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Presidential election of 1876. An abortive effort was made to pass
a final Amnesty Bill, but it failed to receive the necessary two-thirds
vote in the House, because the Republicans insisted that Jefferson
Davis should be excepted. This was steadily refused. " If Mr. Davis
thought that he was ungenerously treated by the Republicans," Mr.
Elaine wrote, " he must have found ample compensation in the con-
duct of both Southern and Northern Democrats, who kept seven
hundred prominent supporters of the rebellion under disability for the
simple and only reason that the ex-President of the Confederacy could
not share in the clemency."

An event associated with the history of the 44th Congress was the
death of ex-President Johnson, at his home in East Tennessee, July
31, 1875. In the few weeks that the Senate was in session during his
brief service, he made a speech assailing President Grant, whom he ac-
cused of seeking a third term, and charged with endangering the
liberties of the country. After six years spent in retirement, Mr.
Johnson still cherished the animosities of the period of Reconstruc-
tion, and, judging from his speech, his only motive in returning to
the Senate was to find an arena in w r hich he could renew the contro-
versies of his unfortunate administration. After his death the mem-
ory of these animosities and controversies quickly faded out of the
minds of men.

With many new members, the 45th Congress was scarcely dis-
tinguished politically from its immediate predecessor. In the Senate
were James G. Elaine, of Maine; Edward H. Rollins, of New Hamp-
shire; George F. Hoar, of Massachusetts; Samuel J. Kirkwood, of
Iowa; Preston B. Plumb, of Kansas, and Alvin Saunders, of Nebraska,
Republicans, and John R. McPherson, of New Jersey; David Davis, of
Illinois; James B. Beck, of Kentucky; A. H. Garland, of Arkansas;
Isharu G. Harris, of Tennessee; Benjamin H. Hill, of Georgia; Richard
Coke, of Texas, and Lafayette Grover, of Oregon, Democrats. John
Sherman entered President Hayes' Cabinet, and was succeeded by
Stanley Matthews; General Cameron, of Pennsylvania, resigned in
1877, and was succeeded by his son, J. Donald Cameron. Oliver P.
Morton, of Indiana, died November 1, 1877, and was succeeded by
Daniel W. Voorhees, Democrat. Among the new members of the
House were: Thomas B. Reed, of Maine; George D. Robinson, George
B. Loring, William Claflin, and William W. Rice, of Massachusetts;
John T. Wait, of Connecticut; Frank Hiscock, John H. Starin, George
A. Bagley, A. B. James, and George W. Patterson, of New York; Rus-
sell Errett, Thomas M. Bayne, John I. Mitchell, and Gen. Harry
White, of Pennsylvania; Gen. Jacob D. Cox, Joseph W. Keifer, Gen.
Thomas Ewing, and William McKinley, of Ohio; Thomas M. Browne


and William M. Baker, of Indiana, and Horace Davis, of California.
Of these new men William McKinley was destined to take the highest

The new House of Representatives was organized October 15, 1877,
a special session of Congress being rendered necessary by the failure
of the Army Appropriation bill at the preceding session. Mr. Randall
received 149 votes for Speaker to 132 for James A. Garfield. From
July until October, 1877, the army was maintained without lawful ap-
propriations. The cause of this condition of affairs was the deter-
mination of the Democrats in the 44th Congress that a provision
should be inserted in the bill for the support of the army forbidding its
use in maintaining what was known as the Packard State govern-
ment in Louisiana. The Senate refused to concur in this amendment,
and the bill was lost. The whole question was reopened as soon as
the 45th Congress was organized, and it was the chief subject of con-
troversy during the first two years of President Hayes' administra-
tion. Although Packard's claim to be Governor of Louisiana was bet-
ter than that upon which General Hayes was awarded the electoral
vote of the State, the President was determined from the outset, after
his inauguration, to disregard the State elections in the three States
on which his own title depended. The Senate stood firm, notwith-
standing the President's surrender, and the amendment again failed
on the eve of the final adjournment, March 3, 1879. The necessary
appropriations were again withheld, notwithstanding the course of
the Executive in preventing the use of the troops in protecting col-
ored citizens at the polls in the Southern States. The result of this
policy of President Hayes was the practical disfranchisement of the
colored voters of the South, and the surrender of every Southern
State to the Democratic party. It w T as a policy that gave great um-
brage to Republicans everywhere, and assured a third triumph for
the Democrats in the elections for members of Congress in 1878. As
the Democrats had a temporary majority in the Senate in the 40th
Congress, they finally succeeded in forcing the repeal of the kiws pro-
viding protection for all citizens in the South.

The distinctive measure of the 45th Congress was the passage of the
Act for the coinage of the silver dollar. The question at issue was
practically the same that was decided in the election of President
McKinley in 1890, but parties had not yet divided on the use or disuse
of a double standard. All the operations of the Government, as an
essential element in the resumption of specie payments, were con-
ducted on a gold basis. Mr. Sherman, the Secretary of the Treasury,
in his first annual report in 1877, said that in the work of refunding,
he had informed his associates in an official letter that " as the Gov-


eminent exacts in payment for bonds their full face in coin, it is not
anticipated that any future legislation of Congress or any action of
any Department of the Government will sanction or tolerate the re-
demption of the principal of these bonds, or the payments of the in-
terest thereon in coin of less value than the coin authorized by law at
the time of their issue being gold coin." He earnestly urged Con-
gress to give its sanction to this assurance. The President, in his mes-
sage, also declared that if the United States had the right to pay its
bonds in silver coin the benefit would be overbalanced by the injurious
effects of such payments against the honest convictions of the public
creditors. In direct hostility to these recommendations, Mr. Matthews,
Mr. Sherman's successor in the Senate, moved a concurrent resolution,
declaring that " all bonds of the United States are payable in silver
dollars of 412^ grains, and that to restore such dollars as a full legal
tender for that purpose is not a violation of public faith or the rights
of the creditor." A motion to refer the resolution to the Committee
on the Judiciary was defeated ayes, 19; nays, 31. It was kept before
the Senate for immediate consideration and discussion. Thirty-four
Senators made elaborately prepared speeches on the subject, and the
resolution was finally adopted without amendment as a declaration of
the financial creed of Congress. In the meantime a bill for the free
coinage of silver dollars of 412| grains, to be full legal tender- for all
debts, public and private, had been hastily passed by the House, and
was pending in the Senate. This was the famous Bland Silver Dollar
bill. There was another long debate by the senatorial financiers,
after which the measure was adopted by the two Houses, with amend-
ments limiting the coinage to not less than $2,000,000 or more than
$4,000,000 per month, all seigniorage to accrue to the Treasury, and
authorizing the President to propose an international conference for
the adoption of a common ratio for gold and silver. The bill was
vetoed by President Hayes, but was passed over the veto. This was
the beginning of the silver question, the history of which must be
told in one of the closing chapters of this volume.

As the last session of the 45th Congress closed without making
provision for the expenses of the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial
departments of the Government, or for the support of the army, a
called session of the 46th Congress was necessary. The extra session
began March 18, 1879. Mr. Randall was again elected Speaker of the
House, receiving 143 votes, to 125 for General Garfield. Thirteen
members, elected as Greenbackers, voted for Hendrick B. Wright, of
Pennsylvania. Mr. Wright had served in the 33d, the 37th, and the
45th Congresses as a Democrat. It was not until his election to the
4Cth Congress that he was classed as a Greenbacker. His political


associates in the House were William M. Lowe, of Alabama; Adlai E.
Stevenson, afterward Vice-President, and Albert P. Forsytlie, of Il-
linois; Gilbert De la Matyr, of Indiana; James B. Weaver and Edward
H. Gillette, of Iowa; George W. Ladd and Thompson H. Murch, of
Maine; Nicholas Ford, of Missouri; Seth H. Yocum, of Pennsylvania,
and George W T . Jones, of Texas. The Greenback-Labor party had
been a factor of considerable importance in politics in alliance with
the Democrats since 1873, but after 1880 its influence waned.

Among the prominent Republicans who entered the House at this
time were: Levi P. Morton, Richard Crowley, and Warner Miller, of
New York; George M. Robeson, of New Jersey; Henry H. Bingham, of
Pennsylvania; Thomas L. Young, of Ohio; Roswell G. Horr and John
S. Newberry, of Michigan, and William D. W T ashburn, of Minnesota.
Washburn was the fourth of seven brothers to obtain a seat in the
House of Representatives. The only Republicans from the South
were Milton G. Urner, of Maryland; Joseph Jorgenson, of Virginia;
Daniel L. Russell, of North Carolina, and Leonidas C. Houck, of Ten-
nessee. Ohio sent two noteworthy Democrats Frank H. Hurd, an
earnest advocate of free trade, and A. J. Warner, an equally earnest
advocate of free silver. In the Senate were Henry W. Blair, of New
Hampshire, and Orville H. Platt, of Connecticut, the latter a Repub-
lican, who succeeded William H. Barnum, Democrat. After an ab-
sence of two years, General Logan was again in the Senate from Illi-
nois as the successor of Mr. Oglesby. Mr. Chandler, of Michigan, after
a brief experience in the Cabinet, w r as also back in the seat he had
occupied for many years. His death occurred before the close of the
year. On the Democratic side of the chamber the most conspicuous
figure was George H. Pendleton, of Ohio. As the leader of the mi-
nority in the House during the war, he had the advantage of a long
legislative experience. The Southern States were now represented al-
most entirely by Democrats, William Pitt Kellogg, of Louisiana, and
Blanche K. Bruce, of Mississippi, being the only remaining Repub-
licans. The new Senators from the South included: Zebulon B.
Vance, of North Carolina; John S. Williams, of Kentucky, and George
G. Vest, of Missouri. It was said at the time that the rebel brigadiers
were again in the saddle.

Although the Democrats had a majority in both houses of Con-
gress for the first time in almost a quarter of a century six in the
Senate, and, with their Greenback allies, thirty in the House they
were powerless under a Republican President, except in the matter
of the use of troops at the polls, in which President Hayes was in ac-
cord with Southern sentiment. In spite of his surrender on w r hat
was the vital question with the South, the " Fraudulent President,"


as the Democracy persisted in calling General Hayes throughout his
administration failed to conciliate the vindictive feeling which at-
tended his peculiar accession to power. The revolution in the House
of Representatives in 1874, and the subsequent supremacy of the Dem-
ocrats in Congress, have delayed the history of a series of events that
were the most potent causes in giving vitality to the reaction, the ef-
fects of which continued to be felt for nearly a quarter of a century.



Incipient Movement for a Third Term for General Grant Possible
Republican Candidates for President Mr. Elaine The Mulligan
Letters Senator Morton Secretary Bristow and the Whisky
King Organization of the Republican National Convention of
187(5 The Platform Nominations and the Ballots Rutherford
B. Hayes Nominated William A. Wheeler for Vice-President
Rise of Samuel J. Tilden His Methods and Nomination The
Campaign Doubtful Results of the Elections.

N 1876, for the first time since I860, the nomination of a
Presidential candidate by the Republicans was not a fore-
gone conclusion in advance of the meeting of the nominat-
ing body. There was some talk in the sensational news-
papers of giving General Grant a third term, but apparently these
journals only suggested it so that they might vehemently oppose it.
There certainly was no organized movement with this object in view.
It continued to be persistently asserted, however, that General Grant
desired to be again a candidate, and the Republicans of Pennsylvania
allowed themselves to become so fully convinced of the allegation that
in 1875 the Republican State Convention adopted a resolution declar-
ing unalterable opposition to the election to the Presidency of any
person for a third term. This called out a letter from General Grant
to General Harry White, the President of the Pennsylvania Con-
vention, in which he said : " Now for the third term. I do not want it,
any more than I did the first "; but because, he added, that the people
were not restricted to two terms by the Constitution, that the time
might come when it would be unfortunate to make a change at the
end of eight years, and that he " would not accept a nomination if it
were tendered, unless it should come under such circumstances as to
make it an imperative duty circumstances not likely to rise." it
was boldly proclaimed that these phrases meant that it was an imper-
ative duty for the Republicans again to nominate Grant, and for
Grant to accept. How utterly baseless was the story of Grant's can-
didature was shown by a vote of the House of Representatives in De-
cember, 1875. An Illinois Democrat offered a resolution, " that, in
the opinion of this House, the precedent established by Washington
and other Presidents of the United States, in retiring from the Presi-
dential office after their second term, has become by universal con-


curreuce a part of our Republican system of government, and that
any departure from this time-honored custom would be unwise, un-
patriotic, and fraught with peril to our institutions." It was adopted
by a vote of 234 to 18. This ended all talk of a third term for the
time being, and the people began seriously to think of a candidate
for a first term.

The second nomination of Mr. Lincoln, and the two nominations
of General Grant being practically unopposed, had opened the way
for an entirely new set of Republican candidates for the Presidency,
after sixteen years of Republican supremacy. The great leaders of
the party in the formative and war periods were either dead or in re-
tirement. It happened, as a consequence, that none of the men sug-
gested for the nomination in 1876 was ever before a candidate before
a National Convention. With new men and new issues to engage the
attention and absorb the interest of the people, the preliminary dis-
cussion of the claims of candidates took a very wide range. Alto-
gether seven contestants developed sufficient strength in advance of
the convention to make the nomination of any one of them a possibil-
ity. These seven candidates were: James G. Elaine, of Maine; Oliver
P. Morton, of Indiana; Benjamin H. Bristow, of Kentucky; Roscoe
Conkling, of New York; Rutherford B. Hayes, of Ohio; John F. Hart-
ranft, of Pennsylvania, and Marshall Jewell, of Connecticut.

It became apparent early in the preliminary canvass that Mr. Blame
was far in advance of all his competitors in popularity and prestige.
As Speaker of the House of Representatives, he developed qualifica-
tions for political leadership that he had failed to show at the be-
ginning of his career. After six years in the chair he added greatly
to his strength with the people as the leader of the Republican mi-
nority in the 44th Congress. But his brilliancy, his daring, and his
achievements made him enemies as well as friends. These enmities
became an active element in his canvass at the critical moment when
his success seemed assured. No assault upon a Presidential aspirant
was ever more bitter and vindictive. The assault was deferred until
within a few days of the meeting of the Republican National Conven-
tion at Cincinnati, which was set for June 14. It took shape in a
resolution of the House of Representatives to investigate the Pacific
Railroad, which, it was hinted, would include an investigation of
Mr. Blaine's transactions in railroad bonds. The insinuations were
that he had been bribed by a gift of bonds of the Fort Smith and Little
Rock Railroad Company to use his influence in Congress in behalf of
that road, and it was asserted that a number of his letters were in
existence that showed guilty complicity in the affairs of the company.
This was the correspondence that became widely known as the " Mul-



ligan letters." The letters related to some investments of Mr. Blaine
in Fort Smith and Little Rock bonds, but there was no proof that the
transactions were not entirely innocent. These letters had been se-
cured by a man named Mulligan, by whom they were shown to the
committee charged with the Pacific Railroad investigation. When
Mr. Blaine heard of the use that was being made of his letters, he
went to Mulligan, and, after considerable entreaty, succeeded in ob-
taining the correspondence. The possession of the letters was fol-
lowed by an act of remarkable daring and courage. Instead of de-
stroying or concealing the supposed proofs of his guilt, he went into
the House on June 5, only nine days before the Cincinnati Convention,
and, making it a question of personal privilege, read the entire cor-
respondence and had it printed in
the record. This intrepid action
broke the effect of the insinuations
and surmises by means of which
Mr. Elaine's enemies were seeking
to prevent his nomination, but even
such intrepidity was not entirely
effective, and his failure a fortnight
later must be attributed to this
cause. Some of the delegates be-
lieved the charges to be true, and
among those who disbelieved them
there were some who thought it
dangerous to nominate a man who
was so seriously assailed. Another
unfortunate circumstance that
probably cost Mr. Blaine some
votes was a temporary prostration
by sunstroke on the Sunday preceding the Convention.

After Mr. Blaine, the most prominent of the candidates for the
nomination was Senator Morton. His acknowledged ability, his zeal
as a party man, and his services as the War Governor of Indiana dur-
ing the Rebellion, and in the Senate in the period of Reconstruction,
entitled him to respectful consideration, and would have made him a
formidable candidate for President. Mr. Bristow's pretensions to
the nomination were a sign of the unrest in the party. He was not
a man of great popularity, wide reputation, or eminent ability, but
owed his temporary prominence entirely to his connection with Presi-
dent Grant's administration as Secretary of the Treasury. He was
one of General Grant's discoveries, succeeding William A. Richardson
in the Treasury Department. For a number of years the heavy tax



on distilled spirits had been a great temptation to fraud in the pro-
duction of whisky, and combinations existed in many parts of the
countrj 7 , especially in the West, by which the tax was evaded. Sec-
retary Bristow set for himself the task of ferreting out the " Whisky
Rings," and exposing and punishing frauds upon the revenue. His
operations were conducted with great secrecy, and, for a time, were
very successful. His methods created the impression that he was
acting independently of the Administration, if not in conflict with it.
Among those who were accused of complicity with these frauds was
General Babcock, one of the President's secretaries. This not only
involved a number of persons near the President, but even President
Grant, in suspicions of insincerity in prosecuting the men guilty of
frauds upon the revenue, while the credit for the prosecutions that
was withheld from the Administration was freely bestowed upon the
Secretary of the Treasury. In this way Mr. Bristow was able to de-
velop surprising strength as a Presidential candidate, becoming the
favorite of the sincere and honest Republicans who were urgent for
administrative reform. Senator Conkling was backed by the powerful
delegation from his own State, and was aided, besides, by the good
will and good wishes of General Grant. He was not eager for the
nomination for himself, but he entered the convention determined to
beat Blaine, in which he succeeded. Neither Governor Hayes, of
Ohio, nor Governor Hartranft, of Pennsylvania, was regarded as for-
midable at any time previous to the convention, and the delegation
secured the nomination for the Ohio candidate only because the dele-
gates from Pennsylvania made no serious effort to obtain it for Hart-
ranft. Governor Jewell had no support beyond the delegation from
his own State.

The Republican National Convention of 1870 was as noteworthy as
any of the great national councils of the party that had preceded it.
Among the distinguished delegates from the different States were:
Eugene Hale, William P. Frye, Nelson Dingley, Jr., and Charles A.
Boutelle, of Maine; E. Rockwood and George F. Hoar, Richard H.
Dana, Jr., and James Russell Lowell, of Massachusetts; Governor
Van Zandt and Nelson W. Aldrich,,of Rhode Island; General Hawley
and Samuel Fessenden, of Connecticut; George William Curtis,
Alonzo B. Cornell, Theodore M. Pomeroy, Stewart L. Woodford, Clar-
ence A. Seward, William H. Robertson, Frank Hiscock, Thomas C.
Platt, James N. Matthews, and Charles Emory Smith, of New York;
William J. Sewell, George A. Halsey, and Garret A. Hobart, of New
Jersey; J. Donald Cameron, p]dward McPherson, John Cessna, Henry
M. Hoyt, and Henry H. Bingham, of Pennsylvania; the venerable
Senator Wade and Governor Noyes, of Ohio; Henry P. Baldwin and


William A. Howard, of Michigan ; John M. Harlan and James Speed,
of Kentucky; Charles B. Farwell and Robert G. Ingersoll, of Illinois;
Richard W. Thompson, of Indiana; Nathan Goff, Jr., of West Vir-
ginia; Philetns Sawyer, of Wisconsin; Alexander Ramsey and Dwight
M. Sabin, of Minnesota; Jerome B. Chaffee and Henry M. Teller, of
Colorado; John P. Jones, of Nevada; and Governor Packard and Sen-
ator Kellogg, of Louisiana. These, it will be observed, included a
number of names, new to this history, that afterward took a con-
spicuous place in the annals of the party.

Theodore M. Ponieroy, of New York, was made temporary chair-
man of the Convention, and Edward McPherson, of Pennsylvania,
permanent President. Mr. McPherson had been a member of Con-
gress early in the war, and Clerk of the National House of Repre-
sentatives during the entire period of Mr. Elaine's Speakership. Gen-
eral Hawley was chairman of the Committee on Resolutions to which
was committed a task scarcely less important than the duty that de-
volved upon the Convention of nominating a ticket. On only one
question was there a marked divergence of views in the Committee in
framing the Platform. This difference was in regard to the financial
policy of the party. The Resumption Act of 1875, providing for a
return to specie payments in 1879, was thought by some members of
the committee to be premature, and there were doubts of the wis-
dom of its explicit indorsement. A long debate ensued, but it w r as
finally determined to intrust the whole duty of framing a platform to
a sub-committee, comprising General Hawley, former Attorney-Gen-
eral Speed, Governor Dingley, of Maine; Governor Chamberlain, of
South Carolina; Governor Waters, of Arkansas; James II. Howe, of
Wisconsin, and Charles Emory Smith, of New York. This Commit-
tee succeeded in framing a Platform that was clear and emphatic on
the leading issues. Starting with a reaffirmation of the cardinal
truths contained in the Declaration of Independence, suggested by

Online LibraryGeorge Oberkirsh SeilhamerHistory of the Republican party (Volume 1) → online text (page 36 of 61)