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spirit, they send weak or reckless men beyond the bounds of right or
reason? This assassin, it seems, was not ignorant that he was trying
to kill one President and make another. His language and letters


prove that be knew what he was doing only too well. As ' a Stalwart
of the Stalwarts,' his passion w r as intense enough to do the thing
which other reckless men had wished were done." Outside of New
York the imputations were even more direct. " The Stalwarts,"
said the Baltimore American, " have indeed destroyed the President at
last. What the ultimate consequences of this coup d'etat will be it is
impossible at this moment to predict." " Guiteau is a miserable
ne'er-do-well," exclaimed the Springfield Republican, " who shares the
common feeling that all the offices are in the dispensation of the Presi-
dent of the United States, and that he has a claim on that functionary
for patronage. He is in sympathy with Arthur and Conkling in the
struggle over the New York Custom House. His wits have become
only a degree more disordered than those of Conkling himself, and,
being a much w r eaker and feebler man, his vengeance has taken the
direct and vulgar form of a pistol shot, rather than the more re-
fined form of resigning the seats of the Republican majority in the
United States Senate and demanding a vindication from the State of
New York." " While no sane man," said the Chicago Tribune, " will
admit a suspicion that this attempted assassination has any connec-
tion with the New York case, still on the theory that this assassin
was deranged in his mind, and taking his ow r n letters as indicating
the direction of his insanity, no one will question that had not the
factious controversy taken place this attempted murder would not
have suggested itself to this man Guiteau." Such outcries as these
only tended to embitter faction, and they helped to extend a feud
that concerned only the New York offices to nearly every State in the

It is not true, however, that the great feud of 1881, greatly promoted
as it was by the two senatorial contests in New York, had its origin
in Mr. Conkling's quarrel with the Administration. In Pennsylvania
there had been a faction fight between the " Regulars " and the " In-
dependents," over the election of a Senator of the United States to
succeed William A. W T allace, that was not less bitter than the con-
test between the " Stalwarts " and the " Half-breeds " in New York.
When the Pennsylvania Legislature met in January, 1881, Henry W.
Oliver, Jr., received the nomination of the Republican caucus for
United States Senator. Galusha A. Grow, the vigorous Republican
leader of the early days of the party, desired to become a candidate,
but his friends, finding themselves a minority, refused to enter the
caucus. The result was that Oliver was supported by the " Regu-
lars," while Grow became the candidate of the " Independents." An
election consequently became impossible. While the " deadlock "
lasted both the candidates withdrew, with a view of breaking it, but




as the " Kegulars " substituted General James A. Beaver for Mr. Oliv-
er, the " Independents " refused to accept him, General Beaver having
been the Grant leader of the Pennsylvania delegation at Chicago, in
1880. After many fruitless efforts at compromise between the lead-
ers on both sides, the two factions agreed to conference committees to
select a candidate by a three-fourths vote. These committees found
it difficult to agree, but finally John I. Mitchell, Representative in
Congress from the Sixteenth District, was accepted, and after being
nominated in a full caucus, elected. This settlement, however, failed
to compose the differences in the party, and the effects of the feud
were felt in the State election in the autumn of 1881, and culminated

in open revolt in the election for Gov-
ernor in 1882.

The accession of President Arthur
upon the death of President Gar-
field, September 19, 1881, was not a
factor in the Pennsylvania election
of that year. In 1882, when the " In-
dependents " nominated John Stew-
art for Governor in opposition to
General James A. Beaver, the candi-
date of the " Kegulars," dissatisfac-
tion with Arthur's Administration
was very pronounced. The Republi-
cans who nominated Stewart de-
clared it to be their purpose to take
up the work that fell when Garfield
fell. They professed to have found
in Garfield's election "the triumph
of true reform in the Civil Service,
and of an enlarged liberty of action

for the masses of the Republican party in the nomination of their
candidates and in the conduct of their party affairs," and deplored
the overwhelming evidence presented in Pennsylvania "that the ca-
lamity of his assassination has been followed by the overthrow
of these reforms in the hands of his successor." These allegations
were without any foundation in fact. It was the nomination of Gen-
eral Beaver, the supremacy of " the machine," that the independ-
ent platform called "Boss Rule," that caused the revolt of 1882.
As the differences could not be, or at least were not recon-
ciled, the election of Robert E. Pattison, the Democratic candidate,
was the result. This result was intended as a drastic measure of dis-
cipline to compel the " Regulars " to recognize the independent ele-



ment in the party. The faction in itself was not new, either in 1882,
when it defeated General Beaver for Governor, or in 1881, when it
prevented the election of Mr. Oliver as United States Senator. There
had been two Republican factions in Pennsylvania ever since the
birth of the party. There are two factions still, and open revolt in
any year is only a question of opportunity to arouse opposition to
the dominating forces.

In New York the influences and the results in 1882 were almost
identical with those in Pennsylvania. The Democrats in their State
Convention discarded their party favorites and nominated an entirely
new man for Governor. The candidate of Tammany Hall was Eos-
well P. Flower. Hisprincipal opponent was General Henry W. Slocum.
On the third ballot Tammany deserted Flower and threw the full
strength of that powerful organization for Grover Cleveland. Cleve-
land had been Sheriff of Erie County, and was at the time Mayor of
his city. He had had no legislative experience, and was never promi-
nent in the politics of the State. He was, however, a man of local re-
pute as an independent and efficient executive in the office he then
held. His nomination was due to the fact that he was free from the
entanglements and antagonisms in the politics of the State, and es-
pecially in the City of New York. The Republican candidate was
Charles J. Folger, then Secretary of the Treasury, as the successor of
Mr. Windom in the Cabinet of President Arthur. He was a man of
great ability and large experience. He had served in the State Sen-
ate, and had been Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals. A better
nomination apparently was impossible. But there were many ele-
ments of discontent. The principal cause of dissatisfaction w r as the
defeat of Governor Cornell in the State Convention by the use of a
forged telegram. The " Half-breeds " opposed Folger on the as-
sumption that he was the candidate of the National Administration.
Although there was no independent nomination, as in Pennsylvania,
fully two hundred thousand Republicans refrained from voting, and
the result was Mr. Cleveland's election by a majority of 192,854. The
defection was attributed by the " Stalwarts " to the influence of Mr.
Blaine, and this imputation cost him the Electoral vote of the State in
the Presidential election of 1884.

Political discontent was manifest in other States besides Pennsyl-
vania and New York, in 1882. There were Republican defections in
Massachusetts, Connecticut, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Nebras-
ka, Kansas, Colorado, and California. The ground of opposition in
nearly all these States was the alleged necessity of opposing " Boss
Rule." This opprobrious term had been used by the Republicans of
New York in opposing the " Tweed Ring," but it was first applied to


Republican politics by Wayne McVeagh at Chicago in 1880, when
he used it in street speeches against the nomination of General Grant.
Afterward every political leader who possessed actual influence in
State or municipal politics, was denounced as a " boss," and " Down
with Boss Rule!" became the cry of dissatisfied Republicans in all
parts of the country. The phrase only served to express the feeling
of discontent with the party within the party, that was resolved upon
rebuking the party leadership by voting with the Democrats, or not
voting at all. In Massachusetts General Benjamin F. Butler was elected
Governor, as a Democrat, by a majority relatively greater than that
of Cleveland over Folger in New York, because that State, instead of
having too little had had too much reform. The discontent in Massa-
chusetts was not in harmony w r ith the causes of dissatisfaction and
revolt in the other States. It was a plain case of reaction. In Ohio
the liquor question obtruded itself into the politics of the State. A
prohibitory constitutional amendment had been adopted, in itself de-
fective, and as no legislation had been enacted to enforce it, those
who resisted it began to sell as though the right were natural, and
in this way became strong enough to prevent taxation or license. The
Legislature of 1882, the majority being controlled by the Kepublicans,
attempted to pass the Pond liquor tax act. The liquor interests or-
ganized, secured control of the Democratic State Convention, nomi-
nated a ticket pledged to their interests, made a platform which
pointed to unrestricted sale, and by active work and the free use of
money, carried the election and reversed the usual majority. In Iowa
and Kansas, as well as in Ohio, the liquor question was the cause of
Republican reverses. Still other causes were operative in the other
States. The reverses resulting from a feeling of discontent, originat-
ing in so many diverse causes, w r ere not merely a continuation of the
effects of the reaction that began with the panic of 1873, but the signs
that pointed to a Period of Defeat.

The Republicans were able to maintain their strength unimpaired
in a few States New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Illinois,
Wisconsin, and Minnesota. In the South there were signs of re-
covery. There was an increase of Republican strength in North Car-
olina and Tennessee, and Congressmen were gained in Mississippi and
Louisiana. In Virginia the situation was greatly improved, Ma-
hone's Republican Readjuster ticket carrying the State by a majority
of 10,000, thus securing the election of a Congressman-at-large and a
United States Senator.

The Mahone movement in Virginia began in 1876. General Will-
iam Mahone, its originator, was a Confederate officer of distinction
and a man of great energy in business as well as in politics. What he


sought was a readjustment of the Virginia debt, so that West Virginia
should bear a fair proportion of the indebtedness of the old State of
Virginia. His enemies asserted that his object was repudiation.
This charge Mahone denied, asserting that the Bourbons, as he
called the Democratic leaders, were actually repudiating it by making
no provisions for its payment, either in appropriations or the levying
of taxes needed for the purpose. At the time the Republicans were
in a helpless minority in Virginia. In order to obtain support for his
movement, General Mahone publicly invited an alliance by the adop-
tion of a platform that advocated free schools for the blacks, and a
full enforcement of the National laws touching their civil rights. As
a result of the movement, the Legislature was won, and Mahone was
elected to the United States Senate in 1880. It was claimed that he
had been chosen as a Democrat, and he gave great offense to the
Southern Democracy when he acted with the Republicans. Mahone
was bitterly assailed by Senator Hill, of Georgia, for intending to
vote with the Republicans in the organization of the Senate in 1881,
and the Readjuster Senator from Virginia replied with equal bitter-
ness. " The gentleman may not be advised," Mahone said, " that the
Legislature that elected me did not require that I should state either
that I was a Democrat or anything else. I suppose he could not get
here from Georgia unless he was to say that he was a Democrat, any-
how. I come here without being required to state to my people
what I am. They were willing to trust me, sir, and I was elected by
the people and not by a Legislature, for it was an issue in the can-
vass. There was no man elected by the party with which I am iden-
tified that did not go to the Legislature instructed by the sovereigns
to vote for me for the position I occupy on this floor. It required no
oath of allegiance blindly given to stand by your Democracy, such
as it is, that makes a platform and practices another thing." A re-
markable scene of disorder in the Senate marked the colloquy between
Hill and Mahone. A number of Republican Senators, including Mr.
Hoar and General Logan, defended the Virginian, and General Ma-
hone afterward made a very elaborate reply to Hill, in which he
gave a complete history of the Readjuster movement in Virginia, and
justified his alliance w r ith the Republicans. It was hoped the anti-
Bourbon movement, which had taken deep root in Virginia, would
be extended to the other Southern States, but .this hope was disap-
pointed because of the great Republican feud of 1881-2 and its con-
sequent disasters.

In all these conflicts men professed to see the hand of Mr. Blaine.
There was no actual proof that he had any share in promoting the dis-
cords of 1882, but the men who were active in the defection from Pol-


ger in New York, and in conducting the revolt in Pennsylvania, were
almost without exception his friends, and enemies of the Administra-
tion. President Arthur assumed the great office that the assassin's
bullet had made possible for him under circumstances of peculiar dif-
ficulty. His title to the Presidency was perfect, but many of the
leading men in the party were disposed to stand aloof, and to treat
the new Administration as one not to be trusted. President Arthur
met the emergency with dignified modesty and rare tact and discre-
tion. His first act was to ask the Cabinet appointed by his predeces-
sor to remain in office. All except Wayne McVeagh, of Pennsyl-
vania, the Attorney-General, consented to retain their places for the
time being. McVeagh's retirement was immediate, a precipitancy
that only needs to be described as unnecessary. His successor Ben-
jamin Harris Brewster, was not appointed until January 2, 1882.
Mr. Windom, the Secretary of the Treasury, was elected to the United
States Senate, and resigned from the Cabinet to accept the Senator-
ship. Edwin D. Morgan, of New York, was appointed and confirmed
as his successor, but declined, and Charles J. Folger qualified No-
vember 14, 1881. Mr. Blaine retired a month later, and was succeeded
by Frederick T. Frelinghuysen, of New Jersey, December 19, 1881.
Postmaster-General James was succeeded by Timothy O. Howe, of
Wisconsin, January 2, 1882, and William E. Chandler, of New Hamp-
shire, became Secretary of the Navy, and Henry M. Teller, of Colo-
rado, Secretary of the Interior, April 17, 1882. Robert T. Lincoln, Sec-
retary of War, was the only member of President Garfield's Cabinet
who remained in the Cabinet of President Arthur. In all these
changes there was nothing revolutionary. The effort to make him a
political pariah, as other Vice-Presidents who became President
were made or made themselves, was a failure. " How skillfully and
courteously he managed the grand trusts of the high office to which he
succeeded, is now recognized," Mr. Cox wrote, soon after his adminis-
tration closed. " He was well equipped for Executive duties, as a
man of education, of great knowledge of affairs, and as a lawyer and
a practical man of business. He retired from the office of President
with the best wishes of every one with whom he came in contact.
He had many severe trials connected with the bad administration of
affairs in the Postoffice, and other departments of the government.
He also had some stormy times with partisans, because he endeavored
to be just to the country; but amid all the distractions of his party
and the State, he maintained that decorous dignity which becomes the
President of a nation whose past has a wondrous lesson, whose
present has such a supreme duty, and whose future such a radiant


Coming from a Democratic source, this tribute is all the more note-
worthy. Every word of it was deserved. The place that must be ac-
corded to Arthur's Administration in history is in itself a rebuke of
the Republican feuds of which it was the victim, not the occasion.
The towering personality of James G. Elaine blinded many Repub-
licans to the merits of President Garfield's successor, but neither the
feuds of 1881-82 nor his own ambition led President Arthur into the
dangerous pathways that had been trodden with such heavy footsteps
by John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, and Andrew Johnson.



Cause of Hill's Attack oil Mahone The Struggle for the Control of
the Senate Changes in the Forty-seventh Congress Both
Houses Republican Legislation The Interstate Commerce
Commission Passage of the Pendleton Civil-service Reform Bill
Tariff of 1883 Report of the Tariff Commission Changes in
Tariff Rates Efforts to Pass the Morrison Tariff Bill Changes
in the Forty-eighth Congress Waiting for the Presidential Cam-
paign Congress and Parties Adrift.

HEN Congress met for the first time under the Administra-
tion of President Arthur, December 5, 1881, the House of
Representatives was again Republican, and the Senate was
a tie when Senator David Davis, Independent, voted with
the Democrats. This explains the bitter assault on Senator William
Mahone, of Virginia, upon the assumption that he had been elected as
a Democrat. " I certainly did not say one word," said Mr. Hill, of
Georgia, speaking of Senator Mahone, " to justify the gentleman in
the statement that I made an assault upon him, unless he was the
one man who had been elected as a Democrat and was not going to
vote with his party. I never saw that gentleman before the other
day. I have not the slightest unkind feeling for him. I never al-
luded to him by name; I never alluded to his State; and I can not un-
derstand how the gentleman says that I alluded to him except upon
the rule laid down by the distinguished Senator from New York, that
a guilty conscience needs no accuser. I did not mention the Senator.
It had been stated here by the Senator from New York over and over
that the other side would have a majority when that side was full. I
showed that it was impossible that they should have a majority unless
they could get one Democratic vote, with the vote of the Vice-Presi-
dent. I did not know who it was; I asked who it was; I begged to
know who it was; and to my utter astonishment the gentleman from
Virgina comes out and says he is the man. The Senator from Vir-
ginia makes a very strange announcement. He charged me not only
with attacking him, but with attacking the people of Virginia. Did
I say a word of the people of Virginia? I said that the people of no
portion of this country would tolerate treachery. Was that attack-
ing the people of Virginia? I said that thirty-eight men had been
elected to this body as Democrats. Does the Senator deny that?
Does he say he was elected here not as a Democrat? He says he was


not required to declare that he was a Democrat, and in the next breath
he says he is a truer, better Democrat than I am. . . . Sir, I
will not defend Virginia. She needs no defense. Virginia has given
to this country and the world and humanity some of the brightest
names of history. She holds in her bosom to-day the ashes of some
of the noblest and greatest men that ever illustrated the glories of
any country. I say to the Senator from Virginia that neither Jeffer-
son, nor Madison, nor Henry, nor Washington, nor Leigh, nor Tucker,
nor any of the long list of great men that Virginia has produced ever
accepted a commission to represent one party and came here and rep-
resented another." Mr. Hill claimed that before acting with the Re-
publicans it was Mr. Mahone's duty to resign his seat and go back
to the Virginia Legislature asking for a re-election. Such obliging
conduct on Mahone's part would have given the Democrats the or-
ganization and control of the Senate.

The Mahone controversy in the Senate occurred at the special
session in March. When the Senate again met in special session,
October 10, 1881, the two newly-elected Senators from New York,
Miller and Lapham, and Nelson W. Aldrich, the new Senator from
Rhode Island, chosen to succeed General Burnside, had not yet quali-
fied. The Democrats in consequence took snap judgment upon the
Republicans by electing Thomas F. Bayard, of Delaware, President
of the Senate, by 34 votes to 32 for Henry B. Anthony, of Rhode
Island. Three days later, when the three new Senators had quali-
fied, this action was reversed, and David Davis was elected, receiving
36 votes to 34 for Mr. Bayard.

The Senate, when the regular session of Congress began in De-
cember, showed many conspicuous changes since the adjournment of
the 46th Congress in March. Newton Booth, of California, had given
place to John F. Miller, who was not destined to the prominence of his
predecessor. General Joseph R. Hawley was the new Republican Sen-
ator from Connecticut. Benjamin Harrison came from Indiana in
place of Joseph E. McDonald. This was General Harrison's first ap-
pearance in the political arena in which he was one of the few con-
testants who ever won the prize of the Presidency. Eugene Hale, of
Maine, was the successor of the venerable Hannibal Hamlin, and the
seat that James G. Blaine had resigned to become Secretary of State
under President Garfield was now occupied by William P. Frye.
Arthur P. Gorman succeeded William Pinckney Whyte from Mary-
land. Omer D. Conger, long a prominent member of the House from
Michigan, succeeded Henry P. Baldwin. The olive-hued Bruce, the
last Republican Senator from Mississippi, had accepted an adminis-
trative office, and in his seat in the Senate was James Z. George.


Charles H. Van Wyck succeeded Algernon S. Paddock from Nebraska.
James G. Fair, one of the Bonanza kings of Nevada, succeeded Will-
iam Sharon. General William J. Sewell entered the Senate from New
Jersey. The haughty Conkling had thrown away in a pet the proud
place he so long held, and Thomas C. Platt, the junior Senator from
New York, chosen as the successor of Francis Kernan, had followed
his chief into exile, after service of less than a fortnight. Platt's suc-
cessor, Warner Miller, was a man of ability, but the appearance of
the commonplace Laphain in Conkling's seat was something almost
pathetic. The able Allen G. Thurman, of Ohio, made a conspicuous
vacancy in the chamber he had adorned, notwithstanding John Sher-
man was his successor. General Garfleld had been elected to succeed
Thurman, but became President of the United States on the day he
would have entered the Senate. Angus Cameron, of Wisconsin, who
had been succeeded by Philetus Sawyer, filled the vacancy occasioned
by the death of Matthew H. Carpenter. The most conspicuous of
those whose names were stricken from the rolls of the Senate forever
will be readily recognized as Conkling, Thurman, General Burnside,
and Carpenter. The other new Senators were John I. Mitchell, of
Pennsylvania; Nelson W. Aldrich, of Rhode Island; Howell E. Jack-
son, of Tennessee; William Mahone, of Virginia, and Johnson N. Cam-
den, of West Virginia. The Senators who entered on terms of service
as their own successors were Thomas F. Bayard, of Delaware; Charles
W. Jones, of Florida; Henry L. Dawes, of Massachusetts; Samuel J.
R. McMillan, of Minnesota; Francis M. Cockrell, of Missouri; Sam B.
Maxey, of Texas, and George F. Edmunds, of Vermont.

In the 47th Congress the House of Representatives contained 150

Online LibraryGeorge Oberkirsh SeilhamerHistory of the Republican party (Volume 1) → online text (page 45 of 61)