The United States Since The Civil War
Charles Ramsdell Lingley

Part 2 out of 9

fewer than four hundred and forty-seven industries employed more than a
million dollars of capital each. The manufacturing of cotton, woolen
and silk for the rest of the country was done here; foundry products,
iron and steel manufactures, silver and brass goods, refined petroleum,
boots and shoes, paper and books, with a host of other articles, were
sent from this section to every part of the world. All along the line,
from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania, capital engaged in manufacturing
doubled between 1880 and 1890, and the number of employees greatly

Although the industrial life of the South belongs, for the most part,
to the years since 1890, the coal and iron deposits of Alabama were
known and utilized before that year, the number of cotton mill spindles
in North Carolina tripled between 1880 and 1890, and cotton expositions
were held in Atlanta in 1881 and New Orleans in 1884. It was in the
eighties, also, that the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad and the Norfolk
and Western led to the exploitation of the coal deposits of Virginia
and West Virginia, especially the famous Pocahontas field.

Some aspects of the growth of manufacturing in the North are well
illustrated in the development of the mineral resources around Lake
Superior. The presence of copper and iron in this region had long been
known, but they had not been utilized until a decade before the Civil
War, and even then the output had been greatly restricted by
insufficient transportation facilities. By the close of the war,
however, a canal had been constructed which allowed the passage of
barges from Lake Superior to Lake Huron, and railroads had been laid to
a few important mining centers. The Marquette iron range in northern
Michigan, the Gogebic in Wisconsin and Michigan, the Menominee near
Marquette, the Vermilion Lake and Mesabec ore-beds near Duluth,--all
these combined to yield millions of tons of ore, caused the development
of numerous mining towns and laid the foundations of a gigantic
expansion in the production of steel. As the iron and steel industry
with its furnaces, machinery and skilled labor was already established
at points in Illinois, Ohio and western Pennsylvania, it was cheaper to
transport the ore to these places than to transfer the industry to the
mines. Ore vessels were constructed capable of carrying mammoth
cargoes; docks, railroads and canals were built; and the products of
the mines taken to lake and inland cities. Improvements, meanwhile,
were being continually made in the steel industry, such as the Bessemer
process, by which the impurities were burned out of the iron ore, and
exactly enough carbon introduced into the molten metal to transform it
into steel.

Although the steel industry was established in many places, its most
dramatic growth occurred in those parts of eastern Ohio and western
Pennsylvania that center about the city of Pittsburg. Placed
strategically at the point where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers
join to form the Ohio, in the midst of an area rich in coal, petroleum
and natural gas, Pittsburg rapidly became the center of a region in
which the development of manufacturing and the construction of
railroads dwarfed other interests. A large portion of the ore mined in
the Lake Superior fields was carried to the Pittsburg district to be
transformed into steel products of all kinds. Moreover, the fortunes
made by private individuals in the region, and the inflow of alien
laborers to work in the factories and on the railroads raised weighty
social and industrial problems.

Manifestly the extension of agriculture and industry in so large a
country as the United States was dependent upon the corresponding
growth of the means of transportation, both by water and by rail. A
detailed account of the expansion of the railway net, with the
accompanying' implications in the fields of finance and politics, is a
matter for later consideration. Certain of its general features may be
mentioned, however, because they are intimately interwoven with the
economic developments which have just been explained. The concentration
of the population in the cities, of which New York and Chicago were
outstanding examples, was one of these features. From the time of the
first census, the city of New York continued to maintain its position
as the most populous city of the nation. Between 1850 and 1890 it added
a round million to its numbers, containing 1,515,000 persons at the
later date. Moreover it was the center of a thriving and thickly
settled region extending from New Haven on the one side to Philadelphia
on the other--the most densely populated area in America. The
uninterrupted expansion of the city indicated that the reasons for its
growth were constant in their operation. And, in fact, the reasons were
not difficult to find. It was blessed with one of the world's finest
harbors and had access to the interior of the state by way of the
Hudson and Mohawk rivers. These natural advantages had long since been
recognized and had been increased by the construction of the Erie Canal
in 1825 which, with the Great Lakes and the several canals connecting
the Lakes with the Ohio Valley, had given New York an early hold and
almost a monopoly on the trade between the upper Mississippi, the Lakes
and the coast. The city, therefore, became an importing and exporting
center; its shipping interests grew, immigration flowed in, and its
manufacturing establishments soon outstripped those of any other
industrial center; the great printing and publishing, banking and
commercial firms were drawn irresistibly to the most populous city, and
Wall Street became the synonym for the financial center of the nation.

In 1840 Chicago had been an unimportant settlement of 4500 persons, but
by the opening of the war it had grown to twenty-five times that size,
and added 800,000 between 1870 and 1890. It had early become evident
that the city was the natural outlet toward the East for the grain
trade and the slaughtering and meatpacking industry of the upper
Mississippi Valley. Before the late sixties, however, railway
connection was defective, being composed of many short lines rather
than of one continuous road, so that freight had to be loaded and
unloaded many times during its passage to the seaboard. This situation,
which had been merely inconvenient before the war, had become little
short of intolerable during the struggle, because the closing of the
Mississippi had cut off from the Middle West its water outlet toward
the South and had diverted more freight to the railroads. After the
war, Cornelius Vanderbilt, president of the Hudson River Railroad,
combined a number of the shorter roads so as to give uninterrupted
communication between Chicago and New York, to tap the trade of the
Mississippi Valley, and to compete with water traffic by way of the
Great Lakes and the Erie Canal. Other railroads saw the possibilities
in the western trade, and the Baltimore and Ohio, the Grand Trunk, and
the Erie followed the lead of Vanderbilt. A similar development,
although on a smaller scale, accompanied the growth of other northern
cities. The retroactive effects of the roads on the distribution of the
population are too detailed for discussion, but a single example may
typify many. In 1870 the Maine farmer supplied much of the meat
consumed in Boston; by 1895, he was getting his own meat from the West.
He must, therefore, adapt himself to the new conditions if he could,
move to the manufacturing cities as so many of his neighbors did, or
migrate to the West.

Like the growth of New York and Chicago, the development of California
had an important effect on the history of American railway
transportation. Although it had been agitated for many years, the
project for a railroad from the Mississippi to the Pacific Coast had
not reached the construction stage until the congressional acts of 1862
and 1864 provided for a line to be built from Omaha to San Francisco.
The Union Pacific Railroad had been incorporated to build the eastern
end, while the western end was to be constructed by the Central Pacific
Railroad Company, a California corporation. The latter act, that of
1864, had given the roads substantial financial assistance and half the
public land on a strip forty miles wide along the line of the track.
Many difficulties had stood in the way--lack of funds, problems of
construction and inadequate labor supply. Eventually they had all been
overcome by the energy and skill of such men as Stanford, Crocker and
Huntington. Imported Chinese coolies had met the labor demand and
construction was speeded up. Actual building had begun in 1863 and six
years later the two roads met at Promontory Point near Ogden in Utah,
where the last spike was driven, the engines

Facing on the single track,
Half a world behind each back.

During the four years following the completion of the transcontinental
line, 24,000 miles of new railroad were constructed, much of which was
built into the wilderness ahead of settlement. So great an expansion,
coming at a time when immense stretches of new land were being opened
and industry being developed on a large scale, could hardly fail to
result in over-speculation. The results appeared in 1873. Jay Cooke and
Company, the most important financial concern in the country had been
back of the Northern Pacific Railroad, marketing large quantities of
its bonds and so providing capital for construction, the purchase of
equipment, the payment of wages and so on. Obviously a large amount of
money was thus being put into an enterprise from which returns would
come only after a considerable period; and yet construction had to be
continued, or what was already invested would be lost. What Cooke was
doing for the Northern Pacific was being done for the Chesapeake and
Ohio by Fisk and Hatch, and by other firms for speculative enterprises
in every corner of the land.

The process of putting capital into fixed form could hardly go on
forever, and several events led to a final crash. In 1871 and 1872
great fires in Chicago and Boston destroyed millions of dollars' worth
of property. Early in 1873 the government investigation of the Credit
Mobilier Company led to widespread distrust of the roads and made
investors conservative about buying bonds. On September 18, 1873, Jay
Cooke and Company found itself unable to continue business and closed
its doors. The failure was a thunderbolt to the financial world.
Indeed, so unbelievable was the news that an energetic policeman
arrested a small newsboy who shouted his "Extra--All about the failure
of Jay Cooke."

If Jay Cooke and Company fell, the sky might fall. People rushed to
withdraw their funds from the banks. Fisk and Hatch opened their doors
for fifteen minutes and received calls for $1,500,000. They closed at
once. The smaller financial institutions followed the bigger ones.
Stocks fell, the Exchange was closed, there was a money famine.
Industrial concerns, dependent on the banks, failed by scores.
Industrial paralysis, with railroad receiverships, laborers out of
employment, riots and their accompaniments, showed how deep-seated had
been the trouble. Not until late in the decade did business recover its
former prosperity.

With the return of more stable conditions the construction of railroads
continued unabated. The Northern Pacific ran near the Canadian line and
connected the upper Mississippi Valley with the coast, carrying in its
trail the manners and customs of the East. Two lines in the South were
extended to the Pacific, so that by the middle eighties four great main
avenues gave passage through a region over which, so recently, the
miner and the trapper had forced a dangerous path.

The fact that it was often necessary, in building the railroads across
the plains, to detail half the working force to protect the remainder
against the Indians, calls attention to one unmistakable result of the
conquest of the Far West. The construction of the railroads spelled the
doom of the wild Indian. Far back in 1834 the government had adopted
the policy of setting aside large tracts of land west of the
Mississippi for the use of the Indian tribes. Most of the savages had
been stationed in an immense area between southern Minnesota and Texas,
while other smaller reservations had been scattered over most of the
states west of the river. On the whole, the government had dealt with
the Indians in tribes, not as individuals. The rapid inflow of
population to the fertile lands, together with the rush of prospectors
to newly discovered supplies of gold and silver, caused increasing
demands from the Indians for protection, and from the whites for the
extinguishment of Indian land titles.

The classical illustration of this tendency is found in the case of the
Sioux Indians in South Dakota. The discovery of gold in the region of
the Black Hills, on the Sioux reservation, aroused agitation for the
removal of the tribe to make way for settlers and miners. But the
execution of the scheme was not so simple as its conception. The
removal of the Sioux necessitated the transfer of the Poncas, a
peaceful tribe which lay immediately east. The latter, not unnaturally,
objected, quarrels arose and eventually the Poncas were practically
broken to pieces. The Sioux, not satisfied, attempted to regain the
Black Hills, fought the famous Sioux War of 1876, led by Sitting Bull,
but were crushed and forced to give up the unequal contest.

It would not be worth while to enter into the details of the numerous
Indian conflicts after the Civil War. It is enough to notice that
stirring accounts of them may be read in the memoirs of such soldiers
as Custer, Sheridan and Miles, and that they cost millions of dollars
and hundreds of lives. Finally it became evident that the attempt to
deal with the Indians in tribes was a failure and it was determined to
break up the tribal holdings of land so as to give each individual a
small piece for his private property, and to open the remainder to
settlement by the whites. In pursuance of such a policy, the Dawes Act
of 1887 provided for the allotment of a quarter-section to each head of
a family, with the proviso that the owner should not sell the land
within twenty-five years. This was intended to protect the Indian from
shrewd "land-sharks." Citizenship was given with the ownership of the
land, in the hope that a sort of assimilation might gradually take
place, and earnest attempts were made to provide education for the
red-man. Not all these hopes were realized, however, and the later
Burke Act, 1906, attempted further protection.

While the Indian was being restricted to a small part of the great
region west of the Mississippi, there was being enacted on the plains
one of the most picturesque of all American dramas. Beyond the settled
parts of the states just west of the "Father of Waters," bounded north
and south by Canada and the Rio Grande, and extending west to the Rocky
Mountain foot-hills, lay a huge empire of rolling territory. It was
grass-covered, but lacked sufficient rainfall to make it fertile, so
that it was considered, as part of it had early been called, "the great
American desert."

Cattle turned loose long before by Spanish ranchers down in the
Southwest had multiplied, spread out over the plains, and run
wild--wild as Texas steers. A combination of circumstances disclosed
the fact that these cattle could be improved by breeding, corraled and
driven north over the "Long Trail," to be slaughtered in Omaha, Kansas
City, St. Louis and Chicago for the people of eastern cities. The
round-up, when the cattle were collected; the drive, under command of
the boss and his cow-boys,

loose in the unfenced blue riding the sunset rounds;

the great ranches in the North, where the herds were fattened for the
market;--all this formed the background of an attractive romance.
Obviously, however, the drive was dependent on great stretches of open
country, with free grazing and free access to water, and it is also
manifest that these conditions could not long endure in the face of
constant westward migration. Homesteaders followed the railroads out
across the plains, and the cheapening of wire fence led to the
enclosure of great farms including the best grazing lands and the water
supply. By 1890, therefore, the great drives were a tale that is told.
The less romantic packing business remained, however; ranches supplied
the cattle, the railroads transported them, and improvements in
refrigerating and canning made possible another development in domestic
and foreign trade.

In addition to the expansion of the several economic interests of the
various sections of the country, inventions and improvements were
taking place which affected the general problems of production and
distribution. Improvements in machinery saved forty to eighty per cent.
of the time and labor demanded in the production of important
manufactured goods. Cheapened steel affected all kinds of industry. The
development of steam-power and the beginnings of the practical use of
electricity for power and light multiplied the effectiveness of human
hands or added to human comfort. Cheaper and quicker transportation
almost revolutionized the distribution of economic goods. The increased
use of the telegraph and cable shortened distances and brought together
producers and consumers that had in earlier times been weeks of travel

The necessarily statistical character of an account of economic
development should not obscure the meaning of its details. Increased
population, with its horde of incoming aliens, created a demand for
standing room, necessitated westward expansion, and made the West more
than ever a new country with new problems. The growth of agriculture
enlarged a class that had not hitherto been as influential as it was
destined to be, and brought into politics the economic needs of the
farmer. Manufacturing brought great wealth into the hands of a few,
created an increasing demand for protective tariffs and gave rise to
strikes and other industrial problems. The concentration of especial
interests in especial sections made likely the emergence of sectional
antagonisms. Back of tariff and finance, therefore, back of
transportation and labor, of new political parties and revolts in the
old ones, of the great strikes and the increasing importance of some of
the sections, lay the economic foundations of the new era.


No thorough study of the economic history of the United States after
the Civil War has yet been made. E.L. Bogart, _Economic History of the
United States_ (1907), and various later editions, is the best single
volume; E.E. Sparks, _National Development_ (1907), is useful. On the
South, consult articles by St. G.L. Sioussat, in _History Teachers'
Magazine_ (Sept., Oct., 1916); P.A. Bruce, _Rise of the New South_
(1905); J.C. Ballagh (ed.), _South in the Building of the Nation_
(1909), vol. VI; M.B. Hammond, _Cotton Industry_ (1897). R.P. Porter,
_West from the Census of 1880_ (1882), is a useful compendium. The
Plains in the day of the cowboy are well described in Emerson Hough,
_Passing of the Frontier_ (1918); Emerson Hough, _Story of the Cowboy_
(1898); F.L. Paxson, _Last American Frontier_ (1910); and F.L. Paxson,
"The Cow Country," in _American Historical Review_, Oct., 1916. N.A.
Miles, _Serving the Republic_ (1911), contains reminiscences of Indian
conflicts. On the Far West, in addition to Porter, Hough and Paxson,
Katharine Coman, _Economic Beginnings of the Far West_ (2 vols., 1912);
H.K. White, _Union Pacific Railway_ (1898); L.H. Haney, _Congressional
History of Railways_ (2 vols., 1908-1910); S.E. White, _The
Forty-Niners_ (1918).

There is also an abundance of useful illustrative fiction, such as:
Bret Harte, _Luck of Roaring Camp_, and other stories (Far West);
Edward Eggleston, _Hoosier Schoolmaster_ (Indiana); W.D. Howells,
_Rise of Silas Lapham_ (New England); G.W. Cable, _Old Creole Days_
(New Orleans); C.E. Craddock, _In the Tennessee Mountains_; F.H.
Smith, _Colonel Carter_ (Virginia); Hamlin Garland, _Main Travelled
Roads_ and _Son of the Middle Border_ (Middle West); P.L. Ford, _Hon.
Peter Sterling_ (New York); S.E. White, _Gold_ (California); and
_Riverman_ (Lake Superior lumber); John Hay, _Breadwinners_ (industrial).

For other references to economic aspects of the period, see chapters

* * * * *

[1] The ratio was 151,912 but, by a provision of the Constitution,
states are given a representative even if they do not contain the
requisite number.

[2] The most important advances in municipal street railway
transportation were made between 1875 and 1890. In 1876 New York began
the construction of an overhead or elevated railway on which trains
were drawn by small locomotives. The first electric street railways
were operated in Richmond, Va., and in Baltimore. Electric street
lighting was introduced in San Francisco in 1879.

[3] Hamlin Garland, _Main Travelled Roads_, portrays the hardships of
western farm life.



Powerful as economic forces were from 1865 to 1890, they did not alone
determine the direction of American progress during those years.
Different individuals and different sections of the country reacted
differently to the same economic facts; a formula that explained a
phenomenon satisfactorily to one group, carried no conviction to
another; political parties built up their platforms on economic
self-interest, and yet they sometimes had their ideals; theories that
seemed to explain economic development were found to be inadequate and
were replaced by others; and practices that had earlier been regarded
with indifference began to offend the public sense of good taste or
morals or justice, and gave way to more enlightened standards. Some
understanding is necessary, therefore, of the more common theories,
ideals, creeds and practices, because they supplemented the economic
foundations that underlay American progress for a quarter century after
the war.

Since the Republican party was almost continuously in power during this
period, its composition, spirit and ideals were fundamental in
political history. Throughout the North, and especially in the
Northeast, the intellectual and prosperous classes, the capitalists and
manufacturers, were more likely to be found in the Republican party
than among the Democrats. In fact such party leaders as Senator George
F. Hoar went so far as to assert that the organization comprised the
manufacturers and skilled laborers of the East, the soldiers, the
church members, the clergymen, the school-teachers, the reformers and
the men who were doing the great work of temperance, education and
philanthropy. The history of the party, also, was no small factor in
its successes. Many northerners had cast their first ballot in the
fifties, with all the zeal of crusaders; they looked back upon the
beginnings of Republicanism as they might have remembered the origin of
a sacred faith; they thought of their party as the body which had
abolished slavery and restored the Union; and they treasured the names
of its Lincoln, its Seward, its Sumner and Grant and Sherman. The
Republican party, wrote Edward MacPherson in 1888, in a history of the
organization, is

both in the purity of its doctrines, the beneficent sweep of its
measures, in its courage, its steadfastness, its fidelity, in its
achievements and in its example, the most resplendent political
organization the world has ever seen.

Senator Hoar declared that no party in history, not even that which
inaugurated the Constitution, had ever accomplished so much in so short
a time. It had been formed, he said, to prevent the extension of
slavery into the territories, but the "providence of God imposed upon
it far larger duties." The Republican party gave "honest, wise, safe,
liberal, progressive American counsel" and the Democrats "unwise,
unsafe, illiberal, obstructive, un-American counsel." He remembered the
Republican nominating convention of 1880 as a scene of "indescribable
sublimity," comparable in "grandeur and impressiveness to the mighty
torrent of Niagara."

During the generation after the war the recollection of the struggle
was fresh in men's minds and its influence was a force in party
councils. The Democrats were looked upon as having sympathized with the
"rebellion" and having been the party of disunion. In campaign after
campaign the people were warned not to admit to power the party which
had been "traitor" to the Union. Roscoe Conkling, the most influential
politician in New York, declared in 1877 that the Democrats wished to
regain power in order to use the funds in the United States Treasury to
repay Confederate war debts and to provide pensions for southern
soldiers. As late even as 1888 the nation was urged to recollect that
the Democratic party had been the "mainstay and support of the
Rebellion," while the Republicans were the "party that served the

At a later time it was pointed out that the party had not been founded
solely on idealism; that the adherence of Pennsylvania to the party,
for example, was due at least in a measure to Republican advocacy of a
protective tariff; that Salmon P. Chase and Edwin M. Stanton, two of
the leading members of Lincoln's cabinet had been Democrats; and that
Lincoln's second election and the successful outcome of the war had
been due partly to the support of his political opponents. As time went
on, also, some of the leaders of the Republican party declared that its
original ideals had become obscured in more practical considerations.
They felt that abuses had grown up which had been little noticed
because of the necessity of keeping in power that party which they
regarded as the only patriotic one. They asserted that many of the
managers had become arrogant and corrupt. All this helped to explain
the strength of such revolts as that of the Liberal Republican movement
of 1872. Nevertheless, during the greater part of the twenty-five years
after the war, hosts of Republicans cherished such a picture as that
drawn by Senator Hoar and Edward MacPherson, and it was that picture
which held them within the party and made patriotism and Republicanism
synonymous terms.

These Republicans, however, who took the more critical attitude toward
their party formed the core of the "Mugwump" or Independent movement.
Their philosophy was simple. They believed that there ought to be a
political element which was not rigidly controlled by the discipline of
party organization, which would act upon its own judgment for the
public interest, and which should be a reminder to both parties that
neither could venture upon mischievous policies without endangering its
control over the machinery of government. Theoretically, at least, the
Independent believed that it was more important that government be well
administered than that it be administered by one set of men or another.
The weakness of this group, aside from its small size, was its
impatience and impracticability. By nature the Independent was an
individualist, forming his own opinion and holding it with tenacity. In
such a body there could not be long-continued cooperation or singleness
of purpose; each new problem caused new decisions resulting in the
break-up of the group and the formation of new alignments. The
Independent group, therefore, varied in strength from campaign to
campaign. To the typical party worker, who looked upon politics as a
warfare for the spoils of office, the Independent was variously
denounced as a deserter, a traitor, an apostate and a guerilla
deploying between the lines and foraging now on one side and now on the
other. To the party wheel-horse, independent voting seemed
impracticable, and the atmosphere of reform too "highly scented."

The Democrats, laboring under the disadvantage of a reputation for
disloyalty during the war, and kept out of power for most of the time
during the period, were forced into a defensive position where they
could complain or criticize, but not present a program of constructive
achievement. They denounced the election of 1876 as a great "fraud";
they looked upon the Republicans as the organ of those who demanded
class advantages; they condemned the party as wasteful, corrupt and
extravagant in administration, careless of the distress of the masses,
and desirous of increasing the authority of the federal government at
the expense of the powers of the states. Their own mission they felt to
be the constant assertion of the opposite principles of government and
administration. They felt that they in particular represented
government by the people for the equal good of all classes. In
conformity to what they believed to be the principles of Jefferson and
Jackson they professed faith in the capacity of the plain people. They
advocated frugality and economy in government expenditure and looked
with alarm on any extension of federal power that invaded the
traditional domain of local activity.

The intensification of party spirit and party loyalty, which was so
typical of the times, "delivered the citizen more effectually, bound
hand and foot, into the power of the party embodied in its
Organization." The organization, meanwhile, was being improved and
strengthened. Its permanent National Committee which had existed from
_ante-bellum_ days, was supplemented in both parties immediately after
the war by the congressional committee, whose mission it was to carry
the elections for the House of Representatives. Increased attention was
paid to state and local organizations. Party conventions in states and
counties chose delegates to national conventions and nominated
candidates for office. State, county and town committees raised money,
employed speakers, distributed literature, formed torch-light companies
to march in party processions and, most important of all, got out the
voters on election day. By such means the National Committee was
enabled to keep in close touch with the rank and file of the party, and
so complete did the organization become that it deserved and won the
name, "the machine."

The master-spirit of the machine was usually the "Boss," a professional
politician who generally did not himself hold elective office or show
concern in constructive programs of legislation or in the public
welfare. Instead, his interests lay in winning elections; dividing the
offices among the party workers; distributing profitable contracts for
public work; procuring the passage of legislation desired by industrial
or railroad companies, or blocking measures objected to by them. A
vivid picture of the activities of the boss in New York, drawn by Elihu
Root, will serve to portray conditions in many states and cities from
1865 to 1890:

From the days of Fenton, and Conkling, and Arthur, and Cornell,
and Platt, from the days of David B. Hill, down to the present
time, the government of the state has presented two different lines
of activity, one of the constitutional and statutory officers of
the state, and the other of the party leaders,--they call them
party bosses. They call the system--I do not coin the phrase, I
adopt it because it carries its own meaning--the system they call
"invisible government." For I do not remember how many years, Mr.
Conkling was the supreme ruler in this state; the governor did not
count, the legislatures did not count; comptrollers and secretaries
of state and what not, did not count. It was what Mr. Conkling
said; and in a great outburst of public rage he was pulled down.

Then Mr. Platt ruled the state; for nigh upon twenty years he ruled
it. It was not the governor; it was not the legislature; it was not
any elected officers; it was Mr. Platt. And the capitol was not
here (in Albany); it was at 49 Broadway; with Mr. Platt and his
lieutenants. It makes no difference what name you give, whether you
call it Fenton or Conkling or Cornell or Arthur or Platt, or by the
names of men now living. The ruler of the state during the greater
part of the forty years of my acquaintance with the state
government has not been any man authorized by the constitution or
by the law.[1]

Under such conditions, corruption was naturally a commonplace in
politics. In the campaigns, the party managers were too often men to
whom "nothing was dreadful but defeat." At every Presidential election,
immense sums of money were poured into the most important doubtful
states--Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Indiana. Twenty to
seventy-five dollars was said to have been the price of a vote in
Indiana in 1880; and ten to fifteen per cent. of the vote in
Connecticut was thought to be purchasable. In New York ballot-box
stuffing and repeating were the rule in sections of the city. Employers
exerted a less crude but equally efficacious pressure upon their
employees to vote "right." Municipal government also was often
characterized by that extreme of corruption which called out the scorn
of writers on public affairs. The New York _Times_ complained in 1877
that the government of the city was no more a popular government than
Turkish rule in Bulgaria, and that if the Tammany leaders did not
collect revenue with the horse-whip and sabre, it was because the forms
of law afforded a means that was pleasanter, easier and quite as

Federal officials, it must be admitted, did not set a high standard for
local officers to follow. During Grant's administration five judges of
a United States Court were driven from office by threats of
impeachment; members of the Committee on Military Affairs in the House
of Representatives sold their privilege of selecting young men to be
educated at West Point; and candidates for even the highest offices in
the gift of the nation were sometimes men whose political past would
not bear the light of day. More difficult to overcome was the lack of a
decent sense of propriety among many public officers. Members of the
Senate practiced before the Supreme Court, the justices of which they
had an important share in appointing; senators and representatives
traded in the securities of railroads which were seeking favors at the
hands of Congress; and even in the most critical circles, corrupt
practices were condoned on the ground that all the most reputable
people were more or less engaged in similar activities. Most difficult
of all to understand was the unfaltering support accorded by men of the
utmost integrity to party leaders whose evil character was known on all
sides. Men who would not themselves be guilty of dishonest acts and who
vehemently condemned such deeds among their political opponents, failed
to make any energetic protest within their own ranks for fear that they
might bring about a party split and thus give the "enemy" a victory.

The political practices which prevailed after 1865 for at least a
quarter of a century were notoriously bad. Yet the student of the
period must be sensitive to higher aspirations and better practices
among many of the politicians, and among the rank and file of the
people. George F. Hoar, John Sherman, Rutherford B. Hayes, Grover
Cleveland and many others were incorruptible. The exposure of
scandalous actions on the part of certain high officials blasted their
careers, indicating that the body of the people would not condone
dishonesty, and the parties found it advisable to accept the
resignations of some of their more notorious campaign managers.
Moreover, the American people of all classes were a political people,
with a capacity for political organization and activity, and with a
passion for change. The cruder forms of corruption were successfully
combated, and the popular, as well as the official sense of good taste
and propriety gradually reached higher levels.

Another fundamental political consideration after the Civil War was the
gradual reduction of the power of the executive department. During the
war the authority exercised by President Lincoln had risen to great
heights, partly because of his personal characteristics and partly
because the exigencies of the times demanded quick executive action.
After the conflict was past, however, the legislative body naturally
reasserted itself. Moreover, the quarrel between President Johnson and
Congress, as has been shown, took the form of a contest for control
over appointments to office and especially over appointments to the
cabinet. The resulting impeachment, although it did not result in
conviction, brought about a distinct shrinkage in executive prestige.
Grant was so inexperienced in politics and so naive in his judgments of
his associates that he fell completely into the power of the machine
and failed to revive the former importance and independence of his

The ascendancy which thus slipped out of the hands of the executive was
seized by the Senate, where it remained for a long period, despite
efforts on the part of the president and the House of Representatives
to prevent it. So remarkable and continuous a domination is not to be
explained by a single formula. The long term of the members of the
Senate, the traditional high reputation of the body and the undoubted
ability of many of its members assisted in upholding its prestige. Its
small size as compared with the House of Representatives gave it
greater flexibility. Furthermore, certain Senate practices were
instrumental in giving that body its primacy. Under the provisions of
the Constitution the Senate has power to ratify or reject the
nominations of the executive to many important positions within his
gift, and by the close of reconstruction it had acquired a firm control
over such appointments. "Senatorial courtesy" bade every member,
regardless of party, to concur with the decision of the senators from
any state with regard to the appointments in which they were
interested. When, therefore, the executive wished to change conditions
in a given office he must have the acquiescence of the senators from
the state in which the change was to occur. If he did not, the entire
body would rally to the support of their colleagues and refuse to
confirm the objectionable nominations. With such a weapon the Senate
was usually able to force the executive into submission, or at least to
make reforms extremely difficult. In Senator Hoar's suggestive words,
senators went to the White House to give advice, not to receive it.

In connection with revenue legislation the Senate seized the leadership
by means of an evasion of the Constitution. According to the terms of
that document, all bills for raising revenue must originate in the
House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose amendments.
Relying upon this power the Senate constantly revised measures to the
extent of changing their character completely and even of grafting part
or all of one proposal upon the title of another. In one case, early in
the period, the Senate "amended" a House bill of four lines which
repealed the tariff on tea and coffee; the "amendment" consisted of
twenty pages, containing a general revision of customs duties and
internal revenue taxes. At a later time the Senate Finance Committee
drew up a tariff bill even before Congress had assembled.

The primacy of the Senate quickly led to recognition of the value of
seats in it. Influential state politicians sought election in order to
control the patronage. Competent judges in the early nineties declared,
for example, that the senators from New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland
were all of this type. Another considerable fraction was composed of
powerful business men, directors in large corporations, who found it to
their advantage to be in this most influential law-making body and who
were known as oil or silver or lumber senators. So was laid the
foundation of the complaint that the Senate was a millionaires' club.
And so, too, it came about that much of state politics revolved about
the choice of members for the upper house, for senators were elected by
the state legislatures until long after 1890. The power of the House of
Representatives, in contrast with the Senate, was relatively small
except during the single session 1889-1891, when Thomas B. Reed was in
control, although individual members sometimes wielded considerable

Somewhat comparable to the shift in the center of power from one
federal authority to another, was the change which took place in the
relative strength of the state and national governments. This transfer
was most clearly seen in the decisions of the Supreme Court in cases
involving the Fourteenth Amendment.

Previous to 1868, when the Amendment became part of the Constitution,
comparatively little state legislation relating to private property had
been reviewed by the Court. Ever since the establishment of the federal
government, cases involving the constitutionality of state legislation
had been appealed to United States Courts when they had been objected
to as running counter to the clauses of the Constitution forbidding
states to enact bills of attainder, _ex post facto_ laws, or laws
impairing the obligation of contracts. Their number, however, had been
relatively small, and normally the acts of state legislatures had not
been reviewed by federal courts; or in other words the tendency had
been to preserve the individuality and strength of the several states.
After the war, the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments placed
additional prohibitions on the states, and the decisions of the Supreme
Court determined the meaning and extent of the added provisions. The
interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment was especially important.
Most significant was the interpretation of Section 1, which reads as

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject
to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States
and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or
enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges and immunities
of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any
person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;
nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection
of the laws.

So vague and inclusive were these phrases that many important questions
immediately sprang from them. What were the privileges and immunities
of the citizen? Did those of the citizen of the United States differ
from those of the citizen of a state? Was a corporation a person? What
was liberty? What was due process of law? Hitherto the protection of
life, liberty and property had rested, in the main, upon the individual
states, and cases involving these subjects had been decided by state
courts. Were the state courts to be superseded, in relation to these
vital subjects, by the United States Supreme Court?

It has already been shown that the purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment
was the protection of the recently freed negro. The Thirteenth
Amendment had forbidden slavery, but the southern states had passed
apprentice and vagrancy laws which reduced the negro to a condition
closely resembling slavery in certain of its aspects. The Fourteenth
Amendment was designed to remedy such a condition by forbidding the
states to abridge the privileges of citizens, or to deprive persons of
life, liberty or property. Were the very vague phrases of the Amendment
merely in keeping with the vagueness of many of the other grants of
power in the Constitution, or were they designedly expressed in such a
way as to accomplish something more than the protection of the

The first decision of the Supreme Court involving the Amendment was
that given in the Slaughter House Cases in 1873, which did not concern
the negro in any way. In 1869 the legislature of Louisiana had given a
corporation in that state the exclusive right to slaughter cattle
within a large area, and had forbidden other persons to construct
slaughter-houses within the limits of this region, but the corporation
was to allow any other persons to use its buildings and equipment,
charging fixed fees for the privilege. Cases were brought before the
courts to determine whether the law violated that part of the
Fourteenth Amendment which forbids a state to pass laws abridging the
privileges of citizens and taking away their property without due
process of law. By a vote of five to four the Court upheld the
constitutionality of the statute.

The majority held that the purpose of the Amendment was primarily the
protection of the negro. This purpose, the Court thought, lay at the
foundation of all three of the war amendments and without it no one of
them would ever have been suggested. The majority did not believe that
the Congress which passed the amendments or the state legislatures
which ratified them intended to transfer the protection of the great
body of civil rights from the states to the federal government. Neither
did they think that due process of law had been interfered with by the
Louisiana legislation. In reply to the objection that the
slaughter-house law violated the clause, "nor shall any State deny to
any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,"
the majority declared:

We doubt very much whether any action of a State not directed by
way of discrimination against the negroes as a class, or on account
of their race, will ever be held to come within the purview of this

In brief, then, the majority was inclined to preserve the balance
between the states and the national government very much as it had
been. It believed that the amendments should be applied mainly if not
wholly to the fortunes of the freedman and that judicial review of such
legislation as that in Louisiana concerning the slaughter of cattle
should end in the state courts.

For a time the interpretation of the Court remained that given by the
majority in this decision. When western state legislatures passed laws
regulating the rates which railroads and certain other corporations
might legally charge for their services, the Court at first showed an
inclination to allow the states a free hand. Regulation of this sort,
it was held, did not deprive the citizen or the corporation of property
without due process of law.

There were indications, nevertheless, that the opinion of the Court was
undergoing a change as time elapsed. An interesting prelude to the
change was an argument by Roscoe Conkling in San Mateo County _v._
Southern Pacific Railroad Company in 1882. Conkling was acting as
attorney for the railroad and was attempting to show that the roads
were protected, by the Fourteenth Amendment, from state laws which
taxed their property unduly. Conkling argued that the Amendment had not
been designed merely for the protection of the freedman, and in order
to substantiate his contention, he produced a manuscript copy of the
journal of the Congressional committee that had drawn up the proposals
which later became the Fourteenth Amendment. He had himself been a
member of the committee. The journal, it should be noticed, had never
hitherto been utilized in public.

Conkling stated that at the time when the Amendment was being drafted,
individuals and companies were appealing for congressional protection
against state taxation laws, and that it had been the purpose of the
committee to frame an amendment which should protect whites as well as
blacks and operate in behalf of corporations as well as individuals. In
other words, Conkling was making the interesting contention that his
committee had had a far wider and deeper purpose in mind in phrasing
the Amendment than had been commonly understood and that the demand for
the protection of the negro from harsh southern legislation had been
utilized to answer the request of business for federal assistance. The
safety of the negro was put to the fore; the purpose of the committee
to strengthen the legal position of the corporations was kept behind
the doors of the committee-room; and the phrases of the Amendment had
been designedly made general in order to accomplish both purposes. The
sequel appeared four years later, in 1886, when the case Santa Clara
County _v._ Southern Pacific Railroad brought the question before the
Court. At this time Mr. Chief Justice Waite announced the opinion of
himself and his colleagues that a corporation was a "person" within the
meaning of the Amendment and thus entitled to its protection.

Later decisions, such as that of 1889 in Chicago, Milwaukee and St.
Paul Railway Company _v._ Minnesota, left no doubt of the fact that the
Court had come to look upon the Fourteenth Amendment as much more than
a protective device for the negro. The full meaning of the change,
however, did not appear until after 1890, and is a matter for later
consideration. In brief, then, before 1890, the Supreme Court was
content in the main to avoid the review of state legislation concerning
the ownership and control of private property, a practice which lodged
great powers in the state courts and legislatures. By that year,
however, it was manifest that the Court had undergone a complete change
and that it had adopted a theory which would greatly enlarge the
functions of the federal courts, at the expense of the states. The
medium through which the change came was the Fourteenth Amendment.

The demand on the part of business men for protection from state
legislation, which Roscoe Conkling described in the San Mateo case,
arose from their belief in the economic doctrine of _laissez faire_.
Believers in this theory looked upon legislation which regulated
business as a species of meddling or interference. The individual, they
thought, should be allowed to do very much as he pleased, entering into
whatever business he wished, and buying and selling where and how and
at what prices suited his interests, stimulated and controlled by
competition, but without direction or restriction by the government. It
was believed that the amazing success of the American business pioneer
was proof of the wisdom of the _laissez faire_ philosophy. The economic
giant and hero was the self-made man.

Economic abuses, according to the _laissez faire_ philosophy, would
normally be corrected by economic law, chiefly through competition. If,
for illustration, any industry demanded greater returns for its
products than proved to be just in the long run, unattached capital
would be attracted into that line of production, competition would
ensue, prices would be again lowered and justice would result. Every
business man would exert himself to discover that employment which
would bring greatest return for the capital which he had at his
command. He would therefore choose such an industry and so direct it as
to make his product of the greatest value possible. Hence although he
sought his own interests, he would in fact promote the interest of the

Indeed the philosopher of _laissez faire_ was sincerely convinced that
his system ultimately benefited society as a whole. Andrew Carnegie, an
iron and steel manufacturer, presented this thesis in an article in the
_North American Review_ in 1889. The reign of individualism, he held,
was the order of the day, was inevitable and desirable. Under it the
poorer classes were better off than they had ever been in the world's
history. "We start then," he said, "with a condition of affairs under
which the best interests of the race are promoted, but which inevitably
gives wealth to the few. Thus far, accepting conditions as they exist,
the situation can be surveyed and pronounced good." Let the man of
ability, he advised, accumulate a large fortune and then discharge his
duty to the public through philanthropic enterprises, such as the
foundation of libraries. Society would be more highly benefited in this
way than by allowing the millions to circulate in small sums through
the hands of the masses. Statistical studies of the distribution of
wealth seemed to justify Carnegie's judgment that the existing tendency
was for wealth to settle into the hands of the few. In 1893 it was
estimated that three one-hundredths of one per cent. of the people
owned twenty per cent. of the nation's wealth.

Although the _laissez faire_ theory was dominant later even than 1890,
it was apparent before that time that its sway was being challenged.
The adherents of _laissez faire_ themselves did not desire to have the
doctrine applied fully and evenly. They demanded government protection
for their enterprises through the medium of high protective import
tariffs, and they sought subsidies and grants of public land for the
railroads. Naturally it was not long before the classes whose desires
conflicted with the manufacturing and railroad interests began in their
turn to seek aid from the government. The people of the Middle West,
for example, were not content to allow the railroad companies to
control their affairs and establish their rates without let or
hindrance from the state legislatures. The factory system in the
Northeast, likewise, raised questions which were directed toward the
foundations of _laissez faire_. Under the factory regime employers
found it advantageous to open their doors to women and children and to
keep them at machines for long, hard days which unfitted the women for
domestic duties and for raising families, and which stunted the
children in body and mind. Out of these circumstances arose a demand
for restrictions on the freedom of employers to fix the conditions
under which their employees worked.

Opposition to an industrial system based upon _laissez faire_ would
have been even greater during the seventies and eighties if it had not
been for two sources of national wealth--the public lands and the
supplies of lumber, ore, coal and similar gifts of nature. When the
supply of land in the West was substantially unlimited, a sufficient
part of the population could relieve its economic distresses by
migrating, as multitudes did. Such huge stores of natural wealth were
being discovered that there seemed to be no end to them. But in the
late eighties when the best public lands were nearly exhausted and the
need of more careful husbanding of the national resources became
apparent to far-sighted men, advanced thinkers began to question the
validity of an economic theory which allowed quite so much freedom to
individuals. For the time, however, such questions did not arise in the
minds of the masses.

As the _laissez faire_ doctrine underlay the problem of the relation
between government and industry, so the quantity theory of money was
fundamental in the monetary question. According to the quantity theory,
money is like any other commodity in that its value rises and falls
with variations in the supply and demand for it. Suppose, for example,
that a given community is entirely isolated from the rest of the world.
It possesses precisely enough pieces of money to satisfy the needs of
its people. Suddenly the number of pieces is doubled. The supply is
twice as great as business requires. If no new elements enter into the
situation, the value of each piece becomes half as great as before, its
purchasing power is cut in two and prices double.[2]

A bushel of potatoes that formerly sold for a dollar now sells at two
dollars. A farmer who has mortgaged his farm for $1,000 and who relies
upon his sales of potatoes to pay off his debt is highly benefited by
the change, while the creditor is correspondingly harmed. The debtor is
obliged to raise only half as many potatoes; the creditor receives
money that buys half the commodities that could have been purchased
with his money at the time of the loan.

On the other hand, suppose the number of pieces of money is instantly
halved and all other factors continue unchanged. There is now twice as
great a demand for each piece, it becomes more desirable and will
purchase more goods. Prices, that is to say, go down. Dollar potatoes
now sell for fifty cents. The debtor farmer must grow twice as many
potatoes as he had contemplated; the creditor finds that he receives
money that has doubled in purchasing power.

It has already been said that the quarter century after the war was, in
the main, a period of falling prices. The farmer found the size of his
mortgage, as measured in bushels of wheat and potatoes, growing
steadily and relentlessly greater. The creditor received a return which
purchased larger and larger quantities of commodities. The debtor class
was mainly in the West; the creditors, mainly in the East. The
westerners desired a larger quantity of money which would, as they
believed, send prices upward; the East, depending upon similar
reasoning, desired a contraction in supply. The former were called
inflationists; the latter, contractionists. Much of the monetary
history of the country after the Civil War was concerned with the
attempt of the inflationists to expand the supply of currency, and the
contractionists to prevent inflation.

The intellectual background of the twenty-five years after the war, so
far as it can be considered at this point, was to be found mainly in
the development of education and the growth of the newspaper and
periodical. Before the Civil War, except in the South, the old-time
district school had given way, in most states, to graded elementary
schools, supported by taxation. After the war the southern states made
heroic efforts to revive education, in which they were aided by such
northern benefactions as the Peabody Educational Fund of $2,000,000
established in 1867. In the northern states the schools were greatly
improved, free text-books became the rule, the free public high-schools
replaced the former private academies, and normal schools for the
training of teachers were established. The period was also marked by
the foundation of scores of colleges and especially of the great state
universities. The Morrill Act of July 2, 1862, had provided for a grant
to each state of 30,000 acres of public land for every senator and
representative in Congress to which the state was entitled. The land
was to be used to promote education in the agricultural and mechanic
arts, and in the natural sciences. The advantages of the law were
quickly seen, and between 1865 and 1890 seventeen state universities
were started, most of them in the Middle and Far West. Many of these
underwent a phenomenal growth and had a great influence on the states
in which they were established.

The newspaper press was also undergoing a transformation in the quarter
century after the war. The great expansion of the numbers and influence
of American newspapers before and during that struggle had been due to
the ability of individuals. James Gordon Bennett had founded the New
York _Herald_, for example, in 1835, and from then on the _Herald_ had
been "Bennett's paper." Similarly the _Tribune_ had represented Horace
Greeley and the _Times_, Henry J. Raymond. The effect of the war was to
develop technical resources in gathering news, to necessitate a larger
scale of expenditure and a wider range of information, and to make a
given issue the work of many men instead of one. Raymond died in 1869,
Greeley and Bennett in 1872; and although the _Sun_ was the embodiment
of Charles A. Dana until his death in 1897, the _Nation_ and the
_Evening Post_ of Edwin L. Godkin until 1899, nevertheless the tendency
was away from the newspaper which reflected an individual and toward
that which represented a group; away from the editorial which expressed
the views of a well-known writer, to the editorial page which combined
the labors of many anonymous contributors. The financial basis of the
newspaper also underwent a transition. As advertising became more and
more general, the revenues of newspapers tended to depend more on the
favor of the advertiser than upon the subscriber, giving the former a
powerful although indirect influence on editorial policies.

The influence of the press in politics was rapidly growing. A larger
number of newspapers became sufficiently independent to attack abuses
in both parties. The New York _Times_ and Thomas Nast's cartoons in
_Harper's Weekly_ were most important factors in the overthrow of the
Tweed Ring in New York City, and in the elections of 1884 and later,
newspapers exerted an unusual power. Press associations in New York and
the West led the way to the Associated Press, with its wide-spread
cooperative resources for gathering news.

As important as the character of the press, was the amount and
distribution of its circulation. Between 1870 and 1890 the number of
newspapers published and the aggregate circulation increased almost
exactly threefold--about five times as fast as the population was
growing. In the latter year the entire circulation for the country was
over four and a half billion copies, of which about sixty per cent.
were dailies. So great had been the growth of the press during the
seventies that the census authorities in 1880 made a careful study of
the statistical aspects of the subject. It appeared from this search
that newspapers were published in 2,073 of the 2,605 counties in the
Union. Without some such means of spreading information, it would have
been impossible to conduct the great presidential campaigns, in which
the entire country was educated in the tariff and other important

The expansion of the press is well exemplified by the use of the
telegraph in the spread of information. When Lincoln was nominated for
the presidency in 1860, a single telegraph operator was able to send
out all the press matter supplied to him. In 1892 at the Democratic
convention, the Western Union Telegraph Company had one hundred
operators in the hall. Mechanical invention, meanwhile, was able to
keep pace with the demand for news. The first Hoe press of 1847 had
been so improved by 1871 that it printed ten to twelve thousand
eight-page papers in an hour, and twenty-five years later the capacity
had been increased between six and sevenfold.


Nearly all material on party history is so partisan that it should be
read with critical scepticism: Francis Curtis, _The Republican Party,
1854-1904_ (2 vols., 1904); J.D. Long, _Republican Party_ (1888); for
the Independent attitude, consult _Harper's Weekly_ during the campaign
of 1884. As the Republicans were in power most of the time from
1865-1913, there is more biographical and autobiographical material
about Republicans than about Democratic leaders. Local studies of
political conditions and the social structure of the parties are almost
entirely lacking. On the personal side, the following are essential:
G.F. Parker, _Writings and Speeches of Grover Cleveland_ (1892); T.E.
Burton, _John Sherman_ (1906); J.B. Foraker, _Notes of a Busy Life_ (2
vols., 1916), throws light on the ideals and practices of a politician;
G.F. Hoar, _Autobiography of Seventy Years_ (2 vols., 1903), gives the
New England Republican point of view; Rollo Ogden, _Life and Letters of
E.L. Godkin_ (2 vols., 1907); G.F. Parker, _Recollections of Grover
Cleveland_ (1909), is useful, but sketchy, there being as yet no
thorough biography of Cleveland; T.C. Platt, _Autobiography_ (1910),
interestingly portrays the philosophy of a machine politician, but
should be read with care; John Sherman, _Recollections of Forty Years
in House, Senate and Cabinet_ (2 vols., 1895); Edward Stanwood, _James
G. Blaine_ (1905), is highly favorable to Blaine; W.M. Stewart,
_Reminiscences_ (1908), is interesting, partisan and unreliable. For a
general estimate of the autobiographical material of the period,
consult _History Teachers' Magazine_ (later the _Historical Outlook_),
"Recent American History Through the Actors' Eyes," March, 1916.

Jesse Macy, _Party Organisation and Machinery_ (1904); M.G.
Ostrogorski, _Democracy and Political Parties_ (2 vols., 1902), gives a
keen and pessimistic account of American political practices in vol.
II; J.A. Woodburn, _Political Parties and Party Problems in the United
States_ (1903, and later editions) gives a succinct account in good

For the Fourteenth Amendment: C.G. Haines, _American Doctrine of
Judicial Supremacy_ (1914); C.W. Collins, _The Fourteenth Amendment and
the States_ (1912), is a careful study, which is critical of the
prevailing later interpretation of the Amendment. The Slaughter House
case, giving the earlier interpretation is in J.W. Wallace, _Cases
argued and adjudged in the Supreme Court_ (Supreme Court Reports), XVI,

L.H. Haney, _History of Economic Thought_ (1911), on _laissez faire_;
J.L. Laughlin, _Principles of Money_ (1903); and Irving Fisher, _Why is
the Dollar Shrinking_ (1914), present two sides of the quantity theory
of money.

Most useful on the development of education are F.P. Graves, _A History
of Education in Modern Times_ (1913); and E.G. Dexter, _History of
Education in the United States_ (1904).

The growth of newspapers is described in _The Bookman_, XIV, 567-584,
XV, 26-44; see also Rollo Ogden, _Life and Letters of Godkin_, already
mentioned; G.H. Payne, _History of Journalism in the United States_
(1920); J.M. Lee, _History of American Journalism_ (1917). The effects
of education and the press on American social, economic and political
life have not been subjected to thorough study.

* * * * *

[1] _Addresses on Government and Citizenship_, 202.

[2] In practice, new elements do enter into the situation so that the
theory requires much qualification. Cf. Taussig, _Principles of
Economics_ (1915), I, ch. 18.



Out of the economic and political circumstances which have just been
described, there were emerging between 1865 and 1875 a wide variety of
national problems. Such questions were those concerning the proper
relation between the government and the railroads and industrial
enterprises; the welfare of the agricultural and wage-earning classes;
the assimilation of the hordes of immigrants; the conservation of the
resources of the nation in lumber, minerals and oil; the tariff, the
financial obligations of the government, the reform of the civil
service, and a host of lesser matters. The animosities aroused by the
war, however, and the insistent nature of the reconstruction question
almost completely distracted attention from most of these problems.
Only upon the tariff, finance and the civil service did the public
interest focus long enough to effect results.

The tariff problem has periodically been settled and unsettled since
the establishment of the federal government. Just previous to the war
a low protective tariff had been adopted, but the outbreak of the
conflict had necessitated a larger income; and the passage of an
internal revenue act, together with a higher protective tariff, had
been the chief means adopted to meet the demand. By 1864 the country
had found itself in need of still greater revenues, and again the
internal and tariff taxes had been increased. These acts were in force
at the close of the war. The internal revenue act levied taxes upon
products, trades, and professions, upon liquors and tobacco, upon
manufactures, auctions, slaughtered cattle, railroads, advertisements
and a large number of smaller sources of income.

The circumstances that had surrounded the framing and passage of the
tariff act of 1864 had been somewhat peculiar. The need of the nation
for revenue had been supreme and there had been no desire to stint
the administration if funds could bring the struggle to a successful
conclusion. Congress had been willing to levy almost any rates that
anybody desired. The combination of a willingness among the legislators
to raise rates to any height necessary for obtaining revenue, and a
conviction on their part that high rates were for the good of the
country brought about a situation eminently satisfactory to the
protectionist element. There had been no time to spend in long
discussions of the wisdom of the act and no desire to do so; and
moreover the act had been looked upon as merely a temporary expedient.
It is not possible to describe accurately the personal influences which
surrounded the passage of the law. It is possible, however, to note
that many industries had highly prospered under the war revenue
legislation. Sugar refining had increased; whiskey distilling had fared
well under the operation of the internal revenue laws; the demands of
the army had given stimulus to the woolen mills, which had worked to
capacity night and day; and the manufacture and use of sewing machines,
agricultural implements and the like had been part of the industrial
expansion of the times. Large fortunes had been made in the production
of rifles, woolen clothing, cotton cloth and other commodities,
especially when government contracts could be obtained. Naturally the
tax-levying activities of Congress had tended to draw the business
interests together to oppose or influence particular rates. The
brewers, the cap and hat manufacturers, and others had objected to the
taxes on their products; the National Association of Wool Manufacturers
and the American Iron and Steel Association had been formed partly with
the idea of influencing congressional tariff action.

After the close of the war, the tariff, among other things, seemed to
many to require an overhauling. Justin S. Morrill, a member of the
House Committee on Ways and Means, and one of the framers of the act of
1864, argued in favor of the protective system although he warned his

At the same time it is a mistake of the friends of a sound tariff to
insist upon the extreme rates imposed during the war, if less will
raise the necessary revenue.... Whatever percentage of duties were
imposed upon foreign goods to cover internal taxes upon home
manufactures, should not now be claimed as the lawful prize of
protection where such taxes have been repealed.... The small
increase of the tariff for this reason on iron, salt, woolen, and
cottons can not be maintained except on the principle of obtaining a
proper amount of revenue.

Sentiment was strong against the tariff in the agricultural parts of
the West and especially in those sections not committed to
wool-growing. Great personal influence was exerted on the side of
"tariff-reform" by David A. Wells, a painstaking and able student of
economic conditions who was appointed special commissioner of the
revenue in 1866. As a result of his investigations he became converted
from a believer in protection to the leader of the opposition, and his
reports had a considerable influence in the formation of opinion in
favor of revision. The American Free Trade League was formed and
included such influential figures as Carl Schurz, Jacob D. Cox, Horace
White, Edward Atkinson, E.L. Godkin, editor of _The Nation_, and many
others. William B. Allison and James A. Garfield, both prominent
Republican members of the House, were in favor of downward revision.

In 1867 a bill providing for many reductions passed the Senate as an
amendment to a House bill which proposed to raise rates. Far more than
a majority in the House were ready to accept the Senate measure, but
according to the rules it was necessary to obtain a two-thirds vote in
order to get the amended bill before the House for action. This it was
impossible to do. Nevertheless, the wool growers and manufacturers were
able "through their large influence, persistent pressure and adroit
management" to procure an act in the same session which increased the
duties on wool and woolens far above the war rate. In 1869 the duties
on copper were raised, as were those on steel rails, marble, flax and
some other commodities in 1870.

The growth of the Liberal Republican movement in 1872, with its
advocacy of downward revision, frightened somewhat the protectionist
leaders of the Republican organization. It was believed that a slight
concession might prevent a more radical action, and just before the
campaign a ten per cent reduction was brought about. In 1873 the
industrial depression so lowered the revenues as to present a plausible
opportunity for restoring duties to their former level in 1875, where
they remained for nearly a decade.

The lack of effective action on the part of the tariff reformers of
both parties was due to a variety of causes. In the years immediately
following the war, the Republicans in Congress were more interested in
their quarrel with President Johnson than in tariff reform.
Furthermore, the unpopular internal revenues were being quickly reduced
between 1867 and 1872, and it was argued that a simultaneous reduction
of import taxes would decrease the revenue too greatly. Moreover there
was no solidarity among the Democrats, the South was discredited, and
at first not fully represented. Wells was driven out of office in 1870,
the Liberal Republican movement was a failure, the protected
manufacturers knew precisely what they wanted, they knew how to achieve
results and some of them were willing to employ methods that the
reformers were above using. As time went on and the country was, in the
main, rather prosperous, many people and especially the business men
made up their minds that the war tariffs were a positive benefit to the
country. For these reasons a war policy which had generally been
considered a temporary expedient became a permanent political issue and
a national problem.

The positions of the two political parties on the tariff were not sharply
defined during the ten years immediately following the war. The Democrats
seemed naturally destined for the role of revisionists because of their
party traditions, their support in the South--ordinarily a strong,
low-tariff section--and because they were out of power when high tariffs
were enacted. Yet the party was far from united on the subject. Some
prominent leaders were frankly protectionists, such as Samuel J. Randall
of Pennsylvania, who was Speaker of the House for two terms and part of
another. The party platform ordinarily was silent or non-committal. In
1868, for example, the Democratic tariff plank was wide and generous
enough for a complete platform. The party stood for

a tariff for revenue upon foreign imports, and such equal taxation
under the internal revenue laws as will afford incidental
protection to domestic manufacturers, and as will, without
impairing the revenue, impose the least burden upon, and best
promote and encourage, the great industrial interests of the

In 1872 the "straight" Democrats, that is those who refused to support
Greeley, were for a "judicious" revenue tariff; but in 1876 the party
denounced the existing system as "a masterpiece of injustice, inequality
and false pretence." Democratic state platforms were even less firm; in
fact, the eastern states seemed committed to protection. In Congress,
however, most of the opposition to the passage of tariff acts was
supplied by the Democrats.

The attitude of the Republicans was more important, because theirs was
the party in power. There was, as has been shown, a strong tariff-reform
element, and in some of the conventions care seems to have been taken
to avoid any definite statement of principles--doubtless on account of
the well-known differences in the party--and for many years there was
no clearly defined statement of the attitude of the organization. Yet
it must be emphasized that Republicans were usually protectionists in
the practical business of voting in Congress. Skillful Republican leaders
gave way a little in the face of opposition but regained the lost ground
and a little more, after the opposition retreated. Since the war-tariffs
had been passed under Republican rule, it was easy to clothe them with
the sanctity of party accomplishments.

Fully as technical as the tariff problem, and presenting a wider range
for the legislative activities of Congress, was the financial situation
in which the country found itself in 1865. The total expenditures from
June 30, 1861 to June 30, 1865 had been somewhat more than three and
one-third billions of dollars, an amount almost double the aggregate
disbursements from 1789 to 1861. Officers accustomed to a modest budget
and used to working with machinery and precedents which were adapted to
the day of small things, had been suddenly called upon to work under
revolutionized conditions. Prom the point of view of expense, merely,
one year's operations during the war had been equivalent to thirty-six
times the average outlay of the years hitherto. As has been shown, the
major part of the income necessary for meeting the increased expenses
had been obtained by means of the tariff and internal revenue taxes.

The tariff worked to the advantage of many people, and its retention
was insistently demanded by them; the internal revenue taxes were
disliked, and few things were more popular after the war than their
reduction. In 1866 an act was passed which lowered the internal revenue
by an amount estimated at forty-five to sixty millions of dollars. In
succeeding years further reductions were made, so that by 1870 the
scale was low enough to withstand attacks until 1883.

The national debt was the source of more complicated questions. It was
composed, on June 30, 1866, of a variety of loans carrying five
different rates of interest and maturing in nineteen different periods
of time. Parts of it had been borrowed in times of distress at high
rates; but after the struggle was successfully ended, the credit of the
government was good, and enough money could be obtained at low interest
charges to cancel the old debt and establish a new one with the interest
account correspondingly reduced. Hugh McCulloch and John Sherman as
secretaries of the treasury were most influential in accomplishing this
transition, and by 1879 the process was completed and a yearly saving of
fourteen million dollars effected.

Differences of opinion concerning the kind of money with which the
principal of the debt should be paid brought this matter into the
field of politics. When the earliest loans had been contracted, no
stipulation had been made in regard to the medium of payment. Later
loans had been made redeemable in "coin," without specifying either
gold or silver; while still later bonds had been sold under condition
that the interest be paid in coin, although nothing had been said about
the principal. There was considerable demand for redemption of the
bonds in paper money, except where there was agreement to the contrary,
although the previous custom of the government had been to pay in coin.
The proposal to repay the debt in paper currency, the "Ohio idea,"
gained considerable ground in the Middle West, as has already been
explained. In the campaign of 1868 the Democratic platform advocated
the Ohio plan. Some of the Republicans, like Thaddeus Stevens, agreed
with this policy; some of the Democrats opposed it--Horatio Seymour,
the presidential candidate, among them. Nevertheless the Democratic
platform committed the party to payments in greenbacks unless express
contract prevented, while the Republicans denounced this policy as
"repudiation" and promised the payment of the debt in "good faith"
according to the "spirit" and "letter" of the laws. The credit of the
government was highly benefited by the payment of the debt in gold, yet
the bonds had been purchased during the war with depreciated paper, and
gold redemption greatly enriched the purchasers at the expense of the
remainder of the population. It is hardly surprising that the debtor
classes were not enthusiastic over this outcome. The Republicans on
being successful in the election and coming into power, carried out
their campaign promises and pledged the faith of the country to the
payment of the debt in coin or its equivalent.

The income tax was a method of raising revenue which did not produce
any considerable returns until after the war was over. Acts passed
during the war had levied a tax on all incomes over six hundred dollars
and had introduced progressively increasing rates on higher amounts.
Incomes above $5,000, for example, were taxed ten per cent. The
greatest number of people were reached and the largest returns obtained
in 1866 when nearly half a million persons paid an aggregate of about
seventy-three million dollars. The entire system was abolished in 1872.

Aside from the tariff, the "legal-tender" notes gave rise to the
greatest number of political and constitutional tangles. By acts of
February 25, 1862 and later, Congress had provided for the issue of four
hundred and fifty million dollars of United States paper notes, which
were commonly known as greenbacks or legal-tenders. The latter name
came from the fact that, under the law, the United States notes were
legal tender for all debts, public or private, except customs duties
and interest on the public debt. In other words, the law compelled
creditors to receive the greenbacks in payment of all debts, with the
two exceptions mentioned. Three main questions arose in connection with
these issues of paper: whether Congress had power under the
Constitution to make them legal tender; whether their volume should be
allowed to remain at war magnitude, be somewhat contracted or entirely
done away with; and whether the government should resume specie
payments--that is, exchange gold for paper on the demand of holders of
the latter.

The first of these questions was twice decided in the Supreme Court. In
1870, in Hepburn _v._ Griswold, the point at issue was whether the
greenbacks could lawfully be offered to satisfy a debt contracted
before the legal-tender act had been passed. As it happened, Salmon P.
Chase, who had been Secretary of the Treasury during the war, was now
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and delivered its opinion. By a vote
of four to three it decided that the greenbacks were not legal tender
for contracts made previous to the passage of the law. At the time when
the case was decided, however, there were two vacancies on the bench
which were immediately filled, and shortly thereafter two new cases
involving the legal-tender act were brought before the Court (Knox _v._
Lee, and Parker _v._ Davis). The decision, which was announced in 1871,
over-ruled the judgment in Hepburn _v._ Griswold and held by a vote of
five to four that the legal-tender act was constitutional as applied to
contracts made either before or after its passage.

The second question relating to the greenbacks was that in regard to
their volume. At first Congress adopted the policy of contraction and
when greenbacks came into the treasury they were destroyed. As continued
contraction tended to make the volume of currency smaller and to make
money harder to get, and therefore, to raise its value, the debtor
classes began to object. As early as 1865 there was strong sentiment
against contraction and in favor of paying the public debt in paper.
Economic distress in the West furthered the movement and some of the
Republican leaders were doubtful of the wisdom of reducing the outstanding
stock of paper. Contraction was stopped, therefore, in 1868, and only
President Grant's veto in 1874 prevented an increase in the amount.
Eventually, in 1878, the amount then in circulation--$346,681,000--was
fixed by a law forbidding further contraction.[1]

The western farmers, meanwhile, were feeling the pinch of falling
prices. Believing that their ills were due to the scarcity of money,
they opposed the policy of contraction and even launched the Greenback
party to carry out their principles. In 1876 it polled 80,000 votes,
and in 1878 at the time of the congressional elections over 1,000,000,
but thereafter its strength rapidly declined. Neither the East nor the
West understood the motives of the other in this controversy. Eastern
congressmen considered western insistence upon a large volume of
currency as a dishonest movement to reduce bond values by legislation.
Such an action, they asserted, would do away with the national
integrity. The people of the West thought of the eastern bondholders as
"fat bullionists" who dined at costly restaurants on terrapin and
Burgundy and paid for their luxuries with bonds whose values were
raised by a contracted currency.

The third question relating to the greenbacks was that of the
resumption of specie payments. At the close of the war practically all
the money in circulation was paper, which passed at a depreciated value
because it was not redeemable in coin. The obvious thing was to resume
the exchange of specie for paper and thus restore the latter to par
value, but serious obstacles stood in the way. A money crisis in 1873
aroused a clamor for larger supplies of paper; gold was hard to
procure, as France and Germany were both accumulating a redemption fund
and specie was actually flowing out of the country. Outside of the
treasury there was little gold in the United States, the amount being
less than one hundred million dollars as late as 1877. The friends of
resumption could not be sure of the feasibility of their project, and
the opponents were aggressive and numerous.

In the elections of 1874 the Republicans were severely defeated, and it
was seen that the Democrats would have a clear majority in the next
House of Representatives. Hence the Republicans hurried through a
resumption bill on January 14, 1875--a sort of deathbed act. It
authorized the secretary of the treasury to raise gold for redemption
purposes, and set January 1, 1879, as the date when resumption should
take place. As in the case of the tariff, the political parties found
difficulty in determining which side of the resumption question they
desired to take. Although the Democratic platform of 1868 contained a
greenback plank, yet some of its leaders opposed, and the state
platforms of 1875 and 1876 demanded resumption. The national platform
of the latter year both denounced the Republicans for not making
progress toward resumption and demanded the repeal of the act of 1875,
without disclosing whether the party was prepared to offer any
improvements. In November, 1877, a bill practically repealing the
resumption act passed the House--the western and southern Democrats
furnishing most of the affirmative votes, assisted by twenty-seven
Republicans. A resolution declaring it to be the opinion of Congress
that United States bonds were payable in silver was introduced and
advocated by many Republicans. On the other hand, eastern state
Democratic and Republican platforms were much alike. Apparently,
therefore, differences of opinion in regard to the greenbacks and
resumption were caused as much by sectional as by party considerations.

More lasting than finance as a political issue but less enduring than
the tariff, was the reform of the civil service. In its widest sense,
the term civil service included all non-military government officers
from cabinet officials and supreme court judges to the humblest
employee in the postal or naval service. The reform, however, was
directed mainly toward the appointment and tenure of the lower
officers. Before the Civil War the "spoils system" had been in full
swing; appointments to positions had been frankly used as rewards for
party activity; office-holders had been openly assessed a fraction of
their salaries in order to fill the treasure chest at campaign times;
rotation in office had been the rule. During the war, President Lincoln
had found his ante-room filled with wrangling, importunate office-seekers
who consumed time which he needed for the problems of the conflict. As
he himself had expressed the situation, he was like a man who was
letting offices in one end of his house while the other end was burning
down. During the war, also, the patronage at the disposal of the
government had vastly increased. Not only had the number of laborers,
clerks and officials become greater, but numerous contracts had been
let for the production of war materials, and manufacturers and merchants
intrigued for a share of federal business. "Influence" and position had
been more powerful than merit in procuring the favor of government

After the war many abuses that had earlier been overlooked began to
attract the attention of a few thoughtful men. It was estimated that
not more than one-half to three-fourths of the legitimate internal
revenue was collected during Johnson's presidency, so corrupt and
inefficient were the revenue collectors. Endless Indian troubles and
countless losses of money resulted from the corruption of the federal
Indian agents. Conditions were even worse during the Grant regime. The
President's appointments were wretched; he placed his relatives in
official positions; revenue frauds amounting to $75,000,000 were
discovered during his second administration. In certain departments, it
was customary, when vacancies occurred, to allow the salaries to
"lapse"--that is, accumulate--so as to provide a fund to satisfy
patronage seekers. In one case, thirty-five persons were put on the
"lapse fund" for eight days at the end of a fiscal year, in order to
"sop up" a little surplus which was in danger of being saved and
returned to the treasury. One customs collector at the port of New York
removed employees at an average rate of one every three days; another,
three every four days; and another, three every five days, in order to
provide places for party workers. One secretary in an important
department of the government had seventeen clerks for whom he had no
employment. The party assessments on officeholders became little short
of outrageous. Two or three per cent. of the salary of the lower
officers was called for, while the more important officials were
expected to contribute much larger sums. In New York--for the system
held in the states and cities--candidates for the mayoralty were
reputed to pay $25,000 to $30,000; judges, $10,000 to $15,000; and
representatives in Congress, $10,000. While these conditions were by no
means wholly due to the spoils system, the method of appointment in the
civil service made a bad matter worse.

Conditions such as these could hardly fail to produce a reform
movement. In fact, as far back as 1853 some elementary and ineffective
legislation had attempted a partial remedy. The war gave added impetus
to the movement and attention turned to the reform systems of Great
Britain and other countries, where problems similar to ours had already
been met and solved. The first American who really grasped civil
service reform was Thomas A. Jenckes, a member of Congress from Rhode
Island. He introduced reform bills in 1865 and later, based on studies
of English practice and on correspondence with the leaders of reform
there; but no legislation resulted. In brief, his plan provided for the
appointment of employees in the public service on the basis of ability,
determined by competitive examinations. After a time Jenckes and his
associates achieved considerable success and finally interested
President Grant in their project. In 1871 they got a rider attached to
an appropriation bill which authorized the chief executive to prescribe
rules for the admission of persons into the civil service and allowed
him to appoint a commission to put the act into effect. George William
Curtis, a well-known reformer, was made chairman, and rules were
formulated which were applied to the departments at Washington and to
federal offices in New York. Grant, although favorable to the reform,
was not enthusiastic about it, and soon made an appointment which was
so offensive that Curtis resigned. Congress, nothing loath, refused to
continue the necessary appropriations and the reform project continued
in a state of suspended animation until the inauguration of President

The human elements in the struggle for civil service reform, both
during the decade after the war and for many years later, are necessary
for an understanding of the course of the controversy and its outcome.
These elements included the advocates of the patronage system, the
reformers and the president.

Sometimes the advocates of the patronage system viewed the reform with
contempt. Roscoe Conkling, for example, expressed his sentiments in the
remark, "When Dr. Johnson said that patriotism was the last refuge of
the scoundrel he ignored the enormous possibilities of the word
reform!" Sometimes they attempted to discredit the project by an
exaggeration of its effects, as when John A. Logan declared that he saw
in it a life-tenure and an aristocratic caste. "It will not be apparent
how great is its enormity," he declared in Congress, "how vicious are
its practices and how poisonous are its influences until we are too far
encircled by its coils to shake them off." The strength of the
exponents of the patronage system, however, lay not in their capacity
for contempt and ridicule, but in a theory of government that was
founded upon certain very definite human characteristics. The theory
may be clearly seen in the _Autobiography_ of Thomas C. Platt, a
colleague of Conkling in the Senate and for many years the boss of New
York state. It may be expressed somewhat as follows.

In the field of actual politics, parties are a necessity and
organization is essential. It is the duty of the citizen, therefore, to
support the party that stands for right policies and to adhere closely
to its official organization. Loyalty should be rewarded by appointment
to positions within the gift of the party; and disloyalty should be
looked upon as political treason. One who votes for anybody except the
organization candidate feels himself superior to his party, is
faithless to the great ideal and is only a little less despicable than
he who, having been elected to an office through the energy and
devotion of the party workers, is then so ungrateful as to refuse to
appoint the workers to positions within his gift. Positions constitute
the cohesive force that holds the organization intact.

The second of the human elements, the reform group, was led by such men
as George William Curtis, Dorman B. Eaton and Carl Schurz, with the
support of periodicals like _Harper's Weekly_ and _The Nation_. The
career and character of Curtis is typical at once of the strength and
the weakness of the group. As a young man Curtis had intended to enter
a business career, but finding it unsuited to his tastes he had
abandoned his ambition, spent some years in European travel and then
devoted himself to literary work, first on _Harper's Magazine_ and
afterwards, for many years, as editor of _Harper's Weekly_. He had
early interested himself in politics, had been in the convention which
nominated Lincoln, had taken part in numerous state and national
political conferences and conventions, was president of the
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and chancellor of the University
of the State of New York. For many years, during the period when civil
service reform was making its fight for recognition, Curtis was the
president and one of the moving spirits of the National Civil Service
Reform League. In politics he was an independent Republican. Although
of the intellectual class, like the other prominent leaders of the
reform movement, he was a man of practical political ability, not a
mere observer of politics, so that he and his associates made up in
capacity and influence what they lacked in breadth of appeal. Some of
the leaders were patient men who expected that results would come
slowly and who were ready to accept half a loaf of reform rather than
no loaf at all, but there were also such impatient critics as E.L.
Godkin who put so much emphasis on the failures of the reformers as to
overshadow their positive achievements. Moreover, there were the
well-meaning but impracticable people who constituted what Theodore
Roosevelt once called the "lunatic fringe" of reform movements.

The attitude of the exponents of the patronage system toward the
reformers was one of undisguised contempt. In a famous speech delivered
at a New York state convention in Rochester in September, 1877,
Conkling poured his scorn on the reform element in general and on
Curtis in particular, as "man-milliners," "carpet-knights of politics,"
"grasshoppers in the corner of a fence," and disciples of ladies'
magazines with their "rancid, canting self-righteousness."

The third personal element in the reform controversy was the chief
executive. Beginning with Grant, if not with Lincoln, the presidents
were favorable to the progress of reform, but they were surrounded by
circumstances that made vigorous action a difficult matter. The task of
distributing the patronage was a burden from which they would have been
glad to be relieved, yet the demands of the party organization were
insistent,--and to turn a constantly deaf ear to them would have been
to court political disaster. The executive was always in the position
of desiring to further an ideal and being obliged to face the hard
facts of politics. The progress which he made, therefore, depended on
how resolutely he could press forward his ideal in the face of
continued opposition. A great difficulty lay in getting subordinates-in
the cabinet, for example-who were in sympathy with progress, and
sometimes even the vice-presidential nomination was given to the
patronage element in the party in order to placate that faction, while
the presidential nominee was disposed to reform.

Public opinion was slow in forming and was lacking in the means of
definite expression. For many years after the war there was widespread
fear that the installation of a Democratic president would result in
the wholesale debauch of the offices, and sober northerners believed,
or thought they believed, that "rebels" would again be in power if a
Democrat were elected. Under such conditions and because the offices
were already filled with Republicans, the Republican North was willing
to leave things as they were.

The party pronouncements on civil service reform were as evasive as
they were on finance and the tariff. To be surer the Liberal
Republicans in 1872 sincerely desired reform and made it the subject of
a definite plank in their platform, but the wing of the Democratic
party that refused to ally with them was silent on the civil service,
and the "straight" Republicans advocated reform in doubtful and
unconvincing terms. In 1876 both party platforms were even more vague,
although Hayes himself was openly committed to the improvement of the


The best work on the tariff is F.W. Taussig, _Tariff History of the
United States_ (6th ed., 1914), a scholarly and non-partisan account,
although giving slight attention to legislative history; Ida M.
Tarbell, _Tariff in Our Times_ (1911), emphasizes the personal and
social sides of tariff history and is hostile to protection; Edward
Stanwood, _American Tariff Controversies_ (2 vols., 1903), devotes
considerable attention to the historical setting and legislative
history of tariff acts, and is distinctly friendly to protection.

The most useful single volume on financial history is D.R. Dewey,
_Financial History of the United States_ (5th ed., 1915), which is
concise, accurate and equipped with full bibliographies; A.B. Hepburn,
_History of Currency in the United States_ (1915), is by an expert;
A.D. Noyes, _Forty Years of American Finance_ (1909), continues the
same author's _Thirty Years_ and is reliable; T.B. Burton, _John
Sherman_ (1906), is useful here. The legal-tender decisions are in J.W.
Wallace, _Cases argued and adjudged in the Supreme Court_, VIII, 603,
and XII, 457.

The standard work on the civil service is C.R. Fish, _The Civil Service
and the Patronage_ (1905); the reports of the Civil Service Commission,
especially the Fourth Report, are essential; the articles by D.B. Eaton
in J.J. Lalor, _Cyclopaedia of Political Science_ (3 vols., 1893), are
justly well-known; G.W. Curtis, _Orations and Addresses_ (2 vols.,
1894), and Edward Cary, _George William Curtis_ (1894), are excellent.
The politician's side may be found in A.R. Conkling, _Life and Letters
of Roscoe Conkling_ (1889), and T.C. Platt, _Autobiography_ (1910).

* * * * *

[1] This is the amount still outstanding.



The conditions which confronted President Hayes when the final decision
of the Electoral Commission placed him in the executive chair did not
make it probable that he could carry out a program of positive
achievement. The withdrawal of troops from the South had been almost
completed, but the process of reconstruction had been so dominated by
suspicion, ignorance and vindictiveness that sectional hostility was
still acute. As has been seen, the economic problems which faced the
country were for the most part unsolved; on the subjects of tariff,
finance and the civil service, neither party was prepared to present a
united front; and the lack of foresight and statesmanlike leadership in
the parties had given selfish interests an opportunity to seize control.
Nor did the circumstances surrounding the election of Hayes tend to
simplify his task, for the disappointment of the Democrats was extreme,
and they found a natural difficulty in adjusting themselves to the
decision against Tilden. Democratic newspapers dubbed Hayes "His
Fraudulency" and "The Boss Thief," printed his picture with "Fraud"
printed across his brow and referred to his election as the "steal" and
a "political crime."

The man who was to essay leadership under such conditions had back of
him a useful even if not brilliant career. He had been born in Ohio in
1822, had graduated from Kenyon College as valedictorian of his class,
attended Harvard Law School and served on the Union side during the war,
retiring with the rank of a brevet Major General. He had been twice
elected to Congress, but had resigned after his second election to
become governor of his native state, a position which he had filled for
three terms.

Hayes was a man of the substantial, conscientious and hard-working type.
He was not brilliant or magnetic, he originated no innovations, burst
into no flights of imaginative oratory. His state papers were planned
with painstaking care--first, frequently, jotted down in his diary and
then elaborated, revised, recopied and revised again. The vivid
imagination and high-strung emotions that made Clay and Blaine great
campaigners were lacking in Hayes. He was gentle, dignified, simple,
systematic, thoughtful, serene, correct. In making his judgments on
public questions he was sensitive to moral forces. The emancipation of
the slaves was not merely wise and just to him--it was "Providential."
He favored a single six-year term for the President because it would
safeguard him from selfish scheming for another period of power. Partly
because of the lack of dash and compelling force in Hayes, but more
because of the low standards of political action which were common at
the time, his scruples seemed puritanical and were held up to ridicule
as the milk-and-water and "old-Woman" policies of "Granny Hayes." His
public, as well as-his private life, was unimpeached in a time when
lofty principles were not common and when scandal attached itself to
public officers of every grade. To his probity and the "safe" character
of his views, as well as to his record as governor of an important
state, was due his elevation to the presidency.[1] In his habit of
self-analysis, Hayes was reminiscent of John Quincy Adams. Like Adams he
kept a diary from his early youth, the serious and mature entries in
which cause the reader to wonder whether Hayes ever had a childhood.
When he had just passed his twentieth birthday he confided to his diary
that he found himself unsatisfied with his progress in Blackstone, that
he must curb his "propensity" to read newspapers to the exclusion of
more substantial matter, and in general that he was "greatly deficient
in many particulars." Then and in later years he noted hostile
criticisms of himself and combated them, recorded remarks that he had
heard, propounded questions for future thought, expressed a modest
ambition or admitted a curbed elation over success.

In the field of politics Hayes was looked upon as a reliable party man,
a reputation which was justified by his rigid adherence to his party and
by his attitude toward the opposition. In both these respects he was the
ordinary partisan. Nevertheless he thought out his views with unusual
care, made them a matter of conscience and measured policies by ethical
standards that were more exacting than the usual politician of the time
was accustomed to exercise. The only remark of his that gained wide
circulation reflects his type of partisanship: "he serves his party best
who serves his country best." In these latter respects--his
thoughtfulness, conscientiousness, exacting standards of conduct and
less narrowly partisan spirit--he formed a contrast to the most
influential leaders of his party organization. Altogether it seemed
likely at the start that Hayes might have friction with the Republican

The opening of the administration found public interest centered on the
inaugural address and the Cabinet.[2] The inaugural set forth with
clearness and dignity the problems which the administration desired to
solve: the removal of the barriers between the sections on the basis of
the acceptance of the war amendments, southern self-government and the
material development of the South; reform in the civil service,
thorough, radical and complete; and the resumption of specie payments.
To the choice of a cabinet, Hayes devoted much painstaking care. For
Secretary of State, he nominated William M. Evarts of New York, an
eminent lawyer who had aided Charles Francis Adams in his diplomatic
battle with England during the Civil War and later in the Geneva
Arbitration, had shown wit and finesse in the defence of Andrew Johnson
in the impeachment trial, and had valiantly assisted the Republican
cause before the Electoral Commission. In addition, Evarts was a man of
the world who knew how to make the most of social occasions and was an
orator of reputation. The Secretary of the Treasury was John Sherman of
Ohio, who had been for years chairman of the finance committee of the
Senate, and was an example of the more statesmanlike type of senator of
war and reconstruction times.

The nomination of Carl Schurz, as Secretary of the Interior, and David
M. Key, as Postmaster-General, caused an uproar among the party leaders.
Schurz was a cosmopolitan, a German-American, a scholar, orator, veteran
of the Civil War, friend of Lincoln, and independent thinker. His
devotion to the cause of civil service reform recommended him to the
friendship of the President and to the enmity of the political leaders.
The politicians scored Schurz as not a trustworthy Republican--he was
independent by nature and had been a leader in the Liberal Republican
movement; and they denounced him as an impractical man, whose head was
full of transcendental theories--which was a method of saying that he
was a civil service reformer. No little excitement was occasioned by the
appointment of Key. The President had desired to appoint to the cabinet
a southerner of influence, and had thought of Joseph E. Johnston as
Secretary of War. The choice of General Johnston would have been an act
of great magnanimity, but since General Sherman, to whom Johnston had
surrendered only twelve years before, was commander of the army, it
would have placed Sherman in the singular position of taking military
orders from a former leading "rebel." When Hayes consulted his party
associates, however, he found their feelings expressed in the
exclamation of one of them: "Great God! Governor, I hope you are not
thinking of doing anything of that kind!" He thereupon reluctantly gave
way and turned to Key. The latter was less prominent than Johnston, but
had been a Confederate leader, was a Democrat and a man of moderate
counsels. The remaining members of the cabinet were men of much less
moment, but altogether it is clear that few presidents have been
surrounded by so able a group of advisers.[3]

Seldom, also, has a president's announcement of his cabinet caused so
much dissent among his own supporters. Senator Cameron, of Pennsylvania,
had urged a cabinet appointment for his son, and on being refused became
hostile to Hayes. Senator Blaine, of Maine, was piqued because Hayes
refused to offer a place to a Maine man; the friends of General John A.
Logan, of Illinois, were dissatisfied at the failure of Hayes to
understand the qualifications of their favorite; Conkling disliked
Evarts and besides desired a place for his associate Thomas C. Platt;
and the latter considered the nomination of Evarts a "straight-arm" blow
at the Republican organization. Departing, therefore, from the custom in
such cases, the Senate withheld confirmation of the nominations for
several days, during which it became apparent that the rest of the
country had received the announcement of the cabinet with favor, and
then the opposition disappeared. During the remainder of his presidency,
however, Hayes fared badly in making his nominations to office, for
fifty-one of them were rejected outright, a larger number than had ever
before been disagreed to when the President and the Senate were of the
same party. The frequency with which the nominations were rejected and
the combative manner in which the contests were carried on by the Senate
indicated that it was determined to regain and hold fast the influence
in federal counsels that it had relinquished to the executive during the

Aside from the nomination of members of the cabinet, the first important
executive action that tested the attitude of the Senate toward the
President was in relation to the southern problem. By March, 1877, all
the former Confederate states except Louisiana and South Carolina had
freed themselves from Republican rule by the methods already mentioned,
and in these states the Republicans were kept in power only by the
presence of troops. In Louisiana, both Packard, a Republican
carpet-bagger, and Nicholls, a Louisiana Democrat, claimed to be the
rightful governor. In South Carolina, the Republican contestant was
Chamberlain, a native of Massachusetts; the Democrat was Wade Hampton, a
typical old-time southerner. Hayes could withdraw the troops, in
pursuance of his conciliatory policy, but if he did the Republican
governments would certainly collapse because they were unsupported by
public opinion. Furthermore, the returning board which had declared
Hayes the choice of Louisiana in the presidential election had asserted
that the Republican Packard was elected. Blaine, in the Senate,
championed the doctrine that Hayes could not forsake the southern
Republicans without invalidating his own title. Speaking in a confident
and aggressive manner, he held that the honor, faith and credit of the
party bound it to uphold the Republican claimants. Nevertheless, the
President investigated conditions in both states, satisfied himself that
public opinion was back of the Democratic governments and then recalled
the troops, hardly more than a month after his inauguration. The
Republican governments in the two states promptly gave way to the
Democrats, and the storm was on in the Senate.[4]

The Republican politicians believed that no good thing could come from
the "rebels," that the President was abandoning the negro, and that he
was surrendering the principles for which the party had contended.
"Stalwarts," was the name applied by Blaine to these uncompromising
party men who would not relinquish the grip of the organization on the
southern states. Hayes was freely charged with having promised the
removal of the military forces in return for the electoral votes of the
two states concerned, and some color seemed to be lent to this
accusation when he proceeded to reward the Louisiana and Florida
returning boards with appointments to office. Even the New York _Times_,
which usually supported Hayes with vigor, characterized the Louisiana
settlement as "a surrender." William E. Chandler who had assisted Hayes
as counsel in the disputed election attacked him in a pamphlet, "Can
such Things be and overcome us like a Summer Cloud without our Special
Wonder?" Most of the influential leaders in both houses of Congress
scarcely disguised their hostility. Indeed the discontent went back into
the states where, as in New Hampshire, a contest over the endorsement of
Hayes was so bitter that the newspaper reporters had to be excluded from
the state convention to prevent public reports of schism in the party.
The Democrats could not come to his support since they were unable to
forget the election of 1876 even in their satisfaction over the
treatment accorded the South. In six weeks the President was without the
backing of most of his party leaders. On the other hand, a few men of
the type represented by Hoar and Sherman commended the President's
policy. Independent publications such as _Harper's Weekly_ did likewise,
and when the Republican convention of 1880 drew up the party platform
the leaders made a virtue of necessity and adopted a plank
enthusiastically supporting the Hayes administration.

After he had finished with the southern problem, Hayes confided to his
diary, "Now for civil service reform!" And for appointments in general
he recorded several principles: no sweeping changes; recommendations by
congressmen to be investigated--not merely accepted; and no relatives of
himself or his wife to be appointed, however good their qualifications
might be. In the meanwhile Secretary Schurz set to work to put the
Department of the Interior on a merit basis. The principles that Hayes
set up for himself and the steps that Schurz took were in conformity
with the party platform of 1876 and with the President's inaugural
address; nevertheless the party leaders were displeased, if not
surprised, for platform promises were lightly regarded and inaugural
addresses were sometimes not to be taken very seriously.

The earliest acts of Hayes were not such as to facilitate the further
progress of reform. The appointment of the members of the Louisiana
Returning Board to federal offices gave color to charges that they were
receiving their reward for assisting the President into his position.
Furthermore, on June 22, 1877, he issued an executive order forbidding
any United States officials to take part in the management of political
organizations and declaring that political assessments on federal
officers would not be allowed. So drastic an order brought amazement to
the party leaders, who had not dreamed of anything so radical. Perhaps
the order was too sudden and sweeping, considering the practices of the
time. At any rate it was not enforced and the President seemed to have
set a standard to which he had not the courage to adhere. Nevertheless,
reform principles were successfully tested in the New York Post Office
by Thomas L. James, a vigorous exponent of the merit system who had been
appointed by President Grant and was now re-appointed and upheld by
President Hayes.

But the great battle for the new idea came in connection with the New
York Custom House. Through the port of New York came two-thirds to
three-fourths of the goods which were imported into this country, and
the necessity for a businesslike conduct of the custom house seemed
obvious. Yet there had for some time been complaints concerning the
service, and Sherman appointed commissions, with the approval of the
President, to investigate conditions in New York and elsewhere. The
commission which studied the situation in New York reported that
one-fifth of the persons employed there were superfluous, that
inefficiency and neglect of duty were common, and that the positions at
the disposal of the collector had for years been used for the reward of
party activity. The commission recommended sweeping changes which
Secretary Sherman and President Hayes approved. It then appeared that
the New York officials were not favorable to the President's reform
plans. Furthermore, Chester A. Arthur, the collector of the port, was a
close friend of Roscoe Conkling, the head of the state machine; and A.B.
Cornell, the naval officer, was chairman of the state and national
Republican committees; It was evident that an attempt to change
conditions in New York would precipitate a test of strength between the
administration and the New York organization.

As Arthur and Cornell would not further the desired reforms and would
not resign, the President removed them. When he nominated their
successors, however, the Senate, led by Conkling, refused to add its
confirmation and there the matter rested for some months. Eventually the
President's nominations were confirmed, an outcome which seems to have
been brought about in part at least by letters from. Secretary Sherman
to personal friends in the Senate in which he urgently pressed the case
of the administration. The President's victory emphasized the
disagreement of the powerful state organization with the reform idea,
and while the reformers rejoiced that the warfare had been carried into
the enemy's country, newspaper opinion varied between the view that the
President was playing politics and that he was actuated by the highest
motives only. Agitation for reform, meanwhile, continued to increase.
The literary men among the reformers, aided by scores of lesser lights,
conducted a campaign of education; the New York Civil Service Reform
Association, founded in 1877, and the National Civil Service Reform
League, in 1881, gave evidence of an effort towards the organization of
reform sentiment.

While the attention of the President and the politicians was directed
toward the reform of the civil service, there occurred an event for
which none of them was prepared. Early in the summer of 1877 train hands
on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad struck because of a reduction in
wages, the fourth cut that they had suffered in seven years. The strike
spread with the speed of a prairie fire over most of the northern roads
between New England and the Mississippi. At the height of the
controversy at least 100,000 strikers and six or seven thousand miles of
railway were involved, while at several points especially Martinsburg,
West Virginia, and Pittsburg, rioting and destruction took place. A
considerable number of people were killed or wounded, and the loss of
property in Pittsburg alone was estimated at five to ten millions of
dollars. Eventually, when the state militia failed to check the
disorder, the President was called upon for federal troops and these
proved effectual. That even so thoughtful and conscientious a man as
Hayes was far from understanding the meaning of the strike was indicated
in his message to Congress in which he merely expressed his
gratification that the troops had been able to repress the disorder.
Repression, that is to say, was the one resource that occurred to the
mind of the chief executive and to the majority of the men of his day.
That repression alone could not remedy evils permanently, that salutary
force ought to be immediately supplemented by a study of the rights and
wrongs of the two sides and by a dispassionate correction of
abuses,--all this did not even remotely occur to the thoughts of the
political leaders of the time.

The breach in the ranks of the Republicans which was made by the events
of the early days of the Hayes administration was closed in the face of
an attack by the common enemy--the Democrats. The latter, being in
control of the House, appointed the "Potter Committee" to investigate
the title of Hayes to the Presidency, hoping to discredit him and
thereby turn the tables in the election of 1880. The committee examined
witnesses and reported, the Democrats asserting that Tilden had been
elected and the Republicans that Hayes had been. The Republican Senate,
meanwhile, had prepared a counterblast. By legal proceedings a committee
had obtained from the Western Union Telegraph Company over thirty
thousand of the telegrams sent by both parties during the campaign. The
Republicans declared that the "cipher despatches" among these messages
showed that the Democrats had offered a substantial bribe for the vote
of an Oregon Republican elector. Before the dispatches were returned to
the telegraph company, somebody took the precaution to destroy those
that concerned Republican campaign methods and to retain those relating
to the Democrats. The latter were published by the New York _Tribune_
and revealed attempts to bribe the Florida and South Carolina Returning
Boards. Most of them had been sent by Tilden's nephew or received by
him, so that the corrupt trail seemed to lead straight to the candidate
himself, but the evidence was inconclusive. The Potter Committee then
investigated the telegrams, together with a great number of witnesses,
and another partisan report resulted. It thus appeared that both pot and
kettle were black and there the matter rested. The Democrats had done
themselves no good and had done the Republicans no harm.[5]

The Democrats also attacked the election laws, under which federal
officials supervised elections, and federal judges and marshals had
jurisdiction over cases concerning the suffrage. Under these laws, also,
troops could be used to enforce the judgments of the Courts. There is no
doubt that intimidation, unfair practices and bribery were all too
common in the North as well as in the South. The lack of official


Back to Full Books