previous next

Chapter 11:

  • Mooted removal of the capital to Saint Louis
  • -- improvement of Washington a result of this movement -- Reducing the army to a peace basis -- Sherman's hostility to Logan's measure -- a congressional scandal -- Logan checkmates Butler -- death of General Thomas -- honors to the memory of General Rawlins -- General Logan's victorious campaign for the senatorship and my share in it -- removal to Chicago -- the great fire -- chairman of the Senate military committee -- the Abbott ransom case -- White House New Year's reception, 1872 -- subsequent social festivities -- death of Mrs. Belknap and of our adopted daughter Kate Logan.

While affairs socially were moving so smoothly there were many important matters arising in Congress. There was a proposition to remove the capital to Saint Louis, as a more central location for the capital of the United States than that of the District of Columbia. General Logan championed the movement for the removal of the capital, on the ground that the present location was made at a very early time in the history of the Government, and the vast area west of the Alleghanies had not been considered by white men and was only inhabited by the various tribes of Indians and aborigines that were to be found in what subsequently became the States of Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and the great territories that have added many new States to the galaxy of the Union.

While the movement may have been abortive, and from a historic point of view justly failed, it had the effect of arousing a spirit of pride in the citizens of the District of Columbia, and caused them to become active in the introduction of improvements of all kinds, especially in the municipal [277] government. They succeeded in organizing a Territorial government for the District and in appointing a governor and a secretary of state, and in organizing a Board of Public Works, who deserve great credit for the transformation of the city of Washington from a slow-going Southern city of magnificent distances and void of every evidence of beauty and progress into the progressive and beautiful city of to-day. But for the indomitable courage, unfailing energy, and patriotic devotion of such men as Alexander Shepherd, Crosby S. Noyes, J. W. Douglas, A. B. Mullett, Kilburn Claggett, and others, the movement for the removal of the capital to the West might have succeeded, and Washington would never have attained its great beauty and attractiveness. The Board of Public Works employed skilful engineers who levelled the perpendicular hills and filled up the deep chasms that had made Washington unattractive and impracticable. Pennsylvania Avenue being the first street in the city to be paved with modern paving, the completion of the work was an event fraught with so much importance that it was celebrated by a great carnival.

This seemed to be the beginning of the prodigious work of the Board of Public Works and those in authority in the Territorial government. Washington had been fortunate in having secured years before, as superintendent of the botanical gardens, that wonderful genius William Smith, the great Scotch horticulturist. Previously the botanical gardens had done little else than furnish plants, seeds, and floral specimens for the members of Congress. William Smith had become greatly interested in L'Enfant's wonderful plan for the capital of the United States, and had, as far as he could, planted trees along the streets and avenues of the city. The Board of Public Works interested him enthusiastically in their scheme to beautify Washington, and in a few years they had accomplished such wonders as to make a proposition for the removal of the capital seem ridiculous, and again confirmed [278] forever the action of the earlier commissioners in making Washington the immovable capital of this great country.

This question created the most intense interest, and the galleries of Congress were crowded day after day. Be it said to the everlasting shame of the then citizens of Washington, and of many representatives in Congress, that they heaped such ignominy upon Governor Shepherd and his associates that he departed from Washington a heart-broken man, and sought a home in old Mexico, where he lived until his death a few years ago. Others of his associates were accused of limitless graft, and their families have since had a great struggle for existence. Time has vindicated these men, but, alas, too late for them to have had the satisfaction of knowing that their herculean achievements had at last been appreciated.

Another question that was all-absorbing was the reduction of the army to a peace basis. It might have been easy to solve the problem of mustering out regiments and officers down to the peace standard, but to do so without readjusting the salaries of those that were to remain would have created universal resentment. Therefore General Logan, as chairman of the committee on military affairs in the House, had to work very hard and call into conference men interested in the army and its requirements, who were both in and out of Congress. Personally, he had no desire to reduce the salary of the General, Lieutenant-General, and the officers of higher rank, but as it was deemed necessary to reduce the pay of commissioned and non-commissioned officers, it seemed unfair to allow the officers of higher rank to retain the same pay they received during the war. These men, however, had most gallant records, and made many friends who, looking at it from a personal standpoint, were anxious, as far as possible, to keep up these officers' pay to the war standard. This question can be said to have been among the first to bring about a break of friendship between General Logan and General Sherman, who was then General of the Army. [279]

There were quite a number of military men in Congress whose constituents demanded that a reduction of the army should be accompanied by a reduction of the salaries of the higher officers of the army. General Logan felt that the private soldier, non-commissioned and subordinate officers were not receiving too much pay, but that the higher-rank officers' pay was greatly out of proportion when compared to that of the lower-grade officers. Therefore, he began to scale the salaries from the General of the Army down, and reported a bill providing that the General should receive $12,000 instead of $19, 000000 a year; the Lieutenant-General, $10,000 instead of $14,000; the major-generals, $8, 00000 instead of $10,000; brigadiers, $5, 00000 instead of $7,000; colonels, $3,500; lieutenant-colonels, $3,000; majors, $2,500; captains (mounted), $2,000; captains (foot), $1,800; first lieutenants, $I,600; second lieutenants, $I,400; the pay of the non-commissioned officers and privates to remain unchanged.

General Sherman wrote a long letter to the committee, bitterly complaining of the injustice of General Logan's plan, but the schedule was received with so much favor, as being eminently just, that General Logan carried his point, and his bill providing for the reorganization of the army on a peace basis was adopted.

All this meant a great deal of work. At that time I was so occupied with hunting up facts about the armies of every country and the rules which had governed our army from the time of the Revolution that I had little time to do anything else. I really enjoyed making researches for the general, so that he could take up the question when not engaged at the Capitol, and thus I enabled him to get at the very best possible basis upon which to report his bill.

In the midst of the discussion of the army bill reports of scandalous conduct on the part of members of Congress were rife. From time immemorial there have always been delinquents who have, by their improper and dishonest practices, [280] brought harsh criticism down upon public men. Many Northerners had gone South and established homes in the different States lately in rebellion, some investing their all in these homes and business enterprises, which they subsequently were forced to defend with unparalleled heroism. Unfortunately, some of these men were very unworthy, and removed to the South thinking that they would have a greater opportunity for political preferment, and to become conspicuous in public affairs, than they would ever have in the North. They expected to profit by the ignorance of the colored people, and in that way to monopolize the offices-both State and national. There were many of these “carpetbaggers” in Congress, and some of them were a disgrace to that body and to their country. It began to be whispered that some of these gentlemen were selling their appointments to cadetships at West Point and Annapolis, and that one member from North Carolina-one Whittemore, who posed as a Republican and an honest man-had sold a cadetship to West Point for the paltry sum, as I remember it, of three hundred dollars.

Charges were made before the military committee. General Logan investigated the matter thoroughly, summoning before the committee all persons who were supposed to have had something to do with the transaction. He succeeded in bringing before that committee indubitable evidence of the truth of the accusation. Led by General Logan, the committee reported the matter fully to the House with the recommendation that Whittemore be expelled. General Ben Butler was a conspicuous figure at this session. He was very fond of antagonizing men like General Logan, but he did not understand General Logan as well as he thought he did. Whittemore went to Butler and begged Butler to defend him on the floor of the House. I shall never forget the scene, as I sat in the gallery and watched the proceedings the day the Whittemore case came up. Every inch of space on the floor and in the galleries was occupied. General Logan, as [281] chairman of the military committee, soon after the morning hour addressed the speaker to make his report on the case. He had not gone far with his remarks and the reading of the report when General Butler arose in his place and attempted a defence of Whittemore. General Logan had been advised that Butler would probably do this, so he quietly hunted up the statute which forbids a member of Congress to act as attorney for another member in any case before the House. He merely asked Mr. Butler whether he wished to be considered the attorney of Mr. Whittemore. Without hesitation Mr. Butler replied that he did wish to be so considered, whereupon General Logan read the clause of the statute mentioned, which fell like a pall on General Butler and the whole House and galleries. Butler stammered a disclaimer, explaining that it was a matter of sympathy on his part. General Logan followed this up by a scathing rebuke to a man who would undertake to apologize for a criminal who had violated the law, and who, as a member of Congress, had disgraced his State. One of the general's greatest gifts was that of eloquence as a prosecutor, and perhaps no greater arraignment of a criminal has ever been heard in the House of Representatives. His plea for the preservation of the honor and integrity of the members of the House has never been equalled. General Butler withdrew from the floor of the House, but got little sympathy from his friends on account of his downfall in the attempt to defend Whittemore. Whittemore was driven from the House in disgrace as he should have been.

I may be wrong and may overestimate General Logan's keen sense of honor and integrity in representing the people, but I can not help feeling that if those who came after him had been as strong champions of the preservation of the honor of members of the House and Senate as was General Logan, there would not have been the very many scandals that have reflected upon our national and State legislators in these later years.

In the month of April General George H. Thomas died. [282] He was mourned throughout the whole nation as a gallant soldier. Memorial services were held throughout the country. General Logan, being the commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, caused a meeting to be held by the Department of the Potomac in Masonic Hall, which was then the largest auditorium in the city. The hall was profusely decorated with mourning, draped flags, and other evidences of the grief of the nation at the untimely death of this great soldier. General Logan was the orator of the evening, and paid a glowing tribute to the memory of General Thomas, forgetting, in his grief at the nation's loss, the personal differences which had existed between him and the dead soldier, thus giving another illustration of the unusual magnanimity and nobility of his own character.

On April 30 General Logan called the attention of the House to the conspicuous ingratitude with which the memory of General John A. Rawlins, late Secretary of War under Grant's administration, and the faithful adjutant-general of General Grant during the Civil War, had been treated, in that his remains were still lying in a vault in the Congressional cemetery, eight months after his death, and had not had honorable burial. He asked that a suitable place be selected, suggesting that General Rawlins's remains should be taken to Arlington and interred in that cemetery. Others joined in suggesting that a monument also be erected to General Rawlins. General Logan felt very deeply on this subject, as he always recognized in General Rawlins one of the most gifted men in the army and one of the most earnest patriots of the Civil War. As a result of this movement General Rawlins was buried in Arlington and a full-length statue of him was erected on the south side of Pennsylvania Avenue in Market Space, where it still remains.

The session was a very long one, and I remained in Washington until June, before taking the children to our home in Carbondale, Illinois. General Logan was very late in [283] reaching home, but found plenty of work awaiting him. The candidates for the local offices of representative and senator were clamoring for him to come to help them in their campaign for election to the legislature. Political feeling ran high in the State and General Logan was busy canvassing. He was much embarrassed by the continued importunities of men desiring appointment to official positions. They believed Grant would not refuse him anything he might ask for his friends. He realized better than they did that there was a limit, and that there were innumerable petitioners for everything within the gift of the President. He tried, however, to do all he could for every applicant.

General Logan's friends insisted that he should enter the senatorial race before the legislature met on January 1, 1871. Ex-Governor Palmer and General Oglesby were also candidates. A majority of the candidates for both houses were men of high character and, if elected, would know no bosses or any power but the dictates of their own consciences and the maintenance of their principles in the selection of a United States senator. Their choice for United States senator would be based absolutely on their desire to elect the men whom they believed would serve the best interests of the great State of Illinois.

The three most popular candidates had splendid records in the Civil War. Two had occupied, with great credit to themselves and the State, the highest position within the gift of the people of Illinois. General Logan was then in Congress from the State at large, and therefore could be said to be enjoying honorable reward for his services. He was disinclined to accept the nomination of Congressman-at-large, preferring the position of United States senator. He had resigned his seat in Congress to go into the army, and felt that after five years of hazardous service in the army he had earned the position he desired. Therefore he finally agreed to take his chances in the senatorial contest. He went to [284] Washington December I for the beginning of the session. Returning to Illinois for the Christmas holidays, he decided to go at once to Springfield, the capital, to be present when the legislature met, and to enter the contest. We had adopted Miss Kate Logan, a distant relative, one of the talented and beautiful Logan sisters, aunt of Commander George Logan of the United States Navy. She was a fascinating girl with a charming manner and a fine, highly cultivated voice. We begged General Logan to let us go with him to Springfield, and, as it was hard for him to refuse any request from me, he consented. He secured a suite of rooms for us on the second floor of the Leland Hotel, kept by that prince of landlords, Mr. Horace Wiggins, who was untiring in his efforts to make us comfortable. The general had a suite of rooms on the first floor as headquarters, where men congregated to talk politics and discuss their plans.

I consulted Mr. and Mrs. Wiggins and told them I wanted to change the aspect of our rooms to make them as nearly homelike as possible. Our daughter, Dollie, was in school in Cincinnati; Baby John A. Logan, Jr., was with us in the hands of a good nurse, but I wanted him to be in our rooms much of the time. Mr.Wiggins and Mrs. Wiggins obligingly took a personal interest in everything and very soon we had a large drawing-room with plenty of easy chairs, sofas, a piano, and other appointments found in a home. The citizens of Springfield gave us a warm welcome. Many ladies called and extended invitations for luncheons, dinners, teas, and receptions. We reciprocated by inviting them to spend much time with us in our rooms at the hotel. Kate sang and played by the hour, and our drawing-rooms soon became the rendezvous for a majority of the members and senators and young people of Springfield, who entered with enthusiasm into the spirit of the good time. I wish I could recall some of the good stories that were told or hear again the peals of laughter they provoked. They all enjoyed themselves. Every night it was [285] long past the midnight hour before the happy parties broke up and our guests sought their rooms or homes in the city.

Among the members and senators were some of the ablest men in the State. In those days men who were incorruptible and independent in every sense of the word accepted nominations for the legislature. They had the courage of their convictions and were not subservient to the influences of corporations, trusts, or combinations. The majority were not self-serving, but patriotic, far-seeing men, loyal to their trusts and faithful in the discharge of their public duties. The most solemn among them enjoyed coming to our rooms, sitting in an easy chair listening to good music, stories, and anecdotes, or telling stories themselves. General Logan led them on by his own jocular disposition into forgetfulness of the passing of time. The newspaper correspondents-friends and foes-came and went at their pleasure. There was nothing going on that they were not permitted to know all about; hence they could not in conscience write anything disagreeable or indulge in criticism.

Colonel Clark E. Carr, of Galesburg, Illinois; General T. O. Osborne, of Chicago; General Thomas Scott; General Berry; Colonel William L. Distin; Colonel Beardsley, of Rock Island; Judge R. S. Tuthill; Colonel E. S. McCook; Colonel R. N. Pearson; Colonel Rowett S. D. Phelps; Cadet Taylor; General Shaffer; Captain Isaac Clements; and a host of others were in and out continually, doing far more effective work in influencing voters than if they had adopted the methods that are said to have been in vogue in later years. It was a new feature in politics, and I can not refrain, egotistical as it may seem, from incorporating the report of one of the correspondents in the Evening Post of January 6, 1871:

The levees which Mrs. Logan is constantly holding in her parlors in the Leland have not been properly “written up,” but their interest is certainly sufficient to justify mention. The Tribune has gazed into Parlor No. 26 from the standpoint of a humorist, and [286] the Times from the standpoint of a clown; and it is high time that the public is permitted to see it as it is. It may readily be admitted, to begin with, that it is one of the phenomena of this exciting struggle-one of its very pleasantest and most grateful features. Here, directly over the headquarters of the general himself, is a levee always in session presided over by Mrs. Logan herself, who is assisted by her husband's younger brother and his handsome cousin, Miss Logan. In this room all are welcome and all are graciously received, and to this room almost all the members of the first, second, and third houses have beat a retreat at some time during the heat of the contest. It is where they go to escape for a moment from the fetid atmosphere of politics. In Parlor No. 26 politics are not among the refreshments. It is an oasis of peace in a desert of wrangling. It is a retreat, a neutral ground which the combatants of both sides fly to, to get their soured hearts sweetened with music and their bewildered brains cooled by sensible conversation.

Mrs. Logan is a native of Missouri, transplanted to southern Illinois--a small, fragile lady with an attractive mobile face, a mass of turbulent black hair and sharp eyes selected to match it, a wide experience of the social world, a good fund of information, abundant wit, and a ready tongue freighted with complaisance and suavity. She certainly impresses very favorably all who come within her influence. Having accompanied her husband in the field, she is acquainted with camp life in its varied phases. At Belmont and Fort Henry, at Donelson and Vicksburg, she hovered on the edge of battle, and kept her eye fondly on one particular flag. Is it extraordinary that she should follow his fortunes with equal fidelity now? And is it anything less than infamous that her fair name should now be made the subject of insults in the Chicago Republican, whose editor, when a correspondent in the field, broke free bread at her table for weeks together and rode her husband's horses and drank gratuitously of the commissary whiskey? Strangers and lifelong enemies are safe from the outrageous calumnies of this young man; it is only those whose guests he has been that he assails.

Mrs. Logan dresses neatly and plainly: a black silk, edged with satin, point laces, a silken knot at the throat, and a gold chain. Her parlor is an exchange of suavities; she never herself introduces the subject of politics, but, if asked, has no hesitation in confessing that she is strongly prejudiced in favor of Logan, and [287] in stating tersely why she thinks he ought to be sent to Washington. She is never aggressive or intrusive on this point, but is fearless and confident and exercises her woman's right of speech with such persuasive tact that there is no doubt whatever that she has made some votes for the coming man. Doubtless a round dozen of gentlemen from the unpaved districts have crossed that charming threshold, confident that they were for Oglesby or “neutral,” who have ever since worked steadily for the swarthy little general, and haven't any idea what changed their minds. The fascinations are so thoroughly disguised that even the Oglesby man is disarmed in their presence, but he feels their potency.

This evening, about supper-time, Oglesby and Mrs. Logan, old acquaintances, met in the hall and after an exchange of compliments, a dialogue ensued, somewhat like this:

Mrs. Logan: “Ah, general, I fear you are forgetting the old-school politeness that used to become you so well; you have not called on me.”

Oglesby: “Well, madam, the fact is that I am afraid to subject myself to your blandishments. You are making trouble here; I am afraid I might leave your presence a Logan man.”

Mrs. Logan: “Now, general, don't joke; I would like to see you sociably; you would meet a good many pleasant people at my rooms; it would do you good.”

Oglesby: “I am not sure about that. I wish you would leave town, Mrs. Logan. You see I am forgetting my politeness. But I really think it is an unfair advantage.”

Mrs. Logan: “Not at all. You are suffering one of the disabilities of bachelorhood, as you ought. It seems to me obvious that General Logan should have the senatorship. He has not received any promotion since the year he volunteered for the army, and you have been governor ever so long. Now, general, you see you can be senator next time-or what do you say to Congressman-at-large?”

Mrs. Logan was as gracious as could be, and the fact that she did not mean to be impertinent rendered the last proposal exceedingly cunning, and the old soldier smiled a broad, deep, long, thoughtful, profound, and penetrating smile and withdrew, promising to think about it.

On January 17, 1871, at twelve o'clock, the two houses met in joint session. The vote was as follows: Senate-- [288] Logan, 32; T. J. Turner (Democratic candidate ), 18. House-Logan, 101; Turner, 70; William H. Snyder, 2. Logan was then declared duly elected United States senator, vice Richard Yates, for six years from the fourth day of March, 1871.

A committee visited General Logan and announced the good news to him, when he appeared before the assembly and addressed them as follows: Mr. President, and gentlemen of the Senate and House of Representatives:

I find myself at a loss for appropriate language to express my high appreciation of the distinguished honor you do me in conferring upon me the position of United States Senator, and I can only assure you that my heart wells up with gratitude to you; and, through you, as their representatives, I desire to convey my grateful acknowledgments to the people of Illinois. It is very gratifying to me that I have been chosen with such unanimity by political friends as to leave no serious wounds to be healed. The contest has been one marked with a degree of kindness of feeling among political friends that is very unusual, but highly commendable. The greatest respect has been and is entertained for the ability, integrity, and generosity of those who sought the same position at your hands.

To the interests, prosperity, and happiness of the people of this State I am allied by the closest ties. Born in the midst of this people, I have passed with them through the storms of adversity and the sunshine of prosperity. Their interest is my interest; their prosperity is my prosperity; their hopes and aspirations are mine. All I have ever been or will be, I owe to the people of this State. They have sustained me beyond that which I had a right to expect. For that I owe to them a debt of gratitude that I fear I shall never be able to pay. Whether I shall come up to the standard fixed for me by my friends, or their hopes and anticipations be dashed to the earth, must be left to the future to disclose. I shall, however, enter upon my duties, giving whatever of abilities and energy I may possess to the promotion of the interests of our whole country, but especially shall I devote myself to the interests of that constituency which I shall immediately represent; and trusting implicitly in Divine Providence to guide me in the right direction, I hope to succeed in making you a faithful [289] senator. Again thanking you, with all the warmth of my heart, for your partiality in conferring upon me this great honor, I, for the present, bid you farewell.

It is a melancholy fact that with all our boasted progress along all lines of civilization the question of the election of a United States senator should have degenerated to its present level, and it is one of the incomprehensible questions why this should be. It would be considered disloyal to suggest that there has been a decadence of patriotism and that men of meaner minds have been destined to represent the people in the legislatures of the various States, that money has taken the place of higher motives, and that a majority are prompted to seek these positions by a desire to advance their pecuniary interest, expecting to receive a reward from wealthy and ambitious men for their support of these parties for the position of United States senator. They ignore altogether the very necessary qualities of patriotism and integrity so essential in all members of the United States Senate.

General Logan took his seat March 4, 1871. He soon found that election to the Senate multiplied instead of decreased his work. He was ambitious to comply with every legitimate request of the people of the State, and to co-operate with senators in their advocacy of measures for the general welfare of the country and nation. His comprehension of all subjects, and his — up to that time-tireless energies enabled him to perform stupendous labors. His personal relations with every member of the Illinois delegation were most cordial, notwithstanding his intense loyalty to his party.

In May, 1871, in connection with the delegation, he secured an appropriation of eighty-five thousand dollars for the improvement of the Illinois River and Hennepin Canal. Every movement for the development of the resources of his State claimed his faithful vigilance and earnest labors.

My own social duties were quadrupled, and I was [290] determined that I should not be found ignorant of, or remiss in, the discharge of them. In addition, hordes of the people from the great State of Illinois, and especially from Chicago, were continually arriving in Washington. A majority of them hastened to find us and to claim our time to assist them in accomplishing the object of their visit, whether it was sightseeing, seeking appointments, or a glimpse of society. General Logan knew that he could rely on me to assume the r061e of guide and chaperon and to secure the introduction to every sanctum of the capital which they wished to enter. He usually brought me a long list of engagements he had made for me to contribute to the pleasure of his visiting constituents.

Early in May I returned to Carbondale, as the general had concluded, after conferring with many of our friends, that it would be a wise thing for him to remove to Chicago. There existed at that time a sentiment in regard to the geographical location of the homes of senators, and Chicago claimed that it should be the residence of one of the senators from Illinois. General Logan had bought a house in Chicago sometime before, which a friend had been occupying, intending to go to Chicago to practise law, if he had not gone into politics in 1866. We had always lived in southern Illinois, and it was a tremendous wrench to take our goods and gods away from Egypt, and to take up our abode in a great city. After Congress adjourned the general went to Chicago to have our house put in order for us, and I took charge of the packing, making good-by visits, and trying to reconcile these old friends to the change we were about to make. My part of it was no small task, and I had to explain over and over again “the reasons why.” Finally, in August, we shipped our goods and bade good-by to friends who were very dear to us.

Our house in Chicago was located on Calumet Avenue, just north of the Twenty-second Street depot of the Lake Shore, about the middle of the block, with detached houses on the [291] north and south sides of us. The houses fronted west, the rear facing the lake. We had broad lawns that extended down to the track of the Illinois Central Railroad, with no division fences, and it was a most beautiful location. Here we spent many happy years during the interim between the sessions of Congress. I was obliged to dispose of this home after General Logan's death, and have since had the painful experience of seeing it fall before the march of the resistless commercialism of Chicago.

We had not gotten our home settled when that fearful holocaust of October 9, 1871, swallowed all of Chicago north of Twelfth Street to Lincoln Park. We had friends calling on Sunday evening, when we heard the continuous ringing of the fire-bell and went out on top of the house, where there was an observatory, to try to locate the fire. In the northwest we saw the heavens lighted up by the flames, which were consuming the wooden houses and lumber in the lumber districts of northwest Chicago. It seemed many miles away; so, after watching it for hours, we descended to our rooms, our friends departed, and we retired. In the early morning we were awakened by a great confusion in the street and looked out upon our front lawn to find the whole of the block from Twenty-first to Twenty-second Streets occupied by every conceivable article of merchandise. Men, women, and children were crying and wringing their hands, having come from the fire district to our locality as a place of safety. The alleys in the rear of our barn were full of tremendous trucks loaded with goods. We hastily dressed and came out to open our doors to welcome these frightened and stricken people. On General Logan's going to the alley to see what he could do there, he found that the goods which J. V. Farwell & Company had rescued from the fire were being piled high in the rear of our barns. He quickly had the coachman open the doors and, in a twinkling, almost every inch of space in the barn and its loft was occupied by cases of priceless laces and [292] rare imported goods. Our first thought was that all the supplies would be cut off, as the gas-house on the north side had been exploded, and the gas was escaping from every main all over the city. We realized that we should be in total darkness when the sun went down. I hurried over to Twenty-second Street and bought from our grocer and butcher large quantities of supplies, including boxes of candles which we had to use for many days. We had no candlesticks, but in their place found that empty bottles served every purpose.

I shall not attempt to describe the horrors of many days and nights. I joined the army of people residing south of Twelfth Street who were, without exception, gathering together all they could get to take to the churches that were being used for hospitals and for sheltering homeless people. They had gone into old barns, residences, churches, and houses, and every place that furnished a roof for the people that had fled from their homes. General Logan and General Sheridan had had much experience in such catastrophes during the Civil War, and they rendered valuable service by assuming direction of the armies of men who were tearing down houses, and using the fire department as much as they could in breaking the fire line. Almost every one was worn out, and some were so exhausted that there was nothing to do but to lie down wherever they could get shelter. The patriotic and noble State of Illinois responded within a few hours with train-loads of provisions and supplies of all kinds for the immediate relief of the victims of the fire district. The world knows the generous response that came from all over the globe and of the long and tedious months when armies of men, women, and children had no resource but to visit the relief depots and have issued to them their daily supplies. When we look at Chicago to-day, we realize the situation during those unhappy early days of October, 1871. About one hundred persons, and tons of goods of delicate and valuable character were in our house for more than two weeks. [293] We had to have as many cooks as could be utilized in a private kitchen, and the range was going from early morning until late at night to furnish meals for these friends who had been deprived of their homes and abiding-places. The memory of meeting the survivors of families that had been swept by the flames from their homes through the darkness of that Sunday night will abide with me forevermore. We found men broken and weary, weeping like children because they knew not where their families were. We found women crying for their babes; babes crying for their mothers; wives in tears over the loss of their husbands and their homes. Hand-presses of Chicago and the newspaper presses of the neighboring towns and cities were busy publishing the names and location of persons, hoping in this way that their friends and families might learn of the whereabouts of their loved ones. Hundreds of families were reunited in this way who had not known for days how many of them were alive. The hospitality of the districts not included in the fire, and that of the towns and homes within miles of Chicago was taxed to its utmost. Many died and were borne to their last resting-places unattended by any member of their family, and but for the records that were kept, and the stories that were told before these poor creatures died, their fate would never have been known. Bodies were recovered from the tunnels and in out-of-the-way places where the victims had succumbed in their attempt to escape from the smoke, darkness, and confusion that reigned supreme for the hours between sundown Sunday night and Monday morning.

General Logan was more deeply impressed with the horrors of the Chicago fire than with anything he had ever experienced. His prodigious efforts in Congress as soon as it assembled in December, 1871, told the story of how deeply his great heart was stirred by the misfortune of his beloved city of Chicago. Through his efforts the Government did very much to enable the city to rise from its ashes. Probably Chicago [294] would not be the city it is to-day but for this unutterable calamity which may have been a blessing in disguise. It roused an indomitable spirit in the men of that generation and those that have followed them which has never been exceeded by mankind.

In November, 1871, we returned to Washington and removed to No. 8 Grant Place, to a house occupied by MajorHayden and Mrs. Hayden, brother of Professor Hayden of the geological survey. The members of the Hayden family and ourselves being the only occupants of the house, it was more like our own home would have been than anything we had previously had in Washington. The house was new and well appointed, and Mrs. Hayden was a delightful housekeeper; hence we had all the comforts of a home without any of the cares and the indispensable vexations attending housekeeping. Katie Logan was with us, and we had a very delightful time on account of her wonderful musical genius. Every evening our parlors were crowded with friends who came to enjoy her music.

General Logan on his entrance into the Senate was made chairman of the military committee, greatly to the disgust of General Ames, who had been chairman of that committee prior to General Logan. General Logan was also second on the committee on judiciary, second on the committee on appropriations, and second on the committee on privileges and elections. The amount of work which devolved upon him as a member of these important committees was something prodigious. He had very little time for recreation, and constantly devoted himself to his duties. To the labors of the committees was added a voluminous correspondence, as he was commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, and had so lately occupied the position of Congressman-at-large from the State of Illinois that his constituents did not relinquish their claim upon him, but desired him to attend to everything in which they were interested. The collection of pensions, [295] back pay, and bounty, and the inquiries which followed the passage of his bill for the establishment of the geological survey also augmented the work of the daily grind very much. Naturally, I could not see my husband working day and night without also doing what I could to share in the burdens of the drudgery attending the detail of proper attention to these various interests.

Among the first things that confronted him was the contested election case of Ransom and Abbott of North Carolina. Abbott was a Republican and had demanded the throwing out of the votes cast for Ransom, which would have given him (Abbott) the majority of the North Carolina legislature, and secured for him a seat in the United States Senate. General Logan, though a steadfast Republican partisan, differed with the committee in his opinion of the case. Upon its submission to him, he asked for a delay of one week before making the report of the committee. He had, in a way, scanned the evidence and thought that to throw out Ransom's votes would be an outrage in view of the facts then existing. There seemed to be no evidence that any fraud had been perpetrated in the election of those members of the North Carolina legislature whose votes Abbott demanded should be thrown out. It further seemed from the evidence that was before the committee that, even if Abbott's demands were acceded to, he was not the choice of a majority of the legislature.

The amount of work that General Logan put on this case was beyond description. He came home one evening telling me that he had asked for the delay in submitting the report, but had previously sent his clerk to the Library of Congress to get such authority as parallel cases afforded, or cases bearing on these contested elections. The mail-wagon brought to our house that evening five bags of books from the Library of the Senate and the Congressional Library. These books were journals and reports of law cases. To read each of the cases and at the same time attend to the duties of [296] each day would have been impossible. When General Logan had anything very important that he desired to do and wanted to be sure he made no mistake about it, he always asked me to hunt up the information for him, for he insisted that he could trust me implicitly to give him the facts of a case without perverting them, as is often done by secretaries who are more anxious to please their chief than to disappoint him in not finding material he desires.

Three days and three nights we stayed in the back parlor, which was the general's office, working on this case, with the exception of the few hours that General Logan had to go to the Senate to be present during the session. We had our meals served in our rooms, and never went to bed during the three days and nights except for an hour or so in the early morning. While he was at the Capitol I ran over these various cases, wrote on slips of paper what they were and the points upon which they bore, and marked for him the paragraphs that were most important. When he came in, as soon as we had our dinner he would take these volumes and read only the paragraphs which I had marked for him. Notwithstanding the digest which I had prepared, it was almost impossible to have his report ready for the meeting of the committee at the end of the week. We had no such helps in those days as stenography and typewriting; all this work had to be done by writing it out in longhand, and after deciding which cases had the strongest bearing upon the position he had taken he wrote out his report, giving the authority, the case, the page, and the paragraph in support of his decision. When he asked for the delay in the submitting of the report, it was to prevent the committee from making a favorable report on the case and casting out Ransom's votes. When he had made his argument before the committee he changed the whole feature of the case, and an adverse report was made upon the side of Abbott and in favor of Ransom. Naturally we were pretty well worn out for a week afterward, but we [297] were young in those days and soon recovered from the overtaxing of our mental and physical strength.

January 1, 1872, PresidentGrant and Mrs. Grant gave the usual New Year's reception. There were most elaborate preparations made for the reception, as there was at that time a greater number of officers of high rank of the army, navy, and marine corps in Washington than have ever been there at one time before or since. The Diplomatic Corps was represented by distinguished men, as Washington had been considered an important post during the long years of the Civil War.

New Year's Day was bright and clear, and at an early hour — as the reception was to begin at ten o'clock in the morning — the streets were full of carriages en route to the White House. Mrs. Grant had invited the ladies of the cabinet and the Supreme Court and the wives of the more prominent members and senators. I was fortunate enough to be included on this list, and I shall never forget the remarkable splendor of the occasion. Every member of the Diplomatic Corps was in full court dress, wearing innumerable decorations. They were accompanied by ladies who, it seems to me now, were very superior in their gracious manners to those whom I have met in later years. The ladies' jewels were quite as dazzling as those of the orders worn by their husbands. Sir Edward and Lady Thornton; Baron and Madame Gerolt--who set the magnanimous example of giving the French fair such articles as she had been unable to use in the German fair for the relief of the wounded and unfortunate of the Franco-Prussian War-accompanied by her beautiful daughter, who subsequently took the veil in the Convent of the Visitation at Washington; the distinguished Spanish minister and his brilliant wife, wearing flame color and yellow, and resplendent diamonds half veiled by her rich Chantilly; Count Marquis de Chambrun, many years an attache of the French legation, with his charming wife, a descendant of Lafayette; Madame Catacazy, wife of the [298] Russian minister, with her great beauty heightened by her wealth of golden hair, who created such a sensation by her magnificent dress and diamonds, represented the Diplomatic Corps.

The ladies of the cabinet who were not assisting in the reception accompanied their husbands and sustained themselves admirably as representative American women.

In the throng there were such distinguished persons as Gail Hamilton-Mrs. Blaine's cousin-Sydney Hyde, Mary Clemmer Ames, Miss Foote, John W. Forney, Ben Perley Poore, and many other representatives of literary circles, while Senators Fenton, Conkling, Chandler, Bayard, Morton, Ferry, Howard, Drake, Carpenter, Thurman, Edmunds, Frelinghuysen, Fessenden, William Pitt Kellogg, and hosts of others represented the Senate. Of the House, there was Wilson, of Iowa; Frye and Blaine, of Maine; Hawley, of Connecticut; Pomeroy, of Kansas; Farnsworth and Burchard, of Illinois, and many others whose names are associated with the stirring events of that era.

To this brilliant galaxy were added our army, navy, and marine corps, all in the full-dress uniforms of their respective branches — of the service, wearing all the medals and gold lace to which they were entitled. Almost all of them were accompanied by wives or daughters, who, not wishing to be outdone in expressing their appreciation of the occasion, had worn their most beautiful costumes, many carrying magnificent furs.

The mantels of all the reception-rooms, the red, blue, green, and east rooms, were banked with most gorgeous flowers, while palms and pots of flowering plants were distributed in every available spot. The brilliant lights of the crystal chandeliers made it a veritable fairy scene. The well-known Marine Band, led by Professor Scala, with their red coats and blue trousers heavily trimmed with gold lace, played in the corridor and added much to the gayety.

President Grant was most democratic in his manner, and had [299] given instructions that none who came to pay their respects should be excluded from the White House. Consequently, an hour after the programme had been finished along line of citizens and visitors, two abreast, passed through the White House, halting only long enough to speak to President Grant. It was after twelve o'clock when the last one had been gratified by a welcome to the White House.

Secretary Fish had the customary breakfast for the Diplomatic Corps, foreign relations committees of both houses, and other distinguished guests, who did full justice to the bounteous buffet feast. It was then the custom for persons receiving on New Year's Day to furnish refreshment, and it has been said that there were barrels of egg-nog used every New Year's Day in Washington. Iregret, sometimes, that the good old custom of New Year's receptions with their accompaniment of beautiful ladies, flowers, music, refreshments, and cordial greetings has passed away. It seems that one should be able to make this day a happy one, to renew old acquaintances and make new friends, to start the year as it should be started — with good cheer.

The New Year's reception was the beginning of the social season, and was rapidly followed by state dinners and receptions in the White House, in the homes of the cabinet, in the homes of the Diplomatic Corps, justices of the Supreme Court, members of both houses of Congress, and prominent and wealthy people of Washington. As I remember it, no administration has exceeded that of PresidentGrant and Mrs. Grant's in hospitality. President Grant was very fortunate in choosing members of his cabinet who seemed to realize that they had to make acknowledgment of the honor which had been conferred upon them in some way besides the daily routine of properly discharging their official duties. There were hosts of beautiful women in Washington at that time who had been well-trained for the positions they occupied. Social events seemed less attended by commercial features than they are [300] to-day. Men and women apparently laid aside everything for the purpose of greeting their friends and making them feel that they had time enough to devote to their entertainment.

As if to emphasize their welcome of General Logan and myself to the senatorial circle, we had many invitations for dinner, PresidentGrant and Mrs. Grant inviting us for the first state dinner of the season, notwithstanding the fact that the letter “L” was low down on the alphabetical list. Members of the cabinet and senior senators and their wives included us among their guests for the first dinners after New Year's Day. Those were delightful functions and we enjoyed them to the full.

Mrs. Kate Chase Sprague presided over the home of Chief Justice Chase. There could not possibly have been sisters more unlike each other than were the Chase sisters, not only in personal appearance but in disposition, talents, and characteristics. Nettie, though of a plainer face, was one of the most gentle, modest, retiring, and lovable characters that one could possibly imagine. Their mother had died when they were both quite young. Kate was the elder; hence, when she was in her teens she was mistress of her father's house, and presided over the executive mansion while he was governor of Ohio. Her remarkable beauty attracted much attention. Her famous Titian hair, peach-blow complexion, graceful figure; and bewitching manners seemed to have especially fitted her for the position which she was destined to occupy.

Soon after Mr. Lincoln's inauguration Mr. Chase was chosen Secretary of the Treasury and took up his residence in Washington in a commodious house on the corner of Fifth and E Streets, N. W;, which was then considered an eligible part of the city. It was not long before his daughter Kate became the leader in society. Her inborn diplomacy enabled her to harmonize the discordant elements then existing in Washington and to capture the Diplomatic Corps, who were [301] extravagant in their admiration of her brilliant conversational powers and incomparable beauty. Her devotees were innumerable, and no queen ever held a more imperious sway than did Kate Chase. Legions of suitors sought her hand, apparently without touching her heart. Finally Governor Sprague, the multimillionaire merchant of Rhode Island, joined the ranks of suppliants for her favor. After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Sprague departed for Europe. The newspapers were full of reports of the lavish expenditures of Mrs. Sprague. Her wardrobe was equal to that possessed by crowned heads-priceless jewels and laces were added to her collection, and excesses of all kinds characterized the honeymoon of this ill-mated pair. Before their return home hints were given in the press that the old house of Sprague Brothers was approaching failure. Governor Sprague, however, was elected to the United States Senate. At the beginning of the session they took up their abode with Chief Justice Chase, and Mrs. Sprague resumed her accustomed sway as the wife of a senator.

Late in January, at the height of the season, sorrow came to us through the death of the illustrious Eliza Logan Wood, elder sister of our adopted daughter, Kate Logan. She had been one of the most brilliant actresses of her day. She played all the many roles in legitimate drama for a female tragedian. She was the daughter of Cornelius Logan, one of the celebrated actors of his time. She was once a great favorite in the South and West, and on her benefit nights she was often the recipient of rare and valuable gifts. On one of these occasions a wealthy Southern planter, residing in the interior of Georgia, travelled many miles on horseback to see Miss Logan act, accompanied only by his faithful negro boy servant. The planter and his servant attended the play. He was enthusiastic over Miss Logan's acting, and was most anxious to convey to her some expression of thanks for the pleasure which she had afforded him. Taking a card from [302] his card-case, he wrote above his address the words: “To Miss Eliza Logan, with the compliments of--” and, pinning it upon the coat-sleeve of his faithful negro valet (worth at the then market price two thousand dollars), bade him present himself to his new mistress. The slave presented himself at the stage-door, and the management advised Miss Logan of his presence. She was much amazed, and, not knowing what to do with him during her nomadic career, resolved to return him. The following morning Miss Logan returned the slave to his owner, with an autographic letter couched in such terms that the planter was more than satisfied. This is probably the only instance in this country when a human being was ever presented to an artist as a token of esteem.

Miss Logan was so successful that she took care of her mother and sisters and when she was married had a large fortune in her own right. She married Mr. George Wood, retired from the stage, and continued to reside in New York until her death, January 15, 1872.

General W. W. Belknap had succeeded General John A. Rawlins as Secretary of War. He and his bride — for he had not long been married to his second wife-took up their residence on Lafayette Square in a house that was long considered a fatal place of abode on account of the tragic events that had taken place in and near the plain red brick, three-story building that was removed to make place for the present Belasco Theatre. This house had been occupied by Secretary William H. Seward at the time of the assault upon him when Mr. Lincoln was assassinated. Mrs. Belknap's death cast a shadow over the gayeties of the official circles.

In March a great sorrow came into our own household through the death of our adopted daughter, the talented and beautiful Kate Logan. Early in the month she expressed a desire to make a visit to her mother, who resided in Philadelphia. She had been such an assistance and had won so many friends that we were loath to do without her, but we [303] appreciated her loyalty and devotion to her widowed mother, and therefore consented to her going. She had been in Philadelphia only a few days when we received a telegram that she was dangerously ill from peritonitis. I hurried to her bedside, and the moment I saw her I knew that death was near. I telegraphed to General Logan and to Doctor J. M. Woodworth, superintendent of the Marine Hospital Service, to whom she was engaged. They came at once and immediately secured the ablest skill in the profession, and everything that was possible was done to save her life, but all to no avail. She died in my arms, surrounded by her family, among them her brothers, Thomas A. Logan, of Cincinnati, and C. A. Logan, of Leavenworth, Kansas. Her father, Cornelius A. Logan, the distinguished tragedian, and other members of her family, were buried in Cincinnati, at Glenwood Cemetery, and so it was decided that her remains should be taken to that city. It was a long, sad journey, and cast such a shadow over our home, which she had made so bright by her gracious manners and lovely voice, that we could not rally for some time. I withdrew from further participation in social affairs during that session of Congress.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Washington (United States) (23)
Chicago (Illinois, United States) (17)
Illinois (Illinois, United States) (12)
United States (United States) (9)
Tunstall (Virginia, United States) (6)
Springfield, Mo. (Missouri, United States) (4)
Cincinnati (Ohio, United States) (3)
West Point (Georgia, United States) (2)
St. Louis (Missouri, United States) (2)
North Carolina (North Carolina, United States) (2)
Carbondale, Illinois (Illinois, United States) (2)
Arlington (Virginia, United States) (2)
Wisconsin (Wisconsin, United States) (1)
Vicksburg (Mississippi, United States) (1)
Rock Island, Ill. (Illinois, United States) (1)
Riverside (Missouri, United States) (1)
Rhode Island (Rhode Island, United States) (1)
Ohio (Ohio, United States) (1)
Missouri (Missouri, United States) (1)
Michigan (Michigan, United States) (1)
Mexico, Mo. (Missouri, United States) (1)
Maine (Maine, United States) (1)
Leavenworth, Kansas (Kansas, United States) (1)
Kansas (Kansas, United States) (1)
Iowa (Iowa, United States) (1)
Hennepin Canal (Illinois, United States) (1)
Georgia (Georgia, United States) (1)
Galesburg (Illinois, United States) (1)
Fort Henry (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Europe (1)
Donelson (Indiana, United States) (1)
Connecticut (Connecticut, United States) (1)
Chantilly (Virginia, United States) (1)
Capitol (Utah, United States) (1)
Belmont, Ma. (Massachusetts, United States) (1)
Annapolis (Maryland, United States) (1)
Alleghany Mountains (United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Kate Logan (30)
John A. Logan (29)
Nellie Grant (13)
Ben Butler (11)
Katie Logan (9)
Whittemore (7)
John A. Rawlins (7)
Kate Chase Sprague (6)
Abbott (6)
Ransom (5)
R. J. Oglesby (5)
Horace Wiggins (4)
Eliza Logan (4)
Hayden (4)
Kate Chase (4)
George H. Thomas (3)
John Sherman (3)
Cornelius Logan (3)
W. W. Belknap (3)
T. J. Turner (2)
William Smith (2)
Alexander Shepherd (2)
George Logan (2)
Cornelius A. Logan (2)
Robert T. Lincoln (2)
James G. Blaine (2)
Mary Clemmer Ames (2)
Richard Yates (1)
J. M. Woodworth (1)
George Wood (1)
James F. Wilson (1)
Richard S. Tuthill (1)
Allen G. Thurman (1)
Edward Thornton (1)
E. D. Taylor (1)
William H. Snyder (1)
Sheridan (1)
Shaffer (1)
William H. Seward (1)
Thomas Scott (1)
Scala (1)
Russian (1)
Ben Perley Poore (1)
Pomeroy (1)
Rowett S. D. Phelps (1)
R. N. Pearson (1)
Lincoln Park (1)
Potter Palmer (1)
T. O. Osborne (1)
Crosby S. Noyes (1)
A. B. Mullett (1)
L. P. Morton (1)
Edwin S. McCook (1)
Thomas A. Logan (1)
Lafayette (1)
L'Enfant (1)
William Pitt Kellogg (1)
Hyde (1)
J. R. Hawley (1)
Gail Hamilton (1)
Baron Gerolt (1)
Jacob Frye (1)
Frederick T. Frelinghuysen (1)
John W. Forney (1)
Foote (1)
Edith Fish (1)
Fessenden (1)
Fenton (1)
J. V. Farwell (1)
John F. Farnsworth (1)
Edmunds (1)
Drake (1)
J. W. Douglas (1)
William L. Distin (1)
Roscoe Conkling (1)
Isaac Clements (1)
Kilburn Claggett (1)
Zachary Chandler (1)
Marquis Chambrun (1)
Catacazy (1)
Clark E. Carr (1)
Matthew H. Carpenter (1)
Burchard (1)
Berry (1)
Beardsley (1)
Thomas Bayard (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: