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

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Coy case as a means, as he might have done, to push the
prosecutions against Dudley or even General Harrison
himself, because the facts were conclusive that General
Harrison was cognizant of everything that was done by
Dudley and his co-conspirators in carrying the election of

This will more fully appear when we come to the Dudley
"Blocks of Five" letters and again in 1893 when the Demo-
crats repealed practically all of the Enforcement Acts.

Joseph C. Mackin — "Chesterfield," as he was called —
and Thomas Gallagher induced the county clerk of Cook
County, Illinois, to permit them to have access to the elec-
tion returns for the electioniheld November 4, 1884, before


these returns had been canvassed by the Canvassing Board.
Mackin- and Gallagher then changed the certificate in a
certain precinct, showing that Henry W. Leman had 220
votes instead of 420 votes, and that Rudolph Brand had
470 instead of 270 votes for the office of State senator.
They also substituted, in place of the ballots actually voted,
ballots which they had had printed and the same as the
ballots actually voted, except the changes as to State sena-
tor. The ballots as printed and substituted for those voted
gave Brand 470 and Leman 220, and thus conformed with
the forged certificate. Leman was a Republican and Brand
a Democrat. Brand's election would make the Illinois leg-
islature Democratic on joint ballot, would insure the defeat
of Senator Logan's reelection and the election of a Demo-
cratic senator, and would make the United States Senate
Democratic. The discovery of the forgery saved Leman his
seat and assured Senator Logan's reelection to the Senate.

A citizens' committee was organized and employed coun-
sel to aid in the prosecution of Mackin and Gallagher and
their co-conspirators. Instead of being indicted, they were
proceeded against "by information," a mere affirmation
under the oath of the district attorney that the defendants
had conspired to commit offenses as described in violation
of certain sections of the statutes of the United States al-
ready referred to as the Enforcement Acts. They were tried
before Judge Blodgett and a jury, convicted and sentenced
to two years in the penitentiary at Joliet, and to pay a fine
of $5,000 each. On a petition for a writ of habeas corpus
and stay of sentence, Judge Gresham issued the writ and
stayed the sentence until he and Judge Harlan could
hear the case together. They certified it to the Supreme

The Supreme Court did not pass on the question as to
whether the Federal courts had jurisdiction, where it af-
firmatively appeared that the offense was designed only to
affect the election of a State officer and not a member of



Congress. But it decided that Mackin and Gallagher
could only be proceeded against, if at all, in a Federal court,
by way of indictment by a grand jury; that the initial pro-
ceeding by way of "information" was void because in con-
flict with the amendment to the Constitution of the United
States. So the question was settled for all time in the Fed-
eral courts that before a defendant can be put to trial
for a felony he must be indicted by a grand jury.

Before the case was heard before Judge Gresham and
Judge Harlan, Judge Gresham was subjected to much criti-
cism as a judge who was imposing technicalities in behalf of
men who had committed crimes against the elective fran-
chise. Many threatening letters were received. One let-
ter, however, came from Judge Davis, saying: "I told the
lawyers I talked to that if I had been on the bench I would
have decided the same way you did in the Mackin case."

Pending the appeal to the Supreme Court of the United
States, Mackin was indicted for forgery in the Criminal
Court of Cook County, Illinois, was subsequently tried and
convicted, and served his term in the penitentiary.

At the 1880 election Judge Gresham divided the special
United States marshals and supervisors between the Demo-
crats and Republicans, although the latter made the ap-
plication for their appointment, and up to that time the
Federal judges had appointed only Republicans to these

Judge Gresham declined to become the Republican can-
didate for Governor of Indiana that year. He contem-
plated becoming candidate for United States Senator, but
reconsidered the question and declined.



npHE repeal of the Bankruptcy Act of 1867 took effect in
•^ 1879 and an immense amount of labor devolved on the
district judge because there were throngs who wanted to
clean up and begin anew. With the bankruptcy dockets
cleared and ahead of the chancery and law calendars, Wal-
ter O. Gresham had arranged, in 1882, to retire from the
bench and go into partnership with Joseph E. MacDonald.
While he was holding his last term of court at Evansville,
President Arthur, without any solicitation on his part and
even without his knowing that he was being considered,
offered him a place in the cabinet as Postmaster-General.

The public and the press received the appointment with
great cordiality. It was said that a number of gentlemen
were responsible for the President's having made the ap-
pointment, but it proved so popular that Mr. Arthur finally
announced that he was himself the father of the idea.

It so happened that just at that time Colonel John W.
Foster, who was then living and practicing law in Washing-
ton, was appointed minister to Spain. It was arranged to
the satisfaction of all that we should take the Foster house
at 1405 I Street.


Congress was not in session and the season was over,
but Washington is charming out of season, especially in
April and May. General Sherman's house was just around
the corner on Fifteenth Street, and he was as neighborly
as a village friend. -The wife of his next-door neighbor,
General Henry W. Slocum, a member of Congress from
New York, was to become one of my best friends, also
Mrs. John G. Carlisle of Kentucky. Both were women of
ability who had then seen much of affairs, and continued
to do so. Another agreeable woman living on I Street was
Mrs. White, the daughter of Senator Philetus Sawyer of
Wisconsin. Senator John Sherman lived a short distance
away on H Street. I saw much of Mr. and Mrs. Sherman.
Secretary of the Navy W. E. Chandler lived in the same
block. He almost lived with us that spring and summer,
as Mrs. Chandler was away. Chief Justice Waite was our
next-door neighbor. Justice and Mrs. Samuel Blatchford
also lived in the same block on the corner of H and 15 th
streets. Former Secretary of the Treasury Hugh McCul-
loch, whose retirement of the greenbacks my husband had
believed in, lived close by on McPherson Square, and was a
frequent visitor. He talked finance and seemed to have the
fiscal affairs of the government at his tongue's end.

Among the men who took a fancy to my husband was
Justin S. Morrill, author of the Morrill tariff and then a
senator from Vermont. The Morrills lived but two blocks
away on Vermont Avenue. Senator Morrill's sister, Miss
Swan, the finest type of the New England woman, who
greatly admired my husband's character, manifested an
interest and friendship that still puts a glow to my heart.
General Schenck, the man who taught the Englishman the
great American game, was then living in Washington. At
his home, at the White House — where President Arthur
from the start took up with and was on good terms with the
Southern men — at "Chamberlain's" and at "Welker's,"
the soldier element of the sections sat over the green cloth


sometimes until very late hours — later than Miss Swan
approved. "Chamberlain's" was less than a block from
our house. There Henry Watterson, or "Marse Henry,"
put up when he came to town.

The one-legged Confederate, M. B. Butler, Senator from
South Carolina, was in that inner circle; also Senators Vest
and Pettit and the ex-Confederate Senator Mahone, who
had organized a party of his own in Virginia. When
Matthew Stanley Quay came to town as United States
Senator it was "Marse Henry" who said: "Mat, here's
your chair!" From the House there was "Private John"
M. Allen of Tupelo, the one-legged "Dave" Henderson,
General Henderson of Iowa, and "Tom" Reed, each after-
wards Speaker. In everything but preserving the outward
semblance of party divisions, there was a friendship that
obliterated party lines.

Our old pastor. Rev. William A. Bartlett, of the Second
Presbyterian Church of Indianapolis, was in Washington as
the pastor of the New York Avenue Church. My daughter
and I attended that church. Justice Harlan was a member
there, and it at once seemed to become the custom for him
to stop in at our house Sunday mornings on the way home
from church. Judge Harlan was a good story-teller, with
a strong, resonant voice. He was much interested in my
husband's efforts to exclude the Louisiana lottery from
the mails.

The Congress of 1872 had passed acts against the use of
the mails in furtherance of schemes to defraud, and to sup-
press lotteries. Section 4041 of the Revised Statutes au-
thorized the Postmaster- General, upon any evidence satis-
factory to him, to forbid the payment of any money order
in favor of, or drawn to the order of, any firm conducting a
lottery, and Section 3929 authorized its return to the sender
with the word "fraudulent" stamped on it. The payment
of money orders was stopped, but the lottery company then
wrote its patrons to remit by express. Section 3894^ follows:

1 Since amended and now 213 of Criminal Code.



No letter or circular concerning illegal lotteries, so-called
gift concerns, or other similar enterprises, offering prizes, or
concerning schemes devised and intended to deceive and defraud
the public for the purpose of obtaining mone}' under false pre-
tenses, shall be carried in the mail. Anybody who shall' know-
ingly deposit or send anything to be conveyed by mail in violation
of this section shall be punishable by a fine of not more than
$500 nor less than $10 with costs of prosecution.

Justice Harlan agreed with my husband that this sec-
tion was sufficient authority to warrant the Postmaster-
General in excluding the lottery company's letters from
the mail. Accordingly, the Postmaster-General ordered
the postmaster at New Orleans to refuse to deliver to the
Louisiana Lottery Company, and to the First National
Bank, the agent of the Lottery Company at New Orleans,
any mail, and to refuse to accept mail when he knew it came
from these parties.

Judge Billings promptly issued a mandatory injunction
on the postmaster at New Orleans to deliver and receive
the lottery mail. Then Mr. Gresham requested the Attor-
ney-General to secure the dissolution of the injunction, but
made no suggestion as to how the case should be man-
aged. The motion to dissolve was heard on a Saturday
and was refused. I remember that Justice Harlan on the
following Sunday morning was more provoked than my
husband at Judge Billings' action. Indeed, the Justice was
so wrought up that morning that the discussion was still
on when the people were returning from church. This
gave the Postmaster-General occasion to remind the
Justice that even on a Sunday, in helping to prosecute a
lottery company, he should not forget infant damnation
-i and that Calvanistic confession of faith. Justice Harlan
said that WilHam A. Morey, the associate attorney-general,
had not managed the case right. Walter Q. Gresham said
the idea of a court, in the face of a general statute, attempt-
ing to control -the discretion of one of the departments of


the executive branch of the government, was preposterous.
Not for a minute should a court of equity listen to such an
application as the lottery people had made to Billings.

But with narrow and technical judges the only thing to
do was to ask Congress for a more specific act. The power
was there. Senator Sawyer was chairman of the Post-
Ofhce Committee of the Senate, and his committee lis-
tened to Judge Gresham on many occasions as to how the
act should be amended. It was six years before the Post-
master-General's suggested amendments became law. Then
the Lotterv^ Company, after the State of Louisiana turned
against it, moved to Honduras; and during the second
Cleveland administration, Mr. Gresham helped William S.
Bissell frame a statute that effectually suppressed it.

After the dissolution of the injunction by Judge Bil-
lings, the Lottery Company and the First National Bank
of New Orleans brought suits for $100,000 each against
Walter Q. Gresham for exceeding his powers as Postmaster-
General in denying them the use of the mails.

At that time Mr. Blaine was writing his "Twenty Years
in Congress." Judge Gresham belonged to the branch of
the Republican Party that was opposed to Mr. Blaine.
An intimacy between the two was started by Dr. Bartlett,
our minister, who came to the house one evening and said
that he did not know Mr. Blaine personally but "would like
verv' much to meet him. Aiy husband said, "We will go
and call on him," and they did so that evening. Mr.
Blaine returned the call the next day, and after that was
a frequent visitor at our house. No man could be more
agreeable or attractive than Mr. Blaine when he set about
to make himself engaging.

Sometimes Mr. Blaine and Judge Harlan met on a J
Sunday morning. They talked about the war, the Amend-
ments to the Constitution, the surplus, and the personnel
of the different men on both sides who had participated in
the Rebellion. Mr. Blaine discussed General Grant freely.


He called him the "Old Man," and said, "He liked popular
applause more than any man I ever knew." From his
manner it seemed to me that Mr. Blaine regretted he had
not "served time" during the Rebellion. One subject
never was discussed, and that was the Cincinnati Conven-
tion of 1876, when it was said the opposition (in which John
M. Harlan was a leader) to Mr. Blaine, at a critical stage, to
head off a stampede to Blaine, turned out the lights in the
convention hall and thus secured an adjournment they
could not otherwise have secured. Then it was the deal
was made whereby Hayes was nominated and Harlan was to
be put on the Supreme bench.

We were in Washington until late in the summer. I
made up my mind to be prepared for New Year's and for
the Cabinet and other dinners we would be required to
give the coming winter. While there were no caterers in
Washington in those days as there were when I was there
the second time, and as there are now, there were a. few
fine old colored cooks who were engaged long in advance
of the season. The most noted one of these was a Mrs.
Brown. I sent for her and engaged her for the opening
of the season, which is New Year's day, and then for the
first Cabinet dinner. She was a wonderful cook. My
New Year's reception came off all right. Mrs. Chandler,
wife of the Secretary of the Navy, came in to see me one
day just before the dinner, to know why I had taken Mrs.
Brown away from her and how in the world I had found
her out, saying that Mrs. Brown was the finest cook in
Washington and she had always had her for New Year's.

With the assembling of Congress in December, John G.
Carlisle was selected by the Democrats as Speaker of the
House over Samuel Randall, the Protectionist Democrat
from Pennsylvania. The cabinet receptions then began.
It was all new to me, and as my husband was then looked
on as the man to whom Mr. Arthur might turn in the event
that Mr. Arthur became convinced he could not secure the


nomination, we had great crowds at our receptions. As a
foil, Mr. Blaine was saying General Sherman should be
nominated. Senator Sherman was not then a candidate,
while General Sherman was as warm and cordial as he was
the first time I met him at Memphis during the war. He
said he was for Gresham. He came to my first afternoon
reception. Somehow it was learned that he was a frequent
visitor and this brought a great many people who wanted
a chance to talk with him. More people, I thought, came
to see General Sherman than came to see me. One even-
ing when General Sherman came in, as he did quite often,
he said, "I like to come to your receptions; it is like going
to a Sunday school convention." He meant, there were
so many people there.

General Grant made a visit to Washington and came
to see us. This at once satisfied the diplomats that my
husband was something more than the average man in
Washington, and the result was that we saw more of the
diplomats than did the ordinary members of the cabinet
outside of the Secretary of State, whose official duties bring
him in close contact with the diplomatic corps.

That Fall, when Mr. Blaine came back to Washington,
his house was the head of one party and the White House
of another. As the winter wore on, Mr. Blaine became an
active candidate for nomination, and Mr. Arthur likewise.

After Mr. Blaine's return for the winter we saw much
of the Blaine family, until one day Mr. Blaine said to my
husband, "I can be nominated, but I cannot be elected.
Arthur cannot be nominated. Why do you stay with him?
You can be elected. If you will make me Secretary qf
State, you can be nominated at Chicago." My husband
told him that he could not talk about a matter of that kind
as long as he was in the President's cabinet.

Mrs. McElroy, Mr. Arthur's sister, who came to Wash-
ington that winter and occupied the White House as its
mistress, was a very sensible woman. She said they feared


that in the event of General Arthur's being nominated,
•there would be many people who would consider him re-
sponsible for the assassination of President Garfield. This
was because he had gone to Albany with Senators Piatt and
Conkling to aid them in their re-election to the Senate after
they had resigned from the Senate when William S. Robert-
son was appointed collector of the port of New York at
Mr. Blaine's instance, and contrary to what was claimed
the agreement made by General Garfield before the election
as to the distribution of the New York offices.

The great public question that was thrusting itself on
the people when Chester A. Arthur succeeded to the Presi-
dency, namely, the surplus in the United States Treasury —
we were still under the war tariffs — he had seized with
the grasp of a statesman. He was an educated, cultured,
accomplished gentleman, honest and patriotic. He had
been successful in the practice of his chosen profession
of law, and possessed fine executive ability. His large ex-
perience as collector of the port at New York, where more
than two-thirds of all the revenue of the Government derived
from customs or tariff laws was collected, had given him a
knowledge of the legislation, the details of administration,
and the ramification and needs of the business interests of
the nation that few men who ever served in Washington,
whether in legislative or executive positions, possessed.
His removal from the New York collectorship by President
Hayes and Secretary of the Treasury John Sherman, in
which James G. Blaine had had a hand, was purely for
political reasons — one of the steps taken to prevent General
Grant's third nomination in 1880.

Elected one of the delegates at large from the State of
New York to the Chicago convention. General Arthur voted
steadily as one of the 306 for Grant's nomination. After
the break in the convention, which gave the nomination to
James A. Garfield, Mr. Arthur was unanimously nominated
for Vice-President, and, contrary to the wishes of Senator


Conkling and of Thomas C. Piatt, promptly accepted.

Mr. Arthur did not regard his factional friendships as
any warrant for ignoring the proprieties, the traditions, and
the duties of the Presidency. He believed he could get
away from the bitterness of the Blaine-Conkling quarrel
and the attempt to nominate General Grant for a third
term. He and his associates in the cabinet thought that
the proper presentation to the American people, by his
administration, of the right way to reduce the surplus in
the Treasury, would carry with it at their hands a nomi-
nation and re-election in 1884. The people approved the
Arthur plan of reducing the revenue, but the factionalism of
that time prevented the nomination.

President Arthur had the power to nominate himself
had he used his patronage and the prestige of his office.
This is manifest from the party platform of the year. But
aside from patriotic and moral considerations, he was wise
enough, if it be put on another ground than that of policy,
to refrain from the use of patronage and force to secure
the nomination.

John Sherman, as Secretary of the Treasury, in his last
report to Congress, December i, 1880, "suggested" a re-
duction of the customs duties. He predicated it on the
facts he called to the attention of Congress: The resump-
tion of specie payments by January i, 1879; the importation
of $97,000,000 gold for the year ending January 30, 1880,
instead of exporting gold, as had been done every year since
specie payments had been suspended in 1862; a surplus in
the Treasury of $37,000,000 after meeting the expenses of
the government and the requirements of the sinking fund
for the year ending June 30, 1880; and an estimated surplus
of $50,000,000 for the year to end June 30, 1881.

It was too early co recommend an actual revision; al-
though the operation of the war taxes in time of peace
had reduced the war debt $850,000,000 since the debt had
reached its maximum of $2,750,000,000 on the 31st day of


August, 1865. Therefore Secretary Sherman recommended
that Congress appoint a commission to investigate and
report as to how the tariff schedules should be revised.

The surplus for the year ending June 30, 1881, increased
beyond what John Sherman had estimated. It was $100,-
000,000. So President Arthur and Charles J. Folger, his
Secretary of the Treasury, urged upon the Congress which
met in December, 1881, a reduction of the revenue as a
means of reducing the surplus in the Treasury. President
Arthur said: "I agree with the Secretary of the Treasury
that the law imposing a stamp tax upon matches, proprie-
tary articles, playing cards, checks, and drafts, may with
propriety be repealed, and the law, also by which banks
and bankers are assessed upon their capital and deposits;
in short, all internal revenue taxes should be repealed ex-
cept those upon tobacco and distilled spirits and fermented
liquors. But that due regard may be paid to the conflict-
ing interests of our citizens, important changes should be
made with caution. If a careful revision cannot be made
at this session a commission such as was lately approved
by the Senate and is now recommended by the Secretary
of the Treasury would lighten the labors of Congress when-
ever this subject shall be brought to its consideration."

On the 15th of May, 1882, Congress provided for such
a commission, with instructions to report when Congress
met December 4. The commission was appointed by
President Arthur. He sent its report to Congress as that
body had requested. The annual surplus had grown to
$145,000,000 for the year ending June 30, 1882. Both the
President and the commission recommended a reduction of
customs duties. The reductions as recommended by the
commission averaged 20 per cent. Congress made a reduc-
tion that averaged about one per cent. Senator Sherman
afterwards said that had the report of the commission been
adopted, it would have taken the tariff out of politics for
many years to come. But unfortunately, he did not take


that view of it when it was before Congress. He sided
with the tariff barons and defeated its recommendations.

Colonel W. R. Morrison of Illinois, as chairman of the
Ways and Means Committee of the Congress that assembled

Online LibraryMatilda GreshamLife of Walter Quintin Gresham, 1832-1895 (Volume 2) → online text (page 5 of 38)