usual manner and 
endeavoured to sell them to investors. Jay Cooke & 
Co. had had a large experience in the marketing of 
government bonds and their scheme of popular sub- 
scriptions had brought them celebrity and convinced 
them of the efficacy of this method for a flotation of 
securities. Their offer of Northern Pacific 7-30 gold 
bonds at a price, which yielded nearly 81 per cent, 
interest, was advertised everywhere, especially in the 
religious newspapers. Their operations as government 
agents, their known energy and high character seemed 
a guaranty that everything they took hold of would 
be carried to a successful issue. Many experienced in- 
vestors must have taken these bonds, but a feature of 
the flotation was its popularity among clergymen, 
school-teachers, and others, whose small savings were 
attracted by the high rate of interest. But time and 
money were lacking to make this railroad a lucrative 
enterprise. Jay Cooke & Co., and other bankers as 
well, had overreached the possibilities of their capital : 
they had been too sanguine of success in operations that 
were in advance of their day. 

From the beginning of this " boom " it was recog- 
nized that American enterprise had outstripped Ameri- 
can capital and recourse was had to Europe whose 


financiers were eager to lend. Germany's and Holland's 
investments in United States governments had turned 
out so advantageously that their confidence in American 
securities was unbounded and, except during the period 
of the Franco-German war, they sought investments in 
American railway bonds for a part of their surplus 
capital. England's capitalists had guessed wrong as to 
the outcome of our Civil War and, lacking confidence in 
Northern finance, had looked askance at our govern- 
ment bonds, so that they had little share in the golden 
harvest gleaned from their advance in price as the 
security became undoubted ; now, therefore, they were 
all the more eager for good railway bonds. From 
taking the bonds of existing railroads it was but a step 
to advancing money for the construction of the new 
and in such an operation there was a great apparent 
profit. British iron masters had a keen desire for a 
part of the great American market and many trans- 
actions, through their various degrees, were tantamount 
to an exchange of their rails for American bonds. When 
Abram S. Hewitt was travelling in South Wales he 
found " that the vilest trash which could be dignified by 
the name of iron went universally by the name of the 
American rail " and by this was meant rails destined to 
be shipped to America. 1 Later the English promoter 
might well have said that the rails were as good as the 
bonds, in view of the many defaults in interest after 
1873 ; but when the rails wore out after a brief use, or 
broke causing fatal accidents, the American may have 
thought he had the greater reason to complain. 

There was no end to American schemes ; there would 
in time have been an end to European money but, for- 
tunately for England, Germany and Holland, a sharp 
financial panic in May 1873 on the Vienna Bourse 
warned every European investor and banker that he 

1 Hewitt's report cited in The Nation, April 7, 1870, p. 221. 


must watch carefully his commitments and set his 
financial house in order. The Vienna panic stopped the 
negotiation in Europe of bonds of new railroads and 
made difficult the sale of those of companies of 
established credit. The glut of American railway bonds 
in Europe forced the New York bankers to carry the 
new railroads which they backed, by straining their own 
individual credit. This became increasingly difficult. 
Money was tight in the autumn of 1872 and ruled high. 
In better supply during the following winter and spring 
it was fairly easy on call during the early summer of 
1873. But securities were carefully scrutinized and at 
times the lowest quoted rates were to be had only 
with government bonds as collateral. For new enter- 
prises, for legitimate trade even, there was a perceptible 
gradual hardening of rates and a diminution of the 
money supply. Such were the principal developments 
in the situation up to the end of August 1873. 

At that time it is not surprising that business men 
and bankers did not foresee what was coming. Pros- 
perity was written all over the face of things. Manu- 
facturers were busy, workmen in demand ; streets and 
shops were crowded, and everywhere new buildings 
going up. Railroad earnings as compared with 1872 
showed a gratifying increase. Prices of commodities 
were high, demand pretty good ; everybody seemed to 
be making money and nobody suspected for a moment 
that he was living in a fool's paradise. For the basis 
of all this activity appeared to be sound. The wheat 
crop was large and the product of corn, though smaller 
than that of the previous year, was nevertheless fairly 
good. The best authorities reported that the supply 
of breadstuffs in Europe would be short and that there 
would be a ready demand at high prices for every avail- 
able "bushel of our exportable cereals. 1 Wheat had 

1 Commercial and Financial Chronicle, Sept. 13, 1873. 


begun to move and the old corn was coming forth ; it 
was feared that the capacity of the railroads and ocean 
steamships would be insufficient to carry the freight 
that was offered them. It was estimated that the cotton 
crop would exceed four million bales (then a large 
product) and for this the demand in Europe was of 
course constant. If prices were high, it might be asked, 
were they abnormal ? Transportation was the sure 
gauge of activity and was not Cornelius Vanderbilt, the 
greatest captain of industry, paying 1120 per ton for 
steel rails for his four-track road ? Would this far-see- 
ing man make such preparations at so high a cost unless 
he believed existing conditions permanent ? Money it 
is true was tight but this was surely an indication of 
prosperity : it was due to the demand of the West and 
South for their New York funds in order to move the 
crops. Late in the autumn, the greenbacks and other 
currency would return to the money centre having been 
advantageously employed in sending our surplus products 
abroad, and thereby reducing our foreign debts and 
enhancing our credit. Such reasoning looked plausible 
enough in August 1873. 

The fact is there had been overtrading an excessive 
conversion of circulating capital into fixed capital but 
the financial history of our country shows that it is ex- 
tremely difficult for bankers and traders to know when 
the danger-point has been reached. They know too 
well that the tide " taken at the flood leads on to for- 
tune " and if this be 

" Omitted, all the voyage of their life 
Is bound in shallows and in miseries." 

Or as they might express it, The croakers and calamity 
howlers never achieve success. And now the optimists 
were at the helm and did not know that the tide had 

Money grew closer. One unfavourable bank state- 


ment followed another. " Very unfavourable " was 
that of September 6. Money on call was 7 per 
cent, and one-sixteenth premium. Commercial paper 
sold at 9 to 12 per cent. During the week from Sep- 
tember 8 to 13 there were a number of failures which 
" had a bad effect upon the street " causing an " un- 
settled feeling and want of confidence." 1 Nevertheless 
the failure of Jay Cooke & Co. on September 18 came 
like a thunderbolt from a clear sky. " The first an- 
nouncement on Thursday that they had suspended was 
received with almost derisive incredulity on the part of 
the mercantile public." 2 But when it was known to 
be an actual fact, the Stock Exchange was seized with 
frenzy. There was a general rush to sell stocks, but 
buyers were exceedingly scarce. Western Union Tele- 
graph, " the leading fancy in the market " fell from 89 
to 541 ; New York Central " the piece de resistance of 
the Stock Exchange " from 104 to 89. 3 Next day was 
announced the failure of the banking house of Fisk and 
Hatch which was believed to be " one of the richest and 
soundest " in New York. 4 The names of eighteen other 
firms, unable to stand by their contracts, were read off 
that day in the Exchange. 5 The panic terror in Wall 
Street caused general distrust throughout the city. A 
run began on the Union Trust Co., a " Vanderbilt " 
institution, and on the Fourth National Bank. On Sat- 
urday morning the Union Trust Co. and the National 
Trust Co. suspended and the National Bank of the 
Commonwealth failed. The excitement on the Stock 
Exchange was intense ; prices declined rapidly ; offers 
were many but no one dared to bid. The Governing 

1 The Nation, Sept. 18, p. 200. 

2 Commercial and Financial Chronicle, Sept. 20 ; see The Nation, Sept. 
26, p. 216. 

8 Commercial and Financial Chronicle, Sept. 20, 27 ; Horace White, 
Fortnightly Review, June 1876, p. 811. 

4 The Nation, Sept. 25, p. 216. 6 Ibid. ; Harper's Weekly, Oct. 4. 


committee met at about eleven and decided to close the 
Exchange at once until further notice. 

In the meanwhile the Clearing-House Association 
devised a measure of relief. It decided to issue to 
banks, on application, clearing-house certificates to the 
amount of 75 per cent, of the face value of their bills 
receivable or other securities subjected to a proper 
scrutiny, or at par on United States bonds or gold cer- 
tificates. These clearing-house certificates might be 
used at the clearing-house in the settlement of balances 
instead of greenbacks, then the medium in which the 
differences were paid. Ten million dollars of them were 
authorized and issued. The design was to help the 
weaker b.anks, the failure of which might produce utter 
derangement even to the point of overturning the 
stronger. " I am not aware," writes Horace White, 
" that this device was ever before resorted to as a means 
of ballasting commerce against the temporary effects of 
a panic." 1 

On Sunday [September 21] President Grant and his 
Secretary of the Treasury, William A. Richardson (who 
had succeeded Boutwell) were in New T York and had a 
conference at the Fifth Avenue Hotel with a number of 
the leading business men and financiers of the city. 
They were urged to issue a part or the whole of the 
so-called reserve of $44,000,000 of greenbacks which had 
been retired and cancelled by McCulloch. Boutwell on 
three different occasions had reissued small amounts of 
it to meet the current expenses of the government 2 but 
these had been withdrawn from circulation and the 
" reserve " was now intact. " I happened in New York 
on that Sunday," said Senator Morton, " and saw the 
crowds of bankers, brokers, capitalists, merchants, 

1 The Fortnightly Review, June 1876, p. 812. But see Commercial and 
Financial Chronicle, Oct. 11, 1873, p. 478. 

2 Cong. Record, Jan. 16, 1874, p. 704. 


manufacturers and railroad men who throughout that 
day thronged the halls, corridors and parlors of the 
Fifth Avenue Hotel, beseeching the President to increase 
the currency by every means in his power, and declaring 
that unless the government came to the rescue nothing 
could save the country from bankruptcy and ruin." l 
The President refused to trench upon the reserve for 
the purpose of easing the money market but he decided 
to purchase bonds with the other surplus greenbacks in 
the Treasury. 

The week [September 21-27] that followed was one 
of intense gloom. The Stock Exchange remained closed. 
On Tuesday Henry Clews & Co. suspended and next 
day the conservative banking house of Howes and 
Macy. The hoarding of money, the inevitable accom- 
paniment of financial panics, had begun immediately on 
the failure of Jay Cooke but this time it was green- 
backs and national bank-notes that were laid away 
instead of specie as during previous panics. The fear 
that the banks would not redeem their notes did not 
exist. Nobody went to a national bank to demand the 
redemption of its bills; but large numbers drew out their 
deposits in greenbacks or the bills of any national bank 
and these they hoarded. Partly in order to discourage 
this practice, and partly because of sheer lack of funds, 
the banks on September 24 " ceased paying large cheques 
at their counters but certified them < good through the 
clearing-house.' ' Small cheques were cashed as usual. 
On the same day the Clearing-House Association author- 
ized ten million dollars more of clearing-house certifi- 
cates, and these were put out making the issue twenty 
millions. Meanwhile the government, having purchased 
about 113,000,000 of bonds had reached the end of its 

1 March 23, 1874. Cong. Record, p. 2354. Morton urged on the Presi- 
dent the issue of the whole 44 millions to relieve the money market. Foulke, 
Tol. ii. p. 317. 2 H . White, p. 813. 


tether and stopped this mode of relief. 1 Most of the 
greenbacks thus paid out for bonds went into the 
Savings Banks and did not help Wall Street but 
the moral effect was great. The withdrawal of cur- 
rency from the National Banks was succeeded by a run 
or a quiet drain on the Savings Institutions, and while 
most of these had required the 30 or 60 days' legal notice 
from their depositors, the actual possession of a goodly 
amount of greenbacks was a tower of strength. Towards 
the end of the week 3 to 5 per cent, premium was paid 
for currency. 

The effects of the Jay Cooke failure and the efforts 
to mitigate them were much the same in most of the 
other cities of the country as in New York. It was 
soon understood that a commercial crisis had come, not 
a mere Wall Street panic. The banks had the same 
difficulty in getting currency and keeping it ; they found 
it impossible to take care of all their customers and 
were obliged to let some of the more solvent go to 
protest. Good two-name paper brought as high as 2-| 
per cent, per month. Rich men were embarrassed in 
paying their personal bills. Most of the Savings Banks 
took advantage of their legal protection and required 
sixty days' notice before paying their depositors. 2 

The Jay Cooke failure caused a veritable paralysis in 
the industrial regions of Pennsylvania, western New 
York and the middle West. The wheels did not all 
stop at once but customers could not pay for the goods 
which they had ordered, and, most serious matter of all, 
manufacturers and proprietors of coal mines could not 
obtain the currency to pay their men. Arrangements 
were made with the banks to pay them in part ; for the 
balance some issued store-orders, some shinplasters or 
evidences of credit. Chicago, being the great mart for 

1 Eeport of Secretary of Treasury, Dec. 1. 

2 There was at least one notable exception in Cleveland. 



grain, beef and pork was of all cities the best off, inas- 
much as her produce would always fetch money. Cur- 
rency flowed thither and her banks did not resort to 
the device of clearing-house certificates ; but, because of 
the scarcity of small notes, her municipal government 
issued five and ten dollar shinplasters. 1 

On Tuesday [September 30] the Stock Exchange re- 
opened having remained eight days closed, an event 
unparalleled in its history. No great excitement attended 
the operations of the board. The banks were issuing no 
more clearing-house certificates and, although the rate 
for money on call was 7 per cent, and upwards, and on 
commercial paper 15 to 18 per cent, they now felt able 
to cope with the situation. On October 13, the National 
Trust Co. resumed business and it was expected that 
the Union Trust Co. would soon do likewise. 2 The 
financial panic, properly defined, was over. 3 

The course of the panic emphasizes the truth of my 
statement at the outset that its prime cause was the 
excessive railroad building the putting into roadbed, 
rails and equipment a large part of the circulating capi- 
tal of the country and all the money that could be bor- 
rowed abroad. But other influences may have served to 
hasten this panic of 1873, which according to the cyclic 
theory came four years before it was due. One of 
these was the waste and impoverishment contingent 
upon the prosecution of the Civil War ; 4 another, the 

1 H. White, p. 813 ; Harper's Monthly, Dec. 1873, p. 129. 

2 It resumed Dec. 1. 

8 My authorities for this account are the Commercial and Financial 
Chronicle; The Nation; Horace White in the Fortnightly Review, June 
1876 ; Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1873 ; Hyndman, Commercial Crises 
of the Nineteenth Century ; Harper's Monthly, Dec. 1873 ; Harper's Weekly, 
Oct. 4, 1873 ; Dewey, Financial History. 

4 Stanwood lays stress on this writing, " A truer and more philosophical 
view of it [the panic of 1873] is that it was a direct, though long postponed, 
consequence of the waste and impoverishment of the war period itself." 
American Tariff Controversies, vol. ii. p. 142. 

112 CHICAGO FIRE [1871 

immense destruction of property by the great fires of 
Chicago and Boston. 

On the evening of Sunday October 8, 1871 a stable on 
the West side of the river in Chicago took fire, and, as 
the buildings in that quarter were mostly of wood and 
lumber yards were near by, the fire, fanned by a stiff 
southwest gale, was soon beyond the control of the fire 
department and at midnight leaped across the river to 
the South side, working destruction among stores, ware- 
houses, public buildings, churches, hotels, and theatres. 
Again crossing to the North side of the river it swept 
clean that comfortable and stately residential quarter 
as far as Lincoln Park. The fire raged for twenty-four 
hours and burned over an area of 2100 acres, covering 
four to five miles from north to south, and one to one and 
a half miles from east to west ; 17,500 buildings were 
destroyed and 100,000 people rendered homeless. The 
loss of life was about 250, of property 200 millions. 1 

On Saturday evening November 9, 1872 a fire started 
at the corner of Kingston and Summer streets in Boston 

1 Chicago and the Great Conflagration, Colbert and Chamberlain ; 
Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1871 ; Andrews, The Last Quarter Century, 
vol. i. The Nation said Oct. 12, 1871 : "At the close of business on Mon- 
day [on the New York Stock Exchange Oct. 9] a gloomy atmosphere, an unde- 
fined sense of dread and terror, overhung the entire financial community and 
the ablest, calmest, most conservative did not hesitate to express their fear 
that the catastrophe of Chicago will prove but the beginning of widespread 
financial and commercial difficulty. . . . The destruction of so large an 
amount of property at Chicago has a most disastrous effect, and tends to 
destroy credit in every direction and to precipitate a panic." My own 
recollection from the business point of view in Cleveland coincides with this 
statement. There was great excitement on that Monday, as fragmentary 
despatches came through with difficulty, telling of the progress of the fire in 
destroying well-known buildings on the South side. This was succeeded by 
an intense gloom as at noon the cannon boomed out its mournful call for a 
meeting of citizens on the Public Square for the purpose of raising money for 
the relief of the unfortunate sister city. As we have seen, the fears of the 
business community were not realized. The Nation said Oct. 19, "The 
panic produced in financial and commercial circles by the Chicago fire has 


and raged all night and next day, destroying nearly all 
the buildings in the district bounded by Summer, Wash- 
ington, and State streets and the water front, an area 
of about sixty-five acres. The money loss was about 
73 millions. 1 

Another cause assigned for the panic was the state of 
our circulating medium. " I reject," writes Horace 
White, "the notion that the currency, irredeemable 
though it be, was any considerable agent in bringing on 
the crisis. . . . Irredeemable currency has sins enough 
of its own to answer for without loading it with trans- 
gressions in no way peculiar to it, and having an entirely 
different parentage." 2 This is probably true, but it is 

1 Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1872. The fire got speedily beyond the 
control of the Fire Department whose operations were hampered by the 
prevalence of the epizootic. The Nation of Nov. 14 spoke of "the destruc- 
tion of sixty acres of such warehouses and stores as no other city on the 
continent could show. ... In their warehouses the merchants of Boston 
have of late been accustomed to take a pride, and many a line of solid and 
handsome buildings attests the dignity of the 'solid men of Boston.' . . . 
Now there is nothing but rubbish remaining of the many hundreds of granite 
and iron structures in which the dry-goods merchants, wool merchants and 
leather merchants . . . carried on trade. . . . Trinity Church, the Mercan- 
tile Library and the Merchants' Exchange went down but the famous Old 
South Church was saved." 

Phillips Brooks wrote in a private letter on Nov. 12, 1872 : u Last Saturday 
night and Sunday were fearful. For a time it seemed as if the thing would 
never stop so long as there was anything left to burn. Everybody has suffered, 
almost everybody severely. Very many have lost all. ... It began about 
eight o'clock Saturday evening and hour after hour it went on growing worse 
and worse. Street after street went like paper. There were sights so 
splendid and awful as I never dreamed of and now the desolation is bewil- 
dering. ... It is pitiable to see the rich men who have been reduced to 
poverty in a night." Life, vol. ii. p. 67. 

For the effect on the New York Stock Exchange see The Nation, Nov. 14. 

The two fires in Chicago and Boston were the largest ever known in this 
country and had a profound effect on business thought as introducing a new 
element of risk into affairs. The flimsy, wooden buildings on a prairie, 
subject to high prairie winds, had explained the Chicago fire, but now the 
granite and iron buildings of Boston likewise succumbed to the devouring 

2 Fortnightly Review, June 1876, p. 824. 




also a fair presumption that if the country had been on 
a specie basis, the panic might have been postponed. In 
December 1871 gold touched 108|-, a decline of 40 from 
the high point of December 1865 ; and it seems to me 
that clever financing should have brought gold to par dur- 
ing 1871. " One-tenth of the money we have used to pay 
the public debt not due would have brought us to a 
specie standard," declared John Sherman in the Senate 
on January 16, 1874. " No one supposes that under an 
ordinary state of affairs the currency of the country 
the greenbacks need be reduced below three hundred 
millions to bring us to a specie standard. . . . That 
would be a reduction of $56,000,000. Fifty-six millions 
of the money that we have applied to the payment of 
the debt not yet due would have brought all the remain- 
ing greenbacks up to par in gold, would have made our 
bank-notes convertible into the standard of gold, and we 
would have had, almost without knowing it, specie pay- 
ment a solid, safe and secure basis. . . . Thousands 
of men who have been ruined by the false ideas that 
have sprung from this fever-heated, depreciated paper 
money would be now useful, able and successful business 
men, instead of being ruined by bankruptcy." l If 
McCulloch had been supported by Congress and if his 
policy had been continued during Grant's first admin- 
istration or if Sherman's plan, differing though it did 
from McCulloch's, had been adopted in its entirety, it is 
highly probable that resumption might have been 
reached in 1871 and been afterwards maintained. In 
that event the active demand for money during the 
autumn of 1872 would have brought gold to this country 
from Europe and been available for settling balances 
and as a reserve. Indeed, after the failure of Jay Cooke, 
a considerable movement of gold from England to the 
United States took place, so that the Bank of England 

Cong. Eecord) p. 701. 


made successive advances of its rate of discount from 4 
to 9 per cent, to check it ; but, because of its greater 
value than the paper money, the gold could not enter 
into circulation and so afford relief in this most desirable 
of all forms. 

Though the Wall Street panic was over, the com- 
mercial crisis continued. The impetus of good business 
had been such that railroad earnings for October had 
not been affected but they fell off materially in Novem- 
ber. In the general paralysis, receivers of goods could 
not pay the freight which was generally settled in cash 
and a system of credit was established in accordance 
with which the railroads took their customers' cheques 
and withheld them from deposit until notified that they 
could be paid. On November 1 a number of railroads 
defaulted in the payment of the interest on their bonds. 
Every solvent consumer curtailed his purchases and 
those whose credit was not above suspicion could no 
longer buy. Hence resulted a closing of cotton and iron 
mills and other manufacturing establishments. La- 
bourers were thrown out of employment and their pur- 
chasing power ceased. Economies of all sorts were 
practised. Commodities were plenty and money scarce. 
Failures outside of Wall Street began. The Spragues 
of Providence failed with liabilities of over eleven 
millions, a larger debt than was owed by the State of 
Rhode Island and all its cities and towns taken together. 
H. B. Claflin & Co. of New York, the largest whole- 
sale dry-goods house in the country asked and received 
from their creditors an extension of four and a half 
months. The paper of the California and Texas Con- 
struction Co., who were engaged in building the Texas 
and Pacific Railroad, went to protest ; and what gave 
this a national significance was that, together with the 
endorsement of a number of Pennsylvania financiers and 
railroad men, it bore that of Thomas A. Scott the first 
Vice-President of the Pennsylvania Railroad and the 


ablest railway manager in America. Before the panic 
Scott had been among the most sanguine. It was ru- 
moured that the Pennsylvania Railroad would be obliged 
to pass its regular semi-annual dividend : this did not 
prove true but the company was forced to pay it in 
scrip that was made redeemable on March 1, 1875. 1 

These failures and extensions are an example of what 
went on all over the country. One failure led to an- 
other for suspicion and dread hung over the whole 
business community. Meetings of creditors were fre- 
quent. The balances struck by traders and manufac- 
turers on January 1, 1874 were dismal reading. How 
shall we pull through the year ? was the anxious inquiry 
of some. Those whose solvency was undoubted saw 
their anticipated profits of 1873 melting away. Their 
surplus, instead of being in money or good bills receiv- 
able, was largely in notes and accounts that were im- 
paired or quite worthless. 

The aftermath of the panic of 1873 was of long dura- 
tion. No genuine revival of business took place until 
1878. 2 The mercantile failures for 1873 and the three 
years following were $775,000,000 ; the railway defaults 
up to January 1, 1876, $779,000,000 of which $226,000,000 
of such defaults had occurred before the September panic 
began. 3 These five years [1873-1878] are a long dismal 

1 Commercial and Financial Chronicle, Nov. 1, 8, Dec. 13 ; The Nation, 
Nov. 6, 13. 

2 It is frequently stated that the revival did not take place until 1879 and 
so it generally appeared at the time to men engaged in affairs ; but a close 
study of business transactions and of trade statistics warrants the statement 
in the text. 

3 Commercial and Financial Chronicle, Jan. 22, 1876, Jan. 20, 1877 ; The 
Nation, Aug. 3, 1893. Arthur T. Hadley writes : " The 4 Eailroad Gazette ' 
of Sept. 27, 1878 furnishes statistics concerning forty-five roads dealt in by 
the New York Stock Exchange and in soundness presumably above the aver- 
age of those in the country. The aggregate value of these roads at their 
highest prices in 1873 (reduced to a gold basis) was $567,000,000 ; at the 
lowest prices of the same year it had fallen to $380,000,000 ; while in Septem- 
ber 1878, it was still only $460,000,000, Still more to the purpose are the 


tale of declining markets, exhaustion of capital, a lower- 
ing in value of all kinds of property including real estate, 
constant bankruptcies, close economy in business and 
grinding frugality in living, idle mills, furnaces and fac- 
tories, former profit-earning iron mills reduced to the value 
of a scrap heap, labourers out of employment, reductions 
of wages, strikes and lockouts, the great railroad riots of 
1877, suffering of the unemployed, depression and despair. 

The assembly of Congress in December 1873 was 
hailed with delight as the country looked to it for finan- 
cial relief. Over sixty different remedies embodied 
either in petitions or bills were presented to the Senate ; 
all these were referred to the Committee on Finance, at 
the head of which was Sherman, a master mind in 
finance and an accomplished statesman. 1 On Decem- 
ber 15 a resolution from the majority of the committee 
looking to the resumption of specie payments and one 
offered by Ferry of Michigan hinting at an inflation of 
the paper currency brought the subject before the Senate 
and for nearly four months the debate went on. The 
consideration of various bills was finally resolved into a 
discussion whether the actual greenback circulation 
should be increased by act of Congress. As to the addi- 
tional amount there was a difference among the " paper 
money trinity " as Thurman called Morton, Logan and 
Ferry. 2 Ferry desired an increase of $100,000,000 whilst 

figures concerning foreclosures furnished at the beginning of each year by 
the 'Railway Age.' In 1876 they were sold under foreclosure (this term 
being apparently used in a rather wide sense), 3846 miles of road 
representing $218,000,000 of capital ; and in the four years succeeding 
3875, 3902, 4909, 3775 miles of road representing investments of $199,- 
000.000, $312,000,000, $243,000,000, and $264,000,000 respectively [total, 
$1,236,000,000]. One-fifth of the railway investment of the country sold 
under foreclosure in these five years of settlement!" Lalor's Cyclopaedia, 
vol. iii. p. 41. 

1 The other members were Morrill of Vermont, Scott, Wright, Ferry of 
Michigan, Fenton and Bayard. 2 April 6, 1874. Cong. Record, p. 2833. 


Morton would for the present be contented with the 
reissue of the whole so-called " reserve " which would put 
into circulation $44,000,000 greenbacks more than were 
out on the day that Jay Cooke & Co. closed their doors. 
Before Congress met, however, and afterwards while 
the Senate was deliberating, Richardson, the Secretary 
of the Treasury, was inflating the currency on his own 
account. As a result of the September panic the revenue 
of the government had fallen off and to make up the 
deficit and provide for his current disbursements, he re- 
issued during the first ten days of October, 1873 three 
or four millions of the greenback "reserve." As this 
seemed an easy way to finance the government he kept 
the printing presses going until by January 10, 1874 he 
had reissued a total of 26 millions and the greenbacks 
outstanding amounted to $382,000,000. * When this 
action was questioned in the Senate Boutwell came 
to the support of his successor in the Treasury Depart- 
ment. He had himself, he said, while Secretary issued 
on three different occasions a small portion of the 44 
millions and McCulloch had once in a small way 
availed himself of the same expedient. 2 Boutwell had 
believed his action legal and so had the Attorney-Gen- 
eral. He had informed the Committee on Finance of 
the Senate and the Committee of Ways and Means of 
the House of his action and these committees and Con- 
gress had given a silent consent. 3 Sherman's matured 

1 Commercial and Financial Chronicle, Oct. 11, 1873 ; Sherman, Cong. 
Record, Jan. 16, 1874, p. 700. 

2 Boutwell was hardly candid in the endeavour to support his and Rich- 
ardson's method of finance by the authority of McCulloch. One of 
Boutwell's increases was 6 millions in Oct. 1872, made, however, by Richard- 
son, while the Secretary was absent ; another was $1,500,000, see S. E. D., 42d 
Cong. 3d Sess. Nos. 42, 275, Cong. Record, 1874, pp. 2449, 2450. The 
only increase that McCulloch made, unless the amount was paid back within 
the current month, was in Jan. 1867, the amount being $929,000. 

3 Cong. Record, p. 704. Boutwell restored the amount of his several 
reissues so that at the beginning of Richardson's administration and also on 
the day that Jay Cooke failed the amount outstanding was 356 millions. 


opinion was contrary to Boutwell's. "I submitted to 
the Senate a formal report," he said, which denied his 
[Richardson's] power to issue the 126,000,000 and from 
the beginning to the end of this controversy I have held 
that that $26,000,000 was unlawfully issued and I now 
assert it again." l " No man believes more firmly than 
I do," declared Thurman, one of the best lawyers in the 
Senate, "that the Secretary of the Treasury misunder- 
stood the law when he issued this $26,000,000. I have 
never seen a legal question upon which my mind was 
clearer than that ; " 2 and Schurz who had a remarkable 
power of assimilating sound legal doctrine arrived at 
the same conclusion. 3 The dicta of these three senators, 
supported as they were by a mass of trained and com- 
petent opinion in the Senate, may be regarded as de- 
cisive. 4 No one questioned Richardson's honesty or 
good intentions and of course he acted with the author- 
ity of the President ; but to repose in one man the 
power of thus inflating the currency was monstrous. 
Skilled financiers like McCulloch and Sherman as Secre- 
taries of the Treasury would have rejected the thought 
of such an operation, yet the incompetent Richardson, 
with no real warrant of law and only doubtful prece- 
dents, made of every man's business his football. 

That Sherman and Thurman of Ohio and Schurz of 
Missouri, a Republican, a Democrat and an Independent 
should be found thus arrayed against the " paper-money 
trinity" was a significant fact. The East with its 
greater capital and more stable conditions found adhe- 
rence to sound financial doctrine comparatively easy, 
while the West, which was largely in debt to the East 
and Europe, found it very difficult. Western business 
men and manufacturers were clamouring for more 
money and were entirely satisfied with the "battle- 

1 April 6, 1874, Cong. Record, p. 2826, see also p. 700. 

2 March 26, ibid., p. 2484. March 25, ibid., p. 2442. 

4 See also Garfield's remarks in the House, April 9 ; Works, vol. ii. p. 179. 


born, blood-sealed " greenback. Indeed it was the best 
money they had ever known. Before the Civil War (as 
I have previously stated), while the country was on a 
specie basis, little specie, except fractional silver pieces, 
was in circulation throughout the West. The actual 
currency was paper bills, badly engraved or printed, 
easily counterfeited, most of it current in the East only 
at a discount ; and, when the panics of 1837 and 1857 
came, a large part of these promises to pay turned out 
to be worthless. The attractive-looking greenbacks 
issued by the government could be passed at their face 
value from one end of the country to the other and 
when the panic came, men hoarded them and the banks 
eagerly accumulated them because they were a legal- 
tender and invariably good. It is hardly surprising, 
then, that Western men, as they contrasted this with 
their former wild-cat currency, forgot that the green- 
back was a promise to pay and thought it was actually 
a dollar. In this time of stress, when they were strug- 
gling to meet their promissory notes, striving by all 
means to keep the wheels of their factories turning, and 
even anxious about their means of living, they naturally 
urged their senators and representatives to afford them 
the supposed relief so easily in their power. Sherman, 
Schurz and Thurman, all able men, feeling that they had 
constituents as well as brother senators to convince, in- 
formed their speeches during this session with a force 
and earnestness that might have been lacking had they 
lived in a community thoroughly at one with them- 

" I say to senators," declared Sherman, " that if now, 
in this time of temporary panic, we yield one single 
inch to the desire for paper money in this country, we 
shall pass the Rubicon, and there will be no power in 
Congress to check the issue. If you want forty millions 
now, how easy will it be to get forty millions again. If 
you want one hundred millions now, convertible into 

CH. XL.] 



three sixty-five currency bonds, how soon will you want 
one hundred millions more ? Will there not always be 
men in debt ? Will not always men with bright hopes 
embark too far on the treacherous sea of credit ? Will 
there riot always be a demand made upon you for an 
increase ? And when you have passed the Rubicon 
where can you stop ? Where our ancestors stopped at 
the close of the Revolution; where the French people 
stopped in the midst of their revolutionary fervor ! " l 

" Business," argued Morton, " cannot be revived suc- 
cessfully on the old volume of currency. The wants of 
the country have been growing. There has been a grow- 
ing stringency for the last four or five years. While 
the volume of currency has not been increased the 
volume of business has, and this stricture has been in- 
creasing from day to day. . . . Congress ought to 
declare the issue [of greenbacks] legal up to the aggre- 
gate amount of four hundred millions. The increase of 
the circulation to meet the demands of increasing busi- 
ness wealth and population, is not inflation in any reason- 
able sense. You might as well talk about inflating the 
population of the country. . . . The paper money 
issued by one government may be worthless or nearly 
so, while that issued by another may be equal in value 
to gold, owing to the stability of that government and 
the wealthy and prosperous nation it represents. . . . 
The great business of this generation, and of generations 
to come, is the development and improvement of our 
own country, the upbuilding of our industries and the 
establishment of our independence commercially as it 
was long ago established politically. Our foreign com- 
merce is a mere bagatelle when compared with our 
domestic trade ; and instead of making the interests and 
prosperity of the latter depend on the former, I would 
much prefer to reverse their relations. Our country 

1 Jan. 16, Cong. Eecord, p. 702. 

122 LOGAN THURM AN [1874 

more than any other ancient or modern possesses the 
elements of commercial independence, for it is capable 
of producing nearly all the natural and artificial com- 
modities that enter into the wealth, the comfort and 
the happiness of nations. That system of finance is 
best which most promotes our internal growth and 
development, and under which we have so signally 
prospered." i 

In reply to some remarks of Sherman, Logan said : 
" The word * inflation ' is used as a kind of bugbear. 
. . . Suppose that we who have proved ourselves faith- 
ful as we think to the interests of our country . . . call 
you contractionists and extortionists. Suppose we say 
that you are trying to contract the currency down to 
such a point as to allow the banks to practise extortion 
upon the people of this country. ... I am in favor 
of an increase of currency up to the business wants of 
the people. ... I am in favor of standing by the 
$400,000,000." 2 

Thurman pursued the same line of argument as his 
colleague. " Are we prepared," he asked, " to declare 
that under a government which our fathers meant should 
be a hard-money government we now mean, against all 
the lights of experience the world over, to banish gold 
and silver from circulation in the country for all time to 
come, and do the business of the country upon nothing 
but irredeemable paper, depending for its volume upon 
the will and caprice of the moment, or upon the views 
of members of Congress, seeking re-election or aspiring 
to higher place ? I think not. I do not think that all 
the lessons of experience have gone for nothing. I do 
not think that all the teachings of political economy are 
waste paper. I do not believe that we are yet ready 
for this entire revolution upon so great a subject. And 

1 Feb. 18, March 23, Cong. Record, pp. 1594, 2353, 2355, 2358. 

2 March 30, ibid., pp. 2617, 2618. 


yet I do say that every step that we propose in the way 
of inflation is a step toward that end, and the question 
will sooner or later have to be met. Are we to do 
the business of this country for all time upon a wholly 
irredeemable paper currency, or are we to have the 
standard that exists elsewhere throughout the civilized 
world ? For it is of no use to say < We only propose to 
increase the currency forty, or fifty, or sixty or one hun- 
dred million dollars now.' If you increase it one hun- 
dred million dollars now, three years hence there will 
be another demand for a further increase. The very same 
arguments will be used ; the very same pressure will 
be brought to bear. Whenever there is overtrading, 
whenever people become deeply indebted, or whenever 
people have schemes of speculation which can only be 
secured by an inflation of the currency that shall turn 
men mad in the whirl of speculation or in the desire of 
amassing fortunes ; whenever such a state of things 
comes about, the same agencies will be at work, the 
same efforts will be made that are being made now, and 
that are pushing us forward to what I see is likely to be 
the result an inflation of the currency that will only 
aggregate the evils under which we at present labor." l 

Schurz was one of the bookish men of the Senate and 
was at times twitted by his brother senators for his 
proneness to draw lessons from history arid books on 
political economy. He undoubtedly had this in mind 
when he put into the mouths of the inflationists words 
which stated fairly their opinion. This specie standard 
idea they assert is " mere theory." You who are opposed 
to more paper currency are " mere abstractionists. We 
are practical men which you are not ; you look into 
books, but we look into the living, active business of the 
country ; we trust the evidence of our senses ; we open 
our eyes, and we see what is going on, and from what 

1 March 24, Cong. Record, p. 2395. 

124 SCHURZ [1874 

we see we draw our conclusions and upon what we see 
we build our ideas as to remedies." " I have heard it 
said on this floor," Schurz continued, " that Adam Smith, 
John Stuart Mill, Ricardo, and all those who recognized 
the precious metals as the standard of value and who 
thought they would remain so, were in fact nothing but 
old fogies. . . . With the senator from Indiana [pre- 
sumably Morton] they exclaim, Throw theory to the 
dogs.' . . . They rely upon nothing but the evidence 
of their senses and how can that lead them astray ? 

" Some ten or eleven years ago I met in the South 
an old farmer who was called by his neighbors < Old 
Tatum.' He was a practical philosopher of the same 
kind, who relied upon nothing but the evidence of his 
senses ; and inasmuch as he could but with difficulty 
spell out a word or two in large print, he had a lofty 
contempt for book-learning. I liked to talk with the 
old man and once in conversation I happened to say 
something about the earth moving around the sun. 
< Hold on,' said old Tatum, < what did you say there ? 
The earth moving around the sun ! Where did you get 
that ? ' Well,' I said < I got it from the books.' < There 
again,' cried old Tatum, and he would fairly roll over 
with laughter, < there again, from the books. The 
earth moving around the sun ! And don't I see every 
day with these, my own eyes, the sun moving around 
the earth ? Don't I see it rise there in the morning, 
and don't I see it go down yonder every evening ? Ah,' 
said he, < you book-men can't fool old Tatum.' What a 
shining light old Tatum would have been among the 
new school of political economists here ! < Here I see a 
difficulty,' he would say ; 'there are many persons in 
the United States who want money ; the difficulty is, of 
course, there is not money enough to go around. What 
is to be done ? Inasmuch as we make money by print- 
ing it, let us print more until it will go around.' You 
might say, <Mr. Tatum, these bits of money are not 


proper money at all ; they are promises to pay money 
and the more you print of them the less they will be 
worth, and the less they are worth the less you can 
do with them in business ; you cannot make the 
country rich in that way.' Such talk would not trouble 
old Tatum at all. He would laugh right in your face. 
< Do we not call these paper notes dollars ? ' old Tatum 
would say. < Are they not dollars ? Cannot I read it 
with my spectacles in big print upon them, one dollar, 
ten dollars, one hundred dollars, and is not the country 
better off when it has fifteen hundred millions of these 
dollars than when it has only seven hundred and fifty 
millions of them ? Ah, you can't fool old Tatum I tell 
you.' " 1 

The speeches of these five senators were made on 
different propositions, but the contest settled down on a 
measure providing for the reissue of 18 millions more of 
the " reserve." Sherman on the part of the majority of 
the Committee on Finance reported a bill, the important 
section of which legalized the reissue which Richardson 
had made, by fixing the maximum amount of greenbacks 
at 1382,000,000. This was a compromise between those 
favouring contraction and those who were opposed merely 
to further inflation. Sherman himself would have pre- 
ferred to return to the former limit of $356,000,000 ; 
but, as there was no surplus revenue, this could only be 
attained by the sale of bonds, a project quite out of the 
question, since neither the Senate nor the country could 
have been brought to approve it. Sherman's bill was 
amended so as to make the maximum of greenbacks 
$400,000,000, which meant a further increase of 18 mil- 
lions and the reissue of the whole " reserve." This was 
a compromise between the moderate and extreme infla- 
tionists. In three months Richardson had jauntily 
inflated the currency to the extent of 26 millions : the 

1 Feb. 24, Cong. Record, p. 1726. 


Senate was a longer time determining upon a further 
inflation of 18 millions. The inflationists had a majority 
in Congress and scored a momentary victory. On April 
6 [1874] the 400 million bill passed the Senate by 29 to 
24, 1 eight days later the House by 140 to 102. On April 
22 it received the unexpected veto of the President. 2 

The country had fully anticipated that the work of 
Congress would obtain Grant's approval. Two public 
letters that he had written during the autumn of 1873 
and his annual message 8 [December 1] led people to 
believe that he was not averse to a moderate increase of 
the currency. They had no conception of his mental 
disturbance as he grappled with the problem and en- 
deavoured to do what was best for the whole country. 
His veto of the bill, because of objections to inflation, 
came therefore as a surprise. Afterwards he told of 
his trial of soul during those April days when he was 
trying to come to a decision. " The only time," Grant 
said, " I ever deliberately resolved to do an expedient 
thing for party reasons, against my own judgment, was 
on the occasion of the expansion or inflation bill. I 
never was so pressed in my life to do anything as to 
sign that bill, never. It was represented to me that 
the veto would destroy the Republican party in the 
West ; that the West and South would combine and 
take the country, and agree upon some even worse plan 
of finance ; some plan that would mean repudiation. 
Morton, Logan and other men, friends whom I respected, 
were eloquent in presenting this view. I thought at 
last I would try and save the party, and at the same 
time the credit of the nation, from the evils of the bill. 

1 Sherman, Sohurz, Thurman and the hard-money men voted no ; Ferry, 
Logan, Morton and the inflationists, aye. 

2 I have been helped in this account by John Sherman's Recollections, 
vol. i. ; Life of Morton, Foulke, vol. ii. ; Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 
1874 ; The Nation ; McPherson's Handbook of Politics, 1874. 

3 Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1873, p. 284 j Richardson, vol. vii. p. 244 


I resolved to write a message, embodying my own 
reasoning and some of the arguments that had been 
given me, to show that the bill, as passed, did not mean 
expansion or inflation and that it need not affect the 
country's credit. The message was intended to soothe 
the East and satisfy the foreign holders of the bonds. 
I wrote the message with great care and put in every 
argument I could call up to show that the bill was 
harmless and would not accomplish what its friends 
expected from it. Well, when I finished my wonderful 
message which was to do so much good to the party 
and country, I read it over, and said to myself : < What 
is the good of all this ? You do not believe it. You 
know it is not true.' Throwing it aside I resolved to 
do what I believed to be right veto the bill ! I could 
not stand my own arguments. While I was in this 
mood and it was an anxious time with me, so anxious 
that I could not sleep at night, with me a most unusual 
circumstance the ten days were passing in which the 
President must sign or veto a bill. On the ninth day 
I resolved inflexibly to veto the bill and let the storm 
come." l 

1 Around the World with General Grant, J. R. Young, vol. ii. p. 153. 
Edward Atkinson kindly furnished me an account of an interview with 
Grant at Chainounix in 1877 in which the ex-President told substantially the 
same story. This was previous to the words reported by J. R. Young. 
Judge Hoar also informed me of the circumstance [Feb. 7, 1894]. George 
F. Hoar spoke of it on the authority of Boutwell and related an interesting 
interview which he had with Grant when he was considering the subject. 
Autobiography, vol. i. p. 206. See also John A. Kasson in Century 
Magazine, April 1897 and CreswelPs account reported by A. S. Draper, ibid., 
July 1897. While the bill was pending Edward Atkinson co-operated with a 
number of men in the endeavour to arouse public sentiment against it. He 
had a part in the Cooper Institute great anti-inflation meeting, making, ac- 
cording to The Nation [March 26] "the speech of the evening an excellent 
address in which he completely carried away the audience by the candid, 
manly and at the same time vivid way in which he put the actual financial 
situation before them." With others Atkinson organized an enthusiastic 
meeting of protest in Faneuil Hall and he made an effort by correspondence 
to excite the hard-money sentiment of the West. 

I have not deemed it necessary to consider a provision of the bill which 

128 GRANT'S VETO [1874 

The veto was a brave and noble act and had far 
greater consequences than the mere prevention of an 
issue of 18 million greenbacks. Grant in his veto mes- 
sage made a clear and emphatic declaration that he was 
unalterably opposed to any inflation of the currency as 
being " a departure from true principles of finance " and 
" national obligations to creditors." J It was notice to 
the country and to Europe that we should not part com- 
pany with the rest of the civilized world in finance but 
that our endeavour would be to return to the recognized 
standard. It is the most praiseworthy act of Grant's 
second administration and, like the Treaty of Washing- 
ton and the Geneva Arbitration of the first, atones for a 
multitude of errors. 2 

The discussions in Congress during the winter and 
spring of 1874 formed an excellent education for the 
country. Business was no longer so exacting or diver- 
sions so frequent that men had not the time to read the 
debates. They read and pondered. The hard-money 
senators and representatives had much the better of the 
argument and their clear and forcible reasoning, sus- 
tained as it was by Grant's veto, had a profound influ- 
ence on the minds of men. 

The President's enjoyment of the prestige of his veto 
was not long nor unalloyed. On May 4, the strongly 
Republican Committee of Ways and Means made a 
report to the House 3 on the Sanborn contracts which 

increased the national bank circulation 46 millions and on which Grant laid 
some stress in his veto message. 

An act approved June 20, 1874 fixed the maximum amount of greenbacks 
outstanding at $382,000,000. 

1 Richardson, vol. vii. p. 269. 

2 The Nation, April 30, 1874, p. 278 ; Life of Bowles, Merriam, vol. ii. 
p. 230. 

3 The members of the committee were H. L. Dawes, chairman, W. D. 
Kelley, H. C. Burchard, E. H. Roberts, J. A. Kasson, H. Waldron, L. A. 
Sheldon, C. Foster, Republicans ; J. B. Beck, W. E. Niblack, F. Wood, 
Democrats. The House according to the Tribune Almanac was composed of 
195 Republicans, 88 Democrats, 4 Liberal Republicans. 


was written by Charles Foster, a Republican, and which 
furnished the public additional evidence of the looseness 
of administration in the Treasury Department. The 
system of collecting certain delinquent revenue, both 
customs and internal, by moieties paid to informers had 
met with disfavour and Congress, sitting in 1872, had 
repealed the provision of the law which authorized these 
moieties in the internal revenue service ; 1 but earlier, 
during the same session, in a committee of conference, the 
Senate conferees secured the incorporation in one of the 
appropriation bills of a provision empowering the Sec- 
retary of the Treasury " to employ not more than three 
persons to assist the proper officers of the government in 
discovering and collecting any money belonging to the 
United States whenever the same shall be withheld." 2 
By virtue of this provision, Richardson as Assistant 
Secretary of the Treasury under Boutweil and later as 
Secretary himself made contracts with John D. Sanborn 
of Boston, a henchman of Butler's, for the collection of 
taxes which were said to have been evaded by distillers, 
railroad companies and others. Such a statute and any 
contracts under it amounted to utter repudiation of 
correct administrative practice; and even its require- 
ments were not carried out by Richardson. Indeed the 
contracts seem to have been made and executed, not in 
the interest of the government but in order that Sanborn 
might secure a goodly sum of money from the 50 per 
cent, fee accorded him. Four hundred and twenty -seven 
thousand dollars were collected before the business was 
stopped and Sanborn received his moiety of $213,500 
but of this, so he testified, $156,000 were spent in hiring 
men to look up the cases and in other ways. Butler 
seemed in some mysterious way to have a hand in the 
whole affair and it was suspected that these $156,000 

1 Act of June 6. 

2 Act of May 8, 1872; Globe, pp. 1325, 2278, 271G, 2893-2895, 3021, 3063- 


were employed to give occupation to men who were use- 
ful in maintaining his Machine in Massachusetts. A col- 
lateral fact, by some invested with significance, is that 
in the contest between Dawes and Boutwell for filling 
Wilson's place in the Senate this Machine was operated 
in favour of Boutwell who was finally successful. The 
Committee of Ways and Means cast no imputation on 
the integrity of either Boutwell or Richardson but they 
declared that Richardson and two of his subordinates 
deserved "severe condemnation" for the manner in 
which they had permitted the act of May 8, 1872 to be 
administered. The House would undoubtedly have been 
asked to pass a vote of censure on Richardson had he 
not resigned his place. 1 His resignation was one good 
result of the report of the committee, for he was, in the 
words of Edward Atkinson, a "hopelessly incapable" 
Secretary of the Treasury. 2 Another benefit was the 
abolition of the contract system by the so-called anti- 
moiety law which received the approval of the President 
on June 22. 8 

In 1872, the preposterous nomination of Greeley pre- 
vented a direct vote on the question of confidence or 
lack of confidence in Grant's administration when other- 
wise that would have been the issue ; but it was patent 
that, unless the second administration should be an im- 
provement on the first, this question was sure to come 
sooner or later to the front. The fall elections of 1873 
were from this point of view unimportant ; nevertheless 

1 The Assistant Secretary and Solicitor of the Treasury also went out. 

2 The Nation, Mar. 26, p. 197. 

8 My authorities are H. E. D., 43d Cong. 1st Sess., No. 132 ; Auto- 
biography, George F. Hoar, vol. i. chap, xxiii. ; The Nation ; Life of 
Bowles, Merriam, vol. ii. There were two acts, both approved June 22, 
1874. One repealed the Contract Act of May 8, 1872 (ch. 393) and the 
other was "an act to amend the customs revenue laws and to repeal moie- 
ties " (ch. 391). Moieties in customs had existed to that time; this act 
repealed all moieties under customs revenue laws to informers. The moiety 
provision goes back to 1799 at least. Act of March 2, 1799, 91. 


they were a portent of the future. Ohio elected a 
Democratic governor and a legislature which returned 
Thurman to the Senate. Farther west the Grangers, 
who for a number of years had been organized in a 
secret order, played a part in the political contests. 
Their principal aim was to secure "reasonable rates" on 
the railroads for their farm products arid they protested 
against being made to pay a high rate for the carriage 
of grain, beef and pork in order to maintain dividends on 
watered stock, although they admitted that the railroads 
should earn a fair interest on the cost of their construc- 
tion and equipment. In co-operation with the Democrats 
they elected a governor and legislature of Wisconsin, re- 
duced the Republican majorities in Iowa and Minnesota 
and displayed some strength in Illinois and Kansas. 1 

In the fall elections of 1874 the issue was clearly 
defined : Did the Republican President and Congress 
deserve the confidence of the country ? and the answer 
was unmistakably No, although the early contests in 
Vermont and Maine gave little indication of it. Even 
Elaine, an acute judge of popular sentiment, failed in 
his forecast and, as he travelled through the West, gave 
his hearers to understand that the next House was cer- 
tain to be Republican and himself its Speaker. Those 
who may have been inclined to doubts were encouraged 
by the revival of the song of 1840 " Oh ! have you heard 
the news from Maine ? " and the Republicans of Ohio 
and Indiana went to the polls on their October election 
day with a certain confidence of success. But the Demo- 
crats carried both these States and made notable gains 
in members of Congress. In November, they elected Sam- 
uel J. Tilden governor of New York by 50,000 major- 
ity and William Gaston governor of Massachusetts by 
7000 and also carried Pennsylvania. 

1 The Nation, July-Dec. 1873, pp. 36, 330 ; Appletons' Annual Cyclo- 
paedia, 1873, p. 622. 


The Democrats had won a signal victory, obtaining 
control of the next House of Representatives which 
would stand Democrats 168, Liberals and Independents 
14, Republicans 108 as against the two-thirds Republican 
majority secured by the election of 1872. Since 1861 
the Republicans had controlled the House and now 
with its loss came a decrease in their majority in the 
Senate. It was joyful news that Butler had been 
defeated in one congressional district in Massachusetts 
while Professor Julius H. Seelye of Amherst was chosen 
as an Independent in another. Henry B. Payne, a hard- 
money Democrat, was elected in the Ohio district con- 
taining Cleveland, hitherto always Republican ; and 
Abram S. Hewitt was sent to the House from New 
York City. On the other hand it was a misfortune 
that because of the Democratic majority in Missouri, 
Schurz, almost an ideal senator, should lose his seat ; 
also that William Walter Phelps should not have been 
returned to the House from New Jersey. About six 
hundred negroes incensed atPhelps's vote against the Civil 
Rights bill had supported the Democratic candidate 
who was chosen by a majority of seven. Despite the 
overturn in Ohio Charles Foster retained his seat by a 
majority of 159. 1 

The political revolution from 1872 to 1874 was due to 
the failure of the Southern policy of the Republican 
party, to the Credit Mobilier and Sanborn contract 
scandals, to corrupt and inefficient administration in 
many departments and to the persistent advocacy of 
Grant by some close friends and hangers-on for a third 
presidential term. Some among the opposition were 
influenced by the President's backsliding in the cause 
of civil service reform, and others by the failure of 
the Republican party to grapple successfully with the 

1 The Tribune Almanac ; The Nation ; Life of Bowles, Merriam ; Life of 
Elaine, Stanwood ; Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1874. 


financial question. The depression, following the finan- 
cial panic of 1873, and the number of men consequently 
out of employment weighed in the scale against the 
party in power. In Ohio, the result was affected by 
the temperance crusade in the early part of the year. 
Bands of women of good social standing marched to 
saloons before which or in which they sang hymns 
and, kneeling down, prayed that the great evil of 
drink might be removed. Sympathizing men wrought 
with them in causing the strict law of the State 
against the sale of strong liquor to be rigidly enforced. 
Since Republicans were in the main the instigators 
of the movement, it alienated from their party a 
large portion of the German vote. 

But the elections did not on the other hand mean that 
the country placed implicit faith in the Democratic party. 
Many shrank from the contemplation of a rule in which 
the South might have a preponderating influence. In- 
deed the sentiment of Republicans, who voted the 
Democratic ticket or staid away from the polls, in order 
to punish their party might have been expressed in the 
words of the old Scotch minister's prayer concerning 
Charles I, " Laird shak. him ower the mouth o' hell but 
din'na cast him in." l 

One result of the election was the passage of an act 
for the resumption of specie payments. It was evident 
that whatever was contemplated in that direction must 
be accomplished before March 4, 1875 when the Re- 
publican House would cease to exist ; for it was certain 
that no financial measure could be agreed upon by a 
Republican Senate and Democratic House. The Re- 
publicans were sounder on the financial question than 
the Democrats and it was clear that the policy decided 
on must be one of party and the party spirit must be 
invoked to carry the bill embodying it through Congress. 

1 The Nation, Oct. 22, p. 262. 


John Sherman fully appreciated this necessity and felt 
that the business interests of the country demanded a 
return to specie payments as speedily as possible. 
When Congress came together in December he set 
himself assiduously to work ; his knowledge of finance 
and his position as chairman of the Committee on Finance 
in the Senate constituted him on this question the 
leader of his party. 

He urged the matter at the first caucus and moved 
that a committee of eleven senators be selected to formu- 
late a bill. This motion prevailed ; he was appointed 
chairman of the committee and Allison, Bout well, 
Conkling, Edmunds, Ferry of Michigan, Freylinghuysen, 
Howe, Logan, Morton and Sargent his associates. 
Working diligently and in a spirit of mutual concession 
they soon agreed on a bill, the first section of which pro- 
vided for the coinage of 10-cent, 25-cent and 50-cent silver 
pieces to take the place of the paper fractional currency 
and met with general approval. The third section, the 
important one and the one over which the caucus com- 
mittee wrangled, provided for free banking but at the 
same time for the withdrawal of greenbacks as fast as 
national bank-notes were issued in the proportion of 
180 to 1100 until the greenbacks were reduced to 300 
millions ; 1 it further provided that on January 1, 1879 
the government should begin the redemption of green- 
backs in coin ; and to enable the Secretary of the Treas- 
ury thus to resume specie payments, he was authorized 

1 Sherman thus explained this in the Senate, "This section, therefore, 
by making banking free, provides for an enlargement of the currency in case 
the business of the community demands it, and in case any bank in the 
United States may think it advisable or profitable to issue circulating medium 
in the form of bank-notes under the conditions and limitations of the banking 
law. Coupled with that is a provision, an undertaking, on the part of the 
United States that as banks are organized or as circulating notes are issued, 
either by old or new banks, the Government of the United States undertakes 
to retire 80 per cent, of that amount of United States notes." Cong. 
Record, Dec. 22, 1874, p. 195. 


to use the surplus revenue and to sell bonds for the 
purpose of accumulating gold. 1 

On December 21 Sherman reported the bill to the 
Senate, next day it was taken up, discussed, and passed 
by 32 to 14, almost a strict party vote. 2 The debate 
was interesting and Sherman, on introducing it, gave a 
clear exposition of the measure. 8 It met with opposi- 
tion from Thurman, Bayard 4 and Schurz, who ques- 
tioned Sherman closely as to whether the greenbacks 
which were retired under the act might be reissued. 
Sherman tried to evade this question entirely but owing 
to the persistence of Schurz was forced to an answer. 
" Undoubtedly," he said, " until the reduction of the 
United States notes to 1300,000,000 they cannot be 
reissued. The process must go on pari passu until the 
amount of legal-tender notes is reduced to $300,000,000. 
Before that time will probably arrive in the course of 
human affairs, at least one or two Congresses will have 
met and disappeared, and we may leave to the future 
these questions that tend to divide and distract us, rather 
than undertake to thrust them into this bill and thus 
divide us and prevent us from doing something in the 
direction at which we aim." 5 

Sherman admitted that the bill was not one which he 
himself would have framed could he have had his own 
way undisputed; and indeed this question urged by 
Thurman, Bayard and Schurz almost proved a stum- 
bling-block in the caucus committee. The inflationists 
would not have the measure if it provided that these 

1 In Dec. 1874, the amount of greenbacks outstanding was $382,000,000, 
fractional notes $46,000,000, national bank-notes 1347,000,000, total $775,- 

2 The yeas were all Republican except Schurz, an. Independent. The nays 
were all Democrats except Sprague, a Eepublican, and Hamilton and Tipton, 

8 Cong. Record, p. 194. 

4 Bayard was an uncompromising hard-money man. 

5 Cong. Record, p. 196. 


retired greenbacks should be destroyed, the contraction- 
ists would not have it if it provided that they might be 
reissued. Therefore it was determined to leave it an 
open question. Edmunds believed that under the bill 
they could not be reissued while Morton thought the 
contrary ; both supported the bill. In the actual work- 
ing of the law, this much-disputed section proved of 
small importance. The closing clause of the bill, which 
was left to Sherman and Edmunds to draw, turned out 
the efficient agent. " To prepare for and maintain re- 
demption," Sherman said, " the Secretary of the Treas- 
ury may issue either a 4, or a 41 or a 5 per cent, bond, 
the lowest that he can sell at par in coin, " to an amount 
sufficient to execute the law. " We place in his hands 
the surplus revenue of the Government. More than 
that, we here by law declare our purpose, the purpose 
of a Government and a people that have never violated 
their obligations when distinctly made, that at this time 
and date we will do these things which amount to a 
resumption of specie payments." 1 

The " paper money trinity " Morton, Ferry and Logan 
voted for the bill ; Thurman against it ; Schurz, though 
deeming it inadequate, gave it his vote. The passage 
of the bill by the Senate was decisive. The House 
passed it by 136 to 98 2 [January 7, 18T5] and the Presi- 
dent gave it his approval [January 14]. 

Though Sherman did not wholly like the bill, his 
tactful management of it in the caucus committee and 
the fact that he had charge of it in the Senate, caused 
it to become known as his measure. In not insisting 
to the point of disagreement on his own particular views 
provided he got a bill which bade fair to accomplish 

1 Cong. Record, p. 196. The words not in quotation are from a letter of 
Sherman dated Jan. 10, 1875. Recollections, vol. i. p. 519. 

2 All the yeas were Republicans. About a score of Republicans voted 
nay ; among them were Dawes, E. R. Hoar, G. F. Hoar, H. L. Pierce, Haw- 
ley, hard-money men. 

CH. XL.] 



the result, he showed eminently wise political leadership. 
He foresaw that the fixing of a date for resumption, 
and the authority to sell bonds to procure gold, aided 
by the revival of business a necessary factor in suc- 
cess and one on which he confidently counted would 
under skilful management bring us to specie payments. 1 
As Secretary of the Treasury under President Hayes he 
carried out this compromise measure, effecting resump- 
tion on January 1, 1879, justifying the action of his 
party and winning for himself a place in the front rank 
of our finance ministers. 2 

1 Thunnan in the debate stated well the philosophy of a financial panic, 
the consequent stagnation in business and the eventual revival, Cong. Record, 
p. 197. 

2 Besides the Cong. Record my authorities are John Sherman's Recollec- 
tions, vol. i. ; Life of Bowles, Merriam, vol. ii. ; Life of Morton, Foulke, 
vol. ii. ; Financial History, Dewey ; McPherson's Handbook, 1876. 

The Revenue Act of March 3, 1875, increased the tax on tobacco and spirits, 
added "25 per cent, to the duty upon molasses and sugar of all kinds " and 
repealed " the 10 per cent, reduction of duty upon manufactured goods made 
by the act of 1872." Stanwood, American Tariff Controversies, vol. ii. 
p. 188. No other Tariff Act was passed until 1883. 


LET us now return to the subject of Reconstruction. 
I have already told the story of the escape of four 
States [Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia] 
from usurpatory rule and the re-establishment of the 
control of intelligence and property. Mention of mis- 
government at the South has from the nature of the 
case been frequent and some references have been made 
to particular communities ; but, to complete the history 
of Reconstruction, it is now necessary for me to give 
some account of the redemption of the other seven late 
Confederate States. 

At the November election of 1872 the Democrats of 
Texas elected a majority of the legislature and all their 
candidates for Congress ; but the Republican governor, 
having a four years' term of office, held over. Next year 
they chose Richard Coke governor, but the Republican 
incumbent and opposing candidate refused, for a while, 
on a technically legal point to surrender his office. He 
could not however maintain his authority without the 
aid of United States troops ; these President Grant 
declined to furnish and Coke was peaceably installed. 
Entire home rule was re-established. Texas voted for 
Greeley in 1872 and ever afterwards for the Democratic 
candidates for the presidency. 1 

The first governor and legislature of Alabama under 

1 History of Texas, Garrison, p. 296 ; Why the Solid South, Herbert, 
Stewart's article, p. 378 ; Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1872, 1873 ; Tribune 
Almanac ; McPherson's Handbook. 



Congressional reconstruction were Republican ; twenty- 
seven negroes sat in the legislature. 1 On the recom- 
mendation of the governor, W. H. Smith, the legislature 
speedily passed acts removing all disabilities from those 
disfranchised from voting by the State constitution of 
1867 ; 2 every white man thereafter could vote and it is 
gratifying to record that these laws were favoured by 
the negro members. 8 But this good feeling was not 
accompanied by decorum and honesty. The Rev. 
Mr. Leigh, an English clergyman, who paid a visit to 
the Montgomery State House in the early part of 1870, 
was struck with the uncouth postures and nauseous 
habits exhibited by the negroes in the legislative 
chamber. He listened to a debate, which would have 
been ludicrous had it not been sad, on the proposition 
for an increased grant to the Alabama and Chattanooga 
Railroad, and he got the idea that all the negro members 
had been bribed to vote- for the bill. 4 Negroes in 
judicial and administrative offices would have been in 
any event a source of irritation to the white people 
and this irritation was increased by the illiteracy 
of the coloured officeholders. Herbert mentions two 
county commissioners, three constables and one justice 
of the peace who signed with their cross-marks necessary 
official papers. In Alabama a justice of the peace has 
important judicial authority and this office was held by 
a number of negroes who had little education or intelli- 
gence. Roderick Thomas, a former slave who had 
picked up a little knowledge since he became free, was 
first the clerk and afterwards the judge of the criminal 
court of the city of Selma which had " jurisdiction 
extending even to capital cases." 5 The corruption in 


1 Herbert, Solid South, p. 50. Appleton and Brown say 26 ; New York 
Tribune about 30 ; Fleming 27, one in Senate, 26 in House, p. 738. 

2 Acts of Aug. 11, Oct. 8, 1868. 8 Herbert, p. 60. 
4 Ten Years on a Georgia Plantation, Leigh, p. 288. 

Herbert, p. 53 et seq. 


the legislature came largely through the system of aid 
in the construction of new railroads ; the State liberally 
endorsed the railroad bonds and in some cases loaned 
these companies State securities. The railroad managers 
were willing to buy over the legislature and many mem- 
bers were eager to accept bribes. Waste and extrava- 
gance accompanied the widespread corruption. The 
worst swindle was the Alabama and Chattanooga Rail- 
road, a project of Northern men. This line was to be 
295 miles long running from Chattanooga to Meridian, 
Mississippi ; at Chattanooga direct connection was had 
with a railroad to Cincinnati, and at Meridian with one to 
New Orleans. Properly financed and constructed it might 
have become a valuable property and its superintendent 
seems to have been an energetic man but it has left 
behind it a trail of corruption. The railroad obviously 
had an insufficient financial basis and the plan was " to 
build it on the bonds" as ran the parlance of the day. 
But a corruption fund increases largely the general 
expenses and the 116,000 a mile which the State granted 
was insufficient, so that recourse was had to an over-issue 
of bonds. When this railroad was completed, it should 
have received from time to time the State endorsement 
on $4,720,000 ; as a matter of fact before it was finished 
$5,300,000 of its bonds had been endorsed; and more- 
over $2,000,000 of 8 per cent. State bonds had in addi- 
tion been secured through legislative act as a loan. 1 

This is indeed a dark episode of Republican-negro rule 
in Alabama but there are mitigating circumstances. 
The Republican governor Smith was responsible for the 
over-issue of the bonds and though a very careless man 
he was not corrupt. 2 In 1870 a Democratic governor 

1 Herbert, Why the Solid South ; Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1869- 
1872 ; Acts of Sept. 22, Oct. 6, 1868, Feb. 11, 1870 ; Commercial and Finan- 
cial Chronicle, vol. xx. p. 453, xxi. 322, xxii. 136, 167, xxiii. 65, 225, xxiv. 
369, 420, xxv. 186 ; Poor's Manual, 1880. 

2 Why the Solid South, p. 53. 


and House were elected, but the Republican Senate held 
over. The change brought little betterment, except that 
corruption and extravagance were on a smaller scale, and 
this indeed was largely due to the impairment of the 
State's credit. The Democratic governor, so Herbert 
writes, carelessly endorsed bonds which constituted an 
over-issue. His operation lacked the magnitude of that 
of his Republican predecessor; but, as is frankly admitted 
by Herbert, his administration was not a success. 1 It 
must likewise be taken into account that the Republican 
governments of the South in giving aid to railroads 
were affected by a disease of the time. Before the 
Civil War Massachusetts had given her aid to the con- 
struction of the Hoosac Tunnel which resulted in her 
being obliged to shoulder and complete the enterprise 
[1862-1863-1875] ; and at about the same time [1867- 
1869] that Alabama was embarking on her policy of 
State grants she loaned $5,000,000 to the Boston, Hart- 
ford and Erie Railroad. 2 The Western States it is true 
had for the most part been cured of State subscriptions 
for railroad stock and the issuing or endorsement of 
bonds by the State to assist the railroads in their devel- 
opment of the country ; but at this period Western 
cities, townships and counties were recklessly employ- 
ing their credit to further the railroad projects of ener- 
getic and unscrupulous men. The South, more con- 
servative than the West, was slower to become infected 

1 Why the Solid South, p. 56. For the political classification see Fleming, 
pp. 751, 752. Fleming asserts that the endorsement of the over-issue of bonds 
was by Governor Smith but was not discovered until 1871 " when Lindsay 
[the Democratic governor elected in 1870] was accused of issuing the bonds. 
This he flatly denied, and he was correct," p. 601. Fleming admits that 
Lindsay was a "weak executive." 

2 In 1836 New York gave its credit to the Erie Kailway for three millions. 
In 1845 the State released its mortgage on condition of the completion of the 
road. (Poor, 1890, p. 120.) Emory R. Johnson, American Railway Trans- 
portation, p. 310, says that 19 States first and last gave aid to railroads. 
Massachusetts was the only one in New England. I do not think New 
York did anything of the sort after 1865. 


with the State-aid mania and developed the systems of 
State, county and city grants simultaneously. In both 
sections it was a business attended with corruption ; 
in the South the corruption was greater and more un- 
blushing than at the West. 

In 1872 the Republicans of Alabama elected their 
governor who, though encountering some opposition and 
requiring to call to his aid a squad of United States 
cavalry, secured a legislature dominated by his own 
party. Affairs then went from bad to worse and the 
financial condition of the State was aggravated by the 
panic of 1873. Taxes were high and the State was 
bankrupt. The debt during the six years of rule under 
Congressional reconstruction [1868-1874] had grown 
from $6,848,400 to $25,503,000 including straight and 
endorsed railroad bonds ; in addition there was a float- 
ing indebtedness estimated at $2,500,000 and overdue 
interest estimated at $4,696,000, making a total of 
$32,699,000. The assessed valuation of property in 
1874 was $159,000,000 ; thus the debt was over twenty 
per cent. 1 To men of intelligence and property the 
condition was intolerable and in 1874 they set to work 
with a determination to redeem their State. 

Alongside of the Ku-Klux-Klan there developed the 
movement described by General Gordon 2 which, according 
to William G. Brown, is at this day regarded at the 
South as comparable to the German rising for liberty 
under the leadership of Baron von Stein. 8 It may be 

1 Herbert, Why the Solid South, p. 66 ; Fleming, p. 580 ; Auditor's report 
and Alabama newspaper cited by Commercial and Financial Chronicle, vol. 
xx. pp. 581-583. In the Report of Committee on affairs in Alabama sub- 
mitted Feb. 23, 1875 the debt including a floating debt of "$3,000,000 is given 
at $25,895,000 (p. 1304) but this is in a statement attempting to show that 
the Republican administrations had been more economical than the Demo- 
cratic. Scott, Repudiation of State Debts, p. 63 gives the debt as $25,464,000, 
without floating debt or overdue interest. I have given in the text what I 
consider the most correct estimate without vouching for its accuracy. 

2 Ante. 3 Atlantic Monthly, May 1901, p. 639. 


called the movement for liberation. It pervaded the 
canvass in Alabama in 1874. Conditions were favourable 
to success. The operation of negro suffrage had consoli- 
dated nearly all decent white men into the Democratic 
or conservative party ; and the passage by the United 
States Senate of a Civil Rights bill, which was substan- 
tially Sumner's 1 measure, had intensified the race issue. 
The Republican or Radical party was composed of about 
nine-tenths negroes and one-tenth whites. Of these 
the negroes as a body were ignorant and their moral 
standard was low ; the whites were " chiefly profes- 
sional politicians and their hangers-on, who live by 
office, and a few worthy people who have been induced 
heretofore to act with the Republican party." 2 The 
Democrats felt sure that the white people of both par- 
ties were in a majority over the blacks ; a subsequent 
estimate putting this at 10,000 was not far out of the 
way. 8 At the North the reaction against the Republican 
party was in the air and Virginia, North Carolina and 
Georgia were shining examples to the people of Alabama. 
In all signs of the times one read the doom of Radical 
negro-rule, but the Republicans made a desperate attempt 
to save themselves from defeat. This could be effected 
only by the intervention of Federal troops, which inter- 
vention could be secured only by convincing the north- 
ern public and the President that a " reign of terror " 
existed in the South. An attempt to prove this was 
made by Charles Hays, a Republican representative from 
Alabama, in a letter dated September 7, 1874 to Joseph 
R. Hawley 4 who vouched for him as " a gentleman of 

1 This was passed after Sumner's death. Post. 

2 Address of the Democratic State Executive Committee, Oct. 1, 1874, 
Apple tons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1874, p. 13. 

8 Herbert, p. 63. D. M. Matteson has carefully examined the figures of 
the Censuses of 1870 and 1880 and states that Herbert's guess is a safe one. 
See also statement of a Montgomery correspondent of New York Tribune, 
Oct. 7, 1874. 

4 General Hawley was then a Republican representative from Connecticut 

144 CAMPAIGN LIES [1874 

unimpeachable honor." Hays wrote, " To-day riots, mur- 
ders, assassinations and torturings for the purpose of 
terrorizing the true friends of the Government are more 
common than they have been at any hour since Lee 
surrendered to Grant." But aware that generalities 
would no longer sway popular sentiment at the North, 
he furnished a bill of particulars of events said to have 
occurred during July and August. Captain W. P. Bil- 
lings was shot on the public road because he was a 
" Yankee " and a Republican ; Thomas L. Ivey, an in- 
offensive, intelligent, hard-working negro, a United States 
route agent on the Alabama and Chattanooga Railroad, 
was shot by four unknown men because he was a " nigger 
and meddlesome in politics"; a Ku-Klux notice with the 
picture of a coffin was posted up on a sign-board on the 
cross-roads near Livingston which admonished " all nig- 
gers white and black to take warning from the fate of 
Billings and Ivey " ; in Sumter County five negroes 
were killed for cause unknown ; in Russell County a 
protracted religious meeting of negroes was broken up 
and many of the coloured people of both sexes were 
seized on their way home and cruelly beaten and whipped; 
in Coffee County, during a Sunday-school meeting of 
coloured men, women and children, a body of white men 
rode up and opened fire without saying a word, killing 
two and wounding six ; in Choctaw County a number of 
whites in ambush fired on a party of negroes returning 
from church, killing ten and wounding thirteen ; in Marengo 
County W. A. Lipscomb, who belonged to a good Southern 
family, was found dead on the public road having been 
shot because he was an earnest Republican ; and in Pickens 
County it was a public boast that no white man voted 
the Republican ticket and lived through the year. Other 
alleged threats, warnings and murders were set down. 1 

1 Boston Daily Advertiser, Sept. 16, 1874 ; Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 
1874, p. 12. 


This letter of Hays was extensively printed throughout 
the North, and undoubtedly persuaded many people that 
the Southern Democrats had precipitated a " war of 
races " ; it attracted so much attention that the New York 
Tribune sent a correspondent to Alabama to investigate 
the matter. He, Z. L. W., 1 went to the bottom of things 
arid made this report : The murders of Billings and Ivey 
were well authenticated and were political 2 but they 
were committed by desperadoes and received the con- 
demnation of all respectable people, a condemnation 
which was sincere and not a screen for a tacit approval ; 
Hays had affirmed that the Ku-Klux notice mentioned in 
his letter was handed to him by a Democrat but in fact 
he had gone to Washington before it was posted up 
people in Montgomery thought the warning a Republi- 
can invention ; of the five negroes murdered in Sumter 
County two met their death for stealing corn, the third 
in a fracas with other negroes, the fourth accidentally 
shot himself, the fifth was a woman who was killed by 
her husband ; the reports of the murders in Russell and 
Coffee counties were denied by men more worthy of 
credence than Hays ; in Choctaw County the blame and 
the provocation lay with the blacks, a conflict seemed 
imminent but did not occur, two or three shots were 
fired but no one was hurt ; Hays had affirmed that Lips- 
comb " was shot to death " but Lipscomb was found to 
be alive, and denied having been murdered or assaulted 
or even unkindly spoken to ; and in Pickens County 

1 The Nation Nov. 19, 1874 says that his name is White. 

a The Democratic-Conservative State Executive Committee said, " there is 
not one scintilla of evidence to show that either was killed by Democrats or 
for party purposes." Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1874, p. 14. Curiously 
enough the Republican majority of the select House Committee which inves- 
tigated political affairs in Alabama did not make an absolutely positive 
charge. Their words are : Billings and Ivey " were both killed doubtless for 
their political opinions." The Democratic minority of the Committee deny 
that the murder of Billings was political but seem to admit that of Ivey 
might have been. Report No. 26:2 submitted Feb. 23, 1876, pp. vi, IVL 


white Republicans held office, the United States mar- 
shal stated that Republican meetings were advertised 
and that there were no longer any Ku-Klux in the State. 
" It will thus be seen," Z. L. W. summed up, " that 
except the assassination of Billings and Ivey . . . every 
report included in Mr. Hays's letter that has been in- 
vestigated including more than three-fourths of all 
of them has turned out to be untrue and that in the 
majority of cases Mr. Hays knew his statements were 
lies when he wrote them." 1 

A correspondent of the New York Times, H. C., came 
to the same conclusion. No one, he wrote, who comes 
to Alabama and travels among the people can fail to 
discover that the statements of Hays and others are un- 
true in every respect. Visiting all the large cities and 
travelling extensively in the country he had discovered 
no trace of a reign of terror but saw negroes quietly 
at their work with white men as quietly superintending 
it. There were absolutely no excitement and no fear. 
Even Hays was allowed to go about peaceably [this was 
written Oct. 19, six weeks after Hays's letter] making 
questionable speeches to ignorant and excitable blacks. 
There was no armed organization of white men in the 
State and no disposition to maltreat negroes. It was 
true that white men killed negroes, and negroes white 
men, but all the crimes were not committed for political 
reasons. 2 The Nation considered the evidence presented 
by the two correspondents and came to the conclusion 
that " Hays's story turns out to be a complete tissue of 
lies from beginning to end." 8 The charges of Hays and 
other Republicans were indignantly denied by the Demo- 

1 New York Tribune, Oct. 12, 15, 17, 1874. 

2 New York Times, Oct. 24, 26, 29, Nov. 14, 1874. 

8 Oct. 15, 1874, p. 243 ; see also Nov. 19, p. 325. The New York Tribune 
had not yet returned to the Republican fold ; the Times was a firm adminis- 
tration Republican paper ; The Nation was independent with a Republican 


cratic State Executive Committee who supported their 
denial by circumstantial proof. 1 The respectable people 
of Alabama and the leaders of the movement for libera- 
tion were desirous that their followers should avoid all 
violence, lest it should provoke the President to send 
troops into their State and alienate from them the fa- 
vourable sentiment growing in Republican ranks at 
the North. 

The Republican governor did not call for troops but 
the President, moved by the tales of Hays and others, 
sent (by virtue of the acts of May 31, 1870 and April 
20, 1871) 679 soldiers to Alabama in order to insure a 
fair election. 2 With this support, United States deputy 
marshals made arrests of alleged criminals, but the 
potent influence of this small force was its moral effect 
in emboldening the negroes to vote the Republican 
ticket. Nevertheless property and intelligence were 
nerved to a supreme effort, and elected their governor by 
a majority of 13,000 and won a preponderance of 27 in 
the legislature ; 35 coloured Republican members were 
returned. 8 

A select Committee of the national House of Repre- 
sentatives investigated this election and the Republican 
members of it reported that the Democrats won by 
" fraud, violence, proscription, intimidation and murder." 
Fraud was a game both parties played at in the South 
during Reconstruction days. The charges of violence 
and murder, while the canvass was pending, have been 
shown to be largely unfounded. But there were riots 
on election day at Mobile, Eufaula and other places in 
which the negroes got the worse of it, a number of them 
being killed ; the Democrats maintained that the negroes 

1 Appletons 1 Annual Cyclopedia, 1874, p. 14. 

2 Report of Adjutant-General ; circular of Attorney-General, II. E. D., No. 
110, 43d Cong. 2d Sess. ; Grant's message Dec. 1874, Richardson, p. 297. 

3 Tribune Almanac ; McPherson, Handbook. On the campaign in gen- 
eral, see Fleming, pp. 791, 795. 


were the aggressors. Proscription is a harsh word to 
use of threats to discharge negro labourers for not vot- 
ing the Democratic ticket and of social and business 
ostracism of white Republicans; both these methods 
however were undoubtedly employed and, from the 
nature of the case, it may be presumed that there was 
also some intimidation. Touching violence, the Repub- 
lican members of the Committee, warned probably by 
the discomfiture of Hays, confined themselves largely to 
generalities ; but the Democrats taking his charges as a 
text were willing to deal with specific facts and on that 
account, and because of the general merit of their case, 
got the better of the argument. 1 

No attempt was made by Congress to overturn the 
result. The Democrats remained in power and in 1875 
adopted a new Constitution. Alabama voted for Grant 
in 1872 but ever afterwards gave her electoral votes to 
the Democratic candidates for the presidency. " Taxes 
are low," wrote in 1890 Hilary A. Herbert, an Alabama 
man and Secretary of the Navy during Cleveland's 
second administration. " Life, liberty and property are 
protected by law [of all the people white and black], 
and foreign capital is coming in. ... The colored 
population is progressing everywhere in the State . . . 
in morality, intelligence and property." 2 

In the autumn elections of 1874, as I have previously 
stated, the Republicans suffered an overwhelming defeat. 
Their majority in the present House of Representatives 
of 115, which was over two-thirds, was converted into a 
minority of about 65. 8 Their mismanagement of affairs 

1 See majority and minority reports of Report No. 262 submitted Feb. 28, 

2 Why the Solid South, p. 66. William A. Scott wrote that with principal 
and overdue interest, * ' Alabama's repudiation will not be far from 
$15,000,000." Repudiation of State Debts, p. 63. The funded and unfunded 
debt Oct. 1, 1888 was $9,489,500. Poor ; World Almanac. 

8 The 115 includes 4 Liberal Republicans and 1 Independent Republican. 
According to the Tribune Almanac there were in Dec. 1875, 168 Democrats, 


at the South was one of the causes which led to this 
overturn. 1 The leaders of the radical Republicans, 
Senators Morton and Conkling, during the campaign, 
deemed it wise to put the Southern question to the fore, 
or, as it was popularly said " to wave the bloody shirt." 
At the New York State Republican convention which was 
dominated by Conkling the speeches and platform dealt 
mainly with Southern outrages. Morton in a speech at 
Indianapolis said that negroes were " hunted like squir- 
rels " and he read the letter of Charles Hays to support 
his statements regarding Alabama. The Chairman of the 
Republican State Central Committee of Indiana sent a 
circular to the Republican newspaper editors of the State 
suggesting that they give great prominence " until after 
the election " to the " horrible scenes of violence and 
bloodshed transpiring throughout the South." 2 Such 
arguments may have intensified the zeal of some Radicals 
but they were ineffectual with a mass of people who 
had determined to punish the Republican party by stay- 
ing at home or by voting the Democratic ticket. 

During his second term, until the autumn of 1874, 
Grant had, for the most part, shown moderation in his 
policy towards the South but in September through his 
Attorney-General he directed Federal interference in the 
elections and troops were stationed at convenient points 
to assist the United States marshals and attorneys. 8 
This action, which was defended by him as his " care 
that the laws be faithfully executed," was looked upon 

108 Republicans, 14 Liberal Republicans, but by Jan. 1877, 8 Liberals 
had become Democrats and 3 Republicans. There was also an increase of 
Democrats through by-elections so that at the beginning of the second ses- 
sion [Dec. 1876] the Democrats had 181, the Republicans 107, Liberal Republi- 
cans 3. See also National Conventions and Platforms, McKee. 

1 The Nation, Oct. 22, Nov. 12, pp. 262, 312 ; Life of Bowles, Merriam, 
vol. ii. p. 232. 

2 The Nation, Oct. 15, p. 247 ; Life of Morton, Foulke, vol. ii. p. 360. 

8 Circular of the Attorney-General, Sept. 3, 1874, President's message, 
Dec. 7. 

160 ARKANSAS [1874 

by the Democrats and by some moderate Republicans 
as management for himself and his party. It was 
bruited about that he desired a third term and was not 
averse to using his official position to secure the nomi- 
nation and election. The Democrats maintained that 
80,000 office-holders were plotting for this end. 1 For a 
while it had been thought that the severe Republican 
defeat had put a quietus to the third-term project ; the 
President's annual message was moderate and did not 
foreshadow the extreme course to which he afterwards 
committed himself. On December 7, 1874 he spoke of 
trouble in Arkansas but stated that, as Congress was in- 
vestigating it, he had declined to interfere. Exactly two 
months later the House Committee made their report : 
Luke P. Poland, the chairman, one other Republican 
and two Democrats of a committee of five thought that 
conditions on the whole were at the present time satis- 
factory in Arkansas and that there was no cause for 
recommending the interference of the general govern- 
ment. The next day showed that either Grant's ambi- 
tion agreed with the aim of the Radicals or that the 
Arkansas carpet-baggers and the rule-or-ruin partisans 
had got hold of him and were leading him athwart the 
counsels of the best men of his cabinet. 

It should be related that in the spring of 1874, as a 
sequel to a disputed election of 1872, Brooks and Bax- 
ter, the heads of two Republican factions, were in 
armed dispute as to who was the rightful governor of 
Arkansas. On May 15, the President recognized Baxter 
as the lawful Executive, and this action restored peace 
and order. 

The carpet-baggers had had control of the State for 
six years and their administration had been extravagant 
and corrupt, but Baxter was now friendly to the rehabili- 
tation of the government of intelligence and property. 

The Nation, Oct. 29, 1874, p. 225. 


With his approval the legislature passed a bill calling a 
constitutional convention, and the people by a large 
majority endorsed this action. The convention assem- 
bled in July and adopted a new Constitution 1 which 
was ratified in October [1874] by the popular vote. At 
the same election the Democrats chose the governor, A. 
H. Garland, a legislature and the four Congressmen. On 
November 10 the new legislature assembled and shortly 
afterwards Governor Garland was installed in his office. 2 
Now on February 8, 1875 the President sent a special 
message to Congress, expressing the opinion that Brooks 
had been lawfully elected in 1872, that he had been 
illegally deprived of his office, that the adoption of the 
new State constitution and establishment of the new 
State government was revolutionary and had been 
accomplished by violence and intimidation ; indirectly 
he made the suggestion that these proceedings be annulled 
and that Brooks be restored to the office which was 
rightfully his until January 1877. 8 There was ground 
for the remark of the Springfield Republican, " The Eng- 
lish of this message is : Authorize me to make war 
upon the government and people of Arkansas, in the 
interest of my third term." 4 The President took direct 
issue with Poland's committee and exerted his influence 
against the resolution which they had reported, that " in 
the judgment of this House no interference with the 
existing government in Arkansas by any department of 
the Government of the United States is advisable." 
But Poland, who was a good lawyer and had been Chief 

1 The existing constitution was that of 1868. 

2 Poland report, H. rep., 43d Cong. 2d Sess., No. 127 ; the Testimony, ibid., 
No. 2 ; Opinions Attorney-General, xiv. 391-400, May 15, 1874 ; Grant's 
three messages and papers of April, May 1874, Feb. 1876, H. E. D., 43d Cong. 
1st Sess., No. 229 ; S. E. D., ibid., No. 61 ; S. E. D., 43d Cong. 2d Sess., No. 
25 ; Brooks's Memorial, S. Mis. Doc., 43d Cong. 2d Sess., No. 66. The four 
Congressmen took their seats unchallenged. 

8 Richardson, vol. vii. p. 319. 

4 Life of Bowles, Merriam, vol. ii. p. 238. 


Justice of the Supreme Court of his State [Vermont], 
was equal to the contest and supported his resolution in 
an able and convincing speech. He said that the change 
from one constitution to another was not a revolution 
or usurpation, but as peaceful a movement as ever took 
place in Vermont or New York. He intimated that the 
contention was between honest government and a State 
administration under which " these same men wanted to 
carry on the swindling practices they had carried on for 
years " when there had been trouble and turbulence. 
But now, under the Garland government, everything 
was as peaceable and quiet as in the State of Massachu- 
setts. Poland carried with him enough of his brother 
Republicans to adopt his resolution and defeat the project 
of President Grant. In a House in which the Republi- 
cans had a two-thirds majority the ayes were 150 and 
the noes 81. With Poland voted Dawes, Garfield, Eugene 
Hale, J. R. Hawley, E. Rockwood Hoar, George F. Hoar, 
Kasson, Phelps and Pierce, truly a good company. 1 

Governor Garland appointed a day of thanksgiving 
for this deliverance and in his proclamation displayed 
gratitude for the support of " the true conservative re- 
publican sentiment in the North " and urged the people 
of Arkansas to prove themselves worthy of the confi- 
dence reposed in them by their political opponents. 2 

1 Cong. Record, March 2, 1875, pp. 2107-2118. 

Lucius Q. C. Lamar, then a member of the House, in an interview at At- 
lanta in 1875, spoke of Poland as " the man who saved Arkansas. He abso- 
lutely put behind him a lifelong ambition when he made his protest against 
Grant's interference. He had for all his life cherished the hope that he 
might get a certain judgeship. Just before he made his report on Arkansas 
affairs he became aware that his ambition was about to be realized. He 
knew that if he made that anti-administration report it would crush his hopes 
forever. ... I shall never forget how the gray-haired old hero rose and 
spoke that which unspoken would have realized the proudest dream of his 
life." Life of Lamar, Mayes, p. 227. 

2 Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1875, p. 36. Arkansas has never re- 
verted to Republican rule. Grant had carried the State in 1872 but the 
Democratic candidates for President have won at each succeeding election. 


Grant and his radical followers succeeded in getting 
through the House a stringent Force bill, which, as was 
truly said, converted the President into " a sort of 
tawdry Caesar." l It gave him power to suspend the 
privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Louisiana, Arkan- 
sas, Mississippi and Alabama for " two years and from 
thence until the end of the next session of Congress 
thereafter." 2 In party caucus, Blaine, the Speaker, Po- 
land, Garfield and Hawley spoke against it 8 but their 
arguments were unavailing and it was therefore reported 
to the House. Henry L. Pierce, a Republican repre- 
sentative from Massachusetts, said in what Butler called 
his "maiden speech," that it was well known that the 
motive for the introduction of the bill was mainly to 
achieve party success. " We are told by high authority," 
he continued, " that one hundred and thirty-eight elec- 
toral votes of the reconstructed States rightfully belong 
to the Republican party ; and that if the bill now pend- 
ing in the House becomes a law it will secure these votes 
to that party, and otherwise they will be lost." 4 But 
the personal influence of the President and the party 
strength wielded by Butler overcame the opposition : 
the House passed the bill by 135 : 114. 5 Thirty-two 
Republicans however voted no, 6 and among them were 

1 The Nation, Feb. 18, 1875, p. 108. 

8 This bill is printed in the Cong. Record for Feb. 24, 1875, p. 1748. 
For amendments see p. 1929. 

8 Life of Bowles, Merriam, vol. ii. p. 238 ; The Nation, Feb. 18, 1875, p. 105. 

4 Cong. Eecord, Feb. 27, 1875, pp. 1885, 1905. The National Repub- 
lican the administration organ in Washington ended an editorial in large 
capitals thus : " The passage of this bill is required to preserve to the Re- 
publican party the electoral vote of the Southern States. Remember that if 
the Democrats carry all the Southern States, as they will if the white league 
usurpation in some of them is not suppressed, it will require only fifty elec- 
toral votes from the Northern States to elect a Democratic President." Life 
of Lamar, Mayes, p. 213 ; Life of Bowles, Merriam, p. 239. 

* Feb. 27, Eecord, p. 1935. 

* McPherson. Twenty -seven Republicans did not vote ; of these 8 wert 
on record as favouring the bill. 


the same ten, whom I have named, as giving their voices 
against the oppression of Arkansas. 1 A large number of 
the ayes came from men who had failed of re-election 
and who looked to the President for their political future 
and perhaps for their means of livelihood. Grant, always 
faithful to his friends, rewarded many of them with 
honourable or lucrative offices. 2 

The Force bill passed the House February 27 ; it was 
read in the Senate a second time by its title but got no 
further. There was absolutely no chance of its coming 
to a vote, as the session expired by law March 4. 

At this session Congress completed its positive legis- 
lation on Reconstruction by the passage of the Civil 
Rights Act. A little over two months after the death 
of Sumner [March 11, 1874] the Senate passed [May 23], 
as a sort of memorial to him, a Civil Rights bill which 
was substantially in accordance with his ideas but the 
House did not reach a vote on it before adjournment. 
Nor did they consider the Senate bill at the next ses- 
sion, but in February 1875 took up one of their own 
which was reported from the Committee on the Judi- 
ciary by Butler its chairman who championed it during 
its progress through the House. Although Carpenter 
warned the Republican majority of the Senate that the 
bill was unconstitutional, they nevertheless passed it and 
it was approved March 1 by the President. The intent 
of the act was to secure to negroes equal rights in inns, 
public conveyances, theatres and other places of public 
amusement and to prevent them from being disqualified 
for service on juries ; it was weaker than Sumner's 
original measure in that it did not apply to schools, 
cemeteries and churches. 3 In 1883 the United States 

1 The Arkansas vote was subsequent to that on the Force bill. 

2 Life of Bowles, Merriam, vol. ii. p. 239 ; The Nation, March 4, April 1, 
pp. 141, 213. 

8 Besides the Cong. Eecord and Statutes at Large, see Pierce' s Sumner, 
vol. iv. pp. 499, 581 ; The Nation, March 4, 1876, p. 141. 


Supreme Court declared that the 1st and 2d sections of 
the Act were unconstitutional and void [those applying 
to inns, etc.] ; they held " that the rights which they 
endeavored to guarantee were not strictly civil rights at 
all but rather social rights and that in either case the 
federal government had nothing to do with them." l 

In accordance with my plan I shall now take up the 
story of Mississippi. This State remained under Republi- 
can rule, the basis of which was negro suffrage, from 1870 
to 1875 inclusive. The first Republican governor, James 
L. Alcorn, was inaugurated March 10, 1870 ; he had lived 
in Mississippi twenty-six years, had been an old-line Whig, 
but in convention had voted for the ordinance of seces- 
sion ; h had been a slaveholder and was now a planter, 
having saved some of his property from the wreckage of 
the war which he deplored. In his inaugural address, he 
professed his unaltered sympathy with his fellow-South- 
erners and disclaimed any affection for their conquerors ; 
nevertheless he accepted reconstruction and negro suffrage 
and believed in the right of coloured men to hold office 
although recognizing that against the laws which secured 
these rights were arrayed for the most part " the wealth, 
intelligence and social influence of the State." 2 . 

1 Dunning, Atlantic Monthly, Oct. 1901, p. 443 ; 109 U.S. 3. Justice Bradley 
delivered the opinion. He stated that the 4th sect, which related to service 
on Juries had been held constitutional by the Supreme court [in 1879, 
100 U.S. 339]. But "Civil Rights," he said, "such as are guaranteed by 
the Constitution against State aggression cannot be impaired by the wrong- 
ful acts of individuals. ... It is clear that the law in question cannot 
be sustained by any grant of legislative power made to Congress by the 
Fourteenth Amendment. . . . This [the Civil Rights law] is not corrective 
legislation ; it is primary and direct." Nor does the refusal of admission 
to an inn etc. infringe upon the Thirteenth Amendment ; and " if it is viola- 
tive of any right of the party his redress is to be sought under the laws 
of the State." " Whether Congress in the exercise of its power to regu- 
late commerce amongst the several States might or might not pass a law 
regulating rights in public conveyances passing from one State to another is 
a question which is not now before us." See also Pierce's Sumner, vol. iv. 
p. 582. 

* Garner, pp. 279, 280, 

156 MISSISSIPPI [1870 

On the inauguration of Alcorn, the troops with the 
exception of some small detachments in the larger towns 
were withdrawn and civil government held sway. Al- 
corn was an honest man, of considerable ability and 
of some political experience, and the other administra- 
tive officers who had been elected on his ticket, one of 
whom was a mulatto, were reputable men. The judges 
were appointed by the governor and, so far as he 
could find competent men, he named Southern Repub- 
licans but owing to the paucity of such material he was 
obliged to have recourse to Northerners and even 
Democrats. Integrity, and on the whole respectable 
ability, might be predicated of the judiciary. The Jus- 
tices of the Supreme Court were jurists of high repute : 
two were old citizens of the State, one a Democrat, the 
other a Republican, and the third an ex-Union soldier 
from New York, who had come to Mississippi at the 
close of the war. 1 While the executive and judicial 
branches of the government were not equal in character 
to the average at the North yet, had they been backed 
by an equally intelligent constituency, good government 
was not only possible but certain. But an examination 
of the legislature reveals the common blight. Thirty- 
six negroes were members, most of whom had been 
slaves. A number could neither read nor write and, 
when they drew their pay, acknowledged its receipt by 
making their mark. From out this massive ignorance 
there rose, indeed, the occasional shape of enlighten- 
ment : a coloured minister such as Revels the quadroon ; 
also John R. Lynch layman and mulatto who was a 
credit to his race and in 1872 made an impartial and 
dignified speaker of the House. 2 But the aspirations of 
most of the negroes were as low as their life experience 
had been narrow. 

A few examples will show how the dregs of the con- 

Garner, p. 283. 2 Ibid . f p . 2 06. 



stituencies had risen to the surface. The county of 
which Vicksburg was the chief town sent four negroes to 
the legislature, that which contained Jackson, the State 
capital, three ; four represented Adams, the county re- 
nowned for "its ancient aristocracy, its wealth and 
culture," l the county seat of which, Natchez, impressed 
the passing visitor, even after the desolation of war, as 
an abode of luxury and refinement. 

Negroes, carpet-baggers and scalawags controlled the 
legislature and "established the public policy of the 
State." 2 Owing to a section in the State constitution 
of 1868 which prohibited the loan of the credit of the 
State to any corporation or the taking of stock therein, 
there were happily no railroad-aid swindles such as had 
.impoverished North Carolina and Alabama. It was by 
excessive taxation, by extravagance, waste and corrup- 
tion in the use of the public money and by an unneces- 
sary multiplication of lucrative offices that the taxpayers 
were robbed. One scheme of the Republicans which 
caused much dissatisfaction was however inspired by a 
laudable purpose, although not executed with wisdom 
nor in the end, with honesty. This was the establish- 
ment of a school system on a scale of expenditure 
suitable to Ohio or Massachusetts but beyond reason in 
a poverty-stricken State like Mississippi. The taxation 
for the support of the schools became burdensome 8 and 
the Ku-Klux-Klan, who had their period of activity in 
Mississippi as well as in the other Southern States, 
directed their operations mainly to the intimidation of 
school-teachers, who taught coloured children and to the 
burning of negro schoolhouses and churches. One of 
these teachers (Miss Allen of Illinois), whose school was at 
Cotton Gin Port in Monroe County, was visited at the 
house where she stopped between one and two o'clock at 
night [March 1871] by about fifty men mounted and 

Garner, p. 270. 

2 Ibid., p. 270. 

* Ibid., passim. 

158 KU-KLUX-KLAN [1870 

disguised. Each man wore a long white robe and his 
face was covered by a loose mask with scarlet stripes. 
She was ordered to get up and dress which she did 
at once and then admitted to her room the captain 
and lieutenant who in addition to the usual disguise had 
long horns on their heads and a sort of device in front. 
The lieutenant had a pistol in his hand and he and the 
captain sat down while eight or ten men stood inside 
the door and the porch was full. They treated her 
" gentlemanly and quietly " but complained of the 
heavy school-tax, said she must stop teaching and go 
away and warned her that they never gave a second 
notice. She heeded the warning and left the county. 1 
This is a fair example of the mildest form of Ku-Klux 
operations but these and the more violent acts, so 
Lieutenant-Governor Powers, a Republican, testified, 
were confined to seven counties out of seventy-three. 2 
The opposition to coloured schools, he said further, 
came from those who had formerly been overseers and 
the lower class, the most ignorant men in the State. 3 

When Alcorn was a candidate for governor, he de- 
clared [November 10, 1869] that, " Society should no 
longer be governed by the pistol and the bowie knife," 
and next year the legislature on his recommendation 
passed a stringent law directed against the Ku-Klux- 
Klan [July 21, 1870] ; 4 but according to Powers [Novem- 
ber 8, 1871] it was impossible to break up the organi- 
zation by prosecutions in the State Courts while the 
execution of the Ku-Klux Act of Congress [April 20, 
1871] was having " a very salutary effect indeed." 5 
What has been previously stated with regard generally 
to the whole South may be repeated with special 
reference to Mississippi ; the Ku-Klux outrages practi- 
cally came to an end with the year 1872. 6 

1 Ku-Klux report, Mississippi, vol. ii. p. 777. 3 Ibid. , p. 590. 

8 Ibid., vol. i. p. 683. * Garner, p. 342. 

6 Ku-Klux report, Mississippi, vol. i. p. 691. 6 Garner, p. 344. 


Alcorn was elected to the United States Senate and 
resigned the office of governor to the regret of the 
intelligent and property-holding people but their appre- 
hensions at the change were groundless, for the lieuten- 
ant-governor, R. C. Powers, who succeeded him, won 
their respect and confidence. Powers was an ex-Union 
soldier who owned plantations in a number of counties 
of the State ; he was a conservative Republican and an 
honest man. 

All three of the Republican governors of Mississippi 
were men of integrity. Adelbert Ames, the third, was 
a native of Maine, and a graduate of West Point ; he 
had served through the Civil War ending as brevet- 
major-general, and had then been made lieutenant- 
colonel in the regular army and provisional governor 
of Mississippi [1868]. In 1870 he was elected to the 
United States Senate. At Washington, the dissension 
which had begun between him and Alcorn at home 
broke into a rupture, so that both felt the need of 
appealing to the people of their State for approval. 
Ames in 1873 obtained the regular Republican nomina- 
tion for governor and Alcorn ran on a bolters' ticket, 
receiving the support of most of the white Republicans 
and also of the Democrats, while Ames secured the 
negro vote and was elected by 19,000 majority. 

The new governor sincerely endeavoured to carry out 
the Reconstruction Acts in the letter and the spirit. 
He believed that, since the negroes were in the majority, 
theirs was the right to rule ; and he constituted himself 
their champion, convinced as he was that the white people 
when in power would override them and deprive them 
of the right to vote. Nevertheless he overrated their 
mental capacity and moral caliber. Like the men who 
had enacted Congressional reconstruction, he did not 
appreciate the great fact of race, that between none of 
the important races of mankind was there a difference 
so wide as between the Caucasian and the Negro. 


Furthermore he was sadly handicapped by his supporters 
and associates. The negroes, exceeding the whites by a 
population of 61,000, maintained that as they furnished 
most of the votes, they should have a fair share of the 
offices and demanded at least three out of the seven on 
the State ticket. They were accorded the lieutenant- 
governor, the state superintendent of education and the 
secretary of state who were elected along with Ames. 
The first two were unblushing rascals. It was Ames's 
custom to go North during the summer, and then the 
lieutenant-governor ran riot in pardons and commuta- 
tions of sentence; apparently it was proved that 1800 
was paid him in hand to secure the pardon of a man 
convicted of murder. The State superintendent of 
education was under indictment for larceny at Brooklyn 
(N.Y.) and for malfeasance as circuit clerk of Warren 
county. 1 Under him, corruption followed extravagance 
in the administration of the schools. 

The Africanization of the State may be measured by 
a comparison of the legislatures elected in 1869 and 
1873 ; in the earlier there were 36 negroes, in the later 
64, this last number being considerably over one-third of 
the whole body. In the 1873 legislature, the negroes 
were re-enforced by 24 carpet-baggers, and the Republi- 
cans had an overwhelming majority. It is remarkable that 
the State debt did not grow to large proportions : under 
carpet-bag-negro rule it increased only a little over a half 
a million. But the tax levy for State purposes alone 
was augmented from one mill on the dollar in 1869 to 
14 mills in 1874. Nevertheless, to realize the misgovern- 
ment and corruption which had their source in the 
legislature, one must go outside the State capital. 
County offices were multiplied so that places were pro- 
vided for nearly all the white Republicans who did not 
secure federal appointments. In some counties where 

i Garner, pp. 293, 366. 


Republicans were scarce, a man would hold more than 
one office. The sheriff was the most important county 
officer : his compensation was in fees and perquisites 
which in some places mounted up to an excessive sum. 
This office was commonly held by a Northern white or a 
negro. But few negroes were competent to perform the 
duties ; for instance, it was said that the coloured man, 
who for four years was sheriff of De Soto County could 
neither read nor write. The negro incumbent generally 
farmed out his office to a white deputy for a share of 
the revenue. The assessors also made large amounts of 
money. The boards of supervisors and justices of the 
peace were important local officials : these offices were 
often filled by negroes and incompetence and dishonesty 
reigned. Such were the leeches that drew the strength 
of the taxpayers. The tax levy ran from 21 to 5 per 
cent, for State, county and township or municipal 
purposes ; landowners could not pay their taxes ; and 
there was forfeited to the State 6,000,000 acres, nearly 
one-fifth of the area of Mississippi, and considerably 
more land than was contained within the borders of 
Massachusetts and Rhode Island together. Strangely 
enough, the financial predicament of the Democratic 
counties seemed to be as bad as the Republican. 1 

Mississippi under carpet-bag-negro rule may be personi- 
fied in the picturesque figure of one of her devoted 
servants who was destined to play an important part in her 
redemption. In her village of Oxford, the seat of her 
State University, Lucius Q. C. Lamar might be seen of a 
pleasant evening leaning over the white picket fence in 
front of his humble cottage. Bare-headed, clad in a 
frayed, ink-stained study -gown, he seems drooping like a 

1 My authorities for this account are Garner ; Appletons' Annual Cyclo- 
pdia, 1870-1874 ; Bancroft, The Negro in Politics ; the two volumes of the 
Ku-Klux report devoted to Mississippi ; Barksdale in Why the Solid South ; 
The Nation ; Mayes, Life of Lamar ; Ames's testimony with Boutwtll 

16 2 LUCIUS Q. C. LAMAR [1874 

wounded soldier. His sombre, thoughtful face upturned 
to a passer-by in an effort at a nod, tells of the sorrowful 
heart within that broods upon his dear suffering State. 
Coming upon a life half studious, half active, mainly 
solitary, the effect of these days of melancholy and 
anxious reflection, when he generously took to himself 
the sorrows of his community, was to prepare him for 
one of his greatest efforts. 1 

Lamar was a lawyer and well educated ; ?.n 1850 at 
the age of twenty-five he became adjunct professor of 
mathematics in the University of Mississippi and ten 
years later took the chair of Ethics and Metaphysics. 
He served three years [18571860] in the national House 
of Representatives, was a delegate to the Charleston 
Convention, and a member of the Mississippi Conven- 
tion of 1861, reporting from the committee the ordinance 
of secession which took his State out of the Union. 
A colonel in the Confederate Army until illness forced 
him to retire from the service, he was then sent to Europe 
on a mission to Russia for the Confederate government. 
This was not fulfilled, as the Senate did not confirm his 
appointment but during 1863 he visited England and 
France with much profit to himself. After the war he 
taught Psychology, Logic and Law in the Universit}^. 
Burdened with debts he told in a few words the story 
of many Southern men : " I feel sometimes pretty blue 
about the future. How I am to get along I can't see 
now ; but I hope to get some law practice in addition to 
my salary " [July 26, 1866]. 2 On the advent of Repub- 
lican administration in Mississippi [1870], he resigned 
his professorship and depended for his living upon the 
practice of law. During this year he wrote in a private 
letter : " The country is in a deplorable state and the 
people, with all their sacred convictions scattered to the 
winds, are absorbed in the prosaic details of making a 

1 Life of Lamar, Mayes, pp. 166-168. 2 Mayes, p. 124. 




living. Our public men have become bewildered in the 
wreck of all that they considered permanent and true 
and know not what to do or advise. There is a perfect 
anarchy of opinion and purpose among us. . . . We 
feel that the fate of our section is not in our hands ; 
that nothing we can do or say will affect the result." l 

Two years of observation and reflection ended with 
pointing out to him the way. And the people of 
Mississippi knew their man : they inaugurated a move- 
ment which resulted in his election to Congress [1872]. 
He lay under disabilities but, as he had the faculty of 
making friends, these were at once removed by a Repub- 
lican Congress, generous in the flush of their victory. His 
private correspondence shows him ever thinking and 
devising how to bring the two sections together so that 
each might see with the eyes of the other. After two 
years the opportunity came when he rose to pronounce 
an eulogy on Sumner. 

It must be premised that up to the year 1872 the 
South hated Sumner almost as bitterly as Thaddeus 
Stevens, yet even then there was a difference in the 
feeling towards the two due to the high personal char- 
acter of the Massachusetts senator. In 1872, Sumner's 
support of Greeley for the presidency established a com- 
munity of political interest, and in December of the 
same year he won Southern regard by his magnanimity 
in asking leave in the Senate to introduce this bill : 
" Whereas the national unity and good will among 
fellow-citizens can be assured only through oblivion of 
past differences, and it is contrary to the usage of civil- 
ized nations to perpetuate the memory of civil war ; 
therefore be it enacted etc., that the names of battles 
with fellow-citizens shall not be continued in the Army 
Register, or placed on the regimental colors of the 
United States." For this Sumner was caricatured by 

Mayes, p, 130. 

164 LAMAR'S EULOGY [1874 

Thomas Nast and censured by the legislature of Massa- 
chusetts 1 but he awoke in Lamar's knightly heart a 
feeling that found expression on this memorable day 
[April 27, 1874]. 

Beginning in the conventional strain of eulogy, Lamar 
soon came to speak out of the fulness of his heart. 
" Charles Sumner," he said, " was born with an instinc- 
tive love of freedom, and was educated from his earliest 
infancy to the belief that freedom is the natural and 
indefeasible right of every intelligent being having the 
outward form of man. . . . And along with this all- 
controlling love of freedom, he possessed a moral sensi- 
bility keenly intense and vivid, a conscientiousness which 
would never permit him to swerve by the breadth of a 
hair from what he pictured to himself as the path of 
duty. To a man thoroughly permeated and imbued 
with such a creed and animated and constantly actuated 
by such a spirit of devotion, to behold a human being 
or a race of human beings restrained of their natural 

1 Pierce' s Sumner, vol. iv. p. 550. On account of Sumner's illness, his 
bill was laid over in the Senate. It would not have passed. The House 
adopted a counter-proposition by a party vote. Before Sumner's death the 
resolution of censure by the Massachusetts legislature was rescinded and 
annulled by large majorities [Feb. 1874]. Ibid., p. 589. In this con- 
nection the action of Congress in 1905 is of interest. On Feb. 28, 1905 
the President approved this resolution "That the Secretary of War is 
hereby authorized to deliver to the proper authorities of the respective 
States in which the regiments which bore these colors were organized 
certain Union and Confederate battle flags now in the custody of the War 
Department." On Feb. 10, Lamb of Virginia introduced the resolution in the 
House ; it was referred to the Committee on military affairs. On Feb. 18, it 
was reported without amendment and referred to the Committee of the Whole. 
Feb. 21 it was called up by unanimous consent and immediately passed 
without debate. No yeas and nays [applause]. On Feb. 23, Alger reported 
it to the Senate and it was immediately passed without debate and without 
a call for the yeas and nays. Cong. Record, pp. 2381-3131. General Ains- 
worth, the Military Secretary, has returned 198 flags, divided thus among 
the States : Alabama 14, Arkansas 6, Florida 7, Georgia 24, Kentucky 1, 
Louisiana 8, Mississippi 18, Missouri 2, North Carolina 31, South Carolina 
14, Tennessee 7, Texas 4, Virginia 63. Washington despatch to Boston 
Herald, March 29, 1905. 


rights to liberty, for no crime by him or them committed, 
was to feel all the belligerent instincts of his nature 
roused to combat. The fact was to him a wrong which 
no logic could justify. It mattered not how humble 
in the scale of national existence the subject of this 
restraint might be, how dark his skin or how dense his 
ignorance. . . . But here let me do this great man the 
justice which, amid the excitements of the struggle be- 
tween the sections now past, I may have been disposed 
to deny him. In this fiery zeal and this earnest warfare 
against the wrong, as he viewed it, there entered no 
enduring personal animosity towards the men whose lot 
it was to be born to the system which he denounced. 
It has been the kindness of the sympathy which in these 
later years he has displayed toward the impoverished 
and suffering people of the Southern States that has 
unveiled to me the generous and tender heart which 
beat beneath the bosom of the zealot and has forced me 
to yield him the tribute of my respect, I might even say 
of my admiration. ... It was certainly a gracious act 
toward the South though unhappily it jarred upon 
the sensibilities of the people at the other extreme of 
the Union and estranged from him the great body of 
his political friends to propose to erase from the 
banners of the national Army the mementoes of the 
bloody internecine struggle, which might be regarded as 
assailing the pride or wounding the sensibilities of the 
Southern people. That proposal will never be forgotten 
by that people so long as the name of Charles Sumner 
lives in the memory of man. . . . Charles Sumner in 
life believed that all occasion for strife and distrust be- 
tween the North and South had passed awa} 7 , and there 
no longer remained any cause for continued estrange- 
ment between these two sections of our common coun- 
try. Are there not many of us who believe the same 
thing ? Is not that the common sentiment, or if it is 
not ought it not to be, of the great mass of our people 

166 LAMAR'S EULOGY [1874 

North and South ? . . . The South prostrate, ex- 
hausted, drained of her life-blood as well as of her mate- 
rial resources yet still honorable and true accepts the 
bitter award of the bloody arbitrament without reserva- 
tion, resolutely determined to abide the result with 
chivalrous fidelity ; yet as if struck dumb by the mag- 
nitude of her reverses she suffers on in silence. The 
North exultant in her triumph and elated by success 
still cherishes, as we are assured, a heart full of magnan- 
imous emotions towards her disarmed and discomfited 
antagonist ; and yet as if mastered by some mysterious 
spell, silencing her better impulses, her words and acts 
are the words and acts of suspicion and distrust. Would 
that the spirit of the illustrious dead whom we lament 
to-day could speak from the grave to both parties to 
this deplorable discord in tones which should reach each 
and every heart throughout this broad territory, < My 
countrymen know one another and you will love one 
another.' ' 

The eulogy produced a powerful impression. Repub- 
licans vied with Democrats in applause. Blaine the 
speaker was affected to tears, as were many others. 
Lyman Tremain, a radical Republican, visibly moved, 
exclaimed, " My God, what a speech ! and how it will 
ring through the country ! " * Blaine afterwards wrote, 
" Lamar pleased the radical anti-slavery sentiment of 
New England : he did not displease the radical pro- 
slavery sentiment of the South." 2 George F. Hoar, 
another auditor who soon followed with his own tribute 
to Sumner, wrote that hardly any other man could have 
said those words and retained his hold on Mississippi, 
but they " never shook for a moment the love for Lamar 
of a people who knew so well his love for them." 3 This 

1 Mayes, p. 188. 2 Twenty Years, vol. ii. p. 546. 

8 Autobiography, vol. ii. p. 176. A day or two after the eulogy Lamar in 
company with Senator Thurman went to a circus where they witnessed the 
usual woman's feat on the flying trapeze. Letting go one trapeze and with a 


eulogy, one of the most remarkable ever delivered in 
Congress, was an important contributing cause toward 
the redemption of Mississippi. " I never in all my life," 
wrote Lamar next day in a private letter, " opened my 
lips with a purpose more single to the interests of our 
Southern people than when I made this speech." 1 

The corrupt and incompetent ring of Vicksburg which 
had increased the city debt from 813,000 2 in 1869 to 
81,400,000 in 1874 was broken up in August of the later 
year by the election of a Reform ticket. In December 
the Reform people, among whom were Republicans as 
well as Democrats, groaning under an aggregate rate of 
taxation of nearly 5 per cent., held a meeting in the 
determination to secure an honest county govern- 
ment as well. They forced Crosby, the sheriff, to 
resign ; he went at once to Jackson to confer with the 
governor who told him to consider his resignation as 
void and advised him to take steps to regain the pos- 
session of his office. In accordance with this advice 
Crosby called upon the negroes of the county to sustain 
him by force. 

Vicksburg was a city of 12,443, over half of whom 
were black ; in the county [Warren] the black popula- 
tion was more than double that of the white. On the 
Sunday at Crosby's instance the ministers in all the 
coloured churches urged their congregations to arm and 
march to Crosby's aid. This threatened action and an 
exaggerated report that all the negroes of the county were 
rallying to the sheriff's standard for the purpose of at- 
tacking the city, greatly alarmed the white people, mak- 
ing them apprehend a negro insurrection with its 

wild scream, seeming as if she would fall to the ground, she caught another 
and resumed her performance. "Lamar," said Thurman, "that reminds 
me of you." " How so ? " " About your speech, you know. You caught 
all right ; but if you had missed you'd have broken your neck," Mayes, 
p. 191. 

i Ibid., p. 188. a This included the county debt. 


dreaded accompaniments of robbery, killing, burning 
and rape. Any one who in carpet-bag days has strolled 
on the promenade of Vicksburg of a pleasant Sunday 
afternoon and studied the faces and manners of the 
negroes to be seen there must have gained some idea of 
the terror that seized the people on this occasion. 1 
Under the direction of the Reform mayor the white 
men were organized to meet the danger. 

Some of the negroes Were under the delusion that 
Governor Ames and General Grant would be present in 
person as their leaders. On Monday December 7 [1874] 
a force of armed blacks approached the city ; a part of 
it was the negro militia of the State. A number of 
conflicts took place and twenty-nine blacks and two 
whites were killed. President Grant issued the usual 
proclamation, 2 and Sheridan who was in command at 
New Orleans sent some soldiers to Vicksburg who rein- 
stated Crosby and restored peace. 8 

A certain attention to chronological order, which in 
this case will assist the development of my subject, leads 
me now to turn aside for a time from the affairs of 
Mississippi to take up those of Louisiana. 

The story of Louisiana under carpet-bag-negro rule 
from 1868 on is a sickening tale of extravagance, waste, 
corruption and fraud. The Republican party was com- 
posed of negroes, carpet-baggers and a small number of 
native whites, but, as, the coloured population exceeded 
the white by 2000 and the negroes were almost wholly 
Republicans, they were the real basis of the party at 
the ballot-box. When it came to the division of the 
offices they got at the outset by no means a proportion- 
ate share : their cleverer white allies took most of the 

1 1 refer to a personal observation in 1872. 2 Dec. 21. 

3 Garner, p. 328 ; Johnston, Miss. Hist. Soc. Pub. vol. vi. p. 193. Apple- 
tons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1874 ; The Cotton States in 1875, Nordhoff, p. 79 ; 
The Nation, Jan.-March, 1875, pp. 1, 141 ; Life of Lamar, Mayes, p. 232. 


fat places, but in the composition of the legislature the 
constituencies could not be ignored and there the negroes 
had a large representation. 1 Ignorant beyond any pre- 
vious conception of legislators, except in their sister 
Southern States, they were not at first as corrupt as their 
white colleagues, but this was due not to virtue but to 
inexperience. As time went on they proved apt pupils. 

Corruption was unblushing. Legislation was openly 
bought and sold. " What was the price of a senator ? " 
asked a member of a Congressional committee. " I 
think, six hundred dollars " was the reply. 2 In the 
rotunda of the St. Charles Hotel, New Orleans, among 
railroad lobbyists who were corrupting the legislature, a 
more frequent inquiry than " What's cotton ? " was 
" How are negro votes selling to-day ? " 3 

Nordhoff saw coloured members of the legislature, 
who ten years before were slaves, " driving magnificent 
horses, seated in stylish equipages and wearing diamond 
breastpins." 4 The grotesqueness and horror of negro 
rule struck honest observers no matter what were their 
predilections. " I myself," wrote George F. Hoar, 
" although I have always maintained, and do now, the 
equal right of all men of whatever color or race to a 
share in the government of the country, felt a thrill of 
sadness when I saw the Legislature of Louisiana in 
session in the winter of 1873 [1875]. " 5 "I have been 
opposed to slavery ever since I sat on my father's knee," 
wrote Charles Nordhoff, " and was taught by him that 
slavery was the greatest possible wrong ; but when in 
New Orleans last Wednesday [April 1875] I for the first 
time saw negro legislators I was unpleasantly startled 

1 About 40 to 46 in a House of 107; in 1873, 10 in a Senate of 36. House 
Mis. Doc. 42d Cong. 2d Sess., No. 211 ; H. E. D. 42d Cong. 3d Sess., No. 91. 
a Report, No. 92, 42d Cong. 2d Sess., p. 26. 
8 So I was informed at New Orleans in 1872. 

* The Cotton States, p. 43. 

* Autobiography, vol. ii. p. 160. 


not because they were black but because they were 
transparently ignorant and unfit. What then must have 
been the feelings of men who saw blacks, but lately 
their own slaves, and as ignorant as the mules they 
drove, preferred before them for office, set over them in 
authority, making laws for them and making them 
very badly at that openly plundering the State, bribed 
by rascally whites, and not merely enjoying, but under 
the lead of white adventurers, shamefully abusing place 
and power ? " 1 

In the course of time an adroit and unscrupulous 
negro leader was developed who with his lieutenants 
grasped at the lucrative offices on the ground that his 
people furnished the votes. The negroes eagerly em- 
braced the cause of corrupt leaders of their own colour, 
who, when elevated to office, had no sense of the dignity 
of the position but looked upon it simply as an oppor- 
tunity for plunder and felt no shame in bribery and cor- 
ruption. The very grossest misgovernment was the 
consequence of the combination of these corrupt whites 
and blacks and it was furthered by the centralized system 
constructed by the State constitution and the legislation 
resulting therefrom, which reposed almost despotic powers 
in the hands of the governor. The processes of the 
thieves resembled those of the Tweed ring of New York. 
There were " alteration and erasure of warrants, forgery 
of names," unauthorized and illegal issues of warrants 
and drawing of mileage by legislative committees for 
tours of inspection which were never made. 2 There 
were all sorts of fraud, bribery and embezzlement in the 
different parishes ; 3 mismanagement and corruption in 
the school boards. There were corrupt district attor- 
neys and judges; and illiterate negro juries trying 

1 The Cotton States, p. 49. 

2 The Nation, Jan. 11, 1872, p. 19 ; Warmoth's Annual Message, Jan. 1, 
1872. 3 The parish subdivision corresponds to county in other States. 


intricate cases of commercial l;i\v. A man openly 
charged with theft was elects! parish judge by the 
coloured people. Another whom the United States 
Supreme Court in a decision had alleged guilty of fraud 
in the sale of a railroad property was appointed Chief 
Justice of the Supreme Court of Louisiana by the gov- 
ernor and permitted to retain his place by the legis- 
lature. 1 

The rich and fruitful State of Louisiana, the char- 
acteristic products of which strike so powerfully the 
Northern visitor, the great commercial city of New 
Orleans, full of energetic and broad-minded merchants, 
a source of pride to the country before the war, a city 
the renown of which reached the limits of civilized 
trade, these were being plundered by a gang of alien 
thieves assisted by former bondmen. Louisiana, to use 
the phrase of Carlyle was " God's fair Earth and Task- 
Garden " and her governors were stealing the substance 
of the governed. In 1861 the State tax was 29 cents on 
$100 ; in 1868, 52J cents ; in 1872, |2.15 ; in New Orleans 
the parish and municipal tax was 13 more. In some 
parishes the tax was even higher. The debt of Louisiana 
in 1868 at the beginning of Republican rule was 14 mill- 
ions ; the estimates of the debt on January 1, 1874 run 
all the way from 24 to 50 millions. New Orleans in 
1875 had a debt of 22 millions, of which the bonds repre- 
senting 17 millions sold for 35 cents on the dollar. 

Misgovernment had almost amounted to confiscation. 
An estate in New Orleans worth one million in 1867 
and yielding a net revenue of 7 per cent, did not five 
years later fetch enough rent to pay the taxes, insurance 
and usual repairs. " A house and lot assessed for 
$36,000 was sold in March 1875 for $11,000." These 
instances are quite typical of the general condition. 
" Property in New Orleans," wrote Nordhoff, " is 



almost worthless and totally unsalable. . . . Good 
residence property has fallen since 1868 more than 50 
per cent, in value. Rents produce very small net in- 
come." In three years [1871-1873] the tax seizures by 
the sheriff were 47,491. James B. Eustis, a distinguished 
lawyer of New Orleans, testified before the Congres- 
sional committee on February 9, 1872 that the misgovern- 
ment was as desolating to his city as the great fire of 
the previous autumn had been to Chicago. " Capital is 
flying from the State," he continued, " commerce is 
decreasing and everybody who can is trying to get away. 
... It is only a question of time when we shall all be 

In many of the parishes it was just as bad. In St. 
Landry [or St. Martin] between November 1871 and 
November 1873, 821 plantations and tracts of land were 
sold for taxes. " I," wrote Nordhoff, " have seen parish 
newspapers three of whose sides were filled with adver- 
tisements of tax sales." 1 

The governors of Louisiana were for the most part 
low-minded and sordid men ; among the governed those 
qualities were common which in civilized states gener- 
ally bring men to the top. But the corrupt government 
was maintained by Federal authority whose attitude was 
unequivocal as the presence of blue-coated soldiers tes- 
tified. This force, be it said, was moral rather than 
physical. In all the Southern States on election day 
in November 1874 the number of United States troops 
was but 4082, 2 but behind them were President Grant, 
General Sherman and Lieutenant-General Sheridan. 

Reference has been made to the Tweed ring of New 
York as a pattern of corruption. In New York or in 
any corruptly ridden city or State at the North, honest 

1 The Cotton States, Nordhoff, pp. 57-63 ; Scott, Repudiation of State 
Debts, pp. 110, 111 ; report of Speer and Archer, House Reports, May 
30, 1872, p. 21 ; Testimony, p. 534. 

2 President's message, Richardson, vol. vii. p. 298. 

CH. XLL] ELECTION OF 1872 173 

government could at any time be secured by a single- 
minded, well-devised, steadfast combination of the intelli- 
gence and property of the community. Honest govern- 
ment could likewise have been secured in Louisiana, had 
not each movement to this end run against the power of 
the United States, exercised in the interest of the Re- 
publican party. Such conflicts make up the history of 
Louisiana from 1872 to 1877 ; had President Grant with- 
drawn his support of the carpet-bag-negro rule, reform 
would have been achieved shortly after the autumn elec- 
tion of 1872. 

Disfranchisement of former Confederates was no 
obstacle. On the recommendation of Governor Henry 
C. Warmoth, a legislative, confirmed by a popular vote, 
removed all disabilities resulting from the war. 1 The 
next light for the intelligent and property-holding peo- 
ple came from a quarrel between two factions of the 
Republican party one headed by Governor Warmoth 
and the other by S. B. Packard, United States marshal. 
An account of this quarrel is not necessary for our pur- 
pose, but one result of it was that in 1872 Warmoth 
and the Conservatives had joined together to support a 
fusion State ticket, headed by John McEnery the candi- 
date for governor. The Republicans opposed to him 
William P. Kellogg. After the votes were counted both 
parties claimed the election of the governor and the 
legislature, and in Louisiana to claim a victory meant 
to take steps to secure it. 

A peculiarity of the Louisiana election law was the 
revision of the returns by a returning-board composed of 
the governor, the lieutenant-governor, the secretary of 
state and two others who were specifically named; these 
had the power to throw out the returns from any voting 
places which in their judgment had been carried by 
violence, intimidation, bribery or corrupt influences. 

1 Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1869, p. 394, 1870, p. 467. 


Now the Republicans claimed over 18,000 majority, the 
Fusionists 10,000. Given a vote which could be made 
to assume such different complexions and an election 
law which conferred such powers, it is easy to see that 
in a State where politicians were unscrupulous, those 
who had the returning-board would canvass the returns 
in favour of their own party. Warmoth had the re- 
turns in his own hands but, as the board was not to his 
liking, he reconstructed it and in due time the new board 
announced the election of McEnery as governor and 
enough fusion members to make a majority of the legis- 
lature. The Republicans meanwhile got up a returning- 
board of their own which, procuring some pseudo-returns, 
declared that Kellogg and a Republican majority of the 
legislature were elected. Then the two parties settled 
down to an intricate political game, one feature of which 
was an order of Durell, United States Circuit Judge, 
issued at his private lodgings between nine and eleven in 
the evening, directing the United States marshal to take 
possession of the State House. Packard, who held this 
office and was also chairman of the Republican State 
Committee, had the United States troops at his service, 
by authority of the Attorney-General ; with a military 
posse he seized and held the State House ; his action 
was sustained by the President. Under the same pro- 
tection the Republican legislature met and in due time 
Kellogg assumed the authority of governor. 

The Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections 
investigated the subject and on February 20, 1873, Car- 
penter presented the majority report which was signed 
by him, Logan, Alcorn and Anthony, all Republicans. 
They maintained that, while on the face of the returns, 
McEnery was chosen, yet under Warmoth who held the 
entire machinery, the election, although unusually free 
from violence, had not been fairly conducted. But it 
was also true that the Kellogg government could only 
be maintained by the military power of the United 


States. 1 They recommended therefore a new election 
and Carpenter introduced a bill for that purpose which 
provided machinery that would have ensured a fair 
vote. 2 This bill failed to pass the Senate, owing largely 
to the influence of Morton who was one of the Com- 
mittee of investigation and had made a minority report, 
recommending non-interference and virtually a recogni- 
tion of the Kellogg government. Morton had a power- 
ful influence over Grant and to him was mainly due the 
President's message on Louisiana [February 25, 1873], 
in which he argued in favour of the Kellogg government 
and said that, if Congress took no action, he should rec- 
ognize and support it. 8 

Of all the alternatives the President chose the worst. 
For literal justice the new election was the thing but 
substantial justice would have been done by withdraw- 
ing his support from Kellogg ; then a bloodless revo- 
lution would have put the McEnery government in 
power. This would simply have restored the status of 
December 1872 when as Trumbull, one of the committee 
of investigation, said in his minority report, " But for 
the illegal interference of the United States authorities, 
as is stated in the report of the majority, the McEnery 
government would have been peacefully inaugurated." 
Trumbull made out a good case. He wrote that the 
election "was confessedly one of the most quiet and 
peaceful elections ever held in the State and the evidence 
shows that it was substantially free and fair." Accord- 
ing to the census of 1870 there were 153 more white 
than coloured voters. Eight to ten thousand negroes 
voted the fusion ticket while probably not more than 
half that number of whites acted with the Republicans. 
These facts tended to show that, despite the frauds in 
some parishes, the McEnery majority of 10,000 was " the 

1 Report, pp. xlv, 1. 2 This bill is printed in the Globe, p. 1850. 

8 Life of Morton, Foulke, vol. ii. p. 284 ; Richardson, vol. vii. p. 212. 


fairly expressed will " of the people of Louisiana. 1 When 
Congress adjourned without action, Grant had a chance 
to anticipate Hayes in allowing Louisiana to govern her- 
self but here, as in so many other cases during his presi- 
dency, he missed a grand opportunity. To him, more 
than to any other one man, was it due that, owing to 
his support of the Kellogg regime, this State had yet to 
pass through two more years of turbulence, misrule and 
corruption and yet two more of very imperfect rule 
before she should obtain a government by her own people 
of intelligence and property. 

Groaning under the yoke of corruption and feeling 
that, when they had attempted at the ballot-box to 
overturn it, they had been cheated, it was little wonder 
that the impetuous spirits among the people should be 
prompted to violence. The words of Grant's inaugural 
address, " The States lately at war with the General 
Government are now happily rehabilitated," had barely 
been uttered, when at Colfax in Grant parish well up on 
the Red River and 350 miles from New Orleans, there 
occurred a frightful massacre. Some desperate white 
men refused to recognize the parish judge and sheriff, 
who were commissioned by Governor Kellogg, and an 
invasion was threatened to depose them from office. 
The sheriff raised a posse of negroes to enable him to 
retain possession of the court-house ; these threw up a 
small earthwork to fortify their position. On Easter 
Sunday, April 13, 1873, a large body of white men rode 
into the town and demanded that the negroes lay down 
their arms and surrender the court-house. This was 
refused. The white men opened fire with a cannon and 
drove the negroes from the breastwork ; some of them 
fled down the river, some were overtaken and shot. 
About sixty or seventy negroes took refuge in the court- 
house. This was set fire to ; as the negroes rushed out 

1 Report, pp. Hi, Ixiii, Ixv. 


a number were killed and about thirty-seven captured. 
The prisoners were shot down in cold blood. 1 In all, 
fifty-nine negroes were killed and two white men. 2 

Such occurrences postponed the day of redemption 
which was only possible by winning the sympathy of 
the Northern public. The words of George F. Hoar set 
a popular chord a-vibrating while the more philosophic 
statement of The Nation was looked upon as an apology 
for violence. Thus wrote Hoar in his report : " This 
deed was without palliation or justification it was delib- 
erate, barbarous, cold-blooded murder. It must stand 
like the massacre of Glencoe or of St. Bartholomew, a 
foul blot on the page of history." 8 The Nation thus : 
The " horrible massacre " was " a not unnatural conse- 
quence of the position in which Congress left the dispute 
between the two factions over the government of the 
State. . . . There is now a great outcry for the punish- 
ment of these < demons ' but there was no outcry, or at 
least no adequate outcry over the disgraceful connivance 
at Washington at the state of things which has converted 
Louisiana into a South American republic and destroyed 
all confidence on the part of all classes, not only in the 
law but in a popular vote which produces the law." 4 

In August 1874 at Coushatta, a town farther up the 
Red River than Colfax, the sequel to an affray between 
whites and blacks in which a number of each had been 
killed, was that six white Republican office-holders 
agreed to comply with the demand for their resignation ; 
they surrendered themselves to the members of the 
White League who were the attacking party and victo- 
rious. While these six Republicans were being taken to 

1 " A few who were wounded, but not mortally, escaped by feigning 

2 Report of Hoar, Wheeler and Frye, Feb. 1876, p. 13 ; Marshall's report, 
p. 10 ; statement of Judge Woods of the United States Circuit Court, cited 
by Grant in message Jan. 13, 1875, Richardson, vol. vii. p. 308. 

8 p. 14. * April 24, 1873, p. 277. 


Shreveport under guard, they were intercepted by an- 
other band " set upon and deliberately murdered in cold 
blood." * 

During the summer of 1874 the President withdrew 
all troops from the State except a small garrison at New 
Orleans. Taking advantage of this, a large number of 
citizens of New Orleans rose on September 14 in an ill- 
considered attempt at revolution. They erected barri- 
cades in the streets and fought with the Metropolitan 
police who were mostly coloured ; men were killed on 
both sides, in all a score or more. The citizens got 
possession of the State House and the Conservative 
leaders started to reorganize the government. President 
Grant issued a proclamation, sent troops to Louisiana, 
who compelled the surrender of the State property and 
the disbanding of the armed force that was sustaining 
the Conservatives. The United States soldiers then 
re-established the Kellogg government. 2 

In the autumn of 1874 an election for members of the 
legislature took place ; on the face of the returns the 
Conservatives had a majority of 29 in a House of 
Representatives of 111 members. But the returning- 
board, an instrument of Governor Kellogg and Marshal 
Packard, found, after a session of many weeks, that 53 
Republicans and 53 Conservatives had been elected while 
as to 5 seats they rendered no decision whatever. The 
main grounds on which so many Conservatives were 
thrown out were intimidation and fraud. We are 
constrained to declare," say Charles Foster, William 
Walter Phelps and Clarkson N. Potter, a sub-committee 
of the national House who visited New Orleans, " that 
the action of the returning-board, on the whole, was 
arbitrary, unjust and, in our opinion, illegal ; and that 

* Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1874, p. 477 ; Marshall's report, p. 9. 
2 Appleton, 1874, p. 479 ; Grant's message, Richardson, vol. vii. p. 309 ; 
the different House of Representatives reports. 


this arbitrary, unjust and illegal action alone prevented 
the return by the board of a majority of conservative 
members of the lower house." 1 During their stay of 
eight days in New Orleans Foster and his associates took 
much testimony. "No general intimidation of Republican 
voters was established," they say. " Of all those who 
testified to intimidation there was hardly any one who 
of his own knowledge could specify a reliable instance 
of such acts, and of the white men who were produced 
to testify generally on such subjects, very nearly all, if 
not every single one, was the holder of an office." 2 
In truth there seems to % have been quite as much 
intimidation practised by negroes on fellow-negroes, 
who were disposed to vote the conservative ticket. 
And "alleged intimidation" was used by the Republicans 
as a campaign shibboleth. Packard, as chairman of the 
Republican State Committee, used his office of United 
States marshal to make arrests of white citizens, through 
his deputies, who at times bore blank warrants and were 
aided by the Federal soldiers, thereby spreading abroad 
the idea that the dominant party was determined to win 
at all hazards and that any who stood in their way 
might suffer prosecution and imprisonment. 8 

If there was fraud on the conservative side it was 
isolated and insignificant ; the Republicans on the other 
hand erected it into a system. According to the census 
of 1870 there were 153 more white than coloured men 
over the age of 21, and there had been no change in this 
proportion favourable to the coloured. Yet 90,781 
negroes registered, 4000 more than the adult males 
returned by the Census, as against 76,823 whites, 10,000 
less. " The registration was wholly in the hands of 
the Kellogg officials " ; there were in the Republican 

1 Report submitted Jan. 15, 1875, No. 101, 43d Cong. 2d Sess., p. 5. 2 Ibid. 
3 Ibid., p. 6 ; report of Foster, Phelps, Potter and Marshall, Feb. 23, 1876. 
No. 261, 43d Cong. 2d Sess., p. 2. 

180 FOSTER PHELPS [1875 

interest " 5200 cases of conceded false registration in 
New Orleans alone." Foster and his associates affirm 
that so far as concerned violence, intimidation or fraud 
on the part of the Conservatives, the election was peace- 
able and fair. 1 

I have drawn these facts from two reports, obviously 
written by Foster, and signed by himself, Phelps and 
Potter ; and the second report was also subscribed to by 
Marshall. Potter and Marshall were Democrats and 
must have gratefully agreed to a representation of facts 
so much in the interest of their party. But Foster and 
Phelps were Republicans and good party men. Foster 
was born in western Ohio and his schooling did not 
extend beyond the public schools and an academy, 
which he left at an early age to help his father in his 
store in the town of Fostoria. Succeeding to the busi- 
ness, he enlarged and modernized it ; and by virtue of 
his occupation as a country store-keeper he had a wide 
acquaintance in his community ; he became indeed its 
patron saint. If any one needed to borrow money to 
improve his farm or to satisfy the mortgage of an im- 
portunate creditor ; if any one was in distress, if the 
manager of a charitable institution needed money, he 
applied to " Charley Foster." He went naturally into 
politics but he had reached forty-two when he first ran 
for Congress. His district was Democratic but he con- 
tested it successfully in 1870 and in the three following 
elections. 2 

William Walter Phelps, born in New York City, came 
from a Connecticut family of distinction. He had a 
rich father, who gave him every educational advantage, 
and he improved his opportunity to the utmost. He 
graduated from Yale College with honour and in after 

1 Report submitted Jan. 15, 1875, No. 101, 43d Cong. 2d Sess., pp. 1, 2. 

2 I have drawn this account from the article in the J. T. White & Co. 
National Cyclopaedia of Biography and my own recollections. 


life took a keen interest in the management of that 
noble institution. He studied law at the Columbia law 
school and after graduation went into active practice. 
His father left him a fortune and, while he lived like a 
gentleman, he used his money in a way to promote the 
welfare of the people. He also devoted his life to their 
service looking upon the various offices he held as a pub- 
lic trust. 1 

Foster, who had started life in the " Black Swamp " 
of Ohio, and Phelps, a product of the culture and refine- 
ment of the East, possessed in common the qualities of 
candour and moral courage. They looked upon both 
sides of the partisan question which they had to deal 
with in the turbulent city of New Orleans with the de- 
tachment of a historian in his study ; and they had the 
advantage over the historian of meeting their witnesses 
face to face. The training of both had been such as to 
enable them to know a liar from a truthful and honour- 
able man : discrimination as to the character of testi- 
mony is an element which pervades their report. 
History from her more tranquil standpoint endorses 
their verdict ; and, in thinking of the stress of the time, 
we cannot fail to give high credit to these men for stat- 
ing in unequivocal terms what virtually amounted to 
a condemnation of their President's and their party's 

Foster, Phelps, and Potter were still in New Orleans, 
when on January 4, 1875 occurred a sequel to the ma- 
nipulation of the returns which again attracted the atten- 
tion of the country to Louisiana. They saw much, and 
this enforced by testimony taken afterwards enabled 
them to present a contemporary account of the highest 

1 1 have drawn this account from the articles in the Cyclopaedias of Apple- 
ton and J. T. White & Co. and the obituary notice in The Nation, June 21, 
1894. The Nation of Jan. 21, 1876, said that Foster, Phelps and Potter were 
"three as honest, fair-minded and judicious men as could have been selected 
from the whole House of Representatives." 


value. At noon the clerk of the last House called the 
roll of the present assembly ; 52 Republicans and 50 
Conservatives answered to their names. [A full House 
was 111.] Instantly thereafter a number of members 
rose but Billieu, a Conservative, held the floor and nomi- 
nated Wiltz another Conservative as temporary chair- 
man. Paying no attention to a point of order raised 
by the clerk he put the motion which was responded to 
by loud ayes and equally loud noes, but he declared it 
carried. Wiltz sprang to the platform, seized the gavel 
from the clerk, was sworn in by a justice, called the 
House to order and administered the oath to the mem- 
bers in a body. A clerk, sergeant-at-arms and a number 
of assistant sergeants-at-arms were appointed ; these 
last appeared at once with badges bearing the insignia 
of their office. On a motion, which was carried amid 
much disorder, the five conservative members from the 
parishes left in dispute by the returning-board were 
seated. Wiltz was elected speaker and, after taking 
the oath, proceeded to swear in the members, but, as 
most of the Republicans had withdrawn from the House, 
only 60 members in all remained. Fifty were the Con- 
servatives who had originally answered to their names, 
five more were those who had just been admitted and 
five were Republicans. These five Republicans under- 
took to withdraw from the hall. Wiltz ordered the 
Sergeant-at-arms to prevent their egress in order to avoid 
breaking his quorum of fifty-six. Meanwhile the disturb- 
ance prevailing in the lobby outside the bar of the 
House was increasing. On motion, the commander of 
the Federal troops was asked to preserve the peace. 
General de Trobriand appeared, accompanied by only 
one aid ; a word from him to the crowd in the lobby 
restored order. The General retired; the business of 
the House went on. At about three o'clock General de 
Trobriand, in uniform, his sword at his side, and two of 
his staff in attendance, reappeared, furnished with an 


order from Governor Kellogg to clear the hall of all 
persons not returned as legal members by the re turning- 
board. He gave the speaker to understand that he pro- 
posed to eject the five members. Speaker Wiltz protested, 
but the General was inexorable. He called his soldiers 
into the hall and ordered the five expelled. With fixed 
bayonets the soldiers approached successively each mem- 
ber, sitting in his seat, and forced him to leave the 
House. Wiltz and the Conservatives thereupon with- 
drew. The Republicans remained and, after effecting a 
crude organization, proceeded to business. 1 

Sheridan was in New Orleans on this day having been 
requested by the President eleven days earlier to go 
thither in order to ascertain the true condition of affairs ; 
he then received authority for assuming the military 
command, which he did on the night of January 4. 
Next day he sent word to the President to have no un- 
easiness as he could easily preserve the peace ; in his 
telegram he called certain people of New Orleans ban- 
ditti " and in a second despatch emphasized and elabo- 
rated this characterization, giving at the same time his 
remedy for the existing difficulty. " I think," he tele- 
graphed, " that the terrorism now existing in Louisiana, 
Mississippi and Arkansas could be entirely removed and 
confidence and fair dealing established by the arrest and 
trial of the ringleaders of the armed White Leagues. 2 If 

1 This account is drawn from the report of Foster, Phelps and Potter 
(p. 16) with a few details from the memorial of the conservative members 
(Mis. Doc. No. 45, 43d Cong. 2d Sess.). Cf. Wiltz to the President Jan. 4., 
Ex. Doc., No. 13, ibid., p. 21 ; also Hahn's statement, Mis. Doc., No. 46, ibid. 
The number of ejected members is variously given but Foster's "five " fits 
into the situation. 

2 The White League in the State at large was simply another name for 
"the conservative party " or "the white man's party." In New Orleans it 
was an armed organization 2500 to 2800 strong composed of " reputable citi- 
zens and property holders" whose purpose was declared " to be simply pro- 
tective." The affair of Sept. 14, 1874 was under their direction. Report 
of Foster, Phelps and Potter, p. 8. 

184 SHERIDAN [1875 

Congress would pass a bill declaring them banditti they 
could be tried by a military commission. The ring- 
leaders of this banditti, who murdered men here on the 
14th of last September and also more recently at Vicks- 
burg, Mississippi should, in justice to law and order 
and the peace and prosperity of this southern part of the 
country be punished. It is possible that if the President 
would issue a proclamation declaring them banditti, no 
further action need be taken, except that which would 
devolve upon me." 1 

Grant had ever a lively sense of Sheridan's efficient 
support during his last military campaigns. Not long 
after the receipt of these " banditti " despatches, he 
said, " I believe Sheridan has no superior as a general, 
either living or dead, and perhaps not an equal. . . . 
He has judgment, prudence, foresight and power to 
deal with the dispositions needed in a great war." 2 
Now the President at first thought that he was showing 
the same qualities in dealing with a delicate situation 
in civil affairs. This word was sent by the Secretary 
of War to him at New Orleans. " The President and 
all of us have full confidence and thoroughly approve 
your course ; " and " Be assured that the President and 
Cabinet confide in your wisdom and rest in the belief 
that all acts of yours have been and will be judicious." 8 

When the news of the ejection of members of the 
Louisiana legislature by Trobriand and his file of 
soldiers was received and Sheridan's despatches were 

1 Ex. Doc., No. 13, 43d Cong. 2d Sess., p. 23. 

2 Feb. 15, 1875. To Hoar and Frye, Hoar's Autobiography, vol. i. 
p. 2(&. 

8 Jan. 6, Ex. Doc., No. 13, 43d Cong. 2d Sess., p. 25. " This despatch was 
hastily written by the Secretary of War, who, without intending it, did great 
injustice to a part of the Cabinet. We have the authority of General Bel- 
knap (Secretary of War) himself for saying that Mr. Fish and Mr. Bristow 
(Secretary of the Treasury) indignantly protested against General Sheridan's 
atrocious proposition." J. S. Black (1877), Essays and Speeches, p. 319, 


published, a cry of indignation arose at the North. The 
Democrats in the Senate at once gave vent to their 
wrath, and while certain other manifestations had some- 
what of a partisan tinge, in general the indignation of 
Democrats was shared by Republicans. Indeed, as 
tested by the autumn elections of 1874, the opposition 
to the party in power was in the majority. Schurz was 
the able representative of a great number who had 
broken with their old party in displeasure without em- 
bracing many of the tenets of the Democratic. Thus he 
spoke in the Senate : " Sir, no American citizen can 
have read without profound regret and equally profound 
apprehension the recent despatch of General Sheridan 
to the Secretary of War, in which he suggests that a 
numerous class of citizens should by the wholesale be 
outlawed as banditti by a mere proclamation of the 
President, to be turned over to him as a military chief, 
to meet at his hands swift justice by the verdict of a 
military commission. Nobody respects General Sheridan 
more than I do for the brilliancy of his deeds on the 
field of battle ; the nation has delighted to honor his 
name. But the same nation would sincerely deplore to 
see the hero of the ride of Winchester and of the charge 
at the Five Forks stain that name by an attempt to 
ride over the laws and the Constitution of the country 
and to charge upon the liberties of his fellow-citizens. 
The policy he has proposed is so appalling, that every 
American citizen who loves his liberty stands aghast at 
the mere possibility of such a suggestion being addressed 
to the President of the United States by a high official 
of the Government. It is another illustration how great 
a man may be as a soldier, and how conspicuously 
unable to understand what civil law and what a con- 
stitution mean ; how glorious in fighting for you, and 
how little fit to govern you ! And yet General Sheri- 
dan is not only kept in Louisiana as the instrument of 
the Executive will, but after all that has happened, 


encouraged by the emphatic approval of the executive 
branch of this government. 

"I repeat, sir, all these things have alarmed me, and it 
seems not me alone. In all parts of the country the 
press is giving voice to the same feeling, and what I 
learn by private information convinces me that the 
press is by no means exaggerating the alarm of the 
people. On all sides you can hear the question asked, 
6 If this can be done in Louisiana, and if such things be 
sustained by Congress, how long will it be before it can 
be done in Massachusetts and Ohio ? How long before 
the constitutional rights of all the States and the self- 
government of all the people may be trampled under 
foot ? How long before a general of the Army may sit 
in the chair you occupy, sir, to decide contested election 
cases for the purpose of manufacturing a majority in 
the Senate ? How long before a soldier may stalk into 
the National House of Representatives, and pointing 
to the speaker's mace, say, take away that bauble.' " l 

New York held a large indignation meeting in Cooper 
Institute, Boston another in Faneuil Hall. William 
Cullen Bryant, an old Republican, had regarded with 
increasing disfavour the policy of his party towards the 
South. The events in New Orleans astounded him and, 
although he was past eighty, he took a prominent part 
in getting up the meeting in Cooper Institute ; and he 
spoke there " with the vehemence and fire of a man of 
thirty " denouncing the action of the soldiers and the 
President. Evarts also expressed the sentiment of many 
Republicans, but it was felt that the crowd was neither 
Democratic nor Republican ; it was American. 2 " No 
calm and observing man can to-day doubt," wrote 
Charles Francis Adams, Jr., " that a vast majority of 

1 Jan. 11, Cong. Record, p. 367. 

2 The New York meeting was Jan. 11, the Boston Jan. 15; New York 
Tribune, Jan. 12 ; Boston Advertiser, Jan. 16 ; The Nation, Jan. 14 ; Life of 
Bryant, Godwin, vol. ii. p. 357. 




the people are utterly opposed, on the Louisiana issue, 
to the existing government. The adverse majorities of 
last autumn have quadrupled since the year 1875 began." l 
The legislatures of Ohio, Missouri and Georgia repre- 
hended the outrage against civil liberty perpetrated by the 
Federal troops in Louisiana. 2 Although these legislatures 
were Democratic, the formal resolutions and their phrase- 
ology are evidence of the deep feeling. On the other 
hand the carpet-bag-negro legislature of Mississippi ap- 
proved the policy recommended by General Sheridan. 8 

In response to the Senate's request for information, 
the President sent to it a considerable amount of official 
correspondence and also a special message [January 13] 
in which he defended his recognition and protection of 
the Kellogg government. While he did not justify fully 
Trobriand's expulsion of the five members, he in no way 
disavowed it ; he urged that the action of the soldiers 
was directed against fraud, disorder, violence and an- 
archy and the right or wrong of it " is perhaps a debat- 
able question." He made an apology for Sheridan who 
" never proposed to do an illegal act." He seemed to 
think it a pity that the General's policy could not be 
adopted as it " would if legal soon put an end to the 
troubles and disorders " in Louisiana. 4 

The report of Foster, Phelps and Potter was given to 
the public on January 15 and produced a profound im- 
pression. It was almost, if not quite unprecedented, 
that men of both parties on a Congressional committee 
should entirely agree when they investigated a partisan 
question ; that instead of a majority and a minority 
report there was one only, and that one a production of 
striking discernment and candour. The scope of the 
report has already been indicated ; it was presented 

1 The Nation, Jan. 21, 1875, p. 39. 

2 Jan. 14, 19, Georgia's undated, Docs. 47, 62, 63, 43d Cong, 2d Seas. 
Jan. 12, ibid., No. 60. 

4 Richardson, vol. vii. p. 312. 


to a Northern public which had made up its mind that 
the negro-carpet-bag governments at the South were 
corrupt and oppressive and peace could only be secured 
by the establishment of home rule such as existed in 
Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia. Here, then, was 
new strength to the opposition. " The conviction has 
been general among the whites since 1872," read the 
report, " that the Kellogg government was an usur- 
pation. . . . With this conviction is a general want 
of confidence in the integrity of the existing State and 
local officials ; a want of confidence equally in their 
purposes and in their personnel which is accompanied 
by the paralyzation of business and destruction of values. 
. . . As the people saw taxation increase and prosperity 
diminish as they grew poor while officials grew rich 
they became naturally sore. That they love their 
rulers cannot be pretended." * 

The report was damaging to the Republican party and 
stiff partisans thought that something ought to be done 
to counteract its effect. George F. Hoar, the chairman 
of the committee, 2 William A. Wheeler and William P. 
Frye, good Republicans, proceeded to New Orleans to 
make another investigation. 3 They remained there 
eighteen days ; seeing many people and taking a large 
amount of testimony, they came to an appreciation of 
the sentiment of New Orleans and Louisiana. Indigna- 
tion at the expulsion of the five members had culminated 
in a cry of rage when Sheridan called the best people of 
their city " banditti." The General was execrated. 
He stopped at the St. Charles Hotel and, when he 
entered the breakfast room each morning, he was greeted 
with loud hisses and groans. Men at table marked 

1 pp. 6, 7. 

2 It was officially " a select committee of seven upon that portion of the 
President's message relating to the condition of the South." Hoar, Wheeler, 
Frye, Foster, Phelps, Potter and Marshall were the members. 

Samuel Marshall, Democrat, accompanied them. 




abusive articles in the morning journals and had the 
waiters hand them to Sheridan who bowed and smiled 
to the sender as if he were receiving a pleasant compli- 
ment. 1 Threats of assassination were in the air but they 
caused him no concern. 2 One night, however, he was 
irritated at what he deemed a palpable hit from a North- 
ern friend. Lawrence Barrett, playing Richelieu at the 
New Varieties theatre, invited Sheridan to be present as 
his guest and reserved a box for him. The actor had a 
host of friends in New Orleans and he felt for them in 
their trouble. When he came to the words of Richelieu 
in the second act, " Take away the sword ; States can 
be saved without it," he spoke them with unwonted 
force and fervour. Cheer upon cheer resounded. The 
house rose to its feet in an uproar of enthusiasm. At 
the end of the act, Sheridan rushed behind the scenes and 
with a round oath demanded of Barrett why he put that 
in the play ? 8 

Sheridan knew no more of law than he did of litera- 
ture. He called on Hoar the night before he left New 
Orleans and referring to the Force bill then pending 
said, "What you want to do, Mr. Hoar, when you get 
back to Washington is to suspend the what-do-you-call- 
it," meaning of course the writ of habeas corpus.* 

Hoar presented to the house February 23, 1875 the report 
written by himself and signed also by Wheeler and Frye. 
Much of it was devoted to the " outrages " which had 
come to be the sole remaining avowed Republican argu- 
ment for the continuance of Federal control over the 
Southern States. He and his colleagues showed a will- 
ingness to believe, when they accepted as substantially 
true the figures of Sheridan, who in his inquiry had 

1 Hoar's Autobiography, vol. i. p. 208. 

1 No attempt was made to do him violence. Ibid. ; Ex. Doc., No. 13, 
p. 26. 8 Incident related to me by Lawrence Barrett. 

4 Hoar's Autobiography, vol. i. p. 208. 

190 HOAR'S REPORT [1872 

wrought himself up to the point of believing on slight 
evidence anything bad of the Southern people. The 
General's " careful statistics " showed that in Louisiana 
from 1866 to February 8, 1875 there had been killed 2141, 
and wounded 2115, on account of their political opinions. 1 
Nordhoff, who had seen Sheridan's figures and the com- 
mittee's report, and in addition had made systematic 
inquiries of his own, who held no brief for party or sec- 
tion, but was painstaking and impartial in his effort to 
get at the truth wrote, " I am satisfied that since the 
year 1870, except in the Coushatta and Colfax affairs, 
most of the murders in Louisiana have been non-political 
in their origin and a great proportion of them have been 
of negroes by negroes, mainly on account of jealousy in 
their relations with their women." 2 

Hoar was -too honest to suppress facts that made against 
his party and so he furnished, though unintentionally, a 
fresh indictment of the Congressional policy of recon- 
struction and Republican rule in Louisiana. In the 
State "78,524 out of 87,121" negro voters could not 
read and write, he said. " These masses of illiterate 
voters must of necessity to a very large extent be in- 
struments in the hands of others, who can influence their 
passions or excite their fears." How well he told the 
consequence. " There has been great maladministra- 
tion," he said ; " public funds have been wasted, public 
credit impaired and taxation is heavy. . . . There has 
been much dishonesty, much corruption in State and 
local administration in Louisiana." 3 

Hoar, Wheeler and Frye believed that intimidation 
prevented " a full, free and fair election " in 1874 ; * but 

1 Report, p. 14 ; Sheridan's despatch of Jan. 10 gave " nearly 3500." By 
Feb. 8 this had grown to 4256. 

2 The Cotton States in 1875, p. 48. 8 Report, pp. 8, 23, 28. 

4 Report, p. 19. Foster, Phelps, Potter and Marshall who submitted a 
majority report simultaneously with Hoar's, dissented emphatically from this 
statement, p. 1 et seq. 


the action of the returning-board was wrong ; the method 
adopted by the Conservatives " to set right this wrong 
was totally objectionable " ; they expressed no judg- 
ment " of the lawfulness of the act " of General de 
Trobriand but believed that " his interference alone pre> 
vented a scene of bloodshed." l 

On the recommendation of Hoar, Wheeler and Frye, 
to which tacit consent was given by Foster and Phelps, 
Wheeler, who possessed a rare tact for conciliation, 
arranged a compromise between the opposing parties 
and factions which was carried out. Twelve conserva- 
tive members who had been excluded by the return- 
ing-board were seated in the House, thus giving the 
Conservatives a majority. The Senate remained Repub- 
lican. The legislature by resolution agreed not to dis- 
turb the Kellogg government during the remainder of 
its term. 2 The full redemption of Louisiana (and that of 
Florida as well) is a part of the history of the presiden- 
tial campaign of 1876 and the disputed presidency which 
will later be related. 3 

1 Report, pp. 21, 22. 

2 Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1875, p. 457 ; The Nation, 1876, pp. 
197, 268, 270 ; Hoar's Autobiography, vol. i. p. 243. 

8 Besides the authorities mentioned I have used in this account Ap- 
pletons' Annual Cyclopaedias from 1869 to 1875 ; the file of The Nation for 
the same years ; Life of Bowles, Merriam, vol. ii. ; Life of Morton, Foulke, 
vol. ii. ; Phelps' s Louisiana. 

NOTE TO PAGE 81. Under date of Nov. 19, 1907, A. W. Peirce, Principal 
of the Dean Academy, Franklin, Mass., wrote to me : " Z. L. W. is without 
a doubt Zebulon L. White, who graduated from Tufts College in the class 
of 1866 and was on the Tribune from 1867 to 1879 ; being from 1869 to 1879 
the Washington correspondent to the Tribune. He was later editor of the 
Providence Journal and died in Nassau in 1888." 

NOTE TO PAGES 97, 152. John R. Lynch in the Journal of Negro His- 
tory, Oct., 1917 (353), takes exception to my statement that "it was said 
the sheritf of De Soto county could neither read nor write." (97) 

Lynch is correct in saying that the Mississippi senators at the time of 
the State election in 1875 were Alcorn and Bruce (362). Pease, who was 
opposed to Ames, was succeeded by Bruce on March 4, 1875. This fact I 
neglected to appreciate. (132) 


I SHALL now resume the story of Mississippi. The 
interference of the President, through Sheridan after the 
conflict at Vicksburg, obscured the gleam of light from 
the Democratic victory in the general congressional 
elections of 1874, drawing even from Lamar these de- 
spairing words : " I think the future of Mississippi is 
very dark. Ames has it dead. There can be no escape 
from his rule. His negro regiments are nothing. He 
will get them killed up and then Grant will take posses- 
sion for him. May God help us ! " 1 But as the months 
wore on, confidence was regained and the men repre- 
senting the intelligence and property of the State de- 
termined to carry the fall election of 1875 and get a 
legislature of their own choice. On August 3, the Demo- 
cratic convention met and listened at the outset to a 
speech from Lamar. " If any one thing is true," he 
said, " the people of Mississippi have pledged themselves 
to maintain the three amendments to the Constitution 
[XIII, XIV, XV] and have no power or desire to change 
them." He urged that the sacred rights of "the newly 
enfranchised race " be respected and in a private letter 
he told of his labouring with his fellow Democrats : 
" I have just emerged," he wrote, from a struggle to 
keep our people from a race conflict." 2 Later in the 
month the Republicans held their convention and then 
began the most exciting canvass which Mississippi had 

Feb. 15, 1875 to his wife. Mayes, p. 211. 2 Mayes, pp. 254, 258. 



ever known. At the same time an election campaign 
was going on in Ohio in which each side held to a prin- 
ciple which they deemed vital to the preservation of their 
earthly possessions. In both States were large meet- 
ings, able speeches, argument, entreaty, keenest interest 
and impassioned appeals. In Ohio peace and order pre- 
vailed as usual. In Mississippi it was by no means an 
ordinary election campaign ; it was war to the knife. 
The Republicans fought for the existence of their party, 
the Democrats for the dearest rights of liberty and 

Mississippi was in many respects a frontier commu- 
nity, and slavery had fostered the recourse to knife and 
pistol. Everybody went armed. In slave times the 
clash was between white men, but now the negroes 
carried weapons and the conflicts were those of race in 
which desperadoes and turbulent young men made small 
bones of killing a negro. At the beginning of the cam- 
paign it was estimated that there were 15,000 more negro 
than white voters: not more than 5000 negroes could be 
counted on to vote the Democratic ticket and these were 
more than offset by 9000 white Republicans. 1 It was 
apparent to the Democrats that in some way a number 
of negroes must be gained over or else prevented from 
going to the polls. The canvass was to this end and it 
was recognized by Lamar and General J. Z. George (the 
chairman of the Democratic State Executive Committee) 
that if violence were used, public opinion at the North 
would be stirred up against their cause, and the President 
would probably send troops to Mississippi, whose in- 
fluence would be potent on the Republican side. It was 
a difficult matter for these astute men to restrain their 
turbulent followers and they were not always success- 
ful, although General George showed on the whole a 
high order of ability as a campaign manager. 

1 The Cotton States, Nordhoff, p. 75. 

194 RACE RIOTS [1876 

A conflict between the whites and the blacks in 
Vicksburg on the fifth of July, in which the negroes got 
the worse of it, did not lead to serious consequences but 
the events of September came near wrecking the Demo- 
cratic plan. At Yazoo City the Democrats broke up a 
meeting at which Colonel Morgan the sheriff was speak- 
ing, fired a number of shots at him with intent to kill 
but he escaped unharmed though another white Repub- 
lican was murdered. Morgan lay in hiding a number 
of days and then fled to Jackson. The affair at Clinton, 
a little town ten miles west of the capital and the home 
of Mississippi College, was a calamity. At a barbecue 
of their own, the Republicans had consented to a joint 
debate with the Democrats. Judge Johnston, the first 
speaker and a Democrat, was heard without interrup- 
tion by an audience of 1200 negroes and 100 white men ; 
but soon after Captain Fisher, the Republican, began, a 
pistol was fired. Soon there were twenty or thirty shots 
in quick succession. A crowd rushed up the hill away 
from the speaker's stand, being scattered in every direc- 
tion by " a tremendous volley of shots." The armed 
white men gathered together and chose a captain. Abel 
Anderson, whose testimony I have followed largely, took 
a position between the whites and the blacks and, de- 
spite the excitement of the moment, uttered words show- 
ing the economic advantage of peaceful relations between 
the two races. "For God's sake," he exclaimed, "stop 
this letting of blood ; look at the cotton fields around 
ready for picking. Those hands and that cotton are the 
wealth of the country." 1 Through his influence, and that 
of the Captain and of Judge Johnston the riot was stopped 
but already three white Democrats and a number of 
negroes had been killed. The aftermath continuing 
for days was horrible. Two of the murdered white 
men were of good family and highly esteemed in the 

1 Testimony, Boutwell report, p. 290. 


community. This circumstance and the general belief 
that their bodies were mutilated caused the rage 
against the negroes to pass beyond bounds : twenty or 
thirty were killed, some being shot down in cold blood. 1 
On September 7, Governor Ames telegraphed to 
President Grant that, " Domestic violence, in its most 
aggravated form, exists in certain parts of this State " 
and he asked if troops could be sent by virtue of the 
presidential proclamation of December 21, 1874. 2 Word 
in the negative was received and he then asked for 
protection under section 4, Article IV of the Constitu- 
tion. 3 During the previous autumn, the President had 
interfered in Alabama under less provocation and with 
less reason, but the fall elections of 1874 and the check 
he had received in the defeat of his Arkansas project 
and his Force bill had warned him that a limit must be 
placed to Federal interference with the rights of the 
States. On the same day that Ames sent his second 
despatch, the Republican State Convention of New York 
with George William Curtis as its chairman assembled 
at Saratoga and declared for " a just, generous, forbear- 
ing national policy in the Southern States and a firm 
refusal to use military power except for purposes 
clearly defined in the Constitution." 4 Moreover there 
was a new Attorney-General. George H. Williams had 
been forward in his counsel to the President to employ 
the Army in the South and when discretionary powers 
were reposed in him he used them imperiously. " The 
freedom of his < legal mind ' from doubts was one of the 

1 Garner ; Testimony of Anderson, Johnston and Montgomery, Boutwell 
report. The Yazoo trouble was Sept. 1, the Clinton began Sept. 4. 

2 Ante ; Richardson, vol. vii. p. 322. 

8 " The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a re- 
publican form of government, and shall protect each of them against inva- 
sion, and on application of the legislature, or of the Executive (when the 
legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence." 

* Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1876, p. 562. 


most remarkable incidents " of any crisis in which he 
was called upon for an opinion. " Somehow it seemed 
to him that all states of facts and all emergencies called 
for the despatch of troops." 1 But Williams had given 
place to Edwards Pierrepont, a good lawyer of New 
York City, to whom Ames's request was submitted. 
The President, the Attorney-General and every member 
of the cabinet who had been consulted were opposed to 
sending troops on the showing of the governor. In a 
despatch to Pierrepont Grant showed his susceptibility 
to the influence of popular sentiment. "The whole 
public," he said, "are tired out with these annual 
autumnal outbreaks in the South and the great majority 
are ready now to condemn any interference on the part 
of the government." 2 

A number of the white Republicans of Mississippi 
who had quarrelled or differed with Ames, among whom 
were both the United States senators, used their influ- 
ence against the sending of Federal troops to Mississippi 
and none were sent. 8 Ames was disappointed at this 
but, being a man of great courage, he at once set about 
preparing for war with the means at hand. He organ- 
ized the state militia. The spirit of determination 
shown in his call, To arms ! was materialized in a 
requisition for 1000 Springfield breech-loaders. From 
the nature of the case the militia companies were com- 
posed almost entirely of negroes and their marching 
and counter-marching through the country drove the 
white people to frenzy. Even a cool-headed man like 
General George advised the Democrats to form military 
organizations that should be able to maintain a front 
against the negro militia. Many indications pointed to 

1 The Nation, Sept. 23, 1876, p. 193. 

2 Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1876, p. 616. 

8 There were 100 United States troops at Vicksburg, 120 at Jackson and 
200 at Holly Springs. Garner, p. 391, note 5. 


trouble. A hardware merchant of Vicksburg reported 
that with the exception of the first year of the war his 
trade had never been so brisk. It was said that 10,000 
Spencer rifles had been brought into the State. A fight 
took place [October 9] at Friars Point, Coahoma County 
in which six negroes and two white men were killed. 
Many bloody conflicts would undoubtedly have occurred 
between whites and blacks, had it not been for the con- 
ciliatory work of George K. Chase, who came to Missis- 
sippi as the agent of Attorney-General Pierrepont and 
brought about a " Peace Agreement " between the Gov- 
ernor and a committee of Democratic citizens with Gen- 
eral George at their head. 1 Ames agreed to disband his 
militia and the Democrats promised' to do all in their 
power to maintain peace and secure a fair election. Ames 
and the Democrats carried out to the letter their respec- 
tive parts of the agreement. There appears to be no ques- 
tion in regard to Ames ; and the Democrats are vouched 
for by Thomas F. Bayard and Joseph E. McDonald who 
wrote the minority report of the Senate Committee 
which investigated the election, and who were as honour- 
able men as ever sat in the upper house of Congress. 
" It will be difficult for any mind however prejudiced," 
they said, " to construe any portion of the telegraphic 
correspondence " between George and his party associates 
throughout the state (which had been seized and was 
now in possession of the committee,) " so as to favor 
the suspicion that lawlessness of any kind was looked to 
as an element for the success of the Democratic party in 
that canvass. From first to last there is nothing but 
what is creditable to Mr. George and his Democratic 
correspondents as honorable, peaceful and law-abiding 

1 Johnston gives a different account of this Peace conference minimizing 
the influence of Chase. Miss. Hist. Soc. Pub. vol. vi. pp. 68-75. His account 
fits into the situation as well as mine which is largely based on the contempo- 
rary evidence. 


But General George, Ethelbert Barksdale and the 
others who strove with them could not control the 
desperadoes, the turbulent spirits and the refractory 
young men, who had enlisted in the cause of redeeming 
Mississippi, and the fact remains that intimidation had 
its part in giving the Democrats their large majority. 
Violence diminished after the Peace Agreement and, so 
far as I have been able to sift the evidence, I believe 
that in the riots and race conflicts during this canvass 
the Republicans and negroes were at least equally to 
blame with the Democrats. But both before and after 
the conference of Chase with George, intimidation was 
a formidable weapon and, as election day drew near, it 
was wielded with great effect. A mild form of it 
was the threat to discharge labourers if they voted the 
Republican ticket, a method which the Southerners 
might have said they had borrowed from the North. 
The real Mississippi plan " however was to play upon 
the easy credulity of the negroes and inspire them with 
terror so that they would vote the Democratic ticket or 
stay away from the polls. Cannon were dragged through 
the country and fired on the public roads in proximity 
to Republican meetings. 1 At some of these gatherings 
the Democrats insisted upon a division of time between 
opposing speakers and enforced their demand by the 
presence of their rifle clubs. 2 During a barbecue in 
Jackson six days before the election, they borrowed a 
government cannon from the United States camp, 
hitched four mules to it and made it a part of their pro- 
cession which marched through the streets past the 
executive mansion. The procession indeed became a 
mob that hooted, stuck their fingers up to their noses, 
made insulting grimaces and cried out to the Governor 
to go back to " beast Butler," 8 to Massachusetts where 

1 Garner, p. 374, note 2. 8 Ames was a son-in-law of Butler. 

2 The Negro in Politics, Bancroft, p. 62. 


he belonged. Some drew their pistols and fired at the 
mansion ; one ball passed over the head of Chase who 
was looking at the performance from a window. This 
was in broad daylight ; in the evening the mob returned 
and fired the cannon in the rear of the Governor's man- 
sion as well as pistol-shots making a great disturbance." 
Then they wrecked the office of the Pilot newspaper, the 
radical and official State organ. 1 

According to the law, men might vote in their respec- 
tive precincts or at the county seat and under the ad- 
vice of their leaders it was customary for the negroes to 
go in mass to the chief town. In Lowndes County, the 
night before the election, squads of white men guarded 
the fordways across the Tombigbee River leading from 
the black belt to Columbus and, as the black voters ap- 
peared, they were turned back from their purpose. 2 The 
negroes' habit of gathering at the polls before they were 
opened suggested another device. A few horsemen with 
ropes tied to the pommels of their saddles rode up to a 
voting place, where a crowd of black voters were stand- 
ing about awaiting the hour when they might deposit 
their ballots, and asked the judges how soon the polls 
would be opened. " Not for about fifteen minutes " was 
the reply. " Well," said the horsemen as they started 
off, " then the hanging will not begin for about fifteen 
minutes." " Not a word was spoken to the blacks, but 
before the fifteen minutes were up not a negro could be 
seen." 8 In the counties, where the contest raged the 
fiercest, white men generally gave the negroes to under- 
stand that they were determined to carry the election, 
peaceably if they could, forcibly if they must. 

At some time within a month before election day 
[between October 5 and November 2] Chase reported to 

1 Chase's testimony, Boutwell report, p. 1805. Cf. Barksdale's, p. 475. 

2 Garner, p. 394, Cf. vote 1873 and 1875. Boutwell report, p. 38. 
8 Bancroft, p. 63, note. 


the Attorney-General that " there was no chance for a 
fair election without the aid of United States troops." 
The soldiers (presumably those in the State) were 
ordered to interfere if it were necessary to prevent 
actual bloodshed. 1 No additional troops were sent to 
the State; those already there made no interference. 
The Democratic leaders were eager to avert any such 
contingency ; indeed their assurances that there would 
be a fair election and their efforts to secure it had to 
some extent been prompted by a desire to have the 
whole matter left to the control of the State authorities. 
One reason of their repugnance to the Federal soldiers 
is apparent. The presence of the blue-coats put heart 
into the negroes, rendering futile the arguments and 
entreaties of Democratic citizens and neutralizing the 
threats of those engaged in the work of intimidation. 
The poor, credulous, much-abused blacks were swayed 
by fanciful reasons. Although the United States can- 
non was loaned indiscriminately to the two parties for 
the purpose of a salute, the fact that the Democrats had 
obtained it for the Jackson barbecue, to which refer- 
ence has been made, produced a profound impression. 
A number of negroes said to George K. Chase, " The 
government has gone against us ; they [the Democrats] 
have got the government cannon and the government 
flag and everything, and no use now to vote." 2 

There was however another reason, and an excellent 
one, for the endeavours of the Mississippi Democrats to 
prevent the use of Federal troops during the election 
canvass : this I prefer to present in the words of North- 
ern Republicans. Charles Nordhoff, a German, who 
had imbibed his anti-slavery opinions as a youthful 
immigrant, who had never voted any other national 
ticket than the Republican and who was a keen observer, 

1 Chase's testimony, Boutwell report, p. 1804. 

2 Testimony, Boutwell report, p. 1814. 


an honest and truthful man, visited in 1875, as a cor- 
respondent of the New York Herald, six of the Southern 
States, 1 and, explaining that the pamphlet he published 
on his return was a report on political and industrial 
conditions, he addressed it to President Grant. " The 
Enforcement Acts," he wrote, "have been used in the 
last year or two, in all the Southern States I have 
seen, almost entirely for political purposes ; and they 
are very dangerous and effective tools for this purpose. 
But to right personal wrongs they are slow, ineffective 
and almost useless. There was I believe a time four or 
five years ago, when the Enforcement Acts were valuable 
by enabling energetic Federal officers to promptly sup- 
press Ku-Klux organizations. But at present these laws 
are mere political and partisan instruments." 2 Until this 
autumn, in the States which had carpet-bag governors, 
said The Nation and the words have the ring of Godkin, 
"there was going on, preparatory to the election, a 
system of wholesale arrests of white citizens by parties of 
cavalry on the charges of < intimidating ' negroes which 
from their very nature were incapable of disproof. . . . 
There was no doubt at the time in our minds that all this 
was part of an electioneering scheme on a great scale, for 
which the Force Acts and the Attorney-General's office 
were to supply, and did supply, the machinery." 8 

The election took place on November 2. The Demo- 
crats carried the State by nearly 31,000 ; gained a 
majority in the legislature of 93 ; elected their officials 
in nearly all of the counties ; and chose four out of the 
six members of Congress. 4 Intimidation was practically 

1 Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, Georgia, 

2 The Cotton States in 1876, p. 80. Lamar wrote (probably in 1871), 
" We are grievously persecuted under the Ku-Klux law." Mayes, p. 166. 

8 Sept. 23, 1875, p. 193. This referred to the time when Williams was 

* John R. Lynch, coloured, was one of the Republicans elected ; the other 
was an independent or auti-Amea Republican, supported by the Democrats. 


confined to ten counties out of seventy-three. 1 Yazoo 
makes the worst showing : the Republican vote in 1873 
was 2427, in 1875, 7 : the Democratic increased from 411 
to 4044. Democratic leaders of this county in conver- 
sation with Frederic Bancroft, who has made a large 
personal investigation of affairs at the South, made no 
attempt to deny that intimidation and force were 
employed. 2 No other county shows so glaring a result, 
although in some counties the Republican vote was 
diminished and in others the ratable increase was not 
so great as the Democratic. In the whole State the 
diminution of the Republican total was 3462, the in- 
crease of the Democratic over fifty thousand. Governor 
Ames and Senator Boutwell declared that the State had 
been carried by fraud and violence and Boutwell at- 
tempted to show, through an analysis of the vote by 
counties, that if there had been a free election, the legis- 
lature would have been Republican. 3 President Grant 
wrote on July 26, 1876, " Mississippi is governed to-day 
by officials chosen through fraud and violence such as 
would scarcely be accredited to savages, much less to a 
civilized and Christian people." Ames's is a natural 
statement of one who believed that he had been defeated 
unfairly while Grant's and BoutwelPs are the ebullitions 
of partisans in a heated presidential campaign. 4 

Fraud was charged on both sides : from the character 
of the Republican officials, who were largely in control, 
it may be inferred that this was a game they could play 
at better than their Democratic opponents. That in- 
timidation was a factor I think I have shown clearly 
enough ; but a careful analysis of the vote and the evi- 
dence leads me to believe that, had the enlightened policy 

1 Democratic report, p. Ixxv. 2 The Negro, p. 64, note. 

8 Garner, p. 403 ; Report, p. xxviii. 

* The Boutwell report was presented to the Senate Aug. 7, 1876 and may 
be regarded as a campaign document. 


of Lamar and George been strictly adhered to, the 
Democrats would have carried the State and secured the 
legislature. Intimidation increased their majority and 
the number of their members of the legislature ; it 
probably gained them the control of some counties. But 
without it the practical result would have been the 
same, as is evident from certain considerations. It was 
the first year that the Democrats of Mississippi had 
been thoroughly organized and united since 1868. The 
campaign was conducted with a vigour and enthusiasm 
that brought to the polls practically every white voter ; 
and the political current in the whole country had since 
1874 been setting against the Republicans. The split in 
the Republican party of Mississippi with its factional 
bitterness was another factor. Nor can doubt exist that 
many negroes voted with the Democrats from choice. 
Ex-Senator Revels and other prominent coloured men 
were leaders of this movement. After the election 
Revels wrote to President Grant that "masses of my 
people have been, as it were, enslaved in mind by un- 
principled adventurers " who told them they must vote 
for candidates " notoriously corrupt and dishonest " as 
" the man who scratched a ticket was not a Republican. 
... To defeat this policy, at the late election, men, 
irrespective of race, color or party affiliation united and 
voted together against men known to be incompetent 
and dishonest." l Of 25 coloured members of the legis- 
lature, one was a Democrat and three were independent 
or anti-Ames Republicans. 

In the presidential contest of 1876 and afterwards, when 
it was sought to fire the Northern heart to resist Demo- 
cratic encroachments, a favourite watchword of the 
Republicans was that the Mississippi plan of campaign 
(and by implication that employed in other Southern 
States) was the plan of the shot-gun and Winchester 

1 Nov. 6, Garner, p. 


rifle. But Mississippi people speak of the " Revolution 
of 1875 " and they are nearer right. Whilst regretting 
some of the means employed, all lovers of good govern- 
ment must rejoice at the redemption of Mississippi. 

Ames held over but he was impeached by the new 
legislature in March 1876. There was arranged, how- 
ever, a compromise in which Butler, his father-in-law, 
and Roger A. Pryor, a native Virginian, now a New 
York City lawyer and one of Ames's attorneys, bore a 
part. The legislature dismissed the charges of impeach- 
ment ; Ames resigned. "He bore himself," wrote Pryor, 
" as a brave and honorable gentleman." 1 

Home rule was now complete. A Democratic House 
of Representatives admitted in December 1875 the 
Congressmen who had been chosen ; a Republican Senate 
in March 1877 admitted Lamar, the senator elected by 
the legislature which had been returned in the autumn 
of 1875. No attempt was made by Federal authority to 
overturn the government ushered in by the Revolution. 2 
In truth any serious move in that direction was im- 
possible. From December 1875 to December 1889 the 
Republicans at no ene time controlled together the 
presidency, the Senate and the House, and one reason 
of their partial exclusion from power was a conviction 
on the part of a great number of people that their Re- 
construction policy had been a failure. 

Since 1876 Mississippi has increased in population and 
in wealth ; her bonded indebtedness and taxation are 

1 Garner, p. 407. My authorities for this account are Garner ; the Bout- 
well and the minority report of the Senate Committee on the Mississippi 
election of 1875 ; various testimony printed with the same ; Nordhoff, The 
Cotton States in 1875 ; Bancroft, The Negro in Politics ; Appletons' Annual 
Cyclopsedia, 1875 ; The Nation, 1875 ; Life of Lainar, Mayes ; Johnston 
in Miss. Hist. Soc. Pub. vol. vi. ; Life of Bowles, Merriam, vol. ii. ; Life 
of Morton, Foulke, vol. ii. ; Barksdale in The Solid South ; Yazoo, A. T. 

2 Mississippi voted for Tilden in 1876 and ever afterwards for the 
Democratic candidates for the presidency. 


low. She has done much for education and in other 
ways has gone forward in the path of civilization. 
A contrast of 18681875 with the years succeeding will 
show how unpractical and unjust was the endeavour to 
found a State on universal negro suffrage in a community 
where the blacks exceeded the whites. It is noteworthy 
that the remembrance of the misery of carpet-bag- 
negro rule has tended to obliterate the memory of the 
war's distress. " Those pitiless years of reconstruc- 
tion ! " said Bishop Galloway in 1903. " Worse than 
the calamities of war were the desolating furies of 
peace.' No proud people ever suffered such indignities 
or endured such humiliation and degradation." l 

Universal negro suffrage had a fair trial in Mississippi. 
Two coloured men of ability, Revels and Lynch, rose to 
the top as leaders. The three Republican governors 
were honest and capable. Ames's career was indeed a 
tragedy. His courage and devotion to the coloured 
people would have won him distinction had not the 
plan he set himself to work out been inherently bad. 
His government could not go on without concessions 
and rewards to the ignorant constituency whose brutish 
instincts prevented their developing political capacity 
and honesty. But the fault was neither his nor the 
negroes. The wrong had been committed by Congress, 
as was clearly appreciated by Powers, the second 
Republican governor of Mississippi, who had also been 
sheriff. After Republican rule was over, he wrote : 
" Had the plan of reconstruction been based on sound 
principles of statesmanship, its friends would have stood 
by it, and the long train of evil and suffering that 
resulted from it would have been avoided. Without 
justifying any of the crimes that were committed to 
overthrow reconstruction, it is eminently proper that 
the historian who writes for future generations should 

1 Official Register of Mississippi, 1904, p. 618. 


point out the crime concealed in the so-called congres- 
sional plan itself." l 

Even worse than that of Louisiana and Mississippi 
was the suffering of South Carolina. Worse indeed than 
the desolation of the war was that of the negro-carpet- 
bag rule from 1868 to 1874. And universal negro suf- 
frage had a fair trial. The number of coloured men of 
the age of twenty-one and upward was 85,475 as 
against 62,547 white. 2 With rare exceptions the 
negroes could vote freely and fearlessly and it is un- 
doubted that, at every election until 1876, the coloured 
men who went to the polls far outnumbered the whites. 
The legislature elected in 1868 contained 90 black to 56 
white members ; 8 that of 1870 about 91 : 61 ; 4 and the 
House [a thorough search having failed to discover the 
figures of the Senate] of 1872 had 94 black and 30 white 
representatives. 5 All the coloured men were Republicans. 
There were besides a number of white Republicans who 
voted with the negroes, so that the Republican ma- 
jority was always large, and in 1872 overwhelming [126 
Republicans : 31 Democrats]. 6 The governor's office was 
left to the white men. An Ohio carpet-bagger served 
from 1868 to 1872, a native white South Carolinian, who 
acted with the majority, for the succeeding term of two 
years ; both were men of bad repute. As the negroes 
came to realize that they furnished practically all the 
votes of the Republican party they demanded a larger 
share of the offices and, as a result of the election of 
1872, there was a coloured Lieutenant-Governor, Treas- 
urer and other State officials, President of the Senate 

1 Garner, p. 281. 2 Census of 1870. 

8 Ku-Klux report, Testimony, S.C., pp. 1239, 1244-1248. After this 
count there remain one not specified and nine vacancies. The minority 
report, p. 529 gives 98 black to 67 white. 

* Ibid., p. 5. 

6 The Prostrate State, Pike, p. 14. 

6 Tribune Almanac ; Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1874, p. 772. 


and Speaker, Clerk and Chairman of the Ways and Means 
Committee of the House. 1 

Into such hands had the government of South Carolina 
fallen. Though an oligarchy before the war, it had been 
economical, pure, honest and dignified. Able men had 
sat in the governor's chair ; the legislature was a credit- 
able body. A prime requisite for any office in the State 
was integrity. And now for six years bribery, corrup- 
tion and dishonesty ran riot. 

It was an ingenious lot of rogues that went on rob- 
bing the State by about every known, tried, or possible 
method under a democratic form of government. Char- 
ters of incorporation had to be paid for and the ostensi- 
ble development of the State lent itself to railroad-aid 
swindles. A Democratic member testified before the 
congressional committee that the legislature was known 
to be unblushingly in the market ; 2 and Judge Carpenter, 
a Republican, held the belief in common with every in- 
telligent man of South Carolina that "no bill having 
any other purpose than a mere public law could be 
passed in the legislature without bribery." This belief 
was based upon general information and the free admis- 
sions of interested men ; of lobbyists and members of 
the legislature themselves. Indeed no secret was made 
of the fact that the legislature was for sale. 8 The Re- 
publican members of the Ku-Kltix committee admitted 
that " venality and corruption in the legislature prevailed 
largely ; " 4 but, ignoring the significant Republican ma- 
jority they seemed to think they had shifted the respon- 
sibility by saying that " all parties " were concerned in 
the wickedness. This misleading statement is merely a 
bit of partisan recrimination, as the legislature of 1868 
had 136 Republican members to 21 Democratic and that 


1 Pike, The Prostrate State, pp. 16, 45 ; Bancroft, The Negro, p. 30. 

2 Ku-Klux report, p. 87. 

8 Ibid., Testimony, S.C., p. 227. * Ibid., p. 87. 


of 1870 a Republican majority nearly as great. 1 Two 
of the Republican members of the Ku-Klux committee 
told of a band of " Forty thieves " .[" composed of mem- 
bers of both political parties and of both colors "] who 
held up every bill granting corporate privileges until 
they had received money for its passage. 2 The local 
officials were mainly incompetent and corrupt ; malfea- 
sance tainted the school system. Opportunities were 
made for spending money. For example a State census 
was taken in 1869 at great expense which was entirely 
unnecessary as the following year came the United 
States census under the direction of the accomplished 
superintendent Francis A. Walker. Newspapers were 
subsidized : this indeed was necessary for the mainte- 
nance of organs for a dominant party that had no reading 
public. And of course the ignorant and impoverished 
Republican voters were themselves cheated by the legis- 
lators whom they kept in power. Playing upon the 
laudable desire of the negroes to own land the legisla- 
ture appropriated $700,000 to buy tracts of land in dif- 
ferent parts of the State and resell it to the freedmen in 
small lots on long credit. The Land Commission over- 
drew their appropriation and failed to account for 
1224,000; they did however spend 1577,000 for land. 
In Beaufort county they bought worn-out rice fields ; in 
Charleston worthless land so remote from railway or 
water communication as to have no present value ; in 
Chesterfield a vast sand bed not worth a dollar an acre 
which was put in to the State at over six dollars ; in 
Colleton 53 lots abounding in "swamps, bays and ponds " 
and " better for fishing than farming purposes." In short 
nearly all the land was old and worn out or else new 

1 Tribune Almanac ; Ku-Klux report, Testimony, S.C., p. 81 ; Charles- 
ton Courier, Nov. 10, 1870. This does not quite agree with the previous 
statement but the difference is not essential. 

2 Ku-Klux report, p. 122. 


and swampy. Judge Carpenter doubted whether the 
whole amount saddled on the State at an exorbitant 
profit to the land-commission ring was worth $100,000, 
and he believed that not a hundred negroes were living 
on and cultivating this State-ring land. 1 

Barbaric extravagance presided over the furnishing 
of the State Capitol. Sixteen hundred dollars went for 
200 imported china spittoons. Clocks were bought at 
1480 each, chandeliers at i860 and French mirrors for 
the speaker's room at $750. 2 The private lodgings of 
negro members were furnished with Brussels and Wil- 
ton carpets, mirrors and sofas. A taste for flashy 
jewellery was gratified at the expense of the State. 8 
Fraud and extravagance went hand in hand. The 
amounts of the bills were raised before they were ap- 
proved and pay certificates issued therefor. In four 
years over 1200,000 was paid out for furniture, the ap- 
praised value of which in 1877 was $17,715. Vicious, 
as well as criminal, practices were countenanced, were 
even paid for by the State. A bar was set up in a 
room of the State House and kept open from eight 
o'clock in the morning to the small hours of the next 
morning. It held liberal supplies of whiskey and cigars ; 
also champagne, port and brandy at a cost for each of 
$40 a dozen. " Many of the members would be at the 
room before breakfast hunting a drink or eye opener " 
and for eighteen hours the carouse went on. State and 
national questions were discussed over too frequent 
glasses. The private supplies of wines and liquor for 
some of the more important members were included in 
the appropriation bills. A house of ill fame in the city 
of Columbia kept by a coloured woman was furnished 

1 Ku-Klux report, Testimony, S.C., p. 235; Pike, The Prostrate State, 
chap. xix. 

2 Ku-Klux report minority, p. 536. 

8 Ibid.; Report of the legislative committee (1877-1878) on frauds, pp. 14, 19. 

210 SCOTT AND MOSES [1872 

at the expense of the State. 1 Disbursements exceeded 
appropriations. Moreover from October 1868 to Octo- 
ber 1870 there were expenditures of $1,208,000 for which 
no vouchers could be found in the Treasury. 2 

The State was boldly mulcted of $1000 to reimburse 
the loser of a bet on a horse race. The bet was made 
by F. J. Moses Jr., the speaker of the House and Whip- 
per a negro member, some of whose ill-gotten gains 
had been invested in fast horses. The House adjourned 
to see the race. Moses lost. Three days afterwards 
Whipper moved that " a gratuity of $1000 be voted 
to the speaker of this house for the dignity and 
ability with which he has presided over its delibera- 
tions " ; and this motion was carried. 3 R. K. Scott 
was the Ohio carpet-bagger who was governor from 
1868 to 1872, F. J. Moses Jr. the native of South Caro- 
lina who served from 1872 to 1874. Both were corrupt 
and led their legislatures in stealing from the State. 
Associated with them in other executive offices were 
men of the same sort. An evidence of the pandering 
to the dregs of the community is the pardons granted to 
criminals. In his two terms Scott issued 579 ; Moses, 
in his one term, 457. 4 Referring to Scott's administra- 
tion Judge Carpenter said in his testimony, "Men of the 
worst character, men who had committed the worst pos- 
sible crimes were pardoned and turned loose to prey 
again upon the community." 5 The judge in sentencing 
to the penitentiary three county commissioners of Barn- 
well, who had been convicted of stealing the public 
money added, " if you are permitted to stay " and said 

1 Report of the legislative committee (1877-1878) on frauds, pp. 9, 10, 
17, 202. 

2 Ku-Klux report, minority, p. 534. 8 Ibid., p. 539. 

* Charleston News and Courier cited by Allen. Governor Chamberlain's 
administration in South Carolina, p. 287. 

6 Ku-Klux report, Testimony, S.C., p. 227. See Judge Poland's quasi- 
apology for these pardons. Pike, p. 236. 


further that he had " met parties in the streets a few 
weeks after he had sentenced them to the penitentiary." l 

Daniel H. Chamberlain, an honest man who was 
Attorney-General of the State during the four years of 
Scott's administration, wrote to W. L. Trenholm on 
May 5, 1871 : " Three years have passed and the result 
is what ? Incompetency, dishonesty, corruption in all its 
forms, have < advanced their miscreated fronts,' have put 
to flight the small i 3mnant that opposed them, and now 
rule the party which rules the State. You may imagine 
the chagrin with which I make this statement. Truth 
alone compels it. My eyes see it all my senses testify 
to the startling and sad fact. ... I am a Republican by 
habit, by conviction, by association, but my republican- 
ism is not, I trust, composed solely of equal parts of 
ignorance and rapacity." 2 

The taxable value of the property of South Carolina 
in 1860 exclusive of the slaves was 316 millions and the 
annual taxes $392,00: ); in 1871 the taxable property 
was 184 millions and the taxes 12,000,000. At the same 
time the debt kept on increasing. So confused or so 
cooked are the accounts that authorities differ as to the 
amount of the debt. But it is somewhere near the 
truth to say that the debt of less than 7 millions in 
1868 had become by the end of 1871 nearly 29 millions 
actual and contingent. 8 

Those who leviod taxes did not pay them. Few, 
if any of the office-holders and members of the legisla- 
ture, possessed property of the smallest value when they 
went into office and they were sustained by the most 
ignorant and propertyless constituency that ever bore a 
share of government in our country. In the election of 

1 The Nation, June 4, 1874, p. 355 ; also Carpenter's testimony, Ku-Klux 
report, S.C., p. 236. 

a Testimony, S.C., p. 1251. 

8 Scott, The Repudiation of State Debts, p. 84 ; Pike, chap, xviii. 


1868, when Scott was first chosen, there were according 
to the estimate of Chamberlain about 80,000 negro votes 
cast and 30,000 white men's : not more than 4000 or 
5000 white men voted the Republican ticket. 1 In 
1870, owing to an exciting contest, a large vote was 
cast, Scott receiving 85,000, which was almost the exact 
number of male negroes over twenty-one. 2 Carpenter 
thought that not more than 2000 or 3000 whites voted 
the regular Republican ticket. 3 If the count was fair, it 
follows that nearly every negro in South Carolina went 
to the polls giving Scott a majority of 33,000. Eighty- 
two thousand negroes and 3000 white men re-elected a 
governor, whom every man of common sense knew for 
a thief and chose a legislature certain to follow in the 
path of its predecessor which had outraged honesty and 
decency. But what else could have been expected of 
such a constituency ? Seventy thousand eight hundred 
and thirty of the 85,475 negro voters were illiterate. 4 
Judge Carpenter, who had been an officer in the Union 
army and moved to South Carolina in 1867, testified in 
1871 : " The colored population upon the seacoast and 
upon the rivers in point of intelligence is just as slightly 
removed from the animal creation as it is conceivable 
for a man to be. I venture to say that no gentleman 
here would be able to understand one of them upon the 
witness stand or would be able to know what he meant. 
I have had to exercise more patience and more ingenuity 
in that particular, to have more explanations and inter- 
pretations to find out what a witness meant to say, who 

1 Ku-Klux report, Testimony, S.C., p. 56 ; this is not accurate but gives 
an idea of the proportion. Scott received 69,693 votes ; the Democratic candi- 
date, 23,219, Report of Secretary of War, 1868, H. E. D., 40th Cong. 3d Sess., 
No. 1, vol. iii. part i. p. 522. 

2 Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1870, p. 682 ; U. S. Census, 1870. 
8 Ku-Klux report, Testimony, S.C., p. 247. 

4 " Cannot write " is the term of the census report, but the literature of 
(he subject goes to show that they could neither read nor write. 


had witnessed a murder, for instance, than to under- 
stand anything else in my life. They talk a very out- 
landish idiom utterly unknown to me. They are very 
ignorant and still have very strong passions, and these 
bad men lead them just as a man would drive or lead a 
flock of sheep." 1 James S. Pike of Maine, a strong 
anti-slavery man before the war and a consistent Repub- 
lican during it, visited South Carolina in 1873 and wrote, 
" A large majority of all the voting citizens of the State 
are habitually guilty of thieving and of concubinage." 2 
Given character and fitness as the proper tests for 
candidates for office, the negroes almost always voted 
wrong. In 1870 the candidates for governor were Scott 
and Judge Carpenter. Both were Republicans but Car- 
penter ran on the Reform ticket and was supported by 
the white people of intelligence and property but the 
bulk of the negroes voted for Scott who could not have 
been elected to the meanest State office in any State at 
the North. On one side the deepest corruption was 
certain, on the other the character of the candidate 
promised honesty ; but the negroes were told that if 
Carpenter were elected he would reduce them to slavery 
or failing to do that he " would not allow their wives and 
daughters to wear hoop-skirts." 3 B. F. Whittemore, the 
carpet-bag representative of the first district of South 
Carolina in the national House, was found out in an 
extensive and unblushing sale of cadetships to the 
military academy at West Point and the naval academy 
at Annapolis and would have been expelled from the 
House had he not resigned. After his resignation he 
was censured by an imposing vote. 4 Whittemore did 

1 Ku-Klux report, Testimony, S.C., p. 238. 

2 The Prostrate State, p. 70. From the context it is clear Pike meant a 
large majority of the negroes. Literally construed it might mean practically 
all the negroes which is an unjust aspersion. 

8 Ku-Klux report, Testimony, S.C., p. 238. 
4 186 : 0, not voting 35. 

214 GOVERNOR F. J. MOSES [1872 

not deny selling the appointments but offered as his 
defence that he had not used the money received from 
them for his private purposes but had spent it for the 
relief of the people of his district. This satisfied his 
negro constituents who returned him by about 8000 
majority but the House refused to allow him to take his 
seat. 1 In the autumn of that year he was elected to the 
South Carolina Senate from Darlington county by 1170 
majority and still later was chosen by the legislature as 
one of the trustees of the State Agricultural College. 2 

In 1872 the negroes elected as governor F. J. Moses 
Jr., who, it was said, had won their favour by dancing 
at their balls. 3 That as Speaker of the House he was 
a notorious rascal proved no disqualification : he was 
chosen by a majority of 33,000. 4 His opportunities for 
stealing were not so good as those of his predecessor. 
Although the " people of South Carolina were almost 
model tax-payers and had promptly met every year the 
burdens imposed upon them " 5 the treasury was gutted 
arid the credit of the State was gone. Moreover an 
amendment to the Constitution had been adopted which 
forbade any increase of the debt without the approval of 
two-thirds of the voters at a general State election. 6 
But Moses in some degree made up for the lack of those 
opportunities, which Scott possessed, by selling pardons 
to criminals by the wholesale. 7 He was not renominated 

1 Globe, Feb., June 1870 ; The Nation, June 16, 1870, p. 376 ; New York 
Tribune, June 6, 1870. The population of the district by the census of 1870 
was 105,661 black, 70,642 white. Excluding one county, where the popu- 
lation was about even, the vote at the State election of 1870 was 18,615 
black, 11,463 white. 

2 Pike, p. 41. 3 ibid., p. 87. 

* Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1872, p. 738. 
6 The Nation, May 9, 1872, p. 299. 

Passed by the legislature March 13, 1872, ratified by popular vote, Oct. 
18, 1872, reaffirmed by the next legislature Jan. 29, 1873 and declared a part 
of the Constitution. The article is printed in Appletons' Annual Cyclopedia, 
1872, p. 733. 7 Allen, p, 252. 


in 1874 owing to the opposition of some shrewd white 
leaders in South Carolina and of President Grant, for he 
had become known as " the robber Moses " and " the 
great South Carolina thief " ; but still devoted to him 
were the convicts, the office-holders and the negroes. 1 

The stream cannot rise higher than its source. The 
level of the constituency was reached by their repre- 
sentatives, and that was all : here were the floods of 
ignorance and dishonesty wonderfully mingled. The 
Nation asked of the Charleston Daily Republican how 
many members of the South Carolina legislature could 
read a page of Pilgrim's Progress. The Republican 
replied that " all but three members signed their names 
to the pay-rolls the value of which, as an indication 
of the condition of their education, anybody who has 
ever seen the laborers' signatures to the pay-roll of any 
large public work will appreciate. As to their ability 
to read a page of the Pilgrim's Progress about the 
easiest reading extant the Republican says it cannot 
tell, never having heard any of . them read from that 
particular book ' ; that they did not graduate at Harvard 
or Yale ; but they could read a Pilgrim's Progress of 
their own quite similar to Bunyan's and eloquent ; the 
story of a journey from the City of Destruction, fenced 
with slavery, to the celestial land of liberty, etc.' " 2 
Another of these extraordinary apologies for ignorance 
when covered by a black skin is seen in the sincere ex- 
pression of General Howard who passed through Colum- 
bia in August 1868. "The legislature is a remarkable 
one," he said. "There were more colored men in it 
than in that of North Carolina. There seemed more 
excitability here, and more people hanging about the 
building occupied as a State House who were without 
employment. There was here a little I thought of the 

1 The Nation, Aug. 6, 27, 1874, pp. 81, 129, Sept. 17, p. 178. 

2 Ibid., June 16, 1870, p. 378. 


appearance of a rider not yet used to the saddle. Yet 
I perceived that these men were in earnest. They were 
educating themselves to legislation by legislation. Every 
pulse of the heart of the majority beats for the flag, 
for the Union. And who would substitute for such a 
legislature even extraordinary ability and learning 
coupled with disloyal sentiments and intense conviction 
of the righteousness of State supremacy ? " 1 

James S. Pike, visiting Columbia in February and 
March 1873, vividly described the personnel of the South 
Carolina House as it issued forth of an afternoon after 
adjournment. About three-quarters, he wrote, "be- 
longed to the African race. They were of every hue 
from the light octoroon to the deep black. . . . Every 
negro type and physiognomy was here to be seen from 
the genteel serving-man to the rough-hewn customer 
from the rice or cotton field. Their dress was as varied 
as their countenances. There was the second-hand 
black frock-coat of infirm gentility, glossy and thread- 
bare. There was the stove-pipe hat of many ironings 
and departed styles. There was also to be seen a total 
disregard of the proprieties of costume in the coarse and 
dirty garments of the field ; the stub jackets and slouch 
hats of soiling labor. In some instances, rough woollen 
comforters embraced the neck and hid the absence of 
linen. Heavy brogans, and short torn trousers it was 
impossible to hide. . . . These were the legislators of 
South Carolina. In conspicuous bas-relief over the 
door of exit, on the panels of the stately edifice, the 
marble visages of George McDuffie and Robert Y. Hayne 
overlooked the scene. ... < My God, look at this ! ' 
was the unbidden ejaculation of a low-country planter, 
clad in homespun, as he leaned over the rail inside the 
House gazing excitedly upon the body in session. 

1 General Howard's Address in Sept., Washington Chronicle, Oct. 1, 


"... It is the spectacle of a society suddenly turned 
bottom-side up. The wealth, the intelligence, the culture, 
the wisdom of the State " are submerged. " In the place 
of this old aristocratic society stands the rude form of 
the most ignorant democracy that mankind ever saw, 
invested with the functions of government. It is the 
dregs of the population habilitated in the robes of their 
intelligent predecessors and asserting over them the rule 
of ignorance and corruption, through the inexorable 
machinery of a majority of numbers. It is barbarism 
overwhelming civilization by physical force. It is the 
slave rioting in the halls of his master, and putting that 
master under his feet. And though it is done without 
malice and without vengeance, it is nevertheless none 
the less completely and absolutely done." 1 

Of the 124 members of the House, 23 were Con- 
servatives from the hill country where the proportion of 
negro voters was smaller than elsewhere in the State. 
" They are good-looking, substantial citizens," " men of 
weight and standing " at home. Powerless to resist the 
corrupt and ignorant legislation of their body, they 
could only sit silent and watch. " Grouped in a corner 
of the commodious and well-furnished chamber, they 
stolidly survey the noisy riot that goes on in the great 
black Left and Centre, where the business and debates 
of the House are conducted." 2 

In this body which " is at once a wonder and a shame 
to modern civilization " there were 101 Republicans, 
94 coloured, 7 white. It is "almost literally a black 
Parliament." The Speaker, the clerk, the doorkeepers, 
the little pages, the chairman of the Committee of the 
Ways and Means, the chaplain all are black. " At 
some of the desks sit colored men whose types it would 
be hard to find outside of Congo ; whose costume, vis- 
ages, attitudes and expression, only befit the forecastle 

1 Pike, pp. 10, 11, 12. 2 Ibid., p. 13. 


of a buccaneer." l All with perhaps the exception of a 
half dozen had been slaves and their ancestors had been 
slaves for generations. In the legislative hall one is 
struck with " the endless chatter." There is no end to 
the " gush and babble " of the negro. " The intellectual 
level is that of a bevy of fresh converts at a negro camp- 
meeting. It is the doggerel of debate." The negro 
member is imitative, vivacious, volatile and good-natured. 
His misuse of language is ludicrous. At an anecdote or 
a joke he bursts into a broad guffaw. His harangue is 
incoherent ; he repeats himself ; he will speak a half 
dozen times on one question, saying the same thing 
over and over again. 

But the negro legislators were " quick as lightning at 
debating points of order." No one could speak five 
minutes without a question of order or privilege being 
raised ; and "some of the blackest members" were adepts 
at this parliamentary practice. "Their struggles to 
get the floor, their bellowings and physical contortions, 
baffle description. The Speaker's hammer plays a per- 
petual tattoo all to no purpose." The Speaker orders a 
member to take his seat. He sits down " hiding himself 
from the Speaker by the soles of his boots." In an 
instant he again rises and again for a number of times. 
"The Speaker threatens, in a laugh, to call <the gem- 
man' to order. This is considered a capital joke and a 
guffaw follows. The laugh goes round and then the pea- 
nuts are cracked and munched faster than ever. . . . But 
underneath all this shocking burlesque upon legislative 
proceedings we must not forget that there is something 
very real to this uncouth and untutored multitude. . . . 
Seven [eight] years ago these men were raising corn and 
cotton under the whip of the overseer. To-day they are 
raising points of order and questions of privilege." They 
think that they can do one as well as the other and they 

Pike, p. 15. 


prefer the work of legislation to work in the field, " It is 
easier and better paid." This experience in Columbia 
" is the sunshine of their lives. It is their day of 
jubilee. It is their long-promised vision of the Lord God 
Almighty." l 

Here is an account of a debate on penitentiary appro- 
priations in the same House. " Minort (negro) : The 
appropriation is not a bit too large. Humbert (negro) : 
The institution ought to be self-sustaining. The mem- 
ber only wants a grab at the money. Hurly (negro) : 
Mr. Speaker : True Humbert (to Hurly) : You shet 
you myuf, sah ! (Roars of laughter.) Greene (negro) : 
That thief from Darlington (Humbert) Humbert : If 
I have robbed anything, I expect to be Ku-Kluxed by 
just such highway robbers as the member (Greene) from 
Beaufort. Greene : If the Governor were not such a 
coward, he would have cowhided you before this, or got 
somebody else to do it. Hurly : If the gentleman from 
Beaufort (Greene) would allow the weapon named to be 
sliced from his cuticle, I might submit to the casti- 
gation." 2 

Such were the legislators and we have seen what 
the Governors were of this once proud community. 
Beverly Nash, a full-blooded negro six feet high, good- 
looking, with pleasant manners, who, as a former slave 
of W. C. Preston, had been a hotel bootblack and was 
now the leader of the Republican party in the South 
Carolina Senate 8 said in 1870 : " The reformers complain 
of taxes being too high. I tell you that they are not high 
enough. I want them taxed until they put these lands 
back where they belong, into the hands of those who 
worked for them. You toiled for them, you labored for 
them, and were sold to pay for them, and you ought to 

1 Pike, pp. 19, 20, 21. 

2 Leigh, Ten Years on a Georgia Plantation, p. 290. See Andrew D. White's 
experience in 1873, Autobiography, vol. i. p. 176. 8 Pike, pp. 34, 41. 


have them." l In 1872 in Beaufort County 700 out of 
2300 farms were forfeited on account of non-payment 
of taxes : in the whole State 268,523 acres. In the city 
of Charleston the taxes on improved real estate equalled 
the whole revenue from it. 2 The tax-payers of Charles- 
ton County had not a single representative in the 
legislature. 8 

Crowds of defiant negroes roamed " through the 
charred and desolate streets of Charleston yelling < De 
bottom rail's on de top now and we's gwine to keep it 
dar!' " 4 What would the people of Massachusetts have 
done ? asked the Democrats on the Ku-Klux committee. 
How would such negro shouts " through the staid and 
decorous streets of Boston "' have sounded in the ears of 
her citizens ? Although the two cities had been at antip- 
odes on the question of slavery this juxtaposition was 
apt. Before the war Charleston and Boston were both 
cities of distinction in which there had been much in 
common. The well-to-do people were cultivated and 
refined ; they loved books and fine paintings. The 
Charleston man indeed read rarely the literature of New 
England in this period of its flower for it was pervaded 
more or less with direct or indirect censures of slavery, 
but he absorbed the English writers of the eighteenth 
century, knew his Shakespeare and there were those 
among them who delighted in Montaigne. The 
Brahmins of Boston and the patricians of Charleston did 
not despise the pleasures of the table and it was not in- 
frequently said that in their houses was served the best 
Madeira in the country. 

It was long before efforts could be made that held out 
any promise of successfully overturning this corrupt and 

1 Ku-Klux report, minority, p. 399. 

2 Report of Eldridge, House Committee on the Judiciary, No. 481, 
May 6, 1874; ibid., Potter and Ward, May 11. 

8 The Nation, May 28, 1874, p. 341 ; Pike, p. 49. 
* Ku-Klux report, minority, p. 640. 


incompetent rule. It had been set up by an election 
[1868] which went Republican by default. The dis- 
franchising provisions for voters of the Reconstruction 
Acts still held and the South Carolina people were so 
stunned at the social abyss yawning before them that a 
large number of those who were qualified did not go to 
the polls. Only 23,000 Conservatives voted for State 
officers and Scott was elected by a majority of 46,000. 
Two years of corruption under Scott and his legislature 
produced dissensions in the dominant party resulting in 
a Union Reform movement and the nomination for gov- 
ernor of Judge R. B. Carpenter, a Republican who con- 
tested the re-election of Scott. An exciting canvass 
ensued. Carpenter received the hearty support of the 
Conservatives but attracted few Republican votes, Scott 
being re-elected by 33,000 majority. Carpenter declared 
his belief that had the election been fair it would have 
been " a very close race " ; he had no doubt that many 
of the votes for Scott were procured through intimida- 
tion and fraud. The Governor had organized 20,000 
coloured men into state militia, furnished them with 
Winchester and Springfield rifles and just before election 
day distributed ammunition among them. Undoubt- 
edly the main object of this was the protection of negro 
Republican voters but Carpenter charged that the 
troops were employed to intimidate negroes who desired 
to vote the Reform ticket. He said it was openly pro- 
claimed during the canvass that negroes who carried out 
such a purpose would be shot ; and he also maintained 
that the dominant party " stuffed " the ballot-boxes and 
manipulated the returns. 1 

Allowance must be made for the statements of a 
defeated candidate. While, in my investigation of 
Southern affairs, I have frequently come across evidence 
to the effect that negroes made threats against fellow- 

1 Ku-Klux report, S.C., Carpenter's testimony, pp. 227, 228,229, 249. 


negroes, who announced their intention of voting with 
the Conservatives, I have paid little attention to it 
because of the patent fact that the coloured men almost 
unanimously desired to vote with the Republicans 1 
whether out of gratitude or with an eye to the spoils or 
because it seemed to them that their salvation lay in 
voting in opposition to their former masters. Never- 
theless the evidence of intimidation by negroes seems 
more credible in the case of South Carolina than of the 
other states, and this is perhaps accounted for by the 
presence there before the war of a large number of free 
negroes, w r ho were property owners and may later have 
desired to vote with their fellow tax-payers. 2 The Scott 
party had all the election machinery and could easily have 
cheated by "stuffing" the ballot-boxes and falsifying 
records ; and the large vote returned for Scott implies 
that something of the sort was done. But whatever 
intimidation and fraud there were could do no more than 
swell a majority already secure. So long as the full 
negro vote could be got out, the necessity for cheating 
did not exist as the reign of corruption and incom- 
petence was sure to continue. 

"The riots at Laurens, Union Court-House and Ches- 
ter," 8 say the Democrats of the Ku-Klux committee, "were 

1 The facts stated in connection with the Louisiana election of 1872 and the 
Mississippi election of 1875 are, I think, sporadic exceptions rather than an 
invalidation of the general rule. 

2 Ku-Klux report, S.C., Wade Hampton's testimony, p. 1230. See two 
instances of this intimidation which Hampton saw, p. 1228. Schurz said in 
the Senate Jan. 11, 1875: "I cannot forget, and it stands vividly in my 
recollection, that the only act of terrorism and intimidation I ever happened 
to witness with my own eyes was the cruel clubbing and stoning of a 
colored man in North Carolina in 1872 by men of his own race, because he 
had declared himself in favor of the Conservatives ; and if the whole story 
of the South were told it would be discovered that such a practice has by no 
means been infrequent." Cong. Record, p. 369. 

8 Race conflicts in which the negroes got the worse of it occurring respec- 
tively Oct. 20, 1870, the day after the election and in Jan. and March 1871, 
Ku-Klux report, pp. 30, 36, 40, 648 et seq. 


the direct and immediate consequence of placing arms in 
the hands of the negroes" and constituting them the mi- 
litia of South Carolina. This seems a logical conclusion. 
Of a like attempt of James II at the subjugation of the 
English by bringing over Irish troops Macaulay wrote, 
" The English felt as the white inhabitants of Charleston 
and New Orleans would feel if those towns were occupied 
by negro garrisons." 1 When Macaulay penned those 
words, he little thought that within twenty-two years' 
time his extreme imagined case would become hard mat- 
ter of fact. On election day in 1870 in the neighbourhood 
of Charleston the coloured " military companies were out, 
armed, with their rifles loaded." 2 "Nothing can well 
justify mob law," said The Nation, "but when a civil- 
ized community finds itself subjected to the rule of its 
most ignorant members, aided or managed by knavish 
adventurers, all rational men know that mob law is not 
unlikely to result." 8 

What an opportunity was here for President Grant 
had he but been moved by the spirit of his report of 
December 1865 ! 4 But he saw things awry, confound- 
ing the acts of hot-headed young men and desperadoes 
with the respectful protests of citizens of intelligence 
and property. His policy towards the prostrate State 
was stern repression. Largely because of the disturb- 
ances in South Carolina which were attributed to the 

1 Chap. ix. in vol. ii. published in 1848. 

2 Ku-Klux report, S.C., Carpenter's testimony, p. 229. " Matches are 
cheap," said in haranguing the negroes the " brazen-fronted scalawag " Joe 
Crews, a negro driver in the days of slavery. A line of burning cotton-gin 
houses, barns and dwellings was the result. Ku-Klux report passim, 
minority, pp. 545, 558 ; Pike, pp. 224, 225. 

8 March 9, 1871, p. 150. I must emphasize the fact that The Nation 
though independent inclined to the Republicans. It supported Grant for the 
presidency in 1868 and 1872 and Hayes in 1876. The Nation said June 16, 
1870, p. 378 : We advocated "the extension of the suffrage to the blacks as 
an essential feature of reconstruction. . . . We believe still . . . that it 
was the best if not the only course open to Congress." 4 Vol. v. p. 651. 

224 SCOTT AND MOSES [1872 

operations of the Ku-Klux-Klan he asked Congress for 
extraordinary powers which were given him in the Ku- 
Klux Act of April 20, 1871 : towards South Carolina 
these were employed with rigour. 1 

In 1871 Governor Scott and his legislature quarrelled. 
They charged him with misuse of the public funds and 
he intimated that they were corrupt. 2 In December 
the quarrel came to a head in the threatened impeach- 
ment of Scott and the Treasurer of the State [Niles G. 
Parker] for fraud in connection with an issue of bonds. 8 
The anxious Scott by turns threatened and cajoled the 
members. At an evening conference Speaker F. J. Moses 
Jr. who was opposed to impeachment, lest it should dis- 
rupt the party assured Scott of his support and next day 
by certain parliamentary rulings brought the House to a 
vote at a time when the Governor felt sure of his major- 
ity. Impeachment was beaten. By a free use of money 
Scott had purchased enough votes of members to save 
himself ; and he gave Moses 115,000 for his aid. 4 

In 1872 the regular Republican convention nominated 
F. J. Moses Jr. for governor ; a number of bolters from 
it put Tomlinson into the field. The Conservatives 
made no nomination and gave Tomlinson but half- 
hearted support, partly because they had lapsed into a 
" sullen and despairing indifference " and partly because 
they did not wish to associate with some Republican 

i Ante. 2 Pike, p. 244. 

8 Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1871, p. 700 ; Report of joint financial 
investigating committee, p. 267 ; House Journal, pp. 102, 166 ; Reports of 
General Assembly, 1871-1872, pp. 901-903. 

4 Testimony of F. J. Moses before Investigating Committee of Legislature, 
Oct. 19, 1877, Report on the Impeachment Swindle, p. 19 ; Appletons' Annual 
Cyclopaedia, 1871, p. 700. The vote [Dec. 22, 1871] for impeachment of Scott 
was 32 : 63, of Parker 27 : 63 ; House Journal, pp. 177, 178, 181, 184, 
185 ; HemphiU, Why the Solid South, p. 95 ; The Nation, Nov. 30, 1871, 
p. 345, Jan. 4, Feb. 1, March 14, 1872, pp. 2, 66, 163. Jan. 24, 1872 another 
motion to impeach the governor was voted down. House Journal, pp. 303, 


rascals who were among the bolters. 1 Pike during his 
visit in February and March 1873 found the South 
Carolina people " gloomy, disconsolate, hopeless." " The 
gray heads openly profess that they look for no relief. 
They see no way of escape. The recovery of influence, 
of position, of control in the State, is felt by them to be 
impossible. They accept their position with a stoicism 
that promises no reward here or hereafter. They are 
the types of a conquered race. They staked all and 
lost all. Their lives remain, their property and their 
children do not. War, emancipation and grinding taxa- 
tion have consumed them. Their struggle now is against 
complete confiscation." 2 

But unexpected relief came from another quarter. In 
1874, Daniel H. Chamberlain was elected governor by 
the regular Republicans receiving a majority of 11,500 
over the Liberal Republican candidate who was sup- 
ported by the Conservatives. A lively interest was 
taken in the election, and the largest vote since the be- 
ginning of Reconstruction was brought out. The opposi- 
tion made considerable gains in the legislature. 

Chamberlain was born in Massachusetts in 1835 ; as 
a boy he had to work on his father's farm to help in 
the support of a large family, and later he taught 
school in order get the necessary money to prepare for 
college. Thus belated in his entrance he was twenty- 
seven years old when he graduated from Yale. Thence 
he went to the Harvard Law School but did not com- 
plete the course : his strong anti-slavery sentiment im- 
bibed at fifteen took him to the war and he went out as 
lieutenant in Colonel Henry S. Russell's regiment of 
coloured volunteers. Soon after the close of hostilities, 

1 The vote fell off considerable from 1870 but Moses received 33,000 
majority and the House which Pike has so graphically described was chosen. 
The Nation, Aug. 29, Oct. 10, 1872, pp. 130, 226 ; Appletons' Annual Cyclo- 
paedia, 1872, p. 736. 2 Pikej p. 14 . 


he made an unsuccessful venture in cotton planting on 
the Sea Islands near Charleston. He was elected a 
member of the South Carolina Constitutional convention 
of 1868 and served under the new government for four 
years as Attorney-General. 1 Despite his manly utter- 
ance of 1871, 2 he had apparently been so closely associ- 
ated with the Scott regime that, although he had talked 
reform during the election canvass, he had not convinced 
the people of intelligence and property of his sincerity. 
Scott and Moses, they said, " prated of economy and 
honesty but when they met their radical associates they 
smiled as the augurs smiled." 3 

But the good government men did not then understand 
Chamberlain. " Who does not know that the presence 
of one honest man puts to flight a band of robbers ? " 
he said in the Tax-Payers' Convention of 1871 and his 
administration was an exemplification of these words. 
The tone of his inaugural address which outlined his 
policy was different from the hypocritical professions 
of his predecessors. Men who thought no good thing 
could come out of the Southern Republican party had 
their eyes opened. The conservative press of South 
Carolina uttered words of cheer and most of the North- 
ern newspapers from Maine to California spoke with 
encouragement urging him to pursue the path he had 
clearly defined. 4 

A large portion of the party which had chosen Cham- 
berlain did not like his straightforward and honest ad- 
dress. Still less did they like his action. Chamberlain 
had been in office only eleven days when the first colli- 
sion came. The legislature elected the judges and, for 
a vacancy which had occurred in the Charleston circuit, 

1 Biographical Sketch, Governor Chamberlain's Administration in S.C., 
Allen, p. 624. 

2 Ante. 

8 Charleston News and Courier cited by Allen, p. 74. 
* Allen, p. 34. 


the Republicans nominated W. J. Whipper, an unscru- 
pulous negro politician, lacking professional attainments, 
a man " notorious in evil." 1 Previous to the election it 
was the custom for the members of the legislature to 
meet in public assembly and hear addresses from the 
candidates who were to be voted for on a later day. To 
this meeting Governor Chamberlain went and, after the 
three candidates had spoken, he took the floor and gave 
his hearers plainly to understand that in point of abil- 
ity and character he considered Whipper quite unfit for 
the position of judge and that of the three he favoured 
Colonel Reed who by a union of reform Republicans and 
Conservatives was subsequently elected. The momentum 
of this act defeated somewhat later the choice of ex-Gov- 
ernor F. J. Moses Jr. as judge of the third circuit. 2 

In January, 1875, the Governor sent to his legislature 
a special message full of " wise, prudent and just " rec- 
ommendations. 8 In the appointment of Trial Justices 
he named Conservatives in localities where he was not 
able to find sufficiently well-qualified Republicans. An 
outbreak of the usual sort occurring in Edgefield County, 
he caused it to be investigated and when the report 
came that it was due to the exactions of the county 
authorities and " the lawless behavior of the colored, 
militia" he at once disbanded those companies of the 
State troops. 4 The Republican corruptionists attempted 
to remove the State Treasurer Cardozo, a light mulatto 
of good ability, whom Chamberlain believed to be an 
honest and faithful administrator. The Governor stood 
manfully by his friend and supporter and his position 
served as a rallying point for the reform Republicans and 
Conservatives who between them defeated the attempt. 5 

i Allen, p. 38 ; The Nation, Oct. 10, 1872, p. 226. 

* Allen, chap. iv. 

* Charleston News and Courier cited by Allen, p. 62. 

* Allen, p. 66. 

6 Ibid., chap. vii. ; Reynolds, Reconstruction in S.C., p. 298 et seq. 


Between March 4 and 18, 1875 the Governor vetoed 
four bills of plunder; his record for the session was nine- 
teen effective vetoes. He refused to sign the extrava- 
gant annual Tax and Supply bill and it did not become 
a law. Significant and welcome was the praise of the 
Charleston News and Courier, an able, high-toned journal, 
characteristically Southern, at times intensely partisan, 
almost autocratic in its influence in South Carolina and 
now rising to a height of civic patriotism which rendered 
its utterances a vivid and accurate history of Chamberlain's 
administration. 1 Chamberlain, it said May 14, 1875, 
" is as true as steel in the fight against public dishonesty. 
... It is due to Mr. Chamberlain that for the first 
time in six years there was no considerable stealing dur- 
ing the legislative session, and that not one swindling bill 
became a law." It alluded to his " scholarly messages, 
his patriotic utterances, his unfailing tact and courtesy. 
... In the light of his acts since he has been governor, 
we say now that, however much appearances were against 
him, it is morally impossible that he should have been 
either facile or corrupt. . . . Governor Chamberlain 
therefore richly deserves the confidence of the people of 
this State. The people of South Carolina who have all 
at stake, who see and hear what persons outside of the 
State cannot know, are satisfied of Governor Chamber- 
lain's honesty. . . . When he determined to oppose a 
square front to corruption in whatsoever guise, he knew 
that he must, on that, cut loose from the rogues who 
ruled the Republican party up to the time of his election, 
and that upon him would be poured out the seventy and 
seven vials of wrath. It would have been supreme folly 
to provoke their hate if there was anything in his previ- 
ous conduct that could expose him to ignominy and 
public shame. . . . By and with the aid of the Con- 
servatives Governor Chamberlain and -the small band of 

i Allen, p. 77. 


honest Republicans defeated the thieves in every engage- 
ment. But the men whom he has thrown down, and 
who did not want or expect reform, are wild with rage 
and despair." l 

Chamberlain won the admiration of the North and 
received the honour of an invitation to speak at the 
dinner of the Centennial celebration at Lexington, April 
19, 1875. At the same dinner, General William F. 
Bartlett, one of the bravest of Massachusetts soldiers 
who had gone to Virginia to live, made a moving plea 
for a complete reconciliation between the South and the 
North. 2 Chamberlain offered to his fellow-citizens "the 
fraternal, patriotic greeting of South Carolina. She 
marches again to-day to the music of that Union which 
a hundred years ago her wisdom helped to devise and 
her blood to cement." 8 It was a day for invoking the 
common memories of the Revolution. He quoted Ban- 
croft, " The blessing of union [of the colonies] is due to 
the warm-heartedness of South Carolina " and he might 
have added the words of Daniel Webster, " I claim part 
of the honor, I partake in the pride of her [South Caro- 
lina's] great names. I claim them for countrymen, . . . 
Americans all, whose fame is no more to be hemmed in 
by State lines, than their talents and patriotism were 
capable of being circumscribed within the same narrow 
limits. In their day and generation they served and 

1 Allen, pp. 106, 107. Chamberlain said in May 1875 : " When I came 
into office there were at least two hundred Trial Justices in the State who 
could not read or write. The duties of a Trial Justice here are precisely the 
same as the duties of Justice of the Peace in other States. Yet previous Gov- 
ernors had appointed and commissioned over two hundred men to the impor- 
tant duties of this office who could not write or read a word of the English 
language." Ibid., p. 140. Reynolds (Reconstruction in S.C., p. 300) wrote, 
"The course of Governor Chamberlain . . . was heartily commended by 
numbers of the conservative papers in South Carolina and by leading jour- 
nals, without regard to politics, in other parts of the country." 

2 Memoir of Bartlett, Palfrey. 
Allen, p. 125. 


honored the country, and the whole country; and their 
renown is of the treasures of the whole country." 1 

This was a bright episode in Chamberlain's life and 
it was succeeded by others of the same sort during the 
spring and summer when he spoke to the intelligence of 
other communities. In November, he had again to take 
up the fight against corruption from which a man of 
less physical and moral courage would have shrunk. 
Eight judges were to be elected by the legislature and 
in his annual message he uttered a word of caution : 
" Legal learning, a judicial spirit, and a high and un- 
blemished personal character," he said, " should mark 
every man who shall be elected to sit in the seats of 
Harper and Dunkin, of O'Neall and Wardlaw. If all 
these qualities are not attainable, let ike one quality of 
personal integrity never be lost sight of." 2 One day, while 
he was absent from Columbia, Whipper was chosen 
judge for the first (Charleston) circuit by 83 : 58 and 
Moses for the third (Sumter) circuit by 75 : 63. It will 
add to our understanding of the situation to mention 
the divisions of party and colour in the legislature. 
There were now 104 Republicans, 53 Democrats ; 77 
coloured men out of the total of 157. 3 We may be sure 
that nearly all the negroes voted for Whipper and Moses 
and all the Democrats against them. The election took 
place on a Thursday [December 16, 1875] and on the 
following Sunday Chamberlain took up the cudgels. In 
an interview with the editor of the Charleston News 
and Courier, he said Whipper was " incapable and utterly 
unfit for the office of Judge." Moses had been deep in 
corruption and bribery and had prostituted "all his official 
powers to the worst possible purposes." 4 Chamberlain 
signed the commissions of six judges ; having a tech- 
nical point of law on his side he refused to sign the 

1 Works, vol. vi. (edition of 1903), p. 49. 3 Ibid., p. 9. 

2 Allen, p. 193. 4 Ibid., chap. xiii. 


commissions of Whipper and Moses. His action was 
approved by the bar and other notables of Charleston. 
A mass meeting in that city declaring enthusiastic 
approval was followed by others throughout the State. 
During this crisis, Chamberlain was invited to the ban- 
quet of the New England Society in Charleston on Fore- 
fathers' Day [December 22, 1875] and he replied in the 
despatch which has become famous as summing up the 
result of negro-carpet-bag rule at the South : " The 
civilization of the Puritan and the Cavalier, of the 
Roundhead and the Huguenot, is in peril." * 

"My highest ambition as governor," Chamberlain 
said, " has been to make the ascendancy of the Republican 
party in South Carolina compatible with the attainment 
and maintenance of as high and pure a tone in the ad- 
ministration of public affairs as can be exhibited in the 
proudest Democratic State of the South." 2 With the 
majority of his party against him, with its brutal rank 
and file blindly or selfishly tolerating their corrupt 
representatives, such a consummation could not be, as he 
himself years afterwards admitted. 8 During his canvass 
in 1874 he had said : " The work of reform will be a 
constant struggle. ... If in my two years as Governor 
I can even < turn the tide,' I shall be more than rewarded." 4 
This indeed he accomplished. He began the redemption 
of South Carolina ; it was completed under Democratic 
auspices. The story of the transference of political 
power to the Democrats belongs to the presidential 
campaign of 1876 and the disputed presidency. 6 

1 Allen, p. 200. See the whole of chap. xiii. Whipper and Moses threat- 
ened to force their way to the bench. The Governor made ready to repel 
force by force and no attempt was made to carry out the threat. 

2 Ibid., p. 196. Atlantic Monthly, April 1901, p. 482. 
* Allen, p. 283. 

6 In this account I have used the New York Nation ; Appletons' Annual 
Cyclopaedia for the various years ; Bancroft, The Negro ; Hemphill's article 
in Why the Solid South ; Reynolds, Reconstruction in South Carolina, more 
than the precise references indicate. 


No large policy in our country has ever been so con- 
spicuous a failure as that of forcing universal negro 
suffrage upon the South. The negroes who simply 
acted out their nature were not to blame. How indeed 
could they have acquired political honesty ? What idea 
could barbarism thrust into slavery obtain of the rights 
of property ? Even among the Aryans of education and 
intelligence public integrity has been a plant of slow 
growth. From the days of the Grecian and Roman 
republics to our own, men have stolen from the State 
who would defraud no individual. With his crude ideas 
of honesty between man and man, what could have 
been expected of the negro when he got his hand in the 
public till? The scheme of Reconstruction pandered to 
the ignorant negroes, the knavish white natives and the 
vulturous adventurers who flocked from the North ; and 
these neutralized the work of honest Republicans who 
were officers of State. Intelligence and property stood 
bound and helpless under negro-carpet-bag rule. And 
the fact that such governments continued to exist, were 
supported by Federal authority and defended by promi- 
nent Republicans had a share in the demoralization of 
politics at the North. Senator Morton represented the 
radical view when he declared, " I have no faith in that 
virtue which assails with fury, fraud and corruption but 
connives at murder, outrage and oppression." l More mod- 
erate Republicans, aghast at the corruption prevailing 
in the Southern governments, lulled an uneasy conscience 
with the assurance that the Southern people had brought 
the trouble upon themselves an assertion which seemed 
to justify them in sticking to their party when it 
" waved the bloody shirt " as an issue in an exciting 
presidential campaign. Full relief could only come 
through the Democrats and Independent Republicans of 

1 Life of Morton, Foulke, vol. ii. p. 369 ; Cong. Record, Jan. 19, 1876, 
p. 498. 


the North and it required a remarkable balance of mind 
to support Hayes as Lowell did in 1876 and at the same 
time take a just view of the Southern question. The 
whole condition of things at the South is shameful," 
he wrote, " and I am ready for a movement now to 
emancipate the whites. No doubt the government is 
bound to protect the misintelligence of the blacks, but 
surely not at the expense of the intelligence of men of 
our own blood. The South on the whole has behaved 
better than I expected but our extremists expect them 
to like being told once a week that they have been 
ticked." l 

From the Republican policy came no real good to the 
negroes. Most of them developed no political capacity, 
and the few who raised themselves above the mass did 
not reach a high order of intelligence. At different 
periods two served in the United States Senate, twenty 
in the House ; 2 they left no mark on the legislation of 
their time ; none of them, in comparison with their white 
associates, attained the least distinction. When the 
Southern States recovered home rule, negroes were of 
course no longer sent to Congress from the South but they 
have had a fair chance at the North where they obtained 
the suffrage in every State within a few years after the 
Civil War. Politically very active and numerous enough 
in some of the Northern States to form a political force, 
that has to be reckoned with, no one of them (I believe) 
has ever been sent to Congress ; few get into legis- 
lature or city council. Very few if any are elected to 
administrative offices of responsibility. 8 The negro's 

1 July 12, Lowell's Letters, vol. ii. p. 174. 

* Progress of a Race, Gibson and Crogman, p. 719, corrected by Matteson. 
Blaine, vol. ii. p. 305 furnishes the portraits of five. The maximum number 
was reached in the 44th Cong. (1875-1877), when there were seven representa- 
tives and one senator. 

* These statements receive a melancholy confirmation from an analysis 
of Sinclair's " achievements of the colored race " in this particular and an 
adding up of his instances. The Aftermath of Slavery, p. 274. 


political activity is rarely of a nature to identify him 
with any movement on a high plane. He takes no part 
in civil service or tariff reform ; he was not a factor in the 
contest for honest money ; he is seldom, if ever, heard in 
advocacy of pure municipal government and for him 
Good Government Associations have no attraction. He 
is greedy for office and emolument ; it is for this reason 
that he arrogantly asserts his right to recognition ; and 
he has had remarkable success in securing offices under 
the Federal government. 1 In a word he has been politi- 
cally a failure and he could not have been otherwise. 
In spite of all the warnings of science and political 
experience, 2 he was started at the top and, as is the fate 
of most such unfortunates, he fell to the bottom. 

Truly the negro's fate has been hard. Torn from 
his native land he was made a slave to satisfy the white 
man's greed. At last, owing to a great moral move- 
ment, he gained the long-wished-for boon of freedom ; 
and then when in intellect still a child, instead of being 
treated as a child, taught gradually the use of his liberty 
and given rights in the order of his development, he, 
without any demand of his own, was raised at once to 
the white man's political estate, partly for the partisan 
designs of those who had freed him. His old masters, 
who understood him best and who, chastened by defeat 
and by adversity, were really his best friends, were 
alienated. He fell into the hands of rascals who through 
his vote fattened on the spoils of office. He had a brief 
period of mastery and indulgence during which his 
mental and moral education was deplorable and his 

1 According to Sinclair's table (The Aftermath of Slavery, p. 277) there 
are 4610 coloured employees in the service of the United States govern- 
ment. The contrast with the number elected is remarkable and suggestive. 

2 Lowell wrote to Godkin, Jan. 1, 1869 : " This theory of settling things 
by what anybody may choose to consider 'humanity,' instead of trying to 
find out how they may be settled by knowledge, is a fallacy too common in 
this country." Letters, vol. ii. p. 14, 


worst passions were catered to. Finally by force, by 
craft and by law his old masters have deprived him of 
the ballot and, after a number of years of political 
power, he has been set back to the point, where he 
should have started directly after emancipation. He is 
trying to learn the lesson of life with the work made 
doubly hard by the Saturnalia he has passed through. 

The Congressional policy of Reconstruction was short- 
sighted even from the partisan point of view in that it 
gave the South a grievance. In that balancing of rights 
and wrongs, which must be made in a just consideration 
of a great human transaction, the North at the end of the 
war could appeal to Europe and to history for the justifi- 
cation of its belief that there was on its side a large credit 
balance. Some of this it has lost by its repressive, un- 
civilized and unsuccessful policy of Reconstruction. More- 
over the close sequence of events has led the South to 
regard negro rule as the complement of emancipation 
with the result that she has sometimes lost sight of the 
benefit of the great act which gave freedom to the slaves. 

An avowed aim of the Congressional policy of Recon- 
struction was to build up a Republican party at the 
South. Here was a failure complete and an opportunity 
missed. The nucleus of a Republican party was there 
in the old-line whigs and Union-men-who-went-with- 
their-State. How formidable these were may be seen 
by an examination of the popular vote of 1856 and 1860 
and reckoning the supporters in the Southern States of 
Fillmore in one year and of Bell and Douglas in the 
other. At the end of the war they were ready to act 
in opposition to the secession Democrats and fire-eaters 
[who mainly voted for Breckinridge in I860 1 ] but the 

1 In the ten states which, with South Carolina, made up the Southern Con- 
federacy the vote in 1860 for Bell and for Douglas aggregated 418,003, for Breck- 
inridge 436,772. South Carolina cannot be included as she cast no popular vote 
for president. She would have given a very large majority for Breckinridge. 
Bell's vote in the Southern States was much larger than Douglas's. 


policy of Congress, which raised the race issue, consoli- 
dated all the white men into one party for self-protec- 
tion. Some Southern men at first acted with the Repub- 
lican party but they gradually slipped away from it as 
the colour line was drawn and reckless and corrupt finan- 
cial legislation inaugurated. 1 No doubt can exist that, 
if negro suffrage had not been forced upon the South, a 
healthy and respectable Republican party would have 
been formed, attaining perhaps the power and influence 
which the Democrats have in New England and in con- 
tests like those of 1896 and 1900, furnishing electoral 
votes for the Republican presidential candidate. And so 
far as we can divine, had the matter been left to the 
States themselves, suffrage by this time 2 would have been 
fully accorded to the negroes on the basis of educational 
and property qualifications. 

What manner of people were they with whom the 
North had to deal at the close of the war? Let 
them be described by George F. Hoar, always a stiff 
Republican partisan on the Southern question. Fresh 
from his visit to New Orleans in 1875, he wrote : The 
Southern men " were unsurpassed among the nations of 
the earth in courage, spirit, hospitality and generosity to 
their equals. They were apt to command and apt to 
succeed. . . . They were able politicians. With the 
love and habit of truth which becomes brave men in all 
common concerns, they were subtle and skilful diplo- 
matists when diplomacy was needed to accomplish any 
political end. . . . On the other hand they were domi- 
neering, impetuous, impatient of restraint, unwilling to 
submit to any government which they did not them- 
selves control, easily roused to fierce anger, and when so 
roused, both as individuals and in masses, cruel and 
without scruple." 3 Eliminating the word " cruel," this 

1 See Elaine's lament for the loss of the original Union men, vol. ii. p. 473. 

2 1906. 3 House report, submitted Feb. 23, 1875, p. 7. 


is a true characterization of Southern men during the 
decade before the war but the lessons of adversity had 
cooled their temper without detriment to their manliness, 
instilling toleration where arrogance had been before. 
An appreciation of this change is found in Hoar's char- 
acterization of eight years later and in the repetition of 
it after twenty years more as an abiding conviction. 
" Although my life politically and personally," he wrote, 
" has been a life of almost constant strife with the leaders 
of the Southern people, yet, as I grow older, I have 
learned, not only to respect and esteem, but to love the 
great qualities which belong to my fellow-citizens of 
the Southern States. They are a noble race. We may 
well take pattern from them in some of the great virtues 
which make up the strength, as they make the glory of 
Free States. Their love of home ; their chivalrous re- 
spect for woman ; their courage ; their delicate sense of 
honor ; their constancy which can abide by an opinion or 
a purpose or an interest of their States through adversity 
and through prosperity, through the years and through 
the generations, are things by which the people of the 
more mercurial North may take a lesson. And there 
is another thing covetousness, corruption, the low 
temptation of money has not yet found any place in our 
Southern politics." 1 

These were the men we delivered over into the hands 
of the negroes and their partisan or corrupt leaders. 
But adversity did not crush them. President F. A. P. 
Barnard of Columbia College, a man who knew both the 
South and the North, wrote on February 16, 1878, " It is 
indeed a marvellous thing how, after her trials, the South 
still continues to maintain her noble pre-eminence in 
statesmanship and in moral dignity." 2 

Imaginary comparisons with other civilized govern- 

1 Autobiography, vol. ii. p. 162. 

* Life of A. H. Stephens, Johnston and Browne, p. 538. 


ments are sometimes useful. It seems to me certain 
that in 1865-1867 England or Prussia under similar cir- 
cumstances would not so summarily have given the 
negroes full political rights. More than likely they 
would have studied the question scientifically through 
experts and therefore could not have avoided the conclu- 
sion that intelligence and the possession of property must 
precede the grant of suffrage. Their solution of the 
difficulty would therefore have been more in the interest 
of civilization. The words of Parkman, " The lion had 
had his turn and now the fox, the jackal and the wolf 
took theirs," l could not have been applied. On the 
other hand, with the ideas which prevail in those coun- 
tries concerning rebellion against an established govern- 
ment, England and Prussia would undoubtedly have 
executed Jefferson Davis and others and confiscated 
much of the Southern land. The good nature and good 
sense of the American people preserved them from so 
stern a policy ; and as a choice of evils (since mistakes 
it seems were sure to be made) the imposition of 
negro suffrage was better than proscriptions, and the 
creation of an Ireland or a Poland at our very door. 

1 Life of Parkman, Farnham, p. 275. The words were used in a some- 
what different application. 

NOTE TO PAGE 149. Since this chapter was in type Judge W. C. Benet of 
Columbia, S.C. has informed me that the inference Carpenter drew from the 
"outlandish idiom" was unwarranted. The language of the seacoast 
negroes was a patois arising from their inability to pronounce many of the 
English consonantal and some of the vowel sounds. It was not gibberish, 
was well understood by white men of South Carolina birth and breeding, 
living in the seacoast counties, and the use of it implied no lack of intelli- 
gence or fidelity. 


IT will be remembered that in my Fortieth Chapter 
I gave some account of the discussion and action of 
Congress on finance, following the financial panic of 1873. 
These terminated in the " Act to provide for the resump- 
tion of specie payments " of January 14, 1875, which was 
fathered by Senator John Sherman. The contest on 
the financial question was now transferred from 
Congress to the people of Ohio. Since Pendleton had 
raised the " greenbacks " banner and promulgated the 
" Ohio idea " the Democrats in this State had inclined 
to unsound principles of finance. The continued stagna- 
tion of business, the large number of bankruptcies in 
1874 .and 1875, 1 gave them a vantage-ground from which 
to attack the policy of the Republican party as embodied 
in the Resumption Act. Nominating for governor the 
present incumbent, William Allen, they adopted in 
their convention this resolution : " that the contraction 
of the currency heretofore made by the Republican 
party, and the further contraction proposed by it, with 
a view to the forced resumption of specie payment has 
already brought disaster to the business of the country, 
and threatens it with general bankruptcy and ruin. We 
demand that this policy be abandoned, and that the 
volume of currency be made and kept equal to the 
wants of trade, leaving the restoration of legal-tenders 
to par with gold to be brought about by promoting the 

i Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1876, p. 292 ; The Nation, July-Dec. 
1875, p. 81. 


240 OHIO ELECTION [1876 

industries of the people and not by destroying them." 1 
The Republicans did not formally endorse the Resump- 
tion Act but declared " that policy of finance should be 
steadily pursued which, without unnecessary shock to 
business or trade, will ultimately equalize the purchas- 
ing capacity of the coin and paper dollar." 2 

The candidate of the Republicans, Rutherford B. 
Hayes, was better than their platform. He was well 
known as an advocate of honest money and of a straight- 
forward payment of the national debt. Allen had rep- 
resented Ohio in the United States Senate from 1837 to 
1849 but had afterwards remained aloof from active 
political life until 1873 when, an " old Democratic wheel 
horse " being needed, he was dragged forth from his 
retirement and elected governor by a small majority, 
but, being the first Democratic governor of his State 
since the Republican party was formed, he had attracted 
some attention outside of its limits. He was a man of 
integrity and fair ability, as well as an effective stump- 
speaker, especially conspicuous by reason of his power- 
ful and penetrating voice. In Washington he had been 
known as the " Ohio gong " ; in this campaign his oppo- 
nents called him fog-horn William Allen." He believed 
thoroughly in the financial plank of the platform on 
which he stood and he advocated it with an earnestness 
that was convincing. He and his followers early took 
the field, assumed the aggressive and endeavoured to 
force the canvass upon the single issue, whether Con- 
gress shall make money plenty or scarce ; whether it 
shall make good times or hard times ; whether it shall 
issue to people plenty of their own money greenbacks 
or take these away, to give to banks the privilege to 
issue money." 8 The Republican party, they asserted, is 
devoted to the bond holders, the banks, capitalists, 

1 Appletons' Annual Cyclopedia, 1875, p. 607. 2 Ibid., p. 606. 

8 The Nation, Aug. 19, 1875, p. 117. 


money lenders, property classes and to creditors of all 
sorts, but we regard the interests of the people ; and for 
your votes they said in their appeals, we offer you 
plenty of greenbacks and good times." It would be a 
mistake to suppose that this was entirely the talk of 
demagogues ; in many cases the speakers firmly believed 
that farmers, labourers and business men, whose only 
fault had been that of energy which took them beyond 
their financial depth, were being ground down by the 
money classes of the country, whose efficient agent was 
John Sherman with his Resumption Act and the contrac- 
tion of the currency which it necessarily involved. Their 
arguments were potent, not only with Democrats but 
with many Republicans, who saw their property con- 
stantly dwindling, their opportunities for making money 
vanishing ; who, harassed with debts, believed that the 
dollars in which these were expressed grew more valu- 
able every day as that fateful 1st of January 1879 drew 
nigh. The Democratic platform was artfully contrived 
to catch these men ; and at meetings in every part of 
the State, it was being expounded in a way that carried 
conviction and gained votes. Hayes and John Sherman 
met the issue boldly and defended the Resumption Act, 
which, they argued, did not involve a contraction of the 
currency. Hayes laid stress on the part which the re- 
vival of business would play in bringing the greenbacks 
to par with gold and Sherman asserted that the resump- 
tion of specie payments would effect the best sort of 
inflation, that of gold coin mingling with the paper 
money in daily use. 

The political battle-ground of Ohio had seen no such 
spirited contest since the close of the war ; the impor- 
tance of the issue and the earnestness with whicli it was 
discussed caused people of all the Northern States to 
look on with a feeling that the financial policy of the 
country was at stake in this election. Prominent men 
of both parties flocked to Ohio and presented their 


arguments before crowded meetings, held daily and 
nightly everywhere. Thurman advocated Allen's election 
and " straddled " the Democratic platform in a way that 
satisfied neither wing of his party and probably not 
himself. McDonald, a hard-money Democrat, came from 
Indiana to show the Democrats of his own way of 
thinking how they might consistently support their 
party. Morton, who likewise took part in the campaign, 
defended the Resumption Act but appealed to the " soft 
money " Republicans by pointing out the dreadful con- 
sequences of the dominion of a party, composed largely 
of men who had fought against the Union. The Cin- 
cinnati Enquirer, the leading Democratic organ, charged 
him with introducing into the canvass " the bloody 
shirt." Schurz was-called home from a well-earned rest 
in Switzerland to use his eloquence on the side of hon- 
est money. He spoke constantly all over the State in 
English and in German, showing a power never before 
equalled (I think) of placing cogently before men who 
laboured with their hands the elementary truths of sound 
finance. It was a campaign of education in which Sher- 
man and Schurz bore the most important parts. Sher- 
man was able to hold his party pretty closely together 
despite what seemed to many of them the harsh policy 
of the Resumption Act. Schurz impressed the labouring 
men and was efficient in bringing back into the Repub- 
lican ranks the Germans who had deserted them during 
the previous year on account of the temperance crusade. 1 
Although the Southern question played a part in the 
campaign and the charge by the Republicans that the 
Democrats proposed to divide the school fund between 
the Catholics and Protestants a still greater one, yet 

1 Merriam (vol. ii. p. 244) and The Nation (Oct. 21, p. 256) rate highly 
the work done on the right side by Halstead in the Cincinnati Commercial, 
and by Stewart L. Woodford on the stump. The Nation also compliments 


the question to the fore was, Do the people of Ohio 
favour an inflation of the currency ? and the voters, 
whose number was greater than in any previous contest, 
answered No, giving Hayes a majority over Allen of 
5544. The election placed for a while a quietus on the 
policy of inflation. It consolidated the Republicans into 
a hard-money party and it encouraged the Eastern 
Democrats who, lacking sympathy with their Ohio 
brethren, rejoiced secretly at the defeat of Allen, whose 
election would have made him a formidable competitor 
next year for the Democratic nomination on a "rag- 
money " platform. 1 

The success of Hayes determined that in the presi- 
dential contest of 1876 the issue would not be the finan- 
cial question. Elaine, a prominent candidate for the 
Republican nomination, saw that the only issue on 
which his party could take the aggressive was the 
Southern question ; it was one moreover better suited 
to his peculiar ability than that of finance and he took 
an early opportunity to sound the keynote of the cam- 
paign. Samuel J. Randall introduced a bill into the 
House of Representatives [December 15, 1875] removing 
all disabilities remaining under the Fourteenth Amend- 
ment. 2 A bill practically identical with this one had 
passed the previous House (of which the Republicans 
numbered two-thirds) by a large majority, one of whom 
was presumably Elaine, 8 and Randall apparently thought 

1 My authorities are The Nation; Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1876 ; 
Life of Bowles, Merriam, vol. ii. ; Life of Morton, Foulke, vol. ii. ; Article on 
R. B. Hayes by C. Schurz in Appletons' Cyclopaedia of Biography, article on 
William Allen, ibid. ; my article on C. Schurz in Warner's Library of the 
World's Best Literature. I have myself a vivid recollection of this campaign. 

2 After considerable inquiry in which he obtained some exact figures 
Blaine estimated that there were still about 750 persons under disabilities. 
Cong. Record, Jan. 10, 1876, p. 324. This is a higher estimate than the one 
which I adopted in vol. vi. p. 329. 

3 The former bill, which was reported by the Committee on Rules on 
pec. 8, 1873 (Record, p. 91), provided for removing all disabilities imposed 

244 ELAINE'S SPEECH [1876 

that his measure would encounter no opposition. 
Blaine, however, who was now on the floor the leader 
of the Republican minority, 1 asked time for the con- 
sideration of it and, on January 6, 1876, proposed to 
offer an amendment, 2 the main purpose of which was to 
exclude Jefferson Davis from the amnesty ; four days 
later he made in advocating it a vehement speech which 
irritated exceedingly the representatives from the South. 
I do not except Jefferson Davis, Blaine said, because he 
was " the head and front of the rebellion. . . . But I 
except him on this ground : that he was the author, 
knowingly, deliberately, guiltily and wilfully, of the 
gigantic murders and crimes at Andersonville. . . . And 
I here before God, measuring my words, knowing their 
full extent and import, declare that neither the deeds of 
the Duke of Alva in the Low Countries nor the massacre 
of St. Bartholomew, nor the thumb-screws and engines 
of torture of the Spanish Inquisition begin to compare 
in atrocity with the hideous crime of Andersonville." 3 

Blaine endeavoured to prove Davis's complicity by 
presenting considerable ex parte testimony but he failed 
to establish the charge, although he goaded the Southern 
representatives, one of whom, Benjamin H. Hill, made a 
bitter reply in which was mingled much truth and 
error. The truth about the treatment of prisoners of 
war on both sides could not be elicited in a partisan 
debate but Blaine, by his revival of the horrors of 

by the Fourteenth Amendment, repealed Act of July 2 (iron-clad oath), pre- 
scribing the oath of July 11, 1868. Maynard, who reported it, said it had 
the unanimous approval of the Committee which must have included Blaine. 
The rules were suspended by 141 : 29 and the bill passed. There was no yea 
and nay vote. 

1 The House was composed of 168 Democrats, 108 Republicans, 14 Liberals 
and Independents. Tribune Almanac, 1876. 

2 An account of the parliamentary fencing is given by Stanwood, Life of 
Blame, p. 135. The Amnesty bill not securing a two-thirds vote failed to 

the House. 
8 Cong. Record, p. 324. 




Andersonville, his charge against Jefferson Davis, and 
his statement that 61 ex-Confederate soldiers were now 
representatives in the House with full privileges, fired 
the Northern heart and did much to fix the issue of the 
next presidential campaign. His speech was unques- 
tionably a piece of political adroitness but it shattered 
the name for magnanimous statesmanship which he had 
acquired in his effort to accord liberal treatment to the 
South. " Elaine's strong point," wrote Bowles to Dawes 
on December 11, 1873, " was his personal and political 
hold on the reformer set the Evening Post, Chicago 
Tribune and Nation crowd." 1 Bowles thought that his 
committee appointments of December 1873 had begun 
to estrange this set ; 2 and this present baiting of the 
Southerners for personal or party purposes w r as action 
of a nature hardly fitted to regain their sympathy. 
Elaine's biographer affirms that he was not eager for the 
presidential nomination ; 8 but supposing that nomination 
to have been his aim, he was proceeding more craftily 
than he knew, for he had stolen the thunder of Morton 
and Conkling, who were the " residuary legatees " 4 of 
Grant and who favoured a harsh policy towards the 

Elaine and other astute Republican politicians un- 

1 The Nation of March 11, 1875 said : " Mr. Elaine has undoubtedly 'come 
out very strong ' from the session, and for his ability displayed in managing 
the House during the filibustering of the Democrats, as well as his integrity 
and skill, has won a great deal of praise from his own party, from the Demo- 
crats and from the press. His rise to a position of prominence among the 
leading men of his party is a gratifying sign, for he has obtained his honors 
not by unscrupulous partisanship, but by hard work in a difficult office, and 
has increased his popularity not by buncombe speeches, or the low arts of a 
demagogue, but by the exhibition of those qualities of firmness, good sense, 
and respect for the rights of others which ought to make a man popular. 
He has his faults, no doubt, but, compared with Morton, Logan and the pres- 
ent leaders of the Republicans, he seems like an ancient Roman for virtue." 

2 Life of Bowles, Merriam, vol. ii. p. 333. 
8 Stan wood, p. 179. 

* Merriam, p. 250. 


doubtedly thought that their hope of electing a President 
lay in diverting the public mind from the corruption and 
inefficiency of Grant's administration, of which it seemed 
as if there would be no end to the disclosures. There had 
been corruption and maladministration in the Interior 
and Navy departments ; l and the frauds in the internal 
revenue service were now engaging popular attention. 

Benjamin H. Bristow, who in June 1874 succeeded 
Richardson as Secretary of the Treasury, found that 
there was much in his department for an efficient admin- 
istrator to reform. He soon discovered that the govern- 
ment was not receiving the full amount of revenue 
which was its due from the distillation of whiskey in 
a number of cities in the West, chief amongst which 

1 House Mis. Doc. , 44th Cong. IstSess., Nos. 167, 193; House reports784, 788, 
789, 790, 793, 794. What I shall quote from the Life of Chandler by the Detroit 
Post and Tribune, I believe to be accurate and truthful statements : " During 
President Grant's second term the Interior Department, notwithstanding the 
personal honesty of Secretary Columbus Delano, had fallen into bad repute. 
It sheltered abuses and frauds which tainted the atmosphere, but were not 
hunted down and removed by its chiefs. From the scandals which this state 
of affairs created Mr. Delano finally sought escape by a resignation, which 
took effect on Oct. 1, 1875," p. 340. Rev. Dr. William B. Bodine writes me 
from Philadelphia under date of Dec. 5, 1904: "I knew Delano intimately 
and I knew also the judgment of his neighbors concerning him. He was one 
of the truest and most honorable of men, high-minded and noble." 

Zachariah Chandler who had lost his senatorship was appointed in 
Delano's place receiving his commission Oct. 19, 1875. Chandler was 
thoroughly honest and a very capable business man. "No man," writes 
his biographer, "could have had less of the professional 'reformer' about 
him in fact he was not chary of expressing the most contemptuous scepti- 
cism concerning much that paraded itself as ' reform ' but the exemplifica- 
tion which he gave of practical reform was at once thorough and brilliant. 
Without ostentation, without the faintest savor of cant, he went at his work 
in unpretentious, business-like, manful and clear-sighted fashion. A firm 
believer himself that ' corruption wins not more than honesty,' he gave 
durable lessons on that theme in every bureau of the Interior Department," 
p. 340. Schurz who succeeded him said to Chandler, " I think I am express- 
ing the general opinion of the country when I say you have succeeded in 
placing the Interior Department in far better condition than it had been in 
for years, and that the public is indebted to you for the very energetic and 
successful work you have performed," p. 355. 


was St. Louis. The Merchants Exchange Statistics for 
1874 indicated, by the excess of whiskey consumed 
and shipped over that on which a tax was paid, that the 
government was being defrauded of a revenue of 
ftl^OOjOOO. 1 Since 1870 or 1871 there had existed a 
Whiskey Ring composed of internal revenue officers and 
distillers of St. Louis with official accomplices in Wash- 
ington, among whom was divided the money coming 
from the illegal abatement of the tax on a large amount 
of whiskey. One distiller in 1871 and 1872 distilled 
about 8500,000 worth, of which $300,000 was " crooked." 
This was not an unusual proportion ; it was asserted 
that during 1871, 1872 and 1873 three times as much 
whiskey was shipped from St. Louis as paid a tax. 2 If 
a distiller was honest he was entrapped into some tech- 
nical violation of the law by the officials, who by virtue 
of their authority seized his distillery, giving him the 
choice of bankruptcy or a partnership in their operations; 
and generally he succumbed. 

John McDonald, who was supervisor of internal rev- 
enue in St. Louis for nearly six years, estimated that 
during that period the government was in this man- 
ner defrauded out of revenue amounting to $2,786,000.* 
A goodly part of this went to the official members of the 
ring who were accustomed to levy assessments from 
time to time on the distillers, the ostensible purpose of 
which was to raise a campaign fund for the benefit of 
the Republican party and especially to procure a second 
and then a third term for Grant. Unquestionably con- 
siderable money was used in this way but a good deal 
of it stuck to the fingers of the officials, whose peculiar 
operations necessitated large personal expenditures. 
McDonald, whose salary was $3000 per annum, paid the 

1 Secrets of the Great Whiskey Ring, McDonald, p. 47. I do not Touch 
for McDonald's figures but I think they are sufficiently exact. 
8 Ibid., p. 64. Ibid., p. 328. 


bill of the President and his party at the Lindell Hotel 
during their ten days' visit to St. Louis in 1874. The 
partial reimbursement of this by some of Grant's friends 
must have been welcome, for their common knowledge 
and love of horses led to the admiration of a certain pair 
by Grant and the gift of them to him by McDonald. 
A road-wagon, harness and handsome whip at a total 
cost, including the horses, of $1750 were added before 
the outfit was sent to the White House and there re- 
ceived by Grant with oriental nonchalance. 1 McDonald 
made Babcock, the President's private secretary, a pres- 
ent of a diamond shirt-stud costing 2400, and such 
were the familiar relations between the two that Bab- 
cock expressed his discontent on 'discovering a flaw in 
the diamond, whereupon it was replaced by another, 
finer and more expensive. Some of the money was spent 
in other forms of extravagance. Men whose salaries were 
small partook frequently of good dinners and suppers in 
restaurants with champagne as their ordinary beverage 
and, as a further charm in their hours of ease, a " sylph " 
was an occasional companion. 2 

Bristow had two aims, one to stop the stealing, and 
the other, which was more difficult, to punish the thieves. 
With the co-operation of Edwards Pierrepont, the Attor- 
ney-General, and of his energetic solicitor of the Treas- 
ury, Bluford Wilson, and with the support, for a while, 
of the President, he secured the indictment and convic- 
tion of three officials and a journalist in St. Louis and 
of one official in Washington. In working up the evi- 
dence he unearthed certain facts which affected public 
sentiment profoundly at the time, thus adding to the 
historical importance of this episode. He ascertained 

1 McDonald, pp. 102, 109, 316, 317. Joyce his confidential secretary 
shared with him the expense of the outfit. 

2 As to the " Sylph " see McDonald, p. 113 ; on the " Sylph" telegrams, 
ibid., pp. 113, 300 and Whiskey Frauds, Testimony, p. 3. 


that Orville E. Babcock, the confidential friend as well 
as private secretary of the President, was a member of 
the ring and a sharer in its profits. When a letter im- 
plying this was shown to the President [at Long Branch 
probably on July 29, 1875] he wrote on the back of it, 
"Let no guilty man escape," and said, "If Babcock is 
guilty, there is no man who wants him so much proven 
guilty as I do, for it is the greatest piece of traitorism 
to me that a man could possibly practice." l But not 
long afterwards the President's ardour for the prosecu- 
tion of the members of the Whiskey Ring cooled ; and 
whe:\, on December 9, 1875, the grand jury in St. Louis 
returned a true bill against Babcock "for conspiracy 
to defraud the revenue " 2 his attitude became hostile, at 
first covertly, then openly. He was exasperated at the 
words in the Avery [the Washington official] case of ex- 
Senator John B. Henderson who as special counsel on 
behalf of the government made during his plea a veiled 
allusion to the current suspicion that Babcock's complic- 
ity implicated the President and who touched on the 
friction which was beginning between Grant and Bristow. 
" What right," he asked, " has the President to interfere 
with the honest discharge of the duties of a Secretary of 
the Treasury ? " Henderson was relieved from further 
duty in the prosecution of the cases, every member of 
a full cabinet regarding his speech, so Pierrepont testi- 
fied, " as an outrage upon professional propriety thus to 
reflect upon the President." 8 

1 Pierrepont's testimony, March 22, 1876, Whiskey Frauds, 44th Cong. 1st 
Sess., Mis. Doc., No. 186, pp. 11, 30 ; McDonald, p. 295. 

3 Whiskey Frauds, Testimony, p. 6. 

Ibid., pp. 5, 69, 70, 364. Henderson was discharged Dec. 10, 1876. 
James 0. Brodhead in the opinion of Henderson "a very able lawyer" 
standing " at the head of the bar in St. Louis" (p. 66) succeeded him. 
Bluford Wilson protested against the removal of Henderson, deeming it 
"a fatal blow to the prospect of a successful prosecution in Babcock'a 


Babcock was put upon trial and the proceedings were 
marked by an extraordinary occurrence. The President 
voluntarily gave his deposition on the part of the defence. 
At the White House on February 12, 1876 there assembled 
Bristow, Pierrepont, an attorney for the government, an 
attorney for Babcock and Chief Justice Waite, who 
acted as notary. 1 Grant swore : that I have never seen 
anything in the conduct or talk of Babcock which 
indicated to my mind that he was in any way interested 
in or connected with the Whiskey Ring at St. Louis or 
elsewhere ; that he has evinced fidelity and integrity as 
regards the public interest and performed his duties as 
my private Secretary to my entire satisfaction ; that " I 
have always had great confidence in his integrity and 
efficiency ; " and that I never had any information from 
Babcock or any one else indicating in any manner directly 
or indirectly that any funds for political purposes were 
being raised by any improper methods. 2 Grant in his 
deposition showed his eagerness for the acquittal of 
Babcock and this undoubtedly had weight with the jury, 
who, being further influenced by the charge of the judge 
in his favour, brought in a verdict of not guilty. On 
his acquittal, Babcock resumed his duties at the White 
House but did not exercise them long. Public opinion 
compelled his withdrawal from that confidential position. 
He was indicted afterwards for complicity in a safe 
burglary conspiracy, his object being to get hold of 
some incriminating documents, but Grant's fostering 
care still remained over him. 8 

Though the judge and the jury did not believe that a 
legal case had been made against Babcock no real doubt 

1 McDonald, p. 265 ; New York Tribune, Feb. 14, 1876. 

2 Ibid., pp.255, 256 ; New York Tribune, St. Louis Daily Times, Feb. 18, 1876. 
8 Ibid., pp. 284, 335; New York Tribu ne, Feb. -April 1876. McKee, 

Maguire and Avery were pardoned after about six months' imprisonment. 
On Jan. 26, 1877, McDonald received his pardon. Later in the year Joyce 
was pardoned by President Hayes, ibid., pp. 284, 321, 326. 


can remain that he shared in the profits of the ring. 
McDonald, all of whose statements must however be 
received with caution, relates that at two different times 
he gave him a package of bills amounting in each case 
to 15000 and that on another occasion he sent him a 
$1000 bill in a box of excellent cigars ; that his total 
dividends were $25,000. 1 The prosecution was hampered 
by the unfriendly attitude of the President and some of 
his immediate friends but Bristow, Pierrepont and Blu- 
ford Wilson were convinced of the guilt of Babcock, whose 
general bad name led the public to share this belief. 

McDonald asserts that Grant was a silent or honorary 
member of the Whiskey Ring (not that he received any 
cash unless Babcock divided his share with him but he 
was aware that the profits from illicit distilling were 
going into a campaign fund to be used mainly in the 
work of securing for him a second and then a third term) 
and that in his deposition he perjured himself. Hender- 
son desired McDonald to plead guilty and become a witness 
for the government (promising him immunity from pun- 
ishment) and had he done so, he writes, the President 
would have been impeached and removed from office. 
Because of his devotion he refused to testify against 
Grant and Babcock and went to the penitentiary willingly 
in order to preserve Grant and the nation from scandal. 2 

McDonald utterly fails to make out a case against 
Grant ; 3 and I should not have thought these charges 

1 McDonald, pp. 106, 120, 148, 316. 

2 Ibid., pp. v, 35, 84, 94, 158, 171, 186, 204, 318, 329, 332. 

8 McDonald's book is a curious one. Illiterate, according to Grant's 
testimony, he could not have written it himself but he undoubtedly furnished 
the facts which were arranged and written out by some more competent per- 
son. The book was published in 1880, is of the order of campaign literature 
and may have been intended as a document against Grant, had he been 
nominated in 1880, when he had a very strong following in the Republican 
convention and a good chance of success. This theory is substantiated by the 
Appendix which contains the charges of corruption against Garfield who did 
receive the Republican nomination in 1880. 


worthy of mention were it not that many good people 
at the time believed that Grant's eagerness to remain in 
the White House had led him to connive at this dis- 
honest way of raising money in his own interest. To 
me it is quite incredible that he should have done this, 
and my conviction of his innocence is easily explained. 
E. Rockwood Hoar, a hard-headed man and an acute 
judge of his fellows, knew Grant through and through, 
and believed him strictly and thoroughly honest. But 
do you feel sure, he was asked, that in all these suspi- 
cious transactions no money stuck to his fingers? With 
a purposed anachronism to give emphasis to his quaint 
remark he replied, " I would as soon think St. Paul had 
got some of the thirty pieces of silver." l Time, the 
gleaner of the true from the false, has revealed to us 
Grant's character in its full strength and full weakness, 
amply confirming Judge Hoar's confidence in the man 
whom he comprehended so well, who to his deep regret 
kept much bad company and made "a pretty poor Presi- 
dent." And the world believes Grant when he swore 
before the Chief Justice and Bristow and Pierrepont 
that he knew of no campaign fund which came from 
the profits of illicit distilling. 

In money matters Grant was as credulous as a child. 
He undoubtedly knew of the campaign fund in St. 
Louis but had not a suspicion of the process through 
which it was raised. Babcock had an extraordinary 
fascination for him and could make him believe any- 
thing. The private secretary was cheek by jowl with 
the other members of the ring who jumped to the con- 
clusion that Grant as well as Babcock was privy to their 
operations. Grant's suspicions of July 1875 at Long 
Branch were allayed by Babcock's explanation of the 
evidence which told against him ; and, yielding to his 
favourite's cajolery, he came to believe that Babcock 

Conversation, Oct. 4, 1893. 


was a much persecuted man, whom Bristow pursued for 
the purpose of commending himself to the reform ele- 
ment in the Republican party and securing the Republi- 
can nomination for President. 

Plain as this now is, it was not so in February 1876 
when Babcock was acquitted. The gap between Grant's 
" Let no guilty man escape " of July 1875 and his es- 
pousal of Babcock's cause was wide indeed, and when 
Babcock was restored to his place in the White House 
one hardly knew what to say. Startling, too, was 
Grant's evident displeasure with Bristow succeeding 
his earlier support of the investigation. His feeling 
was intense and seems hardly to have abated two 
years later when he said : Any of the candidates for 
the Republican nomination in 1876 except Mr. Bristow 
" would have been satisfactory to me, would have 
had my heartiest support. Mr. Bristow I never 
would have supported for reasons that I may give 
at some other time in a more formal manner than 
mere conversation." 1 The friction between the two 
is seen likewise in Bristow's testimony which though 
guarded by an honourable official reticence, alludes 
to the sharp severance of their official and personal 
relations. 2 

Altogether the affair was very damaging to the Grant 
administration and reflected on the Republican party, 
but worse was yet to come. The country was still 
thinking of the iniquity of Babcock and others of the 
President's friends when, on March 2, Hiester Clymer, 
chairman of the Committee on Expenditures in the War 
Department, reported that his committee had " found at 
the very threshold of their investigations uncontradicted 

1 Around the World with General Grant, J. R. Young, vol. ii. p. 273. 

2 Bristow gave his testimony on July 7, 1876. He resigned his position 
on June 20. As has been indicated my main authorities are the Whiskey 
Frauds, Testimony, and McDonald's Whiskey Ring. I have been helped by 
The Nation and Life of Bowles, Merriam, vol. ii. 


evidence of the malfeasance in office by General William 
W. Belknap, then Secretary of War." Along with their 
report he submitted the testimony which substantiated 
their solemn accusation. In 1870, Mrs. Belknap had 
suggested to Caleb P. Marsh of New York, at whose 
house she was visiting, to apply for a post-tradership on 
the frontier and hinted to him that she would riot 
refuse a portion of the emoluments of the office. Marsh 
made application for the valuable post of Fort Sill, 
Indian Territory then falling vacant, and received an 
intimation from either Mrs. Belknap or the Secretary 
that he had better see its incumbent, John S. Evans, 
who was in Washington pressing for a reappointment. 
Marsh saw Evans and, after some negotiation, the two 
agreed that Evans should retain the place in considera- 
tion of which he should pay Marsh $12,000 a year, quar- 
terly in advance. The first payment was received 
probably in November 1870 and one-half of it was sent 
to Mrs. Belknap. The death of Mrs. Belknap occurring 
shortly afterwards and the money from Evans continu- 
ing to come, Marsh sent half of it to Belknap himself, 
in bank-notes by Adams express or in certificates of 
deposit or perhaps on one or two occasions in a govern- 
ment bond. If Belknap chanced to be in New York at 
the time of the quarterly remittance he paid him the 
money in person. After a while Marsh reduced his 
claim on Evans to $6000 per year and consequently cut 
down in a like proportion his payments to the Secretary 
but during the operation of the contract he received in 
all about $40,000 one-half of which went to Mrs. Bel- 
knap and the Secretary of War. 

The Committee recommended that Belknap " be im- 
peached of high crimes and misdemeanors while in 
office " and the House by a unanimous vote adopted a 
resolution to this effect. It was shortly after three 
o'clock on the afternoon of March 2 when Clymer pre- 
sented his report to the House, but on the morning of 


the same day, Belknap, anticipating the action that would 
be taken, tendered his resignation to the President, re- 
questing its immediate acceptance. He was a personal 
friend of Grant's and had been Secretary of War since 
the autumn of 1869. 1 It had become well understood 
that Grant never forsook his friends but stood by them 
when they were " under fire " ; in this case expectation 
was not disappointed. At about twenty minutes past 
ten [March 2] he wrote to Belknap, " Your tender of 
resignation as Secretary of War, with the request to 
have it accepted immediately, is received and the same 
is hereby accepted with great regret." 2 Nevertheless 
nobody had any doubt as to Belknap's guilt. His dis- 
grace was complete and added to the already heavy load 
under which Grant and the Republican party were 
staggering. 8 

The high-water mark of corruption in national affairs 
was reached during Grant's two administrations. Blaine 
and others, as we have seen, wished to divert public at- 
tention from it by trying to excite at the North the bit- 
ter sectional passions of the Civil War ; but there were 
better Republicans and better patriots who believed that 
the truth should be told and an effort made to awaken 
in their countrymen the spirit of reform. Lowell, writ- 
ing before the. full disclosures of the Whiskey Ring and 
the disgrace of Belknap, said in reference to the proposed 
Centennial Exhibition of 1876 : 

1 Appointed on Oct. 13, 1869, sworn in Nov. 1. The Senate on Dec. 9, 
1869 confirmed the appointment without a division. 

2 The trial of Belknap by the Senate dragged along and the vote on the 
articles of impeachment was not taken until Aug. 1. Thirty-seven sena- 
tors voted " guilty," 25 " not guilty " and, as the necessary two-thirds were 
wanting, conviction was not obtained but 23 of those who voted " not guilty" 
did so because they believed that the Senate lacked jurisdiction on account 
of the resignation of the defendant. 

g My authorities are House reports, 44th Cong. 1st Sess., Nos. 186, 346, 
791 ; Misc. Docs. 84 ; Cong. Record, voL iv. part vii. Trial of Belknap; 
George F. Hoar, Autobiography, vol. i, 


"Columbia, puzzled what she should display 
Of true home-make on her Centennial Day, 
Asked Brother Jonathan : he scratched his head, 
Whittled awhile reflectively, and said, 
4 Your own invention and own making too? 
Why any child could tell ye what to do: 
Show 'em your Civil Service, and explain 
How all men's loss is everybody's gain ; 
Show your new patent to increase your rents 
By paying quarters for collecting cents ; 
Show your short cut to cure financial ills 
By making paper collars current bills; 
Show your new bleaching process, cheap and brief, 
To wit: a jury chosen by the thief; 
Show your State Legislatures; show your Rings; 
And challenge Europe to produce such things 
As high officials sitting half in sight 
To share the plunder and to fix things right; 
If that don't fetch her, why you only need 
To show your latest style in martyrs Tweed: 
She'll find it hard to hide her spiteful tears 
At such advance in one poor hundred years.' " l 

George William Curtis said to the New York State Re- 
publican Convention on March 22, 1876 : " < Plain words 
are best.' . . . The corruptions of administration ex- 
posed in every direction, and culminating at last in the 
self-confessed bribery of the Republican Secretary of 
War, the low tone of political honor and of political 
morality that has prevailed in official Republican service, 
the unceasing disposition of the officers and agents of the 
administration of this country to prostitute the party 
organizations relentlessly and at all costs to personal 
ends, has everywhere aroused the apprehension of the 

1 The Nation, Aug. 5, 1875, p. 82. The poem was entitled " The World's 
Fair, 1876." For Nast's unpublished cartoon suggested by it, see Life of 
Nast, Paine, p. 363. 


friends of free government, and has startled and alarmed 
the honest masses of the Republican party." 1 

And finally on May 6, 1876 George F. Hoar, who was 
one of the managers of the House in the Belknap Im- 
peachment Trial, spoke thus to the senators sitting as 
a Court : " My own public life has been a very brief 
and insignificant one, extending little beyond the dura- 
tion of a single term of senatorial office. But in that 
brief period I have seen five judges of a high court of 
the United States driven from office by threats of im- 
peachment for corruption or maladministration. I have 
heard the taunt, from friendliest lips, that when the 
United States presented herself in the East to take part 
with the civilized world in generous competition in the 
arts of life, the only product of her institutions in which 
she surpassed all others beyond question was her corrup- 
tion. I have seen in the State in the Union foremost in 
power and wealth four judges of her courts impeached 
for corruption, and the political administration of her 
chief city become a disgrace and a by-word throughout 
the world. I have seen the chairman of the Committee 
on Military Affairs in the House, rise in his place and 
demand the expulsion of four of his associates for mak- 
ing sale of their official privilege of selecting the youths 
to be educated at our great military school. When the 
greatest railroad of the world binding together the con- 
tinent and uniting the two great seas which wash our 
shores, was finished, I have seen our national triumph 
and exaltation turned to bitterness and shame by the 
unanimous reports of three committees of Congress 
two of the House and one here that every step of that 
mighty enterprise had been taken in fraud. I have 
heard in highest places the shameless doctrine avowed 
by men grown old in public office that the true way by 
which power should be gained in the Republic is to 

1 Life of Bowles, Merriam, vol. ii. p. 255 ; New York Tribune, March 23. 


bribe the people with the offices created for their ser. 
vice, and the true end for which it should be used when 
gained is the promotion of selfish ambition and the 
gratification of personal revenge. I have heard that 
suspicion haunts the footsteps of the trusted companions 
of the President." 1 

James G. Elaine fell a victim to the malady of the 
time. The story of his fall begins on April 10, 1869, on 
the last night of the first session of the Forty-first Con- 
gress, when a bill was reached which renewed the land- 
grant to the State of Arkansas for the Little Rock and 
Fort Smith Railroad. An amendment was offered, which 
would have killed the bill, causing keen disappointment 
to the Arkansas members who had it in charge. In 
despair one of them came for advice to Blaine, then 
Speaker of the House, who told him that the amend- 
ment was not germane to the bill and therefore out of 
order. Not having confidence in his knowledge of the 
rules, he arranged with Blaine that the point should be 
raised by General Logan, to whom Blaine sent his page 
with the suggestion. Logan made the point, the Speaker 
ruled in his favour, the bill passed the House and became 
a law. The ruling was correct and the action of Blaine 
was not improper, as at that time he had no interest in 
the Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad Company; but 
on June 29, 1869, he was considering an offer made him 
by Warren Fisher Jr. of Boston for participation in this 
very company and writing : " I do not feel that I shall 
prove a dead-head in the enterprise if I once embark in 
it. I see various channels in which I know I can be 
useful." 2 Blaine's biographer plausibly maintains that 
this referred to his future operations as a broker with his 
friends in Maine ; 3 but taken in connection with his 

1 Cong. Record, vol. iv. part vii. p. 63 ; George E. Hoar, Autobiography^ 
vol. i. p. 307. 

2 Cong. Record, June 6, 1876, p. 3606. . Stanwood, p. 154. 


subsequent letter of October 4, 1869 in which he told 
Fisher to inform Josiah Caldwell (who was one of the 
promoters of the Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad) 
that he had unwittingly done him " a great favor " by 
his ruling of April 10, emphasizing the fact by a detailed 
history, 1 such an assurance reaches the height of in- 
delicacy on the part of the officer second in power in 
the government. On July 2, 1869 Elaine was hesitating 
over a most liberal proposition " from Fisher, 2 which, 
as subsequent events show he accepted and in accordance 
with the contract he sold in the autumn of 1869 to his 
friends in Maine 1125,000 of the first-mortgage bonds of 
the Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad for which 
Fisher, who made the delivery of the bonds direct to the 
purchaser, received $125,000 in money. As a bonus the 
Maine people were given $125,000 preferred stock and 
the same amount of common. A Boston investor would 
have received in such a transaction $125,000 land-grant 
bonds as well, the usual condition of sale being to give 
four dollars in securities for one in money. This part 
of the bonus was taken by Elaine as a commission ; by 
agreement with Fisher he was to receive $125,000 land- 
grant bonds and $32,500 first-mortgage bonds as a bro- 
kerage for making the sale. 8 On four other contracts, 
three of which were with residents of Maine, he received 
a commission in cash of $15,150 for the sale of $43,150 
worth of securities on different terms. 4 In these trans- 
actions the Speaker of the House placed himself on a 
level with unscrupulous promoters of State Street and 
Wall Street and, through these and similar operations, 
established a business reputation over the country as 
one who took in his friends. The ordinary method of 

1 Cong. Record, p. 3606. 2 Ibid. 

8 I speak of the contract as modified from $130,000 to $125,000. There 
should have been according to the contract a proportionate reduction of the 
$32,500. There is a little confusion in the evidence which is not important. 

* These securities were delivered by Fisher direct to the purchasers. 


promoters was to represent that having been let in on 
the ground floor " they were themselves investing money 
in the enterprise and were able to procure securities for 
their friends on the same basis. The evidence does not 
show that Elaine made such representations but they are 
naturally to be presumed. Blaine's was a sanguine dis- 
position and beyond a doubt he thought that the railroad 
would be a profitable investment for his friends. 

The enterprise was not successful and the transaction 
with his Maine friends got Blaine into trouble. The 
Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad fell into financial 
difficulties, the stock became worthless, the interest on 
the bonds was in default, and the Maine people were 
dissatisfied. Thirteen were in various amounts con- 
cerned in the $125,000 transaction, four in the 143,150. 
To one or two Blaine had given a guarantee against loss 
and in the case of the others he recognized, in the words 
of his friend William Walter Phelps, " a moral claim " l 
to make the loss good to them. Another phase of the 
situation is readily comprehensible. When investments 
turn out badly it is to be expected that the investors 
will make searching inquiries into their nature and ori- 
gin, including in their inquisition those from whom they 
acquired the securities. If the thirteen ascertained, 
which was an easy matter, that, according to the ordinary 
rate of sale, $125,000 land-grant bonds should have gone to 
them and if the four found out that they did not get the 
full value of their money, they were sure to feel that they 
had been tricked by their broker, the Speaker of the 
House. 2 The disclosure of the facts to his political and 
personal friends in Maine meant discredit and possibly 
political ruin ; consequently he was impelled by the 
strongest considerations to take back their bonds and 

1 Elaine's Record, published by the Boston committee of 100, written by 
Moorfield Storey, p. 18. 

2 In this connection see Life of Blaine, Stanwood, p. 174. 




return them their money. The letters of Elaine to Fisher 
during 1871 show that he was straining every nerve to 
raise money. He borrowed at from 8 to 8-J per cent, per 
annum. " Politically I am charged with being a wealthy 
man," he wrote on October 1. " Personally and pecun- 
iarily I am laboring under the most fearful embarrass- 
ments." 1 This was partly due to the necessity of raising 
the money to reimburse his Maine friends, in which he 
was evidently successful by April 18, 1872. He then 
wrote, " I am very sure that you have little idea of the 
labors, the losses, the efforts, and the sacrifices I have 
made within the past year to save those innocent per- 
sons, who invested on my request, from personal loss." 2 
In the spring of 1871 the Atlantic and Pacific Rail- 
road bought $100,000 bonds and $100,000 stock of the 
Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad paying therefor 
179,000 and the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad 
took about half that amount at the same rate. These 
were bought from an " interest largely engaged in the 
construction of the road " 8 at a price greater than their 
worth. On December 16, 1871 the Union Pacific Rail- 
road bought 175,000 Little Rock and Fort Smith land- 
grant bonds paying therefor $64,000, an amount largely 
in excess of their market value. Now, as Moorfield 
Storey acutely analyzes the testimony, Elaine refunded 
to his Maine friends on the two sets of contracts $168,150. 
From his Maine friends and from his commission as 
broker 4 he possessed $160,000 first-mortgage bonds and 
$123,000 land-grant bonds ; $150,000 of the first-mortgage 
bonds were bought by the Atlantic & Pacific and the 
Missouri, Kansas & Texas and $75,000 of the land-grants 
by the Union Pacific, realizing a sum somewhat more 

1 Cong. Record, June 5, 1876, p. 3606. 2 Ibid., p. 3605. 

8 Elaine's speech of April 24, 1876, ibid., p. 2726. 

4 For some reason he did not receive the full amount of bonds agreed on. 
Concerning this see Fisher's letter of Nov. 8, 1871, Blaine's Record, p. 42. 


than sufficient for Elaine to discharge his obligations to 
his Maine friends. 1 The positive evidence and the coin- 
cidence of events furnish the strongest of probabilities 
that these railroad companies through their managers 
relieved Blaine of his heavy financial burden, expecting 
to more than recoup themselves through legislative favours 
which the Speaker of the House could readily accord. 
All these roads enjoyed land-grants, being to this extent 
creatures of the national government and more or less 
subject to Congressional control. It is quite possible 
that it was not positive legislation but security from in- 
terference that was desired. The Springfield Republican 
charged him with making up his committees in December 
1873 " so as to favor inflation, a high tariff and the 
railroad corporations." 2 

To my mind the case against Blaine in at least the 
Union Pacific matter would be clear were it not for the 
evidence of Thomas A. Scott who swore that the 815,000 
bonds which went to the Union Pacific were his own 
and that the railroad company paid him the excessive 
price as a compensation for his services as its President for 
a year ; that he had bought the bonds from Caldwell and 
did not directly or indirectly know Blaine in the whole 
transaction. 3 But Scott's testimony is inconsistent with 
much of the other evidence and does not fit into the 
situation as well the explanation which I have adopted. 

The first public notice taken of the matter by Blaine 
was in the House on April 24, 1876. " For some months 
past," he said, a charge against me has been circulat- 
ing in private and was recently made public design- 
ing to show that I had in some indirect manner received 
the large sum of $64,000 from the Union Pacific Rail- 
road Company in 1871 for what services or for what 
purpose has never been stated." He made an absolute 

1 Elaine's Record, p. 20. 2 Life of Bowles, Merriarn, vol. ii. p. 333. 

3 44th Cong. 1st. Sess., House Mis. Docs. 176, p. 47. 


denial of the charge and supported his denial by a 
number of letters the most important of which was 
from Thomas A. Scott, who said, " That the Little Rock 
and Fort Smith bonds purchased by the Union Pacific 
Railroad Company in 1871 were not purchased or 
received from Mr. Blaine directly or indirectly, and that 
of the money paid by the Union Pacific Railroad Com- 
pany, or of the avails of said bonds, not one dollar went 
to Mr. Blaine, or to any person for him or for his benefit 
in any form." In the case of the Atlantic and Pacific 
and Missouri, Kansas and Texas, Blaine said, " that the 
bonds sold to them did not belong to me, nor did I have 
one dollar's pecuniary interest in the whole transaction 
with either company." 1 

Nearly every Republican wanted to believe Blaine 
and in April 1876 did believe him. He was a capable 
and popular man. His very limited knowledge of the 
factors in certain public questions did not prevent his 
taking a broad view of others. He had an instinctive 
understanding of men and a marked aptitude for getting 
information out of books ; had he devoted himself to 
study and reflection, he might have made a useful states- 
man. His personal magnetism fitted him for leadership ; 
and, though living in Maine, his greatest popularity was 
in Pennsylvania and the West. He had also the quali- 
ties of a parliamentary leader, although he had never a 
chance fully to display them for during his first service 
in the House he was dominated by Stevens and shortly 
after his death became its Speaker. Amiable and per- 
sonally attractive, few public men have had a constitu- 
ency easier to persuade than he ; the masses adored him, 
and at the period under consideration he had not wholly 
forfeited the confidence of the reformers. The remark 
of The Nation of April 27, 1876 was undoubtedly ap- 
proved by most of the independent thinkers in the 

Cong. Record, April 2-1, 1876, pp. 2724, 2725. 


Republican party. " In fact, as far as allegation can go," 
it said, " Mr. Elaine has vindicated himself. The only 
thing further he could do would be to submit his proofs 
to an investigating committee ; but this does not seem 
necessary because there is nothing cloudy in the state- 

Still the charge relating to the Union Pacific would 
not down ; in the Cincinnati Gazette of April 27, it ap- 
peared again fathered by one of the government direc- 
tors. On May 2 the Democratic House ordered its 
Committee on the Judiciary to make an investigation of 
it. A sub-committee of three at once set to work tak- 
ing testimony, the tenor of which was on the whole 
somewhat damaging to Blaine, but he had in his favour 
the testimony of Thomas A. Scott and it looked on May 
31 as if the verdict might be " not proved." But on 
that day James Mulligan of Boston, a truthful man, who 
had " kept some accounts for Fisher for the Little Rock 
and Fort Smith bonds " appeared before the committee 
and testified that Elisha Atkins, a director of the Union 
Pacific, told him that Blaine gave the 175,000 of Little 
Rock and Fort Smith bonds to Scott who made the Union 
Pacific Railroad take them at |64,000. 1 Mulligan, who 
was giving his testimony in a quiet manner, mentioned 
incidentally that he had in his possession certain letters 
written by Blaine to Fisher which, Blaine supposed, had 
been returned to himself. This statement " seemed to 
have a remarkable effect upon Blaine " who whispered to 
the Republican member of the sub-committee to move an 
adjournment which was done. 2 After the adjournment 
Blaine went during the afternoon to the Riggs House 

1 House Mis. Doc. 176, p. 95. Atkins denied ever having made such a 
statement, p. 110. Mulligan repeated it, p. 123. 

2 Hunton, chairman, sub-committee, Cong. Record, June 5, 1876, p. 3611. 
Stan wood writes that Mulligan had a personal grievance against Blaine and 
had vowed vengeance, p. 164. Mulligan swore, " I have no unfriendly feel- 
ings to Mr. Blaine whatever." Doc. 176, p. 98. 


and, in a conference between Atkins, Fisher, Mulligan 
and himself, asked Mulligan to give him those letters. 
Mulligan refused. Blaine implored Mulligan to think of 
his six children and his wife saying that if the committee 
should get hold of those letters " it would sink him im- 
mediately and ruin him forever." Mulligan still refused. 
Blaine then asked permission to read them which was 
accorded. Blaine read them over twice and returned 
the letters. Mulligan left Atkins's sitting-room where 
this scene had taken place and went to his own room. 
Blaine followed him and again asked to see the letters 
so that he might read them over again consecutively. 
Mulligan handed them to him on the condition that they 
be returned. What are you going to do with them ? 
asked Blaine. I shall not show them to the committee 
unless called upon to do so, was the reply. I shall not 
publish them unless my testimony is impeached. There- 
upon Blaine refused to surrender the letters maintaining 
that, as he had written them, they were his property. 1 On 
June 1 and 2 Hunton asked Blaine to deliver the letters 
to the Committee. He refused and on the 2d presented 
a letter from J. S. Black and Matt. H. Carpenter, his 
counsel, saying that the letters had " no relevancy what- 
ever to the matter under inquiry " and advising Blaine 
to resist any demand for them to the last extremity. 2 

It was obvious that if the matter was left thus, the 
judgment of the country would be against Blaine for 
whom the disclosures could have been made at no more 
unfortunate time. The National Republican convention 
was to meet in Cincinnati on June 14 and Blaine was 
the most prominent candidate for the presidential nomi- 
nation. The charge must be met in some way and 

1 Doc. 176, p. 98. Blaine gave a different account of the interview, p. 105, 
but he made so many misstatements in his defence that I do not consider 
him a credible witness. Both agreed that he now had possession of the 
letters. They never went out of his possession afterwards. 

2 Ibid., p. 110. 


Blaine nerved himself for a supreme effort. Rising in 
the House on June 5 to a question of privilege he as- 
serted that the resolution commanding an investigation 
was aimed solely at him, that because of his speech in 
January the feelings of the Southerners " were peculiarly 
exasperated " toward him, that while there were seven 
Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, the Chairman in 
making up the sub-committee, took for its majority 
" the two who were from the South and had been in the 
rebel army." 1 Having the complete sympathy of the 
Republican members, the spectators on the floor and in 
the galleries he made an earnest and common-sense plea 
for the inviolability of private correspondence and then 
went on : "I have defied the power of the House to 
compel me to produce these letters. . . . But, sir, having 
vindicated that right, standing by it, ready to make any 
sacrifice in the defence of it ... I am not afraid to 
show the letters. Thank God Almighty I am not 
ashamed to show them. There they are [holding up a 
package of letters]. There is the very original package. 
And with some sense of humiliation, with a mortification 
that I do not pretend to conceal, with a sense of outrage 
which I think any man in my position would feel, I in- 
vite the confidence of 44,000,000 of my countrymen 
while I read those letters from this desk." Blaine then 
read the letters with running comments and closed his 
speech with a dramatic stroke. 

J. C. Reed, a friend or self-constituted champion of 
Blaine's, had cabled to Josiah Caldwell in London urg- 
ing him to telegraph to the chairman of the Judiciary 
Committee that he corroborated fully Scott's testimony. 
He at once complied with the request. Proctor Knott, 
chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, received 
the despatch on June I, 2 but unwisely refrained from 

1 Hunton and Ashe. Ashe denied having been in the Confederate army. 

2 Cong. Record, Aug. 3, 1876, pp. 5126-5128. 


presenting it to the Committee. Caldwell's character was 
not high and a mere affirmation of his could not add the 
slightest weight to Scott's testimony, but Elaine, know- 
ing that the cablegram had been sent, asked Knott, after 
he had finished reading the letters, if he had received a 
despatch from Caldwell. Knott parried the question 
for a moment then admitted that he had and demanded 
of Elaine, " How did you hear it ? " Elaine thus 
replied, " I heard you got a despatch last Thursday 
morning at eight o'clock from Josiah Caldwell com- 
pletely and absolutely exonerating me from this charge 
and you have suppressed it." The applause was loud 
and long. An iteration of this statement with some en- 
largement of it ended the speech and there ensued 
" protracted applause from the floor and the galleries." l 
" I never saw such a scene in the House," said Garfield. 2 
It was, said Proctor Knott, " one of the most extraor- 
dinary exhibitions of histrionic skill, one of the most 
consummate pieces of acting that ever occurred upon any 
stage on earth." 8 The feeling of enthusiastic Republicans 
who were present was undoubtedly well expressed in 
one of the family letters printed in Gail Hamilton's Life 
of Elaine : " There never was such a rout. Knott and 
Hunton were deserted even by their own party ; not one 
of the leading Democrats came to their aid. The cheer- 
ing when Mr. Elaine marched down the aisle and charged 
Knott with having suppressed the telegram was inde- 
scribable. It seemed to come up from all over the 
House. It was wild and long and deep. It was a 
perfect roar of triumph. Knott seemed to shrink 
visibly in the hot flame of wrath." 4 And the mass of 
Republicans who read the account in their newspapers 
thought that Elaine had won a complete triumph and 

1 Cong. Record, June 6, 1876, pp. 3602-3608. 

2 Appletons' Cyclopaedia of Biography, article Elaine. 

8 Cong. Record, Aug. 3, 1876, p. 6126. * P. 392. 


their faith in him abided for the rest of his life. " II 
faut de 1'audace, et encore de 1'audace et toil jours de 
1'audace." Elaine's defence was a master-stroke. But 
it was that of a criminal in the dock not that of a can- 
didate for President whose acts while speaker were 
questioned. In committee he and his friends made use 
of many quibbles known to the law to prevent the 
elicitation of the whole truth : and it is probable that 
the evidence would not have convicted him in the 
court-room. Perhaps the fencing in committee may be 
excused as he was on trial by a majority of his political 
opponents but in his two speeches when he presented 
his case to the House and his fellow-countrymen, he 
owed it to his position if he was innocent, to answer 
frankly every charge and explain every suspicious cir- 
cumstance, concealing nothing, welcoming the fullest 
inquiry. He not only failed to do this but in his speech 
of April 24, he told six distinct falsehoods. 1 His speech 
of June 5 was full of evasions ; and the process of throw- 
ing dust into men's eyes was effectively used. He did 
not read the letters in their chronological order, nor all 
that he had taken from Mulligan ; and there was a sus- 
picion that he did not read some correctly and that 
those which he omitted were more damaging than those 
which he read. 

Be this as it may, the letters printed in the Congres- 
sional Record in connection with those disclosed in 1884 
when Blaine was running for President, and in the light 
of the attending circumstances, must lead the historical 
critic to a belief in the strong probability of Blaine's 
guilt. " I know but little of your obligations to deliver 
bonds to others " [than his Maine friends], wrote Fisher 
November 8, 1871 ; " but, taking into account the 1100,000 
bonds you sold to Tom Scott and the amount of money 
you received on the Eastern contracts, our relative posi- 

i Blaine's Record, Storey, p. 9. 


tions financially in the Little Rock and Fort Smith Rail- 
road bear a wide contrast." 1 " Of all the parties 
connected with the Little Rock and Fort Smith Rail- 
road," wrote Fisher to Elaine, April 16, 1872, "no one 
has been so fortunate as yourself in obtaining money 
out of it. You obtained subscriptions from your friends 
in Maine for the building of the Little Rock and Fort 
Smith Railroad. Out of their subscriptions you obtained 
a large amount both of bonds and money free of cost to 
you. I have your own figures and know the amount. 
Owing to your political position you were able to work 
off all your bonds at a very high price ; and the fact is 
well known to others as well as myself. Would your 
friends in Maine be satisfied if they knew the facts ? " 2 
To this Blaine two days later replied : The sales of 
bonds which you spoke of my making, and which you 
seem to have thought were for my benefit, were entirely 
otherwise. I did not have the money in my possession 
forty-eight hours but paid it over directly to the parties 
whom I tried by every means in my power to protect 
from loss " 8 [the Maine friends]. 

Elaine's speech of June 5 is not the speech of an 
innocent man ; but no more adroit and powerful plea 
from an avaricious man, who had made money 
illicitly, can be imagined. It convinced many men of 
the highest honour and the majority of the Republican 
party that he had been wrongfully accused. But for the 
verdict of history, a cold statement in dollars and cents 
showing what had become of his Little Rock and Fort 
Smith bonds would have been more to the point than 
his impassioned rhetoric and fervid declamation. Blaine 
had from different sources, as shown by Moorfield Storey, 
at least $160,000 first-mortgage and $123,000 land-grant 
bonds. He turned in at the reorganization of the road 

1 Letter made public Sept. 15, 1884. Elaine's Record, Storey, p. 43. 
3 Ibid., p. 44. Cong. Becord, p. 3606. 

270 ELAINE'S SWOON [1876 

$48,000 land-grant and 119,000 first-mortgage bonds, leav- 
ing $75,000 land-grants and $141,000 first-mortgage unac- 
counted for. 1 Blaine (I believe) never explained what 
became of them nor have any of his friends. It is fair to 
presume therefore that they were disposed of to those three 
railroad companies at a price far exceeding their value. 

After Elaine's speech of June 5 the sub-committee held 
three sessions ; at the last one on Saturday, June 10, 
Hunton, the chairman, demanded of Blaine the produc- 
tion of the Mulligan letters and Blaine declined to de- 
liver them ; nor were they ever afterwards out of his 
possession. The committee adjourned until Monday 
but on the intervening Sunday after a walk to church 
through hot streets he sank down on the church steps in 
a swoon. This attack and the ensuing physical prostra- 
tion put an end to the investigation. Before he recov- 
ered, Morrill, senator from Maine, became Secretary of 
the Treasury succeeding Bristow. The Governor of 
Maine appointed Blaine for the vacant senatorship, a 
choice which the legislature ratified on its assembling 
and also elected him senator for six years from March 4, 
1877. The jurisdiction of the House over him was doubt- 
ful and when Congress met in December a graver question 
engrossed its attention. The Committee never made a 
report. 2 

On June 14 the National Republican Convention met 
in Cincinnati. There were many candidates for the 
nomination but the candidacy of one, who in other cir- 
cumstances might have been pressed, was eliminated. 
Soon after his second inauguration it began to be noised 

1 Elaine's Record, p. 20. 

2 My authorities are Blame's Record, Storey ; Testimony before the sub- 
committee on the Judiciary ; Cong. Becord ; Life of Blaine, Stanwood ; Life 
of Blaine, Gail Hamilton ; Life of Bowles, Merriam ; The Nation for 1876 ; 
see also letter of William Walter Phelps in The Nation of May 1, 1884 and 
The Nation's reply. 


abroad that Grant would be a willing candidate for a 
third term, the talk proceeding largely from a coterie of 
political and personal friends. The opposition press 
took the movement seriously and maintained > that we 
were " drifting upon the rock of Caesarism." 1 But the 
Democratic success in the autumn of 1874 was a severe 
blow to the movement. On May 29, 1875 Grant felt 
impelled to write a public letter which may be fairly 
interpreted as a grudging declination to be a candidate 
for a third term. 2 The Republican party construed it as 
a refusal ; the disclosures of the Whiskey Ring and the 
corruption of Belknap lent overpowering weight to this 
construction. It is doubtful whether in any event the 
movement could have gained a large degree of force. 
The country was opposed to a departure from the time- 
honoured precedent of Washington and a resolution 
affirming the sacredness of this was voted by the House 
in December 1875 with only 18 dissentients. 8 

Two political legatees of Grant, Conkling and Mor- 
ton, were prominent candidates ; each had the backing 
of his own State. As between the two, Grant, so far as 
any word of his went out, was strictly neutral, although 
he preferred Conkling because of his sounder financial 
views, but believing it probable that a " dark horse " 
would win the prize he had fixed upon Hamilton Fish 
and had written a letter to be used in his favour should 
the proper opportunity offer. 4 Nast had the same idea 
and shortly before the convention suggested Fish and 
Hayes as the ticket. 5 

Elaine had the strongest following and would unques- 
tionably have been nominated had not the charge of 
personal corruption been fastened upon him. His 

1 New York Herald, Life of Nast, Paine, p. 282. 

2 Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1875, p. 743. 
8 Dec. 15, the vote was 233 : 18, Record, p. 228. 

4 Around the World with General Grant, J. R. Young, vol. ii. p. 275. 
6 Life of Nast, Paine, p. 331 ; see Harper's Weekly, June 24. 


strength lay largely in the Republican States whose 
electoral votes would surely be cast for the nominee of 
the convention : from this statement New England must 
be excepted as Elaine received from that section the 
solid vote of no State but his own. Massachusetts gave 
19 of her 26 votes for Bristow the reformers' candidate l 
arid her potent influence was in opposition to Elaine. 
It must be borne in mind that the delegates to the con- 
vention had been chosen before the most damaging dis- 
closures against him had been made and that public, 
personal and geographical conditions had determined 
their instructions and their preferences. Elaine was for- 
tunate in being placed before the delegates in one of the 
most eloquent of convention speeches, which, beginning 
with an apt reply to Dana's statement marshalled the 
considerations likely to have weight with the tumultuous 
crowd. Richard H. Dana in seconding the nomination 
of Bristow on the part of Massachusetts, said : " I tell 
you, gentlemen of the convention, I know no other name 
which is sure to carry the old Commonwealth of Massa- 
chusetts next November. . . . Massachusetts is satisfied 
with the loyalty of Benjamin H. Bristow." As Dana 
sat down Robert G. Ingersoll rose to present Blaine on 
the part of Illinois and said : " Massachusetts may be 
satisfied with the loyalty of Benjamin H. Bristow. So 
am I. But if any man nominated by this convention 
cannot carry the State of Massachusetts, I am not satis- 
fied with the loyalty of Massachusetts. If the nominee 
of this convention cannot carry the grand old Common- 
wealth by 75,000 majority I would advise them to sell 
out Faneuil Hall as a Democratic head-quarters. I would 
advise them to take from Bunker Hill their old monu- 
ment of glory." Proceeding with a long list of demands 
which the Republicans made on a leader he touched 
upon the consideration which marred Elaine's chance 

1 On the 3, 4, 6 and 6 ballots five votes went to Blaine, two to Wheeler. 


and the one which gave him peculiar strength. " They 
demand," he said, " a man whose political reputation is 
spotless as a star ; but they do not demand that their 
candidate shall have a certificate of moral character 
signed by the Confederate Congress. . . . They call for 
the man who has torn from the throat of treason the 
tongue of slander ; the man who has snatched the mask 
of Democracy from the hideous face of the rebellion. . . . 
Like an armed warrior, like a plumed knight James G. 
Elaine marched down the halls of the American Congress 
and threw his shining lance full and fair against the 
brazen forehead of every traitor to his country and every 
maligner of his fair reputation. For the Republican 
party to desert that gallant man now is as though an 
army should desert their general upon the field of 
battle. ... In the name of those that perished in the 
skeleton clutch of famine at Andersonville and Libby, 
whose sufferings he so vividly remembers, Illinois 
Illinois nominates, etc." 1 The presentation of the 
remaining candidates followed immediately and it was 
thought that if the balloting had begun on that 
day Elaine would have been nominated but compelled, 
so Elaine wrote in his history, by " the gathering 
shades of evening " 2 the convention at 5.15 P.M. decided 
to adjourn. 

It was clearly a case of Elaine against the field and 
it was evident that the nomination would go to 
him, or Bristow, or some candidate who had hardly 
been dreamed of as a probability. Bristow had com- 
mended himself to the reformers by his prosecution of 
the whiskey thieves, which, joined to his sterling quali- 
ties, eminently fitted him for their candidate. He was 
strongly supported by a number of influential news- 
papers and, had he lived north of the Ohio River, might 

1 Official Proceedings of the National Republican Conventions, Johnson, 
pp. 294-296. 2 Vol. ii. p. 571. 


have been nominated, but he could not secure the elec- 
toral vote of his own State of Kentucky and there were 
grave doubts among many Republicans whether or not 
it were wise to choose their candidate from a State 
whose sympathy was with the South. Two other fa- 
vourite sons were placed in nomination, Hartranft the 
Governor of Pennsylvania and Marshall Jewell, the 
actual Postmaster-General, who was looked upon as 
representing in the cabinet with Bristow the cause of 
administrative reform. Neither had any chance but it 
was an important question to whom would their votes 
go. Finally Rutherford B. Hayes had been commended 
to the country by John Sherman in a cogent public 
letter and he had the unanimous support of his State. 

The balloting began on Friday, June 16. On the first 
ballot Blaine had 285, Morton 124, Bristow 113, Conk- 
ling 99, Hayes 61, Hartranft 58, Jewell 11. Bristow 
reached his highest vote, 126, on the fourth ballot ; on 
the sixth he had 111 to Hayes 113 and Blaine 308. 
Blaine, seated near the telegraph instrument in his own 
house in Washington, where he watched the progress of 
the balloting noted that Hayes, unlike all the other 
candidates, had gained on each successive vote and ex- 
pressed the opinion that he would be nominated. Michi- 
gan had started the movement toward Hayes by giving 
him her solid vote on the fifth and sixth ballots. On the 
seventh Indiana withdrew Morton and gave Hayes 25 
votes, Kentucky withdrew Bristow in his favour, New 
York withdrew Conkling and gave him 61, Pennsylvania 
withdrew Hartranft and gave him 28. Twenty-one 
of the Massachusetts delegates voted for Hayes. The 
ballot stood Hayes 384, Blaine 351, Bristow 21, Hayes 
receiving but five votes more than was necessary for a 
choice. On the motion of William P. Frye, one of 
Blaine's trusted lieutenants, the nomination was made 
unanimous. There was a strong undercurrent of feel- 
ing in Pennsylvania and New York for Blaine and, when 




the break-up came, more votes would have gone to him 
from those States had it not been for the conviction that 
he was a vulnerable candidate. John Hay, in a letter to 
Blaine of June 17, gave a different explanation of the 
result. " It is a bitter disappointment to all of us," he 
wrote, " but still we can see that you received the great- 
est personal tribute yesterday which has ever been given 
to a public man in this country. Without a single ma- 
chine vote, in face of the most energetic machine work, 
you had not only your three hundred and fifty-one votes, 
but also the cowardly good-will of the Ohio and Penn- 
sylvania delegations, three-fourths of whom would have 
voted for you if they had dared defy the machine lash." 1 
John Sherman affirms that Blaine was the favourite of 
the convention but that the antagonism of Conkling 
probably defeated him. 2 

It will be remembered that Blaine swooned on the 

1 Life of Blaine, Gail Hamilton, p. 418. 

2 Recollections, vol. i. p. 550. Conkling, being intensely vindictive, had 
never forgiven Blaine for his remarks in the House on April 30, 1866. Re- 
ferring to Conkling, Blaine said : "As to the gentleman's cruel sarcasm, I 
hope he will not be too severe. The contempt of that large-minded gentle- 
man is so wilting ; his haughty disdain, his grandiloquent swell, his majestic, 
supereminent, overpowering, turkey-gobbler strut has been so crushing to 
myself and all the members of this House, that I know it was an act of the 
greatest temerity for me to venture upon a controversy with him. But, sir, I 
know who is responsible for all this. I know that within the last five weeks, 
as members of the House will recollect, an extra strut has characterized the 
gentleman's bearing. It is not his fault. It is the fault of another. That 
gifted and satirical writer, Theodore Tilton, of the New York Independent, 
spent some weeks recently in this city. His letters published in that paper 
embraced, with many serious statements, a little jocose satire, apart of which 
was the statement that the mantle of the late Winter Davis had fallen upon 
the member from New York. The gentleman took it seriously and it has 
given his strut additional pomposity. The resemblance is great. It is 
striking. Hyperion to a satyr, Thersites to Hercules, mud to marble, dunghill 
to diamond, a singed cat to a Bengal tiger, a whining puppy to a roar- 
ing lion. Shade of the mighty Davis, forgive the almost profanation of that 
jocose satire ! " Globe, p. 2299. An account of this debate is given by 
Gail Hamilton, chap. ix. See also Conkling and Elaine-Fry controversy, 
J. B. Fry. 


steps of his church on Sunday, June 11. Two days later 
he sent a despatch to his friends in Cincinnati saying that 
he was " entirely convalescent suffering only from physi- 
cal weakness." 1 In his defeat he displayed one of his 
best traits sending to Hayes at once an earnest assurance 
of his support. Stan wood writes that he " was really 
not seriously disappointed" at the result, a statement 
easy to believe, as with Blaine as presidential candi- 
date the issue must have been, as it was eight years 
later, his personal character. 2 

William A. Wheeler of New York was nominated for 
Vice-President by acclamation after a ballot had pro- 
ceeded far enough to show that he was the undoubted 
choice of the convention. 3 

On June 28 the National Democratic Convention met 
in St. Louis and adopted a platform remarkable for its 
positive and vigorous expression. The authorship of it 
was attributed to Manton Marble, the accomplished 
editor of the New York World, and it had indeed a 
literary symmetry rare in such documents. It made a 
powerful arraignment of the Grant administration and 
the Republican party ; declaring that reform was im- 
possible within the party now in power and that the 

1 Gail Hamilton, p. 396. 

* My authorities are Official Proceedings of Republican National Conven- 
tions, Johnson ; Stanwood, History of the Presidency, Life of Blaine ; Gail 
Hamilton, Life of Blaine ; John Sherman's Recollections, vol. 1 ; George F. 
Hoar, Autobiography, vol. 1 ; Life of Morton, Foulke, vol. ii. 

8 George F. Hoar wrote, " As soon as the nomination of President Hayes 
was declared in the Convention I spent a very busy hour in going about 
among the delegates whom I knew, especially those from the Southern 
States, to urge upon them the name of Mr. Wheeler as a suitable person for 
Vice-President. I have no doubt I secured for him a great many votes, and 
that those votes secured him his nomination. James Russell Lowell was a 
Massachusetts delegate. He was a little unwilling to vote for a person of 
whom he had no more knowledge. I said to him : ' Mr. Lowell, Mr. Wheeler 
is a very sensible man. He knows the Biglow Papers by heart.' Lowell gave 
no promise in reply. But I happened to overhear him, as he sat behind me, 
saying to James Freman Clarke, I think it was, ' I understand that Mr. 
Wheeler is a very sensible man.' " Autobiography, vol. i. p. 244. 


situation demanded a change of measures and men, it 
asked the people to intrust the Democrats with the con- 
duct of the government, promising financial, tariff, civil 
service and administrative reform. It also promised 
economy in expenditures, and, while accepting the 
three constitutional amendments " as a final settlement 
of the controversies that engendered civil war," called 
for home rule at the South. The convention nominated 
Samuel J. Tilden of New York for President and 
Thomas A. Hendricks of Indiana for Vice-President, the 
strongest men in their respective States, the electoral 
votes of which were necessary for the success of the 
Democrats. The only possible objection to Hendricks 
but it was a grave one was that he was unsound 
on the financial question, but, as the hard-money Demo- 
crats dictated the platform and the candidate for Presi- 
dent, something had to be conceded to the soft-money 
wing of the party. 

Tilden, now sixty-two years old, was a man of varied 
talents. An able corporation lawyer, he had a good 
head for business and had amassed a fortune. Selfish 
and exacting, he nevertheless believed that honesty is 
the best policy and acted accordingly. Active for a 
long while in State politics without holding office, he 
had no national reputation until the overthrow of the 
Tweed ring in which he bore an honourable part. 
Entering upon his duties as governor 1 in January 1875 
he soon made an attack on the corrupt canal ring, an 
organization composed of both political parties that stole 
considerable sums from the State by making excessive 
charges for repairs and by drawing money for work 
never done at all. He succeeded in overthrowing the 
ring ; and this with his excellent messages and speeches 
on national affairs showed that he had sound ideas of 
government and courage to execute them. Yale College 

1 He was elected governor of New York in the autumn of 1874. Ante. 


showed its appreciation of his work by conferring upon 
him the degree of Doctor of Laws. During 1875 and 
1876, until the conventions met, the two men who stood 
conspicuously before the country for reform were Tilden 
and Bristow. The Democrats, with their platform and 
the ticket of Tilden and Hendricks, had made their most 
powerful possible combination and might well hope for 
victory. 1 

In 1872 the voter for President had a choice of evils ; 
in 1876 either vote was a good one. " There is very 
little to choose between the candidates," wrote Lowell ; 
"though so far as the South is concerned, I rather 
sympathize with the Democrats." 2 

Hayes, now in his fifty-fourth year, a native of Ohio, 
commanding universal respect at home, was until 1875 
unknown outside of his own State, although he had 
served one term in the national House. A brave soldier 
during the war, wounded at South Mountain, he obtained 
the rank of brevet-major-general but achieved no dis- 
tinction. He was now serving his third term as gov- 
ernor and in the canvass of 1875 had shown his mettle. 
Hardly any one in the East understood what it meant 
for one aspiring to high office to be an unfaltering hard- 
money man in Ohio at that day, but Hayes had worked 
out his opinions for himself; he knew that he was 
right and he was immovable. The thought always 
uppermost with him was how best to respond to the 
call of duty ; and this it was which drew him into the 
public arena when he preferred the pleasures of private 
life. Inheriting a considerable estate in 1874 and enjoy- 
ing the comforts of his northern Ohio home, he was 
loath to leave it but his party deemed him the strongest 
man to make the fight against William Allen and infla- 

1 See Life of Tilden, Bigelow, vol. i. ; Elaine, vol. ii. ; History of the 
Presidency, Stanwood ; Life of Bowles, Merriam. 

2 July 12, Letters, vol. ii. p. 174. 


tion and, when that became clear to him, he hesitated 
no longer to enter upon the stubborn contest. Honest 
by nature, the idea never entered his head that he could 
in the slightest degree, for whatever cause, swerve from 
the path of honour. His judgment was sound, not from 
intuition, but based on intelligent reasoning. A graduate 
of Kenyon College he was a good student in his active 
life, reading good books and frequenting the society of 
educated men. Slow in thought, speech and action, 
when once he made up his mind, he was inflexible and 
not tormented by vain regrets. He never had to waste 
time and nervous energy in explaining away words and 
acts in his past career. Lacking the brilliant parts and 
personal magnetism of Elaine and Garfield, he won his 
way by plodding industry towards a never changing 
goal. Given to deep reflexion, he enriched our political 
idiom with, " He serves his party best who serves the 
country best." l 

From such a man might have been expected by those 
who knew him such a letter as really issued from his 
pen [July 8] but its directness and sound doctrine were 
a complete and agreeable surprise to the reformers of 
the East. His discussion of one subject would have 
fitted an address to a Civil Service Reform convention. 
" More than forty years ago," he wrote, " a system of 
making appointments to office grew up, based upon the 
maxim, < To the victors belong the spoils.' The old 
rule, the true rule, that honesty, capacity and fidelity, 
constitute the only real qualifications for office, and that 
there is no other claim, gave place to the idea that party 
services were to be chiefly considered. . . . This system 
ought to be abolished. The reform should be thorough, 
radical and complete. We should return to the principles 

1 John Sherman's letter of Jan. 21, 1876, Recollections, vol. i. p. 522 ; The 
Nation, June 22-29, pp. 390, 408 ; Carl Schurz's article, Appletons' Cyclo- 
paBdia of Biography. 

280 TILDEN'S LETTER [1876 

and practice of the founders of the government, supply- 
ing by legislation, when needed, that which was formerly 
the established custom. They neither expected nor 
desired from the public officer any partisan service. 
They meant that public officers should owe their whole 
service to the government and to the people. They 
meant that the officer should be secure in his tenure as 
long as his personal character remained untarnished and 
the performance of his duties satisfactory. If elected, 
I shall conduct the administration of the government 
upon these principles, and all the constitutional powers 
vested in the Executive will be employed to establish 
this reform." l Carl Schurz could not have been sounder 
on finance. Hayes demanded the resumption of specie 
payments and he spoke of the pacification of the South 
with comprehension and sympathy. 

Hayes's letter was a great improvement on the glit- 
tering generalities and, to some extent, unmeaning 
declarations of the Republican platform but Tilden's 
[July 31] fell far below the manifesto of the Democratic 
convention and was a disappointment to those who had 
studied his words and acts as governor. The timidity 
and vacillation of his character were displayed in the 
larger field of thought. Apparently fearful of repelling 
the support of some sections, he indulged in common- 
places and paltered with the financial question. In 
other respects his letter was laboured and evasive. One 
word that he employed caused merriment to the wits of 
the campaign. Discussing the holding of the offices by 
" a body of political mercenaries " he wrote, " The pub- 
lic interest in an honest skilful performance of official 
trust must not be sacrificed to the usufruct of the 
incumbents." 2 This was seized upon with derision and 
the appellation " old usufruct Tilden " coined. 

Mark Twain declared outspokenly for Hayes. The 

l Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1876, p. 783. 2 Ibid., p. 790. 


letter of acceptance, he said, " corralled " his vote at 
once. A Tilden Club, having asked him to assist at 
their flag-raising and give counsel, his counsel, expressed 
"in the kindest manner," was, "not to raise their flag." 1 
In their letters Tilden and Hayes placed before the 
country questions of administration, both looking to 
improvement and both thoroughly competent for the 
work which they had set out to perform ; but they 
could not determine the issues on which the campaign 
was fought. It soon became manifest that in a contest 
on such lines the Republicans would be placed on the 
defensive and at a decided disadvantage; for it was 
difficult to defend the Grant administration, so severely 
had it been condemned in the house of its friends. The 
tu quoque argument was tried in a criticism of the Demo- 
cratic House of Representatives, but this was welcome 
ground for the Democrats. Despite some shortcomings, 
through ignorance and inexperience, it was the best 
House that had sat in Washington for at least six years. 
It showed its character in the choice of its speaker, 
elevating to that high place Michael C. Kerr of Indiana, 
one of its wisest and purest members, one of the most 
honourable men in public life whose conduct of his 
office was in sharp and wholesome contrast with that 
of his predecessors Blaine and Colfax. 2 He favoured 
resumption of specie payments but could not lead the 
House in that direction as his party in the West and 
South was not sound on finance. He was an advocate 
of a reduction of the tariff and appointed a Committee 
of Ways and Means that framed a good tariff bill which 
however received little consideration from the House. 8 

1 Boston Daily Advertiser, Aug. 17. 

2 u Mr. Kerr was, we believe, the only man in public life, investigated 
during the session, who not merely proved that the charges against him were 
unfounded, but came out of the ordeal with a reputation strengthened by the 
attacks made upon it." The Nation, Aug. 24. 

8 Stanwood, American Tariff Controversies, vol. ii. p. 195. 


But the action of many of his committees gave an invig- 
orating tone to public life. 1 A Democratic committee 
seconded Bristow in his prosecution of the whiskey 
thieves ; other committees exposed Belknap, found out 
Blaine, and showed up the extravagance and lawlessness 
of the Navy Department. The House cut down the 
appropriations nearly thirty millions 2 and would have 
effected still greater economies had it not been blocked 
by the Senate that " secret and irresponsible club," in 
the words of Lowell, which governed the country " for 
their own private benefit." 3 Kerr was a martyr to 
public duty. Afflicted with a wasting disease, which rest 
and a change of climate might have stayed, he stuck to 
his post and died a few days after Congress adjourned. 4 
Although Blaine could not compass the nomination, 
he determined in his speech of January in the House 
the main issue of the campaign. To abuse the South 
and revive the passions of the war was his aim and the 
aim of those who wrought with him ; and a dastardly 
massacre of five negroes at Hamburg, South Carolina 
furthered this purpose. This was a line of speech wel- 
come to Morton and he declared in the Senate : " My 
Democratic friends have but two arguments in this 
campaign. The argument has been in the South vio- 
lence, intimidation ; and the argument in the North is 
the cry of reform and corruption. The first argument 
is the shot-gun, the revolver, the bowie-knife, and it is 

1 The influence of the choice of Kerr as speaker "has been felt through- 
out the session, and has had the result of making it exceptionally free from 
the taint of questionable legislation of any kind." The Nation, Aug. 24. 

2 The Nation, Aug. 24, p. 112 ; Eandall's speech, Aug. 14, 1876, Eecord, 
p. 5608. An examination of the official estimates and statements of appro- 
priations leads me to the opinion that Randall's estimate of the amount of 
reduction, $29,944,000, was full high. 

3 April 10, Letters, vol. ii. p. 161. 

4 President Grant announced his death in a proclamation of Aug. 21, 
characterizing him thus, "A man of great intellectual endowments, large 
culture, great probity and earnestness in his devotion to the public interests." 


sharp and murderous ; and the second argument is false 
and hypocritical." J 

The argument based on outrages on the negroes at the 
South by white Democrats was called in political par- 
lance " waving the bloody shirt " ; and the endeavour 
was made to associate with it in the Northern mind a 
dread of the solid South, a classification into which were 
lumped all the former slave States, those which remained 
in the Union as well as those which made up the South- 
ern Confederacy. These cast 138 electoral votes. Should 
they all be given to Tilden, New York and Indiana in 
addition, or New York, New Jersey and Connecticut 
would suffice to elect him. Thus it was asserted that 
it was proposed to govern the country by votes of 
rebels " in conjunction with the slums of New York 
City and the cities of New Jersey assisted perhaps by 
Indiana, whose loyalty during the Civil War was not 
above suspicion. As the " rebel brigadiers " controlled 
the House of Representatives and put into the fat offices 
of that body their soldiers, so would they in like man- 
ner dominate the whole country. " We confront the old 
issue," said Wheeler on the stump. " Let your ballots 
protect the work so effectually done by your bayonets 
at Gettysburg." 2 " We are dealing with a new rebel- 
lion," declared Senator Edmunds. 3 

The "bloody shirt" and the "solid South" placed 
before the people in the impassioned rhetoric of Blaine, 
Robert Ingersoll and Morton proved powerful arguments 
and served to keep the Republicans in the ranks in Ohio 
and Indiana, when otherwise many might have been led 
to forsake their old party allegiance because of the "hard 
times" and by the charge of the Democrats that the party 
in power had done nothing to mitigate them but on the 

1 July 18, Life of Morton, Foulke, vol. ii. p. 411 ; Cong. Record, p. 4689. 

2 Life of Bowles, Men-Jam, vol. ii. p. 278. 
8 TJie Nation, Sept. 14, p. 160. 


contrary had aggravated the conditions by their policy 
of forced resumption. The depression following the 
panic of 1873 continued and there was no indication of 
a revival of business. The financial policy of the Re- 
publican party did not commend itself to manufacturers, 
who were barely making both ends meet, and to la- 
bourers out of employment and, while there was little 
difference between Hayes and Tilden on practical finance, 
yet, as in the East, the Republicans gained votes on the 
ground that their party was the sounder, so, for the 
same reason, they were in danger of losing them in Ohio 
and Indiana. And these two were the most important 
States in the Union as they held their State and congres- 
sional elections in October. " A bloody shirt campaign, 
with money, and Indiana is safe," wrote Kilpatrick 
to Hayes ; " a financial campaign and no money, and 
we are beaten." x Schurz, who was on the Republican 
side, tried, almost in vain, to keep other questions be- 
fore the people and in the excitement of the contest 
Hayes himself was carried along with the tide, writing 
to Blaine just as he was about to start on his stumping 
tour through Ohio and Indiana : " In this State and in 
Indiana the greenback heresy is strong. At the State 
elections all factions of the Democrats will be united 
against us. ... Our strong ground is the dread of a 
solid South, rebel rule, etc., etc. I hope you will make 
these topics prominent in your speeches. It leads people 
away from < hard times ' which is our deadliest foe." 2 
Lowell who intended to vote for Hayes sorrowfully con- 
fessed : " The worst element of the Republican party 
has got hold of the canvass, and everything possible is 
done to stir up the old passions of the war. Of course 
I with all sensible men hate this, but our protest is 

1 Aug. 1, Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1876, p. 410. As to Kilpatrick 
see my vol. v. pp. 24, 89. 

2 Sept. 14, Life of Blaine, Gail Hamilton, p. 422. 


drowned in the drums and trumpets of a presidential 
election." J 

Hayes's personal character was a tower of strength 
on the Republican side but Tilden was vulnerable. The 
Republicans tried to make out that he was a "railroad 
wrecker " or " shark " but this charge does not appear 
to have been sustained. More damaging was the charge 
respecting his income tax return. Although a rich man 
he returned only $7118 as his income for 1862 and next 
year a like small amount. In the years thereafter he 
made no return whatever 2 leaving the amount to be 
estimated by the Federal assessor. It was charged that 
in 1862 he had a net income of 189,000 and had cheated 
the government out of more than $4000. For this ac- 
cusation were furnished particulars, which enabled 
Tilden to make, so far as this year was concerned, a 
good defence. The assumption that, for a rich man, he 
had paid too little in the years when he was assessed, 
as well as in the two when he made a return, was met 
by the explanation that his income-producing property 
was largely in railroad stocks and bonds and other 
securities, on which the tax was deducted by the com- 
panies before the interest and dividends were paid. 8 
While Tilden complied with the law according to the 
conventions of his class and the time, it was another 
thing to affirm that he had paid every cent of income 
tax due from him which a strict and highly conscientious 
interpretation of the statute might have exacted. Had 
he remained a private citizen, the affair would never 
have been heard of but, as candidate for President, 
the Republicans proposed to hold him subject to the 
most rigid demands of honour. 

Nast, playing upon the pseudo-patriotism of the 

1 Sept. 24, Letters, vol. ii. p. 176. 

* With possibly the exception of one year. 

\Tke Nation, Sept. 28, p. 190 ; Life of Tilden, Bigelow, vol. ii. p. 232. 


campaign, made Tilden's selfishness in money matters 
the subject of a cartoon. Tilden, timid and shrinking, 
is placed " between two fires." On one side a Union 
soldier, on the other a Confederate demands "Whose 
side were you on ? " and " Reformed Usufruct " answers, 
I I was busy in court with a Railroad Case" x 

Nast, whose eye was to the doubtful Eastern States 
rather than to Ohio and Indiana, made prominent the 
unreliability of the Democrats on the financial question. 
Picturing inflation as a rag-baby, flabby and limp, need- 
ing constant nursing and support, his first use of it was 
its portrayal as left on Thurman's doorstep, an apt 
allusion to the vain endeavour of the Ohio senator to 
hold fast to sound ideas in a State where his party had 
embraced the cause of inflation. Another cartoon and 
less justifiable displayed Tilden nursing the rag-baby ; 
but the rag-baby for the West and the golden calf for 
the East was a just representation of the sectional 
difference in the Democratic party. 2 

In Ohio and Indiana the canvass was exciting and 
the contest close. Every inch was fought over. The 
prominent men of both parties were in the field arguing 
their cause and begging for votes. In Ohio the large 
number of able men who were running for Congress 
added intensity to the struggle. Stanley Matthews, 
J. D. Cox, Charles Foster, James Monroe, Garfield and 
William McKinley were contestants on the Republican 
side, Frank Kurd and Henry B. Payne on the Demo- 
cratic. 3 Torchlight processions were numerous and on 
the Saturday night previous to the election, so wrought 
up were both sides, that it was feared that collisions 
between the rival bodies might take place a fear 
which happily was not realized. In Indiana Benjamin 
Harrison, Republican, contested the election for governor 

1 Life of Nast, Paine, p. 338. 2 Ibid., pp. 314, 334, 335. 

8 Matthews, Hurd and Payne were not elected. 


with Blue Jeans " Williams, a simple and honest farmer 
whose sobriquet came from his garb. 

On Tuesday October 10 the two States voted. The 
Republicans carried Ohio by 6636, the Democrats Indiana 
by 5084. Different from nearly all previous October 
elections in presidential years, these indicated nothing 
but that the contest would still be stubborn and close. 
All eyes were directed to New York. Tilden must have 
it to win ; it also seemed necessary for Hayes. 

The management of the campaign on both sides was 
skilful. Chandler, Grant's Secretary of the Interior, 
was chairman of the Republican National Committee 
and Abram S. Hewitt occupied a similar position in the 
Democratic party but Tilden himself had much to do 
with the conduct of his own campaign. An adept in 
the running of political machinery, he was vacillating 
when confronted with a troublesome question of State. 
The Republicans asserted that if the Democrats gained 
control of the government they would pay the " South- 
ern claims," that is the debt of the Confederacy and the 
losses and damages incurred by the Southerners during 
the war and that they would further provide for com- 
pensation for the slaves. Solicitous in regard to the 
effect of this iterated and reiterated assertion Hewitt 
wrested from Tilden an emphatic declaration against 
such a policy and a promise to " veto every bill " provid- 
ing for the payment of such claims. With Tilden's 
letter once in his hand, Hewitt hastened to publish it 
lest he might change his mind and refuse to express 
himself in so positive a way. 

The Republican National Committee freely levied as- 
sessments on the office-holders for their campaign fund 
and Chandler was a ruthless collector. The Democrats 
criticised this practice and the Republicans retorted that 
Tilden was spending an enormous sum of money to secure 
his election. " Uncle Sammy's bar'l " was a favourite 
phrase and Nast depicted Tilden emptying a large barrel 


of greenbacks or bank-notes into the ballot-box, summing 
up in his cartoon the issues of the campaign : " The shot- 
gun policy South, the barrel policy North ; " " The solid 
South and the solid Tammany;" "Mr. Tilden's War 
record, defeating the tax collector." l 

" Bulldozing " tactics do not seem to have been used 
to any great extent, if at all, in the South except in 
South Carolina. The best argument for the Democrats 
in the Northern States was tranquillity in the South and 
the whole influence of their party was exerted to this 
end. But in South Carolina, negro rule had been so 
horrible that her white people had become desperate, 
and, to throw it off, had adopted the " Mississippi plan." 
They believed, wrote Daniel H. Chamberlain in 1901, 
that their choice lay " between violence and lawlessness 
for a time and misrule for all time " and they therefore 
conducted the campaign "as if it were a life or death 
combat." 2 The Hamburg massacre and Chamberlain's 
denunciation of it prevented the most logical and com- 
mon-sense course, the endorsement of Chamberlain for 
governor by the Democrats, who nominated instead a 
" straight-out " ticket with Wade Hampton at its head. 
Chamberlain was nominated for governor by the Repub- 
licans and the contest was bitter, but he has since be- 
come its impartial historian. " The progress of the 
canvass developed," he wrote in 1901, "not only into 
violence of words and manner, but into breaches of the 
peace, interference with public meetings called by one 
party and latterly into widespread riots. . . . The con- 
cealments of the canvass on these points have long been 
remitted with the occasion which called for them. It 
is not now denied but admitted and claimed by the 
successful party that the canvass was systematically con- 
ducted with the view to find occasions to apply force and 
violence ; " and there was " a system of violence and 

i Life of Naat, Paine, p. 341. 2 Atlantic Monthly, April 1901, p. 481, 


coercion ranging through all possible grades from urgent 
persuasion " to the rule of the mob. 1 His recollection is 
sustained by the contemporary documents. 2 In October, 
Governor Chamberlain,' 8 believing that he needed aid 
for the suppression of domestic violence, applied for 
United States troops to President Grant who sent a 
force into the State. The election passed off without 

South Carolina however did not furnish " outrages " 
enough for the Republican argument at the North. 
There is evidence that the report of one outrage was a 
base fabrication, 4 and similar mills probably ground out 

1 Atlantic Monthly, April 1901, p. 480. 

2 See Governor Chamberlain's Administration in S.C., Allen. 
8 His first term continued until December. 

4 J. B. Harrison, an observing and truthful correspondent of the New York 
Tribune, wrote on July 20, 1881 : "In Mississippi also I was told by a number 
of Northern people of an account sent to the Northern press during the 
1 Hayes campaign ' which located an atrocious political outrage at the place 
where I was then visiting. These persons seemed reputable and they all 
affirmed that nothing of the kind had ever occurred there. I inquired regard- 
ing the author of the despatch, and learning that he was still living a few 
miles away I went to see him. He laughed when I told him my errand, took 
a fresh chew of tobacco and crossing his feet on the table before him, began 
talking of the affair in an easy fluent indifferent style which seemed to indi- 
cate that he was glad to have somebody to talk with and would as lief talk of 
that subject as any other. ' Then the despatch was not really true,' I said. 
' Well,' he replied, ' it was true as to the spirit of the South generally at that 
time.' ' But why did you say that such and such things happened at a par- 
ticular place if they did not ? ' 4 Well now you know it would not be of any 
account to say at such a time there was lots o' devilish feeling in the South. 
But it rather wakes people up to tell them that something's been done at a 
place they've heard of.' * But it was not true.' But he thought the use of a 
fable or parable was justifiable under the circumstances because it was the 
only way to give point or effectiveness to any account of the conditions of the 
South at that time. 'All writers does pretty much the same thing,' he 
urged ; they have to.' * Oh I hope not,' I said. ' Well, now if you lired 
down here a while you'd find out we have to fight the devil with fire.' The 
Northern people who told me of this occurrence were good Republicans and 
they were especially indignant about the fabrication because it alarmed some 
of their Northern friends who had been prepared to remove to that region 
but were now frightened from their purpose." New York Tribune, Extra, 
Aug. 1881. 


other false accounts which swayed public sentiment in 
the doubtful Northern States. 

This was the Centennial year of American Indepen- 
dence, which had been ushered in by the ringing of bells 
and the firing of cannon, and a great exhibition was held 
in Philadelphia to commemorate the event. The civic 
pride of that city was aroused and, enforced by the 
enthusiastic co-operation of the rest of the State, it in- 
spired an efficient management which organized a 
world's fair fitly to be compared with the Paris Expo- 
sition of 1867 and the Vienna fair of 1873. With the 
education of a mass of our people in art and artistic 
things which this Exhibition began, my story has noth- 
ing to do, but I refer to it as an amenity softening the 
bitterness of the political campaign. The total admis- 
sions were nearly ten millions and this number repre- 
sented the visit of a mass of good-natured people from 
all over the North who forgot for the moment that they 
were Democrats or Republicans in their pride of being 
Americans. The attendance was enormous in October 
and this was the month in which the tension of the 
election was highest. 

The chances seemed about even. It was thought that 
all the Southern States except South Carolina would go 
for Tilden. New York was the pivot and was claimed 
by both parties. Betting men thought the result a fair 
gamble. Morrissey kept open and conspicuous pool- 
rooms in New York City, in which thousands of dollars 
were staked nightly, with the odds in favour of Tilden. 

The excitement had been so intense and prolonged 
that when the polls closed in the afternoon of November 7 
every thoughtful citizen had a sense of profound relief. 1 

1 My authorities are The Nation ; New York Tribune ; Appletons' Annual 
Cyclopaedia, 1876 ; Life of Morton, Foulke, vol. ii. ; Life of Bowles, Merriam, 
vol. ii. ; Life of Elaine, Gail Hamilton ; Sherman's Kecollections, vol. i. ; 
Governor Chamberlain's Administration in S.C., Allen; Life of Tilden, 
Bigelow, vols. i. and ii. I myself have a vivid recollection of this campaign. 


IN cities and towns, it was a common custom for 
men and boys to go out at night to hear the election 
returns. On this November 7 the intense anxiety 
brought from their homes an unusually large number of 
men, who crowded the streets near the newspaper 
offices and filled almost to suffocation the rooms of the 
different headquarters. Others heard the returns at the 
theatres, still others got the news at their clubs. It 
was known early in the evening that New York had 
gone for Tilden and long before midnight that he had 
also carried New Jersey, Connecticut and Indiana. With 
these States sure, it was reckoned that he had the 
" solid South" or enough of it to insure his election by a 
safe majority in the electoral college. Hardly anybody 
can have gone to bed that night with any other idea 
than that Tilden would be the next President. On 
Wednesday, November 8, nearly every morning news- 
paper in the country announced his election. But there 
were two exceptions. The New York Times and the 
New York Herald said that the result was in doubt. 
The Herald asked : " Who is elected president ? As we 
go to press this question is nearly as much of a mystery as 
it was Tuesday morning." In its later and city edition, 
the Times tabulated 184 votes for Tilden and 181 for 
Hayes, placing in the Hayes column, South Carolina 
and Louisiana. Florida, it said, was doubtful but the 
Republicans claimed that State, whose four votes would 



give Hayes 185, a majority of one. 1 \ This news caused 
great excitement in New York, which soon spread 
throughout the country. At two o'clock in the after- 
noon [Wednesday November 8] the Times displayed on 
its bulletin board, the figures, Hayes 185, Tilden 184. 
At half-past ten that evening the Republican National 
Committee issued from the Fifth Avenue Hotel this 
bulletin : " Despatches received at these headquarters 
report that Louisiana, Florida, South Carolina, Wis- 
consin, Oregon, Nevada and California have given Repub- 
lican majorities. There is no reason to doubt the 
correctness of these reports and if confirmed the election 
of Hayes is assured by a majority of one in the electoral 
college." 2 

The excitement continued for a number of days. 
Business was neglected and crowds hung about the 
bulletin boards. The party newspapers made claims 
and counter-claims, but the dispute settled down to 
three States, South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana. 
Tilden had certainly 184 electoral votes : the vote of one 
of these States would elect him. Hayes had undisputed 
166 : he needed South Carolina's 7, Florida's 4 and 

1 Life of Tilden, Bigelow, vol. ii. p. 9. 

3 New York Herald, Nov. 9. I have not been able to find any contem- 
porary authority for the "historic telegram " of Zachariah Chandler said to 
have been sent very early in the morning of Nov. 8, " Rutherford B. Hayes 
has received 185 electoral votes and is elected." Elaine, vol. ii. p. 580. This 
despatch is given in most of the books. In the Life of Chandler (p. 357) no 
day or hour for it is stated but "as soon as the smoke lifted from the battle- 
field his despatch appeared." In 1903 Frederick W. Holls told me that he 
was in Chandler's room at the time that he wrote the telegram and saw it 
or heard it read. At a little after one o'clock in the morning of Nov. 8 
Chandler gave it to a messenger to take to the telegraph office. This account 
is inconsistent with that given by John C. Reid, editor of the news depart- 
ment of the New York Times. Life of Tilden, Bigelow, vol. ii. p. 11. The New 
York Herald of Nov. 9 reports Chandler saying during the afternoon of the 
8th : " There is very little doubt now that Hayes is elected. It did look 
a little blue last night." At 10.30 P. M. of the 8th, " Chandler has just an- 
nounced that if the despatches are correct and he has no reason to doubt 
them Governor Hayes is elected beyond a doubt." 




Louisiana's 8 for the necessary 185. The throngs who 
read or listened and asserted their parties' claims were 
disputatious and excited, although on the whole good- 
natured ; but, as the excitement went on increasing, 
angry conflicts were feared, and the newspapers adjured 
calmness and begged men to cease crowding together in 
the streets and to resume their several vocations. 

A step taken by President Grant began to allay the 
excitement. On November 10, he sent to Sherman, 
the General of the army, this despatch: "Instruct Gen- 
eral Augur in Louisiana and General Ruger in Florida 
to be vigilant with the force at their command to pre- 
serve peace and good order, and to see that the proper 
and legal boards of canvassers are unmolested in the 
performance of their duties. Should there be any 
grounds of suspicion of a fraudulent count on either side 
it should be reported and denounced at once. No man 
worthy of the office of President should be willing to 
hold it if counted in or placed there by fraud. Either 
party can afford to be disappointed in the result. The 
country cannot afford to have the result tainted by the 
suspicion of illegal or false returns." 1 It soon appeared 
that South Carolina's vote honestly belonged to Hayes 
but that, on the face of the returns, Tilden had carried 
Florida and Louisiana. Had these been Northern States 
the dispute would have ceased forthwith. These two 
States would have been conceded to Tilden, and his 
election secured ; but, under the carpet-bag-negro regime, 
the canvassing boards of Florida and Louisiana had the 
power to throw out votes on the ground of intimidation 
or fraud, and these boards were under the control of the 
Republicans. / In Florida the returns of the county 
canvassers gave a majority for the Tilden electors of 90, 
which, because of alleged frauds and irregularities, was 
converted into a majority of 925 for Hayes by two of 

1 Elaine, vol. ii. p. 581 ; Boston Daily Advertiser, Nov. 11. 


the three members of the Board of State Canvassers. 1 
The result was undeniably close and, while the prepon- 
derance of the evidence is in favour of Tilden, impartial 
and honest men might differ about it : that the regular 
certificate should be given to the Hayes electors could 
not be counted a monstrous grievance. 

The great bone of contention was Louisiana ; and 
the scene of the conflict, the turbulent city of New 
Orleans. On November 10, President Grant invited a 
number of prominent Republicans to go to New Orleans 
to witness the canvass of the votes and Abram S. 
Hewitt, chairman of the National Democratic Committee, 
issued a like invitation to Democrats of similar standing. 
Thither repaired twenty-five Republicans and twenty- 
three Democrats./ Among the Republicans were John 
Sherman, Stanley Matthews, J. A. Garfield, W. D. Kelley, 
John A. Kasson, Eugene Hale, Cortlandt Parker, M. S. 
Quay and Lew Wallace. Among the Democrats, John 
M. Palmer, Lyman Trumbull, William R. Morrison, 
Samuel J. Randall, A. G. Curtin, J. E. McDonald, J. R. 
Doolittle, George W. Julian, Henry Watterson and 
W. G. Sumner. ^ These are known as the " visiting 
statesmen." The Democrats by letter asked co-operation 
on the part of their Republican brethren to secure an 
honest count and true return of the votes " but, as the 
Republicans possessed the Returning-Board, 2 they de- 
clined the offer -and stood on the law and the principle 
of non-interference with States' rights. 8 The Returning- 

1 Report 143, 44th Cong. 2d Sess., part. i. p. 3, part ii. p. 7. The Democrats 
on the committee of the House of Representatives that made this report 
maintained that a correction of frauds and irregularities would give a Tilden 
majority of 1600. The Republicans asserted that on the face of the returns 
Hayes had 43 majority, by the recanvass, 21, part ii. p. 33. The canvassing 
board was composed of the Secretary of State, Comptroller, and Attorney- 
General. The two first were Republicans and signed the certificate of the 
Hayes electors. 

2 The name given to the State return ing-board. 

8 See the correspondence, Ex. Doc. No. 2, 44th Cong. 2d Sess., p. 31. 


Board of Louisiana invited committees of five of each 
of the bodies of " visiting statesmen " to attend their 
open meetings. The invitations were accepted and Re- 
publican and Democratic witnesses were present at these 

The Board was composed of James Madison Wells, 
Thomas C. Anderson, and two coloured men, Casanave 
and Kenner, all Republicans. Wells, its president and 
master spirit, now held the lucrative Federal office of the 
surveyor of the port in New Orleans. Concerning him, 
Sheridan wrote in 1867 to Secretary S tan ton : "I say 
now unequivocally that Governor Wells l is a political 
trickster and a dishonest man. . . . His conduct has 
been as sinuous as the mark left in the dust by the 
movement of a snake." Writing to Grant, Sheridan 
charged Wells with " subterfuge and political chicanery " 
and said, " He has not a friend who is an honest man." 2 
Since 1867, Wells had done the unsavory work of Louisi- 
ana politics and had steadily deteriorated in character. 
Anderson was corrupt, Kenner had been indicted for lar- 
ceny and Casanave was an ignorant nonentity. 3 These 
same men composed the Returning-Board of 1874, whose 
action had been condemned by Foster, Phelps, Hoar and 
Wheeler. 4 According to the law, the Democrats should 
have had representation on the Board and, in its original 
constitution, one member had been a Democrat, but he 
resigned in 1874, and, although the Board was repeatedly 
solicited to fill the vacancy, they steadily refused through 
various subterfuges to comply with the statute. 

1 He was then governor of the State. 

2 June 3, 4. S. E. D., 40th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 14, pp. 213-215 ; Apple- 
tons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1867, p. 459. 

3 Report 156, 44th Cong. 2d Sess., part i. p. 7. This is known as the Mor- 
rison report ; Julian's speech Jan. 8, 1877. Later Speeches, p. 147. John 
Sherman's characterization of these men is astounding. Ex. Doc., No. 2, 
p. 6 ; post. 

* Ante; Hoar report, Feb. 19, 1875, p. 19. 


At the sessions which the " visiting statesmen " at- 
tended, the returns from each parish 1 were opened and 
the votes for the presidential electors examined. In 
cases where there were no protests, the returns were 
sent to a private room to be tabulated by clerks, all of 
whom were Republicans I and five of whom were men of 
" notoriously bad character," then under indictment for 
crimes in the criminal courts of Louisiana. 2 Where there 
were protests based on charges of intimidation and fraud, 
testimony was taken on both sides. Much of the evi- 
dence of intimidation was in the form of ex pwrte affi- 
davits, inaccurate as to dates, and some of it was not 
connected with the recent election. Nevertheless some 
intimidation of negro would-be Republican voters by 
white Democrats was clearly shown to have occurred. 
On December 2, the Returning-Board went into secret 
session. 8 Next day, three days before the official canvass 
was completed, the United States Marshal in New Orleans 
telegraphed to West, 4 who was in Washington : "Demo- 
cratic boast entire fallacy. . . . Have seen Wells who 
says, < Board will return Hayes sure. Have no fear.' " 5 
On December 6, the Returning-Board promulgated the 
results of their canvass, declaring that the Hayes electors 
had majorities ranging from 4626 to 4712. On the face of 
the returns, the Tilden electors had majorities varying 
from 6300 to 8957. To change this obvious result the 
Returning-Board threw out 13,250 Democratic votes and 
2042 Republican, 6 a net Democratic disfranchisement 

1 The parish in Louisiana corresponds to the county in other States. 

2 Trumbull, Count of Electoral Votes. Proceedings of Congress and 
Electoral Commission, 1877, p. 305. This will be referred to hereafter 
as Electoral Commission. 

8 Letter of Palmer, Trumbull, Julian and others to Hewitt, Dec. 6. New 
York World, Dec. 12. 

* Republican senator from Louisiana. 6 Morrison report, p. 9. 

6 Palmer-Trumbull-Julian letter. The figures of the Morrison report are 
somewhat different (p. 1) but the differences are not essential. See also 
Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1876, p. 489 ; Electoral Commission, p. 213. 


equivalent relatively to the rejection of 70,000 votes in 
the State of New York. 

No such change from the local and detailed returns 
should have been made except on indisputable evidence, 
by men of the highest character for honesty and fair- 
dealing and through proceedings open to interested 
observers. As a matter of fact, Wells and his satellites 
in secret conclave determined the presidency of the 
United States ; but, before returning the vote of Loui- 
siana for Hayes there is little doubt that he offered to 
give it to Tilden for $200,000. 1 

The most plausible justification of the action of the 
Louisiana Returning-Board may be found in John Sher- 
man's letter to President Grant of December 6. 2 Sherman 

1 The Nation, March 8, 1877, p. 140 ; Trambull, Electoral Commission, 
p.311 ; Speeches and Essays of J.S. Black, p. 325; House Mis. Doc., 44th Cong. 2d 
Sess. , pp. 138, 144, 145, 376-378. But see minority report, same Cong, and Sess. 
No. 100, part iii. pp. 7, 8, 19. The Potter report in 1879 said, " It is true that 
Wells appears to have been for sale, but his price and the payment seem to 
have been the only doubt attending the result." House Report, 46th Cong. 
3d Sess., No. 140, p. 40. The evidence differs in regard to the amount. One 
witness, whose character was impugned by the Republicans, testified that 
Wells wanted $200,000 each for himself and Anderson and smaller sums for 
the 'negroes. 

2 I have assumed that Sherman wrote the letter which is signed by him- 
self and a number of the Republican "visiting statesmen." " Five of the 
parishes selected," he said, u in which the greatest violence and intimidation 
were practised were East and West Feliciana, which border upon that 
portion of Mississippi in which murder and outrage so prevailed, during and 
preceding the election as substantially to prevent any Republican vote ; East 
Baton Rouge, which borders upon the southern portion of East Feliciana ; 
Morehouse, which adjoins the State of Arkansas ; and Ouachita which adjoins 
and lies directly south of Morehouse. The geographical position of these 
five parishes was well suited to the purpose to be attained ; for it was easy 
for the members of the clubs to be formed therein, and who usually perpe- 
trated their outrages with masked faces, to pretend that they were committed 
by border-ruffians from Mississippi and Arkansas where like outrages had 
been perpetrated. The location of these five parishes was not however better 
suited to the plan to be accomplished than was the great disproportion exist- 
ing therein between the number of white and colored voters. The former 
numbered but 5134 ; the latter, 13,244 ; a majority of the latter equal to more 
than one third of the entire majority of colored voters in the fifty-seven 


parishes of the State. The returns of votes actually cast in these five parishes 
suggest that the clubs to whom was assigned the task of securing Democratic 
majorities therein had performed their work of violence and intimidation 
effectually ; while the proof discloses that where violence and intimidation 
were inefficient, murder, maiming, mutilation and whipping were resorted to. 
Instead of a majority of six or seven thousand which the Republicans should 
have had in these parishes upon a fair election, there was actually returned 
to the returning-board a Democratic majority, for the parishes of East and 
West Feliciana, Morehouse and Ouachita, of 3878 ; and in East Feliciana 
where the registered colored voters number 2127, not a Republican vote for 
electors was cast. In East Baton Rouge, containing 3552 colored registered 
voters and but 1801 whites, the Democrats claim a majority of 617. ... If, 
to the Democratic majority from the five parishes as above stated we add the 
617 thus claimed and insisted upon before the returning-board, a Democratic 
majority of 4495 is the result of an election in five parishes containing 13,244 
colored Republicans and but 5134 white Democratic voters. The conclusion 
that intimidation and violence alone could have produced this is almost irre- 
sistible ; and that such influences were employed, and were supplemented by 
murder when that was thought necessary, is established by the proofs already 
referred to." Ex. Doc. No. 2, 44th Cong. 2d Sess., pp. 7, 8. 

Contrariwise Morrison stated : " Intimidation is claimed to have been of 
two kinds : that which deterred colored men from appearing at the polls and 
asserting their right of suffrage and that which forced them against their 
own free choice to vote the Democratic ticket. The first form of intimidation 
finds its refutation in the increased vote over previous elections [16,071 in a 
total of 160,964, p. 1] except in East Feliciana Parish. Here the falling off in 
the vote is accounted for on other grounds, as established by the testimony. 
It was foreseen that the Democratic ticket would prevail by reason of dis- 
satisfaction with local government and maladministration, for which Repub- 
lican officials were responsible. Instructions were sent to the local Republican 
leaders to refrain from voting. No ticket was put forth, and no Re- 
publican vote was cast, it being the predetermined purpose to use this 
voluntary surrender of the right of voting as an argument to sustain the 
charge of intimidation and a pretext for throwing out the vote of the parish, 
which was done. . . . There is no pretence that there was, in this parish of 
East Feliciana or any other, any display of force at the polls. The fact that 
there was no riot or bloodshed in any locality, no force, intimidation or 
violence in any parish in Louisiana where both parties voted, gives strong 
presumption that there was no valid excuse for the Republican voters in 
absenting themselves from the polls, but that they were purposely kept away 
to subserve partisan ends. . . . The other form of intimidation alleged to 
have been practised in Louisiana and by which the Democratic majorities are 
charged to have been secured, is one by which the colored men, under threats 
of violence or persecution in various forms, were forced to vote a hated 
ticket. The basis of this is the fact that a large number of colored men who 
heretofore voted with the Republican party at this election voted with the 
Democrats." Adequate reasons for this are presented. Report 156, part i. 
pp. 10, 11. 


placed much reliance also on his claim that Louisiana 
justly belonged to the Republicans. There were 92,996 
white registered voters, 115,310 coloured : these last 
would have voted the Republican ticket almost unani- 
mously, he argued, had they been free to exercise their 
choice and the Republican majority ought to have 
been at least 22,000. This argument however is neutral- 
ized by the fact of the frauds in the registration of negro 
voters. According to the United States census of 1870 
the number of negro and white males over the age of 
twenty-one was almost exactly equal. The dispropor- 
tion between the population and negro registration had 
been shown by Foster, Phelps, Potter and Marshall in 
1875 ; and to deprive any future similar statement of 
force, the government of Louisiana had a State census 
taken later in the same year and garbled the figures to 
show an excess of 20,000 black over white voters. 1 /Un- 
doubtedly the Republican frauds in registration offset 
Democratic intimidation. 2 

1 Morrison report, p. 5. 

2 In their letter to Hewitt, Palmer, Trumbull and Julian, who had sup- 
ported Lincoln twice for the presidency and Grant at his first election in com- 
mon with Sherman, Garfield and Eugene Hale (signers of the letter 
to Grant), and who we may suppose had then been equally good friends 
of the negro, wrote: "Another assumption of the Republicans is that all 
the colored men in the State are necessarily Republicans. This is 
by no means true. We were visited by a large number of colored per- 
sons from different parts of the State including the alleged disturbed dis- 
tricts, who made speeches and took an active part in the canvass in favor 
of the Democratic ticket, and who gave among other reasons for so doing 
that they had been deceived by Republican officials, who had proved dis- 
honest and corrupt, had robbed them of their school money and burdened 
them with unnecessary taxes. ... It is certain that thousands of colored 
persons voluntarily and actively supported the Democratic ticket. The 
entire vote of the State at the recent election is about 15,000 greater than 
ever before and even in the parishes where intimidation is charged, it exceeds 
in the aggregate any previous vote." Cf. Morrison report, p. 6. Anent 
Palmer, Trumbull, Julian and others Hayes however wrote Nov. 27 : "The 
Democrats made a mistake in sending so many ex-Republicans. New converts 
are proverbially bitter and unfair towards those they have recently left." 
Recollections of John Sherman, vol. i. p. 559. 


Based on the declaration of the Returning-Board 
Governor Kellogg gave the eight Hayes electors the 
regular certificate of election. 

If Hayes had envisaged the facts as I now do he 
would have refused to accept the presidency from the 
Louisiana Returning-Board. On November 27 he wrote 
to Sherman at New Orleans : " A fair election would 
have given us about forty electoral votes at the South 
at least that many. But we are not to allow our friends 
to defeat one outrage and fraud by another. There 
must be nothing crooked on our part. Let Mr. Tilden 
have the place by violence, intimidation and fraud, 
rather than undertake to prevent it by means that will 
not bear the severest scrutiny." l 

There was indeed something " crooked " in the work 
of the Louisiana Returning-Board ; it used " means that 
will not bear the severest scrutiny," and Hayes did not 
therefore live up to the promise of his letter. If he had 
any idea of renouncing the place he was dissuaded from 
so doing by John Sherman, who saw him just previously 
to his visit to New Orleans and immediately after his 
return. We may divine the burden of his talk at the 
later visit by his letter of November 23 to Hayes. " We 
are now collecting," he said, " the testimony as to the 
bulldozed parishes. It seems more like the history of 
hell than of civilized and Christian communities. The 
means adopted are almost incredible, but were fearfully 
effective upon an ignorant and superstitious people. 
That you would have received at a fair election a large 
majority in Louisiana, no honest man can question ; that 
you did not receive a majority is equally clear. But 
that intimidation of the very kind and nature provided 
against by the Louisiana law did enter into and control 
the election, in more election polls than would change 
the result and give you the vote, I believe as firmly as 

1 Recollections of John Sherman, vol. i. p. 669. 


that I write this. . . . The whole case rests upon the 
action of the returning-board. I have carefully observed 
them and have formed a high opinion of Governor Wells 
and Colonel Anderson. They are firm, judicious and, as 
far as I can judge, thoroughly honest and conscientious. 
They are personally familiar with the nature and degree 
of intimidation in Louisiana. They can see that the 
intimidation, as organized, was with a view of throwing 
out Republican parishes rather than endangering Demo- 
cratic parishes. . . . Not wishing the return in your 
favor, unless it is clear that it ought to be so, and not 
willing to be cheated out of it, or to be < bulldozed ' or 
intimidated, the truth is palpable that you ought to have 
the vote of Louisiana, and we believe that you will have 
it by an honest and fair return, according to the letter 
and spirit of the law of Louisiana." 1 

Sherman entered the House of Representatives in 1855 
and, in common with his Republican colleagues, endured 
much from the arrogance of Southern members. His 
five and a half years of ante-bellum service and his 
earnestness during the war fixed his political thought 
for his lifetime and in 1876 he still looked upon the 
South as an enemy to be circumvented by any possible 
means that were not palpably outrageous. To him a 
Democratic administration, with the Southern wing of 
the party paramount, meant ruin for the country, and, 
if he doubted for a moment the fairness of the Return- 
ing-Board, he stifled the doubt by the Jesuitical argument, 
which has in a critical time been potent with so many 
honourable men. McCulloch, a calm observer, wrote, 
" My own opinion at the time was, and still is, that if 
the distinguished Northern men who visited those 
States 2 immediately after the election had stayed at 

1 Recollections, vol. i. pp. 568, 669. Hayes's letter of Nov. 27 was ii 
reply to this. 

3 Visitors went also to South Carolina and Florida. 


home, and there had been no outside pressure upon the 
returning-boards, their certificates would have been in 
favor of the Democratic electors." 1 My study of the 
contemporary evidence leads me to this conclusion in 
the case of Florida and of Louisiana. It is not to be 
supposed that promises of offices or other rewards were 
made to the members of the Louisiana Returning-Board 
but these men had the feeling that the presence of the 
" visiting statesmen " signified that the Great Republi- 
can party was at their back and that they would be 
taken care of. " Louisiana is safe," telegraphed on 
November 17 the United States Marshal from New 
Orleans to West at Washington. " Our Northern friends 
stand firmly by us. The returning-board will hold its 
own." 2 On the promulgation of the decision Sherman, 
Garfield and the other Republican " visiting statesmen " 
became apologists for the Louisiana Returning-Board 
and it was in this frame of mind that Sherman visited 
Hayes on his return from New Orleans. He was a 
master of the art of persuasion. In visualizing his 
honest face and impressive manner I can well imagine 
how he urged upon Hayes the conviction that his duty 
to his party, and his country as well, demanded his 
acquiescence in the situation. It was a pity that Hayes 
could not shake off Sherman's influence. Left to him- 
self, he would have been capable of refusing the high 
office if not honestly obtained and, had he declined to 
accept it before the Louisiana Returning-Board made 
their return, though he would never have been Presi- 
dent, he would have been one of the world's heroes. As 
it actually turned out, however, he saw with Sherman's 
eyes which were those of a stubborn partisan. 

On Wednesday December 6 the different electors in 
the several States met and voted. From South Carolina, 
Florida and Louisiana there were two sets of returns, 

1 Men and Measures, p. 420. 2 Electoral Commission, p. 242. 


one giving the votes of these States to Hayes, the other 
to Tilden. There were also two sets of returns from 
Oregon which came about in this wise. It was undis- 
puted that Hayes had carried the State by over 1000 
majority but one of the electors, Watts, proved to be a 
deputy postmaster and ineligible under the Constitution. 
The governor, a Democrat, refused to issue him a certifi- 
cate, but certified instead the election of Cronin, who 
had received the highest vote of the Tilden electors. 
Meanwhile Watts had resigned his position as postmaster. 
The Secretary of State, the canvassing officer under the 
laws of Oregon, declared that Odell, Cartwright and 
W T atts, the Republican candidates, had received the 
highest number of votes. These three met on December 6. 
Watts resigned as elector ; the vacancy so constituted 
was filled by his reappointment and the three cast their 
votes for Hayes. Cronin, when Odell and Cartwright 
refused to act with him, withdrew to a far corner of the 
room, declared two vacancies, appointed Democrats to 
fill them and this trumped-up electoral college cast two 
votes for Hayes and one for Tilden. 

Congress had been in session two days when the 
electors voted, and when the result, which had been 
foreshadowed, was known, the excitement was intense. 
According to the regularly authenticated votes, Hayes 
had 185, Tilden 184 but the Democrats charged that 
the 4 from Florida and the 8 from Louisiana were 
stolen. If however the Cronin certificate was held 
valid Tilden had 185, Hayes 184 ; but the Democrats 
had then no desire for the one vote from Oregon and 
had contrived the plan, so as to raise an issue which 
would compel Congress to go behind the returns from 
Florida and Louisiana and investigate the process by 
which these votes had been cast for Hayes. 

The Constitution and the statutes in regard to the 
counting of the electoral votes were unsatisfactory. 
The Constitution said, " The President of the Senate 


shall, in the presence of the Senate and the House of 
Representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes 
shall then be counted." Now, the Republicans argued, 
this plainly implies that if there are two certificates 
from a State, the President of the Senate must decide 
which one is valid and count the votes of those electors 
who are mentioned in the valid certificate of appoint- 
ment. As the President of the Senate was Thomas W. 
Ferry of Michigan, a partisan Republican, who could be 
depended upon to carry out the behest of his party, 
this meant that the votes of Florida, Louisiana, Oregon 
and South Carolina would be counted for Hayes and he 
would thus be declared elected. It is an indication of 
the strongly defined partisan feeling that Hayes embraced 
this doctrine, writing to Sherman on January 5, 1877 : 
" I believe the Vice-President alone has the constitu- 
tional power to count the votes and declare the result. 
Everything in the nature of a contest as to electoral 
votes is an affair of the states. The rest is a mere 
ministerial duty. Therefore it is not right, in my judg- 
ment, for Congress to interfere." l 

The Republicans, who had long combated the tenet 
of States' rights, were now its most ardent advocates. 
The action of a State is final, they asserted, its sov- 
ereignty must not be invaded. On the other hand the 
Democrats were equally inconsistent. As a party, they 
had been defenders of State-rights and their Southern 
wing had carried the doctrine to a bitter extremity, but 
now they invoked the power of Congress to override 
State action and right a grievous injustice committed 
by what they had formerly maintained was a sovereign 
authority. Yet in the absence of specific legislation it 
was not plain how Congress could interfere. Until 
complications arose out of the Civil War and Recon- 
struction, the count of the electoral votes had proceeded 

1 Sherman's Recollections, vol. i. p. 561. 


without difficulty. In 1865 the twenty-second joint 
rule was adopted which put it in the power of either 
House to refuse to count the electoral vote of any State 
by its separate action as "no vote objected to shall be 
counted except by the concurrent votes of the two 
Houses." Under this rule were counted the votes of 
1865, 1869 and 1873. In 1873 the vote of Louisiana 
was rejected by the concurrent action of both Houses 
and of Arkansas by the action of the Senate alone. 

It is to be remembered that the Senate was now 
Republican, the majority being 17 and the House Demo- 
cratic with a majority of 74. The twenty-second joint 
rule would operate favourably for the Democrats. The 
House would reject Florida and Louisiana which would 
give Tilden a majority and, if the Senate should try its 
hand at throwing out States on account of intimidation 
of negro voters, there would be no election and the 
House would under the constitutional provision proceed 
to an election, taking the votes by States, and so choosing 
Tilden. Some Democrats maintained that this rule was 
still in force but this contention found little favour in 
the Senate. At the first session of this Congress [in 
January 1876] the Senate had with practical unanimity 
rescinded it and now on December 8 by a vote of 50 : 4 
they sustained the decision of the President pro tempore 
who decided that the joint rules were no longer in force. 1 

Tne dispute in Congress, in the press and among the 
people was fierce. The Democrats kept up a persistent 
cry of fraud but the Republicans retorted that the fraud 
was on the other side. By the operation of the Fifteenth 
Amendment, they asserted, negroes became a part of 
the representative population, giving the South an in- 
crease of 35 electoral votes, 2 and yet the Southern white 

1 Cong. Record, pp. 97-109. 

2 Statement of Sherman, Dec. 14, Cong. Record, p. 187. I have not 
attempted to verify the number. 

306 THE DISPUTE [1876 

people had through terror prevented the negroes from 
voting. No doubt could exist that if they could have 
voted freely and without fear, as they were entitled to 
under the Constitution and /the laws, South Carolina, 
Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and perhaps Alabama 
would all have given large and undisputed majorities 
for Hayes. The presence of the United States troops 
had given him South Carolina and fortunate State laws, 
courageously administered, had held for him the votes 
of Florida and Louisiana which were his just due. 
The Republicans declared emphatically that they pro- 
posed to have these votes counted for Hayes. The 
situation was virtually this : 4,036,000 Hayes voters l were 
arrayed stiffly against 4,300,000 Tilden voters, each 
party seeming utterly incapable of comprehending the 
other's position. 

No prospect was apparent of their reaching any 
common ground. When the two Houses should as- 
semble in joint meeting for counting the electoral 
votes, disagreement was certain. The President of 
the Senate would declare Hayes elected ; the House 
would proceed to elect Tilden. We shall be " brought 
to the point," said Goode a Democratic representa- 
tive from Virginia in the House, " where one party or 
the other must make an ignominious surrender, or we 
must fight. Are gentlemen prepared for the latter 
alternative ? " A shout of " yes " went up from the 
Republican side of the House. 2 Henry Watterson 
announced in the Louisville Courier Journal that 100,000 
unarmed citizens would march to Washington to main- 
tain the rights of Tilden. 3 One who had been very 
prominent in the Southern Confederacy told Henry B. 

1 Some modification of the statement regarding the opinion of a number of 
Hayes voters will be made later. 

2 Jan. 25, 1877, Cong. Becord, p. 940 ; James Monroe, Atlantic Monthly, 
Oct. 1893, p. 524 ; Life of Morton, Foulke, vol. ii. p. 442. 

3 Life of Nast, Paine, p. 342. 


Payne, a representative from the Cleveland district of 
Ohio, that he hoped the dispute would be peaceably 
settled but, if it were not, the South would stand behind 
him and the Democratic party ; 145,000 well-disciplined 
Southern troops were ready to fight on their behalf. 
A Republican friend came to Payne during a sitting of 
the House and said to him with tears in his eyes, we 
shall be cutting one another's throats in this chamber 
before the 4th of March ; 1 and a leading Democrat 
went across the House to Garfield's seat and made the 
same dire prediction. 2 Some senators and representa- 
tives derided the idea of danger ; but any one, who lived 
through those days in an observing and reflective mood, 
or any one, who will now make a careful study of the 
contemporary evidence, cannot avoid the conviction that 
the country was on the verge of civil war. The number 
of men out of employment and in want owing to the 
depression of business, the many social outcasts in the 
community, whom the railroad riots seven months later 
disclosed, constituted a formidable army who were ready 
for any disturbance that might improve their condition 
or give them an opportunity for plunder. The mass of 
adherents on each side, which was clearly indicated by 
the closeness of the vote in many Northern States, shows 
what a terrible internecine conflict would have followed 
a bloody affray on the floor of Congress. 

Tilden did not rise to the emergency. In quiet times 
he would have made a good President but he was entirely 
lacking in both the physical and moral courage needed 
in a leader during the turbulent times which succeeded 
election day. He had overworked himself as governor 
and in February 1875 had suffered a cerebral attack 
nearly akin to paralysis. 8 During the campaign of 1876 
he kept up by adhering to a regimen laid down for him 

1 Private conversation. 2 Monroe, p. 524. 

3 Life of Tilden, Bigelow, vol. i. p. 285. 


by his physician, but he seemed stunned by the fierce- 
ness of the presidential dispute. Unfortunately he had 
some superserviceable friends who entered into negotia- 
tions, looking to the bribery of one or more members of 
the canvassing boards of South Carolina and Florida to 
issue the regular certificates to some of the Tilden elec- 
tors. Money was also called for to carry out the Oregon 
scheme. Despatches savouring of corruption were sent 
in cipher to 'Colonel W. T. Pelton, Tilden's nephew, at 
15 Gramercy Park, New York, which was Tilden's home, 
and used as a residence by Pelton. But Tilden's course 
in these matters was really above reproach. He coun- 
tenanced in no way any such negotiations and, when the 
South Carolina affair was brought to his notice, he 
promptly crushed the attempts that were being made in 
that direction. His voluntary testimony before a Con- 
gressional Committee on February 8, 1879 may be implic- 
itly believed. " No offer, no negotiation," he swore, " in 
behalf of any member of the Returning-Board of South 
Carolina, of the Board of State Canvassers of Florida, or 
of any other State was ever entertained by me, or by 
my authority or with my sanction. . . . There never 
was a moment in which I ever entertained any idea of 
seeking to obtain those certificates by any venal induce- 
ment, any promise of money or of office, to the men who 
had them to grant or dispose of. My purpose on that 
subject was perfectly distinct, invariable, and it was 
generally assumed by all my friends without discussion. 
It may have sometimes been expressed and, whenever 
the slightest occasion arose for it to be discussed, it was 
expressed. It was never deviated from in word or 
act." 1 

But between November 1876 and March 1877 Repub- 
licans were ready to believe any evil of Tilden, and, as 

1 Testimony in relation to Cipher Telegraphic Despatches, pp. 272, 274 ; 
Life of Tilden, Bigelow, vol. ii. pp. 182, 186. 


the air was full of rumours, little doubt existed amongst 
them that he had tried to tamper with the canvassing 
boards of South Carolina and Florida and had furnished 
money for the operations in Oregon. The statement in 
Wells's letter from New Orleans, to Senator West, " Mill- 
ions have been sent here and will be used in the interest 
of Tilden," 1 also found ready credence. 

Tilden had a good case. He had a majority of the 
popular vote of 264,000 and a chance of winning support 
from many Hayes voters, either because he had the 
better cause or because there was greater independence 
of thought in Republican than in Democratic ranks. 
The rumours of attempted bribery and corruption 
injured him with these independent thinkers and the 
Democratic procedure in Oregon deprived his cause of 
its moral weight. For it was undoubted that Hayes 
was entitled to the three votes from Oregon and crooked 
Republican procedure in Louisiana did not justify 
crooked Democratic procedure in Oregon. While Til- 
den's supposed corrupt transactions lost him ground 
during December with the independent voters in the 
Republican party, the dignified attitude of Hayes was 
strengthening the opposite cause. Moreover party con- 
siderations were becoming more strictly defined and 
were bringing most of those who voted for Hayes into 
the party ranks, a striking example of which was seen in 
the case of The Nation which " lost nearly three thousand 
subscribers [a good percentage probably of its circula- 
tion] for refusing to believe that Mr. Hayes could 
honorably accept the presidency at the hands of the 
Louisiana and Florida Re turning-Boards." 2 

1 Report 100, 44th Cong. 2d Sess., part iii. p. 6. 

a The Nation, June 25, 1885, p. 516 ; Life of Bowles, Merriam, TO!, ii. 
p. 303. The first expression (I think) in this wise was on Dec. 14, 1876 : 
" We do not ourselves see how Mr. Hayes can, if he be the man he has been 
represented, take the place under the circumstances, but that is a mattei 
between himself and his own conscience." 


Tildeu's inlirmity of destroyed his party 1 1 
enl huMasm lor ! In- ir < -audit lair,. It is ap| >a i vn I no\\ , an I 
it was apparent (In MI, that two QOUl Open l> him 

after a thorough consultation \\iih the leading Demo 
cralie senators and representai i\ e.-, and hi-, aSBOOiatfl ii 

the ticket, I leiidl'leks. ()lir Was toissuea I'll. -| p,,,ili\e 

address to his 4,300,000 voters. Kepudiai iny. (In- ()rt-^ni 
husincss, lie. sliould have, planted himself on his rights 
in Moridaand and antiuuiirrd thai he . prujn. ,-d 
I. maintain them if he ei.uld ivrkmi n ihe sii|.|...rl of 
liispart\ and the DwHOOWitio House. The result would 
have been either yielding l'.\ the Republicans or <-i\ d 
war. Blame told Bigelow a year or two later that if 
the Democrats had been firm, the Kepublirans would 
have baekrd down, 1 but, on the other hand, it cannot I.e 
forgotten thai ihere \\<MV I luce mm in control, \\ ho 
were not accustomed to surrender, Grant, Chandler and 
Morton. President Grant was determined to have no 
of the American government; he pro 
to re.. \\n-defacto l'rt,sident, and, with his 

]>art \ afliliat ion, it was certain that between the man 
declare. I to lie Preaiden! >y the Pr-Md<-m of the Sejiaie 
and the one elected by the J louse, he would sustain 
Hayes. To be prepared IW an\ emergency, he be: 
concentrating troops in and about Washington. 

The other ami nobler course for Tilden \\ould have 
been to co-operate sympathetically with the leading men 
of his party in the Senate and the House in the endr.t\ 
our to bring about a fair compromise so thai the. in- 
duction of the new President should be orderly and 
according to law. 8 He took neither course, for he could 

irt of Tilde. 1 1 ro] n P. 74, note. 

2 1 have, n. -I ( oiihult-ivil a dm. I o-ursr. us 1 cannot imagine the result. 
Randall, IHU-U.UHI. i mil Wattm-sim buggested to Tilden |[ir..i 

befoi't! Di-.f. (i| thill I, M l.iiul .! .i |.i.'ii,ir,llinli to lluvi-.s.. l'-Htlin>.u\ 

111 i-cliitn.ii u. tf.lbgraphio despatches, p. 278 ; Life of Tilden, lu^i -l<\\. 
\ol. ii. p. 18(1. The Nation referred to thia on Dec. 14, p. 350, 

\i IV.] i-ii. in vs INDECISION 311 

hring himself to no deeision : (In- employment of his 
linn- IndiOAtM ho\\ litth' lilted In* \\ as i'or such a erisis. 
Mr. Tilden/ 1 wrote liigelou, " devoted P&OW than <t 
month lo the |ii.-|Mi.ii ion of a eomi'lete hi.Mory ol' the 

doctoral oounti from tin- foundation of th.- government 

lo sho\\ tl boh " 1 1"' unhioken Ufftgf) OJ * -'i.-ress, 

not ol i he I'lv.idenl of the Senate, to conn I tin- e lee t oral 
\otes." 1 This \\asa useful OOmpllatlOU ] |>ro|.n \\..ik 
lot ,111 aim. ih i .'i historian; hut a rlaiiuanl fur lh<- 
uh-ni-N, \\ ho in a crisis \\astt-s his tinn' ainl exhausts 
hisn-r\ons -n !>;) in siu-h labour, seems hanll\ lultod 
i ili<- leadership of R)ftn< In Decembei-, Senator Tlioi 
l'\ hiiyanl \\-ni l>\ reiquoit to New York to see. Tilden, 
gpant an evening \\ilh him ami nr\l da\ I OL-VI hn with 
I mi. ii four hours more. "Mr. Tilden," so Bayard's 
a||aivntly ins|ii.-d 1 .1. .- i'a | .her wrote, "gave no intim.i 
lion whatever of hi., ini. nii..ns, nor any li^ht upon the 
under eonsidt-ialion. The. compilation of 
eon- i . !eni, I ! ini in course of p re pa ra I ion l>y 

Mr. Bit'y| 1 )\\ 1 \\ase\hihiled and rel nvd to but no plan 
of aetiun \\aN indieate-d." '- TildeiTs toi'tiions procedure 
inplilied in his writing that portion of the inau- 
i! d address of the newly elected governor of New 
\ ork [Robinson] which referred to national affairs; it 
does not a|>|M-;n thai I he puNi*- \\a-, lh<-n authoritatively 
informed that these \\.-i Tilden's words." The -1,800,000 
Democratic voters and the Democrats in Congress desired 
something dir--i iVoin 'I'ilden which was uneijuiv oeally 
his, hut for this i hey waited in vain. For any real inilu- 
oil i he eonrr,e of events after December 1876, Tilden 

1 ..i hi, IM vol. ii. p. 00. The book is entitled The Presidential 
Count*. M A j.|. l-i.. ii & Co., 1877. The Boston Athenaeum received its copy 
on Jan. 0, 1H77. 

pencer, p. 

i Ifi A, vt. I. ii. p. (U5. The New Yiu / ; u. a 

the old M in i in- ntiw governor's n, ,r The 

Nation iliii mil UIIM\\ \\i,, n,, -i Una wua tru- tr imi, .Ian. 4, 1877, p. 1. 


almost entirely disappeared ; Hayes, completely. The 
settlement of the difficulty devolved upon the Democratic 
and Republican leaders in Congress. 

On December 7, in the House, George W. McCrary, a 
Republican from Iowa, moved for a committee of five 
on the matter to act in conjunction with a similar com- 
mittee to be appointed by the Senate. This resolution 
went to the Committee on the Judiciary, which on 
December 14 reported favourably on the project, augment- 
ing the number of the Committee to seven. The Senate 
adopted a similar resolution and the following Com- 
mittees were appointed : House Henry B. Payne of 
Ohio, Eppa Hunton of Virginia, Abram S. Hewitt of 
New York, William M. Springer of Illinois, Democrats ; 
George W. McCrary of Iowa, George F. Hoar of Massa- 
chusetts, and George Willard of Michigan, Republicans. 
Senate Edmunds of Vermont, Morton of Indiana, 
Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, Conkling of New York, 
Republicans ; Thurman of Ohio, Bayard of Delaware, 
and Ransom of North Carolina, Democrats. Thus it 
had been arranged that each party should have repre- 
sentation on both the Senate and House Committees, 
and, as a joint Committee be equally divided politically. 
Although Payne's first service in the House was during 
the actual Congress [the Forty-fourth] he was named 
Chairman of the Committee at the request of Tilden ; 
he was likewise the choice of the Speaker, Samuel J. 
Randall, who had succeeded Kerr. 

Congress sat between Christmas and New Year's 
day but the House Committee did not begin their meet- 
ings until the 3d of January 1877, holding them com- 
monly in the banking and currency committee-room, 
formerly the Speaker's room where John Quincy Adams 
saw the last of earth. For a week no apparent 
progress was made and, when they met on the evening 
of January 10 in the private sitting-room of the chair- 
man at the Riggs House, it seemed impossible to escape 


from the impasse. Payne had previously offered a reso- 
lution, limiting the function of the President of the 
Senate to the opening of the returns and this was now 
pressed by Hunton. Hoar and his Republican associates 
begged that the resolution be not insisted upon. " The 
province of the Committee as I understand it," said 
Hoar, " is not to say what power the President of the 
Senate has or has not, but what power Congress has in 
the premises." " We are unwilling," declared Hoar and 
McCrary, " to commit ourselves to the principle of the 
Payne resolution. We can conceive of a condition of 
things wherein somebody might have to take the bull by 
the horns and count the vote, or the country would be 
plunged into anarchy and chaos. Suppose that the 
House should insist that there had been no election and 
refuse to participate in the count. This might consti- 
tute an emergency where the President of the Senate, 
in the absence of any legislation restricting his duties 
under the Constitution, might be called upon to act." 
" In case of such a conflict," demanded Hewitt of Hoar, 
" between the President of the Senate and the House of 
Representatives, would you sooner intrust the liberties 
of the people to a single senator, who happened to be 
President of the Senate, than to the representatives of 
the entire American people ? " l Both sides appeared 
stiff and unyielding. Whatever plan was proposed by 
the one would lead to the seating of Tilden, whilst any 
proposition from the other would lead just as surely to 
the installation of Hayes. Payne had ordered a colla- 
tion and, under the genial influence of the food and 
drink and kindly manner of the host, the members of 
the Committee began to thaw out and approach the 
question in a patriotic rather than partisan spirit. 

1 Article of Milton H. Northrup, Secretary of the House Committee, 
Century Magazine, Oct. 1901, pp. 925, 926. This will be referred to as 

314 JOINT MEETING [1877 

McCrary proposed a tribunal outside of Congress to be 
carved out of the United States Supreme Court for the 
settlement of the disputed presidency. The details of 
this plan were discussed until a late hour that night and 
during the meeting of the next day when the agreement 
was arrived at informally that a Commission consisting 
of the five senior associate Justices should be constituted 
to decide on the controverted questions. These Justices 
were Clifford of Maine, Swayne of Ohio, Davis of Illi- 
nois, Miller of Iowa, and Field of California. Clifford 
was the only one who had been appointed by a Demo- 
cratic President [by Buchanan] but Field, who was one 
of Lincoln's appointments, had become a Democrat. 
Miller and Swayne were pronounced Republicans and 
Davis [all three were appointed by Lincoln] was con- 
sidered an Independent. 

On January 12, a joint meeting between the House 
and Senate Committees was arranged in the room of the 
Senate Committee on the Judiciary, when it appeared 
that the senators had been working upon somewhat the 
same lines as the representatives. Edmunds reported 
their proposition for a tribunal to consist of thirteen, 
made up of the four senior associate Justices and nine 
from the two Houses of Congress. The Senate was to 
name five, the House five and one of the ten was then 
to be excluded by lot. On Saturday, January 13, the 
House Committee in joint meeting assented to the prin- 
ciple of the Senate plan but insisted that the lot feature 
should apply to the judicial, not the congressional mem- 
bers. Before they separated that afternoon a plan was 
agreed to which had the support of every member of 
the joint Committee except Representative Springer. 1 
This provided for a Commission of fifteen; five from 

1 1 cannot believe that Morton assented, although my authorities are 
silent regarding him. He was ill much of the time and quite likely was not 
prespnt nt this meeting. 


the House, five from the Senate arid five from the Su- 
preme Court. The names of the six senior associate 
Justices [Clifford, Swayne, Davis, Miller, Field and 
Strong] were to be put into a hat, one was to be with- 
drawn and the five left were to be members of the com- 
mission. It was desirable to make a unanimous report 
on the following Monday and Conkling earnestly ap- 
pealed to Springer not to stand in the way of a measure 
which settled the points of contention but Springer was 
obdurate and said that he must have until Monday to 
think it over. 

Until now the secrets of the committee room had 
been carefully kept but, between Saturday and Monday, 
the plan leaked out. The lot feature was seriously 
objected to by the Democrats who declared that they 
would not consent that the great office of President 
should be raffled off like a Thanksgiving turkey." 1 
Those Republicans, who were well characterized by 
Edmunds as " those fellows who believe it foreordained 
that Hayes is to be President and think the Constitu- 
tion as it is sufficient for their purpose " 2 were alike 
strenuous in their opposition. It is the " Dice-box vs. 
Ballot-box," said the New York Times. "A simpler 
way to settle the matter would be for Mr. Hayes and 
Mr. Tilden to . . . < draw cuts ' for the presidency." 8 

On Monday, January 15, Payne announced in joint 
Committee that so much opposition to the lot feature 
had been developed in the House that he was satisfied 
that a bill, incorporating such a provision, could not 
pass that body. " On reflection," he said, " the House 
Committee has decided not to assent to that proposi- 
tion. In lieu thereof we again propose the selection of 
the five senior associate justices outright, [to make up 

i Northrup, p. 927. ' Ibi d M p . 92 8. 

8 Jan. IS, 17. The second remark as cited was directed at the first lot 


the fifteen] as in the original House bill. The commit- 
tee earnestly believes that the selection of these five, 
two being understood to be in sympathy with the 
Republicans, two with the Democracy and the fifth 
leaning no more one side than the other would assure 
the non-partisan character of the commission, and give 
the odd number without a resort to the < lot ' system, 
to which there is in many minds a very serious objec- 
tion." 1 Davis being the fifteenth man the discussion 
turned on his political preferences. " Judge Davis," 
said Edmunds, "is one of those Independents who stand 
always ready to accept Democratic nominations. It 
is my observation that such men are generally the 
most extreme in their partisanship. I would rather 
entrust a decision to an out-and-out Democrat than 
to a so-called Independent." Springer replied : Judge 
Davis is just about as much a Democrat as Horace 
Greeley was in 1871 ; he is not and never was a Demo- 
crat. His most intimate friends, among whom I may 
count myself, don't know to-day whether he favored 
Tilden or Hayes. He didn't vote at all. Our people 
in Illinois, when he was mentioned for the presi- 
dency, were utterly hostile to his nomination because he 
was not a Democrat, and had no standing in that party. 
They only know that he is absolutely honest and fair." 2 
On the Sunday [January 14] Hewitt had been in 
New York in consultation with Tilden, receiving the 
impression that he was in a general way in favour of 
some scheme for a commission, 3 and on Monday, at the 
end probably of the long and indecisive joint conference, 
he telegraphed to Edward Cooper for the eye of Tilden : 
"The Senate committee will probably reject five and 
report six judge plan immediately. Our senators feel 
committed to concur. House committee will not con- 

i Northrup, p. 927. 2 Ibid., pp. 927, 928. 

* Conyersation with H. B. Payne. 


cur, and for present will probably not report." 1 When 
he read this despatch Tilden said, " I may lose the 
presidency but I will not raffle for it " and through 
Cooper he answered Hewitt, " Procrastinate to give few 
days for information and consultation. The six-judge 
proposition inadmissible." 2 

In joint meeting of January 16, Payne read a bill 
agreed upon by a majority of the House Committee : 
the Commission to be made up of five senators, five 
representatives and the five senior associate Justices. 
This after a recess the Senate Committee declined to 
accept. Conkling had a counter-proposition, either from 
the whole Committee or a majority of it, according to 
which the four senior Judges, Clifford, Swayne, Davis 
and Miller should name the fifth. " Why was Field 
dropped out and Davis substituted ? " asked Payne. 
" Swayne offsets Clifford ; and now we are asked to 
take Davis against Miller whom we understand to be a 
very decided partisan. Judge Davis is not a Democrat. 
You ask us to take a Democrat and one who is not 
more than half a Democrat against two absolute Re- 
publicans. I see no equality in such a proposition." 8 
Hewitt asked. Is the Chief Justice, Waite, eligible ? 
Conkling said, "No" and Thurman stated that "the 
Chief Justice for reasons which he was not at liberty to 
give, would not consent, under any circumstances, to 
serve on the commission." 4 Shortly afterwards the 
House Committee retired to consider the proposition of 
the senators. 

Hewitt thus advised Cooper of the proceedings of the 
day : "After protracted negotiations Senate [committee] 
receded from six-judge [scheme], declined five-judge and 
offered four senior associate justices, who are to choose 
the fifth judge, excluding chief justice. Our Senate 

1 Life of Tilden, Bigelow, vol. ii. p. 78. * Northrup, p. 930. 

3 Ibid. * Ibid. 


friends earnestly favour acceptance, because they do not 

believe it possible to pass over- -, 1 The Democrats 

on House Committee believe this is the last chance of 
agreement. We cannot postpone beyond eleven to-morrow, 
and if we decline, Senate Committee will report their 
original plan, to which our friends are committed. Tele- 
graph your advice." Tilden replied : " Be firm and cool. 
Four- judge plan will not do. Perhaps w^orse than six." 2 
The rest of this despatch and a longer one sent on the 
evening of the same day may be interpreted as express- 
ing opposition to any possible commission, although the 
words are so evasive that a double meaning may be 
detected ; but Tilden's anxious wish for delay is appar- 
ent. Hewitt and Payne, who were Tilden's representa- 
tives on the committee, were forced to proceed on their 
own judgment. 

On January 17, Payne said that the majority of the 
House Committee could not accept the proposition of 
the senators, the objection to it being that it classed 
Davis as a Democrat. Hewitt made a proposition (which 
it is unnecessary to detail). The Senate Committee 
retired to consider it ; at 2.40 P.M. on the resumption of 
the joint session they announced their rejection of it 
and submitted a counter-proposition, on which they 
were all agreed : Appoint the associate Justices from the 
first, third, eighth and ninth circuits and let them select 
a fifth judge. At this juncture occurred an amenity 
which is agreeable to recall. Edmunds, arguing in fa- 
vour of this plan, said it would be appreciated by " the 
great American public" and added, "I don't mean Henry 
Watterson's one hundred thousand Democratic men who 
are said to be coming " at which the Democrats inter- 
rupted him with, " Oh, they are not coming ; we've 
telegraphed them not to come ! " 3 The House Committee 
then retired to consider the proposition of the senators. 

1 Obviously Davis. 2 Life of Tilden, Bigelow, vol. ii. p. 79. 8 Northrup, p. 931. 


At 4 P.M. Payne announced in joint session that 
the House Committee unanimously with the exception 
of Hunton, who desired time for reflection, accepted the 
Senate Committee's proposition. 

In such wise was evolved the famous Electoral 
Count Act. The report recommending its adoption 
was finally signed by every member of the House Com- 
mittee and by all the senators except Morton. Morton 
was opposed to calling in any outside tribunal to settle 
the dispute but intimated at one of the committee meet- 
ings that he would be willing to leave it to the whole 
Supreme Court. 1 

The bill provided that "no electoral vote or votes 
from any State from which but one return has been 
received shall be rejected except by the affirmative vote 
of the two Houses." In the cases of States from which 
there was more than one return [Florida, Louisiana, 
Oregon and South Carolina] "all such returns and 
papers " should be " submitted to the judgment and 
decision as to which is the true and lawful electoral 
vote of such State " of an Electoral Commission com- 
posed of five senators, five representatives and five 
associate Justices of the United States Supreme Court. 
Four of these were the Judges now assigned to the first, 
third, eighth and ninth circuits [Clifford, Miller, Field 
and Strong] and these four were to select a fifth. The 
decision of the Commission could be overthrown only 
by the concurrence of both Houses, acting separately. 

There are few sublimer legislative achievements in 
our history than this Electoral Count bill framed in the 

1 My main authority is Northrup. An account of the work in Committee 
was given by S. S. Cox, Three Decades, chap, xxxvi. but his authority was 
Northnip, who was the clerk of the Banking and Currency Committee of 
which Cox was chairman. Cox's book was published in 1886. Northrup's 
article was printed in 1901 and is the fuller and more exact account. Bigelow's 
Life of Tilden and Manton Marble's Secret Chapter of Political History 
were helpful in rounding out the story. 


midst of intense political excitement, arid agreed to by 
thirteen out of the fourteen members of a bi-partisan 
Committee. The almost unanimous concurrence ren- 
dered certain the approval of Congress and the country. 
To the two chairmen, Edmunds and Payne, must be 
given the greatest credit but prominent in sympathetic 
co-operation were Conkling, Thurman and Bayard, 
Hewitt, Hoar and McCrary. During the Senate debate 
Thurman said : " I have one satisfaction that I shall never 
lose, and that I should with difficulty find words to express, 
in the fact that in that committee there never was an 
unkind, or short, or harsh remark or word ; but we 
performed our duty as men anxious to do what the 
country needed and what the country had a right to 
expect from us. For what we have done I take my full 
share of responsibility. Praise it, or blame it, I want 
no better praise hereafter, no kinder recollection in the 
minds of my countrymen than that I contributed my 
humble efforts to bring to a peaceable solution this ques- 
tion which now agitates this country and endangers 
it." 1 Morton alone was obstructive, partisan, and un- 

On January 20, Edmunds introduced the bill into the 
Senate and made a careful exposition of it. He 
thought that the fifteen, having regard to the terms of 
their oath would not act as partisans but impartially as 
judges. He touched upon the vital point at issue : 
" It has been said by some that this commission, if this 
law passes, having the powers of the two Houses con- 
ferred upon them, may go behind the returns, as the 
common phrase is. Well, if the two Houses now possess 
the constitutional power to do that thing, they also 
possessed it on the first Wednesday in December, and 
we have only changed the method in the first instance of 
taking that step. If the two Houses, by the Constitution 

1 Jan. 24, Cong. Becord, p, 


of the United States, on the first Wednesday in Decem- 
ber and now, have no constitutional right to overhaul 
the action of a sovereign State in its selection under the 
Constitution of its electors, then this commission has no 
right to do it." 1 

Whether or not Congress, and therefore the Commis- 
sion possess that right the Commission itself must decide. 
He disposed effectually of the alleged power of the 
President of the Senate. Quoting the clause of the 
Constitution, The President of the Senate shall, in 
the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, 
open all the certificates and the votes shall then be 
counted," he said, " The language does not say that the 
President of the Senate shall have the power to count 
even in the arithmetical sense of the term ; much less 
does it say that he shall have the power to decide any- 
thing." 2 He had not the slightest doubt of the constitu- 
tionality of the proposed act. 

Morton opposed the bill. He deemed it a grave objec- 
tion that the four judges were selected because of their 
political antecedents. Moreover it is a Democratic meas- 
ure. " I think," he said, " I do the intelligence of these 
distinguished Democratic senators but justice when I say 
that they would not go for this bill except that it gave 
them a chance for the only thing that can count Mr. Til- 
deri in, and that is, to go behind the returns. Outside 
of that he has no chance, no possible hope. ... I know 
that an alarm has been created by threats upon the 
part of the Democratic party in various portions of the 
country. I know that a panic now exists in this coun- 
try and this body, far greater than that of 1873, and 
equalled only I believe by that of the battle of Bull Run 
in 1861. We are asked to do this upon the score of 
magnanimity. . . . We are asked to sacrifice and 
surrender advantages which belong to the Republican 

1 Jan. 24, Cong. Record, p. 769. 2 Ibid. 


party as a matter of law, as a matter of right and as 
a matter of practice, since this government was first 
founded. . . . Are we to apprehend violence ? Are we 
to apprehend the invasion of this capital ? Are we to 
apprehend that if the President of the Senate shall pro- 
ceed to count this vote as it always has been done, the 
House of Representatives will take some revolutionary 
action by which our institutions perhaps may be over- 
turned, or that we shall have a dual government ? I am 
not afraid of that. I believe that any individual or any 
party who attempts that will be utterly crushed out ; I 
believe if we go on just as we have gone for more 
than three-quarters of a century no man, no party, will 
dare to raise their hand. ... In the absence of legis- 
lation, the President of the Senate must, to use a 
common phrase, ex necessitate rei, count the votes." 1 

Sherman also spoke in opposition to the bill, his real 
reason being of course that he thought if it were enacted 
it would injure the chances of Hayes. He would prefer 
the bill to Civil War but he did not believe that the 
country was confronted with that alternative. He main- 
tained that the bill was unconstitutional and in this 
Elaine agreed with him, but such an objection from 
these two senators had little weight as against the care- 
ful opinions in favour of its constitutionality, given by 
such lawyers as Edmunds, Conkling and Thurman. 
Thurrnan made a powerful argument showing that the 
bill did not go outside of the Constitution. 2 

The most notable speech during this great debate was 
made by Conkling, who spoke for eight hours with a 
force so attractive and convincing that it must have 
caused his admirers regret that he did not oftener dis- 
play his legal ability, intelligence and oratorical power 

1 These extracts are from the two different speeches of Morton of Jan. 22 
and Jan. 24, Cong. Record, pp. 801, 894, 895. 

2 Jan. 24, Cong. .Record, p, 888. 


on the floor of the Senate. He began with : A study 
of the question years ago convinced me of the right and 
therefore the duty of the two Houses, to ascertain and 
verify electoral votes and declare the true result of presi- 
dential elections, or else by an exertion of the law-mak- 
ing power to declare how these acts shall be done. My 
present judgment does not rest however wholly on pre- 
conceived opinions. Some weeks ago, when the inquiry 
came to be invested with unprecedented importance, 
I reviewed carefully every act and proceeding in our 
history bearing upon it, and, without the aid then of 
compilations made since, every utterance in regard to it 
to be found in books." 1 He effectually shattered the doc- 
trine that the President of the Senate could decide as to 
the validity of the returns. On the second day of his 
speech he said : " Senators have asked why I devoted 
so much pains yesterday to disproving the authority of 
the President of the Senate, saying that nobody in the 
Senate contends for such a power, or believes it to exist. 
The Senator from California [Sargent] is I believe its 
only known advocate in the Senate ; but nevertheless 
the chief objection to the pending bill prevailing in the 
press and in the country at large, is the idea that the 
Constitution clothes the President of the Senate with 
power to do whatever can be done in deciding on and 
making effectual electoral votes, and in judging conflict- 
ing certificates. If this objection be well founded, the 
bill has no footing." 

By a careful historical argument, Conkling showed 
that it was Congress which had exercised the power of 
counting electoral votes. To Morton and those of his 
way of thinking he said : " Let not the representatives 
of American States, in this century year, connive at 
bringing about a necessity, they know not what, fraught 
with consequences they cannot order or foresee. Sup- 

1 See Life of Conkling, p. 524. 


pose the Speaker of the House says he is the man of 
destiny, that necessity has created him to untie this tan- 
gled problem. Suppose the House says it from necessity 
is to be the Deus ex machina, suppose any man or any 
power chooses to deem himself or itself invoked by 
necessity, where are the limits of such a theory. . . . 
The pending measure has been called a compromise. If 
it be a compromise, a compromise of truth, of law, of 
right, I am against it. My life has taught me not to 
contrive compromises but to settle issues. Every com- 
promise of principle is a make-shift and a snare. It 
never stood; it never deserved to stand. It is the 
coward's expedient to adjourn to another day, a con- 
troversy easy to govern in the fountain, but hard to 
struggle against in the stream. If this bill be such a 
compromise, I am against it. But I deny that it is a 
compromise, I deny that it compromises anything ; and, 
above all, that it compromises right, principle, or the 
Constitution. To contest a claim, is not to compromise 
it. To insist upon the right, and submit it to an honest, 
fair scrutiny and determination, is not to compromise it. 
A presidential election has occurred. Unless there is a 
tie or a failure, somebody has been chosen. To ascertain 
and establish the fact, is not a compromise. To reveal 
and establish the truth of a thing already past and fixed, 
is as far from a compromise as the east is from the west." 
Conkling concluded his speech thus : " I will vote 
for the pending bill. . . . Adopted it composes the 
country in an hour. The mists which have gathered 
in our land will be quickly dispelled ; business will no 
longer falter before uncertainty or apprehension. If 
thoughts of anarchy or disorder or a disputed chief 
magistracy have taken root, the passage of the bill will 
eradicate them at once. The measure will be a herald 
of calmness from sea to sea : it will once again proclaim 
to the world that America is great enough, and wise 
enough, to do all things decently and in order. It may 


be denounced by partisans on the one side and on the 
other ; it may be derided by the adventurous and the 
thoughtless ; it may be treated with courageous gayety ; 
it may not be presently approved by all the thoughtful 
and the patriotic. Still I will vote for it, because I 
believe it executes the Constitution, and because I be- 
lieve it for the lasting advantage of all the people and 
of all the States, including that great State whose inter- 
ests and whose honor are so dear to me. It may be 
condemned now, but time, at whose great altar all pas- 
sion and error and prejudice at last must bow, will test 
it, and I believe will vindicate it." l 

On the legislative day of January 24, after an all- 
night session, the bill passed the Senate by 47 : 17, the 
ayes being made up of 26 Democrats and 21 Republi- 
cans ; the noes of 16 Republicans and 1 Democrat. 
On January 25, the House took up the consideration of 
the bill and next day passed it by 191 : 86. The ayes 
were made up of 159 Democrats and 32 Republicans ; 
the noes of 18 Democrats and 68 Republicans. 2 On 
January 29, Grant signed it, sending to the Senate an 
approving and patriotic message. 

The paramount motive of the members of the Senate 
and House Committees and of the senators and repre- 
sentatives who voted for the bill was patriotism and 
the desire to quiet the passions in the country. And, 
in effect, the gratification of the people was profound 
and general. In their increased self-respect and pride 
in their representatives the words of Conkling found 
response : " No emergency is so great that forty -five 
million free men cannot meet it calmly and safely under 
the free institutions they cherish. If <he who ruleth 
his own spirit be greater than he who taketh a city ' 8 

1 Jan. 23, 24, Cong. Record, pp. 825, 870, 875, 878. 

2 Tribune Almanac. The yea vote in the House is sometimes given 158 
Democrats, 33 Republicans. 

8 The quotation is not exact. See Proverbs xvi. 32. 


what shall be said of the grandeur of millions who by 
an act as quiet as the wave of a wand can calm the 
commotions of a continent in an hour ? " 1 

While the ruling motive was patriotism, the analysis 
of the vote by political parties shows that it was more 
a Democratic than a Republican measure. The Dem- 
ocrats felt so sure of the rightfulness of their cause, 
especially in Louisiana, that they were ready to submit 
it to any fair tribunal of arbitration. Another obvious 
consideration had weight with them. If the dispute 
came to a dead-lock and an open struggle, the Repub- 
licans had a manifest advantage. Ferry 2 would declare 
Hayes President and Grant with the army would en- 
force that declaration. If the House attempted to elect 
Tilden, the Republican members would withdraw and 
endorse the action of the Senate. The body which 
should choose Tilden would be a rump, whose decision 
would have little weight unless it chose to raise the 
standard of civil war. To any such movement most of 
the members of the Southern wing of the party were 
unalterably opposed. We should have no chance against 
an organized army, they reasoned ; the remark of a 
Virginia representative in a Democratic caucus, " I have 
been through one civil war and want no more of it," 
expressed a sentiment that was generally shared. 3 

The Democrats too had felt sure that Davis would 
be the fifteenth man and they had great confidence in 
his independent judgment. But the legislature of 
Illinois was electing a senator and its Democrats and 
five Independents were eager to beat Logan. After a 
number of ballots with no apparent prospect of a choice, 
Judge Davis was proposed, and, as he was restive on 
the bench and eager for active political life, he consented 
to the use of his name. On the fortieth ballot, which 

1 Cong. Record, p. 877. 2 The President of the Senate. 

8 Conversation with H. B. Payne. 


was taken on January 25, the day on which Payne intro- 
duced the Electoral Count bill into the House, enough 
Democrats united with the Independents to make up 
the necessary number and Davis was chosen senator. 1 
This was a blow to the Democratic party of the country 
which had counted on Davis. Conkling had told 
Hewitt that he would certainly be the fifteenth man ; 2 
and now, although he did not become senator until 
March 4, and only resigned his judgeship to take effect 
on that day, it was apparent that his service on the Com- 
mission would be of doubtful propriety. 

On January 30, the Senate chose as its members of 
the Electoral Commission, Edmunds of Vermont, Morton 
of Indiana, Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, [Republicans] 
Thurman of Ohio and Bayard of Delaware [Democrats]. 
Conkling's biographer states that it was the intention of 
the Republican caucus to name Conkling instead of 
Frelinghuysen, which in view of his prominence in the 
Senate and the useful part he had borne in the Com- 
mittee which framed the Electoral Count bill, would 
have been a natural appointment, but that Conkling 
declined to serve. 8 If this be correct he shirked a grave 
duty, but the general opinion at the time was that the 
Republicans were afraid of Conkling, who was suspected 
of believing Tilden to be entitled to the presidency ; and 
that he was therefore intentionally ignored in the make- 
up of the Commission. The House appointed as its 
members, Henry B. Payne of Ohio, Eppa Hunton of 
Virginia, Josiah G. Abbott of Massachusetts [Democrats] 
George F. Hoar of Massachusetts and James A. Garfield 
of Ohio [Republicans]. 4 

1 Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1877, p. 383. 

2 Conversation with H. B. Payne. 8 Life, p. 521. 

* The Senate, being Republican, could have chosen five Republicans, the 
House, being Democratic, five Democrats. It was arranged however between 
the two parties that each house of Congress should have partisan representa- 
tion on the Commission. 


The four Justices selected Bradley as the fifteenth 
man. When the four first assembled Strong said that 
Davis would not serve, I will not believe it," declared 
Clifford, " unless I should absolutely have it from his lips 
or over his hand." Later Strong brought a statement in 
writing from Davis to that effect. 1 The exclusion of Davis 
was a bitter disappointment to the Democrats but the 
Southerners endeavoured to make the best of it. Bradley 
presided over the Southern circuit, was personally popular 
and had gained favour with the Southern people by his 
judicial opinion against the constitutionality of the En- 
forcement Act. Of a nervous and sensitive nature he 
keenly regretted that the choice had fallen upon him; 
he was expected to sink all political bias and be an 
impartial arbiter while his brothers on the bench had 
been chosen because of their political predilections. 2 But 
the duty, which the Chief Justice had shirked and 
which Davis adroitly evaded, he accepted without demur. 
Thurman, Bayard and Hoar in the sessions of the Joint 
Committee and in their speeches in support of the Elec- 
toral Count bill scouted the idea that the judges would 
act from partisan motives, but Sherman, who was incapa- 
ble of the idealistic height of the other three, said in the 
Senate debate, " These four grave judges must in some 
quiet game select and name the arbiter in whose hands 
will rest all the powers of the Senate and the House and 
of the States and the people in the selection of a Presi- 
dent of the United States." 8 This opinion of Sherman 
was widely current. It required great moral courage 
therefore for a man to assume so weighty a responsi- 
bility ; and, at this distance from the passions of the 
time, we can appreciate the solemn sense of duty which 
swayed Bradley in taking upon himself such a burden. 

1 Conversation with H. B. Payne. 

2 Joseph P. Bradley, Miscellaneous Writing, pp. 7, 9. 
8 Jan. 23, Cong. .Record, p. 820. 


On Thursday February 1, at one o'clock, the two 
Houses came together in Joint Meeting in the Hall of 
the House of Representatives, as the law provided. The 
President pro tempore of the Senate took the speaker's 
chair, the Speaker sitting immediately upon his left. 
The senators had seats at the right of the presiding 
officer and the representatives occupied the rest of the 
body of the Hall. The Democrats had recovered some- 
what from their disappointment at not having Davis on 
the Commission and, in common with the Republicans, 
wore cheerful faces, testifying to the good humour which 
prevailed on both sides. 1 A small square box containing 
the certificates of the electoral votes was brought to 
Ferry, 2 who began the count in the alphabetical order of 
the States, opening first the certificate from Alabama 
which he handed to Allison, one of the tellers, to read. 
The chair asked if there were any objections to the vote 
and hearing none directed one of the tellers to announce 
that Alabama had given ten votes for Tilden and 
Hendricks. The votes of Arkansas, California, Colo- 
rado, Connecticut and Delaware were counted in like 
manner, three of them for Tilden, two for Hayes. 
When Florida was reached, from which State there were 
three certificates, objections were made and the case of 
Florida was sent to the Electoral Commission, the joint 
session having occupied two hours. The Commission 
met at three o'clock' in the United States Supreme Court 
room in the Capitol, Clifford the judge longest in office 
in the chair, the act having designated him as president. 
The five judges, having discarded their judicial gowns, 
sat in the centre, the senators at their right, the repre- 
sentatives at their left. 3 The arguments were not begun 
till the following day, February 2. 

Certificate No. 1 from Florida was in favour of the 

1 Monroe, p. 531. 2 The President of the Senate. 

New York Tribune ; F. T. Hill, Harper's Mag. March, 1907. 


four Hayes electors and was signed by the Governor and 
Secretary of State. Certificate No. 2 certified the choice 
of the Tilden electors and had the signature of the 
Attorn ay-General, the third and Democratic member of 
the Board of State Canvassers. The electors mentioned 
in No. 1 had cast their votes for Hayes, those in No. 2 
for Tilden on December 6, the day required by law. 
Certificate No. 3 dated January 26, 1877 was also in favour 
of the Tilden electors and embraced an attestation of 
their votes on the lawful day. This certificate was author- 
ized by quo warrants proceedings ; by a decision of the 
Circuit and Supreme Courts of Florida that the Hayes 
electors were usurpers and the Tilden electors duly chosen ; 
by an act of the new legislature ; and by a certification 
under the seal of the State by the new governor [this 
legislature and this governor were Democratic], 

February 2 was devoted to the arguments of members 
of the House who were objectors to the respective cer- 
tificates and Saturday the 3d and Monday the 5th to 
arguments of counsel. 1 The paramount question was, 
Ought the Electoral Commission to go behind the returns? 
Judge Black maintained that the evidence in regard to 
Florida, taken by the committees of both Houses, was 
part of the record and that it would be unjust and wrong 
to permit counsel to apply to that evidence, " those 
snapperadoes of nisi prius practice which might do if 
this case, instead of concerning the rights of a whole 
nation, related to the price of a sheep. . . . There can 
be no objection to the evidence in a court of equity. 
. . . For purposes of justice as well as the purposes of 
convenience it is necessary that you should pursue the 
course of courts of equity and not come the quarter- 

1 The counsel on the Democratic side were : Charles O'Conor of N. Y. , Jere- 
miah S. Black of Penn., Richard T. Merrick of Washington, Ashbel Green of 
N.J., William C. Whitney of N.Y. On the Republican side, William M. 
Evarts and E. W. Stoughton of N.Y., Stanley Matthews and Samuel Shella- 
barger of Ohio. 


sessions rule over us." 1 Evarts argued " that this Com- 
mission cannot receive evidence in addition to the cer- 
tificates, of the nature of that which is offered ; that is, 
evidence that goes behind the State's record of its elec- 
tion, which has been certified by the Governor as resulting 
in the appointment of these electors." 2 For otherwise, 
as so many questions were involved, there would be no 
end to the investigation and inquiry. No determination 
could possibly be reached by the 4th of March when the 
new President must be inaugurated. 

O'Conor asserted that " there is really nothing in this 
broadly presented question of overwhelming incon- 
venience. . . . There is no limit to the power of inves- 
tigation for the purpose of reaching the ends of justice, 
except such as a due regard for public convenience and 
the interests of public justice and society at large may 
impose in the exercise of this discretionary authority. 
. . . The Supreme Court, speaking by the voice of 
Judge Story, pronounced all decisions of every descrip- 
tion, however solemn, impeachable for fraud and capable 
of being reversed. . . . You have a right to go on to 
investigate this matter and to determine two things : 
first whether the Hayes electoral vote is valid ; and sec- 
ondly whether the Tilden electoral vote is valid. The 
final decision at which you may arrive might reject either 
or might reject both. . . . The Constitution prescribes 
no forms save such as have been complied with by the 
Tilden electors; the laws of Congress prescribe no forms 
that were not complied with by the Tilden electors, save 
and except only that they could not obtain the Governor's 
certificate ; and it is pretty much conceded, I think, that 
the Governor's certificate is not absolutely indispensable 
and might be gainsaid and contradicted even if it had 
been given. . . . Between these two sets of electors, it 
appears to me that we present the best legal title. That 

1 Electoral Commission, pp. 82, 83. 2 Ibid., p. 118. 


we have the moral right is the common sentiment of all 
mankind. It will be the judgment of posterity." 1 

0' Conor's argument was the final one in the Florida 
case. On Tuesday February 6, the Commission de- 
liberated in secret from 10 A.M. to 7.45 P.M. and next 
day the discussion was continued until three in the 
afternoon when the following order was proposed by 
Miller, " That no evidence will be received or considered 
by the Commission which was not submitted to the 
joint convention of the two Houses by the President 
of the Senate with the different certificates, except such 
as relates to the eligibility of F. C. Humphreys, one of 
the electors." This was determined in the affirmative 
by 8:7, Bradley, Edmunds, Frelinghuysen, Garfield, 
Hoar, Miller, Morton and Strong voting aye ; Abbott, 
Bayard, Clifford, Field, Hunton, Payne and Thurman 
no. Abbott moved, "That in the case of Florida the 
Commission will receive evidence relating to the eligibil- 
ity of Frederick C. Humphreys, one of the persons 
named in certificate No. 1, as elector." 2 This was carried 
by 8 : 7, Bradley voting with the Democrats. 

Thursday February 8 was devoted to the evidence 
and arguments in regard to the eligibility of Humphreys 
who had held the office of shipping-commissioner for 
the port of Pensacola ; 3 and on the ninth, the Commis- 
sion sat in secret session the whole of the day. That 
the Tilden counsel did not make out their case against 
Humphreys seems evident from a resolution offered by 
Thurman that " Humphreys was not a United States 
shipping-commissioner on the seventh day of November 
1876 " [the day of the election], but after some debate 
this resolution, for some reason which does not appear, 

i Electoral Commission, pp. 129, 130, 131, 132, 135. * ifc id . , pp . i 38 , 139. 

8 The Constitution provided that " no senator or representative or person 
holding an office of trust or profit under the United States shall be appointed 
an elector." 


was withdrawn. Finally on the motion of Garfield it 
was decided by 8:7 that the four electors named in the 
certificate signed by the Governor were duly appointed 
and that their votes should be counted for Hayes. All 
the Republicans including Bradley voted aye, all the 
Democrats no. The Commission had been in secret 
session from 10 A.M. to 8 P.M. with two intermissions of 
an hour and a half; they had adjudged the vote of 
Florida to Hayes and practically decided the presidency. 
The ground of their decision was : " That it is not 
competent under the Constitution and the law, as 
it existed at the date of the passage of said act, 
to go into evidence aliunde on the papers opened by 
the President of the Senate in the presence of the two 
Houses to prove that other persons than those regularly 
certified to by the governor of the State of Florida, in 
and according to the determination and declaration of 
their appointment by the Board of State Canvassers of 
said State prior to the time required for the performance 
of their duties, had been appointed electors, or by 
counter-proof to show that they had not, and that all 
proceedings of the courts or acts of the Legislature, or 
of the executive of Florida, subsequent to the casting of 
the votes of the electors on the prescribed day are in- 
admissible for any such purpose." * 

Nothing could be more interesting than the discussions 
during these long secret sessions of which no steno- 
graphic report was made, and no journal printed, except 
the bare record of the decisions. Payne kept a diary 
of these proceedings but it was never published and 
was undoubtedly destroyed by him before his death. 2 

1 Electoral Commission, pp. 194-197. 

2 I applied to Mr. Payne directly and indirectly a number of times for the 
use of this diary when I should come to this period of my history. I always 
met with a courteous refusal. He told me that he had promised Senator 
Edmunds never to publish it without the senator's consent. To a common 
friend he intimated that the diary should die with himself. 


The only authentic account of the arguments is in that 
volume the title of which I have abbreviated to " Elec- 
toral Commission." 1 These opinions, many of which 
were not reduced to writing until some while after 
having been given during the secret sessions, are of high 
value in the study of the case. 

Thurman said : " Now, upon the county returns it is 
not denied, and, indeed, appears by evidence already be- 
fore us, and not controverted, that the Tilden electors 
received a majority of the votes of the people of Florida ; 
and it also appears that it was only by throwing out 
the votes of counties or precincts that an apparent 
majority was shown for the Hayes electors. Had the 
canvassing board of Florida any authority to throw out 
these votes ? The highest judicial tribunal of that 
State, interpreting the statute creating that board and 
defining its powers, has' decided that the canvassing board, 
in throwing out the votes for the Tilden electors and 
thereby giving an apparent majority to the Hayes elec- 
tors, acted without jurisdiction, and their act was, 
therefore, absolutely null and void. .... It is said that 
if we go behind the decision of the canvassing board we 
must go to the bottom, and may thus be led to investigate 
the doings of hundreds of thousands of election officers 
in the United States and the qualification of millions of 
voters. I reply, non constat. It is not sound logic to say, 
that because we cannot investigate everything we shall in- 
vestigate nothing, that because we cannot correct all errors 
and frauds we shall correct none. The law never requires 
impossibilities, but it does require what is possible." 2 

Justice Miller said : " The Legislature of Florida has 
vested in her board of canvassers the authority to deter- 

1 Count of Electoral Votes. Proceedings of Congress and Electoral Com- 
mission, 1877, p. 817. The same material is printed in Cong. Eecord, vol. v. 
part iv. 44th Cong. 2d Sess., " Electoral Commission." 

2 Electoral Commission, pp. 834, 835. 


mine who are elected electors. It has conferred no power 
on any tribunal to revise that decision. The board in this 
respect represents the State. Its judgment is her judg- 
ment and its official certificate is her authorized expression 
of what she has done in the matter, and it is conclusive. 
... If an elector, or a body of electors, present with 
the vote which they cast for President and Vice-President 
the evidence which the State has prescribed of their 
appointment, the inquiry of the two Houses is answered. 
They have been legally and officially informed who are 
entitled to vote as electors for that State. There exists 
neither in the nature of the duty they are to perform 
nor in any language of the Constitution the right to in- 
quire into the validity of that appointment, the means 
by which it was brought about, the fairness of the elec- 
tion by which it was determined, or the misconduct of 
the tribunal which the State had created to determine 
the result. Much has been said of the danger of the 
device of returning boards, and it may be they have 
exercised their power in a manner not always worthy 
of commendation. But I take the liberty of saying 
that such a power lodged in one or in both Houses of 
Congress would be a far more permanent menace to the 
liberty of the people, to the legitimate result of the pop- 
ular vote, than any device for counting these votes which 
has as yet been adopted by the States. 

"Neither at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, 
nor at any time since, would the people of the States 
have placed in the hands of Congress the power to con- 
stitute itself a returning board as to the votes for 
presidential electors, and then upon the vote cast by 
those whom they declare to be electors, decide who is to be 
President and Vice-President of the United States ; but 
that is precisely the power claimed for the two Houses of 
Congress and for this Commission representing them." l 

1 Electoral Commission, pp. 1013, 1014, 


When the Commission went into the first secret ses- 
sion the vote of every member could be divined except 
that of the fifteenth man. Anxiety as to Bradley 's 
position reached the highest possible pitch until he 
gave his opinion. He has himself told how hard he 
strove to fill his position of arbiter. "The question 
was one of grave importance," he wrote, "and to me 
of much difficulty and embarrassment. I earnestly 
endeavored to come to a right decision, free from all 
political or other extraneous considerations. In my 
private examination of the principal question (about 
going behind the returns) I wrote and re-wrote the 
arguments and considerations on both sides as they 
occurred to me, sometimes being inclined to one view 
of the subject, and sometimes to the other. But finally 
I threw aside these lucubrations and . . . wrote out 
the short opinion which I read in the Florida case 
during the sitting of the Commission. This opinion 
expresses the honest conclusion to which I had arrived, 
and which, after a full consideration of the whole 
matter, seemed to me the only satisfactory solution of 
the question." 1 

" The practice of the government," said Bradley in 
secret session, " as well as the true construction of the 
Constitution, has settled that the powers of the Presi- 
dent of the Senate are merely ministerial, conferred 
upon him as a matter of convenience. ... If any 
examination at all is to be gone into, or any judgment 
is to be exercised in relation to the votes received, it 
must be performed and exercised by the two Houses. 
Then arises the question, how far can the two Houses 
go in questioning the votes received, without trenching 
upon the power reserved to the States themselves ? The 
extreme reticence of the Constitution on the subject 

1 Letter to the Newark Daily Advertiser, Sept. 2, 1877. Joseph P. Bradley, 
Miscellaneous Writings, p. 221. 


leaves wide room for inference. Each State has a just 
right to have the entire and exclusive control of its 
own vote for the Chief Magistrate and head of the 
republic, without any interference on the part of any 
other State, acting either separately or in Congress 
with others. If there is any State right of which it 
is and should be more jealous than of any other it is 
this. And such seems to have been the spirit mani- 
fested by the framers of the Constitution. ... It 
seems to me to be clear, therefore, that Congress cannot 
institute a scrutiny into the appointment of electors by 
a State. It would be taking it out of the hands of 
the State, to which it properly belongs. This never 
could have been contemplated by the people of the 
States when they agreed to the Constitution. It would 
be going one step further back than that instrument 
allows. While the two Houses of Congress are author- 
ized to canvass the electoral votes, no authority is 
given to them to canvass the election of the electors 
themselves. To revise the canvass of that election, 
as made by the State authorities, on the suggestion 
of fraud, or for any other cause, would be tantamount 
to a recanvass. ... It seems to me that the two 
Houses of Congress, in proceeding with the count, are 
bound to recognize the determination of the State 
board of canvassers as the act of the State, and as 
the most authentic evidence of the appointment made 
by the State ; and that while they may go behind the 
Governor's certificate, if necessary, they can only do 
so for the purpose of ascertaining whether he has truly 
certified the results to which the board arrived. They 
cannot sit as a court of appeals on the action of that 
board." l 

On February 10, the two Houses met to hear the 
report of the Electoral Commission, after which the 

1 Electoral Commission, pp. 1020, 1021, 1023. 


Senate retired to its chamber and ratified the decision 
of the Commission in regard to Florida. On Monday 
February 12, the House voted the reverse. The Joint 
Meeting was resumed and Ferry, the Presiding Officer, 
stated that the two Houses not concurring in ordering 
otherwise, the decision of the Commission would stand 
unreversed and in accordance therewith the Count would 
proceed. He directed the tellers to announce the vote ; 
and Senator Allison declared that the four votes of 
Florida were given to Hayes and Wheeler. The Count 
proceeded without interruption until Louisiana was 
reached and, as more than one certificate had been re- 
ceived from that State, her case in due form was sent to 
the Electoral Commission. The case was argued at 
length on both sides l but the decision was foreshadowed 
by that in regard to Florida. For while morally the 
Democratic case was stronger in Louisiana than in 
Florida it seemed no better from a technically legal 
point of view. On Friday February 16, the Commission 
came to a vote. Before the main question was put 
Abbott offered a number of substitutes, Hunton, Bayard 
and Field each another, possibly in the hope of gaining 
Bradley's adhesion to some one of the differing propo- 
sitions, the adoption of any of which would have 
admitted evidence, resulting probably in the adjudg- 
ment of Louisiana's vote to Tilden. It was in vain: 
they were all voted down by 8:7, Bradley siding 
with his brother Republicans. Hoar's motion (the 
main question) "That the evidence offered be not 
received " was determined in the affirmative by 8:7. 
Thurman's proposition to throw out the votes of Louisiana 
was similarly rejected; and by the now familiar vote 

1 The counsel on the Tilden side were John A. Campbell of Louisiana, 
Lyman Trumbull of Illinois, Matt. H. Carpenter of Wisconsin, Richard 
T. Merrick of Washington, George Hoadley of Ohio, Ashbel Green of New 
Jersey. The Hayes counsel were the same as in the Florida case, Evarts, 
Stoughton, Matthews and Shellabarger. 


of 8 Republicans to 7 Democrats, the eight electoral 
votes of Louisiana were adjudged to Hayes. 1 

1 Electoral Commission, pp. 416-421. The "brief grounds of the de- 
cision" were: "the Commission has by a majority of votes decided, and 
does hereby decide, that it is not competent under the Constitution and the 
law as it existed at the date of the passage of said act to go into evidence 
aliunde the papers opened by the President of the Senate in the presence 
of the two Houses to prove that other persons than those regularly certi- 
fied to by the governor of the State of Louisiana, on and according to the 
determination and declaration of their appointment by the returning officers 
for elections in the said State prior to the time required for the perform- 
ance of their duties, had been appointed electors, or by counter-proof to 
show that they had not ; or that the determination of the said returning 
officers was not in accordance with the truth and the fact the Commission 
by a majority of votes being of opinion that it is not within the jurisdiction 
of the two Houses of Congress assembled to count the votes for President and 
Vice-President to enter upon a trial of such question. 

The Commission by a majority of votes is also of opinion that it is not 
competent to prove that any of said persons so appointed electors as aforesaid 
held an office of trust or profit under the United States at the time when they 
were appointed, or that they were ineligible under the laws of the State or any 
other matter offered to be proved aliunde the said certificates and papers. 

The Commission is also of opinion by a majority of votes that the return- 
ing officers of election who canvassed the votes at the election for electors in 
Louisiana were a legally constituted body, by virtue of a constitutional law, 
and that a vacancy in said body did not vitiate its proceedings." 

Bradley said in secret session : " If it be true, as alleged, that members of 
only one political party remained on it, it may have been an impropriety in 
proceeding without filling the vacancy, and the motives of the members may 
have been bad motives, corrupt, fraudulent, what not ; but with improprieties 
and with the motives of the members we have nothing to do. We are not the 
judges of their motives. The question with which we have to do is a question 
of power, of legal authority in four members to act. And of this I have no 
doubt. ... I cannot bring my mind to believe that fraud and misconduct 
on the part of the State authorities, constituted for the very purpose of de- 
claring the final will of the State, is a subject over which the two Houses of 
Congress have jurisdiction to institute an examination. The question is not 
whether frauds ought to be tolerated, or whether they ought not to be circum- 
vented ; but whether the Houses of Congress, in exercising their power of 
counting the electoral votes, are intrusted by the Constitution with the 
authority to investigate them. If in any case it should clearly and manifestly 
appear, in an unmistakable manner, that a direct fraud had been committed 
by a returning board in returning the electors they did, and if it did not re- 
quire an investigation on the part of the two Houses to ascertain by the 
taking of evidence the truth of the case, I have no doubt that the Houses 
might rightfully reject the vote as not being the vote of the State. But 
where no such manifest fraud appears, and fraud is only charged, how are the 


Similar procedure to that of Florida followed in 
regard to Louisiana. The Senate voted to sustain the 
decision of the Electoral Commission, the House the 
contrary. It is an indication how much stronger in 
the forum of public opinion Tilden's case was in Louisi- 
ana than in Florida that Conkling, who had voted with 
his political brethren in the first, was now absent when 
the Louisiana vote was taken and that Henry L. Pierce 
and Professor Seelye, Republican representatives from 
Massachusetts, protested against counting the electoral 
votes of Louisiana for Hayes, although they had sus- 
tained the decision of the Commission in regard to 
Florida. The Count proceeded. Frivolous objections 
were made by the Democrats to votes from Michigan 
and Nevada which were overruled and in due course 
Oregon was reached ; her case was sent to the Commis- 
sion and argued. 1 On February 23, at the home of 
Thurman, who was too ill to go to the Capitol, the 
fifteen voted unanimously that Cronin's vote should not 
be counted for Tilden and by 8 : 7 that the vote of 
Watts should be counted for Hayes, thus giving Ore- 
gon's three votes to Hayes. 2 Objected to by the House 

two Houses to enter upon a career of investigation ? If the field of inquiry 
were once opened where is its boundary ? Evidently no such proceeding was 
in the mind of the framers of the Constitution. The short and explicit direc- 
tions there given, that the votes should be first produced before the Houses 
when met for that purpose, and that 'the votes shall then be counted,' is at 
variance with any such idea. . . . The jurisdiction of the whole matter 
belongs exclusively to the States. Let them take care to protect themselves 
from the perpetration of frauds. They need no guardians. They are able, 
and better able than Congress, to create every kind of political machinery 
which human prudence can contrive, for circumventing fraud, and preserving 
their true voice and vote in the presidential election. 

"In my judgment, the evidence proposed cannot be received." Electoral 
Commission, pp. 422, 1029, 1031, 1032. 

1 The Tilden counsel were, Merrick, Hoadley, Green and A. P. Morse. The 
Hayes counsel, the same as in Florida and Louisiana, Evarts, Stoughton, 
Matthews, Shellabarger. 

2 Bradley showed the consistency of the action of the Commission in the 
cases of Florida and Louisiana on one side and in that of Oregon on the other. 
Electoral Commission, p. 1037. 


but ratified by the Senate the decision of the Commis- 
sion was sustained. The Count went on. Objections 
without weight were made by the Democrats to votes 
from Pennsylvania and Rhode Island which were over- 
ruled. South Carolina was reached and sent to the 
Commission, which, on February 27, decided unani- 
mously that the Tilden electors were not the lawful 
ones and by 8 : 7 that the seven votes of South Carolina 
should be counted for Hayes. The two Houses of Con- 
gress not concurring to overthrow this decision, it stood, 
and the votes in accordance therewith were declared. 
Tennessee and Texas were then counted for Tilden. 

The Democrats were grievously disappointed at the 
decision of the Commission in the case of Florida and, 
after Louisiana had been counted for Hayes, they were 
sore and angry. They felt that they were being cheated 
out of the fairly won presidency ; but the Democratic 
senators and two-thirds of the Democratic members of 
the House made it evident that they would abide loyally 
by the award. Of potent influence among these were 
the Southern representatives. After the Florida deci- 
sion, Benjamin H. Hill, convinced that the Republicans 
would win, consulted with a number of ex-Confederates, 
all members of the House, with the result that forty-two 
of them " solemnly pledged themselves to each other 
upon their sacred honor to oppose all attempts to frus- 
trate the counting of the votes ipr President " as they 
" did not propose to permit a second civil war if their 
votes could prevent it." l There were however about 
sixty recalcitrant representatives, mostly from the North 
and West, who, with no well-defined programme and 
with little reason, attempted to delay the proceedings ; 
and had an irresolute speaker held the gavel, they might 
have caused trouble. But Samuel J. Randall was a man 
of force, and having at his back two-thirds of the Demo- 

1 Hill's statement, New York Times, June 10, 1878. See also Hill's 
remarks in House Democratic caucus Feb. 12, Life, p. 76. 

342 FINAL RESULT [1877 

cratic representatives and the moral influence of the 
Democratic senators, determined that there should be 
no serious obstruction to the operation of the law and 
the progress of the Count. On February 24, he made a 
ruling embodying this determination, and he held the 
House well in hand until March 1, when it assembled to 
consider the objection to the vote of one elector from 
Vermont. The House met at ten in the morning and 
dilatory motions almost immediately began. Much ex- 
cited talk and some turbulence ensued but, under the 
skilful and resolute guidance of the Speaker, the two 
hours' debate under the law was had, when the sixty 
filibusters renewed their attempts, an Ohio member 
declaring, "When fraud is law filibustering is patriot- 
ism." At last however the vote on Vermont was 
taken. At 10.35 P.M. the Senate entered the Repre- 
sentatives Hall, Ferry took the chair and the five votes 
of Vermont were counted for Hayes. Virginia and 
West Virginia were then counted for Tilden, when Wis- 
consin, the last State on the list, was reached. Objec- 
tion was made to the eligibility of one elector and at 
11.25 P.M. the Senate retired to its chamber. There were 
more attempts at filibustering and considerable excite- 
ment in the House before and after the two hours' debate, 
but the representatives came to a vote so that the Joint 
Meeting could be resumed. This was at five minutes 
before four in the morning. Wisconsin was counted 
for Hayes when Ferry said : " This concludes the count 
of the thirty-eight States of the Union. The tellers will 
now ascertain and deliver the result to the President of 
the Senate." Allison (one of the tellers) stated the 
result in detail. Ferry then said : " In announcing the 
final result of the electoral vote the Chair trusts that all 
present, whether on the floor or in the galleries, will 
refrain from all demonstrations whatever ; that nothing 
shall transpire on this occasion to mar the dignity and 
moderation which have characterized these proceedings 


in the main, so reputable to the American people and 
worthy of the respect of the world." He announced the 
vote as 185 for Hayes and 184 for Tilden and declared 
Hayes elected President for four years commencing on 
the 4th of March 1877. 1 He continued, The count of 
the electoral vote being completed, and the result de- 
clared, the joint meeting of the two Houses is dissolved." 
The Senate left the Representatives Hall at ten minutes 
past four on Friday morning, March 2, 1877. 2 

The 4th of March falling on Sunday Hayes took 
the oath of office from Chief Justice Waite on that day 8 
and on the following Monday was formally inaugurated. 4 

1 A similar announcement and declaration was made in regard to Wheeler. 

2 Cong. Record, p. 2068. 

8 The New York Tribune and Boston Advertiser say that Hayes took the 
oath on Saturday evening, March 3, at the White House. Waite adminis- 
tered it and Grant and Fish were witnesses. 

4 My authorities for this account of the disputed presidency are docu- 
ments of 44th Cong. 2d Sess., Nos. 2, 34, 42. Reports Nos. 100, 143, 156, 
561, 698, 678. Report No. 457, 42d Cong. 3d Sess. ; Report No. 261, 43d 
Cong. 2d Sess. ; House Mis. Doc. , 45th Cong. 3d Sess. Testimony relating to 
Florida, Louisiana and the Cipher Telegrams ; Life of Tilden, Bigelow, vol. 
ii. ; John Sherman's Recollections, vol. i. ; A Grave Crisis in American His- 
tory, Milton H. Northrup, Century Magazine, Oct. 1901 ; S. S. Cox, Three 
Decades of Federal Legislation ; Manton Marble, Secret Chapter of Political 
History ; Cong. Eecord ; Count of Electoral Votes, Proceedings of Con- 
gress and Electoral Commission, 1877, referred to as Electoral Commis- 
sion ; Conversation with H. B. Payne and Charles Foster, soon after 
Hayes's inauguration ; with H. B. Payne, April 20, 1889, Jan. 3, 1894 ; The 
Nation, 1876, 1877 ; New York Times, Herald, World, Tribune, Chicago 
Tribune ; Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1876, 1877 ; Life of Bowles, Mer- 
riam, vol. ii. ; Autobiography of G. F. Hoar, vol. i. ; J. S. Black, Essays and 
Speeches, The Great Fraud, p. 312 ; Letter to Stoughton, p. 340 ; E. W. 
Stoughton, " The Electoral Conspiracy Bubble Exploded," North American 
Review, Sept.-Oct. 1877 ; Josiah G. Abbott, Draft of the Address pre- 
pared for the Minority of the Electoral Commission ; James Monroe, The 
Hayes-Tilden Electoral Commission, Atlantic Monthly, Oct. 1893 ; Stanwood, 
History of the Presidency ; Blaine, vol. ii. ; Life of Morton, Foulke, vol. ii. ; 
Life of Bayard, Spencer ; Life of B. II. Hill, Hill ; Life of Lamar, Mayes ; 
Bradley, Miscellaneous Writings ; Life of Conkling, Conkling ; Gibson, A 
Political Crime ; John Bigelow, The Supreme Court and the Electoral Com- 
mission, pamphlet ; Life of Nast, Paine ; Poore, Reminiscences, vol. ii. ; 
Julian's Later Speeches ; McCulloch, Men and Measures ; Recollections of 
George W. Childs ; Garneld's Works, vol. ii. ; Allen's Chamberlain. 


We had a first-rate case, but we lost it by imper- 
fect pleadings," said Alexander H. Stephens. 1 The 
implication that the management of the Republican 
case was better than that of the Democratic is undoubt- 
edly justified if the two be regarded in their entirety. 
Evarts had charge of Hayes's cause and showed himself 
both diligent and adroit. He was always present at 
the sessions of the Commission, presumably listening 
intently, ready to see any weak point in an adversary's 
plea. He made arguments in the cases of Florida, 
Louisiana and Oregon and there is a symmetry and con- 
sistency in his pleas for which we look in vain on the 
Democratic side. With a good deal of force he charged 
his opponents with changing their legal position in the 
different cases, 2 but Evarts himself, with an eye always 
to the fifteenth man, laid down principles which hang 
together. While he was in the case from the beginning 
to the end, O'Conor argued Florida and then vanished. 
Black was in the Florida case and did not again appear 
until he attempted to browbeat the Court when South 
Carolina was being considered, indulging also in an 
impassioned appeal to the Democratic voters of the 
country. Trumbull, Carpenter and Campbell argued 
the Tilden case in Louisiana and then disappeared, 3 but 
the inexorable logic of Evarts ran through Florida, 
Louisiana and Oregon ; he relied on close legal argu- 
ments whilst his Democratic opponents frequently spoke 
as from the stump. 

This consideration however loses much of its weight 
when it is remembered that Tilden lost the presidency 
by the decision in the Florida case, which was as well 
argued on the Democratic as on the Republican side. 
A contemporary opinion, before the decision was ren- 
dered, is of value as tending to confirm the impression 

1 Johnston and Browne, p. 537. 2 Electoral Commission, p. 610. 

8 Merrick it Is true argued Florida and Oregon and filed a brief in Louisiana. 


which one now derives from a careful reading of the 
two great pleas. " To-day," wrote on February 5 the 
Washington correspondent of The Nation, " O'Conor and 
Evarts finished the argument on the question of juris- 
diction and evidence, in speeches which will be long 
remembered by all who heard them. ... When 
O'Conor rose to reply there was, I think, a general 
feeling among the lawyers who were present that the 
case on the Republican side had been, all things con- 
sidered, well put, and that what was now needed was 
not new argument so much as a careful weighing of the 
arguments as they actually stood to determine which 
side had the best of it. O'Conor not only undertook to 
do this, but to do it in a way which could leave no 
vestige of doubt in anybody's mind as to the probable 
decision of the case. It was a classical argument, one 
that would bear comparison with any that we are 
accustomed to refer to as models, and one that, at any 
rate for the moment, carried conviction with it. The 
positions of the Republican lawyers were first carefully 
stated, and then confuted ; their arguments put into 
the simplest and most vigorous English ; and instead of 
time being wasted on every detail of the case, only those 
positions which were real strategic points were attacked. 
. . . His whole argument was a masterpiece. Of 
what the decision will be it is, of course, impossible to 
form any opinion, but it is equally impossible to dispute 
the fact that on the opening argument of the last few 
days the Democrats have had altogether the best of it." l 
Of all those connected with the great lawsuit Bradley 
occupied the most responsible and unenviable position ; 
and owing to the "deep-seated feeling of injury" 
and " keen sense of wrong " 2 on the part of the Demo- 
crats has not escaped calumny. One charge was that 
"after preparing a written opinion in favor of the 

l Feb. 8, p. 84. * Hewitt. 


Tilden electors in the Florida case " he changed his 
views " during the night preceding the vote in conse- 
quence of pressure brought to bear upon him by Re- 
publican politicians and Pacific Railroad men, whose 
carriages it was said surrounded his house during the 
evening." "The whole thing is a falsehood," wrote 
Bradley on September 2, 1877. "Not a single visitor 
called at my house that evening." 1 Another story was 
that when Bradley was wavering, Miller with partisan 
argument and overbearing disposition brought him to 
his [Miller's] own view by urging that he was the 
trustee for four million Republican voters and must prove 
worthy of the trust. " During the whole sitting of the 
Commission, "wrote Bradley," I had no private discussion 
whatever on the subjects at issue with any person inter- 
ested on the Republican side, and but very few words 
with any person. Indeed, I sedulously sought to avoid 
all discussion outside the Commission itself. The 
allegation that I read an opinion to Judges Clifford and 
Field is entirely untrue. I read no opinion to either of 
them, and have no recollection of expressing any. If I 
did, it could only have been suggestively, or in an 
hypothetical manner, and not intended as a committal 
of my final judgment or action." 2 Beyond question, 
every word which Bradley has written concerning this 
matter may be implicitly believed. 

If the Electoral Commission had decided to go behind 
the returns, the votes of Florida or Louisiana or of both 
would inevitably have been either counted for Tilden or 
altogether rejected : any one of these results would have 
made Tilden President. That such a decision would 
have better satisfied the country both at the time and 
afterwards is beyond doubt. The argument of " over- 
whelming inconvenience" so potently urged by the 

1 J. P. Bradley, Miscellaneous Writings, p. 220. 

2 Sept. 2, 1877, J. P. Bradley, Miscellaneous Writings, p. 221, 


Republican lawyers may be at once dismissed. Though 
the law's delay is a familiar fact in American life, it is 
none the less true that lawyers and judges can make 
haste if the demand is imperative; and ways might have 
been found to admit sufficient evidence for an award to 
have been arrived at before the 4th of March. 

The decision of the Commission was peculiarly aggra- 
vating to the Democrats. The Board of State Canvassers 
of Florida and the Returning-Board of Louisiana could 
go behind the returns to correct fraud, irregularities and 
intimidation of negroes, but when such action had served 
to establish the competency of the Hayes electors, the 
principle, on which it was based, was repudiated and 
the contradictory principle laid down : that returns reg- 
ular in form must be counted. The unreasonableness of 
altering the doctrine to suit the differing cases stood out, 
as it was found that the argument of intimidation of 
negro voters had been worn threadbare and could not 
prevail in the popular mind against the patent fact of 
throwing out thousands of Democratic votes in Lou- 

But, though in the case under consideration, greater 
justice would have been done by correcting the fraud in 
Louisiana, the decision of the Electoral Commission was 
better law than the opinion of the seven; and, at any 
period of our history, except that of the carpet-bag-negro 
regime from 1867 to 1877, the application of the principle, 
on which it was based, would have given practical jus- 
tice. The decision was more in accordance with both 
the letter and the spirit of the Constitution and with 
common sense American ideas. On the principles which 
actuated it the Count was conducted from 1789 to 1865 
and has been since 1877, and, in accordance with them, 
the Electoral Count Act of February 3, 1887 was framed. 

It will be seen that I cannot join in the Democratic 
outcry against the singular partisanship of the 8. To 
me the partisanship of the 7 is equally obvious. The 


Democrats had the chance of making out their Repub- 
lican brethren thoroughgoing partisans in comparison 
with themselves, by voting with them to give Oregon 
and South Carolina to Hayes, as they had voted on the 
collateral questions in these two cases. In the Electoral 
Commission it was partisan bias that determined in 
each case (with the possible exception of Bradley's) the 
direction of legal thought and the unvarying alignment 
of votes. This is the reason why the 8 : 7 has become a 
formula of derision to the losers of the great lawsuit, 
and not merely because of the majority of one : for, by 
this slender majority, have been made many of the most 
important decisions of the United States Supreme Court 
when political partisanship has exercised little or no 
influence. Such a division imports a close question, as 
assuredly was, even in law, the disputed presidency. 

The suggestion that Hayes should have refused the 
presidency in March 1877 seems to me idle. I believe 
that he ought to have stopped the action in his favour 
of the Louisiana Returning-Board, but after going thus 
far, he stood as the avowed representative of his 
party ; and the party having joined with their opponents 
in submitting the dispute to a fair arbitration and having 
finally won their cause, he had no choice but to take 
the place. Though his moral title to the presidency 
was always questioned, his legal title was perfect. 

The seriousness of this crisis of three long months 
can hardly be over-estimated ; and that the issue failed 
to satisfy the rigorous demands of justice is a consider- 
ation whose great weight becomes little when opposed 
to the true significance of the actual achievement. When 
no settlement seemed possible, a settlement was never- 
theless effected ; and effected peaceably and according to 
due process of law under conditions, which, in nearly 
every other country, must inevitably have led to civil 
war. A careful legislative act devised by seven Demo- 
crats and six Republicans and adopted by Congress 


instituted a great lawsuit that was tried under the 
forms of law in the United States Supreme Court room 
by fifteen jurists. The decision, though deemed a gross 
injustice by more than half of the country, was sub- 
mitted to without a suggestion of forcible resistance 
worth considering. The Democratic party in Congress 
and out of it and especially its Southern wing and 
Randall, the Speaker of the House, won for themselves the 
respect and admiration of the country. 

I have already given an account of the restoration of 
home rule to all the late Confederate States except 
Florida, South Carolina and Louisiana. On a mandamus 
issuing from the Supreme Court of Florida, Stearns, 
Republican, who was counted in as Governor by the 
Board of State Canvassers, was ousted and Drew, Demo- 
crat, was admitted ; and the legislature organized with 
a Democratic majority. On January 2, 1877, Drew was 
inaugurated : this may be fixed as the date on which 
intelligence and property regained control in Florida. 

When Hayes was inaugurated as President, he found 
two State governments in South Carolina, each claiming 
rightful authority, one under Chamberlain as Governor, 
the other under Wade Hampton. On the face of the 
election returns the Hayes electors had a majority ; but, 
to secure a majority for Chamberlain, the Republican 
Board of State Canvassers were forced to throw out 
the votes of Edgefield and Laurens counties. To settle 
the dispute on the principles on which Hayes was in- 
ducted into office presented, in view of the undisputed 
facts, no serious difficulty. 

In his letter of acceptance and inaugural address, 
Hayes had spoken of Southern affairs in a liberal tone ; 
but the inevitable generalities of such manifestos did 
not indicate what his action would be when confronted 
at the outset of his administration with this problem 
which admitted of no delay in its solution. The ques- 


tion was, Would he withdraw the United States troops 
from South Carolina and Louisiana, without which the 
negro-carpet-bag governments could not be sustained ? 
Before the Count of the electoral votes was completed, 
Stanley Matthews and Charles Foster of Ohio, personal 
as well as political friends of Hayes, put into writing 
the essence of a conversation with Senator John B. 
Gordon of Georgia and Representative J. Young Brown 
of Kentucky, which was properly interpreted as an 
assurance that Hayes would not continue the policy of 
military intervention in the South. 1 This was without 
the assent of Hayes but it was a statement of what his 
action was certain to be. Indeed it was the final admis- 
sion of the Republican party that their policy of forcing 
negro suffrage upon the South was a failure. Grant, 
himself, would have taken action appropriate to this 
change of policy, had he continued in the White House. 2 
As Judge Black said on February 27 in his plea in the 
case of South Carolina : The Republicans " offer us 
everything now. They denounce negro supremacy and 
carpet-bag thieves. Their pet policy for the South is to 
be abandoned." 8 

It is frequently asserted that without this tacit bar- 
gain between the friends of Hayes and the representatives 
of the South the electoral Count would not have been 
peaceably concluded. I do not so read the story of the 
time. After Louisiana was counted for Hayes on Feb- 
ruary 20, the Count was sure to proceed to the end. 
Democratic recalcitrants might have absented themselves 
from the final Joint Meeting but the Senate and a quo- 
rum of the House would certainly have attended the 
declaration that Hayes was elected President. 

1 The date of this letter was Feb. 27. House Mis. Doc., 45th Cong. 2d Sess., 
No. 31, part ii. p. 624 ; Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1877, p. 459. 

2 See letter of his Secretary to Packard March 1, and letter of Burke et al 
to Nicholls, Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1877 } P- 467. 

3 Electoral Commission, p. 698. 


This explanation was necessary before continuing the 
story of South Carolina. On March 23, Hayes sum- 
moned Chamberlain and Hampton to Washington ; and 
their arrival was followed by full and frank conferences, 
the result of which was that the President, with the 
unanimous approval of his cabinet, 1 determined to with- 
draw the United States troops from the State House at 
Columbia. This was done on April 10 and, on that 
day, Chamberlain withdrew from office and turned over 
the records and papers of the executive office to Wade 
Hampton. 2 " Good government," wrote Chamberlain in 
1901, was fully secured. Economy succeeded extrava- 
gance ; judicial integrity and ability succeeded profligacy 
and ignorance on the bench ; ail the conditions of public 
welfare were restored." 3 

In Louisiana there were also two contesting State 
governments, the Republican under Packard, Governor, 
the Democratic under Nicholls, and the decision between 
the two, which the President was virtually called upon 
to make, presented a grave difficulty. The same Return- 

1 Hayes had a strong cabinet : Evarts of New York, Secretary of State, 
Sherman of Ohio, Secretary of the Treasury, George W. McCrary of Iowa, 
Secretary of War, Richard W. Thompson of Indiana, Secretary of the Navy, 
Carl Schurz of Missouri, Secretary of the Interior, D. M. Key of Tennessee, 
Postmaster-General, Charles Devens of Massachusetts, Attorney-General. 

2 Governor Chamberlain's Administration in S.C., Allen ; Appletons' 
Annual Cyclopaedia, 1876, 1877. 

8 Atlantic Monthly, April 1901. Chamberlain also wrote : " If there is 
any interest still attaching to the writer's own view, he is quite ready now to 
say that he feels sure there was no permanent possibility of securing good 
government in South Carolina through Republican influences. If the canvass 
of 1876 had resulted in the success of the Republican party, that party could 
not, for want of materials, even when aided by the Democratic minority, 
have given pure or competent administration. The vast preponderance of 
ignorance and incapacity in that party, aside from downright dishonesty, 
made it impossible. . . . The real truth is, hard as it may be to accept it, that 
the elements put in combination by the reconstruction scheme of Stevens 
and Morton [sic, should be Sumner] were irretrievably bad, and could never 
have resulted, except temporarily or in desperate moments, in government fit 
to be endured." 


ing-Board which had returned the Hayes electors had 
certified to the election of Packard and the Republican 
legislature. " President Hayes would impeach his own 
title were he to refuse Governor Packard recognition " 
telegraphed United States Marshal Pitkin to Packard 
from Washington. 1 It was evident that this charge 
would continually be flung in his face by the Democrats 
and by those who afterwards called themselves stalwart 
Republicans. Hayes showed great moral courage in 
meeting the issue. Acting slowly and cautiously 2 with 

1 March 2. Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1877, p. 457. 

2 Dr. William G. Eliot a Unitarian minister wrote to President Hayes on 
March 26 as follows : " I have been in New Orleans the past week. ... I 
am quite well acquainted there, and mix freely with all,classes. If you attach 
sufficient importance to it to inquire who I am, you can do so from Hon. 
Carl Schurz or General Sherman. The result in my mind is that whatever 
abstract justice may demand under a strict construction of the Fifteenth 
Amendment, the recognition of Packard involves the present and continued 
maintenance of his authority by the United States military strength. Upon 
this point there is no division of opinion. . . . The population of the city 
and State is almost unanimous in refusal to submit to the Packard control, 
except at the point of the bayonet. Under Packard the government at 
Washington would be the government of Louisiana, except that the details 
would be administered by incompetent, timid and half-educated men. I was 
yesterday in the legislature, both House and Senate, of the Republican party, 
and also in the Governor's parlor ; and although I am and always have been a 
Republican, and in every way on the freedom side, I must frankly confess 
that I should not be willing to trust my interests to the influences and men 
which there control. A large majority of the legislature is composed of 
colored people, who are certainly not above the average of respectable negroes 
in our cities, and the white members, if I may judge by appearance and 
manners are a very second-rate sort of men. Any one individual of decided 
ability and good knowledge of parliamentary rule, could easily control the 
whole assembly in either House. I cannot wonder at the unwillingness of 
property holders and educated people to be under the control of such bodies 
of men, even if lawfully elected ; but add to this the universal conviction 
here that most of them were not so elected, and the obstinacy of resistance 
is only what might reasonably be expected. If the troops are withdrawn 
without distinct recognition of either party, the Packard government will 
be compelled quickly to give way. . . . 

" Under Democratic rule it is not probable that the spirit of the Fifteenth 
Amendment will be kept, and scarcely the letter of it, for some years to come. 
Things will settle down to about the same level as in Mississippi and Ala- 
bama ; and where the blacks are in the majority, or approximating it, they 


the aid of an able and fair-minded Commission which 
he sent to New Orleans, he finally gave an order on 
April 20 for the withdrawal of the troops from the 
immediate vicinity of the State House. This was done 
on April 24 and the Nicholls government, which repre- 
sented the intelligence and property of the State, took 
possession of the State House and thenceforward con- 
trolled State affairs. 1 

Considering that Hayes did so much good during his 
first seven weeks in office, it is with deep regret that I 
mention the greatest blot on his administration. All 
the members and clerks of the Louisiana Returning- 
Board or some of their relations received lucrative 
offices, [mostly if not entirely in the city of New Orleans 
itself] mainly from the United States Treasury Depart- 
ment at the head of which was John Sherman. 2 

will be "discouraged" from voting, with whatever degree of moral or 
physical force may be requisite to secure the end. They will be entirely free 
to vote the Democratic ticket, and beyond that will have freedom with pen- 
alty. But gradually that will improve, as the colored people advance in 
thrift and intelligence, as new social and political issues arise, and as the 
educational interests of the South are better regarded. In the last element 
the only sure hope for the future is found, and if an educational test or 
qualification for voting could be secured by an Amendment to the Constitu- 
tion, we might reasonably look for enduring peace. Such results will be 
slow and not quite satisfactory, but hi no other direction is the outlook 
equally good. I was in New Orleans, in charge of a congregation, part of 
the two winters immediately succeeding the war, and am sorry to say that 
nothing has been gained since that time. Both the color line and the party 
line are more marked, political and social animosity is increased." Life of 
W. G. Eliot by Charlotte C. Eliot, p. 286 et seq. 

1 Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, 1876, 1877 ; The Nation. 

2 In H. R. 45th Cong. 3d Sess., No. 140, p. 48 [Potter report] is a list of 
those connected with the Louisiana count "subsequently appointed to or 
retained in office." 

Those connected with the Returning-Board are : J. M. Wells, Surveyor ; 
N. O. ; T. C. Anderson, Deputy-Collector ; N. O. ; S. M. Kenner, Deputy 
Naval Officer ; N. O. ; G. Casanave's brother, U. S. storekeeper ; N. O. ; C. 
A. Vernon (secretary), Inspector, custom house ; N. O. ; C. S. Abell (secre- 
tary), Inspector, custom house ; N. O. ; Y. A. Woodward, clerk, custom 
house ; N. 0. ; W. H. Green, clerk, custom house ; N. O. ; P. P. Blanchard, 
clerk, custom house ; N. O. ; G. R. Davis, clerk, custom house ; N. O. j 


The Hayes-Tilden campaign of 1876 was the last in 
which the Southern question was paramount, the last 
to be fought out on the issue of the " bloody shirt." 
Since then, South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana have 
always given their electoral votes to the Democratic 
candidates for the presidency. 1 With their resumption 
of home rule, the first step in the process by which 
intelligence and property gained the control of affairs 
in all of the Southern States that had joined the Con- 
federacy, my history fitly ends. It has covered twenty- 
seven years of pregnant events : the compromise on 
slavery devised by great statesmen ; its upsetting by an 
ambitious Northern senator ; the formation of the Re- 
publican party ; the agitation of slavery ; Southern arro- 
gance and aggression; the election of Lincoln; the refusal 
of the South to abide by the decision of the ballot-box ; 
the Civil War; the great work of Lincoln; the abolition 
of slavery ; the defeat of the South ; Reconstruction 
based upon universal negro suffrage ; the oppression of 
the South by the North ; the final triumph of Southern 
intelligence and character over the ignorance and cor- 
ruption that so long had thriven under Northern mis- 
conceptions. The discussion of the main theme, signally 
typified in the beginning by Webster's Seven th-of-March 
speech and in the end by Hayes's order to remove the 

Charles Hill, clerk, custom house ; N. O. ; George Grindley, clerk, custom 
house; N. O. ; John Ray (counsel), Special agent, Treasury Department; 
A. C. Wells (son of J. M.), Deputy Surveyor; N. 0. ; T. A. Woolfley 
(affidavit taker), U.S. Commissioner; R. M. J. Kenner (brother), clerk, 
naval office. Wells was appointed by Grant in 1875 ; when his term expired 
Hayes appointed his son A. C. Wells to the position [1880], and the Senate 
rejected him. Executive Journal, vol. xxii. pp. 220, 296. 

The official registers of Sept. 30, 1875, Sept. 30, 1877, June 30, 1879, agree 
in the main with the list in the Potter report. Four of the men held office 
before the electoral count ; all of them but one was appointed to his position 
before Sept. 30, 1877. Only one held a presidential appointment. All were 
in the New Orleans Custom House but two. Data communicated to me by 
D. M. Matteson. See Life of Tildeii, Bigelow, vol. ii. p. 54. 

1 Written in 1906. 


troops from the State Houses of South Carolina and 
Louisiana, has been diversified by a consideration of 
collateral topics. My subject has been varied and im- 
portant, my materials superabundant and, while con- 
scious of my limitations, I have endeavoured throughout 
this history of the great conflict, to which I have devoted 
nineteen years of my life, to maintain such standards of 
research and of judgment as should elicit the utmost of 

What a change between 1850 and 1877 ! A political 
and social revolution had been accomplished ; and the 
minds of men were attuned to the mighty change. The 
United States of 1877 was a better country than 
the United States of 1850. For slavery was abolished, 
the doctrine of secession was dead, and Lincoln's char- 
acter and fame had become a possession of the nation. 
From 1877 on, is seen a growing marvel in national history : 
the reunion of hearts which gives to patriotism the same 
meaning at the South as at the North. Freedom and 
reunion were glorious achievements but in human affairs 
blessings do not come unmixed. Other legacies of the 
War and Reconstruction were an increase of govern- 
mental corruption and a more pronounced tendency 
towards bad administration. But there was clamour 
where there was an abuse ; and the American people 
remained sound at the core. 

Note to note 2, p. 290. Hayes wrote in his diary in 1881 : "I fully be- 
lieved at the time, and subsequent information has confirmed me in the be- 
lief, that Louisiana and Florida were both rightfully counted for Hayes and 
Wheeler, and that the members of the Returning Boards did their duty in 
the premises. If so, they were surely not disqualified by their action from 
holding office. The number of persons liable to this objection is grossly ex- 
aggerated. Wells and Anderson, of Louisiana, and others were in office 
no complaints of misconduct; they were simply not dismissed." Life of 
Hayes, Williams (1914), vol. ii. p. 109. 

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