Page images
PDF
EPUB

ise in the protocol with Baez, signed in his name by Orville E. Babcock, entitled therein "Aide-de-Camp to his Excellency General Ulysses S. Grant, President of the United States of America"- he was lobbyist. That such things can be done by a President without indignant condemnation, loud and universal, shows a painful demoralization in the country. That their author can be presented for reëlection to the Presidency, whose powers he has thus misused, shows a disheartening insensibility to public virtue.

Here I remark, that, so long as the President confined himself to negotiation, he was strictly within the line of the Constitution. Even if indiscreet in character and impolitic in object, it was not unconstitutional. But in seizing war powers without the authority of Congress, in upholding the usurper Baez that he might sell his country, in menacing the Black Republic, and then in playing the lobbyist to promote the contrivance, the President did what no other President ever did before, and what, for the sake of Republican Institutions, should be rebuked by the American people. It was the knowledge of these proceedings that changed essentially my relations to the question.

PERSONAL MISREPRESENTATIONS.

I ALLUDE with hesitation to personal misrepresentations on the matter. It has been said that I promised originally to support the treaty. This is a mistake. I knew nothing of the treaty, and had no suspicion of it, until several months after the protocol, and some time. after the negotiation was completed; and then my simple promise was that it should have from me "the most

careful and candid consideration"; and such I gave it most sincerely. At first my opposition was reserved and without allusion to the President. It was only when the strange business was fully disclosed in official documents communicated in confidence to the Senate, and it was still pressed, that I felt impelled to a sterner resistance. Especially was I constrained, when I found how much the people of Hayti suffered. It so happened that I had reported the bill acknowledging their independence and establishing diplomatic relations between our two countries, assuring that equality which had been violated. Not unmoved could I witness the wrong inflicted upon them. And has it come to this, that the President of the Great Republic, instead of carrying peace and good tidings to Africans commencing the experiment of self-government, should become to them an agent of terror?

It is difficult to see how I could have done otherwise. Anxious to excuse the anger towards me, it has been said that I opposed the treaty because Mr. Motley was unceremoniously removed from the mission at London; and here you will see the extent to which misrepresentation has gone. It so happens that Mr. Motley was removed on the day immediately following the rejection of the treaty. Evidently my opposition was not influenced by the removal: was the removal influenced by my opposition?

Equally absurd is the story that I am now influenced by personal feelings. I am a public servant, trained to duty; and now, as always before, I have yielded only to this irresistible mandate. With me there is no alternative. The misconduct of the President, so apparent in the San Domingo device, became more conspicuous

in the light of illustrative facts, showing it to be part of a prevailing misrule, which, for the sake of our country, should not be prolonged. As a patriot citizen, anxious for the national welfare and renown, am I obliged to declare these convictions.

I am now brought to those two chief measures to be advanced by the election of Horace Greeley, each of controlling importance, one looking directly to purity and efficiency in the government, and the other to the peace and welfare of our country.

ONE-TERM PRINCIPLE.

THE principle of One Term for President is the corner-stone of a reformed civil service. So plain is this to my apprehension, that I am at a loss to understand how any one sincerely in favor of such reform can fail to insist upon this principle. All experience shows that the employment of the appointing power to promote the personal ends of the President is the great disturbing influence in our civil service. Here is the comprehensive abuse which envelops all the offices of the country, making them tributary to one man, and subordinate to his desires. Let this be changed, and you have the first stage of reform, without which all other measures are dilatory, if not feeble and inefficient. How futile to recommend, as is done by the Commissioners on Civil Service," an honest competitive examination," while the rules for this system are left to the discretion of a President seeking reëlection! "Lead us not into temptation" is part of the brief prayer we are all taught to repeat; nor are Presidents above the necessity of this

prayer. The misuse of the appointing power to advance ambitious aims is a temptation to which a President must not be exposed. For his sake, and for the sake of the country, this must not be.

In attributing peril to this influence, I speak not only from my own careful observation, but from the testimony of others whose words are authoritative. You do not forget how Andrew Jackson declared that the limitation of the office to one term was required, in order to place the President "beyond the reach of any improper influences" and "uncommitted to any other course than the strict line of constitutional duty," 1. how William Henry Harrison announced, that, with the adoption of this principle, "the incumbent would devote all his time to the public interest, and there would be no cause to misrule the country," 2- how Henry Clay was satisfied, after much observation and reflection, “that too much of the time, the thoughts, and the exertions of the incumbent are occupied during his first term in securing his reëlection," 3-and how my senatorial associate of many years, Benjamin F. Wade, after denouncing the reëligibility of the President, said, "There are defects in the Constitution, and this is among the most glaring."4 According to this experienced Senator, the reëligibility of the President is not only a defect in the Constitution, but one of its most glaring defects.

And such also was the declared opinion of the pres

1 Annual Message, 21st Cong. 2d Sess., December 7, 1830.

2 Speech at the Dayton Convention, September 10, 1840: Niles's Register, Vol. LIX. p. 70.

3 Speech at Taylorsville, Hanover County, Va., June 27, 1840: Works, Vol. VI. p. 421.

4 Speech in the Senate, February 20, 1866: Congressional Globe, 39th Cong. 1st Sess., p. 932.

ent incumbent before his election and the temptation. of a second term. It has been stated by one who conferred with him at the time, that immediately before his nomination General Grant said, in the spirit of Andrew Jackson, "The liberties of the country cannot be maintained without a One-Term Amendment of the Constitution"; and another writes me, that while on a walk between the White House and the Treasury, just at the head of the steps, near the fountain, the General paused a moment, and said, "I am in favor of restricting the President to a single term, and of abolishing the office of Vice-President." By the authority of this declaration, the "Morning Chronicle," 1 the organ of the Republican party at Washington, proclaimed of its Presidential candidate, "He is, moreover, an advocate of the One-Term principle, as conducing toward the proper administration of the law"; and then at a later date,2 after calling for the adoption of this principle, the same Republican organ said, "General Grant is in favor of it." Unquestionably at that time, while the canvass was proceeding, he allowed himself to be commended as a supporter of this principle. That he should now disregard it gives new reason for the prayer, "Lead us not into temptation."

Never before was the necessity for this beneficent Amendment more apparent; for never before was the wide-spread abuse from the reëligibility of the President more grievously conspicuous. De Tocqueville, the illustrious Frenchman, who saw our institutions with a vision quickened by genius and chastened by friendly regard, discerned the peril, when he said:

Intrigue and corruption are the natural vices of elective government; but when the head of the State can be reëlected, 2 July 14, 1869.

1 June 3, 1869.

« PreviousContinue »