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learned to deal with all questions, domestic and foreign, whether of peace or war, to declare Constitutional Law and International Law, and to administer the vast appointing power, creating Cabinet officers, judges, foreign. ministers, and an uncounted army of office-holders!
To these things must be added, that when this soldier first began as civilian he was already forty-six years old. At this mature age, close upon half a century, when habits are irrevocably fixed, when the mind has hardened against what is new, when the character has taken its permanent form, and the whole man is rooted in his own. unchangeable individuality, our soldier entered abruptly upon the untried life of a civilian in its most exalted sphere. Do not be surprised, that, like other soldiers, he failed; the wonder would be had he succeeded. There is a French saying, that at forty a man has given his measure. At least his vocation is settled, how completely is seen, if we suppose the statesman, after traversing the dividing point, abruptly changed to the soldier. And yet at an age nearly seven years later our soldier precipitately changed to the statesman.
This sudden metamorphosis cannot be forgotten, when we seek to comprehend the strange pretensions which ensued. It is easy to see how some very moderate experience in civil life, involving of course the lesson of subordination to republican principles, would have prevented indefensible acts.
TESTIMONY OF THE LATE EDWIN M. STANTON.
SOMETHING also must be attributed to individual character. And here I express no opinion of my own; I shall allow another to speak in solemn words echoed from the tomb.
On reaching Washington at the opening of Congress in December, 1869, I was pained to hear that Mr. Stanton, lately Secretary of War, was in failing health. Full of gratitude for his unsurpassed services, and with a sentiment of friendship quickened by common political sympathies, I lost no time in seeing him, and repeated my visits until his death, toward the close of the same month. My last visit was marked by a communication never to be forgotten. As I entered his bedroom, where I found him reclining on a sofa, propped by pillows, he reached out his hand, already clammy cold, and in reply to my inquiry, "How are you?" answered, "Waiting for my furlough." Then at once, with singular solemnity, he said, "I have something to say to you." When I was seated, he proceeded without one word of introduction: "I know General Grant better than any other person in the country can know him. It was my duty to study him, and I did so night and day, when I saw him and when I did not see him; and now I tell you what I know he cannot govern this country." The intensity of his manner and the positiveness of his judgment surprised me; for, though I was aware that the late Secretary of War did not place the President very high in general. capacity, I was not prepared for a judgment so strongly couched. At last, after some delay, occupied in meditating his remarkable words, I observed, "What you say is very broad." It is as true as it is broad," he replied promptly. I added, "You are tardy; you tell this late: why did you not say it before his nomination?" He answered, that he was not consulted about the nomination, and had no opportunity of expressing his opinion upon it, besides being much occupied at the time by his duties as Secretary of War and his contest with the
President. I followed by saying, "But you took part in the Presidential election, and made a succession of speeches for him in Ohio and Pennsylvania." "I spoke," said he, "but I never introduced the name of General Grant. I spoke for the Republican Party and the Republican cause." This was the last time I saw Mr. Stanton. A few days later I followed him to the grave where he now rests. As the vagaries of the President became more manifest, and the Presidential office seemed more and more a plaything and perquisite, this dying judgment of the great citizen who knew him so well haunted me constantly, day and night; and I now communicate it to my country, feeling that it is a legacy which I have no right to withhold. Beyond the intrinsic interest from its author, it is not without value as testimony in considering how the President could have been led into that Quixotism of personal pretension which it is my duty to expose.1
DUTY TO MAKE EXPOSURE.
PARDON me, if I repeat that it is my duty to make this exposure, spreading before you the proofs of that personal government, which will only pass without censure when it passes without observation. Insisting upon reëlection, the President challenges inquiry and puts himself upon the country. But even if his pressure for reëlection did not menace the tranquillity of the country, it is important that the personal pretensions he has
1 June 6th, Mr. Sumner reiterated in debate, with much emphasis, his statement of Mr. Stanton's expressed opinion of the President, and added the testimony of a letter of Horace White, editor of the Chicago Tribune. See Congressional Globe, 42d Cong. 2d Sess., p. 4283.
set up should be exposed, that no President hereafter may venture upon such ways, and no Senator presume to defend them. The case is clear as noon.
TWO TYPICAL INSTANCES.
IN opening this catalogue I select two typical instances, Nepotism, and Gift-Taking with repayment by office, each absolutely indefensible in the head of a Republic, most pernicious in example, and showing beyond question that surpassing egotism which changed the Presidential office into a personal instrumentality, not unlike the trunk of an elephant, apt for all things, small as well as great, from provision for a relation to forcing a treaty on a reluctant Senate, or forcing a reelection on a reluctant people.
NEPOTISM OF THE PRESIDENT.
BETWEEN these two typical instances I hesitate which to place foremost but since the nepotism of the President is a ruling passion, revealing the primary instincts of his nature, since it is maintained by him in utter unconsciousness of its offensive character, since, instead of blushing for it as an unhappy mistake, he continues to uphold it, since it has been openly defended by Senators on this floor, and since no true patriot anxious for republican institutions can doubt that it ought to be driven with hissing and scorn from all possibility of repetition, I begin with this undoubted
There has been no call of Congress for a return of the relations holding office, stipend, or money-making op
portunity under the President. The country is left to the press for information on this important subject. If there is any exaggeration, the President is in fault, — since, knowing the discreditable allegations, he has not hastened to furnish the precise facts, or at least his partisans have failed in not calling for the official information. In the mood which they have shown in this Chamber, it is evident that any resolution calling for it, moved by a Senator not known to be for his reëlection, would meet with opposition, and an effort to vindicate republican institutions would be denounced as an assault on the President. But the newspapers have placed enough beyond question for judgment on this extraordinary case, although thus far there has been no attempt to appreciate it, especially in the light of history.
One list makes the number of beneficiaries as many as forty-two, being probably every known person allied to the President by blood or marriage. Persons seeming to speak for the President, or at least after careful inquiries, have denied the accuracy of this list, reducing it to thirteen. It will not be questioned that there is at least a baker's dozen in this category, thirteen relations of the President billeted on the country, not one of whom but for this relationship would have been brought forward, the whole constituting a case of nepotism not unworthy of those worst governments where office is a family possession.
Beyond the list of thirteen are other revelations, showing that this strange abuse did not stop with the President's relations, but that these obtained appointments for others in their circle, so that every relation became a centre of influence, while the Presidential family extended indefinitely.