Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Autobiography of Andrew Dickson White

Part 5 out of 13

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.4 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

remotest State, or even in the remotest corner of a Territory,
was equal to one issued by the richest bank in Wall
Street, so engraved that counterfeiting was practically
impossible, there was an immense gain to every man, woman,
and child in the country.

To appreciate this gain one must have had experience
of the older system. I remember well the panic of 1857,
which arose while I was traveling in eastern and northern
New England, and that, arriving in the city of Salem,
Massachusetts, having tendered, in payment of my hotel
bill, notes issued by a leading New York city bank,
guaranteed under what was known as the ``Safety Fund
System,'' they were refused. The result was that I had to
leave my wife at the hotel, go to Boston, and there manage
to get Massachusetts money.

But this was far short of the worst. Professor Roberts
of Cornell University once told me that, having in those
days collected a considerable debt in one of the Western
States, he found the currency so worthless that he
attempted to secure New York funds, but that the rate of
exchange was so enormous that, as the only way of saving
anything, he bought a large quantity of cheap clothing,
shipped it to the East, and sold it for what it would bring.

As to the way in which the older banking operations
were carried on in some of the Western States, Governor
Felch of Michigan once gave me some of his experiences
as a bank examiner, and one of them especially
amused me. He said that he and a brother examiner made
an excursion through the State in a sleigh with a pair of
good horses in order to inspect the various banks
established in remote villages and hamlets which had the power
of issuing currency based upon the specie contained in
their vaults. After visiting a few of these, and finding
that each had the amount of specie required by law, the
examiners began to note a curious similarity between the
specie packages in these different banks, and before long
their attention was drawn to another curious fact, which
was that wherever they went they were preceded by a
sleigh drawn by especially fleet horses. On making a
careful examination, they found that this sleigh bore from
bank to bank a number of kegs of specie sufficient to enable
each bank in its turn to show the examiners a temporary
basis in hard money for its output of paper.

Such was the state of things which the national banks
remedied, and the system had the additional advantage of
being elastic, so that any little community which needed
currency had only to combine its surplus capital and
establish a bank of issue.

But throughout the country there were, as there will
doubtless always be, a considerable number of men who, not
being able to succeed themselves, distrusted and disliked
the successful. There was also a plentiful supply of
demagogues skilful in appealing to the prejudices of the
ignorant, envious, or perverse, and as a result came a cry
against the national banks.

In Mr. Conkling's Ithaca speech (1878), he argued the
question with great ability and force. He had a sledge-
hammer way which broke down all opposition, and he exulted
in it. One of his favorite tactics, which greatly
amused his auditors, was to lead some prominent gainsayer
in his audience to interrupt him, whereupon, in the blandest
way possible, he would invite him to come forward, urge
him to present his views, even help him to do so, and then,
having gradually entangled him in his own sophistries and
made him ridiculous, the senator would come down upon
him with arguments--cogent, pithy, sarcastic--much like
the fist of a giant upon a mosquito.

In whatever town Mr. Conkling argued the question of
the national banks, that subject ceased to be a factor in
politics: it was settled; his attacks upon the anti-bank
demagogues annihilated their arguments among thinking
men, and his sarcasm made them ridiculous among
unthinking men. This was the sort of thing which he did
best. While utterly deficient in constructive power, his
destructive force was great indeed, and in this campaign it
was applied, as it was not always applied, for the advantage
of the country.

The other great speaker in the campaign was General
James A. Garfield, then a member of the House of Repre-
sentatives. My acquaintance with him had begun several
years before at Syracuse, when my old school friend, his
college mate, Charles Elliot Fitch, brought him into my
library. My collection of books was even at that date very
large, and Garfield, being delighted with it, soon revealed
his scholarly qualities. It happened that not long before
this I had bought in London several hundred volumes from
the library left by the historian Buckle, very many of them
bearing copious annotations in his own hand. Garfield
had read Buckle's ``History of Civilization in England''
with especial interest, and when I presented to him and
discussed with him some of these annotated volumes, there
began a friendly relation between us which ended only
with his life.

I also met him under less favorable circumstances.
Happening to be in Washington at the revelation of the
Crdit Mobilier operations, I found him in the House of
Representatives, and evidently in the depths of suffering.
An effort was making to connect him with the scandal, and
while everything I know of him convinces me that he was
not dishonest, he had certainly been imprudent. This he
felt, and he asked me, in an almost heart-broken tone, if
I really believed that this had forever destroyed his
influence in the country. I answered that I believed nothing
of the kind; that if he came out in a straightforward,
manly way, without any of the prevarication which had so
greatly harmed some others, he would not be injured, and
the result showed that this advice was good.

On our arrival at the great hall in Ithaca (October 28,
1878), we found floor and stage packed in every part.
Never had a speaker a better audience. There were present
very many men of all parties anxious to hear the currency
question honestly discussed, and among them many of the
more thoughtful sort misled by the idea that a wrong had
been done to the country in the restoration of the currency
to a sound basis; and there was an enormous attendance
of students from the university.

As Garfield began he showed the effects of fatigue from
the many speeches he had been making for weeks,--morning,
noon, and night; but soon he threw himself heartily
into the subject, and of all the thousands of political
speeches I have heard it was the most effective. It was
eloquent, but it was far more than that; it was HONESTLY
argumentative; there was no sophistry of any sort; every
subject was taken up fairly and every point dealt with
thoroughly. One could see the supports of the Greenback
party vanishing as he went on. His manner was the very
opposite of Mr. Conkling's: it was kindly, hearty, as of
neighbor with neighbor,--indeed, every person present,
even if greenbacker or demagogue, must have said within
himself, ``This man is a friend arguing with friends; he
makes me his friend, and now speaks to me as such.''

The main line of his argument finished, there came
something even finer; for, inspired by the presence of the great
mass of students, he ended his speech with an especial
appeal to them. Taking as his test the noted passage in
the letter written by Macaulay to Henry Randall, the biographer
of Jefferson,--the letter in which Macaulay prophesied
destruction to the American Republic when poverty
should pinch and discontent be wide-spread in the country,
--he appealed to these young men to see to it that this
prophecy should not come true; he asked them to follow in
this, as in similar questions, their reason and not their
prejudices, and from this he went on with a statement of
the motives which ought to govern them and the line they
ought to pursue in the effort to redeem their country.

Never was speech more successful. It carried the entire
audience, and left in that region hardly a shred of the
greenback theory. When the election took place it was
observed that in those districts where Conkling and Garfield
had spoken, the greenback heresy was annihilated, while
in other districts which had been counted as absolutely sure
for the Republican party, and to which, therefore, these
orators had not been sent, there was a great increase in
the vote for currency inflation.

I have often alluded to this result as an answer to those
who say that speaking produces no real effect on the
convictions of men regarding party matters. Some speaking
does not, but there is a kind of speaking which does, and
of this were these two masterpieces, so different from
each other in matter and manner, and yet converging
upon the same points, intellectual and moral.

Before I close regarding Garfield, it may be well to give
a few more recollections of him. The meeting ended, we
drove to my house on the university grounds, and shortly
before our arrival he asked me, ``How did you like my
speech?'' I answered: ``Garfield, I have known you too
long and think too highly of you to flatter you; but I will
simply say what I would say under oath: it was the best
speech I ever heard. ``This utterance of mine was deliberate,
expressing my conviction, and he was evidently
pleased with it.

Having settled down in front of the fire in my library,
we began to discuss the political situation, and his talk
remains to me among the most interesting things of my
life. He said much regarding the history of the currency
question and his relations to it, and from this ran rapidly
and suggestively through a multitude of other questions
and the relations of public men to them. One thing which
struck me was his judicially fair and even kindly estimates
of men who differed from him. Very rarely did he speak
harshly or sharply of any one, differing in this greatly
from Mr. Conkling, who, in all his conversations, and
especially in one at that same house not long before, seemed
to consider men who differed from him as enemies of the
human race.

Under Mr. Hayes, the successor of General Grant in the
Presidency, I served first as a commissioner at the Paris
Exposition, and then as minister to Germany. Both these
services will be discussed in the chapters relating to my
diplomatic life, but I may refer briefly to my acquaintance
with him at this period.

I had met him but once previously, and that was during
his membership of Congress when he came to enter his son
at Cornell. I had then been most favorably impressed by
his large, sincere, manly way. On visiting Washington to
receive my instructions before going to Berlin, I saw him
several times, and at each meeting my respect for him was
increased. Driving to Arlington, walking among the soldiers'
graves there, standing in the portico of General Lee's
former residence, and viewing from the terrace the Capitol
in the distance, he spoke very nobly of the history we had
both personally known, of the sacrifices it had required,
and of the duties which it now imposed. At his dinner-
table I heard him discuss with his Secretary of State, Mr.
Evarts, a very interesting question--the advisability of
giving members of the cabinet seats in the Senate and
House of Representatives, as had been arranged in the
constitution of the so-called Confederate States; but of
this I shall speak in another chapter.

It should further be said regarding Mr. Hayes that, while
hardly any President was ever so systematically denounced
and depreciated, he was one of the truest and best men
who has ever held our Chief Magistracy. I remember,
just at the close of his administration, dining with an
eminent German statesman who said to me: ``I have
watched the course of your President with more and
more surprise. We have been seeing constantly in our
German newspapers extracts from American journals
holding up your President to contempt as an ignoramus,
but more and more I have seen that he is one of the most
substantial, honest, and capable Presidents that you have

This opinion was amply justified by what I saw of Mr.
Hayes after the close of his Presidency. Twice I met him
during conferences at Lake Mohonk, at which matters
relating to the improvement of the freedmen and Indians
were discussed, and in each he took broad, strong, and
statesmanlike views based on thoughtful experience and
permeated by honesty.

I also met him at a great public meeting at Cleveland,
where we addressed some four thousand people from the
same platform, and again I was impressed by his manly,
far-seeing grasp of public questions.

As to my after relations with Garfield, I might speak of
various pleasant interviews, but will allude to just one
incident which has a pathetic side. During my first residence
in Germany as minister of the United States, I one day
received a letter from him asking me to secure for him the
best editions of certain leading Greek and Latin classics,
adding that it had long been his earnest desire to re-read
them, and that now, as he had been elected to the United
States Senate, he should have leisure to carry out his
purpose. I had hardly sent him what he desired when the
news came that he had been nominated to the Presidency,
and so all his dream of literary leisure vanished. A few
months later came the news of his assassination.

My term of service as minister in Berlin being ended, I
arrived in America in September, 1881, and, in accordance
with custom, went to present my respects to the new President
and his Secretary of State. They were both at Long
Branch. Mr. Blaine I saw and had with him a very interesting
conversation, but President Garfield I could not see.
His life was fast ebbing out, and a week later, on Sunday
morning, I heard the bells tolling and knew that his last
struggle was over.

So closed a career which, in spite of some defects, was
beautiful and noble. Great hopes had been formed regarding
his Presidency, and yet, on looking back over his life,
I have a strong feeling that his assassination was a service
rendered to his reputation. I know from those who had
full information that during his campaign for the Presidency
he had been forced to make concessions and pledges
which would have brought great trouble upon him had he
lived through his official term. Gifted and good as he
was, advantage had been taken of his kindly qualities, and
he would have had to pay the penalty.

It costs me a pang to confess my opinion that the
administration of Mr. Arthur, a man infinitely his inferior in
nearly all the qualities which men most justly admire, was
far better than the administration which Mr Garfield
would have been allowed to give to the country.

Upon my return to the university I was asked by my
fellow-citizens of Ithaca in general, as also by the university
faculty and students, to give the public address at the
celebration of President Garfield's funeral. This I did
and never with a deeper feeling of loss.

One thing in the various tributes to him had struck me
painfully: Throughout the whole country his career was
constantly referred to in funeral addresses as showing
how a young American under all the disadvantages of
poverty could rise to the highest possible position. I have
always thought that such statements, as they are usually
presented, are injurious to the character and lowering to
the aspirations of young men. I took pains, therefore, to
show that while Garfield had risen under the most
discouraging circumstances from complete poverty, his rise
was due to something other than mere talent and exertion
--that it was the result of talent and exertion originating
in noble instincts and directed to worthy ends. Garfield's
life proves this abundantly, and whatever may have been
his temporary weakness under the fearful pressure
brought upon him toward the end of his career, these
instincts and purposes remained his main guiding influences
from first to last.



The successor of Garfield, President Arthur, I had met
frequently in my old days at Albany. He was able,
and there never was the slightest spot upon his integrity;
but in those early days nobody dreamed that he was to
attain any high distinction. He was at that time charged
with the main military duties under the governor; later he
became collector of the port of New York, and in both
positions showed himself honest and capable. He was lively,
jocose, easy-going, with little appearance of devotion to
work, dashing off whatever he had to do with ease and
accuracy. At various dinner-parties and social gatherings,
and indeed at sundry State conventions, where I met
him, he seemed, more than anything else, a bon vivant,
facile and good-natured.

His nomination to the Vice-Presidency, which on the
death of Garfield led him to the Presidency, was very curious,
and an account of it given me by an old friend who
had previously been a member of the Garfield cabinet and
later an ambassador in Europe, was as follows:

After the defeat of the ``Stalwarts,'' who had fought
so desperately for the renomination of General Grant at
the Chicago Convention of 1880, the victorious side of the
convention determined to concede to them, as an olive-
branch, the Vice-Presidency, and with this intent my
informant and a number of other delegates who had been
especially active in preventing Grant's renomination went
to the room of the New York delegation, which had
taken the leading part in his support, knocked at the door,
and called for Mr. Levi P. Morton, previously a member
of Congress, and, several years later, Vice-President of
the United States and Governor of New York. Mr. Morton
came out into the corridor, and thereupon the visitors said
to him, ``We wish to give the Vice-Presidency to New York
as a token of good will, and you are the man who should
take it; don't fail to accept it.'' Mr. Morton answered
that he had but a moment before, in this conference
of his delegation, declined the nomination. At this the
visitors said, ``Go back instantly and tell them that you
have reconsidered and will accept; we will see that the
convention nominates you.'' Mr. Morton started to follow
this advice, but was just too late: while he was outside the
door he had been taken at his word, the place which he
had declined had been offered to General Arthur, he had
accepted it, and so the latter and not Mr. Morton became
President of the United States.

Up to the time when the Presidency devolved upon him,
General Arthur had shown no qualities which would have
suggested him for that high office, and I remember vividly
that when the news of Garfield's assassination arrived
in Berlin, where I was then living as minister, my
first overwhelming feeling was not, as I should have
expected, horror at the death of Garfield, but stupefaction
at the elevation of Arthur. It was a common saying of
that time among those who knew him best, `` `Chet' Arthur
President of the United States! Good God!'' But the
change in him on taking the Presidency was amazing. Up
to that time he had been known as one of Mr. Conkling's
henchmen, though of the better sort. As such he had held
the collectorship of the port of New York, and as such,
during his occupancy of the Vice-Presidency, he had
visited Albany and done his best, though in vain, to secure
Mr. Conkling's renomination; but immediately on his elevation
to the Presidency all this was changed, and there is
excellent authority for the statement that when Mr. Conkling
wished him to continue, as President, in the subservient
position which he had taken as Vice-President, Mr.
Arthur had refused, and when taxed with ingratitude he
said: ``No. For the Vice-Presidency I was indebted to
Mr. Conkling, but for the Presidency of the United States
my debt is to the Almighty.''

The new President certainly showed this spirit in his
actions. Rarely has there been a better or more dignified
administration; the new Secretary of State, Mr. Frelinghuysen,
was in every respect fitted for his office, and the other men
whom Mr. Arthur summoned about him were satisfactory.

Although I had met him frequently, and indeed was on
cordial terms with him before his elevation to the
Presidency, I never met him afterward. During his whole
administration my duties in connection with Cornell
University completely absorbed me. I was one of the last
university presidents who endeavored to unite professorial
with executive duties, and the burden was heavy.
The university had made at that period its first great
sale of lands, and this involved a large extension of
its activity; the famous Fiske lawsuit, involving nearly
two millions of dollars, had come on; there was every
sort of detail requiring attention at the university
itself, and addresses must be given in various parts of
the country, more especially before alumni associations,
to keep them in proper relations with the institution;
so that I was kept completely out of politics, was hardly
ever in Washington during this period, and never at the
White House.

The only matter which connected me with politics at all
was my conviction, which deepened more and more, as
to the necessity of reform in the civil service; and on this
subject I conferred with Mr. Dorman B. Eaton, Mr. John
Jay, and others at various times, and prepared an article
for the ``North American Review'' in which I presented
not only the general advantages of civil service reform,
but its claims upon men holding public office. My main
effort was to show, what I believed then and believe still
more strongly now, that, evil as the whole spoils system
was in its effects on the country, it was quite as vexatious
and fertile in miseries and disappointments to political
leaders. In the natural order of things, where there is no
spoils system, and where the bestowal of offices is not in the
hands of senators, representatives, and the like, these
senators and representatives, when once elected, have time to
discharge their duties, and with very little pains can
maintain their hold upon their constituents as long as they
please. The average man, when he has cast his vote for a
candidate and sees that candidate elected, takes an interest
in him; the voter, feeling that he has, in a certain sense,
made an investment in the man thus elected, is naturally
inclined to regard him favorably and to continue him in
office. But with the spoils system, no sooner is a candidate
elected than, as has been well observed, for every office
which he bestows he makes ``ninety-nine enemies and one
ingrate.'' The result is that the unsuccessful candidates
for appointment return home bent on taking revenge by
electing another person at the end of the present incumbent's
term, and hence comes mainly the wretched system
of rapid rotation in office, which has been in so many
ways injurious to our country.

This and other points I urged, but the evil was too
deeply seated. Time was required to remove all doubts
which were raised. I found with regret that my article
had especially incurred the bitter dislike of my old adviser,
Thurlow Weed, the great friend of Mr. Seward and former
autocrat of Whig and Republican parties in the State of
New York. Being entirely of the old school, he could not
imagine the government carried on without the spoils system.

On one of my visits to New York in the interest of this
reform, I met at dinner Mr. William M. Evarts, then at the
head of the American bar, who had been Secretary of
State under Mr. Hayes, and who was afterward senator
from the State of New York. I had met him frequently
before and heard much of his brilliant talk, and especially
his admirable stories of all sorts.

But on this occasion Mr. Evarts surpassed himself. I
recall a series of witty repartees and charming illustrations,
but will give merely one of the latter. Something
was said of people's hobbies, whereupon Mr. Evarts said
that a gentleman visiting a lunatic asylum went into a
room where several patients were assembled, and saw one
of them astride a great dressing-trunk, holding fast to a
rope drawn through the handle, seesawing and urging it
forward as if it were a horse at full speed. The visitor,
to humor the patient, said, ``That 's a fine horse you
are riding.'' ``Why, no,'' said the patient, ``this is not
a horse.'' ``What is it, then?'' asked the visitor. The
patient answered, ``It 's a hobby.'' ``But,'' said the
visitor, ``what 's the difference between a horse and a
hobby?'' ``Why,'' said the patient, ``there 's an enormous
difference; a horse you can get off from, a hobby
you can't.''

As to civil-service reform, my efforts to convert leading
Republicans by personal appeals were continued, and in
some cases with good results; but I found it very difficult
to induce party leaders to give up the immediate and direct
exercise of power which the spoils system gave them.
Especially was it difficult with sundry editors of leading
papers and party managers; but time has wrought upon
them, and some of those who were most obdurate in those
days are doing admirable work in these. The most serious
effort I ever made was to convert my old friend and classmate,
Thomas C. Platt, the main manager and, as he
was called, the ``boss'' of the Republican party in the
State of New York, a man of great influence throughout
the Union. He treated me civilly, but evidently considered
me a ``crank.'' He, like Mr. Thurlow Weed, was
unable to understand how a party could be conducted
without the promise of spoils for the victors; but I have
lived to see him take a better view. As I write these lines
word comes that his influence is thrown in favor of the bill
for reforming the civil service of the State of New York,
championed by my nephew, Mr. Horace White, a member
of the present State Senate, and favored by Colonel Roosevelt,
the governor.

It was upon a civil-service errand in Philadelphia that
I met, after a long separation, my old friend and classmate
Wayne MacVeagh. He had been minister to Constantinople,
Attorney-General in the Garfield cabinet, and, at a
later period, ambassador at Rome. At this period he had
returned to practise his profession in Philadelphia, and at
his hospitable table I met a number of interesting men,
and on one occasion sat next an eminent member of
the Philadelphia bar, Judge Biddle. A subject happened
to come up in which I had taken great interest, namely,
American laxity in the punishment of crime, and especially
the crime of murder, whereupon Judge Biddle dryly remarked:
``The taking of life, after due process of law, as
a penalty for murder, seems to be the only form of taking
life to which the average American has any objection.''

In the autumn of 1882 came a tremendous reverse for
the Republican party. There was very wide-spread disgust
at the apparent carelessness of those in power regarding
the redemption of pledges for reforms. Judge Folger,
who had been nominated to the governorship of New
York, had every qualification for the place, but an opinion
had widely gained ground that President Arthur, who had
called Judge Folger into his cabinet as Secretary of the
Treasury, was endeavoring to interfere with the politics
of the State, and to put Judge Folger into the governor's
chair. There was a suspicion that ``the machine'' was
working too easily and that some of its wheels were of a
very bad sort. All this, coupled with slowness in redeeming
platform pledges, brought on the greatest disaster the
Republican party had ever experienced. In November,
1882, Mr. Cleveland was elected governor by the most
enormous majority ever known, and the defeat extended
not only through the State of New York, but through a
number of other States. It was bitter medicine, but, as it
afterward turned out, very salutary.

Just after this election, being in New York to deliver an
address before the Geographical Society on the subject of
``The New Germany'' (December 27, 1882), I met a number
of distinguished men in politics at the table of General
Cullom, formerly the head of the West Point Academy.
There was much interesting talk, and some significant
political facts were brought out; but the man who interested
me most was my next neighbor at table, General McDowell.

He was an old West Pointer, and had planned the
first battle of Bull Run, when our troops were overwhelmingly
defeated, the capital put in peril, and the
nation humiliated at home and abroad. There is no
doubt now that McDowell's plans were excellent, but
the troops were raw volunteers, with little knowledge of
their officers and less confidence in them; and, as a
result, when, like the men in the ``Biglow Papers,'' they
found ``why bagonets is peaked,'' there was a panic, just
as there was in the first battles of the French Revolution.
Every man distrusted every other man; there was a general
outcry, and all took flight. I remember doing what
I could in those days to encourage those who looked with
despair on the flight from the battle-field of Bull Run, by
pointing out to them exactly similar panics and flights
in the first battles of the soldiers who afterward became
the Grande Arme and marched triumphantly over Europe.

But of one thing the American people felt certain in
those days, and that was that at Bull Run ``General
McDowell was drunk.'' This assertion was loudly made,
widely spread, never contradicted, and generally believed.
I must confess now with shame that I was one of those who
were so simple-minded as to take this newspaper story as
true. On this occasion, sitting next General McDowell, I
noticed that he drank only water, taking no wine of any
sort; and on my calling his attention to the wines of our
host as famous, he answered, ``No doubt; but I never take
anything but water.'' I answered, ``General, how long has
that been your rule?'' He replied, ``Always since my boy-
hood. At that time I was sent to a military school at
Troyes in France, and they gave us so much sour wine
that I vowed that if I ever reached America again no
drink but water should ever pass my lips, and I have kept
to that resolution.''

Of course this was an enormous surprise to me, but
shortly afterward I asked various army officers regarding
the matter, and their general answer was: ``Why, of
course; all of us know that McDowell is the only officer
in the army who never takes anything but water.''

And this was the man who was widely believed by
the American people to have lost the battle of Bull Run
because he was drunk!

Another remembrance of this period is a dinner with
Mr. George Jones, of the ``New York Times,'' who gave
me a full account of the way in which his paper came into
possession of the documents revealing the Tammany
frauds, and how, despite enormous bribes and bitter
threats, the ``Times'' persisted in publishing the papers,
and so brought the Tweed rgime to destruction.

Of political men, the most noted whom I met in those
days was Governor Cleveland. He was little known, but
those of us who had been observant of public affairs knew
that he had shown sturdy honesty and courage, first as
sheriff of the county of Erie, and next as mayor of Buffalo,
and that, most wonderful of all, he had risen above party
ties and had appointed to office the best men he could find,
even when some of them were earnest Republicans.

In June of 1883 he visited the university as an ex-officio
trustee, laid the corner-stone of the chapel above the
remains of Ezra Cornell, and gave a brief address. It was
short, but surprised me by its lucidity and force. This
being done, I conducted him to the opening of the new
chemical laboratory. He was greatly interested in it, and
it was almost pathetic to note his evident regret that he
had never had the advantage of such instruction. I
learned afterward that he was classically prepared to enter
college, but that his father, a poor country clergyman,
being unable to defray his expenses, the young man
determined to strike out for himself, and so began one of
the best careers known in the history of American politics.

At this same commencement of Cornell University
appeared another statesman, Justin S. Morrill of Vermont,
author of the Morrill Bill of 1862, which, by a grant of
public lands, established a college for scientific, technical,
military, and general education in every State and Territory
in the Union. It was one of the most beneficent
measures ever proposed in any country. Mr. Morrill had
made a desperate struggle for his bill, first as representative
and afterward as senator. It was twice vetoed by
President Buchanan, who had at his back all the pro-slavery
doctrinaires of his time. They distrusted, on various
accounts, any system for promoting advanced education,
and especially for its promotion by the government; but
he won the day, and on this occasion our trustees, at my
suggestion, invited him to be present at the unveiling of
his portrait by Huntington, which had been painted by
order of the trustees for the library.

He was evidently gratified at the tribute, and all who
met him were pleased with him. The time will come, I
trust, when his statue will stand in the capital of the Union
as a memorial of one of the most useful and far-seeing
statesmen our country has known.

A week later I addressed my class at Yale on ``The
Message of the Nineteenth Century to the Twentieth.'' In
this address my endeavor was to indicate the lines on which
reforms of various sorts must be instituted, and along
which a better future for the country could be developed,
and it proved a far greater success than I had expected.
It was widely circulated in various forms, first in the
newspapers, then as a pamphlet, and finally as a kind of
campaign document.

From July to September of that year (1883) I was
obliged to be in Europe looking after matters pertaining
to the university lawsuit, and, on returning, was called
upon to address a large meeting of Germans at the funeral
of a member of the German parliament who had
died suddenly while on a visit to our country--Edward
Lasker. I had known him well in Berlin as a man of
great ability and high character, and felt it a duty to
accept the invitation to give one of the addresses at
his funeral. The other address was given by my friend
of many years, Carl Schurz; and these addresses, with
some others made at the time, did, I suppose, something
to bring to me the favor of my German fellow-citizens in
New York.

Still, my main thoughts were given to Cornell University.
This was so evident that on one occasion a newspaper
of my own party, in an article hostile to those who spoke
of nominating me for the governorship, declared: ``Mr.
White's politics and religion are Cornell University.''
But suddenly, in 1884, I was plunged into politics most

As has been usual with every party in the State of New
York from the beginning of the government, the Republicans
were divided between two factions, one supporting
Mr. Arthur for the Presidency, the other hoping to nominate
Mr. Blaine. These two factions thus standing opposed
to each other, Mr. Theodore Roosevelt, with a few
others in various parts of the State, started an independent
movement, with the result that the two main divisions of
the party, detesting each other more than they detested the
independents, supported the latter and elected independent
candidates as delegates at large to the approaching
Republican Convention at Chicago. Without any previous
notice, I was made one of these delegates. My position was
therefore perfectly independent; I was at liberty to vote
for whom I pleased. Although my acquaintance with Mr.
Blaine was but slight, I had always felt strong admiration
and deep attachment for him. As Secretary of State, during
a part of my residence in Berlin, he had stood by
me in a contest regarding the double standard of value
in which I had feared that he might waver; and, far more
than all this, his general political course had caused me,
as it had caused myriads of others, to feel grateful to

But I had learned some things regarding his vulnerability
in a presidential campaign which made me sure
that it would be impossible to elect him. An impartial
but kindly judge had, some months before, while
expressing great admiration for Mr. Blaine, informed me of
some transactions which, while they showed no turpitude,
revealed a carelessness in doing business which would
certainly be brought to bear upon him with great effect in a
heated political campaign. It was clear to me that, if
nominated, he would be dragged through the mire, the
Republican party defeated, and the country at large
besmirched in the eyes of the whole world.

Arrived at Chicago June 2, 1884, I found the political
caldron seething and bubbling. Various candidates
were earnestly supported, and foremost of all, President
Arthur and Mr. Blaine. The independent delegates,
led by Theodore Roosevelt and George William Curtis,
and the Massachusetts delegation, headed by Governor
Long, Senator Hoar, and Henry Cabot Lodge, decided to
support Senator Edmunds of Vermont. No man stood
higher than he for integrity as well as for statesmanlike
qualities and legal abilities; no one had more thoroughly
the respect of thinking men from one end of the country
to the other.

The delegates having arrived in the great hall where
the convention was sitting, a number of skirmishes took
place, and a momentary victory was gained by the
Independents in electing, as temporary chairman, a colored
delegate of great ability from one of the Southern States,
over Mr. Powell Clayton of Arkansas, who, though he
had suffered bitterly and struggled bravely to maintain
the Union during the Civil War, was supposed to be identified
with doubtful methods in Southern politics.

But as it soon became evident that the main tide was for
Mr. Blaine, various efforts were made to concentrate the
forces opposed to him upon some candidate who could
command more popular support than Mr. Edmunds. An
earnest effort was made in favor of John Sherman
of Ohio, and his claims were presented most sympathetically
to me by my old Cornell student, Governor Foraker.
Of all the candidates before the convention I would have
preferred to vote for Mr. Sherman. He had borne the
stress of the whole anti-slavery combat, and splendidly;
he had rendered great services to the nation as a statesman
and financier, and was in every respect capable and worthy.
Unfortunately there were too many old enmities against
him, and it was clear that the anti-Blaine vote could not
be concentrated on him. My college classmate, Mr.
Knevals of New York, then urged me to vote for President
Arthur. This, too, would have been a fairly satisfactory
solution of the question, for President Arthur had surprised
every one by the excellence of his administration.
Still there was a difficulty in his case: the Massachusetts
delegates could not be brought to support him; it was said
that he had given some of their leaders mortal offense
by his hostility to the River and Harbor Bill. A final
effort was then made by the Independents to induce General
Sherman to serve, but he utterly refused, and so the only
thing left was to let matters take their course. All chance
of finding any one to maintain the desired standard of
American political life against the supporters of Mr.
Blaine had failed.

As we came into the convention on the morning of the
day fixed for making the nominations, I noticed that the
painted portraits of Washington and Lincoln, previously
on either side of the president's chair, had been removed.
Owing to the tumultuous conduct of the crowd in the
galleries, it had been found best to remove things of an
ornamental nature from the walls, for some of these
ornaments had been thrown down, to the injury of those
sitting below.

On my calling Curtis's attention to this removal of the
two portraits, he said: ``Yes, I have noticed it, and I am
glad of it. Those weary eyes of Lincoln have been upon
us here during our whole stay, and I am glad that they are
not to see the work that is to be done here to-day.'' It was
a curious exhibition of sentiment, a revelation of the deep
poetic feeling which was so essential an element in Curtis's
noble character.

The various candidates were presented by prominent
speakers, and most of the speeches were thoroughly good;
but unquestionably the best, from an oratorical point of
view, was made on the nomination of Mr. Edmunds by
Governor Long of Massachusetts. Both as to matter and
manner it was perfection; was felt to be so by the convention;
and was sincerely applauded even by the majority
of those who intended to vote for Mr. Blaine.

There was one revelation here, as there had been at
many conventions previously, which could not fail to
produce a discouraging impression upon every thoughtful
American. The number of delegates and substitutes sent
to the convention amounted in all to a few hundreds, but
these were almost entirely lost in the immense crowd of
spectators, numbering, it was said, from twelve to fifteen
thousand. In the only conventions which I had ever before
seen, including those at Baltimore and Philadelphia and
various State conventions of New York, the delegates had
formed the majority of those in the hall; but in this great
``wigwam'' there were times in which the most important
part was played by the spectators. At some moments this
overwhelming mob, which encircled the seats of the delegates
on the floor and rose above them on all sides in the
galleries, endeavored to sweep the convention in the direction
of its own whims and fancies. From time to time
the convention ceased entirely to be a deliberative body.
As the names of certain favorite candidates were called, or
as certain popular allusions were made in speeches, this
mob really took possession of the convention and became
almost frantic. I saw many women jumping up and down,
dishevelled and hysterical, and some men acting in much
the same way. It was absolutely unworthy of a convention
of any party, a disgrace to decency, and a blot upon
the reputation of our country. I am not alone in this
opinion. More than once during my official life in Europe I
have heard the whole thing lamented by leading liberal
statesmen as bringing discredit on all democratic government.

There were times indeed when the galleries sought to
howl down those who were taking part in the convention,
and this was notably the case during a very courageous
speech by Mr. Roosevelt.

I may mention, in passing, that the country then
received the first revelation of that immense pluck and vigor
which have since carried Mr. Roosevelt through so many
political conflicts, borne him through all the dangers of
the Santiago campaign, placed him in the governor's chair
of the State of New York and in the Vice-Presidency of
the United States, leading to the Presidency, which he
holds as I revise these lines. At the Chicago Convention,
though he was in a small minority, nothing daunted him.
As he stood upon a bench and addressed the president,
there came from the galleries on all sides a howl and
yell, ``Sit down! sit down!'' with whistling and cat-calls.
All to no purpose; the mob might as well have tried to
whistle down a bronze statue. Roosevelt, slight in build
as he then was, was greater than all that crowd combined.
He stood quietly through it all, defied the mob, and finally
obliged them to listen to him.

Toward the end of the convention this mob showed itself
even worse than before. It became evident that large
parts of the galleries were packed in the interest of the
local candidate for the Vice-Presidency, General Logan,
and this mass of onlookers did their best to put down all
delegates supporting any other.

No more undemocratic system was ever devised. The
tendency of this ``wigwam'' plan of holding great meetings
or conventions is to station a vast mob of sensation-
seeking men and women in the galleries between the delegates
and the country at large. The inevitable consequence
is that the ``fog-horns'' of a convention play the most ef-
fective part, and that they seek mainly the applause of the
galleries. The country at large is for the moment
forgotten. The controlling influence is the mob, mainly from
the city where the convention is held. The whole thing is
a monstrous abuse. Attention has been called to it by
thinking Democrats as well as by Republicans, who have
seen in it a sign of deterioration which has produced many
unfortunate consequences and will produce more. It is
the old story of the French Convention overawed by a gallery
mob and mistaking the mob whimsies of a city for the
sober judgment of the country. One result of it the whole
nation saw when, in more recent years, a youthful member
of Congress, with no training to fit him for executive
duties, was suddenly, by the applause of such a mob,
imposed upon the Democratic National Convention as a
candidate for the Presidency. Those who recall the way in
which ``the boy orator of the Platte'' became the Democratic
candidate for the Chief Magistracy over seventy
millions of people, on account of a few half-mawkish, half-
blasphemous phrases in a convention speech, can bear
witness to the necessity of a reform in this particular--a
reform which will forbid a sensation-seeking city mob to
usurp the function of the whole people of our Republic.

In spite of these mob hysterics, the Independents
persisted to the last in supporting Mr. Edmunds for the first
place, but in voting for the second place they separated.
For the Vice-Presidency I cast the only vote which was
thrown for my old Cornell student, Mr. Foraker, previously
governor of Ohio, and since that time senator
from that State.

In spite of sundry ``defects of his qualities,'' which
I freely recognized, I regarded him as a fearless, upright,
downright, straightforward man of the sort who must
always play a great part in American politics.

It was at this convention that I saw for the first time
Mr. McKinley of Ohio, and his quiet self-possession in
the midst of the various whirls and eddies and storms
caused me to admire him greatly. Calm, substantial, quick
to see a good point, strong to maintain it, he was evidently
a born leader of men. His speeches were simple, clear,
forcible, and aided at times in rescuing the self-respect
of the body.

This Republican convention having adjourned, the
National Democratic Convention met soon afterward in the
same place and nominated Grover Cleveland of New York.
He was a man whom I greatly respected. As already
stated, his career as sheriff of Erie County, as mayor of
Buffalo, and as governor of the State of New York had
led me to admire him. He had seemed utterly incapable
of making any bid for mob support; there had
appeared not the slightest germ of demagogism in him;
he had refused to be a mere partizan tool and had steadily
stood for the best ideals of government. As governor
he showed the same qualities which had won admiration
during his previous career as sheriff and mayor. He
made as many appointments as he could without regard
to political considerations, and it was remarked with
wonder that when a number of leading Democratic ``workers''
and ``wheel-horses'' came to the executive chamber in
Albany in order to dictate purely partizan appointments,
he virtually turned them out of the room. Most amazing
thing of all, he had vetoed a bill reducing the fare on the
elevated railroads of New York, in the face of the earnest
advice of partizans who assured him that by doing so he
would surely array against him the working-classes of
that city and virtually annihilate his political future.
To this his answer was that whatever his sympathies for
the working-people might be, he could not, as an honest
man, allow such a bill to pass, and, come what might, he
would not. He had also dared, quietly but firmly, to resist
the chief ``boss'' of his party in New York City, and he
had consequently to brave the vials of Celtic wrath. The
scenes at the convention which nominated him were stirring,
and an eminent Western delegate struck a chord in
the hearts of thousands of Republicans as well as
Democrats when he said, ``We love him for the enemies he has
made.'' Had it been a question simply between men, great
numbers of us who voted for Mr. Blaine would have voted
for Mr. Cleveland; but whatever temptation I might be
subjected to in the matter was overcome by one fact: Mr.
Cleveland was too much like the Trojan horse, for he bore
with him a number of men who, when once brought into
power, were sure to labor hard to undo everything that
he would endeavor to accomplish, and his predestined
successor in the governorship of the State of New York was
one of those whom I looked upon as especially dangerous.

Therefore it was, that, after looking over the ground, I
wrote an open letter to Mr. Theodore Roosevelt and other
Independents, giving the reasons why those of us who had
supported Mr. Edmunds should now support Mr. Blaine,
and in this view Mr. Roosevelt, with a large number of our
Independent friends, agreed.

I had, however, small hopes. It was clear to me that Mr.
Blaine had little chance of being elected; that, in fact, he
was too heavily weighted with the transactions which Mr.
Pullman had revealed to me some months before the
beginning of the convention.

But I made an effort to commit him to the only policy
which could save him. For, having returned to the university,
I wrote William Walter Phelps, an old friend, who
had been his chief representative at Chicago, an earnest
letter stating that there seemed to me but one chance of
rallying to Mr. Blaine's support the very considerable
body of disaffected Republicans in the State of New York;
that, almost without exception, they were ardent believers
in a reform of the civil service; and that an out-and-out
earnest declaration in favor of it by our presidential
candidate might do much to propitiate them. I reminded
Mr. Phelps of the unquestioned evils of the ``spoils
system,'' and said that Mr. Blaine must surely have often
observed them, suffered under pressure from them, and
felt that something should be done to remedy them; and
that if he would now express his conviction to this effect,
taking strong ground in favor of the reform and basing
his utterances on his experiences as a statesman, it would,
in my mind, do much to save the State of New York for
the Republicans.

After writing this letter, feeling that it might seem to
Mr. Phelps and to Mr. Blaine himself very presuming for
a man who had steadily opposed them at Chicago thus to
volunteer advice, I laid it aside. But it happened that I
had been chosen one of the committee of delegates to go
to Maine to apprise Mr. Blaine formally of his nomination,
and it also happened that my old student and friend,
Judge Foraker, was another member of the committee. It
was impossible for me to go to Maine, since the commencement
of the university, at which I was bound to preside,
came on the day appointed for Mr. Blaine's reception of
the committee at Bangor; but Judge Foraker having
stopped over at the university to attend a meeting of the
trustees as an alumni member of that body, I mentioned
this letter to him. He asked to see it, and, having read it,
asked to be allowed to take it with him. I consented, and
heard nothing more from him on the subject; but the
following week, at the Yale commencement, while sitting with
Mr. Evarts and Judge Shipman to award prizes in the
law department, I saw, looking toward me over the
heads of the audience in the old Centre Church, my
friend Frederick William Holls of New York, and it
was evident from his steady gaze that he had something
to say. The award of prizes having been made and the
audience dismissed, Mr. Holls met me and said: ``Mr.
Blaine will adopt your suggestion in his letter of
acceptance.'' Both of us were overjoyed. It looked like a
point scored not only for the Republican party, but for the
cause which we both had so deeply at heart.

But as the campaign went on it was more and more
evident that this concession, which I believe he would have
adhered to had he been elected, was to be in vain.

It was perhaps, on the whole, and on both sides, the vilest
political campaign ever waged. Accusations were made
against both candidates which should have forever brought
contempt on the men who made them. Nothing could have
been further from the wish of either candidate than that
such accusations should be made against his opponent, but
each was powerless: the vile flood of slander raged on.
But I am glad here to recall the fact that when, at a later
period, one of the worst inventors of slander against Mr.
Blaine sought reward in the shape of office from President
Cleveland, he was indignantly spurned.

In politics I took very little part. During the summer
my main thoughts were directed toward a controversy before
the Board of Regents, in regard to the system of
higher education in the State of New York, with my
old friend President Anderson of Rochester, who had
vigorously attacked some ideas which seemed to me essential
to any proper development of university education
in America; and this was hardly finished when I was asked
to take part in organizing the American Historical Association
at Saratoga, and to give the opening address. This,
with other pursuits of an academic nature, left me little
time for the political campaign.

But there occurred one little incident to which I still
look back with amusement. My old friends and constituents
in Syracuse had sent me a general invitation to
come over from the university and preside at some one
of their Republican mass-meetings. My answer was that
as to the ``hack speakers'' of the campaign, with their
venerable gags, stale jokes, and nauseating slanders, I had no
desire to hear them, and did not care to sit on the platform
with them; but that when they had a speaker to whom I
cared to listen I would gladly come. The result was that
one day I received a letter inviting me to preside over a
mass-meeting at Syracuse, at which Mr. McKinley was to
make the speech. I accepted gladly and on the appointed
evening arrived at the Syracuse railway station. There
I found the mayor of the city ready to take me in his
carriage to the hall where the meeting was to be held; but we
had hardly left the station when he said to me: ``Mr.
White, I am very sorry, but Mr. McKinley has been de-
layed and we have had to get another speaker.'' I was
greatly disappointed, and expressed my feelings somewhat
energetically, when the mayor said: ``But this speaker is
really splendid; he carries all before him; he is a thorough
Kentucky orator.'' My answer was that I knew the breed
but too well, and that if I had known that Mr. McKinley
was not to come I certainly would not have left my work
at the university. By this time we had arrived at the door
of the Globe Hotel, whence the speaker entered the carriage.
He was a tall, sturdy Kentuckian, and his appearance
and manner showed that he had passed a very convivial
day with the younger members of the committee
appointed to receive him.

His first words on entering the carriage were not very
reassuring. No sooner had I been introduced to him than
he asked where he could get a glass of brandy. ``For,''
said he, ``without a good drink just before I go on the
platform I can't make a speech.'' I attempted to quiet
him and to show him the difficulties in the case. I said:
``Colonel ----, you have been with our young men here
all day, and no doubt have had a fairly good time; but in
our meetings here there is just now need of especial care.
You will have in your audience to-night a large number of
the more sedate and conservative citizens of Syracuse,
church members, men active in the various temperance
societies, and the like. There never was a campaign when
men were in greater doubt; great numbers of these people
have not yet made up their minds how they will vote, and
the slightest exhilaration on your part may cost us
hundreds of votes.'' He answered: ``That's all very well, but
the simple fact is that I am here to make a speech, and I
can't make it unless I have a good drink beforehand.'' I
said nothing more, but, as he still pressed the subject on the
mayor and the other member of the committee, I quietly
said to them as I left the carriage: ``If that man drinks
anything more before speaking, I will not go on the stage
with him, and the reason why I don't will speedily be
made known.'' The mayor reassured me, and we all went
together into the large room adjoining the stage, I keeping
close watch over the orator, taking pains to hold him
steadily in conversation, introducing as many leading
men of the town to him as possible, thus preventing any
opportunity to carry out his purpose of taking more
strong drink, and to my great satisfaction he had no
opportunity to do so before we were summoned into the hall.

Arrived there, I made my speech, and then the orator of
the evening arose. But just before he began to speak
he filled from a water-pitcher a large glass, and drank
it off. My thought at the moment was that this would
dilute some of the stronger fluids he had absorbed during
the day and cool him down somewhat. He then
went on in a perfectly self-possessed way, betrayed not the
slightest effect of drinking, and made a most convincing
and effective speech, replete with wit and humor; yet,
embedded in his wit and humor and rollicking fun, were
arguments appealing to the best sentiments of his hearers. The
speech was in every way a success; at its close I congratulated
him upon it, and was about to remind him that he
had done very well on his glass of cold water, when he
suddenly said to me: ``Mr. White, you see that it was just
as I told you: if I had n't taken that big glass of gin from
the pitcher just before I started, I could not have made
any speech.''

``All 's well that ends well,'' and, though the laugh was
at my expense, the result was not such as to make me
especially unhappy.

But this campaign of 1884 ended as I had expected. Mr.
Cleveland was elected to the Presidency.


AND OTHERS--1884-1891

The following spring, visiting Washington, I met
President Cleveland again.

Of the favorable impression made upon me by his
career as Governor of New York I have already spoken,
and shall have occasion to speak presently of his
Presidency. The renewal of our acquaintance even increased
my respect for him. He was evidently a strong, honest
man, trying to do his duty under difficulties.

I also met again Mr. Cleveland's opponent in the previous
campaign--Mr. Blaine. Calling on Mr. William
Walter Phelps, then in Congress, whom I had known as
minister of the United States at Vienna, and who was
afterward my successor at Berlin, I made some reference
to Mr. Blaine, when Mr. Phelps said: ``Why don't
you go and call upon him?'' I answered that it might
be embarrassing to both of us, to which he replied: ``I
don't think so. In spite of your opposition to him
at Chicago, were I in your place I would certainly go
to his house and call upon him.'' That afternoon I
took this advice, and when I returned to the hotel Mr.
Blaine came with me, talking in a most interesting way.
He spoke of my proposed journey to Virginia, and discussed
Jefferson and Hamilton, admiring both, but Jefferson
the most. As to his own working habits, he said
that he rose early, did his main work in the morning, and
never did any work in the evening; that, having been
brought up in strongly Sabbatarian notions during his
boyhood in Pennsylvania, he had ever since, from the
force of habit, reserved Sunday as a day of complete rest.
Speaking of the customs in Pennsylvania at that time, he
said that not even a walk for exercise was allowed, and
nothing was ever cooked on the sacred day.

I met him afterward on various occasions, and could not
but admire him. At a dinner-party he was vexatiously
badgered by a very bumptious professor, who allowed
himself to speak in a rather offensive manner of ideas
which Mr. Blaine represented; and the quiet but decisive
way in which the latter disposed of his pestering
interlocutor was worthy of all praise.

Mr. Blaine was certainly the most fascinating man I
have ever known in politics. No wonder that so many
Republicans in all parts of the country seemed ready to
give their lives to elect him. The only other public man
in the United States whose personality had ever elicited
such sympathy and devotion was Henry Clay. Perhaps
his nearest friend was Mr. Phelps, to whom I have
referred above,--one of the best, truest, and most winning
men I have ever known. He had been especially
devoted to Mr. Blaine, with whom he had served in
Congress, and it was understood that if the latter had been
elected Mr. Phelps would have been his Secretary of State.

Mr. Phelps complained to me, half seriously, half
jocosely, of what is really a crying abuse in the United States
--namely, that there is no proper reporting of the
proceedings of the Houses of Congress in the main journals
of the country which can enable the people at large
to form any just idea as to how their representatives are
conducting the public business. He said: ``I may make
a most careful speech on any important subject before
Congress and it will not be mentioned in the New York
papers, but let me make a joke and it will be published all
over the United States. Yesterday, on a wager, I tried
an experiment: I made two poor little jokes during a short
talk in the House, and here they are in the New York
papers of this morning.''

During this visit to Washington I met at the house of
my classmate and dear friend, Randall Gibson, then a
senator from Louisiana, a number of distinguished men
among them the Vice-President, Mr. Hendricks, and General
Butler, senator from South Carolina.

Vice-President Hendricks seemed sick and sore. He
had expected to be a candidate for the Presidency, with
a strong probability of election, but had accepted the Vice-
Presidency; and the subject which seemed to elicit his
most vitriolic ill will was reform in the civil service. As we
sat one evening in the smoking-room at Senator Gibson's
he was very bitter against the system, when, to my surprise,
General Butler took up the cudgels against him and
made a most admirable argument. At that moment, for
the first time, I felt that the war between North and South
was over; for all the old issues seemed virtually settled,
and here, as regarded this new issue, on which I felt very
deeply, was one of the most ardent of Confederate soldiers,
a most bitter pro-slavery man before the Civil War,
one who, during the war, had lost a leg in battle, nearer
me politically than were many of my friends and neighbors
in the North.

Senator Jones of Florida, who was present, gave us
some character sketches, and among others delineated
admirably General Williams, known in the Mexican War
as ``Cerro Gordo Williams,'' who was for a time senator
from Kentucky. He said that Williams had a wonderful
gift of spread-eagle oratory, but that, finding no
listeners for it among his colleagues, he became utterly
disgusted and went about saying that the Senate was a
``d----d frigid, respectable body that chilled his intellect.''
This led my fellow-guests to discuss the characteristics of
the Senate somewhat, and I was struck by one remark in
which all agreed--namely, that ``there are no politics in
executive session.''

Gibson remarked that the best speech he had ever
heard in the Senate was made by John Sherman.

As regards civil-service matters, I found on all sides
an opinion that Mr. Cleveland was, just as far as possible,
basing his appointments upon merit. Gibson mentioned
the fact that a candidate for an important office in his
State, who had committed three murders, had secured
very strong backing, but that President Cleveland utterly
refused to appoint him.

With President Cleveland I had a very interesting
interview. He referred to his visit to Cornell University,
said that he would have liked nothing so well as to go
more thoroughly through its various departments, and, as
when I formerly saw him, expressed his regret at the loss
of such opportunities as an institution of that kind affords.

At this time I learned from him and from those near
him something regarding his power for hard work. It
was generally understood that he insisted on writing out
all important papers and conducting his correspondence
in his own hand, and the result was that during a
considerable period of the congressional sessions he sat at
his desk until three o'clock in the morning.

It was evident that his up-and-down, curt, independent
way did not at all please some of the leading members
of his party; in fact, there were signs of a serious
estrangement caused by the President's refusals to yield
to senators and other leaders of the party in the matter
of appointments to office. To illustrate this feeling, a
plain, bluff Western senator, Mr. Sawyer of Wisconsin,
told me a story.

Senator Sawyer had built up a fortune and gained a
great influence in his State by a very large and extensive
business in pine lumber, and he had a sort of rough,
quaint woodman's wit which was at times very amusing.
He told me that, some days before, two of his most eminent
Democratic colleagues in the Senate were just leaving the
Capitol, and from something they said he saw that they
were going to call upon the President. He therefore
asked them, ``How do you like this new President of
yours?'' ``Oh,'' answered the senators in chorus, ``he is
a very good man--a very good man indeed.'' ``Yes,''
said Senator Sawyer, ``but how do you LIKE him?'' ``Oh,''
answered the senators, ``we like him very much--very
much indeed.'' ``Well,'' said Sawyer, ``I will tell you a
story before you go to the White House if you will agree
when you get back, to tell me--`honest Injun'--whether it
suits your case.'' Both laughingly agreed, and Mr. Sawyer
then told them the following story: When he was a
young man with very small means, he and two or three
other young wood-choppers made up an expedition for
lumber-cutting. As they were too poor to employ a cook
for their camp, they agreed to draw lots, and that the
one on whom the lot fell should be cook, but only until
some one of the company found fault; then the fault-
finder should become cook in his turn. Lots being
drawn, one of them, much to his disgust, was thus chosen
cook, and toward the close of the day he returned to camp,
before the others, to get supper ready. Having taken
from the camp stores a large quantity of beans, he put
them into a pot boiling over the fire, as he had seen his
mother do in his boyhood, and then proceeded to pour in
salt. Unfortunately the salt-box slipped in his hand, and
he poured in much more than he had intended--in fact, the
whole contents of the box. On the return of the woodmen
to the cabin, ravenously hungry, they proceeded to dish
out the boiled beans, but the first one who put a spoonful
in his mouth instantly cried out with a loud objurgation,
``Thunder and lightning! this dish is all salt''; but, in a
moment, remembering that if he found fault he must himself
become cook, he said very gently, ``BUT I LIKE SALT.''
Both senators laughed and agreed that they would give
an honest report of their feelings to Senator Sawyer
when they had seen the President. On their return, Sawyer
met them and said, ``Well, honest Injun, how was it?''
They both laughed and said, ``Well, we like salt.''

Among many interesting experiences I recall especially
a dinner at the house of Mr. Fairchild, Secretary
of the Treasury. He spoke of the civil service, and said
that a short time previously President Cleveland had
said to him, regarding the crowd pressing for office: ``A
suggestion to these office-seekers as to the good of the
country would make them faint.''

During this dinner I happened to be seated between
Senators John Sherman of Ohio and Vance of Georgia,
and presently Mr. Vance--one of the jolliest mortals I
have ever met--turned toward his colleague, Senator Sherman,
and said, very blandly: ``Senator, I am glad to see
you back from Ohio; I hope you found your fences in
good condition.'' There was a general laugh, and when
it was finished Senator Sherman told me in a pleasant
way how the well-known joke about his ``looking after his
fences'' arose. He said that he was the owner of a large
farm in Ohio, and that some years previously his tenant
wrote urging him most earnestly to improve its fences,
so that finally he went to Ohio to look into the matter.
On arriving there, he found a great crowd awaiting
him and calling for a speech, when he excused himself
by saying that he had not come to Ohio on political
business, but had merely come ``to look after his fences.''
The phrase caught the popular fancy, and ``to look after
one's fences'' became synonymous with minding one's
political safeguards.

I remember also an interesting talk with Mr. Bayard,
who had been one of the most eminent senators in his time,
who was then Secretary of State, and who became, at a
later period, ambassador of the United States to Great
Britain. Speaking of office-seeking, he gave a comical
account of the developing claims of sundry applicants
for foreign missions, who, he said, ``are at first willing to
go, next anxious to go, and finally angry because they
cannot go.''

On another social occasion, the possibility of another
attempt at secession by States being discussed, General
Butler of South Carolina said: ``No more secession for
me.'' To this, Senator Gibson, who also had been a brigadier-
general in the Confederate service, and had seen
much hard fighting, said, ``And no more for me.'' Butler
rejoined, ``We may have to help in preventing others from
seceding one of these days.'' I was glad to note that both
Butler and Gibson spoke thoroughly well of their former
arch-enemy, General Grant.

Very interesting was it to meet again Mr. George
Bancroft. He referred to his long service as minister at
Berlin, expressed his surprise that Bismarck, whom he
remembered as fat, had become bony, and was very severe
against both clericals and liberals who had voted against
allowing aid to Bismarck in the time of his country's
greatest necessity.

I also met my Cornell colleague Goldwin Smith, the
former Oxford professor and historian, who expressed his
surprise and delight at the perfect order and decorum of
the crowd, numbering nearly five thousand persons, at the
presidential levee the night before. In order to understand
what an American crowd was like, instead of going
into the White House by the easier way, as he was entitled
by his invitation to do, he had taken his place in the long
procession far outside the gate and gradually moved
through the grounds into the presidential presence, taking
about an hour for the purpose. He said that there was
never any pressing, crowding, or impatience, and he
compared the crowd most favorably with any similar body in
a London street.

Chief Justice Waite I also found a very substantial
interesting man; but especially fascinating was General
Sheridan, who, at a dinner given by my Berlin predecessor,
Mr. Bancroft Davis, described the scene at the battle
of Gravelotte when, owing to a rush by the French, the
Emperor of Germany was for a time in real danger and
was reluctantly obliged to fall back. He said that during
the panic and retreat toward Thionville he saw the Emperor
halt from time to time to scold soldiers who threw
away their muskets; that very many German soldiers,
during this panic, cast aside everything except the clothes
they wore--not only their guns, but their helmets; that
afterward the highways and fields were strewn thickly
with these, and that wagons were sent out to collect them.
He also said that Bismarck spoke highly to him regarding
the martial and civil qualities of the crown prince,
afterward the Emperor Frederick, but that regarding
the Red Prince, Frederick Charles, he expressed a very
different opinion.

Speaking of a statement that some one had invented
armor which would ward off a rifle-ball, Sheridan said
that during the Civil War an officer who wore a steel vest
beneath his coat was driven out of decent society by
general contempt; and at this Goldwin Smith told a story of
the Duke of Wellington, who, when troubled by an inventor
of armor, nearly scared him to death by ordering
him to wear his own armor and allow a platoon of soldiers
to fire at him.

During the course of the conversation Sheridan said
that soldiers were braver now than ever before--braver,
indeed, than the crusaders, as was proved by the fact
that in these days they wear no armor. To this Goldwin
Smith answered that he thought war in the middle ages
was more destructive than even in our time. Sheridan
said that breech-loading rifles kill more than all the

At a breakfast given by Goldwin Smith at Wormley's,
Bancroft, speaking of Berlin matters, said that the Emperor
William did not know that Germany was the second
power in the world so far as a mercantile navy was
concerned until he himself told him; and on the ignorance
of monarchs regarding their own domains, Goldwin
Smith said that Lord Malmesbury, when assured by Napoleon
III that in the plebiscite he would have the vote of
the army, which was five hundred thousand, answered,
``But, your majesty, your army numbers seven hundred
thousand,'' whereupon the Emperor was silent. The in-
ference was that his majesty knew a large part of his
army to be merely on paper.

At this Mr. John Field, of Philadelphia, said that on
the breaking out of the Franco-Prussian War he went to
General Grant at Long Branch, and asked him how the
war was likely to turn out, to which the general answered,
``As I am President of the United States, I am unable to
answer.'' ``But,'' said Field, ``I am a citizen sovereign
and ask an opinion.'' ``Well,'' said General Grant,
``confidentially, the Germans will beat the French thoroughly
and march on Paris. The French army is a mere shell.''
This reminded me that General Grant, on my own visit
to him some weeks before, had foretold to me sundry
difficulties of Lord Wolseley in Egypt just as they afterward

At a dinner with Senator Morrill of Vermont I met
General Schenck, formerly a leading member of Congress
and minister to Brazil and to England. He was very
interesting in his sketches of English orators; thought
Bright the best, Gladstone admirable, and Sir Stafford
Northcote, with his everlasting hawing and humming,
intolerable. He gave interesting reminiscences of Tom
Corwin, his old preceptor, and said that Corwin's power
over an audience was magical. He added that he once
attended a public dinner in Boston, and, sitting near
Everett, who was the chief speaker, noticed that when the
waiters sought to clear the table and were about to remove
a bouquet containing two small flags, Everett would not
allow them to do it, and that later in the evening, during
his speech, just at the proper point, he caught up these
flags, as if accidentally, and waved them. He said that
everything with Everett and Choate seemed to be cut and
dried; that even the interruptions seemed prepared beforehand.

Senator Morrill then told a story regarding Everett's
great speech at the opening of the Dudley Observatory
at Albany, which I had heard at the time of its delivery.
In this speech Everett said: ``Last night, crossing the
Connecticut River, I saw mirrored in its waters Arcturus,
then fully at the zenith, and I thought,'' etc., etc.; ``but,''
said Morrill, ``some one looked into the matter and found
that Everett, before leaving home, had evidently turned
the globe in his study wrong side up, for at that time
Arcturus was not at the zenith, but at the nadir.''

At the Cornell commencement of this year (1885) I
resigned my presidency of the university. It had
nominally lasted eighteen years, but really more than twenty,
since I had taken the lead in the work of the university
even before its charter was granted, twenty years previously,
and from that day the main charge of its organization
and of everything except providing funds had been
intrusted to me. Regarding this part of my life I shall
speak more fully in another chapter.

Shortly after this resignation two opportunities were
offered me which caused me considerable thought.

As to the first, President Cleveland was kind enough
to write me an autograph letter asking whether I would
accept one of the positions on the new Interstate Railway
Commission. I felt it a great honor to be asked to act as
colleague with such men as Chief Justice Cooley, Mr.
Morrison, and others already upon that board, but I
recognized my own incompetence to discharge the duties of
such a position properly. Though I had been, some years
before, a director in two of the largest railway corporations
in the United States, my heart was never in that
duty, and I never prepared myself to discharge it.
Thinking the matter over fully, I felt obliged to decline
the place. My heart was set on finishing the book which
I had so long wished to publish,--my ``History of the
Warfare of Science with Theology,''--and in order to
cut myself off from other work and get some needed
rest I sailed for Europe on October 3, 1885, but while
engaged most delightfully in visits to Oxford,
Cambridge, and various places on the Continent, I received
by cable an offer which had also a very tempting side.
It was sent by my old friend Mr. Henry Sage of Ithaca,
urged me to accept the nomination to Congress from that
district, and assured me that the nomination was equivalent
to an election. There were some reasons why such a
position was attractive to me, but the more I thought of
it the more it seemed to me that to discharge these duties
properly would take me from other work to which I was
pledged. Before deciding the question, however, I determined
to consult two old friends who were then living in
London hotels adjacent to my own. The first of these was
my dear old instructor, with whom my relations had been
of the kindest ever since my first year at Yale--President

On my laying the matter before him, he said, ``Accept
by all means''; but as I showed him the reasons on both
sides, he at last reluctantly agreed with me that probably
it was best to send a declination.

The other person consulted was Mr. James Belden of
Syracuse, afterward a member of Congress from the
Onondaga district, a politician who had a most intimate
knowledge of men and affairs in our State. We had been
during a long period, political adversaries, but I had
come to respect sundry qualities he had more lately
exhibited, and therefore went to him as a practical man
and laid the case before him. He expressed his great
surprise that I should advise with him, my old political
adversary, but he said, ``Since you do come, I will give
you the very best advice I can.''

We then went over the case together, and I feel sure
that he advised me as well as the oldest of my friends
could have done, and with a shrewdness and foresight
all his own.

One of his arguments ran somewhat as follows: ``To
be successful in politics a man must really think of
nothing else; it must be his first thought in the morning and
his last at night; everything else must yield to it. Heretofore
you have quietly gone on your way, sought nothing,
and taken what has been freely tendered you in the interest
of the party and of the public. I know the Elmira
district, and you can have the nomination and the election
without trouble; but the question is whether you could
ever be happy in the sort of work which you must do in
order to take a proper place in the House of Representatives.
First of all, you must give up everything else and
devote yourself to that alone; and even then, when you
have succeeded, you have only to look about you and see
the men who have achieved success in that way, and who,
after all, have found in it nothing but disappointment.''
In saying this he expressed the conclusion at which I had
already arrived.

I cabled my absolute declination of the nomination, and
was reproved by my friends for not availing myself of
this opportunity to take part in political affairs, but have
nevertheless always felt that my decision was wise.

To tell the truth, I never had, and never desired to
have, any capacity for the rough-and-tumble of politics.
I greatly respect many of the men who have gifts of
that sort, but have recognized the fact that my influence
in and on politics must be of a different kind. I have
indeed taken part in some stormy scenes in conventions,
meetings, and legislatures, but always with regret. My
true rle has been a more quiet one. My ambition,
whether I have succeeded in it or not, has been to set
young men in trains of fruitful thought, to bring mature
men into the line of right reason, and to aid in devising
and urging needed reforms, in developing and supporting
wise policies, and in building up institutions which shall
strengthen what is best in American life.

Early in 1891 I was asked by Mr. Sherman Rogers
of Buffalo, one of the best and truest men in political
life that I have ever known, to accompany him and
certain other gentlemen to Washington, in order to
present to Mr. Harrison, who had now become President of
the United States, an argument for the extension of the
civil-service rules. Accompanied by Mr. Theodore
Roosevelt and Senator Cabot Lodge, our delegation reached
the Executive Mansion at the time fixed by the President,
and were received in a way which surprised me. Mr.
Harrison seemed, to say the least, not in good humor. He
stood leaning on the corner of his desk, and he asked none
of us to sit. All of us had voted for him, and had come
to him in his own interest as well as in the interest of the
country; but he seemed to like us none the better for all
that. The first speech was made by Mr. Rogers. Dwelling
on the disappointment of thoughtful Republicans
throughout the country at the delay in redeeming pledges
made by the Republican National Convention as to the
extension of the civil service, and reiterated in the
President's own speeches in the United States Senate, he in a
playful way referred to the conduct of certain officials in
Buffalo, when the President interrupted him, as it seemed
to me at the time very brusquely and even rudely
saying: ``Mr. Rogers, you have no right to impute evil
motives to any man. The motives of these gentlemen to
whom you refer are presumably as good as your own. An
argument based upon such imputations cannot advance the
cause you support in the slightest degree.'' Mr. Rogers
was somewhat disconcerted for a moment, but, having
resumed his speech, he presented, in a very dignified and
convincing way, the remainder of his argument. He was
followed by the other members from various States, giving
different sides of the case, each showing the importance
which Republicans in his own part of the country
attributed to an extension of the civil-service rules.

My own turn came last. I said: ``Mr. President: I will
make no speech, but will simply state two facts.

``First: Down to a comparatively recent period every
high school, college, and university in the Northern States
has been a center of Republican ideas: no one will gainsay
this for a moment. But recently there has come a change.
During nearly twenty years it has been my duty to nominate
to the trustees of Cornell University candidates for
various positions in its faculty; the fundamental charter
of the institution absolutely forbids any consideration, in
such cases, of the party or sect to which any candidate
belongs, and I have always faithfully carried out that
injunction, never, in any one of the multitude of nominations
that I have made, allowing the question of politics to
enter in the slightest degree. But still it has happened that,
almost without exception, the candidates have proved to be
Republicans, and this to such an extent that at times I have
regretted it; for the university has been obliged frequently
to ask for legislation from a Democratic legislature,
and I have always feared that this large preponderance
of Republican professors would be brought up
against us as an evidence that we were not true to the
principles of our charter. As a matter of fact, down to
two or three years since, there were, as I casually learned,
out of a faculty of about fifty members, not over eight
or ten Democrats. But during these recent years all this
has been changed, and at the State election, when Judge
Folger was defeated for the governorship, I found to my
surprise that, almost without exception, my colleagues in
the faculty had voted the Democratic ticket; so far as I
could learn, but three besides myself had voted for the
Republican candidate.'' President Harrison immediately
said: ``Mr. White, was that not chiefly due to the free-
trade tendencies of college-men?'' I answered: ``No, Mr.
President; the great majority of these men who voted
with the Democrats were protectionists, and you will
yourself see that they must have been so if they had
continued to vote for the Republican ticket down to that
election. All that I hear leads me to the conviction
that the real cause is disappointment at the delay of the
Republican party in making good its promises to improve
the public service. In this question the faculties of our
colleges and universities, especially in the Eastern, Middle,
and Northern States, take a deep interest. In fact, it
is with them the question of all questions; and I think
this is one of the things which, at that election in New
York, caused the most overwhelming defeat that a candidate
for governor had ever experienced.'' To this the
President listened attentively, and I then said: ``Mr.
President, my second point is this: The State of New
York is, of course, of immense importance to the Republican
party, and it has been carried in recent years by a
majority of a few hundred votes. There are more than
fourteen thousand school districts in the State, and in
nearly every one of these school districts there are a
certain number of earnest men--anywhere from a handful
to a houseful--who believe that since the slavery question
is removed from national politics, the only burning
question which remains is the `spoils system' and the
reform of the civil service. Now, you have only to multiply
the fourteen thousand school districts by a very
small figure, and you will see the importance of this question
as regards the vote of the State of New York. I know
whereof I speak, for I have myself addressed meetings
in many of these districts in favor of a reform of the civil
service, have had correspondence with other districts in
all parts of the State, and am sure that there is a deep-
seated feeling on the subject in great numbers of them,--
a feeling akin to what used to be called in the anti-slavery
days `fanaticism,'--that is, a deep-seated conviction that
this is now the most important question before the American
people, and that it must be settled in precedence
to all others.''

The President received what I had to say courteously,
and then began a reply to us all. He took at first rather
a bitter tone, saying that he had a right to find fault
with all of us; that the Civil Service League had
denounced his administration most unjustly for its relation
to the spoils system; that he was moving as rapidly in the
matter as circumstances permitted; that he was anxious
to redeem the promises made by the party and by himself;
that he had already done something and purposed to do
more; and that the glorifications of the progress made by
the previous administration in this respect, at the expense
of his own, had been grossly unjust.

To this we made a short rejoinder on one point, stating
that his complaint against us was without foundation;
that not one of us was a member of the Civil Service
League; that not one of us had taken any part in its
deliberations; and that we could not, therefore, be made
responsible in any way for its utterances. The President
now became somewhat more genial, though he did not
ask us to be seated, alluding in a pungent but good-natured
way to the zeal for reform shown by Mr. Roosevelt,
who was standing by, and closing in considerably better
humor than he had begun. Although I cannot say that I
was greatly pleased with his treatment of the committee,
I remembered that, although courtesy was not generally
considered his strong point, he was known to possess
many sterling qualities, and I felt bound to allow that his
speech revealed a man of strength and honest purpose.
All of us, even Mr. Roosevelt and Senator Lodge, came
away believing that good had been done, and that the
President, before his term of office had expired, would do
what he could in the right direction; and I am glad to say
that this expectation was fulfilled.



During the summer of 1891 came a curious episode in
my life, to which, as it was considerably discussed in
the newspapers at the time, and as various sensational
news-makers have dwelt upon it since, I may be permitted
to refer. During several years before,--in fact, ever since
my two terms in the State Senate,--various people, and
especially my old Cornell students throughout the State,
had written to me and published articles in my behalf
as a candidate for governor. I had never encouraged
these, and whenever I referred to them deprecated
them, since I preferred a very different line of life,
and felt that the grapple with spoilsmen which every
governor must make would wear me out very rapidly.
But the election which was that year approaching was felt
to be very important, and old friends from various
parts of the State thought that, in the severe contest
which was expected, I stood a better chance of election
than any other who could be named at that particular
time, their theory being that the German vote of the State
would come to me, and that it would probably come to no
other Republican.

The reason for this theory was that I had received part
of my education in Germany; had shown especial interest
in German history and literature, lecturing upon them at
the University of Michigan and at Cornell; had resided in
Berlin as minister; had, on my return, delivered in New
York and elsewhere an address on the ``New Germany,''
wherein were shown some points in German life which
Americans might study to advantage; had also delivered
an address on the ``Contributions of Germany to American
Civilization''; and had, at various times, formed pleasant
relations with leading Germans of both parties. The fact
was perfectly well known, also, that I was opposed to the
sumptuary laws which had so largely driven Germans out
of the Republican party, and had declared that these were
not only unjust to those immediately affected by them, but
injurious to the very interests of temperance, which they
were designed to promote.

I was passing the summer at Magnolia, on the east
coast of Massachusetts, when an old friend, the son of
an eminent German-American, came from New York and
asked me to become a candidate for the governorship.
I was very reluctant, for special as well as general
reasons. My first wish was to devote myself wholly to
certain long-deferred historical work; my health was not
strong; I felt utterly unfitted for the duties of the
campaign, and the position of governor, highly honorable as
it is, presented no especial attractions to me, my ambition
not being in that line. Therefore it was that at first I
urged my friends to combine upon some other person;
but as they came back and insisted that they could
agree on no one else, and that I could bring to the
support of the party men who would otherwise oppose it,
I reluctantly agreed to discuss the subject with some of
the leading Republicans in New York, and among them
Mr. Thomas C. Platt, who was at the head of the organized
management of the party.

In our two or three conversations Mr. Platt impressed
me curiously. I had known him slightly for many years;
indeed, we had belonged to the same class at Yale, but as
he had left it and I had entered it at the beginning of the
sophomore year we did not know each other at that period.
We had met occasionally when we were both supporting
Mr. Conkling, but had broken from each other at the time
when he was supporting Mr. Blaine, and I, Mr. Edmunds,
for the nomination at Chicago. Our discussion now took
a form which somewhat surprised me. The general belief
throughout the State was, I think, that Mr. Platt's
first question, or, at any rate, his main question, in any such
discussion, would be, necessarily, as to the attitude of the
candidate toward Mr. Platt's own interests and aspirations.
But I feel bound to say that in the discussions between
us no such questions were ever asked, approached,
or even hinted at. Mr. Platt never asked me a question
regarding my attitude toward him or toward his friends;
he never even hinted at my making any pledge or promise
to do anything or not to do anything with reference to
his own interests or to those of any other person; his
whole effort was directed to finding what strength my
nomination would attract to the party and what it would
repel. He had been informed regarding one or two
unpopular votes of mine when I was in the State Senate--as
for example, that I had opposed the efforts of a powerful
sectarian organization to secure the gift of certain
valuable landed property from the city of New York; he had
also been informed regarding certain review and magazine
articles in which I had spoken my mind somewhat
freely against certain influences in the State which were
still powerful, and it had been hinted to him that my
``Warfare of Science'' chapters might have alienated a
considerable number of the more narrow-minded clergymen
and their flocks.

I told Mr. Platt frankly that these fears seemed quite
likely to be well founded, and that there were some other
difficulties which I could myself suggest to him: that I had
in the course of my life, made many opponents in supporting
Cornell University, and in expressing my mind
on various questions, political and religious, and that
these seemed to me likely to cost the party very many
votes. I therefore suggested that he consult certain
persons in various parts of the State who were entitled to
have an opinion, and especially two men of the highest
judgment in such matters--Chief Justice Andrews of
Syracuse, and Carroll Earl Smith, editor of the leading
Republican journal in central New York. The result was
that telegrams and letters were exchanged, these gentlemen
declaring their decided opinion that the matters referred
to were bygones, and could not be resuscitated in
the coming contest; that they would be lost sight of in the
real questions sure to arise; and that even in the election
immediately following the vote which I had cast against
giving a large tract of Ward's Island to a Roman Catholic
institution, I had lost no votes, but had held my own with
the other candidates, and even gained upon some of them.

Mr. Platt also discussed my relations to the Germans
and to the graduates of Cornell University who were scattered
all over the State; and as these, without exception,
so far as could be learned, were my warm personal
friends, it was felt by those who had presented my name,
and finally, I think, by Mr. Platt, that these two elements
in my support might prove valuable.

Still, in spite of this, I advised steadily against my own
nomination, and asked Mr. Platt: ``Why don't you support
your friend Senator Fassett of Elmira? He is a
young man; he has very decided abilities; he is popular;
his course in the legislature has been admirable; you have
made him collector of the port of New York, and he is
known to be worthy of the place. Why don't you ask
him?'' Mr. Platt's frankness in reply increased my
respect for him. He said: ``I need not confess to you that,
personally, I would prefer Mr. Fassett to yourself; but if
he were a candidate he would have to carry the entire
weight of my unpopularity.''

Mr. Platt was from first to last perfectly straightforward.
He owed me nothing, for I had steadily voted
against him and his candidate in the National Convention
at Chicago. He had made no pledges to me, for I had
allowed him to make none--even if he had been disposed
to do so; moreover, many of my ideas were opposed to his
own. I think the heaviest piece of work I ever undertook
was when, some months before, I had endeavored to convert
him to the civil-service-reform forces; but while I had
succeeded in converting a good many others, he remained
intractable, and on that subject we were at opposite poles.

It therefore seems to me altogether to his credit that,
in spite of this personal and theoretical antagonism
between us, and in spite of the fact that I had made, and he
knew that I would make, no pledges or promises whatever
to him in view of an election, he had favored my
nomination solely as the best chance of obtaining a
Republican victory in the State; and I will again say that I
do not believe that his own personal advantage entered
into his thoughts on this occasion. His pride and his
really sincere devotion to the interests of the Republican
party, as he understood them, led him to desire, above all
things, a triumph over the Democratic forces, and the
only question in his mind was, Who could best secure the

At the close of these conferences he was evidently in my
favor, but on leaving the city I said to him: ``Do not
consider yourself as in any way pledged to my support. Go
to the convention at Rochester, and decide what is best
after you get there. I have no desire for the nomination--
in fact, would prefer that some one else bear the burden
and heat of the day. I have been long out of touch with
the party managers in the State. I don't feel that they
would support me as they would support some man like
Mr. Fassett, whom they know and like personally, and I
shall not consider you as pledged to me in the slightest
degree. I don't ask it; I don't wish it; in fact, I prefer
the contrary. Go to Rochester, be guided by circumstances,
and decide as you see fit.''

In the meantime various things seemed to strengthen
my candidacy. Leading Germans who had been for some
time voting with the Democratic party pledged themselves
to my support if I were nominated, and one of them could
bring over to my side one of the most powerful Democratic
journals in the State; in fact, there were pledged
to my support two leading journals which, as matters
turned out afterward, opposed the Republican nomination.

At the convention which met shortly afterward at
Rochester (September, 1891), things went as I had
anticipated, and indeed as I had preferred. Mr. Platt found
the elements supporting Mr. Fassett even stronger than
he had expected. The undercurrent was too powerful for
him, and he was obliged to yield to it.

Of course sundry newspapers screamed that he had
deceived and defeated me. I again do him the justice to say
that this was utterly untrue. I am convinced that he went
to Rochester believing my candidacy best for the party;
that he really did what he could in my favor, but that he
found, what I had foretold, that Mr. Fassett, young,
energetic, known, and liked by the active political men in
various parts of the State, naturally wished to lead the
forces and was naturally the choice of the convention--a
choice which it was not within Mr. Platt's power to change.

Mr. Fassett was nominated, and I do not know that I
have ever received a message which gave me a greater
sense of relief than the telegram which announced this fact
to me.

Book of the day: