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of their origin and enough of a historical or biographical interest to hold small parcels together in monthly or quarterly publications. Among these are letters from Charles Sumner, Horace Greeley, Anthony, Blaine, Henry C. Carey, James S. Orr, Erastus Corning, Henry Winter Davis, George P. Marsh, Samuel Bowles, and many more from persons now living which would not be published without permission. The letters of some of the writers ought to be reproduced in facsimile, for instance those of Greeley, Davis, and Blaine.
Were you here I should be glad to show you a few specimens. Of course I could not on this line do much while Congress is in session.
This enterprise may not be attractive to you for the Forum, and perhaps you would be unable to make it sufficiently attractive to me to assume the labor of it, but I open the subject for your consideration, and shall be glad to hear from you.
The suggestion was eagerly snapped at, and the result was the series of “Notable Letters from my Political Friends” which ran in three numbers of the "Forum" in the early months of 1897. They have been freely drawn upon for the earlier chapters of this book, for they were full of light upon persons and events. Had Morrill's strength permitted, he would have extended them and moulded them into a book; as it is they remain a pleasing capstone to his literary labors. CHAPTER XV
THE LAST DECADE THE last decade of Morrill's life was marked by great and stormy changes in national politics. It witnessed the return to power of the Republicans led by Harrison, the willful extension of Protection in the McKinley Bill followed by a second defeat at the hands of the Democrats under Cleveland. Then followed the long-drawn struggles over the currency, the Venezuela explosion, the outburst of Populism and Free Silver; and the victory in the sound-money campaign led by McKinley and skillfully directed by Mark Hanna. Finally the excited decade closed with the Cuban imbroglio, the Spanish War, and the annexation of Porto Rico and the Philippines.
Morrill's part in these turbulent years was that of counselor rather than leader. He was counted one of the elder statesmen when they opened; before they closed, he was the eldest that had sat among the Senators. Through all the shifts and changes Vermont stood stanchly by her Republican principles and her trusted leader. Through all the vicissitudes until almost the end he stood as stanchly by his old associates. It was not until the question of annexation arose that he felt forced to take issue with his party, though here, too, he was faithful to his earliest principles. But of that in due course.
The first Cleveland Administration had been a shock to Morrill as well as to the rank and file of Republicans, and when it came to an end in 1888 and they returned to power, there was a natural feeling that the full penalty for past errors had been paid and the party had been restored to per
manent favor. Something of this Morrill seems to have felt and expressed in his article on “Republican Party Prospects” in the “Forum” for December, 1888, where he wrote in a fine spirit of victorious partisanship, “The defeat of the Democratic Party, after it had been tried and found wanting in nearly every point of public policy, foreign and domestic, indicates that it has been not only overthrown, but left destitute of further claims on public confidence.”
In something of this spirit Morrill and his fellow Republicans entered upon the Harrison régime and enacted the McKinley Tariff which was destined to bring in its train disastrous consequences. Meantime the skies were bright and Morrill's fortunes were at flood. As the end of his term approached in 1890, he wrote as he had always done a few letters of inquiry to his friends, such as that of September 22d to Benedict:
STRAFFORD, VT., Sept. 22, 1890 DEAR BENEDICT:
The Legislature will meet in about a week, and I must decide whether or not to permit my name to be used for longer service. But few of the members am I able to recognize as familiar acquaintances. Many assurances have been tendered to me personally that my Republican friends desire me to retain my present position. I should not like to weary the patience of those who have so long given me their support.
Of course I know nothing about what the present members of the Legislature may do, as I have been unwilling to take any part in the matter, except to determine whether or not to permit my name to be used as a candidate for reëlection. This I may do if I learn that the feeling of the Republicans is unanimous or nearly so in that direction.
You, of course, know a good deal about the sentiment of the people on your side of the State, and I should be glad to hear from you on this point. Very truly yours
J. S. M.
The reply to this and to his other letters was easy to fore
cast. His friends with one accord assured him that there would be no opposition. In fact, the whole country expected and took it for granted that he would be reëlected and it would have been a bold man who had opposed him. He took a natural pride in his length of service and the day after his letter to Benedict wrote, in reply to another correspondent:
STRAFFORD, VT., Sept. 23, 1890 MY DEAR SIR:
Your favor of the 22d inst. has been received, and you will please accept my cordial thanks for your very kind expressions. I shall not accept of further service without the most ample assurance that it would be in full accord with the sentiments of the great body of the Republicans of the State. If I have earned any favor, I should not like to lose it by lingering in the way of those who would be more acceptable. However, if our best men appear to favor it, as many have done without any asking on my part, I may take the risk.
As to your inquiry about the length of the service of others, there is no one now in Congress, reckoning service in both House and Senate, whose continuous service is equal to mine, of twelve years in the House and twenty-three in the Senate. Senator Sherman was in the House six years and has served twenty-five years in the Senate and was Secretary of the Treasury four years. Senator Dawes was in the House eighteen years and fifteen in the Senate. His term will expire 1893.
Nathaniel Macon of North Carolina served in the House twenty-four years and twelve in the Senate. Wm. B. Archer of Virginia served in the House fifteen years and six in the Senate. Honest John Davis of Massachusetts served eight years in the House and twelve years in the Senate. My colleague, Senator Edmunds, has been in the Senate since April, 1866, and his term expires 1893.
These are instances of long service that occur to me at the present time.
Very truly yours
JUSTIN S. MORRILL P.S. Senator Benton did not serve quite thirty years in the Senate, but served two years afterwards in the House, and John
Q. Adams served sixteen years in the House after he had been President, having been a Senator before for five years.
Though he took no step that could be described as electioneering, the imminence of the election may well have quickened his interest in the Maple Sugar Bounty Clause in the tariff bill then pending. He could ill afford to have it said that he had neglected the interests of Vermont farmers. So he wrote somewhat urgently to each of his colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee, and the clause was inserted. To Aldrich he wrote more briefly than to some of the others, but with point:
STRAFFORD, VT., Sept. 16, 1890 DEAR MR. ALDRICH,
I shall be more than grieved if the bounty on maple sugar is not retained. There are not many items in the bill which directly interest larger numbers. If it shall be refused, the responsibility will be a grave one, as it would put a club in the hands of the Free Traders to drive great numbers of farmers out of the ranks of our friends. It may look like a small matter, but you may depend upon it that it will cut a large figure in the future. This is about the only thing in which I have felt a personal interest. I shall feel that I have neglected a great interest of Vermont as well as of all our Northern States if this is not retained. It will sweeten the bill in many thousand households to have maple sugar not discriminated against.
Very truly yours
JUSTIN S. MORRILL
The election was a genial formality. At the last minute the Democrats, for reasons of party regularity, nominated the Honorable E. J. Phelps, who had been Minister to England, and he received the Democratic votes, 56 out of 240 in the House, and 1 out of 28 in the Senate. The result and the vote gave occasion for an exchange of such notes as are rare between candidates for office. Phelps wrote congratulating Morrill: