Reminiscences of Sixty Years in Public Affairs, Vol. 2
by George S. Boutwell
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During the period of reconstruction Alexander H. Stephens was examined by the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives as to the condition and purposes of the South. When the examination was over I asked him when he came to the conclusion that the South was to be defeated. He said: "In the year 1862." I then said: "In that year you had your successes. What were the grounds of your conclusions?" In reply he said: "It was then that I first realized that the North was putting its whole force into the contest, and I knew that in such a contest we were to be destroyed."

If I were to imagine a reason, or to suggest an excuse for General Lee's two unsuccessful aggressive campaigns, I should assume that, simultaneously with Mr. Stephens, he had reached the conclusion that time was on the side of the North, and that the Fabian policy must fail in the end.

In an aggressive movement there was one chance of success. A victory and capture of Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington might lead to an arrangement by which the Confederacy would be recognized, or a restoration of the Union secured upon a basis acceptable to the South. A desperate undertaking, no doubt, but it is difficult to suggest a more adequate reason for the conduct of General Lee.

I cannot, as a civilian, assume to give a judgment which shall be accepted by any one, upon the relative standing of military men; but I cannot accept, without question, the decision of a military man who never won a great victory in a great battle, upon a chieftain who fought many great battles and never lost one.

I end my observations upon General Grant as a soldier by the relation of an incident in my acquaintance with General Sherman, which was intimate during the four years that I was at the head of the Treasury Department.

It was my custom in those years to spend evenings at General Sherman's, where we indulged ourselves in conversation and in the enjoyment of the game of billiards. Our conversations were chiefly upon the war. In those conversations General Grant's name and doings were the topics often. General Sherman never instituted a comparison between General Grant and any one else, nor did he ever express an opinion of General Grant as a military leader; but his conversation always assumed that General Grant was superior to every other officer, himself, General Sherman, included.

In concurrence with the opinion of General Sherman the friends of General Grant may call an array of witnesses who, both from numbers and character, are entitled to large confidence.

During the four years of the Civil War more than two million men served in the Northern Army. Many of them, more than a majority of them, probably, served for at least three years each. With an unanimity that was never disturbed by an audible voice of dissent, the two million veterans gave to General Grant supremacy over all the other officers under whom they had served. With like unanimity the chief officers of the army assigned the first place to General Grant, and never in any other war of modern times has there been equal opportunity for the applications of a satisfactory test to leaders. In all the wars which England has been engaged since the fall of Napoleon, except, possibly, the Crimean War, the opposing forces have been composed of inferior races of men. The fields of contest have been in India, Egypt and South Africa. From such contests no satisfactory opinion can be formed as to the qualities of the leaders of the victorious forces.

In our Civil War the men and the officers were of the same race in the main, and the educated officers had been alike trained at West Point. Except in numbers, the armies of the North and the South were upon an equality, and in all the great contests, the numbers engaged were equal substantially. The quality of the man and officers may be gauged and measured with accuracy from the fact that at Shiloh, in the Wilderness and at Gettysburg the same fields were contested for two and three continuous days. It has been said of Mr. Adams that when an English sympathizer with the South lauded the bravery of the Southern Army, Mr. Adams replied: "Yes, they are brave men; they are my country- men."

The Southern Army was composed of brave men and its officers were qualified by training and experience to command any army and to contest for supremacy on any field.

My readers should not assume that I have avoided a discussion of the characteristics of General Grant in his personality and as a civil magistrate.

The voice of those who in 1872 denied his ability and questioned his integrity is no longer heard; but there are those at home and abroad who either teach or accept the notion that General Grant has become great historically by having been the favorite of fortune.

[* From the New York Independent.]


The controversy between Mr. Blaine and Mr. Conkling on the floor of the House of Representatives in the Thirty-ninth Congress was fraught with serious consequences to the contestants, and it may have changed the fortunes of the Republican Party.

Mr. Conkling was a member of the Thirty-seventh Congress, but he was defeated as a candidate for the Thirty-eighth. He was returned for the Thirty-ninth Congress. During the term of the Thirty-eighth Congress he was commissioned by the Department of War as judge-advocate, and assigned for duty to the prosecution of Major Haddock and the trial of certain soldiers known as "bounty jumpers." That duty he performed.

When the army bill was before the House in April, 1866, Mr. Conkling moved to strike out the section which made an appropriation for the support of the provost-marshal general. General Grant, then in command of the army, had given an opinion, in a letter dated March 19, 1866, that that office in the War Department was an unnecessary office. Mr. Conkling supported his motion in a speech in which he said: "My objection to this section is that is creates an unnecessary office for an undeserving public servant; it fastens, as an incubus upon the country, a hateful instrument of war, which deserves no place in a free government in a time of peace."

Thus Mr. Conkling not only assailed the office, he assailed the officer, and in a manner calculated to kindle resentment, especially in an officer of high rank. General James B. Fry was provost-marshal-general. He was able to command the friendship of Mr. Blaine, and on the thirtieth day of April, Mr. Blaine read from his seat in the House a letter from General Fry addressed to himself. Thus Mr. Blaine endorsed the contents of the letter.

In that letter General Fry made three specific charges against Mr. Conkling, but he made no answer to the arraignment that Mr. Conkling had made of him and his office. Thus he avoided the issue that Mr. Conkling had raised. His charges were these:

1. That Mr. Conkling had received a fee for the prosecution of Major Haddock, and that the same had been received improperly, if not illegally.

2. That in the discharge of his duties he had not acted in good faith, and that he had been zealous in preventing the prosecution of deserters at Utica.

3. That he had notified the War Department that the Provost-Marshal in Western New York needed legal advice, and that thereupon he received an appointment.

The fourth charge was an inference, and it fell with the allegation.

Upon the reading of the letter a debate arose which fell below any recognized standard of Congressional controversy and which rendered a reconciliation impossible.

At that time my relations to Mr. Conkling were not intimate, and I am now puzzled when I ask myself the question: "Why did Mr. Conkling invite my opinion as to his further action in the matter?" That he did, however; and I advised him to ask for a committee. A committee of five was appointed, three Republicans and two Democrats. Mr. Shellabarger was chairman, and Mr. Windom was a member.

The report was a unanimous report. The committee criticised the practice of reading letters in the House, which reflected upon the House, or upon the acts or speeches of any member.

At considerable length of statement and remarks, the committee exonerated Mr. Conkling from each and every one of the charges, and, with emphasis, the proceedings on the part of General Fry were condemned. The most important of the resolutions reported by the committee was in these words:

Resolved, That all the statements contained in the letter of General James B. Fry to Hon. James G. Blaine, a member of this House, bearing date the 27th of April, A. D. 1866, and which was read in this House the 30th day of April, A. D. 1866, in so far as such statements impute to the Hon. Roscoe Conkling, a member of this House, any criminal, illegal, unpatriotic, or otherwise improper conduct, or motives, either as to the matter of his procuring himself to be employed by the Government of the United States in the prosecution of military offences in the State of New York, in the management of such prosecutions, in taking compensation therefor, or in any other charge, are wholly without foundation truth, and for their publication there were, in the judgment of the House, no facts connected with said prosecutions furnishing either a palliative or an excuse.

The controversy thus opened came to an end only with Mr. Conkling's death. It is not known to me that Mr. Conkling and Mr. Blaine were unfriendly previous to the encounter of April, 1866. That they could have lived on terms of intimacy, or even of ordinary friendship, is not probable. Yet it may not be easy to assign a reason for such an estrangement unless it may be found in the word incompatibility. My relations with Mr. Blaine were friendly, reserved, and as to his aspirations for the Presidency, it was well understood by him that I could not be counted among his original supporters.

Only on one occasion was the subject ever mentioned. About two weeks before the Republican Convention of 1884, I met Mr. Blaine in Lafayette Square. He beckoned me to a seat on a bench. He opened the conversation by saying that he was glad to have some votes in the convention, but that he did not wish for the nomination. He expressed a wish to defeat the nomination of President Arthur, and he then said the ticket should be General Sherman and Robert Lincoln. Most assuredly the nomination of that ticket would have been followed by an election. To me General Sherman had one answer to the suggestion: "I am not a statesman; my brother John is. If any Sherman is to be nominated, he is the man."

I did not then question, nor do I now question, the sincerity of the statement that Mr. Blaine then made. My acquaintance with Mr. Blaine began with our election to the Thirty-eighth Congress, and it continued on terms of reserved friendship to the end of his life. That reserve was not due to any defect in his character of which I had knowledge, nor to the statements concerning him that were made by others, but to an opinion that he was not a person whose candidacy I was willing to espouse in advance of his nomination. I ought to say that in my intercourse with Mr. Blaine he was frank and free from dissimulation.

I was on terms of intimacy with Mr. Conkling from the disastrous April, 1866, to the end of his life. Hence it was that I ventured upon an experiment which a less well-assured friend would have avoided. I assumed that Mr. Blaine would close the controversy at the first opportunity. It may be said of Mr. Blaine that, while he had great facility for getting into difficulties, he had also a strong desire to get out of difficulties, and great capacity for the accomplishment of his purposes in that direction.

On a time, and years previous to 1880, I put the matter before Mr. Conkling, briefly, upon personal grounds, and upon public grounds in a party sense. He received the suggestion without any manifestation of feeling, and with great candor he said: "That attack was made without any provocation by me as against Mr. Blaine, and when I was suffering more from other causes than I ever suffered at any other time, and I shall never overlook it."

General Grant's strength was so overmastering in 1868 and 1872 that the controversy between Blaine and Conkling was of no importance to the Republican Party. The disappearance of the political influence of General Grant in 1876 revived the controversy within the Republican Party, and made the nomination of either Blaine or Conkling an impossibility. Its evil influence extended to the election, and it put in jeopardy the success of General Hayes. At the end, Mr. Conkling did not accept the judgment of the Electoral Commission as a just judgment, and he declined to vote for its affirmation.

I urged Mr. Conkling to sustain the action of the commission, and upon the ground that we had taken full responsibility when we agreed to the reference and that there was then no alternative open to us. I did not attempt to solve the problem of the election of 1876 either upon ethical or political grounds. The evidence was more conclusive than satisfactory that there had been wrong-doing in New York, in Oregon, in New Orleans, and not unlikely in many other places. As a measure of peace, when ascertained justice had become an impossibility, I was ready to accept the report of the commission, whether it gave the Presidency to General Hayes or to Mr. Tilden. The circumstances were such that success before the commission did not promise any advantage to the successful party.

For the moment, I pass by the Convention of 1880 and the events of the following year. In the year 1884 Mr. Conkling was in the practice of his profession and enjoying therefrom larger emoluments, through a series of years, than ever were enjoyed by any other member of the American bar. He once said to me: "My father would denounce me if he knew what charges I am making." That conjecture may have been well founded, for the father would not have been the outcome of the period in which the son was living. The father was an austere county judge, largely destitute of the rich equipment for the profession for which the son was distinguished. After the year 1881, when Mr. Conkling gave himself wholly to the profession, Mr. Justice Miller made this remark to me: "For the discussion of the law and the facts of a case Mr. Conkling is the best lawyer who comes into our court."

If this estimate was trustworthy, then Mr. Conkling's misgivings as to his charges may have been groundless. If a rich man, whose property is put in peril, whose liberty is assailed, or whose reputation is threatened, will seek the advice and aid of the leading advocate of the city, state, or country, shall not the compensation be commensurate with the stake that has been set up? Is it to be measured by the per diem time pay of ordinary men?

Whatever may have been Mr. Conkling's pecuniary interests or professional engagements in the year 1884, he found time to take a quiet part in the contest of that year, and to contribute to Mr. Blaine's defeat.

In the month of November, and after the election, I had occasion to pass a Sunday in New York. It happened, and by accident, that I met Mr. Conkling on Fifth Avenue. After the formalities, he invited me to call with him upon Mr. William K. Vanderbilt. Mr. Vanderbilt was absent when we called. Upon his return, the election was the topic of conversation. Mr. Vanderbilt said that he voted for Garfield in 1880, but that he had not voted for Blaine. Mr. Conkling expressed his regret that Mr. Blaine had come so near a success, and he attributed it to the fact that he had not anticipated the support which had been given to Blaine by the Democratic Party.

On a time in the conversation Mr. Conkling said: "Mr. Vanderbilt, why did you sell Maud S.?"

Mr. Vanderbilt proceeded to give reasons. He had received letters from strangers inquiring about her pedigree, care, age, treatment, etc., which he could not answer without more labor than he was willing to perform. As a final reason, he said: "When I drive up Broadway, people do not say, 'There goes Vanderbilt,' but they say, 'There goes Maud S.'"

When General Grant was on his journey around the world I wrote him a letter occasionally, and occasionally I received a letter in reply. In two of my letters I mentioned as a fact what I then thought to be the truth, that there was a very considerable public opinion in favor of his nomination for President in 1880, and that upon his return to the country some definite action on his part might be required. Upon a recent examination of his letters, I find that they are free from any reference to the Presidency. If Mr. Conkling, General Logan, Mr. Cameron, and myself came to be considered the special representatives of General Grant at the Chicago Convention of 1880, the circumstance was not due to any designation by him prior to the Galena letter, of which I am to speak and which was written while the convention was in session, and when the contest between the contending parties was far advanced.

Our title was derived from the constant support that we had given him through many years and from his constant friendship for us through the same many years. We were of the opinion then, and in that belief we never faltered, that the nomination and election of General Grant were the best security that could be had for the peace and prosperity of the country. That opinion was supported by an expressed public sentiment in the conventions of New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, and in other parts of the country there were evidences of a disposition in the body of the people to support General Grant in numbers far in excess of the strength of the Republican Party.

The mass of the people were not disturbed by the thought that General Grant might become President a third time. They did not accept the absurd notion that experience, successful experience, disqualified a man for further service. Nor did that apprehension influence any considerable number of the leaders. They demanded a transfer of power into new hands. This, unquestionably, was their right, and as a majority of the convention, as the convention was constituted finally, they were able to assert and to maintain their supremacy.

It is too late for complaints, and complaints were vain when the causes were transpiring, but there were delegates who appeared in the convention as opponents of General Grant who had been elected upon the understanding that they were his friends. Upon this fact I hang a single observation. If there is a trust in human affairs that should be treated as a sacred trust it is to be found in the duty that arises from the acceptance of a representative office in matters of government. When a public opinion has been formed, either in regard to men or to measures, whoever undertakes to represent that opinion should do so in good faith.

To this rule there were many exceptions in the Republican Convention of 1880, and it was no slight evidence of devotion to the party and to the country when General Grant and Mr. Conkling entered actively into the contest after the fortunes of the party had been prostrated, apparently, by the disaster in the State of Maine.

Of the many incidents of the convention no one is more worthy of notice than the speech of Mr. Conkling when he placed General Grant in nomination. Whatever he said that was in support of his cause, affirmatively, was of the highest order of dramatic eloquence. When he dealt with his opponents, his speech was not advanced in quality and its influence was diminished. His reference in his opening sentence to his associates who had deserted General Grant: "In obedience to instructions which I should never dare to disregard," was tolerated even by his enemies; but his allusion to Mr. Blaine in these words: "without patronage, without emissaries, without committees, without bureaus, without telegraph wires running from his house to this convention, or running from his house anywhere," intensified the opposition to General Grant.

In many particulars his speech is an unequaled analysis of General Grant's character and career, presented in a most attractive form. An extract may be tolerated from a speech that can be read with interest even by those who are ignorant of the doings, or it may be, by those who have no knowledge of the existence, of the convention:

"Standing on the highest eminence of human distinction, modest, firm, simple, and self-poised, having filled all lands with his renown, he has seen not only the high-born and the titled, but the poor and the lowly, in the uttermost ends of the earth, rise and uncover before him."

Mr. Conkling was the recognized leader of the three hundred and six who constituted the compact body of the supporters of General Grant.

Suggestions were made that the substitution of Mr. Conkling's name for General Grant's name would give the nomination to Mr. Conkling, and there was a moment of time when General Garfield anticipated or apprehended such a result. There was, however, never a moment of time when such a result was possible. The three hundred and six would never have consented to the use of any name in place of General Grant's name unless General Grant's name were first withdrawn by his authority.

A firmer obstacle even would have been found in Mr. Conkling's sturdy refusal to allow the use of his name under such circumstances. Among the friends of General Grant the thought of such a proceeding was never entertained, although the suggestion was made, but without authority, probably, from those charged with the management of the organizations engaged in the struggle.

After many years had passed, and the proceedings of the convention were well-nigh forgotten, Mr. John Russell Young printed a letter in which he made the charge that Conkling, Cameron, Boutwell, and Lincoln had concealed the contents of a letter from General Grant in which he directed them as his representatives to withdraw his name from the convention. Mr. Young was in error in two particulars. Lincoln was not named in the letter. General Logan was the fourth person to whom the letter was addressed.

Young brought the letter from Galena, where Grant then was, and he claims that the letter was addressed to himself. General Frederick D. Grant, who was then at Chicago, claims that the letter was addressed to him, and that, after reading it, he handed it to Mr. Conkling.

As late as the first half of the year 1897, Mr. Conkling's papers had not been examined carefully. The contents of the letter are important, and for the present the evidence is circumstantial; but to me it is conclusive against Mr. Young's statement that Conkling, Cameron, Logan, and Boutwell were directed by General Grant to withdraw his name from the convention. I cannot now say that I read the letter, but of its receipt and the contents I had full knowledge, and I referred to it in these words in a letter to my daughter dated May 31, 1880:

"Grant sent for Young to visit him at Galena. Young returned to-day, and says that Grant directed him to say to Cameron, Logan, Conkling, and Boutwell that he should be satisfied with whatever they may do."

Without any special recollection upon the point, the conclusion of reason is that my letter was written from a conversation with Young, and before I had knowledge of the contents of Grant's letter. I may add, however, that his letter produced no change in my opinion as to our authority and duty in regard to Grant's candidacy. My mind never departed for a moment from the idea that we were free, entirely free, to continue the contest in behalf of General Grant upon our own judgment.

Upon the views and facts already presented and with even greater certainty upon the correspondence with General Frederick D. Grant, I submit as the necessary conclusion of the whole matter that the letter of General Grant of May, 1880, did not contain any specific instructions, and especially that it did not contain instructions for the withdrawal of his name from the convention; in fine, that the further conduct of the contest was left to the discretion and judgment of the four men whom he had recognized as his representatives.

I annex the correspondence with General Frederick D. Grant:


Dear Sir: You will of course recall the fact that John Russell Young, some months ago, made a public statement in which he declared that he brought from Galena to Chicago, during the session of the Republican Convention of 1880, a letter from General Grant in which he gave specific directions to Conkling, Cameron, and Boutwell to withdraw his name as a candidate from the convention. Some months ago I had some correspondence with A. R. Conkling, and also with yourself, in regard to the contents of the letter written by General Grant. Mr. A. R. Conkling sent me a copy of a portion of a letter which, as he advised me, he had received from you. A copy of that extract I herewith enclose. As one of the friends of General Grant and as one of the persons to whom bad faith was imputed by Mr. Young, it is my purpose to place the matter before the public with such evidence as I can command, for the purpose of showing the character of the letter.

I wish to obtain from you such a statement as you are willing to make, with the understanding that whenever the case shall be presented to the public your letter may be used.

Aside from actual evidence tending to show that Young's statement is erroneous, I cannot believe that General Grant would have recognized as a friend either one of the persons named, if his explicit instructions for the withdrawal of his name had been made by him and disregarded by them.

Yours very truly, GEO S. BOUTWELL.

25 EAST 62D STREET, NEW YORK, May 30, 1897.

My Dear Senator: I received yesterday your letter of May 28th, in which you asked me what I remember about a letter which my father, General Grant, wrote to his four leading friends during the session of the Republican National Convention at Chicago in 1880.

With reference to this matter my recollection is, that Mr. John Russell Young, who had been visiting father in Galena, brought from him a large sealed envelope, which he delivered to me at my home in Chicago, with directions from my father that I should read the letter contained therein, and then see that it was received safely by his four friends, Senators Conkling, Boutwell, Cameron, and Logan.

The substance of General Grant's letter was, that the personal feelings of partisans of the leading candidates had grown to be so bitter, that it might become advisable for the good of the Republican Party to select as their candidate some one whose name had not yet been prominently before the convention, and that he therefore wrote to say to those who represented his interest in the convention, that it would be quite satisfactory to him if they would confer with those who represented the interests of Mr. Blaine and decided to have both his name and Mr. Blaine's withdrawn from before the convention.

I delivered in person this letter from my father, to Senator Conkling— I do not know what disposition he made of it.

With highest regards, my dear Senator, for your family and yourself, believe me, as ever,

Faithfully yours, FREDERICK D. GRANT.

Following the visit of General Grant and Mr. Conkling to Mentor in the autumn of 1880, I was informed by Mr. Conkling that he had not been alone one minute with General Garfield, intending by that care-taking to avoid the suggestion that his visit was designed to afford an opportunity for any personal or party arrangement. Further, it was the wish of General Grant, as it was his wish, that the effort which they were then making should be treated as a service due to the party and to the country, and that General Garfield should be left free from any obligation to them whatsoever.

After the election and after Mr. Blaine became Secretary of State, he volunteered to speak of the situation of the party in New York and of Mr. Conkling's standing in the State. Among other things, he said that Mr. Conkling was the only man who had had three elections to the Senate, and that Mr. Conkling and his friends would be considered fairly in the appointments that might be made in that State.

When in a conversation with Conkling, I mentioned Blaine's remark, he said, "Do you believe one word of that?"

I said, "Yes, I believe Mr. Blaine."

He said with emphasis, "I don't."

Subsequent events strengthened Mr. Conkling in his opinion, but those events did not change my opinion of Mr. Blaine's integrity of purpose in the conversations of which I have spoken.

My knowledge of the events, not important in themselves, but which seem to have the relation of a prelude to the great tragedy, was derived from three persons, Mr. Conkling, Mr. Blaine, and Mr. Marshall Jewell. At the request of the President, Mr. Conkling called upon him the Sunday preceding the day of catastrophe. The President gave Mr. Conkling the names of persons that he was considering favorably for certain places. To several of these Mr. Conkling made objections, and in some cases other persons were named. As Mr. Conkling was leaving he said, "Mr. President, what do you propose about the collectorship of New York?" The President said, "We will leave that for another time." These statements I received from Mr. Conkling.

From Mr. Jewell I received the following statement as coming from the President: When the New York nominations were sent to the Senate, the President was forthwith in the receipt of letters and despatches in protest, coupled with the suggestion that everything had been surrendered to Conkling. Without delay and without consultation with any one, the President nominated Judge Robertson to the office of collector of New York. Further, the President said, as reported by Mr. Jewell, Mr. Blaine heard of the nomination, and he came in very pale and much astonished.

From Mr. Blaine I received the specific statement that he had no knowledge of the nomination of Judge Robertson until it had been made.

These statements are reconcilable with each other, and they place the responsibility for the sudden and fatal rupture of the relations between Mr. Conkling and the President upon the President. Mr. Conkling could not fail to regard the nomination of Robertson as a wilful and premeditated violation of the pledge given at the Sunday conference. It was, however, only an instance of General Garfield's impulsive and unreasoning submission to an expression of public opinion, without waiting for evidence of the nature and value of that opinion. That weakness had been observed by his associates in the House of Representatives, and on that weakness his administration was wrecked.

Mr. Conkling was much misrepresented and of course he was much misunderstood. As a Senator from New York he claimed a right to be consulted in regard to the principal appointments in the State. His recommendations were few and they were made with great care. He confined himself to the chief appointments. It was quite difficult to secure his name or his favorable word in behalf of applicants for the subordinate places.

In my experience with him, which was considerable in the Internal Revenue Office and in the Treasury, I found him ready to concede to the opinions of the Executive Department. He was one of those who held to the opinion that it was the duty of Representatives and Senators to give advice in regard to appointments and to give it upon their responsibility as members of the Government. Senators and Representatives are not officers of the Government, they are members of the Government, and the duty of giving aid to the administration rests upon them.

When a man is chosen to represent a State or a district, a presumption should arise that he will act for the good of the country to the best of his ability. Advice in regard to appointments is a part of his duty, and in the main the Senators and Representatives are worthy of confidence. The present Civil Service system rests upon the theory that they are not to be trusted and that three men without a constituency are safer custodians of power.

Upon the death of Garfield and the accession of Arthur, Mr. Conkling looked for one thing, and one thing only—the removal of Robertson. When this was not done he separated from Arthur. I have no knowledge of the reasons which governed the President, but I think his career would have been more agreeable to himself if he had so far vindicated his own course and the course of his friends as to have removed from office the man who had contributed so largely to the defeat of the wing of the Republican Party with which Mr. Arthur was identified.

When General Garfield died, the Republican Party was broken, and it seemed to be without hope. President Arthur's conciliatory policy did much to restore harmony of all the elements except the wing represented by Mr. Conkling.

It is probable, however, that a better result might have been secured by the early removal of Robertson. That course of action would have been satisfactory to Conkling, and given strength to the party in New York, where strength was most needed. With Mr. Conkling's aid in 1884, Mr. Arthur might have been nominated, and if nominated it is probable that he might have been elected with Mr. Conkling's aid. Arthur's error was that he offended two important factions of the party. By retaining Robertson he alienated Conkling, and by the removal of Blaine he alienated him and his friends. Hence in 1884 two elements of the party that were bitterly opposed to each other harmonized in their opposition to Arthur.

XLI FROM 1875 TO 1895


In January, 1875, Mr. Fish negotiated a treaty with the representatives of the Hawaiian Islands by which there was to be a free exchange of specified products and manufactures.

By the fourth article the King agreed not to dispose of any port or harbor in his dominions or create a lien thereon in favor of any other government. When the treaty came to the Senate it had no original friends, and it met with determined opposition, especially from Sherman of Ohio, and Morrill and Edmunds of Vermont. The reciprocity feature annoyed them, they fearing that it might be used as a precedent for reciprocity with Canada.

I was early impressed with the importance of securing a foothold in the islands and I considered the exclusion of other nations as a step in the right direction. The trustworthy estimates showed that the reciprocity feature would work a loss to the Treasury of the United States of more than half a million dollars a year. This the supporters of the treaty were compelled to admit, but after argument the requisite majority ratified the treaty and upon the theory that the political, naval and commercial advantages were an adequate compensation. Upon the renewal of the treaty the King ceded Pearl River Harbor to the United States. After the expiration of the fixed period of seven years during which the two nations were bound mutually, there was a class of men who were anxious to abrogate the treaty, and at each session of Congress for several years a proposition was introduced for that purpose. By something of argument and something of art, the scheme was defeated. The opposition, led usually by Holman, of Indiana, consisted largely of Democrats. Their reason was loss of revenue. That fact was always admitted by the friends of the treaty. It was claimed also that there was no advantage gained by the country from the introduction of rice and sugar from the islands duty-free. It was asserted by the combinations the prices were as high on the Pacific Coast as on the Atlantic. On the other hand the Louisiana sugar planters opposed the treaty on the ground that they were unfavorably affected. As the importations from the islands never exceeded four per cent of the consumption of the country, the treaty had no perceptible effect upon prices. The sugar and rice interests were reinforced by the delegations from Michigan, Ohio and Vermont, who opposed the treaty under an apprehension that it would operate as a precedent for a revival of the system of reciprocity with Canada.

The fact of the annexation of Canada to the United States, whether the event shall occur in a time near or be postponed to a time remote, depends probably on our action upon the subject of reciprocity.

Canada needs our markets and our facilities for ocean transportation, and, as long as these advantages are denied to her, she can never attain to a high degree of prosperity. England may furnish capital for railways, but railways are profitable only where there is business and production on the one hand, and markets on the other. The system of qualified intercourse tends to make the Canadian farmer dissatisfied with his condition, and as long as there are cheap lands in the United States he will find relief in emigration.

The time, however, is not far distant, when the Canadian farmer will be unable to sell his lands in the Dominion and with the proceeds purchase a home in the States. When that time arrives he will favor annexation as a means of raising his own possessions to a value corresponding to the value of land in the States. The body of farmers, laborers, and trading people will favor annexation, ultimately, should the policy of non-intercourse be adhered to on our part, and they will outnumber the office-holding class, and thus the union of the two countries will be secured. It is apparent also that a policy of free intercourse would postpone annexation for a long time, if not indefinitely. Give to the Canadian farmer and fisherman free access to our markets and there will remain only a political motive in favor of annexation. The English government is pursuing a liberal policy in its dealings with the Dominion, and there is no reason for anticipating a retrograde course of conduct on the part of the home government.


In 1876 I was made chairman of a committee of the Senate charged with the duty of investigating the election of 1875 in the State of Mississippi. My associates were Cameron of Wisconsin, McMillan of Missouri, Bayard of Delaware, and McDonald of Missouri.

By the election of 1875 the Republican Party had been overthrown and the power of the Democratic Party established upon a basis which has continued firm, until the present time. The question for investigation was this: Was the election of 1875 an honest election? There was an agreement of opinion that there were riots, shootings and massacres. On the side of the Democrats it was contended that these outrages had no political significance, that they were due to personal quarrels, and to uprisings of negroes for the purpose of murdering the whites. The testimony was of the same character and the conclusions of the two branches of the committee followed the lead of these conflicting theories and statements. For myself I had no doubt that the election of 1875 was carried by the Democrats by a preconcerted plan of riots and assassinations. To me the evidence seemed conclusive.

The town of Aberdeen was the scene of murderous intimidation on the day of election, and at about eleven o'clock the Republicans left the polling place and abandoned the contest.

One of the principal witnesses for the Democrats was General Reuben Davis, a cousin of Jefferson Davis. He had been a member of the Thirty-sixth Congress, and he had resigned his seat to take part in the Rebellion. He was a Brigadier-General in the service, but without distinction. He explained and excused all the transactions at Aberdeen and with emphasis and adroitness he laid the responsibility upon the Republicans. Of certain things there was uncontradicted testimony. 1. That the Democrats placed a cannon near the voting-place and trained it upon the window where the Republicans, mostly negroes, were to vote, and that there was a caisson at the same place. 2. That there was a company of mounted men and armed cavalry upon the ground. 3. That guns were discharged in the vicinity of the voting place. 4. That at about eleven o'clock the sheriff of the county, a white man and a Republican, who had been a colonel in the rebel army, made a brief address to the Republican voters in which he said that there could be no election and advised them to go to their homes. This they did without delay. The sheriff locked himself in the jail where he remained until the events of the day were ended. General Davis insisted that all these demonstrations of apparent hostility had no significance— that the artillery men had no ammunition—that the cavalry men were assembled for sport only—and that the discharge of muskets was made by boys and lawless persons, but without malice.

In many parts of the State the canvass previous to the election was characterized by assassinations and midnight murders. But all were explained upon non-political grounds.

In 1878 General Davis offered himself to the electors as a Democratic candidate for Congress. The convention nominated another person. He then entered the field as an independent candidate. He was defeated, or rather the Democrat was declared to have been elected. The Republicans had voted for Davis, and when the contest was decided by the returning board Davis published a letter in which he charged upon the Democratic leaders the conduct which in 1876, he had explained and defended. After the election of General Harrison in 1888, General Davis appeared at Indianapolis as a Republican, and as such he had an interview with the President-elect.

While I was conducting the investigation at Jackson, a stout negro from the plantation sought an interview with me after he had been examined by the committee. He was a mulatto of unusual sense, but he was under a strong feeling in regard to the outrages that had been perpetrated upon the negro race.

Finally he said: "Had we not better take off the leaders? We can do it in a night."

I said: "No. It would end in the sacrifice of the black population. It would be as wrong on your part as is their conduct towards you. Moreover, we intend to protect you, and in the end you will be placed on good ground."

There is, however, a lesson and a warning in what that negro said. If the wrongs continue, some "John Brown" black or white, may appear in Mississippi or South Carolina or in several states at once, and engage in a vain attempt to regain the rights of the negro race by brutal crimes. The negroes are seven million to-day, and they are increasing in numbers and gaining in wealth and intelligence. The South, and indeed the whole country were not more blind to impending perils in the days of slavery than we now are to the perils of the usurpation in which the South is engaged. With such examples as this country furnishes and with the traditions under whose influence all classes are living, there will always be peril as long as large bodies of citizens are deprived of their legal rights.

Should such a contest arise, there will be wide spread sympathy in the North, which might convert a servile or social war into a sectional civil war.


One of my last acts as Secretary was to advise the President to nominate a Mr. Hitchcock for collector of the port of San Diego, California. Hitchcock was a lawyer by profession, a graduate of Harvard and a man of good standing in San Diego. Mr. Houghton, the member for the San Diego district, had recommended a man who was a saloon-keeper and a Democrat in politics, but he had supported Houghton in the canvass. Houghton's request was supported by Senator Sargent. Upon the facts as then understood the President nominated Hitchcock and one of the first questions of interest to me was the action of the Senate upon the nomination of Hitchcock which I supported.

Sargent appealed to what was known as the courtesy of the Senate a rule or custom which required Senators of the same party to follow the lead of Senators in the matter of nominations from the respective States. To this rule I objected. I refused to recognize it, and I said that I would never appeal to the "courtesy" of the Senate in any matter concerning the State of Massachusetts. Hitchcock was rejected. The President nominated Houghton's candidate.

This action on my part was followed by consequences which may have prevented my re-election to the Senate. When Judge Russell, who was collector of the port of Boston, was about to resign, General Butler, who had early knowledge of the purpose of Russell, secured from General Grant the nomination of his friend William A. Simmons. Simmons had been in the army, he had had experience in the Internal Revenue Service and his record was good. He was, however, Butler's intimate friend, and all the hostility in the State against Butler, which was large, was directed against the confirmation. I was not personally opposed to Simmons, but I thought that his appointment was unwise in the extreme, and therefore I opposed his confirmation. There were fair offers of compromise on men who were free from objections, all of which were refused by Butler. The President declined to withdraw the nomination unless it could be made to appear that Simmons was an unfit man. This could not be done. I was upon the Committee on Commerce to which the nomination was referred, and upon my motion the report was adverse to the nomination. Butler came to my room and denounced my action, saying that he would spend half a million dollars to defeat my re- election. I said in reply:—

"You can do that if you choose, but you cannot control my action now."

In the Senate I opposed the confirmation on the ground that a majority of the Republican Party were dissatisfied, that it was an unnecessary act of violence to their feelings, that there were men who were acceptable who could be considered, and that the means by which the nomination was secured could not be defended. I was then challenged to say whether I appealed to the courtesy of the Senate. I said:

"No, I do not. I ask for the rejection of Simmons upon the ground that the nomination ought not to have been made."

Sumner appealed to the courtesy of the Senate, but he had then wandered so far from the Republican Party that his appeal was disregarded. Simmons was confirmed.

Enough of the proceedings were made public to enable my opponents to allege that I might have defeated Simmons, and that my action was insincere. As a result I had no further political intercourse with Butler, and when the contest came in 1877 his action aided Mr. Hoar in securing the seat in the Senate. I presume, however, that Butler preferred my election, but he had hopes for himself, or at least that the election would go to a third party. A day or two before the election he sent me a friendly despatch urging me to go to Boston. I had already determined to avoid any personal participation in the contest. That non-interference I have never regretted.


As I now view the subject (1900) the Electoral Commission was an indefensible necessity. In the division of parties it seemed impossible, and probably it was impossible, to secure a result with peace to the country, except by a resort to extraordinary means.

When the bill passed the two houses the chances were with the Democrats. Judge Davis was in the list of judges from the Supreme Court. His sympathies, and perhaps his opinions, were with the Democratic Party, and there was reason to apprehend that he might incline to act with the Democratic members of the commission. After the passage of the bill Judge Davis was chosen Senator from Illinois, and Judge Strong became a member. Upon the pivotal questions the members acted upon their political opinions, or, most certainly in accordance with them.

I voted for the bill upon the understanding that there was no specific authority for such a proceeding. Indeed, the questions might have been referred to the mayors of New York and Brooklyn, upon grounds equally defensible in a legal point of view, although the tribunal selected was much better qualified for the duty. Having agreed to the use of an unconstitutional tribunal, or to an extra constitutional tribunal, I had no qualms about accepting the result. Nor was I especially gratified by the action of the commission. My connections with Mr. Conkling led me to think that he had great doubts about the propriety of the decision in the case of Louisiana, and that doubt may have led him to avoid the vote in the Senate.


As chairman of the Committee on the Revision of the Statutes, I framed and reported the amendments to the Revised Statutes, which were afterwards incorporated in the edition of 1878, which I prepared by the appointment of President Hayes after my term in the Senate expired, which was made probably, upon the recommendation of Attorney-General Devens and without any solicitation on my part, or by any of my friends, as far as I know.

The edition of 1878 contains references to every decision of the Supreme Court down to and including volume 194. It contains a reference to the decisions of the Supreme Court, all arranged and classified under the various sections, articles and paragraphs of that instrument. In doing this work I was compelled to read all the opinions of the Court from the beginning of the Government, so far, at least, as to understand the character of each opinion.

The preparation of the index was the work of months. Its value is great and the credit is due to Chief Justice Richardson who not only aided me, but he devised the plan and gave direction to the work as it went on. It was our rule to index every provision under at least three heads, and in many cases there is a sub-classification under the general designation. We avoided an error into which many writers fall—we never indexed under the lead of an adjective, article or participle.


In 1880, Mr. Evarts, the Secretary of State, invited me to act as counsel for the Government in defence of the claims of French citizens for losses sustained during the Civil War. There were more than seven hundred cases and the claims amounted to more than thirty-five million dollars including interest. The recoveries fell below six hundred and thirty thousand dollars. The printed record covered sixty thousand pages, and my printed arguments filled about two thousand pages. The discussion and decisions involved many important questions of international law, citizenship, the construction of treaties, and the laws of war.

The chairman was Baron de Arinos. He was a man of unassuming manners, of great intelligence, and of extensive acquaintance with diplomatic subjects. He was reserved, usually, but he was never lacking in ability when a subject had received full consideration at his hands. As far as I recall his decisions, when he had to dispose of cases on which the French and American commissioners differed, I cannot name one which appeared to be unjust.

The insignificant sum awarded was due to many circumstances. Of those, who as French citizens had suffered losses during the war, many had become American citizens by naturalization. Again others were natives of Alsace and Lorraine, and the commission held that they were not entitled to the protection of France in 1880 when the treaty was made. But the losses were chiefly due to the absence of adequate evidence as to the ownership of the property for which claims were made, and to the enormous exaggerations as to values in which the claimants indulged.


Between the year 1880 and the year 1895 there were five general courts- martial held in the city of Washington and I appeared for the defendants in four of them.

I was also retained for the investigation of two cases of officers of the Navy who had been convicted by courts-martial, one of them held in the waters of China and the other on the coast of Brazil. The latter, the case of Reed, which may be found in volume 100 of the United States Reports, became important as the first attempt by the Supreme Court to define and limit the jurisdiction of the civil tribunals over the proceedings of courts-martial.

The courts consist of thirteen officers of the service to which the accused may belong, and by a majority in number they are his seniors in rank, if the condition of the service will permit such a selection.

A court thus constituted is an imposing tribunal, and in dignity of appearance not inferior to the Supreme Court of the United States. The members are well instructed in the requirements of the service, but their knowledge of the science of law, especially in its technicalities, is limited. It is the theory of the system that the judge-advocate will be an impartial adviser of the court and that he will protect the accused against any irregular proceeding and especially protect him against the admission of any testimony that would be excluded in an ordinary court of law.

In fact, however, the judge advocate becomes the attorney of the Government, especially when the accused has the aid of counsel. His advice to the court becomes the rule of the court. Questions of testimony are important usually, and the line between what is competent and that which should be excluded is often a very delicate line. The judge should be a disinterested person. It is too much to assume that an advocate can in a moment transform himself into an impartial judge.

In the case of Reed, which was an application by a habeas corpus proceeding for the discharge of Reed from prison, the Supreme Court held that it could not examine the proceedings of the court-martial further than to inquire whether the act charged was an offence under the rules of the service, and, second, whether the punishment was one which the court had power to impose.

Thus it follows, that intermediate errors and wrongs whether by the exclusion or admission of testimony, or by corruption even, cannot be remedied by judicial tribunals on the civil side.

A partial remedy for possible evils may be found through the appointment of a judge from the civil courts, or of an experienced lawyer who should become the adviser of the court-martial, in place of the judge-advocate —thus leaving to him the duties of an attorney in behalf of the Government.


In the month of April, 1861, a bark, registering 215 tons, anchored in the bay of Port Libert, a place of no considerable importance, on the northerly coast of the island of Hayti, about twenty miles from the boundary of Santo Domingo. The vessel carried the flag of France, and the captain called himself Jules Letellier. The name of the vessel was not painted upon the stern, as is required by our law; but the captain gave her name as Guillaume Tell, bound from Havana to Havre. He stated that he had suffered a disaster at the island of Guadaloupe, and that he had been compelled to throw a part of his cargo overboard. He said also that his object in putting into the port was to obtain assistance for the recovery of his cargo; and for that purpose he solicited recruits. The authorities became suspicious of the craft, and an arrest was made of the vessel, her officers and men. After some delay the vessel was sent to Port au Prince, where she was condemned and confiscated upon the charge of being engaged "in piracy and slave- trading on the coast of Hayti."

Upon investigation it appeared that the true name of the vessel was William, and that the name of the captain was Antonio Pelletier. Pelletier was tried according to the laws of Hayti, convicted and sentenced to death. The sentence was commuted to imprisonment for a term of years. The facts of his arrest and of the sentence pronounced upon him were published in the New York Herald; and thereupon, as it appeared in the investigation that was afterward made, his wife married and, taking Pelletier's two children, left the country. Pelletier was kept in prison for about two years, when he escaped, probably with the connivance of the authorities. He returned to the United States. Previous to his escape he gained the confidence of the commissioner of the United States at Port au Prince, who made a report in his behalf and upon the ground that he had been arrested, tried and convicted for an offense of which he was not guilty.

That report was made to the Department of State, when Mr. Seward was Secretary of State. Mr. Seward declined to act, upon two grounds— first, it was not proved that Pelletier was a citizen of the United States; and second, the course of Hayti seemed justified by the facts as they then appeared. Pelletier presented a statement of his claim, amounting in all to about $2,500,000. He placed the value of the bark William and her cargo, with some money which he claimed was on her, at about $92,000. He claimed also that he had been subjected to many losses in business transactions, which he had been unable to consummate owing to his arrest in Hayti. These amounted to about $750,000. The most extraordinary claim was the claim for damages to his person, in the matter of his arrest and captivity, and the loss of his wife, children and home, for all of which he charged $300,000.

The claimant pressed his claim persistently to the State Department; and in the year 1884, when Mr. Frelinghuysen was Secretary of State, a protocol was entered into between him and Mr. Preston, then minister plenipotentiary of the republic of Hayti, by which this claim, with another large claim in behalf of A. H. Lazare against the republic of Hayti, was submitted to an international arbitrator,—the Hon. William Strong, formerly a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. The republic of Hayti retained Charles A. de Chambrun and myself as counsel for the defence. This hearing occupied one year of time, and the documents and the testimony taken covered two thousand printed pages. The investigation showed that Pelletier was born at Fontainebleau in France in the year 1819. At the age of fourteen he ran away from his home and country and came to the United States, where he found employment on board a ship, which was owned and navigated by one Blanchard of the State of Maine. From about the year 1835 to the year 1850, Pelletier was employed upon shipboard in various menial capacities, until finally he became master of several small vessels, which were employed on short voyages in the Caribbean Sea and on the coast of South America. About the year 1850 he appeared in the city of New York, and between that time and 1859 he was in the city of Chicago, where on one occasion and as the representative of some local party he was a candidate for alderman. He was also engaged for a time in the manufacture of boots and shoes at Troy, New York.

In the autumn of 1860 there appeared a statement in the newspapers that a bark called the William had been arrested and condemned at Key West upon the charge of having been fitted out for the slave trade. Guided by that notice, Pelletier went to Havana, and employed an agent to go to Key West and to purchase the bark. The purchase was made at a cost of $1,504. In Pelletier's statement of his claim, he asserted that he paid something over $10,000 for the vessel. From Key West the vessel was sent to Mobile in charge of a man named Thomas Collar, who became Pelletier's mate, but who was known on the vessel as Samuel Gerdon. At Mobile the William was fitted out for the voyage under the direction and apparent ownership of a firm in that city known as Delauney, Rice & Co., of which Pelletier claimed to be a member and proprietor to the extent of $50,000, the patrimony which he had received upon the death of his father. The vessel was freighted with lumber, and was cleared for Carthagena, New Granada, in October. She arrived at that port late in November. The investigation showed that a portion of the lumber was placed upon the deck when there was space below where it might have been stored. It appeared also that the vessel contained a large number of water casks, some twenty or twenty-five, about twenty pairs of manacles, a quantity of ammunition, and that the number of sailors was considerably in excess of the number required for the navigation of the vessel.

At Carthagena Pelletier made a contract with a colored man named Cortes, to carry him with his wife and children and servant to a point on the coast east of Carthagena, known as Rio de Hache. This contract he never performed. The original object of the voyage, as he alleged, was to obtain a cargo of guano, at an island which he named Buida. As a matter of fact, there is no such island, or at any rate none could be found on the maps, nor was its existence known to the officers of our Government who had been engaged in taking soundings in the Caribbean Sea.

While the William was at Carthagena, one of the men deserted and notified the commander of a British man-of-war that the object of the voyage of the bark William was a cargo of negroes to be carried to the United States and sold as slaves. Following the desertion of this man, Pelletier left Carthagena and, instead of proceeding to Rio de Hache, which was understood to be the destination of the British man-of- war, he took a northerly course toward the island of Grand Inagua. Upon this change of the course of the vessel, Cortes became alarmed for his safety, and he urged Pelletier to put him ashore, and especially for the reason that the shades of maternity were falling on his wife. After a delay of ten days, Pelletier consented to land him, which he did at Grand Inagua, and secured in payment the goods and effects which Cortes had on board the vessel, and which were understood to be of the value of $500 or more.

In the month of January, 1861, Pelletier arrived in the harbor of Port- au-Prince, Hayti, where he was accused of being engaged in a slave- trading expedition by five of his men whom he had landed and caused to be put in prison on the charge of insubordination. The authorities were so well convinced of the unlawful character of the expedition that they ordered Pelletier to leave without delay. He was conveyed out of the harbor by an armed vessel, and upon the understanding that he was to sail for New Orleans. As a matter of fact, however, he employed the months following, until April, in expeditions among the islands of the Caribbean Sea. In the course of the investigation, Pelletier appeared on the stand as a witness. In a series of questions which I put to him, I asked for the names of the vessels which he had commanded, previous to the voyage of the William. Among others he mentioned the Ardennes, which was an American ship, registered. It turned out upon further investigation that that ship was fitted out by him at Jacksonville in the year 1859, and cleared for the Canary Islands. Her cargo consisted of rum, sugar, cigars and tobacco. From the admission of Pelletier it appeared that he never reached the Canary Islands, but made the coast of Africa, near the mouth of the Congo River. Upon being pressed for a reason for the change, he stated that he had been driven there by a storm. We were able to cause an examination to be made of the records of the Pluto, a British man-of-war, that discovered the Ardennes near Magna Grand in April, 1859. The officers of the Pluto boarded the Ardennes, and made such an examination as they thought proper. The captain made this entry after an examination of the vessel's papers and register, namely: "Which, though not appearing to be correct, I did not detain or molest them." The Ardennes lingered in the vicinity of the mouth of the Congo, where she was arrested by the officers of the United States ship Marion, under command of Captain Brent. The results of the examination which he made and the circumstances of which he obtained knowledge were such that he took possession of the vessel and sent her to New York upon the charge of being engaged in the slave trade. The evidence produced at New York was not sufficient to lead the court to condemn her, but the judge gave a certificate that there was probable cause for her arrest.

The real character of the voyage of the William from Mobile was finally established beyond all controversy. In the year 1880, a treaty was made between the United States and France, by which an international commission was created for the purpose of determining the validity of claims made by citizens of the United States against France and of claims made by citizens of France against the United States. Among the claimants against the United States were two Frenchmen by the name of Le More, residents of New Orleans. At the time of the capture of New Orleans in the year 1862, these men had in their possession a large sum of money belonging to the Confederate government. By the proclamation of General Butler, made immediately upon the capture of the city, all intercourse with the Confederate authorities by residents of New Orleans was interdicted. Notwithstanding the proclamation, the Le Mores contrived to convey the funds in their possession across the line, and to procure their delivery to the Confederate authorities. General Butler, having obtained knowledge of this transaction, had the Le Mores brought before him. He then questioned them, and upon his own judgment and without trial he sent them as prisoners to Ship Island, where they were confined for a time with an attachment of a ball and chain. Each of these men presented a claim to the commission, and, there being no defence, an award of $20,000 was made to each. If General Butler had convened a military court or commission, as he should have done, and had obtained a conviction, as he would have obtained one, he would not have subjected the United States to the judgments which were rendered finally.

In that hearing, De Chambrun represented the Government of France and I represented the Government of the United States. Thus having knowledge of the Le Mores, who were yet in New Orleans, we applied to them for the purpose of ascertaining the character of Delauney, Rice & Co., and also whether there was any person living who had knowledge of the fitting out of the bark William. They found a man by the name of Louis Moses, who had been a resident of New Orleans since the year 1852, and who was well acquainted with the house of Delauney, Rice & Co., having transacted business for it, and who was himself concerned in the fitting out of the bark William. He had indeed invested, in one form or another, the sum of $15,000 in the enterprise, of which he had evidence in writing. He stated that the object of the voyage was to obtain a cargo of negroes in some of the islands of the Caribbean Sea, and to bring them to a desert island on the west bank of the Mississippi, near the mainland of Louisiana; in fine, that there was no purpose to obtain a cargo of guano.

When the hearing commenced, in the year 1884, Pelletier came before the arbitrator in perfect health and with the appearance of a man of ability and of fortune. After an acquaintance of about a year I was able to use this language in my final arguments: "It is a singular circumstance that Captain Pelletier has not produced an original paper or document in support of his claim. He is sixty years of age or more. He is a man not deficient in intellectual capacity, whatever else may be said of him. He is endowed by nature with ability for large and honest undertakings. He claims to have had an extensive business experience; to have been the possessor of large wealth; to have been trusted in fiduciary ways; and he comes here and claims compensation for a great outrage, as he alleges, upon his person and his rights; and yet he has not produced a paper that has the signature of any being, living or dead, by which he can sustain the claim he makes. What is his answer in regard to the absence of papers? It is that they were on board the bark William. According to the best information we can obtain, that bark was not less than twelve or fifteen years of age. We know that it did not much exceed two hundred tons burden. It was bound on a voyage into tempestuous seas; and, leaving behind him wealth, as he says, to be measured by the million, he embarks on that vessel with all his papers, including title deeds, articles of copartnership, powers of attorney, and preliminary accounts relating to unsettled affairs. He is a member of the house of Delauney, Rice & Co., in which he had deposited his patrimony to the extent of fifty thousand dollars; and he carries away on that frail bark all evidence of his investment in that firm. He had, he said, a partnership agreement; he had accounts of profits that had been rendered from time to time,—and all are gone. He had a dear wife and two children, for whose loss he now demands large compensation; and yet he carried away the evidence of which their right to his estate would have depended, in case of his death. The statement may be true, but in the nature of things it is not probable. That we may believe a statement of that sort, evidence is required, not from one man unknown, not from one man impeached, but from many men of reputable standing in society. It is not to be believed that a man who had been engaged in transactions measured by hundreds of thousands of dollars, through a period of ten years, should take every evidence of those transactions on board a vessel of hardly more than two hundred tons burden, manned by a crew composed of highbinders, as he has described them, and sail to foreign lands, over tempestuous seas, upon the poor pretext of procuring guano for the plantations of Louisiana,—and this, as he says, when war was imminent."

In my argument to the arbitrator I attempted to trace the voyage of the Ardennes and the voyage of the William with as much minuteness as seemed to me to be wise under the circumstances, and for the sole purpose of establishing the charge that Pelletier was engaged in the slave trade. The character of the voyage of the Ardennes was important in view of the rule of law that, in the trial of a person charged with the crime of slave-trading, evidence is admissible which tends to prove that the accused had been engaged in similar undertakings at about the same time.

My argument occupied the business hours of two sessions of the court. At the opening of the court Pelletier appeared, took a seat, and remained during the first thirty or forty minutes of my argument, when he disappeared. The New York Herald, on the morning of the third day after Pelletier's last appearance, contained the announcement that Antonio Pelletier had died suddenly at the Astor House in the city of New York. The hearing proceeded, and on the 30th day of June, 1885, Mr. Justice Strong filed his opinion in the Department of State. In that opinion, he says:

"I can hardly escape from the conviction that the voyage of the bark William was an illegal voyage; that its paramount purpose was to obtain a cargo of negroes, either by purchase or kidnaping, and bring them into slavery in the State of Louisiana; and that the load of lumber, and the profession of a purpose to go for a cargo of guano were mere covers to conceal the true character of the enterprise." He states also "that Pelletier had applied to a Haytian to obtain fifty men and some women, blacks, of course, to assist him in obtaining guano." The arbitrator found, however, that by the law of nations the courts of Hayti had no jurisdiction of the case. "It is undeniable," said Justice Strong, "that none of them were piratical in view of the law of nations."

By the act d'accusation Pelletier was charged with piracy and slave- trading on the coast of Hayti. The arbitrator found that he was not guilty of piracy and that the act of slave-trading was never committed, although the design and purpose of the voyage were perfectly clear. The claims as presented were all rejected by the arbitrator, except the claim for injury to Pelletier personally by his confinement in prison. For that injury the arbitrator allowed Pelletier the sum of $25 a day during his confinement, and the interest thereon up to the time the judgment was rendered, amounting in all to $57,250.

When the judgment had been rendered, the counsel for Hayti presented a memorial to the State Department, setting forth the impropriety and bad policy of a presentation by the Government of the United States of a judgment rendered in favor of a claimant who had been found guilty of fitting out a slave-trading expedition within the limits of the United States, and using the flag of the United States as a protection in the prosecution of his illegal undertaking. Mr. Bayard was then Secretary of State, and Mr. Cleveland was President. That view of the counsel of Hayti was accepted by the Secretary of State and by the President, and the government of Hayti was relieved from the payment of the claim. I ought to add that Mr. Justice Strong concurred with the counsel for Hayti, and made a representation to the Department of State urging the remission of the penalty in the judgment he had rendered.

The decision of Mr. Justice Strong raises a question of very serious character—that is to say, whether an international tribunal can take notice of proceedings in the judicial tribunals of a foreign state, further than to ascertain whether the proceedings were according to "due process of law" in the state where the proceedings were had. Justice Strong went so far as to hold that the courts of Hayti had erred upon the question of their own jurisdiction. Such a ruling, if applied to cases of public importance, might lead to very serious results.

[* Printed in the New England Magazine. Copyright, 1900, by Warren F. Kellogg.]



The services and fame of Mr. Lincoln are so identified with the organization, doings and character of the Republican Party, that something of the history of that party is the necessary incident of every attempt to set forth the services and the fame of Mr. Lincoln.

In a very important sense Mr. Lincoln may be regarded as the founder of the Republican Party. He was its leader in the first successful national contest, and it was during his administration as President that the policy of the party was developed and its capacity for the business of government established. The Republican Party gave to Mr. Lincoln the opportunity for the services on which his fame rests, and the fame of Mr. Lincoln is the inheritance of the Republican Party. His eulogy is its encomium, and therefore when we set forth the character and services of Mr. Lincoln we set forth as well the claims of the Republican Party to the gratitude and confidence of the country, and the favorable opinion of mankind.

If it could be assumed that for the Republican Party the Book of Life is already closed, it is yet true that that party is an historical party and Mr. Lincoln is an historical personage, not less so than Cromwell, Napoleon, or Washington, and all without the glamor that rests upon the brows of successful military chieftains.

Of Mr. Lincoln's predecessors in the Presidential office, two only, Washington and Jefferson, can be regarded as historical persons in a large view of history. The author of the Declaration of Independence is so identified with the history of the country that that history cannot outlast his name and fame.

As the author of that Declaration and as the exponent of new and advanced ideas of government, Jefferson was elected to the Presidency, but his administrations, excepting only the acquisition of Louisiana, were not marked by distinguished ability, nor were they attended or followed by results which have commanded the favorable opinion of succeeding generations.

Washington had no competitors. The gratitude of his countrymen rebuked all rivalries. He was borne to the Presidency by a vote quite unanimous, and he was supported in the discharge of his duties by a confidence not limited by the boundaries of the Republic.

It is only a moderate exaggeration to say that when Mr. Lincoln was nominated for the Presidency, he was an unknown man; he had performed no important public service; his election was not due to personal popularity, nor to the strength of the party that he represented; but to the divisions among his opponents.

In 1862, when eleven hostile States were not represented in the Government, the weakness of the administration was such that only a bare majority of the House of Representatives was secured after a vigorous and aggressive campaign on the part of the Republican Party. Thus do the circumstances and incidents of the formative period in Mr. Lincoln's career illustrate and adorn the events that distinguished the man, the party and the country.

I am quite conscious that in our attempt to give Mr. Lincoln a conspicuous place in the ranks of historical personages, we are to encounter a large and intelligent public opinion which claims that distance in time and even distance in space are the necessary conditions of a wise and permanent decision.

The representatives of that opinion maintain that contemporaries are too near the object of vision, that to them a comprehensive view is impossible, and that the successive generations of one's countrymen may be influenced by inherited passions, or by transmitted traditions.

Some of us were Mr. Lincoln's contemporaries, and one and all we are his countrymen, and in advance we accept joyfully any qualifications of our opinions that may be made in other lands or by other ages, if qualifying facts shall be disclosed hereafter. But nearness of observation, and a knowledge of the events with which Mr. Lincoln's public life was identified, may have given to his associates and co-workers opportunities for a sound judgment that were not possessed by contemporary critics and historians of other lands, and that the students of future times will be unable to command.

The recent practical improvements in the art of printing, the telegraph and the railway, have furnished to mankind the means of reaching safe conclusions in all matters of importance, including biography and history, with a celerity and certainty which to former ages were unknown. In these five and twenty years, since the death of Mr. Lincoln, there has been a wonderful exposition of the events and circumstances of the stupendous contest in which he was the leading figure, and all that knowledge is now consummated on the pages of Nicolay and Hay's complete and trustworthy history. Of the minor incidents of Mr. Lincoln's career, time and research will disclose many facts not now known, which may lend coloring to a character whose main features, however, cannot be changed by time nor criticism. The nature of Mr. Lincoln's services we can comprehend, but their value will be more clearly realized and more highly appreciated by posterity. As to the nature of those services the judgment of his own generation is final—it can never be reversed. Indeed, it may be asserted of historical personages generally, that the judgment of contemporaries is never reversed. Attempts have been made to reverse the judgment of contemporaries, in the cases of Judas Iscariot, of Henry the Eighth, and of Shakespeare, and I venture the assertion that all these attempts have failed, most signally. In our own country there have been no reversals. Modifications of opinions there have been—growth in some cases, decrease in others, but absolute change in none. The country has grown towards Hamilton and away from Jefferson. They are, however, as they were at the beginning of the last century, the representatives of antagonistic ideas in government, but their common patriotism is as yet unchallenged. It is the fate of those who take an active part in public affairs, to be misjudged during their lives, but death softens the asperities of political and religious controversies and tempers the judgment of those who survive. Franklin, Washington, Jackson, Clay and Webster, are to this generation what they were to the survivors of the respective generations to which they belonged. Mr. Calhoun has suffered by the attempt to make a practical application of his ideas of government, but the nature and dangerous character of those ideas were as fully understood at the time of his death as they are at the present moment.

I pass over as unworthy of serious consideration the detractions and attacks, sometimes thoughtless, and sometimes malicious, to which Mr. Lincoln was subject during his administration. He made explanations and replied to these detractions and attacks only when they seemed to put in peril the fortunes of the country; but when he made replies, there were none found, either among his political friends or his political enemies who were capable of making an adequate answer. Consult, as we may consult, his correspondence in regard to the transit of troops through Maryland, in regard to the invasion of Virginia, in case the city of Washington should be attacked or menaced from the right bank of the Potomac, in regard to the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, in regard to the arrest of Vallandingham, in regard to our foreign relations, and, finally, consult his numerous papers in regard to the objects for which the war should be prosecuted, and the means, as well, by which it could be prosecuted. Consider, also, that this work was done by a man called to the head of an administration that had no predecessor, to the management of the affairs of a government distracted by civil war, its navy scattered, its treasury bankrupted, its foreign relations disturbed by a traditional and almost universal hostility to republican institutions, and all while he was threatened constantly by an adverse public judgment in that section of the country in which his hopes rested exclusively. And consider, also, that Mr. Lincoln had had little or no experience on the statesmanship side of his political career, that as an attorney and advocate he had dealt only with local and municipal laws; that he was separated by circumstances from a practical acquaintance with maritime and international jurisprudence, and yet consider further with what masterful force he rebuked timid or untrustworthy friends who would have abandoned the contest and consented to the independence of the seceding States, in the vain hope that time might aid in the recovery of that which by pusillanimity had been lost; with what serenity of manner he put aside the suggestion of Mr. Seward that war should be declared against France and Spain as a means of quieting domestic difficulties which were even then represented by contending armies; with what calmness of mind he laid aside Mr. Greeley's letter of despair and self-reproach of July 29, 1861, and proceeded with the preparation of his programme of military operations from every base line of the armies of the Republic; with what skill and statesmanlike foresight he corrected Mr. Seward's letter to Mr. Adams in regard to the recognition by Great Britain of the belligerent character of the Confederate States; and, finally, consider with what firmness and wisdom he annulled the proclamations of Fremont and Hunter, and assumed to himself exclusively the right and the power to deal with the subject of slavery in the rebellious States. In what other time, to what other ruler have questions of such importance been presented, and under circumstances so difficult? And to what other ruler can we assign the ability to have met and to have managed successfully all the difficult problems of the Civil War? It cannot be claimed for Mr. Lincoln that he had had any instructive military experience, or that he had any technical knowledge of the military art; but it may be said with truth that his correspondence with the generals of the army, and his memoranda touching military operations indicate the presence of a military quality or facility, which in actual service might have been developed into talent or even genius. His letter to General McClellan, of October 13, 1862, is at once a memorable evidence and a striking illustration of his faculty on the military side of his official career. He sets forth specifically, and in the alternative, two plans of operation, and with skill and caustic severity he contrasts the inactivity and delays of General McClellan, with the vigor of policy and activity of movement which characterized the campaign on the part of the enemy. He brings in review the facts that General McClellan's army was superior in numbers, in equipment, and in all the material of war. The President in conclusion said: "this letter is not to be considered as an order," and yet it is difficult to reconcile the continued inactivity of General McClellan with the claim of his friends that he was a patriotic, not to say an active, supporter of the cause of the Union. With that letter in hand a patriotic and sensitive commander would have acted at once upon one of the alternatives presented by the President, or he would have formed a plan of campaign for himself and ordered a movement without delay, or he would have asked the President to relieve him from duty. No one of these courses was adopted, and the policy of inactivity was continued until Lee regained the vantage ground which he abandoned when he crossed the Potomac into Maryland. It is at this point, and in this juncture of affairs that the policy of Mr. Lincoln requires the explanation of a friendly critic. The historian of the future may wonder at the procrastination of the President. He may criticize his conduct in neglecting to relieve McClellan when it was apparent that he would not avail himself of the advantages that were presented by the victory at Antietam. The explanation or apology, is this, in substance: The Army of the Potomac had been created under the eye of McClellan and the officers and men were devoted to him as their leader and chief. They had had no opportunity for instituting comparisons between him and other military men. After Pope's defeat, the army had been unanimous, substantially, in the opinion that McClellan should be again placed in command. The President had yielded to that opinion against his own judgment, and against the unanimous opinion of his Cabinet. Having thus yielded, it was wise to test McClellan until the confidence of the army and the country should be impaired, or, as the President hoped would be the result, until McClellan should satisfy the Administration and the army, that he was equal to the duty imposed upon him. Hence the delay until the 5th of November, when McClellan was relieved, finally, from the military service of the country.

It was known to those who were near President Lincoln, that he was a careful student of the war maps and that he had daily knowledge of the position and strength of our armies. I recall the incident of meeting President Lincoln on the steps of the Executive Mansion at about eleven o'clock in the evening of the day when the news had but just reached Washington that Grant had crossed the Black River and that the army was in the rear of Vicksburg. The President was returning from the War Office with a copy of the despatch in his hand. I said:—

"Mr. President, have you any news?" He said in reply:

"Come in, and I will tell you."

After reading the despatch, the President turned to his maps and traced the line of Grant's movements as he then understood and comprehended those movements. That night the President became cheerful, his voice took on a new tone—a tone of relief, of exhilaration—and it was evident that his faith in our ultimate success had been changed into absolute confidence. In the dark days of 1862 he had never despaired of the Republic, when others faltered, he was undismayed. He put aside the suggestion of Mr. Seward that he should surrender the chief prerogative of his office; he rebuked the suggestion of General Hooker that he should declare himself dictator; and he treated with silent contempt the advice of General McClellan, from Harrison's Landing, in July, 1862, that the President should put himself at the head of the army with a general in command, on whom he could rely, and thus assume the dictatorship of the Republic. He asserted for himself every prerogative that the laws and the Constitution conferred upon him, and he declined to assume any power not warranted by the title of office which he held. He was resolute in his purpose to perform every duty that devolved upon him, but he declared that the responsibility of preserving the Government rested upon the people.

Of the officers who successively were at the head of the Army of the Potomac, none ever possessed his entire confidence, until General Grant assumed that command, in person. His letter to General Grant when he entered upon the Campaign of the Wilderness contains conclusive evidence that his confidence was given to that officer, without reservation.

Turning again to the civil side of his administration, consider the steps by which he led the country up to the point where it was willing to accept the abolition of slavery in the States engaged in the rebellion. History must soon address itself to generations of Americans who will have had no knowledge of the institution of slavery as an existing fact. Indeed, at the present moment, more than two thirds of the population of the United States have no memory of the time when slavery was the dominating force in the politics of the country, when it was interwoven in the daily domestic life of the inhabitants of fifteen States; when it muzzled the press, perverted the Scriptures, compelled the pulpit to become its apologist, and when successive generations of statesmen were brought down on an "equality of servitude" before an irresponsible and untitled oligarchy.

As early as 1839, Mr. Clay estimated the value of the slaves at $1,200,000,000, and upon the same basis, their value in 1860, exceeded $2,000,000,000. This estimate conveys only an inadequate idea of the power of slavery and it presents only an imperfect view of the difficulties which confronted Mr. Lincoln in 1861 and 1862. Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri were slave States, and all of them, with the exception of Delaware, were hesitating between secession and the cause of the Union. They were in favor of the Union, if slavery could be saved with the Union, but it was doubtful in all the year 1861, whether those States could be held, to the "Lincoln Government" as it was derisively called, if the abolition of slavery were a recognized part of our public policy. Nor is this even yet a full statement of the difficulties which confronted Mr. Lincoln. With varying degrees of intensity, the Democratic Party of the North sympathized with the South in its attempts to dissolve the Union. During the entire period of the war, New York, Ohio and Indiana were divided States, and Indiana was only kept in line by the active and desperate fidelity of Oliver P. Morton. In the presence of these difficulties Mr. Lincoln recommended the purchase of all the slaves in the States not in rebellion; then he suggested the deportation of the manumitted slaves and the free blacks, to Central America, and for this purpose an appropriation was made; then came the proposition to give pecuniary aid to States that might voluntarily make provision for the abolition of slavery, and then came, finally, the statute of July, 1862, by which slaves captured, and the slaves of all persons engaged in the rebellion were declared to be free. It is not probable that Mr. Lincoln entertained the opinion that these measures, one or all, would secure the complete abolition of slavery, but they gave to the slave- holders of the border States an opportunity to obtain compensation for the loss of their slaves, and the pendency of these propositions occupied the attention of the country while the formative processes were going on, which matured finally in the opinion that slavery and the Union could no longer co-exist. In the same time the country arrived at the conclusion that separation and continuous peace were impossible. The alternative was this: Slavery, a division of territory, and a condition of permanent hostility on the one side; and on the other, a union of States, domestic peace, a government of imperial power, with equality of citizenship in the States and an equality of States in the Union. Thus his measures, which were at once measures of expediency and of delay, prepared the public mind to receive his monitory Proclamation of September 1862. In that time the border States had come to realize the fact that the negroes were no longer valuable as property, and they therefore accepted emancipation as a means of ending the controversy. To the Republicans of the North, the Proclamation was a welcome message; to the Democrats it was a result which they had predicted, and against which they had in vain protested. But the controversy would not have ended with the war. Slavery existed in the States that had not participated in the rebellion, and the legality of the Emancipation Proclamation might be drawn in question in the courts. One thing more was wanted, an amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery everywhere within the jurisdiction of the Government. This was secured after a protracted struggle, and the result was due in a pre-eminent degree to the personal and official influence of Mr. Lincoln. In one phrase it may be said that every power of his office was exerted to secure the passage, in the Thirty-eighth Congress, of the resolution, by which the proposed amendment was submitted to the States. Mr. Lincoln did not live to see the consummation of his great undertaking, in the cause of Freedom, but the work of ratification by the States was accelerated by his death, and on the 18th day of December, 1865, Mr. Seward, then Secretary of State of the United States, made proclamation that the amendment had been ratified by twenty-seven of the thirty-six States then composing the Union, and that slavery and involuntary servitude were from that time and forever forth impossible within our limits. Such was then the universal opinion in all America. It was our example that wrought the abolition of slavery in Brazil, and in colonies of Spain and Portugal; it has led to the extermination of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and it was an inspiration to the nations of Europe in their effort to destroy the traffic in human beings on the continent of Africa.

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