As Fish anticipated, Grant faced his first session of Congress with diminishing prestige. The hope of a new era had faded; it was already clear that in home affairs the Administration would be marked by no elevation of purpose, no broad new policies, not even by dignity and harmony. While politicians were complacent, the believers in reform--tariff reform, civil service reform, Southern reform, currency reform--all wore lugubrious faces. It had been said in March that Grant knew how to choose able lieutenants; in December men said that many of his appointments were the worst since Buchanan. It had been asserted that Grant knew how to lead. But Henry Adams now wrote,1 "The President assumed at the outset that it was not his duty to steer; that his were only duties of discipline." The opposition press had grown caustic, while friendly journals were silent or made excuses. Charles A. Dana wrote at the beginning of summer that if the Republican Party had to choose again between placing Grant or Colfax in the White House, a large majority would turn to Colfax. "Grant," he added a little later,2 "has already shown that he is destitute of high statesmanlike qualities, and in regard to leadership is but too often the willing instrument of charlatans and adventurers."
The inexperienced President, who sadly needed time and study to grapple with the nation's difficulties, had spent most of the summer travelling about the East. Nobody would have begrudged him a vacation, or a long quiet sojourn at Long Branch, where he might keep in touch with Washington. The White House was undergoing renovation. He perhaps felt, as every President should feel, that it was his duty to show himself to the people. But from early June until the end of September his arrival was constantly being heralded at some new spot. West Point and Boston in June; Long Branch and New York in July; in August his visit at Garrison, a trip into Pennsylvania, a tour from Newport and Providence into northern New England; in September____________________