Matilda Gresham.

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

. (page 3 of 38)
Online LibraryMatilda GreshamLife of Walter Quintin Gresham, 1832-1895 (Volume 2) → online text (page 3 of 38)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

that kindly and cordial feeling which has been one of the char-
acteristics of this army during its career in the service, and which
has given it such harmony in action, and contributed in no small
degree to its glorious achievements in our country's cause. . . .
Honoring these glorious achievements of our brothers-in-arms
belonging to other armies whose services have contributed in
equal degree to the re-establishment of our government, and
desiring to draw closer to them in bonds of social feeling, the
president or either of the vice-presidents of this society shall be
authorized to invite the attendance of any officer of the United
States Army at any of our annual meetings.

The Army of the Tennessee was the military unit with
which, August 28, 1861, General Grant began his career.
Excepting himself and General E. A. Paine, all his offi-
cers were volunteers without previous military experience.
Accorded first place by the foreign military attaches out
of all the organizations that "marched down the Avenue"



in the Grand Review, with the foreigners saying that the
Eighth Missouri and the Eleventh Indiana, Lew Wallace's
old regiment, were then the best on the globe, its members
believed what General Grant wrote of them:

As an army it never sustained a single defeat during four
years of war. No officer was ever assigned to the command of
that army who had afterwards to be relieved from duty, or
reduced to less command. Such a history is not by accident,
nor wholly due to sagacity in the selection of commanders.

Brigadier-General John A. Rawlins, General Grant's
chief of staff, at that Raleigh meeting was chosen president
and continued as such until his death in 1869, while Secre-
tary of War under President Grant. Only thirty-nine when
he died, General Rawlins had been on General Grant's staff
since that day in August, 1861, when the Army of the
Tennessee was formed. Colonel L. M. Dayton of General
Sherman's staff was elected secretary and held that office
until his death in 1890. With Grant, Sherman, McPherson,
Howard, and Logan, in turn the commanders of the Army
of the Tennessee and four of them alive, Rawlins' selection
at that time is significant of the esteem in which he was
held by the men who best knew him. His biography will
reveal him as one of the strongest characters of his time.

General Rawlins delivered the first annual address at
the meeting held at Cincinnati, November 7, 1866. These
annual addresses became the chief feature of the meetings
of the society. In this address, or rather, oration, John A.
Rawlins revealed what I have heard men of affairs say who
were his clients before the war, that he was one of the best
lawyers of his time. He had been a Douglas Democrat,
a Douglas elector. in i860. He made a Union speech at
Galena after Sumter was fired on, and then enlisted.

Standing for "an indestructible Union of indestructible

States," breathing charity and forgiveness and confessing

that race prejudice common at the beginning of the war

(which Abraham Lincoln had admitted when pressed to



the wall in the Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858, and the
Southern leaders have so often quoted since the war),
John A. Rawlins came up to what in 1866 he considered
the logic of events.

You continued to fight on [after it became an Abolition war]
until the enemy not only recognized the colored soldier when
captured, as entitled to be treated as a prisoner of war, but until
the rebel Congress, a Congress of slaveholders, notwithstanding
the bitterness with which they had denounced the national govern-
ment for the same act, passed a law authorizing the arming of
negro slaves and putting them in the ranks side by side with the
white soldiers of the Rebel army. Thus before the conflict ceased
they stood elevated to the dignity of defenders of the flag they
were under, whether national or rebel, representing freedom or

That which was the subject race under the law, was the
equal of other races. Certainly "life, liberty and the pursuit of
happiness" as Jefferson wrote it, should be the lot of the freed-
man, if not "greater privileges."^

The idol of the volunteers, more intimate with and pos-
sessing more influence over General Grant than any man
with whom the latter ever came in contact, JoJin A. Rawlins,
by reason of his intellect and legal training, was the most
powerful man in the Republic from 1865 to 1869. Always
Rawlins' friend, Walter Q. Gresham was one of the first
to divine the end to which Rawlins and General Grant were
headed, namely, to universal suffrage for the freedman.
Then it was that Frank P. Blair decamped.

General Sherman succeeded General Rawlins as presi-
dent of the Society of the Army of the Tennessee, and held
the office until his death. But for some reason, Genci'al
Sherman did not attend the St. Paul meeting in 1877. It
so happened that General Gresham was the senior vice-
president present. He responded to the address of welcome
at the State Fair and presided at the banquet which
concluded the proceedings. At this banquet, very much to

1 See page 460. It was Rawlins who pulled Grant away from Lincoln's position of
'imited suffrage for the freedman. See also page 316 el seq.


the great regret of the large majority of the members, some
of the old-time bitterness cropped out. General Benjamin
Spooner was assigned at the last minute to take the place
of a man who had failed to attend, to respond to the toast,
"Our Dead." In it General Spooner made an ugly but of
its kind a most deft attack on the mayor of St. Paul, who
was present as a guest of the society, because in his wel-
coming address the mayor had proposed the joint decoration
of the Union and Confederate dead. "No man can go
further than I in acknowledging the ability and valor of
the Rebel soldier," said General Spooner, as he held up the
left sleeve of his coat, minus his arm, "but until the living
show a little more contrition, I am not yet ready to deco-
rate their dead."

At St. Paul, Indianapolis was selected as the place for
the next, the twelfth, annual meeting, and October 30 and
31, 1878, as the time. Meanwhile, General Sherman ap-
pointed a committee on arrangements, of which he named
Walter Q. Gresham as chairman. Included in its member-
ship was General Benjamin Spooner. At the first meeting,
which was at a dinner at our house, my husband said,
"We must get some new speakers for our banquet. We
have all made speeches, some of us several times, and are
talked out; we have right here in Indianapolis General
Chapman of the Army of the Potomac and General Harrison
of the Army of the Cumberland. Let us invite each to come
and respond to a toast." This was agreed to. Up to that
time, ex-Senator and ex-Governor Thomas A. Hendricks,
late a candidate for Vice-President on the ticket of Tilden
and Hendricks, had never attended a soldiers' gathering of
any kind. My husband's suggestion that Mr. Hendricks
be invited to come to the banquet and respond to one of the
toasts, struck fire. All except the chairman were opposed
to it. One man said, "I will never consent to invite a
'Copperhead' to one of our reunions." Another said, "It
is against our Constitution." But General Sherman backed


up his chairman with a letter that was practically a com-
mand, and the invitation went and was accepted.^

The reunion began with the routine business meeting at
the Park Theatre in the morning and a public meeting in
the same place in the evening. General Sherman presided
and Colonel W. F. Vilas of Wisconsin delivered the annual
address. Invitations at my husband's instance had been
extended to Governor Williams, Senator Joseph E. Mac Don-
ald, ex-Governor Thomas A. Hendricks, and a number of
noncombatants, with General Benjamin Harrison at the
head of the list of the soldier element who had served in
other armies. They were all there. Colonel Vilas proved
an orator worthy of that or any other occasion. After-
wards a member of President Cleveland's first cabinet and
a member of the United States Senate, he but once came up
to the standard he then set. This was a year later at the
annual meeting of the Society of the Army of the Tennessee
at Chicago. Democrat as he always was, Colonel Vilas did
not believe Grant was whipped the first day at Shiloh.

Who that loved his fellowmen did not rejoice in the institu-
tions of American liberty? Who that believed the great Creator
comprehended all men in his benevolence, not the special few,
did not pray for its perpetuity ? Above all, how could an American
fail to love his country? or dare attempt to destroy it? But it
is written that sin shall be visited even upon the third and fourth
generation. And there was sin in the land. Out of it grew
sectional division and hatred between countrymen. . . . But
' First of all, soldiers of the Union were ready to clasp hands across
the bloody chasm.' Better than others, they knew the valor and
the worth of our brethern of the South. And right ready have
they ever been to rejoice in the restored brotherhood, and heartily
they pray that if ever again this nation shall have need of war,
shoulder to shoulder we shall oppose the common foe, and each
for the other, fight its common cause.

At this Indianapolis meeting General Lew Wallace
applied for membership. "Acknowledge your mistake at

1 See page 469.


Shiloh and we will forgive you," said General Granville B.
Dodge, "and welcome you to full fellowship." General
Wallace refused to acknowledge any error on his part, and
the incident was closed. Speaking of it afterwards. Gen-
eral Dodge said, "We would have gladly forgiven General
Wallace, but exonerate him we could not without reflect-
ing on General Grant, and that we could not honestly do."
Once within the circle, among the first to call on General
Sherman, when the latter put up at the Bates House, was
Thomas A. Hendricks. By his natural geniality and charm
of manner he won many men who until then had looked
on him only with aversion as an enemy to their country,
while he in turn was captivated by their oratory, the warmth
of greeting, and not least of all by "Sherman's Bummers."
Writing of "Sherman's Bummers" and that Indianapolis
meeting, George Harding, a newspaper man, said: "The
Herald does not know much about war and armies but
when it comes to drinking champagne we will put the
Army of the Tennessee against the world." At the banquet
General Sherman presided, and there never was a better
presiding officer on such an occasion. Out of the eleven
toasts, but three were responded to by men from the
Army of the Tennessee. Generals Harrison and Chapman,
as the special representatives of their respective armies, the
Cumberland and the Potomac, spoke well. But the chief
interest centered in Thomas A. Hendricks, who in response
to the toast "Indiana" delivered in his best voice the best
speech he ever made. Considering his opposition to the
prosecution of the war, his votes as United States Senator
against even submitting the Thirteenth and Fourteenth
Amendments to the people for ratification, it deserves more
than passing mention.

The Army of the Tennessee, in great battles and by many
deeds of individual heroism, made an imperishable record. It
was all to preserve our institutions, to maintain the integrity of
the Union. By every consideration of material interests, as well


as by strong sentiments of patriotism, the people oj Indiana arc
held in powerful support of the legitimate residts of the war. . . .
Perhaps I have already said too much in commendation of
Indiana, but I must be allowed to claim for her still another
merit. She has a breast big enough and warm enough to appre-
ciate the heroic achievements of the Army of the Tennessee,
and of those other co-operating armies that have preserved to
us a nation.

Afterwards Governor Hendricks went to many of the
annual reunions of the Army of the Tennessee, and he
always had a warm welcome. He would come home and
talk about "our boys and how they put down the Rebellion,"
until his partner, Oscar B. Hord, a native of Kentucky, a
strong-headed man and a Secessionist, would, between
indignation and raillery, say, "But, Governor, you did not
use to talk about my native land that way."

Without any design, Chicago was selected as the place
of meeting in 1879, and my husband as the orator. At
noon, November 12, 1879, General Sherman adjourned the
meeting and announced they would march to the depot
to meet General Grant "on his return from his trip around
the world." The annual address was delivered that even-
ing at Haverly's Theater. The stage was crowded and the
theater packed with distinguished men : Generals Grant,
Sherman, Sheridan, Logan, Pope, Hurlbut, Schofield,
Force, Hickenlooper, Auger, Oglesby, Harding, Macfeely,
Bingham, Raum, Alfonso Taft, ex-Secretary of War, and
men who had attained distinction in civil life, like Gover-
nor Beveridge and Governor Cullom. Newspaper men
there were by the score, and among them Henry Watterson.

At the banquet on the following evening. Colonel Wil-
liam F. Vilas of Wisconsin, the orator of the year before, in
responding to the toast, "Our First Commander, General
U. S. Grant," gained a national reputation in an address
that took only ten minutes to deliver, while Colonel R. G.
Ingersoll, the great infidel, and one of our best friends, in


responding to the toast, "The Volunteer Soldier of the
Union Army, whose valor and patriotism saved to the world
a government of the people, by the people, and for the
people," delivered an oration that will ever rank as an epic
in literature. As one newspaper said, the Army of the
Tennessee was composed of men who could talk, as well
as fight. The year before, at Indianapolis, the ice had been
broken.' S. L. Clemens (Mark Twain), an ex-Confederate,
responded to the toast, "The Babies." "In that I was
once a baby," Mark claimed he resembled General Grant.

Perhaps I have already quoted too much from the men
of the Society of the Army of the Tennessee, but I must do
so still further, for as one newspaper stated it, the position
of Judge Gresham, with General Grant coming back as a
candidate for President for the third time, was one of the
most difficult and honorable ever filled by a citizen soldier.
There was due tribute to Grant and Sherman as soldiers,
with Grant first, as Sherman always wanted it. In the per-
rnanent records of the Society, Colonel L. M. Dayton,
General Sherman's amanuensis, as he had been all through
the war, made this entry: "The society has been here-
tofore exceedingly fortunate in the selection of orators, and
General Gresham fully maintains the record, ranking with
the ablest and the best."

And what is not of record, the orator got back the
confidence of the old commander. In private. General
Grant disclosed his regret at some of the things that had
happened in his second administration which the orator
deprecated. The General was also frank in his avowal that
he would never be misled again. Convinced as he always
was of General Grant's sincerity, Walter Q. Gresham be-
came one of his supporters for the third term in 1880.

The opening sentiment — that the supremacy of the
States, which the South asserted and we denied, were sur-
rendered at Appomattox — Henry Watterson criticized as
partisan, but fifteen years later it found indorsement in

1 See page 466.


the address of Senator John W. Daniels of Virginia, an
ex-Confederate, at the dedication of a monument to Gen-
eral Lee.

A few lines will show Judge Gresham's consideration
for the Southern brother.

It is true that the Constitution was the result of mutual con-
cession, that it did not fully express the views of either party or
any one person. . . . There is this much incongruity in those
two theories of the Constitution, which, taken together, make us
at the same time a nation and a confederacy of nations, one
sovereignty and thirty-eight sovereignties. Both of them can-
not be true; there is an irreconcilable antagonism between them;
one excludes the other. Sovereignty is supremacy, and in this
sense it is one and indivisible; it is in the nation or it is in the
State; it cannot be in both.

Slavery was imbedded in the Constitution before any of
those who participated in the Rebellion were born, and it is to
the credit of the enlightened and patriotic statesmen who framed
that instrument, that they acted on the confident belief that
slavery would soon cease to exist. It is the part of statesman-
ship to accept the highest attainable good; and if the majority
of its framers, who certainly were sincere friends of popular
liberty, had obstinately retused to make any concessions to the
slave interest, the effort to form a more perfect union might
have proved futile and even disastrous. But, as it was, the
Southern people were supported and confirmed in their opinion
of slavery; they were also swayed by inherited ideas and preju-
dices which were derived from a remote past, and are always
potent in their influence. Their interests appeared to be in
conflict with their duty to the national government; and, under
all these circumstances, it would be ungenerous to assert that
the war was wholly the act of conscious and deliberate wrong-
doers. It is, moreover, undeniable that they displayed soldierly
qualities of the highest order, and that, although mistaken and
misguided in their pur]JOses, they fought, as they believed, for a
righteous cause, and in a war that was inevitable.

But it was with the future rather than with the past
that Walter O. Gresham was concerned.


Having conquered the Rebellion, we must now be satisfied
with the peaceful sway of the laws. Military government in time
of peace is contrary to the spirit of our institutions.

We must stand by the purpose for which we fought, and that
was the maintenance of the government of our fathers. Citizens
of the North and South sustain precisely the same relation to
that government, and it cannot lawfully do in one State what it
has not an equal right to do in all the States. The war legislated;
it established the supremacy of the nation in every power con-
ferred on it by the Constitution, but it did not destroy the States,
nor the right of local self-government.

That the war did not destroy the States nor the right
of local self-government, Walter Q. Gresham as a Federal
judge ever maintained.



AFTER the war and the passing of the Thirteenth, Four-
teenth, and Fifteenth Amendments — the Fifteenth
Amendment going into effect March 30, 1870, — Congress,
on May 31, 1870, by what is called the "Enforcement Acts,"
imposed the same duties on State election officers at elec-
tions at which Representatives in Congress were voted for,
in so far as these elections concerned members of Congress,
that the State statutes imposed on the State election offi-
cers as to the election of State officers. This legislation
also provided that the Federal judges might appoint United
States marshals and inspectors to be at the polls and see
that the State officers did their duty as far as the election
of Congressmen was concerned. These acts were designedly
passed to secure the ballot to the freedmen in the Southern
States. In the Kentucky election in 1878 Blanton Duncan,
an ex-Confederate, wanted to go to Congress as an Inde-
pendent Democrat from the Louisville District. To scare
off the regular Democrats and the Democratic organiza-
tion, Mr. Duncan threatened all, especially the Kentucky
State officers, in the event of the ballot boxes being stuffed
against him or of his being counted out, with the pains and
penalties of the Enforcement Acts. The election developed
that Mr. Duncan had no cause to complain of the Kentucky



election officers, but his exposition of the law was so clear
that after the elections in October and November of that
year, the National government began the prosecution of a
large number of State election officers in Cincinnati and
Baltimore and a number of the citizens of Jennings and
Jackson counties, Indiana, the latter before Judge Gresham.

The indictment in the Jennings County cases in three
counts was drawn under the general conspiracy statute of
the United States, Section 5440,^ which made it a felony
for two or more persons to conspire to commit an offense
against the United States. The section of the statute that
it was charged it was intended to violate was Section
551 1- of the Enforcement Act, which made it a felony to
vote at a place at which one was not lawfully entitled to
vote, or to aid, counsel, or advise any such votes, or person
or officer to do any act thereby made a crime. It was also
made an offense against the United States for a State elec-
tion officer to violate any State statute in so far as it might
affect the election of a member of Congress.

The government was represented by Colonel Nelson
Trussler, his assistant, Major C. L. Holstein, and by General
Benjamin Harrison and his partner, William H. H. Miller,
as special counsel. The defendants were represented by ex-
Governor Thomas A. Hendricks, David Turpie, A. W. Hen-
dricks, and Jason Brown

Elaborate arguments for two days were made on the
motion to quash the indictments, but all three counts were
finally sustained.

When, on May 8, 1879, the jury was called to the box,
it consisted of seven Republicans, four Democrats, and one
Independent. General W. W. Dudley, the United States
marshal, afterwards famous as the author of the "Blocks
of Five" letters, had summoned the jury. General Har-
rison was then the chief leader in the Indiana Republican
organization. General Dudley was also prominent as a
manager of the affairs of the party, and in his political

1 Now Section 37 of Criminal Code. - Repealed.


capacity had caused a large number of the practical workers
of the Republican organization of Indianapolis to assemble
in the courtroom. Two of the Democrats were challenged
by General Harrison, and their places were filled by Repub-
licans called by General Dudley from the bystanders. The
defense then challenged three RepubHcans, and in their
places General Dudley called three other Republicans, —
more partisan, the defense claimed, than those displaced.
Colonel A. W. Hendricks said, "It is evidently the purpose
of the government, should the regular panel be exhausted,
for Colonel Dudley to make up the jury from partisan
Republican bystanders in the courtroom." At the ad-
journment for the day, the jury stood nine Republicans,
two Democrats, and one Independent.

The next morning, at the opening of court. Governor
Hendricks, after reverting to the political complexion of
the jury and the political character of the case, said :

After consultation with the gentlemen associated with me in
the defense of this case, I say to the court, considering the case
as it is and the political relations of the defendants, that I do not
think we ought to be compelled to try this case before this jury,
and I ask Your Honor to order a new jury to be called which shall
be more evenly divided.

General Harrison replied:

If Your Honor please, I think I never before heard in any
court a request of the kind just made by Governor Hendricks,
viz., challenging the competency of a juror because he belongs
to one or the other of the political parties. In some of Governor
Hendricks' interrogatories to the jury he seemed to assume that
this question involved political feeling and was an issue between
the parties. In answer to that and in answer to what he has just
said here, which is substantially a challenge to the array of jurors
because more than half of them are Republicans, I wish to say
that this is an extraordinary and unusual challenge, not supported
by any law found in the books or in the practice of any court, so
far as I know.

Online LibraryMatilda GreshamLife of Walter Quintin Gresham, 1832-1895 (Volume 2) → online text (page 3 of 38)