Imágenes de páginas


Grant has outlived all such mean detractions, and their authors have sunk into the obscurity to which patriotic indignation and public opinion have consigned them. Modest as a man, great as a general, noble as a patriot, General Grant has a place in the hearts of his countrymen which hate, nor malice, nor envy can ever reach. His name will go down to all time associated with that of Washington and Lincoln, as the defender of American liberty and preserver of the Union. It is a matter to be regretted, in the author's estimation, that General Grant's name was allowed to be presented at the Chicago Convention of 1880. The author feels assured that it was not because of a selfish ambition on the General's part that he permitted his friends to ask for a third nomination for the Presidency. If he felt that he needed a vindication from charges that were dishonorable, he needed it not, for they were false. If he felt that he would like an opportunity to correct some mistakes of his former administration, he needed it not, for no man, however great, is above making mistakes. Only a precedent which has been fixed for all time prevented his nomination and election for a “third term” of the Presidency. This inviolable precedent was the sunken ditch into which “the old guard” charged in unfaltering devotion to a chieftain who never knew surrender. A more gallant contest was never fought in any convention in our political history than that in which Blaine and Conkling were the leaders of the rival hosts. It would be presumption on the part of the author of the THREE DECADEs to attempt a review of General Grant's military career, or to discuss his motives and actions as a statesman and private citizen. It is sufficient here to say that modesty and greatness of soul, noble generosity, and pure disinterestedness, readiness, frankness, and the best impulses of patriotic devotion in all spheres of action and life, have ever been the characteristics of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. His name and fame will grow in splendor with the generations that are to come. In this hour of his affliction, a universal sympathy draws the hearts of his sorrowing countrymen around his dying couch into a nearer and better Union. What a solace this knowledge must give to his departing days I How small the glory of martial or executive honors, compared with this crowning bliss I

The two grand divisions at Chicago were finally reconciled upon James A. Garfield, of Ohio, who was one of the strongest and most distinguished men of his party. He had won fame in the field, the forum, and upon the sacred rostrum, and was deservedly popular. The congressional elections of 1878 had been adverse to the Republicans. But the census year was one of bounteous harvests and great prosperity; therefore the latter party appealed to business interests” to prevent a change of policy. The Republican National Convention was held on the 2d of June. The platform was elaborate. It was a code of memories, if such a stately reminiscence of party events can be called a code. It placed high above state rights, the doctrine of Nationality. It made “protection” dominant. It cleverly avoided the question of finance. It arraigned the Democratic party. With James A. Garfield was associated Chester A. Arthur of New-York, upon the ticket. The ticket commanded talent and means. It had a terrible ordeal, but it succeeded. Upon the 22d of June, the Democratic National Convention convened at Cincinnati. Its platform re-stated the old philosophy of the party, with its doctrines and traditions. It opposed the tendency of the Republican party to centralize government. Its metallic plank had the right ring. It advocated a tariff for revenue only. It held aloft the banner of a free vote. It gave a splendid encomium to Samuel J. Tilden. It had no equivocal statement as to free ships. It pointed to the acts of the Forty-sixth Congress as a superb illustration of a Democratic triumph. Upon this platform were placed Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock, of Pennslyvania, for President, and for Vice-President, William H. English, of Indiana. There was a “Greenback" nomination of Gen. James B. Weaver, of Iowa, with a platform of principles which had many admirable anti-monopolistic features. This platform had also many popular appeals to a public sense of justice which were all the greater in emphasis, because of the lack of popular appreciation of their necessity. But the contest was not tripartite. It was a duel between the two great parties. It was the solid South against an almost solid North with the inevitable result. Some of the ablest leaders of the Democratic party, including such men as Governor Seymour, addressed the people in favor of General Hancock and his civil record, and against the doctrines of General Garfield's letter of acceptance and the Republican platform. It was something magnificent to proclaim—that record of General Hancock as a civil governor, along with his record as a soldier. As a temporary governor in the southwest after the war, he was beyond comparison for civic ability. He based his politics upon the teachings and purposes of the Constitution. He had learned lessons in statesmanship in an atmosphere untarnished by personal ambition. He was as far above the scandals which tarnished so many brilliant careers, as he was above the grasping designs of the satrap. He had fought on many battle-fields. At Gettysburg with rare and striking bravery, he had added to the glory of his effulgent career. But it was what he did in Louisiana and Texas that quickened every heart with the impulses of freedom; for, upon reviewing the history of his difficulties in governing those states after the war, all lovers of liberty considered that he should wear a civic crown to immortalize his sterling worth. When armed with unrestrained military power, he was animated with the grand abnegation of the best men of all republics. He copied the splendid deeds of Washington and Jackson. He wrote, thus inspired, these patriotic and glorious words : — “If called to the Presidency, I should deem it my duty to resist, with all my power, any attempt to impair or invade the full force and effect of the


Constitution, which in every article, section, and amendment is the paramount law of the land.” Was not such a man fit to exercise the authority to which he bowed P Had he not proved his devotion to his country upon the battle-field? Had he not proved that he was worthy of the nomination, and of an election, too, which all thought would be accomplished in that fall of 188of The election disappointed every Democrat. It is thought by some that General Hancock lost his election by tampering with the tariff thought of the people in some inconsiderate and local allusions. It is thought by others that the Republicans carried the election by the corrupt use of money. Whatever put in peril the ascendency of the Democratic party, the election resulted in the choice of Garfield and Arthur. These candidates received 214 electoral votes, including all the votes of the Northern States, except those of New Jersey and Nevada, and four out of the five votes of California. Only 155 votes, including those of all the Southern States, were given for Hancock and English. The aggregate of the vote for General Weaver and his colleague on the “Greenback” ticket was 307,ooo, against 81,000 cast for Cooper and Carey, of the same financial platform, in 1876. When the term of Mr. Hayes expired, on the 4th of March, 1881, General Garfield succeeded to the Presidency by lawful election. He had a wonderful prestige, an inborn physical vigor. He had the advantages of classic culture, refined gifts of rhetoric, some experience in war, and much more in Congress. He was inaugurated with a grand display. He was a man born of the people. He arose from humble estate. The public services which he rendered in Ohio immediately preceding the Civil War, and afterwards as chief-of-staff to General Rosecrans, and his many years in the lower branch of Congress, found him at last, in 1880, chosen United States Senator. He advanced to this position by steady and deserved promotion. The Republicans know well how to honor their able men. This gave great strength of adhesion to their party. In his inaugural, President Garfield touched with elegant phraseology and rare felicity upon the progress of American civilization. He made his constitutional recommendations with a happy selection of themes. He formed a brilliant Cabinet. James G. Blaine, of Maine, was at its head, with a genius for politics as clever as that of Talleyrand for diplomacy, or Napoleon for war; but this cabinet was doomed to a short existence. Now, for the second time in the history of the country, a great tragedy is enacted. James A. Garfield, the favored son of Ohio and President of the Nation is cut off in the zenith and splendor of his grand career It is not necessary to discuss the preceding difficulties between the factions of the Republican party; the one headed by Senator Conkling, and the other by Mr. Blaine, and indorsed by the President. It had no relation to the tragedy. The latter comes in an unexpected way. It comes, like our first great tragedy, with an assassin's pistol-shot. The President is about to leave Washington on a visit to his alma mater— Williams College. It is on the morning of the 2d of July. Along with him are Mr. Blaine and other friends. He is about to take the cars for Long Branch, at the Baltimore depot. An obscure, office-seeking miscreant, called Charles Guiteau, who has long been watching for this opportunity to revenge his disappointment, creeps stealthily behind the unsuspicious President! He is within a few feet of the President. With fatal aim he fires his weapon. Its shot strikes the President in the back, inflicting a terrible wound. For the second time in our history a President falls by the hand of an assassin The Nation is thunderstruck. There is awe for the tragedy, and sadness for the victim. From time to time hope varies with the alternations of the disease which supervenes from the wound. Medical and surgical help are vain. It is half-past ten, on the evening of September 19, when the President suddenly dies. For eighty days he had borne mental anguish and bodily pain with fortitude. The writer at that time was within a few miles of Tarsus, where Paul was born. There, by a telegram from the consul at Smyrna, he hears the sad news of the death of his friend, the President. While the writer was traveling from the North Cape, in the Arctic Ocean, to Constantinople, the dark shadow of that crime and that suffering was upon his path. It threw a gloom upon the very dynasties of other nations. But that shadow did not eclipse the lustre of the President's life. Whatever may have been his weaknesses, and who is free from them?—he lives in the hearts of good men. What followed the people know. Immediately after the death of President Garfield, Vice-President Arthur takes the oath of office according to the requirements of the Constitution. How skillfully and courteously he managed the grand trusts of the high office to which he succeeded, is now recognized. He was well equipped for Executive duties, as a man of education, of great knowledge of affairs, and as a lawyer, and a practical man of business. He retired from the office of President with the best wishes of every one with whom he came in contact. He had many severe trials connected with the bad administration of affairs in the post-office and other departments of the government. He also had some stormy times with partisans, because he endeavored to be just to the country; but amid all the distractions of his party and the state, he maintained that decorous dignity which becomes the President of a nation whose past has a wondrous lesson, whose present has such a supreme duty, and whose future such a radiant hope. The most notable event of President Arthur's administration was the passage in Congress of Senator Pendleton's Civil Service Reform bill. It was a Democratic measure, which had much to do in 1884 with the selection by that party, of a Presidential candidate, in harmony with its spirit and of tried fealty to its principles. The assassination of General Garfield gave impulse to the bill. The evils which its provisions were intended to remedy are acknowledged by most men of judgment and experience in public affairs.




LTHOUGH it is not so much the province of history to philosophize as to relate, the writer of this narrative has not deemed it inappropriate to comment somewhat freely upon the men and measures of his Three Decades. A civil war of unprecedented magnitude was the most striking event of this troublous period in the history of our country. That war is an epoch in our career as remarkable for the events which immediately preceded it, as for its subsequent influences on our polity and institutions. Any history of this period must necessarily discuss, almost in every chapter, the causes and the results of that terrible conflict. It is the central point of thought, whether for narrative or philosophical discussion. The men in the conflict, the men who forced the conflict, the men who made the peace; and their prejudices, passions, and patriotism must, therefore, form the main topic of discussion when recording the events of the last three decades of Federal legislation. The legislation of that period is entombed in the statute books. Most of it is obsolete and forgotten. What remains in force, as well as what is obsolete, has had its inspiration and source in the motives and acts of these men. Hence it has been the writer's aim to leave to coming generations some record of them, as a key to the history of this period when it shall be written. Our Civil War has left many indelible impressions on Southern character and life. It changed the mode of life in the South, and modified in many respects the Northern opinion of the people of that section. The men and women of the South, especially those of the Gulf states, have had experiences, mentally and morally, which have wrought many modifications in

« AnteriorContinuar »