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toral Commission was by viva voce vote in the Senate and House.
The tacit understanding was that the Senate should appoint three
Republicans and two Democrats, and the House three Democrats and
two Republicans. This was done as follows:

SENATORS George F. Edmunds, Oliver P. Morton, and Frederick
T. Frelinghuysen, Republicans; and Thomas F. Bayard and Allen G.
Thurman, Democrats.

REPRESENTATIVES Henry B. Payne, Eppa Hunton, and Josiah G.
Abbott, Democrats; and James A. Garfield and George F. Hoar, Re-

The four Justices of the Supreme Court absolutely appointed by the
terms of the act were Nathan Clifford, Samuel F. Miller, Stephen
J. Field, and William Strong. It was considered certain, when the
Senate voted on January 24, that Justice Davis would be the choice
of his four judicial associates, but on the following day, the 25th, he
was elected a Senator of the United States by the Illinois Legisla-
ture. Chosen by a Democratic Legislature, and reckoned as a Demo-
crat, there would have been manifest impropriety in his selection, in
view of the previous contention of the Democratic members of the
House Committee that he was not a Democrat. Justice Davis's ac-
ceptance of an election so unexpected and so fatuous from the Demo-
cratic standpoint, removed him from the list of possibilities for the
fifth judgeship of the Commission, and the four judges designated by
the act unanimously agreed upon Justice Joseph P. Bradley.

The Electoral Commission was organized January 31, 1877. The
next day the two Houses of Congress met in the Representatives'
Chamber to count the vote. The galleries were packed with a vast


multitude of spectators, black and white. In the corridors there was
an eager, pushing throng of people from every State in the Union.
The Capitol palpitated with suppressed excitement. When the two
Houses were seated Senator Thomas W. Ferry, of Michigan, presi-
dent pro tcmpore of the Senate, took the chair. Speaker Randall sat
by his side. The certificates containing the electoral votes of the
States were opened, one by one, in alphabetical order by acting Vice-
President Ferry, and by him handed to the tellers to be announced
and recorded. The votes of Alabama and Arkansas were recorded
for Tilden. Then California, Colorado, and Connecticut were counted
for Hayes. When the three votes of Delaware were set down for
Tilden there was a hush of expectation that meant that the critical
moment had come. Florida was reached. The chair announced
two sets of returns, saying that under the law these must go to the
Electoral Commission. The joint convention then took a recess to
await the action of the Commission, and the interest was transferred
to the historic chamber occupied by the Supreme Court.

The fifteen members of the Electoral Commission occupied the
bench of the Justices of the Supreme Court. The five judges formed
the center of the group, Justice Clifford, the senior judge, presiding.
On the right of the judges were the five Senators, and on the left the
five Representatives. Before this august tribunal was an array of
counsel eminent for forensic ability and learning. On the Repub-
lican side were William M. Evarts, Stanley Matthews, E. W.
Stoughton, and Samuel Shellabarger. In behalf of the Democratic
claim there was an array still more formidable and distinguished.
It comprised Jeremiah S. Black, Charles O'Conor, John A. Campbell,
formerly of the Supreme Court; Lyman Trumbull, Montgomery Blair,
Ashbel Green, George Hoadly, Richard T. Merrick, William C. Whit-
ney, and Alexander Porter Morse.

The allegations in behalf of the Tilden returns were that the Hayes
electors were not duly chosen; that the certificate of the Governor to
their election was the result of a conspiracy; that its validity, if any,
had been annulled by a subsequent certificate by the Governor, to the
effect that the Tilden electors were chosen; that a court decision made
certain the election of the Democratic electors; and that one of the
Republican electors was a Shipping Commissioner under appoint-
ment from the Government of the United States at the time of his
election, and was therefore disqualified. The Republican objection
to the Tilden votes was that the returns were not duly authenticated
by any person holding at the time an office under the State of
Florida. These questions were argued at great length, the case
claiming the attention of the Commission until February 7, when it


was decided. The decision was that it was not competent for the
Commission " to go into evidence aliunde the papers opened by the
President of the Senate, to prove that other persons than those regu-
larly certified by the Governor " were appointed. With reference to
the case of the elector alleged to have been disqualified, it was de-
cided that the evidence did not show that he held an office on the day
of his appointment. Each of the fifteen members of the Commission
read his opinion in secret session, fourteen of them being evenly di-
vided seven in favor of the Tilden electors, and seven in favor of
the Hayes electors. This placed the final responsibility for the de-
cision upon Justice Bradley, who was the last to be heard. His dec-
laration that his vote must be given for counting the Florida vote for
Hayes divided the Commission on party lines, eight to seven. When
the result was known the disappointment and chagrin of the Demo-
crats were exceedingly keen and bitter. They at once declared that
they were being defrauded, that Mr. Hayes was to obtain title against
the law and the evidence, that Hayes was to occupy the place that
the people had voted to confer upon Tilden. Justice Bradley was
made a target for abuse more virulent than had been exhibited in
assailing a Judge of the Supreme Court since the attempt to impeach
Samuel Chase in 1805. The men who had supported the Commis-
sion when they expected to profit by it through Justice Davis now
denounced it because it had failed them through Justice Bradley.
" The Democrats of the Commission," wrote Mr. Cox, " felt the
humiliation of this departure from constitutional methods. Judge
Bradley would never have been guilty of such stultification unless he
had deliberately decided to accept its full consequences and to
gather its substantial fruits. Such an excoriation as Mr. Payne, the
Nestor of the House Commission, gave this unjust judge for his be-
trayal of the high trust reposed in him has probably not been heard
since Sheridan's philippic against Hastings. Sadder, but wiser men,
were the Democratic i seven ' when they marched out of the Supreme
Court room that memorable afternoon." The outcry thus begun was
repeated so continuously and persistently that the mass of the
Democratic party was made to believe that the Electoral Commis-
sion was a trap; that Mr. Tilden was a victim of a conspiracy; that
Mr. Hayes was to be made a fraudulent President. Even Justice
Field joined in the denunciations, and in the condemnation of the
tribunal of which he was a member. " The country," he said, " may
submit to the result, but it will never cease to regard our action as
unjust, and as calculated to sap the foundations of public morality."

The eight members of the Commission who certified the result were:
Justices Miller, Strong, and Bradley; Senators Edmunds, Morton,


and Frelinghuyseu, and Representatives Hoar and Garfield. The
two Houses again met on February 10 and received this decision.
Formal objection was made to the decision of the Electoral Com-
mission, and the Houses separated to consider it. The Senate, by a
strict party vote, decided that the votes should be counted. The
House of Representatives, by a vote which was on party lines, ex-
cept that one Democrat voted with the Republicans, voted that the
electoral votes given by the Tilden electors should be counted. The
two Houses not having agreed in rejecting the decision of the Com-
mission, it stood, and the joint session was resumed. The votes of
Florida having been recorded, the count proceeded until Louisiana
was reached. This was the second case for the Electoral Commis-
sion, and another recess was taken to await the decision.

The Commission met on February 12 to hear and determine the
Louisiana case. As in the case of Florida, the Republican objec-
tions to the Tilden returns were brief and formal. It was claimed
that the Kellogg government had been recognized by every depart-
ment of the Government of the United States as the true govern-
ment of Louisiana, and that the certificates of the Hayes electors cer-
tified by him were in due form. The Democrats made a great variety
of objections to the Hayes votes. They asserted that John McEnery
was the lawful Governor of the State; that the certificates asserting
the appointment of the Hayes electors were false; and that the can-
vass of votes by the Returning Board was without jurisdiction and
void. Special objection was made to three of the electors: two of
them as being disqualified, under the Constitution, and the third,
Governor Kellogg, because he certified to his own election. Among
the arguments, one of the most eloquent was made by Mr. Carpenter,
the former Republican Senator from Wisconsin, who disclaimed ap-
pearing for Mr. Tilden. " He is a gentleman," Mr. Carpenter said,
" whose acquaintance I have not the honor of; with whom I have no
sympathy; against whom I voted on the seventh day of November
last; and if this tribunal could order a new trial, I should vote against
him again, believing, as I do, that the accession of the Democratic
party to power in this country to-day would be the greatest calamity
that could befall the people, except one; and that one greater calam-
ity would be to keep him out by fraud and falsehood." After this dis-
claimer, he added: " I appear here for ten thousand legal voters of
Louisiana, who, without accusation or proof, indictment or trial,
notice or hearing, have been disfranchised by four villains, incor-
porated with perpetual session, whose official title is ' the Returning
Board of Louisiana.' " An attempt was made to introduce testimony
before the Commission, the propositions including offers to prove that


ten thousand votes cast for Tilden had been discarded by the Re-
turning Board in order to count in Mr. Hayes; to show that the Re-
turning Board was unconstitutional and its acts void; that it was
not legally constituted, and had no jurisdiction; and that statements
as to riot, tumult, and other wrongs were forged by the Board. All
these offers, and a number of others, were ruled out by the Com-
mission by the usual vote of eight to seven, and the Electoral vote
of Louisiana was ordered to be counted for Hayes.

When the decision in the Louisiana case was submitted to the joint
convention on February 19, objections were made, and the two Houses
separated to act upon them. The Senate voted by 41 to 28 that the
decision should stand a strict party vote but in the House there
was a slight Republican defection, two Republicans voting with the
Democrats. One of these was Professor Seelye, afterward President
of Amherst College, who declared his inability to see the justice of
counting the vote of Louisiana for either Hayes or Tilden. The vote
was 173 against, to 99 in favor, of accepting the result.

On the 20th the two Houses resumed the count, but only the re-
turns from Maryland and Massachusetts were disposed of without dis-
pute, objection being made by the Democrats that one of the Repub-
lican electors of Michigan held a Federal office at the time of his elec-
tion. This objection was overruled by each House separately, and
then the count proceeded. Similar action was taken in regard to an
elector for Nevada. The next dispute was over the Oregon post-
master whose election had been set aside by the Democratic Gov-
ernor. As this was a case for the Electoral Commission, there was
another recess to allow it to be heard. The Commission decided
unanimously against the made-up vote of the electors, which gave
one vote to Tilden, but again divided eight to seven on counting the
entire vote of the State for Hayes. The results in the two Houses
were the usual divisions on party lines. Objection was made to one
of the Pennsylvania electors that he was a Centennial Commissioner.
The other electors, regarding him as ineligible, treated the place as
vacant, and chose another person to fill it. The Senate agreed, with-
out a division, to a resolution that the vote be counted. The House
rejected it, 135 to 119, the affirmative consisting entirely of Demo-
crats, and the negative containing only 15 of that party. The full
vote of Pennsylvania was accordingly counted under the law, the
two Houses not having agreed to reject. Rhode Island furnished a
case not very different, but the two Houses this time concurred
unanimously in deciding that the disputed vote should be counted.
This brought the count to South Carolina, the last of the cases for the
Electoral Commission.


The dispute over the South Carolina returns rested on the claim
of the Democrats that no legal election had been held in the State,
and that the army and the Deputy United States Marshals stationed
at and near the polls prevented the free exercise of the right of suf-
frage. The Republicans asserted that the Tilden board was not duly
appointed, and that the certificates were wholly defective in form,
and lacking the necessary official certification. The papers having
been referred to the Electoral Commission, that body met again on
the 26th. Senator Thurman was obliged to retire from service upon
the Commission on account of illness, and Senator Francis Kernan
was substituted for him. After a day devoted to arguments, the
Commission voted unanimously that the Tilden electors were not the
true electors of South Carolina, and, by the old majority of eight to
seven, that the Hayes electors were the constitutional electors duly
appointed. The two Houses separated upon objections to the de-
cision of the Commission, and as before, the Senate sustained the find-
ing, while the House voted to reject it.

There were two further objections, the first to a vote cast by an
elector for Vermont, substituted for an ineligible person who had
been chosen by the people, on which the result was the same as in
the other similar cases; and finally, a case of the same kind in Wis-
consin, which was decided in like manner. The Vermont case was
complicated by the presentation by Mr. Hewitt, of New York, of a
packet purporting to contain a return of electoral votes given in
Vermont. The President of the Senate having received no such vote,
nor any vote different from that of the regularly chosen Hayes elec-
tors, refused to receive it. The Wisconsin case was simple enough.
One of the electors was a pension surgeon under the United States,
and it was claimed that he was ineligible. The Senate voted to sus-
tain the eligibility of the elector, but the House was still in session
on March 2, without result, when the doorkeeper announced the
Senate of the United States for the joint convention of the two
Houses. The failure of the House of Representatives to act was not
a bar to the count. The vote of Wisconsin was counted, and the
count of the thirty-eight States being concluded, the result was an-
nounced, 185 electoral votes for Hayes and Wheeler, 184 votes for
Tilden and Hendricks. After the Senate had filed out of the hall,
the House, which had been in continuous session for thirty-one days,

A sequel to the Electoral count was the discovery of the dis-
patches in cipher that had passed between Mr. Tilden's alleged agents
in New York and persons interested in securing electoral votes for
Tilden in South Carolina, Florida, and Oregon. During an inquiry


into the Oregon case by a Senate Committee some thirty thousand
political telegrams (mainly in cipher) had been brought into the cus-
tody of the committee by subpoenas to the Western Union Telegraph
Company. The great mass of these telegrams was returned to the
company without translation. About seven hundred, however, had
been retained by an employee of the Committee. These dispatches,
when translated, revealed astonishing attempts at bribery in order
to secure Tilden electors. Smith M. Weed, a " visiting statesman "
from New York to South Carolina, telegraphed to W. T. Pelton, Mr.
Tilden's nephew, November 16, 1876, that " the Board demanded
$75,000 for giving us two or three electors," and that " something be-
yond will be needful for the interceder, say $10,000." Two days later
Mr. Weed telegraphed: " Majority of Board have been secured. Cost
is $80,000; one parcel to be sent of $65,000, one of $10,000, one of
$5,000; all to be given in $500 or $1,000 bills; notes to be accepted as
parties accept, and given up upon votes of South Carolina being
given to Tilden's friends. Do this at once, and have cash ready to
reach Baltimore Sunday night." But before the money could be ob-
tained and taken to South Carolina the Canvassing Board reported
the returns to the Court, showing on their face the election of Hayes
electors. This put an end to the attempt at bribing the Canvassing
Board, but not to the efforts to secure South Carolina electors for
Tilden. In Florida, Manton Marble and C. W. Woolley, of New York,
acted with Mr. Pelton. On November 22 Marble telegraphed to Pel-
ton:" Woolley asked me to say, let forces be got together immediately
for contingencies either here or in Louisiana." This followed a few
days later: " Have just received a proposition to hand over at any
time required, Tilden decision of Board and certificate of Governor,
for $200,000." When Pelton answered, " Proposition too high," Mar-
ble and Woolley made renewed efforts, and found that an elector could
be had for f 50,000. As Pelton decided that " they could not draw
until the vote of the elector was received," this attempt at bribery
also failed. In this correspondence Mr. Marble figured as " Moses."
His last message to Pelton was in these words: " Proposition failed.
Finished responsibility as Moses. Last night Woolley found me,
and said he had nothing, which I knew already. Tell Tilden to saddle
Blackstone." The Oregon negotiations were conducted by J. N. H.
Patrick, who was deputed for the work by George L. Miller, a
member of the Democratic National Committee for Nebraska. On
November 28, Patrick telegraphed Mr. Pelton that Governor Grover
would issue a certificate of election to one Democratic elector (Cro-
nin), and added, " Must purchase Republican elector to recognize and
act with the Democrat, and secure vote to prevent trouble. Deposit


),000 to my credit." This telegram was indorsed " Kelly." Mr. Pel-
ton replied to Mr. Patrick, " If you will make obligation contingent
on result in March, it will be done, and incremable slightly if neces-
sary," and was answered that the fee could not be made contingent;
whereupon the sum of f 8,000 was deposited to his credit on December
1, in New York, but intelligence of it reached Oregon too late to carry
out any attempt to corrupt a Republican elector. Thus it will be seen
that a Presidential canvass that began with loud protests of the ne-
cessity of reform was supplemented by persistent and shameless
efforts to bribe the electors of three States.



The Cabinet Secretary Sherman and Resumption Civil-Service Re-
form Early Appointments and Removals The Spoils System
Thomas A. Jenckes, the Pioneer Civil-Service Reformer The
Commission of 1871 Competitive Examinations Introduced
Restriction of Chinese Immigration Propositions Affecting the
Election of President and Vice-President, and the Method of
Counting the Electoral Votes Rule Adopted in 1881.

HE Administration of President Hayes, coming into power
under the conditions described in the preceding chapter,
could not fail to excite and receive the bitter hostility of
the Democratic party. The Electoral count was treated
by the Democratic press and Democratic politicians as a conspiracy,
and Hayes was regarded merely as a de facto Executive. Even his
surrender to the South by the withdrawal of the troops from the
Southern States failed to soften the bitterness of Democratic de-
nunciation, while it estranged many radical Republicans. Senator
Conkling was conspicuous in opposition, as were also Senator
Logan and the younger Cameron when he entered the Senate. The
Cabinet was a strong one, likely to be helpful in making a popular
administration. With such advisers as William M. Evarts, Sec-
retary of State; John Sherman, Secretary of the Treasury; and
George W. McCrary, Secretary of War, the three leading Depart-
ments of the Government were under as able direction as in any
previous administration. The other selections Richard W.Thompson
as Secretary of the Navy, Carl Schurz as Secretary of the Interior,
David M. Key as Postmaster-General, and Charles Devens as At-
torney-General were less happily made, but none of them excited
violent antagonisms. General Schurz, it is true, had bitterly as-
sailed President Grant in the Senate, but he was not yet regarded as
hopelessly out of sympathy with the party. That the Cabinet was
chosen to foster the growing independent sentiment in the Repub-
lican ranks must be admitted, but in this respect it was not able to
exert any marked political influence. Upon the whole, the tendency
of the Hayes Administration was to soften party asperities, although
these broke out with increased virulence upon the accession of Presi-
dent Hayes's successor.


The most noteworthy achievement of the Administration of Presi-
dent Hayes was the resumption of specie payments, January 1, 1879.
Generous credit must be accorded to Secretary Sherman for its ac-
complishment in despite of Republican doubts and Democratic oppo-
sition. In the Senate Mr. Sherman was the principal advocate of
the Resumption Act of 1875. Not a single Democratic member of the
Senate supported the measure, and two Republicans Sprague, of
Rhode Island, and Tipton, of Nebraska voted against it; and in the
House fully twenty Republicans opposed it, some like Judge Kelley,
of Pennsylvania, who regarded it as premature, and others like the
Messrs. Hoar and Mr. Dawes, of Massachusetts, and General Haw-
ley, of Connecticut, who thought the time set for resumption too far
in the future, and the means provided for its accomplishment inade-
quate. The demand for the repeal of the Resumption Act was made
a cardinal principle in the Democratic platform of 1876, and it
would have been repealed by the 45th Congress if the Democrats had
had a majority in both Houses. Among those against repeal in
1878 was General Garfield. " Only twelve years have passed," he
said, " for as late as 1865 this House, with but six dissenting votes,
resolved again to stand by the old ways and bring the country back
to sound money only twelve years have passed, and what do we
find? We find a group of theorists and doctrinaires, who look upon
the wisdom of the fathers as foolishness. We find some who advo-
cate what they call 'absolute money'; who declare that a piece of
paper stamped a ' dollar ' is a dollar; that gold and silver are a part
of the barbarism of the past, which ought to be forever abandoned. We
hear them declaring that resumption is a delusion and a snare. We
hear them declaring that the eras of prosperity are the eras of paper
money. They point us to all times of inflation as periods of blessing
to the people and prosperity to business, and they ask us no more to
vex their ears with any allusions to the old standard the money of
the Constitution. Let the wild swarm of financial literature that has
sprung into life within the last twelve years witness how widely and
how far we have drifted. We have lost our old moorings, and have
thrown overboard our old compass; we sail by alien stars, looking not
for the haven, but are afloat on a harborless sea. Suppose you undo
the work that Congress has attempted, to resume specie payment,
what will result? You will depreciate the value of the greenback.
Suppose it falls ten cents on the dollar? You will have destroyed
ten per cent, of the value of every deposit in the savings banks, ten
per cent, of every life insurance policy and fire insurance policy, of

Online LibraryGeorge Oberkirsh SeilhamerHistory of the Republican party (Volume 1) → online text (page 39 of 61)