The election of 1880 was memorable only for the type of politics with which that contest was so inextricably involved. The party leaders were second-rate men; the platforms, except for that of the Greenback party, were as lacking in definiteness as the most timid office-seeker could desire; in brief, it was a cross-section of American professional politics at its worst. The election of 1884 was a distinct, although not a complete contrast. It was not a campaign of platforms, but like the election of 1824 it was a battle of men. Two genuine leaders, each representing a distinct type of politics, contended for an opportunity to try out a philosophy of government in the executive chair. In 1880 the conventions were the chief interest - the campaign was dull. The campaign of 1884, on the other hand, was one of the most remarkable in our history.

It will be remembered that the year 1882 had been characterized by political upheavals. In Pennsylvania the Greenbackers had demanded that currency be issued only by the central government - not by the national banks - and that measures be taken to curb monopolies; the independent Republicans had revolted against Cameron, and demanded civil service reform and the overthrow of bossism; and the Democrats had elected a governor of the reformer type, Robert E. Pattison. Massachusetts Republicans had gasped the day after the election to find that "Ben" Butler, who bore a questionable reputation as a politician, as a soldier and as a man, had been elected by a combination of Greenbackers and Democrats on a reform program. In New York the Democrats had taken advantage of a factional quarrel among their opponents to elect as governor a man who had achieved a reputation as a reformer - Grover Cleveland. That some of the states which had been Democratic in 1882, had become Republican again in 1883 illustrates the unstable character of the politics of the time.

The beginning of the convention season of 1884 gave hint of the vigorous campaign ahead. An Anti-Monopoly party nominated Benjamin F. Butler, who was also supported by the Greenbackers. The Prohibitionists presented a ticket headed by John P. St. John. The action of the Republican convention, which met at Chicago on June 3, proved to be the turning point in the campaign. President Arthur was frankly a candidate for another term, but he did not have the united support of the professional politicians and was distrusted by most of the reform element. Nor had his veto of the Chinese immigration bill and the rivers and harbors act tended to increase his popularity. Most enthusiastic, confident and vociferous were the supporters of James G. Blaine, of Maine. The independent element hoped to nominate Senator Edmunds, of Vermont, and was particularly disturbed at the character of the workers for the "Man from Maine." His campaign manager, Stephen B. Elkins, had been charged with a discreditable connection with the star-route scandals; men of the Platt type were urging that it was now Blaine's "turn"; and Powell Clayton, an Arkansas carpet-bagger of ill-repute, was the Blaine candidate for the position of temporary chairman of the convention.

Before a candidate was chosen the delegates turned to the adoption of the platform. This was of the usual type but was an advance over that of 1880 in several respects. It committed the party to a protective tariff and advocated an interstate commerce law and the extension of civil service reform.

The balloting for candidates proved that Blaine was clearly the choice of the convention. The mere mention of his name threw the delegates into storms of applause and even on the first ballot he received votes from every state in the union save five. On the fourth ballot he received an overwhelming majority and became the nominee. John A. Logan of Illinois, a prominent politician and soldier, was nominated for the Vice-Presidency - a tail to the ticket, in the opinion of the Democrats, which was designed to "Wag Invitation to the Soldier Vote." The choice of Blaine was variously received by the different factions in the convention. The Pacific coast delegates, in a special train, went from Chicago to Augusta, Maine, before starting for home, in order personally to pledge their support to the candidate. On the other hand, Theodore Roosevelt disgustedly remarked that he was going to a cattle-ranch in the West to stay he knew not how long. George William Curtis sadly declared that he had been present at the birth of the Republican party and feared that he was to be a witness of its death. Other reformers were no less disaffected.

The outspoken Republican opposition to Blaine gave infinite aid and comfort to the Democrats whose convention, coming a month later, could take advantage of the growing schism in the opposition. During the interval between the two conventions the growing sentiment in favor of the nomination of Grover Cleveland received the additional impetus of independent Republican support. The Democratic party was still an object of suspicion to them, but they were ready to run the risks of even a Democratic administration, if a leader of proved integrity should be nominated, and Cleveland seemed to them to meet the demands of the times. The first work of the convention, which met in Chicago on July 8, was the adoption of a reform platform. Characterizing the opposition party as a "reminiscence," it condemned Republican misrule, and promised reform; it proposed a revision of the tariff that would be fair to all interests, and reductions which would promote industry, do no harm to labor and raise sufficient revenue; and it briefly advocated "honest" civil service reform.

The enthusiasm which the independent Republicans were manifesting for Cleveland was balanced by the hostility of elements within his party. As Governor he had exercised his veto power with complete disregard for the effect on his own political future. He had, for example, vetoed a popular measure reducing fares on the New York City elevated railroad, basing his objections on the ground that the bill violated the provisions of the fundamental railroad law of the state. He was opposed by Tammany Hall, led by John Kelley, who declared that the labor element disliked him. Kelley's reputation, however, was such that his hostility seemed like a compliment and gave force to General Bragg's assertion, in seconding the nomination of Cleveland, that his friends "love him most for the enemies he has made." The first ballot proved that the Governor was stronger than his competitors, Senator Bayard, Allen G. Thurman, Samuel J. Randall and several men of lesser importance, and on the second ballot he received the nomination.

The choice of Cleveland gave the independent movement more than the expected impetus. The New York Times at once crossed the line into the Cleveland camp and Harpers Weekly, long a supporter of the Republicans, the Boston Herald, Springfield Republican, New York Evening Post, The Nation, the Chicago Times and a host of less important ones followed. A conference of Independents in New York City, which was composed of five hundred delegates and which enlisted the support of such men as Carl Schurz, George William Curtis, Henry C. Lea, Charles J. Bonaparte, Moorfield Storey and President Seelye of Amherst College, gave striking evidence of the revolt which Blaine's nomination had aroused. Curtis said in the conference, that the chief issue of the campaign was moral rather than political. The New York Times declared that the issue was a personal one. Some of the better element, however, like Senator Hoar, earnestly urged the election of Blaine, while Senator Edmunds refused either to aid or oppose his party. Others, like Roosevelt, were unable to give ungrudging support, but felt that reform would be better promoted by working within the party than by withdrawing. It is obvious that Blaine and Cleveland, not the platforms of the parties, had become the issue of the campaign.

James G. Blaine was born in Pennsylvania in 1830, was educated at Washington College in his native state, later moved to Augusta, Maine, and purchased an interest in the Kennebec Journal. On assuming his journalistic duties he familiarized himself with the politics of the state and became powerful in local, and later in federal affairs. He was a member of the first Republican convention and was chairman of the state Republican committee for more than twenty years, from which point of vantage he had a prevailing influence in Maine politics. He served in the state and federal legislatures as well as in Garfield's cabinet and was a prominent candidate for the presidential nomination in 1876 and in 1880.

Grover Cleveland, although only seven years younger than Blaine, was relatively inexperienced on the stage of national affairs. He was born in New Jersey, the son of a Presbyterian minister, grew up with little education, was salesman in a village store and later clerk in a law office, at the age of eighteen. Although he had been sheriff of Erie County, it was not until 1881, when he became mayor of Buffalo, that he took an important part in politics, and here his record as the business-like "veto mayor" was such as to carry him into the governor's chair a year later. The huge majority which he received in the gubernatorial contest was not wholly due to his own strength - doubtless factional quarrels among the Republicans assisted him - but the prominence which this election gave him and his conduct as Governor made inevitable his candidacy for higher office.

Few men could have been nominated who would have presented a more complete contrast than Blaine and Cleveland. In personality Blaine was magnetic, approachable, high-strung, possessed of a vivid imagination and of a marvellous memory for facts, names and faces. Over him men went "insane in pairs," either devotedly admiring or completely distrusting him. Cleveland was almost devoid of personal charm except to his most intimate associates. He was brusque and tactless, unimaginative, plodding, commonplace in his tastes and in the elements of his character. Men threw their hats in the air and cheered themselves hoarse at the name of Blaine; to Cleveland's courage, earnestness and honesty, they gave a tribute of admiration. When the campaign was at fever heat, Blaine was lifting crowds of eager listeners to the mountain peaks of enthusiasm; Cleveland was in the governor's room in Albany, phlegmatically plodding away at the business of his office. He was too heavy, unimaginative, direct, to indulge in flights of oratory. Yet scarcely anything that Blaine said still lives, while some of Cleveland's phrases have passed into the language of every-day.

No less a contrast existed between Blaine and Cleveland as political characters. The former's experience in the machinery of politics, in the disposal of its loaves and fishes, has already been mentioned. Of that part of politics, Cleveland had had no experience. It is said that he never was in Washington, except for a single day, until he went there to become President. Both were bold and active fighters, but Blaine was a strategist, a manager and a diplomat, while Cleveland could merely state the policy which he desired to see put into effect, and then crash ahead. Blaine had the instinct for the popular thing, was never ahead of his party, was surrounded by his followers; Cleveland saw the thing which he felt a moral imperative to accomplish and was far in advance of his fellows. The Republican was popular among the professional political element in his party and was supported by it; the Democrat never was. Cleveland openly declared his attitude on controverted issues, in words that admitted of no ambiguity and at times when only silence or soft words would save him from defeat. Blaine lacked the moral courage and the indifference to immediate results which were necessary for so exalted an action. Cleveland had more of the reformer in his nature, and had so keen a sense of responsibility and duty that his political career was a succession of battles against things that seemed wrong to him. Blaine accepted the party standards as they were; he belonged to the past, to the policies and political morality of war and reconstruction; Cleveland belonged to the transition from reconstruction to the twentieth century.

The particular thing, however, that came out of Blaine's past to dog his foot-steps, give him the enmity of the Independents - better known as the "Mugwumps" - and, doubtless, to defeat him, was a series of transactions exposed in the Mulligan letters. In order to understand these, it is necessary to inquire into events that occurred fifteen years before the overturn of 1884. In April, 1869, a bill favorable to the Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad - an Arkansas land-grant enterprise - was before the House of Representatives. Blaine was Speaker. As the session was near its close and the bill seemed likely to be lost, its friends bespoke Blaine's assistance. He suggested that a certain point of order be raised, which would facilitate the passage of the measure, and also asked General John A. Logan to raise the point. Logan did so, Blaine sustained him and the act was passed. Nearly three months later, Warren Fisher, Jr., a Boston business man, asked Blaine to participate in the affairs of the Little Rock Railroad. Blaine signified his readiness, closing his letter with the words, "I do not feel that I shall prove a dead-head in the enterprise if I once embark in it. I see various channels in which I know I can be useful." When Blaine's enemies got hold of this, they declared that he intended to use his position as Speaker to further the interests of the road, as he had done at the time of the famous point of order; his friends asserted that he intended merely to sell the securities of the road to investors. Whether one of these contentions is true, or both, he did sell considerable amounts of the securities of the road to Maine friends, getting a "handsome commission." Considerable correspondence passed between Blaine and Fisher from 1869 to 1872 when their relations ended. Blaine understood that all their correspondence was mutually surrendered.

In the spring of 1876, the presidential campaign was on the horizon and Blaine was a prominent candidate for the Republican nomination. Meanwhile ugly rumors were flying about concerning the connection of certain members of Congress, Blaine among them, with questionable railroad transactions, and he arose in the House to deny the charges. He did not discuss the matter fully, as he did not wish his Maine constituents to know that he had received a large commission for selling Little Rock securities. Gossip grew, however, and a congressional investigation resulted in May, 1876. Blaine was one of the witnesses, but was doubtless anxious to bring the investigation to an end, since it clearly reduced his chances of receiving the nomination. Presently gossip said that Warren Fisher and James Mulligan were going to testify. Mulligan had been confidential clerk to one of Mrs. Blaine's brothers and later to Fisher. When Mulligan began his testimony it appeared that he intended to lay before the committee a package of letters that had passed between Blaine and Fisher, and thereupon, at Blaine's whispered request, one of the members of the committee procured an adjournment for the day. That evening Blaine found Mulligan at the latter's hotel and prevailed on him to surrender the letters temporarily, in order that Blaine might read and then return them. Blaine thereupon consulted two lawyers and on their advice he refused to restore the package to Mulligan. Merely to keep silence, however, was to admit guilt. Blaine, therefore, arose one day in the House of Representatives and holding the letters in his hand read selections and defended himself in a remarkable burst of emotional oratory. At the climax of this defence he elicited from the chairman of the committee of investigation an unwilling admission that the committee had suppressed a dispatch which Blaine declared would exonerate him. Blaine was triumphant, his friends sure that he had cleared himself and the matter dropped for the time. Further investigation was prevented by Blaine's refusal to produce the letters even before the committee and by his sudden illness shortly afterward. His election to the Senate soon took him out of the jurisdiction of the House committee and no action resulted.

The nomination of Blaine in 1884 was a fresh breeze on the half-dead embers of the Mulligan letters. Harper's Weekly and other periodicals published them with damaging explanatory remarks. Campaign committees spread them abroad in pamphlet form. Attention was directed to such phrases as "I do not feel that I shall prove a dead-head" and "I see various channels in which I know I can be useful." Hostile cartoonists used the phrases with an infinite variety of innuendo. But the most powerful evidence was still to come. On September 15, 1884, Fisher and Mulligan made public additional letters which Blaine had not possessed at the time of his defence in 1876. The most damaging of these was one in which Blaine had drawn up a letter completely exonerating himself, which he asked Fisher to sign and make public as his own. Blaine had marked his request "confidential" and had written at the bottom "Burn this letter." Fisher had neither written the letter which was requested nor burned Blaine's. Meanwhile it was recalled that Blaine had earlier characterized the reformers as "upstarts, conceited, foolish, vain" and as "noisy but not numerous, pharisaical but not practical, ambitious but not wise," and the already intemperate campaign became more personal than ever.

Thomas Nast's able pencil caricatured Blaine in Harper's Weekly as a magnetic candidate too heavy for the party elephant to carry; Puck portrayed him as the "tattooed man" covered all over with "Little Rock," "Mulligan Letters" and the like. Life described him as a

    Take all I can gettery, 
    Mulligan lettery, 
    Solid for Blaine old man.

Nor was the contest of scurrility entirely one-sided. Judge caricatured Cleveland in hideous cartoons. The New York Tribune described him as a small man "everywhere except on the hay-scales." Beginning in Buffalo rumors spread all over the country that Cleveland was an habitual drunkard and libertine. As is the way of such gossip, its magnitude grew until the Governor appeared in the guise of a monster of immorality. The editor of the Independent went himself to Buffalo and ran the rumors to their sources. He came to the conclusion that Cleveland as a young man had been guilty of an illicit connection, that he had made amends for the wrong which he had done and had since lived a blameless life. Such religious periodicals as the Unitarian Review, however, continued to describe him as a " debauchee" and "roue." Nearly a thousand clergymen gathered in New York declared him a synonym of "incapacity and incontinency." Much was made, also, of the fact that Cleveland had not served in the war, and John Sherman denounced him as having no sympathy for the Union cause. It did little good in the heated condition of partisan discussion to point out that young Cleveland had two brothers in the service, that he was urgently needed to support his widowed mother and her six other children, and that he borrowed money to obtain a substitute to take the field. On the other side, Harper's Weekly dwelt upon the Mulligan scandal;The Nation, while deploring the incident in Cleveland's past, considered even so grave a mistake as less important than Blaine's, since the latter's vices were those by which "governments are overthrown, states brought to naught, and the haunts of commerce turned into dens of thieves."

As the campaign neared an end it appeared that the result would turn upon New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Indiana, and especially upon the first of these. In New York several elements combined to make the situation doubtful and interesting. Tammany's dislike of Cleveland was well-known, but open opposition, at least, was quelled before election day. Roscoe Conkling, still influential despite his retirement, refused to take the stump in behalf of Blaine, declaring that he did not engage in "criminal practice." The Republicans also feared the competition of the Prohibitionists, because they attracted some Republicans who refused to vote for Blaine and could not bring themselves to support a Democrat. On the eve of the election an incident occurred which would have been of no importance if it had not been for the closeness of the contest. As Blaine was returning from a speaking tour in the West, he was given a reception in New York by a delegation of clergymen. The spokesman of the group, the Reverend Dr. Burchard, referred to the Democrats as the party of "Rum, Romanism and Rebellion." Blaine, weary from his tour, failed to notice the indiscreet remark, but the opposition seized upon it and used it to discredit him in the eyes of the Irish. On the same evening a dinner at Delmonico's at which many wealthy men were present, provided material for the charge that the Republican candidate was the choice of the rich classes.

Early returns on election night indicated that the Democrats had carried the South and all the doubtful states, with the possible exception of New York. There the result was so close that some days elapsed before a final decision could be made. Excitement was intense; and business almost stopped, so absorbed were people in the returns. At length it was officially decided that Cleveland had received 1,149 more votes than Blaine and by this narrow margin the Democrats carried New York, and with it the election.

Contemporary explanations of Blaine's defeat were indicated by a transparency carried in a Democratic procession which celebrated the victory:

    The World Says the Independents Did It 
    The Tribune Says the Stalwarts Did It 
    The Sun Says Burchard Did It 
    Blaine Says St. John Did It 
    Theodore Roosevelt Says It Was the Soft Soap Dinner[1] 
    We Say Blaine's Character Did It 
    But We Don't Care What Did It 
             It's Done.

None of these explanations took into account the strength of Cleveland, but the closeness of the result made all of them important. From the vantage ground of later times, however, it could be seen that greater forces were at work. By 1884 the day had passed when political contests could be won on Civil War issues. The younger voters had no recollections of Gettysburg and felt no animosity toward the Democratic South. Moreover, Cleveland's success was the culmination of a long-continued demand for reform, which he satisfied better than Blaine.

The opening of the first Democratic administration since Buchanan's time excited great interest in every detail of Cleveland's activities and characteristics.[2] Moreover, many who had voted for him distrusted his party and were apprehensive lest it turn out that a mistake had been made in placing such great confidence in one man. The more stiffly partisan Republicans firmly believed that Democratic success meant a triumphant South, with the "rebels" again in the saddle. Sherman declared that Cleveland's choice of southern advisors was a "reproach to the civilization of the age," and Joseph B. Foraker, speaking in an Ohio campaign, found that the people wished to hear Cleveland "flayed" and wanted plenty of "hot stuff."

The President's early acts indicated that the partisans were unduly disturbed. His inaugural address was characterized by straightforward earnestness. The exploitation of western lands by fraudulent claimants was sharply halted. The cabinet, while inexperienced, contained several able men, of whom Thomas F. Bayard, Secretary of State, William C. Whitney, Secretary of the Navy, and L.Q.C. Lamar, the Secretary of the Interior, were best known.[3]

The first great obstacle that Cleveland faced was well portrayed by one of Nast's cartoons, in which the President, with an "Independent" club in his hand, was approaching a snarling, open-jawed tiger, which represented the office-seeking classes. The drawing was entitled "Beware! For He is Very Hungry and Very Thirsty." It was not difficult to foresee grave trouble ahead in connection with the civil service. The Democrats had been out of power for twenty-four years, the offices were full of Republicans, about 100,000 positions were at the disposal of the administration, and current political practice looked with indifference upon the use of these places as rewards for party work. Hordes of office-seekers descended upon congressmen, in order to get introductions to department chiefs; they filled the waiting rooms of cabinet officers; they besieged Cleveland. Disappointed applicants and displaced officers added to the clamor and confusion.

The President's policy, as it worked out in practice, was a compromise between his ideals and the wishes of the party leaders. He earnestly approved the Pendleton act and desired to carry out both its letter and its spirit. He removed office holders who were offensively partisan and who used their positions for political purposes. He gave the South a larger share in the activities of the government, both in the cabinet and in the diplomatic and other branches of the service. When the term of a Republican office holder expired he filled the place with a fit Democrat, if one could be found, in order to equalize the share of the two parties in the patronage. Nearly half of the diplomatic and consular appointments went to southerners, and eventually most of the Republicans were supplanted.

The displacement of so many officials gave the Republicans an opportunity to attempt to discredit the President in the eyes of his mugwump supporters. An amended law of 1869 gave the Senate a certain control over removals, although the constant practice of early times had been to give the executive a free hand. Moreover the law had fallen into disuse - or, as the President put it - into "innocuous desuetude." The case on which the Senate chose to force the issue was the removal of George M. Duskin, United States District Attorney in Alabama, and the nomination of John D. Burnett in his place. The Senate called upon the Attorney-General to transmit all papers relating to the removal; the President directed him to refuse, on the ground that papers of such a sort were not official papers, to which the Senate had a right, and also on the ground that the power of removal was vested, by the Constitution, in the president alone. In the meantime it had been hinted to Cleveland that his nominations would be confirmed without difficulty if it were acknowledged that the suspensions were the usual partisan removals. To do this would, of course, make his reform utterances look hypocritical and he refused to comply:

    I ... dispute the right of the Senate ... in any way save 
    through the judicial process of trial on impeachment, to review 
    or reverse the acts of the Executive in the suspension, during 
    the recess of the Senate, of Federal officials.

As he was immovable and was taking precisely the position that such Republican leaders as President Grant had previously taken, the Senate was obliged to give way. Although it relieved its feelings by censuring the Attorney-General, it later repealed the remains of the Tenure of Office act of 1869, leaving victory with the President.

In connection with the less important offices Cleveland was forced to compromise between the desirable and the practicable. Most of the postmasters were changed, although in New York City an efficient officer was retained who had originally been appointed by Garfield. All the internal revenue collectors and nearly all the collectors of customs were replaced. On the other hand, the classified service was somewhat extended by the inclusion of the railway mail service, a change which, with other increases, enlarged the classified lists by 12,000 offices.

It seems evident that Cleveland pressed reform far enough to alienate the politicians but not so far as to satisfy the reformers. When he withstood Democratic clamor for office, the Independents applauded, and the spoilsmen in his own party accused him of treason. When he listened to the demands of the partisans, the reformers became disgusted and many of them returned to their former party allegiance. Eugene Field expressed Republican exultation at the dissension in the enemy's ranks:

    ... the Mugwump scorned the Democrat's wail, 
    And flirting its false fantastic tail, 
    It spread its wings and it soared away, 
    And left the Democrat in dismay, 
            Too hoo!

Aside from the President, official Washington seems to have had but little real interest in reform. The Vice-President, Hendricks, was a partisan of the old school, and so many members of Congress were out of sympathy with the system that they attempted to annul the law by refusing appropriations for its continuance. On the whole a fair judgment was that of Charles Francis Adams, a Republican, who thought that Cleveland showed himself as much in advance of both parties as it was wise for a leader of one of them to be.

In addition to further improvements in the civil service laws, Cleveland was interested in a long list of reforms which he placed before Congress in his first message: the improvement of the diplomatic and consular service; the reduction of the tariff; the repeal of the Bland-Allison silver-coinage act; the development of the navy, which he characterized as a "shabby ornament" and a naval reminder "of the days that are past"; better care of the Indians; and a means of preventing individuals from acquiring large areas of the public lands. The fact that Hayes and Arthur had urged similar reforms showed how little Cleveland differed from his Republican predecessors. It was not likely, however, that the program would be carried out, for Congress was not in a reforming mood and the Republicans controlled the upper house so that they could block any attempt at constructive policies.

The latent hostility which many of the Civil War veterans felt toward the Democratic party was fanned into flame by Cleveland's attitude toward pension legislation. The sympathy of the country for its disabled soldiers had early resulted in a system of pensions for disability if due either to wounds or to disease contracted in the service. Early in the seventies the number of pensioners had seemed to have reached a maximum. Two new centers of agitation, however, had appeared, the Grand Army of the Republic and the pension agent. The former was originally a social organization but later it took a hand in the campaign for new pension legislation. The agents were persons familiar with the laws, who busied themselves in finding possible pensioners and getting their claims established. The agitation of the subject had resulted in the arrears act of 1879, which gave the claimant back-pensions from the day of his discharge from the army to the date of filing his claim, regardless of the time when his disability began. As the average first payment to the pensioner under this act was about $1,000, the number of claims filed had grown enormously and the pension agents had enjoyed a rich harvest. The next step was the dependent pensions bill, which granted a pension to all who had served three months, were dependent on their daily toil, and were incapable of earning their livelihood, whether the incapacity was due to wounds and disease or not. President Cleveland's veto of the measure aroused a hostility which was deepened by his attitude toward private pension acts.

For some time it had been customary to pass special acts providing pensions for persons whose claims had already been rejected by the pension bureau as defective or fraudulent. So little attention was paid to private bills in Congress that 1454 of them passed between 1885 and 1889, generally without debate and often even without the presence of a quorum of members. Two hours on a day in April, 1886, sufficed for the passage of five hundred such bills. Nobody would now deny that many were frauds, pure and simple. Cleveland was too frugal and conscientious to pass such bills without examination and he began to veto some of the worst of them. Each veto message explained the grounds for his dissent, sometimes patiently, sometimes with a sharp sarcasm that must have made the victim writhe. In one case where a widow sought a pension because of the death of her soldier husband it was discovered that he had been accidentally shot by a neighbor while hunting. Another claimant was one who had enlisted at the close of the war, served nine days, had been admitted to the hospital with measles and then mustered out. Fifteen years later he claimed a pension. The President vetoed the bill, scoffing at the applicant's "valiant service" and "terrific encounter with the measles." Altogether he vetoed about two hundred and thirty private bills. Time after time he expressed his sympathy with the deserving pensioner and his desire to purge the list of dishonorable names, and many applauded his courageous efforts. Nevertheless, his pension policy presented an opportunity for hostile criticism which his Republican opponents were not slow to embrace. His efforts in behalf of pension reform were said to originate in hostility to the old soldiers and in lack of sympathy with the northern cause. In 1887 it even became necessary for him to withdraw his acceptance of an invitation to attend a meeting of the Grand Army in St. Louis, because of danger that he might be subjected to downright insult.[4]

Before the hostility due to the pension vetoes had subsided, Adjutant-General Drum called the attention of the President to the fact that flags taken from Confederate regiments by Union soldiers during the war and also certain flags formerly belonging to northern troops had for many years lain packed in boxes in the attic and cellar of the War Department. At his suggestion Cleveland ordered the return of these trophies to the states which the regiments had represented. Although recommended by Drum as a "graceful act," it was looked upon by the old soldiers with the utmost wrath. The commander of the Grand Army called upon Heaven to avenge so wicked an order and such politicians as Governor Foraker of Ohio gained temporary prominence by their bitter condemnation of it. Eventually the clamor was so great that the President rescinded the order on the ground that the final disposition of the flags was within the sphere of action of Congress only. In February, 1905, however, Congress passed a resolution providing for the return of the flags and the exchange was effected without excitement.

For the reasons already mentioned, little legislation was passed during President Cleveland's administration that was of permanent importance. An exception was the Interstate Commerce Act, which is a subject for later discussion. A Presidential Succession Act, which has earlier been described, provided for the succession of the members of the cabinet in case of the removal or death of the president and vice-president. The Electoral Count Act placed on the states the burden of deciding contests arising from the choice of presidential electors. When more than one set of electoral returns come from a state, each purporting to be legal, Congress must decide which shall be counted. Of some importance, too, was the establishment of the Department of Agriculture in 1889 and the inclusion of its secretary in the cabinet. The admission of the Dakotas, Montana and Washington as states took place in the same year. The improvement of the navy, begun so auspiciously by Secretary Chandler under President Arthur, was continued with enthusiasm and vigor, and the vessels constructed formed an important part of our navy.

Of less popular interest than many of the political questions, but of more lasting importance, was the rapid reduction of the public land supply. The purpose of the Homestead law of 1862 had been to supply land at low rates and in small amounts to bona fide settlers, but the beneficent design of the nation had been somewhat nullified by the constant evasion of the spirit of the laws. Squatters had occupied land without reference to legal forms; cattlemen had fenced in large tracts for their own use and forcibly resisted attempts to oust them; by hook and by crook individuals and companies had got large areas into their possession and held them for speculative returns. Western public opinion looked upon many such violations with equanimity until the supply of land began to grow small. Then came the demand for the opening of the Indian reservations, which comprised 250,000 square miles in 1885. The Dawes act of 1887 provided for individual ownership of small amounts of land by the Indians instead of tribal ownership in large reservations. By this means a considerable amount of good land was made available for settlement by whites. The dwindling supply of western land also called attention to certain delinquencies on the part of the railway companies. Many of them had been granted enormous amounts of land on certain conditions, such as that specified parts of the roads be constructed within a given time. This agreement, with others, was frequently broken, and question arose as to whether the companies should be forced to forfeit their claims. Cleveland turned to the problem with energy and forced the return of some millions of acres. Nevertheless, the fact that it was becoming necessary to be less prodigal with the public land indicated that the supply was no longer inexhaustible, and led the President in his last annual message to urge that the remaining supply be husbanded with great care. Congress was not alert to the demands of the time, however, and no effective steps were taken for many years.


H.C. Thomas, The Return of the Democratic Party to Power in 1884 (1919), is most complete and scholarly on the subject; Sparks, Curtis, Dewey, and Stanwood continue useful; H.T. Peck, Twenty Years of the Republic, 1885-1905 (1907), is illuminating and interesting; H.J. Ford, Cleveland Era (1919), is brief; the files of The Nation and Harper's Weekly are essential, while those of the New YorkSun, Evening Post and Tribune add a few points. The Mulligan letters are reprinted in Harper's Weekly (1884, 643-646).

On the administration, consult the general texts and the special volumes mentioned in chapter V; G.F. Parker, Recollections of Grover Cleveland (1909); and Political Science Quarterly (June, 1918), "Official Characteristics of President Cleveland," give something on the personal side; J.L. Whittle, Grover Cleveland (1896), is by an English admirer; Cleveland's own side of one of his controversies is in Grover Cleveland, Presidential Problems (1904); on Blaine, Edward Stanwood, James G. Blaine (1905). The Annual Cyclopaedia has useful biographical articles.

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[1] A reference to the Dorsey dinner at which Arthur told how Indiana was carried.

[2] His marriage to Miss Frances Folsom, which occurred in 1886, occasioned lively interest.

[3] Other members were: Daniel Manning, N.Y., Secretary of the Treasury; William C. Endicott, Mass., Secretary of War; A.H. Garland, Ark., Attorney-General; William F. Vilas, Wis., Postmaster-General.

[4] President Cleveland also frequently used his veto power to prevent the passage of appropriations for federal buildings which he deemed unnecessary.