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Facts of Reconstruction, The

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<SPAN name="CHAPTER_XVIII" id="CHAPTER_XVIII"></SPAN>CHAPTER XVIII</h2> <h3>ATTITUDE OF THE HAYES ADMINISTRATION TOWARD THE SOUTH</h3> <p>The new administration had been in power only a short while before it became apparent to southern Republicans that they had very little to expect from this administration. It was generally understood that a southern man would be made Postmaster General in the new cabinet, but it was assumed, of course, by those, at least, who were not fully informed about the secret deals and bargains that had been entered into as a condition precedent to a peaceable inauguration of the new administration,&mdash;that he would be a Republican.</p> <p>Senator Alcorn, of my own State, Mississippi, who had just retired from the Senate, had an ambition to occupy that position. I was one to whom that fact was made known. I did not hesitate to use what little influence I had to have that ambition gratified. I was so earnest and persistent in pressing his claims and merits upon those who were known to be close to the appointing power, that I succeeded in finding out definitely and authoritatively the name of the man that had been agreed upon and would, no doubt, be appointed to that position. Ex-Senator Key, a Democrat from Tennessee, was the man. When I informed Senator Alcorn of that fact the manifestation of surprise, disappointment, and disgust with which he received it can better be imagined than described. This was not due so much to the fact that some other one than himself had been selected, but to the fact that the fortunate man was a Southern Democrat. For the first time the Senator became convinced that southern Republicans had been made the subjects of barter and trade in the shuffle for the Presidency, and that the sacrifice of southern Republicans was the price that had to be paid for the peaceable inauguration of Mr. Hayes. This, in Senator Alcorn's opinion, meant that the Republican party in the reconstructed States of the South was a thing of the past. There was no hope for it in the future.</p> <p>"It would have been far better," said the Senator, "not only for the Republican party at the South but for the country at large, to have allowed the Democrats to inaugurate Tilden, and to have taken charge of the Government, than to have purchased Republican victory at such a fearful cost. What inducement can a southern white man now have for becoming a Republican? Under the present state of things he will be hated at home, and despised abroad. He will be rejected by his old friends and associates, and discountenanced by his new ones. He will incur the odium, and merit the displeasure and censure of his former friends, associates, and companions with no compensating advantages for the sacrifices thus made."</p> <p>The Senator spoke with deep feeling. He could see that his efforts to build up a strong Republican party at the South must necessarily fail under such conditions, and that it was useless to make any further effort in that direction. Under his influence and leadership very many of the best and most influential white men in his state had identified themselves with the Republican party. His efforts in that direction would have been continued, in spite of the temporary defeat of the party at the polls, however severe that defeat might have been, if those efforts had been appreciated and appropriately recognized by the national leaders of the organization. But when he saw that not only was this not to be done, but that one of those who was known to be fully identified with the political persecutors of southern Republicans was to be recognized,&mdash;thus placing the stamp of approval upon their work by an administration that was supposed to be Republican and therefore opposed to such methods,&mdash;it was time for southern white men, who had been acting with the Republican party and for those who may have such action in contemplation, to stop and seriously consider the situation. It was now in order for each one of them to ask himself the question: "Can I afford to do this?"</p> <p>The appointment of a southern Democrat to a seat in the Cabinet of a Republican President, especially at that particular time, was a crushing blow to southern Republicans. It was the straw that broke the camel's back. Senator Alcorn was a man suitable in every way for the office of Postmaster-General. He had a commanding presence, he was an eloquent speaker, and an able debater,&mdash;by nature a leader and not a follower. He had taken an active part in the politics of his state before and after the War. After he identified himself with the Republican party he was ambitious to be chiefly instrumental in building up a strong party in his State and throughout the South which would not only recognize merit in the colored people and accord absolute justice and fair play to them, but which would include in its membership a large percentage, if not a majority, of the best and most substantial white men of that section.</p> <p>That he had made splendid progress along those lines cannot be denied. The announced southern policy of the Hayes administration not only completed the destruction of what had been thus accomplished, but it made any further progress in that direction absolutely impossible. The selection of ex-Senator Key was, however, not the only Cabinet appointment which clearly indicated the southern policy of the administration. There were two others,&mdash;those of William M. Evarts and Carl Schurz. Those men had been prominent in their bitter opposition to the southern policy of President Grant. Mr. Schurz had been one of the leaders in the Greeley movement against President Grant and the Republican party in 1872, while Mr. Evarts was later the principal speaker at a public indignation meeting that was held at New York to denounce the southern policy of the Grant administration. In fact, John Sherman was the only one of the Cabinet ministers that had a positive national standing, and even his brilliant star was somewhat marred on account of the impression that, as one of the Hayes managers, he had been a party to the deals and agreements that had been made and entered into as a condition precedent to the peaceable induction of Mr. Hayes into office. It was known, or at any rate believed, that Mr. Sherman's appointment as Secretary of the Treasury was for the one specific purpose of bringing about the resumption of specie payments. He was the author of the act which fixed the date when specie payments should be resumed. He had the reputation of being one of the ablest financiers the country had produced. That he should be named to carry into effect the act of which he was the author was to be expected. For the reasons above stated, it was the one Cabinet appointment that met with general approval.</p> <p>It was soon seen, however, that the Cabinet was so constructed as to make it harmonize with the southern policy of the administration. It was not long before the announcement was officially made in prolix sentences, of which Secretary Evarts was no doubt the author, that the army could not and would not be used to uphold and sustain any State Government in an effort to maintain its supremacy and enforce obedience to its mandates. In other words, it was a public announcement of the fact that if there should be an armed revolt in a State against the lawful State Government which would be strong enough to seize and take possession of that government, the National Government would refuse to interfere, even though a request for assistance should be made by the Chief Executive of the State in the manner and form prescribed by the Constitution. I have never believed that this policy,&mdash;which was meant, of course, for the South,&mdash;was in harmony with Mr. Hayes' personal convictions; especially in view of his public utterances during the progress of the campaign and immediately after the announcement had been made that he had been defeated. But he no doubt asked himself the question: "What can I do?" This is what he had been bound to do, by his managers through the medium of an ante-inauguration pledge, which he felt in honor bound to respect. Mr. Hayes was not a man of sufficient force of character to disregard and repudiate such a pledge or bargain. Had he been a Napoleon, or even an Andrew Jackson, he would have declared that no man or set of men had any authority to make for him any ante-inauguration pledge, promise, or bargain by which he would be bound as chief magistrate of the country. To the contrary, he would have openly and publicly declared:</p> <p>"I am President, or I am not. That I am the legally elected President is a recognized and undisputed fact, and, as such, I shall neither recognize nor respect any pledge, promise or bargain which involves dishonor on my part or acquiescence in the suspension, violation or evasion of the Constitution or of any law made in pursuance thereof. As President of the United States I have taken and subscribed to an oath by which I am bound to uphold the Constitution of my country, and to see that the laws are duly executed and enforced. That oath I am determined to respect and honor. I shall not only do all in my power to see that the Constitution and the laws of the land are obeyed and enforced,&mdash;both in letter and in spirit,&mdash;but it is also my determination to see that every American citizen is protected in the exercise and enjoyment of his rights, as far as it may be in the power of the President to protect him." Such a declaration, accompanied by an honest effort to carry the same into effect, even if he had been unsuccessful, would have carried the name of R.B. Hayes down in history as one of the greatest and most brilliant statesmen our country had ever produced. But, he was not equal to the occasion, and therefore failed to take advantage of such a golden opportunity. On the contrary, he decided to live up to and carry out to the very letter, every pledge, promise, agreement or bargain that had been made in his behalf, which involved the dishonor of his own name and the disgrace of his country. Packard, for Governor of Louisiana, and Chamberlain, for Governor of South Carolina, were voted for at the same time that the Hayes electors were voted for in their respective States. Each of these candidates polled a much larger vote than that of the Hayes electors. If, therefore, Mr. Hayes was legally or mortally entitled to the electoral votes of those States, without which he could not have been elected, those men were entitled to be recognized and supported as Governor of their respective States. But it was a well-known fact that without the support and backing of the National Administration at that particular time, they could not maintain and enforce their authority against the organization of the Democratic party. The public announcement of the southern policy of the National Administration put an effectual end to any further effort on the part of either Packard or Chamberlain. The Administration not only deserted and abandoned those two men and the party for which they had so bravely and so gallantly stood, but it allowed the very men whose votes made Mr. Hayes President to be harassed and persecuted for what they had done in that direction. After Packard surrendered to the inevitable he was tendered a position in the foreign service, which he accepted. When Chamberlain was forced to abandon the hopeless struggle in South Carolina, he moved to New York and engaged in the practice of law. Politically he affiliated with the Democratic party until his death.</p> <hr /> <h2><SPAN name="CHAPTER_XIX" id="CHAPTER_XIX"></SPAN>CHAPTER XIX</h2> <h3>QUESTION OF THE VALIDITY OF SENATOR LAMAR'S ELECTION</h3> <p>Mr. Blaine had been elected to the United States Senate from Maine, his term beginning March 4th, 1877. The term for which Mr. Lamar, of Mississippi, had been elected, commenced at the same time. It was not possible to have a Congressional investigation of the Mississippi election of 1875 unless the same should be ordered by the Senate,&mdash;the Republicans having a small majority in that body. Each House being the sole judge of the elections and qualifications of its own members, the Senate could, of course, have Mr. Lamar's credentials referred to the Committee of Privileges and Elections, with instructions to make an investigation of the methods used to carry the election. This committee would ascertain and report whether or not there had been a legal and valid election in that State, and, pending the investigation and report by the committee and the disposition of the same by the Senate, the seat to which Mr. Lamar had been elected would remain vacant. As the result of a number of conferences between Republican Senators and representative Mississippi Republicans, this course was decided upon as the one to be pursued. But, in order to do this, the Senate must have something upon which to base its contemplated action. It could not be expected to take official notice of rumors or newspaper reports of what had taken place. It was therefore decided that a memorial should be drawn up and signed by a number of reputable and well-known citizens of the State, making specific allegations with reference to that election, and concluding with a request that a thorough investigation be made before the Senator, chosen by the Legislature that had been brought into existence by that election, could be admitted to the Senate.</p> <p>In support of this contemplated action there had been a number of precedents,&mdash;the recent case of Mr. Pinchback, of Louisiana, being one of them. It fell to my lot to draw up the memorial. It was to be presented to the Senate and championed in that body by Senator Morton, of Indiana. The Republican majority in the Senate was small. The Democrats, of course, would bitterly oppose the Morton motion. To make sure of its adoption the affirmative vote of nearly every Republican Senator was necessary. At any rate there could be no serious defection in the Republican ranks, otherwise the Morton proposition could not prevail. That anyone on the Republican side would oppose it was not anticipated, for every one that had been approached expressed his intention of supporting it. No one of the newly elected Senators had been approached. It was not deemed necessary. It was not anticipated that any one of them would do otherwise than support the program that had been agreed upon by the older members of the Senate. Senator Morton was to submit the memorial and make the motion when the name of Mr. Lamar was called to take the oath of office.</p> <p>The names of the States were called in alphabetical order, about three being called at a time. Maine was reached before Mississippi, and Mr. Blaine was duly sworn in as a Senator from that State. No one expected that he would do otherwise than support the program that had been agreed upon, but, contrary to expectations, as soon as Mississippi was called Mr. Blaine was on his feet, demanding recognition. Of course he was recognized by the chair. He made a motion that Mr. Lamar be sworn in <i>prima facie</i> as the Senator from Mississippi. His contention was that, since his credentials were regular, the Senator-elect should be sworn in; and if there should be any question about the legality of the election it could be made the subject of a subsequent investigation.</p> <p>This unexpected action on the part of Mr. Blaine took everyone by surprise, with the possible exception of Mr. Lamar, who, no doubt, was well aware of what was in contemplation. It produced consternation and caused a panic among the Republican leaders in the Senate. Hurried and excited conferences were being held while the subject was being debated. For the seriousness of the situation was recognized. Mr. Blaine's defection meant the defeat of the Morton motion should it be made, and the adoption of the Blaine motion by the solid vote of the Democrats, to which would be added a small minority of the Republicans. This division in the ranks of the party at the beginning of the Hayes administration had to be avoided if possible. That Mr. Blaine should recede from his position was, of course, out of the question. Nothing, therefore, remained to be done but for Senator Morton to refrain from making his motion; for a hurried canvass of the Senate had revealed the fact that the motion, if made and brought to a vote, would be defeated, and the effect of such a defeat would be worse than if the motion had not been made. So the Blaine motion was allowed to go by default, and Mr. Lamar was duly sworn in as a Senator from Mississippi. Of course it was well known at the time by many,&mdash;Mr. Blaine among the number,&mdash;that this ended the controversy and that no subsequent investigation would be made. That Mr. Blaine was sadly and seriously disappointed at the result of his action in this case, as well as in his action in defeating the Federal Elections Bill, will be made clear in subsequent chapters.</p> <hr /> <h2>
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