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ture close. Schurz was entirely unfitted to wear the Senatorial toga.
His popularity had been very great, but it was already on the wane,
and his unsteadiness in politics soon dissipated it altogether. Brown-
low was even more unsuited to the Senate than Schurz. He was ec-


centric, his health was not good, and he was too old for the arena in
which he found himself after a long and turbulent career. Other
new Republican Senators were William A. Buckingham, of Connecti-
cut; Keuben E. Fenton, of New York; John Scott, of Pennsylvania,
and Daniel D. Pratt, of Indiana. The two most conspicuous additions
to the Democratic side of the Chamber were Allen (_}. Thurmau, of
Ohio, and Thomas F. Bayard, of Delaware. Mr. Thurman had sat
in the 29th Congress, and had served a full term on the Su-
preme Bench of Ohio. In the Senate he took high rank from the hour
that he entered it. As a debater he was strong, direct, and manly,
and some of the most flattering tributes to his character and abilities
came from his political opponents. Among these Mr. Blaine was
especially outspoken in his admiration of Mr. Thurman's broad cul-
ture and refined enjoyments his taste for poetry and romance, his
love for Moliere, Racine, and Balzac, and the pleasure that he took in
the acted drama and the lyric stage. Such tastes were seldom ac-
corded him in the popular apprehension, while the new Senator from
Delaware was given ungrudging credit for generous culture and
eminent legal attainments. Mr. Bayard came of a family distin-
guished in public life, but while he occupied as high places as his
father before him, he earned no special distinction in the Senate, and
his public career has been noteworthy for some remarkable mistakes.
Another new Senator, with an ancestry notable in American history,
was John P. Stockton, of New Jersey, but he made no mark in a body
that contained few great men. The Senators from the South, whose
presence was marked by the fact that they filled seats long vacant,
require no enumeration here. While not deserving the obloquy that
was heaped upon them, they were not qualified by ability or training
for places in the Senate, and they have returned to the obscurity from
which they came. Only one f them will be recalled with interest,
Henry R. Revels, of Mississippi, and he only because he was the first
man of color to occupy a seat in the Senate of the United States.

A few men of legislative experience, who were not members of the
40th Congress, were in the House. Among the most prominent of
these were William A. \Vheeler and S. S. Cox, of New York, the one a
Republican and the other a Democrat. Mr. Wheeler had served in
the 37th Congress and Mr. Cox had been a Representative from Ohio,
185T-G5. A large contingent came to the House through the Legisla-
tures of their States, including George F. Hoar, of Massachusetts;
John Cessna, of Pennsylvania, and Eugene Hale, of Maine. Two dis-
tinguished Union soldiers were among the new members Henry W.
Slocum, Democrat, of Brooklyn, and James S. Negley, Republican, of
Pittsburg. Noteworthy among the new members were Stephen W.



Kellogg, Connecticut; Noah Davis, New York; Washington Town-
send, Pennsylvania; John Beatty, Ohio; Omer D. Conger, Michigan;
Horatio C. Burchard, Illinois; George W. McCrary, Iowa, and Gus-
tavus A. Fiukelnburg, Missouri, Republicans; and Clarkson N. Pot-
ter, New York, and Erastus Wells, Missouri, Democrats. The ablest
men from the South were Oliver H. Dockery, of North Carolina, and
Horace Maynard, of Tennessee. James G. Blaine, of Maine, was
chosen Speaker, receiving 135 votes to 57 cast for Michael C. Kerr, of

Mr. Blaiue had served six years in Congress before he attained the
Speakership. During his first term in the House he gave little indi-
cation of his genius for politics and his qualifications for leadership.
His first committee assignments were unimportant, and he did not
speak often. His parliamentary train-
ing as Speaker of the Maine House of
Representatives stood him in good
stead, however, and few men on the
floor were so apt in objections and
points of order. His associates in the
House soon learned that he was a man
of varied, extensive, and accurate infor-
mation, and he demonstrated his gift
for colloquy in some of his earliest
speeches. In the 39th Congress he
showed that his strength was as great
as his self-restraint had been in the 38th,
and his third term found him an active
leader on the floor, as well as a recog-
nized authority on all the great ques-
tions of the period. His popularity

kept pace with the recognition of his abilities and the acknowledg-
ment of his leadership in the 40th Congress; and his election as
Speaker of the new House was only a fit tribute to his pre-eminence.

The work of the 41st Congress began March 4, 1867. Aside from
the legislation already described in the chapters relating to the public
credit, our diplomatic relations, and reconstruction and restoration.
Congress found little time for measures of historical importance.
The Tenure of Office Act was repealed, but not without resistance on
the part of the Senate. In the bill as it passed the House the repeal
was absolute. As amended by the Senate, it was only a suspension
until the next session of Congress. Mr. Thurman aptly described this
amendment as a declaration that the act is to be enforced when it
will have no practical effect, and not to be enforced \vhen it would



have practical effect. What a few Senators, under the lead of Mr.
Trumbull, Mr. Edmunds, and Mr. Schurz desired was, that the re-
moval of Democrats appointed to office by President Johnson should
be rendered easy, but when it was done that the law should remain
as before. It was soon found, however, that, if the issue was suspen-
sion or repeal, the act would be repealed. In view of this the proposi-
tion was withdrawn, and the bill recommitted to the Judiciary Com-
mittee, which reported a substitute for the existing law. This was
ingeniously framed to destroy the law and at the same time to main-
tain a semblance of it in a hypothetical and shadowy provision for the
restoration of suspended officials. The House would not consent to
this reserve. The whole subject was then referred to a Conference
Committee, and the result was a new enactment by which the act was
practically extirpated. In reporting the agreement of the Conference
Committee to the Senate Mr. Trumbull said: " The suspended officer
would go back at the end of the session unless somebody else was con-
firmed in his place"; but in the House its effect was, in the opinion
of Mr. Bingham, that " no authority without the consent of the Presi-
dent can get a suspended officer back into the same office again." Mr.
Binghain's view was the correct one, Mr. Trumbull's construction of
the amendment being made merely to cover the retreat of the Senate.
From that time to this there has been in effect no Tenure of Office Act.
A radical change in the government of the District of Columbia
was made just before the close of the 41st Congress. Up to that time
local self-government had not been attempted in any broad sense in
any part of the District. The two cities of Washington and George-
town had separate charters. The administration of justice was
largely in the control of the Levy Court, created by the statutes of
Maryland. There had been remarkable growth and expansion in
the Federal territory since it was established in 1790, but much of it
was incongruous and anomalous. Washington itself was a city cre-
ated by the Act of Congress. It was the habit in Madison's time to
speak of it as " the only virgin capital in the world." But Georgetown
was a city of some importance before the cornerstone of the first of
the public buildings was laid, and when the site of Washington was
only farm land. As planned by Major L'Enfant, the capital was a
city of magnificent distances. The plan was one that required many
years for its vindication, but such as L'Enfant made it it remains to-
day. In 1871 Washington was no longer

This embryo Capital, where fancy sees
Squares in morasses, obelisks in trees
Which second-sighted seers even now adorn
With shrines unbuilt and heroes yet unborn,


but it was still an ill-paved, ill-lighted, and unattractive city. This
condition made a new government necessary, so that improvement
might become not only practicable, but possible. It was accordingly
determined to sw r eep away the separate charters of the two cities and
the old Levy Court, and to give the District a government assimilating
with that of the Territories.

Under the Act of 1871 the District of Columbia was provided with
a Governor, and a Legislative Assembly composed of a Council and
House of Delegates. The Governor and Council were appointed by
the President, and the House of Delegates w r as elected by the people.
The Government of the District was given the power to borrow money
to an amount equivalent to " five per cent, of the assessed value of
property in said District "; and to borrow without charter limitation,
" provided the law authorizing the same shall, at a general election,
have been submitted to the people, and have received a majority of
the votes cast for members of the Legislative Assembly at such

This system lasted only three years, but in that time a great trans-
formation was effected. Prom being one of the worst-paved and
worst-lighted cities in the country, Washington became one of the
best in the world, but there were, of course, scandals in connection
with the cost of the improvements. These were exaggerated by the
newspapers in all parts of the country. In consequence of the agita-
tion the District was divested of its Territorial privileges, and its
government placed in the hands of three Commissioners, but in the
meantime, as already indicated, under Governor Shepherd's energetic
direction, a revolution had been wrought in the appearance of the

In the 42d Congress the House of Representatives contained a
score of new members who became conspicuous in that body, and
some of them afterward in the Senate. Maine sent William P. Frye
and Connecticut General Joseph R. Hawley, both of whom are now
Senators from their respective States. Mr. Frye was then only thirty-
nine years old, but he had served with distinction in the Maine Legis-
lature, and he soon took rank as one of the ablest debaters in Con-
gress. General Hawley had previously won distinction in the field,
in journalism, and in politics. He had been twice a candidate for
Governor of Connecticut against James E. English, in contests so
evenly matched that he was elected in 1866, and beaten by a few r
hundred votes in 1867. He was a forcible speaker, and at once became
an active member of the House. New York sent Ellis H. Roberts,
who, like Hawley, was a prominent journalist. Roberts had made the
Utica Herald as powerful in Republican politics as was the Hartford


C our ant under Hawley. Among 1 the other new members who were
afterward conspicuous in the House were H. Boardman Smith and
Walter L. Sessions, of New York; Alfred Harnier, of Pennsylvania;
James Monroe and Charles Foster, of Ohio; Jeremiah M. Wilson, of
Indiana; Charles B. Farwell, of Illinois; Jeremiah Rusk and Gerry
W. Hazelton, of Wisconsin; Mark H. Dunnell and General John T.
Averill, of Minnesota, and Isaac C. Parker, of Missouri. Mr. Blaine
was again elected Speaker, receiving 120 votes to 92 votes cast for
George W. Morgan, of Ohio. In the Senate there was a number of
changes, including General John A. Logan, as the successor of Rich-
ard Yates, Illinois; Matt W. Ransom, a former Confederate officer, in
place of Joseph C. Abbott, North Carolina; Henry G. Davis, of Mary-
land; General Frank P. Blair, Jr., of Missouri, and Powell Clayton, of

The principal measures of the 42d Congress were the Amnesty and
Civil Rights bills, and the so-called Force bill. The tax and tariff
legislation was important, but as it was only a link in a chain that
will require treatment in a subsequent chapter, its consideration is
deferred. This Congress fixed the ratio of representation at 131,425.
Before it expired it passed an act abolishing the franking privilege.
The measure that attracted the most publicity at the time was the
Salary Retroactive Act, generally called the " Salary Grab." It was
adopted in the form of an amendment to the Legislative, Executive,
and Judicial Appropriation bill, and provided that on and after March
4, 1873, the pay of the President should be |50,000 instead of $25,000,
which w r as the salary at that time; that of the Chief Justice of the
United States $10,500, and of the Associate Justices of the Supreme
Court $10,000 each; that the Vice-President and the Speaker of
the House should receive $10,000 each; that the Cabinet officers should
receive $10,000 each, and three of the Assistant Secretaries $6,500
each; that the salaries of the Senators, and Representatives and Dele-
gates should be increased from $5,000 to $7,500 a year each; that the
members of the 42d Congress should be paid at that rate, from the
beginning of the Congress, two years before (thus giving to each Con-
gressman, as " back-pay," $5,000, but with certain deductions on
account of mileage), and that $1,200,000 should be appropriated to
cover this " back-pay."

The country was furious when the people learned that the members
of Congress had voted themselves " back-pay " in an Appropriation
bill in the last hours of the last session. Such was the outcry that
some of the members w T ho had already drawn the increased pay re-
turned it to the Treasury, while many of those who had not draAvn it
refused to accept it. As a result of the popular wrath the provision


for the increased salaries was repealed within a fortnight after the
meeting of the 43d Congress.

Apart from the popular wrath over the " Salary Grab," great pub-
lic interest was excited by the so-called Credit Mobilier exposures.
This so-called Credit Mobilier had its origin in a corporation called
the Pennsylvania Fiscal Agency, incorporated by the Pennsylvania
Legislature away back in 1859. The " Fiscal Agency," according to
A. K. McClure, who was a member at the time, " began in the vagary
of old Duff Green, Tyler's editor, who was a visionary man; and the
Legislature humored him by the presentation of the charter he
solicited. He came to Harrisburg in the fall of 1859, without a cent,
and being a kindly old bore, whose name and years were venerable,
he wormed the charter from the members by personal solicitation.
We all supposed that he wanted to assume the consolidation and care
of our State debt, which is divided up in parcels, and scattered around
in many forms. The charter got from Duff Green into the hands of
Charles M. Hall, who sold it to the Credit Mobilier people some say
to their proxy, George Francis Train."

The incorporators named in the charter were Samuel J. Reeves, a
wealthy iron man, of Philadelphia; Ellis Lewis, Chief Justice of Penn-
sylvania; Garrick Mallory, a distinguished Philadelphia lawyer;
David R. Porter, the father of Horace Porter; Jacob Zeigler, clerk of
the Pennsylvania House of Representatives; Horn R. Kneas, a Phila-
delphia politician; Robert J. Ross, a banker at Harrisburg; W. T.
Dougherty, the brother of another Harrisburg banker; Isaac Hugus,
a Democratic State Senator; C. M. Reed, a prominent citizen of Erie;
Asa Packer, the Lehigh millionaire; Jesse Lazear, a Congressman
from Greene County; C. S. Kauffman, a member of the Legislature
from Lancaster County; Henry M. Fuller, a Native American Congress-
man, and C. L. Ward, an operator, of Towanda. In spite of these
eminent names the Fiscal Agency was a chimera, and none of the
incorporators had any connection with it when the name was changed
to the Credit Mobilier of America by the Pennsylvania Legislature in
1807. Under its new name the corporation was used to veil the op-
erations of the Union Pacific Railroad Ring.

The first exposure of the Credit Mobilier was made in the New
York Sun in August, 1872. In a letter to Henry S. McComb, Oakes
Ames, a member of Congress from Massachusetts, said he had " placed
some Credit Mobilier stock in Congress where it would do the most
good," and from a memorandum given by Ames to McComb it ap-
peared that the persons implicated were James G. Blaine, of Maine;
James W r . Patterson, of New Hampshire; Henry Wilson, Henry L.
Dawes, George S. Boutwell, and Thomas P. Eliot, of Massachusetts;


James Brooks, of New York; William D. Kelley and Glenni W. Sco-
field, of Pennsylvania; John A. Bingbam and James A. Garfield, of
Ohio; Schuyler Coif ax, of Indiana, and Joseph S. Fowler, of Tennes-
see. The defendants named in a suit brought by McComb against the
Credit Mobilier were Sidney Dillon, John B. Alley, Roland G. Hazard,
Charles McGhrisky, Oliver W. Barnes, Thomas Rowland, Paul Pohl,
Jr., Oakes Ames, Charles II . Neilson, Thomas C. Durant, James M. S.
Williams, Benedict Stewart, John Duff, Charles M. Hall, and H. G.
Fant. Of these McGhriskj^, Barnes, Rowland, Pohl, and Neilson had
little or no share in the affairs of the Credit Mobilier. The allottment
of shares to the thirteen members of Congress named above was made
about 1868. McComb's suit w r as brought to recover the value of these

The original purpose of the exposure in the Sun was political. It
was intended to promote the canvass of Horace Greeley for the Presi-
dency. While it failed to have any appreciable effect upon the cam-
paign it proved a veritable bombshell in Congress. Two separate in-
vestigations were ordered by the House of Representatives and one
by the Senate, resulting in recommendations for the expulsion of
Representatives Ames and Brooks and Senator Patterson. Ames
and Brooks both died soon afterw r ard. They were censured, not ex-
pelled, but it was believed death in both cases was caused by the
shock of the exposure and the strain incident to the investigation.
Mr. Patterson remained in the Senate until the expiration of his
term, vainly seeking, then and afterward, to have his character re-
habilitated. Vice-President Colfax went out of office politically
ruined and mentally wrecked. An effort was made in the House to
censure Messrs. Kelley, Garfield, Samuel Hooper, and Speaker Elaine,
but it was not successful. In the course of the investigations other
members of Congress besides those already indicated were implicated
by the testimony, including Mr. Allison and James Wilson, of Iowa.
The exculpatory explanations of Henry Wilson, Blaine, Dawes, Bing-
ham, Garfield, Kelley, Scofield, and one or two others were the sub-
jects of much criticism, but the question of their culpability was al-
lowed to sink out of sight as the memory of the great scandal faded
from men's minds. As to the actual culpability of the men implicated
it was greatly exaggerated by the newspapers and political agitators.
For this reason the scandal wrought little real injury to men like
Blaine and Garfield in later years, and it is forgotten, notwithstand-
ing it was the absorbing topic of the last session of the 42d Congress.

The victory of 1872 was so sweeping in both the Presidential
elections and the elections for members of Congress that the Repub-
licans looked forward with confidence to a long lease of power. Al-


though a political revolution was impending, it was not foreseen.
The Republican majority in the 43d Congress was much greater than
in its immediate predecessor, and he would have been a bold prophet
who should have predicted that a Democratic House of Representa-
tives w r as to follow r two years later, w r ith a Democratic Speaker in the
chair occupied by Mr. Elaine. As it turned out, the 43d Congress
marked the close of the uninterrupted Republican ascendency that
had continued since 1801.

With the organization of the 43d Congress a number of new Sena-
tors, then or afterward conspicuous in public life, appeared in the
Senate. The most prominent of these who w^ere transferred from
the House were William B. Allison, of Iow r a; Aaron A. Sargent, of
California, and Richard J. Oglesby, of Illinois. Kansas sent John J.
Ingalls, a native of Massachusetts, as the successor of Samuel C.
Pomeroy, and James W. Nye, of Nevada, was succeeded by John P.
Jones. Among the Republican Senators from the South w T ere Stephen
W. Dorsey, of Arkansas; John J. Patterson, of South Carolina, and
Simon B. Conover, of Florida. All these were Northern men, Mr.
Dorsey belonging to Ohio before the war, and Mr. Patterson and Mr.
Conover being respectively natives of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
General John B. Gordon, conspicuous in the Confederate service, came
from Georgia. With the exception of Justin S. Morrill, of Vermont,
William B. Allison, of Iowa, and William M. Stewart, of Nevada,
General Gordon is without associates in the Senate who were in that
body when he entered it. He is the oldest Senator from the South in
continuous service.

There were also some conspicuous changes in the House, the new
Representatives including E. Rockwood Hoar, of Massachusetts; Ly-
man Tremaine, of New York; Hugh J. Jewett, of Ohio; William R.
Morrison, of Illinois; John A. Kasson, of Iowa; Alexander H.
Stephens, of Georgia, and L. Q. C. Lamar, of Mississippi. Mr. Hoar
had been Attorney-General in President Grant's Cabinet. Among
those not so widely known as these were Thomas C. Platt, Stewart L.
Woodford, and Henry J. Scudder, of New York; William W T alter
Phelps, New Jersey; Lemuel Todd, A. Herr Smith, and Hiester Cly-
mer, of Pennsylvania; Eppa Hunton and John Harris, of Virginia;
Milton Savior, Henry B. Banning, Milton I. Southard, and Richard
C. Parsons, of Ohio; Julius C. Burrows and Jay A. Hubbell, of Michi-
gan; Stephen A. Hurlbut, Joseph G. Cannon, and Greenbury L. Fort,
of Illinois; Charles G. Williams, of Wisconsin; James Wilson and
James W. McDill, of Iowa; Richard Bland (Silver Dollar Bland), T.
T. Crittenden, and Edwin O. Stanard, of Missouri; William A. Phil-
lips, of Kansas, and Horace F. Page, of California. Of these Platt


and Burrows are in the Senate, and Cannon is still a member of the
House. As Minister to Spain in 1897-8 General Woodford was
charged with the delicate negotiations preceding the rupture with
that country. General Hurlbut was a ready debater and earned dis-
tinction in the House. Stephen B. Elkiiis, who entered Congress as a
delegate from New Mexico in his thirty-second year, has since been
prominent in Republican politics and public life. It was the close of
an epoch, with many of the new men who had been conspicuous dur-
ing the long period of Republican ascendency already in their graves,
and others to follow in rapid succession, leaving only the names
already indicated on the rolls of Congress in the closing years of the

Apart from the passage of the Supplementary Civil Rights bill,
the political legislation of the 43d Congress was not important. " If
the publication of my works were completed and my Civil Rights
bill passed," Charles Sumner said to Henry Wilson just before the
summons came, " no visitor could enter the door that would be more
welcome than Death." He died June 11, 1874. " You have come upon
the stage too late, sir," Colonel Benton said to Sumner, when the
young Massachusetts Senator made his first appearance in the Sen-
ate in 1851. " All our great men have passed away. Mr. Calhoun
and Mr. Clay and Mr. Webster are gone. Not only have the great
men passed away, but the great issues, too, raised from our form of
government and of deepest interest to its founders and their imme-
diate descendants, have been settled, sir. The last of these was the
National Bank, and that has been overthrown forever. Nothing is
left you, sir, but puny sectional questions and petty strifes about
slavery and fugitive-slave laws, involving no National issues." When
Benton thus spoke to the Free-Soil Senator from Massachusetts noth-
ing had, in fact, been settled, and within ten years the puny sectional
strifes about slavery were to result in a great civil war, ending with
the destruction of slavery. So far were our great men from having
passed away that Webster's successor in the Senate will be remem-

Online LibraryGeorge Oberkirsh SeilhamerHistory of the Republican party (Volume 1) → online text (page 34 of 61)