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

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tended against any single standard, and said the United
vStates could not attempt the unlimited coinage of silver
without the aid of other nations. His main argument was
bimetallism. He did not then advocate the single gold
standard, as he had done in Washington a few months
before, as the spokesman in the Senate of the "sound"
money men.

William Jennings Bryan closed the debate for the silver


men. The first word he uttered seemed to reach the last
man on the outer edge of the vast crowd. He stood right
by me and I scanned him closely. He appeared taller than
he really was, with a young, smooth, and kindly face, but
a wild and defiant look in his eye that was not natural and
I never saw afterwards. He spoke with the utmost ease,
and seemed possessed of still more physical and vocal
power than he was expending. That there was a charm
and fascination in his oratory was manifest from the effect
on his audience. Only a few refused to go along with him.
He answered Senator Hill when he said, "If the gold stand-
ard is the standard of civilization, why, my friends, should
we not have it^ If they say bimetallism is good, but we
can not have it till some nation helps us, we reply that
instead of having a gold standard because England has,
we shall restore bimetallism and let England have bimet-
allism because the United States has."

Then followed such a scene as was never witnessed in
a National convention. The great majority of the vast
audience had been with Mr. Bryan from the first word he
uttered. Their demonstrations were unrestrained as he
concluded: "You can not crucify humanity with a cross
of gold and a crown of thorns of gold." Many staid gold
standard people were carried off their feet. Aside from
New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Massa-
chusetts, and Connecticutt, where the delegations were all
gold men, every State standard except that of Indiana was
planted by the Nebraska standard. Indiana had a favorite
son candidate for the Presidency in the person of the chief
executive of the State, Claude Matthews, but with all that,
the Indiana delegates did not want Mr. Matthews nomi-
nated. For fear of giving color to their feeHngs, John E.
Lamb and Senator Turpie held the Indiana banner in its
isolated position. More than two-thirds of the States
were represented among the banners that stood by the
Nebraska delegation. "It nominates him," went around


the platform. I said it; Mrs. Palmer said it. "Never,"
said a man who had been to many National conventions.
"Wait until the practical men along about midnight hear
from the old man. He will pull his New York, Pennsyl-
vania, and New England delegates out of the convention
and there will be some adjustment."

Mrs. Bryan was on the platform and as her husband
concluded many an eye was turned on her. It was a try-
ing place for any woman. She bore herself well; declining
to be interviewed, she withdrew with admirable deftness.
When asked, "How will she do in the White House?" my
answer was, "You have seen enough; judge for yourself."

Pandemonium reigned so long that the convention ad-
journed without voting on the platform.

The next morning as the platform was adopted the gold
men in the New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Penn-
sylvania, Delaware, and Connecticut delegations sat silent.
They refused to vote aye or nay. It was the greatest
mistake ever made by a large body of practical men in a
political convention. They should have "walked out."

Perhaps Mr. Cleveland could not at that .time have led
his friends to the logical conclusion to which all his acts
and advice pointed. But he had the telegraph and the
telephone at his command, and in the interval between
Mr. Bryan's speech and the adoption of the report of the
majority of the Committee on Resolutions the President of
the United States should have attempted to command, or
''drive,'" if you please. As soon as Henry Watterson heard
of the action of the convention he sent a cable from Paris
to put up an Independent gold ticket.

Whatever faults Mr. Cleveland may have possessed, he
never, in anyway, either directly or indirectly, profitted by
reason of his official position. I mention this, not to give
color to a false rumor, but to refute unjust criticism and
bear my testimony to his worth. Malignity and ignorance
know no bounds. Because the cupidity of men must be


reckoned with by men in the administration of govern-
mental affairs, is no reason for saying the latter are dis-
honest because the former are. Prompt action in conducting
a government is sometimes necessary. Words may be and
often are idle in a crisis. In order to supply the Treasury
of the United States with gold, the gold reserve having
been depleted before the Sherman Silver Act was repealed,
President Cleveland, under authority of the Resumption
Acts, sold J. P. Morgan & Company and the Rothschilds
$50,000,000 of bonds at par, and they made eight million
on the deal. Then it was that the New York World and a
string of bankers criticized the Administration for not hav-
ing in the first instance offered the bonds to the public,
and they supplemented their criticism with the statement
that had they been given the opportunity they would have
bid more than par for the bonds. The administration was
not disturbed by the criticism, but was gratified by the talk
of what the gentlemen would do, because it knew that before
conditions became normal there would have to be more
bonds put out. It soon called in its critics, and to their
credit be it said, they responded. To have invited bids in
the first instance would have increased the run on the
Treasury, and before a dollar of gold could have been
realized the country would have been on a silver basis. At
the time and under the circumstances, an appeal to Mr.
Morgan's pride and cupidity was Mr. Cleveland's duty.

Afterwards Mr. Morgan's vanity led him to assert that
he showed Mr. Cleveland the way under the Resumption
Acts to issue bonds to keep the United States Treasury
on a specie basis. But the fact is, that at the Lakewood
■conference, February 22, 1893, President-elect Cleveland,
Secretary of State (to-be) Gresham, and Secretary of the
Treasury (to-be) Carlisle, canvassed this question and
decided that under the Resumption Acts the Secretary of
the Treasury had the power to sell bonds to get gold and
that it should be done if the emergency arose.


Had the administration of Grover Cleveland been able
at the outset to take up the tariff, the real issue on which
Mr. Cleveland was elected, it would have formulated and
passed a tariff or revenue bill that might have taken the
tariff out of politics for a generation; but, as we have just
shown, much of its power and practically all of its patron-
age were exhausted in saving the credit of the nation, in
repealing the Sherman Act. The service the modest banker
of Indianapolis rendered the country in the crisis should
never be forgotten. For in the ultimate analysis, it was
Volney T. Malott who repealed the Sherman Silver Act.

I have already adverted to the simplicity of the Cleve-
land household. When it came to jewelry and clothing,
Mrs. Cleveland was economy itself. She never dressed as
handsomely as I thought the first lady of the land should.
She had but few jewels — a few diamond ornaments and
pins and an ordinary little diamond necklace. The wife of
General Draper of Massachusetts I had known as Miss
Susie Preston of Lexington, Kentucky. She was a second
wife. General Draper was then a wealthy manufacturer
and a minority member of the Ways and Means Committee
of the House. Mrs. Draper boasted to me at this time that
she gave dinners enough to make the tariff right as far as
her husband's business was concerned. She was talking
about the Wilson bill — the bill that the Republicans called
the Free Trade measure that destroyed the interests of
the country.

The Sugar Trust was one of the interests which had a
large and powerful lobby in Washington. Many members
of the Senate were said to be interested in sugar stocks.
My husband did not hesitate to denounce them by name.^

1 March 15, 1893, Secretary Grosham wrote the following letter to Judge Allen of Spring-
field, Illinois:

"I have your letter of the 7th, and will inform the President what you think it would
be wise for him to do at this time. I can readily understand that if the President should
send such a message some people would charge that he was endeavoring to dictate to a co-
ordinate branch of the government. The situation is deplorable, and I sometimes fear no
tariff bill will pass this session. There are traitors in the camp, so-called Democratic Senators


Though the bill was properly drawn in the House, the
interests and the high tariff Democrats in the Senate, men
like Senators Gorman of Maryland and Morgan of Alabama,
united with the Republicans in making it largely a protec-
tionist measure, and hence the name Wilson-Gorman tariff.
The Sugar Trust got what it desired. It is true that the
bill contained many substantial additions to the free list,
such as coal, wool, and certain grades of iron, raw materials
for our manufacturies. Still Mr. Cleveland withheld his
signature, and his reasons for not signing it were set forth
in a letter to Representative Catchings of Mississippi.
In this letter he said that he could not veto the bill because
it contained much that was good, but he would not sign it
because "the time will come when the people s representatives
and not the communism of pelf will write the people s tariff

That Henry Watterson had good ground for complaint
against the Wilson Act is not to be questioned. But his
criticism of Cleveland because of it, is shown to be unjust
when we consider Mr. Cleveland's letter to Mr. Catchings.
During the dog days of 1894 when it looked as if the interests
might prevent any tariff legislation Mr. Watterson tele-
graphed Secretary of State Gresham : "My suggestion is.
Get Congress to adjourn without any tariff legislation, then
with a ringing appeal let the President call an immediate
session. If he will allow me I shall have a practical propo-
sition to make. Things could not be worse than they are.
Assure Mr. Cleveland of my loyal friendship."

Friendship does not always influence the judgment and
so it was Marse Henry's plan that found more favor with
the President than with the Secretary of State. The latter

who are strong protectionists and desire to see the McKinley Law remain in force. This may
sound incredible to you, but it is true nevertheless. The interests now at stake are stupendous,
and there is danger some Senators may be approached on their mercenary side. If the session
adjourns without tariff legislation being enacted, the people will conclude the Democratic
Party has forfeited their confidence. Business will revive after the passage of any bill, or
after it is demonstrated that no bill can pass; and if none does pass the Republicans will claim
they have saved the country from free trade legislation, and that they are entitled to any
credit for increased prosperity."


pressed the contest and a few days later ^ the Wilson bill
was put in the President's hands. Long afterwards Mr.
Cleveland stated in my presence that one of his mistakes
was the refusal to sign that bill. He knew that I knew
that WaHer Q. Gresham had urged him to sign it. Since
those days Mr. Watterson has made plain his "Tariff for
Revenue Only." It is not free trade. Any tariff, he admits,
is protection. Plainly and primarily, a tariff or customs duty
is for revenue, but call it what you may, the restraints it
imposes are protection. It is not surprising that the Wilson
Act, passed in the midst of a panic which the tariff barons
fomented and kept up as long as they could, was not a
revenue producer at first. It was denounced from the
stump by the Republicans as a free trade measure because
it did not produce the revenue necessary to meet the
expenses of the government, and yet before it was repealed
it was producing a surplus; and as was stated by Speaker
Joseph G. Cannon, the Republican "standpatter," in a
public speech in defending the Payne-Aldrich bill, the
average duties in the Payne-Aldrich bill were a trifle lower
than the average duties in the Wilson-Gorman Tariff Act.
Consistency is not always essential in political warfare. Mr.
Cleveland's letter to Mr. Catchings refusing to sign the bill
was used against it and its income tax provision.

Judge Gresham advocated the incorporation of the
income tax in the Wilson Tariff Bill. To the appeals of
the big men of the country he was impervious. To the
objection that an income tax was a direct tax and must be
apportioned, he said there was the " Hylton"^ case, the case
in which the first Congress put a tax on carriages; it was
admitted by all to be a direct tax, yet it received the
sanction of President Washington and the Supreme Court.
The grounds on which the Supreme Court subsequently
held the Income Tax Law unconstitutional were canvassed,

1 Aug. 18, 1894.

ZHylton vs. United States. 3 Dallas 171, 1796.


and many a doubter was won over to the theory that
such a tax was constitutional. " President Washington evi-
dently was of that opinion." It was beHeved that Chief
Justice Fuller thought such a bill would be constitutional.
But it was finally decided unconstitutional by a divided
court, the Chief Justice writing the opinion. When Judge
Gresham was told in his sick room that the Chief Justice's
opinion was very long, thirty pages in length, he said:
"Fuller is in doubt. A long winded opinion by a Court
usually means that. How did he get around the Hylton
and Springer cases? "^ The gossip was in certain of the
administration circles, and Walter Q. Gresham was one of
the men who advanced the theory that the Chief Justice
became resentful against the administration from the time
the President refused to appoint his former law partner.
Judge Henry M. Shepard, one of the judges of the Circuit
Court of Cook County, to a place on the United States
Circuit Court bench in the Seventh Circuit. Instead, John
W. Showalter was appointed to this place. Joseph Medill
and Potter Palmer were very urgent in pressing Mr.
Shepard's appointment.

The virulent nature of the language in the dissenting
opinions, four to five with one justice changing sides on
final hearing, makes it proper to refer, as I have done, to
come of the things that were said in private about the
Income Tax case.^

1 Springer vs. United States, 102 U. S. 586.

2 Pollock vs. Farmers Loan and Trust Co., 157 U. S. 429 and 158 U. S. 601.






TT was in the Department of State, during the second
-^ Cleveland administration, that the greatest public in-
terest centered.

The coming Bering Sea arbitration, between the United
States and Great Britain nominally, but really with the
Dominion of Canada, over the Alaska seal fisheries, sched-
uled for February 23, 1893, and actually begun thirty days
later, was one of the subjects Mr. Cleveland asked Judge
Gresham to come to Lakewood to confer about, at the time
he accepted the office of Secretary of State. In addition
to conferring with Cleveland at Lakewood, my husband
met our old friend, Colonel John W. Foster, in New York.
Mr. Foster was then Secretary of State under President
Harrison, and was the "agent of the United States," to
represent, and to prepare, together with certain eminent
counsel, the case of the United States before the Paris
Tribunal. The questions at issue were not new to Grover
Cleveland nor to Walter O. Gresham.

The controversy came down to this. Either the Cana-
dian pelagic sealers, among whom were many Americans,
would exterminate the seals on the sea, or the American
hunters — the North American Commercial Company, a
California corporation and a monopoly fostered by certain



legislation of the Congress of the United States — would do
so on the land.

The first pelagic sealer was a Yankee sailor who entered
Bering Sea in 1876. His vessel was captured and con-
demned by the American government. The next time the
American pelagic sealer entered Bering Sea — he showed
the Canuck the way — it was under Canadian register and
flying the British flag. To quote Senator Morgan before
the Paris Tribunal:

The seal hunters had depopulated the Antarctic Ocean of
fur seals, and had made many successful raids on the islands
and coasts of Japan. Their poaching grounds had been exhausted
and the hope of great profits drew them to Bering Sea. They
found govermnenial resistance in Japan, Russia, and the United
States, hut they found in Canada a government that would give
countenance to their raids, and despite the best efforts of the United
States and Great Britain, and of their ordinances closing Bering
Sea to them, they now lie upon the north and south route of the migra-
tion of the seals, which they follow with immense fleets.

The Bering Sea arbitration, when sifted to the bottom,
shows that in 1893 and 1894 Canada was in effect an inde-
pendent nation. London entered the decrees of Ottawa.
Otherwise there would not have been the fiction of Canadian
allegiance to the English queen.

Well do I remember the remark of the brightest EngHsh-
woman I ever met, "We will never repeat the mistake we
made with our American colonies."

When Mr. Gresham was in President Arthur's cabinet,
I learned of the strong financial interests of the men who
made up the combination called the lessees which had the
contracts with the government for the exclusive right to
take fur seals on the Pribilof Islands. In those days every
woman knew much about seals, for sealskin cloaks were
still common. About 1893 they were getting expensive,
more so than in the early '80s. Now they are beyond the
reach of the average woman, for the price is prohibitive.


Wherever taken, the skins were shipped to England, where
they were cured, dyed, and then shipped to the big import-
ing houses in the United States.

These strange animals appear on the rocks of the Pribilof
Islands in May, give birth to their young, and after the
"pups" have learned to swim, in October go back into the
sea, traveling as far south as San Francisco. Then the
next Spring, "with unerring instinct, one of the strangest
phenomena of animal life," they not only return to those
two small Pribilof Islands situated in the Bering Sea, two
hundred miles from the Alaskan coast, but often to the
identical rocks whence they swam. The islands take their
name from a Russian fisherman, who, in 1785, after long
search, finally in the fogs and mists found the breeding
place of the seal. One very interesting feature of seal
life, and of the greatest importance in connection with the
arbitration, is the fact that during the nurturing season, the
female seal, in search of food, swims from one hundred and
fifty to two hundred miles from the islands and back, four
hundred miles inside of two days, and then picks out her
pups from ten thousand young.

Before Secretary Gresham was transferred by President
Arthur from the Post-Ofhce Department to the Treasury,
in September, 1884, he brought to our library at 1405
I Street the statutes and reports of all kinds bearing on
the workings of the Treasury Department. Among these
were Elliott's "Reports," with their bright pictures and fas-
cinating accounts of seal life. Henry W. Elliott of the
Smithsonian Institution had spent two years in the Pribilof
Islands, 1872 and 1874, and had made his detailed report
of seal life, which had been translated into seven different
languages. At the time of this visit the lessees had im-
pressed on Mr. Elliott their benevolence. But theirs was
the first looting in Alaska. Their attorneys had drafted
the legislation Congress had passed in 1869 and 1870,
which was modeled somewhat after the Russian ordinances


and continued in the Alaskan Commercial Corporation
the form of the monopoly Russia had granted for forty
years prior to the cession to the United States. In 1883
and 1884, the lessees were strong in public affairs. Their
representatives were in the United States Senate and every
Senator from the Pacific slope was their friend. They were
mainly friends of Mr. Blaine, but had an anchor to wind-
ward before the convention of 1884, in that a few of their
men were in Mr. Arthur's camp. One of their lobbyists
was of the old school. He lived in a fine house, and his
family went much in official society.

Because of the revenue involved, a fixed rental and so
much per head for each seal taken, the Pribilof Islands
and the lessees were under the jurisdiction of the Treasury
Department. May i, 1870, when the lease to the Alaskan
Commercial Company went into effect for twenty years,
the herd consisted of almost 4,700,000 seals. During the
period of this lease, 1870-1890, the lessees took 1,856,224
seals, deriving therefrom a net profit of $18,753,911.20,
while the government's net profit was but $5,264,230.08.

March 12, 1890, a new lease was executed by the United
States, for twenty years from May i, 1890. There was
great competition to get this lease. One of the bidders
was a party of Indianians headed by Stephen B. Elkins;
another, the North American Commercial Company, the
California corporation in which D. O. Mills was interested.
Mr,. Mills w^as supposed to have been interested in the
Alaskan Commercial Company, but he wanted, it was said,
to freeze out some of his partners in that company, hence
it was that the North American Commercial Company was
organized. Before the North American Company secured
the contract, Elkins became a stockholder in it, joined
forces with D. O. Mills, and left the Indianians out in
the cold. Here was a difference in which General Harrison
sided with his Indiana friends. Mr. Blaine stood by his
old friends, Messrs. Elkins and Mills. When the North


American Company took possession, May i , 1 890, the seals on
the islands were down to an even 1,000,000. At the expira-
tion of its lease. May i, 1910, the seals had been reduced to
133,000. The lessees' profits during this last period were
$4,976,574, while the government's expenses, over and above
what it derived from the North American Company, were
$1,350,000; in other words, a loss of that amount.

And now for the case: In 1886 the Canadians and
Yankees, under Canadian register, were decimating the
herd when Charles S. Fairchild, Secretary of the Treas-
ury, ordered the United States revenue marine cutters to
make seizure of Canadian vessels found taking seals in the
Bering Sea. This order was issued without the sanction
of President Cleveland or of Thomas F. Bayard, Secretary
of State. Of course, there was a protest by the Canadians
through the British government. After a careful examina-
tion of the facts, the precedents, and the law, Mr. Bayard
decided the course for the United States to pursue was to
release the Canadian vessels, withdraw all claim to juris-
diction in the open sea in the North Pacific Ocean and
Bering Sea beyond the three-mile limit, and endeavor by
negotiations to induce the British and Canadian govern-
ments to stop pelagic sealing in the open seas.

The release of the Canadian vessels aroused the jingoes.
Senators Hoar and Lodge of Massachusetts assailed Mr.
Bayard bitterly for his position. But my husband believed
then that Mr. Bayard was right, and he was of that opinion
when he himself became Secretary of State. After the
failure of the arbitration and the seal herd had been all
but exterminated, Mr. Bayard's joint plan with Sir Julian
Pauncefote, of an agreement to stop all killing of seals,
whether on sea or land, was adopted. At this time, in
1886, Mr. Bayard was writing my husband. "I trust we
shall always maintain relations of friendship and mutual
confidence, and that you will never come to Washington
without coming to see me."


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