16. Second Term Woes
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

395 ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 16 SECOND TERM WOES Reelected presidents have often found their second terms more trouEOLQJ WKDQWKHLUÀUVW*UDQWSURYHGWREHQRH[FHSWLRQ'HVSLWHWKHDXUD RIWULXPSKWKDWVXUURXQGHGKLVYLFWRU\KHFRQIURQWHGDKRVWRIGL΀FXOties in the years afterward. Disorder in the South persisted as whites fought to regain control of government and society. Within a year the national economy collapsed into a deep and pervasive depression that outlasted Grant’s presidency. Men around the president betrayed his trust, and his critics gave no letup in their excoriation. Although Grant’s ÀUVWWHUPKDGKDUGO\EHHQIUHHRIWURXEOHVWKH\DFFHOHUDWHGGXULQJKLV second term and did much to stain his presidency’s historical image. In the short term, however, Grant used his fourth annual message to underscore the successes his campaign had emphasized. Thanks to WKHRXWFRPHVRIWKH*HQHYDDQG6DQ-XDQDUELWUDWLRQVIRUWKHÀUVWWLPH in the nation’s history, it had no boundary dispute with Great Britain. Both the national debt and taxation had been reduced, and the economy stood on a sound basis. Grant called for moving toward specie payments, “having due regard for the interests of the debtor class and the vicissitudes of trade and commerce.” Noting that internal improvements had been “carried on with energy and economy,” he favored further support for enterprises to reduce the cost of transporting products from the interior to the seaboard for export. He also recommended study of the feasibility of a government telegraph. His Indian policy, he CHAPTER 16 396 claimed, “has been as successful as its most ardent friends anticipated within so short a time.” *UDQWH[SUHVVHGUHJUHWDWWKHFRQWLQXHGÀJKWLQJLQ&XEDZKLFK he attributed in part to the perpetuation of slavery on the island. He called for legislation to prevent or at least discourage American citizens from owning or dealing in slaves there. As for race relations at home, he deplored the crimes of “reckless and lawless men” in the South and expressed satisfaction that “the prosecution and punishment of many of these persons have tended greatly to the repression of such disorders.” He was open to requests for pardons of those convicted but warned, “Any action thereon is not to be construed as indicating any change in my determination to enforce with vigor” the laws against “conspiracies and combinations” that “disturb the peace of the country.” Grant’s skepticism about elements of the civil service reform program was evident in an early draft of his message. He feared that comSHWLWLYH H[DPLQDWLRQVGLGQRWOHDGWRWKH´JUHDWHVWH΀FLHQF\µDQGFRXOG result in the appointment of “enemies of the Administration to the exclusion of its friends.” Instead, he favored a “thorough examination” of an appointee DIWHU selection. As for promotions, he thought that “no examining board, strangers to the parties appearing before them, can DQ\PRUHGHWHUPLQHWKHÀWWHVWPDQIRUDGYDQFHPHQWWKDQWKH\FDQJR into a business establishment and inform the proprietor, by a mental H[DPLQDWLRQRIKLVHPSOR\HHVZKRDUHWKHÀWWHVWPHQIRUDGYDQFHPHQW there. With a proper selection of heads of departments the most worthy SURPRWLRQVFDQEHPDGHE\VHOHFWLRQµ%XWLQWKHÀQDOYHUVLRQRIWKH message he left these ideas out. Instead, Grant promised his “earnest endeavor” to apply the rules devised by the Civil Service Commission, noting, however, that only the “direct action of Congress” could make them binding on his successors.1 Despite personal misgivings, Grant struck a blow for civil service reform in a wrangle over the Philadelphia postmastership. Soon after his reelection he met with a delegation of Pennsylvania Republicans who favored the appointment of merchant and party stalwart George Truman , not only to reward the state’s services in the recent victory but also to unify the state party. Grant refused their request. In keeping with the FLYLOVHUYLFHUXOHVKHGHFLGHGWRSURPRWHDQR΀FLDOZLWKLQWKHSRVWRI- ÀFH7KH3HQQV\OYDQLDQVJURXVHGEXWUHIRUPHUVZHUHSOHDVHG$VRQH ZURWHWR*UDQW´,KDYHQHYHUNQRZQDQDFW>WR@JLYHVXFKXQLYHUVDOVDWLVfaction to all good men of both parties, as this. . . . I feel more proud of our 3UHVLGHQWDQGPRUHFRQÀGHQWRIQDWLRQDOUHIRUPQRZWKDQHYHUEHIRUHµ2 SECOND TERM WOES 397 On the same day Grant met with the Pennsylvania group, he accepted the resignation of Solicitor General Benjamin Bristow, who was leaving government service to become a railroad executive. To replace him...


pdf