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the Democratic party they were in confederation with the same class,
to so arrange politics that whichever party came in power, capital, in
all its varied and powerful forms, would be sure of control, and the
people ground up as ' between the upper and nether millstone.' Thus
it will be readily seen, and he who runs may read, that the Repub-
lican party is the party of monopoly, of corporate interests in every
form of industry, and every department of business and finance. . .
In the matter of finance there is nothing to hope from the Republican
party any more than from the Democratic party. The bankers and
capitalists of both parties uniting together have controlled for twenty
years the financial legislation of the nation. And the result? What
have we just seen? With money enough in the country for all its
wants, and no substantial drain from abroad; with an accumulation
of wealth such as the world has never seen; with a crop of corn and
wheat almost untouched, and another one about to be garnered; with
a stock of petroleum already produced sufficient for the consumption
of the world for a year; with nearly a year's stock already produced
of cotton goods; with more than six months' stock of woolen goods
as they will average; with a production of iron that leaves its further
production impossible; with provisions in such abundance that the
means of sustaining life are cheaper than before for fifty years; yet,
because of our financial systems in every class of business, embarrass-
ments and failures to an unheard of extent, with banks locking up
their money in millions upon millions, and allowing their customers,
who, by our financial system have been made dependent upon them,
to be ruined; the producing laborer goes about the streets unem-


ployed, and the farmer's wheat, which with our fathers was a meas-
ure of value, is a drug in the market, and that which he raises to-day,
produced by the sweat of his face, is without profit to his industry."

Although General Butler's candidature had no greater political im-
portance than the candidature of Peter Cooper eight years before, the
platform on which he stood and the principles that he advocated were
significant of the unrest in the two great parties of the country. In
spite of the opposition of the Kepublican factions that claimed to have
inherited the policy of Garfield's administration the " Half-breeds "
in New York and the " Independents " in Pennsylvania, especially
President Arthur had given satisfaction to the party and the country.
It was not surprising, therefore, that he should look forward to a
nomination from the Kepublican National Convention. It was sur-
prising, however, that a " business meeting " in New York in his in-
terest should be used to his injury by the friends of General Logan
and Mr. Elaine, on the charge that there was " a flavor of Wall
Street " about it. This cry is a proof that the populistic principles of
General Butler's address could be used with effect in the Kepub-
lican party in the manipulation of a great National Convention in

The time fixed for the meeting of the Republican National Conven-
tion was June 3, but the friends of the candidates began to gather in
Chicago as early as May 30. It was claimed at the outset that Blaine
was the choice of the Republican States, while Arthur's strength
was almost wholly in Democratic States; that Blaine would be as
strong in New York as Arthur, while Arthur might not be able to
carry Pennsylvania. The key of the situation on Saturday and Sun-
day preceding the Convention was the support of the Southern dele-
gations. If the South could be kept solid for Arthur it was believed by
the President's managers that his nomination was assured. In view
of this condition the first efforts of Elaine's friends were directed
toward breaking the Southern delegations. The first defection was in
the Arkansas delegation under the lead of Powell Clayton. This hap-
pened before the majority of the Northern delegates had arrived. It
was followed by the demoralization of the Southern delegates, and
later by the disintegration of the delegations. The confidence and en-
thusiasm of Mr. Elaine's supporters became irresistible, but Arthur's
friends until the last refused to confess themselves beaten. " It's all
right," cheerfully remarked Collector Gould, of Buffalo, who was
looking after things; " Arthur will be nominated just the same, and
I would advise you to say so. Henry Clay had the hurrah, too, but the
other fellow had the votes, and that's us."

One of the newspaper correspondents described each of the Chi-


cago headquarters on the day preceding the Convention as a great
threshing-machine, in which 820 delegates were being threshed out
and winnowed into the hoppers marked Blaine, Arthur, Logan, and
the rest. The biggest of these threshers filled a whole corridor of the
Grand Pacific, and on each side of the Blaine thresher stood " those
mighty delegate hunters, Steve Elkins and Tom Donaldson." In at-
tendance upon this machine were the " slow-footed Warner Miller,"
the " bobbing Tom Cooper," the " bald-headed Tom Platt," the " sober,
benignant Robertson," and the " expansive Boutelle." There, too,
was a free-spoken Californian, who met the mild plea of an Indepen-
dent that the business interests feared Blaine with the response,
" Why, bless your soul, we have three men in our delegation who pay
more taxes than Curtis and his literary crowd ever sneezed at."

At the Arthur thresher were James Warren, of Buffalo, " a large,
comfortable, and thin-whiskered man "; Frank Hatton, " alert, mus-
tached, and bumptious "; the " wiry Burleigh," the " heavy, grouty "
General George H. Sharpe, and Mahone, with his " long hair, short,
limp cuffs, and rumpled shirtfront." The other threshers were neither
so picturesque nor so constantly at work. From first to last it was ap-
parent that the contest was between Blaine and Arthur, and the
Blaine men were especially expansive in their proclamations of the
strength of their candidate. " Blaine," said twenty of the New
York delegates in a " message " to the Convention, " can get more
votes in the State of New York than any other man, and can carry the
State triumphantly. An analysis of the Republican representation
in the National Convention, on the basis of the Presidential vote of
1880, shows that from President Arthur's own State a decided ma-
jority of the delegates to the Convention are opposed to his nomina-
tion; that the overwhelming preponderance of the delegates from
the districts giving Republican majorities is for Blaine; that twelve
Republican districts and four Democratic districts are for Blaine; that
five other districts sent Edmunds, or anti-Arthur delegates, while but
five Republican districts sent delegates for Arthur, the large ma-
jority of his support coming from ten Democratic districts; that in the
Blaine districts there is an aggregate of 63,773 Republican majorities,
against 17,456 Republican majorities in the Arthur districts. These
facts and figures are conclusive, that in New York, as in other States,
where the electoral votes may be given to a Republican candidate
for President, the direct Republican expression is in favor of James
G. Elaine's nomination; indeed, that he is the accepted leader of the
Republican party to a sure victory." If this had been true, James G.
Rlaine, not Grover Cleveland, would have been President Arthur's


As the noon hour approached on the first day of the Convention
great crowds flowed toward the Exposition Building, to enter which
only ticket-holders had the " open sesame." There a vast multitude
witnessed the assembling of the delegates, and awaited the opening
of the great quadrennial Council of the Republican party.

" At last," wrote one of the historians of the scene, with a pro-
fusion of single and double-breasted adjectives that only quotation
marks can justify, " Chairman Sabin, with his broad, sallow face and
curving mustache, stepped forward and put his hand on the starting
bar, picking up a little mallet, sadly out of place in a situation which
needed a beetle to deal a controlling blow. A slim clergyman, with a
white hand and a small mustache, made an eloquent prayer, which
drew subdued applause from people who mistook the peroration not
unnaturally for a speech, and the big, broad-shouldered Kansas Mar-
tin, who acts as Secretary of the National Committee, read an in-
audible call. A little stir, a sort of dressing of ranks, and Sabin's
speech ended with the nomination for temporary chairman of Powell
Clayton, a tall, sallow, round-headed, crop-haired Arkansan, with an
empty sleeve and the expression of a Southwesterner. Lodge, of
Massachusetts, a crisp-haired, brown-bearded young fellow, climbs a
chair in the Massachusetts delegation and puts up John R. Lynch.
One great yell goes up the shrill cry of Southern delegates as a
dozen negroes jumped in their seats, camp-meeting fashion. A sturdy,
stocky, side-whiskered, drover-like looking man, Butcher, of New
York, seconds the nomination, meeting the Edmunds move half-way
with an Arthur welcome. Gravity follows in every Elaine .State,
while the Arthur States bubble and boil over into the aisle. Frank
Hatton, slim and earnest, watches the battle on one side, and Sharpe,
with his bulldog face, fairly looks pleasant. Chris Magee, a tall, fine-
looking man, seeks a side aisle, while his alternate slips into his seat,
and Tom Cooper looks anxiously from a high stage seat. Speech-
making begins; George William Curtis on one side, suave, courtly,
with a voice of wonderfully sympathetic quality, and a face all soft
serenity, speaks, his voice rising and falling from one trembling ca-
dence to another; and Stewart on the other side, with a sharp, strident
voice, and clear, dark face, and features with a straight, strong pro-
file, puts the Elaine side in a great stir and swing and rustle. There
are other speeches. Carr, of Illinois, a big, round fellow, with a
crackling, explosive voice, rides the buzz triumphantly. Roosevelt's
boyish effort is drowned in it. Hoar, a big, broad-chested swimmer in
this sea of manifold sound, breasts its current for a few moments, and,
after a running wrangle over the method of voting, the slow roll is
called. It takes two hours. Man after man, leaning against the


reading desk and shouting his share of 820 names into space, wearies
of the work. By relays it goes on. A name is called; up rises a dis-
tant man, and shouts the syllabic reply, Powell Clayton, or John K.
Lynch. The tally goes on. The cheering is short and small. The
interest lies below the names. Illinois starts off for Clayton, and then
the votes change to Lynch. A shout goes up. Connecticut shrewdly
divides. McKinley leads off in Ohio, with a big purple badge on his
breast. New Jersey runs by commentless, but in New York every
vote is watched until the full Elaine strength is registered of twenty-
nine. In Pennsylvania McManes leads off for Lynch. Grow raises
his gray head to vote, and Stewart steps forward with hat and note-
book tally in his hand, as the roll runs through Republican districts
which vote for Clayton. Once there is a cheer over Tom Platt, and
when Virginia is reached and a thin, weazened, long-haired figure,
Mahone, rises, the cheering rises and falls like the pulse of a storm.
The vote is known before it is announced, and a tall Mississippian
jumps on a chair and waves the square yard of blue silk on which the
State is marked. Yell, cheer, and shout, hand-clapping and stamping,
and at last John R. Lynch, a mulatto of the agile, facile type of ability
in many directions, takes the gavel of a National Convention in his
hand. The rest is routine, and after, an empty stump-speech, the great
barrel of a hall empties, and surmises and speculation over the vote of
431 for Lynch and 387 for Clayton spread over the town."

The revolt against the selection of General Clayton a$ temporary
chairman by the National Committee, and the choice of John R.
Lynch in his stead, can not be attributed to any political necessity or
interest. The movement was apparently a spontaneous one, but it
resulted from a motive that was purely sentimental the demand of
the colored Republicans of the South for recognition in the organiza-
tion of the Convention. In view of his desertion from President Ar-
thur, Clayton's selection was not regarded by Arthur's friends with
enthusiasm, but the Edmunds men were more openly and unequivo-
cally hostile to the choice of the National Committee than the Arthur
leaders. Once started, the movement to displace General Clayton ac-
quired force rapidly, and the friends of Mr. Blaine were not only pow-
erless to stop it, but even to appear to wish to stop it. It was an un-
gracious thing to do, especially in the case of a Union soldier with an
empty sleeve, but General Clayton made the best of the situation,
moving that the election of Mr. Lynch should be made unanimous,
and, with Henry Cabot Lodge, of Massachusetts, who had moved the
substitution, escorting the black presiding officer to the chair. Mr.
Lynch himself was not entirely pleased with the unexpected honors
thus thrust upon him. He neither expected not desired the position,


and in his opening address made it clear that he was not thankful for
it. Soon after the temporary organization was effected a resolu-
tion pledging the delegates to the support of the nominee was offered
by Mr. Hawkins, of Tennessee. It was identical with the resolution
proposed by Mr. Colliding in 1880, and met a like fate after arousing
some bitterness of feeling it was withdrawn.

The report of the Committee on Organization, recommending Gen-
eral John B. Henderson, of Missouri, for permanent President of the
Convention, was made by B. M. Williams, of Indiana, and was adopted
without objection. In his address General Henderson alluded to the
candidates for the Presidency, beginning with Arthur and ending
with Elaine. " New York," he said, " has her true and tried states-
man, upon whose administration the fierce, and even unfriendly light
of public scrutiny has been turned, and the universal verdict is, ' Well
done, thou good and faithful servant.' Vermont has her great states-
man, whose mind is as clear as the crystal springs of his native State,
and whose virtue is as firm as its granite hills. Ohio can come with
a name whose history is the history of the Republican party itself.
Illinois can come with one who never failed in the discharge of public
duty, whether in council chamber or on field of battle. Maine has her
honored favorite, whose splendid abilities and personal qualities have
endeared him to the hearts of his friends, and the brilliancy of whose
genius challenges the respect and admiration of all. Connecticut
and Indiana may come with names scarcely less illustrious than

It was not until the morning of the third day of the Convention that
the Committees on Credentials, Rules, and Resolutions made their re-
ports. There was a number of contested seats, but none of them in-
volved any serious question of principle or policy, and all the contests
were settled in accordance with the report of the Committee on Cre-
dentials. The report of the Committee on Rules was not so easily
disposed of. Rule 10, which provided for a Republican National
Committee, and for the election of delegates to the Republican Na-
tional Convention of 1888, gave rise to some debate because of an
amendment offered by Mr. Grow, of Pennsylvania. This amendment
provided for the election of delegates from the Congress districts in
each State and Territory in the same manner as the nomination of
members of, or delegates to Congress was made. It was adopted,
and the Convention proceeded with the settlement of the order of
business which had not been provided for by the Committee; but
somehow Rule 10 would not stay adopted. Mr. Sanders, of Mon-
tana, moved the adoption of a proviso declaring that no person should
be a member of the National Committee who was not eligible as a


member of the Electoral College. This was aimed at Federal office-
holders. Its necessity was explained by Mr. Hoar, of Massachusetts.
" The gentleman from Montana asked me," he said, " to explain, for
the information of the Convention, the law passed by Congress a
year ago, commonly known as the Civil-service Act. It was not the
purpose of that law to prohibit any Federal officer from exercising
all the rights of an American citizen. It is expected that he may con-
tribute of his service or of his money to the cause of the political party
to which he belongs as he would to the cause of his church, or to any
other religious or humane enterprise. That law intended to prohibit
the exercise of official power over men in official stations, and to that
end the provision, the most stringent of provisions, has been enacted
that no person holding an official position shall directly or indirectly
receive or solicit a contribution of money from any person holding
such office. Now, as to the Federal officer, or a member of the Na-
tional Committee, it will equally be an offense, and it will subject him
to imprisonment or fine if that committee, either by itself, or by its
treasurer, shall receive a contribution or contributions of money
from any other Federal officer by placing upon the National Commit-
tee gentlemen holding such offices, and prohibiting your fellow-citi-
zens from furnishing any service or aid in this campaign by the con-
tribution of money; and I believe it was the purpose of the gentleman
from Montana to have that clearly understood by the Convention in
calling upon me to say what I have. No person holding a Federal
office under the Constitution of the United States can be a member
of the Electoral College." After this explicit explanation the pro-
viso was adopted and made a part of Eule 10.

The Convention, however, continued to discuss the method of rep-
resentation in National Conventions as regarded delegates-at-large,
the claim being made that it was unequal. It was proposed, in addi-
tion to four delegates-at-large, to give each State a delegate-at-large
for each Representative-at-large, if any, elected at the last preceding
Presidential election. This was advocated as a measure of equality,
but it was opposed by the delegates from the South as productive of
inequality. " Such a proposition," said Mr. Bradley, of Kentucky,
" coming from the Democratic party, might come with some force,
but from the great Republican party, which professes love and
equality for all the States, I must admit my astonishment. It is well
known to this Convention that in the South to-day votes are stifled by
frauds and force, and yet you are asked to take this basis which has
been laid down by Democratic fraud and force, and make it the basis
of Republican representation." Nothing came of this attempt to re-
strict Southern representation, for after the discussion the motion to


adopt the minority report, which was the occasion of it, was with-
drawn, and that was the end of the matter. Then the Platform was
reported from the Committee on Resolutions and adopted without dis-

" Very strong and very Blainey," was one of the comments with
which the Platform was received. It was what in those days was called
a " new departure," in form if not in substance. It took ground in
favor of Protection, and pledged the party to correct the inequalities
of the Tariff; it favored a readjustment of the duties on foreign wool;
it recommended an effort to unite all commercial nations in the estab-
lishment of an international standard to fix for all the relative value
of gold and silver coinage; it asserted the necessity of legislation to
prevent unjust discrimination and excessive charges for transpor-
tation; and pronounced in favor of a bureau of labor; the enforcement
of the eight-hour law; appropriations from the national revenues for
general education wherever needed; extension of the system of civil-
service reform, and the settlement of international questions by arbi-
tration. It demanded the restoration of the navy to the old-time
strength and efficiency, and aimed a blow at polygamy and the politi-
cal power of the so-called Mormon church. The Union was described
as a nation, not a mere confederacy of States; and the fraud and
violence practiced by the Democratic party in the South were sternly
denounced. It was a Platform remarkable for length, breadth, and
thickness, but, while it touched on many questions, it was not very
clear or explicit on any of the issues that were beginning to force
themselves upon the country.

After the adoption of the Platform the Convention adjourned until
evening, when the nominating speeches were made. The first candi-
date named was General Joseph R. Hawley, of Connecticut, the nom-
inating speech being made by Augustus Brandagee. Senator Cullom
nominated General John A. Logan. When Maine was reached in the
call of the States there was a clear, loud, wild burst of applause that
seemed to come from every throat in the great building. In an in-
stant delegates and spectators were on their feet. Staid old politi-
cians on the platform, venerable Senators and Representatives long
tried in Congress; new delegates, who were never before in a Na-
tional Convention, were drawn into the whirlpool of excitement as
straws are sucked into the eddies of a river. Every delegate, save a
bare patch here and there on the floor, where the friends of Arthur
and of Edmunds sat, mounted his chair and took part in the demon-
stration. Men put their hats on the tops of canes and waved them high
over their heads. Women tore their bright fichus and laces from
around their snowy necks, and leaning far forward over the galleries,


frantically swung them to and fro to give emphasis to their shrill
screams of joy. Mr. Henderson vainly pounded his gavel for order.
Its dull beats upon the hollow desk were no more audible to the wild
crowd in the hall than were the strains of the band in the rear to the
cheering spectators on the platform. The applause echoed blocks
away along the streets leading to the Exposition Building, and the
engineers of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, in the rear of the hall,
added to the din by loud shrieks from the whistles of their engines.
At last, exhausted, the tumult ceased, not on the instant, but by de-
grees, fitful cheers being given long after Judge West reached the
platform and was escorted to his seat.

The man selected to present Elaine's name to the Convention was
blind. He was helped to the platform by two sturdy young men, who
carefully guarded his progress up the steep steps and along the tor-
tuous aisles to the seat provided for him on the left of the presiding
officer's chair. His silver gray hair was smoothly brushed away from
a noble forehead. Time had implanted deep wrinkles and furrows
around the sharp features of an intelligent face. Dressed plainly in
black, wearing no ornament save a blue Blaine badge on the lapel of
his coat, and a small watchchain, the old man leaned back in his
armchair, and faced the surging mob as, fhough blind, he felt him-
self its master. For the last time the applause rolled through the
hall and ended in a wild roar as the Ohio orator rose to his feet and,
lifting his right hand above his head, by gesture compelled silence.
Ten minutes of uproar and storm were followed by a stillness in
which a w r hisper could be heard as the first clear, distinct, sharp tones
of the speaker rolled through the building. The clean-cut sentences,
brilliant delivery, and confident manner of the speaker captivated the
crowd. They were in sympathy with him from the start, and he re-
tained his grasp upon their feelings to the finish. After Judge West
had put Mr. Blaine in nomination other speeches in support of it fol-
lowed, Cassius M. Goodloe speaking for the South, Thomas C. Platt
for New York, and Galusha A. Grow for Pennsylvania.

Arthur's welcome followed hard upon the enthusiasm for Blaine.
When New York was called it was like match to powder, like the re-
flection of light from a turning mirror. Up went half of the New
York delegation with a shout; up went the Southern States by squads
and platoons; up went the corporal's guard in Pennsylvania. The

Online LibraryGeorge Oberkirsh SeilhamerHistory of the Republican party (Volume 1) → online text (page 47 of 61)