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the consequences. By the Eternal ! I will not remove the old man–I can not remove him. Why, Mr. Wright, do you not know that he carries more than a pound of British lead in his body?” That was the last of it. He who was stronger than courts, courtiers, or cabinets, pronounced his fiat, and the happy old postmaster next day took the stage and returned home rejoicing
[February 11, 1872.]
While I was editor of the Washington Union, under the administration of President Pierce, a very interesting incident took place at a dinner at my former residence, now the Census Bureau, on Eighth Street, near F. It was attended by a number of the Democratic leaders, including John C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky, Lawrence M. Keitt, of South Carolina, Jesse D. Bright, of Indiana, John Slidell, of Louisiana, and several whose names I can not remember. Hon. Samuel S. Cox, then a very young man, just known for his book, "The Buckeye Abroad,” and for his talents as an occasional lecturer, was among the guests, and did me the honor to write an editorial against the Know-Nothings—the proof of which was sent to us while we were at the table, and read aloud for the general delectation. Mr. Keitt was full of humor, and took special delight in teasing Mr. Breckinridge by his raillery of the Kentuckians—their peculiar habits and ideas. The retort of Breckinridge was recalled to me the other evening at the reporters' banquet in Washington by Mr. Cox, who, after having been appointed Secretary of Legation to Peru, in 1855, was chosen a Representative in Congress from Ohio for three successive terms, and then, on his removal to the city of New York, chosen several terms to the same body, in which he now figures as one of the ablest
advocates of the Democratic party. Breckinridge wittily de- scribed a recent trip to South Carolina, and his meeting with
several of the original Secessionists—one of them a militia officer in Keitt's district, who had just returned from a training, clothed in faded regimentals, with a huge trooper's sword at his side, and a chapeau surmounted with a very long plume. He was full of enthusiasm for “the cause," and descanted with particular eloquence upon what he called the wrongs of the South. “I tell you, sah, we can not stand it any longer; we intend to fight; we are preparing to fight; it is impossible, sah, that we should submit, sah, even for an additional hour, sah.” “And from what are you suffering?” quietly asked Breckinridge. “Why, sah, we are suffering under the oppressions of the Federal Government. We have been suffering under it for thirty years, and will stand it no more.” “Now," said Breckinridge, turning to Keitt, “I would advise my young friend here to invite some of his constituents, before undertaking the war, upon a tour through the North, if only for the purpose of teaching them what an almighty big country they will have to whip before they get through !” The effect was irresistible, and the impulsive but really kind-hearted South Carolina Hotspur joined in the loud laughter excited by Breckinridge's retort. Somehow the name of Baker is always associated in my
mind with that of Breckinridge. You have not forgotten my description of the thrilling scene between these two men, after the battle of Bull Run, in the Senate of the United States—the eloquent attack of Breckinridge upon the administration of Mr. Lincoln, and the magnetic reply of Baker, who had just come in from his camp in time to hear the outburst of the Kentuckian, and to answer it on the spot with such overwhelming force. He was killed in one of the Virginia battles, October 21, 1861, and on the 28th of that month I reproduced in an “Occasional” letter one of his fugitive poems, which is so beau
tiful, and the last verse of which applies so strikingly to his untimely death, that I copy it here:
“TO A WAVE.
In the shadowy depths of that silent sea ?
Of banner or mariner, ship or star :
How vain are the questions we ask of thee.
And those who once reach it shall wander no more.” [February 18, 1872.]
SHORTLY after my return from Europe, in 1867, I met the present Chief Justice Cartter of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, and Hon. John M. Thayer, then Senator in
Congress from Nebraska, corner of Tenth and Pennsylvania Avenue. Andrew Johnson was doing his level best to destroy the Republican party, and the chief hope of patriots and politicians was a Republican candidate for President who could secure a majority of electoral votes. Johnson had so utterly demoralized politics as to make it an even chance whether the Republicans could elect anybody. He had consolidated the South against us, and had corrupted enough of the North to render it exceedingly doubtful whether a Republican successor could be elected with the power of the National Government against him. He came into the Presidency under tragic circumstances, and his plans were so well laid that if our institutions had not been singularly elastic, and our people intensely patriotic, he would have undoubtedly transferred the Government to the hands of those who rushed to arms to destroy it. I saw enough after he had rejoined the Democrats—after he had yielded to the rebel element—to convince me that unless we could secure some good strong name the Republican party was bankrupt. And there was a vast deal in Johnson's theory to captivate Republicans as strong as Doolittle, of Wisconsin, Cowan, of Pennsylvania, and Foster, of Connecticut. Aided by that extraordinary intellect, William H. Seward, Johnson made the most decided onset against the Republican party that has ever been or ever can be made. Full of these apprehensions, there was something of a coincidence when I met Justice Cartter and Senator Thayer, and was not much surprised when they said, “Why can we not make General Grant the Republican candidate for the Presidency?-every body is for him ; his star is the star of victory. There are two things necessary—his own consent and an approved Republican record. Now, will you not apply yourself to a thorough examination into the political declarations of Grant since he left Galena as a volunteer against the rebellion ?” I answered with perfect frankness,“ that I had had quite enough to do with making Presidents. I had assist
GENERAL GRANT'S NOMINATION.
ed somewhat in the election of James Buchanan in 1856, and had contributed to the nomination of Andrew Johnson as the Republican candidate for Vice-President in 1864; and that, with my experience of public men generally, I did not feel warranted to undertake such a task ;" but the earnest appeals of my good friends prevailed, and I retired to my rooms on Capitol Hill, and prepared the five-column article which appeared in the Washington Chronicle and the Philadelphia Press of November 7, 1867. After it was in type, Senator Thayer and myself called upon John A. Rawlins, Chief of General Grant's staff, and read it to him. He instantly advised that it should appear the very next day; but I answered that “General Grant was not a candidate for President, and did not desire to be, and if I printed it without authority, there was little doubt that some superserviceable politician would call upon him and ask him if he had been made a candidate with his sanction. He will, of course, reply that he never saw the article till it was in print, and so all your schemes to make him President will gang a gley.” Then Rawlins took it in to General Grant, and stayed a long time. When he returned he said, “General Grant is quite pleased with your statement of his political record, and surprised that he proves to be so good a Republican." Upon this hint I printed. But this is not the real point. My misgivings were correct; for on that very day an elaborate dispatch was sent from Washington to the Boston Post, stating that “a distinguished friend of General Grant had called upon him with the article, and inquired if it met his approval or was published with his sanction. He promptly denied all knowledge of the publication, and expressed his indignation at the liberty taken by his self-styled friend who had concocted the article in question. In speaking of the Hon. E. B. Washburne, who would like to be considered the conscience-keeper and guardian of General Grant, the latter expressed his detestation of Mr. Washburne's patronizing airs, and said he could not understand why