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COLONEL  A.    K.    McCLURE. 


COLONEL 

ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

RECOLLECTIONS 

OP 

HALF  A  CENTURY 


483074 

•5.     4-. 


Author  of  "Lincoln  and  Men  of  War  Times,"  "Our  Presidents 

and  How  We  Make  Them,"  "Three  Thousand  Miles 

Through  the  Rocky  Mountains,"  "The  South," 

"To  The  Pacific  and  Mexico." 


PUBLISHED  BY 

THE  SAI,EM  PRESS  COMPANY 
SALEM,  MASS. 


Copyright,  1902 
BY  ALEXANDER  K.  MCCLURE 


Salem   prces : 

THE  SALEM  PRESS  Co.,  SALEM,  MASS. 
1902 


CONTENTS. 


MATCHLESS  PROGRESS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY,        .....  i 

The  greatest  achievements  of  the  world's   history. — Political  battles  of 
the  olden  times. — Decline  of  popular  oratory. 

ABRAHAM  LINCOLN  AND  JEFFERSON  DAVIS,         .....  8 

The  Presidents  of  our  Civil  War — The  difference  in  their  birth,  educa- 
tion and  personal  attributes. 

CHRISTIANA   AND    HARPER'S    FERRY — THE   FIRST   BATTLES  OF  OUR 

CIVIL  WAR, 18 

The  conflict    at  Christiana,   Pa.,  the  preliminary  skirmish  of  the  four 
years'  struggle. 

THE  BATTLE  OF  BRODERICK,   BAKER  AND   MCKIBBIN  TO  HOLD  THE 

PACIFIC  REGION  TO  THE  UNION, 29 

The  story  of  the  distinguished  and   romantic  careers  of  the  three  men 
who  contributed  most  to  shape  the  destiny  of  the  Pacific  Slope. 

GALES  AND  BLAIR,  THE  GREAT  EDITORS  OF  OLDEN  TIME,  .        .  37 

Joseph  Gales  of  the  National  Intelligencer,  and  Francis  Preston  Blair 
of  the  Washington  Globe. 

IF  THEY  HAD  NOT  FIRED  ON  SUMTER, 48 

The  Southern  Confederacy   was   a  colossal    suicide.— The    North  was 
forced  to  unity  in  support  of  coercion  by  the  firing  on  Sumter. 

THE  ERA  OF  GOOD  FEELING  AND  OF  CONVULSION,      ....  60 

The   flood-tide   »f  hate    that   convulsed   the    country   under  Johnson's 
administration  without  parallel  in  history  of  the  country. 

THE  PACIFIC  RAILWAY  AND  THE  SALE  OF  CHIHUAHUA,       ...  70 

Inner  history  of  the  construction  of  the  first  Pacific  Railway. — Story  of 
the  concession  of  lower  California  by  President  Juarez. 

FILLMORE,     PIERCE,     BUCHANAN,    LINCOLN    AND    JOHNSON    IN   THE 

WHITE   HOUSE, 79 

First  visit  to  the  White  House  in   1851.— Lincoln  seen  under  all  condi- 
tions and  circumstances.— Reminiscences  of  first  ladies  of  the  land. 

GRANT  AS  CHIEFTAIN  AND  PRESIDENT,        ......  89 

How  difficult  Grant  found  it  to  enter  the  army  in   1861.— His  epigram- 
matic dispatches  and  letters.— Personal  incidents  of  Grant's  later  life. 

THE  HAYES  ELECTION  AND  ADMINISTRATION, 98 

The  Presidential  contest  that  required  an  electoral  commission  to  decide 
it.— Incidents  of  the  struggle. 

(iii) 


iv  CONTENTS. 

GARFIELD  AND  His  BRIEF  ADMINISTRATION, 106 

His  hard  struggles  of  early  life.— His  distinction  as  scholar,  teacher, 
preacher,  general  and  statesman. 

ARTHUR  AND  His  SUCCESSFUL  ADMINISTRATION,  .        .        .        .  115 

How  he  was  dismissed  from  the  New  York  collectorship  and  two 
years  later  became  president. — First  distrusted  and  later  honored  as 
president. 

CLEVELAND'S  THREE  CONTESTS  AND  Two  ADMINISTRATIONS,       .        ,  124 

His  strong  personality  in  public  life. — Heroic  acts  when  great  emer- 
gencies arose. — Mrs.  Cleveland  model  mother  and  woman. 

HARRISON'S  VICTORY  AND  DEFEAT, 134 

Severely  devoted  to  public  and  private  duty. — An  able,  patriotic  and 
laborious  president. — Incidents  exhibiting  his  personal  qualities. 

MCKINLEY'S  TRIUMPH  AND  TRAGIC  DEATH, 145 

The  private  soldier.— The  leader  of  the  House.— The  re-elected  president 
by  the  largest  popular  majority.— The  ideal  statesman  and  citizen. 

THE  SHADOWS  OF  OITR  GREAT  NATIONAL  CONTESTS,    ....  154 

How  Burr,  Clay,  Webster,  Calhoun,  Scott,  Greeley,  Blaine  and  others 
drank  the  cup  of  disappointment  to  the  dregs. 

SAM  HOUSTON'S  BRILLIANT  AND  ROMANTIC  CAREER,    .        ...  164 

Twice  president  of  one  republic. — National  senator  in  two  republics. — 
Governor  of  two  states.— His  victorious  fight  for  Texas'  independence 
with  raw  recruits. 

THE  LOUISIANA  LOTTERY  ROBBERY, 173 

How  it  got  its  charter  from  the  state.— The  libel  suits  against  the  writer 
and  how  they  hastened  its  overthrow. 

THOMAS  CORWIN,  THE  GREATEST  OF  OUR  POPULAR  ORATORS,     .        .  184 

His  great  speech  on  the  Mexican  war.— His  matchless  eloquence,  wit 
and  invective.— His  brilliant  argument  of  a  divorce  case  before  the 
Pennsylvania  legislature. 

KOSSUTH,  THE  GREAT  APOSTLE  OF  LIBERTY, 192 

Personal  incidents  of  Kossuth's  visit  to  the  United  States. — His  recep- 
tion by  Congress  and  the  Executive. — His  death  in  poverty  without 
home  or  country. 

OUR  BEAUTIFUL  NATIONAL  CAPITAL, 203 

Transformed  in  forty  years  from  dilapidation  and  mud  to  elegance  in 
architecture  and  streets.— The  men  then  famed  in  field  and  forum.— 
Governor  Shepard  who  literally  created  the  beautiful  city  now  in  the 
mountains  of  Mexico. 

WHY  SEWARD  COULD  NOT  BE  PRESIDENT, 212 

His  proposed  division  of  the  school  fund  with  the  Catholics  made  the 
American  party  hostile. — His  great  record  as  a  Republican  leader. 

BROWNLOW  AND  VALLANDIGHAM, 222 

Interesting  career  of  the  two  men  who  aggressively  revolted  against 
their  own  people  during  the  Civil  War. 


CONTENTS.  v 

WlLMOT  AND  THE  WlLMOT  PROVISO, 232- 

His  name  was  interwoven  with  every  political  discussion  in  his  time. 
— His  unique  position  on  slavery  and  the  tariff. 

PATHETIC  ECHOES  OF  LINCOLN  ASSASSINATION,     .....  241 

The  terrible  sorrows  which  fell  upon  Edwin  Booth  and  John  S.  Clarke 
and  their  households. — The  sad  story  of  their  lives  after  the  assassina- 
tion. 

THE  RISE  AND  FALL  OF  THE  NEGRO  IN  POLITICS,       ....  250 

The  first  negro  elected  to  the  House  was  rejected. — Long  hesitation  of 
the  Senate  to  admit  the  first  negro  senator. 

ROBERT  E.  LEE,  ONE  OF  THE  GREAT  COMMANDERS  OF  THE  CENTURY,  259 

His  defensive  battles  faultless  in  conception  and  execution. — He  did 
not  favor  the  Gettysburg  campaign.— His  gentleness  and  attributes  as 
a  soldier  and  gentleman. 

THOMAS  H.  BENTON,  THE -LEADER  IN  WESTERN  PROGRESS,         .        .  269 

His  wonderful  appreciation  of  the  West  and  his  ceaseless  efforts  for 
its  advancement. — Jeered  as  a  dreamer  when  he  proposed  the  Pacific 
railway. — His  great  work  in  the  Missouri  compromise  of  1820. 

WESTERN  RAILWAYS  AND  ROCKY  COACHES  A  GENERATION  AGO,         .  278 

Crossing  the  plains  and  Rockies  a  generation  ago  compared  with  the 
present. — Conflicts  with  the  Indians  in  early  coaching  days. 

HENRY  WILSON — NATICK  COBBLER  AND  VICE  PRESIDENT,    .        .        ,  287 

A  career  worthy  of  the  study  of  the  young  men  of  today. — One  of  the 
most  beloved  and  useful  of  our  great  senators. 

THE  STORY  OF  RECONSTRUCTION, 295 

Lincoln  opposed  to  all  retributive  methods  and  universal  negro  suf- 
frage.— Party  necessity  enfranchised  the  negroes. 

JAMES  L.  ORR, 304 

Opposed  Nullification  and  Secession  but  followed  his  State. — Congress, 
man,  Speaker,  Confederate  Senator,  Governor,  Judge  and  Minister  to 
Russia. 

GRANT  AND  MCCLELLAN,  THE  AGGRESSIVE  AND  THE  DEFENSIVE  GEN- 
ERAL,    313 

Their  military  theories  and  methods  contrasted.— Lincoln's  relation  to 
McClellan  correctly  presented. 

SHERIDAN  AND  JACKSON,  THE  GREAT  LIEUTENANTS  OF  THE  WAR,       .  322 

Their  brilliant  military  records  recounted. — Their  achievements  grander 
than  the  victories  of  Napoleon's  marshals. 

GENERAL  WM.  T.  SHERMAN,  THE  GENIUS  OF  THE  UNION  ARMY,        .  331 

Relieved  of  command  in  Kentucky  in  1861  as  a  lunatic. — His  personal 
qualities. — The  criticism  of  his  destruction  ef  Atlanta,  and  the  retri- 
bution he  inflicted  on  South  Carolina. 

THE  UNFORTUNATE  COMMANDERS  OF  THE  ARMY  OF  THE  POTOMAC,     .  341 

McDowell,  McClellan,  Burnside,  Hooker  and  Meade. — No  great  army 
in  any  modern  war  so  unfortunate  in  its  commanders. 


vi  CONTENTS. 

ALEXANDER  H.  STEPHENS,  ONE  OF  THE  ABLEST  AND  MOST  UNIQUE 

OF  SOUTHERN  LEADERS, 353 

An  earnest  opponent  of  the  secession  movement. — Almost  caused  a 
revolt  in  Georgia  against  the  Confederate  government. 

PRINCE  HENRY  AND  OTHER  ROYAL  VISITORS,       .....  362 

Louis  Philippe  and  Jerome  Bonaparte  came  as  incipient  royalists. — 
Interesting  incidents  of  the  visits  of  the  Prince  of  Wales,  Prince 
Alexis  and  Emperor  Dom  Pedro. 

THE  DEADLY  STRUGGLE  IN  THE  BORDER  STATES,         .        .        .        .  371 

Neighbors,  families  and  relations  brought  into  conflict  by  the  great 
political  issue. — The  sorrows  and  sacrifices  of  John  J.  Crittenden  and 
George  D.  Prentice  tell  the  common  story. 

THE  TEMPEST  OF  SECTIONAL  PASSION, 379 

The  retaliatory  and  murderous  laws  and  proclamations  of  both  North 
and  South.— General  Butler's  experience.— Other  incidents  of  the  reign 
of  passion. 

SUMNER,  BOUTWELL  AND   CHASE, 389 

Three  great  Republican  leaders  called  to  statesmanship  by  the  Demo- 
crats.—Incidents  in  their  careers. 

HENRY  W.  GRADY  AND  THE  NEW  SOUTH 398 

The  "Leader  of  Leaders"  in  creating  the  New  South.— His  part  in 
getting  Longstreet's  defence  of  his  responsibility  in  the  battle  of  Gettys- 
burg.— His  famous  speech  at  the  banquet  of  the  New  England  Society 
of  New  York. 

WADE  HAMPTON,  CHIVALRIC  SOLDIER  AND  STATESMAN,      .        .        .  406 

His  military  and  political  career. — His  invasion  of  Chambersburg  with 
a  cavalry  force,  and  first  meeting  with  the  writer.— War  left  him  bank- 
rupt. 

THADDEUS  STEVENS,  THE  COMMONER  OF  THE  CIVIL  WAR,          .  415 

Only  two  commoners  in  the  history  of  the  Republic.— Their  personali- 
ties compared.— No  other  of  our  great  men  so  misunderstood. 

ROBERT  G.  INGERSOLL,  THE  GREAT  AGNOSTIC  OF  THE  CENTURY,         .  424 

His  great  speech  nominating  Elaine  for  President.— His  career  as 
politician.— Opponent  of  revelation. 

SMIRCHING  FAME  OF  HEROES, 432 

General  Fitz  John  Porter,  General  G.  K.  Warren,  and  Surgeon  General 
William  A.  Hammond,  who  suffered  degradation  and  dishonor  in  Civil 
War. — Later  vindication. — Schley  controversy  referred  to. 

SAMUEL  J.  RANDALL. — His  STERN  INTEGRITY  IN  PUBLIC  LIFE,  .  441 

Congressman  for  28  consecutive  years.— Thrice  Speaker.— Prominent 
candidate  for  President. 

JOHN  SHERMAN,  AUTHOR  OF  REDEMPTION, 450 

His  great  service  in  restoring  the  Union  to  specie  payment. — Served 
longer  in  the  Senate  than  any  other  senator. — Great  achievements  and 
great  disappointments. 


CONTENTS.  vii 

FINANCIAL  PROGRESS  OF  THE  REPUBLIC 459 

From  a  money  circulation  of  $455,000,000  and  less  than  $14  per  capita, 
we  now  have  a  circulation  of  over  two  billion  and  nearly  $30  per 
capita. 

EARLY  WAR  DELUSIONS, 468 

Confidence  in  early  victory. — Abolition  of  slavery  not  a  purpose. -No 
idea  of  the  magnitude  of  the  war. — Interesting-  ride  with  Lincoln  and 
others. 

OUR  THREE  EXPANSION  EPOCHS, 476 

The  great  speeches  of  Quincy,  Corwin  and  Hoar  against  the  policies 
of  Jefferson,  Polk  and  McKinley.— The  proud  position  of  the  Republic 
today. 


LIST  OF  ILLUSTRATIONS. 


COL.   A.   K     McCLURE   IN    1902, Frontispiece. 

COL.  A.  K.  MCCLURE  AT  19, 4 

GROUP  OF  PRESIDENTS  KNOWN  PERSONALLY  BY  COL.  MCCLURE,          .  80 

COL.  A.  K.  MCCLURE  IN  1861, 210 

GROUP  OF  CONFEDERATE  COMMANDERS,            256 

COL.  A.  K.  MCCLURE  IN  1870, .        .  304 

GROUP  OF  UNION  COMMANDERS,       .        . 320 

PRIVATE  CHECK, 462 


(Tiii) 


MATCHLESS  PROGRESS  OF  THE 
REPUBLIC. 

The  last  half  century  has  written  the  most  brilliant  records 
ever  given  in  the  same  period  to  the  annals  of  the  world's  his- 
tory, in  every  attribute  of  civilized  advancement.  Progress  has 
been  unexampled  in  art,  in  science,  in  industry,  in  commerce,  in 
finance  and  trade,  as  well  as  in  achievement  in  field  and  forum. 
The  great  republic  of  the  new  world  has  vastly  outstripped  the 
progress  of  any  other  half  century,  or  indeed,  of  any  full  century 
since  the  world  was. 

I  shall  give  in  these  chapters  of  random  recollections  impor- 
tant contributions  to  history,  made  especially  entertaining  and 
instructive  by  personal  knowledge  and  incident.  After  more 
than  fifty  years  of  active  participation  in  political  and  public  af- 
fairs, and  most  of  the  time  closely  related  to  the  great  political 
movements  of  all  parties  in  State  and  nation,  with  personal  ac- 
quaintance more  or  less  intimate  with  the  leading  chieftains  of 
peace  and  war,  I  hope  to  furnish  new  and  fresh  contributions  to 
the  history  of  our  great  Republic  outside  of  the  ordinary  lines  of 
historical  record. 

There  never  was  a  period  in  the  history  of  our  country  when 
its  achievements  inspired  a  higher  and  wider  measure  of  pride 
among  all  classes  and  conditions,  or  when  the  desire  to  study  the 
progress  of  the  great  republic  of  the  world  was  so  general  among 
the  new  generation  that  knows  of  our  great  civil  war  only  as  his- 
tory records  it,  while  the  few  survivors  of  the  sore  trials  of  the 
fiame  of  battle  and  of  reconstruction  cherish  everything  relating 
to  them  as  the  most  grateful  memories  of  their  lives.  All  know 
that  in  fraternal  conflict  the  heroism  of  the  Blue  and  Gray  pales 
Grecian  and  Roman  story,  and  that  the  American  statesmanship 
that  was  confronted  in  war  and  reconstruction  by  the  gravest 
problems  in  the  history  of  any  nation,  solved  them  even  in  the 
fiercest  tempest  of  sectional  passions,  to  stand  as  an  enduring 
monument  of  the  grandeur  of  the  civil  powers  of  the  nation  that 

(0 


2  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

had  won  the  grandest  homage  from  the  world  for  its  achieve- 
ments in  war. 

The  progress  of  this  republic  in  the  brief  span  of  a  single  life 
seems  like  a  romance  born  of  the  most  latitudinous  imagery. 
When  I  first  saw  the  light  of  day  there  was  not  a  single  steam- 
ship on  any  of  the  seas  of  the  world;  there  was  not  a  train  of 
cars  drawn  by  a  locomotive;  the  magnetic  telegraph  was  not  even 
noted  in  the  wildest  of  dreams;  there  was  not  a  single  State  west 
of  the  Father  of  Waters  with  the  exception  of  Missouri  and  part 
of  Louisiana ;  the  great  Northwest,  now  presenting  an  unbroken 
galaxy  of  mighty  and  prosperous  commonwealths,  was  then  an 
unexplored  wilderness,  and  a  large  portion  of  the  Western  coun- 
try now  possessing  a  thriving  population  and  clothed  with  State- 
hood, appeared  on  our  school  atlas  as  the  Great  American  Des- 
ert. The  boundless  wealth  of  the  Rocky  Mountains  was  un- 
known, even  to  the  dusky  sons  of  the  forest,  who  peopled  that 
region  from  prehistoric  times,  and  the  now  rich  slopes  of  the 
Pacific,  with  its  golden  gate,  had  only  a  straggling  semi-barbaric 
race.  Ohio  was  known  as  the  "backwoods,"  where  the  sturdy 
pioneers  were  yet  struggling  with  the  Indians,  and  ordinary  let- 
ter postage  between  the  East  and  the  remote  regions  of  the  new 
Buckeye  State  was  37^  cents. 

There  was  then  great  pride  among  the  people  that  the  new  re- 
public had  grown  from  a  population  of  three  millions  to  a  popu- 
lation of  twelve  millions.  It  was  regarded  as  an  epoch  of  match- 
less progress,  as  Pennsylvania  and  New  York  had  each  com- 
pleted great  water  highways  between  the  sleacoast,  the  lakes  and 
Western  rivers,  and  considering  the  feeble  resources  of  that  age, 
their  achievements  in  the  line  of  advancement  were  as  heroic  as 
any  of  the  present  time.  Today  we  have  an  unbroken  line  of 
sovereign  States  from  the  Eastern  to  the  Western  sea,  from 
Northern  lake  to  Southern  gulf,  with  great  possessions  in  the 
West  Indies,  and  holding  the  gateway  of  the  world  in  the  Orient, 
and  eighty  millions  of  the  most  intelligent  and  prosperous  peo- 
ple of  the  world  enjoying  the  priceless  blessings  of  our  free  in- 
stitutions. 

There  is  not  a  political  party  now  known  that  had  existence 
seventy  years  ago,  although  the  Democratic  party  may  be 
reasonably  claimed  to  be  the  successor  of  the  Republican  party 
founded  by  Jefferson,  that  dominated  the  government  until  the 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  3 

advent  of  Jackson,  who  was  first  a  candidate  for,  President  as  a 
Democratic  Republican  to  distinguish  him  from  the  National 
Republicanism  of  Adams  and  Clay.  I  have  witnessed  the  crea- 
tion of  four  political  parties  which  have  risen  to  national  promi- 
nence, two  of  which  have  elected  Presidents  and  three  of  which 
have  elected  Governors  of  Pennsylvania.  The  Federal  party 
was  utterly  overthrown  as  a  national  political  factor  when  Jef- 
ferson defeated  Adams,  although  it  maintained  its  vitality  in 
New  England  and  other  States,  and  elected  Buchanan  to  Con- 
gress and  Finley  Governor  of  Pennsylvania  in  1820. 

The  organization  of  the  Anti-Masonic  party,  founded  on  the 
single  principle  of  opposition  to  secret  societies,  and  inspired  to 
aggressive  action  by  the  alleged  murder  of  Morgan,  was  a  wel- 
come refuge  for  the  scattered  Federal  forces  and  it  became  a 
formidable  opposition  to  the  ruling  political  power  of  the  coun- 
try. It  eliected  Ritner  Governor  of  Pennsylvania  in  1835,  and 
was  the  first  political  party  of  the  country  to  hold  a  national  con- 
vention for  the  nomination  of  Presidential  candidates,  in  1831. 
The  party  founded  on  a  single  idea,  and  that  a  perishable  one, 
speedily  waned  in  power,  and  the  great  Whig  party  was  organ- 
ized in  1834,  and  displayed  startling  strength  in  the  national 
contest  of  1836  by  the  support  it  gave  to  Harrison.  It  elected 
two  Presidents — Harrison  in  1840,  and  Taylor  in  1848 — and  suf- 
fered two  defeats  with  Clay  and  Scott  as  its  leaders,  the  Clay 
contest  standing  out  in  the  political  history  of  the  nation  as  one 
of  the  greatest  political  battles  of  our  history. 

With  the  overwhelming  defeat  of  Scott  in  1852,  the  mission  of 
the  Whig  party  was  ended,  and  the  general  Whig  disintegration 
and  the  Democratic  'disaffection  because  of  the  repeal  of  the 
Alissouri  Compromise  in  1854,  gave  a  most  inviting  field  for  the 
new  American  party  with  its  secret  organization,  and  it  presents 
the  most  revolutionary  political  records  in  many  States  and  cities 
which  have  ever  been  recorded  in  our  political  conflicts.  It  was 
an  important  factor  with  Fillmore  as  its  candidate  for  President 
in  1856,  but  the  Republican  party  had  then  made  its  lodgment, 
sustained  by  the  most  positive  and  earnest  convictions  on  the 
slavery  issue,  and  it  won  the  great  Lincoln  battle  in  1860,  ac- 
cepted Civil  War,  abolished  slavery,  gave  the  nation  the  only 
sound  financial  system  it  has  ever  known,  and  has  practically 
ruled  the  destiny  of  the  republic  for  more  than  forty  years. 


4  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

Cleveland  was  twice  President,  elected  by  the  Democrats,  but 
with  all  the  vigor  of  his  rule  he  only  halted  for  a  time  the  mastery 
of  Republicanism.  To  these  may  be  added  the  Greenback  party 
that  became  a  national  organization  in  1868,  the  Prohibition 
party  that  first  appeared  in  national  politics  in  1872,  and  the 
Populist  party  favoring  the  free  coinage  of  silver,  that  absorbed 
the  Greenback  followers  and  polled  over  one  million  votes  in 
1892.  There  have  been  several  other  socialistic  parties  which 
presented  national  candidates  at  the  last  Presidential  election, 
but  their  following  was  so  feeble  as  to  deny  them  recognition  as 
national  political  factors. 

My  first  distinct  recollection  of  a  Presidential  battle  was  the 
contest  between  Harrison  and  Van  Buren  in  1840,  and  in  no 
way  could  the  extraordinary  advancement  of  the  country  be  bet- 
ter illustrated  than  by  presenting  the  political  conditions  which 
then  existed.  I  recall  it  of  course,  only  as  an  enthusiastic  boy 
sharing  the  general  infection  that  made  the  people  spontaneously 
hurrah  for  "Tippecanoe  and  Tyler  too,"  and  shout  the  songs 
which  were  heard  at  almost  every  cross  roads.  Even  in  the  most 
primitive  communities  rude  log  cabins  were  constructed  as  em- 
blematic of  the  Harrison  cause,  and  hard  cider,  or  cider  whether 
hard  or  soft,  was  drunk  with  the  wildest  huzzas.  The  country 
was  sorely  depressed,  labor  was  unemployed,  money  was  an  al- 
most unknown  commodity  among  the  people,  and  what  little 
there  was  came  from  banks,  many  of  which  were  founded  on  the 
wild  cat  theory,  and  the  Whigs  in  song  and  story  promised  the 
working  men  "$2  a  day  and  roast  beef."  It  was  a  most  inspiring 
and  practical  slogan,  and  all  classes  and  conditions  became  ear- 
nestly enlisted  in  the  struggle.  It  brought  a  new  type  of  oratory 
to  the  front  that  was  illustrated  in  its  highest  line  by  the  cele- 
brated "Buck  Eye  Blacksmith,"  who,  with  horny  hands  and 
fluent  speech,  coarse  wit  and  coarser  invective,  rallied  the  masses 
into  the  most  enthusiastic  efforts  for  their  cause.  There  were 
many  great  men  at  the  front  on  the  hustings,  as  it  was  only 
through  the  platform  that  the  people  could  then  be  reached,  but 
it  was  the  one  national  battle  during  the  period  of  sixty  years  in 
which  the  people  ran  away  from  their  leaders  and  swept  the 
country  for  Harrison  like  a  hurricane. 

In  those  days  the  rural  community  was  fortunate  that  had  a 
weekly  mail.  Daily  newspapers  were  unknown  in  the  country, 


COLONEL   McCLURE   AT    NINETEEN. 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  5 

and  the  people  had  to  depend  solely  upon  their  local  newspapers 
for  their  news.  Considering  that  we  now  expect  to  have  suffi- 
cient returns  from  the  entire  Union  to  determine  a  Presidential 
contest  not  later  than  midnight  of  election  day,  the  facilities  for 
information  in  1840  are  impressively  remembered.  On  Friday, 
two  weeks  and  three  days  after  the  Presidential  election  of  1840 
in  Pennsylvania,  a  number  of  neighbors  were  gathered  at  my 
father's  at  what  was  then  known  as  a  "raising."  The  custom  of 
those  days  was  for  the  neighbors  to  be  summoned  when  any  one 
of  them  was  ready  to  erect  the  frame  or  log  work  of  a  building, 
and  spend  the  day  or  afternoon  in  fulfilling  the  kind  neighborly 
offices  which  have  been  almost  entirely  effaced  by  the  progress 
of  civilization.  What  a  builder  would  now  do  in  an  hour  with 
machinery  the  neighborly  gathering  would  give  a  day  to  the 
same  task,  and  make  it,  besides,  one  of  generous  hospitality  and 
enjoyment.  Friday  was  the  day  on  which  the  weekly  mail  ar- 
rived, and  the  Whigs  and  Democrats  who  enjoyed  their  political 
spats,  as  both  claimed  the  State  for  their  respective  parties,  were 
anxious  to  have  the  weekly  paper  to  decide  the  attitude  of  the 
Keystone  State. 

I  was  dispatched  to  the  post  office,  a  mile  or  more  distant,  in 
time  to  be  there  when  the  post  boy  arrived,  with  instructions  to 
make  special  haste  in  returning.  My  father  was  one  of  the  few 
liberal  men  of  that  day  who  received  both  the  Democratic  and 
Whig  local  newspapers,  so  that  the  anxious  company  was  as- 
sured of  information  from  the  organs  of  both  parties.  When 
the  mail  arrived  at  the  post  office  I  seized  the  Whig  paper,  and 
was  delighted  to  find  a  huge  coon  over  the  Pennsylvania  returns, 
and  the  announcement  that  the  State  had  gone  for  Harrison  by 
1,000  majority.  In  generous  pity  I  opened  the  Democratic  paper 
to  see  how  it  would  accept  the  sweeping  disaster,  and  to  my 
utter  consternation,  it  had  a  huge  rooster  over  the  Pennsyl- 
vania returns,  and  declared  that  the  State  had  voted  for  Van 
Buren  by  1,000  majority.  I  took  the  shortest  cut  across  the 
fields  to  bring  the  confusing  news  to  the  anxious  crowd  that 
was  awaiting  it,  and  both  papers  were  spread  open  and  both 
sides  went  home  rejoicing  in  the  victory.  Of  course,  they  all 
felt  that  there  was  a  strong  element  of  doubt  in  the  conflicting 
returns,  but  the  matter  was  quietly  dismissed  without  complaint 
for  another  week,  and  it  was  fully  two  weeks  later  when  the  of- 


6  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

ficial  vote  was  finally  received  that  gave  the  State  to  Harrison 
by  305  majority.  Where  the  weekly  mail  then  was  welcomed  as 
a  generous  blessing  from  the  government,  the  daily  mail  and 
sometimes  mails  twice  and  thrice  a  day  reach  the  people,  and  the 
daily  newspaper  is  now  more  widely  read  than  were  the  local 
weeklies  of  olden  times. 

The  difference  in  the  relations  between  the  people  and  the 
public  men  they  worshipped  in  the  present  and  half  a  century 
ago  can  hardly  be  fully  appreciated  in  this  wonderfully  progres- 
sive age.  Then  travel  was  a  luxury  that  few  could  enjoy,  and  was 
almost  wholly  confined  to  those  who  found  it  a  necessity.  It  was 
not  only  tedious  and  tiresome,  but  expensive  far  beyond  the 
means  of  the  great  mass  of  the  people.  The  great  men  of  that 
day  were  idolized  by  their  partisans  as  we  now  pay  homage  to 
the  statue  of  some  great  leader  as  it  poses  on  the  pinnacle  of 
the  temple  with  its  imperfections  obliterated  by  distance. 

I  never  sawr  Clay  or  Webster,  although  I  was  six  years  an 
editor  before  their  death.  A  visit  to  Washington  by  a  village 
editor  was  usually  beyond  the  range  of  his  time  and  means,  and 
of  the  many  who  shouted  their  hosannas  to  Clay  and  Webster 
and  Calhoun,  only  one  in  many,  many  thousands  ever  saw  his 
heroes  face  to  face.  Today  we  span  the  continent  from  the  At- 
lantic to  the  Pacific  in  five  days,  and  the  song  of  the  iron  horse 
sends  its  echoes  through  almost  every  valley  and  to  nearly  every 
hilltop  of  the  land.  The  electric  telegraph  has  annihilated  space, 
traversing  ocean  and  mountain,  and  the  telephone,  now  in  almost 
every  business  house  and  in  many  private  homes,  makes  easy 
converse  with  friends  hundreds  of  miles  distant.  The  perfec- 
tion of  our  great  system  of  transportation  has  so  greatly  cheap- 
ened travel  that  all  our  people  as  a  rule,  with  their  vastly  in- 
creased resources,  take  frequent  excursions  in  their  business  af- 
fairs or  to  witness  the  progress  that  is  surging  around  them. 
Public  men  like  McKinley  and  Bryan,  who  have  traversed  the 
country  in  their  political  contests,  would  be  known  and  recog- 
nized in  nearly  every  village  by  old  and  young,  even  if  they  en- 
tered it  unannounced.  The  people  are  today  face  to  face  with 
their  heroes.  They  see  them  as  they  are;  they  learn  that  they 
worship  only  men  after  all,  with  their  full  share  of  human  in- 
firmities, and  the  idolatry  that  was  given  to  Clay  is  a  lost  at- 
tribute of  the  American  people. 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  7 

The  one  quality  of  greatness  that  has  been  lessened  by  the 
transformation  of  our  progressive  civilization  is  that  of  popular 
oratory.  Half  a  century  or  more  ago  the  people  could  be 
reached  only  by  the  mass  meeting,  as  the  newspaper  was  a 
luxury  confined  to  the  more  fortunate  few  in  every  rural  com- 
munity. Political  necessity  then  gave  birth  to  a  galaxy  of  popu- 
lar orators  of  national  fame  that  has  never  been  equaled  in  mod- 
ern times,  and  is  not  likely  ever  to  be  equaled  in  the  future.  The 
field  for  oratory  is  circumscribed  by  the  universal  advent  of  the 
newspaper,  and  popular  oratory  has  been  largely  supplanted  by 
the  mastery  of  forceful  disputation.  Mere  oratory  no  longer 
sways  the  multitude  beyond  the  evanescent  inspiration  of  the 
moment.  Intelligence  has  become  too  universal  for  leadership 
to  make  successful  battle  by  rhetorical  appeals  to  prejudice  or 
passion,  and  therein  is  the  greatest  safety  to  the  noblest  republic 
of  the  world. 


ABRAHAM  LINCOLN  AND  JEFFERSON 

DAVIS. 

Abraham  Lincoln  and  Jefferson  Davis  are  names  interwoven 
with  the  achievements  of  the  last  half  of  a  century  which  will 
ever  be  studied  with  unflagging  interest  by  the  students  of 
American  history.  Both  were  natives  of  Kentucky,  and  the 
dates  of  their  birth  are  not  a  year  apart.  Lincoln  was  born  in 
Hardin  county  on  the  I2th  of  February,  1809,  and  Davis  was 
born  in  Christian  county  (now  Todd)  on  the  3d  of  June,  1808. 
Davis  was  inaugurated  as  President  of  the  Confederacy  on  the 
1 6th  of  February,  1861,  and  Lincoln  was  inaugurated  as  Presi- 
dent of  the  United  States  a  fortnight  later  on  the  4th  of  March, 
1861.  Lincoln's  assassination  ended  his  public  career  on  the 
1 5th  of  April,  1865,  and  the  public  career  of  Davis  was  ended 
by  his  capture  on  the  loth  of  May,  1865. 

These  two  men  were  called  to  the  most  responsible  positions 
of  their  respective  governments,  and  both)  were  chosen  because 
of  their  generally  assumed  fitness  for  the  grave  duties  assigned 
them.  Lincoln's  nomination  for  President  in  1860  was  made  by 
a  convention  that  sincerely  and  earnestly  preferred  William  H. 
Seward  as  the  party  candidate,  but  considerations  of  expediency 
made  his  nomination  impracticable,  and  Lincoln  was  selected 
because  of  the  masterly  ability  he  had  exhibited  in  the  great 
Douglas-Lincoln  battle,  and  also  because  of  his  freedom  from 
political  and  factional  complications.  Davis'  election  to  the 
Presidency  of  the  Southern  Confederacy,  as  he  told  me  himself 
some  ten  years  after  the  war,  was  a  serious  disappointment.  He 
was  on  his  way  from  Mississippi  to  Montgomery,  the  temporary 
Confederate  capital,  when  advised  of  his  election.  He  appre- 
ciated the  oppressive  responsibilities  of  the  civil  chieftain  of  the 
new  government,  and  his  earnest  desire  was  to  be  assigned  as 
commander-in-chief  of  the  Confederate  army. 

It  would  be  difficult  to  find  in  all  the  annals  of  American  his- 
tory two  men  of  such  exceptional  achievement  summoned  to 
(8) 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  9 

the  performance  of  the  gravest  duties  developed  in  all  the  muta- 
tions of  American  progress,  who  were  so  distinctly  opposite  in 
their  ruling  attributes.  Lincoln  came  from  close  to  mother 
earth,  and  grew  up  in  sincere  sympathy  with  the  lowly.  When 
called  to  the  highest  civil  honors  of  the  world  he  was  never  for- 
getful of  the  masses  of  the  people.  He  not  only  heartily  sym- 
pathized with  them,  but  he  had  abiding  faith  in  them.  In  all  of 
the  many  great  conflicts  which  arose  during  the  war  when  new 
and  most  vital  questions  had  to  be  settled,  Lincoln  ever  per- 
mitted the  surges  oi  disputing  factional  leaders  to  play  around 
him  unfelt  and  apparently  unnoted  until  he  was  fully  satisfied 
of  the  considerate  judgment  of  the  people  of  the  country,  and 
when  he  felt  assured  on  that  one  point  he  was  as  immovable  as 
the  rock  of  Gibraltar.  I  once  heard  him  rebuke  a  Western  Con- 
gressman who  offered  some  apology  for  the  unreasonable  ex- 
actions of  some  of  his  constituents  because  of  their  want  of  in- 
telligent knowledge  of  public  affairs  in  Washington.  Lincoln 
replied  in  a  quiet  and  most  impressive  manner:  "I  think  God 
must  love  common  people  or  he  wouldn't  have  made  so  many  of 
them." 

His  battle  in  life  was  made  entirely  without  friends  or  fortui- 
tous circumstances  and  his  advancement  was  due  wholly  to  his 
great  natural  endowments  and  his  tireless  self-education.  One 
quality  that  distinguished  him  from  most  of  our  public  men  was 
his  careful  and  exhaustive  study  of  every  problem  from  the  most 
candid  and  impartial  standpoint.  He  was  honest  with  himself, 
honest  with  the  world  and,  above  all,  honest  in  the  discharge  of 
the  fearful  duties  and  responsibilities  which  had  been  put  upon 
him.  He  was  the  most  approachable  President  the  country  has 
ever  had.  He  always  favored  the  audience  of  the  unknown  and 
helpless  and  many  times  Cabinet  officers  were  compelled  to  wait 
in  their  attendance  upon  him  while  he  heard  the  story  of  some 
heartbroken  mother  whose  boy  soldier  was  unfortunate  and 
friendless  in  the  army.  While  he  ever  exhibited  the  candor  that 
forbade  willing  deceit,  he  was  the  most  sagacious  and  at  times 
the  most  reticent  of  all  the  public  men  I  have  ever  known.  I 
doubt  whether  any  man  ever  fully  enjoyed  the  confidence  of 
Abraham  Lincoln.  Those  who  were  closest  to  him  during  his 
life  umite  in  testifying  to  his  reticence,  but  when  it  was  necessary 
to  confide  he  did  so  with  perfect  frankness,  and  while  he  was 


10  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

accused  of  many  things  in  the  violence  of  partisan  criticism,  I 
cannot  recall  an  instance  in  which  he  was  accused  of  deliberate 
deception. 

Mr.  Lincoln  entered  the  Presidency  without  a  policy,  and 
therein  was  his  safety.  The  questions  which  he  had  to  meet  and 
determine  were  questions  which  had  been  in  dispute  from  the 
foundation  of  the  government  with  equal  ability  and  patriotism 
and  nearly  equal  numbers  on  either  side.  The  great  party  lead- 
ers, including  his  Cabinet,  with  all  of  whom  he  had  but  little 
personal  acquaintance,  as  a  rule  had  their  positively  defined 
plans  for  meeting  the  issue  of  rebellion,  but  Lincoln  had  none. 
He  knew  that  events  which  could  not  be  safely  anticipated  must 
control  the  action  of  the  government  in  the  effort  to  preserve  the 
integrity  of  the  Union,  and  he  was  probably  the  only  one  of  the 
eminent  Republican  leaders  to  confess  that  he  had  yet  to  learn 
the  policy  to  be  accepted  and  maintained  by  the  government. 

Another  very  marked  feature  of  Mr.  Lincoln's  character  was 
his  patient  and  generous  forbearance  with  all  who  were  unfriend- 
ly to  him.  I  never  heard  Mr.  Lincoln  utter  a  single  sentence  of 
resentment  against  anyone,  and  I  have  never  met  any  person 
who  claimed  to  have  heard  him  speak  vindictively  against  even 
his  bitterest  foes.  The  beautiful  sentence  of  his  inaugural — 
"With  malice  toward  none,  with  charity  for  all/'  was  a  perfect 
reflex  of  the  heart  of  Abraham  Lincoln.  He  sincerely  respected 
Jefferson  Davis  because  of  his  ability  and  his  sincere  devotion  to 
the  cause  of  the  South,  and  he  never  gave  expression  on  any 
subject  relating  to  Davis  that  could  not  have  been  said  to>  Davis 
in  person  without  affront.  Although  he  was  denounced  in  the 
South  as  a  bloody  butcher,  as  an  obscene  and  profane  jester,  and 
as  a  ruler  without  integrity  or  statesmanship,  he  bore  it  all  with 
patience,  and  the  most  I  have  ever  heard  him  say  in  answer  to 
these  terrible  criticisms  which  wounded  him  profoundly  was  that 
"when  these  people  know  us  better  they  will  think  better  of  us." 
I  have  many  times  heard  him  say,  speaking  of  the  Southern  lead- 
ers and  people,  that  if  they  only  knew  how  sincerely  and 
earnestly  the  government  desired  to  deal  with  them  in  generous 
justice  to  all,  peace  might  be  attained. 

He  exhibited  his  friendly  feeling  for  the  South,  notwithstand- 
ing the  terrible  desolation  and  sacrifices  of  war,  when  the  mili- 
tary power  of  the  Confederacy  was  on  the  verge  of  destruction. 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  1 1 

His  order  to  General  Weitzel,  in  Richmond,  to  give  protection 
to  the  Virginia  State  government  and  Legislature  if  it  assem- 
bled to  resume  relations  with  the  Union;  his  instructions  to  Gen- 
eral Sherman,  given  at  City  Point  just  before  the  surrender  of 
Johnston,  in  which  he  expressly  authorized  Governor  Vance,  of 
North  Carolina,  to  resume  his  functions  with  assurance  of  recog- 
nition of  the  State  government  if  acting  in  harmony  with  the 
national  government,  until  the  meeting  of  Congress,  and  the  last 
speech  ever  delivered  by  him  when  serenaded  to  congratulate 
him  on  the  surrender  of  General  Lee,  proved  the  entire  absence 
of  cherished  resentment  against  the  South. 

Had  Lincoln  lived  Jefferson  Davis  would  never  have  been 
captured.  On  this  point  I  speak  advisedly.  He  knew  the  in- 
tensely revengeful  feeling  that  pervaded  the  inflamed  sentiment 
of  the  North,  demanding  the  arrest  and  execution  of  the  leaders 
of  the  rebellion.  Pie  knew  that  they  could  not  be  convicted  and 
executed  for  treason  after  having  been  recognized  as  a  bellig- 
erent power  and  beleaguered  our  capital  for  nearly  four  years, 
and  he  was  resolutely  averse  to  the  punishment  of  any  of  the 
Southern  leaders  unless  guilty  of  violation  of  the  laws  of  war. 
I  heard  the  question  discussed  in  his  presence  by  several  promi- 
nent men  a  short  time  before  the  surrender  of  Lee.  Among  them 
was  General  Butler,  who  was  vehement  in  demanding  the  execu- 
tion of  traitors.  Lincoln  heard  the  discussion  in  silence,  and  he 
finally  closed  it  by  a  story  the  moral  of  which  was  that  if  Davis 
and  the  leaders  of  the  Confederacy  escaped  from  the  country 
''unbeknown  to  us"  it  would  be  fortunate  for  all. 

He  meant  to  bring  the  South  back  with  as  little  humiliation 
as  possible,  and  distinctly  met  the  issue  of  negro  suffrage  in  his 
speech  of  April  n,  1865,  the  last  he  ever  delivered,  in  which  he 
said,  referring  to  the  question:  "I  would  most  prefer  that  it 
were  now  conferred  on  the  very  intelligent  and  on  those  who 
served  our  cause  as  soldiers."  In  his  entire  official  record  as 
President  during  four  long  years  of  terrible  war,  he  always 
looked  hopefully  to  the  restoration  of  the  Union  in  one  common 
brotherhood. 

Jefferson  Davis  was  of  gentler  birth  and  shared  none  of  the 
desperate  struggles  of  Lincoln  in  early  life  to  advance  himself. 
His  parents  moved  to  Mississippi  in  his  early  youth,  and  he  was 
given  unusual  educational  facilities  for  young  men  of  that  period. 


12  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

He  was  a  student  at  Transylvania  College,  Lexington,  Ky.,  then 
one  of  the  foremost  and  most  progressive  Southern  colleges,  in 
1824,  when  President  Monroe  appointed  him  a  cadet  to  West 
Point,  where  he  graduated  in  1828  and  entered  the  regular  army. 
He  had  active  military  service  in  Indian  campaigns  for  seven 
years,  when  he  resigned  June  30,  1835,  and  became  a  cotton 
planter  near  Vicksburg.  In  1845  he  was  elected  to  Congress, 
but  in  June,  1846,  he  resigned  to  accept  a  colonelcy  of  the 
Mississippi  regiment  in  the  Mexican  war,  where  he  served  with 
special  distinction  at  the  battle  of  Buena  Vista.  Soon  after  his 
return  from  the  war  in  1847  ne  was  appointed  to  fill  a  vacancy 
in  the  United  States  Senate,  and  in  1848  was  elected  for  a  full 
term.  In  1850,  when  the  compromise  measures  were  passed  by 
Congress,  Mr.  Davis  opposed  them  because  they  gave  too  little 
to  slavery,  While  a  large  majority  of  the  people  of  the  North  and 
many  of  the  South  opposed  them  because  they  gave  too  much 
to  slavery.  His  colleague,  Senator  Foote,  supported  the  com- 
promise measure  and  accepted  what  was  called;  the  Union  can- 
didacy for  Governor  of  the  State  and  Davis  was  nominated 
against  him.  Both  resigned  their  seats  in  the  Senate,  and  in  a 
canvass  of  the  State  Davis  was  defeated  by  a  small  majority. 
He  was  recalled  to  public  life  in  1853  by  President  Pierce,  who 
made  Davis  his  Secretary  of  War,  and  on  his  retirement  from 
the  Cabinet  in  1857  ne  again  entered  the  Senate,  where  he  served 
until  the  24th  of  January,  1861,  when  he  resigned  to  join  his 
State  in  the  secession  movement. 

Mr.  Davis  was  a  man  of  forceful  intellect,  a  great  student  and 
one  of  the  ablest  debaters  in  the  national  councils.  He  had 
the  courage  of  his  convictions  and  was  scrupulously  honest  alike 
in  public  and  private  life.  He  believed  in  the  right  of  secession 
and  maintained  it  on  all  suitable  occasions.  He  always  dis- 
avowed disunion  until  after  the  election  of  Lincoln,  when  he 
took  position  in  the  front  rank  of  those  who  advocated  the 
dismemberment  of  the  republic.  He  was  respected  by  all  his 
associates  in  public  life  because  of  the  sincerity  that  guided  him 
in-  his  expressions  and  actions.  He  was  grave  and  dignified  to 
a  degree  approaching  austerity,  but  was  always  one  of  the  most 
courteous  of  gentlemen,  while  lacking  the  genial  and  magnetic 
qualities  of  men  like  Lincoln  and  Elaine. 

His  military  education  doubtless  strengthened  his  natural  in- 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  13 

clination  to  reserve  and  self-reliance.  It  is  worthy  of  note  that 
West  Point  has  not  produced  a  single  great  popular  leader,  and 
military  education  must  be  at  least  measurably  answerable  for 
the  failure  of  all  our  many  great  educated  soldiers  to  attain 
distinction  as  leaders  of  the  people  in  our  free  government 
where  there  is  every  incentive  to  develop  popular  masters.  We 
have  had  a  long  line  of  military  Presidents  since  we  have  had 
educated  soldiers,  beginning  with  Jackson  and  followed  by  the 
elder  Harrison,  Taylor,  Pierce,  Grant,  Hayes,  Garfield,  the 
younger  Harrison  and  McKinley.  Of  these,  only  two — Taylor 
and  Grant — were  educated  soldiers,  and  neither  was  any  more 
capable  of  political  manipulation  when  elected  President  than 
the  prattling  babe.  It  was  probably  the  chief  error  of  Jefferson 
Davis  that,  like  Grant,  he  carried  into  the  administration  of 
civil  affairs  the  dominating  qualities  of  the  soldier.  The 
educated  soldier  is  trained  to  despise  what  they  call  popular 
clamor,  and  the  tendency  is  to  command.  Jefferson  Davis  com- 
manded as  President  of  the  Confederacy;  Abraham  Lincoln 
obeyed  the  sovereign  power  of  the  nation,  and  therein  is  the 
sharp  contrast  between  their  qualities  as  civil  rulers  of  the 
republic  and  of  the  Confederacy. 

Mr.  Davis  as  President  of  the  Southern  Confederacy  had  quite 
as  sore  trials  as  those  which  beset  Mr.  Lincoln,  and  as  the 
exhaustive  exactions  of  war  fell  upon  his  people,  it  was  natural 
that  there  should  be  active  and  aggressive  hostility  to  any  policy 
he  might  adopt.  Whether  others  could  have  ruled  the  Con- 
federacy more  wisely  than  Davis  has  always  been  an  open  ques- 
tion. The  two  leading  histories  of  the  Confederacy,  both  written 
by  active  Southerners,  are  directly  opposite  in  their  teaching  as 
to  the  qualities  and  capabilities  of  President  Davis.  That  by  Mr. 
Alfriend  fully  and  positively  justifies  Mr.  Davis  in  all  the  great 
efforts  of  his  administration,  while  that  of  Mr.  Pollard  holds  him 
up  to  the  world  as  individually  responsible  for  the  failure  of  the 
war.  The  one  feature  of  his  administration  that  stands  out 
most  distinctly  is  the  fact  that  he  did  not  seek  to  popularize 
himself  by  any  of  the  many  arts  so  commonly  accepted  by  public 
men,  and  thus  lacked  the  sympathetic  popular  support  in  the 
South  that  Lincoln  commanded  in  the  North.  He  was  accused 
of  favoritism,  especially  in  the  selection  of  his  generals,  but  if  he 
erred  in  that  regard  all1  who  knew  him  will  doubtless  concede  that 


14  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

with  his  naturally  strong  prejudices  and  preferences  he  erred  in 
the  exercise  of  an  honest  judgment.  His  removal  of  Johnson 
from  the  command  of  the  army  in  Atlanta  that  resulted  in 
Hood's  disastrous  battle  and  early  evacuation  of  the  city,  in- 
tensified popular  prejudice  against  Davis,  and  the  States  of 
North  Carolina  and  Georgia,  under  the  lead  of  their  Governors, 
became  aggressively  hostile  to  the  policy  of  the  Confederacy. 

Mr.  Davis  committed  a  fatal  error  when  he  sent  Vice  Presi- 
dent Stephens  with  Hunter  and  Campbell  to  confer  with  Presi- 
dent Lincoln  and  Secretary  Seward  at  City  Point,  where  they  met 
February  3,  1865,  but  his  error  was  the  logical  result  of  his 
strict  adherence  to  the  fundamental  theory  of  the  Confederacy 
and  his  accepted  duty  as  its  Executive.  He  practically  in- 
structed the  commissioners  to  consider  no  proposition  for  peace 
that  did  not  involve  the  perpetuity  of  the  Confederacy,  and  that 
made  any  conference  with  Lincoln  on  the  subject  impossible. 
Vice  President  Stephens,  as  was  his  duty,  frankly  expressed  the 
limitation  of  his  powers,  and  the  question  of  peace  between  the 
North  and  South  on  the  basis  fixed  by  Davis  could  not  be  enter- 
tained for  a  moment.  I  know  that  President  Lincoln  would 
at  that  time  have  suggested  the  payment  of  $400,000,000  to  the 
Southern  people  for  their  slaves  if  peace,  emancipation  and  sub- 
mission to  the  national  authority  could  thereby  have  been 
secured,  and  had  not  the  instructions  of  the  Southern  com- 
missioners forbidden  the  discussion  of  peace  by  Lincoln,  the 
proffer  of  $400,000,000  as  compensation  for  emancipation  would 
doubtless  have  gone  to  the  Southern  public,  and  under  the  lead 
of  North  Carolina  and  Georgia,  already  clamoring  for  peace  on 
almost  any  terms,  the  majority  of  the  Confederate  States  would 
have  demanded  submission.  Payment  for  slaves  meant  much 
more  than  the  mere  pecuniary  advantage  to  the  South,  great 
as  it  was  in  their  desolate  and  helpless  condition.  It  meant 
sympathetic  reunion  and  would  disarm  the  fire-eaters  of  the 
South  who  proclaimed  against  submitting  as  conquered  subjects. 

In  a  conference  I  had  with  Mr.  Davis,  at  his  home  in  Missis- 
sippi more  than  a  decade  after  the  war,  in  which  he  discussed  the 
questions  relating  to  the  conflict  in  the  most  courteous  and  un- 
impassioncd  manner,  I  asked  him  whether  he  had  any  informa- 
tion of  Lincoln's  desire  to  attain  peace  by  the  payment  of  $400,- 
000,000  to  the  South  for  their  slaves.  He  answered  very  frankly 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  15 

that  he  had  no  intimation  of  such  a  purpose  or  desire  on  the  part 
of  Mr.  Lincoln.  I  then  asked  him  whether  he  would  have  given 
the  same  instructions  to  his  commissioners  at  City  Point  if  he 
had  believed  it  probable  that  the  proposition  of  compensated 
emancipation  might  be  made  at  the  conference.  His  answer  was 
logical  from  his  own  standpoint  of  absolute  duty  to  the  Confed- 
eracy. He  said  he  could  not  of  his  own  motion,  have  made  any 
proposition  that  did  not  involve  the  perpetuity  of  the  Confeder- 
acy. He  very  concisely  presented  the  difference  between  the 
Federal  government  and  the  Confederacy.  The  Federal  Presi- 
dent could  make  such  propositions  because  he  represented  a  cen- 
tralized power  with  absolute  sovereignty  in  the  nation,  while  the 
President  of  the  Confederacy  represented  a  nation  whose  corner 
stone  was  the  sovereignty  of  individual  States.  He  felt  that  he 
was  powerless  to  make  any  suggestion  for  peace  that  did  not 
maintain  the  perpetuity  of  his  government  unless  demanded  by 
the  individual  arid  sovereign  action  of  the  States.  No  one  of  the 
Confederate  States  had  proposed  peace  by  submission,  and  he, 
as  the  agent  and  servant  of  the  Southern  States,  could  accept 
only  the  duty  of  maintaining  the  Confederacy  until  the  States  as- 
sented to  its  surrender,  or  it  was  overthrown  by  Federal  military 
power.  That  he  was  sincere  and  consistent  in  his  attitude  will 
hardly  be  questioned  by  the  dispassionate  student  of  the  history 
of  the  Confederacy. 

Within  a  few  months  after  the  City  Point  conference  the  Con- 
federacy was  overthrown  by  the  surrender  of  the  armies  of  Lee 
and  Johnston,  and  the  assassination  of  Lincoln  occurred  when 
Sherman  and  Johnston  were  engaged  in  negotiations  for  the 
surrender  of  Johnston's  army.  On  Sunday,  April  2,  1865,  Davis, 
in  obedience  to  notice  from  General  Lee,  hurriedly  left  his  capi- 
tol  with  his  cabinet  and  personal  staff  to  face  the  death  strug- 
gle of  the  Confederacy.  The  disasters  suffered  in  the  field  and 
the  universal  bereavement  and  desolation  felt  by  the  people,  with 
the  open  hostility  of  Congress,  made  his  position  an  utterly 
hopeless  one.  He  re-established  his  government  at  Danville, 
where,  on  the  5th  of  April,  he  issued  his  last  proclamation,  urg- 
ing the  continued  prosecution  of  the  war,  in  which  he  said:  "Re- 
lieved from  the  necessity  of  guarding  particular  points,  our 
army  will  be  free  to  move  from  point  to  point  to  strike  the 
enemy  in  detail  far  from  his  base."  He  was  soon  compelled  to 
abandon  Danvilk,  and  he  re-established  the  Confederate  govern- 


1 6  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

ment  at  Greensboro,  N.  C,  where  he  had  opportunity  to  confer 
with  Generals  Johnston  and  Beauregard,  and  on  the  loth  of 
May  he  was  captured  near  Irwinsville,  Ga.,  and  taken  to  Fort- 
ress Monroe,  where  he  was  imprisoned  for  two  years. 

The  assassination  of  Lincoln  had  inflamed  the  North  to  a  con- 
dition verging  on  frenzy,  and  President  Johnson  started  out  as 
one  of  the  most  violent  persecutors  of  the  South.  He  issued  a 
proclamation  offering  a  large  reward  for  the  capture  of  Davis 
and  others  as  conspirators  in  the  assassination  of  Lincoln,  and 
when  he  had  Davis  as  a  prisoner  it  was  a  very  grave  question 
what  could  be  done  with  him.  It  soon  became  evident  to  all 
that  he  was  no  more  guilty  of  the  murder  of  Lincoln  than  was 
Johnson  himself,  and  yet  the  President  could  not  have  dis- 
charged Davis  if  he  had  wished  to  do  so,  because  of  the  intensity 
of  popular  resentment  in  the  North.  After  keeping  Davis  in 
prison  at  Fortress  Monroe  for  a  year  he  was  indicted  for  treason 
in  the  United  States  Court  at  Norfolk.  James  T.  Brady,  one  of 
the  ablest  criminal  lawyers  of  the  nation,  appeared  at  the  first 
term  of  the  court  as  counsel  for  Davis  and  demanded  speedy 
trial,  but  the  government  was  unprepared  and  the  case  was  con- 
tinued. Another  year  elapsed  with  Davis  still  confined,  until  it 
became  a  necessity  to  dispose  of  the  distinguished  prisoner,  and 
on  May  13,  1867,  he  was  discharged  on  bail  of  $100,000.  Some 
time  after  his  discharge  a  nol.  pros,  was  quietly  entered  by  the 
government,  and  thus  ended  the  case  against  Jefferson  Davis 
in  which  he  was  charged  when  arrested  with  treason  and  com- 
plicfty  in  the  murder  of  Lincoln. 

Mr.  Davis  was  in  feeble  health,  and  it  is)  not  disputed  that  he 
was  treated  with  a  degree  of  severity  as  a  prisoner  that  now 
grates  harshly  upon  the  honest  convictions  of  the  peopk  of  both 
sections,  but  it  was  not  without  special  compensations  to  Mr. 
Davis.  By  his  arrest  and  imprisonment  he  was  made  the  appar- 
ent victim  of  the  vengeance  of  the  government  against  the  peo- 
ple who  had  been  in  rebellion,  and  the  intense  and  aggressive 
hostility  to  Davis  that  had  been  exhibited  among  a  large  portion 
of  the  Southern  people  was  speedily  tempered  into  forgetful- 
ness  of  his  real  or  imaginary  errors  and  into  warmest  sympathy 
for  him  as  the  chosen  sacrifice.  It  ended  criticism  of  the  Davis 
administration  and  brought  out  in  vivid  colors  all  his  beneficent 
achievements  for  the  South,  while  his  errors  were  entirely  ef- 
faced in  sympathy  for  the  one  man  who  was  made  to  suffer  the 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.          17 

indignity  of  long  imprisonment  solely  because  of  his  devotion 
to  the  rebellious  Confederacy  that  had  written  most  lustrous 
annals  of  American  heroism. 

When  Lincoln  and  Davis  became  Presidents  of  their  respec- 
tive governments  they  were  practically  strangers  to  each  other. 
Lincoln  had  served  in  Congress  from  March  4,  1847,  to  March 
4,  1849,  an(l  Davis  after  his  return  from  the  Mexican  war  served 
part  of  the  same  term  in  the  Senate,  but  he  never  met  Lincoln 
personally.  Lincoln  had  served  his  term  very  quietly,  his  chief 
effort  being  his  speech  in  support  of  General  Taylor  for  the 
Presidency,  delivered  in  the  House  during  the  campaign  of  1848, 
and  there  was  nothing  in  that  effort  to  attract  special  attention. ! 
At  the  beginning  of  the  war  it  was  very  natural  that  Mr.  Davis 
greatly  underestimated  Lincoln's  ability  and  knew  little  of  his 
admirable  personal  attributes,  but  during  a  protracted  conversa- 
tion with  Mr.  Davis,  in  which  he  often  spoke  with  unusual  in- 
terest, the  discussion  of  Lincoln  brought  out  his  most  positive 
expressions  of  respect.  I  shall  never  forget  the  earnest  and  pa- 
thetic conclusion  of  his  remarks  about  Lincoln  when  he  said 
substantially :  "Next  to  the  day  of  the  failure  of  the  Confederacy, 
the  darkest  day  the  South  has  seen  was  the  day  of  Lincoln's 
assassination." 

Such  was  the  tribute  of  Jefferson  Davis,  the  President  of  the 
Confederacy,  to  Abraham  Lincoln,  the  President  of  the  United 
States,  when  peace  had  come  to  bless  a  reunited  people.  Both 
were  called  to  the  most  responsible  duties  ever  assigned  to 
statesmen  of  our  free  government;  both  discharged  their  grave 
responsibilities  with  the  utmost  fidelity  to  their  convictions,  and 
neither  has  left  a  record  of  personal  criticism  against  the  other. 
Lincoln's  tragic  death  just  when  his  great  life-work  was  about 
to  be  accomplished  made  him  secure  in  the  list  of  the  wordl>'s 
immortals,  and  Davis  bowed  to  the  arbitrament  of  the  sword 
and  remained  a  stranger  to  his  country,  as  he  himself  expressed 
it  to  the  writer,  because  his  assumed  political  aspirations  if  he 
accepted  citizenship  would  have  been  a  constant  menace  to  the 
safety  of  the  South  and  the  unity  of  the  two  sections.  He  lived, 
as  a  rule,  in  severe  retirement  after  his  visit  to  Canada  and 
Europe  soon  after  his  release  from  Fortress  Monroe,  until  he 
rounded  out  more  than  four  score  years,  when,  in  New  Orleans, 
on  the  6th  of  December,  1889,  he  passed  away  to  join  the  great 
majority  beyond. 


/ 


CHRISTIANA  AND  HARPER'S   FERRY, 

THE   FIRST  BATTLES  OF 

OUR  CIVIL  WAR. 

The  hoarse  thunders  of  shotted  cannon  were  not  heard  in  the 
first  battles  of  our  Civil  War,  nor  were  great  armies  in  battle 
line  for  sanguinary  conflict.  The  first  was  fought  long  before 
McClellan's  skirmishes  in  Western  Virginia  and  the  disastrous 
defeat  of  Bull  Run,  which  are  now  pointed  to  by  the  student  of 
the  history  of  our  war,  as  well  as  by  most  of  those  in  whose 
memory  those  fearful  days  still  linger,  as  the  first  conflicts  of 
one  of  the  bloodiest  wars  of  history. 

Great  wars  are  never  produced  in  sudden  passion.  There 
must  be  a  gradual  growth  of  strained  hostility  to  prepare  nations 
or  sections  to  accept  the  terrible  arbitrament  of  the  sword.  In 
like  manner  the  people  of  the  North  and  of  the  South  were 
schooled  in  preparation  for  the  appalling  conflict  through  which 
they  passed  from  1861  to  1865.  The  pretext  was  given  by  the 
South  that  the  election  of  a  Republican  President  was  an  assault 
upon  slavery,  when,  in  fact,  even  with  Lincoln  as  President,  the 
South  had  absolute  protection  for  the  perpetuity  of  slavery,  not 
only  in  a  friendly  Senate  and  Supreme  Court,  but  in  the  Presi- 
dent himself,  who  sincerely  declared  that  the  Constitution  pro- 
tected slavery,  and  that  he  had  no  desire  to  attempt  the  over- 
throw of  that  which  had  the  protection  of  the  supreme  law  of 
the  nation.  The  cause  of  our  Civil  War  wr  not  the  election  of 
Mr.  Lincoln,  although  that  was  the  incident  that  precipitated  it. 
It  was  certain  to  come  sooner  or  later,  and  soon  at  the  latest, 
between  two  great  sections,  equal  in  intelligence,  in  heroism  and 
pride,  and  devoted  to  their  opposing  political  convictions  with 
equal  integrity. 

It  was  the  passage  of  what  is  known  as  the  Compromise 
Measures  of  1850,  embracing  the  fugitive  slave  law,  that  pro- 
foundly impressed  the  people  of  the  North  with  the  conviction 
that  slavery  would  surely  be  the  fountain  of  fraternal  strife  or 
of  the  disruption  of  the  Union.  The  fugitive  slave  law  was  one 
(18) 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  19 

of  the  series  of  compromise  measures.  It  provided  for  the  arrest 
and  return  of  fugitive  slaves  by  the  judgment  of  a  mere  com- 
missioner appointed  under  the  law,  who  received  double  fees  if 
he  remanded  the  alleged  slave  back  to  slavery,  and  his  officers 
were  empowered  to  summon  the  people  of  all  classes  and  condi- 
tions to  aid  in  the  arrest  of  the  fugitive,  while  any  who  even 
permitted  the  slave  to  remain  on  his  premises  were  required  to 
surrender  him  to  the  officers  of  the  law  or  be  liable  to  criminal 
prosecution  for  harboring  a  fugitive  slave,  and  to  civil  action 
for  damages  if  the  slave  escaped. 

My  recollection  of  the  law  is  very  distinct,  as  I  happened  to 
be  a  grand  juror  in  the  United  States  Court  at  Williamsport, 
Pa.,  in  1851,  when  the  first  case  under  the  fugitive  slave  law  was 
brought  before  the  court.  The  defendant  was  Jameson  Harvey, 
of  Luzerne  county,  with  whom  the  alleged  slave  had  been  liv- 
ing, and  when  the  officers  appeared  to  capture  the  negro  they 
demanded  of  the  defendant  that  he  should  produce  him,  but  the 
negro  had  hidden  himsel'f  in  the  barn,  and  was  armed  for  his 
defense.  Mr.  Harvey  said  to  the  officers,  "You  can  take  your 
vslave  if  you  want  to,"  but  as  the  officers  feared  the  armed  negro, 
they  withdrew  and  proceeded  against  him  in  the  United  States 
Court,  where  I  had  the  pleasure,  as  a  grand  juror,  of  aiding  in 
ignoring  the  bill  presented  against  him. 

The  first  battle  of  our  Civil  War  was  fought  on  the  nth  of 
September,  1851,  near  Christiana,  in  Lancaster  county,  Pa.,  on 
a  farm  then  owned  by  Levi  Pownell  and  now  in  the  possession 
of  Marion  Griest.  It  is  on  the  valley  road  some  two  miles  or 
more  southwest  of  Christiana,  with  an  old  stone  house  located 
on  an  eminence  and  surrounded  by  a  thriving  orchard.  It  is 
some  distance  away  from  any  of  the  leading  public  highways 
and  shaded  by  trees,  making  it  almost  invisible  to  persons  ap- 
proaching It,  but  giving  to  those  within  it  an  excellent  oppor- 
tunity to  view  any  one  coming.  It  was  a  Quaker  community 
and  of  course  strongly  imbued  with  abolition  sentiments,  which 
made  it  a  favorite  centre  for  fugitive  slaves,  who  had  the  sincere 
sympathy  of  the  people  generally. 

A  man  named  William  M.  Padgett  traveled  in  that  commun- 
ity, ostensibly  to  repair  clocks,  but,  in  fact,  to  discover  fugitive 
slaves  and  communicate  with  their  owners  through  Henry  H. 
Kline,  who  was  then  conspicuous  as  a  slave-catching  constable 


20  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

from  Philadelphia,  and  who  acted  under  the  direction  of  Com- 
missioner Ingraham,  one  of  the  few  men  in  the  State  who  ac- 
cepted a  commission  under  the  fugitive  slave  law.  Padgett 
discovered  that  one  or  more  slaves  belonging  to  Mr.  Edward 
Gorsuch,  of  Hereford,  Baltimore  county,  Md.,  were  living 
among  the  Quakers  in  Christiana,  and  a  party  from  Maryland, 
consisting  of  Edward  Gorsuch,  alleged  master  of  the  slave;  his 
son,  Dickerson  Gorsuch;  his  nephew,  Dr.  Pierce,  and  several 
others  under  the  lead  of  Constable  Kline  were  discovered  early 
in  the  morning  in  ambush  close  to  the  residence  of  William 
Parker,  a  colored  man.  They  were  discovered  by  another  col- 
ored man,  an  inmate  of  the  house,  who  had  started  out  to  pur- 
sue his  daily  labor,  and  he  at  once  fled  to  his  home  with  the 
slave  hunters  in  pursuit. 

The  constable  and  his  party  entered  the  house  of  Parker,  but 
the  negroes  had  retreated  to  the  upper  floor,  from  the  windows 
of  which  they  sounded  the  alarm  by  blowing  a  horn.  This  was 
responded  to  by  two  shots  fired  by  the  assailants  without  effect. 
Mr.  Gorsuch  then  came  forward  and  demanded  his  slaves,  which 
he  claimed  were  hidden  in  the  house.  He  was  answered  with 
the  positive  assurance  that  the  negroes  would  never  be  taken 
alive  as  slaves.  A  large  number  of  the  negroes  from  the  neigh- 
borhood, summoned  by  the  horn,  flocked  to  the  scene  of  trouble, 
and  all  of  them  were  armed  with  guns  or  clubs.  They  remained 
in  woods  nearby  awaiting  the  necessity  for  action,  and  again 
Gorsuch  and  his  party  were  warned  to  leave  and  assured  that 
it  would  be  a  battle  unto  death  if  an  attempt  were  made  to  cap- 
ture them.  For  several  hours  the  parley  was  continued  until  the 
blacks  were  increased  to  fifty  or  more,  and  there  was  imminent 
danger  of  a  bloody  conflict. 

Castner  Hanway,  a  Quaker,  who  lived  in  the  neighborhood, 
hearing  the  sound  of  the  horn  and  noting  the  gathering  of  the 
blacks,  rode  up  to  the  Parker  house,  where  he  was  joined  by 
Elijah  Lewis,  another  Quaker,  both  men  of  the  highest  char- 
acter in  their  community  and  devoted  to  peace.  They  came 
solely  for  the  purpose  of  avoiding  a  conflict  and  sought  to  per- 
suade Gorsuch  and  his  party  from  provoking  a  collision  that 
must  result  in  the  death  of  many.  As  soon  as  these  Quakers 
appeared  upon  the  scene  Constable  Kline,  then  acting  in  the 
capacity  of  deputy  marshal,  immediately  ordered  them  to  aid 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.          21 

in  the  capture  of  the  fugitive  slaves,  which  they  naturally  refused 
to  obey,  and  they  earnestly  appealed  to  Kline  and  the  Gorsuch 
party  to  cease  the  hopeless  effort  of  less  than  half  a  score  of  men 
capturing  fugitive  slaves  from  fifty  or  sixty  armed  negroes,  who 
had  resolved  to  die  rather  than  be  captured  or  permit  any  of 
their  number  to  be  taken. 

Hanway  and  Lewis  also  exerted  their  influence  to  prevent 
violence  on  the  part  of  the  colored  people.  Gorsuch's  son  ap- 
pealed to  his  father  to  give  up  the  contest,  but  the  father 
refused.  Finding  that  they  could  accomplish  nothing,  Hanway 
and  Lewis  started  away  after  again  earnestly  urging  the  Gorsuch 
party  to  give  up  the  contest.  Soon  after  they  left  one  of  the 
negroes  attempted  to  come  out  of  the  house  and  he  was  at 
once  covered  by  Gorsuch's  revolver.  The  negro  urged  him  to 
go  away  if  he  did  not  want  to  get  hurt,  and  pushing  Gorsuch 
by  he  passed  out.  Gorsuch  at  once  opened  fire  on  the  negro 
and  his  son  and  nephew  joined  him,  but  that  provoked  the 
negroes  to  open  fire  and  make  an  attack  upon  the  L»orsuch  party. 
Gorsuch  was  killed  by  the  first  volley  fired  by  the  negroes  and 
his  son  wounded.  The  others  precipitately  fled  and  joined  Con- 
stable Kline,  who  had  taken  a  safe  position  before  the  firing 
began.  A  number  of  the  negroes  were  wounded,  but  none 
dangerously.  The  dead  body  of  Gorsuch,  Who  had  come  to 
capture  his  slaves,  was  sent  to  his  home,  and  his  son,  who  had 
been  protected  from  the  fury  of  the  negroes  by  Parker  himself, 
was  well  provided  for  until  he  recovered. 

The  Christiana  battle  was  the  first  bloody  struggle  under  the 
fugitive  slave  law,  and  it  made  a  profound  impression  upon  the 
people  of  both  Pennsylvania  and  of  the  nation  at  large.  It 
determined  a  most  earnest  and  desperate  contest  for  Governor 
between  William  F.  Johnson,  Governor  of  the  State  and  a  candi- 
date for  re-election,  and  William  Bigler,  who  succeeded  him. 
Johnson  had  served  one  term  with  distinguished  credit,  and  his 
re-election  was  generally  confessed  by  friend  and  foe  until  the 
Christiana  battle  was  fought.  Philadelphia  was  then  the  great 
commercial  city  of  the  South,  and  while  Whig  in  faith  and  not 
pro-slavery  as  were  most  of  the  Democrats  of  that  day,  the 
commercial  classes  were  peculiarly  sensitive  about  slavery  agi- 
tation because  of  its  probable  effect  upon  the  business  of  the 
city;  and  throughout  the  State  there  was  a  large  Whig  element 


22  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

that  supported  the  compromise  measure  including  the  fugitive 
slave  law,  then  known  as  "silver  grays"  among  those  who  spoke 
of  them  with  respect,  and  as  "dough  faces"  in  less  reverent 
political  circles.  The  whole  Whig  press  of  the  city  and  some  of 
the  ablest  in  the  State  denounced  the  killing  of  Gorsuch  in 
unmeasured  terms,  and  as  Governor  Johnson  was  a  representa- 
tive of  the  anti-slavery  element  of  the  party  he  was  thus  doomed 
to  defeat  and  he  lost  his  election  by  8,000  majority. 

The  sequel  of  the  Christiana  battle  was  the  arrest  of  Castner 
Hanway  and  Elijah  Lewis,  both  prominent  Quaker  citizens,  with 
some  forty  or  fifty  others,  mostly  negroes,  on  the  charge  of  high 
treason  for  levying  war  against  the  government  of  the  United 
States.  They  were  denied  the  right  of  bail  and  were  incarcerated 
in  prison  from  the  nth  of  September  until  they  were  brought 
into  the  United  States  Court  at  Philadelphia  before  Judges 
Green  and  Kane,  on  the  24th  of  November,  for  trial  on  the  grave 
charges  of  which  they  were  accused.  The  trial  was  one  of  the 
most  exciting  ever  had  in  the  State.  An  entire  week  was  em- 
ployed in  obtaining  a  jury,  after  the  United  States  District  At- 
torney had  set  aside  twenty  jurors  exclusive  of  his  right  to  chal- 
lenge. Thaddeus  Stevens,  John  M.  Read,  Theodore  C.  Cuyler 
and  Joseph  J.  Lewis,  four  of  the  most  prominent  lawyers  of  the 
State,  and  two  of  them  leading  Democrats,  conducted  the 
defense,  while  District  Attorney  John  W.  Ashmead  was  assisted 
by  the  Attorney  General  of  Maryland  and  by  James  Cooper 
then  a  Whig  United  States  Senator  from  Pennsylvania,  who  had 
supported  the  compromise  measures. 

It  was  certainly  one  of  the  most  notable  legal  battles  in  the 
history  of  Pennsylvania  judicial  trials.  Lucretia  Mott,  the  most 
prominent  and  beloved  of  the  Quaker  women  of  the  State,  at- 
tended the  trial  personally  every  day,  and  after  the  elaborate 
argument  of  counsel,  Judge  Green  delivered  his  charge  that 
occupied  a  closely-printed  pamphlet  of  twenty-three  pages.  The 
jury  retired,  and  in  ten  minutes  returned  into  the  court  with  the 
verdict  of  "not  guilty."  In  this  case  only  Castner  Hanway  was 
on  trial,  and  after  his  acquittal  by  the  jury,  he  was  discharged, 
as  were  all  his  associates,  who  had  been  in  prison  for  more 
than  three  months.  Mr.  Hanway  appealed  to  the  court  to  be 
relieved  of  the  costs  incurred  by  him  in  furnishing  witnesses, 
but  it  was  denied,  and  broken  in  health  by  his  imprisonment, 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  23 

and  suffering  expenses  which  he  could  ill  afford,  he  never  fully 
recovered  from  the  harsh  exactions  of  imprisonment  and  trial. 
He  lived  at  his  old  home  until  1878,  when  he  went  West  and 
settled  at  Wilbur,  Nebraska,  where  he  died  on  the  26th  of  May, 
1893,  and,  in  accordance  with  his  desire,  his  remains  were 
brought  back  to  Longwood  Cemetery,  near  Kennett  Square,  to 
rest  with  the  dust  of  his  Quaker  kindred. 

The  Christiana  battle,  the  killing  of  the  claimant  of  the  slaves 
and  the  wounding  of  others,  impressed  the  South  with  the  fact 
that  the  recovery  of  fugitive  slaves  had  ceased  to  be  practically 
possible,  and  it  profoundly  deepened  the  apprehension  of  leaders 
in  the  slavery  cause  as  to  the  safety  of  the  institution.  On  the 
other  hand,  the  arrest  and  imprisonment  of  Hanway  and  his 
associates,  and  his  trial,  involving  our  ablest  judges  and  lawyers, 
profoundly  impressed  the  people  of  the  North  with  the  fact  that 
there  was  an  "irrepressible  conflict"  between  the  North  and  the 
South  on  the  slavery  issue  that  must,  in  the  fulness  of  time  and 
at  no  distant  day,  either  disrupt  the  Union  or  involve  the  country 
in  fraternal  war.  Thus  were  the  fearfully  fruitful  seeds  sown  a 
full  decade  before  open  civil  war  began  that  called  millions  of 
reapers  into  its  harvest  of  death. 

During  the  decade  from  1851  to  1861,  when  the  Civil  War 
burst  upon  the  country  in  all  its  fearful  fury,  the  people  of 
both  sections  were  moving  steadily  and  surely  and  almost  im- 
perceptibly to  the  consummation  of  the  great  conflict 
The  supporters  of  slavery,  inflamed  by  the  failure  of 
the  compromise  measures,  which  did  not  bring  them  a 
single  slave  State  in  the  large  territory  acquired  from  Mexico, 
became  violently  aggressive  and  finally  summoned  their  forces 
in  1854  to  repeal  the  Missouri  compromise  for  the  purpose 
of  forcing  slavery  into  Kansas  and  Nebraska.  The  bloody  con- 
flict between  the  sturdy  Free  State  men  and  the  Missouri  in- 
vaders made  adjustment  of  the  dispute  more  difficult  with  each 
succeeding  day,  and  the  Dred  Scott  decision,  substantially  de- 
claring that  the  black  man  had  no  rights  which  the  white  man 
was  bound  to  respect,  deepened  and  intensified  the  convictions 
of  the  North,  and  compelled  them  to  gird  their  loins  and  be 
prepared  for  the  inevitable  conflict.  In  all  these  great  efforts  to 
benefit  slavery  even  their  victories  turned  to  ashes.  The  com- 
promise measures  gave  them  only  the  fugitive  slave  law  that  was 


24  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

a  dead  letter  in  the  North,  and  that  mocked  their  efforts  to 
regain  fugitive  slaves.  California  was  already  a  free  State,  and 
the  other  Mexican  territories  gave  no  promise  of  strengthening 
slavery.  Kansas  and  Nebraska  were  made  free  States  after  the 
humiliating  defeat  of  those  who  had  desperately  battled  for 
slavery,  and  it  soon  became  evident  that  the  fate  of  the  Dred 
Scott  decision  would  be  a  reversal  by  the  sovereign  power  of 
the  republic.  Thus  both  sections  were  steadily  but  surely  drift- 
ing to  the  fearful  arbitrament  of  civil  war. 

The  second  battle  of  our  Civil  War  began  at  Harper's  Ferry 
on  the  1 6th  of  October,  1859,  by  a  force  commanded  by  John 
Brown  as  captain,  and  consisting  of  John  Brown  and  his  three 
sons,  Owen,  Oliver  and  Watson,  William  and  Adolphuis  Thomp- 
son, brothers  of  Henry,  husband  of  Captain  Brown's  oldest 
daughter;  John  Henri  Kagi,  Aaron  Dwight  Stevens,  John  Edwin 
Cook,  Wrilliam  H.  Leeman,  George  Plummer  Tidd,  Jeremiah  G. 
Anderson,  Albert  Hazlett,  Stewart  Taylor,  Edwin  and  Barclay 
Coppoc  and  Francis  J.  Merriam,  white  men,  and  Osborne  P. 
Anderson,  William  Copeland,  Lewis  Sherrard  Leary  and  Shields 
Green,  colored. 

John  Brown  made  his  base  of  operations  in  preparing  for  his 
Virginia  campaign,  the  object  of  which  was  to  incite  the  slaves 
to  insurrection  at  Chambersburg,  where  I  then  resided.  I  saw 
him  nearly  every  day  for  several  weeks  in  the  crowd  that  usually 
assembled  about  the  post  office  before  the  arrival  of  the  evening 
mail.  He  made  himself  known  to  a  number  of  our  citizens, 
including  myself,  as  Dr.  Smith,  and  as  engaged  in  preparations 
for  the  development  of  minerals  in  Maryland.  He  was  very 
modest  and  unassuming  and  no  one  in  the  entire  community 
suspected  his  true  identity.  He  attracted  no  attention  because 
his  business  was  presumably  legitimate  and  one  in  which  the 
people  of  the  town  had  little  interest.  In  his  conversation  with 
citizens  he  carefully  avoided  any  expressions  on  the  subject  of 
slavery,  and  he  was  regarded  as  a  quiet,  intelligent  business 
man. 

Two  days  before  the  attack  on  Harper's  Ferry  a  handsome 
young  man  entered  my  office  and  asked  me  to  write  his  will. 
He  was  accompanied  by  a  friend,  whom  he  introduced  as  Mr. 
Henry,  but  who,  in  fact,  was  J.  Henri  Kagi.  We  retired  into 
the  private  office  and  I  wrote  his  will  After  making  a  few 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  25 

special  bequests  he  willed  the  bulk  of  his  estate  to  the  Anti- 
Slavery  Society  of  Massachusetts,  but  there  was  nothing  very 
remarkable  in  that  and  I  gave  it  no  more  than  a  passing  thought. 
When  the  writing  of  the  will  was  finished  he  signed  it  "Francis 
J.  Merriam."  He  was  unusually  bright  and  intelligent  and  said 
he  was  going  on  a  journey  South  and  thought  it  best  to  dispose 
of  his  property  to  guard  against  accidents.  My  surprise  may 
be  well  understood  when,  within  three  days,  I  read  the  startling 
story  of  the  battle  of  Harper's  Ferry  and  among  the  names  of 
those  engaged  in  it  was  Francis  J.  Merriam.  He  was  one  of 
the  few  who  were  unharmed  in  the  conflict  and  made  his  escape. 
He  managed  to  get  to  the  railroad  in  Maryland,  passed  on  to 
Philadelphia,  where  he  remained  over  night  at  the  Merchants' 
Hotel,  registering  his  true  name,  and  proceeded  next  morning  to 
Boston. 

When  Brown  began  his  campaign  against  Harper's  Ferry  he 
rented  what  was  known  as  the  Kennedy  farm  in  Washington 
county,  Maryland,  four  miles  from  Harper's  Ferry.  It  was  an 
isolated  place  and  of  little  value,  as  the  rental  was  only  $35  a 
year.  At  that  place  his  various  consultations  were  held,  his 
pikes  and  other  implements  of  warfare  .were  shipped  ostensibly 
as  mining  tools,  and  on  Sunday,  the  i6th  of  October,  1859,  Cap- 
tain Brown  had  his  army  complete  at  the  Kennedy  farm  and  was 
ready  for  the  battle.  He  arose  on  that  Sunday  morning  earlier 
than  usual  and  summoned  his  army  to  prayer.  He  first  read  a 
chapter  from  the  Bible,  more  or  less  applicable  to  slavery,  and 
then  fervently  prayed  for  divine  assistance  in  the  liberation  of 
the  bondman.  The  roll  call  was  made  soon  after  breakfast  and 
every  name  responded  to,  w<hen  a  sentinel  was  posted  to  prevent 
surprise.  At  10  o'clock  the  army  was  assembled  in  council,  with 
Osborne  P.  Anderson,  colored,  in  the  chair.  He  then  read  the 
constitution  of  his  organization,  completed  the  commissions  of 
his  officers,  and  prepared  elaborate  and  detailed  orders  for  the 
attack  to  be  made  that  night. 

When  darkness  had  come  the  movement  began,  and  Cook  and 
Tidd  were  assigned  the  task  of  cutting  the  telegraph  wires. 
Brown's  force  crossed  the  bridge  to  Harper's  Ferry,  captured 
the  watchman  without  creating  alarm  and  was  soon  in  the  ar- 
senal grounds.  The  watchman  in  the  armory  shouted  the  alarm, 
but  he  was  soon  silenced  and  the  arsenal  was  in  possession  of 
Brown  without  having  created  any  disturbance  in  the  com- 


26  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

munity.  This  was  all  effected  before  no'  clock  in  the  night. 
The  movement  was  discovered  by  the  relief  watchman,  Patrick 
Higgins,  who  came  on  at  midnight,  and  upon  whom  the  first 
shot  was  fired,  but  Higgins  made  his  escape  and  gave  the  alarm. 
When  daylight  came  the  little  town  was  in  consternation  at  the 
possession  of  the  arsenal  and  government  works  by  a  band  of 
insurgents.  In  answer  to  a  complaint  of  the  conductor  of  the 
Baltimore  and  Ohio  train  Brown  said:  "We  want  liberty;  the 
ground,  bridge  and  town  are  in  our  hands."  Citizens  at  once 
began  to  arm  as  the  news  spread  rapidly,  and  people  came  from 
the  surrounding  country,  most  of  them  with  their  guns. 

Anarchy  soon  prevailed  in  the  village  of  Harper's  Ferry.  The 
people  flocked  in  by  hundreds,  took  possession  of  the  saloons 
and  many  of  them  shooting  at  random  during  the  day  and 
evening  of  the  I7th,  and  in  the  night  the  United  States  marines 
came  under  command  of  Colonel  Robert  E.  Lee.  In  the  mean- 
time several  squads  of  Brown's  army  were  scouring  the  country 
capturing  hostages  and  taking  possession  of  citizens  and  slaves. 
Among  the  hostages  held  was  Colonel  Washington,  whom  they 
informed  that  they  intended  to  take  his  slaves  but  not  his  life. 
The  slaves  were  crowded  into  a  family  carriage  and  a  four  horse 
wagon,  and  on  their  way  a  number  of  colored  men  joined  them. 

Brown  and  his  command  could  have  retreated  with  little  loss 
any  time  up  to  noon  on  the  I7th,  but  after  that  they  were 
compelled  to  fight  for  their  lives.  Even  when  informed  that 
the  marines  were  arriving,  which  made  his  battle  an  utterly 
hopeless  one,  his  only  answer  was:  "Men,  be  cool;  we  will  give 
them  a  warm  reception."  I  have  every  reason  to  believe  that 
Brown  had  decided  either  to  succeed  in  the  battle,  in  which  he 
expected  to  be  aided  by  hundreds  of  insurrectionary  slaves,  or  to 
die  in  the  struggle.  He  was  morbidly  fanatical  in  the  cause  to 
which  he  gave  his  life,  and  it  is  evident  that  he  either  relied  upon 
an  immense  slave  support,  or  intended  to  sacrifice  himself  and 
his  men  in  the  struggle,  as  he  had  ample  opportunity  to  escape 
at  any  time  in  the  early  part  of  the  I7th. 

Of  the  citizen  prisoners  his  squads  had  brought  in  during  the 
night  of  the  i6th  and  I7th,  Brown  selected  eight  to  be  held  as 
hostages.  When  he  found  that  he  was  compelled  to  retreat  into 
the  engine  house  and  was  about  to  be  assailed  by  overwhelming 
numbers,  he  notified  the  hostages  that  their  fate  would  be  the 
fate  that  his  assailants  accorded  to  him  and  his  command.  When 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  27 

Colonel  Lee,  who  was  in  command  of  the  marines,  communi- 
cated with  Brown  and  urged  him  to  surrender,  Brown's  answer 
was,  "No,  I  prefer  to  die  here."  He  then  proceeded  to  barricade 
the  doors  and  windows  of  the  engine  house  into  which  his  little 
force  was  driven,  and  desultory  firing  continued  during  all  the 
day  of  the  I7th  until  late  at  night.  While  half  of  Brown's  men 
were  killed,  the  prisoner  hostages  escaped  unhurt. 

Finding  that  Brown  would  not  surrender,  Colonel  Lee  finally 
ordered  an  assault,  and  the  door  was  battered  in,  when  Lieu- 
tenant Green,  of  the  marines,  entered  at  the  head  of  his  com- 
mand and  immediately  selected  Brown  for  his  attack.  With  an 
undercut  of  his  sword  he  pierced  Brown  in  the  abdomen,  when 
Brown  fell.  The  handful  of  men  remaining  with  Brown  who 
had  escaped  death  or  had  failed  to  flee,  were  speedily  made 
prisoners.  Oliver  and  Watson  Brown,  William  and  Adolphus 
Thompson,  John  H.  Kagi,  William  Leeman,  Stewart  Taylor, 
Lewis  S.  Leary,  Jeremiah  Anderson  and  D.  Newby  were  killed 
in  the  battle,  but  Owen  Brown,  Cook,  Tidd,  Coppoc,  Merriam, 
Hazlett  and  Anderson  escaped.  Of  these  Cook  and  Hazlett 
were  captured  and  executed  with  Stevenson,  Coppoc  and  Green. 

Hazlett  was  captured  near  Shippensburg  in  the  Cumberland 
Valley  and  was  supposed  to  be  Cook.  The  result  was  a  requisi- 
tion brought  from  Richmond  to  Carlisle  for  Cook,  but  the 
mistaken  identity  was  discovered,  and  that  was  fatal  to  Cook, 
who  was  subsequently  arrested  in  the  South  Mountain  and 
lodged  in  the  Chambersburg  prison.  I  acted  as  his  counsel  in 
the  utterly  hopeless  effort  to  escape  the  consequences  of  his  law- 
lessness, but  he  would  doubtless  have  escaped  from  the  prison  on 
the  second  night  had  not  a  requisition  for  him  been  at  Carlisle, 
only  thirty  miles  distant,  that  came  unexpectedly  at  noon  on  the 
second  day.  Oliver  Brown,  Coppoc,  Tidd  and  Anderson,  most 
of  whom  were  wounded,  and  Oliver  Brown  very  seriously,  made 
slow  night  marches  through  the"  South  Mountain  to  Chambers- 
bu-rg,  where  they  were  hidden  and  fed  by  a  very  few  sympathetic 
friends  who  knew  of  their  presence  in  the  neighborhood,  until 
they  were  strong  enough  to  continue  the  marches  along  the 
underground  railway  across  the  mountains  to  Bell's  Mills  in  the 
Juniata  Valley,  whence  they  proceeded  northward.  Brown 
remained  at  his  home  in  Crawford  county  and  no  attempt  was 
made  to  capture  him. 

The  Harper's  Ferry  battle  was  a  bloody  one.  A  large  major- 
ity of  Brown's  entire  force  were  either  killed  or  executed  and 


28  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

most  of  the  others  wounded.  Ten  of  the  attacking  party  were 
killed  during  the  fight,  seven  were  executed  and  five  escaped. 
The  number  of  colored  men  slain  by  the  reckless  firing  of  the 
belligerents  is  given  at  seventeen,  and  of  the  citizens  and  soldiers 
engaged  in  the  attack  on  Brown  eight  were  killed,  including  one 
colored  man,  and  nine  wounded.  Among  the  killed  was  Mayor 
Beckan,  of  the  city.  The  feeling  of  the  Virginia  people  was 
aroused  to  fiendish  intensity,  and  the  bodies  of  some  of  the 
insurgents  who  had  fallen  in  the  battle  were  subjected  to  name- 
less brutality. 

The  Harper's  Ferry  battle  aroused  the  South  to  intense  bit- 
terness and  resentment,  and  Governor  Wise  of  Virginia  made  a 
most  dramatic  exhibition  at  the  execution  of  Brown  and  his 
fellow  prisoners.  He  was  strongly  urged  by  such  prominent 
slavery  leaders  of  the  North  as  Fernando  Wood  and  others  to 
commute  the  punishment  of  the  prisoners  to  imprisonment  for 
life  as  a  matter  of  public  policy  and  safety  to  the  South,  but 
Governor  Wise  refused  to  entertain  the  proposition  and  the 
execution  of  these  prisoners  is  yet  memorable  in  Virginia  as 
one  of  the  most  impressive  exhibitions  ever  given  in  the  history 
of  the  State.  It  would  have  been  eminently  wise  for  the  Vir- 
ginia Governor  to  have  treated  Brown  and  his  fellow  prisoners 
as  fanatical  beyond  full  responsibility  of  the  law,  but  the  osten- 
tatious exhibition  of  vengeance  that  came  up  from  Virginia  did 
much  to  deepen  and  widen  the  anti-slavery  sentiment  of  the 
North. 

Few  ventured  to  excuse  Brown's  mad  raid  on  Harper's  Ferry 
to  incite  the  slaves  to  insurrection,  but  he  gave  his  life  in  such 
heroic  devotion  to  his  cause  that  the  Northern  people  were  im- 
pressed far  beyond  what  they  themselves  had  knowledge,  as  was 
proved  by  the  scores  of  thousands  of  soldiers  in  blue  who,  but 
two  years  later,  marched  to  fraternal  conflict  to  the  inspiring 
song  of  "John  Brown's  Body  Lies  Mouldering  in  the  Grave." 

Such  was  the  second  battle  of  our  Civil  War.  It  drew  the 
lines  between  slavery  and  anti-slavery  more  sharply  than  they 
had  ever  been  drawn  before,  and  thenceforth  it  was  only  a  ques- 
tion when  the  terrible  conflict  must  begin.  The  election  of 
Lincoln  the  following  year  simply  precipitated,  but  did  not  cause, 
the  sanguinary  struggle  that  through  four  years  of  the  bloodiest 
conflict  of  history  the  soldiers  alike  of  the  blue  and  gray  wrote 
records  of  the  grandest  heroism  of  the  world's  history. 


THE  BATTLE  OF  BRODERICK,  BAKER 
AND  McKIBBEN  TO  HOLD  THE  PA- 
CIFIC REGION  TO  THE   UNION. 

Three  men,  each  the  sole  architect  of  his  own  fortune,  bore  the 
burden  and  heat  of  the  day  in  shaping  the  destiny  of  the  Pacific 
slope  when  the  struggle  came  to  engulf  that  section  either  in 
a  struggle  for  separate  empire,  or  to  have  it  join  the  South  in  a 
revolutionary  effort  to  dismember  the  Union.  These  men  were 
David  C.  Broderick,  Edward  D.  Baker  and  Joseph  C.  Mc- 
Kibben.  Each  of  their  careers  is  replete  with  romance.  Their 
struggles  for  fame  and  fortune  brought  them  many  sore  dis- 
appointments. Two  of  them  died  a  tragic  death,  while  the 
other  witnessed  his  friend  fall  in  a  duel  that  was  provoked  by  the 
deliberate  purpose  to  end  the  power  and  career  of  the  chosen 
victim  on  what  is  called  the  field  of  honor. 

The  student  of  today,  in  looking  over  the  history  of  the  far 
West  and  its  wonderful  development  and  prosperity,  can  little 
understand  the  desperate  battles  which  had  to  be  fought  by  the 
brave  pioneers  of  the  golden  shores  of  the  Pacific  to  maintain  the 
mastery  of  loyalty  to  the  Union.  Broderick  and  Baker  gave 
their  lives  as  proof  of  their  patriotic  devotion  to  free  government, 
and  McKibben  braved  the  flame  of  battle  as  one  of  the  most 
gallant  soldiers  during  the  Civil  War. 

In  1860  there  were  but  two  States  on  the  Pacific  coast — Cali- 
fornia and  Oregon.  The  population  of  Oregon  gave  that  State 
but  one  Representative  in  Congress,  and  California  had  only 
two.  The  wealth  of  the  Pacific  coast  was  then  well  understood, 
and  there  were  many  leading  men  who  dreamed  of  a  separate 
and  independent  empire,  or,  failing  in  that,  hoped  to  cast  the 
destiny  of  the  Pacific  with  the  South  in  dismembering  the 
Union.  The  battle  for  the  mastery  of  the  slavery  sentiment,  un- 
der the  lead  of  William  W.  Gwin  and  Chief  Justice  Terry,  was 
fought  out  with  the  utmost  desperation.  Gwin  was  a  master 
leader;  had  represented  Tennessee  in  Congress,  and  repaired  to 
California  in  1848,  being  one  year  in  advance  of  the  memorable 
(29) 


3°  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

"forty-niners."  He  was  one  of  the  first  Senators  with  Fremont 
when  California  was  admitted  in  1850,  and  at  the  close  of  his 
term  he  was  confronted  and  mastered  by  David  E.  Broderick, 
one  of  the  most  remarkable  characters  of  American  history. 

Broderick's  father  had  emigrated  from  Ireland  to  accept  em- 
ployment as  a  stone  cutter  on  the  National  Capitol,  and  the  son 
was  born  in  Washington  on  the  4th  of  February,  1820.  When 
only  three  years  old  his  father  moved  to  New  York,  where  the 
son  served  an  apprenticeship  to  the  stone  cutter's  trade.  He 
soon  became  prominent  in  the  Volunteer  Fire  Department,  and 
in  1846  he  was  defeated  as  the  Democratic  candidate  for  Con- 
gress. He  was  one  of  the  earliest  of  the  "forty-niners"  to  make 
the  tedious  and  perilous  trip  to  California,  equally  tedious  and 
perilous  whether  over  land  or  by  sea,  and  among  the  sturdy 
pioneers  of  the  new  gold  fields  he  soon  became  a  leader.  Dur- 
ing his  first  year  as  a  resident  he  served  as  a  member  of  the 
Constitutional  Convention,  was  later  twice  elected  to  the  Senate, 
and  became  its  presiding  officer. 

Until  1856  the  Gwin-Terry  leadership  known  as  the  "velvet 
heads,"  was  in  control  of  the  politics  of  the  State,  but  in  that 
year  Broderick  and  McKibben  won  out,  resulting  in  the  election 
of  McKibben  to  Congress  and  Broderick  to  the  Senate.  It  was 
a  bitter  defeat  to  the  older  and  more  experienced  leaders  who 
represented  the  pro-slavery  cause,  and  Broderick  committed  the 
one  great  error  of  his  life  by  consenting  to  a  treaty  of  peace  with 
Gwin  and  permitting  him  to  be  elected  to  the  Senate  as  Brod- 
erick's colleague.  The  terms  of  the  treaty  were  humiliating  to 
Gwin,  and  he  not  only  assented  to  them,  but  they  were  pro- 
claimed to  the  public.  He  knew  that  with  a  Democratic  Presi- 
dent elected  almost  wholly  by  the  South  and  on  sectional  issues 
he  would  occupy  the  vantage  ground  in  Washington  as  a 
Senator  and  accomplish  the  overthrow  of  Broderick. 

Broderick  soon  took  issue  with  the  administration  on  the 
slavery  question  and  Gwin  became  the  absolute  master  of  the 
whole  power  of  the  general  government  in  his  State.  Severe 
friction  naturally  followed  between  the  two  Senators,  but  Brod- 
erick was  fearless  and  earnest  in  supporting  his  cause.  He  was 
one  of  the  quietest  and  most  unassuming  members  of  the  Senate 
and  rarely  took  the  floor  in  debate,  but  when  he  did  speak  he 
was  always  heard  with  respect  and  always  spoke  eloquently  and 
incisively.  He  opposed  the  policy  of  the  administration  on  the 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  31 

Kansas-Nebraska  bill  and  was  one  of  the  sturdiest  of  the  Dem- 
ocratic leaders  in  opposition  of  that  policy,  In  a  speech  deliv- 
ered in  the  Senate  on  the  22d  of  March,  1858,  discussing  the 
great  issue  that  had  been  forced  upon  the  country  by  the  South, 
he  admonished  the  friends  of  slavery  of  the  folly  of  the  battle 
they  had  precipitated.  He  said:  "Slavery  is  old,  decrepit  and  con- 
sumptive; freedom  is  young,  strong  and  vigorous.  One  is  nat- 
urally stationary  and  loves  ease;  the  other  is  migratory  and 
enterprising.  There  are  6,000,000  of  people  interested  in  the 
extension  of  slavery;  there  are  20,000,000  of  free-men  to  con- 
tend for  these  Territories  out  of  which  to  carve  for  themselves 
homes  where  labor  is  honorable." 

The  power  of  the  administration  was  a  controlling  political 
factor  in  his  State,  and  it  gave  an  easy  victory  to  the  opponents 
of  Broderick.  McKibben  had  stood  heroically  with  Broderick 
from  the  beginning  of  the  struggle,  although  his  father  was 
Buchanan's  closest  friend.  After  unfurling  the  flag  of  freedom 
and  fighting  its  battle  tirelessly  in  Washington,  Broderick  and 
McKibben  returned  to  their  far  distant  State  to  engage  in  the 
hopeless  effort  of  defending  their  cause  before  the  people.  Mc- 
Kibben was  rejected  as  a  Democratic  candidate  for  Congress  for 
re-election,  and  he  and  Colonel  E.  D.  Baker,  who  had  made  his 
home  in  California  a  few  years  before,  took  the  field  as  inde- 
pendent candidates.  Broderick,  Baker  and  McKibben  were  on 
the  hustings  from  the  opening  to  the  close  of  the  contest  and 
bowed  undaunted  to  the  defeat  that  they  knew  was  inevitable. 

Triumphant  in  their  contest  against  Broderick  and  McKibben, 
the  Gwin-Terry  coterie  deliberately  resolved  to  force  Broderick 
to  meet  his  foes  in  a  duel  until  he  fell  in  the  unequal  contest. 
When  he  left  Washington  to  return  home  in  the  spring  of  1859, 
when  the  sectional  issue  had  become  most  intense,  and  in  Cali- 
fornia had  been  carried  to  the  extent  of  absolute  personal  es- 
trangement, he  knew  the  fate  that  he  must  accept.  He  had  made 
a  most  impressive  reply  to  the  irritating  speech  of  Senator  Ham- 
mond, of  South  Carolina,  who  had  personally  reflected  upon, 
Senator  Broderick  by  referring  to  the  industrial  class  of  the1 
North  from  which  Broderick  had  sprung  as  the  "mudsills  of 
society."  Speaking  of  the  workingmen  of  the  nation  he  said: 
"If  I  were  inclined  to  forget  my  connection  with  them,  or  to 
deny  that  I  sprang  from  them,  this  chamber  would  not  be  the 
place  in  which  I  could  do  either.  While  I  hold  a  seat  I  have  but 


32  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

to  look  at  the  beautiful  capital  adorning  the  pilasters  which  sup- 
port this  roof  to  be  reminded  of  my  father's  talent  and  to  see  his 
handiwork."  He  then  spoke  of  the  great  battle  he  was  making 
for  the  sons  of  toil,  in  which  he  said:  "If  I  fall  in  the  struggle 
for  reputation  and  fortune  there  is  no  relative  on  earth  to  mourn 
my  death." 

On  his  return  to  California  he  entered  into  the  political  con- 
test, hopeless  as  it  was,  and  knowing  that  he  would  be  called  to 
account  by  his  enemies,  he  announced  that  he  would  take  no 
notice  of  persona!  controversy  until  after  the  election,  to  be  held 
on  the  /th  of  September.  Immediately  after  the  election  in 
which  Broderick  was  not  disappointed  at  his  defeat,  he  was  chal- 
lenged by  Chief  Justice  Terry,  and  on  the  I3th  of  the  same 
month  he  met  Terry  on  the  field  of  honor  with  McKibben  as  his 
second,  and  fell  at  the  first  fire,  with  his  antagonist  unharmed. 
He  lingered  until  the  i6th,  when  he  died,  and  his  death  did 
more  than  all  other  causes  combined  to  bring  California  back 
to  a  sternly  loyal  attitude,  and  gave  her  electoral  vote  to  Lin- 
coln, with  Douglas  leading  Breckinridge  several  thousand  votes. 

The  death  of  Broderick  made  a  most  profound  impression 
on  the  country,  and  was  indeed  second  only  to  the  assassina- 
tion of  Lincoln  in  its  appeal  to  the  loyal  sympathy  of  the  nation. 
The  mute  eloquence  that  came  from  the  grave  of  the  dead 
Broderick  was  an  hundred  fold  more  persuasive  for  the  loyal 
cause  than  were  all  the  efforts  and  teaching  that  a  live  Broderick 
could  have  given.  He  was  not  only  mourned  as  a  martyr  to 
his  faith,  but  throughout  the  wide  circle  of  his  friends  there 
was  the  profoundest  sense  of  personal  bereavement. 

Broderick  was  a  law  unto  himself.  Beginning  his  promi- 
nence as  a  New  York  fireman,  and  continuing  as  one  of  the 
earliest  pioneers  in  California,  he  was  a  man  entirely  apart 
from  his  associates  in  most  of  their  qualities.  He  was  un- 
known in  the  resorts  of  vice  and  pleasure,  so  commonly  accepted 
by  the  earliest  pioneers  in  the  absence  of  the  restraints  of  home 
and  society.  He  never  entered  a  saloon  or  took  a  drink  of  wine 
or  liquor.  He  never  was  known  to  engage  in  a  game  of  chance 
at  cards.  The  profanity  and  broad  story  which  were  insepara- 
ble in  the  association  in  which  he  lived  and  moved,  never 
passed  his  lips,  and  yet  he  was  worshipped  by  the  great  mass  of 
the  rude  pioneers  with  an  idolatry  that  was  never  given  to  any 
other  of  the  many  who  builded  wiser  than  they  knew  in  rearing 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  33 

the  great  Commonwealth  of  the  Golden  Gate.  He  had  fought 
his  great  battle  for  the  friendless  and  lowly;  had  given  his  life 
as  a  sacrifice  for  his  convictions  of  duty,  and  when  he  fell  as 
the  victim  of  a  murderous  conspiracy,  he  left  no  kith  or  kin  to 
bedew  his  grave  with  tears. 

I  saw  much  of  Broderick  during  his  service  in  the  Senate. 
He  was  often  at  the  hospitable  board  of  Colonel  Forney,  whose 
friendship  for  Broderick  bordered  on  the  romantic.  He  was  a 
man  of  very  gentle  and  agreeable  manners,  always  dressed  in 
quiet  elegance,  and  while  a  delightful  conversationalist  he  was 
ever  most  unobtrusive.  He  was  a  man  of  most  conscientious 
devotion  to  duty  and  commanded  the  respect  of  all  within  the 
range  of  his  acquaintance  by  his  earnest  and  dignified  devotion 
to  his  faith.  In  the  Senate  he  always  sat  quietly  in  his  seat 
where  his  fellow  Senators  would  often  stop  to  chat  with  him. 

The  conversations  I  had  with  him  profoundly  impressed  me 
with  the  failure  of  the  industrial  and  producing  people  of  the 
country  to  dignify  themselves  and  command  the  respect  of  the 
world  by  justly  cherishing  their  own  self-respect.  His  reply 
in  the  Senate  to  Senator  Chestnut  was  a  painful  confession  of 
the  humiliation  the  workingmen  of  the  country  suffered  be- 
cause they  did  not  properly  respect  themselves.  With  such 
convictions  and  with  his  sad  experience  in  the  rude  battle  he 
had  fought  for  distinction,  it  is  not  surprising  that  he  became 
the  heroic  champion  of  freedom  and  the  uncompromising  foe  of 
slavery,  and  that  his  earnest,  tireless  and  unblemished  record  in 
defense  of  his  people  was  sealed  with  his  death. 

Edward  D.  Baker,  next  to  Broderick,  rendered  the  most 
heroic  service  in  the  great  struggle  to  bring  the  Pacific  slope 
into  harmony  with  the  Union  and  in  opposition  to  the  demands 
of  slavery.  He  was  the  opposite  of  Broderick  in  almost  every 
feature  and  fibre.  Like  Broderick  he  sprang  from  the  hum- 
blest walks  of  life  and  started  his  career  in  Philadelphia  as  a 
"bobbin"  boy.  He  was  born  in  London,  February  24,  1811, 
and  was  brought  to  this  country  by  his  father  when  five  years 
of  age.  He  moved  to  the  far  West  at  an  early  day,  and  settled 
at  Springfield,  111.,  where  he  acquired  a  fair  English  education 
and  was  admitted  to  the  bar.  He  was  chosen  to  the  Legisla- 
ture in  1837,  to  the  State  Senate  in  1840,  and  in  1844  was 
elected  a  member  of  Congress  from  the  Springfield  district,  be- 
ing the  immediate  predecessor  of  Abraham  Lincoln.  He  re- 


34  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

signed  his  seat  in  Congress  to  command  a  regiment  in  the 
Mexican  war,  and  after  having  made  a  highly  creditable  record 
as  a  soldier,  when  the  war  closed  he  returned  to  Illinois  and 
settled  in  Galena,  from  which  district  he  was  again  elected  to 
Congress  in  1848. 

He  attained  a  high  position  in  Illinois  as  a  lawyer,  and  espe- 
cially as  an  advocate,  as  he  was  one  of  the  most  eloquent  and  im- 
pressive orators  of  the  West.  In  1851  he  settled  in  San  Fran- 
cisco, and  for  eight  years  he  was  regarded  as  one  of  the  foremost 
leaders  of  the  California  bar.  He  ran  for  Congress  with  McKib- 
ben  in  1858  in  opposition  to  the  pro-slavery  Democracy  of  the 
State,  and  when  defeated  he  removed  to  Oregon,  and  in  1861 
was  elected  to  the  United  States  Senate  by  the  united  vote  of 
the  Republicans  and  Douglas  Democrats. 

Colonel  Baker  was  the  most  eloquent  of  all  the  many  able 
men  who  confronted  the  Gwin-Terry,  or  pro-slavery,  organiza- 
tion in  California,  and  during  the  eight  years  of  his  residence 
in  that  State  he  stood  in  the  forefront  of  the  fight  with  Broderick 
and  McKibben  to  maintain  the  Union  inviolate.  Baker  came 
down  from  Oregon  to  San  Francisco  to  deliver  the  oration  on 
the  death  of  the  martyr  to  the  Union  and  freedom,  and  that 
address  is  accepted  as  one  of  the  most  eloquent  andi  impressive 
ever  delivered  in  the  history  of  the  Republic. 

Baker  took  his  seat  in  the  Senate  with  the  inauguration  of 
Lincoln  in  1861,  and  when  war  came  he  was  among  the  first  to 
offer  his  services  in  the  field.  He  was  one  of  the  most  impulsive 
and  restless  men  I  ever  knew.  I  saw  him  many  times,  but  never 
in  repose.  He  was  delightful  in  conversation,  keen  in  invective, 
admirable  in  wit,  and  as  eloquent  in  conversation,  when  he 
warmed  up  to  his  subject,  as  he  was  on  the  floor  of  the  Senate. 
He  always  seemed  to  me  to  be  a  man  whose  life  was  being  fretted 
away,  and  the  only  solution  of  the  matter  was  that,  having  won 
the  highest  legislative  honors  of  the  nation,  he  was  excluded 
from  the  highest  civil  trust  of  the  government  because  of  his 
alien  birth.  A  man  of  hi,s  vigorous  enthusiasm  and  hopefulness 
could  well  dream  the  dream  of  the  Presidency,  but  that  honor 
of  the  republic  was  forbidden  him. 

One  of  the  most  interesting  episodes  in  the  history  of  the  Sen- 
ate was  an  entirely  unexpected  and  unpremeditated  speech  de- 
livered by  Colonel  Baker,  in  reply  to  ex- Vice  President  Breckin- 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  35 

ridge,  of  Kentucky,  who  became  a  Senator  at  the  expiration  of 
his  term  of  Vice  President.  Baker  was  in  the  field  with  his  regi- 
ment, but  he  frequently  visited  Washington,  and  happened  one 
day  into  the  Senate  when  Breckinridge  was  delivering  the 
ablest  speech  that  the  Senate  heard  in  defense  of  the  action  of 
the  South  seceding  from  the  Union.  Baker  came  wearing  his  fa- 
tigue uniform,  and  was  at  once  attracted  by  the  earnest  and  im- 
pressive speech  of  the  ex-Vice  President,  and  when  Breck- 
inridge sat  down  Baker  sprang  to  his  feet  and  addressed 
the  Senate  in  a  measure  of  fervency  and  eloquence  that  can  never 
be  forgotten.  His  speech,  although  the  creation  of  a  sudden  im- 
pulse, was  strangely  and  grandly  prophetic.  He  told  how  the 
Union  would  triumph  in  the  fraternal  conflict,  and  how  even  if  it 
cost  untold  millions  of  treasure  and  hundreds  of  thousands  of 
lives,  it  would  emerge  from  the  struggle  greater  and  grander 
than  ever  before. 

It  was  one  of  the  most  impressive  scenes  that  ever  occurred 
in  the  first  legislative  tribunal  of  the  nation,  and  it  was  more 
reverently  remembered  when  only  a  few  weeks  thereafter  the 
eloquent  Senator  gave  his  life  to  his  country  on  the  Ball's  Bluff 
battlefield.  Broderick's  work  was  left  unfinished  when  he  fell 
in  the  duel  with  Terry,  but  Baker  came  from  a  newer  State  on 
the  Pacific  slope  to  aid  in  the  grand  consummation,  and,  like 
Broderick,  he  sealed  his  patriotic  devotion  to  the  Republic  with 
his  life.  Thus  after  only  a  few  weeks  of  service  in  the  Senate, 
Colonel  Baker's  great  work  was  finished,  and  the  Senate  and  the 
country  lost  one  of  their  most  eloquent  and  loyal  defenders. 
The  death  of  Senator  Baker,  like  that  of  Senator  Broderick,  was 
felt  throughout  the  land  as  a  national  bereavement,  and  I  saw 
thousands  after  thousands  pay  their  last  tribute  of  respect  to 
him  as  his  scarred  body  lay  in  state  in  Independence  Hall. 

Of  the  trio  who  contributed  most  to  shape  the  destiny  of  the 
Pacific  slope  in  harmony  with  the  Union,  Joseph  C.  McKibben 
was  the  only  one  who  lived  to  see  the  complete  triumph  of  the 
cause  for  which  they  each  had  battled  with  such  earnestness  and 
self-sacrifice.  Born  in  Pennsylvania  of  rugged  Scotch-Irish 
Democratic  stock,  he  was  among  the  earliest  of  the  "forty- 
niners"  to  seek  fortune  in  California,  where  he  was  serving  with 
Broderick  in  the  Senate  when  one  was  elected  to  the  United 
States  Senate  and  the  other  to  Congress.  He  was  a  man 


36  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

of  few  words  but  always  heroic  in  purpose.  His  towering  form 
over  six  feet  three,  almost  perfect  in  symmetrical  proportions, 
made  him  a  most  imposing  personality  on  all  occasions.  He 
was  sorely  tried  when  the  Kansas-Nebraska  issue  arose  in  Con- 
gress, as  his  father,  the  late  Chambers  McKibben,  was  one  of  the 
closest  friends  of  President  Buchanan,  and  had  done  as  much  as 
any  other  one  man  to  accomplish  Buchanan's  nomination;  but 
even  when  earnestly  appealed  to  by  his  father  to  harmonize  with 
the  administration,  the  brave  pioneer  of  the  Pacific  gently  but 
firmly  answered  by  saying  that  his  convictions  forbade  his  ap- 
proval of  the  policy  of  the  administration,  and  he  henceforth 
made  aggressive  warfare  with  Broderick  and  lived  to  see  the 
fullest  fruition  of  his  hopes. 

McKibben  had  stood  beside  Broderick  on  the  field  when 
Terry's  bullet  laid  Broderick  low;  he  saw  the  sacrifice  that  was 
made  in  the  cause  for  which  he  battled  and  he  never  ceased  in 
his  efforts  for  the  final  victory  until  he  saw  the  Union  fully  re- 
stored and  slavery  only  a  painful  memory.  When  war  came  he 
entered  the  army  and  rendered  heroic  service  in  the  Southwest 
on  the  staff  of  Rosecrans.  He  and  three  of  his  brothers  were  clad 
in  their  country's  blue  in  the  greatest  war  of  history,  and  when 
peace  came  and  the  great  battle  of  his  life  had  resulted  in  victory, 
he  quietly  settled  down  in  Washington,  where  he  lived  until  a 
few  years  ago,  when  the  inexorable  messenger  called  him  to  the 
unknown  life  beyond. 

Such  is  in  brief  the  history  of  the  trio  of  men  without  whom 
California  would  have  been  mastered  by  the  anti-union  element 
of  the  South,  or  led  into  the  vortex  of  the  independent  empire. 
It  was  a  hard,  indeed  a  desperate,  battle  that  they  fought  in  the 
early  stages  of  the  conflict,  but  they  never  wearied  however  dis- 
asters seemed  to  surge  upon  them.  Two  of  them  met  untimely 
and  tragic  death  because  of  their  devotion  to  country,  and  long 
years  thereafter  the  sequel  of  the  Broderick  tragedy  came  in  the 
equally  tragic  death  of  the  man  who  bore  the  blood  of  Broderick 
upon  his  skirts. 


GALES  AND  BLAIR,  THE  GREAT  ED- 
ITORS OF  OLDEN  TIMES. 

The  history  of  the  great  editors  of  the  olden  time  from  the 
organization  of  the  government  until  a  half  century  ago,  would 
be  practically  a  history  of  American  journalism  during  that 
period.  Newspapers  were  a  luxury,  were  few  in  number,  limited 
in  circulation,  and  their  importance  and  influence  depended 
wholly  upon  the  individuality  of  the  editor.  Leaving  out  Frank- 
lin, whose  greatest  distinction  was  in  other  lines  although  rather 
an  audacious  pioneer  in  American  journalism,  the  one  name  that 
stands  out  with  the  clearest  prominence  as.  the  exemplar  of  the 
best  journalism  during  the  first  half  of  the  last  century,  is  that  of 
Joseph  Gales,  who  for  more  than  fifty  years  was  connected  with 
the  National  Intelligencer  and  soon  gave  it  the  high  national 
character  that  it  maintained  until  its  death.  - 

Joseph  Gales  came  from  sturdy  English  stock.  His  father, 
after  a  desperate  struggle  as  editor  and  proprietor  of  the  Shef- 
field Register,  was  finally  driven  from  England  because  of  his  in- 
dependence in  defying  the  autocratic  power  of  that  day  by  what 
was  declared  to  be  seditious  teaching,  and  after  much  tribula- 
tion he  finally  reached  Philadelphia  with  his  family  in  the  sum- 
mer of  1795.  He  obtained  employment  as  a  printer,  but  soon 
commanded  special  recognition  by  furnishing  in  the  rude  short- 
hand of  that  day,  a  complete  transcript  of  the  proceedings  in 
Congress  for  the  Independent  Gazetteer,  In  a  short  time  he 
became  owner  of  the  paper  and  continued  its  publication  until 
1799,  when  he  was  induced  to  leave  Philadelphia  because  of  the 
then  general  apprehension  that  the  yellow  fever  scourge  was 
likely  to  be  an  annual  visitor  to  the  city.  He  moved  to  Raleigh, 
N.  C.,  and  there  established  the  Raleigh  Register,  named  after 
his  Sheffield  seditious  organ,  and  the  Raleigh  journal  was  main- 
tained as  one  of  the  ablest  and  most  influential  papers  of  the 
South  by  the  Gales  family  until  civil  war  engulfed  it. 

When  the  government  was  moved  to  Washington  in  1800 
Samuel  Harrison  Smith,  who  had  purchased  the  Gazetteer  from 

(37) 


*-'». 

v3$  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

the  elder  Gales,  moved  with  the  government  to  the  new  capital, 
and  there  established  it  as  the  National  Intelligencer,  and  in  1807 
the  younger  Joseph  Gales,  who  had  been  trained  to  journalism 
under  his  father  at  Raleigh,  was  engaged  as  an  assistant  to  Mr. 
Smith  in  the  editorial  and  business  direction  of  the  paper.  He 
rose  rapidly  in  his  journalistic  work  and  became  a  partner  of 
Mr.  Smith  within  two  years.  In  1810  Mr.  Smith  severed  his 
connection  with  the  paper,  leaving  Mr.  Gales  sole  proprietor. 
In  1812  W.  W.  Seatpn,  who  had  married  a  sister  of  Joseph  Gales, 
became  connected  with  the  Intelligencer,  and  it  was  published 
by  Gales  &  Seaton  from  that  time  until  the  3ist  of  December, 
1864,  when  the  greatest  of  all  our  public  journals  during  the 
early  part  of  the  last  century  perished  in  the  tempest  of  civil  war. 

Joseph  Gales,  like  his  father,  had  practiced  the  printer's  craft 
in  Philadelphia,  where  he  became  a  master  in  the  art  of  stenog- 
raphy, and  his  high  standard  of  intellectual  vigor  and  culture 
made  him  one  of  the  ablest  political  disputants  of  the  nation.  Mr. 
Seaton,  his  partner,  had  also  acquired  proficiency  in  shorthand 
reporting,  and  they  made  the  only  reports  of  the  debates  in  Con- 
gress that  approached  accuracy  until  official  reports  became  rec- 
ognized as  a  necessity.  Mr.  Gales  reported  the  proceedings  in 
the  Senate,  and  Mr.  Seaton  reported  them  in  the  House.  It 
was  only  by  Mr.  Gales'  shorthand  report  that  Webster's  reply  to 
Hayne,  accepted  as  the  ablest  exposition  of  constitutional  rights 
ever  given  by  an  American  statesman,  was  preserved  precisely 
as  it  was  delivered.  His  notes  were  carefully  preserved,  magnifi- 
cently bound,  and  are  yet  held  by  some  of  the  Webster  descend- 
ants as  one  of  the  most  valuable  of  the  many  relics  of  the  great 
•expounder. 

I  met  Joseph  Gales  many  times,  but  only  in  a  casual  way,  and 
have  no  claim  to  intimate  acquaintance  with  him,  but  as  I  had 
read  the  weekly  National  Intelligencer  with  the  aid  of  a  tallow 
dip  when  an  apprentice,  and  highly  enjoyed  its  great  editorials, 
unsurpassed  in  purity  and  diction  and  forceful  expression,  I  was 
always  interested  in  the  man,  and  was  specially  gratified  on  my 
later  rare  visits  to  Washington  of  those  days  to  get  even  a 
glimpse  of  the  great  American  editor.  He  was  a  most  accom- 
plished gentleman  of  the  old  school,  always  courteous  and  de- 
lightfully genial  in  the  circle  of  his  home  and  intimate  friends. 
He  possessed  a  commanding  personality  and  the  strongly 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  39 

marked  intellectuality  of  his  features,  with  his  perfect  grace  of 
manner,  attracted  all  who  came  within  the  range  of  his  move- 
ments. 

Mr.  Gales  became  connected  with  the  National  Intelligencer 
during  the  last  term  of  the  Jefferson  administration,  and  from 
that  time  until  the  advent  of  Jackson,  in  1829,  the  Intelligencer, 
under  his  direction,  was  what  might  be  called  the  organ  of  the 
administration  of  Jefferson,  Madison,  Monroe  and  John  Quincy 
Adams.  It  was  not  an  organ  in  the  sense  in  which  the  term  is 
generally  accepted  now.  The  government  had  no  favors  which  it 
was  compelled  to  seek.  It  commanded  the  limited  patronage  of 
the  government  solely  by  reason  of  its  exceptionally  strong  posi- 
tion as  a  Washington  and  national  public  journal,  and  while  it 
rarely  had  occasion  to  criticise  the  public  policy  of  those  adminis- 
trations, it  often  took  the  lead  in  clearing  the  political  pathway 
when  grave  problems  were  presented  to  the  government. 

The  editorials  in  the  Intelligencer  before  and  during  the  war 
of  1812  were  regarded  as  ranking  with  the  teachings  of  Clay  in 
the  House  and  Crawford  in  the  Senate,  who  were  the  recognized 
oracles  of  the  war  sentiment  of  the  country.  In  the  meantime 
the  Intelligencer  had  grown  to  be  a  widely  circulated  daily  for 
that  period,  with  semi-weekly  and  weekly  editions  which  reached 
every  State  in  the  Union.  It  was  the  most  delectable  of  all  the 
great  papers  ever  published  in  this  country.  It  had  all  the  dig- 
nity of  the  London  Times,  tempered  and  embellished  with  a 
degree  of  vigor  and  progress  which  made  it  quite  as  highly 
respected  in  the  new  world  as  was  the  London  Times  in  the  old 
world.  There  were  then  no  telegraphs  or  telephones,  and  most 
of  the  time  no  railways  to  crowd  news  into  the  editorial  sanctum, 
and  beyond  the  editorials  of  the  leading  newspapers  the  chief 
labor  of  such  a  journal  was  an  intelligent  use  of  scissors  and 
paste.  The  paper  was  most  studiously  edited  from  the  first  to 
the  last  column,  and  its  news  and  selections  were  given  in  the 
most  inviting  form.  I  have  often  seen  the  Daily  National  Intelli- 
gencer, when  Gales  was  in  the  zenith  of  his  greatness,  issued  with 
less  than  half  a  column  of  editorial  matter.  Editorials  were  not 
then  regarded  as  a  daily  necessity,  but  when  occasion  demanded 
elaborate  discussion  of  any  public  question  a  leader  would  appear 
in  the  Intelligencer  filling  two  or  three  columns,  and  sometimes 
even  a  full  page.  They  were  essays  rather  than  editorial  leaders, 


40  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

and  as  polished  as  if  they  came  from  the  pen  of  a  Macaulay.  The 
idea  of  anything  even  approaching  sensationalism  in  presenting 
the  news  was  never  for  a  moment  entertained,  and  thus  for 
more  than  half  a  century  the  National  Intelligencer,  under  the 
direction  of  Joseph  Gales,  pursued  the  even  dignified  tenor  of 
its  way. 

When  Jackson  came  into  power  in  1829,  bringing  with  him  a 
horde  of  political  expectants  that  swarmed  upon  Washington 
in  search  of  spoils,  Mr.  Gales  had  his  first  lesson  in  political 
antagonism,  and  he  proved  to  be  one  of  the  most  effective  of  all 
the  assailants  of  the  policy  of  Jackson  that  culminated  in  the 
overthrow  of  Van  Buren  in  1840.  The  criticisms  of  Jackson's 
policy  were  as  fearless  and  able  as  they  were  dignified,  and  they 
searchingly  exposed  the  political  faults  of  the  administration 
while  sustaining  it  in  great  trials  when  Jackson  was  right,  such 
as  was  presented  in  the  South  Carolina  nullification  episode.  Mr. 
Gales  was  heartily  for  the  majesty  of  the  national  authority,  but 
he  profoundly  and  incisively  deplored  the  new  political  policy 
that  came  with  Jackson  openly  proclaiming  that  "to  the  victors 
belong  the  spoils." 

Until  Jackson  became  President  everything  relating  to  the 
government  was  conducted  on  the  highest  plane  of  convention- 
ality, and  the  inauguration  of  Jackson's  methods,  illustrated  at 
times  by  the  President  smoking  a  corncob  pipe  while  informally 
receiving  visitors  and  officials  in  the  White  House,  was  a  rude 
shock  alike  to  the  social  and  political  methods  which  had  so 
uniformly  prevailed  in  Washington.  The  first  of  all  the  humor- 
ous and  satirical  political  writers  to  attain  fame  was  the  author 
of  the  Jack  Downing  (Seba  Smith)  letters  in  the  National  Intelli- 
gencer. They  were  relatively  quite  as  widely  read  and  com- 
mented on  at  that  time  as  were  the  letters  of  Petroleum  V. 
Nasby  during  the  war  and  reconstruction  periods.  The  fact  that 
these  letters  appeared  in  the  most  dignified  and  respected  jour- 
nal of  the  country  was  conclusive  evidence  that  they  exhibited 
the  highest  type  of  the  satirist,  and  it  is  known  that  the  keen 
invective  of  Jack  Downing  was  a  more  irritating  thorn  in  the 
side  of  Jackson  and  his  political  followers  than  were  the  assaults 
of  any  of  the  able  journals  of  the  country  which  were  then  in 
opposition. 

Of  course,  the  high  and  successful  standard  of  journalism 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  41 

established  by  Joseph  Gales  would  fall  far  short  of  the  require- 
ments of  journalism  in  the  present  age,  but  it  is  only  just  to  say 
that  for  a  period  of  half  a  century  he  conducted  a  public  journal 
of  national  reputation,  and  maintained  a  pre-eminent  position  in 
American  journalism,  even  when  brought  into  competition  with 
the  pioneers  of  progressive  newspapers  issued  by  Greeley  and 
Bennett.  The  old-time  journalism  required  little  energy  in  gath- 
ering all  the  news,  the  most  successful  journals  of  early  times 
became  so  largely  because  of  their  ability  and  dignified  conserva- 
tism. There  were  many  violent  partisan  newspapers  in  those 
days  which  assailed  opposing  parties  and  candidates  with  a 
measure  of  defamation  that  would  not  be  tolerated  in  the  present 
age,  but  it  is  creditable  to  the  integrity  of  the  olden  time,  that 
the  National  Intelligencer,  which  represented  the  absolute  mas- 
tery of  dignity  and  conservatism  in  journalism,  was  the  most  re- 
spected and  potent  of  the  great  newspapers  of  that  period. 

Mr.  Gales  followed  the  policy  of  Webster  as  proclaimed  in  his 
great  speech  in  reply  to  Hayne,  and  supported  Harrison,  Clay, 
Taylor  and  Scott  as  Whig  candidates  for  the  Presidency.  He  ar- 
dently approved  and  defended  the  compromise  measures  of  1850 
which  wrecked  the  Whig  party,  and  in  1856,  when  the  great  sec- 
tional issue  became  paramount,  'he  had  refuge  under  the  banner 
of  Fillmore,  whose  administration  he  had  earnestly  commended. 
It  was  evident,  however,  that  the  power  of  this  great  newspaper 
and  its  great  editor  was  sadly  enfeebled,  as  it  stood  on  the  narrow 
middle  ground  between  the  fiercely  contending  parties  organized 
on  sectional  lines.  The  leaders  of  the  slave  interests  had  gone 
far  beyond  the  bounds  of  conservatism,  and  their  devotion  to  the 
Union  was  secondary  to  their  devotion  to  slavery,  while  the 
Republicans  of  the  North,  inflamed  by  the  aggressive  exactions 
of  the  slave  power,  offered  no  field  for  the  conservative  and 
always  patriotic  appeals  of  Joseph  Gales. 

The  great  issue  that  absorbed  the  nation  had  passed  beyond 
conservative  restraint,  and  the  National  Intelligencer,  at  whose 
utterances  in  former  times  the  leaders  of  all  parties  took  pause, 
languished  in  patronage,  in  influence  and  in  every  attribute  of 
successful  journalism,  save  the  dignity  and  elegance  which 
always  embellished  its  columns.  Fortunately  in  the  midsummer 
of  1860,  when  the  always  able  and  earnest  but  almost  unnoted 
appeals  for  the  preservation  of  the  Union  by  the  election  of  John 


43     .  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

Bell  were  well  maintained,  Joseph  Gales  was  called  to  the  dream- 
less couch  of  the  dead.  His  great  work  was  done,  and  he  was 
gathered  to  his  fathers  before  he  could  witness  the  lingering 
death  of  the  great  national  newspaper  to  which  he  had  devoted 
^his  life,  and  by  which  he  made  American  journalism  honored 
at  home  and  abroad.  His  surviving  partner  and  brother-in-law, 
Mr.  Seaton,  continued  the  struggle,  but  the  paper  was  powerless 
as  conservatism  was  a  stranger  in  the  fierce  passions  of  civil  war, 
and  Mr.  Seaton  retired  from  it  on  the  3ist  of  December^  1864, 
and  soon  thereafter  the  great  National  Intelligencer  was  only  a 
memory. 

The  first  of  the  great  editors  of  the  country  to  inaugurate  vio- 
lent and  defamatory  partisan  warfare  was  William  Duane,  of 
the  Philadelphia  Aurora,  which  was  the  organ  of  Jefferson  as 
against  Washington  and  Adams.  Its  criticisms  of  both  Wash- 
ington and  Adams,  when  in  the  presidency,  were  vituperative  to 
a  degree  that  no  self-respecting  journal  would  imitate  in  this  age, 
but  Jefferson  attributed  his  success  over  Adams  in  1800  very 
largely  to  Duane,  who  retired  from  the  Aurora  on  the  removal 
of  the  government  to  Washington,  and  accepted  a  lieutenant 
colonelcy  in  the  army  from  Jefferson. 

The  next  editor  of  this  class  to  attain  national  fame  was  Duff 
Green.  He  established  the  United  States  Telegraph  in  Wash- 
ington on  the  accession  of  John  Quincy  Adams  to  the  Presi- 
dency, and  violently  assailed  the  administration  and  advocated 
the  cause  of  Jackson  with  a  degree  of  fervency  and  recklessness 
in  painful  contrast  with  the  dignity  and  courtesy  of  Mr.  Gales, 
of  the  Intelligencer,  that  was  accepted  as  the  organ  of  Adams. 
When  the  breach  came  between  Jackson  and  Calhoun,  Green 
supported  Calhoun,  and  a  new  organ  for  the  Jackson  adminis- 
tration became  a  necessity. 

I  very  well  remember  Duff  Green,  who,  after  his  political 
course  had  been  run  and  he  was  well  down  at  the  heel,  came 
before  the  Pennsylvania  Legislature  over  forty  years  ago,  when 
I  was  a  member  of  the  House,  and  personally  appealed  to  the 
members  to  pass  his  Fiscal  Agency  bill.  It  was  regarded  by 
some  as  a  huge  joke  and  by  others  as  the  wildest  of  financial 
dreams,  as,  under  the  powers  of  his  charter,  he  could  have  fin- 
anced the  nations  of  the  world.  It  was  generally  accepted  as  a 
harmless  vagary  of  the  old  man,  and  it  was  passed  solely  because 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  43 

of  the  general  sympathy  felt  for  him,  none  dreaming  that  the 
franchise  would  ever  be  of  any  value.  The  sequel  of  the  story 
may  be  read  in  the  scarred  history  of  the  Credit  Mobilier,  that 
was  simply  Duff  Green's  Fiscal  Agency  granted  by  the  Penn- 
sylvania Legislature,  changed  in  name  and  used  for  the  con- 
struction of  the  Union  Pacific  Railway. 

Green's  alienation  from  the  Jackson  administration  brought 
Amos  Kendall  to  the  front.  He  was  one  of  the  ablest  political 
leaders  jof  his  day,  and  then  held  the  position  of  Fourth  Auditor 
of  the  Treasury.  Kendall  brought  Francis  P.  Blair  to  Washing- 
ton, who,  like  Kendall,  was  then  a  resident  of  Kentucky,  and 
who  was  known  to  the  President  as  the  author  of  a  number  of 
able  political  articles  defending  Jackson.  Mr.  Blair  located  in 
Washington  and  established  the  Globe.  The  abl'e  and  pungent 
articles  of  Blair  and  Kendall  soon  gave  the  new  administration 
organ  a  national  reputation.  Mr.  Blair's  connection  with  the 
Globe  continued  for  nearly  twenty  years,  and  during  that  period 
it  was  accepted  by  all  as  the  ablest  exponent  of  Democratic 
faith.  Mr.  Blair  was  not  only  one  of  the  ablest  political  writers 
of  his  day,  but  he  was  a  broad  gauge  political  manager.  He 
became  the  confidential  adviser  of  Jackson,  and  he  and  Kendall 
were  credited  with  the  authorship  of  some  of  Jackson's  best 
state  papers.  While  the  Globe  under  Mr.  Blair  did  not  approach 
the  dignity  and  courtesy  which  were  always  displayed  in  Mr. 
Gales'  National  Intelligencer,  that  was  its  chief  disputant  in  all 
political  discussions,  it  did  not  descend  to  the  violent  vitupera- 
tion of  the  Duane  school. 

The  Globe,  under  Mr.  Blair,  continued  as  the  organ  of  the 
Van  Buren  administration,  and  after  the  election  and  death  of 
Harrison  its  leaders  and  its  editor  bore  a  conspicuous  part  in 
alienating  Tyler  from  his  Whig  associates.  I  doubt  whether  in 
the  history  of  American  journalism  any  one  editor  was  as  great 
a  political  leader  as  was  Francis  P.  Blair.  Thurlow  Weed  ap- 
proached him  in  that  line,  but  could  hardly  be  classed  as  his 
equal,  and  certainly  not  as  his  superior.  From  the  time  of  his 
connection  with  the  Globe  until  Mr.  Polk,  in  1845,  was  un" 
fortunately  persuaded  to  dismiss  Blair  from  the  editorship  of 
the  national  organ  and  substitute  Mr.  Ritchie,  of  the  Richmond 
Inquirer,  Mr.  Blair  was  even  more  potent  as  a  Democratic 
leader  than  either  of  the  Democratic  Presidents  who  were  so 


44  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S" 

greatly  indebted  to  him  for  their  success.  No  administration 
measure  was  adopted  without  his  approval,  and  no  national 
policy  of  the  party  and  no  national  candidates  were  accepted 
against  his  protest. 

General  Jackson  was  yet  living  in  feeble  health  in  Mr.  Folk's 
own  State  and  he  earnestly  protested  against  changing  Mr.  Blair 
from  the  position  of  Democratic  oracle,  but  Virginia  had  very 
shrewdly  directed  the  Democratic  National  Convention  of  1844 
that  nominated  Polk,  and  "Father"  Ritchie,  as  he  was  then 
called,  who  had  made  the  Richmond  Inquirer  for  many  years 
the  great  organ  of  the  mother  of  Presidents,  was  brought  to 
Washington  and  installed  as  editor  of  the  Globe,  whose  title  was 
changed  to  that  of  the  Washington  Union.  With  the  retirement 
of  Mr.  Blair  the  importance  of  the  national  organ  perished.  The 
Union,  under  Ritchie  soon  ceased  to  command  the  respect  of 
the  Democratic  leaders,  and  while  every  President  until  the 
great  revolution  of  1861  had  his  organ,  they  steadily  degen- 
erated in  public  respect  and  influence,  and  during  the  'last  gen- 
eration the  leaders  of  all  parties  have  ceased  to  look  to  Wash- 
ington for  political  direction  through  the  party  journal. 

The  overthrow  of  Mr.  Blair  by  Polk  in  1845  was  tne  first 
public  confession  by  the  administration  that  the  Calhoun  ele- 
ment of  the  Democratic  party  had  triumphed  over  the  mastery 
of  Jackson;  and  while  Mr.  Blair,  a  devoted  follower  of  Jackson, 
ceased  to  be  a  Democratic  leader,  he  became  a  very  important 
and  dangerous  factor  in  disturbing  Democratic  aims  and  suc- 
cess. President  Polk  sought  to  conciliate  him  by  tendering  him 
the  Spanish  mission,  but  it  was  peremptorily  declined.  Mr. 
Blair  exhibited  his  dissent  from  Democratic  leadership  at  that 
time  by  supporting  Van  Buren  against  Cass  in  1848,  and  while 
he  joined  in  the  support  of  Pierce  in  1852,  he  was  one  of  the 
first  and  among  the  boldest  to  denounce  the  repeal  of  the  Mis- 
souri Compromise  in  1854.  The  revolution  that  followed  the 
overthrow  of  the  Missouri  Compromise  presented  a  confusing 
mass  of  discordant  political  elements  with  opposition  to  the  ex- 
tension of  slavery  as  the  single  principle  of  cohesion.  The  oc- 
casion called  for  the  ablest  and  ripest  leadership,  and  Mr.  Blair 
was  the  one  man  most  conspicuous  of  all  in  meeting  that  great 
emergency. 

He  was  more  nearly  the  founder  of  the  Republican  party  than 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  45 

any  other  one  man,  and  he  presided  at  the  Pittsburg  conference 
in  January,  1856,  which  proclaimed  the  organization  of  the  party 
that  made  Abraham  Lincoln  President  four  years  later.  It  is 
known  that  Henry  J.  Raymond  wrote  the  address  that  defined 
the  purposes  of  the  new  political  organization,  but  the  master 
spirit  of  the  whole  movement,  and  one  whose  counsels  were  most 
generally  accepted,  was  Francis  P.  Blair.  He  not  only  was  most 
prominent  in  the  organization  of  the  party,  and  in  defining  its 
policy,  but  if  Francis  P.  Blair  had  not  then  been  living  John  C. 
Fremont  would  not  have  been  the  Republican  candidate  for 
President  in  1856.  It  was  Mr.  Blair  who  created  Fremont  as  a 
Presidential  possibility,  and  it  was  the  faith  of  Weed,  of  Greeley, 
of  Wilmot,  and  of  many  others  in  the  political  sagacity  of  Mr. 
Blair  that  made  them  accept  his  candidate.  He  chose  Fremont 
not  only  because  of  the  romance  that  attached  to  his  career  in  the 
army  and  as  an  explorer,  buit  because  he  was  entirely  unknown 
in  politics  beyond  the  fact  that  he  was  the  son-in-law  of  Senator 
Thomas  H.  Benton,  and  he  was  the  one  man  possessing  some 
measure  of  national  fame  who  presented  no  sharp  antagonisms 
to  the  various  discordant  elements  out  of  which  the  Republican 
party  was  created. 

I  met  Mr.  Blair  many  times  in  the  early  days  of  the  Repub- 
lican organization.  He  was  not  a  man  of  imposing  presence 
nor  specially  attractive  in  manner.  He  lacked  the  finely  chiseled 
face  and  outward  intellectual  signs  of  Gales,  but  he  impressed  all 
who  came  into  conference  with  him  with  his  masterly  ability  as  a 
political  leader.  He  was  always  incisive  and  unimpassioned  in 
conversation,  and  I  do  not  recall  a  single  instance  in  which  he 
ever  made  a  public  speech.  I  met  him  in  Philadelphia  in  confer- 
ence with  Simon  Cameron,  Thurlow  Weed  and  Henry  Wilson 
after  the  October  election  of  1856,  when  the  Fremont  ticket  was 
defeated  by  only  a  few  thousands.  It  was  hoped  that  because  of 
the  small  majority  for  the  Democratic  State  ticket,  the  State 
might  be  saved  for  President  by  union  on  an  electoral  ticket,  and 
the  calculation  was  not  greatly  at  fault,  as  is  shown  by  the  fact 
that  Buchanan  had  only  about  one  thousand  majority  over  the 
combined  vote  of  Fremont  and  Fillmore.  Wilson  was  the  en- 
thusiastic and  hopeful  man  of  the  party,  and  he  earnestly  urged 
a  desperate  battle  to  save  the  State,  but  while  Cameron,  Weed 


46  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

and  Blair  accepted  the  necessity  of  making  the  battle  they  were 
not  confident  as  to  the  result. 

After  discussing  the  situation  for  some  time,  Wilson  in  his 
hopeful  enthusiasm  said,  "Well,  they  may  beat  us  this  time,  but 
we  will  win  in  1860."  Cameron,  Weed  and  Blair  were  then  all 
crowding  around  the  patriarchal  age,  and  Cameron,  always  prac- 
tical in  his  ideas,  answered  that  it  was  very  well  for  Wilson  to 
look  hopefully  for  future  triumphs  for  the  new  party,  but  that 
as  for  himself  and  Blair  and  Weed,  he  "didn't  see  much  in  future 
victories  if  they  had  to  begin  by  waiting  four  years."  All  of 
them,  however,  lived  to  play  most  important  parts  in  the  civil 
war  and  in  reconstruction.  Blair  and  Weed  reminded  out  their 
eighty-five  years,  and  Cameron  died  at  the  age  of  ninety. 

Mr.  Blair  maintained  the  confidence  of  the  Republican  party 
as  one  of  its  great  leaders ;  he  was  an  important  factor  in  effect- 
ing the  nomination  of  Lincoln  at  Chicago  in  1860,  and  was  one 
of  Lincoln's  most  trusted  advisers  during  the  severe  trials  of  our 
civil  war.  During  the  last  year  of  the  fraternal  struggle  Mr. 
Blair  believed  that  the  time  had  come  when  there  should  be 
intermediation  from  some  source  that  could  command  con- 
fidence on  both  sides,  and  without  advising  Mr.  Lincoln  of  his 
purpose,  so  as  to  avoid  all  complications  in  case  of  his  failure, 
he  asked  the  President  for  a  pass  beyond  the  lines  of  the  Union 
army.  It  was  granted  without  question,  because  of  the  con- 
fidence that  was  reposed  in  the  intelligence  and  discretion  of 
Mr.  Blair.  He  approached  the  outposts  of  the  Southern  army 
and  presented  his  pass  from  the  President  and  stated  that  his 
movement  was  entirely  his  owrn  and  his  purpose  was  to  confer 
with  President  Davis  on  the  subject  of  peace. 

He  was  passed  through  the  Confederate  lines  to  Richmond, 
wheie  he  had  protracted  conferences  with  Davis  and  those  im- 
mediately in  his  confidence.  It  was  this  movement  of  Mr.  Blair 
that  led  to  the  peace  conference  at  City  Point  on  the  3d  of 
February,  1865,  when  Vice-President  Stephens,  at  the  head  of  a 
Confederate  commission,  met  President  Lincoln,  Seward  and 
others  to  find  some  method  of  ending  the  terrible  war.  He  was 
safely  returned  through  both  armies,  and  earnestly  urged  the 
personal  appearance  of  the  President  at  the  City  Point  con- 
ference. 

With  the  assassination  of  Mr.  Lincoln,  Mr.  Blair's  mission  as 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  47 

a  Republican  leader  ended.  He  was  not  in  harmony  with  the 
violent  and  revengeful  policy  at  first  declared  by  Johnson,  and 
later  was  no  more  in  harmony  with  the  violent  reconstruction 
measures  which  the  dispute  between  the  President  and  Congress 
precipitated.  Thereafter  he  acted  with  the  Democratic  party, 
and  exhibited  great  skill  as  a  leader  in  accomplishing  the  nom- 
ination of  Tilden  in  1876,  but  he  did  not  live  to  see  his  candidate 
receive  his  popular  majority  of  250,000,  although  defeated  in  the 
electoral  vote  by  the  judgment  of  the  Electoral  Commission.  On 
the  1 8th  of  October,  1876,  Francis  P.  Blair,  one  of  the  greatest 
of  the  country's  editors,  and  for  nearly  half  a  century  one  of  the 
greatest  of  all  our  political  masters,  passed  away  to  the  City  of 
the  Silent. 


IF   THEY    HAD    NOT    FIRED    ON 
SUMTER. 

If  the  Confederate  Government  had  not  fired  on  Sumter  and 
had  refrained  from  any  like  attack  upon  the  United  States  troops 
or  the  flag  of  the  Union,  I  believe  that  the  Confederacy  would 
have  been  successfully  established,  and  that  the  North  and  the 
South  would  have  gradually  drifted  into  fretful  and  destructive 
anarchy.  This  assertion  will  startle  many  of  the  students  of  the 
history  of  our  civil  war,  but  let  the  intelligent  and  dispassionate 
inquirer  look  the  facts  in  the  face. 

Abraham  Lincoln  was  elected  President  of  the  United  States 
on  the  6th  of  November,  1860,  and  that  election  was  made  a 
pretext  for  precipitating  secession  in  the.  South.  South  Carolina 
took  the  initiative,  and  passed  the  ordinance  of  secession  by  a 
unanimous  vote  on  the  I7th  of  December.  Georgia  fol- 
lowed on  the  iQth  of  December,  Louisiana  on  the  25th, 
Mississippi  on  the  pth  of  January,  Florida  on  the  loth, 
Alabama  on  the  nth,  Virginia  on  the  i8th  of  April,  Texas  on  the 
1st  of  May,  Arkansas  on  the  6th,  North  Carolina  on  the  2ist, 
and  Tennessee  on  the  24th,  as  proclaimed  by  Governor  Harris. 
Kentucky  was  also  declared  out  of  the  Union  by  a  Southern 
conference  or  convention  at  Russellville  that  passed  an  ordinance 
of  secession  on  the  i8th  of  November,  1861.  Missouri  and 
Maryland  were  also  greatly  convulsed  over  the  question  of  se- 
cession. Governor  Hicks,  of  Maryland,  took  a  strong  position 
in  favor  of  the  Union,  while  Governor  Jackson,  of  Missouri,  de- 
clared in  favor  of  recognizing  the  Confederacy. 

Such  was  the  action  of  the  States  of  the  South  on  the  question 
of  secession,  and  each  convention  that  assumed  to  sever  the 
relations  between  the  State  and  the  Federal  Government  chose 
members  to  the  first  Confederate  Congress  that  met  at  Mont- 
gomery, the  temporary  capital,  on  February  4,  1861,  with  How- 
ell  Cobb  as  President.  In  accepting  his  position,  Mr.  Cobb  de- 
clared that  the  secession  of  the  Southern  States  "is  now  a  fixed 
(48) 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  49 

and  irrevocable  fact,  and  that  the  separation  is  complete  and 
perpetual." 

On  the  8th  of  February  the  provisional  Congress  adopted  the 
constitution  of  the  provisional  government,  and  on  the  Qth  Jef- 
ferson Davis  was  elected  President  and  Alexander  H.  Stevens 
Vice-President.  On  the  i6th  President  Davis  was  inaugurated 
with  imposing  ceremonies,  and  a  full  Cabinet  appointed,  with  L. 
Pope  Walker,  of  Alabama,  as  Secretary,  of  War.  It  will  be  seen 
that  just  one  month  before  the  inauguration  of  President  Lin- 
coln the  Confederate  government  had  been  organized  and  was 
speedily  in  full  operation  at  Montgomery,  assuming  all  the  func- 
tions of  national  authority. 

It  is  most  important  to  understand  the  precise  military  situa- 
tion at  the  time  of  the  inauguration  of  President  Lincoln.  South 
Carolina  had  taken  possession  of  Forts  Moultrie  and  Castle 
Pinkney  on  the  27th  of  December,  1860,  and  on  the  3ist  the 
arsenal,  with  70,000  stand  of  arms,  the  Post  Office  and  Custom 
House  at  Charleston.  On  the  2d  of  January,  1861,  Forts  Pulaski 
and  Jackson,  with  the  United  States  Arsenal  at  Savannah,  were 
taken.  On  the  4th  Fort  Morgan,  at  Mobile,  with  the  Mt.  Ver- 
non  Arsenal,  containing  a  large  amount  of  arms  and  ammuni- 
tion, was  taken.  On  the  7th  Fort  Marion  and  the  arsenal  at  St. 
Augustine  were  taken  with  the  Chattahoochee  Arsenal,  contain- 
ing large  supplies  of  arms  and  cartridges.  On  the  Qth  the 
steamer  Star  of  the  West,  with  supplies  for  Major  Anderson's 
command,  was  fired  upon  and  compelled  to  retreat.  On  the  loth 
the  guns  and  stores  of  the  steamship  Texas  were  taken.  On  the 
nth  Forts  Jackson  and  St.  Philip,  on  the  Mississippi,  near  New 
Orleans,  and  Fort  Pike  and  the  arsenal  at  Baton  Rouge  were 
taken.  On  the  I2th  the  Navy  Yard  and  Forts  Barrancas  and 
McRea,  in  Florida,  were  taken  and  the  revenue  cutter  Lewis 
Cass  was  seized  and  its  armament  removed.  On  the  2oth  Forts 
Chadbourne  and  Belknap  were  taken  and  occupied,  with  the  fort 
at  Ship  Island  and  the  United  States  Arsenal.  On  the  24th  the 
arsenal  at  Augusta  was  taken,  containing  a  large  amount  of  arms 
and  ammunition.  On  the  25th  General  Twiggs,  Department 
Commander,  surrendered  his  command  and  all  his  stores  to  the 
Confederacy,  the  stores  being  valued  at  $1,300,000,  and  a  large 
number  of  mounted  and  dismounted  artillery  with  35,000  mus- 
kets. On  the  8th  of  January  Forts  Johnson  and  Caswell,  in 


50  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

North  Carolina,  were  seized,  but  Governor  Ellis  ordered  them  to 
be  surrendered  to  the  United  States  on  the  condition  that  if  any 
attempt  should  be  made  to  reinforce  them  they  would  be  occu- 
pied by  State  troops.  On  the  8th  of  February  the  arsenal  at 
Little  Rock,  Arkansas,  was  taken,  containing  many  cannon  and 
a  large  amount  of  small  arms  and  ammunition,  and  on  the  1st 
of  May  the  Mint  and  Custom  House  at  New  Orleans,  containing 
some  $600,000  of  specie,  were  taken  and  appropriated  by  the 
Confederacy. 

Thus  when  Lincoln  was  inaugurated  nearly  all  of  the  forts, 
arsenals,  guns  and  munitions  of  war  in  the  seceding  States  had 
been  seized  and  held  by  the  Confederate  authorities.  The  forts 
had  only  nominal  garrisons  without  anything  approaching  ade- 
quate protection.  These  forts  and  the  vast  amount  of  ammuni- 
tion were  taken  without  firing  a  gun,  as  the  Federal  forces  were 
utterly  unable  to  defend  themselves.  President  Buchanan  was  ex- 
ceedingly anxious  to  avoid  precipitating  a  conflict,  and  therefore 
advised  that  fruitless  sacrifice  should  not  be  made  against  over- 
whelming numbers. 

Such  was  the  attitude  of  the  Southern  States  and  their  posses- 
sion of  military  forts  and  munitions  of  war  on  the  4th  of  March, 
1861.  Few  who  have  not  carefully  studied  the  controversy  re- 
lating to  the  attitude  of  the  seceding  States,  and  the  attitude  of 
the  Federal  Government  in  1860-61,  can  appreciate  the  public 
sentiment  in  the  North  that  strengthened  the  cause  of  the  South. 
The  sentiment  that  aided  them  very  greatly  was  not  confined  to 
those  who  were  in  sympathy  with  them.  President  Buchanan 
reorganized  his  Cabinet  on  patriotic  lines  when  be  found  that 
secession  had  precipitated  war.  But  he  held  that  it  was  not 
within  the  power  of  the  government  to  coerce  the  submission 
of  the  Southern  States. 

In  Buchanan's  answer  to  the  South  Carolina  Commissioners 
on  December  28,  1860,  referring  specially  to  the  forts  in  the 
Charleston  harbor,  he  expressed  the  hope  that  no  attempt  would 
be  made  to  expel  the  United  States  from  the  property  by  force, 
but  he  added:  "If  in  this  I  should  prove  to  be  mistaken,  the  offi- 
cer in  command  of  the  forts  has  received  orders  to  act  strictly 
on  the  defensive."  He  also  announced  that  his  purpose  was  well 
known  to  the  authorities  of  South  Carolina,  as  he  had'  publicly 
and  freely  expressed  it,  "not  to  reinforce  the  forts  in  the  harbor 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  51 

and  thus  produce  collision,  until  they  had  been  actually  attacked, 
or  until  I  had  certain  evidence  that  they  were  about  to  be 
attacked/' 

President  Buchanan  in  his  last  annual  message,  delivered  when 
secession  was  well  under  way,  declared  that  the  government  had 
no  power  to  suppress  the  Confederate  organization.  He  pre- 
sents the  question  whether  "the  Constitution  delegated  to  Con- 
gress the  power  to  coerce  a  State  into>  submission  which  is  at- 
tempting to  withdraw,  or  has  actually  withdrawn,  from  the  Con- 
federacy," and  answers  it  as  follows:  "After  much  serious  reflec- 
tion I  have  arrived  at  the  conclusion  that  no  such  power  has 
been  delegated  to  Congress  nor  to  any  other  department  of  the 
Federal  Government."  In  this  he  was  sustained  by  Attorney- 
General  Black. 

Opposition  to  the  policy  of  coercion,  that  is  the  policy  of  sup- 
pressing the  Confederate  Government  by  force  of  arms,  was  not 
confined  to  one  party.  The  Democrats  of  the  North,  with  very 
rare  exceptions,  were  vehement  in  their  opposition  to  civil  war 
to  force  back  the  seceding  States,  and  many  of  the  ablest  Re- 
publicans were  equally  earnest  in  opposing  coercion.  Mr.  Gree- 
ley,  quite  the  ablest  of  the  Republican  editors,  openly  declared  in 
favor  of  peaceable  secession  as  preferable  to  civil  war.  Within  a 
week  after  Lincoln's  election  he  said  in  a  leading  editorial:  "If 
the  cotton  States  shall  become  satisfied  that  they  can  do  better 
out  of  the  Union  than  in  it,  we  insist"  on  letting  them  go  in 
-peace."  And  only  a  week  before  the  inauguration  of  Lincoln,  in 
another  editorial,  he  said:  "If  the  Slave  States,  Cotton  States  or 
the  Gulf  States  only  choose  to  form  an  independent  nation,  they 
have  a  clear  oral  right  to  do  so."  Mr.  Chase,  the  ablest  man  in 
Lincoln's  Cabinet,  next  to  Seward,  earnestly  advocated  submis- 
sion to  peaceable  secession  rather  than  accept  civil  war.  The 
idea  of  civil  war  was  appalling  to  the  people  of  the  North,  and 
Mr.  Lincoln  scrupulously  followed  the  policy  of  President 
Buchanan  by  exhaustive  efforts  to  avoid  any  collision  with  the 
Southern  troops.  If  such  a  collision  had  occurred  and  either 
Buchanan  or  Lincoln  had  been  responsible  for  it,  the  sentiment 
in  the  North  would  have  been  overwhelming  against  thus  pre- 
cipitating war. 

Fernando  Wood,  one  of  the  ablest  Democratic  leaders  of  the 
North,  was  then  Mayor  of  New  York  City,  and  in  an  official 


52  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

message  to  the  City  Councils,  January  6,  1861,  he  assumed  that 
the  Confederacy  was  an  established  fact,  and  suggested  that  New 
York  City  should  ""disrupt  the  bonds  which  bound  her  to  a  venal 
and  corrupt  mastery,"  and  make  herself  a  free  and  independent 
city  with  a  nationality  of  her  own. 

In  the  South  even  the  many  Union  men,  with  a  very  few 
exceptions,  cast  their  lot  with  the  Confederacy  when  the  Presi- 
dent called  for  troops  to  coerce  submission.  The  North  was 
divided  with  an  immense  preponderance  of  conviction,  limited 
by  no  party  lines,  against  fraternal  conflict.  The  South  thus 
had  not  only  a  practically  solid  sentiment  within  its  own  sec- 
tion, outside  of  a  few  border  States,  in  support  of  the  Confed- 
eracy, but  the  North  was  so  divided  in  its  councils  that  it  would 
have  been  midsummer  madness  for  the  government  to  attempt 
to  precipitate  a  bloody  conflict. 

President  Lincoln,  in  his  inaugural,  declared  distinctly  against 
any  assault  by  force  of  arms  upon  the  South.  He  was  in  favor 
of  maintaining  the  Union,  but  he  added:  "In  doing  this  there 
need  be  no  bloodshed  or  violence,  and  there  shall  be  none 
unless  it  be  forced  upon  the  national  authority.  The  power  con- 
fided to  me  will  be  used  to  hold,  occupy  and  possess  the  property 
and  places  belonging  to  the  government,  and  to  collect  the  duties 
on  imports,  but  beyond  what  may  be  necessary  for  these  objects, 
there  will  be  no  invasion,  no  using  of  force  against  or  among  the 
people  anywhere/'  Remember  that  this  was  Lincoln's  declara- 
tion made  to  the  country  one  month  after  the  Southern  Con- 
federacy had  been  established  at  Montgomery,  and  when  it  was 
in  possession  of  nearly  all  the  forts,  arsenals  and  arms  of  the 
South,  all  of  which  had  been  taken  by  force. 

What  were  the  resources  of  the  government  to  hold  the  forts 
and  arsenals  in  the  South,  or  to  repossess  them?  The  army  then 
consisted  of  18,000  men  at  its  maximum  strength,  and  many  of 
these  had  surrendered  or  deserted,  leaving  the  army  roll  consid- 
erably below  its  full  complement.  There  were  then  no  railroads 
beyond  the  plains  east  of  the  Rocky  Mountains  and  the  Pacific 
coast,  and  the  whole  frontier  required  strong  military  force  to 
guard  the  few  public  highways  and  to  protect  the  pioneers.  The 
entire  army  was  at  that  time  insufficient  to  afford  anything  like 
reasonable  protection  to  our  Western  mountain  region. 

On  the  morning  after  the  surrender  of  Sumter  I  was  sum- 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  53 

moned,  as  chairman  of  the  military  committee  of  the  Pennsyl- 
vania Senate,  along  with  Governor  Curtin,  to  confer  with  Presi- 
dent Lincoln,  Secretary  of  War  Cameron  and  General  Scott  as 
to  the  legislation  needed  in  our  State  that  then  occupied  a  most 
exposed  position.  It  was  not  a  difficult  problem  to  solve,  and 
after  the  routine  business  was  ended  I  asked  General  Scott  how 
many  men  he  had  for  the  defence  of  Washington.  He  answered 
that  his  force  was  1,500  men  and  two  batteries.  When  I  asked 
him  how  many  men  Beauregard  commanded  at  Charleston  he 
answered  in  a  tremulous  voice:  "General  Beauregard  commands 
more  men  at  Charleston  than  I  command  on  the  continent  who 
are  available  for  war." 

General  Scott  had  become  much  alarmed  about  the  condition 
of  the  So-uthern  forts  before  the  Presidential  election  in  1860,  and 
on  the  2Qth  of  October  he  addressed  President  Buchanan,  enu- 
merating nine  of  these  forts  which  were  practically  ungarrisoned 
and  exposed  to  capture  unless  they  could  be  reinforced.  A  con- 
ference was  held  on  the  subject,  and  when  the  president  inquired 
of  the  commanding  general  what  force  he  had  to  strengthen  the 
Southern  garrisons,  Scott's  answer  was  that  all  he  had  within 
reach  was  one  company  at  Boston,  one  at  the  Narrows,  one  at 
Portsmouth,  one  at  Augusta,  Ga.,  and  one  at  Baton  Rouge. 
This  force  did  not  exceed  400  men,  not  sufficient  to  protect  one 
of  the  nine  forts.  The  weakness  of  the  army  was  also  demon- 
strated when  Scott  and  Buchanan  heartily  co-operated  to  protect 
President  Lincoln  at  his  inauguration  ceremonies.  There  were 
whispers  of  assassination  in  the  air.  The  Southern  forts  which 
Scott  wanted  to  reinforce  just  before  the  election,  had  then  been 
captured  without  firing  a  gun,  and  on  the  commendable  pretext 
of  making  a  creditable  military  display  at  the  inauguration  of 
Lincoln,  all  the  troops  which  could  be  gathered  for  the  occasion 
were  brought  to  Washington,  and  the  total  number  was  630. 
Buchanan  knew  that  it  was  impossible  to  reinforce  these  forts, 
and  Lincoln  appreciated  it  just  as  Buchanan  did. 

A  great  nation  was  thus  trembling  in  the  balance  for  its  exist- 
ence, and  the  government  authorities  well  understood  that  if 
they  precipitated  war  by  attacking  the  South  for  the  purpose 
of  repossessing  the  arsenals  and  forts  which  had  been  taken,  the 
North  would  revolt  against  the  proceeding  and  refuse  support  to 
the  government  in  the  policy  of  aggressive  coercion.  The  South 


54  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

was  thus  safe  from  assault  for  two  reasons.  First,  because  the 
government  had  no  army  with  which  to  inaugurate  such  a  war, 
and,  second,  the  North  was  positive  in  its  hostility  to  civil 
war  unless  actually  and  wantonly  forced  upon  the  government 
by  the  South.  That  had  been  done  to  an  extent  that  would  have 
made  it  the  duty  of  the  government  to  defend  its  forts  and  at- 
tack their  assailants  had  there  been  an  army  equal  to  the  duty, 
but  neither  Buchanan  nor  Lincoln  would  have  been  sus- 
tained in  calling  for  an  increase  of  the  army  even  for  the  protec- 
tion of  government  property  in  the  South.  Thus  Lincoln 
continued  the  policy  of  Buchanan  by  making  no  war  upon  the 
Confederacy,  not  only  because  he  was  powerless  to  do  so,  but 
because  the  North  would  not  have  sustained  him  in  the  effort. 

These  preliminary  statements  which  are  essential  to  an  intel- 
ligent understanding  of  the  situation  bring  us  up  to  the  suicidal 
act  of  the  Confederacy  that  doomed  it  to  destruction.  The  first 
gun  fired  upon  Sumter  sounded  the  death  knell  of  the  Confeder- 
acy. Major  Anderson  with  but  a  handful  of  men  held  Fort 
Sumter,  while  the  Confederate  flag  floated  over  Fort  Moultrie 
and  Castle  Pinkney,  the  other  two  forts  in  the  harbor.  General 
Beauregard  had  8,000  men,  and  had  planted  his  batteries  around 
Sumter  so  that  its  capture  was  inevitable  whenever  he  chose  to 
open  fire.  Anderson  saw  the  Confederates  erect  their  batteries 
for  his  destruction  within  range  of  his  guns,  but  dared  not  fire 
upon  them,  and  thus  he  silently  awaited  the  time  for  the  prepa- 
rations of  the  enemy  to  be  completed  when  he  must  either  sur- 
render or  sacrifice  himself  and  his  command  in  defence  of  his 
flag. 

It  was  impossible  to  reinforce  or  provision  Major  Anderson, 
and  yet  the  fact  that  the  government  had  decided  that  it  must  at 
least  attempt  to  provision  the  Sumter  garrison,  when  both  the 
government  and  the  Confederacy  knew  that  it  was  impossible 
for  any  vessel  to  approach  Sumter  on  such  a  mission,  was  made 
the  pretext  for  firing  upon  Anderson.  The  Confederate  forces, 
while  daily  strengthening  their  position  and  multiplying  their 
guns  for  attack,  insisted  that  they  would  fire  upon  Sumter  if  any 
attempt  was  made  to  reinforce  or  provision  its  garrison.  For 
the  sake  of  peace  that  policy  had  long  been  maintained  by 
Buchanan  and  by  Lincoln,  but  Lincoln's  first  message  sent  to 
the  special  session  of  Congress,  July  4,  1861,  stated  that  "the 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  55 

government  regarded  it  as  a  necessity  to  attempt  to  provision 
the  garrison  at  Sumter  as  it  was  then  without  adequate  rations." 
Lincoln  notified  the  Governor  of  South  Carolina  that  he  "might 
expect  an  attempt  would  be  made  to  provision  the  fort,  and  that 
if  the  attempt  should  not  be  resisted  there  would  be  no  effort  to 
throw  in  men,  arms  or  ammunition  without  further  notice,  or  in 
case  of  an  attack  upon  the  fort." 

It  will  be  seen  how  cautious  Lincoln  was  to  avoid  giving 
even  the  pretext  for  offence  to  the  Confederacy,  as  he  gave  his 
pledge  that  all  he  had  in  view  was  to  feed  a  starving  garrison, 
and  that  if  that  were  permitted  no  attempt  would  be  made  to 
furnish  additional  men  or  ammunition  to  Sumter. 

Such  was  the  condition  on  the  8th  of  April,  1861.  Beaure- 
gard  advised  Secretary  Walker  that  "an  authorized  messenger 
from  President  Lincoln  has  just  informed  Governor  Pickens  and 
myself  that  provisions  will  be  sent  to  Fort  Sumter  peaceably, 
or  otherwise  by  force."  Numerous  telegrams  passed  between 
Secretary  Walker  and  General  Beauregard,  resulting  in  a  formal 
demand  upon  Major  Anderson  on  the  nth  of  April  at  2  p.  M. 
for  the  surrender  and  evacuation  of  Fort  Sumter.  Anderson- 
answered  that  the  demand  was  one  "with  which  my  sense  of 
honor  and  my  obligation  to  my  government  prevent  my  com- 
pliance." Anderson  was  then  asked  to  state  when  he  would 
evacuate  Sumter,  and  on  April  12  at  2.30  A.  M.  he  replied  that 
he  would  evacuate  the  fort  at  noon  on  the  I5th  should  he  not 
receive  in  the  meantime  controlling  instructions  from  his  gov- 
ernment or  additional  supplies.  At  3.20  of  the  same  morning, 
or  just  fifty  minutes  after  Anderson  had  proposed  to  surrender 
in  less  than  three  days,  he  received  the  following  note,  delivered 
by  Captains  Chestnut  and  Lee,  who  were  aides  to  Beauregard; 
"By  authority  of  Brigadier  General  Beauregard,  commanding 
the  provisional  forces  of  the  Confederate  States,  we  have  the 
honor  to  notify  you  that  he  will  open  the  fire  of  his  batteries 
upon  Fort  Sumter  in  one  hour  from  this  time."  At  the  precise 
time  indicated  by  the  foregoing  notice  Beauregard's  batteries, 
which  almost  encircled  Sumter,  belched  forth  their  deadly  mis- 
siles upon  him  and  his  starving  and  defenseless  garrison,  and 
hot  shot  was  fired  into  his  fort  by  which  everything  that  was  in- 
flammable was  destroyed  by  fire.  Anderson  replied  with  all  the 
guns  that  his  small  force  could  serve,  and  braved  the  terrible  fire 


56  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

for  thirty-four  hours,  when,  as  he  reported  to  the  government 
on  the  i8th  from  the  steamer  Baltic,  off  Sandy  Hook,  "the 
quarters  were  entirely  burnt,  the  main  gates  destroyed  by  fire, 
the  gorge  walls  seriously  injured,  magazine  surrounded  by 
flames  and  its  doors  closed  from  the  effects  of  heat,  four  barrels 
and  three  cartridges  of  powder  only  being  available,  and  no  pro- 
visions remaining  but  pork.  I  accepted  terms  of  evacuation  of- 
fered by  General  Beauregard." 

The  secessionists  of  the  South  were  wildly  enthused  over  the 
capture  of  Sumter.  President  Davis  and  other  prominent  of- 
ficials were  serenaded  and  delivered  fervent  congratulatory  ad- 
dresses. War  Minister  Walker,  who  issued  the  order  for  firing 
upon  Sumter,  received  a  grand  ovation  in  Montgomery,  and  in 
his  speech  he  predicted  that  the  Confederate  flag  "will,  before 
the  ist  of  May,  float  over  the  dome  of  the  old  capitol  at  Wash- 
ington, and  if  they  choose  to  try  Southern  chivalry  and  test  the 
extent  of  Southern  resources,  it  will  eventually  float  over 
Faneuil  Hall  in  Boston." 

It  seems  incomprehensible,  viewed  in  the  light  of  the  present, 
that  the  Confederate  government,  then  safely  organized  and 
practically  undisputed  in  its  authority  throughout  the  seceding 
States,  should  have  precipitated  war  by  firing  upon  a  feeble  and 
starving  garrison,  whose  surrender  was  promised  within  two  and 
one-half  days,  solely  because  President  Lincoln  had  ordered  an 
expedition  only  to  give  provisions  to  the  troops,  with  official 
notice  to  the  Governor  of  South  Carolina  that  if  the  provis- 
ioning of  the  garrison  was  permitted  there  would  be  no  attempt 
made  to  reinforce  Sumter  with  troops.  Had  there  been  even  the 
semblance  of  provocation  by  an  attempt  of  the  government  to 
reinforce  Sumter  with  troops  there  would  have  been  the  shadow 
of  excuse  for  firing  upon  the  fort,  but  there  was  no  attempt  to 
strengthen  the  resources  of  the  fort  for  defense,  and  the  assault 
was  simply  unmingled  madness  that  made  the  Southern  Confed- 
eracy a  colossal  suicide. 

While  the  tidal  wave  of  unbridled  sectional  passion  was 
sweeping  the  South  with  wild  huzzahs  over  the  victory  won  by 
8,000  organized  troops  with  a  cordon  of  batteries  encircling  the 
fort  that  was  captured,  whose  garrison  was  but  a  starving  hand- 
ful in  number,  the  people  of  the  North  were  suddenly  aroused 
as  if  a  thunderbolt  had  come  from  an  unclouded  sky.  The  issue 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  57 

of  coercion  was  effaced  by  the  quickened  patriotism  and  fierce 
resentment  of  the  Northern  people  which  gathered  anti-coer- 
cionists  and  quibblers  of  every  grade  into  the  resistless  demand 
for  a  war  that  swept  the  land  from  the  Eastern  to  the  Western 
sea.  In  a  single  day  the  overwhelming  sentiment  of  the  North 
against  coercion  was  changed  into  the  imperious  decree  for  the 
overthrow  of  the  secession  oligarchy. 

The  day  after  the  surrender  of  Sumter — April  15,  1861, — 
President  Lincoln  issued  his  call  for  75,000  troops  to  suppress 
rebellion  and  cause  the  laws  to  be  executed.  While  the  South- 
ern and  border  states  refused  to  fill  the  requisition  made  by  the 
President,  the  North  tendered  more  troops  within  twenty-four 
hours  after  the  call  than  could  be  accepted,  and  every  State 
asked  permission  to  increase  its  quota.  The  North  had  been 
goaded  beyond  the  last  point  of  forbearance  by  the  assault  upon 
Sumter,  and  a  million  of  soldiers  were  offered  the  President  to 
suppress  the  rebellion  and  overthrow  the  Confederate  govern- 
ment. 

The  Southern  Confederacy  was  in  full  and  complete  opera- 
tion. Its  authority  was  practically  undisputed  in  all  the  South- 
ern States  which  had  formally  accepted  secession.  It  held  pos- 
session of  all  the  important  forts  and  arsenals  in  the  South  ex- 
cepting those  of  Fortress  Monroe  and  Pensacola,  and  they  were 
no  menace  to  the  authority  of  the  new  government.  President 
Lincoln  had  no  army  with  which  to  invade  the  South  for  the  re- 
covery of  the  forts  and  government  property,  and  if  he  had 
possessed  ample  men  for  the  purpose  he  would  not  have  been 
sustained  in  the  effort. 

He  was  utterly  powerless  to  interfere  with  the  Southern  Con- 
federacy. Had  he  called  for  additional  troops  it  would  have 
been  resented  by  the  South  as  a  menace,  and  by  the  North  as 
precipitating  a  war  that  they  most  earnestly  desired  to  avoid. 
He  was  thus  entirely  without  resources  to  interfere  in  any  ma- 
terial way  with  the  authority  and  operations  of  the  Confederate 
Government.  He  knew  that  for  him  to  be  in  any  degree 
responsible  for  forcing  fraternal  conflict  between  the  North  and 
South  would  be  his  death  knell  and  the  probable  overthrow  of 
the  Union.  He  knew  that  Congress  could  not  aid  him,  and  he 
had  not  summoned  Congress  into  extraordinary  session  until 
after  the  Southern  Government  had  fired  upon  Sumter  in  de- 


5&  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

fiance  of  every  possible  effort  on  the  part  of  the  government  to 
maintain  peace. 

Being  utterly  helpless  and  hopeless  in  his  desire  to  restore  the 
Union,  President  Lincoln  was  compelled  to  sit  in  silence  for 
nearly  six  weeks  after  his  inauguration  and  witness  the  authority 
of  the  government  openly  and  successfully  defied  by  a  secession 
government  in  the  entire  South.  The  condition  must  have  contin- 
ued indefinitely  had  not  the  South  precipitated  war  by  attack- 
ing a  feeble  and  starving  garrison  that  was  on  the  verge  of  sur- 
rendering. The  Confederacy  thus  unopposed  would  have 
strengthened  itself  not  only  among  its  own  people,  but  it  would 
have  as  steadily  strengthened  the  conviction  in  the  North  that 
the  dismemberment  of  the  Union  was  an  accomplished  and  ir- 
revocable fact. 

No  dominant  sentiment  in  the  North  demanded  the  overthrow 
of  the  Confederacy  by  force  of  arms  until  after  the  firing  upon 
Stimter.  The  great  governments  of  the  world,  most  of  whom 
sympathized  strongly  with  the  South,  would  have  speedily  noted 
the  utter  inability  of  the  government  to  suppress  the  rebellion, 
and  instead  of  recognizing  the  Southern  Confederacy  as  a  bellig- 
erent power,  as  they  promptly  did,  in  a  very  few  months  it  would 
have  been  acknowledged  by  foreign  nations  as  an  established 
government  entitled  to  recognition  as  a  national  authority. 
There  could  have  been  no  other  result  had  the  South  been  con- 
tent to  enjoy  the  triumphs  it  had  achieved  and  administered  its 
government  without  aggressive  assault  upon  the  flag  of  the  Un- 
ion, and  there  would  have  been  no  excuse  for  foreign  govern- 
ments withholding  such  recognition,  as  even  the  few  forts  in 
the  South  held  by  the  Union  troops  were  not  permitted  to  fire 
a  hostile  gun  against  the  Confederate  Government  unless  di- 
rectly assailed  by  the  military  power  of  the  Confederacy. 

The  Confederacy  was  in  fact  established;  there  was  no  threat 
on  the  part  of  the  government  to  overthrow  it  with  military 
force.  On  the  contrary,  the  assurance  came  from  the  govern- 
ment under  all  circumstances  that  peace  would  be  maintained, 
and  none  thought  of  summoning  troops  from  the  North  to  re- 
sist the  revolutionary  movement  that  was  in  full  operation  and 
had  possession  of  nearly  all  the  forts,  arsenals  and  government 
property  in  the  South.  It  had  only  to  be  content  to  win  foreign 
recognition  in  a  very  few  months,  and  that  would  have  made  the 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.          59 

destruction  of  the  Confederacy  impossible  by  appeal  to  the 
sword.  If  they  had  not  fired  upon  Sumter,  the  Southern  Con- 
federacy would  have  been  successfully  established  and  without 
civil  war. 

Some  ten  years  after  the  war  I  spent  a  day  with  Jefferson 
Davis  at  his  beautiful  home  on  the  gulf,  near  Mississippi  City. 
He  received  me  with  generous  hospitality  and  conversed  freely 
on  all  questions  relating  to  the  war.  When  I  asked  him  why 
he  had  opened  fire  upon  Fort  Sumter  when  he  had  the  assur- 
ance of  the  surrender  of  the  garrison  within  three  days  if  not 
reinforced  or  provisioned,  when  he  knew  that  it  was  not  within 
the  power  of  the  government  to  afford  such  relief  to  Major  An- 
derson, he  justified  the  firing  upon  Sumter  on  the  ground  that 
the  government  had  violated  its  faith  with  the  Confederate  gov- 
ernment; that  the  assurance  had  been  given  that  the  conditions 
in  the  Charleston  harbor  should  remain  in  statu  quo,  and  that 
finally  notice  was  given  by  the  government  that  an  expedition 
was  to  be  sent  for  the  purpose  of  provisioning  and  probably  re- 
inforcing the  garrison. 

I  asked  him  whether  the  firing  upon  Sumter  was  not  in  some 
measure  inspired  by  the  purpose  of  enthusing  and  crystallizing 
the  Southern  people  in  support  of  the  Confederacy,  and  he  an- 
swered with  emphasis  that  no  such  thing  was  thought  of,  and 
that  it  was  not  in  any  degree  necessary.  He  seemed  startled 
when  I  told  him  that  the  firing  upon  Sumter  sounded  the  doom 
of  the  Confederacy,  and  that  the  North  would  never  have  been 
united  to  wage  successful  war  against  the  South  but  for  that 
assault  that  was  .not  dictated  by  any  necessity  of  diplomacy  or 
war.  He  admitted  that  the  North  may  have  been  inflamed  to 
measurable  unity  against  the  South  by  the  firing  upon  Sumter, 
and  that  the  North  might  not  have  been  in  position  to  wage 
a  great  war  upon  the  South  had  that  provocation  not  been 
given,  but  he  stood  resolutely  on  the  question  of  punctilio,  and 
excused  the  assault  on  the  ground  of  violated  faith. 

Such  is  the  story  in  brief  of  the  first  assault  upon  the  Union 
flag  and  its  defenders  by  the  troops  of  the  Confederacy,  and 
that  assault  destined  the  Confederacy  to  an  utterly  hopeless  con- 
flict that  overthrew  it  with  its  land  crimsoned  by  the  blood  of 
its  heroic  people  and  the  pall  of  desolation  spread  over  its  entire 
country. 


THE  ERAS  OF  GOOD  FEELING  AND 
OF  CONVULSION. 

Two  great  epochs  in  the  history  of  the  republic  stand  out  in 
the  sharpest  contrast  on  the  annals  of  our  free  government. 
They  are  the  "Era  of  Good  Feeling"  that  came  to  bless  the 
administration  of  President  Monroe,  by  which  he  was  re-elected 
in  1820  by  a  practically  unanimous  vote,  lacking  only  one  vote 
in  the  Electoral  College  to  equal  the  unity  that  was  exhibited 
in  electing  and  re-electing  Washington.  This  era  is  referred  to 
by  all  political  historians  as  a  serene  political  calm  unknown  in 
our  political  history  either  before  or  since.  Monroe  closed  his 
second  administration  without  aggressive  or  organized  opposi- 
tion, and  as  most  of  his  Cabinet  officers  were  candidates  for  the 
succession,  he  was  not  personally  involved  in  the  conflict  and 
thereby  escaped  the  embittered  political  criticisms  which  the  na- 
tional contest  of  1824  developed. 

The  other  epoch  was  an  era  of  convulsive  hate,  beginning 
with  the  assassination  of  Lincoln  and  practically  ending  with  the 
impeachment  of  President  Johnson,  and  it  stands  entirely  with- 
out parallel  in  the  history  of  the  Republic.  It  was  an  era  of  un- 
bridled passion,  of  fiercest  sectional,  partisan  and  individual  con- 
flicts, and  presents  the  only  severely  tempestuous  record  of  all 
the  national  administrations  we  have  had.  The  assassination 
of  Lincoln  that  flung  the  North  into  the  maelstrom  of  frenzy, 
was  quickly  followed  by  the  military-court  murder  of  Mrs.  Sur- 
ratt,  and  a  flood  tide  of  hate  that  convulsed  the  country  from 
centre  to  circumference,  in  which  President  Johnson  himself 
was  the  central  and  inspiring  figure.  This  painful  era  practically 
ended  in  the  impeachment  of  Johnson  and  the  election  of  Grant, 
who  gave  to  both  sections  of  the  country,  in  accepting  the  nom- 
ination for  the  Presidency,  the  words  for  which  all  most  hun- 
gered: "Let  us  have  peace." 

It  is  difficult  for  any  one,  however  intelligent  or  fair-minded, 
(60) 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  6 1 

who  earnestly  participated  in  the  political  struggles  from  1864 
to  1869,  to  hold  the  pen  in  the  strict  lines  of  impartial  history. 
Remembering  my  strong  prejudices  against  Johnson,  for  whom 
I  had  voted  to  make  him  the  candidate  for  Vice-President  in 
the  Baltimore  convention  of  1864,  and  my  tireless  antagonism 
against  his  policy  and  administration,  I  write  this  chapter  with 
some  hesitation,  but  looking  over  the  dark  annals  of  our  country 
written  by  the  Johnson  administration  with  every  purpose  to  be 
generously  just  to  the  Presidency,  I  feel  entirely  warranted  in 
saying  that  President  Johnson  was  primarily  and  almost  wholly 
responsible  for  the  terrible  era  of  convulsive  hate  that  came 
with  his  administration  and  that  lingered  in  its  bitter  fruits  for 
years  after  his  retirement. 

President  Johnson  on  many  occasions  exhibited  the  qualities 
of  the  demagogue  when  he  pleaded  his  plebeian  birth  as  a  virtue 
in  all  his  political  conflicts,  and  the  fact  that  it  was  cultivated 
as  one  of  his  carefully  studied  political  methods  was  pointedly 
exhibited  when  he  was  inaugurated  as  Vice  President.  It  is  well 
known  that  he  was  not  responsible  for  his  utterances  on  that 
occasion  because  he  was  in  delirium  from  the  use  of  stimulants 
taken  to  strengthen  him  for  the  ordeal  after  protracted  illness, 
but  when  his  better  judgment  was  thus  unbalanced  and  his  im- 
pulses spoke  with  unrestrained  freedom,  he  mocked  the  dignity 
and  solemnity  of  the  occasion  by  hurling  his  plebeian  birth  into 
the  faces  of  the  foreign  diplomatic  corps  in  reckless  insult.  He 
entered  the  Presidency  through  the  scalding  tears  of  the  nation 
over  the  bier  of  Lincoln,  and  he  at  once  exhibited  the  most  vin- 
dictive resentment  against  the  South.  He  was  nothing  if  not 
tempestuous,  and  his  tongue  wagged  on  every  possible  occasion 
to  express  his  purpose  to  punish  treason  to  the  uttermost.  In 
this  attitude  he  went  beyond  even  the  extreme  radicals  of  the 
Republican  party,  while  the  conservative  Republicans  were  ap- 
palled at  the  flood  tide  of  hate  that  the  President  poured  out 
upon  the  country  entirely  effacing  the  hope  of  sectional  tran- 
quillity. 

Had  the  President  maintained  the  policy  with  which  he  started 
out  it  would  doubtless  have  been  much  better  for  the  South  and 
for  the  country.  His  extreme  views  could  not  have  prevailed, 
and  his  policy  would  have  been  greatly  tempered  by  the  con- 
servative Republican  elements  had  he  maintained  his  relations 


62  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

with  the  party  that  elected  him ;  but,  during  the  summer,  when 
Congress  was  not  in  session,  the  policy  of  President  Johnson 
was  entirely  changed.  He  conceived  the  theory  of  reconstruct- 
ing the  Southern  States  by  Executive  authority  on  a  plan  en- 
tirely his  own  that  he  ever  after  spoke  of  in  public  and  private 
as  "my  policy."  He  gradually  became  not  only  estranged  from 
the  radical  Republican  element  with  whom  he  had  acted  at  first, 
but  also  estranged  from  even  the  most  conservative  Republican 
views,  and  when  Congress  met  in  December  he  was  practically 
at  war  with  the  entire  Republican  party.  A  very  few  Republi- 
can Senators  and  Representatives  followed  him,  and  thereby 
severed  their  connection  with  the  Republicans,  but  the  party 
organization  in  both  branches  of  Congress  became  crystallized 
in  positive  and  aggressive  hostility  to  the  reconstruction  policy 
of  the  administration. 

Had  President  Lincoln  lived  to  accomplish  reconstruction  it 
is  not  doubted  by  any  who  intelligently  study  the  history  of 
that  period  that  he  would  have  been  at  war  with  the  extreme 
radical  Republicans,  and  reconstruction  would  have  been  ac- 
complished by  the  administration,  aided  by  the  conservative 
Democrats  against  the  radicals  of  both  parties.  Lincoln's  great 
desire  was  to  bring  about  the  restoration  of  the  Southern  States 
in  not  only  nominal  but  actual  and  sympathetic  fellowship.  He 
had  little  opportunity  to  express  his  views  as  to  the  proper 
method  of  reconstruction,  but  fortunately  we  are  not  left  with- 
out unerring  finger-boards  furnished  by  himself  indicating  that 
his  policy  would  have  been  on  the  most  generous  'lines  possible 
with  public  safety.  At  the  City  Point  conference  between  Lin- 
coln, Grant,  Sherman  and  Porter  he  instructed  General  Sher- 
man that  on  his  return  to  his  command  in  North  Carolina  he 
should  assure  Governor  Vance  that  he  as  Governor,  and  his 
Legislature,  could  resume  their  official  functions,  and  would  be 
protected  in  doing  so,  if  they  did  not  violate  the  policy  of  the 
Federal  government  until  the  meeting  of  Congress.  It  was  this 
assurance  from  President  Lincoln  himself  that  shaped  the  origi- 
nal terms  on  which  General  Johnston  surrendered  all  of  the 
Confederate  forces  then  in  the  field  to  Sherman.  But  Lincoln 
had  been  assassinated,  new  conditions  with  intensely  flamed  pas- 
sions had  been  precipitated,  and  the  Sherman  terms  of  surren- 
der were  rejected  in  brutal  language  by  Secretary  Stanton. 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  63 

Had  Lincoln  lived  to  consummate  reconstruction,  universal 
negro  suffrage  would  never  have  written  its  blotted  records  in 
the  reconstructed  States. 

President  Johnson's  first  proclaimed  reconstruction  policy 
meant  the  severest  punishment  of  all  the  leading  Confederates, 
the  confiscation  of  their  property,  and  that  the  Southern  people 
be  reduced  to. the  condition  of  conquered  subjects.  When  he 
changed  his  reconstruction  policy  he  was  largely  influenced  by 
the  court  paid  to  him  by  the  gentler  class  of  the  South  that  had 
never  before  accorded  to  Johnson  the  social  recognition  he 
craved.  As  they  gradually  came  into  his  confidence  he  was 
flattered  and  strangely  misled  into  a  policy  of  reconstruction, 
that  ordinary  intelligence  should  have  made  him  understand  was 
an  utter  impossibility.  Without  waiting  for  Congress  to  act, 
he  assumed  the  responsibility  of  appointing  provisional  Gover- 
nors in  the  Southern  States,  authorizing  the  election  of  Legis- 
latures, Senators  and  Congressmen,  and  confidently  expected 
that  when  Congress  met  in  December  these  reconstructed  State 
governments  would  be  recognized  and  their  Senators  and  Con- 
gressmen admitted. 

Had  these  provisional  governments  been  ordinarily  prudent 
they  might  have  strengthened  Johnson  to  make  a  desperate  bat- 
tle for  his  cause,  but  unfortunately,  under  promises  from  the 
President,  the  Southern  people  naturally  struggled  to  relieve 
themselves  of  the  logical  consequences  of  war,  and  to  remand 
the  negroes  back  into  a  slavery  worse  than  that  from  which  they 
had  been  disenthralled.  The  black  man,  while  his  freedom  was 
admitted  in  most  of  these  States,  was  denied  the  most  vital 
rights  of  citizenship.  He  was  denied  the  right  to  sue,  to  make 
contracts,  to  testify  in  court,  and  was  thus  made  entirely  de- 
pendent upon  the  whites,  who  could  make  him  a  vagrant  by  re- 
fusing him  employment,  and  then  sell  him  into  slavery  as  a 
vagrant,  where  he  was  as  much  a  slave  as  he  had  ever  been  un- 
der the  institution  of  slavery,  without  the  master's  interest  in  his 
person  as  property.  The  result  was  that  when  Congress  met  in 
December  neither  House  entertained  for  a  moment  the  question 
of  recognizing  these  reconstructed  States,  or  admitting  their 
Representatives,  and  thus  the  battle  began  between  Congress 
and  the  President. 

Had  President  Johnson  yielded  as  Grant  did  whenever  he 


64  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

saw  it  impracticable  to  proceed,  the  South  would  have  escaped 
the  oppressive  reconstruction  policy  that  was  finally  established 
in  a  tempest  of  sectional  hate.  But  Johnson  would  yield  noth- 
ing. He  made  himself  ostentatiously  offensive  to  Congress  and 
to  the  loyal  sentiment  of  the  nation,  and  the  result  was  a  chasm 
between  the  President  and  Congress  that  was  utterly  impass- 
able, and  Congress,  in  the  passion  of  the  time,  was  self-excused 
for  establishing  universal  negro  suffrage  because  it  was  held 
to  be  the  only  safety  for  the  freedom  of  the  slaves  who  had  been 
emancipated.  Every  reconstruction  measure  was  passed  by  a 
two-thirds  vote  in  both  branches  over  the  President's  veto,  and 
the  rule  of  the  ignorant  freedmen  under  the  lead  of  generally 
disreputable  carpet-baggers  and  scallywags,  wrote  the  most  blis- 
tering records  of  infamy  in  the  Southern  States  which  are  to  be 
found  in  American  history.  Had  Johnson  been  disposed  to  har- 
monize with  Congress  he  could  have  conserved  Congressional 
action  and  accomplished  a  reconstruction  policy,  such  as  Mr. 
Lincoln  would  have  enforced  had  his  life  been  spared. 

The  bitter  feud  between  the  President  and  Congress  grew  in 
proportions  from  day  to  day  until  his  impeachment.  Congress 
took  from  him  every  possible  power  that  was  not  expressly  con- 
ferred upon  the  Executive  by  the  Constitution.  His  right  of  re- 
moval from  office  was  withheld  from  him,  and  he  was  stripped 
of  every  authority  that  could  be  taken  with  the  semblance  of 
constitutional  approval. 

The  impeachment  of  President  Johnson  was  contemplated  by 
many  of  the  more  radical  Republicans  from  the  beginning  of 
the  acute  stage  of  the  dispute  between  him  and  Congress.  On 
the  1 7th  of  December,  1866,  Mr.  Ashley,  of  Ohio,  introduced  a 
resolution  authorizing  the  appointment  of  a  select  committee  to 
inquire  "whether  any  acts  have  been  done  by  any  officer  of  the 
Government  of  the  United  States,  which,  in  contemplation  of 
the  Constitution,  are  high  crimes  and  misdemeanors."  This 
resolution  failed  for  want  of  the  necessary  two-thirds  vote,  al- 
though a  decided  majority  supported  it.  On  the  7th  of  Jan- 
uary, 1867,  Representatives  Loan  and  Kelso,  of  Missouri,  of- 
fered resolutions  looking  to  the  impeachment  of  the  Executive, 
which  resolutions  were  referred  to  the  judiciary  committee.  On 
the  28th  of  February  a  majority  of  the  judiciary  committee  re- 
ported that  they  had  taken  testimony  on  the  subject,  and  re- 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  65 

gretted  their  inability  to  dispose  of  it  definitely,  and  thus  left 
the  unfinished  labors  to  the  succeeding  Congress. 

On  the  8th  of  March,  1867,  in  the  new  Congress,  Mr.  Ashley 
proposed  that  the  judiciary  committee  continue  the  investiga- 
tion, and  his  proposition  was  agreed  to,  and  on  the  25th  of  No- 
vember of  the  same  year  -three  reports  were  presented  to  Con- 
gress, one  majority  report  and  two  minority  reports.  The  ma- 
jority recommended  the  impeachment  of  the  President,  and  the 
two  minority  reports  declared  against  any  further  proceedings. 
On  the  6th  of  December  the  reports  were  discussed  in  the 
House,  and  on  the  7th  the  vote  was  taken,  being  109  against 
impeachment  and  56  for  it.  On  the  4th  of  February,  1868,  the 
correspondence  between  President  Johnson  and  General  Grant 
in  relation  to  the  surrender  of  the  War  Office  was  referred  to 
the  reconstruction  committee  that  examined  witnesses,  and  on 
the  1 3th  of  February  decided  against  pressing  articles  of  im- 
peachment. On  the  21  st  of  February  the  President  removed 
Secretary  Stanton  from  the  War  Office  in  disregard  of  the  ten- 
ure of  office  law,  and  on  the  same  day  the  House  voted  on  the 
impeachment  of  President  Johnson  for  high  crimes  and  misde- 
meanors, and  it  was  adopted  by  a  vote  of  126  to  47. 

The  Republicans  in  both  the  Senate  and  House  had  been  so 
compactly  organized  against  the  President  that  the  more  radi- 
cal leaders  felt  entirely  assured  of  their  power  to  remove  Presi- 
dent Johnson  by  impeachment.  As  I  have  said,  it  had  been 
contemplated  for  two  years  before  it  was  accomplished,  and  the 
radical  element  had  fully  prepared  for  the  emergency  they  ex- 
pected as  inevitable.  But  for  this  obviously  settled  purpose  of 
the  radicals  to  find  some  pretext  for  impeaching  the  President 
in  order  to  get  possession  of  the  power  of  the  government,  it  is 
quite  possible,  indeed  even  probable,  that  the  President  would 
have  been  dismissed  from  office  after  his  removal  of  Stanton, 
as  it  was  in  flagrant  violation  of  the  tenure-of-office  bill  that 
had  been  supported  by  every  Republican  Senator  who  voted 
against  the  conviction  of  the  President. 

The  entering  wedge  for  the  division  of  the  Republican  forces 
that  led  to  the  acquittal  of  Johnson  was  the  election  of  Senator 
Wade  as  President  pro  tern  of  the  Senate.  He  had  no  fitness 
for  the  duties  of  a  presiding  officer.  He  had  neither  tact  nor 
gentleness  of  disposition  to  make  it  pleasant  to  have  him  pre- 


66  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

side  over  the  first  legislative  tribunal  of  the  nation.  He  was 
extremely  radical,  blunt  and  brusque  in  expression,  never  con- 
ciliatory, and  was  eminently  successful  in  intensifying  the  bit- 
terness of  his  enemies.  The  Senator  regarded  as  best  fitted  and 
also  best  entitled  to  the  distinction  of  President  pro  tern  of  the 
Senate,  and  also  best  fitted  for  the  responsible  duties  of  the 
President  in  case  President  Johnson  should  be  impeached,  was 
Senator  Fessenden,  of  Maine.  He  was  one  of  the  ablest  of  the 
body;  blameless  in  public  and  private  life,  thoroughly  conscien- 
tious in  the  discharge  of  all  duties,  and  ever  courteous  in  his 
intercourse  with  others.  He  was  fairly  entitled  to  be  President 
pro  tern  of  the  Senate  alike  in  character,  temperament  and  ex- 
perience, but  the  election  of  Wade  was  forced  by  the  radical 
element  of  the  body  solely  for  the  purpose  of  making  Wade  the 
successor  of  Johnson  in  the  Presidency.  The  success  of  Wade 
and  the  defeat  of  Fessenden  greatly  chilled  the  ardor  of  men 
like  Trumbull,  Fessenden,  Grimes  and  other  Republican  lead- 
ers, and  they  felt  when  the  impeachment  issue  came  that,  how- 
ever Johnson  may  have  violated  a  statute  of  questionable  con- 
stitutionality, it  would  be  better  to  suffer  the  evils  of  Johnson's 
administration  than  to  inaugurate  an  aggressive  and  vindictive 
policy  under  President  Wade. 

The  dissatisfaction  with  Wade's  election  for  the  sole  purpose 
of  making  him  President  and  inaugurating  an  extreme  radical 
and  factional  policy,  profoundly  impressed  the  leading  Senators, 
who  finally  voted  against  impeachment.  They  gave  no  sign  of 
their  purpose,  and  the  impeachment  proceeding  dragged  its 
slow  length  along  without  a  suspicion  on  the  part  of  the  Re- 
publican leaders  that  conviction  could  possibly  be  defeated.  The 
Senate  was  composed  of  42  Republicans  and  12  Democrats,  and 
as  none  of  the  prominent  Republican  Senators  had  publicly 
shown  a  disposition  to  rebel  against  the  radical  Republican  rule, 
the  conviction  of  Johnson  was  regarded  by  Congress  and  by 
the  country  as  inevitable  whenever  the  House  passed  the  im- 
peachment resolution. 

It  was  not  until  the  high  court  of  impeachment  had  been  in 
session  some  time  that  it  was  discovered  that  Chief  Justice 
Chase  was  determined  to  rule  entirely  independently  of  the 
wishes  and  necessities  of  the  friends  of  conviction,  and  while 
not  a  word  was  uttered  by  any  of  the  Senators  who  voted 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  67 

against  conviction  to  indicate  their  purpose,  it  soon  became 
whispered  that  there  was  some  danger  of  a  revolt  in  the  highest 
circles  of  Republican  authority.  I  remember  calling  upon  Pres- 
ident pro  tern  Wade  in  his  luxuriant  Vice-President's  rooms 
when  the  impeachment  trial  had  been  in  progress  for  probably 
two  weeks,  and  when  the  first  shadow  of  doubt  was  visible  as 
to  the  result.  Wade  was  violent  in  his  denunciation  of  the  Chief 
Justice  for  his  ruling,  and  of  the  attitude  assumed  by  several  of 
the  leading  Senators.  While  I  was  in  conversation  with  Wade, 
Thaddeuis  Stevens  entered  the  room.  He  was  very  feeble  and 
unable  to  take  active  part  as  one  of  the  counsel  charged  by  the 
House  to  conduct  the  impeachment  trial.  He  was  in  hearty 
sympathy  with  Wade  and  a  radical  of  the  radicals.  After  dis- 
cussing the  situation,  in  which  for  the  first  time  I  heard  him  ex- 
press some  doubts  as  to  the  results,  he  summed  up  the  situa- 
tion by  saying:  "This  is  the  meanest  trial,  before  the  meanest 
tribunal,  and  on  the  meanest  subject  of  history."  As  the  trial 
progressed  suspicion  as  to  the  attitude  of  some  of  the  leading 
Senators  became  more  and  more  pronounced,  but  it  was  not 
until  the  final  vote  was  taken  that  the  radical  element  of  the 
Senate  believed  the  acquittal  of  Johnson  to  be  probable. 

Senator  Wade  was  doomed  to  a  double  defeat,  both  most  hu- 
miliating, by  the  result  of  the  impeachment  trial.  Had  Johnson 
been  convicted,  as  was  generally  expected,  Wade  would  have 
been  President  for  eight  months,  and  he  would  have  promptly 
changed  the  whole  policy  and  public  officials  of  the  government. 
He  had  been  defeated  for  election  to  the  Senate  the  preceding 
January,  and  he  became  a  candidate  for  Vice-President,  expect- 
ing on  the  4th  of  March  following  the  impeachment  trial  to  be 
transferred  from  the  White  House  to  the  Vice-Presidency.  The 
fact  that  he  was  expected  to  be  President  for  eight  months,  and 
that  he  was  known  to  be  one  who  would  exhaust  the  power  of 
the  government  to  maintain  the  party  organization,  had  made 
him  a  very  formidable  candidate  for  the  Vice  Presidency.  He 
was  strong  in  himself,  as  he  had  many  followers,  and  the  fact 
that  he  was  expected  to  be  President  and  wield  the  power  of  the 
government  for  eight  months  was  strongly  persuasive  with 
very  many  of  the  delegates  to  the  national  convention,  and  he 
would  certainly  have  been  nominated  for  Vice-President  in- 
stead of  Mr.  Colfax  if  Johnson  had  been  convicted.  The  dele- 


68  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

gates  to  national  conventions  in  those  days,  as  in  these  later 
days,  had  a  wholesome  regard  for  power  and  its  spoils,  but  on 
Saturday  before  the  convention  met  in  Chicago  the  lightning 
flashed  the  news  that  Johnson  had  been  acquitted,  and  that 
doomed  Wade  to  defeat  before  the  national  convention  as  a  can- 
didate for  Vice-President.  Thus  within  a  week  he  suffered  the 
humiliating  discomfiture  of  losing  the  Presidency  that  he  be- 
lieved entirely  within  his  grasp  and  also  losing  the  Vice-Presi- 
dential nomination  that  would  have  assured  an  election. 

It  required  a  two-thirds  vote  to  convict  the  President  in  an 
impeachment  trial,  and  on  May  16,  1868,  a  separate  vote  was 
taken  in  the  Senate  on  three  articles  impeaching  the  President, 
resulting  in  each  case  in  35  Senators  voting  for  conviction  and 
19  for  acquittal.  Only  Republican  Senators  voted  for  conviction, 
but  Fessenden,  of  Maine;  Fowler,  of  Tennessee;  Grimes,  of 
Iowa;  Henderson,  of  Missouri;  Ross,  of  Kansas;  Trumbull,  of 
Illinois,  and  Van  Winkle,  of  West  Virginia,  seven  in  all,  voted 
with  the  Democrats  for  acquittal'.  Had  any  one  of  these  seven 
voted  for  conviction  Johnson  would  have  been  convicted  and 
dismissed  from  office,  and  Wade  would  have  succeeded  him  to 
the  Presidency.  It  is  worthy  of  note  that  the  Republicans  who 
voted  for  the  acquittal  of  Johnson  represented  more  than  the 
average  intellectual  force  of  the  body.  Trumbull  was  accepted 
by  all  as  the  ablest  lawyer  of  the  Senate.  Fessenden,  Grimes 
and  Henderson  were  among  the  ablest  of  the  Republican  lead- 
ers, while  Fowler,  Van  Winkle  and  Ross  commanded  universal 
respect  for  their  personal  integrity. 

I  was  of  those  who  believed  at  the  time  that  Johnson  should 
be  convicted  and  dismissed  from  office,  but  there  are  very  few 
among  those  who  look  upon  public  incidents  of  the  past  with 
the  intelligent  impartiality  that  is  due  to  all  historical  events, 
who  do  not  agree  with  me  now  that  the  conviction  of  Johnson 
would  have  been  a  national  misfortune.  He  had  bereft  the  great 
office  of  much  of  its  dignity  and  honor.  He  had  been  guilty  of 
violent  usurpation  of  authority,  and  he  seemed  to  be  ruled  by 
passion  rather  than  patriotism  in  fighting  the  great  battle  by 
which  he  hoped  to  elect  himself  to  the  Presidency,  but  looking 
over  that  great  conflict  with  its  passions  perished,  I  believe  that 
it  was  most  fortunate  for  the  country  that  it  was  not  precipi- 
tated into  the  violent  radical  revolution  that  would  have  inevi- 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  69 

tably  followed  the  succession  of  Wade  to  the  Presidency.  I  was 
at  the  Chicago  convention  as  chairman  of  the  Pennsylvania  dele- 
gation, and  saw  the  general  disappointment,  with  which  I  sym- 
pathized, because  of  the  failure  to  convict  President  Johnson. 
General  Palmer,  of  Illinois,  who  was  then  the  Republican  nomi- 
nee for  Governor  of  the  State,  was  called  out  in  the  preliminary 
proceedings  for  a  short  address,  and  in  that  he  pointedly  criti- 
cised the  failure  of  the  impeachment  trial,  but  the  friends  of  all 
the  other  candidates  for  Vice-Fresident  were  delighted  that 
Wade  had  been  removed  from  the  certainty  of  a  nomination  by 
his  defeat  in  attempting  to  reach  the  Presidency,  and  while  there 
was  a  very  general  regret  that  Johnson  had  not  been  removed, 
the  lack  of  intensity  of  feeling  on  the  subject  was  exhibited  by 
the  failure  of  the  convention  to  nominate  Wade  to  the  second 
place  on  the  ticket.  Had  the  delegates  sincerely  felt  that  the 
failure  of  impeachment  was  a  wrong  to  the  country  and  to  Wade 
he  would  certainly  have  been  vindicated  by  his  nomination  for 
the  Vice-Presidency,  but  the  judgment  of  the  high  court  of  im- 
peachment was  accepted  with  more  or  less  sincere  and  earnest 
expressions  of  regret,  and  Wade,  who  had  fallen  on  the  battle- 
ments of  the  conflict,  was  consigned  to  retirement. 

Soon  after  a  committee  of  the  convention  that  had  nominated 
Grant  by  a  unanimous  vote,  formally  notified  him  of  his  selec- 
tion as  the  Republican  candidate  for  the  Presidency,  and  then 
in  the  convulsive  conflicts  of  sectional  and  partisan  passion 
Grant  uttered  the  memorable  sentence  that  tranquillized  untold 
thousands  North  and  South — "Let  us  have  peace."  There  were 
conflicts  and  continued  desolation  in  the  reconstructed  States 
for  a  few  years  thereafter,  but  with  the  defeat  of  impeachment, 
the  nomination  of  Grant  and  his  patriotic  utterance  in  favor  of 
peace,  the  era  of  convulsive  hate  was  halted,  and  the  full  frui- 
tion came  later  when  the  carpet-bag  rule  that  was  the  creation 
of  this  era,  perished  from  the  earth. 


THE    PACIFIC    RAILWAY  AND    THE 
SALE   OF  CHIHUAHUA. 

There  are  many  unwritten  chapters  of  inner  story  especially 
relating  to  our  great  civil  war  which  will  never  be  crystallized 
into  history.  Some  of  them  are  hopelessly  lost  by  the  death  of 
those  who  alone  could  write  them  correctly.  These  incidents, 
many  of  which  would  be  of  thrilling  interest,  could  not  be 
written  during  the  lives  of  the  chief  actors,  and  cannot  justly  be 
written  now;  and  those  which  exist  only  in  tradition  cannot  be 
accepted  as  part  of  the  true  history  of  the  greatest  conflict  that 
ever  was  witnessed  for  the  maintenance  of  free  institutions. 

There  are  few  of  even  our  most  intelligent  and  best  read 
citizens  who  know  the  true  history  of  the  transcontinental  rail- 
way. The  first  declaration  made  by  any  party  in  favor  of  the 
construction  of  the  Pacific  railway  was  delivered  by  the  Repub- 
lican National  Convention  of  1856,  which  met  in  Philadelphia  on 
the  1 7th  of  June.  It  was  a  Fremont  convention,  and  it  was 
confidently  expected  to  carry  California  for  the  Republican  ticket 
by  a  positive  declaration  in  favor  of  the  construction  of  the 
Pacific  railway  by  the  National  Government.  The  platform 
declared  that  "a  railroad  to  the  Pacific  Ocean,  by  the  most 
central  and  practicable  route,  is  imperatively  demanded  by  the 
interests  of  the  whole  Government,  and  that  the  Federal  Gov- 
ernment ought  to  render  immediate  and  efficient  aid  in  its 
construction."  In  addition  to  this  the  same  resolution  de- 
manded ''the  immediate  construction  of  an  emigrant  route  on 
the  line  of  the  railway." 

The  Democratic  convention  of  the  same  year,  which  met  at 
Cincinnati  and  nominated  Buchanan  for  President,  well  under- 
stood that  the  Republicans  expected  to  strengthen  themselves, 
especially  in  the  Western  States,  by  a  distinct  declaration  in 
favor  of  the  Government  constructing  a  Pacific  railway,  and 
while  that  party  fundamentally  denied  the  power  of  the  Govern- 
ment to  charter  or  aid  banks,  railroads  or  any  other  corpora- 
te) 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  71 

tions,  the  Democrats  hedged  on  the  issue  by  declaring*  in  their 
platform  that  they  recognized  "the  great  importance  in  the 
political  and  commercial  point  of  view  of  safe  and  speedy  com- 
munication by  military  and  postal  routes  through  our  own 
territory  between  the  Atlantic  and  Pacific  coasts  of  this  Union, 
and  that  it  is  the  duty  of  the  Federal  Government  to  exercise 
promptly  all  its  constitutional  power  for  the  attainment  of  that 
object."  This  deliverance  was  practically  a  denial  of  the  aid  of 
the  Government  to  the  construction  of  the  transcontinental  rail- 
way, as  the  Democracy  distinctly  denied  the  constitutional  power 
of  the  Government  to  engage  in  such  enterprises. 

The  construction  of  the  Pacific  railway  in  1856  was  regarded 
by  all  as  a  dream  that  might  in  the  fullness  of  time,  and  many 
years  hence,  reach  fruition.  The  entire  revenues  of  the  Govern- 
ment did  not  exceed  $50,000,000  a  year,  and  none  of  our  leading 
statesmen  would  have  ventured  at  that  time  to  put  upon  the 
Government  the  severe  strain  of  financiering  the  Pacific  rail- 
way. It  was  simply  political  expediency  for  the  time  anticipat- 
ing what  progressive  men  hoped  might  be  accomplished  in  the 
distant  future.  It  is  entirely  safe  to  say  that  the  deliverances 
of  both  the  Democratic  and  the  Republican  party  in  1856  on  the 
issue  of  the  Pacific  railway  were  mere  political  expedients.  The 
Republicans,  being  more  liberal  in  their  construction  of  the 
fundamental  law,  could  afford  to  promise  a  Pacific  railway  in 
unqualified  terms,  and  the  Democrats,  unwilling  to  be  regarded 
as  wanting  in  interest  in  the  people  of  the  Pacific  slope,  gave  a 
meaningless  declaration  qualified  by  well  known  Democratic  se- 
vere constitutional  construction. 

In  1860  the  question  of  the  Pacific  railway  assumed  an  en- 
tirely different  phase.  The  question  of  the  disruption  of  the 
Union  was  squarely  face  to  face  with  the  Republicans  who  met 
in  Chicago  to  nominate  Abraham  Lincoln  for  the  Presidency, 
and  the  question  of  Western  empire,  as  cherished  by  many  leading 
men,  was  then  more  than  an  open  secret.  Indeed,  it  was  a  very 
grave  issue,  and  it  became  a  necessity  for  the  Rupublicans  to 
hold  the  Pacific  region  to  loyalty  by  the  positive  pledge  that  the 
Government  should  aid  the  immediate  construction  of  the  Pacific 
railway.  Indeed,  it  was  not  doubted  by  many  of  the  most  intel- 
ligent observers  of  the  political  situation  in  1860  that  the  Pacific 
region  could  be  held  to  the  Union  in  the  event  of  the  Southern 


72  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

States  seceding,  only  by  the  assurance  that  this  great  trans- 
continental highway  would  be  constructed.  The  Democratic 
platform  of  1860  was  practically  a  repetition  of  the  evasive 
deliverance  of  1856,  as  it  promised  to  the  people  of  the  Pacific 
States  only  "such  constitutional  Government  aid  as  will  insure 
the  construction  of  a  railroad  to  the  Pacific  coast  at  the  earliest 
practicable  period."  This  was  the  declaration  of  the  Douglas 
convention.  The  Breckinridge  convention  reaffirmed  the  same 
plank  and  added  to  it  the  pledge  of  the  party  "to  use  every 
means  in  their  power  to  secure  the  passage  of  some  bill  to  the 
extent  of  the  constitutional  authority  of  Congress  for  the  con- 
struction of  the  Pacific  railway." 

It  will  be  seen  that  both  the  Democratic  conventions  of  1860 
limited  the  aid  of  the  Government  to  the  Pacific  railway  to  the 
Constitutional  authority  of  the  Government  when  the  party  had, 
ever  since  the  adoption  of  the  resolutions  of  '98,  uniformly 
declared  against  the  power  of  the  Government  to  become  con- 
nected in  any  way  with  banking,  railway  or  other  corporations. 
The  two  great  parties  of  the  country  thus  entered  the  contest  of 
1860  with  the  Republicans  unqualifiedly  pledged  to  the  construc- 
tion of  the  Pacific  railway  by  the  Government,  and  the  Demo- 
crats pledged  only  to  aid  such  enterprise  as  far  as  the  Consti- 
tutional power  would  warrant,  while  every  platform  of  the  party 
had  denied  the  existence  of  any  such  Constitutional  authority. 
It  was  this  attitude  of  the  Republican  party  that  made  California 
and  Oregon  give  their  virgin  Republican  votes,  and  it  was  the 
confidence  of  the  people  of  the  Pacific  States  in  the  early  con- 
struction of  the  transcontinental  highway  that  not  only  made 
those  States  Republican,  but  entirely  destroyed  the,  hope  of 
independent  empire. 

The  promise  made  was  long  delayed  in  its  fulfilment,  but  the 
plighted  faith  of  the  party  was  fulfilled  as  speedily  as  was  at  all 
possible.  The  first  proposition  adopted  by  Congress  made  an 
appropriation  of  some  $12,000  to  $48,000  a  mile,  for  which  Gov- 
ernment bonds  were  to  be  issued,  and  for  which  the  Govern- 
ment was  to  take  the  first  mortgage  on  the  line,  allowing  the 
builders  to  add  additional  mortgages  as  might  be  deemed  neces- 
sary. Earnest  efforts  were  made  to  financier  the  enterprise  on 
this  basis,  but  they  utterly  failed,  and  the  Government  was  final- 
ly compelled  to  make  the  same  appropriation  to  the  Pacific  road 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  73 

and  take  a  second  mortgage  for  its  advancement,  allowing  the 
builders  to  raise  a  like  sum  of  money  by  a  first  mortgage.  Even 
then  it  was  difficult  to  command  the  capital  for  the  construction 
of  this  great  highway.  The  bankers  and  other  money  men  of 
the  country  would  take  the  Government  bonds,  but  did  not  wel- 
come the  first  mortgage  bonds  and  other  securities  of  the  cor- 
poration, and  those  who  finally  succeeded  in  constructing  the 
great  transcontinental  railway  were  men  whose  energy  and  pro- 
gressive qualities  exceeded  their  capital,  and  who  suffered  many 
disappointments  and  sickening  anxiety  for  years  in  consummat- 
ing their  great  work.  In  the  end  they  all  made  fortunes,  but 
most  of  them  received  little  credit  and  much  censure  for  their 
success  and  the  use  they  made  of  it. 

The  names  of  Huntingdon,  Stanford,  Crocker  and  Hopkins 
were  comparatively  unknown  in  money  circles  of  the  West  when 
they  undertook  the  appalling  task  of  constructing  the  new  Pa- 
cific railway  from  San  Francisco  to  the  Salt  Lake  Valley.  It 
is  impossible  in  these  days  of  convenient  and  rapid  communica- 
tion with  every  part  of  the  country  and  the  world  to  appreciate 
the  difficulties  which  confronted  these  progressive  men.  While 
those  who  constructed  the  Union  Pacific  from  the  Father  of 
Waters  to  Salt  Lake  Valley  had  every  facility  for  transporting 
their  materials,  the  California. pioneers  in  railway  progress  were 
compelled  to  ship  all  the  materials  and  machinery  they  used 
around  Cape  Horn  to  the  Pacific  coast.  They  had  a  long  and 
fearful  struggle  against  bankruptcy,  but  finally  succeeded,  only 
to  meet  organized  political  opposition  to  the  policy  they  adopted 
for  the  purpose  of  remunerating  themselves.  California  has 
been  convulsed  in  her  political  conflicts  by  the  war  against  these 
railway  magnates,  and  strange  political  revolutions  have  been 
wrought  on  the  issue.  Even  to  this  day  political  contests  are 
often  controlled  by  a  tidal  wave  of  hostility  to  the  men  who  cre- 
ated this  great  artery  of  commerce  and  trade. 

The  men  who  constructed  the  Eastern  or  Union  Pacific  rail- 
way were,  as  a  rulfe,  little  known  in  the  financial  circles  of  our 
great  cities.  Oakes  Ames,  one  of  the  very  few  men  who  had 
the  courage  to  shoulder  the  colossal  enterprise,  won  fortune 
and  defamation  as  his  reward,  as  the  scandals  of  the  Credit  Mo- 
bilier  abundantly  testify.  Since  then,  with  the  aid  of  liberal  land 
grants,  four  great  trunk  lines  have  been  constructed  over  the 


74  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

Rocky  Mountains  and  the  Sierras,  and  their  tributary  lines  ex- 
tend into  all  the  centres  of  industry  in  that  region.  One  who 
crossed  the  Rocky  range,  as  I  did,  at  four  different  passes  a  gen- 
eration ago,  when  the  rude  song  of  the  iron  horse  had  never 
been  heard  by  the  few  pioneers  and  dusky  sons  of  the  forest, 
can  well  understand  the  colossal  character  of  the  enterprise  that 
constructed  the  transcontinental  railway;  and  Jay  Cook,  who 
did  more  to  aid  the  progress  and  development  of  the  country 
than  any  man  now  living,  could  tell  the  story  of  the  desperate 
struggle  required  to  construct  the  Northern  Pacific,  which  has 
time  and  again  practically  fallen  into  bankruptcy,  but  which 
today,  although  immensely  capitalized,  commands  par  for  its 
common  shares  on  the  stock  market. 

Lower  California  at  one  time  gave  promise  of  playing  an  im- 
portant part  in  precipitating  relations  between  the  United  States 
and  Mexico,  which  might  have  created  a  new  factor  in  hasten- 
ing the  retreat  of  the  French  army  from  Mexico  and  the  over- 
throw of  Maximilian.  In  the  winter  of  1864-5,  when  it  was  well 
known  that  the  military  power  of  the  Confederacy  was  on  the 
verge  of  complete  destruction,  Juarez  had  been  driven  by  Max- 
imilian to  the  extreme  northern  portion  of  Mexico  in  Chihua- 
hua, where  he  could  make  his  escape  into  the  United  States  if 
it  should  become  necessary.  Maximilian  had  entered  Mexico, 
protected  by  the  French  army,  during  the  summer  of  1864,  and 
the  armies  of  Juarez  had  been  defeated  and  driven  from  their 
battlefields  by  overwhelming  numbers. 

Our  Government  never  recognized  the  empire  of  Maximilian, 
but  recognized  the  almost  banished  full-blooded  Indian  Presi- 
dent who  was  driven  to  the  remote  borders  of  the  Republic. 
The  power  of  Maximilian  seemed  to  be  fully  and  permanently 
established,  and  he  doubtless  would  have  been  successful  but  for 
the  failure  of  the  Confederacy.  President  Lincoln  had  but  one 
answer  to  the  proposition  of  resenting  the  violation  of  the  openly 
declared  and  uniformly  maintained  policy  of  our  Government 
to  prevent  any  foreign  Power  from  establishing  its  authority  by 
conquest  in  the  Western  Continent.  Under  ordinary  conditions 
it  would  have  been  his  duty  to  declare  war  against  France  for 
overthrowing  by  military  power  the  sister  Republic  of  Mexico, 
but  flagrant  as  was  the  affront  given  by  France,  Lincoln's  an- 
swer was:  "One  war  at  a  time  for  the  present."  He  realized  the 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  75 

inability  of  our  Government  to  accept  a  war  with  France  that 
might  have  been  extended  even  to  England  by  England's  recog- 
nition of  the  Confederacy,  and  he  was  compelled  to  submit  in 
silence  to  this  despotic  intervention  of  Napoleon  III  to  over- 
throw the  Monroe  doctrine  by  the  establishment  of  the  Mexi- 
can empire. 

Some  time  in  the  latter  part  of  1864  or  in  the  early  part  of 
1865  I  was  one  of  a  party  that  met  a  dozen  limes  or  more  in 
New  York  City  to  consider  the  proposition,  which  came  from 
President  Juarez  through  John  Anderson,  a  great  tobacco  man 
and  multi-millionaire,  to  transfer  to  an  organized  association  of 
Americans  the  entire  possession  of  Lower  California,  reserving 
to  the  Mexican  Government  only  its  sovereignty  over  that  State. 
The  men  most  prominently  engaged  in  the  enterprise  with  Mr. 
Anderson  were  Caleb  Gushing,  Benjamin  F.  Butler,  Governor 
Curtin,  Thomas  A.  Scott  and  several  others  of  less  prominence. 

At  the  time  of  the  first  meeting  of  these  gentlemen  Governor 
Curtin  and  I  dined  at  Mr.  Anderson's  on  Sunday,  and  there 
met  a  veteran  Mexican  general  who  was  in  personal  charge  of 
the  wife  and  family  of  President  Juarez.  The  Mexican  Presi- 
dent had  sent  his  wife  and  children  to  New  York  for  safety,  and 
they  were  in  the  care  of  this  old  soldier,  who  had  served  with 
distinction  with  Juarez  in  many  of  his  battles,  and  was  intrusted 
with  the  safety  of  his  household  gods.  Juarez  then  regarded  it 
as  quite  probable  that  he  would  soon  be  compelled  to  take 
refuge  in  the  United  States.  With  the  exception  of  Chihuahua, 
the  Maximilian  empire  had  absolute  authority  throughout  all 
the  States  and  provinces  of  Mexico,  and  he  was  exceedingly 
anxious  to  enlist  the  business  interests  of  a  powerful  American 
association  by  ceding  to  it  the  entire  Government  property  and 
rights  in  Lower  California,  reserving  only  the  sovereignty.  He 
reasoned  soundly  on  the  subject,  for  any  act  of  his  Government 
would  be  accepted  by  the  United  States  as  the  act  of  the  recog- 
nized Government  of  the  Republic  of  Mexico,  and  interference 
by  Maximilian  with  the  rights  of  Americans  in  Lower  Califor- 
nia which  had  been  granted  by  President  Juarez  would  summon 
the  power  of  our  Government  to  the  support  of  American  in- 
terests. This  would  not  have  been  practicable  but  for  the  fact 
that  the  overthrow  of  the  military  power  ot  the  Confederacy  was 
certain  to  be  accomplished  in  the  very  near  future,  and  the  ex- 


7  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

pectation  was  that,  with  our  civil  war  ended,  the  veterans  of  both 
the  blue  and  the  gray  would  be  glad  to  unite  in  a  war  with 
France  for  the  overthrow  of  Maximilian  and  his  empire,  and 
for  the  re-establishment  of  the  Monroe  doctrine. 

This  great  enterprise  had  been  very  thoroughly  considered 
by  the  prominent  men  engaged  in  it.  Mr.  Anderson  was  one 
of  the  most  progressive  men  of  his  day,  and  was  one  of  the  com- 
paratively few  multi-millionaires  of  that  time.  He  was  a  born 
revolutionist,  and  loved  adventure.  He  was  the  sole  architect 
of  his  own  fortune  that  he  made  out  of  his  immense  tobacco 
trade,  and  was  a  warm  friend  and  supporter  of  Kossuth  in  his 
revolutionary  struggles.  At  the  dinner  I  have  referred  to  he 
told  an  interesting  incident  that  occurred  when  Kossuth  was  at 
the  height  of  his  revolutionary  movements.  Mr.  Anderson  spoke 
fluently  almost  every  language,  and  had  important  business  re- 
lations at  times  with  the  Rothschilds.  He  told  how,  on  entering 
the  reception  room  in  the  Rothschilds'  house,  he  overheard  two 
of  the  members  of  the  firm  discussing  very  excitedly  in  some 
foreign  language,  that  Anderson  well  understood,  the  danger  of 
Kossuth  capturing  a  large  amount  of  specie  that  was  at  some 
point  on  the  line  of  his  march;  and  the  particular  point  was 
stated  in  the  conversation.  Suddenly  the  excited  discussion 
halted  as  Anderson  was  observed,  and  one  of  the  men  engaged 
in  it  came  up  to  him  and  addressed  him  in  the  same  language, 
to  which  Anderson  replied:  "Beg  pardon,  but  I  speak  English," 
and  he  then  addressed  him  in  English,  evidently  delighted  that 
Anderson  had  not  understood  the  conversation,  if  he  even  had 
overheard  it.  Anderson  transacted  his  business  promptly  and 
spent  a  large  sum  of  money  to  express  to  Kossuth  the  location 
and  amount  of  money  that  might  be  captured.  As  a  result 
Kossuth  made  a  forced  march  and  became  the  possessor  of  the 
tieasure. 

The  possession  of  Southern  California  was  the  conception  of 
Anderson,  and  he  was  a  warm  friend  of  Juarez.  He  was  then 
aiding  not  only  in  protecting,  but  in  providing  for  the  family  of 
the  Mexican  President.  He  was  easily  successful  in  making 
Juarez  understand  that  in  no  way  could  he  better  strengthen  his 
power  than  by  making  the  concession  to  a  powerful  American 
association.  He  first  submitted  it  to  Caleb  Cushing,  who  was 
then,  as  he  continued  until  his  death,  a  recognized  authority  on 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  77 

international  law.  He  was  not  only  the  legal  adviser  of  the 
Government  before  the  civil  war,  but  during  all  the  severe  diplo- 
matic trials  of  our  fraternal  conflict  he  was  the  accepted  author- 
ity of  the  Government  in  meeting  all  emergencies,  and  he  con- 
tinued to  be  the  legal  adviser  under  all  administrations  until 
his  great  life  ended.  He  gave  the  matter  very  careful  consider- 
ation and  became  much  enthused  in  the  scheme.  General  But- 
ler, Colonel  Scott,  Governor  Curtin  and  others  were  conferred 
with,  and  united  in  the  enterprise.  Through  the  kindness  of 
Curtin  and  Scott  I  was  asked  to  join  the  movement,  and  was 
present  at  all  the  meetings  held. 

Soon  after  this  organization  was  accomplished  the  surrender 
of  the  Confederate  armies  of  Lee  and  Johnston  practically  ended 
the  civil  war,  and  it  was  well  understood  that  the  close  of  our 
fraternal  conflict  would  compel  France  to  withdraw  from  Mex- 
ico and  restore  President  Juarez  to  the  supreme  authority  as  the 
head  of  the  Republic  of  Mexico.  But  this  sudden  change  of 
the  situation  did  not  in  any  degree  affect  the  attitude  of  Juarez 
toward  the  American  association.  He  had  given  his  pledge  to 
cede  Lower  California  to  the  Americans  named  upon  conditions 
which  at  the  time  were  regarded  as  entirely  acceptable.  It  was 
believed  by  the  leading  men  in  the  movement  that  it  was  a  most 
promising  speculation  of  immense  proportions,  and  many 
months  were  devoted  to  careful  study  of  the  climate  and  re- 
sources of  Lowrer  California,  and  of  the  best  methods  of  accom- 
plishing colonization  to  that  region  on  a  large  scale.  The  infor- 
mation given  from  time  to  time  as  to  the  resources  of  the  coun- 
try and  the  probability  of  successful  colonization  did  not  meet 
the  expectations  of  those  who  had  the  movement  in  charge,  and 
after  having  given  more  than  a  year  of  effort  to  organize  the 
enterprise  in  all  details,  it  was  finally  voluntarily  abandoned. 

It  wras  known  that  Maximilian  would  be  powerless  to  inter- 
fere with  the  American  possession  of  Lower  California;  the 
great  purpose  that  Juarez  had  in  view  practically  failed  by  the 
sudden  change  of  events  in  Mexico,  and  the  American  associa- 
tion finally  decided  that  the  large  expenditure  involved  and  the 
risk  as  to  probable  profits  did  not  warrant  them  in  carrying  the 
proposition  to  its  consummation.  Had  they  taken  possession 
of  Lower  California  as  Juarez  agreed  to  cede  it  to  them,  at  any 
time  in  the  latter  part  of  1864  or  the  early  part  of  1865,  they 


7$  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

would  have  come  in  direct  conflict  with  the  Maximilian  empire, 
and  the  issue  would  have  been  sharply  defined  between  this 
Government  and  the  Emperor;  but  the  changed  conditions 
made  the  proposed  cessation  of  Lower  California  without  special 
interest  to  Juarez,  and  the  only  question  then  to  be  considered 
was  whether  the  enterprise  would  be  a  profitable  one.  I  well 
remember  the  last  meeting  held  at  the  St.  Nicholas  Hotel,  in 
New  York,  when  Mr.  Gushing  went  over  the  whole  scheme  in 
all  its  details,  and  advised  against  its  further  prosecution.  The 
service  expected  to  be  rendered  to  Juarez  had  already  been  ren- 
dered to  him  by  decisive  events  over  which  the  American  asso- 
ciation had  no  control  and  those  best  informed  on  the  subject 
decided  against  continuing  the  enterprise  as  a  mere  speculation, 
although  at  first  they  believed  it  promised  profits  that  could  be 
estimated  in  the  millions. 

Thus  an  American  association,  embracing  some  of  the  most 
distinguished  men  of  the  country,  failed  to  become  the  owners 
of  a  great  State  within  the  present  Republic  of  Mexico;  and 
soon  after  the  enterprise  was  abandoned  Maximilian  and  two  of 
his  generals  were  executed  by  the  order  of  Juarez,  and  "Poor 
Charlotte,"  then  the  queen  of  beauty,  hospitality  and  philan- 
thropy in  Mexico,  left  her  throne  in  the  palace  of  Montezuma 
to  plead  her  cause  vainly  before  Napoleon  and  the  Pope,  and 
thence  to  enter  an  asylum  of  the  insane,  where  to  this  day  she 
has  lived  in  the  starless  midnight  of  dethroned  reason. 


FILLMORE,  PIERCE,  BUCHANAN,  LIN- 
COLN AND  JOHNSON  IN  THE 
WHITE    HOUSE. 

My  first  visit  to  the  White  House  was  just  fifty  years  ago,  in 
1851,  when  Millard  Fillmore  was  President.  I  had  been  at  the 
Philadelphia  convention  that  nominated  Taylor  and  Fillmore, 
but  in  my  journeyings,  severely  confined  by  the  limited  re- 
sources of  a  village  newspaper,  I  had  never  been  able  to  reach 
the  capital  of  the  nation.  The  President  was  then  not  as 
accessible  as  he  is  today.  The  rules  of  the  White  House  were 
more  conventional,  and  visitors  of  the  merely  curious  class  re- 
quired the  aid  of  those  in  authority  to  give  them  access  to  the 
ruler  of  the  Republic.  A  Whig  United  States  Senator  whom  I 
had  in  a  very  humble  way  aided  to  elect  gave  me  the  very  great 
gratification  of  a  personal  visit  to  the  President,  and  in  those 
days,  in  a  little  village  nestling  in  the  spurs  of  the  Alleghenies 
and  guiltless  of  railroads  and  telegraphs  until  within  a  very  few 
years,  a  personal  visit  to  the  President  was  a  most  inspiring 
theme  for  discussion,  not  only  in  curb-stone  and  corner  store- 
box  gatherings  but  in  social  circles  as  well. 

President  Fillmore  was  one  of  the  two  conventional  and 
austerely  dignified  Presidents  of  the  last  half  century,  Buchanan 
being  his  fellow.  The  first  impressions,  mingled  with  the  awe 
that  a  visit  to  the  President  inspired  in  one  who  was  making  his 
first  visit  to  the  capital  and  for  the  first  time  in  the  presence,  of 
the  ruler  of  the  Republic,  are  remembered  as  distinctly  today 
as  they  were  when  I  left  the  capital.  He  was  a  man  of  magni- 
ficent proportions  and  severe  dignity,  without  a  trace  of  the 
genial  qualities  which  distinguished  some  of  the  later  Presidents, 
but  he  was  always  courteous  to  his  guests'  of  all  conditions.  He 
was  ever  faultlessly  dressed  to  set  off  his  admirably  fashioned 
form  and  his  finely  chiseled  face,  with  a  luxuriant  crown  of  gray 
hair.  His  appearance  gave  every  indication  of  greatness  to  the 
ordinary  observer,  and  it  is  conceded  by  all  that,  even  with  a 

(79) 


So  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

Cabinet  of  exceptional  ability,  headed  by  Daniel  Webster,  he 
was  equal  to  every  duty  of  his  high  office. 

It  would  have  been  very  gratifying  to  me  to  see  a  genial 
smile  on  his  handsome  face  during  the  brief  interview  to  which 
I  was  a  witness  rather  than  a  participant,  but  I  was  disappointed. 
I  never  met  him  again  except  once  in  a  casual  way  until  after  he 
had  retired  from  the  Presidency.  He  returned  to  private  life 
with  his  mental  and  physical  vigor  entirely  unabated;  and  I  met 
him  on  several  occasions,  the  most  notable  of  which  was  when 
he  returned  from  Europe  to  New  York,  in  the  summer  of  1856, 
and  delivered  a  short  address  when  serenaded  by  an  assembly  of 
his  political  friends.  I  had  been  a  delegate  to  the  convention 
that  nominated  Fremont,  but  was  so  unfavorable  to  the  Fremont 
movement  that  I  quietly  retired  before  the  ballot  for  President; 
but  an  interview  with  Fillmore  at  the  St.  Nicholas  Hotel  on  the 
occasion  referred  to  developed  a  political  purpose  that  I  regarded 
as  even  much  less  entitled  to  support  than  Fremont  and  his 
cause. 

Fillmore  was  intensely  embittered  against  those  whom  he 
regarded  as  the  radical  Republicans  who  supported  Fremont.  I 
found  the  dregs  of  his  great  battle  for  the  acceptance  of  the 
Compromise  measures,  and  the  sting  of  his  defeat  in,  the  Whig 
convention  of  1852,  pointedly  reflected  in  him,  and  he  was  ten- 
fold more  hostile  to  Fremont  than  he  was  to  Buchanan.  He 
entered  that  contest  as  a  candidate  of  the  Americans,  whose 
convention  had  nominated  him  in  Philadelphia  in  February  of 
that  year;  and  his  candidacy  was  indorsed  by  a  Whig  convention 
in  Baltimore  in  September.  He  bore  himself  in  the  contest  with 
great  dignity.  With  all  his  intensity  of  partisan  feeling,  he  never 
uttered  a  sentence  that  was  unworthy  of  a  most  accomplished 
statesman.  He  had  risen  from  the  shop  where  he  had  served  as 
an  apprentice  in  the  carding  and  fulling  business  to  the  highest 
civil  trust  of  the  world,  and  was  entirely  the  architect  of  his  own 
fortune.  Having  purchased  from  his  employer  part  of  the  time 
of  his  apprenticeship  to  enable  him  to  prepare  for  the  study  of 
law,  he  soon  rose  to  a  high  position  at  the  Bar,  represented  the 
Buffalo  district  in  Congress,  was  the  unsuccessful  candidate  of  his 
party  for  Governor  in  1846,  and  the  following  year  was  elected 
Controller  of  the  State,  which  position  he  held  when  he  was 
nominated  for  Vice  President  in  1848.  His  nomination  was>  a 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  8 1 

triumph  over  the  first  attempt  made  to  win  a  national  nomina- 
tion by  the  power  of  wealth,  as  illustrated  by  Abbott  Lawrence. 

The  change  in  the  White  House  caused  by  the  death  of  Presi- 
dent Taylor  and  the  succession  of  Fillmore  was  a  complete  trans- 
formation from  the  most  delightful  social  conditions  to  the 
severely  quiet  hospitality  that  naturally  followed  the  period  of 
mourning  for  the  dead  President,  and  that  was  measurably  main- 
tained thereafter  by  Mrs.  Fillmore.  She  was  one  of  the  loveliest 
and  best  of  American  women,  and  had  given  a  strong  helping 
hand  to  her  husband  in  all  the  trials  of  his  life;  but  she  entered 
the  White  House  as  its  mistress  a  confirmed  invalid,  and  never 
was  in  a  condition  of  health  to  participate  in  the  social  cere- 
monies excepting  when  it  was  absolute  necessity.  She  was  uni- 
versally respected  and  beloved  by  all  who  knew  her,  and  the  con- 
trast between  the  quiet  suffering  of  Mrs.  Fillmore,  who  died  only 
a  few  months  after  she  retired,  and  the  sparkling  brilliancy  of 
"Betty  Bliss/'  who  was  mistress  of  the  White  House  for  Taylor, 
was  keenly  felt  in  social  circles  of  the  capital.  "Betty"  Taylor 
was  the  youngest  of  the  several  daughters  of  the  President,  one 
of  whom  had  married  Jefferson  Davis;  and  after  being  educated 
in  Philadelphia  she  married  Major  William  W.  S.  Bliss  at  the 
age  of  nineteen.  Upon  the  inauguration  of  her  father  she  became 
the  mistress  of  the  White  House,  because  of  her  mother's  feeble 
health,  and  her  husband  became  her  father's  secretary.  Bliss 
was  a  very  accomplished  soldier  and  gentleman;  had  served  on 
General  Taylor's  staff,  and  was  generally  credited  with  having 
written  the  terse  dispatch  from  Taylor  to  Santa  Anna  saying: 
"General  Taylor  never  surrenders."  "Betty  Bliss,"  as  she  was 
universally  called,  was  only  twenty-four  years  of  age  when  her 
father  became  President,  and  with  her  elegant  culture,  sunny 
disposition  and  admirable  social  tact  she  was  probably  next  to 
Mrs.  Cleveland,  the  most  generally  popular  mistress  the  White 
House  has  ever  had.  She  became  a  widow  in  a  few  years  there- 
after, and  later  married  Philip  P.  Dandridge,  of  Winchester,  Va., 
where  she  has  lived  for  nearly  half  a  century,  universally  beloved 
by  all  who  surrounded  her. 

I  first  met  President  Pierce  at  Harrisburg  in  the  early  period 
of  his  Administration,  when  he  was  the  guest  of  Governor  Pol- 
lock as  a  visitor  to  the  State  Agricultural  Fair.  He  was  a  man 
of  elegant  and  graceful  manners,  faultless  in  the  quiet  elegance 


8  2  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

of  his  dress,  and  most  genial  in  his  intercourse  with  others  with- 
out impairing  the  dignity  of  his  high  position.  He  had  strong, 
manly,  regular  features,  with  an  unusual  wealth  of  beautiful 
hair,  and  may  well  be  classed  as  one  of  the  few  of  our  handsome 
Presidents.  He  was  born  and  raised  on  a  farm  up  in  the  bleak 
hills  of  New  Hampshire,  and  in  his  industrial  life  exhibited  such 
unusual  mental  qualities  that  his  father  made  great  sacrifices  to 
give  him  an  academic  and  finally  a  collegiate  education.  He  was 
admitted  to  the  Bar  in  1827,  and  soon  thereafter  was  elected  to 
the  popular  branch  of  his  Legislature,  where  he  served  four 
years.  He  was  elected  United  States  Senator  in  1837,  and  was 
the  youngest  member  of  that  body  when  he  took  his  seat.  He 
took  a  prominent  part  in  the  discussion  of  public  questions  in 
the  Senate,  which  then  embraced  such  men  as  Clay,  Calhoun, 
Webster,  Buchanan,  Wright  and  others.  After  five  years' 
service  in  the  Senate  he  resigned  that  high  office  to  resume  the 
practice  of  his  profession  in  Concord.  He  was  a  man  of  gener- 
ous, convivial  nature,  and  it  was  an  open  secret  at  the  time  of 
his  resignation  that  he  retired  from  Washington  because  he 
wished  to  escape  its  constant  current  of  convivial  temptations. 
Three  years  after  he  resigned  he  was  offered  an  appointment  to 
the  Senate  by  the  Governor  to  fill  a  vacancy,  but  he  declined, 
as  he  did  the  nomination  for  Governor,  which  would  have  meant 
an  election.  In  a  public  letter  he  declared  it  to  be  his  "fixed 
purpose  never  again  to  be  voluntarily  separated  from  his  family 
except  at  the  call  of  his  country  in  time  of  war."  In  the  early 
part  of  the  Mexican  war  Pierce  was  appointed  Brigadier  General 
by  President  Polk,  and  he  served  creditably  under  Scott,  but 
without  special  distinction. 

In  1852  the  Democratic  National  Convention  was  greatly 
embarrassed  in  its  choice  of  a  candidate  for  President.  Cass, 
Buchanan,  Douglas  and  Marcy  were  the  chief  competitors  for 
the  prize,  and  after  several  days  of  angry  discussion  and  fruitless 
balloting  the  Virginia  delegation,  on  the  thirty-fifth  ballot,  gave 
a  solid  vote  to  Franklin  Pierce,  whose  name  had  not  until  then 
been  before  the  convention,  and  on  the  forty-ninth  ballot  he 
received  a  practically  unanimous  vote.  The  Compromise 
measures  of  1850  were  claimed  by  their  supporters  as  a  final 
settlement  of  the  slavery  agitation,  as  the  Democrats  of  all 
sections  approved  them,  while  the  Whigs  haltingly  approved 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  83 

them  in  their  platform  by  a  trade  with  the  South  to  assure  the 
nominations  of  Scott  for  President.  The  result  was  Pierce's 
'election  by  an  overwhelming  majority.  He  carried  every  State 
but  four — Vermont  and  Massachusetts  in  the  North,  and  Ten- 
nessee and  Kentucky  in  the  South.  His  election  was  generally 
accepted  as  ending  the  disturbing  slavery  agitation  for  the  time, 
but  it  was  during  his  Administration  that  the  country  was 
shocked  by  the  reopening  of  the  slavery  agitation  with  increased 
intensity  by  the  repeal  of  the  Missouri  Compromise,  resudting  in 
the  defeat  of  Pierce  by  Buchanan  after  a  desperate  struggle  in 
the  national  convention. 

It  was  always  a  pleasure  to  visit  President  Pierce  when  he 
occupied  the  White  House,  and  I  availed  myself  of  the  few 
opportunities  I  had  to  meet  him.  He  was  ever  cordial,  with 
supreme  tact  in  disposing  of  his  visitors  who  trespassed  upon 
his  time,  and  made  every  one  leave  the  White  House  feeling 
that  it  was  a  delightful  privilege  for  an  American  citizen  to  see 
the  ruler  of  the  nation.  Mrs.  Pierce  was  a  highly  cultivated  and 
accomplished  woman,  and  fulfilled  her  duties  as  mistress  of  the 
White  House  by  the  generous  exercise  of  quiet  hospitality.  She 
was  greatly  averse  to  the  glitter  of  fashionable  and  conventional 
life,  and  was  always  most  happy  in  the  circle  of  her  own  home. 
President  Pierce  retired  from  office  in  1857,  suffering  keen  dis- 
appointment because  of  his  failure  to  be  renominated,  since  hie 
started  in  the  national  convention  within  a  very  few  votes  of 
Buchanan,  the  successful  candidate.  Two  of  his  three  children 
had  died  in  -early  youth,  and  the  third  suffered  a  tragic  death  in 
a  railroad  accident  a  short  time  before  his  father's  inauguration  as 
President.  The  President  and  his  wife  retired  to  their  childless 
home  in  Concord,  where  they  both  lived  a  rather  severely  domes- 
tic life,  and  he  was  unheard  of  in  political  struggles,  either  State 
or  national,  thereafter.  In  1863  ms  wife,  who  had  made  his 
home  lustrous  with  all  the  loveliest  attributes  of  womanhood,  was 
called  to  join  her  children  across  the  dark  water,  and  six  years 
later,  in  1869,  the  devoted  husband  and  father  answered  the 
mystic  bugle  call  to  join  the  great  majority  on  the  other  side. 

James  Buchanan  was  the  successor  of  Pierce,  and  I  knew  him 
intimately  for  some  years  before  he  became  President.  I  was 
then  a  resident  of  his  native  county  of  Franklin,  to  which  he 
made  frequent  visits,  and,  like  all  who  knew  him,  cherished  the 


84  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

highest  personal  regard  for  him.  He  was  a  man  of  great  ability, 
but  extreme  caution.  In  all  his  great  career  as  a  statesman  he 
never  originated  a  public  measure  that  made  its  mark  in  the 
annals  of  the  nation,  but  he  did  not  lack  courage.  When  his 
course  was  decided  upon  he  always  acted  with  great  directness 
and  stability  of  purpose.  His  humble  home  in  the  little  cove 
was  fortunately  near  the  village  of  Mercersburg,  where  he  had 
the  advantage  of  excellent  schools  and  an  academy,  and  by  great 
frugality  on  the  part  of  himself  and  his  parents  he  acquired  a 
college  education  and  graduated  with  honors.  In  his  early 
political  career  he  was  a  Federalist,  and  represented  the  Lan- 
caster district  in  Congress  for  a  number  of  years.  He  finally 
espoused  the  cause  of  Jackson,  and  soon  came  to  be  recognized 
as  one  of  the  ablest  of  the  Democratic  leaders.  He  was  a  man 
of  tireless  industry,  never  employed  a  secretary,  and  wrote  all 
his  many  letters  with  great  care  in  a  beautiful  copper-plate  hand. 
This  habit  he  maintained  until  he  was  overwhelmed  with  corre- 
spondence when  he  became  the  Democratic  candidate  in  1856, 
when  for  the  first  time  he  employed  a  secretary. 

Buchanan  had  desperate  battles  even  with  his  own  State  in  his 
Presidential  aspirations,  as  Cass  was  made  prominent  chiefly  by 
the  opponents  of  Buchanan;  but  in  1856  he  returned  from  the 
English  mission  that  had  kept  him  away  and  entirely  free  from 
the  disturbing  agitation  growing  out  of  the  repeal  of  the  Mis- 
souri Compromise.  I  was  at  the  Merchants'  Hotel  in  Phila- 
delphia, the  evening  he  arrived  there  from  Europe  on  his  way 
home,  and  heard  him  discuss  the  Presidential  situation  with 
great  calmness,  but,  of  course,  with  intense  interest  respecting 
himself.  His  strong  Scotch-Irish  qualities  were  exhibited  in 
speaking  of  the  opposition  to  him  in  his  own  party  in  Penn- 
sylvania, but  he  ever  restrained  his  criticism  of  others  within 
the  most  dignified  lines.  Many  of  the  leading  Whigs,  especially 
in  Philadelphia,  supported  him  for  President  against  Fremont, 
and  many  others  were,  like  myself,  finally  restrained  from  sup- 
porting him  by  the  strong  pro-slavery  platform  of  the  Chicago 
Convention  that  nominated  him. 

No  more  sincere  and  patriotic  man  ever  entered  the  Presi- 
dency than  James  Buchanan,  but  he  was  chosen  on  a  distinct 
sectional  issue  and  elected  by  the  vote  of  the  solid  South  (with 
the  exception  of  Maryland,  which  voted  for  Fillmore);  and, 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  85 

being  a  strict  constructionist  himself,  it  was  most  natural  for 
him  to  be  in  harmony  with  the  Southern  views  on  the  one 
supreme  issue  that  then  convulsed  the  country.  I  saw  him  fre- 
quently during  his  occupancy  of  the  White  House,  and  always 
found  him  the  same  severely  dignified  but  always  courtly  gentle- 
man. Miss  Harriet  Lane,  who  was  mistress  of  the  White  House 
for  her  bachelor  uncle,  and  who  is  yet  living,  was  one  of  the 
most  attractive  and  accomplished  of  the  many  accomplished 
ladies  who  have  filled  that  most  trying  position,  and  her  graceful 
and  genial  hospitality  did  much  to  relieve  the  severe  habits  of 
the  President.  Buchanan  had  the  severest  ordeal  of  any  Presi- 
dent excepting  that  of  Lincoln,  and  his  only  error  was  his  delay 
in  reorganizing  his  Cabinet  for  the  maintenance  of  the  Union. 
He  did  it  only  when  the  last  hope  of  peaceable  Union  had 
perished;  but  from  the  time  the  change  was  made,  and  after  his 
retirement,  during  the  entire  civil  war  he  was  thoroughly  loyal 
to  the  cause  of  the  Union.  He  was  respected  by  all  who  knew 
him,  even  including  his  bitterest  opponents,  while  the  social  reign 
in  the  White  House  was  never  more  delightful  than  when  Miss 
Lane  was  its  mistress.  Buchanan  had  little  part  in  it  beyond 
the  conventional  formalities  necessary  to  his  position.  A  very 
few  ladies  were  welcome  visitors  to  the  Executive  Chamber, 
and  perhaps  the  only  one  for  whom  he  would  relax  his  habits 
of  industry  was  Mrs.  Gaines,  one  of  the  brightest  of  our  Ameri- 
can women,  well  remembered  as  a  celebrated  suitor  in  forty 
years  of  litigation  for  the  possession  of  a  large  fortune  in  New 
Orleans.  Buchanan  was  the  first  bachelor  elected  to  the  Presi- 
dency and  Cleveland  the  only  one  who  succeeded  -him,  but 
Cleveland  retired  from  the  bachelor  list  before  half  his  first  term 
had  expired.  Buchanan  lived  seven  years  after  his  retirement, 
and  died  in  his  home  at  Wheatland  in  1868. 

There  was  sudden  and  violent  transformation  in  general  con- 
ditions in  Washington  after  the  inauguration  of  Lincoln.  We 
were  on  the  threshold  of  civil  war;  sectional  strife  was  tem- 
pestuous, and  in  a  month  and  a  fortnight  after  his  inauguration 
the  guns  of  Beauregard  thundered  against  the  little  starving 
garrison  of  Sumter.  Lincoln  was  the  least  conventional  of  all 
our  Presidents,  but  even  if  he  had  been  inclined  to  the  more 
ceremonious  official  life,  it  would  have  been  next  to  impossible 
with  all  the  violent  surges  of  civil  war  convulsing  the  country 


86  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

and  the  capital.  I  knew  him  better  than  I  have  ever  known  any 
of  the  other  Presidents  whom  I  have  met  during  the  last  half 
a  century.  It  was  my  fortune  to  be  charged  with  the  manage- 
ment of  the  battle  of  1860,  in  Pennsylvania,  when  the  October 
election  was  to  decide  the  question  of  his  election  or  defeat  in 
November,  and  that  brought  me  into  the  closest  relations  with 
him.  The  fact  that  it  was  eminently  successful  gave  me  more 
credit  from  Lincoln  than  I  merited,  and  it  was  the  beginning  of 
a  personal  and  political  relationship  that  ended  only  with  his 
death,  and  that  is  the  most  grateful  of  all  the  memories  of  my 
life. 

I  saw  Lincoln  under  all  conditions  and  circumstances;  heard 
his  inimitable  witticisms,  and  saw  him  many  times  depressed 
to  what  seemed  to  be  the  verge  of  despair.  He  possessed  one 
of  the  most  kindly  and  sympathetic  natures,  and  there  was  not 
a  sorrow  felt  by  his  people  that  did  not  shadow  his  life.  He 
saw  more  people  during  his  more  than  four  years  of  office  than 
any  other  five  Presidents  combined  in  the  same  period,  and  was 
always  most  happy  to  meet  the  people,  as  he  did  every  week, 
in  the  great  East  Room  of  the  White  House.  It  soon  became 
known  to  all  those  in  charge  of  the  White  House  that  position 
or  condition  did  not  make  a  visitor  unwelcome  to  the  President, 
and  the  humblest  mother  of  a  soldier  could  always  reach  him 
to  plead  her  cause;  and  it  was  seldom  done  in  vain.  Unlike  his 
predecessors,  Fillmore  and  Buchanan,  whom  I  had  seen  in  the 
same  positions,  Lincoln  was  notably  careless  in  dress.  He  al- 
ways wore  clothes  of  good  material,  but  his  tall,  slender,  angu- 
lar form  unfitted  him  to  present  anything  like  elegance  in  ap- 
parel. He  was  simply  forgetful  of  that  important  feature  of 
one  who  is  the  ruler  of  a  great  nation.  I  remember  on  one  oc- 
casion seeing  several  English  noblemen  presented  to  him  by 
Secretary  Seward,  who,  with  all  their  good  breeding,  illy  con- 
cealed their  disappointment  at  the  appearance  of  the  President 
of  the  United  States  when  he  first  uncoiled  his  long  legs  and 
rose  up  to  meet  them;  but  before  they  had  left  him  they  learned 
to  respect  if  not  to  reverence  the  representative  of  the  great  free 
Government  of  the  world.  He  had  no  taste  for  the  conventional 
social  occasions  which  were  at  times  imposed  upon  him  at  the 
White  House,  but  his  wife  enjoyed  the  social  distinction  she 
possessed,  and  at  times  gave  painful  illustrations  of  the  then  ex- 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  87 

isting  but  not  known  malady  that  soon  after  the  death  of  the 
President  developed  into  hopeless  insanity.  He  entered  the 
Presidency  without  a  policy  relating  to  the  secession  issue,  and 
he  met  all  the  many  grave  questions  as  they  arose  with  a  degree 
of  statesmanship  and  fidelity  that  few,  if  any,  could  have  equaled 
and  none  surpassed.  His  faith  and  hope  were  in  the  people, 
from  whose  humblest  ranks  he  had  sprung,  and  his  tragic  death 
just  when  his  great  work  seemed  to  be  on  the  eve  of  consum- 
mation made  his  name  the  most  beloved  and  reverenced  in 
American  history. 

Andrew  Johnson,  like  Lincoln,  came  from  close  to  mother 
earth,  with  parentage  so  obscure  as  to  make  the  place  of  his 
birth  a  matter  of  dispute.  He  acquired  his  trade  as  a  tailor  be- 
fore he  could  read  or  write,  but  he  finally  gravitated  from  North 
Carolina  to  Greenville,  East  Tennessee,  where  he  married  an  in- 
telligent helpmate  who  aided  him  greatly  in  his  education,  and 
who  lived  to  see  him  Mayor  of  his  city,  State  Representative  and 
Senator,  Governor,  United  States  Senator  and  President  of  the 
United  States,  although  her  feeble  health  prevented  her  from 
making  her  home  in  Washington  during  his  Presidency.  Her 
place  was  filled  by  her  daughter,  Mrs.  Patterson,  whose  husband 
was  then  a  United  States  Senator,  and  who  filled  the  position 
of  mistress  of  the  White  House  with  a  degree  of  dignified  hos- 
pitality that  commanded  the  approval  of  all. 

I  had  known  Johnson  some  years  before  his  election  as  Vice- 
President,  and  as  a  delegate-at-large  to  the  Baltimore  Conven- 
tion of  1864  I  voted  for  his  nomination,  but  not  because  I  pre- 
ferred him  to  Vice-President  Hamlin.  I  voted  for  him  because 
Mr.  Lincoln  personally  expressed  his  desire  that  I  should  do  so, 
and  for  reasons  which  made  it  a  duty  for  me  to  comply.  He 
had  no  hostility  to  Hamlin,  and  no  special  affection  for  Johnson, 
but  he  believed  that  the  War  Democrats  not  then  connected 
with  the  Republican  party  were  essential  to  party  success,  and 
he  believed  also  that  if  the  second  officer  of  the  Government  was 
chosen  from  a  reconstructed  State  in  the  heart  of  the  Confed- 
eracy, by  the  election  of  one  who  had  filled  every  office  within 
the  gift  of  his  State,  it  would  greatly  strengthen  the  friends  of 
the  Union  abroad,  who  were  making  a  desperate  battle  to  pre- 
vent the  recognition  of  the  Confederacy  by  England  and 
France. 


88  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

Johnson  came  into  the  Presidency  through  the  tears  of  the 
nation  over  the  assassination  of  Lincoln,  and  he  was  at  once 
confronted  with  the  exceptionally  grave  issue  of  reconstruction. 
He  was  unfortunate  in  coming  into  direct  conflict  with  an  in- 
tensely partisan  and  sectional  Republican  Senate  and  House, 
and  an  impassable  chasm  was  soon  created  between  them.  His 
rule  was  tempestuous,  as  he  was  nothing  if  not  aggressive,  and 
while  sincerely  battling  for  the  Southern  people  and  their  in- 
terests, he  was  chiefly  or  wholly  responsible  for  the  severe  re- 
construction policy  that  was  adopted  in  the  sweeping  passions 
of  the  time.  I  never  saw  him  but  once  after  he  became  Presi- 
dent. In  response  to  his  invitation  I  called  upon  him  with  Gov- 
ernor Curtin  before  the  meeting  of  Congress  in  the  fall  of  1865. 
He  desired  to  impress  upon  us  the  importance  of  sustaining  his 
policy  of  reconstruction,  which  he  organized  without  the  knowl- 
edge or  authority  of  Congress,  and  for  which  he  vainly  hoped  to 
command  Congressional  approval.  I  was  not  in  sympathy  with 
his  policy,  and  in  the  discussion  of  the  political  situation  he  ex- 
hibited impatience  and  petulance  at  every  opposing  suggestion. 
After  a  very  full  and  very  frank  expression  of  views  on  both 
sides,  during  which  he  was  always  arrogant,  and  often  vehe- 
ment, we  parted  with  frigid  formality  on  his  part,  and  I  never 
personally  met  him  thereafter. 

On  the  eve  of  his  retirement  from  the  Presidency  Johnson 
issued  a  message  in  which  he  practically  advised  the  repudia- 
tion of  the  national  debt  and  throughout  made  an  appeal  to  the 
agrarian  sentiment  of  the  country.  It  fell  upon  listless  ears,  and 
very  few  of  those  living  today  know  that  such  a  paper  was  pre- 
sented to  the  public.  He  was  the  only  President  who  imitated 
John  Adams  in  not  giving  cordial  personal  welcome  to  his  suc- 
cessor. Adams  retired  from  the  White  House  after  midnight 
on  the  morning  of  Jefferson's  inauguration,  and  did  not  appear 
at  the  ceremonies.  Johnson  was  not  visible  at  the  Grant  in- 
auguration, but  it  was  well  known  that  Grant  was  quite  as  much 
responsible  for  it  as  Johnson  himself,  as  Grant  had  publicly 
expressed  his  purpose  not  to  have  President  Johnson  accom- 
pany him  to  the  Capitol  for  the  inauguration. 


GRANT  AS  CHIEFTAIN  AND  PRESI- 
DENT. 

General  Grant  was  made  the  Republican  candidate  for  Presi- 
dent in  1868  against  his  own  personal  wishes.  He  had  never 
voted  the  Republican  ticket,  and  always  was  Democratic  in  his 
tendencies.  When  the  war  ended  he  had,  as  he  believed,  irrev- 
ocably determined  not  to  enter  politics  by  becoming  the  Presi- 
dential candidate  of  any  party.  He  might  have  adhered  to  that 
purpose  if  it  had  not  been  for  his  quarrel  with  President  John- 
son, that  became  intensely  embittered  on  both  sides,  and 
brought  the  Republicans  to  the  support  of  Grant,  who  finally, 
after  much  persuasion,  was  induced  to  accept  the  Republican 
nomination.  I  had  met  Grant  only  in  a  casual  way  several  times 
during  the  war.  He  was  a  man  who  did  not  exert  himself  to 
make  friends,  and  was  always  reserved  but  courteous  in  his  inter- 
course with  others.  He  was  made  a  candidate  without  any  effort 
on  his  part,  as  his  conservative  views  called  to  his  support  the 
substantial  interests  of  the  country,  which  were  greatly  inter- 
ested in  having  sectional  passions  overcome.  I  was  chairman 
of  the  Pennsylvania  delegation  in  the  Chicago  convention,  and 
cast  the  vote  of  the  State  for  his  nomination,  and  I  never  more 
sincerely  and  heartily  supported  a  candidate.  While  I  had  little 
to  expect  from  him  as  a  politician  or  statesman,  I  believed  that 
his  election  would  do  more  to  tranquillize  the  country  than  the 
election  of  any  of  our  more  experienced  and  aggressive  poli- 
ticians. I  had  no  personal  or  political  ends  to  serve,  and  de- 
sired only  the  success  of  the  Republican  party  in  harmonizing 
the  estranged  sections  of  the  country  as  speedily  as  possible. 

On  this  issue  I  was  grievously  disappointed  in  President 
Grant's  policy.  I  had  never  asked  him  to  confer  honors  upon 
any  one,  and,  therefore,  had  no  personal  disappointment.  In- 
deed, I  had  retired  from  active  participation  in  politics  after  his 
election,  because  the  bankruptcy  in  which  the  destruction  of 
Chambersburg  by  the  Confederate  troops  had  involved  me  made 

(89) 


90  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

it  necessary  to  give  my  whole  attention  to  my  profession.  Be- 
yond an  interview  with  him  a  short  time  before  his  inauguration, 
which  was  made  important  only  by  himself,  and  several  visits  to 
the  White  House  in  the  early  part  of  his  administration  without 
any  political  purpose,  I  had  little  intercourse  with  Grant  dur- 
ing his  administration.  I  met  him  several  times  on  social  occa- 
sions, but  always  without  referring  to  political  matters.  I  re- 
volted against  his  renomination  in  1872,  and  was  chairman  of 
the  Pennsylvania  delegation  to  the  Cincinnati  Convention  that 
nominated  Greeley  as  his  competitor. 

After  his  retirement  from  the  Presidency  I  met  him  under 
very  pleasant  circumstances  on  several  occasions,  and  once  at 
a  private  lunch  with  him  and  Mr.  Childs  at  Mr.  Drexel's  office 
had  the  only  opportunity  of  my  life  to  see  the  genial  qualities 
which  Grant  possessed  but  rarely  exhibited.  We  were  left  alone 
after  lunch  for  more  than  an  hour,  and  Grant  surprised  me  by 
his  free  and  excellent  conversational  powers  and  his 'intimate 
knowledge  of  all  the  political  movements  of  the  country.  If 
he  had  been  nominated  and  elected  to  a  third  term  in  1880  I 
believe  that  he  would  have  made  a  model  President.  He  had 
broadened  immensely  in  general  public  affairs,  national  and  in- 
ternational, and  by  his  journey  around  the  world  and  in  his 
more  intimate  acquaintance  with  the  business  interests  of  the 
people  of  our  great  country.  He  had  few  favorites  when  he  was 
President,  and,  while  he  probably  did  not  mean  it,  he  repelled 
all  who  were  not  within  the  favorite  circle.  They  seldom  saw 
him,  and  the  result  was  that  his  civil  reign  of  eight  years  was 
conducted  much  on  the  principle  of  general  army  orders. 

Grant  was  usually  very  reserved  in  conversation,  alike  on 
public  and  private  occasions,  and  he  never  made  those  about 
him  feel  the  superiority  of  his  position  and  power.  While  the 
greatest  of  our  Union  generals,  he  was  certainly  among  the 
most  modest.  His  war  bulletins  were  as  epigrammatic  as  Na- 
poleon's, and  some  of  them  are  quoted  by  most  of  the  school- 
boys of  this  age.  Among  the  most  memorable  were  his  demand 
for  the  surrender  of  Fort  Donelson,  saying:  "I  propose  to  move 
immediately  upon  your  works."  Another,  sent  from  the  terribly 
bloody  contest  of  the  Wilderness,  in  which  he  said:  "I  propose 
to  fight  it  out  on  this  line  if  it  takes  all  summer."  His  first  let- 
ter to  Lee  demanding  the  surrender  of  the  army  in  Northern 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  91 

Virginia  was  a  model  of  soldierly  modesty,  and  his  treatment 
of  Lee  when  they  finally  met  to  consummate  the  surrender 
plainly  exhibited  his  studied  purpose  to  make  no  needless  hu- 
miliation of  the  conquered  chieftain  of  the  Confederacy.  Lee 
came,  as  army  regulations  required  him,  clad  in  his  best  regi- 
mentals, with  a  beautiful  sword  at  his  side  that  could  have  been 
demanded  by  his  conqueror;  but  Grant  came  begrimed  with  the 
dust  of  a  long-continued  march,  and  without  his  sword.  This 
omission  in  itself  was  notice  to  Lee  that  his  sword  would  not  be 
demanded,  and  the  subject  was  not  referred  to. 

In  all  the  many  deliverances  of  Grant  in  the  army  and  in  civil 
life  there  is  not  a  single  sentence  to  be  found  that  is  needlessly 
assertive  of  his  high  position.  He  was  as  much  the  commander 
of  Sherman's  army  when  it  captured  Atlanta  as  Sampson  was 
commander  of  the  fleet  that  destroyed  the  Spanish  squadron  at 
Santiago.  He  had  the  power  to  halt  Sherman  at  any  place,  or 
to  give  him  any  orders,  and  was  just  as  much  present  at  the 
battle  which  won  Atlanta  as  Sampson  was  at  the  battle  which 
destroyed  the  Spanish  squadron.  He  personally  visited  Sheri- 
dan in  the  Shenandoah  Valley,  aided  in  planning  his  campaign, 
and  gave  him  orders ;  but  in  announcing  the  victories  at  Atlanta 
and  in  the  Valley  he  never  was  guilty  of  the  bombastic  false- 
hood of  declaring  that  "the  army  under  my  command"  has  de- 
feated the  enemy.  A  very  pointed  illustration  of  his  modesty 
was  given  soon  after  the  President  and  Secretary  of  War  re- 
jected the  terms  of  surrender  between  Sherman  and  Johnston, 
resulting  in  Grant  being  ordered  to  North  Carolina  to  take 
command  of  the  army.  His  presence  on  the  field  made  him 
commander  of  Sherman,  but  he  understood  the  situation,  ap- 
preciated Sherman's  soldierly  qualities,  and  simply  advised  him 
to  demand  and  receive  the  surrender  of  Johnston's  army  on  the 
same  terms  Grant  had  given  to  Lee  at  Appomattox.  This  was 
speedily  accomplished,  and  Grant's  dispatch  announcing  the 
surrender  advised  the  Government  in  his  modest  way  that  John- 
ston had  surrendered  his  army  to  General,  Sherman. 

Grant,  like  Lincoln,  has  grown  in  fame  and  in  the  affections 
of  the  country  and  the  world  since  his  death.  The  assassina- 
tion of  Lincoln,  which  was  the  most  terrible  shock  the  nation 
ever  felt,  and  the  lingering  malady  that  brought  Grant  to  the 
grave  with  unspeakable  suffering  called  out  the  sincerest  sym- 


92  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

pathy  of  all  classes  and  conditions,  and  effaced  the  last  linger- 
ing prejudices  of  personal  or  partisan  foes.  I  saw  this  point- 
edly illustrated  during  the  closing  week  of  the  Congress  of  1885. 
In  1883  Grant  had  suffered  a  fall,  receiving  an  injury  from  which 
he  never  recovered,  and  was  unable  to  walk  without  the  aid  of 
a  crutch,  and  in  May,  1884,  by  the  failure  of  the  banking  house 
of  Grant  &  Ward,  in  which  all  his  resources  were  invested,  he 
was  brought  to  hopeless  bankruptcy.  He  gave  to  Vanderbilt 
all  his  personal  possessions,  including  his  sword  and  other  gifts, 
as  security  for  a  loan  of  $150,000,  which  was  swallowed  up  in 
the  Grant  &  Ward  failure;  and  I  have  personal  knowledge  of 
the  fact  that  the  late  Anthony  J.  Drexel  advanced  him  at  the 
same  time  $75,000  for  which  he  asked  no  security,  as  he  made 
no  claim  against  Grant  and  left  no  record  of  any  indebtedness 
to  his  estate. 

One  of  the  most  pathetic  letters  I  have  ever  read  I  received 
from  General  Grant  some  weeks  after  his  financial  misfortunes 
had  befallen  him.  I  was  then  publishing  a  series  of  articles  from 
the  leading  officers  of  both  sides  relating  to  the  Civil  War,  and 
I  wrote  to  Grant  offering  him  $100  a  column  for  an  article  of 
five  columns,  giving  any  phase  of  the  war  he  chose  to  present. 
He  sent  me  in  reply  a  closely  written  letter  of  over  three  pages, 
written  by  his  own  hand,  in  which  he  spoke  most  gratefully  of 
the  offer  made  to  him,  and  also  gave  a  painful  portrayal  of  his 
embarrassed  condition.  He  was  compelled  to  decline  the  offer 
because  of  an  engagement  he  had  just  then  made  to  write  a 
series  of  articles  for  the  Century  Magazine.  In  the  latter  part 
of  1884  it  became  whispered  that  Grant  was  suffering  from  a 
serious  malady  that  was  not  defined  to  the  public.  The  fact  that 
he  had  a  malignant  and  incurable  cancer,  which  must  sooner 
or  later  terminate  his  life,  was  not  known  to  the  public  until 
about  the  middle  of  February,  1885,  and  the  first  authoritative 
announcement  was  given  through  Mr.  Childs.  He  had  been  to 
New  York  and  learned  the  precise  truth  as  to  Grant's  condition, 
and  on  his  return  he  sent  for  me  to  come  to  his  office.  He 
was  greatly  depressed  by  the  information  he  gave  me,  and  said 
that  something  must  be  done  to  make  Grant  feel  that  he  was 
not  forgotten  by  the  country,  whose  unity  he  had  preserved  as 
the  great  chieftain  of  the  Civil  War.  He  said  that  Grant  not 
only  needed  pecuniary  support,  as  he  was  entirely  without  means 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  93 

and  hopelessly  bankrupt,  but  that  in  his  condition  on  the  very 
verge  of  despair  he  would  be  strengthened  in  his  battle  for  pro- 
longed life  if  he  could  be  restored  to  the  army  with  the  rank  of 
General,  retired. 

The  Senate  was  Republican,  but  the  House  was  largely  Dem- 
ocratic, with  Carlisle  as  Speaker.  Randall  was  the  controlling 
leader  on  the  floor,  and  Childs  and  Drexel  were  Randall's  clos- 
est personal  and  political  friends.  They  had  never  allowed  Ran- 
dall to  expend  any  money  in  his  campaigns,  as  they  knew  he 
was  without  the  means  to  do  it.  I  had  also  very  intimate  per- 
sonal and  political  relations  with  Randall,  and  Childs  asked  me 
to  go  immediately  to  Washington,  with  a  letter  from  him  to 
Randall  expressing  the  views  of  both  himself  and  Drexel,  earn- 
estly urging  him  to  take  the  lead  in  passing  a  bill  to  restore 
Grant  to  his  old  rank  as  General,  retired,  which  would  give  him 
a  handsome  income  and  at  the  same  time  revive  his  greatly  de- 
pressed spirits.  I  hastened  to  Washington  and  presented  the 
letter  to  Randall.  Everything  depended  upon  the  attitude  he 
would  take.  Such  legislation  was  against  the  general  policy 
Randall  had  maintained  with  stubborn  consistency,  but  he  final- 
ly resolved  all  doubts  in  favor  of  the  earnest  appeal  made  by 
Childs  and  Drexel,  and  he  agreed  to  champion  the  measure. 

It  required  a  few  days  of  personal  intercourse  with  his  party 
friends  in  both  Senate  and  House  to  get  them  in  line,  and  there 
were  many  who  hesitated,  while  a  few  were  positively  hostile. 
There  were  only  a  few  days  in  which  to  pass  the  measure,  and  it 
was  not  finally  passed  until  near  noon  on  the  4th  of  March,  just 
when  Congress  was  about  to  adjourn  sine  die.  President  Arthur 
was  in  the  Vice-President's  room  in  the  Capitol,  for  the  pur- 
pose of  signing  bills  which  required  his  approval  before  the  ad- 
journment. The  bill  authorizing  the  appointment  of  Grant  to 
the  position  of  General,  retired,  was  not  finallfy  passed  and 
transcribed  until  the  clock  had  once  or  more  been  turned  back- 
ward to  prevent  the  close  of  the  Congress.  It  was  hurried  to 
President  Arthur,  who  immediately  signed  it,  and  at  once  picked 
up  a  plain  sheet  of  paper,  wrote  out  the  nomination  of  Grant 
to  the  rank  of  General,  retired,  and  hurried  it  back  to  the  Sen- 
ate, where  it  was  unanimously  confirmed,  and  was  one  of  the 
last  acts  of  that  Congress.  I  have  several  times  heard  Mr. 
Childs  speak  of  the  great  ray  of  sunshine  that  this  action  of  the 


94  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

Government  brought  to  the  sorrow-shadowed  home  of  Grant. 
He  said  that  with  all  of  Grant's  great  achievements  in  politics 
or  war,  none  received  such  intensely  grateful1  welcome  in  the 
home  of  the  Great  Captain  of  the  war. 

In  the  small  circle  of  Grant's  very  intimate  friends  George  W. 
Childs  was  doubtless  closer  to  Grant  than  any  others.  Ke  had 
no  political  purposes  to  advance,  and  he  was  tireless  in  his  un- 
selfish efforts  to  serve  his  beloved  chief.  Childs  told  me  on  one 
occasion  that  Grant  was  one  of  the  broadest-gauged  and  most 
liberal  of  men,  and  that  only  on  one  point  was  he  unwilling  to 
take  advice.  He  believed  himself  to  be  a  perfect  judge  of  a  good 
horse,  and,  as  Childs  presented  it,  he  could  with  safety  criticise, 
in  Grant's  presence,  any  great  campaign  he  ever  planned  or  any 
great  battle  he  ever  fought,  but  to  question  his  judgment  as  to  a 
horse  was  the  one  thing  that  he  did  not  tolerate.  Childs  hap- 
pened once  to  remark  in  Grant's  presence  that  he  was  looking 
for  a  fine  pair  of  horses  for  family  use.  Grant  at  once  said: 
"Don't  worry  about  it;  I  will  select  one  and  send  it  to  you."  A 
short  time  thereafter  Childs  received  a  pair  of  fine-looking 
horses,  with  a  bill  for  $1700,  which  he  promptly  paid,  and  after 
giving  the  horses  a  fair  trial  he  quietly  sold  them  for  one-tenth 
the  price  he  had  paid  for  them,  but  never  discussed  the  subject 
with  Grant. 

I  was  a  guest  at  a  dinner  given  by  Childs  to  John  Walter,  of 
the  London  Times.  It  was  after  Grant  had  retired  from  the 
Presidency  and  was  enjoying  excellent  health.  Walter  was 
amazed  beyond  expression  to  find  Grant  one  of  the  guests  of 
honor  and  by  his  side  General  Joseph  E.  Johnston,  the  ablest  of 
the  Confederate  commanders  next  to  Lee.  It  was  a  revelation 
to  the  great  English  journalist  that  these  opposing  chieftains, 
whose  swords  had  been  sheathed  and  their  banners  furled  only  a 
few  years  before,  were  welcome  guests  side  by  side,  at  a  hos- 
pitable board  in  the  North.  A  few  years  later,  on  the  i6th  of 
June,  1885,  a  little  more  than  three  months  after  Grant  had  been 
restored  to  his  rank  in  the  army  by  Congress,  his  painful  suffer- 
ings, which  had  been  borne  with  heroic  patience,  were  ended, 
and  the  country  and  the  world  mingled  with  their  sincere  sor- 
row for  the  death  of  the  Great  Captain  the  grateful  reflection  that 
two  of  the  most  heroic  of  the  Confederate  soldiers  were  side  by 
side  with  Union  heroes  as  pall-bearers  at  his  grave. 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  95 

Although  President  Grant  was  a  graduate  of  West  Point  and 
had  served  with  distinction  in  the  Mexican  War  along  with  Lee, 
McClellan  and  others,  he  was  time  and  again  repelled  in  his 
efforts  to  re-enter  the  army  in  1861  when  the  Civil  War  began. 
He  had  resigned  from  the  army  soon  after  the  Mexican  War  and 
made  a  dismal  failure  as  manager  of  a  farm  and  as  a  real  estate 
agent  in  St.  Louis,  after  which  he  moved  to  Galena,  where  his 
father  and  brother  were  engaged  in  a  large  tannery  enterprise. 
He  was  in  their  employ  in  1861  at  the  modest  salary  of  $800  a 
year.  When  Sumter  was  fired  upon  he  appeared  at  a  public 
meeting  and  was  one  of  the  first  to  volunteer,  and  his  company 
was  one  of  the  earliest  to  arrive  at  Springfield,  the  capital  of  the 
State.  He  was  accompanied  by  the  Congressman  from  his  city, 
Elihu  B.  Washburn,  who  presented  him  to  Governor  Yates  and 
urged  his  appointment  to  the  command  of  a  regiment,  con- 
fidently expecting  that  it  would  be  promptly  granted.  I  have 
heard  the  story  from  both  Washburn  and  Yates,  and  Yates 
regarded  as  one  of  the  best  reminiscences  of  his  public  career 
the  story  of  how  he  treated  Grant  when  he  came  to  ask  for  a 
command  in  the  volunteer  army.  He  refused  Grant  a  command, 
but  as  Grant  had  a  knowledge  of  military  organization  he  gave 
him  employment  for  a  time  in  the  Executive  Office  to  aid  in  the 
organization  of  the  troops,  and  when  that  was  ended  Grant 
quietly  packed  his  grip  and  went  home  to  Galena,  while  a  lot  of 
green  colonels  went  into  the  field. 

He  had  served  with  McClellan  in  Mexico,  and  he  next  made 
a  journey  to  Cincinnati  to  offer  his  services  on  the  staff  of  Mc- 
Clelian,  who  had  just  been  made  a  major-general  and  assigned 
to  the  command  of  the  movement  against  the  South  in  Western 
Virginia.  He  twice  called  at  McClellan's  headquarters,  and  left 
his  card,  but  did  jiot  succeed  in  obtaining  an  audience.  Again 
he  gave  up  in  despair  and  returned  to  Galena,  but  soon  there- 
after Governor  Yates  found  himself  beset  by  a  new  regiment 
largely  composed  of  "toughs,"  who  were  entirely  unmanageable, 
and  he  telegraphed  Grant  asking  him  to  take  command  of  the 
regiment.  The  invitation  was  gratefully  accepted,  and  when 
Grant  met  his  roystering  soldiers  he  soon  found  that  only  by 
heroic  measures  could  he  make  them  understand  military  regu- 
lations. He  did  not  attempt  suddenly  and  arbitrarily  to  enforce 
discipline,  but  in  a  short  time  the  regiment  was  ordered  to  Cairo 


96  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

and  Grant  was  advised  to  make  requisition  for  transportation. 
His  answer  was:  "I  don't  want  transportation;  the  regiment  will 
march  to  Cairo."  He  marched  his  boys  for  some  days,  keeping 
them  steadily  on  the  go,  and  by  the  time  he  got  them  into  camp 
at  Cairo  he  had  them  prepared  to  accept  military  regulations. 
He  soon  left  his  regiment  by  promotion,  but  it  proved  to  be  one 
of  the  best  fighting  organizations  of  his  command. 

Grant  was  a  good  hater,  although  in  the  later  years  of  his  life 
his  hatreds  were  greatly  mellowed,  as  is  shown  by  his  kind  refer- 
ences to  those  against  whom  he  had  cherished  some  enmity, 
given  in  his  Recollections,  most  of  which  were  written  while  suf- 
fering great  agony  from  the  fatal  malady  that  had  then  seized 
him.  He  seldom  smiled,  and  I  never  heard  him  indulge  in  a 
hearty  laugh,  but  he  had  a  very  keen  sense  of  the  ludicrous,  and 
often  gave  some  of  the  most  terse  and  pungent  expressions 
mingled  with  the  most  polished  wit.  He  did  not  love  Sumner 
for  the  reason  that  Sumner  seldom  harmonized  with  any  man 
holding  higher  position  than  himself,  and  on  one  occasion,  as  I 
heard  from  one  of  the  party  present,  when  Sumner  was  dis- 
cussed by  some  of  the  President's  friends,  and  one  remarked 
that  Sumner  did  not  believe  in  the  Bible,  Grant's  response  was : 
"No,  he  didn't  write  it."  He  had  great  faith  in  his  star,  and 
with  all  the  appalling  upheaval  of  the  Liberals  in  the  opening 
of  the  campaign  of  1872,  when  it  looked  as  if  the  country  would 
be  swept  like  a  tempest  against  the  Administration,  Grant  had 
abiding  faith  in  his  triumph.  The  Cincinnati  convention  that 
nominated  Greeley  was  a  very  imposing  and  exceptionally  able 
national  body,  and  Grant's  friends  who  witnessed  it  were  very 
much  alarmed  at  the  Republican  revolt,  and  they  bore  doleful 
tales  of  the  situation  to  Grant  at  Washington.  After  listening  in 
his  imperturbable  way  to  the  statements  of  his  somewhat  demor- 
alized friends,  who  had  told  him  of  the  immense  gathering  at  Cin- 
cinnati, his  quiet  answer  was:  "Yes,  they  were  all  there."  My 
estimate  of  Grant  is,  that,  great  as  he  was,  he  never  reached  any- 
thing like  the  full  stature  of  his  greatness  until  after  he  retired 
from  the  Presidency,  when  he  learned  much  that  he  should  have 
learned  before. 

President  Grant  had  a  lovely  helpmate  in  his  wife.  She  entered 
the  White  House  an  unusually  sweet,  unaffected,  capable  woman, 
and  was  as  unobtrusive  and  unpretentious  as  her  distinguished 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  97 

husband.  Her  social  rule  as  the  first  lady  of  the  land  was 
marked  by  generous  and  unpretentious  hospitality,  and  she  was 
universally  beloved  by  all  who  came  in  contact  with  her.  She 
always  spoke  of  the  General  or  the  President  as  "Mr.  Grant," 
and  only  on  one  occasion  did  I  ever  hear  her  refer  to  any  of  the 
particular  attributes  of  her  husband.  At  an  informal  social 
circle  when  Grant  was  hammering  the  way  before  Richmond  the 
question  of  the  capture  of  the  Confederate  capital  was  introduced 
by  some  of  Mrs.  Grant's  company,  and  she  was  naturally  asked 
what  she  thought  of  the  situation.  Her  answer  was  substantially 
as  follows:  "Mr.  Grant  started  out  to  capture  Richmond,  and 
he  is  a  very  obstinate  man  when  he  undertakes  anything."  Mrs. 
Grant  is  still  living,  and  one  of  two  widows  of  ex-Presidents  who 
receive  an  annuity  of  $5,000  from  the  Government.  She  com- 
mands the  homage  of  the  American  people  wherever  she  goes, 
and  one  of  the  most  beautiful  illustrations  of  her  appreciation  of 
the  magnanimity  of  her  great  husband  was  recently  shown  when 
the  wife  of  the  great  Union  general  of  the  war  and  President  of 
the  country  met  in  the  kindliest  social  intercourse  the  widow  of 
the  late  President  of  the  Confederacy. 


HAYES'  ELECTION  AND  ADMINIS- 
TRATION. 

The  personal  attributes  and  the  administration  of  Rutherford 
B.  Hayes  as  President  of  the  United  States  will  perplex  the 
future  historians  of  the  country  for  all  time.  I  knew  him  well 
before  he  was  called  to  the  Presidency  by  the  Electoral  Commis- 
sion in  1877,  and  few  men  who  have  attained  public  distinction 
were  more  generally  respected  for  integrity  of  purpose  and 
strength  of  character.  He  had  made  an  excellent  record  during 
the  war,  and,  like  Harrison,  who  was  equally  modest  in  the  em- 
ployment of  methods  for  self-advancement,  he  was  much  better 
fitted  to  command  a  division  or  a  corps  than  a  number  of  those 
who  climbed  to  such  positions  in  the  army.  He  started  his  mil- 
itary career  as  Major  of  the  Twenty-third  Ohio  Regiment,  and 
served  creditably  until  the  close  of  the  war,  retiring  with  the 
brevet  of  Major  General  for  special  gallantry. 

Hayes  was  first  nominated  for  Congress  in  1864,  when  in  the 
field  in  command  of  his  brigade,  or  division,  but  refused  to 
leave  the  army  to  conduct  his  own  campaign,  and  he  was 
elected  and  also  re-elected  in  1866.  He  was  twice  elected  Gov- 
ernor of  Ohio,  defeating  the  two  ablest  Democratic  leaders  of 
the  State,  viz.:  Allen  G.  Thurman  and  George  H.  Pendleton. 
During  his  service  in  Congress  and  as  Governor  the  cheap 
money  question  became  very  formidable  in  shape  of  the  issue  of 
paying  all  public  and  private  obligations  in  greenbacks,  but 
Hayes  always  stood  resolutely  in  favor  of  an  honest  financial 
system.  At  the  close  of  his  term,  in  1873,  at  a  very  quiet  off- 
year  election,  the  Democrats  elected  William  Allen  Governor 
by  about  a  thousand  majority  over  General  Noyce.  Allen  led 
the  greenback  movement  with  great  ability,  and  in  1875  it  was 
deemed  doubtful  whether  he  could  be  defeated  in  his  contest  for 
re-election.  The  Republicans  were  compelled  to  turn  to  their 
strongest  man,  and  Governor  Hayes  seems  to  have  been  univer- 
(98) 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  99 

sally  accepted  as  the  man  who  would  command  the  largest  vote. 
He  was  nominated  against  his  earnest  wishes,  and  after  one  of 
the  most  desperate  campaigns  ever  made  in  Ohio  he  was  elected 
Governor  for  the  third  term,  defeating  the  great  greenback 
leader  by  a  majority  of  5500. 

Mr.  Hayes  was  not  in  any  sense  a  political  manager.  In  1876 
the  Republican  State  convention  unanimously  presented  him  as 
a  candidate  for  President.  It  was  not  believed  at  the  time  that 
Ohio  could  obtain  the  Presidential  candidate,  or  Senator  Sher- 
man would  doubtless  have  been  presented.  The  field  was  well 
filled  with  such  Presidential  gladiators  as  Conkling,  Elaine  and 
Morton,  but  the  fight  became  so  embittered  that  the  convention 
finally  took  a  stampede  to  Hayes  as  a  dark  horse  and  made  him 
the  Republican  nominee.  The  campaign  of  1876  was  not  made 
specially  memorable  until  after  the  election.  Tilden,  the  Demo- 
cratic candidate,  received  a  popular  majority  of  250,000,  and  by 
the  vote  as  cast  in  the  States  of  South  Carolina,  Florida  and 
Louisiana  he  had  a  decided  majority  of  the  electoral  vote,  but 
the  returning  boards  of  those  States  gave  certificates  of  election 
to  the  Republican  electors,  which  gave  Hayes  one  majority  over 
Tilden  in  the  electoral  college. 

The  battle  for  the  disputed  electors  in  South  Carolina,  Florida 
and  Louisiana  and  also  for  one  elector  in  Oregon  aroused  the 
whole  country  to  an  unusual  degree  of  aggressive  interest. 
Leading  men  of  both  parties,  including  Senator  Sherman,  of 
Ohio,  Governor  Curtin  of  Pennsylvania  and  others,  appeared 
before  the  returning  boards  of  the  disputed  Southern  States 
and  waged  most  earnest  contests  for  the  success  of  their  respec- 
tive parties.  When  the  returns  were  finally  declared  in  favor  of 
Hayes  the  Democrats  were  inflamed  to  the  verge  of  revolution- 
ary action,  and  the  great  Republic  was  threatened  with  anarchy 
in  the  very  citadel  of  its  authority.  It  was  finally  conceded  that 
revolutionary  measures  in  some  form  would  be  met  at  the  in- 
auguration of  the  President,  and  the  more  considerate  leaders  of 
both  parties  took  pause  to  inquire  how  such  a  conflict  could  be 
averted.  This  resulted  in  the  enactment  of  a  law  by  Congress 
providing  for  an  Electoral  Commission,  which  as  finally  con- 
stituted contained  eight  Republicans  and  seven  Democrats.  Al- 
though it  was  made  up  of  members  of  the  Supreme  Court,  grave 
Senators  and  Representatives  of  national  character,  on  every 


100  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

vital  test  there  was  a  strict  party  division,  and  Hayes  was  de- 
clared elected  by  one  majority. 

The  Democrats  were  united  in  the  belief  that  Tilden  had  been 
honestly  elected  President  of  the  United  States,  and  many  of  the 
more  intelligent  and  influential  Republicans  believe  that  Tilden 
was  entitled  to  the  office.  Among  these  was  Senator  Conkling, 
who  did  not  appear  in  the  Senate,  although  in  Washington  and 
in  excellent  health,  when  the  final  vote  was  taken  to  decide  the 
dispute  in  Louisiana. 

Such  were  the  conditions  under  which  Mr.  Hayes  reached  the 
Presidency.  He  knew  that  his  integrity  was  distrusted  not  only 
by  the  entire  opposing  party,  but  by  many  of  his  own  party 
friends,  because  he  accepted  a  position  to  which  they  believed 
he  had  not  been  elected.  His  position  may  be  regarded  as  fairly 
expressed  in  a  letter  he  addressed  to  Senator  Sherman  at  New 
Orleans,  who  was  there  at  the  time  to  procure  from  the  return- 
ing board  a  certificate  of  election  for  the  Hayes  electors.  In  that 
letter  he  said:  "A  fair  election  would  have  given  us  about  forty 
electoral  votes  in  the  South;  at  least  that  many;  but  we  are  not 
to  allow  our  friends  to  defeat  one  outrage  and  fraud  by  another. 
There  must  be  nothing  crooked  on  our  part.  Let  Mr.  Tilden 
have  the  place  by  violence,  intimidation  and  fraud,  rather  than 
undertake  to  prevent  it  by  means  that  will  not  bear  th'e  severest 
scrutiny." 

Mr.  Hayes  was  an  earnest  and  thorough  partisan,  and  I  think 
it  due  to  his  memory  to  say  that  he  believed  that  some  of  the 
Southern  States  were  controlled  by  the  Democrats  by  intimidat- 
ing and  defrauding  the  negro  vote;  but  if  he  had  been  in  a  posi- 
tion to  look  the  issue  squarely  in  the  face  from  an  intelligent  and 
entirely  impartial  standpoint  he  could  hardly  have  failed  to  con- 
fess that  when  the  Republican  Governor  of  Louisiana  had  ap- 
pointed the  officials  to  register  the  vote  of  the  State,  with  the 
power  to  determine  who  should  and  who  should  not  vote,  and 
when  the  same  authority  controlled  the  election  boards  in  every 
parish  and  yet  failed  to  win  a  majority  for  the  party,  after  having 
decided  who  should  vote  and  who  should  count  the  returns, 
there  could  be  little  ground  of  complaint  against  the  vote  and 
original  returns  thus  made  by  the  Republicans. 

There  were  grave  apprehensions  that  the  inauguration  of 
Hayes  might  be  violently  interfered  with  by  assassination  or  dis- 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  IOI 

turbance  of  some  kind.  Indeed,  I  believe  that  there  was  more 
apprehension  felt  for  the  safety  of  Hayes  when  he  was  inaugu- 
rated in  1877  than  there  was  for  President  Lincoln  on  the  4th  of 
March,  1861.  Violent  threats  had  been  made  by  impassioned 
Democrats  that  the  fraud  should  not  be  permitted  to  reach  its 
consummation,  and  every  possible  precaution  was  taken  to  pro- 
tect Hayes  on  his  entire  journey  from  Ohio  to  Washington,  and 
at  every  stage  of  the  inauguration  proceedings.  If  any  viol'ent 
purposes  had  been  cherished,  their  execution  was  prevented  by 
the  complete  preparations  for  the  protection  of  the  new  Presi- 
dent, and  Hayes  was  safely  conducted  into  the  White  House  as 
President  of  the  United  States,  with  all  the  power  of  the  govern- 
ment, including  army  and  navy,  subject  to  his  orders,  and  ready 
to  maintain  the  majesty  of  the  law  that  had  given  him  his  high 
office. 

It  was  an  open  secret  that  soon  after  the  election  of  1876, 
when  it  was  definitely  decided  to  have  South  Carolina,  Florida 
and  Louisiana  counted  for  Hayes,  the  Democratic  revolutionary 
sentiment  of  those  States  was  tempered  to  passive  submission 
by  the  distinct  promise  made  to  Democratic  leaders  of  those 
States  in  the  name  of  Hayes,  through  his  most  trusted  friends, 
that  if  they  submitted  peaceably  to  the  election  of  Hayes  by  the 
electoral  votes  of  those  States  they  would  be  given  the  control 
of  their  respective  States  by  recognition  of  the  Democratic 
Governors  and  Legislatures  which  had  been  elected  along  with 
Tilden.  Few  at  the  present  time  can  appreciate  the  importance 
to  the  property  interests  of  the  Southern  States  to  get  control 
of  their  State  governments  and  Legislatures ;  and  when  it  became 
understood,  although  always  spoken  of  in  bated  breath,  that 
Hayes  would  give  the  Democrats  their  Governors  and  Legisla- 
tures in  South  Carolina,  Florida  and  Louisiana,  it  promised  so 
much  to  the  people  of  property  throughout  the  entire  South  that 
they  were  ready  to.  yield  at  least  sullen  if  not  willing  submission 
to  the  declared  election  and  inauguration  of  Hayes.  But  for  this 
silver  lining  to  the  political  cl'oud  in  the  South,  Hayes  would 
have  had  a  term  of  turbulence,  with  a  strong  tendency  to 
anarchy  in  many  portions  of  the  South. 

Believing  that  any  lawfully  declared  elected  President  was  bet- 
ter than  revolution,  I  earnestly  advocated  the  passage  of  the 
Electoral  Commission  bill,  and  when  its  final  judgment  was 


102  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

given  I  advocated  submission  to  the  decision,  as  Hayes  held  his 
commission  with  all  the  ceremony  of  law,  and  under  an  act  of 
Congress  that  had  been  warmly  supported  by  the  leaders  of  both 
parties.  I  was  soon  brought  into  rather  intimate  relations  with 
the  new  President  and  had  many  conferences  with  him  at  the 
White  House  during  the  slow  progress  in  the  accomplishment 
of  the  revolution  in  the  South.  In  the  first  conversation  I  had 
with  him,  after  his  inauguration,  he  frankly  stated  his  purpose  to 
bring  about  the  acceptance  of  the  Democratic  Governors  and 
legislators  in  Florida  and  Louisiana,  and  he  tirelessly  labored  to 
accomplish  that  result.  He  was  then  in  confidential  communi- 
cation with  such  men  as  Senator-elect  Butler,  of  South  Carolina, 
who  is  yet  living,  and  who  was  a  claimant  for  a  seat  in  the  Sen- 
ate, having  been  elected  by  the  Hampton  Legislature,  while  the 
Chamberlin,  or  Republican,  Legislature  had  elected  another. 

In  bringing  about  the  recognition  of  the  Democratic  Gover- 
nors and  Legislatures  in  the  disputed  States  no  violent  measures 
could  be  taken,  as  Hayes  was  in  the  exceedingly  embarrassing 
position  of  holding  the  Presidency  by  the  same  vote  in  those 
States  that  had  elected  the  Republican  candidates  for  Governor, 
according  to  the  returning  board's  report,  and  it  was  certainly  a 
very  delicate  task  for  him,  holding  the  Presidency  by  the  same 
vote  that  they  held  their  Governorships,  to  ask  them  to  retire 
and  permit  the  recognition  of  the  Democratic  Governors  and 
legislators,  which  certainly  seemed  to  be  a  confession  that  Til- 
den  was  elected  President.  Hayes  was  much  distressed  by  the 
embarrassments  which  confronted  him.  The  Republican  Gover- 
nors, of  course,  refused  to  yield,  and  I  heard  him  discuss  the 
situation  on  several  occasions.  On  one  point  he  did  not  hesitate 
to  express  himself  frankly  and  positively,  and  that  was  that  the 
plighted  faith  made  by  his  friends  to  the  Southern  States  must 
be  maintained,  and  he  believed  that  the  acceptance  of  these  gov- 
ernments would  be  the  beginning  of  much  better  political  and 
industrial  conditions  throughout  the  South. 

I  had  abundant  opportunity  in  conferences  with  the  President 
to  estimate  him  correctly.  He  was  incapable  of  dissembling, 
and  certainly  meant  in  all  things  to  be  entirely  honest  and  faith- 
ful in  the  discharge  of  his  duties.  He  held  that  his  commission 
as  President  was  given  by  the  Electoral  Commission,  an  entirely 
lawful  tribunal  from  which  there  was  no  appeal,  and  that  therein 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  103 

his  position  differed  from  that  of  the  several  Governors  in  the 
disputed  States.  However  his  judgment  may  have  been  in- 
fluenced by  personal  interests  and  personal  conditions,  no  man 
could  have  conversed  freely  with  Hayes  on  this  vexed  problem 
without  regarding  him  as  a  sincerely  conscientious  man.  He 
was  an  earnest  and  apparently  consistent  but  unostentatious 
religionist,  and  had  been  so  most  of  his  life.  He  brought  from 
his  village  home  in  Ohio  the  same  simple  religious  ceremonies 
and  erected  their  altar  in  the  White  House.  His  Sundays  were 
devoted  to  religious  services,  in  which  he  was  heartily  joined  by 
his  wife,  and  it  was  not  uncommon  for  those  who  were  interested 
in  church  music  to  drop  in  at  the  White  House  on  Sunday  even- 
ing to  hear,  or  join  in,  the  singing  of  hymns. 

Hayes  certainly  believed  that  in  accepting  the  Presidency  as 
he  did  he  accepted  an  entirely  lawful1  duty,  and  he  certahily  aimed 
to  discharge  it  with  absolute  integrity.  He  was  not  a  genial 
man,  never  was  known  to  perpetrate  a  joke,  and  while  not  as 
severely  dignified  as  Buchanan  or  Fillmore,  he  was  generally 
reserved  in  conversation,  although  always  courteous  and  scru- 
pulously maintained  the  dignity  of  his  position.  He  was  a  sin- 
cere civil  service  reformer,  and  exhibited  his  fidelity  to  his  civil 
service  faith  by  the  removal  of  Chester  A.  Arthur,  who  afterward 
became  President,  from  the  Collectorship  of  New  York,  and  A. 
B.  Cornell,  who  afterwards  became  Governor,  from  the  Naval 
Office,  because  under  their  direction  the  Custom  House  "has 
been  used  to  manage  and  control  political  affairs."  A  desperate 
battle  was  made  against  the  confirmation  of  the  new  appointees 
with  Conkling  in  the  lead,  but  they  were  finally  confirmed. 

There  was  no  very  serious  difficulty  about  the  recognition  of 
the  Hampton  State  government  in  South  Carolina,  as  the  mainte- 
nance of  the  Chamberlin  government  depended  wholly  upon 
United  States  troops  for  protection,  and  that  issue  was  settled 
when  the  proper  time  came  for  consummating  the  agreement  by 
the  quiet  withdrawal  of  the  troops  from  Columbia.  Governor 
Chamberlin,  the  Republican  claimant,  at  once  gave  up  his  office 
and  permitted  Hampton,  the  Democratic  Governor,  to  take  pos- 
session, which  speedily  scattered  the  carpet-bag  legislators,  and 
gave  the  Democrats  control  of  the  State  government.  This  was 
followed  by  the  admission  of  Butler  to  the  Senate,  and  it  was 


104  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

decided  by  the  vote  of  Senator  J.  D.  Cameron.  Little  difficulty 
was  experienced  in  giving  the  Democrats  possession  of  Florida, 
as  the  Republican  claimants  were  steadily  weakening  under  the 
impression  that  they  were  iinally  to  be  overthrown.  When  the 
asperities  of  the  conflict  had  been  sufficiently  tempered  to  war- 
rant definite  action  the  President  recognized  the  Democratic 
Governor  of  Florida,  on  the  ground  that  he  had  been  declared  as 
elected  by  the  decision  of  the  Supreme  Court.  Louisiana  was 
the  most  disturbing  of  all  the  disputed  States.  Packard,  the  Re- 
publican Governor,  was  the  man  who  had  controlled  the  return- 
ing board  to  declare  himself  and  Hayes  elected  and  he  was  per- 
sistent in  his  right  to  retain  his  office  as  long  as  Hayes  retained 
the  Presidency.  He  was  implacable,  and  the  President  finally 
decided  to  send  a  special  commission  to  that  State,  composed  of 
able  and  conservative  Republicans,  to  devise  some  method,  after 
consultation  with  all  parties,  by  which  the  Nichols  Governor  and 
Legislature  could  be  recognized.  That  commission  consisted  of 
present  Senator  Hawley,  of  Connecticut;  present  Justice  Harlan, 
of  Kentucky;  Wayne  MacVeagh,  of  Pennsylvania;  Charles  V. 
Lawrence,  of  Illinois,  and  John  C.  Brown,  of  Tennessee.  They 
proceeded  to  New  Orleans,  and  were  unable  to  accomplish  any- 
thing beyond  conveying  to  the  Republicans  the  fact  that  the 
ultimate  recognition  of  the  Democratic  Governor  and  Legis- 
lature was  a  necessity,  and  would  be  accomplished.  This  resulted 
in  a  compact,  with  which  the  commission  had  nothing  to  do 
whatever,  and  of  which  it  had  no  knowledge,  by  which  the 
Louisiana  Lottery  Company  agreed  to  furnish  whatever  money 
was  necessary  to  persuade  enough  of  the  Packard  Senators  and 
Representatives  to  join  the  Nichols  Legislature  to  give  it  a  ma- 
jority of  admittedly  elected  members  in  both  branches.  The  con- 
sideration for  the  Louisiana  Lottery  Company  was  the  granting 
of  a  charter  in  the  constitution  for  a  period  of  years.  In  a  short 
time,  under  this  commercial  arrangement,  Nichols  had  an  un- 
disputed Legislature,  the  Packard  Legislature  perished,  and  the 
Louisiana  Lottery  Company  received  its  charter  when  the  new 
constitution  was  framed. 

This  completed  the  fulfilment  of  the  Hayes  obligation  to  give 
the  Democrats  of  those  States  their  own  government,  and  it 
was  the  beginning  of  the  end  of  carpet-bag  rule  in  the  South.  I 
saw  the  President  soon  after  the  Louisiana  difficulty  had  been 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  105 

finally  settled,  and  he  felt  that  a  great  load  had  been  taken  from 
his  shoulders  when  his  faith  with  the  South  had  been  fulfilled, 
and  he  confidently  expected  to  have  a  peaceful  and  successful 
administration  of  the  government.  He  would  have  been  glad  to 
accomplish  his  re-election,  but  he  was  one  of  the  few  of  our 
Presidents  who  was  practically  without  political  following  or 
force  in  the  national  convention  of  his  party  at  the  close  of  his 
term.  When  he  retired  from  the  Presidency  he  returned  to  his 
quiet  village  home  at  Fremont,  Ohio,  and  there  devoted  himself 
to  rural  pursuits  until  1893,  when  on  the  I7th  of  January  he  died 
after  a  brief  illness. 

Mrs.  Lucy  W.  Hayes  was  an  accomplished  and  severely  re- 
ligious woman.  She  was  the  first  of  the  ladies  of  the  White 
House  to  banish  every  form  of  wine  from  State  ceremonies,  and 
that  considerably  narrowed  her  social  circle,  and  during  her 
period  as  first  lady  of  the  nation  the  social  ceremonies  of  the 
President's  House  were  limited  by  the  restraining  influences  of 
her  methods.  She  was  a  very  estimable  lady,  distinguished  for 
her  service  in  the  hospitals  during  the  war,  and  was  highly  es- 
teemed by  those  who  were  brought  into  intimate  relations  with 
her.  She  was  honored  on  retiring  from  the  White  House  by  a 
handsome  testimonial  from  the  Prohibition  organizations  of  the 
country,  including  the  presentation  of  her  painted  portrait  to  be 
added  to  the  gallery  of  the  White  House.  She  survived  her  re- 
tirement from  the  White  House  seven  years,  and  died  at  her 
home  in  Ohio  on  the  25th  of  June,  1889, 


GARFIELD  AND  HIS  BRIEF  ADMIN- 
ISTRATION. 

James  Abram  Garfield,  who  was  elected  President  in  1880 
over  General  Hancock,  his  Democratic  competitor,  was  one  of 
the  real  jolly  good  fellows  to  be  met  in  Washington  from  the 
time  that  he  entered  Congress  in  1863.  He  was  a  man  of  impos- 
ing presence  and  most  genial  manners,  and  one  of  the  most  ver- 
satile scholars  of  his  day.  He  was  eminent  as  preacher,  teacher, 
lawyer,  General  and  statesman,  and  a  very  fascinating  conversa- 
tionalist. When  he  was  the  Republican  leader  in  Congress  he 
was  justly  proud  of  the  distinction  he  had  achieved  without 
friends  or  fortuitous  circumstance.  He  had  a  hard  struggle  to 
obtain  a  collegiate  education.  His  father  had  settled  in  the  West- 
ern Reserve  of  Ohio  when  it  was  an  almost  unbroken  wilder- 
ness, but  died  young,  leaving  his  widow  with  four  small  children, 
the  youngest  of  whom  was  destined  to  be  President  of  the 
United  States;  and  their  only  fortune  was  a  rude  little  log  cabin 
and  a  few  acres  of  cleared  land. 

The  family  struggled  in  poverty,  but  the  mixture  of  Puritan 
and  Huguenot  blood  that  was  infused  into  the  children  made 
them  sturdy  helpmates  for  their  mother,  and  as  early  as  possible 
they  turned  their  attention  to  earning  a  little  money  in  every  way 
that  was  offered.  James  spent  one  summer  driving  mules  on  the 
towpath  for  a  boat  on  the  Ohio  Canal,  and  soon  thereafter  he 
became  a  proficient  carpenter.  He  worked  steadily  at  his  trade, 
studied  by  the  lamp  or  pine-knot  fire  at  night,  and  finally  was 
enabled  to  get  into  the  seminary  a  few  miles  from  his  home.  By 
tireless  industry  and  earning  his  own  way,  he  finally  graduated  at 
Williams  College  in  1856.  He  had  early  adopted  the  faith  of  the 
Campbellites,  known  as  the  "Disciples,"  a  church  without  an  or- 
dained ministry,  and  he  frequently  filled  the  pulpit  in  the 
religious  services  of  his  people.  After  he  graduated  he  became 
president  of  Hiram  College,  and  soon  became  known  as  one  of 
the  leading  teachers  and  scholars  of  the  country,  While  con- 
(106) 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  107 

ducting  his  college  he  studied  law,  but  by  reason  of  his  diversion 
to  military  and  political  channels  there  was  little  opportunity  for 
winning  distinction  at  the  Bar. 

Garfield  won  high  rank  as  a  political  disputant  in  the  cam- 
paign of  1856,  when  he  actively  supported  Fremont,  and  in  1859, 
without  seeking  the  position,  he  was  chosen  to  the  State  Senate. 
His  service  in  the  Legislature  was  brief,  as  early  in  1861  he 
volunteered  in  the  war,  and  was  made  lieutenant  colonel  of  the 
Forty-second  Regiment  of  Ohio  Volunteers,  many  of  whom 
were  his  old  pupils  of  Hiram  College.  When  he  entered  military 
life  he  gave  it  the  same  careful  study  as  was  his  habit  in  the  per- 
formance of  all  duties,  and  his  regiment  was  soon  regarded  as 
one  of  the  best  disciplined  in  the  volunteers  from  the  State.  He 
made  a  heroic  movement  against  General  Marshall,  of  Ken- 
tucky, in  the  early  part  of  1862,  and  was  promoted  to  Brigadier 
General  for  the  skill  and  valor  he  exhibited  at  Middle  Creek.  He 
later  became  chief  of  staff  to  General  Rosecrans,  and  was  pro- 
moted to  Major  General  for  gallantry  in  the  battle  of  Chicka- 
mauga.  He  had  been  chosen  to  Congress  in  the  fall  of  1862 
while  in  the  field,  and  he  resigned  his  commission  in  the  army 
just  in  time  to  meet  with  the  regular  session  of  Congress  on  the 
first  Monday  of  December,  1863.  From  that  time  he  served 
continuously  in  the  House  until  he  was  elected  President  in  1880. 

During  the  war  Garfield  rendered  great  service  in  the  Military 
Committee  of  the  House,  and  after  the  war  ended,  when  the 
Committee  of  Ways  and  Means  became  the  most  important  of 
all  committees,  he  was  transferred  to  that  committee;  and  when 
a  new  committee  on  banking  and  currency  was  created  he  was 
made  its  chairman.  He  was  an  earnest  and  generally  an  aggres- 
sive man,  but  as  a  leader  on  the  floor  he  lacked  the  sternly 
heroic  qualities  of  Stevens  and  the  brilliant  dash  of  Blaine.  With 
all  his  great  surroundings,  however,  he  stood  out  in  the  fore- 
front of  the  leaders  of  the  party  in  the  popular  branch  of  Con- 
gress. 

I  first  met  Garfield  soon  after  his  appearance  in  Congress  in  the 
fall  of  1863,  and  I  met  him  many  scores  of  times  during  the  war 
and  the  desperate  political  battles  over  reconstruction.  While  a 
preacher  of  his  faith,  and  with  mingled  Puritan  and  Huguenot 
blood,  he  had  none  of  the  severe  qualities  of  the  Puritan.  He 
was  always  a  genial,  delightful  companion,  and  I  gratefully 


I08  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

remember  my  many  pleasant  associations  with  him.  He  was 
unusually  frank  in  conversation,  and  a  very  intelligent  observer 
of  political  events.  He  was  ambitious,  as  all  men  are  and  as  all 
men  should  be  with  his  opportunities,  and  in  the  fall  of  1879, 
when  the  Legislature  was  to  be  chosen  to  elect  a  United  States 
Senator,  I  remember  a  very  interesting  and  impressive  conver- 
sation with  him  on  the  subject  of  entering  the  contest  for  the 
Senatorship.  Stevens  was  dead  and  Elaine  was  generally  ex- 
pected to  leave  the  House  for  the  Presidency,  thus  leaving  Gar- 
field  the  undisputed  leader  of  the  popular  branch  of  Congress — 
a  position  that  in  times  of  national  peril  is  the  highest  popular 
trust  of  the  nation.  Clay  won  greater  honors  as  commoner  dur- 
ing the  second  war  with  England  than  he  ever  achieved  in  any  of 
the  many  lustrous  records  of  his  life,  and  Stevens  stands  out  sin- 
gle and  alone  as  the  commoner  of  our  civil  war. 

Garfield  said  he  believed  that  the  Republicans  would  carry 
Ohio;  that  he  could  command  the  Senatorship  without  a  serious 
struggle,  and  the  result  proved  that  his  anticipations  were  en- 
tirely correct,  as  he  was  nominated  practically  without  opposi- 
tion and  elected  by  a  large  majority.  He  was  in  doubt  as,  to  the 
wisdom  of  making  the  change  from  the  popular  to  the  more 
select  branch  of  the  national  Legislature,  and  I  earnestly  urged 
him  to  remain  in  the  House,  where  his  leadership  was  now  fully 
assured,  while  in  the  Senate  he  would  be  only  one  of  many,  with 
all  his  ability  and  experience.  His  judgment  was  clearly  against 
the  change,  but  he  was  human,  and  the  opportunity  of  advance- 
ment was  a  temptation  too  great  to  resist.  He  would  have  been 
not  exactly  out  of  place  in  the  Senate,  but  the  different  atmos- 
phere and  methods  which  obtain  in  the  two  bodies  distinctly 
qualified  him  for  the  popular  branch  and  measurably  disqualified 
him  for  the  Senate.  He  was  a  popular  leader  in  the  House,  but 
when  the  Senatorship  came  to  him  as  it  did  he  accepted  it,  and 
he  is  the  only  man  in  the  history  of  the  Republic  who,  on  the 
same  day,  was  member  of  Congress,  Senator-elect  and  Presi- 
dent-elect. He  was  serving  in  Congress  in  1880,  had  been 
elected  to  the  Senate  in  January  of  that  year,  and  in  November 
was  chosen  President. 

The  most  memorable  political  spectacle  witnessed  since  the 
organization  of  our  Government  was  exhibited  at  the  Chicago 
convention  in  1880.  It  was  a  fight  of  giants  summoned  to  a 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  109 

battle  royal  between  Grant  and  Elaine,  and  I  met  Garfield  fre- 
quently during  the  protracted  sessions  of  that  convention.  His 
State  had  unanimously  declared  for  the  nomination  of  Sherman, 
and  Sherman  and  his  friends  made  an  exhaustive  struggle  to 
make  Sherman  the  compromise  candidate,  as  it  was  well  under- 
stood that  neither  Grant  nor  Elaine  commanded  the  full  majority 
of  the  body.  Garfield  was  placed  at  the  head  of  the  Sherman 
delegation,  and  made  the  speech  presenting  Sherman's  name  to 
the  body.  Conkling  had  just  delivered  his  great  speech  present- 
ing the  name  of  Grant,  and  when  Garfield  came  upon  the  plat- 
form to  nominate  Sherman  he  was  greeted  with  thunders  of  ap- 
plause that  lasted  many  minutes.  He  was  a  man  of  superb  pro- 
portions, as  eloquent  as  he  was  persuasive  as  an  orator,  but  his 
address  lacked  the  rugged  incisiveness  and  earnestness  that 
Conkling  had  exhibited  in  presenting  his  chief.  It  was  in  the  air 
that  a  compromise  candidate  must  be  chosen  in  the  end,  and 
Garfield  certainly  expected  that  the  choice  would  fall  upon  him. 
He  has  never  been  accused  of  conspiring  in  any  way  to  bring 
about  his  own  nomination,  but  his  speech  for  Sherman  was  a 
beautiful  and  most  impressive  plea  for  peace,  thus  presenting  a 
sublime  contrast  to  the  terribly  aggressive  eloquence  of  Conk- 
ling. 

The  battle  continued  through  many  days,  and  at  differ- 
ent sessions  of  the  convention  the  coming  of  Garfield  was 
always  looked  for  and  welcomed  by  the  cheers  of  the  ten 
thousand  people  who  filled  the  vast  auditorium.  I  saw  him 
enter  the  convention  at  every  session,  and  he  always  came  just 
before  the  session  opened,  when  the  house  was  filled  to  over- 
flowing, and  the  magnificent  stride  of  his  commanding  form, 
with  its  faultless  apparel,  always  called  out  the  wildest  applause 
from  the  vast  assembly.  Among  those  whose  judgment  could 
not  be  misled  by  personal  interest  there  was  the  general  im- 
pression that  Garfield  was  the  logical  candidate  upon  whom  the 
disputing  Grant  and  Elaine  gladiators  must  eventually  unite, 
and  Garfield  certainly  appreciated  the  situation  and  expected 
from  the  beginning  that  he  would  be  the  candidate.  When  the 
stampede  came  and  Garfield  was  nominated  there  was  a  rush 
from  the  hall  before  the  ballot  was  announced,  and  I  was  among 
the  jostling  newspaper  men  struggling  to  reach  the  telegraph 
office.  Garfield  had  slipped  out  of  the  hall  in  the  confusion,  and 


1 10  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

just  as  I  got  outside  of  the  door  I  saw  him  in  a  carriage,  his 
dark  felt  hat  pulled  down  over  his  eyes,  accompanied  by  Gov- 
ernor Foster,  of  Ohio,  who  was  hurrying  Garfield  away  from 
the  multitude. 

I  saw  Garfield  the  same  evening,  and  his  exultation  over  so 
grand  a  triumph  was  greatly  tempered  by  the  hostile  attitude 
assumed  by  Conkling,  the  leader  of  the  Grant  forces.  The 
Grant  line  had  not  broken,  and  it  was  the  friends  of  Elaine  who 
nominated  Garfield.  Conkling,  imperious  as  a  Roman  Em- 
peror, could  not  accommodate  himself  to  defeat,  and  when  I 
spoke  to  him  later  in  the  evening  about  the  political  situation, 
and  what  New  York  would  be  likely  to  do  as  to  the  Vice  Presi- 
dency, his  answer  was  quite  too  sulphurous  to  be  recorded  in 
the  public  press.  When  asked  by  the  friends  of  Garfield  to  name 
the  candidate  for  Vice  President,  Conkling  peremptorily  and 
contemptuously  refused  to  do  so,  and  when  some  of  the  more 
considerate  members  of  the  New  York  delegation  finally  de- 
cided to  present  the  name  of  Chester  A.  Arthur  for  the  second 
place  on  the  ticket  Conkling  gave  only  a  passive  assent,  and  did 
not  appear  at  the  head  of  his  delegation  in  the  convention  when 
the  vote  was  to  be  taken.  Arthur  was  in  the  delegation  with 
Conkling,  and  in  Conkling's  occasional  absence  during  the  pro- 
tracted sessions  acted  as  chairman,  and  the  uniform  courtesy  he 
exhibited  in  all  that  he  had  to  say  in  announcing  the  vote  or  in 
participating  in  the  other  proceedings  of  the  convention  was  in 
sharp  contrast  with  the  imperious  manner  of  Conkling,  and  won 
the  respect  of  all  the  delegates. 

Grant  was  at  his  home,  in  Galena,  during  the  sessions  of  the 
convention,  and  he  came  down  to  Chicago  the  morning  after  his 
defeat.  I  met  him  in  the  Palmer  House,  and,  while  it  was 
probably  the  greatest  disappointment  of  his  life,  not  a  shade 
of  disappointment  was  visible  in  the  man.  On  the  contrary,  I 
never  saw  him  more  genial  than  he  was  on  that  occasion,  but, 
while  he  maintained  his  imperturbable  spirit  to  the  world,  he 
shared  the  bitter  resentments  of  Conkling  over  his  sacrifice,  and 
it  was  there  determined  that  the  defeat  of  Garfield  was  a  political 
necessity.  This  attitude  was  maintained  by  Grant  and  Conkling 
and  their  immediate  followers  until  late  in  the  campaign.  Gar- 
field  came  on  to  New  York  to  establish  better  relations  between 
the  Grant  people  and  himself,  and,  although  Garfield  stopped  at 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  1 1 1 

the  same  house  where  Conkling  made  his  home,  Conkling  did 
not  call  upon  him  and  avoided  meeting  him.  At  that  stage  of 
the  campaign  there  did  not  seem  to  be  any  reasonable  hope  of 
the  election  of  Garfield,  and  had  the  election  been  held  any  time 
before  the  ist  of  September  Hancock  would  have  carried  New 
York  and  all  the  doubtful  States  by  large  majorities;  but  Gar- 
field  later  invited  Conkling  to  visit  him  in  Ohio,  and,  after  a 
very  full  consideration  of  the  subject  by  Conkling  with  Grant 
and  others,  he  decided  to  go,  and  that  visit  brought  about  har- 
mony between  the  opposition  elements  of  the  party. 

What  conditions  were  expressed  or  understood  at  that  con- 
ference the  wrorld  can  never  know,  but  Conkling  felt  that  he  had 
at  least  the  assurance  of  fair  play  in  wielding  the  power  of  the 
Administration.  So  much  harm  had  been  done  by  the  visible 
opposition  of  Conkling  and  Grant  to  Garfield  that  it  required 
extraordinary  efforts  for  them  to  recover  their  ground,  and 
Grant,  for  the  first  and  only  time  in  his  life,  took  the  stump  and 
made  several  short  but  earnest  speeches  in  favor  of  Garfield's 
election,  while  Conkling  threw  all  his  great  power  into  the  bat- 
tle, and  then  saved  New  York  only  by  the  treachery  of  Tam- 
many. 

Had  Tammany  Hall  given  an  honest  support  to  Hancock  he 
would  have  carried  the  Empire  State,  and  that  would  have  made 
him  President ;  but  Hancock  was  not  the  man  Tammany  wanted. 
They  could  deal  with  Conkling  when  mutual  interests  demanded 
it,  but  Hancock  was  a  thoroughly  honest,  straightforward, 
heroic  soldier  and  Tammany  justly  feared  him.  What  part 
Conkling  played  in  the  Tammany  defection  is  not  known,  but  it 
is  quite  probable  he  was  largely  responsible  for  it.  The  popular 
vote  between  Garfield  and  Hancock  was  the  closest  ever  cast  for 
President.  In  the  total  vote  of  nine  millions,  in  round  numbers, 
divided  between  Garfield  and  Hancock,  the  majority  was  less 
than  10,000.  Garfield's  election  was  not  questioned  in  any  way, 
and  the  4th  of  March  following,  when  he  was  inaugurated  Presi- 
dent, presented  the  most  imposing  pageant  ever  given  in  Wash- 
ington when  Hancock,  then  commander  of  the  army,  rode  in 
front  of  the  military  procession  that  conducted  Garfield  to  the 
Capitol  to  be  qualified  as  President,  and  thence  back  to  the 
White  House. 

Conkling  and  Elaine  had  quarreled  when  both  were  in  the 


112  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

House  some  years  before,  and  that  quarrel  continued  with  un- 
abated bitterness  until  the  death  of  Conkling.  Neither  ever  ad- 
dressed or  recognized  the  other,  and  even  when  they  were  serv- 
ing together  in  the  Senate  and  either  had  occasion  to  refer  to 
remarks  made  by  the  other,  instead  of  referring  to  the  ''gentle- 
man from  Maine,"  or  the  "gentleman  from  New  York,"  they 
would  say:  "It  has  been  stated  on  this  floor."  It  was  pitiable  to 
see  two  great  intellectual  giants  like  Elaine  and  Conkling  thus 
exhibiting  their  personal  enmities  even  on  public  occasions,  but 
Conkling  had  been  unhorsed  by  Elaine  when  both  were  young 
and  ambitious,  and  Elaine  had  done  it  with  the  dash  and  vehe- 
mence that  he  alone  could  give  to  popular  disputation.  While 
Elaine  would  gladly  have  made  friends  with  Conkling,  as  he  told 
me  many  times,  he  never  could  obtain  from  any  friends  of  Conk- 
ling the  assurance  that  an  advance  on  his  part  would  not  be  re- 
pulsed with  contempt.  That  estrangement  caused  the  quarrel 
between  Garfield  and  Conkling.  Elaine's  friends  had  nominated 
Garfield,  and  it  was  his  obvious  duty  to  tender  to  Elaine  the 
position  of  premier.  Conkling  protested,  but  in  vain,  and  finally 
informed  the  President  that  when  the  nomination  of  Elaine  came 
before  the  Senate,  he  would  not  make  open  opposition,  but 
would  be  compelled  to  hold  his  nose  to  escape  the  stench  that 
such  an  appointment  must  cause  in  the  Senate. 

It  is  commonly  accepted  that  the  nomination  of  Robertson  for 
Collector  of  the  Port  of  New  York,  which  was  the  greatest  pos- 
sible affront  to  Conkling,  was  accomplished  by  Elaine  at  the 
head  of  the  Cabinet;  but  in  that  Elaine  is  unjustly  judged. 
Elaine  did  not  advise  the  appointment  of  Robertson,  and  did  not 
know  of  it  until  it  was  made.  It  was  one  of  the  occasions  in 
which  the  lack  of  executive  attributes  and  discipline  was  exhib- 
ited by  Garfield.  He  was  a  great  popular  leader,  but  he  lacked 
many  of  the  qualities  of  a  tactful  administrator.  Robertson  was 
in  the  delegation  at  Chicago,  and  led  the  minority  of  the  dele- 
gates who  refused  to  support  Grant,  and  who  in  the  end  sup- 
ported Garfield ;  and  the  man  who  had  thus  dared  to  lock  horns 
with  Conkling's  imperious  spirit  could  never  be  forgiven.  The 
result  was  a  blunder  on  the  part  of  Conkling  that  only  passion 
could  have  inspired,  and  he  resigned  his  seat  in  the  Senate,  tak- 
ing Platt,  his  associate,  with  him,  hoping  to  be  re-elected  by  the 
New  York  Legislature  then  in  session.  Had  the  election  been 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  HJ 

held  at  once  it  is  probable  that  Colliding  and  Platt  could  have 
won;  but  the  presiding  officer  of  the  Senate  delayed  it  a  week  by 
failing  to  make  the  announcement  in  time,  and  that  delay  was 
fatal.  The  result  was  a  contest  of  some  weeks  before  the  Legis- 
lature, in  which  Vice-President  Arthur  was  by  the  side  of  Conk- 
ling  at  Albany  battling  against  the  President;  but  the  struggle 
was  summarily  ended  by  the  assassination  of  Garfield.  Conkling 
and  Platt  grew  weaker  from  day  to  day,  and  finally  had  to 
abandon  the  field  before  the  death  of  the  President,  as  he 
lingered  many  weeks  after  the  assassin's  bullet  had  stricken  him. 
Garfield  had  little  opportunity  in  the  brief  period  in  which  he 
served  as  President  to  leave  any  monument  of  marked  credit  to 
his  administration.  Congress  had  not  been  in  session,  and  two 
months  before  its  regular  meeting  he  died  at  Long  Branch.  He 
thus  left  no  record  by  which  to  judge  his  qualities  as  the  Exec- 
utive of  the  great  nation.  In  the  White  House  he  gave  the  same 
generous  welcome  to  visitors  that  he  had  given  when  among  the 
leaders  of  the  House.  He  was  blest  with  a  most  buoyant,  hope- 
ful temperament,  and  had  gathered  about  him  at  the  Capitol  a 
large  circle  of  Ohio  friends,  who  expected  to  bask  in  the  power 
of  Garfield  for  eight  years.  I  saw  him  in  the  White  House  sev- 
eral times  during  his  brief  stay  there.  There  were  no  public 
questions  of  interest  then  to  discuss,  and  he  had  only  social 
duties  to  perform  outside  of  the  scramble  for  place.  Blaine  was 
the  master  spirit  of  his  Administration,  and  Garfield  was  as 
enthusiastic  as  Blaine  himself.  Blaine  expected  to  accomplish 
great  achievements  in  bringing  this  country  into  closer  relations 
with  Central  and  South  America,  and  Garfield  looked  forward 
to  an  era  of  peace  and  prosperity,  with  a  record  of  greatly  en- 
larged commerce,  accomplished  by  his  Administration.  He 
had  no  exacting  cares,  and  he  was  generally  as  cheerful  as  a 
boy  at  play.  His  hopeful  temperament  was  never  abated  even 
during  his  long  and  always  hopeless  illness,  and  when  informed 
by  his  physician,  after  the  nature  of  his  wound  had  been  ascer- 
tained, that  there  was  a  chance  for  his  life,  he  cheerfully 
answered,  "Well,  we'll  take  that  chance."  After  his  removal  to 
Long  Branch,  when  all  who  knew  his  actual  condition  knew 
that  his  recovery  was  utterly  impossible,  the  silver  lining  of  hope 
cheered  him  until  his  last  moment.  He  was  the  second  of  our 


114  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

Presidents  who  fell  by  the  assassin's  bullet,  and  his  death  spread 
the  dark  pall  of  sorrow  over  the  entire  nation. 

Mrs.  Garfield  had  no  opportunity  to  exhibit  her  social  quali- 
ties in  the  White  House  beyond  meeting  the  jostling  crowd  at 
the  inauguration.  Congress  was  not  in  session  during  her  brief 
period  as  the  first  lady  of  the  land.  After  the  rush  of  the  inaug- 
uration ceremonies  she  always  exercised  such  generous  hospital- 
ity as  the  season  would  permit,  until  the  2d  of  July,  when  the 
President  was  shot,  and  from  that  time  until  the  I9th  of  Sep- 
tember she  was  the  devoted  nurse  of  her  dying  husband.  She 
was  eminently  fitted  for  a  most  successful  career  as  mistress  of 
the  White  House.  Her  acquaintance  with  Garfield  began  when 
both  were  students  at  school;  she  was  a  fitting  helpmate  in  the 
laborious  career  he  accepted  for  himself,  and  she  was  equal  to 
her  part  in  every  distinction  that  he  achieved.  The  sympathy 
of  the  nation  for  her  and  her  children  was  promptly  displayed 
after  the  death  of  the  President  by  a  voluntary  popular  sub- 
scription that  reached  $360,000,  that  was  placed  in  trust  for 
herself  and  her  four  sons  and  one  daughter,  and  in  addition,  Con- 
gress voted  the  usual  annuity  of  $5,000  to  the  widow  of  a  Presi- 
dent. She  was  a  woman  of  gentle  and  graceful  manners,  with 
unusually  strong  and  positive  qualities,  and  the  hearty  sym- 
pathy of  the  whole  people  went  out  to  her  as  she  returned  to  her 
desolate  home  in  Ohio,  clad  in  the  habiliments  of  woe, 


ARTHUR  AND   HIS   SUCCESSFUL 
ADMINISTRATION. 

No  man  ever  entered  the  Presidency  so  profoundly  and  widely 
distrusted  as  Chester  Alan  Arthur,  and  no  one  ever  retired  from 
that  highest  civil  trust  of  the  world  more  generally  respected, 
alike  by  political  friend  and  foe.  When  the  death  of  Garfield 
called  him  to  the  succession,  by  the  mandate  of  the  Constitu- 
tion, he  was  known  outside  of  his  immediate  circle  of  personal 
friends  as  a  mere  politician,  and  not  of  the  most  creditable 
school.  His  active  participation  in  politics  in  New  York;  his 
factional  struggles,  which  attracted  the  attention  of  the  nation; 
his  conflict  with  President  Hayes  and  Secretary  Sherman,  which 
resulted  in  his  removal  from  the  Collectorship  of  New  York 
charged  with  the  abuse  of  his  official  power  to  serve  political 
ends,  and  his  defeat  in  this  fight  with  his  own  party  Administra- 
tion made  it  only  natural  that  he  should  be  generally  accepted 
as  a  politician  who  could  not  rise  to  the  dignity  of  statesman- 
ship, and  who  if  charged  with  high  political  authority  would 
pervert  it  to  serve  personal  or  partisan  ends. 

Those  who  knew  Arthur  in  his  every-day  life  and  were  at- 
tracted to  him  by  his  manly  personal  attributes  fully  appreci- 
ated the  wrong  that  was  done  to  him.  The  whole  record  of 
his  life  shows  that  he  was  a  man  of  positive  convictions,  of  un- 
swerving integrity,  and  was  ever  ready  to  sacrifice  himself  in 
demanding  the  maintenance  of  his  faith.  He  was  born  in  the 
chilly  mountains  of  Vermont,  and,  like  Garfield,  resolutely 
worked  his  way  to  the  attainment  of  a  collegiate  education,  in 
which  he  graduated  with  exceptional  honors.  While  devoting 
all  his  spare  hours  to  teaching,  he  was  enabled  by  his  own 
efforts  to  gratify  his  ambition  for  accomplished  scholarship,  and 
when  quite  a  young  man  he  engaged  in  the  practice  of  law  in 
New  York  City.  His  first  important  case  was  one  that  an  ambi- 
tious young  lawyer  looking  only  to  his  own  advancement  would 
never  have  undertaken.  It  was  the  memorable  Lemmon  slave 

(115) 


Ii6  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

case.  The  feeling  against  the  abolition  sentiment  of  that  day 
was  so  violent  that  Gerrit  Smith  had  been  mobbed  at  Utica  in 
attempting  to  form  an  anti-slavery  society,  and  William  Lloyd 
Garrison  had  been  dragged  through  the  streets  of  Boston  by  a 
mob  and  found  protection  by  lodgment  in  prison. 

The  Lemmon  slave  case  was  the  first  test  made  by  Southern 
slave  owners  to  force  the  recognition  of  the  right  to  hold  slaves 
in  transitu  in  free  States.  The  compromise  measures  of  1850 
tended  to  the  establishment  of  this  theory,  and  the  Dred  Scott 
decision,  which  followed  in  a  few  years,  was  regarded  by  the 
Democratic  leaders  as  settling  the  slavery  issue.  The  Dred  Scott 
decision  was  foreshadowed  in  Buchanan's  inaugural  address,  and 
the  advocates  of  slavery  extension  believed  that  they  had  then 
attained  not  only  the  right  to  carry  slaves  into  the  territories, 
but  also  to  take  slaves  in  transit  into  and  through  free  States. 
Jonathan  Lemmon,  a  wealthy  planter  of  Virginia,  brought  sev- 
eral of  his  slaves  into  New  York  on  their  way  to  Texas,  and  a 
writ  of  habeas  corpus  was  issued  by  Judge  Paine,  of  the 
Superior  Court,  on  the  petition  of  a  free  colored  citizen  of  the 
State,  alleging  that  the  slaves  were  made  free  by  being  brought 
by  their  masters  into  a  State  where  slavery  was  unlawful.  The 
Court  decided  that  the  slaves  were  free,  and  the  Lemmon  slave 
case  suddenly  became  an  important  political  factor.  The  Legis- 
lature of  Virginia  instructed  its  District  Attorney  to  carry  the 
issue  to  the  highest  court  of  New  York,  where  the  freedom  of 
the  slaves  was  affirmed,  and  Arthur,  then  the  junior  counsel  for 
the  slaves,  personally  appeared  before  the  Legislature  and  the 
Governor  of  New  York  and  secured  the  intervention  of  the 
State  to  defend  their  freedom. 

Arthur  did  not  argue  the  case,  but  such  men  as  Attorney- 
General  Hoffman,  Culver,  Blunt  and  Evarts  were  engaged  on 
the  same  side,  and  Charles  O'Connor  joined  the  Attorney-Gen- 
eral of  Virginia  in  support  of  the  cause  of  the  master.  He  also 
brought  the  first  action  against  the  street  car  lines  of  New  York 
for  ejecting  colored  persons.  He  rose  rapidly  at  the  bar,  and 
took  a  very  active  part  in  politics.  He  served  on  the  staff  of 
Governor  Morgan  during  the  civil  war,  and  devoted  himself 
assiduously  to  a  very  important  but  generally  unrecognized  ser- 
vice that  is  necessary  in  the  achievements  of  our  army.  He  was 
secretary  of  the  confidential  New  York  meeting  of  a  number  of 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  1 1 7 

the  Governors  of  the  loyal  States  in  June,  1862,  which  resulted 
in  the  celebrated  Altoona  conference  that  called  upon  the  Presi- 
dent to  summon  300,000  additional  soldiers  to  the  field.  His 
arduous  duties  in  organizing  and  equipping  the  New  York 
soldiers  were  so  faithfully  performed  that  his  Democratic  suc- 
cessor paid  the  highest  tribute  to  his  ability  and  integrity.  He 
continued  prominent  in  the  practice  of  the  law,  and  in  all  polit- 
ical movements  until  1871,  when  he  was  appointed  Collector  of 
the  Port  of  New  York  by  President  Grant,  and  confirmed  by 
the  Senate  without  objection.  Four  years  later,  in  1875,  he  was 
reappointed  and  confirmed  at  once  without  referring  the  nom- 
ination to  a  committee — a  courtesy  that  is  very  rarely  extended 
to  any  excepting  those  who  have  been  members  of  the  Senate. 

Arthur  was  a  devoted  friend  of  Conkling,  as  was  Alonzo  B. 
Cornell,  then  naval  officer  of  New  York,  and  in  1876  Conkling 
made  his  great  battle  for  the  Presidential  nomination.  Conkling 
was  one  of  the  greatest  of  Republican  leaders,  and  no  man  ever 
had  more  devoted  followers,  among  whom  were  Arthur  and 
Cornell;  and  after  the  fierce  battle  between  Elaine,  Bristow  and 
the  Administration  forces  Conkling's  supporters  went  to  Hayes 
and  gave  him  the  nomination.  Cornell  was  a  prominent  candi- 
date for  Governor  the  same  year,  with  Evarts  and  Morgan  as 
competitors,  Evarts  representing  the  reform  Republicans  under 
the  leadership  of  Curtis.  Cornell  withdrew  and  gave  Morgan 
the  nomiration,  and  Hayes  called  Evarts  to  the  head  of  his  Cab- 
inet. Evarts  represented  the  Republican  sentiment  that  was  at 
variance  with  the  aims  and  purposes  of  Conkling,  and,  as  Hayes 
favored  extreme  civil  service  reform,  Collector  Arthur  and  Naval 
Officer  Cornell,  by  their  active  participation  in  politics,  had 
openly  offended  the  reform  civil  service  policy.  It  was  not 
charged  that  they  had  been  faithless  in  their  official  duties,  but 
Hayes,  who  was  an  ideal  civil  service  reform  radical,  joined 
Evarts  in  an  assault  upon  Arthur  and  Cornell. 

A  commission  was  appointed  to  investigate  the  management 
of  the  Custom  House,  and  it  reported  Arthur  and  Cornell  as 
offenders  against  the  civil  service  policy  of  the  Administration. 
The  President  thereupon  nominated  Theodore  Roosevelt  for 
Collector  and  J.  Bradford  Prince  for  Naval  Officer,  but  Conkling 
came  to  the  rescue  of  his  friends  and  rejected  the  new  nomina- 
tions. When  Congress  adjourned,  some  months  later,  the  Presi- 


nS  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

dent  suspended  Arthur  and  Cornell,  and  appointed  Edward  A. 
Merritt  as  Collector  and  Silas  W.  Burt  as  Naval  Officer,  and 
their  nominations  were  sent  to  the  Senate  when  it  met  the  fol- 
lowing December.  Secretary  Sherman  sent  to  the  Senate  a 
detailed  statement  of  the  reasons  which  led  to  the  removal  of 
Arthur  and  Cornell,  to  which  Arthur  replied  in  defense  of  his 
administration;  and  after  a  controversy  of  three  months  Conk- 
ling  was  unhorsed  by  the  confirmation  of  Merritt  and  Burt.  This 
battle  ended  on  the  3d  of  February,  1879,  an^  on  t^6  3^  °f  Sep- 
tember following  Cornell  was  nominated  by  the  Republicans  for 
Governor  of  the  State  and  triumphantly  elected,  and  one  year 
later  Arthur  was  nominated  for  Vice  President  at  Chicago,  was 
elected,  and  thereby  became  President  of  the  United  States. 

I  had  met  Arthur  only  in  a  casual  way  at  national  conventions, 
and  several  times  in  New  York,  until  the  meeting  of  the  Repub- 
lican convention  at  Chicago  in  1880,  where  he  was  nominated  for 
Vice  President.  The  sessions  of  that  convention  extended  over 
some  ten  days,  and  it  was  one  of  the  most  imposing  spectacles  I 
have  ever  witnessed.  It  was  the  great  battle  between  Grant  and 
Blaine,  and  the  ablest  leaders  of  both  sides  were  summoned  to 
the  conflict.  Arthur  was  second  in  the  New  York  delegation, 
and  acted  as  chairman  in  the  absence  of  Conkling.  He  had  not 
the  remotest  idea  that  he  might  be  named  for  Vice  President. 
He  was  heartily  devoted  to  his  chief,  Conkling,  and  to  Conkling's 
chief,  Grant,  and  they  were  confident  of  winning  the  battle  until 
they  were  defeated  in  the  preliminary  struggle  on  the  rules, 
whereby  delegations  instructed  by  their  respective  States  to  vote 
as  a  unit  were  given  the  right  to  vote  their  individual  preferences 
regardless  of  their  home  instructions.  Had  this  rule  not  pre- 
vailed Grant  would  have  been  nominated.  It  lost  him  many 
votes,  especially  in  New  York  and  Pennsylvania,  and  Robertson, 
who  was  appointed  to  the  Collectorship  by  Garfield  and  made  an 
impassable  chasm  between  Conkling  and  Garfield,  led  the  minor- 
ity of  the  New  York  delegation  in  defiance  of  Conkling  and 
polled  one-fourth  more  of  the  delegation  for  Blaine. 

Conkling  was  not  an  approachable  man,  except  to  his  few  very 
intimate  acquaintances,  and  the  newspaper  men  found  Arthur, 
who  was  entirely  familiar  with  the  inner  movements  of  Conkling, 
not  only  a  most  agreeable  companion,  but  ready  to  furnish  them 
all  the  information  that  he  was  warranted  in  giving  out.  I  had 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  119 

frequent  conferences  with  him  during  that  long  struggle,  and 
my  prejudices  against  him  w-ere  greatly  tempered  by  the  manly 
qualities  he  always  exhibited.  No  one  could  be  in  close  touch 
with  him  at  any  time  without  seeing  that  he  was  a  man  of  great 
ability,  of  severe  modesty,  and  thoroughly  straightforward  in  all 
his  political  movements.  During  the  whole  proceedings  of  the 
convention  Conkling  was  offensively  imperious.  He  never  an- 
nounced the  vote  of  his  State  without  giving  the  minority  vote 
with  a  sneer  or  with  an  offensive  remark.  On  several  occasions 
when  Conkling  was  otherwise  engaged  Arthur  acted  as  chair- 
man, and  in  announcing  the  vote  his  courteous  manner  was  a 
most  agreeable  contrast  to  the  offensive  methods  of  his  chief. 
When  defeat  came  for  the  Grant  forces  Conkling  was  irreconcila- 
ble, and  contemptuously  refused  to  consider  the  question  of  pre- 
senting a  Grant  man  for  second  place  on  the  ticket.  The  more 
considerate  men  in  the  delegation  finally  took  hold  of  the  ques- 
tion and  named  Arthur  for  Vice  President — the  one  man  to 
whom  Conkling  could  not  possibly  object.  He  gave  his  passive 
assent,  but  took  no  further  active  part  in  the  proceedings  of  the 
convention.  Arthur  was  nominated  practically  without  a  contest, 
as  he  was  known  to  be  the  most  prominent  representative  of  the 
Grant  forces,  next  to  Conkling,  in  New  York. 

When  Garfield  and  Arthur  were  inaugurated  President  and 
Vice  President  it  was  generally  expected  that  there  would  be 
harmony  between  the  Garfield  and  Conkling  elements,  and 
Arthur  certainly  did  everything  in  his  power  to  maintain  it;  but 
Conkling  was  ever  suspicious  of  Garfield,  and  when  he  finally 
slapped  Conkling  in  the  face  by  the  nomination  of  Robertson  to 
the  New  York  Collectorship  it  became  a  war  to  the  death. 
Conkling  was  just  the  man  to  fight  such  a  battle  regardless  of 
consequences,  with  his  ears  closed  to  every  suggestion  of  com- 
promise. He  attempted  to  assert  his  power  over  the  President 
by  resigning  his  seat  in  the  Senate,  depending  upon  the  New 
York  Legislature  for  re-election,  but  he  there  met  only  keen  dis- 
appointment and  disastrous  defeat;  and  the  long-continued  bat- 
tle practically  ended  on  the  day  that  the  assassin's  bullet  pros- 
trated President  Garfield.  Arthur  had  manfully  stood  by  his 
friend  in  his  hopeless  struggle  until  the  assassin  had  intervened 
between  the  contending  gladiators,  and  when  the  tragedy  of  the 
Washington  depot  ended  in  the  death  of  Garfield,  at  Long 


120  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

Branch,  Arthur  quietly  summoned  the  New  York  Chief  Justice 
to  his  home  to  administer  to  him  the  oath  of  office  of  President 
of  the  United  States. 

I  shall  never  forget  the  day,  July  2,  1881,  when,  sitting-  on  a 
veranda  at  the  summit  of  the  Alleghenies,  a  telegraph  boy  ran 
wildly  among  the  visitors  who  were  enjoying  the  cool  breezes, 
announcing  that  President  Garfield  had  been  shot  at  the  railroad 
depot  in  Washington,  and  that  he  could  not  survive.  The  horror 
of  the  second  assassination  of  the  President  of  the  United  States 
within  a  period  of  sixteen  years  was  simply  appalling,  and  the 
public  distrust  that  attached  to  Vice  President  Arthur  seemed  to 
leave  the  dark  pall  that  hung  over  the  nation  without  even  a  sil- 
ver lining.  The  death  of  Garfield  meant  according  to  the  general 
acceptation  of  the  public,  a  radical  political  or  factional  revolu- 
tion, and  it  was  generally  assumed  that  it  made  Conkling  Presi- 
dent in  fact,  as  Arthur  was  presumed  to  be  his  submissive  fol- 
lower. This  distrust  was  measurably  justified  by  Arthur's  manly 
devotion  to  Conkling.  He  was  at  open  war  with  the  President, 
and  he  was  censured  for  degrading  the  office  of  Vice  President  to 
the  position  of  appearing  before  the  New  York  Legislature  as  a 
solicitor  of  votes  for  Conkling.  Values  were  at  once  seriously 
disturbed,  and  there  was  general  apprehension  that  the  Repub- 
lican party  would  be  disintegrated  by  the  vindictive  mastery  of 
faction  in  the  administration  of  the  Government.  Conkling  had 
many  wounds  to  revenge,  and  it  was  reasonable  to  assume  that 
Arthur  would  be  his  willing  instrument  in  all  his  resentful  pur- 
poses. 

From  the  day  that  Arthur  became  President  of  the  United 
States  all  the  inherent  great  qualities  of  the  man  asserted  them- 
selves. When  he  arrived  at  Washington  the  oath  of  office  was 
again  administered  to  him  by  Chief  Justice  Waite,  and  he  gave 
out  a  brief  inaugural  address  that  did  much  to  quiet  the  general 
apprehensions  of  the  country.  The  closing  sentence  of  that  ad- 
dress was  in  the  following  well-considered  words,  which  he  main- 
tained with  unfaltering  fidelity:  "Summoned  to  these  high 
duties  and  responsibilities,  and  profoundly  conscious  of  their 
magnitude  and  gravity,  I  assume  the  trust  imposed  by  the  Con- 
stitution relying  for  aid  on  Divine  guidance  and  the  virtue, 
patriotism  and  intelligence  of  the  American  people." 

Our  American   Presidents   have   left   many   monuments   of 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  121 

heroism  before  which  the  heroism  of  military  chieftains  must 
pale.  Jefferson's  acquisition  of  Louisiana,  that  was  accomplished 
against  the  general  sentiment  of  his  own  party  and  of  the  coun- 
try; Jackson's  incisive  dealing  with  nullification  in  South  Caro- 
lina; Lincoln's  immortal  Emancipation  Proclamation,  and 
Cleveland's  patriotic  defense  of  the  national  credit  against  a  re- 
pudiation Senate  and  House,  and  the  suppression  of  anarchy  by 
the  military  power  of  the  Government,  all  stand  out  in  distinct 
proof  that  "Peace  hath  her  victories  more  renowned  than  war;" 
but  1  doubt  whether  any  President  ever  performed  a  more  heroic 
role  in  simple  obedience  to  public  duty  and  against  such  oppres- 
sive complications  than  President  Arthur  exhibited  in  asserting 
himself  as  President  with  duties  higher  and  holier  than  the  inter- 
ests of  even  the  dearest  friend.  The  first  lesson  that  he  had  to 
teach  v/as  that  he,  and  not  Conkling,  was  President,  and  he  did  it 
in  the  most  unostentatious  way  possible,  resulting  in  the  aliena- 
tion of  the  friendship  of  his  recent  chief.  He  changed  his  Cabi- 
net with  the  exception  of  Secretary  of  War  Lincoln,  and  he  could 
not  do  less  with  a  Cabinet  that  had  Blaine  at  the  head  and  in 
which  Attorney  General  MacVeagh  was  an  important  factor ;  but 
he  never  swerved  from  the  acceptance  of  the  whole  responsibil- 
ity imposed  upon  him  by  a  great  national  bereavement,  and  no 
other  President  has  surpassed  him  in  unswerving  fidelity  to 
every  public  duty.  He  publicly  testified  his  appreciation  of 
Conkling  by  nominating  him  as  Justice  of  the  Supreme  Court, 
but  he  doubtless  did  it  with  the  full  knowledge  that  it  would  not 
be  accepted.  It  was  declined,  of  course,  and  thereafter  Conkling 
was  without  interest  in  the  Administration  of  the  President  who 
had  so  long  been  his  protege  and  faithful  supporter. 

Almost  any  man  even  in  the  Presidency  would  have  tempor- 
ized with  such  an  exacting  dictator  as  Conkling  by  his  side,  and 
thereby  lost  the  confidence  of  the  country  without  serving  his 
friend;  but  Arthur  quietly  devoted  himself  to  winning  the  ap- 
proval of  the  nation  by  thoroughly  deserving  it.  From  that  line 
he  never  departed;  he  was,  therefore,  eminently  successful.  He 
was  one  of  the  most  delightful  of  our  Presidents  to  visit  at  the 
White  House,  and  while  always  maintaining  every  degree  of 
dignity  that  should  obtain  in  the  office,  he  welcomed  visitors 
with  open  heart,  and  all  who  met  him  learned  not  only  to  respect 
but  to  love  him.  Slowly  but  surely  he  grew  in  public  trust,  and 


122  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

long  before  he  retired  from  his  high  office  he  commanded  not 
only  the  unbounded  confidence  of  the  great  business  interests  of 
the  country,  but  the  universal  respect  of  the  whole  people,  re- 
gardless of  their  political  faith.  Like  all  men  who  have  reached 
the  Presidency,  with  very  rare  exceptions,  he  desired  to  succeed 
himself,  but  Elaine  had  the  enthusiastic  support  of  the  Repub- 
lican people,  had  been  defeated  in  twro  national  conventions 
when  he  was  the  second  highest  candidate,  and  when  his  friends 
believed  that  he  should  have  been  successful,  and  Arthur  fell  in 
the  Chicago  convention  of  1884,  not  because  his  Administra- 
tion was  not  heartily  approved  by  his  party,  but  because  the 
Plumed  Knight  of  Maine  could  not  longer  be  postponed  as  the 
party  candidate  with  the  consent  of  the  more  vital  elements  of 
the  party  organization. 

Whether  Arthur  could  have  been  elected  in  1884  when  Elaine 
was  defeated  is  an  open  question.  Conkling  defeated  Elaine  by 
throwing  the  controlling  State  of  New  York  against  him,  and  it 
is  quite  likely  that  he  would  in  like  manner  have  defeated 
Arthur.  Blaine  made  the  most  remarkable  campaign  for  him- 
self that  had  ever  been  made  by  any  Presidential  candidate,  ex- 
cepting Douglas,  and  that  has  ever  been  made  since,  excepting 
the  two  brilliant  but  fruitless  campaigns  of  Bryan,  and  it  is  quite 
probable  that  Elaine's  magnetic  personality  and  brilliant  cam- 
paigning brought  himself  nearer  an  election  than  could  have 
been  accomplished  by  Arthur.  When  Blaine  was  nominated, 
Arthur  promptly  telegraphed  to  Blaine  his  hearty  congratula- 
tions, and  gave  a  cordial  and  faithful  support  to  the  party  candi- 
date; but  Elaine  was  doomed  to  be  the  first  in  the  line  of  Repub- 
lican candidates  for  the  Presidency  to  be  defeated  in  the  period 
of  nearly  a  quarter  of  a  century. 

I  last  saw  Arthur  on  the  evening  of  the  day  on  which  he  re- 
tired from  the  Presidency.  He  was  the  guest  of  honor  at  a 
dinner  given  by  one  of  his  Senatorial  friends,  and  I  was  painfully 
impressed  by  the  fact  that  on  that  occasion  he  lacked  the  de- 
lightful companionable  qualities  which  he  usually  exhibited.  He 
was  too  much  of  a  philosopher  to  exhibit  depression  because 
his  days  of  power  were  ended,  and  later  in  the  evening,  when 
most  of  the  company  had  departed,  I  spoke  of  it  to  the  host, 
who  then  informed  me  that  Arthur's  health  was  seriously  if  not 
hopelessly  broken,  and  that  he  was  suffering  from  what  was 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  123 

believed  to  be  an  incurable  malady.  He  returned  to  New  York 
and  announced  that  he  could  be  consulted  on  legal  questions  at 
his  office;  but  his  vitality  gradually  wasted  away,  and  he  was 
rarely  $een  on  public  occasions.  On  the  i8th  of  November, 
1886,  less  than  two  years  after  he  left  Washington,  he  died  sud- 
denly of  apoplexy,  and  he  fell  in  the  race  universally  beloved 
and  lamented. 

Arthur  entered  the  Presidency  as  a  widower,  his  wife  having 
died  in  January  of  the  year  in  which  he  was  elected  Vice-Presi- 
dent, but  his  sister,  Mrs.  Mary  A.  McElroy,  was  mistress  of  the 
White  House  during  the  social  portions  of  the  year,  and 
acquitted  herself  with  exceptional  ability.  She  was  quiet  and 
unassuming  in  her  social  life,  as  was  her  brother  in  his  great 
office,  and  the  hospitality  of  the  White  House  was  dispensed 
with  that  gentle  dignity  that  only  a  highly  accomplished  and 
thoroughly  womanly  woman  can  display, 


CLEVELAND'S   THREE   CONTESTS 
AND  TWO  ADMINISTRATIONS. 

The  political  contests  which  brought  Grover  Cleveland  and 
Benjamin  Harrison  into  the  Presidency  are  yet  fresh  in  the 
recollections  of  the  people,  and  the  leading  measures  of  national 
policy  with  which  their  respective  Administrations  were  identi- 
fied need  not  be  elaborately  discussed;  but  some  personal  inci- 
dents interwoven  with  their  official  careers  may  be  interesting  to 
the  general  reader.  Our  public  men  are  not  judged  wholly 
by  their  public  acts.  The  strong  or  weak  personality  of  a  man 
called  to  high  official  position  has  much  to  do  in  shaping  the 
public  judgment  of  his  official  qualities.  To  know  our  great 
men  as  they  really  are  they  must  be  seen  in  the  inner  circles 
of  their  daily  lives,  and  no  man  has  ever  reached  the  Presidency 
without  having  called  out  the  most  searching  scrutiny  as  to  his 
personal  attributes. 

Many  men  thoughtlessly  speak  of  Mr.  Cleveland  as  a  man  of 
destiny,  but  with  all  his  opportunities  any  man  of  less  distinctive 
personal  qualities  would  never  have  attained  the  success  that  he 
achieved.  Fortuitous  circumstance  aids  most  of  our  success- 
ful public  men  at  some  crucial  period  of  their  lives,  such  as  the 
fortunate  nomination  of  Cleveland  for  Governor  in  1882,  when 
the  Republican  party  of  New  York  was  hopelessly  divided.  Even 
with  so  reputable  and  in  every  way  worthy  an  opponent  as  Mr. 
Folger,  then  Secretary  of  the  Treasury,  the  State  gave  Cleve- 
land over  192,000  majority.  That  did  much  to  make  him  a  hope- 
ful candidate  for  President,  but  if  he  had  not  been  the  sternly 
honest  and  resolutely  faithful  man  in  the  discharge  of  all  public 
duties  that  he  proved  as  Governor,  he  never  would  have  been 
President  of  the  United  States. 

Like  Arthur  and  Harrison,  Cleveland  was  the  architect  of  his 
own  fortune,  and  was  indebted  to  his  own  efforts  alone  for  the 
tolerable  education  he  attained.  Beyond  the  scholastic  advan- 
tages of  an  academy  where  his  Presbyterian  preacher  father  was 

(124) 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  1 25 

located,  he  had  no  opportunities  for  advancement  beyond  his 
own  tireless  studies.  At  17  years  of  age  he  was  a  clerk  and 
assistant  teacher  in  the  New  York  Blind  Asylum,  and  later  on 
thought  himself  doing  well  in  assisting  in  the  preparation  of  a 
book  at  $10  a  week.  He  entered  a  Buffalo  law  office  in  1855  as 
a  clerk  and  copyist,  but  at  once  devoted  himself  to  the  study  of 
law,  and  in  1859  was  admitted  to  the  Bar.  After  his  admission 
he  spent  several  years  with  his  preceptor,  acting  as  clerk  and 
assistant  at  a  salary  beginning  at  $600,  and  annually  advanced 
to  $1,000,  out  of  which  he  supported  his  widowed  mother.  He 
soon  attracted  attention  as  an  exceptionally  well-equipped  law- 
yer. He  was  always  a  man  of  positive  convictions  and  was 
earnestly  devoted  to  the  Democratic  cause,  although  never  an 
obtrusive  candidate  for  party  honors.  He  was  nominated  for 
District  Attorney  in  1865,  when  only  28  years  of  age,  but  was 
defeated.  Five  years  later  he  was  elected  Sheriff,  and  in  1881 
he  was  elected  as  Mayor  of  the  city.  While  serving  as  Mayor  he 
was  nominated  and  elected  Governor,  and  while  serving  as  Gov- 
ernor he  was  nominated  and  elected  President  of  the  United 
States. 

Cleveland  was  a  reluctant  candidate  for  President  in  1884. 
His  friends  had  many  consultations  with  him  on  the  subject, 
but  he  uniformly  discouraged  rather  than  favored  the  move- 
ment. Mr.  Manning,  who  commanded  the  battle  resulting  in 
Cleveland's  nomination  for  President  with  consummate  skill,  and 
who  served  during  part  of  Cleveland's  first  term  as  Secretary  of 
the  Treasury,  gave  me  a  detailed  account  of  the  reluctance  on 
the  part  of  Cleveland  that  confronted  them  in  organizing  to 
make  him  the  candidate  for  President.  He  had  little  knowledge 
of  the  comprehensive  campaign  shrewdly  planned  and  as 
shrewdly  executed  by  Manning  to  win  at  Chicago.  The  Demo- 
crats had  not  elected  a  President  since  the  success  of  the  Repub- 
lican party  in  1860,  although  Tilden  had  received  a  popular 
majority  in  1876  without  finally  succeeding  in  winning  a  ma- 
jority in  the  Electoral  College.  He  regarded  the  contest  as 
doubtful  at  best,  and  he  was  perfectly  content  to  serve  out  the 
term  of  orifice  to  which  the  people  of  his  State  had  called  him. 
He  had  never  been  intimate  with  the  Democratic  leaders  of 
national  fame,  but  he  was  scrupulously  attentive  to  his  public 
and  private  duties,  traveled  but  little,  and  had  the  greatest  aver- 


126  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

sion  to  anything  like  ornamental  parading  in  politics.  I  believe 
that  he  never  was  in  Washington  until  he  appeared  there  to  be 
inaugurated  President,  with  the  single  exception  of  a  visit  there 
in  connection  with  a  case  he  had  in  the  Supreme  Court. 

Cleveland's  nomination  in  Chicago  was  accomplished  against 
the  most  aggressive  opposition  of  Tammany  Hall,  led  by  the 
veteran  John  Kelly.  Tammany  was  in  absolute  control  of  the 
city  of  New  York,  where  it  required  nearly  100,000  Democratic 
majority  to  give  the  electoral  vote  of  the  State  to  a  Democratic 
candidate;  but  Manning  and  his  associates,  who  were  in  the  front 
of  the  battle  for  Cleveland,  compelled  Tammany  to  submit  to 
have  its  votes  in  the  convention  cast  for  Cleveland  under  the  unit 
rule.  I  had  seen  Kelly  on  several  important  political  occasions, 
but  never  saw  him  so  wildly  excited  as  he  was  when  he  was 
defeated  in  his  desperate  struggle  to  prevent  the  enforcement  of 
the  unit  rule  that  made  him  cast  his  vote  for  Cleveland,  after  he 
had  vehemently  protested  against  that  nomination.  Kelly  ap- 
pealed to  the  convention  until  he  became  so  hoarse  that  he  could 
not  be  heard  beyond  his  own  delegation,  but  the  hand  of  fate 
was  upon  him  and  he  was  compelled  to  bow  to  the  inevitable. 
Manning  had  a  clear  majority  for  Cleveland  at  his  command, 
but  he  lacked  the  necessary  two-thirds  vote;  and  I  participated 
in  the  arrangement  with  Manning  by  which  Randall,  the  Penn- 
sylvania candidate  for  President,  was  brought  hurriedly  to  Chi- 
cago, and  after  a  personal  conference  at  which  only  Randall,  and 
Manning  were  present,  an  arrangement  was  made  by  which 
Randall's  support  went  to  Cleveland  on  the  second  ballot,  and 
that  decided  his  nomination. 

I  never  met  Cleveland  until  after  his  election  to  the  Presi- 
dency. An  appointment  was  made  for  me  to  visit  him  at  Albany 
within  a  month  after  his  election.  I  arrived  there  late  in  the 
evening,  and  found  him  awaiting  me  in  the  executive  office  of 
the  Capitol.  The  first  impressions  that  Cleveland  made  upon 
an  intelligent  observer  were  precisely  the  same  as  would  be 
made  in  a  hundred  later  interviews.  He  was  always  the  same 
quiet,  unassuming,  straightforward,  sternly  honest  and  entirely 
frank  man  in  all  things  of  which  he  could  speak  with  freedom. 
Men  have  claimed  that  Lincoln,  who  was  equally  honest  with 
Cleveland,  at  times  dissembled  and  deceived  those  who  conferred 
\vith  him,  but  it  was  the  result  of  Lincoln's  extreme  caution. 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  1 27 

The  unwarranted  misapprehension  of  his  expressions  led  to  dis- 
appointment. Lincoln  was  a  man  of  variable  temperament;  at 
times  bright  and  jolly;  at  other  times  sad  and  painfully  impres- 
sive, but  Cleveland  was  the  same  under  all  circumstances  and 
conditions.  Like  Lincoln,  he  was  a  comparative  stranger  to 
the  public  men  of  the  nation,  and  was  compelled  to  choose  a 
Cabinet  most  of  whom  he  had  never  even  seen;  but  he  gave  the 
same  careful  study  to  the  new  political  conditions  which  en- 
vironed him,  consulted  freely  with  those  whose  judgment  he 
trusted,  and  when  he  formed  his  conclusions  he  was  immovable. 
I  formed  then  precisely  the  same  impressions  of  Cleveland  that 
I  cherished  throughout  the  long  and  rather  intimate  acquaint- 
ance with  him  during  his  two  Administrations  and  the  three 
memorable  campaigns  in  which  he  was  the  central  figure.  None 
could  meet  him  and  converse  freely  with  him  without  fully 
understanding  that  he  was  a  man  of  purest  purposes  and  of 
unfaltering  devotion  to  his  convictions  of  right.  In  that  con- 
ference he  discussed  the  situation  in  Pennsylvania  as  well  as  the 
situation  generally,  and  it  was  not  until  after  the  midnight  hour 
that  I  bade  him  good  night.  I  had  no  favorites  to  press  upon 
him  for  any  position,  and  that  probably  brought  me  into  closer 
personal  connection  with  him  during  his  later  career  than  could 
have  been  obtained  had  I  annoyed  him  with  the  claims  of  place- 
men. 

Cleveland  entered  the  White  House  as  a  bachelor,  and  he  was 
a  most  delightful  host  for  a  late  evening  chat.  I  have  many 
times  gone  to  the  White  House  by  his  appointment  aften  ten 
o'clock  at  night,  and  often  passed  the  midnight  hour  with  him. 
He  was  a  tireless  worker,  gave  more  attention  to  details  than 
any  President  we  have  ever  had,  and  hard  work  seemed  to  agree 
with  him.  He  was  a  delightful  conversationalist  when  alone 
with  those  to  whom  he  could  speak  with  comparative  freedom, 
and  the  one  thing  that  was  always  taught  in  his  discussions  of 
any  particular  subject  was  his  conscientious  devotion  to  the  right. 
He  did  not  please  his  party  because  he  unexpectedly  accepted 
the  civil  service  policy  that  was  declared  to  be  the  Democratic 
faith.  All  parties  believe  in  civil  service  when  their  power  has 
been  overthrown,  and  all  party  leaders,  as  a  rule,  seek  to  evade 
an  honest  civil  service  policy  when  they  come  into  power  and  the 
other  side  has  the  offices.  Cleveland  believed  in  civil  service  re- 


\ 

128  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

form,  and  he  had  the  courage  to  inaugurate  it  by  the  distinct 
declaration  that  no  capable  and  faithful  federal  officer  commis- 
sioned for  a  term  of  years  should  be  removed  until  his  term  ex- 
pired. I  saw  the  tempest  that  this  position  made  among  the 
scores  of  placemen,  but  he  stood  as  resolutely  as  the  rock  of 
Gibraltar,  and  since  then  no  President  has  departed  from  the 
policy  he  established. 

Cleveland's  record  as  President  stands  out  as  exceptionally 
great  in  several  particulars.  About  the  first  of  December,  1887, 
when  Congress  was  just  about  to  meet,  I  spent  several  hours 
with  him  in  company  with  John  G.  Carlisle.  It  was  Saturday 
evening,  and  Congress  was  to  meet  on  the  following  Monday  and 
elect  Carlisle  Speaker  of  the  House.  He  gave  me  a  hint  of  his 
memorable  tariff  message  that  cost  him  his  re-election,  and  I 
very  earnestly  appealed  to  him  to  change  his  message,  not  be- 
cause it  did  not  state  what  was  true  and  what  the  country  should 
know,  but  because  it  would  certainly  defeat  him  the  following 
year  for  re-election.  That  State  paper,  it  will  be  remembered^ 
although  the  regular  annual  message  of  the  President,  discussed 
but  a  single  question,  that  of  the  tariff,  thus  emphasizing  the 
conviction  of  the  President  that  all  other  national  issues  were 
secondary  to  the  question  of  a  reduction  of  taxes  and  expendi- 
tures. There  was  a  large  surplus  in  the  Treasury,  a  large  portion 
of  which  was  needlessly  exacted  from  the  industry,  trade  and 
commerce  of  the  people,  and  the  large  revenues  had  logically 
created  profligacy. 

Cleveland  believed  it  to  be  his  duty  to  call  a  halt,  and  while 
he  confessed  that  it  would  impair  his  chances  for  re-election,  I 
shall  never  forget  the  quiet  firmness  with  which  he  declared  that 
it  was  a  duty  that  he  should  perform  to  the  nation,  and  that  it 
must  be  performed  regardless  of  personal  consequences  to  him- 
self. The  message  was  delivered  just  as  he  had  prepared  it,  and 
while  up  to  that  time  the  Republican  leaders  cherished  little  or 
no  hope  of  defeating  Cleveland's  re-election,  from  that  time  on 
his  defeat  seemed  to  them  to  be  quite  possible.  True,  he  was 
finally  defeated  by  the  treachery  of  Tammany,  as  he  lost  his  elec- 
tion by  the  failure  to  receive  the  electoral  vote  of  New  York 
State.  On  the  same  election  day  that  the  Democrats  electee! 
their  Governor  by  nearly  20,000  they  defeated  Cleveland  by 
nearly  15,000.  I  met  him  frequently  during  the  campaign,  and 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  129 

found  him  hopeful,  but  not  confident  of  success.  He  always 
spoke  freely  in  vindication  of  his  tariff  message,  believing  that 
it  was  of  much  more  importance  to  the  country  that  that  mes- 
sage should  be  delivered  to  Congress  and  the  people  than  that 
he  should  be  elected  President.  I  <Joubt  whether  any  President 
other  than  Cleveland  would  have  made  the  personal  sacrifice  he 
did  to  perform  what  he  accepted  as  a  duty  to  the  country. 

Cleveland's  defeat  in  1888  was  accepted  by  many  of  the  Dem- 
ocratic leaders  as  finally  disposing  of  him  as  a  national  factor 
in  the  Democratic  party.  They  did  not  love  him  because,  while 
he  was  an  earnest  Democratic  partisan  within  his  own  perceived 
lines  of  duty,  he  did  not  enthuse  over  the  clamor  of  Democrats 
who  importuned  him  for  the  spoils  of  power.  Another  instance 
of  his  devotion  to  his  convictions  was  given  during  his  retire- 
ment, when  the  free  silver  issue  was  running  away  with  his  party. 
He  wrote  and  published  a  thoroughly  frank  letter  antagonizing 
the  free  silver  theory,  that  at  once  eliminated  him  from  the  list 
of  Presidential  candidates  in  the  estimation  of  a  large  portion 
of  the  Democratic  party  that  was  distempered  by  the  cheap- 
money  policy;  but  when  the  great  crisis  came,  in  1892,  and  the 
Democratic  party  had  to  choose  its  leader  and  its  flag,  the  Dem- 
ocratic leaders  were  compelled  by  the  overwhelming  sentiment 
of  the  Democratic  people  to  assent  to  his  third  nomination. 

I  never  saw  a  more  desperate  contest  than  was  witnessed  in 
the  Chicago  convention  of  that  year.  It  was  a  fearfully  discord- 
ant and  almost  riotously  belligerent  body.  Bourke  Cockran's 
speech  against  Cleveland  is  immortal  in  our  political  history. 
It  is  worthy  to  be  ranked  among  the  speeches  of  Ingersoll  nom- 
inating Elaine,  Dougherty  nominating  Hancock  and  Conkling 
nominating  Grant,  and  it  was  cheered  to  the  echo  by  the  des- 
perately determined  opponents  of  Cleveland.  Not  only  Tam- 
many but  the  entire  New  York  delegation  presumed  to  repre- 
sent the  pivotal  State  of  the  battle  aggressively  and  vindictively 
opposed  Cleveland's  nomination.  An  appeal  to  the  delegates  of 
the  convention  against  Cleveland's  nomination  was  presented, 
signed  by  the  entire  New  York  delegation,  but  after  a  battle 
that  lasted  until  far  on  in  the  morning  hours  a  ballot  was 
reached,  and  Cleveland  was  nominated  on  the  first  roll  call  by  a 
few  votes  more  than  the  necessary  two-thirds. 

Had  Cleveland  failed  in  that  ballot  he  would  have  been  de- 


130  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

feated,  as  many  who  were  compelled  to  vote  for  him  because 
of  the  positive  Democratic  sentiment  that  demanded  his  nomina- 
tion, would  gladly  have  deserted  him.  The  temper  of  the  con- 
vention was  shown  by  its  absolute  control  by  his  opponents  in  all 
things  excepting  only  his  own  nomination.  The  candidate  for 
Vice  President  was  nominated  by  his  opponents,  and  the  plat- 
form was  made  specially  objectionable  by  the  same  influences; 
but  with  all  this  Democratic  hostility  the  country  came  to  the 
support  of  Cleveland,  not  because  of  personal  distrust  of  Harri- 
son, but  because  his  party,  that  was  greater  than  himself,  had 
wasted  the  surplus  and  imposed  increased  taxes  upon  the  people. 
A  half-dozen  new  pocket  States  of  the  West,  created  by  Harri- 
son, came  back  with  their  electoral  votes  to  mock  him,  and  the 
cheap-money  sentiment  that  had  become  so  potent  in  both  the 
great  parties  proved  an  aid  rather  than  a  hindrance  to  Cleve- 
land, because  it  divided  the  Republicans  of  the  West.  The  result 
was  his  election  to  a  second  term  by  overwhelming  popular  and 
electoral  majorities. 

Cleveland's  second  Administration  was  simply  a  continuation 
of  the  policy  that  ruled  him  during  his  first  term.  New  ques- 
tions arose  of  the  greatest  importance,  but  he  met  them  all  from 
precisely  the  same  standpoint  and  with  the  same  patriotic  pur- 
pose that  always  distinguished  him  in  his  public  career.  When 
the  new  Congress  met  the  Democrats  had  an  apparent  majority 
in  the  Senate  and  an  overwhelming  majority  in  the  House,  but 
the  Democrats  of  both  branches  were  so  terribly  honeycombed 
with  the  doctrine  of  cheap  money  that  the  nation  was  brought 
to  the  very  verge  of  repudiation.  The  Republicans,  while  less 
disturbed  by  the  free  silver  and  cheap-money  theory,  were  far 
from  united  in  favor  of  maintaining  a  sound  financial  policy.  It 
was  only  with  the  greatest  difficulty  and  after  an  exhaustive  bat- 
tle that  the  bill  was  passed  stopping  the  monthly  purchase  of  sil- 
ver for  free  coinage;  and  when  the  gold  balance  fell  to  a  point 
that  threatened  the  credit  of  the  nation  and  its  greenbacks  it 
was  impossible  to  bring  Congress  to  an  appreciation  of  the 
highest  of  duties  for  the  maintenance  of  the  national  credit. 

Cleveland's  party  was  controlled  in  both  branches  by  the 
cheap-money  sentiment,  but  he  rose  to  the  occasion  and 
promptly  and  emphatically  notified  Congress  that  the  national 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  131 

credit  must  be  maintained.  Fortunately  he  had  authority  to  sell 
bonds  to  maintain  the  gold  reserve,  but  those  bonds  were  pay- 
able in  "coin,"  which  might  be  construed  to  mean  either  silver 
or  gold,  and  the  4  per  cent,  bonds  that  he  was  authorized  to 
issue  would  not  have  been  as  acceptable  on  the  market  as  a  3 
per  cent,  gold  bond.  He  earnestly  appealed  to  Congress  to 
authorize  the  issue  of  gold  bonds  to  maintain  the  national  credit, 
showing  that  if  he  were  compelled  to  sell  4  per  cent,  coin  bonds 
the  loss  to  the  Treasury  in  one  transaction  would  amount  to 
nearly  $20,000,000.  Congress  turned  a  deaf  ear  to  his  appeal, 
and  he  resolutely  maintained  the  credit  of  the  republic  by  selling 
bonds  in  face  of  a  Congress  that  could  be  justly  classed  as  in- 
clined to  repudiation,  and  maintained  the  credit  of  the  country 
in  the  front  rank  of  the  civilized  nations  of  the  world. 

Again,  when  anarchy  came  in  Chicago  and  life  and  property 
became  the  plaything  of  a  mob  inspired  by  organized  anarchists 
who  had  the  sympathy  of  the  Governor  of  the  State,  and  the 
commerce  and  mails  of  the  nation  were  halted  by  violence, 
Cleveland  came  to  the  front,  and  in  a  single  order  of  a  few  lines 
effaced  forever  the  last  dregs  of  State  sovereignty  that  would 
make  the  safety  of  the  commerce  of  the  nation  dependent  upon 
the  power  of  a  State.  It  is  just  what  Harrison  would  have  done, 
but  it  would  have  been  in  accord  with  the  teachings  of  Harri- 
son's party.  Cleveland  did  it  against  the  teachings  of  his  own 
party,  and  established  the  policy  of  supreme  national  authority 
that  can  never  be  departed  from  while  the  republic  lives.  These 
acts  of  Cleveland  were  simply  in  accord  with  the  established 
purposes  of  his  life,  and  he  stands  before  the  country  and  the 
world  today  commanding  the  respect  of  all  good  citizens  for  the 
courage  he  exhibited  in  times  of  severest  trial,  when  the  safety 
of  the  credit  of  the  nation  and  the  protection  of  the  public  peace 
demanded  the  most  heroic  measures  regardless  of  political 
teachings. 

His  attitude  in  the  Venezuela  dispute  with  England  startled 
the  country  like  a  thunder  clap  from  an  unclouded  sky,  and  he 
was  severely  criticised  by  those  who  felt  the  disturbed  business 
conditions  of  the  country;  but  he  reached  a  pacific  adjustment 
in  accordance  with  his  own  convictions  of  the  right,  and  who 
today  does  not  honor  that  feature  of  his  Administration?  Many 


132  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

assumed  that  he  had  precipitated  the  issue  with  England  to  serve 
political  interests,  and  that  the  permanent  tranquillity  of  the  busi- 
ness of  the  country  might  be  very  seriously  affected.  Some 
weeks  before  the  final  solution  of  the  issue  I  was  on  my  way 
South,  to  be  absent  for  a  month  or  more,  and  called  to  see  the 
President,  to  find,  if  possible,  some  reason  for  allaying  the  appre- 
hension that  was  shared  by  all  because  of  the  Venezuela  dis- 
pute. He  spoke  very  frankly  on  the  subject,  not  for  publica- 
tion, and  I  soon  found  that  he  not  only  understood  the  issue 
perfectly  in  all  the  details,  but  that  he  was  absolutely  confident 
from  the  beginning  of  the  peaceful  result  that  was  attained.  He 
assured  me  that  I  could  dismiss  all  distrust  on  the  subject,  but 
could  not  give  publicity  to  the  assurance,  and  I  well  remember 
the  emphasis  with  which  he  added  that  the  peaceful  solution  that 
was  certain  to  be  reached  would  make  the  people  of  both  Eng- 
land and  the  United  States  cherish  greatly  increased  respect  for 
each  other. 

Cleveland  was  the  second  President  who  was  married  while 
an  incumbent  of  the  White  House.  Tyler  became  a  widower  in 
1842,  more  than  a  year  after  he  had  become  President,  and  in 
June,  1844,  during  the  last  year  of  his  Presidency,  he  married 
Miss  Gardiner  in  New  York  City.  Cleveland  was  the  only 
President  married  in  the  White  House,  where,  on  the  2d  of  June, 
1886,  Frances  Folsom,  the  daughter  of  his  old  friend  and  part- 
ner at  the  Buffalo  Bar,  became  his  wife.  She  was  the  youngest 
of  all  the  many  who  have  become  the  first  lady  of  the  land,  being 
some  two  years  younger  than  Betty  Bliss,  the  daughter  of  Gen- 
eral Taylor,  and  she  stands  out  single  and  alone  as  the  one 
woman  who  completed  the  entire  circle  of  womanly  loveliness 
as  mistress  of  the  White  House.  She  was  young,  beautiful,  ac- 
complished and  thoroughly  genial,  and  in  all  her  jenerous  social 
•ntercourse  and  delightful  hospitality  she  has  never  provoked 
criticism.  Today  she  stands  before  the  country  and  the  world 
as  the  model  mother  and  woman  of  the  nation.  In  the  fierce 
campaign  of  1888  I  had  many  opportunities  of  discussing  the 
political  situation  with  Cleveland,  and,  while  he  was  as  nearly 
indifferent  as  possible  to  the  result  so  far  as  it  affected  him 
personally,  I  know  that  the  greatest  sorrow  of  both  the  battle 
and  defeat  were  because  of  the  wounds  the  campaign  defama- 
tion brought  to  "the  dear  little  woman,"  as  he  always  spoke  of 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.          133 

her,  with  his  ordinary,  rather  sober  face,  kindled  with  affection. 
She  was  by  his  side  in  the  White  House  when  the  lightning  bore 
him  the  message  of  defeat  in  November,  1888,  and  while  the 
bright  and  hopeful  eye  was  moistened  by  the  sadness  of  the  dis- 
aster, she  bowed  in  sweet  and  queenly  dignity  to  the  same  om- 
nipotent will  that  four  years  later  reinstated  her  as  the  most 
beloved  first  lady  of  the  land. 


HARRISON'S  VICTORY  AND  DEFEAT. 

Benjamin  Harrison,  the  twenty-third  President  of  the  United 
States,  was  the  second  lineal  descendant  of  a  former  President 
who  succeeded  to  the  Chief  Magistracy  of  the  Republic.  John 
Quincy  Adams,  son  of  ex-President  John  Adams,  who  was  then 
living,  was  elected  President  by  the  House  of  Representatives  in 
1825,  and  his  son,  Charles  Francis  Adams,  narrowly  escaped  be- 
ing the  Liberal  Republican  candidate  for  President  instead  of 
Greeley  in  1872.  He  led  Greeley  on  most  of  the  ballots  until 
the  last,  and  if  nominated  might  have  been  elected,  as  the  revolt 
against  Grant  was  very  powerful;  but  an  overwhelming  reaction 
carne  as  the  election  approached  because  of  the  unceftainty  of 
the  financial  policy  of  Greeley.  Benjamin  Harrison  was  the 
grandson  of  President  William  Henry  Harrison,  who  was  elected 
over  Van  Buren  in  1840,  and  who  died  only  a  little  more  than  a 
month  after  his  inauguration.  John  Scott  Harrison,  the  father 
of  Benjamin  Harrison,  attained  considerable  distinction  in  poli- 
tics, taking  high  rank  as  a  member  of  Congress  from  Ohio,  in 
which  position  he  served  four  years. 

The  Harrisons  were  not  born  to  fortune,  as  the  elder  Harrison 
held  the  position  of  Clerk  of  Courts  of  Cincinnati  when  elected 
to  the  Presidency,  and  Benjamin  in  early  life  worked  with  his 
father  on  the  farm,  enjoying  only  the  scant  educational  advan- 
tages of  the  log  schoolhouse.  By  severe  economy  he  found  his 
way  into  Farmers'  College,  in  Cincinnati,  and,  after  two  years  of 
preparatory  study  there,  he  entered  Miami  University,  at  Ox- 
ford, where  he  graduated  in  1852,  standing  fourth  in  his  class. 
The  strong  attachment  formed  for  Miss  Caroline  L.  Scott  when 
he  was  at  college  resulted  in  his  marriage  when  he  was  a  law 
student,  before  he  attained  his  majority.  In  1854,  one  year  after 
his  marriage,  he  followed  the  star  of  empire  westward,  and  lo- 
cated in  Indianapolis,  then  the  capital  of  a  primitive  Western 
State,  possessing  little  wealth,  but  every  prospect  of  rapid  ad- 
vancement. He  began  housekeeping  in  a  cheap  little  cottage 
(i34) 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  1 35 

without  means  beyond  his  own,  very  scant  earnings,  and  was 
glad  to  receive  a  very  small  salary  to  add  to  his  very  limited  in- 
come by  acting  as  crier  for  the  United  States  Court,  as  few  fees 
in  those  days  /exceeded  a  $5  bill.  He  was  a  tireless  student,  and, 
with  his  strong  intellectual  qualities,  he  rapidly  advanced  at  the 
bar,  but  just  when  he  had  acquired  a  practice  that  gave  him 
some  profit  beyond  his  frugal  living  expenses,  civil  war  came.  In 
1862  he  was  mustered  into  service,  as  second  lieutenant  o>f  the 
Seventieth  Indiana  Volunteers;  one  week  thereafter  he  was 
commissioned  as  captain,  and  before  the  regiment  left  for  the 
field  he  was  commissioned  as  Colonel.  Within  a  year  he 
was  in  command  of  a  brigade,  and  on  the  8th  of  June,  1865, 
he  was  mustered  out  of  service  along  with  his  command. 
He  participated  as  regimental  or  brigade  commander  in  all  of  the 
battles  fought  by  Sherman  in  his  great  campaign  to  Atlanta, 
and  was  part  of  Sherman's  command  that  fell  back  from  Atlanta 
when  Sherman  started  for  the  sea,  thus  enabling  Harrison  to 
command  a  brigade  in  the  battle  of  Nashville.  Later  he  joined 
General  Sherman  in  North  Carolina  in  command  of  a  brigade, 
and  was  present  when  Johnston  surrendered  to  Sherman  on  the 
26th  of  April,  1865.  He  was  breveted  Brigadier  General  "for 
ability  and  manifest  energy  and  gallantry  in  command  of  a  brig- 
ade." Had  Harrison  been  more  of  a  politician  and  less  of  a  sol- 
dier he  would  probably  have  been  promoted  much  more  rapidly, 
as  he  was  admittedly  one  of  the  best  brigade  commanders  in 
Sherman's  army;  but  he  was  as  modest  as  he  was  heroic  and 
skillful,  and  he  was  a  stranger  to  the  sinuous  ways  by  which  less 
competent  and  meritorious  soldiers  were  advanced  to  high  com- 
mands. He  returned  from  the  war  universally  honored  as  one 
of  the  most  gallant  and  illustrious  of  Indiana  soldiers  from  civil 
life. 

Harrison,  like  Cleveland,  was  a  strong  partisan,  but  not  a 
strong  partisan  in  the  sense  in  which  the  term  is  generally  un- 
derstood. He  was  a  very  positive  Republican  in  his  convictions, 
and  there  were  very  few  in  Indiana  on  either  side  in  those  days 
whose  political  convictions  were  not  of  the  most  positive  nature. 
The  political  battles  of  Indiana  not  only  before  the  war,  but  for 
many  years  thereafter,  were  among  the  most  bitter  and  desperate 
witnessed  by  any  State.  Indiana  was  regarded  as  fairly  debat- 
able in  politics,  and  great  leadership  was  developed  on  both 


136  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

sides.  During  the  war  and  until  its  great  issues  were  settled 
Harrison  was  as  emphatic  in  his  political  utterances  as  were  his 
opponents.  Hie  made  his  first  appearance  as  a  political  candidate 
in  1860,  when  he  was  nominated  for  the  office  of  Reporter  of  the 
Supreme  Court  on  the  same  ticket  with  Henry  S.  Lane  for  Gov- 
ernor and  Oliver  P.  Morton  for  Lieutenant  Governor.  It  was 
well  understood  that  if  the  Republicans  succeeded  in  carrying 
the  State  ticket  and  Legislature,  Lane  would  be  elected  to  the 
Senate  and  Morton  succeed  as  Governor,  and  that  programme 
was  carried  out,  as  Lane  was  elected  Senator  practically  without 
opposition,  and  Morton,  one  of  the  ablest  of  all  the  national  Re- 
publican leaders,  became  Governor  of  the  State,  and  after  serv- 
ing two  terms  was  elected  to  the  Senate,  where  he  remained 
until  his  death. 

When  Harrison  went  to  the  field  with  his  regiment  he  ac- 
cepted the  offer  of  some  professional  brethren  to  perform  the 
duties  of  the  office  of  Reporter  in  his  absence,  so  that  the  small 
emoluments  of  the  position  should  go  to  the  payment  of  the  debt 
upon  his  humble  home.  He  had  been  elected  for  the  term  of 
four  years,  but  in  1862  the  Democrats  assumed  that  his  office 
was  vacated  by  his  acceptance  of  a  position  in  the  army,  and 
nominated  a  Democrat  to  succeed  him.  The  Republicans  denied 
that  there  was  any  vacancy  and  presented  no  competitor,  and 
after  the  election  a  Democratic  Supreme  Court  divided  on  party 
lines  and  decided  that  Harrison's  office  was  vacated  by  his  en- 
listment. In  1864  he  was  unanimously  renominated  and  re-elect- 
ed by  a  large  majority,  and  on  his  return  from  the  war  he  served 
out  his  full  term  as  Reporter. 

Harrison  was  not  a  politician  in  taste  or  inclination;  he  loved 
study  and  retirement  and  he  made  little  effort  to  popularize 
himself.  He  was  kind  and  gentle  in  his  intercourse  with  all  who 
came  in  contact  with  him,  but  he  possessed  none  of  the  arts 
which  men  so  often  employ  to  win  popular  favor.  He  believed 
also  in  honest  politics,  and  with  the  political  demoralization  that 
was  inevitable  from  civil  war  Harrison  had  little  sympathy. 
Without  being  in  active  opposition,  he  was  gradually  but  visibly 
estranged  from  the  desperate  and  at  times  revolutionary  meth- 
ods adopted  by  Governor  Morton,  and  he  was  not  regarded  as 
in  the  line  of  political  promotion;  but  in  1876,  when  the  domi- 
nant power  of  the  party  had  presented  Godlove  S.  Orth  as  the 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  I$7 

candidate  for  Governor,  whose  political  record  provoked  severe 
and  just  criticism,  and  finally  compelled  his  retirement  from  the 
ticket,  it  became  a  necessity  for  the  leaders  to  present  a  candi- 
date in  his  stead  whose  hands  were  so  clean  that  none  could 
question  his  integrity.  With  one  accord  the  despairing  leaders 
turned  to  Harrison  and  summoned  him  to  take  the  head  of  the 
ticket  with  the  hope  of  saving  the  party  from  defeat.  Harrison, 
ever  obedient  to  the  call  of  duty,,  accepted  the  nomination  and 
made  the  contest  one  of  the  memorable  struggles  which  so*  often 
convulsed  that  State.  He  was  little  known  to  the  people  per- 
sonally, as  he  had  rarely  been  among  them  on  public  occasions, 
and  he  had  been  proclaimed  a  kid-gloved  aristocrat,  thus  sharply 
defining  the  contrast  between  Harrison  and  his  competitor,  who 
was  then  a  Democratic  Congressman  known  as  "Blue  Jeans" 
Williams,  and  who  represented  the  farming  class  and  possessed 
great  ability  and  shrewdness  as  a  political  leader. 

The  political  tide  was  against  the  Republicans,  and  Harrison 
was  defeated  in  October,  although  leading  his  party  vote,  and 
in  November  the  State  was  carried  for  Tilden  against  Hayes. 
Although  defeated  as  a  candidate  for  Governor,  all  appreciated 
the  fact  that  he  had  fallen  with  his  face  to  the  foe,  and  after  hav- 
ing made  a  battle  royal  for  his  cause,  the  Republican  people 
of  the  State  had  learned  to  appreciate  the  able  Republican  cham- 
pion who  had  been  quietly  shelved  for  many  years.  Four  years 
later,  when  the  Republicans  regained  the  State  and  carried  the 
Legislature,  Harrison  was  elected  to  the  Senate  practically  with- 
out a  contest.  There  were  plenty  who  desired  his  defeat  even 
beyond  those  who  coveted  the  place,  but  the  Republican  senti- 
ment of  the  State  was  so  overwhelmingly  in  favor  of  Harrison 
that  all  had  to  bow.  As  a  Senator  he  was  always  dignified  and 
able  in  discussion,  but  made  little  effort  to  win  the  favor  of  his 
associates  beyond  an  unfaltering  devotion  to  his  public  duties. 
It  was  a  notable  fact  that  in  1888,  when  he  was  nominated  for  the 
Presidency,  he  was  not  heartily  supported  by  a  majority  of  his 
Republican  associates  in  the  Senate,  but  all  of  them  accorded  to 
him  the  highest  measure  of  ability  and  unblemished  public  and 
private  integrity. 

My  first  meeting  with  Harrison  was  at  the  Republican  Na- 
tional Convention  of  1880,  when  he  was  at  the  head  of  the  In- 
diana delegation.  That  convention  was  exceptionally  able,  and 


138  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

will  be  ever  remembered  in  the  history  of  our  national  politics 
as  the  great  battle  of  giants  marshaled  under  the  banners  of 
Grant  and  Elaine.  In  all  the  many  national  conventions  I  have 
witnessed  I  never  saw  one  so  ably  led.  Logan  spoke  for  Illi- 
nois, Garfield  for  Ohio,  Harrison  for  Indiana,  Conkling  for  New 
York;  and  only  great  men  could  be  heard  in  that,  the  greatest 
political  battle  ever  witnessed  in  a  national  council.  Had  Harri- 
son been  more  magnetic  in  character  it  is  quite  probable  he 
would  have  been  among  the  possibilities  when  it  came  to  the 
question  of  choosing  a  dark  horse  as  a  compromise  candidate. 
During  the  long  sessions  of  the  convention,  lasting  more  than 
a  week,  Harrison  was  heard  on  several  occasions,  and  always 
with  the  profoundest  respect.  It  was  my  business  as  a  news- 
paper man  to  see  the  leaders  of  the  various  delegations  after  the 
close  of  each  day's  battle  to  ascertain  the  probabilities  for  'the 
morrow,  and  my  acquaintance  with  Harrison  ripened  into  the 
warmest  personal  regard  and  very  high  appreciation  of  his  manly 
qualities.  He  was  not  an  orator,  like  Blaine  or  Garfield,  but  he 
was  a  disputant  of  masterly  ability,  and  always  spoke  directly  to 
the  point  with  resistless  logic.  He  took  the  stump  for  Garfield 
in  Indiana,  and  confined  himself  almost  wholly  to  the  local  bat- 
tle, as  he  expected  the  victory  in  the  State  would  make  him  the 
Senator.  Morton  was  then  dead,  and  his  political  methods  had 
largely  perished  with  him.  The  Republicans  of  the  State  were 
marshaled  on  better  political  lines  under  the  lead  of  Harrison, 
and  were  devoted  to  their  new  leadership.  It  was  a  hard  strug- 
gle, but  he  carried  the  State  ticket  and  Legislature,  and  reaped 
the  full  fruition  of  his  battle  by  his  election  to  the  United  States 
Senate. 

Harrison's  name  was  never  presented  to  a  National  Conven- 
tion as  a  candidate  for  the  Presidency  until  1888,  when  he  was 
nominated  as  the  candidate  of  the  party.  The  convention  was 
delayed  in  its  deliberations  by  the  absence  of  Blaine,  who  was 
then  abroad  and  enjoying  a  coaching  tour.  Blaine  had  published 
a  peremptory  declination  before  going  abroad,  but  his  friends 
were  unwilling  to  permit  his  retirement  as  a  Presidential  candi- 
date, and  there  is  little  doubt  that  he  would  have  been  nominated 
had  he  not  finally  cabled  the  peremptory  withdrawal  of  his  name. 
In  doing  that  he  intimated  to  his  friends  his  preference  for  Har- 
rison, and  that  turned  the  tide  at  once  and  gave  Harrison  the 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  139 

victory.  The  convention  met  in  Chicago  on  the  iQth  of  June  and 
was  in  session  for  six  days.  The  prominent  candidates  were 
Sherman,  Gresham,  Depew,  Alger,  Harrison,  Allison,  Elaine, 
Ingalls,  Rusk  and  Phelps,  and  they  are  named  in  the  order  of 
the  strength  they  exhibited  on  the  first  ballot.  There  was  no 
bitterness  in  the  contest  excepting  that  exhibited  by  the  friends 
of  Sherman  against  the  supporters  of  Alger,  who  were  accused 
by  Sherman's  friends  of  corruptly  controlling  a  considerable 
portion  of  the  colored  and  commercial  delegates  from  the  South ; 
and  Sherman  evidently  accepted  Alger  and  his  methods  as  the 
author  of  his  defeat,  as  he  has  crystallized  that  impression  in 
very  plain  language  in  his  personal  recollections  published  a 
short  time  before  his  death. 

The  Pennsylvania  delegation  supported  Sherman  under  the 
leadership  of  Senator  Quay,  and  Governor  Hastings,  then  Adju- 
tant General  of  the  State,  presented  Sherman's  name  to  the  con- 
vention. Although  the  sessions  were  protracted  from  day  to 
day  some  of  them  were  almost  entirely  perfunctory,  as  they  were 
awaiting  definite  information  from  Blaine.  Depew,  the  candi- 
date of  his  own  State,  was  present,  and  mingled  with  the  dele- 
gates and  his  Presidential  competitors,  ever  exhibiting  a  tireless 
fund  of  good  humor.  The  Grangers  were  then  very  powerful 
in  the  West,  and  vindictively  hostile  to  railroad  corporations. 
With  such  conditions  Depew  was  an  impossible  candidate,  which 
he  fully  appreciated  himself,  and  he  frequently  referred  to  it. 
He  was  always  surrounded  by  a  circle  of  friends,  and  on  one 
occasion  I  heard  him  questioned  by  some  of  them  as  to  how  he 
expected  to  get  along  with  the  Grangers,  to  which  he  promptly 
replied  that  he  had  made  the  best  terms  he  could  with  them,  as 
he  had  promised  them  that  the  railroads  would  leave  the  farmers 
their  fences,  and  he  thought  that  ought  to  be  an,  acceptable  com- 
promise. 

It  was  evident  from  the  start  that  with  Alger  commanding 
over  100  votes  and  bitterly  hostile  to  Sherman,  the  nomination 
of  Sherman  could  not  be  accomplished,  and  after  four  days  of 
waiting  the  final  answer  from  Blaine  was  received.  In  a  confer- 
ence in  which  Depew  was  the  leading  factor,  it  was  decided  to 
unite  on  Harrison.  Just  what  Blaine  cabled  to  his  friends  may 
never  be  made  public,  but  it  is  known  that  from  the  time  his 
final  advices  were  received  the  action  of  the  convention  was  defi- 


140  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

nitely  determined.  Harrison  started  with  80  votes  on  the  first 
ballot,  and  following  with  91  on  the  second  and  94  on  the  third, 
but  on  the  fourth,  when  new  combinations  had  been  made  by  the 
absolute  retirement  of  Elaine,  he  leaped  up  to  217.  On  the 
fifth  ballot  he  fell  off  four  votes,  but  on  the  sixth  he  rose  to  231, 
on  the  seventh  to  278  and  on  the  eighth  554,  which  was  followed 
by  his  unanimous  nomination. 

The  nomination  of  Harrison  was  received  by  his  party  in  much 
the  same  spirit  that  the  nomination  of  Cleveland  was  received 
by  the  Democrats.  Neither  was  a  favorite  with  the  aggressive 
spoilsmen  of  his  party;  both  were  very  positive  in  their  devotion 
to  the  political  faith;  both  were  sincere  in  their  support  of  civil 
service  reform  and  had  little  sympathy  with  politicians  who  made 
politics  a  trade  for  the  purpose  of  gathering  the  spoils  of  power, 
but  both  commanded  unbounded  respect  from  political  friends 
and  foes,  and  neither  had  the  advantage  of  the  other  in  the 
ephemeral  popularity  that  public  men  at  times  achieve  by  the 
studied  arts  of  the  politician.  Harrison  had  made  few  speeches 
in  the  Senate,  and  none  of  them  exhibited  any  of  the  dash  and 
magnetism  that  Elaine  could  throw  into  a  Congressional  dispute. 
He  never  made  speeches  for  popular  effect  until  after  his  nomi- 
nation for  the  Presidency,  and  then  he  developed  into  one  of  the 
most  sagacious  and  effective  speech-makers  ever  heard  in  our 
political  conflicts. 

Immediately  after  his  nomination  he  was  waited  upon  by  a 
large  delegation  at  his  home  in  Indianapolis,  and  to  the  sur- 
prise of  the  public  generally,  and  somewhat  to  the  dismay  of  his 
friends,  he  launched  out  in  the  political  sea  in  the  most  fearless 
manner.  That  delegation  was  followed  almost  daily  by  other 
delegations,  and  it  was  soon  found  that  it  was  his  regulation 
duty  to  deliver  a  speech  at  least  six  times  a  week.  He  was  at 
once  counseled  by  some  of  the  old  leaders,  who  feared  the  effect 
of  much  speaking  by  a  candidate,  that  he  should  cease  his  off- 
hand public  addresses,  but  he  was  self-reliant,  and  he  very  soon 
convinced  his  party  and  the  country  that  he  was  abundantly  able 
to  meet  every  question  as  it  arose  without  danger  to  his  cause. 
He  delivered  ninety-four  of  these  spontaneous  daily  speeches, 
which  were  given  to  the  public  by  the  Associated  Press  and  read 
every  morning  from  one  end  of  the  country  to  the  other;  and 
before  the  campaign  had  made  much  progress  the  daily  uttter- 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  H1 

ances  of  Harrison  were  looked  for  by  his  friends  not  with  anx- 
iety, but  as  one  of  the  pleasurable  enjoyments  of  the  day.  These 
utterances  were  doubtless  carefully  revised  before  given  to  the 
public,  but  Harrison  proved  that  his  speeches  needed  little  re- 
vision, and  he  finally  became  known  as  one  of  the  safest  and 
ablest  of  the  public  speakers  of  the  nation.  Later,  when  he  had 
been  two  years  in  the  Presidency,  he  made  a  journey  to  the  Pa- 
cific coast  and  back,  during  which  he  delivered  140  addresses, 
all  of  which  were  fresh,  instructive,  patriotic  and  entirely  free 
from  partisanship.  They  have  never  been  equaled  either  before 
or  since  by  any  President,  with  the  exception  of  the  recent 
speeches  of  the  late  President  McKinley  when  he  took  nearly 
the  same  journey.  The  deliverances  of  these  two  Presidents, 
speaking  in  the  centres  of  population  from  the  Eastern  to  the 
Western  sea,  will  ever  be  regarded  as  the  choicest  exhibitions 
of  American  statesmanship. 

The  campaign  of  1888  was  one  of  the  most  manly  political 
contests  the  nation  has  ever  had.  It  was  free  from  defamation 
and  largely  free  from  the  violent  partisan  expressions  which  are 
so  often  provoked  in  national  struggles.  Cleveland  was  heard 
on  several  occasions  during  the  progress  of  the  battle.  There 
were  no  violent  political  convulsions,  and  no  threats  of  party 
defection  on  either  side,  excepting  the  apprehension  that  Tam- 
many would  betray  Cleveland.  It  was  one  of  those  quiet  battles 
on  regulation  party  lines  that  made  it  clearly  visible  to  the  lead- 
ers of  both  sides  that  the  States  of  New  York  and  Indiana  would 
decide  who  should  be  the  next  President,  and  both  States  were 
contested  with  desperate  earnestness.  Cleveland  was  strong  in 
the  confidence  of  the  business  interests  of  the  country,  and,  not- 
withstanding his  tariff  message,  that  had  multiplied  obstacles  to 
his  success,  it  was  well  known  as  the  time  for  election  ap- 
proached that  only  by  the  most  extraordinary  efforts  could  he 
be  defeated.  Indiana  was  carried  for  Harrison  by  the  most 
complete  and  effective  party  organization  ever  known,  and  New 
York  was  carried  for  Harrison  by  the  defection  of  Tammany. 
The  electoral  vote  of  the  Empire  State  decided  the  Presidency. 
Cleveland  had  a  popular  majority  in  the  country  of  nearly  100,- 
ooo,  and  would  have  been  re-elected  had  he  received  the  elec- 
toral vote  of  his  own  State,  but  Harrison  won  the  State  when  the. 


142  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

Republican  State  ticket  was  defeated,  and  thus  became  Presi- 
dent of  the  United  States. 

Harrison  was  a  sternly  honest  man  alike  in  public  and  private 
life,  and  he  believed  that  his  highest  duty  was  to  country  and 
not  to  party.  Although  a  positive  partisan  in  all  his*  political 
convictions,  he  was  not  in  sympathy  with  the  great  mass  of  ap- 
plicants for  place  that  crowded  the  capital  when  his  election  had 
wrested  the  power  of  the  Government  from  the  Democrats,  who 
were  then  filling  most  of  the  public  offices.  He  did  not  appoint 
Democrats,  but  he  believed  that  candidates  for  public  place 
should  have  some  higher  qualities  than  mere  party  service,  and, 
like  Cleveland,  he  chilled  the  active  party  workers  at  the  early 
stages  of  his  Administration.  Senator  Quay,  who  was  chairman 
of  the  Republican  National  Committee,  and  who  had  employed 
methods  to  accomplish  the  victory  in  New  York  which  he  did 
not  care  to  present  to  the  public,  was  soon  estranged  from  the 
President,  as  his  colleague,  Senator  Cameron,  was  from  the 
start.  Both  of  them  believed  that  the  first  duty  of  a  public  man 
was  to  his  party,  and  in  that  they  logically  differed  from  the 
President.  At  no  time  during  his  Administration  was  he  strong 
with  the  politicians  of  his  party,  but  his  strength  was  with  the 
great  mass  of  conservative  and  business  people  of  the  country. 
Precisely  the  same  influence  re-nominated  Harrison  at  the  Min- 
neapolis Convention  in  1892  which  renominated  Cleveland  at 
Chicago  in  the  same  year.  The  politicians  of  both  parties  would 
have  been  glad  to  defeat  their  candidates  in  the  convention,  but 
the  sentiment  of  the  people  overruled  and  forced  these  nominar 
tions. 

Harrison  had  a  strong  Cabinet  with  Elaine  at  the  head,  but, 
like  Cleveland,  he  was  the  President  himself.  He  gave  great 
care  to  the  details  of  his  official  duties,  and  when  great  inter- 
national questions  arose  he  was  the  master  mind  that  shaped  the 
policy  and  deliverances  of  the  Administration.  This  was  ex- 
hibited in  the  dispute  with  the  Italian  Government  relating  to 
the  New  Orleans  massacre,  the  Chile  affair  and  in  the  Bering 
Sea  controversy.  Blaine  was  an  invalid  during  the  latter  part 
of  his  term  as  Secretary  of  State,  but  the  President  was  thor- 
oughly familiar  with  every  international  issue,  and  no  embar- 
rassment arose  through  Blaine's  inability.  The  only  error  of  his 
Administration  was  the  excessive  protective  features  of  what  was 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY,  143 

known  as  the  McKinley  tariff;  but,  whatever  his  views  may  have 
been  as  to  the  details  of  the  bill,  as  a  President  representing  a 
positive  protection  policy  he  could  not  refuse  his  approval.  It 
proved  to  be  a  great  misfortune  for  the  party,  as  soon  after  its 
passage  the  Republicans  suffered  the  most  overwhelming  defeat 
in  the  history  of  the  party,  and  it  contributed  much  to  the  de- 
feat of  Harrison  in  1892. 

Harrison,  with  all  his  severe  devotion  to  duty  and  his  apparent 
lack  of  genial  welcome  to  visitors,  often  relaxed  from  his  labors 
to  enjoy  the  prattle  of  children  or  the  visits  of  young  people. 
His  wife  was  more  or  less  an  invalid  from  the  time  she  entered 
the  White  House  with  him  until  her  death,  that  occurred  before 
his  term  expired,  and  his  daughter,  Mrs.  McKee,  was  compelled 
to  accept  most  of  the  social  duties  of  the  White  House,  and  made 
her  home  with  her  father.  In  that  family  there  was  one  who 
could  turn  the  President  from  the  soberest  duties,  and  that  was 
"Baby  McKee/'  The  little  one  was  absolute  mistress  of  the  Gov- 
ernment and  household,  and  she  taught  the  world  what  a  vast 
wealth  of  ^ve  for  home  and  household  gods  was  possessed  by 
the  usuallw  severely  dignified  President. 

I  saw  a  very  beautiful  illustration  of  that  feature  of  his  char- 
acter on  one  occasion  several  years  after  he  had  become  Presi- 
dent. On  my  return  from  a  several  weeks  visit  to  the  South  I 
stopped  a  day  in  Washington.  In  the  party  were  two  unusually 
bright  and  beautiful  girls  just  in  the  early  teens.  They  had  trav- 
eled abroad  with  their  parents,  and  were  keen  and  intelligent  ob- 
servers. They  were  very  desirous  to  meet  the  President.  It 
was  a  time  when  Congress  was  not  in  session,  and  the  President 
was  not  greatly  oppressed  with  official  duties,  and  I  had  no  dif- 
ficulty in  getting  an  immediate  audience  for  them.  The  Presi- 
dent at  once  recognized  die  unusual  attractiveness  of  the  young 
girls,  and  he  received  them  with  the  most  generous  welcome, 
and  entertained  them  half  an  hour  or  more,  heartily  sympathiz- 
ing with  and  aiding  their  childish  enthusiasm  over  everything 
about  the  White  House.  Had  he  been  their  youthful  companion 
he  could  not  have  been  more  kind  and  generous  in  his  devotion 
to  their  pleasures.  Encouraged  by  the  cordial  welcome  they  re- 
ceived they  asked  for  his  photograph,  and  he  promptly  respond- 
ed by  furnishing  one  to  each,  with  an  affectionate  expression 
over  his  autograph.  When  they  left  the  White  House  they  had 


144  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

but  one  memory  of  the  President  of  the  United  States,  and  that 
was  of  the  heartiest  and  jolliest  of  good  fellows.  Both  have 
grown  to  womanhood,  with  the  more  sober  appreciation  of  life 
that  follows  the  departure  from  childhood, but  among  their  green 
memories  the  grateful  recollection  of  their  visit  to  President 
Harrison  is  most  imperishable. 

The  social  reign  in  the  White  House  under  President  Harri- 
son was  shadowed  most  of  the  time  by  the  illness  of  his  wife, 
who  was  a  most  cultured  and  thoroughly  accomplished  woman. 
Her  intelligence,  tact  and  generous  qualities  would  have  made 
her  rank  among  the  favorites  of  the  first  ladies  of  the  land,  but 
she  lingered  under  a  painful  malady  until  the  25th  of  October, 
1892,  only  a  few  days  before  the  President  was  defeated  in  his 
contest  for  re-election,  when  she  passed  beyond  the  dark  river. 
Harrison  retired  from  the  Presidency  in  full  mental  and  physical 
vigor,  and  was  among  the  most  distinguished  of  the  lawyers  and 
legal  teachers  of  the  country  until  his  death.  Some  seven  years 
after  the  death  of  his  wife  he  married  Mrs.  Dimmick,  a  niece  of 
the  first  Mrs.  Harrison,  and  a  lady  of  rare  personal  and  intellec- 
tual attractions.  He  lived  in  the  same  quiet  and  unostentatious 
manner  at  his  home  in  Indiana  until  some  time  in  March, 
when  he  was  prostrated  by  a  severe  attack  of  pneumonia.  His 
illness  attracted  the  attention  of  the  whole  country,  and  on  the 
I3th  of  March,  1901,  his  death  was  announced.  No  President 
save  those  who  fell  by  the  hand  of  the  assassin  died  more  la- 
mented by  the  country. 


McKINLEY'S  TRIUMPH  AND  TRAGIC 
DEATH. 

The  tragic  death  of  President  McKinley  adds  a  sad  chapter 
to  the  memories  of  the  White  House.  On  Friday  afternoon, 
September  6,  1901,  the  President,  when  receiving  the  people  in 
the  Temple  of  Music  at  the  Buffalo  Exposition,  was  shot  twice 
by  Leon  F.  Czolgosz,  an  anarchist.  He  promptly  received  the 
best  surgical  care,  and  for  some  days  there  were  hopes  of  his 
recovery,  but  he  died  on  the  I4th  of  September  at  2.15  in  the 
morning.  It  was  once  said  by  an  eminent  diplomat  that  Russia 
was  "a  despotism  tempered  by  assassination/'  but  in  the  period 
of  a  single  generation  three  Presidents  of  the  United  States  have 
fallen  by  the  bullet  of  the  assassin. 

Vice  President  Roosevelt  was  absent  on  a  hunting  expedition 
in  the  Adirondacks  when  the  President's  illness  became  severely 
critical,  but  he  arrived  on  the  day  of  the  President's  death  and 
was  qualified  for  the  succession.  He  had  been  summoned  to  the 
President's  bedside  soon  after  the  President  had  been  shot,  and 
remained  for  several  days ;  and  he  left  only  when  the  bulletins  of 
the  physicians  gave  reasonable  assurance  of  the  President's  re- 
covery. After  taking  the  oath  of  office  President  Roosevelt  in 
a  tremulous  voice  said:  "In  this  hour  of  deep  national  bereave- 
ment I  wish  to  state  that  it  shall  be  my  aim  to  continue  abso- 
lutely unbroken  the  policy  of  President  McKinley  for  the  peace, 
prosperity  and  honor  of  our  beloved  country." 

President  McKinley's  remains  were  taken  to  Washington  and 
lay  in  state  for  a  day  in  the  rotunda  of  the  Capitol,  when  the 
funeral  cortege,  accompanied  by  the  new  President,  proceeded 
to  Canton,  where  they  finally  received  sepulture  amidst  the  tears 
of  the  people.  Although  two  Presidents,  both  greatly  beloved, 
had  fallen  by  the  assassin's  hand  before  McKinley  was  made 
the  victim  of  the  red-handed  murder  of  anarchy,  no  President 
of  the  republic  ever  died  so  universally  lamented  as  William 
McKinley.  Lincoln  stands  high  over  all  in  the  affections  of  the 

(145) 


146  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

country  and  the  world  today,  but  when  he  fell  by  the  bullet  of 
Booth  the  nation  was  engaged  in  fraternal  war,  and  in  the  North 
political  prejudices  and  hatreds  were  intensified  by  sectional 
strife;  and  while  the  assassination  of  Lincoln  was  denounced,  his 
death  did  not  call  out  the  universal  fountains  of  sorrow,  which 
gave  expression  to  the  country's  grief  at  the  fall  of  McKinley. 
Garfield  also  fell  in  the  midst  of  fierce  factional  strife  within 
his  own  political  household  that  estranged  a  large  portion  of  his 
own  party  from  approval  of  his  Administration;  but  McKinley 
was  stricken  down  by  the  anarchist  when  he  had  no  violent  par- 
tisan prejudices  assailing  him,  arid  when  political  friend  and  foe 
united  in  testifying  to  the  beneficent  attributes  of  his  public  and 
private  character.  Even  political  criticism  of  the  chief  features 
of  his  Administration  was  heard  in  the  feeblest  tones,  and 
throughout  the  entire  land  there  was  universal  expression  of  not 
only  respect  but  affection  for  the  President  of  the  Republic. 

It  was  my  fortune  to  know  President  McKinley  somewhat 
intimately  from  the  time  he  appeared  in  Congress,  in  1877,  until 
his  death.  He  was  born  at  Niles,  O.,  on  the  2Qth  of  January, 
1843,  and  in  1861,  when  only  18  years  of  age,  he  .enlisted  as  a 
private  in  the  Twenty-third  Ohio  Volunteers,  and  served  during 
the  entire  war,  retiring  as  brevet  major  for  "gallantry  and  meri- 
torious service/'  He  served  in  the  ranks  as  a  private  for  14 
months,  during  which  period  he  was  frequently  in  the  flame  of 
battle.  After  the  war  he  studied  law,  and  was  admitted  to  the 
Bar  in  1867,  when  he  made  Canton  his  home,  where  he  has  since 
resided.  He  was  seven  times  consecutively  elected  to  Congress. 
The  Democrats  once  decided  to  defeat  him  by  a  gerrymander 
that  made  his  district  Democratic,  but  he  overcame  the  party 
majority,  although  he  lost  his  seat  on  a  contest;  and  two  years 
later,  the  Republicans  having  regained  power  in  the  State,  his 
old  district  was  restored,  from  which  he1  was/  regularly  returned 
by  large  majorities  until  1890,  when  the  Democrats,  having 
again  carried  the  Legislature,  gave  him  a  district  with  over  3000 
Democratic  majority.  Undaunted  by  the  adverse  political  tide 
that  confronted  him,  he  again  became  a  candidate  and  largely 
exceeded  his  party  vote,  but  was  defeated  by  less  than  one-third 
the  normal  Democratic  majority  of  the  district.  One  year  later 
he  was  nominated  for  Governor  and  elected  by  over  21,000,  and 
in  1893  he  was  re-elected  by  over  80,000  majority,  being  the 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  H7 

largest  ever  given  to  a  candidate  for  Governor,  with  the  single 
exception  of  Brough's  majority  over  Vallandigham,  in  1863.  In 
1896,  after  an  earnest  struggle  with  such  competitors  as  Speaker 
Reed,  Governor  Morton  and  others,  he  was  nominated  for  Pres- 
ident on  the  first  ballot  by  more  than  a  two-thirds  vote,  and 
elected  by  a  popular  plurality  of  300,000,  and  received  271  votes 
in  the  Electoral  College  to  176  for  William  J.  Bryan.  He  was 
renominated  in  1900  by  the  unanimous  vote  of  his  party  conven- 
tion on  a  poll  of  the  delegations,  and  Theodore  Roosevelt  was 
nominated  with  him  for  Vice-President,  falling  just  one  short  of 
McKinley's  vote — and  that  one  vote  was  cast  by  Roosevelt  him- 
self. The  result  was  his  re-election  by  the  largest  popular  ma- 
jority ever  given  to  any  Presidential  candidate. 

McKinley  early  became  one  of  the  Republican  leaders  of  na- 
tional fame.  Some  time  before  his  retirement  from  Congress  he 
was  chairman  of  the  Ways  and  Means  Committee,  and  the  au- 
thor of  what  was  known  as  the  McKinley  tariff,  passed  in  1890, 
and  approved  by  President  Harrison.  In  all  his  public  career 
he  was  a  model  of  personal  purity  in  every  relation  of  life,  and 
the  only  imperfection  I  have  ever  heard  imputed  to  him  was  in 
itself  a  virtue.  He  was  a  man  of  the  kindest  and  gentlest  dispo- 
sition, and  it  was  claimed  that  at  times  his  kindly  nature 
would  dominate  his  judgment;  but  none  ever  assumed  that 
when  the  distinct  issue  was  presented  between  the  right  and  the 
wrong  McKinley  ever  faltered.  He  was  a  delightful  companion, 
an  able  and  chivalrous  foe  and  tireless  in  the  performance  of  all 
his  public  duties.  He  has  been  criticised  as  the  author  of  the 
McKinley  tariff,  but  all  who  are  well  advised  on  the  subject 
know  that  his  political  environment  made  it  impossible  for  him  to 
make  any  different  revision  of  our  tariff  laws  with  the  hope  of 
success.  While  that  tariff  made  his  party  suffer  the  most  over- 
whelming defeat  that  has  ever  befallen  it  in  its  history,  it  did  not 
in  any  way  diminish  public  confidence  in  McKinley,  as  is  shown 
by  the  immense  vote  he  received  in  excess  of  his  party  in  his 
hopeless  struggle  for  re-election  in  a  gerrymandered  district, 
and  by  his  election  and  re-election  as  Governor  of  the  State.  I 
met  him  frequently  during  his  career  in  Congress,  and,  like  all 
who  had  the  opportunity  of  personal  intercourse  with  him,  have 
only  the  most  agreeable  recollections  of  him  both  as  a  public 
and  private  character.  He  was  a  positive  partisan,  but,  above  all, 


148  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

he  was  as  patriotic  in  the  discharge  of  his  high  responsible  civil 
duties  as  he  was  when  he  bore  his  musket  in  the  ranks,  offering 
his  life  for  his  country. 

I  was  first  impressed  with  McKinley's  Presidential  possibilities 
while  attending  the  Republican  National  Convention  in  Chicago, 
in  1888.  In  those  days  it  was  common  for  the  chief  editors  of 
leading  journals  to  attend  national  conventions  as  their  own  cor- 
respondents, and  they  usually  formed  very  delightful  supper 
parties  after  the  labors  of  the  day  and  night  had  been  completed. 
Walking  back  to  the  hotel  from  one  of  these  late  gatherings 
with  Murat  Halstead,  then  of  the  Cincinnati  Commercial,  and 
discussing  the  general  outlook  of  the  convention  that  was  then 
very  much  entangled  by  waiting  for  cable  orders  from  Elaine, 
who  was  abroad,  Halstead  suddenly  stopped  and  said:  "Keep 
your  eye  on  William  McKinley,  of  Ohio;  he  will  one  day  be 
President  if  he  lives.  He  is  the  only  man  prominent  among  our 
Republican  leaders  today  who  served  as  a  private  in  the  Union 
army  and  fired  his  musket  in  battle  after  battle.  Generals  are 
popular,  but  a  private  soldier  who  has  reached  the  distinction  of 
McKinley,  with  his  blameless  character  and  record,  must  de- 
velop as  a  very  formidable  candidate  for  the  highest  honors  of 
the  nation." 

McKinley  was  then  discussed  in  private  circles  as  a  possible 
Presidential  candidate,  but  he  was  in  the  convention  himself  at 
the  head  of  the  Ohio  delegation  that  was  instructed  for  Sher- 
man, who  started  in  the  race  with  much  the  largest  vote  of  any 
of  the  many  candidates;  and  McKinley  resented  the  use  of  his 
name  in  the  most  positive  manner  as  involving  perfidy  to  Sher- 
man and  to  the  Republicans  of  his  State.  In  disregard  of  his 
positive  refusal  to  be  considered  a  candidate,  he  received  from  2 
up  to  16  votes  on  various  ballots.  In  like  manner  he  was  voted 
for  in  the  national  convention  of  1892  against  his  personal  pro- 
test delivered  from  the  chair,  as  he  was  President  of  the  body. 
His  name  was  not  placed  in  nomination  before  the  convention, 
but  he  received  182  votes  in  defiance  of  his  refusal  to  permit  the 
use  of  his  name,  and  when  the  vote  of  his  State  was  given  unan- 
imously for  himself  with  the  exception  of  his  own  vote,  he  em- 
phasized his  disapproval  of  it  by  having  his  vote  recorded  for 
Harrison.  After  the  defeat  of  Harrison  in  his  contest  for  re- 
election McKinley  logically  became  one  of  the  leading  candi- 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  149 

dates  for  the  Presidency,  and  the  almost  unprecedented  majority 
he  received  for  re-election  as  Governor  of  Ohio  in  1893  gave 
great  impetus  to  his  cause.  The  history  of  the  campaign  and  its 
result  are  familiar  to  all,  and  need  not  be  elaborated. 

Earnestly  as  I  had  opposed  McKinley 's  economic  views  as 
presented  in  the  tariff  of  1890,  and  while  then  at  variance  with 
him  on  the  general  administrative  policy  of  his  party,  I  ear- 
nestly supported  his  election  over  Mr.  Bryan,  and  The  Times, 
with  which  I  was  then  connected  as  chief  editor,  joined  with  half 
a  score  or  more  prominent  public  journals  ardently  devoted  to 
tariff  reform  in  advocating  his  election.  No  man  ever  received 
a  more  independent  support  outside  of  his  party  than  was  given 
to  McKinley  in  the  contest  of  1896.  Many  of  the  ablest  tariff 
reform  leaders  believed  that  the  question  of  a  sound  financial 
policy  was  paramount,  and  without  importunity  or  condition  of 
any  kind  they  gave  the  victory  to  McKinley.  When  he  was 
successful,  they  asked  no  political  favors  at  his  hands;  indeed, 
as  a  rule,  they  held  that  they  could  not  consistently  accept  of- 
ficial reward  for  the  independent  services  they  had  rendered,  and 
that  brought  me  into  somewhat  close  and  certainly  very  pleas- 
ant relations  with  him  during  his  Presidency.  I  saw  him  many 
times  in  the  White  House,  and  was  always  delighted  at  the  cor- 
dial welcome  he  gave  and  his  frankness  in  the  discussion  of  all 
questions  of  public  interest.  Having  no  personal  ends  to  serve 
and  no  political  friends  to  press  upon  his  favor  he  could  speak 
with  freedom,  and  I  never  visited  Washington  without  enjoying 
the  pleasure  of  a  visit  to  the  President. 

I  never  had  occasion  to  discuss  with  him  any  question  with 
earnestness  excepting  several  times  when  I  complained  of  the 
attitude  exhibited  by  the  Navy  Department  toward  Commodore 
Schley.  He  always  spoke  very  kindly  of  Schley,  and  certainly 
he  meant  to  be  both  kind  and  just.  He  gave  Schley  full  credit 
for  his  valor  in  the  naval  battle  of  Santiago,  but  assumed  that  as 
Sampson  was  commander-in-chief  and  at  least  constructively  en- 
gaged in  the  conflict,  he  was  entitled  to  be  promoted  over  his 
second  officer.  He  expressed  doubt  as  to  the  efficiency  of 
Schley's  early  blockade  of  Santiago,  to  which  I  answered  that  if 
Schley  had  been  guilty  of  anything  before  the  battle  of  Santiago 
unworthy  of  a  commander  of  his  rank,  to  criticise  him  after  he 
had  been  permitted  to  remain  and  fight  and  win  the  battle  would 


150  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

be  only  to  criticise  the  President  as  commander-in-chiel  and  the 
Secretary  of  the  Navy  and  Rear  Admiral  Sampson.  In  later  in- 
terviews, after  the  Senate  had  developed  an  overwhelming  ma- 
jority against  the  promotion  of  Sampson  over  Schley,  he  made 
no  complaint  of  the  action  of  the  Senate,  but  adhered  to  his  be- 
lief that  the  commander-in-chief  of  the  squadron  engage'd  in  the 
battle  should  reap  the  highest  honors.  He  said  he  felt  as  kindly 
to  Schley  as  he  did  to  Sampson;  that  he  had  nominated  both  for 
promotion  because  of  that  feeling;  that  he  had  selected  them  as 
representatives  of  the  navy  at  the  most  important  State  dinner  of 
his  Administration  given  to  the  Paris  Peace  Commissioners; 
that  he  had  sent  Sampson  at  the  head  of  a  tribunal  to  take  charge 
of  Cuba  and  superintend  the  retirement  of  the  Spanish  troops, 
and  had  sent  Schley  with  equal  honor  to  Porto  Rico;  that  he  had 
no  sympathy  whatever  with  those  who  sought  to  defame  Schley 
or  to  make  an  issue  between  the  two  naval  commanders,  and  he 
closed  by  saying  that  he  was  prepared  to  have  Schley  assigned  to 
the  command  of  a  squadron.  At  the  last  interview  I  had  with 
him  on  the  subject  he  sent  for  Admiral  Schley  within  an  hour  af- 
ter I  left  him,  and  I  learned  from  the  Admiral,  with  whom  I  dined 
that  evening,  that  he  was  to  be  assigned  to  the  command  of  the 
South  Atlantic  Squadron,  with  the  Brooklyn  as  his  flagship. 

On  one  of  the  occasions  he  inquired  of  me  whether  it  would 
not  be  well  for  Schley  to  ask  for  a  Court  of  Inquiry,  to  which  I 
answered  that  Schley  could  not  do  so  in  justice  to  himself  for  the 
reason  that,  unless  the  Navy  Department  was  overruled,  he 
could  not  get  an  honest  Court.  To  this  the  President  replied 
with  emphasis  that  he  would  see  to  it  himself  that  Schley  should 
have  an  entirely  impartial  Court  if  he  desired  an  inquiry.  I  re- 
member distinctly  that  he  asked  the  question,  "Would  not  Dewey 
do?  Would  not  Watson  do?"  I  said  "Yes."  He  then  added 
that  he  would  permit  no  injustice  to  be  done  to  any  officer  of  the 
American  navy  by  a  Court  of  Inquiry,  and  he  thought  that  I  was 
unjust  in  assuming  that  the  Navy  Department  was  ready  to  be 
a  party  to  injustice  to  Schley.  I  answered  that  if  he  would  look 
at  the  action  of  the  Department  in  ordering  two  subalterns  who 
were  involved  in  a  dispute  (as  was  common  in  both  army  and 
navy)  to  report  to  Captain  Chadwick,  Schley's  bitterest  foe,  to 
ascertain  who  was  right  and  who  was  wrong,  when  they  should 
have  been  sent  to  Captain  Cook,  in  whose  presence  and  hearing 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  151 

the  conversation  occurred  (if  any  conversation  was  held)  and  be- 
fore whom  neither  could  have  lied  or  equivocated,  he  might 
understand  the  disposition  in  navy  circles  to  defame  Schley.  I 
doubt  not  that,  when  the  time  came  for  the  selection  of  the 
Schley  Court,  Dewey  was  made  the  head  of  the  tribunal  because 
the  President  indicated  him  for  that  duty. 

Soon  after  McKinley  entered  the  Presidential  office  he  was 
confronted  by  the  Cuban  troubles  which  ultimately  resulted  in  a 
war  with  Spain.  I  saw  him  many  times  during  the  progress  of 
events  which  led  up  to  the  War,  and  he  was  often  torn  by  con- 
flicting desires.  Like  Lincoln,  he  was  profoundly  averse  to  war, 
and  shuddered  at  the  sacrifice  of  the  lives  of  his  countrymen; 
but  the  wrongs  of  Cuba  became  so  intolerable  and  aroused  the 
country  to  such  a  measure  of  resentment  that  when  the  battle- 
ship Maine  was  blown  up  and  the  lives  of  hundreds  of  our  brave 
sailors  sacrificed  there  was  no  alternative  but  to  accept  the 
arbitrament  of  the  sword  in  behalf  of  humanity  and  justice.  He 
was  reluctant  until  the  last  moment  to  accept  war,  but  when  it 
was  no  longer  possible  to  avoid  it  with  honor  he  entered  into  it 
with  all  the  earnestness  of  his  patriotic  nature.  After  battles  had 
been  fought  and  victories  won  by  both  our  army  and  navy 
he  was  earnestly  for  peace,  and  was  largely  instrumental  himself 
in  effecting  the  preliminary  agreement  that  practically  ended  the 
war.  But  for  the  extraordinary  efforts  of  himself,  his  Cabinet 
and  warm  personal  and  political  supporters  the  country  would 
have  been  involved  in  interminable  complications  at  the  very 
outset  of  the  war.  It  required  all  the  political  sagacity  and  moral 
power  of  the  Government  to  restrain  Congress  from  involving 
us  in  the  recognition  of  the  Cuban  Republic  and  making  us  ac- 
countable to  the  world  for  obligations  entirely  beyond  the  scope 
of  our  humane  purposes  or  our  national  necessities. 

McKinley  was  originally  averse  to  the  acquisition  of  the  Phil- 
ippines, and  at  first  yielded  only  so-  far  as  to  demand  the  cession 
of  Luzon ;  but  the  questions  involved  grew  in  magnitude,  and  the 
President  arose  to  every  new  necessity  until  he  realized  the  fact 
that  only  by  the  possession  of  the  Philippine  archipelago  could 
we  have  peace  and  safety  in  the  Eastern  seas.  At  every  stage  of 
this  great  conflict  he  was  humane  and  generous  in  every  instinct, 
expression  and  action,  and  when  the  war  ended  he  did  every- 
thing within  his  power  to  give  the  largest  measure  of  beneficent 


152  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

attainment  to  the  new  peoples  who  came  into  our  possessions 
with  their  provinces.  He  accepted  the  colonial  policy  with  re- 
luctance, but  finally  believed  that  it  was  the  best  solution  that 
could  be  made  of  the  problem,  in  view  of  the  very  grave  compli- 
cations involving  our  industry  and  trade.  Whatever  he  did  he 
did  because,  after  most  careful  consideration,  he  believed  it  to  be 
the  best  for  both  the  new  provinces  and  the  Republic. 

McKinley  entered  his  second  term  on  the  4th  of  March,  1901, 
with  less  political  bitterness  surviving  the  contest  than  was  ex- 
hibited after  any  great  national  battle  since  the  re-election  of 
Monroe,  in  1820.  He  was  violently  assailed  only  by  a  few  ultra 
anti-imperialists  and  a  circle  of  babbling  anarchists,  and  the 
country  generally  accepted  his  re-election  with  very  positive 
gratification  or  with  the  most  generous  opposing  convictions.  I 
last  saw  him  in  the  White  House  a  short  time  before  he  started 
on  his  journey  to  the  Pacific.  He  seemed  to  be  in  excellent 
health,  although  a  careful  study  of  his  complexion  and  the 
slightly  dimmed  lustre  of  his  eyes  suggested  that  he  was  not  en- 
joying complete  physical  vigor.  He  has  just  reason  to  be  proud 
of  the  condition  in  which  his  first  Administration  had  left  the 
country.  There  was  universal  tranquillity  and  general  employ- 
ment for  well  requited  labor.  Prosperity  spread  its  sunshine  in 
every  channel  of  commerce,  industry  and  trade,  and  the  grave 
national  and  international  problems  which  confronted  him  during 
his  first  Administration  seemed  to  be  solved  with  satisfaction  to 
the  country  and  the  world.  He  spoke  hopefully  and  grandly  of 
the  progress  and  destiny  of  our  free  institutions,  and  seemed 
specially  delighted  that  he  was  about  to  have  an  opportunity  to 
meet  the  people  North  and  South  when  there  were  no  political 
issues  to  hinder  his  free  intercourse  with  them. 

That  journey  was  one  of  the  most  delightful  records  written  in 
the  life  of  McKinley.  He  was  welcomed  with  enthusiastic  ova- 
tions at  every  centre  of  population  by  the  people  who  had  given 
a  majority  of  votes  against  him,  and  his  frequent  addresses 
proved  the  wonderful  intellectual  force  of  the  man.  Nearly  all 
of  the  addresses  he  delivered  were  in  the  South,  as  his  mingling 
with  the  people  was  suddenly  terminated  at  San  Francisco  by 
the  critical  illness  of  his  wife,  compelling  the  Northern  route  to 
be  changed  and  a  return  of  the  party  without  permitting  his  in- 
tercourse with  the  people  that  they  so  ardently  desired.  No 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  153 

man  ever  broadened  out  more  than  William  McKinley  after  he 
reached  the  Presidency,  and  if  he  had  no  other  record  to  leave 
as  a  legacy  to  the  country  than  his  spontaneous  addresses  de- 
livered during  his  journey  to  the  Pacific  coast,  and  his  grandest 
of  all  deliverances  at  the  Pan-American  Exposition  the  day  be- 
fore he  fell  by  the  bullet  of  the  assassin,  he  would  stand  out  in 
American  history  as  among  the  most  lustrous  of  our  statesmen. 
Every  life  has  its  shadows,  and  the  greatest  sorrow  of  the  life 
of  McKinley  was  the  suffering  of  his  frail,  sweet,  angel  wife,  who 
was  never  permitted,  even  by  the  gravest  duties  of  State  to  go 
beyond  his  care.  She  made  heroic  efforts  to>  perform  part  of  the 
social  duties  which  devolve  upon  the  first  lady  of  the  land,  but  it 
was  always  by  a  fearful  strain  upon  her  feeble  vital  powers.  To 
her  the  whole  world  was  centred  in  her  husband,  whose  affection 
for  her  has  crystallized  him  in  history  as  the  ideal  husband,  and 
has  given  the  nation  and  the  world  higher  and  nobler  concep- 
tions of  the  sanctity  of  home.  She  has  unexpectedly  survived  the 
terrible  shock  of  the  murder  of  the  one  for  whom  alone  she  lived, 
and  is  now  lingering  in  the  darkly  clouded  home  at  Canton  until 
"the  shadows  are  a  little  longer  grown," 


THE  SHADOWS  OF  OUR  GREAT 
NATIONAL  CONTESTS. 

Th:e  shadowed  side  of  our  great  national  battles  is  rarely  crys- 
tallized into  history,  although  the  pathway  of  these  great  con- 
flicts is  thickly  strewn  with  the  bones  of  many  who  have  fallen  in 
the  race.  Not  only  have  many  who  felt  that  the  highest  civil 
trust  of  the  world  was  within  their  grasp  been  doomed  to  bitter 
disappointment,  but  many  of  those  who  reached  the  Presidency 
have  retired  with  the  keenest  sorrow  because  they  did  not  com- 
mand the  approval  of  the  people.  In  all  the  varied  conflicts  of 
American  politics  many  scores  who  have  failed  or  fallen  in  the 
struggles  for  the  Presidency  have  drained  the  cup  of  bitterness 
to  the  dregs. 

The  elder  Adams  was  the  first  to  be  crushed  by  defeat  in  his 
contest  for  re-election  in  ijifeo.  He  had  defeated  Jefferson  four 
years  before,  but  Jefferson  was  confident  that  his  success  had 
only  been  delayed,  and  he  bore  himself  manfully.  Adams,  who 
never  regarded  his  defeat  possible,  forgot  his  dignity  and  self- 
respect  and  churlishly  left  the  Presidential  mansion  at  midnight, 
thus  refusing  to  receive  Jefferson  as  his  successor.  Both  lived 
for  a  quarter  of  a  century,  and  time  and  age  tempered  the  asperi- 
ties which  had  so  long  existed  between  two  men  who  stood  side 
by  side  in  presenting  the  Declaration  of  Independence  to  the 
Colonial  Congress. 

One  of  the  most  startling  and  pathetic  illustrations  of  the 
shadowed  side  of  our  Presidential  battles  was  exhibited  in  the 
alternating  success,  defeat  and  disgrace  of  Aaron  Burr.  He  was 
quite  as  able  as  Jefferson,  and  one  of  the  most  accomplished 
politicians  of  his  day.  He  was  sagacious,  tireless  and  unscrupu- 
lous, and  he  saved  Jefferson  in  the  contest  of  1800  by  carrying 
the  Legislature  of  New  York,  his  own  State,  that  chose  the 
Presidential  electors.  At  that  time  the  electors  voted  only  for 
President,  and  the  second  highest  in  the  electoral  college  became 
Vice  President.  Jefferson  was  just  as  distinctly  presented  to  the 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  155 

people  by  his  party  as  its  candidate  for  President  and  Burr  as  its 
candidate  for  Vice  President  as  McKinley  and  Roosevelt  were 
presented  by  the  Philadelphia  Convention.  In  the  electoral 
college  Jefferson  and  Burr  had  each  73  votes  for  President, 
being  a  majority  of  the  electoral  college. 

It  is  strange  that  such  a  contingency  was  not  guarded  against 
by  some  one  of  the  Jefferson  electors,  but  it  was  doubtless  confi- 
dently expected  that  Jefferson  would  in  some  way  receive  more 
votes  than  Burr.  It  was  a  great  opportunity  for  Burr  to  make 
himself  a  more  than  possible  President  in  the  future  by  manfully 
declaring  that  Jefferson  was  elected  President,  but  on  the  face  of 
the  returns  he  was  quite  as  much  entitled  to  the  Presidency  as 
Jefferson,  and  he  permitted,  and  doubtless  aided  in,  a  protracted 
struggle  to  elect  himself.  But  for  the  aggressive  hostility  of 
Hamilton,  aided  by  Bayard,  of  Delaware,  it  is  more  than  possible 
that  Blurr  would  have  been  elected  by  a  combination  of  Federal- 
ists and  Burr  Republicans.  Burr  was  defeated  and  disgraced, 
and  lived  for  many  years  a  wanderer  and  practically  a  man  with- 
out a  country.  He  made  a  desperate  struggle  to  rehabilitate 
himself  by  running  for  Governor  of  New  York,  but  Hamilton 
again  threw  himself  into  the  contest  against  Burr,  and  paid  the 
penalty  soon  after  Burr's  defeat  by  falling  in  a  duel  with  his  an- 
tagonist. No  other  man  in  all  our  political  history  appeared  as 
having  a  life  clouded  without  even  a  silver  lining  such  as  was  the 
destiny  of  Aaron  Burr.  He  was  thwarted  in  every  ambition,  im- 
prisoned and  tried  for  treason,  and  at  times  found  peace  only  by 
living  in  extreme  poverty  abroad,  a  stranger  to  his  own  name, 
and  he  was  smitten  in  all  that  he  loved.  The  death  of  his  grand- 
son, his  only  hope  of  a  future  defender,  was  a  crushing  blow,  and 
soon  thereafter  he  was  called  to  suffer  the  lingering  andi  unspeak- 
able agony  of  the  death  of  his  daughter  and  only  child,  who 
sailed  from  her  Southern  home  to  welcome  him  back  to  the 
country  that  had  rejected  him;  and  never  was  heard  of  more. 

Jefferson  was  re-elected  without  'serious  opposition,  and  the 
election  and  re-election  of  Madison  and  Monroe  brought  no 
serious  shadow  to  the  competitors,  as  they  never  could  reasona- 
bly have  cherished  the  hope  of  success;  but  in  1824,  when  Adams, 
Jackson,  Crawford  and  Clay  were  opponents  for  the  Presidency, 
the  shadows  fell  thickly  and  heavily  upon  the  defeated  candi- 
dates. Adams  was  chosen  by  the  House,  and  four  years  later  he 


156  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

was  defeated  in  a  square  contest  with  Jackson.  Adams  bora  his 
defeat  with  the  philosophy  that  well  befitted  one  of  the  most 
courtly  and  philosophical  of  our  great  Americans.  Soon  after 
his  retirement  he  entered  the  House  from  his  Congressional  dis- 
trict, continued  there  for  nearly  a  score  of  years  and  fell  in  the 
harness  beloved  by  many  and  feared  and  respected  by  all.  Jack- 
son, like  Jefferson,  accepted  his  defeat  as  simply  a  delay  in  ob- 
taining the  Presidential  honors,  and  was  afterward  elected  and 
re-elected  by  large  majorities. 

No  man  suffered  keener  sorrow  because  of  his  repeated  de- 
feats for  the  Presidency  than  did  Henry  Clay.  For  more  than  a 
quarter  of  a  century  he  was  a  hopeful  candidate.  He  was  the 
great  popular  idol  of  his  party,  worshiped  as  no  national  candi- 
date was  ever  worshiped  before  or  since,  and  it  was  only  natural 
that  the  great  aim  of  his  life  was  to  enjoy  the  highest  honors  of 
the  Republic,  on  whose  statesmanship  he  had  shed  the  richest 
lustre.  He  was  a  candidate  before  the  people  in  1824,  again  in 
1832,  again  in  1844,  and  was  a  hopeful  candidate  for  the  nomina- 
tion before  the  Whig  national  convention  of  1848.  He  was  twice 
defeated  in  the  conventions  of  his  party  when  his  successful  com- 
petitors were  elected,  and  in  1844,  when  he  was  nominated  in  the 
Whig  national  convention  amidst  deafening  cheers,  and  sup- 
ported with  an  enthusiasm  that  has  rarely  been  equaled  and 
never  surpassed,  he  was  defeated  by  the  abolition  diversion  of 
New  York.  He  apparently  bore  himself  in  this  terrible  adversity 
with  more  than  Roman  grandeur,  but  he  was  crushed  in  heart 
and  hope,  and  thereafter  the  Clay  over  whose  defeat  untold 
thousands  wept  scalding  tears  was  only  a  shadow  of  himself  in 
the  dark  shadows  that  hung  like  a  pall  over  him.  He  returned 
to  the  Senate,  but  he  could  not  bow  to  the  sceptre  wielded  by 
another,  and  he  was  soon  in  jarring  discord  with  the  Adminis- 
tration of  his  party.  When  the  slavery  issue  arose  after  the 
Mexican  war,  he  girded  up  his  loins  and  again  became  the  pacifi- 
cator that  he  had  been  in  the  earlier  trials  of  the  Republic.  The 
death  of  Taylor  brought  the  Fillmore  Administration,  which  was 
in  harmony  with  his  views,  and  his  final  triumph  in  statesman- 
ship was  the  passage  of  the  Compromise  Measures  of  1850,  which 
utterly  wrecked  his  party,  which  was  practically  unknown  and 
entirely  unfelt  after  the  terrible  defeat  of  1852.  He  lived  only  to 
see  the  head  of  the  Administration  that  he  had  so  ardently  sup- 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  157 

ported  rejected  by  his  party  in  its  national  convention;  but,  be- 
fore the  election  that  obliterated  his  great  party  from  the  list  of 
political  factors  of  the  nation,  his  weary  spirit  found  rest  in  the 
sleep  that  knows  no  awakening. 

Webster  wasted  his  life  away  in  his  rural  home  in  Massachu- 
setts because  of  the  ingratitude  of  the  Republic.  He  had  thrown 
himself  into  the  struggle  for  the  Compromise  Measures  which  he 
believed  saved  the  country  from  civil  strife,  and  confidently  ex- 
pected the  Whig  nomination  for  the  Presidency  in  1852.  He 
knew  that  he  was  regarded  by  the  country  as  the  great  ex- 
pounder of  the  Constitution  and  the  first  in  intellectual  force  in 
our  statesmanship,  and  he  yearned  for  the  appreciative  recogni- 
tion that  an  election  to  the  Presidency  would  give  him.  It  was 
not  only  denied  him,  but  he  was  not  permitted  to  figure  as  a 
formidable  candidate  in  the  convention  that  adopted  as  its  plat- 
form the  Compromise  Measures  to  which  he  had  given  success 
by  his  powerful  support,  and  like  the  captive  eagle  in  gilded  bars 
he  fretted  through  the  crushing  sorrow  of  disappointment  to  re- 
pose beyond  the  dark  river. 

General  Scott  was  a  candidate  for  the  Presidency  before  the 
Whig  convention  of  1839,  of  1848  and  of  1852,  when  he  was 
finally  nominated.  Like  Clay,  he  was  a  prominent  candidate  be- 
fore two  conventions  whose  nominations  for  the  Presidency  were 
confirmed  by  the  people.  His  chief  infirmity  was  his  belief  that 
the  politicians  of  his  party  conspired  to  prevent  the  people  from 
electing  him  to  the  Chief  Magistracy  of  the  nation.  His  auto- 
biography exhibits  this  painful  weakness  on  various  pages.  He 
was  finally  nominated  in  1852,  and  fought  the  last  battle  for  the 
Whig  party  in  our  national  struggles.  His  competitor  was  a 
subordinate  brigadier  from  civil  life  in  Scott's  Mexican  cam- 
paign, and  Scott  believed  that  he  would  be  elected  by  an  over- 
whelming majority.  Even  after  the  disasters  of  the  October 
elections,  which  pointed  unerringly  to  his  defeat,  he  never  for  a 
moment  faltered  in  his  faith  that  the  people  would  rise  above  all 
political  prejudice  and  make  him  President;  and  when  the  final 
blow  came  giving  him  but  two  States  in  the  North  and  but  two 
in  the,  South,  he  was  utterly  crushed  by  the  disaster  that  left  him 
in  the  starless  midnight  of  political  despair.  He  lived  for  more, 
than  a  decade  after  his  defeat,  but  he  was  only  waiting  until  the 
coming  shadows  gathered  into  night. 


158  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

Calhoun  was  once  as  hopeful  a  candidate  for  the  Presidency  as 
was  Clay,  but  he  was  smitten  by  the  omnipotent  power  of  Jack- 
son, who  deposed  him  from  the  Vice  Presidency  with  a  view  of 
giving  Van  Buren  the  succession;  and  thereafter  the  life  of  Cal- 
houn was  one  of  bitter  disappointment  that  doubtless  did  much 
to  make  him  sow  the  dragon-teeth  of  secession  which  later  gave 
such  a  deeply  crimsoned  harvest  in  the  civil  war.  Van  Buren 
was  made  President  in  1836  by  the  power  of  Jackson,  but  in 
1840  he  was  largely  defeated  by  Harrison.  He  philosophically 
accepted  his  defeat,  as  he  was  confident  of  re-election  four  years 
later;  but  when  the  time  came  he  was  doomed  to  disappoint- 
ment, for  while  a  majority  of  the  delegates  in  the  national  con- 
vention voted  for  his  nomination,  it  was  settled  by  the  leaders 
that  a  new  candidate  should  be  chosen,  resulting  in  the  nomina- 
tion of  Polk,  the  first  dark  horse  who  was  named  for  the  Presi- 
dency. His  friends  were  finally  reconciled  to  the  'support  of 
Polk,  and  he  and  they  gave  Polk  the  narrow  victory  he  achieved ; 
but  four  years  later,  when  hope  of  Presidential  honors  had  fled, 
he  became  a  bolting  candidate  of  the  Free  Soil  Democracy,  and 
fell  like  Samson  with  the  columns  of  the  Democratic  temple  fall- 
ing over  him.  He  lived  in  retirement  for  a  number  of  years,  but 
his  greatness  and  power  lingered  only  as  a  memory. 

Fremont  burst  upon  the  horizon  like  a  brilliant  political 
meteor.  New  and  confused  political  conditions  made  him  an 
available  candidate,  and  he  practically  overthrew  the  political 
power  of  the  Democrats  in  the  Northern  States.  I  saw  him  in 
the  midst  of  his  campaign  hopeful  and  sobered  by  his  expected 
new  responsibilities;  but  after  his  defeat  he  was  unknown  as  a 
political  factor,  failed  as  a  commander  in  the  civil  war,  failed  in 
various  great  financial  enterprises,  and  I  lately  saw  the  sequel  to 
his  career  in  the  beautiful  valley  of  Los  Angeles,  where  I  visited 
his  feeble  and  broken  widow,  whose  almost  lustreless  eyes 
brightened  as  I  spoke  of  witnessing  the  nomination  of  her  hus- 
band for  the  Presidency  in  1856,  and  whose  comforts  of  her  own 
home  are  supplied  by  generous  friends. 

Fillmore  was  a  competitor  of  Fremont  and  Buchanan  in  the 
same  contest.  He  had  suffered  keen  disappointment  in  his  fail- 
ure to  be  nominated  over  Scott  in  1852,  but  his  dominating  de- 
sire to  win  the  Presidency  again  made  him  accept  the  nomination 
of  the  third  party  in  1856,  in  which  he  suffered  an  overwhelming 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  159 

defeat,  carrying  the  electoral  vote  of  only  a  single  State.  There- 
after he  lived  in  the  shadows  of  enforced  retirement,  and  was  un- 
known in  the  political  movements  or  statesmanship  of  the  na- 
tion. 

I  first  met  John  C.  Breckenridge  at  a  breakfast  party  very 
soon  after  his  election  to  the  Vice  Presidency,  and  never  studied 
a  public  man  with  greater  interest.  He  was  the  youngest  of  all 
the  Vice  Presidents,  and  fairly  won  his  distinction  by  his  extraor- 
dinary triumphs  in  the  Lexington  Congressional  district.  He 
was  then  one  o>f  the  handsomest  men  I  have  ever  met.  His  ex- 
quisitely cut  face  indicated  extraordinary  individuality,  and  his 
keen  eyes  flashed  with  a  brilliancy  that  is  rarely  witnessed.  He 
was  an  easy,  genial  and  delightful  conversationalist,  and  I  looked 
upon  him  as  altogether  the  most  promising  of  the  public  men  of 
that  day.  He  served  his  term  of  Vice  President,  and  when  he 
left  the  presiding  chair  it  was.  only  to  be  sworn  in  as  a  Senator 
from  Kentucky.  In  1860  he  was  nominated  by  the  Anti-Douglas 
or  Radical  Pro-Slavery  wing  of  the  party,  and  in  the  Southern 
States  he  received  large  majorities  over  Douglas,  and  was  given 
72  votes  in  the  electoral  college  to  12  for  his  Democratic  com- 
petitor. No  man  ever  more  sweetly  dreamed  the  dream  of  reach- 
ing the  Presidency  than  did  John  C.  Breckenridge,  but  when  the 
time  came  his  party  was  broken  on  factional  lines,  and  he  had  to 
bow  to  a  defeat  that  he  knew  was  fatal  to  all  his  hopes.  He 
evidently  had  an  earnest  struggle  with  himself  before  he  cast  his 
lot  with  the  South  in  the  civil  conflict,  as  he  remained  in  the  Sen- 
ate long  after  the  Southern  Senators  had  resigned.  I  have  heard 
his  intimate  friends  in  Lexington  discuss  the  circumstances 
which  led  to  his  leaving  home  and  State  to  join  the  Confederacy. 
They  claim  that  he  would  not  have  done  so  had  it  not  been  that 
he  was  informed  on  credible  authority  that  his  arrest  had  been 
ordered  by  the  Government,  and  he  summarily  fled  to  the  South. 
In  the  Southern  army  he  never  won  distinction  as  a  military 
chieftain,  but  it  is  only  fair  to  say  that  he  had  little  opportunity, 
as  when  he  became  a  commander  the  cause  of  the  South  was 
without  an  army  equal  to  achievement.  He  was  called  to  the 
Cabinet  as  Secretary  of  War,  only  to  witness  the  expiring  agonies 
of  the  Confederate  Government.  He  was  with  General  Johnston 
when  his  army  was  surrendered  to  Sherman  in  North  Carolina, 
and  then,  accepting  his  position  as  that  of  a  man  without  a  coun- 


160  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

try,  he  escaped  to  foreign  lands,  and  later  returned  to  spend  the 
brief  evening  of  his  life  in  the  unbroken  shadows  which  fell  upon 
him. 

Douglas  was  a  competitor  of  Breckenridge  and  Lincoln  in  the 
great  battle  of  1860,  and  he  is  the  one  man  of  all  the  great  politi- 
cal gladiators  in  the  Presidential  arena  who  was  grander  if  pos- 
sible in  defeat  than  he  could  have  been  in  victory.  That  he  was 
disappointed  in  his  ambition  he  did  not  affect  to  conceal,  but  he 
was  strong  and  brave,  and  he  was  one  of  the  first  who  came  to 
the  side  of  Lincoln,  his  old  competitor,  to  point  the  way  for  the 
safety  of  the  Republic.  Had  he  lived  I  doubt  not  that  he  would 
have  been  one  of  the  greatest  of  our  public  men  in  the  most  try- 
ing times  of  our  statesmanship,  but  unfortunately,  he  fell  in  the 
full  vigor  of  his  life,  lamented  by  every  patriotic  heart. 

General  McClellan  was  one  of  those  who  drank  deeply  from 
the  cup  of  sorrow.  There  was  no  more  accomplished  officer  in 
the  army;  no  purer  or  personally  more  blameless  character,  and 
he  is  safely  crystallized  in  our  history  as  our  greatest  military 
organizer;  but  he  fail-ed  to  achieve  success  as  a  military  chieftain, 
was  deprived  of  his  command,  left  on  waiting  orders  for  two 
years  or  more,  and  when  his  party  made  an  earnest  effort  to  vin- 
dicate him  by  his  election  to  the  Presidency,  he  went  down  in 
disastrous  defeat  with  a  popular  majority  against  him  of  over 
400,000  out  of  a  total  vote  of  4,000,000.  He  was  respected  by  all, 
and  beloved  by  his  political  friends ;  but  from  the  day  that  he  was 
called  to.  the  highest  military  position  of  the  nation  until  his  death 
his  life  was  one  continued  disappointment,  as  is  most  painfully 
reflected  in  a  large  volume,  entitled  "McClellan's  Own  Story," 
prepared  by  himself  and  published  soon  after  his  death. 

In  1868  Horatio  Seymour,  then  the  ablest  of  the  Democratic 
leaders,  was  nominated  as  Grant's  opponent  for  the  Presidency 
against  his  earnest  protest.  In  mingled  earnestness  and  pathos 
he  declared  to  the  convention:  "Your  candidate  I  cannot  be." 
He  felt  that  he  was  unequal  to  it  physically,  but  a  combination 
organized  by  Tilden  to  defeat  the  nomination  of  Chase  forced 
the  leadership  upon  Seymour,  and  he  accepted  it  fully  appreciat- 
ing the  fact  that  he  was  offered  as  a  sacrifice  to  maintain  the 
party  organization.  He  was  heard  on  the  stump  during  the 
campaign,  and  his  speeches  wrere  forceful,  dignified  and  impres- 
sive; but  it  was  the  swan  singing  its  sweetest  notes  in  death. 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  l6l 

He  saved  his  own  State  by  a  small  majority  by  methods  which 
were  gravely  questioned  by  his  opponents,  and  he  fell  with  a 
popular  majority  of  300,000  against  him,  and  with  only  80  elec- 
toral votes  to  214  for  Grant.  He  suffered  the  double  sorrow  of 
losing  the  Presidency  and  being  compelled  to  round  out  a  dis- 
tinguished political  career  in  overwhelming  disaster. 

And  who  among  those  living  30  years  ago  does  not  recall  the 
painful  story  of  Horace  Greeley?  I  had  known  him  for  many 
years,  and  loved  him  as  a  brother.  As  his  sincere  friend  I  sought 
to  prevent  his  nomination  at  Cincinnati  because  I  regarded  it  as 
simply  crucifixion,  but  when  he  was  made  a  candidate  I  gave  my 
whole  time  to  aid  in  the  hopeless  effort  for  his  success.  I  know 
of  no  man  of  the  past  whose  life  was  more  sincerely  and  unself- 
ishly devoted  to  the  public  good,  and  especially  to  the  cause  of 
the  lowly  and  oppressed.  He  did  not  thirst  for  power,  for  he  had 
little  regard  for  the  usually  empty  honors  of  office,  but  I  never 
knew  a  man  who  more  earnestly  yearned  for  the  approval  of  his 
countrymen.  When  his  defeat  came  he  was  already  greatly  -en- 
feebled by  his  tireless  devotion  to  his  wife,  who  died1  but  a  few 
days  before  the  fateful  election;  and  stricken  in  his  dearest  af- 
fections and  in  all  his  hopes  of  usefulness,  his  great  mind,  that 
had  once  taught  through  The  Tribune  with  more  power  than 
that  of  the  President,  was  shattered  by  the  blow;  and  after  a  few 
fearfully  shadowed  days  in  an  asylum  he  gained  the  peace  of  the 
grave. 

Tilden,  then  the  foremost  of  the  Democratic  leaders,  and  the 
greatest  organizer  the  party  ever  had,  after  an  exhaustive  cam- 
paign resulting  in  his  election  by  a  large  popular  and  electoral 
majority  on  the  face  of  the  returns,  was  dwarfed  into  littleness  in 
the  fierce  struggle  that  resulted  in  the  Electoral  Commission 
and  his  ultimate  defeat.  The  blow  that  fell  upon  him  was  one 
from  which  he  never  rallied.  He  had  friends  devotedly  attached 
to  him,  but  the  cloud  of  his  defeat  shadowed  his  mastery,  and  I 
saw  the  temper  of  the  Democrats  at  the  convention  of  1880  when 
they  treated  his  letter  of  declination  with  little  respect.  The  con- 
test of  1876  dated  the  decline  and  fall  of  his  leadership,  and  the 
honors  and  the  power  of  which  he  dreamed  steadily  passed  away 
from  him.  He  was  practically  unfelt  in  the  later  political  con- 
flicts of  his  life,  and  died  in  the  shadow  of  failure  in  his  greatest 
hopes  and  ambition. 


1 62  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

Hancock,  like  Douglas  in  i860  and  Cleveland  in  1888,  bowed 
to  defeat  with  all  the  dignity  and  courage  of  a  soldier.  I  never 
saw  him  look  more  grand  than  when  he  led  the  military  proces- 
sion at  the  inauguration  of  Garfield,  his  successful  competitor. 
Naturally  he  was  disappointed  at  his  defeat,  as  the  popular  ma- 
jority against  him  was  less  than  10,000  out  of  many  millions,  but 
he  at  once  dismissed  political  ambition,  and  his  pride  in  his  mili- 
tary profession,  in  which  he  had  won  the  highest  distinction,  was 
his  consolation.  There  was  no  visible  shadow  upon  his  life,  and 
he  died  universally  beloved. 

Next  to  Greeley,  Elaine's  political  shadows  were  the  saddest 
which  fell  upon  any  of  our  leading  men  in  the  Presidential  con- 
tests of  the  last  half  century.  He  was  in  his  day  "leader  of  lead- 
ers," and  was  in  closer  sympathy  with  the  vital  elements  of  his 
party  than  any  other  man  since  its  organization.  For  full  20 
years  he  was  a  Presidential  aspirant,  always  hoping  for  success 
and  always  fearing  defeat.  He  was  enthusiastic  in  all  things,  but 
with  all  his  masterful  ambition  to  reach  the  Presidency  he  was 
ever  shadowed  with  the  apprehension  that  he  was  fated  to  failure. 
I  saw  him  after  his  defeat  in  the  Cincinnati  convention  of  1876, 
and  heard  him  speak  with  great  freedom  of  his  attitude  and  his 
hopes,  and  he  said  with  evident  emotion:  "I  am  fated  not  to  be 
President :  I  am  the  Henry  Clay  of  the  Republican  party."  No 
man  had  greater  struggles  and  apparently  greater  opportunities, 
but  he  was  twice  defeated  in  conventions  when  the  party  nominee 
was  successful,  and  afterward  nominated  only  to  lead  his  party  to 
its  first  defeat  since  its  success  of  1860.  Even  when  broken  in 
both  physical  and  mental  vigor,  he  permitted  his  name  to  be  pre- 
sented to  the  Republican  convention  of  1892,  only  to  suffer  a 
humiliating  defeat  that  was  soon  thereafter  forgotten  where 
memory  perishes  with  life. 

Harrison  and  Cleveland  both  won  the  Presidency,  and  both 
suffered  defeats,  but  neither  ever  permitted  a  visible  shadow  to  be 
brought  upon  his  life  by  political  disaster.  Cleveland's  defeat 
after  he  had  served  a  term  was  retrieved  by  his  re-election,  but 
Harrison  retired  after  his  defeat  of  1892  without  hope  of  regain- 
ing the  great  prize  he  had  lost.  Both  these  ex-Presidents  illus- 
trated the  highest  measure  of  dignity  and  fidelity  in  their  official 
trust,  and  the  highest  and  noblest  attributes  of  citizenship  in  de- 
feat and  retirement. 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  163 

Bryan  has  suffered  two  defeats  for  the  Presidency  after  con- 
tests in  which  he  exhibited  unexampled  'energy  and  ability.  In- 
stead of  bowing  to  the  shadows  of  defeat  he  is  today  as  tireless, 
as  aggressive  and  as  hopeful  as  ever  in  his  struggle  for  a  politi- 
cal revolution  that  may  call  him  to  the  highest  civil  trust  of  the 
world. 

Beautiful  and  fragrant  as  are  the  flowers  which  adorn  the 
crown  of  the  Republic,  the  path  to  the  attainment  of  its  honors 
is  fearfully  beset  with  thorns. 


SAM  HOUSTON'S   BRILLIANT  AND 
ROMANTIC  CAREER. 

Sam  Houston  is  the  only  name  by  which  the  man  was  known 
who  was  twice  President  of  one  Republic,  a  national  Senator  in 
two  Republics  and  a  Governor  and  Congressman  from  his  adopt- 
ed State  of  Tennessee,  and  the  simple  story  of  his  life  makes 
romance  pale  before  the  truth  of  history.  Born  in  poverty  in 
Virginia,  March  2,  1793,  his  family  moved  to  Tennessee  when  he 
was  only  13  years  of  age  and  settled  in  the  wilderness  to  rear 
their  log  cabin  home  and  supply  their  frugal  wants  by  tireless  in- 
dustry. Although  denied  educational  advantages  in  his  boyhood, 
he  had  learned  to  read  and  was  a  tireless  student  with  an  un- 
flagging love  for  adventure.  Before  he  reached  manhood  he 
joined  the  Cherokee  Indians  and  lived  with  them  for  several 
years,  but  when  yet  in  his  teens  he  returned  to  Tennessee,  taught 
a  country  school  and  was  enabled  to  take  a  single  session  at 
Maryville  Academy.  Soon  thereafter  he  enlisted  in  the  regular 
army,  served  under  Jackson  in  Indian  warfare  and  suffered  sev- 
eral severe  wounds  in  a  desperate  engagement  with  the  Creeks, 
one  of  which  never  entirely  healed.  He  was  promoted  to  a  lieu- 
tenancy on  Jackson's  recommendation  for  special  gallantry. 

In  1818  he  resigned  his  commission,  was  admitted  to  the  Bar 
and  soon  rose  to  the  Prosecuting  Attorneyship  of  the  Nashville 
district.  In  1820  he  was  elected  to  Congress  by  a  large  majority, 
was  re-selected  two  years  later,  and  in  1827  was  elected  Governor 
of  Tennessee.  While  holding  that  position  and  a  candidate  for 
re-election  in  1829  he  married  Miss  Eliza  Allen,  a  rich  and  ac- 
complished Nashville  lady,  who  had  yielded  to  the  importunities 
of  her  family  to  reject  a  man  to  whom  she  was  sincerely  devoted 
to  accept  the  brilliant  match  of  the  young  and  most  promising 
Governor  of  the  State.  Her  unwillingness  for  the  marriage  was 
in  some  way  betrayed  during  the  day  of  the  wedding,  and  he 
kindly  but  determinedly  forced  from  her  the  confession  that  she 
was  married  against  her  will,  He  at  once  released  her  from  the 
(164) 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  165 

obligation,  left  his  bride  and  office  and  returned  to  his  old 
friends,  the  Cherokee  Indians,  where  he  lived  a  dissolute  life  for 
several  years.  While  with  them  he  was  recognized  as  the  chief 
of  chiefs,  and  in  1832  he  visited  Washington  dressed  in  all  the 
outlandish  garb  of  the  tribe;  but  he  was  kindly  received  by  Presi- 
dent Jackson,  whose  protege  he  had  been  in  both  the  army  and 
politics.  While  with  the  Indians  he  married  a  half-breed  accord- 
ing to  the  Indian  rites,  and  he  proved  his  devotion  by  sending  for 
her  to  join  him  when  he  later  emigrated  to  Texas;  but  she  re- 
fused to  leava  her  tribe,  and  died  a  few  years  thereafter. 

In  1832  Jackson  sent  him  as  a  Commissioner  to  make  treaties 
with  the  Indian  Comanches  in  Texas,  and  to  arrange  for  the 
protection  of  American  settlers.  He  was  thus  located  in  Texas 
when  the  rebellion  finally  took  organized  shape  for  the  independ- 
ence of  that  State  and  he  aided  to  organize  the  civil  government 
at  San  Filipe  de  Austin.  Soon  thereafter  a  convention  of  the 
people  of  the  State  united  in  a  declaration  of  independence,  and 
the  Mexican  army,  5000  strong,  under  the  command  of  Santa 
Anna,  then  Emperor  of  Mexico,  invaded  Texas  to  suppress  the 
insurgents.  The  appalling  Alamo  butchery,  March  6,  1836,  was 
the  first  conflict  between  the  'Mexicans  and  the  insurgents,  and 
the  145  Texans,  including  Crockett,  Bowie  and  Travis,  resisted 
until  the  last  man  was  killed.  A  few  days  later  the  Mexicans 
massacred  220  prisoners  of  war  at  Goliad. 

Houston  was  made  commander-in-chief  of  the  Texan  army, 
and  maneuvered  until  he  got  Santa  Anna  to  the  banks  of  the 
San  Jacinto,  April  21,  1836,  when  he  gave  battle  with  his  743  ill- 
equipped  men  to  double  the  number  of  Mexicans  and  practically 
annihilated  the  opposing  army.  The  battle  cry  of  Houston's 
men  was  "Remember  the  Alamo,"  and  how  effectively  they 
fought  may  be  understood  when  it  is  told  that  out  of  1400  Mexi- 
cans 630  were  killed,  while  only  208  were  wounded  and  most  of 
the  remainder  made  prisoners.  Santa  Anna  escaped  in  disguise, 
but  was  captured  and  Houston  braved  the  universal  demand  of 
his  army  to  massacre  the  man  who  had  commanded  at  Alamo 
and  Goliad,  and  compelled  Santa  Anna  to  an  exchange  of  pris- 
oners and  the  practical  acknowledgment  of  the  independence  of 
Texas.  The  Mexican  Government  repudiated  the  treaty  be- 
cause made  by  Santa  Anna  when  a  prisoner  of  war,  but  while 
threats  were  many  times  made  of  renewing  hostilities,  there  was 


1 66  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

no  further  war  between  Texas  and  Mexico  until  our  Mexican 
war  of  1847  after  the  annexation  of  Texas. 

Houston  was  elected  President  of  the  new  Republic  July  22, 
1836,  receiving  four-fifths  of  the  whole  vote  polled,  and  the  in- 
dependence of  the  Texas  Republic  was  promptly  acknowledged 
by  the  United  States.  Under  the  Constitution  he  was  prohibited 
from  succeeding  himself  in  the  Presidency,  and  at  the  end  of  his 
first  term  he  was  chosen  to  the  Texan  Senate  and  served  there 
until  another  Presidential  term  expired,  when  he  was  re-elected 
practically  without  opposition.  In  1841  he  was  inaugurated  for 
the  second  time,  and  the  same  year  married  Miss  Margaret  M. 
Lea,  of  Alabama,  who  exercised  the  happiest  influences  over  him 
during  the  remainder  of  his  life  and  maintained  his  devoted  at- 
tachment. He  proposed  the  annexation  of  Texas  to  the  United 
States,  but  the  United  States  Senate  first  rejected  it  by  35  to  16, 
when  Houston  avowed  his  purpose  in  the  event  of  the  refusal  of 
annexation  to  the  United  States  to  seek  the  protectorate  of  Eng- 
land or  some  other  foreign  Government.  This  brought  the  an- 
nexation question  to  a  crisis,  and  on  October  14,  1845,  Texas 
was  admitted  as  one  of  the  sovereign  States  of  our  Republic. 
Houston  was  elected  as  one  of  the  first  Senators,  taking  his  seat 
March  4,  1846,  and  he  continued  as  Senator  until  1859,  when  he 
was  defeated  for  re-election,  but  was  chosen  Governor  of  the 
State  the  same  year.  He  was  a  Union  man  of  the  Jackson 
school,  and  he  vetoed  the  resolution  of  the  Texas  Legislature 
calling  a  convention  to  lead  the  State  to  secession;  but  it  was 
passed  over  his  veto  by  a  vote  of  167  to  7,  and  when  he  declined 
to  take  the  oath  of  allegiance  to  the  Confederacy  he  was  deposed 
from  the  Governorship.  He  had  then  reached  the  patriarchal 
age,  but  he  lingered  out  less  than  two  years  in  the  despair  that 
the  disruption  of  his  country  brought  to  him  when  he  welcomed 
the  peace  of  death. 

I  first  saw  Houston  while  attending  the  Whig  National  Con- 
vention as  a  boy  editor  at  Philadelphia  in  1848.  General  Cass, 
the  Democratic  nominee  for  President,  with  a  number  of  dis- 
tinguished supporters,  passed  through  the  city  during  on-e  of  the 
days  of  the  convention,  and  they  were  given  a  grand  ovation. 
Houston,  Benton,  Allen  and  Stevenson  spoke  with  Cass  from 
the  balcony  of  a  hotel  on  Chestnut  street,  above  Sixth,  and  I 
happened  to  be  in  a  good  position  in  the  crowd  to  see  and  hear. 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  167 

I  was  especially  attracted  to  Houston  by  his  magnificent  phy- 
sique and  singularly  strong  Roman  face,  but  I  had  no  oppor- 
tunity to  meet  him  at  that  time.  Several  years  later,  on  entering 
the  car  at  Pittsburg  to  journey  to  Harrisburg,  I  found  Houston 
in  the  same  car  on  his  way  to  Washington,  and  sitting  alone. 
My  enthusiasm  over  his  romantic  and  distinguished  career  led 
me  to  introduce  myself,  and  I  had  a  most  delightful  chat  with 
him  during  the  entire  journey  to  Harrisburg.  He  was  a  fascinat- 
ing conversationalist,  although  it  required  considerable  effort  to 
get  him  to  talk  about  his  own  career,  the  one  thing  in  which  I 
was  most  interested;  but  after  he  got  fairly  started  in  the  history 
of  the  Texas  revolution  that  established  the  Republic,  he  warmed 
up  to  it  and  gave  me  the  entire  story  of  the  inception,  develop- 
ment and  final  success  that  was  attained  at  the  battle  of  San 
Jacinto.  I  remember  that  during  the  journey  he  was  suffering 
from  an  old  wound  that  he  had  received  under  Jackson  in  the 
Creek  war,  and  he  once  stopped  to  bathe  it. 

His  account  of  his  army  was  as  amusing  as  it  was  instructive. 
He  had  only  743  men  all  told,  without  pretense  of  uniform  or 
military  discipline.  They  were  simply  wild  Westerners',  many  of 
them  fugitives  from  the  States,  who  took  refuge  there  because 
they  were  beyond  the  reach  of  extradition  laws,  but  they  had  one 
quality  that  told  fearfully  in  the  battle — they  were  dead  shots  and 
they  always  fired  to  kill.  The  description  of  his  artillery  was 
especially  amusing.  It  consisted  only  of  a  few  mountain  swivels 
strapped  on  the  backs  of  mules,  and  after  firing  one  of  the  guns 
it  took  much  more  time  to  get  the  frightened  and  vicious  mule 
quieted  than  to  reload.  He  spoke  of  the  heroic  efforts  required 
to  save  the  life  of  Santa  Anna  after  he  had  been  captured.  For- 
tunately, the  Mexican  Emperor  was  in  disguise  and  not  recog- 
nized by  the  men  who  captured  him,  or  he  would  have  been  mur- 
dered on  the  spot;  and  when  it  became  known  that  he  was  a 
prisoner  at  headquarters,  his  men  were  vehement  in  the  demand 
that  the  same  mercy  should  be  shown  to  Santa  Anna  that  was 
shown  by  him  and  his  army  at  the  Alamo'  and  Goliad,  where  not 
one  of  the  Texas  insurgents  survived.  He  impressed  me  as  a 
man  of  extraordinary  intellectual  force,  with  little  opportunity 
for  culture,  although  he  was  one  of  the  most  graceful  and  courtly 
gentlemen  on  occasions  requiring  the  exhibition  of  that  side  of 
his  character;  but  his  ordinary  habits  were  unconventional.  The 


1 68  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

slavery  issue  had  then  just  loomed  up  afresh  by  the  repeal  of  the 
Missouri  Compromise,  and  I  was  profoundly  impressed  with  his 
courage  and  patriotism  in  standing  up  as  a  Southern  Senator  and 
opposing  that  measure  because,  as  he  predicted,  it  was  the  open 
door  to  future  fraternal  strife.  He  was  thoroughly  loyal  to  the 
Union,  and  believed  that  slavery  was  its  greatest  peril.  When  I 
bade  him  good-bye  I  felt  that  I  had  never  enjoyed  a  more  enter- 
taining and  instructive  journey  than  the  ride  with  Sam  Houston 
from  Pittsburg  to  Harrisburg. 

I  learned  to  know  him  better  and  to  see  the  inner  qualities  of 
the  man  in  the  winter  of  1858.  A  member  of  my  family  had  ac- 
companied another  lady,  who  spent  much  of  her  time  in  my 
household,  to  Washington  for  a  visit  to  the  lady's  father,  who 
was  then  in  Congress  representing  President  Buchanan's  native 
county.  They  stopped  at  the  Kirkwood,  where  Houston  made 
his  home  and  often  had  a  circle  of  the  more  cultivated  Indians 
about  him,  especially  the  Cherokees.  One  evening  while  the 
ladies  were  in  their  room  dressing  to  attend  a  reception  at  the 
President's,  the  Congressman's  daughter,  who  wore  a  white 
evening  dress  of  combustible  material,  had  left  a  candle  on  the 
floor  at  the  side  of  the  room  that  had  been  used  for  finishing  her 
slippers,  and  after  complie<ting  her  toilet  she  walked  around  the 
room  while  waiting  for  her  friend.  In  doing  so  the  large  hoops 
then  worn  swung  her  dress  out  to  the  candle  and  she  was  instantly 
enveloped  in  flame.  Her  companion  was  suffering  from  cold  and 
fortunately  had  dressed  in  heavy  brocade  silk,  and  was  thus 
saved  in  her  rush  to  rescue  her  friend.  Both  screamed  and  the 
door  was  speedily  broken  in,  and  a  gentleman,  an  entire  stranger 
to  both,  enveloped  the  suffering  lady  in  his  cloak  and  saved  her 
life,  although  she  was  terribly  burned,  and  for  months  she  trem- 
bled in  the  balance  between  life  and  death.  It  was  impossible 
to  remove  her  to  her  home,  in  Chambersburg;  her  companion 
could  not  leave  her,  and  I  spent  a  part  of  every  week  that  could 
be  spared  from  legislative  duties  at  Harrisburg  in  Washington. 

Houston  was  one  of  the  most  gallant  and  chivalrous  of 
men,  and  when  he  heard  of  this  misfortune  to  the  young 
lady,  with  whose  father  he  was  well  acquainted,  he  made 
several  visits  daily  to  see  or  inquire  of  the  invalid.  The  Con- 
gressman whose  daughter  had  thus  been  saved  by  a  stranger 
naturally  poured  out  a  father's  sincerest  gratitude.  After  learning 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  169 

that  it  was  Postmaster  John  N.  Jones,  of  Madison,  Wis.,  who 
was  the  hero  of  the  occasion,  he  begged  to  know  of  his  daugh- 
ter's benefactor  whether  it  was  possible  for  him  to  render  him 
any  service.  Jones  said  that  he  was  simply  on  a  visit  to  Wash- 
ington hoping  to  obtain  his  reappointment  of  Postmaster  of 
Madison,  the  capital  of  Wisconsin,  and  that  he  would  be  in  the 
city  but  a  few  days.  Houston  learned  the  facts,  and  at  once  had 
the  Congressman  introduce  him  to  Jones,  to  whom  he  said: 
'These  young  ladies  can  and  they  must  secure  your  appoint- 
ment." Jones  answered  promptly  that  he  would  not  ask  or  ex- 
pect any  such  return  for  the  service  he  had  accidentally  rendered 
to  an  endangered  lady  that  would  have  been  given  by  anyone; 
but  Houston  made  Jones'  case  his  own,  and,  learning  that  both 
ladies  were  known  to  the  President  and  came  from  his  native 
heath,  insisted  that  the  ladies  should  unite  in  a  note  to  President 
Buchanan  asking  for  the  appointment  of  Jones  as  Postmaster  of 
Madison.  The  Congressman  hesitated  about  having  his  daughter 
placed  in  a  position  that  was  certainly  one  of  great  delicacy,  and 
that  might  be  regarded  by  the  President  as  an  unwarranted  pre- 
sumption, but  Houston  would  have  no  denial,  and  he  drew  up  a 
brief  letter  which  he  requested  them  to  copy  and  sign,  which  they 
did;  and  Houston  (although  not  in  hearty  political  accord  with 
Buchanan),  the  Congressman  and  myself  called  upon  the  Presi- 
dent, to  whom  Houston  presented  the  letter.  The  President,  al- 
ways severely  dignified,  was  kindly  affected  by  this  strange  intru- 
sion in  the  politics  of  his  Administration.  He  knew  and  highly 
esteemed  the  ladies,  and  after  some  reflection  answered  that  Gen- 
eral Cass,  then  Secretary  of  State,  and  the  member  of  the  Cabinet 
from  the  Northwest,  had  another  candidate  for  the  position, 
Editor  E.  A.  Calkins,  whose  appointment  was  practically  set- 
tled, but  he  added  that  he  vould  submit  the  matter  to  General 
Cass  and  hoped  it  might  be  adjusted.  When  the  President  sub- 
mitted the  letter  to  Cass  he  assured  his  Secretary  of  State  that 
the  appointment  that  had  been  determined  upon  should  not  be 
changed  without  his  consent,  adding  that  he  would  be  glad,  How- 
ever, if  Cass  could  see  his  way  clear  to  yield.  When  Cass  learned 
the  circumstances  he  promptly  replied  that  Jones  should  be  ap- 
pointed, and  in  that  way,  and  only  in  that  way,  did  Mr.  Jones 
become  Postmaster  of  the  capital  of  his  State.  He  appreciated 
the  service  rendered  to  him  by  the  ladies,  and  regularly  corres- 


17°  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

ponded  with  them  during  the  remainder  of  their  lives.  Both  died 
17  years  later  within  a  few  months  of  each  other. 

This  circumstance  brought  me  into  very  close  and  delightful 
relations  with  Houston,  as  I  spent  two  or  three  days  of  every 
week  in  Washington  for  some  two  months.  He  was  very  fond 
of  ladies'  society,  and  always  elegant  and  graceful  when  in  their 
presence,  and  he  had  a  party  to  attend  the  theatre  or  a  recep- 
tion nearly  every  night  that  I  spent  in  Washington,  on  which 
occasions  he  always  escorted  the  companion  of  the  invalid,  and 
often  assigned  to  me  an  accomplished  Indian  lady.  During  mO'St 
of  the  time  there  were  a  number  of  Cherokee  ladies  at  the  same 
hotel,  chiefly  or  wholly  daughters  of  chiefs  and  not  one  of  pure 
Indian  blood.  They  were  highly  educated  and  in  every  way  ac- 
complished, and  I  remember  Houston's  favorite  among  them  was 
a  Miss  Pichlin,  who  was  a  most  attractive  and  fascinating  young 
lady  and  thoroughly  refined  and  womanly,  as  I  had  opportunity 
to  learn  by  escorting  her  at  a  number  of  Houston's  social 
occasions. 

Under  the  circumstances  I  could  not  fail  to  be  greatly  at- 
tracted to  Houston  in  1858,  when,  as  the  most  distinguished  of 
all  the  Southern  men  in  Congress,  he  had  the  courage  to  oppose 
the  repeal  of  the  Missouri  Compromise,  to  refuse  to  sign  the 
Southern  address,  and  to  oppose  the  Kansas-Nebraska  policy, 
including  the  Le  Compton  constitution.  He  was  nothing  if  not 
heroic,  and  yet  his  heroism  was  of  a  quiet  and  most  unostenta- 
tious type;  but  when  he  took  his  stand,  dictated  by  his  patriotic 
convictions,  he  was  as  immovable  as  the  rock  of  Gibraltar.  I 
heard  him  many  times  discussing  the  new  phase  of  the  slavery  is.- 
sue  precipitated  by  the  repeal  of  the  Missouri  Compromise,  and 
by  the  savage  efforts  made  to  force  slavery  into  Kansas  and  Ne- 
braska, and  I  distinctly  recall  his  predictions  of  fraternal  war, 
which  were  so  fearfully  realized,  and  which  spread  the  wings  of 
the  angel  of  sorrow  over  the  whole  land,  and  left  vacancy  in  al- 
most every  household  circle.  Like  most  if  not  all  of  our  great 
men,  he  wras  ambitious  to  be  President,  and  he  did  not  conceal  it. 
He  spoke  of  it  with  the  freedom  that  he  would  speak  of  any 
everyd-ay  affair,  but  saw  little  hope  of  attaining  it.  His  one  re- 
gret was  that  there  was  no  Jackson  to  rally  the  Democratic 
party  and  save  the  country.  Jackson  was  his  ideal;  he  had  no 
sympathy  whatever  with  those  who  would  make  slavery  para- 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  171 

mount  to  the  Union  of  the  States,  and  he  seemed  to  be  painfully 
oppressed  by  the  apprehension  that  his  own  State,  that  owed 
more  to  him  than  to  any  score  of  others,  would  desert  him.  He 
had  been  a  candidate  for  Governor  in  1857,  supported  largely  by 
the  American  organization,  and  was  defeated;  but  the  old 
warrior  was  not  conquered,  and  he  declared  his  purpose  to  re- 
new the  battle  for  the  Governorship  in  1859.  He  did  so,  and 
was  elected  over  the  man  who  had  defeated  him  two  years  before, 
but  he  had  that  last  vindication  from  his  people  only  to  place  him 
on  a  higher  pinnacle  and  make  his  fall  the  greater  when  they 
deserted  him. 

He  was  prominently  discussed  as  a  candidate  for  President  in 
1860,  and  the  National  Convention  of  the  Constitutional  Union 
party,  which  met  at  Baltimore,  on  the  Qth  of  May,  was  really 
devised  and  called  by  those  who  expected  to-  make  Houston  the 
candidate  for  President;  but,  before  the  Convention  met,  the  grave 
peril  to  the  Union  presented  by  the  issues  of  that  year  made  the 
Southern  Whigs,  who  were  largely  represented  in  that  body, 
determine  on  Senator  John  Bell,  of  Tennessee,  as  the  strongest 
Union  candidate.  On  the  first  ballot  Houston  was  only  1 1  votes 
behind  Bell;  but,  on  the  second,  Bell  was  nominated  by  a  decided 
majority.  Houston  took  no  active  part  in  the  quadrangular 
Presidential  battle  of  that  year.  He  labored  most  earnestly  as 
Governor  of  that  State  to  strengthen  the  Union  sentiment,  but 
with  the  election  of  Lincoln  came  a  tidal  wave  of  secession  that 
overwhelmed  him.  He  vetoed  the  bill  passed  by  the  Legislature 
calling  a  secession  convention,  but  it  was  passed  over  his  veto 
with  a  yell,  and  by  an  almost  unanimous  vote.  The  convention 
met,  secession  was  adopted,  and  all  State  officers  were  required 
to  take  the  oath  of  allegiance  to  the  Confederacy.  This  the 
grand  old  friend  and  follower  of  Jackson  refused  to  do,  and  his 
great  career  was  ended  by  his  humiliating  displacement  from  the 
office  to  which  the  people  had  called  him,  and,  broken  in  heart 
and  hope,  two  years  later  death  brought  him  the  repose  that 
life  denied  him. 

I  had  never  had  opportunity  to  visit  Texas  until  the  early 
part  of  the  present  year,  and  I  -spent  a  day  in  historic  San 
Antonio,  where  Crockett,  Travis,  Bowie  and  others,  145  in  all, 
deliberately  resolved  to  fight  until  the  last  man  had  fallen,  and 
sealed  the  compact  with  their  lives.  The  Alamo  yet  stands  in 


172  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

the  central  part  of  the  now  beautiful  city,  and  practically  un- 
changed since  the  day  it  was  deeply  crimsoned  with  the  blood  of 
the  Texas  patriots.  There  yet  stands  the  Cathedral  steeple  from 
which  Santa  Anna  observed  his  brutal  murderers  in  their  fiendish 
war,  and  the  old  Alamo,  battered  by  the  storms  of  centuries  and 
unchanged  internally  or  externally,  is  yet  visited  by  liberty-loving 
people  from  every  clime.  It  was  this  terrible  butchery  that 
Houston  so  fearfully  avenged  at  San  Jacinto  only  a  few  weeks 
later,  and  his  name  and  memory  are  inseparably  interwoven  with 
the  grateful  recollections  of  the  patriots  who  died  in  defense 
of  the  freedom  of  their  State.  The  monument  erected  to  the 
victims  of  the  Alamo  tells  the  whole  story  in  the  brief  but  most 
eloquent  sentence:  'Thermopylae  had  her  messengers  of  defeat; 
the  Alamo  had  none/' 


THE  LOUISIANA  LOTTERY  ROBBERY. 

The  story  of  the  birth  and  death  of  the  Louisiana  Lottery  Com- 
pany would  read  like  a  picturesquely  lurid  romance.  It  was  born 
in  the  appalling  floodtide  of  political  debauchery  that  cast  an  inef- 
faceable blot  on  the  escutcheon  of  the  State  of  Louisiana  and  her 
carpet-bag  rule  in  1868,  and  its  convulsive  death  throes  agitated 
the  country  from  centre  to  circumference  for  several  years  before 
its  taking  off.  In  its  creation  and  in  its  costly  and  disastrous 
struggle  to  secure  a  renewal  of  its  life  by  an  extension  of  its 
charter  it  was  inseparably  interwoven  with  the  political  con- 
flicts of  Louisiana;  but  its  desperate  struggle  for  mastery  ex- 
tended into  every  State  and  territory,  and  it  was  strongly 
intrenched  in  the  highest  councils  of  the  nation  by  those  who 
shared  its  lavish  expenditure  for  service  rendered  in  protecting 
its  interests.  It  was  altogether  the  most  colossal  private  specu- 
lative enterprise  in  the  history  of  the  nation,  and  even  with  its 
expenditure  of  millions  annually  to  conciliate  opposition  and  to 
enable  it  to  command  the  tolerance  of  the  country,  all  connected 
with  it  finally  retired  as  multi-millionaires. 

Two  libel  suits  brought  by  Maximilian  A.  Dauphin,  president 
of  the  Louisiana  Lottery  Company,  in  which  I  had  the  honor  of 
being  the  defendant,  brought  me  into  very  intimate  relations 
with  the  movement  for  the  final  suppression  of  the  lottery,  and 
enabled  me  to  render  some  service  in  quickening  the  Con- 
gressional action  that  finally  doomed  the  lottery  to  destruction. 

New  Orleans  with  its  large  Latin  population,  was  long  the 
centre  of  the  lottery  business  of  this  country  even  after  it  Had 
perished  in  all  the  States,  and  the  Havana,  Royal  Saxon,  Ham- 
burg and  other  lotteries  in  foreign  lands  did  a  thriving  business 
in  the  Crescent  City.  It  was  the  success  of  the  foreign  lotteries 
that  induced  John  A.  Morris,  Z.  E.  Simmons  and  C.  H.  Murray 
to  apply  to  the  Louisiana  Legislature  in  1868  for  a  charter  for 
the  Louisiana  State  Lottery  Company.  The  formal  applicants 
to  the  Legislature  were  men  of  straw,  and  when  the  charter  was 

(i73) 


174  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

obtained  it  was  transferred  to  the  men  before  named,  and  with 
the  exception  of  the  transfer  of  the  Simmons  interest  to  Charles 
T.  Howard,  the  real  owners  of  the  enterprise  were  not  changed 
until  it  was  finally  overthrown  in  1893.  The  Legislature  that 
granted  this  charter  is  remembered  as  the  most  reckless  and 
profligate  legislative  body  that  ever  disgraced  the  State.  In 
addition  to  chartering  the  lottery  it  licensed  public  gambling 
houses,  and  gave  protection  to  every  form  of  crime  under  color 
of  law  that  was  able  to  pay  for  its  privilege.  The  people  were 
impoverished  by  war,  and  later  by  the  spoliation  that  attended 
the  new  rule  that  the  war  gave  to  the  South,  and  when  the 
Lottery  Company  offered  the  payment  of  an  annuity  of  $40,000 
a  year  to  a  charity  hospital  it  was  openly  defended  by  a  majority 
of  the  people. 

No  business  enterprise  was  ever  managed  with  greater  skill 
to  disarm  the  criticism  that  a  lottery  enterprise  would  naturally 
provoke.  Generals  Early  and  Beauregard,  two  of  the  very 
prominent  Confederate  Generals  were  each  paid  $10,000  a  year 
to  superintend  the  monthly  drawings.  It  was  simply  a  purchase 
of  their  names  to  inspire  confidence  in  the  integrity  of  the  man- 
agement, and  to  appeal  to  the  cupidity  of  the  poverty-stricken 
people  of  the  South.  The  Lottery  Company  soon  established 
an  immense  business,  and  its  agencies  were  quietly  but  actively 
employed  in  every  part  of  the  country.  It  became  the  con- 
trolling political  power  of  Louisiana.  It  was  a  master  alike  in 
city  and  State,  and  it  was  specially  careful  and  earnest  in  its 
efforts  to  control  the  Courts.  Its  annual  profits  speedily  rose 
up  into  millions,  and  the  shrewd  men  engaged  in  the  enterprise 
well  understood  that  they  must  sooner  or  later  be  antagonized 
by  all  the  power  of  aroused  public  sentiment.  It  employed  the 
ablest  counsel  in  all  the  great  business  centres,  and  paid  them 
liberally  simply  to  stand  as  sentinels  on  the  outposts  to  warn 
against  threatened  danger,  and  to  aid  when  peril  actually  con- 
fronted it;  and  it  paid  double  and  treble  prices  for  advertisements 
in  all  the  leading  newspapers  which  would  accept  them. 

Soon  after  I  had  become  responsibly  connected  with  journal- 
ism in  Philadelphia  I  was  surprised  by  the  repeated  offers  made 
by  agents  of  the  Louisiana  Lottery  Company  to  pay  as  high  as 
quadruple  prices  to  have  advertisements  inserted  in  the  paper 
with  which  I  was  connected.  They  were  uniformly  declined;  but 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  175 

when  I  thus  came  to  understand  the  extent  of  the  business  that 
was  carried  on  in  Philadelphia  alone,  I  found  that  not  less  than 
$50,000  a  year  was  paid  here  for  lottery  advertising,  notwith- 
standing the  law  of  Pennsylvania  that  prohibited  such  advertise- 
ments. I  had  the  question  raised  in  the  Courts,  but  it  was  held*" 
that  our  statute  was  defective,  as  the  penalty  was  imposed  solely 
upon  the  advertiser  and  not  upon  the  publisher.  I  then  framed 
a  bill  making  it  a  penal  offense  for  publishers  as  well  as  adver- 
tisers to  give  publicity  to  lotteries,  and  to  my  surprise  it  was 
earnestly  opposed  by  a  number  of  prominent  men  who  certainly 
were  not  influenced  solely  by  their  regard  for  the  public  interests. 
Several  positive  and  incisive  criticisms  of  the  criminal  lottery 
policy  then  maintained  in  Pennsylvania  appeared  in  the  news- 
paper of  which  I  was  editor,  and  the  best  journals  of  the  State 
were  aroused  to  such  emphatic  expression  on  the  subject  that  the 
Legislature  finally  passed  the  bill  that  made  it  impossible  to 
advertise  lotteries  in  Pennsylvania. 

This  legislation  was  enacted  in  1883,  when  the  managers  of  the 
lottery  company  felt  that  they  were  omnipotent,  and  they  decided 
on  a  policy  of  revenge.  An  action  was  brought  by  Maximilian 
A.  Dauphin,  president  of  the  Louisiana  Lottery  Company, 
against  The  Times,  of  which  I  was  editor,  in  the  United  States 
Circuit  Court  for  the  Eastern  District  of  Pennsylvania,  No.  20, 
of  the  October  session,  1883.  Mr.  Rums  E.  Shapley  appeared 
for  the  newspaper  company,  promptly  filed  a  demurrer  and 
pressed  for  a  hearing  whenever  opportunity  offered.  The  hear- 
ing was  delayed  time  and  again  by  the  plaintiff's  counsel,  and 
was  finally  forced  to  trial  before  Judges  McKennan  and  Butler, 
who,  after  hearing  only  a  part  of  the  argument,  sustained  the 
demurrer,  declaring  that  lottery  dealing  was  a  lawless  occupation 
in  Pennsylvania  and  could  claim  no  protection  from  criticism  in 
accord  with  the  laws  of  the  State  and  nation  which  pronounced 
it  a  crime.  Counsel  for  the  lottery  company  took  an  appeal  to 
the  Supreme  Court  of  the  United  States,  where  in  the  natural 
course  of  hearing  it  would  require  three  years  to  reach  a  final 
judicial  determination. 

In  January,  1885,  I  visited  the  New  Orleans  Exposition.  I 
was  well  acquainted  with  Mr.  Burke,  the  president  of  the  enter- 
prise; had  met  him  many  times  in  Washington  when  he  was 
urging  the  claims  of  the  Exposition  upon  Congress.  He  was 


176  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

then  editor  of  The  Times-Democrat,  one  of  the  leading  journals 
of  the  State.  I  gladly  aided  him  in  my  very  humble  way  in  his  ef- 
forts to  obtain  Congressional  aid,  and  in  January,  1885,  he  wrote 
me  a  very  pressing  letter  urging  me  to  come  and  see  the  Exposi- 
tion, as  he  desired  to  confer  with  me  on  the  question  of  appealing 
to  Congress  for  an  additional  appropriation  of  $300,000.  The  Ex- 
position was  a  failure  financially,  and  was  in  danger  of  collapse. 
I  had  several  times  joined  Mr.  Burke  in  conferring  with  Mr. 
Randall,  then  chairman  of  appropriations,  when  the  first  aid  to 
the  Exposition  was  obtained,  and  he  desired  me  to  make  a  per- 
sonal visit  to  ascertain  the  merits  of  the  enterprise  and  aid  him 
in  getting  additional  relief  from  Congress.  When  I  arrived  at 
New  Orleans  I  was  met  by  a  United  States  Marshal  while  yet  in 
the  car,  and  served  with  a  writ  issued  by  the  United  States  Court 
at  the  suit  of  Maximilian  A.  Dauphin,  president  of  the  Louisiana 
Lottery  Company,  claiming  $100,000  damages  for  libelling  the 
lottery.  The  president  of  the  company  was  so  delighted  with 
his  achievement  of  getting  me  within  the  jurisdiction  of  his 
Courts,  which  he  expected  to  control  absolutely,  that  he  had  the 
fact  of  his  service  of  process  upon  me  given  to  the  Associated 
Press  and  telegraphed  throughout  the  country. 

I  confess  I  was  somewhat  disturbed,  because  I  knew  of  the 
almost  unlimited  power  of  the  Lottery  Company,  extending  even 
to  Courts  and  juries;  and  when  I  arrived  at  the  St.  Charles 
Hotel,  of  which  my  old  friend,  Colonel  Rivers,  was  host,  I  told 
him  of  the  writ  that  was  served  upon  me  and  asked  him  where 
I  could  find  an  able  and  honest  lawyer  who  was  entirely  inde- 
pendent of  the  lottery.  He  said  frankly :  "We  are  all  in  it  here, 
and  I  hardly  know  how  to  advise  you ;  but  there  is  one  man  that 
you  can  trust,  and  that  man  is  Governor  Nichols."  The  Gov- 
ernor came  into  the  hotel  during  the  evening  and  he  exhibited 
great  interest  in  the  case.  He  said  it  was  likely  to  do  them 
great  harm  throughout  the  country,  as  they  were  just  about  to 
make  application  to  Congress  for  an  additional  appropriation  of 
$300,000  to  save  the  Exposition  from  disaster;  but  he  confessed 
that  he  did  not  see  how  it  was  possible  for  me  to  escape  without 
paying  a  round  sum  in  damages  to  the  Lottery  Company;  that 
the  sentiment  of  the  community  was  with  the  lottery;  that  the 
officials  of  the  city,  executive  and  judicial,  were  generally  in 
sympathy  with  them,  and  that  it  would  be  impossible  to  get 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.         1 77 

a  jury  that  would  not  resolve  all  doubts  in  their  favor;  and  he 
finally  concluded  that  I  should  get  an  adjustment  of  the  matter 
on  the  best  basis  I  could.  He  gave  me  the  name  of  Mr.  J.  Mc- 
Connell  as  a  lawyer  whose  ability  and  fidelity  I  could  accept 
without  question,  and  one  of  the  very  few  members  of  the  Bar 
who  could  be  relied  upon  to  conduct  the  case  against  the  Lottery 
Company. 

The  notice  of  the  suit  and  service  of  the  writ  was  published  in 
the  New  Orleans  papers,  and  before  I  had  breakfast  I  was  called 
upon  by  three  prominent  bankers,  not  one  of  whom  I  had  ever 
met  before,  and  all  I  believe  friendly  to  the  Lottery  Company. 
They  stated  that  they  deplored  the  action  of  the  president  of  the 
Lottery  Company;  that  it  was  calculated  to  do  New  Orleans 
great  injury  in  the  North  and  in  Washington,  and  that  they  had 
come  to  offer  any  security  I  might  be  required  to  give  in  the 
action.  I  thanked  them  for  their  kindness  and  informed  them 
that  it  was  a  civil  suit  and  no  security  would  be  required.  I 
should  add  here  that  early  in  the  morning  I  received  a  dispatch 
from  the  late  William  M.  Singerly,  who*  had  seen  the  news  of  the 
service  from  the  writ  in  his  own  paper,  saying:  "$50,000  to'  your 
credit  in  Philadelphia  National  Bank  for  any  security  you  may 
be  required  to  give."  Soon  after  the  committee  of  bankers  had 
gone  a  committee  of  three  lawyers,  all  strangers  to  me,  called  and 
stated  that  the  New  Orleans  Bar  had  instructed  them  to  say  that 
the  suit  brought  against  me  would  be  defended  by  the  Bar  with- 
out cost  to  me.  I  cordially  thanked  them  for  their  kindness, 
and  said  that  I  had  not  yet  determined  what  course  I  would 
adopt  in  answering  the  suit  of  President  Dauphin,  and  that  I 
would  confer  with  them  later  if  their  services  could  be  accepted. 
I  next  called  on  Mr.  McConnell  and  we  went  over  the  case  with 
care.  He  proved  to  be  a  very  able  and  accomplished  lawyer, 
and  rugged  in  his  fidelity  to  any  cause  against  the  Louisiana 
Lottery  Company,  whose  franchise  he  had  opposed  as  a  member 
of  the  Constitutional  Convention.  He  told  me  frankly,  however, 
that  there  seemed  to  be  no  possible  means  of  escape  from  judg- 
ment, as  the  Judges,  the  Marshal  who  draws  the  jurors,  and  the 
community  generally  were  in  sympathy  with  the  Louisiana  Lot- 
tery, which  was  lavish  in  its  beneficent  gifts  to  charity  and  to  the 
public.  I  said  that  I  desired  to  get  the  case  to  the  Supreme 
Court  of  the  United  States,  where  I  was  satisfied  the  charter 


I78  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

could  be  overthrown :  but  his  answer  was  that  they  would  never 
permit  such  an  appeal,  that  there  was  appeal  only  in  cases  of 
judgment  of  $5000  or  more,  and  that  a  verdict  would  be  found 
against  me  something  under  $5000. 

I  had  previously  learned  from  present  Senator  Hawley,  of 
Connecticut,  and  from  ex-Attorney  General  MacVeagh,  the  in- 
side history  of  the  method  by  which  the  Lottery  Company  had 
obtained  its  charter  in  the  amended  constitution.  They  were 
members  of  the  committee  sent  by  President  Hayes  to  Louisiana 
to  advise  in  the  adjustment  of  the  dispute  between  the  Nichols  and 
Packard  Legislatures.  Both  Nichols  and  Packard  were  assum- 
ing to  act  as  Governors,  and  two  Legislatures  were  in  session. 
It  was  the  policy  of  the  Hayes  Administration  to  bring  about 
the  recognition  of  Nichols  as  Governor,  and  to  give  him  a  Legis- 
lature that  would  be  undisputed.  They  found  that  that  could 
be  accomplished  only  by  transferring  from  the  Packard  Legis- 
lature enough  Senators  and  Representatives  whose  elections 
were  undisputed  to  the  Nichols  Legislature  to  give  it  a  quorum 
in  both  branches.  With  the  -execution  of  the  programme  the 
commission  had  nothing  whatever  to  do;  but  those  who  under- 
took to  accomplish  it  found  that  the  only  way  by  which  'enough 
Senators  and  Representatives  could  be  transferred  from  Packard 
to  Nichols  was  to  buy  them  outright  and  at  very  high  prices. 
The  property  people  of  the  city  and  State,  who  had  everything 
involved  in  attaining  an  honest  government,  were  utterly  im- 
poverished and  without  the  means  to  accomplish  the  legislative 
transfer. 

In  this  emergency  the  Louisiana  Lottery  Company  came  to 
the  front  and  proposed  to  pay  whatever  might  be  necessary  to 
accomplish  the  change  of  the  Legislative  authority  to  Nichols, 
provided  the  Democrats  would  give  the  Louisiana  Lottery  Com- 
pany a  charter  in  the  new  Constitution  for  the  period  of  their 
legislative  charter.  Nichols  was  opposed  to  the  whole  lottery 
business,  but  in  their  extremity  the  lottery  proposition  had  to  be 
accepted.  It  was  accepted,  and  the  cost,  amounting  to  nearly 
or  quite  $250,000,  was  paid  by  the  lottery  company,  resulting  in 
Packard  being  left  without  a  quorum  in  either  Senate  or  House 
in  a  very  few  days;  and  his  administration  thus  perished.  The 
people  who  had  made  the  contract  with  the  lottery  company 
carried  it  out  in  good  faith,  although  it  was  bitterly  opposed  by 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  179 

many  members  of  the  convention.  The  charter  to  the  lottery 
company  was  embodied  in  the  Constitution,  giving  it  the  highest 
authority  of  the  State  and  relieving  it  from  the  possibility  of  leg- 
islative repeal. 

I  presented  these  facts  to  my  counsel,  with  abundant  evidence 
to  establish  them,  and  proposed  to  enter  the  plea  of  justification 
in  the  libel  suit  with  a  view  of  reaching  the  Supreme  Court.  He 
advised  me  strongly  against  it  at  first,  because  he  feared  that  we 
could  not  get  to  the  Supreme  Court,  as  the  verdict  against  me 
would  be  less  than  the  amount  that  was  appealable.  I  met  him 
the  next  day  and  he  was  still  in  doubt,  and  I  said  that  I  could 
probably  solve  the  problem  by  making  a  claim  for  malicious 
vexations  and  costly  prosecution  on  the  part  of  the  lottery  com- 
pany. I  showed  him  that  the  very  same  libels  charged  in  that 
case  had  been  charged  in  the  libel  in  the  United  States  Court  in 
Pennsylvania  and  had  been  dismissed  on  demurrer,  and  that 
now,  in  the  same  tribunal  in  another  State,  they  brought  an 
action  for  the  same  alleged  libel  while  the  other  case  was  pend- 
ing on  appeal  in  the  Supreme  Court  of  the  United  States.  He 
admonished  me  that  it  would  be  a  very  costly  and  protracted 
litigation,  to  which  I  answered  that  I  was  prepared  for  that,  as  I 
confidently  -expected  to  make  the  lottery  company  pay  all  ex- 
penses before  we  got  through.  He  said  that  if  I  was  clear  in  my 
own  judgment  as  to  that  mode  of  procedure  he  would  accept  it. 
I  then  directed  him  to  proceed  with  the  plea  of  justification,  and 
he  added  the  plea  in  reconvention,  equivalent  to  our  set  off  in  the 
common-law  States  claiming  $25,000  damages,  as  that  would 
give  the  right  of  appeal  to  the  Supreme  Court  regardless  of  the 
verdict  of  the  jury. 

It  was  an  exceedingly  difficult  and  delicate  plea  to  frame,  in 
view  of  the  fact  that  in  the  State  where  the  alleged  libel  was  pub- 
lished the  lottery  business  was  criminal,  while  in  the  State  of 
Louisiana,  where  the  action  was  brought,  it  had  the  high  sanc- 
tion of  the  Constitution.  I  relieved  Mr.  McConnell  by  stating 
that  I  would  have  the  plea  prepared  in  Philadelphia  by  Mr. 
Shapley,  and  when  I  returned  Mr.  Shapley  framed  the  plea, 
covering  76  pages  of  a  printed  pamphlet,  justifying  the  alleged 
libel,  declaring  that  the  Louisiana  Lottery  had  no  charter,  and 
that  all  its  acts  were  lawless,  and  reciting  the  ground  on  which 
the  $25,000  damages  were  claimed.  Added  to  the  plea  were  the 


I  So  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

statutes  of  every  State  and  Territory  in  the  Union  making  the 
selling  of  lottery  tickets  a  penal  offense,  and  in  accordance  with 
the  practice  of  Louisiana  interrogatories  were  filed  for  President 
Dauphin  to  answer. 

These  interrogatories  were  of  the  most  searching  character, 
and  if  answered  truthfully  would  have  exposed  Dauphin  and  his 
agents  to  prosecution  in  every  State  and  Territory,  in  many  of 
which  the  penalty  was  not  only  fine,  but  imprisonment.  Mr. 
McConnell  promptly  filed  the  answer  and  demanded  speedy  hear- 
ing, as  we  had  all  agreed;  but  from  the  day  that  the  plea  was 
filed  the  lottery  people  saw  that  they  were  in  for  a  fight  to  a 
finish,  and  that  no  matter  what  verdict  was  given  in  the  Court 
below,  it  would  be  appealed  to  the  Supreme  Court  of  the  United 
States,  and  they  knew  that  they  could  not  maintain  the  validity 
of  their  charter.  Twice  the  Judge  of  the  district  postponed  it 
against  our  protest,  and  next  the  Judge  of  the  adjoining  district 
was  called  in  and  he  finally  fixed  the  day  for  the  trial  to  proceed. 
Further  postponement  might  have  been  possible  but  for  the 
fact  that  it  had  become  known  that  Judge  Wood,  the  Supreme 
Court  Judge  of  that  district,  was  likely  to  preside  at  the  trial, 
and  that  ended  all  hope  of  the  manipulation  of  the  case  in  the 
Courts.  I  had  called  on  Senator  Edmunds  and  Senator  Hawley 
on  my  return  from  New  Orleans  soon  after  the  suit  had  been 
brought,  went  over  the  whole  situation  with  them,  and  Senator 
Edmunds  proposed  as  one  measure  of  safety  that  he  would 
specially  request  Judge  Wood  to  preside  at  the  trial,  and  he 
consented  to  do  so. 

This  action  of  the  Lottery  Company  did  more  to  precipitate  its 
final  overthrow  than  any  other  one  cause  outside  of  the  general 
and  growing  prejudice  against  what  was  regarded  as  a  lottery 
swindle.  Two  laws  had  been  enacted  by  Congress  to  restrain  the 
use  of  the  mails  for  lottery  purposes,  but  they  were  practically 
inoperative ;  and  the  fact  that  the  president  of  the  Lottery  Com- 
pany had  brought  an  action  against  the  Postmaster  General, 
claiming  $100,000  damages  for  restraining  his  use  of  the  mails, 
gave  additional  reason  why  there  should  be  more  decisive  legis- 
lation against  this  growing  evil.  The  late  Benjamin  Harris 
Brewster  was  then  Attorney  General,  and  Mr.  Shapley  and  I 
called  upon  him  to  have  him  intervene  on  the  part  of  the  Govern- 
ment and  go  into  the  Supreme  Court  with  us  to  ask  the  advance- 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  iSl 

merit  of  the  appeal  of  the  Lottery  Company  from  the  judgment 
of  the  United  States  Court  in  The  Times  libel  case.  Notice  was 
given  to  ex- Judge  Campbell,  the  immediate  counsel  of  the  Lot- 
tery Company,  that  such  application  would  be  made  and  Attor- 
ney General  Brewster  and  Mr.  Shapley  appeared  in  Court,  the 
Attorney  General  intervening  in  behalf  of  the  Government,  and 
urged  that  the  case  be  advanced,  on  the  ground  that  the  Lottery 
Company  was  interfering  with  the  administration  of  the  laws, 
vexing  the  officers  of  the  Government  with  damage  suits,  and 
insisting  that  there  should  be  a  speedy  and  final  judgment  as  to 
the  rights  of  the  company  under  its  alleged  franchise.  Although 
the  Lottery  Company  was  claiming  $100,000  damages,  it  opposed 
the  advancement  of  its  own  appeal,  and  the  Court,  always  averse 
to  advancing  cases  excepting  under  the  most  imperious  neces- 
sity, refused  the  motion;  but  the  fact  was  brought  out  before  the 
Government  and  Congress  that  the  Louisiana  Lottery  Company 
assumed  to  dominate  not  only  the  press  of  the  country,  but  the 
Government  itself. 

The  Louisiana  case  was  delayed  for  over  a  year,  always  by  the 
plaintiff's  counsel,  and  finally  a  day  was  fixed  for  trial,  and  it 
became  known  that  a  Judge  of  the  Supreme  Court  was  certain 
to  preside.  They  saw  that  they  could  no  longer  manipulate  the 
case,  and  they  saw  also  that  the  agitation  in  Congress  was  grow- 
ing immensely  against  them.  They  decided,  therefore,  that  the 
suit  must  be  stopped,  Two  weeks  before  the  time  fixed  for  trial 
a  gentleman  well  known  in  Philadelphia  as  the  immediate  repre- 
sentative of  the  Lottery  Company  called  upon  me  and  proposed 
to  discontinue  the  case  and  pay  the  costs  if  I  would  agree  not 
to  discuss  the  subject  in  the  columns  of  my  newspaper.  The  an- 
swer was  that  the  columns  of  the  newspaper  could  not  be  in- 
volved in  any  agreement;  that  the  suit  was  a  civil  action, 
brought  by  themselves,  which  they  could  discontinue  at  their 
pleasure  without  consulting  me;  that  under  no  circumstances 
could  I  accept  a  dollar  of  their  money,  but  that  I  should  in  some 
way  proceed  against  them  for  the  costs  which  they  had  imposed 
upon  me.  He  then  asked  me  to  name  the  amount.  I  named  very 
liberal  fees  for  the  counsel  and  the  actual  expenses  for  the  coun- 
sel and  the  actual  expenses  of  depositions,  printing,  etc.,  amount- 
ing in  all  to  $8500,  which  if  paid  by  the  company  before  the  trial, 
would  end  all  legal  controversy  between  us.  Within  twenty- 


1 82  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

four  hours  a  check  was  delivered  for  the  money,  and  my  two 
libel  suits  for  $100,000  each  for  the  Louisiana  Lottery  Company 
were  'ended. 

For  this  early  and  safe  deliverance  from  the  vengeance  of  a 
colossal  organization  that  for  years  had  asserted  its  omnipotence, 
I  am  greatly  indebted  to  Senator  Edmunds,  Senator  Hawley,  late 
Attorney  General  Benjamin  H.  Brewster,  ex-Attorney  General 
Wayne  MacVeagh  and  General  Bingham,  Representative  from 
my  own  Congressional  district,  and  chairman  of  the  Post  Office 
Committee.  The  intervention  of  the  Government  in  my  case 
then  pending  in  the  Supreme  Court  summoned  Congress  to  the 
duty  of  adopting  the  most  aggressive  measures  to  overthrow  this 
terrible  stain  upon  our  Government.  General  Bingham  led  the 
battle  in  the  House,  while  Edmunds  and  Hawley  led  it  in  the 
Senate,  and  the  Lottery  Company  was  finally  driven  from  the 
use  of  the  mails.  More  and  more  stringent  measures  were 
adopted,  finally  excluding  the  transmission;  of  newspapers  which 
contained  lottery  advertisements,  and  when  the  company  finally 
abandoned  the  mails  and  employed  the  express  companies  to 
handle  its  correspondence,  the  Government  again  interposed  its 
strong  arm,  and  compelled  the  express  companies  to  abandon 
the  lawless  traffic. 

Notwithstanding  the  overwhelming  tide  of  retribution  that 
finally  surged  against  the  Lottery  Company,  it  was  unwilling  to 
confess  that  its  omnipotence  was  overthrown.  Its  charter  ob- 
tained in  the  constitution  of  Louisiana  in  1879  distinctly  provided 
that  on  its  expiration  in  1893  it  should  not  be  renewed.  In  the 
face  of  this  positive  contract  with  the  State  that  was  crystallized 
in  the  supreme  law,  and  in  the  face  of  the  irresistible  opposition 
of  both  the  government  and  people  the  Lottery  Company  de- 
cided to  ask  for  a  renewal  of  its  charter,  and  formal  application 
was  made  to  the  Legislature  of  1890  and  millions  of  money  ex- 
pended in  the  fruitless  effort.  When  New  Orleans  was  threat- 
ened with  the  yellow  fever  epidemic  the  Lottery  Company  fur- 
nished the  Board  of  Health  means  to  enforce  quarantine  and  pro- 
tect the  city,  and  when  the  Mississippi  River  overflowed  its  banks 
and  threatened  the  destruction  of  the  city  the  Lottery  Company 
came  to  the  front  and  furnished  the  means  necessary  to  meet  the 
emergency,  without  any  claim  of  restitution.  In  order  to  concil- 
iate business  interests  it  established  large  sugar  refineries, 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  183 

erected  immense  buildings  in  the  city,  and  when  the  application 
was  made  to  the  Legislature  it  embraced  the  payment  of  an  an- 
nuity to  the  State  of  $750,000,  which  was  afterward  increased  to 
a  million,  and  later  to  a  million  and  a  quarter.  It  required  a  two- 
thirds  vote  in  both  branches  to  extend  its  charter  over  the  con- 
stitutional prohibition,  and  after  an  immense  expenditure  of 
money  the  charter  was  carried  in  the  Senate  by  a  single  vote,  and 
that  vote  cast  by  a  Senator  who  was  brought  into  the  chamber 
on  his  death  bed,  and  who  died  soon  thereafter.  In  the  House 
the  measure  was  carried  by  two  majority.  But  when  the  charter 
extension  had  been  carried  by  the  Legislature  it  required  the  ap- 
proval of  the  popular  vote,  as  it  involved  an  amendment  of  the 
constitution;  and  after  a  most  violent  campaign,  in  which  many 
of  the  leading  ministers  and  best  citizens  of  the  State  were  ag- 
gressively arrayed  against  the  Lottery  Company,  it  was  finally 
compelled  to  withdraw  its  proposition  for  an  extended  charter 
from  the  people  and  confess  itself  utterly  defeated,  although  it 
lingered  on  until  the  expiration  of  its  charter  with  its  business 
reduced  to  little  more  than  sustaining  expenses.  When  the  con- 
stitutional limit  of  its  existence  was  reached,  in  1893,  it  became 
only  a  painful  memory  of  the  triumph  and  retribution  of  the  lot- 
tery robbery. 


THOMAS  CORWIN,  THE  GREATEST  OF 
OUR  POPULAR  ORATORS. 

Thomas  Corwin,  of  Ohio,  was  confessed  by  friend  and  foe  as 
the  foremost  popular  orator  of  the  country.  He  was  the  ad- 
mitted leader  of  a  type  of  orators  which  has  perished  by  the  pro- 
gress of  railroads,  telegraphs  and  all  the  other  features  of  ad- 
vanced civilization.  They  grew  up  in  the  sparsely  settled  West- 
ern and  Southwestern  States,  where  the  only  means  of  reaching 
the  people  was  by  mass  meeting.  .  Newspapers  and  schools  were 
rare,  and  all  popular  movements,  political  or  otherwise,  were 
conducted  entirely  by  mass  assemblies;  and  these  conditions  de- 
veloped a  type  of  popular  orators  that  has  made  the  names  of 
men  like  Corwin,  Prentiss  and  others  immortal. 

When  it  is  remembered  that  when  Corwin  first  entered  politics 
as  a  candidate  for  the  Legislature  just  eighty  years  ago  in  Ohio, 
then  called  the  "backwoods,"  letter  postage  between  Philadel- 
phia and  Corwin's  home  was  37^  cents,  and  that  few  of  the 
struggling  pioneers  could  afford  to  spare  the  price  of  a  letter 
from  their  scant  earnings,  the  richly  blessed  people  of  today  can 
in  some  measure  appreciate  the  conditions  which  developed  a 
host  of  popular  orators,  who  were  not  only  great  on  the  hustings, 
but  who  asserted  their  grandeur  in  the  councils  of  the  nation.  I 
saw  something  of  this  condition  as  late  as  1872  in  North  Caro- 
lina, when  I  was  assigned  to  a  week  of  campaigning  for  Greeley 
in  the  rural  districts  and  away  from  the  only  two  railway  lines 
then  in  the  State.  At  every  meeting  I  saw  a  majority  of  the 
voters  of  the  entire  country,  and  when  there  was  not  an  ox  roast 
to  give  a  free  feed  to  the  people  they  brought  their  own  provis- 
ions, many  coming  with  watermelons  balanced  on  their  heads. 
The  meetings  lasted  from  10  or  n  in  the  morning  until  late  at 
night,  with  relays  of  speakers.  The  people  would  give  two  days 
— that  is,  one  day  to  each  party —  in  the  campaign,  and  that  was 
the  only  means  by  which  they  could  be  reached  in  political  con- 
flicts. When  railroads,  telegraphs  and  newspapers  became  acces- 
(184) 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  185 

sible  to  nearly  every  home  the  hustings  became  secondary  to  the 
school  and  press,  and,  while  we  still  have  armies  of  popular  ora- 
tors for  our  political  contests  they  are  no  longer  the  factors  that 
they  were  in  olden  times,  and  the  development  of  popular  ora- 
tory is  without  the  incentive  that  inspired  men  like  Corwin  to  be- 
come masters  in  the  art  of  moving  great  multitudes  from  the 
platform. 

Corwin's  parents  moved  from  Fayette  county,  Pennsylvania,  to 
Bourbon  county,  Kentucky,  where  he  was  born  on  the  2gth  of 
July,  1794,  and  four  years  later  his  father  and  mother  with  their 
six  children  moved  to  what  is  now  the  city  of  Lebanon,  Ohio. 
His  father  was  entirely  a  self-made  man,  and  became  a  legislator, 
Speaker  of  the  House  and  Associate  Judge.  His  father  desired 
to  give  the  best  possible  education  to  his  children,  but  he  felt 
unable  to  give  more  than  one  of  them  an  opportunity  to  attend 
the  schools  of  that  day.  Matthias,  being  the  oldest,  was  given 
the  preference,  while  Thomas  was  compelled  to  work  on  the 
farm  and  became  known  as  the  one  of  the  family  who  was  the 
teamster,  and  in  early  life  gained  the  nickname  of  "the  wagon 
boy,"  a  term  that  became  very  familiar  in  his  later  political  cam- 
paigns. He  had  access  to  the  textbooks  of  his  brother,  and  by 
hard  study  at  night  he  made  very  rapid  progress  in  academic 
studies,  including  Latin,  and  finally  when  nineteen  years  of  age 
began  the  study  of  law.  Even  before  his  admission  to  the  Bar  he 
became  known  as  one  of  the  most  skillful  debaters  in  the  local 
contests,  which  were  quite  common  in  those  days,  as  the  orator 
was  the  universal  school  teacher  of  the  time.  He  was  elected  to 
the  Legislature  in  1821,  and  re-elected  the  following  year  without 
opposition.  He  was  one  of  the  most  popular  members  of  the 
body,  but  declined  a  third  term  to  devote  himself  to  his  profes- 
sion. Seven  years  later,  when  party  lines  were  being  sharply  de- 
fined for  and  against  Jackson,  he  again  entered  the  Legislature, 
and  the  following  year  was  elected  to  Congress  by  over  700  ma- 
jority by  leading  his  party  ticket  over  1000,  and  he  was  re-elected 
in  the  four  succeeding  contests,  his  last  run,  in  1838,  being  prac- 
tically without  opposition. 

In  the  early  part  of  Corwin's  service  in  Congress  he  took  rank 
among  the  leading  statesmen  of  the  party.  He  was  the  author 
of  the  bill  chartering  the  United  States  Bank,  which  was  over- 
thrown by  Jackson,  and  he  was  the  author  of  a  new  protective 


1 86  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

tariff  bill,  and  of  one  of  the  first  of  the  comprehensive  measures 
proposed  for  internal  improvements.  During  his  last  term  in 
Congress  he  won  not  only  national  but  world-wide  fame  by  a 
speech  delivered  in  the  House  in  vindication  of  General  Har- 
rison, then  a  candidate  for  the  Presidency,  and  in  reply  to  Gen- 
eral Crary  of  Michigan.  In  all  our  Congressional  annals  that 
speech  is  without  an  equal  in  mingled  eloquence,  wit  and  invec- 
tive. He  was  retired  from  Congress  in  1840  by  his  acceptance  of 
the  Whig  nomination  for  Governor,  and  was  elected  by  16,000 
majority;  but  two  years  later,  in  the  demoralization  that  Tylerism 
produced,  he  was  defeated  for  re-election.  He  was  again  tend- 
ered the  nomination  for  Governor  in  1844,  but  declined  it,  and 
took  the  position  as  head  of  tine  Whig  electoral  ticket.  The 
Whigs  carried  the  State  and  Legislature,  and  Corwin  was  practi- 
cally without  opposition  when  the  Legislature  came  to  choose  a 
Senator. 

With  all  his  great  ability  as  a  disputant,  Corwin  was  not  heard 
in  the  Senate  until  nearly  the  close  of  the  second  session  in  which 
he  served,  when  he  delivered  a  most  impressive  speech  in  favor 
of  land  bounties  to  the  soldiers  of  the  Mexican  war;  and  the 
great  speech  of  his  life,  and  one  of  the  greatest  in  the  record  of 
American  statesmanship,  was  delivered  in  the  Senate  on  the  nth 
of  February,  1847,  against  the  further  prosecution  of  the  Mexi- 
can war.  That  speech  certainly  stands  second  only  to  Webster's 
reply  to  Hayne  in  the  list  of  the  great  orations  of  the  century. 
It  was  great  not  only  in  argument,  in  eloquence  and  in  forceful 
presentation  of  the  truth,  but  it  was  conspicuously  great  in  the 
courage  that  inspired  it.  While  all  of  the  Whigs  of  that  time 
were  opposed  to  precipitating  war  with  Mexico,  and  held  that 
it  was  done  by  the  President  without  authority,  only  a  very  few 
of  them  refused  to  vote  supplies  to  the  army  when  our  troops 
were  in  the  field  fighting  for  the  flag;  but  Corwin  boldly  pro- 
claimed that  he  could  vote  no  supplies  whatever  to  a  war  that 
was  waged  solely  for  spoliation.  It  was  in  this  speech  that  he 
said:  'If  I  were  a  Mexican,  I  would  tell  you:  'Have  you  not 
room  in  your  own  country  to  bury  your  dead  men?  If  you 
come  into  mine  we  will  greet  you  with  bloody  hands,  and  wel- 
come you  to  hospitable  graves/  "  Few  of  his  party  associates 
indorsed  the  extreme  position  he  assumed,  but  his  integrity  of 
conviction  was  so  universally  conceded  that  all  respected  and 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  187 

loved  him.  Although  he  opposed  the  compromise  measures  of 
1850,  which  were  supported  by  the  Fillmore  wing  of  the  party 
as  against  the  Taylor  Administration,  when  Fillmore  became 
President  he  called  Corwin  to  the  Treasury  portfolio,  where  he 
remained  until  the  close  of  the  Administration  in  1853. 

Of  all  the  many  public  men  I  have  met  I  regard  Corwin  as  one 
of  the  most  genial  and  delightful  in  companionship,  and  one  of 
the  most  brilliant  in  eloquence.  He  was  of  imposing  stature, 
with  a  somewhat  round,  full  face  that  beamed  with  good-fellow- 
ship, an  eye  that  kindled  brightly  even  in  ordinary  conversation, 
and  he  could  convulse  an  audience  when  indulging  in  his  keen 
witticisms  by  his  facial  expressions.  I  first  met  him  in  1858  when 
in  legislative  service  at  Harrisburg.  At  that  time  the  Legisla- 
ture had  the  power  to  grant  divorces  with  or  without  reason, 
and  a  divorce  case  that  convulsed  high  social  circles  in  Phila- 
delphia, and  that  evaded  the  Courts  chiefly  because  of  the  lack  of 
merit  on  the  side  of  the  applicant,  was  brought  to  Harrisburg, 
and  a  statutory  separation  demanded.  The  respondent  was  rep- 
resented by  George  M.  Wharton,  one  of  the  ablest  members  of 
the  Philadelphia  bar.  The  father  of  the  petitioning  wife  had  been 
a  barefooted  chum  with  Corwin  in  their  boyhood  days  in  the 
back  woods.  He  had  large  wealth,  and  he  was  able  to  command 
the  services  of  Corwin  to  argue  the  case  before  the  Judiciary 
Committee,  of  which  I  was  chairman.  The  general  interest  ex- 
cited by  the  case,  and  the  distinguished  disputants  who  were  to 
deliver  the  arguments  before  the  committee  made  very  strong 
pressure  to  have  a  public  hearing,  and  the  committee  sat  in  the 
hall  of  the  House,  which  was  crowded  to  the  uttermost. 

Wharton  was  not  only  a  more  profound  lawyer  than  Corwin, 
but  he  had  both  the  law  and  the  facts  on  his  side  of  the  case,  and 
Corwin  had  a  most  difficult  role  to  perform.  When  Wharton 
was  heard  there  was  really  not  a  single  foothold  left  for  Corwin, 
and  there  was  universal  desire  to  see  how  the  great  popular 
orator  of  the  nation  would  acquit  himself  under  such  disadvan- 
tageous circumstances.  He  arose  amidst  the  silence  of  death 
throughout  the  entire  hall,  with  his  face  as  bright  as  a  bride- 
groom's, and  he  entered  upon  his  argument  with  all  the  appar- 
ent confidence  of  one  who  had  every  element  of  justice  and 
truth  on  his  side.  Had  he  assumed  to  reply  to  the  arguments  of 
Wharton  by  attempting  to  refute  them  he  would  have  failed  ut- 


1 88  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

terly,  but  he  did  not  even  give  a  semblance  of  reply  on  the  lines 
of  his  antagonist.  It  was  a  case  that  had  evoked  a  wide  range 
of  public  scandals  in  the  newspapers  and  in  the  petition  and 
various  rejoinders  and  sur-rejoinders,  and  Corwin  took  up  the 
ludicrous  features  of  the  case,  handled  the  scandals  with  a  skill 
that  made  the  audience  forgetful  of  Wharton's  resistless  logic  and 
with  a  wit  that  kept  the  audience  convulsed  with  humor.  Among 
the  many  scandals  of  the  case  was  one  that  the  husband  and  wife 
had  quarreled  during  the  first  few  days  of  their  honeymoon,  and 
it  was  imputed  to  the  childish  petulancy  of  the  petitioner.  Cor- 
win's  answer  to  this  was  certainly  never  forgotten  during  their 
lives  by  any  who  heard  it.  He  said,  with  exquisitely  assumed 
gravity:  "Mr.  Chairman,  I  am  an  old  man;  crowding  on  rapidly 
toward  the  patriarchal  age,  but  I  believe,  sir,  that  if  I  were  to 
take  for  a  wife  a  beautiful,  bright-eyed,  rosy-cheeked,  cherry- 
lipped  girl  I  could  keep  her  in  humor  with  me  for  a  week."  I 
have  never  in  my  life  seen  a  face  illumined  with  wit  and  sarcasm 
as  was  Corwin's  when  he  delivered  the  sentence  I  have  quoted, 
and  it  was  only  one  of  the  many  gems  of  humor  and  invective 
which  ran  through  his  speech  of  an  hour,  in  which  he  really  said 
nothing  beyond  glittering  and  witty  generalities.  The  entire 
audience  when  not  convulsed  with  laughter  was  spellbound  by 
his  beautiful  imagery  and  bewitching  eloquence.  When  the 
argument  closed  the  divorce  case  was  forgotten  in  the  desire  to 
shake  Corwin  by  the  hand,  although  later,  when  the  bill  came 
up  before  the  House,  and  legislators  were  compelled  to  face  it  in 
soberness,  it  received  less  than  one-fourth  the  votes  of  the 
House. 

I  was  fortunate  enough  to  get  possession  of  Corwin  after  the 
committee  had  adjourned,  and  take  him  to  my  room.  It  was 
soon  crowded  by  Senators  and  Representatives  who  desired  to 
enjoy  a  chat  with  him,  and  fully  a  dozen  remained  not  only  until 
the  wee  sma'  hours  had  come,  but  until  the  sun  began  to  purple 
the  East  with  the  promise  of  another  day.  Just  enough  was  said 
by  those  who  were  with  him  to  keep  him  talking,  and  I  never  in 
my  life  heard  a  more  delightful  succession  of  incident  and  story. 
He  was  a  man  of  the  loveliest  manner  and  temperament,  and  his 
life  had  been  replete  with  events  which  made  him  richly  laden  for 
the  entertainment  of  others.  He  seemed  to  enjoy  it  as  much  as 
the  rest  of  us  did,  and  never  lagged  in  his  fascinating  deliver- 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  189 

ances.  He  was  of  unusually  swarthy  complexion,  and  loved  to 
tell  the  story  which  brought  it  out.  Among  other  things  that 
evening  he  told  of  an  incident  when  he  was  Secretary  of  the 
Treasury,  and  being  stopped  at  the  inner  door  when  going  out 
of  his  office,  dropped  down  into  the  chair  of  the  colored  atten- 
dant, when  a  dignified  Senator  came  along,  and,  seeing  only  his 
swarthy  face  in  the  ill-lighted  corridor,  tapped  him  on  the 
shoulder  and  ordered  him  to  inform  the  Secretary  of  the  Treas- 
ury that  the  Senator  desired  immediate  admission.  The  mortifi- 
cation and  bungling  apology  of  the  Senator  when  Corwin  rose 
up,  with  his  face  kindled  with  laughter,  can  be  readily  imagined. 
On  another  occasion,  when  stumping  in  the  Western  Reserve  of 
Ohio  to  persuade  the  radical  anti-slavery  Whigs  to  vote  for 
Taylor,  a  slave-holder,  for  President,  he  was  accosted  by  a  lank 
fellow  sitting  on  the  top  of  a  fence,  and  asked  to  -explain  how 
abolitionists  could  consistently  support  a  slave-holder  for  the 
highest  office  of  the  Government.  Corwin  gave  an  evasive  and 
somewhat  humorous  answer,  but.  the  fellow  came  back  at  him 
with  the  question  even  in  more  pointed  form,  that  Corwin  knew 
he  could  not  answer,  and  he  immediately  assumed  the  humorous 
facial  expression  that  I  have  never  seen  equaled  in  any  other 
man,  and  said  with  admirable  mock  humility:  "I  submit,  fellow- 
citizens,  whether  it  is  proper  to  put  such  a  question  to  a  man  of 
my  complexion."  The  man  was  not  answered,  but  he  was  over- 
whelmed by  the  humor  of  Corwin.  Unlike  many  of  the  great 
stumpers  of  early  times,  Corwin  was  entirely  free  from  anything 
that  approached  vulgarity.  He  held  his  most  exquisite  eloquence 
so  evenly  balanced  with  his  superb  wit  and  withering  invective 
that  a  vulgar  jest  would  have  grated  harshly  on  the  ears  of  an 
audience  gathered  to  hear  him  speak. 

I  next  met  Corwin  at  the  Chicago  Convention  of  1860.  He 
had  recovered  from  the  disaster  that  followed  his  speech  against 
the  Mexican  war,  and  as  he  told  me,  he  was  more  gratified  when 
his  old  friends  summoned  him  to  accept  the  Whig  nomination 
for  Congress  in  1858  and  elected  him  by  a  large  majority,  than 
he  had  been  at  any  political  success  in  his  life.  The  Ohio  delega- 
tion was  then  earnestly  supporting  Chase  for  President  and  Cor- 
win gave  his  best  efforts  to  win  success  for  his  candidate.  While 
he  was  -ever  thoroughly  faithful  to  Chase,  it  was  only  natural  that 
when  Lincoln  loomed  up  prominently  as  a  candidate  Corwin 


190  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

would  be  in  sympathy  with  him,  and  he  spoke  of  Lincoln's  prob- 
able success  as  a  result  that  would  be  most  gratifying  to  him  in 
view  of  the  unavailability  of  his  preferred  candidate.  He  had 
been  in  retirement  for  some  years  after  he  left  the  Cabinet,  and, 
I  think,  had  not  been  heard  or  recognized  as  a  political  factor 
even  in  Ohio  until  he  was  made  a  candidate  for  Congress  in  1858. 
It  seemed  to  reinspire  him  with  hope  of  a  new  career,  and  he  en- 
tered into  it  with  all  his  rare  faculties  unabated.  His  long  ex- 
perience in  Congress  and  his  intimate  personal  acquaintance 
with  the  Southern  leaders,  with  whom  he  was  a  great  favorite, 
notwithstanding  his  strong  anti-slavery  views,  made  him  very  ap- 
prehensive that  civil  war  was  inevitable.  I  remember  his  dis- 
cussion of  the  subject  at  Chicago  before  the  nomination  for 
President  had  been  made,  and  his  usually  bright  face  was 
shadowed  in  sadness  as  he  spoke  of  the  earnest  purpose  of  the 
South  to  maintain  and  extend  slavery,  even  by  secession  and  war 
if  necessary.  He  was  re-elected  to  Congress  the  same  year,  and 
was  one  of  the  few  who  met  in  Washington  after  Lincoln's  in- 
auguration who  justly  estimated  the  power  and  desperation  of 
the  South. 

It  was  known  at  the  beginning  of  the  war  that  Napoleon  III 
was  positively  and  determinedly  hostile  to  the  Union  and  sym- 
pathized with  the  South.  He  would  have  acknowledged  the 
Confederacy  had  he  not  been  restrained  by  England  and  by 
powerful  admonitions  from  statesmen  and  prelates,  and  foreign 
intervention  in  Mexico  was  then  generally  discussed  in  political 
and  diplomatic  circles.  Napoleon's  apparent  opportunity  to 
overthrow  the  Monroe  doctrine  by  intervening  in  Mexico  was 
well  understood  by  the  Administration,  and  Lincoln  did  a  very 
wise  thing  in  taking  Corwin  from  Congress  and  sending  him  as 
Minister  to  Mexico,  where  he  received  a  more  kindly  welcome 
than  could  possibly  have  been  given  to  any  other  American.  His 
speech  against  the  spoliation  of  Mexico  was  well  remembered, 
and  his  position  as  Minister  brought  the  Juarez  Administration 
into  the  highest  accord  with  our  Government.  He  remained  in 
Mexico  until  Maximilian  reached  the  capital  and  established  his 
empire,  when  he  was  given  leave  of  absence,  and  he  returned  to 
Washington  in  1864  to  confer  with  the  Government  and  receive 
further  instructions,  leaving  his  son,  William  Henry  Corwin,  in 
charge  of  the  legation.  Soon  after  he  reached  Washington  he 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  191 

'decided  to  resign  his  office  as  Minister  and  settle  in  Washington 
to  practice  his  profession.  It  is  needless  to  say  that  he  was  a 
universal  favorite  in  every  department  of  the  Government,  and 
he  was  rapidly  attaining  great  success  as  an  attorney,  but  in  less 
than  two  years  the  grim  reaper  called  him  to  join  the  great  ma- 
jority beyond.  During  his  stay  in  Washington  he  was  the  cen- 
tral figure  at  all  social  gatherings,  and  although  somewhat  feeble 
physically  his  mental  powers  maintained  their  wonderful  vigor 
to  the  last.  On  social  occasions  he  would  find  a  comfortable 
chair  or  >sofa,  sit  down,  and  the  remainder  of  the  evening  would 
divide  the  audience  with  the  hosts  of  the  occasion.  Wherever 
he  went  he  would  be  surrounded  by  as  many  as  could  hear  his 
conversation.  On  the  i8th  of  December,  1865,  he  was  a  guest 
at  the  residence  of  Mr.  Whetmore,  Military  State  Agent  of  Ohio. 
Among  the  notable  persons  present  were  Generals  Hayes  and 
Garfleld,  Senator  Wade  and  nearly  or-  quite  all  the  distinguished 
Ohioans  who  were  at  the  capital.  In  the  early  part  of  the  even- 
ing he  was  seated  on  the  sofa  with  General  Hayes  by  his  side, 
giving  a  graphic  story  of  the  condition  of  affairs  in  Mexico.  Bluff 
Ben  Wade  suddenly  stopped  him  to  put  the  inquiry:  "They  say, 
Corwin,  that  those  Mexicans  want  to  be  annexed  to  the  United 
States.  What  do  you  think  of  it?"  Before  he  could  answer  his 
face  was  suddenly  shadowed,  his  eyes  became  lustreless,  and 
when  he  raised  his  head  to  speak  his  tongue  was  palsied.  In  a 
few  moments  he  fell  forward  into  the  arms  of  surrounding 
friends,  and  the  great  life  of  one  of  the  purest  and  best  of  our 
statesmen,  and  the  greatest  of  all  our  popular  orators,  was  ended. 


KOSSUTH,  THE  GREAT  APOSTLE 
OF  LIBERTY. 

Hero  worship  is  one  of  the  many  sweet  dreams  of  youth. 
They  are  often  rudely  dispelled,  but  many  linger  with  us  in 
grateful  memories,  and  one  of  my  idols  created  and  deified  in 
the  vigorous  enthusiasm  of  youth,  that  remained  unshattered, 
was  that  of  Louis  Kossuth,  the  Hungarian  patriot,  who  was  the 
guest  of  the  republic  just  half  a  century  ago.  The  nineteenth 
century  produced  many  great  champions  of  human  freedom,  but 
Louis  Kossuth  stands  out  distinctly  overshadowing  all  its  emi- 
nent apostles  of  liberty.  I  noted  his  heroic  and  romantic  career 
with  tireless  interest,  and  when  he  was  welcomed  to  our  shores 
as  the  invited  guest  of  our  Government,  and  startled  the  coun- 
try and  the  world  by  his  matchless  eloquence  in  behalf  of  human 
rights,  I  was  among  the  most  enthusiastic  of  his  hearers.  When 
he  was  accorded  a  public  reception  in  Independence  Hall  on 
the  24th  of  December,  1851,  I  journeyed  150  miles  to  meet  and 
greet  the  great  leader  of  Hungarian  freedom. 

The  startling  events  which  transpired  in  our  own  green  land 
within  a  decade  after  the  visit  of  Kossuth  so  wholly  absorbed 
the  interests  and  efforts  of  our  people  as  to  efface  from  memory 
the  tragic  story  of  Kossuth's  struggles  for  Hungarian  liberty; 
but  there  is  today,  even  with  the  sublime  records  of  heroism  and 
sacrifice  in  our  own  fraternal  war,  no  story  of  historic  or  legend- 
ary lore  that  equals  the  story  of  the  struggles  of  the  Magyars 
to  win  and  maintain  their  national  independence.  At  the  time 
of  his  visit  the  Government  and  people  of  our  republic  were  not 
only  in  the  heartiest  sympathy  with  Kossuth  and  the  followers 
of  his  ill-fated  cause,  but  all  the  moral  power  of  the  Government 
— indeed,  everything  short  of  hostile  intervention — was  given 
to  bleeding  Hungary.  His  release  from  imprisonment  was  de- 
manded by  our  Government  in  imperious  tones,  and  it  was  the 
cause  of  Kossuth  that  enabled  Webster,  as  Secretary  of  State, 
to  round  out  his  great  life  by  his  celebrated  Hulseman  letter, 
(192) 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  193 

that  stands  today  among  the  Webster  deliverances  as  second 
only  to  his  reply  to  Hayne. 

A  Government  vessel  was  sent,  by  direction  of  Congress,  to 
bring  Kossuth  to  our  shores  as  the  guest  of  the  nation,  and  when 
he  arrived  here  he  was  welcomed  at  the  White  House  by  Presi- 
dent Fillmore,  who  was  one  of  the  most  conservative  of  our 
Executives,  by  a  speech  that  expressed  his  unqualified  sym- 
pathy with  the  Hungarian  people.  Both  branches  of  Congress 
invited  Kossuth  to  visit  the  chambers,  where  he  received  a  grand 
ovation,  and  was  heard  in  the  hall  made  historic  by  the  eloquence 
of  Clay,  Webster  and  Calhoun  in  defence  of  his  suffering  coun- 
try. He  was  also  invited  by  Congress  to  a  dinner,  where  Web- 
ster, as  Secretary  of  State,  spoke  for  the  Government;  Judge 
Wayne,  of  the  Supreme  Court,  for  the  Judiciary;  General  Shields 
for  the  arrny,  and  Mr.  Stanton,  of  Tennessee,  for  the  navy,  de- 
claring that  it  was  "not  only  the  principal  defence  of  liberty  at 
home,  but  when  needed  it  would  strike  a  blow  for  liberty  every- 
where." Kossuth's  response  to  the  sentiment,  "Hungary,  repre- 
sented in  the  person  of  our  honored  guest,"  was  undoubtedly  the 
ablest  of  the  many  utterances  he  delivered  during  his  six  months' 
sojourn  in  this  country. 

Great  events  crowd  upon  each  other  so  closely  in  the  wonder- 
ful progress  of  the  age  that  the  present  generation  is  inclined  to 
forgetfulness  of  the  heroic  records  of  the  past.  When  Kossuth 
visited  us  he  and  his  loved  ones  had  been  ruthlessly  separated, 
imprisoned  and  exposed  to  almost  every  possible  privation  and 
insult  short  of  death.  His  gallant  soldiers  had  defeated  the  Aus- 
trians  on  many  battlefields,  and  would  have  become  the  master 
instead  of  the  subject  of  Austria,  had  not  an  alliance  been  formed 
between  Austria,  Prussia  and  Russia  for  the  destruction  of  the 
Hungarian  kingdom.  The  nineteenth  century  presents  no  war 
in  Christian  or  Pagan  lands  that  excels  the  fiendish  atrocity  of 
the  Austrians  in  their  struggle  to  overthrow  the  Hungarian 
nationality. 

The  record  of  the  race  from  which  Kossuth  sprang  is  the 
most  romantic  and  heroic  of  any  people  of  the  world's  history. 
When  the  warlike  Tartars,  who  roamed  the  plains  between 
Siberia  and  the  milder  valleys  of  China,  were  apparently  mas- 
tered by  the  Chinese  and  excluded  by  the  construction  of  the 
great  Chinese  wall,  dissensions  in  their  own  ranks  in  the  latter 


194  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

part  of  the  first  century  made  many  of  them  follow  the  setting 
sun  to  found  a  new  home  and  country.  A  portion  of  them 
rested  on  the  Ural  River  in  Asia,  but  many  more  continued  their 
search  until  they  reached  Europe  north  of  the  Black  Sea,  where 
they  remained  for  two  centuries.  They  gave  themselves  the 
name  of  Huns,  and  were  tireless  in  their  conquests  of  all  the 
barbarian  tribes  within  their  reach.  Finally  with  portions  of 
their  conquered  tribes  they  reached  the  valley  of  the  Danube, 
and  there  gave  to  the  world  the  name  of  Hungary.  In  the  early 
part  of  the  fifth  century  they  were  the  most  heroic  and  most 
feared  nationality  of  Europe,  and  compelled  even  the  Romans 
to  pay  them  liberal  tribute  to  escape  a  war  of  desolation. 

Attila,  "the  scourge  of  God,"  became  their  ruler,  and  his  con- 
quests made  Hungary  the  largest  kingdom  of  the  world.  He 
conquered  from  Gaul  to  Persia,  gave  desolation  to  the  peoples 
between  the  Black  and  the  Adriatic  Seas;  besieged  Constanti- 
nople, invested  Rome,  and  was  never  decisively  defeated  in 
battle.  Wherever  the  tread  of  his  vast  army  was  heard  he 
became  either  master  of  the  country  or  compelled  it  to  give  lib- 
eral tribute.  At  the  death  of  Attila  the  great  empire  of  the 
Huns  was  broken  into  fragments,  but  they  maintained  their 
home  on  the  Danube,  and  gradually  mingled  with  other  peoples 
which  grew  up  around  them.  Nearly  five  centuries  after  the 
Tartar  adventurers  had  reached  Europe  the  descendants  of  their 
brethren  who  had  made  their  home  in  Asia,  and  had  attained 
the  mastery  of  every  tribe  near  the  Caspian  Sea,  where  they 
were  known  as  Magyars,  tired  of  their  frigid  climate  and  de- 
cided to  follow  their  kinsmen  in  search  of  the  sunnier  climes  of 
Europe.  They  again  turned  their  steps  toward  the  setting  sun, 
and  fought  their  way  resolutely  along  the  Black  Sea  until  they 
approached  the  Danube.  During  the  next  century  they  crossed 
the  Carpathian  Mountains  and  reached  the  beautiful  plains  of 
Hungary,  and  after  two  centuries  of  warfare  they  accomplished 
the  entire  subjugation  of  the  people  and  re-established  the  Hun- 
garian kingdom. 

Again  they  became  the  dreaded  nation  of  the  earth.  They  in- 
vaded Germany;  their  battalions  won  triumphs  in  France,  while 
another  army  was  besieging  Constantinople.  They  became  con- 
querors of  all  the  peoples  on  the  Adriatic,  Baltic  and  Black  Seas, 
and  at  Brenton  defeated  the  army  of  Italy  with  terrible  slaugh- 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  195 

ter.  There  was  no  nation  that  could  meet  them  on  the  battle- 
field, and  they  made  the  European  world  pay  costly  tribute  to 
their  mastery.  For  four  centuries  the  kingdom  was  ruled  by 
an  unbroken  line  of  kings,  and  in  the  fourteenth  century  Louis, 
who  reigned  for  forty  year?  again  made  Hungary  the  most 
powerful  nation  of  Europe.  He  Christianized  his  people  by  the 
national  acceptance  of  the  Roman  creed,  but  after  his  death 
decay  seemed  to  fall  upon  the  hitherto  omnipotent  conquerors, 
and  the  kingdom  furnished  no  man  capable  of  maintaining  the 
martial  triumphs  of  Hungary.  Despoiled  of  provinces  and  dis- 
integrated by  discontent  the  fatal  step  was  taken  by  a  weak 
ruler  forming  a  matrimonial  alliance  with  Maximilian  of  Aus- 
tria. It  was  the  first  step  of  the  Hapsburgs  toward  power  in 
Hungary. 

Hungary  was  convulsed  by  hostility  to  any  form  of  alliance 
with  Austria,  and  while  thus  practically  defenceless  because  of 
internal  disturbances,  the  Turks  invaded  the  country  and  occu- 
pied the  strongest  fortress  on  the  frontier.  Aroused  to  despera- 
tion by  the  invasion  of  a  hostile  army  into  a  land  whose  people 
had  until  then  always  been  conquerors,  the  Hungarians  met  the 
Turks  on  the  plain  of  Mohacs  in  1526,  and,  although  over- 
whelmed in  numbers  and  assailed  by  the  best  trained  troops,  the 
heroic  Hungarians  maintained  the  conflict  until  their  army  was 
literally  annihilated,  and  King  Louis  was  drowned  in  his  hasty 
retreat.  Hungary  was  thus  defeated,  was  kingless  and  its  army 
destroyed,  and  Ferdinand  of  Austria  maintained  a  bloody  war 
for  eleven  years  to  overthrow  Zapolya,  who  had  been  chosen 
king  by  the  Hungarians,  finally  resulting  in  the  partition  of  the 
kingdom.  Thenceforth  the  history  of  Hungary  was  simply  the 
story  of  civil  and  foreign  wars,  and  the  steadily  weakening  power 
of  the  Magyars  resulted  in  the  acceptance  of  the  Austrian  mas- 
tery, with  the  solemn  promise  of  religious  liberty,  exemption 
from  excessive  taxes  and  the  freedom  of  the  citizen,  with  the 
right  to  home  rule,  subject  to  the  general  authority  of  the  Haps- 
burgs. Frederick  III  of  Prussia  took  advantage  of  the  weak- 
ened condition  of  Hungary  and  marched  an  army  into  Silesia 
and  quartered  in  its  capital.  This  triumph  inspired  other  claim- 
ants to  Hungarian  provinces;  and  thus  after  eighteen  centuries 
of  heroic  struggles  as  victor  and  vanquished  this  valiant  race 
had  been  reduced  to  the  most  abject  servitude  until  rebellion 


196  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

with  death  was  preferred  to  life  with  submission  under  the  re- 
lentless encroachments  of  Austrian  despotism.  The  peasantry 
were  required  to  give  one  hundred  and  four  days'  labor  out  of 
every  year  to  their  landlord,  one-ninth  of  their  produce  to  the 
Seigneure  and  one-tenth  to  the  bishop. 

It  was  in  this  dark  hour  of  the  history  of  Hungary,  when 
there  was  not  even  a  silver  lining  to  the  terrible  cloud  of  oppres- 
sion that  hung  like  a  pall  over  it,  that  Louis  Kossuth  rose  up 
as  a  great  leader  of  his  oppressed  countrymen.  He  had  the 
courage  to  resist  tyranny  and  the  ability  to  rally  his  people  to 
the  support  of  their  cause.  He  remembered  that  Hungary  had 
twice  in  her  history,  under  Atti'la  and  Louis,  been  the  one  power 
that  all  Europe  feared,  as  in  the  earlier  days  all  tribes  feared  and 
obeyed  their  forefathers  on  the  Ural  River  in  Asia;  and  when 
increased  exactions  were  imposed  upon  the  Hungarians,  making 
their  condition  worse  than  that  of  the  slave  with  the  proprietary 
rights  of  the  owner,  Kossuth  spoke  trumpet-tongued  to  his 
oppressed  people.  He  first  appeared  on  the  public  stage  as  a 
substitute  member  of  the  Diet  in  1836,  and  became  famous  for 
his  publication  in  manuscript  of  a  verbatim  report  of  the  Diet's 
proceedings.  He  soon  offended  the  severe  Austrian  censorship, 
and  was  arrested,  blindfolded  and  imprisoned  in  a  dungeon. 

After  long  confinement  he  was  given  the  semblance  of  a  trial, 
but  was  condemned  and  sentenced  to  a  long  period  of  imprison- 
ment. His  prosecution  aroused  the  Hungarians  to  organized 
effort  to  throw  off  the  intolerable  yoke  of  Austria,  his  name  be- 
came a  household  word  in  every  Magyar  home,  and,  after  three 
years  of  confinement,  Austria  was  compelled  to  release  him  be- 
cause of  the  revolutionary  clamor  of  his  people.  In  1847  ne 
became  a  candidate  for  the  Diet,  and  was  opposed  with  despera- 
tion by  the  imperial  power,  but  he  was  triumphantly  elected. 
He  proposed  an  address  to  the  Austrian  emperor,  and  a  com- 
mittee was  appointed  to  accompany  him  to  visit  Vienna  in  per- 
son and  urge  the  concession  of  reforms.  When  he  and  his 
associates  reached  Vienna  the  revolutions  of  1848  were  making 
nearly  every  throne  of  Europe  totter,  and  the  people  welcomed 
Kossuth.  The  multitude  accompanied  him  to  the  gates  of  the 
imperial  palace  with  their  deafening  cheers.  Terrorized  by  the 
revolutionary  movements  of  Europe,  the  emperor  granted  every 
concession  demanded,  and  Kossuth  returned  to  his  country,  and 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  197 

for  a  short  time  there  was  happiness  throughout  all  Hungary, 
but  as  soon  as  the  revolution  which  threatened  the  Austrian 
throne  was  silenced  Emperor  Ferdinand  exhibited  the  treachery 
of  the  Hapsburgs,  and  studiedly  destroyed  the  beneficent  laws 
he  had  conceded  to  the  Magyars. 

Austrian  gold  was  lavishly  expended  to  produce  revolutionary 
action  in  Hungary.  The  civil  and  military  officers  were  ap- 
pointed by  Austria,  and  their  mission  was  to  divide  the  Hun- 
garian people.  An  army  of  60,000  men  was  then  sent  to  over- 
throw the  last  vestige  of  Hungarian  freedom,  and  the  leading 
officers  of  Hungary  made  only  the  semblance  of  resistance.  The 
emperor  then  threw  off  the  mask,  dissolved  the  Diet,  annulled 
all  its  statutes,  declared  martial  law,  proclaimed  all  political 
assemblies  as  treasonable,  and  appointed  a  subservient  civil  and 
military  government,  with  absolute  power.  The  Hungarians 
were  thus  betrayed  and  apparently  powerless,  but  instead  of  sub- 
mitting, as  was  expected.,  they  were  inspired  to  the  most  heroic 
action.  Kossuth  in  one  of  his  many  addresses  said:  "Pardon 
my  emotion;  the  shadows  of  our  martyrs  whose  names  I  see 
here  pass  before  my  eyes,  and  I  hear  the  millions  of  my  nation 
once  more  shout  for  freedom  or  death."  The  Magyars  rushed 
to  the  battlefield,  armed  with  knives,  hatchets  and  every  con- 
ceivable implement,  and  many  of  them  were  without  guns.  The 
army  of  destruction,  thoroughly  armed  and  equipped,  marched 
toward  the  Hungarian  capital,  and  its  advance  was  marked  not 
only  by  murder  and  desolation,  but  by  the  most  atrocious  tor- 
tures inflicted  upon  the  patriots.  The  fiendish  brutality  of  the 
Austrian  commander  crazed  the  Hungarian  peasantry,  and  an 
undisciplined  mob  commanded  by  General  Moga  met  the  enemy 
at  Velentze,  and  defeated  and  routed  the  Austrian  invaders.  The 
defeat  of  one  army  only  multiplied  foes,  and  soon  thereafter  a 
much  larger  army  entered  Hungary  to  overthrow  the  undis- 
ciplined and  illy-armed  Magyars,  and  General  Bern  finally  de- 
feated the  Austrian  invaders,  as  well  as  the  10,000  Russians  who 
had  come  to  aid  them;  but  it  was  another  victory  only  to  be 
followed  by  many  disasters,  as  the  Austrian  army  steadily  ex- 
tended its  conquests  until  it  was  in  possession  of  quite  half  the 
country.  In  the  early  part  of  1849  tne  Magyars  again  collected 
their  scattered  forces  and  gave  battle  to  60,000  Austrians  at 
Kapolua,  and  after  a  two  days'  bloody  battle  the  Austrians  gave 


198  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

up  the  field,  with  the  Magyars  too  exhausted  to  pursue.  This 
was  followed  by  another  Hungarian  victory  at  Isaszeg,  and  the 
Hungarians  issued  a  proclamation  of  independence  for  the  re- 
establishment  of  Hungary  as  an  independent  nation. 

The  Austrian  emperor,  Francis  Joseph,  now  the  oldest  mon- 
arch of  Europe,  defiantly  declared  himself  king  of  Hungary, 
which  compelled  the  Hungarians  to  yield  an  unconditional  sur- 
render or  continue  the  conflict.  The  Hungarian  Diet  pro- 
claimed that  the  House  of  Hapsburg  had  forfeited  the  throne, 
and  Louis  Kossuth  was  made  provisional  Governor  of  the  new 
Hungarian  nationality.  General  Gorgey  was  placed  in  com- 
mand of  the  army  and  inspired  the  Hungarians  with  fresh  hope 
and  enthusiasm  by  the  capture  of  Buda,  but  Russian  interven- 
tion, with  the  promise  of  an  army  of  150,000  men,  enabled  the 
Austrians  to  renew  the  conflict,  and  General  Haynau,  who  was 
generally  spoken  of  at  that  time  as  "the  butcher,"  became  the 
Austrian  commander,  with  an  increased  army.  The  Magyars 
fought  overwhelming  numbers  with  unfaltering  courage,  and 
at  times  wrested  victory  from  the  very  jaws  of  defeat,  but  the 
cause  of  the  Magyars  was  hopeless.  They  were  surrounded 
by  enemies,  all  bent  on  their  destruction,  for  the  Russian,  the 
Prussian,  the  Austrian  and  the  Turk  were  united  against  them. 
At  this  period  of  the  conflict  Gorgey  became  estranged  from 
Kossuth,  who,  as  Governor,  was  commander-in-chief,  and  Gor- 
gey thereafter  assumed  supreme  command.  Kossuth,  to  har- 
monize all  the  forces  of  Hungary,  voluntarily  relinquished  his 
Governorship  and  gave  to  Gorgey  the  dictatorship,  and  almost 
the  first  act  of  Gorgey  after  having  been  invested  with  the 
authority  of  the  nation  was  to  address  a  letter  to  the  Austrian 
commander,  telling  when  and  where  he  would  make  an  abso- 
lute surrender  of  the  entire  Hungarian  army.  Thus  on  the  nth 
of  August,  1849,  the  struggle  for  the  freedom  of  Hungary  was 
ended,  and  the  last  hope  of  relief  from  the  pitiless  despotism  of 
Austria  perished. 

Kossuth,  broken-hearted,  kissed  the  earth  of  his  native  land 
that  had  been  so  deeply  crimsoned  with  the  blood  of  his  people 
struggling  for  their  freedom,  and  entered  Turkey  as  an  exile, 
only  to  become  a  prisoner,  leaving  his  wife  and  children  behind 
him  to  suffer  privation  for  years,  and  finally  to  join  him  in  his 
exile.  His  accomplished  wife  maintained  herself  at  times  by 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  199 

hiring  out  to  service  in  humble  families  where  her  identity  was 
not  likely  to  be  discovered.  While  in  the  Turkish  prison  Kos- 
suth  thoroughly  mastered  the  English  and  French  languages, 
and  when,  on  the  1st  of  September,  1851,  he  was  finally  liberated 
through  the  kind  offices  of  the  United  States,  he  was  able  to 
address  the  different  peoples  of  Europe  and  the  United  States  in 
their  own  languages.  The  Mississippi,  one  of  our  naval  steam- 
ers, was  sent  to  Constantinople  to  receive  Kossuth  as  our  guest 
and  convey  him  to  the  great  republic  of  the  world.  When  he 
reached  Marseilles  he  changed  his  route  to  pass  through  France 
and  England,  but  the  French  government  denied  him  permis- 
sion. He  then  proceeded  to  Southampton,  where  he  arrived  on 
the  23d  of  October,  and  was  accorded  a  most  generous  greeting 
by  the  English  people.  He  was  made  the  welcome  guest  of  the 
Lord  Mayor  of  London,  and  called  out  the  eloquent  Cobden  to 
plead  for  the  intervention  of  England  to  prevent  Russia  from 
crushing  Hungary.  His  journey  in  England  was  one  continued 
ovation,  and  on  Thursday,  the  4th  of  December,  1850,  he  landed 
at  Staten  Island,  New  York,  where  he  was  welcomed  with  a 
degree  of  popular  enthusiasm  that  has  since  then  been  equaled 
only  by  the  reception  to  Dewey  when  he  returned  from  Manila. 

From  New  York  he  went  to  Philadelphia,  thence  to  Washing- 
ton, and  later  to  the  Western  cities,  and  the  American  people 
gathered  in  large  numbers  wherever  they  had  opportunity  to 
meet  him.  In  July,  1852,  he  returned  to  Europe,  hoping  to 
renew  the  struggle  for  the  liberty  of  the  Magyars,  but  the  over- 
throw of  the  French  republic  suppressed  the  revolutionary  spirit 
of  Europe,  and  in  all  the  long  years  of  waiting  Kossuth  found 
no  opportunity  for  renewing  a  hopeful  conflict  for  the  liberty 
of  his  beloved  Magyars. 

I  first  saw  Kossuth  when  he  was  given  a  public  reception  in 
Independence  Hall,  on  the  24th  of  December,  1851.  Mayor 
Gilpin  welcomed  him  to  the  city  that  is  the  cradle  of  American 
independence,  and  Kossuth's  brief  address  exhibited  his  match- 
less power  as  an  orator.  I  had  read  his  speeches  in  New  York, 
and  was  greatly  impressed  with  his  excellent  use  of  the  English 
language.  He  spoke  it  with  a  purity  that  is  unknown  to  the 
great  mass  of  Americans,  and  he  gave  us  English  words  which 
were  either  unknown  or  unused  till  then,  and  which  were  by 
him  inseparably  interwoven  with  our  language.  In  his  plea  for 


200  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

the  union  and  liberty  of  the  Magyars  he  made  an  eloquent  appeal 
for  the  "solidarity  of  the  peoples"  of  his  native  land.  I  have 
heard  Edward  Everett,  who  is  regarded  as  capable  of  the  purest 
cliction  in  American  eloquence,  but  I  have  never  heard  any 
American  who  spoke  the  English  language  with  greater  purity 
than  did  Louis  Kossuth  and  Carl  Schurz,  and  both  of  them 
spoke  it  with  the  highest  standard  of  elegance  after  having 
studied  it  less  than. a  year. 

My  enthusiasm  for  Kossuth  made  me  desirous  not  only  to 
hear  him  speak  but  to  meet  him  personally,  and  I  was  much 
delighted  to  have  the  opportunity  to  receive  the  cordial  grasp 
of  his  hand  and  hear  his  beautiful  tribute  to  America  and  her 
institutions  which  pervaded  his  conversation.  He  was  of 
medium  size,  compactly  and  symmetrically  formed,  with  his  face 
full-bearded  excepting  part  of  the  chin,  and  he  was  as  graceful 
in  manner  as  he  was  eloquent  in  speech  and  genial  in  inter- 
course. He  wore  the  dress  of  his  people,  and  thereby  introduced 
in  this  country  the  soft  felt  hat  that  has  ever  since  been  used  by 
our  people,  and  never  more  than  now.  The  fine  soft  felt  hat  was 
then  unknown  in  the  United  States,  and  there  was  widespread 
prejudice  against  its  acceptance,  but  the  Kossuth  hat  became 
a  fad  and  was  worn  generally  by  the  smart  set,  and  gradually  its 
comfort  and  convenience  made  it  generally  acceptable. 

In  conversation  Kossuth  was  ever  ready  and  fluent;  his  man- 
ner most  fascinating  and  his  keen  eye  flashed  the  fire  of  defiance 
when  he  spoke  of  the  sorrows  of  the  Magyars,  whose  lost  cause 
had  made  him  an  exile.  He  profoundly  impressed  our  states- 
men at  Washington,  including  President  Fillmore  and  Secretary 
Webster,  to  whom  modern  political  jingoism  was  unknown.  His 
imprisonment  had  called  out  Webster's  letter,  which  is  the  ablest 
definition  of  the  aims  and  purposes  and  opportunities  of  our  free 
institutions  that  has  ever  been  given  in  the  English  language; 
and  only  the  neutrality  wisely  imposed  upon  us  by  treaty  obliga- 
tions prevented  the  intervention  of  our  Government  by  the 
recognition  of  the  nationality  re-established  by  Kossuth. 

I  saw  Kossuth  only  on  one  other  occasion  during  his  visit  to 
the  United  States.  After  his  sojourn  in  Washington  he  started 
Westward.  I  then  lived  in  the  Juniata  valley,  in  a  village  where 
the  passengers  of  the  few  through  trains  of  the  Pennsylvania 
were  dined,  and,  learning  that  Kossuth  was  coming,  I  arranged 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  2OI 

with  the  proprietor  of  the  hotel  to  have  Kossuth  and  his  wife  so 
disposed  at  the  end  of  the  table  that  the  seat  reserved  for  me 
would  bring  me  next  to  them.  Railroad  dinners  were  always 
very  hurried  occasions,  and  when  Kossuth  rushed  in  to  the 
table  he  and  his  wife  thought  much  more  of  trying  to  get  a  sat- 
isfactory meal  out  of  American  cooking,  to  which  they  were 
strangers,  than  of  discussing  the  cause  of  Hungary.  Mrs.  Kos- 
suth was  of  medium  size,  with  a  strong,  handsome  face,  equally 
dark  in  complexion  with  her  husband,  and  she  managed  the 
dinner.  As  some  of  the  dishes  were  entirely  unknown  to  her, 
she  always  first  investigated  them  by  taking  the  dish  and  holding 
it  under  her  nose  to  judge  how  palatable  it  might  be  by  its 
fragrance,  and  if  acceptable  it  was  handed  to  her  husband.  I 
could  not  miss  the  opportunity  to  have  another  brief  conversa- 
tion with  the  man  who  was  then  my  great  idol  in  hero  worship, 
and  when  I  reminded  him  of  our  meeting  in  Independence  Hall, 
where  he  could  not  remember  one  in  five  thousand  of  those  who 
greeted  him,  I  had  opened  the  door  for  the  expression  of  his 
heartfelt  enthusiasm  for  the  American  people  and  their  govern- 
ment, and  for  the  bleeding  friends  he  had  left  behind  him.  He 
warmed  up  at  once,  and  my  recollection  of  the  event  is  that  I 
never  before  heard  such  fervent  eloquence.  I  was  sorry  indeed 
when  the  hoarse  scream  of  the  iron  horse  called  him  away,  and 
I  parted  from  him  for  the  last  time  with  boundless  pride  because 
I  had  twice  met  the  greatest  living  apostle  of  human  liberty. 

After  a  six-months'  journey  in  the  United  States,  in  which 
the  hero  worship  of  the  American  people  was  exhibited  by  the 
heartiest  welcome  in  every  city  he  visited,  he  returned  to  Europe 
bearing  with  him  liberal  voluntary  contributions  made  to  him 
for  his  cause.  This  money  was  expended  in  the  preparation  for 
a  revolutionary  movement  in  1853,  but  the  high  tide  of  rev- 
olutionary action  in  Europe  had  been  succeeded  by  a  steady 
ebb,  and  before  he  was  able  to  carry  it  into  execution  he  and  his 
compatriots  were  arrested,  several  were  executed,  and  others, 
including  himself,  were  banished.  Two  of  his  sisters  found 
refuge  in  the  United  States,  where  their  dust  now  reposes.  He 
never  wearied  in  the  struggle  for  his  people,  and  maintained 
himself  by  delivering,  public  lectures.  When  Sardinia  and  Aus- 
tria became  involved  in  war,  in  which  France  joined  later,  he 
hastened  to  Paris,  hoping  that  the  war  might  be  extended  to 


202  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

the  invasion  of  Hungary,  with  a  view  to  its  final  liberation,  but 
that  war  was  brief  and  was  summarily  ended  at  Solferino,  where 
Napoleon  defeated  the  Austrian  Emperor  and  made  peace. 
Kossuth  then  resided  in  London  for  a  decade  or  more,  earning 
a  precarious  living  by  his  pen,  and  later  on  he  settled  in  Turin, 
where  he  devoted  himself  to  scientific  studies  and  wrote  his 
memoirs,  which  have  since  been  published.  He  was  elected  to 
the  Hungarian  Diet  while  in  voluntary  exile,  but  he  declined 
to  sit  as  a  legislator  in  his  country  when  Austria  could  annul 
the  laws  he  enacted.  Feeble  health  came  with  advancing  age, 
and  for  many  years  before  his  death  he  lived  in  poverty,  unwilling 
to  accept  the  contributions  which  would  have  come  from  many 
friends,  and  his  great  life  ended  on  the  2Oth  of  March,  1894,  in 
one  of  the  humblest  abodes  of  Turin,  where  Louis  Kossuth  died 
without  fortune,  home  or  country. 


OUR  BEAUTIFUL  NATIONAL  CAPITAL. 

A  recent  visit  to  our  national  capital,  now  the  most  beautiful 
city  of  the  world,  impressively  recalls  the  stride  of  magnificent 
improvement  that  has  lifted  Washington  out  of  its  disjointed 
and  generally  repulsive  condition  of  40  years  ago.  Its  grand 
thoroughfares  of  today  were  then  often  almost  impassable  dur- 
ing unfavorable  seasons,  and  the  capital  was  a  mob  of  soldiers, 
contractors  and  adventurers.  I  have  seen  army  mule  teams 
stalled  in  the  mud  of  Pennsylvania  avenue,  then  as  now  its  finest 
thoroughfare.  It  then  had  here  and  there  stately  hotels  and 
business  houses,  sandwiched  in  between  rag-tag  and  bob-tail 
styles  of  structure  which  would  now  disgrace  a  Washington 
alley.  The  White  House,  the  Treasury  building,  the  Capitol 
and  the  Interior  building  were  then  the  only  imposing  official 
edifices  of  the  nation.  Seward  began  his  great  work  as  Secre- 
tary of  State  in  a  tumble-down  brick  building  attached  to  one 
end  of  the  Treasury,  and  Cameron  and  Wells  began  the  huge 
task  of  constructing  an  army  and  navy  in  a  battered  and  shat- 
tered brick  building  that  has  since  been  replaced  by  a  magnifi- 
cent structure  for  the  same  departments  and  the  Secretary  of 
State.  The  city  was  a  vast  mass  of  straggling  buildings  with 
little  architectural  display  and  few  signs  of  permanent  business 
activity  and  wealth.  The  Capitol  then  stood  in  its  present  co- 
lossal and  beautiful  proportions  with  the  exception  of  the  dome, 
that  was  not  completed  until  the  war  was  nearly  or  quite  ended. 
The  Washington  monument,  not  half  finished,  stood  during  the 
war  in  the  painful  solitude  that  told  the  story  of  the  nation's 
failure  throughout  nearly  a  century  to  complete  its  tribute  to 
the  Father  of  the  Republic.  Street  railways  were  unknown, 
and  the  seething  mob  was  the  chief  feature  of  the  citadel  of  the 
power  of  the  Republic. 

Lincoln  had  been  inaugurated  as  President  only  a  few  months 
before  the  civil  war  had  called  out  hundreds  of  thousands  of 
grim  reapers  in  the  harvest  of  death,  and  neither  he  nor  any  two 

(203) 


204  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

members  of  his  Cabinet  had  a  clearly-defined  policy  for  the 
Government  to  maintain  the  unity  of  the  States.  About  the 
only  thing  on  which  the  Cabinet  was  in  entire  accord  was  in 
accepting  Abraham  Lincoln  as  entirely  unequal  to  his  great 
duties,  and  a  number  of  them  but  illy  concealed  that  conviction 
from  the  President  himself.  Seward  felt  that  he  was  the  great 
leader  of  the  Republican  party,  and  asserted  himself  to  the 
extent  of  suggesting  the  provocation  of  a  foreign  war,  with  him- 
self as  dictator  in  its  management,  and  the  proposition  was  made 
directly  to  Lincoln.  Most  of  his  Cabinet  were  personal 
strangers  to  him,  and  no  one  had  sustained  anything  like  inti- 
mate relations  with  him.  He  was  without  experience  in  national 
affairs,  having  served  only  a  single  term  in  Congress  without 
distinction,  and  that  was  twelve  years  before  he  became  Presi- 
dent. Every  statesman  of  the  party,  and  every  military  officer 
of  prominence  who  hoped  to  become  a  great  chieftain,  had  a 
policy  of  his  own,  and  it  was  difficult  to  find  any  two  of  them 
who  agreed  in  all  material  details.  I  recall  many  visits  to  Wash- 
ington in  the  very  early  days  of  the  war,  when  a  dispassionate 
examination  of  the  conditions  presented  made  almost  every  hope 
for  the  Republic  perish  in  despair.  There  were  mobs  of  office- 
seekers,  who  clamored  with  all  the  volubility  of  spoilsmen;  there 
were  mobs  of  contractors  inspired  by  the  single  purpose  to  rob 
the  Government  in  what  they  regarded  as  its  dying  agonies,  and 
the  adventurer  and  the  adventuress  plied  their  vocations  on 
every  hand.  The  one  man  who  stood  apparently  alone  in 
heroic  hopefulness  and  tireless  patience  was  Abraham  Lincoln. 
He  had  faith  in  God,  in  free  government,  in  the  people  and  in 
himself.  I  can  never  forget  the  mingled  pathos  and  earnestness 
with  which  I  once  heard  him  define  his  attitude  as  one  who 
was  sitting  in  a  vast  temple  hearing  the  clamor  of  those  who 
wanted  to  enter  and  enjoy  it,  when  its  consuming  flames  were 
kissing  the  heavens.  He  had  no  policy,  because  it  was  for 
events  and  conditions  to  dictate  the  policy  of  the  Government. 
He  calmly  waited,  quietly  and  patiently  forebore  with  the  com- 
plaints and  importunities  of  others,  and  in  the  fullness  of  time 
he  gave  the  people  back  a  reunited  country,  with  freedom  uni- 
versal within  its  domains,  and  sealed  his  great  work  with  his 
blood  when  the  assassin  laid  him  low. 

Washington  at  that  time  consisted  of  two  entirely  different 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  205 

communities,  divided  by  official  and  social  lines.  Georgetown, 
which  is  now  simply  a  pretty  suburb  of  our  great  capital,  was 
then  the  centre  of  culture,  refinement  and  social  exclusiveness. 
It  had  welcomed  the  earlier  Presidents  who  came  with  the 
bluest  blood  of  Virginia  to  grace  official  circles,  but  when  the 
corncob  pipe  and  the  stone  jug  came  with  Jackson  an  impassa- 
ble chasm  was  made  between  the  social  and  the  political  circles 
of  the  capital.  They  were  somewhat  mingled  under  Van  Buren 
and  Tyler  and  Polk  and  Taylor,  but  when  the  ungainly  form  of 
the  rail  splitter  came  to  the  White  House,  alien  to  the  aristo- 
cratic circles  of  Georgetown  alike  by  birth  and  conviction,  the 
social  rulers  of  the  capital  paid  little  tribute  to  the  political 
powers  beyond  playing  the  part  of  spy  to  give  prompt  informa- 
tion to  the  enemies  of  the  Republic  of  the  movements  of  the 
Government.  Lincoln  had  no  time  and  less  inclination  for 
social  recognition,  and  I  have  seen  his  Presidential  carriage  on 
the  streets  of  the  capital  driven  by  a  coachman  not  only  without 
semblance  of  livery,  but  fitly  clad  to  hold  the  reins  of  a  night- 
hawk.  The  first  story  of  the  national  Capitol  was  converted 
into  a  vast  bakery  to  feed  the  brave  boys  in  blue  who  were 
organized  to  fight  the  battle  for  the  Union,  and  confusion  and 
dilapidation  were  visible  on  every  hand. 

General  Winfield  Scott  was  then  regarded  by  all  as  the  bul- 
wark of  safety  for  the  Republic.  He  was  the  hero  of  two  wars, 
was  a  Major  General  in  the  army  before  I  was  born,  and  was 
accepted  by  the  entire  country  as  the  great  Captain  of  the 
age.  I  saw  him  for  the  first  time  the  morning  after  the  sur- 
render of  Sumter,  when  I  had  been  summoned  as  chairman  of 
the  Military  Committee  of  the  Senate  to  accompany  Governor 
Curtin  to  Washington  for  consultation  with  the  President, 
General  Scott  and  Secretary  Cameron.  It  was  known  that  he 
was  feeble  physically;  that  he  was  unable  to  mount  a  horse 
because  of  a  spinal  affection,  but  it  was  generally  believed  that 
his  mental  faculties  were  unabated.  The  conference  was  brief, 
as  all  agreed  as  to  the  duty  to  be  performed  by  Pennsylvania; 
but  I  was  anxious  to  see  much  more  of  the  great  hero  who 
had  been  one  of  my  idols  from  earliest  boyhood.  He  stood  in 
the  window  overlooking  the  Potomac  to  the  Virginia  hills  be- 
yond, and  I  saw  his  gray  eye,  which  was  greatly  dimmed  by  the 
waste  of  years,  moisten  with  scalding  tears  as  he  pointed  to 


206  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

Virginia,  his  home — the  State  to  which  he  had  been  taught  to 
maintain  allegiance — and  in  a  tremulous  voice  express  his  ap- 
prehension that  Virginia  would  now  join  the  secession  move- 
ment. He  was  undoubtedly  thoroughly  loyal,  but  it  was  sorrow's 
crown  of  sorrow  for  him  to  draw  his  sword  against  Virginia.  He 
remained  with  Governor  Curtin  and  myself  a  considerable  time, 
during  which  the  conditions  of  the  country,  the  dangers  of 
Washington  and  the  questions  of  war  were  generally  discussed, 
and  it  soon  became  painfully  evident  that  the  old  chieftain  had 
outlived  his  days  of  usefulness,  and  that  he  was  utterly  unequal 
to  the  appalling  task  he  had  accepted.  I  well  remember  when 
we  descended  the  stairs  after  leaving  the  President's  room  Gov- 
ernor Curtin  throwing  up  both  hands  and  exclaiming:  "My 
God,  the  country  is  at  the  mercy  of  a  dotard!"  That  Scott 
most  patriotically  attempted  to  perform  his  duties  was  never 
questioned,  but  he  was  so  visibly  outgeneraled  in  the  first  battle 
of  the  war  by  the  division  of  his  command,  while  the  enemy 
united  against  inferior  numbers  and  won  the  victory,  that  the 
question  of  displacement  became  only  one  of  time.  Soon  there- 
after he  retired  and  lived  to  see  and  rejoice  over  a  reunited 
country. 

The  situation  in  Washington  at  that  time  as  generally  ac- 
cepted by  intelligent  observers  was  very  tersely  presented  by 
Mr.  Stanton's  private  letters  to  ex-President  Buchanan.  Stan- 
ton  had  been  in  the  Buchanan  Cabinet  during  the  closing 
months  of  the  term,  and  wrote  many  private  letters  to  his  old 
friend  and  chief,  portraying  what  he  called  "the  painful  imbecil- 
ity of  Lincoln"  and  the  "venality  and  corruption"  which  seemed 
to  pervade  the  different  departments  of  the  Government,  and 
which,  as  he  expressed  it,  could  not  be  improved  "until  Jeff 
Davis  turns  out  the  whole  concern."  In  one  letter  to  Buchanan, 
written  after  the  defeat  of  Bull  Run,  he  said  that  "in  less 
than  thirty  days  Davis  will  be  in  possession  of  Washington." 
Stanton  was  then  the  close  friend  and  adviser  of  General  Mc- 
Clellan,  and  it  was  well  known  in  the  Administration  circles  and 
to  Lincoln  himself  that  Stanton  earnestly  urged  McClellan  to 
overthrow  the  constitutional  Government  because  of  weakness 
and  incapacity,  and  declare  himself  dictator.  One  year  later 
Stanton  became  the  great  War  Minister  under  Lincoln,  whom 
he  had  never  met  since  Lincoln's  inauguration  as  President  until 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  207 

he  was  summoned  to  the  White  House  to  receive  his  com- 
mission charging  him  with  the  war  portfolio. 

The  men  whose  names  have  been  immortalized  by  achieve- 
ments in  our  civil  war  were  then  unknown  to  fame.  McClellan 
was  chief  engineer  of  a  Western  railroad,  and  received  his  first 
military  commission  for  the  civil  war  from  the  Governor  of 
Ohio  which  gave  him  command  of  a  small  army  that  operated 
in  Western  Virginia,  where  he  won  several  victories  over  small 
bodies  of  undisciplined  troops  in  actions  which  two  years  later 
would  hardly  have  been  regarded  as  a  skirmish.  Grant  was 
clerk  in  the  tanning  establishment  of  his  father  and  brother  in 
Galena,  earning  $800  a  year,  a  salary  that  was  made  more  liberal 
because  of  his  relations  to  his  employers  and  of  his  own  neces- 
sities rather  than  because  of  the  value  of  his  services.  Sherman 
had  just  resigned  his  position  as  teacher  in  a  military  school  in 
Louisiana  because  of  his  impetuous  hostility  to  secession,  and 
regarded  himself  as  very  comfortably  fixed  in  St.  Louis  as 
officer  of  a  street  railway  company,  with  a  salary  of  $2500. 
Sheridan  was  a  lieutenant  on  the  frontier,  and  when  he  heard 
of  the  war  he  whirled  his  cap  over  his  head  after  the  manner  of 
the  then  wild  and  woolly  West,  and  said:  "Here's  for  a  cap- 
tain's commission  or  a  soldier's  grave."  Meade  was  a  captain 
serving  as  an  engineer  on  the  Northwestern  lakes,  and  Thomas 
was  a  captain  whose  Virginia  birth  and  severely  modest  reti- 
cence gave  him  hesitating  promotion  when  the  regular  army 
was  increased.  Farragut  and  Porter  had  not  risen  above  the 
position  of  commander,  and  were  unknown  to  fame.  Dewey 
had  just  reached  the  rank  of  lieutenant  in  the  navy,  as  had  Ben- 
ham  and  Ramsey.  Sampson  and  Schley  were  only  masters, 
and  Clark  was  a  cadet  at  the  Naval  Academy. 

Of  those  then  prominent  in  the  army,  from  Scott  down,  who 
were  relied  upon  as  the  men  who  should  become  chieftains  in 
the  great  battle  for  the  maintenance  of  the  Union,  not  one  was 
among  the  recognized  heroes  of  the  war  when  peace  finally 
came  at  Appomattox.  In  Greeley's  "American  Conflict/'  the  first 
volume  of  which  gives  a  very  concise  history  of  the  causes  which 
produced  the  war,  and  the  second  presents  as  correct  a  story 
in  brief  of  the  achievements  as  could  be  given  at  that  time,  there 
are  two  full-page  engravings  bearing  the  same  title.  In  the 
first  volume  the  heroes  of  the  Union  are  grouped  around  Scott, 


208  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

and  the  faces  are  McClellan,  Wool,  Fremont,  Banks  and  others, 
in  the  second  volume  a  like  group  of  the  heroes  of  the  war  is 
presented  that  does  not  contain  a  single  face  that  is  given  in  the 
first.  The  leading  Southern  Generals  as  a  rule  held  their  posi- 
tions and  emerged  from  the  war  having  fulfilled  the  expecta- 
tions of  their  people  in  heroism,  while  the  Union  armies  never 
had  permanent  commanders  who  held  their  positions  and  won 
advancement,  until  Grant  and  Sherman  started  out  in  the  mem- 
orable campaigns  of  1864.  Thus  during  the  first  three  years 
of  the  war  there  was  always  a  large  element  of  distrust  caused 
by  our  military  commanders.  The  army  of  the  Potomac,  that 
made  the  most  heroic  record  of  any  army  in  any  war,  consider- 
ing that  commander  after  commander  failed,  was  led  to  final 
victory  by  the  tanner  from  Galena. 

When  the  Thirty-seventh  Congress  first  met  in  special  session 
July  4,  1861,  the  seats  of  Alabama,  Arkansas,  Louisiana,  Mis- 
sissippi, North  Carolina,  South  Carolina  and  Texas  were  vacant 
in  both  Senate  and  House,  and  the  men  who  fought  the  great 
battles  in  the  national  councils  for  the  maintenance  of  the  army, 
the  preservation  of  the  national  credit  and  the  reconstruction 
of  the  severed  States  have  nearly  all  passed  away.  I  can  recall 
the  name  of  but  one  man  in  the  Congress  of  1861,  who  is  now 
in  the  national  legislature.  Galusha  A.  Grow,  now  Congress- 
man-at-Large  from  Pennsylvania,  was  speaker  of  the  first  war 
Congress,  and  is  the  only  one  of  all  the  statesmen  of  forty  years 
ago  who  will  meet  with  the  coming  Congress.  If  he  shall  live 
to  serve  out  his  present  term  he  will  retire  on  the  4th  of  March, 
1902,  just  fifty-two  years  after  having  first  entered  Congress  as 
the  successor  of  David  Wilmot.  He  will  not  only  be  alone  in 
the  next  Congress  as  a  national  legislator  who  met  the  shock 
of  civil  war,  but  I  cannot  recall  the  name  of  one  of  his  associates 
in  the  Pennsylvania  delegation  who  is  now  among  the  living. 

Discordant  as  were  the  councils  of  the  Republican  leaders,  the 
imperious  necessities  of  the  varied  conditions  which  confronted 
them  compelled  unity  of  action,  and  the  great  struggle  of  eight 
years,  covering  the  period  of  the  war  and  reconstruction  under 
President  Johnson,  developed  a  standard  of  statesmanship  that 
has  certainly  never  been  surpassed  at  any  period  of  the  nation's 
history  since  the  fathers  of  the  Republic  founded  it,  and  was  not 
more  than  equaled  even  by  those  who  reared  the  present  great 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  209 

structure  of  free  government.  Stevens  became  the  Commoner 
of  the  war  and  ruled  with  imperial  power,  and  he  ever  had 
around  him  a  galaxy  of  brilliant  and  heroic  representatives,  who 
in  every  emergency  yielded  all  to  the  cause  of  the  Union.  In 
the  Senate  the  names  of  Trumbull,  of  Illinois;  Grimes  and  Har- 
lan,  of  Iowa;  Fessenden,  of  Maine;  Sumner  and  Wilson,  of 
Massachusetts;  Chandler,  of  Michigan;  Henderson,  of  Missouri; 
King  and  Harris,  of  New  York;  Sherman  and  Wade,  of  Ohio, 
and  Anthony,  of  Rhode  Island,  were  made  to  stand  out  among 
the  most  lustrous  in  American  statesmanship.  They  had  even 
greater  problems  to  solve  than  had  the  Fathers  of  the  Republic, 
and  they  accomplished  what  had  never  been  attained  in  the 
history  of  civilized  nations — the  reunion  of  divided  States  which 
had  maintained  the  most  heroic  war  of  history  for  four  long 
years.  All  such  wars  of  the  past  left  victors  and  vanquished  as 
masters  and  subjects,  but  in  five  years  after  peace  was  attained 
the  Confederate  chieftain  became  a  national  lawmaker,  and  later 
sat  in  the  Cabinet  of  the  conqueror  of  Lee. 

With  the  restoration  of  peace  and  the  reunion  of  the  States 
came  the  first  great  impetus  for  the  improvement  of  our  national 
capital.  The  colossal  Goddess  of  Liberty  that  was  mounted  on 
the  dome  of  our  beautiful  Capitol  structure  came  just  in  time  to 
proclaim  the  complete  reunion  of  the  States  so  long  drenched 
in  fraternal  conflict.  The  District  of  Columbia  was  dignified 
by  the  creation  of  a  complete  local  government,  embracing  a 
Governor  and  local  Legislature,  and  the  Republican  Con- 
gress, to  be  consistent  with  its  policy,  gave  universal  suffrage 
to  the  residents  of  the  District,  by  which  the  colored  population, 
largely  illiterate,  became  the  controlling  political  power.  Gov- 
ernor Cook  inaugurated  the  new  government  with  imposing 
ceremonies,  but  soon  found  that  his  task  was  a  most  ungracious 
one  because  of  the  reckless  legislative  authority.  Governor 
Shepherd  accepted  the  succession,  and  he  did  in  Washington 
what  Caesar  did  for  Rome,  who  found  the  City  of  Seven  Hills 
in  brick  and  left  it  in  marble. 

Shepherd  was  in  advance  of  his  time  in  his  grand  conceptions 
of  what  our  national  capital  should  be,  and  must  be  in  time. 
That  he  had  to  deal  with  corrupt  authority  is  not  doubted,  but 
he  made  the  best  use  of  his  power  that  was  possible,  and  he 
literally  created  the  present  beautiful  city  of  Washington,  with 


210  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

its  wide  and  well-paved  streets,  its  magnificent  angles,  its  green 
shades  and  its  grand  monuments.  He  aroused  fearful  antago- 
nism, was  violently  assailed  as  a  corruptionist,  and  finally  lit- 
erally driven  from  his  authority  and  home  and  popular  govern- 
ment abolished;  but  how  many  are  there  in  Washington  today 
who  do  not  point  with  pride  to  the  achievements  of  Governor 
Shepherd?  He  gave  up  his  home  in  the  capital  that  he  had 
beautified,  soiled  in  reputation  and  broken  in  fortune,  and  since 
then  he  has  been  away  in  the  mountains  of  Mexico.  When 
recently  in  the  land  of  the  successors  of  the  Aztecs  I  made 
special  inquiry  about  Governor  Shepherd,  and  would  gladly  have 
visited  him  had  it  been  possible,  but  I  found  that  he  was  away  in 
the  mountains  hundreds  of  miles  distant,  and  could  be  reached 
only  by  traveling  nearly  one  hundred  miles  of  mountains,  without 
even  a  wagon  road.  He  has  acquired  fortune,  and  seems  to 
have  no  desire  to  return  to  the  city  that  he  so  grandly  em- 
bellished as  to  make  it  the  pride  of  the  nation  and  command 
the  homage  of  the  world.  I  never  drive  over  the  elegant  streets 
of  Washington  and  witness  the  succession  of  beautiful  views 
constantly  presented  without  thinking  kindly  of  Governor  Shep- 
herd, and  feeling  more  than  willing  to  forgive  him  for  all  the 
faults  of  which  he  was  accused,  even  if  the  charges  had  been 
somewhat  warranted.  I  think  it  only  just  to  say  that  he  was  more 
sinned  against  than  sinning,  and  that  his  name  should  linger 
in  the  grateful  memories  of  every  resident  of  our  national 
capital. 

I  recently  met  in  the  White  House  and  had  a  pleasant  chat 
with  the  President  of  the  United  States,  sitting  in  the  same 
window  in  which  I  had  first  met  General  Scott  just  forty  years 
ago,  when  the  thunders  of  civil  war  appalled  the  country.  The 
present  President  was  then  not  three  years  old,  and  in  emerging 
from  the  Executive  Mansion  I  met  the  Secretary  of  State, 
silvered  with  age  and  a  halting  step  that  told  the  story  of  broken 
health.  I  first  saw  him  in  the  White  House  as  a  handsome 
and  unusually  bright  boy  hardly  out  of  his  teens,  whose  chief 
concern  seemed  to  be  the  cultivation  of  a  then  stubbornly 
hesitating  mustache.  He  has  since  then  taken  high  rank  in 
American  literature,  honored  the  country  as  Minister  to  the 
first  court  of  Europe,  and  now  commands  the  confidence  of  the 
country  as  the  Premier  under  two  Presidents.  Most  of  the 


COLONEL  A.  K.   McCLURE 

as  he  looked  in  the  sixties  when  he  knew  Lincoln. 
From  an  old  print. 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  211 

members  of  the  Cabinet  were  too  young  to  make  any  record 
for  themselves  during  the  severe  trial  in  the  flame  of  battle  for 
the  preservation  of  the  Union,  and  only  a  few  of  the  old  veterans 
of  field  and  forum  now  linger  around  the  departments  or 
tell  the  thrilling  story  of  war  times  at  the  clubs  and  in  social 
circles.  The  Washington  of  today  is  an  entirely  new  city  trans- 
formed from  the  bleak  desolation  and  confusion  of  1861,  and  a 
new  generation  wields  the  power  of  the  Government  in  every 
department  of  authority  over  the  most  intelligent,  progressive 
and  prosperous  nation  the  world  has  ever  known. 


WHY  SEWARD    COULD    NOT   BE 
PRESIDENT. 

Next  to  Abraham  Lincoln,  William  Henry  Seward  has  writ- 
ten the  most  lustrous  chapters  in  the  annals  of  the  Republican 
party.  He  was  one  of  its  earliest  champions  and  admittedly  its 
ablest,  from  the  time  of  its  organization  until  the  death  of  Lin- 
coln, when  he  remained  in  the  Johnson  Cabinet  to  follow  the 
waning  political  fortunes  of  his  new  chief,  and  thus  became  sep- 
arated from  his  early  political  associates.  After  serving  as 
Premier  of  the  Johnson  administration  until  near  its  close,  he 
saw  the  unmistakable  trend  of  public  conviction,  and  delivered 
his  last  political  speech  at  his  home  on  the  eve  of  the  election, 
in  which  he  intimated  rather  than  declared  his  purpose  to  vote 
for  Grant,  the  Republican  candidate  for  President. 

Seward  was  born  in  Florida,  Orange  county,  N.  Y.,  on  the 
i6th  day  of  May,  1801.  He  developed  a  great  fondness  for 
study,  and  after  a  protracted  struggle,  interrupted  at  times  by 
the  necessity  of  teaching  to  sustain  himself,  he  finally  graduated 
at  Union  College  in  1820.  He  was  admitted  to  the  Bar  at  Utica 
in  1822,  and  the  following  year  made  Auburn  his  permanent 
home.  He  took  an  active  part  in  the  support  of  John  Quincy 
Adams  for  President  against  Jackson  in  1824  and  1828,  and  he 
was  one  of  the  most  prominent  leaders  in  organizing  and  sup- 
porting the  Anti-Masonic  party,  which  had  its  birth  in  New 
York  State,  inspired  by  the  alleged  murder  of  Morgan;  and  in 
1830  he  was  elected  by  the  Anti-Masons  to  the  State  Senate.  In 
1833  he  visited  Europe,  and  in  1834  the  Whig  party  was  first 
organized  in  New  York  State,  and  nominated  Seward  as  its 
candidate  for  Governor.  He  was  supported  by  the  united  Whigs 
and  Anti-Masons,  but  his  competitor  was  William  L.  Marcy, 
then  a  candidate  for  re-election  and  one  of  the  ablest  Demo- 
cratic leaders  of  his  time.  Seward  made  a  brave  battle,  but  his 
followers  were  practically  without  organization,  as  the  Whig 
party  was  in  its  early  infancy  and  Anti-Masonry  in  its  dying 

(212) 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  213 

throes,  and  he  was  defeated  by  12,892  majority.  He  continued 
his  active  participation  in  politics,  and  in  1838  he  was  recog- 
nized as  the  leader  of  leaders  in  opposition  to  the  Democracy 
of  the  Empire  State.  He  was  renominated  for  Governor  in  that 
year  against  his  old  competitor,  William  L.  Marcy,  who  had 
held  the  office  for  three  consecutive  terms;  and  after  a  very 
earnest  contest  Seward  was  elected  by  a  majority  of  10,421.  In 
1840  he  was  re-elected,  but  by  a  greatly  reduced  majority  be- 
cause of  the  agitation  of  the  school  question.  On  retiring  from 
the  Gubernatorial  office  in  1843  ne  resumed  the  practice  of  his 
profession  until  1849,  when  he  was  chosen  to  the  United  States 
Senate.  He  was  re-elected  to  the  Senate  in  1855,  and  would 
have  been  again  elected  in  1861  but  for  the  fact  that  before  the 
meeting  of  the  Legislature  he  had  accepted  the  position  of  Sec- 
retary of  State  under  Lincoln. 

In  1856  Seward  was  confessedly  the  leader  of  the  Republi- 
cans. He  had  very  able  associates,  such  as  Sumner  and  Chase, 
both  of  whom  had  been  elected  to  the  Senate  by  the  Demo- 
cratic votes  of  their  respective  Legislatures,  with  Trumbull  of 
Illinois,  Harlan  of  Iowa,  Fessenden  and  Hamlin  of  Maine,  Wil- 
son of  Massachusetts,  Chandler  of  Michigan,  King  of  New 
York  and  Wade  of  Ohio;  but  even  with  such  a  galaxy  of  intel- 
lectual forces  associated  with  him  he  was  confessedly  the  party 
leader  alike  in  Senatorial  debate,  on  the  hustings  and  in  politi- 
cal councils.  Had  it  been  deemed  expedient  to  consult  the 
preferences  of  the  Republicans  in  naming  the  first  Republican 
candidate  in  1856,  Seward  would  have  been  nominated  for  Pres- 
ident without  a  serious  contest,  and  Lincoln  would  have  been 
with  him  for  Vice-President.  The  Republican  party  was  then 
in  an  embryo  state,  without  organization  or  cohesion,  and  em- 
bracing many  elements  of  discord  in  its  composition,  and 
Seward  was  advised  by  such  shrewd  leaders  as  Thurlow  Weed 
and  the  elder  Francis  P.  Blair  that  he  must  yield  his  Presiden- 
tial aspirations  for  the  time  in  favor  of  Fremont,  who  had  the 
advantage  of  a  romantic  career  without  a  political  record  that 
could  embarrass  any  of  the  elements  of  the  new  party.  I  was 
a  member  of  the  convention,  and  would  gladly  have  accepted 
Seward  or  any  of  the  other  candidates  named  in  preference  to 
Fremont,  but  Se ward's  friends  were  heartily  enlisted  in  favor  of 
the  "Pathfinder,"  and  Fremont  was  made  a  candidate  practi- 


214  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

cally  by  friends  of  Seward,  who  expected  Fremont  to  take  the 
chances  of  defeat  and  clear  the  course  for  Seward  in  1860. 

I  had  become  acquainted  with  Seward  early  in  the  '505,  and, 
like  all  who  had  the  advantage  of  personal  intercourse  with  him, 
was  much  attracted  by  his  many  fascinating  attributes.  No  one 
of  the  other  great  Republican  leaders  possessed  in  such  an  emi- 
nent degree  the  qualities  of  leadership.  Sumner,  Trumbull  and 
Wade  had  intellectual  force,  but  Trumbull  was  a  lawyer  and  a 
Judge  rather  than  a  politician;  Wade  was  offensively  blunt  in 
his  deliverances — thus  often  needlessly  making  enemies — and 
his  judgment  was  distrusted  in  the  party  councils,  and  Sumner 
cultivated  an  ideal  statesmanship  that  placed  him  outside  the 
lines  of  practical  politics.  Fessenden  was  more  nearly  a  copy  of 
Seward  in  temperament  and  discretion,  but  readily  conceded 
the  masterly  ability  of  his  chief. 

Seward  never  spoke  from  impulse.  He  had  been  carefully 
trained  in  his  political  methods  by  Thurlow  Weed,  who  was  the 
most  astute  politician  of  his  day  in  any  party,  and  who  well  un- 
derstood the  two  great  attributes  essential  to  success  in  politics 
— (i)  the  value  of  silence,  and  (2)  the  necessity  of  thought 
before  utterance.  All  of  the  many  great  speeches  made  by 
Seward  were  prepared  in  a  most  painstaking  manner.  He  was 
not  magnetic  like  Clay  or  Elaine,  but  he  knew  how  to  make  all 
welcome  who  came  within  the  range  of  his  presence,  and  he 
possessed  every  quality  of  a  political  master.  I  saw  him  after 
the  nomination  of  Fremont,  and,  while  he  spoke  somewhat 
hopefully  of  the  battle,  he  evidently  expected  that  the  first  Re- 
publican candidate  for  President  would  be  defeated,  but  that  in 
the  second  battle  the  party  could  win,  and  he  did  not  cherish  a 
doubt  that  he  would  be  the  candidate.  He  fully  appreciated  his 
position  as  the  confessed  leader  of  what  he  believed  was  to  be 
one  of  the  great  parties  in  the  history  of  the  country,  and  had 
he  reached  the  Presidency  under  ordinary  conditions  he  would 
have  made  a  great  administration;  but  no  greatness  of  human 
character  is  perfect,  and  the  limitations  upon  Seward's  intellec- 
tual powers  were  painfully  exhibited  in  the  early  days  of  the 
war.  For  many  months  after  the  inauguration  of  Lincoln  he 
predicted  the  adjustment  of  the  secession  trouble  within  sixty 
days,  and  when  war  was  accepted  as  inevitable  by  nearly  all  but 
himself  he  conceived  the  utterly  illogical  and  unstatesmanlike 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  215 

policy  of  forcing  a  foreign  war,  and  bowed  to  the  mastery  of  his 
disappointment  in  the  choice  of  Lincoln  as  President  by  for- 
mally assuming  that  Lincoln  was  unequal  to  the  grave  duties 
of  his  position,  proposing  to  inaugurate  a  foreign  war  and  to 
conduct  it  himself  as  dictator.  His  long  cherished  hope  of 
reaching  the  Presidency  had  perished,  and  that  seemed  to  have 
unbalanced  his  great  intellectual  forces,  wherein  he  simply  re- 
peated the  history  of  many  others  who  had  hoped  and  failed  as 
he  did. 

There  have  been  many  explanations  given  of  the  causes  which 
led  to  the  failure  of  Seward  to  be  nominated  for  President  at 
Chicago  in  1860,  resulting  in  the  nomination  of  Lincoln.  Sew- 
ard's  position  and  strength  as  leader  of  the  party  were  equal 
to  that  of  Clay  in  the  Whig  party  in  1844,  and  certainly  three- 
fourths  of  the  Republicans  of  the  country  expected  and  desired 
him  to  be  their  candidate.  Cameron  was  honored  with  a  com- 
plimentary nomination  for  President  in  Pennsylvania,  Chase  in 
Ohio  and  Bates  in  Missouri,  and  until  after  the  meeting  of  the 
Republican  State  Convention  in  Illinois  Lincoln  was  discussed 
as  a  Presidential  candidate  only  with  a  view  of  making  him 
either  the  second  man  on  the  ticket  or  strengthening  him  for  a 
future  nomination  for  the  first  place.  Cameron's  delegation 
was  not  sincerely  for  him,  Chase's  delegation  was  divided, 
Bates'  delegation  regarded  his  cause  as  hopeless,  and  one-third 
of  the  delegates  chosen  in  Illinois  and  instructed  for  Lincoln 
were  avowed  Seward  men,  and  were  held  to  Lincoln  only  by 
the  reasonable  certainty  that  Lincoln  would  be  nominated. 

I  attended  the  convention  with  Governor  Curtin,  then  our 
candidate  for  Governor,  who  had  charged  me  with  the  manage- 
ment of  the  campaign  in  Pennsylvania,  and  there  met  Henry 
S.  Lane,  candidate  for  Governor  in  Indiana,  with  John  D.  De- 
Frees,  his  chairman.  Pennsylvania  and  Indiana  were  the  piv- 
otal States,  as  they  had  to  choose  their  Governors  in  October. 
If  they  voted  Republican  the  Republican  President  was  assured 
of  success;  if  they  were  defeated,  national  defeat  for  the  Re- 
publicans was  inevitable.  Neither  Lane  nor  Curtin  had  any 
personal  hostility  to  Seward.  On  the  contrary,  they  would 
gladly  have  supported  him  and  made  him  President  had  it  been 
possible,  but  they  were  compelled  to  face  the  one  insuperable 
obstacle  to  Seward's  success,  and  they  declared  that  his  no-mi- 


2l6  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

nation  must  mean  their  defeat.  These  two  men  were  instru- 
mental in  making  a  convention,  two-thirds  of  whose  delegates 
were  earnestly  for  Seward,  abandon  him,  not  because  they  loved 
Seward  less,  but  because  they  regarded  Republican  success  as 
paramount. 

It  was  Seward's  attitude  on  the  school  question  when  Gov- 
ernor of  New  York  that  made  his  election  impossible  in  1860. 
He  was  a  man  of  liberal  ideas  and  positive  convictions,  and 
when  he  was  nominated  for  Governor  in  1838  he  was  given  im- 
portant support  by  the  quiet  efforts  of  Archbishop  John 
Hughes,  then  the  ablest  prelate  of  the  Catholic  Church  in  Amer- 
ica. This  question  has  been  superficially  discussed,  and  I  think 
it  due  to  the  truth  of  history  to  present  the  actual  political  con- 
dition that  confronted  the  Republican  leaders  at  Chicago  in 
1860  by  giving  Seward's  own  utterances  on  the  school  ques- 
tion. In  his  annual  message  to  the  Legislature,  January  7,  1840, 
he  said: 

"The  children  of  foreigners  found  in  great  numbers  in  our 
populous  cities  and  towns  and  in  the  vicinity  of  our  public 
works  are  too  often  deprived  of  the  advantages  of  our  system 
of  public  education  in  consequence  of  prejudice  arising  from  a 
difference  of  language  or  religion.  It  ought  never  to  be  for- 
gotten that  the  public  welfare  is  as  deeply  concerned  in  their 
education  as  in  that  of  our  own  children.  I  do  not  hesitate, 
therefore,  to  recommend  the  establishment  of  schools  in  which 
they  may  be  instructed  by  teachers  speaking  the  same  language 
with  themselves  and  professing  the  same  faith." 

Seward's  message  on  the  subject  was  very  elaborate,  review- 
ing the  whole  question  of  educating  the  children  of  the  State 
with  great  earnestness  and  force.  In  the  same  message  he  said 
that  the  issue  was  "whether  parents  have  a  right  to  be  heard 
concerning  the  instruction  and  instructors  of  their  children,  and 
taxpayers  in  relation  to  the  expenditure  of  public  funds;  whether 
in  a  republican  Government  it  is  necessary  to  interpose  an  in- 
dependent corporation  between  the  people  and  the  schoolmaster, 
and  whether  it  is  wise  and  just  to  disfranchise  an  entire  com- 
munity of  all  control  over  public  education  rather  than  suffer 
a  part  to  be  represented  in  proportion  to  its  numbers  and  con- 
tributions. Since  such  considerations  are  now  involved,  what 
has  hitherto  been  discussed  as  a  question  of  benevolence  and  of 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.         217 

universal  education  has  become  one  of  equal  civil  rights,  re- 
ligious tolerance  and  liberty  of  conscience." 

This  proposition  from  Governor  Seward  to  divide  the  school 
fund  of  New  York  aroused  very  fierce  and  bitter  discussion,  and 
made  him  very  narrowly  escape  defeat  for  re-election  in  the 
great  Harrison  sweep  of  1840.  But  for  the  overwhelming  tidal 
wave  against  Van  Buren  that  intensified  the  contest  in  Van 
Buren's  own  State,  Seward  would  certainly  have  been  defeated; 
but  he  was  re-elected  by  a  majority  of  5,285.  Some  time  after 
Seward's  re-election  in  1840  Archbishop  Hughes  addressed  a 
letter  of  congratulation  to  him,  to  which  Seward  replied  May 
1 8,  1841,  and  made  the  letter  public,  elaborately  reviewing  the 
school  question  and  reiterating  his  earnest  purpose  to  divide 
the  school  fund  of  the  State  between  the  Catholics  and  Prot- 
estants. He  said: 

"I  know  that  truth  will  ultimately  become  acceptable,  and  so 
in  regard  to  the  present  state  of  the  school  question  I  am  de- 
sirous that  the  real  interest  of  the  Catholics  in  the  question 
should  be  known.  If  it  were  true,  as  some  contend,  that  none 
but  Catholic  children  are  neglected,  I  would  nevertheless  main- 
tain that  the  Catholic  children  ought  to  be  educated.  If  it  be 
true  that  none  but  Catholics  complain,  I  uphold  the  Catholics 
in  complaining.  If  Catholics  only  are  offended  in  conscience 
I  maintain  that  that  offence  ought  not  to  be  continued  by  au- 
thority of  law.  Many  Protestants  have  been  offended  because  they 
feared  that,  by  obtaining  equal  advantages  of  education  for  their 
children,  Catholics  might  acquire  undue  influence,  and  on  the 
other  hand  many  Catholics  have  been  led  by  misrepresentation 
to  believe  that  such  liberal  sentiments  as  I  have  advanced  could 
not  be  sincere.  I  am  not  now  a  candidate,  nor  can  I  foresee 
an  occasion  when  I  shall  either  find  it  my  duty  or  have  a  desire 
to  offer  myself  for  the  suffrage  of  my  fellow-citizens.  What- 
ever may  have  been  thought  heretofore,  I  can  afford  now,  at 
least,  to  be  frank  and  honest.  I  reaffirm  all  I  have  promulgated 
concerning  the  policy  of  this  country  in  regard  to  foreigners 
and  the  education  of  their  children." 

Such  was  Seward's  attitude  on  the  school  question,  and  it 
will  not  require  elaborate  investigation,  considering  the  politi- 
cal conditions  which  prevailed  in  1860,  to  reach  the  conclusion 
that  Seward  was  an  impossible  candidate  for  President  if  the 


2i8  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

party  hoped  to  battle  for  success.  The  American  or  Know 
Nothing  party  became  a  powerful  political  factor  in  1854  and 
controlled  the  elections  in  a  number  of  our  States.  It  was  a 
secret,  compact  and  aggressive  organization,  and  held  the  bal- 
ance of  power  in  both  Indiana  and  Pennsylvania  beyond  all 
reasonable  dispute.  Indiana  in  1856  gave  118,670  votes  to 
Buchanan,  94,375  to  Fremont  and  22,586  to  Fillmore,  the  Amer- 
ican candidate,  showing  a  majority  for  Buchanan  over  both  the 
opposing  parties.  In  1858,  when  only  State  officers  were  to  be 
elected  in  Indiana,  the  Democratic  vote  was  107,409,  and  the 
Republican  vote  104,828.  The  Republicans  and  Americans 
united  generally  in  the  election  of  Congressmen  and  carried  eight 
of  the  eleven  Representatives,  but  they  had  not  been  able  to 
harmonize  on  a  State  ticket,  and  in  1860  the  State  was  fairly 
debatable  with  a  certainly  that  the  American  vote  would  con- 
trol the  result.  If  the  American  vote  harmonized  with  the  Re- 
publicans it  assured  the  success  of  that  party;  if  it  supported 
a  third  ticket,  Democratic  success  was  inevitable. 

Like  political  conditions  existed  in  Pennsylvania.  In  1856 
Buchanan  received  230,710  votes;  Fremont,  147,510  votes,  and 
Fillmore,  American,  82,175,  giving  Buchanan  83,200  plurality 
over  Fremont,  but  only  1,025  majority  over  both.  In  1857  ihe 
Democratic  candidate  for  Governor  received  188,887  votes;  the 
Republican,  146,136,  and  the  American,  28,132.  In  1858  the 
old  Whig  and  the  new  Republican  leaders  decided  to  harmonize 
all  the  political  elements  opposed  to  Buchanan's  administration, 
and  they  discarded  both  the  Whig  and  the  Republican  titles, 
held  a  mass  State  convention,  adopted  the  name  of  the  People's 
party,  nominated  candidates  representing  both  the  American 
and  the  Republican  elements,  and  carried  the  State  by  a  vote 
of  198,117  to  171,130.  In  1859  the  People's  convention  again 
nominated  a  State  ticket  representing  the  different  elements 
composing  the  combination,  and  under  the  flag  of  the  People's 
party  carried  the  State  by  a  vote  of  181,835  to  164,540.  In  either 
of  these  contests  the  Republicans  would  have  been  defeated  by 
decisive  majorities  if  the  Americans  had  supported  a  third  ticket. 

Such  were  the  conditions  which  confronted  the  party  leaders 
at  the  Chicago  convention  in  1860.  Had  Seward,  the  most  be- 
loved and  most  generally  desired  candidate  for  the  Presidency, 
been  nominated,  the  American  organization  in  Pennsylvania  and 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  219 

Indiana  would  have  been  quickened  into  renewed  activity  and 
increased  power,  and  would  have  polled  a  vote  in  each  State 
largely  in  excess  of  the  majorities  received  by  Curtin  and  Lane. 
The  obstacle  to  Seward's  success  was  so  plain  when  frankly 
presented  that  none  could  misunderstand  it,  and  even  the  most 
devoted  friends  of  Seward  were  compelled  to  confess  the  force 
of  the  objections  presented.  The  school  agitation  of  twenty 
years  before  had  been  forgotten  outside  of  New  York,  and  by 
very  many  in  that  State,  until  it  was  brought  up  afresh  as  a 
danger  signal  at  Chicago.  Curtin  and  Lane  were  battling  for 
their  own  success,  and  their  success  meant  the  success  of  the 
candidate  for  President  nominated  by  the  convention.  It  is  not 
surprising  that  their  earnest  protests  against  Seward's  nomina- 
tion, although  entirely  free  from  personal  prejudice  against 
Seward,  swerved  the  convention  from  its  purpose;  and  it  was 
the  vote  of  Indiana  and  Pennsylvania  declaring  for  Lincoln  that 
gave  Lincoln  the  victory.  I  heard  Lincoln  on  several  occasions 
refer  to  the  fact,  when  discussing  political  problems,  that  he 
was  nominated  for  the  Presidency  in  a  convention  "that  was 
two-thirds  for  the  other  fellow."  Seward  had  the  ablest  leaders 
at  Chicago  I  have  ever  seen  in  a  national  convention,  with  the 
single  exception  of  the  combinations  of  great  leadership  exhib- 
ited at  the  Grant-Blaine  battle  of  1880,  and  they  fought  for  their 
favorite  until  overwhelmed.  When  Lincoln  was  nominated  they 
seemed  to  be  dumfounded.  The  entire  convention,  with  the  single 
exception  of  the  New  York  delegation,  rose  with  the  5,000  spec- 
tators in  the  wigwam  to  cheer  the  name  of  Lincoln  to  the  echo, 
but  not  a  man  in  the  New  York  delegation  moved,  and  it  was 
some  minutes  after  order  had  been  entirely  restored,  with  the 
whole  convention  waiting  for  New  York  to  speak,  before  Wil- 
liam M.  Evarts  arose,  and,  in  a  tremulous  voice,  moved  that 
the  nomination  of  Lincoln  be  made  unanimous. 

Seward  and  his  friends  were  greatly  offended  at  the  action 
of  Curtin  and  Lane  at  Chicago.  There  was  little  opportunity 
to  punish  Lane,  as  soon  after  his  inauguration  as  Governor  he 
was  elected  to  the  Senate,  but  the  retributive  blow  fell  harshly 
on  Curtin  and  his  friends.  I  was  chairman  of  the  Lincoln  State 
Committee  and  fighting  the  pivotal  struggle  of  the  national  bat- 
tle, but  not  one  dollar  of  assistance  came  from  New  York,  and 
my  letters  to  Thurlow  Weed  and  to  Governor  Morgan,  chair- 


220  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

man  of  the  National  Committee,  were  unanswered.  Seward 
largely  aided  the  appointment  of  a  Cabinet  officer  in  Pennsyl- 
vania who  was  the  most  conspicuous  of  Curtin's  foes,  and  on 
Curtin's  first  visit  to  Seward  as  Secretary  of  State  he  gave  him 
such  a  frigid  reception  that  he  never  thereafter  visited  that  de- 
partment. I  also  called  upon  Seward  simply  to  pay  my  re- 
spects, having  no  favors  to  ask  of  him,  but  he  failed  to  exhibit 
even  ordinary  civility,  and  I  never  had  occasion  to  call  at  the 
State  Department  thereafter  during  his  eight  years  of  service. 

Seward  learned  to  appreciate  Curtin  better  in  1862,  after  Mc- 
Clellan's  defeat  on  the  Peninsula  and  the  final  retreat  of  the 
Union  army  into  the  intrenchments  at  Washington.  Curtin  was 
in  New  York  under  the  care  of  a  surgeon  and  forbidden  to 
leave  his  room.  The  Emancipation  proclamation  had  been  is- 
sued that  caused  a  cold  chill  throughout  the  Republican  ranks, 
and  there  was  little  prospect  of  filling  up  the  broken  ranks  of 
our  armies.  The  administration  became  seriously  alarmed,  and 
Seward  visited  New  York  with  a  view  of  calling  a  conference 
of  the  Mayors  of  our  leading  cities  outside  of  New  York  to 
devise  some  method  for  increasing  the  army.  Colonel  Thomas 
A.  Scott  was  in  New  York  at  the  time,  and  suggested  to  Seward 
that  Governor  Curtin  was  in  the  city,  and  that  it  might  be  well 
to  consult  him.  Seward  invited  Curtin  to  a  conference,  and 
although  Curtin  was  very  feeble,  he  met  Seward  and  some 
friends  at  the  Astor  House  and  suggested  that  instead  of  con- 
ferring with  the  Mayors  of  cities,  the  loyal  Governors  of  the 
North  should  be  invited  to  a  general  conference  with  a  view  of 
asking  the  administration  to  increase  the  army  and  prosecute 
the  war  with  the  utmost  vigor.  In  this  suggestion  Curtin  was 
supported  by  Scott,  and  Seward  readily  accepted  it.  Before 
they  left  the  room  they  had  telegraphed  to  a  majority  of  the 
Northern  Governors,  who  cordially  agreed  to  a  general  meet- 
ing, and  the  memorable  Altoona  conference,  with  the  address 
issued  by  the  united  loyal  Governors  of  the  North,  inspired  the 
people  afresh  and  enabled  the  Government  to  call  out  300,000 
additional  troops.  After  that  time  Seward  was  always  very  cor- 
dial to  Curtin,  but  Curtin  studiously  avoided  ever  asking  any 
favor  of  the  Secretary  of  State. 

Seward  made  a  great  record  as  Premier  of  the  Lincoln  Ad- 
ministration during  the  war,  when  he  had  the  most  difficult 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  221 

problems  of  diplomacy  to  solve.  He  was  a  great  worker,  well 
trained  in  intellectual  labor,  and  his  diplomatic  correspondence 
of  that  crucial  period  in  the  nation's  history  compares  with  the 
diplomatic  achievements  of  any  nation  of  the  world.  He  be- 
came estranged  from  all  his  old  political  associations  under 
Johnson,  and  when  he  retired  from  the  Cabinet  he  was  a  man 
without  a  party,  and  ceased  to  take  any  interest  in  political  con- 
tests. He  traveled  abroad,  and  finally  made  a  journey  around 
the  world,  during  which  he  was  honored  by  every  nationality. 
After  returning  he  devoted  himself  to  writing  his  memoirs,  in 
the  midst,  of  which,  on  the  loth  of  October,  1872,  after  life's 
long  fitful  fever,  he  joined  the  great  majority  on  the  other 
shore, 


BROWNLOW  AND  VALLANDIGHAM. 

Our  civil  war  logically  produced  great  chieftains  on  both 
sides  and  made  names  immortal  which  would  have  been  un- 
known to  fame  but  for  that  sanguinary  fraternal  struggle.  Both 
the  North  and  the  South  had  home  rebellious  elements,  and  two 
names  will  ever  stand  out  in  history  as  the  most  conspicuous 
of  those  who  revolted  against  their  own  people.  Parson  Wil- 
liam G.  Brownlow,  of  Tennessee,  made  the  most  conspicuous 
record  by  his  rebellion  against  the  rebellion  in  the  South,  and 
Clement  L.  Vallandigham,  of  Ohio.,  made  himself  altogether 
the  most  illustrious  of  those  who  rebelled  in  the  North  against 
the  war  for  the  preservation  of  the  Union.  The  erratic  frills 
which  these  men  added  to  the  history  of  the  war  will  ever  be 
studied  with  interest  by  the  careful  student  of  the  most  heroic 
war  of  ancient  or  modern  times. 

Of  all  the  prominent  characters  developed  by  our  fraternal 
conflict  that  of  Parson  William  G.  Brownlow  is  altogether  the 
most  unique.  It  would  be  accepted  as  thrillingly  romantic  but 
for  the  barbarism  that  was  provoked  by  the  intensely  bitter  fra- 
ternal conflict,  and  that  was  accepted  by  both  sides  and  em- 
ployed to  the  uttermost.  •  Brownlow  was  one  of  the  sturdy 
mountaineers  of  Eastern  Tennessee,  where  there  were  few 
slaves,  where  school  houses  and  churches  were  rarely  cultivated, 
and  where  hostility  to  the  aristocratic  slaveholder  was  abo>ut  the 
only  inspiration  that  could  call  out  the  ruggedly  heroic  qualities 
of  the  people.  Andrew  Johnson  was  another  of  the  same  type, 
and  played  his  part  in  harmony  with  the  lines  of  Brownlow. 
It  was  only  natural  that  such  people  would  have  little  'sympathy 
with  a  war  avowedly  precipitated  and  prosecuted  for  the  main- 
tenance of  slavery,  and  the  keenest  thorn  of  the  South  in  the 
side  of  the  Confederacy  came  from  the  aggressive  loyal  moun- 
taineers of  Eastern  Tennessee,  where  Johnson  was  worshiped 
as  the  ideal  statesman,  and  Parson  Brownlow  as  the  ideal  pulpit 
orator.  Johnson  started  as  a  tailor  and  unable  even  to  write 

(222) 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  223 

his  name,  and  Brownlow  started  as  a  carpenter,  and  after  ac- 
quiring a  smattering  of  an  English  education  he  entered  the 
Methodist  ministry  when  he  had  reached  his  majority,  and  was 
an  itinerant  minister  of  that  church  for  ten  years.  He  mingled 
his  piety  very  freely  with  politics,  and  was  often  heard  on  the 
stump  in  the  political  conflicts  of  those  days.  He  actively  op- 
posed the  election  of  Jackson  in  1828  and  again  in  1832,  and  he 
established  the  Jon-esboro  Whig  in  1838,  and  thereafter  devoted 
his  labors  chiefly  to  politics  and  the  primitive  journalism  of  that 
day  and  region,  but  always  maintained  his  position  as  a  local 
Methodist  preacher.  His  editorials  were  always  caustic  and 
forceful,  and  many  of  them  could  be  very  justly  criticised  as 
vulgar;  but  he  wrote  just  what  his  readers  wanted,  and  he 
maintained  a  profitable  reputation  for  himself  and  his  news- 
paper by  gaining  the  title  of  the  "Fighting  Parson."  He  was 
seldom  without  a  serious  broil  of  some  kind  on  hand,  and  was 
always  armed  for  the  fray.  It  was  only  natural  that  a  man  of 
such  tastes  and  environment  would  be  hostile  to  the  Southern 
leaders  when  rebellion  was  inaugurated.  At  that  time  he  had 
removed  from  Jonesboro  to  the  larger  village  of  Knoxville, 
where  he  had  re-established  The  Whig,  and  his  criticisms  of  the 
secessionists  exhausted  the  vocabulary  of  Billingsgate. 

When  the  secession  tide  had  swept  over  the  South  he  was  the 
only  man  in  Knoxville  who  had  the  courage  to  display  the 
Union  flag  from  his  home,  but  he  was  finally  compelled  to  give 
up  his  almost  single-handed  battle,  as  his  newspaper  had  been 
suppressed  by  the  Southern  authorities,  and  in  the  last  issue 
that  he  was  permitted  to  publish,  on  the  24th  of  October,  1861, 
he  gave  a  farewell  address  to  his  readers,  declaring  that  impris- 
onment was  preferable  to  submission.  He  refused  to  accept  the 
oath  of  allegiance  to  the  Confederacy  and  absented  himself  from 
Knoxville,  but  he  was  soon  thereafter  accused  of  destroying  the 
railroad  bridges,  and  a. squad  of  soldiers  was  sent  out  to  search 
for  him,  with  orders  to  shoot  him  whenever  found.  He  was 
subsequently  induced  to  return  to  Knoxville  on  the  assurance 
that  he  would  be  permitted  to  go  to  Kentucky,  but  upon  arriv- 
ing at  his  home  he  was  immediately  arrested  for  treason,  and 
confined  in  jail  for  some  weeks,  where  he  suffered  every  pos- 
sible indignity  from  his  persecutors.  While  a  prisoner  he  was 
permitted  to  address  a  note  to  Mr.  Benjamin,  the  Confederate 


224  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

Secretary  of  State,  in  which  he  asked  for  permission  to  go 
North  in  these  characteristic  words :  "Just  give  me  my  passport 
and  I  will  do  more  for  the  Confederacy  than  the  devil  has  ever 
done.  I  will  leave  the  country."  He  was  taken  at  his  word, 
and  in  March,  1862,  he  was  sent  inside  the  Union  lines  at  Nash- 
ville. 

Brownlow  immediately  made  a  tour  of  the  North,  where  he 
was  welcomed  with  boundless  enthusiasm,  and  his  speeches  were 
among  the  most  original  and  pungent  I  have  ever  heard.  The 
bitterness  of  internecine  strife  was  exhibited  in  tempestuous 
waves  as  intelligent,  cultivated  people  of  the  North  listened  to 
the  thrilling  stories  Parson  Brownlow  told  in  his  own  inimita- 
ble way.  His  story  when  truthfully  presented  would  have  been 
thrilling  enough  to  arouse  the  keenest  interest  of  the  inflamed 
people  of  the  North,  but  Brownlow's  vivid  imagery  and  ribald 
arraignment  of  all  the  Southern  leaders,  divesting  them  of  every 
virtue  and  charging  them  with  every  attribute  of  fiendishness, 
made  his  vulgarisms  household  words  in  very  many  homes.  He 
had  a  keen  eye  to  business,  and  his  life,  written  by  himself  and 
published  by  the  late  George  W.  Childs,  reached  a  sale  of 
hundreds  of  thousands,  and  gave  Brownlow  a  handsome  com- 
petence. He  remained  in  the  North,  where  his  family  joined 
him,  until,  the  occupation  of  Tennessee  by  the  Union  troops 
made  it  safe  for  him  to  return  to  his  State  under  conditions 
which  made  it  possible  for  him  to  take  up  the  political  lines 
and  adopt  and  enforce  the  most  violent  reconstruction  policy,  by 
which  he  made  himself  Governor  and  finally  a  United  States 
Senator. 

I  saw  much  of  Parson  Brownlow  during  his  stay  in  the  North, 
and  heard  him  deliver  several  addresses.  I  had  had  an  editorial 
spat  with  him  some  ten  or  a  dozen  years  before  when  editor 
of  a  little  village  newspaper.  I  had  obtained  an  exchange  with 
the  Fighting  Parson  and  read  his  Jonesboro  Whig  with  interest 
because  of  the  always  aggressive  and  generally  violent,  abusive 
editorials  which  came  from  his  pen.  The  conviction  and 
execution  of  Professor  Webster,  of  Harvard,  called  out  one  of 
his  vehement  broadsides  against  the  hypocrisy  of  the  Aboli- 
tionists of  the  North.  I  criticised  his  sweeping  and  coarsely 
unjust  reflections  upon  the  Northern  people,  which  brought  out 
a  pen  picture  of  myself  from  the  mountain  parson  that  was  quite 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  225 

original  Instead  of  answering  the  arguments  I  had  presented 
in  rather  a  courteous  manner  he  declared  that  I  must  be  a 
''renegade  from  the  land  of  steady  habits,  a  filthy  Abolitionist 
and  a  lousy  neighbor  of  David  Wilmot's,  who  had  made  the 
money  to  establish  his  newspaper  by  selling  cow  heel  flints 
and  wooden  nutmegs  to  the  Pennsylvania  Dutch."  Although 
it  was  the  period  of  my  editorial  career  when  I  knew  so  little 
about  journalism  that  I  supposed  I  could  vanquish  any  foe  in 
controversy,  I  threw  up  the  sponge  to  Brownlow,  as  I  could 
not  approach  him  on  his  own  lines,  and  any  other  would  have 
been  an  utter  waste  of  time  and  space. 

Brownlow's  appearance  was  anything  but  prepossessing.  He 
was  tall,  lank,  hatchet-faced,  ungraceful  in  manner,  never  gentle 
in  speech  and  was  himself  only  when  indulging  in  some  tirade 
against  real  or  imaginary  foes  that  gave  him  an  opportunity  to 
open  the  sluices  of  the  blackguard.  The  single  virtue  that  the 
man  possessed  was  his  courage,  and  that  was  a  universal  virtue 
among  the  sturdy  sons  of  the  Tennessee  forests  and  mountains. 
He  was  fiendish  in  his  vindictiveness,  and  gave  it  the  most  terri- 
ble practical  illustration  when  he  came  to  the  reconstruction  of 
his  State.  There  have  been  many  records  of  reconstruction  in 
the  South  which  stand  out  as  a  terrible  reproach  upon  the  his- 
tory of  our  free  Government,  but  in  no  other  State  in  the  South 
was  there  such  pitiless  persecution,  such  relentless  despotism 
and  such  a  floodtide  of  political  debauchery  as  were  displayed 
by  the  rule  of  Parson  Brownlow.  Tennessee  had  more  Union 
people  than  any  other  Southern  State,  and  it  was  not  only  a 
battle  between  friends  and  foes  of  the  Union,  but  it  was  largely 
a  battle  of  caste.  It  was  the  uncouth,  vigorous  and  aggressive 
mountaineers,  whose  hard  lives  and  humble  homes  fostered  the 
keenest  hatred  for  culture  and  wealth,  and  especially  of  those 
who  held  slaves  to  do  their  bidding.  A  war  that  had  been  in 
progress  for  several  years,  intensified  by  the  breaking  of  fraternal 
ties,  and  by  the  inflamed  hatred  of  the  poor  for  the  rich,  brought 
Tennessee  to  a  condition  of  anarchy  save  where  the  bayonet 
gave  its  despotic  and  often  hard  protection. 

The  reconstruction  policy  was  conceived,  framed  and  exe- 
cuted by  Brownlow,  and  be  assured  his  political  mastery  by  dis- 
franchising not  only  those  who  were  in  open  antagonism  to  the 
Government,  but  all  who  were  suspected  of  opposition  to  his 


226  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

purposes.  He  thus  established  a  government  that  wrote  the 
most  fearful  chapters  in  the  annals  of  Tennessee.  It  was  a  rule 
of  ignorance,  of  hate  and  of  spoliation,  and  it  was  maintained 
until  Brownlow  re-elected  himself  as  Governor,  and  then,  in 
violation  of  his  faith  to  those  who  had  aided  him,  elected  him- 
self to  the  Senate  by  orders  to  an  obedient  Legislature.  I  saw 
him  after  he  had  taken  his  seat  in  the  Senate,  and  found  him 
broken  in  health  and  friendless  at  home  and  in  Washington 
among  those  whose  friendship  he  most  coveted.  In  the  various 
conversations  I  had  with  him  I  never  saw  a  smile  on  his  face, 
and  found  him  always  unwilling  to  speak  of  his  own  political 
achievements.  Later  I  saw  him  when  slow  paralysis  had  given 
him  trembling  hands  and  broken  voice.  He  lingered  in  loneli- 
ness until  the  close  of  his  term,  when  he  returned  to  his  home 
in  Knoxville,  where  he  waited  for  the  lengthening  shadows 
which  in  a  few  months  gave  him  the  peace  in  the  grave  that 
he  had  never  given  to  others  in  life. 

Clement  L.  Vallandigham  is  crystallized  in  history  as  the 
most  conspicuous  and  aggressive  of  the  Northern  men  of  politi- 
cal position  who,  while  declaring  devotion  to<  the  Union  and 
hostility  to  secession,  most  boldly  and  defiantly  denounced  every 
measure  adopted  by  the  Government  to  prevent  the  dismember- 
ment of  the  States.  He  did  not  possess  a  single  attribute  of  the 
leading  characteristics  of  Parson  Brownlow.  He  was  a  man  of 
unusual  ability  and  culture,  a  genial  and  delightful  companion 
and  a  tireless  student.  He  was  a  native  of  Ohio,  where  he  was 
born  in  New  Lisbon  on  the  2Qth  of  July,  1820,  and  after  acquir- 
ing a  fair  academic  education  he  was  admitted  to  the  Bar,  where 
he  rapidly  won  distinction  both  as  a  lawyer  and  advocate.  He 
believed  in  the  extreme  doctrine  of  States'  rights  as  taught  by 
Calhoun,  and  in  all  his  political  deliverances  he  consistently  pre- 
sented his  views  as  in  harmony  with  the  great  teacher  of  the 
South.  After  having  served  with  distinction  in  the  Ohio  Legis- 
lature he  was  nominated  as  the  Democratic  candidate  for  Con- 
gress against  Lewis  D.  Campbell  in  1856,  and  although  returned 
as  defeated,  he  won  his  seat  on  a  contest,  and  by  re-elections 
served  until  the  4th  of  March,  1863. 

In  the  early  part  of  the  war  he  was  the  most  positive  and  de- 
fiant advocate  of  States'  rights,  denouncing  the  policy  of  co- 
ercion as  at  war  with  the  teachings  of  the  Constitution.  He  be- 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  227 

came  the  recognized  leader  of  the  Bourbon  element  of  the  De- 
mocracy that  refused  to  support  the  policy  of  the  administration 
in  prosecuting  the  war,  and  at  the  election  of  1862  he  was  de- 
feated by  General  Schenck,  after  a  contest  of  almost  unexam- 
pled personal  and  partisan  bitterness.  It  was  this  defeat  that 
unbalanced  the  better  judgment  of  Vallandigham.  He  felt  that 
he  had  been  persecuted  by  political  and  military  power,  and  he 
resented  it  with  much  more  zeal  than  wisdom.  In  March,  1863, 
General  Burnside  was  assigned  to  command  of  the  Department 
of  the  Ohio.  Burnside  was  impulsive  and  intensely  earnest  in 
his  devotion  to  the  Union  cause,  and  on  the  I3th  of  April,  soon 
after  taking  charge  of  his  department,  he  issued  his  celebrated 
order  No.  38,  in  which  he  announced  that  "all  persons  found 
within  our  lines  who  commit  acts  for  the  benefit  of  the  enemies 
of  our  country  will  be  tried  as  spies  or  traitors,  and  if  convicted 
will  suffer  death."  The  same  order  declared  that  "it  must  be 
distinctly  understood  that  treason,  expressed  or  implied,  will 
not  be  tolerated  in  this  department."  The  order  was  severely 
criticised,  and  it  was  well  understood  that  the  responsibility  for 
the  order  rested  solely  with  Burnside,  and  was  not  dictated  by 
the  Administration.  In  fact,  the  order  was  prepared  and  pro- 
claimed without  consulting  President  Lincoln. 

Vallandigham  was  one  of  the  first  to  utter  a  note  of  defiance 
against  what  he  termed  the  arbitrary  and  despotic  order  of 
the  military  commander,  and  in  a  speech  delivered  at  Mount 
Vernon  he  denounced  the  order  as  a  base  usurpation  of  arbitrary 
power,  and  declared  that  he  despised  it,  spat  upon  it  and  tram- 
pled it  under  his  feet.  In  the  same  speech  he  denounced  the 
Conscription  act  as  a  measure  of  despotism,  and  declared  that 
no  man  deserved  to  be  free  who  would  submit  to  such  restric- 
tions of  his  freedom.  The  meeting  had  been  publicly  adver- 
tised, and  General  Burnside  had  a  special  agent  in  attendance, 
who  made  careful  notes  of  the  addresses,  and  three  days  there- 
after, on  the  4th  of  May,  1863,  a  detachment  of  soldiers  arrived 
before  Vallandigham's  residence  in  Dayton,  and  he  was  arrested 
upon  an  order  from  the  Commanding  General.  Vallandigham 
refused  to  submit  to  arrest  or  to  admit  the  soldiers  into  his 
house,  but  they  broke  in,  gave  him  time  for  hasty  preparation 
and  conducted  him  to  Cincinnati.  He  was  very  soon  thereafter 
tried  by  a  military  Commission  that  met  on  the  6th  of  May, 


228  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

and  after  a  brief  trial  the  Court  deliberated  for  three  hours  and 
returned  a  verdict  of  guilty,  with  the  sentence  that  he  should 
be  placed  in  close  confinement  in  some  fortress  of  the  United 
States  to  be  designated  by  the  commanding  officer,  and  to 
remain  a  prisoner  during  the  continuance  of  the  war.  General 
Burnside  approved  the  finding  and  sentence,  and  designated 
Fort  Warren  in  Boston  harbor  as  the  place  of  his  confinement. 
Application  was  made  to  Judge  Leavitt,  of  the  United  States 
Court,  for  a  writ  of  habeas  corpus,  but  after  extended  argument 
the  judge  refused  it  and  remanded  Vallandigham  to  the  military 
authorities  for  the  execution  of  the  sentence. 

I  know  that  President  Lincoln  regretted  the  arrest  and  trial 
of  Vallandigham  and  that  he  was  very  much  concerned  about 
it.  In  none  of  these  movements  had  General  Burnside  consulted 
the  President  before  taking  action,  and  the  question  for  the 
President  to  decide  was  whether  he  should  strengthen  the  dis- 
loyal sentiment  of  the  country  by  releasing  Vallandigham,  or 
whether  he  should  sustain  a  faithful  commander  in  the  exercise 
of  his  extreme  powers  to  suppress  the  blatant  disloyalty  that 
was  heard  in  many  places  throughout  the  North.  Lincoln, 
always  sagacious  and  conservative  when  such  issues  confronted 
him,  finally  solved  the  problem  in  the  most  sensible  way  by 
commuting  the  punishment  of  Vallandigham  to  banishment 
within  the  Confederate  lines,  and  on  the  25th  of  May  Vallandig- 
ham was  escorted  to  Murfreesboro  and  delivered  to  the  Con- 
federate commander.  He  was  kindly  received  by  his  Southern 
friends,  but  he  at  once  made  formal  protest  against  his  banish- 
ment to  the  South,  stating  that  he  was  there  by  force,  and  that 
he  surrendered  as  a  prisoner  of  war. 

This  was  the  first  instance  in  which  the  Government  had  ex- 
ercised its  extreme  powers  in  disposing  of  a  political  offender 
who  occupied  a  high  position  as  an  opposition  leader,  and  very 
many  earnest  supporters  of  the  Administration  doubted  the  wis- 
dom of  the  movement,  while  Lincoln  himself  certainly  regretted 
that  Burnside  had  made  the  arrest.  The  Southern  leaders  gave 
cordial  welcome  to  Vallandigham,  and  his  banishment  was  re- 
garded throughout  the  South  as  the  beginning  of  a  counter 
revolution  in  the  North  that  would  greatly  aid  the  Confederacy. 
Mr.  Jones,  a  clerk  in  the  Confederate  War  Office,  on  the  22d 
of  June,  1863,  stated  in  his  diary  that  he  had  seen  the  memo- 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  229 

randum  of  Mr.  Ould  relating  a  conversation  had  with  Vallan- 
digham  for  file  in  the  archives.  In  that  Vallandigfham  is  repre- 
sented as  saying:  "If  the  South  can  only  hold  out  for  a  year  the 
peace  party  of  the  North  will  sweep  the  Lincoln  dynasty  out  of 
existence." 

The  agitation  over  the  banishment  of  Vallandigham  assumed 
serious  proportions  and  led  to  the  publication  of  one  of  Mr. 
Lincoln's  ablest  papers  in  answer  to  the  resolutions  adopted  at 
a  meeting  held  in  Albany  on  the  i6th  of  May,  to  which  Gov- 
ernor Seymour  had  written  an  elaborate  criticism  of  the  Admin- 
istration. Mr.  Lincoln's  reply  was  exhaustive  and  conclusive 
in  its  presentation  of  the  right  and  duty  of  the  Government  to 
protect  itself  against  such  disturbers  as  Vallandigham.  He 
referred  to  the  fact  that  the  military  commander  who  had 
arrested  and  tried  Vallandigham  was  a  Democrat;  that  the 
United  States  judge  who  refused  him  a  writ  of  habeas  corpus 
was  a  Democrat,  and  he  added:  "Still  more,  of  all  those  Demo- 
crats who  are  nobly  exposing  their  lives  and  shedding  their 
blood  on  the  battlefield,  I  have  learned  of  many  who  approved 
the  course  taken  with  Mr.  Vallandigham,  while  I  have  not  heard 
of  a  single  one  condemning  it."  Early  in  June  Vallandigham 
ran  the  blockade  at  Wilmington  and  arrived  at  Bermuda  on  the 
22d  of  the  month,  where  he  took  passage  at  the  earliest  oppor- 
tunity for  Halifax,  Nova  Scotia,  and  arrived  there  on  the  5th 
of  July.  Thereafter  he  made  his  headquarters  on  the  Canadian 
side  of  Niagara  Falls.  He  at  once  issued  an  address  to  the 
people  of  Ohio,  in  which  he  recited  the  story  of  his  banishment 
and  trials  to  escape  from  the  South.  He  said  that  "after  weari- 
some and  most  perilous  journeys  for  more  than  4,000  miles  by 
land  and  sea,  still  in  exile,  almost  within  sight  of  my  native 
State,  I  greet  you  as  your  representative." 

The  Democratic  State  Convention,  mistaking  the  violent 
utterances  of  Bourbon  politicians  for  the  sentiment  of  the  people 
of  Ohio,  committed  the  grievous  blunder  of  nominating  Vallan- 
digham for  Governor  and  adopted  a  platform  that  was  disloyal 
in  every  line,  which  Vallandigham,  from  his  hiding  place  north 
of  Niagara,  declared  to  be  "elegant  in  style  and  admirable  in 
sentiment."  Friends  of  the  Union  cause  did  not  affect  to  conceal 
the  gravity  of  the  issue,  and  the  Republican  convention  placed 
at  the  head  of  its  ticket  John  Brough,  an  earnest  and  aggressive 


230  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

war  Democrat.  I  doubt  whether  any  State  campaign  during 
the  last  half  century  excited  such  general  interest  throughout 
the  country,  North  and  South,  as  did  the  battle  between  Vallan- 
digham  and  Brough,  and  in  the  State  of  Ohio  it  was  a  hand-to- 
hand  conflict,  fought  with  a  desperation  unexampled  in  our 
political  warfare.  The  result  was  the  defeat  of  Vallandigham 
by  a  majority  of  101,000  votes.  This  overwhelming  discom- 
fiture measurably  silenced  defiant  disloyalty.  Mr.  Pendleton,  of 
Ohio,  sought  to  obtain  an  expression  from  the  House  of  Repre- 
sentatives February,  1864,  declaring  that  the  banishment  of 
Vallandigham  was  a  palpable  violation  of  the  Constitution  and 
laws  of  the  country,  but  it  was  defeated  by  nearly  a  two-thirds 
vote. 

Vallandigham  remained  quietly  in  Canada  until  June,  1864, 
when  the  country  was  astounded  one  morning  to  read  the  an- 
nouncement that  he  had  quietly  crossed  at  Niagara  and  returned 
to  his  home.  General  Heintzelman  was  then  in  command  of 
the  department,  and  he  immediately  asked  for  instructions  from 
the  President.  Lincoln  kept  his  own  counsel  and  simply  indi- 
cated to  Heintzelman  that  he  should  await  orders.  In  this  the 
President  exhibited  the  rare  discretion  that  characterized  him 
in  all  emergencies.  He  knew  that  Vallandigham  was  helpless, 
and  although  Vallandigham  repeated  violent  political  criticisms 
of  the  Government,  they  harmed  only  himself  and  his  cause,  and 
he  was  allowed  to  live  and  to  attend  to  his  business  without 
interruption  and  to  go  as  a  delegate  to  the  Democratic  National 
Convention  at  Chicago,  where  he  was  honored  with  the  position 
of  chairman  of  the  Committee  on  Resolutions,  resulting  in  the 
name  of  Vallandigham  and  the  peace  platform  there  adopted 
hanging  as  a  crushing  mill-stone  around  McClellan,  who  was 
nominated  for  the  Presidency. 

Vallandigham  returned  to  the  practice  of  his  profession  in 
Lebanon,  O.,  and  his  attractive  personal  qualities  and  thorough 
integrity  of  character,  with  his  admitted  ability  and  skill  at  the 
Bar,  soon  made  him  prominent  in  his  profession,  and  he  reached 
the  kind  period  of  forgetfulness  with  the  great  mass  of  the  people 
of  his  State.  He  was  engaged  for  the  defence  in  a  celebrated 
murder  case  in  which  he  had  become  very  warmly  interested, 
and  while  presenting  the  case  he  picked  up  a  pistol  and  under- 
took to  demonstrate  how  the  pistol  had  been  fired  by  accident, 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  231 

that  being  the  theory  of  the  defence.  Placing  the  pistol  in  his 
pocket  to  demonstrate  his  theory,  it  was  accidentally  discharged, 
and  a  mortal  wound  inflicted  upon  himself,  resulting  in  his  death 
on  the  I7th  of  June,  1871. 

I  had  met  Vallandigham  frequently  during  the  period  of  his 
service  in  Congress,  and  like  all  who  had  been  brought  into 
personal  relations  with  him  I  cherished  the  kindest  personal 
feeling  for  him.  He  was  unusually  attractive  in  form  and  fea- 
ture, and  gentleness  seemed  to  be  depicted  in  every  line  of  his 
finely  chiseled  face.  In  social  intercourse  he  was  unusually 
courteous  and  always  entertaining,  and  there  was  not  a  single 
blemish  on  his  public  or  private  life  until  he  became  insensibly 
involved  in  violent  hostility  to  the  Government.  .  His  defeat  for 
Congress  by  General  Schenck  in  1862  was  the  turning  point  of 
his  career.  Like  many  other  men  he  was  unequal  to  a  humili- 
ating defeat  after  a  struggle  of  singular  bitterness,  and  I  do  not 
doubt  that  in  the  passion  of  resentment  he  was  swept  far  from 
his  intended  moorings,  and  thus  blighted  a  life  that  should  have 
been  one  of  honored  distinction.  He  died  sincerely  lamented 
by  a  large  circle  of  personal  friends  and  most  of  his  acquaint- 
ances who  were  opposed  to  him  judged  him  most  charitably  as 
an  able,  honest  and  fearless  man  who  became  a  foe  to  himself 
and  his  country  rather  by  circumstance  than  by  purpose, 


WILMOT  AND  THE  WILMOT  PROVISO. 

It  is  now  a  full  half-century  since  DavidWilmot,  of  Pennsylva- 
nia, retired  from  Congress  after  six  years  of  service,  with  his 
name  more  generally  involved  in  the  political  discussions  of  the 
country  than  that  of  any  other  of  our  statesmen.  There  was 
not  a  champion  of  any  party  on  the  hustings  in  those  days  to 
whom  the  name  of  Wilmot  was  not  entirely  familiar.  It  was 
involved  in  the  bitterness  of  sectional  discussion  in  the  South, 
and  inseparably  connected  with  current  political  disputes  in  the 
North,  where  he  was  commended  and  condemned  with  equal 
fervency.  Wilmot  had  made  no  great  speech  in  Congress  to 
give  him  national  fame,  and  he  did  not  rank  with  the  then  exist- 
ing circle  of  giants  in  statesmanship  embracing  Clay,  Webster, 
Calhoiin  and  others,  but  he  was  the  author  of  the  Wilmot 
proviso,  or  rather,  he  had  proposed  the  proviso  that  bore  his 
name  in  the  House.  That  proviso  restricted  slavery  in  any 
Territory  that  the  Government  might  acquire  from  Mexico  at 
the  close  of  the  war  with  that  Government  in  1847. 

David  Wilmot  was  born  in  Bethany,  Pennsylvania,  on  the  2Oth 
of  January,  1814,  and  after  acquiring  an  academical  education 
wholly  by  his  own  efforts  he  was  admitted  to  the  Bar  at  Wilkes- 
barre  in  1834.  He  at  once  located  at  Towanda,  the  county  seat 
of  Bradford,  a  county  that  was  then  slowly  planting  the  seeds  of 
civilization  in  the  northern  wilderness  of  the  State.  He  was  a 
man  of  unusual  intellectual  force,  a  close  student,  and  soon  rose 
to  distinction  at  the  Towanda  Bar.  He  at  once  took  the  lead  in 
the  support  of  Van  Buren  for  the  Presidency  in  1836,  and  in 
1844  he  was  nominated  as  the  Democratic  candidate  for  Con- 
gress and  elected  by  a  large  majority.  During  his  first  term  in 
Congress  the  Democrats  succeeded  by  the  casting  vote  of  Vice 
President  Dallas  in  repealing  the  protective  tariff  of  1842,  and 
in  enacting  the  revenue  tariff  of  1846.  The  tariff  issue  was  a 
most  vital  one  in  Pennsylvania,  as  the  coal  and  iron  interests  of 
the  State  were  struggling  for  development.  The  Democratic 
(232) 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  233 

leaders  in  the  Clay-Polk  contest  of  1844  well  understood  that 
open  hostility  to  a  protective  policy  would  defeat  the  party  in 
the  State,  and  banners  were  very  common  in  the  Democratic 
procession  of  that  year  bearing  the  inscription:  "Polk,  Dallas, 
Shunk  and  the  Tariff  of  1842." 

So  uncertain  were  the  Democratic  leaders  as  to  the  effect  of 
their  doiubtful  position  on  the  tariff  that  they  obtained  a  letter 
from  Mr.  Polk,  addressed  to  Judge  Kane,  that  was  well  de- 
signed to  quiet  the  apprehensions  of  the  Protection  Democrats. 
This  letter  was  construed  and  proclaimed  from  the  hustings  as 
an  emphatic  assurance  to  the  people  of  Pennsylvania  that  if 
Polk  were  elected  President  the  tariff  of  1842  would  not  be  dis- 
turbed. So  general  was  this  conviction  among  the  Democrats 
of  the  State  that  when  the  tariff  of  1846  came  up  in  the  House 
every  Democratic  Representative  from  Pennsylvania  voted 
against  it  with  the  single  exception  of  David  Wilmot.  He  was 
a  man  of  rugged  integrity  in  public  and  private  life;  he  did  not 
believe  in  the  policy  of  protection,  and  he  openly  declared  that 
the  attitude  of  his  Democratic  brethren  in  the  State  was  dictated 
by  political  policy  and  not  by  conviction,  and  that  he  would  not 
be  a  party  to  what  he  regarded  as  a  violation  of  Democratic 
faith  and  a  fraud  upon  the  people.  He  was  mercilessly  criticised 
by  the  Whig  journals  and  orators  of  the  State  and  by  very  many 
of  his  own  party  leaders,  some  of  whom  earnestly  urged  the 
policy  of  defeating  him  in  his  own  district.  He  represented  an 
agricultural  and  lumber  community,  where  there  was  little 
manufacturing,  and  most  of  his  constituents  were  people  of 
very  moderate  means  and  viewed  taxation  with  abhorrence.  He 
accepted  the  gage  of  battle  invited  alike  by  the  Whigs  and  the 
opposing  Democrats,  stumped  his  district,  boldly  defending  his 
position  on  the  tariff,  and  won  his  re-election  by  a  large  ma- 
jority when  the  Democratic  State  ticket  was  defeated,  and  only 
seven  Democratic  members  of  Congress,  including  Wilmot, 
were  elected  out  of  24.  It  was  only  this  clever  political  strategy 
on  the  tariff  question  in  1844  that  saved  the  State  to  the  Demo- 
crats and  made  Polk  President,  as  Shunk,  the  Democratic  can- 
didate for  Governor  at  the  October  election,  received  only  4,397 
majority  over  Markle,  his  Whig  competitor. 

Wilmot  had  become  a  man  of  national  fame  by  standing  alone 
in  the  Pennsylvania  delegation  in  1846  in  supporting  the  repeal 


234  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

of  the  tariff  of  1842,  and  his  re-election,  after  the  enactment  of 
the  revenue  tariff,  with  only  a  corporal's  guard  of  Democratic 
associates,  attracted  general  attention  to  his  prominence  as  a 
leader  on  the  vital  issue;  but  during  his  second  term  he  reached 
the  zenith  of  national  fame  as  the  presumed  author  of  the  Wil- 
mot  proviso  prohibiting  slavery  in  the  new  Territories  soon  to 
be  acquired  from  Mexico.  The  Congressional  prohibition  of 
slavery  in  the  Territories  was  not  a  new  question,  as  it  had  been 
accepted  by  the  Government  in  its  early  days,  and  was  first 
proposed  and  supported  by  Jefferson  and  adopted  with  the 
general  approval  of  the  slave-holding  portion  of  the  country.  It 
first  appeared  in  the  ordinance  of  1784  under  the  Confederation, 
several  years  before  the  organization  of  our  constitutional 
Government.  The  debt  resulting  from  the  Revolutionary  war 
was  then  bearing  very  heavily  upon  the  States,  and  it  became 
necessary  to  look  up  all  available  resources  to  strengthen  the 
credit  of  the  Government  and  relieve  the  people  from  onerous 
taxation. 

The  Western  Territories,  North  and  South,  were  then  unde- 
fined. Some  of  the  States  claimed  possession  westward  as  far 
as  the.  domain  extended,  and  what  are  now  great  and  prosperous 
States  were  then  beyond  the  lines  of  civilization,  and,  indeed, 
largely  beyond  the  lines  of  adventure.  Massachusetts,  Connecti- 
cut, New  York,  Virginia,  North  Carolina  and  Georgia  claimed 
immense  domains  outside  of  their  specific  boundaries,  and  the 
demand  was  made  that  the  territorial  limits  of  each  State  should 
be  clearly  defined,  and  that  the  outlying  lands  should  be  ceded 
to  and  held  by  Congress  for  the  mutual  benefit  of  all  the  States, 
with  a  view  of  applying  the  proceeds  ultimately  to  the  liquida- 
tion of  the  debts  of  the  Confederation.  The  Ninth  Continental 
Congress,  which  assembled  at  Philadelphia  November  3,  1783, 
did  little  business  for  want  of  a  quorum  until  March,  1784,  when 
the  delegates  from  Virginia  proposed  to  cede  to  the  Confedera- 
tion the  claims  of  their  State  to  the  Northwestern  Territory,  and 
an  ordinance  was  proposed  to  carry  that  into  effect.  It  was 
written  by  Jefferson.  The  proposition  to  transfer  all  the  North- 
western Territory  to  the  general  Government  contained  five 
conditions,  the  fifth  of  which  was  in  these  words:  'That  after 
the  year  1800  of  the  Christian  era  there  shall  be  neither  slavery 
nor  involuntary  servitude  in  any  of  the  said  States  otherwise 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.          235 

than  in  punishment  of  crime  whereof  the  party  shall  have  been 
duly  convicted  to  have  been  personally  guilty." 

This  was  the  first  proposed  Congressional  prohibition  of 
slavery  in  the  Territories,  and  when  the  ordinance  was  under 
consideration  Mr.  Spaight,  of  North  Carolina,  moved  that  the 
fifth  proposition  be  stricken  out,  and  on  the  question  the  vote 
stood  1 6  in  favor  of  retaining  the  section  and  7  against  it,  and 
the  States  were  divided  6  in  favor  of  the  section,  with  3  against  it. 
The  articles  of  Confederation,  however,  required  an  affirmative 
vote  of  a  majority  of  the  States  to  carry  any  proposition,  and  as 
only  6  of  the  13  had  voted  to  retain  the  fifth  section  it  was  lost. 
The  ordinance,  with  the  fifth  section  eliminated  by  a  minority  in 
both  States  and  delegates,  was  finally  passed  on  the  23d  of  April, 
receiving  the  votes  of  all  but  those  from  South  Carolina.  In 
1787,  when  the  last  Continental  Congress  was  in  session  in  New 
York,  a  new  ordinance  was  proposed  for  the  government  of  the 
Territories  northwest  of  the  Ohio.  This  measure  applied  simply 
to  the  territory  claimed  by  Virginia,  as  the  other  States  had  not 
ceded  the  territory  they  claimed  to  the  general  Government.  In 
this  ordinance  there  were  six  conditions  named  for  the  transfer 
of  the  Northwestern  Territories  to  the  general  Government,  the 
last  of  which  was  as  follows:  "There  shall  be  neither  slavery  nor 
involuntary  servitude  in  the  said  territory  otherwise  than  in 
punishment  of  crimes  whereof  the  parties  shall  have  been  duly 
convicted."  The  only  amendment  made  to  Mr.  Jefferson's  ordi- 
nance of  1787  transferring  the  Northwestern  Territory  to  the 
general  Government  was  one  providing  for  the  rendition  of 
fugitive  slaves  in  accordance  with  the  new  Constitution  that  was 
then  about  to  be  adopted,  and  on  the  I3th  of  July  it  was  passed 
by  a  unanimous  vote  of  all  the  States  and  delegates. 

The  Wilmot  proviso  that  convulsed  the  country  half  a  cen- 
tury ago  was  simply  a  repetition  of  the  Jefferson  proviso  to 
the  ordinance  of  1787.  In  1846,  when  the  Mexican  war  was  in 
progress,  it  was  well  known  that  the  purpose  of  the  Adminis- 
tration was  to  acquire  Mexican  territory,  with  a  view  of  creating 
future  slave  States,  and  thus  maintain  the  equilibrium  of  the 
Government  as  taught  by  Calhoun.  On  the  8th  of  August, 
1846,  President  Polk  applied  to  Congress  for  an  appropriation 
of  several  millions  of  dollars  to  be  placed  entirely  at  his  own 
disposal  for  the  purpose  of  negotiating  a  treaty  of  peace  with 


236  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

Mexico.  The  prospect  of  the  erection  of  future  slave  States  out 
of  Mexican  territory  aroused  the  anti-slavery  sentiment  of  the 
North,  and  among  the  most  pronounced  of  the  dozen  or  more 
anti-slavery  Democrats  was  David  Wilmot.  The  House  had  a 
decided  Democratic  majority,  and  the  Speaker  was  in  heartiest 
sympathy  with  the  Administration  in  all  its  purposes.  It  was 
difficult,  therefore,  for  Democrats  who  were  suspected  of  opposi- 
tion to  the  policy  of  the  President  to  obtain  recognition  for  the 
purpose  of  offering  the  anti-slavery  proviso.  At  a  conference 
of  anti-slavery  Democrats,  Judge  Brinkerhoff,  of  Ohio,  pre- 
sented what  became  known  as  the  Wilmot  Proviso,  of  which  the 
following  is  the  full  text:  "Provided,  that  as  an  expressed  and 
fundamental  condition  to  the  acquisition  of  any  territory  from 
the  Republic  of  Mexico  by  the  United  States,  by  virtue  of  any 
treaty  that  may  be  negotiated  between  them,  and  to  the  use  by 
the  Executive  of  the  moneys  herein  appropriated,  neither 
slavery  nor  involuntary  servitude  shall  ever  exist  in  any  part  of 
such  territory,  except  for  crime  whereof  the  party  shall  be  first 
duly  convicted." 

Copies  of  this  proviso  were  made  and  given  to  each  of  the 
anti-slavery  Democrats,  with  the  understanding  that  the  first  of 
the  number  who  could  obtain  the  floor  when  the  bill  appropri- 
ating money  to  the  President  was  under  consideration  should 
offer  the  amendment.  It  happened  that  Wilmot  was  the  first  to 
be  recognized  when  the  Mexican  Peace  Appropriation  bill  was 
before  the  House,  and  he  thus  became  the  father  of  what  is  now 
crystallized  in  history  as  the  "Wilmot  Proviso."  When  offered 
by  Wilmot  it  produced  the  utmost  consternation  in  the  House, 
as  many  Democratic  members  had  become  alarmed  at  the  anti- 
slavery  sentiment  developed  in  their  districts.  The  House  was 
in  committee  of  the  whole,  and  to  the  surprise  of  both  sides  the 
proviso  was  adopted  by  a  vote  of  83  to  64,  the  Democrats  of 
the  North  uniting  in  supporting  it  with  but  three  exceptions. 
When  the  bill  came  up  before  the  House,  Mr.  Tibbetts,  of  Ken- 
tucky, moved  that  the  bill  lie  on  the  table,  but  it  was  defeated 
by  93  to  79.  The  vote  on  engrossing  the  bill  for  third  reading 
was  85  to  80,  and  on  the  final  passage  the  appropriation,  with 
the  Wilmot  Proviso  embodied  in  it,  received  83  votes  to  73 
against  it.  The  bill  went  to  the  Senate,  where  Lewis,  of  Ala- 
bama, moved  that  the  proviso  be  stricken  out.  It  was  the  last 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  237 

day  of  the  session,  when  Senator  Davis,  of  Massachusetts,  ob- 
tained the  floor  and  spoke  against  the  proviso  until  the  hour  of 
noon,  when  the  Senate  adjourned  without  day.  That  was  the 
first  instance  in  which  a  bill  was  defeated  by  speaking  against 
time  in  the  Senate. 

Wilmot  was  vehemently  assailed  by  most  of  the  leaders  of  his 
party,  but  the  growing  anti-slavery  sentiment  of  the  North, 
which  soon  culminated  in  an  open  breach  in  the  party  by  Van 
Buren  accepting  a  bolting  Free  Soil  Democratic  nomination  for 
the  Presidency  against  Cass,  inspired  Wilmot  in  his  great  battle, 
and  he  developed  wonderful  power  as  a  public  disputant.  He 
was  a  man  of  rather  sluggish  temperament,  and  not  a  ready 
off-hand  debater,  but  he  was  laborious  in  exhaustive  study  of 
any  question  when  it  became  a  matter  of  public  interest,  and 
when  he  appeared  on  the  forum  to  defend  his  cause  he  was 
singularly  forceful  and  persuasive.  Wilmot's  masterly  speeches 
aroused  his  constituents  to  most  aggressive  action,  and  they  car- 
ried the  Democratic  primaries  and  nominated  him  for  a  third 
term  in  Congress,  but  the  Administration  Democrats  openly 
bolted  and  nominated  Jonah  Brewster,  a  pro-slavery  Democrat, 
against  him.  There  was  a  normal  Democratic  majority  of  about 
2,000  in  the  district,  and  the  Whigs,  taking  advantage  of  the 
Democratic  disturbance,  nominated  Henry  W.  Tracey,  and  en- 
tered the  contest  confident  of  his  election;  but  Wilmot  broke  up 
all  party  lines  by  his  appeals  to  his  people,  and  the  result  was 
his  re-election  by  8,597  votes  to  4,795  for  Tracey  and  only  922 
for  Brewster.  He  also  boldly  espoused  the  cause  of  Van  Buren, 
and  thereby  gave  Taylor,  the  Whig  candidate  for  President,  a 
decided  majority  over  Cass.  Wilmot's  contest  for  re-election  in 
1848  attracted  the  attention  of  the  whole  nation,  and  his  triumph 
did  much  to  strengthen  the  anti-slavery  movement  throughout 
the  North. 

Wilmot's  great  strength  was  in  his  readiness  to  maintain  the 
courage  of  his  convictions.  He  never  faltered  when  the  slavery 
battle  was  on,  and  became  very  generally  appreciated  as  one  of 
the  great  anti-slavery  leaders  of  the  nation.  He  was  guiltless 
of  all  the  arts  of  the  demagogue,  sternly  honest  in  all  things  and 
more  than  able  to  maintain  his  position  against  all  comers. 
During  his  last  term  in  Congress  he  was  one  of  the  most  con- 
sistent and  earnest,  and  certainly  one  of  the  ablest,  of  the  brave 


238  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

men  who  lined  up  to  resist  slavery  aggregation,  but  the  South 
then  furnished  the  great  leaders  for  the  Democratic  party.  With 
them  statesmanship  and  politics  were  professions,  and  their 
ablest  men  were  trained  and  continued  in  the  public  service. 
Opposition  to  the  Wilmot  Proviso  was  finally  forced  as  a  car- 
dinal doctrine  of  the  party,  and  the  anti-slavery  Democrats  were 
relentlessly  proscribed.  When  Wilmot  came  up  for  re-election 
in  1850  he  carried  the  Democratic  primaries  and  was  nominated, 
but  newspapers  had  been  started  in  every  county  of  his  district 
to  oppose  him,  and  his  defeat  was  regarded  as  one  of  the  first 
duties  of  those  who  desired  the  success  of  the  Democracy  of 
the  nation.  Another  Democratic  candidate  was  nominated 
against  him,  and  with  the  increased  strength,  organization  and 
abundant  resources  of  his  Democratic  opponents  it  became  evi- 
dent that  both  the  Democratic  candidates  were  likely  to  be  de- 
feated and  a  Whig  elected. 

Conservative  Democrats  of  the  district  interposed  and  sug- 
gested that  both  the  Democratic  candidates  withdraw  and  select 
some  Democrat  upon  whom  all  could  unite.  Wilmot  promptly 
answered  that  he  did  not  care  to  go  back  to  Congress,  and  that 
he  was  entirely  willing  to  retire  from  the  field  if  a  Democrat 
was  nominated  who  would  sustain  his  anti-slavery  faith  and 
was  personally  acceptable  to  himself.  He  was  asked  to  suggest 
a  man,  and  he  named  Galusha  A.  Grow,  then  a  young  member 
of  the  Bar  in  Susquehanna  county,  whose  broken  health  made 
him  abandon  his  profession  for  active  outdoor  life.  The  desire 
to  retire  Wilmot  was  so  strong  that  his  Democratic  opponents 
readily  accepted  his  declination  on  his  own  conditions,  and  both 
the  candidates  retired  ten  days  before  the  election,  and  Grow 
was  found  out  in  the  mountains  by  a  committee  and  hurried 
back  to  make  his  battle.  Thus  Grow,  who  never  dreamed  of 
being  a  candidate,  was  nominated  and  elected,  and  entered  Con- 
gress in  1851,  just  half  a  century  ago,  and  is  the  only  member 
of  that  Congress  who  is  now  in  either  branch  of  the  national 
legislature. 

Wilmot  retired  from  Congress  on  the  4th  of  March,  1851, 
just  when  the  people  of  Pennsylvania  had  changed  their  Con- 
stitution, making  their  judges  elective,  and  he  was  nominated 
without  serious  opposition  for  President  Judge  of  the  Bradford 
and  Susquehanna  district  and  elected  by  an  overwhelming  ma- 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  239 

jority.  He  brought  to  his  judicial  duties  the  same  honest  devo- 
tion to  duty  that  he  exhibited  at  all  times  in  his  public  career, 
but  when  the  bugle  sounded  for  the  political  conflict  in  which 
the  slavery  issue  was  involved  he  was  often  forgetful  of  his 
judicial  position  as  he  mounted  the  rostrum  to  advocate  his 
cause.  When  the  Missouri  Compromise  was  repealed  in  1854 
he  was  aroused  to  most  active  opposition.  He  called  out  all 
his  stubbornly  aggressive  qualities,  and  he  swept  his  northern 
counties  away  from  their  party  moorings  and  largely  aided  in 
the  election  of  Pollock,  the  Whig  candidate  for  Governor. 

In  1857  a  Governor  and  other  State  officers  were  to  be  chosen 
in  Pennsylvania.  I  was  a  delegate  in  the  Republican  conven- 
tion of  that  year,  and,  after  a  very  careful  review  of  the  situation, 
it  was  decided  that  the  time  had  come  for  the  Republicans  to 
nominate  a  straight  ticket  even  in  the  face  of  defeat.  When 
that  policy  was  determined  there  was  but  one  candidate — Judge 
Wilmot — and  he  was  given  a  unanimous  nomination.  He  at 
once  resigned  his  judgeship,  and  his  place  was  filled  by  Gov- 
ernor Pollock  by  a  friend  of  Wilmot's  who  would  not  stand  in 
the  way  of  his  chief  returning  to  the  Bench  if  defeated  for  Gov- 
ernor. The  battle  was  hopeless  from  the  start,  but  I  have  never 
known  a  candidate  to  plead  a  cause  so  ably  and  so  earnestly  with 
the  people  of  Pennsylvania  as  did  Wilmot.  He  was  not  a  grace- 
ful orator,  nor  was  he  skilled  in  rhetoric,  nor  had  he  any  of  the 
arts  which  are  so  often  employed  to  make  oratory  effective,  but 
his  earnest,  exhaustive,  straightforward  and  manly  presentation 
of  the  issue  had  never  been  surpassed  by  any  of  our  Pennsyl- 
vania campaigners.  He  was  defeated,  of  course,  and  was  re- 
elected  judge,  but  the  political  bitterness  inspired  by  a  desire  to 
overthrow  Wilmot  as  a  political  factor  led  to  an  organized  effort 
to  depose  him  as  a  judge.  I  was  a  member  of  the  House,  which 
was  then  two-thirds  Democratic.  A  very  innocent  little  bill  in 
some  way  relating  to  the  judiciary  was  passed  by  the  House 
without  objection,  but  when  it  reached  the  Senate,  where  the 
Democrats  had  three  majority,  it  was  amended  to  abolish  Judge 
Wilmot's  district  by  attaching  Susquehanna  to  a  district  on  the 
east  and  Bradford  to  a  district  on  the  west. 

The  Senate  passed  the  bill  with  the  amendment  abolishing 
Wilmot's  district,  and  the  Bar  of  both  counties  divided  sharply 
on  Wilmot  and  anti- Wilmot  lines,  sent  their  prominent  men  to 


240  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

Harrisburg,  and  as  a  member  of  the  Judiciary  Committee  I 
heard  the  most  impassioned  appeals  made  alike  for  the  passage 
and  for  the  defeat  of  the  bill.  Wilmot  came  in  person,  threw 
himself  into  the  contest  with  desperate  earnestness,  and  in  order 
to  save  him  fifteen  of  his  most  devoted  friends,  who  were  op- 
posed to  all  speculative  legislation,  agreed  to  vote  for  several 
objectionable  measures  in  return  for  enough  Democratic  votes 
to  save  Wilmot.  When  the  breach  was  made  in  the  Democratic 
line,  leading  Democratic  lawyers  of  the  House  came  to  the 
front,  and  the  measure  was  defeated  by  a  nearly  two-thirds  vote. 
Wilmot  went  with  his  party  in  1852  when  it  was  united  in 
support  of  Pierce,  but  when  the  repeal  of  the  Missouri  Compro- 
mise was  made  a  party  measure  he  deserted  the  Democrats  and 
became  not  only  a  State  but  a  national  leader  in  the  Republican 
organization,  and  was  temporary  president  of  the  Chicago  con- 
vention that  nominated  Lincoln.  He  was  a  candidate  for  Sen- 
ator in  1861,  but  Cameron  held  the  balance  of  power  in  the  con- 
test, and  gave  the  victory  to  Edgar  Cowan.  Later  during  the 
same  session,  when  Cameron  resigned  his  Senatorship  to  enter 
the  Cabinet,  Wilmot  was  chosen  to  succeed  him.  At  the  end  of 
his  two  years'  term  the  Democrats  had  carried  the  Legislature 
by  one  majority  and  made  Charles  R.  Buckalew  Senator.  Soon 
thereafter  Wilmot  was  appointed  a  judge  of  the  Court  of  Claims, 
a  position  that  he  held  until  his  death.  His  vigor  was  much 
impaired  during  the  last  few  years  of  his  life  by  steadily  failing 
health,  and  after  his  retirement  from  the  Senate  he  ceased  to 
take  any  active  part  in  the  political  conflicts  of  the  time.  His 
health  became  so  much  impaired  that  he  was  finally  able  to  give 
but  little  of  his  time  to  his  judicial  duties,  and  on  the  i6th  of 
March,  1868,  he  quietly  passed  away  in  his  mountain  home  at 
Towanda.  In  the  beautiful  suburbs  of  the  town  may  be  seen 
the  little  City  of  the  Silent,  and  near  the  public  road  stands  the 
simple  marble  headstone  of  the  grave  of  David  Wilmot,  with  his 
name  and  date  of  birth  and  death  on  the  inner  surface,  and  on 
the  outer  surface,  where  it  can  be  seen  by  every  passerby,  is 
inscribed  the  text  of  the  Wilmot  Proviso, 


PATHETIC    ECHOES   OF   LINCOLN 
ASSASSINATION. 

April  14,  1865,  was  a  day  of  general  rejoicing  among  the 
loyal  people  of  the  nation.  It  was  Good  Friday,  and  the  many 
religious  people  who  observed  it  as  a  day  of  fasting  and  medita- 
tion mingled  with  their  religious  duties  profoundest  thanks  to 
the  God  of  nations,  because  the  bloody  fraternal  war  that  had 
lasted  for  four  years  seemed  about  to  terminate  in  the  over- 
throw of  the  enemies  of  the  republic  and  the  re-establishment  of 
peace.  Only  five  days  before  General  Lee  had  surrendered  the 
Army  of  North  Virginia  to  General  Grant,  and  President  Lin- 
coln had  already  grappled  with  the  grave  problem  of  recon- 
struction. It  was  regular  Cabinet  day,  and  a  protracted  session 
was  held  and  the  question  of  reorganizing  the  Southern  States 
was  elaborately  discussed.  The  President  was  unusually  cheer- 
ful, and  spoke  most  hopefully  of  the  early  establishment  of 
peace  and  the  reunion  of  the  States.  He  emphasized  his  pur- 
pose to  discard  the  policy  of  vengeance.  He  is  quoted  in  Nico- 
lay  and  Hay  as  saying  to  the  Cabinet :  "No  one  need  expect  that 
I  will  take  any  part  in  hanging  or  killing  these  men,  even  the 
worst  of  them.  Threaten  them  out  of  the  country,  open  the 
gates,  let  down  the  bars  and  scare  them  off.  Enough  lives  have 
been  sacrificed.  We  must  extinguish  our  resentment  if  we 
expect  harmony  and  union."  After  an  exhaustive  consideration 
of  the  question  he  selected  a  special  committee  of  the  Cabinet 
to  formulate  a  policy  of  reconstruction  on  the  lines  he  had  indi- 
cated, declaring  to  the  Cabinet  that  "they  must  now  begin  to 
act  in  the  interest  of  peace."  General  Grant  had  just  arrived  at 
Washington  crowned  with  the  laurels  of  Appomattox,  and  sat 
with  the  Cabinet  during  most  of  its  session,  and  telegraphic 
reports  came  of  the  imposing  ceremonies  at  Charleston,  where 
General  Anderson  had  hoisted  over  Fort  Sumter  the  same  flag 
that  he  had  taken  down  and  saluted  on  that  day  four  years 
before,  when  he  surrendered  the  fort  to  General  Beauregard. 
During  the  afternoon  the  President  took  a  drive  with  Mrs. 

(241) 


242  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

Lincoln,  and  his  biographers  before  quoted  say:  "Never  simpler 
or  gentler  than  on  this  day  of  unprecedented  triumph;  his  heart 
overflowed  with  sentiments  of  gratitude  to  heaven,  which  took 
the  shape  usual  to  generous  natures,  of  love  and  kindness  to 
all  men." 

The  surrender  of  Lee  practically  overthrew  the  military  power 
of  the  Confederacy.  There  were  other  Confederate  armies  in 
the  field,  the  largest  of  which  was  in  North  Carolina,  com- 
manded by  General  Joseph  E.  Johnston,  but  in  his  front  was  the 
victorious  army  of  Sherman,  largely  outnumbering  him  in  every 
attribute  of  military  strength  and  confident  of  an  easy  victory 
over  the  broken,  despairing  and  disintegrated  army  of  the  enemy. 
The  occasion  had  suddenly  come  to  test  the  statesmanship  of 
our  Government,  and  Lincoln  not  only  well  understood  the 
great  duty  imposed  upon  him,  but  he  well  understood  how  to 
incline  the  South  to  peace  and  reunion.  He  felt  that  the  great 
work  of  rehabilitation  depended  largely  upon  himself.  Con- 
gress was  not  in  session,  and  would  not  meet  until  December, 
and  he  was  confident  that  he  could  attain  such  progress  in 
reconstruction  on  generous  and  sympathetic  lines  as  would 
practically  determine  the  action  of  Congress  and  bring  it  into 
accord  with  the  Administration.  Had  Congress  been  in  session 
the  radical  elements  would  have  been  vehement  for  vengeance 
and  greatly  retarded  the  reunion  that  Lincoln  had  so  well  con- 
sidered as  possible  and  so  well  matured  his  plans  to  accomplish. 

President  Lincoln  and  General  Grant  were  invited  with  their 
wives  to  appear  at  Ford's  Theatre  in  the  evening  to  witness  the 
play  of  "Our  American  Cousin,"  by  Laura  Keene's  company, 
and  both  had  accepted;  but  General  and  Mrs.  Grant  later  de- 
cided to  take  a  train  for  the  North  in  the  evening,  and  Major 
Henry  R.  Rathbone  and  Miss  Harris,  daughter  of  Senator  Har- 
ris and  fiancee  of  Major  Rathbone,  were  invited  by  Mrs.  Lin- 
coln to  join  them.  It  had  been  publicly  announced  that  Lincoln 
and  Grant  would  be  at  the  theatre  that  evening,  and  the  audi- 
torium was  crowded  from  parquet  to  dome  to  welcome  the 
President  and  the  victor  of  Appomattox.  When  Lincoln  and  his 
party  entered  the  theatre  there  was  an  instant  pause  in  the  play, 
and  the  audience  rose  to  cheer  the  distinguished  guest,  while 
the  band  played  "Hail  to  the  Chief."  About  10  o'clock  J.  Wilkes 
Booth,  who  had  acted  in  the  same  theatre  and  had  the  entre  to 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  243 

every  part  of  it,  entered  and  passed  unobstructed  to  the  Presi- 
dent's box,  armed  with  a  Derringer  pistol  and  a  dagger.  He 
quietly  entered  the  box,  and  before  he  was  observed  by  any  one 
pointed  the  pistol  close  to  the  head  of  the  President  and  fired. 
The  heavy  ball  crashed  through  the  skull  into  the  brain,  and 
Lincoln  was  mortally  wounded.  Booth  immediately  sprang 
from  the  box  onto  the  stage  whirling  his  dagger  over  his  head, 
and  with  the  defiant  utterance  of  "Sic  semper  tyrannus!"  he 
rushed  out  at  the  rear  of  the  theatre,  where  a  horse  was  held  in 
waiting  for  him.  He  was  a  trained  athlete,  and  his  spring  from 
the  box  to  the  stage  was  an  easy  task,  but  the  stage  was  draped 
with  a  bountiful  supply  of  Stars  and  Stripes,  and  his  spurs 
caught  in  the  flag,  bringing  him  to  a  fall  that  broke  one  of  his 
legs,  thus  greatly  hindering  his  escape.  The  story  of  the  re- 
moval of  Lincoln  to  a  humble  private  dwelling  across  the  street, 
of  his  death  and  the  vicissitudes  and  tragic  death  of  Booth  and 
his  associates  are  too  well  known  to  need  repetition. 

Of  all  the  many  sad  days  of  the  war,  during  which  I  felt  its 
fiercest  desolation  in  my  own  home  in  Chambersburg,  the  morn- 
ing of  the  1 5th  of  April  I  ever  recall  as  the  one  dark  day  in 
which  there  did  not  seem  to  be  a  semblance  of  silver  lining  to 
the  impenetrable  cloud  that  hung  over  us.  I  went  to  the  depot 
at  9  o'clock  in  the  morning  to  take  a  train  for  Philadelphia,  and 
was  there  informed  by  the  telegraph  operator  that  a  dispatch 
had  just  passed  over  the  lines  telling  that  Lincoln  had  died  at 
7.22  that  morning  from  a  bullet  wound  inflicted  by  Booth,  the 
actor,  at  Ford's  Theatre,  the  evening  before.  The  keen  sorrow 
the  tragedy  brought  to  me  with  my  wealth  of  affection  for 
Abraham  Lincoln  was  measurably  overshadowed  by  what 
seemed  to  be  a  sudden  plunge  of  the  nation  into  anarchy  just 
when  its  deliverance  was  so  brightly  promised.  Andrew  John- 
son, the  new  Vice-President,  had  appeared  at  the  inauguration 
and  given  such  a  disgraceful  exhibition  of  himself  that  he  was 
compelled  to  retire  to  escape  the  threatened  resentment  of  the 
Senate  for  its  fearfully  offended  dignity.  The  elder  Francis  P. 
Blair  kindly  took  Johnson  to  his  country  home,,  and  he  had 
never  entered  the  Senate  after  his  inauguration  as  Vice-Presi- 
dent, although  in  the  enjoyment  of  his  usual  health,  and  he  had 
been  very  generally  and  severely  criticised  for  the  dishonor  he 
had  brought  upon  his  great  office  and  upon  the  Government 


244  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

Such  a  man  called  to  the  Presidency  to  meet  the  gravest  duties 
which  ever  confronted  an  Executive,  with  his  unbridled  political 
passions,  which  had  been  poured  out  in  a  flood  tide  against  the 
South,  seemed  to  dispel  the  last  hope  of  the  reunion  of  the 
States.  He  was  then  an  unknown  quantity  in  politics;  had 
never  voted  the  Republican  ticket  until  he  voted  for  himself 
as  a  candidate  for  Vice-President,  and  all  who  had  on  that  fate- 
ful I4th  of  April  shared  the  joy  of  Abraham  Lincoln  were  sud- 
denly plunged  into  the  starless  midnight  of  despair. 

The  present  generation,  which  has  witnessed  the  assassination 
of  Presidents  Garfield  and  McKinley,  can  form  no  conception 
of  the  political  and  sectional  conditions  which  existed  when 
Lincoln  was  murdered.  Garfield  and  McKinley  were  assassin- 
ated by  unbalanced  cranks  and  the  whole  people  were  stricken 
with  sorrow,  but  Lincoln  fell  by  the  assassin's  bullet  when  the 
South  was  implacable  in  its  hostility  to  him,  believing  hini  to 
be  a  rude  jester  and  relentless  butcher,  and  even,  in  the  North, 
so  intense  was  the  partisan  strife  of  that  day,  there  were  many 
who  were  in  sincere  sympathy  with  the  South  but  too  cowardly 
to  avow  it,  who  felt  no  sorrow  because  of  Lincoln's  death.  The 
Confederacy  was  then  in  the  agony  of  its  last  throes,  and  even 
President  Davis,  who  was  then  a  fugitive  from  his  capital,  when 
advised  of  the  assassination  of  Lincoln  believed  that  it  would 
strengthen  his  cause.  In  his  "Rise  and  Fall  of  the  Confederate 
Government"  he  admits  that  the  dispatch  announcing  Lincoln's 
assassination  was  read  in  his  presence  to  the  Confederate  troops 
of  North  Carolina  and  elicited  cheers,  and  he  adds:  "For  an 
enemy  so  relentless  in  a  war  for  our  subjugation,  we  could  not 
be  expected  to  mourn."  His  estimate  of  Lincoln  was  that  of 
the  South  generally.  He  believed  Lincoln  to  be  a  relentless 
tyrant,  and  hoped  that  Lincolnis  death  might  in  some  measure 
repair  his  shattered  fortunes,  but  fifteen  years  later,  when  I 
visited  him  in  his  home  in  Mississippi,  he  paid  the  highest  possi- 
ble tribute  to  Lincoln,  expressed  sincere  regret  that  he  did  not 
better  understand  him  during  the  war,  and  said  that  next  to 
the  day  of  the  fall  of  the  Confederacy  the  darkest  day  the  South 
has  seen  was  the  day  of  Lincoln's  assassination. 

The  period  of  more  than  a  generation  has  passed  since  the 
murder  of  Lincoln,  but  the  painful  and  often  pathetic  echoes  of 
that  assassination  have  not  yet  entirely  perished.  I  never  met 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  245 

J.  Wilkes  Booth  personally,  and  never  saw  him  play  but  once, 
and  that  was  at  Ford's  Theatre,  in  Washington,  only  a  few 
months  before  he  committed  his  awful  crime  in  the  same  forum. 
He  appeared  as  Pescara  in  the  play  of  "The  Apostate,"  and  I 
was  greatly  disappointed  to  find  one  bearing  the  name  of  Booth, 
with  nearly  a  decade  of  experience  on  the  stage,  exhibit  so  little 
of  histrionic  ability.  He  was  a  man  of  strikingly  handsome 
presence,  flashing  dark  eyes,  and  rather  pale  complexion,  with 
admirable  grace  of  manner,  but  in  the  play  he  seemed  to  be 
wildly  tragic  whenever  opportunity  offered,  and  possessed  none 
of  the  inspiring  and  impressive  attributes  of  his  father  or  of  his 
brother,  Edwin.  On  the  stage  he  showed  his  true  character  as 
fanatical  in  everything  he  attempted.  He  was  a  wild  enthusiast, 
a  creature  of  unbridled  impulse,  delighting  in  waywardness,  and 
evidently  without  any  adequate  moral  balance.  He  was  one  of 
the  three  sons  of  Junius  Brutus  Booth,  who  is  remembered  as 
the  most  accomplished  tragedian  of  his  day,  and  whose  life  was 
replete  with  strange  vicissitudes  alike  in  its  domestic,  profes- 
sional and  individual  features,  and  at  times  disturbed  by  mental 
disorder. 

J.  Wilkes  Booth  was  a  blatant  secessionist  before  and  during 
the  war.  He  was  a  volunteer  in  aiding  the  capture  of  John 
Brown.  He  had  staked  everything  on  the  success  of  the  Con- 
federacy, and  expected  to  be  lionized  as  its  great  tragedian  after 
it  had  been  established.  In  the  latter  part  of  1864  and  the  early 
part  of  1865  he  saw  that  the  military  power  of  the  Confederacy 
was  broken,  and  his  distempered  and  unbalanced  mind  was  ab- 
sorbed in  schemes  to  halt  the  adverse  tide  against  the  lost  cause. 
He  first  pfanned  the  abduction  of  Lincoln,  and  gathered  around 
him  a  little  circle  consisting  of  Lewis  Powell,  alias  Payne,  an 
ex-Confederate  soldier  from  Florida;  George  Atzerodt,  who  had 
been  playing  spy  and  Potomac  blockade  runner;  Samuel  Har- 
rold  and  Michael  O'Laughlin,  Confederate  soldiers  from  Mary- 
land, arid  John  H.  Surratt,  son  of  Mrs.  Mary  E.  Surratt,  at  whose 
house  in  Washington  the  conspirators  met.  Booth's  plan  was 
to  abduct  Lincoln  and  conduct  him  to  Richmond,  thereby 
making  himself  the  hero  of  the  Confederacy  and  attain  peace; 
but  disaster  followed  disaster  to  the  Confederate  cause,  ancj 
finally  the  surrender  of  Lee  so  inflamed  Booth  that  he  resolved 
upon  the  murder  of  Lincoln,  Seward  and  Johnson;  and  when 


246  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

the  announcement  was  made  that  Lincoln  would  attend  the 
theatre  on  the  evening  of  the  I4th  of  April  he  suddenly  decided 
that  the  murderous  work  must  be  completed  that  night.  He 
assumed  to  become  the  murderer  of  Lincoln,  Payne  was  as- 
signed to  murder  Seward  and  Atzerodt  was  given  the  task  of 
murdering  Johnson.  He  executed  his  part  and  gratified  him- 
self by  posing  as  a  most  heroic  murderer;  Payne  attempted  but 
failed  in  the  murder  of  Seward,  and  Atzerodt  was  too  cowardly 
to  attempt  the  performance  of  the  fiendish  task  assigned  to  him. 

Booth  was  hunted  with  tireless  energy,  and  when  his  mon- 
strous crime  was  made  known  to  his  friends  in  Maryland  and 
Virginia,  from  whom  he  sought  shelter,  they  taught  him  the 
deepest  measure  of  despair  by  refusing  to  be  in  any  way  con- 
nected with  him,  although  many  of  them  gave  him  food  and 
shelter  outside  of  their  homes.  He  was  finally  overtaken  in  a 
barn  where  he  had  taken  refuge,  the  torch  was  applied,  and  when 
the  fury  of  the  flames  lighted  up  his  hiding  place  Boston  Corbett 
fired  upon  him  and  inflicted  a  mortal  wound,  and  after  three 
hours  lingering  in  excruciating  pain  he  died  at  7  o'clock  on  the 
morning  of  the  25th  of  April,  1865. 

J.  Wilkes  Booth  promptly  paid  the  penalty  of  his  fearful 
crime,,  but  terrible  as  were  his  sufferings,  and  tragic  as  was  his 
death,  there  were  others  innocent  as  the  unborn  babe  who  suf- 
fered untold  agonies  and  worse  than  a  thousand  deaths  because 
of  the  Lincoln  assassination.  John  Sleeper  Clarke  is  well  re- 
membered by  the  people  of  Philadelphia,  but  most  of  those  of 
the  present  day  recall  him  only  as  he  has  appeared  on  our  the- 
atrical boards  for  two  or  three  brief  seasons  since  he  made  his 
home  in  London.  I  well  remember  him  as  one  of  the  most  de- 
lightful of  our  young  comedians  at  Wheatley  &  Drew's  Arch 
Street  Theatre.  He  rose  rapidly  in  his  profession,  and  there 
are  many  yet  who  remember  his  Toodles,  his  Paul  Pry,  his 
Wellington  De  Boots  and  other  characters  in  comedy  in  which 
he  was  excelled  by  none  and  equaled  by  few.  When  just  attain- 
ing his  high  position  as  a  comedian  he  married  Miss  Asia  Booth, 
only  daughter  of  the  elder  tragedian,  and  they  made  their  home 
in  West  Philadelphia.  He  was  an  accomplished  gentleman, 
devoted  only  to  his  profession  and  his  home  circle,  which  to 
him  was  the  holiest  place  of  earth,  and  J.  Wilkes  Booth,  when 
temporarily  visiting  Philadelphia,  made  his  home  with  Clarke. 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  247 

On  the  morning  of  the  I5th  of  April,  1865,  while  Clarice  was 
shaving  himself,  he  was  shocked  by  a  terrible  scream  from  his 
wife,  who  had  the  morning  paper  brought  up  to  her  before  she 
left  her  bed.  When  Clarke  rushed  to  his  wife  and  inquired  the 
cause  of  her  disturbance,  she  pointed  to  the  terrible  headlines  in 
the  paper  announcing  that  J.  Wilkes  Booth  had  murdered  the 
President.  Language  could  not  define  the  terrible  blow  to 
Clarke  and  his  wife.  She  was  not  in  vigorous  health,  and  while 
vainly  trying  to  calm  her  hysterical  agony  a  United  States 
marshal  knocked  for  admittance,  placed  a  guard  about  the  house 
and  permitted  none  to  enter  or  leave  it.  Clarke  was  notified  that 
he  and  his  wife  were  under  arrest  for  complicity  in  the  murder 
of  Lincoln.  The  officer  knew  Clarke  well  and  knew  that  he  was 
entirely  guiltless  of  any  knowledge  of  the  murderous  purposes 
of  his  erratic  brother-in-law,  but  the  whole  nation  was  shocked 
and  every  possible  source  of  information  relating  to  the  con- 
spiracy was  seized  by  the  omnipotent  power  of  the  Government. 
The  house  was  carefully  searched,  and,  of  course,  nothing  found 
to  indicate  that  the  murder  had  been  considered  there.  Clarke 
was  taken  as  a  prisoner  to  Washington,  committed  to  the  old 
capital  prison,  but  no  charge  was  made  against  him,  and  when 
the  case  was  finally  unraveled  and  the  guilty  parties  discovered 
he  was  given  his  freedom  without  conditions,  and  thereby  pub- 
licly acquitted  of  all  participation  in,  or  knowledge  of,  the  crime 
of  Booth.  Mrs.  Clarke  was  held  for  some  time  as  captive  in  her 
own  house,  where  a  few  weeks  after  the  liberation  of  her  hus- 
band, Creston  Clarke,  the  present  distinguished  dramatic  artist, 
well  known  throughout  the  land,  was  born. 

Clarke's  high  hopes  of  a  long  and  successful  dramatic  career 
in  this  country  were  suddenly  ended,  and  he  went  to  London 
with  his  family.  He  never  severed  his  relations  with  his  old 
friends  here,  and  evidently  had  great  pride  in  the  country  that 
he  felt  he  could  visit  only  as  a  stranger.  I  remember  him  call- 
ing at  my  house  one  morning  when  he  was  filling  an  engage- 
ment in  this  country  some  fifteen  or  eighteen  years  ago,  and  he 
left  with  me  his  check  for  $500  as  a  contribution  for  a  popular 
celebration  of  the  Fourth  of  July,  then  a  few  days  distant.  It 
was  easy  to  see  that  he  was  broken-hearted,  and  it  was  hard 
for  him  to  say  that  his  wife  had  not  visited  her  home  country 
because  of  her  infirm  health  and  great  suffering  during  sea 


24-8  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

voyage,  but  between  the  lines  could  be  well  understood  the 
fact  that  Mrs.  Clarke  never  could  entertain  the  idea  of  visiting 
the  United  States,  where  the  crime  of  her  brother  would  be  on 
every  tongue.  Clarke  won  fame  and  fortune  abroad,  and 
always  had  large  investments  in  this  country,  but  his  life  was 
ever  overshadowed  in  the  terrible  cloud  of  sorrow  that  hung 
like  a  pall  over  him  and  his  household. 

Creston  Clarke  grew  up  as  a  boy  in  London  entirely  ignorant 
of  the  crime  that  attached  to  his  family,  until  one  day  when  ten 
years  of  age,  while  playing  with  some  American  boys  in  Lon- 
don, one  of  them  asked  him  whether  he  was  related  to  the  Booth 
who  had  murdered  Lincoln.  The  boy  was  dumfounded,  and 
immediately  ran  home  and  asked  his  mother  what  it  meant. 
With  tears  in  her  eyes  she  simply  answered:  "Ask  your  father." 
He  did  so,  and  then  for  the  first  time  learned  the  story  that  had 
brought  consuming  and  ineffaceable  sorrow  to  his  parents.  Mrs. 
Clarke  lived  only  at  the  altar  of  her  home  and  family,  and  was 
personally  unknown  in  London,  save  to  a  very  few  trusted 
friends.  She  died  broken-hearted  and  welcomed  the  grave  as 
giving  the  peace  that  life  refused.  A  few  years  ago  Clarke  fol- 
lowed her  to  the  long  home  for  which  both  had  sighed  through 
many  years. 

Another  sad  life  was  a  most  pathetic  echo  of  the  assassination 
of  Lincoln  for  more  than  a  quarter  of  a  century.  On  the  night 
of  the  I4th  of  April  Edwin  Booth,  brother  of  J.  Wilkes  Booth, 
played  to  a  crowded  house  in  Boston  in  the  character  of  Sir 
Edward  Mortimer,  and  the  next  morning,  when  he  read  the  ter- 
rible announcement  of  the  assassination  of  Lincoln,  he  was 
utterly  overwhelmed,  and  at  once  announced  his  purpose  to  re- 
tire from  the  stage  forever.  He  was  a  gentleman  of  the  highest 
culture,  a  most  blameless  character,  genial,  refined  and  beloved 
by  all  who  knew  him,  and  he  was  credited  as  the  only  one  of  the 
three  sons  of  the  great  tragedian  who  inherited  a  large  measure 
of  his  father's  genius.  He  was  then  in  the  zenith  of  his  fame 
and  just  in  the  noontide  of  life.  Five  years  before  he  had  mar- 
ried Miss  Mary  Devlin,  an  accomplished  and  highly  respected 
actress,  but  in  less  than  three  years  she  died,  leaving  a  daughter 
Edwina.  It  is  an  open  secret  that  at  the  time  of  the  assassina- 
tion of  Lincoln  Booth  was  engaged  to  a  very  beautiful  and  ac- 
complished Philadelphia  lady,  but  soon  thereafter  her  father  on 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  249 

his  deathbed  exacted  from  her  a  promise  that  she  should  not 
become  the  wife  of  Edwin  Booth.  The  promise  was  given,  and 
after  the  death  of  the  father  the  lady  entered  a  convent  in  France 
and  dedicated  herself  to  the  church.  For  nearly  a  year  Booth 
was  practically  a  recluse,  shunning  all  appearance  in  public  and 
seeing  only  a  few  of  his  devoted  friends.  He  was  naturally  of 
quiet,  sober  temperament,  and  the  fearful  calamity  had  brought 
him  continued  melancholy.  His  friends  finally  urged  him  to 
resume  his  profession,  but  he  first  vehemently  refused  it.  After 
repeated  and  earnest  appeals  to  him  to  resume  his  life  work  for 
his  own  sake,  with  the  assurance  that  the  public  would  welcome 
him  with  generous  sympathy  because  of  his  unspeakable  suf- 
fering, he  finally  reappeared  in  "Hamlet"  at  the  Winter  Garden 
Theatre  of  New  York  in  1866,  and  was  received  with  boundless 
enthusiasm.  He  then  continued  his  great  career  as  a  dramatic 
artist,  and  with  the  highest  measure  of  success,  not  only  at 
home  but  abroad.  He  played  in  nearly  all  of  the  leading  cities 
of  the  country,  with  the  single  exception  of  Washington,  where 
he  always  refused  to  appear.  Later  on  he  had  associated  with 
him  as  leading  lady  Miss  McVicker,  of  Chicago,  one  of  the 
sprightliest  little  actresses  of  her  time.  She  was  a  ray  of  sun- 
shine wherever  she  went,  and  soon  rekindled  in  Booth  the  hopes 
and  affections  which  he  had  consigned  to  forgetfulness.  They 
were  married,  and  played  together  for  several  years,  when  an- 
other sad  affliction  befell  him,  as  his  bright  and  charming  wife 
became  first  a  prey  to  melancholy  and  finally  ended  in  hopeless 
insanity  that  soon  gave  her  refuge  in  death.  His  last  efforts  on 
the  stage  are  well  remembered  as  the  most  successful  of  any  of 
our  distinguished  dramatic  artists.  It  was  in  association  with 
Barrett,  on  whom  the  sobered  and  sorrowing  spirit  of  Booth 
could  rely  for  devoted  friendship  and  business  management; 
but  Barrett's  death  in  1891  made  Booth  feel  like  a  tempest- 
tossed  ship  at  sea,  without  rudder  or  compass,  and  he  lived 
quietly  in  his  home  in  the  Players'  Club,  New  York  City,  which 
he  had  founded,  until  June  7,  1893,  when  this  sad  and  most 
pathetic  echo  of  the  Lincoln  assassination  went  to  final  rest  in 
the  grave. 


THE  RISE  AND  FALL  OF  THE  NEGRO 
IN  POLITICS. 

The  negro  race  is  entirely  unrepresented  in  either  branch  of 
the  present  Congress,  and  I  cannot  recall  a  negro  Senator, 
Representative  or  State  officer  in  any  one  of  the  Northern 
States.  For  the  full  period  of  a  generation,  with  a  single  brief 
exception,  the  negro  was  represented  in  one  or  both  branches  of 
our  national  legislature,  but  he  is  now  retired  and  apparently 
without  hope  of  reasserting  himself  as  a  factor  in  national  legis- 
lation. 

The  story  of  the  rise  and  fall  of  the  negro  in  politics  is  one 
of  the  most  interesting  of  the  many  strange  chapters  of  our 
national  history  during  the  last  generation.  When  reconstruc- 
tion came  after  the  surrender  of  the  Confederate  armies  only  a 
few  of  the  more  radical  leaders  of  the  Republican  party  con- 
templated universal  negro  suffrage  in  the  South,  and  had  Lin- 
coln lived  it  certainly  would  not  have  been  attained.  It  was 
only  when  the  strong  Republican  House  and  Senate  came  in  di- 
rect conflict  with  President  Johnson  that  it  was  found  to  be 
necessary  to  enfranchise  the  negro  and  disfranchise  the  Confed- 
erates to  a  large  extent  to  accomplish  reconstruction  on  a  basis 
that  promised  the  mastery  of  Republican  power  in  the  South.  I 
believe  that  Lincoln  would  have  reconstructed  the  South  with- 
out universal  negro  suffrage  and  made  a  majority  of  the  South- 
ern States  Republican,  but  when  the  issue  came  between  Con- 
gress and  Johnson  the  radical  element  of  the  Republican  leader- 
ship was  doubly  armed,  by  Johnson's  apostasy,  in  the  effort  to 
force  universal  suffrage  in  the  South,  and  it  created  a  political 
mastery  whose  record  is  one  of  the  most  fearful  blemishes  in 
the  annals  of  the  Republic. 

Universal  negro  suffrage  was  first  established  in  the  District 
of  Columbia,  where  Congress  has  supreme  authority,  arid  a  ter- 
ritorial government  organized  with  legislative  authority  chosen 
largely  by  the  enfranchised  freedmen,  A  very  few  years  made 
(250) 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  251 

it  an  imperative  necessity  for  Congress  to  disfranchise  the  entire 
people  of  the  District  of  Columbia  solely  to  escape  the  ignorant 
and  profligate  rule  of  the  negro.  I  happened  to  be  present  in 
the  gallery  of  the  Senate  when  Senator  Morton,  the  ablest  all 
around  leader  of  the  Republican  party,  made  his  final  appeal 
against  the  passage  of  the  bill  repealing  the  right  of  suffrage  in 
the  District  of  Columbia.  He  was  a  man  of  broad,  practical 
ideas,  and  he  told  the  Senate  in  plain  terms  that  the  disfranchise- 
ment  of  the  negro  in  the  District  of  Columbia  would  be  but  the 
beginning  of  the  end,  as  thereafter  Congress  could  make  no  ac- 
cusation against  the  Southern  States  for  taking  the  same  action. 
His  appeal  was  unavailing,  as  he  well  knew,  and  the  same  Re- 
publican authority  that  had  enfranchised  the  negro  under  the 
very  shadow  of  the  Capitol  of  the  nation  was-  compelled  to  -de- 
clare that  his  disfranchisement  had  become  an  imperious  neces- 
sity to  protect  property  and  maintain  social  order.  The  South- 
ern States  which  have,  by  ingenious  constitutional  devices, 
practically  disfranchised  the  negro  have  simply  followed  the 
teaching  of  a  Republican  Congress  and  President  which  dis- 
franchised him  in  the  capital  city. 

The  general  newspaper  reader  of  the  present  day  knows  little 
of  the  deep  and  widespread  prejudice  among  the  early  Republi- 
cans against  universal  suffrage  for  the  negro.  The.  prejudice 
against  the  black  man  was  as  strong  in  the  North  as  in  the 
South.  With  all  the  earnest  efforts  of  the  Republicans  to  give 
the  negro  freedom  and  all  his  legal  rights,  they  shunned  him  as 
a  political  associate  and  shuddered  at  his  fellowship  in  official 
position.  It  is  now  more  than  a  generation  since  the  negro  was 
declared  the  equal  of  the  white  man  before  the  law  in  every 
section  of  the  Union,  and  in  every  Northern  State  the  negroes, 
as  a  rule,  have  voted  solidly  and  uniformly  for  the  Republican 
party;  but  not  a  single  negro  has  ever  been  elected  to  Congress 
in  any  Northern  State;  none  have  been  elected  to  any  State 
office  in  the  North,  with  the  single  exception  of  one  of  the  West- 
ern States  where  a  negro  was  elected  to  a  subordinate  office, 
falling  many  thousands  behind  his  ticket,  and  I  can  recall  very 
few  instances  in  which  the  negro  has  been  elected  to  any  North- 
ern Legislature. 

In  Philadelphia,  where  the  colored  voters  held  the  balance 
of  power  between  the  parties  for  twenty  years,  the  highest  posi- 


25 2  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

tion  to  which  any  one  has  been  elected  was  that  of  Council- 
man, and  only  two  reached  that  distinction.  The  first  negro 
placed  on  the  police  in  Philadelphia  was  appointed  by  Demo- 
cratic Mayor  King  fully  twenty  years  after  the  Republicans  had 
proclaimed  the  entire  equality  of  both  races  before  the  law  and 
in  the  enjoyment  of  civil  rights.  In  one  or  two  instances  Re- 
publicans of  Pennsylvania  have  placed  a  wealthy  negro  on  the 
electoral  ticket,  being  the  only  place  where  one  of  that  race 
could  be  safely  nominated,  and  today  there  are  more  colored 
teachers  employed  by  the  single  State  of  South  Carolina  than  are 
employed  in  the  public  schools  of  all  the  Northern  States  of  the 
Union. 

It  was  not  until  the  7th  of  December,  1868,  that  the  first  negro 
applied  for  admission  into  Congress.  There  was  a  vacancy  in 
the  Second  district  of  Louisiana,  and  at  the  general  election  of 
November  3,  1868,  J.  Willis  Menard,  a  resident  of  New  Orleans, 
was  certified  by  Governor  Warmoth  as  elected  to  fill  the 
vacancy.  The  House  was  largely  Republican,  but  the  idea  of 
admitting  a  negro  into  Congress  threw  many  of  the  Repub- 
lican members  into  a  hysterical  condition.  They  could  not 
frankly  oppose  him  because  he  was  a  negro,  and  they  made  a 
microscopical  examination  of  the  regularity  of  his  credentials. 
He  was  allowed  to  be  heard  in  defence  of  his  own  case,  as  is 
common  in  such  cases,  and  thus  became  the  first  of  his  race 
whose  voice  was  heard  on  the  floor  of  the  House  of  Representa- 
tives; but  his  certificate  was  rejected  by  an  overwhelming  ma- 
jority, and  the  Republican  leaders  breathed  more  freely  because 
they  had,  for  at  least  a  season,  escaped  the  fellowship  of  a  black 
man  in  the  councils  of  the  nation.  Menard  was  one  of  the  most 
accomplished  of  his  race,  a  college  graduate,  and  had  rendered 
very  creditable  service  to  the  Government,  but  three  years  after 
the  close  of  the  war  that  had  been  fought  for  the  freedom  and 
finally  for  the  enfranchisement  of  the  black  man,  a  Republican 
Congress  was  unwilling  to  accept  even  one  of  the  most  credita- 
ble of  his  race  to  membership. 

In  less  than  two  years  the  negro  again  knocked  for  admission 
into  Congress,  and  this  time  he  stood  at  the  door  of  the  Senate. 
In  January,  1870,  Hiram  R.  Revells,  a  man  of  much  more  than 
common  ability  and  of  unblemished  integrity,  was  elected  to  the 
Senate  to  fill  an  un expired  term  by  the  Mississippi  Legislature. 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  253 

It  was  accepted  as  the  irony  of  fate  that  this  negro  leader  should 
be  chosen  to  fill  the  vacancy  in  the  United  States  Senate  that 
had  been  created  by  the  resignation  of  Jefferson  Davis  at  the 
beginning  of  the  war.  Mr.  Revells  was  a  Methodist  minister, 
and  highly  respected  as  one  of  the  most  prominent  and  useful 
of  the  colored  leaders  of  the  South.  On  the  25th  of  January, 
five  days  after  his  election,,  he  appeared  in  Washington,  and  the 
Republican  leaders  of  the  first  legislative  tribunal  of  the  nation 
were  in  consternation  at  the  threatened  advent  of  the  negro  in 
the  Senate.  The  Senate  was  overwhelmingly  Republican,  but 
many  of  the  party  leaders  made  exhaustive  study  to  find  some 
reasonable  excuse  for  refusing  the  seat  to  Revells.  It  was  not 
until  a  month  after  he  had  given  his  credentials  to  Senator  Wil- 
son, of  Massachusetts,  that  Wilson  felt  safe  in  presenting  them 
to  the  body,  and  moving  that  Revells  be  sworn  as  a  Senator. 
An  animated  debate  followed,  occupying  three  days,  in  which 
Republican  Senators  invented  many  excuses  for  rejecting  the 
credentials  with  the  negro  behind  them;  but  on  the  25th  of 
February  Charles  Sumner  delivered  one  of  the  ablest  speeches 
of  his  life  in  defence  of  the  rights  of  the  negro,  resulting  in  the 
admission  of  Revells  by  a  decided  majority.  Thus  on  the  25th  of 
February,  1870,  the  first  negro  entered  our  national  legislature 
when  Hiram  R.  Revells  was  qualified  as  United  States  Senator, 
and  during  his  term  of  little  more  than  one  year  he  enjoyed  the 
solitude  that  was  broken  by  very  few  of  his  fellow-Senators  in 
social  intercourse  even  on  the  floor  of  the  Senate. 

I  met  Senator  Revells  when  he  was  a  member  of  the  Senate, 
and  was  very  much  interested  in  him  as  the  first  representative 
of  his  race  in  our  National  Congress.  He  was  a  man  of  rather 
imposing  presence,  severely  unassuming  and  unusually  intelli- 
gent. He  was  sincerely  devoted  to  the  elevation  and  improve- 
ment of  his  race  on  the  highest  lines  of  advancement,  and  he 
probably  did  more  than  any  one  of  his  race  in  his  day  in  smooth- 
ing the  thorny  pathway  for  his  people  in  the  South.  A  notable 
illustration  of  the  general  public  sentiment  in  the  North  on  the 
subject  of  the  negro  as  a  national  legislator  was  given  in  Phila- 
delphia soon  after  Revells'  admission  to  the  Senate.  He  sud- 
denly rose  to  national  fame  as  the  first  black  man  to  become  a 
national  lawmaker,  and  he  delivered  lectures  in  many  sections 
of  the  country,  which  were  largely  attended.  Among  other 


254  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

invitations  he  received  and  accepted  was  one  to  lecture  in  Phila- 
delphia in  the  Academy  of  Music,  but  when  application  was 
made  for  the  use  of  the  Academy  the  managers  of  that  institu- 
tion were  thrown  into  hysterics  at  the  suggestion  of  bringing 
a  negro  on  its  platform,  and  Revells  was  refused  the  right  to 
speak  there.  Of  course,  it  was  not  announced  that  the  Academy 
was  refused  because  Revells  was  a  negro,  but  it  was  none  the 
less  the  truth.  The  Black  Swan  was  allowed  to  warble  her 
sweet  notes  on  the  same  platform,  but  she  was  not  a  political 
factor,  and  her  coming  did  not  mean  political  fellowship,  but 
the  advent  of  the  negro  Senator  was  a  living  object  lesson  of 
equal  rights  for  the  black  man  which  could  not  at  that  day  be 
accepted  even  in  loyal  Philadelphia. 

Ten  years  after  Revells'  retirement  from  the  Senate  I  visited 
the  capital  of  Mississippi,  and  there  met  the  late  Senator  George, 
who  was  then  Senator-elect,  with  the  Governor  of  the  State  and 
a  number  of  other  prominent  officials.  I  was  equally  surprised 
and  gratified  to  hear  from  them  that  ex-Senator  Revells  was 
doing  a  great  work  in  Mississippi  as  president  of  a  college  for 
colored  students,  and  that  he  was  very  highly  respected,  and 
his  work  was  so  well  appreciated  that  the  State  of  Jefferson 
Davis,  who  was  then  living,  contributed  annually  and  liberally 
to  maintain  the  institution.  Revells  continued  in  that  work 
until  his  death,  and  he  lived  to  see  Blanche  K.  Bruce,  of  his 
own  race,  represent  his  State  in  the  Senate,  with  half  a  dozen 
or  more  negro  Representatives  in  the  House.  Bruce  entered 
the  Senate  in  1875,  served  a  full  term,  and  afterward  was  made 
Register  of  the  Treasury.  He  had  a  more  rosy  pathway  than 
his  predecessor  in  the  Senate,  as  the  negro  was  no  longer 
shunned  as  a  pest  in  the  councils  of  the  nation.  Since  Bruce's 
retirement  in  1881  the  colored  race  has  been  without  representa- 
tion in  the  Senate. 

With  the  appearance  of  Revells  in  the  Senate  came  two  negro 
Representatives — Joseph  R.  Rainey,  of  South  Carolina,  who 
was  admitted  without  question,  and  Jefferson  F.  Long,  of 
Georgia,  who  filled  an  unexpired  term  of  little  more  than  a 
month,  and  who  was  the  only  negro  ever  chosen  to  either  branch 
of  Congress  in  that  State.  From  the  time  of  the  appearance  of 
Rainey  in  the  Forty-first  Congress  the  negro  has  served  in  one 
or  both  branches  until  the  close  of  the  last  Congress,  with  the 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  255 

single  exception  of  the  Fiftieth  Congress,  when  it  happened  that 
the  colored  race  was  without  representation. 

South  Carolina  had  the  most  brilliant  galaxy  of  colored  lead- 
ers of  any  State  in  the  South,  and  the  negro  never  had  such 
opportunities  to  prove  his  ability  to  exercise  high  official  author- 
ity and  to  vindicate  his  race.  I  spent  part  of  the  winter  of  1870 
in  Columbia,  the  capital  of  the  State,  for  the  purpose  of  com- 
pleting an  air  railway  line  to  the  South,  and  I  was  brought  into 
very  close  connection  with  the  authorities  of  the  State.  The 
Governor  was  a  weak  white  man — weak  in  intellect,  more  than 
weak  in  integrity  and  the  plaything  of  a  coterie  of  spoilsmen. 
Cardosa,  a  highly-educated  negro,  and  long  a  minister  in  Mas- 
sachusetts, was  treasurer  of  the  State,  and  certainly  he  meant  to 
use  all  his  efforts  to  maintain  a  thoroughly  creditable  adminis- 
tration, but  he  had  little  encouragement  from  either  the  whites 
or  the  blacks  around  him.  Of  all  the  white  State  officials  Secre- 
tary Chamberlain,  afterward  Governor,  was  the  only  one  who 
seemed  to  appreciate  the  opportunity  and  the  duty  to  restore  a 
great  commonwealth  to  some  measure  of  prosperity.  With  Car- 
dosa were  Rainey  and  Smalls  and  Nash  and  Elliott  and  Purves, 
who  bore  an  honored  Philadelphia  name,  and  Whipper,  and 
Wright,  then  a  Supreme  Judge,  and  Delaney  and  Boseman.  I 
met  them  frequently,  and  several  times  in  general  conference, 
for  every  interest  with  which  I  was  identified  would  be  aided  or 
hindered  by  good  or  bad  local  government. 

This  circle  of  negro  leaders  possessed  an  unusual  measure  of 
intellectual  force.  Cardosa  was  thoroughly  cultured;  Rainey 
served  longer  in  Congress  than  any  other  negro  of  our  history, 
and  maintained  himself  creditably  in  point  of  ability;  Elliott 
was  the  most  brilliant  of  all,  and  later  startled  the  country  by 
his  reply  to  Stephens,  ex-Vice-President  of  the  Confederacy,  on 
the  floor  of  the  House,  and  proved  himself  a  foeman  worthy  of 
the  steel  of  the  able  Southern  leader;  Delaney  won  college 
honors  in  Ohio,  and  boldly  struggled  for  honest  government 
until  the  last  hope  perished,  and  Boseman,  who  wanted  to  make 
a  creditable  record  for  his  race,  finally  gave  up  the  battle  and 
nestled  down  as  postmaster  of  Charleston.  True,  the  environ- 
ment of  these  negro  leaders  gave  little  encouragement  to  those 
who  sought  to  make  the  government  of  South  Carolina  distin- 
guished as  an  illustration  of  the  ability  and  integrity  of  a  negro 


COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

ruler.  All  of  them  were  impoverished,  and  they  soon  saw  only 
profligacy  and  demoralization  around  them  on  every  side.  One 
by  one  they  faltered  and  fell,  with  very  rare  exceptions,  and  to- 
day four  of  them  are  convicts  in  the  criminal  records  of  the 
State,  convicted  in  their  own  courts  and  by  negro  juries,  and 
some  of  them  are  holding  department  offices  in  Washington. 
They  escaped  sentence  by  the  peace  made  in  1877,  when  the 
Federal  authorities  had  a  number  of  South  Carolinians  con- 
victed as  Kuklux  marauders,  and  one  of  the  United  States  Sen- 
ators from  the  State  was  a  fugitive  from  justice.  An  unwritten 
compact  was  made  that  the  Kuklux  convicts  and  the  criminals 
convicted  in  the  State  courts  should  not  be  called  for  sentence, 
and  that  General  Butler,  the  representative  of  the  Hampton 
government,  whose  election  to  the  Senate  was  then  contested, 
should  be  admitted  to  the  Senate.  Such  in  brief  is  the  story  of 
negro  opportunity  and  negro  failure  in  South  Carolina. 

Three  of  these  South  Carolina  negroes  were  elected  and 
promptly  admitted  to  the  Forty-second  Congress,  viz.:  Rainey, 
Elliott  and  De  Large.  Rainey  served  five  terms  in  Congress, 
and  Elliott,  when  in  his  second  term,  resigned  his  seat  to  accept 
a  more  lucrative  local  office.  In  1873  John  R.  Lynch,  another 
prominent  negro,  appeared  as  a  member  of  Congress  from  Mis- 
sissippi, and  was  one  of  seven  negroes  in  that  body.  He  was 
elected  for  three  consecutive  terms,  and  I  saw  the  rapidly  grow- 
ing tolerance  of  the  Republican  leaders  for  negro  political  fel- 
lowship very  impressively  portrayed  at  the  Chicago  Republican 
National  Convention  in  1884.  When  the  chairman  of  the  Na- 
tional Committee  called  the  body  to  order,  one  of  the  youngest 
members  of  the  convention  rose,  and  in  a  speech  of  singular 
elegance  and  force  nominated  Representative  Lynch  as  tem- 
porary chairman.  In  presenting  this  nomination  the  young 
orator  said  that  it  was  "a  fitting  thing  for  us  to  choose  to  pre- 
side over  the  convention  one  of  that  race  whose  right  to  sit 
within  these  walls  is  due  to  the  blood  and  treasure  so  lavishly 
spent  by  the  founders  of  the  Republican  party."  Mr.  Lynch 
was  promptly  and  unanimously  elected,  and  the  young  orator 
who  thus  presented  the  first  negro  to  preside  over  a  national 
convention,  and  the  only  one  of  his  race  who  has  ever  been  in 
charge  of  such  a  body,  was  Theodore  Roosevelt,  now  President 
of  the  United  States. 


O     m 

m 

30 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  257 

The  Forty-fourth  Congress  brought  two  negroes  into  the 
House  who  became  conspicuous  in  the  political  movements  of 
their  party.  They  were  Jerry  Haroldson,  of  Alabama,  and 
Robert  Smalls,  of  South  Carolina.  Haroldson's  service  was 
brief,  but  he  was  long  a  potent  political  factor  in  his  State,  and 
gained  thrift  by  his  shrewd  and  always  close  dealings  in  the  sale 
of  delegations  from  his  State  in  national  conventions.  Smalls 
served  six  years  in 'Congress,  and  attracted  much  attention  be- 
cause of  his  heroic  act  in  the  early  part  of  the  war,  when  he  took 
his  family  in  a  boat,  and  sailed  out  of  Charleston  harbor  to  join 
our  blockading  fleet,  after  which  he  rendered  very  important 
service  to  the  Union  cause.  He  was  one  of  the  Sea  Island  slaves 
of  South  Carolina,  and  very  illiterate.  He  took  no  part  in  Con- 
gressional debate,  but  was  an  active,  energetic  and  in  some 
degree  an  influential  member.  He  was  one  of  the  prominent 
negro  leaders  of  the  State  who  made  a  sad  record  in  the  crim- 
inal courts,  but  was  saved  with  others  by  the  universal  amnesty 
of  1877,  and  has  since  been  rewarded  with  important  Federal 
positions  in  his  State. 

When  Congress  met  in  1879  the  entire  negro  representation 
in  the  House  had  been  effaced,  and  Senator  Bruce  alone  repre- 
sented his  race  in  the  national  councils.  In  the  succeeding  Con- 
gress Smalls  and  Lynch  reappeared  as  Representatives,  and  in 
the  following  Congress  James  D.  O'Harra,  Representative  from 
North  Carolina,  was  the  only  negro  in  either  branch  of  the 
national  legislature.  He  was  defeated  for  re-election  to  the 
Fiftieth  Congress,  and  no  negro  was  elected  in  either  House  or 
Senate  from  any  other  State,  thus  leaving  that  Congress  without 
a  single  negro  representative  in  either  branch.  In  the  Fifty- 
first  Congress  the  negro  appeared  again  in  Representative  John 
M.  Langston,  of  Virginia ;  Thomas  E.  Miller,  of  South  Carolina, 
and  Henry  C.  Cheatham,  of  North  Carolina.  In  the  Fifty- 
second  Congress  Cheatham  was  the  sole  representative  of  his 
race,  as  was  George  W.  Murray,  of  South  Carolina,  in  the  Fifty- 
third  and  Fifty-fourth  Congresses,  and  George  H.  White,  of 
North  Carolina,  served  alone  of  his  race  in  the  Fifty-fifth  and 
Fifty- sixth.  Thus  ended  the  record  of  the  negro  as  a  national 
legislator. 

The  negro  is  at  present  retired  from  high  official  position. 
Will  that  retirement  be  permanent?  I  see  nothing  in  the  present 


258  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

political  conditions  to  warrant  the  hope  that  the  negro  will  at 
any  time  in  the  near  future  become  a  political  factor  in  national 
affairs.  He  is  practically  disfranchised  in  all  of  the  Southern 
States,  where  his  numerical  power  would  give  him  political  con- 
trol, and  he  has  made  no  progress  in  political  advancement  in 
any  of  the  Northern  States,  strongly  and  radically  Republican 
as  many  of  them  are.  As  a  rule,  the  enfranchisement  of  the 
negro  has  not  elevated  him  or  inspired  him  to  the  great  work  of 
educating  and  ennobling  the  race.  There  are  very  many  most 
creditable  exceptions,  but  the  great  mass  of  the  colored  vote  in 
our  Northern  cities  is  a  mere  commercial  commodity,  and  that 
has  made  the  elevation  of  cultured  and  highly-respected  negroes 
to  honored  political  positions  next  to  impossible.  If  this  dis- 
creditable condition  was  confined  to  the  black  race  it  would  be 
an  ineffaceable  reproach  upon  the  negro,  but  it  is  only  just  to 
say  that  in  his  debauchery  of  the  sacred  elective  franchise  the 
black  man  is  only  an  imitator  of  his  white  political  associates. 
From  the  present  outlook  it  seems  to  be  clearly  indicated  that 
the  mission  of  the  negro  is  ended  as  a  political  factor  in  high 
official  trust, 


ROBERT  E.  LEE,  ONE  OF  THE  GREAT 
COMMANDERS  OF  THE  CENTURY. 

For  a  year  or  more  before  our  civil  war  the  citizens  of  and 
visitors  in  Washington  were  often  attracted  by  a  solitary  horse- 
man on  the  streets  of  the  capital.  He  was  known  as  one  of  the 
handsomest  of  our  prominent  men,  rode  with  superb  grace  and 
was  as  modest  and  unassuming  in  manner  as  he  was  elegant  in 
form  and  action.  This  man  was  Robert  E.  Lee,  then  Lieuten- 
ant-Colonel of  the  Second  Regiment  of  Cavalry,  who,  after  hav- 
ing served  with  his  regiment  in  Texas  for  a  considerable  period, 
was  called  to  Washington  in  1859  to  join  the  staff  of  General 
Winfield  Scott.  It  was  his  usual  custom  to  ride  on  horseback 
from  his  magnificent  estate  and  palatial  mansion,  known  as 
Arlington,  on  the  southern  side  of  the  Potomac,  to  the  head- 
quarters of  the  army,  and  return  in  the  evening.  That  he  at- 
tracted attention  on  the  streets  of  the  capital  was  not  a  source 
of  gratification  to  him,  as  he  was  one  of  the  most  unpretentious 
of  gentlemen,  and  he  rarely  rode  through  the  great  thorough- 
fares. 

Lee  was  then  regarded  as  the  most  accomplished  of  the 
younger  soldiers  of  the  United  States  army.  He  was  a  man 
of  exquisite  form  and  feature,  in  the  full  vigor  of  manhood,  had 
won  promotion  in  Mexico  on  several  battlefields,  and  when  the 
fearful  storm  of  civil  war  broke  upon  the  country  the  convic- 
tion was  universal  among  those  responsibly  connected  with  the 
army  that  Colonel  Lee  was  the  best-equipped  of  all  our  many 
gallant  soldiers  to  command  the  Union  army.  Within  two 
weeks  after  the  inauguration  of  Lincoln  he  promoted  Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Lee  to  the  position  of  Colonel  of  the  First  Cav- 
alry. He  was  not  only  a  thoroughly  educated  and  experienced 
soldier,  but  he  was  pronounced  by  Nicolay  and  Hay  in  the 
"Life  of  Lincoln"  as  a  man  "of  fine  presence,  ripe  judgment  and 
mature  manhood."  It  was  an  open  secret  before  war  was  pre- 
cipitated by  the  firing  upon  Sumter  that  Colonel  Lee  would  be 

(259) 


260  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

assigned  to  the  command  of  the  Union  army  in  the  field  when 
war  came,  which  was  then  accepted  as  inevitable.  He  was  known 
to  be  opposed  to  secession,  and  he  did  not  conceal  his  views  on 
the  subject.  A  few  weeks  before  his  resignation  from  the  army 
he  wrote  to  his  oldest  son,  George  Washington  Custis  Lee,  a 
graduate  of  West  Point  and  major  in  the  army:  "Secession  is 
nothing  but  revolution.  The  framers  of  our  Constitution  never 
exhausted  so  much  labor,  wisdom  and  forbearance  in  its  forma- 
tion and  surrounded  it  with  so  many  guards  and  securities  if  it 
was  intended  to  be  broken  by  every  member  of  the  Confederacy 
at  will."  But,  while  Lee  was  very  earnestly  opposed  to  seces- 
sion, he  had  been  educated  in  support  of  the  doctrine  of  the 
sovereignty  of  the  State  and  of  the  obedience  of  the  citizen  to 
the  State  as  paramount  to  obedience  to  the  national  Govern- 
ment. 

I  was  personally  and  somewhat  intimately  acquainted  with 
General  Cameron,  Secretary  of  War,  and  with  Colonel  Scott, 
his  Assistant  Secretary,  and  saw  them  very  often  when  the  dark 
clouds  of  fraternal  conflict  were  gathering  over  us.  They  knew 
that  General  Scott  was  past  usefulness  as  an  active  commander; 
they  were  entirely  confident  that  Colonel  Lee  would  remain  in 
the  Union  army  with  General  Scott,  and  they  believed  that  they 
had  the  best-equipped  commander  of  the  entire  army  to  place 
at  the  head  of  the  Union  forces  in  the  field. 

After  the  bombardment  of  Sumter  the  elder  Francis  P.  Blair 
was  chosen  by  the  President  and  Secretary  of  War  to  have  a 
personal  conference  with  Colonel  Lee,  and  to  give  him  a  formal 
offer  of  the  command  of  the  Union  troops.  Virginia,  his  native 
State,  had  not  then  seceded.  On  the  contrary,  the  convention 
had  voted  against  secession.  There  are  conflicting  reports  as  to 
the  precise  language  used  by  Colonel  Lee  in  answer  to  Blair's 
proffer  of  the  command  of  the  army.  General  Cameron,  in  a 
debate  in  the  Senate  in  1868,  stated  that  his  understanding  was 
that  Lee  had  verbally  accepted,  but  Montgomery  Blair  in  a 
communication  published  in  the  National  Intelligencer,  August 
9,  1866,  when  the  elder  Blair  was  still  living,  gave  Lee's  answer 
to  his  father  in  these  words:  "Mr.  Blair,  I  look  upon  secession 
as  anarchy.  If  I  owned  the  four  millions  of  slaves  of  the  South 
I  would  sacrifice  them  all  to  the  Union,  but  how  can  I  draw  my 
sword  upon  Virginia,  my  native  State?"  According  to  this 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  261 

report  Lee  left  the  question  open  for  further  conference  with 
General  Scott.  On  the  25th  of  February,  1868,  Lee  wrote  to 
Reverdy  Johnson  on  the  controversy  as  to  whether  he  had 
agreed  to  accept  the  Union  command.  In  this  letter  he  denied 
that  he  had  ever  intimated  to  any  one  that  he  desired  such  a 
command,  and  said:  "I  declined  the  offer  he  (Mr.  Blair)  made  to 
me  to  take  the  command  of  the  army  that  was  to  be  brought 
into  the  field,  stating  as  candidly  and  as  courteously  as  I  could 
that,  though  opposed  to  secession  and  deprecating  war,  I  could 
take  no  part  in  an  invasion  of  the  Southern  States." 

It  seems  to  be  well  established  that  Lee  considered  the  ques- 
tion of  accepting  the  command  of  the  Union  army  until  Vir- 
ginia seceded  and  joined  the  Confederacy.  When  Lee  returned 
to  Arlington  on  the  evening  of  the  iQth  of  April  he  received 
information  of  the  secession  of  Virginia,  that  had  been  secretly 
adopted  on  the  I7th,  and  the  following  morning  he  sent  his 
resignation  to  General  Scott  in  a  letter  as  follows: 

ARLINGTON,  April  20,  1861. 

GENERAL  : — Since  my  interview  with  you  on  the  i8th  inst.,  I  have  felt  that 
I  ought  not  longer  to  retain  my  commission  in  the  army.  I  therefore  tender 
my  resignation,  which  I  request  you  will  recommend  for  acceptance.  It 
would  have  been  presented  at  once,  but  for  the  struggle  it  has  cost  me  to 
separate  myself  from  a  service  to  which  I  have  devoted  all  the  best  years 
of  my  life,  and  all  the  ability  I  possess.  .  .  .  Save  in  defence  of  my 
native  State,  I  never  desire  again  to  draw  my  sword. 

R.  E.  LEE. 

One  feature  of  the  military  record  of  General  Lee  I  have  never 
seen  discussed  in  any  of  the  histories  of  the  war.  Lee  on  more 
than  one  occasion  declared  his  purpose  never  to  draw  his  sword 
except  in  defence  of  the  State  whose  sovereignty  he  regarded 
as  paramount.  On  the  22d  of  April  he  left  his  beautiful  home 
in  Arlington,  never  to  return  to  it,  and  on  the  following  day  he 
was  appointed  by  the  State  authorities  Major-General,  with 
chief  command  of  the  Virginia  State  forces.  He  did  not  enter 
the  military  service  of  the  Confederacy,  but  remained  in  com- 
mand of  the  State  forces  until  the  Confederate  capital  was  moved 
to  Richmond,  and  the  State  forces  were  incorporated  into  the 
Southern  army.  He  conducted  a  campaign  in  the  western  part 
of  Virginia  without  important  achievement,  and  he  was  called 
to  Richmond  by  President  Davis  as  chief  military  officer  and 
adviser  in  the  Confederate  capital. 


262  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

It  was  not  by  accident,  nor  by  any  desire  of  President  Davis 
to  keep  so  accomplished  an  officer  as  General  Lee  from  active 
service  in  the  field,  that  General  Lee  was  detained  in  Richmond. 
It  was  well  known  that  Lee's  purpose  was  not  to  engage  in  any 
war  beyond  the  defence  of  his  native  State,  and  I  have  good 
reason  to  believe  that  he  refused  active  service  in  the  field  be- 
cause it  might  require  him  to  go  beyond  the  lines  of  his  State. 
His  oldest  son,  General  G.  W.  Custis  Lee,  who  had  resigned 
from  the  army  with  his  father,  was  equally  positive  in  his  declar- 
ation not  to  be  engaged  in  any  war  except  in  defence  of  Vir- 
ginia, and  for  that  reason  he  was  not  in  field  duty.  Both  of 
them  were  accomplished  soldiers,  and  admirably  fitted  for  field 
service,  but  they  were  men  of  the  highest  measure  of  conscien- 
tiousness, and  held  that  they  could  not  consistently  engage  in  a 
war  against  the  Government  whose  service  they  had  accepted, 
save  in  defence  of  the  sovereignty  of  their  commonwealth. 

General  Custis  Lee  took  little  part  in  field  warfare  during 
the  entire  struggle,  and  his  father  was  brought  to  the  command 
of  the  army  of  Northern  Virginia  by  General  Joseph  E.  Johnson 
being  disabled  at  the  first  important  battle  fought  before  Rich- 
mond. Lee  was  then  assigned  to  the  command  of  the  army 
until  Johnson  should  be  able  to  resume,  and  after  the  Seven 
Days'  battle,  resulting  in  the  defeat  of  McClellan  and  raising  the 
siege  of  Richmond,  Lee's  ability  as  a  commander  was  pointedly 
exemplified  by  his  prompt  movement  to  strike  General  Pope 
before  McClellan's  army  could  be  united  with  it.  That  cam- 
paign was  one  of  the  best  conceived  and  most  brilliant  of  all 
Lee's  movements,  resulting  in  the  defeat  of  Pope  at  the  second 
Bull  Run,  and  forcing  the  two  Union  armies  of  McClellan  and 
Pope,  finally  into  the  intrenchments  at  Washington. 

Then  for  the  first  time  the  question  of  Lee  confining  his  efforts 
strictly  to  the  defence  of  his  State  became  a  vital  one,  and  he 
was  compelled  to  choose  between  giving  up  the  command  of 
the  Confederate  army  and  suffering  the  execrations  of  his  peo- 
ple, or  leading  it  into  Maryland.  The  movement  into  Maryland 
was  not  accepted  as  a  wise  strategic  movement  from  a  military 
standpoint,  but  it  was  dictated  by  the  general  belief  in  the  South 
that  the  invasion  of  Maryland  by  Lee's  army  would  arouse  the 
people  of  that  State  to  join  the  secession  movement,  and  for  that 
reason,  and  that  only,  Lee  crossed  the  Potomac  in  1862.  He  did 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  263 

not  enter  Maryland  to  make  war  on  the  people  of  that  State, 
but  he  hoped  by  that  movement  to  give  Maryland  an  oppor- 
tunity to  assert  herself  as  a  State  of  the  Confederacy,  believing 
that  the  people  of  Maryland  desired  to  do  so.  In  that  Lee  dis- 
covered that  he  was  mistaken,  and  he  fought  the  battle  of 
Antietam  because  it  was  necessary  to  reunite  his  army  after 
Jackson's  movement  to  capture  Harper's  Ferry,  to  enable  him 
to  return  to  Virginia  in  safety.  He  occupied  a  strong  position 
at  Antietam,  from  which  McClellan,  with  an  army  outnumbering 
Lee's  by  one-third,  had  failed  to  dislodge  him.  One  of  the 
bloodiest  battles  of  the  war  was  there  fought,  resulting  in  a  des- 
perate struggle  from  6  o'clock  in  the  morning  until  sunset,  each 
army  holding  its  position.  Lee  waited  a  day  after  the  battle  for 
McClellan  to  renew  the  attack,  and  finding  that  he  could  move 
with  safety,  he  left  his  position  during  the  night  and  crossed  the 
Potomac  into  Virginia. 

I  never  saw  General  Lee  during  the  war  or  after  the  war,  and 
I  have  always  regretted  that  I  did  not  avail  myself  of  the  many 
opportunities  I  had  to  visit  him  after  the  war  in  his  modest  home 
in  the  beautiful  village  of  Lexington,  which  nestles  in  the 
mountains  of  Virginia.  I  saw  him  frequently  in  Washington 
before  the  war,  but  never  had  opportunity  to  have  any  extended 
conversation  with  him.  He  was  a  gentleman  of  most  agreeable 
and  genial  manner,  always  dignified  and  courteous,  and  scrupu- 
lously avoided  the  appearance  of  ostentation.  There  have  been 
many  criticisms  of  some  of  his  military  movements  and  of  his 
qualities  as  a  military  chieftain,  but  it  may  now  be  accepted 
that  the  name  of  Robert  E.  Lee  is  crystallized  in  the  history  of 
the  country  and  of  the  world  as  one  of  the  few  great  com- 
manders of  his  century.  His  character  may  be  summed  up  in  a 
vsingle  sentence,  defining  him  as  an  accomplished  soldier  and  a 
Christian  gentleman,  for  he  filled  every  measure  of  both  great 
attributes.  Like  all  great  commanders  of  this  century,  with 
probably  the  single  exception  of  Napoleon,  there  were  limita- 
tions upon  his  capabilities.  Napoleon  was  equal  to  any  con- 
dition of  war,  aggressive  or  defensive,  or  strategically  defensive 
and  tactically  aggressive,  but  in  that  supreme  quality  he  stands 
alone.  All  of  the  great  commanders  of  that  period  were  noted 
for  their  aggressive  or  for  their  defensive  qualities.  Grant  was 
pre-eminently  distinguished  as  an  aggressive  warrior;  McClel- 


264  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

Ian  was  pre-eminently  distinguished  as  a  defensive  warrior. 
Grant  always  fought  when  he  should  have  fought,  and  some- 
times when  he  should  not  have  fought.  McClellan  gave  the 
most  sublime  illustration  of  his  great  qualities  as  a  defensive 
general  in  th'e  Seven  Days'  battles,  but  he  never  assumed  the 
aggressive  in  a  single  great  action,  excepting  at  Antietam,  and 
then  he  should  have  fought  one  day  earlier,  when  one-third  of 
Lee's  army  was  engaged  at  Harper's  Ferry. 

General  Lee  may  be  classed  as  among  the  great  defensive 
generals  of  his  time.  He  was  never  defeated  in  any  of  his  many 
battles  fought  on  the  defensive  until  his  army  was  disintegrated 
and  weakened  by  death  and  desertion  and  lack  of  supplies,  when 
Grant  broke  his  lines  at  Petersburg  and  forced  his  retreat  for 
the  final  climax  at  Appomattox.  He  was  much  the  type  of  Mc- 
Clellan as  a  commander,  differing  only  in  his  frequent  unex- 
pected attacks  upon  the  Union  forces.  While  strategically  de- 
fensive he  was  always  a  dangerous  soldier  in  his  tactically  ag- 
gressive movements.  He  will  be  accepted  in  history  as  not  only 
the  greatest  of  the  Confederate  commanders,  but  as  the  one  mili- 
tary chieftain  who  could  have  filled  the  military  necessities  of 
the  Confederacy. 

In  but  one  battle  of  the  war  were  his  limitations  exhibited,  and 
that  was  at  Gettysburg.  It  was  the  first  campaign  in  which  he 
was  compelled  to  be  both  strategically  and  tactically  aggressive, 
and  his  great  opportunity  was  lost  the  first  day  of  the  battle, 
when  he  failed  to  dislodge  the  shattered  Union  forces  from 
Cemetery  Hill  and  take  possession  of  Round  Top  and  Gulp's 
Hill.  That  failure  enabled  the  Union  army  to  concentrate  in 
the  strongest  defensive  position  to  be  found  anywhere  between 
Williamsport  and  Washington,  on  a  short  and  almost  impreg- 
nable line,  while  Lee's  line  of  battle  was  thrice  as  long. 

It  has  always  been  a  surprise  to  those  who  closely  studied 
the  character  of  General  Lee  that  he  insisted  upon  Pickett's 
bloody  and  disastrous  charge,  even  against  the  earnest  protest 
of  Longstreet.  I  do  not  assume  to  say  what  Lee  should  have 
done  at  Gettysburg  after  his  failure  to  take  possession  practically 
of  both  positions  on  the  evening  of  the  first  day.  He  has  been 
severely  criticised  by  some  of  his  own  Southern  friends,  espe- 
cially by  General  Longstreet,  by  whom  some  personal  resent- 
ment is  clearly  exhibited;  but  it  is  now  an  accepted  historic  fact 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.          265 

that  the  Gettysburg  campaign  was  a  blunder,  and  that  the  fail- 
ure of  Lee  to  take  possession  of  the  whole  field  on  the  first  day 
led  to  the  decisive  battle  of  the  war,  in  which  the  fate  of  the 
Confederacy  was  irrevocably  sealed. 

It  is  easy  to  criticise  a  commander  after  a  battle  has  been 
fought  and  all  the  opportunities  known  to  the  critics,  many  of 
which  were  not  known  to  the  commanders  at  the  time,  and  there 
was  nothing  in  the  Gettysburg  campaign,  disastrous  as  it  was, 
that  dimmed  the  lustre  of  Lee's  greatness  as  a  military  chief- 
tain, or  that  impaired  in  any  degree  the  confidence  of  the  Con- 
federate Government  and  the  Southern  people.  He  was  as  much 
their  idol  when,  with  his  defeated  and  broken  legions,  he  re- 
crossed  into  Virginia  as  he  was  when  he  marched  with  the 
greatest  army  the  Confederacy  ever  knew  to  a  defeat  that  was 
decisive  of  the  fraternal  conflict. 

I  assume  that  General  Lee  has  never  received  full  justice  in 
regard  to  the  Gettysburg  campaign.  If  he  had  been  permitted 
to  exercise  his  own  judgment,  even  with  all  the  military  and 
political  consideration  which  seemed  to  favor  it,  the  Gettysburg 
campaign  would  have  been  unknown  in  the  conflict.  In  a  con- 
versation with  Jefferson  Davis  some  ten  years  after  the  war  at 
his  home,  in  Mississippi,  he  spoke  very  frankly  on  several  ques- 
tions relating  to  the  war  which  were  in  dispute.  I  inquired  of 
him  why  the  Gettysburg  campaign  was  determined  upon; 
whether  it  was  dictated  by  military  or  political  considerations. 
His  reply  was  somewhat  evasive,  but  he  said  that  it  certainly 
would  not  have  been  undertaken  if  it  had  not  been  believed  to 
be  a  wise  military  movement.  I  asked  him  whether  it  was 
General  Lee's  proposal,  or  whether  he  advised  it.  His  answer 
was  again  evasive,  as  he  said  that  it  would  not  have  been  at- 
tempted without  General  Lee's  assent. 

I  was  led  to  believe  by  Davis'  explanation  that  Lee  did  not 
approve  of  assuming  the  aggressive  strategically,  which  might 
compel  him  to  accept  perilous  aggressive  tactical  movements. 
He  was  naturally  averse  to  going  into  the  enemy's  country, 
thereby  weakening  his  lines  to  fight  a  superior  force,  but  strong 
political  necessities  dictated  it,  and  it  was  believed  that  the 
largest  army  the  Confederacy  ever  had,  with  Lee  as  its  com- 
mander, could  again  defeat  the  Army  of  the  Potomac  in  an 
open-field  engagement,  and  thereby  strengthen  the  opposition 


266  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

to  the  war  in  the  North  and  reinspire  the  South  to  renewed 
vigor  in  support  of  the  Confederacy.  The  Army  of  the  Potomac 
had  been  defeated  under  Hooker  but  a  few  months  before  at 
Chancellorsville,  and  it  was  known  to  be  greatly  demoralized. 
General  Meade  succeeded  to  the  command  only  three  days  be- 
fore the  battle  of  Gettysburg,  and  he  well  knew  that  his  army 
lacked  concentration  and  was  discouraged  by  an  unbroken  line  of 
defeats;  but  when  that  army  was  called  to  defend  Northern  soil 
from  Confederate  invasion  its  earnestness  of  purpose  was 
exhibited  not  only  by  every  officer,  but  by  every  soldier  of  its 
ranks.  It  was  a  more  dangerous  foe  on  the  field  of  Gettysburg 
than  ever  it  had  been  in  Virginia,  and,  so  far  from  strengthening 
the  anti-war  sentiment  of  the  North,  the  Gettysburg  invasion 
aroused  the  North  to  overwhelming  efforts  to  prosecute  the 
war  until  the  rebellion  was  overthrown. 

Lee  thus  marched  to  and  fought  at  Gettysburg,  and  was 
finally  compelled  to  choose  between  retreat  or  the  fatal  charge 
he  ordered  to  be  made  by  Pickett.  His  superior  military  judg- 
ment and  experience  may  be  accepted  against  the  advice  of 
Longstreet,  that  Lee  should  move  around  the  left  flank  of  the 
Union  army  and  force  it  to  abandon  its  strong  position.  It 
is  just  such  a  movement  as  Lee  would  have  made  had  he 
believed  it  possible  to  accomplish  it,  for  in  all  the  many  trials 
during  the  civil  war  he  was  equal  to  every  emergency  when 
opportunity  offered  for  a  movement  to  his  own  advantage. 
What  he  did  at  Gettysburg  on  the  3d  of  July  may  be  regarded  as 
the  wisest  action  that  could  be  taken,  and  his  error  on  the  first 
day  was  doubtless  dictated  by  the  apprehension  that  the  full 
force  of  the  Union  army  was  within  easy  reach  of  Cemetery  Hill, 
while  Longstreet  had  not  yet  reached  Gettysburg. 

Considering  the  military  conditions  and  necessities  which 
environed  Lee,  no  commander  of  his  century  accomplished  more 
with  the  same  resources,  and  the  single  criticism  of  his  military 
career  relates  to  Gettysburg,  a  campaign  that  was  conceived 
and  executed  against  his  military  policy.  Of  all  the  defensive 
generals  of  modern  times  he  was  the  greatest  and  the  most 
dangerous.  While  on  the  defensive  the  Union  army  was  never 
safe  from  an  unexpected  and  terrible  blow,  and  every  campaign 
that  he  planned,  and  every  battle  that  he  fought  from  his  own 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.         267 

standpoint,  must  stand  in  history  as  faultless  in  conception  and 
execution. 

The  most  heroic  military  movement  of  the  war  was  his 
separation  of  his  army  when  confronted  by  Hooker  at  Chan- 
cellorsville,  by  sending  Jackson  to  turn  the  right  wing  of  the 
Union  army,  which  was  up  in  the  air,  resulting  in  the  disgrace- 
ful defeat  of  an  army  that  doubled  the  numbers  of  the  Confed- 
erates; and  his  attacks  upon  Grant  in  the  wilderness  would  have 
made  him  victor  of  the  campaign  but  for  Grant's  ability  to  fill 
the  places  of  his  dead  and  wounded.  It  is  an  impressive  com- 
mentary upon  the  generalship  of  the  two  great  commanders  of 
that  conflict  that  Grant  lost  more  men  in  killed  and  wounded 
and  missing  between  the  Rapidan  and  the  James  than  Lee  had 
to  oppose  him. 

General  Lee  was  one  of  the  gentlest  of  men.  He  was  the  one 
eminent  Southern  man  during  our  civil  war  who  uniformly 
taught,  alike  by  precept  and  example,  as  Lincoln  taught  in  the 
North,  "with  malice  toward  none;  with  charity  for  all."  Lee, 
like  Lincoln,  never  utterecl  a  single  sentence  of  resentment 
against  the  opposing  section.  When  he  was  finally  brought  to 
the  surrender  at  Appomattox  he  appeared  before  Grant  in  his 
best  uniform,  with  his  finest  sword  at  his  side,  ready  to  perform 
his  last  sad  duty  for  his  cause  with  all  the  dignity  of  a  soldier 
and  a  gentleman.  Grant  was  in  fatigue  uniform  and  without 
his  sword,  which  at  once  indicated  to  Lee  that  the  delivery  of  his 
sword  was  not  expected.  The  surrender  accomplished,  he  asked 
for  rations  for  his  few  famished  troops,  to  which  a  prompt  and 
generous  response  was  given,  and  the  Confederate  chieftain 
who  had  fought  for  his  cause  until  his  army  was  practically 
annihilated  quietly  retired  to  his  home  in  Richmond,  where  he 
refused  the  gift  of  a  house  and  lived  in  the  quietest  retirement. 

Soon  thereafter  he  accepted  the  presidency  of  the  Wash- 
ington and  Lee  University,  at  Lexington,  where  he  spent  the 
remaining  few  years  of  his  life  in  tireless  devotion  to  his  new 
duties,  and  where  he  was  worshiped  by  the  entire  community. 
Fifteen  years  after  his  death  I  was  the  guest  of  his  son,  General 
Custis  Lee,  who  had  succeeded  his  father  to  the  presidency  of 
the  University,  and  stood  in  front  of  the  recumbent  statue  over 
the  grave  of  Lee  in  the  college  hall,  while  delivering  the  com- 
mencement address.  His  room  in  the  college  building  remained 


268  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

then,  and  still  remains,  precisely  as  General  Lee  left  it,  includ- 
ing his  easy  shoes  in  the  corner,  and  little  scraps  of  paper  in 
and  about  his  desk  on  which  he  at  times  would  record  a  thought. 
He  was  only  twice  outside  of  his  State  after  the  war,  once  when 
he  was  summoned  to  Washington  to  be  examined  before  the 
committee  on  the  conduct  of  the  war.  He  came  in  the  quietest 
manner,  avoided  all  publicity  as  far  as  possible,  and  left  for 
his  mountain  home  as  soon  as  his  mission  was  ended.  He  was 
a  prisoner  on  parole  until  his  death  and  could  not  leave  his 
State  without  permission  from  the  war  department.  He  con- 
tinued to  perform  his  duties  as  president  of  the  University 
until  the  fall  of  1870,  when  he  was  stricken  with  paralysis,  and 
after  lingering  several  days  in  an  unconscious  condition  he 
died  on  the  I2th  of  October. 

The  South  had  many  heroes  who  called  out  the  deepest 
affections  of  the  Southern  people,  but  no  one  was  so  universally 
beloved  as  Robert  E.  Lee,  and  his  memory  will  ever  be  cherished 
by  them  as  that  of  the  ideal  hero  and  gentleman.  The  passions 
of  civil  war  are  now  almost  entirely  effaced,  and  I  sincerely 
hope  that  before  another  decade  shall  have  passed  there  will  be 
erected  on  Seminary  Hilf,  by  the  joint  appropriations  of  the 
States  of  Virginia  and  Pennsylvania,  an  equestrian  statue  of 
Lee  corresponding  with  the  statue  of  Meade  on  Cemetery  Hill, 


THOMAS  H.  BENTON,  THE  LEADER  IN 
WESTERN  PROGRESS. 

Few  of  the  present  age  have  anything  approaching  a  just  ap- 
preciation of  the  great  service  rendered  the  country  by  Thomas 
Hart  Bienton,  of  Missouri.  He  was  the  first  Senator  to  serve 
for  30  consecutive  years  in  the  highest  legislative  tribunal  of  the 
nation,  and  one  of  only  two  who  have  reached  that  distinction  in 
the  history  of  the  Republic.  Senator  Morrill,  of  Vermont,  died 
during  the  first  session  of  his  sixth  consecutive  term.  John 
Sherman  served  more  than  30  years,  but  not  continuously,  and 
Senator  Anthony,  of  Rhode  Island,  was  elected  to  his  sixth  con- 
secutive term,  but  died  before  entering  upon  it.  When  Benton 
retired  from  the  Senate,  in  1851,  he  was  the  only  Senator  who  at 
that  time  had  served  continuously  in  the  body  for  two-thirds  of 
the  same  period,  and  he  gave  to  the  country  a  most  valuable 
political  history  of  his  active  life  in  his  two  large  volumes  en- 
titled "Thirty  Years  in  the  United  States  Senate." 

The  matchless  progress  of  this  country  during  the  last  half 
century  seems  to  have  been  so  logical  and  inevitable  that  few  in- 
quire into  the  movements  of  the  public  men  who  half  a  century 
ago  tirelessly  labored  for  the  advancement  that  we  now  enjoy. 
Benton  became  active  in  public  affairs  soon  after  the  acquisition 
of  Louisiana,  in  1803,  although  quite  a  young  man,  and  settled 
in  Missouri  in  1815.  After  having  been  admitted  to  the  Bar 
and  serving  with  distinguished  credit  in  the  army  as  lieutenant 
colonel,  he  established  a  newspaper  in  Missouri  Territory,  called 
the  Missouri  Inquirer;  and  from  that  time  until  his  death  he 
was  the  foremost  man  of  all  our  great  statesmen  in  hastening 
the  development  of  the  West.  He  was  a  tireless  student,  and 
was  one  of  the  few  men  in  our  national  Congress  during  the 
whole  period  of  his  service  who  justly  appreciated  the  future  im- 
portance of  reaching  the  Pacific  and  the  mouth  of  the  Columbia, 
and  he  was  the  first  to  propose  postal  highways  across  the 

(269) 


270  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

mountains  and  plains  of  the  Far  West,  and  certainly  the  first  of 
all  our  public  men  to  advocate  a  transcontinental  railway. 

In  1820,  when  Missouri  was  admitted  into  the  Union  by  the 
adoption  of  the  memorable  Missouri  Compromise,  he  had  be- 
come a  national  factor  in  politics,  not  only  by  his  great  ability 
and  intimate  acquaintance  with  public  men,  but  by  the  influence 
of  his  newspaper,  which  discussed  the  interests  of  Missouri  and 
of  the  West  with  a  degree  of  intelligence  and  hopefulness  that 
greatly  impressed  the  political  powers  at  Washington.  It  was 
to  Benton  more  than  to  any  other  dozen  men  that  the  country 
was  indebted  for  the  Missouri  Compromise,  which  quieted 
slavery  agitation  when  the  country  seemed  to  be  on  the  very 
verge  of  civil  war;  and  so  highly  were  his  efforts  appreciated  by 
the  people  of  Missouri  that  when  the  first  Legislature  of  the 
State  met  he  was  chosen  one  of  the  United  States  Senators,  and 
was  continued  as  a  Senator  for  the  then  unexampled  period  of 
30  years.  Benton,  like  Jackson,  was  the  outgrowth  of  a  civiliza- 
tion that  has  long  since  perished.  He  was  born  in  North  Caro- 
lina on  the  I4th  of  March,  1782,  and  was.  fortunate  in  having 
umuisual  educational  advantages  for  that  day  during  his  early 
boyhood.  Before  he  had  reached  full  manhood  his  widowed 
mother  located  in  a  wilderness  some  25  miles  from  Nashville, 
where  her  husband  had  owned  a  large  unimproved  estate.  They 
were  practically  outside  the  pale  of  civilization,  but  the  family 
reared  their  home  and  opened  their  fields  in  the  forest. 
Thomas,  the  oldest  son,  devoted  his  spare  hours  to  study,  and 
was  admitted  to  the  Bar  in  Nashville  in  1811. 

The  civilization  of  the  Southwest  at  that  period  did  not  have 
its  counterpart  in  any  other  section  of  the  country.  "Hardness 
ever  of  hardiness  is  mother,"  and  the  rugged  men  who  grew  up 
in  the  wilderness  were  restless  and  aggressive,  and  the  horse 
race,  the  cock  fight,  the  duels,  street  fights  and  cards  were  the 
chief  amusements  in  which  they  indulged  with  great  freedom. 
It  was  not  uncommon  in  those  days  to  see  Jackson  and  the 
Bentons  and  their  rollicking  associates  take  their  fighting  cocks 
into  the  ring  under  their  arms,  and  on  one  occasion  Jackson 
and  Benton  had  a  street  fight  in  Nashville,  started  by  Jackson 
striking  Benton  in  the  face  with  a  horse  whip.  A  general  melee 
followed,  as  was  usual  in  such  cases,  and  Jackson  received  a 
pistol  ball  in  his  left  shoulder,  which  was  not  extracted  until 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  271 

near  the  close  of  his  Presidential  term,  and  Jesse  Benton,  a 
brother  of  Thomas,  received  several  severe  thrusts  from  a  sword 
cane.  Jackson  and  Benton  had  been  devoted  friends,  and  Benton 
had  served  as  aid  to  Jackson  in  the  army  in  several  successful  In- 
dian campaigns.  Jackson  accepted  the  position  of  second  to 
General  Carroll  when  he  fought  a  duel  against  Jesse  Benton, 
and  that  broke  up  the  strong  friendship  existing  between  Jack- 
son and  Benton.  Their  estrangement  was  very  bitter,  and 
probably  would  have  resulted  in  a  fatal  encounter  at  one  time 
or  another  had  Benton  not  soon  thereafter  removed  to  St.  Louis. 
Their  friendly  relations  were  later  re-established  when  both 
became  members,  of  the  United  States  Senate. 

Benton  differed  from  Jackson  in  the  fact  that  he  was  a  care- 
ful student,  with  better  educational  advantages.  He  was  the 
first  of  our  prominent  men  to  appreciate  the  wonderful  possibili- 
ties of  the  Far  West.  When  he  located  in  St.  Louis  it  was  a 
little  French  village  with  only  alley  streets  and  a  population  of 
the  most  primitive  character.  The  Missouri  Territory  then  em- 
braced all  of  the  Louisiana  purchase  excepting  Louisiana,  which 
had  been  organized  as  a  Territory  soon  after  the  purchase  from 
Napoleon,  with  Captain  Lewis,  one  of  the  first  explorers  of  the 
Rocky  Mountains,  as  Territorial  Governor,  and  his  associate, 
Lieutenant  Clarke,  who  was  made  Governor  of  Missouri  when 
that  Territory  was  organized.  The  geographical  magnitude  of 
the  Missouri  Territory  may  be  understood  when  it  is  stated 
that  it  embraced  what  are  now  the  States  of  Missouri,  Kansas, 
Nebraska,  Iowa,  Minnesota,  North  and  South  Dakota,  Mon- 
tana, Wyoming,  and  Colorado,  with  the  whole  Northwestern 
region  practically  an  unexplored  country.  The  only  reliable  in- 
formation to  be  had  about  it  came  from  the  report  of  Lewis  and 
Clarke,  and  they  could  furnish  little  intelligence  as  to  the  value 
of  the  acquisition  beyond  the  sources  of  its  chief  rivers,  with  the 
beautiful  valleys  and  bewildering  mountains  which  surround 
them. 

From  the  time  that  Benton  located  in  St.  Louis  he  became  the 
chief  source  of  information  as  to  the  resources  and  future  pros- 
pects of  this  comparatively  unknown  country.  He  was  an  en- 
thusiast in  estimating  its  future  greatness,  and  was  one  of  the 
earliest  and  most  'efficient  supporters  of  the  Mexican  war  for  the 
purpose  of  extending  our  territory  to  the  Pacific.  He  was  then 


272  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

the  leader  without  rival  among  the  rude  and  sparse  population 
of  Missouri,  for  even  St.  Louis  was  at  that  time  the  very  outer 
verge  of  civilization.  He  was  the  one  leading  Democrat  who 
had  not  assented  to  the  Democratic  platform  of  1844,  which  as- 
sumed to  settle  the  dispute  as  to  our  boundary  line  for  the 
British  possessions  by  demanding  to  extend  our  line  northward 
to  54  degrees  40  minutes.  The  slogan  of  the  Democrats  in  that 
campaign  was  "54-40,  or  fight ;"  but  after  Polk  had  been  elected 
and  the  boundary  question  assumed  serious  proportions,  Benton 
had  the  courage  to  advise  the  Administration  that  the  present 
line  should  be  accepted,  because  our  claim  could  not  be  main- 
tained beyond  it.  It  was  his  admitted  superior  knowledge  of 
that  country  and  its  boundaries,  and  his  careful  study  of  every- 
thing pertaining  to  it,  that  made  him  potential  in  forcing  the 
acceptance  of  the  present  boundary,  beyond  which  England 
would  not  have  acceded. 

Benton  came  to  Washington  as  a  Senator  five  years  after  he 
had  located  in  St.  Louis,  where  he  had  been  absolutely  supreme 
in  his  political  mastery.  He  was  able,  aggressive,  and  there 
was  none  to  dispute  his  sway.  With  the  rude  and  variegated 
population  that  he  had  made  subject  to  his  control,  it  was  doubt- 
less necessary  to  dominate  with  a  degree  of  arrogance  that  was 
not  accepted  under  different  conditions,  and  Benton  insensibly 
early  acquired  an  imperial  habit  that  greatly  weakened  him 
throughout  his  whole  career.  While  a  refined  and  courteous 
gentleman,  he  had  the  highest  measure  of  confidence  in  himself, 
was  proud  of  his  imposing  presence  and  his  superior  intelli- 
gence, and  even  in  his  best  days  in  the  Senate  he  was  pardoned 
by  his  best  friends  for  the  egotism  that  jarred  his  great  intel- 
lectual force.  He  had  studied  and  completely  mastered  the 
Spanish  language  to  enable  him  to  understand  the  many  com- 
plications which  arose  from  Spanish  grants  in  our  new  acquisi- 
tions, and  he  was  ceaseless  in  his  efforts  for  the  advancement  of 
what  was  then  regarded  as  an  immense  region  that  never  could 
be  of  practical  value  to  the  Government  or  people.  The  Rocky 
Mountains  were  considered  an  insuperable  barrier  to  inter- 
course between  the  Atlantic  and  Pacific,  and  where  now  we  see 
fruitful  fields  west  of  the  Mississippi  was  then  given  on  the 
school  maps  as  the  great  American  desert.  He  would  have 
startled  the  country  and  the  world  sixty  years  ago  when  he  de- 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  273 

clared  that  the  way  to  India  was  not  across  the  Atlantic  but 
across  the  Pacific,  had  his  declaration  not  been  regarded  as  that 
of  a  blind  and  unreasoning  enthusiast.  His  declaration  was: 
'There  is  the  East,  and  there  is  India;"  and  the  sentence  that 
was  then  jeered  as  the  utterance  of  a  dreamer  is  now  the  single 
inscription  on  the  beautiful  bronze  statue  of  Benton  in  Lafayette 
Park,  St.  Louis.  He  was  the  enthusiastic  supporter  of  Jackson's 
Administration,  and  was  the  first  of  our  leading  statesmen  of 
that  day  to  insist  that  the  currency  of  the  country  should  be  on 
a  silver  and  gold  basis.  So  -earnest  was  he  in  the  advocacy  of 
this  policy  that  he  was  known  the  last  twenty  years  of  his  life 
as  "Old  Bullion." 

During  Benton's  entire  public  career  he  was  regarded  as  pre- 
eminently the  representative  of  the  pioneer  interests  of  the 
West.  He  was  the  first  to  demand  preemptive  right  to  actual 
settlers  and  the  donation  of  homesteads  to  impoverished  but  in- 
dustrious people.  He  was  always  far  in  advance  of  the  Govern- 
ment in  recognizing  its  obligations  to  the  people,  who  have 
more  than  fulfilled  Benton's  grandest  dreams  of  advancement 
by  rearing  a  galaxy  of  States  in  the  territory  that  he  took  under 
his  special  protection  when  he  first  became  a  national  lawmaker. 
When  he  first  proposed  postal  routes  to  reach  our  Far  Western 
possessions  he  was  ridiculed  by  the  conservative  statesmanship 
of  the  East,  but  when  he  had  suffered  defeat  after  defeat  he 
finally  won.  I  well  remember  when  he  first  proposed  the 
Pacific  Railway  as  a  national  necessity.  He  was  then  advanced 
in  years,  and  it  was  not  uncommon  to  hear  intelligent  Senators 
and  Representatives  of  the  East  refer  to  the  Pacific  Railroad 
dream  of  Benton  as  the  project  of  "the  old  man  gone  in  his 
head."  He  not  only  advocated  a  transcontinental  railway,  and 
insisted  that  its  construction  was  an  inevitable  and  imperious 
duty  sooner  or  later,  but  he  was  the  one  man  who  knew  where 
the  Pacific  railroad  should  be  located.  In  one  of  his  many 
speeches  on  the  subject  he  declared  that  he  had  no  faith  in  the 
views  of  the  engineers  who  had  been  sent  across  the  mountains 
at  different  points  to  report  upon  the  possibility  of  construct- 
ing highways.  He  said  that  the  only  engineer  who  did  not  lie 
was  the  buffalo,  and  the  buffalo  proved  that  the  better  climate 
was  northward  by  coming  south  to  graze  in  the  summer  and 
returning  northward  to  winter. 


274  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

In  this  he  was  clearly  right,  although  his  views  were  gener- 
ally rejected  at  that  time,  and  when  finally  a  Pacific  railroad 
was  forced  upon  the  Government  during  the  civil  war,  to  pre- 
vent the  erection  of  an  independent  empire  on  the  Pacific  coast, 
the  worst  of  three  routes  was  accepted — by  Bridger  Pass  to 
Salt  Lake  and  thence  westward  across  the  Sierra  Nevadas, 
making  the  great  line  traverse  a  thousand  miles  on  which  there 
has  never  been  a  green  field  and  where  the  snows  of  the  Sierras 
make  railroading  possible  in  winter  only  by  scores  of  miles  of 
snow  sheds,  while  the  Northern  Pacific  line  is  traversed  winter 
and  summer  and  is  hundreds  of  miles  nearer  to  the  commerce 
of  the  East.  Many  men  have  performed  individual  feats  of 
heroism  in  aiding  to  create  the  unbroken  line  of  Common- 
wealths that  now  spans  the  continent  from  the  Father  of  Waters 
to  the  golden  shores  of  the  Pacific,  but  no  one  man  has  accom- 
plished a  tithe  of  the  great  achievements  of  Thomas  Hart  Ben- 
ton  in  educating  the  Government  to  appreciate  its  great  West- 
ern possessions,  and  in  forcing  the  early  advancement  that  has 
made  that  whole  region  develop  into  fruitfulness  and  plenty. 

When  the  question  of  acquiring  new  territory  in  Mexico  was 
to  be  considered  the  one  man  who  understood  it  in  all  its  de- 
tails was  Senator  Benton.  He  understood  the  language  in 
which  the  records  of  our  new  acquisitions  were  written.  He 
studied  the  laws  thoroughly,  understood  the  character  of  the 
people,  and  appreciated  the  boundless  wealth  they  would  give 
to  the  nation.  He  was  impatient  and  always  impetuous  in  the 
promotion  of  his  advanced  ideas,  and  it  was  his  earnest  demand 
that  forced  a  new  army  into  the  Mexican  war  under  the  com- 
mand of  Scott,  to  make  a  rapid  march  to  the  Mexican  capital. 
He  had  had  military  experience,  having  served  in  the  regular 
army  as  lieutenant  colonel  when  quite  a  young  man,  and  with 
his  high  appreciation  of  himself,  for  which  he  was  ever  conspic- 
uous, he  believed  that  he  understood  the  situation  better  than 
any  or  all  the  generals  of  the  army  or  the  statesmen  of  the  na- 
tion. It  was  his  own  proposition  that  he  should  be  made  Lieu- 
tenant General  and  sent  to  Mexico  in  command  of  both  the 
armies  of  Scott  and  Taylor,  with  the  purpose  of  intrusting  him 
with  the  important  duty  of  finally  making  a  treaty  of  peace 
and  determining  the  new  territorial  acquisitions.  This  ambition 
of  Benton's  was  resented  by  many  of  his  fellow  Senators,  and 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  275 

the  proposition  finally  had  to  be  abandoned;  but  when  the  time 
came  for  a  treaty  of  peace  the  views  of  Benton  were  adopted 
generally  in  the  treaty  of  Guadalupe  Hidalgo. 

The  only  President  with  whom  Benton  maintained  uninter- 
rupted intimate  relations  during  his  service  in  the  Senate  was 
Jackson.  Benton  was  hot-headed  and  impulsive,  and  rarely 
harmonized  with  the  other  Presidents  of  his  party,  but  his  de- 
votion to  Jackson  was  romantic.  As  I  have  already  stated,  they 
had  long  been  bitter  enemies,  but  when  they  became  recon- 
ciled he  was  the  champion  of  Jackson  under  all  circumstances. 
He  achieved  a  great  triumph  over  Clay,  Webster  and  Calhoun 
by  the  success  of  his  noted  expunging  resolution  in  the  Senate. 
After  the.  removal  of  the  deposits  from  the  United  States  Bank 
by  Jackson,  Clay  introduced  a  resolution  of  censure,  declaring 
that  Jackson  had  "assumed  authority  and  power  not  conferred 
by  the  Constitution  and  laws,  but  in  derogation  of  both."  Jack- 
son sent  a  formal  protest  to  the  Senate,  but  the  Senate  refused 
to  receive  it,  and  the  resolution  of  censure  was  adopted  and 
spread  'Upon  the  records  of  the  body.  Benton  vehemently  op- 
posed it  at  every  stage,  and  after  its  adoption  proposed  to  ex- 
punge it  in  every  Congress;  but  he  was  defeated  in  his  efforts 
until,  on  the  i6th  of  January,  1837,  a  short  time  before  Jack- 
son's retirement,  he  succeeded  in  having  the  resolution  ex- 
punged. He  also  was  a  leader  in  the  movement  to  give  Jack- 
son a  late  vindication  for  the  fine  imposed  upon  him  by  the 
Civil  Courts  of  New  Orleans  after  he  had  declared  martial  law 
there  to  enable  him  to  defend  the  city.  Jackson  had  been  fined 
$1,000,  and  before  he  retired  from  the  Presidency  the  fine  was 
repaid  by  the  Government. 

I  saw  much  of  Senator  Benton  during  the  last  ten  years  of 
his  life  without  having  any  intimate  acquaintance  with  him.  He 
was  to  be  seen  often  on  the  streets  of  Washington  on  pleasant 
afternoons  riding  his  magnificent  black  charger,  and  he  rode 
with  the  dignity  of  a  Caesar.  He  was  a  man  of  handsome  form 
and  feature,  and  was  proud  of  it,  and  he  evidently  enjoyed  the 
homage  he  received  by  the  attention  given  him  when  lie  was  on 
dress  parade.  I  never  had  an  opportunity  to  see  anything  of 
the  inner  man  but  once,  and  that  was  when  he  was  in  feeble 
health.  I  happened  to  be  with  him  when  James  B.  Clay,  a  son 
of  Henry  Clay,  was  about  to  be  involved  in  a  duel.  Benton  had 


276  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

fought  a  duel  in  early  life  and  killed  his  opponent,  but  he  never 
fully  forgave  himself  for  having  the  blood  of  a  fellow  upon  his 
skirts.  He  personally  destroyed  all  records  of  the  duel  he  had 
fought,  although  it  was  not  questioned  that  he  was  justified 
according  to  the  code  accepted  at  that  time,  and  it  was  well 
known  that  he  would  neither  challenge  nor  accept  a  challenge 
during  his  long  service  in  Washington.  Although  Clay  had 
been  one  of  his  most  earnest  political  opponents  he  took  an 
active  interest  in  adjusting  the  dispute,  and  preventing  the  son 
of  his  old  competitor  from  appearing  on  the  field  of  honor.  He 
spoke  with  great  earnestness  on  the  subject,  and  it  was  pathetic 
to  hear  the  grand  old  man,  then  on  the  verge  of  the  grave,  ad- 
monish the  younger  men  about  him  against  being  misled  to 
murder  by  false  conceptions  of  honor.  He  was  then  suffering 
from  a  fatal  malady,  and  he  found  relief  from  the  constant  pain 
he  suffered  only  in  his  literary  work.  After  completing  his 
'Thirty  Years  in  the  Senate,"  which  was  very  largely  a  record 
of  himself,  he  abridged  the  Congressional  debates  and  finished 
it  just  before  his  death.  His  last  work  done  on  it  was  dictated 
in  whispers  to  an  amanuensis,  and  when  he  finally  completed  it 
he  knew  that  the  end  was  near,  and  he  notified  friends  in  Con- 
gress that  he  must  soon  pass  away  from  them,  and  requested 
that  Congress  should  not  take  any  notice  of  his  death;  but  that 
request  was  not  respected,  as  when  his  death  was  announced 
both  houses  at  once  adjourned. 

Benton,  like  all  great  political  leaders  who  are  in  public  life 
for  more  than  a  generation,  suffered  some  humiliating  discom- 
fitures in  his  later  days.  His  breach  with  Calhoun  on  the  slav- 
ery question  led  to  an  organized  opposition  to  him  in  Missouri 
within  his  own  political  household,  and  when  he  came  up  for 
re-election  to  his  sixth  term  in  the  Senate  he  was  amazed  to 
find  himself  confronted  by  a  combination  too  formidable  for 
him  to  overcome.  The  Democrats  had  a  majority  in  the  Legis- 
lature, but  so  intense  was-  the  bitterness  of  the  anti-Benton 
Democrats  against  him  that  they  voted  directly  for  a  Whig  to 
accomplish  his  defeat,  presenting  the  unusual  spectacle  of  a 
Legislature  with  a  decided  Democratic  majority  electing  an 
active  and  pronounced  Whig  to  the,  United  States  Senate  for  a 
term  of  six  years.  He  had  entered  into  the  contest  with  great 
vigor,  and  his  speeches  made  in  defense  of  himself  are  perhaps 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  277 

the  most  pungent  ever  delivered  by  a  candidate  of  national 
fame.  His  wit  ripened  with  his  age,  and  he  loved  nothing  so 
much  as  an  opportunity  to  pour  out  the  most  delectable  tide  of 
mingled  wit  and  invective,  but  he  only  intensified  the  opposi- 
tion, and  made  it  implacable  even  to  the  extent  of  going  into 
the  camp  of  the  common  enemy  to  accomplish  his  defeat. 

Benton  could  not  believe  it  possible  that  he  had  lost  his  om- 
nipotence in  the  State  of  Missouri,  and  when  defeated  for  the 
Senate  he  immediately  announced  himself  as  a  candidate  for  the 
popular  branch  of  Congress,  and  was  the  Benton  Democratic 
candidate  in  1852.  He  was  elected  by  a  majority  of  about  1,000, 
although  the  anti-Benton  Democratic  candidate  received  2,500 
votes.  When  he  entered  the  House  he  at  once  became  the  polit- 
ical storm  centre  of  the  body.  He  felt  that  he  was  vindicated, 
and  he  was  impetuous  to  a  degree  that  wounded  friends  and 
gratified  only  his  foes.  He  boasted  of  his  ability  not  only  to 
return  to  the  House,  but  to  return  to  the  Senate  when  a  vacancy 
happened;  but  his  work  was  done,  his  career  was  ended,  and 
the  people  had  learned  to  obey  the  voice  of  new  masters.  When 
he  ran  for  re-election  to  the  House  in  1854  he  was  defeated  by 
1,000  majority,  but  the  old  warrior  could  not  confess  that  he 
was  conquered.  Although  the  prey  of  exhausting  disease,  and 
greatly  weakened  by  the  infirmities  of  age  and  continued  suf- 
fering, he  announced  his  purpose  to  be  a  candidate  for  Gover- 
nor of  Missouri  at  the  next  election.  There  was  then  no  Whig 
party  in  Missouri,  as  it  had  been  absorbed  in  the  American  or- 
ganization. The.  Democrats  nominated  Governor  Polk,  the 
Americans  nominated  Mr.  Ewing  and  Benton  announced  him- 
self as  an  independent  candidate,  believing  that  he  would  sweep 
the*  State  and  regain  his  political  omnipotence ;  but  although  he 
received  a  majority  of  some  1,600  in  the  city  of  St.  Louis,  the 
total  vote  of  the  State  was:  46,245  for  Polk,  41,076  for  Ewing 
and  27,576  for  Benton.  Broken  in  heart  and  hope  by  this  final 
and  decisive  defeat,  he  rapidly  declined  in  health  and  diverted 
himself  from  his  misfortunes  by  his  literary  labors,  until  finally, 
on  the  loth  of  April,  1858,  the  great  champion  of  the  pioneers 
of  the  West  and  the  man  who  was  leader  of  leaders  in  the  won- 
derful progress  of  the  Republic  toward  the  setting  sun,  passed 
Into  the  dreamless  sleep  of  the  dead. 


WESTERN  RAILWAYS  AND  ROCKY 
COACHES  A  GENERATION  AGO. 

The  progress  in  transcontinental  travel  during  the  present 
generation  makes  romance  pale  before  it.  Today  the  tourist 
can  enter  a  palace  car  in  Philadelphia  or  New  York,  enjoy  every 
comfort  of  home  day  and  night,  and  land  at  the  Golden  Gate 
on  the  Pacific  in  five  days.  Every  possible  comfort  is  given 
to  the  traveler.  Luxurious  seats  and  sofas,  and  meals  and  beds, 
can  be  had  with  nearly  as  much  comfort  as  in  a  first-class  hotel. 
The  railways  are  in  perfect  condition,  with  superb  equipment, 
the  severe  curves  and  heavy  grades  on  the  mountains  are  mas- 
tered by  the  immense  iron  horse,  and  a  rate  of  speed  is  main- 
tained day  and  night  that  a  generation  ago  was  not  thought  of 
on  the  best  equipped  lines  of  that  day.  Not  only  are  there  sev- 
eral great  trunk  lines  traversing  the  entire  continent,  but  the 
rude  shriek  of  the  locomotive  is  heard  in  almost  every  valley 
and  on  nearly  every  hilltop  in  the  great  mountain  regions  of 
tbe  far  West. 

Only  a  generation  ago  the  same  journey  required  nearly  a 
month  when  most  successfully  performed  in  the  somewhat  pre- 
tentious coaches  of  that  period,  which  were  compelled  to  run 
the  gauntlet  of  savage  tribes  as  they  traversed  the  trackless  plains 
and  climbed  the  confusing  cliffs  of  the  great  mountains,  with 
an  even  chance  to  meet  the  deadly  road  agent  if  the  coach  was 
laden  with  precious  metals  from  the  mines;  and  half  a  century 
ago  the  journey  to  the  Pacific  could  be  made  only  by  bullwhack- 
ing  the  ox  teams  across  the  plains  and  mountains,  requiring  a 
full  season  from  spring  to  fall  for  the  most  fortunate  to  reach 
their  destination.  The  only  other  route  to  the  Pacific  at  that 
day  was  around  Cape  Horn,  a  most  perilous  journey  in  the  in- 
different vessels  then  employed,  and  requiring  months  to  ac- 
complish it. 

The  greatest  civilizer  of  this  continent  has  been  the  locomo- 
tive. The  Indian  was  the  master  of  his  famed  hunting  grounds 
(278) 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  279 

in  the  mountains  and  on  the  plains  of  the  West  until  he  heard 
the  weird  song  of  the  iron  horse.  The  son  of  the  forest  well 
understood  its  meaning.  It  told  him  of  a  strange  civilization 
that  was  master  wherever  its  tread  was  heard,  and  bade  him  re- 
cede in  terms  that  were  inexorable.  I  was  within  a  few  miles 
of  the  location  of  the  present  city  of  Cheyenne  in  the  spring  of 
1867,  when  there  was  not  a  habitation  in  sight  at  that  place, 
and  the  Indians  raided  the  Pacific  Railway  engineers  at  or  near 
that  point,  murdering  a  number  of  them;  and  only  eight  months 
later  I  arrived  by  the  mountain  coach  at  the  new  city  of  Chey- 
enne, that  then  had  a  population  of  over  5,000  people,  and  was 
the  fastest  of  all  the  fast  Western  towns  I  met  in  making  a 
coach  journey  of  three  thousand  miles  on  the  plains  and  moun- 
tains. 

I  saw  Brigham  Young  when  the  Pacific  Railway  had  reached 
only  to  a  point  some  300  miles  west  of  Omaha,  and  the  one 
thing  that  disturbed  him  was  the  advent  of  the  locomotive.  I 
spent  a  month  in  his  beautiful  city  nestling  in  the  valley  hard 
by  the  shadows  of  the  snow-capped  mountains,  with  its  silver 
rivulets  traversing  each  side  of  its  broad  streets,  and  fruits  and 
vines  and  flowers  beautifying  every  Mormon  home.  He  was 
as  absolute  a  ruler  in  Utah  as  the  Czar  in  Russia.  He  had  suc- 
cessfully defied  the  authority  of  our  Government  in  war  and 
peace ;  bust  the  day  that  the  iron  horse  first  sang  his  song  in  the 
valley  of  Utah  dated  the  decline  and  fall  of  the  Mormon  ruler. 
Missionaries  have  preached  to  the  pioneers,  ministered  to  them 
in  sickness,  and  buried  them  when  life's  fitful  fever  ended,  but, 
important  as  is  their  work,  the  great  factors  in  Western  civiliza- 
tion were  the  rugged  miners  and  husbandmen  with  their  uner- 
ring rifles,  and  the  railway  that  followed  them. 

On  the  3d  of  May,  1867,  I  left  Chicago  at  8.15  in  the  morn- 
ing for  Omaha  over  the  Chicago  &  Northwestern  Railroad,  now 
one  of  the  most  completely  equipped  lines  on  the  continent. 
The  rapid  construction  of  the  Union  Pacific  from  Omaha  west- 
ward 'compelled  the  hasty  extension  of  the  Chicago  &  North- 
western to  Omaha  in  1866,  by  throwing  up  a  few  feet  of  em- 
bankment on-  the  usually  level  plains  of  Western  Iowa  and  lay- 
ing the  superstructure  without  ballast.  During  the  winter  the 
road  was  passable,  but  when  the  spring  thaws  and  floods  came 
the  superstructure  was  played  with  by  the  elements  in  the  most 


280  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

fantastic  fashion.  The  speed  never  exceeded  ten  miles  an  hour, 
and  was  often  as  low  as  six.  The  thirty-odd  passengers  received 
their  last  meal  at  Dennison,  24  hours  from  Chicago,  and  did  not 
have  an  opportunity  to  obtain  a  meal  during  the  remainder  of 
the  journey,  lasting  36  hours.  When  within  50  miles  of  Council 
Bluffs  we  were  halted  by  a  wreck,  eight  miles  from  the  nearest 
station,  and  50  miles  from  the  nearest  point  where  machinery 
could  be  had  to  clear  the  track.  We  were  thus  detained  for  ten 
hours  in  cold  cars  and  without  provisions.  At  last  the  train 
was  started  and  proceeded  to  the  village  of  Honeybrook,  30 
miles  distant,  when  another  wreck  called  a  halt  of  several  hours. 
Fortunately  there  wrere  a  few  shanties,  peopled  by  Irish  laborers, 
and  the  passengers  were  enabled  to  obtain  some  boiled  eggs 
and  bacon,  which  their  ravenous  appetites  warmly  welcomed. 
Finally  the  train  arrived  within  a  few  miles  of  Council  Bluffs  at 
10  o'clock  at  night,  and  the  train  was  left  on  the  track  because 
of  the  flooded  and  broken  condition  of  the  road.  It  was  not 
until  ii  o'clock  the  next  morning  that  the  passengers,  without 
breakfast,  were  driven  four  miles  to  the  boat  that  carried  them 
across  the  Missouri  to  Omaha  after  a  journey  of  two  days  and 
a  half.  Now  the  same  route  is  traversed  with  all  the  comforts 
of  home  at  the  rate  of  50  miles  an  hour,  and  all  the  conveniences 
to  the  passengers  of  a  first-class  hotel. 

Omaha  was  a  revelation  to  me.  It  was  the  first  genuine 
Western  city  I  had  struck.  It  presented  an  unsightly  appear- 
ance, with  its  rambling  lines  of  houses,  and  here  and  there  a 
three  or  four-story  permanent  building,  with  every  conceivable 
size  and  style  of  shanties  sandwiched  between  them.  It  was  my 
first  introduction  to  the  progressive  Western  character.  It  had 
more  carriages;  sold  more  goods  and  at  higher  prices;  dealt 
out  town  lots  by  the  foot  at  greater  valuations;  had  more  hotels, 
better  patronized,  dirtier  and  dearer;  built  more  houses  in  a  day 
and  rented  them  for  more  money;  played  poker  and  keno  at  a 
higher  limit,  and  raced  horses  oftener  and  for  higher  stakes, 
than  any  other  city  of  the  same  population  that  I  had  ever 
heard  of. 

The  Union  Pacific  Railroad  was  then  completed  to  North 
Platte,  a  distance  of  295  miles.  The  journey  from  Omaha  to 
that  point  was  without  special  interest.  Buffalo  herds  were 
often  visible,  and  for  nearly  100  miles  not  a  sign  of  habitation 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  281 

was  seen  beyond  the  little  shanties  needed  for  railroad  purposes. 
The  pretty  and  curious  antelope  often  came  up  within  gunshot 
of  the  train,  and  the  prairie  dog,  with  his  inseparable  com- 
panion, the  owl,  gave  us  welcome. 

At  North  Platte  I  first  made  the  acquaintance  of  the  moun- 
tain stage  coach  for  a  journey  of  290  miles  to  Denver.  The  In- 
dian question  had  become  somewhat  serious,  as  they  were  raid- 
ing stage  lines  periodically,  but  we  did  not  come  into  uncom- 
fortably close  quarters  with  them  until  we  reached  Julesburg, 
where  Fort  Sedgwick  had  nearly  1,000  troops,  under  the  com- 
mand of  Colonel  Dodge.  We  arrived  there  a  little  after  sunrise 
and  learned  that  75  cavalrymen  had  just  been  driven  in  along 
our  route  westward  by  the  Indians,  and  that  the  telegraph  lines 
were  cut.  I  called  upon  Colonel  Dodge  to  consider  the  situa- 
tion, and  he  insisted  that  the  coach  must  not  go  out  without  a 
large  military  escort.  I  had  learned  that  the  men  of  the  clear- 
est judgment  and  safest  in  council  were  the  stage  drivers.  They 
were  a  remarkable  class.  They  never  touched  a  horse  except 
to  drive,  and  continued  to  drive  from  fifty  to  sixty  miles,  devot- 
ing their  attention  'exclusively  to  the  passengers,  mails  and 
treasure  in  their  charge,  while  others  cared  for  the  horses.  They 
were  paid  high  wages,  and  chosen  entirely  because  of  their  in- 
telligence, courage  and  discretion.  I  first  sought  the  advice  of 
"Long  John,"  our  driver,  with  whom  I  had  ridden  in  the  boot 
for  several  hours  in  the  morning.  I  told  him  the  situation  as 
reported  by  Colonel  Dodge,  and  said  that  we  could  have  any 
number  of  troops  to  escort  us  if  deemed  prudent  for  us  to  go. 
I  have  never  forgotten  the  curl  of  disgust  that  spread  over 
"Long  John's"  face  as  he  answered:  "An  escort?  Hell!  we  have 
trouble  enough  to  take  care  of  ourselves."  When  I  asked  his 
meaning  he  answered  very  coolly:  "The  Indians  are  there,  but 
they  don't  want  our  bandboxes  nor  trunks;  they  want  our 
horses.  We  have  nine  well-armed  men  to  protect  six  horses, 
but  with  fifty  or  a  hundred  cavalrymen  and  a  horse  to  every 
chump,  the  Indians  would  attack  the  cavalrymen  for  the  horses 
and  involve  us  in  danger.  If  you  will  go  with  me  and  obey  my 
directions  I  will  take  you  safely  through." 

There  were  two  ladies  in  the  party,  and  after  a  consultation 
they  decided  that  "Long  John's"  advice  should  be  accepted, 
and  we  started  out  on  the  same  route  over  which  75  cavalrymen 


282  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

had  been  driven  in  by  the  Indians  only  a  few  hours  before.  The 
Indians  were  secreted  in  O'Fallon's  Bluffs,  and  at  one  point  the 
bluffs  were  so  close  to  the  river  that  we  were  compelled  to 
come  within  rifle  range,  but  "Long  John"  understood  the  In- 
dian, and  he  disposed  of  his  nine  men  on  the  top  of  the  coach, 
in  the  boot  and  inside,  with  their  rifles  pointing  to  the  Bluffs, 
with  instructions  not  to  fire  unless  an  Indian  head  was  uncov- 
ered. We  thus  passed  for  nearly  half  a  mile  within  range  of  the 
Indians  without  seeing  them,  and  the  danger  was  over.  When 
some  miles  beyond  on  a  hill  that  gave  us  a  view  of  the  rear  of 
the  Bluffs  we  saw  a  large  body  of  Indians  that  we  had  passed 
within  range  of  their  guns.  We  heard  a  very  interesting  story 
of  Indian  raids  while  we  tarried  an  hour  to  sup  with  Holland 
Godfrey,  better  known  as  "Old  Wicked/'  the  only  ranchman 
who  had  saved  his  home  from  the  torch  and  rifle  of  the  savage 
as  they  swept  the  Platte  in  1866.  The  Rocky  Mountains  finally 
came  in  view  as  their  snow-clad  tops  appeared.  Gradually  their 
huige  cliffs  loomed  up,  and  as  Denver  was  approached  the  im- 
mense peaks  presented  themselves  in  all  their  imperial  grandeur. 

Denver  was  then  a  mere  mining  camp,  with  a  fitful  popula- 
tion of  some  four  or  five  thousand.  The  most  pretentious  build- 
ing was  the  Pacific  Hotel,  a  simple  frame  structure  with  only 
board  partitions  and  guiltless  of  plaster.  Everybody  seemed 
happy  and  hopeful  of  gathering  millions,  as  the  mountains  were 
known  to  be  studded  with  precious  metals,  but  the  obstinate 
gold  and  silver  ores  defied  reduction  by  ordinary  process,  and 
many  elegantly  constructed  mills,  with  the  finest  machinery, 
were  abandoned  because  of  the  difficulty  in  mastering  the  ores. 
I  remember  dining  in  a  little  cottage  on  the  outskirts  of  the 
city,  with  Land  Officer  Pearce,  to  meet  Mr.  Hill,  who  had  just 
arrived  there,  prepared,  as  he  believed,  to  master  the  obstinate 
ores  by  a  new  process.  Few  had  faith  in  him  at  the  time,  but 
he  attained  great  success,  became  a  multi-millionaire  and  a 
United  States  Senator. 

I  expected  to  remain  two  or  three  days  in  Denver,  and  then 
proceed  westward  to  the  land  of  the  Mormons,  but  the  Indian 
troubles  increased  in  both  front  and  rear,  and  I  was  compelled 
to  wait  three  weeks,  much  in  the  position,  as  to  the  Indians,  as 
was  Hooker's  bull,  fast  on  the  fence,  unable  to  either  hook  in 
front  or  kick  behind.  After  waiting  until  the  3d  of  June  our 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  283 

party  of  seven,  including  Mrs.  McClure,  started  westward  to 
try  our  fortunes  with  the  dusky  sons  of  the  forest.  We  were 
fortunate  in  having  Mr.  Perry,  of  Missouri,  an  old  mountaineer 
of  ripe  experience,  who  was  as  intelligent  and  brave  as  he  was 
unassuming. 

We  reached  Virginia  Dale,  nearly  100  miles  westward,  with- 
out incident,  where  we  received  the  disturbing  information  that 
the  Indians  had  just  captured  a  mule  team  near  that  place,  and 
that  the  Black  Hills,  beyond  our  route,  had  many  Indians  on 
the  war  path.  But  we  passed  the  Black  Hills  in  safety,  every 
precaution  being  taken  by  sending  out  skirmish  lines  at  any 
dangerous  pass  or  bluff,  and  finally  reached  Cooper's  Creek  to 
learn  that  the  coach  horses  had  just  been  captured  by  the  In- 
dians after  scalping  one  of  the  herders,  and  after  giving  our 
team  a  rest-  until  n  o'clock  next  day  we  started  with  an  escort 
for  the  North  Platte,  a  distance  of  60  miles.  The  escort  was 
changed  at  each  station.  The  guards  at  Rock  Creek,  Medicine 
Bow  and  Wagon  Hound  stations  had  all  been  unsuccessfully  at- 
tacked by  Indians,  and  at  Elk  Mountain  (Old  Fort  Hallock)  we 
were  informed  that  the  Indians  were  encamped  a  few  miles  from 
the  bluff  in  strong  force,  and  had  stolen  the  horses  there  the 
evening  before. 

This  was  regarded  as  the  most  perilous  condition  we  had  con- 
fronted, but  our  driver  was  equal  to  the  occasion.  He  said  lit- 
tle, but  whistled  merrily  as  he  carefully  examined  his  rifle  and 
pistols,  and  when  about  to  take  the  lines  he  notified  us  that  an 
attack  was  probable,  but  added  with  emphasis:  "Never  scar'; 
never  scar';  they're  lightnin'  when  you  scar'."  He  whirled  the 
silken  cracker  of  his  lash,  making  it  resound  through  the  bleak 
and  forbidding  cliffs  around  us,  and  started  the  team  at  a  gallop. 
Whether  the  road  was  rough  or  smooth  the  speed  was  never 
slackened,  and  at  times  the  whole  seven  passengers  were 
bunched  in  a  pile  in  front  of  the  coach  and  at  other  times  in  the 
rear.  We  finally  reached  the  North  Platte  about  3  in  the 
morning,  where  we  supposed  our  Indian  troubles  were  ended, 
but  our  relief  was  brief,  as  the  first  information  we  received  was 
that  the  Indians  were  raiding  the  road  for  50  miles  westward, 
and  that  travel  was  suspended.  All  the  good  horses  had  been 
stolen  by  the  Indians,  and  10  passengers  had  accumulated  at 
the  stations,  anxious  to  go  West.  Hunting  was  impossible 


284  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

because  of  the  proximity  of  the  Indians,  and  a  movement  was 
necessary,  as  the  station  people  were  without  food. 

Two  mud  wagons  wrere  rigged  up,  four  broken-down  horses 
attached  to  each,  and  we  started  on  a  bright  morning,  the  7th 
of  June,  to  cross  the  summit  of  Bridger's  Pass.  Sage  Creek 
was  the  first  station,  and  it  had  not  been  disturbed,  although 
the  horses  had  been  stolen.  As  we  came  near  to  Pine  Grove, 
the  second  station,  we  found  it  in  ruins  and  still  burning.  It 
was  surrounded  by  thickets,  and  we  had  to  skirmish  them  be- 
fore driving  up  to  the  station.  Soon  after  we  stopped  to  lunch 
and  feed  our  jaded  horses,  and  by  the  time  we  were  ready  to 
start  again  a  blinding  snow  storm  was  upon  us.  We  could  not 
protect  ourselves  from  the  storm,  as  every  man  had  to  keep  his 
rifle  in  hand  and  a  sharp  lookout  for  the  Indians.  We  hoped 
to  find  relief  at  Bridger's  Pass,  but  when  we  came  in  sight  of  it 
we  found  it  in  flames.  When  we  arrived  at  the  station  there 
were  fresh  tracks  of  the  Indian  ponies  in  the  snow.  While 
warming  ourselves  at  the  fire  the  critical  situation  was  carefully 
discussed.  It  was  some  twelve  miles  distant  to  Sulphur  Springs, 
beyond  which  the  Indians  were  not  likely  to  be  troublesome, 
our  teams  were  exhausted,  and  the  pitiless  snow  storm  made  it 
impossible  for  any  one  to  see  forty  rods  in  any  direction.  For- 
tunately, we  could  track  the  Indians,  who  had  gone  toward  Sul- 
phur Springs,  and  we  were  compelled  to  follow  them.  Big 
Dick  was  our  master  driver,  and  he  was  entirely  equal  to  the 
occasion.  He  said  that  we  would  overtake  the  Indians,  as  they 
traveled  very  slowly  when  not  pursued,  and  notified  us  when 
we  started  not  to  worry  about  the  redskins,  as  he  would  know 
when  we  were  close  to  them  by  the  freshness  of  their  tracks. 
After  going  some  five  miles  Dick  pulled  up  and  said:  "Fresh 
tracks,  boys;  lots  of  'em.  They're  not  half  a  mile  ahead  of  us." 
A  dozen  men  sprang  out  of  the  wagons  with  their  rifles,  but  the 
serious  question  was  what  to  do  with  the  lady  of  the  party.  Mr. 
Perry,  the  grizzled  mountaineer,  was  with  us,  and,  like  all  of 
his  class,  as  gentle  as  a  mother  with  woman  or  child.  He  emp- 
tied out  the  mail  bags,  made  a  good  bed  of  the  robes  and  blan- 
kets, and  when  ready  to  put  her  into  the  wagon  he  asked 
whether  she  had  arms.  She  had  an  elegant  brace  of  pistols  and 
was  a  good  shot.  He  examined  them  carefully,  handed  them 
back  to  her  and  in  a  gentle  but  tremulous  voice  said:  "Madam, 
if  we  are  killed  or  captured  you  will  take  your  own  life."  To 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  285 

which  she  answered,  "I  understand."  She  was  then  covered 
up,  mail  bags  thrown  over  her,  and  the  men  started  in  advance 
of  the  teams. 

In  less  than  an  hour  we  came  upon  them  in  their  camp  as 
we  emerged  from  a  canyon  that  brought  us  within  short  rifle 
range  before  we  could  see  them.  The  moment  they  saw  or 
heard  us  their  lights  went  out,  they  mounted  their  ponies  and 
started  eastward  down  a  little  -stream,  while  our  course  was 
westward.  Some  of  the  party  raised  their  rifles  the  moment 
they  saw  the  Indians,  but  Dick  yelled:  "No  shootin',  boys;  no 
shootin'.  We  haven't  lost  any  Injuns."  He  was  promptly 
obeyed,  and  after  leaving  an  entirely  worn-out  hors>e  by  the 
wayside,  we  finally  reached  Sulphur  Springs  late  at  night,  where 
30  passengers  were  coraled  by  the  interruption  of  the  stage 
line,  and  but  one  woman  in  the  entire  party.  The  Indians  were 
in  the  bluffs  close  to  the  station,  but  there  was  no  danger  of 
them  attacking  30  armed  men  in  a  station  house  that  had  all 
the  qualities  of  an  improvised  fort.  Water  was  obtained  from  a 
spring  near  the  bluffs  and  close  to  the  station  house,  and  when 
any  went  for  water  the  guard  covered  the  bluffs  with  their  rifles. 
As  hunting  was  impossible,  another  movement  was  necessary, 
and  two  stages  were  started  out  westward  the  next  day.  When 
we  reached  the  top  of  the  bluff  a  few  miles  west  of  the  station, 
a  number  of  Indians  were  visible  and  all  of  them  mounted,  but 
we  had  passed  them  in  safety,  and  we  soon  breathed  freely  as 
we  struck  an  open  wide  plain  extending  15  miles  and  our  In- 
dian troubles  were  ended. 

Having  escaped  from  the  savages,  we  had  a  delightful  Sunday 
at  Fort  Bridger,  where  Judge  Carter  welcomed  us  with  gener- 
ous hospitality.  After  a  refreshing  meal  and  a  few  hours'  rest 
we  renewed  our  journey,  and  at  midnight  crossed  the  Quaking 
Asp  summit,  9,000  feet  above  the  sea  and  the  greatest  altitude 
attained  crossing  the  continent.  I  shall  never  forget  the  de- 
lightful drive  we  had  down  Echo  Canyon,  a  narrow  valley  of 
nearly  twenty  miles,  where  every  sound  is  distinctly  echoed.  It 
was  Hank  Connors'  drive,  the  most  noted  of  the  stage  whips 
of  the  mountains,  but  he  had  been  thrown  off  his  regular  beat 
by  the  general  disturbance  of  the  system.  The  horses  were 
superb  and  obedient  to  the  word  as  we  whirled  down  the  beau- 
tiful canyon  at  the  rate  of  twelve  miles  an  hour,  and  finally  landed 
at  Weber  Station,  where  we  had  our  first  introduction  to  the 


286  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

Mormons.  We  started  to  climb  the  Wahsatch  Range  before  mid- 
night, and  when  near  its  summit  had  a  jolly  upset  in  six  feet  of 
drifted  snow,  but  we  were  soon  righted  again,  and  after  a  de- 
lightful moonlight  drive  through  Parley  Canyon  we  arrived  at 
Salt  Lake  City  and  breakfasted  on  a  profusion  of  excellent 
strawberries. 

It  required  eight  days  and  nights  to  enable  us  to  reach  Salt 
Lake  City  from  Denver,  constantly  threatened  by  the  savages 
during  half  the  journey,  and  exposed  to  every  possible  discom- 
fort, with  insufficient  food  much  of  the  time.  Such  were  the 
experiences  of  those  who  crossed  the  Rocky  Mountains  only  a 
generation  ago;  and  as  I  recently  crossed  the  same  mountains 
clear  to  the  Pacific,  with  almost  every  comfort  enjoyed  in  my 
own  home,  I  was  well  prepared  to  appreciate  the  wonderful 
progress  that  has  been  made  in  the  civilization  of  the  West.  I 
spent  eight  months  in  the  mountains,  enjoying  excellent  health, 
and  greatly  enjoyed  the  generous  hospitality  and  sublime  man- 
hood of  the  Western  pioneers.  The  Vigilantes  practically  then 
ruled  in  Colorado,  Idaho  and  Montana.  The  Courts  performed 
their  duties,  but  the  man  charged  with  murder,  burglary,  high- 
way robbery  or  stock  stealing  who  was  permitted  to  go  into  the 
hands  of  the  civil  authorities  was  certain  of  acquittal.  If  guilty, 
the  Vigilantes  ended  his  career  before  the  jurisdiction  of  the 
civil  Courts  attached.  All  knew  that  the  Vigilantes  adminis- 
tered justice  with  the  strictest  impartiality,  and  their  supremacy 
was  then  a  necessity  to  maintain  order  and  to  protect  person 
and  property.  It  is  safe  to  say  that  in  no  single  instance  did 
the  Vigilantes  of  the  Western  Territories  execute  an  innocent 
person,  and  that  is  a  record  that  could  not  be  claimed  by  our 
most  enlightened  tribunals  of  the  East.  During  my  stay  I 
crossed  the  Rocky  Mountains  six  times  from  base  to  base  over 
four  different  passes,  and  when  finally  it  became  necessary  for 
me  to  return  to  my  home  in  the  East,  I  parted  from  the  brave 
pioneers  of  the  West  with  profound  regrets,  and  have  ever  cher- 
ished for  them  the  most  affectionate  memories.  I  then  saw  a 
civilization  that  has  now  perished  on  our  continent,  and  one  that 
has  never  been  accorded  a  full  measure  of  justice  for  its  great 
work  in  rearing  the  galaxy  of  Commonwealths  which  now  span 
the  western  part  of  our  green  land  from  the  Father  of  Waters 
to  the  golden  slopes  of  the  Pacific. 


HENRY  WILSON,  NATICK  COBBLER 
AND  VICE  PRESIDENT. 

If  I  were  asked  by  the  young  men  of  today  whose  record  I 
would  select  from  the  most  illustrious  records  written  during  the 
last  half  century  that  they  could  study  most  profitably  at  this 
time  I  would  name  that  of  Henry  Wilson,  of  Massachusetts, 
who  rounded  out  a  long  public  career  on  which  there  was  not 
the  semblance  of  blemish,  and  died  when  Vice-President  in  the 
Vice-President's  room  in  the  Capitol.  He  was  born  in  Farming- 
ton,  New  Hampshire,  on  the  i6th  of  February,  1812,  with  a 
parentage  so  obscure  that  I  have  never  seen  it  noted  in  detail  in 
any  of  the  many  biographies  which  have  been  written  of  him. 
The  name  of  his  parents  was  Colbath,  and  he  was  christened 
as  Jeremiah  Jones  Colbath,  but  when  he  attained  his  majority 
he  had  his  name  changed  by  the  Massachusetts  Legislature  to 
that  of  Henry  Wilson.  His  educational  advantages  were 
extremely  limited,  but  he  was  a  tireless  student.  He  once  told 
me  that  he  had  read  over  one  thousand  volumes  that  he  had 
begged  or  borrowed  while  he  was  working  for  a  farmer  to 
whom  he  had  been  apprenticed  to  serve  until  he  was  21  years 
of  age,  when  he  started  out  on  foot  in  search  of  work  and  to 
make  a  career  for  himself.  He  landed  at  Natick,  Massachusetts, 
and  found  employment  with  a  shoemaker,  whose  trade  he  ac- 
quired. By  severe  economy  he  earned  enough  money  to  gain 
an  academic  course. 

After  a  brief  academic  career  he  was  compelled  to  abandon 
his  studies  and  resume  his  trade  as  a  shoemaker.  In  1840  he 
came  to  the  front  and  delivered  a  number  of  speeches  in  sup- 
port of  Harrison.  He  was  then  billed  on  the  notices  of  the 
meeting  as  the  "Natick  cobbler."  He  was  one  of  a  large  class 
of  stump  orators  in  that  campaign  who  came  up  from  close  to 
mother  earth,  as  did  the  Buckeye  blacksmith  and  many  others. 
It  was  a  campaign  in  which  the  people  led  the  leaders,  and 
offered  an  inviting  field  for  men  who  had  the  qualifications 

(287) 


288  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

to  take  the  platform  from  the  ranks  of  the  people  and  discuss 
the  political  questions  of  the  day.  Of  all  that  class  of  1840 
campaigners  Henry  Wilson  was  much  the  most  polished  and 
forceful.  He  brought  none  of  the  swagger  of  the  shop  to 
embellish  his  arguments,  but  was  always  a  refined,  intelligent 
and  dignified  Christian  gentleman,  and  he  rapidly  won  the  affec- 
tions of  the  masses.  He  shared  the  triumph  of  Harrison  in  an 
humble  degree,  being  elected  to  the  popular  branch  of  the 
Massachusetts  Legislature,  where  he  served  two  terms,  and  later 
was  thrice  elected  to  the  State  Senate. 

I  first  saw  Henry  Wilson  in  the  Philadelphia  Whig  National 
Convention  of  1848.  He  was  earnest  and  uncompromising  in 
his  anti-slavery  convictions,  and  was  one  of  a  number  of  dele- 
gates in  that  convention  who  dissented  from  the  action  of  the 
body  in  rejecting  an  anti-slavery  resolution.  He  was  then  just 
in  the  prime  of  life,  and  when  he  rose  to  protest  against  the 
action  of  the  convention  he  was  listened  to  as  one  whose 
position  and  ability  merited  the  respect  of  every  member  of 
the  body.  His  speech  was  earnest  and  somewhat  impassioned. 
It  was  delivered  in  faultless  style,  and  certainly  made  a  profound 
impression  upon  his  associates.  When  he  closed  his  address 
he  announced  his  purpose  to  retire  from  the  Massachusetts 
delegation.  He  returned  home,  became  publisher  and  editor 
of  The  Boston  Republican,  and  made  it  the  leading  organ  of 
New  England  for  the  Free  Soil  party  that  supported  Van  Buren 
for  President  in  that  contest.  He  was  the  admitted  leader  of  the 
distinctly  anti-slavery  or  Free  Soil  party  of  Massachusetts,  arid 
made  his  party  strong  enough  to  hold  the  balance  of  power  in 
the  Massachusetts  Legislature  in  1850,  when  he  brought  about 
the  fusion  between  the  Democrats  and  Free  Soilers  that  made 
George  S.  Boutwell,  then  the  Democratic  candidate  for  Gov- 
ernor, Governor  of  the  State,  and  Charles  Sumner  United 
States  Senator. 

Wilson  was  defeated  for  Congress  in  1852  by  only  93  votes, 
when  there  was  a  majority  of  thousands  against  his  party  in 
the  district,  and  in  1853  he  was  chosen  to  the  State  Constitu- 
tional Convention.  In  the  same  year  he  was  the  unsuccessful 
Free  Soil  candidate  for  Governor.  In  1854  the  new  party 
known  as  the  American  or  Know  Nothing  suddenly  came  to  the 
surface,  and,  as  it  avowed  hostility  to  the  repeal  of  the  Missouri 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  289 

Compromise,  it  logically  blended  with  the  Free  Soilers  of  the 
State  and  carried  both  Governor  and  Legislature,  and  Wilson 
was  chosen  in  1855  to  succeed  Edward  Everett  in  the  United 
States  Senate.  The  first  speech  he  delivered  in  the  Senate  was 
an  exhaustive  argument  against  the  Fugitive  Slave  law,  and 
in  favor  of  the  abolition  of  slavery  in  the  District  of  Columbia. 
Although  he  was  among  the  new  Senators,  his  record  as  an«, 
earnest  anti-slavery  man  had  brought  him  national  fame,  and  he 
commanded  unusual  respect  from  his  fellow-Senators.  There 
were  men  of  greater  intellectual  force  with  whom  Wilson  came 
in  contact  both  in  the  Senate  and  in  his  tireless  efforts  for  his 
cause  during  his  career,  but  he  never  met  a  foeman  in  the  forum 
whose  respect  he  did  not  win  by  the  dignified,  intelligent 
and  chivalrous  tone  of  his  arguments.  There  was  not  the  trace 
of  the  demagogue  in  his  organization.  He  was  of  imposing 
presence;  was  always  clad  in  elegant  but  unostentatious  apparel, 
and  his  bright,  kindly  round  face  unmistakably  proclaimed 
his  sincerity  and  manliness.  He  was  one  of  the  gentlest  of 
men.  I  saw  him  hundreds  of  times  during  his  long  career, 
heard  him  in  the  Senate,  on  the  stump  and  in  many  political 
councils,  and  I  never  heard  him  utter  a  word  that  could  give 
reasonable  offense  to  any  one. 

He  was  known  as  the  peacemaker  of  the  Senate,  and  the  only 
time  that  he  ever  broke  that  record  was  when  he  spoke  on 
the  floor  of  the  Senate  in  denunciation  of  the  brutal  attack 
made  upon  Sumner  by  Brooks  of  South  Carolina.  While  he  did 
not  personally  denounce  the  man  who  had  attacked  the  Senator 
with  a  bludgeon,  he  denounced  the  act  in  unsparing  terms, 
declaring  it  to  be  "brutal,  murderous  and  cowardly."  Brooks 
promptly  challenged  him  to  a  duel,  but  he  at  once  declined  on 
the  ground  that  dueling  was  barbarous  and  unlawful,  and  he 
announced  in  unmistakable  terms  that  he  believed  in  the  right  of 
self-defense,  but  he  never  had  occasion  to  indulge  in  that  right, 
as  Brooks  well  knew  that  Wilson  was  as  brave  as  he  was  gentle. 
The  most  impressive  illustration  of  the  kindly  feeling  that  em- 
bellished his  whole  life  was  exhibited  toward  his  Senatorial 
colleague,  Charles  Sumner,  who  had  become  estranged  from 
Grant  on  the  annexation  of  San  Domingo,  and  who  had  also 
offended  the  violent  sectional  prejudices  of  that  day  by  pro- 
posing in  the  Senate  that  the  captured  Confederate  flags  then 


290  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

held  in  the  North  should  be  restored  to  the  South.  The  Massa- 
chusetts Legislature  denounced  Sunnier  and  his  proposition,  and 
Sumner  found  himself  practically  outside  the  pale  of  his  party, 
and  was  refused  recognition  by  the  Republicans  on  the  com- 
mittees of  the  Senate.  When  Grant  was  nominated  for  re- 
election, with  Wilson  as  the  candidate  for  Vice-President,  Sum- 
ner came  out  in  a  strong  public  letter  against  the  Republican 
ticket  and  advocated  the  election  of  Greeley,  but  all  these  actions 
of  Sumner  never  for  a  moment  estranged  Wilson  from  him. 
When  the  election  was  over  and  Wilson  became  Vice-President 
he  at  once  devoted  himself  earnestly  to  restoring  Sumner  to 
Republican  fellowship,  and  succeeded  in  obtaining  for  him 
recognition  on  the  Republican  side  of  some  of  the  committees. 
He  also  prepared  the  way  for  Sumner's  re-election  to  the  Senate 
by  the  Republicans  of  the  State,  and  had  it  practically  accom- 
plished, but  Sumner  died  just  before  the  expiration  of  his 
term.  Wilson  could  have  utterly  overthrown  Sumner  in  Massa- 
chusetts, but  he  was  ceaseless  in  his  efforts  to  restore  the 
broken  Republican  leader  in  the  Senate  to  the  crown  he  had 
worn  for  so  many  years. 

Had  Wilson's  councils  prevailed  with  the  Grant  Administra- 
tion there  would  have  been  no  Liberal  Republican  revolt  in  1872. 
While  he  was  careful  to  avoid  positive  offense  to  Grant,  he  was 
constant  in  his  efforts  to  heal  the  gaping  wounds  and  restore 
the  broken  ranks  of  the  Republican  party.  He  was  thoroughly 
up  in  the  political  movements  of  the  whole  country,  and  was 
greatly  alarmed  at  the  positive  defection  among  many  of  the 
ablest  Republican  leaders  against  Grant's  re-election.  He  saw 
such  old-time  Republican  Senators  as  Sumner,  and  Fenton,  and 
Trumbull,  and  Shurtz  and  others  driven  toward  revolutionary 
action,  and  he  was  tireless  in  his  efforts  to  bring  about  harmony 
in  the  support  of  Grant  for  a  second  term.  In  the  early  part  of 
1872  a  vacancy  occurred  in  the  Cabinet,  and  Wilson  well  under- 
stood the  serious  Republican  defection  that  existed  in  Pennsyl- 
vania. Curtin,  who  had  been  buried  in  the  Russian  mission  for 
several  years,  had  resigned  and  was  soon  to  return  home.  The 
Administration  patronage  in  the  State  was  wielded  relentlessly 
against  Curtin  and  his  friends,  and  it  was  believed  that  Curtin 
would  join  the  revolutionary  movement.  On  his  way  home  he 
was  met  in  Paris  by  an  authorized  representative  of  the  Admin- 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  291 

istration,  and  tendered  his  choice  of  the  English  or  French 
missions  if  he  would  remain  in  the  diplomatic  service,  but  he 
gave  a  peremptory  declination,  although  he  had  not  indicated 
in  any  way  his  political  purposes. 

Wilson  saw  in  the  Cabinet  vacancy  what  he  supposed  might 
be  an  opportunity  to  halt  the  discordant  elements  in  Pennsyl- 
vania. After  a  conference  with  the  President  he  came  to  Phila- 
delphia to  confer  with  me  on  the  subject,  but  I  was  in  New 
York,  to  remain  for  a  few  days.  He  went  directly  to  New 
York  and  met  me  at  the  Hoffman  House.  He  made  a  very 
urgent  appeal  to  me  to  go  with  him  at  once  to  Washington,  as 
he  felt  entirely  confident  that  a  Cabinet  officer  would  be  ap- 
pointed from  Pennsylvania  who  would  be  entirely  acceptable  to 
Curtin  and  his  friends.  Of  course  he  brought  no  such  direct 
proposition  from  Grant,  but  expressed  his  positive  conviction, 
after  a  conference  with  the  President,  that  such  an  arrange- 
ment could  be  effected.  The  Liberal  Republican  movement  was 
then  just  beginning  to  take  shape  in  the  State,  and  had  Wilson's 
plan  been  practicable,  the  revolution  might  have  been  halted  or 
greatly  impaired.  I  declined  to  return  to  Washington  with  him 
for  the  single  reason  that  I  knew  the  suggestion  to  be  utterly 
impracticable.  Cameron  was  then  in  the  Senate,  and  a  vindic- 
tive opponent  of  Curtin  and  his  friends,  and  a  Curtin  man  in 
the  Cabinet  would  have  been  forced  either  to  assent  to  the  con- 
tinued ostracism  of  his  friends  or  compel  the  President  to 
choose  between  offending  a  Senator  whose  position  and  power 
were  assured  or  dismissing  his  Cabinet  officer.  I  had  good  rea- 
sons for  believing  that  President  Grant  desired  to  halt  the  revo- 
lutionary movement  and  measurably  harmonize  the  party,  but 
he  was  not  tactful  in  politics,  and  had  more  faith  in  the  omnip- 
otence of  power  than  in  persuasion  or  concession. 

Wilson  made  the  same  efforts  in  New  York  and  in  other 
States  to  halt  the  Liberal  Republican  movement.  In  these  la- 
bors he  was  simply  consistent  with  himself,  for  during  his  whole 
public  career  he  was  known  as  one  who  always  struggled  to 
pacify  and  harmonize,  but  in  1872  he  was  specially  interested  in 
Republican  unity  as  he  had  become  a  candidate  for  Vice-Presi- 
dent  along  with  Grant.  The  health  of  Vice-President  Colfax 
had  been  impaired,  and  he  publicly  announced  his  purpose  not 
to  be  a  candidate  to  succeed  himself.  Until  then  he  had  been  a 


29 2  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

great  favorite  with  the  newspaper  men  of  Washington,  but 
when  he  made  up  his  mind  to  retire  from  politics,  suffering  as 
he  was  from  what  he  regarded  as  permanently  broken  health, 
he  lost  his  social  attributes,  and  gave  mortal  offense  to  his  old 
newspaper  friends.  How  far  they  were  justified  in  the  desperate 
measures  of  resentment  they  adopted  I  could  not  assume  to  de- 
cide, but  when  some  months  later  his  health  improved  and  he 
announced  himself  as  a  candidate,  for  renomination,  the  news- 
paper men  of  Washington  adopted  Wilson  as  their  candidate, 
and  made  an  organized  and  most  aggressive  campaign  for  the 
defeat  of  Colfax.  It  was  not  disputed  at  the  Philadelphia  con- 
vention of  1872  that  the  Washington  newspaper  men  were 
wholly  responsible  for  the  humiliating  defeat  given  to  Colfax, 
and  for  the  nomination  of  Henry  Wilson  as  his  successor. 

In  the  campaign  of  1872  Wilson  took  the  stump,  as  he  had 
always  done  in  past  State  and  national  struggles,  and  certainly 
delivered  the  most  effective  speeches  of  the  campaign  in  favor 
of  the  regular  Republican  ticket.  He  always  spoke  kindly  of 
Sumner  and  his  associates  who  had  broken  away  to  the  liberal 
Republican  movement,  and  commanded  the  respect  of  political 
friend  and  foe  by  his  dignified  and  masterly  political  addresses. 
It  was  a  campaign  of  unusual  bitterness,  and  both  Grant  and 
Greeley  were  assailed  by  flood  tides  of  defamation.  Wilson  rose 
above  them  all,  and  never  uttered  a  sentence  in  the  severe  strug- 
gle that  could  offend  any  fair-minded  opponent.  When  the 
struggle  was  ended  and  he  was  victor,  instead  of  seeking  to 
punish  the  Republicans  who  had  revolted,  he  continued  his  ef- 
forts to  restore  harmony  in  the  Republican  ranks,  and  at  Gree- 
ley's  funeral,  only  a  few  weeks  after  the  battle  had  ended,  the 
beautiful  spectacle  was  presented  of  Grant  and  Wilson  standing 
by  the  tomb  when  all  that  was  mortal  of  Horace  Greeley  had 
obeyed  the  inexorable  mandate  of  "dust  to  dust." 

I  doubt  whether  any  other  one  of  our  prominent  public  men 
of  the  last  half  a  century  was  so  thoroughly  equipped  for  public 
service  in  the  line  of  political  duty  as  was  Henry  Wilson.  He 
never  permitted  his  friendships  to  swerve  him  from  his  duty,  or 
his  resentments  to  deform  his  public  record.  His  knowledge  of 
public  men  and  of  the  men  who  controlled  the  politics  of  the 
various  States  was  more  general  and  more  intimate  than  that  of 
any  other  one  man  of  his  time,  and  in  the  many  flood-tides  of 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  293 

passion  during  the  war  and  the  reconstruction  period  he  always 
counseled  forbearance  and  generous  concession.  He  struggled 
long  and  earnestly  to  prevent  the  breach  between  Johnson  and 
the  Republican  Congress,  and  only  when  he  found  that  his  work 
was  utterly  hopeless  did  he  unite  with  his  Republican  friends  in 
implacable  opposition  to  the  policy  of  the  administration. 

I  saw  him  many  times  in  the  State  and  national  contests  made 
by  the  Republican  party  during  his  lifetime,  and  he  was  always 
clear-headed  in  counsel,  courageous  in  action  and  nrost  persua- 
sive on  the  rostrum  in  defending  his  cause.  He  studiously  kept 
himself  in  touch  with  all  political  movements  in  every  section, 
and  with  the  men  of  State  and  national  prominence.  The  last 
time  I  saw  him  was  a  short  time  before  his  death.  He  had  suf- 
fered from  a  paralytic  stroke  some  months  before  that  impaired 
his  limbs  and  somewhat  hindered  his  speech,  but  he  climbed  up 
three  pairs  of  stairs  in  The  Times  office  to  discuss  with  me  some 
present  public  question  that  he  felt  was  of  vital  importance.  I 
never  knew  a  more  tireless  worker,  and  yet  he  labored  with 
such  careful  method  that  he  never  seemed  to  be  exhausted.  He 
was  a  man  of  the  simplest  habits,  a  stranger  to  indulgence  in 
wines  and  dinners,  and  always  ready  for  work  and  for  a  kind 
greeting  for  friend  and  foe. 

Wilson  was  not  only  a  broad  gauge  statesman,  but  he  was 
one  of  the  most  progressive  of  our  public  men.  He  was  at  the 
forefront  in  every  great  battle  for  national  advancement,  and 
there  was  not  a  single  great  issue  before  the  Senate  that  he  did 
not  present  after  the  most  careful  and  exhaustive  study.  He 
was  one  of  the  earliest  and  most  earnest  advocates  of  the  Pacific 
Railway,  and  in  the  memorable  struggle  for  the  admission  of 
Kansas  he  was  not  only  among  the  foremost  of  the  champions 
of  freedom,  but  he  was  the  Republican  tactician  of  the  body. 
One  of  his  most  notable  speeches  was  one  made  in  March,  1859, 
in  reply  to  Senator  Hammond,  of  South  Carolina,  who  in  an 
address  of  great  ability  contrasted  the  free  labor  of  the  North 
with  the  slave  labor  of  the  South,  and  urged  the  slave  system 
as  preferable  to  the  free  labor  system  of  the  North.  It  was  the 
offspring  of  the  slave  master's  conception  that  all  labor  was 
menial  and  degrading,  and  two  Senators — Wilson,  of  Massachu- 
setts, and  Broderick,  of  California — resented  the  reflections  of 
Senator  Hammond  upon  the  dignity  of  free  labor  in  the  North 


294  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

by  speeches  which  aroused  the  entire  country  to  a  just  appre- 
ciation of  the  issue  between  free  and  slave  labor.  Wilson  had 
risen  from  the  cobbler's  bench,  and  Broderick  from  the  shed  of 
the  stonecutter,  and  they  could  speak  in  defense  of  the  dignity 
of  the  free  labor  of  the  North  and  the  opportunities  it  pos- 
sessed for  advancement  even  to  the  highest  position  of  the  Gov- 
ernment. 

When  civil  war  came,  Wilson  was  made  chairman  of  the  Mili- 
tary Committee  of  the  Senate,  and  continued  in  that  position 
during  the  entire  struggle,  and  rendered  a  service  in  devising 
and  perfecting  legislation  for  the  creation  and  maintenance  of 
our  army  that  only  those  who  labored  with  him  could  fully 
appreciate.  After  the  first  battle  of  Bull  Run  he  raised  the 
Twenty-second  Regiment  in  Massachusetts,  marched  to  the 
front  as  its  Colonel,  and  served  as  an  aide  on  General  McClel- 
lan's  staff  until  the  ass-embling  of  Congress  in  December.  Dur- 
ing the  first  two  years  of  the  war  he  was  the  author  of  the  laws 
which  were  passed  abolishing  slavery  in  the  District  of  Colum- 
bia, permitting  the  enrollment  of  negroes  in  the  militia  and 
granting  freedom  to  slaves  and  their  families  who*  entered  the 
service  of  the  United  States.  After  the  war  he  favored  the  re- 
construction policy  of  universal  suffrage  to  the  emancipated 
slaves,  but  he  was  always  steadfast  in  the  support  of  measures 
for  the  conciliation  of  the  defeated  Southern  people.  While  en- 
gaged in  his  exacting  duties  as  Senator  and  in  defending  the 
Republican  cause  on  the  rostrum  he  published  a  number  of  vol- 
umes which  are  now  of  exceptional  historical  value,  the  most 
pretentious  and  important  of  which  was  his  "History  of  the  Rise 
and  Fall  of  the  Slave  Power  in  America"  in  three  large  volumes, 
the  last  of  which  was  not  fully  completed  at  the  time  of  his 
death.  It  is  altogether  the  best  presentation  of  the  great  strug- 
gle for  the  overthrow  of  slavery  that  has  been  given  by  any 
author.  Although  greatly  enfeebled  physically  by  the  paralysis 
he  suffered  soon  after  his  election  to  the  Vice-Presidency,  his 
labors  never  ceased  and  his  kind  offices  had  all  seasons  for  their 
own.  On  the  22d  of  November,  1875,  when  sitting  in  the  Vice- 
President's  room  in  the  Capitol,  he  suffered  a  second  paralytic 
stroke,  and  died  in  the  harness,  after  a  long  life  of  unflagging 
devotion  to  every  public  duty,  enriched  only  in  his  confessed 
integrity  and  self-respect,  and  profoundly  lamented  by  every 
good  citizen,  regardless  of  his  political  faith. 


THE  STORY  OF  RECONSTRUCTION. 

The  complete  restoration  of  the  insurgent  States  to  political 
fellowship  and  fraternal  brotherhood,  after  four  years  of  the 
bloodiest  war  of  modern  times,  is  a  chapter  that  can  appear  only 
in  the  annals  of  our  great  Republic.  None  of  the  civil  wars  of 
the  past  resulted  in  reunion  with  the  restoration  of  civil  rights, 
unless  compelled  by  great  perils  which  forced  unity  for  common 
safety.  There  were  victors  and  vanquished,  and,  as  a  rule,  the 
victors  have  been  masters  and  the  vanquished  subjects  or  slaves; 
and  this  great  achievement  under  our  free  institutions  is  all  the 
greater  and  grander  in  its  accomplishment  because  of  the  many 
grave  obstacles  which  were  interposed  in  reconstruction.  The 
restoration  of  the  Southern  States  to  their  relations  with  the 
Union  was  accomplished  in  the  most  fearful  tempest  of  sectional 
passion,  often  entirely  obliterating  the  lines  of  justice  and  hu- 
manity, and  yet  with  all  these  fearful  imperfections  the  union  of 
our  States  was  never  stronger  than  it  is  today. 

All  intelligent  Americans  are  familiar  with  the  policy  of  the 
reconstruction.  They  have  studied  its  history  and  know  when 
and  how  it  was  accomplished,  but  very  few  understood  how 
strangely  and  sadly  a  more  fraternal  and  sympathetic  policy  of 
reconstruction  was  made  impossible.  Had  Abraham  Lincoln 
lived  there  would  have  been  a  policy  of  reconstruction  that  pre- 
sented a  generously  sympathetic  appeal  to  the  defeated  insur- 
gents, and  universal  suffrage  in  the  South  would  never  have 
been  known.  On  this  point  I  speak  advisedly,  but  do  not  rely 
wholly  upon  my  own  information  from  Lincoln  himself.  Cau- 
tious as  he  was,  he  has,  fortunately,  left  unmistakable  evidence 
of  what  his  policy  of  reconstruction  would  have  been  had  he 
lived  to  consummate  it.  He  would  have  offended  the  more  rad- 
ical element  of  his  party,  but  would  doubtless  have  commanded 
the  support  of  the  great  mass  of  the  Republican  people  and  their 
representatives  in  Congress,  and  the  earnest  support  of  all  patri- 
otic and  conservative  Democrats, 

(295) 


296  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

Although  Lincoln  seldom  discussed  the  question  of  recon- 
struction and  studiously  avoided  public  utterance  on  the  sub- 
ject, I  know  that  it  was  the  one  subject  that  absorbed  his 
thoughts  for  many  months  before  the  surrender  of  Lee.  Some 
time  in  August,  1864,  I  spent  an  hour  or  more  with  him  alone 
at  the  White  House,  and  I  then  for  the  first  time  heard  him 
speak  with  frankness  on  the  subject  of  restoring  the  insurgent 
States.  It  was  then  well  known  that  the  military  power  of  the 
Confederacy  was  broken  and  that  its  disintegration  was  only  a 
question  of  months.  He  startled  me  by  his  proposition  that  he 
had  carefully  written  out  in  his  own  hand  on  a  sheet  of  note 
paper,  proposing  to  pay  the  South  $400,000,000  for  the  loss  of 
their  slaves.  He  was  then  a  candidate  for  re-election,  and  grave 
doubts  were  entertained  until  after  Sherman's  capture  of  At- 
lanta and  Sheridan's  victories  in  the  valley  as  to  the  result  of 
the  contest  between  Lincoln  and  McQellan,  and  he  well  knew 
that  if  public  announcement  had  been  made  of  his  willingness 
to  pay  the  South  $400,000,000  for  emancipation  it  would  have 
defeated  him  overwhelmingly. 

I  never  heard  him  discuss  any  question  with  more  earnest- 
ness. He  had  evidently  given  it  most  careful  study,  and  he  be- 
lieved that  successful  reconstruction  would  be  impossible  with- 
out some  tangible  assurance  to  the  South  of  sympathetic  fellow- 
ship from  the  Government  that  had  conquered  it.  He  knew 
that  the  Confederate  armies  could  be  defeated  and  scattered, 
but  what  he  most  feared  was  that  they  would  not  return  to 
their  homes  to  accept  citizenship  under  a  hated  rule;  and  with 
nothing  but  desolation  and  want  throughout  the  South,  the  dis- 
banded Confederate  soldiers  would  be  tempted  to  lawlessness 
and  anarchy.  He  never  cherished  a  sentiment  of  resentment 
against  the  South,  and  he  was  most  anxious  to  teach  them  in 
the  most  impressive  way  possible  that  his  Government  and  the 
North  desired  the  complete  restoration  of  the  Southern  people 
to  political,  social  and  business  fellowship.  He  said  that  $400,- 
000,000  seemed  to  be  a  large  sum,  but  that  the  continuance  of 
the  war  for  four  months  would  cost  as  much,  not  counting  the 
loss  of  life  and  property.  He  laid  great  stress  upon  the  fact  that 
unless  the  South  could  be  aided  to  the  speedy  restoration  of 
her  industry  and  business  interests,  no  help  could  be  had  from 
the  Southern  States  to  maintain  the  national  credit  and  reduce 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  297 

our  crushing  war  debt.  He  greatly  lamented  the  fact  that  the 
South  so  strangely  misunderstood  him  in  believing  him  to  be 
almost  a  second  Nero,  and  he  said,  with  an  earnestness  that 
was  pathetic:  "If  these  people  only  knew  us  better  it  would  be 
well  for  us  both." 

Lincoln  express-ed  practically  the  same  convictions  in  his 
conference  with  Grant  and  Sherman  at  City  Point  a  short  time 
before  Richmond  was  evacuated.  His  gravest  apprehension 
was  that  if  the  war  ended  by  the  mere  dispersion  of  the  Con- 
federate armies  there  would  be  no  law  or  order  in  the  South, 
and  no  inspiration  to  industry  and  the  restoration  of  the  deso- 
lated homes  and  fields.  It  was  this  consideration  that  made 
him  authorize  General  Sherman  to  .say  to  Governor  Vance,  of 
North  Carolina,  where  Sherman's  armies  were  operating,  that 
if  the  war  were  ended  the  Vance  government  in  North  Carolina 
would  be  sustained  by  the  President  until  Congress  should 
meet,  if  its  actions  were  in  the  interests  of  peace  and  the  res- 
toration of  the  Union.  When  Lincoln  returned  from  the  Hamp- 
ton Roads  conference  with  the  representatives  of  President 
Davis  he  was  greatly  depressed  by  the  failure  to  open  any  door 
in  the  direction  of  peace.  He  is  described  by  Nicolay  and  Hay 
in  these  words:  "His  temper  was  not  one  of  exultation,  but  of 
broad,  patriotic  charity,  and  a  keen,  sensitive,  personal  sympa- 
thy for  the  whole  country  and  all  its  people,  South  as  well  as 
North." 

Without  consulting  anyone  he  prepared  a  special  message 
to  Congress,  and  on  the  5th  of  February,  1865,  he  presented 
it  to  his  Cabinet.  It  recommended  that  $400,000,000  be  issued 
in  six  per  cent,  bonds  to  be  paid  to  the  Southern  States  for  the 
loss  of  their  slaves,  on  the  condition  that  all  resistance  to  the 
national  authority  should  cease  on  or  before  the  first  day  of 
April  following,  and  in  the  same  message  he  proposed  that  if 
Congress  adopted  his  plan  of  compensated  emancipation  he 
would  issue  a  proclamation  declaring  that  with  the  abandon- 
ment of  war  by  the  insurgents  and  their  restoration  under  the 
authority  of  the  Government  armies  would  at  once  be  reduced 
to  a  peace  basis,  all  political  offenses  would  be  pardoned,  all 
property  liable  to  confiscation  would  be  released,  and  liberality 
would  be  recommended  to  Congress  on  all  points  not  lying 
within  executive  control.  The  Cabinet  did  not  approve  of  the 


298  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

message,  and  after  it  had  been  fully  discussed  and  the  views  of 
the  Cabinet  officers  ascertained,  Lincoln  made  this  indorsement 
on  the  back  of  the  message:  "February  5,  1865.  Today  these 
papers,  which  explain  themselves,  were  drawn  up  and  submitted 
to  the  Cabinet,  and  unanimously  disapproved  by  them,"  to 
which  Lincoln  appended  his  name. 

It  must  be  remembered  that  the  war  was  then  in  progress, 
and  few  of  the  prominent  friends  of  the  administration  were 
prepared  to  view  reconstruction  from  a  generous  and  sympa- 
thetic standpoint  while  the  Confederate  flag  was  defended  by 
strong  armies  in  the  field.  Had  Lincoln  lived  to  learn  of  the 
surrender  of  Johnston's  army  in  North  Carolina  he  would  cer- 
tainly have  maintained  his  faith  with  Sherman  and  Governor 
Vance  that  the  ruling  purpose  of  his  policy  of  reconstruction 
was  to  maintain  uninterrupted  governments  and  authority  in  all 
the  Southern  States  after  the  close  of  the  war.  His  purpose  on 
this  point  was  also  exhibited  when  he  visited  Richmond  and 
personally  authorized  General  Weitzel  to  invite  the  State  gov- 
ernment and  Legislature  to  resume  their  authority  in  the  line 
of  peace.  That  arrangement  was  defeated  by  Judge  Campbell 
and  others,  who  claimed  that  Lincoln  had  conceded  much  more 
than  he  intended  to  concede,  which  led  to  a  bitter  controversy 
in  the  Cabinet  and  in  the  North,  and  after  the  surrender  of 
Lee's  army  Lincoln  revoked  the  order.  The  fact  that  he  author- 
ized it  proved  that  his  policy  of  reconstruction  contemplated 
the  recognition  of  the  State  authorities  in  the  South  until  the 
meeting  of  Congress,  unless  they  persisted  in  some  measure  of 
antagonism  to  the  authority  of  the  national  Government. 

Lincoln's  reconstruction  policy  had  been  well  considered  and 
determined  for  months  before  the  surrender  of  Lee,  and  it  con- 
templated no  act  of  revenge  on  the  part  of  the  Government. 
In  the  fall  of  1864  I  heard  General  Butler  and  Colonel  Forney 
discuss  with  him  the  question  of  punishing  the  leading  insur- 
gents with  great  earnestness  and  vehemence,  to  which  Lincoln 
replied  with  a  story  that  clearly  conveyed  his  wish  that  they 
should  all  get  away  "unbeknowns"  to  him,  and  he  expressed 
his  views  to  his  Cabinet  on  the  last  day  of  his  great  life,  when 
Grant  had  returned  as  victor  of  Appomattox  and  was  present 
with  the  President  and  his  advisers  to  consider  the  situation. 
He  declared  to  the  Cabinet,  as  quoted  by  Nicolay  and  Hay,  that 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  299 

no  one  need  expect  him  to  "take  any  part  in  hanging  or  killing 
these  men,  even  the  worst  of  them."  I  am  thus  enabled  to  con- 
firm my  own  statements  as  to  Lincoln's  views  on  the  subject  of 
reconstruction  by  the  most  conclusive  evidence  furnished  by 
others.  He  was  inspired  by  that  beautiful  sentence  in  his  sec- 
ond inaugural,  "with  malice  toward  none  and  with  charity  for 
all,"  and,  had  he  lived,  by  no  act  of  his  would  any  insurgent 
have  suffered  in  person  or  property,  unless  guilty  of  violating 
the  laws  of  war. 

On  another  vital  point  relating  to  reconstruction  we  have  the 
most  positive  evidence  as  to  Lincoln's  views  on  the  subject  of 
suffrage.  No  proposition  was  seriously  made  to  confer  suf- 
frage upon  the  colored  voters  of  the  District  of  Columbia  while 
Lincoln  was  President,  for  it  would  not  have  met  his  approval. 
He  had  evidently  considered  that  subject  as  one  of  the  stum- 
bling blocks  in  reconstruction.  He  knew  that  the  radical  ele- 
ment of  his  party  would  demand  it,  and  he  believed  that  it 
would  be  unfortunate  for  both  races  and  for  both  sections. 
When  he  was  serenaded  after  the  surrender  of  Lee,  and  deliv- 
ered his  last  public  address  on  the  steps  of  the  White  House, 
he  knew  that  the  question  of  reconstruction  was  upon  him  and 
that  he  must  meet  it.  It  was  one  of  the  most  carefully  prepared 
papers  he  ever  delivered,  and  with  that  caution  that  was  always 
exercised  by  Lincoln,  he  meant  that  it  should  be  suggestive  on 
the  material  points  of  reconstruction.  In  that  address  he  said, 
speaking  of  the  then  partially  reconstructed  government  of 
Louisiana:  "It  is  also  unsatisfactory  to  some  that  the  elective 
franchise  is  not  given  to  the  colored  men.  I  would  most  prefer 
that  it  were  now  conferred  on  the  very  intelligent  and  on  those 
who  served  our  cause  as  soldiers." 

Only  a  month  before  he  had  written  to  Governor  Hahn,  of 
Louisiana,  congratulating  him  as  the  first  Free  State  Governor, 
and  giving  his  suggestions  as  to  the  elective  franchise  to  be 
defined  in  the  new  Constitution.  He  said:  "I  barely  suggest 
for  your  private  consideration  whether  some  of  the  colored  peo- 
ple may  not  be  let  in,  as,  for  instance,  the  very  intelligent,  and 
especially  those  who  have  fought  gallantly  in  our  ranks.  They 
would  help  in  some  trying  time  to  come  to  keep  the  jewel  of 
liberty  in  the  family  of  freedom."  The  letter  to  Governor  Hahn 
was  written  before  the  surrender  of  any  of  the  Confederate 


300  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

armies,  and  was  given  as  a  private  suggestion,  but  the  speech 
delivered  on  the  last  day  of  his  life  presented  his  most  carefully 
considered  conclusions  on  the  subject  of  negro  suffrage,  and 
proposed  that  it  should  be  confined  to  "the  very  intelligent"  and 
to  those  who  had  served  in  the  army  and  navy.  The  extension 
of  the  elective  franchise  to  that  limited  class  of  negroes  would 
not  have  made  them  a  political  factor  in  any  State  or  commun- 
ity of  the  country. 

I  have  thus  stated  with  some  minuteness  of  detail  the  attitude 
of  Lincoln  on  the  two  vital  issues  of  reconstruction — viz.,  the 
treatment  of  the  Southern  people  by  the  Government,  and  the 
question  of  suffrage  in  the  reconstructed  States.  Had  Lincoln 
lived,  reconstruction  would  have  been  accomplished  after  the 
most  sober  and  considerate  discussion  of  all  the  questions  in- 
volved in  it;  but  his  assassination  inflamed  the  loyal  sentiment 
of  the  country,  and  President  Johnson  reflected  it  in  the  early 
days  of  his  administration  by  his  repeated  declarations  demand- 
ing a  tidal  wave  of  retribution.  Just  one  week  after  he  became 
President  he  delivered  an  address  to  visiting  citizens  of  Indiana, 
headed  by  Governor  Morton,  in  which  he  said  that  the  time 
had  arrived  when  the  American  people  should  be  educated  that 
treason  is  the  highest  crime  known  to  the  law,  to  which  he 
added:  "Yes,  treason  against  a  State,  treason  against  all  the 
States,  treason  against  the  Government  of  the  United  States,  is 
the  highest  crime  that  can  be  committed,  and  those  engaged  in 
it  should  suffer  all  its  penalties." 

Johnson  was  a  man  of  violent  passions.  His  birth  ,education 
and  all  the  conflicts  of  his  life  had  taught  him  to  hate  the  ruling 
class  of  the  South,  and  when  he  waded  through  the  tears  of  a 
bereaved  nation  into  the  Presidency  his  natural  impulses  were 
quickened  by  the  keenly  inflamed  sectional  sentiment  of  the 
North  resulting  from  the  assassination  of  Lincoln;  but  in  a  very 
few  months,  when  he  came  to  face  the  grave  responsibility  pre- 
sented to  him,  he  learned  that  higher  and  nobler  duties  must 
be  performed,  and  his  first  error  when  he  started  in  the  right 
direction  was  to  assume  the  authority,  without  the  knowledge 
or  aid  of  Congress,  to  reconstruct  the  rebellious  States.  At 
that  time  he  certainly  did  not  anticipate  estrangement  from  his 
party,  but  it  was  the  first  step  that  led  him  on  and  finally  forced 
him  into  an  attitude  that  made  an  impassable  gulf  between  him 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  301 

and  Congress.  He  was  the  natural  foe  of  slavery,  and  he  be- 
lieved that  if  he  reorganized  the  State  governments  in  the 
South  and  secured  the  adoption  of  the  amendment  to  the  Con- 
stitution abolishing  slavery  he  could  command  the  approval  of 
Congress,  the  recognition  of  his  governments  and  the  admis- 
sion of  the  Southern  Senators  and  Representatives. 

He  appointed  William  M.  Holden  Provisional  Governor  of 
North  Carolina  on  the  2Qth  of  May,  1865;  on  the  I3th  of  June 
William  L.  Sharkey  was  appointed  Governor  of  Mississippi;  on 
the  1 7th  of  June  James  Johnson  was  appointed  Governor  of 
Georgia,  and  Andrew  J.  Hamilton  Governor  of  Texas;  on  the 
2 ist  Lewis  E.  Parsons  was  appointed  Governor  of  Alabama; 
on  the  3Oth  Benjamin  F.  Perry  was  appointed  Governor  of  South 
Carolina;  on  the  I3th  of  July  William  Marvin  was  appointed 
Governor  of  Florida,  and  on  the  Qth  of  May  he  recognized  the 
Pierpont  administration  as  the  government  of  Virginia.  William 
G.  Brownlow  had  been  elected  Governor  of  Tennessee;  Isaac 
Murphy  had  been  elected  Governor  of  Arkansas,  and  J.  M. 
Wells  had  been  elected  Governor  of  Louisiana,  all  by  the  Free 
State  organizations.  Legislatures  were  elected  under  call  of 
the  Johnson  provisional  Governors,  and  Johnson  required  of 
them  that  they  should  approve  the  amendment  to  the  Constitu- 
tion abolishing  slavery  and  declaring  against  the  payment  of  all 
Confederate  State  debts.  There  was  much  hesitation  in  some 
of  the  Legislatures  in  approving  the  constitutional  amendment, 
and  several  of  them  added  to  the  approval  the  reservation  of 
the  right  to  the  State  to  claim  compensation  for  the  slaves,  and 
some  of  them  were  extremely  reluctant  to  reject  all  Confederate 
debts,  but  the  President  was  imperative  in  his  demand  and  they 
were  compelled  to  obey. 

Johnson  had  nearly  eight  months  in  which  to  experiment  in 
reconstructing  the  Southern  States  without  the  intervention  of 
Congress,  and  he  was  entirely  confident  that,  with  the  consti- 
tutional amendment  abolishing  slavery  adopted  and  the  Confed- 
erate debts  rejected,  his  policy  of  reconstruction  could  not  be 
discarded  by  Congress.  He  was  not  generally  or  severely  as- 
sailed by  the  Republicans  for  the  reason  that  none  felt  entirely 
sure  of  the  policy  Congress  would  adopt.  The  question  was 
startling  in  its  novelty  and  appalling  in  the  magnitude  of  the 
issue.  I  saw  the  President  some  time  after  he  had  organized 


302  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

his  State  Governments,  and  he  was  amazed  when  I  expressed 
grave  doubts  about  Congress  recognizing  his  reconstructed 
authority  in  the  States  and  admitting  their  Representatives  to 
Congress.  He  certainly  desired  to  avoid  an  issue  with  the  Re- 
publicans, who  controlled  both  branches  of  Congress  by  an 
overwhelming  majority,  with  the  Southern  States  unrepresent- 
ed; but  when  Congress  met  in  December  the  conditions  in  the 
South  were  such  as  to  strengthen  the  radical  element  of  the 
Republican  party  in  making  aggressive  battle  against  the  policy 
of  the  administration. 

This  was  greatly  aided  by  the  action  of  the  new  Southern 
Legislatures  denying  full  civil  rights  to  the  negroes.  That  these 
Southern  Legislatures  meant  to  be  oppressive  upon  the  negroes 
will  not  be  believed  by  those  who  dispassionately  study  the  then 
existing  conditions.  The  slaves  were  suddenly  made  free,  and 
they  were  the  entire  labor  of  the  South.  The  Southern  people 
believed  that  the  negro  would  be  valueless  as  a  laborer  under 
freedom,  and  their  legislation  that  seemed  harsh  and  greatly 
inflamed  the  North  was  carefully  considered  to  bring  about  the 
best  results  to  both  races.  The  Legislatures  declared  that  an 
idle  negro,  or  one  without  visible  means  of  livelihood,  could  be 
publicly  sold  as  a  vagrant  to  the  highest  bidder  for  the  period 
of  one  year,  with  severe  penalty  if  he  did  not  fulfil  the  bond  of 
the  law.  His  civil  rights  were  also  limited,  enabling  him  to  be 
a  suitor  or  a  witness  only  in  litigation  with  his  own  race.  Such 
were  the  conditions  presented  by  the  reconstructed  Southern 
States  when  Congress  met,  and  the  result  was  an  immediate 
and  irreconcilable  issue  between  Congress  and  the  President, 
as  Congress  refused  to  recognize  the  reconstructed  govern- 
ments and  their  laws,  and  rejected  their  Representatives. 

The  white  people  of  the  South  were  in  the  entire  control  of 
their  respective  State  governments,  and  there  seemed  to  be  no 
middle  ground  on  which  Congress,  the  President  and  the  gov- 
ernments of  the  rebellious  States  could  adjust  their  differences. 
The  question  of  political  control  was  then,  as  ever  before  and 
since,  paramount,  and  the  Republicans  of  Congress  had  to 
choose  between  accepting  the  policy  of  the  President,  or  ac- 
cepting universal  suffrage  and  the  disfranchisement  of  those  en- 
gaged in  rebellion,  to  assure  political  mastery  of  the  South. 
Johnson  was  an  impassioned  leader  and  always  inflamed  rather 
than  tempered  opposition.  He  was  aggressive  and  tempestu- 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  $03 

ous  In  his  assaults  upon  those  who  differed  with  him,  and  in 
a  little  time  it  became  evident  to  the  Republicans  that  Republi- 
can control  in  the  South  could  be  maintained  only  by  universal 
suffrage  and  disfranchising  the  great  mass  of  the  property  own- 
ers in  those  States.  There  were  many  prominent  Republicans 
who  hesitated  long  at  accepting  universal  negro  suffrage,  with 
disfranchisement  of  nearly  all  the  intelligent  voters  of  the  South- 
ern States,  but  all  were  compelled  to  choose  between  accepting 
the  policy  of  Congress  and  the  policy  of  the  President,  and  with 
few  exceptions  they  were  marshaled  in  solid  columns. 

They  provided  for  elections  in  all  the  States,  under  the  direc- 
tion of  the  military  commander,  giving  the  negroes  the  right 
of  suffrage,  requiring  all  voters  to  take  the  oath  of  allegiance, 
and  thus  founded  what  was  known  as  the  "carpet-bag"  rule  of 
the  reconstructed  States.  It  was  an  inviting  field  for  political 
adventurers  from  the  North,  who  were  aided  by  a  very  small 
proportion  of  the  more  mercenary  element  of  the  whites  in  the 
South,  and  for  nearly  a  decade  this  rule  ran  riot  in  profligacy, 
theft  and  the  most  violent  prostitution  of  authority.  The  dark 
chapter  of  this  reign  is  written  in  the  annals  of  the  Republic, 
and  need  not  be  repeated  here.  It  was  maintained  by  violent 
political  methods  until  1876,  when  its  overthrow  was  dated  by 
the  Republicans  being  compelled  to  surrender  the  State  gov- 
ernments of  Louisiana,  Florida  and  South  Carolina  to  assure 
peaceable  submission  to  the  inauguration  of  President  Hayes. 

Thus  the  South,  after  having  suffered  all  the  fearful  desola- 
tion of  four  years  of  war,  utterly  impoverished,  with  its  wasted 
fields  and  its  silent  shops,  was  compelled  to  suffer  for  eight 
years  or  more  a  political  mastery  that  was  worse  than  war  in  all 
save  the  sacrifice  of  life.  But  for  this  sad  episode  in  the  history 
of  reconstruction  the  Southern  States  would  have  advanced 
rapidly  in  the  development  of  their  industries  and  trade,  and  it 
is  a  high  tribute  to  the  courage  and  patience  of  the  Southern 
people  that,  after  being  halted  for  nearly  half  a  generation  by 
war  and  reconstruction  misrule,  they  have  rapidly  regained  their 
prosperity,  and  today  some  of  them  are  not  only  richer  than 
ever  before,  but  the  men  who  wore  the  blue  and  the  gray  in 
deadly  conflict  with  each  other  stood  side  by  side  under  a  com- 
mon flag  in  our  recent  war  with  Spain,  and  the  victory  achieved 
was  as  heartily  cheered  and  blessed  in  the  homes  of  the  South 
as  in  the  homes  of  the  North, 


JAMES    L.    ORR. 

James  L.  Orr,  of  South  Carolina,  was  one  of  the  ablest  of  the 
Southern  leaders  for  a  decade  before  the  civil  war,  when  he 
served  in  Congress,  and  he  had  a  very  important  part  in  the 
reorganization  and  final  reconstruction  of  the  State  after  the 
overthrow  of  the  Rebellion.  He  was  one  of  the  few  able  na- 
tional leaders  who,  while  heartily  sympathizing  with  the  South 
and  sincerely  devoted  to  all  Southern  interests,  was  not  blinded 
by  sectional  passion,  and  well  understood  that  secession  meant 
war  and  that  war  meant  destruction.  He  was  thoroughly  hon- 
est and  patriotic  in  all  his  purposes  and  actions;  thoroughly 
commanded  the  confidence  of  the  Southern  Democrats  before 
the  war,  and  of  the  Southern  leaders  during  the  existence  of  the 
Confederacy  (when  he  served  uninterruptedly  in  the  Confed- 
erate Senate)  and  of  all  parties — carpetbaggers,  adventurers  and 
radical  Southerners — in  the  many  bitter  and  desperate  conflicts 
in  his  State  which  attended  reconstruction. 

Orr  was  born  in  Craytonville,  South  Carolina,  May  12,  1822. 
He  was  of  the  old  Scotch-Irish  stock  that  emigrated  southward 
from  Pennsylvania  and  gave  the  three  counties  of  South  Caro- 
lina in  which  they  settled  the  names  of  Chester,  Lancaster  and 
York.  While  he  was  a  South  Carolinian  by  birth,  education, 
affinity  and  interest,  he  was  born  and  reared  in  the  western  val- 
leys of  the  State,  which  are  shadowed  by  the  mountains,  and 
while  slaves  existed  there  they  were  comparatively  few  in  num- 
ber, and  labor  in  the  shop  and  field  was  not  regarded  as  degrad- 
ing to  the  white  man,  while  in  the  central  and  eastern  part  of 
the  State  the  slave  population  largely  predominated  over  the 
whites.  He  did  not  inherit  fortune,  but  by  care  and  frugality 
he  attained  a  collegiate  education,  graduating  at  the  University 
of  Virginia  in  1842.  'He  then  studied  law  and  located  at  Ander- 
son, among  his  old  neighbors,  to  practice  his  profession,  where 
he  established  and  edited  a  village  paper  entitled  The  Gazette. 
When  but  twenty-two  years  of  age  he  was  elected  to  the  Legis- 
(304) 


COLONEL  A.   K.   McCLURE. 
Taken  in    1870. 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  305 

lature  and  first  attracted  general  attention  by  his  earnest  and 
able  denunciation  of  nullification,  that  was  then  a  lingering  issue 
in  the  State.  Four  years  later  he  was  elected  to  Congress,  and 
his  first  contest  was  opposed  by  a  more  radical  Southerner,  but 
Orr  was  elected  by  a  decided  majority.  He  was  re-elected 
at  the  four  following  consecutive  elections  without  op- 
position, and  in  December,  1857,  when  entering  upon  his 
last  Congressional  term,  he  was  chosen  Speaker,  after  having 
been  unanimously  nominated  by  the  Democrats.  He  thus 
served  in  Congress  during  the  bitter  contest  for  the  repeal  of 
the  Missouri  Compromise  and  the  desperate  struggles  later 
made  over  the  Kansas  issue,  but  he  was  always  conservative 
and  sought  to  exercise  a  wholesome  restraining  influence  upon 
the  blind  leaders  of  slavery  who  led  it  to  its  final  and  convulsive 
overthrow. 

In  1860  he  was  elected  to  the  Secession  Convention  of  South 
Carolina,  in  wrhich  he  earnestly  opposed  the  withdrawal  of  the 
State  from  the  Union,  but  he  stood  almost  alone,  and  when  the 
secession  ordinance  was  adopted  he  yielded  his  own  personal 
convictions  to  the  sovereign  power  of  the  State,  and  when  war 
came  he  was  among  the  first  to  march  a  regiment  of  his  rifle- 
men to  the  support  of  the  Confederate  cause.  Before  he  had 
attained  any  active  military  service  he  was  elected  to  the  Con- 
federate Senate,  where  he  served  during  the  entire  existence  of 
the  Confederate  Government.  He  was  one  of  the  three  Con- 
federate Commissioners  appointed  by  the  State  to  visit  Wash- 
ington in  December,  1860,  to  treat  for  the  surrender  of  the  forts 
in  the  Charleston  harbor,  and  he  was  the  one  member  of  that 
Commission  who  seemed  to  understand  the  magnitude  of  the 
issue  they  were  called  upon  to  solve.  He  was  a  careful  student, 
an  intelligent  observer,  and  he  was  one  of  the  most  genial  and 
popular  of  all  the  Southern  Congressmen.  I  think  it  safe  to  say 
that  he  had  more  acquaintances  and  warmer  friends  among  the 
Northern  Representatives  than  any  other  man  from  the  South, 
and  he  understood  the  North  and  its  resources  and  the  charac- 
ter of  its  people  better  than  any  of  the  madcap  leaders  who 
plunged  the  country  into  civil  war. 

His  career  in  the  Confederate  Senate  was  not  an  aggressive 
one,  as  he  better  understood  the  resistless  trend  of  events  than 
did  most  of  his  associates,  but  he  was  schooled  in  the  doctrine 


306  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

of  the  sanctity  of  State  sovereignty  on  which  the  Confederacy 
was  founded,  and  he  sustained  the  secession  Government  ac- 
cording to  his  best  judgment.  When  the  end  came  and  the 
Southern  armies  were  surrendered  and  their  banners  furled,  he 
at  once  directed  his  efforts  to  the  great  work  of  restoring  the 
people  of  his  State  to  some  measure  of  prosperity.  A  few 
months  after  the  close  of  the  war  he  announced  himself  as  a 
candidate  for  Governor  of  South  Carolina  under  Johnson's  re- 
construction policy.  He  was  known  as  a  liberal  Southerner, 
who  desired  to  heal  the  wounds  of  war  and  restore  the  country 
to  peace,  but  the  more  radical  Southern  element  opposed  his 
election  and  selected  General  Wade  Hampton,  then  the  most 
popular  of  South  Carolina  soldiers,  to  make  the  contest  against 
Orr.  It  was  a  very  earnest  battle  between  these  two  favorites, 
as  both  were  men  of  superior  ability,  ripe  experience  and  per- 
sonally popular,  but  Orr  was  elected  by  less  than  a  thousand 
majority,  and  served  until  the  Congressional  reconstruction  pol- 
icy enfranchised  the  negroes,  who  largely  dominated  in  the 
State,  and  started  the  carpet-bag  rule  by  electing  a  mixture  of 
whites  and  blacks  to  fill  the  important  State  offices. 

When  the  new  reconstruction  policy  was  inaugurated  his 
position  as  a  conservative  Southerner,  opposed  to  the  anti-sub- 
missive policy  of  most  of  the  old  South  Carolina  leaders,  com- 
manded sufficient  respect  for  him  in  the  first  negro  Legislature 
to  elect  him  Circuit  Judge  of  his  district.  There  was  no  negro 
or  Southerner  in  sympathy  with  the  carpet-bag  authority  who 
could  be  given  the  judicial  office,  and  it  was  voluntarily  tendered 
to  Orr,  who  accepted  it  and  rendered  a  great  service  to  his 
people.  The  people  of  property  generally  throughout  the  State 
were  bankrupt,  and  the  debts  contracted  on  the  basis  of  Con- 
federate money,  that  was  no  longer  available  for  the  payment 
of  obligations,  made  the  case  of  every  debtor  hopeless.  Most 
of  them  took  the  benefit  of  the  National  Bankrupt  law  simply 
because  it  was  a  supreme  necessity,  but  in  Judge  Orr's  district 
he  established  the  unwritten  law  that  every  creditor  was  en- 
titled to  recover  from  the  debtor  only  what  was  equitably  due 
him,  and  no  tribunal  in  the  State  -ever  reversed  him. 

I  had  met  Orr  frequently  during  his  ten  years  of  service  in 
Congress,  and  learned  to  know  him  quite  well  when  he  served 
as  Speaker  of  the  House.  The  Speaker's  room  was  then  one  of 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  307 

the  most  delightful  places  to  visit  in  Washington,  and  I  never 
missed  an  opportunity  to  drop  in  and  have  a  pleasant  chat 
where  all  received  the  most  generous  welcome,  but  I  had  more 
intimate  relations  with  him  in  South  Carolina  four  or  five  years 
after  the  war,  when  I  spent  a  winter  at  the  South  Carolina  capi- 
tal representing  important  Philadelphia  railroad  interests,  look- 
ing to  an  air  line  from  Washington  to  the  Gulf.  Judge  Orr  was 
always  a  frequent  visitor  at  Columbia,  and  became  intimately 
associated  with  me  in  important  business  operations.  He  was 
perhaps  the  only  man  then  in  the  State  who  enjoyed  the  confi- 
dence and  respect  of  the  old-time  Southerners,  and  commanded 
the  respect  of  the  carpet-bag  rulers,  although  not  in  sympathy 
with  them  in  any  of  their  radical  or  profligate  measures.  He 
was  a  delightful,  genial  companion,  and  a  most  entertaining  con- 
versationalist. His  knowledge  of  men  and  of  business  affairs 
generally  was  better  than  that  of  any  other  citizen  I  met  in  the 
State.  He  was  straightforward,  honest  and  practical  in  all 
things,  and  I  found  him  invaluable  in  counsel  and  most  efficient 
in  execution. 

On  this  occasion  I  saw  the  first  negro  Legislature.  Robert 
K.  Scott,  of  Ohio,  was  then  in  his  first  term  as  carpet-bag  Gov- 
ernor, and  was  re-elected  in  the  fall  of  the  same  year.  The  other 
important  State  offices  were  divided  between  the  whites  and 
blacks,  and  in  both  branches  of  the  Legislature  the  negroes 
largely  predominated.  Prior  to  the  war  the  old  South  Carolina 
pride  was  centred  in  the  construction  of  its  new  Capitol,  that 
had  been  under  way  for  some  years,  and  was  built  up  to  the 
square  ready  for  the  roof  when  the  war  arrested  its  progress. 
It  was  the  dream  of  the  South  Carolina  leaders  that  it  would 
one  day  be  the  Capitol  of  the  Southern  Confederacy,  and  it  was 
constructed  with  lavish  expenditure.  Its  imposing  columns, 
some  of  which  were  already  in  position,  and  scores  of  others 
scattered  over  the  Capitol  grounds  in  an  unfinished  condition, 
and  the  exquisite  Italian  marble  finishing  ready  to  be  put  in 
place,  foreshadowed  the  grandeur  of  the  structure  when  com- 
pleted. When  Sherman  reached  Columbia  the  sheds  under 
which  the  stonecutters  fashioned  the  work  for  the  building  were 
yet  standing,  making  an  almost  complete  covering  of  work- 
men's sheds  over  the  grounds.  They  were  burnt  during  the 
fire  when  Sherman's  army  was  in  the  city,  and  destroyed  much 


308  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

of  the  stone  work.  The  one  place  to  which  the  old  South  Caro- 
linian would  not  turn  his  eyes  was  to  the  Capitol  that  was  once 
his  greatest  pride,  and  that  then  had  been  hastily  improvised 
with  wooden  roof  and  finishing  to  enable  the  released  bondmen 
to  make  laws  for  their  masters. 

There  were  a  number  of  unusually  able  negro  leaders  in  the 
State  at  the  time,  and  they  could  have  made  a  great  record  for 
themselves  and  for  their  race;  but  they  were  human,  and  should 
not  be  too  severely  judged  for  yielding  to  the  temptations  which 
environed  them.  Profligacy  and  theft  were  in  the  air,  and  the 
slaves  who  had  blacked  the  boots  of  guests  at  the  hotels  filled 
the  chairs  of  Senators  and  Representatives,  and  when  idleness 
and  luxury  seemed  to  be  free  gifts  there  were  few,  if  any,  who 
had  the  courage  to  maintain  their  integrity.  One  was  a  Su- 
preme Judge,  others  were  Circuit  Judges,  and  they  were  repre- 
sented in  every  department  and  ready  to  follow  the  unscrupu- 
lous white  leaders,  who  misled  them  into  the  most  bewildering 
corruption  and  extravagance.  The  negro  was  master,  and  he 
knew  it,  and  the  men  who  led  him  doubtless  knew  that  their 
mastery  must  be  brief;  but  they  expected  to  enrich  themselves 
and  escape  in  time,  leaving  the  negro  the  legacy  of  criminal 
punishment  and  poverty.  One  white  adventurer  who  bargained 
and  won  high  position  from  the  carpet-bag  government  insisted 
that  the  battle  of  1876,  that  resulted  in  the  overthrow  and  sur- 
render of  carpet-bag  rule,  should  be  fought  out  desperately  to 
the  end,  giving  his  reason  that  there  was  "at  least  four  years 
more  of  good  stealing  in  the  State."  The  Governor  was  weak 
and  corrupt,  and  his  weakness  greatly  accentuated  his  dishon- 
esty, as  it  made  him  the  plaything  of  jostling  plunderers. 

Such  was  the  situation  in  South  Carolina  when  I  spent  the 
winter  of  1870  at  the  capital.  The  social  conditions  were  sharply 
defined.  The  old  South  Carolina  pride  naturally  refused  all 
social  recognition  of  the  negro  under  every  circumstance,  and 
they  carried  it  to  the  extreme  of  refusing  recognition  of  all  who 
gave  any  measure  of  recognition  to  the  negro.  An  amusing  in- 
cident occurred  at  Governor  Scott's  first  reception.  Judge  Orr 
was  at  the  same  hotel  with  me,  and  he  was  invited  along  with 
myself,  Mrs.  McClure  and  a  young  lady  who  accompanied  us.  It 
was  not  certain  whether  the  prominent  men  and  women  of  color 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  3°9 

would  be  among  the  guests,  but  it  was  regarded  as  probable. 
Judge  Orr  and  myself  were  both  so  situated  as  to  make  it  pru- 
dent for  us  to  attend  the  reception,  but  the  question  was  what 
to  do  with  the  ladies.  The  Judge  finally  decided  that  he  would 
take  Mrs.  McClure  and  I  should  take  her  companion,  and  that 
we  would  go  early,  and  if  at  any  time  during  the  entertainment 
the  colored  guests  made  their  appearance  one  of  the  ladies  of 
our  party  should  become  suddenly  ill  and  compel  us  to  retire. 
The  arrangement  was  perfected  with  the  ladies,  and  we  went  to 
the  reception,  but  fortunately  no  colored  visitors  came. 

The  Governor  was  a  candidate  for  re-election,  and  he  knew 
that  in  no  way  could  he  give  greater  offence  to  the  whites  of 
the  State  than  to  have  a  promiscuous  gathering  of  blacks  and 
whites  on  a  social  occasion  in  the  Governor's  mansion.  He  could 
arrange  with  the  negroes  and  their  political  leaders,  because  that 
was  simply  a  question  of  interest,  but  he  had  no  way  to  disarm 
the  hostility  of  the  Southern  whites  but  by  excluding  the  blacks 
at  his  receptions.  He  was  re-elected  some  months  later,  and 
after  that  period  the  Governor's  mansion  was  often  the  scene 
of  violent  social  revels  of  mixed  audiences  of  blacks  and  whites. 

The  secession  feeling  was  then  at  white  heat  not  only  in  Co- 
lumbia but  generally  through  the  State.  They  could  stand  de- 
feat when  they  had  given  up  everything  but  honor  in  defence 
of  their  cause,  but  the  advent  of  the  negro  rioting  in  the  Capitol 
designed  to  welcome  the  Government  of  the  expected  Confed- 
eracy and  the  ostentatious  profligacy  of  the  new  rulers  naturally 
aroused  the  bitterest  resentment  among  the  Southern  people. 
Columbia  had  felt  the  most  fearfully  avenging  blow  of  the  war 
next  to  Atlanta,  and  without  the  excuse  of  military  necessity, 
and  the  women  were  implacable  in  their  hostility  to  everything 
of  Northern  flavor.  I  many  times  saw  accomplished  and  refined 
ladies  on  the  streets  of  Columbia  when  passing  a  soldier  on  the 
sidewalk  deliberately  draw  their  skirts  and  pass  as  far  from 
him  as  possible,  to  teach  him  that  the  touch  of  the  uniform 
would  be  contamination,  and  this  was  done  when  no  provocation 
was  offered  by  the  quietly  passing  soldier. 

A  prominent  Columbia  banker,  who  had  become  profitably 
connected  with  the  business  operations  in  South  Carolina,  which 
I  represented,  and  who  had  twice  dined  with  Judge  Orr  and 


310  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

myself  as  my  guest,  when  invited  a  third  time  exhibited  much 
embarrassment,  and,  after  some  hesitation,  said  that  he  could 
not  accept  further  hospitality,  glad  as  he  would  be  to  do  so,  for 
the  reason  that  he  could  not  return  it  at  his  own  home.  His 
wife,  an  accomplished,  refined  and  highly-esteemed  lady,  had 
brooded  over  the  misfortunes  of  the  Southern  people  until  it 
became  an  impossibility  for  her  to  receive  at  her  table  a 
Northern  visitor.  I  understood  the  situation  and  insisted  that 
our  relations  were  purely  of  a  business  character  and  not  to  be 
governed  by  social  conventionalities.  He  was  greatly  relieved, 
and  thereafter  dined  with  us  on  many  occasions,  all  of  which 
were  largely  business  conferences. 

A  more  pointed  illustration  of  this  feeling  among,  the  old  line 
Southerners  was  given  me  by  Judge  Orr  himself.  Near  his 
home,  under  the  shadows  of  the  mountains,  he  had  a  neighbor 
of  the  old  Southern  school,  advanced  in  years,  unable  to  earn  a 
living  after  the  sore  exactions  of  war  had  fallen  upon  him,  but 
when  all  else  had  gone  his  pride  remained  with  even  increasing 
vigor.  His  family  was  helpless,  consisting  wholly  of  daughters, 
and  during  the  last  year  of  the  war  they  were  known  to  be  in 
actual  want.  To  have  offered  him  a  charity  would  have  been 
to  invite  the  business  end  of  his  shotgun,  and  Judge  Orr  would 
occasionally  send  him  a  barrel  of  flour  from  his  mill  and  some 
bacon,  with  a  regular  bill  charging  the  articles  at  the  full  in- 
flated price  in  Confederate  money,  that  was  not  worth  ten  cents 
on  the  dollar,  thereby  enabling  the  old  gentleman  to  receive  the 
flour  and  bacon  as  a  purchase,  although  both  he  and  the  giver 
knew  that  payment  was  never  to  be  thought  of.  This  was  done 
by  Judge  Orr  and  others  for  a  long  period.  Some  four  or  five 
years  after  the  war  Judge  Orr  issued  invitations  to  the  old  gen- 
tleman and  to  his  other  neighbors  to  the  wedding  of  his  daugh- 
ter, who  married  a  son  of  General  Patterson,  of  Philadelphia. 
This  marriage  of  Judge  Orr's  daughter  to  a  Northern  man  gave 
mortal  offence  to  the  chivalrous  old  Southerner,  and  thenceforth 
he  and  his  family  never  gave  any  social  recognition  to  Judge 
Orr  or  his  household. 

Judged  in  the  light  of  the  present,  with  the  sorrows  of 
that  period  entirely  effaced,  this  feeling  of  the  Southern 
people  is  not  viewed  as  generously  as  it  should  be.  The 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  311 

women  of  the  South  were  raised  in  utter  helplessness  and 
were  suddenly  plunged  into  the  most  abject  poverty,  without 
training  to  practical  industry  and  usefulness,  and  while  the  men 
of  the  South  were  brought  into  constant  contact  with  Northern- 
ers in  business  affairs,  the  women  were  left  in  their  impoverished 
homes  to  mourn  over  the  luxuries  which  had  so  suddenly  fled 
from  them.  I  saw  this  illustrated  in  even  so  intelligent  a  woman 
as  Miss  Evans,  -then  the  most  celebrated  of  Southern 
authoresses.  I  once  had  the  pleasure  of  lunching  with  her  and 
her  husband,  Mr.  Wilson,  at  her  pretty  Southern  home  near 
Mobile,  and  while  I  knew  that  the  civil  war  was  a  forbidden  sub- 
ject in  all  social  circles  in  the  South,  I  ventured  to  suggest  to 
her  that  the  great  success  of  her  many  volumes  already  pub- 
lished should  inspire  her  to  write  another  embodying  some  of 
the  more  romantic  phases  of  the  war.  Her  genial  manner  was 
suddenly  changed,  and  with  a  sober  earnestness  that  was  pain- 
fully pathetic  she  said  that  she  never  had  spoken  of  the  war  nor 
read  a  line  relating  to  it  since  the  war  ended. 

Judge  Orr  never  ceased  to  be  an  important  political  factor 
in  South  Carolina,  even  during  the  floodtide  of  carpet-bag  de- 
bauchery. An  effort  was  made  by  the  better  elements  of  the 
State,  including  some  of  the  Republican  leaders,  to  defeat  the 
re-election  of  Governor  Moses,  who,  although  a  native  of  the 
State,  was  the  most  reckless  and  audacious  of  all  the  Southern 
profligates,  and  who  is  now  heard  of  only  as  a  vagrant  in  the 
courts  of  Boston  or  New  York.  Judge  Orr  had  the  courage 
to  go  into  the  convention  and  nominate  an  independent  Repub- 
lican for  Governor.  An  earnest  battle  was  made,  but  all  the 
election  machinery  was  in  the  hands  of  the  most  reckless  rulers, 
and  Moses  was  re-elected.  Failing  to  succeed  in  winning  a 
reform  State  government,  he  decided  in  1872  that  he  could  best 
accomplish  some  good  for  South  Carolina  by  going  into  fellow- 
ship with  the  National  Republican  party,  and  I  last  saw  him 
when  he  was  in  Philadelphia  as  chairman  of  the  South  Carolina 
delegation  in  the  National  Convention  that  renominated  Grant. 

Age  and  tireless  effort  and  consuming  care  had  broken  the 
vigor  of  his  health,  and  his  course  was  bitterly  condemned  by 
many  of  his  old  South  Carolina  friends,  but  no  man  ever  acted 
more  conscientiously  to  serve  the  interests  of  his  people.  Soon 


312  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

thereafter  he  was  appointed  by  Grant  Minister  to  Russia,  and 
was  confirmed  by  the  Senate  without  objection,  but  age  and 
care  had  multiplied  his  infirmities,  and  on  the  5th  of  May,  1873, 
just  two  months  after  he  had  presented  his  credentials  to  the 
Czar,  he  died  in  the  Russian  capital,  and  thus  ended  the  life  and 
efforts  of  one  of  the  best,  purest  and  bravest  of  the  sons  of  the 
South, 


GRANT  AND  McCLELLAN,  THE  AG- 
GRESSIVE AND  DEFENSIVE 
GENERAL. 

The  two  Union  commanders  of  our  civil  war  whose  military 
achievements  have  been  most  discussed  at  home  and  abroad 
were  Generals  Grant  and  McClellan.  Their  qualities  were  dis- 
cussed in  all  the  heat  of  partisan  devotion  among  military  men 
and  recklessly  criticised  in  the  political  conflicts  of  the  country 
during  the  war,  and  for  some  years  thereafter,  as  both  became 
national  political  leaders  as  candidates  of  their  respective 
parties  for  the  Presidency.  From  the  time  that  McClellan 
was  called  to  the  command  of  the  Army  of  the  Poto- 
mac until  the  close  of  the  war  public  discussion  of  his 
qualities  as  a  military  leader  was  constant,  and  usually  exhibited 
all  the  violence  of  partisan  disputation.  It  was  claimed  by  his 
friends  that  he  was  the  ablest  and  in  all  respects  the  most  accom- 
plished soldier  of  the  army,  and  would  have  won  the  restora- 
tion of  the  Union  with  much  less  sacrifice  of  life  and  treasure 
than  was  made  by  those  who  succeeded  him.  President  Lincoln 
was  severely  criticised  by  McClellan's  friends  because,  as  they 
claimed,  the  President  had  failed  to  sustain  McClellan  in  his 
campaigns,  and  thereby  made  the  Administration  responsible  for 
his  failures.  Those  who  criticised  McClellan's  military  record 
believed  and  declared  that  he  was  heartily  supported  by  the 
President,  and  that  his  failure  as  a  military  commander  was  the 
result  of  his  own  lack  of  aggressive  qualities.  Grant,  on  the 
other  hand,  was  discussed  by  the  friends  of  McClellan  as  a 
reckless  military  leader,  who  won  his  victories  by  wanton  sacri- 
fice of  the  lives  of  his  soldiers,  while  the  friends  of  the  Admin- 
istration heartily  sustained  Grant  because  he  met  the  hunger 
cry  of  the  nation  for  battle  and  victory. 

Both  of  these  two  military  leaders  rendered  a  very  high  meas- 
ure of  service  to  the  cause  of  the  Union,  and  each  stood  out 

(313) 


3*4  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

single  and  pre-eminent  from  all  the  other  Union  generals  in  the 
particular  qualities  which  each  possessed.  They  were  entirely 
unlike  in  purpose  and  methods  as  military  commanders.  Grant 
was  the  most  aggressive  of  all  the  generals  who  led  the  Union 
army  in  the  field,  while  McClellan  was  a  most  accomplished 
organizer  of  armies,  and  the  best  defensive  commander  in  all  the 
long  list  of  Union  officers  whose  stars  brightened  or  paled 
during  the  bloody  struggle.  Grant  never  fought  but  one  de- 
fensive battle,  and  in  that  he  was  defeated  and  lost  his  com- 
mand. This  was  at  Shiloh,  where  he  had  taken  position  with- 
out expecting  immediate  attack  and  was  awaiting  the  arrival 
of  Buell,when  General  Sidney  Johnston  hurled  an  overwhelming 
force  against  Grant  and  drove  Grant's  army  from  the  field  to 
the  line  of  the  river,  but  Johnston  fell  in  the  conflict  and  Buell 
arrived  with  re-enforcem-ents  in  the  evening.  He  promptly  made 
his  dispositions  to  resume  the  battle  aggressively  at  daylight, 
and  Grant  was  then  in  his  favorite  attitude  as  a  fighter  and 
routed  Beauregard  before  the  close  of  the  day;  but  Halleck  was 
ordered  to  the  field  and  relieved  Grant  of  command.  McClellan 
never  fought  but  one  aggressive  battle,  and  that  was  at  Antie- 
tam,  where  he  should  have  fought  one  day  earlier,  and  thereby 
would  have  met  Lee  with  nearly  one-third  of  his  army  under 
Jackson  away  from  the  field.  By  that  one  day's  delay  Jackson 
reached  the  field  and  fought  McClellan  with  the  sixty  or  more 
guns  he  had  captured  with  some  10,000  men  at  Harper's  Ferry. 
Grant  was  the  ablest  and  boldest  of  all  our  aggressive  generals, 
while  McClellan  was  the  ablest  of  the  cautious  military  com- 
manders, and  avoided  aggressive  warfare  unless  invited  by  a 
special  advantage. 

The  military  records  of  Grant  and  McClellan  have  been  care- 
fully studied  by  the  people  of  the  country  and  by  military  men 
abroad.  They  stand  out  distinctly  as  the  great  military  men  of 
our  civil  conflict,  representing  two  entirely  different  systems  of 
warfare.  It  would  have  been  impossible  to  transform  Grant  into 
a  defensive  general,  and  it  would  have  been  equally  impossible 
to  transform  McClellan  into  an  aggressive  general.  Had  our 
condition  been  such  as  to  require  the  severe  husbanding  of  re- 
sources and  avoiding  battle  excepting  when  special  opportunity 
for  success  was  presented,  McClellan  would  have  been  much  the 
greater  of  the  two  for  the  Union  cause.  He  was  a  most  accom- 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  315 

plished  strategist  and  a  thoroughly  trained  soldier;  one  whose 
personal  courage  could  not  be  questioned,  and  his  loyalty  to 
his  cause  was  such  that  if  in  the  line  of  his  duty  his  life  had 
been  demanded  for  the  safety  of  his  Government  it  would  have 
been  freely  given.  He  was  one  of  the  purest,  most  lovable  of 
men,  and  not  one  of  our  generals  approached  him  as  an  organizer 
of  armies.  No  one  but  McClellan  could  have  created  the  Army 
of  the  Potomac  and  fitted  it  for  the  field  in  a  few  months  in  the 
fall  of  1861,  and  the  impress  of  his  discipline  and  thorough  train- 
ing was  plainly  manifested  in  every  struggle  the  Army  of  the 
Potomac  had  until  it  was  crowned  with  final  victory  at  Appo- 
mattox. 

McClellan  was  universally  beloved  by  his  soldiers,  and  in  all 
the  many  changes  made  in  the  Army  of  the  Potomac  no  one 
ever  commanded  the  affection  of  the  rank  and  file  as  he  did;  and 
when  the  army  was  driven  in  confusion  by  the  second  battle  of 
Bull  Run  into  the  intrenchments  at  Washington  no  other  one 
of  our  generals  could  have  taken  it  in  hand  and  at  once  restored 
its  order  and  discipline  and  marched  it  to  battle  at  Antietam.  The 
chief  secret  of  the  devotion  of  the  army  to  McClellan  was  the 
absolute  confidence  of  the  men  that  he  would  not  plunge  them 
into  needless  sacrifice.  The  battle  of  Antietam  was  one  of  the 
bloodiest  conflicts  of  the  war,  but  no  part  of  the  army  ever  hesi- 
tated for  a  moment  to  go  into  the  deadliest  strife  when  they 
knew  it  was  McClellan's  order.  Had  Grant  commanded  at 
Antietam  he  would  have  fought  the  battle  a  day  earlier  than 
McClellan  did,  and  the  fighting  would  not  have  stopped  until 
Lee  had  escaped  across  the  Potomac  with  the  shattered  rem- 
nants of  his  army. 

It  was  McClellan's  misfortune  that  the  conditions  under  which 
the  Government  was  placed  in  our  civil  war  demanded  different 
methods  of  warfare  and  greater  sacrifices  of  life  than  he  was 
prepared  to  accept.  He  would  have  been  a  great  Confederate 
general,  where  defensive  warfare  was  a  necessity,  and  where 
battle  should  be  given  only  where  the  superior  numbers  of  the 
enemy  were  neutralized  by  conditions.  Had  he  been  in  com- 
mand the  bloody  and  fruitless  charges  made  by  Grant  at  Vicks- 
burg  and  Cold  Harbor,  by  Sherman  at  Kenesaw  Mountain  and 
by  Burnside  at  Fredericksburg  would  have  been  unknown  in 
the  history  of  the  war.  He  was  a  tireless  student  of  everything 


COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

relating  to  war,  and  he  planned  and  fought  every  battle  strictly 
in  accord  with  the  theories  of  military  text  books.  His  birth 
and  training  were  alike  against  the  development  of  aggressive 
methods.  He  was  born  to  fortune,  reared  in  luxury  and  had 
little  of  that  attrition  with  the  world  that  fits  youth  for  develop- 
ment into  aggressive  men.  Had  he  been  a  barefoot  alley  boy, 
trained  to  tag  and  marbles  and  jostling  his  way  in  the  world, 
his  splendid  abilities,  with  the  opportunity  he  had  for  military 
culture,  would  have  made  him  more  reliant  upon  himself  and 
less  dependent  upon  military  theories.  M'cClellan  was  more 
distinctly  a  defensive  general  than  any  of  the  leading  military 
men  on  either  side  of  our  civil  war,  and  he  would  doubtless 
have  achieved  eminent  success  if  he  had  been  in  command  of 
the  Confederate  army;  but  the  Union  army  required  just  the 
opposite  qualities  in  its  military  men.  They  were  compelled  to 
fight  aggressively,  and  in  such  a  war  only  aggressive  generals 
could  achieve  great  success. 

President  Lincoln  has  been  severely  censured  by  the  friends 
of  McClellan  as  responsible  for  McClellan's  failure  in  his  Penin- 
sula campaign,  and  most  of  them  yet  believe  that  Lincoln  did 
not  give  a  faithful  support  to  McClellan  in  his  military  move- 
ments. This  imputation  upon  Lincoln  I  know  to  be  unwar- 
ranted. I  many  times  heard  him  discuss  McClellan,  and  I  am 
sure  that  McClellan  himself  was  not  more  anxious  for  success 
in  his  Richmond  campaign  than  was  Lincoln.  He  had  become 
impatient  with  McClellan  because  of  his  failure  to  move  upon 
Manassas  in  the  late  fall  of  1861,  when  the  roads  were  exception- 
ally fine,  and  he  finally  reluctantly  yielded  to  McClellan's  plan 
of  attacking  Richmond  by  the  Peninsula.  Public  and  political 
pressure  against  McClellan  had  become  very  strong,  and  a  ma- 
jority of  the  Cabinet  officers  had  lost  all  confidence  in  him  as  a 
commander  and  desired  his  removal,  but  Lincoln  refused  to 
entertain  the  question.  He  yielded  to  the  opposition  to  Mc- 
Clellan on  the  nth  of  March,  1862,  to  the  extent  of  practically 
removing  McClellan  as  commander-in-chief  and  limiting  his 
command  to  the  Army  of  the  Potomac.  As  McClellan  was  in 
the  field,  he  had  little  opportunity  to  study  military  conditions 
in  other  departments,  which  furnished  a  plausible  excuse  for 
limiting  his  authority,  but  I  speak  advisedly  when  I  say  that 
Lincoln  most  sincerely  hoped  that  McClellan  would  make  a 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  317 

successful  campaign,  capture  Richmond  and  thus  prove  his  just 
claim  to  be  restored  as  commander-in-chief. 

Had  his  campaign  been  successful,  Lincoln  would  surely  have 
restored  McClellan.  He  did  not  fill  the  position  until  exactly 
four  months  after  McClellan  had  been  removed  from  it,  and  then 
he  did  it  under  great  provocation.  Lincoln  visited  McClellan 
at  his  headquarters  on  the  James  after  the  Seven  Days'  Battles, 
and  a  week  or  more  after  McClellan,  in  a  communication  to 
Secretary  Stanton,  said:  "If  I  save  this  army  now,  I  tell  you 
plainly  that  I  owe  no  thanks  to  you  or  to  any  other  persons  in 
Washington.  You  have  done  your  best  to  sacrifice  this  army." 
Any  other  President  than  Lincoln  would  have  dismissed  a  gen- 
eral who  thus  accused  the  President  and  the  Secretary  of  War, 
but  Lincoln  never  yielded  to  resentment.  When  he  visited  Mc- 
Clellan on  the  James,  McClellan  handed  him  an  elaborate  letter 
severely  criticising  both  the  military  and  the  political  policy  of 
the  Administration.  This  letter  was  delivered  to<  the  President 
in  person  by  McClellan,  and  the  President  read  it,  placed  it  in  his 
pocket,  and  made  no  reference  to  it  whatever;  but  four  days 
thereafter,  when  the  position  had  been  vacant  for  precisely  four 
months,  Lincoln  appointed  Halleck  as  commander-in-chief. 

When  the  armies  of  Pope  and  McClellan  were  driven  into  the 
intrenchments  at  Washington  after  the  second  battle  of  Bull 
Run,  Lincoln  well  understood  that  McClellan  was  the  most  ac- 
complished defensive  general  in  the  army,  and  in  disregard  of 
the  views  of  every  member  of  his  Cabinet  he  personally  visited 
McClellan  at  his  home  and  asked  him'  to  take  command  of  the 
defenses  at  Washington,  which  placed  McClellan  again  in  com- 
mand of  the  army.  That  was  just  an  occasion  for  McClellan's 
best  qualities  to  be  exhibited  to  the  best  advantage.  His  restora- 
tion to  command  speedily  brought  order  out  of  chaos  in  the 
army,  and  Washington  was  safe  from  the  hour  that  he  was  in 
charge  of  its  defense.  When  Lee  crossed  into  Maryland  Mc- 
Clellan waited  for  orders,  but  received  none.  Lincoln  issued  no 
orders,  for  the  reason  that  he  preferred  that  McClellan  should 
follow  Lee  without  any  special  orders  from  the  Government,  and 
McClellan  did  so.  After  the  battle  of  Antietam  Lincoln  was 
again  very  much  discouraged  by  McClellan's  failure  to  advance 
into  Virginia,  and  the  many  letters  he  wrote  to  him  which  have 
been  given  to  the  public  show  how  sincerely  desirous  he  was  to 


318  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

aid  McClellan  to  victory.  Lincoln  finally  reached  the  point  that 
he  believed  it  necessary  to  relieve  McClellan  of  command,  and 
he  did  it  only  after  long  hesitation  and  earnest  appeals,  pointing 
out  strategic  movements  which  should  be  accepted,  with  the  dis- 
tinctness of  a  thoroughly  trained  military  officer,  and  McClel- 
land military  career  ended  on  the  5th  of  November,  1862,  when 
he  was  ordered  to  report  at  Trenton  for  further  orders,  and  was 
never  again  recalled  to  a  command. 

In  the  spring  of  1863  Hooker  suffered  a  most  humiliating 
defeat  at  Chancellorsville,  and  the  Army  of  the  Potomac  had 
little  to  inspire  it  with  hope  of  victory.  It  had  been  defeated  on 
the  peninsula;  it  had  been  defeated  at  the  second  Bull  Run;  it 
had  a  drawn  battle  at  Antietam;  it  had  been  defeated  at 
Fredericksburg,  and  defeated  at  Chancellorsville.  It  had 
not  a  single  decisive  victory  to  its  credit.  Lee  con- 
centrated the  largest  army  that  ever  marched  under  the 
stars  and  bars,  and  moved  into  Pennsylvania,  where  the  decisive 
battle  of  the  war  was  fought  at  Gettysburg.  There  was  uni- 
versal consternation  in  Southern  Pennsylvania  east  of  the  moun- 
tains. Lee's  army  penetrated  Chambersburg  with  incursions  to 
Carlisle  and  York,  while  Hooker's  army  was  spread  across 
Maryland,  with  Frederick  as  a  centre,  extending  its  line  nearly 
.thirty  miles,  to  be  prepared  for  Lee  if  he  moved  down  the  Cum-: 
berland  valley  to  Baltimore  and  Washington,  or  if  he  moved 
directly  upon  Washington  on  the  line  of  the  Potomac.  Three 
days  before  the  battle  of  Gettysburg  Hooker  resigned,  and 
Meade  was  appointed  to  succeed  him.  I  was  at  Harrisburg  in 
charge  of  the  Military  Department,  and  we  were  for  days  after 
Lee  entered  Pennsylvania  without  any  definite  information  as  to 
the  positions  of  the  two  armies.  Philadelphia  was  naturally 
apprehensive  that  Lee  might  move  directly  upon  the  city,  and 
telegrams,  letters  and  committees  pressed  upon  Governor  Cur- 
tin  to  call  for  the  restoration  of  McClellan  to  the  command  of 
the  army.  Outside  of  mere  partisan  political  circles  the  senti- 
ment of  the  people  of  Philadelphia  was  strongly  in  favor  of 
restoring  McClellan  to  the  command,  and  the  business  interests 
were  most  importunate  on  the  subject.  I  was  sent  by  Governor 
Curtin  to  Philadelphia  to  confer  with  a  number  of  prominent 
men  on  the  subject,  and  after  a  conference  with  a  large  number 
of  leading  business  men,  among  whom  were  Mayor  Henry,, 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  319 

President  Thomson-  and  Vice-President  Scott,  of  the  Pennsyl- 
vania Railroad,  I  sent  a  dispatch  to  Lincoln  expressing  the  views 
of  the  .business  interests  of  the  city,  and  earnestly  urging  that 
McClellan  be  placed  in  command  of  the  army.  I  did  so  because 
I  knew  that  .the  army  was  discouraged  and  somewhat  demoral- 
ized by  a  succession  of  defeats;  that  McClellan  would  inspire 
more  confidence  among  the  soldiers  than  any  other  commander, 
and  because  I  believed  that  McClellan  was  the  most  accom- 
plished and  skillful  defensive  general  of  the  entire  army.  Lin- 
coln promptly  sent  the  following  dispatch  in  reply: 

"WAR  DEPARTMENT,  WASHINGTON  CITY, 

"June  30,  1863. 
"A.  K.  McCLURE,  Philadelphia: 

"Do  we  gain  anything  by  opening  one  leak  to  stop  another?  Do  we 
gain  anything  by  quieting  one  clamor  merely  to  open  another  and  probably 
a  larger  one? 

"A.  LINCOLN." 

The  answer  was  quaint  but  conclusive.  Lincoln  doubtless 
knew  much  better  than  I  did  the  obstacles  to  McClellan's 
restoration  to  command,  the  chief  of  which  was  that  McClellan 
had  then  become  an  important  political  factor,  and  however 
willing  Lincoln  might  have  been  to  intrust  the  command  of  the 
army  to  McClellan  at  Gettysburg,  he  could  not  have  made  the 
assignment  without  an  open  rupture  with  the  Cabinet  and  Con- 
gress. I  then  believed,  and  I  now  believe,  that  no  man  in  our 
army  would  have  met  Lee  with  greater  skill  than  McClellan  had 
he  been  placed  in  command,  but  the  battle  would  not  have  been 
fought  at  Gettysburg.  He  would  have  held  his  army  as  com- 
pactly in  hand  as  possible,  and  never  would  have  allowed  the 
battle  to  begin  when  it  required  two  days  of  hard  marching  to 
get  the  entire  army  on  the  field.  Meade  adopted  the  better 
method,  as  the  result  proved,  but  McClellan  would  have  adopted 
the  safer  method,  and,  being  on  the  defensive,  could  have  chosen 
his  battlefield. 

No  man  could  command  an  army  in  action  with  greater  pre- 
cision than  McClellan.  I  stood  by  his  side  when  he  fought  the 
battle  of  Antietam,  and  all  went  well  without  confusion  until  the 
crucial  test  came  that  required  McClellan  to  depart  from  the 
line  of  extreme  caution.  I  saw  two  of  Burnside's  aids  at  differ- 
ent times  dash  up  to  headquarters  on  foaming  steeds  and  pre- 


320  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

sent  earnest  appeals  for  re-enforcements,  that  would  have  re- 
quired nearly  or  quite  one-half  of  the  reserve  to  go  into  action, 
and,  after  long  and  painful  hesitation,  he  refused.  He  fought 
that  battle  from  the  single  standpoint  of  protecting  Washing- 
ton, while  Grant  would  have  fought  it  to  destroy  Lee's  army. 
McClellan  believed  himself  outnumbered  on  the  field,  in  which 
he  was  greatly  deceived,  and  that  strengthened  him  in  refusing 
to  take  any  risk  of  defeat.  Antietam  was  his  last  battle,  the 
only  one  in  which  he  was  tactically  aggressive,  and  it  clearly 
demonstrated  the  limitations  of  a  trained  defensive  general  when 
called  upon  to  be  both  strategically  and  tactically  aggressive. 
He  was  not  equal  to  such  a  campaign  any  more  than  Grant 
would  have  been  equal  to  a  strictly  defensive  campaign. 

I  have  said  that  McClellan  would  have  made  one  of  the  most 
successful  Confederate  generals  because  of  the  different  con- 
ditions. Had  Grant  been  a  Confederate  soldier  he  would  prob- 
ably have  developed  into  a  great  lieutenant  of  the  type  of  Stone- 
wall Jackson,  but  had  he  been  in  command  of  a  Confederate 
army  his  aggressive  qualities  would  not  have  prevented  him 
from  fighting  against  odds  and  advantages,  and  he  would  have 
been  a  failure.  The  one  soldier  of  the  two  armies  who  had  the 
best  mingling  of  aggressive  and  defensive  qualities  in  military 
campaigns  was  General  Lee.  Grant  was  pre-eminently  the  ag- 
gressive chieftain  of  the  war,  and  all  the  conditions  of  the  con- 
flict were  in  his  favor.  It  was  the  policy  of  the  Confederates  to 
exhaust  and  discourage  the  North  by  avoiding  decisive  battle, 
and  when  fighting  to  fight  under  the  greatest  possible  advan- 
tages, but  after  two  years  of  war,  when  the  country  was  pre- 
pared to  accept  the  fearful  sacrifice  necessary  to  triumph  over 
the  Confederate  armies,  Grant  was  the  logical  leader,  and  he 
was  much  more  than  a  mere  stubborn  fighter.  He  was  a  great 
general,  and  he  fought  from  the  start  on  a  different  theory  from 
that  of  McClellan.  McClellan  planned  the  capture  of  Richmond 
and  other  leading  strategic  points  in  the  Confederacy,  but  Grant 
had  only  one  objective  point  in  all  his  campaigns,  and  that  was 
the  Confederate  army.  He  captured  Richmond  and  never 
entered  it,  even  after  the  surrender  of  Lee.  His  campaign  in 
Mississippi,  when  he  whirled  his  army  around  to  Jackson  and 
defeated  Johnston  in  the  open  field  to  prevent  the  union  of  the 
Confederate  forces,  was  one  of  the  boldest  and  grandest  strat- 


ll 

2    m 

O 

o 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  321 

egic  movements  of  the  war,  and  his  triumph  at  Chattanooga 
with  Hooker's  romantic  battle  above  the  clouds  on  Lookout 
Mountain  fully  prepared  the  country  to  accept  him  as  com- 
mander-in-chief,  and  not  only  to  accept  him,  but  to  allow  him 
to  fight  it  out  in  his  own  way. 

It  was  then  well  understood  that  there  must  be  great  sacrifice 
of  life;  that  overwhelming  armies  must  be  sent  against  the  Con- 
federates; that  battle  must  be  given  wherever  they  could  be  found, 
and  that  the  ranks  of  Grant's  army  should  be  filled.  He  thus 
accepted  his  commission  as  Lieutenant-General  in  March,  1864, 
with  the  Government  and  the  people  fully  prepared  to  believe 
in  him  and  to  sustain  him.  He  knew  that  he  outnumbered  Lee 
nearly  two  to  one,  and  he  marched  directly  for  Lee's  army, 
fought  the  desperate  and  bloody  battles  in  the  Wilderness  which 
would  have  deposed  a  Union  general  in  disgrace  two  years  be- 
fore because  of  the  terrible  sacrifice  of  life,  but  the  only  word 
that  came  from  Grant  on  that  appalling  battlefield  was:  "I  pro- 
pose to  fight  it  out  on  this  line  if  it  takes  all  summer."  Sadly 
as  the  country  grieved  over  its  fallen  soldiers  in  the  Wilderness, 
it  saw  in  Grant's  dispatch  the  assurance  that  Lee's  army  would 
certainly  be  destroyed.  It  was  the  most  destructive  campaign 
of  the  war,  but,  whether  wisely  or  unwisely,  Grant  never  de- 
parted from  his  purpose  to  fight  the  enemy  wherever  he  was 
found.  Had  he  failed  in  his  campaign  he  would  have  been 
severely  criticised  and  hopelessly  condemned,  but  after  a  year 
of  terrible  suspense  he  closed  the  war  at  Appomattox,  and  the 
surrender  of  Lee  effaced  every  error  of  the  aggressive  warrior, 
and  made  him  accepted  by  the  country  and  the  world  as  the 
Great  Captain  of  the  Age. 


SHERIDAN  AND  JACKSON,THE  GREAT 
LIEUTENANTS  OF  THE  WAR. 

No  war  of  ancient  or  modern  times  developed  so  many  bril- 
liant achievements  as  did  our  great  civil  conflict.  There  is 
nothing  in  Grecian  or  Roman  story  that  surpasses  the  heroism, 
alike  of  the  men  who  wore  the  blue  and  the  men  who  wore  the 
gray.  Both  of  the  great  armies  which  moved  their  vast  hosts 
as  reapers  in  the  harvest  of  death  were  made  up  almost  wholly 
of  volunteers,  and,  although  those  in  important  command  at 
the  beginning  of  the  war  were  educated  soldiers,  some  of  the 
grandest  achievements  of  the  conflict  were  won  by  military 
commanders  who  came  from  the  ranks  of  the  people. 

I  have  in  previous  chapters  spoken  of  Lee  and  Grant  and 
McClellan,  who  will  go  down  into  history  among  the  great 
commanders  of  our  civil  conflict,  and  I  now  propose  to  present 
the  record  of  two  great  lieutenants  of  the  war  who  stand  out 
pre-eminently  distinguished  from  all  of  their  fellow  subordinate 
leaders.  They  were  Thomas  Jonathan  Jackson,  who  fell  at  the 
battle  of  Chancellorsville,  a  Lieutenant  General  in  the  Confeder- 
ate army,  and  Philip  Henry  Sheridan,  who  died  as  General  in 
the  United  States  army.  These  two  men  were  entirely  unlike 
in  general  character,  in  taste,  in  sympathy  and  habits,  and  yet 
each  was  the  complete  counterpart  of  the  other  in  his  own  army. 
Jackson  fell  in  the  spring  of  1863  before  Sheridan  had  begun 
his  great  career  in  the  East,  and  these  two  great  lieutenants 
never  locked  horns  with  each  other.  Had  they  done  so  with 
anything  like  equal  commands  it  would  have  been  the  most 
evenly  matched  struggle  of  the  entire  war,  for  both  possessed 
the  highest  possible  measure  of  skill  as  strategists,  had  equal 
dash  in  action  and  moved  with  like  celerity.  No  commander  in 
the  Confederate  army  ever  approached  Jackson  in  swiftness  of 
movement,  whose  corps  was  known  as  the  "foot  cavalry,"  and 
but  one  man  equaled  him  in  the  Union  army,  and  that  man  was 
Sheridan.  It  was  logical  that  each  fought  the  bulk  of  the  great 
(322) 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  323 

battles  in  which  their  respective  armies  were  engaged,  and 
neither  ever  made  a  false  movement  nor  failed  in  an  important 
effort. 

Both  Jackson  and  Sheridan  graduated  from  West  Point  with- 
out special  honors,  and  neither  was  expected  ever  to  attain  dis- 
tinction. Jackson  was  sober,  ungenial  and  was  more  devoted 
to  religious  and  philanthropic  theories  than  to  war,  although  he 
won  special  honors  as  a  lieutenant  with  Scott  in  Mexico.  He 
proved  there  that  he  was  a  born  fighter  and  never  missed  an 
opportunity  to  engage  the  enemy.  With  his  severe  Presbyterian 
training  among  people  who  made  the  sovereignty  of  the  State 
part  of  their  religion  it  is  not  surprising  that  this  young  soldier 
was  one  of  the  first  to  enter  the  field  when  Virginia  seceded  from 
the  Union.  His  command  was  the  first  at  Harper's  Ferry, 
where  he  remained  to  organize  the  rapidly  gathering  volunteers 
until  Virginia  joined  the  Confederacy  and  Joseph  E.  Johnston 
superseded  him,  leaving  Jackson  in  command  of  a  brigade.  The 
Union  forces  were  outclassed  in  generalship  at  the  first  battle  of 
Bull  Run,  as  their  two  armies  under  Patterson  and  McDowell 
were  kept  divided  by  the  Confederates,  while  the  two  Confeder- 
ate armies  united  against  McDowell  at  Manassas;  and  it  will  not 
surprise  any  one  to  learn  that  the  advance  brigade  of  re-enforce- 
ments that  reached  Beauregard  at  Manassas  just  when  his  lines 
were  broken  was  that  of  Jackson,  and  immediately  engaged  in 
the  conflict.  It  was  Jackson  who  halted  the  retreat  of  the  Con- 
federate forces,  and  when  his  brigade  forged  to  the  front  amidst 
the  scattered  and  demoralized  Confederates  who  had  been  de- 
feated, the  broken  fragments  were  rallied  behind  Jackson  and 
snatched  victory  from  the  jaws  of  defeat.  General  Bee,  one  of 
the  Confederate  officers  on  the  field  whose  forces  had  been 
broken  and  were  in  retreat,  rallied  them  by  pointing  to  the 
Jackson  brigade,  saying:  "See,  there  is  Jackson  standing  like 
a  stone  wall;  rally  on  the  Virginians!"  and  it  was  thus  that  the 
title  of  "Stonewall  Jackson"  was  given  to  the  greatest  of  the 
Southern  lieutenants. 

Jackson  was  in  command  of  the  Confederate  forces  in  the 
Shenandoah  Valley  in  the  early  spring  of  1862,  and  he  was 
charged  with  the  duty  of  holding  as  large  a  Union  force  as  pos- 
sible in  that  section  to  weaken  the  expected  movement  upon 
Richmond.  It  was  his  special  mission  to  keep  the  Union  forces 


324  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

in  the  valley  and  avoid  battle.  He  fell  back  some  forty  miles 
before  Banks,  always  avoiding  a  conflict,  but  when  Banks  re- 
tired toward  Winchester  Jackson  followed  and  gave  battle  at 
Kernstown,  without  achieving  victory,  but  resulting  in  Banks 
recalling  all  his  forces  in  the  valley  again,  when  Jackson  re- 
treated up  the  Shenandoah  to  Swift  Run  Gap,  where  Banks  did 
not  venture  to  attack  him.  This  was  the  beginning  of  one  of 
the  most  remarkable  campaigns  made  by  Jackson  to  be  found 
in  the  history  of  any  war.  Romantic  and  heroic  as  were  the 
achievements  of  Napoleon's  marshals,  not  one  of  them  ever  ap- 
proached the  achievements  of  Jackson  in  his  military  move- 
ments beginning  in  May,  1862,  and  ending  with  his  death  at 
Chancellorsville  one  year  later. 

When  McClellan  moved  to  the  Peninsula  in  his  campaign 
against  Richmond,  McDowell  had  an  army  of  30,000  men  on 
the  Rapidan  threatening  the  Confederate  capital  from  the 
North;  Banks  had  nearly  20,000  men  in  and  about  Harrison- 
burg  to  cover  Jackson's  movements,  and  Fremont,  with  a 
column  of  more  than  half  as  many  as  Banks  had,  was  moving 
toward  Staunton.  Jackson  was  then  charged  with  the  double 
duty  of  holding  all  these  forces  from  the  support  of  McClellan 
and  fighting  them  when  necessary.  His  army  consisted  of  his 
own  command  of  8,000  men,  Ewell's  division  of  about  like  num- 
ber and  Johnston's  brigade  of  some  3,000,  that  was  then  watch- 
ing Fremont.  Jackson  was  thus  surrounded  by  armies  of  more 
than  double  the  number  of  his  command,  and  never  did  any 
commander  exhibit  more  exquisite  strategy  with  the  utmost 
celerity  of  movement,  until  he  had  completely  broken  the  com- 
bination against  him  by  unexpectedly  striking  the  Union  forces 
in  detail  and  defeating  them  in  every  engagement.  He  first 
made  a  rapid  and  circuitous  march  to  the  village  of  McDowell, 
where  on  the  8th  of  May  he  surprised  Fremont's  column,  de- 
feated it  and  so  completely  paralyzed  it  that  it  ceased  to  be  a 
factor  in  his  brilliant  campaign.  He  then  swung  with  equal 
surprise  upon  Banks,  who  had  his  divided  forces  at  Strasburg 
and  Front  Royal.  He  struck  and  overwhelmed  the  Union  force 
at  Front  Royal  on  the  23d  of  May,  and  two  days  later  routed 
Banks  at  Winchester  and  drove  him  to  the  Potomac  with  great 
loss  of  prisoners  and  stores. 

These  brilliant  movements  halted  McDowell  and  forced  joint 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  325 

movements  by  McDowell's  army  from  Fredericksburg,  by  Fre- 
mont from  Western  Virginia  in  Jackson's  rear  and  by  Banks  and 
Sigel  from  the  Potomac,  to  destroy  Jackson's  army.  Thus  on 
the  30th  of  May  Jackson  was  at  Winchester  with  a  force  not 
more  than  half  equal  to  the  three  armies  converging  against 
him.  The  capture  of  his  army  was  confidently  expected,  and 
even  those  who  had  most  faith  in  his  ability  to  meet  an  extreme 
emergency  saw  little  chance  for  his  escape.  I  doubt  whether 
any  commander  in  the  Confederate  army  other  than  Jackson 
could  have  extracted  himself  in  triumph  as  he  did.  He  first 
made  a  rapid  move  to  Strasburg  directly  toward  McDowell  and 
Fremont,  and  threatened  both  until  he  had  disposed  of  his 
captured  stores  and  prisoners.  He  then  retired  up  the  valley 
pursued  by  Shields,  commanding  a  division  of  McDowell's 
army,  and  by  Fremont,  but  he  moved  so  adroitly  as  to  prevent 
the  junction  of  the  two  commands,  and  on  the  8th  of  June  he 
surprised  Fremont  at  Cross  Keys  and  defeated  him.  He  then 
whirled  his  army  across  the  Shenandoah  during  the  night, 
struck  the  advance  of  McDowell's  forces  at  Port  Republic  and 
routed  them  before  Shields  with  the  main  body  could  get  into 
action  or  Fremont  could  arrive  with  re-enforcements. 

The  Union  troops  then  retired  to  the  lower  Shenandoah  to 
formulate  new  campaigns  against  Jackson,  but  they  next  heard 
of  Jackson  as  the  thunder  of  his  guns  echoed  from  Games'  Mills, 
where  his  arrival  turned  the  scale  against  Fitz  John  Porter. 
The  Union  troops  he  thus  forced  to  remain  in  the  valley  out- 
numbered him  more  than  two  to  one.  They  had  no  knowledge 
of  his  wonderful  forced  marches  to  Richmond  until  the  begin- 
ning of  the  Seven  Days'  Battles,  and  Jackson  was  in  the  thick- 
est of  the  fights  during  the  daily  conflicts  which  were  fought  to 
force  McClellan  and  his  army  to  take  up  a  new  base  on  the 
James.  Even  then,  with  all  the  many  forced  marches  and  re- 
peated battles  fought  by  Jackson  and  his  corps,  he  was  detached 
by  Lee  early  in  July  to  return  to  meet  his  old  enemies  of  the 
valley,  all  of  whom  had  been  concentrated  under  General  Pope. 
On  the  Qth  of  August  Jackson  again  unexpectedly  struck 
Banks  at  Cedar  Run  and  defeated  him,  and  in  a  few  days  Lee 
with  the  main  body  of  the  Army  of  Northern  Virginia  joined 
Jackson  in  the  campaign  against  Pope.  In  this  movement 
Jackson  was  again  assigned  one  of  the  most  delicate  and  desper- 


326  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

ate  duties  when  he  proposed  to  move  from  the  Rappahannock 
with  some  25,000  men  and  flank  Pope's  army  on  the  right;  but 
it  was  made  with  his  usual  celerity,  vigor  and  success.  He  not 
only  turned  Pope's  flank,  but  captured  his  headquarters  and 
depot  of  supplies  at  Manassas,  destroyed  his  connections  and 
forced  Pope  to  retire  from  the  line  of  the  river.  He  then  held 
Pope  at  bay,  even  with  the  aid  he  received  from  McClellan's 
army,  until  the  3Oth  of  August,  when  Lee's  army  was  again  in 
line  of  battle  and  the  second  disastrous  battle  of  Bull  Run  was 
fought,  resulting  in  the  retreat  of  all  the  Union  forces  into  the 
intrenchments  of  Washington. 

Lee  moved  from  the  second  Bull  Run  battle  into  Maryland, 
and  it  was  necessary  for  Lee's  safety  that  Harper's  Ferry,  with 
its  70  guns  and  garrison  of  13,000  men,  should  be  captured. 
But  one  man  was  thought  of  for  the  duty,  and  that  was  Jackson. 
He  made  forced  marches  night  and  day,  invested  Harper's 
Ferry,  captured  it  on  the  I5th  of  September,  and  two  days  later 
he  was  on  the  Antietam  battlefield  fighting  McClellan  with  the 
captured  Union  guns  and  munitions.  Without  rest  for  himself 
or  his  troops,  he  was  in  command  of  the  left  wing  of  Lee's 
army  that  in  turn  repulsed  the  assaults  of  Hooker,  Mansfield 
and  Sumner.  One  of  his  divisions,  under  A.  P.  Hill,  did  not 
reach  Antietam  until  the  afternoon,  and  it  saved  the  army  from 
having  its  right  flank  turned  by  Burnside.  At  Fredericksburg 
he  commanded  the  right  wing  of  Lee's  army,  having  been  pro- 
moted to  Lieutenant  General,  and  he  there  repulsed  the  only 
hopeful  movement  that  was  made  by  the  Union  forces  on  that 
bloody  field.  Thus  from  the  1st  of  May  until  the  battle  of 
Fredericksburg,  in  December,  Jackson's  corps  made  more 
forced  marches  and  fought  more  battles  against  superior  num- 
bers and  without  a  single  defeat,  than  can  be  claimed  by  any 
commander  of  modern  or  ancient  warfare.  In  all  these  move- 
ments, with  the  single  exception  of  his  participation  in  the 
Seven  Days'  Battles  in  front  of  Richmond  after  the  first  day, 
he  acted  entirely  independent  of  orders  as  to  the  details  of  his 
action,  and  the  matchless  strategy  that  he  exhibited  was  wholly 
his  own,  proving  that  he  was  capable  of  all  the  great  duties  of 
the  highest  command. 

Jackson  had  opportunity  to  rest  and  recuperate  his  corps  after 
the  battle  of  Fredericksburg  until  the  spring  of  1863,  when 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  327 

Hooker  crossed  the  Rapidan  in  his  advance  upon  Richmond. 
Jackson  was  again  placed  in  front,  and  he  struck  Hooker  on  the 
first  of  May,  when  he  was  emerging  from  the  Wilderness. 
Jackson  at  once  attacked  the  Union  forces  so  vigorously  that 
Hooker  was  compelled  to  retire  and  take  a  defensive  attitude  in 
the  Wilderness,  with  the  Chancellorsville  House  as  his  head- 
quarters. Lee's  position  was  very  strong  for  defensive  battle, 
but  Hooker's  was  nearly  or  quite  equally  strong,  and  Lee  could 
not  attack  with  his  diminished  forces.  It  was  there  that  Jackson 
made  the  boldest,  most  heroic  and  most  successful  movement 
of  the  war.  Relying  upon  Jackson's  swiftness  of  movement  and 
his  ability  to  meet  any  emergency,  he  was  detached  from  Lee's 
army  and  made  a  forced  march  of  some  ten  hours  to  flank 
Hooker's  right.  Late  in  the  evening  he  was  in  position  to  strike 
the  rear  of  Howard's  corps,  and  attacked  with  all  the  impet- 
uosity for  which  Jackson's  troops  were  noted.  In  less  than  an 
hour  he  had  Howard's  corps  broken  and  driven  from  their  posi- 
tion, resulting  in  Hooker's  retreat  across  the  Rapidan,  giving 
Lee  a  complete  victory. 

It  was  in  this  movement  that  Jackson  was  mortally  wounded 
by  his  own  devoted  followers.  After  dark  he  had  gone  with  a 
small  party  outside  of  his  own  lines  to  reconnoitre,  and  on  his 
return  they  were  mistaken  for  Union  soldiers  and  were  fired 
upon  by  the  men  who  worshiped  Jackson.  His  left  arm  was 
shattered  by  two  bullets,  and  after  it  had  been  amputated  and 
his  recovery  was  confidently  expected  pneumonia  seized  him  and 
on  the  loth  of  May,  1863,  the  greatest  of  all  the  Confederate 
lieutenants,  and  the  one  soldier  of  the  war  on  either  side  who 
had  made  the  swiftest  marches  and  won  the  most  victories 
against  superior  numbers  in  the  same  period  of  time,  was  con- 
quered by  the  only  enemy  to  whom  all  mankind  must  bow. 

Had  Jackson  been  at  Gettysburg  on  the  ist  of  July,  as  he 
surely  would  have  been  had  he  then  been  living,  as  he  was  al- 
ways in  the  front  when  battle  was  expected,  it  is  not  unreasona- 
ble to  assume  that  the  result  of  that  decisive  battle  of  the  war 
might  have  been  one  of  the  saddest  chapters  in  the  annals  of 
the  conflict  for  the  maintenance  of  the  Union. 

Sheridan,  who  was  Jackson's  counterpart  in  the  Union  army 
had  not  won  great  distinction  as  a  military  leader  until  Jack- 
son's death.  He  was  a  second  lieutenant  in  the  army  when  the 


COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

secession  movement  began,  reached  his  first  lieutenancy  in 
March,  1861,  and  was  promoted  to  a  captaincy  a  few  weeks  later. 
He  was  buried  in  the  quartermaster's  department  until  May, 
1862,  when  a  Michigan  cavalry  regiment  then  in  the  field  under 
Halleck  happened  to  be  without  a  colonel,  and  the  Governor 
was  finally  prevailed  upon  to  give  a  reluctant  consent  to  the  ap- 
pointment of  Sheridan.  He  speedily  developed  his  wonderful 
military  genius.  At  the  battle  of  Murfreesboro  he  exhibited  the 
highest  qualities  of  a  soldier,  and  also  at  the  battle  of  Chicka- 
mauga,  where  he  came  to  the  relief  of  Thomas  when  Rosecrans, 
McCook  and  Negley  had  left  the  field.  Both  of  these  conflicts 
gave  him  splendid  opportunities  to  develop  his  ability  to  handle 
troops  on  the  battlefield,  and  his  most  important  achievements 
in  both  actions  were  accomplished  without  orders  from  his  su- 
perior officers  and  resulted  in  most  substantial  aid  to  the  army. 
Later  when  Grant  was  assigned  to  the  command  of  all  the 
forces  at  Chattanooga  Sheridan  led  the  charge  at  Missionary 
Ridge  in  the  centre  that  was  directly  in  front  of  Grant,  whose 
headquarters  were  at  Orchard  Knob.  Grant  witnessed  the  as- 
sault and  saw  that  Sheridan  was  the  inspiration  of  the  move- 
ment, made  without  orders,  by  which  the  Union  army,  after 
driving  the  Confederates  from  their  defenses  at  the  base  of  the 
ridge,  followed  them  up  the  hill  and  thus  drove  Bragg  from  his 
position  on  Missionary  Ridge  and  routed  his  army. 

Grant  was  a  careful  student  of  the  capabilities  of  the  officers 
under  his  command,  as  is  shown  by  the  achievements  of  the  men 
who  were  promoted  under  him.  When  he  was  called  to  the 
East  as  Lieutenant  General  to  take  command  of  the  army  he 
surprised  the  War  Department  and  most  of  the  Eastern  military 
men  by  calling  Sheridan  to  command  his  cavalry,  and  he  ac- 
companied Grant  in  his  campaign  from  the  Rapidan  to  Cold 
Harbor.  During  the  terrible  battles  which  Grant  fought  in  the 
Wilderness,  Spottsylvania  and  other  places  the  cavalry  under 
Sheridan  was  constantly  on  the  flanks  of  the  enemy  and  making 
raids  to  demoralize  it.  Like  Jackson,  his  enemy  never  knew 
where  he  was.  One  of  the  most  remarkable  raids  of  the  war 
was  made  by  him  starting  on  the  Qth  of  May  and  lasting  two 
weeks,  when  he  cut  all  the  railroads  that  supplied  the  Confed- 
erate army,  and  in  one  of  his  engagements,  on  the  nth  of  May 
at  Yellow  Tavern,  he  defeated  the  great  cavalry  leader,  General 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  329 

Stuart,  who  fell  in  the  battle.  Again,  on  the  7th  of  June,  when 
Grant  was  at  Cold  Harbor,  he  made  another  raid  to  the  rear 
of  the  Confederate  forces,  destroying  railroads  and  capturing  a 
number  of  prisoners.  Grant  thus  learned  to  appreciate  Sheri- 
dan as  a  man  of  the  highest  strategic  qualities  and  the  boldest 
dash,  with  unfaltering  courage,  and  when  it  became  necessary  to 
send  an  adequate  force  to  drive  Early  from  the  Shenandoah 
Valley  he  assigned  Sheridan  to  that  task,  and  the  history  of  that 
campaign  is  known  to  all  as  one  of  the  most  brilliant  and  suc- 
cessful movements  of  the  war.  He  twice  defeated  Early,  and 
finally,  when  absent  twenty  miles  from  his  command,  and  Early 
had  made  an  unexpected  attack  and  driven  Sherman's  army 
from  the  field  he  made  his  celebrated  ride,  gathered  up  his 
scattered  forces,  formed  them  in  line  of  battle,  rode  in  front  of 
them  himself,  hurled  his  reformed  lines  upon  the  enemy,  and 
not  only  defeated,  but  routed  it,  and  the  valley  was  never  again 
occupied  by  a  Confederate  army.  For  these  victories  Sheridan 
was  promoted  to  a  Major  Generalship  in  the  regular  army. 

It  was  in  the  last  campaign  between  the  two  great  armies 
commanded  by  Grant  and  Lee  that  Sheridan  conclusively 
proved  his  right  to  be  ranked  with  Jackson  as  the  greatest  of  all 
the  lieutenants  of  his  army.  If  Sheridan  had  not  been  with  Grant, 
Lee  would  surely  have  escaped  capture  at  Appomattox.  He 
was  the  one  man  who  was  tireless  in  effort,  thoroughly  skilled  in 
the  intricate  movements  necessary  to  harass  a  retreating  army, 
and  his  courage  at  times  amounted  to  madness.  He  was  the 
fiend  of  battle,  and  he  is  the  only  man  in  the  Union  army  who 
would  have  fought  and  won  the  battle  of  Five  Forks  as  he  did. 
It  was  the  key  to  the  successful  pursuit  of  Lee,  and  Sheridan 
well  understood  that  all  hope  of  capturing  Lee's  command  must 
perish  unless  the  Confederates  could  be  driven  from  their  strong 
defensive  position.  When  he  reached  Five  Forks  in  the  pursuit 
of  Lee's  army  he  at  once  appreciated  that  a  formidable  enemy 
confronted  him  in  a  very  strong  position.  He  immediately 
issued  orders  for  the  speedy  march  to  his  assistance  of  all  the 
troops  behind  him.  He  dismounted  his  cavalry,  seized  the  flag 
and  led  the  charge  himself.  Only  a  Sheridan  or  a  Jackson  could 
have  fought  such  a  battle  or  won  such  a  victory.  With  the 
Confederates  driven  from  their  last  stand  at  Five  Forks  the 
capture  of  Lee  was  possible  with  such  a  relentless  and  swift 


330  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

pursuer  as  Sheridan.  He  had  raided  almost  every  section  of  the 
country  through  which  they  were  marching,  and  understood 
every  opportunity  open  to  Lee  for  escape.  He  was  a  man  of 
extraordinary  physical  vigor,  and,  inspired  by  the  hope  of  a  final 
victory  over  the  army  of  Lee,  he  never  rested  until  Appomattox 
was  made  immortal  in  American  history.  He  had  all  the  fight- 
ing qualities  of  Grant,  with  a  dash  and  ingenuity  that  none  of 
his  fellow-soldiers  possessed.  It  is  only  just  to  the  memory  of 
Sheridan  to  say  that  he  was  the  real  victor  over  Lee  at  Appomat- 
tox, and  he  is  crystallized  in  the  history  of  the  war  as  the  great- 
est of  all  the  lieutenants  of  the  Union  army. 

I  never  met  General  Jackson  and  cannot  speak  of  his  individ- 
ual qualities  from  personal  knowledge,  but  his  character  is  so 
well  known  that  even  his  most  intimate  acquaintances  could 
shed  no  new  light  upon  it.  He  was  the  Cromwellian  soldier  of 
the  war,  the  one  who  always  entered  battle  with  prayer,  and 
who  never  wearied  of  religious  devotion.  I  knew  Sheridan  well. 
He  was  one  of  the  jolly,  rollicking,  big-hearted  class  that  made 
him  a  most  genial  companion  and  delightful  associate  under  all 
circumstances.  Like  Jackson,  he  was  as  modest  as  he  was 
brave.  It  was  most  difficult  to  get  him  to  tell  anything  about 
his  own  part  in  the  war.  I  remember  dining  with  him  soon  after 
his  return  from  the  Franco-Prussian  war,  where  he  was  with  the 
German  army.  I  was  greatly  interested  in  his  observations  of 
the  condition  of  European  armies  and  wherein  they  differed 
from  our  military  methods,  but  when  I  tried  to  get  him  to  tell 
the  story  of  his  famous  ride  from  Winchester  to  turn  victory  in- 
to defeat,  he  was  a  most  reluctant  talker.  I  pressed  many  in- 
quiries upon  him  in  relation  to  it,  but  all  he  would  say  was  that 
when  he  "met  the  boys  they  seemed  to  turn  around  and  go  in 
just  of  their  own  accord."  He  was  made  Lieutenant  General 
by  Grant,  much  to  the  disappointment  of  Generals  Meade  and 
Thomas  and  their  friends,  and  when  on  his  death  bed,  and  only 
a  few  days  before  his  death,  Congress  paid  him  the  high  compli- 
ment of  authorizing  him  to  be  placed  on  the  army  roll  as  Gen- 
eral, and  his  last  official  act  was  his  order  announcing  the  ap- 
pointment of  his  staff.  On  the  5th  of  August,  1888,  the  great 
lieutenant  of  the  Union  army  passed  to  his  final  account. 


GENERAL  WM.  T.  SHERMAN,  THE 
GENIUS  OF  THE  UNION  ARMY. 

Next  to  Grant  and  McClellan  the  military  chieftain  of  our 
civil  war  who  has  been  most  discussed  from  the  standpoint  of 
strongly  opposing  convictions  is  General  William  T.  Sherman. 
Although  he  had  been  retired  from  active  service  in  the  early 
part  of  the  war  because  he  was  believed  to  be  wildly  visionary 
in  military  matters,  his  name  is  now  safely  intrenched  in  history 
as  second  only  to  Grant  among  the  great  military  commanders 
in  defense  of  the  Union.  He  was  born  in  Ohio  on  the  8th  of 
February,  1820,  and  when  quite  young  was  adopted  by  Thomas 
Ewing,  then  one  of  the  leading  public  men  of  the  State,  and  in 
1836,  when  Ewing  was  a  United  States  Senator,  he  indicated 
Sherman  for  appointment  as  a  cadet  to  West  Point.  Sherman 
graduated  in  1840,  and  served  as  a  second  lieutenant  in  the 
army  in  Florida,  Mobile  and  Charleston,  and  in  1846  he  was  in 
command  of  a  body  of  troops  sent  around  Cape  Horn  to  join 
the  army  of  Scott  in  Mexico.  In  1850  he  married  Miss  Ellen 
B.  Ewing,  the  daughter  of  his  benefactor,  who  was  then  Secre- 
tary of  the  Interior,  and  was  promoted  to  a  captaincy,  in  which 
position  he  served  in  St.  Louis  and  New  Orleans.  In  1853,  be- 
lieving that  promotion  would  be  long  delayed  in  the  army,  he 
resigned  his  captaincy  and  became  manager  of  the  branch  bank 
of  Lucas,  Turner  &  Co.,  in  San  Francisco.  In  1857  he  returned 
to  St.  Louis  and  resided  in  New  York  for  a  time  as  agent  for  a 
St.  Louis  house.  In  1858  he  located  at  Leavenworth,  Kansas, 
to  practice  law,  as  he  had  studied  law  during  his  military  ser- 
vice, and  one  year  before  the  war  he  became  superintendent  of 
the  State  Military  Academy  at  Alexandria,  Louisiana.  He  was 
always  frank  and*  outspoken,  and  when  the  secession  movement 
began  in  the  South  he  at  once  declared  his  purpose  to  sustain 
the  Government,  and  resigned  his  position  and  returned  to  St. 
Louis,  where  for  a  brief  period  he  acted  as  an  official  of  a  street 
railway. 

(330 


332  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

When  civil  war  began  Sherman  promptly  offered  his  services, 
and  on  the  I3th  of  May  he  was  commissioned  colonel  of  the 
Thirteenth  Infantry  and  ordered  to  report  to  Scott  at  Washing- 
ton. He  commanded  a  brigade  in  the  first  battle  of  Bull  Run, 
and  exhibited  great  skill  in  the  management  of  his  almost  en- 
tirely raw  troops,  for  which  he  was  commissioned  Brigadier- 
General  on  the  3d  of  August,  and  on  the  28th  of  the  same 
month  he  was  ordered  to  report  to  General  Anderson,  who  was 
then  in  command  of  Kentucky.  Anderson's  failing  health,  and 
his  inability  to  cope  with  the  complicated  political  and  sectional 
troubles  in  the  State,  made  him  ask  to  be  relieved  of  the  com- 
mand, and  Sherman  was  assigned  as  his  successor.  When  Sher- 
man was  charged  with  the  responsibility  of  an  important  com- 
mand he  startled  the  Government  by  his  demand  for  60,000 
troops  to  hold  Kentucky  in  subjection,  and  declared  that  not 
less  than  200,000  men  would  be  necessary  to  overthrow  the  re- 
bellion in  the  Southwest.  On  this  occasion  Sherman  simply 
proved  that  he  understood  the  war  much  better  than  any  of 
the  national  authorities  or  military  commanders.  He  under- 
stood the  South,  knew  what  the  war  meant,  and  his  demand  for 
200,000  men  to  conquer  the  rebellion  in  the  Southwest  was 
vindicated  by  the  fact  that  fully  that  number  of  troops  were 
finally  compelled  to  be  marshaled  to  overthrow  the  power  of 
the  insurgents  in  that  section  and  enable  the  Father  of  Waters 
again  to  flow  "unvexed  to  the  sea." 

Instead  of  calmly  investigating  Sherman's  demand,  it  was  at 
once  assumed  that  Sherman  was  mentally  unbalanced.  I  re- 
member going  into  the  War  Department  in  Washington  very 
soon  after  the  announcement  that  Sherman  had  been  relieved  of 
his  command  in  Kentucky,  and  met  Colonel  Scott,  Assistant 
Secretary,  with  whom  I  was  intimately  acquainted.  When  I 
asked  him  why  the  change  had  been  made  he  significantly  placed 
his  finger  upon  his  forehead,  and  said:  "Sherman's  gone  in  the 
head;  he's  luny."  General  Cameron,  who  was  then  Secretary  of 
War,  had  been  sent  to  Missouri  to  investigate  the  Fremont 
troubles,  and  he  stopped  to  see  Sherman  on  his  way  back.  I 
happened  to  be  in  Harrisburg  when  Cameron  returned,  and 
learning  what  train  he  would  be  on,  and  anxious  to  know 
whether  he  had  accomplished  anything  in  Missouri,  I  hastily 
boarded  his  car  and  had  ten  minutes'  conversation  with  him.  I 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  333 

had  great  confidence  in  his  judgment  when  he  said  that  Fre- 
mont, was  a  failure,  and  would  have  to  be  relieved,  but  I  was 
astounded  when  he  told  me  that  he  had  visited  Sherman  and 
that  Sherman  was  absolutely  crazy.  Cameron  said:  "Why,  Sher- 
man wants  60,000  troops  to  hold  Kentucky,  and  says  not  less 
than  200,000  can  conquer  the  rebellion  in  the  Southwest." 

As  the  Government,  did  not  then  have  260,000  organized 
soldiers  throughout  the  entire  country,  the  demand  of  Sherman 
was  truly  appalling,  and  the  conclusion  was  irresistible  that 
either  Sherman  was  crazy  or  that  we  were  up  against  a  war  of 
whose  magnitude  we  had  no  just  conception  whatever.  Cam- 
eron returned  to  Washington,  reported  that  Sherman  was  "gone 
in  the  head"  and  wholly  unfitted  for  command,  and  Sherman 
was  soon  relieved  of  his  position  in  Kentucky  and  ordered  to 
report  at  the  St.  Louis  barracks.  In  Administration  circles  he 
was  generally  spoken  of  as  a  lunatic,  and  when  it  was  told 
that  he  wanted  a  quarter  of  a  million  of  men  to  hold  the  South 
from  the  Ohio  to  the  Gulf  there  were  few  who  were  prepared  to 
dispute  his  alleged  infirmity. 

Sherman  chafed  around  the  St.  Louis  barracks  for  months, 
doing  what  he  could  to  organize  troops,  but  finally  in  February, 
1862,  Grant  called  for  Sherman,  as  he  knew  him  and  had  faith 
in  him,  and  assigned  him  to  the  Fifth  Division  in  the  Army  of 
the  Tennessee.  His  first  opportunity  to  display  his  ability  as  a 
commander  was  at  the  battle  of  Shiloh,  where  Sherman  com- 
manded the  wing  of  the  army  that  received  the  sudden  and 
overwhelming  shock  of  Sidney  Johnston's  attack.  It  was 
charged  that  Grant  and  Sherman  were  both  surprised  when 
Johnston  delivered  battle,  but  Sherman  always  denied  it  with 
great  earnestness.  I  have  heard  him  speak  of  it  many  times, 
and  he  always  very  positively  refuted  the  idea  that  they  were 
taken  by  surprise.  He  did  not  deny  that  the  attack  was  un- 
expected at  the  particular  time  it  was  made,  but  insisted  that 
they  were  as  well  prepared  for  it  as  was  possible,  but  that  they 
hoped  the  attack  would  be  delayed  until  the  arrival  of  the  Army 
of  the  Ohio  under  Buell  that  was  then  hourly  expected. 

Johnston  had  masked  his  movements  well,  and  suddenly  struck 
Sherman's  command  and  drove  it  from  its  position,  but  the  fight 
was  stubbornly  maintained,  and  Sherman,  although  wounded, 
remained  in  the  field  and  exhibited  admirable  qualities  of  gen- 


334  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

eralship.  Grant's  army  was  outnumbered,  and  was  compelled 
to  fall  back  before  the  overwhelming  force  assailing  it,  but  every 
inch  of  ground  was  desperately  contested  until  night  closed  the 
struggle.  General  Buell  with  his  entire  command  arrived  during 
the  night,  which  gave  Grant  equal  or  superior  numbers,  and 
the  offensive  was  assumed  early  on  the  next  day,  when  Beaure- 
gard  was  defeated  and  his  army  driven  from  the  field.  As  Gen- 
eral Sherman  had  to  bear  the  brunt  of  the  attack,  he  had  his 
first  opportunity  to  exhibit  his  qualities  as  a  field  commander, 
and  he  was  very  highly  complimented  by  General  Grant,  who 
said  in  his  report,  speaking  of  Sherman:  "To  his  individual 
efforts  I  am  indebted  for  the  success  of  that  battle;"  and  General 
Halleck,  who  came  to  the  army  immediately  after  the  battle  and 
thereby  superseded  Grant,  in  his  report  said:  "Sherman  saved 
the  fortunes  of  the  day  on  the  6th,  and  contributed  largely  to 
the  glorious  victory  of  the  7th." 

From  the  time  of  the  battle  of  Shiloh  Grant  always  regarded 
Sherman  as  the  ablest  of  his  lieutenants,  and  in  all  the  many 
campaigns  assigned  to  Sherman  he  never  gave  disappointment 
to  his  chief.  The  relations  between  Grant  and  Sherman  were 
never  strained,  although  at  times  they  differed  as  to  military 
movements.  When  Grant  decided  upon  his  march  from  Vicks- 
burg  around  to  Jackson  to  strike  General  Joseph  E.  Johnston 
and  prevent  him  from  uniting  with  Pemberton,  Sherman  was 
very  earnestly  opposed  to  it.  It  was  the  boldest  military  move- 
ment ever  conceived  or  executed  by  Grant,  and  one  that  in- 
volved great  peril  to  the  army  if  it  failed  to  achieve  victory. 
Sherman  had  several  times  'urged  Grant  to  abandon  it,  but  Grant 
was  immovable,  and  finally  Sherman  wrote  a  protest  to  Grant, 
giving  his  reasons  in  a  respectful  but  very  frank  manner  why  it 
should  not  be  attempted.  Grant  made  no  answer,  but  placed 
the  paper  in  his  pocket,  and  after  his  return  from  the  movement, 
which  he  had  crowned  with  victory,  and  thereby  decided  the  fate 
of  Vicksburg,  he  quietly  handed  the  paper  back  to  Sherman. 

After  the  Vicksburg  campaign  Grant  had  Sherman  brought 
to  his  aid  at  Chattanooga,  where  Sherman's  command  had  the 
bulk  of  the  fighting  on  Grant's  left.  In  that  struggle  he  had 
Hooker,  Thomas  and  Sherman  in  battle  under  his  immediate 
eye,  and  he  was  so  fully  confirmed  in  the  superior  ability  of 
Sherman  as  an  all-around  commander  that  in  the  early  part  of 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  335 

1864,  when  Grant  was  called  to  the  command  of  the  armies  as 
Lieutenant-General,  he  assigned  Sherman  to  the  command  of 
the  second  most  important  movement  of  the  Union  armies  in  the 
campaign  to  Atlanta.  Sherman  had  Johnston  in  front  of  him  in 
that  campaign,  a  general  who  was  equal  to  himself.  It  was  one 
of  the  most  brilliant  campaigns  of  the  entire  war.  There  were 
few  battles  fought  until  Hood  succeeded  Johnston  and  made  his 
ill-fated  assault  upon  Sherman  at  Atlanta.  In  only  one  instance 
did  Sherman  assault  Johnston,  and  that  was  the  only  mistake 
of  Sherman's  campaign.  It  was  at  Kenesaw  Mountain,  where 
Johnston  occupied  a  very  strong  position,  and  Sherman  decided 
to  attempt  to  break  the  lines  of  the  enemy,  but  he  was  twice 
repulsed,  with  great  loss,  and  without  serious  injury  to  the 
Confederates. 

It  was  the  most  brilliant  strategic  campaign  of  the  war,  and 
the  two  opposing  commanders  were  equally  equipped  in  that 
important  science  of  war.  Sherman,  with  his  superior  numbers, 
could  flank  Johnston  and  compel  him  to  retire,  but  it  made  an 
exhausting  campaign,  as  every  mile  that  Sherman  advanced 
increased  his  difficulties  in  procuring  supplies  and  weakened  his 
forces  to  guard  his  lines,  as  it  required  four  months  for  Sher- 
man to  march  from  Chattanooga  into  Atlanta. 

Had  Johnston  continued  in  command  at  Atlanta,  it  is  possible 
although  not  probable,  that  Sherman  might  have  been  pre- 
vented from  capturing  the  city;  but  the  Confederate  Govern- 
ment and  the  Southern  people  generally  became  impatient  over 
Johnston's  many  retreats,  and  when  Sherman  had  his  army  in 
front  of  Atlanta,  President  Davis  visited  his  army  there  and 
relieved  Johnston  of  the  command,  and  gave  it  to  General  Hood, 
one  of  the  most  heroic  fighters  of  the  Confederates,  and  he  was 
appointed  to  the  position  with  the  distinct  understanding  that 
he  was  to  give  battle  to  the  enemy.  Hood  met  the  expectations 
of  President  Davis  by  promptly  delivering  battle  by  a  sudden 
and  wholly  unexpected  assault  upon  General  McPherson's  com- 
mand. His  movements  had  been  well  masked,  and  neither  Sher- 
man nor  McPherson  anticipated  the  attack  until  the  Confeder- 
ates were  upon  them.  McPherson  was  at  Sherman's  head- 
quarters, neither  anticipating  any  immediate  movement  by  the 
enemy,  when  suddenly  the  firing  began  but  a  little  distance  from 
them.  McPherson  rapidly  mounted  his  horse  to  reach  the  field, 


336  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

but  in  a  few  minutes  the  horse  returned  riderless,  as  McPherson 
was  killed  in  attempting  to  reach  his  command.  It  was  on  this 
occasion  that  General  Logan,  a  civilian  commander,  whose  pro- 
motion in  the  military  service  had  been  severely  criticised  as  due 
to  political  influence,  exhibited  great  ability  in  handling  the 
forces  of  McPherson.  Although  largely  outnumbered,  he  held 
his  position,  fighting  desperately  until  re-enforced,  when,  after 
a  bloody  battle,  Hood  was  defeated  and  driven  from  the  field. 
That  conflict  decided  the  fate  of  Atlanta,  and  in  a  few  days 
thereafter  Sherman  was  enabled  to  move  his  forces  in  such  posi- 
tion as. to  compel  Hood  to  evacuate  the  city. 

General  Sherman  was  then  in  a  condition  that  required  the 
exercise  of  the  soundest  military  judgment  to  determine  how 
he  should  follow  up  his  victory.  He  had  Atlanta,  the  gate  city 
of  the  South,  but  he  could  not  remain  to  defend  it,  as  it  would 
simply  bottle  up  a  great  army  that  could  be  supplied  only  with 
the  greatest  difficulty.  It  was  Sherman's  own  conception  to 
take  the  flower  of  his  army  and  march  to  the  sea.  Grant  and 
the  Administration,  after  very  careful  consideration,  approved 
of  the  movement  that  was  then  regarded  as  altogether  the  most 
desperate  venture  of  the  war,  whereas  it  turned  out  to  be  little 
more  than  a  picnic,  as  Sherman  really  marched  to  the  sea 
through  the  richest  country  of  the  South  that  furnished  him 
abundance  of  supplies,  without  meeting  any  Confederate  force 
that  fought  beyond  the  dignity  of  a  skirmish.  His  successful 
march  to  Savannah,  the  capture  of  that  city  and  the  later  cap- 
ture of  Charleston  are  so  prominently  recorded  in  history  that 
all  understand  them.  He  marched  his  army  of  60,000  men  300 
miles  in  24  days  through  the  heart  of  the  Confederacy,  and  had 
abundant  supplies  drawn  from  the  country. 

At  no  time  during  the  war  was  there  greater  anxiety  about 
any  one  army  than  there  was  about  Sherman  during  his  mem- 
orable march  to  the  sea.  No  word  came  from  him  directly 
during  the  twenty-four  days  he  was  on  his  march,  and  the  wild- 
est reports  came  from  the  Southern  newspapers  about  Sherman 
having  been  defeated  time  and  again.  The  War  Department 
was  crowded  every  day  during  the  last  two  weeks  of  Sherman's 
march  by  anxious  inquirers  for  information  from  his  army. 
Finally,  a  day  or  two  before  Christmas,  the  advance  of  Sher- 
man's army  was  signaled  at  Savannah,  and  soon  thereafter  came 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  337 

Sherman's  first  dispatch  to  President  Lincoln,  saying:  "I  beg  to 
present  you  as  a  Christmas  gift  the  city  of  Savannah,  with  150 
heavy  guns,  plenty  of  ammunition  and  25,000  bales  of  cotton." 
For  this  achievement  Sherman  was  made  a  Major-General  of 
the  regular  army,  and  received  the  thanks  of  Congress  for  "his 
triumphant  march." 

Sherman  was  the  most  brilliant  and  versatile  of  the  prom- 
inent Union  generals,  and  I  believe  that  he  may  be  justly  re- 
garded as  the  military  genius  of  all  the  chieftains  on  the  Union 
side.  He  was  not  only  a  great  fighter,  but  he  was  a  great  strat- 
egist, and  he  was  terribly  and  tirelessly  earnest  in  all  his  mili- 
tary movements.  He  was  a  man  of  the  purest  character,  of 
the  sternest  integrity,  and  as  positive  in  his  convictions  as  he 
was  aggressive  in  action.  He  possessed  the  genius  of  adapt- 
ability that  made  him  equal  to  every  emergency,  and,  taking  his 
military  record  from  the  beginning  to  the  close  of  the  war,  it 
exhibits  fewer  mistakes  than  are  found  in  the  record  of  any  of 
his  prominent  fellow-soldiers,  with  the  single  exception  of 
Thomas,  who  never  committed  a  military  blunder,  never  sacri- 
ficed a  command  and  never  lost  a  battle. 

It  was  my  fortune  to  become  intimately  acquainted  with  Sher- 
man, and  I  met  him  on  many  social  occasions.  He  rarely 
missed  a  dinner  of  the  Clover  Club,  and  was  the  favorite  of  all 
the  many  distinguished  guests  it  has  had.  He  loved  convivial 
occasions,  and  was  generally  among  the  last  to  leave.  I  have 
often  sat  wifh  him  until  far  in  the  morning  hours,  after  all  but  a 
few  of  the  dinner  guests  had  departed.  He  had  great  contempt 
for  politics  and  politicians,  resented  with  vehemence  the  sug- 
gestion of  his  name  as  a  candidate  for  President,  and  declared 
that  he  would  not  accept  the  office  if  it  were  voluntarily  tendered 
to  him  by  the  American  people.  Of  course,  he  meant  it,  bu<t 
none  the  less,  like  Grant,  he  would  have  accepted  had  such  a 
contingency  arisen.  On  all  social  occasions  he  was  one  of  the 
most  genial  and  delightful  of  guests,  and  as  long  as  he  was 
physically  able  to  enjoy  the  dance  he  never  missed  an  oppor- 
tunity to  indulge  in  the  waltz  or  cotillon  when  fair  partners  were 
around  him.  Of  all  the  public  men  I  have  known  I  regard 
Sherman  as  the  most  frank  and  free  in  conversation.  He  was 
incapable  of  dissembling,  and  often  blurted  out  the  truth  as  he 


338  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

accepted  it  in  a  way  that  was  not  always  acceptable  to  his 
hearers. 

Sherman  was  the  only  one  of  the  eminently  distinguished  offi- 
cers of  the  Union  army  who  seldom  spoke  kindly  of  the 
Southern  people.  He  was  an  earnest  loyalist;  believed  that  the 
war  for  the  disruption  of  the  Union  was  utterly  causeless,  and 
he  never  ceased  to  censure  the  Southern  leaders  as  guilty  of 
criminal  revolution  against  our  free  institutions.  Considering 
that  Sherman  was  one  of  the  most  chivalric  of  men,  this  feature 
of  his  character  appears  as  a  rift  in  the  lute  of  his  generally 
excellent  attributes,  but  I  have  always  believed  that  his  hostility 
to  the  Southern  people  was  greatly  intensified  by  his  personal 
contact  with  them.  Between  the  soldiers,  as  a  rule,  the  asperities 
of  the  conflict  ceased  when  peace  came,  but  Sherman  in  his 
campaign  from  Chattanooga  to  Atlanta,  and  thence  to  Savan- 
nah, Charleston,  Columbia  and  Raleigh,  came  in  direct  contact 
with  the  local  civil  authorities,  and  aroused  their  fiercest  and 
most  vindictive  hostility  by  his  rigid  enforcement  of  the  rules  of 
war,  as  was  absolutely  necessary  in  conducting  a  campaign  in 
the  heart  of  the  enemy's  country.  His  correspondence  with  the 
local  authorities  of  Atlanta  developed  this  phase  of  his  charac- 
ter with  great  distinctness,  and  while  Grant  would  have  spoken 
with  equal  decision,  but  with  every  possible  degree  of  kindness, 
Sherman  hurled  back  the  complaints  of  the  local  authorities  and 
people  by  reminding  them  that  they  were  responsible  for  wanton 
and  bloody  war  and  must  accept  the  consequences. 

Two  features  of  Sherman's  record  have  been  discussed  with 
great  bitterness  in  the  South.  He  was  denounced  as  a  brutal 
vandal  for  his  destruction  of  Atlanta,  and  it  is  not  surprising 
that  the  helpless  people  compelled  to  give  up  their  homes  to 
desolation  poured  a  floodtide  of  defamation  against  him;  but 
what  could  Sherman  have  done  with  Atlanta?  It  was  the  gate- 
way of  the  Confederacy  and  its  most  important  base  outside  of 
Richmond.  He  had  made  a  summer's  march  to  conquer  it, 
because  its  possession  was  most  essential  to  the  South,  and 
when  he  had  conquered  it,  he  had  to  do  one  of  three  things: 
Remain  in  possession  of  it  and  bottle  up  a  great  army  that 
would  have  required  another  great  army  to  protect  its  line  of 
supplies;  abandon  it  and  give  back  to  the  enemy  all  that  he  had 
fought  for  in  his  campaign,  or  destroy  it  and  thus  secure  the 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  339 

substantial  fruits  of  his  victory.  It  was  a  harsh,  a  cruel  fate,  but 
military  necessity  does  not  take  pause  to  consider  the  sacrifices 
which  at  times  are  imperative  to  attain  military  results. 

The  desolation  that  attended  Sherman's  march  through  South 
Carolina  and  the  destruction  of  Columbia,  the  beautiful  capital 
of  the  State,  have  been  harshly  and  in  some  measure  justly 
criticised  alike  by  the  South,  by  the  country  and  the  world. 
Looking  back  over  the  terrible  destruction  left  by  the  tread  of 
Sherman's  army  in  the  Palmetto  State,  in  the  changed  con- 
ditions of  the  present,  there  is  little  to  offer  in  excuse  for  it;  but 
it  must  be  remembered  that  Sherman  himself  shared  the  im- 
placable resentment  against  South  Carolina  that  was  deeply 
grounded  throughout  the  entire  North  because  that  State  was 
held,  and  justly  held,  responsible  for  precipitating  civil  war,  and 
it  was  the  general  expectation  and  certainly  the  general  desire 
of  the  inflamed  North  that  the  heavy  hand  of  retribution  should 
fall  upon  that  people.  Sherman  was  always  very  sensitive  on 
the  subject,  and  I  have  heard  him  discuss  it  many  times  with 
great  warmth  in  defense  of  his  record.  That  he  did  not  per- 
sonally command  the  destruction  of  Columbia  I  do  not  doubt, 
but  that  his  army  exhibited  a  degree  of  vandalism  that  was 
equaled  only  by  the  Confederate  vandalism  in  Chambersburg, 
as  they  applied  the  torch  to  the  ill-fated  city,  cannot  be  disputed; 
and  the  effort  made  to  charge  General  Hampton  and  his  com- 
mand with  the  responsibility  for  the  burning  of  the  city  because 
they  fired  some  cotton  when  they  evacuated  it  was  made  plaus- 
ible, but  lacked  the  vital  element  of  truth.  I  met  General  Frank 
P.  Blair  soon  after  the  army  returned  to  Washington.  He  had 
commanded  a  corps  under  Sherman  in  South  Carolina,  and 
when  I  asked  him  to  tell  me  to  what  extent  charges  of  destruc- 
tion of  homes  and  property  in  South  Carolina  by  our  soldiers 
were  correct,  his  answer  was:  "Well,  we  left  them  the  wells." 
No  voice  of  protest  came  from  the  North,  and  in  the  fierce 
sectional  passions  of  the  time  any  measure  of  retribution  upon 
South  Carolina  was  welcome;  but  that  record  dims  the  lustre 
of  the  triumphs  of  the  Union  army,  and  I  believe  that  General 
Sherman  himself,  if  living  today,  would  be  in  accord  with  the 
general  sentiment  of  the  North  in  the  wish  that  no  such  chap- 
ter had  been  written  in  the  annals  of  the  republic. 

General  Sherman  succeeded  to  the  generalship  of  the  army 


340  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

when  Grant  became  President,  and  with  the  universal  approval 
of  the  loyal  sentiment  of  the  country,  but  he  could  not  remain 
in  harmony  with  the  War  Department,  even  when  Grant  was 
President,  who  was  his  sincere  friend,  and  changed  his  head- 
quarters to  St.  Louis.  After  his  retirement  he  made  his  home 
in  New  York,  where  he  was  a  favorite  in  every  social  circle 
until  the  inexorable  messenger  came  to  bid  him  pass  beyond  the 
dark  river. 


THE    UNFORTUNATE    COMMANDERS 
OF  THE  ARMY  OF  THE  POTOMAC. 

No  great  army  in  any  modern  war  was  so  unfortunate  in  its 
commanders  as  was  the  Army  of  the  Potomac.  During  the 
four  years  of  civil  war  that  army  had  five  different  commanders, 
exclusive  of  General  Grant,  who  personally  commanded  it  as 
Lieutenant  General  during  its  last  campaign,  and  of  General 
Pope  who  commanded  it  at  second  Bull  Run.  General  Meade 
was  nominally  its  commander  under  Grant  but  he  was  little 
more  than  chief  of  staff.  It  is  marvelous,  also,  that  the  Army 
of  the  Potomac,  the  most  important  Union  army  of  our  conflict, 
exhibited  the  highest  type  of  heroism  on  every  battlefield,  not- 
withstanding the  tendency  to  demoralization  that  necessarily  re- 
sulted from  the  frequent  failure  and  change  of  commanders. 

When,  after  the  bombardment  of  Sumter,  the  Government 
was  compelled  to  face  fraternal  war,  and  troops  were  hurried  to 
Washington,  the  Confederates  were  equally  active  in  prepara- 
tion for  war,  and  it  soon  became  evident  that  a  great  battle  must 
be  fought  at  some  point  between  Washington  and  Richmond; 
and  that  was  then  expected  to  be  the  decisive  struggle  of  the 
war.  When  Patterson  was  marching  with  his  army  to  the 
Shenandoah  Valley,  in  May,  1861,  he  encamped  at  Chambers- 
burg  for  some  days,  and  I  was  intensely  interested  in  the  dis- 
cussion of  the  military  situation  and  the  probability  of  future 
battles,  as  presented  by  Generals  Patterson,  Cadwallader, 
Doubleday  and  Keim,  and  Colonel  Thomas  and  Major  Fitz 
John  Porter,  both  of  whom  became  Major  Generals,  with  Sena- 
tor Sherman,  a  volunteer  aid  on  Patterson's  staff,  who  made  up 
a  dinner  party  at  my  home.  The  only  point  on  which  these 
officers  agreed  was  that  a  battle  would  have  to  be  fought,  but  all, 
with  the  exception  of  Thomas  and  Doubleday,  were  positive  in 
the  conviction  that  one  pitched  battle  would  bring  the  North 
and  South  to  peace  on  some  compromise  basis.  The  one  who 
said  the  least  was  Colonel  Thomas,  then  commanding  the  regu- 

(341) 


342  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

lars  in  Patterson's  army,  as  he  did  little  more  than  modestly  dis- 
sent from  the  views  of  the  majority  as  to  the  magnitude  of  the 
war.  He  was  a  Virginian  and  knew  the  South.  Doubleday, 
who  had  been  in  Fort  Sumter,  and  who  was  an  enthusiast,  sur- 
prised his  fellow-soldiers  by  declaring  that  it  would  be  one  of 
the  most  desperate  and  bloody  wars  of  modern  history;  that  he 
knew  the  South  well,  and  that  they  meant  to  make  it  a  fight  to 
the  death.  He  was  the  first  to  leave  after  the  dinner,  and  when 
he  had  gone  several  leading  officers  ridiculed  Doubleday's  ideas 
of  a  long  and  terrible  war,  and  I  well  remember  the  remark  of 
one  of  them  that  Doubleday  was  a  Spiritualist  and  a  little  gone 
in  the  head. 

When  the  first  army  was  gathered  in  Washington  after  the 
surrender  of  Sumter  to  organize  for  the  defense  of  the  capital 
and  for  an  aggressive  movement  toward  Richmond  Major  Irvin 
McDowell  was  serving  on  the  staff  of  General  Scott  in  the  Ad- 
jutant General's  Department  as  inspector  of  troops,  and  what 
little  organization  was  possible  to  give  to  this  army  of  three 
months'  men  was  given  by  Major  McDowell,  who  had  served 
in  Mexico  under  General  Wool  in  Taylor's  army  and  was  bre- 
veted captain  for  heroic  action  at  the  battle  of  Buena  Vista.  On 
his  return  he  became  connected  with  the  Adjutant  General's 
Department  and  served  in  Washington,  New  York  and  else- 
where, and  on  the  I4th  of  May,  1861,  he  was  commissioned  as 
Brigadier  General  and  assigned  to  the  command  of  the  Depart- 
ment of  Northeastern  Virginia  and  of  the  defenses  of  Washing- 
ton. Two  weeks  later,  after  an  earnest  and  somewhat  bitter 
struggle  between  ambitious  military  men,  he  was  assigned  to  the 
command  of  the  Army  of  the  Potomac,  subject  to  the  orders  of 
General  Scott  as  Commander-in-Chief.  The  struggle  for  the 
command  of  that  army  was  very  earnestly  contested,  as  it  was 
generally  believed  that  only  one  great  battle  would  be  fought, 
and  that  the  officer  who  was  given  command  of  the  army  would 
have  an  exceptional  opportunity  to  win  distinction.  It  was 
understood  at  the  time  that  Secretary  Chase,  who  was  then  very 
close  to  Lincoln  and  an  earnest  friend  of  McDowell,  finally 
decided  the  assignment  in  favor  of  McDowell,  who,  like  Chase, 
was  from  Ohio. 

It  is  not  disputed  that  McDowell's  strategic  movements  for 
the  first  battle  of  Bull  Run  were  wisely  conceived,  nor  has  he 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  343 

ever  been  criticised  as  having  failed  in  any  of  the  important 
duties  of  a  commander  either  in  the  march  or  on  the  battlefield. 
He  was  a  quiet,  intelligent,  faithful  officer,  and  the  campaign 
may  be  summed  up  in  a  single  expression  made  by  General 
Sherman,  who  commanded  a  brigade  in  the  action,  and  who 
said  that  "it  was  one  of  the  best  planned  battles,  but  one  of  the 
worst  fought."  McDowell's  army  of  30,000  men  was  made  up 
entirely  of  raw  three  months  volunteers,  with  the  exception  of 
probably  800  or  1,000  regulars,  and  the  battle  was  fought  just 
when  the  terms  of  most  of  the  volunteers  were  about  to  expire. 
The  period  of  enlistment  of  several  regiments  expired  between 
the  time  the  army  moved  from  Washington  and  the  engage- 
ment, and  some  of  them  marched  back  from  the  battlefield  to 
the  music  of  the  enemy's  guns  because  they  had  given  their  full 
term  of  service.  To  lead  such  an  army  in  an  aggressive  cam- 
paign to  attack  the  enemy  in  a  chosen  position  was  a  desperate 
undertaking,  but  difficult  as  was  McDowell's  task  he  had  won 
the  victory  and  would  have  driven  the  Confederates  from  the 
field  had  not  General  Scott's  strategy  proved  to  be  terribly  at 
fault  by  permitting  Johnston's  army  to  come  to  the  relief  of 
Beauregard  just  when  his  forces  were  retreating.  Thus  Mc- 
Dowell was  compelled  in  the  end  to  fight  the  two  armies  of 
Johnston  and  Beauregard,  while  Patterson's  army  was  away  in 
the  Shenandoah  Valley,  where  it  was  expected  to  hold  Johnston 
in  check. 

McDowell  thus  lost  the  first  battle  of  the  war,  and  although 
none  questioned  his  fidelity  or  his  skill  in  handling  his  forces,  he 
was  a  failure,  as  in  war  nothing  is  successful  but  success.  While 
McDowell  was  necessarily  relieved  of  the  command  of  the  Army 
of  the  Potomac  he  held  important  commands,  and  died  October 
15,  1882,  a  Major  General  in  the  regular  army. 

The  second  commander  of  the  Army  of  the  Potomac  was 
General  George  B.  McClellan,  who  had  entered  the  Military 
Academy  in  1842  in  the  same  class  with  Stonewall  Jackson,  Rey- 
nolds and  others,  and  graduated  in  1846.  He  was  in  the  Mex- 
ican campaign  with  Scott,  and  his  subsequent  early  history  is 
well  known. 

When  the  civil  war  began,  McClellan  was  in  Cincinnati,  at 
the  head  of  great  railway  work,  but  he  promptly  offered  his 
services  to  the  Government.  Ohio  was  a  border  State,  and,  like 


344  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

Pennsylvania,  seriously  exposed  to  incursions  from  the  enemy, 
and  Ohio  and  Pennsylvania  both  proceeded  about  the  same  time 
to  organize  State  forces  for  their  own  defense.  When  the  or- 
ganization of  the  Pennsylvania  Reserve  Corps  was  assured 
Governor  Curtin  telegraphed  to  General  McClellan,  at  Cincin- 
nati, offering  him  the  command  of  the  corps,  but  he  had  just 
accepted  an  offer  from  the  Governor  of  Ohio  to  commission 
him  as  Major-General  of  Ohio  Volunteers.  He  was  thus  com- 
pelled to  decline  the  Pennsylvania  Corps,  and  in  one  month 
after  he  had  taken  the  Ohio  command  he  had  started  on  a  vig- 
orous campaign  into  the  western  part  of  Virginia,  and  won  sev- 
eral battles,  resulting  in  the  capture  of  a  large  portion  of  the  Con- 
federates and  the  death  of  General  Garnet,  their  commander. 
Although  these  battles  would  not  have  been  regarded  as  more 
than  respectable  skirmishes  later  in  the  war,  they  inspired  great 
confidence  in  McClellan  as  a  military  commander,  and  he  was 
called  to  succeed  McDowell  as  commander  of  the  Army  of  the 
Potomac,  with  the  hearty  approval  of  the  country.  On  the  1st 
of  November,  1861,  General  Scott  retired  and  McClellan  was 
commander-in-chief  of  all  the  armies. 

McClellan  exhibited  marvelous  military  genius  in  the  organ- 
ization and  discipline  of  his  new  army,  and,  however  his  cam- 
paigns may  be  criticised,  all  confess  that  he  was  the  most 
accomplished  military  organizer  of  either  army  in  our  civil  war, 
and  no  man  ever  commanded  an  army  who  inspired  greater 
devotion  than  was  given  to  McClellan  by  the  Army  of  the 
Potomac.  The  country  was  impatient  tor  battle  and  for  vic- 
tory, and  McClellan's  failure  to  move  against  Manassas  during 
the  fall  and  early  winter  months,  when  the  weather  was  excep- 
tionally fine  and  the  roads  in  good  condition,  gradually  weak- 
ened the  confidence  of  both  the  Government  and  the  public  in 
his  ability  as  a  commander  of  a  great  army. 

When  he  finally  moved  upon  Manassas  he  found  it  aban- 
doned, and  then  at  once  made  his  movement  to  the  peninsula. 
The  result  of  that  campaign  need  not  now  be  reviewed.  The 
crimination  and  recrimination  between  McClellan  and  the  Ad- 
ministration are  well  known  to  all  intelligent  readers  of  the 
history  of  the  war.  The  siege  of  Richmond  was  raised  by  the 
Seven  Days'  battles,  in  which  the  Confederates  took  the  aggres- 
sive, and  after  the  second  defeat  of  Bull  Run,  when  Pope  was 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  345 

driven  into  the  fortifications  of  the  capital,  President  Lincoln 
personally  requested  McClellan  to  resume  the  command.  He 
accepted  the  position  and  soon  had  his  army  in  position  to 
assure  the  safety  of  Washington,  and  when  Lee  crossed  the 
Potomac  he  followed  him  and  fought  the  battle  of  Antietam. 

After  Antietam  McClellan  delayed  his  advance  into  Virginia 
because  of  the  lack  of  proper  equipment,  although  repeatedly 
urged  to  move  by  the  President.  Finally,  on  the  7th  of  Novem- 
ber, 1862,  he  was  relieved  of  the  command  of  the  Army  of  the 
Potomac,  and  was  succeeded  by  General  Burnside.  That  ended 
McClellan's  active  military  service  during  the  war.  He  was  cer- 
tainly one  of  the  most  accomplished  soldiers  in  either  army,  and 
had  no  equal  as  an  army  organizer,  but  he  was  a  trained 
engineer,  and  in  taste  and  method  was  adapted  to  defensive 
rather  than  to  aggressive  warfare.  In  the  defensive  battles 
fought  in  the  Seven  Days'  fight  before  Richmond  he  exhibited 
the  highest  attributes  of  generalship.  Although  the  Army  of 
the  Potomac  had  four  commanders,  including  Grant,  who  in 
turn  succeeded  McClellan,  the  one  man  who  ever  held  the  devo- 
tion of  its  soldiers  was  General  McClellan.  His  career  after 
leaving  the  army  is  well  known,  and  need  not  be  repeated.  He 
was  the  unsuccessful  Democratic  candidate  for  President  against 
Lincoln  in  1864,  was  Governor  of  New  Jersey,  and  later  engaged 
as  engineer  on  the  Stevens  battery  for  harbor  defense  in  New 
York,  and  in  1870  became  chief  engineer  of  the  Department  of 
Docks  of  that  city.  He  died  in  Orange,  New  Jersey,  on  the  29th 
of  October,  1885. 

Thus,  in  eighteen  months  of  the  war  the  Army  of  the  Poto- 
mac had  fought  under  two  commanders,  and  had  been  defeated 
in  every  conflict  with  the  single  exception  of  Antietam,  and 
that  was  practically  a  drawn  battle.  General  Burnside  was  called 
to  the  command  as  McClellan's  successor,  and  he  was  the  one 
man  placed  at  the  head  of  that  army  who  frankly  and  positively 
declared  that  he  did  not  regard  himself  as  fitted  for  the  responsi- 
ble task.  He  was  an  open-hearted,  manly  soldier,  and  knew 
his  limitations.  He  was  a  graduate  of  West  Point,  after  having 
served  an  apprenticeship  to  the  tailoring  trade,  and,  after  a 
military  service  on  the  frontier,  he  resigned  his  1^-  tenant's 
commission  in  the  army  in  1852.  He  then  \  _,ie  connected 
with  General  McClellan  in  Western  railroad  operations,  and 


COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

In  1860  was  treasurer  of  the  Illinois  Central  Railroad,  with  his 
office  in  New  York.  In  1861  Governor  Sprague,  of  Rhode 
Island,  called  him  to  his  native  State  to  command  the  first  regi- 
ment of  volunteers,  to  which  he  promptly  responded,  and  on 
the  20th  of  April  he  started  for  Washington  at  the  head  of  his 
regiment.  He  commanded  a  brigade  in  the  first  battle  of  Bull 
Run.  On  the  6th  of  August  he  was  commissioned  a  Brigadier- 
General,  and  in  January,  1862,  he  commanded  the  expedition 
against  Roanoke  Island,  resulting  in  the  capture  of  that  place 
and  Newbern  and  of  Forts  Macon  and  Beaufort.  At  the  second 
battle  of  Bull  Run  he  commanded  a  corps  under  Pope,  and  when 
Lee  crossed  the  Potomac  Burnside  led  the  advance  and  fought 
the  battle  of  South  Mountain,  defeating  the  Confederates,  and 
he  commanded  the  left  wing  of  McClellan's  army  at  Antietam. 

When  Burnside  assumed  the  command  of  the  Army  of  the 
Potomac  it  was  divided  into  three  grand  divisions  under  Sum- 
ner,  Franklin  and  Hooker,  and  on  the  I5th  of  November  he 
made  a  movement  to  Fredericksburg,  expecting  to  intervene 
between  the  two  portions  of  the  Confederate  army  commanded 
respectively  by  Longstreet  and  Jackson,  which  were  then  sep- 
arated by  two  days'  march.  He  arrived  at  the  Rappahannock 
in  time,  but  the  pontoons  were  delayed,  thus  hindering  him  from 
crossing  the  river  until  Lee's  army  was  entirely  united  in  his 
front.  He  then  fought  the  disastrous  battle  of  Fredericksburg, 
after  which  he  charged  Marey's  Heights,  after  the  failure  of 
his  movement  on  his  left  against  Jackson,  and  was  repulsed  with 
terrible  loss.  I  saw  Burnside  in  the  War  Office  at  Washington 
the  second  morning  after  the  battle.  He  was  terribly  crushed 
by  his  failure,  and  frankly  insisted  that  he  never  should  have 
been  placed  in  command  of  the  army.  He  asked  to  be  relieved, 
and  the  request  would  have  been  promptly  complied  with,  but 
a  satisfactory  commander  could  not  be  found.  Reynolds,  Meade 
and  Sedgewick  all  refused  it,  or  begged  to  be  relieved  from  it. 
He  believed  that  his  division  commanders  had  not  supported 
him,  and  without  consulting  any  one  he  issued  an  order  dis- 
missing several  of  his  leading  officers  from  the  service  and  re- 
lieving others  from  duty;  but  the  order  was  not  approved  by 
the  President,  and  the  command  was  finally  tendered  to  Gen- 
eral Hooker.  Burnside  was  then  transferred  to  the  command 
of  the  Department  of  the  Ohio,  where  his  record  became  con- 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  347 

spicuotis  for  the  arrest  and  conviction  of  Vallandigham.  He 
continued  in  important  commands,  his  last  being  that  of  the 
Twentieth  Corps  in  Grant's  campaign  to  Petersburg;  resigned 
from  the  army  April  15,  1865;  was  thrice  elected  Governor  of 
Rhode  Island,  twice  elected  United  States  Senator,  and  died 
at  his  home,  in  Bristol,  R.  I.,  November  3,  1881. 

General  Hooker  succeeded  Burnside  as  commander  of  the 
Army  of  the  Potomac  on  the  25th  of  January,  1863.  There  was 
much  hesitation  in  Government  and  military  circles  about  in- 
trusting Hooker  with  so  responsible  a  command.  He  was  a 
heroic  and  dashing  lieutenant,  and  always  fought  the  enemy  and 
fought  desperately  when  an  opportunity  presented,  but  he  at 
times  precipitated  an  engagement  against  orders,  and  when  he 
should  have  refrained,  a  notable  instance  of  which  was  at  Wil- 
liamsburg,  on  the  Peninsula.  He  had  bitterly  denounced  Lin- 
coln as  an  incompetent,  and  suggested  that  the  safety  of  the 
Government  required  a  military  dictator,  and  he  was  accused  of 
having  failed  to  give  Burnside  honest  support  in  the  Fredericks- 
burg  campaign.  Lincoln  knew  all  these  infirmities  of  Hooker, 
and  when  he  assigned  him  to  the  command  he  addressed 
Hooker  a  letter,  in  which  Lincoln  frankly  said  to  him  that, 
when  serving  under  Burnside,  he  had  taken  counsel  of  his  ambi- 
tion and  thwarted  him  as  much  as  he  could,  and  he  also  re- 
minded Hooker  that  he  had  declared  that  "both  the  army  and 
the  Government  needed  a  dictator,"  to  which  Lincoln  added 
that  only  successful  generals  could  become  dictators,  and  all  he 
asked  of  Hooker  was  military  success,  in  which  case  Lincoln 
would  risk  the  dictatorship.  Hooker  gave  fresh  inspiration  to 
the  demoralized  and  despairing  Army  of  the  Potomac.  He  had 
the  condition  and  supplies  of  the  soldiers  vastly  improved,  and 
his  enthusiasm  was  largely  infused  throughout  the  army.  I 
met  him  in  the  War  Department  in  Washington  soon  after  his 
assignment  to  the  command.  He  was  a  most  interesting  study. 
He  was  a  man  of  unusually  handsome  face  and  elegant  propor- 
tions, with  a  complexion  as  delicate  and  silken  as  a  woman's. 
When  I  asked  him  what  he  thought  of  his  campaign  on  which 
he  was  about  to  start,  he  answered  in  the  most  enthusiastic 
manner,  declaring  that  he  had  the  finest  army  on  the  planet; 
that  he  could  march  it  to  New  Orleans;  that  he  would  cross  the 


348  COLONEL  ALEXANDER  K.  McCLURE'S 

Rapidan  without  losing  a  man,  and  then  "take  the  rebs  where 
the  hair  was  short." 

That  his  campaign  was  superbly  planned  is  admitted  by  all. 
He  had  crossed  the  Rapidan  most  successfully,  but  when  he 
came  in  front  of  Lee  and  was  compelled  to  take  the  responsi- 
bility of  directing  a  great  battle  he  was  bewildered  into  pitiable 
littleness.  When  standing  on  the  porch  of  the  Chancellorsville 
House  in  the  Wilderness  a  ba*ll  struck  one  of  the  large  pillars, 
and  a  heavy  splint  struck  Hooker  squarely  across  the  breast, 
stunning  him  into  insensibility.  Stimulants  were  promptly  ap- 
plied, and  when  he  became  conscious  the  first  thing  he  said  was 
that  no  movement  of  the  army  should  be  made  until  he  was 
capable  of  giving  the  order  himself.  Thus  many  hours  were 
lost  in  idleness  when  every  moment  was  golden,  and  Jackson 
was  enabled  to  complete  his  wonderful  flank  movement  around 
the  right  of  Hooker's  army,  surprise  and  rout  it,  and  Hooker, 
although  very  largely  outnumbering  the  enemy,  retreated  across 
the  river.  Had  he  been  a  corps  commander,  retreat  would  have 
been  the  last  thing  he  could  have  thought  of,  but  the  responsi- 
bility of  supreme  command  was  too  great  for  him,  and  he  ended 
what  at  the  beginning  was  one  of  the  best  conceived  and  exe- 
cuted campaigns  of  the  war  by  retreating  just  when  victory  was 
within  his  grasp.  I  dined  with  General  Stoneman  in  Washing- 
ton soon  after  the  battle.  He  had  commanded  the  cavalry  under 
Hooker,  and  when  I  asked  him  why  it  was  that  Hooker  had 
failed,  he  said  that  he  was  the  most  brilliant  of  all  the  generals 
up  to  a  certain  point,  but  when  his  limitation  was  reached  he 
was  utterly  helpless.  He  said  that  he  had  been  in  California 
with  Hooker,  bullwhacked  across  the  plains  and  run  the  mines 
and  knew  him  thoroughly,  and  he  described  Hooker's  infirmities 
in  about  these  words:  "He  could  play  the  best  game  of  poker 
I  ever  saw  until  it  came  to  the  point  when  he  should  go  a  thou- 
sand better,  and  then  he  would  flunk." 

A  month  after  the  battle  of  Chancellorsville  Lee  started  on 
his  Gettysburg  campaign,  and  Hooker  in  following  him  cer- 
tainly directed  his  army  with  great  skill.  When  Hooker  had 
gotten  his  army  into  Maryland  he  very  wisely  asked  of  the  de- 
partment that  the  11,000  troops  under  French  at  Harper's  Ferry 
should  be  added  to  his  force,  but  it  was  refused,  and  Hooker 
at  once  asked  to  be  relieved  of  the  command.  His  request  was 


RECOLLECTIONS  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY.  349 

complied  with,  and  General  Meade  was  made  his  successor  on 
the  27th  of  June,  just  three  days  before  the  battle  of  Gettysburg 
began.  Hooker  afterward  was  assigned  to  the  command  of 
the  Eleventh  and  Twelfth  Corps,  which  were  hastened  to  Chat- 
tanooga to  the  relief  of  Rosecrans,  and  he  made  the  struggle  of 
Missionary  Ridge  romantic  by  what  is  called  "the  battle  above 
the  clouds/'  when  he  captured  Lookout  Mountain.  In  Sher- 
man's Atlanta  campaign  Hooker  commanded  the  Twentieth 
Corps,  and  gave  heroic  service  until  after  the  capture  of  the 
Gate  City,  but,  believing  that