JOHN JAY said that the greatest achievements of diplomacy were often little noted by history and that their authors got, in general, little credit. He compared it to the work of levelling uneven ground of which the face of the earth will show no trace when it is done. The same thing is true of successful battles with political corruption in high places, the most formidable peril to any Government and, if it be not encountered and overcome, fatal to a Republic. A nation will survive a corrupt minister or monarch, but a corrupt people must surely and speedily perish. We have had sporadic examples of corruption in high office at several periods in our history. The first sixteen years after the inauguration of the Constitution, including the Administrations of Washington, John Adams, and the first four years of Jefferson, were by no means free from it. But it never got so dangerous a hold upon the forces of the Government, or upon a great political party, as in the Administration of General Grant.
General Grant was an honest and wise man. History has assigned him a place among our great Presidents. He showed almost unerring judgment in military matters. He rarely, I suppose, if ever, made a mistake in his estimate of the military quality of a subordinate, or in a subordinate's title to confidence. But he was very easily imposed upon by self-seeking and ambitious men in civil life. Such men studied his humors and imposed upon him, if not by flattery, yet by the pretence of personal devotion. He had been himself bitterly and most unjustly assailed by partisan and sectional hostility. When any person to whom he had once given his confidence was detected in any low or corrupt action Grant was very unwilling to believe or even to listen