Matilda Gresham.

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

. (page 30 of 38)
Online LibraryMatilda GreshamLife of Walter Quintin Gresham, 1832-1895 (Volume 2) → online text (page 30 of 38)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


ing with Great Britain in arms, the Venezuelan government
and the speculators rushed off to the United States.

It is of record that on December i, 1894, Secretary of
State Gresham wrote to Ambassador Bayard, instructing
him to state to the English government that —

England and America are fully committed to the principle of
arbitration,' and this government will gladly do what it can to
further a determination in that sense.

With a view to a peaceful settlement, Mr. Gresham was
working, up to the time of his death, on "a statement of
the case." He said he believed he could make a statement

1 Speech dedicating the Grant monument. "It was the successful leader of our armies
in our greatest war who took the lead in bringing the civilized world to a practical recognition
of the value of a peaceful arbitrament of international disputes, and the Treaty of Washington
is a monument to his memory which will outlive those of bronze and stone. Its moral influence
extends infinitely beyond the immediate parties to it, or the age in which it was negotiated."



THE END 795

of the facts and the controversy and advance conclusions
that the British government could accept, or come back
and say, "You have suggested it — we will arbitrate."
Night after night he poured over maps, papers, and differ-
ent propositions, and all the data extant on the Monroe
doctrine. The final rough draft was recast and rewritten
a number of times. "The legal and judicial training," the
British Ambassador said, "which enabled the Secretary of
State to go to the bottom of a question and look through
a treaty with facility and ease, were brought into play."
He discussed the question not only with President Cleve-
land but with members of the Senate and House and with
newspaper men. ("There was always at least one news-
paper man," he said, "you could get to stand for right and
justice and who was withal discreet.") Isadore Strauss
was one of the congressmen whose counsel and advice was
sought. Afterwards one of the editors of the New York
Evening Post, in writing of these days, said:

Secretar}^ Gresham was very diligent in circulating from the
State Department copies of the Monroe Doctrine as enunciated
by Monroe in defense of his abstention from meddling as the
jingoes wished him to do in the Nicaragua affair. Thousands
of copies of a pamphlet of its own and thousands of copies
also of the Evening Post reprint of Professor Moore's essay on
the Doctrine, were sent out by the Department.

My husband was shaping his note for transmission to
Ambassador Bayard when sickness and death intervened.
Richard Olney, the Attorney-General, became Secretary of
State. July 17, 1895, Mr. Olney sent his note, which was
practically an ultimatum, through Ambassador Bayard,
to Great Britain. Its statement followed the line of fact
my husband had outlined so closely that Isadore Straus
said, "Mr. Olney has stolen your husband's thunder."
"No," said I, "there was to be no ultimatum as my hus-
band had prepared it, and Mr. Olney and President Cleve-
land are entitled to all the credit for such a State paper."



796 LIFE OF WALTER QUINTIN GRESHAM

Mr. Bayard assumed the responsibility to state, when he
delivered Mr. Olney's note to the British Foreign Office, that
it did not really mean what it said — War. Not, however,
until Mr. Cleveland followed the note up with a message
to Congress on the 4th of December, 1895, did the corre-
spondence become pubHc. Mr. Cleveland's message was
a reiteration of the ultimatum. It electrified the country.
The jingoists and the newspapers went wild. The Repub-
licans almost universally said they were Cleveland men.
Ex-President Harrison said he would step into line with
the brother from Georgia under the order, "Guide center
forward," against "my ancient enemy." Senator Henry
Cabot Ivodge, who happened to be temporarily sojourn-
ing in London, kept the cables hot with demands for im-
mediate war.

But all was changed in the twinkling of an eye. The
New York Evening Post and The Nation stood by their
guns. Heretofore they had been Cleveland's strongest and
ablest supporters. Now they denounced the note and the
message as a departure from the Monroe Doctrine as its
author had promulgated it and as it had been interpreted
by Secretary Gresham. The message was a bid for a third
term, and Secretary Olney had gone over to the specula-
tors.^ Soon, to use the Evening Post's own language, "Sec-
retary Olney turned tail." There was an arbitration, but
the Venezuelans were defeated.

I have written this not by way of criticism of Mr. Cleve-
land but to make clear Walter Q. Gresham 's position, and
to emphasize the power a single private citizen or a single
editor may exert in the Republic. It is also due to Mr.

ijanuary o, 1896, The. Nation said: "The speculators, as we see, expected a more vigor-
ous foreign policy about this time. We have reason to believe that some of them, including
United States senators who are to sit on these questions of peace or war, waited on Secretary
Gresham not long before his death to urge this policy on him; but being a clear-headed man of
peace, he not only declined their proposals, but took the liberty of pointing out to them the
impropriety of their having anything to do with an affair which was likely to become a matter
of international controversy .\ We are far from insinuating that they ever made any similar
application to Mr. Olney, but he certainly did just what they wanted. The jingo poison
prepares a man's system for the speculation bacillus."



THE END 797

Cleveland to say, that after it was all over he claimed it
was the threat of war that made Great Britain accept
arbitration, but the fact is, she did not suggest it. Pressed
to the wall, Mr. Olney said, "Mr. Gresham has suggested
arbitration, whereupon Great Britain acquiesced."

In his recollections of Grover Cleveland, George F.
Parker says, in discussing the Venezuelan incident:

It always seemed to strike him with surprise when in later
years I told him — apparently in jest, though really in earnest —
that he was the father of the spirit of imperialism which had
grown up after the war with Spain. He himself had done so
much to controvert that foolish, unnecessary, and hurtful con-
flict, that he could scarcely conceive that what he saw was only
the logic of his own acts.

Here the practical side again suggests itself, for Grover
Cleveland was an eminently practical man. Mr. Cleveland
was then contesting with William Jennings Bryan for su-
premacy in the Democratic party. An ultimatum to Great
Britain, or a twist of the lion's tail, and his party might
abandon silver at sixteen to one. That soldier funeral came
just at the time to impress Mr. Cleveland and Mr. Olney.

By no act or word of his did Walter Q. Gresham ad-
vance the policy of imperialism which he believed would be
our undoing, just as it had wrecked the Roman republic.
"Despotisms can and do exist under popular forms." Talk
about the United States becoming a world power! She
had been one ever since July 4, 1776. The Declaration of
Independence and the success of the American Republic
were the great contributing causes of the French Revolu-
tion, which with all its blood and counter-revolution made
much for the rights of man the world over.

To a critic who wanted "a great foreign policy," Mr.
Gresham answered:

A free government cannot pursue an imperial policy. We
acquire territory with the sole expectation of bringing it into the
Union as a State, the equal of the other States.



798 LIFE OF WALTER QUINTIN GRESHAM

Secretary of State Gresham's chief work in connection
with Germany was to advise' and urge upon President
Cleveland that he recommend to Congress the withdrawal
from the Tri-Parte Treaty of 1889, whereby the United
States, Great Britain, and Germany, because of trade re-
lations, had agreed jointly to maintain Malietoa as King
of the Samoan Islands. The death of King Malietoa in
1898 ended an anomalous situation.

To another friendly critic he wrote :

If we take Hawaii, we must defend it just as we should our
own Atlantic and Pacific ports. But aside from this we need
more and better ships.

To another :

The Democrats in the Senate and the House are furnished
with ample material but they lack the ability or the courage to
use it.

I would that Thomas F. Bayard were in the Senate. Senator
Gray possessed the ability but he shrinks the contest.

To his associates in the administration, according to the
Secretary of the Treasury, John G. Carlisle, Secretary of
State Gresham said, in speaking of the Venezuelan incident,
"I have come over to you; gentlemen, come up to the best
traditions of the Republic."- The Secretary of State was
then deprecating war. Because we won our independence

1 May 9, 1894, on a report on the Samoan situation Secretary of State Gresham said to
President Cleveland:

"It is in our relations with Samoa that we have made the first departure from our tra-
ditional and well established policy of avoiding entangling alliances with foreign powers in
relation to objects remote from this hemisphere. . Every nation, and especially

every strong nation, must sometime be conscious of an impulse to rush into difficulties that
do not concern it except in a highly imaginary way. To restrain the indulgence of such a
propensity is not only the part of wisdom, but a duty we owe to the world as an example
of the strength, the moderation, and the beneficence of popular government."

2 Mv DE.\R Mr. Ross: November g, 1894.
The leading editorial in the Indianapolis Nejvs of the 7th is the best that I have seen on

the result of the late elections. I wish every so-called Democratic leader could read it. I
will hand it to the President to-morrow.

The people seem to have thought it necessary to strike the Democratic Party with clubs
not stuffed. Will it recover from the blows?

I imagine you will say it may if it becomes more honest.

Faithfully yours, W. Q. Gresham.



THE END 799

with the sword did not seem to him any reason why we
should rush into war on the slightest provocation. He
certainly had seen enough of the desolation and ruin wrought
in our own land to want no more of it. It was a subject
I felt competent to discuss with any man, especially with
the men who had had an opportunity for four years to go
in but did not do so. As General Sherman truly said, "War
is hell." In its ultimate analysis it is a crime against
civilization and against the rights and interests of the indi-
vidual man and woman. ^ To that view Walter Q. Gresham
had come. We had jingoists then, but then, as now, not
all jingoists were fighters.

While my husband had become an advocate of peace
he was not a non-resistant. He would and could fight.
He had that knowledge of mechanics and machinery which
is essential to the successful prosecution of a modern war.
Never would Walter Q. Gresham have attempted to meet
a submarine simply with a State paper. And that disre-
gard which General Grant had taught him for the elemen-
tary maxims of war when they were plainly an outgrowth
of conditions radically different from those to be confronted,
was proof conclusive that he would "flex" the rules of war
as he had "flexed" the rules of equity. He had reckoned
the power of a single man, of a few men, using modern
explosives. 2

I remember the interest my husband took in the Chicago
Haymarket riot. A rich Italian, Count Malatesto, with
headquarters in London, was the head of the anarchists,
who had proclaimed their purpose of killing off all govern-
mental officers and of taking possession of government and
industry. The night of May 4, 1886, a single bomb killed
eight policemen outright and wounded and disabled sixty-
eight, practically annihilating the first platoon. And the
truth is, the oncoming platoons of police all but broke

1 See pages 272, 282 and 283.

2 Witness his advice and the exploit of Horace Bell as set forth in Chapter V. Also, the
despatch in the Alliance affair, page 786.

51



8oo LIFE OF WALTER QUINTIN GRESHAM

although supported by three regiments of the IlHnois Na-
tional Guard, a battalion of colored troops, and a battery,
all under command of General Charles Fitzsimmons.^
"Fitz" had passed the word to his colonels, they in turn to
the captains and they to the men. Every man responded
to the call. There is not a word in the record about these
troops. But for every possible contingency they were pre-
pared. There were officers and men in the streets ready
to attack any force that might offer resistance to the regi-
ments as they came out of the narrow doors of their armo-
ries in columns of fours. They even had men at Haymarket
Square. The police had to advance or be disgraced.
After the Supreme Court of Illinois sustained the death
penalty against eight of the men convicted of the murder
of policeman Mathias Degan, Governor Oglesby commuted
the sentence of two of them, Fielden and Schwab, to impris-
onment for life. General Benjamin F. Butler then claimed,
in a habeas corpus proceeding before United States Circuit
Judge Gresham, that Fielden and Schwab were restrained
of their liberty by the State of Illinois contrary to the due
process of law clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the
Constitution. "All Fielden and Schwab did," said General
Butler, "was to indulge in the constitutional right of free
speech." "But, General, they were something more than
mere gabblers," said the Judge, and so they were remanded
to the custody of the State.

One of the stories, I remember, at a dinner at which
Carter H. Harrison, the elder, was a guest, was of his trip
around the world. At Berlin, Prince Bismarck sent for Mr.
Harrison for the purpose, as Bismarck said, of learning of
the Chicago Haymarket riot, from the man who had been
mayor of the city at the time. Bismarck said that it had
been a problem with him whether any organized body of

1 General Fitzsimmons, and Lieutenant Colonel George V. Lauman and Colonel Taylor
E. Brown, a lieutenant and a captain respectively in the First Illinois, I. N. G., at the time,
the latter two still living, are among our authorities for these statements.



THE END 8oi

men, police or soldiers, would stand in the streets against
an attack of a few men armed with dynamite in the shape
of bombs. Had the Chicago policemen given way at Hay-
market Square when the first platoon was annihilated by a
bomb, it might have been the end of civil government as we
understand it. The fact that the oncoming platoons were'
able to disperse the mob, solved the problem, concluded
Prince Bismarck.

As illustrating the difference between the judicial and
the pardoning power, which is in the executive, Walter Q.
Gresham was one of the men who had requested Governor
Oglesby to commute the anarchists' sentences.'

In the ultimate analysis, according to Judge Gresham,
society and government still rest on force. "The considera-
tion that international law is without a court for its enforce-
ment, and that obedience to its commands practically
depends upon good faith instead of the mandate of a
superior tribunal," was one of its defects. The chancellor
or judge without a sheriff, a policeman, or a soldier, to
enforce his lofty utterance, would be an object of ridicule
and scorn.

Before he entered the State Department, Walter Q.
Gresham had contemplated the airship as an engine of war,
the Gatlin, the Maxim, or the machine gun, gun cotton,
dynamite and every form of destruction. He talked about
these means of warfare with regular army men like Gen-
eral Schofield while stationed in Chicago and when in com-
mand of the army at Washington; with Colonel H. C.
Corbin, afterwards General Corbin of Spanish-American
war fame; with Captain A. M. Fuller, and with many other
army officers and Union and Confederate veterans. He
would get his army from the mechanics, the artisans, the
farmers who had become mechanics through the use of
labor-saving machinery ; and the fact that machinery would

1 Note from Grant Monument speech: "Their shameless and insidious attacks on free
institutions are infinitely more dangerous than the revolutionary teachings and practices of a
comparatively few visionary and misguided men and women in our large cities."



8o2 LIFE OF WALTER QUINTIN GRESHAM

make each succeeding war more and more deadly was to
him a reason why truth and candor should take the place
of finesse and diplomacy.

I heard discussions with men like General Dodge, who
was close to Jay Gould, and General John McNulta, and
others who had served with distinction during the Civil
War, who were insistent on the necessity of being pre-
pared to meet "Great Britain's descent on the New York
and New England coasts," and of the consequent import-
ance of our "taking Canada." General Dodge was a corps
commander of the Civil War.^ An able civil engineer, the
builder of the Union Pacific Railroad, he never was on the
side of the people. Judge Gresham argued:

"We would soon starve Great Britain into submission.
Our first act would be to cut off her supply of grain
and beef. Then, by confiscating the billions of English
capital invested in this country, we could do her still more
damage, and more than recoup the cost of the war on our
part. We don't want Canada. We could take it in thirty
days. Every Irishman in the United States and almost all
in Canada would instantly respond to a call to arms. In
Illinois alone, outside of the foreign element, I could or-
ganize 100,000 men in a week's time. But because of all
the injury we could inflict on the British Empire and her
people is a conclusive reason why we should not provoke
her to a contest, and by no act of mine will it be precip-
itated. War at this time is not in the interests of the
American and English people. It would be a crime."

From the start the British Ambassador and Secretary
of State Gresham had been in accord. Sir Julian Paunce-
fote was on the mastiff order and a true Democrat at heart.
I heard many discussions between them. It was agreed
that the greatest question of the age was the economic
or industrial, that of capital and labor. As bearing on
this problem the British ambassador was greatly interested

1 See pages 308 and 309.



THE END 803

in the possible effect of the labor-saving device, as it had
come to the Secretary of State in the patent litigation. I
quote from a letter written by Circuit Judge Gresham on
August I, 1892, to Morris Ross of Indianapolis:

The labor qtiestion has come to stay; it cannot be ignored.
We are living under new conditions, conditions utterly unlike any-
thing in the past. Labor-saving machinery has given capital an
advantage that it never possessed before. What is an equitable
division of the joint product of capital and labor, and who is to
decide the question? I fear that the settlement of the contro-
versy will be attended with serious consequences. The laboring
men of this country have intelligence and courage, and they firm-
ly believe that they are oppressed. They are growing stronger
daily, and unless capital 3delds, we will have collisions more
serious than the one which occurred at Homestead. The right
to acquire and hold property must be recognized. No civiliza-
tion of the past has amounted to anything that did not recognize
that right. But those who employ labor seem to think that
only property rights need protection, and that laborers are en-
titled to no more sympathy and consideration than the machin-
ery which they attend. Employers go through their forms of
worship in a perfunctory way, not heeding the injunction that
we should love our neighbors as ourselves. It seems to me that
labor will triumph in the near future, but will it use its power
wisely?

Mr. Gresham said to the British Ambassador that the
labor-saving machine had satisfied him as a patent judge,
that the productive power of the world would be increased,
had increased beyond the capacity of the world to con-
sume. What would be done with the surplus, and how to
keep the people of the various countries employed, pros-
perous, and happy at home, were the great questions to
be met. Tariff laws would protect the home market, but
home production exceeded the home consumption. How
was the surplus to be disposed of, wdth at least a dozen
strong nations with a large surplus competing for the single
world market? This world-wide problem was to be solved



8o4 LIFE OF WALTER QUINTIN GRESHAM

on principles of righteousness and justice, and the same
was every day becoming true of the domestic problems.

Charles Schwab, as the head of the steel trust, follow-
ing the Spanish-American War justified selling steel products
in Germany cheaper than in the home market. The cre-
ation of a surplus over and above what the United States
consumed was the result of keeping the mills running in
order that men might be employed all the time in this
country. Germany was not long in retaliating with "tariff
wall" laws that permitted her merchants and manufacturers
to combine in order to sell her surplus in South America
and on longer time than Englishmen and Americans could or
would extend to the purchasers. I am no more justifying
Germany than the former head of the steel trust. Under the
guise of keeping the mills running was he not really thinking
more of his output and machines than of the men ? I am not
advocating a higher wage scale than the men in the steel
mill received in the days following the organization of the
steel trust. I am not suggesting that the man who works
as a mechanic with his hands, although his intelligence may
be superior to that of the financial man, is simply to be
considered as a strata in our system of society, which, as
my husband said, "is based on property interests." The
latter are to have a voice in our government, as they have
among the dynasties of the old world, but I am suggesting,
as Walter Q. Gresham said, "that the way to finally dispose
of the surplus production of the civilized nations of the
world is not through war." /

Caught up on courts martial ' ' — one of the most im-
portant factors 1 of the war — "wherever I go," indicates
that there was not that entire absence from the technical-
ities of the law that some of Mr. Gresham's kindly critics
said his four years' service in the field entailed, while, on
the other hand, it suggests the judicial quality. But as
to whether the judicial quality really existed will be rested

1 See pages 183-185,



THE END 805

on the testimony of James L. High, a scholar and lawyer of
wide experience, who, as the author of many standard legal
textbooks — "High on Injunctions," "High on Receivers,"
"High on Extraordinary Remedies" — reviewed the work
of more judges than any man of his time. At the memorial
services of the Chicago Bar Association, June 11, 1895,
Mr. High said : " If I were asked to name the most marked
and distinguished feature of Walter Q. Gresham's judicial
service, the answer would be, that instinctive sense of jus-
tice which he brought to the determination of every case.
With him the sense of justice was an instinct, not an acquire-
ment/' The proposition that justice was the end and
aim of government, Mr. Gresham carried into the State
Department and into our international relations so far as
lay in his power.'

That Walter Q. Gresham was no diplomat, only a judge,
but possessing withal enough popularity and force of char-
acter to render his conclusions or judgments potential, was a
criticism he enjoyed. That truthfulness which we have shown
to have been one of his early characteristics, he carried with
him into his judicial life and into the State Department.

From his own statement John W. Foster had some
difficulty in qualifying as a jurist.'- He does not mention
that he was postmaster at Evansville, Indiana, for six years
after the waj-. Experience as chairman of the Indiana Re-
publican State Central Committee in the early '70s, under
the tutelage of Senator Oliver P. Morton, undoubtedly
tended to qualify him for the school of diplomacy. But
experience in that line was not and is not recognized as a
qualification for admission to practice before the Supreme
Court of the United States. Its rules require as a con-
dition precedent to admission and practice before it that

1 See page 357.

2 John Henry Wigmore, author of the best work on the Law of Evidence, instructor in the
Law of Evidence in the Law School of the Northwestern University, says: "The international
lawyer without that knowledge of commercial affairs acquired in the actual practice of the



Online LibraryMatilda GreshamLife of Walter Quintin Gresham, 1832-1895 (Volume 2) → online text (page 30 of 38)