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The courier. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1894-1903, July 28, 1894, Image 12

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Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn99066033/1894-07-28/ed-1/seq-12/

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THE COURIER
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GOVERNOR THAYER REPLIES.
To the editor of the World-Herald'. I fully appreciate the fair
and manly spirit of your editorial with which you accompany the
publication in the World-Herald of my letter which appeared in
the Lincoln Courier on the relations of Grant and Bristow.
You raise the question as to the correctness of my assertion that
a general feeling prevailed in favor of the renomination of Grant for
a third term. Possibly 1 may have stated it too strongly, but the
fact that three hundred and six delegates in the National republican
convention at Chicago, nearly half the number of delegates, stood
like a rock wall against all attempts to swerve them from their sup
port of Grant for the nomination for a third term furnishes pretty
good evidence that Grant had quite a strong following in the country.
As to the other point made by the World-Herald, I will concede
that it may be correct in its estimate of BriBtow as a lawyer at the
time referred to. I wrote of him as a third rate lawyer when he was
appointed United States district attorney for the district of Ken
tucky. That was some twenty-eight years ago according to my re
collection. He was then a young man and had not, as I supposed,
reached much distinction at the bar. I had in my mind such great
lawyers as Henry Clay, John J. Crittenden, the Marshalls, the Speeds
and others, whoso names do not now occur to me who made the Ken
tucky bar famous throughout the whole country fifty years ago.
Not wishing to do Mr. Bristow any injustice I will now say that I
believe he stands high at the New York bar.
By a letter which appeared in the World-Herald I am led to think
that my communication on Bristow has thrown my old friend Major
Patrick O'Hawes into political convulsions, which I trust will not
prove serious. I had ont the slightest idea of disturbing the even
tenor of his way and of his mind. But, nevertheless, I cannot help
it now, and retract nothing of what was stated by me. His letter is
really amuEing to me when I notice the confidential air in which he
makes assertions which have no foundation in fact When one
srartfl out to correct the alleged mis statements of another, he should
himself first be correct
Major Hawes asserted that Bristow was appointed United
States district attorney for Kentucky by President Lincoln. I
still believe he was appointed by Grant for the reason that
according to my recollection, I was in the north when the ap
pointment was made after the war, and therefore he could not
have been appointed by Lincoln, who died just as the war closed.
The World-Herald confirms me in this belief by its statement
that Mr. Bristow served as lieutenont colonel of the 25th Ken
tucky, and was wounded at Donelson, .and afterwards became
colonel of the 8th Kentucky and served as a gallant Union sol
dier throughout the war. Now, if he was serving in the field
throughout the war. then Mr. Lincola did not appoint him dis
trict attorney for Kentucky, or if he did tender him the ap
pointmedt and Bristow accepted it, while the war continued, and
he left the service, it stands to his discredit My friend Mr.
Hawes speaks of himself and BriBtow as having served in the
Home Guards of Kentucky, but fails to mention that Bristow
was a brave Union soldier down to the close of the rebellion.
According to my veratable historian, Hawes, Bristow's sole
claim to military glory rests upon the distinguished services of
himself and Bristow in the Home Guards of Kentucky. The
World-Herald and myself are more chary of the military repu
tation of Bristow than is my critic for we both assign to him the
distinction of having been a brave officer down to the close of
the war.
Now here are a few of the reckless misstatements of my friend
Hawes: He says I am mistaken in saying Grant told Bristow he
had no further use for him as secretary of the treasury, and
then adds that when Bristow sent his resignaticn to the White
House Gen. Grant read it and remarked to Belknap, who was
present, that the resignation did not come any too soon. That
shows that Grant intended Bristow should leave his cabinet, else
why did he send in his resignation?
Why, because Grant had indicated to him that he desired
his (Bristow's) resignation. I care not in what form of language
Grant made it known, but that he did so my friend Patrick
Hawes proves, for he quotes what Grant said, that "the resig
nation did no come any too soon," thus proving that Grant in
tended to be rid of Bristow.
Again, my friend Hawes says Grant appointed a man by the name
of Taft from Georgia, as attorney general of the United States, and
appointed Bristow as assistant attorney general. Hawes is again
mistaken for Grant did nothing of the kind. He did appoint Jacob
M. Ackerman of Georgia as attorney general. I voted for his con.
confirmation and frequently had business with him during my term.
Grant appointed BriBtow as solicitor general and I voted for his con
firmation. The Taft to whom Hawes refers was Judge Alfonso
Taft of Cincinnati, Ohio; whom Grant appointed secretary of war
to succeed, I think, Belknap. During the second term of Grant he
desired to bring Donald Cameron, now the Pennysylvania senator,
into his cabinet. Edward Pierrepont. of New York, was then attor
ney general. The president desired to send him as minister to Eng
land and did so. Cameron was not a lawyer and, therefore, could
not take the attorney generalship. The president, therefore, trans
ferred Judge Taft, who was an able lawyer, from the war department
to the attorney generalship Then he appointed Don Cameron sec
retary of war.
There was, by the way, some interesting gossip about the ap
pointment of Cameron. The veteran senator. Gen. Simon Cameron,
must have ceen eighty six or eighty-seven years of age and de
sired to retire from the senate. He was anxious to havo his son
Don. for his successor, but hardly thought it prudent to have it
proposed as his son had not hitherto occupied any political posi
tion, and he thought it would be too much to ask to have his son
step right into his shoes. Therefore he conceived the idea of
having Don occupy a position in the cabinet. The latter was a
favorite with Grant and when the old senator proposed the son
for secretary of war, Grant readily acceded to it, and thus accord
ing to rumor, the arrangement was brought about. It was easier
to secure his election as senator after having occupied a cabi
net position.
Another of Hawe's misstatements:
He says Babcock never acted as private secretary to Gen.
Grant after her trial and acquittal. I say he did act in that capaci
ty after his acquittal quite a long time, for I saw him in that office
performing its duties
My friend Patrick says Bristow appointed him as special as- .
Biatant United States attorney to prosecute the distilleries, dis
tillers and whiskey thieves. Bristow was then secretary of the
treasury. The attorney general appoints all assistant attorneys.
It would seem therefore, that he is a little off again. I am glad
to learn from his letter that he created such havoc amoug the dis
tillers and whiskey thieves, and think it was a pity he was not
continuedln that position.
My friend says that all the leading colored men of the south fav
ored Bristow's nomination for the presidency in 1876. That was
undoubtedly true for Bristow and his friendB were plying them wit
patronage so as to secure their votes in the Cincinnati convention
which was held in May or June, though my friend Patrick speaks
of the meeting of the Cincinnati convention in the fall of 1876. He
seems to have gotten things badly mixed. His memory is treach
e'rous. For reformers they did well in working up the colored del
egation for Bristow.
I will not longer multiply the errors of my critic The weather is
too torrid. But I reassert and reaffirm every statement made in my
communication to which exception has been taken, and with more
emphasis than before. I knew what I was writing about, and wrote
from my personal knowledge,
Mr. Bristow may have all the virtues that are claimed for him. I
wrote nothing whatever against him except his connection with the
conspiracy to smirch Grant and destroy him as a candidate for a
third term. That the conspiracy did exist I well know and history
knows it too. It was one of the meanest conspiracies ever recorded
in American annals and all the waters of Lethe can not wash out its
memory. Benjamin H. Bristow was in that conspiracy. He was the
chief figure head and was to be chief benficiary if successful. He is
not the only one, who, when the presidential bee buzzed around him
entered into arrangements and schemes to accomplish the aim of his
ambition which did not square with the strict rules of fairness and
moral integrity. I never heard any reflections upon him as a man
and citizen except in connection with this affair. The parties who
entered into that scheme to make him the presidential nominee
were reformers of the goody goody class. They were goody goody's
par excellence they were the salt of the earth, they were too good
to dwell in this world of sin they were to usher in the very millen
ial time. It was about the beginning of mugwumpery which bios-
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