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with prognostications of the happy day of their re-appearance
in circulation. The General, true to his life-long principles,
viewed the plans of the inflationists, not merely with the dis-
gust of an affronted intelligence, but with a certain personal
indignation and wrath, which none could fail to perceive who
heard him express himself unofficially on the subject. It was
his conviction, in 1861, that the legal tender act was uncon-
stitutional, that it was a violation of the rights of property,
and that it was not necessary to a successful prosecution of
the war. His views on this subject are stated in a letter ad-
dressed to the Hon. Eeverdy Johnson, which will be found at
page 227 of this volume. His convictions never changed ; and
it may be imagined with what disgust he regarded the failure
of Congress to repeal the act, and with what indignation and
alarm he watched the proceedings of those who would have
fastened on the country what he regarded as an odious and
corrupt system, or, at all events, would have prolonged it in-
deiinitely. "With these strong convictions, and in some un-
certainty as to the course which the President would take, in
case of the passage of a dangerous bill by Congress, the Gov-
ernor determined to use his influence in making the voice of
the Empire State distinctly heard at Washington, and thus,
if necessary, strengthening the national administration in their
resistance to that reckless agitation, which nothing but a Yeto
could stop. "With this view he addressed a Message to the
Legislature, which appears to me worthy of being held in
perpetual remembrance. I have reason to believe that it
made a strong impression on the President.



1873-1875.] A. MESSAGE TO THE LEGISLATURE. 191

" State of New York, Executive Chamber, Albany, April 7, 1874.

" To the Legislature :

" I deem it due to the interest and honor of the State to
call upon you, its chosen representatives, to take into consid-
eration the propositions before Congress in regard to the cur-
rency. Though yet immature, and requiring the concurrent
action of both Houses to give them the vahdity of law, they
have, nevertheless, received in each such partial sanction as to
excite serious alarm as to the result. In my Annual Message,
in January last, I expressed the earnest hope that the paper
circulation issued by the Government would be curtailed, and
that early steps would be taken to resume specie payments.
I did not anticipate that so extraordinary a proposition as that
of inflating the currency by adding to the outstanding legal
tender notes, or by authorizing a farther issue of National
Bank paper, would be seriously made. In view of the pur-
pose which has been indicated, to enlarge the volume of paper
of both descriptions, and to repudiate all attempts to re-estab-
4ish the standard of specie — a policy, as I sincerely believe,
fraught with wide-spread ruin to the industry of the country,
and with imminent danger to its credit — I invoke your inter-
position to contribute all in your power to prevent its adop-
tion. Your opinion, representing, as you do, more largely
than the Legislature of any other State, the financial and com.-
mercial interests of the Union, should carry with it great
weight.

" The flagrant injustice of the proposed measure will be
more apparent when you consider that, if adopted without
repealing the Legal Tender Act, the result will be not only to
depreciate the paper currency still farther, but to compel its
acceptance in payment of debt ; thus openly violating the
solemnly proclaimed pledge of the Government five years ago
to redeem its notes in specie ' at the earliest practicable period,'
impairing the obligation of contracts, and consummating what
the Constitution prohibits to the States as an act of mora! and
political turpitude. To degrade the currency, and at the same



192 MEMOIRS OF JOHN ADAMS DIX.

time to compel the people to receive it as equivalent to specie,
would be the most tyrannical exercise and abuse of financial
power of which a civilized government has ever been guilty
in time of peace. It differs in no essential respect, either un-
der its moral or its practical aspects, from a degradation of the
standard of specie by an adulteration of the national coin.

" Five years ago the sense of rectitude would have revolted
at the suggestion of such an act of public perfidy ; but a per-
sistence in wrong and injustice rarely fails to reconcile farther
wrong to the thought first and to the purpose afterward.

" If, spurning away all the teachings of history and tram-
pling underfoot all the maxims of political justice, we adopt a
policy as fraudulent as it is demoralizing, our successors will
look back on our conduct with humiliation and shame.

" The millions of depreciated and irredeemable paper, if
issued as proposed, will, by a law of distribution, which no
human power can control, be poured into the city of New
York to uphold and stimulate stock-gambling, to glut the
channels of industry with false tokens of value, to embarrass
all honest transactions of business, to cause reactions in the
various departments of labor, by which the working-classes
are thrown out of employment, and to shake to its founda-
tions the fabric of the public credit. Against the introduction
of such an instrument of dishonor and calamity we should
enter our solemn protest, as we would against any other flood
of contamination.

"I speak with a clear understanding of the force of my
words. I believe and trust you will concur with me in opin-
ion that the emergency demands the plainest and most em-
phatic language. I, therefore, recommend such an expression
on your part as may comport with the dignity of the Legisla-
ture, and as you may deem due to the interest of your constit-
uents. I am not without hope that a timely declaration of
your views, to be presented to Congress through the Senators
and Eepresentatives from this State, may arrest the torrent of
disgrace and disaster with which the country is threatened



1873-1875.] THE GOVEBNOU'S MESSAGE CONCURRED IN. 193

from tliis source. If your protests and warnings are unheed-
ed, you will have the consolation of reflecting, when the evil
comes upon us, that no effort on your part has been spared to
avert it. John A. Dix."

The reading of this Message in the Senate was followed
by the presentation of three sets of Resolutions, all of which
were, on motion, referred to the Committee on Finance ; and
in the evening of the same day the following Resolutions
were reported by the Committee, and adopted by a vote of
twenty-five in the affirmative to three in the negative :*

" Whereas, His Excellency the Governor of the State of
New York has this day transmitted to both Houses of the
Legislature a special message relating to the inflation of the
currency by the general Government, calling attention to the
disastrous effect of such action upon the welfare and prosper-
ity of the country : therefore be it

'■'■Resolved (if the Assembly concur). That we fully ap-
prove and heartily endorse the sentiments expressed in such
Message; and in view thereof, and of the Act of Congress
approved March, 1869, which affirmed that the faith of the
United States was solemnly pledged to the payment in coin
of all the obligations of the United States not bearing inter-
est (known as United States notes), and that 'the United
States also solemnly pledged its faith to make provision at
the earliest practicable period for the redemption of the
United States notes in coin;' and as this pledge has been
repeatedly given, it is the judgment of the Legislature of the
State of New York that it is the duty of the administration
of the general Government at Washington and of Congress
to stay the pernicious and ruinous policj'^ of increasing the
volume of irredeemable paper currency ; and be it farther

'■'■ BesoVoed (if the Assembly concur), That our Senators and

* Two Senators asked to be excused from voting ; but, as the Senate
refused to consent, they subsequently voted in the negative.
II.— 13



194: MEMOIRS OF JOHN ADAMS DIX.

Representatives in Congress be and they are liereby requested
to resist, by all efforts in tbeir power, any inflation of tlie cur-
rency through the farther issue of circulating notes by the
Government, or by National banks; and that they be and
they are also hereby requested, respectively, to promote by
all proper measures an early return to specie payment ; and
be it farther

'■'■ Resol/oed (if the Assembly concur), That his Excellency
the Governor be requested to transmit these Resolutions, with
a copy of his Message appended, to the President of the
United States, and to each of our Senators and Representa-
tives in Congress."

The Assembly immediately concurred in the Resolutions,
and they went to the Governor. He lost no time in sending
them to "Washington. There is no doubt that they contrib-
uted to strengthen the administration, and to prepare the way
for the veto by which President Grant subsequently put the
forces of the greenbackers and inflationists to a rout, and
maintained the credit and honor of the American people.

I must beg pardon of the reader for referring, at this point,
to a personal subject. On the third day of June, 18T4, 1 had
the great happiness of being united in holy matrimony with
Emily Woolsey Soutter. The ceremony was performed at
the residence of her mother, 22 East Seventeenth Street, by
Bishop Potter. Soon afterward we went abroad, and spent
the summer in Eiirope, visiting, among other countries, Den-
mark, Sweden, and Norway, and thus following, in part, the
route taken by my father and mother on their wedding-tour.

During our absence we heard of the Governor's re-nomi-
nation. The proverbial uncertainty of New York politics
was once more illustrated in a striking manner. In 1872 he
had gone into office with a majority of about fifty thousand ;
in 1874 he was defeated by a majority very nearly as heavy.
Such startling revolutions afford an interesting subject of
study. It was generally confessed that the Governor's ad-
ministration of his office had been worthy of his reputation



1873-1875]. REASONS WHY AND WHEBEFOB. 195

for honesty, conscientiousness, and ability; no failure in the
due execution of the functions of the Chief Magistracy had
occurred to discredit him in the eyes of the people, or give
just occasion for assault by political enemies. How, then,
are changes so sudden and so startling to be accounted for?
Their causes must be sought below the surface, and outside
the range of questions as to the personal character of men
and their qualifications for a given post. Perhaps they may
be, in part, the result of a system which, though going by the
name of government by the people, appears to be, in reality,
a government of the people by a few astute managers of
public afEairs, profoundly versed in the arts of the politician,
skilled in the manipulation of voters, and unscrupulous as to
the means of gaining and keeping power. In my father's
case, however, two special causes led to his defeat. The first
was the reaction against the administration of General Grant,
and the fear — which, in some quarters, took the form of panic
— that he might be re-elected for a third term ; for it was
predicted by alarmists that such re-election must result in a
perpetual tenure of the office, and the subversion of republi-
can forms of government. Whatever were the springs of
that sentiment, there was, undoubtedly, a profound dislike,
a dread, of the administration, which extended to all who
were regarded as its supporters ; so that the intense opposi-
tion to a re-election of the distinguished soldier to whom the
greatest victories of the late war were due involved an equally
strenuous opposition to the re-election of General Dix. But
it is said that there was another cause for his defeat. The
Kepublican party in the State of New York was at that time
practically under the control of certain prominent politicians,
whose aid was indispensable to the success of the canvass.
But they deliberately refused to support the candidate of
their own party, preferring defeat that year to the re-election
of one whom they desired to remove from the stage of pub-
lic affairs. Either of these two causes was strong enough to
make the re-election of General Dix exceedingly difficult:



196 MEMOIRS OF JOHN ADAMS DIX.

united, they insured defeat. In the State of New York there
was, perhaps, no man better fitted than he in every particular
for the Chief Magistracy, nor one more worthy of confidence,
trust, and esteem. But that is not the usual question now ;
the point to settle is, what use can be made of a man by those
who help him into ofiice. If he assert his freedom to act as
conscience dictates, fail to honor the drafts made on him by
the selfish, or stand in the way of the ambitious, the course
usually taken is to stab him in the back, and so clear the way.
It was not because he had left undone what a Governor ought
to do, or done what a Governor ought not to do, that my fa-
ther, after so many years of able and honorable service, was
sent into retirement. The matchless political manager desired
to be rid of him, as of every possible or probable rival of his
own advance. The vulgar and uneducated voter exercised his
right of suffrage with the idea working blindly in his brain
that a change in the State government meant a change for
the better in his own petty affairs. I heard of a case in point
which it were well to note, in jperpetuam rei memoriam,
and by way of comment on the advantages of universal suf-
frage. Down on the Great South Bay a friend of ours met
a fisherman, who said that he should vote against General
Dix. "But why? Are you not a Kepublican?" — "Yes."
"Do you not think that he has made a good Governor?" —
" Oh yes ; I 'ain't no fault to find with him at all." " "Well,
then, why should you vote against him ?" — " Well, you see,"
was the intelligent reply, " the times is hard, and I think we
want a change. The fact is, I haven't averaged more than
half an eel to a pot this two months, and I guess we'd better
have a change ; and so I'm going to vote the Democratic
ticket this time."

The old soldier took his defeat philosophically ; he was per-
fectly aware of its causes, and fully appreciated the conduct
and motives of those to whom, in great measure, it was due.
He disliked thenceforth to be addressed as " Governor." He
used to say, " Call me General. By Act of Congress I have



1873-1875.] TSE PUBLIC LIFE liECOBD CLOSED. 19Y

tlie right to that title, with my uniform and sword, as long as
I live ; but the people of the State of l^ew York have taken
the other title from me, and I prefer not to keep what I have
now no claim to."

And with this I close the record of my father's public and
official life. His work was accomplished ; the day hours were
drawing toward the close, and the sun was sinking fast. Noth-
ing remains but to touch briefly on topics relating to the home
life and home pursuits, and then to pass on, and speak of the
final scene of his departure out of the care of this transitory
world.



XII.

THE LAST FOUR YEARS,
A.D. isrs-isra.



Final Retirement into Private Life. — Comptroller of Trinity Church. —
Letters to President Grant on the Taxation of Church Property and
Church Buildings. — Defence of the Church against the aspersions of
Free-thinkers. — Address on the Political and Social Evils of the Day.
— ^Enthusiastic Reception at the Centennial Celebration in New York,
July 4, 1876. — Letter to President Hayes on Civil Service Reform. —
Speech on Paper Money m. Coin. — Attainments as a French Scholar.
— Classical Studies. — Tlie Dies Iros : Letters from Eminent Authors. —
Other Translations from the Latin Authors : the Stdbat Mater : Mar-
tial, Claudian, Modestinus, Catullus. — Address as Honorary Chancellor
of Union College. — Personal Reminiscences. — Portraits. — The Golden
Wedding. — ^Death of John W. Dix. — Life at Seafield: Shooting. — The
Eightieth Birthday.— The Last Illness.— The End.



1875-1879.] THE HELM OF STATE TBANSEEBRED. 201



XII.

"When, on the first day of January, 1875, my father re-
signed to the hands of his successor in oflBce, Samuel J.
Tilden, the helm of State, he withdrew finally from the stage
of public events. The dignified ceremonial of that occasion
— ^when the out-going Chief Magistrate welcomes with gi-a-
cious and cordial words him who takes his place, receiving
in return, through his successor, the assurances of the regard
of his fellow-citizens, and their thanks for his services to the
State — constituted, in this instance, the last farewell to those
stirring scenes, those cares and heavy responsibilities, in the
midst of which the greater part of his life had been passed.
The shadows of the evening hours already filled the sky, and
the night was to descend erelong upon the road. But the
four remaining years were not a term of idleness or inaction.
Passed in the home which he loved so dearly, and among
those who surrounded him with proofs of devoted affection
and prayers for the continuance of that honored life, they
were brightened by the lights which kindle their peaceful
and gladdening beams at the closing of the day, and give
welcome presage of the nearness of the sunny land beyond.
Old age sometimes, if not frequently, wears a morose and
melancholy aspect ; the failure of the physical powers is at-
tended by distresses and pains which too often dim the light
of the soul, and transform the jaded wayfarer to an image the
very reverse of his former self. But no such results were to
be observed in the case of my father. Bright, cheerful, and
active ; blessed with the full possession of his faculties ; able
to give attention to as much work as it was best for him to



203 MEMOIRS OF JOHN ADAMS DIX.

do, and to divert himself in the honest and simple pleasures
which had formed the relaxation of his busiest years ; happy
in the companionship of faithful friends, and in the diligent
study of his favorite authors ; as intensely interested as ever
in public affairs and every event of the day ; a devout believer
in the Christian religion, and a regular communicant at the
altars of the Church ; in favor — as we doubt not — with God,
and in perfect charity with the world, his last years present-
ed a fair picture to the eye, and realized the fine and well-
known description of the classical moralist : " Aptissima om-
nino sunt arma senectutis, artes exercitationesque virtutum,
quae in omni aetate cultse, cum multum diuque vixeris, miri-
ficos efferunt fruetus, non solum quia nunquam deserunt, ne
in extreme quidem tempore setatis (quamquam id maximum
est), verum etiam quia conscientia bene actse vitas, multo-
rumque benefactorum recordatio, iucundissima est."

Of him, also, could it have been truly said : " Videtis, ut
senectus non modo languida atque iners non sit, verum etiam
sit operosa et semper agens aliquid et moliens; tale scilicet
quale studium in superiore vita fuit." Of this characteristic
of his closing years some illustrations shall now be given.

We knew that some congenial occupation was necessary to
insure his happiness and prolong his life. He was one of
those active and indefatigable men who cannot exist without
something to do. It is a great pleasure to me to reflect that
the work of the closing days was directly connected with the
highest of all interests, those of morality and religion. For a
great many years he had been a member of the Vestry of
Trinity Church ; on the 8th of January, 1872, he was elected
Comptroller of that Corporation. On his return to 'Eew
York, in 1875, he was urged to resume that office — which he
had, of course, resigned when he went to Albany as Governor.
To this request, which was unanimous and peremptory, he
acceded ; and he held the position till the day of his death,
fulfilling its duties with zeal, industry, and ability. His
knowledge of business and finance, and his familiarity with



1875-1879.] A CHAMPION FOE THE MIGHT. 203

public affairs, made him an admirable bead of a Corporation
wbicb is continually assailed from divers quarters, and as con-
stantly misrepresented by the ignorant, the vicious, and those
who, jealous of religious and charitable corporations, would
fain curtail their powers and plunder their possessions. It
is in order, at this point, to. call the attention of the reader
to certain letters on the subject of the taxation of Church
property and sacred edifices, written by General Dix, at a
time when schemes sacrilegious in their nature were not only
actively pushed, but also receiving such support in high quar-
ters as to make the outlook somewhat alarming. The tempo-
rary defeat of those efforts was due in part to the impression
produced by his eloquent and pious remonstrances ; and it
is an interesting fact that, since his death, the letters were
republished and widely circulated, at a time when attempts
at Church spoliation were renewed during a session of the
Legislature of this State. The first of these letters was ad-
dressed to President Grant, and is as follows :

"His SxcelUnep U. S. Grant: "New York, December 17, 1875.

"Deak Sib, — I do not trust too much to the accuracy of newspaper
reports of interviews with distinguished men ; but if the following ex-
tract from a letter in the New York Herald of this morning is correct, it
would seem that you are under a misapprehension — not, perhaps, an un-
common one — in supposing that the property of Trinity Church in this

city is not taxed :

" ' Taxation of Church Property.

" ' Dr. Newman asserted that the President was misunderstood if he
was believed to be inimical to any sect or denomination. Since the Mes-
sage was written Methodist callers at the White House had upbraided
him for so severe a blow at his own Church, the census of 1875 showing
that the property of the Methodists in that year was about $80,000,000.
The President replied that he was acting from a broad principle, wishing
to do equal justice to all religious persuasions, and that the exemption
of Church property was putting an unfair burden on other property.
He cited as an instance the enormous wealth of the Trinity Church
Corporation of New York City.'

" The fact is, that the Corporation of Trinity ChurcTi is taxed, under
the laws of this State, precisely in accordance with the suggestions in



204 MEMOIRS OF JOHN ADAMS DIX.

your Message to Congress. Its property consists of church edifices,
cemeteries, school-houses, an infirmary, a rectory, and several hundred
lots of ground, which, with the exception of a few used for parochial
purposes, are leased partly for short and partly for long periods. On the
short leases the Corporation pays the taxes ; on the long leases the taxes
are paid by the lessees. I paid in September last, as Comptroller of the
Corporation, on the former, $46,943 91 ; and we estimate the amount paid
on the latter at $60,000, making over $100,000 paid to the city this year
for taxes, besides a considerable sum for assessments. "We pay taxes on
every foot of ground used for secular purposes. We pay on our rectory,
in which the Rector resides, on the office in which the business of the
Corporation is transacted, although it is within the boundaries of St.
Paul's Cemetery. In fact, nothing is exempt except the church edifices,
the cemeteries, four school-houses, in which free schools are kept, and an
infirmary, in which the sick receive gratuitous treatment.

" I know you will be glad to have this information. I have always
been of opinion that the several States should tax all secular property
belonging to Churches within their respective limits. Cemeteries are
exempt by universal consent. I think church edifices should be, as I
believe they always have been in Christian communities. To tax them
would seem like making the Creator and Sovereign Euler of the universe
pay tribute to us for allowing a part of his footstool to be used for the
worship which is his due.

" I am, very respectfully and truly, yours, John A. Dix."

The second letter relates to the taxation of the edifices
dedicated to the worship of Almighty God. It was ad-
dressed to an eminent and well-known layman of the diocese
of Albany, and is as follows :

" New York, March 7, 1876.

"Mt dbae Sib, — I was surprised and grieved to learn that the taxa-
tion of church edifices had been seriously and even earnestly advocated



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