We discuss the tight election that elected the first Democratic President in 25 years, Grover Cleveland, the Republican help he got, and some comparisons and contrasts to the current election. A President’s umbrella, salutes for his “big foot,” chain-armor clad parades, and the importance of a concern for the “general weal.” all in this episode.
Music by Stephan Siebert, About Life. Also the Integration Marching Band. Find them on FMA freemusicarchive.org
November 5th, eighteen eighty four New York Times “Anxiety in Washington,”
excitement and anxiety of the most intense character have prevailed here all day. And in spite of the unpleasant weather, nearly every male resident is searching for election news at midnight. Reports from various sources are so conflicting, nobody knows how the country has gone. Republicans claim everything, including New York and Virginia. Democrats follow suit. Returns come in so slowly and with such scattered unsatisfactory shape, and the result is not expected to be known before morning. The interest is too great to allow anyone to go home until something definite is receivedNYTIMES, 1884
Nothing definite would be received that night. Indeed, newspapers had differing accounts of who had won the crucial state of New York, whether it was James Blaine, the Republican, or Grover Cleveland, the Democrat. New York Tribune Republican paper was calling the state for blame Democratic papers. Some of them were saying that it looks like Cleveland won The New York Times. A Republican paper opposed to Blaine was saying that something had changed in New York and there were positive developments for Cleveland.
The Associated Press had no answer on this Wednesday night. They would have the no answer on Thursday, they would have no answer on Friday, but kept hinting that it looked like Blaine had won the state of New York. Wait till the returns come in from upstate. Well, they did. And it was on Saturday, November 8th, at 1:00 a.m. in the morning.
The Associated Press calls the election for Grover Cleveland. He wins the state of New York by just 12 hundred votes. The 1884 election was strange. The Democrat was supported by many Republicans, but the Republican was also supported by some Democrats, influential ones, particularly the political machine in New York City that normally aligned with Democrats. Tammany Hall goes all the way back to Aaron Burr, control politics all the way into the 1950s in New York. It appeared to be getting out votes for Republicans in this election, but at the same time in Murray Hill and Brooklyn Heights neighborhoods in New York City, where Republicans would overwhelm Democrats in elections, the Democrat, Grover Cleveland, was putting up big majorities never before seen. But at the same time in the Irish wards, the first, the second, the fourth or Tammany Hall controlled Blaine was winning. Grover Cleveland was an odd Democrat. That’s why Tammany Hall was mild at best and perhaps against him. But others were for him.
Thomas Nast, who used to who would ridicule Democratic politicians, now turned against his own party’s nominee, James Blaine, who he found to be too corrupt in the hands of the big money, meant there would be pictures of him tattooed with all the various scandals, the baggage that he carried into this election. Narced would have a fun time with letters that were discovered where on the other side Blaine had written Burn This Letter while asking for a favor in the letter, the famous Mulligan letters denied him the nomination in the 1876 nominating convention.
The scandal reappears when he’s a candidate for president now in 1884, and they find copies of these letters with the instruction to burn them. It’s a cartoonist dream Narced wasn’t the only one. Mark Twain, the author who supported Republicans, he gave a speech in Connecticut for James Garfield that the Garfield campaign treasured. A friend of Twain said it was the best speech he ever gave. Now, just four years later. Twain had abandoned his party and joined with Karl Shirreffs, with Henry Ward Beecher, with so many others in supporting the state’s governor, Cleveland, in switching their allegiance from the Republican temporarily to the Democrat, they were for civil service reform to keep good people in government, not to replace it. Every time a different party won the election, their opponents called them mugwumps from the Algonquin Mugwump, the chief, the elites, the fancy pants above the fray, now willing to do the work, not willing to dirty their hands in politics. Twain and the others took the Mugwump label as a badge of honor. Mugwumps. Yes, Twain said. Like Washington, like Garrison, like Gallileo, like Luther and Christ. Maybe Twain went a little too far some thought, but he was showing. But as he said, when attacked, he was putting patriotism over party civil reform seems like a thing of the past.
We don’t think about civil service reform that much, but it was a heated issue. It’s not like we’re out of the woods in all of those type of problems. It’s not like a party doesn’t come to power these days and appoint who they want to certain positions. But there’s also civil service. This is the way Alan Evans, a biographer, described it. The disease having been cured. It’s pain and fever are difficult to describe.
We modern viewers don’t know about how much that incompetency, waste and fraud cost the damage to the republic, the intraparty flare ups, the waste of bribing, telling federal employees to give campaign cash. It was very real. And to Mugwumps who bolted the party, that was the most important issue.
I mean, you’ll know something a little something about Grover Cleveland if you know the game of 66 in cards and i don’t play a lot of cards. But I do know that 66 is kind of one of these games where you use part of the deck.
Twenty four cards, aces to nines, all four suits. And it’s a game of tricks and trumps in the center of the table. It’s also a long game.
Play for many rounds, you have some time, and so you could just imagine in the city of Buffalo in the eighteen seventies to lawyers passing the time between cases or or research work that they have to do, maybe smoking cigars, playing games of sixty six and pinnacle. This was the occupation of Buffalo’s giant bachelor lawyer, Big Steve Grover Cleveland, who was playing along with another large fellow, Wilson Shannon Bissell, who Cleveland called “Schan”, and who Bisesl called back to Cleveland”Clee” They were the Damon and Pythias of the Buffalo Bar, the two lawyers who were incredible friends.
You got to think for a second that Cleveland is kind of this small time Buffalo lawyer, he does become assistant D.A. He is sheriff of Erie County for a little while. But this is kind of a working position. It’s a position that one takes to earn some extra money. The sheriff at the time earn a percentage of the fees. You compare him to the man that’s going to be his political opponent, James Blaine, and James Blaine is there earning his place in Congress and becoming a very powerful figure in his party politics.
Grover Cleveland is really a nobody.
He’s an opponent of Abraham Lincoln. That doesn’t mean he’s against the Civil War. He does not serve. He hires a substitute, but he’s a Democrat, but he’s not really an office political power until you get to the eighteen eighties and then some friends decide, you know, there’s corruption in the city of Buffalo. And let’s put this Abel lawyer. They know he works hard.
Let’s put him in charge of let’s make a mayor of Buffalo. He runs, he wins.
He denies a scheme where there’s a street cleaning contract, that contract that has been bought and paid for. And he vetoes the bill. He gets a lot of attention for that. They then run him for New York governor two years later in 1882.
And again, he uses his veto power, knocks down bills, institutes, our reform program, civil service reform in the state of New York, working hand in hand with a young fellow at this time, but a known leader of Republicans in the assembly, Theodore Roosevelt. Harper’s Weekly, not known for saluting Democratic politicians, has a picture of Grover Cleveland and Theodore Roosevelt working together to tame the Tammany Hall tiger, the political machine of New York, as it collapses. Well, of course, when you get to eighteen eighty four, the Democratic Party starts thinking about running the governor of New York for president. So you have within four years, a man goes from being an obscure lawyer to elected president of the United States. His rise to the nomination was simple, but the actual election of eighteen eighty four was not yet. If Cleveland had a few friends on the Republican side, he had made enemies.
As we discussed on the Democratic side newspapers, The New York Sun called him a drunkard, spread rumors. One journalist, Andrew Dwight White, said this was the vilest campaign ever waged. Henry Adams says the public is angry and abusive. We all swing at each other like demons. Yes, it seemed like an eighteen eighty four that a step was taken that because it involved personal issues, because the character of the two men running were attacked, that it became more personal than other elections. Cleveland is called a draft dodger. He had paid a substitute during the civil war.
And there’s also the story in addition to all the personal attacks on there’s a story about how he enjoyed hanging people. He enjoyed the executions as sheriff of Erie County. Now, the nugget of truth behind this fake news story is that as the sheriff, he didn’t have a large staff.
And so he either had to pay someone ten dollars to perform an execution of, say, a murderer or he had to do it himself.
So Grover Cleveland actually had to get out the rope and do these hangings. It is highly unlikely that he enjoyed it. It was just part of the job. But anyway, that gets out in the campaign. For his part, Cleveland was content with being governor, with staying in Buffalo and going back to his law firm with with Bissel.
I have not a particle of ambition, he wrote
But he had powerful friends. Samuel Tilden, he’s the guy who lost the 1876 election, the election that was disputed.
And now many Democrats, you know, too many Democrats was a hero, a martyr for the cause. Tilden’s too ill to run. He supports Cleveland. 1884 would be the redemption election. As for the current president of the United States, he was somewhat in the middle. Chester Arthur. He didn’t like the Republican candidate, James Blaine. He had been on the opposite side of politics his entire political life, had been loyal to Roscoe Conkling, the senator from New York, who aided Blaine probably more than the Democrats. Even now, Arthur had shifted a bit in office and he had supported civil service reform and signed.
The Pendleton Act remains today, landmark legislation and civil reform. Blaine at one point dismisses Arthur as a candidate. Arthur really did want the eighteen eighty four nomination of his party to be able to run for president in his own right. Lane says Arthur will be candidate just as I will fly across the Potomac. The president decided he wasn’t nominated. He didn’t care. Called to meet with the Republican National Committee, perhaps to help fundraising. Arthur, still a very powerful man in the state of New York. He does not meet with them. None of Arthur’s cabinet save one member. None of them make any speeches for Blaine. And even that one cabinet member makes one speech. Blaine will be quite upset about it, but he gets nothing from the current president of the United States. We need to repeat the famous story of eighteen eighty four where it’s discovered that Grover Cleveland had fathered a child out of wedlock. Republicans had the woman, Maria Halpin, in an affidavit they posted lots of stories about in the newspaper. They had Republican ministers condemn Cleveland for his conduct that might have sunk any candidate except in this year.
James Blaine had just as many public scandals as Cleveland has a private one. Everything about this election is just so equalizing. And even towards the end of the campaign, somebody found out that Blaine, too, had a scandal, except it involves his wife and their finding that he married his wife after she was pregnant with their child. Now, Blaine has a response to that. He says that it was true, but there were two marriages. They had one in Kentucky that was not recorded because the state of Maine would not accept it. So they had to get married again in Maine. This just, you can imagine, sounded like a political excuse in the newspapers, had quite a field day with it. There were a lot of concerns about how results would be counted, particularly because it appeared there were reports that money was coming to the Tammany Hall people to help Blaine. And even that the financier Jay Gould, who would be as popular as any big banker is today. Right. That money was going to help elect the election for four.
Blaine. So you see this note from the Democratic Committee that says
the only hope of our opponents is a fraudulent vote count. Call to your assistance, your most vigilant and courageous friendsDNC Bulliten
in Ohio, a state where was expected to go for Blaine. The state had thousands of deputies to make sure the vote counting went smoothly. Twenty five hundred in Cincinnati alone in New York. Cleveland had fifty lawyers financed by William S. Whitney, his friend and campaign contributor, the namesake of the Future Museum, and he would be his future Navy secretary on the ready in case of trouble.
At one point, very smartly, the Democrats have a stenographer to kind of pretend to be a reporter and follow James Blaine around wherever he’s going, looking for him, saying something stupid that’ll end up in the papers. Do you have some more modern type campaigning? There are speeches made, I wouldn’t call it exactly stumping, but both candidates make a few speeches and not just on their front porch.
So Grover Cleveland is going to speak in three swing states. He’s going to speak in Newark, New Jersey, then go to Bridgeport, Connecticut, and then return to his home in Buffalo and get a tremendous greeting. A parade of twenty thousand men along the rail raised way as he’s heading up to there. There is there’s bonfires and locomotive sound there, whistles to announce his arrival. Twenty thousand men in a parade.
People from all over New York State, everybody from plain men in white flannel shirts and black suits and black frock hats to men in white suits and white helmets with signs that said no whiskey ring, no soft soap. That was a reference to soft money, essentially like big money in politics. No Jay Gould, a platoon in army blue uniforms, marching bands, and even a group of people in medieval chain armor and with battle axes marching through the streets of Buffalo to cheering crowds. Meanwhile, Blaine made a trip out into the Midwest and then returned to New York City to great acclaim.
He had his parade and Major Werth Plaza in Manhattan, where a flag enveloped box is constructed for him and many VIPs.
The New York Times, not a Blaine fan, reports that the VIPs had to pay thousands to sit in there next to the candidate, and the candidate kept them waiting. In fact, there are marchers coming out of The New York Times says that people like the marchers. But when it came to shouts of Blaine and Logan, it fizzled out quickly like a wet firecracker. The parade at one point has to stop until Blaine is gotten from his hotel room and gets to the flag draped box where the parade can continue. It was misty, gloomy. This would be a rainy weather election. Probably a note there for anyone making an eighteen eighty four election movie. Rainy weather election here from Continental Liar from the state of Maine, James G. Blain by Neil Roll to a good book.
When the tallly in the Electoral College with New York in the Democratic column ended up Cleveland 219, Blaine one eighty two. There were GOP mutterings about stolen votes and New York State there was talk of a recount. Well, this idea was bruited about Roscoe Conkling came forward. This is a Republican and offered his legal services to the Democrats at no cost. His disservice to Blaine had been camouflaged an extent earlier carping articles in the New York world under the pseudonym of a stalwart Republican and a witticism requoted that when asked to give a speech for Blaine, he replied,
“Gentlemen, I have given up criminal practice.”
His native Oneida County, the town of Utica, where Roscoe Conkling is boss, normally goes for the Republicans by thousands. In this election, Cleveland wins it by one hundred votes. This is part of the delay in the vote count. Some blame bad weather. There’s also a prohibitionist candidate running. There’s also a dinner which is widely publicized that Blaine has with all of these millionaires, which angers people. He shouldn’t have gone to it. He goes to it. He needs money. Blain’s put 100000 of his own into this campaign. It’s very possible, some say, that Cleveland was elected merely by a group of stalwarts. These are people who, Grant is not alive at this point, but previously had wanted to reinstitute a grant as president. These are the regular Republican Party machine. These are the Conkling people of Chester Arthur’s group, a loyal group of stalwarts, and they helped to get Cleveland elected.
And it’s certainly possible or it was the prohibition candidate or it was all the mistakes that plane made. See, one of the things that’s well-known in history is that stenographer that Democrats have following Blaen around is going to catch a preacher in this very large church.
Make a statement at the end of his speech that we reject the party of Romanism, rum and rebellion, the three R’s referring to the Democratic Party, all well and good, something probably every Republican stump speaker up and down the coast has said at one time or another in some form, but butchered the public, the the preachers saying and at this point in New York City, when Blain’s relying on votes from Irish Catholics, is not very helpful and Blaine does nothing to reject the remark, he he apparently doesn’t hear it.
The Cleveland campaign says write it out. They get it in newspapers around the country. They put it on handbills and posters all over New York City. They make sure everyone knows when Blaine goes to New Haven, he’s confronted with shouts of rum, Romanism and rebellion back at him.
And at first he has to someone to he has to have someone explain what it is that they’re talking about, all of these things combined, it’s hard to tell like what really costs Blaine the election. He also brings up that there’s a there’s allegations that in Long Island City, Queens, New York, there is a group of vote counters who count the greenback party votes for Cleveland. In other words, there’s said anything that’s not Blaine is a is a Cleveland vote. When these people had voted for Benjamin Butler, who is running a third party greenback ticket, which did draw votes from Cleveland. It wasn’t proven. And in any case, those seven votes would not have turned the election. But New York’s exceedingly close to votes. So I get notes of eighteen eighty four right now. Now, hat on.
The fans of my history can beat up your politics Facebook site. You know, I had heard a podcast or a moderator say that this election was most like eighteen seventy six. I think any time you have a close election, of course you could bring up 1876. Right. It was so close that it went to a congressional commission. No two elections are same history really repeat itself like this with this precision, even though you know the theme of my show, I’ll be the first to tell you every event in history is a little bit different. It’s a little bit different. Right. I get notes of 1884, 1888, 1876. I think the problem with comparison there is that a lot of that contention had to do with at the state level, three Republican states, South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana, decide to simply send a different set of electors. So, I mean, there could be something brewing that leads to a comparison there. But it’s not the same as at least when I’m recording this. As to the current events today, the actual the reason I think 1876 is not so much a comparison is that, you know, Tilden actually wins outright New York by four percent.
And that’s the big jewel. He wins Connecticut and Indiana by two percent and he wins New Jersey by three.
These are the states that are in this election, the prizes, the swing states, and he runs the table. Tilden really wins that election. It’s just that there was both shenanigans at the vote counting and elector decision level among the Republican Party, those three states, and then also intimidation of African-American voters and for the reason that those states went for the Democrats in the first place. So that election has a lot to and I just get notes of eighteen eighty four here. It’s just a close thing. Republicans helping Democrats. In some cases you have a victory, for instance, in 1880 for where Republicans make gains in the House while Cleveland’s elected president, you have Republicans making gains in the city of New York, in the state legislature of New York. Really a big prize at this time. You have them making gains while Cleveland’s getting elected.
So there’s not like a coattail effect. This, by the way, not the strangest thing in the world. We should say. You know, you’re hearing a lot on TV, I think, in recent days about, OK, Democrats are losing House seats where Biden won. Right.
The same thing happens with Trump. Same thing happens with Bill Clinton. Same thing happens with George H.W. Bush, those three presidents are elected while their party is losing House seats. So it’s not the most uncommon thing in the world. You have to really win a big landslide to have coattails. And I think coattails actually are. Now, Obama in 08 had them. But outside of that, I think they’re actually declining a bit. That effect is declining, but maybe where we’re more independent or something by voters in 84, certainly, or independent making different decisions. You had these kind of like Mugwump ers who, you know, we’re we’re one 100 percent behind Democrat in this case as long as they could get elected. Interesting situation with Theodore Roosevelt. Just tears apart people’s politics, because with Theodore Roosevelt, it’s like he initially supports another fellow, Edmans of Vermont, George Edmands, and a pro civil service reform Republican, supports him at the convention, does everything he can in 1884 to not get Blaen elected. Right, to get Edmands elected. But once Blaine is nominated, Theodore Roosevelt decides to stump for Blaine and he doesn’t do anything small. So he stumps big time all over for Blaine and makes all these statements that’s going to haunt Theodore Roosevelt for the rest of his life because of all of the corruption associated with Blaine. So interesting times then. Interesting times now we have. Obviously, an election go over, if I have some thoughts here, I didn’t predict it, you know that. You know, most of the time I’ve been saying about that rule, at least seventy five percent of the time presidents get re-elected.
So I’m not going to call any kind of like I deal with the past, not the future. So predictions are not my thing. Yeah, it’s a rejection of a president without many consequences for his party, an electoral surgical strike, kind of, you know, not one where up and down the ticket there were there were wins. And it’s hard to beat in modern times. You have to go back. Twenty eight years now. Clinton and he had a tough year of it. When you go through everything that he went through in 1992, can’t just it wasn’t just like a slap your hands easy landslide type thing. Bush had two opponents, him and Perot. I don’t think Perot helped as much, but it was still present. And he was a he was a headache for Bush.
And you get to go back 40 years to get Reagan beating Carter, pretty much a landslide, but also a third party ticket and also. A tough, tougher race than the election results look, but OK, you have that one in 1980, then you get nineteen seventy six. Incumbent president defeated. Carter almost loses thing last week, very close.
Ford wins New Jersey, California, big states, very, very tight margins. And a lot of those states and this is after there’s the Nixon pardon and all the in Watergate, all the reason in the world to turn Ford out. But at present, it’s hard to beat because after that, beyond that, you have to go to nineteen thirty two and Hoover. Even Hoover gets 40 percent of the vote, wins the state of Pennsylvania and Connecticut. So even in the middle of the Great Depression, when there should be no reason to vote for a president. All right, 40 percent of the vote. So here we are, Trump, H.W. Bush, Carter, Ford, Hoover, Benjamin Harrison, you have to go back to Taft, Cleveland, that’s eight. Then you add Van Buren, John Quincy Adams and John Adams, and that’s 11 11 in history. And what will be forty six who were defeated. Now, there are some other factors here. Some don’t run, some are not nominated. Probably that number goes up. Still a small percentage of the total people who are present. So some advantage to incumbency and it’s tough. And that’s something you have to see the context of 20 20 in is that these beats are tough. 18 four is not an incumbent election to that comparison does not work. Grover Cleveland is going for an open seat where Arthur is not running and not really supporting the Republican candidate.
Here’s what Evans writes When Cleveland left Albany for Washington and a special train on the evening of March 2nd, he was accompanied by his friend Lamont Manning and several members of his family. He refused the railways offer to furnish him the train free, and he also refused President Arthur’s invitation to come to the White House. Instead, he spent March 3rd quietly at the Arlington Hotel. When he took the office the next day, it was upon a little Bible, his cherished possession, which bore in faded ink on its flyleaf, my son Stephen Grover Cleveland from his loving mother.
Today, the executive branch of the government is transferred to new keeping, but this is still the government of all the people and it should be nonetheless an object of their affectionate solicitude. At this hour, the animosities of political strife, the bitterness of partisan defeat and the exploitation of partisan triumph should be supplanted by a grudging acquiescence in the popular will and a sober, conscientious concern for the general weal.
The inaugural address, delivered in vibrant tones, struck most here is fine, while everyone else was impressed by Cleveland’s bold refusal to use a manuscript thusly off a teleprompter address dealt less with specific questions of the hour and more general issues.
The initial impression, which Cleveland made upon Washington observers, was not altogether happy. Robert La Follette, watching him and author enter the Senate and seat themselves, felt a momentary shock. The contrast with Chester Arthur, who is a fine, handsome figure, was very striking. Cleveland’s course face his heavy, inert body, his great shapeless hands confirmed in my mind the attacks made upon him during the campaign.
Yeah, so from the guy’s looks, you can tell he’s not morally fit.
That evening, while salsa’s marine band played for the inaugural ball, the doors of the White House closed upon a president who felt hardly the respite of an hour from the demands of the office seekers. Every friend had his pleas. Alton B. Parker asked for good consulship. Abraham Hewitt requested positions for three well-known Democrats. St. Clair McKelway petitioned that the chief clerk at the custom out House be given the important office of collector of the Port in New York.
Cleveland was able to discern and ignore a lot of these requests, although he scoffed at all of the infernal office seeking that he had to deal with as president, but one request really forced him to test his principles. His good friend, Shann Bisel, requested a consulship to London. The problem for Grover Cleveland is he set out to reduce the size of the federal government. There were already two people in that position, could not offer it. He suggested a bunch of smaller Washington, D.C. based jobs that Bissel could do. Bisel was mad. He did this to a number of Buffalo friends, too, when Bizzle made a big issue in their friendship about it. Cleveland just simply writes him a letter. If my friends would no longer be my friends, if they would use the test of whether I have an office for them as a measure of my affection for that would make me very unhappy. But essentially, I have a job to do.
When one Democrat asked for an office filled by an efficient Republican, Cleveland tells him why I was not aware there was a vacancy in that position. Many of these delegations are coming from states and they’re getting answers like this. The people that you’re suggesting to remove have nothing against them and they still have time on their commission. Cleveland would say things like that. One man says, if you see him once and look at that face and jaw, you will believe he means what he says.
CLEVELAND AS PRESIDENT-ELECT
Sometimes at night, I wake up in the White House and rub my eyes.
Grover Cleveland wrote to her friend and wonder if it was all a dream. It was the hardest test any human being could face. He told others, and I’m not up to it, constantly wrote things like this. This was more than just being a little bit coy, as you had to be in 19th century about seeking power. This, this. Seemed to reflect his real feelings. He would reach the White House, his days in the office were long and exhausting. He had one principal assistant, a good friend, Lamont, and he would open mail and respond to people from early morning to late at night. Cleveland couldn’t even get the food he wanted as president, the 47 year old bachelor craved a pickled herring, maybe some cheese or a Louis chop instead. I know I’ll go down there and find French fare, you can blame Chester Arthur for that. He had brought in the French chef into the White House. Mostly, though, culinary issues were not. His problem was that infernal office seeking president had to fill hundreds of offices. Even with civil service legislation passed in Arthur’s time that was just small, 90 percent of jobs were still appointed by the president. Delegations arrive from all cities, Democrats all insisting they had worked hard for him and wanted those jobs. There’s little he could do. He was also seeking to reduce the size of the federal government so that he would need to institute larger tariffs to pay for it, as Republicans had done. But his heart, this is the first Democrat you’re getting in twenty five years since Buchanan, the whole civil war and a long period after the civil war reconstruction, all of that. No Democratic president until Grover Cleveland. So he has to actually implement this policy now and finds it hard, he gets a letter from the Civil Service Reform League.
This is people like Beecher and sure to Republicans who had supported Mark Twain. And they they insist, will you will you continue to support this in your administration? And he writes to him, I will. But he goes, you know, I have a feeling that some of the friends of civil service reform, in other words, Democrats who are all for it when Republicans were in power, will not be such friends of it now.
But he assured them that consideration will not enter my mind, and that’s of no consequence to me. You have a situation where you just take the printing and engraving office. There’s 900 people working there where an engineering study that is conducted during the Arthur administration says you only need five hundred just sort of creating jobs for political favors. Arthur doesn’t act on it. Grover Cleveland is going to have to start doing this. Trouble comes with the postmaster of New York, a man named Pearson, he is a depending on who you talk to, he’s either an honest man or he’s totally incompetent. The civil service reformers, the mugwumps want him reassigned, reappointed Democrats, Tammany Hall and others wanted him replaced. Carl Schertz writes a letter to Cleveland particularly strong, that says you’re going to lose all support of independence if you don’t reappoint person. Democrats are telling you you’re going to lose all of these states if you do reappoint person another Mugwump bribe someone nicer letter like, look, we’re not going to tell you to do this, but if you reappoint person, you’re going have a free hand to do whatever you want elsewhere.
And as Nevin’s his biographer writes, what they should have known is he was going to decide to reappoint person or not based on his own investigation of his merits.
And his feeling about Shurz’s letter was. Cut me some slack, he investigates the situation, finds that person is actually very good at his job and all the accusations against him are just kind of fueled by Tammany Hall rumors and reappoint him.
The reality is, though, Grover Cleveland would face problems even before he enters the White House. It was the change between two administrations and that’s a big change in policy on two fronts. Even the relatively nonpartisan, neutral, say, Arthur administration, who could work with Democrats on civil service reform and not support the GOP candidate. They were sending torpedoes his way, at least to his cabinet officials. Cleveland starts hearing from Democrats in Congress, the gold reserves are being depleted. Why is this? Well, some of the fault of Arthur and his administration, his treasury secretary in particular. But some of this is the Democrats. They passed in 1878 with the House and Senate under their control, the bland Alesund bill. They override Hayes’s veto. So this is their legislation that requires the government to put coinage into circulation. Silver coinage intended to be inflationary, limit the control of the big bankers, controlling the gold reserves and all of that. Well, the problem is they’re having an issue with circulation. Yeah. When it comes to paying a federal debt like interest or interest to banks, you know, people are happy to send in those that the silver coinage, but they’re requiring when they draw from their accounts gold. And Arthur’s treasury secretary saying the new administration come in is apparently not being too helpful in stopping these bankers from depleting the gold reserves. It’s estimated that they need one hundred thousand one hundred million gold reserves to back up the two hundred million in silver coinage that’s out there to support that.
At least this was the rule at the time. Probably has. I think we’d accept a much larger ratio now. But and.
And in 100 million on gold reserves is rapidly being depleted. Cleveland a wants to do something and he decides that it’s going to be time to repeal the Bland Alesund Act now this is a problem because who elected into office is Democrats and Democrats. About three quarters of the party do not agree with him on this money issue. Cleveland is a hard money candidate. Democrats mostly support at least some coinage of silver, if not complete coinage of silver and or extensive coinage of silver. Ninety five congressmen write him a letter saying, please don’t do this. Don’t don’t go for repeal, Will. This is the is being exaggerated anyway. William Lounds Davis of Missouri said that a statement from you about Silver right now would cause us to lose Missouri, Texas, Indiana and every foot we had gained in Illinois. Arguing politics with Grover Cleveland is not the way to get to him. He does not change his mind. He issued a statement as president elect urging the repeal of bland alisson a few days later in the House. One hundred and eighteen Democrats, his own party and 52 Republicans join. To issue a statement against his supporting Bland Alison and 54 Democrats and sixty four Republicans support Cleveland, his own party slaps him before he even takes office.
It’s not like he doesn’t get admirers for this, though, some of the bankers are happy that they elected, not the amiable man Blaine, but the man with the big hand and the big foot.
Something else is up to Arthas, a foreign secretary, Frelinghuysen throws him into a mess with Nicaragua by approving a canal treaty with Nicaragua that would allow the United States to build a canal there and basically control it. That Nicaraguan effect, in exchange for having this canal and all the business that would come from it, will act as kind of a puppet state for the United States and.
It’s not totally dissimilar to what’s going to happen in Panama later, but this is Nicaragua and this is eighteen eighty four. The problem is not so much in doing that with Nicaragua, though. Cleveland’s against it. It’s that we’ve signed a treaty with Great Britain, which. Which says that if if you build anything, we’ve got to do it as partners and you have to allow British vessels through there as well as the United States. That’s a separate treaty that we’ve already signed. So this would bring dishonor to our relations with Great Britain just as Cleveland’s taken office. But the author administration there on the way out, and so they forward the treaty to the Senate. Fortunately, Democrats are able to stall that treaty until Cleveland arrives in office and he withdraws it, averting a crisis.
Do you see this kind of like everybody do what you want thing in politics in eighteen eighty four at eighteen eighty five, because there’s so much party switching and so much divided loyalties and split loyalties and change, is that what it means to be president elect isn’t the same as it might have been in Lincoln’s time or grants.
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