FOR months before Stanton's suspension, the Northern people had generally agreed that General Grant should be their next President Publicly, the reticent General had said nothing which would commit him to either party. His popularity was undimmed, and politicians eyed with mixed feelings his obvious availability. Only an intimate group knew of Grant's efforts in behalf of radical legislation, and even the Democrats nursed hopes of making the general their standard bearer. To the rank and file of the politicians, Grant was an enigma: to the people he was still a hero.
From the people, and from the lesser politicians, the demand for Grant was insistent. Interpreting correctly the prevailing sentiment, local partisans hastened to clamber aboard the Grant bandwagon, and wrote fulsome and optimistic letters to Congressman Washburne. "We shall elect Grant," said one of them, "and under Grant we shall have economy and reconstruction." Another declared that "the soldiers hold the balance of power and will make the next President. . . . With Grant at the masthead the combined powers of darkness cannot beat us."1
In contrast with the masses of the Republican Party, the Radical leaders did not warm up to the prospect of Grant's candidacy. Horace Greeley in the Tribune was openly scornful of Grant's reticence. "Of what use is it," he asked, "to throw away kegs of butter and barrels of apples, hats and boots, and other magnificent specimens of merchandise and manufacture upon a military man who is so extremely afraid of damaging his chances of the Presidency . . . that he never permits himself to go beyond the polite vagueness of 'much obliged'? When . . . is a man to express his opinions . . . if it be not when . . . his stomach is filled with eleemosynary dainties?"2
Other Republican leaders shared Greeley's disgust for the noncommittal general. In the spring of 1867, Ben Wade went to JesseGrant____________________