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Life of Walter Quintin Gresham, 1832-1895 (Volume 2) online

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2

1
7


1
5
2
1
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1

8

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9
3

3

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2


14

2
4


2

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4

58
2


1
5
2


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New Hampshire


New Hampshire..

New Jersey

New York

North Carolina...
Ohio






New Jersey ....

New York

North Carolina.


1

1

11

46

53




'5
9


5
1


6


6


Ohio








Oregon


Oregon

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island .
South Carolina. .

Tennessee

Texas

Vermont

Virginia

West Virginia

Wisconsin

Arizona

Dakota

Idaho

Montana

New Mexico

Utah

Dist. Columbia . .

Washington

Wyoming






1
7




1




Pennsylvania . .




Rhode Island .


8






South Carolina


6
9

7


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10
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10
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2
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20




Tennessee

Texas

Vermont


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Virginia

West Virginia..
Wisconsin.


10
2

2

1


2
2


3
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Washington


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217


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the convention." George R. Davis had been elected the
IlHnois member of the National Committee and it was
then known that he would be, as he subsequently was, a
member of its Executive Committee, with Senator Quay as
its chairman. Mr. Halford further said: "As I intimated,
the action of New York was more of a feint than a sincer-
ity, and was not permitted to go beyond the point where
it could be controlled."



598 LIFE OF WALTER QUINTIN GRESHAM

As to New York voting solidly against adjournment at
4 p. M., as French, Piatt's "representative," had at 2 a. m.
of the . same day agreed that the Convention should be
a.djourned without a nomination, Mr. Halford said in
this dispatch to the folks at home: "New York skilfully
voted No, still further to throw dust in the eyes of the
delegates and the people." And finally, after saying, "I
do not pretend to know who they will nominate on Mon-
day," voiced his heart's desire, "I do not think they will
nominate Gresham."

Immediately upon the adjournment of the Convention
Thomas C. Piatt and Matthew Stanley Qua}^ caused the
report to be circulated throughout the crowds, the corri-
dors of the hotel, and the delegates, that at the next session
of the Convention, on Monday, New York's seventy-two
votes would be cast for some other candidate than General
Harrison. Stephen B. French was one of the men through
whom Piatt spoke. Patrick Ford was another. Again
Ford called on John C. New. "Your man is a dead one,"
he said. "We have given you New York's vote to-day,
and with that you cannot scrape up enough votes to
nominate. You had ample time to make your alliances."
According to one newspaper man's report, Ford's talk
made New frantic.

Quay, still professing to be for Sherman, to keep the
Pennsylvanians from going to McKinley, told the New
Jersey people, "On Monday New York will vote for Blaine
and Blaine will be nominated." This was carried directly
to the Harrison headquarters. vSaturday afternoon, Sena-
tor Piatt began again his flirtation with the Gresham people.
That very afternoon and Saturday night, and afterwards,
Piatt said, "Gresham wHll be the easiest of all to elect."
Again Senator Farwell, Joseph Medill, William Penn Nixon,
and George R. Davis wanted pledges made.

I was present when Mr. Medill called on Judge Gresham
and said, "We can nominate you now if you will only let



REPUBLICAN CONVENTION OF 1888 599

me say you will stand as the platform is written." "Not
for the Presideney, Mr. Medill, with my consent can you
make such a statement about me." The same was said to
William Penn Nixon when he called and stated he wanted
to make a similar statement in the Chicago Inter-Ocean.

Thomas C. Piatt understood Walter O. Gresham's po-
sition thoroughly. His pretended overtures that Saturday
afternoon and night and Sunday morning were a feint. He
knew that they would not be accepted. But they produced
consternation in the Harrison and Blaine camps. John
C. New could not eat any dinner that Saturday evening,
and, declared the newspaper boys, he said if Gresham was
nominated he would sell out his Indianapolis Journal and
all his Indianapolis property. Piatt's New York delegates
transferred to Gresham, would have transferred to him all
but Editor Halford's vote and that of two or three other of
the Indiana delegates. John Overmeyer. one of the Indi-
ana delegates, was saying, "I have voted my last ballot for
Harrison. Under the arrangement with the Harrison men
on the delegation made with me, they must reciprocate on
Monday and vote for Gresham." If you don't believe
John Overmeyer was a practical politician, go back and
read the Jennings County case.^

By holding up the specter of his rival's nomination,
Piatt could not force Gresham to make a pledge. "The
biggest coward on earth is the man who is afraid to lose."
But when he suggested to the Harrison people that Gresham
would make a most available candidate, Mr. Piatt says he
got the further assurances he wanted. While Piatt's closest
friends in the New York delegation were telling the boys
on Sunday morning they would not vote for Harrison, and
that they would not need "Chauncey's money with Gresham
to make a campaign in New York" (Depew had said that if
Gresham was nominated, no money could be raised for the
ticket in New York), the wily Stephen B. Elkins, with Mrs.

iSee page 477.



6oo LIFE OF WALTER QUINTIN GRESHAM

Elkins, took Mr. Piatt and Mrs. Piatt for a Sunday morn-
ing ride. Instead of going to church, they drove to Lin-
coln Park. As they drove along, Mr. Elkins said, "Piatt
was very uncommunicative" until he (Elkins) showed him
a letter from General Harrison and the telegram of Mr.
Blaine, received that morning, in which Mr. Blaine said
that Elkins was authorized to withdraw his name should
it be presented the next day. Then, he said, Piatt agreed
to support Harrison on the morrow. He said he did not
promise Piatt on behalf of Harrison that Piatt would be
Secretary of the Treasury. Piatt claimed Elkins made
that promise, and that the letter of General Harrison to
Mr. Elkins authorized the latter to speak for the former.
Both the letter and the telegram Mr. Elkins retained in
his own possession and never produced them.

At a caucus of the New York delegation that Sunday
afternoon, Mr. Piatt later stated that he told the New York
delegation of the renewed pledge to make him Secretary of
the Treasury, and then it was he said they for the first
time unanimously agreed to support General Harrison, as
they did on the morrow, Monday morning, when General
Harrison was nominated.

In his report to the Indianapolis Journal on Tuesday,
June 26, of how the nomination came about the day before.
Editor Halford said:

Every friend of General Harrison should feel kindly towards
Mr. Elkins, and indeed towards all the close friends of Blaine, as
well as towards the splendid New York delegation, whose candor
and unanimity, misunderstood for a time, probably, really dic-
tated the nomination of Harrison.

Who was this splendid New York delegation ? Certainly
not Chauncey M. Depew, who it is said had arranged long
in advance with Steve Elkins for General Harrison's nomi-
nation. Doubtless Chauncey and Stephen thought they
had settled it long in advance, but Thomas C. Piatt cer-



REPUBLICAN CONVENTION OF 1888 6oi

tainly changed the status of affairs after the Convention
met, and made good the word that Senator Henry M.
Teller sent from the United States vSenate Chamber to
Judge Gresham, that Piatt would show his power in the
convention. In 1892 in the Minneapolis convention Piatt
voted forty-five of New York's seventy-two votes against
Harrison's renomination, with Mr. Depew on the ground
marshaling, to use one of Piatt's expressions, "the bread
and butter brigade," or the officeholders.

In 1888 the Secretaryship of the Treasury was in every-
body's mind. In nominating Levi P. Morton of New York
for the Vice-Presidency, ex-Senator Warren Miller of New
York said: "New York now not only has the Presidency
but also the Secretary of the Treasury."

It was in the early days of the convention that Piatt
had agreed that if Senator Miller would vote as he desired
in the Convention, when they got home, Piatt would nom-
inate Warren Miller for governor. Piatt kept his word
with Miller, and that was all Miller got, for Quay, as chair-
man of the National Committee, traded Miller off for votes
for Harrison and Morton.

Before the delegates left Chicago, General Harrison tele-
graphed that he wanted as his representative on the National
Committee, General W. W. Dudley, soon to become famous
or infamous as the author of the "Blocks of Five" letter.



CHAPTER XXXVIII
THE "BLOCKS OF FIVE" CASE



HARRISON S CAMPAIGN FOR VOTES — DUDLEY S BLOCKS
OF five" letter — NEED FOR REFORM OF ELECTION

LAWS — BLAINE MADE SECRETARY OF STATE FRICTION

WITH THE PRESIDENT — DUDLEY'S THREATS TO EXPOSE
CAMPAIGN SECRETS — REASONS WHY HE WAS NOT IN-
DICTED — CLAYPOOL MADE DISTRICT ATTORNEY HE SOON

RESIGNS — CRITICISM OF JUDGE WOODS — LEGISLATION RE-
PEALED.

WALTER Q. GRESHAM was not the disappointed
man some people attempted to make him out to have
been over the 1888 Convention. He was never in better
health and spirits since he had recovered from his wound;
indeed he thought he had made a most fortunate escape
from being traded into a nomination on a platform upon
which he could not stand.

Albert G. Porter and John Sherman were the sore men
who came out of that convention. Mr. Porter refused to
become the Republican candidate for Governor of Indiana
for fear he might, as one of General Harrison's friends said,
"pull Ben through in Indiana." Instead, General A. P.
Hovey was nominated on a platform written by Editor Hal-
ford. This State platform demanded honest elections and
condemned the Democratic frauds of two years before against
the election franchise, especially the tally sheet forgeries.

As candidate for President in 1888, General Harrison's
forensic ability came into good play. He received at In-
dianapolis many delegations both from Indiana and other
States, and met them with short, eloquent addresses. Eco-
nomic conditions, the charge that the platform he was at-
tempting to stand on was a free whiskey one — the Pro-
hibitionists led by Colonel Eli F. Ritter^ were coming strong
— forced General Harrison, as the candidate of his party, to

1 See page 389.

602



THE BLOCKS OF FIVE" CASE 603

abandon its platform, and to say that the tariff should be
reduced. "The only question is," he said, "shall it be re-
duced by its friends or its enemies. We will reduce it."
As will appear later on, "General Harrison could talk but
could not act." Four years later, in stating in an open
letter his intention to vote for Grover Cleveland, Judge
Gresham adverted to "the pledge on the stump."

But notwithstanding General Harrison's admirable pre-
sentation of the Republican side during the dog days,
when the sixty-day poll of Indiana was taken, that is, an
enumeration of all the voters in the State sixty days before
the election, it showed Mr. Cleveland had Indiana by a
considerable plurality. Then it was that General Harrison
appealed to Senator Quay, chairman of the Republican
Committee, for funds. Senator Quay sent word back that
the electoral vote of New York would be cast for Harrison
and Morton, that General Harrison's friends had pledged the
vote of Indiana to the Republican party if he was nominated
at Chicago, that he would be held to that pledge, and the
National Committee had no funds for him to use in Indiana.

This answer of Senator Quay, General Harrison com-
municated to his party friends in Indiana, as a reason why
they should again "go down into their pockets." After a
conference, James N. Huston, chairman of the Indiana
State Central Committee, appeared in Chicago and said
Indiana was lost unless the}^ had money. He was reminded
of what had been said in General Harrison's behalf in June
before, that if General Harrison was nominated, he and his
friends would carry Indiana without outside aid. "No
matter what we said then, Indiana will vote for Cleveland
next month unless we get money in the meantime," was
Mr. Huston's reply. Chicago gave Mr. Huston all the
money he asked for.

September 21, John C. New, the member of the National
Committee from Indiana, at Omaha, where he was solicit-
ing funds to be used in Indiana in November, said, "A



6o4 LIFE OF WALTER QUINTIN GRESHAM

complete poll shows where the floaters are, and you can
depend on it we will not lose any of that element."

On October 31, there appeared in the Indianapolis Sen-
tinel, the Democratic organ, the famous Dudley "Blocks of
Five" letter, dated at New York, October 24, 1888. The
letter was written on stationery of the Republican National
Committee, and its most material parts follow:



i



HEADQUARTERS REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE
91 Fifth Avenue

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

S. Quay, Chairman J. S. Clarkson, Vice-Chairman

J. S. Fassett, Secretary Wm. W. Dudley, Treasurer

John C. New A. L. Conger

G. A. Hobart Samuel Fessenden

George R. Davis J. Manchester Haynes

M. H. De Young Wm. Cassius Goodloe

Dear Sir: ^^'^ York, Oct. 24, 1888

I hope you have kept copies of the lists sent me. Such infor-
mation is very valuable and can be used to great advantage. It
has enabled me to demonstrate to friends here that with proper
assistance, Indiana is surely Republican for Governor and Presi-
dent, and has resulted, as I hoped it would, in securing for Indiana
the aid necessary. Your committee will certainly receive from
Chairman Huston the assistance necessary to hold our floaters
and doubtful voters, and gain enough of the other side to give
Harrison and Morton 10,000 plurality. . . . Divide the floaters
into blocks of five, and put a trusted man with necessary funds
in charge of these five and make him responsible that none get
away and that all vote our ticket.

That afternoon there appeared in the Indianapohs
News, which was supporting General Harrison, a letter
from State Chairman Huston, in which he said: "Colonel
Dudley has nothing to do with the management of the In-
diana campaign." In so far as the letter suggested im-
proper means, Mr. Huston said he repudiated it. Then
editorially, the News said:



THE "blocks of FIVE ' CASE 605

It is the letter of a scoundrel. We do not believe that Colonel
Dudley wrote it; we have always regarded him as an honest
man. But if he did write it, he is a scoundrel. The letter is a
plain invitation to debauch the suffrage.

Sim Coy's crime was not greater. He simply did by brutal
forgery what is here sought by corrupting others. If anything,
this is worse, for it creates a purchasable quantity, to be turned
loose to act and react on every election.

There had been no disloyalty in the Republican organi-
zation. The curiosity of a Democratic railway mail agent
on the Ohio & Mississippi Railroad from Cincinnati to St.
Louis, now a part of the B. & O. system, who believed in
those days of corruption that his party allegiance was par-
amount to his official duty, caused him to open one of the
many letters of a certain kind passing through his hands,
bearing the stamp of the Republican National Committee.
Seeing its importance as a political document, this official,
or good loyal Democrat, took it to the chairman of the
Democratic State Central Committee of Indiana. The
name of this clerk never was publicly disclosed, nor that of
the addressee, a well-known practical politician. Mean-
while a list w^as made by the Democratic railway mail clerk
of the addresses of all similar letters passing through the
mails. The total was large.

The simultaneous appearance of the Dudley letter, with
screaming headlines in all the leading newspapers of the
country^ for a time rattled Chairman Quay' — "the only
time Matthew Stanley was ever perturbed in a political
battle." He told Dudley: "You have made a mistake in
attempting to deal with any one in Indiana except Chair-
man Huston of the Indiana State Central Committee."
The fact is, Dudley was dealing with the de facto chairman,
one of General Harrison's ipse dixits at Chicago. Two
years later, Mr. Michener became General Dudley's law
partner at Washington and that relation continued until
Dudley's death. Recovering his equanimity, Quay said:

iSee page 651.



6o6 LIFE OF WALTER QU INTIN GRESHAM

"Another Democratic lie!" And although it was an auto-
graph letter, Colonel Dudley denounced it as a forgery and
promptly instituted suits for libel against the New York
World, Post, Times, and Commercial Advertiser. When the
World obtained an order for his examination under oath
as to who wrote the letter, he dismissed his suits.

Quay's next move was to put the former famous secret
agent of the Treasury, E. G. Rathburn, on the case, and
soon they knew the name of the mail clerk. Then Senator
Quay caused this clerk and the Democratic organization to
be advised that as soon as he got around to it, there would
be a prosecution for stealing a letter from the United States
mails. It was Quay's genius and force and Dudley's nerve
that saved the latter.

General Harrison carried Indiana by a plurality of 2,300
votes over Mr. Cleveland. The day of the election, No-
vember 7, Judge Solomon Claypool, a Democrat and the
special Assistant United States District Attorney who had
helped prosecute Coy and other Democrats who were still
in the penitentiary, discussed Dudley's offense with Judge
William A. Woods in the latter's chambers. Under Section
55 1 1 of the Revised Statutes of 1875, Judge Claypool and
Judge Woods said Dudley could be indicted and convicted.

To the Federal Grand Jury that assembled the Mon-
day following the election, November 13, Judge Woods de-
livered elaborate instructions. As bearing on the Dudley*
letter, he said:

While it is not a crime to attempt the bribery of a voter, it
is a crime to advise another to make the attempt. If A attempts
to bribe B, that is no offense under this statute (55 11), but if A
advises B to attempt to bribe C, then the. one (A) who commends
or gives this advice is an offender under this law ; and I say there
is some wisdom in this provision.

Under section 731, the offense may have its beginning in one
State and be completed in another.

And finally, the man to whom the letter was sent was not guilty.



THE "blocks of FIVE CASE 607

Meanwhile, from the time the mail clerk had turned
over the Dudley letter, the Democrats and the Assistant
United States Attorney, Leon O. Bailey, had been gather-
ing evidence of actual bribery. Emory Sellers, the dis-
trict attorney who had pressed the Coy prosecutions, it is
said, hung back from the start.

The New York World began to gather evidence against
Dudley as soon as it was sued by him. It showed that vast
sums of money had been raised and expended in New York.
More than 100,000 votes, as it claimed, in New York State
alone had been purchased by the Republican National
Committee.

Better election laws were being demanded all over the
land, and especially in Indiana. This was to meet the ob-
jection that while Dudley's acts were reprehensible, they
were not criminal in the eyes of the law or the statutes as
it or they then stood. And, of course, there was something
in this objection, but it could not be advanced by the Re-
publicans and Judge Woods, who had shoved the pendulum
to the extreme in prosecuting Democrats.

George B. Hastings, a representative of the New York
World, came to Chicago to interview Judge Gresham, fol-
lowed him to Indianapolis, where he was holding court,
and on November 26, 1888, sent the following telegram to
his paper:

Your correspondent asked Judge Gresham if in his judgment
the legislature that will convene in January will reform the exist-
ing election laws, which have brought the State into so much
disrepute. His answer was prompt and emphatic:

"There ought to be a reform in our State election system,"
he said, "and unless the State takes steps to stop the corruption
at the polls, a condition of affairs will be produced to which the
Rebellion will not be a circtmistance.

"It is the Pharisees who are doing this. It is the men of
prominence and respectability who raise these large sums of
money, knowing the use that they will be put to; men who deal

39



6o8 LIFE OF WALTER QUINTIN GRESHAM

openly in corruption one day and go to church the next. It is
these men who bring disgrace upon the State. You may convict
a hundred — yes, even a thousand — obscure voters for bribery,
but the effect upon the community would be as nothing compared
to that which would follow the conviction of one prominent man."

But at that Walter Q. Gresham would not use the ju-
diciary for partisan purposes. This will clearly appear at
the end of the chapter.

Editor Holliday was still supporting General Harrison,
and although the Indianapolis News came out for better
election laws, it deprecated Judge Gresham's remarks and
called on him for his proofs as to the corrupt use of money
in elections.

At this time all the large daily newspapers of the land
had special correspondents at Indianapolis. All were on
cordial relations with the President-elect. The night of
November 24, John T. McCarthy telegraphed his paper,
the Cincinnati Enquirer, a dispatch that was printed the
next morning in a conspicuous place as a "special" from
New York:

Will Colonel Dudley be made a scapegoat? There have
been various rumors to this effect, and some have even gone so
far as to claim the famous Dudley letter published during the
campaign went direct from the Republican State Central Com-
mittee rooms at Indianapolis to the Democratic headquarters.
John C. New, never a friend of Dudley's, and "Nels" Huston,
the Republican chairman, are both incensed at Dudley for inter-
fering in the campaign.

Dudley promptly answered from Washington, through
the press, that if he was prosecuted he "would explode a
lot of dynamite," that he would not be made a scapegoat.

Then the newspaper men said that General Harrison
was behind the prosecution in Judge Woods' court so far
as General Dudley was concerned, and that Dudley would
be prosecuted to the end by the incoming administration
and Judge Woods put in the cabinet or in the Supreme



THE "blocks of FIVE CASE 609

Court. The reason given for prosecuting Dudley was
that General Harrison had not been in sympathy with
Dudley's methods and wanted to disavow him in the
most pronounced manner. And one newspaper man con-
firmed it by publishing an interview with Judge Woods,
in which the latter avowed his desire to go to the Supreme
Court.

Dudley again answered through the press that what he
meant by "exploding a lot of dynamite" was, that he would
expose the entire inside workings of the Republican Na-
tional Committee. Then there was a change all along the
line. The Indianapolis Journal, John C. New's paper, be-
came Dudley's defender. Every move was then chronicled
in the press.

The President-elect had other troubles. To the propo-
sition to make Mr. Blaine Secretary of State, Editor Holl-
iday and the other independents who had supported Gen-
eral Harrison so effectually during the campaign, proved
implacable. To the suggestion that Mr. Blaine might be
the Premier, the Indianapolis News, on December 7, 1888,
responded: "No, .... a corrupt and unsafe man."

General Harrison had always belonged to the Blaine
wing of the Republican party, and in National conventions
had voted for Mr. Blaine as a proper man for President.
Why, then, should he refrain from saying Mr. Blaine should
be Secretary of State' After the election, however, power-
ful pressure was exerted to prevent him from doing so. It
was so great that no announcement was made, and it was
not certain that Mr. Blaine would be at the head of the
State Department until his name actually went to the
Senate, when there were outbursts such as that to which
Editor Holliday gave way, while the Blaine men claimed
they had forced General Harrison to it. And never again,
from the day Mr. Blaine entered the State Department,
was there complete harmony between the Secretary of
State and the President.



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