Walter Hill Crockett.

Vermont, the Green mountain state (Volume 4) online

. (page 5 of 43)
Online LibraryWalter Hill CrockettVermont, the Green mountain state (Volume 4) → online text (page 5 of 43)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Edmunds, Conkling, Carpenter and Thurman. As one
surveys in retrospect the able men of the legal profession
who have adorned the Senate, one would hesitate to affirm
that, excepting Webster, Calhoun and Fessenden, greater
adepts in constitutional law have argued in that arena of
debate than Trumbull, Edmunds and Thurman."
Trumbull and Thurman opposed the Ku-Klux bill.
Edmunds reported it from the Judiciary Committee and
in closing the debate ''made a powerful legal argument
in its support." And this remarkable tribute was paid
to a man who was still a new Senator as terms of service
ordinarily are considered in that body.

Later Senator Edmunds proposed amendments to the
Colorado bill and to one admitting the Territory of
Nebraska as a State, which provided that a condition
of admission should be suffrage rights which did not
discriminate on account of race or color. In a private
letter Senator Edmunds alluded to the fact that Senator
Wade of Ohio lectured him rather roughly for the objec-
tion he had raised, saying that this course was like shak-
ing a red rag at a bull, and that there was no danger
that slavery would be established by the pc()])le of Colo-


rado. Mr. Edmunds insisted, however, and aided by
Senator Sumner and others secured the amendment he

Senator Edmunds reported, had charge of and carried
through the Civil and Political Rights Bill, passed in
1870, and the act of 1871 designed to enforce the Four-
teenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The act compelling transcontinental and western rail-
roads to repay to the United States Government bonds
which had been loaned to them during the railway con-
struction period, was framed by Senator Edmunds and
Senator Thurman of the Judiciary Committee, during
the session of 1871-72, but was reported to the Senate
by Mr. Thurman in order that the largest possible num-
ber of Democratic votes might be obtained for the
measure. Powerful railway interests endeavored by
every method at their disposal to defeat the bill, which
found in Senator Edmunds one of its strongest advo-
cates, but it was passed as reported, and the entire
amount due the Government was paid.

Senator Edmunds' committee assignments in a few
years were made more desirable. As a result of his
demonstrated legal ability he was soon assigned to the
Judiciary Committee, and a little later to the Appropria-
tions Committee. In 1871 he was chairman of the Pen-
sions Committee and in 1872 was made chairman of the
Judiciary Committee, a position which he held with
great distinction during the remainder of his service in
the Senate, with the exception of the period from 1879
to 1881, when the Democrats were in control, and his


intimate friend, Senator Thurman of Ohio, held the

In his "Men and Memories," John Russell Young, a
famous journalist, said of President Grant: "The
friends, however, whose advice had most weight with
him in doing his country splendid service, were Hamilton
Fish, Senator Edmunds of Vermont, and Mr. (George
W.) Childs. I say this upon the authority of General
Grant himself."

Early in Grant's first term he offered Senator
Edmunds the position of Judge of the Second United
States Circuit Court, comprising Vermont, Connecticut
and New York, a position which he was strongly tempted
to accept, as he liked the law. Knowing that he must
live in New York City, he made some inquiries in regard
to the rental of a small and modest house in a healthful
part of the city, and found that the rent would be six
thousand dollars, the exact amount of the salary which
he would receive. He decided, therefore, that he could
not afford to accept the office. Later during President
Grant's first term, in 1870, Senator Edmunds was asked
to accept the position of United States Minister to Great
Britain, preceding the negotiations concerning the
Alabama claims, which he felt compelled to decline on
account of the expense which acceptance of the position
would compel him to assume.

In 1870 Senator Morrill voted against ratifying the
treaty annexing San Domingo to the United States, as
did his colleague, Senator Edmunds, a measure which
President Grant ardently favored. A committee of
which Senator Pendleton (^i Ohir> was chairman re-


From Painting by Aston Knight

By courtesy of Mr. James C. Colgate

of New York Citv


^1 c-^^<? r?j>-:^^>^i f -вЦ†

J^til^w/- '^^


ported a bill giving members of the Cabinet the right
to seats on the floor of the House with the right to par-
ticipate in debate after the manner of the House of Com-
mons. Mr. Morrill opposed it in an elaborate speech,
discussing the legal, constitutional, and the practical
phases of the subject. The measure was defeated and
Senator Pendleton attributed the defeat to Mr. Morrill's
speech. Mr. Morrill believed that some record should
be made by the Senate of the electoral frauds in the
South, although he was not as radical on the subject as
many of his colleagues.

A later generation has well nigh forgotten the high
quality of statesmanship shown in both Senate and
House by Luke P. Poland. As a former Chief Judge
of the State Supreme Court, Mr. Poland naturally was
assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Rhodes,
the historian, in speaking of this committee, of which
Senator Poland was a member, quoted Senator Fessen-
den of Maine as saying that the Freedman's Bureau Bill
was "the best thought a very able committee (the Judici-
ary) has brought to bear on it.'' Senator Poland also
signed the majority report on the Ku-Klux Bill.

But it was in the House that Mr. Poland performed
his greatest public service. What was known as the
Credit Mobilier scandal grew out of alleged dishonesty
in the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad. As
Speaker Blaine was involved in the charges made, he
called to the chair one of the leading Democratic mem-
bers, S. S. Cox, and moved the appointment of an inves-
tigating committee. Mr. Cox appointed Luke P.
Poland of Vermont as chairman. This committee made


a thorough investigation and reported in favor of the
expulsion of Oakes Ames of Massachusetts and James
Brooks of New York. Rhodes says that the appoint-
ment of Poland as chairman, McCrary of Iowa and the
two Democratic members was "a guarantee that the in-
quiry would not result in a whitewashing report." In
reporting the result of the investigation, Mr. Poland
said : "This country is fast becoming filled with gigan-
tic corporations, wielding and controlling immense
aggregations of money and thereby commanding great
influence and power. It is notorious in many State
Legislatures that these influences are often controlling,
so that in eiTect they become the ruling power of the
State. Within a few years Congress has, to some ex-
tent, been brought within similar influences, and the
knowledge of the subject has brought great discredit
upon the body, far more, we believe, than there were
facts to justify. But such is the tendency of the time,
and the belief is far too general that all men can be ruled
with money, and that the use of such means to carry
public measures is legitimate and proper. No member
of Congress ought to place himself in circumstances of
suspicion so that any discredit of the body shall arise on
his account. It is of the highest importance that the
National Legislature should be free of all taint of cor-
ruption, and it is of almost equal necessity that the
people should feel confident that it is so. In a free gov-
ernment like ours we cannot expect the people will long
respect the laws, if they lose respect for the lawmakers."
Two Republican factions in 1874 disputed for the
control of the government of Arkansas. President


Grant recognized the Baxter faction and a constitutional
convention was called, which adopted a new Constitu-
tion. In October, 1874, A. H. Garland, later a member
of President Cleveland's Cabinet, was elected Governor.

In February President Grant sent a special message
to Congress in which he declared his belief that Brooks
and not Baxter had been legally elected Governor in
1872, and that the Arkansas Constitutional Convention
of 1874 had not been legally called. A House commit-
tee, of which Mr. Poland was chairman, investigated coa-
ditions in this Southern State and reported that there
was no reason for recommending interference by the
Government. Rhodes says of the Arkansas situation:
"The President took direct issue with Poland's commit-
tee and exerted his influence against the resolution.
* * * But Poland, who was a good lawyer and had
been Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of his State,
was equal to the contest and supported his resolution
in an able and convincing speech." The Poland reso-
lution was carried by a vote of 150 to 81, notwithstand-
ing President Grant's opposition. Men like Garfield,
George F. Hoar, Dawes, Kasson, Eugene Hale and Gen-
eral Hawley supported him.

Mayes, in his *Xife of L. Q. C. Lamar," quotes this
distinguished Southern statesman as saying that Poland
was ''the man who saved Arkansas." "He absolutely
put behind a lifelong ambition when he made his protest
against Grant's interference. He had for all his life
cherished the hope that he might get a certain judgeship.
Just before he made his report on Arkansas afifairs he
became aware that his ambition was about to be realized.


He knew that if he made that anti-administration report
it would crush his hopes forever. * * * j shall
never forget how the gray-haired old hero rose and spoke
that which unspoken would have realized the proudest
dream of his life.''

An administration bill gave to the President power to
suspend the Jiabeas corpus privilege in Alabama.
Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi for two years and
until the end of ''the next session of Congress there-
after." Speaker Blaine, Mr. Poland, General Garfield
and General Hawley spoke against the measure in party
caucus. It was forced through the House, but failed
in the Senate.

Judge Poland was chairman of a commission which
investigated the operations of a secret organization
known as the Ku Klux Klan, which terrorized Southern
Negroes. The report of this committee filled thirteen
volumes. His greatest work, however, was the revision
of the laws of the United States. Speaking of this task
Hon. Loren Blodgett said: "Having originated the
whole work while a member of the Senate in 1866 and
followed it as chief director in all subsequent proceed-
ings in both Houses of Congress for seven years. Judge
Poland consummated what all regarded as a great work,
which no other member of either branch could claim.
No test so severe, both as to familiarity with the ordinary
construction of the statutes and as to legal discrimina-
tir)n in regard to the intrinsic incompatability of acts
which had successively overlapped each other for nearly
a century, has at any time been applied to a committee
in Congress during an active session. Indeed, under no


circumstances and at no time has a like effort been made.
The energy and determination of the distinguished chair-
man were always conspicuous and the work was accepted
by Congress in June, 1874, without amendments. In
reviewing this revision or codification it is impossible not
to accord it a rank quite distinct from, if not higher
than, any previous work of the kind known to history."

Judge Asahel Peck, who had been on the Supreme
Court bench for fourteen years, announced in 1874 his
intention to retire and public opinion turned to him as a
suitable candidate for the Governorship. Trenor W.
Park of Bennington and Bradley Barlow of St. Albans
withdrew their names as candidates for the Republican

The Republican State Convention of 1874 adopted a
platform which declared as a cardinal doctrine of the
party, "that a currency always redeemable in coin is the
only true and safe one for the honesty and welfare of the
community as it is for the honor and good name of the
Nation." The President was thanked for his stead-
fast and active support of these principles. Water com-
munication between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic
by way of Lake Champlain was favored. Senator
Edmunds addressed the convention. Judge Peck re-
ceived 309 votes and was nominated as the party candi-
date for Governor. Votes were cast for other candi-
dates as follows: Lieut. Gov. Russell S. Taft of Bur-
lington, 125; A. L. Miner of Manchester, 66; N. T.
Sprague of Brandon, 56; W. G. Veazey of Rutland, 5.
Lyman G. Hinckley of Chelsea was nominated for Lieu-
tenant Governor over Franklin Fairbanks of St. Johns-


bury. The Democratic convention nominated W. H. H.
Bingham of Stowe for Governor.

Congressman Hendee was renominated. Charles W.
Willard's name was withdrawn as a candidate for Con-
gress and Col. Charles H. Joyce of Rutland was nomi-
nated. Luke P. Poland was renominated, receiving 82
votes, 36 being cast for Dudley C. Denison of Royalton.
25 for John B. Mead of Randolph and 5 for Hoyt H.
Wheeler of Jamaica. Some of the younger men in the
district, however, were getting restive for a change.
Opposition to Judge Poland's attitude in supporting the
"newspaper gag" and the "Salary Grab" bills were
used against him, the latter measure being very unpopu
lar at the time. The followers of Denison and Mead
withdrew from the convention and, assembling in an-
other hall, nominated Mr. Denison. There was no
choice in the election, although Denison led in the con-
test. The vote was, Denison, 7,038; Poland, 5,756:
C. N. Davenport (Dem.), 1,960: Mead, 608; scattering,
326. Before a second election was held Poland's name
was withdrawn, but he received a substantial vote,
although Mr. Denison was elected. The vote was :
Denison, 8.280; Poland, 4,111; McLane (Dem.). 1,535.
Vermont's policy of retaining able men in the Senate
for long terms of service has not been followed to the
same extent in the House.

The vote for Governor resulted as follows: Peck.
33,582; Bingham, 13,258: scattering, 21. Asahel Peck
was born at Royalston, Mass., February 6, 1803. His
father's family removed to Vermont in 1806 and the
lad was educated in the common schools and in the


Washington County Grammar School. He entered the
sophomore class of the University of Vermont in 1824,
and left college in his senior year to study French at an
educational institution in Canada. He studied law, first
with his brother Nathan at Hinesburg, and later in the
office of Bailey and Peck at Burlington. He was ad-
mitted to the bar in 1832 and after practicing alone in
Burlington he formed a partnership with Archibald
Hyde, and later was associated in the law business with
David A. Smalley. He was a Judge of the Circuit Court
of Vermont from 1851 until its abolition in 1857. In
1860 he was elected a Senator from Chittenden county.
During the same year he was elected to the Supreme
Court bench, serving continuously until 1874. He was
Governor of the State for two years and at the con-
clusion of his term he retired to his farm in Jericho,
where he resided until his death, May 18, 1879. He was
never married.

Dudley C. Denison was born at Royalton, September
13, 1819. He was graduated from the University of
Vermont in the class of 1840, studied law and was ad-
mitted to the bar in 1844. He was a Senator from
Windsor county in 1853 and 1854; State's Attorney for
the same county, 1858-60; and represented Royalton in
the Legislature, 1860-62. He was United States Dis-
trict Attorney for Vermont, 1864-69. He served two
terms in Congress. Mr. Denison died at Royalton, Feb-
ruary 11, 1905.

Charles H. Joyce was born in Andover, England, Jan-
uary 30, 1830. He came to this country with his parents
in 1836, their home being established at Waitsfield, Vt.


He worked on a farm each summer and attended district
school each winter until he was eighteen years old. He
also studied at Waitsfield and Northfield Academies and
at Newbury Seminary. His public career began with
three terms as page in the House of Representatives.
He taught school while pursuing the study of law with
F. F. Merrill of Montpelier and Col. F. \^ Randall of
Northfield. He was admitted to the bar in 1852 and
began the practice of law at Northfield in 1855. He re-
moved to Rutland county in 1855. In 1856 and again in
1857, he was elected State's Attorney of that county.
He was appointed Major of the Second Vermont Volun-
teers in 1861 and was promoted to the rank of Lieu-
tenant Colonel. He was compelled to resign early in
1863 on account of ill health, and opened an office in
Rutland for the practice of law. He represented Rut-
land in the Legislature in 1869 and 1870, serving as
Speaker during his second term. His Congressional
service covered the period from 1875 to 1881. He died
November 22, 1916.

In his inaugural message, Governor Peck declared:
''A Board of Education may be regarded as the settled
policy of the State. It has done much to further the
cause of education by arousing a more general interest in
the subject and otherwise." He found the condition of
the jails such that imprisonment in them was "practically
a sentence to idleness in a school of vice." He was of
the opinion that a workhouse for minor offenders would
prove a public benefit. He renewed the recommendation
made by his predecessor for the establishment of town
libraries. E. P. Walton of Montpelier had been engaged


to edit "Governor and Council." H. Henry Powers of
Morrisville was elected Speaker, resigning later to accept
an election to the Supreme Court bench.

The work of the legislative session included the
passage of a general insurance act. The real estate of
railroads was to be assessed for purposes of taxation
at a rate not exceeding two thousand dollars per mile,
but such property should be exempt from taxation for
a period of ten years from the time when regular trains
began to run over the entire length of the railroad with-
in this State. The Board of Education was abolished
and the office of State Superintendent of Education was
created, such official to be elected in joint legislative
assembly. Considerable opposition had been aroused
by the assertion that there had been too frequent changes
of text books. Joint resolutions opposed a reciprocity
treaty with Canada and favored a waterway connecting
the St. Lawrence River with the Atlantic Ocean by way
of Lake Champlain, "forming an important line of com-
munication between the great cities on the Atlantic sea-
board and the grain and lumber regions of Canada and
the Northwest."

The members of the Congressional delegation were
asked to use their best endeavors to secure a proper in-
demnity from the United States Government for losses
sustained during the St. Albans Raid. The special com-
mittee to which was referred the petition of representa-
tives of the Iroquois Indians, reported that a claim was
made to all the land west of the Green Mountains, north
of a line from Ticonderoga, N. Y., to Sutherland Falls in
Rutland, extending along the summit of the mountains

70 HISTORY OF xiamoxT

to the Canadian line, and containing- approximately
2,244,000 acres, for which $89,600 was demanded.
This claim was presented in 1798, 1812, 1826, 1854 and
1855, and at no time was a favorable report made. A
joint resolution was adopted, asserting that if a valid
ownership ever existed it was exting-uished by treaties
negotiated between France and Great Britain in 1763,
and the United States and Great Britain in 1783, and
the petitioners had no legal or equitable claim to any of
the lands described in the petition. The report was
signed by B. B. Smalley of Burlington for the committee.

A special legislative session, called by Governor Peck
on account of the burning of the buildings of the State
Reform School at Waterbury, was convened on January
15, 1875. The sum of thirty thousand dollars was
appropriated to make good the loss and the Governor
was authorized to purchase the Champlain Arsenal prop-
erty at Vergennes, and to sell the State property at

Trains were run over the Woodstock Railroad for the
first time, September 29, 1875. This road extends from
White River Junction to Woodstock.

The Burlington and Lamoille Railroad Conijiany was
organized on February 27, 1875, and several towns along
the route bonded to aid in building it. The work of con-
struction was begun at Jericho in May, 1875. The road
was .supposed to be completed so that a connection could
be made with the Lamoille Valley Railroad in Cambridge
by September 1. 1876. Considerable work was d(^ne on
the Lamoille Valley road during the winter of 1875-76.
but earl\' in the s])ring of 1876 it was discontinued. Tn


1877 it was opened from Burlington to Cambridge

Senator Edmunds was never a man who sought pub-
licity for his achievements and the credit which be-
longed to him for not a few important legislative acts
has gone to others. As an illustration of this state-
ment, the act providing for the resumption of specie pay-
ments, passed in 1875, may be cited. The story may be
told best in Mr. Edmunds' own words, which he was
kind enough to furnish the author for historical pur-
poses, and is as follows : "On the occasion of proceed-
ings for the resumption of specie payments, resulting in
the passage of the resumption bill of 1875, the Eastern
and Western views in the Senate were greatly divided,
the Western Senators feeling that resumption ought not
to be established, thinking it could not be maintained.
The Eastern Senators thought the experiment should
be tried. The West also was badly tinctured with the
double standard delusion of sixteen to one, and with a
desire for free coinage of silver. Most of the Eastern
Senators thought quite otherwise.

"At the request of three or four of the Eastern Sena-
tors, of whom I was one, a Republican confidential
caucus was called, and met and appointed a committee of
eleven, I think, to confer and if possible to propose a bill
for some action on the subject that would satisfy all in-
terested. I was a member of that committee, which for
three weeks had almost daily, or rather nightly, confi-
dential consultations, and agreed upon a bill to provide
for resumption. Drafting this bill was committed to a
committee of two. Senator Logan of Illinois and myself.


and we agreed upon a draft containing, I believe, pre-
cisely the words which appear in the statutes of 1875
providing for resumption. We reported our draft to
the committee, which agreed to it precisely as we had
drawn it. The committee reported it to the caucus,
which agreed to it, I believe, unanimously, with the ex-
ception of Senator Morton of Indiana, who reserved
leave to vote against it in the Senate. In fact, every
Senator, stating that he wished to do so with frankness,
had a perfect right to vote against the bill if he thought
fit, without any complaint from the others. It was
agreed in the caucus that if the bill was to be passed at
all it was to be passed in the precise form, punctuation
and all, in which the committee framed it. It was then
directed by the caucus that this draft should be put into
the hands of Senator Sherman, then chairman of the
Finance Committee of the Senate, and that it should be
reported from the Finance Committee in precisely that
form, and that any amendment proposed to it in the
Senate should be voted down. Thus, in due course, the
bill came before the Senate and was passed into a law in
that session. It was a curious instance of the possibility
of confidential consultations in those days, that the whole
steps in the preparation of the bill and its deposit with
the Finance Committee for report, did not, so far as
known, become public."

In March. 1876. President Grant appointed Judge
Alphonso Taft of Ohio lo fill a vacancy in the ofilce of
Secretary of War. Secretary Taft was a native of Ver-
mont, having been born in Townshend, November 5.
1810. His f>randfalhc'r, Aaron Taft. was one of the


first settlers of this Windham county town, and with him
came his son, Peter R. Taft, who later, married Sylvia
Howard of Townshend. Alphonso Taft's son, William
Howard Taft, was elected President of the United
States in 1908. Alphonso Taft emigrated to Ohio and

Online LibraryWalter Hill CrockettVermont, the Green mountain state (Volume 4) → online text (page 5 of 43)