BECK index

US Reconstruction & Grant 1869-72

by Sanderson Beck

US Reconstruction & Grant in 1869
US Reconstruction & Grant in 1870
US Reconstruction & Grant in 1871
Grant & United States Elections in 1872
Grant’s US Indian Policy 1869-72
“Boss” Tweed in New York 1863-73

US Reconstruction & Grant in 1869

Republican Reconstruction 1867-68

      On 11 January 1869 the Judiciary Committee proposed that the US House of Representatives consider a constitutional amendment to protect the right to vote of every citizen regardless of race, color, or condition of previous servitude. The next day the National Convention of Colored Men was organized in Washington, and they elected Frederick Douglass as their president.
      In late January President-elect Ulysses S. Grant met with a delegation of Quaker leaders who wanted to improve the education and civilization of the Indians in order to bring about peace. Grant supported their efforts, and his peace policy made good use of them.
      On February 25 and 26 the Congress by votes of 144-44 in the House and 39-13 in the Senate approved the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution which states:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote
shall not be denied or abridged by the United States
or by any State on account of race, color,
or previous condition of servitude.
The Congress shall have the power
to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

About a year went by before three-quarters of the states ratified it to make it a part of the US Constitution.
      Outgoing President Johnson decided not to attend Grant’s inauguration. The new President Grant had written his own short inaugural address and locked it away until he gave it on March 4. He said,

The office has come to me unsought;
I commence its duties untrammeled….
All laws will be faithfully executed,
whether they meet my approval or not.
I shall on all subjects have a policy to recommend,
but none to enforce against the will of the people.
Laws are to govern all alike—
those opposed as well as those who favor them.
I know no method to secure the repeal of bad
or obnoxious laws so effective as their stringent execution.
   The country having just emerged from a great rebellion,
many questions will come before it for settlement
in the next four years which preceding Administrations
have never had to deal with.
In meeting these it is desirable that
they should be approached calmly, without prejudice, hate,
or sectional pride, remembering that the greatest good
to the greatest number is the object to be attained.
   This requires security of person, property,
and free religious and political opinion
in every part of the country,
without regard to local prejudice.

He expressed concern about the great debt that had been contracted during the Civil War and “the ten States in poverty from the effects of the war.” He knew what the war had cost. He declared that the government would pay off every dollar with gold “unless otherwise expressly stipulated in the contract.” He aimed to restore civil law in every part of the nation, and he would protect all law-abiding citizens. He would “respect the rights of all nations, demanding equal respect for our own.” He would work for the civilization and ultimate citizenship of the Indians, “the original occupants of this land.” The 14th Amendment was not applied to Indians on reservations who were not citizens because as sovereign nations they were not part of the United States. He concluded his address,

   The question of suffrage is one which is likely to agitate
the public so long as a portion of the citizens of the nation
are excluded from its privileges in any State.
It seems to me very desirable that
this question should be settled now,
and I entertain the hope and express the desire
that it may be by the ratification
of the fifteenth article of amendment to the Constitution.
   In conclusion I ask patient forbearance
one toward another throughout the land,
and a determined effort on the part of every citizen
to do his share toward cementing a happy union;
and I ask the prayers of the nation to Almighty God
in behalf of this consummation.1

      Grant wanted to skip the inaugural ball and arrived at 10:30 p.m. About 6,000 guests paid $10 each to get into the crowded room in the unfinished wing of the Treasury Department. Unchecked coats and hats got lost during a blizzard.
      When Speaker Schuyler Colfax became Vice President on March 4, the House of Representatives elected Republican James G. Blaine of Maine as Speaker.
      General Rawlins was suffering from tuberculosis, and Grant suggested giving his close friend command of the Arizona Department; but Rawlins asked to be Secretary of War. Grant had relied on him during the Civil War and wanted his advice. Rawlins was so ill that he spent most of his last six months as the Secretary in bed. Young Orville Babcock was also a friend of Grant and functioned as his private secretary and usually decided who got to see the President.
      The New York mogul Alexander T. Stewart, whose fortune was estimated at $40 million, bought Grant’s I Street house for $65,000, which was more than twice its worth, and then he donated it to William Tecumseh Sherman whom Grant appointed General of the Army. Grant then made the wealthy Stewart Treasury Secretary. A 1789 law had excluded anyone involved in trade from being Treasury Secretary, and Stewart’s wholesale and real estate firms paid millions in tariffs. Grant asked Congress to repeal the law, but Senator Charles Sumner protested. Stewart suggested putting his fortune in a blind trust with proceeds going to a charity, but the Senate refused to confirm him.
      Grant’s main patron, Elihu Washburne, had medical problems, and the President let him be Secretary of State for five days before giving him the position he wanted as Minister to France. Grant persuaded Hamilton Fish of New York, who knew four languages, to become Secretary of State. He and Grant had worked together as trustees of the Peabody Education Fund that helped educate blacks and whites in the South. Congressman George S. Boutwell of Massachusetts became the Treasury Secretary.
      Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar had been a respected justice on the Massachusetts Supreme Court, and he was an esteemed member of the Saturday Club that included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and the poets Longfellow and James Russell Lowell. Grant made Hoar the Attorney General. The President let his wealthy, card-playing friend Adolph E. Borie be Navy Secretary; but he resigned after three months and was replaced by the capable George M. Robeson who was New Jersey’s Attorney General. The former Ohio Governor Jacob D. Cox was a Republican, but he opposed blacks voting and favored racial segregation. Grant made him Interior Secretary because he was an experienced administrator. A competent choice for Postmaster General was John A. J. Creswell who supervised 60,000 employees, hired many blacks, and made the mail service more efficient, adding the penny postal card.
      On March 5 the US Senate confirmed most of Grant’s cabinet nominees, and on March 11 they approved Fish at State, Boutwell as Treasurer, Rawlins at War, and Washburne as Minister to France. The Senate also confirmed the Confederate General James Longstreet as customs surveyor for the New Orleans port.
      Grant regretted his General Orders No. 11 in December 1862 that expelled all Jews living in Paducah, Kentucky, and he made up for it by appointing many Jews during his administration including Edward S. Salomon as Governor of the Washington Territory. When he learned that Salomon was involved in scandals in 1872, he allowed him to resign. Grant told his Jewish advisor Simon Wolf that respect for human rights was the first duty of a national leader and that he wanted to lift blacks and Jews to “equality with the most enlightened.” In December he appointed the Sephardic lawyer Benjamin Franklin Peixotto the US consul general in Romania, and he served there for five years without a salary helping Jews and others.
      Because the Georgia legislature had expelled the blacks in September 1868, on 5 March 1869 the US Congress rescinded Georgia’s readmission by barring its representatives and senators, and in December they reimposed military rule in Georgia.
      The national debt had increased to $2.8 billion mostly in bonds bearing 6% interest. Also $356 million in unredeemable greenbacks were circulating driving out gold coins while $160 million in fractional paper currency was replacing silver coins in circulation. The US Congress passed the Act to Strengthen the Public Credit pledging the US Government to pay bondholders in gold or its equivalent and to redeem paper money as soon as it was practical. Grant signed the bill on March 18, and gold fell to $130 an ounce, a new low since specie payment was suspended in 1862. The national debt would decrease by $50 million in the first six months of the Grant administration.
      The 15th Amendment would guarantee that the voting could not be denied based on race or color, but it did not mention sex. On March 15 George Julian of Indiana introduced in the House of Representatives a similar amendment for women, but they ignored that. On that day Grant signed the bill requiring Virginia, Mississippi, and Texas to ratify the 15th Amendment before they could be readmitted to the Union.
      On April 12 the Supreme Court decided 5-3 in Texas v. White that Texas was still a state after joining the Confederacy since its secession from the United States was unlawful and because the US Congress has the authority to restore a lawful government. Chief Justice Chase observed that Congress had recognized a reconstructed government as provisional. He argued that when Texas joined the United States, it “entered into an indissoluble relation.”
      The black Ebenezer Bassett was well educated in Connecticut and helped Frederick Douglass recruit black soldiers during the war, and on April 16 Grant named Bassett the Minister to Haiti.
      Col. Benjamin Grierson had led black soldiers in the 10th US Cavalry at Fort Leavenworth, and they suffered from discrimination. In August 1868 he got permission to move them to Fort Riley. He was also criticized for his humanitarian policies toward Indians who called them the “Buffalo soldiers.” Grierson served as commander at Fort Sill in the Indian Territory 1869-72 implementing Grant’s peace policy. He would also command the Departments of Texas and Arizona before retiring in 1890.
      Grant wanted the Tenure of Office Act repealed so that he would be free to replace cabinet officers. The House of Representatives quickly repealed it, and the US Senate agreed to amend the Act to restore the President’s power over cabinet officers. On April 12 the former Navy Secretary Gideon Welles wrote in his diary, “Corruption is not confined to one party. It is the disgrace and wickedness of the times.”2 Rep. James Garfield criticized Grant’s cabinet selections,

He has done more than any other president
to degrade the character of Cabinet officers
by choosing them on the model of the military staff,
because of their pleasant personal relations with him
and not because of their national reputation
or the country’s needs.3

      Senator Sumner in April persuaded Grant to appoint the historian John Lothrop Motley as Minister to England, and he sent along Adam Badeau to be his assistant secretary in London. Badeau had been working at the White House on a biography of Grant, and he came back in October. Sumner also got the US Senate to reject the Johnson-Clarendon Convention that Reverdy Johnson had negotiated with the British Foreign Minister Clarendon in 1868. Sumner demanded that England pay the US $2,125 million for war damages while they were aiding the Confederacy during the Civil War. Yet Fish calculated the British damage to American ships at only $48 million.
      On April 17 the Wyoming Territory was organized with land from the Dakota, Idaho, and Utah territories with John Campbell as the first governor who on December 10 signed a law giving women the vote.
      On May 10 the Union Pacific Railroad from the West joined the Central Pacific from the East, and its president Leland Stanford pounded in the last spike at Promontory Summit, Utah. Many Chinese and Irish workers were laid off. Coast-to-coast railway service began on July 24 reducing the journey from New York to San Francisco from several months to eight days. The Transcontinental Railroad had been initiated in 1862, the year of the Homestead Act that allowed settlers to claim 160 acres of public land. By working it for five years they could own it for a small fee. In the decade 1862-72 the United States granted 131,230,358 acres for railroads west of the Mississippi River, and states added 44,224,175 acres of land grants. Many farmers preferred to buy land near the railroads. Mechanical tools were improving farming. In 1868 Henry George had published “What the Railroad Will Bring Us” in the Overland Monthly, warning that wealth would flow from the workers to the rich “captains of industry.”
      On May 19 President Grant proclaimed that US Government workers were going on the 8-hour day without any loss in pay. On June 30 the US Department of Education was changed to be the Bureau of Education in the Interior Department, and Grant prevented the Congress from greatly reducing its budget that aided freed persons.
      On May 24 Major John Wesley Powell led an expedition of ten men from Green River, Wyoming to explore the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon completing the journey in Utah on August 30.
      Frederick Douglass spoke to the American Anti-Slavery Society in May on his “let alone” philosophy. He observed that slavery “did not die honestly” in the United States because it was done by necessity and by force in a devastating war, not in an enlightened and ethical way. Frederick Douglas became the editor of the New National Era in September 1870, and in December he bought it and its printing plant for $8,000.
      On June 15 band leader Patrick Gilmore organized at the new Coliseum in Boston a chorus of over 10,000 singers and an orchestra of 1,000 who performed “Musical Demonstrations” to celebrate the “National Peace Jubilee.”
      The businessmen Joseph Fabens and William Cazneau urged Secretary of State Fish to consider annexing Santo Domingo. Grant became interested when he learned it could provide a coaling station for the US Navy at Samaná Bay. In July he sent Orville Babcock to the Dominican Republic, and he began negotiating a treaty with them. Buenaventura Báez had been President off and on for 20 years, and he hoped that the US would stabilize his country.
      In Cuba rebels were fighting against Spanish control, and some American filibustering expeditions were aiding them. Grant sent General Daniel Sickles as Minister to Spain to negotiate; but Spain’s ruling junta could not decide on the sale, and violence in Cuba erupted again. On July 14 Grant issued an executive order declaring US neutrality and prohibiting the filibustering by Americans, and Attorney General Hoar and Treasury Secretary Boutwell supervised the enforcement. Admiral Porter sent the ironclad frigates Lancaster and Sabine to Cuban waters. As Grant was about to issue a proclamation, Fish showed him the letter from Sickles that had just arrived in which Spain asked the US to mediate the Cuban conflict. Dying War Secretary Rawlins and others urged recognizing the belligerents fighting in Cuba. On August 31 Grant and Fish agreed to mediate if Cuba became independent, paid Spain for public property, and protected Spaniards if slavery was abolished, and if there was an armistice during the negotiations. Twelve days later Spain proposed that they would grant amnesty if the Cubans laid down their weapons and held a vote on independence. Spain would grant independence if a majority voted for that. Sickles again asked the Spaniards to accept American mediation in late September. When they declined, the United States withdrew the offer.
      In four years the Freedmen’s Bureau had provided 21 million rations with about 5 million going to whites and 15 million to blacks. The Bureau had helped about 30,000 ex-slaves move. In the South 9,503 teachers were educating former slaves. The death rate of freedmen had been reduced from 38% in 1865 to 2% in 1869. On August 31 Commissioner Howard reported that the US Government had spent $13,579,817 for refugees and freedmen. When the Freedmen’s Bureau stopped its educational work in 1870, they had 247,333 students in 4,329 schools.
      On September 1 about 500 temperance delegates met in Chicago to form the National Prohibition Reform Party, becoming the first party to accept women as members. Temperance advocate Thomas B. Welch created a substitute for wine by producing pasteurized grape juice.
      After a strike by the Workingmen’s Benevolent Association (WBA) of Schuylkill County from May 5 to June 16, a fire at the Avondale coal mine on September 6 killed 108 miners and two rescuers. Thousands of miners were persuaded to join the WBA. In a seven-year period in that county 565 miners were killed including 112 dead and 339 seriously injured in 1871.
      After Secretary of War Rawlins died of tuberculosis on September 6, Grant appointed the former lawyer, general, and Iowa Collector of Revenue (1865-69) William Belknap.
      The US Treasury had about $80 million in gold and in the spring was selling $2.5 million per month to buy back greenbacks (paper money). Wall Street financiers Jay Gould and Jim Fisk had gained control of the Erie Railway, and they developed a scheme to corner the gold market by using Abel R. Corbin, who had married Grant’s sister Jennie. Gould and Corbin persuaded Grant to make General Daniel Butterfield the Assistant Treasurer. Gould bribed Butterfield with a $10,000 loan, and they got Grant to restrict the Treasury’s sale of gold. Gould on September 2 bought $1.5 million in gold for Corbin and the same amount for Butterfield. Grant was convinced that high gold prices were helping crop exports, but he became suspicious and told Jennie to warn Corbin not to deal with Gould and Fisk. On September 12 the President wrote to Treasurer Boutwell about the bulls and bears of Wall Street. Horace Porter was the President’s personal secretary, and the next day he informed Grant that Gould had tried to buy his $500,000 stake in the gold market. On the 17th Corbin sent to Grant by personal messenger a letter warning that he should curb gold sales to avoid a calamity. This alarmed Grant, and he had his wife Julia write to Jenny to advise her against buying gold.
      By September 21 Gould and Fisk owned more than $50 million in gold. As they bought more, the price went up to $144.50 an ounce. Treasury Secretary Boutwell ordered bank inspectors to shut down the cash flow of New York’s Tenth National Bank because they were certifying checks far beyond the assets of Gould and Fisk. Grant agreed the price of gold was unnatural, and he told Boutwell to sell gold to prevent a panic. By September 24 Gould and Fisk had acquired more than $100 million in gold calls, and that day became known as “Black Friday.” Fisk had Albert Speyers bid gold up to $160. The price of gold went over that; but when the Treasury sold gold for $4 million and bought bonds, the gold price fell to $132 in 15 minutes. This was the first time that the United States Government intervened massively to stabilize the marketplace. Grant asked Butterfield to resign. When Jay Gould’s ally Lockwood & Co. collapsed into receivership, Vanderbilt bought its railroad shares. Gould’s attempt to corner gold ruined his reputation.
      In the next week stock prices on Wall Street went down 20%. Only 4 million shares would be traded in the first nine months of 1870, and 14 stock exchange brokers became bankrupt. Farmers suffered as the prices of wheat, corn, and other grains fell drastically. The agricultural decline would last several years. A Congressional committee led by James Garfield investigated the scandal. Grant persuaded Garfield not to subpoena his wife Julia or his sister Jennie, and the committee exonerated Grant and his family except for Jennie’s husband Corbin. In the report Garfield wrote,

   But however strongly we may condemn the conspirators
themselves, we cannot lose sight of those causes which
lie behind the actors and spring from our financial condition.
The conspiracy and its baneful consequences must be
set down as one of the items in the great bill of costs
which the nation is paying
for the support of its present financial machinery.
For all purposes of internal trade, gold is not money,
but an article of merchandise; but for all purposes
of foreign commerce it is our only currency.
   So long as we have two standards of value
recognized by law, which may be made to vary
in respect to each other by artificial means,
so long will speculation in the price of gold
offer temptations too great to be resisted,
and so long may capital continue to be diverted
from enterprises which add to the national wealth,
and be used in this reckless gambling
which ruins the great majority of those who engage in it,
and endangers the business of the whole country.4

      Babcock and Secretary of State Fish drafted a treaty on annexing Santo Domingo for the cabinet to consider on October 19, and Babcock went back to Santo Domingo in November.
      In the October 1869 North American Review Henry Adams published “Civil Service Reform” in which he criticized Grant for shrinking from the attempt to reform the civil service. Adams hoped the people would bring about an end to the corruption of political patronage. He wrote “The New York Gold Conspiracy” and decided to publish it in the British Westminster Review because the scandal was already widely covered in the United States. He warned,

For the first time since the creation
of these enormous corporate bodies,
one of them has shown its power for mischief,
and has proved itself able to override and trample on law,
custom, decency, and every restraint known to society,
without scruple, and as yet without check.
The belief is common in America that the day is at hand
when corporations far greater than the Erie—
swaying power such as has never in the world’s history
been trusted in the hands of mere private citizens
controlled by single men like Vanderbilt or by combinations
of men like Fisk, Gould, and Lane (their lawyer),
after having created a system of quiet
but irresistible corruption—
will ultimately succeed in directing government itself.
Under the American form of society, there is now
no authority capable of effective resistance.5

      On October 29 the black Abram Colby, who had been elected to the US Congress from Georgia in 1866, was severely beaten by the Ku Klux Klan at home after he had refused to accept bribes of $5,000 to become a Democrat or $2,500 to resign. Alfred Richardson, another black legislator in Georgia, was warned by a friend that he was going to be killed because he was making too much money. That night twenty men broke into his house and shot him three times while he shot one of them. Richardson survived that attack and another one.
      On November 30 Mississippi and Texas voted for new constitutions that guaranteed rights for blacks so that they could rejoin the Union.
      Grant had asked General Alfred Terry, who commanded the district of Alabama, Georgia, and Florida to investigate conditions, and his report was submitted to the US Congress in December. Terry advised the Georgia governor to convene the originally elected legislature that had several black members.
      Grant in his first annual message on December 6 wrote about the interest in Cuba but stated,

The contest has at no time assumed the conditions
which amount to a war in the sense of international law,
or which would show the existence of
a de facto political organization of the insurgents
sufficient to justify a recognition of belligerency.
The principle is maintained, however, that this nation is
its own judge when to accord the rights of belligerency,
either to a people struggling to free themselves
from a government they believe to be oppressive
or to independent nations at war with each other….
It is hoped that the good offices of the United States
may yet prove advantageous
for the settlement of this unhappy strife.
Meanwhile a number of illegal expeditions against Cuba
have been broken up.6

He wrote about the Indians and said that the Society of Friends had been satisfactory in helping them. He noted that railroads were bringing more settlements in contact with native tribes. He warned of the danger that a race could become extinct and then wrote,

I see no substitute for such a system,
except in placing all the Indians on large reservations,
as rapidly as it can be done,
and giving them absolute protection there.
As soon as they are fitted for it they should be induced
to take their lands in severalty and to set up
Territorial governments for their own protection.7

He also suggested a survey of the Darien Isthmus in Panama where a canal could connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. He hoped that European nations would give up their colonies in the western hemisphere and let those people join the “family of nations.” Grant proudly announced that freedmen were making progress in jobs and learning. He was pleased that the federal budget was providing a surplus to reduce the debt, and he proposed a moderate tariff to protect business and a 3% income tax for three years.
      On December 11 Grant met with a mostly black delegation from the National Labor Convention and promised to advance the interests of all citizens regardless of color, but he declined to back the redistribution of land to black workers.
      The US Congress had voted on April 10 to increase the US Supreme Court from seven back up to nine justices, and the Judiciary Act became effective in December. On April 14 Grant nominated Attorney General Hoar for the Supreme Court; but the Senators resented his opposition to the spoils system and eventually rejected his nomination. Grant chose former War Secretary Edwin Stanton for the Court on December 19, his 55th birthday. The Senate confirmed him 46-11, but he died on the 24th. The 75-year-old Justice Robert Grier was quite ill and was urged to retire which he did in January 1870. Grant appointed the lawyers Joseph P. Bradley of New Jersey and William Strong, who had been on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for 11 years, and they were confirmed, giving the US Supreme Court nine justices, all from northern states except for Stephen Field from California.
      On December 9 in Philadelphia the garment cutter Uriah Stephens founded the secret society called the Noble Order of the Knights of Labor for wage-earners while banning lawyers, bankers, stockbrokers, and gamblers.
      In December the Colored Caulkers Trade Union Society leader Isaac Myers helped blacks, who had been excluded from the National Labor Union, organize the Colored National Labor Union, and they elected him president. In 1872 Frederick Douglass succeeded him. In December 1869 in the first convention of the Colored National Labor Union at Washington 214 delegates petitioned the US Congress asking that public land in the South become farms. Their platform included enlightened resolves including this one:

Resolved, that education is one of the strongest safeguards
of the Republican Party, the bulwark of American citizens,
and a defense against the invasion of the rights of man;
its liberal distributions to all,
without regard to race, creed, or sex,
is necessary for the well-being and advancement of society,
and that all should enjoy its blessing alike
in each of the states and territories of the United States;
that educated labor is more productive,
is worth and commands higher rates of wages,
is less dependent upon capital;
therefore, it is essentially necessary to the rapid
and permanent development of the agricultural,
manufacturing, and mechanical growth and interests
of the nation that there shall be a liberal free-school system
enacted by the legislatures of the several states
for the benefit of all the inhabitants thereof.8

Aaron Powell, the editor of the National Anti-Slavery Standard persuaded the convention to send a delegation to ask President Grant for land for southern freed-people. Powell published a petition to the US Congress advocated by Sojourner Truth which asked for “public land in the West.”

US Reconstruction & Grant in 1870

      On 2 January 1870 President Grant walked over to Senator Sumner’s house and talked to him and two reporters about annexing Santa Domingo. Sumner wanted Grant to give James Ashley a new position after having fired him as Governor of the Montana Territory. Grant did not want to do that and did not commit himself. Sumner then supported the annexation until he realized that Grant was not going to appoint Ashley.
      Grant submitted the treaty and the Samaná Bay lease to the US Senate on January 10, but on March 15 2. Grant in May sent Adam Badeau back to London as consul general. On the 31st Grant sent a message to the Senate Sumner’s Foreign Relations Committee voted it down 5 to suggesting that Santa Domingo’s 120,000 inhabitants could provide a free labor market and increase to 10 million. Babcock and Fabens plotted to send money and arms to President Báez. Senator Orris Ferry of Connecticut in June complained that Báez had mistreated and imprisoned the businessman Davis Hatch. An investigation revealed that Grant’s friend Rufus Ingalls had land by Samaná Bay.
      On January 12 Grant appointed to the commission on Santo Domingo the Senator Benjamin Wade, Cornell University President Andrew D. White, and Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe with Frederick Douglass as their secretary. They were accompanied by a geologist, a botanist, and a New York Times photographer. Grant believed that the coffee from its highlands and sugar from the lowlands could supply many breakfasts in the United States.
      Senator Sumner had tried to stop the confirmation of Grant’s brother-in-law Corbin as the minister to Denmark, and in February the President got the senators Oliver Morton of Indiana, Roscoe Conkling of New York, and Zachariah Chandler of Michigan to persuade the Republican caucus to remove Sumner as Foreign Relations Committee chairman which the Senate approved 33-9 with 25 abstaining. The commission returned from Santo Domingo on March 23. The next day for three hours Sumner vehemently criticized Grant and a proposed resolution for a commission to consider annexation in which he said,

I protest against this resolution
as another stage in a drama of blood.
I protest against it in the name of justice
outraged by violence, in the name of humanity insulted,
in the name of the weak trodden down,
in the name of peace imperiled,
and in the name of the African race,
whose first effort at independence is rudely assailed.9

The commission’s report on April 5 supported Grant’s positive view of the Santo Domingo opportunities. Yet many Americans did not want to annex a territory with such differences in race, religion, and language. The treaty needed a two-thirds vote, and on June 30 the Senate voted 28 to 28. The next day Grant fired Motley to get back at Sumner. Motley refused to resign and was eventually replaced by General Schenck in London.
      On January 27 Grant signed the bill readmitting Virginia that required every officer to take an oath and prohibited the state from denying any citizen equal rights or privileges such as schooling. Then Congress passed similar bills for Mississippi and Texas, which were readmitted on March 30.
      By February 18 the 15th Amendment had been ratified by 30 states, and Secretary of State Hamilton Fish certified it on March 30. President Grant proclaimed that voting rights amendment and called it the “greatest civil change” in US history. He celebrated it as the nation’s most important event and as “the realization of the Declaration of Independence.” The Chinese were excluded because they were not eligible to be citizens. Because the word “sex” was not mentioned, every state still denied women suffrage. Only the Utah and Wyoming Territories allowed women to vote. Mormons in Utah wanted to give more power to men with multiple wives in order to neutralize the unmarried male miners. In Wyoming the men outnumbered the women six to one, and they wanted to attract more women to their territory.
      Mississippi’s new legislature in January had elected as US Senators Adelbert Ames and the black AME minister Hiram Revels. On February 25 Senator Sumner persuaded 48 Republicans to seat the first black US Senator over the opposition of 8 Democrats. Only 16 blacks would serve in the US Congress during Reconstruction. About 600 would be elected as southern legislators in the next seven years, though they would never have more than 20% of a state’s political offices. African Americans were 13% of the US population and 36% in the South. Georgia began using poll taxes and difficult registration requirements to keep many blacks from voting, and other states would adopt these methods. Some Republicans including Grant were concerned that counting all the blacks in the South instead of the previous three-fifths of the slaves would give the white-dominated South 40 more seats in Congress and as many more electoral votes.
      In February the Colored National Labor Union announced the following purposes:

1. To encourage and superintend the organization of labor.
2. To bring about legislation which would secure equality
before the law for all and enforce the contracts of labor.
3. To secure funds from bankers and capitalists
for aid in establishing cooperative associations.
4. To overcome the opposition of white mechanics
who excluded workers from their unions and shops.
5. To organize state labor conventions.
6. To organize, where there were seven or more
mechanics, artisans and laborers of any particular branch
of industry, separate labor associations
and to advertise their labor in the daily papers.
7. To encourage independent effort in creating capital,
buying tools, building houses, forging iron, making brick.
8. To own a homestead.
The address was signed by Isaac Myers, President,
and G. T. Downing, Vice-President.10

      On April 19 the American Anti-Slavery Society met for the last time. Frederick Douglas said he would continue working for “the interests of suffering humanity everywhere.” During celebrations on May 19 Douglas spoke about getting equality in the jury box and the halls of justice, and he emphasized the importance of educating children in schools.
      President Grant in January had begun getting letters from Republicans in the South complaining about KKK violence with impunity. On January 3 the former Congressman Nelson Tift from Albany, Georgia wrote that Gov. Bullock had usurped legislative authority and became despotic, and he asked for Grant’s protection. On January 20 Georgia’s Treasurer Nedom Angier wrote and asked the President to “curb any reckless disregard for the law” that foments mischief. Others wrote of Ku Klux Klan murders in South Carolina, Louisiana, and Alabama. Armed bands were robbing and killing in northeast Texas. Georgia unseated its colored legislators. Grant had asked the US Congress to act in his message in December 1869. They passed a law imposing military rule on Georgia until they obeyed federal laws and ratified the 15th Amendment.
      On May 2 G. T. F. Boulding of Tuscaloosa, Alabama wrote to Grant that blacks were being “hunted and shot down.” Emanuel Fortune of Jackson County, Florida wrote that the Klan was killing leading Republicans. The most complaints came from South Carolina. Javan Bryant wrote from Spartanburg County that all their hopes depended on Grant because the KKK was the worst form of rebellion.
      On May 31 the US Congress approved the first of four Enforcement Acts based on the 14th and 15th amendments to quell the political violence in the South by making it a federal offense to violate the civil rights of any person. The law authorized the President to suspend habeas corpus in counties were violence was out of control. They outlawed conspiracies to deprive citizens of their rights. Grant in April signed what became known as the “Ku Klux Klan Act.” Democrats such as Fernando Wood of New York, Francis Blair of Missouri, and James Beck of Kentucky protested. Robert Flourney edited the Equal Rights newspaper in Mississippi and wrote twice in early May to Grant that Klansmen and Democrats did not believe Grant would enforce it, and the violence increased.
      The New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley had led a public meeting at Cooper Union in January that adopted resolutions which supported Cuban independence. Senator John Sherman of Ohio, the famous general’s brother, introduced a joint resolution in February to recognize the war between Spain and its colony Cuba and to assert that the US would “observe strict neutrality.” Secretary of State Fish advised the Finance Committee chairman Sherman that if this resolution passed, they would have to increase funds for the Army and Navy and borrow money. Public opinion and Bennett’s New York Herald persuaded the Congress to consider a resolution to recognize the Cuban rebellion, but on June 13 Grant sent a message to Congress that the US should not get involved in the insurgency. He criticized the exile committee in New York that was distributing Cuban bonds. Congressman Benjamin Butler supported Grant, and after two days of debate the House defeated the resolution.
      On June 15 Grant fired Attorney General Hoar, and the next day he appointed Amos Akerman of Georgia to replace him. Akerman was educated at Dartmouth College but went south to teach. He studied law and passed the bar in Georgia in 1850. During the Civil War he joined the Confederate Army and became a colonel, but after the war Akerman gave up the “lost cause” to be a Republican. As the federal district attorney in Georgia he had used the Civil Rights Act to prosecute violators of blacks’ rights. On June 22 the Congress established the Department of Justice as the three recent amendments to the US Constitution were stimulating much litigation. Akerman used the Freedman’s Savings Bank for the offices of the new Justice Department. Congress created the Solicitor General to argue for the US Government at the US Supreme Court, and Grant appointed Benjamin Bristow who in Kentucky had made the civil rights of 225,000 colored people his priority.
      On July 1 Grant appointed Thomas Murphy to be the New York customs collector. On July 11 Senator Reuben Fenton spoke against Murphy for three hours, and the other New York Senator Conkling decided to help Grant by supporting Murphy. Conkling revealed that Fenton when young had absconded with $12,000 and claimed that he was robbed, and Fenton had to back down. The senators confirmed Murphy 48-3. As Collector he spent most of his time on politics and patronage while his subordinates handled operations. His predecessor Moses Grinnell had removed 510 Democrats, and then Murphy replaced 338 Fentonites with Republican operatives obligated to Conklin. Murphy resigned after the elections in November 1871. Grant then nominated Conkling’s man Chester Arthur who got an annual salary of $50,000.
      White terrorists such as the Ku Klux Klan attacked Republicans during the 1870 elections, causing their defeats in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.
      William Luke was from Ontario, Canada; but he taught black children at a school in Calhoun County, Alabama, and he helped black men get guns for self-defense. On July 11 a fight between a white boy and a black man escalated into a race riot. Luke admitted to the sheriff that he had sold guns to black men and was involved in the fracas as a peacemaker. Luke was held responsible for arming the Negroes, and prisoners were detained. That night Klansmen hanged three black men and also put to death William Luke.
      The US Congress passed the Naturalization Act that extended the process to those of African descent, and Grant signed it on July 14. Yet other ethnic groups could still face discrimination and exclusion, notably the Chinese in California. The US Congress readmitted Georgia on July 15.
      A district attorney in Mississippi complained that five of his best witnesses had been murdered, and South Carolina’s Governor Robert K. Scott in October warned Grant that the current rancor and violence had never been surpassed. Wendell Phillips commented that the war was still ongoing in the South, but he predicted, “Let General Grant lay his hand on the leaders in the South, and you will never hear of the Ku-Klux again.”11 Although the US Congress had passed the first Enforcement Act in May prior to the 1870 elections, at first Grant used the army to enforce it only in Kentucky.
      In October three weeks before the election Grant had Attorney General Akerman order the US Marshal in New York to hire 5,000 special deputies and make available 1,200 soldiers and 250 marines to supervise the voting. A few people were arrested, and Republicans in New York did a little better against the Democrats.
      Interior Secretary Jacob Cox advocated competitive exams for civil service rather than patronage and making appointees contribute to the party. After the Board of Indian Commissioners diminished his functions, he resigned on October 31. The next day Grant appointed Columbus Delano to replace Cox.
      The astronomer and meteorologist Cleveland Abbe started producing daily weather bulletins, and the US Congress would establish the Weather Bureau in 1870.
      In the 1870 elections the Democrats won again in New York, Indiana, Missouri, West Virginia, and Tennessee, shrinking the Republican majority in Congress, and Democrats regained power in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. In South Carolina observers reported hundreds of outrages, and Klan terrorism helped Democrats in North Carolina regain control of the state and elect five of the seven congressmen. Conservative Democrats also had control of the border states and Virginia.
      All former Confederate states had been readmitted into Congress when Grant sent his Second Annual Message to the 41st Congress on December 5. He suggested replacing the corrupt system of patronage for making appointments with civil service reform, saying,

The present system does not secure the best men,
and often not even fit men, for public place.
The elevation and purification of the civil service
of the Government will be hailed with approval
by the whole people of the United States.12

      The 1870 Census counted 38,925,598 people in the United States, and in the previous decade an estimated 2.3 million immigrants arrived. The US territories had about 120,00 people. The US had 4,880,009 African-Americans, 357,981 native Americans, 63,199 Chinese, and 55 Japanese. The most populated states were New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, and Massachusetts. New York City had 942,292 persons including 419,094 immigrants; but the poorest 55% of the people there lived in slums. Most of the United States was Protestant, and 86% of Americans were born in the country; but half of those in New York City were Catholic, and 44% were immigrants with 21% Irish and 16% German. The death rate was the highest of any city in western civilization, and the infant death rate in tenements was double that in private homes. The next largest cities were Philadelphia, Brooklyn, St. Louis, Chicago, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, New Orleans, and San Francisco. The Census also estimated that more than 700,000 children between the ages of 10 and 15 were working for wages.

US Reconstruction & Grant in 1871

      During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 President Grant adhered strictly to neutrality. In January 1871 he suspended all US Government sales of weapons to prevent them from going to France or Prussia.
      On January 9 at their convention in Washington the National Colored Labor Union elected Frederick Douglass as their president for the year. He questioned if the Ku Klux Klan should be allowed to rule the South, saying,

We ask Congress, in the name of a continually
outraged people to give us some law wherewith
we can protect ourselves against the malignity
of semi-civilized law-makers and juries
in most of the States of the Union.13

On January 19 the Colored National Labor Union petitioned the US Congress for national education and technical development.
      On February 25 Grant appointed the Smithsonian curator Spencer Baird to head the new United States Fish Commission in order to restock rivers with salmon and to prevent the depletion of fish in coastal waters.
      On March 3, the last day of its session, the US Congress appropriated funds to establish a commission to investigate rules and regulations for government appointments, and they also passed the Indian Appropriation Act. President Grant appointed the Civil Service Commission and put the New York reformer George W. Curtis in charge. He had lived in the Brook Farm community and became a journalist. Grant adopted many of the rules they advised in their 50-page report which he would pass on to the Congress in December. James Garfield noted that the party bosses who supported Grant were upset by the report.
      Queen Victoria and President Grant each in February 1871 had nominated five commissioners to meet in Washington to negotiate several issues between the Britain and the United States. Grant selected Secretary of State Fish, Attorney General Hoar, Senator Williams of Oregon, General Schenck who was US Minister to England, and Supreme Court Justice Samuel Nelson, a Democrat making it bipartisan. The British commissioners included Canada’s Prime Minister Macdonald and an international law professor at Oxford. The treaty with 43 articles they devised was signed on May 8, and the five men for the arbitration tribunal were chosen by Grant, Victoria, King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy, Emperor Pedro II of Brazil, and Swiss Confederation President Karl Schenk. They settled all the issues including the controversial boundary through the Strait of Juan de Fuca near Vancouver Island. They agreed to let Canadians fish in American waters and for Americans to fish near Canada’s coast, and both countries would allow fish and fish oil to be imported from the other without customs duties. The US Senate approved this important treaty 50-12 on May 24; ratifications were exchanged on June 17; and Grant proclaimed it effective on July 4.
      On February 28 Grant signed the Second Enforcement Act to strengthen the supervision of voting rights, and he sent troops to stop the violence in South Carolina. The 15th Amendment did not prevent states from restricting who could vote as many northern states had been doing. California excluded the Chinese. Rhode Island required naturalized citizens to own real estate worth $134 to be able to vote, and in Pennsylvania one had to pay state taxes in order to vote. Massachusetts and Connecticut required literacy for voting.
      North Carolina’s Governor William W. Holden had hired 24 detectives to suppress the Ku Klux Klan in 1869 and 1870, the year the Shoffner Act allowed him to suspend habeas corpus and call out the militia. He declared martial law and called up white militia in western North Carolina to go after the clan in nine counties; but local courts rarely convicted white men for crimes against blacks. In Alamance County about a hundred white men in February 1870 had abducted the freedman Wyatt Outlaw and hanged him in front of the county courthouse. Klansmen also committed atrocities against freedmen in nearby Caswell County. Whites murdered the Republican state senator John W. Stephens who had been a Freedmen’s Bureau agent. Grant, not wanting to appear to be a military despot, did not respond. Holden’s 600 soldiers were overcome by Klan marauders by July. Grant promised him more troops, but Democrats impeached Holden on December 14 and removed him from office on 22 March 1871.
      Florida’s Gov. Harrison Reed was impeached by the state senate in November 1868 and again in February 1872. He asked for Federal troops in October 1870 to counter Ku Klux Klan violence, but none were sent. Reed promoted public education and increased the number of schools from 270 to 444.
      The 42nd Congress changed the tradition of not meeting until December by convening on March 4. Secretary of State Fish persuaded a majority of the Republican Senators to remove Sumner from his position as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. Sumner had been disappointed that Grant did not pick him to be Secretary of State, and he often opposed Grant.
      A Senate select committee on March 10 reported that the Ku Klux Klan was operating as a political organization in North Carolina in support of the conservative Democratic Party. They had committed murders, whipping, intimidation, and other violence by hundreds or thousands of members, and none of them were convicted in the entire state. On March 23 Grant and Attorney General Akerman met with Senator Oliver Morton of Indiana, and Grant told congressmen that in the South life and property was insecure as was the mail and the collection of taxes. The next day Akerman presented to the cabinet meeting a draft for a bill to protect states from domestic violence. On March 25 Negroes in Frankfort, Kentucky sent an “Appeal for Protection of Life and Property” to the US Congress with a list of 116 violent incidents toward Negroes since 1867 including hanging of black citizens by lynch mobs and burning of homes, schools, and churches.
      In Mississippi 640 people were indicted under the Enforcement Acts, but none were convicted. In March 1871 some freedmen were arrested and charged with starting a fire in Meridian. That provoked a race riot, and about 30 blacks were killed in a few days.
      The US Congress passed the Third Enforcement Act which was also known as the “Ku Klux Klan Act,” and President Grant signed it on April 20. The law allowed him to suspend the right of habeas corpus, declare martial law, and send troops. This also enabled Federal courts to punish individuals. Congress and General Sherman, who opposed Reconstruction, had reduced the US troops in the former Confederate states outside of Texas to about 3,000 men. The Congress appointed a joint committee to investigate the Ku Klux Klan. Grant issued a proclamation on May 3 ordering troops to support Federal officials in the South, and on the 13th he wrote to War Secretary Belknap that they were to “arrest and break up bands of disguised night marauders.”14
      Attorney General Akerman left Washington on September 12 to go to South Carolina, and Grant in October sent the 7th Cavalry to that state. On October 12 he announced that conspiracies in nine of South Carolina’s counties had five days to disperse and go home. On the 17th he suspended habeas corpus in those counties so that Akerman could keep in jail the terrorists threatening his witnesses. He had 2,000 prisoners by late November, and he used Federal grand juries to indict 3,384 KKK that resulted in 1,143 convictions. Those who confessed and named the leaders were not punished. About 600 persons were convicted, and most received fines or short sentences in jail; 65 were sent to the federal penitentiary in Albany, New York for up to five years. The Klan tore up railways, and about 2,000 Klansmen fled from South Carolina. Others called “pukers” confessed and gave evidence against about 200 violent Klan leaders.
      After Attorney General Akerman refused to approve suspicious land grants in the West to the companies of Jay Gould and the railroad magnate Collis P. Huntington, the Interior Secretary Delano and Secretary of State Fish got Grant to dismiss Akerman on December 12. Other Republicans such as Senators Lyman Trumbull of Illinois and Carl Schurz of Missouri were concerned about the Federal government having too much power. They turned against Grant, and the Congress passed a law granting amnesty to southerners who had been disqualified for offices by the 14th Amendment.
      Diplomatic negotiations continued over the Confederate ship Alabama especially as well as the Florida and the Shenandoah which with help from the English had caused damages to US shipping during the Civil War. Senator Sumner accused the British of an “act of war,” and Grant advised Secretary of State Fish to seek compensation for indirect losses. Fish estimated these at the more reasonable amount of $1 billion. Grant told a reporter that what he really wanted from the British was an apology that they had done wrongs during the Civil War, but this risked war. If the British withdrew from the arbitration, nations during future wars would be reluctant to risk neutrality and so would take sides. Grant gave up this demand, and the Joint High Commission began meeting in Washington on 24 February 1871.
      The US Senate approved the treaty 50-12 on May 24. The case went to the Geneva Court of Arbitration. During the arbitration in December the Americans asked the British to pay for the war costs amounting to $2 billion after Gettysburg in July 1863 when the Confederacy ended offensive campaigns except at sea. On 14 September 1872 the Geneva arbitration commission decided that Britain would pay the United States $15.5 million for damages done by the Alabama and other ships. Britain admitted that they should not have supplied warships to the Confederacy, and they made the payment on 13 September 1873. This was the first major success of international arbitration and an advance for international law. After having come into conflict in three major wars that began in 1775, 1812, and 1861, the United States and the British became friends and allies.
      After years in the US Congress the New York Senator Conkling in 1870 was gaining power. Thurlow Weed was ageing, and Boss Tweed’s corrupt career declined in 1871. In September at New York’s Republican state convention Conkling’s political machine supported Grant and overcame the Fentonites. In the fall Greeley’s New York Tribune criticized Murphy for corruption. New York’s US Marshal Robert Murray wrote in a letter to the Tribune that Murphy had cried like a baby and offered Murray $10,000 to cancel the charges. Murray said no and wrote that Murphy was bribing detectives. Grant was favoring civil service reform. In the investigation of Murphy’s Custom House record witnesses estimated that he had taken in between $60,000 and $200,000 for the year, and Democrats claimed it was $172,000. Murphy admitted he may have received as much as $50,000 above his salary of $6,500. An old law from 1789 allowed the collector, naval officer, and surveyor to keep up to a quarter of the fines and forfeitures. Grant accepted Murphy’s resignation in November, but the President agreed to Murphy’s suggestion that Arthur replace him.
      On October 12 President Grant proclaimed that the Ku Klux Klan in the Piedmont area of South Carolina had five days to surrender weapons and disguises, or habeas corpus would be suspended. On the 17th Grant because of unlawful combinations and conspiracies suspended the writ of habeas corpus in the counties of Spartanburg, York, Marion, Chester, Laurens, Newberry, Fairfield, Lancaster, and Chesterfield.
      The Democratic legislature of Georgia threatened to impeach the Republican Gov. Rufus Bullock, and he resigned on October 30. The Democrat James Milton Smith ran unopposed, became Georgia’s governor on 12 January 1872, and served for five years.
      Federal officers on October 2 arrested 70-year-old Brigham Young in Salt Lake City for “lewd and lascivious cohabitation” with 16 wives. Other Mormon leaders had also been accused of polygamy.
      Also in 1871 on October 8 and 9 two fires with the second starting in Mrs. O’Leary’s barn destroyed a large portion of Chicago, killing about 300 people, leaving 90,000 homeless, and causing $200 million in damage. Sparks carried the fire to more than a million acres in Michigan and Wisconsin, and it killed about 1,100 people in the lumber town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin.
      On October 12 Frederick Douglass published “The Labor Question” in the New National Era in which he noted that laws govern how the results of labor are distributed unequally.

The profound truth conveyed in the apparently
paradoxical utterance of Jesus, when he said,
“That unto every one which hath shall be given;
and from him that hath not,
even that he hath shall be taken away from him,”
receives the daily and literal illustration
in all the operations of our industrial civilization.
The nonproducers now receive the larger share
of what those who labor produce.15

      White and Latino-Americans resented Chinese workers’ low wages, and on October 24 a mob of about 500 attacked Chinatown in Los Angeles, which then had about 6,000 people and was suffering from bankruptcy. The mob killed 19 of the 172 Chinese in the city.
      The National Rifle Association was started in New York on November 17, and they elected General Ambrose Burnside as president. Justo Rufino Barrios used Remington and Winchester rifles to help him seize power and become a dictator in Guatemala.
      Tennessee leased about 800 convicts, most of whom were black, to the Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad Co.
      Secretary of State Fish on December 5 asked to resign, but Grant did not want him to leave. After Vice President Colfax and 44 US Senators signed a letter urging Fish to stay, on the 20th Fish told Grant that he changed his mind.
      In his Third Annual Message to Congress on December 4 Grant praised the efforts of Brazil to emancipate their slaves, and he criticized slavery in Cuba and Puerto Rico. He asked the Congress to outlaw owning or dealing in slaves in other countries. On December 11 Grant promulgated the rules devised by the new Civil Service Commission that would go into effect in 1872, but the US Congress reduced his request for $100,000 in funding by appropriating only $25,000.

Grant & United States Elections in 1872

      President Grant in January 1872 appointed as US Attorney General the Senator George H. Williams who had been Oregon’s chief justice. Under Akerman 128 Klansmen had been convicted in 1871. Under Williams in 1872 the number convicted increased to 456, and he had even more success against the Ku Klux Klan in 1873.
      On February 17 the US Senate rejected a treaty with the tribes on the Samoan Islands that would have led to building a coaling station at Pago Pago Bay for the US Navy. On February 22 the Congress decided that future Federal elections starting in 1876 would be held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November in even-numbered years.
      On March 1 Grant created the first national park at Yellowstone in the Wyoming Territory by setting aside 2 million acres of wilderness. In 1864 Lincoln had allowed California to protect the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa sequoia trees.
      On April 11 the Civil Service Commission chairman George W. Curtis in a second report advised Grant that political activity should not be a factor in hiring government employees. Yet Grant found that doing favors for Congressmen helped get legislation passed. He relied on the senatorial power-brokers Conkling of New York, Morton of Indiana, Chandler of Michigan, and Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania. Lincoln had removed Cameron, and Rutherford B. Hayes complained about in May 1871.
      In April 1872 the National Convention of Colored Men met in New Orleans and elected Frederick Douglass their president. He found and stated that the interests of the poor whites and the colored people were identical, and he urged educating them together in day and night schools in the South so that they would learn to know each other better and be able to cooperate.
      On May 22 the US Congress passed the Amnesty Act that canceled many penalties imposed by the 14th Amendment and a more restrictive act in 1866. On June 1 Grant removed restrictions against secessionists holding most offices, and he pardoned all but 500 of the top Confederate officers. The former Confederate cavalry commander John S. Mosby wrote to Grant thanking him, and he helped Grant win in Virginia.
      Frederick Douglass on May 2 had published “Mixed Schools” in The New National Era writing,

We want mixed schools not because
our schools are inferior to white schools—not because
colored instructors are inferior to white instructors,
but because we want to do away with a system
that exalts one class and debases another.16

On June 2 the Douglass home in Rochester burned to the ground as his family managed to escape. They moved to Washington DC on July 1. He campaigned for Grant’s re-election and on July 18 published U. S. Grant and the Colored People: His wise, just, practical, and effective friendship thoroughly vindicated by incontestable facts in his record from 1862 to 1872.
      The US Congress allowed the Freedmen’s Bureau to expire on June 10 after they helped reduce the death rate of ex-slaves from 38% to 2% in seven years. The 34 branches of the Freedmen’s Bank continued until cash reserves failed in June 1874 when the US Congress liquidated the $3,299,201 in deposits that had belonged to thousands of blacks.
      Senator Carl Schurz of Missouri became a less radical Republican, and in September 1871 in a speech at Nashville he had called for a Liberal Republican Party. In January 1872 Missouri Liberals proposed a nominating convention at Cincinnati. and on May 3 Schurz presided over the convention. He was not qualified to be the US President because he was born in Germany. The Liberal Republican Party nominated New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley for President with Missouri’s Governor Benjamin Gratz Brown for Vice President. Greeley’s New York Tribune had the largest circulation in America, and he supported vegetarianism, temperance, and socialism. The former Interior Secretary Jacob Cox and a hundred Republicans signed their declaration of principles. They advocated civil service reform, the gold standard, low tariffs, withdrawing federal troops from the South, and states’ rights. Their leaders included Charles Francis Adams, Sr., Senator Trumbull, Chief Justice Chase, Senator Sumner, the historian Motley, Greeley’s assistant Whitelaw Reid, and editor Theodore Tilton. They were backed by Murat Halstead of the Cincinnati Commercial who wrote a biography of Jay Gould; by Henry Watterson of the Louisville Courier-Journal who would be elected to Congress in 1876; and by Samuel Bowles of the Springfield Republican in Massachusetts who was a friend of Emily Dickinson. The abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips criticized the Liberal Republicans for abandoning the blacks to the white southerners.
      The Republican Party met in Philadelphia on June 5 and 6 and quickly nominated Ulysses Grant for re-election. Vice President Colfax declined to run again and was replaced by the radical Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts as the nominee for Vice President. When Wilson feared they might lose the election, Grant showed him on a map exactly which states they would win which turned out to be accurate. Many blacks in the South and the North supported Grant. The banker Jay Cooke had helped finance the Civil War and the Northern Pacific Railroad by borrowing $100,000 from the Freedmen’s Bank, and his $50,000 made him the largest donor to the Republican National Committee and to Grant’s second campaign which raised $200,000. Grant followed the tradition of not campaigning himself, dividing his time between Washington and his vacation home at Long Branch, New Jersey.
      On July 10 the Democratic Party in Baltimore also nominated Greeley with 686 out of 732 votes on the first ballot, and Gov. Brown got 713 votes on the first ballot for Vice President. The Democratic platform called for equality before the law for all men, local self-government, civil service reform, specie payment, ending grants for railroads and corporations, and peace with other nations. Greeley hoped to reunite the nation by calling for Reconstruction with “Universal Amnesty and Impartial Suffrage.” Southern Liberals gained support from moderate Republicans.
      Greeley campaigned from the back of a railroad train, and he accused President Grant of letting Conklin replace Murphy’s minions to make way for Conklin’s cronies in the New York Custom House. Grant ordered Treasury Secretary Boutwell and Attorney General Williams to prosecute anyone in New York who testified that they bribed government officials. In the hearings Greeley reported that one hundred men influenced by Senator Reuben Fenton of New York had been removed. Greeley’s opponents pointed out the negative things he had said about Democrats over the years. Nast’s cartoons caricatured Greeley, and Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper showed Grant as a drunk tyrant.
      In August former traveling salesman Aaron Montgomery Ward in Chicago issued a catalog to sell some 150 products including many dry goods by mail. In 1872 the US Congress passed the first laws to prevent mail fraud.
      On September 4 an article by Charles Anderson Dana in the New York Sun exposed the Crédit Mobilier scandal. Executives of the Union Pacific Railroad had formed the Crédit Mobilier company which they used as a dummy corporation and contractor so that they could make more money on railway construction. The US Government provided $94,650,287; but operating costs were only $50,720,959, and that gave Crédit Mobilier $43,929,328 in profits. The Crédit Mobilier directors reported only $23,366,320 in profits which enabled them to use $20,563,008 to pay themselves. To persuade Congressmen to do this they sold them stock at discount prices. Congress investigated Crédit Mobilier in December, and those implicated included House Speaker James G. Blaine, Rep. James Garfield, Vice President Colfax, and the VP candidate Wilson. On 28 February 1873 the US House would censure Rep. Oakes Ames of Massachusetts for selling stock worth about $33 million, and he died on May 8.
      James Henry Conyers from South Carolina on September 24 became the first black accepted to study in the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland; but he was hazed so much by other midshipmen including nine who were expelled that he resigned in October 1873.
      In the election on November 5 Grant with 55.6% of all votes won 29 of 35 states and their 286 electoral votes. This election was probably the most fair and democratic in the South until 1968, but for the Democratic Party it was their worst showing in the 19th century. Greeley and Brown got 43.8% of the votes. Greeley’s wife died one week before the election. Greeley was put under a doctor’s care, lost control of the Tribune, and died on November 29. Grant attended Greeley’s funeral in Brooklyn. When the Electoral College met in December, the states of Missouri and Georgia gave their 18 electoral votes to Brown. The independent Democrat Thomas Hendricks of Indiana won the states of Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas with 42 electoral votes. Republicans in Louisiana claimed that 2,000 of their supporters were killed or injured before the election, and in three counties of Georgia where blacks were a majority Grant did not get one official vote. In the US House of Representatives the Republicans gained 61 seats. In the US Senate they lost 2 seats, but they still outnumbered the Democrats 54 to 19. Republicans won a majority in the South Carolina legislature, and the governor was the white Republican Robert K. Scott, a former general from Ohio. Federal troops under the Enforcement Acts arrested 500 Klansmen in South Carolina, and 55 were convicted. Most prison sentences were between 6 and 18 months, and the highest fines were $100.
      Supreme Court Justice Samuel Nelson retired on November 28, and Grant replaced him in December with the former Chief New York Appeals Judge Ward Hunt, a friend of Senator Conkling.
      The US Congress ended the federal income tax at the end of the year. During Grant’s first term (1869-73) the investment in new capital goods increased to about 21% of the gross national product up from 1855-59 when it averaged about 14%. From 1868 to 1873 the United States increased its railroads by 29,589 miles mostly in the Midwest, border states, and the South. The peak year was 1872 when 7,439 miles of track were added. Between 1862 and 1872 the US Congress gave industrialists more than $700 million and 200 million acres of public land.

Grant’s US Indian Policy 1869-72

United States & Red Cloud’s War 1867-68

      General Philip Sheridan continued his campaign to protect settlers against Indians. In March 1869 when Cheyenne “Dog Soldiers” held two white women as hostages, General George Armstrong Custer captured three chiefs. He sent one to tell them to release the women, or he would hang the two chiefs. The Cheyenne warriors let them go. On July 11 the US Army killed Chief Tall Bull and 34 Dog Soldiers at Summit Springs, Colorado.
      To support the terms of the 1868 treaty with the Sioux and Plains Indians the US Congress was supposed to appropriate about $4 million for their support, but the House and Senate could not agree. On 24 March 1869 a group of philanthropists led by William Welsh got an interview with President Grant and Interior Secretary Jacob Cox. They claimed that only a quarter of the federal money was getting to the Indians, and they offered their Christian charity to help get better results. Grant sent them to the Congress, and he appointed ten philanthropists to an independent commission that persuaded both houses to authorize $5 million to maintain the tribes with $2 million for the President to preserve peace. The bill became law on April 10.
      On April 13 President Grant hired the Tonawanda Seneca Brigadier General Ely S. Parker, who had been his adjutant during the Civil War, as commissioner of Indian Affairs, and the next day the Senate confirmed him. Grant had him recruit Quakers from the Society of Friends to develop a peace policy toward the Plains Indians. The President persuaded the Congress to authorize a Board of Indian Commissioners with ten volunteers to help reform the Indian Bureau. Parker advised ending the use of treaties that pretended to be between sovereign nations when in reality the Indian tribes were the wards of the US Government. Grant and Parker favored the “humanization, civilization, and Christianization” of the native peoples. Parker in June told the Indian agents and superintendents to treat Indians on reservations with kindness and those who refused to live on reservations as “friendly or hostile as circumstances might justify.”
      Grant and Interior Secretary Cox met with the new Board of Indian Commissioners on May 27. Grant’s policy was to treat the Indians as individuals instead of as tribes, and this effort aroused public support. The Board’s first report on November 13 submitted by the Pittsburgh industrialist Felix R. Brunot declared that past policy was “unjust and iniquitous beyond the power of words to express,” and they blamed the frontiersmen for wronging the Indians, writing, “The white man has been the chief obstacle in the way of Indian civilization.”17 The Board also advised concentrating on small reservations, abolishing the treaty system, and giving citizenship immediately to the five civilized tribes of the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole. Grant replaced the Indian agents with army officers whom he believed would obey orders without accepting bribes because of their professional integrity, positions for life, and their personal interest in peace with Indians.
      On the first of June 1870 Chief Red Cloud and 15 Oglala sub-chiefs came to Washington, and they negotiated with Interior Secretary Cox for a Red Cloud Agency near Fort Laramie. Spotted Tail and the Brulé Oglala would be allowed to live in northwest Nebraska. On June 16 Chief Red Cloud spoke at Cooper Union in New York, and it was printed in the New York Times the next day. He said,

God Almighty has made us all,
and He is here to bless what I have to say to you today.
The Good Spirit made us both….
   When you first came, we were many, and you were few;
now you are many, and we are getting fewer,
and we are poor.
You do not know who appears before you today to speak.
I am a representative of the original American race,
the first people of this continent.
We are good and not bad.
The reports that you hear concerning us
are all on one side….
   At the mouth of the Horse Creek, in 1852,
the Great Father made a treaty with us by which we agreed
to let all that country open for fifty-five years
for the transit of those who were going through.
We kept this treaty; we never treated any man wrong;
we never committed murder or depredation
until afterward the troops were sent into that country,
and the troops killed our people and ill-treated them,
and thus war and trouble arose;
but before the troops were sent there, we were quiet
and peaceable, and there was no disturbance….
   In 1868 men came out and brought papers.
We are ignorant and do not read papers,
and they did not tell us right what was in these papers.
We wanted them to take away their forts,
leave our country, would not make war,
and give our traders something….
All I want is right and justice….
I represent the Sioux Nation;
they will be governed by what I say and what I represent….
We look to you for your sympathy.
   Our riches will do us no good; we cannot take away
into the other world anything we have—
we want to have love and peace.
We would like to know why commissioners
are sent out there to do nothing but rob
and get the riches of this world away from us?...
   We want honest men,
and we want you to help to keep us in the lands
that belong to us so that we may not be a prey
to those who are viciously disposed.
I am going back home.
I am very glad that you have listened to me,
and I wish you good-bye
and give you an affectionate farewell.18

      Red Cloud and his rival chief of the Brulé Sioux, Spotted Tail, led a delegation of 21 Sioux who met with Grant and Ely Parker at the White House on May 7. Spotted Tail said they needed food and clothing and that he was for peace, but the US Government had not responded that way. Grant knew that the goods for the 1870 annuity had not arrived. The next day the US military commanders in the West were ordered to keep intruders off Indian lands by force if necessary.

      On 2 March 1868 the Utes had made a treaty with the United States Commissioner of the Indian Affairs Nathaniel Taylor, Gov. Alexander C. Hunt of Colorado, Kit Carson, and the representatives of the Tabaquache, Muache, Capote, Weeminuche, Yampa, Grand River, and Uintah bands of the Utes that granted them a reservation of 16 million acres from the western Rockies in Colorado west to the Utah border with hunting rights in North and Middle Parks. For the next fiscal year ending in mid-1869 only $5,000 was appropriated for the Uintah Agency even though the Indian agent Pardon Dodds said that more than $20,000 was needed. After Carl Schurz became the US Senator from Missouri in March 1869, he arranged for $350,000 to provide for the Utes. They would cede some of their land back to the United States in 1873 in exchange for the US Army protecting them from miners.
      On 1 June 1868 the Navaho Wars had ended as they agreed to live on the Bosque Redondo Reservation near Fort Sumner in the New Mexico Territory. The US Senate ratified the treaty on June 24, and President Johnson proclaimed it on August 12. Although the reservation included 3.5 million acres, excluded were the best land for farming and grazing and their four sacred mountains. Even after it was quadrupled to 25,000 square miles, only about 68,000 acres could be used for farmland. In the next five years under the military the Navajo population of 10,000 decreased by 2,000 while the number of sheep diminished from 200,000 to 940.
      In January 1869 at Fort Cobb the Comanche Chief Toch-a-way surrendered to General Philip Sheridan, saying that he was a “good Indian.” According to Lieutenant Charles Nordstrom but denied by Sheridan, the general replied, “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead.”
      Indian Affairs Commissioner Ely Parker was investigated in February by some who did not want an Indian in that job. He was exonerated, but he resigned on 13 July 1871. He invested in the stock market and gained a fortune, but he lost it in the 1873 panic.
      Grant in a letter on 6 March 1872 instructed General Schofield that Indian hostilities should be avoided and replaced by a policy to civilize and elevate them, but he also wrote,

Indians who will not put themselves
under the restraints required will have to be forced,
even to the extent of making war upon them,
to submit to measures that will insure
security to the white settlers of the Territories. 19
In a meeting with Red Cloud, Red Dog, and other Oglala Sioux chiefs on May 28 Grant told them,

The time must come when,
with the great growth of population here,
the game will be gone, and your people will then
have to resort to other means of support;
and while there is time we would like to teach you
new modes of living that will secure you in the future
and be a safe means of livelihood.20

Grant then promised to build schools for them and give them herds of sheep and cattle to raise. In a letter to the Confederate General George H. Stuart on October 26 Grant wrote,

I do not believe our Creator ever placed
different races of men on this earth
with the view of having the stronger
exert all his energies in exterminating the weaker.21

      Before resigning as the Indian Commissioner on 26 December 1872 Francis A. Walker in November wrote a report in which he concluded,

Americans will never be wanting in simple justice
to helpless dependents at home.
I have, therefore, no fear for the future
of the Indians of this continent
when once the arms of their resistance are laid down,
and Indian outrages are no longer reported
to inflame the hostility of the border states
and to mingle doubt and misgivings with
the philanthropic intentions of the charitable and humane.22

      In the Montana Territory a conflict over stolen horses between the Piegan warrior Owl Creek and the rancher and fur trader Malcolm Clarke in 1867 had led to Owl Creek killing Clarke on 17 August 1869 in revenge for his wife’s rape by Clarke. The US Army demanded that the Blackfeet put Owl Creek to death. When they did not, General Sheridan ordered the cavalry led by Major Eugene Baker to strike Owl Creek’s band hard. Before dawn on 23 January 1870 drunk Major Eugene Baker led his cavalry against the Piegan village by the Marias River where mostly women, children, and old men were sleeping and suffering from smallpox; most of the men were away hunting. Although there was no resistance, they massacred about 173 people including 50 children under the age of 12. They captured 140, and only one army private was killed. Baker’s men also stole over 300 horses and burned the village. Sheridan approved the punishment, but the US Congress decided to ban military officers from being Indian agents. Lydia Maria Child accused Sheridan for thinking that “the approved method of teaching red men not to commit murder is to slaughter their wives and children,”23 and Wendell Phillips suggested that the three worst “savages on the Plains” were Col. Baker, General Custer, and General Sheridan. Because the Congress had prohibited military officers from having civil offices, Grant decided to ask church groups who had sent missionaries to the Indians to run all 73 Indian agencies.
      In December 1870 the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole in the Indian Territory approved a constitution with a bill of rights for self-government, and Grant sent the documents to the Congress; but they added amendments to give the US Government final authority over legislation, and the Five Civilized Tribes would not agree to that.
      On 30 April 1871 at Camp Grant in the Arizona Territory six white and 48 Mexican Americans helped 92 Tohono O’odham slaughter 136 Pinal and Aravaipa Apache women and children and 8 men. The O’odham and Mexicans captured 29 children and sold them as slaves in Mexico. This incident provoked a guerrilla war that lasted until 1875.
      On May 18 about a hundred Kiowa ambushed a wagon train on Salt Creek Prairie, Texas. Three leaders Satanta, Satank, and Big Tree were arrested on May 27. Satank was killed on June 8 while trying to escape. In the first US trial of native American raiders the other two were convicted and sentenced to hang, but Texas Gov. Edmund J. Davis commuted their sentences to prison. Satanta committed suicide in 1878; but Big Tree became a Christian and a Baptist minister, and he remained a chief in the Indian Territory until his death in 1929.

Grant’s US Indian Policy 1873-76

“Boss” Tweed in New York 1863-73

      William Magear Tweed was born on 2 April 1823 in New York City. He worked as an apprentice and studied to become a bookkeeper. He joined the Masons, volunteered as a fireman, and then formed a company of six in 1848. He was in the US Congress 1853-55. He served on three different city commissions. In 1861 he was made the chairman of the Democratic General Committee. In January 1863 he became the head of Tammany Hall’s general committee, and in April he grabbed power as the “Grand Sachem” and was called “Boss.” Although he was not a lawyer, he used his law firm and political machine to get money. The Erie Railroad paid about $100,000 for his favors. He invested in real estate and became one of largest landowners in New York City.
      In 1868 “Boss” Tweed was elected to the New York Senate. He helped the financiers Jay Gould and Jim Fisk to take over the Erie Railroad from Cornelius Vanderbilt. In 1869 Tweed helped the former mayor John T. Hoffman get elected governor. Then he used $600,000 to bribe Republican lawmakers in order to create a new city charter with finances controlled by a new Audit Board with himself as Commissioner of Public Works, Mayor A. Oakey Hall, and Comptroller Richard Connolly. Hall appointed others in the Tweed Ring. They increased the budget for the building of the New York County Courthouse to almost $13 million by 1971, and the building was not even finished by then. The four commissioners got 20% kickbacks on all supplies purchased; the Tweed Ring got 65% and let the contractors have 35%. Tweed also directed money to the upper class, and they bribed municipal judges. John Jacob Astor was chairman of the committee investigating the city’s finances which exonerated the Tweed Ring. The city’s debt increased to nearly $90 million. By 1870 Tweed had acquired $12 million, and that winter he spent $50,000 on food for the poor. His Tammany Hall had Democratic clubs throughout the city. The Tweed Ring controlled 12,000 jobs in the city government. He influenced newspapers by paying $2,703,308 for advertising in a year and a half. Tweed estimated that his daughter received gifts at her wedding worth $700,000. The gambler and criminal John Morrissey organized men to vote numerous times using false names. One time they used the names of 900 blacks, and some of them were arrested for voting twice. When the Republican poll watcher Michael Costello complained about repeat voting, four tough guys beat him up; then a policeman arrested Costello for assaulting him.
      In 1871 a new auditor, Matthew O’Rourke, in Connolly’s office leaked financial records to Sheriff James O’Brien. On July 8 the New York Times began exposing Tweed’s corruption under the headline “Gigantic Frauds of the Ring Exposed.” Thomas Nast’s political cartoons satirized “Boss” Tweed as a fat cigar-smoker who manipulated elections. Yet the actual Tweed did not smoke or drink. On July 12 the Tammany Gov. John T. Hoffman had 1,500 police and about 5,000 National guard protect the parade of the Loyal Order of Orange who were attacked by many Irish Catholics and workers. More than 60 civilians who were mostly Ulster Scot Protestants and Irish Catholic laborers were killed. Three guards died, and 150 people were wounded including 22 militia and 20 police; but only one Orangeman was wounded. The next day 20,000 Irish demonstrated at the morgue.
      The Democrat Samuel J. Tilden led the reform effort, and property owners refused to pay municipal taxes. Those working against Tweed formed the Committee of Seventy, and Judge George G. Barnard approved an injunction to keep Tweed and his ring from raising or spending money. Tweed lost support and was arrested in October and released on $1 million bail. His fall caused corrupt judges to be removed which also affected the financier Jay Gould. Tweed was re-elected as state senator in November. Eventually in November 1873 Tweed was found guilty of 204 misdemeanors including forgery and larceny. Judge Davis sentenced him to 13 years with a $12,500 fine. Tweed’s lawyer David Field blamed Democratic state chairman Samuel Tilden and District Attorney Garven of having political motives. Tweed and his ring stole about $200 million and over $100,000 was unaccounted.


1. Messages and Papers of the Presidents 1789-1908 ed. James D. Richardson, Volume 7, p. 6-8.
2. Grant by Ron Chernow, p. 641.
3. The Presidents Fact Book by Roger Matuz, p. 294.
4. American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900 by H. W. Brands, p. 40.
5. Ibid. p. 42.
6. Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Vol. 7., p. 31-32.
7. Ibid. p. 39.
8. Ibid. p. 222.
9. Grant by Jean Edward Smith, p. 528.
10. The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace by H. W. Brands, p. 461.
11. Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880 by W. E. B. Du Bois, p. 366.
12. Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Vol. 7., p. 109.
13. The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass by Philip S. Foner, Volume 4, p. 60.
14. Grant by Jean Edward Smith, p. 547.
15. The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass by Philip S. Foner, Volume 4, p. 282.
16. Ibid., p. 289.
17. Report of the Board of Indian Commissioners, 1869, p. 9 in Grant by Jean Edward Smith, p. 525.
18. Great Documents in American Indian History ed. Wayne Moquin, p. 211-213.
19. Grant by Ron Chernow, p. 738.
20. Ibid. p. 739.
21. Ibid. p. 738.
22. The Annals of America, Vol. 10, p. 298.
23. Grant by Jean Edward Smith, p. 528.

Copyright © 2022 by Sanderson Beck

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