Ulysses S. Grant: Politician

By William B. Hesseltine | Go to book overview

Chapter XVI Political Fagots

THROUGHOUT the congressional session, the thought uppermost in the minds of the nation's leaders was the approaching election of 1872. Men with presidential ambitions and politicians who fattened on the spoils of office came to the last session of the Forty-First and the first session of the Forty-Second Congress prepared to keep an eye on the political barometer. As the Administration marshalled its followers, dividing submissive sheep from recalcitrant goats--and sedulously built up the Treaty of Washington, the receding debt, and the Ku Klux legislation into a "record of achievement"--the Democrats, the politically ambitious, and those malcontents who had been driven from the public trough sought devices by which they might embarrass the party in power. Though they seldom took a position which concealed the partisan nature of their opposition, they voiced their concerted objections to each Administration project, and sought diligently to discredit it before the people.

When the Forty-First Congress reassembled after the elections of 1870, the enemies of the Administration hoped to make political capital out of the rising demand for civil service reform. The defects in the existing system were so evident that only such arrant spoilsmen as Conkling, Carpenter, Chandler, and Morton could look at them without blushing. Long agitation for civil service reform had made the people sensitive to the situation and even clamorous for a change. But Grant and his advisers were fully aware of the popular will, and in his message of 1870 the President aligned himself with the reformers. J. D. Cox, who in resigning from the Cabinet had sought to identify himself with the reformers, doubted Grant's sincerity. "We ought to force this lip service into real action," he wrote Garfield.1 Schurz, too, charged Grant with hypocrisy, and introduced a Civil Service Bill in the Senate. But Grant gave his blessing to the measure, and it was his approval, rather than Schurz's activity, which finally put it through as a rider to an appropriation. As further proof of his sympathy with

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1
Cox to Garfield, December 6, 1870, Garfield MSS.

-252-

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Ulysses S. Grant: Politician
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Table of Contents ix
  • Illustrations xiii
  • Chapter I Forty Years of Failure 1
  • Chapter II Success 19
  • Chapter III the Strategy of Peace 48
  • Chapter IV an Ear to the Ground 70
  • Chapter V Joining the Radical Church 89
  • Chapter VI Grant Acts, Seymour Talks, Blair Blows 112
  • Chapter VII Rumors of Reform 132
  • Chapter VIII the First Clash 145
  • Chapter IX "Policy Enough for the Present" 157
  • Chapter X Midsummer Fantasy 169
  • Chapter XI the End of Reconstruction 180
  • Chapter XII Tarnished Halo 190
  • Chapter XIV Smoke Screen 220
  • Chapter XV Hydra Head 238
  • Chapter XVI Political Fagots 252
  • Chapter XVII the Election of 1872 269
  • Chapter XVIII Life in the White House 291
  • Xix Public Confidence 308
  • Chapter XX Inflation or Resumption? 327
  • Chapter XXI White Supremacy 341
  • Chapter XXII Politics of Depression 359
  • Chapter XXIII a Reformer in the Cabinet 375
  • Chapter XXIV Political Free-For-All 389
  • Chapter XXV a Disturbed Exit 405
  • Chapter XXVI a Political Resurrection 424
  • Chapter XXVII Peace 444
  • Bibliography 453
  • Index 461
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