The Presidential Election of 1880

By Herbert J. S. J. Clancy | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
The Republican Campaign

Calm, together with a sense of material security, pervaded western civilization in the year 1880. Europe was enjoying what England loved to call a balance of power, and America had passed the convalescent stage since her destructive Civil War. The old order seemed to be passing. In Washington, Grant's political demise was an accomplished fact. In London, Disraeli was dying, and in Berlin the placid William I was soon to make way for the explosive William II. In Rome the socialminded Leo XIII had but recently replaced Pius IX. In America any feeling of tranquillity, at least in the educational field, seemed to be a bit ruffled, for the most that Henry Adams could say for the American educational system was that it was becoming "more perplexing at every phase," and that no theory of education "was worth the pen that wrote it."1 Even though Thomas A. Edison blew out the gas jets of America and the world with his electric light, Adams was by no means consoled by his country's progress. He exclaimed with what seemed to be a sort of fatal resignation that, if "two thousand years after Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar, a man like Grant should be called -- and should actually and truly be -- 1 the high

____________________
1
Henry Adams, "The Education of Henry Adams"; in J. L. Davis, J. T. Frederick, and F. C. Mott, editors, American Literature, Vol. 2, p. 358. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1949.

-167-

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