Hamilton Fish: The Inner History of the Grant Administration - Vol. 1

By Allan Nevins | Go to book overview

Chapter V The Watcher

LINCOLN was carried to Oak Hill, Johnson moved into the White House; Southerners stood gazing about them in despair, and as they took the first uncertain steps to restore government and orderly society, Sumner and Thaddeus Stevens moved to thwart them; the West fell open to the buffalo-hunter, railway-builder, and Indian-plunderer; the reign of Tweed began in New York. Fish, feeling (as to many he appeared) a survivor of the eighteenth century, a last protestant against the promoter's and politician's Olympus, retreated within his own sphere. The greatest events of his life at this period were the oscillation between his two houses, one on Stuyvesant Square, one in the Highlands of the Hudson. Fitting the latter half of the poet's phrase, "the world forgetting, by the world forgot," he felt, as he gazed out on the swollen, turbid current of American life, no discontent that it passed him by so completely.

He was precisely such a figure as John Jay had been after he retired to Bedford; as Albert Gallatin after he commenced his long residence in lower New York. He had not served as conspicuously as they, but he had earned his leisure and gladly took it. He believed his retirement as complete as theirs, and like them, was aware that he had lived out of one age into another.

A man of large property, he had so arranged it that it gave him little trouble; interested in politics, he stood aloof from it; a lover of study and of domestic felicities, he delighted in a broad margin to the page of life. He had an instinctive sense that the commonwealth cannot reach ideal proportions without men who use wealth to perfect themselves in wisdom, and to lend their shoulders to civic and philanthropic labors. There flowed down from his ancestry, moreover, a desire to illustrate the ideals of moderation, cultivation, and generosity that were so little regarded in American life. He was not an idler; he had served at the rough oar, he still worked hard for his church, for educational, patriotic, and historical organizations, for charity. But he felt that it is better to be than to do, that what a man is counts for more than what he performs. To have character; to display tolerance and sagacity on the issues that divide honest citizens; to promote learning, taste, and piety; to mani

-89-

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Hamilton Fish: The Inner History of the Grant Administration - Vol. 1
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction xi
  • Contents xix
  • Chapter I an Heir of the Federalists 1
  • Chapter II the Great Whig Battles 20
  • Chapter III the Senate in Stormy Days 36
  • Chapter IV Travel and War 66
  • Chapter V the Watcher 89
  • Chapter VI Grant in Power 105
  • Chapter VII Portrait of a President 124
  • Chapter VIII Broadside from Sumner 142
  • Chapter IX 176
  • Chapter X Motley's Insubordination 201
  • Chapter XII Pandora's Box 249
  • Chapter XIII Congress in Session 279
  • Chapter XIV the Battle of Santo Domingo 309
  • Chapter XV Crisis: June, 1870 335
  • Chapter XVI Exit Motley--And Sumner's Policy 372
  • Chapter XVII War in Europe 400
  • Chapter XVIII the Road to Peace 423
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