The Cabinet Diary of William L. Wilson, 1896-1897

The Cabinet Diary of William L. Wilson, 1896-1897

The Cabinet Diary of William L. Wilson, 1896-1897

The Cabinet Diary of William L. Wilson, 1896-1897

Excerpt

Early in the year 1896, while waiting in my native town of Martinsburg for an opportunity to practice law, I received through the mails a letter from the Postmaster General of the United States, written on a correspondence card in his own handwriting and consisting of a single sentence—"Dear Sir: Please come to Washington to see me at once. Yours truly, William L. Wilson."

I had seen Mr. Wilson once in my lifetime. He was a member of Congress from the District in which we lived and everybody in the District was immensely proud both of his scholarship and his character. My father and I, tariff-reform Democrats of the kind appealed to by President Cleveland's tariff message in 1887, were especially thrilled by the fight our representative made as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee on the Wilson Tariff. Even President Cleveland had not stated too strongly our disgust and indignation when the Wilson Bill was "Gormanized" in the Senate. My father had known Mr. Wilson from the days of his presidency of West Virginia University. So far as I recall, I had never met him but I had once heard him make a political speech.

The letter asking me to come to Washington was completely mystifying. I was a young lawyer and had hung out a modest sign which up to that time had not proved attractive to clients, but I was not discouraged and spent my time reading, in anticipation of the day when I should be discovered by somebody who had a lawsuit.

As it did not occur to me that I was perhaps sent for by the . . .

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