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which filled the house. Morrill had his chance and turned the tables on his friends when he learned where the refreshments had been ordered and went early the next day and paid the bill. From this time on the birthday parties bloomed into general receptions to which all the official world, the President, Justices of the Supreme Court, members of the Diplomatic Corps, fellow Senators, Congressmen and their wives, came to pay their respects to one they loved to honor. No less pleasant to recall are the regular rubbers of whist which, after the manner of an earlier day, were played every evening after dinner with a few old friends and neighbors, like General Sherman, Senator Vance, Senator Anthony, and Senator Payne, who would rather have missed their dinner than their game. A Senator's life in Washington has always been dignified. As in the case of members of the upper chambers of other parliaments, the office is clothed not only with power, but with much respect and a measure of deference such as makes the position of Senator one of the most agreeable as well as influential in this or any other country. It has been so from the beginning, but in the days of General Grant, to be a Republican Senator, still more to be a member of the inner circle of the dominant party, was to have both the feeling and the possession of power such as no Senators of any party have had since. Reconstruction still rendered the Opposition powerless; the President, unskilled in politics, was disposed to leave national affairs—with the exception of a few pet policies — to Congress, where the Senate had a large measure of control. Morrill sat there on the powerful Committee on Finance of which in due course he became chairman, and, as he said some years later in declining a seat in the Cabinet, “There is no gift, no office to which I could be appointed, that I would accept in preference to a seat in the United States Senate. I consider that the highest honor that
could be bestowed on me, and sits duties] the highest function that I could perform.”
Firmly established in his own house and in what he felt was his rightful place, Morrill settled down to the faithful assiduous performance of his official duties which had, to be sure, always characterized him, but which from now on formed the staple of his days. In 1871 he bought a pair of horses, and thereafter with the regularity of clockwork, the carriage was at the door every morning to take him to the Senate where he had no rival in punctuality or length of attendance. Many and great questions came up for consideration during these years, but he set forth no new solutions and proposed no new policies. He had worked out the articles of his political creed, and was content to abide by them. On the tariff and financial questions his principles and his position were known to all. He had consistently opposed inflation and had supported McCulloch's sound policy as Secretary of the Treasury even when he disapproved of his politics. Of this there is an agreeable echo in a letter written by the retiring Secretary just as the Grant régime was beginning:
WASHINGTON, March 22, 1869
MY DEAR MR. MoRRILL, Your very kind note of the 20th inst. is received. My term, as you remark, was one “of toil and danger.” No one but myself could understand under what annoyances and discouragements I administered the Treasury Department — most of the time with no reliable support from either political party or from either the Executive or Legislative Branches of the Government. No man ever held a position, comparable with it in the weight of its responsibilities and the severity of its labors, under circumstances so anomalous and trying. I would gladly have abandoned it, when the breach occurred between the President and Congress (for Iforesaw how much embarrassed Ishould be by this breach), if I had felt that I could do so, consistently with my duties to the people, who had so deep an interest in a careful management of the national finances. It is proper for me, however, to remark that (reluctant as I should have been under the circumstances to abandon it) I could not have retained the position, without the support which I received from you and a few others like you in Congress and from the business men of the Country.
This much I can say without vanity, that no man ever worked harder or more faithfully for the maintenance of the public credit or for what I considered to be the best interests of the people, than I did, for four of the most trying years in our financial history. In the discharge of the various and almost innumerable duties that were devolved upon me, all of which were to be performed promptly, and sometimes, without opportunity for mature consideration, I committed, doubtless, many mistakes, but I have an abiding faith that, when the record of my management of the Treasury Department shall have been fairly made up, it will not be one that such generous and disinterested friends as yourself will be ashamed of.
In regard to what you call my “political affinities,” I need not say that I have never been anything else than Whig and Republican. Although I have differed from most of my old political friends upon the questions of reconstruction and suffrage, I still claim to stand politically with those who sustained the Government during its great peril and who will stand by its integrity and its honor, to the last. As an indication of my position, I may remark that while Secretary, I never appointed a man, of my own accord, to office because he was conservative or removed one because he was a radical. I may say further, and this statement is made only to yourself, that, notwithstanding my estrangement from General Grant, both of my sons and all my relations, as far as I know, supported him heartily for the Presidency.
I cannot conclude this letter, already too long, without saying that the very favorable impression which you made upon me, when I met you, for the first time, at your rooms on Missouri Avenue in the winter of 1862, has been strengthened by my subsequent acquaintance with you, and by my careful observation of your course as Representative and Senator. Your public career has been, in the highest degree, honorable and is one of which your friends (among whom I hope ever to be classed) may be justly proud.