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To the Reader.—This statement was prepared in March, shortly after the debate in the Senate, but was withheld at that time from unwillingness to take part in the controversy, while able friends regarded the question of principle involved as above every personal issue. Yielding at last to various pressure, Mr. Sumner concluded to present it at the recent called session of the Senate, but the Treaty with Great Britain and the case of the newspaper correspondents were so engrossing as to leave no time for anything else.

Washington, June, 1871.

Mr. Sumner—While I was under trial before the Senate, on articles of impeachment presented by the Senator from Wisconsin (Mr. Howe), I forbore taking any part in the debate, even in reply to allegations, asserted to be of decisive importance, touching my relations with the [564] President and Secretary of State. All this was trivial enough; but numerous appeals to me, from opposite parts of the country, show that good people have been diverted by these allegations from the question of principle involved. Without intending in any way to revive the heats of that debate, I am induced to make a plain statement of facts, so that the precise character of those relations shall be known. I do this with unspeakable reluctance, but in the discharge of a public duty where the claims of patriotism are above even those of self-defence. The Senate and the country have an interest in knowing the truth of this matter, and so also has the Republican party, which cannot be indifferent to pretensions in its name; nor will anything but the completest frankness be proper for the occasion.

In overcoming this reluctance I am aided by Senators who are determined to make me speak. The Senator from Wisconsin (Mr. Howe), who appears as prosecuting officer, after alleging these personal relations as the gravamen of accusation against me—making the issue pointedly on this floor, and actually challenging reply—not content with the opportunity of this Chamber, hurried to the public press, where he repeated the accusation, and now circulates it, as I am told, under his frank, crediting it in formal terms to the liberal paper in which it appeared, but without allusion to the editorial refutation which accompanied it. On still another occasion, appearing still as prosecuting officer, the same Senator volunteered out of his own invention to denounce me as leaving the Republican party; and this he did, with infinite personality of language and manner, in the very face of my speech—to which he was replying—where, in positive words, I declare that I speak ‘for the sake of the Republican party,’ which I hope to save from responsibility for wrongful acts, and then, in other words, making the whole assumption of the Senator an impossibility, I announce, that in speaking for the Republican party it is ‘because from the beginning I have been the faithful servant of that party, and aspire to see it strong and triumphant.’ In the face of this declared aspiration, in harmony with my whole life, the Senator delivered his attack, and, assuming to be nothing less than Pope, launched against me his bull of excommunication. Then, again playing Pope, he took back his thunder, with the apology that others thought so; and this alleged understanding of others, he did not hesitate to set above my positive and contemporaneous language, that I aspired to see the Republican party strong and triumphant. Then came the Senator from Ohio (Mr. [565] Sherman), who, taking up his vacation pen, added to the articles of impeachment, by a supplementary allegation, adopted by the Senator under a misapprehension of facts. Here was another challenge. During all this time I have been silent. Senators have spoken, and then rushed into print; but I have said nothing. They have had their own way with regard to me. It is they who leave me no alternative.

It is alleged that I have no personal relations with the President. Here the answer is easy. I have precisely the relations which he has chosen. On reaching Washington in December last, I was assured from various quarters that the White House was angry with me, and soon afterward the public journals reported the President as saying to a Senator that if he were not President, he ‘would call me to account.’ What he meant I never understood, nor would I attribute to him more than he meant; but that he used the language reported I have no doubt, from information independent of the newspapers. I repeat that on this point I have no doubt. The same newspapers reported also, that a member of the President's household, enjoying his peculiar confidence, taking great part in the Santo Domingo scheme, had menaced me with personal violence. I could not believe the story except on positive, unequivocal testimony. That the menace was made on the condition of his not being an army officer, I do not doubt. The member of the household when interrogated by my excellent colleague (Mr. Wilson) positively denied the menace, but I am assured, on authority above question, that he has since acknowledged it, while the President still retains him in service, and sends him to this Chamber.

During this last session, I have opposed the Presidential policy on an important question; but always without one word touching motives, or one suggestion of corruption on his part, although I never doubted that there were actors in the business who could claim no such immunity. It now appears that Fabens, who came here as plenipotentiary to press the scheme, has concessions to such amount that the diplomatist is lost in the speculator. I always insisted that the President was no party to any such transaction. I should do injustice to my own feelings if I did not here declare my regret that I could not agree with the President. I tried to think as he did, but I could not. I listened to the arguments on his side; but in vain. The adverse considerations multiplied with time and reflection. To those who know the motives of my life, it is superfluous for me to add that I sought simply the good of my country [566] and Humanity, including especially the good of the African race, to which our country owes so much.

Already there was anger at the White House when the scheme to buy and annex half an island in the Caribbean Sea was pressed upon the Senate in legislative session, under the guise of appointing a Commission, and it became my duty to expose it. Here I was constrained to show how, at very large expense, the usurper Baez was maintained in power by the Navy of the United States, to enable him to sell his country, while at the same time the independence of the Black Republic was menaced, all of which was in violation of International Law, and of the Constitution of the United States, which reserves to Congress the power ‘to declare war.’ What I said was in open debate, where the record will speak for me. I hand it over to the most careful scrutiny, knowing that the President can take no just exception to it, unless he insists upon limiting proper debate, and boldly denies the right of a Senator to express himself freely on great acts of wrong. Nor will any Republican Senator admit that the President can impose his own sole will upon the Republican party. Our party is in itself a Republic with universal suffrage, and until a measure is adopted by the party, no Republican President can make it a party test.

Much as I am pained in making this statement with regard to the President, infinitely more painful to me is what I must present with regard to the Secretary of State. Here again I remark that I am driven to this explanation. His strange and unnatural conduct toward me, and his prompting of Senators, who, one after another, have set up my alleged relations with him as ground of complaint, make it necessary for me to proceed.

We were sworn as Senators on the same day, as far back as 1851, and from that distant time were friends, until the Santo Domingo business intervened. Nothing could exceed our kindly relations in the past. On the evening of the inauguration of Gen. Grant as President, he was at my house with Mr. Motley in friendly communion, and all uniting in aspirations for the new Administration. Little did Mr. Motley or myself imagine in that social hour that one of our little circle was so soon to turn upon us both.

Shortly afterward Mr. Fish became Secretary of State, and began his responsible duties by appealing to me for help. I need not say [567] that I had pleasure in responding to his call, and that I did what I could most sincerely and conscientiously to aid him. Of much, from his arrival down to his alienation on the Santo Domingo business, I possess the written record. For some time he showed a sympathy with the scheme almost as little as my own. But as the President grew in earnestness the Secretary yielded, until tardily he became its attorney. Repeatedly he came to my house, pleading for the scheme. Again and again he urged it; sometimes at my house and sometimes at his own. I was astonished that he could do so, and expressed my astonishment with the frankness of old friendship. For apology, he announced that he was the President's friend, and took office as such. ‘But,’ said I, ‘you should resign rather than do this thing.’ This I could not refrain from remarking on discovery from dispatches in the State Department that the usurper Baez was maintained in power by our navy. This plain act of wrong required instant redress; but the Secretary astonished me again by his insensibility to my appeal for justice. He maintained the President, as the President maintained Baez. I confess that I was troubled.

At last, some time in June, 1870, a few weeks before the Santo Domingo treaty was finally rejected by the Senate, the Secretary came to my house about 9 o'clock in the evening and remained till after the clock struck midnight, the whole protracted visit being occupied in earnest and reiterated appeal that I should cease my opposition to the Presidential scheme; and here he urged that the election which made Gen. Grant President had been carried by him and not by the Republican party, so that his desires were entitled to especial attention. In his pressure on me he complained that I had opposed other projects of the President. In reply to my inquiry he named the repeal of the Tenure-of-Office Act, and the nomination of Mr. Jones as Minister to Brussels, both of which the President had much at heart, and he concluded with the Santo Domingo treaty. I assured the Secretary firmly and simply that, seeing the latter as I did with all its surroundings, my duty was plain, and that I must continue to oppose it so long as it appeared to me wrong. He was not satisfied, and renewed his pressure in various forms, returning to the point again and again with persevering assiduity, that would not be arrested, when at last, finding me inflexible, he changed his appeal, saying, ‘Why not go to London? 1 offer you the English mission. It is yours.’ Of his authority from the President I know nothing. I speak only of what he said. My astonishment was [568] heightened by indignation at this too palpable attempt to take me from my post of duty; but I suppressed the feeling which rose to the lips, and, reflecting that he was an old friend and in my own house, answered gently, ‘We have a Minister there who cannot be bettered.’ Thus already did the mission to London begin to pivot on Santo Domingo.

I make this revelation only because it is important to a correct understanding of the case, and because the conversation from beginning to end was official in character, relating exclusively to public business, without suggestion or allusion of a personal nature, and absolutely without the slightest word on my part leading in the most remote degree to any such overture, which was unexpected as undesired. The offer of the Secretary was in no respect a compliment or kindness, but in the strict line of his endeavor to silence my opposition to the Santo Domingo scheme, as is too apparent from the facts, while it was plain, positive, and unequivocal, making its object and import beyond question. Had it been merely an inquiry, it were bad enough under the circumstances, but it was direct and complete as by a plenipotentiary.

Shortly afterward, being the day immediately following the rejection of the Santo Domingo Treaty, Mr. Motley was summarily removed, according to present pretence, for an offending not only trivial and formal, but condoned by time, being a year old—very much as Sir Walter Raleigh, after being released from the Tower to conduct a distant expedition as admiral of the fleet, was at his return beheaded on a judgment of fifteen years standing. The Secretary in conversation and in correspondence with me undertook to explain the removal, insisting for a long time that he was ‘the friend of Mr. Motley;’ but he always made the matter worse, while the heats of Santo Domingo entered into the discussion.

At last, in January, 1871, a formal paper justifying the removal and signed by the Secretary was laid before the Senate. Glancing at this document I found, to my surprise, that its most salient characteristic was constant vindictiveness toward Mr. Motley, with effort to wound his feelings, and this was signed by one who had sat with him at my house in friendly communion and common aspiration on the evening of the inauguration of Gen. Grant, and had so often insisted that he was ‘the friend of Mr. Motley;’ while, as if it was not enough to insult one Massachusetts citizen in the public service, the same document, [569] after a succession of flings and sneers, makes a kindred assault on me; and this is signed by one who so constantly called me ‘friend,’ and asked me for help. The Senator from Missouri (Mr. Schurz) has already directed attention to this assault, and has expressed his judgment upon it, confessing that he ‘should not have failed to feel the in suit,’ and then exclaiming with just indignation, ‘when such things are launched against any member of this body, it becomes the American Senate to stand by him and not to attempt to disgrace and degrade him because he shows the sensitiveness of a gentleman.’ (Congressional Globe Debate, of March 10, 1871.) It is easy to see how this Senator regarded the conduct of the Secretary. Nor is its true character open to doubt, especially when we consider the context, and how this full-blown personality naturally flowered out of the whole document.

Mr. Motley, in his valedictory to the State Department, had alluded to the rumor that he was removed on account of my opposition to the Santo Domingo Treaty. The document signed by the Secretary, while mingling most offensive terms with regard to his ‘friend’ in London, thus turns upon his ‘friend’ in Washington:

It remains only to notice Mr. Motley's adoption of a rumor, which had its origin in this city in a source bitterly, personally, and vindictively hostile to the President.

Mr. Motley says it has been rumored that he was ‘removed from the post of Minister to England’ on account of the opposition made by an ‘eminent Senator who honors me (him) with his friendship’ to the Santo Domingo Treaty.

Men are apt to attribute the causes of their own failures or their own misfortunes to others than themselves, and to claim association or seek a partnership with real or imaginary greatness with which to divide their sorrows or their mistakes. There can be no question as to the identity of the eminent Senator at whose door Mr. Motley is willing to deposit the cause of his removal. But he is entirely mistaken in seeking a vicarious cause of his loss in confidence and favor, and it is unworthy of Mr. Motley's real merit and ability, and injustice to the venerable Senator alluded to (to whose influence and urgency he was originally indebted for his nomination), to attribute to him any share in the cause of his removal.

Mr. Motley must know, or if he does not know it he stands alone in his ignorance of the fact, that many Senators opposed the Santo Domingo Treaty openly, generously, and with as much efficiency as did the distinguished Senator to whom he refers, and have nevertheless continued to enjoy the undiminished confidence and the friendship of the President, than whom no man living is more tolerant of honest and manly differences of opinion, is more single or sincere in his desire for the [570] public welfare, is more disinterested or regardless of what concerns himself, is more frank and confiding in his own dealings, is more sensitive to a betrayal of confidence, or would look with more scorn and contempt upon one who uses the words and assurances of friendship to cover a secret and determined purpose of hostility.

Senate Executive Document No. 11, pp. 36, 37, XLIst Congress. Third Session.

The eulogy of the President here is at least singular, when it is considered that every dispatch of the Secretary of State is by order of the President; but it is evident that the writer of this dispatch had made up his mind to set all rule at defiance. If beyond paying court to the President, even at the expense of making him praise himself, the concluding sentence of this elaborate passage, so full of gall from beginning to end, had any object, if it were anything but a mountain of words, it was an open attempt to make an official document the vehicle of personal insult to me, and this personal insult was signed ‘Hamilton Fish.’ As I became aware of it, and found also that it was regarded by others in tile same light, I was distressed and perplexed. I could not comprehend it. I knew not why the Secretary should step so far out of his way, in a manner absolutely without precedent, to treat me with ostentatious indignity, especially when I thought that for years I had been his friend, that I had never spoken of him except with kindness, and that constantly since assuming his present duties he had turned to me for help. This was more incomprehensible when I considered how utterly groundless were all his imputations. I have lived in vain if such an attempt on me can fail to rebound on its author.

Not lightly would I judge an ancient friend. For a time I said nothing to anybody of the outrage, hoping that perhaps the Secretary would open his eyes to the true character of the document he had signed, and volunteer some friendly explanation. Meanwhile a proposition to resume negotiations was received from England, and the Secretary, it seems, desired to confer with me on the subject; but there was evident consciousness on his part that he had done wrong, for, instead of coming to me at once, he sent for Mr. Patterson of the Senate, and telling him that he wished to confer with me, added that he did not know precisely what were his relations with me, and how I should receive him. Within a brief fortnight I had been in conference with him at the State Department and had dined at his house, beside about the same time making a call there. Yet he was in doubt about his relations with me. Plainly because since the conference, the dinner, and the [571] call, the document signed by him had been communicated to the Senate, and the conscience-struck Secretary did not know how I should take it. Mr. Patterson asked me what he should report. I replied, that should the Secretary come to my house he would be received as an old friend, and that at any time I should be at his service for consultation on public business, but that I could not conceal my deep sense of personal wrong received from him absolutely without reason or excuse. That this message was communicated by Mr. Patterson I cannot doubt, for the Secretary came to my house and there was a free conference. How frankly I spoke on public questions without one word on other things, the Secretary knows. He will remember if any inquiry, remark, or allusion escaped from me except in reference to public business. The interview was of business and nothing else.

On careful reflection, it seemed to me plain, that, while meeting the Secretary officially, it would not be consistent with self-respect for me to continue personal relations with one who had put his name to a document, which, after protracted fury toward another, contained a studied insult to me, where the fury is intensified rather than tempered by too obvious premeditation. Public business must not suffer; but, in such a case, personal relations naturally cease; and this rule I have followed since. Is there any Senator who would have done less? Are there not many who would have done more? I am at a loss to understand how the Secretary could expect anything beyond those official relations which I declared my readiness at all times to maintain, and which, even after his assault on me, he was willing to seek at my own house. To expect more shows on his part grievous insensibility to the thing he had done. Whatever one signs he makes his own, and the Secretary, when he signed this document, adopted a libel upon his friend, and when he communicated it to the Senate he published the libel. Nothing like it can be shown in the history of our Government. It stands alone. The Secretary is alone. Like Jean Paul in German literature, his just title will be ‘the only one.’ For years I have known Secretaries of State, and often differed from them, but never before did I receive from one anything but kindness. Never before did a Secretary of State sign a document libelling an associate in the public service, and publish it to the world. Never before did a Secretary of State so entirely set at defiance every sentiment of friendship. It is impossible to explain this strange aberration except from the disturbing influences of Santo Domingo. But whatever its origin, its true character is beyond question. [572]

As nothing like this State paper can be shown in the history of our Government, so also nothing like it can be shown in the history of other governments. Not an instance can be named in any country where a personage in corresponding official position has done such a thing. The American Secretary is alone, not only in his own country, but in all countries; ‘none but himself can be his parallel.’ Seneca, in the Hercules Furens, has pictured him:

Quaeris Alcidae parem?
     Nemo est nisi ipse.

He is originator and first inventor, with all prerogatives and responsibilities thereto belonging.

I have mentioned only one sally in this painful document; but the whole, besides its prevailing offensiveness, shows inconsistency with actual facts of my own knowledge, which is in entire harmony with the recklessness toward me, and attests the same spirit throughout. Thus we have the positive allegation that the death of Lord Clarendon, June 27, 1870, ‘determined the time for inviting Mr. Motley to make place for a successor,’ when, in point of fact, some time before his lordship's illness, even the Secretary had invited me to go to London as Mr. Motley's successor—thus showing that the explanation of Lord Clarendon's death was an after-thought when it became important to divert attention from the obvious dependence of the removal upon the defeat of the Santo Domingo treaty.

A kindred inconsistency arrested the attention of The London Times in its article of January 24, 1871, on the document signed by the Secretary. Here, according to this journal, the document supplied the means of correction, since it set forth that on the 25th June, two days before Lord Clarendon's death, Mr. Motley's coming removal was announced in a London journal. After stating the alleged dependence of the removal upon the death of Lord Clarendon, the journal, holding the scales, remarks, ‘And yet there is at least one circumstance appearing, strange to say, in Mr. Fish's own dispatch, which is not quite consistent with the explanation he sets up of Mr. Motley's recall.’ Then, after quoting from the document, and mentioning that its own correspondent at Philadelphia did, on the 25th June, ‘send us a message that Mr. Motley was about to be withdrawn,’ the journal mildly concludes that ‘as this was two days before Lord Clarendon's death, which was unforeseen here, and [573] could not have been expected in the States, it is difficult to connect the resolution to supersede the late American Minister with the change at our Foreign Office.’ The difficulty of The Times is increased by the earlier incident with regard to myself.

Not content with making the removal depend upon the death of Lord Clarendon when it was heralded abroad, not only before the death of this minister had occurred, but while it was yet unforeseen, the document seeks to antedate the defeat of the Santo Domingo treaty, so as to interpose ‘weeks and months’ between the latter event and the removal. The language is explicit. ‘The treaty,’ says the document, ‘was admitted to be practically dead, and was only wanting the formal action of the Senate for weeks and months before the decease of the illustrious statesman of Great Britain.’ Weeks and months. And yet during the last month, when the treaty ‘was admitted to be practically dead,’ the Secretary who signed the document passed three hours at my house, pleading with me to withdraw my opposition, and finally wound up by the tender to me of the English mission, with no other apparent object than simply to get me out of the way.

Then again we have the positive allegation that the President embraced an opportunity ‘to prevent any further misapprehension of his views through Mr. Motley by taking from him the right to discuss further the Alabama claims,’ whereas the Secretary, in a letter to me at Boston, dated at Washington, Oct. 9th, 1869, informs me that the discussion of the question was withdrawn from London, ‘because [the italics are the Secretary's] we think that when renewed it can be carried on here, with a better prospect of settlement, than where the late attempt at a convention which resulted so disastrously and was conducted so strangely was had;’ and what the Secretary thus wrote he repeated in conversation when we met, carefully making the transfer to Washington depend upon our advantage here, from the presence of the Senate—thus showing that the pretext put forth to wound Mr. Motley was an afterthought.

Still further, the document signed by the Secretary alleges, by way of excuse for removing Mr. Motley, ‘the important public consideration of having a representative in sympathy with the President's views,’ whereas, when the Secretary tendered the mission to me, no allusion was made to ‘sympathy with the President's views,’ while Mr. Motley, it appears, was charged with agreeing too much with me—all of which [574] shows how little this matter had to do with the removal, and how much the Santo Domingo business at the time was above any question of conformity on other things.

In the amiable passage already quoted there is a parenthesis which breathes the prevailing spirit. By way of aspersion on Mr. Motley and myself, the country is informed that he was indebted for his nomination to ‘influence and urgency’ on my part. Of the influence I know nothing; but I deny positively any ‘urgency.’ I spoke with the President on this subject once casually, on the stairs of the Executive mansion, and then again in a formal interview. And here, since the effort of the Secretary, I shall frankly state what I said and how it was introduced. I began by remarking that, with the permission of the President, I should venture to suggest the expediency of continuing Mr. Marsh in Italy, Mr. Morris at Constantinople, and Mr. Bancroft at Berlin, as all these exerted a peculiar influence and did honor to our country. To this list I proposed to add Dr. Howe of Greece, believing that he, too, would do honor to our country, and also Mr. Motley in London, who, I suggested, would have an influence there beyond his official position. The President said that nobody should be sent to London who was not ‘right’ on the claims question, and he kindly explained to me what he meant by ‘right.’ From this time I had no conversation with him about Mr. Motley, until after the latter had left for his post, when the President volunteered to express his great satisfaction in the appointment. Such was the extent of my ‘urgency;’ nor was I much in advance of the Secretary at that time, for he showed me what was called the ‘brief’ at the State Department for the English mission, with Mr. Motley's name at the head of the list.

Other allusions to myself would be cheerfully forgotten if they were not made the pretext to assail Mr. Motley, who is held to severe account for supposed dependence on me. If this were crime, not the Minister but the Secretary should suffer, for it is the Secretary and not the Minister who appealed to me constantly for help, often desiring me to think for him, and more than once to hold the pen for him. But forgetting his own relations with me, the Secretary turns upon Mr. Motley, who never asked me to think for him or to hold the pen for him. Other things the Secretary also forgot. He forgot that the blow he dealt, whether at Mr. Motley or myself, rudely tore the veil from the past, so far as its testimony might be needed in elucidation of the truth; [575] that the document he signed was a challenge and provocation to meet him on the facts, without reserve or concealment; that the wantonness of assault on Mr. Motley was so closely associated with that on me, that any explanation that I might make must be a defence of him; that even if duty to the Senate and myself did not require this explanation, there are other duties not to be disregarded, among which is duty to the absent, who cannot be permitted to suffer unjustly—duty to a much-injured citizen of Massachusetts, who may properly look to a Senator of his State for protection against official wrong—duty also to a public servant insulted beyond precedent, who besides writing and speaking most effectively for the Republican party and for this Administration, has added to the renown of our country by unsurpassed success in literature, commending him to the gratitude and good will of all. These things the Secretary strangely forgot when he dealt a blow which tore the vail.

The crime of the Minister was dependence on me. So says the State paper. A simple narrative will show who is the criminal. My early relations with the Secretary have already appeared, and how he began by asking me for help, practising constantly on this appeal. A few details will be enough. At once on his arrival to assume his new duties he asked my counsel about appointing Mr. Bancroft Davis Assistant Secretary of State, and I advised the appointment, without sufficient knowledge I am inclined to believe now. Then followed the questions with Spain growing out of Cuba, which were the subject of constant conference, where he sought me repeatedly and kindly listened to my opinions. Then came the instructions for the English mission known as the dispatch of May 16, 1869. At each stage of these instructions I was in the counsels of the Secretary. Following my suggestion he authorized me to invite Mr. Motley in his name to prepare the ‘memoir’ or essay on our claims, which, notwithstanding its entirely confidential character, he drags before the world, for the purpose of assault, in a manner clearly unjustifiable. Then, as the dispatch was preparing, he asked my help especially in that part relating to the concession of belligerent rights. I have here the first draft of this important passage in pencil and in my own handwriting, varying in no essential respect from that adopted. Here will be found the distinction on which I have always insisted, that while other Powers conceded belligerent rights to our rebels, it was in England only that the concession was supplemented by acts causing direct damage to the United [576] States. Not long afterward, in August. 1869, when the British storm had subsided, I advised that the discussion should be renewed by an elaborate communication, setting forth our case in length and breadth, but without any estimate of damages, throwing upon England the opportunity, if not the duty, of making some practical proposition. Adopting this recommendation, the Secretary invited me to write the dispatch. I thought it better that it should be done by another, and I named for this purpose an accomplished gentleman, whom I knew to be familiar with the question, and he wrote the dispatch. This paper, bearing date Sept. 25, 1869, is unquestionably the ablest in the history of the present Administration, unless we except the last dispatch of Mr. Motley.

In a letter dated at Washington, Oct. 15, 1869, and addressed to me at Boston, the Secretary describes this paper in the following terms: ‘The dispatch to Motley (which I learn by a telegram from him has been received) is a calm, full review of our entire case, making no demand, no valuation of damages, but I believe covering all the ground and all the points that have been made on our side. I hope that it will meet your views. I think it will. It leaves the question with Great Britain to determine when any negotiations are to be renewed.’ The Secretary was right in his description. It was ‘a full review of our whole case;’ ‘covering all the ground and all the points;’ and it did meet my views, as the Secretary thought it would, specially where it arraigned so strongly that fatal concession of belligerent rights on the ocean, which in any faithful presentment of the national cause, will always be the first stage of evidence, since without this precipitate and voluntary act, the common law of England was a positive protection against the equipment of a corsair ship, or even the supply of a blockade runner for unacknowledged rebels. The conformity of this dispatch with my views was recognized by others besides the Secretary. It is well known that Lord Clarendon did not hesitate in familiar conversation to speak of it as ‘Mr. Sumner's speech over again;’ while another English personage said that ‘it out-Sumnered Sumner.’ And yet with his name signed to this dispatch, written at my suggestion, and in entire conformity with my views, as admitted by him and recognized by the English Government, the Secretary taunts Mr. Motley for supposed harmony with me on this very question. This taunt is still more unnatural when it is known that this dispatch is in similar conformity with the ‘memoir’ of Mr. Motley, and was evidently written with knowledge [577] of that admirable document, where the case of our country is stated with perfect mastery. But the story does not end here.

On the communication of this dispatch to the British Government, Mr. Thornton was instructed to ascertain what would be accepted by our Government, when the Secretary, under date of Washington, Nov. 6, 1869, reported to me this application, and then, after expressing unwillingness to act on it until he ‘could have an opportunity of consulting’ me, he wrote, ‘When will you be here? Will you either note what you think will be sufficient to meet the views of the Senate and of the country, or will you formulate such proposition?’ After this responsible commission, the letter winds up with the earnest request: ‘Let me hear from you as soon as you can (the italics are the Secretary's), and I should like to confer with you at the earliest convenient time.’ On my arrival at Washington the Secretary came to my house at once, and we conferred freely. Santo Domingo had not yet sent its shadow into his soul.

It is easily seen that here was constant and reiterated appeal to me, especially on our negotiations with England, and yet in the face of this testimony, where he is the unimpeachable witness, the Secretary is pleased to make Mr. Motley's supposed relations with me the occasion of insult to him, while, as if this were not enough, he crowns his work with personal assault on me—all of which, whether as regards Mr. Motley or me, is beyond comprehension.

How little Mr. Motley merited anything but respect and courtesy from the Secretary, is attested by all who know his eminent position in London, and the service he rendered to his country. Already the London press, usually slow to praise Americans when strenuous for their country, has furnished its voluntary testimony. The Daily News of August 16, 1870, spoke of the insulted Minister in these terms:

We are violating no confidence in saying that all the hopes of Mr. Motley's official residence in England have been amply fulfilled, and that the announcement of his unexpected and unexplained recall was received with extreme astonishment and unfeigned regret. The vacancy he leaves cannot possibly be filled by a Minister more sensitive to the honor of his Government, more attentive to the interests of his country, and more capable of uniting the most rigorous performance of his public duties with the high-bred courtesy and conciliatory tact and temper that [578] make those duties easy and successful. Mr. Motley's successor will find his mission wonderfully facilitated by the firmness and discretion that have presided over the conduct of American affairs in this country during too brief a term, too suddenly and unaccountably concluded.

The London press had not the key to this extraordinary transaction. It knew not the potency of the Santo Domingo spell; nor its strange influence over the Secretary, even breeding insensibility to instinctive amenities, and awakening peculiar unfriendliness to Mr. Motley, so amply certified afterward in an official document under his own hand—all of which burst forth with more than the tropical luxuriance of the much-coveted island.

I cannot disguise the sorrow with which I offer this explanation. In self-defence, and for the sake of truth, do I now speak. I have cultivated forbearance, and hoped from the bottom of my heart that I might do so to the end. But beyond the call of the public press has been the defiant challenge of Senators, and also the consideration sometimes presented by friends, that my silence might be misinterpreted. Tardily and most reluctantly I make this record, believing it more a duty to the Senate than to myself, but a plain duty to be performed in all simplicity without reserve. Having nothing to conceal, and willing always to be judged by the truth, I court the fullest inquiry, and shrink from no conclusion founded on an accurate knowledge of the case.

If this narration enables any one to see in clearer light the injustice done to Mr. Motley, then have I performed a further duty too long postponed; nor will it be doubted by any honest nature, that since the assault of the Secretary, he was entitled to that vindication which is found in a statement of facts within my own knowledge. Anything short of this would be a license to the Secretary in his new style of State paper, which, for the sake of the public service and of good-will among men, must be required to stand alone, in the isolation which becomes its abnormal character. Plainly without precedent in the past, it must be without chance of repetition in the future.

Here I stop. My present duty is performed when I set forth the simple facts, exhibiting those personal relations which have been drawn in question, without touching the questions of principle behind.

Thus—he being dead yet Speaketh. [579]

From The Boston Globe we extract:—

The following letter from Vice-President Wilson, written while he was Senator, is interesting as corroborating the statements in Sumner's suppressed speech. This letter was written only eight days after the death of Lord Clarendon, the event which, according to Secretary Fish, fixed the time for Motley's removal. The letter was written ‘after much reflection.’ The report of the contemplated removal must have gained circulation and credit more than a week before the date of the letter to have enabled Wilson to give much attention to it.

United States Senate Chamber, Washington, July 5, 1870.
President grant—Dear Sir: After much reflection I have decided that duty demands that I should write to you my views touching the proposed removal of Mr. Motley. I fear you will make a sad mistake if you remove him, and I beg of you to consider the case carefully before acting. His removal is believed to be aimed at Mr. Sumner. Right or wrong, this will be the construction put upon it. Can you, my dear Sir, afford to have such an imputation rest upon your administration? Mr. Motley is one of the best known and most renowned of our countrymen. In letters he is recognized as one of the foremost living authors of our country or of the world. Office can add little to his reputation. Removal from office, while it will wound his feelings, will not affect his standing among the most cultivated of the age. I assure you, my dear Sir, that the men of Massachusetts, who gave you more than 75,000 majority, are proud to number Mr. Motley among their most loved and honored sons. They remember that during the war his pen, voice, and social influence and position were on the side of his struggling country. They were grateful to you for his appointment as Minister to England. I need not say that they are surprised at the rumor that he is to be removed. They are pained to have it said that his removal is on account of Mr. Sumner's opposition to the Santo Domingo treaty. His removal will be regarded by the Republicans of Massachusetts as a blow not only at him, but at Mr. Sumner.

There has been much feeling about the treaty. Imprudent words have been uttered, as they always are when men's feelings are excited. Perhaps Mr. Sumner may have said things that may have been distasteful to you, but the people of Massachusetts are with him as ten to one. Holding on general principles that the prominent interests of the country would be advanced by a foothold in the Gulf, and wishing to sustain your Administration whenever I could do so, I voted for the treaty, though I knew that nine-tenths of the people of my State were against it. I had nothing to gain and something to lose by such a vote. I am ready to take the consequences of that vote, but I am not insensible to the fact that the dismissal of Mr. Motley, under present circumstances, will not only be a loss to your Administration, but a blow to me. Personally, I ask nothing, but I do entreat you, before acting, to look well to the matter. Your Administration is menaced by great opposition, and it needs peace and unity among the people and in Congress. The head of a great party, the President of the United States has much to forget and forgive, but he can afford to be magnanimous and forgiving. I want to see the President and Congress in harmony, and the Republican party united and victorious. To accomplish this, we must all be just, charitable, and forgiving.

Very truly,

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