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

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law is not the man to adjust the difference that will exist when the present world's war comes
to an end.''


the applicant has been for three years a practitioner before
a court of last resort of some State or before the Supreme
Court of the District of Columbia. That the applicant is
qualified may be shown by certificate or by the oral state-
ment in open court of an attorney well known to the justices
of the Supreme Court. When Mr. Foster left the diplo-
matic service in 1881 and settled down in Washington to
practice international law, he was confronted with this rule
of the Supreme Court. He had never been admitted to
practice before the Supreme Court of Indiana.

November 15, 1881, is the date of the admission of
John W. Foster to practice before the Supreme Court of
Indiana. The order of that court recites that Mr. Foster
was present before it. The fact is, he was then in Wash-
ington. Not three years, but only thirteen days later,
namely, November 28, 1881, he was admitted to practice
before the Supreme Court of the United States. The
record of that court is that he was admitted as of the Dis-
trict of Columbia on motion of Solicitor-General Phillips.
The records of the Supreme Court of the District of Col-
umbia show that John W. Foster never was admitted to
practice before that court, so that in order to get admitted
to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States
a diplomatic statement was made either by or for him.
We had been on terms of friendship and intimacy with Col-
onel Foster and his family, as he states in his "Memoirs,"
but "that indefinable feeling" arose long before 1895. Dip-
lomat that he was, John W. Foster in 1888 decried Walter
Q. Gresham for taking to the path on which he was headed.

In response to my request Colonel Foster does not
produce the letter in which, as he states in his "Memoirs,"
Judge Gresham manifested a warm desire to have a con-
ference with him. Colonel Foster, after the announcement
was made that Judge Gresham was to be Secretary of State.
After he retired from public office and active business,
Colonel Foster says his papers and letters were destroyed.


February 18, 1892, the following letter, which was the first
communication that had passed between the two friends
in a long time, was received at our residence in Chicago:

(Personal) Department of State

Washington, February 16, 1893
My Dear Judge: —

I have refrained from writing you till the report that you are
to be my successor should be, as it now seems to be, sufficiently
confirmed. I now desire to assure you that no other appoint-
ment could have been so gratifying to me personally, and I can
heartily congratulate Mr. Cleveland upon the selection.

I am very sorry that I shall not be able to be there and induct
you into office, as I expect to sail on the 25th instant for Paris
to attend the Tribunal of Arbitration.^ I hope, however, I may
be of some service to you before I go, and shall hold myself ready
to do anything I can. I shall be in New York on Friday, the 24th.
Why cannot you happen there on that day?

I would not presume to say or write anything about political
or diplomatic subjects, but possibly my experiences in the organi-
zation, personnel, and management of the department might be
of some use to you. I have "views" on those matters which dur-
ing my temporary incumbency I have not thought best to put
into practice to any great extent.

But if I do not see you before I sail, I send you now my most
hearty good wishes for great success in this your new post of duty,
and assure you that if in any way or at any time I can do anything
to promote your success, it will be a great pleasure for me to do so.

I expect to leave here to-morrow to spend Sunday with the
children in Watertown, but shall be in Washington on Monday.

With congratulations and best wishes to Mrs. Gresham, I
am, very truly,

Your friend,

John W. Foster.

Before the receipt of this letter, it had been decided
that prospective Secretary of State Gresham, and John G.
Carlisle, prospective Secretary of the Treasury, should, as

1 See page 717.


they did, meet President-elect Cleveland at Lakewood, N. J..
February 22, 1893. My recollection is that a telegram an-
swered Secretary of State Foster and arranged the meet-
ing at the Fifth Avenue Hotel, New York, February 24,
1893. Enough has been said of that Lakewood conference
to show that the three men attending it had an understand-
ing as to what would be the policy of the new administra-
tion, also how much of the conclusions of that conference
were communicated to Mr. Foster.

I have made more mention here of Colonel Foster than
of any other of my husband's critics, for he put him in an
enduring record.

The two senators from Massachusetts, George Frisbee
Hoar and Henry Cabot Lodge, were Mr. Gresham's chief
opponents in the Hawaiian affair. They had looked on
him with favor when he had been a Republican. They
led New England. And coming, as they did, from the
cradle of popular government, my husband thought their
opposition was most unfair, as it was virulent. Much
that Senator Lodge said, he obliterated from the record,
and Senator Hoar's most enduring work is in the efforts
he made in resisting the policy of imperialism that he stood
for in Hawaii but opposed in the Philippines.

The sending of James H. Blount as a commissioner
to Hawaii to investigate and report to the President his
findings and conclusions, without the advice and consent
of the Senate, meanwhile paying him out of the contingent
fund of the State Department, was resisted and criticized
in the Senate by Senators Hoar and Lodge as being in the
teeth of the Constitution. Twenty years later, on the floor
of the United States Senate, Senator Lodge said it was
President Wilson's right to send special commissioners or
agents to Mexico.

While the question of Woman's Suffrage did not become
acute in my husband's lifetime, he was disposed, as a matter
of justice, to give women the ballot, although he was not

T H E E N D 809

altogether satisfied with the wisdom of such a departure.
UnHmited negro suffrage had been a mistake for the mass
of the negroes as well as to the body politic. My opinion
is that it will be a mistake for the mass of the women.

For the rights and integrity of the little nations Walter
Q. Gresham was one of the first to stand. The Nicaraguan
minister said to me, "I am now received with the same
consideration at the State Department as is the British

It was the judicial training that would have restored the
Hawaiian Queen. While Mr. Gresham recognized the prac-
tical side of a law suit, the principal for the guidance of the
judge which he had learned as a boy from Lord Mansfield's
decision in the Sommerset case,^ he would have followed in
Liliuokalani's case. "Do justice though the heavens fall."
Thus Lord Mansfield answered the argument of the lawyer
of expediency, in simply liberating a half -civilized African.

What Lord Mansfield had in mind, according to my
husband's interpretation of that decision, was that the way
to keep the heavens, if not the State, from falling, was to
do justice in the particular case because the precedent for
good or evil might be of lasting importance to the race.
Doing justice in Hawaii would have prevented the United
States from adopting the colonial system. But having
adopted the colonial system, Walter Q. Gresham could and
would have defended it until the people would go back to
the government of the fathers. I have lived long enough
to see Benjamin Harrison oppose ,the policy of imperialism
he inaugurated, or permitted to be inaugurated, in Hawaii;
to see the tariff reduced; and to see the Republican party
hopelessly split asunder. Due in part to the efforts of
Benjamin Harrison, and of his appointee to the Supreme
Bench, David J. Brewer, our imperial policy is only pro-
visional. It was the support General Harrison, and Jus-
tices Brewer and Harlan, gave to Republican Senator W. E.

I See pages 35-38.


Mason of Illinois that the unconditional ratification of the
Paris treaty, whereby we acquired the Philippines, through
the influence of William Jennings Bryan, was defeated.
There were Democratic senators who were for uncondi-
tional ratification. Had the Democratic senators remained
united the Paris treaty would have been rejected. The
Piatt amendment, which kept our faith with Cuba and
without which the Paris treaty could not have been ratified,
is a fact in the light of which that treaty is to be read.
Even now the Republicans will not say that they will never
give up the Philippines. As Walter Q. Gresham concluded
the letter of October i8, 1894, on the Hawaiian situation, — ■
"Can the United States consistently insist that other na-
tions shall respect the independence of Hawaii [that is, the
independence of the small nations] while not respecting it
[the rights of the small nations] themselves?" The ability
to talk without acting, which, Mr. Gresham admitted to
some of his confidential Republican friends, was a charac-
teristic of many of the Democrats of post-bellum days,
still subsists.^

From a favorable place right over the stage, I watched
the Taft-Roosevelt convention of 191 2. My sympathies
were with Mr. Taft, but from Mr. Roosevelt's standpoint
and premises, his course was logical and patriotic. Accord-
ing to statements made to me by men who were close to
Mr. Roosevelt, he hesitated not a moment when it was
put up to him that the Repubhcan leaders thought they
had tied his hands, and that it was his duty as a patriot
and a man to walk out. his supporters were the

1 The Democratic platform of 1912, as to the Philippines, was as follows:
We re-affirm the position thrice announced by the Democracy in the National Con-
vention assembled against a policy of Imperialism and colonial exploitation in the Philippines
and elsewhere. We condemn the experiment in Imperialism as an inexcusable blunder, which
has brought us weakness instead of strength, and laid our Nation open to the charge of abandon-
ment of the fundamental doctrine of self government.

We favor an immediate declaration of this Nation's purpose to recognize the indepen-
dence of the Philippine Islands as soon as a stable government can be established, such
independence to be guaranteed by us until the neutralization of the Islands can be secured by
treaty and other forces. In recognizing the independence of the Philippines our Government
should retain such land as may be necessary for coaling stations and naval locations.


grandsons of Joseph Medill, and John T. McCutcheon and
George Ade. By his cartoons and accompanying comments
in advocating the claims of the "Rough Rider," Mr.
McCutcheon placed the "Chicago Tribune" in a position
from which it could not recede. His most effective picture,
perhaps, was that of Elihu Root as the permanent chairman
of the convention with a "stolen gavel." At one swipe, a
picture of the directors of the Standard Oil Company, John
D. Rockefeller presiding and entertaining a motion to move
the headquarters of the "Trust" from 26 to 23 Broadway
and print new stationery in order to comply with the decree
of ouster of the Supreme Court of the United States ^ (the
stock meanwhile advancing on the New York Stock
Exchange), Mr. McCutcheon advanced the proposition of
the "Judicial Recall," one of the planks in the Rough
Rider platform, and revealed his own force, which Judge
Gresham always rated more than genius in public affairs.
At that Terre Haute^ conference, in 1892, Judge Gresham
said, "Voorhees and Judge Robinson, you are not making
the right kind of speeches — these long winded, polished,
political essays do not m.ake a vote. What you want to
do is to make jury speeches." At either Senator Voorhees
was par excellence. It is "punches" and " licks "^ that
count at the bar and on the hustings, in public affairs, on
the battle field and in the prize ring,'* and the same is true
of journalism. If the reader doubts this let him or her
read Justice Harlan's dissenting opinion^ in the Standard
Oil case, in which he handled Chief Justice White's opinion
in that case after that fashion. Justice White dissented
from Chief Justice Fuller's opinion, declaring the income
tax of 1 894 unconstitutional. Either justified McCutcheon's

I have already adverted to that income tax decision,

1 See pages 632 and 655. 2 See page 670.

3 See page 676. Major Gen'l Sir Frederick B. Maurice. " History of the War."

* See page 794. s Standard Oil vs. U. S. 221 U. S. i; see page 82.



and to the fact that Walter Q. Gresham thought that such
a tax would be constitutional,' in time of peace and pressed
for it in the Wilson Tariff law. While President Cleveland
did not advocate an income tax, he never questioned its
constitutionality.' Most of his New York friends, as well
as his New York democratic opponents like Tammany and
Senator Hill, opposed such a tax as unconstitutional.
Senator (soon to 'become Associate Justice) White was
supposed to favor an income tax. Ex-Secretary of the
Treasur}^ Benjamin H. Bristow- and Joseph H. Choate as
attorneys for the New York bankers denounced it to Sec-
retary of State Gresham as "Populistic."^ The same argu-
ment they afterwards made in the Supreme Court. After
Senator Hill had defeated in turn the confirmation of two
of Mr. Cleveland's friends, the eminent New York lawyers,
Peckham and Hornblower, for Associate Justice of the
Supreme Court, Secretary of State Gresham said, "Send in
Senator White's name, he has been a member of the Su-
preme Court of Louisiana and senatorial courtesy will force
Senator Hill to accept him." I heard William Jennings
Bryan use Justice White's dissenting opinion in getting the
Democratic nomination in 1896.^ That and Justice Harlan's
dissenting opinion made the i6th or Income Tax Amendment
\J inevitable.^ Justice Harlan said an income tax is the fairest
of all taxes while Justice White said it had the sanction of
the illustrious man who was first president of the Republic.
As to the "punches" and "licks," Walter Q. Gresham said,
"I can and must stand them."*^ But as it turned out, he
did not get as many as he expected, when he broke away
from the Republican party due perhaps to the belief that
he could stand all that might be landed and strike back
still harder.

I cannot but help recurring to my husband's desire to walk
out of the Convention of 1888, as then expressed to Joseph

1 See pages 714-715. 2 See pages 318, 437 and 456

3 157 U. S. 429 at page 532. See also pages 620, 626 and 715.

4 See pages 708-711. 5 See pages 620-626. 6 See page 670.


Medill. From simply a material standpoint, the young
men made no mistake. I say this not by way of criticism
of the elder or grandfather, but as a recognition of the
fact that the world is moving and it takes young men for

A hotel was no place for the Secretary of State to live,
said some of our critics. That objection had been made
by me to my husband's accepting a place in Mr. Cleveland's
cabinet. Carl Schurz approved going to a hotel, although
it involved declining the gift of a house and of the sum of
$50,000 properly to maintain it, from kind and well-mean-
ing friends. In those days the Arlington Hotel was made
up in part by including what were once private homes. We
had part of what had been Charles Sumner's residence.
To our west was a lawn and then the handsome residence
of the Misses Stewart who had been much in Washington
society, especially in Arthur's time. One morning, T. E.
Roessell, the proprietor of the Arlington, said to his chief
man, "Bennett, step over to the Misses Stewart, tell them
I wish to enlarge my hotel, and will they please put a price
on their lawn." Mr. Bennett was not long in returning
with the message: "The Misses Stewart present their
compHments to Mr. Roessell. They desire to extend their
lawn. Will the proprietor of the Arlington please put a
price on his hotel?"

I have already mentioned the American game of which
our Southern brother was so fond. The newspaper men
said, "Gresham got the most of the chips." More the
manifestation of a kindly feeling for the Secretary of State
than the literal truth, was this statement of "the boys."
It was around that board at "Chamberlain's" that Senators
Quay and \^est, at two o'clock in the morning, had agreed
to kill the Force Bill and pass the McKinley Bill. After
the consummation of that deal there was no just ground
for criticizing Walter Q. Gresham for withdrawing his alle-
giance to the party that had been founded on the theory


that the rights of man, even though he be a black man,
come "before the rights of things."

Senator Gray of Delaware, a very intimate friend, fre-
quently dined with us. For a long time there would be
one, two, or three Southern men, members of the Senate
or House, with us for dinner — men like Speaker Crisp, of
Georgia, Senator Walthal of Mississippi, Jones of Arkansas,
Daniels of Virginia, and I believe every Southern senator
excepting Senator Morgan of Alabama and Senator Gorham
of Maryland. Frequently men from the South who were
not in the Senate or House, especially any ex-Confederate
who came to town and called at the State Department,
were brought home to dinner. The Southern people had
received us most cordially, and naturally we returned their
warmth. It was thus even in Mr. Arthur's time. Then
it was that Mr. Gresham was more intimate personally,
aside from his army friends, with the men who had worn
the gray than with those from any other section. Some-
times he would say, "If the men who did the fighting can
get together, the churchmen North and South ought to re-
sume their old relations."

These dinners were purely social ones. They were my
husband's chief means of relaxation and recreation. It
was the way he had done while on the bench, bringing
lawyers on both sides home to dinner. I was the only
woman present. There was no politics, in the small sense,
talked, but every legal, religious, moral, military, and eco-
nomic question that men are interested in was discussed.
And there were good stories by the score that have never
been in print. One of Senator Walthal's I must relate,
because it illustrates the loyalty of the Southern negro to
the white man and why negroes are to-day on the pension
rolls of some of the Southern States.

"In one of the few battles in which we got the worst
of it," the Senator said, "we made a rather hasty retreat,
leaving baggage and servants behind. Two days later,


when safe in camp but short of provisions, WilHam, my
body servant, turned up on foot, but loaded down with
all sorts of plunder he was carrying. As soon as he saw
me he exclaimed with great indignation, 'If you-all had
not been in such a hurry to get away we could have saved
a li'l more o' dis stuff.'"

In establishing and maintaining intimate and cordial
relations with his new party associates, Walter Q. Gresham
was as successful as on the diplomatic side, although stand-
ing for right and justice in a way never before urged in
international affairs. We have shown how he had been
received by the rank and file of the Northern Democrats.
As time went on that cordiality increased. Murphy, the
Tammany Senator of New York, said that he wanted Secre-
tary Gresham for President. vSenators Voorhees and Turpie
of Indiana, and Thomas Taggart, the chairman of the
Indiana Democratic State Central Committee, made the
same avowals. I have described the Democratic National
Convention of 1896. On the platform, in the face of that
assemblage and before any nomination had been made,
Senator Jones of Arkansas, chairman of the Democratic
National Committee, told me, "Had Judge Gresham lived
he would have been our man." I mention this simply to
meet the claim that was put forth that it was a personal
and political mistake for Walter O. Gresham to change
his party allegiance — he never changed his principles — and
to become Secretary of State under President Cleveland.
He lost not the confidence, friendship or support of news-
paper men of mature years, like Joseph Medill and Morris
Ross, nor of youths like James P. Hornaday. I know that
Mr. Gresham intended that portfoHo to be his last official
position. That he did not want, and would not take, a
place on the Supreme Bench when Justice Blatchford died
early in the second Cleveland administration, the corre-
spondence with Justice Field, ex-Senator Doolittle of
Wisconsin, and others, which is still in my possession, is


conclusive. August 15, 1893, Walter Q. Gresham said, in
answer to a letter from Justice Field, "I assure you I am
holding my last official position," and he insisted that no
suggestion be made by Justice Field, nor by others, to Mr.
Cleveland to appoint him. When the New York senators,
Hill and Murphy, defeated the confirmation of eminent
lawyers like Rufus Peckham and William B. Hornblower,
expressing a willingness at the same time to accept Gresham,
it was the latter who said to President Cleveland, "Nom-
inate Senator White of Louisiana." Under senatorial cour-
tesy, the Senate never refused to confirm the nomination of
one of its own members to an office to which the President
might name that senator. White was promptly confirmed.

During the progress of the Chinese-Japanese War both
Kurino and Yang-Yu, the Japanese and Chinese ministers,
were in daily conference with my husband. He was much
criticized by even as good a friend as Carl Schurz because
he required our legation in Pekin to give up two Japanese
students who had entered the lines of the Chinese army as
spies. In order to escape recapture, the Japanese entered
our legation. After they were delivered up to the Chinese
they were executed. The Japanese government made no
complaint, for it realized that the right of asylum which
was accorded to political offenders could not be a precedent
in such a case. To restore the two spies to Japan would
have made our government a party to the surreptitious
gaining of information. ■ That Mr. Gresham viewed his
action in this case with confidence, a few lines from a letter
to Noble C. Butler under date of January 13, 1895, will
suffice to show: "The correspondence on the subject of
the two Japanese spies in China will go to the Senate next
Monday. I have no fear of the result. My position there
is as unassailable as in the Bluefields case."

Schurz, who had been a revolutionist in Germany, argued
that spies in time of war had the same status as political
offenders or revolutionists. The right of asylum in the

• THE END 817

case of spies, however, was denied by Secretary Gresham,
and when the two Japanese were given up and executed,
the former intimate relations with Mr. Schurz ceased.
Secret diplomacy was not part of Mr. Gresham's policy,
and he said be could always get at least one newspaper man
to stand for "right and justice," who withal was discreet.

What Walter Q. Gresham had in mind, in the event
that he survived the four years in the State Department
or, in the meantime, broke with Mr. Cleveland, was to
go back to the farm and deliver a series of lectures on
Domestic and International Law in connection with the
University of Chicago. This was his declared intention.
"Without entangling alliances" of any kind, that there
would have been something about ''right and justice" in
domestic and international relations not exactly according
to the conventional thought, those who have followed these
pages will admit, even though they might criticize.

As Lamartine said, "Besides, these pretended divisions
of power are always fictitious; power is never really di-
vided." It may be in the King or in the Parliament, and
if the latter is composed of two assemblies it is in one or the
other, it is never in both ; it may be in a victorious gener-
al as was Napoleon long before he was crowned Emperor,
when he mowed down the commerce of Paris with his can-
non; it may be in some individual of lofty understanding
and commanding conscience ; or it may be in a simple law-
yer advancing a principle of morals, especially if that prin-
ciple be recognized in the fundamental law of the land.

Wendell Phillips appealed to the honest men who would

Online LibraryMatilda GreshamLife of Walter Quintin Gresham, 1832-1895 (Volume 2) → online text (page 31 of 38)