Hamilton Fish: The Inner History of the Grant Administration - Vol. 1

By Allan Nevins | Go to book overview

Chapter XVIII The Road to Peace

WE have said that like tumblers in a gigantic combination-lock the elements permitting an Anglo-American settlement snapped into place during 1870--Grant's quarrel with Sumner; his surrender of foreign affairs to Fish; Canada's unmistakable choice of Britain as against America; war in Europe; Clarendon's death. But this combination-lock was essentially a silent mechanism. The reader must be warned against an illusion perhaps too easily drawn from these pages. Neither in England nor America did the general public pay anxious attention to the relations of the two countries, or worry in the least about the Alabama Claims. On this side of the Atlantic men were much more interested in Tammany scandals, Red Cloud, Mrs. Lincoln's pension, the heathen Chinee, women's rights, Southern amnesty, and assorted murder trials. In England they were far more interested in the Irish question, school reform, Dizzy's new novel, licenses for pubs, Dickens' death, and army reorganization. This healthy indifference quite suited Fish--for he had said that time was needed to let feelings cool. It suited Thornton--for Granville had advised him just after Clarendon's death to let sleeping lions lie. 1"The less you say on the subject of claims either to Mr. Fish or private persons the better. Silence on your part is most likely to bring them to a reasonable frame of mind." Under the surface, despite their dissemblings, British leaders were worried--but not the British public.

The second week of September found Fish, Grant, and Thornton back in Washington. All three realized that they faced a new situation in Canada. At the first Cabinet meeting Grant brought up the question of pardoning the Fenian prisoners; but Fish urged him to wait until the end of the fishing season--a pardon might irritate the Canadians too much! 2 There was more talk in Ottawa of excluding Yankee fishing-schooners from Dominion ports. On the 18th Fish mentioned

____________________
1
Thornton had written Clarendon, June 14, 1870 reporting a conversation with Fish: "Mr. Thornton, I don't want your Canada, but I do want it to be independent. I want it not to be a constant cause of dispute between the two countries, and to cease to be a thorn in our side by smuggling and other practices." (Clarendon Papers; Thornton to Clarendon, Private, No. 81; given to author by Mrs. H. W. Wells.) But actually Fish had no such confidence.
2
Diary.

-423-

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Hamilton Fish: The Inner History of the Grant Administration - Vol. 1
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction xi
  • Contents xix
  • Chapter I- An Heir of the Federalists 1
  • Chapter II- The Great Whig Battles 20
  • Chapter III- The Senate in Stormy Days 36
  • Chapter IV- Travel and War 66
  • Chapter V- The Watcher 89
  • Chapter VI- Grant in Power 105
  • Chapter VII- Portrait of a President 124
  • Chapter VIII- Broadside from Sumner 142
  • Chapter IX 176
  • Chapter X- Motley''s Insubordination 201
  • Chapter XII- Pandora''s Box 249
  • Chapter XIII- Congress in Session 279
  • Chapter XIV- The Battle of Santo Domingo 309
  • Chapter XV- Crisis- June, 1870 335
  • Chapter XVI- Exit Motley--And Sumner''s Policy 372
  • Chapter XVII- War in Europe 400
  • Chapter XVIII- The Road to Peace 423
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