John Barr.

Wit and humor of American statesmen; a collection from various sources classified under appropriate subject headings online

. (page 10 of 10)
Online LibraryJohn BarrWit and humor of American statesmen; a collection from various sources classified under appropriate subject headings → online text (page 10 of 10)
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in him j so winking at his staff, he asked,

212 *Mit anfc Ibumor

" And did you run well ? "

"I used due diligence, Colonel. I did the
best I could, but I couldn't keep up with you,
in that hack ! "

Then there was another laugh.


Some Reed Anecdotes

How Tom Reed awoke one day, or rather
read the newspapers one morning, to find him-
self famous, is pretty generally known. Eighteen
words did it. Not long after having taken his
seat in Congress he was making a little speech,
when some member interrupted him with an an-
noying question. Reed answered him, then in
his high nasal tones drawled out: "And now
having embalmed that fly in the liquid amber
of my remarks I will go on again." This shaft
of wit hit the newspaporial bull's-eye, and from
that time Tom Reed's name was a familiar one
throughout the country.

"Our agricultural community" is the term
Mr. Reed employed to designate Farmer Wade
of Missouri and Farmer FunstOD o\ K
One day Reed came upon the farmer Stat*
as they were discussing some disputed point with
vigor. Funston was just saying :

214 tUtt and •fcumor

" Well, Wade, I'll bet you a dollar."

The Missourian didn't respond to the chal-
lenge, and Mr. Reed drawled out in his Yankee
twang :

"That is the way of you fellows from out
West. You are great at blowing, but that is all
you do. You don't bet anything but wind."

Farmer Wade pulled his fist out of his breeches
pocket, opened it, and showed a big Bland dol-
lar in the palm.

" You think we are all wind out West ? " he
said to Reed. " Now match this."

With true New England deliberation Mr.
Reed regarded the coin for a quarter of a min-
ute. Then he slowly produced another big
dollar and laid it down. They didn't match,
and Farmer Wade pocketed both.

Reed was one of the Legislative Committee
sent to inspect an insane asylum. There was a
dance on the night the committee spent in the
investigation, and Mr. Reed took for a partner
one of the fair unfortunates to whom he was in-
troduced. " I don't remember having seen you
here before," said she; "how long have you
been in the asylum ? " " Oh, I only came down
yesterday," said the gentleman, "as one of the

ot Bmertcan Statesmen 216

Legislative Committee." " Of course," returned
the lady; "how stupid I am! However, I
knew you were an inmate or a member of the
Legislature the moment I looked at you. But
how was I to know ? It is so difficult to know

Senatorial five-minute speeches are timed by
an old-fashioned time glass. When a Senator
begins his remarks the glass is turned so that
the sands begin to run. When the last grain
drops through the tiny opening the Vice- Presi-
dent's gavel descends, and the stream of elo-
quence is cut off short. This led Tom Reed to
say, "It takes sand to run the Senate."

Ex-Speaker Reed has been compared to an
overgrown schoolboy and to Shakespeare. He
objects to some other comparisons of a more
recent date. Not long ago he met a Cong
man under the arch of the House wing of the

" See here," said the then Speaker in a severe
tone, "this thing must stop, and stop now. I
shall not stand it any longer."

"What is the matter?" the Congressman
asked in some alarm.

216 van anD tmmot

''Oh, you ought to know very well what is
the matter," was the reply. "Haven't you
read the letter written to some of the Western
Democracy recently by Grover Cleveland ? "

" No," responded the Congressman, " I have
not read it. What have I got to do with it ? "

" Everything," the Speaker answered. " You
and Springer have said that I have assumed the
role of Charles I. Cleveland says that I am
acting the part of Oliver Cromwell. Now, I'm
as good-natured as any other man, and I can
stand a great deal. I can be either Charles I
or Oliver Cromwell if you like, but I'll be
hanged if I'll undertake to assume both roles at
the same time. Set that down."

The late Representative Crain of Texas had a
characteristic way of gaining his point when put
to it that is well illustrated by a story dating
back to the famous Fifty-first Congress when
Reed was making his reputation as " czar."

Col. John Willett, an old pioneer of Texas,
came on to Washington during that Congress to
get an appropriation for Padre Island harbor in
Texas for deep water. He wanted Crain, in
whose district the harbor is located, to introduce
the bill, but the Texas member, under the im-

of American Statesmen 217

pression that the measure had no prosper ts of
passing, refused to touch it. Hatch of Missouri,

who had friends interested ill the enterprise,
consented to introduce the bill, and to the sur-
prise of Crain got a favorable report upon it
from the Rivers and Harbors Committee.

This made Crain mad. Hatch proposed as a
compromise that the first whom Speaker Reed
should recognize should pass the bill. < >ne
morning before prayer Crain wrote the following
note to the Speaker :

Dear Czar : — Please recognize me this
morning to pass a little water bill, that I may
get out of hot water. The gentleman from
Missouri (Hatch) has laid a crow's egg in
Grain's nest and I want to Hatch it out this
morning. Yours truly,

\v. H. Crain.

As soon as prayer was over and the journal
read and approved, a dozen members ro
their feet for recognition, but high and
above the din and confusion rose the Speaker's
voice :

"The gentleman from Texas." Crain got
what he wanted.


Ways and Means

Ex-Governor Waite of Colorado is an
original character and while he has broad the-
ories as to national finance, he had never been
able to make a personal application of these
theories to the extent of accumulating much
filthy lucre. The ex-governor's son-in-law is a
highly respected newspaper editor and proprietor
and has always been a stanch Republican in

When Waite became the candidate of the
Populists for Governor, his son-in-law had a
hard proposition to solve. As a Republican he
could not consistently vote for the Populist can-
didate, much less could he advocate his election
editorially, but as a loyal and affectionate rela-
tive he was bound to give both his vote and
voice to his father-in-law. While the struggle
was going on in his mind a friend approached
him and said :

• ' Your father-in-law is a Populist, you are a
Republican. Are you going to support your
father-in-law during this campaign ? "

ct Hmerican Statesmen 319

The editor pondered a moment and then re-
plied : "As I have supported him for the last

five years, I don't see any reason why 1 should
change my course now."

A gentleman, not at all wealthy, who had at
one time represented in Congress, through a
couple of terms, a district not far from the
national capital, moved to California where in a
year or so he rose to be sufficiently prominent
to become a congressional subject, and he was
visited by the central committee of his district
to be talked to.

" We want you," said the spokesman, " to
accept the nomination for Congress."

" I can't do it, gentlemen," he responded

"You must," the spokesman demanded.

"But I can't," he insisted. " I'm too poor."

"Oh, that will be all right ; we'
of money for the campaign."

"But that is nothing." contended the gentle-
man ; "it's the expense in Washington. I've
been there, and know about it."

"Well you didn't lose by it, and .
cost any more because you come fro:

220 imtt anD Ibumor.

The gentleman became very earnest.

"Doesn't it?" he exclaimed in a business-
like tone. " Why, my dear sirs, I used to have
to send home every month about half a dozen
busted office-seeker constituents, and the fare
was only £3 apiece, and I could stand it, but it
would cost me over $100 a head to send them
out here, and I'm no millionaire ; therefore, as
much as I regret it, I must insist on declining."
%. # * * * #

Holman, of Indiana, for many years waged
vigilant and unrelenting war on amendments to
appropriation bills, which gave him the name
of the " Watchdog of the Treasury." He was
very strong in his district and had an unusually
long service which gave him great power and
influence in the House, by his knowledge of the
rules and practice.

Towards the end of his term an amendment
was offered in which a near relative was much
interested. The familiar "I object," was not
heard and the amendment went through with his
support ; whereupon a member sitting near ex-
claimed :

" 'Tis sweet to hear the honest watchdog's bark
Bay deep-mouthed welcome as we draw near home ! "

ot Smencan Statesmen 221

The Rev. Mr. Jones met an old free silver
mollusk one day in one of his walks.

"Jones," said the mollusk, "where is all
that prosperity that you were going to give us? "

" Why," replied the clergyman, " it is every-
where. Labor is employed ; capital is active ;
the railroads are overburdened; there is pros-
perity everywhere."

"It has not struck me yet," the mollusk ob-

"Well, you know," Jones answered, "it is
pretty hard to hit nothing."

A Western politician has announced himself
as heartily in favor of Prohibition government,
merely as an experiment.

" It would be worth while to try it," he
"just to see if under its rule money could get
as tight as it has been under the other parties."

The following clever skit is entitled " Extra ts
from a Congressman's Conscience/' and recently
appeared in Puck. It portrays the gradual con-
version, — or perversion, — of the average private
citizen as revealed by his gradual shiftings o\ po-
sition until black seems white:

222 *CUit ano tmmor

As a Private Citizen.
''Politics is rotten to the core; and the
wrongs of the oppressed cry aloud to heaven.
But there is no hope."

As a Possible Candidate.
"Politics is rotten to the core; but if a few
men of incorruptible integrity were to be elected
to office the wrongs of the oppressed might be

As a Nominee.
"Politics is rotten to the core, and even the
man who has the wrongs of the oppressed always
at heart and upon his tongue must pay for his
election. ' '

As a Congressman-Elect.
"At last politics is less rotten by one honest
man who will wage unceasing war to right the
wrongs of the oppressed. But what a crimp the
boys did throw into my bank-roll ! "

ist Week in Congress.
"The rottenness of politics is appalling.
Mentioned the wrongs of the oppressed in one
of the cloak-rooms of the House to-day and no-
ticed a smile on the faces of all the old mem-

of Hmerican Statesmen 223

2d Week.

"I see a chance to right the wrongs of the
oppressed. The notorious Universal ( ontrol
Company, the new syndicate of all the Trusts,
has a bill up, and what a warm wallop I am

writing against it ! "

3d Week.

" Great Scott ! what it does cost to live in
Washington! Rent alone $1,700. I see the
early finish of my $5,000 per. An emissary of
the Universal Control Company hinted an infa-
mous proposition to me to-day."

4II1 Week.

"Politics is rotten but interesting. Wonder
where all these fellows get their money. Went
last night to a swell stag-dinner given by the
Universal Control man. Some regular toi .
sauce vaudeville turns between the cotu
Hope my constituents won't get on."

s7// Week.

"Mark, himself, lias been to see me about
that bill. A man really ought to look at both
sides of a question and stay by the Grand
Party if possible."

224 miit ano Ibumor

6th Week.

" Ye Gods 1 it does cost to live in Washing-
ton ! I seem to be about the only lobster in my
set. I don't hear any of the others worrying
about money. They're all going to boost that
bill, by the way. Politics is "

7th Week.
" I'm afraid the wrongs of the oppressed are
largely imaginery. Say ! what Washington life
does to £5,000 a year is a sin and a shame !
That Universal Control man seems to be a very
nice sort of a fellow."

8th Week.
"No man can live on his Congressional sal-
ary. Wish my constituents wouldn't be so im-
patient. It takes time to right the wrongs of
the oppressed. Am almost convinced the Uni-
versal Control Company would prove their real
benefactors in the end."

pth Week.
"What ever I am, I am not cheap. Shall
battle against the infamous Universal Control
Company to the bitter end. The wrongs of the
oppressed must be righted."

ot Bmcncan Statesmen 225

10th Week.
" Voted for the Universal Bill after all. Think
it will be for the real good of the down-trodden.
Set up a stable and wired my wife to come on
and open her social campaign. Guess I will
manage to meet the expense. Did not deliver
my ringing speech against the bill, but have had
it printed in the Congressional Record and sent
a marked copy to the Back Home Banner.
Universal Control Company composed of very
nice gentlemen."

Near the Term's End.
" Politics is all right after you once learn the
rules of the game. Washington is the only
place of residence and living is comparatively
cheap, too, considering. By the way, I must
begin to get together some more of old salve
about the wrongs of the oppressed. I want to
come back."

Jonathan P. Dolliver, of Iowa, is perhaps best
known by his peroration on the question of ad-
mitting American pork into European markets.

"I hope the time will come," he said,
"when the American hog with a curl of con-
tentment in his tail and a smile of pleasure on

226 mtt ano Dumot

his face may travel untrammeled through the
markets of the world."

The Democrats had a clear working majority

in Illinois, for a number of years. But

when the Fifteenth Amendment went into effect it
enfranchised so many of the " culled bredren "
as to make it apparent to the party leaders that
unless a good many black votes could be bought
up, the Republicans would carry the city elec-
tion. Accordingly advances were made to the

Rev. Brother , whose influence it was

thought desirable to secure, inasmuch as he was
certain to control the votes of his entire church.

He was found ''open to conviction," and ar-
rangements progressed satisfactorily until it was
asked how much money would be necessary to
secure his vote and influence.

With an air of offended dignity Brother

replied :

"Now, gemmen, as a regular awdained min-
ister ob de Baptist Church dis ting has gone
jes as far as my conscience will 'low; but, gem-
men, my son will call round to see you in de


In "The domestic life of Thomas Jefferson,"

et American Stateemen

may lie found an incident which i

instance probably in our fe leral legislation
where the personal comforts of statesmen have
been satisfied and the expense « barged to
" fuel " or " stationery. 11 They found out how
to fix it in the very first session of the first Con-
tinental Congress. While that 1
session Delegate Harrison o( Virginia, desiring
to "take something " went with a friend
certain place where supplies were turn
Congress, and ordered two glasses of bi
and water. The man in charge hesitated and
replied that liquors were not included in the
supplies furnished Congressmen.

"Why," said Harrison, "what is it, then,
that I see the New England members come here
and drink ? "

•• Molasses and water, which they have
charged as stationery," was the reply.

"Then give me the brandy and water,'
Harrison, " and charge it as fuel."

I luring the sessions of the (
for the purpose ^( framing i C tirul

Colorado, the question under > :

formation of the Legislature

desired to have the body very small, in order to

228 TOt ano Ibumor

save expense, and certainly laid themselves open
to the charge of saving at the spigot and wast-
ing at the bung. The debate had gone on for

some time, Judge B somewhat tinctured

with Grangerism, vigorously supporting the
motion. After he had shown the terrible drain
the "dear people," would suffer by having a

few more members, old Judge C from the

mountains rose slowly, and after disclaiming any
intention of being personal said : " Mr. Chair-
man, there are some people, sir, so mean, so
tenacious, that, sir, they would squeeze the
eagle on an old-fashioned ten-cent piece until
the claws of the proud bird stuck through on to
the other side, and involuntarily scratched the
face of the Goddess of Liberty."
The proposed measure was lost.

Down South one of the treasurers of a polit-
ical campaign is the joint debate between can-
didates. The second time John Allen was up
for Congress his opponent challenged him to a
discussion of finance. Allen accepted. His
rival was a banker and had been in Congress
himself on a former day; in fact Allen suc-
ceeded him. They met at an immense mass-
meeting. The fame of the great proposed de-

of Bmcrtcan Statesmen

bate on finance had spread, and all that pirt
of Mississippi laid aside its labor and
around the contestants to listen. Allen'
ponent led off. He started into the money
question like a cow into a swamp and kept
stepping higher and splashing steadily ahead in
a straight line. He began back with Alexander
Hamilton who smote the rock of the country's
resources and streams oi revenue g
forth, and came thundering down tl
aisle of the financial past, until he finally
brought himself and his hearers to the very
hour when he and Allen came together in that
particular joint debate. When he took h:
he was cheered by a hurricane yA plaudits.
Then Allen arose :

"My friends," said Allen, "I will not at-
tempt to turn page after page of the w
financial history a< has our friend. I shall ( on-
fine myself to a few plain statement
which all of you will re it o:k e .is true,

and then I will make this meeting
which is so fair, so just, SO sensible, that I -
none will reject it. Von all recall DO*
friend served you in Congress as the R
ative of this district. Upon his while

there I will make no comment, alth.
tell by the cloud which has so suddenly fallen

230 "Uait ano tmmot

on the face of this meeting that it is still green
in your memories. But I will call your atten-
tion to this notable fact. Upon his return from
the halls of legislation, and to private life, he at
once opened a bank, and entered upon a bril-
liant career of lending money and shaving
notes. It was then I was selected by your
suffrages to appear as your representative in the
councils of the nation. That was two years
ago. I will not dwell on my record, for mod-
esty forbids. I will instead let fame, with her
thousand eager tongues, speak in my behalf.
What I will lead you to is this most remarkable
circumstance :

"The moment I came back I sought the bank
of our friend and borrowed every dollar he
would lend me. That shows you the wide
abyss which separates my character as well as
my methods from those of my opponent. Now
for the proposition, and I will say in advance
if it be accepted, as I feel sure will be the case,
I will bow meekly to the outcome. As I have
stated, our friend came back from Congress and
went to lending money. I came back from
Cbngress and began to borrow it. Now, let the
district divide on those lines. Let those who
borrow money come close about me in their
support. I am of their tribe; bone of their

of Hmcrfcan Statesmen j:;i

bone. Let those who loan money go to the
standard of my friend. Let their votes be
given him, for he belongs to them and they to
him. Let these things be done," concluded
Mr. Allen, "and I will accept my fate with
fortitude and meekness." Allen went back to

* * * * * :•'

Concerning "back pay," an amusing inci-
dent occurred just at the close of a former ses-
sion of Congress. The House generously voted
to pay committee clerks for the whole of March,
though the sessions only continued four days of
that month. The officers charged with dis-
bursements made up the bills promptly, and in-
stead of letting the clerks, in the usual course,
take the bills to their chairman for approval,
they themselves took them around for that pur-
pose. The officer who took the bill of the clerk
of the Committee on Banking and Current v. of
which the Hon. Samuel Hooper is chairman, is
reported to have had the following colloquy :

Mr. Hooper. " What is this ? "

Officer. " It is Mr. F 's bill for the

month of Man h. The House has voted to pay
committee clerks for tin- whole month."

Mr. Hooper. " Why do you bring it to

232 "Unit ano fnimor

Officer. " We want to settle our accounts,
and so are getting the bills all approved our-
selves, instead of waiting for the clerks to at-
tend to them."

Mr. Hooper (hesitatingly). "Well, I guess
you may as well let my clerk bring this to me.
I should like to see him. I haven't had a sight
of him for about a month."

The following authentic anecdote of the late
Thaddeus Stevens (contributed by a prominent
ex-member of Congress) contains a grain of
pure Attic salt, which everybody may relish :

John F. Driggs, representing the Lake Su-
perior mining district of Michigan, was particu-
larly jubilant over the passage of a bill impo-
sing a higher rate of duty on copper, in which
his constituents were deeply interested, and Mr.
Stevens, in his habitual vein of sarcastic humor,
was "chaffing" him about it, alleging, among
other things, that he had gotten his bill through
by bribery. (This was an allusion to some
nuggets of virgin copper, rudely moulded into
the form of paper-weights, which Driggs had
distributed among members with whom he was
personally intimate as souvenirs of the mineral
wealth of his district.)

ot American Statesmen

Upon that hint of " bribery," Mr. Stevens's
colleague from the Berks County district spoke
up. "By the way, Mr. Stevens, Driggs gave
me one of those paper-weights, and I voted for
his bill. Tell me — your experience is so much
greater than mine — can I take it home with me
and keep it without being accused of accepting
a bribe?"

" Well, yes," was the reply uttered with all
the gravity of a judge pronouncing an "opin-
ion," " you can keep it as it is, but, as you
value your good name, don't have it coined into

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Online LibraryJohn BarrWit and humor of American statesmen; a collection from various sources classified under appropriate subject headings → online text (page 10 of 10)