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I have sometimes thought that in the evening of my days
in the sweetness of leisure I might be able for the benefit


of dear and long- cherished friends lu put lugciher a
snug volume of personal recollections concerning the
men whom I have met, and perhaps edit and publish
some of their characteristic letters among a considerable
number that were once held to be worthy of preservation.
Pleasant dreams of this kind now I fear must be shoved
aside for the higher duties to which you have assigned

The Senator then discussed the growth of the country
since his first election to Congress in 1854, saying:
"Our population in 1854 w^as 27,000,000 and is now
72,000,000. The House of Representatives then had
227 members and now 357. Railroads in operation were
then 19,195 miles and 180,000 in 1896. Having then
thirty- one stars on our flag representing thirty-one
States, we now have forty-five. The money in circula-
tion per capita, in 1860, was $13,25 and $22.05 October
1, 1896. The total coin, bullion, and other money in
the United States and in the Treasury in 1860 was
$442,102,477 and in 1896, was $2,345,631,328. The
product of silver in the whole world in 1854 was only
$40,000,000 but in 1895 it was $216,000,000 and in the
United States in 1854 only $50,000. The total indi-
vidual wealth in 1850 was $16,000,000,000 which, in
spite of the boundless destruction, North and South, by
the War of the Rebellion had in 1890 increased to
$65,000,000,000." Allusion was also made to the tariff
and the currency.

As Senator Morrill grew older the birthday receptions
which it had been his custom for many years to give be-
came more and more popular. They were attended by


nearly all of official Washington and were sometimes
graced by the presence of the President of the United
States. Poems were often read on these occasions and
on his eighty-sixth birthday anniversary, the Rev. Dr.
Byron Sunderland contributed the following verse:

"Most Honored Friend: —

'Tis marvelous done,

Today the chariot of the circling sun.

With burnished wheel and grandly waving plume.

With garlands fresh from friendship's sweet perfume,

Hath passed at eighty-six,
The natal day. How far away it seems,
Yet the long vista of man's brightened dreams
So well fulfilled, so truly, bravely fought.
So well fulfilled, so truly, bravely fraught
With patriotic deeds and lofty purpose wrought

We to thy name affix.
Greeting and joy, this favored hour be thine,
Vermont and all America combine
To hail thee Nestor of the Senate bar
And proudly gaze on thy unclouded star

Which even yet doth wax.
Oh, rare the fate which comes to mortal man,
Such fate as thou dost show to us again,
To be so full of life and aptitude.
As 'twere some fair elixir hath renewed

The strength our burdens tax.
Well may thy friends assemble here to bless
Both thee and thine in this great happiness ;
For what is past of life for thee hath sped

josiAii (;r()LT

Born in Compion. Que, May 28, 1841, removing to \'rr-
mont in 1848. He walked more than forty miles to enlist
in a Vermont regiment in the fall of 1861. He took part
in many battles as a member of the First Vermont Cavalry
and following the St. Albans Raid was appointed Major of
a regiment guarding the northern frontier. He practiced
law in V ermont and later in Illinois, where he was also engaged
in manufacturing. Returning to Derby, Vt., he was elected
to both branches of the Legislature, serv'ing as Speaker in
1886 and 1888. He was elected Governor in 1896.

i^'{9 - ^L^^f^^



With golden feet and sure and dauntless tread,

With eons gone to blend,
And what's to come for thee and thine we leave
To Him who beareth all that joy or grief.
May all the guerdon that hath filled thy years
Be doubled now as in our smiles and tears

We all salute thee, friend.

The Presidential vote by counties in 1896 was as
follows :


Addison 4,134

Bennington . . . 3,086

Caledonia .... 3,474

Chittenden . . . 4,743

Essex 873

Franklin 3,444

Grand Isle .... 426

Lamoille 2,061

Orange 3,067

Orleans 3,412

Rutland 6,794

Washington . . 4,476

Windham .... 4,829

Windsor 6,128































































, ,





Total .... 51,127 10,179 1,331 733 461 16

McKinley's majority was 38,407. V^ermont gave him
80 per cent of the entire vote, by far the largest per-
centage of any State.

Vermont's Presidential Electors were Marsh O. Per-
kins of Windsor, L. Bart Cross of Montpelier, Frank

256 HlSTOR\' ()1< VERMONT

D. White of Rutland and Henry C. Bates of St.
Johns bury.

Wheelock G. Veazey of Rutland having resigned as
member of the Interstate Commerce Commission, Presi-
dent Cleveland, on December 14, 1896, appointed Charles
A. Prouty of Newport to fill the vacancy. Mr. Prouty
was born at Newport, October 9, 1853. He was edu-
cated at Derby Academy, and graduated from Dart-
mouth College in 1875, at the head of his class. He
assisted Prof. S. P. Langley at the Allegheny Observa-
tory at Pittsburg, Pa., for a year, but ill health com-
pelled him to abandon this work. Later he studied law
and was admitted to the bar in 1877. He taught school
for several years, and returning to the practice of his
profession he became one of the leading attorneys in the
State, being engaged at various times as counsel for
the Central Vermont and Rutland Railroads, lie was
State's Attorney for Orleans county from 1882 to 1886.
In 1888 he represented Newport in the Legislature.
From 1888 to 1896 he was Reporter of Decisions for the
Supreme Court. In 1896 he was delegate to the Repub-
lican National Convention. As Interstate Commerce
Conmiissioner he became a prominent figure, delivering
numerous addresses and writing articles. He was
chairman of the commission, 1912-13, and resigned,
February 3, 1914, to accept the position of Director of
Valuation for the Commission. He was appointed
Director of the Division of Public Service and Account-
ing on the staff of the Railroad Administration in Feb-
ruarv, ^^8. He died luly 8, 1921.


Vermont having borne a prominent part in the nomi-
nation and election of William McKinley, also partici-
pated in his inauguration. State headquarters were
established at the Arlington Hotel, where rooms were
engaged for Governor Grout and his party. On the
evening of March 3 a reception was given by Senator
and Mrs. Proctor to visiting and resident Vermonters.
Permission had been granted for the erection of a Ver-
mont reviewing stand, no other State having been given
such a privilege. The front of the stand was covered
with evergreens, flags and bunting, and Vermont pines,
and the State flag on a forty- foot pole towered above it.
Portraits of McKinley and Hobart and a shield bearing
the State Seal were used as decorations. Two banners
bore the inscriptions, 'A^ermont Gave McKinley 80 Per
Cent of Its Entire Vote. No Other State Gave Him
Over 69 Per Cent," and "Protection and Sound Money."

For the first time members of the »State militia par-
ticipated in the inaugural parade, including Company A
of Rutland, 50 men, Company K of Bennington, 50 men,
and Company M of Burlington, 75 men. Governor
Grout commanded the Third Brigade of the Second
Division. He was mounted on a milk white horse and
members of his staff rode black horses. The attendance
of the militia was made possible by the liberality of pub-
lic spirited citizens, including President W. Seward
Webb of the Wagner Palace Car Company, who ten-
dered the use of a train of sleeping cars. Gen. O. O.
Howard commanded the Third Division. Members of
the \"ermont McKinley Club attended the ceremonies.
Two former Vermonters, Col. Myron M. Parker and


Henry A. Willard, a prominent hotel proprietor of
Washington, were members of the Inaugural Executive

President and Mrs. McKinley spent their summer
vacation in 1897 at Bluff Point, near Plattsburg, N. Y.,
on Lake Champlain, and made several visits to Vermont
during the month of August. On August 5, a few days
after his arrival at Bluff Point, President McKinley and
party came to Burlington on the steamer Maqitam as the
guests of Col. LeGrand B. Cannon. The President was
accompanied by Vice President Hobart, Secretary of
War Alger, P^rivate Secretary Porter, Senator Proctor
and Governor Grout, and the members of the party were
escorted to "Overlake," Colonel Cannon's home, by
Troop F, Third U. S. Cavalry. Mrs. L. C. Clarke,
Colonel Cannon's daughter, entertained Mrs. McKinley,
Mrs. Hobart, Mrs. Alger, Miss Alger, Mrs. Porter, and
others. In the afternoon the members of the Presi-
dential party were driven to Fort Ethan Allen, where
a reception was tendered by Gen. and Mrs. Guy V. Henry
and the President reviewed the troops. The parly re-
turned to Plattsburg on the steamer Vermont.

The President's second visit to Vermont was as the
guest of the Vermont Fish and Game League, its meeting
being held at the home of Lieutenant Governor Fisk at
Isle La Motte, the following day, on August 6. The
Presidential party were entertained at luncheon at the
Fisk homestead. The banquet was served in a great tent
to nearly eight hundred people. Capt. In-ank L. Greene
was the toastmaster and introduced President McKinley,
who spoke briefly.


The President came to Burlington again on August 9,
as the guest of Ex-Governor Woodbury, crossing the
lake on the yacht Washita, owned by Col. Henry W. Put-
nam, Jr., of New York. The guests included Vice Presi-
dent Hobart, Whitelaw Reid, editor of the Neiv York
Tribune, Ex-Senator George F. Edmunds, Ex-Senator
Warner Miller, Private vSecretary Porter, and several
well known Vermonters. The ladies of the Presidential
party were entertained on board the yacht.

President McKinley visited the village of Proctor on
August 12, being met at Burlington by Senator Proctor
and President Percival W. Clement of the Rutland Rail-
road Company, who escorted the distinguished guests on
a special train. The President was cordially greeted
along the route. At Proctor the visitors were given
an enthusiastic welcome. In the evening several thou-
sand people assembled on the lawn in front of the Sena-
tor's residence. The grounds were illuminated by elec-
tricity, colored lights being used in patriotic designs.
The President spoke briefly. President and Mrs.
McKinley were guests at Senator Proctor's home, Vice
President and Mrs. Hobart at President Clement's home,
and Secretary and Mrs. Alger at the residence of Col.
F. D. Proctor.

On the following day the Presidential party visited
Chester, where the Vermont National Guard was en-
camped. The guests were driven from Proctor to Rut-
land, passing through the principal streets of the Marble
City. A special train conveyed the visitors to Chester,
where President and Mrs. McKinley, Vice President and
Mrs. Hobart and son, Secretary of War and Mrs. Alger,


Ex-Governor Woodbury, Dr. W. Seward Webb, Senator
and Mrs. Proctor and Col. F. D. Proctor were guests
at the home of Hugh Henry. At the camp ground more
than twenty thousand people had assembled. A Presi-
dential salute of twenty-one guns was fired, and the
militia were reviewed by President McKinley, Vice Pres-
ident Hobart, Secretary of War Alger, Governor Grout,
and Senators Morrill and Proctor. A reception at Gov-
ernor Grout's headquarters followed the review.

Col. Henry W. Putnam, Jr., on August 17, enter-
tained at his summer home on Birch Island, in the town
of Charlotte, President and Mrs. McKinley, Vice Presi-
dent and Mrs. Hobart, Secretary of War and Mrs. Alger
and Secretary of the Interior Cornelius N. Bliss. A
trip through Lake Champlain on the yacht Washita
ended the series of Presidential visits to Vermont.

A Vermont Development Association was organized.
September 28, 1897, with Ex-Gov. Carroll S. Page of
Hyde Park as its president.

An invitation extended by Governor Taylor of Ten-
nessee to Governor Grout of Vermont, inviting him and
his fellow Vermonters to visit the Nashville Exposition,
was accepted and on October 13, 1897, a special train
left Jersey City, N. J., carrying a party of sixty-five.
Stops were made at Gettysburg, Pa., Richmond, Va.,
Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge and Lookout Moun-
tain. Monday, October 17, was observed as Vermont
Day. Governor Taylor delivered a cordial address of
welcome and Governor Grout responded in a speech of
congratulation. Commissioner A. J. Croft of Enosburg


Falls for several months superintended an exhibit of
Vermont's marble products at this exposition.

Senator Proctor was appointed a member of the Com-
mittee on Agriculture in 1893, and in 1896 he was made
its chairman, holding this position until his death, in
1908. Agriculture was a subject in which his State was
particularly interested, and Senator Proctor declined
other chairmanships, considered more important, to con-
tinue his work for the great farming interests of the
Nation. Secretary James Wilson, head of the Depart-
ment of Agriculture for twelve years, once said that he
owed more to Senator Proctor than to any other man for
the success he had achieved in the building up of his

One of the difficult problems which the McKinley ad-
ministration had to consider during its first year in
office was the condition of affairs in Cuba, where the
native people were endeavoring to overthrow Spanish
rule. General Weyler, Governor and Captain-General
of Cuba, in February, 1896, had decreed that all the in-
habitants outside the towns occupied by garrisons, should
"reconcentrate themselves" at once in these garrisoned
towns. The attempt to carry out this policy resulted in
great suffering and disorder. Much American property
in Cuba was destroyed and American commerce with
the island was paralyzed. The sympathy of Americans
was with the Cubans. The Sagasta government of
Spain, in November, 1897, issued a decree granting
autonomy to Cuba, but the American Consul General at
Havana, Gen. Fitzhugh Lee, expressed his belief that
the policy would prove a failure. The Spanish situation


was rendered more acute by the blowing up of the Amer-
ican battleship Maine in Havana harbor on the night of
February 15, 1898, when two hundred and forty-six
officers and men went down to death as a result of this
explosion. The only Vermonter on board was Cadet
Jonas Hannibal Holden, a Burlington boy, who had
graduated at the head of his class in the United States
Naval Academy. At the time of the disaster he was
Captain's Clerk and Assistant Navigator, and was on
duty in Captain Sigsbee's office. As soon as the explosion
occurred he came on deck, took command of the Cap-
tain's gig, and participated in the rescue of the survivors
who were struggling in the waters of the harbor.

During this period when the policy of autonomy was
being tried in Cuba, Senator Proctor visited the island
and investigated conditions in the four western prov-
inces. Upon his return he v/as asked by his colleagues
in the Senate to tell what he had seen and on March 17.
1898, he complied with this request, in a simple, straight-
forward speech, utterly devoid of sensationalism. At
the outset he said : "My trip was entirely unofficial and
of my own motion, not suggested by anyone. The only
mention I made of it to the President was to say to him
that I contemplated such a trip and to ask him if there
was any objection to it ; to which he replied that he could
see none." Senator Proctor found conditions not un-
usual in Havana, practically the only signs of war being
the presence of soldiers. Outside Havana, however, he
found everything changed. Describing the state of
affairs he said: "It is not peace nor is it war. It is
desolation and distress, misery and starvation. Every


town and village is surrounded by a 'trocha' (trench), a
sort of rifle pit. * * * q^j^g purpose of these
trenches is to keep the reconcentrados in, as well as to
keep the insurgents out. From all the surrounding
country the people have been driven into these fortified
towns and held there to subsist as they can. They are
virtually prison yards."

Senator Proctor found ''no human life or habitation"
between the fortified towns and villages except at block-
houses guarding the railroad. He described the piti-
able conditions of the people in the concentration camps,
saying: "Torn from their homes, with foul earth, foul
air, foul water, and foul food or none, what wonder that
one-half have died and that one-quarter of the living are
so diseased that they cannot be saved. * * *
Deaths in the streets have not been uncommon. I was
told by one of our Consuls that they have been found
dead about the markets in the morning, where they had
crawled, hoping to get some stray bits of food from
the early hucksters, and that there had been cases where
they had dropped dead inside the market surrounded by

The Senator had gone to Cuba with a strong convic-
tion that the reports of starvation and suffering had
been overdrawn by correspondents of sensational news-
papers. He had seen pictures of reconcentrados which
he had thought must have been presented in order that
the worst possible showing might be made, but he said:
"I saw plenty as bad and worse." He described a hos-
pital in Havana, where "four hundred women and chil-
dren were lying on the floors in an indescribable state


of emaciation and disease, many with the scantiest cov-
ering of rags — and such rags! — sick children, naked as
they came into the world; and the conditions in other
cities are even worse." He found the political condition
to be "practically the entire Cuban population on one
side and the Spanish army and Spanish citizens on the

In closing, the Senator said: "I have endeavored to
state in not intemperate mood what I saw and heard, and
to make no argument thereon, but leave everyone to
draw his own conclusions. To me the strongest appeal
is not the barbarity practiced by Weyler nor the loss
of the Maine if our worst fears should prove true, ter-
rible as are both of these incidents, but the spectacle of a
million and a half of people, the entire native popula-
tion of Cuba, struggling for freedom and deliverance
from the worst misgovernment of which I ever had
knowledge. But whether our action ought to be in-
fluenced by any one or all these things, and, if so how
far, is another question. * * * j merely speak of
the symptoms as I saw them, but do not undertake to pre-
scribe. Such remedial steps as may be required may
safely be left to an American President and the Ameri-
can people."

Senator Proctor was not counted a great orator,
although always an effective public speaker ; but on this
occasion he had a message for which the American
people were waiting. They knew the man, had confi-
dence in him, and believed that he told the truth. His
plain and simple description was vastly more effective
than the most fervid oratory. The patience of America


had been strained to the limit of endurance over the
outrages in Cuba, and it is the judgment of his contem-
poraries that this was one of the few great speeches
that have achieved notable results, one that powerfully
influenced America to declare war upon Spain, if, in-
deed, it was not the greatest single force that precipi-
tated the conflict.

Senator Daniel of Virginia said: "I have heard
many speeches in this body, but I can recall none other
which was more clearly the cause of the result that fol-
lowed." Senator Chandler of New Hampshire said:
"Cuban freedom owes much to Redfield Proctor. It
was my happy fortune to be presiding in the chair of the
Senate when he narrated in simple but powerful language
his observations in Cuba, where General Weyler's cruel-
ties were arousing the United States. This speech
precipitated our declaration of war against Spain and
was the great political act of Senator Proctor's long and
useful life."

Senator Perkins of California said of this speech:
"Those of us who heard that speech remember with what
vividness he portrayed the conditions then existing in the
island of Cuba. He did not intend at that time to de-
liver as a speech that which he had wTitten, but when
he came into the chamber he found there such a mass
of expectant and breathless auditors, the newspaper
press being also represented in the gallery and on the
floor, that he was impelled to speak. I relate that which
I know, for he told me many times that he did not intend
to make the speech, but there seemed to be such eager-
ness on the part of Senators to know and to hear him


tell what he had seen, to learn of his experiences on the
island, that he could not resist the temptation, and so
he gave us the never-to-be-forgotten story of his trip.
What the result was we all know. What would have
happened had he not visited Cuba and had he not given
us his account in plain, simple words, with no thought
of oratory or embellishment, we do not know. That
he went there to ascertain the conditions was evidence of
his bravery. That he gave the world what he had gained
was evidence of his patriotism and public spirit."

Senator Clay of Georgia declared that "after the de-
livery of that most remarkable speech there was no
longer any doubt that Spanish rule must come to an end
in Cuba. The United States shortly afterward declared
war against Spain, which resulted in establishing Cuban
independence. Impartial history has recorded the fact
that Senator Proctor did more than any other public
man to arouse public sentiment against Spanish rule in
Cuba and in favor of Cuban independence and self gov-
ernment. His powerful speech describing the sufferings
of the people of Cuba aroused the conscience of the
American people, resulting in a declaration of war
against the government of Spain, which necessarily re-
sulted in banishing from Cuba Spanish rule. * * *
The good work he accomplished for the suffering and
oppressed people has given him a fame which will never
perish. All lovers of justice and liberty will continue to
sing his praise."

Senator Dillingham, his colleague, has said : "When,
upon his return, he gave to the Senate a cold, bare, plain
statement of what he had seen and what he had learned,


unaccompanied either by argument or recommendation,
he did it with such gravity and such impressiveness that
the facts stated burned themselves into the minds of
every Senator present, and being heralded by the press,
roused the Nation to action." Senator Frye of Maine
declared, after the speech had been delivered: "It is
just as if Proctor had held up his hand and sworn to it."
Senator Cullom of Illinois said: "Senator Proctor told
the story of Cuban suffering fully but with a gentle-
ness that under the circumstances was wonderful and in
almost any other man than the judicial minded Senator
from Vermont would have been impossible." Former
President Benjamin Harrison said that the speech
"aroused the Nation, and yet there was not a lurid ad-
jective in it." Dwight L. Moody, the famous evangelist,
began a great religious meeting in Madison Square Gar-
den, New York, by reading Senator Proctor's speech in
full instead of the usual Scripture lesson. Then, paus-
ing, he said, "I want every man and woman here to read
that speech."

In a speech delivered in Vermont in 1901 Colonel
Roosevelt said: "I knew that when Senator Proctor
made that speech (on conditions in Cuba) with his in-
fluence, there could be but one possible outcome, and the
next morning I started to find the quickest way to get
to the front."

President McKinley endeavored in every honorable
way to prevent war, but a succession of events and the
growing indignation of the American people over Cuban
atrocities made hostilities inevitable. President McKin-

Online LibraryWalter Hill CrockettVermont, the Green mountain state (Volume 4) → online text (page 18 of 43)