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

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zene, the Russian minister. Walter Q. Gresham, at his
first meeting with the prince, acknowledged our indebted-
ness to Russia for the aid his government had rendered us
during the War of the Rebellion. With all the representa-
tives of the South American republics we were intimate.
The Mexican minister, M. Romero, and M. Mendonga,
the Brazilian minister, were among my husband's special
friends. He regarded them as men of exceptional ability.
But it was, not so with all the diplomats. The telegraph
has made it easy for a man without much natural gift
to succeed in the diplomatic service, where years ago he
could not. I never met a disagreeable woman among
the families of the diplomats. But the same number of
American women in their places would have been far
better informed and more alert. The brightest woman
among them I ever knew was Madame De Struve, the
wife of the Russian minister in Mr. Arthur's time.

During the Arthur administration the wives of the
members of the Chinese Embassy were never seen in
public. We did not even meet them in private. I remem-
ber that we were shown the Chinese baby that was born
at the Chinese Embassy, but not the mother.

The first wife of a representative of an Oriental nation
to appear in public was Madame Yang-Yu. It was during
the second Cleveland administration. She was the wife
of the Chinese minister. When I first met her she felt
the contrast between our dresses and costumes, much it
seems to me, as I would have felt it had our places been
reversed and I been in China. She manifested it by tak-
ing my sleeve and saying, "Pretty!"— one of the few
English words she could utter.



698 LIFE OF WALTER QUINTIN GRESHAM

The duty devolved on me to introduce Madame Yang-Yu
to the public, as the Chinese minister had requested that I
should do so. It was arranged that I should call on her and
take her, at an appointed time, to the White House to visit
Mrs. Cleveland. But when we started from the Embassy,
she asked to be driven around the city and to the Capitol,
and to be shown the public buildings. It was not according
to orders, but I determined the Chinese woman should have
her way. Accompanying her was an interpreter and her
little boy, a bright little fellow, eight or nine years of age.
She appeared in her Oriental costume, with all its bright
colors, and as we were in an open carriage and she was the
first Chinese woman to appear in public, we attracted a
great deal of attention. The newsboys and gamins chased
us and yelled at us. They said, "Hey, here's your China
woman!" The Madame enjoyed it, the boys enjoyed it,
and while it was not to my taste to be chased and hooted
at by the Washington urchins, I bore it until we had driven
the town over. Then later I took her to the White House to
see it and meet Mrs. Cleveland. She was very curious as
well as bright, and examined our dresses and the furniture,
and was shown everything in the White House, from the
kitchen to the garret.

The first time Madame Yang-Yu attended a dinner out
of the Embassy was at one of the diplomatic dinners given
by my husband and myself. In the arrangement of the
seats, which was according to diplomatic etiquette, the Port-
uguese minister was assigned to take out to dinner the
wife of the Chinese minister. This made him very indig-
nant. He protested and said that she might be one of
several of the Chinese minister's wives. But he was told
he could not object on that ground, as we had no official or
unofficial advices that there was any other wife, or wives,
than Madame Yang-Yu.

At the diplomatic dinner at the White House, following
this dinner, the Portuguese minister, much to his disgust,



Cleveland's second administration 699

was again seated beside Madame Yang-Yu. As she seemed
to be having a quiet time of it and the minister still bore his
ill-tempered look, I caught her eye and raised my glass to
her. After the dinner she came to me, and we sat for a
long time on the sofa in the East Room and talked as well
as we could with my little Chinese and her not a little Eng-
lish, and partly by signs. After a time some of the ladies
came up and asked me what we were talking about. I told
them the Madame was commenting on the large amount
of material in their trains and the absence of it on their
shoulders.

Yang-Yu was an astute old fellow. In intellect he was
the match for any of the diplomats. He came to see us
often. On one occasion he asked us about our Christ, and
then said, "If only his followers are to be saved, how about
our Confucius and his followers?"

Before the Chinese-Japanese war and while we were
in Washington, Mr. Kurino, the Japanese minister, was
not accompanied by his wife. I saw a good deal of him,
and my husband much more.

It was the universal desire that the President and Mrs.
Cleveland attend the World's Columbian Exposition. The
Board of Lady Managers sent to Mrs. Cleveland a special
invitation, and it was a great disappointment to them and
to the thousands of others who expected to see her that she
did not visit the Fair. Mr. Cleveland, Mr. and Mrs. Car-
lisle, Secretary of the Interior Smith, Secretary of the Navy-
Herbert and Miss Herbert, and ex-Secretary of State
Thomas F. Bayard and Mrs. Bayard, who were invited
at my husband's request, my husband's secretary, Ken-
esaw M. Landis, my husband, and I made up the party
which went to Chicago on a special car.

At this time Mr. Bayard had been appointed ambas-
sador to Great Britain, and it was his and my husband's de-
sire that he visit the World's Columbian Exposition before
taking up his duties at the Court of St. James. In the



700 LIFE OF WALTER QUINTIN GRESHAM

convention that nominated Mr. Cleveland for the Presi-
dency in 1884, Mr. Bayard had been a formidable candidate.
Secretary of State during Mr. Cleveland's first adminis-
tration, Mr. Bayard had been, with W. C. Whitney, an
advocate of Mr. Cleveland's renomination in 1892. While
in Mr. Arthur's cabinet my husband had become intimate
with Mr. Bayard and had kept up that cordiality during
the intervening years, and most friendly and intimate were
their relations while my husband was in the State Depart-
ment and Mr. Bayard at the Court of St. James.

Mr. Cleveland spent several days in Chicago. We
arrived at the city the Saturday before the Monday the
Fair was to be opened. Mr. Cleveland went to our church,
the Second Presbyterian, of which Dr. Simon J. McPherson
was pastor, and then accepted the invitation of my daugh-
ter to attend the christening of her baby, Harriet Carle-
ton Andrews. The afternoon was spent at our residence.
There Mr. Cleveland was visited by a great many of our
neighbors, almost all of whom were Republicans who had
depreciated my husband for voting for Mr. Cleveland.
Mr. Cleveland made himself most agreeable, and after-
wards many of them told me my husband had not made so
great a mistake after all in voting for him.

At the opening of the World's Fair Mr. Cleveland made
a short speech, in excellent taste, and it was well received,
as he was. In a crowd he was a man who took with the
people. They felt he was one of them. They-trusted him.
No one could view him in a crowd and fail to understand his
influence over people. Not only would they go to see him,
but they would vote for him. The only man at the Fair
who could not get near him was the mayor of the city, the
elder Carter H. Harrison, who wanted to be United States
Senator and desired to know how Illinois patronage was to
be dispensed.



CHAPTER XLV
SILVER AND THE TARIFF



repeal of sherman silver act volney t. malott,

indianapolis banker, urges preservation of integ-
rity of the treasury congress provides for coinage

of nine million dollars of silver bullion in treas-
ury bryan makes brilliant decoration day ad-
dress democratic national convention at chicago

Bryan's great silver speech — Cleveland authorizes
sale of united states bonds to replenish the gold
reserve wilson-gorman tariff act.

T REMAINED behind to close up our home, so I did
-*- not go back to Washington with the Presidential
party from the World's Fair. In Chicago I heard much
of the panic, which I knew was on before my husband
thought of becoming Secretary of State, and the existence
of which was one of the reasons why I had urged him to
decline Mr. Cleveland's offer. It was being fanned for
political and financial reasons.

Mr. and Mrs. Potter Palmer, who had been insistent
on my husband's going into Cleveland's cabinet, had al-
ways been Democrats and were much concerned in a polit-
ical way. They were for the repeal of the Sherman Silver
Act. Potter Palmer, a practical man of affairs, was one
of the ablest men I ever knew. He was born and reared
in western New York, and when as a very young man he
started West with several thousand dollars it was pre-
dicted the youth and his money would soon part company.
Instead, the nest egg grew. He had all kinds of property,
much of it in stocks and bonds. He founded and sold the
business that made Marshall Field and L. Z. Leiter their

701



702 LIFE OF WALTER QUINTIN GRESHAM

fortunes, known to-day as Marshall Field & Company.
In the hotel business Potter Palmer increased his fortune.
Borrowing three-quarters of a million to rebuild after the
fire, he was ready and offered to pay before the loan was
due. So good was his credit that he had to pay interest
until maturity. Mr. and Mrs. Palmer I believe were among
my husband's best and most disinterested friends. They
had no notes payable in gold to meet, and owned no notes
that were simply payable in money without specifying the
kind of money, so they were not influenced by any direct
personal interests. In the event that the government
went on a silver basis, it would be difficult for people to
get the gold to meet their obligations payable in that
medium, while, on the other hand, the creditor, except
when gold was specified, would have to be content with
silver; that is, he would have to be satisfied with about
fifty-three cents on the dollar. A woman who thirty years
before, during the depression of the Civil War, had con-
sidered hoarding a few gold dollars herself, could under-
stand how the big financial houses were then hoarding gold.
Woman-like, perhaps, I jumped to a conclusion too
quickly. It was a panic that came from a former admin-
istration. The solution seemed easy to me. Let it come
and get it over with. I went back to Washington in a
couple of weeks. There the talk was of nothing but the
panic. The question was. Would the President call an
extra session of Congress? The first morning after my
return to Washington I went with my husband for a short
ride. We stopped at the White House and there met
Mr. Cleveland and Secretary Carlisle. They talked about
an extra session of Congress. Cleveland said the barrier
to that was Senator Voorhees, chairman of the Finance
Committee of the Senate: "He is unalterably committed
to silver." There was a silence, and the freedom with
which Mr. Cleveland had imposed his confidence on me,
as it seemed to me, I suppose prompted the impulse, for I



SILVER AND THE TARIFF 703

said: "You gentlemen ought to be out more among the
people. The big panic that is coming you can not now
prevent. You can only postpone it. Let it come now;
have it over with. The people will then see who is to
blame. The RepubHcan financial and tariff legislation
has brought it about. If you postpone it, the Republi-
cans will say you brought it on." Mr. Cleveland's eyes
twinkled, Mr. CarHsle looked at me approvingly, but my
husband said, "Tillie, what do you know about such mat-
ters?" That was the expression he used when I got the
best of the argument — which was seldom, I must confess.
"Very well," I replied, "I will go and see Mrs. Cleveland
and meet you at lunch."

This was in May. Volney T. Malott, the IndianapoHs
banker, had been in Washington in April, before this con-
versation took place.

Mr. Malott had long been getting ready. His bank was
well suppHed with gold. Many other bankers were also
prepared for the emergency. They had supplied them-
selves with gold and were ready to make two for one the
minute the country went on a silver basis. The gold in
the United States Treasury was down to $90,000,000.
But Volney T. Malott was an honest and patriotic man.
As a teller of a bank, he had been through the panic
of 1857, and he not only was familiar with the financial
legislation of the country and with the bankers in the
large cities of the country, but also knew personally the
bankers and business men of Indiana. He knew their
relations to Senator Voorhees. He said Senator Voorhees
would not be heedless to importunities that might come to
him from his Democratic friends in banking and business
enterprises in Indiana. He could name his men with
facility. The Secretary of State took Mr. Malott to the
White House to repeat his statements to Mr. Cleveland.

Mr. Malott strongly urged the calling of a special ses-
sion of Congress and the taking of ever}^ measure possible
45



704 LIFE OF WALTER QUINTIN GRESHAM

to preserve the integrity of the Treasury. To this Cleveland
answered that the objection to calling an extra session of
Congress was the chairman of the Financial Committee
of the Senate. Mr. Malott told of the Democratic constit-
uents of Senator Voorhees who would, if given the tip,
implore the Senator to report a bill repealing a silver bill
for which he, Voorhees, did not vote. Still Mr. Cleveland
thought Senator Voorhees could not be induced to consent
to the repeal of the purchasing clause of the Sherman Silver
Act, and hesitated to call an extra session.

With some of the Republican leaders inoculated with
the free silver virus as they had been with the greenback
heresies, and with their disposition to play small politics, in
which they were aided by those who were profiting unduly
by the tariff, it was a serious problem for a President who
was not in harmony, personally as well as politically, with
the chairman of the Financial Committee of the Senate.
There was a conference at the home of ex-Senator Thomas
F. Bayard in Wilmington before he went to London as
ambassador to Great Britain. The Secretary of State
took with him a hst of Senator Voorhees' Indiana friends
that Mr Malott had prepared. Mr. Bayard scanned them
carefully. Of course he had known Senator Voorhees long
and intimately. He believed Senator Voorhees would favor
the repeal of the Sherman Act, and was insistent that an
extra session be called ; but still Mr. Cleveland hung back.

At this time there was in Washington a wealthy New
York man by the name of Seth Barton French. He had
been a business associate of J. P. Morgan. He had grown
children, and he had been a widower, but had married a
young wife. She was very fond of society, and her father
desired a diplomatic position. Mr. French and General
Bristow were great friends, and in addition, their relations
had been that of lawyer and client.

At the instance of the Secretary of State, General Bris-
tow asked Mr. French to get up a dinner party and invite



SILVER AND THE TARIFF 705

Mr. and Mrs. Morgan. They came, and at the dinner I
sat by Mr. Morgan's side. There was doubt as to how he
would line up, so he was an object of great curiosity to me.
He was uncommunicative, I soon discovered, and I feigned
ignorance of all questions oolitical, although I knew exactly
what was going on.

Mr. Morgan fell into line for the repeal of the Sherman
Act. Business men everywhere were urged to come out
for an extra session of Congress, and Mrs. French's father
got the desired diplomatic position.

Then it was with Mr. Cleveland's consent that the Sec-
retary of State wrote to Mr. Malott at Indianapolis that
Senator Voorhees' business and financial friends in the
Democratic party should begin their importunities to their
Senator to join in the movement to repeal the Sherman
Act. Letters came from every county in Indiana. When
the Senator heard from the bankers in Green and Owen
counties, he remarked, "And here are Green and Owen;
sweet Owen — God bless her! — she has never failed me."
That sealed the fate of the Sherman Silver Act. But for
the financial situation, an extra session would have been
called to revise the tariff. August 7 the special session
assembled for the sole purpose of repealing the Sher-
man Act.

Senator Voorhees had been receiving from the very
start all the patronage usually accorded to a senator, or,
to put it in other language, all the men that he wanted
appointed to office were appointed. He never went to the
White House with his requests but always to the State
Department. Henry Watterson, who was a sound money
man, said, "Leave Voorhees to Gresham."

I had known Mrs. Voorhees when I was in Washington
before. Almost daily I saw Senator Voorhees during the
summer that they were endeavoring to repeal the Sherman
Act. If he did not come to call on my husband during the
day my husband went in the evening to see him at his



7o6 LIFE OF WALTER QUINTIN GRESHAM

residence. Frequently my husband was absent when he
called. He talked to me a great deal about Thomas A.
Hendricks and Joseph E. MacDonald. It was never any
effort to listen to Daniel W. Voorhees.

At first the Republican leaders were disposed to play
politics and let the administration flounder, and they were
encouraged in this by Senator Morgan of Alabama, who
had come home chagrined over the defeat in the Bering
Sea award. Mr. Morgan declared in a speech in the
Senate that he would not be cuckoo for the White House
clock. But the situation was so grave and so acute that
partisanship had to be suppressed, and the Republican lead-
ers of the sound money persuasion, like Senators Aldrich,
Hoar, Hale, Lodge, Quay, and Senator Sherman himself
— some of whom had not desired but had acquiesced in
the passage of the Sherman Act — came to the aid of the
administration and accepted the leadership of a man they
claimed had stood for all the financial heresies of the times.

When Walter Q. Gresham was assailed for leading in
the fight for the repeal of the Sherman Act — Senator
Cullom being one of its instigators, purely for political
reasons — Joseph Medill repudiated his Washington corre-
spondent, and to use one of Mr. Medill's own expressions,
took Shelby by his coat-tails, sat him down in his seat, and
voted him for the repeal of the act he had helped to pass.

One of the questions much mooted was how Senator
Voorhees could justify himself in forcing the passage of
any act that would tend to lessen the volume of the circu-
lating medium, as the repeal of the Sherman Act would do.
I had heard the private discussions. I went to the Senate
gallery and heard what was said in public.

Senator Voorhees naively told the people of the country
in his speech, when he reported the bill for the repeal of the
Sherman Act, that while he was a silver man he was not the
kind of a silver man that Senators Aldrich, Gorham, Hale,
Morgan, Sherman, and others were, because, as he said,



SILVER AND THE TARIFF 707

he had voted against the passage of their Sherman Act. Of
course, he might have added — which he did not — that the
reason he did not vote for the Sherman Act was because it
was limited, while he wanted an unlimited free coinage act.
I enjoyed the speech. But I could see that Senator Aldrich
did not. His face was interesting, as were the faces of
Senators Hoar, Fry, and Hale, as Senator Voorhees spoke.
All they could do was to keep still while Senator Voorhees
denounced them as half-baked silver men. "Some day,"
he said, "we will get a silver bill that is a silver bill."

Late in October the Sherman Silver Act was repealed.
One argument that was used — hinted at in the debate by
Senator Voorhees and much talked of in the conferences —
was that as silver was one of the monies mentioned in the
Constitution, there was no hostility to it, as money, in
pressing the repeal of the Sherman Act. J. Sterling Mor-
ton, the Secretary of Agriculture, induced Cleveland to
permit him to make an authorized statement that per se
there was no hostility on the part of the administration to
silver as money.

Statements like these were made, and my husband
made them and they were potential. They soon had an
important bearing on Mr. Cleveland's party relations.

When the Sherman Act was repealed, there remained
$9,000,000 of silver bullion in the Treasury. After a time
the silver men succeeded in getting through Congress a
bill providing for the coinage of this $9,000,000 of bullion
into dollars. It was to be coined on the basis of sixteen
to one, while the commercial value of gold to silver was
about thirty-two to one. Mr. Cleveland was urged to
sign the bill, on the theory that it would tend to satisfy
the silver men and would be keeping faith with some of
those who had voted for the repeal of the Sherman
purchasing clause.

My husband was cne of the men who urged this
upon President Cleveland. Furthermore, he said to hirn,



7o8 LIFE OF WALTER QUINTIN GRESHAM

"Eighteen million more of silver dollars in circulation will
not impair the government credit ; it will get the bullion out
of the Treasury where it is a continual bait to the silver
men." Then it was that Mr. Cleveland for the first time
took the position, as he said, that he would drive the South-
ern Senators and Representatives to sound money, or, as
it was then called, the Gold Standard platform. In reply
to this statement, my husband said: "You cannot drive
them your way, but you are liable to drive them out of
your party, and with the vSilver Republicans put the country
on a silver basis."

President Cleveland and all the cabinet were at Arling-
ton Cemetery on Decoration Day, May 30, 1894. William
Jennings Bryan, then a member of Congress, was the orator
of the day. As they drove home, in commenting on Mr.
Bryan's address, the Secretary of State said to the Presi-
dent, "You will have to reckon with this man Bryan in
the future." Still Mr. Cleveland did not believe it.

Two years later, at Chicago, I sat on the platform at the
Democratic National Convention and saw Mr. Bryan walk
off with the Democratic nomination for president. In the
various State delegations before me I recognized the faces of
many of the Southern Senators and Congressmen I had met
in Washington. The silver men were known to be in a large
majority, and were supposed to favor the nomination of
Congressman Richard Bland of Missouri, "Silver Dick," as
he was called. The Cleveland and Hill Democrats in New
York had healed their differences for the time, and Senator
Hill sat at the head of the New York delegation. Governor
J. E. Russell, at the head of the Massachusetts delegation,
led New England; W. C. Whitney, Colonel J. R. Fellows,
the orator of Tammany, and Senator Gray of Delaware,
made up the complement of gold men.

After two days of speeches, many of them most excellent,
on the loth of June the Committee on Resolutions made
its report. Senator Jones of Arkansas, the chairman of



SILVER AND THE TARIFF 709

the committee, presented it. He said there were two
minority reports, one advocated by Senator Hill of New
York and the other by Senator Tillman of South Carolina.
The committee had been in session all the night before,
as was evident from the appearance of the participants.
Senator Tillman led off, but made a bad impression. He
wanted the Cleveland administration censured because it
had preserved the gold standard, and he took Senator
Hill to task for refusing to unite in the "merited rebuke."
He advocated silver at sixteen to one; said it was a sec-
tional issue, and boasted, "I come from the home session."
Senator Jones, an ex-Confederate, was on his feet and was
cheered to the echo when he repudiated everything Tillman
had said except his proposition to coin silver at the ratio
of sixteen to one.

But Senator Tillman's suggestion about secession was
not bad. At any rate, it was adopted later. It should
have been immediately, right out of the Convention. It
all depends on why you secede. South Carolina seceded to
perpetuate slavery. The New England and New York
Democrats seceded from their party in 1896 to save the
solvency of the nation, but they were so slow about going
that they almost failed of their object. And when they
did start, it took an ex- Confederate or an ex-Secessionist
to lead them.

Senator Hill was not happy in the way he began his
speech: "I am a Democrat, and South Carolina with all
her power can not drive me out of the party." He con-



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