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Autobiography of Andrew Dickson White

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the matter with you in the governor's room?'' I answered:
``Nothing was the matter with me; what do you
mean?'' He said: ``The moment Seward began to speak
you fastened your eyes intently upon him, you turned so
pale that I thought you were about to drop, and I made
ready to seize you and prevent your falling.'' I then
confessed to him the feeling which was doubtless the cause
of this change of countenance.

As one who cherishes a deep affection for my native
State and for men who have made it great, I may be
allowed here to express the hope that the day will come
when it will redeem itself from the just charge of
ingratitude, and do itself honor by honoring its two greatest
governors, De Witt Clinton and William H. Seward. No
statue of either of them stands at Albany, the place of all
others where such memorials should be erected, not
merely as an honor to the two statesmen concerned, but as
a lesson to the citizens of the State;--pointing out the
qualities which ought to ensure public gratitude, but
which, thus far, democracies have least admired.



At the beginning of my fourth year at Albany, in
1867, came an election to the Senate of the United
States. Of the two senators then representing the State,
one, Edwin D. Morgan, had been governor, and combined
the qualities of a merchant prince and of a shrewd politician;
the other, Ira Harris, had been a highly respected
judge, and was, from every point of view, a most worthy
man: but unfortunately neither of these gentlemen seemed
to exercise any adequate influence in solving the main
questions then before Congress.

No more important subjects have ever come before that
body than those which arose during the early years of
the Civil War, and it was deeply felt throughout the State
that neither of the senators fitly uttered its voice or
exercised its influence.

Mr. Cornell, with whom I had then become intimate, was
never censorious; rarely did he say anything in disapproval
of any man; he was charitable in his judgments, and
generally preferred to be silent rather than severe; but I
remember that on his return from a stay in Washington,
he said to me indignantly: ``While at the Capitol
I was ashamed of the State of New York: one great question
after another came up; bills of the highest importance
were presented and discussed by senators from Ohio,
Vermont, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, and the rest; but from
New York never a word!''

The question now was, who should succeed Senator
Harris? He naturally desired a second term, and it would
have given me pleasure to support him, for he was an old
and honored friend of my father and mother, they having
been, in their early life, his neighbors and schoolmates,
and their friendship having descended to me; but like
others I was disappointed that Senator Harris had not
taken a position more fitting. His main efforts seemed to
be in the line of friendly acts for his constituents. In so
far as these were done for soldiers in the army they were
praiseworthy; though it was generally felt that while arising
primarily from a natural feeling of benevolence, they
were mainly devoted to securing a body of friends
throughout the State, who would support him when the
time should come for his relection. Apparently with the
same object, he was a most devoted supporter of New
York office-seekers of all sorts. He had pleasing personal
characteristics, but it was reported that Mr. Lincoln,
referring to the senator's persistency in pressing candidates
for office, once said: ``I never think of going to sleep now
without first looking under my bed to see if Judge Harris
is not there wanting something for somebody.''

Another candidate was Judge Noah Davis, then of
Lockport, also a man of high character, of excellent legal
abilities, a good speaker, and one who, had he been elected,
would have done honor to the State. But on looking about
I discovered, as I thought, a better candidate. Judge
Bailey, of Oneida County, had called my attention to the
claims of Mr. Roscoe Conkling, then a member of Congress
from the Oneida district, who had distinguished
himself as an effective speaker, a successful lawyer, and
an honest public servant. He had, to be sure, run foul of
Mr. Blaine of Maine, and had received, in return for what
Mr. Blaine considered a display of offensive manners, a
very serious oratorical castigation; but he had just fought
a good fight which had drawn the attention of the whole
State to him. A coalition having been formed between the
anti-war Democrats and a number of disaffected Republicans
in his district to defeat his relection to Congress, it
had seemed likely to overwhelm him and drive him out of
public life, and one thing seemed for a time likely to prove
fatal to him:--the ``New York Tribune,'' the great organ
of the party, edited by Horace Greeley, gave him no effective
support. But the reason was apparent later when it
became known that Mr. Greeley was to be a candidate
for the senatorship, and it was evidently felt that should
Mr. Conkling triumph in such a struggle, he would be a
very serious competitor. The young statesman had shown
himself equal to the emergency. He had fought his battle
without the aid of Mr. Greeley and the ``Tribune,'' and
won it, and, as a result, had begun to be thought of as a
promising candidate for the United States senatorship. I
had never spoken with him; had hardly seen him; but
I had watched his course closely, and one thing especially
wrought powerfully with me in his favor. The men who
had opposed him were of the same sort with those who had
opposed me, and as I was proud of their opposition, I
felt that he had a right to be so. The whole force of
Tammany henchmen and canal contractors throughout
the State honored us both with their enmity.

It was arranged among Mr. Conkling's supporters that,
at the great caucus which was to decide the matter, Mr.
Conkling's name should be presented by the member of
the assembly representing his district, Ellis Roberts, a
man of eminent character and ability, who, having begun
by taking high rank as a scholar at Yale, had become one
of the foremost editors of the State, and had afterward
distinguished himself not only in the State legislature, but
in Congress, and as the head of the independent treasury
in the city of New York. The next question was as to the
speech seconding the nomination. It was proposed that
Judge Folger should make it, but as he showed a curious
diffidence in the matter, and preferred to preside over the
caucus, the duty was tendered to me.

At the hour appointed the assembly hall of the old Capitol
was full; floor and galleries were crowded to suffocation.
The candidates were duly presented, and, among
them, Mr. Conkling by Mr. Roberts. I delayed my speech
somewhat. The general course of it had been thought out
beforehand, but the phraseology and sequence of argument
were left to the occasion. I felt deeply the importance
of nominating Mr. Conkling, and when the moment came
threw my heart into it. I was in full health and vigor, and
soon felt that a very large part of the audience was with
me. Presently I used the argument that the great State
of New York, which had been so long silent in the highest
councils of the Nation, demanded A VOICE. Instantly the
vast majority of all present, in the galleries, in the lobbies,
and on the floor, rose in quick response to the sentiment
and cheered with all their might. There had been no such
outburst in the whole course of the evening. Evidently
this was the responsive chord, and having gone on with
the main line of my argument, I at last closed with the
same declaration in different form;--that our great
Commonwealth,--the most important in the whole sisterhood
of States,--which had been so long silent in the Senate,
WISHED TO BE HEARD, and that, therefore, I seconded the
nomination of Mr. Conkling. Immediately the whole
house rose to this sentiment again and again, with even
greater evidence of approval than before; the voting began
and Mr. Conkling was finally nominated, if my memory
is correct, by a majority of three.

The moment the vote was declared the whole assembly
broke loose; the pressure being removed, there came a
general effervescence of good feeling, and I suddenly
found myself raised on the shoulders of stalwart men who
stood near, and rapidly carried over the heads of the
crowd, through many passages and corridors, my main
anxiety being to protect my head so that my brains might
not be knocked out against stairways and doorways;
but presently, when fairly dazed and bewildered, I was
borne into a room in the old Congress Hall Hotel, and
deposited safely in the presence of a gentleman standing
with his back to the fire, who at once extended his hand
to me most cordially, and to whom I said, ``God bless
you, Senator Conkling. ``A most hearty response
followed, and so began my closer acquaintance with the
new senator.

Mr. Conkling's election followed as a thing of course,
and throughout the State there was general approval.

During this session of 1867 I found myself involved in
two rather curious struggles, and with no less a personage
than my colleague, Judge Folger.

As to the first of these I had long felt, and still feel, that
of all the weaknesses in our institutions, one of the most
serious is our laxity in the administration of the criminal
law. No other civilized country, save possibly the lower
parts of Italy and Sicily, shows anything to approach the
number of unpunished homicides, in proportion to the
population, which are committed in sundry parts of our
own country, and indeed in our country taken as a whole.
In no country is the deterrent effect of punishment so
vitiated by delay; in no country is so much facility given
to chicanery, to futile appeals, and to every possible means
of clearing men from the due penalty of high crime, and
especially the crime of murder.

It was in view of this fact that, acting on the advice of an
old and able judge whose experience in criminal practice
had been very large, I introduced into the Senate a
bill to improve the procedure in criminal cases. The
judge just referred to had shown me the absurdities
arising from the fact that testimony in regard to character,
even in the case of professional criminals, was not
allowed save in rebuttal. It was notorious that professional
criminals charged with high crimes, especially in
our large cities, frequently went free because, while the
testimony to the particular crime was not absolutely
overwhelming, testimony to their character as professional
criminals, which, in connection with the facts established,
would have been absolutely conclusive, could not be admitted.
I therefore proposed that testimony as to character
in any criminal case might be introduced by the
prosecution if, after having been privately submitted to
the judge, he should decide that the ends of justice would
be furthered thereby.

The bill was referred to the Senate judiciary committee,
of which Judge Folger was chairman. After it had lain
there some weeks and the judge had rather curtly answered
my questions as to when it would be reported, it
became clear to me that the committee had no intention of
reporting it at all, whereupon I introduced a resolution
requesting them to report it, at the earliest day possible,
for the consideration of the Senate, and this was passed
in spite of the opposition of the committee. Many days
then passed; no report was made, and I therefore introduced
a resolution taking the bill out of the hands of the
committee and bringing it directly before the committee
of the whole. This was most earnestly resisted by Judge
Folger and by his main associate on the committee, Henry
Murphy of Brooklyn. On the other hand I had, to aid me,
Judge Lowe, also a lawyer of high standing, and indeed
all the lawyers in the body who were not upon the judiciary
committee. The result was that my motion was
successful; the bill was taken from the committee and
immediately brought under discussion.

In reply to the adverse arguments of Judge Folger and
Mr. Murphy, which were to the effect that my bill was an
innovation upon the criminal law of the State, I pointed
out the fact that evidence as to the character of the person
charged with crime is often all-important; that in our
daily life we act upon that fact as the simplest dictate of
common sense; that if any senator present had his watch
stolen from his room he would be very slow to charge the
crime against the servant who was last seen in the room,
even under very suspicious circumstances; but if he found
that the servant had been discharged for theft from various
places previously, this would be more important than
any other circumstance. I showed how safeguards which
had been devised in the middle ages to protect citizens
from the feudal lord were now used to aid criminals in
evading the law, and I ended by rather unjustly compar-
ing Judge Folger to the great Lord Chancellor Eldon, of
whom it was said that, despite his profound knowledge
of the law, ``no man ever did so much good as he
prevented.'' The result was that the bill was passed by the
Senate in spite of the judiciary committee.

During the continuance of the discussion Judge Folger
had remained in his usual seat, but immediately after the
passage of the bill he resumed his place as president of the
Senate. He was evidently vexed, and in declaring the
Senate adjourned he brought the gavel down with a sort
of fling which caused it to fly out of his hand and fall in
front of his desk on the floor. Fortunately it was after
midnight and few saw it; but there was a general feeling
of regret among us all that a man so highly respected
should have so lost his temper. By common consent the
whole matter was hushed; no mention of it, so far as I
could learn, was made in the public press, and soon all
seemed forgotten.

Unfortunately it was remembered, and in a quarter
which brought upon Judge Folger one of the worst
disappointments of his life.

For, in the course of the following summer, the Constitutional
Convention of the State was to hold its session and
its presidency was justly considered a great honor. Two
candidates were named, one being Judge Folger and the
other Mr. William A. Wheeler, then a member of Congress
and afterward Vice-President of the United States. The
result of the canvas by the friends of both these gentlemen
seemed doubtful, when one morning there appeared in the
``New York Tribune,'' the most powerful organ of the
Republican party, one of Horace Greeley's most trenchant
articles. It dwelt on the importance of the convention
in the history of the State, on the responsibility of its
members, on the characteristics which should mark its
presiding officer, and, as to this latter point, wound up
pungently by saying that it would be best to have a president
who, when he disagreed with members, did not throw
his gavel at them. This shot took effect; it ran through
the State; people asked the meaning of it; various exaggerated
legends became current, one of them being that he
had thrown the gavel at me personally;--and Mr. Wheeler
became president of the convention.

But before the close of the session another matter had
come up which cooled still more the relations between
Judge Folger and myself. For many sessions, year after
year, there had been before the legislature a bill for
establishing a canal connecting the interior lake system of the
State with Lake Ontario. This was known as the Sodus
Canal Bill, and its main champion was a public-spirited
man from Judge Folger's own district. In favor of the
canal various arguments were urged, one of them being
that it would enable the United States, while keeping
within its treaty obligations with Great Britain, to build
ships on these smaller lakes, which, in case of need, could
be passed through the canal into the great chain of lakes
extending from Lake Ontario to Lake Superior. To this
it was replied that such an evasion of the treaty was not
especially creditable to those suggesting it, and that the
main purpose of the bill really was to create a vast water
power which should enure to the benefit of sundry gentlemen
in Judge Folger's district.

Up to this time Judge Folger seemed never to care
much for the bill, and I had never made any especial effort
against it; but when, just at the close of the session,
certain constituents of mine upon the Oswego River had
shown me that there was great danger in the proposed
canal to the water supply through the counties of Onondaga
and Oswego, I opposed the measure. Thereupon
Judge Folger became more and more earnest in its favor,
and it soon became evident that all his power would be
used to pass it during the few remaining days of the
session. By his influence it was pushed rapidly through
all its earlier stages, and at last came up before the
Senate. It seemed sure to pass within ten minutes, when I
moved that the whole matter be referred to the approaching
Constitutional Convention, which was to begin its sessions
immediately after the adjournment of the legislature,
and Judge Folger having spoken against this motion, I
spoke in its favor and did what I have never done before
in my life and probably shall never do again--spoke
against time. There was no ``previous question'' in the
Senate, no limitation as to the period during which a
member could discuss any measure, and, as the youngest
member in the body, I was in the full flush of youthful
strength. I therefore announced my intention to present
some three hundred arguments in favor of referring the
whole matter to the State Constitutional Convention, those
arguments being based upon the especial fitness of its
three hundred members to decide the question, as shown
by the personal character and life history of each and
every one of them. I then went on with this series of
biographies, beginning with that of Judge Folger himself,
and paying him most heartily and cordially every
tribute possible, including some of a humorous nature.
Having given about half an hour to the judge, I then took
up sundry other members and kept on through the entire
morning. I had the floor and no one could dispossess me.
The lieutenant-governor, in the chair, General Stewart
Woodford, was perfectly just and fair, and although
Judge Folger and Mr. Murphy used all their legal acuteness
in devising some means of evading the rules, they
were in every case declared by the lieutenant-governor to
be out of order, and the floor was in every case reassigned
to me. Meantime, the whole Senate, though anxious to
adjourn, entered into the spirit of the matter, various
members passing me up biographical notes on the members
of the convention, some of them very comical, and
presently the hall was crowded with members of the
assembly as well as senators, all cheering me on. The
reason for this was very simple. There had come to be
a general understanding of the case, namely, that Judge
Folger, by virtue of his great power and influence, was
trying in the last hours of the session to force through a
bill for the benefit of his district, and that I was simply
doing my best to prevent an injustice. The result was
that I went on hour after hour with my series of biographies,
until at last Judge Folger himself sent me word
that if I would desist and allow the legislature to adjourn
he would make no further effort to carry the bill at that
session. To this I instantly agreed; the bill was dropped
for that session and for all sessions: so far as I can learn
it has never reappeared.

Shortly after our final adjournment the Constitutional
Convention came together. It was one of the best bodies
of the kind ever assembled in any State, as a list of its
members abundantly shows. There was much work for
it, and most important of all was the reorganization of
the highest judicial body in the State--the Court of
Appeals--which had become hopelessly inadequate.

The two principal members of the convention from the
city of New York were Horace Greeley, editor of the
``Tribune,'' and William M. Evarts, afterward Attorney-
General, United States senator, and Secretary of State of
the United States. Mr. Greeley was at first all-powerful.
As has already been seen, he had been able to prevent
Judge Folger taking the presidency of the convention,
and for a few days he had everything his own way. But
he soon proved so erratic a leader that his influence was
completely lost, and after a few sessions there was hardly
any member with less real power to influence the judgments
of his colleagues.

This was not for want of real ability in his speeches,
for at various times I heard him make, for and against
measures, arguments admirably pungent, forcible, and
far-reaching, but there seemed to be a universal feeling
that he was an unsafe guide.

Soon came a feature in his course which made matters
worse. The members of the convention, many of them,
were men in large business and very anxious to have a
day or two each week for their own affairs. Moreover,
during the first weeks of the session, while the main
matters coming before the convention were still in the hands
of committees, there was really not enough business ready
for the convention to occupy it through all the days of the
week, and consequently it adopted the plan, for the first
weeks at least, of adjourning from Friday night till Tuesday
morning. This vexed Mr. Greeley sorely. He insisted
that the convention ought to keep at its business
and finish it without any such weekly adjournments, and,
as his arguments to this effect did not prevail in the
convention, he began making them through the ``Tribune''
before the people of the State. Soon his arguments
became acrid, and began undermining the convention at
every point.

As to Mr. Greeley's feeling regarding the weekly
adjournment, one curious thing was reported: There was
a member from New York of a literary turn for whom the
great editor had done much in bringing his verses and
other productions before the public--a certain Mr. Duganne;
but it happened that, on one of the weekly motions
to adjourn, Mr. Duganne had voted in the affirmative, and,
as a result, Mr. Greeley, meeting him just afterward,
upbraided him in a manner which filled the rural bystanders
with consternation. It was well known to those best
acquainted with the editor of the ``Tribune'' that, when
excited, he at times indulged in the most ingenious and
picturesque expletives, and some of Mr. Chauncey Depew's
best stories of that period pointed to this fact. On this
occasion Mr. Greeley really outdid himself, and the
result was that the country members, who up to that
time had regarded him with awe as the representative of
the highest possible morality in public and private life,
were greatly dismayed, and in various parts of the room
they were heard expressing their amazement, and saying
to each other in awe-stricken tones: ``Why! Greeley

Ere long Mr. Greeley was taking, almost daily in the
``Tribune,'' steady ground against the doings of his
colleagues. Lesser newspapers followed with no end of
cheap and easy denunciation, and the result was that the
convention became thoroughly, though unjustly, discredited
throughout the State, and indeed throughout the
country. A curious proof of this met me. Being at
Cambridge, Massachusetts, I passed an evening with Governor
Washburn, one of the most thoughtful and valuable
public men of that period. In the course of our conversation
he said: ``Mr. White, it is really sad to hear of the
doings at your Albany convention. I can remember your
constitutional convention of 1846, and when I compare
this convention with that, it grieves me.'' My answer
was: ``Governor Washburn, you are utterly mistaken:
there has never been a constitutional convention in the
State of New York, not even that you name, which has
contained so many men of the highest ability and character
as the one now in session, and none which has really
done better work. I am not a member of the body and
can say this in its behalf.'' At this he expressed his
amazement, and pointed to the ``Tribune'' in confirmation
of his own position. I then stated the case to him, and, I
think, alleviated his distress.

But as the sessions of the convention drew to a close and
the value of its work began to be clearly understood,
Greeley's nobler qualities, his real truthfulness and public
spirit began to assert themselves, and more than once he
showed practical shrewdness and insight. Going into
convention one morning, I found the question under
discussion to be the election of the secretary of state,
attorney-general, and others of the governor's cabinet, whose
appointment under the older constitutions was wisely
left to the governor, but who, for twenty years, had
been elected by the people. There was a wide-spread feeling
that the old system was wiser, and that the new had
by no means justified itself; in fact, that by fastening on
the governor the responsibility for his cabinet, the State
is likely to secure better men than when their choice is
left to the hurly-burly of intrigue and prejudice in a
nominating convention.

The main argument made by those who opposed such a
return to the old, better order of things was that the
people would not like it and would be inclined to vote
down the new constitution on account of it.

In reply to this, Mr. Greeley arose and made a most
admirable short speech ending with these words, given in
his rapid falsetto, with a sort of snap that made the whole
seem like one word: ``When-the-people-take-up-their-
ballots-they-want-to-see-who-is-to-be-governor: that's-all-
they-care-about: they-don't-want-to-read-a-whole-chapter-

Unfortunately, the majority dared not risk the popular
ratification of the new constitution, and so this amendment
was lost.

No doubt Mr. Greeley was mainly responsible for this
condition of things; his impatience with the convention, as
shown by his articles in the ``Tribune,'' had been caught
by the people of the State.

The long discussions were very irksome to him, and one
day I mildly expostulated with him on account of some
of his utterances against the much speaking of his colleagues,
and said: ``After all, Mr. Greeley, is n't it a pretty
good thing to have a lot of the best men in the State come
together every twenty years and thoroughly discuss the
whole constitution, to see what improvements can be
made; and is not the familiarity with the constitution and
interest in it thus aroused among the people at large worth
all the fatigue arising from long speeches?'' ``Well,
perhaps so,'' he said, but he immediately began to grumble
and finally to storm in a comical way against some of his
colleagues who, it must be confessed, were tiresome. Still
he became interested more and more in the work, and as
the new constitution emerged from the committees and
public debates, he evidently saw that it was a great gain
to the State, and now did his best through the ``Tribune''
to undo what he had been doing. He wrote editorials
praising the work of the convention and urging that it be
adopted. But all in vain: the unfavorable impression had
been too widely and deeply made, and the result was that
the new constitution, when submitted to the people, was
ignominiously voted down, and the whole summer's work
of the convention went for nothing. Later, however, a
portion of it was rescued and put into force through the
agency of a ``Constitutional Commission,'' a small body
of first-rate men who sat at Albany, and whose main
conclusions were finally adopted in the shape of amendments
to the old constitution. There was, none the less, a
wretched loss to the State.

During the summer of 1867 I was completely immersed
in the duties of my new position at Cornell University;
going through various institutions in New England and
the Western States to note the workings of their technical
departments; visiting Ithaca to consult with Mr. Cornell
and to look over plans for buildings, and credentials for
professorships, or, shut up in my own study at Syracuse,
or in the cabins of Cayuga Lake steamers, drawing up
schemes of university organization, so that my political
life soon seemed ages behind me.

While on a visit to Harvard, I was invited by Agassiz
to pass a day with him at Nahant in order to discuss
methods and men. He entered into the matter very
earnestly, agreed to give us an extended course of
lectures, which he afterward did, and aided us in many
ways. One remark of his surprised me. I had asked him
to name men, and he had taken much pains to do so, when
suddenly he turned to me abruptly and said: ``Who is to
be your professor of moral philosophy? That is by far
the most important matter in your whole organization.''
It seemed strange that one who had been honored by the
whole world as probably the foremost man in natural
science then living, and who had been denounced by many
exceedingly orthodox people as an enemy of religion,
should take this view of the new faculty, but it showed
how deeply and sincerely religious he was. I soon
reassured him on the point he had raised, and then went on
with the discussion of scientific men, methods, and equipments.

I was also asked by the poet Longfellow to pass a day
with him at his beautiful Nahant cottage in order to discuss
certain candidates and methods in literature. Nothing
could be more delightful than his talk as we sat
together on the veranda looking out over the sea, with the
gilded dome of the State House, which he pointed out to
me as ``The Hub,'' in the dim distance. One question of
his amused me much. We were discussing certain recent
events in which Mr. Horace Greeley had played an
important part, and after alluding to Mr. Greeley's course
during the War, he turned his eyes fully but mildly
upon me and said slowly and solemnly: ``Mr. White, don't
you think Mr. Greeley a very useless sort of man?'' The
question struck me at first as exceedingly comical; for, I
thought, ``Imagine Mr. Greeley, who thinks himself, and
with reason, a useful man if there ever was one, and whose
whole life has been devoted to what he has thought of the
highest and most direct use to his fellow-men, hearing this
question put in a dreamy way by a poet,--a writer of
verse,--probably the last man in America whom Mr.
Greeley would consider `useful.' '' But my old admiration
for the great editor came back in a strong tide, and if I
was ever eloquent it was in showing Mr. Longfellow how
great, how real, how sincere, and in the highest degree
how useful Mr. Greeley had been.

Another man of note whom I met in those days was
Judge Rockwood Hoar, afterward named by General
Grant Attorney-General of the United States, noted as a
profound lawyer of pungent wit and charming humor, the
delight of his friends and the terror of his enemies. I
saw him first at Harvard during a competition for the
Boylston prize at which we were fellow-judges. All the
speaking was good, some of it admirable; but the especially
remarkable pieces were two. First of these was a
recital of Washington Irving's ``Broken Heart,'' by an
undergraduate from the British provinces, Robert Alder
McLeod. Nothing could be more simple and perfect in its
way; nothing more free from any effort at orating; all
was in the most quiet and natural manner possible. The
second piece was a rendering of Poe's ``Bells,'' and was
a most amazing declamation, the different sorts of bells
being indicated by changes of voice ranging from basso
profondo to the highest falsetto, and the feelings aroused
in the orator being indicated by modulations which must
have cost him months of practice.

The contest being ended, and the committee having
retired to make their award, various members expressed an
opinion in favor of Mr. McLeod's quiet recital, when
Judge Hoar, who had seemed up to that moment immersed
in thought, seemed suddenly to awake, and said: ``If I
had a son who spoke that bell piece in that style I believe
I'd choke him.'' The vote was unanimously in favor of
Mr. McLeod, and then came out a curious fact. Having
noticed that he bore an empty sleeve, I learned from
Professor Peabody that he had lost his arm while fighting on
the Confederate side in our Civil War, and that he was a
man of remarkably fine scholarship and noble character.
He afterward became an instructor at Harvard, but died

During the following autumn, in spite of my absorption
in university interests, I was elected a delegate to the State
Convention, and in October made a few political speeches,
the most important being at Clinton, the site of Hamilton
College. This was done at the special request of Senator
Conkling, and on my way I passed a day with him at
Utica, taking a long drive through the adjacent country.
Never was he more charming. The bitter and sarcastic
mood seemed to have dropped off him; the overbearing
manner had left no traces; he was full of delightful
reminiscences and it was a day to be remembered.

I also spoke at various other places and, last of all, at
Clifton Springs, but received there a rebuff which was not
without its uses.

I had thought my speeches successful; but at the latter
place, taking the cars next morning, I heard a dialogue
between two railway employees, as follows:

``Bill, did you go to the meetin' last night?'' ``Yes.''
``How was it?'' ``It wa'n't no meetin', leastwise no P'LITICAL
meetin'; there wa'n't nothin' in it fur the boys; it was
only one of them scientific college purfessors lecturin'.''
And so I sped homeward, pondering on many things, but
strengthened, by this homely criticism, in my determination
to give my efforts henceforth to the new university.



During the two or three years following my senatorial
term, work in the founding and building of Cornell
University was so engrossing that there was little
time for any effort which could be called political. In
the early spring of 1868 I went to Europe to examine
institutions for scientific and technological instruction,
and to secure professors and equipment, and during about
six months I visited a great number of such schools,
especially those in agriculture, mechanical, civil, and mining
engineering and the like in England, France, Germany,
and Italy; bought largely of books and apparatus,
discussed the problems at issue with Europeans who seemed
likely to know most about them, secured sundry professors,
and returned in September just in time to take
part in the opening of Cornell University and be inaugurated
as its first president. Of all this I shall speak more
in detail hereafter.

There was no especial temptation to activity in the
political campaign of that year; for the election of General
Grant was sure, and my main memory of the period is a
visit to Auburn to hear Mr. Seward.

It had been his wont for many years, when he came
home to cast his vote, to meet his neighbors on the eve of
the election and give his views of the situation and of its
resultant duties. These occasions had come to be anticipated
with the deepest interest by the whole region round
about, and what had begun as a little gathering of neighors
had now become such an assembly that the largest
hall in the place was crowded with voters of all parties.

But this year came a disappointment. Although the
contest was between General Grant,--who on various decisive
battle-fields had done everything to save the administration
of which Mr. Seward had been a leading member,
--and on the other side, Governor Horatio Seymour, who
had done all in his power to wreck it, Mr. Seward devoted
his speech to optimistic generalities, hardly alluding to
the candidates, and leaving the general impression that
one side was just as worthy of support as the other.

The speech was an unfortunate ending of Mr. Seward's
career. It was not surprising that some of his old
admirers bitterly resented it, and a remark by Mr. Cornell
some time afterward indicated much. We were arranging
together a program for the approaching annual
commencement when I suggested for the main address Mr.
Seward. Mr. Cornell had been one of Mr. Seward's
lifelong supporters, but he received this proposal coldly,
pondered it for a few moments silently, and then said
dryly, ``Perhaps you are right, but if you call him you
will show to our students the deadest man that ain't buried
in the State of New York.'' So, to my regret, was lost the
last chance to bring the old statesman to Cornell. I have
always regretted this loss; his presence would have given
a true consecration to the new institution. A career like
his should not be judged by its little defects and lapses,
and this I felt even more deeply on receiving, some time
after his death, the fifth volume of his published works,
which was largely made up of his despatches and other
papers written during the war. When they were first
published in the newspapers, I often thought them long
and was impatient at their optimism, but now, when I read
them all together, saw in them the efforts made by the
heroic old man to keep the hands of European powers
off us while we were restoring the Union, and noted the
desperation with which he fought, the encouragement
which he infused into our diplomatic representatives
abroad, and his struggle, almost against fate, in the time
of our reverses, I was fascinated. The book had arrived
early in the evening, and next morning found me still
seated in my library chair completely absorbed in it.

In the spring of the year 1870, while as usual in the
thick of university work, I was again drawn for a moment
into the current of New York politics. The long wished
for amendment of the State constitution, putting our highest
tribunal, the Court of Appeals, on a better footing
than it had ever been before, making it more adequate, the
term longer, and the salaries higher, had been passed, and
judges were to be chosen at the next election. Each of the
two great parties was entitled to an equal number of
judges, and I was requested to go to the approaching
nominating convention at Rochester in order to present
the name of my old friend and neighbor, Charles Andrews.

It was a most honorable duty, no man could have
desired a better candidate, and I gladly accepted the
mandate. Although it was one of the most staid and dignified
bodies of the sort which has ever met in the State, it had
as a preface a pleasant farce.

As usual, the seething cauldron of New York City politics
had thrown to the surface some troublesome delegates,
and among them was one long famed as a ``Tammany Republican.''

Our first business was the choice of a president for the
convention, and, as it had been decided by the State committee
to present for that office the name of one of the most
respected judges in the State, the Honorable Platt Potter,
of Schenectady, it was naturally expected that some member
of the regular organization would present his name
in a dignified speech. But hardly had the chairman of
the State committee called the convention to order when
the aforesaid Tammany Republican, having heard that
Judge Potter was to be elected, thought evidently that
he could gain recognition and applause by being the
first to present his name. He therefore rushed for-
ward, and almost before the chairman had declared the
convention opened, cried out: ``Mr. Chairman, I move
you, sir, that the Honorable `Pot Platter' be made
president of this convention.'' A scream of laughter went
up from all parts of the house, and in an instant a gentleman
rose and moved to amend by making the name ``Platt
Potter.'' This was carried, and the proposer of the
original motion retired crestfallen to his seat.

I had the honor of presenting Mr. Andrews's name.
He was nominated and elected triumphantly, and so began
the career of one of the best judges that New York
has ever had on its highest court, who has also for many
years occupied, with the respect and esteem of the State,
the position of chief justice.

The convention then went on to nominate other judges,
--nomination being equivalent to election,--but when the
last name was reached there came a close contest. An old
friend informed me that Judge Folger, my former colleague
in the Senate and since that assistant treasurer of
the United States in the city of New York, was exceedingly
anxious to escape from this latter position, and
desired greatly the nomination to a judgeship on the Court
of Appeals.

I decided at once to do what was possible to secure
Judge Folger's nomination, though our personal relations
were very unsatisfactory. Owing to our two conflicts at
the close of our senatorial term above referred to, and
to another case where I thought he had treated me
unjustly, we had never exchanged a word since I had left
the State Senate; and though we met each other from
time to time on the board of Cornell University trustees,
we passed each other in silence. Our old friendship, which
had been very dear to me, seemed forever broken, but I
felt deeply that the fault was not mine. At the same time
I recognized the fact that Judge Folger was not especially
adapted to the position of assistant treasurer of the United
States, and was admirably fitted for the position of judge
in the Court of Appeals. I therefore did everything possible
to induce one or two of the delegations with which I
had some influence to vote for him, dwelling especially
upon his former judgeship, his long acquaintance with the
legislation of the State, and his high character, and at last
he was elected by a slight majority.

The convention having adjourned, I was on my way to
the train when I was met by Judge Folger, who had just
arrived. He put out his hand and greeted me most heartily,
showing very deep feeling as he expressed his regret
over our estrangement. Of course I was glad that bygones
were to be bygones, and that our old relations were
restored. He became a most excellent judge, and finally
chief justice of the State, which position he left to become
Secretary of the Treasury.

To the political cataclysm which ended his public activity
and doubtless hastened his death, I refer elsewhere.
As long as he lived our friendly relations continued, and
this has been to me ever since a great satisfaction.

In this same year, 1870, occurred my first extended
conversation with General Grant. At my earlier meeting with
him when he was with President Johnson in Albany, I had
merely been stiffly presented to him, and we had exchanged
a few commonplaces; but I was now invited to his
cottage at Long Branch and enjoyed a long and pleasant
talk with him. Its main subject was the Franco-German
War then going on, and his sympathies were evidently
with Germany. His comments on the war were prophetic.
There was nothing dogmatic in them; nothing could be
more simple and modest than his manner and utterance,
but there was a clearness and quiet force in them which
impressed me greatly. He was the first great general I
had ever seen, and I was strongly reminded of his mingled
diffidence and mastery when, some years afterward, I
talked with Moltke in Berlin.

Another experience of that summer dwells in my memory.
I was staying, during the first week of September,
with my dear old friend, Dr. Henry M. Field, at Stockbridge,
in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts, and
had the good fortune, at the house of his brother, the
eminent jurist, David Dudley Field, to pass a rainy evening
in company with Mr. Burton Harrison, who, after a
distinguished career at Yale, had been the private secretary
of Jefferson Davis, president of the Southern Confederacy.
On that evening a storm had kept away all but a
few of us, and Mr. Harrison yielded to our entreaties to
give us an account of Mr. Davis's flight at the surrender of
Richmond, from the time when he quietly left his pew in
St. Paul's Church to that of his arrest by United States
soldiers. The story was most vivid, and Mr. Harrison, as
an eye witness, told it simply and admirably. There had
already grown out of this flight of Mr. Davis a most
luxuriant tangle of myth and legend, and it had come to
be generally believed that the Confederate president had
at last endeavored to shield himself behind the women of
his household; that when arrested he was trying to escape
in the attire of his wife, including a hooped skirt and a
bonnet, and that he was betrayed by an incautious display
of his military boots beneath his wife's flounces. The
simple fact was that, having separated from his family
party, and seeking escape to the coast or mountains, he
was again and again led by his affection for his family to
return to them, his fears for them overcoming all care
for himself; and that, as he was suffering from neuralgia,
he wore over his clothing, to guard him from the incessant
rain, Mrs. Davis' waterproof cloak. Out of this grew the
legend which found expression in jubilant newspaper
articles, songs, and caricatures.

This reminds me that some years later, my old college
friend, Colonel William Preston Johnston, president of
Tulane University, told me a story which throws light
upon that collapse of the Confederacy. Colonel Johnston
was at that period the military secretary of President
Davis, and, as the catastrophe approached, was much
vexed at the interminable debates in the Confederate
Congress. Among the subjects of these discussions was the
great seal of the Confederacy. It had been decided to
adopt for this purpose a relief representing Crawford's
statue of Washington at Richmond, with the Southern
statesmen and soldiers surrounding it; but though all
agreed that Washington, in his Continental costume, and
holding in his hand his cocked hat, should retain the
central position, there were many differences of opinion as
to the surrounding portraits, the result being that motions
were made to strike out this or that revolutionary hero
from one State and to replace him by another from another
State, thus giving rise to lengthy eulogies of these
various personages, so that the whole thing resembled the
discussions in metaphysical theology by the Byzantines
at the time when the Turks were forcing their way
through the walls of Constantinople. One day, just
before the final catastrophe, Mr. Judah Benjamin, formerly
United States senator, but at that time the Confederate
secretary of state, passed through Colonel Johnston's
office, and the following dialogue took place.

Colonel Johnston: ``What are they doing in the Senate
and House, Mr. Secretary?''

Mr. Benjamin: ``Oh, simply debating the Confederate
seal, moving to strike out this man and to insert that.''

Colonel Johnston: ``Do you know what motion I would
make if I were a member?''

Mr. Benjamin: ``No, what would you move?''

Colonel Johnston: ``I would move to strike out from
the seal everything except the cocked hat.''

Colonel Johnston was right; the Confederacy was
``knocked into a cocked hat'' a few days afterward.

In the autumn of that year, September, 1870, I was sent
as a delegate to the State Republican Convention, and
presented as a candidate for the lieutenant-governorship a
man who had served the State admirably in the National
Congress and in the State legislature as well as in great
business operations, Mr. DeWitt Littlejohn of Oswego. I
did this on the part of sundry gentlemen who were anxious
to save the Republican ticket, which had at its head my
old friend General Woodford, but though I was successful
in securing Mr. Littlejohn's nomination, he soon
afterward declined, and defeat followed in November.

The only part which I continued to take in State politics
was in writing letters and in speaking, on sundry social
occasions of a political character, in behalf of harmony
between the two factions which were now becoming more
and more bitter. At first I seemed to have some success,
but before long it became clear that the current was too
strong and that the bitterness of faction was to prevail. I
am so constituted that factious thought and effort
dishearten and disgust me. At many periods of my life
I have acted as a ``buffer'' between conflicting cliques
and factions, generally to some purpose; now it was
otherwise. But, as Kipling says, ``that is another story.''

The hard work and serious responsibilities brought
upon me by the new university had greatly increased.
They had worn deeply upon me when, in the winter of
1870-71, came an event which drew me out of my university
life for a time and gave me a much needed change:
--I was sent by the President as one of the three
commissioners to Santo Domingo to study questions relating
to the annexation of the Spanish part of that island which
was then proposed, and to report thereupon to Congress.

While in Washington at this time I saw much of President
Grant, Mr. Sumner, and various other men who were
then leading in public affairs, but some account of them
will be given in my reminiscences of the Santo Domingo

I trust that it may be allowed me here to recall an
incident which ought to have been given in a preceding
chapter. During one of my earlier visits to the National
Capital, I made the acquaintance of Senator McDougal.
His distorted genius had evidently so dazzled his fellow-
citizens of California that, in spite of his defects, they had
sent him to the highest council of the Nation. He was a
martyr to conviviality, and when more or less under
the sway of it, had strange ideas and quaint ways of
expressing them. His talk recalled to me a time in my child-
hood when, having found a knob of glass, twisted, striated
with different colors, and filled with air bubbles, I enjoyed
looking at the landscape through it. Everything became
grotesquely transfigured. A cabbage in the foreground
became opalescent, and an ear of corn a mass of jewels,
but the whole atmosphere above and beyond was lurid, and
the chimneys and church spires were topsy-turvy.

The only other person whose talk ever produced an
impression of this sort on me was Tolstoy, and he will be
discussed in another chapter.

McDougal's peculiarity made him at last unbearable;
so much so that the Senate was obliged to take measures
against him. His speech in his own defense showed the
working of his mind, and one passage most of all. It
remains probably the best defense of drunkenness ever
made, and it ran as follows:

``Mr. President,--I pity the man who has never viewed
the affairs of this world, save from the poor, low, miserable
plane of ordinary sobriety.''

My absence in the West Indies covered the first three
months of the year 1871, and then the commission returned
to Washington and made its report; but regarding
this I shall speak at length in the chapter of my diplomatic
experiences, devoted to the Santo Domingo question.



Having finished my duties on the Santo Domingo
Commission, I returned to the University in May
of 1871, devoted myself again to my duties as president
and professor, and, in the mass of arrears which had
accumulated, found ample occupation. I also delivered
various addresses at universities, colleges, and elsewhere,
keeping as remote from politics as possible.

In June, visiting New York in order to take part in a
dinner given by various journalists and others to my
classmate and old friend, George Washburne Smalley, at
that time the London correspondent of the ``New York
Tribune,'' I met, for the first time, Colonel John Hay,
who was in the full tide of his brilliant literary career and
who is, as I write this, Secretary of State of the United
States. His clear, thoughtful talk strongly impressed me,
but the most curious circumstance connected with the affair
was that several of us on the way to Delmonico's
stopped for a time to observe the public reception given to
Mr. Horace Greeley on his return from a tour through the
Southern States. Mr. Greeley, undoubtedly from the
purest personal and patriotic motives, had, with other
men of high standing, including Gerrit Smith, attached
his name to the bail bond of Jefferson Davis, which
released the ex-president of the Confederacy from prison,
and, in fact, freed him entirely from anything like
punishment for treason. I have always admired Mr. Greeley's
honesty and courage in doing this. Doubtless, too, an
equally patriotic and honest desire to aid in bringing
North and South together after the war led him to take
an extensive tour through sundry Southern States. He
had just returned from this tour and this reception was
given him in consequence.

It had already been noised abroad that there was a
movement on foot to make him a candidate for the Presidency,
and many who knew the characteristics of the man,
even those who, like myself, had been greatly influenced
by him and regarded him as by far the foremost editorial
writer that our country had ever produced, looked upon
this idea with incredulity. For of all patriotic men in
the entire country who had touched public affairs Horace
Greeley seemed the most eminently unfit for executive
duties. He was notoriously, in business matters, the
easy prey of many who happened to get access to him;--
the ``long-haired men and short-haired women'' of the
country seemed at times to have him entirely under their
sway; his hard-earned money, greatly needed by himself
and his family, was lavished upon ne'er-do-weels and cast
into all sorts of impracticable schemes. He made loans
to the discarded son of the richest man whom the United
States had at that time produced, and in every way
showed himself an utterly incompetent judge of men. It
was a curious fact that lofty as were his purposes, and
noble as were his main characteristics, the best men of
the State--men like Seward, Weed, Judge Folger, Senator
Andrews, General Leavenworth, Elbridge Spaulding, and
other really thoughtful, solid, substantial advisers of
the Republican party--were disliked by him, and yet no
other reason could be assigned than this:--that while they
all admired him as a writer, they could not be induced to
pretend that they considered him fit for high executive
office, either in the State or Nation. On the other hand,
so far as politics were concerned, his affections seemed to
be lavished on politicians who flattered and coddled him.
Of this the rise of Governor Fenton was a striking
example. Doubtless there were exceptions to this rule, but
it was the rule nevertheless. This was clearly and indeed
comically shown at the reception given him in Union
Square on the evening referred to. Mr. Greeley appeared
at a front window of a house on the Broadway side and
came out upon a temporary platform. His appearance
is deeply stamped upon my memory. He was in a rather
slouchy evening dress, his white hair thrown back off his
splendid forehead, and his broad, smooth, kindly features
as serene as the face of a big, well-washed baby.

There was in his appearance something at the same time
nave and impressive, and the simplicity of it was
increased by a bouquet, huge and gorgeous, which some
admirer had attached to his coat, and which forced upon
the mind of a reflective observer the idea of a victim
adorned for sacrifice.

He gave scant attention to his audience in the way of
ceremonial greeting, and plunged at once into his subject;
--beginning in a high, piping, falsetto voice which, for a
few moments, was almost painful. But the value of his
matter soon overcame the defects of his manner; the
speech was in his best vein; it struck me as the best, on the
whole, I had ever heard him make, and that is saying
much. Holding in his hands a little package of
cards on which notes were jotted down, he occasionally
cast his eyes upon them, but he evidently trusted to the
inspiration of the hour for his phrasing, and his trust was
not misplaced. I never heard a more simple, strong,
lucid use of the English language than was his on that
occasion. The speech was a very noble plea for the restoration
of good feeling between North and South, with an
effort to show that the distrust felt by the South toward
the North was natural. In the course of it he said in

``Fellow Citizens: The people of the South have much
reason to distrust us. We have sent among them during
the war and since the war, to govern them, to hold office
among them, and to eat out their substance, a number of
worthless adventurers whom they call ``carpet-baggers.''
These emissaries of ours pretend to be patriotic and pious;
they pull long faces and say `Let us pray'; but they spell
it p-r-E-y. The people of the South hate them, and they
ought to hate them.''

At this we in the audience looked at each other in
amazement; for, standing close beside Mr. Greeley, at
that very moment, most obsequiously, was perhaps the
worst ``carpet-bagger'' ever sent into the South; a man
who had literally been sloughed off by both parties;--
who, having been become an unbearable nuisance in New
York politics, had been ``unloaded'' by Mr. Lincoln, in an
ill-inspired moment, upon the hapless South, and who was
now trying to find new pasture.

But this was not the most comical thing; for Mr.
Greeley in substance continued as follows:

``Fellow Citizens: You know how it is yourselves.
There are men who go to your own State Capitol, nominally
as legislators or advisers, but really to plunder and
steal. These men in the Northern States correspond to the
`carpet-baggers' in the Southern States, and you hate
them and you ought to hate them.'' Thus speaking, Mr.
Greeley poured out the vials of his wrath against all this
class of people; blissfully unconscious of the fact that on
the other side of him stood the most notorious and corrupt
lobbyist who had been known in Albany for years;--
a man who had been chased out of that city by the sheriff
for attempted bribery, had been obliged to remain for a
considerable time in hiding to avoid criminal charges of
exerting corrupt influence on legislation, and whom both
political parties naturally disowned. Comical as all this
was, it was pathetic to see a man like Greeley in such a
cave of Adullam.

During this summer of 1871 occurred the death of
one of my dearest friends, a man who had exercised a
most happy influence over my opinions and who had
contributed much to the progress of anti-slavery ideas in
New England and New York. This was the Rev.
Samuel Joseph May, pastor of the Unitarian Church in
Syracuse, a friend and associate of Emerson, Garrison,
Phillips, Gerrit Smith, and one of the noblest, truest, and
most beautiful characters I have ever known.

Having seen the end of slavery, and being about eighty
years of age, he felt deeply that his work was done, and
thenceforward declared that he was happy in the idea
that his life on this planet was soon to end. I have never
seen, save in the case of the Hicksite Quaker at Ann
Arbor, referred to elsewhere, such a living faith in the
reality of another world. Again and again Mr. May said
to me in the most cheerful way imaginable, ``I am as much
convinced of the existence of a future state as of these
scenes about me, and, to tell you the truth, now that my
work here is ended, I am becoming very curious to know
what the next stage of existence is like.'' On the afternoon
of the 1st of July I paid him a visit, found him much
wearied by a troublesome chronic complaint, but contented,
cheerful, peaceful as ever.

Above him as he lay in his bed was a portrait which I
had formerly seen in his parlor. Thereby hung a curious
tale. Years before, at the very beginning of Mr. May's
career, he had been a teacher in the town of Canterbury,
Connecticut, when Miss Prudence Crandall was persecuted,
arrested, and imprisoned for teaching colored children.
Mr. May had taken up her case earnestly, and, with the aid
of Mr. Lafayette Foster, afterward president of the United
States Senate, had fought it out until the enemies of Miss
Crandall were beaten. As a memorial of this activity of
his, Mr. May received this large, well painted portrait of
Miss Crandall, and it was one of his most valued possessions.

On the afternoon referred to, after talking about
various other matters most cheerfully, and after I had told
him that we could not spare him yet, that we needed him at
least ten years longer, he laughingly said, ``Can't you
compromise on one year?'' ``No,'' I said, ``nothing less
than ten years. ``Thereupon he laughed pleasantly, called
his daughter, Mrs. Wilkinson, and said, ``Remember;
when I am gone this portrait of Prudence Crandall is to
go to Andrew White for Cornell University, where my
anti-slavery books already are.'' As I left him, both of
us were in the most cheerful mood, he appearing better
than during some weeks previous. Next morning I
learned that he had died during the night. The portrait
of Miss Crandall now hangs in the Cornell University Library.

My summer was given up partly to recreation mingled
with duties of various sorts, including an address in honor
of President Woolsey at the Alumni dinner at Yale and
another at the laying of the corner stone of Syracuse

Noteworthy at this period was a dinner with Longfellow
at Cambridge, and I recall vividly his showing me
various places in the Craigie house connected with interesting
passages in the life of Washington when he occupied it.

Early in the autumn, while thus engrossed in everything
but political matters, I received a letter from my
friend Mr. A. B. Cornell, a most energetic and efficient
man in State and national politics, a devoted supporter
of General Grant and Senator Conkling, and afterward
governor of the State of New York, asking me if I would
go to the approaching State convention and accept its
presidency. I wrote him in return expressing my reluctance,
dwelling upon the duties pressing upon me in connection
with the university, and asking to be excused. In
return came a very earnest letter insisting on the
importance of the convention in keeping the Republican party
together, and in preventing its being split into factions
before the approaching presidential election. I had, on
all occasions, and especially at various social gatherings
at which political leaders were present, in New York and
elsewhere, urged the importance of throwing aside all
factious spirit and harmonizing the party in view of the
coming election, and to this Mr. Cornell referred very
earnestly. As a consequence I wrote him that if the
delegates from New York opposed to General Grant could be
admitted to the convention on equal terms with those who
favored him, and if he, Mr. Cornell, and the other managers
of the Grant wing of the party would agree that the
anti-Grant forces should receive full and fair representation
on the various committees, I would accept the presidency
of the convention in the interest of peace between
the factions, and would do my best to harmonize the differing
interests in the party, but that otherwise I would not
consent to be a member of the convention. In his answer
Mr. Cornell fully agreed to this, and I have every reason
to believe, indeed to know, that his agreement was kept.
The day of the convention having arrived (September 27,
1871), Mr. Cornell, as chairman of the Republican State
committee, called the assemblage to order, and after a
somewhat angry clash with the opponents of the administration,
nominated me to the chairmanship of the convention.

By a freak of political fortune I was separated in this
contest from my old friend Chauncey M. Depew; but
though on different sides of the question at issue, we sat
together chatting pleasantly as the vote went on, neither
of us, I think, very anxious regarding it, and when the
election was decided in my favor he was one of those who,
under instructions from the temporary chairman, very
courteously conducted me to the chair. It was an immense
assemblage, and from the first it was evident that there
were very turbulent elements in it. Hardly, indeed, had
I taken my seat, when the chief of the Syracuse police
informed me that there were gathered near the platform
a large body of Tammany roughs who had come from New
York expressly to interfere with the convention, just as
a few years before they had interfered in the same place
with the convention of their own party, seriously wounding
its regular chairman; but that I need have no alarm
at any demonstration they might make; that the police
were fully warned and able to meet the adversary.

In my opening speech I made an earnest plea for peace
among the various factions of the party, and especially
between those who favored and those who opposed the
administration; this plea was received with kindness, and
shortly afterward came the appointment of committees.
Of course, like every other president of such a body, I
had to rely on the standing State committee. Hardly one
man in a thousand coming to the presidency of a State
convention knows enough of the individual leaders of politics
in all the various localities to distinguish between their
shades of opinion. It was certainly impossible for me to
know all those who, in the various counties of the State,
favored General Grant and those who disliked him. Like
every other president of a convention, probably without
an exception, from the beginning to the present hour, I
received the list of the convention committees from the
State committee which represented the party, and I received
this list, not only with implied, but express assurances
that the agreement under which I had taken the
chairmanship had been complied with;--namely, that the
list represented fairly the two wings of the party in
convention, and that both the Grant and the anti-Grant
delegations from New York city were to be admitted on equal

I had no reason then, and have no reason now, to believe
that the State committee abused my confidence. I feel sure
now, as I felt sure then, that the committee named by me
fairly represented the two wings of the party; but after
their appointment it was perfectly evident that this did
not propitiate the anti-administration wing. They were
deeply angered against the administration by the fact that
General Grant had taken as his adviser in regard to New
York patronage and politics Senator Conkling rather than
Senator Fenton. Doubtless Senator Conkling's manner
in dealing with those opposed to him had made many
enemies who, by milder methods, might have been brought
to the support of the administration. At any rate, it was
soon clear that the anti-administration forces, recognizing
their inferiority in point of numbers, were determined to
secede. This, indeed, was soon formally announced by one
of their leaders; but as they still continued after this
declaration to take part in the discussions, the point of order
was raised that, having formally declared their intention
of leaving the convention, they were no longer entitled to
take part in its deliberations. This point I ruled out,
declaring that I could not consider the anti-administration
wing as outside the convention until they had left it. The
debates grew more and more bitter, Mr. Conkling making,
late at night, a powerful speech which rallied the forces of
the administration and brought them victory. The anti-
administration delegates now left the convention, but before
they did so one of them rose and eloquently tendered
to me as president the thanks of his associates for my
impartiality, saying that it contrasted most honorably with
the treatment they had received from certain other members
of the convention. But shortly after leaving they
held a meeting in another place, and, having evidently
made up their minds that they must declare war against
everybody who remained in the convention, they
denounced us all alike, and the same gentleman who had
made the speech thanking me for my fairness, and who
was very eminent among those who were known as ``Tammany
Republicans,'' now made a most violent harangue
in which he declared that a man who conducted himself
as I had done, and who remained in such an infamous
convention, or had anything to do with it, was ``utterly
unfit to be an instructor of youth.''

Similar attacks continued to appear in the anti-
administration papers for a considerable time afterward, and at
first they were rather trying to me. I felt that nothing
could be more unjust, for I had strained to the last degree
my influence with my associates who supported General
Grant in securing concessions to those who differed from
us. Had these attacks been made by organs of the opposite
political party, I would not have minded them; but
being made in sundry journals which had represented the
Republican party and were constantly read by my old
friends, neighbors, and students, they naturally, for a
time, disquieted me. One of the charges then made has
often amused me as I have looked back upon it since, and
is worth referring to as an example of the looseness of
statement common among the best of American political
journals during exciting political contests. This charge
was that I had ``sought to bribe people to support the
administration by offering them consulates.'' This was
echoed in various parts of the State.

The facts were as follows: An individual who had made
some money as a sutler in connection with the army had
obtained control of a local paper at Syracuse, and, through
the influence thus gained, an election to the lower house of
the State legislature. During the winter which he passed
at Albany he was one of three or four Republicans who
voted with the Democrats in behalf of the measures
proposed by Tweed, the municipal arch-robber afterward
convicted and punished for his crimes against the city of
New York. Just at this particular time Tweed was at the
height of his power, and at a previous session of the
legislature he had carried his measures through the
Assembly by the votes of three or four Republicans who were
needed in addition to the Democratic votes in order to
give him the required majority. Many leading Republican
journals had published the names of these three or
four men with black lines around them, charging them,
apparently justly, with having sold themselves to Tweed
for money, and among them the person above referred
to. Though he controlled a newspaper in Syracuse, he
had been unable to secure renomination to the legislature,
and, shortly afterward, in order to secure rehabilitation
as well as pelf, sought an appointment to the Syracuse
postmastership. Senator Conkling, mindful of the man's
record, having opposed the appointment, and the President
having declined to make it, the local paper under
control of this person turned most bitterly against the
administration, and day after day poured forth diatribes
against the policy and the persons of all connected with
the actual government at Washington, and especially
against President Grant and Senator Conkling.

The editor of the paper at that time was a very gifted
young writer, an old schoolmate and friend of mine, who,
acting under instructions from the managers of the paper,
took a very bitter line against the administration and its

About the time of the meeting of the convention this
old friend came to me, expressed his regret at the line he
was obliged to take, said that both he and his wife were
sick of the whole thing and anxious to get out of it, and
added: ``The only way out, that I can see, is some appointment
that will at once relieve me of all these duties, and
in fact take me out of the country. Cannot you aid me by
application to the senator or the President in obtaining a
consulate?'' I answered him laughingly, ``My dear ----,
I will gladly do all I can for you, not only for friendship's
sake, but because I think you admirably fitted for the place
you name; but don't you think that, for a few days at
least, while you are applying for such a position, you
might as well stop your outrageous attacks against the
very men from whom you hope to receive the appointment?''

Having said this, half in jest and half in earnest, I
thought no more on the subject, save as to the best way of
aiding my friend to secure the relief he desired.

So rose the charge that I was ``bribing persons to support
the administration by offering them consulates.''

But strong friends rallied to my support. Mr. George
William Curtis in ``Harper's Weekly,'' Mr. Godkin in
``The Nation,'' Mr. Charles Dudley Warner and others
in various other journals took up the cudgels in my behalf,
and I soon discovered that the attacks rather helped than
hurt me. They did much, indeed, to disgust me for a time
with political life; but I soon found that my friends, my
students, and the country at large understood the charges,
and that they seemed to think more rather than less of me
on account of them. In those days the air was full of that
sort of onslaught upon every one supposed to be friendly
to General Grant, and the effect in one case was revealed
to me rather curiously. Matthew Carpenter, of Wisconsin,
was then one of the most brilliant members of the United
States Senate, a public servant of whom his State was
proud; but he had cordially supported the administration
and was consequently made the mark for bitter attack, day
after day and week after week, by the opposing journals,
and these attacks finally culminated in an attempt to base
a very ugly scandal against him upon what was known
among his friends to be a simple courtesy publicly
rendered to a very worthy lady. The attacks and the scandal
resounded throughout the anti-administration papers,
their evident purpose being to defeat his relection to the
United States Senate.

But just before the time for the senatorial election in
Wisconsin, meeting a very bright and active-minded student
of my senior class who came from that State, I asked
him, ``What is the feeling among your people regarding
the relection of Senator Carpenter?'' My student
immediately burst into a torrent of wrath and answered: ``The
people of Wisconsin will send Mr. Carpenter back to the
Senate by an enormous majority. We will see if a gang
of newspaper blackguards can slander one of our senators
out of public life.'' The result was as my young friend
had foretold: Mr. Carpenter was triumphantly relected.

While I am on this subject I may refer, as a comfort to
those who have found themselves unjustly attacked in
political matters, to two other notable cases within my

Probably no such virulence has ever been known day
after day, year after year, as was shown by sundry presses
of large circulation in their attacks on William H. Seward.
They represented him as shady and tricky; as the lowest
of demagogues; as utterly without conscience or ability;
as pretending a hostility to slavery which was simply
a craving for popularity; they refused to report his
speeches, or, if they did report them, distorted them. He
had also incurred the displeasure of very many leaders
of his own party, and of some of its most powerful presses,
yet he advanced steadily from high position to high
position, and won a lasting and most honorable place in the
history of his country.

The same may be said of Senator Conkling. The attacks
on him in the press were bitter and almost universal;
yet the only visible result was that he was relected to the
national Senate by an increased majority. To the catastrophe
which some years later ended his political career,
the onslaught by the newspapers contributed nothing; it
resulted directly from the defects of his own great
qualities and not at all from attacks made upon him from

Almost from the first moment of my acquaintance with
Mr. Conkling, I had endeavored to interest him in the reform
of the civil service, and at least, if this was not
possible, to prevent his actively opposing it. In this sense
I wrote him various letters. For a time they seemed successful;
but at last, under these attacks, he broke all bounds
and became the bitter opponent of the movement. In his
powerful manner and sonorous voice he from time to time
expressed his contempt for it. The most striking of his
utterances on the subject 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-awnson said that
patr-r-riotism-m was the l-a-w-s-t r-r-refuge of a scoundr-r-rel,
he ignor-r-red the enor-r-rmous possibilities of
the word r-refa-awr-r-rm!''

The following spring (June 5, 1872) I attended the
Republican National Convention at Philadelphia as a
substitute delegate. It was very interesting and, unlike the
enormous assemblages since of twelve or fifteen thousand
people at Chicago and elsewhere, was a really deliberative
body. As it was held in the Academy of Music, there was
room for a sufficient audience, while there was not room
for a vast mob overpowering completely the members of
the convention and preventing any real discussion at some
most important junctures, as has been the case in so many
conventions of both parties in these latter years.

The most noteworthy features of this convention were
the speeches of sundry colored delegates from the South.
Very remarkable they were, and a great revelation as to
the ability of some, at least, of their race in the former
slave States.

General Grant was renominated for the Presidency,
and for the Vice-Presidency Mr. Henry Wilson of Massachusetts
in place of Schuyler Colfax, who had held the position
during General Grant's first term.

The only speeches I made during the campaign were
one from the balcony of the Continental Hotel in Philadelphia
and one from the steps of the Delavan House at
Albany, but they were perfunctory and formal. There
was really no need of speeches, and I was longing to go at
my proper university work. Mr. James Anthony Froude,
the historian, had arrived from England to deliver his
lectures before our students; and, besides this, the university
had encountered various difficulties which engrossed
all my thoughts.

General Grant's relection was a great victory. Mr.
Greeley had not one Northern electoral vote; worst of all,
he had, during the contest, become utterly broken in body
and mind, and shortly after the election he died.

His death was a sad ending of a career which, as a
whole, had been so beneficent. As to General Grant, I believe
now, as I believed then, that his election was a great
blessing, and that he was one of the noblest, purest, and
most capable men who have ever sat in the Presidency.
The cheap, clap-trap antithesis which has at times been
made between Grant the soldier and Grant the statesman
is, I am convinced, utterly without foundation. The
qualities which made him a great soldier made him an
effective statesman. This fact was clearly recognized
by the American people at various times during the
war, and especially when, at the surrender of Appomattox,
he declined to deprive General Lee of his sword,
and quietly took the responsibility of allowing the
soldiers of the Southern army to return with their horses
to their fields to resume peaceful industry. These
statesmanlike qualities were developed more and more
by the great duties and responsibilities of the Presidency.
His triumph over financial demagogy in his vetoes
of the Inflation Bill, and his triumph over political demagogy
in securing the treaty of Washington and the Alabama
indemnity, prove him a statesman worthy to rank
with the best of his predecessors. In view of these
evidences of complete integrity and high capacity, and
bearing in mind various conversations which I had with him
during his public life down to a period just before his
death, I feel sure that history will pronounce him not only
a general but a statesman in the best sense of the word.

The renomination of General Grant at the Philadelphia
convention was the result of gratitude, respect, and conviction
of his fitness. Although Mr. Greeley had the support
of the most influential presses of the United States, and
was widely beloved and respected as one who had borne
the burden and heat of the day, he was defeated in obedience
to a healthy national instinct.

Years afterward I was asked in London by one of the
most eminent of English journalists how such a thing
could have taken place. Said he, ``The leading papers of
the United States, almost without exception, were in favor
of Mr. Greeley; how, then, did it happen that he was in
such a hopeless minority?'' I explained the matter as
best I could, whereupon he said, ``Whatever the explanation
may be, it proves that the American press, by its wild
statements in political campaigns, and especially by its
reckless attacks upon individuals, has lost that hold upon
American opinion which it ought to have; and, depend
upon it, this is a great misfortune for your country.'' I
did not attempt to disprove this statement, for I knew but
too well that there was great truth in it.

Of my political experiences at that period I recall two:
the first of these was making the acquaintance at Saratoga
of Mr. Samuel J. Tilden. His political fortunes were
then at their lowest point. With Mr. Dean Richmond of
Buffalo, he had been one of the managers of the Democratic
party in the State, but, Mr. Richmond having died,
the Tweed wing of the party, supported by the canal
contractors, had declared war against Mr. Tilden, treated
him with contempt, showed their aversion to him in every
way, and, it was fully understood, had made up their
minds to depose him. I remember walking and talking
again and again with him under the colonnade at Congress
Hall, and, without referring to any person by name, he
dwelt upon the necessity of more earnest work in redeeming
American politics from the management of men utterly
unfit for leadership. Little did he or I foresee that
soon afterward his arch-enemy, Tweed, then in the same
hotel and apparently all-powerful, was to be a fugitive
from justice, and finally to die in prison, and that he, Mr.
Tilden himself, was to be elected governor of the State of
New York, and to come within a hair's-breadth of the
presidential chair at Washington.

The other circumstance of a political character was my
attendance as an elector at the meeting of the Electoral
College at Albany, which cast the vote of New York for
General Grant. I had never before sat in such a body, and
its proceedings interested me. As president we elected
General Stewart L. Woodford, and as the body, after the
formal election of General Grant to the Presidency, was
obliged to send certificates to the governor of the State,
properly signed and sealed, and as it had no seal of its
own, General Woodford asked if any member had a seal
which he would lend to the secretary for that purpose.
Thereupon a seal-ring which Goldwin Smith had brought
from Rome and given me was used for that purpose. It
was an ancient intaglio. Very suitably, it bore the figure
of a ``Winged Victory,'' and it was again publicly used,
many years later, when it was affixed to the American
signature of the international agreement made at the
Peace Conference of The Hague.

The following winter I had my first experience of
``Reconstruction'' in the South. Being somewhat worn with
work, I made a visit to Florida, passing leisurely through
the southern seaboard States, and finding at Columbia
an old Yale friend, Governor Chamberlain, from whom I
learned much. But the simple use of my eyes and ears
during the journey gave me more than all else. A visit
to the State legislature of South Carolina revealed vividly
the new order of things. The State Capitol was a beautiful
marble building, but unfinished without and dirty
within. Approaching the hall of the House of Representatives,
I found the door guarded by a negro, squalid and
filthy. He evidently reveled in his new citizenship; his
chair was tilted back against the wall, his feet were high
in the air, and he was making everything nauseous about
him with tobacco; but he soon became obsequious and
admitted us to one of the most singular deliberative bodies
ever known--a body composed of former landed proprietors
and slave-owners mixed up pell-mell with their
former slaves and with Northern adventurers then known
as ``carpet-baggers.'' The Southern gentlemen of the
Assembly were gentlemen still, and one of them, Mr.
Memminger, formerly Secretary of the Treasury of the
Confederate States, was especially courteous to us. But soon
all other things were lost in contemplation of ``Mr.
Speaker.'' He was a bright, nimble, voluble mulatto who,
as one of the Southern gentlemen informed me, was ``the
smartest nigger God ever made.'' Having been elevated
to the speakership, he magnified his office. While we were
observing him, a gentleman of one of the most historic
families of South Carolina, a family which had given to
the State a long line of military commanders, governors,
senators, and ambassadors, rose to make a motion. The
speaker, a former slave, at once declared him out of order.
On the member persisting in his effort, the speaker called
out, ``De genlemun frum Bufert has no right to de floh;
de genlemun from Bufert will take his seat,'' and the
former aristocrat obeyed. To this it had come at last.
In the presence of this assembly, in this hall where dis-
union really had its birth, where secession first shone out
in all its glory, a former slave ordered a former master
to sit down, and was obeyed.

In Charleston the same state of things was to be seen,
and for the first time I began to feel sympathy for
the South. This feeling was deepened by what I saw in
Georgia and Florida; and yet, below it all I seemed to see
the hand of God in history, and in the midst of it all I
seemed to hear a deep voice from the dead. To me, seeing
these things, there came, reverberating out of the last
century, that prediction of Thomas Jefferson,--himself a
slaveholder,--who, after depicting the offenses of slavery,
ended with these words, worthy of Isaiah,--divinely inspired
if any ever were:--``I tremble when I remember
that God is just.''



At various times after the death of Mr. Lincoln I visited
Washington, meeting many men especially influential,
and, first of all, President Grant. Of all personages whom
I then met he impressed me most strongly. At various
times I talked with him at the White House, dining with
him and seeing him occasionally in his lighter mood, but
at no time was there the slightest diminution of his
unaffected dignity. Now and then he would make some dry
remark which showed a strong sense of humor, but in
everything there was the same quiet, simple strength. On
one occasion, when going to the White House, I met Professor
Agassiz of Cambridge, and took him with me: we
were received cordially, General Grant offering us cigars,
as was his wont with visitors, and Agassiz genially
smoking with him: when we had come away the great
naturalist spoke with honest admiration of the President,
evidently impressed by the same qualities which had
always impressed me--his modesty, simplicity, and quiet

I also visited him at various times in his summer
cottage at Long Branch, and on one of these occasions he
gave a bit of history which specially interested me. As
we were taking coffee after dinner, a card was brought
in, and the President, having glanced at it, said, ``Tell him
that I cannot see him.'' The servant departed with the
message, but soon returned and said, ``The gentleman
wishes to know when he can see the President.'' ``Tell
him NEVER,'' said Grant.

It turned out that the person whose name the card bore
was the correspondent of a newspaper especially noted
for sensation-mongering, and the conversation drifted to
the subject of newspapers and newspaper correspondents,
when the President told the following story, which I give
as nearly as possible in his own words:

``During the hottest period of the final struggle in
Virginia, we suffered very much from the reports of newspaper
correspondents who prowled about our camps and
then put on the wires the information they had gained,
which of course went South as rapidly as it went North.
It became really serious and embarrassed us greatly. On
this account, one night, when I had decided to make an
important movement with a portion of the army early
next day, I gave orders that a tent should be pitched in an
out-of-the-way place, at the earliest possible moment in the
morning, and notified the generals who were to take part
in the movement to meet me there.

``It happened that on the previous day there had come
to the camp a newspaper correspondent named ----, and,
as he bore a letter from Mr. Washburne, I treated him as
civilly as possible.

``At daylight next morning, while we were assembled in
the tent making final arrangements, one of my aides,
Colonel ----, heard a noise just outside, and, going out,
saw this correspondent lying down at full length, his ear
under the edge of the tent, and a note-book in his
hand. Thereupon Colonel took the correspondent
by his other ear, lifted him to his feet, and swore to him
a solemn oath that if he was visible in any part of the
camp more than five minutes longer, a detachment of
troops would be ordered out to shoot him and bury him
there in the swamp, so that no one would ever know his
name or burial-place.

``The correspondent left at once,'' said the President,
``and he took his revenge by writing a history of the war
from which he left me out.''

The same characteristic which I had found at other
meetings with Grant came out even more strongly when,
just before the close of his term, he made me a visit at
Cornell, where one of his sons was a student. To meet
him I invited several of our professors and others who
were especially prejudiced against him, and, without
exception, they afterward expressed the very feeling which
had come over me after my first conversation with him--
surprise at the revelation of his quiet strength and his
knowledge of public questions then before the country.

During a walk on the university grounds he spoke to me
of the Santo Domingo matter.[3] He said: ``The annexation
question is doubtless laid aside for the present, but the time
will come when the country will have occasion to regret
that it was disposed of without adequate discussion. As I
am so soon to leave the presidency, I may say to you now
that one of my main thoughts in regard to the annexation
of the island has been that it might afford a refuge for the
negroes of the South in case anything like a war of races
should ever arise in the old slave States.'' He then alluded
to the bitter feeling between the two races which was then
shown in the South, and which was leading many of the
blacks to take refuge in Kansas and other northwestern
States, and said, ``If such a refuge as Santo Domingo
were open to them, their former masters would soon find
that they have not the colored population entirely at their
mercy, and would be obliged to compromise with them on
far more just terms than would otherwise be likely.''

[3] See my chapter on Santo Domingo experiences.

The President said this with evidently deep conviction,
and it seemed to me a very thoughtful and far-sighted
view of the possibilities and even probabilities involved.

During another walk, in speaking of the approaching
close of his second presidential term, he said that he found
himself looking forward to it with the same longing which
he had formerly had as a cadet at West Point when looking
forward to a furlough.

I have never believed that the earnest effort made by
his friends at Chicago to nominate him for a third term
was really prompted by him, or that he originally desired
it. It always seemed to me due to the devotion of friends
who admired his noble qualities, and thought that the
United States ought not to be deprived of them in obedience
to a tradition, in this case, more honored in the
breach than in the observance.

I may add here that, having seen him on several
convivial occasions, and under circumstances when, if ever,
he would be likely to indulge in what was understood to
have been, in his early life, an unfortunate habit, I never
saw him betray the influence of alcohol in the slightest

Shortly after General Grant laid down his high office,
he made his well-known journey to Europe and the East,
and I had the pleasure of meeting him at Cologne and
traveling up the Rhine with him. We discussed American
affairs all day long. He had during the previous week
been welcomed most cordially to the hospitalities of two
leading sovereigns of Europe, and had received endless
attentions from the most distinguished men of England
and Belgium, but in conversation he never, in the slightest
degree, referred to any of these experiences. He seemed
not to think of them; his heart was in matters pertaining
to his own country. He told me much regarding his
administration, and especially spoke with the greatest
respect and affection of his Secretary of State, Mr.
Hamilton Fish.

Somewhat later I again met him in Paris, had several
walks and talks with him in which he discussed American
affairs, and I remember that he dwelt with especial
admiration, and even affection, upon his colleagues Sherman
and Sheridan.

I trust that it may not be considered out of place if, in
this retrospect, which is intended, first of all, for my
children and grandchildren, I state that a personal fact,
which was known to many from other sources, was confirmed
to me in one of these conversations: General Grant
informing me, as he had previously informed my wife, that
he had fully purposed to name me as Secretary of State
had Mr. Fish carried out his intention of resigning. When
he told me this, my answer was that I considered it a very
fortunate escape for us both; that my training had not
fitted me for such duties; that my experience in the diplomatic
service had then been slight; that I had no proper
training as a lawyer; that my knowledge of international
law was derived far more from the reading of books than
from its application; and that I doubted my physical ability
to bear the pressure for patronage which converged
upon the head of the President's cabinet.

In the Washington of those days my memory also recalls
vividly a dinner with Senator Conkling at which I
met a number of interesting men, and among them Governor
Seymour, who had been the candidate opposed to
Grant during his first presidential campaign; Senator
Anthony, Senator Edmunds, the former Vice-President
Mr. Hamlin, Senator Carpenter, and others. Many good
stories were told, and one amused me especially, as it was
given with admirable mimicry by Senator Carpenter. He
described an old friend of his, a lawyer, who, coming
before one of the higher courts with a very doubtful case,
began his plea as follows: ``May it please the court, there
is only one point in this case favorable to my client, but
that, may it please the court, is a chink in the common law
which has been worn smooth by the multitude of scoundrels
who have escaped through it.''

During the year 1878 I was sent as an honorary
commissioner from the State of New York to the Paris
Exposition, and shall give a more full account of this period in
another chapter. Suffice it that, having on my return
prepared my official report on the provision for political
education made by the different governments of Europe,
I became more absorbed than ever in university affairs,
keeping aloof as much as possible from politics. But in
the political campaign of 1878 I could not but be
interested. It was different from any other that I had known,
for the ``Greenback Craze'' bloomed out as never before
and seemed likely to poison the whole country. Great
hardships had arisen from the fact that debts which had
been made under a depreciated currency had to be paid
in money of greater value. Men who, in what were known
as ``flush times,'' had bought farms, paid down half
the price, and mortgaged them for the other half, found
now, when their mortgages became due, that they could
not sell the property for enough to cover the lien upon it.
Besides this, the great army of speculators throughout
the country found the constant depreciation of prices
bringing them to bankruptcy. In the cry for more greenbacks,--
that is, for continued issues of paper money,--
demagogism undoubtedly had a large part; but there were
many excellent men who were influenced by it, and among
them Peter Cooper of New York, founder of the great
institution which bears his name, one of the purest and
best men I have ever known.

This cry for more currency was echoed from one end
of the country to the other. In various States, and
especially in Ohio, it seemed to carry everything before it,
nearly all the public men of note, including nearly all the
leading Democrats and very many of the foremost Republicans,
bowing down to it, the main exceptions being John
Sherman and Garfield.

In central New York the mania seemed, early in the
summer, to take strong hold. In Syracuse John Wieting, an
amazingly fluent speaker with much popular humor, who
had never before shown any interest in politics, took the
stump for an unlimited issue of government paper currency,
received the nomination to Congress from the
Democrats and sundry independent organizations, and
for a time seemed to carry everything before him. A
similar state of things prevailed at Ithaca and the region
round about Cayuga Lake. Two or three people much
respected in the community came out for this doctrine,
and, having a press under their control, their influence
seemed likely to be serious. Managers of the Republican
organization in the State seemed at first apathetic; but at
last they became alarmed and sent two speakers through
these disaffected districts--only two, but each, in his way,
a master. The first of them, in order of time, was Senator
Roscoe Conkling, and he took as his subject the National
Banking System. This had been for a considerable time
one of the objects of special attack by uneasy and unsuccessful
people throughout the entire country. As a matter
of fact, the national banking system, created during the
Civil War by Secretary Chase and his advisers, was one of
the most admirable expedients ever devised in any country.
Up to the time of its establishment the whole country
had suffered enormously from the wretched currency
supplied from the State banks. Even in those States where
the greatest precaution was taken to insure its redemption
all of it was, in time of crisis or panic, fluctuating and much
of it worthless. But in other States the case was even
worse. I can recall perfectly that through my boyhood
and young manhood every merchant and shopkeeper kept
on his table what was called a ``bank-note detector,''
which, when any money was tendered him, he was obliged
to consult in order to know, first, whether the bill was a
counterfeit, as it frequently was; secondly, whether it was
on a solvent bank; and thirdly, if good, what discount
should be deducted from the face of it. Under this system
bank-notes varied in value from week to week, and even
from day to day, with the result that all buying and selling
became a sort of gambling.

When, then, Mr. Chase established the new system of
national banks so based that every bill-holder had security
for the entire amount which his note represented, so
controlled that a bill issued from any little bank in the

Book of the day: