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

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Mississippi, or that neighborhood, I would like to consider him.
If not, I am prepared to take a man from almost any quarter.

I offered Agriculture to Boies of Iowa, but he and his friends
are reckoning on his making a successful canvass for United
States Senator next fall and he declined my invitation. The
Navy ought not to be a very hard place to fill, but I have not
just the man in my view yet. It is barely possible that I may
induce Senator Gray to take the Attorney-Generalship after all,
but I hardly expect it.

I would be very glad to receive any suggestions you may make
concerning incumbents for these various places. Now that I
have secured the head of my Cabinet, I feel that it should be
completed as soon as possible.

If your leisure and convenience permit, I hope you will write
me. Please address me by letter or dispatch at this place.

Very sincerely yours,

Grover Cleveland.

Ten days later, or to be exact, on the 2 2d, there
was a conference at Lakewood between Mr. Cleveland
and Secretaries-to-be Gresham and Carlisle. At this
conference there was considered the case of the Hawaiian


Queen, the Bering Sea Arbitration, and the impending
panic. It was agreed that whatever measures were neces-
sary to protect the pubHc credit would be taken. The
Harrison administration's refusal to issue bonds to keep
the requisite amount of gold in the Treasury would not
be followed.

The independent press unanimously approved the an-
nouncement that Judge Gresham would be made Secretary
of State in the incoming administration. Many of the
People's party men approved it, and none criticized. At
Indianapolis, John H. Holliday, no longer of the Indian-
apolis News, and his successors in that paper, Delavan
Smith, William Henry Smith, Charles R. Williams, and
Morris Ross, gave it their unqualified indorsement. And
so did Federal Judge John H. Baker of Indianapolis. It
is not to be denied that there was some Democratic mur-
muring. Still the announcement was remarkably well
received considering the circumstances. William H. Eng-
lish wrote that the Indiana Democrats, with one single
exception, approved it, and "that man will keep still."
From the old Democratic opponent in the Indiana legisla-
ture in 1 86 1, John H. Stotsenburgh and Mrs. Stotsenburgh
of New Albany, came cordial greetings. Samuel E. Morse,
the Indianapolis editor, had urged Judge Gresham to take
the People's party nomination. He and Thomas Taggart,
who had conducted the Indiana campaign as chairman
of the State Committee, were cordial in their welcome,
as they put it, to the Democratic party. They had
pressed Mr. Cleveland's nomination against the opposi-
tion of Senators Voorhees and Turpie. Both the latter
applauded the appointment. Senator Voorhees said in a
public interview, "It was the best that could be made
between ocean and ocean." Congressman W. D. Bynum
and Jason B. Brown of Indiana were equally strong in
their expressions.

Henry Watterson, of course, gave it his public approval.


In an editorial and cartoon in his paper, he said, "He that
is last shall be first, and he that is first shall be last." And
William C. Whitney wrote his approval.

Senator John M. Palmer of Illinois and William H.
Morrison — "Horizontal Bill," as he was called — then on
the Interstate Commerce Commission both resented the
announcement. They were both personal friends of my
husband. Subsequently they gave him their most hearty
support, especially General Palmer in the Senate. Senator
Vilas of Wisconsin remained mute, while Wall, the member
of the National Committee from Wisconsin, openly criti-
cized, and then recanted and wrote my husband a letter in
which he said he had been mistaken.

But from "the boys in the trenches" the letters and
telegrams of approval came by the basketful.

One from Luther W. Abel from St. Louis, late first
sergeant, Company H, Twenty-third Indiana Volunteers,
who had refused, as he wrote, to re-enlist at Hebron, Mis-
sissippi, in February, 1864, and as a consequence, on the
order of General Gresham, had been reduced to the ranks,
"the worst disgrace ever put on me," illustrates the pres-
sure that was used to get veterans for Sherman's army
for the Atlanta campaign, and the cordiality of our greet-
ing. I quote the following from Sergeant Abel's letter:

As I was always a Democrat before and after the. war, I made
up my mind to get even with you, and when you and Kerr run
for Congress in Indiana, I worked day and night against you,
using the two orders against you that you sent me at Camp
Hebron; and I tell you, they did execution and you were downed
with a very nice majority and I got even with you.

Now, General Gresham, I never was more surprised in my
life when I read the news stating you had turned over to Dem-
ocracy. All the enmity I felt against you for your treatment of
me left me and I felt joys toward you instead of malice, and as
you are appointed to the highest and most honorable position in
President Cleveland's cabinet, I am proud to congratulate you.


The cordiality with which my husband, and even I
myself, was received by the leading Democrats, disproves
the criticism that my husband's appointment, and his ac-
ceptance of the office of Secretary of State was a politi-
cal mistake. Senator Murphy, the Tammany Senator from
New York, who, of course, was a hard money man, before
we had been in Washington six months said that my hus-
band was his choice for President in 1896. Most of the
Southern Democrats took that view and practically all of
the Indiana Democrats. Senator Voorhees made no con-
cealment of his views and neither did Thomas Taggart.

I mention this, not that my husband had any ambitions
in this direction, for he knew that his health and age would
preclude such a course when the time should arrive, but
simply to show that he was able to sustain those relations
of intimacy and friendship that are essential to enable a
man to accomplish much for good in public life. And
these relations enabled him to perform his part in help-
ing to repeal legislation that produced the panic which the
Republicans had brought upon the nation.

On his way to the conference with Mr. Cleveland and
Mr. Carlisle at Lakewood, Judge Gresham did not see Sen-
ator Morgan, as he had already sailed for Paris to attend
the Bering Sea Arbitration. And so far as I know, Sena-
cor Morgan was the only Southern man, barring Senator
Gorman of Maryland (and I did not regard him exactly as
a Southern man), in either Senate or the House who did
not receive us with a cordiality that could not have been

Indeed, the relations my husband sustained with Henry
Watterson and with the Southern men became a source of
jealousy, it was said, on Cleveland's part.










OPENS world's fair.

"IV yTY husband started alone to Washington on the even-
^^^ ing of the 3d of March, timing his arrival after the
inaugural ceremonies were over. Soon he wrote me that
he had plenty of work, but as the questions were all legal,
they were easy. About two weeks later, with my son, I
went on to join him. The warmth of his reception had
made him most happy.

Henry Watterson had attended the inauguration with
a crowd of his extreme Southern followers, who had unani-
mously approved his judgment in bringing into their fold
his Northern friend — "the best Democrat in the adminis-
tration." Still, I had my misgivings.

I had never met Mr. Cleveland up to that time, but had
met Mrs. Cleveland in 1886, when she was with Mr. Cleve-
land in his swing around the circle. The evening of the
day of our ariival at the Arlington Hotel Secretary Lamont
called and announced that I should call on Mr. and Mrs.
Cleveland that evening. My husband, Secretary Lamont,
and I walked from the hotel to the White House. We
were received upstairs in the library. Mrs. Cleveland was
in an ordinary day dress and Mr. Cleveland wore a business


Cleveland's second administration 689

suit. We made quite a long call. I watched Mr. Cleve-
land very closely. He was fat and had a squeaky voice.
Why his voice was squeaky on this occasion, I did not then
know, for afterwards it always seemed strong and resonant.
Mr. Cleveland did not appear at his best, and I must con-
fess I was disappointed at this time in him. Mr. Lamont
must have read my face, for as we walked back to the
hotel, when we were opposite the old Blaine house, he said,
"You will like him better: he will appear better when you
know him well."

Mr. Lamont was right. I came to know Mr. Cleve-
land better and liked him better. He was always kind
and considerate and most confidential. I sat at his side
at all State functions, many of which were stupid be-
cause official etiquette required the seating of guests ac-
cording to prescribed rules. On these occasions we had
to talk and usually there was no restraint. Guarded
and careful as I was with newspaper men and women
strangers and with designing people that a woman's
intuition always detected, with intimates I could discuss
even affairs of State. My freedom in expressing myself
early in the administration to Mr. Cleveland, Secretary
Carlisle, and my husband took the fancy of both Cleve-
land and Carlisle, and only earned a mild rebuke from my
husband. Besides, I was always considerate and made the
proper advances to the green and awkward at the White
House. I had done that all my life. With a strong man
back of me during the War, I had seen that a kind word
from even a small woman was appreciated. Early in the
Arthur administration I had learned what an aid a cabinet
woman could be to the head of the administration by being
considerate to a woman who w^as not accustomed to the
ways of Washington official society, if you please, but,
possessing character and refinement, would in a short time
be thoroughly at home. Possibly her husband was a man
of power and influence. If Mr. Cleveland was wanting


in tact, as his critics claimed, he could appreciate it in

While it did not come up at the beginning, it did very
soon after, and it is proper at this point to mention the
fact that, notwithstanding that the succession is, and was
then, to the Secretary of State after the Vice-President,
Mr. Cleveland gave the ambassadors precedence in all
social matters over the Secretary of State. The law had
but recently been passed raising the rank of minister to
Great Britain and France to that of ambassador, and it
devolved on Mr. Cleveland to make the precedent. Sir
Julian Pauncefote, the English minister, I know thought
Mr. Cleveland was wrong. But it was a matter of indiffer-
ence to my husband. For instance, I sat at Mr. Cleveland's
left and Lady Pauncefote at his right at State dinners.
Because my husband was indifferent to some of the forms of
official life, he was written down as no diplomat. And the
same people, when rebuked for presuming, were more pro-
nounced than ever in their opinion.

Early in the administration, I well remember a day
spent at Woodley, where the Clevelands had gone for the
Spring. Secretary Gresham had been called out by the
President to consult over State matters, and I went along to
get better acquainted with Mrs. Cleveland. I sat waiting
in the drawing room for some time, when a maid came in
and said, "Mrs. Cleveland says, will you please walk up-
stairs." I was shown into a living room or nursery, and
there was Mrs. Cleveland down on the floor cutting a baby
sack out of a remnant. She said, "I have just got it, and
must finish it before I get up."

We chatted through the morning. Towards noon I grew
restless, but still Mr. Cleveland and my husband were
engaged. We heard nothing from the library, and finally
lunch was announced. This ended the conference of State,
and it was insisted that we remain to lunch, which we did.
It was as simple as any one could find in any well-to-do

Cleveland's second administration 691

American home. Many were the informal meals we after-
wards took at Woodley, and, all reports to the contrary,
Mr. Cleveland was most frugal in his eating and drinking.
Because he was subject to the gout, an infirmity I too had
inherited from my ancestors, Mr. Cleveland was interdicted
from the use of wine, and Mrs. Cleveland was inflexible in en-
forcing the rule. Many a time did I aid him with just one
glass of champagne in escaping Mrs. Cleveland's vigilance.
Outside of regular official entertainments, the Clevelands
did very little entertaining. With what the government
supplied to run the White House, a President could very
easily in Mr. Cleveland's time do all that was required in
the way of official entertaining and save half of his salary.
That Mr. Cleveland left the White House better off than
when he entered it the last time is explained by his
economy and by Secretary Lament's management of fiis
private affairs. That Lamont speculated for Cleveland is
absurd. He simply looked after Mr. Cleveland's private
property as he did his political interests. Lamont made
subscriptions on Mr. Cleveland's account to all charities
that a President should meet.

Mr. Cleveland was not "bookish" and did not pretend
to be a well-read man. He told me Mrs. Cleveland read
American history to him at night. In no sense was Mrs.
Cleveland a society or a "new" woman. She was purely
domestic in her tastes. She was a good mother and she
loved babies.

I found many old friends in Washington. Among them
was Mrs. Carlisle, wife of the Secretary of the Treasury.
I had known her during the Arthur administration, when
her husband was Speaker of the House. She was a remark-
able woman, possessed of great ability and aptitude for all
kinds of life. She was also a warm, disinterested friend.
She was the best friend I ever had in Washington.

One day Mrs. Carlisle and I called on Mrs. Cleveland
about a meeting of the ladies of the cabinet. Such meetings


are always held, and when there is a lady in the White House,
they are held there. Much to Mrs. Carlisle's amusement,
Mrs. Cleveland entertained us during the entire visit by
letting us watch her wash the baby. Her devotion to her
children and to her domestic life, which no one can criticize,
prevented her from associating with the wives of Congress-
men and others, who for this reason drew the inference that
she was reserved and distant. Had Mrs. Cleveland been
free to exercise the tact she possessed, she could have molli-
fied much of the resentment that grew up against her hus-
band. This, I believe, is the limit of a woman's functions
in politics. Nature never intended that she should vote
and march behind a brass band. The question of woman's
suffrage did not become a practical one in my husband's
lifetime. But in aiding the individual woman no man ever
went farther than he, as witness the Angle case and the
case of the Hawaiian Queen.

Postmaster-General Bissell came to my husband with
much of his department business. Secretary Lament did
the same, and told me that he never called on my husband
for information and advice but that he got what he went
after. Comptroller Eckels night after night came to Mr.
Gresham for advice. He had been a country la\vyer and
a great friend of Mr. Cleveland before he was appointed
Comptroller of the Currency. He was a much overrated
man. He was steered right by Mr. Cleveland and by Mr.
Gresham, and got the credit for acts which were based
on the advice of others. Secretary Smith and Secretary
Carlisle were frequent visitors and sought the views of my
husband on many occasions on the questions which came
up in their departments.

General B. H. Bristow and Mrs. Bristow of New York
were temporarily keeping house in Washington and we saw
much of them. General Bristow was a friend of Mr.
Cleveland's as well as of my husband. He was thoroughly
familiar with the financial legislation of the country and

Cleveland's second administration 693

the business situation in New York, and both Secretary
Gresham and Mr. Cleveland discussed the situation with
him. He bantered my husband a good deal about being
a Democrat, and sometimes showed annoyance when my
husband said: "You voted for Cleveland in 1884 but did
not show your colors."

Soon after we reached Washington, at the British Em-
bassy I met Mrs. William E. Chandler and her husband,
who was then in the Senate. Mrs. Chandler was so cordial
in her greetings that it caused comment until it was learned
that we had been neighbors and particular friends in 1883
and 1884 during the Arthur administration.

My second meeting with Mr. Cleveland was at the
dinner to the Infanta Eulalie, an aunt of the King of Spain,
Alphonso XIII. The dinner was not good, as I remember
it. The soup gave out, and among those who did not get
any was Postmaster-General Bissell. The silver looked
like plated ware that had been in use in a boarding house.
Mrs. Cleveland afterwards had it melted and made smaller
in size and into a greater number of pieces. At that time
there was not silverware enough in the White House to set
a State dinner, and there was no contingent fund out of
which additional silver could have been purchased. Not-
withstanding this, Mrs. Cleveland's action in having it
melted was much criticized, as the silver had been bought
during a great many different administrations and some of
it had been in the White House for many years.

It had been arranged by the previous administration
to bring the Infanta Eulalie and the Duke de Veragua
to the World's Columbian Exposition as our nation's
guests. The Duke de Veragua was a lineal descendant of
Christopher Columbus. A member of royalty cannot be
entertained in a republic without embarrassment to both
parties. The invitation having been extended, it could
not be withdrawn. When the Spanish minister represent-
ed that the Infanta demanded that a furnished house with


a full retinue of servants be put at her disposal in both
Washington and Chicago, the answer given the minister
was that ample accommodations would be provided in
the hotels. There was surprise in the inner circles of
the administration when the minister announced that Her
Highness would come at the appointed time.

She and her suite were met at the station by the Secre-
tary of State and conducted to the Arlington Hotel. The
next day Her Highness and the Spanish minister were
taken by the Secretary of State to the White House and
presented to President Cleveland. Mr. Cleveland did not
return the call. At this Her Highness and the Spanish
minister took great offense, which the people of Chicago
thought should not have been vented oh them. Among
other outings that had been planned for her was a trip to
Mount Vernon, which took place after the trip to Chicago.
I was sent along as the representative of the administra-
tion. We went down the river and back on the ' 'Dauphin. "
I had much conversation with Her Highness. She said
among other things that she always wanted to come to
the United States, where women were so free and had
such a good time. She was a flirty, frivolous woman, not
the kind that would ever have attained the freedom some
American women know so well how to enjoy, but which
may be abused if society passes into the hands of some of
our latter-day sisters.

The Duke de Veragua and the Infanta Eulalie visited
the World's Fair under the auspices of the State Depart-
ment. But Her Highness would not meet the Duke. She
and her suite consumed an extraordinary amount of beer,
cognac, cigarettes, and champagne during the visit to Chi-
cago. Consternation and horror reigned in the Board of
Lady Managers, when they learned that the newspaper
men were on the point of telegraphing it broadcast over the
country that the cause of Her Highness' conduct, at least
at one reception, was that she was under the influence of


liquor. But the newspaper men were complaisant, and
suppressed, as they often have, a good story. Still there
was wide publicity.

The Board of Lady Managers of the World's Fair, of
which Mrs. Potter Palmer was the head, had many func-
tions for the Spanish guest. Mrs. Palmer's jewels so far
outshone those of the Infanta that the latter told a few
friends in confidence they were glass. Such confidences
are always soon broadcast, as they are often intended to
be, and the result was that there was a great commotion
in the Board of Lady Managers and among the Chicago
society women who wore their most beautiful toilettes and
had irreproachable manners. At receptions Her Highness
insisted on receiving the guests sitting; not even to the
Vice-President of the United States would she rise and
give her hand. At some of the functions she even refused
to meet the guests. She accepted invitations, and at the
last minute, without excuse or apology, broke them.

The visit of the Infanta Eulalie did the cause of poor
old Spain much harm in America. One of the ladies
whose position clothed her with the responsibility of hostess
to Her Highness, concluded her account to the Secretary
of State:

Of course no one knows why Congress invited this represen-
tative of a queen to our country, and neither do we know why she
accepted the invitation. It would seem that there must have
been some idea on foot of doing her honor, and on her part of
receiving attentions in a proper spirit, and cementing the bond of
good feeling between the two countries. I think it rather for-
tunate that we are to have no more royal personages, for I feel
sure that neither the press nor the people could succeed another
time in smothering their feelings in case they were outraged.

The Secretary of State made no secret of his relief when
Her Highness sailed for home. The Duke de Veragua so en-
joyed American hospitality and was so impervious to all
hints that he was overstaying his invitation, that finally


Secretary of State Gresham wrote the naval officer, Com-
modore Davis, who had him in charge, to take him to New
York and bid him good-bye.

Sir Juhan Pauncefote, the EngHsh ambassador, had
been educated for the bar. His legal education, he said,
was a great aid in his diplomatic work. A mastery of the
details of the practice and the principles of jurisprudence
as applied in the courts for years and corrected by Parlia-
ment, had made plain, he said, that the great question of
the age was the economic one, that of capital and labor,
and it was so recognized by his government. It was to be
solved on principles of righteousness and justice, and the
same was becoming truer every day of international prob-
lems. In this he and Walter Q. Gresham were in accord
at the start.

Early in the administration, as I have before stated, at
the same time the British and French governments raised
their ministers to ambassadors to the United States, great
rivalry ensued between Sir Julian Pauncefote, the British
minister, and M. Jusserand, the French minister, as to who
should become the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, which
depended on who was first recognized by our government
as ambassador. My husband took the lead in recognizing
Sir Julian first, and in raising Mr. Bayard, our minister to
Great Britain, to the rank of ambassador. M. Jusserand
was very much disappointed and sulked like a boy, but
after a time suppressed his disappointment and acted the
diplomat. Madame Jusserand never could conceal her dis-
appointment. She was the daughter of a very rich resi-
dent of Georgetown who had made his money publishing
the New York Ledger. Lady Pauncefote and the Misses
Pauncefote were very agreeable, and our relations with all
were particularly intimate. Notwithstanding that Mr.
Cleveland put Lady Pauncefote on his right, he did much
more talking to me than he did to her, and I was much
freer in giving him my views than was the staid English

Cleveland's second administration 697

woman. But our positions were different. I was at home
and she was abroad.

With all diplomats our relations, of course, were cordial.
Especially were we on intimate terms with Prince Cantacu-

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