Autobiography of Seventy Years - Vol. 1

By George F. Hoar | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XXIX
FOUR NATIONAL CONVENTIONS
1884

IT happened to me again to be put at the head of the Massachusetts delegation in the convention of 1884. The leading candidates were Mr. Blaine and President Arthur. Mr. Arthur had, in many respects, made a very satisfactory President. He was a man of pleasant manners and skilled in the subtle ways of New York politicians. He had been one of the chief representatives of a faction in the Republican Party, and he never seemed able to shake off the influences which had surrounded him before his election. At a dinner shortly after he was chosen Vice-President, he made an apparently approving allusion to what he called the use of soap, which was understood to mean the use of money for corrupt purposes. He made a fatal mistake, as it always seemed to me, in permitting the resignation of President Garfield's Cabinet and filling their places with men who, like himself, belonged to the Grant faction. If he had said that he would not allow the act of an assassin to make a change in the forces that were to control the Administration so far as could be helped and that he would carry into effect the purposes of his predecessor, wherever he could in conscience do so, he would have maintained himself in the public esteem. But that was not his only mistake. Inconsiderately he lent himself to the popular prejudice against the policy of river and harbor improvements, and, in vetoing a bill passed by large majorities in both Houses of Congress, he sent in a message in which he said in substance that the more corrupt the measure the more votes it was likely to get in Congress. When in the next winter he was asked to specify the objectionable items in the bill

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