The Hayes administration was scarcely half over when the politicians began to look forward to the election of 1880. At the outset of his term, Hayes had advocated a single term for the executive and there was no widespread movement among the politicians to influence him to change his attitude. His enemies, indeed, had already turned to General Grant. There had been a third-term boom for the General during his second administration and he had indicated that he was not formidably opposed to further continuance in office. Suddenly, however, the anti-third-term feeling had risen to impressive proportions, whereupon the House of Representatives had adopted a resolution which characterized any departure from the two-term precedent as "unwise, unpatriotic, and fraught with peril to our free institutions." As the resolution passed by an overwhelming vote - 233-18 - nothing further was heard of a third-term boom.

The Hayes administration put a different complexion on the matter. The wheel-horses of the party were not enthusiastic over the President or his policies, and in their extremity they looked to Grant. The New York State Republican Convention, under control of Roscoe Conkling and his forces, instructed delegates to support the General as a candidate for the nomination and endeavored to forestall opposition to a third term. It declared that the objection to a third presidential term applied only to a third consecutive term and hence was inapplicable to the re-election of Grant. Grant, meanwhile, presented a spectacle that was at once humorous and pathetic. He had not expected, on leaving the presidency, to return to power again, had dropped consideration of the political future and had given himself up to the enjoyment of foreign travel. The royal reception accorded him wherever he went suggested to his political supporters that they utilize his popularity. It was foreseen that when he returned to America he would receive a tremendous ovation, on the wave of which he might be carried into office. He was flooded with advice and entreaties that he act in accordance with this plan. His family was eager to return to the position of social eminence which they had occupied, and pressure from them was incessant. At first he did nothing either to aid or to hinder the boom, then gave way to the pressure and at last became extremely anxious to obtain the coveted prize.

If the politicians did, in truth, desire a relaxation from the patronage standards of the Hayes regime, they did not make that the ostensible purpose of their campaign. They argued that the times demanded a strong man; that foreign travel had greatly broadened the General and given him a knowledge of other forms of government; that he had been great as a commander of armies, greater as a President, and that as a citizen of the Republic he "shone with a luster that challenged the admiration of the world." Behind him were Conkling and Platt, with the New York state organization under their control, Don Cameron who held Pennsylvania in his hand, General Logan, strong in Illinois, and lesser leaders who wielded much power in smaller states. Many business men were ready to lend their aid; the powerful Methodist Church, to which he belonged, was favorable to him; and, of course, his popularity as a military leader was unbounded. His return to the United States while the enthusiasm was at its height was the signal for an unprecedented ovation. The opponents of a third term painted in high colors the danger of a revival of the scandals of Grant's days in the presidential chair, formed "No Third Term" leagues, called an "Anti-Third-Term" convention and decried the danger of continuing a military man in civil office. The Nation scoffed at the educational effect of foreign travel on a man who was fifty-seven years of age and could understand the language in only one of the countries in which he travelled. A large fraction of the Republican press, in fact, was in opposition. "Anything to beat Grant" and "No third term" were their war-cries. Nor was there any lack of Republican candidates to oppose the Grant movement and to give promise of a lively nominating convention. Blaine's popularity was as widespread as ever. Those who feared the nomination of either Grant or Blaine favored Senator George F. Edmunds of Vermont or Secretary Sherman. Both of these men were of statesmanlike proportions, but Edmunds was never widely popular and Sherman was lacking in the arts of the politician - "the human icicle," T.C. Platt called him.

The Republican nominating convention of 1880 met in Chicago in a building described as "one of the most splendid barns" ever built. This convention is unusually worthy of study because it involved most of the elements which entered into American politics in the early eighties. It was long memorable as making a record for that form of enthusiasm which bursts into demonstrations. "Great applause," "loud laughter," "cheers" and "hisses long and furious" dot the newspaper accounts of its deliberations. The members "acted like so many Bedlamites," one of the delegates said. On one day the opening prayer was so unexpectedly short that there was applause and laughter. The keen contest for the nomination resulted in galleries packed with supporters of the several candidates, who cheered furiously as their favorite delegates appeared. As the galleries came down nearly to the level of the floor, the spectators were almost as much members of the convention as the delegates themselves. It was under such conditions, then, that the convention proceeded to the serious business of adopting principles and choosing a leader.

Three hundred and six of the 757 delegates were sworn supporters of Grant - pledged to die, if they died at all, "with their boots on," one of their leaders said. In each of the big delegations - those from New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois - a minority was unfavorable to Grant. This minority could be counted in the General's column if the convention could be forced to adopt the so-called "unit-rule," under which the delegation from a state casts all its votes for the candidate favored by the majority. In this particular case, the minorities in New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois numbered more than sixty delegates, so that the adoption of the rule was a stake worth playing for. The plan formulated by the Grant leaders was worthy of the time.

Donald Cameron of Pennsylvania was chairman of the National Republican Committee. Following the usual custom, Cameron was to call the convention to order and present the temporary chairman who had been chosen by the Committee. As the Grant supporters were in a minority even on the Committee, provision was made to meet the emergency in case the majority insisted on the appointment of an anti-Grant chairman. Cameron was to announce the name, a Grant delegate was to move to substitute a Grant man instead, and Cameron would enforce the unit-rule in the resulting ballot. This would ensure control of the organization of the convention and, doubtless, of the nomination of the candidate.

Unhappily for this well-laid plan, rumor of it leaked out, and the majority of the National Committee - opposed to Grant - conveyed information to Cameron that he must agree to give up such a scheme or be ousted from his position. Cameron, convinced that his enemies were determined, gave up his project, and Senator George F. Hoar, who favored neither Grant nor Blaine, was made temporary and later permanent chairman.

Although defeated in the first skirmish, the Grant forces pressed forward for renewed conflict. Conkling presented a resolution that every member of the convention be bound in honor to support the eventual candidate, whoever he might be. The resolution passed 716 to three; and he then moved that the three who had voted in the negative had thereby forfeited their votes in the convention. James A. Garfield of Ohio led the opposition to such rough-shod action and Conkling angrily withdrew his resolution amid hisses. When Garfield reported from the Committee on Rules in regard to the regulations under which the convention should deliberate, he moved that the unit rule be not adopted and the convention upheld him. It was manifest that the delegates were not in a mood to surrender to a junto of powerful machine politicians.

The way having been now cleared for action, the convention adopted a platform. This was composed largely of a summary of the achievements of the party and denunciation of the opposition. Most of the planks were abstract or perfunctory, or expressed in such a way as not to commit the party seriously. Harper's Weekly, a Republican periodical, regretted the character of the platform and remarked that such documents are expected to say

    An undisputed thing 
    In such a solemn way.

Judged by this criterion, the platform was ideal. The obligations of the country to the veterans were emphasized and the restriction of Chinese immigration called for. On the tariff, the only utterance was an avowal that duties levied for the purposes of revenue should discriminate in favor of labor. After this declaration of faith had been unanimously adopted, a Massachusetts delegate presented an additional plank advocating civil service reform.

The convention was now badly put to it. To reject a plank which had been accepted both in 1872 and in 1876 would discredit the party, particularly as the platform just adopted had accused the opposition of sacrificing patriotism "to a supreme and insatiable lust for office." Nevertheless the opposition to its adoption was formidable, and it had already been twice rejected in the Committee on Resolutions, which drew up the platform. There seemed no way of avoiding the issue, however, and the plank was thereupon adopted, though not before Webster Flanagan of Texas had blurted out, "After we have won the race ... we will give those who are entitled to positions office. What are we up here for?"

With the speeches presenting candidates to the convention, the real business of the week began. Senator Conkling aroused a tempest of enthusiasm for General Grant in a famous speech which began with the lines,

    When asked what state he hails from, 
      Our sole reply shall be, 
    He comes from Appomattox 
      And its famous apple tree.

Garfield presented Sherman's name. At the outset General Grant led, Blame was a close second and Sherman third. This order continued for thirty-five ballots. By that time Blaine and Grant had fought each other to a standstill. The General's three hundred and six held together without a break, and Blaine's forces were equally determined.[1]

There was little chance of compromise, as Grant and Blaine were not on speaking terms, and Conkling and Blaine looked upon each other with unconcealed hatred. Since Sherman was handicapped by lack of united support in his own state, the natural solution of the problem seemed to be the choice of some other leader who might harmonize the contending factions. On the thirty-fourth ballot, seventeen votes were given to Garfield; on the next, fifty; then a stampede began, in spite of a protest by Garfield, and on the thirty-sixth ballot a union of the Blaine and Sherman forces made him the choice of the convention. The nominee for the vice-presidency was Chester A. Arthur, who was one of the leading supporters of Grant and a member of the Conkling group.

The choice of Garfield was well received by the country, perhaps the more so as a relief from the danger of a third term. The nominee was a man of great industry, possessed of a store of information, tactful, modest, popular, an effective orator, and a veteran of the war. His rise from canal boy to candidate for the presidency exemplified the possibilities before industrious youth and gave rise to many a homily on democratic America. Yet his friends had to defend his relation to a paving scandal in the District of Columbia and an unwise connection with the Credit Mobilier of 1873. In neither of these cases does Garfield seem to have been corrupt, but in neither does he appear in a highly favorable light.[2]

As the Republicans were dispersing, the Greenback convention was assembling. Their strength in the campaign was almost negligible but their platform presaged the future. Money to be issued only by the government, the volume of money increased, ameliorative labor legislation, restriction of Chinese immigration, regulation of interstate commerce, an income tax, government for the people rather than for classes, wider suffrage, - all these were advocated in concise and unmistakable terms. James B. Weaver was the presidential candidate.

Among the Democrats, the all important question was whether Tilden would be a candidate again. He naturally wished for a renomination and an opportunity to prove by an election that he had been "fraudulently" deprived of the presidency in 1876. The party, likewise, seemed to need his services, as no other leader of equal prominence had appeared. On the other hand, his health had rapidly failed since 1876 and it was apparent that he was unequal to the exacting labors of the presidency. Not until just before the meeting of the convention, however, did he make known his wishes and then he declared that he desired nothing so much as an honorable discharge from public service and that he "renounced" the renomination. The party took him at his word and turned to the adoption of a platform and the choice of another leader.

The platform reflected the bitterness of the party over the "great fraud" of 1876-1877 and advocated tariff for revenue only, civil service reform and the restriction of Chinese immigration. In other words, except for the usual self-congratulation and the denunciation of the opposition, the Democratic platform closely resembled that of the Republicans. The convention then nominated for the presidency General Winfield S. Hancock, a modest, brave Union soldier, of whom Grant once said, "his name was never mentioned as having committed in battle a blunder for which he was responsible." He was not an experienced politician, but was popular even in the South.

On the whole the Democratic convention was much less interesting than its Republican predecessor. There were no fierce factional quarrels to arouse the emotions to concert pitch. The applause spurted out here and there like the "jets from a splitting hose" in the "Ki yi yi yi" which characterized the cheers of the lower wards of New York, in contrast to the rolling billows of applause which formed so memorable an element in the opposition gathering. The New York Tribune, although hostile to everything Democratic, perhaps stated the fact when it commented on the lack of enthusiasm. The convention, the Tribune noted, was well-behaved, but a mob without leaders; there were no Conklings or Garfields or Logans, only John Kelleys and Wade Hamptons.

The campaign of 1880 reflected the lack of definite utterances in the party platforms. Since each side was loath to press forward to the solution of any real problem facing the nation, the campaign was confined, for the most part, to petty or even corrupt partisanship. The career of General Garfield was carefully overhauled for evidences of scandal. Arthur's failings as a public officer were duly paraded. General Hancock was ridiculed as "a good man weighing two hundred and forty pounds." Some attempt was made by the Republicans to make an issue of the tariff, and a remark of Hancock to the effect that the tariff was a "local issue" was jeered at as proving an ignorance of public questions. There was little response to the "bloody shirt" and little interest in "the great fraud." A modicum of enthusiasm was injected into the canvass by the participation of Conkling and General Grant. The former was not happily disposed toward the Republican candidate and Grant had always refused to make campaign speeches, but as the autumn came on and defeat seemed imminent, these two leaders were prevailed upon to lend their assistance. Near the end of the campaign a letter was circulated in the Pacific states, purporting to have been written by Garfield to a Mr. Morey, and expressing opposition to the restriction of Chinese immigration. The signature was a forgery, but complete exposure in the short time before election day was impossible and the letter perhaps injured Garfield on the coast. Nevertheless Garfield and Arthur won, although their popular plurality was only 9,500 in a total of about nine millions. The electoral vote was 214 to 155 and showed that the division among the states was sectional, for in the North Hancock carried only New Jersey, together with Nevada and five electoral votes in California, the result probably of the Morey letter.

Two aspects of the campaign had especial significance. The attempt by Conkling and his associates to choose the Republican nominee through the shrewd manipulation of political machinery, and against the wishes of the rank and file of the party, was a move on the part of the greater state bosses to get control of the national organization, so that they might manage it as they managed their local committees and conventions. The second notable circumstance concerned the collection and expenditure of the campaign funds.

Even before the convention met, the Republican Congressional Committee, pursuing the common practice of the time, addressed a letter to all federal employees, except heads of departments, in which the suggestion was made that the office holders would doubtless consider it a "privilege and a pleasure" to contribute to the campaign funds an amount equal to two per cent. of their salaries. The Republican National Committee also made its demands on office holders - usually five per cent. of a year's salary. The Democrats, having no hold on the federal offices, had to content themselves with the cultivation of the possibilities in states which they controlled. In New York, Senator Platt was chairman of the executive committee and he sent a similar communication to federal employees in the state. Even the office boy in a rural post office was not overlooked, and when contributions were not forthcoming, the names of delinquents were sent to their superiors. Other developments appeared after the election was over. In February, 1881, a dinner was given in honor of Senator S.W. Dorsey, secretary of the Republican National Committee, to whom credit was given for carrying the state of Indiana. General Grant presided and grace was asked by Reverend Henry Ward Beecher. Dorsey was an Arkansas carpet-bagger, who had been connected with a railroad swindle and was soon, as it turned out, to be indicted for complication in other frauds. The substance of the speeches was that the prospect of success in the campaign seemed waning, that Indiana was essential to success and that Dorsey was the agent who accomplished the task. Arthur, who was one of the speakers, explained the modus operandi: "Indiana was really, I suppose, a Democratic State. It had been put down on the books always as a State that might be carried by close and perfect organization and a great deal of - (laughter). I see the reporters are present, therefore I will simply say that everybody showed a great deal of interest in the occasion and distributed tracts and political documents all through the State."

With the victory accomplished, the politicians turned from the contest with the common enemy to the question of the division of the spoils; from the ostensible issue of platforms, to the real issue that Flanagan had personified. Although the Republicans had presented a united front to their opponents, there were factional troubles within the party that all but dwarfed the larger contest. The "Stalwarts" were composed of the thorough "organization men" like Conkling, Platt and Arthur; the "Half-breeds" were anti-organization men and more sympathetic with the administration. The commander of the Stalwarts and one of the most influential leaders in the country was Roscoe Conkling, Senator from New York. In person Conkling was a tall, handsome, imperious man, with something of the theatrical in his appearance and manner. As a politician he was aggressive, fearless, scornful, shrewd and adroit when he chose to be, and masterful, always. As an orator he knew how to play on the feelings of the crowd; his vocabulary, when he turned upon one whom he disliked, was memorable for its wealth of invective and ridicule, and especially he uncorked the vials of his wrath on any who were not strictly organization men. Although an able man and a successful lawyer, Conkling seems to have had less interest in the public welfare than in conventions, elections and patronage.

The announcement of Garfield's choice of a Cabinet was the signal for a fierce patronage fight. James G. Blaine, the choice for Secretary of State, was distasteful in the extreme to Conkling. Many years before, during a debate in the House, Blaine had compared Conkling to Henry Winter Davis as

    Hyperion to a satyr, Thersites to Hercules, mud to marble, 
    dunghill to diamond, a singed cat to a Bengal tiger, a whining 
    puppy to a roaring lion.

He had contemptuously referred to Conkling's "haughty disdain, his grandiloquent swell, his majestic, supereminent, overpowering, turkey-gobbler strut." Accordingly when Garfield disregarded Conkling's wishes in regard to the representation which New York should have in the cabinet, Conkling laid the blame upon his old enemy.[3]

As soon as the administration was in office, the Senate met in executive session to act on appointments, and it appeared that the parties were evenly divided, the balance of power lying in the hands of two Independents. President Garfield sent in his list of nominees for office without consulting Conkling in regard to New York appointments. Among them was William H. Robertson for the coveted position of collector for the port of New York. As Robertson had been opposed to Grant and to the unit rule in the Republican convention, Conkling's rage reached a fever pitch. In an attempt to discredit the President before the country, he made public a letter from Garfield giving countenance to the practice of levying campaign assessments on federal employees. Conkling's point of view is not difficult to understand. Consultation with the senators from a state with regard to nominations to offices within its boundaries was the common custom; Conkling had sunk his dislike of Garfield during the campaign in order to assist in a party victory; moreover, he and Platt, the other New York senator, understood that Garfield had agreed to dispense New York patronage in conformity to the wishes of the Stalwarts, in case Conkling took the stump. He had carried out his part of the bargain and now desired his quid pro quo.

Meanwhile the Senate was trying to organize and having failed because of the even division of the parties, stopped the attempt long enough to act on the nominations. The President then withdrew all except that of Robertson, thus indicating that offices in which other senators were concerned would not be filled until the New York case was settled. Foreseeing that the members would wish to clear the way for their own interests and that Robertson's nomination was likely to be agreed to, Conkling and Platt resigned their posts and appealed to the New York legislature for a re-election as a vindication of the stand they had taken. As the legislature was Republican and as Vice-President Arthur went to Albany to urge their case, they seemed likely to succeed; but to their mortification they were both defeated after an extended contest, and Conkling retired permanently to private life. Platt, who was promptly dubbed "Me Too," also relinquished public office, but only for a time. In the meanwhile, as soon as Conkling and Platt had left the Senate, the nomination of Robertson had been approved, and Garfield was triumphant.

Further light was thrown upon political conditions by the investigations of the "star routes." These were routes in the South and West where mails had to be carried by stage lines, and were under the control of the Second Assistant Postmaster-General, Thomas J. Brady. Rumors had been common for some years that they were a source of corruption. Garfield's Postmaster-General, Thomas L. James, had already made a reputation as the reform postmaster of New York, and he set himself to investigate the reports. Among other things it was discovered that a combination of public men and contractors had succeeded in raising the compensation on 134 star routes from $143,169 to $622,808, dividing the extra profits among themselves. Brady and Senator Dorsey, the active agent in the campaign in Indiana, were accused of being in the "ring" and were indicted on the ground of conspiracy to defraud the government. Brady attempted to block the investigation by threatening Garfield with an exposure of the campaign methods, and when the threat failed he made public a letter from the President to "My dear Hubbell," chairman of the Congressional Committee, similar to that which Conkling had earlier published. The trials of the conspirators dragged on until 1883 and resulted in the acquittal of all the accused except one of the least important. Yet some good was accomplished, for the ring was broken up. Dorsey retired from public life, and renewed attention was drawn to the need of better federal officials.

During the course of the trials, the country was shocked by the assassination of the President on July 2, 1881, at the hands of a disappointed office seeker named Guiteau. Despite a strong constitution Garfield grew slowly weaker and died on September 19. The catastrophe affected the country the more profoundly because of its connection with the factional quarrel in the Republican party and because, following the recent murder of the Russian Czar, it seemed to show that democratic government was no guarantee against violence.[4]

The consternation with which the elevation of Chester A. Arthur to the presidency was received was not confined to the Democrats. An oft-repeated remark made at the time was expressive of the opinion of those best acquainted with the new executive: "'Chet' Arthur President of the United States! Good God!" In truth Arthur's previous career hardly justified anything except consternation. He had been identified always with machine politics and particularly with the Conkling group; he had been a prominent figure in the opposition to Hayes when the latter attempted to improve conditions in the New York Customs House; and had taken an active and undignified share in the quarrel between Garfield and Conkling. Chester A. Arthur, however, was a combination of characteristics such as enlist the interest of the student of human nature. Of Vermont birth, educated at Union College where he had taken high rank, he had taught school for a time, had entered the practice of law in New York, had made a good war record, and had been a member of the Republican party from its beginning. In many ways Arthur was made for politics. He was the "man of the world" in appearance, polished, refined, well-groomed, scrupulously careful about his attire, a bon-vivant. Yet he was equally at home in the atmosphere of politics in the early eighties; a leader of the "Johnnies" and "Jakes," the "Barneys" and "Mikes" of New York City. Dignity characterized him, whether in the "knock-down" and "drag-out" caucus or at an exclusive White House reception. He possessed a refinement, especially in his home life, that is not usually associated with ward politics but which forms an element of the "gentleman" in the best sense of that abused word.

Yet they who feared that President Arthur would be like Chester A. Arthur, the collector of the port, were treated to a revelation. The suddenness with which the elevation to the responsibility of the executive's position broadened the view of the President proved that he possessed qualities which had been merely hidden in the pursuit of ordinary partisan politics. Platt, expectant of the dismissal of Robertson, now that a Stalwart was in power, fell back in disgust and disowned his former associate, for it appeared that Arthur intended to further the principles of reform. His first annual message to Congress contained a sane discussion of the civil service and the needed remedies, which committed him whole-heartedly to the competitive system. Although he did not go as far as some reformers would have had him, he went so much farther than was expected that commendation was enthusiastic, even on the part of the most prominent leaders in the reform element. In the same message he urged the repeal of the Bland-Allison silver-coinage act, the reduction of the internal revenue, revision of the tariff, a better navy, post-office savings banks, and enlightened Indian legislation. Altogether it was clear that he had laid aside much of the partisan in succeeding to his high office.[5]

The Chinese problem soon provided him with an opportunity to show an independence of judgment, together with an indifference to mere popularity, which were in keeping with the new Arthur, but which were a surprise to his former associates. As a result of the changes in the Burlingame treaty, which gave the United States authority to suspend the immigration of Chinese laborers, Congress passed a bill in 1882 to prohibit the incoming of laborers for twenty years, western Republicans joining with the Democrats in its passage.[6] Arthur vetoed the measure on the ground that a stoppage for so great a period as twenty years violated those provisions of the treaty which allowed us merely to suspend immigration, not to prohibit it. An attempt to overcome the veto failed for lack of the necessary two-thirds majority. Congress did, however, pass legislation suspending the immigration of laborers for ten years, and this bill the President signed. Later acts have merely extended this law or made it more effective.

Arthur also exercised the veto upon a rivers and harbors bill. It had, of course, long been the custom for the federal government to aid in the improvement of the harbors and internal water-ways of the country. But the modest sums of ante-bellum days grew rapidly after the war, stimulated by immense federal revenues, until the suggested legislation of 1882 appropriated nearly nineteen million dollars. It provided not merely for the dredging of great rivers like the Mississippi and Ohio, but also for the Lamprey River in New Hampshire, the Waccemaw in North Carolina, together with Goose Rapids and Cheesequake Creek. Some of these, the opposition declared, might better be paved than dredged.[7] It might seem that a bill against which such obvious objections could be raised would be doomed to failure. But the argument of Ransom of North Carolina, who had charge of the bill in its later stages in the Senate, seems to have been a decisive one. Somebody had objected that the members of the committee had cared for the interests of their own states, merely. Ransom repelled the charge. He showed that the New England states had been looked out for; "Look next to New York, that great, grand, magnificent State ... that empire in itself ... Go to Delaware, little, glorious Delaware." The committee had retained $20,000 for Delaware. "Go next ... to great, grand old Virginia." Virginia had received something. "Go to Missouri, the young, beautiful, growing, powerful State of my friend over the way." And so on - all had been treated with thoughtful care. Ransom was wise in his day and generation. Although Arthur objected to the bill on the grounds of extravagance and of the official demoralization which accompanied it, nevertheless Republicans and Democrats alike joined in passing over the veto an act which would get money into their home states.

The congressional elections in the fall of 1882 indicated that the factional disputes among the Republicans, and their failure to reform conditions in the civil service had presented the opposition with an opportunity. In the House of Representatives, Republican control was replaced by a Democratic majority of sixty-nine; the state legislatures chosen were Democratic in such numbers as to make sure the even division of the Senate when new members were elected; in Pennsylvania, a Democratic reformer, Robert E. Pattison, was elected governor, and in New York another, Grover Cleveland, was successful by the unprecedented majority of 190,000.

The results of the campaign added interest to a civil service reform bill which had been drafted by some reformers led by Dorman B. Eaton, and which had been presented to the Senate by George F. Pendleton, of Ohio. The debate elicited several points of view. Pendleton set forth the evils of the existing system of appointments, and emphasized the superior advantages of appointment after competitive examination. The Democrats were in distress. Although Pendleton was himself a Democrat and the party platforms had been advocating reform, nevertheless the election of 1884 was not far ahead, Democratic success seemed likely, and the party leaders desired an unrestrained opportunity to fill the offices with their followers. Senator Williams expressed a conviction that the Republican party was a party of corruption and continued:

    The only way to reform is to put a good honest Democratic 
    president in in 1884; then turn on the hose and give him a 
    good hickory broom and tell him to sweep the dirt away.

The Republicans, on their side, were fearful of the same clean sweep that Williams hoped for, and they therefore looked with greater equanimity upon a bill which might retain in office the existing office-holders, most of whom belonged to their party. This aspect of the situation was not lost upon such Democrats as Senator Brown who moved that the measure be entitled "a bill to perpetuate in office the Republicans who now hold the patronage of the government." In the Senate only five members voted against its passage, but thirty-three absented themselves; and in the House forty-seven opposed, while eighty-seven were absent. A little study of the debate makes it clear that the passage of the act was due to conviction in favor of reform on the part of a few and to fear of public opinion on the part of many others. Undoubtedly many of the absentees were members who would not vote for the measure and were fearful of the results of voting against it. The President signed the bill January 16, 1883.

The Pendleton act left large discretion in the hands of the President. It authorized the appointment of a commission of three who should prepare and put into effect suitable rules for carrying out the law. The act also provided that government offices should be arranged in classes and that entrance to any class should be obtained by competitive examination; that no person should be removed from the service for refusing to contribute to political funds; and that examinations should be held in one or more places in each state and territory where candidates appeared. The system was to be inaugurated in customs districts and post offices where the number of employees was as many as fifty, but could be extended later under direction of the President. The soliciting or receiving of contributions by federal officials of all grades, for political purposes, was forbidden. With the exceptions just mentioned, officers could be removed from office as before, but the purpose of removal was now gone. Since the appointee to the vacancy must be the successful competitor in an examination, the chief who removed an officer could not replace him with a personal friend or party worker.

The first commission was headed by Dorman B. Eaton. The work of grading officials and placing them within the protection of the law began at once, and by the close of President Arthur's term nearly 16,000 were classified. Fortunately, the work of the commission was carried on sensibly and slowly, and no backward steps had to be taken.

The attitude of Congress toward tariff revision illustrates many of the characteristics of congressional action during the early eighties. In his first message to Congress, Arthur said that the surplus for the year was $100,000,000, and therefore urged the reduction of the internal revenue taxes and the revision of the tariff. In May, 1882, Congress authorized a tariff commission to investigate and report, and in conformity with the law Arthur appointed its nine members. All of them were protectionists and the chairman, John L. Hayes, was secretary of the Wool Manufacturers' Association. After holding hearings in more than a score of cities and examining some hundreds of witnesses, the commission recommended reductions varying from nothing in some cases to forty or fifty per cent. in others. The average reduction was twenty to twenty-five per cent.

Using the report as a foundation, the Senate drew up a tariff measure, added it to a House bill which provided for a reduction of the internal revenues, and passed the combination. Meanwhile, lobbyists poured into Washington to guard the interests of the producers of lumber, pig-iron, sugar and other materials upon which the tariff might be reduced. When the Senate bill reached the House it contained lower duties than the protectionist members desired. The latter, although in possession of the organization of the House, were not strong enough to restore higher rates, but under the shrewd management of Thomas B. Reed, one of their number, they were able to refer the bill to a conference committee of the two houses which contained seven strong protectionists out of ten members. Reed admitted that the proceedings were "unusual in their nature and very forcible in their character" but he felt that a change in the tariff had been promised and that the only way to bring it about in the face of Democratic opposition was to settle the details "in the quiet of a conference committee." A "great emergency" having arisen, he would take extraordinary measures. The bill produced under these circumstances reduced the internal revenue taxes, lowered some of the tariff duties and raised others, but left the general level at the point where it had been at the close of the war. The Nation, favorable to reform, scornfully characterized the act as "taking a shaving off the duty on iron wire, and adding it to the duty on glue!" Senator Sherman, a protectionist member of the conference committee, wrote an account of the whole procedure many years afterward. After commending the spirit and proposals of the tariff commission and mentioning the successful efforts of many persons to have their individual interests looked out for, he expressed a regret that he did not defeat the bill, as he could have done in view of the evenly balanced party situation in the Senate at that time.


The election of 1880 is well treated by Sparks, Stanwood, Andrews, and Rhodes. Senator G.F. Hoar, the chairman of the Republican nominating convention, has a valuable chapter in his Autobiography of Seventy Years. Such newspapers as the New York Times and Tribune are invaluable for a discussion of the conventions.

The events of the administration, such as the tariff debates, the passage of the civil service law and others are discussed in the special works mentioned in Chapter V. Consult also: Edward Stanwood, J.G. Blaine; T.C. Platt, Autobiography; and A.R. Conkling, Life and Letters of Roscoe Conkling. The Annual Cyclopaedia contains several excellent articles on the tariff (1882, 1883), civil service reform (1883), star route trials (1882, 1883). H.C. Thomas, The Return of the Democratic Party to Power in 1884 (1919), contains useful chapters on Garfield and Arthur.

       * * * * *

[1] For Platt's account of the annual reunion and banquet of the three hundred and six - "The Old Guard" - see Autobiography, 115.

[2] Garfield's early career as a canal boy led to such campaign songs as the following:

    He early learned to paddle well his own forlorn canoe, 
    Upon Ohio's grand canal he held the hellum true. 
    And now the people shout to him: "Lo! 't is for you we wait. 
    We want to see Jim Garfield guide our glorious ship of state."

[3] William Windom, of Minn., was Secretary of the Treasury; E.T. Lincoln, of Ill., Secretary of War; Wayne MacVeagh, of Pa., Attorney-General; T.L. James, of N.Y., Postmaster-General; W.H. Hunt, of La., Secretary of the Navy; S.J. Kirkwood, of Ia., Secretary of the Interior.

[4] The death of the President emphasized the need of a presidential succession law. Under an act of 1792, the president and vice-president were succeeded by the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House. When Garfield died, the Senate had not yet elected a presiding officer and the House had not met. The death of Arthur would have left the country without a legal head. The Presidential Succession Act of 1886 remedied the fault by providing for the succession of the cabinet in order, beginning with the Secretary of State. The presiding officers of the Senate and House were omitted, because they might not be of the dominant party.

[5] The cabinet was composed of F.T. Frelinghuysen, N.J., Secretary of State; C.J. Folger, N.Y., Secretary of the Treasury; R.T. Lincoln, Ill., Secretary of War; B.H. Brewster, Pa., Attorney-General; T.O. Howe, Wis., Postmaster-General; W.E. Chandler, N.H., Secretary of the Navy; H.M. Teller, Colo., Secretary of the Interior.

[6] Above, p. 145.

[7] Some thoroughly unselfish members of Congress like Senator Hoar, however, believed the bill a justifiable one and voted for it. See Hoar, Autobiography, II, chapter VIII.