BECK index

Grant & United States Depression 1873-77

by Sanderson Beck

Grant & the US Panic of 1873
Grant & US Depression in 1874
Grant & US Depression in 1875
Grant’s US Indian Policy 1873-76
Grant & United States Elections in 1876

Grant & the US Panic of 1873

US Reconstruction & Grant 1869-72

       President Grant’s ally Benjamin Butler introduced a bill to raise the President’s salary from the $25,000 George Washington got to $50,000 and cabinet members’ pay to $10,000. In addition the 42nd Congress on 4 March 1873, its last day, raised their salaries from $5,000 a year to $7,500 and made it retroactive for two years, giving each member another $5,000. The negative public reaction caused the 43rd Congress on 20 January 1874 to repeal their pay raises, but they preserved those doubling the salaries of the Supreme Court justices and the President. Of the 102 congressmen who voted for the backpay, only 12 were re-elected in 1874. An amendment to ban Congress raising their present salaries had been proposed in 1789, but it would not be ratified until 1992 as the 27th Amendment. Grant opposed the pay increases but did not want to veto the entire spending bill for the year. He needed the money because he was $25,000 in debt. He was the first US President to suggest a line-item veto.
      Susan B. Anthony had tried to vote for Grant in Rochester and was arrested with election registrars who spent five days in jail. Julia Ward Howe, Louisa May Alcott, and other women asked Grant to mention women’s suffrage in his inaugural address. He replied it was complete, though he approved their efforts to enlarge the influence of women. Like before, Grant let no one else even see his inaugural address. He denied he could give them votes, but he said he appointed over “5,000 postmistresses.”
      Inauguration Day on March 4 was the coldest ever getting as low as 4 degrees. Again Grant had written his own speech. He expressed his belief that the United States is making great progress, saying,

The civilized world is tending toward republicanism,
or government by the people
through their chosen representatives,
and that our own great Republic
is destined to be the guiding star to all others.
   Under our Republic we support an army
less than that of any European power
of any standing and a navy less than that….
   Now that the telegraph is made available
for communicating thought,
together with rapid transit by steam,
all parts of a continent are made contiguous
for all purposes of government,
and communication between the extreme limits
of the country made easier
than it was throughout the old thirteen States….
   The effects of the late civil strife have been
to free the slave and make him a citizen.
Yet he is not possessed of the civil rights
which citizenship should carry with it.
This is wrong, and should be corrected.
To this correction, I stand committed,
so far as Executive influence can avail.
   Social equality is not a subject to be legislated upon,
nor shall I ask that anything be done
to advance the social status of the colored man,
except to give him a fair chance to develop
what there is good in him, give him access to the schools,
and when he travels let him feel assured that his conduct
will regulate the treatment and fare he will receive….
   I believe that our Great Maker is preparing the world,
in His own good time, to become one nation,
speaking one language,
and when armies and navies will be no longer required.1

He claimed that lower taxes were creating peace and prosperity. He affirmed the accomplishment of turning four million slaves into citizens. Although he noted that the freed persons still lacked some civil rights, he said that should be corrected. He was glad that the former Confederate states had all been readmitted, and he expected there would be fewer federal intrusions in his second term. He also intended “by a humane course to bring the aborigines of the country under the benign influences of education and civilization,” and he warned that the alternative would be “wars of extermination.” He wanted to correct the abuses of the civil service. He complained that he had been slandered and abused in the campaign, but he felt that the people electing him was his vindication.
      The inaugural ball was again unfortunate because the building was not heated. That night the low temperature froze the wine and champagne. Grant and his wife Julia arrived at 11:30 p.m. as celebratory canaries were dying; they left at 12.
      Treasury Secretary George S. Boutwell had been elected to replace the US Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts, and Grant appointed his assistant William R. Richardson at the Treasury. The Civil Service Commission chairman Curtis resigned in March because too many appointments were violating the civil service regulations. Grant then formed a committee naming Curtis, the customs collector Chester Arthur, and the anti-Tweed reformer Jackson Schultz to reconcile politicians and reformers. In 1873 President Grant appointed Arthur’s friend George Sharpe as surveyor for the port of New York over those more qualified. Curtis became ill, was not consulted, got better, felt snubbed, and resigned again.
      The Republican William Pitt Kellogg had been declared the Governor of Louisiana over the Democrat John McEnery in the November 1872 election that was marred by violations on both sides. McEnery refused to concede, and both sides held inaugurations on 14 January 1873 and claimed to govern. The New Orleans commander General William H. Emory recognized McEnery and announced that he would maintain order. He advised the McEnery government to refrain from implementing legislation until the courts determined who was Governor.
      On January 21 the businessman Joseph T. Hatch complained to President Grant that because he had voted Republican, 20 disguised men fired over a hundred shots into his warehouse at night and threatened to torch his business.
      In early March a mob of 5,000 in a white militia who supported McEnery took over police stations and the arsenal in the Cabildo building in the Grant Parish of New Orleans. Gov. Kellogg sent the state militia commanded by General Longstreet, and they forced the mob to disperse. On March 5 Grant telegraphed, “Instruct Military to prevent any violent interference with the state Government of La.”2 On March 30 the New York Tribune began printing a series of articles by James Pike who toured South Carolina and condemned Reconstruction government.
      On April 13, Easter Sunday, about a hundred blacks, who were in the Louisiana militia and were led by William Ward, gathered in a temporary courthouse in Colfax, Louisiana and were attacked by some 140 whites led by Christopher Columbus Nash who wanted to be sheriff. Both sides engaged in shooting; but the whites also shot to death about 40 blacks they captured, and about three dozen other blacks had been killed in the gun battle. Only 3 whites died, and at least one of them had been shot by another white. President Grant learned of this as he was preparing to go on a tour of the West, and he had his cabinet take care of the response.
      On April 14 the US Supreme Court decided 5-4 that the Louisiana legislature had the right as a legitimate police power to protect the water in New Orleans from pollution by slaughterhouses and that this did not violate the equal protection of the butchers.
      On April 20 Captain Jacob H. Smith arrived with a hundred US soldiers and arrested eight suspected whites in Colfax. The Justice Department sent an undercover agent to infiltrate the whites in the Grant Parish. A federal grand jury indicted 98 perpetrators, tried Cruikshank and 8 others, and convicted 3 but only on the conspiracy charge. They appealed, and the case eventually reached the US Supreme Court which in United States v. Cruikshank decided 9-0 on 27 March 1876 that the 14th Amendment does not apply to private persons but only to states; but they advised that the states could punish the offenses. On the same day they decided 8-1 in the Kentucky case of US v. Reese that the Federal government also had limited power to enforce the 15th Amendment. In dissent Justice Ward Hunt argued that the majority had made the amendment “impotent.” These decisions would have a devastating effect on Reconstruction. Louisiana’s Republican Gov. Kellogg in early May asked Grant for help because of insurrection, and on May 22 the President proclaimed that “turbulent and disorderly persons” had 20 days to disperse, or he would send in Federal troops.
      The Ku Klux Klan was a secretive organization, but others such as the White League, rifle clubs, Red Shirts, and Knights of the White Camellia did not hide their political aim to use violence to remove Republicans from power. Kellogg appealed to Grant again in August because of a coming election. In an attempt to remove the Republican Kellogg some White Leaguers on August 29 and 30 took six Republican officials from their homes in Coushatta of the Red River Parish, Louisiana and murdered them. They also killed about ten black freedmen because they were witnesses.
      Grant in early September ordered War Secretary Belknap to have troops prepared especially in Louisiana, Alabama, and South Carolina. On September 14 McEnery’s Lt. Governor D. B. Penn ordered his militia to drive out usurping Republican officeholders. The White League raised a thousand whites in New Orleans and overcame the black militia and the racially mixed police force led by Longstreet, and they killed more than 20 people and took over city hall and the statehouse. Longstreet’s men killed 21 White Leaguers. Grant sent 5,000 troops and three gunboats, giving the insurgents five days to leave. They departed, and Penn surrendered the statehouse enabling the restoration of Gov. Kellogg. After these events Grant was barraged with many death threats. In early January 1874 he put General Sheridan in command of Louisiana. He supervised an investigation which learned that since the Civil War whites had killed 2,141 blacks and wounded 2,115, but hardly anyone was ever punished.
      On 7 May 1873 Chief Justice Chase died of a stroke at the age of 65. Of Grant’s four appointments to the Supreme Court only Ward Hunt protected the rights of blacks. Susan B. Anthony complained that the Court failed to recognize her First Amendment rights after she was arrested for trying to vote in November 1872. The other two justices Grant named, Joseph Bradley of New Jersey and William Strong of Pennsylvania, had been railroad lawyers, and their overturning the Hepburn v. Griswold case of 1870 reinstated greenbacks as legal tender and helped the railroads. Grant wanted to appoint Senator Conkling, but he declined. Fish was too old, and so Grant nominated Attorney General Williams; but his wife had induced him to spend Justice Department money to buy an elegant carriage and hire two footmen. This scandal persuaded Grant to withdraw his name on 9 January 1874. Finally he nominated the lesser known Morrison Waite of Ohio as Chief Justice on January 19, and two days later the Senate unanimously confirmed him. Waite had presided over Ohio’s constitutional convention in 1873.
      On 19 May 1873 Vice President Henry Wilson had a stroke that paralyzed his face and impaired his speech. He still managed to preside over the Senate until his death in November 1875, but he could no longer offer advice to Grant who needed wise counselors. Secretary of State Hamilton Fish was excellent on foreign policy, but his lack of compassion for those less well-off made him a poor advisor on domestic and economic policy. Grant met with the Civil Service Board in May, and they promulgated new rules on August 5.
      Farmers cooperated in the Grange which claimed 800,000 members as they increased their number of chapters in 1873 from 1,362 to 10,029. “The Farmers’ Declaration of Independence” was announced on Independence Day and was published on July 12. They complained about the railway monopoly and its influence on politicians and judges that made it difficult for people to challenge their oppression. The high cost of shipping by railroads and for farm machinery forced out poorer farmers as the rich farmers increased their profits. The Minnesota Republican Ignatius Donnelly led the Grange reformers and would oppose monopolies, and he became a state senator in 1874.
      While Congress was not in session, in July James G. Bennett’s New York Herald published articles accusing Grant of imperial “Caesarism” and of planning to run for a third term.
      The Vienna stock exchange had crashed on May 9, and the financial panic spread first to Berlin. One cause was that the British began importing more wheat and beef from the United States instead of from the Austro-Hungarian empire. The Bank of England tried to slow down Hungarian borrowing and raised discount rates on short-term loans from 4% on May 9 to 9% by November. The debt of American railroads rose from $416 million in 1867 to $2,230 million by 1874. This worried investors. Jay Cooke & Company had said they would limit advances to the Northern Pacific Railroad to $500,000, but they rose to $7 million during the summer of 1873.
      In January 1873 the US Congress had voted to demonetize most of silver, and the US Treasury stopped issuing silver dollars, removing silver as a legal standard in the US. William Ralston of the Bank of California controlled Comstock silver mining stocks, and Nevada’s Senator William Stewart and other US Senators worked with Stewart to pass the Coinage Act to demonetize silver so that European silver would not rush into the American market. On February 5 mining engineers discovered a new vein of silver in the Panamint Mountains of California that would yield $150 million. President Grant signed the Coinage Act into law on February 12, and it became effective on April 1. Later it would be called the “Crime of ’73.” The Panic of 1873 reached the United States in September and October as bank reserves in New York City fell from $50 million to $17 million. Other causes in the US included the fires at Chicago in October 1871 and at Boston in November 1872 and the equine influenza epidemic in the fall of 1872 that affected thousands of horses.
      The Atlantic Bank had failed in April. The New York Warehouse & Security Company was suspended on September 8. On the 13th Kenyon Cox & Co. with its partner Daniel Drew collapsed. The New York stock exchange began going down on the 17th, the day Grant took his son Jesse to Philadelphia to enroll in the Cheltenham Academy. Grant visited Jay Cooke at his Ogontz mansion and stayed the night. On the Black Friday of September 18 the Northern Pacific Railroad ran out of money, and Jay Cooke & Co. closed down. Grant did not learn of that until he returned to Washington the next day when Fisk & Hatch also shut down.
      On September 20 Grant ordered Treasury Secretary Richardson to buy $10 million in bonds. News of these events panicked depositors who withdrew their funds, causing the New York Stock Exchange that day to stop trading for the first time for ten days. On the 21st Grant and Treasury Secretary Richardson went to New York and talked with bankers, and they decided to reissue up to $26 million in greenbacks (paper money) to inflate the money. Banks called in loans, and businesses went under. Senate Finance Committee chairman John Sherman and other conservatives had objected to issuing greenbacks before the 1872 elections, and he began a Senate investigation.
      In the last three months of the year 25 railroads defaulted on their debts, and 71 more would in 1874. Railroad stocks would go down 60% by 1878. The year 1873 had 5,183 bankruptcies in the US, and in 1878 there would be 10,478. Throughout that period wholesale prices went down 30%.
      During this financial panic in 1873 Henry Clay Frick purchased most of the coal and coke near Connellsville, Pennsylvania. Coke became valuable for making steel, and Frick became a millionaire and manager of Andrew Carnegie’s company.
      Grant was conscientious and often returned favors to those who had helped him in the past even if they were Democrats. James Buchanan Eads was an engineer and successful industrialist who helped build the first fleet of ironclad ships. These efforts helped Grant win victories at Fort Henry and Vicksburg during the Civil War. In 1866 the US Congress approved Eads’ plan to construct a steel bridge over the Mississippi south of its connection to the Missouri River. According to Missouri Senator B. G. Brown the project was approved because some Congressmen considered it impossible. Eads raised $9 million and hired 2,000 workers, and arches spanned the river in 1873. On September 2 the US Army board in St. Louis guided by the chief engineer, General Andrew Humphreys who was concerned about steamboat interests with their high smokestacks, ordered a canal constructed behind the east abutment for the steamboats. Eads appealed to Grant who told War Secretary Belknap to have Humphreys back off. In January 1874 the Army Corps ordered the bridge dismantled; but Eads completed the bridge on July 4, and it still stands. The venture was financed by Andrew Carnegie with support from Junius and J. Pierpont Morgan.
      Grant also hired the English architect Alfred Bult Mullet to design large federal buildings in the European style of the second empire in Washington, Boston, New York, St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati. Most were eventually torn down, but the State, War, and Navy buildings in Washington survived.
      The Virginius had been a Confederate blockade-runner during the Civil War until it was captured in 1865. In October its new Captain Fry took on 103 Cubans and munitions for rebels against Spain. On 30 October 1873 Spain’s Tornado captured the Virginius in open water about six miles from Cuba. The crew was imprisoned as pirates at Santiago de Cuba, and on November 7 and 8 a firing squad executed 49 men including Fry. Secretary of State Fish cabled the ambassador Daniel Sickles to protest in Madrid. On November 29 Fish and the Spanish minister José Polo de Bernabé signed a protocol, and on December 17 the Spaniards gave up the Virginius and the survivors. The ship sank in a storm on the way to New York, but the 91 on the crew, who were being held as prisoners, were rescued and taken to New York. Grant accepted the resignation of Sickles and replaced him with Caleb Cushing in January 1874. On 5 March 1875 after diplomatic pressure Spain finally paid an indemnity of $80,000 to the United States.
      Grant in his 5th Annual Message to Congress on December 1 discussed US relations with many countries. Then he reported on various departments beginning with the Treasury which had a surplus of $43,392,959 in the previous fiscal year; but he doubted they could do that in the present fiscal year, and he warned about the effect of inflation on prices. The Interior Department collected Indians on reservations to teach them the arts of civilization. Once again he asked for help on civil service reform.
      On December 2 Texas Democrats elected Richard Coke governor, and their party took over control of the state government on 15 January 1874.
      Anthony Comstock founded the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, and on December 14 the US Congress passed the Comstock Act banning “obscene, lewd, or lascivious” publications through the mail as well as information on birth control and abortion.
      In December the National Convention of Colored Persons led by George T. Downing presented a petition to the US Congress for civil rights with three resolutions urging them to pass the “civil-rights bill now pending in the United States Senate.”
      From 1865 to 1873 the United States funded public works with $103,294,501; but only $9,469,363 of that went to the 11 former Confederates states and Kentucky while New York got $15,688,222. Federal expenditures were $104,705,173 on railroads, canals, and wagon roads from 1789 to 1873, but only $4,430,192 was spent in the southern states. Railroad mileage increased from 35,085 miles in 1865 to 70,784 miles in 1873. Vanderbilt’s family wealth had increased to $90 million, and New York City provided half the $6.5 million that Cornelius Vanderbilt used to build the elevated Harlem Railroad Line.
      At Springfield, Illinois a convention of farmers criticized monopolies for being “detrimental to the public prosperity, corrupt in management, and dangerous to republican institutions.”3 The Northwest Farmers’ Convention at Chicago proposed federal regulation of transportation rates, government ownership of railroads, ending subsidies to corporations and tariffs to protect industries, reform of the credit system, and the promotion of decentralized manufacturing.
      A Congressional committee investigating the economy reported,

The country is fast becoming filled with gigantic corporations
wielding and controlling immense aggregations of money
and thereby commanding great influence and power.
It is notorious in many state legislatures
that these influences are often controlling.4

      About 402,000 immigrants came to the United States in 1873, but the number decreased much during the depression that followed to a low of 71,000 in 1877

Grant & US Depression in 1874

      During the winter of 1873-74 after the Panic a quarter of New York City’s workers were unemployed, and by the next winter one-third were. On January 13 the unemployed met at Tompkins Square in New York, and mounted police injured hundreds. In three years the wages of city workers went down 25% while the price of food fell only 5%. Many workers joined unions, and some went on strike; but mill-owners and corporations pressured workers in 1874 and 1875. Industrial executives got together, and monopolistic tactics increased. Suffering people urged the government to increase the money supply.
      On February 3 Mississippi elected the former slave Blanche Bruce to the US Senate, but his six-year term would not begin until 4 March 1875.
      Frederick Douglass had stopped working on the New National Era in April 1873, and it was taken over by lobbyists for big business who hated labor unions. By February 1874 about 80% of their subscribers were in arrears, and the newspaper ended in September.
      The Freedmen’s Savings Bank had been created when President Lincoln signed the bill on 3 March 1865, and within three years they had 44,395 depositors. By 1872 the bank had 32 of its 34 branches in the South. In 1873 the deposits had risen to $55 million, but in June 1874 total deposits fell to $3,299,201. The bank lent to whites as while as to blacks, and many of the loans could not be collected.
      On 30 March 1874 Frederick Douglass became the president of the Freedmen’s Savings and Trust Company. The headquarters in Washington had cost $260,000 to build. In the depression that followed the Panic of 1873 financiers and real estate speculators got fraudulent loans. Jay Cooke borrowed $500,000 at 5% interest even though his company was collapsing. Depositors made three runs on the bank over 18 months, and Douglass discovered that the Trust Company had a deficit over $200,000. He had loaned $10,000 of his own money to restore confidence. He appealed to the Senate Finance Committee, and on June 20 they put the bank in liquidation for reorganization. Douglass agreed with the trustees who voted to close the bank on June 28. Like most depositors Douglass lost about half his money; but he was such a popular speaker that he was paid $100 for each lecture and made $3,700 in three months.
      Senator Thomas Ferry of Michigan introduced an inflation bill, and the Congress voted to increase greenback currency from $356 million to $400 million on April 14. Grant knew what it was like to be poor and unemployed. During the Panic of 1857 he had pawned his gold watch so that he could buy Christmas presents for his family. Most of Grant’s cabinet except for Fish and Creswell urged him to sign the bill, but Cyrus Field presented a petition signed by 2,500 businessmen urging a veto. While writing his message for the signing, Grant changed his mind, and he vetoed the bill on April 22. In his message Grant expressed his concern that inflation would destabilize the economy and incite speculation. He wrote,

The theory, in my belief, is a departure
from true principles of finance, national interest,
national obligations to creditors, Congressional promises,
party pledges (on the part of both political parties),
and of personal views and promises made by me
in every annual message sent to Congress
and in each inaugural address.5

Many people approved, and Grant’s allies Conkling and John Sherman prevented the Senate from over-riding the veto. Tight money may have caused the economy to shrink, but European investors were reassured that the money was sound. The US economy would not begin to recover until March 1879, but America was becoming an industrial power. This would be known as the “Great Depression” until a worse one occurred in the 1930s.
      John D. Sanborn was indicted for revenue fraud on January 10. Treasury Secretary Richardson had hired him to collect unpaid taxes, and a contract allowed him to keep half. Sanborn accused companies of tax evasion and collected $427,000 in unpaid taxes, keeping $213,000 and giving $156,000 of that to his assistants. He was acquitted. Richardson admitted that he had not read the contracts, and he resigned. On June 22 Grant signed a bill that ended the moiety contract system.
      Robert Brown Elliott was an African who was born in England and graduated from Eton College. He moved to South Carolina and helped to start its Republican Party in 1868 when he was elected to the state legislature. He was a member of the US Congress from March 1871 to November 1874. He argued for legislation to defend human rights and responded to Alexander Stephens’ oration for states’ rights, saying,

The results of the war, as seen in reconstruction,
have settled forever the political status of my race.
The passage of this bill will determine the civil status,
not only of the Negro, but of any other class of citizens
who may feel themselves discriminated against.
It will form the capstone of that temple of liberty,
begun on this continent under discouraging circumstances.6

After the death of Senator Sumner on March 11 Elliott presented his eulogy of the great abolitionist at Boston in Faneuil Hall. He said,

And this is the greatness of Charles Sumner,—
that by the power of his moral enthusiasm
he rescued the nation from its shameful subservience
to the demands of material and commercial interests,
and guided it up to the high plane of justice and right.7

      On May 21 Grant reluctantly accepted the marriage of his daughter Nellie to an English aristocrat. Her wedding was in the White House, and the value of their wedding gifts was about $60,000.
      The US Congress on June 20 established a commission of three men to govern the District of Columbia, but they removed its non-voting delegate from the House of Representatives which they had before as a Territory.
      After a disputed election in November 1872 between the Republicans Joseph Brooks and Elisha Baxter, the Arkansas General Assembly on 6 January 1873 declared Baxter the winner by 3,000 votes. Brooks filed a suit and asked for a recount which the Assembly denied. Brooks sued again in June 1873. In 1874 Democrats began supporting Brooks, and General Catterson with the state militia marched with him into Little Rock. Three of the Supreme Court justices advised President Grant to recognize Brooks. On April 16 Gov. Baxter was protected by Hallie Riflers at Anthony House, and white Democrats supporting him increased their numbers to about 2,000. On May 15 President Grant recognized Baxter as the Governor of Arkansas. A new constitution was written by September 7 which was ratified on October 13 as Democrats were elected. August H. Garland had supported Baxter, and he became the Democratic Governor of Arkansas on November 12.
      Grant appointed Benjamin Bristow to be Treasury Secretary on June 4. He began by refinancing the national debt by replacing the 6% bonds from the Civil War with 5% bonds. Bankers, glad that inflation was under control, bought the new bonds. Grant and Bristow implemented civil service reform to get rid of political appointees in the Treasury Department. The other department where patronage was a big problem was the Postal Service that had so many employees. To replace Creswell the President chose Marshall Jewell who also favored civil service reform to eliminate corruption. In June 1874 the US Congress ended the funding for the Civil Service Commission, and competitive examination stopped on 9 March 1875.
      Mississippi had 55 blacks out of 115 state representatives and 9 of 37 state senators. On July 4 some whites opened fire on black Republicans, killing several. The Republican Governor Adelbert Ames asked Grant for federal troops; but he declined to send them prior to the August election. Many intimidated blacks stayed home, and white supremacists removed Republicans. In Mississippi in 1874 about 200 Negroes were killed, and thousands were wounded.
      The armed White League and White Line militia in Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, and South Carolina would follow this example. The White League was organized in July 1874 and had 40,000 members by the end of the year. On December 5 the White League called itself the “Taxpayers’ League” and took over the Warren County courthouse at Vicksburg, Mississippi forcing the black Sheriff Peter Crosby and the board of supervisors to flee. As the black militia was approaching Vicksburg, the mayor proclaimed martial law. On December 7 Col. Horace Miller led the White Line militia who killed blacks after pulling some from their homes. The Governor’s wife Blanche Ames said they shot them down and murdered the wounded. Over several days the white men may have killed as many as 300 blacks. Gov. Ames summoned the legislature on December 17 and said they faced an armed insurrection. Both houses of the legislature approved a resolution appealing to Grant, and on 4 January 1875 Ames asked Grant to send federal troops. In February a congressional committee found no common ground and advised that federal intervention would inflame whites or victimize blacks. Gov. Ames resigned on March 29 to avoid being impeached.
      That winter in Louisiana the White Leaguers beat black students who were trying to integrate schools in New Orleans. Grant directed General Sheridan to Vicksburg, Jackson, and New Orleans to make a report. In January 1875 both sides tried to claim a two-seat majority in the state legislature. As 1,800 federal troops surrounded the statehouse, the Conservatives threatened to take over five undecided seats. The Republicans left to protest. Gov. Kellogg sent in General Philippe Trobriand with 20 soldiers who escorted the five Conservatives out. Sheridan wired War Secretary Belknap asking if he could act, and without consulting Grant or the cabinet Belknap replied that they all approved. Sheridan’s soldiers occupied the legislature, outraging many.
      On September 10 an Atlanta News editorial called for “White Leagues formed in every town, village, and hamlet of the South.” The northern journalist James Shepherd Pike published his book, The Prostrate State: South Carolina under Negro Government describing a legislature that was dominated by blacks.
      On September 14 about 3,500 armed White Leaguers invaded New Orleans, and on Canal Street they defeated the police and seized city hall, the statehouse, and the arsenal. General Longstreet had 11 men killed and was one of the 60 wounded. The Crescent City White Leaguers lost 21 killed and had 19 wounded. Democrats claimed the government, and Republican Gov. William Pitt Kellogg retreated to the US Customs House. Grant responded the next day ordering the rebels to disperse within five days. About 5,000 US troops were dispatched with three gunboats, and they defeated the insurgency by September 17. Republicans counted the votes and threw out those from violent parishes. A Congressional delegation negotiated a compromise that recognized Kellogg as governor and gave Democrats control over the lower chamber in the legislature.
      Many people reacted against the federal incursions, and in the November elections the Democrats gained 94 seats in the US House of Representatives giving them a 181-107 advantage. They picked up 9 more seats in the US Senate reducing the Republican majority to 42-28. For the first time since the election of 1856 the Democrats took over the committees in the House, and half the new chairmen were southerners. They began investigating the Grant Administration. In the six states west of the Mississippi all but one of the 12 US Senators were Republicans. Democrats won New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois, and in the South they regained control of the state governments in Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama.
      On November 18 the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was founded at Cleveland, Ohio in order to work for ending the liquor traffic. Delegates from 17 states elected Mrs. Annie Wittenmyer president and Frances Willard, former president of the Chicago temperance union, as corresponding secretary.
      In his 6th Annual Message to Congress on December 7 Grant recognized that labor and capital were both “largely unemployed.” He wrote,

The greater part of the burden of existing prostration,
for the want of a sound financial system,
falls upon the working man,
who must after all produce the wealth,
and the salaried man,
who superintends and conducts business.8

He believed that a specie-based currency using the gold and silver standard would be most stable, and he considered free banking essential. He noted that relations were friendly with China and Britain, and he hoped for improvement with Japan. He also discussed issues of immigration and naturalization. He suggested increasing revenues from tariffs while reducing the number of articles affected. He commended education by public schools and the postal service. He expressed concern over conflicts in the southern states, and he hoped that executive interference would become less needed. He wrote,

Under existing conditions the negro votes the Republican
ticket because he knows his friends are of that party.
Many a good citizen votes the opposite,
not because he agrees with the great principles of state
which separate parties, but because,
generally, he is opposed to negro rule.
This is a most delusive cry.
Treat the negro as a citizen and a voter,
as he is and must remain, and soon
parties will be divided, not on the color line, but on principle.
Then we shall have no complaint of sectional interference.9

      On December 24 Grant sent General Sheridan to inspect and report on Louisiana and Mississippi without informing General Sherman or the division commander, General Irwin McDowell.

Grant & US Depression in 1875

      The Louisiana legislature convened on 4 January 1875, and Democrats took the five contested seats in the House. General Sheridan found that in Louisiana his friend, General William Emory, had become old and weak; but he had Emory send in troops who removed those five Democrats as the other Democrats walked out in protest. Then Republicans elected a speaker and organized the House. Sheridan took command in New Orleans, and the next day he wired War Secretary Belknap urging the arrest and trial of the White Leagues. Radical Republicans supported this, but Democrats and Liberal Republicans were critical. The US Senate asked for a report, and on January 13 President Grant described the atrocities of the White Leagues and promised that he would end the disorders, explaining,

I have deplored the necessity which seemed to make it
my duty under the Constitution and laws
to direct such interference….
To the extent that Congress
has conferred power upon me to prevent it
neither Ku Klux Klans, White Leagues,
nor any other association using arms and violence
to execute their unlawful purposes can be permitted
in that way to govern any part of this country;
nor can I see with indifference Union men or Republicans
ostracized, persecuted, and murdered on account of
their opinions, as they now are in some localities.10

Within a week Sheridan reported that the White Leaguers were arranging to surrender to civil authorities to avoid being under his jurisdiction. A congressional committee led by George F. Hoar investigated Louisiana and mediated a truce with Democrats in control of the lower House and with Republicans in charge of the Louisiana Senate. Sheridan left New Orleans but retained control of the Gulf Department and chose General Christopher Augur to replace Emory.
      Senator John Sherman had crafted a compromise bill to resume specie payment, and on January 14 Grant signed the Resumption Act which resumed minting silver dimes, quarters, and half-dollars while providing more bank notes and limited greenbacks. Grant considered his veto of the inflation bill and approving the Resumption Act his most important actions as President. They balanced the economic desires of western farmers and eastern businesses. On January 25 the US Congress appropriated $30,000 to relieve farmers in the West.
      The US Congress passed the Civil Rights Act in February, and Grant signed it on March 1. The law stated,

All persons within the jurisdiction of the United States
shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment
of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges
of inns, public conveyances on land or water,
theaters, and other places of public amusement.11

No citizen was to be disqualified from jury duty based on race, color, or previous servitude. This same year Tennessee passed a public accommodations statute stating that hotel keepers, carriers of passengers and keepers of places of amusement have the right to control access and exclude persons as “that of any private person over his private house.” Sojourner Truth visited President Grant to thank him and was pleased that he treated her with mutual respect and sympathy. The Civil Rights Act was rarely enforced, and the US Supreme Court would declare it unconstitutional in 1883, the year Truth died at about the age of 86.
      The Congress in 1868 had established revenue supervisors to root out the frauds from the tax on whiskey. When Grant went to an agricultural fair at St. Louis in October 1874, he learned that half of the 70-cent tax on whiskey was going to a ring of crooks, and this money was used to aid Republican politicians in Missouri. That month Treasury Secretary Bristow had sent revenue inspectors to St. Louis, and they discovered the Whiskey Ring and suspected the revenue inspector John A. McDonald. Bristow in April summoned McDonald to his Washington office. McDonald asked the Treasury solicitor Buford Wilson for immunity and resigned on April 23. A report estimated that at least 12 million gallons of whiskey escaped being taxed each year. Bristow learned from the St. Louis Merchants Exchange statistics that two-thirds of whiskey produced in that city paid no tax. Distillers bribed politicians to prevent investigations and newspapers to avoid publicity, but in early May the St. Louis Democrat exposed the scandal.
      Bristow informed Grant on May 7, and three days later many raids in St. Louis, Chicago, and Milwaukee led to over 350 indictments. Documents obtained showed that $4 million in taxes on whiskey had been evaded in the past two years. Bristow told Grant that his private secretary Orville Babcock was a friend of McDonald who had fraudulently gained $160,000 and was planning to leave New York on a steamer. Yet Grant believed Babcock and suspected that Bristow was being too zealous because he wanted to run for President. Wilson also informed Grant that his advisor Horace Porter and Babcock were in the Whiskey Ring. Babcock had sent McDonald a telegram on February 3 saying, “We have official information that the enemy weakens. Push things. Sylph.”12 Porter informed Wilson that Sylph referred to the blonde Louise Hawkins who was intimate with Grant and that Babcock had explained to McDonald that she was making trouble for the President. McDonald was convicted on November 22 and spent time in jail.
      David P. Dyer, the US Attorney in St. Louis, had enough evidence on Babcock to bring him to a grand jury which charged him with tax fraud on November 4. Babcock requested a military court of inquiry on December 2, and Grant designated three favorable generals who acquitted him. One week later Dyer got a grand jury indictment of Babcock for a civilian trial on tax revenue fraud for a million gallons of whiskey. Although Grant was not involved in the Whiskey Ring, he had difficulty believing that his private secretary Babcock was. Grant defended him and refused to ask for his resignation. Yet the President did not want any guilty man to escape, and in January 1876 he ordered Attorney General Pierrepont to give no more immunity to the Whiskey Ring. During Babcock’s trial on February 12 the prosecutor Lucien Eaton questioned Grant for five hours at the White House, and Babcock’s lawyer cross-examined him. This deposition helped acquit Babcock on the 28th. Secretary of State Fish persuaded Grant to dismiss Babcock, and Grant assigned his sons Fred and Ulysses Jr. to be his private secretaries. Babcock was also Superintendent of Public Buildings in Washington and resigned on June 20. In February 1877 Grant appointed him a lighthouse inspector.
      Attorney General George Williams had resigned in April 1875 after his wife was exposed for having accepted a bribe of $30,000 from the indicted mercantile business Pratt & Boyd. Grant appointed US attorney Edwards Pierrepont who had effectively prosecuted the Tweed Ring in New York.
      On May 27 the Pennsylvania Republican Party held a convention and endorsed Grant for a third term. Two days later Grant sent them a letter stating that he would not accept nomination for a third term, and the New York Times printed it on page one the next day.
      On May 31 the US Senate ratified the Reciprocity Treaty with Hawaii that allowed the importation of Hawaiian products such as sugar and rice tax-free for seven years, and King Kalākaua agreed not to tax American imports.
      Grant spoke to 30,000 people at the Chautauqua summer camps in August 1875. After meeting with 2,500 children at Moore’s Opera House at Des Moines on September 30, Grant was inspired to speak on education at a Tennessee Army reunion that night. His speech was printed in Harper’s Weekly on 30 October 1875. He said,

The free school is the promoter of that intelligence
which is to preserve us as a free nation….
If we are to have another contest in the near future
of our national existence, I predict that
the dividing line will not be Mason and Dixon’s,
but between patriotism and intelligence on the one side
and superstition, ambition and ignorance on the other….
Let us all labor to add all needful guarantees
for the more perfect security of Free Thought, Free Speech,
a Free Press, Pure Morals, Unfettered Religious Sentiment
and of Equal Right and Privileges to all men
irrespective of Nationality, Color or Religion….
Leave the matter of religion to the family circle,
the church & the private school
supported entirely by private contributions.
Keep the church and state forever separate.13

      On September 4 a riot in Clinton, Mississippi led to armed white Democrats shooting and killing about 50 blacks in Hinds County. On the 8th Mississippi’s Gov. Adelbert Ames asked for federal forces to quell the violence. Ohio Republicans warned Grant that if he intervened again in Mississippi, they would lose the Ohio election on October 13. The US Attorney General Pierrepont advised letting the state militia enforce the laws, but Ames replied that using the state militia, who were mostly black, could provoke a race war. Pierrepont persuaded Grant that Mississippi was peaceful and did not need federal troops. Ames on September 21 called for volunteers to form a black and white militia, and he ordered muskets; but not one man came forward. On November 2 in the Mississippi election Democrats used intimidation to regain control of the government. The White Liners had won without attacking the black militia. Blacks had a large majority in Yazoo County, but Republicans there got only 7 votes. Ames lamented that a revolution had disenfranchised a race and returned his state to serfdom.
      In his 7th Annual Message to Congress on December 7 Grant noted that the population of the United States was over 40 million. He wrote,

Our liberties remain unimpaired;
the bondmen have been freed from slavery;
we have become possessed of the respect,
if not the friendship, of all civilized nations.
Our progress has been great in the arts—
in science, agriculture, commerce, navigation, mining,
mechanics, law, medicine, etc.;
and in general education
the progress is likewise encouraging.”14

He made important points about education.

We are a republic whereof one man is
as good as another before the law.
Under such a form of government
it is of the greatest importance that all should be
possessed of education and intelligence enough
to cast a vote with a right understanding of its meaning.
A large association of ignorant men can not
for any considerable period oppose a successful resistance
to tyranny and oppression from the educated few,
but will inevitably sink into acquiescence
to the will of intelligence,
whether directed by the demagogue or by priestcraft.
Hence the education of the masses becomes
of the first necessity for the preservation of our institutions.
They are worth preserving, because they have secured
the greatest good to the greatest proportion
of the population of any form of government yet devised.
All other forms of government approach it just in proportion
to the general diffusion of education
and independence of thought and action.
As the primary step, therefore, to our advancement
in all that has marked our progress in the past century,
I suggest for your earnest consideration,
and most earnestly recommend it,
that a constitutional amendment be submitted
to the legislatures of the several States for ratification,
making it the duty of each of the several States to establish
and forever maintain free public schools
adequate to the education of all the children
in the rudimentary branches within their respective limits,
irrespective of sex, color, birthplace, or religions.15

He suggested that all land should be taxed equally including property owned by churches and corporations. He estimated church property at $1 billion, and he predicted that if left untaxed, it would triple by the end of the century. Then he discussed his peaceful policies with other nations. He affirmed that the US liberally grants citizenship to immigrants and also recognizes the right of expatriation. Grant also reported on the nation’s finances and defense.

      One week later Congressman James G. Blaine introduced an amendment that would prohibit tax money being used for parochial schools, but his bill did not include establishing free schools for all children or for banning religion in public schools. The House passed the bill, but it failed narrowly in the Senate.

Grant’s US Indian Policy 1873-76

Grant’s US Indian Policy 1869-72

      The small tribe of Modocs had lived around Lake Tule near the Oregon-California border, but in 1864 the US Army had forced them to move to a reservation 25 miles to the north where the Klamath and Yahooskin also lived. In 1865 Kintpuash, who was called “Captain Jack,” led some Modocs back to their ancestral home. In 1869 the US Army made them return to the Klamath Reservation. After conflicts with the Klamath in April 1870 Kintpuash led 180 Modocs back to Lake Tule. On 29 November 1872 Captain James Jackson and the First Cavalry near Lost River started disarming Modocs, and in a scuffle one Modoc and two troopers were killed. Some vigilante ranchers attacked Modocs, and in the fighting the Modocs killed 16 settlers. On the night of 16-17 January 1873 about 300 US soldiers and 100 cavalry led by Lt. Col. Frank Wheaton tried to disarm Captain Jack’s stronghold; but they suffered 37 casualties while no Modocs were hurt. On January 25 US President Grant and Interior Secretary Delano appointed the Methodist minister Alfred Meacham to lead the Modoc Peace Commission, and on January 31 Grant ordered General Sherman to stop the fighting and make peace.
      During a negotiation on April 11 Captain Jack and the Modocs insisted they wanted to live in the lava beds where whites do not live. Canby told Captain Jack that only the “great father in Washington” could remove the troops, and Jack said they wanted peace without soldiers bothering them. After talking broke down, Jack drew a pistol and shot General Canby dead. The Methodist minister Eleazar Thomas was also killed, and Meacham was severely wounded.
      General Sherman wired General John M. Schofield, “Any measure of severity to the savages will be sustained.”16 General Jefferson C. Davis was sent with 1,000 soldiers to crush the Modoc resistance. Col. Alvin Gillem led 675 troops against Captain Jack’s stronghold and killed 3 men and 8 women while losing 7 killed and 13 wounded by April 17. On the 26th Scarface Charley with 34 Modocs attacked a patrol of 67 killing the 5 officers and 20 soldiers while wounding 16. On May 10 each side had 5 killed at Dry Lake, but after the death of a prominent Modoc with food and water becoming scarce Hooker Jim, who had been captured, persuaded 37 Modocs to surrender on May 28. Captain Jack escaped, but he and his family were captured on June 4.
      In a military trial 6 Modocs were convicted and sentenced to death on July 8. Granted commuted the death penalty for two, and Captain Jack and three other leaders were hanged at Fort Klamath on October 3. The remaining 153 Modocs were removed from Oregon as prisoners of war to the Quapaw Agency in the Indian Territory (Oklahoma). In the Modoc war 53 warriors killed 55 soldiers including 7 officers, 16 civilians, and 2 Indian scouts. Only 17 Modoc warriors died in the fighting, and the 4 were executed.

      Comanches and others fought white hunters who were killing so many buffalo. In the first battle at Adobe Walls on 25 November 1864 Col. Kit Carson led 335 soldiers and 72 native scouts against about 1,400 Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache warriors who had 60 killed and many wounded while the soldiers had only 6 killed and 28 wounded. Between 1872 and 1874 white hunters would kill about 4,374,000 buffalo in the herds south of the Platte River while native tribes killed a little over one million. Some such as George Reighard slaughtered tens of thousands for their skins and left their bodies to rot on the banks of the Arkansas River. As a result the southern herd was devastated by 1875 affecting Comanches, Kiowas, and Cheyenne. In the north the Lakota Sioux maintained the bison herds.
      On 27 June 1874 Comanche Chief Quanah Parker, son of Chief Peta Nocona and the captive Ann Cynthia Parker, led about 700 Comanche with at least 250 Southern Cheyenne, Kiowa, and Arapaho warriors in a fight against 28 buffalo hunters and tradesmen at the Adobe Walls trading post in north Texas. The native warriors killed four men and suffered much greater casualties. This began the Red River War. Chief Lone Wolf led a Kiowa attack against Texas Rangers on July 12, and on the 20th General Sherman wired General Sheridan to take the offensive. In August the US Army attempted to disarm a band of Kiowas and Comanches who were collecting annuities at the Wichita agency. They removed 71 Comanches, Kiowas, and Cheyenne to a prison in Florida. Col. Nelson Miles with a force 774 men defeated about 200 Cheyenne at the Staked Plains escarpment on August 30.
      About 250 Kiowa and Comanche warriors with Lone Wolf, Satanta, and Big Tree attacked the supply train of the augmented force of Col. Miles on September 9 until Major William Price and the 8th Cavalry drove them away on the 12th. On the night of September 26-27 the Comanches attacked Col. Ranald Mackenzie’s camp near Tule Canyon. The next day Mackenzie led 400 cavalry and defeated about 1,500 Cheyenne, Kiowa, Arapaho, and Comanche allies at Palo Duro Canyon, killing about 55. They stole 1,424 Indian ponies, and after selecting the 400 best horses the army slaughtered the rest. Satanta and other Kiowa chiefs surrendered on October 7 at the Darlington Agency. Chief Quanah Parker eventually gave up on 2 June 1875 and moved with 407 Quahadi Comanches to the reservation in the Indian Territory.

      Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer had explored Sioux territory with a thousand men, and in July 1874 he reported that two miners had found a little gold in the Black Hills. General Sheridan sent troops led by generals Alfred Terry and George Crook to the Black Hills, and they removed the miners. In 1875 the Newton-Jenney expedition escorted by Lt. Col. Richard Irving Dodge’s force discovered more gold which brought more miners. On November 3 War Secretary Belknap, Interior Secretary Chandler, and generals Sheridan and Crook persuaded President Grant to stop enforcing the ban on miners. The activities of miners in the sacred Black Hills would provoke the Lakota War in 1876, but Red Cloud would not join the fighting.
      In his 6th Annual Message to Congress on 7 December 1874 President Grant recommended extending homestead laws to Indians and Territorial government for the Indian Territory. He had met with Chief Red Cloud, Spotted Tail, and other Lakota leaders in June 1870, and they asked him to enforce the peace treaty of 1868. At another meeting in 1875 the President offered to pay the Sioux $25,000 if they would move to the Indian Territory; but Spotted Tail and the others rejected that.
      On 13 March 1875 President Grant approved a plan by generals Sherman and Sheridan to banish war chiefs and leading warriors from the southern Plains, and 74 were chained and moved to what became Fort Marion in St. Augustine, Florida where they were imprisoned for three years. Lt. Richard H. Pratt supervised them with kindness and organized English classes and crafts. Also in March the US Army forced about 1,500 Yavapai and Dilzhe’e Apache (a.k.a. Tonto Apache) living at the Yavapai-Apache Camp Verde Reservation to move 180 miles to the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona.

      William Belknap had been a revenue collector in Iowa for four years until Grant made him War Secretary in October 1869. Belknap’s second wife Carita liked luxury. At Fort Sill in the Indian Territory in 1870 she made a deal with the official trader John S. Evans who agreed to kick back $12,000 a year that was split by her husband and businessman Caleb Marsh. Carita died of tuberculosis after childbirth in December 1870, but Evans continued to pay Marsh and Belknap who then married Carita’s sister Amanda in December 1873. Belknap got $10,000 from Evans.
      Belknap, knowing that Congress was going to reveal incriminating evidence against him, on 2 March 1876 went to the White House with Interior Secretary Chandler and persuaded Grant to accept his resignation immediately. The Democrat Rep. Hiester Clymer of Pennsylvania led an investigation of the Indian Ring, and in March the House of Representatives was preparing to impeach Belknap. Grant was unaware of this when he accepted his resignation.
      Grant had asked Maine’s Senator Lot Morill to be Secretary of War; but he declined, and the President appointed the judge Alphonso Taft of Cincinnati. At a cabinet meeting on March 31 Attorney General Pierrepont urged the criminal prosecution of Belknap, and the US Senate began his trial on April 5. In his closing argument Belknap’s lawyer Jeremiah Black compared his acceptance of money to Grant’s receiving houses and other gifts from supporters after the Civil War. On August 1 the Senate failed to get a two-thirds vote to convict Belknap.
      Yale’s Paleontology professor Othniel Marsh sent Grant a letter describing the corruption at the Red Cloud Agency where Indians were given bad pork, flour, tobacco, and cheap goods. He called Interior Secretary Delano incompetent and wrote,

You alone have the will and the power to destroy
that combination of bad men, known as the Indian Ring,
who are debasing this service, and thwarting the efforts
of all who endeavor to bring to a full consummation
your noble policy of peace.17

      Treasury Secretary Bristow had resigned in June and warned Grant that Interior Secretary Delano was connected to the Indian Ring that was exploiting the native tribes through his son John Delano who worked for the department and got involved in corruption in the Wyoming Territory. In July the New York Times reported that the President’s brother Orvil Grant was also involved in those crimes. Secretary Delano resigned on September 30. The New York Herald in February 1876 had accused Orvil of taking kickbacks from Indian trading posts. President Grant appointed the former Michigan Senator Zachariah Chandler as Interior Secretary, and he worked to reform the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Pension Bureau and Land Office, and the Patent Office by replacing corrupt clerks.
      On November 3 Grant held a secret meeting with War Secretary Belknap, Interior Secretary Chandler, and the generals Sheridan and Crook. They persuaded him to transform his peace policy toward the Indians. The Lakota were allowed to stay in the Black Hills, but the US Army would no longer intervene in clashes between aggressive settlers and the natives. They decided to order the non-treaty Lakota to report to their agencies by 31 January 1876 in the middle of winter. On November 9 Sheridan sent secret orders to General Alfred Terry to mobilize his forces, and General Crook was sent back to the Department of the Platte. Not until December 3 did Secretary Chandler direct the Indian Bureau to notify Sitting Bull and other chiefs they had to report by January 31, or the US Army would force them. On February 8 Sheridan ordered Terry to march west with Custer’s 7th Cavalry while Crook was to move north from Fort Fetterman. Heavy snow prevented Terry from leaving Fort Abraham Lincoln.
      Crook’s column with six companies of cavalry led by Col. Joseph Reynolds on March 17 attacked and burned a village of Northern Cheyenne by Powder River in the Montana Territory. Col. George Custer in late March testified to Clymer’s committee and accused War Secretary Belknap of corruption, and he implied that Grant had changed the boundary of the Sioux reservation. Grant told generals Sherman and Sheridan that he did not want the flamboyant Custer involved in the campaign against Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, but the President changed his mind about that on May 8. Custer had graduated last in his class at West Point in June 1861, but in 1863 he was the youngest person to become a US General.
      Crook’s army of 1,051 men began marching north on May 29. On June 17 with some Crow, Shoshoni, and armed civilians they attacked about a thousand Sioux and Northern Cheyenne at Rosebud River. They fought for six hours until the Indians escaped. Chief Crazy Horse, who had been resisting the army since 1865, claimed they had fewer casualties.
      On June 25 General Custer with only about 263 cavalry and without waiting for other forces attacked the Sioux near the Little Bighorn River. He and his men fought about 2,500 Lakota Sioux. The cavalry killed their own horses to use them for bulwarks, but all the soldiers were killed. Col. Marcus Reno led 112 soldiers who were also defeated and retreated. The Lakota and Cheyenne continued the fight against forces led by Reno and Captain Benteen until the next day.
      The Great Sioux War went on, and the US Army used native scouts. On August 11 Grant asked the Congress to add 2,500 men to the cavalry. On September 9 and 10 General Crook with about 1,200 soldiers defeated some 700 Sioux led by Crazy Horse. Only 13 men were killed in the battle at Slim Buttes on the Sioux Reservation, but 23 Lakota were captured. On November 25 Col. Mackenzie with about a thousand men defeated some 400 Northern Cheyenne led by Dull Knife, Little Wolf, and Hooked Nose at Red Fork in the Wyoming Territory killing 40 while losing seven who died.
      Newton Edmunds had brought samples of the gold to the White House in August. On September 12 the New York Herald reported that Grant said, “When the mines shall have been thoroughly explored, as much gold will be found there as in California.” That statement caused another gold rush even though Grant warned people to stay away “until the present troubles are over.”
      In his 8th Annual Message to Congress on 5 December 1876 President Grant wrote, “Hostilities there have grown out of the avarice of the white man, who has violated our treaty stipulations in his search for gold.”18 When Lakota chiefs came to negotiate with Col. Miles on December 16, Crow scouts attacked them.
      In addition to the Indian Territory between Texas and Kansas, there were reservations in 1876 in western Texas, the states of Minnesota, Colorado, and Oregon and in the territories of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Washington.

      In the 1860s the Chiricahua Chief Cochise had been leading small raids in southeast Arizona, southwest New Mexico and northern Mexico, going back and forth across the national border. On 5 October 1869 Cochise led a band of Chokonens in an attack just east of Dragoon Springs that massacred those in a mail stagecoach that included four soldiers the driver Kaler and John Finkle Stone who owned the Apache Pass mine.
      Near the end of August 1870 the Chiricahua Chief Cochise met with Major John Green at Camp Mogollon that later was named Fort Apache. Cochise said he had been fighting in self-defense and for revenge since Mexicans had killed his father and brothers during a parley. He wanted to make peace and stop the fighting.
      On 30 April 1871 at Camp Grant in the Arizona Territory six white and 48 Mexican Americans helped 92 Tohono O’odhams slaughter 136 Pinal and Aravaipa Apache women and children and 8 men. The O’odhams 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.
      On 12 August 1871 General Crook arrived at Fort Apache. On September 4 Cochise led 25 warriors and stole a herd of 54 horses and 7 mules so that he could leave Arizona and move his people to Cañada Alamosa in New Mexico Territory. That month Cochise began meeting with his friend Tom Jeffords. On October 17 Nathaniel Pope, New Mexico’s Superintendent of Indian Affairs, wrote to Washington that Cochise, Victorio, and Loco wanted to live at Cañada Alamosa.
      On 12 October 1872 Indian Commissioner Oliver Howard with help from Chiricahua Chief Cochise’s friend Thomas Jeffords, the Indian agent in the region, negotiated a peace treaty with Cochise that separated them from the Mescalero Apaches. About 5,000 Apaches and Yavapais (Mohave Apaches) got rations from reservations, but Apache raids continued. On November 15 General Crook began going after hostile Apaches in the Tonto Basin. In 20 battles his soldiers killed 200 Indians including 76 Yavapi Apaches at Salt River Canyon on December 28. After the battle at Turret Peak on 27 March 1873 that killed 23 Apaches, there was a lull in the fighting. Cochise died on 8 June 1874. Jeffords helped maintain peace at the Chiricahua Reservation; but he was accused of being an “Indian lover” and was removed in 1875 when the Chiricahua were moved to the San Carlos Reservation.
      Isaac Parker was a US Judge for the Western District of Arkansas 1875-96 and tried 13,490 cases, and in at least 8,500 the defendants pleaded guilty or were convicted. Parker sentenced 160 to death, and 79 were executed, many in the Indian Territory.

Grant & United States Elections in 1876

      On 27 March 1876 the US Supreme Court in United States v. Reese with an 8-1 vote severely restricted the effect of the 15th Amendment by holding that it did not protect the right to vote but only prohibited excluding voters based on race. On March 31 the black US Senator Blanche Bruce of Mississippi said,

We want peace and good order at the South;
but it can only come by the fullest recognition
of the rights of all citizens….
We simply demand the practical recognition of the rights
given us in the Constitution and laws,
and ask from our white fellow citizens only the consideration
and fairness that we so willingly extend to them.19

      The US Congress declared April 14 a holiday, and Frederick Douglass spoke at the dedication of a statue of Lincoln standing next to a kneeling slave, saying,

Abraham Lincoln was not, in the fullest sense of the word,
either our man or our model.
In his interests, in his associations, in his habits of thought,
and in his prejudices, he was a white man.
   He was preeminently the white man’s President,
entirely devoted to the welfare of white men.
He was ready and willing at any time during the first years
of his administration to deny, postpone, and sacrifice
the rights of humanity in the colored people to promote
the welfare of the white people of this country.20

      On April 18 President Grant vetoed a bill that would have cut his salary. During his eight years Grant vetoed 93 bills, and only four were overridden.
      In the spring Attorney General Pierrepont left to be minister to England, and Grant replaced him with the War Secretary Alphonso Taft. The wealthy James D. Cameron became Secretary of War as his corrupt father Simon Cameron had been for Lincoln. Senator Lot M. Morrill of Maine accepted the position as Treasury Secretary. Postmaster Jewell resigned in July, and Grant promoted his assistant James N. Tyner of Indiana.
      On May 10 on the 284 acres of Fairmount Park in Philadelphia the Centennial Exposition opened with the “Centennial Inaugural March” composed by Richard Wagner and a hymn by the poet John Greenleaf Whittier. Then President Grant spoke to a crowd of 186,672 people proudly claiming that the United States could compete with “older and more advanced nations in law, medicine and theology—in science, literature, philosophy, and the fine arts.” Then Grant with Brazil’s Emperor Dom Pedro and the Empress Dona Maria Leopoldina started the gigantic steam engine designed by George H. Corliss that supplied 1,499 horsepower to the exhibits. Black women helped raise money for the Exposition but got no place in the Women’s Pavilion where the engineer Emma Allison had a high-speed 6-horsepower engine. Black Americans were represented only by the statue of “The Freed Slave” in Memorial Hall. Exhibits were provided by 26 states and 37 foreign nations. American progress was symbolized by four new wonders: electric light, the telephone, the phonograph, and the microphone. Also on display were Remington’s typewriter, an ice box that used ammonia for refrigeration, a refrigerated railway car, the Westinghouse air brake, Edison’s duplex telegraph, and a press that prints, cuts, and stacks two-sided sheets. People saw the huge arm and torch that was going to be sent to New York harbor for the Statue of Liberty. The Centennial Exposition would close on November 10.
      On May 17 in Cleveland the National Prohibition Reform Party nominated General Green Clay Smith, a Baptist minister of Washington DC, for President and the lawyer Gideon T. Stewart of Ohio for Vice President. They would get only 9,737 votes.
      On June 9 Grant showed his respect for Jewish religion by attending the dedication of the orthodox Adas Israel synagogue in Washington staying three hours during a Hebrew prayer and a sermon in English on Jacob. The lawyer and diplomat Simon Wolf, when he was serving President Wilson, said that Grant did more for Americans of Jewish faith than any other President.
      Democrats in the US House of Representatives investigated Navy Secretary George M. Robeson and discovered in July that while earning a salary of $8,000 a year he deposited $320,000 in his bank account which came from bribes by the grain merchants A. G. Cattell & Company for the food they supplied to the US Government on a $30,000 contract that Robeson arranged. Cattell also gave him a vacation home at Long Branch, New York. Unable to find much evidence, the committee decided not to recommend impeachment. Republicans filed a minority report that exonerated him, and Robeson retained his position to the end of Grant’s presidency.
      On July 4 the white-supremacist Red Shirts in a riot killed six people in Hamburg, South Carolina. The black mayor Prince Rivers issued warrants for 87 white men for suppressing voters. That year the legislature would elect one of them, Matthew Butler, to the US Senate. On July 22 Gov. Daniel Chamberlain wrote to Grant asking him to send federal troops to stop the “campaign of violence.” Grant promised to give aid but did not send troops. That summer the Red Shirts supported Wade Hampton III for governor, and US Attorney David Corbin described the terror used to keep witnesses from testifying. In October after two blacks in Ellenton were accused of entering the home of a white woman and striking her with a stick, hundreds of armed whites killed at least 17 blacks. On the 11th Gov. Chamberlain wrote Grant about the violence. Six days later Grant ordered the murdering rifle clubs to go home, and War Secretary Cameron sent troops. Although a thousand federal troops went to South Carolina before the election, they did not stop all the violence. In the South only South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana were still being governed by Republicans.
      Grant secretly hoped that Republicans would nominate for President one of his allies—Conkling, Morton, or James Blaine. In February rumors had spread that Blaine had received $64,000 for his Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad bonds that were nearly worthless. On May 31 the testimony of the clerk James Mulligan had proof that Blaine had accepted a bribe, though Blaine managed to get the incriminating letter away from Mulligan. On June 3 the New York Times published the scandal with the headline “Blaine’s Nomination Now Out of the Question.” Grant’s adversary Carl Schurz urged the Liberal Republicans to nominate Bristow. Grant’s wife, who liked being First Lady, and many blacks wanted Grant to run for a third term.
      On March 29 at the Ohio Republican State Convention 750 delegates had unanimously endorsed Ohio’s Governor Rutherford B. Hayes for President. At the Republican convention in Cincinnati that June the party’s platform criticized the Grant administration as

a corrupt centralism which, after inflicting upon ten states
the rapacity of carpetbag tyranny,
has honeycombed the offices of the federal government
itself with incapacity, waste, and fraud.22

The skilled orator Robert Ingersoll of Illinois nominated James G. Blaine, and on the first six ballots he had by far the most votes but not a majority. Then most of those supporting Conkling, Bristow, Morton, and Hartranft voted for Rutherford B. Hayes giving him the nomination 384-351. They chose New York Rep. William A. Wheeler for Vice President on the first ballot. Grant telegraphed his support for Hayes.
      Hayes in his acceptance letter on July 8 promised that he would serve only one term so that he would not be tempted to use patronage to aid his re-election. He campaigned on civil service reform to end the corrupt spoils system, and he reassured southerners that he would support their interests. Grant, who was the only President to serve two consecutive terms between Jackson and Wilson, felt that the one-term pledge by Hayes criticized him. Interior Secretary Chandler managed the Hayes campaign and was chairman of the Republican National Committee.
      The Democratic convention began in St. Louis on June 27, and they nominated the current New York Governor Samuel J. Tilden on the first ballot, and then they chose Gov. Thomas A. Hendricks of Indiana unanimously for Vice President. Tilden as a lawyer had defended fugitive slaves, and he became famous for successfully investigating the corrupt Tweed Ring in New York. He opposed Reconstruction and expected to win most of the southern states. The Tilden campaign sent out over 27 million pieces of literature.
      On August 1 Colorado was admitted as a state, and the legislature would choose 3 electors for the Republican candidate Hayes for President. After 1876 Colorado would give electors to the winner of the national popular vote.
      In September the US Marshal James H. Pierce in Oxford, Mississippi told US Attorney General Taft that a “reign of terror” in three counties made Republicans afraid to vote. Grant sent three companies of soldiers. White Liners scared off black voters by making them reveal their employers before they could vote. Only two Republicans voted in Yazoo County and only one in Tallahatchie County. Whites also used intimidation in Louisiana on election day as rifle clubs and White Liners targeted blacks.
      On October 17 President Grant proclaimed there was an insurrection in South Carolina, and he ordered “all persons engaged in unlawful and insurrectionary proceedings to disperse and retire peacefully.” General Sherman was to direct Federal forces to the Atlantic Division’s General Thomas H. Ruger in Columbia. Ruger announced that they would maintain order impartially.
      The election for President on November 7 was the first one that was held by Federal law on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. The Democrat Tilden received 4,288,546 votes with 184 electoral votes from 17 states. The Republican Hayes got 4,034,311 votes with at least 166 electoral votes from 18 states. Tilden was one electoral vote short of having a majority with South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida not yet decided because both parties were claiming victory. At a cabinet meeting on November 14 Grant decided to send Senator John Sherman and Rep. James Garfield to New Orleans to witness the counting of votes, and Democrats appointed an equal number of observers. Grant also ordered military officers to make sure the votes were counted honestly in those three southern states, and many death threats were made against him.
      On November 24 the Republican Gov. Chamberlain of South Carolina told Grant that he was re-elected but that Democrats were planning to recognize Wade Hampton as the new governor. Grant instructed War Secretary Cameron to make sure that Chamberlain was still governor and that he was to be protected from violence. Then he advised Col. Ruger not to make an “unlawful use of the Military.” They were to provide peace so that states could resolve their disputes, and on December 3 the President assured Tilden’s campaign manager, Rep. Hewitt of New York, that he would recognize Tilden if he was lawfully elected. On the 6th the Louisiana board of elections rejected 13,250 Democratic votes and 2,042 Republican votes, giving Hayes a victory by 4,807 votes. On that day the Electoral College met in state capitals but found that the election was contested in South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana. Seven members of the US Senate met with seven from the House on December 14, and they decided to set up a bipartisan Electoral Commission with five members from each house and five from the US Supreme Court to resolve the electoral crisis.
      In his 8th and last Annual Message to Congress on December 5 Grant reviewed the main events of his presidency. He began by admitting, “It was my fortune, or misfortune, to be called to the office of Chief Executive without any previous political training.”23 Grant admitted that errors of judgment had occurred, and he claimed that hostilities with Indians over gold had been resolved by a treaty that ceded the Black Hills. He reported his accomplishments, writing that taxes had been reduced by $300 million; the national debt went down over $435 million; and annual interest payments fell by $30 million. A negative trade balance of $130 million in 1869 became a surplus of $120 million. He helped get the 15th Amendment ratified. Relations with foreign nations were fairly good and especially were improved with Britain. The US Army had been active in regard to the Indians and in trying to keep the peace in the South. He noted the improvements in agriculture and praised the Centennial Exhibition. Little or no mention was made of the economic depression, the increasing wealth of some capitalists, and the massive unemployment since 1873. Scandals by officers in his administration brought much criticism.


1. Messages and Papers of the Presidents 1789-1908 ed. James D. Richardson, Volume 7, p. 221-222.
2. Grant by Ron Chernow, p. 758.
3. The People’s Chronology by James Trager, p. 530.
4. Ibid., p. 527.
5. Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Volume 7, p. 269.
5. The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass by Philip S. Foner, Volume 4, p. 282.
6. Trial by Fire: A People’s History of the Civil War and Reconstruction by Page Smith, p. 896.
7. Ibid., p. 901.
8. Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Volume 7, p. 287.
9. Ibid., p. 299.
10. Ibid., p. 313.
11. Documents of American History ed. Henry Steele Commager, p. 536.
12. Grant by Ron Chernow, p. 798.
13. Harper’s Weekly October 30, 1875.
14. Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Volume 7, p. 332.
15. Ibid., p. 334.
16. Chronicle of the Indian Wars by Alan Axelrod, p. 216.
17. Grant by Ron Chernow, p. 831.
18. Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Volume 7, p. 401.
19. The Negro in American History, Volume II: A Taste of Freedom 1854-1927, p. 225, 226.
21. The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass by Philip S. Foner, Volume 4, p. 312.
22. Grant by Ron Chernow, p. 827.
23. Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Volume 7, p. 399.

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