The Cohesive Power of Public Plunder
 
From: bernhard1848@att.net
 
The predictable result of a sectional war to establish a Northern oligarchy in control of government was extravagance, waste and corruption; and continued protective tariffs to benefit Northern industries. But even loyal Republicans who had helped install party hegemony were appalled at Grant’s inability to select honest advisors and avoid manipulation by corrupt politicians. In an ironic twist, liberal Republicans appalled by Radical Republican corruption had to ask for help from traditional Southern conservatives.
 
Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
www.cfhi.net
 
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The Cohesive Power of Public Plunder:
 
The radical Republicans – who had failed that year

[1868] in the impeachment charges against President [Andrew] Johnson – planned to maintain themselves in power, [Melville Weston] Fuller charged, by Negro suffrage and white disenfranchisement. Such, he argued, was the purpose – candidly confessed by its sponsor – of the proposed Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
 [Fuller] wrote four campaign songs which were published anonymously in the Chicago Times. Grant, the silent “man on horseback,” did not please him:
 
“Hurrah for that glorious hero, Grant!
The bondholder’s choice is he;
He’d speak if he could, but he luckily can’t,
And the masses won’t know what a regular plant,
A “glorious hero can be.”
 
In the year that the [Illinois] constitution was adopted (1870), Fuller was chairman of the platform committee of the Democratic State convention.  The convention declared for free trade on principle, conceded the legality of a tariff for revenue only, but denounced the protective tariff as “enriching a few at the expense of the many.”  It condemned the Grant administration as “extravagant, wasteful and corrupt” and declared that it was destitute of principle and was held together only by “the cohesive power of public plunder.”
 
The next year Fuller was pleased by the growing split in the Republican party between the Grant forces, or radical Republicans, and the liberals led by Carl Schurz. The situation demanded the union of the Democrats and liberal Republicans in a bipartisan campaign against Grant. In Illinois a leading anti-Grant Republican was Orville H. Browning of Quincy, an able lawyer who had drafted the original Republican platform in Illinois in 1856 and had been a close friend of Lincoln and Secretary of the Interior in President Johnson’s cabinet.
 
In June, 1871, Browning recorded in his diary a discussion with another intimate friend of Lincoln, Justice David Davis of the Supreme Court of the United States. They agreed, Browning said, that Grant was “weak, vain, ignorant, mercenary, selfish and malignant”; that he was surrounded by corrupt and unprincipled men and that his reelection would be a great calamity to the country.”
 
(Melville Weston Fuller, Chief Justice of the United States, 1888-1910, Willard L. King, MacMillan Company, 1950, pp. 78-79)