22. Third Term Dreams
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565 ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 22 THIRD TERM DREAMS 7KH´VLOHQWPDQµZKRP*DUÀHOGVDZH[LWWKH:KLWH+RXVHRQ0DUFK 5, 1877, had no intention of leaving the interpretation of his legacy to others. The electoral crisis gave no time for a formal “farewell address,” EXW*UDQWXVHGKLVÀQDODQQXDOPHVVDJHWR&RQJUHVVLQ'HFHPEHU to place his construction on the preceding eight years. He opened with one of the most remarkable passages in all presidential communication: ,WZDVP\IRUWXQHRUPLVIRUWXQHWREHFDOOHGWRWKHR΀FHRI&KLHI Executive without any previous political training. From the age of 17 I had never witnessed the excitement attending a Presidential campaign but twice antecedent to my own candidacy, and at but one of them was I eligible as a voter. Under such circumstances it is but reasonable to suppose that errors of judgment must have occurred. Even had they not, GLͿHUHQFHVRIRSLQLRQEHWZHHQWKH([HFXWLYHERXQGE\DQRDWKWR the strict performance of his duties, and writers and debaters must have arisen. It is not necessarily evidence of blunder on the part of the ([HFXWLYHEHFDXVHWKHUHDUHWKHVHGLͿHUHQFHVRIYLHZV0LVWDNHVKDYH been made, as all can see and I admit, but it seems to me oftener in the selections made of the assistants appointed to aid in carrying out the various duties of administering the Government—in nearly every case selected without a personal acquaintance with the appointee, but CHAPTER 22 566 upon recommendations of the representatives chosen directly by the people. It is impossible, where so many trusts are to be allotted, that the right parties should be chosen in every instance. History shows that no Administration from the time of Washington to the present has been free from these mistakes. But I leave comparisons to history, claiming only that I have acted in every instance from a conscientious desire to do what was right, constitutional, within the law, and for the very best interests of the whole people. Failures have been errors of judgment, not of intent. With this apologia, Grant tacitly conceded that his administration had not unfolded as the American people had expected. He cited his origiQDO QDwYHWpEXWIHZFRXOGIRUJHWWKDWKHKDGVRRQEHFRPHDZLOOLQJDQG RIWHQHͿHFWLYHSOD\HULQWKHSROLWLFDODUHQDDQGWKXVERUHDODUJHUHVSRQsibility for both the successes and the shortcomings of his two terms. More to the point was his condemnation of the noxious political atmosphere , poisoned by his unrelenting critics. From the beginning, antagonists had leveled personal abuse against him and had indeed twisted GLͿHUHQFHV RYHU SROLF\ LQWR HYLGHQFH RI PRUDO WXUSLWXGH RQ KLV SDUW Less convincingly, the president attempted to shift some of the blame for mistakes to his subordinates and to the members of Congress who had recommended their appointment. The exculpatory passage did little to change the judgment of his contemporary assailants. As the 1HZ HQ@WKHODWWHUDWtempts to think for himself in matters of choice of candidates.” Unless Western policies changed, he predicted “a terrible calamity.”9 As Grant gained a broader understanding of the world, many Americans acquired a new appreciation of his ability and strengths. In the eyes of many, not since the war had he appeared so commanding or FDSDEOH$QDYDOR΀FHURQRQHRIWKHYHVVHOVWUDQVSRUWLQJ*UDQW·VSDUW\ wrote home complaining of the “annoyance & trouble” of carrying “the great ring-master about the mediterranean,” but he soon changed his mind. “My opinion of old USG has changed wonderfully,” he reported.´&KRFNIXOORILQIRUPDWLRQ JRRGLGHDV>@*UDQWNQRZVZKDWLWFRVWV WRPDNHD\DUGRIFRWWRQ>LQWKH@VRXWKRULQ3URYLGHQFH³WKHEXVKHOV CHAPTER 22 570 RIJUDLQH[SRUWHGIRU\HDUV³WKHÁXFWXDWLRQVRIH[FKDQJH³WKH$UP\ & Navy ration to an ounce & all such information & he is QHYHU wrong DERXWDÀJXUHRUDGDWHµ0HWKRGLVWOHDGHU-RKQ1HZPDQWROGD&KLFDJR newspaper that, upon his return, Grant would “be the best informed man in America upon the manners, institutions, geography, topography , populations, and, above all, the resources of all the peoples of the globe. This nation has never appreciated the intellectual greatness of the man. His mind is not one of ratiocination, but of intuition. He grasps a thing instantly and unerringly.” After encountering Grant in Paris, Mississippi senator Blanche K. Bruce told reporters that the public now saw him as “both a wiser and greater man than when he was President.”10...


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