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  • 1919
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“I did not think I could afford to have you lose on my suggestion and I went to cover your loss, when I found five thousand shares of Texas Pacific transferred on the books of the company in your name. I knew these could not be yours. I thought the buyer was none other than the man I was after, and I began hammering the stock. I have been curious ever since to make sure whether I was right.”

“Whom did you suspect, Mr. Gould?” I asked.

“My suspect was Victor Newcomb,” he replied.

I then told him what had happened. “Dear, dear,” he cried. “Ned Green! Big Green. Well, well! You do surprise me. I would rather have done him a favor than an injury. I am rejoiced to learn that no harm was done and that, after all, you and he came out ahead.”

It was about this time Jay Gould had bought of the Thomas A. Scott estate a New York daily newspaper which, in spite of brilliant writers like Manton Marble and William Henry Hurlbut, had never been a moneymaker. This was the _World_. He offered me the editorship with forty-nine of the hundred shares of stock on very easy terms, which nowise tempted me. But two or three years after, I daresay both weary and hopeless of putting up so much money on an unyielding investment, he was willing to sell outright, and Joseph Pulitzer became the purchaser.

His career is another illustration of the saying that truth is stranger than fiction.

II

Joseph Pulitzer and I came together familiarly at the Liberal Republican Convention, which met at Cincinnati in 1872–the convocation of cranks, as it was called–and nominated Horace Greeley for President. He was a delegate from Missouri. Subsequent events threw us much together. He began his English newspaper experience after a kind of apprenticeship on a German daily with Stilson Hutchins, another interesting character of those days. It was from Stilson Hutchins that I learned something of Pulitzer’s origin and beginnings, for he never spoke much of himself.

According to this story he was the offspring of a runaway marriage between a subaltern officer in the Austrian service and a Hungarian lady of noble birth. In some way he had got across the Atlantic, and being in Boston, a wizened youth not speaking a word of English, he was spirited on board a warship. Watching his chance of escape he leaped overboard in the darkness of night, though it was the dead of winter, and swam ashore. He was found unconscious on the beach by some charitable persons, who cared for him. Thence he tramped it to St. Louis, where he heard there was a German colony, and found work on a coal barge.

It was here that the journalistic instinct dawned upon him. He began to carry river news items to the Westliche Post, which presently took him on its staff of regular reporters.

The rest was easy. He learned to speak and write English, was transferred to the paper of which Hutchins was the head, and before he was five-and-twenty became a local figure.

When he turned up in New York with an offer to purchase the World we met as old friends. During the interval between 1872 and 1883 we had had a runabout in Europe and I was able to render him assistance in the purchase proceeding he was having with Gould. When this was completed he said to me: “You are at entire leisure; you are worse than that, you are wasting your time about the clubs and watering places, doing no good for yourself, or anybody else. I must first devote myself to the reorganization of the business end of it. Here is a blank check. Fill it for whatever amount you please and it will be honored. I want you to go upstairs and organize my editorial force for me.”

Indignantly I replied: “Go to the devil–you have not money enough–there is not money enough in the universe–to buy an hour of my season’s loaf.”

A year later I found him occupying with his family a splendid mansion up the Hudson, with a great stable of carriages and horses, living like a country gentleman, going to the World office about time for luncheon and coming away in the early afternoon. I passed a week-end with him. To me it seemed the precursor of ruin. His second payment was yet to be made. Had I been in his place I would have been taking my meals in an adjacent hotel, sleeping on a cot in one of the editorial rooms and working fifteen hours out of the twenty-four. To me it seemed dollars to doughnuts that he would break down and go to smash. But he did not–another case of destiny.

I was abiding with my family at Monte Carlo, when in his floating palace, the Liberty, he came into the harbor of Mentone. Then he bought a shore palace at Cap Martin. That season, and the next two or three seasons, we made voyages together from one end to the other of the Mediterranean, visiting the islands, especially Corsica and Elba, shrines of Napoleon whom he greatly admired.

He was a model host. He had surrounded himself with every luxury, including some agreeable retainers, and lived like a prince aboard. His blindness had already overtaken him. Other physical ailments assailed him. But no word of complaint escaped his lips and he rarely failed to sit at the head of his table. It was both splendid and pitiful.

Absolute authority made Pulitzer a tyrant. He regarded his newspaper ownership as an autocracy. There was nothing gentle in his domination, nor, I might say, generous either. He seriously lacked the sense of humor, and even among his familiars could never take a joke. His love of money was by no means inordinate. He spent it freely though not wastefully or joyously, for the possession of it rather flattered his vanity than made occasion for pleasure. Ability of varying kinds and degrees he had, a veritable genius for journalism and a real capacity for affection. He held his friends at good account and liked to have them about him. During the early days of his success he was disposed to overindulgence, not to say conviviality. He was fond of Rhine wines and an excellent judge of them, keeping a varied assortment always at hand. Once, upon the Liberty, he observed that I preferred a certain vintage. “You like this wine?” he said inquiringly. I assented, and he said, “I have a lot of it at home, and when I get back I will send you some.” I had quite forgotten when, many months after, there came to me a crate containing enough to last me a life-time.

He had a retentive memory and rarely forgot anything. I could recall many pleasurable incidents of our prolonged and varied intimacy. We were one day wandering about the Montmartre region of Paris when we came into a hole-in-the-wall where they were playing a piece called “Les Brigands.” It was melodrama to the very marrow of the bones of the Apaches that gathered and glared about. In those days, the “indemnity” paid and the “military occupation” withdrawn, everything French pre-figured hatred of the German, and be sure “Les Brigands” made the most of this; each “brigand” a beer-guzzling Teuton; each hero a dare-devil Gaul; and, when Joan the Maid, heroine, sent Goetz von Berlichingen, the Vandal Chieftain, sprawling in the saw-dust, there was no end to the enthusiasm.

“We are all ‘brigands’,” said Pulitzer as we came away, “differing according to individual character, to race and pursuit. Now, if I were writing that play, I should represent the villain as a tyrannous City Editor, meanly executing the orders of a niggardly proprietor.”

“And the heroine?” I said.

“She should be a beautiful and rich young lady,” he replied, “who buys the newspaper and marries the cub–rescuing genius from poverty and persecution.”

He was not then the owner of the World. He had not created the Post-Dispatch, or even met the beautiful woman who became his wife. He was a youngster of five or six and twenty, revisiting the scenes of his boyhood on the beautiful blue Danube, and taking in Paris for a lark.

III

I first met General Grant in my own house. I had often been invited to his house. As far back as 1870 John Russell Young, a friend from boyhood, came with an invitation to pass the week-end as the President’s guest at Long Branch. Many of my friends had cottages there. Of afternoons and evenings they played an infinitesimal game of draw poker.

“John,” my answer was, “I don’t dare to do so. I know that I shall fall in love with General Grant. We are living in rough times–particularly in rough party times. We have a rough presidential campaign ahead of us. If I go down to the seashore and go in swimming and play penny-ante with General Grant I shall not be able to do my duty.”

It was thus that after the general had gone out of office and made the famous journey round the world, and had come to visit relatives in Kentucky, that he accepted a dinner invitation from me, and I had a number of his friends to meet him.

Among these were Dr. Richardson, his early schoolmaster when the Grant family lived at Maysville, and Walter Haldeman, my business partner, a Maysville boy, who had been his schoolmate at the Richardson Academy, and General Cerro Gordo Williams, then one of Kentucky’s Senators in Congress, and erst his comrade and chum when both were lieutenants in the Mexican War. The bars were down, the windows were shut and there was no end of hearty hilarity. Dr. Richardson had been mentioned by Mr. Haldeman as “the only man that ever licked Grant,” and the general promptly retorted “he never licked me,” when the good old doctor said, “No, Ulysses, I never did–nor Walter, either–for you two were the best boys in school.”

I said “General Grant, why not give up this beastly politics, buy a blue-grass farm, and settle down to horse-raising and tobacco growing in Kentucky?” And, quick as a flash–for both he and the company perceived that it was “a leading question”–he replied, “Before I can buy a farm in Kentucky I shall have to sell a farm in Missouri,” which left nothing further to be said.

There was some sparring between him and General Williams over their youthful adventures. Finally General Williams, one of the readiest and most amusing of talkers, returned one of General Grant’s sallies with, “Anyhow, I know of a man whose life you took unknown to yourself.” Then he told of a race he and Grant had outside of Galapa in 1846. “Don’t you remember,” he said, “that riding ahead of me you came upon a Mexican loaded with a lot of milk cans piled above his head and that you knocked him over as you swept by him?”

“Yes,” said Grant, “I believed if I stopped or questioned or even deflected it would lose me the race. I have not thought of it since. But now that you mention it I recall it distinctly.”

“Well,” Williams continued, “you killed him. Your horse’s hoof struck him. When, seeing I was beaten, I rode back, his head was split wide open. I did not tell you at the time because I knew it would cause you pain, and a dead greaser more or less made no difference.”

Later on General Grant took desk room in Victor Newcomb’s private office in New York. There I saw much of him, and we became good friends. He was the most interesting of men. Soldierlike–monosyllabic–in his official and business dealings he threw aside all formality and reserve in his social intercourse, delightfully reminiscential, indeed a capital story teller. I do not wonder that he had constant and disinterested friends who loved him sincerely.

IV

It has always been my opinion that if Chester A. Arthur had been named by the Republicans as their candidate in 1884 they would have carried the election, spite of what Mr. Blaine, who defeated Arthur in the convention, had said and thought about the nomination of General Sherman. Arthur, like Grant, belonged to the category of lovable men in public life.

There was a gallant captain in the army who had slapped his colonel in the face on parade. Morally, as man to man, he had the right of it. But military law is inexorable. The verdict was dismissal from the service. I went with the poor fellow’s wife and her sister to see General Hancock at Governor’s Island. It was a most affecting meeting–the general, tears rolling down his cheeks, taking them into his arms, and, when he could speak, saying: “I can do nothing but hold up the action of the court till Monday. Your recourse is the President and a pardon; I will recommend it, but”–putting his hand upon my shoulder–“here is the man to get the pardon if the President can be brought to see the case as most of us see it.”

At once I went over to Washington, taking Stephen French with me. When we entered the President’s apartment in the White House he advanced smiling to greet us, saying: “I know what you boys are after; you mean–“

“Yes, Mr. President,” I answered, “we do, and if ever–“

“I have thought over it, sworn over it, and prayed over it,” he said, “and I am going to pardon him!”

V

Another illustrative incident happened during the Arthur Administration. The dismissal of Gen. Fitz-John Porter from the army had been the subject of more or less acrimonious controversy. During nearly two decades this had raged in army circles. At length the friends of Porter, led by Curtin and Slocum, succeeded in passing a relief measure through Congress. They were in ecstasies. That there might be a presidential objection had not crossed their minds.

Senator McDonald, of Indiana, a near friend of General Porter, and a man of rare worldly wisdom, knew better. Without consulting them he came to me.

“You are personally close to the President,” said he, “and you must know that if this bill gets to the White House he will veto it. With the Republican National Convention directly ahead he is bound to veto it. It must not be allowed to get to him; and you are the man to stop it. They will listen to you and will not listen to me.”

First of all, I went to the White House.

“Mr. President,” I said, “I want you to authorize me to tell Curtin and Slocum not to send the Fitz-John Porter bill to you.”

“Why?” he answered.

“Because,” said I, “you will have to veto it; and, with the Frelinghuysens wild for it, as well as others of your nearest friends, I am sure you don’t want to be obliged to do that. With your word to me I can stop it, and have it for the present at least held up.”

His answer was, “Go ahead.”

Then I went to the Capitol. Curtin and Slocum were in a state of mind. It was hard to make them understand or believe what I told them.

“Now, gentlemen,” I continued, “I don’t mean to argue the case. It is not debatable. I am just from the White House, and I am authorized by the President to say that if you send this bill to him he will veto it.”

That, of course, settled it. They held it up. But after the presidential election it reached Arthur, and he did veto it. Not till Cleveland came in did Porter obtain his restoration.

Curiously enough General Grant approved this. I had listened to the debate in the House–especially the masterly speech of William Walter Phelps–without attaining a clear understanding of the many points at issue. I said as much to General Grant.

“Why,” he replied, “the case is as simple as A, B, C. Let me show you.”

Then, with a pencil he traced the Second Bull Run battlefield, the location of troops, both Federal and Confederate, and the exact passage in the action which had compromised General Porter.

“If Porter had done what he was ordered to do,” he went on, “Pope and his army would have been annihilated. In point of fact Porter saved Pope’s Army.” Then he paused and added: “I did not at the outset know this. I was for a time of a different opinion and on the other side. It was Longstreet’s testimony–which had not been before the first Court of Inquiry that convicted Porter–which vindicated him and convinced me.”

Chapter the Tenth

Of Liars and Lying–Woman Suffrage and Feminism–The Professional Female–Parties, Politics, and Politicians in America

I

All is fair in love and war, the saying hath it. “Lord!” cried the most delightful of liars, “How this world is given to lying.” Yea, and how exigency quickens invention and promotes deceit.

Just after the war of sections I was riding in a train with Samuel Bowles, who took a great interest in things Southern. He had been impressed by a newspaper known as The Chattanooga Rebel and, as I had been its editor, put innumerable questions to me about it and its affairs. Among these he asked how great had been its circulation. Without explaining that often an entire company, in some cases an entire regiment, subscribed for a few copies, or a single copy, I answered: “I don’t know precisely, but somewhere near a hundred thousand, I take it.” Then he said: “Where did you get your press power?”

This was, of course, a poser, but it did not embarrass me in the least. I was committed, and without a moment’s thought I proceeded with an imaginary explanation which he afterward declared had been altogether satisfying. The story was too good to keep–maybe conscience pricked–and in a chummy talk later along I laughingly confessed.

“You should tell that in your dinner speech tonight,” he said. “If you tell it as you have just told it to me, it will make a hit,” and I did.

I give it as the opinion of a long life of experience and observation that the newspaper press, whatever its delinquencies, is not a common liar, but the most habitual of truth tellers. It is growing on its editorial page I fear a little vapid and colorless. But there is a general and ever-present purpose to print the facts and give the public the opportunity to reach its own conclusions.

There are liars and liars, lying and lying. It is, with a single exception, the most universal and venial of human frailties. We have at least three kinds of lying and species, or types, of liars–first, the common, ordinary, everyday liar, who lies without rime or reason, rule or compass, aim, intent or interest, in whose mind the partition between truth and falsehood has fallen down; then the sensational, imaginative liar, who has a tale to tell; and, finally, the mean, malicious liar, who would injure his neighbor.

This last is, indeed, but rare. Human nature is at its base amicable, because if nothing hinders it wants to please. All of us, however, are more or less its unconscious victims.

Competition is not alone the life of trade; it is the life of life; for each of us is in one way, or another, competitive. There is but one disinterested person in the world, the mother who whether of the human or animal kingdom, will die for her young. Yet, after all, hers, too, is a kind of selfishness.

The woman is becoming over much a professional female. It is of importance that we begin to consider her as a new species, having enjoyed her beauty long enough. Is the world on the way to organic revolution? If I were a young man I should not care to be the lover of a professional female. As an old man I have affectionate relations with a number of suffragettes, as they dare not deny; that is to say, I long ago accepted woman suffrage as inevitable, whether for good or evil, depending upon whether the woman’s movement is going to stop with suffrage or run into feminism, changing the character of woman and her relations to men and with man.

II

I have never made party differences the occasion of personal quarrel or estrangement. On the contrary, though I have been always called a Democrat, I have many near and dear friends among the Republicans. Politics is not war. Politics would not be war even if the politicians were consistent and honest. But there are among them so many changelings, cheats and rogues.

Then, in politics as elsewhere, circumstances alter cases. I have as a rule thought very little of parties as parties, professional politicians and party leaders, and I think less of them as I grow older. The politician and the auctioneer might be described like the lunatic, the lover and the poet, as “of imagination all compact.” One sees more mares’ nests than would fill a book; the other pure gold in pinchbeck wares; and both are out for gudgeons.

It is the habit–nay, the business–of the party speaker when he mounts the raging stump to roar his platitudes into the ears of those who have the simplicity to listen, though neither edified nor enlightened; to aver that the horse he rides is sixteen feet high; that the candidate he supports is a giant; and that he himself is no small figure of a man.

Thus he resembles the auctioneer. But it is the mock auctioneer whom he resembles; his stock in trade being largely, if not altogether, fraudulent. The success which at the outset of party welfare attended this legalized confidence game drew into it more and more players. For a long time they deceived themselves almost as much as the voters. They had not become professional. They were amateur. Many of them played for sheer love of the gamble. There were rules to regulate the play. But as time passed and voters multiplied, the popular preoccupation increased the temptations and opportunities for gain, inviting the enterprising, the skillful and the corrupt to reconstitute patriotism into a commodity and to organize public opinion into a bill of lading. Thus politics as a trade, parties as trademarks, the politicians, like harlots, plying their vocation.

Now and again an able, honest and brave man, who aims at better things, appears. In the event that fortune favors him and he attains high station, he finds himself surrounded and thwarted by men less able and courageous, who, however equal to discovering right from wrong, yet wear the party collar, owe fealty to the party machine, are sometimes actual slaves of the party boss. In the larger towns we hear of the City Hall ring; out in the counties of the Court House ring. We rarely anywhere encounter clean, responsible administration and pure, disinterested, public service.

The taxpayers are robbed before their eyes. The evil grows greater as we near the centers of population. But there is scarcely a village or hamlet where graft does not grow like weeds, the voters as gullible and helpless as the infatuated victims of bunko tricks, ingeniously contrived by professional crooks to separate the fool and his money. Is self-government a failure?

None of us would allow the votaries of the divine right of kings to tell us so, albeit we are ready enough to admit the imperfections of universal suffrage, too often committing affairs of pith and moment, even of life and death, to the arbitrament of the mob, and costing more in cash outlay than royal establishments.

The quadrennial period in American politics, set apart and dedicated to the election of presidents, magnifies these evil features in an otherwise admirable system of government. That the whipper-snappers of the vicinage should indulge their propensities comes as the order of their nature. But the party leaders are not far behind them. Each side construes every occurrence as an argument in its favor, assuring it certain victory. Take, for example, the latest state election anywhere. In point of fact, it foretold nothing. It threw no light upon coming events, not even upon current events. It leaves the future as hazy as before. Yet the managers of either party affect to be equally confident that it presages the triumph of their ticket in the next national election. The wonder is that so many of the voters will believe and be influenced by such transparent subterfuge.

Is there any remedy for all this? I much fear that there is not. Government, like all else, is impossible of perfection. It is as man is–good, bad and indifferent; which is but another way of saying we live in a world of cross purposes. We in America prefer republicanism. But would despotism be so demurrable under a wise unselfish despot?

III

Contemplating the contrasts between foreign life and foreign history with our own one cannot help reflecting upon the yet more startling contrasts of ancient and modern religion and government. I have wandered not a little over Europe at irregular intervals for more than fifty years. Always a devotee to American institutions, I have been strengthened in my beliefs by what I have encountered.

The mood in our countrymen has been overmuch to belittle things American. The commercial spirit in the United States, which affects to be nationalistic, is in reality cosmopolitan. Money being its god, French money, English money, anything that calls itself money, is wealth to it. It has no time to waste on theories or to think of generics. “Put money in thy purse” has become its motto. Money constitutes the reason of its being. The organic law of the land is Greek to it, as are those laws of God which obstruct it. It is too busy with its greed and gain to think, or to feel, on any abstract subject. That which does not appeal to it in the concrete is of no interest at all.

Just as in the days of Charles V and Philip II, all things yielded to the theologian’s misconception of the spiritual life so in these days of the Billionaires all things spiritual and abstract yield to what they call the progress of the universe and the leading of the times. Under their rule we have had extraordinary movement just as under the lords of the Palatinate and the Escurial–the medieval union of the devils of bigotry and power–Europe, which was but another name for Spain, had extraordinary movement. We know where it ended with Spain. Whither is it leading us? Are we traveling the same road?

Let us hope not. Let us believe not. Yet, once strolling along through the crypt of the Church of the Escurial near Madrid, I could not repress the idea of a personal and physical resemblance between the effigies in marble and bronze looking down upon me whichever way I turned, to some of our contemporary public men and seeming to say: “My love to the President when you see him next,” and “Don’t forget to remember me kindly, please, to the chairmen of both your national committees!”

IV

In a world of sin, disease and death–death inevitable–what may man do to drive out sin and cure disease, to the end that, barring accident, old age shall set the limit on mortal life?

The quack doctor equally in ethics and in physics has played a leading part in human affairs. Only within a relatively brief period has science made serious progress toward discovery. Though Nature has perhaps an antidote for all her posions many of them continue to defy approach. They lie concealed, leaving the astutest to grope in the dark.

That which is true of material things is truer yet of spiritual things. The ideal about which we hear so much, is as unattained as the fabled bag of gold at the end of the rainbow. Nor is the doctrine of perfectability anywhere one with itself. It speaks in diverse tongues. Its processes and objects are variant. It seems but an iridescent dream which lends itself equally to the fancies of the impracticable and the scheming of the self-seeking, breeding visionaries and pretenders.

Easily assumed and asserted, too often it becomes tyrannous, dealing with things outer and visible while taking little if any account of the inner lights of the soul. Thus it imposes upon credulity and ignorance; makes fakers of some and fanatics of others; in politics where not an engine of oppression, a corrupt influence; in religion where not a zealot, a promoter of cant. In short the self-appointed apostle of uplift, who disregarding individual character would make virtue a matter of statute law and ordain uniformity of conduct by act of conventicle or assembly, is likelier to produce moral chaos than to reach the sublime state he claims to seek.

The bare suggestion is full of startling possibilities. Individualism was the discovery of the fathers of the American Republic. It is the bedrock of our political philosophy. Human slavery was assuredly an indefensible institution. But the armed enforcement of freedom did not make a black man a white man. Nor will the wave of fanaticism seeking to control the food and drink and dress of the people make men better men. Danger lurks and is bound to come with the inevitable reaction.

The levity of the men is recruited by the folly of the women. The leaders of feminism would abolish sex. To what end? The pessimist answers what easier than the demolition of a sexless world gone entirely mad? How simple the engineries of destruction. Civil war in America; universal hara-kiri in Europe; the dry rot of wealth wasting itself in self-indulgence. Then a thousand years of total eclipse. Finally Macaulay’s Australian surveying the ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral from a broken parapet of London Bridge; and a Moslem conqueror of America looking from the hill of the Capitol at Washington upon the desolation of what was once the District of Columbia. Shall the end be an Oriental renaissance with the philosophies of Buddha, Mohammed and Confucius welded into a new religion describing itself as the last word of science, reason and common sense?

Alas, and alack the day! In those places where the suffering rich most do congregate the words of Watts’ hymn have constant application:

_For Satan finds some mischief still For idle hands to do._

When they have not gone skylarking or grown tired of bridge they devote their leisure to organizing clubs other than those of the uplift. There are all sorts, from the Society for the Abrogation of Bathing Suits at the seaside resorts to the League at Mewville for the Care of Disabled Cats. Most of these clubs are all officers and no privates. That is what many of them are got up for. Do they advance the world in grace? One who surveys the scene can scarcely think so.

But the whirl goes on; the yachts sweep proudly out to sea; the auto cars dash madly through the streets; more and darker and deeper do the contrasts of life show themselves. How long shall it be when the mudsill millions take the upper ten thousand by the throat and rend them as the furiosos of the Terror in France did the aristocrats of the _Regime Ancien_? The issue between capital and labor, for example, is full of generating heat and hate. Who shall say that, let loose in the crowded centers of population, it may not one day engulf us all?

Is this rank pessimism or merely the vagaries of an old man dropping back into second childhood, who does not see that the world is wiser and better than ever it was, mankind and womankind, surely on the way to perfection?

V

One thing is certain: We are not standing still. Since “Adam delved and Eve span”–if they ever did–in the Garden of Eden, “somewhere in Asia,” to the “goings on” in the Garden of the Gods directly under Pike’s Peak–the earth we inhabit has at no time and nowhere wanted for liveliness–but surely it was never livelier than it now is; as the space-writer says, more “dramatic”; indeed, to quote the guidebooks, quite so “picturesque and interesting.”

Go where one may, on land or sea, he will come upon activities of one sort and another. Were Timon of Athens living, he might be awakened from his misanthrophy and Jacques, the forest cynic, stirred to something like enthusiasm. Is the world enduring the pangs of a second birth which shall recreate all things anew, supplementing the miracles of modern invention with a corresponding development of spiritual life; or has it reached the top of the hill, and, mortal, like the human atoms that compose it, is it starting downward on the other side into an abyss which the historians of the future will once again call “the dark ages?”

We know not, and there is none to tell us. That which is actually happening were unbelievable if we did not see it, from hour to hour, from day to day. Horror succeeding horror has in some sort blunted our sensibilities. Not only are our sympathies numbed by the immensity of the slaughter and the sorrow, but patriotism itself is chilled by the selfish thought that, having thus far measurably escaped, we may pull through without paying our share. This will account for a certain indifferentism we now and again encounter.

At the moment we are felicitating ourselves–or, is it merely confusing ourselves?–over the revolution in Russia. It seems of good augury. To begin with, for Russia. Then the murder war fairly won for the Allies, we are promised by the optimists a wise and lasting peace.

The bells that rang out in Petrograd and Moscow sounded, we are told, the death knell of autocracy in Berlin and Vienna. The clarion tones that echoed through the Crimea and Siberia, albeit to the ear of the masses muffled in the Schwarzwald and along the shores of the North Sea, and up and down the Danube and the Rhine, yet conveyed a whispered message which may presently break into song; the glad song of freedom with it glorious refrain: “The Romanoffs gone! Perdition having reached the Hohenzollerns and the Hapsburgs, all will be well!”

Anyhow, freedom; self-government; for whilst a scrutinizing and solicitous pessimism, observing and considering many abuses, administrative and political, federal and local, in our republican system–abuses which being very visible are most lamentable–may sometimes move us to lose heart of hope in democracy, we know of none better. So, let us stand by it; pray for it; fight for it. Let us by our example show the Russians how to attain it. Let us by the same token show the Germans how to attain it when they come to see, if they ever do, the havoc autocracy has made for Germany. That should constitute the bed rock of our politics and our religion. It is the true religion. Love of country is love of God. Patriotism is religion.

It is also Christianity. The pacifist, let me parenthetically observe, is scarcely a Christian. There be technical Christians and there be Christians. The technical Christian sees nothing but the blurred letter of the law, which he misconstrues. The Christian, animated by its holy spirit and led by its rightful interpretation, serves the Lord alike of heaven and hosts when he flies the flag of his country and smites its enemies hip and thigh!

Chapter the Eleventh

Andrew Johnson–The Liberal Convention in 1872–Carl Schurz–The “Quadrilateral”–Sam Bowles, Horace White and Murat Halstead–A Queer Composite of Incongruities

I

Among the many misconceptions and mischances that befell the slavery agitation in the United States and finally led a kindred people into actual war the idea that got afloat after this war that every Confederate was a Secessionist best served the ends of the radicalism which sought to reduce the South to a conquered province, and as such to reconstruct it by hostile legislation supported wherever needed by force.

Andrew Johnson very well understood that a great majority of the men who were arrayed on the Southern side had taken the field against their better judgment through pressure of circumstance. They were Union men who had opposed secession and clung to the old order. Not merely in the Border States did this class rule but in the Gulf States it held a respectable minority until the shot fired upon Sumter drew the call for troops from Lincoln. The Secession leaders, who had staked their all upon the hazard, knew that to save their movement from collapse it was necessary that blood be sprinkled in the faces of the people. Hence the message from Charleston:

_With cannon, mortar and petard
We tender you our Beauregard_–

with the response from Washington precipitating the conflict of theories into a combat of arms for which neither party was prepared.

The debate ended, battle at hand, Southern men had to choose between the North and the South, between their convictions and predilections on one side and expatriation on the other side–resistance to invasion, not secession, the issue. But four years later, when in 1865 all that they had believed and feared in 1861 had come to pass, these men required no drastic measures to bring them to terms. Events more potent than acts of Congress had already reconstructed them. Lincoln with a forecast of this had shaped his ends accordingly. Johnson, himself a Southern man, understood it even better than Lincoln, and backed by the legacy of Lincoln he proceeded not very skillfully to build upon it.

The assassination of Lincoln, however, had played directly into the hands of the radicals, led by Ben Wade in the Senate and Thaddeus Stevens in the House. Prior to that baleful night they had fallen behind the marching van. The mad act of Booth put them upon their feet and brought them to the front. They were implacable men, politicians equally of resolution and ability. Events quickly succeeding favored them and their plans. It was not alone Johnson’s lack of temper and tact that gave them the whip hand. His removal from office would have opened the door of the White House to Wade, so that strategically Johnson’s position was from the beginning beleaguered and came perilously near before the close to being untenable.

Grant, a political nondescript, not Wade, the uncompromising extremist, came after; and inevitably four years of Grant had again divided the triumphant Republicans. This was the situation during the winter of 1871-72, when the approaching Presidential election brought the country face to face with a most extraordinary state of affairs. The South was in irons. The North was growing restive. Thinking people everywhere felt that conditions so anomalous to our institutions could not and should not endure.

II

Johnson had made a bungling attempt to carry out the policies of Lincoln and had gone down in the strife. The Democratic Party had reached the ebb tide of its disastrous fortunes.

It seemed the merest reactionary. A group of influential Republicans, dissatisfied for one cause and another with Grant, held a caucus and issued a call for what they described as a Liberal Republican Convention to assemble in Cincinnati May 1, 1872.

A Southern man and a Confederate soldier, a Democrat by conviction and inheritance, I had been making in Kentucky an uphill fight for the acceptance of the inevitable. The line of cleavage between the old and the new South I had placed upon the last three amendments to the Constitution, naming them the Treaty of Peace between the Sections. The negro must be invested with the rights conferred upon him by these amendments, however mistaken and injudicious the South might think them. The obsolete Black Laws instituted during the slave regime must be removed from the statute books. The negro, like Mohammed’s coffin, swung in midair. He was neither fish, flesh nor fowl, nor good red herring. For our own sake we must habilitate him, educate and elevate him, make him, if possible, a contented and useful citizen. Failing of this, free government itself might be imperiled.

I had behind me the intelligence of the Confederate soldiers almost to a man. They at least were tired of futile fighting, and to them the war was over. But–and especially in Kentucky–there was an element that wanted to fight when it was too late; old Union Democrats and Union Whigs who clung to the hull of slavery when the kernel was gone, and proposed to win in politics what had been lost in battle.

The leaders of this belated element were in complete control of the political machinery of the state. They regarded me as an impudent upstart–since I had come to Kentucky from Tennessee–as little better than a carpet-bagger; and had done their uttermost to put me down and drive me out.

[Illustration: Abraham Lincoln in 1861 _From a Photograph by M B Brady_]

I was a young fellow of two and thirty, of boundless optimism and my full share of self-confidence, no end of physical endurance and mental vitality, having some political as well as newspaper experience. It never crossed my fancy that I could fail.

I met resistance with aggression, answered attempts at bullying with scorn, generally irradiated by laughter. Yet was I not wholly blind to consequences and the admonitions of prudence; and when the call for a Liberal Republican Convention appeared I realized that if I expected to remain a Democrat in a Democratic community, and to influence and lead a Democratic following, I must proceed warily.

Though many of those proposing the new movement were familiar acquaintances–some of them personal friends–the scheme was in the air, as it were. Its three newspaper bellwethers–Samuel Bowles, Horace White and Murat Halstead–were especially well known to me; so were Horace Greeley, Carl Schurz and Charles Sumner, Stanley Matthews being my kinsman, George Hoadley and Cassius M. Clay next-door neighbors. But they were not the men I had trained with–not my “crowd”–and it was a question how far I might be able to reconcile myself, not to mention my political associates, to such company, even conceding that they proceeded under good fortune with a good plan, offering the South extrication from its woes and the Democratic Party an entering wedge into a solid and hitherto irresistible North.

Nevertheless, I resolved to go a little in advance to Cincinnati, to have a look at the stalking horse there to be displayed, free to take it or leave it as I liked, my bridges and lines of communication quite open and intact.

III

A livelier and more variegated omnium-gatherum was never assembled. They had already begun to straggle in when I arrived. There were long-haired and spectacled doctrinaires from New England, spliced by short-haired and stumpy emissaries from New York–mostly friends of Horace Greeley, as it turned out. There were brisk Westerners from Chicago and St. Louis. If Whitelaw Reid, who had come as Greeley’s personal representative, had his retinue, so had Horace White and Carl Schurz. There were a few rather overdressed persons from New Orleans brought up by Governor Warmouth, and a motely array of Southerners of every sort, who were ready to clutch at any straw that promised relief to intolerable conditions. The full contingent of Washington correspondents was there, of course, with sharpened eyes and pens to make the most of what they had already begun to christen a conclave of cranks.

Bowles and Halstead met me at the station, and we drove to the St. Nicholas Hotel, where Schurz and White were awaiting us. Then and there was organized a fellowship which in the succeeding campaign cut a considerable figure and went by the name of the Quadrilateral. We resolved to limit the Presidential nominations of the convention to Charles Francis Adams, Bowles’ candidate, and Lyman Trumbull, White’s candidate, omitting altogether, because of specific reasons urged by White, the candidacy of B. Gratz Brown, who because of his Kentucky connections had better suited my purpose.

The very next day the secret was abroad, and Whitelaw Reid came to me to ask why in a newspaper combine of this sort the New York Tribune had been left out.

To my mind it seemed preposterous that it had been or should be, and I stated as much to my new colleagues. They offered objection which to me appeared perverse if not childish. They did not like Reid, to begin with. He was not a principal like the rest of us, but a subordinate. Greeley was this, that and the other. He could never be relied upon in any coherent practical plan of campaign. To talk about him as a candidate was ridiculous.

I listened rather impatiently and finally I said: “Now, gentlemen, in this movement we shall need the New York Tribune. If we admit Reid we clinch it. You will all agree that Greeley has no chance of a nomination, and so by taking him in we both eat our cake and have it.”

On this view of the case Reid was invited to join us, and that very night he sat with us at the St. Nicholas, where from night to night until the end we convened and went over the performances and developments of the day and concerted plans for the morrow.

As I recall these symposiums some amusing and some plaintive memories rise before me.

The first serious business that engaged us was the killing of the boom for Judge David Davis, of the Supreme Court, which was assuming definite and formidable proportions. The preceding winter it had been incubating at Washington under the ministration of some of the most astute politicians of the time, mainly, however, Democratic members of Congress.

A party of these had brought it to Cincinnati, opening headquarters well provided with the requisite commissaries. Every delegate who came in that could be reached was laid hold of and conducted to Davis’ headquarters.

We considered it flat burglary. It was a gross infringement upon our copyrights. What business had the professional politicians with a great reform movement? The influence and dignity of journalism were at stake. The press was imperilled. We, its custodians, could brook no such deflection, not to say defiance, from intermeddling office seekers, especially from broken-down Democratic office seekers.

The inner sanctuary of our proceedings was a common drawing-room between two bedchambers, occupied by Schurz and myself. Here we repaired after supper to smoke the pipe of fraternity and reform, and to save the country. What might be done to kill off “D. Davis,” as we irreverently called the eminent and learned jurist, the friend of Lincoln and the only aspirant having a “bar’l”? That was the question. We addressed ourselves to the task with earnest purpose, but characteristically. The power of the press must be invoked. It was our chief if not our only weapon. Seated at the same table each of us indited a leading editorial for his paper, to be wired to its destination and printed next morning, striking D. Davis at a prearranged and varying angle. Copies of these were made for Halstead, who having with the rest of us read and compared the different scrolls indited one of his own in general commentation and review for Cincinnati consumption. In next day’s Commercial, blazing under vivid headlines, these leading editorials, dated “Chicago” and “New York,” “Springfield, Mass.,” and “Louisville, Ky.,” appeared with the explaining line “The Tribune of to-morrow morning will say–” “The Courier-Journal–and the Republican–will say to-morrow morning–“

Wondrous consensus of public opinion! The Davis boom went down before it. The Davis boomers were paralyzed. The earth seemed to have risen and hit them midships. The incoming delegates were arrested and forewarned. Six months of adroit scheming was set at naught, and little more was heard of “D. Davis.”

We were, like the Mousquetaires, equally in for fighting and foot-racing, the point with us being to get there, no matter how; the end–the defeat of the rascally machine politicians and the reform of the public service–justifying the means. I am writing this nearly fifty years after the event and must be forgiven the fling of my wisdom at my own expense and that of my associates in harmless crime.

Some ten years ago I wrote: “Reid and White and I the sole survivors; Reid a great Ambassador, White and I the virtuous ones, still able to sit up and take notice, with three meals a day for which we are thankful and able to pay; no one of us recalcitrant. We were wholly serious–maybe a trifle visionary, but as upright and patriotic in our intentions and as loyal to our engagements as it was possible for older and maybe better men to be. For my part I must say that if I have never anything on my conscience worse than the massacre of that not very edifying yet promising combine I shall be troubled by no remorse, but to the end shall sleep soundly and well.”

Alas, I am not the sole survivor. In this connection an amusing incident throwing some light upon the period thrusts itself upon my memory. The Quadrilateral, including Reid, had just finished its consolidation of public opinion before related, when the cards of Judge Craddock, chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Committee, and of Col. Stoddard Johnston, editor of the Frankfort Yeoman, the organ of the Kentucky Democracy, were brought from below. They had come to look after me–that was evident. By no chance could they find me in more equivocal company. In addition to ourselves–bad enough, from the Kentucky point of view–Theodore Tilton, Donn Piatt and David A. Wells were in the room.

When the Kentuckians crossed the threshold and were presented seriatim the face of each was a study. Even a proper and immediate application of whisky and water did not suffice to restore their lost equilibrium and bring them to their usual state of convivial self-possession. Colonel Johnston told me years after that when they went away they walked in silence a block or two, when the old judge, a model of the learned and sedate school of Kentucky politicians and jurists, turned to him and said: “It is no use, Stoddart, we cannot keep up with that young man or with these times. ‘Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace!'”

IV

The Jupiter Tonans of reform in attendance upon the convention was Col. Alexander K. McClure. He was one of the handsomest and most imposing of men; Halstead himself scarcely more so. McClure was personally unknown to the Quadrilateral. But this did not stand in the way of our asking him to dine with us as soon as his claims to fellowship in the good cause of reform began to make themselves apparent through the need of bringing the Pennsylvania delegation to a realizing sense.

He looked like a god as he entered the room; nay, he acted like one. Schurz first took him in hand. With a lofty courtesy I have never seen equalled he tossed his inquisitor into the air. Halstead came next, and tried him upon another tack. He fared no better than Schurz. And hurrying to the rescue of my friends, McClure, looking now a bit bored and resentful, landed me somewhere near the ceiling.

It would have been laughable if it had not been ignominious. I took my discomfiture with the bad grace of silence throughout the stiff, formal and brief meal which was then announced. But when it was over and the party, risen from table, was about to disperse I collected my energies and resources for a final stroke. I was not willing to remain so crushed nor to confess myself so beaten, though I could not disguise from myself a feeling that all of us had been overmatched.

“McClure,” said I with the cool and quiet resolution of despair, drawing him aside, “what in the —- do you want anyhow?”

He looked at me with swift intelligence and a sudden show of sympathy, and then over at the others with a withering glance.

“What? With those cranks? Nothing.”

Jupiter descended to earth. I am afraid we actually took a glass of wine together. Anyhow, from that moment to the hour of his death we were the best of friends.

Without the inner circle of the Quadrilateral, which had taken matters into their own hands, were a number of persons, some of them disinterested and others simple curiosity and excitement seekers, who might be described as merely lookers-on in Vienna. The Sunday afternoon before the convention was to meet we, the self-elect, fell in with a party of these in a garden “over the Rhine,” as the German quarter of Cincinnati is called. There was first general and rather aimless talk. Then came a great deal of speech making. Schurz started it with a few pungent observations intended to suggest and inspire some common ground of opinion and sentiment. Nobody was inclined to dispute his leadership, but everybody was prone to assert his own. It turned out that each regarded himself and wished to be regarded as a man with a mission, having a clear idea how things were not to be done. There were Civil Service Reform Protectionists and Civil Service Reform Free Traders. There were a few politicians, who were discovered to be spoilsmen, the unforgivable sin, and quickly dismissed as such.

Coherence was the missing ingredient. Not a man jack of them was willing to commit or bind himself to anything. Edward Atkinson pulled one way and William Dorsheimer exactly the opposite way. David A. Wells sought to get the two together; it was not possible. Sam Bowles shook his head in diplomatic warning. Horace White threw in a chunk or so of a rather agitating newspaper independency, and Halstead was in an inflamed state of jocosity to the more serious-minded.

It was nuts to the Washington Correspondents–story writers and satirists who were there to make the most out of an occasion in which the bizarre was much in excess of the conventional–with George Alfred Townsend and Donn Piatt to set the pace. Hyde had come from St. Louis to keep especial tab on Grosvenor. Though rival editors facing our way, they had not been admitted to the Quadrilateral. McCullagh and Nixon arrived with the earliest from Chicago. The lesser lights of the guild were innumerable. One might have mistaken it for an annual meeting of the Associated Press.

V

The convention assembled. It was in Cincinnati’s great Music Hall. Schurz presided. Who that was there will ever forget his opening words: “This is moving day.” He was just turned forty-two; in his physiognomy a scholarly _Herr Doktor_; in his trim lithe figure a graceful athlete; in the tones of his voice an orator.

Even the bespectacled doctrinaires of the East, whence, since the days when the Star of Bethlehem shone over the desert, wisdom and wise men have had their emanation, were moved to something like enthusiasm. The rest of us were fervid and aglow. Two days and a night and a half the Quadrilateral had the world in a sling and things its own way. It had been agreed, as I have said, to limit the field to Adams, Trumbull and Greeley; Greeley being out of it, as having no chance, still further abridged it to Adams and Trumbull; and, Trumbull not developing very strong, Bowles, Halstead and I, even White, began to be sure of Adams on the first ballot; Adams the indifferent, who had sailed away for Europe, observing that he was not a candidate for the nomination and otherwise intimating his disdain of us and it.

Matters thus apparently cocked and primed, the convention adjourned over the first night of its session with everybody happy except the D. Davis contingent, which lingered on the scene, but knew its “cake was dough.” If we had forced a vote that night, as we might have done, we should have nominated Adams. But inspired by the bravery of youth and inexperience we let the golden opportunity slip. The throng of delegates and the audience dispersed.

In those days, it being the business of my life to turn day into night and night into day, it was not my habit to seek my bed much before the presses began to thunder below, and this night proving no exception, and being tempted by a party of Kentuckians, who had come, some to back me and some to watch me, I did not quit their agreeable society until the “wee short hours ayont the twal.” Before turning in I glanced at the early edition of the Commercial, to see that something–I was too tired to decipher precisely what–had happened. It was, in point of fact, the arrival about midnight of Gen. Frank P. Blair and Governor B. Gratz Brown.

I had in my possession documents that would have induced at least one of them to pause before making himself too conspicuous. The Quadrilateral, excepting Reid, knew this. We had separated upon the adjournment of the convention. I being across the river in Covington, their search was unavailing. I was not to be found. They were in despair. When having had a few hours of rest I reached the convention hall toward noon it was too late.

I got into the thick of it in time to see the close, not without an angry collision with that one of the newly arrived actors whose coming had changed the course of events, with whom I had lifelong relations of affectionate intimacy. Sailing but the other day through Mediterranean waters with Joseph Pulitzer, who, then a mere youth, was yet the secretary of the convention, he recalled the scene; the unexpected and not over attractive appearance of the governor of Missouri; his not very pleasing yet ingenious speech; the stoical, almost lethargic indifference of Schurz.

“Carl Schurz,” said Pulitzer, “was the most industrious and the least energetic man I have ever worked with. A word from him at that crisis would have completely routed Blair and squelched Brown. It was simply not in him to speak it.”

Greeley was nominated amid a whirl of enthusiasm, his workers, with Whitelaw Reid at their head, having maintained an admirable and effective organization and being thoroughly prepared to take advantage of the opportune moment. It was the logic of the event that B. Gratz Brown should be placed on the ticket with him.

The Quadrilateral was nowhere. It was done for. The impossible had come to pass. There rose thereafter a friendly issue of veracity between Schurz and myself, which illustrates our state of mind. My version is that we left the convention hall together with an immaterial train of after incidents, his that we had not met after the adjournment–he quite sure of this because he had looked for me in vain.

“Schurz was right,” said Joseph Pulitzer upon the occasion of our yachting cruise just mentioned, “I know, for he and I went directly from the hall with Judge Stallo to his home on Walnut Hills, where we dined and passed the afternoon.”

[Illustration: Mrs. Lincoln in 1861 _From a Photograph by M. B. Brady_]

The Quadrilateral had been knocked into a cocked hat. Whitelaw Reid was the only one of us who clearly understood the situation and thoroughly knew what he was about. He came to me and said: “I have won, and you people have lost. I shall expect that you stand by the agreement and meet me as my guests at dinner to-night. But if you do not personally look after this the others will not be there.”

I was as badly hurt as any, but a bond is a bond and I did as he desired, succeeding partly by coaxing and partly by insisting, though it was devious work.

Frostier conviviality I have never sat down to than Reid’s dinner. Horace White looked more than ever like an iceberg, Sam Bowles was diplomatic but ineffusive, Schurz was as a death’s head at the board; Halstead and I through sheer bravado tried to enliven the feast. But they would none of us, nor it, and we separated early and sadly, reformers hoist by their own petard.

VI

The reception by the country of the nomination of Horace Greeley was as inexplicable to the politicians as the nomination itself had been unexpected by the Quadrilateral. The people rose to it. The sentimental, the fantastic and the paradoxical in human nature had to do with this. At the South an ebullition of pleased surprise grew into positive enthusiasm. Peace was the need if not the longing of the Southern heart, and Greeley’s had been the first hand stretched out to the South from the enemy’s camp–very bravely, too, for he had signed the bail bond of Jefferson Davis–and quick upon the news flashed the response from generous men eager for the chance to pay something upon a recognized debt of gratitude.

Except for this spontaneous uprising, which continued unabated in July, the Democratic Party could not have been induced at Baltimore to ratify the proceedings at Cincinnati and formally to make Greeley its candidate. The leaders dared not resist it. Some of them halted, a few held out, but by midsummer the great body of them came to the front to head the procession.

He was a queer old man; a very medley of contradictions; shrewd and simple; credulous and penetrating; a master penman of the school of Swift and Cobbett; even in his odd picturesque personality whimsically attractive; a man to be reckoned with where he chose to put his powers forth, as Seward learned to his cost.

What he would have done with the Presidency had he reached it is not easy to say or surmise. He was altogether unsuited for official life, for which nevertheless he had a passion. But he was not so readily deceived in men or misled in measures as he seemed and as most people thought him.

His convictions were emotional, his philosophy was experimental; but there was a certain method in their application to public affairs. He gave bountifully of his affection and his confidence to the few who enjoyed his familiar friendship–accessible and sympathetic though not indiscriminating to those who appealed to his impressionable sensibilities and sought his help. He had been a good party man and was by nature and temperament a partisan.

To him place was not a badge of servitude; it was a decoration–preferment, promotion, popular recognition. He had always yearned for office as the legitimate destination of public life and the honorable award of party service. During the greater part of his career the conditions of journalism had been rather squalid and servile. He was really great as a journalist. He was truly and highly fit for nothing else, but seeing less deserving and less capable men about him advanced from one post of distinction to another he wondered why his turn proved so tardy in coming, and when it would come. It did come with a rush. What more natural than that he should believe it real instead of the empty pageant of a vision?

It had taken me but a day and a night to pull myself together after the first shock and surprise and to plunge into the swim to help fetch the waterlogged factions ashore. This was clearly indispensable to forcing the Democratic organization to come to the rescue of what would have been otherwise but a derelict upon a stormy sea. Schurz was deeply disgruntled. Before he could be appeased a bridge, found in what was called the Fifth Avenue Hotel Conference, had to be constructed in order to carry him across the stream which flowed between his disappointed hopes and aims and what appeared to him an illogical and repulsive alternative. He had taken to his tent and sulked like another Achilles. He was harder to deal with than any of the Democratic file leaders, but he finally yielded and did splendid work in the campaign.

His was a stubborn spirit not readily adjustable. He was a nobly gifted man, but from first to last an alien in an alien land. He once said to me, “If I should live a thousand years they would still call me a Dutchman.” No man of his time spoke so well or wrote to better purpose. He was equally skillful in debate, an overmatch for Conkling and Morton, whom–especially in the French arms matter–he completely dominated and outshone. As sincere and unselfish, as patriotic and as courageous as any of his contemporaries, he could never attain the full measure of the popular heart and confidence, albeit reaching its understanding directly and surely; within himself a man of sentiment who was not the cause of sentiment in others. He knew this and felt it.

The Nast cartoons, which as to Greeley and Sumner were unsparing in the last degree, whilst treating Schurz with a kind of considerate qualifying humor, nevertheless greatly offended him. I do not think Greeley minded them much if at all. They were very effective; notably the “Pirate Ship,” which represented Greeley leaning over the taffrail of a vessel carrying the Stars and Stripes and waving his handkerchief at the man-of-war Uncle Sam in the distance, the political leaders of the Confederacy dressed in true corsair costume crouched below ready to spring. Nothing did more to sectionalize Northern opinion and fire the Northern heart, and to lash the fury of the rank and file of those who were urged to vote as they had shot and who had hoisted above them the Bloody Shirt for a banner. The first half of the canvass the bulge was with Greeley; the second half began in eclipse, to end in something very like collapse.

The old man seized his flag and set out upon his own account for a tour of the country. Right well he bore himself. If speech-making ever does any good toward the shaping of results Greeley’s speeches surely should have elected him. They were marvels of impromptu oratory, mostly homely and touching appeals to the better sense and the magnanimity of a people not ripe or ready for generous impressions; convincing in their simplicity and integrity; unanswerable from any standpoint of sagacious statesmanship or true patriotism if the North had been in any mood to listen and to reason.

I met him at Cincinnati and acted as his escort to Louisville and thence to Indianapolis, where others were waiting to take him in charge. He was in a state of querulous excitement. Before the vast and noisy audiences which we faced he stood apparently pleased and composed, delivering his words as he might have dictated them to a stenographer. As soon as we were alone he would break out into a kind of lamentation, punctuated by occasional bursts of objurgation. He especially distrusted the Quadrilateral, making an exception in my case, as well he might, because however his nomination had jarred my judgment I had a real affection for him, dating back to the years immediately preceding the war when I was wont to encounter him in the reporters’ galleries at Washington, which he preferred to using his floor privilege as an ex-member of Congress.

It was mid-October. We had heard from Maine; Indiana and Ohio had voted. He was for the first time realizing the hopeless nature of the contest. The South in irons and under military rule and martial law sure for Grant, there had never been any real chance. Now it was obvious that there was to be no compensating ground swell at the North. That he should pour forth his chagrin to one whom he knew so well and even regarded as one of his boys was inevitable. Much of what he said was founded on a basis of fact, some of it was mere suspicion and surmise, all of it came back to the main point that defeat stared us in the face. I was glad and yet loath to part with him. If ever a man needed a strong friendly hand and heart to lean upon he did during those dark days–the end in darkest night nearer than anyone could divine. He showed stronger mettle than had been allowed him: bore a manlier part than was commonly ascribed to the slovenly slipshod habiliments and the aspects in which benignancy and vacillation seemed to struggle for the ascendancy. Abroad the elements conspired against him. At home his wife lay ill, as it proved, unto death. The good gray head he still carried like a hero, but the worn and tender heart was beginning to break. Overwhelming defeat was followed by overwhelming affliction. He never quitted his dear one’s beside until the last pulsebeat, and then he sank beneath the load of grief.

“The Tribune is gone and I am gone,” he said, and spoke no more.

The death of Greeley fell upon the country with a sudden shock. It roused a universal sense of pity and sorrow and awe. All hearts were hushed. In an instant the bitterness of the campaign was forgotten, though the huzzas of the victors still rent the air. The President, his late antagonist, with his cabinet and the leading members of the two Houses of Congress, attended his funeral. As he lay in his coffin he was no longer the arch rebel, leading a combine of buccaneers and insurgents, which the Republican orators and newspapers had depicted him, but the brave old apostle of freedom who had done more than all others to make the issues upon which a militant and triumphant party had risen to power.

The multitude remembered only the old white hat and the sweet old baby face beneath it, heart of gold, and hand wielding the wizard pen; the incarnation of probity and kindness, of steadfast devotion to his duty as he saw it, and to the needs of the whole human family. A tragedy in truth it was; and yet as his body was lowered into its grave there rose above it, invisible, unnoted, a flower of matchless beauty–the flower of peace and love between the sections of the Union to which his life had been a sacrifice.

The crank convention had builded wiser than it knew. That the Democratic Party could ever have been brought to the support of Horace Greeley for President of the United States reads even now like a page out of a nonsense book. That his warmest support should have come from the South seems incredible and was a priceless fact. His martyrdom shortened the distance across the bloody chasm; his coffin very nearly filled it. The candidacy of Charles Francis Adams or of Lyman Trumbull meant a mathematical formula, with no solution of the problem and as certain defeat at the end of it. His candidacy threw a flood of light and warmth into the arena of deadly strife; it made a more equal and reasonable division of parties possible; it put the Southern half of the country in a position to plead its own case by showing the Northern half that it was not wholly recalcitrant or reactionary; and it made way for real issues of pith and moment relating to the time instead of pigments of bellicose passion and scraps of ante-bellum controversy.

In a word Greeley did more by his death to complete the work of Lincoln than he could have done by a triumph at the polls and the term in the White House he so much desired. Though but sixty-one years of age, his race was run. Of him it may be truly written that he lived a life full of inspiration to his countrymen and died not in vain, “our later Franklin” fittingly inscribed upon his tomb.

Chapter the Twelfth

The Ideal in Public Life–Politicians, Statesmen and Philosophers–The Disputed Presidency in 1876–The Personality and Character of Mr. Tilden–His Election and Exclusion by a Partisan Tribunal

I

The soul of journalism is disinterestedness. But neither as a principle nor an asset had this been generally discovered fifty years ago. Most of my younger life I was accused of ulterior motives of political ambition, whereas I had seen too much of preferment not to abhor it. To me, as to my father, office has seemed ever a badge of servitude. For a long time, indeed, I nursed the delusions of the ideal. The love of the ideal has not in my old age quite deserted me. But I have seen the claim of it so much abused that when a public man calls it for a witness I begin to suspect his sincerity.

A virile old friend of mine–who lived in Texas, though he went there from Rhode Island–used to declare with sententious emphasis that war is the state of man. “Sir,” he was wont to observe, addressing me as if I were personally accountable, “you are emasculating the human species. You are changing men into women and women into men. You are teaching everybody to read, nobody to think; and do you know where you will end, sir? Extermination, sir–extermination! On the north side of the North Pole there is another world peopled by giants; ten thousand millions at the very least; every giant of them a hundred feet high. Now about the time you have reduced your universe to complete effeminacy some fool with a pick-axe will break through the thin partition–the mere ice curtain–separating these giants from us, and then they will sweep through and swoop down and swallow you, sir, and the likes of you, with your topsy-turvy civilization, your boasted literature and science and art!”

This old friend of mine had a sure recipe for success in public life. “Whenever you get up to make a speech,” said he, “begin by proclaiming yourself the purest, the most disinterested of living men, and end by intimating that you are the bravest;” and then with the charming inconsistency of the dreamer he would add: “If there be anything on this earth that I despise it is bluster.”

Decidedly he was not a disciple of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Yet he, too, in his way was an idealist, and for all his oddity a man of intellectual integrity, a trifle exaggerated perhaps in its methods and illustrations, but true to his convictions of right and duty, as Emerson would have had him be. For was it not Emerson who exclaimed, “We will walk on our own feet; we will work with our own hands; we will speak our own minds?”

II

In spite of our good Woodrow and our lamented Theodore I have quite made up my mind that there is no such thing as the ideal in public life, construing public life to refer to political transactions. The ideal may exist in art and letters, and sometimes very young men imagine that it exists in very young women. But here we must draw the line. As society is constituted the ideal has no place, not even standing room, in the arena of civics.

If we would make a place for it we must begin by realizing this. The painter, like the lover, is a law unto himself, with his little picture–the poet, also, with his little rhyme–his atelier his universe, his attic his field of battle, his weapons the utensils of his craft–he himself his own Providence. It is not so in the world of action, where the conditions are directly reversed; where the one player contends against many players, seen and unseen; where each move is met by some counter-move; where the finest touches are often unnoted of men or rudely blotted out by a mysterious hand stretched forth from the darkness.

“I wish I could be as sure of anything,” said Melbourne, “as Tom Macaulay is of everything.” Melbourne was a man of affairs, Macaulay a man of books; and so throughout the story the men of action have been fatalists, from Caesar to Napoleon and Bismarck, nothing certain except the invisible player behind the screen.

Of all human contrivances the most imperfect is government. In spite of the essays of Bentham and Mill the science of government has yet to be discovered. The ideal statesman can only exist in the ideal state, which has never existed.

The politician, like the poor, we have always with us. As long as men delegate to other men the function of acting for them, of thinking for them, we shall continue to have him.

He is a variable quantity. In the crowded centers his distinguishing marks are short hair and cunning; upon the frontier, sentiment and the six-shooter! In New York he becomes a boss; in Kentucky and Texas, a fighter and an orator. But the statesman–the ideal statesman–in the mind’s eye, Horatio! Bound by practical limitations such an anomaly would be a statesman minus a party, a statesman who never gets any votes or anywhere–a statesman perpetually out of a job. We have had some imitation ideal statesmen who have been more or less successful in palming off their pinchbeck wares for the real; but looking backward over the history of the country we shall find the greatest among our public men–measuring greatness by real and useful service–to have been while they lived least regarded as idealists; for they were men of flesh and blood, who amid the rush of events and the calls to duty could not stop to paint pictures, to consider sensibilities, to put forth the deft hand where life and death hung upon the stroke of a bludgeon or the swinging of a club.

Washington was not an ideal statesman, nor Hamilton, nor Jefferson, nor Lincoln, though each of them conceived grandly and executed nobly. They loved truth for truth’s sake, even as they loved their country. Yet no one of them ever quite attained his conception of it.

Truth indeed is ideal. But when we come to adapt and apply it, how many faces it shows us, what varying aspects, so that he is fortunate who is able to catch and hold a single fleeting expression. To bridle this and saddle it, and, as we say in Kentucky, to ride it a turn or two around the paddock or, still better, down the home-stretch of things accomplished, is another matter. The real statesman must often do as he can, not as he would; the ideal statesman existing only in the credulity of those simple souls who are captivated by appearances or deceived by professions.

The nearest approach to the ideal statesman I have known was most grossly stigmatized while he lived. I have Mr. Tilden in mind. If ever man pursued an ideal life he did. From youth to age he dwelt amid his fancies. He was truly a man of the world among men of letters and a man of letters among men of the world. A philosopher pure and simple–a lover of books, of pictures, of all things beautiful and elevating–he yet attained great riches, and being a doctrinaire and having a passion for affairs he was able to gratify the aspirations to eminence and the yearning to be of service to the State which had filled his heart.

He seemed a medley of contradiction. Without the artifices usual to the practical politician he gradually rose to be a power in his party; thence to become the leader of a vast following, his name a shibboleth to millions of his countrymen, who enthusiastically supported him and who believed that he was elected Chief Magistrate of the United States. He was an idealist; he lost the White House because he was so, though represented while he lived by his enemies as a scheming spider weaving his web amid the coil of mystification in which he hid himself. For he was personally known to few in the city where he had made his abode; a great lawyer and jurist who rarely appeared in court; a great political leader to whom the hustings were mainly a stranger; a thinker, and yet a dreamer, who lived his own life a little apart, as a poet might; uncorrupting and incorruptible; least of all were his political companions moved by the loss of the presidency, which had seemed in his grasp. And finally he died–though a master of legal lore–to have his last will and testament successfully assailed.

Except as news venders the newspapers–especially newspaper workers–should give politics a wide berth. Certainly they should have no party politics. True to say, journalism and literature and politics are as wide apart as the poles. From Bolingbroke, the most splendid of the world’s failures, to Thackeray, one of its greatest masters of letters–who happily did not get the chance he sought in parliamentary life to fall–both English history and American history are full of illustrations to this effect. Except in the comic opera of French politics the poet, the artist, invested with power, seems to lose his efficiency in the ratio of his genius; the literary gift, instead of aiding, actually antagonizing the aptitude for public business.

The statesman may not be fastidious. The poet, the artist, must be always so. If the party leader preserve his integrity–if he keep himself disinterested and clean–if his public influence be inspiring to his countrymen and his private influence obstructive of cheats and rogues among his adherents–he will have done well.

We have left behind us the gibbet and the stake. No further need of the Voltaires, the Rousseaus and the Diderots to declaim against kingcraft and priestcraft. We have done something more than mark time. We report progress. Yet despite the miracles of modern invention how far in the arts of government has the world traveled from darkness to light since the old tribal days, and what has it learned except to enlarge the area, to amplify and augment the agencies, to multiply and complicate the forms and processes of corruption? By corruption I mean the dishonest advantage of the few over the many.

The dreams of yesterday, we are told, become the realities of to-morrow. In these despites I am an optimist. Much truly there needs still to be learned, much to be unlearned. Advanced as we consider ourselves we are yet a long way from the most rudimentary perception of the civilization we are so fond of parading. The eternal verities–where shall we seek them? Little in religious affairs, less still in commercial affairs, hardly any at all in political affairs, that being right which represents each organism. Still we progress. The pulpit begins to turn from the sinister visage of theology and to teach the simple lessons of Christ and Him crucified. The press, which used to be omniscient, is now only indiscriminate–a clear gain, emitting by force of publicity, if not of shine, a kind of light through whose diverse rays and foggy luster we may now and then get a glimpse of truth.

III

The time is coming, if it has not already arrived, when among fair-minded and intelligent Americans there will not be two opinions touching the Hayes-Tilden contest for the presidency in 1876-77–that both by the popular vote and a fair count of the electoral vote Tilden was elcted and Hayes was defeated; but the whole truth underlying the determinate incidents which led to the rejection of Tilden and the seating of Hayes will never be known.

“All history is a lie,” observed Sir Robert Walpole, the corruptionist, mindful of what was likely to be written about himself; and “What is history,” asked Napoleon, the conqueror, “but a fable agreed upon?”

In the first administration of Mr. Cleveland there were present at a dinner table in Washington, the President being of the party, two leading Democrats and two leading Republicans who had sustained confidential relations to the principals and played important parts in the drama of the Disputed Succession. These latter had been long upon terms of personal intimacy. The occasion was informal and joyous, the good fellowship of the heartiest.

Inevitably the conversation drifted to the Electoral Commission, which had counted Tilden out and Hayes in, and of which each of the four had some story to tell. Beginning in banter with interchanges of badinage it presently fell into reminiscence, deepening as the interest of the listeners rose to what under different conditions might have been described as unguarded gayety if not imprudent garrulity. The little audience was rapt.

Finally Mr. Cleveland raised both hands and exclaimed, “What would the people of this country think if the roof could be lifted from this house and they could hear these men?” And then one of the four, a gentleman noted for his wealth both of money and humor, replied, “But the roof is not going to be lifted from this house, and if any one repeats what I have said I will denounce him as a liar.”

Once in a while the world is startled by some revelation of the unknown which alters the estimate of a historic event or figure; but it is measurably true, as Metternich declares, that those who make history rarely have time to write it.

It is not my wish in recurring to the events of nearly five-and-forty years ago to invoke and awaken any of the passions of that time, nor my purpose to assail the character or motives of any of the leading actors. Most of them, including the principals, I knew well; to many of their secrets I was privy. As I was serving, in a sense, as Mr. Tilden’s personal representative in the Lower House of the Forty-fourth Congress, and as a member of the joint Democratic Advisory or Steering Committee of the two Houses, all that passed came more or less, if not under my supervision, yet to my knowledge; and long ago I resolved that certain matters should remain a sealed book in my memory.

I make no issue of veracity with the living; the dead should be sacred. The contradictory promptings, not always crooked; the double constructions possible to men’s actions; the intermingling of ambition and patriotism beneath the lash of party spirit; often wrong unconscious of itself; sometimes equivocation deceiving itself–in short, the tangled web of good and ill inseparable from great affairs of loss and gain made debatable ground for every step of the Hayes-Tilden proceeding.

I shall bear sure testimony to the integrity of Mr. Tilden. I directly know that the presidency was offered to him for a price, and that he refused it; and I indirectly know and believe that two other offers came to him, which also he declined. The accusation that he was willing to buy, and through the cipher dispatches and other ways tried to buy, rests upon appearance supporting mistaken surmise. Mr. Tilden knew nothing of the cipher dispatches until they appeared in the New York _Tribune_. Neither did Mr. George W. Smith, his private secretary, and later one of the trustees of his will.

It should be sufficient to say that so far as they involved No. 15 Gramercy Park they were the work solely of Colonel Pelton, acting on his own responsibility, and as Mr. Tilden’s nephew exceeding his authority to act; that it later developed that during this period Colonel Pelton had not been in his perfect mind, but was at least semi-irresponsible; and that on two ocasions when the vote or votes sought seemed within reach Mr. Tilden interposed to forbid. Directly and personally I know this to be true.

The price, at least in patronage, which the Republicans actually paid for possession is of public record. Yet I not only do not question the integrity of Mr. Hayes, but I believe him and most of those immediately about him to have been high-minded men who thought they were doing for the best in a situation unparalleled and beset with perplexity. What they did tends to show that men will do for party and in concert what the same men never would be willing to do each on his own responsibility. In his “Life of Samuel J. Tilden,” John Bigelow says:

“Why persons occupying the most exalted positions should have ventured to compromise their reputations by this deliberate consummation of a series of crimes which struck at the very foundations of the republic is a question which still puzzles many of all parties who have no charity for the crimes themselves. I have already referred to the terrors and desperation with which the prospect of Tilden’s election inspired the great army of office-holders at the close of Grant’s administration. That army, numerous and formidable as it was, was comparatively limited. There was a much larger and justly influential class who were apprehensive that the return of the Democratic party to power threatened a reactionary policy at Washington, to the undoing of some or all the important results of the war. These apprehensions were inflamed by the party press until they were confined to no class, but more or less pervaded all the Northern States. The Electoral Tribunal, consisting mainly of men appointed to their positions by Republican Presidents or elected from strong Republican States, felt the pressure of this feeling, and from motives compounded in more or less varying proportions of dread of the Democrats, personal ambition, zeal for their party and respect for their constituents, reached the conclusion that the exclusion of Tilden from the White House was an end which justified whatever means were necessary to accomplish it. They regarded it, like the emancipation of the slaves, as a war measure.”

IV

The nomination of Horace Greeley in 1872 and the overwhelming defeat that followed left the Democratic party in an abyss of despair. The old Whig party, after the disaster that overtook it in 1852, had been not more demoralized. Yet in the general elections of 1874 the Democrats swept the country, carrying many Northern States and sending a great majority to the Forty-fourth Congress.

Reconstruction was breaking down of its very weight and rottenness. The panic of 1873 reacted against the party in power. Dissatisfaction with Grant, which had not sufficed two years before to displace him, was growing apace. Favoritism bred corruption and corruption grew more and more flagrant. Succeeding scandals cast their shadows before. Chickens of carpetbaggery let loose upon the South were coming home to roost at the North. There appeared everywhere a noticeable subsidence of the sectional spirit. Reform was needed alike in the State Governments and the National Government, and the cry for reform proved something other than an idle word. All things made for Democracy.

Yet there were many and serious handicaps. The light and leading of the historic Democratic party which had issued from the South were in obscurity and abeyance, while most of those surviving who had been distinguished in the party conduct and counsels were disabled by act of Congress. Of the few prominent Democrats left at the North many were tainted by what was called Copperheadism–sympathy with the Confederacy. To find a chieftain wholly free from this contamination, Democracy, having failed of success in presidential campaigns, not only with Greeley but with McClellan and Seymour, was turning to such Republicans as Chase, Field and Davis. At last heaven seemed to smile from the clouds upon the disordered ranks and to summon thence a man meeting the requirements of the time. This was Samuel Jones Tilden.

To his familiars Mr. Tilden was a dear old bachelor who lived in a fine old mansion in Gramercy Park. Though 60 years old he seemed in the prime of his manhood; a genial and overflowing scholar; a trained and earnest doctrinaire; a public-spirited, patriotic citizen, well known and highly esteemed, who had made fame and fortune at the bar and had always been interested in public affairs. He was a dreamer with a genius for business, a philosopher yet an organizer. He pursued the tenor of his life with measured tread.

His domestic fabric was disfigured by none of the isolation and squalor which so often attend the confirmed celibate. His home life was a model of order and decorum, his home as unchallenged as a bishopric, its hospitality, though select, profuse and untiring. An elder sister presided at his board, as simple, kindly and unostentatious, but as methodical as himself. He was a lover of books rather than music and art, but also of horses and dogs and out-of-door activity.

He was fond of young people, particularly of young girls; he drew them about him, and was a veritable Sir Roger de Coverley in his gallantries toward them and his zeal in amusing them and making them happy. His tastes were frugal and their indulgence was sparing. He took his wine not plenteously, though he enjoyed it–especially his “blue seal” while it lasted–and sipped his whisky-and-water on occasion with a pleased composure redolent of discursive talk, of which, when he cared to lead the conversation, he was a master. He had early come into a great legal practice and held a commanding professional position. His judgment was believed to be infallible; and it is certain that after 1871 he rarely appeared in the courts of law except as counsellor, settling in chambers most of the cases that came to him.

It was such a man whom, in 1874, the Democrats nominated for Governor of New York. To say truth, it was not thought by those making the nomination that he had any chance to win. He was himself so much better advised that months ahead he prefigured very near the exact vote. The afternoon of the day of election one of the group of friends, who even thus early had the Presidency in mind, found him in his library confident and calm.

“What majority will you have?” he asked cheerily.

“Any,” replied the friend sententiously.

“How about fifteen thousand?”

“Quite enough.”

“Twenty-five thousand?”

“Still better.”

“The majority,” he said, “will be a little in excess of fifty thousand.”

It was 53,315. His estimate was not guesswork. He had organized his campaign by school districts. His canvass system was perfect, his canvassers were as penetrating and careful as census takers. He had before him reports from every voting precinct in the State. They were corroborated by the official returns. He had defeated Gen. John A. Dix, thought to be invincible by a majority very nearly the same as that by which Governor Dix had been elected two years before.

V

The time and the man had met. Though Mr. Tilden had not before held executive office he was ripe and ready for the work. His experience in the pursuit and overthrow of the Tweed Ring in New York, the great metropolis, had prepared and fitted him to deal with the Canal Ring at Albany, the State capital. Administrative reform was now uppermost in the public mind, and here in the Empire State of the Union had come to the head of affairs a Chief Magistrate at once exact and exacting, deeply versed not only in legal lore but in a knowledge of the methods by which political power was being turned to private profit and of the men–Democrats as well as Republicans–who were preying upon the substance of the people.

The story of the two years that followed relates to investigations that investigated, to prosecutions that convicted, to the overhauling of popular censorship, to reduced estimates and lower taxes.

The campaign for the Presidential nomination began as early as the autumn of 1875. The Southern end of it was easy enough. A committee of Southerners residing in New York was formed. Never a leading Southern man came to town who was not “seen.” If of enough importance he was taken to No. 15 Gramercy Park. Mr. Tilden measured to the Southern standard of the gentleman in politics. He impressed the disfranchised Southern leaders as a statesman of the old order and altogether after their own ideas of what a President ought to be.

The South came to St. Louis, the seat of the National Convention, represented by its foremost citizens, and almost a unit for the Governor of New York. The main opposition sprang from Tammany Hall, of which John Kelly was then the chief. Its very extravagance proved an advantage to Tilden.

Two days before the meeting of the convention I sent this message to Mr. Tilden: “Tell Blackstone”–his favorite riding horse–“that he wins in a walk.”

The anti-Tilden men put up the Hon. S.S.–“Sunset”–Cox for temporary chairman. It was a clever move. Mr. Cox, though sure for Tammany, was popular everywhere and especially at the South. His backers thought that with him they could count a majority of the National Committee.

The night before the assembling Mr. Tilden’s two or three leading friends on the committee came to me and said: “We can elect you chairman over Cox, but no one else.”

I demurred at once. “I don’t know one rule of parliamentary law from another,” I said.

“We will have the best parliamentarian on the continent right by you all the time,” they said.

“I can’t see to recognize a man on the floor of the convention,” I said.

“We’ll have a dozen men at hand to tell you,” they replied. So it was arranged, and thus at the last moment I was chosen.

I had barely time to write the required keynote speech, but not enough to commit it to memory; nor sight to read it, even had I been willing to adopt that mode of delivery. It would not do to trust to extemporization. A friend, Col. J. Stoddard Johnston, who was familiar with my penmanship, came to the rescue. Concealing my manuscript behind his hat he lined the words out to me between the cheering, I having mastered a few opening sentences.

Luck was with me. It went with a bang–not, however, wholly without detection. The Indianans, devoted to Hendricks, were very wroth.

“See that fat man behind the hat telling him what to say,” said one to his neighbor, who answered, “Yes, and wrote it for him, too, I’ll be bound!”

One might as well attempt to drive six horses by proxy as preside over a national convention by hearsay. I lost my parliamentarian at once. I just made my parliamentary law as we went. Never before or since did any deliberate body proceed under manual so startling and original. But I delivered each ruling with a resonance–it were better called an impudence–which had an air of authority. There was a good deal of quiet laughter on the floor among the knowing ones, though I knew the mass was as ignorant as I was myself; but realizing that I meant to be just and was expediting business the convention soon warmed to me, and feeling this I began to be perfectly at home. I never had a better day’s sport in all my life.

One incident was particularly amusing. Much against my will and over my protest I was brought to promise that Miss Phoebe Couzins, who bore a Woman’s Rights Memorial, should at some opportune moment be given the floor to present it. I foresaw what a row it was bound to occasion.

Toward noon, when there was a lull in the proceedings, I said with an emphasis meant to carry conviction: “Gentlemen of the convention, Miss Phoebe Couzins, a representative of the Woman’s Association of America, has a memorial from that body, and in the absence of other business the chair will now recognize her.”

Instantly and from every part of the hall arose cries of “No!” These put some heart into me. Many a time as a schoolboy I had proudly declaimed the passage from John Home’s tragedy, “My Name is Norval.” Again I stood upon “the Grampian hills.” The committee was escorting Miss Couzins down the aisle. When she came within the radius of my poor vision I saw that she was a beauty and dressed to kill.

That was reassurance. Gaining a little time while the hall fairly rocked with its thunder of negation I laid the gavel down and stepped to the edge of the platform and gave Miss Couzins my hand.

As she appeared above the throng there was a momentary “Ah!” and then a lull, broken by a single voice:

“Mister Chairman. I rise to a point of order.”

Leading Miss Couzins to the front of the stage I took up the gavel and gave a gentle rap, saying: “The gentleman will take his seat.”

“But, Mister Chairman, I rose to a point of order,” he vociferated.

“The gentleman will take his seat instantly,” I answered in a tone of one about to throw the gavel at his head. “No point of order is in order when a lady has the floor.”

After that Miss Couzins received a positive ovation and having delivered her message retired in a blaze of glory.

VI

Mr. Tilden was nominated on the second ballot. The campaign that followed proved one of the most memorable in our history. When it came to an end the result showed on the face of the returns 196 in the Electoral College, eleven more than a majority; and in the popular vote 4,300,316, a majority of 264,300 for Tilden over Hayes.

How this came to be first contested and then complicated so as ultimately to be set aside has been minutely related by its authors. The newspapers, both Republican and Democratic, of November 8, 1876, the morning after the election, conceded an overwhelming victory for Tilden and Hendricks. There was, however, a single exception. The New York Times had gone to press with its first edition, leaving the result in doubt but inclining toward the success of the Democrats. In its later editions this tentative attitude was changed to the statement that Mr. Hayes lacked the vote of Florida–“claimed by the Republicans”–to be sure of the required votes in the Electoral College.

The story of this surprising discrepancy between midnight and daylight reads like a chapter of fiction.

After the early edition of the Times had gone to press certain members of the editorial staff were at supper, very much cast down by the returns, when a messenger brought a telegram from Senator Barnum, of Connecticut, financial head of the Democratic National Committee, asking for the Times’ latest news from Oregon, Louisiana, Florida and South Carolina. But for that unlucky telegram Tilden would probably have been inaugurated President of the United States.

The Times people, intense Republican partisans, at once saw an opportunity. If Barnum did not know, why might not a doubt be raised? At once the editorial in the first edition was revised to take a decisive tone and declare the election of Hayes. One of the editorial council, Mr. John C. Reid, hurried to Republican headquarters in the Fifth Avenue Hotel, which he found deserted, the triumph of Tilden having long before sent everybody to bed. Mr. Reid then sought the room of Senator Zachariah Chandler, chairman of the National Republican Committee.

While upon this errand he encountered in the hotel corridor “a small man wearing an enormous pair of goggles, his hat drawn over his ears, a greatcoat with a heavy military cloak, and carrying a gripsack and newspaper in his hand. The newspaper was the New York Tribune,” announcing the election of Tilden and the defeat of Hayes. The newcomer was Mr. William E. Chandler, even then a very prominent Republican politician, just arrived from New Hampshire and very much exasperated by what he had read.

Mr. Reid had another tale to tell. The two found Mr. Zachariah Chandler, who bade them leave him alone and do whatever they thought best. They did so, consumingly, sending telegrams to Columbia, Tallahassee and New Orleans, stating to each of the parties addressed that the result of the election depended upon his State. To these was appended the signature of Zachariah Chandler.

Later in the day Senator Chandler, advised of what had been set on foot and its possibilities, issued from National Republican headquarters this laconic message: “Hayes has 185 electoral votes and is elected.”

Thus began and was put in motion the scheme to confuse the returns and make a disputed count of the vote.

VII

The day after the election I wired Mr. Tilden suggesting that as Governor of New York he propose to Mr. Hayes, the Governor of Ohio, that they unite upon a committee of eminent citizens, composed in equal numbers of the friends of each, who should proceed at once to Louisiana, which appeared to be the objective point of greatest moment to the already contested result. Pursuant to a telegraphic correspondence which followed, I left Louisville that night for New Orleans. I was joined en route by Mr. Lamar and General Walthal, of Mississippi, and together we arrived in the Crescent City Friday morning.

It has since transpired that the Republicans were promptly advised by the Western Union Telegraph Company of all that had passed over its wires, my dispatches to Mr. Tilden being read in Republican headquarters at least as soon as they reached Gramercy Park.

Mr. Tilden did not adopt the plan of a direct proposal to Mr. Hayes. Instead he chose a body of Democrats to go to the “seat of war.” But before any of them had arrived General Grant, the actual President, anticipating what was about to happen, appointed a body of Republicans for the like purpose, and the advance guard of these appeared on the scene the following Monday.

Within a week the St. Charles Hotel might have been mistaken for a caravansary of the national capital. Among the Republicans were John Sherman, Stanley Matthews, Garfield, Evarts, Logan, Kelley, Stoughton, and many others. Among the Democrats, besides Lamar, Walthal and myself, came Lyman Trumbull, Samuel J. Randall, William R. Morrison, McDonald, of Indiana, and many others.

A certain degree of personal intimacy existed between the members of the two groups, and the “entente” was quite as unrestrained as might have existed between rival athletic teams. A Kentucky friend sent me a demijohn of what was represented as very old Bourbon, and I divided it with “our friends the enemy.” New Orleans was new to most of the “visiting statesmen,” and we attended the places of amusement, lived in the restaurants, and saw the sights as if we had been tourists in a foreign land and not partisans charged with the business of adjusting a Presidential election from implacable points of view.

My own relations were especially friendly with John Sherman and James A. Garfield, a colleague on the Committee of Ways and Means, and with Stanley Matthews, a near kinsman by marriage, who had stood as an elder brother to me from my childhood.

Corruption was in the air. That the Returning Board was for sale and could be bought was the universal impression. Every day some one turned up with pretended authority and an offer to sell. Most of these were, of course, the merest adventurers. It was my own belief that the Returning Board was playing for the best price it could get from the Republicans and that the only effect of any offer to buy on our part would be to assist this scheme of blackmail.

The Returning Board consisted of two white men, Wells and Anderson; and two negroes, Kenner and Casanave. One and all they were without character. I was tempted through sheer curiosity to listen to a proposal which seemed to come direct from the board itself, the messenger being a well-known State Senator. As if he were proposing to dispose of a horse or a dog he stated his errand.

“You think you can deliver the goods?” said I.

“I am authorized to make the offer,” he answered.

“And for how much?” I asked.

“Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars,” he replied. “One hundred thousand each for Wells and Anderson, and twenty-five thousand apiece for the niggers.”

To my mind it was a joke. “Senator,” said I, “the terms are as cheap as dirt. I don’t happen to have the amount about me at the moment, but I will communicate with my principal and see you later.”

Having no thought of entertaining the proposal, I had forgotten the incident, when two or three days later my man met me in the lobby of the hotel and pressed for a definite reply. I then told him I had found that I possessed no authority to act and advised him to go elsewhere.

It is asserted that Wells and Anderson did agree to sell and were turned down by Mr. Hewitt; and, being refused their demands for cash by the Democrats, took their final pay, at least in patronage, from their own party.

VIII

I passed the Christmas week of 1876 in New York with Mr. Tilden. On Christmas day we dined alone. The outlook, on the whole, was cheering. With John Bigelow and Manton Marble, Mr. Tilden had been busily engaged compiling the data for a constitutional battle to be fought by the Democrats in Congress, maintaining the right of the House of Representatives to concurrent jurisdiction with the Senate in the counting of the electoral vote, pursuant to an unbroken line of precedents established by that method of proceeding in every presidential election between 1793 and 1872.

There was very great perplexity in the public mind. Both parties appeared to be at sea. The dispute between the Democratic House and the Republican Senate made for thick weather. Contests of the vote of three States–Louisiana, South Carolina and Florida, not to mention single votes in Oregon and Vermont–which presently began to blow a gale, had already spread menacing clouds across the political sky. Except Mr. Tilden, the wisest among the leaders knew not precisely what to do.

From New Orleans, on the Saturday night succeeding the presidential election, I had telegraphed to Mr. Tilden detailing the exact conditions there and urging active and immediate agitation. The chance had been lost. I thought then and I still think that the conspiracy of a few men to use the corrupt returning boards of Louisiana, South Carolina and Florida to upset the election and make confusion in Congress might by prompt exposure and popular appeal have been thwarted. Be this as it may, my spirit was depressed and my confidence discouraged by the intense quietude on our side, for I was sure that beneath the surface the Republicans, with resolute determination and multiplied resources, were as busy as bees.

Mr. Robert M. McLane, later Governor of Maryland and later still Minister to France–a man of rare ability and large experience, who had served in Congress and in diplomacy, and was an old friend of Mr. Tilden–had been at a Gramercy Park conference when my New Orleans report arrived, and had then and there urged the agitation recommended by me. He was now again in New York. When a lad he had been in England with his father, Lewis McLane, then American Minister to the Court of St. James, during the excitement over the Reform Bill of 1832. He had witnessed the popular demonstrations and had been impressed by the direct force of public opinion upon law-making and law-makers. An analogous situation had arrived in America. The Republican Senate was as the Tory House of Lords. We must organize a movement such as had been so effectual in England. Obviously something was going amiss with us and something had to be done.

It was agreed that I should return to Washington and make a speech “feeling the pulse” of the country, with the suggestion that in the National Capital should assemble “a mass convention of at least 100,000 peaceful citizens,” exercising “the freeman’s right of petition.”

The idea was one of many proposals of a more drastic kind and was the merest venture. I myself had no great faith in it. But I prepared the