Page images
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]



My acquaintance with the subject of this memoir commenced while we were both yet students of the profession which he was destined so conspicuously to adorn. rapidly matured into a friendship which never knew any interruption. Though for a time, on political questions, operating on diverging lines, we differed only about the means, never about the ends of which we were in pursuit. At the close of the Civil war of 1861 we found ourselves once more on common ground, and thenceforth to the close of his life it was my privilege to coöperate with him in his persistent efforts to correct some of the administrative abuses, which were the not unnatural results of that gigantic fratricidal struggle. About the time that he found himself compelled by impaired health to retire from the active leadership of his party, he placed in my hands all of his public papers, from which I was permitted to choose such as I deemed of permanent interest and value. These were submitted to the public in 1885.1 He subsequently gave me access to his private correspondence, portions of which he caused to be copied and printed, partly for my convenience, in case I should survive him and feel disposed to give to the world in greater detail the story of his life. The volumes now submitted to the public are the results of

"The Writings and Speeches of Samuel J. Tilden," edited by John Bigelow, in two volumes, New York, Harper & Brothers, 1885.

an effort to discharge what I am disposed to regard as my duty to a faithful friend, as well as to the great community of which he had been for full half a century a devoted servant and benefactor. His public life spanned a larger portion of the history of our Republic than that of any other eminent American statesman, and he occupied the unique position in our history of being the only one selected by the nation for its chief magistracy, who was never clothed with its responsibilities. That there was much in such a life which those to whom the future destinies of our country are to be confided, may study with profit, there can be no doubt. The contribution to the facilities for this study, attempted in these pages, inadequate as I am conscious it is, and imperfect as any record of such a life must be, written before Time's effacing finger has obliterated the transient memories of a more or less stormy career, and revealed its durable outline and grand proportions, will, I trust, be not without some value. When the passions and prejudices engendered by political strife shall, as in due time they will subside, Mr. Tilden's place among the foremost and wisest statesmen of our country will be cheerfully recognized. If, however, I owe to his memory, as I suppose I do, any further duty as a friend and patriot, it is a duty which my increasing years admonish me must not be deferred.

J. B.

21 GRAMERCY PARK, NEW YORK, Dec. 11, 1894.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »