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truth was the first step toward the end of a condition that had become

The wrongs and outrages of the Ku-Klux were to a great extent
smothered in the North by the outcry against Northern men in the
South who were known by the opprobrious name of " carpet-baggers."
They were for the most part agents of the Freedmen's Bureau, minis-
ters of the Gospel, and school teachers. Carpet-baggers and carpet-
bag rule were subjects of Democratic vituperation for many years.
One of these diatribes, from the pen of Judge Jeremiah S. Black, is
worthy of reproduction here for its bitterness and sonorous wrong-
headedness, if for no other reason: " The people would not have been
wholly crushed either by the soldier or the negro if both had not been
used to fasten upon them the domination of another class of persons
which was altogether unendurable. These were called carpet-bag-
gers, not because the word is descriptive or euphonious, but because
they have no other name whereby they are known among the children
of men. They were unprincipled adventurers, who sought their for-
tunes in the South by plundering the disarmed and defenseless
people; some of them were the dregs of the Federal army the


meanest of the camp-followers; many were fugitives from Northern
justice; the best of them were those who went down after the peace,
read}' for any deed of shame that was safe and profitable. These,
combining with a few treacherous i scalawags,' and some leading-
negroes to serve as decoys for the rest, and backed by the power of
the general government, became the strongest body of thieves that
ever pillaged a people. Their moral grade was far lower, and yet
they were much more powerful than the robber-bands that infested
Germany after the close of the Thirty Years' War. They swarmed
over all the States, from the Potomac to the Gulf, and settled in
hordes, not with intent to remain there, but merely to feed on the
substance of a prostrate and defenseless people. They took whatever
came within their reach, intruding themselves into all private cor-
porations, assumed the functions of all offices, including the courts
of justice, and in many places they even ' ran the churches.' By force
and fraud, they either controlled all elections, or else prevented
elections from being held. They returned sixty of themselves to one
Congress, and ten or twelve of the most ignorant and venal among
them were at the same time thrust into the Senate.

" This false representation of a people by strangers and enemies,
who had not even a boiia fide residence among them, was the bitterest
of all mockeries. There was no show of truth or honor about it. The
pretended representative was always ready to vote for any measure
that would oppress and enslave his so-called constituents; his hos-
tility was unconcealed, and he lost no opportunity to do them injury.
Under all these wrongs and indignities the Caucasian men of the
South were prudent, if not patient. No brave people, accustomed to
be free, ever endured oppression so peacefully or so wisely. The Irish,
with less provocation, were in a state of perpetual turbulence; the
Poles were always conspiring against the milder rule of their Rus-
sian masters; but Southern men made haste slowly to recover their
liberties. They could not break the shacktes of usurped control; some
of the links gradually rusted and fell away of themselves. The gross
impolicy of desolating the fairest half of the country impressed itself
more and more upon the Northern mind; the mere expense in money
of maintaining this vulgar tyranny became disgusting. The negroes
gradually opened their eyes to the truth that they were as badly im-
posed upon as the whites. With consummate skill, the natural
leaders of the people hoarded every fresh acquisition of self-governing
power. State after State deposed its corrupt governors by impeach-
ment or otherwise, and brought its official criminals to justice, until
all were redeemed except Florida, South Carolina, and Louisiana.
A more particular look at the condition of the last-named State is
needed, because it was the principal theater of the i Great Fraud.'


" The agricultural and commercial wealth of Louisiana made her
a strong temptation to the carpet-baggers. Those vultures sniffed the
prey from afar; and, as soon as the war was over, they swooped down
upon her in flocks that darkened the air. The State was delivered
into their hands by the military authorities, but the officers imposed
some restraints upon their lawless cupidity. They hailed with delight
the advent of negro suffrage, because to them it was merely a legal-
ized method of stuffing the ballot-box, and they stuffed it. Thence-
forth and down to a very recent period, they gorged themselves with-
out let or hindrance. The depredations they committed were fright-
ful. They appropriated, on one pretense or another, whatever they
could lay their hands on, and then pledged to themselves the credit
of the State for uncounted millions more. The public securities ran
down to half-price, and still they put their fraudulent bonds on the
market, and sold them for what they would fetch. The owners of the
best real estate, in town or country, were utterly impoverished, be-
cause the burdens upon it were heavier than the rents would dis-
charge. During the last ten years the City of New Orleans paid, in the
form of direct taxes, more than the estimated value of all the
property within her limits, and still has a debt of equal amount un-
paid. It is not likely that other parts of the State suffered less. The
extent of their spoliation can hardly be calculated, but the testimony
of the carpet-baggers themselves against one another, the reports of
committees sent by Congress to investigate the subject, and other
information from sources entirely authentic make it safe to say that
a general conflagration, sweeping over all the State from one end to
the other, and destroying every building and every article of personal
property, would have been a visitation of mercy in comparison to the
curse of such a government. This may seem at first blush like gros
exaggeration because it is worse than anything that misrule evei
did before."

Some of these things are true, but they became true only because
the white men of the South preferred anarchy to peace, and right, and
justice, and humanity. After four years of war the men who had
fought for slavery not only sought to exercise all the rights of citizens
without any feeling of repentance, or sense of shame, but they tried
to re-enslave the freedmen by enactments so inhuman that it is only
possible to find a parallel for them in the slave codes before the
Christian era, when workingmen were without souls. In no honor-
able sense were the secret societies of the South the " Brotherhood,"
the " Pale Faces," the " Invisible Empire," and the " Knights of the
White Camellia,'" all finally compounded in the Ku-Klux Klan
political organizations. They were established to continue in dark-


ness the war that had failed after hundreds of bloody battles. For
these crimes one party, and only one, was responsible the Democ-
racy. What a hideous history this party has, not only before and
during the war, but after it. So imbruted had it become by three-
quarters of a century of devotion to slavery, that even with peace it
was willing to lend itself to any infamy. Had it not been for the
degrading attitude of the Northern Democracy the South would have
quickly returned to its allegiance and its duty. It was because of the
encouragement of the Democratic party that the white men of the
South resolved upon and persisted in a war of extermination of the
negro race. It was this hatred of the freedmen that made Constitu-
tional Amendments, Reconstruction Acts, and military government
necessary to restoration. If the Confederate veterans had returned to
their homes and resumed the vocations of peace like the soldiers of the
Union; if the Southern leaders had refrained from adopting inhuman
enactments to oppress and re-enslave the negro; if the Southern peo-
ple had accepted the fortunes of war without resort to secret societies
and night raids upon the blacks, there would have been no military
governors, no Force bills, no carpet-bag governments, and no uni-
versal suffrage for many a long year. Many of the ills of transition
would have been avoided if there had been no Peace Democracy in
war times, and no War Democracy in times of peace. The carpet-
bagger would have been a blessing, and not a curse, if anarchy had
not been fostered in every Southern State by the Democratic party
and its narrow, selfish, and bigoted leaders.

Whatever may be the truth in regard to Judge Black's sweeping
charges of the spoliations of the carpet-bag governments in the South,
it is not true that the Republican party was responsible for them.
The same causes that made repression necessary made them possible.
It was misrule begotten of disorder. But it was a reckless libel upon
men as fairly honest and intelligent as the South has ever had in Con-
gress to say of the carpet-bag element that " ten or twelve of the most
ignorant and venal among them " were thrust into the Senate. The
Senators from the South during the brief period of Republican su-
premacy were fully equal, as regards intelligence and integrity, to
their successors, and, it may be added, to their predecessors. It can
not be denied that the negroes elected to Congress made creditable
Representatives. If the objects aimed at by the majority in Congress
during the periods of Reconstruction and Restoration were unaccom-
plished, or only partly accomplished, it was because prejudice stood
in the way of principle because a great and noble purpose was
thwarted by narrow personal and partisan interests. In the end the
results will justify the wisdom of Congress and of Republican policy.


A glance at the legislation of Congress, affecting the South during
General Grant's administration, is necessary to a complete under-
standing of the efforts that were made by the Government to meet
the dangerous situation created by the desperate elements of the
Southern States. By the Act of April 20, 1871, " to enforce the pro-
visions of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the
United States " (commonly known as the Ku-Klux Act, or the En-
forcement Act), the President was empowered to go to the extreme
length of suspending the writ of Habeas Corpus where peace and order
could not otherwise be restored. Before acting under the provisions
of that vigorous statute, General Grant gave warning to the Southern
people by proclamation, May 3, 1871, that they might themselves, by
good behavior, prevent the necessity of its enforcement. " Sensible,"
said the President, " of the responsibility imposed upon the Executive
by the Act of Congress to which public attention is now called, and
reluctant to call into exercise any of the ordinary powers thereby con-
ferred upon me, except in case of imperative necessity, I do, neverthe-
less, deem it my duty to make known that I will not hesitate to ex-
haust the powers thus vested in the Executive whenever and wher-
ever it shall become necessary to do so, for the purpose of securing to
all citizens of the United States the peaceful enjoyment of the rights
guaranteed to them by the Constitution and laws.''

A standing grievance of the Democratic party throughout the
seven years following the war w r as the political disability affecting
large classes in the Southern States under the Fourteenth Amend-
ment to the Constitution. In many cases this disability was removed
by special acts of Congress, beginning with Roderick R. Butler, of
Tennessee, in 1868. The 40th Congress extended amnesty to fully
fifteen hundred persons, and the number of those relieved by the
41st Congress reached thirty-three hundred. Then, in 1871,
came the Amnesty bill, which left under disability participants in
the Rebellion not exceeding seven hundred and fifty persons. The
passage of this measure was delayed by the unwillingness of the
Democratic party to accept political amnesty for their political
friends in the South in conjunction w r ith the liberation of the colored
man from odious personal discrimination. When the Amnesty bill
came before the House Mr. Rainey, of South Carolina, speaking for
his race, said :

u It is not the disposition of my constituents that these disabilities
should longer be retained. We are desirous of being magnanimous:
it may be that we are so to a fault. Nevertheless, we have open and
frank hearts toward those who were our former oppressors and task-
masters. We foster no enmitv now, and we desire to foster none, for


their acts in the past to us or to the Government we love so well. But
while we are willing to accord them their enfranchisement and here
to-day cast our votes that they may be amnestied; while we declare
our hearts open and free from any vindictive feelings toward them,
Ave Avould say to those gentlemen on the other side that there is an-
other class of citizens in the country who haA r e certain rights and im-
munities Avhich they would like you, sirs, to remember and respect.
. . . We invoke you, gentlemen, to show the same kindly feeling
toward us, a race long oppressed, and in demonstration of this hu-
man and just feeling I implore you, give support to the Civil Rights
bill, Avhich he have been asking at your hands lo! these many days."

The Civil Rights bill, which was originated by Mr. Simmer, \vas
not made a part of the Amnesty bill, because the former could be
passed by the majority, w T hile the latter required a two-thirds vote.
In the House the Amnesty bill Avas passed before the passage of the
Civil Rights bill Avas pressed, but the Senate determined that the two
measures should keep even pace, and the Civil Rights bill Avas first
adopted. The Amnesty bill Avas then passed. The Civil Rights bill,
as it passed the Senate, was amended so as to eliminate provisions
relating to equality in jury service and the public schools. This oc-
curred in the absence of Mr. Sumner. Simmer afterward voted against
the Amnesty bill in consequence, and the Civil Rights bill failed in
the Plouse through Democratic opposition. This was in 1872. In
January, 1874, Mr. Sumner again introduced his Civil Rights bill in
the Senate, but the period of reaction had already begun, and it was
too late to secure the measure of justice for the negro. For many
years the black man was practically disfranchised in the South, and
he is even now only slowly gaining his rights as a citizen.

It is impossible to contemplate the condition of the South during
the first decade after the war without an impulse of pity stronger
than the feelings of indignation that the outrages of the Ku-Klux
naturally inspire. The conditions imposed upon the South were never
tyrannical they Avere not even harsh. The transition from rebellion
to allegiance Avould have been easy if outrage had not compelled
repression. Repression followed, it did not precede organized in-
timidation and terrorism. It was not resistance to Republican policy
that renders the history of the epoch so disgraceful, but the character
of Avhat a Democratic historian calls resistance. " It Avas directed,"
he says, " against the colored people and against their white allies
and leaders. It made an objectiA^e point of the agents of the Freed-
men's Bureau, ministers of the Gospel, and school teachers all ad-
venturers from the North, or men who had, in quest of fortune, em-
igrated into these States. All of these classes were regarded as


public or private enemies. They were designated by the opprobrious
title of ' carpet-baggers.' The history of these outrages tills many
volumes of reports made by joint and separate committees of the two
Houses .of Congress. It is from these volumes, from reports of mili-
tary commanders in the South, and from other official documents,
that the following epitome, exhibiting the lawlessness that prevailed
in the Southern States during the second decade between 1865 and
1875, is made. These documents are so full of the details of crime
and violence, and are so voluminous, that it is exceedingly difficult to
select from them, or to convey a correct idea of their revelations." As
this is a Democratic indictment, it must be regarded as unanswerable
in view of the fact that the Democracy was the ally of the Ku-Klux.



Republican Discontent The Liberal Republican Movement Conven-
tion at Cincinnati Horace Greeley Nominated for President
and B. Gratz Brown for Vice-President Republican National
Convention at Philadelphia President Grant Renoininated
The Opposition to Vice-President Colfax Henry Wilson Nomi-
nated The Republican Platform Democratic National Conven-
tion at Baltimore Indorsement of the Cincinnati Ticket and
Platform Grant and Greeley The Canvass Mr. Greeley's
Tour Results of the Autumn Elections *Greeley's Overwhelm-
ing Defeat His Death The Electoral Count.

HE Presidential election of 1872 turned upon the discontent
of a considerable wing of the Republican party with Presi-
dent Grant's administration. For the first time in the his-
tory of American politics a party was organized that owed
its existence mainly to the personal resentments of prominent polit-
ical leaders. In almost every State there w r as an eminent Republican
who had been estranged since the elections of 1868. The deposition
of Senator Sumner from the chairmanship of the Committee on For-
eign Relations had driven him into opposition to the Administration
in the Senate and alienated his friends. Other Senators who joined
Sumner in his hostility to General Grant and to the measures and
policy of the Government were Fenton, of New York; Trumbull, of
Illinois, and Schurz, of Missouri. In New York the party had been
divided into two wings two years before through the rivalries of Mr.
Fenton and Mr. Conkling for the leadership. Fenton had been the
Republican leader in that State from 1863 to 1869. When Conkling
was elected to the United States Senate he determined to obtain the
control of the party. The contest occurred in the State Convention, in
1871. Both the New York Senators were on the ground, Mr. Fenton
guiding his friends in the Convention from his chamber through his
lieutenants, while Mr. Conkling led his forces in person on the floor
of the Convention. New York City had sent two sets of delegates,
each claiming regularity for itself to the exclusion of the other. One
of these delegations represented the friends of Mr. Greeley, who had
been beaten for the nomination for Governor the year before by Gen-
eral Stewart L. Woodford, and tvas in the interest of Mr. Fenton.



The other was a Conkling delegation. The Convention was on the point
of settling the controversy by admitting both delegations with an

equal voice and vote, but Mr. Conkling, through one of those exhibi-
tions of forceful oratory for which he was then famous, succeeded in


changing its purpose. The exclusion of the Greeley-Fenton delega-
tion left Mr. Colliding in full control of the Convention and of the
party organization. Conkling's supremacy Was confirmed a few weeks
later by the overthrow of the " Tweed Kin-gP? in New York City, and
the complete triumph of the Republicans dri the November elections.
Trumbull had never been in hearty accord' with the Republican party,
and Schurz was an erratic politician, unwilling to follow where he
could not lead. Those four eminent Senators gave the Liberal Re-
publican movement of 1872 a fictitious prestige that made it seem
more formidable than it proved.

The name of Liberal Republicans was first applied to a successful
faction in Missouri in 1871, and it was under a call emanating from
a State Convention of this faction that the National Liberal Repub-
lican Convention was held at Cincinnati, May 1, 1872. Like the first
Republican National Convention of 1856, the delegates were self-ap-
pointed. Among those who had been conspicuous as Republicans in
their States were Judge Henry R. Selden, General John Cochrane,
Theodore Tilton. William Dorsheimer, and Waldo Hutchins, of New
York; Colonel A. K. McClure and John Hickman, of Pennsylvania;
Stanley Matthews, George Hoadly, and Judge R. P. Spalding, of Ohio;
George W. Julian, of Indiana; John Wentworth, Leonard Swett,
Lieutenant-Governor Koerner and Horace White, of Illinois; Carl
Schurz, William M. Grosvenor, and Joseph Pulitzer, of Missouri; Cas-
sius M. Clay, of Kentucky; Frank W. Bird and Edward Atkinson, of
Massachusetts; David A. W T ells, of Connecticut, and John D. Defrees,
of the District of Columbia. There were many others only less con-
spicuous. With a few exceptions, these afterward became Democrats.
David Dudley Field, of New York, was also a volunteer delegate, but
he was excluded from the Convention by the friends of Mr. Greeley
because of his outspoken sentiments in favor of Free Trade. Mr.
Matthews was made temporary, and Mr. Schurz permanent President
of the Convention.

The work of the Convention resulted only in lame and impotent con-
clusions. The Platform was prefaced with a violent arraignment of
the Republican party, the Administration, and the President. Gen-
eral Grant w r as accused in terms as sonorous and bitter as the accusa-
tions of George III. in the Declaration of Independence. Such accusa-
tions could only react upon the accusers. In most other respects the
Convention borrowed its platform from the party it professed to an-
tagonize. It recognized the equality of all men before the law, and
the duty of equal and exact justice to all; it promised fidelity to the
Union, emancipation and enfranchisement, and declared opposition
to any reopening of questions settled by the amendments to the Con-


stitution; it demanded the immediate and absolute removal of all
disabilities imposed on account of the Rebellion; it asserted that local
self-government with impartial suffrage would guard the rights of all
citizens more securely than any centralized power, and insisted on
the supremacy of the civil over the military power; it urged the neces-
sity of a reform of the civil service, and declared that no President
should be a candidate for re-election; and it denounced repudiation,
opposed further land grants, and advocated a return to specie pay-
ments. The questions of Protection and Free Trade were remitted to
the people in their Congress districts, and to the decision of Congress,
free from Executive interference or dictation a compromise that was
not a settlement.

Seven candidates for President were voted for, and six ballots were
taken as follows:

1st 2d 3d 4th 5th Oth
Charles Francis Adams, Massachusetts . 203 243 264 279 258 324

Horace Greeley, New York 147 245 258 251 309 332

Lyman Trumbull, Illinois 110 148 156 141 81 19

B. Gratz Brown, Missouri 95 2 2 2 2

David Davis, Illinois 92^ 75 41 51 30 6

Andrew G. Curtin, Pennsylvania 62

Salmon P. Chase, Ohio 21 1 24 32

Both the candidate and platform were grievous disappointments
to the men who had called the Convention and to a large number of
those who composed it. The Western delegates were nearly all Free
Traders, and the Missouri group was especially pronounced in op-
position to Protection. It was a Free Trade party the latter had in
view when they called the Convention. Instead of meeting their
wishes, the Convention surrendered Free Trade as a principle, and
then nominated the most eminent advocate of Protection in the coun-
try on a platform molded in accordance with his views of the best way
to straddle an issue. But Horace Greeley's nomination was not
effected without determined opposition. At the outset the nomina-
tion of Charles Francis Adams seemed a foregone conclusion. Mr.
Adams lacked the popular qualities of Judge David Davis, who was
the candidate that his supporters most feared. In manner he was
cold, austere, and even repellent. But he possessed great personal
and political prestige. He w T as the son of one President and the
grandson of another. He had had large experience in public affairs,
both as a member of Congress and in the diplomatic service. His

Online LibraryGeorge Oberkirsh SeilhamerHistory of the Republican party (Volume 1) → online text (page 32 of 61)