George Oberkirsh Seilhamer.

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supporters claimed that his name would inspire public confidence. If
it had not been for the violence of their hostility to Judge Davis it is


probable they would have succeeded in nominating him. Davis was
in many respects the reverse of Adams. He possessed many elements
of popularity. He had been the intimate friend of Lincoln, whereas,
Mr. Adams placed a low estimate upon Lincoln's character and
abilities. He was rich, but honest, and that he had the confidence of
the Labor Keformers was shown by his nomination for the Presidency
by a National Labor Reform Convention at Columbus, Ohio, in the
preceding February. It was then expected that the entire opposition
could be concentrated on his candidature. The friends of Adams at
Cincinnati rendered such concentration impossible. They charged
Da vis's friends with bringing a large body of hirelings from Illinois
and packing the Convention in his interest they even announced
their intention to oppose him if he was nominated. This opposition
proved fatal to Davis, but it did not benefit Adams. As Davis's
strength declined Greeley's increased. On the second ballot it was
seen that the real contest was between Adams and Greeley, with
Greeley in the lead. On the third and fourth ballots Adams again
passed Greeley, but on the fifth Greeley forged far ahead. On the
last ballot, the sixth, Adams showed his full strength, but as Greeley
still had the lead his success was assured, and he was declared by
formal vote the nominee of the Convention.

Two of the candidates before the Convention for the Presidency,
B. Gratz Brown, of Missouri, and Lyman Trumbull, of Illinois, con-
tested the nomination for Vice-President, Mr. Brown being nomi-
nated on the second ballot. The other candidates voted for on the
first ballot were George \V. Julian, of Indiana; Gilbert C. Walker, of
Virginia; Cassius M. Clay, of Kentucky; Jacob D. Cox, of Ohio; James
M. Scovell, of New Jersey, and Thomas W. Tipton, of Nebraska.
Brown's defection as a Republican began with his support of the policy
of President Johnson in the United States Senate. Under the circum-
stances it was impossible that he should give strength to a ticket of
which Mr. Greeley was the head.

The interest in the Republican National Convention, w T hich met at
Philadelphia on the 5th of June, centered in the nomination of a can-
didate for Vice-President. The opposition to the renomination of
President Grant had expended itself at Cincinnati. But in spite of
the certainty of the forecasts in regard to its action, the Convention
of 1872 was one of the most imposing in the history of the Republican
party. Every delegation embraced men distinguished in public life
and in the military service of the Union. As many as eleven delegates
had been, or were then or afterward. Governors of their States.
These were William Claflin and Alexander H. Rice, of Massachusetts;
General A. E. Burnside, of Rhode Island; General Joseph R. Hawley,


of Connecticut; General Rutherford B. Hayes, of Ohio; Henry S. Lane,
Oliver P.Morton, and Conrad Baker, of Indiana; Governor Culloni and
Ilichard J. Oglesby, of Illinois, and Governor Fairchild, of Wiscon-
sin. Among the other distinguished delegates were General John A.
Logan, of Illinois; General John B. Henderson, of Missouri; William
A. Howard, of Michigan; former Attorney-General James Speed, of
Kentucky, and Amos T. Ackerman, of Georgia, Attorney-General in
Grant's Cabinet. The New York delegation was headed by the ven-
erable Gerrit Smith, and included William Orton, Horace B. Claflin,
General Stewart L. Woodford, William E. Dodge, and John A. Gris-
wold. From New Jersey came A. G. Cattell and Cortlandt Parker.
In the Pennsylvania delegation were Morton McMichael, Glenni W.
Scofleld, and William H. Koontz. From the South were Judge
Thomas Settle, of North Carolina; James L, Orr, of South Carolina,
and John 11. Lynch, the colored orator, of Mississippi. As a special
compliment to Philadelphia, Mr. McMichael was made temporary
chairman. His address on taking the chair was one of those ora-
torical masterpieces for which he was famous. " The malcontents,"
he said, " who recently met in Cincinnati were without a constituency;
the Democrats who are soon to meet at Baltimore will be without a
principle. The former, having no motive in common but personal
disappointment, attempted a fusion of repellent elements, which has
resulted in explosion; the latter, degraded from the high estate they
once held, propose an abandonment of their identity, which means

The selection of Judge Settle for permanent president was due
entirely to the hostility of the Washington correspondents to the
renomination of Vice-President Colfax. No public man ever received
more favors from this band of intelligent newsgatherers than Mr.
Colfax. After his election as Vice-President, in 1868, he alienated
them by a change of manner that they regarded as unpardonable.
They determined to oppose him when he became a candidate the
second time, and his defeat was mainly due to their activity and zeal
against him. The crusade against him w T as led by J. B. McCulloch,
then the editor of the St. Louis Democrat, but the preliminary skirmish
for the selection of Settle as Chairman of the Convention was directed
by G. (). Seilhamer, the Washington correspondent of the New York
Herald, w v ho was aided by a volunteer staff of young journalists hotly
opposed to Colfax. 'The trend of sentiment at the outset was in
favor of the selection of Judge Orr, of South Carolina, but Judge
Settle's fitness and strength were depicted with such confidence and
earnestness in the news columns of the Herald that the honor went to
North Carolina in the belief that it was in response to a popular move-


meiit. The episode from first to last was one of the most curious in
the history of American politics, and it was the first and last time that
a band of aggressive newspaper men, unknown to the general public,
controlled the action of a National Convention.

After the organization of the Convention on the second day the
nomination of General Grant was made without excitement. On the
roll-call there was no dissenting vote. For the Vice^Presidency there
was only one ballot, and Henry Wilson appears on the final record of
the balloting as the only candidate opposed to Mr. ColfaXi As a mat-
ter of fact, Virginia had cast its 22 votes for Governor Lewis, Tennes-
see its 26 votes for Horace Maynard, and Texas its 16 votes for Gov-
ernor Davis. Neither Wilson nor Colfax had a majority. Before the
announcement of the result the chairmen of the Virginia and Ten-
nessee delegations were asking recognition from the chair. If Vir-
ginia w r as first recognized Wilson's nomination was assured; if the
courtesy should be extended to Tennessee Colfax would be renomi-
nated. The chair was in doubt, and Judge Settle waited to be
prompted by the correspondent to whom he was indebted for his
position. A page was hastily dispatched to the stage with the legend
u Recognize Virginia," and then came the recognition, " Mr. Popham,
of Virginia." The nomination was made. Mr. Wilson received 364^
votes and Mr. Colfax 321i

Henry Wilson at the time of his nomination had served sixteen
years in the United States Senate as the colleague of Charles Sumner.
He began life as a shoemaker, but through his own efforts he obtained
a good education. He took an active interest in Massachusetts poli-
tics before his election to the Senate, serving in the State Legislature
and the Constitutional Convention of 1853. Although without his col-
league's gift of invective, he was a sensible and effective speaker, and
he was Sunmer's superior in practical statesmanship. Never a great
Senator, he was always a useful one. He wore his heart on his sleeve.
Even when defending Sumner he avoided giving offense to Sumner's
enemies, and he was in every way worthy of the praise accorded him
in the last resolution of the Platform of 1872.

For the first time in the history of the Republican party the Plat-
form sounded no aggressive battle-cry. As the party of achievement,
the duty that now devolved upon it was to preserve what had been
gained. The first declaration, accordingly, was a brief but nervous
recital of these achievements. The party was pledged to promote
complete liberty and exact equality in the enjoyment of all civil,
political, and public rights by appropriate Federal and State legisla-
tion; it claimed for the recent Constitutional Amendments that they
should be supported because they were right; it took strong ground in


favor of a reform of the civil service; it favored protection for Ameri-
can industries, and it recommended the repeal of the franking priv-
ilege, opposed further land grants to corporations, approved addi-
tional pensions, and justified Congress and the President in their
measures for the suppression of violent and treasonable organizations
in the South.

With the Republican ticket in the field and commanding the en-
thusiastic approval of the great mass of the party, it still remained
for the Democratic Convention to act. The only hope of defeating
the Republicans lay in the Liberal Kepublican revolt; but this revolt
would be powerless without Democratic encouragement and support.
For a while there was some doubt as to what action the Democrats
would take. If Mr. Adams, Judge Davis, or Senator Trumbull had
been nominated, as was the expectation of the Democracy, there
would have been no hesitation. With Mr. Greeley as the head of the
ticket, unexpected obstacles were to be encountered. He had stood
in the past for every principle to which the Democratic party was op
posed. After Henry Clay he was the foremost advocate of protection
for American industries. Slavery had had no more stalwart antag-
onist. It is true he had pursued a vacillating course during the civil
war, sometimes hysterically urging " On to Richmond " movements,
and sometimes encouraging embarrassing peace negotiations. Ex-
cept with the few malcontents whom he followed rather than led, he
had ceased to influence Kepublican sentiment. It happened, how-
ever, that his nomination \vas received with more favor in the South
than in the North. His readiness to go on Jefferson Davis's bail bond,
his earnest championship of universal amnesty, and his fault-finding
with the methods of Keconstruction and Restoration had secured him
the favor of the old ruling element in the Slave States. He was re-
garded in the South as the wedge that would cleave +he Republican
party in the North. While some Democratic journals, like the New
York World, declared that the Democracy could not indorse a candi-
date involving a stultification so humiliating and complete, others,
like the Cincinnati Enquirer and St. Louis KcpuMican, advocated
Greeley's indorsement without hesitation or delay. The Tennessee
Democratic Convention, held only a week after the nomination of
Greeley and Brown, instructed its delegates to support that ticket
at Baltimore. The New York Democrats took the same course a w r eek
or two later. Before the close of June sixteen other Democratic State
Conventions had followed the example of Tennessee and New York.
When the Democratic National Convention met on the 9th of July
there was no longer any doubt in regard to its action. The Baltimore
Convention accepted the Cincinnati platform and candidates without


qualification or evasion. Martin Van Buren, who had been the vic-
tim of the enthusiasm of the " log cabin " canvass of 1840, was
credited with saying that the campaign would be either a farce or a
tornado. In spite of the apparently irreconcilable character of the
metaphor, it turned out to be both, General Grant's victory being the
most complete in the annals of American politics.

The Baltimore Convention of 1872 was not less distinguished in its
composition than that which had adjourned at Philadelphia a month
before. There were one or more representative men in every delega-
tion. Connecticut sent William H. Barnum and Charles E. English;
New York, John T. Hoffman, General Henry W. Slocum, S. S. Cox,
Clarkson N. Potter, and John Kelly; New Jersey, John P. Stockton
and Theodore II. Randolph; Pennsylvania, William A. Wallace, Sam-
uel J. Randall, and Lewis C. Cassidy; Delaware, Thomas F. Bayard:
[Maryland, Montgomery Blair; Ohio, Henry B. Payne, and California,
William M. Gwin. From the South came a great array of Confederate
strength Fitz Hugh Lee, Bradley T. Johnson, and Thomas S. Bo-
cock, of Virginia; Zebulon B. Vance, of North Carolina; Governor
Aiken, of South Carolina; Generals Gordon, Colquit, and Hardeman,
of Georgia; John H. Reagan, of Texas; George G. Vest, of Missouri;
General John S. Williams, of Kentucky, and Henry G. Davis, of West
Virginia. The temporary chairman was Thomas Jefferson Randolph,
a grandson of Thomas Jefferson, and James R. Doolittle, of Wiscon-
sin, was made permanent President. The proceedings were devoid of
interest or enthusiasm, but they were not without a grotesque sig-
nificance. The Democratic party which had championed slavery,
promoted secession and rebellion, and opposed the Constitutional
Amendments and the enfranchisement of the negro, had now come
to lay its past at the feet of Horace Greeley and to adopt him as its
Moses. This sacrifice was a stern necessity, not a pleasant duty, and
it was made with a grim resoluteness that was in marked contrast
with the jaunty confidence of 1868 and the reckless bravado of 1864.
Every principle for which the Democracy had ever contended was
reversed. Not only was emancipation, which the Democrats as a body
had always regarded as a wrong, accepted by them, but enfranchise-
ment as well. The Confederate brigadiers now remembered " with
gratitude the heroism and sacrifices of the soldiers and sailors of the
Republic." They promised in the same breath " to mete out equal
and exact justice to all, of whatever nativity, race, color, or persuasion,
religious or political," and that no act of the Democratic party
" should ever detract from the justly earned fame, nor withhold the
full reward " of the patriotism of the champions of the Union. It was
declared that " the public credit must be sacredly maintained," and


u repudiation in every form and guise " was heartily denounced. The
cup was a bitter one, but it was drunk standing and apparently with-
out a grimace. Christian at the gate w r as not more humble than the
Pliables and Worldly-Wiseinen of the Democracy in their contrition
before Good-Will Greeley. The results were not what was expected,
but the first steps were taken in the pathway that led from the City of

Mr. Greeley did not receive the entire vote of the Convention, 21
votes from Pennsylvania being cast for Jeremiah S. Black, 15 from
New Jersey and Delaware for James A. Bayard, and 2 for William
S. Groesbeck. Greeley's vote was 686, and Brown's 713. For Vice-
President John W. Stevenson, of Kentucky, received 6 votes, and 13
were blank. There was, of course, much Democratic dissatisfaction
with the action of the Baltimore Convention, and a " straight " Demo-
cratic Convention was held at Louisville on the 3d of September, at
which Charles O'Conor, of New York, was nominated for President,
and John Quincy Adams, of Massachusetts, for Vice-President.
Neither of the candidates accepted, but they were voted for by dis-
contented Democrats in nearly all the States.

The two leading candidates for the Presidency were personal and
political antitheses. Each was, opposed by the friends of the other on
the ground of personal unfitness. General Grant was assailed with
newspaper vituperation as bitter as that directed against General
Washington by Freneau in the National Gazette and Bache in the
Aurora. The Greeley Platform was in itself a base and disgraceful
libel. All this naturally inspired exaggerated and distorted portrait-
ures of Mr. Greeley's personal traits and peculiarities. That his dis-
qualifications were very great could not be gainsaid. Irresistible in
his own sphere of moral and economic discussion, he was feeble and
vacillating in the conduct of affairs. Those who knew him best, and
most admired his ability, earnestness, sincerity, and courage, most
distrusted his fitness for the high office to which he aspired. The cool,
common sense of the plain people was quick to determine from his
erratic utterances and whimsical political projects in the previous
decade that he lacked tact, penetration, sagacity, steadfastness of
purpose, and practical wisdom. Against such qualities Grant's Aveak-
nesses, even when they were conceded, were regarded as innocuous
when contrasted with the dangers involved in the election of Greeley.
From Grant the country knew what to expect. No man could foresee
the consequences of Greeley's election. In view of all this it only
needs to be said that Mr. Greeley's nomination showed the inaptness
of the Liberal Republicans and the desperation of the Democrats.

The Republican canvass was opened in New York by Roscoe Conk-


ling, in July, in a speech that was a review of all the questions bear-
ing on the campaign, both personal and political. Senator Sherman
followed in Ohio, and nearly all the leading men of the party were
heard in elaborate addresses during the months of September and
October. But the noise and apparently the enthusiasm of the cam-
paign were in the camps of the enemy. The Greeley canvass began
with great confidence and vigor. When the campaign was well under
way Mr. Greeley made a speech-making tour through Pennsylvania,
Ohio, and Indiana, with a view of influencing the October elections.
Everywhere he was met by great crowds, and no candidate ever be-
fore addressed so many of his political opponents. His speeches were
adroit and able. They were varied, forcible, and, as statements of his
case, effective. They were replete with dogmatic earnestness, sim-
plicity, and clearness of expression, and the wide information for
which he was remarkable. As intellectual efforts they ranked with
the deliverances of Stephen A. Douglas and Horatio Seymour on
similar tours. Some of the Republican leaders showed signs of un-
easiness as to the ultimate effects of his canvass, not so much because
of the strength and power of his speeches as from the interest they
excited. It soon became apparent, however, that the Republican
masses could not be seduced from their allegiance to the party, and
the results of the preliminary State elections showed that a cam-
paign that had begun with a concerted charge all along the line of
battle would end in a rout.

The first State to vote after the opening of the Presidential cam-
paign was North Carolina. The election was held on the first of
August. Great enthusiasm was excited among the friends of Mr.
Greeley by the returns from the eastern part of the State, which were
received several days in advance of those from the western and
mountain counties, and were adverse to the Republicans. When it
became known that instead of being defeated the State had given a
substantial Republican majority, the tide began to turn, and de-
pression took the place of enthusiasm in the Democratic ranks. The
results in Maine and Vermont, in September, added to their despond-
ency. The verdicts in the three October States were awaited with
great interest. In Pennsylvania the Republican candidate for Gov-
ernor was General John F. Hartranft. He was vigorously opposed by
Colonel Forney in the Philadelphia Press, and threatened by the fac-
tional antagonisms that alw r ays distracted the party in that State.
In Ohio there was a leaven of Republican discontent, but as it was
not a Gubernatorial year, the opposition was not so bitter on the
surface as in Pennsylvania and Indiana. In the latter State Thomas
A. Hendricks, the leading Democrat of Indiana, consented to become


the Democratic candidate for Governor against General Thomas M.
Browne, a popular Republican, and his election was anticipated, if
not conceded. The results in the three States were a sure presage of
the overwhelming defeat of Greeley and Brown in November. Hart-
ranft carried Pennsylvania by over 35,000. The Republican majority
in Ohio was more than 14,000. Although he was elected Governor
of Indiana Mr. Hendricks had a meager majority of 1,148. This was
an assurance that Grant and Wilson would carry the State by a
greater majority than Indiana had ever given to a Republican Presi-
dential ticket since the election of Lincoln in I860.

Since the unopposed election of Monroe in 1820 the popular ma-
jority in a Presidential vote was never so great as Grant received in
1872. .Grant received 3,579,132 votes and Greeley 2,834,125. The vote
for ,0'Conor was 29,489, and for Black, Prohibitionist, 5,008. In
the great States the Republican majorities were unprecedented.
Grant carried Pennsylvania by 137,538; Massachusetts by 74,212;
Iowa by 60,370; Michigan by 60^,100; Illinois by 57,006; New York by
53,455; South Carolina by 49,587; Ohio by 37,501; Mississippi by
34,887; North Carolina by 24,675, and Indiana by 22,515. Mr. Greeley
carried none of the Northern States, and only six States in the South
Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Tennessee, and Texas. The
Electoral vote was 286 to 66. Only Scott, in 1852, and McClellau, in
1864, received the votes of fewer Electors under like conditions. The
canvass had been a farce and the result was a tornado.

The Presidential campaign of 1872 had a melancholy sequel. The
last days of the canvass Mr. Greeley spent at the bedside of his dying-
wife. She did not live long enough to share in the sorrow of the de-
feat. Before the close of the month he was laid at rest by her side.
His strong constitution and his vigorous intellect gave way at the
same time. Overtaxed energies, bitter disappointment, and a great
personal bereavement all contributed to an end that was in the nature
of a tragedy.

In consequence of the death of Mr. Greeley the Electoral vote for
President of the opposition was scattered among four candidates,
Thomas A. Hendricks receiving 42, B. Gratz Brown 18, Charles J.
Jenkins 2, and David Davis 1. Georgia cast three votes for Horace
Greeley, but these were not counted. The votes of Arkansas and
Louisiana were also excluded from the count.



Organization of the Forty-first Congress Conspicuous Members
Mr. Elaine, Speaker of the House Repeal of the Tenure of Office
Act Change in the Government of the District of Columbia
New Members of the Forty-second Congress The Salary Grab
Credit Mobilier Scandal The Exposure and Its Consequences-
Eminent Men Implicated Senate and House in the Forty-third
Congress Death of Charles Sumner Two Epochs Contrasted.

HE 41st Congress, the first of the three Republican Con-
gresses that were complete during the two administrations
of President Grant, had a larger proportion of new mem-
bers in the House of Representatives than has been usual
in our National Legislature. Of the two hundred and forty-three
Representatives only ninety-eight w r ere members of the previous
House. In the Senate, also, there were some radical changes, but
these were in the character of the few Senators w r ho now appeared
for the first time rather than in any sweeping change in the composi-
tion of the august body.

A conspicuous figure who took his seat in the Senate, March 4, 1869,
was Hannibal Hamlin, of Maine, who was now a Senator for the
fourth time in his long and distinguished career. He had come back
for a long service before giving place to his successor. Mr. Doolittle,
of Wisconsin, was succeeded by Matthew H. Carpenter, an eminent
western lawyer and already a picturesque figure in Washington
society. From Missouri came Carl Schurz, a German by birth, who
had been conspicuous in many States, but deeply rooted in none.
Tennessee sent William G. Brownlow the famous " Parson Brown-
low." None of these three new Senators fitted the niche for which
he had been chosen. Carpenter was brilliant, but his success failed to
meet his own anticipations, or the expectations of his friends, be-
cause he attempted too much. In seeking to maintain his place at the
bar while performing his duties in the Senate he overtaxed his
strength, impaired his usefulness, and brought his career to a prema-

Online LibraryGeorge Oberkirsh SeilhamerHistory of the Republican party (Volume 1) → online text (page 33 of 61)