Page images

puts it under the charge of some friend of the Administration, and if a member particularly desires any further information respecting it he may, if he thinks proper, go to the Department and ask for it. But Congress and Ministers are never brought face to face. It is possible that American 'Secretaries' may escape some of the inconvenience which English Ministers are at times called upon to undergo; but the most capable and honest of them forfeit many advantages, not the least of which is the opportunity of making the exact nature of their work known to their countrymen, and of meeting party misrepresentations and calumnies in the most effectual way. In like manner, the incapable members of the Cabinet would not be able, under a different system, to shift the burden of responsibility for their blunders upon the President. No President suffered more in reputation for the faults of others than General Grant. It is true that he did not always choose his Secretaries with sufficient care or discrimination, but he was made to bear more than a just proportion of the censure which was provoked by their mistakes. And it was not in Gen

Congress, for they are absolutely prohibited from sitting in either House. For months together it is quite possible for the Cabinet to pursue a course which is in direct opposition to the wishes of the people. This was seen, among other occasions, in 1873-4, when Mr. Richardson was Secretary of the Treasury, and at a time when his management of the finances caused great dissatisfaction. At last a particularly gross case of negligence, to use no harsher word, known as the 'Sanborn contracts,' caused his retirement; that is to say, the demand for his withdrawal became so persistent and so general, that the President could no longer refuse to listen to it. His objectionable policy might have been pursued till the end of the Presidential term, but for the accidental discovery of a scandal, which exhausted the patience of his friends as well as his enemies. Now had Mr. Richardson been a member of either House, and liable to be subjected to a rigorous cross-questioning as to his proceedings, the mismanagement of which he was accused, and which was carried on in the dark, never could have occurred. Why the founders of the Constitution should have thrown this protection round the per-eral Grant's disposition to defend himself. sons who happen to fill the chief offices of State, is difficult to conjecture, but the clause is clear:-'No person holding any office under the United States shall be a member of either House during his continuance in office.'* Mr. Justice Story declares that this provision 'has been vindicated upon the highest grounds of public authority,' but he also admits that, as applied to the heads of departments, it leads to mary evils. He adds a warning which many events of our own time have shown to be not unnecessary :-'if corruption "The same sentiment, to which we have ever eats its way silently into the vitals of referred as specially characteristic of the this Republic, it will be because the peo- American people-hostility to all changes ple are unable to bring responsibility home in their method of government which are to the Executive through his chosen Min- not absolutely essential-will keep the isters. They will be betrayed when their Cabinet surrounded by irresponsible, and suspicions are most lulled by the Execu- sometimes incapable, advisers. Contrary tive, under the guise of an obedience to to general supposition, there is no nation the will of Congress.'t The inconveniences in the world so little disposed to look favoroccasioned to the public service under the ably on Radicalism and a restless desire for present system are very great. There is no change, as the Americans. The Constituofficial personage in either House to ex- tion itself can only be altered by a long plain the provisions of any Bill, or to give and tedious process, and after every State information on pressing matters of public in the Union has been asked its opinion on business. Cabinet officers are only brought the question. There is no hesitation in into communication with the nation when enforcing the law in case of disorder, as they send in their annual reports, or when the railroad rioters in Pennsylvania found a special report is called for by some un-out a few years ago. The state of affairs, usual emergency. Sometimes the Presi- which the English Government has perdent himself goes down to the Capitol to mitted to exist in Ireland for upwards of a talk over the merits of a Bill with mem-year, would not have been tolerated twentybers. The Department which happens to be interested in any particular measure

Article I. sect. vi. 2. †'Commentaries, 'I., book iii. sect. 869;

In ordinary intercourse he was sparing of his words, and could never be induced to talk about himself, or to make a single speech in defense of any portion of his conduct. The consequence was, that his second term of office was far from being worthy of the man who enjoyed a popularity, just after the war, which Washington himself might have envied, and who is still, and very justly, regarded with respect and gratitude for his memorable services in the field.

four hours in the United States. The maintenance of the law first, the discussion of grievances afterwards; such is, and always has been, the policy of every American Government, until the evil day of

James Buchanan. The governor of every State is a real ruler, and not a mere ornament, and the President wields a hundredfold more power than has been left to the Sovereign of Great Britain. Both parties as a rule, combine to uphold his authority, and, in the event of any dispute with a foreign Power, all party distinctions disappear as if by magic. There are no longer Democrats and Republicans, but only Americans. The species of politician, who endeavors to gain a reputation for himself by destroying the reputation of his country was not taken over to America in the Mayflower,' and it would be more difficult than ever to establish it on American ground to-day. A man may hold any opinions that may strike his fancy on other subjects, but in reference to the Government, he is expected, while he lives under it, to give it his hearty support, especially as against foreign nations. There was once a faction called the 'Know Nothings,' the guiding principle of which was inveterate hostility to foreigners; but a party based upon the opposite principle, of hostility to one's own country, has not yet ventured to lift up its head across the Atlantic. That is an invention in politics which England has introduced, and of which she is allowed to enjoy the undisputed monopoly. *** Display and ceremonial were by no means absent from the Government in the beginning of its history. President Washington never went to Congress on public business except in a State coach, drawn by six cream-colored horses. The coach was an object which would excite the admiration of the throng even now in the streets of London. It was built in the shape of a hemisphere, and its panels were adorned with cupids, surrounded with flowers worthy of Florida, and of fruit not to be equalled out of California. The coachman and postillions were arrayed in gorgeous liveries of white and scarlet. The Philadelphia 'Gazette,' a Government organ, regularly gave a supply of Court news for the edification of the citizens. From that the people were allowed to learn as much as it was deemed proper for them to know about the President's movements, and a fair amount of space was also devoted to Mrs. Washington-who was not referred to as Mrs. Washington, but as 'the amiable consort of our beloved President.' When the President made his appearance at a ball or public reception, a dais was erected for him upon which he might stand apart from the vulgar throng, and the guests or visitors bowed to him in solemn silence. 'Republican simplicity has only come in later times. In our day, the hack-driver who takes a visitor to a public reception at the White House, is quite free to get off his box, walk in side by side with his fare, and shake hands with the President with as

[ocr errors]

much familiarity as anybody else. Very few persons presumed to offer to shake hands with General Washington. One of his friends, Gouverneur Morris, rashly undertook, for a foolish wager, to go up to him and slap him on the shoulder, saying, 'My dear General, I am happy to see you look so well.' The moment fixed upon arrived, and Mr. Morris, already halfrepenting of his wager, went up to the President, placed his hand upon his shoulder, and uttered the prescribed words. Washington,' as an eye-witness described the scene, withdrew his hand, stepped suddenly back, fixed his eye on Morris for several minutes with an angry frown, until the latter retreated abashed, and sought refuge in the crowd.' No one else ever tried a similar experiment. It is recorded of Washington, that he wished the official title of the President to be 'High Mighti ness,'* and at one time it was proposed to engrave his portrait upon the national coinage. No royal levées were more punctiliously arranged and ordered than those of the First President. It was Jefferson, the founder of the Democratic party, who introduced Democratic manners into the Republic. He refused to hold weekly receptions, and when he went to Congress to read his Address, he rode up unattended, tied his horse to a post, and came away with the same disregard for outward show. After his inauguration, he did not even take the trouble to go to Congress with his Message, but sent it by the hands of his Secretary-a custom which has been found so convenient that it has been followed ever since. A clerk now mumbles through the President's Message, while members sit at their desks writing letters, or reading the Message itself, if they do not happen to have made themselves masters of its contents beforehand.”

The writer, after discussing monopolies and tariffs, closes with hopes and predictions so moderately and sensibly stated that any one will be safe in adopting them as his own.

"The controversies which have yet to be fought out on these issues [the tariff and corporate power] may sometimes become formidable, but we may hope that the really dangerous questions that once confronted the American people are set at rest for ever. The States once more stand in their proper relation to the Union, and any interference with their self-government is never again likely to be attempted, for the feeling of the whole people would condemn it. It was a highly Conservative system which the framers of the Constitution adopted, when they decided that each State should be entitled to make its own laws,

*[These are mere traditions tinged with the spirit of against so illustrious a man as Washington-Am. Pol.] some of the assaults made in the"good old days” even

to regulate its own franchise, to raise its own taxes, and settle everything in connection with its own affairs in its own way. The general government has no right whatever to send a single soldier into any State, even to preserve order, until it has been called upon to act by the Governor of that State, The Federal Government, as it has been said by the Supreme Court, is one of enumerated powers; and if it has ever acted in excess of those powers, it was only when officers in States broke the compact which ex sted, and took up arms for its destruction. They abandoned their place in the Union, and were held to have thereby forfeited their rights as States. In ordinary times there is ample security against the abuse of power in any direction. If a State government exceeds its authority, the people can at the next election expel the parties who have been guilty of the offense; if Congress trespasses upon the functions of the States, there is the remedy of an appeal to the Supreme Court, the final interpreter of the Constitution;' if usurpation should be attempted in spite of these safeguards, there is the final remedy of an appeal to the whole nation under the form of a Constitutional Amendment, which may at any time be adopted with the consent of three-fourths of the States. Only, therefore, as Mr. Justice Story has pointed out, when three-fourths of the States have combined to practice usurpation, is the case 'irremediable under any known forms of the Constitution.' It would be difficult to conceive of any circumstances under which such a combination as this could arise. No form of government ever yet devised has proved to be faultless in its operation; but that of the United States is well adapted to the genius and character of the people, and the very dangers which it has passed through render it more precious in their

eyes than it was before it had been tried in the fire. It assures freedom to all who live under it; and it provides for the rigid observance of law, and the due protection of every man in his rights. There is much in the events which are now taking place around us to suggest serious doubts, whether these great and indispensable advantages are afforded by some of the older European systems of government which we have been accustomed to look upon as better and wiser than the American Constitution.”

A final word as to a remaining great issue-that of the tariff. It must ever be a political issue, one which parties cannot wholly avoid. The Democratic party as a mass, yet leans to Free Trade; the Republican party, as a mass, favors Tariffs and high ones, at least plainly protective. Within a year, two great National Conventions were held, one at Chicago and one at New York, both in former times, Free Trade centres, and in these Congress was petitioned either to maintain or improve the existing tariff. As a result we see presented and advocated at the current session the Tariff Commission Bill, decisive action upon which has not been taken at the time we close these pages. The effect of the conventions was to cause the Democratic Congressional caucus to reject the effort of Proctor Knott, to place it in its old attitude of hostility to protection. Many of the members sought and for the time secured an avoidance of the issue. Their ability to maintain this attitude in the face of Mr. Watterson's* declaration that the Democratic party must stand or fall on that issue, remains to be seen.

* Mr. Watterson, formerly a distinguished member of

[ocr errors]

Congress, is the author of the "tariff for revenue only plank in the Democratic National Platform of 1880, and is now, as he has been for years, the chief editor of the Louisville Courier Journal.


been pertinently described by Horatio Seymour as the "groundswell," and such it seemed, both to the active participants in, and lookers-on, at the struggle.

With a view to carry this work through | years named, but the result of 1882 has the year 1882 and into part of 1883, very plain reference should be made to the campaign of 1882, which in several important States was fully as disastrous to the Republican party as any State elec- Political discontent seems to be perioditions since the advent of that party to cal under all governments, and the periods national supremacy and power. In 1863 are probably quite as frequent though less and 1874 the Republican reverses were violent under republican as other forms. almost if not quite as general, but in the Certain it is that no political party in our more important States the adverse majori- history has long enjoyed uninterrupted ties were not near so sweeping. Political success. The National success of the Re'tidal waves "had been freely talked of publicans cannot truthfully be said to as descriptive of the situation in the earlier have been uninterrupted since the first

election of Lincoln, as at times one or the close Democratic sentiment and to unite other of the two Houses of Congress have that which it was hoped would be genebeen in the hands of the Democratic party, rally friendly, moderate tariff rates had to while since the second Grant administra- be fixed; notably upon iron, steel, and tion there has not been a safe working many classes of manufactured goods. majority of Republicans in either House. Manufacturers of the cheaper grades of Combinations with Greenbackers, Read- cotton goods were feeling the pressure of justers, and occasionally with dissenting competition from the South--where goods. Democrats have had to be employed to could be made from a natural product preserve majorities in behalf of important close at hand-while those of the North measures, and these have not always suc- found about the same time that the tastes ceeded, though the general tendency of of their customers had improved, and side-parties has been to support the majo- hence their cheaper grades were no longer rity, for the very plain reason that majori- in such general demand. There was overties can reward with power upon commit-production, as a consequence grave deprestees and with patronage. sion, and not all in the business could at

Efforts were made by the Democrats in once realize the cause of the trouble. the first session of the 47th Congress to Doubt and distrust prevailed, and early in reduce existing tariffs, and to repeal the the summer of 1882, and indeed until late internal revenue taxes. The Repub-in the fall, the country seemed upon the licans met the first movement by establishing a Tariff Commission, which was appointed by President Arthur, and composed mainly of gentlemen favorable to protective duties. In the year previous 1881) the income from internal taxes was $135,264,385.51, and the cost of collecting $4,327,793.24, or 3.20 per cent. The customs revenues amounted to $198,159,676.02, the cost of collecting the same $6,383,288. 10, or 3.22 per cent. There was no general complaint as to the cost of collecting these immense revenues, for this cost was greatly less than in former years, but the surplus on internal taxes (about $146,000, 000) was so large that it could not be profitably employed even in the payment of the public debt, and as a natural result all interests called upon to pay the tax (save where there was a monopoly in the product or the manufacture) complained of the burden as wholly unnecessary, and large interests and very many people demanded immediate and absolute repeal. The Republicans sought to meet this demand half way by a bill repealing all the taxes, save those on spirits and tobacco, but the Democrats obstructed and defeated every attempt at partial repeal. The Republicans thought that the moral sentiment of the country would favor the retention of the internal taxes upon spirits and tobacco (the latter having been previously reduced) but if there was any such sentiment it did not manifest itself in the fall elections. On the contrary, every form of discontent, encouraged by these great causes, took shape. While the Tariff Commission, by active and very intelligent work, held out continued hope to the more confident industries, those which had been threatened or injured by the failure of the crops in 1881, and by the assassination of President Garfield, saw only prolonged injury in the probable work of the Commission, for to meet the


verge of a business panic. At the same time the leading journals of the country seemed to have joined in a crusade against all existing political methods, and against all statutory and political abuses. The cry of "Down with Boss Rule!" was heard in many States, and this rallied to the swelling ranks of discontent all who are naturally fond of pulling down leadersand the United States Senatorial elections of 1883 quickly showed that the blow was aimed at all leaders, whether they were alleged Bosses or not. Then, too, the forms of discontent which could not take practical shape in the great Presidential contest between Garfield and Hancock, came to the front with cumulative force after the assassination. There is little use in philosophizing and searching for sufficient reasons leading to a fact, when the fact itself must be confessed and when its force has been felt. It is a plain fact that many votes in the fall of 1882 were determined by the nominating struggle for the Presidency in 1880, by the quarrels which followed Garfield's inauguration, and by the assassination. Indeed, the nation had not recovered from the shock, and many very good people looked with very grave suspicion upon every act of President Arthur after he had succeeded to the chair. The best informed, broadest and most liberal political minds saw in his course an honest effort to heal existing differences in the Republican party, but many acts of recommendation and appointment directed to this end were discounted by the few which could not thus be traced, and suspicion and discontent swelled the chorus of other injuries. The result was the great political changes of 1882. It be gan in Ohio, the only important and debatable October State remaining at this time. The causes enumerated above (save the assassination and the conflict between the friends of Grant and Blaine) operated

The same amendment had been proposed in Pennsylvania, a Republican House in 1881 having passed it by almost a solid vote (Democrats freely joining in its support), but a Republican Senate defeated, after it had been loaded down with amendments. New York was co

with less force in Ohio than any other sec- | free and irresponsible instead of licensed tion-for here leaders had not been held up sale. The latter seem to have had the as" Bosses;" civil service reform had many best of the argument, if the election readvocates among them; the people were sult is a truthful witness. Gov. St. John not by interest specially wedded to high was again the nominee of the Repubtariff duties, nor were they large payers of licans, but while all of the remainder of internal revenue taxes. But the liquor the State-ticket was elected, he fell under issue had sprung up in the Legislature the a majority which must have been proprevious winter, the Republicans attempt- duced by a change of forty thousand votes. ing to levy and collect a tax from all who Iowa next took up the prohibitory amendsold, and to prevent the sale on Sundays. ment idea, secured its adoption, but the These brief facts make strange reading to result was injurious to the Republicans in the people of other States, where the sale the Fall elections, where the discontent of liquor has generally been licensed, and struck at Congressmen, as well as State forbidden on Sundays. Ohio had previ- and Legislative officers. ously passed a prohibitory constitutional amendinent, in itself defective, and as no legislation had been enacted to enforce it, those who wished began to sell as though the right were natural, and in this way became strong enough to resist taxation or license. The Legislature of 1882, the majority controlled by the Republicans, at-quetting with the same measure, and as a tempted to pass the Pond liquor tax act, result the liquor interests-well-organized and its issue was joined. The liquor in- and with an abundance of money, as a terests organized, secured control of the rule struck at the Republican party in Democratic State Convention, nominated both New York and Pennsylvania, and a ticket pledged to their interests, made thus largely aided the groundswell. The a platform which pointed to unrestricted same interests aided the election of Genl. sale, and by active work and the free B. F. Butler of Massachusetts, but from a use of funds, carried the election and different reason. He had, in one of his reversed the usual majority. Governor earlier canvasses, freely advocated the Foster, the boldest of the Republican lead-right of the poor to sell equally with those ers, accepted the issue as presented, and who could pay heavy license fees, and had stumped in favor of license and the sanc- thus won the major sympathy of the tity of the Sabbath; but the counsels of interest. Singularly enough, Massachuthe Republican leaders were divided, Ex-setts alone of all the Republican States Secretary Sherman and others enacting the meeting with defeat in 1882, fails to show role of confession and avoidance." The in her result reasons which harmonize result carried with it a train of Republican di-asters. Congressional candidates whom the issue could not legimately touch, fell before it, probably on the principle that "that which strikes the head injures the entire body." The Democratic State and Legislative tickets succeeded, and the German element, which of all others is most favorable to freedom in the observance of the Sabbath, transferred its vote almost as an entirety from the Republican to the Democratic party.

Ohio emboldened the liquor interests, and in their Conventions and Societies in other States they agreed as a rule to check and, if possible, defeat the advance of the prohibitory amendment idea. This started in Kansas in 1880, under the lead of Gov. St. John, an eloquent temperance advocate. It was passed by an immense majority, and it was hardly in force before conflicting accounts were scattered throughout the country as to its effect. Some of the friends of temperance contended that it improved' the public condition; its enemies all asserted that in the larger towns and cities it produced

with those enumerated as making up the elements of discontent. Her people most do favor high tariffs, taxes on liquors and luxuries, civil service reforms, and were supposed to be more free from legal and political abuses than any other. Massachusetts had, theretofore, been considered to be the most advanced of all the Statesin notions, in habit, and in law-yet Butler's victory was relatively more pronounced than that of any Democratic candidate, not excepting that of Cleve land over Folger in New York, the Democratic majority here approaching two hundred thousand. How are we to explain the Massachusetts' result? Gov. Bishop was a high-toned and able gentleman, the type of every reform contended for. There is but one explanation. Massachusetts had had too much of reform; it had come in larger and faster doses than even her progressive people could stand-and an inconsistent discontent took new shape there-that of very plain reaction. This view is confirmed by the subsequent attempt of Gov. Butler to defeat the re-election of Geo. F. Hoar to

« PreviousContinue »