« ZurückWeiter »
Hayes. Thus, having their vote cast for the candidate to whose election they were opposed, the people of South Carolina watched the course of events in Washington with breathless interest; for, on the national result, hinged the home result. If Tilden became President, the reconstruction epoch ended at once and of itself. It had come to its term. If, on the contrary, the Washington turmoil resulted in the presidency of Hayes, it would be by virtue of electoral votes secured through the returning-board machinery. Hayes was at last declared elected. The question in South Carolina then became local. Could the white man's ascendency be secured from the general wreck? All overt action was in abeyance, the opposing factions intently observing each the movements of the other pending developments in Washington. As chairman of the Democratic State Executive Committee, Haskell's field of activity was now necessarily transferred to Washington; for, however the presidential contest might result, national committals, one way or the other, must precede any final overt act at Columbia. Under these conditions Colonel Haskell's narrative thus proceeds:]
“In January I went to Washington as representative of the · Hampton Government,' where I remained until the 4th of March, leaving Washington that night and returning to my State. I had repeated interviews with President Grant, and shall never forget his candor, and the consideration he gave to the statements submitted to him. He admitted frankly after patient hearing that he felt he had made a mistake in declaring that a state of insurrection existed, and consequently sending the United States forces to the State; but that, as he had so done, and was about to go out of office, it was due to Mr. Hayes that any change of policy should be made by him. I had a brief interview with Mr. Hayes on Saturday night, 3rd of March, at Senator Sherman's residence. He declined to discuss questions in advance, but promised to give due consideration to all the circumstances when in office; and I retired, feeling sure that he would act justly and fairly. Sunday morning I met the Hon. Stanley Matthews in the lobby at Wormley's Hotel, where we were both staying. I introduced myself; and, after a brief conversation, asked him to write a letter to Governor Chamberlain, and give it to me. He at once consented, and wrote it then and there. After reading it I asked if I could show it to Mr.
Evarts (afterwards Secretary of State), and he said · Certainly.' I sent up my card to Mr. Evarts, and in a few minutes was received. Introducing myself and my business, I handed him Mr. Matthews's letter, and asked him to write a letter of like tenor, and give it me. He at once complied. The purport of the letters was advice to come to Washington. With these letters in my pocket I went to the White House. The President (Grant] was at lunch ; but I was ushered in, and he came out to meet me. Addressing him as · Mr. President,' I stated that I had come to ask his advice whether it was necessary for me to remain longer in Washington. “Mr. Haskell,' he said, ' let me correct the mistake you have made. I am no longer President. Mr. Hayes took the oath of office about an hour ago, just where you are standing. As to the other matter, I do not think it is necessary for you to remain. I bade him good-bye, with heartfelt appreciation of the treatment I had uniformly received at his hands. I returned to Columbia, at once called on Governor Chamberlain and gave him the letters. Of course I had reported all to Governor Hampton, and acted with his approval. Chamberlain did not accept the suggestion, and remained at his post. After several weeks had elapsed, letters came from President Hayes, requesting Governor Hampton and Governor Chamberlain to come to Washington that he might confer with them. They both went. The result is known. Governor Hampton returned, and took charge of the office at the State House. The troops were removed, and things assumed a normal condition.
“I now will state briefly how the personal relations between Chamberlain and myself grew up. Governor Chamberlain had left the State as above stated ; nor did he return for any length of time, until late in the 80's, when he came on professional business. I did not meet him; but in 1890 he wrote me a letter. He said, in effect, that it might seem strange that he should write to one who had been so bitterly opposed to him in former years, but that his heart was still true to South Carolina, and that he could not refrain from expressing his approval of the political position I held in 1890. I answered, thanking him, and the matter closed. In the autumn of 1892 I was in Philadelphia, and received two cards of invitation to a Democratic meeting at the Academy of Music, where an address would be delivered in support of Mr. Cleveland. I had a long day of business, and did not think of going; but, strolling past the place after a late dinner, I recalled the occasion and went in. Chamberlain was speaking, — the name of the State to which I belong struck my ear as I entered the door, — I stopped, and stood and heard a tribute to the people of that State in the struggle of 1876 that made the heart thrill. * And before God,' he said in ending, they were right, and if I had it in my power to-day, I would not undo one thing they did that year. It was their State, and they had the right to govern it.' I do not say those were his exact words, but they have lived that way in my memory. At conclusion of the address I went to the side door, and, presenting my other card, was admitted ; but, being in travelling suit, stood at the entrance, while the speaker was receiving the congratulations of the distinguished group about him. All at once a gap was opened by chance. He saw me and thiew up his hands, exclaiming, You are the last man I expected to meet!' and, hastening forward, he shook hands with me. I responded, explaining my accidental presence, and telling him how deeply his generous and magnanimous tribute to the State of his adoption had touched my heart. After a few words more I bade him good-bye.
"Some years had elapsed when I received a brief note from him saying he had read an article delivered before the Historical Society assembled in New York by Miss Haskell of Radcliffe College, Harvard, and asked was the lady related to me, adding some agreeable comments. Replying, I told him that the young lady was one of my daughters, and I enclosed in another envelope an address I had delivered some time before, -- sending it, I suppose, because perchance it bore on some remark he had made in his pleasant letter. I received an acknowledgment; and, two days later, another letter saying he had read the address, and wished it could be read in every home in America. Years again had passed, when in the antumn (I think of 1900) I received a brief note from Chamberlain telling me he was in Columbia, an ill man, at the hotel. He was utterly prostrated, and very feeble. He had recently lost his youngest son under distressing circumstances, and was heart-broken. From that hour until the end, the friendship became closer and closer. As his health improveil, he gained heart and I saw a great deal of him. He spent several winters here, and was a constant visitor at my house. My family were fond of him, and it seemed almost as if he felt that it was home.' You met him there in December, 1902, when you so kindly came to see me, at a time when tokens of friendship were specially dear.
During his subsequent and prolonged absence, and up to within a few days of the end, he kept up a correspondence with me.
You were very dear to him, and he often referred to you in his letters. You are, from some points of view, more familiar with his character than I am ; but from other points of view I may know him better, and he has touched a chord with me by the manner in which he has borne the trials which came upon him. Born when the passions of prejudice were in their rapid growth, he was nurtured with them, as moral food, and entered the army when the bloody Civil War was raging. It would have been more than human to cast off the past in a moment, and to be a reformer in the party and against the principles which he had imbibed as gospel, before they had been tested by the lessons of experience: - but he was endowed with high traits; he was a patriot, he was a searcher after truth, and, when he believed it found, he was brave enough to declare it, without regard to danger or its inconsistency with his past. He loved his country, and was to the end loyal to the State of his adoption, and came to love the men who had crushed his highest hope in the zenith of his public life. He was a student, a worker, and a thinker; and when he discovered that he had dreamed of the impossible, he frankly said so, and defended the men who had opposed him. He was pure of heart and of a pure mind; and in time he rose above the clouds. I remember him with love and respect."
With this letter of a native-born and typical Carolinian bearing tribute to a “carpet-bag" Governor of his State, what I have to say on this occasion might appropriately close. I have, however, one word yet to add, and I add that word because I feel that, could he be conscious of it, it would be most grateful to him of whom it is said. Two days after Chamberlain's death, on the morning of Monday, April 16th, a long and discriminating editorial article appeared in the columns of the Charleston “ News and Courier.” Of him the writer said:
“Once the judgment of the country was rendered against him, [Mr. Chamberlain) never sought to reinstate himself as a political factor in the control of this State ; but he never lost his interest in South Carolina and in the welfare of its people . . . though born in Massachusetts, and reared and educated in the New England school of thought, he was loyal to South Carolina in the broadest way until the end came to him.
“ Mr. Chamberlain was a very remarkable man. He was a scholar of the truest temper, a lover of his country of the broadest views, and at bottom he was always true, as we believe, to the highest welfare of his adopted State. New Englander by birth, he was a South Carolinian in spirit. . . . When he lay dying of an incurable malady his thoughts were with the white people of South Carolina in the great honor which they paid to his successful antagonist in the revolution of 1876. We sincerely deplore his death."
Mr. EDWARD H. GILBERT was appointed to write a memoir of Mr. Chamberlain for publication in the Proceedings.
Mr. Josiah P. QUINCY presented and read a letter from Gov. ernor Wise of Virginia relative to the approaching execution of John Brown.
RICHMOND, VA, Novr 16th, 1859. MY DEAR SIR, — Information from every quarter leads to the conviction that there is an organized plan to harrass our whole slave-border at every point. Day is the very time to commit arson with best chance ag' detection. No light shines, nor smoke shows in daylight before the fame is off & up past putting out. The rascal too escapes best by day; he sees best whether he is not seen, and best how to avoid persons pursuing. I tell you those Devils are trained in all the Indian arts of predatory war. They come, one by one, two by two, in open day, and make you stare that the thing be attempted as it was done. But on the days of execution what is to become of the borders ? tho't of that? 5 or 10,000 people flock in to Chastown & leave homesteads unguarded! What then but most burnings to take place ? To prevent this you must get all your papers in Jeff: Berk: & Fred' & Morgan & Hamp: to beg the people to stay at home & keep guard. Again a promiscuous crowd of women & children would hinder troops terribly if an emeute of rescue be made ; and if our own people will only shoulder arms that day & keep thus distinct from strangers the guards may be prompt to arrest & punish any attempt. I have ordered 200 minie muskets to be sent to Charlestown at once with fixed amt" and the Cols of Berkely, Jeff: & Fred: to order regts to be ready at a moment. I shall order 400 men under arms. Then, ought there to
1 Reference is here made to the equestrian statue of General Wade Hampton, unveiled at Columbia, November 20, 1906.