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tainted money,' and then I will hold the whole jack pot.
Let him who wants to, pose as president; I want to be

Most of the beneficiaries of the tariff could not look
at the situation as Fairbanks did. Senator Voorhees, Mr.


Lamb, and Mr. Fairbanks thought Judge Gresham should
make a public statement of his position. The practical
business man was exemplified in Fairbanks in that he did
not believe, as he said, that "Judge Gresham could stand
the pressure and make a public statement."

After a short term of court at Springfield, Mr. Gresham
returned to Chicago and was confronted with the statement
of Secretary of the Treasury Charles Foster of Ohio, who
was campaigning in New York, and other speakers, that
it was untrue that Judge Gresham was out of harmony
with the Republican party on the tariff question and would
vote for Mr. Cleveland. A like statement was issued from
the Republican National Committee. It was even said
that the Republican managers proposed to issue a forged
letter, with "Your name to it, making you out a supporter
of General Harrison." Newspaper men like Walter Well-
man and Morris Ross wrote him powerful letters about
his duty to let the country know his views. These state-
ments, appeals, and protests finally decided Judge Gresham
that he owed it to himself to set before the country his
position. After it had been decided that the best way to
do so would be to write a letter to some well-known man,
the question as to whom this man should be was much
discussed. He must be a man of character, with no
embarrassing or entangling alliances. Many names were
considered and rejected. Finally Major Bluford Wilson
was decided on, and the following letter was addressed
to him:

Chicago, III., Oct. 27, 1892.
To THE Hon. Bluford Wilson,
Springfield, Illinois.

Dear Major: —

I have your letter of the 21st inst. I did tell you at Spring-
field that after mature reflection I had determined to vote for
Mr. Cleveland this fall because I agree in the main with his views
on the tariff and did not believe in the principles embodied in the


McKinley Bill. I adhere to that determination and have said
nothing indicating a change of purpose.

It is not true that with my knowledge or consent the President
was asked to appoint me to any office. It is not true that I
requested any one to do anything to obtain the Republican
nomination this year.

It is not true that I voted for Mr. Cleveland in 1888. I voted
the Republican ticket at every Presidential election since the
party was organized, except in 1864, when I was not able to go
to the polls.

The Republicans were pledged to a reduction of the war
tariff long before 1888, and during the campaign of that year the
pledge was renewed with emphasis again and again.

Instead of keeping that promise, the McKinley Bill was
passed, imposing still higher duties. It was passed in the interests
of the favored classes and not for the benefit of the whole people.
It neither enhances the price of farm products nor benefits labor.
Wages are and ever will be regulated by supply and demand.
Duties were imposed upon some articles so as to destroy com-
petition and foster trusts and monopolies. I think you will
agree with me that this was an abandonment of the doctrine of
moderate incidental protection. The tariff is now the most
important question before the people, and whatever others may
do, I shall exercise the right of individual judgment, and vote
according to my convictions. I think, with you, that a Republi-
can can vote for Mr. Cleveland without joining the Democratic
party. How I shall vote in the future will depend upon the
questions at issue.

Yours very truly,

W. Q. Gresham.

On a dining car going out of Chicago on the Chicago &
Eastern Railroad, Crawford Fairbanks and a number of
men were talking politics. One had been deriding one of
the waiters who in response to a question said he would
vote for Grover Cleveland. Finally the negro said, "Judge
Gresham says the niggers don't have to vote the Republi-
can ticket no more. Mister Quay he done changed the
constitution of the Republican party. He puts the dollar


before the man. Abraham put the man before the dollar."

Meanwhile the Democratic National Committee got in
touch with the People's party organization, with the result
that the Democrats put up no electors in Kansas, Nebraska,
Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, and Wyoming. Whether or not
Mr. Cleveland knew about this I do not know. But I do
know that William C. Whitney and Mr. Harrity, who was
chairman of the Democratic National Committee, knew
of it and arranged all the details. The Democrats could
not possibly carry Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Idaho,
Nevada, and Wyoming. To cast the electoral votes of
these States for General Weaver might prevent an election
in the electoral college. Should the election go into the
House, the Democrats were there in a large majority in
a vote by States, so that Mr. Cleveland would be elected.

Because Walter Q. Gresham did not agree with the
People's party, in all things, he did not think he should
scorn or ridicule them. And after he declined their offer
he wrote General Weaver a cordial personal letter, which
was promptly answered. They had met during the Civil

Back of the People's party organization were the silver
mines of the mountain States. It is due to Mr. Cleveland
to say here that he was in 1892 opposed to the unlimited
coinage of silver and also had been opposed in 1890 to
coinage at the rate of 800,000 ounces per month; that is,
to the enactment of the Sherman Silver Law. Every well
informed man who voted for him knew this. It clears
him of all the charges of want of candor that were after-
wards brought against him by the friends of silver. That
he was not as tactful in dealing with them as he might have
been, and could still have been firm and maintained the
gold standard and perhaps not have subjected the country
to the strain of the campaign of 1896, may well be asserted.

Mr. Cleveland had a majority over General Harrison
and General Weaver in the electoral college. The vote


stood, Cleveland, 277, Harrison, 145, Weaver, 22. Con-
sidering the increase in population, General Harrison and
the Republican party fared badly at the hands of the
voters. Transferring Democratic votes to Weaver in
Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, and Wyo-
ming, held Mr. Cleveland's popular vote down. William
Jennings Bryan, for example, voted for Weaver. The pop-
ular vote was: Cleveland, 5,556,562; Harrison, 5,162,894;
Weaver, 1,055,424; Bidwell, Prohibitionist, 264,066. In
1888, in the nation at large, the vote was: Cleveland,
5-538.560; Harrison, 5,441,902; while the electoral vote was :
Harrison, 233; Cleveland, 168. In Indiana in 1892 the
vote was: Cleveland, 262,740; Harrison, 255,615; Weaver,
22,208; Bidwell, 13,050. In 1888, it was: Harrison, 263,-
361; Cleveland, 261,013. As Judge Gresham predicted to
WilHam C. Whitney and Thomas F. Bayard, IlHnois voted
for Cleveland.

Following the election, the Chicago Tribune and the
Chicago Inter-Ocean — especially the Inter-Ocean were very
critical toward Mr. Gresham in their editorials. Their
criticisms brought forth defenses from friends. One of
these, Oliver T. Morton, in an interview at Indianapolis,
stated that Judge Gresham wished his name withdrawn as
a candidate in 1888, as soon as the platform was adopted,
and then the young man proceeded to attack the editors
by name. To but one of the critics did Judge Gresham
make any answer. It was to Joseph Medill of the Chicago

Hon. Joseph Medill, November 7, 1892.

My Dear Sir: —
I recognize the address on an envelope just received, contain-
ing an editorial from the Inter-Ocean of the 4th inst., as your
handwriting. I am not disturbed by what Mr. Nixon has said.
It is not true that I was ever a frequent visitor at his office. Al-
though your criticism was not just, it did not offend me. I can
understand that in your situation you felt obliged to give me a


lick. I assure you that I shall ever feel grateful to you for the
past. I regret that Mr. Morton mentioned your name in his
interview at Indianapolis last Saturday.

After my interview with you at my chambers the day the
platform was adopted in 1888, I saw some of my friends at
the Palmer House and told them how I felt, what I thought of the
tariff plank, etc. I also told them what your view of the situation
was, and they all agreed with you. Mr. Morton was one of the
gentlemen then present. It is true that nothing but fear that I
would embarrass you and other friends prevented me from send-
ing a letter to the convention, withdrawing my name as candidate.
I never did believe in high tariff or the McKinley Bill, and I told
a number of my friends that I would not vote the ticket again
if the party adhered to its then platform. Both you and Mr.
Patterson know where I have stood on the tariff question. I have
not changed. I have no political ambition, but if I had, no one
realizes better than I do that I have committed jjolitical suicide.
Some people are unable to understand that a man can deliberately
do that.

Faithfully yours,

W. Q. Gresham.

The next few months were pleasant. The only dis-
turbing fact was the talk of a panic which had been pre-
dicted and prepared for by many financiers and business men
ever since the passage of the Sherman Silver Act providing
for the coinage of 800,000 ounces of silver monthly on the
basis of about fifty cents on the dollar. But instead of
putting out the coin, $1, $2, $5, and $10 certificates were
issued against it. Banks were hoarding gold. As Samuel
W. Allerton, one of our neighbors, said, "The money sharks
and the Jews are using the silver certificates to jerk the
gold out of her. Soon she will be busted." "She" was the
United States Treasury. Illiterate, but very intelligent
and a very rich man, Samuel W. Allerton had changed his
views about Walter Q. Gresham being an unsafe man.
"Soon we will be on a silver basis," he said. On presen-
tation and demand the Treasurer of the United States


and the Assistant Treasurers in New York, Chicago, and
San Francisco would redeem the silver certificates in gold.
Nelson Morris was a co-director with Mr. Allerton in the
First National Bank of Chicago. "Of course," said Mr.
Allerton, "Nels will swap a silver dollar for a gold one
every day in the week, especially when the silver dollar is
worth only 50 cents." But it was at the Sub-Treasury
in New York that the greatest swapping was done. The
Jews without a country, for not all of that race who were
living in New York were naturalized, are not to be censured
for taking advantage of the situation. And the Jews were
not the only men who "jerked the gold out of her." The
responsibility was on the men who created the system. On
the other hand, there were Jews like Nathan Strauss who
arose to the best level of American citizenship. While the
silver certificates and greenbacks were being used to de-
plete the Treasury of gold, powerful pressure was brought
from financial centers on the administration to induce it
to preserve the gold standard. Secretary of the Treasury
Foster had prepared the plates for the purpose of printing
the bonds with which to buy the gold to preserve the
integrity of the government, when President Harrison put
his foot down and arbitrarily said he would not consent to
the issue of any bonds for that or for any other purpose
during his administration. All that President Harrison
could do was to postpone for a while the storm that the
legislation he had consented to was bound to produce.

Norman B. Ream — "Farmer Ream," he was called —
one of President Harrison's "kitchen cabinet" in Chicago,
brought us this word. Mr. Ream owned immense tracts
of corn land in IlHnois; he was a successful board of trade
operator, was in all kinds of enterprises, and owned a great
deal of property. He was the ablest and best poised of
all the big men who had made Chicago in a commercial
and industrial way. A Pennsylvanian by birth, a veteran
of the Civil War, and, of course, a Protectionist of the


extreme school, he did not beHeve in such laws as the
Sherman Anti-Trust Act and, under the advice of counsel,
sailed in the teeth of them. And the lawyer who merely
listened and was ready to put through what Norman B.
Ream wanted done was the best lawyer. Mr. Ream put
his house in order soon after the passage of the Sherman
Silver Act and then went to selling almost everything
short. He died in New York, one of the strong men in
Wall Street, possessed of immense wealth. Simple in
manner, never purse proud, Norman B. Ream possessed a
facility of expression never surpassed.

I had heard J. W. Doane, president of the Merchants'
Loan and Trust Company, and V. T. Malott, the Indian-
apolis bankcx", discuss the financial situation. Mr. Malott
was the receiver of the Chicago & Atlantic Railroad. Night
after night, while the Sherman Silver Act in 1890 was before
Congress, I heard Mr. Malott discuss it. He quoted the
"Gresham Law," that the inferior money always drives
out the good, and as a banker he predicted that, if the
Sherman Bill passed, it would only be a question of time
until we would be on a silver basis.

And t]:jen there was Gerfferal Benjamin H. Bristow, who
had been Secretary of the Treasury in General Grant's
second administration. He discussed the situation over
and over again. General Bristow understood the financial
question, and he said his clients in New York and the
speculators had long been getting ready for the coming

But none of the responsibility and blame seemed on
us, and besides, I thought we were through with politics
forever, so I was happy. Suddenly I was aroused to the
real situation by the receipt of a letter from Mr. Cleveland
'ofTering my husband the position of Secretary of State.
The offer came in the form of a letter from Mr. Cleveland
and a telegram from Don M. Dickinson. Both were
received on the same day and at about the same hour.


Lakewood, N. J., Jan. 25, 1893.
Hon. Walter Q. Gresham,

My Dear Sir: —

Will you accept the place of Secretary of State in coming
administration ?

You will doubtless be surprised by this proposition but I
hope you may see your way clear to accede to my request.

You know enough of cabinet duties to make it unnecessary
for me to enlarge upon their character or scope.

I fear that your sensitiveness concerning the view that may
be taken of your acceptance of the position in connection with
your prior political affiliations and the part you took in the late
campaign, may cause you to shrink from a fair consideration on
this subject.

I beg you, however, to believe that your sturdy regard for
political duty and yoiu" supreme sincerity and disinterestedness,
seen and known of all men, are proof against any and all unworthy
suspicions or malicious criticism.

In really a great emergency, the country needs your services
in the place I ask you to fill. In an effort to subserv^e the interests
of my countrymen, I need you.

Can you not come to us? Hoping for an early reply, I am,
Yours very sincerely,

Grover Cleveland.

New York, January 27, 1S93.
Hon. Walter Q. Gresham,
United States Courts.

Confidential. Please wait, I will arrive to-morrow evening.
Leaving here on Limited at four-thirty to-day. Please send word
to Hotel Richelieu when I can see you. Your house to-morrow
evening or Sunday.

Don M. Dickinson.

I was opposed to my husband's accepting Mr. Cleve-
land's offer. My home was pleasant, my children and
grandchildren were about me, and I felt that the acceptance
of the office tendered could add nothing to my husband's
fame. He was well and strong, and I had not for many


years felt so free from cares that had been mine since the
beginning of the War of the RebelHon. My son joined
me in this view. We were not without full faith in Mr.
Cleveland's integrity and patriotism. Our reasons were
perhaps not entirely unselfish. My husband's personal pop-
ularity, which Frank Hatton said was greater than that
of Mr. Blaine, we did not want him to sacrifice. His mo-
tives would be misjudged and he would be maligned. We
pressed home the objection that the panic then actually
on, although not apparent to many, was gaining momentum
and would soon break and be charged up to the men who
must stem it and remove its causes, so far as they could
be removed by governmental agency.

Don M. Dickinson spent at our house the Sunday he
mentioned in his telegram. I made it as plain to him as
I could by my manner and general conversation, while
treating him with courtesy, that he was not a welcome
visitor, bearing the message which I knew he had to deliver.
He knew that I was opposing him, but I left |;iim to my
husband. Mr. Dickinson said to ,me when I met him next
in Washington, "You were the coldest woman I had ever
met when I saw you in Chicago. You tried to freeze me
out, and you largely succeeded. You disturbed me greatly
and you almost defeated us. I cannot now realize how you
can be so agreeable." I answered him, "I always try to
make the best of any situation." That evening he sent
me a large bunch of roses. The next letter shows that at
first I triumphed over Mr. Dickinson and that Mr. Cleve-
land's offer was declined:

Chicago, February 3, 1893.
Hon. Grover Cleveland,
My Dear Sir: —

We are in accord on political questions. Our ideas of public
duty are the same, and I feel that I would enjoy close association
with you. There are demands upon me, however, besides those
of my own household, which I feel I could not properly meet


should I go to Washington on your invitation ; and realizing your
situation, and fearing that my delay has already embarrassed
you, I decline the proffered honor. I regret this not because I
am ambitious to hold a high office but because I admire your
character, appreciate your patriotic motives, and would like to
oblige you.

I cannot adequately express the satisfaction it affords me to
know that I possess your confidence, and I beg to say that I shall
ever cherish for you sentiments of the highest esteem and sincere

Your countrymen do not doubt your ability, honesty, and
courage, and they will not desert you in your patriotic efforts to
promote their welfare.

You have paid me an undeserved compliment, but I appre-
ciate it nevertheless.

Faithfully yours,

W. Q. Gresham.

Mr. Dickinson returned to New York and there were
telegrams from Daniel S. Lamont, George Hoadly, Charles
S. Fairchild, W. C. Whitney, John G. Carlisle, and other
friends of Mr. Cleveland, urging Mr. Gresham to accept.
I will quote but one: .

New York, February 3, 1893.
Hon. Walter 0. Gresham:

I kndw well your feelings, but I think you owe a duty to Mr.
Cleveland and to the country. Your motives have not been
and will not now be questioned or doubted by the mass of your
countrymen. It has been well known everywhere for years that
upon the issues now dividing the parties you belong to Mr. Cleve-
land's side. Tou should respect his wish. Nothing but the
impending shadow of a terrible personal bereavement disqualify-
ing me for any good work has stopped me from carrying on the
fight with him. You are strong and represent a large class who
have not heretofore stood with our party. Do not let anything
small in other minds influence you to turn back from a great call

to duty.

W. C. Whitney.


And then came Colonel Henry Watterson, who had
heard of the offer. He did not come as an emissary of
Mr. Cleveland, for the world knows that at that time Mr.
Cleveland and Colonel Watterson were not personal friends.
It was Mr. Watterson's influence and appeals that moved
my husband finally to accept Cleveland's offer. What-
ever may have been Mr. Watterson's and Mr. Cleve-
land's differences, no man has ever more carefully guarded
Cleveland's personal and political integrity than Henry
Watterson. There was nothing little and mean in "Marse

In response to one question my husband asked Wat-
terson, if he could support the incoming administration
with Cleveland at its head and Gresham as Secretary
of State, Watterson promptly replied that he not only
could, but would, and "under the circumstances, it is your
duty to accept." Most heartily and cordially was this
pledge kept, even to the extent of supporting the Hawaiian

The day Mr. Watterson came up from Louisville and
made his plea, the offer was renewed in the following
telegram :

Lakewood, N. J., February 6, 1893.
To Hon. Walter Q. Gresham:

Every consideration of my duty and personal inclination
constrains me to ask a reconsideration of the subject referred to
in your letter.

Grover Cleveland.

Chicago, III., February 7, 1893.
Hon. Grover Cleveland.
My Dear Sir: —

I think you understand me and I believe I understand you.
I have no doubt that you feel that you need me in your cabinet,
and I have finally concluded to yield to your wish and judgment.
I still entertain misgivings, however, as to the wisdom of the step,
but I hope that neither of us will ever have cause to regret it. I


desire that you shall feel perfectly free, even up to the last moment,
to substitute some one else in my place should circumstances
seem to require it.

Our Circuit Court of Appeals will adjourn Saturday of this
week, after which we will need some time to examine and decide
the submitted cases. And that is not all. I have on my table
a number of important equity cases which should be disposed
of before I leave the bench. What shall I do? Can you allow
me to remain here a few days after the 4th of March? I will
exert myself to finish my work before then. Of course, I under-
stand that it may be necessary for me to see you before you go
to Washington.

Sincerely yours,

W. Q. Gresham.

Lakewood, N. J., February 9, 1893.
Hon. Walter Q. Gresham,
My Dear Sir: —

Your letter of the 7 th instant came to hand two or three
hours ago, and causes me the greatest satisfaction. I know per-
fectly well that only considerations of patriotism and duty have
constrained you to accede to my wishes, and I assure you this
vastly increases my appreciation of what you have done. Do
you not think I or you had better in a matter-of-fact and unsen-
sational way give the fact to the public that you have accepted
the place? If you deem it best that I give it out, I wish you
would simply send me a dispatch of some sort to that effect, put
in a way that no one needs to understand it but me.

Ordinarily, of course, the names of the cabinet officers would
go to the Senate and be confirmed March 5. If you could con-
tinue to act as a judge after confirmation, matters can take the
usual course and the State Department be left in the hands of
those at present in charge, until you are ready to take possession ;
otherwise, your name need not be sent in and confirmed until
your judicial work is done. Of course, conditions exist which
may render it desirable that you assume charge as soon as possible,
but this must yield to your desire and convenience or to the
duties of your present position.


Mr. Carlisle writes me that Senator Morgan would be glad
to see me or my Secretary of State, before he leaves for Paris to
attend the Bering Sea arbitration; unless you desire to see him,
I do not see why your work should be interrupted for that purpose.
Perhaps I can ask Carlisle to see him or see him myself.

I would certainly be exceedingly glad to have a chat with you
between now and the 4th of March and hope that your work
will so clear up as to enable you to come to see me.

I have settled, I think, on five members of the cabinet. I
mean to have Carlisle for the Treasury, Lamont for War, Bissell
(of Buffalo, one of my oldest friends and former partner) for
Postmaster General, and Hoke Smith of Georgia (a very able
representative of the new and progressive South) for Interior.
This leaves the Navy, Attorney-General, and Agriculture still
to be selected. I want George Gray, Senator from Delaware, to
accept the Attorney-General's place, but he has thus far, strangely
enough, declined. If there was a first-rate man in Alabama,

Online LibraryMatilda GreshamLife of Walter Quintin Gresham, 1832-1895 (Volume 2) → online text (page 20 of 38)