Paul Leland Haworth.

Reconstruction and union, 1865-1912 online

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publican extravagance and corruption, while the
Republicans invoked the peril of "the South
again in the saddle," and tried to convict the
Democrats of favoring free trade. Unable to
discover any irregularities in Cleveland's public
career, his opponents scrutinized his private life
and managed to unearth one disreputable epi-
sode, long since regretted and never repeated.
The story was spread abroad with many fanciful
additions, and an effort was made to convince
the people that Cleveland was guilty of habitual
immorality. The Democrats countered by bring-
ing to light certain alleged scandals regarding
Elaine's marriage. Such tactics nauseated all
right- thinking people, and reflected disgrace on
the whole country. The Democrats delivered a
much more legitimate and effective blow by point-
ing out flaws in Elaine's public record. His con-
nection with the Little Rock and Fort Smith
Railroad received much attention. His supporters
defended him vigorously, yet the residuum of all
the discussion was that while Elaine was "far
from being the unprincipled trickster so often
pictured, he had been less scrupulous in office
than his best admirers could have wished."

It was evident that the outcome probably
hinged upon the result in the great state of New
York, which both parties made strenuous efforts
to capture. As governor, Cleveland had antago-
nized Roman Catholics by vetoing a bill for state



aid to parochial schools, and he had also incurred
the bitter hostility of Tammany Hall. Hendricks,
the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, made
a special trip from Indianapolis to New York,
and after a long and impassioned interview with
John Kelly, the leader of Tammany, secured a
promise that Tammany would support the ticket.
Blaine, being of Irish descent and the son of a
Roman Catholic mother, had great hopes of the
Catholic vote, but he lost a part of it by a curious
accident. As the Conkling faction refused to
render any assistance, Blaine himself took the
stump in New York and went about the state
speaking to great crowds. A few days before the
election he received at the Fifth Avenue Hotel a
party of Protestant clergymen, the spokesman
of which, Dr. Samuel D. Burchard, characterized
the Democrats as "the party of Rum, Romanism,
and Rebellion." Blaine failed to notice the
indiscreet utterance or at least to rebuke it, and
the alliterative phrase was caught up and spread
broadcast by the Democratic press.

The election proved unusually close. Cleve-
land carried every Southern state, besides Con-
necticut, New Jersey, and Indiana. Everything
depended upon New York. For two weeks the
outcome was uncertain; excitement was intense.
Democrats professed to fear that the "Crime of
1876" would be repeated in some other form.
In New York City a mob threatened to hang
Jay Gould, the notorious railroad wrecker, whom
they accused of a conspiracy to withhold and alter
election returns. Violent scenes occurred in
other cities. But at last the long agony was over.


The official count, completed on the 14th of No-
vember, gave Cleveland a plurality of 1,149
votes in the state and the presidency.

The Plumed Knight's lance was shattered in
his grasp, and the victory was given to the new-
comer in the national lists, the Man of Destiny
from New York.



ON the 4th of March, 1885, a great throng
gathered before the east front of the Capitol to
witness the inauguration of the first Democratic
president since Buchanan. Southerners were
present in much larger numbers than had long
been customary on such occasions, and mingled
with the crowd were "not a few gaunt figures
of an old-time quaintness, intense and fanatical
partisans from remote localities, displaying with
a sort of pride the long white beards which, years
before, they had vowed never to shave until a
Democratic president should be inaugurated."
When Cleveland took the oath of office from
Chief-justice Waite, the assembled clans exulted
in the thought that after weary years of waiting
they had at last passed out of the Wilderness into
the Promised Land.

Republicans had indulged in gloomy prophecies
regarding the make-up of Cleveland's cabinet;
some simple souls had even feared that the results
of the war would be undone and the negroes re-
enslaved. Cleveland quickly confounded all
such absurd predictions. His selection for secre-
tary of state was Senator Thomas F. Bayard,
of a justly famous Delaware family that for five


generations had been distinguished in national
affairs. The secretary of war, William C.
Endicott, the secretary of the navy, William C.
Whitney, the secretary of the treasury, Daniel
Manning, and the postmaster-general, William
F. Vilas, were all Northern men of fair abilities,
and Vilas had been a Union soldier. Only two
members were from the South Senator L. Q. C.
Lamar, the secretary of the interior, from Mis-
sissippi, and Senator Augustus H. Garland, the
attorney-general, from Arkansas. Both had been
active Confederates, but were now patriotic
Americans. Lamar, a scholarly, liberal-minded
man, had won high encomiums in the North by
a sympathetic oration delivered at the obsequies
in honor of Charles Sumner.

The pressure upon the new president for posi-
tions was tremendous. Democratic spoilsmen
hoped that he would make a clean sweep. As
practically every one of some 110,000 offices was
in the hands of a Republican, the temptation for
wholesale removals was great. But Cleveland
had publicly committed himself to civil service
reform. Certain high offices whose incumbents
needed to be in sympathy with his policies he
very properly intended to fill with Democrats.
He also declared that he meant to remove " offen-
sive partizans and unscrupulous manipulators
of local party management." Such officers had
often used post-offices and other government
buildings as headquarters for political work and
for the display of "disgusting and irritating
placards." Cleveland's policy regarding other
offices was gradually to extend the civil service


rules, and as vacancies occurred outside the classi-
fied list to fill them with efficient Democrats. He
quickly found, however, that he could not de-
pend upon the recommendations furnished by
the party leaders. It is related that when a
Democratic senator complained because the
president did not "move more expeditiously in
advancing the principles of Democracy," Cleve-
land flashed back: "Ah, I suppose you mean that
I should appoint two horse-thieves a day instead
of one." Such a Mugwump policy was disap-
pointing to men who had expected to see Cleve-
land put in practice "the good old Democratic
doctrine" of Andrew Jackson. A North Carolina
senator expressed his dissatisfaction by telling
the story of an old farmer who left a small estate
to his two sons. Settlement of the estate was so
protracted by the court that in disgust the elder
son broke out: "Durned if I ain't almost sorry
the old man died."

Extreme advocates of civil service reform,
men who desired "the millennium right away,"
were almost equally dissatisfied. Constant drip-
ping will wear away the hardest stone. Being
forced every day to fight anew the patronage
battle with leaders of his party, Cleveland re-
laxed somewhat. Some of his subordinates inter-
preted the phrase "offensive partizanship " very
liberally, and in the end there was almost a clean
sweep. The worst state of affairs existed in the
post-office department, and the "axe" of Adlai
E. Stevenson of Illinois, the first assistant post-
master-general, became famous. The heads of
thousands of postmasters fell into the basket.


On the other hand, Cleveland enforced the law
against the political assessment of office-holders
and increased the classified service to 27,380
places. On the whole, civil service reform gained
under his administration. Years later, in speak-
ing of this time, Cleveland said feelingly: "You
know the things in which I yielded, but no one
save myself can ever know the things which I

The suspension of officers resulted in a clash
between the president and the senate. In an
effort to embarrass Cleveland, the Republican
majority in the senate passed a resolution (Jan-
uary 25, 1886) directing the attorney-general to
transmit copies of all papers relating to the
suspension of the Federal district attorney for
the southern district of Alabama. By direction
of the president, Garland refused, and in a special
message Cleveland flatly denied the senate's
right to ask for such papers. The senate censured
Garland, and showed a disposition to withhold
the confirmation of appointments. In the end,
however, it receded and repealed what remained
of the Tenure of Office Act.

At no time during Cleveland's first term did
the Democrats control both houses of congress;
hence the enaction of legislation along purely
party lines proved impossible. However, a num-
ber of important acts of a non-partisan character
passed congress and received the president's
signature. One of these dealt with the presiden-
tial succession. Vice-president Hendricks died
a fortnight before the meeting of the first congress
under Cleveland, and, as the senate had failed to


elect a president pro tempore, there existed no
constitutional successor to the presidential office
in case Cleveland should die before congress
assembled. The possibility of such a lapse had
long been pointed out, but congress was aroused
at last to the desirability of providing against it.
On January 18, 1886, a bill became a law which
fixed the line of succession thus: the vice-presi-
dent, the secretaries of state, treasury, war,
the attorney-general, the secretary of the navy,
and the secretary of the ulterior.

A year later congress enacted another law that
was designed to remedy another constitutional
defect. As early as 1800 an attempt had been
made to regulate more definitely the manner of
counting the electoral votes, but it and all subse-
quent attempts had failed. Even the perilous
experience of the disputed election had not brought
about the desired legislation. The act that now
became a law provides that each state shall
finally determine every contest connected with
the choice of its electors. Where such a deter-
mination has been made, it must be accepted;
but, in case of a conflict of tribunals, that return
is to be counted which the two houses concur in
receiving. In case they cannot concur, that
return is to be received which is certified by the
executive of the state. Unfortunately even this
law is defective in some respects and leaves loop-
holes for future disputes.

A measure that has proved of far greater prac-
tical importance than either of the acts just de-
scribed was the Interstate Commerce Act. The
railroads had failed to take warning from the


"Granger laws," and gross abuses continued in
railway management. Not only did the companies
often charge excessive rates, but they also failed
to demand the same rate from different shippers,
thereby helping to create gigantic business com-
binations that sought to throttle competition.

The most famous instance of a corporation
thus fostered was the Standard Oil Company.
About the year 1862 two brothers, John D. and
William Rockefeller, and an Englishman named
Samuel Andrews entered into a partnership at
Cleveland for the refining of petroleum, then
a comparatively new industry. For years the
farmers of northwestern Pennsylvania had known
and used in crude form a kind of "rock oil" that
was found floating on the surface of streams and
ponds. It was first used chiefly as a liniment,
and in bottled form, called "Seneca Oil," "Keer's
Oil," etc., was sold all over the United States.
Presently its inflammable character attracted
attention, and in 1859 its production was begun
on a larger scale. The oil region soon became
one of wild speculation, and the industry expanded
wonderfully. The Rockefeller-Andrews partner-
ship prospered with it, developing about 1870
into what was known as the Standard Oil Com-
pany, and still later (1882) as the Standard Oil

Not content with ordinary profits, the Rocke-
fellers and eleven others formed a South Improve-
ment Company, which entered into a secret
agreement with the oil-carrying railroads to the
effect that the railroads should carry the com-
pany's oil at a much lower rate than that of


competing companies and should help in other
ways to crush out competitors. The signers on
the part of the railroads were Jay Gould, Thomas
A. Scott, and William H. Vanderbilt. As a
result of the agreement, most independent pro-
ducers were forced to the hard alternative of
giving up their business altogether or of selling
out at a low price to the South Improvement
Company. Many men were rendered bankrupt;
"the annals of this time show a black record of
rum, despair, and suicide." Efforts to bring the
conspirators to justice failed because of the skill
of their lawyers or the easy virtue of public
officials. Public opinion was so aroused that
ostensibly the contract between the railroads and
the South Improvement Company was canceled,
though freight discrimination was continued as
before. By 1877 the Standard Oil Company
controlled 95 per cent of all the oil refined in the
United States, and could raise or lower prices at

The case of the Standard Oil Company is illus-
trative of what was happening in many other
industries, such as cottonseed oil, lead, whiskey,
cordage, and sugar. Trust defenders urged the
advantages gained through economies in large-scale
production, improved machinery, etc.; but the
tendency of an article to rise in price after it had
"gone into a trust" made the people sceptical as
to trust benefits to the general public.

It was seen that one of the chief factors in the
creation of trusts and monopolies was the system
of railroad rebates to favored shippers, and a
demand developed for Federal legislation. As


early as 1876 Representative Hopkins of Penn-
sylvania asked for a house committee to conduct
an investigation of the charges against the rail-
roads with a view to reporting a bill for the cor-
rection of the evils. Through the opposition of
Henry B. Payne of Ohio and other friends of
Standard Oil and similar companies the matter
was finally referred to the committee on com-
merce. This committee began an investigation
which was never completed; even the evidence
that had been taken was stolen.

After the lapse of a decade, in the course of
which other abortive attempts were made, a
conference committee finally reported a bill
(December, 1886) providing for the appointment
of a commission of five members with power to
investigate the management of railways engaged
in interstate commerce and to denounce unjust
rates. The bill forbade rebates, the imposition
of a greater charge for a "short haul" than for
a "long haul," and the "pooling" of freight
revenues by competing railway lines. Railway
attorneys both hi and out of congress opposed
the bill, and expressed great concern lest the
proposed act might prove unconstitutional. But
public sentiment was deeply roused. The bill
passed both houses and became a law by the
signature of the president (January 21, 1887).
Unfortunately the commission was not granted
sufficient powers, and its work was too often
circumscribed by jealous if not corrupt courts.
In circumventing the law corporation and rail-
way managers displayed a Machiavellian ingenu-
ity that was only equaled by their dishonesty.


Secret rebates, "gentlemen's agreements," etc. con-
tinued to be great evils.

The president and congress were often at odds;
they clashed most frequently over pension legis-
lation. The policy of granting liberal pensions to
Civil War veterans had been early inaugurated,
and though the policy in general was laudable,
gross abuses had crept in. By 1885 the pen-
sioners numbered 345,125, receiving annually
$65,171,937. Among this number were many men
who had never heard the whistle of a hostile bul-
let, or who had actually deserted from the service;
men who had been dishonorably discharged,
others who had been accidentally injured while
drunk, even malingerers who had maimed their
own hands to escape fighting all managed to
find a place on the pension list.

Applicants whose claims were rejected by the
pension office were in the habit of embodying
their claims in special pension bills that were
presented to congress. In a single sitting the
senate once passed five hundred such bills, of
course without due consideration of their merits,
no one caring or daring to oppose them. Presi-
dent Cleveland made a careful study of the sub-
ject and came to the conclusion that the system
constituted a great abuse. In all he vetoed 233
of the worst of such bills, writing on one occasion
that "we are dealing with pensions, not with
gratuities." In February, 1887, he also vetoed
a general dependent pension bill.

By these vetoes Cleveland roused great wrath
among undiscriminating veterans, and his oppo-
nents did their best to fan the flame. The old


soldier was pressed into service as a pawn in the ,
political game. Cleveland was denounced as
an enemy to "veterans"; it was said that his
policy was dictated by a desire to please "Rebels."
The fact that the president had hired a substitute
instead of enlisting hi person was harped upon
whenever possible.

While such criticism was at its height the presi-
dent, with the best of intentions, blunderingly
gave still greater offense. In the custody of the
war department there were a number of Con-
federate and recaptured Union flags which the
adjutant-general suggested should be returned
to the respective states in which the regiments
bearing them had been organized. The president
approved the plan, meaning it no doubt in the
spirit of Charles Summer's bill of years before to
the effect that "the names of battles with fel-
low-citizens shall not be continued in the Army
Register, or placed on the regimental colors of
the United States." But the " Rebel Flag Order "
created a tremendous uproar throughout the
North. Scores of Grand Army posts passed
resolutions denouncing the act. The "Rebel
Sympathizer" was deluged with threats of per-
sonal violence. Still Cleveland would probably
have persevered in his purpose had it not been
discovered that the flags could not be returned
without authorization from congress. Eighteen
years later a Republican president returned the
flags without exciting a ripple of protest.

The year 1886 was notable for serious labor
troubles similar to those of 1877. Strikes occurred
in all parts of the country, the greatest centering


in St. Louis and Chicago. In Chicago the strike
spread until tens of thousands of laborers were idle.
Conditions were aggravated by a knot of desperate
anarchists, mostly of foreign birth. On the night
of the 4th of May, while the police were attempting
to disperse a mass meeting in Haymarket Square,
a bomb was hurled into their ranks mortally
wounding seven and injuring many others. Seven
anarchists were subsequently sentenced to death
for inciting the outrage, and four were executed.
One of the condemned men committed suicide,
while two had their sentences commuted to im-
prisonment for life. Some years later both were
fully pardoned by Governor Altgeld. An eighth
anarchist, who had been sentenced to fifteen years'
imprisonment, was also pardoned at the same

Among the forces active in this period of labor
troubles were the Knights of Labor. This organ-
ization was founded in Philadelphia in 1869 by
certain garment cutters who hoped to unite all
wage-earners into one great body irrespective of
sex, color, creed, or nationality. By 1881 the
order had grown until its membership was upwards
of a million. Its program included the securing
of an eight-hour day, protective legislation in
behalf of laborers engaged in dangerous occupa-
tions, employers' liability laws, the single tax on
land, and the establishment of government labor
bureaus. The Knights did not form an inde-
pendent political party, but endeavored to throw
their strength to the party that would promise
most to Jabor. The failure of the Missouri
Pacific strike in this year weakened the order,


as did the sympathy shown by some of its mem-
bers for the Chicago anarchists. As the order
declined, its place was more or less taken by
the great American Federation of Labor. The
Federation was composed of already existing
unions, and has endeavored in the main to avoid
political complications. The methods of these
orders have not always been above criticism, but,
in view of the great concentration of capital, they
seem essential for the protection of the interests of
labor. Particularly praiseworthy has been their
work in securing legislation restricting the labor
of women and children.

President Cleveland believed that many of the
economic evils of the day were due to the protec-
tive tariff, which remained at practically the high
point reached during the Civil War. He believed
that the laboring man did not obtain his share of
the profits due to the tax, and, furthermore, he
feared that the surplus in the treasury, estimated
for the coming year at $140,000,000, was bad for
business because it rendered idle too large a part
of the nation's circulating medium. With a
boldness that did him honor, he determined to
devote all of his regular message of December,
1887, to the need of tariff reform. His friends
were aghast at the proposal. They said that
such a step would rouse the wrath of powerful
interests and would result in the loss of the next
election. But Cleveland said: "It is more im-
portant to the country that this message should
be delivered to Congress and the people than that
I should be re-elected president." "It is a con-
dition which confronts us, not a theory," he said


in the message, and he recommended a reduction
of the duties on raw materials and especially upon
raw wool.

The president was right in believing that the
tariff needed reduction, but the people were not
yet educated to the step. The Republicans
gleefully snatched up the gage that had been
thrown down and raised the alarm cry of "Free
Trade and the destruction of American indus-
tries." When the Democratic house passed the
Mills Bill providing for lower tariff duties, the
Republican senate declined to accept it, and
ultimately retorted with a bill that increased
duties. The tariff question became the leading
issue in the campaign of 1888.

For their standard-bearers (since Elaine de-
clined to run) the Republicans selected Benjamin
Harrison of Indiana and Levi P. Morton of New
York. Harrison was a grandson of President
William Henry Harrison. He was a veteran of
the Civil War, a lawyer of high reputation, and
had served a term in the senate. The Demo-
crats renominated Cleveland, and chose for their
vice-presidential candidate Allen G. Thurman
of Ohio. Thurman had seen long service in the
senate and was one of the ablest constitutional
lawyers who ever sat in that body. He was a
sturdy old Roman, and his use of a red ban-
danna handkerchief gave a touch of color to the

Roused by the danger to their interests, the
manufacturers rallied to the Republican sup-
port, and there was no lack of funds in the cam-
paign chest. New York and Indiana were be-


lieved to be the pivotal states, and every effort
was made by both parties to carry them. The
Republicans deluged Indiana with money, and
from the treasurer of their national committee,
W. W. Dudley, emanated the advice: "Divide
the floaters into blocks of five and put a trusted
man in charge of these five, with the necessary
funds, and make him responsible that none get
away, and that all vote our ticket."

It was generally believed that corruption by
both parties was conducted on a greater scale in
this campaign than in any that preceded it. The
abuse alarmed patriotic men in both parties,
and important ballot reforms resulted. Hitherto

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Online LibraryPaul Leland HaworthReconstruction and union, 1865-1912 → online text (page 8 of 20)