PRESIDENT - FIRST YEAR - SOLVING THE SOUTHERN
PROBLEM - CIVIL SERVICE REFORM - SOUND
MONEY MAINTAINED -UNION AND
THE count of the electoral vote was not finished and the
result announced until within three days of the expira-
tion of President Grant's term. Mr. Hayes arrived in Washing-
ton Friday, March 2. Saturday and Sunday he was busy con-
ferring with Republican leaders and completing his Cabinet.
Saturday evening, at the White House, the Chief Justice ad-
ministered the oath of office to prevent a day's interregnum from
Sunday noon. Monday, March 5, the formal inauguration took
place. The announcement of the names of the Cabinet roused a
storm of protest among the "old guard" of the Senate, who felt
that sufficient deference had not been paid to their experience
and wisdom. The enthusiastic popular approval of the Cabinet,
however, quickly brought the Senate to a recognition of the folly
of opposition, and after much heated talk behind closed doors,
the members were confirmed.
All the most important questions that were to receive most
thought and attention during Mr. Hayes's Administration, de-
manded action in his first year in the White House. Foremost
of these was the troublesome Southern problem - source of end-
less dispute and reproach. Mr. Hayes took this in hand im-
mediately and in a few weeks had made so wise and sensible a
disposition of it, that all the conservative elements of the country
applauded and rejoiced. At the same time efforts toward re-
forming the civil service began to be made, and the Administra-
tion was exerting its influence to the uttermost to stem the rising
tide of popular agitation in favor of the remonetization of the
old silver dollar.
In August a trip of several days was made in New England.
In all his speeches the President pleaded for a "union of hearts,
PRESIDENT - FIRST YEAR 425
union of hands" in all parts of the country, and for the allaying
of all sectional feeling. "At first the receptions were rather
cool," a correspondent wrote. "But the more they saw of the
President and the Cabinet the more they liked them. . .
The President's simple platform of fraternal feeling between
all sections and equal rights for all citizens won its way. There
was no resisting the patriotism and good sense of that sentiment."
Two weeks later the President visited Ohio, where, in more
formal speeches, he emphasized the same ideas that he had pre-
sented in New England. Then he passed over into Kentucky
and journeyed as far as Atlanta. Wherever he halted enthusi-
astic throngs welcomed him and applauded his message of good
will. The time had come to lay aside old differences and bitter-
nesses; to recognize that "we are embarked upon the same voy-
age, upon the same ship, under the same old flag."
The whole "amazing journey," wrote Major Bickham (who
was with the party) in his Dayton Journal, "was more in the
nature of a triumphal march, celebrating the reestablishment of
peace and good will, than anything else with which I can com-
pare it." Not since long before the war were the sentiments of
North and South in so close harmony as they continued for a
time under the spell of the President's glowing patriotism.]
Washington, March 14, 1877.- We left Columbus soon after
noon, Thursday, March 1, for Washington on a special car;
having, in fact, two cars of Colonel Tom Scott, attached to the
regular passenger train. In our party were William Henry
Smith, ex-Governor Noyes, General Young, General Grosvenor,
[and] Colonel H. C. Corbin.
The evening before, we had a reception at the State House
given by the people of Columbus. A large crowd followed us
to the depot. We were escorted by the college cadets. I made
a short speech which was well received. Crowds met us at
Newark, Dennison, Steubenville, and other points. The enthu-
siasm was greater than I have seen in Ohio before. At Marys-
ville(?), near Harrisburg, we were wakened to hear the news
that the two houses had counted the last State and that I was
426 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
We reached Washington about 9:30 A. M. General and Sena-
tor Sherman met us at the depot, and we were driven directly
to Senator Sherman's house. After breakfast I called with
Senator Sherman on President Grant.
It was arranged that I should in the evening, before the state
dinner at the White House, be sworn by the Chief Justice to pre-
vent an interregnum between Sunday noon (the 4th) and the
inauguration, Monday. This was the advice of Secretary Fish
and the President. I did not altogether approve but acquiesced.
I then drove with Senator Sherman to the Capitol. The
colored hack-drivers and others cheered lustily. I went into the
Vice-President's room and many Senators and Representatives
were introduced to me. Several Northern men, S. S. Cox and
other Democrats, and still more Southern men.
Saturday and Sunday [I] saw Senators and Representatives
and others, and [received] many suggestions on the Cabinet.
Blaine urged Fry. Hamlin much vexed and grieved when I told
him I couldn't appoint Fry. Blaine seemed to claim it, as a
condition of good relations with me. Cameron and Logan [were]
greatly urged all day. I told Cameron I could not appoint him.
Too many of the old Cabinet had good claims to remain, to recog-
nize one without appointing more than would be advisable. I
Wm. M. Evarts, New York, State,
John Sherman, Ohio, Treasury,
Carl Schurz, Missouri, Interior,
General Charles Devens, Massachusetts, Attorney-General,
D. M. Key, Tennessee, Postmaster-General,
George W. McCrary, Iowa, War,
R. W. Thompson, Indiana, Navy.
The chief disappointment among the influential men of the
party was with Conkling, Blaine, Cameron, Logan, and their
followers. They were very bitter.* The opposition was chiefly
*"I asked [General Hayes] if it would have done to have invited
Blaine to a place in the Cabinet. He said that it would not. (Whitelaw
Reid had once said that Hayes made a mistake in not consulting Blaine
in the beginning of his Administration.) General Hayes went on to
PRESIDENT - FIRST YEAR 427
to Evarts, Key, and especially Schurz. Speeches were made,
and an attempt to combine with the Democrats to defeat the con-
firmation of the nominations only failed to be formidable by
[reason of] the resolute support of the Southern Senators like
Gordon, Lamar, and Hill. After a few days the public opinion
of the country was shown by the press to be strongly with me.
All of the nominations were confirmed by almost a unanimous
The expressions of satisfaction from all parts of the country
are most gratifying. The press and the private correspondence
of Rogers [private secretary] and myself are full of it.
My policy is trust, peace, and to put aside the bayonet. I do
not think the wise policy is to decide contested elections in the
States by the use of the national army.
March 16, 1877. - Stanley Matthews was yesterday night
nominated for Senator at Columbus. This is an endorsement
of the policy of peace and home rule- of local self-government.
A number of Southern Republican members are reported ready
to go over to the Democrats. On the other hand, the bar of this
District [of Columbia] are in a state of mind because Fred
Douglass, the most distinguished and able colored man in the
Nation, has been nominated marshal for the District. If a liberal
policy towards late Rebels is adopted, the ultra Republicans are
opposed to it; if the colored people are honored, the extremists
of the other wing cry out against it. I suspect I am right in both
refer to the extraordinary conditions confronting the Republican party
when he was nominated, and [to] the pledges made by the party in con-
vention for a reform in administration. He sought to gather to himself
all of the strength that he could to make good the pledges given. To
have put either Blaine or Conkling or their choice in the Administration
would have been to invite the intrigues and obstructive acts of personal
ambition. He did seek to please Governor Morton, as the leader deserving
most from the public. His great services as war governor and his
patriotism justified this preference. Morton got in the Cabinet the man
he really wanted in it and kept out the man he had wanted kept out.
General Hayes had selected John M. Harlan for Attorney-General but
this was abandoned at Morton's request. He never knew why Morton
objected to Harlan."- Contemporary report of conversation with Mr
Hayes, August 9, 1890, by William Henry Smith.
428 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Different plans for Louisiana and South Carolina are offered:-
1. A new election.
2. Lawful action of Legislatures.
3. Acknowledge Packard and Chamberlain, and leave them to
their own state remedies.
4. Withdraw troops and leave events to take care of them-
Here I am too crowded with business to give thought to these
questions. Let me get a few outside opinions; Judge Dickson.
March 20.-Webb was twenty-one today. Vice-President
Wheeler, Arthur Stem, Emily Platt, and Emma Foote dined
with us. An extra dinner got up by the new steward.
Cabinet meeting at 10 A. M. All present. Consider an extra
session.* Mr. Evarts and others opposed it on grounds of ex-
pediency; but Sherman, McCrary, and Devens found legal ob-
jections to all plans for raising and disbursing money without ap-
propriations. General opinion against attempt to get on without
extra session. No decision; subject passed.
Louisiana troubles discussed. All but Devens seemed indis-
posed to use force to uphold Packard's government, and he is not
decidedly for it. All finally agreed to send a commission to
Louisiana. Mr. Vice-President Wheeler, Judge David Davis,
and Hoar (E. R.) agreed upon, and Governor Brown, of
Tennessee, and Bruce, and K. Rayner suggested for the other
Mr. Evarts is of opinion that the military can't be used to
sustain one government against another in case of contested elec-
tions. The States must take care of those matters themselves.
I incline to think that the people will not now sustain the policy
of upholding a State Government against a rival government,
by the use of the forces of the United States. If this leads to the
overthrow of the de jure government in a State, the de facto
government must be recognized.
* The Forty-fourth Congress had failed to pass the Army Appropriation
Bill for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
PRESIDENT - FIRST YEAR 429
March 21. -Cabinet meeting full. Decided to call extra ses-
sion of Congress June 4.* Mr. Evarts will prepare proclamation.
Talked over Commission to Louisiana. Decided to send Wheeler,
Brown, Hoar, Harlan, and Lawrence. If Wheeler fails, then
President Woolsey or Judge David Davis was preferred; but
he [Davis] declined. He advised the commission. Thought it
would do good.
March 23.- It is not the duty of the President of the United
States to use the military power of the Nation to decide con-
tested elections in the States. He will maintain the authority of
the United States and keep the peace between the contending
parties. But local self-government means the determination by
each State for itself of all questions as to its own local affairs.
The real thing to be achieved is safety and prosperity for the
colored people. Both houses of Congress and the public opinion
of the country are plainly against the use of the army to uphold
either claimant to the State Government in case of contest. The
wish is to restore harmony and good feeling between sections
and races. This can only be done by peaceful methods. We
wish to adjust the difficulties in Louisiana and South Carolina
so as to make one government out of two in each State. But if
this fails, if no adjustment can be made, we must then adopt
the non-intervention policy, except so far as may be necessary
to keep the peace.
March 24. -The number of applications for office made to
Mrs. Hayes and other members of the family is so great that a
rule has been adopted that such applications will not be con-
No person connected with me by blood or marriage will be
appointed to office.
WASHINGTON, March 24, 1877.
MY DEAR S-:- I am glad to get through Webb your letter
of the 21st. I did not get Mr. Medill's dispatch in time or W-
*This decision was subsequently changed and the extra session not
called until October.
430 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
might have won. But I thought well of H- and felt that he
would do. I hope to hear fully as to other cases in time.
I do want to please Ingersoll. Can't you see what will do for
Gilbert consistent with public duty?
I am, of course, very busy, but not distressingly so. I can get
along with it. Write often. Remember we have a room and
plates for you and yours. Whenever it is convenient for you to
occupy, let us know.
R. B. HAYES.
HONORABLE WILLIAM HENRY SMITH.
EXECUTIVE MANSION WASHINGTON, April 7, 1877.
MY DEAR H-:-I am sorry we did not know the fact you
mention. Mr. Evarts recommended an appointment for Spain
a few days ago, and I assented. I am not sure that Mr. Evarts
would have desired your friend [Lowell], but etc. We shall
be glad to have a visit at our new home, on short notice, from
you and Elinor and any of the little folks. Earnest.
R. B. HAYES.
HONORABLE W. D. HOWELLS.
April 22.- We have got through with the South Carolina and
Louisiana [problems]. At any rate, the troops are ordered away,
and I now hope for peace, and what is equally important, security
and prosperity for the colored people. The result of my plans
is to get from those States by their governors, legislatures, press,
and people pledges that the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth
Amendments shall be faithfully observed; that the colored people
shall have equal rights to labor, education, and the privileges of
citizenship. I am confident this is a good work. Time will tell.
Now for civil service reform. Legislation must be prepared
and executive rules and maxims. We must limit and narrow the
area of patronage. We must diminish the evils of office-seeking.
We must stop interference of federal officers with elections. We
must be relieved of congressional dictation as to appointments.
PRESIDENT - FIRST YEAR 431
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, April 22, 1877.
MY DEAR MAJOR: -I am glad to see your article on the
Southern question. I know how sore a trial this business is to
staunch antislavery veterans like you. I expect many to con-
demn. I shall not worry or scold if they do. I know they mean
well. It is a comfort to know also that I mean well. It will, I
trust, turn out that I am right. If not, I am a sound Republican
still and always.
R. B. HAYES.
MAJOR WM. D. BICKHAM,
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, April 22, 1877.
MY DEAR JUDGE: - I was made glad by your good letter. The
vital steps have been taken in my attempt to solve the Southern
question. I am now quietly watching for results. I have great
hope. Whatever comes I know I meant well.
Now, if this is over, what next? Whoever has the appointing
power will make mistakes enough. The real thing is to get the
desirable thing into the laws. I believe this Congress will pass
on this subject any measures-any wise measures, I mean-
that may be urged upon their attention. The Southern men will
not yet, if ever, desert their party organization. But they feel
in good temper towards me, and will look kindly, I think, on my
plans for civil service reform. Now, what shall the plans be?
I shall look up the reports, plans, bills, etc., etc., of the last few
years and am hopeful that good will come of it. Is not this the
next thing in order? Write often and believe me,
R. B. HAYES.
HONORABLE WM. M. DICKSON,
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, April 22, 1877.
MY DEAR S-: -I return the letter. I feel about it as you
do. If anything can be done to soften this to the really good
432 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
men involved I will be glad to do it. The thing done is simply the
only possible issue. It is for the best. It will be so regarded
by all wise and good people sooner or later. I shall not forget
my duty to the staunch Republicans.
R. B. HAYES.
HONORABLE WILLIAM H. SMITH.
[Mr. Smith had written:-
"The enclosed paper explains itself. I have been requested to
send it to you to show you how some Republicans feel on the
Louisiana business. Of course I know this is not necessary,
and that your sympathies are as deeply, if not more deeply,
enlisted than the sympathies of others. But those who do not
know you cannot apprehend the situation as clearly as I do.
"A good deal of uneasiness has been observable among our
friends for some days. The gentlemen I induced to go to New
Orleans after the election to witness the count have waited on me,
and while they have been kindly in their manner they have mani-
fested a good deal of feeling. . . . I feel deeply for our
good old Republicans. Their minds are filled with doubts, and
the future is not clear to them."]
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, May 3, 1877.
MY DEAR MAJOR:-I am pained to hear of the unfortunate
assault on Craighead. I am of the same opinion as I was when
I talked with you.
The pacification policy still gains. I am confident it will se-
cure North Carolina, with a fair chance in Maryland, Virginia,
Tennessee, and Arkansas, and am not without hopes of Louisiana,
South Carolina, and Florida.
R. B. HAYES.
P. S.- If the doubtful States North can be saved, this is the
W. D. BICKHAM,
PRESIDENT - FIRST YEAR 433
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, May 7, 1877.
DEAR SIR: - The appointment of colored men to places under
you for which they are qualified, will tend to secure to people
of their race consideration and will diminish race prejudice.
Other elements of your population are, of course, not to be over-
looked. Please consult with Colonel Wharton and endeavor to
arrange your subordinate appointments so as to harmonize and
meet the wishes and approval of all classes of good citizens,
and at the same time to promote the efficiency of the service.
R. B. HAYES.
HONORABLE JOHN E. KING,
COLLECTOR, New Orleans.
[CHICAGO, May 9, 1877.
DEAR MR. PRESIDENT:-Yesterday friends of General Logan
came to see me and said that a gentleman of our acquaintance
had been called on the day before to advance forty dollars to pay
a bill against the Logans, and that the ex-Senator was very poor.
It was suggested that he might accept an appointment to the
custom house here in place of Jones. I made inquiry as to the
forty-dollar story and Logan's financial condition and found
there had been no exaggeration. I then saw some of the gentle-
men who have been objecting to any recognition of Logan by this
Administration, stated the circumstances and asked what they
would think of his appointment to a local office. They thought
it would be right. There are others who might not be moved
in that way.
I do not know how you feel in this matter, of course, and I
only place you in possession of the facts and add this suggestion:
That before any appointment is made, whatever is to be done in
Illinois should be considered as a whole, and such adjustment
had as will satisfy the different classes of Republicans.
I find myself brought face to face with a question I must
answer, and now depart from a resolution supposed fixed, so far
as to recall that part of the last conversation we had which re-
434 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
lated to myself. You indicated an intention, possibly, to consider
my name in connection with a foreign mission. The time has
come when business associates have a right to know what my
future is to be. I am not satisfied in my own mind how I should
receive an offer of that kind, even if made, but I should like to
know if that first inclination remains, and what you propose, if
I beg you not to interpret this as soliciting an office (I never
yet sought an office and do not propose to depart from that rule
now, or do anything that shall sacrifice my own self-respect), but
only as a desire to have for my own convenience all the light I
WILLIAM HENRY SMITH.]
HONORABLE R. B. HAYES.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, May 13, 1877.
MY DEAR S-:- I learned from another source General
Logan's unfortunate condition, and was much moved by it. I
feel that something should be done for him and want to know
what is best. Soon after coming here I was led to think that
some good men would oppose him, but in view of the facts you
name, ought not such opposition to cease, or to be disregarded?
Think of Logan's services in 1861-5 !*
I have assumed that you would not go into public life since
our last talk, and so have not had your place in mind. But no
doubt there can be found something you would like if your mind
turns to the State Department. Let me have your views freely
and I can tell all about it. We are already committed in a few
cases, but are moving so slowly that almost everything is open.
* But a few days later Mr. Smith wrote: - "The announcement in
Washington despatches that the appointment of General Logan to the
Chicago custom house [was under consideration], has stirred up a
hornets' nest here. Ever since there has been a stream of people to my
office to give expression to their concern and enter protests against such
appointment. The feeling of disgust is intense and I am satisfied it will
not do, at least not now. This is what they say."
PRESIDENT - FIRST YEAR 435
We shall go slowly in future, but not so slowly as to leave any-
thing for the next session.
I am getting ready for a short trip to New York.
R. B. HAYES.
HONORABLE WILLIAM HENRY SMITH,
WASHINGTON, May 18, 1877.
DEAR SIR: - It is a great gratification to be able to offer you
either the Austrian or the Russian Mission. If you will name
your choice in due time the appointment will be made and the
country and my Administration have cause to rejoice.
It is preferred that the authentic announcement should be
first made here. With your acceptance this can be done in two
or three weeks and you can sail during next month.
R. B. HAYES.
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL,
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, May 26, 1877.
MY DEAR SIR:-I have read the partial report of the com-
mission appointed to examine the New York custom house. I
concur with the commission in their recommendations. It is my
wish that the collection of the revenues should be free from
partisan control, and organized on a strictly business basis, with
the same guaranties for efficiency and fidelity in the selection of
the chief and subordinate officers that would be required by a
prudent merchant. Party leaders should have no more influence
in appointments than other equally respectable citizens. No
assessments for political purposes, on officers or subordinates,
should be allowed. No useless officer or employe should be re-
tained. No officer should be required or permitted to take part
in the management of political organizations, caucuses, conven-
tions, or election campaigns. Their right to vote, and to express
their views on public questions, either orally or through the press,
436 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
is not denied, provided it does not interfere with the discharge of
their official duties.
R. B. HAYES.
HONORABLE JOHN SHERMAN,
SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, May 30, 1877.
MY DEAR MAJOR: - I am not surprised that the printed para-
graph stirred you up. But such names as Morton were on her
papers. An occasional Democratic appointment will not hurt.
This* was so desired by hosts of good Republicans that it was
made. Possibly a mistake. But good men advised and I suspect
it will not hurt. The only thing that makes real trouble is the
purpose to take the Federal offices out of party and personal
political management. I regard Morton's letter as on the whole
a good thing--a very good thing.
R. B. HAYES.
MAJOR WM. D. BICKIIAM.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, June 4, 1877.
MY DEAR S-: - I have your note of the 28th and in accord-
ance with its suggestion I telegraphed Mr. Medill my wish that
he would visit Washington.+ I got no reply, but I still hope to
see him. I am very desirous to do so. There is a world of mat-
ters I would like to confer with him about. If he comes we will
go over all the topics together, and I am sure it will be useful
to me, and I hope satisfactory to him.
R. B. HAYES.
HONORABLE WILLIAM H. SMITH.
*The appointment of Mrs. Thompson as postmaster at Louisville.
+Mr. Smith had written that Mr. Medill, editor of the Tribune, was
"disgusted" at talk of the appointment of General Logan, and "sore anyway
over the failure to recognize [Elmer] Washburne."
PRESIDENT - FIRST YEAR 437
[WASHINGTON, June -, 1877.]
SIR: - The President is of opinion that it is a great abuse
to bring the patronage of the general Government into conflict
with the freedom of elections and that this abuse ought to be
corrected wherever it may have been permitted to exist, and to
be prevented for the future.
He therefore directs that information be given to all officers
and agents in your department of the public service, that partisan
interference in popular elections, (whether of state officers or
officers of the Government, and for whomsoever or against
whomsoever it may be exercised), or the payment of any contri-
bution or assessment on salaries or official compensation for party
or election purposes, will be regarded by him as cause of removal.
It is not intended that any officer shall be restrained in the free
and proper expression and maintenance of his opinions respecting
public men or public measures, or in the exercise, to the fullest
degree, of the constitutional right of suffrage. But persons em-
ployed under the Government and paid for their services out of
the public treasury, are not expected to take an active or officious
part in attempts to influence the minds or votes of others; such
conduct being deemed inconsistent with the spirit of the Consti-
tution and the duties of public agents acting under it; and the
President is resolved, so far as depends upon him, that, while the
exercise of the elective franchise by the people shall be free
from undue influences of official station and authority, opinions
shall also be free among the officers and agents of the Govern-
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 13, 1877.
MY DEAR GENERAL: - I am thinking of sending you a public
letter giving you the choice, to leave the State Committee, or to
resign your office. If I do so, what are your views (briefly) on
the reform divorcing office from political management? This
is for your own eye and ear alone.
R. B. HAYES.
*Draft of letter intended to be sent to heads of Departments.
438 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
P. S.- You know, of course, that I am bent on trying the
reform and that I believe in the end it will be sustained by the
Who is the righ man for Cuneo's place at Upper Sandusky?
His deputy, Thompson?
[WASHINGTON, June -, 1877.]
DEAR GENERAL :- I observe by the Ohio newspapers that you
are still acting as chairman of the Republican Executive Com-
mittee of the State. I wish to call your attention to the enclosed
copy of a note addressed to the Secretary of the Treasury on the
subject of interference in elections by the officers of the general
Government. It is my wish that the views expressed in that
letter shall apply and extend to all branches of the public service
under this Government, to prevent the patronage of the Govern-
ment from being brought into conflict with the freedom of
elections. A violation of these principles will be regarded as a
cause of removal. You will therefore make your election. You
will either withdraw from the State Committee or resign your
office under the Government.
[Unidentified.] R. B. HAYES.]
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, June 22, 1877.
SIR:--I desire to call your attention to the following para-
graph in a letter addressed by me to the Secretary of the Treas-
ury, on the conduct to be observed by officers of the general
Government in relation to the elections:
"No officer should be required or permitted to take part in
the management of political organizations, caucuses, conventions,
or election campaigns. Their right to vote and to express their
views on public questions, either orally or through the press, is
not denied, provided it does not interfere with the discharge of
their official duties. No assessment for political purposes, on
officers or subordinates, should be allowed."
This rule is applicable to every department of the civil service.
It should be understood by every officer of the general Govern-
PRESIDENT - FIRST YEAR 439
ment that he is expected to conform his conduct to its require-
ments. Very respectfully,
R. B. HAYES.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, June 24, 1877.
MY DEAR S-: - Thanks for your letter on the pension offices.
We have done "as well as could be expected."
I go to Boston tomorrow. A word as to the Chicago collector-
ship. You are the best man for it. You will probably not want
to take it. It is perhaps not best for you to do it. But of that
you are to judge. I wish it was more nearly equal to your merits.
Write me freely about it. Whatever your decision, it will leave
you in my esteem at the top of the list of most valued friends
and will not change my desire to find something more worthy.
R. B. HAYES.
HONORABLE WILLIAM HENRY SMITH.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, July 7, 1877.
DEAR S-: - Please give me confidentially the propriety of ap-
pointing General Hurlbert as minister to Brazil. How would
it suit Chicago and Illinois?
R. B. H.
HONORABLE WILLIAM HENRY SMITH.
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 12, 1877.
MY DEAR SIR: - I have your note of the 6th. I agree with
you that in your case very little, if any, harm could come from
your participation in politics. But the rule must be ob-
served by all. To allow exceptions would destroy the rule. In
large cities, especially, its enforcement is a necessity. I trust
you will see the propriety of this course.
MR. J. A. HOWELLS, R. B. HAYES.
440 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
August 2, 1877. Soldiers' Home.- On our return from our
Boston and Harvard trip, the last of June, we came out to the
Soldiers' Home for our summer residence. It is an agreeable
abode for the hot weather. Our month here has passed away
swiftly. Ruddy and Fanny went with Emily and Ruddy Platt
to Ohio just as the strike was breaking out, about the 18th of
July. They passed through Pittsburgh only about twenty-four
hours before the dreadful events of that awful Sunday. Fanny
will stay with Laura during the hot weather, either at Columbus
August 5. Sunday. Soldiers' Home.- Brown, a good artist,
who painted General Clingman for the Corcoran gallery, finished
a bust portrait of me Friday. It is, perhaps, the best yet painted.
He painted [it] as a study for a full-length portrait for the Cor-
coran gallery. Thus far the best portraits have been painted by
Witt (several), by - (three), Andrews of Steubenville, one,
full-length, and now this, perhaps the best, by [Carl] Brown.
The strikes have been put down by force; but now for the real
remedy. Can't something [be] done by education of the strikers,
by judicious control of the capitalists, by wise general policy to
end or diminish the evil? The railroad strikers, as a rule, are
good men, sober, intelligent, and industrious. The mischiefs
1. Strikers prevent men willing to work from doing so.
2. They seize and hold the property of their employers.
3. The consequent excitement furnishes an opportunity for
the dangerous criminal classes to destroy life and property.
Now, "every man has a right, if he sees fit to, to quarrel with
his own bread and butter, but he has no right to quarrel with the
bread and butter of other people." Every man has a right to
determine for himself the value of his own labor, but he has no
right to determine for other men the value of their labor. (Not
Every man has a right to refuse to work if the wages don't
suit him, but he has no right to prevent others from working if
they are suited with the wages.
PRESIDENT - FIRST YEAR 441
Every man has a right to refuse to work, but no man has a
right to prevent others from working.
Every man has a right to decide for himself the question of
wages, but no man has a right to decide that question for other
I grow more conservative every day on the question of re-
movals. On ex parte statements, I have made mistakes in re-
moving men who, perhaps, ought to have been retained, and in
appointing wrong men. Not many removals have been made.
Less than by any new Administration since John Q. Adams. But
I shall be more cautious in future; make removals only in clear
cases, and appoint men only on the best and fullest evidence of
There are some points on which good men, North and South,
are agreed-generally are agreed,-for it is not given to men
that all good men should be agreed on any question relating to
1. We agree that it is not well that political parties should
be formed on sectional lines.
2. That it is not well that parties should divide on color lines.
3. That we should not divide on any line or principle of
division which inevitably leads to (contest) conflict, which can
only be settled by the bayonet.
August 8, 1877. Soldiers' Home.-A common slang word is
"polafox" -to deceive, to swindle, or the like. In the Hayne
debate I see that Holmes and Barton speak of Polafox (perhaps
a character in Don Quixote). Is not this the origin of the word?
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, August 11, 1877.
MY DEAR S-: -I have yours. If anything can be done to
remove the distress which afflicts laborers, and to stimulate en-
terprises, I am ready and not afraid to do my share towards it.
Let me have your views.*
*Mr. Smith had written August 8: - "A new phase is given to the
financial question by the labor troubles .... Capital is more timid
than ever, and all enterprise seems to be dead. . . . It is claimed that
the doubt as to the financial policy of the Government has much to do
442 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Sherman wrote to Jones [collector of the port at Chicago,
asking his resignation] last Monday. Nothing from him yet.
I shall be at White Mountains and Vermont next week - [to
be] absent about ten days.
R. B. HAYES.
HONORABLE WILLIAM H. SMITH.
August 26, 1877. Soldiers' Home. - After four days in Ver-
mont and four in New Hampshire, and a rousing evening in
Worcester, we are home again in good health and spirits. The
people seemed pleased. My speeches were wholly unpremedi-
tated - not therefore very satisfactory to myself; rather slovenly
and ill constructed. I tried to impress the people with the im-
portance of harmony between different sections, States, classes,
and races, and to discourage sectionalism and race and class
I must in future take more pains with my little addresses. I
get tired of the ceaseless iteration of phrases of thanks for re-
ceptions, welcomes. I speak of "hearty," "kind," "cordial,"
"generous," "warm," and "flattering" receptions and welcomes;
"enthusiastic," and "spontaneous"; also "unexpected," "un-
merited," "undeserved," "entertainment," "demonstration." I
must also speak of "salutations," "greetings," being all qualified
by the foregoing adjectives; also kind, friendly, courteous.
My next tour is to Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia.
First, I shall meet the Thirty-sixth Ohio at Marietta. With
them I can speak of our common hardships, dangers, and services
--on the once strong, long line of a thousand men, now short-
ened and growing shorter.
Instead of hostility and strife, we desire friendly feeling and
peace between the late belligerent sections. Our aspiration is
with this. The business men generally do not advocate inflation, nor do
they favor resumption under the law. They want some sort of stability
for a definite period, so they can know what to calculate on. Then they
can go into business with confidence. How shall this end be reached?
If capital is not employed, what will become of artisans, mechanics, and
laborers of all kinds? . . . Here is presented to you a problem of
greatest difficulty, involving the happiness of the people."
PRESIDENT - FIRST YEAR 443
for the reign of peace and good will over the whole of our re-
cently agitated (disturbed) and afflicted land.
The people wish to show the respect and courtesy due to the
office which for the time being I happen to fill- occupy.
How would it do at Fremont to talk freely of life and occupa-
tion at Washington?
A reception by my friends and comrades of the Thirty-sixth
Ohio will be very gratifying. We served together during al-
most three years of the four-years War for the Union. We first
met, 1861, in the mountains of West Virginia, on the upper
waters of the Kanawha, and we fought together our last battles
in the Shenandoah Valley under Sheridan. It is a common re-
mark that with good material a good colonel always makes a
good regiment. Your regiment was signally fortunate. Its men
were largely volunteers from the Ohio Company's purchase.
Many of you were descendants from that colony of patriotic
Revolutionary soldiers who first settled Ohio.
September -, 1877. - Left Washington, September 6, on a
tour through Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and Virginia
and returned Tuesday, at 8:30 P. M., September 25. Absent
nineteen days. Received everywhere heartily. The country is
again one and united! I am very happy to be able to feel that
the course taken has turned out so well.*
At Charlottesville, Virginia, Colonel Venable made the address
at the hotel. Dr. Harrison, at the head of the university, re-
ceived me there. The general committee was Colonel Preston,
*As an indication of the impression made on the public by the Presi-
dent's speeches in the South, the following excerpt from a letter of
William Henry Smith of September 27 is significant: -"The trip South
has been the greatest success, as it has been the most pleasant surprise,
of the year. I must congratulate you on your speeches which have
been admirable in their directness, and unexceptionable in taste. The
temptation to touch on other topics must have been great, but you
resisted it with the same wise self-control that has always characterized
your public career. The implacables are at last dumbfounded. They
never believed that you would talk plainly to the Southern people of
the Constitutional amendments and education as you did. Let them pass.
They are now powerless for evil."
444 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Judge Cochran, who married a James of Chillicothe, Mr. Fish-
burn, Woods, and Brown. This was September 25.
October 3, 1877. - Lucy went last night to New York with
Mr. Evarts. Webb, Birch, and Emily Platt to Ohio. We are at
the Home, viz., Fanny, Scott, and myself. I am to go to fairs
at Frederick City, Wednesday, October 10, and at Richmond,
Virginia, two weeks later. I must prepare to say a few words at
each. Congress meets in extra session, 15th [of] October. I
must have a short message ready.
October 4, 1877. - Fifty-five years old today! Lucy absent,
gone to New York. My official life in the Presidency has so far
been successful, in the main, and happy. The country does seem
to be coming back to the ancient concord; and good people ap-
prove what I am trying to do.
My family affairs are satisfactory. The three grown boys are
truthful, honest, moral, and gentlemanly. Birchard is con-
scientious, scholarly, but not so practical yet as I hope he will
become. Webb is full of sense of the practical sort. Ruddy
not yet quite equal to the others, but improving, and is like
both. Fanny, now ten years old, is very sensible, does not take
jokes, defends her absent friends, is like Mother Hayes. Scott
is a handsome little fellow of six - seven in February.
I must resolve on this birthday to do better in the future than
ever before. With good health and great opportunities, may
I not hope to confer great and lasting benefits on my country?
I mean to try. Let me be kind and considerate in treatment of
the unfortunate who crowd my doorway, and firm and con-
scientious in dealing with the tempters. The Southern question
seems to be on a good footing. The currency also. The Mexican
question is perplexing. The improvement of the civil service, I
must constantly labor for.
Sunday, October 7, 1877. Soldiers' Home. -Lucy returned
yesterday morning from New York. The nomination by the
Southern members of the Peabody [Education Fund] Trustees
and the unanimous election by the whole board are agreeable
things. They prove that the pacification measures are approved
PRESIDENT - FIRST YEAR 445
by the whole country. It is also an exceedingly honorable and
WASHINGTON, October 12, 1877.
MY DEAR SIR: - I have your letter of the 4th. It will gratify
me if something can be done agreeable to you. At this moment
I do not see anything in prospect, but I will bear it in my mind.
This note is merely to show that I will heed your wishes as op-
Our regards to your wife and mother.
J. A. GARFIELD. R. B. H.
White House, October 13. -During my busy hours with the
Cabinet, Webb and Lucy began to move to the White House and
we shall sleep here tonight. We return after an absence from
this house of over three months. We entered "the Home"
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, October 13, 1877.
MY DEAR S-:-I think "the [newspaper] Row" tells me
the real reason of our friend's* "estrangement." He thinks
Bristow has not been sufficiently considered. There is no dispo-
sition that way, and yet it may seem so to a partial friend.
The judgeship must, I think, be announced Tuesday. You
may look for it. I see your points and appreciate them, but I
must go steadily along.
Can't you come here soon? I am perfectly serene, but a com-
parison of views with you would do me a power of good.
I have urgent talk from Read who speaks, I suppose, for
Medill in behalf of [Elmer] Washburne. You are for [Gen-
eral Julius] White?
R. B. HAYES.
HONORABLE WILLIAM H. SMITH.
*General Henry V. Boynton, Washington correspondent of the Cin-
446 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
[Mr. Smith had written the President more than once about
General Boynton's "estrangement." In a long letter of October
3 he wrote:-
"1. Boynton is especially the friend and representative of
General Bristow. A close correspondence is kept up between
them, and whatever grievances the latter has are intensified with
the former. Hence the failure to invite the former Secretary of
the Treasury to a seat in your Cabinet, or to appoint General
Harlan as his representative, was construed as ignoring the man
conspicuous as the opponent of all that was bad in the Grant
regime. You and I know that to have done so would have been to
alienate the Republicans of the Northwest. But our Kentucky
friends could not understand that. Then came the appointment
of postmistress at Louisville, which was especially offensive
to Bristow. . . . 2. The second cause of grievance is a
much more delicate one. Boynton on behalf of Richard Smith,
asked for the appointment of the latter's son to a place in New
Mexico. . . . The complaint is not so much on account of
the refusal, as the manner of the refusal, without explanation.
Boynton felt hurt, more than over any other incident in his life.
. . . 3. Boynton did not feel that as much weight was given
to his report on the Sanborn matter as should have been. . . .
4. You will recall a conversation I had with you when last in
Washington, about the dissatisfaction among the newspaper
correspondents on account of the retention of the old White
House clerks, and that you then thought of discharging the most
conspicuous. The correspondents held, that through these, the
bad men in Washington who brought scandal upon Grant, had
access to the White House; that Mr. Rogers' unfamiliarity with
the rings and wickedness of Washington subjected you to the
same danger, while the old men remained . . .
"I have urged upon these gentlemen, that it is too much to ask
you to do everything in a day. But would it not be well to get
at the bottom of this talk about the personnel of the business
offices of the White House? I have no doubt but that the trouble
has been aggravated by the meddlesomeness of a go-between. It
is not necessary to give names, but I ran against some of this
tattling when I was in Washington last.
PRESIDENT - FIRST YEAR 447
"I have no doubt you will see the right way to meet this.
You always do in such emergencies, and your frankness and
courage are never wanting. Boynton goes no more to the White
House. Hence I used the word 'estrangement' in writing to you.
The word and the fact have filled me with sorrow and misgivings.
I believe you would like to give Boynton your confidence. Con-
sult with him. Charge him with responsibilities; he will be true
to them. Fasten him with hooks of steel to you personally.
I shall write to him today, and without giving him a
hint that I have written to you, I will urge upon him the duty
of forming close relations with the Administration, and becoming
its champion . . .
"Is Harlan the man? I think so. His age, vigor-mental
and physical-his agreeable manners and personal magnetism
are strongly for him. I think him [a] very much better man
every way than Bristow, and if a Southern man is to be taken,
he is the man. The appointment will offend a good many people
of both parties of this section, who believe the selection should
be made from this State. They will complain at first but in time,
if the Administration continues in well doing, they will forget
about it or overlook it. This remark applies to the people, not
to a few politicians who sympathize with Conkling and swear
you have destroyed the party in breaking the machine. I hope,
however, the appointment of judge will not be made at a date
earlier than November. The more time you get, the surer of
"Take good care of your health. The day when all will ac-
knowledge your wisdom and goodness is surely coming. Live to
October 18, 1877. - My message for the extra session was sent
in Tuesday. . . . I must now take up the subject of my an-
nual message and prepare for it thoroughly. I propose one gen-
eral paragraph on the prosperous condition of the country; then
the matters pertaining to each Department in their proper order.
And here I must inquire as to the proper order; examine for this
J. Q. Adams and Van Buren and others who would be likely to
be correct and careful about this.
448 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
I must remember the Indians, the [Washington] Monument,
the civil service, the South, education.
Congratulate the country on the fact that the pacification, on
the basis of the Amendments, has gone forward so well. No
brag, but refer it to the excellence of our system and the char-
acter of our people.
In reforming the civil service the following points are to be
1. Remove the offices from political management. Let officers
attend to the business of their places and have nothing to do
with the manipulation of politics.
2. Divorce the appointments from legislative control, except
the power of confirmation by the Senate.
3. Rules for appointments; methods.
4. Removals, by what methods and under what rules.
Let me ascertain the names, without regard to party, of mem-
bers of Congress who are sincere friends of the reform. I think
I may count on the following Senators: Christiancy, Michigan,
Republican; Hill, Georgia, Democrat; Matthews, Ohio, Repub-
lican; Randolph, New Jersey, Democrat.
In the House: Cox, Ohio, Republican; Monroe, Ohio, Repub-
lican; Bacon, New York, Republican.
October 21. - Is it practicable to obtain an expression of
opinion from Congress, or from either house, that it is not proper
for Members of Congress to take part in appointments except
on the request of the Executive for information? Or, that Fed-
eral officers should not interfere in politics except to write, or
talk, or vote?
I go to Richmond next Tuesday week. In the few remarks
I shall make in reply to the mayor, may I properly refer to the
interest I felt in knowing the response the people would make to
my efforts for a permanent pacification on the basis of the
Amendments? And then to refer to the support and encourage-
ment which came to me by letters, and conversations, and the
press of Richmond?
A distinguished Virginian has said: "Geographical union, the
union of political parties, the Union of the States, is not enough.
PRESIDENT - FIRST YEAR 449
What we need is union of hearts and union of hands, union
of interests and union of hopes."
Insist that the Constitution of the country shall be respected
and obeyed; insist that the laws shall be enforced. Insist that
every citizen, however humble he may be and wherever he may
be, shall be secured in his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of
October 24, 1877.-It is now obvious that there is a very
decided opposition to the Administration, in both houses of Con-
gress, among the Republican members. There seems not to be
any considerable personal hostility to me. But a conference of
about twenty members of the House at Mr. Sherman's developed
a decided hostility to my measures on the part of members,
respectable both in character and number. The objections ex-
tend to all of my principal acts. This opposition is directed
1. The Cabinet.- It is said there are only four Republican
members, viz., Sherman, Devens, McCrary, and Thompson.
That Evarts and Schurz are disorganizers, doctrinaires, and
liberals, and Key is a Democrat.
2. The attempt to make the civil service non-partisan is ruin-
ous to the party, unjust and oppressive to office-holders, and is
an attempt to accomplish the impossible, viz., a non-partisan
3. The pacification of the South is a total departure from the
principles, traditions, and wishes of the party.
A majority of members probably favor some part of these
measures. Only a small number support all of them. The ad-
versary points to the results of elections, as showing that the peo-
ple condemn the Administration, and that it is destroying the
4. The most bitter opposition arises from the apprehension
that the course of the Administration will deprive Congressmen
of all control and share of the patronage of the Government.
How to meet and overcome this opposition is the question. I
am clear that I am right. I believe that a large majority of the
best people are in full accord with me. Now, my purpose is to
450 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
keep cool; to treat all adversaries considerately, respectfully, and
kindly, but at the same time in a way to satisfy them of my sin-
cerity and firmness. In all parts of my official conduct to strive
conscientiously and unselfishly to do what is wise.
In my anxiety to complete the great work of pacification, I
have neglected to give due attention to the civil service - to the
appointments and removals. The result is, some bad appoint-
ments have been made. Some removals have been mistakes.
There have been delays in action. All this, I must try now to
General Grant in his messages takes strong ground in favor of
a reform of the civil service. See December, 1870, p. 17.
November 3. - Our trip to Richmond and return, October 30,
31, and November 1, was altogether a happy and successful one.
There are thousands of intelligent people [in the South] who are
not Democrats and who would like to unite with the conservative
Republicans of the North.
November 5, 1877. - Topics for regular message:--
1. A general paragraph, cheerful in its views; a suitable ex-
pression of gratitude to God.
2. The condition of the country in connection with the several
Departments in their proper order (?); say, with foreign rela-
tions first and Interior [Department] last; in the order in which
members of Cabinet sit at the cabinet table.
3. Miscellaneous topics such as: - The District of Columbia,
Washington Monument, Southern question, Indian question, (see
Monroe, p. 218), currency question - resumption and silver,
the army, (if not fully treated as part of topics 2), education,
National University, (see Washington, pp. 3, 4), the mode of
determining the result of Presidential elections, improvement of
Mississippi River and improvements generally, census of 1880,
the riots in July 1877, improvements, railroads and levees (?),
Department of Agriculture.
Recommend repeal of test oath as to veterans of War of 1812;
pensions to veterans of Mexican war (?); amnesty for all past
political offienses (see Grant).
PRESIDENT - FIRST YEAR 451
[As to civil service reform]:--
1. Give permanency, security, to official life by removing no-
body during their official term except for cause.
2. Take them out of politics. Separate the civil service from
the active work of party management.
3. Remove patronage from Congress.
4. Limit the area of patronage.
5. Let the terms be for a different period - longer than the
Presidential term, say, six years.
Silver was demonetized by the act of 1873. When was the
first movement in Congress to remonetize it? Was there any
until silver had lost its value?
To attempt to pay the public debt in depreciated silver coin
is a violation of public credit and public faith and thereby
[would] add to the burden of the debt.
For the reestablishment of silver coinage, with every legiti-
mate advantage belonging to it, can be had without injustice to
creditors, either public or private, and without impairing the
public or private credit.
We think with Hamilton that it is a mistake to abridge the
quantity of circulating medium. We want a "full" and not "a
scanty circulation." But we want it all to be coin, or redeemable
in coin - to have intrinsic value - to be money and not a mere
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, November 10, 1877.
MY DEAR S-: - I have been told that Judge Davis is offended
because I failed to consult him prior to action against Jones.*
It is possible I forgot a promise to him. If he says so, I shall
certainly assume it to be so, and make suitable acknowledgments.
Senator Oglesby thinks your appointment is in the interest of
his rival or rivals. I assure him that it is not so intended. But
* J. Russell Jones, Collector of the Port at Chicago, refused to resign,
when his resignation was requested by Secretary Sherman. The President
thereupon suspended him and appointed William Henry Smith as his
452 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
it may occasion delay in your confirmation. I thought it proper
to say this to you.
Boynton called on my invitation. Personally he will be, and
is, friendly to me. I am sure of it. He does not like some of
my associates, and opposes some of my doings, but I look only
for a friendly criticism hereafter.
R. B. HAYES.
HONORABLE WILLIAM HENRY SMITH.
November 29. - We had a charming Thanksgiving dinner in
the state dining-room. All the executive clerks and their wives
and little folks were our guests. One roast pig and three turkeys
(one a monster from Rhode Island, Governor Van Zant). After
a happy dinner from 2:30 to 5 P. M., blindman's buff gave enter-
tainment to the little folks.
December 6, 1877. - The message has been well received, en-
couragingly so. It has but little on the reform of the civil service.
I must now prepare a special message. Let me say:
1. There should be legislation [which] will relieve Congress-
men from all responsibility for the appointments. They must
neither seek to control, nor even to influence, appointments. If
Congress fails to legislate for this end, I must adopt and publish
2. Divorce office holders from the active management of
3. Admit to subordinate places on examinations.
4. Retain all good officers during their terms, and establish
Judge M. L. Bundy of Indiana says: -"The last time I saw
Governor Morton he paid you a very high compliment. He said
I have read all of the President's speeches on his Southern tour.
He has always talked good sense; he never said a foolish thing."
This was good from such a judge.
PRESIDENT - FIRST YEAR 453
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, December 8, 1877.
MY DEAR S--:--I am glad your daughter can visit us. We
shall be absent a few days during the recess. The gay season
will begin immediately afterwards. We have some young people
with us during this month, beyond the usual friends (viz., Miss
Platt and Miss Foote, who spend the winter), and about Jan-
uary 15 will be a good time for you to be here. A visit in
January has good points of all sorts, but if later would suit
better, it will be agreeable to us also. So we shall count on the
young lady in January unless otherwise advised.
I have had a pretty good talk over with Mr. Farwell.* He
is sound, and sees things. The Senatorial usurpation is now
the question. The immediate result is in doubt. In the end, the
claim of a single Senator to control all nominations in his State
will be found so preposterous that it will fall of its own weight.
It is understood that Oglesby and Davis [Senators from Illinois]
opposed the removal of Jones in secret session but spoke well
of you. Oglesby finally voted to confirm. Davis contra. Total
vote thirty-nine to eleven on which I heartily congratulate you.
We shall be glad to see you and Mrs. Smith also.
R. B. HAYES.
HONORABLE WILLIAM HENRY SMITH.
December 9, 1877. - I am now in a contest on the question of
the right of Senators to dictate or control nominations. Mr.
Conkling insists that no officer shall be appointed in New York
without his consent, obtained previously to the nomination. This
is the first and most important step in the effort to reform the
civil service. It now becomes a question whether I should not
insist that all who receive important places should be on the
right side of this vital question. None who are opposed to the
Cincinnati platform on this important question are to be regarded
as Republicans in good standing. How would this do? Rather
radical, probably, but if the war goes on I must think of it.
*Charles B. Farwell, of Chicago, later a Senator from Illinois,
454 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
I must look up the state platforms of 1876. Nothing broader
can be found in support of the Southern policy than the [reso-
lution of the] New York convention of 1875.
December 12, 1877.-In the language of the press, "Senator
Conkling has won a great victory over the Administration." My
New York nominations were rejected, thirty-one to twenty-five.
But the end is not yet. I am right, and shall not give up the
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, December 12, 1877.
MY DEAR GENERAL: - I am glad you approve the general
course advised in the message. It looks as if the courtesy,
esprit de corps, etc., etc., of the Senate would keep them in
Conkling's hands. I can't think this will in the long run suc-
ceed. In any event, I shall go on in the path I have chosen. It
is to be regretted that the division exists, but I do not feel
blamable, and shall try not to increase it needlessly.
As to the currency, well-informed people differ, for the pres-
ent, hopelessly. What is your view?
Come to see us with Mrs. Force December 28-30, and stay a
fortnight. Our silver wedding is 30th. Do.
R. B. HAYES.
GENERAL M. F. FORCE.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, December 16, 1877.
MY DEAR S- :-I return your "mem." as to custom house.
There is a general belief in Boston and other cities that ship-
ments to New York are lowered by fraudulent practices. No
doubt it is true. On this with other reasons, all legitimate, the
change was desired. Now, if we make it again, we should be
able to prove something of this sort. What can be suggested?
We go to New York to stay a few days the last of this week.
R. B. HAYES.
HONORABLE WILLIAM HENRY SMITH.
PRESIDENT - FIRST YEAR 455
[The foregoing letter was in reply to a letter from Mr. Smith
giving information of fraudulent practices in the New York
custom house. Mr. Smith wrote:-
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, December 13, 1877.
MY DEAR MR. PRESIDENT:-- The rejection of the New York
nominations reached me by regular report last night and was a
severe disappointment. You had anticipated this result, of
It seem to me that your way out now lies through assaulting
the abuses in the New York custom house in earnest. The Jay
Commission report treated of these abuses in general terms.
Let us get down to facts now and place the responsibility. I
hand you herewith confidentially a statement made by New York
brokers of the liquidation of duties on an importation of 602 bags
pepper made by a prominent Chicago house in July last. You
will observe that the discounts range from 5 to 20 per cent, and
that the revenue was defrauded that amount, although the goods
are merchantable and brought first-class prices in the market.
See memorandum on the margin made by the appraiser at the
time. Mr. Anderson, the agent of the house, confirmed this to me,
and furthermore said that it was done as a regular thing. The
heads of other importing houses of Chicago tell me the same
thing, and they add that the only way they can compete with
New York houses is to pay the duties in New York, where all
allowances asked by their brokers are made. When asked how
this was accomplished, they have told me without hesitation, "by
the use of money through the brokers." The accounts of the
brokers are so made out that they can say they do not know
of their own knowledge how the fraud is committed. The result
is, our business men are driven for their own protection to do
business through the New York custom house, and perforce to
become parties to the frauds upon the revenue. The city here
is full of evidence, but unless the Government would protect
the importers, it could not be obtained. Our merchants want the
frauds stopped. They say they do not care how much duty they
pay so the New York merchants with whom they compete pay
456 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
This evidence before the country and we should have the
spectacle of Senator Conkling fighting to continue the system
of frauds, and Senator Oglesby, Davis, and other Western Sen-
ators voting to break down the business of the city of Chicago!
Please return me the broker's bill, as I pledged my word it
should only be used confidentially.
WILLIAM HENRY SMITH.]
December 18, 1877. --I go to New York to attend the Union
League reception, Friday evening, and the New England dinner,
There is much said as to plans for harmonizing the friends
and opponents of the Administration. It is desirable, certainly,
that more friends should be found among Republican Congress-
men. Why is not the best basis for harmony the Cincinnati
platform? If differences exist as to its meaning, consult the
Letter of Acceptance and the state platforms after the nomina-
tion and before the election.
December 26, 1877. - Our visit to New York, 21st and 24th,
was a most happy one. The Union League reception, 22nd, the
American Museum of Natural History opening, and the New
England dinner, all enjoyable.
Christmas, the presents to the children made them and their
parents equally happy.
December 30, 1877. - The anniversary of our wedding day,
twenty-five years ago. Our friends from Ohio filled the house.
General Force and wife came Friday evening. Saturday we
went with them, Webb, Scott, and Fan, and Maria to Mount
Vernon. Saturday evening came Colonel L. C. Weir, Dr. and
Mrs. Davis, J. W. Herron and wife, daughter and nurse; Rev.
Dr. L. D. McCabe, Laura and Lilly, etc., etc.
Rainy day. Went to Foundry Church with Lucy [and] Dr.
and Mrs. Davis.
After lunch had a christening in the Blue Room of Mr. and
PRESIDENT - FIRST YEAR 457
Mrs. Herron's seven-weeks baby; called her Lucy Hayes Herron;
also baptized and christened Fanny and Scott. All [the] com-
pany in a circle around the Blue Room. Mr. and Mrs. Rogers
also present and most, if not all, of the attendants and servants
of the Mansion. Lucy in her wedding garments of twenty-five
years ago. A fine dinner. Emily [Platt] rather the adjutant of
the affair. All cards at table were written full of names
present. Twenty-three in all. Singing in the evening.
Before the christening all gathered in our room. General
Force read letters and poems sent by friends. . . . The
whole celebration and the visit of our old friends were very
enjoyable. General and Mrs. Force never seemed so near to us
before. Mrs. Force was particularly happy in making all around
her happy. I had not thought of her as beautiful before. But
she is very beautiful.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, December 31, 1877.
MY DEAR SIR:--I have your note of the 26th. It would
gratify me, and I think be useful to the cause, if we could have
a good long talk over the situation. If you can write me your
views or rather precisely what ought to be said in the message
on reform, it would aid greatly. How to appoint? How to
remove? How to divorce office-holding from the active
work of party politics? How to separate the legislative from the
executive function of appointment - are the points.
I am sorry to find in your note even a hint that you doubt my
loyalty to the minority in this contest. Loss of confidence in
those who lose a fight, or even a skirmish, is common, but I hope
it will not be, in this case, permanent.
R. B. HAYES.
HONORABLE GEORGE WILLIAM CURTIS,
Washington, January 12, 1878. - Last evening after dinner I
received the following dispatch from Major W. D. Bickham:
458 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
DAYTON, OHIO, January 12, 1878.
Richard Anderson's dead body was found in his pasture lot
this afternoon. Physician says apoplexy. Family thought he
was in Cincinnati.
WM. D. BICKHAM.
And so, one of my dearest friends is gone! A friend of thirty
years' standing. A man of such warm affections, so unselfish,
honorable, and true that his friendship was to be counted as one
of the greatest of blessings. His home in Dayton was my home.
But why selfishly think of my loss when it is so small compared
with that of his wife and daughters and sons?
At the time of our silver wedding it was mentioned as re-
markable that the friends with whom I was most intimate when
I married in 1852 were all still my most intimate friends--all
living, as follows: Richard C. Anderson, Manning F. Force,
John W. Herron, George W. Jones, William K. Rogers, and
R. H. Stephenson.
January 19, 1878. - Major J. C. Mayborne, of Geneva, Kane
County, Illinois, yesterday wanted to talk over the situation. He
began to find fault with what I had done. I took the same course
with him, and attacked him for his doubts and suspicions as to my
Republicanism. After getting him on the defensive, I went into
an exposition of my views of the Republican party, its genius,
mission, and duty. Soon it became apparent that he thought
as I did on all the points I touched, and he closed by saying he
was satisfied with my Republicanism, and we parted in excellent
temper with each other. Mem.: - It is better to attack than
"The Chandler's red glare, the Blairs bursting in air, disclose
through the night that R. B. is still there." - Chicago Times.*
Sunday, January 27, 1878. - I have a dull headache at night.
No severe pain, nothing acute, but it leads me to ask, what does
it mean? The pains are in the back of the head for the most
part and leave me when I get up in the morning. They are not
severe enough to prevent my sleeping quite well. I usually am
*Newspaper clipping pasted in Diary.
PRESIDENT - FIRST YEAR 459
awake a few times during the night, but not uncomfortably so.
I sleep as well as I ever did. The head pains are like those I
have had when using quinine. They have rather increased the
last few weeks.
February 3, 1878. -It is now almost a certainty that the
Silver Bill will pass in such shape that I must withhold my sig-
nature. I am not so opposed to silver coinage that I would veto
a bill which guarded the rights of creditors and operated only
in futuro. But I cannot consent to a measure which stains our
credit. We must keep that untainted. We are a debtor nation.
Low rates of interest on the vast indebtedness we must carry
for many years, is the important end to be kept in view. Ex-
pediency and justice both demand honest coinage.
February 6. - The measure will contract the coin of the cur-
rency by expelling gold, which will not remain in the presence
of the depreciated silver.
February 8, 1878.--Miss Mary Devens, niece of [the] At-
torney-General, a sensible, attractive girl of twenty-two or so,
from Boston (or Cambridge), left us after a visit we have en-
joyed, this morning. Her three weeks has been a happiness
Scott celebrated his birthday. A noisy, happy party of thirty
young folks. General Fisk, Governor Baldwin, of Michigan,
and Bishop Harris looked on. While we talked country and
religion, we saw the blindman's buff and other sports in the East
Room and halls.
February 15, 1878. -The topic of interest now, next to the
Silver Bill, is the Anderson prosecution in New Orleans. I put
it as a simple question of good faith, of honor, on the part of
Louisiana. Suppose all of the facts proved against Anderson
to have existed, but suppose the Returning Board had counted
the State for Tilden; would there have been any prosecution?
Nobody believes there would. Is it not a clear case then within
the resolutions of the Nicholls Legislature and the letter of
Governor Nicholls? Believing the affirmative, I rely upon -I
trust--the honor of Governor Nicholls.
460 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
WASHINGTON, February 16, 1878.
DEAR SIR:--The only American whose birthday is generally
known and widely celebrated is Washington. The Father of his
Country is remembered and honored throughout the world for
what he did, and what he was. None of my young friends who
read this patriotic number of the Sunday School Times are
likely to have an opportunity to do such great deeds as were
done by Washington, but all of them will have an opportunity
to be like him in character. They can have his love of country,
his integrity, and his firmness in doing the right. To have such a
character is better than rank, or wealth, or fame. It is a posses-
sion which can't be taken away. As Webster said so impres-
sively of "a sense of duty," "It will be with us through this life,
will be with us at its close, and in that scene of inconceivable
solemnity which lies yet farther onward," it will still be with us.
R. B. HAYES.
To H. CLAY TRUMBULL,
EDITOR of the Sunday School Times.
February 17.-The Silver Bill has passed the Senate with
amendments that will send it back to the House. It will no
doubt reach me during this week. I have given the subject some
study and much anxious reflection. I shall veto the bill. It will
probably become a law notwithstanding my veto. In my message
I ought to give a brief summary of the objections to it, and
probably I ought to indicate what sort of a silver bill might re-
ceive my approval (?), but that is a question for consideration.
I feel the importance and responsibility of my action. But I have
no misgiving. The Nation must not have a stain on its honor.
Its credit must not be tainted. This is the first and great ob-
jection: It is a violation of the national faith.
February 23.- Spent at home. Foster and -, of New
York, talked of Silver Bill, just passed, my probable veto, and
the course of the Administration. At three P. M., a long pro-
cession of Temperance people passed in review (as it is called)
before me under the portico. In the evening dined at Mr.
PRESIDENT - FIRST YEAR 461
[George] Bancroft's with about eighteen at table - a delightful
dinner party. Mr. Bancroft spoke of Washington's love of the
Union, his support of John Adams in preference to Jefferson
because of his Union sentiments, and as apropos gave the toast,
"The President." Present, Chief Justice Waite, Secretary Evarts,
Bancroft Davis, Senator Edmunds, Senator Hoar.
Washington, February 26, 1878. -My new book [Volume 14
of Diary] begins with exciting times. Today at Cabinet meeting
we considered the Silver Bill, passed last week. I had prepared
a veto message and read it to the Cabinet. Colonel Thompson
opposed a veto. He said he was an old Whig and believed the
old Whig doctrine was sound. He thought there should be no
veto on grounds of expediency or policy. There must be a
violation of the Constitution, or haste, or mistake. Here was a
measure, long discussed, the people almost unanimously for it,
two-thirds of each house for it; the measure a wise one, and
demanded very earnestly by the country. I told him the message
put the veto wholly on grounds of principle. The faith of the
Nation was to be violated -the obligation of contracts was im-
paired by the law. Colonel Thompson replied that there was no
provision denying to Congress the right to impair the obligation
of contracts, that no obligation was in fact impaired, that con-
tracts were made in view of the right of Congress to alter the
Mr. Evarts differed totally from Mr. Thompson as to the
right of the President to withhold his assent to measures which
he did not approve. The President under the Constitution is
part of the law-making power. The people have willed that no
measure shall become a law unless he approves until Congress
a second time acts on the bill and by a two-thirds vote passes it
Sherman disliked the condition of things. [August] Belmont,
the agent of the Rothschilds, fears the effect of a veto; prefers
the bill should be approved, bad as he thinks it is. But Sherman
sees no other course.
McCrary also fears a veto. Would like it if the bill is to pass
over the veto. But if the veto is successful in killing the bill,
462 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
he regards with great apprehension the result. The Democrats,
with their worst elements in advance, will come into power.
Judge Key does not see how with the known principles of the
Administration anything else can be done than to refuse assent
to the bill. Judge Devens regards a veto as on all accounts the
true course. General Schurz thinks a veto, if successful, will
save the country from an immoral and dangerous measure, and
if not successful the consequences will be less damaging than
the effect of concurrence.
For a veto decidedly, Evarts, Key, Schurz, Devens--four.
For a veto with some doubts, Sherman and McCrary - two.
Opposed to a veto, Thompson.
March 1, 1878.- I sent in my message against the Silver Bill
yesterday. The message was short and I hope forcible. My ob-
jection to the bill is that it authorizes what I think is dishonest.
I trust that, in fact, no actual dishonesty will be permitted
A year ago today we left Columbus to come to Washington.
The year, if I think of the scenes through which I have passed,
seems an age. If I recall the farewell at Columbus, the throng at
the State House, the procession to the depot, the speech and
farewell there, the lapse of time is but a day.
I have tried to do my duty. The crowd of business, the
urgent misrepresentations poured into my ears by men who ought
to be trustworthy, have led to mistakes - serious mistakes -
*Extraordinary pressure from Republican leaders in all parts of the
country was brought to bear on the President in the effort to induce
him to sign the bill. Overwhelming public sentiment favored such action
But the President's lifelong convictions did not permit him to waver
for an instant. The approval of the veto by the sound-money minority
is reflected by the following paragraph from a letter from William
Henry Smith, of March 4:--"I am glad you vetoed the Silver Bill. It
has made your record clear and unassailable. It has proved to some
doubting Thomases that you have the courage of your convictions. It
has given notice to the world that, whatever the Legislature may do, it
is the duty of the Executive to guard the honor of the Nation. It is
well, and it was well done. Let me confess that two or three days before
you returned the bill, I weakened, and thought that if I were in your
place I would send back the bill signed with a message of dissent or
explanation. But I came out of that in a few hours."
PRESIDENT - FIRST YEAR 463
mainly in appointments, but the general course has been right.
I have been firm and self-possessed on the most difficult and
trying occasions. I am not liked as a President by the politi-
cians in office, in the press, or in Congress. But I am content
to abide the judgment--the sober second thought-of the
Last night we had our second regular state dinner. The
guests were congenial. Very little reserve or stiffness and it
passed off satisfactorily.
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