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had announced his " inflexible purpose, if elected,
not to be a candidate for a second term," and the
" Stalwarts " were quite willing that he should
keep his word. A senatorial triumvirate com-
posed of Conkling of New York, Logan of Illinois,
and "Don" Cameron of Pennsylvania, early
began a campaign for the restoration of the Grant
regime. Grant had recently returned from a



102 RECONSTRUCTION AND UNION

grand tour around the world, and his reception
abroad by great potentates had tickled American
pride. His progress from San Francisco, where
he landed on his return, proved a continuous
ovation. People temporarily forgot the failures of
his presidency and thought of him as a military
hero rather than as a discredited statesman. The
triumvirate pushed his candidacy energetically,
but prejudice against a third term soon awoke, and
people began to recall the scandals of 1869-77.
Grant at first declared that he would not hold
an office "that required any manoeuvring, or
sacrificing to obtain," but unwise friends and
members of his family were so urgent that pres-
ently it became apparent that he would take the
nomination hi any honorable way he could obtain
it. Other candidates were Senator Elaine of
Maine, Secretary Sherman of Ohio, and Senator
Edmunds of Vermont. Elaine, in particular, had
a strong following, and it was partly in order
to prevent the nomination of his enemy that
Conkling brought forward Grant.

When the convention assembled at Chicago
on June 2, 1880, the triumvirate had secured
Grant delegations from their respective states,
but their methods had been so high-handed as
to cause bitter indignation. The platform, as
reported to the convention, contained no reference
to civil service reform, which in reality was a vital
issue. A Massachusetts delegate moved the ad-
dition of a resolution declaring for it. Thereupon
a certain Flanagan from Texas jumped to his
feet proclaiming that "To the victors belong the
spoils," and naively asking, "What are we up



HAYES, GARFIELD, AND ARTHUR 103

here for?" After some discussion, the reform
plank was adopted. By his domineering manner
and sneering, sarcastic tone Conkling repelled
wavering delegates, and he also failed to secure
the adoption of the "unit rule," which would
probably have insured Grant's nomination. In
New York alone nineteen delegates, led by Wil-
liam H. Robertson, broke away from Conkling's
leadership and supported Blaine.

Conkling presented the name of his candidate
to the convention in a speech that has few equals
of its kind. Mounting a table on the reporters'
platform, he began, parodying certain lines by
Miles O'Reilly:

" And when asked what state he hails from.

Our sole reply shall be,
He hails from Appomattox
And its famous apple tree."

Almost equally notable was the speech of
James A. Garfield in behalf of John Sherman.
Garfield had charge of Sherman's forces and had
led the opposition to the unit rule. "Afterwards
it was often sneeringly suggested that Garfield
spoke for himself rather than for Sherman, but
this sneer was prompted by the outcome of the
Convention."

On the first ballot Grant received 304 votes,
Blaine 284, Sherman 93, with the rest scattering,
378 being necessary for a choice. For thirty-four
ballots Grant received an average of 306 votes,
and these delegates have gone down in history as
the "Grant Phalanx." On several ballots Gar-
field received one or two votes, and on the thirty-



104 RECONSTRUCTION AND UNION

fourth Wisconsin gave him sixteen, making his
total seventeen. Garfield at once sprang to his
feet and protested. But the presiding officer,
Senator Hoar of Massachusetts, being anxious
for Garfield's nomination, ruled him out of order
and commanded him to resume his seat. On
the next ballot Garfield received 50 votes, and
on the next, the thirty -sixth, 399 and the nomi-
nation. The convention then nominated for vice-
president Chester A. Arthur, whom Hayes had
removed from the collectorship of the port of
New York.

The Democrats met in convention at Cincin-
nati on the 22d of June. Tilden was the logical
candidate, and seems to have expected the nomi-
nation, but his health was poor, and he had made
no active canvass. Tammany Hall and his other
enemies worked against him, and pointed out
that the party could not afford to nominate any
one around whom hung the cloud of the cipher
dispatches. At the last moment Tilden wrote a
declination which he did not expect would be
accepted literally; the convention willingly took
him at his word, and on the third ballot nominated
General Winfield Scott Hancock of Pennsylvania.
Its selection for the vice-presidency was William
H. English of Indiana. Hancock had been one
of the ablest soldiers of the war, and was regarded
as the hero of Gettysburg and Spottsylvania.
Had public confidence in the Democratic party
equaled that reposed in him personally, he would
probably have been elected.

In the campaign the Democrats wasted much
breath upon the alleged "Steal" of the presidency.



HAYES, GARFIELD, AND ARTHUR 105

They also searched Garfield's Credit Mobilier
record and advocated a reduction of the tariff.
Unluckily for himself, Hancock characterized
the tariff question as "a local issue"; though he
really spoke a profound truth, the phrase was
pounced upon by his opponents, who succeeded
in persuading many persons that in saying it he
revealed a total ignorance of political and eco-
nomic affairs. The Republicans "waved the
bloody shirt," denounced the Democrats as
having an "insatiable lust for office," and promised
further pensions to old soldiers. The October
election in Maine resulted unfavorably to the
Republicans, but it proved a blessing in disguise.
The "Stalwarts," who had hitherto been sulking,
now threw aside their apathy and worked hard
for Garfield. Conkling and even the silent Grant
took the stump and rendered valuable assistance.
As usual, the Republicans obtained a large cam-
paign fund, partly by levying assessments upon
office-holders. Disclosures made subsequent to
the election seemed to show that Garfield himself
had a hand in this discreditable transaction. The
election resulted in a Republican victory; Gar-
field received 214 electoral votes to 155 for Han-
cock, but his popular plurality was less than ten
thousand. The Republicans also regainedcontrol
of the house. General James B. Weaver, who
had been nominated by the Greenback party,
received 308,000 votes but carried no state.

The new president had risen to his high place
from very humble beginnings. For a time he
worked as mule-boy on the tow-path of the Ohio
Canal between Marietta and Cleveland, but he



106 RECONSTRUCTION AND UNION

succeeded in obtaining an education and graduated
from Williams College. Subsequently he was a
professor in and then president of a small college
in Ohio and served in the state legislature. He
entered the Union army early in the war, and for
gallant service at Chickamauga was made a
major-general. In 1863 he entered the Federal
house of representatives, serving there continu-
ously for eighteen years and becoming one of the
best informed men in public life. He was a
powerful orator, an inspiring leader, but he was
inclined to be vacillating.

The nomination of Garfield had temporarily
healed the schism in the Republican ranks. The
wound soon broke open afresh. Garfield selected
Blaine as his secretary of state, and thereby
aroused the ire of Conkling, who considered that
it was through his efforts that victory had perched
upon the Republican banners. Other appoint-
ments still further incensed Conkling. In a
stormy interview with Garfield at the Riggs
House in Washington he charged the president-
elect with ingratitude and treason to his party.
Soon after the inauguration Garfield appointed
Robertson, the leader of the New York bolters
in the convention, to the collectorship of the port
of New York. In this Conkling thought he saw
the fine Italian hand of Blaine and fell into a
frenzy of wrath. A "committee of conciliation"
failed to restore harmony. Resolved to make the
president "bite the dust," Conkling gave out
a letter written by Garfield during the campaign
for the purpose of pressing collection of funds
from government appointees. The Republican



HAYES, GARFIELD, AND ARTHUR 107

party temporarily split into the Conkling-Arthur
party, known as "the Prince of Wales Party" or
"Stalwarts," the administration Republicans or
"'Half -breeds," and the neutrals or "Jelly-fish."
On May 16, 1881, Conkling petulantly resigned
his position as senator, and was followed by his
colleague and henchman, Thomas C. Platt, hence-
forth dubbed by cartoonists "Me-Too Platt."
They expected to be vindicated by an immediate
re-election, but the New York legislature thought
otherwise, and to the delight of the country,
which was disgusted with Conkling's conceit and
domineering manner, chose E. G. Lapham and
Warner Miller, administration Republicans, in
their stead. Conkling never returned to public
life; Platt's eclipse proved only momentary, and
for years he was the "Easy Boss" of New York.
Although the incoming president belonged to
the same party as his predecessor, he was forced
to attempt the difficult feat of satisfying thou-
sands of hungry office-seekers with five loaves and
two small fishes. It was said that a third of
Garfield's time was devoted to listening to the
clamor of candidates. They even lay in ambush
for him on his way to church. Of course, many
were disappointed. Among the number was a
certain Charles J. Guiteau, a half-crazed fanatic
who had been by turns preacher, editor, reformer,
and politician. Guiteau conceived the idea that
he would do the party a great service by "re-
moving" Garfield and thereby reuniting the fac-
tions into which Republicans were divided. On
the 2d of July, 1881, he approached Garfield
and Secretary Elaine in the Pennsylvania Rail-



108 RECONSTRUCTION AND UNION

road station in Washington and fired two shots,
one of which took effect in the president's back.
The wounded man lingered through more than
two months of terrible suffering, and finally died
on September 19th at Elberon on the New
Jersey coast. The rage of the people at the
assassin knew no bounds. Twice attempts were
made to kill him. His trial lasted for two months,
the defense being insanity. He was condemned
and executed at Washington, June 30, 1882.

The second article of the Federal constitution
provides that "in case of the removal of the
President from office, or of his death, resignation
or inability to discharge the powers and duties
of said office, the same shall devolve on the
Vice-President." During Garfield's illness a
grave question existed as to whether Vice-presi-
dent Arthur ought to assume the presidential
office. But no steps in that direction were taken,
and fortunately no emergencies arose that could
not be met by the cabinet. The death of the
president removed all doubts, and Arthur took
the presidential oath, first at his residence in
New York City and later in Washington. " Men
may die," said the new president on the latter
occasion, "but the fabric of our free institutions
remains unshaken."

Arthur was a man concerning whom little had
been known by the people at large until his nom-
ination for the vice-presidency. He had been
little more than a local New York politician, a
member of the so-called " Custom-House Gang,"
though in private life he was a gentleman of
cultivated tastes. The tremendous responsibility



HAYES, GARFIELD, AND ARTHUR 109

he was called upon to bear brought out the best
traits in his character, and he displayed in office
unexpected sagacity and firmness.

The assassination of Garfield had one good
result. The attention of the people was called in
a tragic way to the evils of the Spoils System,
and the movement in favor of Civil Service Re-
form received a great impetus. A bill drawn by
the Civil Service Reform League was reported
to the senate by a committee of which George
H. Pendleton of Ohio was chairman. The meas-
ure was bitterly opposed by many politicians of
both parties, who sneered at it as "snivel service"
and characterized its supporters as "goody-
goodies" and "holier than thous." But scandals
in the congressional campaign of 1882 demon-
strated anew the need of such a law, and the bill
passed both houses and received the signature of
the president. It authorized the president to ap-
point a commission of three to institute competi-
tive examinations for persons desiring to enter
the government service and provided that ap-
pointments must be made from among those who
passed. It forbade any congressman or govern-
ment official to solicit or receive political assess-
ments from government employes under penalty
of fine or imprisonment. Government officials
were also forbidden to use their official authority
to influence or coerce the political action of any
one. President Arthur appointed a commission
composed of Dorman B. Eaton, John M. Gregory,
and Leroy D. Thoman, all of whom had been
earnest advocates of public service purification.
The competitive principle was at first applied only



110 RECONSTRUCTION AND UNION

to the clerks in the departments at Washington,
to eleven customs districts, and to post-offices
where fifty or more officials were employed.
For years "practical politicians" continued to
fight the reform, but it gradually won the public
favor and had the support of later presidents,
particularly Cleveland and Roosevelt.

Another factor in the passage of the civil service
reform law was the disclosure of grave frauds
in the conduct of the postal service. A ring of
government officials, including Second Assistant
Postmaster-general Brady and Senator Dorsey
of Arkansas, had conspired with certain contrac-
tors engaged in carrying the mails in sections
of the West where there were no railroads or
steamboats. The ring managed to cheat the gov-
ernment out of several hundred thousand dollars
a year. Attention had been drawn to these " Star
Route" frauds late in Hayes's administration,
but the main disclosures were made under Gar-
field and Arthur. The business was broken up,
but unfortunately, through legal technicalities
and the political influence of the accused, the
ringleaders escaped punishment. Only one con-
viction was secured and that was of a man who
was probably least guilty.

Arthur ultimately retained only one of his
predecessor's cabinet, namely, Secretary of War
Robert T. Lincoln, son of Abraham. Elaine
gave way to Frederick T. Frelinghuysen of New
Jersey in December, 1881, and was free to push
his own political fortunes. Outside the cabinet,
Arthur retained many of Garfield's appointees,
and some of them shabbily repaid his forbearance.



HAYES, GARFIELD, AND ARTHUR 111

In 1882 a stringent law directed against polyg-
amy in Utah Territory was enacted, and some
hundreds of Mormons were convicted and sen-
tenced under it. Another measure of this ad-
ministration was the creation of the new American
navy, the Chicago, the Atlanta, the Boston, and the
Dolphin being authorized and laid down. In
1881 the centennial of the surrender of Yorktown
by the British was duly celebrated. In the same
year a great industrial exposition was held at
Atlanta, followed three years later by another
at New Orleans.

These expositions directed attention to the
rapid development of the "New South." The
rehabilitation of the states wasted by war and
negro rule had been slow, yet much had been
accomplished. Agriculture still continued to be
the chief occupation, and the annual cotton crop
under free labor greatly exceeded that "made"
before the war under slave labor. In 1880
there were upwards of four hundred coal mines,
producing one-eighth of all the coal named in
the United States. There were two hundred
iron foundries, with an annual product worth
$25,000,000. The number of spindles for spinning
cotton had increased in a decade from 417,000
to 714,000. Other industries showed rapid devel-
opment, but, best of all, a new spirit was abroad
in the South. The people were emerging from the
dark shadow of lethargy and despair into the
sunshine of hope for the future. Few regretted
the past, with its "peculiar institution." "We
admit that the sun shines as brightly and the
moon as softly as it did 'before the war,'" said



112 RECONSTRUCTION AND UNION

Henry Grady of Atlanta in a celebrated speech
delivered in 1886 before the New England Society
of New York City. "We have established thrift
in the city and country. We have fallen in love
with work. We have restored comforts to homes
from which culture and elegance never departed.
We have let economy take root and spread among
us as rank as the crab grass which sprung from
Sherman's cavalry camps, until we are ready to
lay odds on the Georgia Yankee, as he manu-
factures relics of the battlefield in a one story
shanty and squeezes pure olive oil out of his cotton
seed, against any downeaster that ever swapped
wooden nutmegs for flannel sausages in the
valley of Vermont."

Popular dissatisfaction with the existing tariff
caused congress in May, 1882, to create a tariff
commission to investigate the subject scientifically.
After due investigation and deliberation the
commission brought in a report recommending
an average reduction in tariff rates of not less
than twenty per cent. It was subsequently
the opinion of John Sherman that if the senate
finance committee had embodied in its bill the
recommendations of the tariff commission with-
out amendment the tariff question would have been
settled for years. Special interests, as has hap-
pened since, proved too strong. There were
plenty of lobbyists and members of congress
representing the grasping producer, but the great
body of consumers received little consideration.
The average reduction effected by the act of 1883
was so small as to be scarcely perceptible; on
many articles there was an actual advance.



HAYES, GARFIELD, AND ARTHUR 113

While American politicians were engaged in
unsavory struggles, American explorers were
winning laurels in the Arctic regions. In 1878
Lieutenant Schwatka of the United States navy
sailed into the frozen north in search of traces
of the lost Franklin expedition of thirty years
before. He made a wonderful sledge journey
through the region northwest of Hudson Bay,
cleared up some points concerning the fate of
the unfortunate British expedition, and made
numerous geographical discoveries. In 1879 the
Jeanette expedition was sent out by James
Gordon Bennett, the proprietor of the New
York Herald. The Jeanette, commanded by
Captain De Long, sailed from San Francisco
(July 8, 1879), passed through Behring Straits,
and after a long battle with the Arctic ice was
ultimately crushed (June 11, 1881). Many of the
crew, including De Long, perished near the mouth
of the Lena River in Siberia.

Before news of this disaster reached the United
States, Lieutenant A. W. Greely of the army
led an expedition of twenty-two officers and sol-
diers and two Esquimos to the region of northern
Greenland in order to co-operate in an interna-
tional movement for the establishment of cir-
cumpolar stations for the collection of magnetic
and meteorological data. A detachment under
Second Lieutenant Lockwood attained 83 24'
North, the highest latitude that had been reached
by civilized man. Expeditions sent out in 1882
and 1883 to relieve Greely's party failed miser-
ably, but on June 22, 1884, a party under Com-
mander Winfield S. Schley found the wretched



114 RECONSTRUCTION AND UNION

survivors on the desolate shore near Cape Sabine.
Only seven men, including Greely, remained
alive, and one of these died on the way home.
They had been in a state of semi-starvation for
months and had been reduced to the desperate
expedient of cannibalism. Tragic as was the out-
come of the Greely and Jeanette expeditions,
they inspired other Americans to engage in Arctic
exploration and were doubtless instrumental in
producing the grand consummation of all Arctic
exploration, when, on April 6, 1909, Commander
Robert E. Peary, after more than twenty years of
heroic effort, at last "nailed the Stars and Stripes
to the North Pole."

President Arthur desired to be the standard-
bearer of his party in 1884, and had it not been
for the popularity of Elaine, would probably have
succeeded in his ambition. The " Plumed Knight "
hesitated to seek the nomination, for he feared
that, if nominated, he could not carry New York.
He was resolved, however, that Arthur should not
receive the prize, and, in casting about for another
candidate, hit upon General Sherman. But the
sad experience of his friend Grant had not been
lost on the old general. He wrote: "I would
account myself a fool, a madman, an ass, to embark
anew, at sixty-five years of age, in a career that
may become at any moment tempest- tossed."
Ultimately Blaine became a candidate. Arthur,
Edmunds, John Sherman, and John A. Logan
of Illinois also had folio wings.

When the convention assembled in Chicago
(June 3), it included a number of persons who were
to be famous in the future. William McKinley



HAYES, GARFIELD, AND ARTHUR 115

and Marcus A. Hanna were members of the Ohio
delegation, Benjamin Harrison of that from
Indiana, and young Theodore Roosevelt of that
from New York. Roosevelt, Senator Hoar, r
George William Curtis, Andrew D. White, and
other reformers sought strenuously to defeat
Blaine, for many of them believed that he had .
prostituted official position for pecuniary gain. |
It was all in vain. Blaine led on the first ballot,
and on the fourth was nominated, largely as
a result of support given by the Logan dele-
gates. Logan was then nominated for the vice-
presidency.

The selection of Blaine produced a schism in
the party. Blaine had no use for reformers, hav-
ing written of them: "They are noisy, but not
numerous; pharisaical, but not practical; ambi-
tious, but not wise; pretentious, but not power-
ful." The reformers had an even worse opinion
of Blaine. Many Republican papers, including
the New York Times and Evening Post, the
Boston Herald and Advertiser, and the Spring-
field Republican, announced that they would not
support the candidate. George William Curtis,
Carl Schurz, Henry Ward Beecher, George Tick-
nor Curtis, and many other individuals took a
like stand. A conference of Independents, held
in New York City on June 16th, declared that
Blaine and Logan "were named in absolute dis-
regard of the reform sentiment of the nation,"
and represent "political methods and principles
to which we are unalterably opposed. . . . We
look with solicitude to the coming nominations by
the Democratic party; they have the proper men;



116 RECONSTRUCTION AND UNION

we hope they will put them before the people."
Thus originated what were known as the "Mug-
wumps," a name coined some years before by the
Indianapolis Sentinel but now applied by the New
York Sun.

It was almost certain that the Democratic
candidate would be a man whom the Mugwumps
would support. Back in the year 1837 there had
been born into the family of a Presbyterian
clergyman living at Caldwell, New Jersey, a
child who was christened Stephen Grover Cleve-
land. When Grover was four years old, the Cleve-
lands removed to Fayetteville, New York. The
lad worked for a pittance in a general store, but
managed to secure an education, and for a time
taught in an institution for the blind. In 1855
he started for the West, but decided to stop at
Buffalo, where he worked hi a law office and
studied law. In 1863 he was elected assistant
district attorney of Erie County, and in 1870
sheriff. In 1881 a combination of Democrats
and Independents chose him mayor of Buffalo,
hi which position he displayed stubborn honesty,
governing the city upon business rather than po-
litical lines. The following year he received the
Democratic nomination for governor of New
York. His reform record and Republican dis-
sensions brought about his election by the un-
precedented majority of 192,854. Honesty,
efficiency, and democratic simplicity were the
keynotes of his administration, and men loved
him "for the enemies he had made." When
the Democratic convention met in Chicago, he
was nominated on the second ballot, with



HAYES, GARFIELD, AND ARTHUR 117

Thomas A. Hendricks of Indiana as his running
mate.

The campaign of 1884 was one of the bitterest
on record. The Democrats made much of Re-


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Online LibraryPaul Leland HaworthReconstruction and union, 1865-1912 → online text (page 7 of 20)