Autobiography of Seventy Years - Vol. 1

By George F. Hoar | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII
SUMNER AND WILSON

WHEN I took my seat on the 4th of March, 1869, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts had a position of power in both Houses of Congress never held by any other State before or since, unless we except that held for a short time in early days by Virginia. Charles Sumner was beyond all question the foremost figure on the National stage, save Grant alone. He had seen the triumph of the doctrines for which he had contended all his life. He had more than any other man contributed to fetter the hands of Andrew Johnson and drive him from power. Henry Wilson was the most skilful political organizer in the country. Sumner was at the head of the Committee on Foreign Relations, and Wilson of that of Military Affairs. In the House Henry L. Dawes was at the head of the Committee on Appropriations, Benjamin F. Butler of the Committee on Reconstruction, William B. Washburn of the Committee on Claims, Nathaniel P. Banks of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. These Committees with the Committee on the Judiciary of which General Butler was a member, and the Committee on Ways and Means, controlled the policy of the House on all the great questions then interesting the country. Samuel Hooper had the third place on the Committee on Coinage, Weights and Measures. But he was its dominant member and in a later Congress introduced the Bill for Reforming the Currency, a wise and salutary measure. It is known, however, among ignorant people in some parts of the country as "The Crime of '73."

Sumner and Wilson are so well known to the American people that it would be superfluous for me to attempt to describe either elaborately. I have spoken of each at some length elsewhere.

-213-

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