James Freeman Clarke.

Address of Rev. James Freeman Clarke, at Tremont temple, October 1, 1884, and the letter of Rev. Robert Collyer, D.D online

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Online LibraryJames Freeman ClarkeAddress of Rev. James Freeman Clarke, at Tremont temple, October 1, 1884, and the letter of Rev. Robert Collyer, D.D → online text (page 1 of 2)
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[No. 5.]


The Central Committee of Republicans and Independents.

Room 28, Palmer House, Chicago.

Franklin MacVeagh, Edwin Burritt Smith, Wm, T. Baker,

Chairman. Secretary. Treasurer.



ey. James Freeman Clarke,


OCTOBER 1, 1884.



Dear : You want to know what I think of the

beech made in Boston the other evening by my friend
ames Freeman Clarke, and I will answer you frankly. I
iiink he was right. His speech, to my mind, was wise,
lanfuL, and true, and just what we should expect from
ne who has always made the mere politician give place to
•ie patriot when the need came, and has stood in the van-
[tiard as a leader in every true reform. Dr. Clarke has a
ngular aptitude for this sort of work; the courage also
c his deep convictions, and the faith which holds on until
aose come up he has left behind him. I remember more
Ijian one instance in the twenty-five years I have known
[id loved him in which he has led a forlorn hope in the
pod city of which he is now perhaps the most eminent
; tizen, to find in a few years the old comrades were stand-
i g with him again, shoulder to shoulder, who had hung
\ ick puzzled and perplexed by the stand he had taken on
••me burning question of the time.

This is not a forlorn hope he is leading now; still I
ptice the same trouble in talking with Boston men and
; ading their letters, and look for exactly the same indorse-


ment of my old friend's speech and action when this woe-
ful war is over we are conducting, for the first time in our
history, with the Chinese arm of "stink-pots/' and as far
as I know, I am what Coleridge calls "an inveterate
hoper." I hope in no long time to see every honest and
fair-minded man of Dr. Clarke's mind touching the can-
didate he should vote for, no matter to which party he
may belong, or who is elected in November.

You are at perfect liberty to print this note if you
think it is worth any other man's reading, and however
widely we may differ in our opinion of the candidates now
before our people, you must believe in my absolute loyalty
to this great and free Republic, as I do in yours.

Indeed yours, Robert Collyer.


Friends, — We meet here as Republicans, and as Inde-
pendent Republicans. Once, to be a Republican meant to
be independent; it meant to follow principle rather than
party, and to refuse our votes to any man whom we
deemed unfit for an office, no matter how popular he
might be, or what influences he might combine in his
support. But now, unfortunately, men may be Repub-
licans, and not thus independent; and, therefore, we must
add this qualifying term, in order to define our position.
We mean, then, to say that we belong to that class of
Republicans who in 1876, in 1880, and in this very year
1884, opposed the nomination of Mr. Blaine, throwing the
vote and influence of Massachusetts against him in three
national conventions. Returning from the convention
which met in Cincinnati in 1876, I heard some delegates
from Pennsylvania who had voted for Mr. Blaine com-
plaining that the moral influence of Massachusetts had at
that time prevented his nomination. "For," said they,
<< when the convention saw the Massachusetts delegation
passing by an eminent citizen of a neighboring State in
New England and voting for Mr. Bristow, of Kentucky,
they said, ' There must be something morally wrong about


Mr. Blaine/" And I recollect that, in our State conven-
tion at Worcester in 1880, Mr. Boutwell, who is now an
ardent advocate of Mr. Blaine's election, was so sure of the
repugnance felt to him by Massachusetts, that his strong-
est argument to induce us to favor the renomination of
General Grant was this — that, it Grant did not receive the
nomination, it would certainly be captured by Blaine.
And Blaine himself felt so deeply this opposition that he
uttered some bitter words in the senate against the char-
acter and history of Massachusetts — so bitter that our
senator, Mr. Hoar, felt called on to reply with consid-
erable severity. We also stand where the Republicans
of Massachusetts stood in the convention at Worcester,
when General Butler — then seeking a Republican nom-
ination — moved that a delegate had no right to sit in
that convention who had said that, if Butler were nom-
inated, he would not vote for him. Massachusetts Repub-
licans then decided that they and their delegates were just
as free after the convention as they were before, and always
had a right to bolt a bad nomination. Indeed, these argu-
ments were so stringent that they seem even to have con-
vinced and converted Butler himself to our view; for now,
having been a delegate to the Democratic convention at
Chicago, he has bolted its nomination, and is running on
his own ticket.

Finally, we stand where the Republicans of Massachu-
setts stood in 1875, when they passed the following reso-
lution, reported by H. L. Dawes, our Massachusetts
senator. It is in the platform of 'the Republican State
convention of 1875, of which H. L. Dawes was chairman
of the committee on resolutions: —

"It is therefore declared by the Republicans of Massa-
chusetts that they will support no man for official position
whose character is not an absolute guarantee of fidelity to
every public trust; and they invoke the condemnation of
the ballot box upon any candidate for office who failc
this test, whatever be his party name or association


Where the Eepublicans of Massachusetts stood in 1876,
in 1880, and in the present year, we stand to-day. We
cannot see why a man who was opposed by Massachusetts
as unfit to be a candidate for the Presidency then, should
be regarded as fit to be elected to the Presidency now.
What, then, are our objections to Mr. Blaine? They fall
into two classes, — his course in congress, which showed
that he did not understand the duties of a legislator: and
his course since, in Garfield's cabinet, which proved him
unfit for the duties of an executive office. I have been ac-
cused of having a personal hostility or pique against Mr.
Blaine. Far from it. My personal intercourse with him,
though slight, has been pleasant. I regard him as an able,
agreeable, and polished gentleman. My objections to him
are wholly on public grounds. I have carefully studied
the Congressional Record of the investigation made in
1876, and the so-called Mulligan letters. I think that,
whatever else may be implied and suggested by them, this
at least is certain: That Mr. Blaine, during the time that
he was a member of congress and Speaker of the House,
was earnestly engaged in buying and selling the stocks of
railroads, — accumulating wealth and deriving special ad-
vantages from these roads on account of his official position
and influence; that on one occasion he urged again and again
that he should receive pecuniary favors, because as Speaker
of the House he had helped a railroad by his decision;
that these railroads from which he sought and obtained
such advantages were those which were receiving help by
acts of congressional legislation. It is not necessary to v go
into details. I only say what is plain on the face of these
transactions: that Mr. Blaine was using his public position
and influence to accumulate a fortune; that he was receiv-
ing great pecuniary advantages from moneyed corporations,
which could only be accounted for by his possessing that
political position and official influence. Now, we have
seen as honest a man as ever went from Massachusetts to
Washington censured by congress for doing what was not


a tenth part as bad as what Mr. Blaine evidently did. He
was censured for mixing up his private business with his
public duties. And yet his motive was the public service, —
to gain help in carrying through a great national enter-
prise; and, more than all, he practiced no disguise, but,
like a man of truth, told the whole story when called upon,
though while he told it, reputations were dropping around
him like soldiers in battle. Here comes the misery of it!
Mr. Blaine concealed the truth, denied the facts, and
falsified the record. That is the bitterness of it. Oh! if
he had only come forward manfully in that investigation,
and said: "Yes, I admit that I did what I ought not. I
see now that it was wrong. I wish I had not done it.
But, at all events, I will not deny the facts." If he had
done that, I believe we should all of us have forgiven him.
I, for one, would vote for him for the Presidency.

With these documents before us, the Congressional
Record and the Mulligan letters,— documents the authen-
ticity of which is not denied, — we are sorrowfully brought
to the conclusion that the present candidate of the Repub-
lican party is an unfit, discreditable, and unsafe person to
be President of this nation. He is unfit, because he has
used public office and position for private gain and per-
sonal emolument; discreditable, because he has disguised
and concealed those transactions by constant duplicity;
and unsafe, because, during his brief term of office in an
executive department, he has interfered without justice or
reason in the affairs of other republics, and prostituted in
the service of private interests the power confided in him
for public ends. No doubt, he has upright and honorable
men among his supporters, — some who, like Mr. Hoar,
support him eagerly,— some who, like Mr. Roosevelt, sup-
port him languidly, and others, like Mr. Edmunds, who
maintain their place in their party, but cannot make up
their mind to say a single word in his defense. It was
certainly an event without a parallel in the history of
politics, when the presiding officer of a meeting called to


confirm the nomination of a Presidential candidate did not
allude to him at all in the course of his whole speech. It
was like what Tacitus says of the absence of the statues
Brutus and Oassius from the funeral of Junia, — "they
were all the more conspicuous because they were not
there/' But the pity of it is that the former leaders of the
Republican party have now become the followers. The
leaders now are those who skillfully combine politics and
personal gain, men who belong to rings, men who sneer at
civil service reform, as one of Mr. Blaine's chief wire-
pullers has lately done, as "namby-pamby politics, cant,
and babyism." The real leaders of the party now are such
as we scarcely care to name. The only policy which Mr.
Blaine seems earnestly to have adopted is that of keeping the
tariff as high as possible, so as to satisfy at once the manu-
facturers of New England and New York, the iron masters
of Pennsylvania, and the wool-growers of Ohio. The
only policy of which he is the exponent is to continue to
compel the people to pay in taxes $100,000,000 more than
is needed for the expenses of the nation, and then to dis-
tribute it among the States. It seems to me that nothing
could be more dangerous than four years of an adminis-
tration like this. One pretty sure result would be the
destruction of the Republican party. Four years of
Blaine's administration would bury it in a dishonored
grave. Indeed, Mr. Chairman, I think that the only hope
for the Republican party itself is the defeat of Blaine.
Going out of power for awhile, it would recover something
of its former quality, and return to its better traditions.
We do not cease to be Republicans because we vote for
once by the side of our opponents. When the best Repub-
licans of Buffalo united with the Democrats in choosing
Cleveland their mayor, they did not cease to be Repub-
licans. When the Republicans of the State of New York
united with the Democrats in electing Cleveland their
governor by one hundred and ninety thousand majority,
they did not cease to be Republicans. Nor should -we


cease to be Eepublicans if we joined the better class of
Democrats in electing Cleveland to the Presidency. We
should only show that we prefer our country to party, and
the safety of the nation to the temporary triumph of so-
called Eepublicanism. Those who are so carried away by
party spirit and the influence of a name that they think
the party which supports Mr. Blaine is the same with that
which elected Abraham Lincoln, because both are called
Eepublicans, show that they are cheated by words and
mistake appearance for reality. Such loyalty to party is
disloyalty to the country; and to those who act thus we
may apply the poet's words, and say, —

"Their honor rooted in dishonor stands,
And faith unfaithful makes them falsely true."

I»well remember how, years ago, when Daniel Webster
made his famous 7th of March speech, the leaders of his
party in Boston seemed for a time struck dumb with aston-
ishment, anger, and grief. But soon the power of parYy
reasserted itself, and before long a meeting was held in
which these same men thanked him for what he had said.
The same power of party shows itself again to-day. With
scarce an exception, the leading Eepublican public men in
this State have opposed Blaine until he was nominated;
with scarce an exception, they have since come round to
excuse, to defend, to admire, and finally to put him by the
side of Washington and Lincoln. Does not this remind
us of our copybook lines, — " First endure, next pity, then
embrace"? Some of my friends cannot bear the idea of a
Democratic success, because the Democrats were so bad
forty years ago. To such an argument what statute of
limitations can be applied? The Democrats to-day are not
those who began the war twenty-three years ago, not those
who defended slavery before that time. Let us follow Mr.
Hale's good advice, and "look forward, not backward."
Let us remember that "new occasions teach new duties,"
and not attempt, as Lowell says, to open the portals of the


future with the blood-rusted key of the past. Mr. Chair-
man, when a citizen of a vast nation like this is to perform
the serious duty of voting for its chief magistrate, he
should first ask: "What is a President most needed for at
the present time? What are the most imminent dangers
which he must avert by the power of his magistracy, the
principal evils of the hour which he must subdue by the
influence of his authority? And who is the mau^he best
fitted for this work?" To me, Mr. Chairman, the chief
evils which endanger our nation and public life to-day
seem those so forcibly described by our Massachusetts
senator, Mr. Hoar, many years ago. They have not
diminished since that time. We have since then seen
the robberies of the public treasury by whisky rings and
Star-route rings, which the government has found itself
unable to punish. Strange that Mr. Hoar, who brings
this terrible indictment against the national honor, should
accuse President Eliot of teaching our youth to be ashamed
of their own history. Both President Eliot and Senator
Hoar do the State service when they plainly point out these
public crimes and public dangers. Each is seeking to
teach the young men how to help to make better history.
"My own public life," said Mr. Hoar, in May, 1876,
"has been a very brief and insignificant one, extending
little beyond the duration of a single term of senatorial
office; but, in that brief period, I have seen live judges of
a high court of the United States driven from office by
threats of impeachment for corruption or maladministra-
tion. I have heard the taunt from friendliest lips that,
when the United States presented herself in the East to
take part with the civilized world in generous competition
in the arts of life, the only products of her institutions in
which she surpassed all others beyond question was her
corruption. I have seen in the State in the Union fore-
most in power and wealth four judges of her courts
impeached for corruption, and the political administra-
tion of her chief city become a disgrace and by-word


throughout the world. I have seen the chairman of the
committee on military affairs in the House, now a distin-
guished member of this court, rise in his place and demand
the expulsion of four of his associates for making sale of
their official privilege of selecting the youths to be educated
at our great military school. When the greatest railroad
of the world, binding together the continent, and uniting
the two great seas which wash our shores, was finished, I
have seen our national triumph and exultation turned
to bitterness and shame by the unanimous reports of
three committees of Congress — two of the House and
one here — that every step of that mighty enterprise
had been taken in fraud. I have heard, in higher
places the shameless doctrine avowed by men grown
old in public office that the true way by which power
should be gained in the republic is to bribe the peo-
ple with the offices created for their service, and the
true end for which it should be used, when gained, is the
promotion of selfish ambition and the gratification of per-
sonal revenge. I have heard that suspicion haunts the
footsteps of the trusted companions of the President.

"These things have passed into history. The Hallam,
or the Tacitus, or the Sismondi, or the Macaulay who
writes the annals of our time will record them with his
inexorable pen. And now, when a high cabinet officer,
the constitutional adviser of the executive, flees from office
before charges of corruption, shall the historian add that
the Senate treated the demand of the people for its judg-
ment of condemnation as a farce, and laid down its high
functions before the sophistries and jeers of the criminal
lawyer? Shall he speculate about the petty political cal-
culations as to the effect on one party or the other which
induced his judges to connive at the escape of the great
public criminal? Or, on the other hand, shall he close the
chapter by narrating how these things are detected, re-
formed, and punished by constitutional processes which
the wisdom of our fathers devised for us, and the virtue


and purity of the people found their vindication in the
justice of the Senate?"

This is the great evil which threatens the virtue of the
community. It is the mad desire for great fortunes which
causes the defalcations taking place every day, — of presi-
dents and cashiers of banks, of town and city treasurers,
of trustees holding the estates of widows and orphans, and
forces them to finish lives begun in usefulness in exile,
death and dishonor. The rings and lobbies which infest
the halls of Congress and dictate legislation, make those
halls the places round which the infection mostly rages;
and, to check it, we need, most of all, a man as President
honest and firm, belonging to the older type of magistrates,
who has the courage to defy bad men in his own party and
to check assaults on the treasury when mado by his own
friends. And such a man we have in Grover Cleveland.
First, as mayor of Buffalo, he delivered the city from the
plunderers who were laying it waste, and received the cor-
dial thanks of the best 'men of both parties. Next, as
Governor of New York, he has supported, as my friend
Dorman B. Eaton and others assure me, every measure
tending to protect the people from official plunderers.
Because he has plucked the prey from the jaws of the
wicked, the baser elements of his party have combined
with bitter hatred against him. This itself is a proof that
he is the man needed now to execute justice on a still
higher platform. For he had, evidently, only to concede
a little, to give way a little, to make a few promises to
these Democratic leaders, bribe them with a few offices, to
have their support, as he now has their determined and
unconcealed and inveterate hostility.

"But what," it will be said, "shall we support an im-
moral and depraved man for President, — a man whose life
is stained with debauchery and vice?" No. No such
man shall ever have my vote; for, no matter what his other
qualities might be, he never could fulfill his public duties
right. A depraved man could never have the moral


strength to resist evil. But I do not believe Cleveland to
be such a man, and I will give my reasons for this convic-

First. — If he were so, why did the best citizens of
Buffalo, who knew him well, support and elect him tri-
umphantly for the office of mayor? Why was not this
charge made against him then by those who knew him?
Why did such an eminent man as Sherman S. Rogers lead
the Republican party to his side? And why were these
charges not brought forward, when he was candidate for
Governor? The apparent reason is that there were people
enough in Buffalo and New York who knew that such
charges were false, and only when his candidacy extends
to states where he is not known are the accusations made
against him.

Second. — These charges originated in one Buffalo news-
paper, of which hundreds of thousands of copies have
been circulated, which accused him of "beastly drunken-
ness," "habitual immorality with women/' of being found
in a drunken fight in a saloon, of seduction, and of being
a notorious libertine. Thereupon, Rev. Dr. Twining, one
of the editors of the New York Independent, was sent to
Buffalo to investigate the facts. This is his report:

"There remain the worst and damning charges of gen-
eral libertinism and drunkenness. I say distinctly, after
abundant inquiry, they are false. They are, I believe, the
product of the imagination of the stews. Every attempt
to trace them led back into the merest gossip of saloons
and brothels. On the other hand, my inquiry of the
noblest Christian men in this city, especially in the legal
profession, men above all reproach, men who will vote for
him, and men who will vote and speak against him for
political reasons, men who know Cleveland most intimately,
who have been his partners in business or his nearest
neighbors, men who know him by day and by night, bring
the unanimous reply that it is utterly impossible that such
reports can be true. He is a man of true and kind heart,


frank and open, so intensely devoted to his business duties
that it is impossible that he should be a debauchee. He
has the heartiest respect of the best families in the city,
who only regret that he keeps himself so much out of the
society to which he would be welcome. There are some
severe prejudices against Mr. Cleveland in Buffalo. They
have their chief seat in the saloons, against whose tyranny
his election to the mayoralty was the protest of all good
citizens of both parties. They have not forgiven him for
their defeat. From the best sources of information, I
received testimony of the strongest character that Mr.
Cleveland is a born ruler of men, of the greatest inde-
pendence and honesty of character, a man who believes in
reform to the bottom of his soul, and has the independence
to carry it out, and a man on whom the responsibilities of
office have rested with a serious and solemn weight. The
men are very few who could have received such testimoni-
als to their efficiency and conscientiousness and independ-
ence in public duties as I heard given to Mr. Cleveland
from the most influential and trustworthy citizens of Buf-

Third. — A committee of sixteen Buffalo gentlemen
were appointed to search this matter to the bottom, and
this is the substance of their report:

"We have, therefore, through a committee appointed
from our number for that purpose, carefully and deliber-
ately made such an investigation; and we have taken every
available means to ascertain the precise facts in each case.
The general charges of drunkenness and gross immorality
which are made against Governor Cleveland are absolutely
false. His reputation for morality has been good. There
is no foundation for any statement to the contrary. He
was sought out and nominated for the mayoralty against
his will, and was supported for that position by the larger
portion of the educated, intelligent and moral citizens of
Buffalo without regard to politics, and on purely personal


Online LibraryJames Freeman ClarkeAddress of Rev. James Freeman Clarke, at Tremont temple, October 1, 1884, and the letter of Rev. Robert Collyer, D.D → online text (page 1 of 2)