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OCT 29 1914 


Copyright, I9o8» by 
WiLUAM M. Stewart 


This book is dedicated to my mother, Mrs. Miranda 
Stewart, whose early training was the only preparation 
I had for the battle of life. Her discipline was strict, 
but not unkind. She was patient and gave good reasons 
for what she required of her children; was firm and 
commanded their respect and obedience. Her conduct 
through life was guided by her best judgment. If I had 
always kept in view the rules of conduct which she 
prescribed I would have made few mistakes. Her 
teachings, so far as I have been guided by them, have 
been of great service to me during the whole course of 
my life. 

Whatever of good I may have accomplished was 
inspired by my dear mother at an early period of my 

y^ William M. Stewart. 



Birth — My mother— Early memories— Hunting with Rover— A 
fortune in coon-skins 21 


I am cheated by a sanctimonious deacon — ^Joshua Giddings in- 
spires me with the ambition to be an orator — I leave home 
and begin the battle of life— School — I do a man's work, and 
save money 26 


Herding cattle— First visit to a great city— I win fame as a 
harvester and lay my rivals out — Student and school teacher— 
An unruly pupil floored— I enter Yale— College pranks 33 


Gold fever— I determine to go to California— Storm off Hatteras 
—Arrival in Panama— A priest and a cock fight— Gambling 
in San Francisco — ^In desperate straits — 111 with fever, I 
struggle to the gold diggings — Money in sick miners — My first 
claim 48 


The lead struck — I defend my rights— The first woman in camp 
— "Oh, Joe!" — Three thousand dollars for the timid female 
Brisk matrimonial market— Ten divorces in one afternoon- 
Starting a frontier aristocracy 60 


Scourge in the Diggings — Prospecting in the Sierra Nevadas — 
Grizzly Ditch — ^Lost in a blizzard — Ham-bone soup for starv- 
ing men — An arrow through my hat — Indians — ^We wipe out 
Chief "Big Jim's" band— A ghastly discovery— Surveying 
without instruments 68 


I begin the practice of law— Appointed District Attorney— A 
fight in the court-room— I polish my legal knowledge in jail- 
— ^The heathen Chinee — ^I meet an obstacle in a murder case.. 76 


Fight over a mining claim — An outcast from camp— I prevent 
a mob from lynching an innocent man — Nominated for 
District Attorney — Elected — ^Hot politics and a bloody battle 
— ^Heroes with die girls 82 

10 ContenU 


Dueling in 1852 — Southerners and "mackerel catchers" — The 
sleepy miner and the fire-eater who would not fight — I start 
a newspaper in opposition to Aaron A. Sargent 89 


Zdce Dougherty's court — Profanity from the bench and frontier 
justice — I get the drop on a desperado witness — ^Johnny 
Little's court in Cy Brown's saloon, where I win a lawsuit 
with a demijohn of whiskey 95 


Reign of terror in San Francisco — ^Judge Botts changes his 
politics — ^The most eloquent man in America, and how a 
citizen of California was elected to the United States Senate 
from Oregon — My marriage — I clear a murderer and get the 
jury in trouble 103 


I become interested in politics — Governor Bigler insulted — Ap- 
pointed Attorney-General — Terry and Broderick duel — A 
tragedy in a hair-trigger — Crabb's expedition to Mexico 116 


Discovery of the Comstock— Rush to the new diggings— Out- 
rages by the Indians — Piute war — An ambush in a canyon — 
A volunteer army and a treaty of peace — California admitted 
to the Union — Origin of mining laws 123 


Comstock lode fortified — Trouble brewing — I get the drop on a 
"bad man** — A desperado who killed sixteen men in one 
winter — ^A brave Dutchman — The terror of the camp — Rival 
judges and mixed justice 129 


Making Nevada a territory — I help to locate the Capital — ^The 
great flood of 1861 — I lose my fortune in a night — Frightful 
journey on foot to San Francisco in blizzard — Borrow $30,000 
and get a new start — Half a million in fees in one case 140 


Chollar and Potosi controversy— Exposure of bribed jurors — I 
turn the tables on my enemies — ^Three judges resign in one 
day — $14,000 in greenbacks for information — ^The jockey 
skips 152 


Condemned to death by a mob of miners at Virginia City— I 
master the situation and prove the strength of my friends — 
Nevada becomes a State— Elected to the United States 
Senate December 15, 1864— I draw the long term 164 

ContenU U 


Lincoln as I knew him— Stanton and the ridi Israelite— A White 
House joke on a couple of Senatorial wits — Lincoln's method 
of transacting business — No cabinet officers, only messenger 
boys— The President's joke on Alexander H. Stephens- 
Peace Conference at Fortress Monroe— The new Cabinet — 
Horace Greeley grows wise i68 


Zach Chandler's conspiracy to invade Canada— An army of 
Grant's and Lee's veterans to whip the British — Farragut 
and the Charleston mines — Sheridan characterizes the French 
army as a mob— With Lincoln at City Point — ^A dash on the 
Rebel lines I77 


Assassination of Lincoln — His last written words a message to 
me — Reign of terror — ^Washington on the verge of a bloody 
battle between Federal and Confederate soldiers — How a 
drunken man was sworn in as President — ^Johnson's quarrel 
with Q>ngress i86 


The War Senate— Pen pictures of the great leaders of the 
nation — Thad. Stevens and his domestic scandal — Conkling 
and Blaine, and Congressional jealousies — ^The corpse was 
dry — Senator McDougall's tribute to whiskey 201 


Slavery— Plans of reconstruction — Congress in confusion— The 
breach with Johnson widens — ^A consultation with Alex- 
ander H. Stephens — Senate debates — Dark days after the 
war — Governor Andrew of Massachussetts endorses my 
amendment 213 


Mark Twain becomes my secretary— Back from the Holy Land, 
and he looks it— The landlady terrorized— I interfere with 
a humorist's pleasures, and set a black patch — Revenge! 
Qemens the hero of a Nevada hold-up 219 


Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution— Explanation of my 
vote— Military bill passed the House— Opposition to martial 
law — President Johnson vetoed 225 


General Grant elected President— Re-elected to the Senate in 
1869— Conference with Grant— I write the Fifteenth amend- 
ment — Its passage by Congress — Grant's Inaugural recom- 
mendation on negro suffrage 231 

12 Contents 


I am denounced by Charles Sumner — ^An overestimated states- 
man — My reply to him in the Senate— ^How Lincoln played 
on Sumner's vanity — Sumner's denunciation of Grant at a 
dinner to the British Commission — He is disposed from 
important Senate chairmanship— A State secret 237 


With Grant on the Pacific Coast — White House Conferences 
— I decline a Supreme Court appointment — ^The Apaches 
on the war-path — Confirmation of Tom Murphy — ^A dramatic 
scene in the Senate — Conkling threatens to expose Fenton — 
A mock fight in the Senate to save a friend 250 


Retire from the Senate and return to Nevada— Mining in the 
Panamint — ^I buy a mine from bandits, and secure their 
friendship— Silver cannon-balls foil the outlaws — Back to the 
law — ^The cow-boy reign in Arizona — Cattle thieves and 
litigation 261 


Trip to Sonora, Mexico, in search of mines — I borrow an 
"Injun" dog — An old Spaniard's story — Origin of the Apaches 
and how they got their courage — ^A brave Chinaman 268 


A celebrated breach of promise suit— The killing of Judge 
Terry— Again a candidate for the Senate — Reply to attacks 
by Senator Fair on my character — Reelected to the Senate 
in 1887 — Career in that body — ^A total service of twenty- 
nine years 274 


Return to the Senate — ^The demonetization of silver — Exposure 
of John Sherman — How he deceived GDngress — I offer a bill 
to restore silver ' 284 


Nomination of Benjamin Harrison — How John Sherman was 
beaten lor the Presidency — Harrison's pledge for free coinage 
and how he repudiated it — Debate with Reagan — Lodge's 
"Force" bill 292 


Force bill resumed — Side-tracked for silver with aid of new 
Senators from Idaho — ^Trip to New York to pair Senator 
Stanford against Force bill — I outwit Senator Aldrich — 
Confirmation of L. Q. C. Lamar 299 

Contents 13 


Harrison's infidelity to pledge — His capacity to rcpd both 
friends and foes—Qeveland's panic— The fall of Congress 
into the arms of the gold trust— My protest against the 
Gladstone-Qeveland bondholding combination 310 


The money question — ^Adherence to principle regardless of party 
— Supply of money a necessity, enormous output of j^old 
furnished that supply — Conversion of my critics to the views 
I advocated in 1900— No more office for me 316 


Cleveland's bond speculations and Venezuela deal — His repudia- 
tion by the Democratic Convention of 1896— The nomination 
of Bryan on a free-coinage platform — His brilliant campaign 
and defeat by lavish use of money by the gold trust — 
Bryan's mistake in advocating silver money after the enor- 
mous output of gold made money plenty 320 


The Pacific Railroad — JeflFerson Davis's survey — Collis P. Hunt- 
ington— Crossing the Rockies — Rivalry of the companies — 
Credit Mobilier scandal— Investigation by Congress — Begin- 
ning of railroad descrimination against the people 332 


Conflict between the railroads and the Government — How the 
trusts rob the people — ^An argument for government owner- 
ship a gloomy view of the economic situation — Praise for 
Theodore Roosevelt 342 


Irrigation investigations in the arid re^ons — Marvels of the 
Mormons — Major Powell grows ambitious and is removed 
from office — A powerful friend in the White House — What 
Roosevelt has done for the development of the country 347 


Conclusion — The Pious Fund Case — I argue before the Hague 
Court of Arbitration — A tribute to the Dutch — I retire from 
the Senate— Back to the Nevada gold fields 356 


When one has reached the age of eighty-three years, 
and is rounding out with honor and dignity a career 
extending over three generations, marked not only by 
the picturesque adventures of youth, but by the signal 
services of a statesman to his country in maturity, it 
becomes at once his privilege and his duty to tell the 
story of his life. It is a rare combination — a story 
worth telling and the courage to tell it without preju- 
dice. With the exception of General Grant, I do not 
believe a man has appeared in public life during the 
past half century, so well equipped to leave to posterity 
a record of great value as is William M. Stewart, of 
whose long span the twenty-nine years spent in the 
Senate of the United States, while perhaps the most 
important, were by no means the most interesting. 

Here is a man, who, on the score of seniority, has 
the right to be heard. Were he an unschooled farmer 
he would have by virtue of his gray hair, a story of 
pregnant interest, rich with the experience and philoso- 
phy of life. But since he is one of the most brilliant 
and accomplished men of his time, and one whose 
influence has helped to shape the destinies of the Repub- 
lic, his prerogative must be unquestioned. Endowed 
with a perfect physique, enduring health, and tre- 
mendous bodily strength, he has been able to defy the 
enemy which has overcome, one by one, all the associates 
of his generation, while preserving in full the power and 
force of his great intellectuality. 

^7'illiam M. Stewart took his seat in the United States 
Senate February i, 1865, when Nevada, the State of 
his adoption, and which he made his own so com- 
pletely that for years he held it in the hollow of his 

16 Introduction 

hand, was admitted into the Union. He was then 
about forty years of agy At that time he must have 
been a Hercules. At eighty-three he is as straight as 
a juniper, as hard as a blacksmith, as keen of eye as an 
eagle, and he has not lost one inch in height since that 
day, forty-three years ago, he stood before Hannibal 
Hamlin to take the oath of office, a commanding pic- 
ture of magnificent manhood. 

^5om in a log cabin in a wilderness, of old Colonial 
stock\it the age of ten he began the battle of life, 
and ^d a man's work, and, inured by privations and 
hardships, he laid the foundation of that superb ani- 
malism which, in later years, when a miner with pick 
and shovel in the gold diggings of California, was to 
make him a master of men in an environment in which 
the weakling went down, the average had no chance, 
and only the fittest could survive. 

Personal bravery played a leading part in his success. 
The same audacity and courage with which he met the 
tribulations of the poor farm boy, conquered unruly 
bullies as a country schoolmaster, plodded his weary 
way toward education, and, penniless, and broken with 
fever, began the search for gold in an alien land, stood 
by him throughout life. On one occasion his entire 
fortune of half a million dollars was swept away in a 
flood. There could be nothing more typically American 
than the fortitude with which he faced this catastrophe. 
Before the debris of his mining plant had vanished in 
the boiling river, he had started, on foot, on a journey 
of three hundred miles across the Sierra Nevada range, 
while there raged one of the most appalling storms 
in the history of California. His course was beset by 
all the dangers of landslides and swollen streams. He 
reached San Francisco, where, his only security his 
good name and a flooded mine, he borrowed the money 
to start life anew. Then he retraced that perilous trail, 
returned to his camp, met all his obligations, and paid 

Introductioii 17 

his men, before his enemies, who would have been glad 
to ruin him, had themselves recovered from the effects 
of the great disaster. 

Senator Stewart has always been a man of restless 
energy. He inherited a splendid mind, and, even as a 
boy, he had a thirst for knowledge, a thirst which has 
never been slaked. At eighty-three he is the same serious 
student as at thirteen, when he left his father's roof to 
seek emplojmient as a woodchopper, that he might 
earn the money to go to school. At twenty-two he was 
in Yale, and when, for the time being, he abandoned 
books to go to California in '49, encountering hardships 
no college boy of to-day would undergo, he took his 
place as leader among his associates, not only because 
of the sinew of his mighty right arm, but because of 
his native shrewdness, intelligence, and education. 

In the mad scramble for wealth in the treasure vaults 
of El Dorado, young Stewart was in the fore, and 
obtained his share. To-day he might be a money-hoard- 
ing, cold-blooded pirate of high finance, for in him the 
money-making instinct is highly developed. But the 
man is at heart a romantic adventurer ^e plays the 
game of speculation for the game itself, and not for 
the spoils; his pleasure is not gold, but the getting of 
it. Probably no man in the United States h^ won and 
lost more fortunes than William M. Stewart^ Had he 
been less of a Robinson Crusoe, to-day he might be a 
Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, with 
a longer term of service to his credit than any man has 
had. In 1871 President Grant tendered him an appoint- 
ment to that Bench, which he declined. He preferred 
the greater action and hazard which went with the toga 
of a Senator and the overalls of a miner. But had he 
accepted, his reputation as a lawyer could not have been 
increased, although he would have been an honor to 
that great tribunal. When he came to Washington he 
had to his fame not only success in the most notable 

18 Introduction 

litigations in the West, but the distinction of being the 
author of the mining laws of the land, laws which he 
framed so ably that they stand, even now, a monument 
to legal genius of which any man well might boast. 

The years spent in the Golden West were golden 
years, indeed. Many years after his arrival in the 
promised land — ^years during which he carried his life 
in his hands with reckless abandon ; years during which 
he fought Indians, battled with bandits, organized and 
enforced rud^ frontier justice, playing a man's part in 
a man's life — many years after he had planted his pick 
in Grizzly Ditch, Mark Twain and Bret Harte, called 
"pioneers," appeared upon the scene, and wrote the 
stories this blue-eyed, iron-fisted, fearless giant helped 

I seem to see him now, with a derringer in each hand, 
cowing the bully of the camp, a man who had sixteen 
notches in the handle of his "gun," and was generally 
reputed to be a stranger to fear. Many other men, 
since then, including one who had been a President 
of the United States, have quailed under the lightning 
flash from Stewart's eye. It is a mild blue eye 
when he is at peace with the world, an eye that makes 
children smile, and lift up their arms to him; but when 
his shaggy brows are in a frown, — well the slayer of 
those sixteen men laughed away the pistols with a jest, 
and said: "I like your kind; have a drink!" 

Nevada joined the Sisterhood long before her right- 
ful turn because Northern leaders saw that her votes 
would be required in the adoption of Constitutional 
amendments to be proposed when the War of Secession 
was at an end. William M. Stewart, politician as well 
as statesman, had been in the thick of Territorial dis- 
putes, and, when another Star was called to the Blue, 
he came to Washington, her first Senator, to pin it there. 

It is possible that he did not find Washington, in 
1865, materially different from California in 1850. As 

Introduction 19 

the bitter struggle for riches in the golden gullies had 
smelted out only men of might, and strength, and deter- 
mination, so had the crisis in the Nation's affairs brought 
to the surface in the Capital the ablest minds of the time. 
Young Stewart, having taken his seat, found himself 
removed from an atmosphere of primitive contention, 
to a condition akin to it, a condition growing out of the 
war. In a short time, so well did he conduct himself, 
and with so fine a skill and comprehension did he enter 
into the spirit of his surroundings, he found himself 
in a conspicuous position, similar to that he had always 
occupied, whether on the farm, in the schoolroom, in the 
mining camp, or in the court-house. 

Some of the greatest men the Republic has produced 
were his playfellows in the Senate, playfellows in a 
great game with Destiny, and when he coped with them, 
he found himself the peer of all, the superior of many. 
Vice-President Hamlin, Buckalew, Cowan, Foot, Rev- 
crdy Johnson, John P. Hale, John Sherman, Thomas 
A. Hendricks, Benjamin F. Wade, William Pitt Fes- 
scnden, these were the men grouped about him in that 
historic forum — the War Senate. 

Throughout the closing days of the War, and dur- 
ing the frightful period of Reconstruction, Senator 
Stewart was the consistent friend of the South, although 
himself a strong Union man. Perhaps his most signal 
contribution in that period was the Fifteenth Amend- 
ment to the Constitution, of which he is the author. 
Hardly less notable, later on, was his defeat of the 
Force Bill. 

Now that he has come to write of his colleagues, all 
of whom have long since passed away, who will 
begrudge him consent to paint them as they were, not 
as new generations have been taught to regard them? 
If Andrew Johnson was a drunkard, and broke his 
pledged word at a critical time, is it not just the world 
should see him in his moral nakedness? If Charles 

20 Introduction 

Sumner was a vain, petulant, over-grown boy, an incon- 
sequential busy-body clothed in pompous impotency, dis- 
graced by his fellow Republicans for his discourtesy, 
even treachery, to the President of the United States, 
why should not his true character be laid bare, and the 
truth about him told, in the interest of history? 

Senator Stewart has no apologies to make. He has 
told the truth as he has seen it, and he has told it not 
for the love of hitting every head in sight, but because 
it is his privilege to tell the truth, the honored privilege 
of honored age. A blow with a cudgel, here and there, 
where a good lick is richly deserved, but for the greater 
part of the journey — for the greater part of the book, 
from cover to cover, — smiles and good nature. Smiles 
and good nature. — ^The story of a successful life, a 
life of wide and enduring influence. 

George Rothwell Brown. 
Washington, D. C, March 27, 1908. 


Birth — My mother— Early memories— Hunting with Rover— ^A for- 
tune in coon-skins. 

^I was bom August 9, 1825, in a log-house at Galen, 
Wayne County, New York, about four miles to the east 
of the town of Lyons. 

My father's family were of Scotch origin, and were 
among the early settlers of Massachusetts. My grand- 
father was a soldier in the Revolution, and shortly after 
peace was declared he moved to Vermont and settled 
upon a tract of land where he with his family resided 
many years. My father, Frederick Augustus Stewart, 
served in a Vermont regiment during the war of 1 8 1 2\ 
Soon after that war my grandfather was killed by a 
cyclone while attempting to close a bam door. After 
his death the family made an exchange of their land in 
Vermont for a tract in the township of Galen, Wayne 
County, New York, to which they removed. 
^*he land in New York was divided among the family, 
my" father's portion being something over one hundred 
and fifty acres^ Soon after my father settled there he 
mapaed^Mkanda ^orr is. Her father, for whom I was 
named, was WuTiam Morris. xHis wife, my grand- 
motl^r, was Miranda Dodd, a Knickerbocker of New 

Mymother had great strength of character, and her 
life was pure and honest. She loved truth and justice 
and never told a falsehood. She spoke ill of no one; 
her neighbors had perfect confidence in her and fre- 
quently referred to her as an arbitrator in their family 
disputes. She reared a family of seven children, four 
girls and three boys, all of whom are dead except myself. 
Although In humble circumstances and amid pioneer 

22 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

surroundings, she made a home for her family which 
was always well provided for and comfortable. 

I refrained from taking advantage of opportunities 
that existed to inform myself in regard to my ancestors, 
on account of the disgust I felt for persons of no conse- 
quence who were constantly boasting of their pedigrees. 

My parents lived on the Galen farm until I was six 
years old, when it was ascertained that my grandfather's 
land in Vermont, which had been exchanged for the 
New York land, had a fatal defect in the title; and as 
the title to the land in Galen depended upon the title 
to the Vermont land, my father lost his farm. 

The year previous to this loss my grandfather, 
William Morris, moved from his home in Wayne 
County to Mesopotamia Township, Trumbull County, 
Ohio, where my father followed in August, 1832. 
Although I was only seven years old at the time I 
distinctly recollect many things that occurred befor^^e 
moved to Ohiyone of which was during Jackson's 
second campaign in 1832. 

Political excitement was very intense. We had a 
neighbor whose name was Pope, a very earnest Jackson 
man, who used to visit our house and amuse himself 
with my brother John, then three years old, and myself. 
He would make John stand upon a table and declare 
that he was a Jackson man first, last, and all the time. 
I also remember going to Lyons on the Fourth of July 
during Jackson's campaign, seeing the procession, and 
hearing the orators make speeches, although I cannot 
now remember the names of any of the speakers. I 
recently visited Lyons, my birthplace, in New York, and 
also Mesopotamia Township, Ohio. I recognized the 
familiar landmarks in these places, but was able to find 
very few of the people who were there during my 

^[)ur family settled on the banks of Grand River, in 
the "backwoods.'N The fall after we arrived there, ai;i 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 23 

Englishman who moved into the neighborhood gave 
me a puppy which I named Rover, and which turned 
out to be a great treasure. 

The country around Grand River was remarkably 
prolific in wild game, particularly coons. When the 
puppy was a year old — and a good, sturdy, sensible 
puppy he was — he enjoyed the reputation of being the 
best coon dog in the neighborhood. In fact, he was the 
only coon dog which amounted to anything for miles 
around. I was a youngster, and the larger boys of my 
acquaintance looked down upon me, and did not seem 
to desire my company — until Rover evinced great skill 
in hunting coons. I think that about that time I became 
the most popular boy in Trumbull County. 

Every day the coon hunters, who had formerly scorned 
me, fairly showered me with attentions. They begged 
my mother to let me go coon hunting with them, promis- 
ing that they would take good care of me. She finally 
consented, and I would go off with the boys, swelling 
with pride. Of course Rover went along. In fact, 
he would not leave me to go with anyone else. Pretty 
soon I began thinking about this. By and by the secret 
of my popularity dawned upon me. I think it injured 
my pride at first, but as I was really fond of coon 
hunting, and did not want to deprive Rover of any 
pleasure, I thought I would put my pride in my pocket. 
As balm for my injured feelings I made a contract with 
the boys that I would have one-third of the coons 

It was a mean advantage to take of them, and I have 
regretted it since. After all. Rover enjoyed the sport 
for sport's sake, while I reduced the proposition to 
sordid commercialism. 

The first fall we caught six coons, two of that number 
being my share. The skins were worth fifty cents apiece, 
and the oil was worth nearly as much more. I realized 
from my two coons $i.8o, which was the first money I 

24 Reminiscences o^ William M. Stewart 

ever earned, and being only nine years old it made me 
quite a capitalist in those days. 

I expended $1.20 for shoes for myself and eldest 
sister. The shoes were rough and strong, and were 
made by a traveling shoemaker. The remaining sixty 
cents I saved for General Training day, which was a 
great event at that time. The militia trained at Meso- 
potamia Center the following spring, where I enjoyed 
myself almost without limit. 

An elderly woman had a stand where she sold ginger- 
bread and root beer. The loaves were immense, being 
from five to six inches thick, and about a foot across. 
A big section cost ten cents. I bought a chunk of the 
gingerbread and a large pitcher of root beer and invited 
my friends to a sumptuous lunch, which we devoured 
without much ceremony. This took one-third of my 
capital and left me only forty cents, which I gave to my 
mother, telling her I would not need any more money 
until "cooning time" came again in the fall. 

The result of the "cooning" the next fall was very 
satisfactory. We killed fifteen. Although we slept out 
many nights, and wandered up and down through the 
brush and swamps of Grand River for fifteen or twenty 
miles, we did not mind the fatigue because the sport 
was fine. 

Rover was an adept in the art of catching coons. He 
caught eight or ten that fall in cornfields where they 
were doing much damage to the crops, and he ran the 
others up trees which the boys chopped down. Rover 
invariably got his coon when the tree fell. If the tree 
was a large one Rover and I would lie down to keep 
each other warm while the boys felled it. When the 
tree began cracking Rover would spring up and place 
himself where the top would fall, and never failed to 
nab the victim. 

My share of the coon skins and the oil for the second 
year's hunting amounted to $4.35. Three dollars of 

Reminiftcences ot William M. Stewart 25 

this was expended by me in buying shoes for myself 
and my brothers and sisters when the cobbler came to 
our house in the fall. I bought school-books for which 
I paid fifty cents, retaining eighty-five cents to spend at 
the General Training the next spring, where I repeated 
my dissipation of the previous year, spending twenty 
cents. I was very fond of General Training, because 
the boys and men indulged in all kinds of sports, such as 
running, jumping, wrestling and boxing, in which I took 
a very active part at an early age. 

During the summer I helped my father on the farm 
at all sorts of work. That winter I went to common 
school three months, and returned to work again in 
the spring. Often I would work all day and hunt coons 
all night. 


I am cheated by a sanctimonious deacon — ^Joshua Giddings inspires 
me with the ambition to be an orator — I leave home and begin the 
battle of life — School — I do a man's work, and save money. 

There was a huckleberry swamp in the township of 
Bloomfield about five miles east of where we lived on 
Grand River, where I went two or three times during 
each summer with my mother and some of the neighbors 
and their children to gather huckleberries. We loaded 
a wagon each time with the berries, which were 
very abundant, so had to walk home. On one of 
these occasions the larger boys who were with us per- 
suaded my mother to allow me to remain with them and 
attend a political meeting which was to be held at 
Bloomfield Center in the evening. 

Several of the local candidates reveled in oratory, and 
Joshua Giddings was there and made a speech against 
the Democratic party. Giddings's speech inspired me 
with ambition to be a great man and to talk as 
he did. I never have forgotten the impressions I 
received at that meeting. 

About that time I was taught a very valuable lesson 
by a man named Deacon Laird, a ranting member of 
the Methodist church, who was a neighbor of ours. My 
mother and Deacon Laird belonged to the same church 
and the families were quite friendly. 

Early in June, when com became large enough to 
hoe, my father was called away to Cleveland, which 
was then a small village. Before he left he plowed a 
patch of corn and told me to hoe it while he was gone. 
As he expected to be away three or four days I had 
ample time to perform the task he left me. When I 
was on my way to the cornfield, the morning after my 

Reminiftcences of William M. Stewart 27 

father left, Deacon Laird's son John, about two years 
older than I, told me that his father wanted to hire me 
a day or two to help him hoc their com. I told him I 
could do the work my father left me in about a day 
or a day and a half, and if he would hire me for two 
days I would take the chances of getting my work done 
before my father came back. He took me to his father, 
who was just going into the field with his old mare to 
plow. It was then about half past seven. Deacon 
Laird said he would hire me for two days and pay me 
twenty-five cents a day if I would work well. I thought 
it a good opportunity, because I had only twenty cents 
left of my coon money. We did not get fairly to work 
until about eight o'clock, but worked on until nearly 

The next day I was on hand at half past six in the 
morning and went to work immediately. We took a 
short recess in the middle of the day for dinner, and 
John and I worked like beavers to keep up with the 
deacon plowing the corn. 

A little after four o'clock word came to the field that 
the mother of the hired girl was very ill and that the 
girl must go home immediately; so the deacon let her 
take the old mare to ride, and stopped work, while 
John and I finished the hoeing in about half an hour. 
I then went with John to the yard gate and told him 
to go to his father and get the money to pay me. I 
supposed i was entitled to fifty cents for the two days' 
work. John came out in a few minutes and handed me 
a ten-cent piece so badly worn that I could not tell what 
its nationality was ; but John said his father told him it 
was a York shilling, which was twelve and a half cents. 
I was very much in doubt about the money, and went 
a mile and a half to Mesopotamia Center to see Mr. 
Winter, a storekeeper, to ask him about it. He told 
me it was a very badly worn ten-cent piece and that I 
had better get rid of it as soon as I could. 

28 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

The next morning I went to Deacon Laird to collect 
the balance of the money which was due me. 

"You have worked only one day," he said, "only half 
a day each day you were here. I have paid you a 

"No, it was only a ten-cent piece," I replied. 

"I am never mistaken in money," he insisted. 

I told him Mr. Winter said it was only a ten-cent 

"I have paid you twelve and a half cents, and I owe 
you twelve and a half cents more, which I will pay you 
some time when I have the money," he retorted. 

"You say you will pay me only twelve and a half 
cents more, and you say that was a shilling you gave 
me," I answered, backing off a little, looking at him all 
the time and picking up some stones. When I said the 
last word I let drive at him and cursed him for every- 
thing I could think of. He came after me, but I got 
over the fence quicker than he could and got out of 
his way, and went to my father's cornfield and finished 
the work he left me to do. 

I was greatly troubled for fear Deacon Laird would 
misrepresent the affair to my mother. I finally con- 
cluded I would make a clean breast of it and tell her all 
about it. She did not know that I had worked for 
Deacon Laird at all, and was very much affected by my 
story. She never chastised me when she was angry, but 
would always put it off and do it very deliberately later 
on. When I told her how I had cursed the Deacon she 
shed tears and said: 

"My son, I am deeply hurt, and very sorry that you 
have used profane language. You don't know how it 
pains me." 

I expected she would call me up the next day and 
punish me, but she never said a word about it. I noticed 
a coolness between her and Deacon Laird afterward, 
but she never mentioned the subject to me again. 

Reminiftcences of William M. Stewart 29 

This little experience with Deacon Laird has been 
of great value to me through life. It has made me 
suspicious of people who are too loud in their profession 
of religion. I have always been afraid that they were 
using the garb of sanctity to cloak their rascality, and, 
to my advantage, I have refrained from trusting them. 

My coon hunting during the following year was 
not as profitable as the year before, my share amounting 
to only about $2.50, of which I spent $2 for shoes for 
myself and my brothers and sisters. I was not able 
to procure many new shoes, but the cobbler mended 
up the old ones and made us very comfortable that 

About a week before General Training the following 
spring, I was at Mr. Winter's store at Mesopotamia 
Center, and he invited me to take twelve o'clock dinner 
with him on General Training day. I gladly accepted 
the invitation, which relieved me from the expense of 
buying gingerbread and root beer. 

The only recreation I had that summer from work 
on the farm was fishing and swimming in Grand River. 
The lock tender of the Erie Canal taught me to swim 
about as soon as I could walk; at all events, I do not 
remember when I could not swim. In the winter I 
again attended the district school on Grand River. 
Among the pupils was a black-eyed little girl, Mary 
Easton, about my own age, of whom I was very fond. 
The schoolhouse was warmed by an old-fashioned fire- 
place with a back-log, andirons, and a big pile of wood. 
The boys usually made the fire in the morning, and 
one morning while several of the larger boys were 
having difficulty in putting the back-log in place, in 
the presence of the other scholars, among whom was 
the black-eyed little girl, I seized the opportunity to 
show off. 

I picked up one end of the back-log, the other slipped, 
and the log dropped on my toe, smashing it so it was 

30 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

marked for life. I did not tell anybody I was hurt, 
but worked away at the log until I got it in place. I 
then went home with my shoe almost full of blood; but 
after the toe was dressed I returned to school for the 
remainder of the day without letting the scholars know 
I had been hurt. 

The following spring I met with a great calamity. 
Rover died. I have always thought some boys whom I 
would not take "cooning" with me poisoned him out of 
revenge. I buried him by the side of a big rock, and 
on a recent visit to my old home I found the rock and 
was able to identify the burial-place of my faithful 

The next summer and fall were spent working on 
my father's farm as usual, and in the winter I again 
attended the district school. I had then grown to be 
almost the size of a man, being in my fourteenth year. 
In the spring there was not much to do on the farm, 
as the corn planting did not take place until about the 
middle of May. 

A neighbor named Nathan Brazee wanted to hire 
me for a short time. So one morning after breakfast, 
while my father was still in the house, and mother was 
attending to her household affairs, I asked father if he 
had any objections to my working for Mr. Brazee until 
time to plant com. He treated my request rather 
lightly, and laughingly remarked: 

"Why, certainly, you can go and stay as long as you 
have a mind, and you need not come back any more 
unless you wish to." 

Mother overheard the remark, and said to him : 

"Augustus, you had better not make a bargain with 
William, for if you do he will keep it." 

He laughed again, and said: 

"All right, it's a bargain. He can keep it." 

I thanked him for his consent, and left the house that 
morning, went to the house of Mr. Brazee, and made 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 31 

a contract to work for him for six months at eight 
dollars a month. I did all kinds of work, and fully 
supplied the place of a man until haying was over. 

Mr. Brazee then called my attention to a five-acre lot 
of timbered land which he wanted cleared. The mode 
of clearing at that time was felling the trees, trimming 
and piling the brush, and cutting the bodies of the trees 
into logging lengths; that is, such lengths as could be 
rolled into log heaps and burned. I asked him how long 
a time he would allow me to clear the five acres, and he 
said, "The balance of your six months." I agreed to 
that and did the work in a little over six weeks, but my 
right hand bears the marks of that work to this day. 
^Ay six months' pay was due before Mr. Brazee was 
able to meet his obligation. Adjoining the five acres 
I had cut he had a ten-acre tract which formed an ell 
to his farm. I knew a man who wanted the ten acres, a^^ 

and I asked Mr. Brazee what he would take for the T> 
land. He said I might have it for what he owed me. ^^^ 
I closed the bargain at once, went to the man whom I ^^ 

knew wanted the land, and sold it to him for a yoke ^*j!^ 
of steers and fifty sheep. I soon found a cash customer 
for my steers and sheep and sold them for sixty dollars?^ 

I took this money and started to the academy at West 
Farmington, which was at that time quite a flourishing 
institution in the township adjoining Mesopotamia 
Township on the south. I rented a room for a dollar 
a month, bought a bed and bedding of very primitive 
quality for four dollars, and a second-hand cook-stove 
for a dollar and a quarter. I cooked my own food, 
which did not cost me more than three dollars a month. 

I was a very poor scholar for my age. My 
clothing was cheap but comfortable. My large size, 
and the hard work I had performed, gave me rather an 
uncouth and awkward appearance, and as I went into 
the schoolroom and took my seat I observed a sup- 

32 Reminiscences of William M. Stevrmrt 

pressed titter among the girls, which I realized I had 

Although I was backward in everything else, I had a 
natural aptitude for mathematics. Adam's arithmetic 
was used in the school, and before I had been there a 
month, and although I was sometimes compelled to 
refer to the multiplication table to refresh my memory, 
I could do all the hard problems in the ''back of the 
book"; and before the term was out I could answer any 
question or do any problem in the book. The girls, as 
usual, dreaded arithmetic, and when the teacher would 
call me out for recitation and open the book at the 
hardest place he could find, I would answer all questions 
and do anything that was to be done on the blackboard 
without hesitation. The girls did not titter any more, 
and I was gratified to find myself a decided favorite 
before the term expired. 

During my vacation I worked for Deacon Goff , who 
lived about a mile south of the academy. Deacon Goff 
was a very good man, charitable, and benevolent. He 
never used his religion as an advertising medium. I 
carried off brick in his brick yard for three months at 
twelve dollars a month. 

In the fall I went back to the academy, and I had 
saved up enough money to enable me to have my eldest 
sister attend school with me for two terms. I could 
do this because I paid my own board and lodging by 
working mornings and evenings for Mr. Leonard Lewis, 
who had a farm about a mile west of the academy. I 
milked cows, cut wood, and fed stock. 


Herding cattle — First visit to a great city — I win fame as a harvester 
and lay my rivals out — Student and school teacher — An unruly 
pupil floored — I enter Yale — College pranks. 

The following summer, when I was sixteen years old, 
I hired out to assist a drover by the name of Loveland, 
whose business was to buy cattle in the West in the 
winter and drive them in the spring and early summer 
to Chester and other counties of Pennsylvania near 
Philadelphia. The cattle were kept in pasture until 
the early fall and then made ready for the eastern 
market. There were no railroads of any considerable 
extent in those days, but there was a magnificent macad- 
amized road between Pittsburg and Harrisburg, the 
capital of the State. Mr. Loveland's drove that year 
numbered about twelve hundred steers. The drove 
moved slowly, because we had to find pasture for them 
along the way as it would not pay to buy feed. Before 
we were over the mountains Mr. Loveland acquired the 
habit of giving all his orders through me, and told me 
when I had no special orders to use my own judgment 
in directing the men. 

When we arrived in Chester County he asked me if 
I could take care of the cattle and find them pasture for 
six weeks or two months. He said if I could do so 
he would let all the other men go, and when I needed 
help I could hire boys in the neighborhood and pay 
them, and also keep accounts and pay the pasture bills. 
I was glad to have such an arrangement, because the 
men who came over with the drove had become a little 
jealous of me, and I was afraid I would have trouble 
if he left them with me. 

I had a most delightful time that summer. I lived at 

34 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

various farm-houses, and became acquainted with all 
the girls and boys, who thought nothing of walking 
eight or ten miles from one farm-house to another. 
Cherries were ripe, and all sorts of berries; peaches and 
plums came later. I did not have to hire any help, for 
when I wanted to change the cattle from one pasture 
to another the boys of the neighborhood all wanted to 
help drive them and thought it was great sport. 

Beyond question the good old German Quaker women 
of Pennsylvania at that time were endowed with as 
much human kindness and motherly love as any who 
have ever appeared on earth, before or since. They 
gave me better things to eat at the farm-houses where 
I stopped than can be found at the most fashionable 
homes of modern aristocracy. The day we forded the 
Susquehanna River with our drove of cattle was charac- 
terized by the hardest work of the whole journey. We 
had no time to eat breakfast in the morning and did 
not get our cattle into pasture until four o'clock. I 
then went to a confectionery stand on a broad porch near 
the end of the bridge across the river. There I saw 
a very tempting-looking pie, and asked an old lady 
keeping the stand the price of a piece. The pie was 
cut in quarters, the pieces were very large, the price 
was ten cents. I laid ten cents on the counter, and as 
she placed the pie before me she gave me a kindly look, 
which seemed to me like a benediction, and said, **You 
have been working very hard driving them cattle and 
you want something more substantial before you eat 
that pie." She then brought out a large bowl of milk 
and a loaf of home-made bread and a big cut of home- 
made cheese, and said, **I advise you to eat that first 
and the pie afterward." 

I never relished a meal more in my life, and the 
pie was something new, being made of tomato preserves. 
I never have eaten anything in the shape of a pie that 
equaled it. While I was eating the good things she 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 35 

gave me she kindly talked to me about the country, and 
gave me a good deal of local information in a very short 

When I offered to pay her for what she had given 
me in addition to the pie, she said: 

"No, young man; when I saw thee hungry, it more 
than paid me to give thee food." 

In the fall Mr. I^veland sold out his drove, and 
wrote to me to meet him in about five days at Harris- 
burg, where we would settle our accounts and go home. 

As I had never seen a large city, Pittsburg then being 
only a small village, I had a great anxiety to visit Phila- 
delphia, which was about thirty miles distant. I ate an 
early breakfast at the farm-house where I was stopping, 
put some crackers in my pocket, and started on foot for 
the big city. About twelve o'clock I stopped at a 
wayside pump and dined on crackers and water. I 
reached Philadelphia some time before sundown. 
Chestnut Street to me was a wonder, and I was not too 
tired to go the whole length of the business part of it 
before I took lodging for the night. 

There was a receiving-ship in the harbor where they 
were enlisting and training boys for the Navy. I 
contrived to get aboard, thinking perhaps it would be 
a good thing for me to go to sea ; but when I saw how 
the officer of the deck treated the enlisted men, I came 
to the conclusion that I would not trade my freedom for 
one day for all the navies in the world. I hurried back 
to the city and spent the day in sight-seeing. It seemed 
strange, after I became familiar with cities, how won- 
derful commonplace things appeared to me on my first 
visit to Philadelphia. I walked back to Harrisburg 
and arrived there by the time appointed by Mt. 
Loveland. It did not take long to settle the accounts; 
in fact, they were already settled by the bank which kept 
account of my orders. We returned to Ohio together 
in a buggy. 

36 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

I went back to the Farmington Academy during the 
fall term, and at the Christmas holidays I engaged to 
teach a school for three months at Hampton, Lake 
County, Ohio. My school closed before the close of 
the spring term at Farmington, and I went back there 
and reviewed my studies for a month. 

In the mean time, a high school where students were 
preparing for college was established at Lyons, New 
York, so I determined to leave the academy and go 

After visiting my home and making some presents 
to my mother, brothers, and sisters, I had barely enough 
left to pay my passage on the lake steamer and canal 
boat to Lyons. I walked to Ashtabula, a distance of 
about twenty-five or thirty miles, and took a steamer 
for Buffalo. The boat stopped at Erie, Pennsylvania. 

I arrived at Lyons on a canal boat about four o'clock 
in the afternoon with fifty cents in my pocket. It was 
haying and harvesting time and I apprehended no 
difficulty in getting immediate employment. I followed 
the road going south from Lyons about half or three- 
quarters of a mile, to a large farm-house with many 
out-buildings, and turned into the gate. There was a 
porch nearly all the way around the house, which was 
built something after the Pennsylvania style. In the 
shade of the porch fronting the gate an old lady and 
gentleman were sitting in quiet conversation. I asked 
the old gentleman if he wanted any more help. He 
said : 

*'Yes, I want three or four more hands, but you look 
too delicate for my work; I don't think I want you." I 
turned to go away, and his wife said to him : 

**Mr. Dunn, why don't you give that young man a 
chance? He is large and strong; it is his light com- 
plexion that makes him look delicate. Please give him 
a chance." 

The old man called out to me in a gruff voice: 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 37 

"Come back here, young man. What can you do?" 

**Any work you have on the farm," I replied. 

"Can you mow?" 


"Can you cradle?" 


"Can you rake and bind?" 


He pointed to a field near the barn, containing four 
acres of timothy and clover, and told me that the field 
was ripe enough to cut and that I might try my hand 

He took down a scythe that was lying on a shed near 
by and told me to turn the grindstone and he would 
grind the scythe for me. I told him if I were going 
to mow I should prefer to grind my own scythe. "Can 
you grind a scythe?" he said. I told him I could. The 
old lady spoke up again, saying: 

"Mr. Dunn, you turn the grindstone and let the 
young man grind his own scythe," and he did so. 

The next day I commenced mowing, but my hands 
were tender, as I had not worked recently, and they 
soon blistered and bled. I kept on, however, and before 
night I had cut two acres of that heavy grass, which was 
half the field. The men, as they came in from the 
wheatfield where eight or ten of them had been at work, 
took a look at what I had done, and spoke to Mr. Dunn 
about it as they passed into the farm-house. I did not 
hear what they said or his reply, but the old lady came 
to my relief again and said loud enough for me to hear, 
"I told Mr. Dunn that young man could work." 

I finished mowing the next day, and the following 
morning Mr. Dunn told me I might go into the wheat- 
field and rake and bind, and that if I could keep up with 
the cradle it would be a dollar a day, but if I failed 
to do that it would be only seventy-five cents. I kept 
up with the cradle four days and the wheat harvest was 

38 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

done. By that time Mr. Dunn and his wife had become 
my particular friends. They had a daughter, Sallie, 
about eighteen years old, and the old gentleman gave 
me an introduction to her, which was regarded at that 
time as a special honor. 

There were two large fields, one on either side of the 
road, each containing about one hundred acres. Much 
of that ground is now occupied by the New York Cen- 
tral Railroad. Mr. Dunn said to me, **I want you to 
help mow those fields, and as I have observed that you 
are particular about your scythe, we will go over to 
the village where you can pick one out and I will buy 
it for you." We carried out the suggestion, but the 
scythe had to be ground the next morning before it was 
fit for use. He told me to grind it and he would turn 
the grindstone, and while I was doing so, he said, "I 
don't want the men crowded, but I want them to be kept 
at work, and I want you to see to it that they don't fool 
away their time." 

This conversation was unfortunately overheard by 
some of the men before they went out. As soon as my 
scythe was ground I followed them, but they all stopped 
down at a big gate opening into the field on the right- 
hand side of the road, and sneeringly said to me, **Boss, 
you go ahead and we will follow." 

It was about half a mile across the field, and the 
person going ahead was required to lead the way and 
turn a double swath back, which is a great deal harder 
work than mowing after a swath has been cut. 

Mr. Dunn had a nephew, whose name also was Dunn, 
a strong, vigorous man about thirty years old, and he 
had been in the habit of acting as foreman. He was 
very angry at my being selected to lead the men. He 
came immediately after me, and eight other men 
followed him. He mowed so close to me that it made 
it very hard work all the way round while I was turning 
the double swath. It was then my turn to go behind 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 39 

all the others, and Dunn's to go ahead. I did not care 
much for the others, but Dunn's meanness, as I regarded 
it, annoyed me, and I decided then and there that he 
or I would have the worst of it before night. 

I crowded up on the men before me, and either 
mowed around them or made them get out of the way 
and fall behind me until I got up to Dunn, then I 
followed him without giving him a breathing-spell. 
When we got around near the gate where we started 
we were too far ahead of the other mowers to change 
with them, so I went ahead and he followed me, and 
we continued that process until night. 

The race attracted the attention of the people at 
the house, as they could see us from the porch. When 
we quit work that night Mr. Dunn called me aside and 
said he had no intention of killing me when he told me 
to keep the men at work, and that it was not necessary 
to mow any more until we had hauled in the hay already 
cut. I asked him if it would not be just as well to let 
his nephew and me mow until the grass was all cut, and 
let the others take it in. 

"No," he said, **I am afraid you will kill yourself. 
He is older and ought to be tougher than you." 

I insisted on mowing with young Dunn the next day. 
We slept in a large room in the second story on mat- 
tresses which were spread on the floor. Whiskey was 
used pretty freely on Mr. Dunn's farm, and there was 
always a jug in the field with the water bucket for 
those who chose to drink it. I did not drink whiskey 
at that time, but I told Mr. Dunn to put a bottle of it 
under my head and I would use it to wet the blanket 
under which I slept, which would prevent my being sore 
the next morning. When I awoke about dawn I felt as 
limber as usual. I watched the movements of Mr. 
Dunn's nephew and observed that he was a little stiff. 

The fact that the race was going on became known, 
and Miss Dunn invited several of her friends to join 

40 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

her and see the sport that day. We mowed on as we 
had done the day before, each working his best until 
four o'clock, at which time the young lady and one of 
the serving-women were in the habit of taking a lunch 
to the field for the men at work. On this occasion six 
or seven young ladies came with Miss Dunn when the 
lunch was brought out. I ate sparingly, but my appetite 
was fairly good. Dunn ate a few mouthfuls and we 
started back to our mowing. When he had mowed 
about a rod he lay down on the ground and vomited, 
and was too sick to get up. The girls told me to quit, 
but I told them I would not, but to send a team and 
take Dunn home, and I worked on until quitting time, 
but not over vigorously. When harvesting was over 
Mr. Dunn brought out a roll of bills, and handed them 
to me, saying, **I think that will pay you off." 

On counting the money I found he had allowed me 
a dollar and a half a day for the whole time. 

When the Lyons Union School commenced its fall 
term I became a student in that institution. The school 
had four grades, first, second, third, and fourth. Pro- 
fessor Brittan was the president, and he, with an 
assistant, taught the languages. Professor Elliott was 
teacher of higher mathematics. I devoted myself during 
the first term to the languages, and reviewed with 
Professor Elliott some of the higher mathematics which 
I had previously studied. 

At the end of the fall term, which lasted three 
months, I taught a district school in the town of Phelps, 
which was about fifteen miles south of Lyons. I had 
a good school, and made many pleasant acquaintances 
which I have continued to the present day. 

When I returned to the Union School at Lyons the 
following spring term I was offered and accepted the 
place of teacher of the third grade. Professor Brittan 
very kindly heard my lessons in the languages out of 
school hours. 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 41 

There was a family of Easlicks living in Lyons, con- 
sisting of father, mother, and three or four boys. They 
were all bad boys at school. George W., the oldest, was 
about a year older than I and regarded as the bully of 
the town. He had had trouble with my predecessor, 
William S. Hall, and the trustees expelled him from 
the school. After I was appointed his father came to 
me and begged very earnestly to have his boy taken 
back into the school. Mr. Hall and the other teachers 
about the institution advised me to keep him out. I 
saw the trustees and they said I had better not take him 
back; but I told his father that I would receive him in 
the school, and the next day George came swaggering 
in and began to play tricks on the smaller boys. Several 
of them complained to me, and I told George he ought 
to behave himself and let the little boys alone. He said 
nothing, but gave me an insolent grin. 

The next day he lifted a small boy, who was sitting 
in front of him, by his hair and made the little fellow 
cry out pitifully. I walked toward him in an easy 
manner and told him I would have to punish him. He 
appeared to regard that as the best joke he had ever 
heard, and came swaggering toward me to show me 
that he was ready for a fight. I grabbed and tripped 
him and he fell full length on his face. I jumped on 
his back, caught him by the hair, jammed his nose 
against the floor and hit him as hard as I could under 
the butt of the ear, which made him senseless for a few 
minutes. I waited for him to recover, but kept my posi- 
tion for fear he might revive and get the better of me. 
When he was able to speak he said, "Let us reason." 

"Reason be damned I" I replied. "I propose to kill 
you if you don't behave yourself." He readily promised 
to behave in future, and he never gave me another 
moment's trouble, although he continued to attend 
during the remainder of the term. 

George had a younger brother about fourteen years 

42 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

old who was in the same grade at the same time, and 
as he was a pretty good fighter I did not know but he 
would interfere, but he only looked on. The younger 
brother became an athlete in after years, and made quite 
a fortune by performing in Barnum's shows and other 
public places. 

At the end of the term Professor Elliott resigned, 
and I was appointed temporarily to take his place at a 
better salary than I was receiving as teacher of the third 

Some of the scholars were well advanced in mathe- 
matics. Perkins's Algebra was the work in use on that 
subject. Mr. Perkins was a great scholar who resided 
at Albany, N. Y. We got along very nicely. The 
scholars all took deep interest, and I was able to explain 
everything until we came to a proposition in the latter 
part of the book which involved the principle of dividing 
nothing by nothing. 

Dividing nothing by nothing produces an inde- 
terminate quantity. You can make the strictly 
mathematical formula 2 equal 4 or any other absurd 
and unexpected results follow from combinations 
involving that principle. I discovered that the author 
was wrong, and so informed the class. The executive 
committee of the trustees were also informed, and they 
took it for granted that it was my fault; that I did not 
understand the question. They called a meeting of the 
executive board and notified me to be present the follow- 
ing Saturday evening. 

I wrote immediately to Professor Perkins, pointing 
out his error. I was confident he would correct it, 
because he was a good mathematician and had not 
observed the combination which his demonstration 
involved. The board was very suspicious. I told them 
that I was right and undertook to explain it to them. 
Of course they were not sufficiently versed in mathe- 
matics to understand the explanation. The youngest 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 43 

member of the board, James C. Smith, afterward Judge 
Smith, asked me how much time I wanted to communi- 
cate with Professor Perkins. I told him I had already 
written Professor Perkins and that I thought I would 
get a letter within a week or ten days. He asked me if a 
month would be satisfactory. "Entirely," I replied, 
adding that I would go on with the class and take up 
other branches which they desired to pursue. 

Until I heard from Professor Perkins I felt that I 
was under a cloud; but I waited patiently, expecting to 
be relieved. In about two weeks I received a letter 
from the Professor, containing about four pages of a 
new edition of the book that he was about to issue, 
which corrected his mistake and acknowledged that I 
was right. I visited the president of the board and 
asked him to call a meeting, saying that I was ready to 
report. They called a meeting. I laid the matter 
before them and they seemed delighted. My reputation 
rose from below zero far above my deserts as a mathe- 
matician. The whole school, in fact the whole 
community, thought I knew everything about mathe- 

^ continued to teach until the faHof 1848, when I 
thought I was prepared to enter Yale?^I had been able 
to save but little money, but Mr. Janrcs C. Smith, who 
had taken my part as one of the executive committee, 
loaned me some money which made it possible for me 
to enter the college. He added to it from time to time 
while I was at Yale until it reached nearly two hundred 
dollars. Nothing has given me more pleasure than the 
privilege later of paying it back with more interest than 
he was willing to take. 

When I was examined for admission to Yale the 
same proficiency In mathematics which had done me so 
much service at Lyons helped me. Professor Olm- 
stead, who was professor of chemistry, was exam- 
ining the class for admission in arithmetic. Professor 

44 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

Stanley, who was professor of mathematics, was 
also present assisting in the examination. There 
were several other professors examining in the lan- 
guages, for they were very strict in those days. 
Professor Olmstead gave me a slate and pencil. He 
wrote two ciphers, one above the other, and asked me 
to divide one cipher by the other. 

I deliberately went to work and used every formula 
at my command, showing that the result was an inde- 
terminate quantity. I not only used the algebraic formula 
by which you could prove 2 to equal 4 and the like, 
but I understood how to use a similar formula involving 
the same principle in differential calculus. I filled the 
slate with a great variety of solutions, all showing that 
nothing divided by nothing was an indeterminate 

When Professor Olmstead came to me I handed him 
my slate and told him that nothing divided by nothing 
resulted in an indeterminate quantity, as I had proved 
in various ways. '*Why, nothing divided by nothing, 
isn't that once?" he said. '*No," I replied. 

He took the slate and went to Professor Stanley, 
and the latter asked which student had done the 
problem. Professor Olmstead pointed to me. "Ask 
him no more questions; admit him," said Professor 
Stanley. So the examination in the languages was 
merely formal, and I went through easily, which was 
a great relief to me. 

I passed the first year in Yale without making a 
mistake in mathematics, although I do not believe I 
spent two hours during the year studying my lessons. 
I did that at Farmington and Lyons, where I examined 
all the geometries, algebras, books on trigonometry, 
surveying, plain and differential calculus and conic 
sections that I could find — a much more thorough course 
than was pursued in any of the colleges. I was so much 
absorbed in mathematics at times that I often worked 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 45 

all night, and when called for breakfast was unconscious 
that I had been engaged any considerable length of 

The languages gave me more labor at Yale, but 
mathematics came very near being the ruin of me. 
There were problems for which additional marks were 
given out by Tutor Grant, our division tutor. He gave 
them out and I would do them for the boys who were 
dull in mathematics. He was very suspicious of me, and 
tried very hard to get even by finding questions that I 
could not answer. He thought he had me one day. In 
Playfair's Euclid, which was used at the college, there 
is a demonstration, and then a note below at the bottom 
of the page in fine print, stating that the q point can 
be demonstrated in a similar way without giving the 
demonstration. Most of the young men failed on the 
q point. It was in the lesson given out, but it had not 
attracted my attention and I had not looked at it, and 
was uncertain whether I could demonstrate it or not. 

As I was going into the class-room I told Tutor Grant 
that I had not looked at the q point and I would rather 
not be called on for it if he would excuse me; that I 
had not asked any favors before and I did not want to 
miss answering any questions put to me. 

He simply gave me a sardonic grin, as tantalizing as 
he could make it. He pulled out papers by lot and 
called the class up to demonstrate on the blackboard, 
so that nobody knew, and he did not know, what prob- 
lem any student would get. 

When he came to the q point he drew five different 
papers until he came to my name. He then called out, 
**Stewart!" I had told the class that I had not examined 

I went to the blackboard, asked the tutor to read the 
proposition over again, and he read it in a vindictive, 
harsh and loud, but clear voice. When he finished I 
had thought it all out. When I had written it he 

40 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

said, "Sufficient," In a snappish tone, and the class all 
cheered me, which was a great indecorum and came very 
near breaking up the meeting. 

My anger was aroused by his treatment. The stu- 
dents published a paper called The Tomahawk. We 
could not publish it at the college. It was a secret 
society paper and was printed in a cellar in New York, 
and we distributed it from there. It poked fun and 
ridicule at everybody. We had observed when we went 
to Tutor Grant's room, where we had to go to ask 
favors of any kind or to be excused, that he was receiv- 
ing letters from two different ladies, and that he put 
them in separate pigeonholes. We concluded that he 
must have some love secrets. 

There was a little fellow, Talcott, who was a good 
scholar in the languages and quite a poet, being able to 
write doggerel with great facility. He and I obtained 
excuses from attending chapel on the same Sunday. It 
was summer-time and the windows in the professors' 
dormitory were open. Tutor Grant was a bachelor. 

I secured a painter's ladder and Talcott climbed into 
Tutor Grant's room, took some letters from the two 
pigeonholes, and worked them into verses. It seems 
the two girls were jealous of each other; and Talcott, 
in the doggerel, made them reply to what Grant wrote, 
he pretending to each that she was the only one. 

We had that printed in the paper, and Talcott stuck 
four or five copies in Tutor Grant's hat, and when he 
was at dinner scattered them around the whole college. 
We had to do it clandestinely, but it raised an uproar. 
Grant wanted the faculty to get together and punish 
the guilty parties. I was frightened then. 

One of the students had a room just under the room 
where the faculty met. We got a bit and bored a hole 
into the floor, and stuck a tube into it and brought it 
down into the room beneath, so that we could hear what 
the faculty said. They ran him a good deal about the 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 47 

joke the boys had on him, but he was fearfully mad 
and wanted them to trace it out and expel the guilty 
parties. He said he knew I was at the bottom of it, and 
that nobody else could invent such a trick as that. The 
faculty wanted proof, as they would not expel me on 
hearsay. They wound up by resolving not to do any- 
thing unless they had evidence. 

Professor Stanley was my friend. He sent for me 
the next night and said to me, '*You must stop this. I 
know he is not a very agreeable man, and deserved it, 
but you must stop it.'' 

Another time mathematics came very near ruining me. 
At the end of the second term prize problems were given 
out for the freshmen and junior classes to solve. I 
solved every one. 

I had a friend in the sophomore class whom I liked 
very much, and I gave him the solution of a very hard 
problem and he secured a prize. Professor Stanley 
thought I had done it, and sent for me and asked me 
to solve that problem for him. I tried very hard to find 
a way to do it different from the way I did it for my 
friend. He told me I need not go any further, that 
there was only one way to do it. 

"Now," said he, **this is the second time I have 
caught you, and if you try to do anything of the kind 
again you will be found out and I will not protect 


Gold fever — I determine to go to California — Storm off Hatteras — 
Arrival in Panama — A priest and a cock fight — Gambling in San 
Francisco — In desperate straits — 111 with fever, I struggle to the 
gold diggings — Money in sick miners — My first claim. 

After commencement In 1 849 I went to Lyons, which 
I regarded as my home, and spent the vacation in such 
work as I could find. While there glowing accounts 
were constantly received through the newspapers of the 
gold mines discovered in California, and many young 
men were leaving for the Pacific. 

Judge Sherwood was anxious that I should go to the 
gold fields and try my luck at mining. He said he 
would lend me sufficient money to pay my transportation 
by way of the Isthmus, as it was then too late to cross 
the plains that season. I went to New York to obtain 
passage, but found everything taken for about three 
months ahead, and the best I could do was to secure 
transportation on the steamer Philadelphia, a shaky old 
craft that was to sail about Christmas. 

I went back to Yale for the fall term, and left at the 
holiday vacation, starting early in January on the voyage 
,/^, to Panama, and a very rough voyage we had from New 


V . York to Cuba, too. 

^ A storm raged off Hatteras for about forty-eight 

hours, which came very near destroying our ship. The 
old hulk had been fitted up with shelves called berths, 
and we were packed in after the fashion of so many 

There was not sufficient room for coal below and it 
was packed around on the middle deck, leaving barely 
space to walk. When the steamer commenced pitching 
in the waves, the coal, which was in sacks, slid forward 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 49 

and endangered the safety of the vessel. The captain 
called on the passengers, about fourteen hundred in num- 
ber, to help carry the coal back to trim the ship. Only 
three of us were able to engage in the work, John James, 
"Doc" Bronson, and myself. The rest of the passengers 
were too sick to stand, and devoted themselves to prayer 
and lamentations. 

The vessel had two engines driving paddle-wheels. 
During the night of the first day of the storm one of 
the engines broke and three of the sailors lost their 
lives in attempting to repair it. From that time the 
ship had to be worked with one engine. 

During the early part of the second night the waves 
were tremendous, every ninth wave greater than the 
intervening. Finally one of the big waves swept over 
the ship and carried every mast by the board. The 
captain called upon his crew to cut the ropes and let 
the dangling spars go overboard. None of his crew 
dared such an undertaking. 

Just at that moment, William Dall, a young, compact, 
energetic sailor who was going to the Pacific to act as 
mate on a steamship, and who afterward was captain, 
and later superintendent of one of the principal mines 
on the Comstock, volunteered to cut the ropes. He 
bound a rope around his waist, sprang to the stump of 
the mast and tied himself to that, and swung out in 
the air, cut the ropes and cleared the ship before the 
next great wave reached her. After that the wind 
gradually subsided, although the waves still ran moun- 
tain high. 

By twelve o'clock that night the coal which had been 
between the decks was so far used up as to give no 
further trouble. I asked the captain if he had anything 
more for me to do, and he said no, that I had better 
take a rest. 

I started down to the cabin, heard the pounding of 
an anchor chain, and met two sailors going to fasten it. 

50 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

One of them was a very large man and the other a very 
small one. The little man said to his companion, **I 
wish it was morning.'' I'he other replied in a gruff 
tone, '*What bell is it?'' The little sailor told him it 
was the third. The big one replied, **That is three 
hours before daylight. It will take you just two hours 
to get to hell and you will have a chance to roast there 
an hour before daylight." 

I went down to the cabin, a long, narrow room 
between the bunks and shelves where we were packed, 
and was crawling into my berth, which was near the 
entrance, when a very corpulent man, whose name was 
Patterson, who had been a justice of the peace in Ver- 
mont, caught hold of the stanchion at the opening to 
steady himself and said to me, **What do you think 
the chances are?" I told him I thought they were 
about even, they might be a little against us. He raised 
his hands to pray, and as he did so a tub of butter 
floated behind him, and as the ship rolled he took a 
seat in the butter. I think I would have laughed if the 
ship had been sinking. 

The next day we got into still water among the 
islands of the West Indies, and every ship we passed 
hailed us for a wreck. But the weather was then 
delightful, and the passengers all crawled out on deck 
and looked happy. I have no doubt they felt happy, 
for I am certain I did. 

About noon my attention was called to a number of 
gentlemen engaged in playing poker. My prayerful 
friend Patterson was one of the party, and I called the 
attention of the passengers to the marks on his trousers 
occasioned by his attempts to pray the night before. 
The boys made life uncomfortable for him during the 
rest of the journey. 

We arrived about sundown at the mouth of the 
Chagres River, where there were several hundred boats 
of all shapes and sizes, in which the natives rowed, 


Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 51 

or rather poled, the passengers up the river to a place 
called Gorgona, from where they either walked or were 
carried with the baggage on the backs of natives and 

I heard the officers of the boat discussing the chances 
of securing passage to San Francisco. They said there 
were ten tickets reserved for the agents of the Adams 
Express Company and their friends, and that they must 
hurry to Panama in time to secure them. I determined 
to be there as soon as they were. 

The boat I selected for the trip up the river carried 
three passengers besides myself, and was propelled by 
four natives with long poles. We encouraged them as 
best we could, and our boat landed immediately behind 
the Adams Express boat. I did not take time to engage 
mule transportation, but relied on my own feet, kept 
up with the Express Company, and by insisting got one 
of the tickets. 

It was several days before our boat sailed, and I 
occupied the time looking over Panama and the sur- 
roundings, and found many old buildings and remnants 
of the ancient Spanish town when the city was the 
central depot for the western coast of America and the 
islands of the Philippines in Asia. 

I arrived Saturday, and about ten o'clock Sunday 
morning a long procession of men and women passed 
through the main street to a large stone cathedral where 
religious services were held. The priest who officiated 
was a very devout and solemn-looking person. 

As I left the cathedral I met some Americans who 
had been on the Isthmus for several weeks waiting for 
transportation, and they told me there would be another 
performance of a different kind in the afternoon. 

About one o'clock they led the way to a secluded 
grove where the men were coming from all directions 
to a central point, in which there was a round pit about 
thirty feet across and two feet deep. 

52 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

To my astonishment I saw the same priest who had 
officiated at the religious service in the morning, 
approaching with two servants, each carrying a basket 
filled with fighting-cocks. He jumped into the ring 
with a fighting-cock to meet a man from the other side, 
who also had the same kind of fowl, and the trouble 

The priest stayed in the pit nearly all the time, his 
servants handing him a new fighting-cock as fast as his 
fighter was killed. Thirty or forty chickens were killed 
in the hour and a half or two hours that the sport lasted. 
At the end of that time the only living chickens belonged 
to the priest, and he had two left. His servants put 
one in each basket with the sacks of silver which their 
master had won, and the priest marched away in 
triumph, the proudest-looking man I ever saw. 

When the time arrived for the ship to sail upon which 
I had secured passage I went aboard of the little 
propeller Carolina, and was surprised to see so many 
passengers crowded into so small a vessel. There was 
hardly standing-room, much less sleeping-room. The 
craft would have been overcrowded with three hun- 
dred; and more than thirteen hundred came aboard. 

I had provided myself with a quantity of tobacco, 
which I had learned was a good medium for making 
friends with the sailors. I took a fancy to the second 
mate and furnished him with tobacco for the trip, and 
he returned my courtesy by swinging a hammock In 
the rigging for me to sleep in, which added greatly to 
my comfort. 

The vessel went very slow, and it required more than 
a month to go from Panama to San Francisco. Our 
food was very bad; corned beef and hard tack, with 
coflFee, being the only diet. After the first two weeks 
the water got low, and then we were put on short allow- 
ance. Before we had been out a week the third mate 
rebelled, and a half day was spent in overpowering him 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 53 

and putting him in irons. More than half the 
passengers sympathized with the mate, and if I remem- 
ber rightly some profane language was used. 

The next day after the trouble with the mate, excite- 
ment was created by one Micky Free, who was an 
Irish-American about six feet three, and as agile as a 
cat, with the strength of at least two ordinary men. He 
was from Ohio and had the reputation of being a little 
queer. The meat being unsatisfactory, he made speeches 
with regard to it which occasioned much amusement. 
He finally commenced auctioning it off to the highest 
bidder in such a ridiculous manner that the passengers 
became boisterous with laughter, in defiance of all 

The captain wanted the sailors to arrest him and 
put him in irons, whereupon he ran up the ropes like a 
wild animal, and when the sailors attempted to follow 
him he told them if they had no mercy on him to take 
care of themselves, as the first man that touched him 
would be sure to fall down on the deck. No one 
touched him, because in the first place they could not 
catch him, and in the second place, they dared not cap- 
ture him if they could. 

He stayed up there tantalizing the officers with his 
witty remarks for about half a day, and then they told 
him to come down and have a talk. He replied that 
they could not catch him that way; but he finally pointed 
to me and said to them : 

**That light-haired young man down there is my 
agent, and any arrangement that you make with him I 
will carry out.'' 

I negotiated with the captain, and an agreement was 
reached that he should come down and be unmolested, 
and that he should not auction off any more meat. 

Notwithstanding all the discomforts, we had on the 
whole rather a jolly trip, something out of the ordinary 
course of events taking place every day. 

54 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

When we reached San Francisco the harbor was full 
of ships lying at anchor. The bay at that time extended 
up to Montgomery Street, with a peninsula jutting down 
to where Market Street now is. 

We landed in boats where the Montgomery Block 
was afterward erected. The day I arrived I went to 
the comer of Market and Kearney Streets, where the 
principal gambling-establishment of California was 
located. It was in a roughly constructed building about 
thirty feet wide by one hundred feet long. As I entered 
the door a smart-looking little chap met me and pointed 
to a roulette table near by, and told me if I would say 
nothing about it, he would give me a secret. I told him 
I would say nothing, and he told me if I would bet at 
that roulette game and double the bet every time I would 
win all the money in the bank. 

I took out a quarter of a dollar and marked a cross 
on it with my knife, and bet it. There was a gentleman 
betting who had won several hundred dollars, and I 
bet as he bet and won every time. I continued betting 
all the money I won, saving only a quarter, until I had 
won twenty-five dollars, when the dealer swept that 
money in and also the pile the other gentleman had won. 
I then proposed to the dealer that he take the quarter I 
had and give me back the quarter I had marked, because 
the marked quarter was the lucky quarter. He supposed 
I wanted the marked quarter to bet with again and he 
made the exchange. 

I put it in my pocket and bade him good-morning. I 
have never bet a cent from that time to this. I went 
through the gambling-house. There was an enormous 
amount of money, something like four or five hundred 
thousand dollars, on the tables, mostly in sacks of gold 
dust. Miners were betting against gamblers, male and 
female, dressed In the most gaudy styles; and while I 
watched for perhaps fifteen or twenty minutes I saw 
quite a number of miners lose every dollar they had. 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 35 

I worked a short time on the wharf unloading vessels 
at a dollar an hour, and I then went up the river to 
Sacramento on a steamboat. From there I started up 
the American River with a view of finding a place to 
mine, but the river was too high for mining on the bars. 
So I returned to Sacramento and met a gentleman who 
wanted some wild grass cut for hay. I worked for 
him a couple of days, when I was taken sick with 
Panama fever. A young druggist whose name was 
Crane, whom I had known in Lyons, advised me to 
go to a hospital which he had established in Sacramento 
in connection with his drug store. 

The hospital was a sorry-looking building. The 
water under it was about eighteen inches or two feet 
deep, and it could be reached only by a platform of 

An untidy-looking Mexican who spoke some English 
had charge of the establishment, and I inquired of him 
how many persons had died there. He undertook to 
count them up, but I stopped him and told him that 
was enough. At the landing there was a small river 
boat, called the Governor Dana. I got the Mexican 
to take my luggage to the boat, where I followed him 
and lay down on a bench on the deck. 

My friend Crane came to me with considerable agita- 
tion, and wanted me to go back to the hospital, saying 
I would not live to get to Marysville, the destination 
of the boat; but I declined. His hospital couldn't have 
my patronage. It was not good enough for me to die 
in. When the boat landed at Marysville I could scarcely 
stagger up the bank, which was very high at that time ; 
but since then the river channel has been filled up with 
debris from the mines, leaving little or no bank. I spent 
the evening and night under a cottonwood tree where 
the boat hands placed my luggage. 

In the morning two men with a team consisting of 
twelve oxen were loading supplies for a mining camp 

56 ReminUcences of William M. Stewart 

known as Deer Creek, afterward Nevada City, about 
forty miles up in the mountains. I asked them to take 
me on their wagon. They objected at first, and said 
I was too sick to go, and that it would take several days 
with their ox team. I plead very hard, and they finally 
consented to take me. They loaded me on their wagon, 
put some loose hay under me and made me as comfort- 
able as they could. It was a dreary ride, lasting three 
and a half days. I was racked with pain, and part of 
the time I was delirious. 

When we arrived at Deer Creek the teamsters camped 
about a quarter of a mile out of town in a grove of fine 
timber near a mountain spring called Roger Williams 
Spring. They fixed me a bed of leaves above the spring, 
and split a stick and put a dipper in it, which enabled 
me to reach the water from my bed. 

Miners who came up to the spring frequently dis- 
cussed my case, the general conclusion being that I would 
not be able to "make a live of it." I drank enormous 
quantities of water every day, and finally on the morning 
of the eighth day I found myself in a violent perspira- 
tion. The fever was gone, and I was well, but very 
weak. Later, when I was informed of the fate of the 
others who had been taken with the same fever, I 
congratulated myself that I had no money to employ a 
doctor or buy medicine, as I was the only one who 

I had just ten dollars left. I went out immediately 
to secure a pick, shovel, and pan, with which I was told 
I could dig and wash out three or four dollars a day. I 
crawled over to the town, bought a little food, and 
located an old pan for which I paid a dollar. I did 
not have money enough to buy a new pick or shovel, 
as the shovels cost sixteen dollars and the picks ten 
dollars. I found an old stub of a shovel pretty nearly 
worn out, which I bought for seventy-five cents. I was 
told that a doctor on a knoll a little distance from the 

ReminUcences of William M. Stewart 57 

town had a pick which I might buy. I called on him 
and found him sitting on a stump whittling a stick and 

"You appear to be very comfortable," I said. 

"Yes, I'm making about a pound of gold a day on an 
average," he replied. 

I told him I had heard he had an old pick that he 
would sell. He looked around indifferently, pointed to 
an old pick worn off on both ends within three or four 
inches of the eye, and said I might have that for a 
dollar and a half. I bought it because it was the best 
I could do. 

While I was standing there conversing with the doctor 
I heard groans in his tent-house, which was built up 
about seven or eight feet high of sticks and mud covered 
with canvas, with a door and no windows. I asked him 
who was in there, and he continued to whistle, but finally 
replied, "Some patients of mine; they are very sick and 
I have to keep the air away from them." I stepped to 
the tent, jerked open the door, and looked in, and 
there were four or five persons nearly dead of the fever, 
deprived of air and water. 

The sight was so horrible that I left the doctor at 
once and went down into the village and told the people 
what I had seen. A party of young men started imme- 
diately for the doctor's camp; but as he saw them 
approaching he made his escape, or they would certainly 
have lynched him after they ascertained the facts. He 
had already buried four men a few feet from his tent- 

His scheme undoubtedly was to get sick miners into 
his power, rob them, and cause their death. About five 
years afterward I met the doctor in San Francisco, and 
he saw me quite as soon as I saw him. He was a 
ghastly looking wretch, and ran from the sidewalk 
between two buildings into the dark. He was evidently 
suffering for his crimes. 

58 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

I worked around in the ravines which had been 
worked over, but found some rich places and was able 
to make from two to six dollars a day for about ten 
days, when my strength returned and I determined to 
go to mining in earnest. So I bought a pick and shovel 
and went up on a hill called the Coyote Diggings to find 
a claim that I could locate. 

The diggings consisted of a body of gravel extending 
across a low range of hills about three or four miles, 
and cut by ravines emptying into Deer Creek. These 
hills had different names; the one I selected was known 
as Buckeye Hill. 

On the hill I met a man by the name of Savage who 
had been a fellow-passenger from Panama on the pro- 
peller Carolina, He seemed very glad to see me, and 
showed me where he had intended to locate a claim, but 
said that he had changed his mind and was going on 
the other hill across the ravine to locate. I then told 
him I would locate the claim that he suggested, and he 
remained there until I had driven a stake at each cor- 
ner, which was claimed by miners' rule, thirty feet 

He then went over on the other hill and made a loca- 
tion at the place he had described. I commenced to sink 
a shaft on my claim, and I told a young doctor, named 
Merrick, that he might go in with me if he desired, but 
he did not give me an answer that evening. 


The lead struck — I defend my rights — The first woman in camp — 
"Oh, Joe!" — Three thousand dollars for the timid female — Brisk 
matrimonial market — Ten divorces in one afternoon — Starting 
a frontier aristocracy. 

When I went back to work in the morning there was 
considerable excitement on the hill. The lead had been 
struck near my claim, and in line with it, so it was evi- 
dent that the claim was a good one. 

About eight o'clock Mr. Savage, who was a large 
man of powerful build, came to where I was at work, 
and in a rough and excited manner wanted to know what 
I was doing there. I told him I was sinking a shaft 
on the claim I had located the day before. He told me 
to leave the ground. I said to him, "You told me to 
locate here, and it's mine." I proposed to him to leave 
it to arbitration, which was the usual method of settling 
claims at that time. The plan of arbitration was for 
each claimant to select a party and the two chosen to 
select a third to hear and decide the case at once. 

"You will never arbitrate with me; you get out of 
here," he replied. 

He grabbed me by my woolen shirt, but as he jerked 
me up I put my feet against the side of the shaft, which 
was about two feet deep, and grabbed him around the 
waist and gave a tremendous spring. His back was 
toward a small ravine, about fifteen feet down, with 
quartz boulders in the bottom. He went to the bottom 
of the ravine and I on top. 

The fall made him unconscious for a short time, and 
I wound his woolen shirt about his neck and twisted it 
with my hands so that I could keep him unconscious 
or let him up at will. I then loosened my hold and he 

60 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

came to and attempted to fight. I choked him and took 
up a rock and told him he must tell the truth before 
those who were present or I would knock his brains out. 
I then let him have breath enough to speak, and stated 
to the by-standers what had occurred. Some of them 
were present the day before when I made the location, 
and verified what I said. I gave Savage ample oppor- 
tunit>' to indorse the truth of my statement and he did so 
with a hearty good will. I let him go and went back to 
work. By that time I had plenty of friends, and Dr. 
Merrick said he would accept my offer to go in with me 
and work the claim. 

Merrick and myself sunk the shaft which I had begun 
to a depth of lOO feet, when we struck a body of gravel 
under a strong formation of pipe clay about four feet 
thick, which averaged in washing out over fifty cents 
to the pan. 

Charley Fairfax, who would have been Lord Fair- 
fax if his family had remained in England, had a mule 
and cart and hauled our gravel to Deer Creek, where 
we washed it out in a sluice box, called a **long tom." 
Although he had been hauling our gravel several weeks, 
I did not become acquainted with him until one day 
when the men who were hauling gravel got their carts 
tangled up. Charley was a boyish-looking youth, and 
they appeared to combine against him. 

He showed remarkable spirit, and was willing to fight 
the whole party. I took a liking to him, and he and I 
managed to get the carts out of the way and give him 
a chance at the creek. This circumstance led to a friend- 
ship which lasted through life, and was the real cause 
of an interesting transaction which will be related 
later on. 

My partner. Dr. Merrick, was a remarkable char- 
acter. He was a graduate of Harvard College, and 
also of a medical college in Boston. After he gradu- 
ated he went to Chicago and entered upon the practice 

ReminUcences of William M. Stewart 61 

of medicine. There he fell in love with a beautiful 
woman, but her father interfered and prevented the 
marriage, and he left Chicago and went to California. 

He was gifted, brave, and handsome; but he had a 
habit of drinking too much at times, and of gambling 
on all possible occasions. There was a gambling-saloon 
in Nevada City which he frequented, and as I became 
very much attached to him I often went there and took 
him home. 

One evening as I was hunting for him I heard angry 
language in the saloon, and the dealer threatening to 
shoot him. I knew that my friend was in great danger, 
as the man who made the threats had already killed 
several men. I rushed in at the open door, and saw the 
dealer on the opposite side of the table with a six- 
shooter in his hand, and Merrick sitting on a stool on 
the side near me. I crawled on my hands and knees as 
rapidly as possible to where he was sitting, and as the 
dealer was about to fire I caught the stool and jerked 
it from under my friend, letting him down on the floor. 
The pistol ball went harmlessly over his head. I then 
took Merrick by the legs and dragged him out of the 
saloon. The by-standers were so thick that his antago- 
nist could not get an opportunity to shoot him, and as it 
was dark on the street I got him away. The next day 
Merrick and myself were eating our mid-day meal 
fifteen or twenty feet from the bushes under which we 
slept, and where we had left our fire-arms. The infuri- 
ated dealer of the night before came upon us when we 
were both unarmed, and with drawn pistol declared that 
he had come to kill Merrick. 

Merrick instantly sprang to his feet, threw open his 
flannel shirt and shouted, **Shoot, you damned cowardly 
assassin I" His antagonist dropped his pistol by his 
side, saying, **ril be damned if V\l shoot so brave a 
man. Go to Hell!" And he turned on his heel and 
went back to town. 

62 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

^^e obtained from the workings of our claim that 
summer about seven thousand dollars apiece, and I 
proposed to Merrick to buy up a number of claims in 
the ravine in front of us to work whenever water could 
be procured for that purpos^ 

He declined to do so, ana the next spring water was 
brought down and more than one million dollars was 
taken out of that ground which we could have bought 
for about eleven thousand dollars. 

Merrick left in the fall of 1850 and took a steamer 
bound for Panama, remaining for a short time in 
the beautiful harbor of Acapulco. He went ashore 
to assist in the burial of a doctor there who had died 
on his way from the East. He learned from the papers 
of the dead man where he was from, and sent home to 
his widow a full account of what had occurred, and 
a good deal more money than the effects of the dead 
doctor, which he kept, were worth. 

An American who resided in Mexico gave me a very 
interesting account of Dr. Merrick's career after he 
secured the medical outfit, and it was in harmony with 
his character. • ij 

He took the diploma of the doctor, adopted his 
name, and commenced the practice of medicine in 
Mexico. He had no difficulty in making himself 
acquainted, for he spoke the Spanish language as 
fluently as the natives. He married a rich girl and 
gambled away her money. Later he rose to be the chief 
surgeon of the Mexican Army, and was so skilful in his 
profession that the people thought he had some miracu- 
lous power. 

Dr. Merrick was taken violently ill and was con- 
scious that he would not recover, so he made a will 
which was believed to contain his medicinal secrets, 
sealed it in an envelope, and ordered the envelope to 
be sold at auction to the highest bidder and the money 
obtained given to his widow. After his death this was 

ReminUcences of William M. Stewart 63 

done and twenty thousand dollars was realized at the 
auction. When the envelope was opened and the will 
read, it was as follows: **If you want to preserve good 
health, keep your head cool and your feet warm." 

Many interesting events occurred that summer while 
Merrick and I were working our claims, one of which 
afforded us much amusement. 

I awoke one morning and saw a covered wagon, with 
two oxen which had been unyoked and were grazing 
on a grass plot near a spring in the ravine below me. 
1 soon discovered that a line had been drawn from the 
wagon to a clump of rocks, upon which were hung 
several articles of feminine attire to dry. 

Women were so scarce in California at that time 
that this was sufficient to arouse the whole camp. The 
**boys," as we were called, were scattered along the 
Coyote diggings for a distance of about four miles, 
and when anything unusual happened the words "Oh 
Joel" would be passed along the whole line. 

When I saw the feminine raiment I raised the usual 
alarm, '*Oh Joe!" and this called the attention of the 
miners on Buckeye Hill, where I was, to the clothes- 
line which had attracted my notice. They gathered 
around on the hill, nearly surrounding the covered 
wagon and its contents. 

The rush of the boys in the immediate vicinity to see 
the wonderful sight attracted those farther away, and 
in less than ten minutes two or three thousand young 
men were anxiously watching the wagon, clothes-line, 
and fascinating lingerie. 

In alarm the man that belonged to the woman inside 
stuck his head out of a small tent beside the wagon. 
I assured him that no harm was intended, but that we 
were very anxious to see the lady who was the owner 
of the clothes. 

This aroused her curiosity sufficiently to induce her 

64 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

to pull the curtain of the tent aside so that her face 
could be discovered, but not fully seen. 

I then proposed that we make a donation to the 
first lady that had honored our camp with a visit. I 
took from my camp a buck-skin bag, used for the pur- 
pose of carrying gold, and invited the boys to con- 
tribute. They came forward with great eagerness, and 
poured out of their sacks gold dust amounting to 
between t^vo and three thousand dollars. I then pro- 
posed to appoint a committee to wait on the lady and 
present it. The motion was unanimously carried, and 
one of the gentlemen appointed on the committee sug- 
gested myself as chairman. 

I took the sack of gold and went within about thirty 
feet of the tent, and made as good a speech as I could 
to induce the lady to come out, assuring her that all the 
men about her were gentlemen, that they had seen no 
ladies for so many months, and that the presence of 
one reminded them of their mothers and sweethearts 
at home. I told her the bag of gold was hers on con- 
dition that she would come out and claim it. 

Her husband urged her to be brave, but when she 
finally ventured about half way, the cheers were so 
vociferous that she was scared and ran back. 

She repeated this performance several times, and I 
kept moving slowly back far enough to get her away 
from the little tent so the boys could have a good view 
of her. I suppose half an hour was occupied with her 
running back and forth while the boys looked on in 
admiration, when I finally gave her the bag with all the 
good wishes of the camp. She grabbed it and ran into 
the tent like a rabbit. 

The next morning the wagon, oxen, man, and owner 
of the inspiring apparel were gone, and we never heard 
of them in after life. It was no doubt well that they 
hastened their departure, for in those days it was a very 
usual occurrence for the young wife coming to that 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 65 

country to be persuaded to forsake her husband on their 
arrival in the new camp. 

The immigrants of 1850 included thousands of newly 
married young people whose wedding journey included 
all the hardships and privations of crossing the plains. 
These hardships made the men look rather rough and 
scrubby, and they were all miserably poor. 

The women were young, and after they had an 
opportunity to wash their faces, looked more attractive 
— particularly to the miners who had been deprived of 
female society for many months and had accumulated 
some money. 

Such young men usually indulged in store clothes 
and spruced up. The contrast between them and the 
immigrant who had just crossed the plains was very 
marked. These young men were very anxious for ladies' 
society, and at once paid court to the young married 
women, and in a very large number of cases they were 
able to persuade the ladies that they were not fully 
appreciated at the time of their marriage, and that they 
had made a mistake in marrying beneath them. 

Usually the husband, naturally enough, became jeal- 
ous and tried to prevent the sociability which sprang 
up between his wife and the spruce young miner. Then 
there would be angry words between the husband and 
his wife's admirer, which frequently resulted in blows, 
and if the husband got the worst of it his wife would 
have no further use for him. The miner would pro- 
pose marriage if a divorce could be obtained. Extreme 
cruelty was given as the reason for the separation. The 
intended bridegroom was always a ready witness to 
swear to a case of "extreme cruelty." 

In the fall of 1851 I went to Nevada City to buy 
supplies for the men engaged in constructing the Grizzly 
Ditch. I bought several mule-loads, and was having 
them packed very early one morning, but before I could 
get away I was summoned as a juror in Judge Bar- 

06 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

ber's court. This was before I made myself exempt 
from jury duty by becoming a member of the bar. 1 
saw the Judge, and tried very hard to beg off; but he 
told me there were ten divorce cases on hand and he 
wanted to dispose of them that day, and could not 
excuse me. He said he thought I could get away in 
time to return to my camp that night. So I had to 
submit, although I did not like it. I then prepared . 
the jury-room for use by conveying to it a demijohn of 
whiskey, a bucket of water, and twelve tin dippers. 

The charge in each case was extreme cruelty, and the 
principal witness for each plaintiff — in all cases the wife 
— was her new friend who was engaged to marry her 
as soon as she could get the old love off. 

We heard the first case, and retired to the jury-room, 
where the jurors proposed to elect me foreman. We 
were all young men except one man by the name of 
Morgan who was over eighty years old. He had been 
brought over the plains from Missouri by his relatives. 
I told my fellow-jurors that I was willing to act as 
foreman provided they would agree to be guided in 
each case by the judgment of Mr. Morgan, as we were 
all too young to pass upon the question of divorce. 

They agreed to this. As foreman of the jury I 
inquired of Mr. Morgan what the verdict should be. 
He said, **I believes if they can't agrees to go together, 
lets them go apart," and I wrote the verdict as follows : 
**We, the jury, find the defendant guilty of extreme 

We returned the verdict into court, heard the next 
case, and followed the same program in the jury-room, 
continuing so to do until we had disposed of the ten 
cases. There were ten weddings that afternoon and 

I then thought, and still think, that we did the best 
thing that could have been done. These women had 
separated from their husbands, and if they had not 

ReminUcences of William M. Stewart 67 

been allowed to marry the men who had parted them 
they would perhaps have done worse. Some of them 
made good citizens and raised families, and when they 
^rew rich became very aristocratic. 


Scourge in the Diggings— Prospecting in the Sierra Nevadas — 
Grizzly Ditch — Lost in a blizzard — Ham-bone soup for starving 
men— An arrow through my hat— Indians — We wipe out Chiet 
"Big Jim's" band— A ghastly discovery— Surveying without 

In the fall of 1850 a terrible scourge visited the dig- 
gings. Cholera raged in Sacramento with a few cases 
in San Francisco. In the mountains it was not cholera, 
but black erysipelas, which soon spread to all the princi- 
pal mining regions. Several men died in the Coyote 
diggings ; not one was saved who was stricken with the 
disease. There was no doctor in the town who under- 
stood any kind of erysipelas, although two or three 
druggists had established themselves there. 

A young man named Graham, from Harvard Uni- 
versity, was a near neighbor of mine and we had been 
intimate friends for some time. Two or three of our 
immediate neighbors died, and there was nobody to 
bury them but Graham and myself. We made coffins 
of empty goods boxes, dug the graves,- and buried the 

The next morning Graham told me he had the 
erysipelas. A nail in one of the goods boxes had 
scratched his finger, and in handling the corpse he 
had been inoculated with the disease. His finger was 
swelling rapidly. 

He wrote several letters to his family and informed 
them I would attend to his affairs. The next morning 
at sunrise he was dead, and I alone buried the body 
of my friend. He had a bag of gold dust, and some 
keep-sakes which he had brought from home, all of 
which I took to the Adams Express office and sent to 
his relatives as directed. 

ReminUcences of William M. Stewart 69 

About the first of November, 1850, I left Nevada 
City with a mule to prospect for mines. I followed the 
north fork of the American River to the head, and 
found nothing worth working because I was above the 
mineralized belt of country from which gold was 
obtained. I passed over the Sierra Nevada Mountains 
and down the eastern slope to Lake Tahoe, a magnifi- 
cent body of mountain water, at that time, so far as 
I know, without a name. 

I followed around the margin of the lake with some 
difficulty until I reached the Truckee River which was 
its outlet, then went down the river prospecting for 
gold without success until I reached the valley where 
Reno is now located. I then turned back and followed 
Donner's trail, which was then known as the Truckee 

When I came to where the Donner party perished I 
found the log cabins which they had constructed a year 
and a half previous still in a state of remarkable 
preservation, although they had been built on the snow 
fifteen or twenty feet above the ground, as shown by 
the stumps of trees which they cut off. The cabins had 
settled, as the snow melted, to firm ground. I passed 
over the Truckee route and went down the ridge 
between Bear River and South Yuba. When I got 
within about twenty miles of Nevada City I turned 
down to a mining camp on the river called Washing- 
ton, which was at the junction of the South Yuba and 
Poor Man's Creek. I followed Poor Man's Creek ten 
or twelve miles, and there I met a little bald-headed 
man by the name of Allen, a nephew of Ethan Allen 
of Revolutionary fame. 

I had parted with my mule at Washington and was 
on foot when I met Allen, so we went up the creek 
together to its source and discovered placer diggings 
of considerable extent and richness which I named 
"Eureka." I then went to Nevada City, and selecting a 

70 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

party of three besides myself we started out with our 
provisions and supplies on our backs for the new 

Snow began to fall, and before wc reached the mines 
was about two feet deep, which made the trip very 
difficult and laborious as we were loaded with about a 
hundred pounds apiece. I was compelled to lead the 
way and break the trail. 

Finally reaching our destination, we constructed a 
cabin of logs and went to work in the diggings. It 
was difficult to get water to wash the gravel on account 
of the deep snow over the little stream ; but we worked 
on for about two months and a half, when the snow 
became very deep and it was still storming. Our 
matches were wet, and we lost our fire and were com- 
pelled to subsist on raw pork and raw flour with a few 
acid pickles that came very near destroying our teeth. 

One of the party, Tinney, proposed to go with me to 
obtain relief, the other two remaining in camp. The 
first afternoon we reached the ridge between Poor 
Man's Creek and Middle Yuba, where we cut off some 
branches for a bed and retired for the night. In the 
morning the new snow over us was from eighteen 
inches to two feet deep, and when we arose we saw an 
uncanny path circling around where we slept, about 
sixty or seventy feet across. 

We thought it best to leave that locality and started 
down the ridge. We had not gone fifty yards when we 
saw a California lion, the author of the encircling path, 
in full pursuit of a deer. The deer dashed down the 
mountain with tremendous jumps; the lion after it. The 
race continued down the mountain for a mile or two, 
the deer thwarting the lion by side jumps until they 
passed out of sight, and we did not learn the result of 
the chase. We then proceeded down the ridge between 
the south and middle Yubas, with the intention of cross- 
ing the South Yuba at the Illinois Bar, opposite, and 
about ten miles from Nevada City. 

Reminiscences of WilUam M. Stewart 71 

The trail from the ridge was covered deep with snow 
and we reached the river just after dark, about half a 
mile below the bar. Tinncy was so much exhausted 
when we reached the river that he lay down and said 
he must have rest. I knew if he were allowed to lie 
there he would inevitably go to sleep, and that that 
would be sure death, so I told him I would not leave 
him in that condition, but would kill him to get him 
out of his misery. This roused him, and he followed 
me until we could see the light of the camp on the bar. 
I then left him and went to the camp, where I found 
two men, and they went out and brought him in. 

We laid him down before the fire, and rubbed and 
warmed him until he recovered. I then told them that 
we were very hungry and asked them if they had any- 
thing to eat. They said they were entirely out of pro- 
visions and that two of their party had left early that 
morning to go to Nevada City to get some supplies. 
I saw a large ham bone lying in the corner which had 
been scraped pretty bare. I took a kettle, filled it with 
water and put it on the fire. They wanted to know 
what I was going to do, and I told them I was going to 
make some soup. 

While the water was boiling I broke the ham bone 
with an ax and put it into the pot and let it cook 
fifteen or twenty minutes. All of them were surprised 
to find how good the soup was. We drank all of it and 
lay down before the fire and slept well until morning. 

Tinney and I started at daylight and reached Nevada 
City about ten o'clock. I had lived on salt pork and 
flour so long that I was in the incipient stages of 
scurvy, so I went at once to the grocery store of Gallop 
& Bashford, friends of mine from Wayne County, 
N. Y. There was a large basket of magnificent onions 
on the end of the counter, and I ate onion after onion, 
to the astonishment of the people who had gathered 
around. When I could eat no more I crossed the street 

72 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

to Turner's Hotel and asked for a room. I imme- 
diately went to bed and slept until the next morning, 
and then went back to the grocery store and ate more 
onions. I ate nothing but onions that day, and the 
next day I was quite well and had an appetite for 
ordinary food. I never could tell how good those 
onions tasted. 

There were no hogs in Nevada City, so I got a man 
to go with me to San Jose. We bought two hundred 
hogs, which we put on the boat and brought to Sacra- 
mento. We hired some Mexicans to help us, and made 
three thousand dollars selling the animals. 

I then formed a company to dig a ditch, known as 
the Grizzly Ditch, between the south and middle Yuba 
to bring water into the Cherokee Corral, where there 
were some good diggings, but no water. I went up to 
Bloody Run and Grizzly Canyon on the north side of 
a very high mountain to look over the ditch route. 

There was a trail from the ridge to Kanaka Creek 
where there was some rich mining. The trail crossed 
Bloody Run a short distance above a cascade. I heard 
the cascade below the trail and had a desire to see it, 
so I undertook to ride through the brush around a small 
hill to get a view from below. 

I was riding a very good mule, bred from a fine 
mare and raised in Kentucky for the Santa Fe trade. 
She was one of the best riding-mules in the world, and 
had been brought up to Sacramento with the idea that 
she could be sold for at least $2,500, but when attempt 
was made to sell her and a Mexican bit was put in her 
mouth and a Mexican saddle on her back, she fought 
so fiercely that nothing could be done with her. 

The owner said he would take any bid, and I offered 
him three hundred dollars, but on condition he get 
everything off her. He took off the rig and I gave him 
the three hundred dollars. 

I waited a little while, took a plain American saddle 

Reminbcences of William M. Stewart 73 

and common bit and laid them down, took some sugar 
and gave it to her, and then put the saddle on her and 
rode her about the town. She was marvelous. I could 
ride her any distance in a day. 

My desire for a better view of the cascade came 
very near proving disastrous, for when I got fairly in 
the brush, six Indians came up on the ridge, gave a 
whoop, and fired their arrows at me, which made my 
mule jump forward. I thought I could get around on 
the other side of the hill and regain the trail before the 
Indians could head me off, but in this I was disap- 

Another party of Indians were in the brush on the 
other side of the hill. They gave a war-whoop and my 
mule turned, and I let her go as she pleased through 
the brush. The Indians fired their arrows at me, one 
of them striking the top of my hat and taking it off. 

The mule made good time through the brush, and 
ran right into an Indian camp, where there were several 
hundred Indians, braves, squaws, and papooses. The 
mule ran so fast and her appearance was so unexpected 
that they did not have time to molest me, so I got 
through the camp and rode up to the trail again. 

My hat was gone, my clothes were torn, and I was 
rather a dilapidated specimen of humanity. I rode 
down the ridge about six miles and finally came to the 
camp of Tom Burns, an Irishman, who was establish- 
ing a wayside whiskey shop. I told him my story, but 
found him very suspicious. He thought from my 
appearance that I must be crazy. I succeeded in con- 
vincing him that I was sane, borrowed his rifle, because 
I did not want to rely on my pistol alone, and an old 
black hat nearly destitute of rim and open at the top. 
On riding back to the Indian camp I found the body of 
a Frenchman whom the Indians had murdered the day 
before, and I thought we had better clean those red- 
skins out. 

74 Reminiscences of William M* Stewart 

After riding around on all the prominent points 
above the camp to examine the situation and get the 
lay of the land for future operations, I went over to 
Nevada City and collected twenty young men of my 
acquaintance. They were well armed with pistols, 
rifles, and shotguns, and accompanied me back to the 
camp of Tom Burns, where we spent the night. In the 
morning we rode up the ridge and looked the ground 
over again. It was a little past the full of the moon, 
so the after part of the night was almost as light as day. 

The following night we rode up the mountain oppo- 
site the camp of the Indians, hitched our animals, and 
crawled around the camp, remaining quiet until day- 
light, when I gave the signal for operations by firing 
a gun. 

The Indians sprang to their feet at the alarm, but 
we won the battle before they knew where the enemy 
was located. Big Jim, their chief, was not injured and 
we took him prisoner. He was well known to all of 
our party, spoke English perfectly well, and was sup- 
posed to be a good, friendly Indian. He had visited 
the mining camps, conversed with the miners, told them 
stories about the country, and was a most interesting 

We made a treaty with him that the Indians should 
leave that part of the country and never return. After 
the treaty was concluded and we supposed the difficulty 
was all over, we observed Big Jim with a party of his 
followers fortifying themselves behind rocks and brush. 
We moved on their works before they were perfected, 
but they fired several shots and slightly wounded one of 
our men. We hanged Big Jim for his treachery. The 
Indians then left and did not return. 

One day a short time later, while I was surveying 
the upper part of Grizzly Ditch, near where the trail 
crossed Bloody Run, I found eight skeletons in the 
brush, of persons who had been murdered by the 

ReminiBcences of William M. Stewart 75 

Indians on the trail between the summit of the moun- 
tains and Kanaka Creek. I do not know who the vic- 
tims of this massacre were. 

I had no instruments to survey the ditch between 
Bloody Run and Grizzly Canyon, the plan being to 
turn Bloody Run into Grizzly Canyon, so I made a 
triangle of two strips of board, with a cross piece about 
two feet from the ground. I drove a nail in the cross 
piece, cut off the ends in the legs of the triangle so that 
the line of the plumb bob would be opposite the nail 
on the cross piece when one leg of the triangle was half 
an inch higher than the other, and with this I surveyed 
the ditch around a rough mountain, a distance of ten 
miles. The water ran through it without a break when 
first turned in, and when I visited that locality a few 
years ago I found the ditch still in use for mining 

After the water passed through Cherokee Corral we 
turned it into Shady Creek and attempted to take the 
same amount of water out again and convey it to 
another mining camp. A ditch had been taken out 
below, and the ditch owners brought suit. 

We contended that we had a right to use the natural 
water channel and take out as much water as we put in, 
but the court denied us that right. Afterward, in con- 
nection with Judge Sanderson and others, I brought the 
question before the Supreme Court of California, and 
obtained the decision that a natural water course could 
be used; that is to say, water could be turned into the 
channel, and lower down the same quantity could be 
turned out; and such is the law of California to-day. 

We constructed a sawmill on Cherokee Creek in con- 
nection with the Grizzly Ditch, and it was quite 


I begin the practice of law — Appointed District Attorncy-j-A fight 
in the court-room — I polish my legal knowledge in jail — ^The 
heathen Chinee — I meet an obstacle in a murder case. 

^In the spring of 1852, having closed my business in 
connection with the Grizzly Ditch and the sawmill, I 
entered the office of J. R. McConnell at Nevada City 
to study law^ I had read some law at odd times in 
the office of Xlr. Sherwood before I left Lyons, N. Y. 

When Mr. McConnell resigned the district attorney- 
ship in November of that year, I was admitted to the 
bar and appointed to fill the vacancy on the same day. 
Upon entering that office I found a large amount of 
business to attend to. Th? grand jury met the follow- 
ing week and investigated many matters, finding some 
eight or ten indictments for various offenses, including 
murder, arson, embezzlement, etc. I managed to draw 
the indictments and make them all stand, but in doing 
so I followed very closely Chitty's form of pleading. 

When the various criminal cases on the calendar, 
including those recently indicted, came up for hearing, 
nearly all of the members of the bar were pitted against 

The most formidable adversary I had was James 
Churchman, of Illinois, who had practiced at the bar 
with Abraham Lincoln, General Baker, and others, in 
the early days of that State. Unfortunately for me, 
my predecessor and Mr. Churchman were rivals and 
enemies. Both were able, rather vindictive, and very 
sarcastic. As I had been in Mr. McConnell's office 
and had taken his place as District Attorney, Mr. 
Churchman transferred his antagonism from Mr. 
McConnell to me. Realizing this, I tried the less 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 77 

important cases first. Never having practiced law, I 
was unfamiliar with the technicalities, although I was 
able to study the general principles of every case. 

Mr. Churchman took advantage of this and made it 
very hard for me. On several occasions he got me in a 
corner, and I resorted to the only means available to ex- 
tricate myself. I retorted to his sarcasm in very harsh 
language. In fact, I was as insulting as I possibly could 
be in a court of justice, whereupon he became enraged — 
as I desired — and called me a liar, which gave me an 
opportunity to have a personal encounter with him. 

The court, in dealing with the matter, ordered my 
imprisonment until the next day and imposed a small 
fine, which I paid. I went to prison, a retreat I desired 
under the circumstances. The sheriff, William H. Endi- 
cott, was a friend of mine, ready to do anything he 
could to assist me. 

The jail consisted of a long log building with a 
number of cells, but in the front, which faced my office, 
there were two rooms, the first being the sheriff's office 
and the second his sleeping apartment. Instead of put- 
ting me in a cell he placed me in his bedroom, brought 
over my books, and gave me an opportunity to study the 
questions which had involved me in the difficulty. He 
provided me with good meals and made me very com- 
fortable until the next morning, when I went into 
court well prepared to meet my adversary and succeed 
with my case. 

It required three performances of this kind to make 
me sufficiently familiar with the practice of law to take 
care of myself. Churchman constantly grew more 
cautious in giving me an opportunity to exhibit my 
physical strength and thus enable me to extricate myself 
from legal difficulties. 

During my first term as District Attorney a man 
named John Hall was convicted of murder in the first 
degree for killing a Chinaman. The only witnesses to 

78 ReminUcences of William M. Stewart 

the crime were six Chinamen, who testified to his guilt 
before the grand jury, and he was indicted on their 
testimony. There was at that time great prejudice 
against Chinese testimony. The State imposed a foreign 
miner's tax and collected it from Chinamen only. It 
was collected by roughs in a most brutal way, and the 
Chinamen, looking upon it as robbery, did all they could 
to conceal their money. 

Chinamen had been allowed, however, to make 
their statements in mining cases and other litigation. I 
observed that they all told the same story. I applied 
to the board of supervisors for an allowance of $5,000 
in that trial. I told them I did not know what oath 
would bind the Chinese, and I did not want a man 
convicted on false testimony. I wanted to get a 
separate room for each of the witnesses and to have 
them held, unable to communicate with each other until 
after the trial. I also wanted to procure a competent 
interpreter. The supervisors made the appropriation. 

I went to San Francisco and saw Rev. Doctor Speer, 
a Chinese missionary who had spent some twenty years 
in China. After some persuasion I employed him to 
go to Nevada City as interpreter. Before the trial I 
tried very hard to get him to tell me what form of oath 
was binding upon a Chinaman, but he was quite reserved 
about the matter, although a very conscientious man. 
I told him that I had heard it stated that cutting off 
a chicken's head or burning paper, or something of that 
kind, would **swear" a Chinaman. **Well," said he, 
**burning paper is just as good as anything." 

At the trial every Chinaman told the same story, 
although the interpreter tried to vary it a little. I 
asked him if they all told the same story, and he said 
they did, which was a mysterj' to me. I had not the 
slightest doubt that Hall killed the Chinaman, because 
he was seen coming from their camp where the dead 
body was found. 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 70 

Hall was convicted, and his friends employed Mr. 
McConnell to take an appeal to the Supreme Court 
of the State. No exceptions had been taken during 
the trial, and by the statute nothing could be considered 
by the Supreme Court unless exceptions had been taken 
in the court below. I supposed of course that the court 
would have to dismiss the case. Mr. McConnell made 
a short speech in the opening, saying that Chinese testi- 
mony was inadmissible; that the matter came under the 
statute which provided that the testimony of an Indian 
should not be taken against a white man. He said 
Chinese were the same as Indians and that the statute 

I replied to him that no exception had been taken, 
and that even if an Indian had testified the statute 
would not apply. Of course, I contended that they 
were not Indians, but belonged to the Chinese race. 
In his conclusion Mr. McConnell made a very elaborate 
argument, attempting to prove that the Chinese and 
Indians were of the same race, and to my surprise the 
court held that the statute prohibiting Indians from tes- 
tifying applied to Chinamen,* they being of the same 
race, and reversed the judgment below. Justice Mur- 
ray, in deciding the case, delivered a lengthy opinion, 
sustaining the position assumed by Mr. McConnell. I 
had no other evidence and entered a nolle pros in the 

While attending the Supreme Court, which was held 
at San Jose, I stopped in San Francisco, and Rev. 
Doctor Speer called on me and said there were two 
Chinamen of the higher class or nobility in town, being 
entertained by the Six Chinese Companies, who united 
to do them honor, and they were anxious for me to 
meet them at dinner. I accepted the invitation; but 
before doing so, and during the conversation with Doc- 

* People vs. Hall, 4th California, page 399. 

80 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

tor Speer, I asked him ll)-^plai|uraore fully to me why 
he had been so reticent in regard to the oath that would 
bind a Chinaman. This was before the decision had 
been rendered in the case by the Supreme Court. 

He said he did not want to state it publicly, as it 
would be prejudicial to the Chinese in this country; but 
that in China, where he had been a privileged char- 
acter, traveling all oVer the ((buntjni ^d visiting the 
jails and courts of justice, when a cnmewas committed 
the principal men of the community were at once 
arrested and torture applied to make them tell the truth 
in regard to the matter; and to avoid the torture they 
invariably agreed upon a story they would all tell. 

At the dinner only four persons were seated, the two 
distinguished Chinese visitors. Doctor Speer, and 
myself. The heads of the Six Companies, dressed in 
silks, waited on the table. The two visiting Chinamen 
were very accomplished men. They were graduates of 
numerous European universities, spoke several lan- 
guages, had examined our institutions, and appeared 
quite familiar with our form of government. In the 
course of the conversation I remarked to them that I 
was sorry to see the prejudice that existed between the 
races, and that I hoped on better acquaintance there 
would be more friendly relations. The leading man 
of the two, who did most of the talking, said: 

**You are mistaken. There never can be friendly 
social intercourse between the Chinese and the Ameri- 
can people. There may be among the higher classes 
who understand the situation, but not among the com- 
mon people." 

I asked why, and if it were on account of color. 

He replied in the negative, and said it was on account 
of religion. The Chinese, he added, were very strongly 
wedded to their religion and to their gods, and had no 
faith in our religion or our God. He said the principal 
argument they used was that our American God was 

ReminUcences of William M. Stewart 81 

killed by a man, and therefore could not amount to 
much. He said we could not overcome this preju- 
dice with the masses very soon, and perhaps never. 
**Although," he added, **we who have been educated 
understand your religion and respect it." 

<' v^ 


Fight over a mining claim — An outcast from camp — I prevent a mob 
from lynching an innocent man — Nominated for District Attorney 
— Elected — Hot politics and a bloody battle — Heroes with the 

The miners made their own laws and enforced them. 
Their rules and regulations provided for the location 
of claims, the size of them, and the amount of work 
necessary to hold possession. Each mining camp or 
district made its own independent laws; but the laws 
of the various districts were similar, so that a miner 
going from one district to another would readily under- 
stand them. 

On one occasion, in 1850, I was chosen as umpire 
to decide the case of a man who had intruded upon 
another's claim with a small tent. The testimony 
showed that the original owner had complied with the 
regulations and was entitled to the claim, and that the 
man who put up the tent was an intruder. I so decided, 
and with my pick on my shoulder walked back to the 
claim with the party whom we held to be the rightful 
owner, to put him in possession. 

The man who lost the case ran to his tent, and as we 
came up to the claim he rushed to the opening with a 
pistol, and fired it. I foresaw his purpose, and threw 
my pick and hit his hand so that the bullet went past 
me without doing any harm. Then the boys were intent 
upon hanging him for it. I interfered in his behalf, 
but had a very difficult time to save him. 

Finally they agreed to let him go, on condition that 
he would leave in ten minutes and never come back to 
camp. He was very much relieved, and said that five 
minutes were more than he needed to get started. 

One day in the spring of 1852 I was prospecting 

ReminUcences of William M. Stewart 83 

in the vicinity of a mining town called Rough and 
Ready about ten miles from Nevada City. I rode a 
mule, and had a pair of navy revolvers in holsters at 
was customary in those days. I did not expect to use 
them, but It was always considered convenient to have 

As I rode up to a watering-trough in the town to 
water my mule, a small man, equipped as I was with 
pistols, rode up to water his mule. As our steeds were 
drinking I observed a company of men, fifty or more, 
leading a fine-looking man, six feet tall and stripped 
of all clothing except his pantaloons, evidently for the 
purpose of whipping him, as one of the party carried 
a huge horsewhip. The little stranger turned to me and 

'*That is wrong. Dare you stop it?" 

"With you, I dare,'' I replied, and drew out my pis- 
tol, while he did the same. I cried out at the top of 
my voice : 

**Stop; you have got the wrong manl" 

As I called out they were about to pass under a build- 
ing that had no roof, but with some boards on the 
upper floor, and a ladder leading up to it. I called to 
them to put the prisoner up that ladder and appoint a 
committee. Mobs will usually act when the word of 
command is given. They put him up and named me 
as first man on the committee. I climbed up to the 
man on the boards and asked him who he was. He said 
his name was Owens. 

"Where did you come from?" 

"From Sonoma Valley." 

"What did you come here for?" 

"To go into the sawmill business." 

"Who is connected with you in Sonoma Valley?" 

"A man by the name of Taylor." 

"What are you accused of?" 

"Of stealing three hundred dollars in Mexican 

84 Remimscences of William M. Stewart 

**Did you steal them?'' 


"Where did you get them ?" 

"I got them at Burgoync's Bank in San Francisco, 
where my partner and myself did business." 

"Why are you accused of stealing them?" 

"I slept last night in the corral up there, and as I 
was getting up this morning the sack containing the 
money rolled out from under my head, where I had 
kept it during the night. The man who accuses me 
claims it is his money, and that I stole it." 

"Where is the money?" 

"The men who arrested me have it." 

"Have you any letters or papers?" 

"Yes, in my coat pocket." 

I searched the victim's coat, and the letters explained 
the whole thing straight. Just at that moment I saw 
a man on a mule galloping down the street as fast as 
he could. I cried: 

"There's your man! Get him!" 

The mob started after him, but he jumped over a 
steep bank into the Yuba River, which was a raging 
torrent, and was drowned. 

I continued the practice of law in mining an^all 
sorts of cases, and at once gained a good business. /The 
rules and regulations of miners I understood asNwell 
as anybody in the country, and better than any lawyers 
who had not had actual experience in mining and mak- 
ing rules and regulations for the miners, which gave 
me great advantage before juries. The next summer 
I ran for District Attorney on the Democratic ticket. 
Mr. McConnell ran for Attomey-Generaly 

Two days before the County Convention met to 
nominate local candidates and delegates to the State 
Convention, Mr. McConnell said to me that he had 
been offered a fee of three hundred dollars if he would 
go over to Cherokee Corral, about twelve or fifteen 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 85 

miles from Nevada City, to defend a party of men who 
had whipped some negroes. 

He said they had been arrested by E. Estes Hill, a 
peculiar character, who was constable for the township 
of Nevada, and would be tried before Jerry Woods, 
the justice of the peace of the township at Cherokee 
Corral. He wanted me to accompany him and show 
him the way as he had never been over there. Also, 
he could not very well go unless I would go over and 
prosecute the parties as District Attorney. He said his 
clients would be better satisfied to pay him a fee if 
somebody was there to prosecute them. 

We rode over the morning before the convention 
met, and found that Estes Hill had eight or ten men 
in charge. Mr. McConnell moved to discharge the 
prisoners on the ground that Hill was not an officer of 
the township where the arrest was made. He made a 
very vigorous and convincing argument, and then 
stepped outside. 

In his absence Jerry Wood, who had been in my 
employ on the Grizzly Ditch, and thought I knew all 
about law, asked me what I was going to do about it. 
I told him if he let the prisoners go he would be per- 
sonally responsible. 

Mr. McConnell asked me if I intended to argue the 
case. I told him no, I would submit it without argu- 
ment. He then renewed his argument, and spoke with 
great earnestness. When he concluded Jerry looked 
him full in the face and said: 

"Mr. McConnell, I can't let the prisoners go. I 
would be personally responsible." 

Before I left I called Jerry aside and told him that 
after we were gone he could let the prisoners go on their 
promise that they would come back when wanted. We 
returned to Nevada City a little after sundown. There 
were many delegates in town awaiting the convention 
the next day. Harry Harrington had a very long 

86 Reminucences of William M. Stewart 

saloon where the Democrats usually made their head- 
quarters during convention time. We went into the 
saloon, and some enthusiastic delegate insisted upon 
treating everybody. A crowd of a hundred or more 
lined up along the bar, and while the bartenders were 
shoving out the drinks I told the Jerry Wood incident 
as a joke on McConnell. He flew into a violent rage, 
and sprang for me to wreak his revenge. I gave the 
wink to some delegates near by, and we took McCon- 
nell in custody and locked him up for the night, for 
fear he would ruin his political chances if he insisted 
upon whipping me. 

The next day the convention nominated me for Dis- 
trict Attorney by acclamation, named delegates to the 
State Convention, and passed a strong resolution in 
favor of the nomination of McConnell for Attorney- 

I moved that a committee be appointed to wait upon 
Mr. McConnell, present the resolution, and inform him 
of the harmonious action of the convention. Before 
letting him out we unlocked his door and passed in the 
resolution, and inquired of him how he felt. He said 
he did not feel as much like fighting as he had felt the 
night before, and if we would let him out he would say 
no more about it. 

The campaign which resulted in the election of Mr. 
McConnell for Attorney-General and myself for Dis- 
trict Attorney of Nevada County was very exciting, as 
all political campaigns were in those days. The voters 
were nearly all young men full of life and vigor, with 
plenty of money from the mines, and they threw fire- 
works into politics. 

The leading politicians of the State, both Whigs and 
Democrats, visited the principal settlements in the coun- 
ties and held rousing meetings. One lively incident 
occurred at Sweetland's Hotel, a place subsequently 
known as San Juan. An extensively advertised ball was 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 87 

given at the hotel, and the young people for twenty 
or thirty miles around attended. Many of the local 
candidates were there. I arrived about sundown, and 
a few minutes afterward a party of candidates from 
Yuba County appeared. 

Among them were Charley Fairfax, my old friend 
who hauled gravel from our mine in 1850 on Coyote 
Hill, who was running for clerk of the Supreme Court 
of the State; McDuffey from South Carolina, who 
afterward lost his life in the Confederate Army, a 
candidate for State Senator of Yuba County, and Mike 
Gray, who was then sheriff of Yuba County, and run- 
ning for reelection. 

They told me that they had had a difficulty on the 
river bar below with a large party of mining men, who 
were following them for revenge. 

We had entered a small saloon, and in less than five 
minutes between fifteen and twenty angry men were 
heard inquiring for the gentlemen from Yuba. 

I attempted to close the door, but six or eight men 
forced it. The sudden meeting made a fight inevitable. 
I took sides with my Yuba friends, principally on 
account of my affection for young Fairfax. It was a 
fierce battle for a short time, but Mike Gray won the 
day for us. He did not shoot, but using a heavy Colt's 
revolver as a club, he knocked the enemy down right and 
left. McDuffey was also a very efficient fighter with his 
revolver as a club. 

Little Charley Fairfax was so small that he was 
actually thrown on the backs of the belligerents, and 
tossed about like a feather. The miners fired several 
shots, but the skirmish was too lively for them to take 
aim, and the bullets went through the thin board walls 
without having hit any one. 

The fight lasted only a few minutes. I was unable 
to judge of time under the circumstances, because I was 
kept too busy for much reflection. So many of the 

88 Reminiftcences of William M. Stewart 

enemy were felled by the clubs that an armistice soon 
took place by the tacit consent of all parties. Several 
of the attackers were so badly cut about the head that 
the services of a doctor were demanded. 

I gave a Mexican boy a note to a doctor ten or twelve 
miles away, put him on my mule, and told him to go 
quickly, I would risk the mule. There was a store- 
house near the hotel, and we took such bedding as we 
could get from the hotel and moved the wounded to 
the storehouse, which became an improvised hospital. 

McDuffey, Fairfax, and myself then repaired to the 
ball-room, Mike Gray agreeing to manage the nursing 
of the wounded. 

We found the ladies entirely ready to dance with us. 
They had heard of the fight, and appeared to regard 
us as the heroes of the occasion. The other parties did 
not put in their appearance, but when morning came 
and the dance was over the Yuba boys and I made the 
acquaintance of the belligerents of the night before. 

McDuffey made one of the handsomest apologies 
I ever heard for what had occurred down on the bar, 
and the whole matter was settled and we became the 
best of friends through life. 

Fairfax was indeed a loyal little gentleman. He was 
elected clerk of the Supreme Court, and while holding 
that office got into some difficulty with a lawyer named 
Lee, as I now recollect. Lee ran a sword-cane through 
the body of Fairfax, and before the sword had been 
withdrawn, Fairfax with a cocked pistol in his hand 
cried, "You assassin! I will spare your life for your 
wife and family." Although Fairfax recovered, it was 
said that he never got over the wound, and that it 
shortened his days. 

The difficulty at Sweetlands was not unpopular with 
the voters, for I received nearly all the votes in the town- 
ship where the ball was held. 


Dueling in 1852— Southerners and "mackerel catchers" — ^The sleepy 
miner and the fire-eater who would not fight — I start a newspaper 
in opposition to Aaron A. Sargent. 

When I began the study of law with Mr. McCon- 
nell I had some money which I had saved so that I 
could be useful to my friends. Mr. McConnell was a 
Kentuckian by birth and the Southern boys were in the ^ 

habit of making his office their headquarters. ^I at ^'8^^--' 
once fell heir to the Democratic politics of the cohnty. 
Nevada was a rich mining county with a population of 
twenty or thirty thousand, and of course the political 
situation was a little breezy. 

Aaron A. Sargent, afterward Senator, was a printer 
boy from Boston. The locality from which he came 
emphasized him as a Yankee. Although I was from 
the North, the Southern boys refused to recognize me 
as such, and against my protest continually claimed me 
as one of their kind. Besides, Sargent was a Whig and 
I was a Democrat, made so contrary to the traditions 
of my family, who were Federalists, by the admiration 
I felt when a child for the heroic stories told of General 
Jackson; in other words, I was a Jackson man, and 
hence a Democrat. 

After I had been appointed District Attorney it was 
thought expedient for the Democrats to have a news- 
paper. Sargent was the editor of the Nevada Journal, 
which was a Whig paper, and a very lively one at that, 
because Sargent was not only talented but absolutely 
fearless^ He would say what he thought of anything 
attd anybody. 

Vj^ bought a press which l^d been brought to town to 
start the Democratic paperyand placed it in charge of 

90 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

Robert Davidge, commonly called **Bob" Davidge. At 
that time dueling was very common throughout Cali- 
fornia, generally between the Northern and Southern 
men. The Northern men were unaccustomed to the 
practice of dueling, and they had been taught at home 
that it was all wrong; consequently they were not experts 
at the business. They were as ignorant of the code as 
an Episcopalian minister of the High Church of Eng- 
land is of three-card monte, the strap game, bull-fight- 
ing, and the like. But, nevertheless, they engaged in 
duels, and the fairness would of course depend upon 
the impartiality of the seconds and managers of the 
affair. I did not want to meet a premature death or 
have my life jockeyed away under rules with which 
I was not familiar. 

Although the Southern boys were my friends, I was 
very much opposed to the machinery of dueling. I 
finally told them that I was against it and would not 
fight a duel under any circumstances. They were very 
much astonished at that, because I was a remarkably 
good shot and they thought T was capable of doing well 
in a duel. 

They asked me what I would do if challenged. I 
told them that I had come to the conclusion that I 
would begin early if a fight was on hand, and that I 
would shoot the man who brought the challenge, so 
that if anybody sent a challenge T would advise the 
second to come prepared, and if he was not very quick 
he had better make his will, for I would be ready 
to shoot. They finally concluded that T did mean it 
and T never was challenged. 

Bob Davidge was from Kentucky. He was young, 
bright, and handsome, and discussed dueling in a most 
graphic manner. I told him when we started in with 
the paper to abuse nobody, to get into no controversy 
with the Nevada Journal. I said that I regarded Sar- 
gent as about the most dangerous man in town to fool 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 91 

with, and although the Southern boys were inclined to 
call him a **mackerel catcher," a term applied to New 
Englanders generally, that he had better be careful how 
he treated him. 

Bob went along with his paper very smoothly for a 
month or so, but in the winter material for newspaper 
sensations became a little scarce and he began abusing 

Sargent retorted sharply, but gentlemanly. Davidge 
took the genteel treatment for cowardice, and increased 
his abusive epithets. Finally Sargent wrote about him 
the most terrifically abusive article I ever read. It was 
personal, and of such a character that, if true, it would 
have excluded Davidge from decent society, particularly 
the society of ladies. 

The flood had carried away the bridge over Deer 
Creek, which crossed Main Street about one hundred 
and fifty yards below my office, and a big pine tree had 
been felled across the creek and poles put up on either 
side of it for a foot passage. The post-office was on 
the other side of the creek and Bob Davidge slept in 
the post-office. I read the article in the morning, and 
as I stepped into the street I looked down and saw 
Sargent and Davidge pass each other on the foot-log. 
They could not pass without touching, and had to 
squeeze by each other; but Davidge made no effort to 
attack SariJ;ent, which I thought was a mark of great 

Few men could have met a man who had written such 
an article and not have resented the insult, particularly 
if the passageway where they met was so narrow as to 
compel them to crowd each other in passing. 

Davidge came up to my oflSce and I asked him if he 
had read the article. He said he had. T turned on my 
heel and left him. About half an hour afterward he 
came to my office with a gentleman from Kentucky by 
the name of Cy Brown, a gallant fellow, not quarrel- 

92 Reminiftcences of William M. Stewart 

some, but fearless. Brown said that he had come with 
Davidge to talk with me; that I had been very kind 
to Davidge and that he understood that I was very 
much opposed to dueling. They had come to ask me 
to waive my abjections now, as Davidge had been so 
grossly insulted that he could not live in the country 
under such charges. 

I called Brown into another room and told him of 
the meeting I had seen between Sargent and Davidge 
on the foot-log, and also told him that in case of a 
challenge he would have the fighting to do as Davidge 
would fail. I said: 

"All I want to ask of you is that you won't take it 
up if Bob fails; that you will simply take the challenge 
and make the arrangements with Sargent, and have it 
distinctly understood that you are not to fight." 

Brown saw the propriety of my advice and said he 
would keep it. We went back into the office, and 
Brown told Davidge that I had changed my mind on 
dueling and advised him to challenge Sargent. He 
sent the challenge to Sargent and Sargent refused to 
accept it, published it, and then printed another and 
a meaner article than before on Davidge. He stated 
that he lived at Coyoteville, about a mile from town, 
and that he would pass on his way from there to town 
across a narrow ridge at 7.30 in the morning every day 
for thirty days, and if anybody interfered with him 
whom he couldn't put out of his way it would be his 
misfortune. We tried for the thirty days to make 
Davidge go to the ridge and get in his way, but he 
would not do it, and left town and did not come back 
any more. 

Another incident occurred the following year at the 
fall election. I was still practicing law at Nevada 
City, and the Southern boys still made my office their 

There was a young man among them to whom I was 

ReminUcences of William M. Stewart 93 

very much attached. His name was William Windom 
Mason, a nephew of John Y. Mason of Virginia. He 
was a tall, splendid-looking fellow, but with very little 
practical ability. He lived by acting as deputy sheriff, 
collecting foreign miners' licenses from Chinese and the 
like, but he was always a good fellow. He ran for 
some small office, constable I think, and was beaten 
badly. He attributed his defeat to a man by the name 
of Gardner, from Rhode Island. Gardner was a man 
of pretty good sense and had commenced the practice 
of law. He did not appear to have much animation, 
was entirely inoffensive, but he had on this particular 
occasion taken a strong affirmative stand against 
Mason's election, and it had been very effective. 

When the votes were counted Mason came into my 
office and told me he was going to cowhide Gardner. 

"Never strike a sleepy-looking fellow like that," I 
said. "If you do you will get into trouble. He has 
not done anything to you, and the people will not 
justify you, and you will get the worst of it. You had 
better know whom you are fighting. I would not tackle 
him myself until I knew something about him. Nobody 
knows what to expect from him." 

Contrary to my advice, he met Gardner in a saloon, 
and with a pistol in one hand and a whip in the other, 
began using the lash over his head. Gardner took 
the whipping, saying, "I am unarmed and observe you 
are armed; but I will see you again, mind that." 

The next morning a report came that Gardner, with 
pistol in hand, was about the city stating that he was 
looking for one William Windom Mason; that his 
object in looking for him was to settle a little difficulty 
that commenced the evening before. Mason took his 
pistol and went out of my office into the street. I sup- 
posed he was going to meet Gardner and have a fight. 
Instead of that he ran between two buildings about two 
feet apart on the opposite side of the street, and as 

94 Reminiftcences of William M. Stewart 

Gardner came along he fired and then dodged between 
the buildings again. 

Gardner stood his ground, and fired at Mason. At 
first every time he shot he hit the edge of the building, 
but finally hit Mason in the leg and the latter fell down. 
The boys, without regard to locality, whether North 
or South, Whig or Democrat, proposed to chastise 
Mason. Two or three of us got him into a room, and 
had the doctor state to the angry mob that he was badly 
wounded, and that it would not do to punish a wounded 
man. I paid his expenses until he got well, and he then 
left the town and became a vagabond. 

These two quarrels made the Northern and Southern 
boys friends, and blotted out completely sectional lines 
so far as Nevada was concerned. 

These are not cited as fair specimens of the Southern 
boys, for they were generally brave to a fault; but they 
simply had a wrong idea of "mackerel catchers." 


Zcke Dougherty's court — Profanity from the bench and frontier 

justice — I get the drop on a desperado witness — ^Johnny Little's 

court in Cy Brown's saloon, where I win a lawsuit with a 
demijohn of whiskey. 

My life in Nevada City during the time I practiced 
law and acted as District Attorney was full of lively and 
exciting incidents. 

During the fall of 1852, while McConnell was 
District Attorney, an amusing affair took pl^ce with 
regard to Brother Bland, a Methodist preacher from 
Virginia. Brother Bland was a good man, mild, accom- 
modating, kind to the poor, and really lived an 
exemplary and praiseworthy life. He had a good wife, 
who was also devoted to charitable works. They stood 
very high in the community. There were quite a number 
of young married men in the vicinity, some of whom 
neglected their young wives by staying out nights, 
playing poker, and drinking. 

This was a grievous sorrow to Brother Bland, and he 
talked against it, and finally preached against it in a 
deprecating way. He suggested four or five names, and 
stated how much good these men might do if they would 
accompany their wives to the church and be as good men 
as their wives were women. 

One of the young fellows, Henry Miller, was a 
Kentuckian who thought he could not stand anything 
of the kind. He met Brother Bland on the same 
ridge that Sargent was in the habit of walking over 
and said to him : 

"Now, I've got you. Pm going to settle with you for 
what you said about me." 

Brother Bland told him he did not intend anything 
personal, but was very sorry that he had neglected his 

96 Reminiftcences of William M. Stewart 

wife, which was a bad thing, especially in a new 

"I will give you to understand," said Miljfcr^ **it is 
none of your damn business, and I am going to thrash 
you right now." 

Brother Bland said he did not want to be thrashed, 
but Miller finally hit him. Bland then took the young 
fellow by the nape of the neck, threw him over an old 
log, and gave him one of the best spankings a man ever 
had. Miller was so enraged that he had the preacher 
arrested for assault and battery. 

We had an old justice of the peace, a peculiar char- 
acter, by name Zeke Dougherty. He was an Irishman 
between seventy and eighty years old. He looked more 
like a skeleton than a human being, and had a squealing 
voice which would mount to the sky in a high key when 
he spoke in earnest; but he had a sense of justice as 
strong as any man I ever knew. 

They took the case before old Zeke, and it being a 
criminal one, the justice of the peace had a right to call 
on the District Attorney to prosecute it. Uncle Zeke 
called on McConnell to prosecute the case. The popu- 
larity of the minister had attracted the good people, 
men and women, from every part of the country, and 
the court-room was crowded. McConnell delayed 
coming, as he did not want anything to do with it, 
but finally came in loaded with apt Biblical quotations. 
His speech was unique, humorous, and amusing, and it 
was more against Miller than it was against Bland. In 
fact, he excused Bland for the battles he was making 
for his religion and the Lord generally. 

When he finished the judge was very much excited, 
and when in that condition profane language was as 
natural to him as taking a drink of whiskey. 

**Mr. Prisoner," he said, "it becomes my pleasant 
duty to decide this case. I have listened to the evidence 
attentively, and I'll be damned if I can see anything 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 97 

in it but a fair fight. You did right and arc 

Niles.Searles, afterward Judge Searles, was a man 
of eminent ability, and later became Chief Justice of 
the Supreme Court of the State of California. He was 
the Democratic candidate for District Attorney, and C. 
Wilson Hill was the Whig candidate for that office. 
We boys. Democrats and Whigs, liked them both. We 
did not like their political controversy, as we knew it 
would hp pretty close. We met one evening to see how 
we could get along with it, and decide who should have 
it without having a bitter contest. So it was suggested 
that they should try a case before old Zeke Dougherty 
and test their aptitude for criminal business. 

Some boys from Rhode Island, nice boys hitherto, 
had stolen some horses and were caught with them and 
other plunder. It was proposed that theirs should be 
the case. I, knowing that they had stolen the horses, 
suggested that we let Searles prosecute and Hill defend. 
I wanted Searles elected on account of his politics. 

Court opened in the morning and Searles introduced 
the witnesses. The guilt of the accused boys was proved. 
It was very near twelve o'clock when Hill called for a 
list of ten or twelve witnesses whom he proposed to 
introduce. Old Zeke asked: 

"And what are you going to prove by them wit- 

"If your Honor please, these gentlemen are from 
Providence, Rhode Island, and they all knew the accused 
at home and can testify to their good character." 

"Good character be damned I" roared Zeke. "Ain't 
they been proved to be damned thieves? Sheriff, take 
the prisoners to jail. The court is adjourned." 

Hill had to give up the fight, and Searles was elected 
District Attorney. 

There was a character in our vicinity called "Yankee" 
Sullivan, who was arrested for some misdemeanor and 

98 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

brought before old Zeke. Zeke saw that he was going 
to bully everybody around the court-room and sent for 
me, then District Attorney, and said: 

**I want you to prosecute this man. He is insolent, 
and I believe all the bailiffs are afraid of him." 

I knew there was only one way to go at him, and that 
was with a pistol. I had my pistol in my pocket. The 
old judge turned and grinned at me. 

"Mr. Sullivan," said I, *'I am going to cross-examine 
you in the ordinary way." He started to put his hand 
down. "Look out, I've got the drop on you; don't put 
your hand down there 1 If you do my pistol will go 
off. Don't look so surly, for I'm afraid my pistol will 
go off anyhow." I told him he would have to behave 
himself at all events. He then submitted to exam* 

The judge fined him and sent him to jail for thirty 
days. After he was sentenced by Zeke I said to him : 

"To see that you get there comfortably, I will go 
with the sheriff down to the jail." 

"You are damned obliging I" he returned. 
I went down to the jail and we put him in. I sent 
him some whiskey and something to eat, and when he 
came out he wanted to be my friend. Said he, "You 
are the only gentleman I have met In the damned place 1" 
The Legislature of California of 185 1 gave justices 
of the peace unlimited jurisdiction in mining cases, 
although their jurisdiction by the Constitution was con- 
fined to three hundred dollars. Mining cases tried 
before them often involved many thousands of dollars. 
Grass Valley, a town four miles from Nevada City, 
was a good mining camp. There was a ravine terminat- 
ing in a depression, or flat, extending from the creek 
below up to the town. A combination was formed 
which located the entire ravine. The locators included 
nearly all the men in the town eligible for jury duty. 
I had a lawyer friend there by the name of A. B. 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 99 

Dibble, a bright man who afterward became a notable 
character in the politics of California. By the statute, 
on the filing of an affidavit, a change of venue could be 
obtained from one justice of the peace to another. 

William Watt, afterward a leading citizen of Cali- 
fornia, was a Scotchman who had quite recently come 
to the country. He also located a claim, and Dibble, 
on behalf of one of the combination locators, brought 
suit against him in a justice's court. Watt came up to 
Nevada City and told me the situation. He said he had 
no money, but that he believed the claim was valuable 
and wanted to know if I would take the case. He said 
if he ever made money he would pay me a reasonable 

He was a handsome, honest-looking man, and I took 
a liking to him. I told him I would do it, but he said 
that Dibble and the combination had it all their own 
way in Grass Valley, and whatever the case was I would 
be beaten. I told him I understood that, and we would 
take a change of venue. We got a change of venue to 
Rough and Ready, where Johnny Little was justice of 
the peace. 

He was a little old man with a head as smooth and 
as round as a cocoanut. I went down to Rough and 
Ready and saw my friend Cy Brown, who had a saloon 
more than a hundred feet long. The counter where 
elevating spirits were dispensed was eighty feet long, 
and at the back end was a small room where the boys 
drank whiskey and played seven-up. The justice of the 
peace usually held his court in this retiring-room of the 

I told Cy Brown that our case was a difficult one on 
account of the situation at Grass Valley. I said I 
wanted to play even with that gang; that the question 
of justice did not enter into cases at Grass Valley, and 
all we wanted was rough justice anyhow. 

When the opposing counsel came over and saw where 

100 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

court was to be held they were as anxious as I was to 
have Cy Brown for their friend. So we arranged to 
have him a common friend. Cy was an excellent hand 
to keep order, because he had a way- of persuading 
people to mind their own business. 

1 suggested that inasmuch as water was scarce about 
the saloon and the parties might desire something to 
drink occasionally, we enter into a stipulation that all — 
jurymen, witnesses, lawyers and friends — should have 
all the whiskey they desired to drink, that Brown would 
keep a strict account of it, and it should be charged as 
costs in the case, to be paid by the losing party. 

Johnny Little, with his tin dipper handy, opened 
court. Dibble opened his case with fabricated evidence 
of a prior location to the claim of Watt. We had in 
defense a witness, a Scotchman, who knew facts per- 
fectly conclusive, and we thought we would keep him 
in the dark and would clinch the matter by his testi- 
mony in rebuttal, which would be the last to be heard on 
our side. To my surprise it leaked out that he was an 
important witness, and Dibble and his friends induced 
him to imbibe so freely that he was unable to testify. 
I had with me a Kentucky gentleman by the name of 
Joe Conn who was good and honest. Although some 
forty years of age, he had very little knowledge of the 
way things ought to be done. When we discovered the 
condition of our witness it was then supper-time, 
between four and five o'clock, and I moved to adjourn 
the case until the next day. 

Dibble had contrived to have somebody tell the judge 
that I would make that motion and that it was not in 
good faith, but was made simply because I had no case, 
so the judge overruled the motion. Things at that point 
of the game looked rather squally; but as they adjourned 
for supper I told my friend Joe Conn that we had to 
do some business or we were gone up, that we must 
get in some counter-work. 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 101 

I called his attention to a big Kentuckian, a friend of 
his, who was very much on the fight, and also to a big 
New Yorker^ a friend of mine, who was also quite 
belligerent when he had whiskey in him. Both of these 
gentlemen were on the jury. I told Joe we must drink 
with them and incite them so they would get together 
and try to fight. I said I would post Cy Brown and he 
would prevent casualties, but we would have some sort 
of a row for a while. We exercised ourselves for about 
half or three quarters of an hour getting into trouble, 
making friends and taking frequent drinks. The jury 
likewise had to drink many times to get things healed 
up. But through the influence of Cy Brown we obtained 
a settlement in each controversy without a fight. 

After dinner, which very few of the jurors took time 
to eat — they were so busy with the demijohn — court con- 
vened, at seven o'clock. The condition of the jury was 
then apparent, and the other side wanted an adjourn- 
ment. I announced to the court that the case was 
submitted and the evidence all in. The other side then 
wanted an adjournment before argument. 

I denounced the proceeding as a trick, and told the 
judge that they knew very well that after the evidence 
was in, if they got an adjournment it would destroy the 
verdict. This was very ridiculous, but the judge did 
not know whether it was right or wrong, and finally, as 
he had denied me an adjournment, he thought, to make 
it even, he would deny them one. 

It became necessary before we concluded the argu- 
ments to have further exercises of a pugnacious nature, 
and more drinks, and I said what I could to insult 
Dibble. I finally called him a liar in very polite 
language, and he called me another. I got wild with 
rage and was going to jump on him, but Cy Brown 
happened in at that time, having been previously posted, 
and took hold of me and wouldn't let me hit him. 

Then we had to have a committee appointed to settle 

102 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

the trouble before the case could proceed, and at each 
turn in the negotiations we had to take a drink, judge, 
jury and all, very freely and kindly. We kept up this 
performance until about half past ten o'clock. I told 
my good friend Joe not to limit his speech, and he 
spoke until some time after twelve o'clock, and of course 
he had to take a drink with the jury. Then I made a 
speech of two or three hours' duration, and every time 
I got tired we would have refreshments. 

Dibble then tried to talk to the jury, but they became 
impatient and told him to "dry up," and were very 
boisterous, and had to take another drink. Finally, 
about four o'clock in the morning, the case was sub- 
mitted to the jury. At my suggestion they were left with 
a bucket of water, a lot of tumblers, and a demijohn 
of whiskey and were shut up. I laid down on a bench, 
and the others also retired wherever they could find 
a place to roost, and slept until some time after daylight. 
We were all in a condition where sleep was the most 
natural thing that could happen to a man. 

Jerome Keyser was one of the jurors, and had a 
bank right opposite Brown's saloon. When I awoke I 
saw Keyser in his bank, and he was as mad as any man 
could be. He had not drunk a drop during all the 

Of course the jury had separated, and no verdict could 
be rendered ; it was a mistrial. There was a provision 
in the law that the party moving for a new trial should 
pay the costs. We made up the bill of costs, which was 
$1380. Of that $1 140 was for the good things we had 
had over the bar. The other side were unable to pay 
the costs, so no new trial was had, and we entered 
judgment for costs, and issued execution in favor of 
Watt, who had the claim sold and bought it in. He 
made some money out of it and became my friend for 


Reign of terror in San Francisco— Judge Botts changes his politics 
— ^The most eloquent man in America, and how a citizen of 
California was elected to the United States Senate from Oregon 
— My marriage — I clear a murderer and get the Jury in trouble. 

OVhile acting as Attorney-General in 1854 I removed 
to San Francisco and formed a law partnership with 
Hon. Henry S. Foote, ex-United States Senator from, 
and ex-Governor of, Mississippi^ Hon. Louis Aldrich, 
who had been a judge of the District Court, and Ben- 
jamin Watkins Lee of Virginia, were also in the firm, 
^^ich lasted about a year, doing a good business. 
^ In the mean time. Governor Footers family came out, 
and in the spring of 1855 I married his third daughter. 
Miss Anne E. Foote, a brilliant and accomplished 
woman, with remarkable conversational powers'S She 
was a great student, and during our marricrai life 
acquired most of the modern languages. We had three 
daughters, two of whom still survive. My wife*s sud- 
den death in an automobile accident in Alameda, Cali- 
fornia, in 1902, after forty-seven years of married life, 
was one of the tragedies of my life. 

Soon after my marriage I left San Francisco and 
returned to Nevada City. Mr. McConnelPs term as 
Attorney-General having expired, we formed a partner- 
ship and practiced law, enjoying, for a short time, very 
extensive practice. I built a house a little outside of 
the town, and the day after I moved the town burnt 
down. The house is still standing. Tn the mean time, 
I had been in the habit of practicing law in Downie- 
ville, and I thought it best to "go it alone"; so Mr. 
McConnell and myself dissolved partnership. 

In 1856 things had gone from bad to worse in San 
Francisco, until the people arose and appointed a vigil- 

104 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

ance committee in self-defense. The rough element of 
San Francisco had had their own way for several years, 
which was very annoying to respectable people. 

While I was practicing law in San Francisco in 1854 
I had an office in Montgomery block, adjoining the 
office of Judge Botts of Virginia, a brother of Gov- 
ernor John Minor Botts. Judge Botts went to the 
polls one election day to exercise the right of franchise. 
The precinct in which he voted was about the toughest 
in town. When the Judge attempted to deposit the 
ballot the by-standers took him off his feet, elevated 
him, and passed him from one to the other without 
letting him touch the ground for more than a block. 
During the performance they made his clothes look as 
though they had been picked from a rag bag. He 
came into my room in a most excited condition, froth- 
ing at the mouth, with his eyes flashing vengeance 
against the world. 

"I've changed my politics!" he cried. 

"What has happened, Judge?" 

"What has happened?" he roared. "I've changed my 
politics I" 

"What politics have you adopted?" 

"I am in favor of an absolute monarchy, limited only 
by the right of assassination." 

"Well," said I, "do you think that better than our 
form of government?" 

"There is a possibility of vengeance in that kind of 
a government for wrongs and insults inflicted," he 
answered. "By the eternal, there is none here ! I have 
been bamboozled and hurled about for the last half 
hour, and God knows how I can ever get even with 
those wretches!" 

Col. Edward Dickinson Baker, who had been a 
Representative in Congress from Illinois, who was a 
veteran of the Mexican war, and who was subsequently 
Senator from Oregon, and probably the most eloquent 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 105 

orator who has ever appeared in the United States, 
had been engaged in the defense of some celebrated 
criminals in San Francisco.^ames A. McDougall, who 
was afterward United Stites Senator from Cali- 
fornia, a^o had been engaged in defending some very 
bad men/Salthough nobody accused either of them of 
anything^ishonorable or unfair in their practice. 

There was a man by the name of Corey whom both, 
at various times, had defended. Corey was accused of 
killing a United States marshal by the name of Richard- 
son. Richardson and Corey were out in the dark 
together and Corey shot him. Richardson was the 
most violent man I ever knew. While practicing in 
San Francisco, Watkins Lee, a young gentleman by the 
name of Glassell, and two or three others were gen- 
erally associated. Richardson frequently invited us to 
dinner, much more often than we desired to attend, 
for he would get mad and shoot without warning, like 
a clap of thunder from a clear sky. He killed a man 
at a stage station between Sacramento and Marysville 
without any apparent provocation, and got off by 

There is not much doubt but that Corey shot Rich- 
ardson in self-defense. Those who knew Richardson 
thought that, but the killing of a United States marshal, 
coupled with some other offenses which Corey had com- 
mitted, marked him as one of the victims of the vigil- 
ance committee. Neither Baker nor McDougall could 
say anything in his behalf. They had to leave him 
to his fate, and he was afterward hanged by the 

To be rid of the excitement, both Baker and 
McDougall went to Nevada City and lived with me in 
the new house which I occupied, and which had not 
been burned at the time the town was destroyed. 

I had an important case for a man by the name of 
Conger. It involved the right to turn the Middle 

106 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

Yuba River out of its bed and convey it a long distance 
for mining purposes. The case was to be tried in 
Downieville, Sierra County, where the property was 
situated. I wanted each of my guests to obtain a 
good fee. 

I had my client, Conger, employ McDougall as my 
associate, because he was the best lawyer of the two; 
but I was anxious that Baker should have a show also, 
and I urged a friend to suggest his name to Doctor 
Weaver on the other side. The Doctor employed him. 

We went up to Downieville to try the case. I pre- 
sented the case to the jury, examined the witnesses, and 
made the opening argument. Baker followed me, and 
I believe he gave me the most eloquent and scorching 
tongue-lashing that a white man ever received. This 
occasioned great amusement and considerable satisfac- 
tion among those who had suffered at my hands in 
mining litigation in that community. They thought 
I had had it my own way long enough, and they were 
glad to see me get the worst of it. 

I relied on McDougall to close the case, because I 
had promised him that post of honor; otherwise, I 
would have made an effort to make some kind of a 
reply to Baker. The next morning McDougall came 
in, walking very straight, looking very serious, and 
proceeded at once to argue the case to the jury. He 
had not spoken two sentences before it was apparent 
that he was too drunk for utterance. He made a dead 
failure. On inquiry I found that those who had been 
rejoicing over my discomfiture the day before had 
treated him very liberally during the night by furnish- 
ing him such beverages as make men first hilarious and 
then stupid. 

The jury in five minutes brought in a verdict against 
me, whereupon every man in the county who had liti- 
gation opposed to my clients employed General Baker. 
He received in two days retainers amounting to over 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 107 

twenty thousand dollars in cash. Then came the tug 
of war between him and me, he on one side and I on 
the other, for the space of nearly two months. It so 
happened that he was unfamiliar with the local condi- 
tions, the rules and regulations of miners, and, above 
all, the likes and dislikes of the mining community. 

I told the jury in each case that Baker could out- 
talk any man on earth. I told them how he had lashed 
me, and explained why he was employed. I said I was 
mighty glad he got the money, but they must not be 
fooled by him, and I beat him in every case. 

He said he had tried a good many jury cases, and that 
I was the only man he ever saw who had a confidential 
understanding with the jury right in the presence of 
the court. Baker appealed the cases, but while he was 
beyond all bounds the most eloquent man I have ever 
heard, the details of the practice were unfamiliar and 
I succeeded in getting the Supreme Court to dismiss all 
of his appeals. Although he received more than fifteen 
thousand dollars to appeal the cases, he never got a 
record that the court would entertain. 

Baker came to the conclusion that he would like to 
go to the United States Senate. A Senatorial election 
was about to take place in Oregon. He went up there, 
got the Legislature to invite him to address them, made 
a few speeches, captured the Legislature, and was 
elected to the United States Senate, all within a very 
short time, probably not more than a month. He went 
to the Senate, taking his seat December 5, i860, and 
made a remarkable speech in reply to General Breckin- 
ridge*, and shortly afterward, October 21, 1861, was 
killed in battle at Balls Bluff, Va., at the head of a 
California brigade. 

In the fall of 1856 I took up my residence at 
Downieville, Sierra County, California, where I had 

*Congressional Globe, Appendix, ist Sess., 37th Cong., 1861, 
pp. 423-424. 

108 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

been practicing law most of the time for more than a 
year. I built another house at that place some distance 
from the crowded portion of the city, and a few days 
after I had moved in that town was burned, and, as 
before, my home was saved. 

I formed a partnership with Peter Van Clief, who 
was a man of superior ability, clear-headed, and a very 
able lawyer. Almost his only fault was modesty and a 
disinclination to push himself forward. We practiced 
law together about a year, when he was appointed Judge 
of the District Court. 

Downieville was located on the North Yuba River, 
where the mountains on either side are about 4000 
feet higher than the river. In winter it is almost shut 
out from the world by very deep snows. Downieville 
was the county-scat, but there was a lull of business two 
or three months of each winter. This furnished me a 
very much needed opportunity to study law, and I 
devoted myself night and day to reading Coke on 
Littleton. I read it through twice, made elaborate 
notes, and improved myself very much in my capacity 
to investigate cases. 

After Judge Van Clief was appointed to the bench I 
formed a partnership with Harry I. Thornton, who was 
District Attorney. Mr. Thornton was one of the 
Virginia family of Thorntons, although born in Ala- 
bama, to which State his father had removed, becoming 
a leading lawyer, and being appointed by President 
Fillmore as one of the Land Commissioners of 

Harry Thornton was a brilliant young man. He was 
elected to the California State Senate in i860, resigning 
at the close of the first session, about the time the war 
began. He enlisted in the Confederate Army, made a 
splendid record, returned to the Pacific Coast, practiced 
law, made money and friends, and was universally 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 109 

When Mr. Thornton and I agreed to form a partner- 
ship it was understood that Alexander W. Baldwin, a 
son of Joe Baldwin, then Judge of the Supreme Court 
of California, and famous as the author of "Flush 
Times," was to be appointed District Attorney in the 
place of Thornton. 

While these changes were taking place, and before 
Thornton had left his office and joined me, a very 
sensational homicide occurred at a place called Eureka, 
high on the mountains about four miles from Downie- 
villc. Two years previous a tall, consumptive-looking 
Irishman from the north of Ireland, whose name was 
White, had testified in a murder case against an over- 
grown Irish boy by the name of Mike Murray. Mike 
Murray was about eighteen or nineteen years old, weak 
in intellect, but physically a giant, weighing nearly three 
hundred pounds. Robert Taylor, an eloquent, cultured, 
and emotional man, defended Murray, who had been 
convicted of murder in the first degree, principally on 
the testimony of White. 

Everybody in the community thought that Mike 
Murray had been the instrument of some saloon keepers 
who wanted a man killed, and that Murray did not 
know what he was doing at the time. Feeling was very 
strong in his favor, but the diabolical description of 
the deed by White secured his conviction. I was so 
impressed with the belief that Murray was a tool of 
others that I took a petition, numerously signed, to Gov- 
ernor Weller, asking his pardon; but he was hanged. 

There were two young men in the mining camp who 
were highly respected — Ellis, a Scotchman, and 
O'Brien, an Irishman. They had a dispute about the 
ownership of a mining claim which, after about six 
months, became very acute. 

One day in December, 1859, they met at the claim, 
where the snow was about two feet deep. Others 
present were the man White, who had testified in the 

110 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

Mike Murray case, and a man by the name of Lazenby, 
from New England, who was a barber by trade, and 
stuttered so badly that, when he was excited, it was 
impossible for him to utter a word that anybody could 

Ellis and O'Brien quarreled, and Ellis drew a large 
bowie knife, stabbed O'Brien in the breast, and literally 
cut him open. 

The person who notified the sheriff brought a 
message to me from Ellis asking me to defend him. I 
sent back word that I would do so. I immediately 
sent the county surveyor, Isaac E. James, with an 
assistant, to make a map of the ground with all its 
surroundings where the homicide occurred. Ellis was 
brought down and lodged in the jail, but before he 
arrived I had learned the details of the affair and com- 
menced my plan for the defense. 

Ellis was anxious for an interview with me, which I 
declined, simply sending him word that I had charge 
of his case and did not want to be interrupted by him. 
He complained very bitterly of my conduct and wanted 
to employ some other attorney, but no one would consent 
to serve while I declared that I was his counsel and 
would take care of the case. 

In the mean time, Mr. Thornton, who had drawn the 
indictment and presented it to the grand jury, had 
resigned, and young Baldwin had been appointed 
District Attorney. Thornton appealed to me to give 
up the case and let some other attorney take it. He 
said that conviction was sure, and that it was not worth 
while to occupy time with it. I told him I would not 
give it up. 

Before the trial I examined the testimony of White, 
which had been taken down in shorthand, against Mike 
Murray. It so happened that the sheriff was an Irish- 
man by the name of Pat White, and the deputy sheriff 
was also an Irishman by the name of Dick Brown. 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 111 

There was a large settlement of Irish about four 
miles down the river at Owsley's Bar, noted for their 
clannishness and prejudice against everybody in general 
and Scotchmen in particular. 

The case was called for trial. Robert Taylor, who 
had defended Mike Murray, had been elected judge, 
and presided. The list of jurymen was read, and I 
observed that Pat White had summoned about an equal 
number from Owsley's Bar and Downieville. The men 
of Downieville wore clean clothes and "biled shirts" 
and looked very respectable. I was afraid of them. I 
did not think they were suitable for the business on 

Under the law the State had five peremptory chal- 
lenges and the defense twenty. As the jurymen were 
called I refrained from examining them on their voire 
dire as to whether they had "made up their minds," 
etc., but used my peremptory challenges against the 
"biled shirt" fraternity, accepting always without ques- 
tion the denizens of Owsley's Bar. 

My client was terribly distressed, and protested until 
the sheriff had to hold him in his seat. The judge knew 
me pretty well and did not like to interfere with me, 
taking it for granted that I knew my own business. 

The panel was finally completed and sworn in. On 
looking it over I was satisfied that it was the jury I 
wanted. Although every man was against a Scotchman 
on general principles, they hated the people of the 
North of Ireland of the Protestant stripe with a bitter- 
ness that was vindictive ; and particularly that North of 
Ireland gentleman who had sworn away the life of 
Mike Murray. 

The case lasted three days. It was prosecuted by 
young Baldwin, the District Attorney, who was bright, 
ambitious, and enthusiastic. He was over-eager for 
conviction, it being his first murder case. He was 
assisted by Judge William Campbell, who had been for 

112 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

a few months a county judge. Judge Campbell was 
also young and vigorous, but not fully armed with 

These gentlemen had at their back a host of witnesses 
from Eureka, leaving the town nearly a solitude. Their 
witnesses testified to all the circumstances leading up 
to the homicide, the dispute about the mining claim in 
all its phases, and the threats of Ellis against O'Brien. 

I said nothing and cross-examined none of the 
witnesses, although my client was writhing in agony. 
The bystanders, although they believed him guilty, were 
angry with me. I am satisfied that Judge Taylor shared 
the same feeling, and I was constantly in fear of a repri- 
mand from him. 

Finally, the star witness, White, was put upon the 
stand. A more diabolical story than he told in describ- 
ing the homicide has never been heard in any court-room 
where the English language or any other language is 
spoken. When the witness was turned over to me, as 
all the others had been, instead of turning my head and 
remaining silent as before, I said: 

"Have you ever had any occupation except that of 
swearing away the lives of men? If so, state it." 

Whereupon, as I had anticipated, the prosecution 
jumped to their feet at once and demanded of the court 
protection for the witness. Said I : 

"This court will not protect the man that swore away 
the life of Mike Murray." 

There was profound silence. Judge Campbell rushed 
into the clerk's office, which was the adjoining room, 
and brought out the volume of testimony in the Mike 
Murray case and laid it on a table. As he did so, the 
volume fell open, and I brought down my fist on it so 
hard that the table collapsed, saying, "Put away that 
bloody record!" 

These proceedings appeared to attract the attention 
of the jury somewhat. By that time I observed tears 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 113 

coming into Judge Taylor's eyes. He was thinking 
about Mike Murray. I rose rather speedily, and begged 
the pardon of the court. I made my apology so humble 
that it was actually accepted, and nothing further was 
said. I then changed my tone and asked the witness, 
White, to describe the place where the killing occurred. 
He gave a description in a very cool and collected 
manner; but, as I anticipated, it was entirely incorrect, 
because no man under these circumstances could possibly 
remember the details of the locality. That closed the 
case for the prosecution. 

I then called Ike James, the surveyor, with his map, 
and exhibited it to the jury, showing everything sur- 
rounding the place — the stumps, the snow, the tracks, 
etc. — which of course was entirely different from the 
description given by White. 

I then called up Lazenby, the stuttering barber, and 
found him in a very excited state of mind. I said: 

"Did you see O'Brien raise that shovel to strike 
before Ellis used the knife?" 

He tried to answer and stuttered away. I pre- 
tended to assume that he had answered my question in 
the affirmative, and turned him over to the other side. 
Their efforts to get him to say anything intelligible were 
unavailing. He stammered and stuttered, so I rested 
my CHse. 

Then Judge Campbell made the opening speech to 
the jury for the prosecution. It was a terrible arraign- 
ment of Ellis and a eulogy of the star witness White. 
When he got through I did not rise to reply, but 
remained in my seat. The Judge asked me if I did 
not intend to address the jury, and I then arose and 

"May it please your Honor," — not looking at the 

jury at all, — "this jury is just as good a judge as I am 

whether this man White has an unlimited right to swear 

away lives. They have heard the testimony, and if 


114 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

they think White ought to swear away another life, let 
them so decide." I then sat down. 

Young Baldwin, just as I expected, made an eloquent 
speech, devoting a large portion of it to praise of White, 
which kept White before the jury the whole of his 

The jury went out, and in about three minutes came 
back with a verdict of "not guilty." 

I was standing, and the prisoner was seated in the 
chair that he had occupied during the trial. He got 
hold of me then and asked me if he was a free man. I 
said in a whisper: 

"You are free now, but if you are in this town at the 
end of twenty minutes, you will be hung. If you can 
get up that mountain before the jurymen get out and 
mingle among their friends and find out what they 
have done, you are all right." 

He left the court-room on the run and hustled up 
the mountain. 

When the jury had taken a drink with the outsiders 
and talked the matter over, the crowd started 
after Ellis dispose of him, but they could not 
catch him. 

I never saw Ellis after that; but in 1869, nine years 
afterward, I addressed a political meeting during 
Grant's first campaign in White Pine County, Nevada. 
As I left the hall and was walking up the street — there 
were no lights and it was quite dark — I passed where 
two buildings were about two feet apart. A hand out 
of the darkness grasped me, and a low voice said : 

"I am Ellis. Take this; say nothing." 

I took the package and put it into my pocket, and 
when I reached my room and examined it I found $700 
in greenbacks. I suppose Ellis had changed his name. 
He had sufficient reason for doing so, because he would 
have been liable to assassination at any time during the 
lives of the friends of O'Brien. 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 113 

After the acquittal of Ellis I made a solemn resolve 
that I would never again be engaged to defend a man 
in a criminal case for money; that if ever I went into 
a criminal court it would be only for a friend, and I have 
kept my resolution, although I had been quite successful 
in defending several criminals previous to that time. 


I become interested in politics — Governor Bigler insulted — Appointed 
Attorney-General — Terry and Broderick duel — A tragedy in a 
hair trigger — Crabbs's expedition to Mexico. 


From the time I entered McConnell's office in the 
spnhg of 1852 until I left California in the spring of 
i860 I was deeply interested in the politics of that 
State. My participation in the local affairs of Nevada 
County brought me into contact with the politicians of 
the State who desired to control the delegations from 
that county, both in State conventions and in the Legis- 
lature. I usually went to the State Convention and 
particioated in the nomination of State and Federal 

Among the men who controlled the destinies of 
California in early days there were many remarkable 
characters, one of whom was William M. Gwin. I 
canvassed Nevada County and several of the northern 
counties with him in the fall campaign of 1853 while 
I was a candidate for District Attorney. He was a 
genial companion, conversed freely on national politics, 
and gave me much information in regard to the leading 
men of the nation. He was the recognized leader of the 
Southern Democracy. 

David C. Broderick was from New York, and was 
the idol of the Tammany forces who immigrated with 
him, and whose stronghold was the city of San 

John Bigler was Governor and a candidate for 
reelection ; he was regarded as a Broderick man. Gwin 
was popular in Nevada City, which created a coolness 
for the Governor. During the campaign Governor 
Bigler came to Nevada City and addressed his con- 
stituents, but he was not enthusiastically received. The 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 117 

Whigs took advantage of the situation and interrupted 
the Governor by asking questions and making a noise 
during his address. 

When he concluded, the Whigs called on a radical, 
John A. Collins, to reply. Collins was nominally a 
Whig, but if he were now living he would be called a 
Socialist. He had great capacity for violent and abusive 
speech, and he took occasion to attack the Governor 
in the most vivid language. 

Sheriff Endicott, a Democrat from Kentucky and a 
sympathizer with Senator Gwin, came to me and said 
that we could not afford to allow the Governor of 
the State to be treated in that manner in our town, and 
that when Collins got through I must take the stand and 
serve Collins as he had treated the Governor. He added 
that the Whigs were much excited and would undoubt- 
edly attempt violence if I said all the mean things I 
could think of to Collins and his friends, but that the 
Democratic boys were gathering at his suggestion, and 
if a row took place we would not have the worst of it. 

Accordingly, I took the stand and denounced Collins 
and the Whigs for their treatment of the Governor of 
the State. The Governor came out on the balcony of 
the hotel near by and I apologized to -him for the 
insults of Collins and his associates. 

During my speech nothing very serious occurred, 
more than a few "knock downs" and a pistol shot or 
two. One of the Whigs sustained a flesh wound. This 
incident made Governor Bigler a friend for life, and 
afterward, when the Legislature gave Attorney-General 
McConnell leave of absence for six months, the 
Governor appointed me to fill the vacancy. 

During the winter of 1852 and '53, while I was 
District Attorney of Nevada County, I visited Sacra- 
mento when the Legislature was in session. Broderick 
and Gwin were rival candidates for the United States 
Senate. A difficulty occurred the day I arrived in the Sen- 

118 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

ate Chamber between Henry A. Crabb, who afterward 
lost his life leading a filibustering expedition to Sonora, 
Mexico, and one of Broderick's friends. Crabb was 
intensely anti-Broderick, and a man of great courage 
and physical power. He or his followers had 
Broderick's friend arrested and haled before a justice 
of peace for assault and battery. 

Broderick sent for me and asked me as a special favor 
to appear in defense of his friend. I did so, and 
objected to the jurisdiction of the justice of the peace, 
on the ground that the difficulty occurred in the Senate 
Chamber, and that the Senator was not subject to arrest 
under the circumstances. The justice being inclined to 
get rid of the matter as easily as possible discharged 
the defendant. 

When I returned to the hotel where Broderick and 
his friend were stopping, I learned for the first time 
that the reason I was sent for to defend his friend was 
that the lawyers who were of Broderick's party, and 
there were quite a number of them, feared the arrest 
was for the purpose of doing violence to Broderick's 
friends, and that I might have had a rough time of 
it. But not anticipating any difficulty, and not knowing 
that anybody else supposed there would be trouble, I 
had no concern and the matter passed off without even 
angry words. 

Broderick invited me into his room, and we had a 
conversation which lasted nearly two hours. I was 
perfectly charmed with him, for he was certainly the 
most remarkable man I had ever met. He told me of 
his history and his aspirations. He was the son of an 
Irish mechanic who, when he emigrated from his 
native land, settled in Washington, D. C, and was em- 
ployed for many years in the construction of the 
National Capitol. Broderick, when very young, went 
to New York City, where he labored for a living. He 
soon joined a fire company and became a leader in 

Remiimceiices of William M. Stewart 119 

Tammany. When gold was discovered In California, 
he with many of his New York associates went to San 
Francisco. They were the controlling force of that city, 
and Broderick was elected to the Senate of the first 
Legislature which met in the State. 

The opportunities for acquiring wealth were abun- 
dant in San Francisco at that time; real estate could be 
had by those who would take it. Broderick became 
rich, but used most of his fortune in politics. The 
struggle between the Gwin and Broderick forces for 
political supremacy in the State was bitter and vindictive. 
At that time it was thought necessary for each House 
of the Legislature to pass a resolution to go Into joint 
convention to elect a United States Senator. It so 
happened that neither faction could get a majority of 
both Houses. When Gwin would have a majority 
of the Legislature on a joint ballot, the Broderick men 
would not go into joint convention; and when Broderick 
would have a majority, the Gwin men would balk. 
The result was that the State was not represented In the 
United States Senate for several terms. 

This evil was not remedied until 1866, after I was 
elected to the United States Senate and became a mem- 
ber of the Committee on Judiciary, when the law was 
then passed which authorized a joint convention whether 
the two Houses agreed to it or not. 

During the summer, while I was acting as Attorney- 
General of California, I had a room near the room of 
Mr. Broderick, and as we were both early risers, nearly 
every morning about daylight we started on a long walk 
before breakfast. On leaving our rooms we passed a 
shooting-gallery, kept by a Mr. Taylor, who was known 
as "Natchez." We frequently went In there to practice, 
because at that hour of the day we could do so in 
private. Mr. Broderick was the best shot I ever saw if 
allowed to use his own pistol. There was some defect 
In his forefinger which prevented his feeling the trigger 

120 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

of the pistol until he pressed it hard. A hair-trigger 
pistol would invariably go off before he was conscious 
of having touched it. Taylor labored very hard to 
teach him to use a hair-trigger pistol. He would fre- 
quently stand us side by side with our backs to the target 
and give the word for us to fire. I could always beat 
Broderick in such exercises; but when he had his own 
pistol and I had mine, he was the better shot. He would 
place his elbow against his side, raise his hand with the 
pistol in it mechanically, and almost without an excep- 
tion hit the bull's eye. Taylor told me many times to 
use my influence to prevent Broderick from fighting a 
duel, as he was no match for a man who could use a 
hair-trigger. He said the fact that Broderick's life had 
once been saved by accident would make him accept a 
challenge, and if he did so he was almost sure to be killed. 

I knew of his duel with Judge Smith, the son of 
"Extra Billy" Smith of Virginia, when he received the 
bullet of his opponent in his watch, which was directly 
over his heart. This led him to think he had a charmed 

He was elected to the United States Senate in 1857, 
and was radically opposed to the extension of slavery. 
His strong character and indomitable will marked him 
a leader at once. He canvassed California in opposition 
to the party who favored the Lacompton Constitution 
and the extension of slavery into Kansas and Nebraska, 
and he developed a capacity for earnest oratory in that 
canvass which nobody supposed he possessed. After 
the canvass was over he was dining at a restaurant in 
San Francisco and E. W. Perley, a pugnacious little 
Canadian, was sitting at the table near him. Perley was 
not happy unless he could start a personal difficulty. 
He commenced a conversation with Mr. Broderick in 
regard to Judge David S. Terrj'^, a Kentuckian, who had 
been on the Supreme Court bench of California, and 
was one of the most prominent men in the State. 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 121 

There was no particular animosity between Terry and 
Broderick; they simply belonged to different political 
wings of the same party. But Perley irritated Broderick 
and induced him to make some very harsh remarks with 
regard to Terry. Perley reported his version of the 
conversation to Terry, who accordingly challenged 
Broderick, September 13, 1859. They fought with 
hair-trigger pistols in a secluded place near San Fran- 
cisco. Broderick's pistol went off prematurely, and the 
bullet struck the ground before it reached Terry. 
Terry's shot was fatal and Broderick died three days 

The spirit of adventure was strong in California in 
those days. Men were money mad, and some of them, 
finding the search for the precious metals too slow, 
organized filibustering expeditions into Mexico. Stories 
were told of mythical mines there so rich that the Apache 
Indians moulded bullets for their guns from gold nug- 
gets. The restless gambling instinct made men reck- 
less, thirsting for excitement. 

Crabb, then a member of the State Senate, was a 
Mississippian, an impetuous, hot-headed Southerner, 
and an able lawyer. He was proclaimed general by a 
band of adventurous followers, and in 1857 set out 
with an advance body of one hundred men, by way of 
Yuma, on a raid into Mexico. The main body of 
filibusterers was to follow by sea to Libertad, and the 
two parties were to meet in Sonora. 

The combined forces comprised about four hundred 
men. Crabb had an arrangement with an aspirant for 
Governor of the State of Sonora to assist him in his 
election, in consideration of which Sonora was to rebel 
against Mexico and become an independent State, to 
be subsequently annexed to the United States. 

Crabb's party arrived safely at Sonora, but the rein- 
forcements he had expected failed to arrive. The 
California authorities had refused to permit them to 

122 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

leave San Francisco. The Mexican Governor betrayed 
Crabb, and when he advanced to Caborca to meet the 
other Americans, the Mexicans surrounded him in over- 
whehning force and he had to surrender. Fifty-nine 
prisoners were shot, and a rear-guard escaped only 
after being badly cut to pieces. A relief party from 
Tucson turned back, unable to save their fellow 


Discovery of the Comstock— Rush to the new diggings — Outrages 
by the Indians — Piute war — An ambush in a canyon — ^A volunteer 
army and a treaty of peace — California admitted to the Union — 
Origin of mining laws. 

In the fall of 1859 the Comstock lode was discovered 
in a mountain range about thirty miles east of the Sierra 
Nevada Mountains, in Utah ; and some ore was taken 
from it to Grass Valley, Nevada County, California, 
where it was assayed and found to be rich in gold and 
enormously rich in silver. This created the usual 
excitement. With many others, I made a visit to the 
new diggings and was strongly impressed with the 
magnitude of the discovery. It was then late in the 
fall and the winter was stormy. I resolved to move 
to the Comstock in the spring, and I returned to my 
home in Downieville for the winter. I went back to 
the Comstock in March while the snow was very deep 
on the mountains. 

When I arrived there I met an old acquaintance, 
Henry Meredith, from Virginia, whom I knew to be 
a good lawyer, having practiced with him before, and 
we formed a partnership and commenced building an 
oflEicc of stone. 

The day after the partnership was formed I went 
down to Carson, then a village, now the capital of the 
State, to look over the general situation, and I learned 
there that Major Ormsby had gone with a party of 
men to Williams's Ranch on account of the depredations 
committed there by Indians ; two ranchmen by the name 
of Williams having been killed. On my arrival at 
Virginia City a company was forming to join the Major. 
My partner, Henry Meredith, was there, mounted on 
a horse, and appeared to be the leader of the expedition. 

124 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

A large portion of the party who were preparing to 
go with him were known on the frontier as fighters and 
toughs. I begged him not to go with such a disor- 
ganized company, told him they had no discipline, would 
not obey orders, and that fighting with the Indians 
would be disastrous. He promised me that he would 
go no farther than Williams's Ranch. 

Instead, he joined about one hundred men who got 
together at Williams's Ranch, and marched across the 
desert from the Carson River to the Truckee River, 
following the trail of the Indians. They struck the 
Truckee just below where the railroad at one time 
crossed it at Wadsworth, and followed down the stream. 
When they went into the canyon below Wadsworth, the 
Indians, having laid in ambush, attacked them and killed 
about eighty of them. Not more than fifteen or twenty 
escaped. Meredith and many other splendid men were 
among the slain. 

After Meredith left, and before I had heard of the 
battle, I went over to Downieville, intending to get back 
in a very few days. I rode my mule through Truckee 
Valley, following the trail on which we came over, and 
was about a day and a half making the trip to Downie- 
ville. About five miles before I reached that town 
I met a party of friends on their way to hunt me and 
rescue me if possible from the savages. I then learned 
of the massacre. There was great rejoicing when I 
arrived safely at Downieville. 

The next day I returned to Virginia City, but avoided 
exposure in the Truckee Valley by circuiting the hills. 
A volunteer army was then being raised to which I 
contributed a thousand dollars, and other settlers 
and miners also aided liberally. At the same time 
Jack Hayes was on his way from California by the 
Placerville route with a few volunteers, and Captain 
Stewart of the Regular Army was en route with 
about a hundred Federal soldiers. It was almost 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 125 

impossible to get freight from California, so the people 
of Nevada Territory supplied the soldiers the best they 
could. The Government of the United States has paid 
the people for part of the supplies they furnished. 
Some of the largest contributors, including myself, pre- 
sented no claim. The claims in Congress were 
known as the Piute Claims, and later I secured 
their payment. 

I did not go out with the soldiers, because it was 
thought more important for me and two or three others 
to collect and forward supplies to the army. 

The little army finally overtook the Indians in the 
mountains near the Truckee River, but the latter, realiz- 
ing that the whites had a superior force, did not give 
regular battle, but skirmished about in the hills, killing 
a few of our men. A treaty of peace was speedily made 
which ended the war forever, for the white population 
grew so rapidly the Indians saw it would be hopeless 
to continue opposition. 

One young man by the name of Storey, who was 
acting as captain, was killed, and Storey County was 
named after him ; and Ormsby County was named after 
Major Ormsby, who fell in the Indian war. 

The rules and regulations governing mining were 
inherited from California. California never had a 
territorial government; the military arm of the United 
States maintained order until the people established a 
State government. Spanish land grants covered a large 
portion of the fertile valleys of the State, and these 
were in litigation for many years. The mineral lands 
were excluded from survey. They included the area 
between the foot-hills of the Sierra Nevadas on the west 
and the plains of Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas 
on the east. 

California was admitted near the end of the long 
session of Congress in 1850. Gwin and John C. Fre- 
mont were the first Senators. Fremont introduced a 

126 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

bill providing for a tax or royalty on working the mines 
sufficient to pay the administrative expenses. 

Senator Benton opposed any legislation with regard 
to the mines until sufficient time had elapsed to disclose 
the real situation. In other words, he maintained that 
it was best to leave the miners to their own devices. 
Senator Seward and some others took the same view of 
the situation. The result was non-action by the General 

•* The first immigrants to California were from the 
more substantial families of every State. They gener- 
ally ranged in age from eighteen to twenty-five years ; a 
man of thirty was regarded as quite old. These young 
men formed rules and regulations on the bars and 
diggings where th^y mined; and miners' meetings 
determined the boundaries of the district and made rules 
fixing the size of the claims, amount of work necessary 
to hold them, and such other regulations as the circum- 
i^stances required. 

Although these miners' meetings acted independently 
of each other in the mineral belt of California extending 
about 500 miles north and south, varying in width from 
twenty to fifty miles, the regulations in the various 
localities were so similar in character as to form a system 
of general laws. 

Stephen J. Field, afterward Associate Justice of the 
Supreme Court of the United States for nearly a third 
of a century, was a member of the first Legislature, and 
offered an amendment to the Practice Act which was 
adopted, providing that in actions respecting mining 
claims the rules and regulations established and in force 
on the bars or diggings might be offered in evidence, 
and when not in conflict with the laws of the United 
States, or the State of California, should govern the 
decision of the action. 

As gold and silver mining spread throughout the vast 
interior mountain region between the valleys of the 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 127 

Pacific on the west and the Missouri on the east, the 
miners continued to make their own regulations, and 
the courts of all the States and Territories where mines 
existed on the public domain enforced the laws which 
the miners made. 

The first mining was along the bars of the streams, 
which were divided into small claims. The rivers were 
also divided into sections, and the waters diverted 
through flumes constructed by the miners by the use of 
whip-saws. Thus, great rivers were turned out of their 
beds and carried for miles while the energetic youths 
mined beneath them. Later on it was ascertained that 
the hills contained gravel beds and that a great ore chan- 
nel extended for more than two hundred miles across the 
ridges at an elevation of from 3,000 to 4,000 feet above 
the level of the sea. In this great ore channel trees 
and flood wood were found petrified, and other evidence 
existed that there had once been a mighty river running 
from the north to the south before the great canyons 
from the mountains to the valleys were created. 

As these new situations were discovered, the miners 
made laws applicable to each case presented for their 
consideration. I had the honor to attend the first 
miners' meeting called to consider the vein, or lode, 

About Nevada City, California, there were quite a 
number of small quartz veins sufficiently rich at the 
surface to enable the miners to make wages by beating 
up the rock with mortar and pestle. The meeting 
appointed a committee, of which I was chairman, to 
draft resolutions describing quartz claims. I reported 
from the committee resolutions providing that a vein 
or lode claim should consist of 200 feet in length along 
the vein or lode, with all its dips, spurs and angles. 

This description of a vein or lode was adopted 
throughout the State of California, and all the mining 
States and Territories, as rapidly as vein or lode claims 
were discovered. 

128 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

'^'rom 1852 to i860, except a short period while I 
performed the duties of Attorney-General, I took a 
very active part in the practice of mining law, which was 
the principal and most lucrative practice in the State of 


Comstock lode fortified — Trouble brewing — I get the drop on a 
'*bad man" — A desperado who killed sixteen men in one winter — 
A brave Dutchman — The terror of the camp — Rival judges and 
mixed justice. 

When I arrived at Virginia City in March, i860, I 
found a large number of people living there in tents, 
behind rocks, in holes in the ground, and in every possi- 
ble way they could devise to protect themselves from 
the prevailing inclement winds. 

Judge Terry reached Virginia City two days before 
I did with a party of Southern gentlemen from Cala- 
veras County, California. He selected three prominent 
points on the Comstock lode and caused forts to be 
erected. He declared even at that early day that there 
would be a separation of the Union, that Nevada would 
be a part of the Southern Confederacy, and that 
whoever was in possession of the mines would be 
allowed to hold them. 

What is now Nevada was then a part of Utah. The 
people of California knew little of Utah laws, distrusted 
everything connected with Utah, and consequently 
organized corporations in California to work the mines. 
Nearly all of the corporations owning claims on the 
Comstock vein employed me as their counsel, and were 
very urgent in their desire to drive Terry's men from 
their forts. 

In a few days I was satisfied that it would be a very 
foolish thing to interfere with Terry as matters then 
stood. The foot-wall of the Comstock was very dis- 
tinct; it required very little development to determine 
what or where it was. It was located on Mount 
Davidson, a huge granite mountain, and pitched to the 

east at an angle of about 40 degrees, and the lines of 

130 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

cropplngs consisting of what was then known as the 
Comstock were prominent and very rich. 

The Ophir, Gould and Curry, and Gold Hill were 
the most conspicuous of these valuable blow-outs or 
croppings. About 500 feet west of these croppings, 
known as the Comstock, there was a barren vein lying 
on the foot-wall. It was known as the old Virginia 
lead. The Comstock and all the vein locations were 
described as 300 feet along the vein with all its dips, 
spurs, and angles. This vein was very different from 
the models the miners of Nevada had before them 
when that mode of describing a vein mine was 

There were a large number of Comstock claims along 
the line. Their names were the Sierra Nevada, the 
Ophir, the Mexican, the Middle Lead, the Gould and 
Curry, the Savage, the ChoUar, Gold Hill (subdivided 
into several claims), the Yellow Jacket, Crown Point, 
Belcher and Overman, extending a distance of nearly 
two miles. The number of feet claimed by these com- 
panies was nearly twice as much as existed on the Com- 
stock. In other words, claims on the Comstock lode 
lapped over each other throughout the entire length of 
the vein, and it had not been determined what direction 
they extended underground. 

I went to San Francisco and told the companies that 
I wanted to see them altogether and explain the situa- 
tion. I informed them there was no known hanging 
wall, that the foot-wall was at the Virginia croppings, 
that the foot-wall pitched east about 40 degrees, that the 
Comstock locations were all in conflict with each other ; 
and that it was not worth while to meddle with Terry 
until they had their own dispute settled. 

They said they were all friends and had no dispute. 
I said, "As soon as you commence mining you will find 
you are all enemies and will become involved in litiga- 
tion with each other." 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 131 

Finally, each company appointed an agent with full 
power to settle its end lines, and we proceeded to 
Virginia City with a corps of engineers and definitely 
settled all disputes between the companies themselves 
and established end lines between which they might 
follow the veins. 

When this was accomplished they suggested that it 
was time to put Terry off. I told them not yet, that 
they must leave him alone until they bought the Virginia 
lead and divided that among the claims according to 
their various holdings so they would extend to the foot- 
walls. They did that reluctantly. 

My clients then wanted to litigate, and about that 
time Judge Cradlebaugh, who was one of Utah's judges, 
assigned to the western district of that territory, 
appeared. Just at that time President Buchanan 
removed him and appointed Judge Flenniken in his 
place. Flenniken did not arrive until late in the fall 
of i860, Cradlebaugh claiming to ]be judge because he 
maintained that the President had no right to remove 
a Territorial judge. Some doubt had been thrown over 
this question by the language of the Utah Act, and on 
account of the opinion rendered by Justice John McLean 
of the Supreme Court of the United States. 

During the lull in litigation with regard to the trial 
of cases before Judge Cradlebaugh some miners asked 
me to assist them in friendly arbitration in a dispute 
which arose among them about claims near the Devil's 
Gate in the road down the canyon. 

We went on the ground and then retired to the 
Devil's Gate Toll House, which was a stone building 
about 10 by 15 feet. It was divided into two rooms. 
There was a door into the principal room from the 
street where toll was collected, and a bar extended the 
length of the room. Next to the bar was a small door 
into a room five or six feet wide and ten feet long. We 
went in there to avoid an unpleasant wind prevailing 

132 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

that day, chose three arbitrators, and called in a Utah 
justice of the peace to swear the witnesses. 

I was sitting with my back against the wall near the 
door which opened into the barroom. I had on a very 
thin overcoat with large side pockets in which I had 
two Texas derringers which carried ounce balls. They 
were the only safe warlike implements at close range 
except a knife. Pistols carrying a small ball might kill 
an antagonist, but before his death he could continue 
to use a knife or a gun, unless he was accidentally shot 
through the heart; but a derringer ball hitting a man 
anywhere would knock him down and stupefy him so 
that he could not instantly continue the fight. 

I heard the clattering of Mexican spurs that made 
considerable noise at the door of the barroom. A voice 
said, **How are you, Brown?" I instantly made up my 
mind that it was Sam Brown, a notorious character who 
had killed sixteen men during the preceding winter. 
The Utah officers dared not attempt to arrest him, and 
he had everything his own way. I knew very well if 
we met in that small room some of us would be killed, 
so I cocked my two pistols, pointed them at the door, 
and when he came in held them aimed at his breast. 

Without noticing me he swaggered in, raised his 
hand, and said, "Swear me." I called out to the justice, 
**Swear the witness!" which he timidly did. I then 
inquired what he had to say and what he knew about 
the case. He claimed some interest in the ground. 
After he had testified he went out. The referees went 
into the other room and I followed behind the balance 
of those present. 

As I confronted Brown, who stood facing the door 
with his elbow on the bar, I continued to hold my pistols 
in front of him, supposing he would attack me when I 
came out. Although he barred the way, using profane 
language, he said he liked my kind, and asked me If I 
would take a drink with him. We touched glasses and 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 133 

parted friends. The next day he called on me at Carson 
and wanted to employ me in a lawsuit he expected to 
have at Aurora where rich mines had been discovered, 
and which is now in Esmeralda County. He said he 
believed that he and I could get justice in a mining 
camp. I told him he was right, I thought we could. 
He said he would be back in a few days and would give 
me a good retainer. 

He left about ten o'clock and went up the valley, 
which was then the road to California, to a station 
known as Van Sickles. He called there for his dinner; 
the waiter did not serve it to suit him and Brown 
knocked him down with his pistol. 

Van Sickles was a Dutchman, a very mild-mannered 
man, but he told Brown that he ought not to do that. 
Then Brown drew his pistol and went after him. Van 
Sickles ran behind a pile of rocks and got away. Brown 
went out, got on his horse and started on his journey up 
the valley toward Aurora. Van Sickles loaded a shot- 
gun with balls and started after him on a fast pony, 
remaining far enough behind so that Brown could not 
see who it was. The road forked near the station where 
Brown would evidently stop for the night, and when 
Van Sickles saw him take one, he took the other and 
got into the barn which had an open door where 
travelers could ride in, and stood at the side of the door. 
Brown had not observed him, and when he rode in Van 
Sickles jammed the muzzle of his gun against his 
breast and said, **Now I kills you ! and fired both bar- 
rels. The desperado fell dead. 

There was great rejoicing in the whole country over 
the act of Van Sickles, and as a reward he was elected 
Sheriff of Douglas County as soon as the county was 

As for myself, I do not relate this story with a view 
of boasting of my courage, for I must admit that I was 
very badly scared when Brown made his appearance. 

134 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

and only behaved as I did because I was in a comer 
and could not help it. 

In June, i860, Terry and myself met in Carson and 
agreed that we would recognize the authority of Judge 
Cradlebaugh and try cases before him. Genoa was then 
the county-seat of Carson County, which comprised 
what is now nearly all of Nevada. 

I had previously rented a log-cabin in Genoa, which 
is still standing as a relic. It was the first building of 
any kind in what is now the State of Nevada. I fixed 
up the old log-house as my office, removed my library 
there, and when Cradlebaugh opened court Terry and 
myself appeared on opposite sides of all the cases, and 
we had a very lively term of court. Each had about a 
hundred armed men to help him behave. 

We tried several cases, only one of which involved 
the question as to what constituted the Comstock lode. 
I refrained from trying any cases against those claiming 
the Comstock with the rival location. 

There was a claim located west of the workings 
separate lodes where I could not find ore connecting 
on the Ophir called the ''Middle Lead." I caused 
a tunnel to be run from the Ophir workings 
through and into the workings of the so-called Middle 
Lead and found ore all the way, a distance of about 
thirty feet. My witnesses had sworn that the Ophir 
and the Middle Lead were one body of ore. 

Terry introduced a large number of witnesses in 
reply, who swore positively that there was twenty feet 
of granite between the two claims. 

Not anticipating any such positive false swearing and 
having introduced witnesses on the same subject, I was 
not, as a matter of technical law, allowed to rebut the 
testimony on the opposite side, but on the adjournment 
of the court I sent a surveyor by the name of Hatch 
a distance of thirty miles, providing a relay of horses 
at Carson, and again at Virginia City to return, and 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 135 

had him take with him ten men with forty small sacks, 
instructing them to take from the so-called vein which 
the witnesses had sworn was solid granite, a specimen 
of ore from each six inches. The party returned with 
the ore before court opened the next morning. 

I told Hatch that when the jury was called I would 
occupy the attention of the court for a moment. I told 
him to take the sacks containing the ore, which were 
marked where they came from, and place them before 
the jury while I was attracting the attention of Judge 
Terry and the court. 

When Judge Terry observed it he wanted to object 
because it was not rebuttal; but when he saw the jury 
examining the ore, he gave in, saying the trick was 
so smart he would let it go. But, even with that positive 
evidence, Terry succeeded in hanging the jury, having 
some of his Calaveras followers included in the panel. 

Later R. P. Flenniken arrived, and Terry told me 
that he would discontinue our arrangement to try cases 
before Judge Cradlebaugh; that he was confident that 
Flenniken was the legal judge, and that he should try 
cases in his court with a marshal and clerk; a man by 
the name of Grice being his marshal. 

Cradlebaugh continued to hold court, and tried the 
criminal cases. For the purpose of testing the question 
of Cradlebaugh's right to continue in office, I caused to 
be appealed to the Supreme Court of Utah, sitting at 
Salt Lake, a criminal case in which the question raised 
involved the validity of Cradlebaugh's authority. 

Very little civil business was done for several months ; 
but finally, in February, 1861, Judge Terry's clients 
went upon a claim called the St. Louis, between what 
is known as the Devil's Gate and Silver City, on the 
main road to Virginia City. There was a considerable 
quantity of rich ore on the surface of the St. Louis. 
Terry's clients and associates had procured about eighty 
old muskets which had been brought over the mountains 

136 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

from California during a recent Indian war. They 
erected a fort and manned it with about seventy-five 

I brought suit and obtained an injunction in Cradle- 
baugh's court, which was served upon the occupants of 
the fort. They disobeyed the injunction and continued 
to work the mine. The situation was embarrassing; all 
the arms available for a battle were in the hands of 
the enemy. It was absolutely certain that if a warrant 
was placed in the hands of John Blackburn, the marshal 
of Cradlebaugh's court, he would be resisted by the 
armed forces in the fort. I knew that Blackburn, being 
a desperate man, would make every effort to serve the 
warrant, and that the inevitable consequence would be 
the shedding of blood to no purpose. 

Two young men were associated with me in the 
case — Moses Kirkpatrick, afterward a leading lawyer 
of Butte, Montana; and William F. Anderson, who 
became a popular lawyer in Idaho. I proposed to them 
that we visit Flenniken and arrange a compromise if 
possible. Accordingly, we called on Flenniken at his 
chambers and told him that we were anxious to avoid 
bloodshed; that Judge Cradlebaugh's order had been 
disobeyed by the men in a fort on the St. Louis mine 
near Silver City; that if it was agreeable to him we 
would commence a suit in his court, and if our showing 
was sufficient to satisfy him that an injunction ought 
to be issued, we would serve his injunction and make a 
joint effort with his marshal and the marshal of Judge 
Cradlebaugh to enforce the orders of the two courts. 
Flenniken said that would be entirely agreeable to him. 

We further said to him that the controversy between 
the two judges was very injurious to the business of 
the Territory and ought to be terminated, and that 
Judge Cradlebaugh had agreed to resign if the Supreme 
Court of the Territory of Utah decided against him, or 
if Lincoln's Administration, when it should be inau- 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 137 

gurated, refused to pay him his salary and paid it to 
Judge Flenniken. Flenniken said that would be entirely 
satisfactory to him, and he would then and there make 
the same agreement Judge Cradlebaugh had. 

We went to my office, prepared the papers, and the 
next morning called on Flenniken again and asked him 
to issue an injunction. He not only refused to do that, 
but denied ever having had any conversation with us 
on the subject; and, in fact, he went so far as to deny 
that we had ever visited him at all. 

While we were studying what to do next, early in 
the evening the Pony Express came in from Utah bring- 
ing the decision of the Supreme Court of that Territory 
in favor of the right of Judge Cradlebaugh to hold 
court; whereupon Judge Flenniken got out upon the 
street and publicly declared that he was no longer judge, 
that Cradlebaugh was judge, and that it was the duty 
of all good citizens to obey his orders. I met him in 
the presence of several gentlemen and questioned him 
personally to know if he would sustain Judge Cradle- 
baugh. He assured me that he would. 

I then got an order for arrest for contempt for the 
occupants of the fort and placed it in the hands of the 
marshal, Blackburn, and retired for the night. The 
next morning, before the sun was up, Kirkpatrick and 
Anderson called at my house and told me that Judge 
Flenniken was on the street claiming to be judge and 
denying the right of Judge Cradlebaugh. I belted 
on my pistols and started down town, seeking Judge 
Flenniken. I met him on the square, now occupied by 
the State House, in front of Pete Hopkins's saloon. 

*'Good morning," he said. 

**Good morning." 

"What's the news?" 

**Bad news, indeed," I said. 'They are slandering 
you. They say that you are claiming to be judge and 
defying the authority of Judge Cradlebaugh." 

138 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

I told him I anticipated that something might go 
wrong and had taken the precaution to be deputized by 
Marshal Blackburn to summon a posse to assist in 
executing the orders of Judge Cradlebaugh, and that I 
summoned him to carry a musket and give the lie to 
the slander that he was usurping the functions of Judge 

He stepped back, and I grabbed him by the collar 
and jerked him on to his knees, and drawing my pistol 
told him he would carry a musket in front of me, and 
there was no evading it. He raised his hands implor- 
ingly, saying: 

"Is there no way^to avert it?" 

"Yes, if you will do as I say," I replied. 

He consented by not resisting, and I took him by 
the coat collar into Flyshacker's store, which was 
conducted by F. A. Tritle, subsequently Governor of 
Arizona. There was a telegraph station in the middle 
of the floor, surrounded by a railing. Pete Lovell was 
the telegraph operator, and was at his post. I told 
Tritle to write as I dictated. I dictated four or five 
dispatches for Flenniken to sign, which declared in 
emphatic terms that he was not judge, that Cradlebaugh 
was, and his orders must be obeyed. I sent one to Flen- 
niken's marshal of the court, one to his clerk, one to 
Cradlebaugh's marshal, and several others to prominent 
men at Silver City. 

I then had Lovell come outside the railing and stand 
where he could hear the messages in reply, but not 
where he could touch the wires. News came of consul- 
tation of all parties concerned. Finally Lovell said the 
forces under the marshal of Flenniken's court had 
surrendered and agreed to accompany Marshal Black- 
burn to Carson, a distance of about ten miles. I 
waited about an hour, when It was announced that 
Marshal Blackburn and his prisoners were within four 
miles of Carson, and then had Judge Cradlebaugh open 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 139 

court. As the prisoners were led in I moved their 
discharge on the ground that they had been misled by 
a usurper by the name of Flenniken, who falsely 
pretended to be the judge ; that they were good citizens, 
but they had defied the authority of the court under a 
mistake, and that I hoped they would be allowed to 
depart without punishment. Accordingly, Judge Cradle- 
baugh, acting on my motion, discharged the prisoners. 

Joe Vaughn was a partner of Judge Terry, and was 
managing the business while Judge Terry was in San 
Francisco. He came to me and requested the privilege 
of seeing the original dispatches signed by Flenniken. 
I took him to the telegraph office. He read them and 
was satisfied that they were genuine. 

The next day Judge Terry arrived. Everybody 
supposed that he would be very indignant and that 
something sensational might occur. On the contrary, 
the Judge came to my office, saluted me good-naturedly 
as usual, and said that I had taught him and his party 
a very valuable lesson, never to go to war unless you 
have your general in your own camp. "You had both 
generals in your camp and you won the victory," he 

Judge Terry left that evening, and proceeded 
immediately to the Confederate Army, in which he 
fought bravely until the end of the war. 


Making Nevada a Territory — I help to locate the Capital — The great 
flood of 1861— I lose my fortune in a night — Frightful journey on 
foot to San Francisco in blizzard — Borrow $30,000 and get a 
new start — Half a million in fees in one case. 


(n March, 1861, Congress passed an Act making 
western Utah a Territory, and naming it the TerritcK;v 
of Nevada. James W. Nye was appointed Governq^ 
George Turner, Chief Justice; Horatio M. Jones and 
Gordon N. Mott, Associate Justices. 

The Governor, as directed by the Territorial Act, 
divided the Territory into districts for election purposes, 
and called the election for members of the Territorial 
Legislature. The Legislature sat in the fall of 1861 
and passed a complete code of laws, civil and criminal, 
dividing the Territory into counties and judicial 

At the time the Legislature was about to convene 
there was a sharp contest between Carson and Virginia 
City for the location of the capital. My family resided 
at Carson, but I practiced more often at Virginia City. 
Previous to the bringing in of water from the Sierra 
Nevada Mountains, Virginia City was very unhealthy 
on account of the bad water; consequently I made 
Carson my place of residence. There was a lively 
contest in Carson for the member of the council, corre- 
sponding to the State Senator in organized States. 

A committee inquired of me the morning before the 
election where I thought the capital ought to be, and 
I told them by all means at Carson, where the climate 
was excellent, the water good, which would make it a 
permanent town; whereas Virginia City was a mining 
town and not a suitable place for the capital. They did 
not disclose the purpose of asking me this question. I 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 141 

remained in Virginia City until after the election, and 
when the votes were counted I had more than two-thirds 
oi them. There was nothing for me to do but to serve. ^^ 

\ ^Knowing that I had been elected for the purpose of ^^j^*^ ^^ 

* locating the capital at Carson, I remained at home ^^ 

f during the time the members of the Legislature were 

{ coming in from different parts of the Territory. I 

I inquired of each how he wanted his county bounded and 

where he wanted the county-seat. Each one told me, 
I and I framed a bill dividing ^he Territory into counties 

» and making Carson the capita^ 

' Virginia City lacked a few votes of half the Legis- 

* lature. A large delegation came down, confident that 
they would locate the capital at Virginia City. All 

* the counties were arranged to suit the members outside 
of Virginia City, and it was understood that any 
change in the programme would be disastrous to them 
in arranging their county boundaries. The Virginia 
delegation debated the question in a very enthusiastic 
manner, but we on the outside kept quiet until the vote 
was reached, when our programme was carried by three 
votes, the number that we anticipated. 

I am sorry that I was forced to make so grave a 
mistake in arranging the programme, but I was com- 
pelled to take the course I did in order to make Carson 
the capital. The four counties of Ormsby, Storey, 
Lyons, and Douglas are so near together that a horse 
and buggy can be driven to each of the four county-seats 
in half a day, and the expense of carrying on so many 
county governments is a great burden upon the people 
and upon the State. It is hoped that the time may come 
when the people themselves will arrange the counties 
and the county boundaries in spite of the official cliques 
that live about the court-houses. 

During the organization of the new Territory, which 
occupied about six months, there was a lull in litigation, 
but mining was actively pursued. ^I was quite successful 

142 Reminuceiices ct William M. Stewart 

during that time In my mining operations. With two 
associates, Morgan and Henning, I acquired a valuable 
mine on Gold Hill, built a quartz mill on Carson River, 
constructed a road to it, bought eight teams of six mules 
each to haul ore, purchased and had delivered at the 
mill over a hundred tons of hay, a hundred tons of 
barley^^and was in the act of taking out money very 


I also, with my law partner Kirkpatrick, built another 
quartz mill in the canyon of Gold HilL If the winter 
had been as usual I would have had the foundation of 
a fortune of a million; in fact, in November, 1861, I 
had an offer for iny interest in the two properties of 
$500,000. But^bout the middle of December th^ 
came the most ternfic snowstorm ever known in Nevad>^ 
When the snow was five or six feet deep In Virginia 
City, where it seldom falls a foot deep, and when the 
valley about Carson was also covered several feet with 
snow, a warm rain set in, and the flood was terrible. 
It filled the mine with water and carried away both 
mills; while the hay, the grain, and the ore at the mill 
were all swept away ; nothing was left on the bar where 
the mill was built, which before the flood was covered 
with a heavy growth of cotton woods from one to three 
feet In diameter, and it became a mass of boulders and 
nothing elsei^I lost $500,000 In a night. 

The destruction of the mills and the ore left us 
without money to pay our men or to buy food for our 

I wmt to the boarding-house keepers, arranged for 
the board of the men until my return, and also provided 
for feeding the mules with barley costing twenty-five 
cents a pound. I had a friend In San Francisco by the 
name of Chris Rels who had plenty of money. I 
resolved to see him as quickly as possible and raise 
enough on the mine to pay all the debts that we had 


Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 143 

I started from Gold Hill, in Storey County, Nevada, 
for San Francisco, California, on foot over Salisbury's 
grade, a distance of about 300 miles. When I arrived 
at Yanks, an important station about a mile and a half 
south of Lake Tahoe, I found two or three hundred 
men there waiting for the storm to subside so they could 
cross the mountains. I remained at Yanks that night. 
The morning after my arrival the snow on the grade 
upon the mountain was very deep, covering the tele- 
graph poles ; but being familiar with the location I had 
no difficulty in reaching the summit of the mountain. 
When I arrived there the wet, heavy snow was falling 
very rapidly. There I met one of the Salisbury 
brothers, who had come from California. He told me 
that I must turn back, that I never could cross the 

I insisted that I must go on, and when he failed to 
persuade me to return he started to leave me, and when 
about 150 yards from where our conversation took 
place a snowslide came and buried him so deep that his 
remains were not found until the following June. 

Knowing that in a snowstorm no man can steer a 
straight course, but that men so situated invariably 
walk in a circle until they perish, I took the precaution 
to steer my route truly by sighting from tree to tree. 
I traveled by this method four miles in about five hours, 
when the topography of the country enabled me to pro- 
ceed more rapidly. 

I arrived about dark at a station on the road known 
as Strawberry Ranch, and there spent the night. It was 
raining and snowing and every ravine was a raging 
torrent. The mountains were softened, and landslides 
were frequent and terrible. The next morning I pro- 
ceeded, and after I had traveled about fifteen miles 
I heard an unusual roar, although the landslides on both 
sides of the river kept up a continual noise worse than 

144 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

Looking up to the right I observed the tops of the 
trees moving. I ran back about two hundred yards to 
avoid a section of the country that was sliding down. 
About eighty acres of land slid down the mountain into 
the South Fork of the American River, which was 
about a thousand feet below the road, and dammed it 
for a considerable time. I waited until the moving of 
the crumbling mass ceased, and then ran across it, and 
found when I struck solid land that the house of the 
station was still standing, but the barns and horses and 
outbuildings had been carried down by the slide. The 
people were very much frightened, but inasmuch as it 
was all quiet then, they gave me a cup of coffee and 
some bread and I proceeded on my way. 

I ran and walked, and walked and ran, and arrived 
that night at Placerville, a distance of forty-eight miles 
from Strawberry Ranch. I stayed all night at Placer- 
ville. The next morning I tried to hire a horse but 
could not, and so bought one and rode it to Fulsom, 
a distance of about thirty-five or forty miles, and found 
that the flood was all over the valley and had carried 
away the railroad which ran from Sacramento to 
Fulsom. I waded my horse for about fifteen miles to 
a knoll some four miles from Sacramento, where there 
was nearly half an acre of ground that was not covered 
by water. 

There were two boats there, and I traded my horse 
to one of the boatmen, in order to reach Sacramento. 
The water was generally up to the second story of the 
buildings. I rowed to the house of Frank Hereford, 
which was on rather an elevated place, and there the 
water was only about one foot deep on the first floor. 
We spent the night on the second floor. The next 
morning I got the boatman to row me out in search of 
a steamer for San Francisco. Every available steamer 
had been sent out over the valley to pick up the people 
to take them to places of safety. 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 145 

After a long time I hailed a steamer bound for San 
Francisco, where I arrived that evening, and found my 
friend Chris Reis, executed to him a mortgage on the 
mine, got $32,000 in paper money and certificates of 
deposit, and started back. 

The return trip was not very difficult as the storm had 
substantially subsided, but no mail had passed over 
during my absence and I found the same party at Yanks 
that I had left there about a week before. 

I proceeded at once to Gold Hill and Virginia City, 
paid off the men, paid their board bills and paid for 
keeping the mules; but I had hard work selling the 
milks at any price, and practically gave them away, 
^ut the best of it all was, nobody knew I was broke, 
ancM was able to buy interests in mines that I knew to 
be good. With my law business, which was very lucra- 
tive, I recuperated my fortunes without ever exposing 
my loss.N In about ten days we sold the mine for 
$60,000 to the Graves brothers, who took from it 
several millionsN 

The first district court after the organization of the 
Territory was opened by Judge Gordon N. Mott in 
February, 1862. The calendar was loaded with all 
sorts of suits, most of them involving the question 
whether the porphyry belt containing the mines was 
one or more veins or lodes. 

The mass of porphyry in which all the veins or lodes 
were found lay against Mount Davidson, and the foot- 
wall of this mass pitched to the east at an angle of about 
40 degrees, while no regular hanging-wall was anywhere 
found. In fact, the distance to a different character of 
rock bounding the porphyry belt on the east was nearly 
a mile from the Virginia croppings where the foot-wall 
was found. 

Some of the advocates of the many-lead theory got 
into a conflict with each other, and had quite a lively 
litigation, in which I did not participate. It was only 


146 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

when an attack was made on the Comstock locations 
that I took a part. The most prominent of these side- 
shows was the contest between the Burning Moscow and 
the Madison companies. The claims for which they 
were contending were situated west of the Ophir. The 
stock in these two companies rose very high, and each 
in turn went up and down according to the public esti- 
mation of its respective chances of success. 

I will not burden the reader with the details of the 
famous litigation on the Comstock, the estimated 
expense of which rose to the enormous sum of 

While the contest between the Burning Moscow and 
the Madison companies was raging and nearly every 
company on the Comstock was fighting claimants of 
so-called parallel ledges to the Comstock, to avoid vast 
expenditures I suggested to the trustees of the ChoUar 
and other companies a plan of settlement. I told them 
to sell their stock in their Comstock locations and buy 
the Grass Valley claim, which was about 2000 feet 
long, and others located in that range, and then settle 
the Comstock litigation by drawing a perpendicular 
plane between the Grass Valley on the east and the 
Comstock locations on the west. Such a settlement 
would have excluded from the Comstock the great 
bodies of ore which were afterward found, and confined 
the Comstock locations to the first bodies of ore found 
near the surface. 

At that time it was impossible to satisfy my clients 
that the ground covered by the eastern locations was 
of any value, as they believed that all the value would 
be above the line suggested. If my advice had been 
taken, and the Comstock claims sold out for what they 
would bring, the owners of the Comstock would have 

♦Volume IV of Clarence King's U. S. Geological Survey, under 
the authority of Congress, contains a very good history of the 
Comstock mine and the litigation to settle titles. 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 147 

secured a great victory and made money in the opera- 
tion; but the Chollar and other companies refused to 
adopt my advice and the litigation proceeded. With 
regard to this, Mr. Lord*, after describing this effort 
for a settlement, comments as follows : 

Unfortunately, the trustees of the Chollar Company could not be 
persuaded to adopt Mr. Stewart's views, and he was reluctantly 
obliged to abandon his project and continue the fight If he was not 
successful as a peacemaker he had no reason to complain of his 
fortune as a contestant. The leading lawyers of the Pacific seaboard 
were employed in the various suits, and the California courts were 
for the first time deserted, so to speak, for the more profitable field 
of practice in the new Territory. The fees paid by the wealthier 
companies to their attorneys would have dazzled Hortensius and 
Scaevola, and were far in excess of those earned by the most com- 
petent coimsel in the Atlantic States. Benjamin R. Curtis, who 
resigned his seat on the United States Supreme Court bench to 
become the acknowledged leader of tlie Massachusetts bar, received 
an average return of $40,000 annually for his legal services during 
the seventeen years — 1857-1874, — while the professional income of 
Mr. Stewart during the years of fiercest litigation at Washoe was 
$200,000 annually. The Belcher Mining Company repaid his services 
with 100 feet of their claim, which he sold for $100,000, and the 
Yellow Jacket gave him $30,000 as a single fee. The rewards were 
princely^ but the labor was more exacting than the task of the 
slave, ^he vigor and earnestness with which he carried on the 
legal wa^are undisputed. Once enlisted as counsel in a case, he 
made the cause of the clients his own. He saw no foundation of 
justice in any claim of an opponent and left no stone unturned to 
achieve success. His own determination to win at any cost, and the 
belief that he would match his adversary with any weapons which 
the latter might employ exposed his course to sharp, if not merited, 
criticism; but he defied his critics to prove their assertions in the 
courts. It must be admitted that in offering this challenge he ran 
little risk, for the direct complication of so shrewd a lawyer in 
unwarrantable practices could scarcely be proveiK It is equally cer- 
tain that the Washoe bar, at that time, was not a nursery for tender 
consciences, and if he fought fire with fire he had not a few imi- 
tators and assistants. 

All might have been content to equal him in industry and devotion 
to the cause of his clients. In preparation for his cases he worked 

♦Elliott Lord's "History of the Comstock." 

148 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

day and night, seemingly incapable of fatigue. His mastery of the 
details of a case was so complete and his memory so accurate that 
daring the progress of a suit he took no notes, but he was able 
to refer in citation to testimony of the mast complex and contra- 
dictory character with extraordinary correctness. During the course 
of one trial, if several suits in which he was engaged were to be 
brought up in succession, it was his practice to prepare for them so 
fully, with the assistance of his associate counsel, that he rarely 
had occasion to request a postponement, but was ready to proceed 
to trial at a moment's notice. 

In addressing a jury he endeavored to make his statepient of 
the case as clear, straightforward, and simple as possible, avoiding 
carefully any semblance of legal quibble or trick. He placed him- 
self on their level of comprehension, spoke to them as man to 
man, appealed to their crude sense of justice and fairness, and 
strove to convey the idea that his clients were entitled to a verdict 
in equity even more than by law. His opponents protested that "he 
was endowed by nature with a faculty of imposing the sublimest 
absurdities upon juries as pure and spotless truth," but the success 
of his method was grumblingly admired. Though abstaining from 
legal finesse, he did not hesitate to resort to any device of rhetoric 
which could serve his end. The broadest sarcasm and ridicule were 
effective with a jury in a mining camp whom subtle wit, however 
brilliant, would have failed to impress. 

So in the notable case of the Yellow Jacket Mining Company, 
the determining cause of the verdict, as Mr. Stewart believes, was 
not the plea which he was able to make upon the merits of the 
case, but the discomfiture of a rival attorney, Mr. Frank Hereford, 
by a ridiculous comparison. Mr. Hereford, who represented the 
Union Company, had only recently arrived in the Territory, and it 
occurred to Stewart to annoy him, if possible, and make the jury 
laugh by alluding to his natural inexperience in conducting jury 
trials in Nevada. He compared Hereford accordingly with absurd 
gravity and minuteness of detail to a young broncho horse, un- 
trained and fresh from the plains, brought up into the thin, cold air 
of the mountain city, and his arguments were likened to the first 
efforts of the pony who pants and gasps in the new atmosphere. 
When the newcomer became acclimated and had recovered his wind, 
so to speak, he might be of some service, but till then Stewart 
hinted provokingly that he was unfit for rivalry with a trained 
old war-horse like himself. The badinage was not charged with a 
delicate wit, but it was eflFective in accomplishing the two-fold aim 
of provoking his rival and setting the rough jurymen in a roar of 
laughter. Hereford's attempted retorts were skilfully parried and 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 149 

his able presentation of the cause of his clients obtained little con- 

In the trial of another suit of the first importance, a different 
temper was manifested. The indignation of the jury and spectators 
was artfully excited by the bitter denunciation of the treachery of 
the leading witness until their passion was uncontrollable. In no 
other trial on the Comstock was such a flame of excitement kindled 
as in this suit of Sierra Nevada Mining Company vs. American 
Mining Company. 

The tract claimed under the location made by the Sierra Nevada 
Company had been seized upon by opposing claimants until the 
ground was honey-combed with prospect holes. Mr. Stewart was 
attorney for the Sierra Nevada Company in 1S62-63, as well as one 
of its trustees, and advised that suits should be brought against 
all locators on the disputed ground in order to quiet title, know- 
ing that many of the cases would never be contested or brought to 
trial, and that judgment by default would accordingly be obtained. 
His advice was taken, and a complaint was made by George D. Whit- 
ney, president of the Sierra Nevada Mining Company, setting forth 
the facts in the case at length and attesting them by his affidavit 
upon oath, as well as by the affidavits of others. The result was 
as the attorney had anticipated. Judgment was confessed by some 
of the claimants, but others, among whom was the American Min- 
ing Company, contested the Sierra Nevada title and forced the 
company to institute suits for ejectment. 

As the time set for the trial of the suit against the American 
Company approached (February 26, 1863) Mr. Stewart found to 
his surprise that no steps had been taken by the president of the 
Sierra Nevada Company to provide for the necessary initial ex- ' 
penses. Mr. Whitney had so far shown himself energetic and 
honorable in the conduct of the suits to quiet title, and his present 
course appeared inexplicable. Stewart wrote to the San Francisco 
office of the company but received no satisfactory answer. Finally 
only three days were left before the day of trial, and the attorney, 
suspecting treachery, determined to act on his own responsibility 
and promptly. He wrote to the trustees informing them of the 
singular course of the president, and urging that one, at least, 
should set out for Virginia City immediately to confirm his action; 
but knowing that no one could arrive in time to be of any service 
in the preparation for the trial, he set to work without further 
delay. His first act was to obtain the "sinews of war," as he said, 
from a reluctant money-lender. With $20,000 thus procured he 
employed surveyors to make an accurate map of the Sierra Nevada 
claim, and sent messengers on swift horses to Carson, Genoa, and 
all the valley towns for miles around to collect witnesses. 

150 Reminiscences of M^lliam M. Stewart 

Before the three days had expired he had prepared thoroughly 
the case for his clients, mustered a formidable array of witnesses, 
and was able to establish a plausible case on affirmative evidence 
without giving a clue to the course which he proposed to take in 
rebuttal. Mr. Charles H. S. Williams, who was accounted the 
ablest lawyer on the Coast in the trial of nisi prius suits, had been 
engaged to conduct the case for the American Company. This 
was the first time that he had ever been pitted against Mr. Stewart, 
and the latter was disposed to make the contest a sharp one, as Mr. 
Williams had alluded somewhat bitterly to him in the course of t 
previous trial. The Burning Moscow vs. The Madison Company. 

On the night before the trial, February 25, 1863, Mr. Whitney 
arrived on the stage from California, and he had hardly entered the 
city before Mr. Stewart telegraphed to the other trustees that they 
were betrayed and that the trial could not be postponed. He did 
not know Whitney's intentions, but suspected the truth, as was 
afterward ascertained, that the inducement held out to him was a 
large amount of stock in the American Company, which Whitney 
took after disposing of the greater part of his interest in the Sierra 

The trial began the next day in a crowded court-room. Mr. 
Stewart made out a prima facie case, as he anticipated, and con- 
tented himself at first with a concise statement of the facts, hint- 
ing at the singular action of Mr. Whitney, but purposely moderate 
in tone. Mr. Williams incautiously replied, committing himself 
more fully than he would have spoken on second thought in defense 
of Whitney, whom he proposed to call as a witness. This was 
Stewart's object, and when it fell to his turn to cross-examine Whit- 
ney, March 3, 1863, he contrived to obtain much more minute and 
positive affirmations than had been elicited in the direct examina- 
tion. Then he turned sharply on the witness and produced the com- 
plaint to which he had sworn six months before. He went over 
this sentence by sentence, showing a direct conflict of testimony 
on the important points. "Did you swear so and so," he would 
ask, "six months ago?" Whitney moved uneasily on the stand, 
hesitated, stammered, made evasive answers, and soon became 
utterly confused. Stewart pressed him more hotly than ever and 
drove him fairly to the wall. The crowd in the court-room, catch- 
ing the purport of these ringing questions and seeing the apparent 
faithlessness, became passionately excited, half through personal 
interest and half through a contagious sympathy. The trembling 
witness appealed to the judge, Hon. Gordon N. Mott, but the judge 
decided that the questions were pertinent and must be answered. 
Surrounded by a densely packed ring of threatening faces and 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 151 

assailed implacably by his inquisitor, Whitney suffered a keen torture 
for several hours on the stand. At last he was permitted to retire, 
but .the effect which the shrewd lawyer had aimed to produce was 

In summing up the case for the Sierra Nevada Company he had 
the opportunity for which he had been waiting, for the crowd 
in the court-room was already strongly moved by the develop- 
ments in the case and was prepared for the passionate invective 
and appeal which he knew how to make. He painted the act of 
Whitney in the darkest colors as the trick of a renegade, false to 
his duty, false to his friends, false to his honor. The witness had 
sworn to a tissue of lies which had been laid bare in all their 
blackness, and left the stand branded for life as a perjurer who had 
betrayed his trust. Scarcely less bitter was the attack upon the 
defending counsel. He styled the introduction of Whitney as a 
witness an unpardonable crime which was a burning disgrace to the 
conductors of the defense. It involved Williams as a guilty associ- 
ate in a shameful conspiracy and would remain an enduring stain 
upon the profession to which he belonged. The jury caught the 
passionate glow and heat of the speaker and bent forward eagerly 
to listen. The spectators muttered sympathy and crowded closely 
about the bar. When Stewart spoke his last fierce sentence an 
ominous murmur ran through the court-room. The attempted 
defense of Mr. Williams was ineffective. The jury was deaf with 
passion, and left their seats inflexibly prejudiced against the wit- 
ness Whitney and the case of the American Company. They did 
not waste time in reconciling possible differences. One man alone 
was inclined to protest against the action of the majority. They 
told him they would hang him if he persisted, and having a well- 
grounded faith in this assurance he yielded instantly, and a verdict 
was rendered at once for the plaintiff, the Sierra Nevada Company, 
March 5, 1863.* 

>^n four yoQTS I received $500,000 fees in the Com- 
stocK litigatioi^ 

♦In 187s, when Virginia City was burned down, all of Senator 
Stewart's records of the Comstock litigation and all newspaper 
files, were destroyed. Hence he was compelled to write from 
memory, and to quote Mr. Lord's history. 


Chollar and Potosi controversy — Exposure of bribed jurors — I turn 
the tables on my enemies — Three judges resign in on* day — 
$14,000 in greenbacks for information — The jockey skips. 

One of the leading controversies with regard to the 
Comstock lode arose between the Chollar and the 
Potosi. The Chollar was the old location and the 
Potosi the parallel location on the east. The Potosi 
entered upon the Chollar mine; the Chollar brought 
suit and recovered judgment. 

After judgment was obtained by the Chollar, the 
Potosi sunk down on the dip of the vein and claimed 
the ore as a separate lead. The Chollar again brought 
suit, and undoubtedly would have recovered if there 
had not been a change of judges. I quote again from 
Mr. Elliott Lord's **History of the Comstock" : 

Potosi stock, which had rallied somewhat, suffered another sharp 
decline, but the managers of the company were by no means dis- 
posed to give up the contest. A shaft was sunk accordingly, outside 
the eastern boundary surface line of the Chollar Company, and a 
deposit of rich ore was soon reached. The contention was instantly 
renewed, and cross suits were instituted by both companies. The 
managers of the Potosi Company believed that Judge Gordon N. 
Mott was biased in favor of the claims of the Chollar Company, and 
as the Chief Justice, George Turner, was accounted a Chollar 
partisan, they resolved to change the constitution of the bench by 
inducing Judge Mott to resign and obtaining the appointment of 
James W. North, a lawyer who was known to have a different 
opinion as to the rightfulness of their claims. How this plan was 
carried out was bluntly stated by the Virginia City Territorial 
Enterprise, July 26, 1864. fully endorsed by the Gold Hill Netvs of 
the same date, and subst-fiuontly confirmed by the decision of 
referees in a libel suit instituted Dccenibor 6, 1S64: "We assert 
that Judge North's place on the bench bought for him. The 
price paid was $25,0(.'0. Tlic pny-.^o was Gordon N. Mott. The 
person paying it was John Atchison, in behalf of the Potosi Com- 
pany. We believe that there was some flimsy pretext of railroad 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 153 

business which glossed over the payment of .the money to Mott, 
but it will not be pretended that the object of paying Mott was 
any other than to get North on the bench." 

Whether the appointment of North was bought with 
an underst-anding that he belonged to the litigators who 
bought him, or whether he had a peculiar mind is 
immaterial. Every decision he rendered in every case 
over which he presided, except one, exhibited evidence 
of a strong bias against the owners of the Comstock 
claim in the litigation with regard to the Potosi; while 
the court substantially held that a judgment in favor 
of the Chollar stopped the ChoUar from what was 
recovered by that same judgment. This may look para- 
doxical, but it was North's idea of justice. 

Judge Locke, who was put on the bench soon after 
North, was probably the most ignorant man who ever 
acted in any judicial capacity in any part of the world. 
While the case was being argued in the Supreme Court 
as to whether the Chollar was entitled to what it had 
won by the judgment of the court, Locke met an old 
friend from Missouri who was driving an ox team, and 
undertook to explain to him before some bystanders the 
question that was before the Supreme Court. His 
explanation was as follows : 

"You see the Potosi fellows say the Chollar fellows 
ought to be stopped and that they have no right to sue. 
Now, don't you think if anybody wants to sue, they 
have got a right to sue?" 

And the teamster said he did. But notwithstanding 
the sound advice given him by the teamster, Locke 
decided both ways several times on that important 

I do not wish to revive old scandals, besides, if I did 
It would take several volumes to tell all I know of 
the three judges who resigned in one day at my sugges- 
tion, the details of which I will briefly state. 

There was an extension north from the Potosi, called 

154 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

the North Potosi. It was a long claim lying parallel 
to the Hale and Norcross, the Savage, the Gould and 
Curry, and extending to some point below the Consoli- 
dated Virginia. 

A suit had been brought by the Savage Company 
against the North Potosi, and was one of the long- 
pending suits which had not been brought to trial. 
Immediately after the appointment of North, William 
R. Garrison and other speculative capitalists in San 
Francisco bought up the North Potosi and boomed 
the stock from $2 or $3 to $100 a share. It was 
impossible for the Savage Company to get a continu- 
ance, and the trial was had before Judge North as soon 
as possible after his appointment. I had for an assistant 
in that case R. P. Crittenden, an eminent lawyer from 
Kentucky, who afterward met with a violent death at 
the hands of the notorious Laura Fair. 

There was great difficulty in obtaining a jury to try 
the case, because every man with sufficient intelligence 
to sit upon the jury had committed himself on one 
side or other of the controversy. To my great astonish- 
ment, men came forward who had been active in 
litigation involving the question under consideration, 
and declared they had no opinion, bias or prejudice. 
Eight of the jurors whom I was compelled to accept I 
knew very well were violent partisans of the opposite 
side. Four, whom I knew to be men of character and 
sterling worth, confessed that they entertained an opin- 
ion that there were several parallel ledges in the 
Comstock formation, but they said in answer to my 
questions that they had no bias or prejudice that would 
prevent them from deciding according to law and the 
evidence. I realized that both the law and the evidence 
were on my side, because the Savage and the North 
Potosi were clearly connected in the same body of ore. 

I introduced witnesses to prove the title to the 
Savage, and that the Potosi was working in the body 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 155 

of ore which everybody conceded belonged to the 

The case of the plaintiffs was not a long or a difficult 
one, but a most disgraceful incident occurred when the 
defendant's counsel called their first witness. His name 
was Richard Brown, a person I knew very well, who 
had been deputy sheriff in Sierra County at the time of 
the trial of Ellis. The day before the trial Brown came 
to my office in company with Joe Stow, a sharp, slippery 
manipulator. Stow stated that if Brown could be 
induced to stay he would give very valuable testimony 
in favor of the Savage, and that if I would give him 
$500 he would stay, because he would lose that much 
by neglecting business which he had in a distant town. 
Knowing that he could give no testimony of any value 
to either side, I told him he had better go and attend 
to his business. 

He then went to Bob Morrow, who was at that time 
superintending the Savage mine, and told him he would 
give very damaging testimony against the Savage, but 
that if he would give him $500 he would go away and 
not give the testimony. Bob Morrow very inconsider- 
ately, and without consulting me, gave him the money. 

When called as a witness. Brown came forward very 
pompously and said that before he testified he desired 
to deposit in court $500, which the superintendent of 
the Savage had given him if he would leave and not 
give his testimony. I appreciated, from my knowledge 
of the parties and the circumstances, that it was t 
trick and that he had been paid for performing it, 
but my associate, Mr. Crittenden, very nearly 

I was sitting near enough to him to grasp his arm, 
and if I didn't make it black and blue I know I gave 
him great pain, for he evinced considerable agony. I 
whispered to him to say nothing until court adjourned 
for dinner. During the noon recess I told him I 

156 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

believed Dick Brown got $1,500 for playing that trick; 
but that did not restore his nerve. 

I saw from the conduct of the eight jurors and the 
pleasure they expressed at Brown's trick that they were 
in the game also. I was confident that they were bribed. 
The jury, after it was panelled, was kept separate in a 
room in charge of a little deputy who was a noted 
race jockey. 

His name at that time was Billy Brown. I deter- 
mined to ascertain from Billy Brown how the jury had 
been bribed. It would naturally be performed through 
him, as he was the very kind of a man they would use. 
I knew, however, that Billy would not dare tell me 
unless his safety was secured. He knew that if he let 
out the secret he would not live to old age. 

There was a celebrated old race-horse in the town, 
and as soon as court had adjourned I sent a man to buy 
the horse for $500, saddled and bridled it, and had 
it tied under my office window. 

I then hunted up Brown, and took him nolens volens 
to my room, locked the door, and told him I wanted a 
private conversation with him. 

**If you tell me what pay each juror has received, 
the conversation which has passed, and the kind of 
money paid, I will give you as much money as you paid 
the jury," I said. 

**Don't ask me such a question. I would be killed if 
I told," he replied. 

**Look down there; do you see what horse that is? 
If you were on that horse, do you think anybody could 
catch you?" 

"Not on your life I" said the jockey. 

I had provided myself with $14,000 in greenbacks 
on which there was a slight discount, but this was 
before greenbacks were very low. I took the money 
from my pocket. His eyes glistened, and with a foxy 
grin he told me how he had bribed eight members of 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 157 

the jury, paying them $13,000; the kind of money he 
had paid to each, and how much, and where the trans- 
actions took place; and he also repeated quite accur- 
ately what each juror had said. Four of the twelve 
he had not dared approach. 

When he had finished his story, which occupied fully 
an hour, I handed him the $14,000. Brown grabbed 
the money, ran down the stairs, and without waiting 
to go to his home to change his clothes, jumped on the 
race-horse and galloped away. Maybe he played jockey 
again, but if he ever did he must have changed his 
name. Anyhow, I never heard of Billy Brown after 

The testimony for the defense was not lengthy and 
was concluded the next day. The day following the 
argument commenced. Crittenden opened with a very 
1/me statement. 

/ Three able lawyers made strong speeches for the v^"^^^ 
I Potosi. They were Jim Hardy, one of the leading ^ 
/ attorneys in mining cases on the Pacific coast; Franl^p^-^^ 
I Hereford, who was afterward United States Senator 
V from West Virginia, and Todd Robinson, their star 
^^ttomey, who concluded. 

He had a habit of winding up an argument by faint- 
ing away and falling on the floor before a jury. He 
could play that trick so well that anybody would swear 
it was the real thing. 

As he reached his climax he swayed about, grabbed 
at the air, and fell flat on his back. The effect was 
electrical. The great mass of the people filling the 
court-room were interested in the many-ledge theory, 
and were crazy with joy at the apparent complete 
triumph of their case. 

I waited a moment for the restoration of order, and 
then proceeded. It so happened that the four jurors 
who had not been corrupted were at my left, near the 1 

end of the bench, toward the judge. The other eight 

158 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

were sitting together at the other end of the jury-box. 
I walked up to the most remote juror, looked at him a 
minute, — I presume with an earnest expression, for I 
was in earnest, — and told him in distinct language how 
a juror might be bribed. I illustrated it by repeating 
the conversation that had taken place between him and 
Billy Brown, telling him the place, the amount, and 
kind of money, and all the details of his corruption. 

Frank Hereford, who had apparently fainted away, 
sprang to his feet and protested against my manner of 
addressing the jury. 

I turned to the judge and demanded that he should 
look at that juror and tell me if my argument was not 
in order. By that time everybody was looking at the 
juror, who fell back in his seat, pale and trembling. 
The judge, taken by surprise, said in a low tone, 
"Go on." 

I then addressed the next juror, and the next, until 
I completed the panel of the eight, giving every detail 
of the bribery. Before I concluded the eight were so 
agitated and prostrated that everybody knew they had 
been bribed. I then took a map and proceeded to dis- 
cuss the merits of the case with the other four jurors. 
I said: 

"Gentlemen of the jury, you truthfully said on your 
oath before you were sworn in as jurors, that you could 
render a verdict according to the law and evidence, and 
here is the evidence. Both companies are working in 
the same vein; the Savage is the prior location, and 
whether there are many or few ledges, the Potosi is 
certainly on the ledge of the Savage. But this jury will 
never discuss this matter in the jury-box; you four 
will never discuss it with the eight; you see the 
reason why." 

The jury went out, and within an hour they were 
called in. They informed the court they never would 
agree, and never would discuss the subject together. 

Reminiscences of William M* Stewart 159 

and they were discharged. Three of the jurors, one 
after another, rushed to my office and begged me not 
to prosecute them. I simply told them to go home and 
attend to their business. 

The Potosi stock fell to some five or six dollars a 
share the next day, and I telegraphed to my clients to 
secure a majority of the stock, which they did. That 
was the last great struggle between the Comstock and 
the parallel ledges. There were, however, various set- 
tlements, but nothing affecting the main question. The 
Comstock people having control of the North Potosi, 
that company consented that the controversy between it 
and the Gould and Curry, which lay north of the Sav- 
age, should be submitted to John Nugent as referee. 
He heard at length the testimony as to whether or not 
the porphyry belt contained more than one lode, and he 
made a report, demonstrating by conclusive proof and 
argument the one-ledge theory. His report is given at 
length in the book of Mr. Gordon of Clarence King's 
Geological Survey party. 

Judge North partially regained my confidence by his 
fairness in the trial of the Savage against the North 
Potosi. It is true he had very little opportunity to be 
unfair, for if he had stopped me in my argument to the 
jury, with the one juryman already fainting, the effect 
on him would have been disastrous. 

I could not afford to wink at any act of bribery or 
corruption perpetrated by any of my clients on the 
Comstock. If the community had really become sus- 
picious of my honesty, my lease on life would have been 
short, and my clients would have been overwhelmed, 
because nine-tenths of the community were interested 
in parallel vein locations. Judge North, aside from the 
question of his appointment to office, was, to say the 
least, a very indiscreet man. He built a quartz mill 
with money borrowed from litigants. He crushed ore 
for the Comstock companies, particularly the Gould and 

160 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

Curry, and was continually demanding better ore out 
of which he could make more money. 

To save myself and my clients from reproach, I 
denounced North publicly as a dishonest judge, and my 
charges were reiterated in the public press. I also 
denounced the Chief Justice, George Turner, as cor- 
rupt. As for Judge Locke, he was too ignorant for 
denunciation. Partisans of the judges defended them 
in the public press, but in turn they were overwhelmed 
with counter-charges. 

Finally a notice was published that the Supreme 
Court would meet on a certain Monday, and that it 
would strike my name from the bar. It so happened 
that Abe Meyer, who was a money-lender and a remark- 
ably bright business man, frequented my office, and in 
emergencies, such as the Sierra Nevada against the 
American, he furnished me money to prepare for the 
trial. It was paid by the company with a good com- 
mission. It was very convenient to have an emergency 
man in those times. 

About two months before this notice appeared, some 
parties entered upon the Hale and Norcross, of which 
Meyer was president, without any show of title, and 
began removing ore. I brought suit for an injunction, 
which was readily granted by Chief Justice Turner. 
The suit was so simple, and the injunction so absolutely 
proper, that no one would have supposed it necessary 
to bribe the judge, but I was sufficiently familiar with 
the greed of Judge Turner to entertain a different 

When I received the notice that I would be dis- 
barred I told Meyer I wanted an affidavit with the 
exhibits showing that he paid Turner for the Hale and 
Norcross injunction. He hesitated, and I told him that 
it was necessary for me to have them. He said, "I sees 
if I gets 'em," and went out. He came back in about 
three minutes with a receipt signed by Turner for 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 161 

$2,000 and a check drawn in favor of Judge Turner 
for $3,000 and endorsed by him, making a total of 
$5,000 paid for the injunction. 

I drew an affidavit and attached the receipt and 
check as exhibits. When the court met at Carson, I 
appeared at the bar with Meyer standing beside me, 
and I occasionally pulled out the affidavit and some 
other documents I had and looked them over, and 
looked up at the court. 

As soon as the judges were seated on the bench. 
Judge North announced his resignation. Judge Turner 
then announced that court would take a recess until 
seven o'clock that evening. He sent word to me that 
if I would let up on him he would resign. I sent back 
word that he must put his resignation in a letter 
addressed to the President, and also in a telegraphic 
dispatch ; that he must put both in an unsealed envelope 
and deliver them to me before he went on the bench, 
or I would swear out a warrant before the justice of 
the peace and have him arrested for bribery. He sent 
the resignations as demanded. I mailed one and tele- 
graphed the other. 

At seven o'clock Judge Turner came into court and 
made a self-glorifying speech, in which he reviewed his 
course, and spoke of his kindly relations with all the 
bar, and his pleasant judicial duties. He said that inas- 
much as the resignation of Judge North had destroyed 
the usefulness of the court for business, he would 
resign, and the bystanders gave him room to go out. 

I thought it was about time for me to express my 
appreciation of the situation, so I invited the bar, over 
one hundred being present, to an evening's entertain- 
ment. It was then nearly eight o'clock. Pete Hop- 
kins's saloon was under the room where the court was 
held, and there was a very large back room in which 
various entertainments took place, such as dances and 
other festivities not quite so reputable. We gathered 

162 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

in there and elected H. O. Beatty president of the meet- 
ing, as he was the oldest man in the party. 

After the champagne and other good things were 
brought in, and the party were drinking, smoking, and 
telling stories, I stated to the president that it was in 
order to call Judge Locke and allow him to resign. 
I knew very well that Judge Locke would avoid 
appearance if possible, so I moved that two young law- 
yers, physically strong and endowed with a reasonable 
amount of courage, be appointed as a committee to 
fetch him to the meeting. "If he is locked in his room," 
said I, **locks can be broken." 

They found him in his room, dressed him hurriedly, 
and seated him on a bench by my side. Judge Beatty 
in fatherly language told him that the object of the 
meeting was to give him an opportunity to resign ; that 
the other two judges had resigned and that we wanted 
a new bench. 

Locke turned to me for advice, and asked what I 
thought he ought to do. 

"Do?" said L "Resign, and do it quick!" I called 
to one of the gentlemen who was serving the good 
things to appease the appetite, to bring pen and ink. 
"Now," I added, "write your resignation." 

It was read aloud, to be sure that it was all right, 
signed and mailed; after which the. whole meeting 
became hilarious, and Judge Locke imbibed so freely 
that he became more stupid than usual. 

The condition of the judiciary was a very potent 
argument in favor of State government. The Adminis- 
tration at Washington undertook to appoint more Ter- 
ritorial judges, and President Lincoln nominated John 
F. Swift for Chief Justice. I called a meeting of the 
bar and passed resolutions to the effect that we wanted 
no more courts until Nevada became a State. We were 
tired of Territorial judges. 

Swift, under the circumstances, declined to accept 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 163 

the position, but said he would get even by writing a 
book exhibiting the condition and character of the 
Nevada bar. He wrote the book, which was humorous 
and reasonably good-natured, and styled it '^Robert 
Greathouse." The soubriquet which he gave me was 
rather high-sounding, being Mr. Napoleon B. Spelter. 
He made me one of the heroes of his novel, although 
I am unable to appreciate his flattery. Afterward I 
became well acquainted with him as a public man and 
a gentleman. He was for a long time Minister to 


Condemned to death by a mob of miners at Virginia City — I master 
the situation and prove the strength of my friends — Nevada 
becomes a State — Elected to the United States Senate December 
15, 1864 — I draw the long term. 

In the spring of 1864 the question of reducing the 
wages of miners from $4 to $3.50 a day was dis- 
cussed among the mine holders. Charley Bonner, who 
was then superintendent of the Gould and Curry, 
expressed the opinion that wages were too high. The 
miners took the alarm, organized, and in a body 800 
strong closed down every mine on the Comstock. In 
the evening they met at Gold Hill and discussed the 
situation, and many violent speeches were made, 
threatening every suspected individual. 

Somebody suggested that I was one of the guilty 
parties and ought to be hanged. He put the question, 
and the crowd unanimously voted to string me up. One 
of my friends who was at the meeting came to my house 
in Virginia City at three o'clock in the morning, awoke 
me, and told me what was going on. I went back to 
bed and slept until my usual time of getting up, about 
half-past six. 

After breakfast friends told me that the miners were 
marching up from Gold Hill in a body extending more 
than a mile in length, and that I had better get out 
of the way. Accordingly I went down to C Street in 
Virginia City and saw the miners coming about two 
blocks away. I waited their arrival and then called 

"Appoint a committee and have this matter inves- 

They named a committee. We went up on a hotel 
balcony, where we could be seen, and began to arbi- 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 165 

trate. In about two or three hours we had prepared 
a resolution which was satisfactory to the miners. It 
was agreed that wages should remain at $4 per day; 
that those who had been promoters of the scheme to 
hang me should not be discriminated against, and that 
friendly relations should be restored. We could not 
find the superintendents, all of whom had fled, so we 
took an adjournment until evening. Then we found 
several of the superintendents, but it was impossible to 
get them to the meeting. They were afraid of being 

Charley Bonner had taken refuge in the attic of a 
French restaurant, where there was not over two feet 
between the ceiling and the roof, with an enormous 
range, cooking for several hundred people, beneath. 
He was nearly dead with heat and fear. We dragged 
him out by the legs and put him in a cooler place, and 
when the meeting convened again in the evening we 
told the miners that we could find the superintendents 
in due time; if not, we would appoint others; that our 
resolutions should be carried out and that we should 
stand by them. 

The miners dispersed, and the next day the superin- 
tendents began to return when they found their necks 
were safe. My friends congratulated me on the position 
I took in meeting the mob, but they did not know as 
well as I did the number of friends I had among them, 
and that a mob is not dangerous when you give it 
something to do. It is resistance without action that 
makes a mob dangerous. 

In about six weeks or two months from the time 
the miners decided to hang me, the Legislature was 
about to be nominated for the new State government, 
and the general election for State officers was held on 
the same day. 

There was in Storey County a Union League which 
was organized at the breaking out of the war, and 

166 Reminiscences of William M. Stev -\rt 

had continued its regular meetings up to that time. 
There were 3,700 members of that League in Virginia 
City and Gold Hill. Several gentlemen thought they 
were particularly qualified for United States Senator. 

I proposed to them to submit it to the Union League 
without argument, their preference to be an instruction 
to the members of the Legislature afterward elected. 
The proposition was accepted and an agreement was 
signed and handed over to the League. 

In due time the vote was taken, and of the 3,700 
I had 3,640. I thought this a pretty good refutation 
of the criticisms of my opponents in the litigations dur- 
ing the four stormy years preceding. In fact, I 
regarded it, and still regard it, as my vindication 
against all charges and insinuations that I adopted or 
countenanced any improper action in the great Com- 
stock case. 

^/^hen the Enabling Act was passed by Congress 
on jMarch 21, 1864, authorizing Nevada to enter the 
Union, it was understood that the Government at 
Washington was anxious that Nevada should become 
a State in order that her Senators and Representatives 
might assist in the adoption of amendments to the Con- 
stitution in aid of the restoration of the Southern States 
after the Union should be vindicated by the war. 
Another and very important factor in inducing the 
people to vote for Statehood was the unsatisfactory 
judiciary condition under a Territorial form of 

The Territorial election at which the State Consti- 
tution was submitted to the vote of the people occurred 
September 7, 1864. There was a large majority for 
the Constitution, and October 31, 1864, President Lin- 
coln issued a proclamation, as provided by the Enabling 
Act, declaring Nevada a State of the Union. 

Nevada having become a State, a general election 
was held November 8, 1864, at which State and County 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 167 

officers were elected. The total vote cast at that elec- 
tion was 16,328. 

The Legislature met December 15, 1864, at Carson 
City, the capital, and elected me to the United States 
Senate on the first ballot, and James W. Nye, my col- 
league, was elected the following day. 

After receiving our credentials. Senator Nye and I 
proceeded to Washington by the Panama route, and 
were sworn in February i, 1865, after which we drew 
lots to decide who should have the long term. By 
accident the long term fell to me. It expired March 
4, 1869N 


Lincoln as I knew him — Stanton and the rich Israelite — A White 
House joke on a couple of Senatorial wits — Lincoln's method 
of transacting business — No Cabinet officers, only messenger 
boys — The President's joke on Alexander H. Stephens — Peace 
Conference at Fortress Monroe — The new Cabinet — Horace 
Greeley grows wise. 

The morning after I took my seat in the Senate I 
called upon President Lincoln at the White House. He 
received me in the most friendly manner, taking me by 
both hands, and saying: 

"I am glad to see you here. We need as many loyal 
States as we can get, and, in addition to that, the gold 
and silver in the region you represent has made it pos- 
sible for the Government to maintain sufficient credit 
to continue this terrible war for the Union. I have 
observed such manifestations of the patriotism of 
your people as assure me that the Government can rely 
on your State for such support as is in your power." 

Mr. Lincoln's countenance when in repose was the 
saddest I ever saw, but when he smiled to encourage a 
visitor, or desired to show him the impossibility of 
granting his request, his face would overflow with 
genial good humor; and he would usually tell an 
anecdote which would illustrate the situation and 
invariably induce his visitor to agree with him, whether 
he granted or refused the request. 

Washington, in the winter of 1 864-1 865, was a sorry- 
looking city. The streets were cut up by great army 
wagons until they were nearly impassable. Hundreds 
of colored men carried boards around on their shoulders, 
and, for a consideration, assisted pedestrians to cross the 
"thoroughfares," and aided persons riding in carriages 
to reach the sidewalks when their vehicles mired down. 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 169 

A trip from the Capitol to the White House fre- 
quently occupied an hour, and sometimes two hours, 
and one's hack very often would be stalled hub deep in 
the mud in Pennsylvania Avenue, and one would have 
to climb out and wade ashore, and continue one's journey 
on foot, or hail another hack and take another chance. 
The streets leading to the White House were in a horri- 
ble condition, but when one reached there, and had 
scraped some of the grime off, and cleaned up, the 
reception he received from President Lincoln was more 
than compensating. 

Every morning at ten o'clock the doors of the White 
House were opened. Mr. Lincoln had a habit of stand- 
ing in a doorway between two rooms, where he received. 
Senators and Representatives, calling upon business, 
passed him in line, and when they had informed him 
of their wants they would leave by the door where the 
President stood, and thus there was no congestion. The 
dispatch with which Mr. Lincoln transacted business 
by this plan was marvellous. 

Mr. Lincoln seemed to anticipate the business of 
every caller, and attended instantly to each case pre- 
sented, so that in the course of one morning he could 
meet nearly every member of the Senate and House. 
He would often receive as many as a hundred repre- 
sentative men in two hours. 

If an important matter, which required more time, 
arose, the President would make an appointment for 
a later meeting. No person of either political party 
ever visited Abraham Lincoln in vain, and ninety-nine 
out of every one hundred of his visitors decided their 
own cases, for or against themselves. The President 
had a way of letting his callers arrange things, but 
strange to say, the things were always arranged the 
way Mr. Lincoln wanted them, and persons who had 
met him to insist on something would go away without 
it, and wondering how they could have wanted it. 

170 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

The White House, at that time, was plainly fur- 
nished. It was the simple home of a simple man. 
President Lincoln was the greatest man this hemisphere 
has produced. Without schooling he wrote the best 
English; without education in rhetoric or logic he was 
the most conclusive reasoner; without the slightest pre- 
tension to oratory he was the most persuasive speaker 
of his time. He was the kindest, most benevolent and 
humane man of his generation. Whoever may be second 
as a scholar, as a statesman and as a friend of humanity, 
Lincoln must always be first. 

I stood in line one morning with quite a number of 
Senators behind me. My colleague. Senator Nye, 
came up to me and handed me a package of papers 
on the outside of which was indorsed in a bold hand, 

"The Application of for restoration to his 

position as sutler." 

My business with Mr. Lincoln not being very im- 
portant, was dispatched at once, and I then held the 
package in my hand, saying to him that my colleague 
had requested that I present the papers to him. 

He read the indorsement at a glance, and said: 

"That is a case of a rich Israelite. He has been 
removed at the request of Mr. Stanton. Mr. Stanton 
says he is dishonest and cannot be trusted. If I should 
interfere in the matter it would cause a heated con- 
troversy with Mr. Stanton. You tell Brother Nye what 
I have said, and if he thinks the matter of sufficient 
importance to require me to quarrel with Mr. Stanton, 
to come and see me and give me his reasons." 

I took the message to Nye, and he declared in lan- 
guage more emphatic than polite that he should not 
visit the President for any such purpose. It was appar- 
ent that my colleague knew Mr. Lincoln pretty well, 
and that he did not want to hear an anecdote. 

Senator Nesbit of Oregon, and Senator Nye, enjoyed 
the reputation of being humorous and amusing story- 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 171 

tellers. Mr. Lincoln, within a week of our arrival, 
gave a dinner at the White House to the Senators of 
the West. His invitations were first verbal and then in 
writing. He told his guests that he had two match- 
less story-tellers to entertain them. 

When we were seated around the table both Sen- 
ators were so abashed that every shadow of wit 
departed from them, and it devolved upon Mr. Lin- 
coln to put the party in good humor. He accomplished 
that to the satisfaction of everybody. He told stories 
on Nesbit and Nye until the dinner party became 
hilarious. Their discomfiture was complete, but finally, 
after they were thoroughly cornered, they rallied and 
contributed to the good-fellowship of the dinner. 

Lincoln's manner of dispatching business of all kinds 
was remarkable. In February, 1865, I received a tele- 
graphic dispatch from Nevada, informing me that the 
United States District Attorney and the Register of 
the Land Office were beginning prosecution against the 
people for cutting timber on the public lands. No 
surveys had been made, no lands had been sold, and 
there was no other place to obtain timber or firewood 
except by trespassing upon the public domain. This 
had been a universal practice, from the valleys of Cali- 
fornia to the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains, 
for more than twenty years. 

I took the dispatch to Joseph Wilson, the Commis- 
sioner of the General Land Office. He immediately 
turned to the law and the instructions to local officers, 
and told me that he could do nothing, as they were dis- 
charging their duty under the law. 

I then called on Mr. Browning, the Secretary of the 
Interior, and obtained a similar reply. 

I then went to Mr. Lincoln and told him. It was 
not necessary for me to explain, for he knew there 
was no private land upon which to cut timber, and that 
the people could not exist without firewood and lumber. 

172 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

He shoved a tablet across the table and asked me if 
I knew of two citizens in my State who could discharge 
the duties of District Attorney and Register of Lands. 
I told him I did. 

"Please write their names on that tablet," he said. 

I did so and he indorsed it, directing the Attorney- 
General and Secretary Browning to make out commis- 
sions for the appointment of these gentlemen. He rang 
the bell, gave the order to a messenger, turned to me, 
and entered into a pleasant conversation as if nothing 
had happened. 

At the time Mr. Lincoln met Alexander H. Stephens 
and others at Fortress Monroe for the purpose of dis- 
cussing the question of peace, shortly after I had taken 
my seat, the Republican Senate was thrown into con- 
siderable excitement. 

A caucus was called and speeches were made criti- 
cising the President for leaving the White House and 
assuming such a hazardous undertaking. I was seated 
near William Pitt Fessenden of Maine, who was an 
able man and an acknowledged leader in the Senate. 
I remarked to him privately that I saw no occasion 
for any uneasiness. I said I believed Mr. Lincoln 
could take care of himself ; besides, he had a large part 
of his Cabinet with him. 

"My young friend," said Fessenden, putting his hand 
on my shoulder, "I see you have a very high opinion 
of Mr. Lincoln; but you are mistaken if you suppose 
he has a Cabinet. Mr. Lincoln has never had a 
Cabinet. The heads of the Departments who are called 
Cabinet officers are his clerks and messenger-boys, and 
whether they know it or not, they always do what he 
wants them to do. He might just as well be alone at 
Fortress Monroe as to have any of his Cabinet with 

This gave me a still clearer idea of Mr. Lincoln's 
superior power. Mr. Fessenden had served in the 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 173 

Cabinet for a considerable time as Secretary of the 
Treasury and knew what he was saying. 

Stephens told an amusing story to his neighbors 
after his return to Georgia from the conference at 
Fortress Monroe. He was a little man, with no physi- 
cal strength, and when he went North to Fortress 
Monroe he suffered intensely from the cold. 

He bundled up in several layers of clothing, over- 
coats, shawls, and a great cap, until he resembled a 
very large man. Stephens said that President Lincoln 
looked down at him as he took off his wraps and 
emerged from his shelter, and said: 

"Well, that's a mighty little ear for so much shucks." 
Stephens said that Mr. Lincoln's expression was so 
comical that he enjoyed the joke on himself. 

When Mr. Lincoln formed his first Cabinet, on 
March 4, 1861, selecting Salmon P. Chase of Ohio for 
Secretary of the Treasury, and William H. Seward of 
New York for Secretary of State, every man of promi- 
nence whom I met predicted trouble in the council- 
room. Chase and Seward had been candidates for the 
nomination against Lincoln and were still very ambi- 
tious. Everybody supposed they would either dominate 
him or greatly embarrass his Administration; but 
after the Cabinet was formed it was soon ascertained 
that they were as children in his presence. 

Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania, a most conspicuous 
and able leader, was made Secretary of War, but he 
soon became Minister to Russia, and Edwin M. Stanton, 
of Pennsylvania, was appointed in his place, January 
15, 1862. All of the other members of the Cabinet 
were strong men and experienced in political affairs. 

Seward was scholarly and adroit and was able to 
frame diplomatic letters to meet the emergencies in 
which the country was involved, for the consideration 
of the President, who, with his own hand, interlined 
and changed them in such manner as to maintain the 

174 Reminiscences of William M.. Stewart 

dignity of the United States, and avoid foreign wars, 
and at no time furnish an excuse to the nations of 
Europe to recognize the Southern Confederacy. The 
wisdom of the supervision exercised by Mr. Lincoln 
over the Department of State was so eminently just and 
proper that Mr. Seward acquiesced without complaint. 

Secretary Chase expected to be the successor of Mr. 
Lincoln at the expiration of his first term, but the 
popularity of Lincoln grew so rapidly as to eclipse the 
prospects of Chase, and the ambitious Secretary of 
the Treasury willingly retired from the contest and 
accepted the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme 
Court of the United States, a place for which he was 
better qualified. 

The great man of the Cabinet, however, was Stan- 
ton, the most learned, patriotic and earnest worker in 
the cause of the Union that served in any capacity dur- 
ing the war. One can scarcely realize the trials and 
anxieties of the Department of War during the most 
tremendous struggle of ancient or modem times, 
through which the country passed during four years of 
civil strife. Stanton remained at his post from the 
beginning to the end, but when the war had closed so 
great had been the tension his nerves were unstrung, 
and death alone could relieve him of his sufferings. 

When President Johnson attempted to remove him 
from the office of Secretary of War, without the con- 
sent of the Senate, and contrary to the provisions of the 
Civil Service Act, passed by Congress over the veto of 
the President, I was selected to spend several nights 
in the office with Secretary Stanton. He could not 
sleep, because his duties had kept him awake so con- 
tinuously that he had practically lost the power of 
sleep. He told me of many incidents of the rebellion, 
things which he could not help, but which cost him 
pain. I am confident that he never did a harsh or inhu- 
mane act which he could avoid. I know his critics 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 175 

misjudged him for a cruel tyrant because he did his 
duty, and did not credit him with the kind and generous 
heart which bled for the sufferings of others while 
powerless to avert them. 

Mr. Lincoln was the only public man who con- 
stantly wrote letters to friends and foes and gained 
strength and popularity by every one. Horace Greeley 
was very anxious for the issuance of a proclamation 
abolishing slavery, and on August 19, 1862, wrote 
Mr. Lincoln an earnest, impatient, and rather arrogant 
letter demanding the immediate abolition of slavery, 
to which Mr. Lincoln made the following reply: 

Executive Mansion, 
Washington, Friday, August 22, 1862. 
Hon. Horace Greeley. 

Dear Sir : I have just read yours of the 19th instant, addressed 
to myself through the New York Tribune. 

If there be any statements or assumptions of facts which I 
may know to be erroneous, I do not now and here controvert them. 

If there may be any inferences which I may believe to be falsely 
drawn, I do not now and here argue against them. 

If there be perceptible in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I 
waive it in deference to an old friend whose heart I have always 
supposed to be right. 

As to the policy I **seem to be pursuing," as you say, I have not 
meant to leave any one in doubt. I would save the Union. I 
would save it in the shortest way under the Constitution. 

The sooner the National authority can be restored, the nearer the 
Union will be — the Union as it was. 

If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could 
at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. 

If there be those who would not save the Union unless they 
could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. 

My paramount object is to save the Union and not cither to save 
or destroy slavery. 

If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do 
it — and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it — and 
if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would 
also do that. 

What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because I 
believe it helps to save the Union, and what I forbear, I forbear 
because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. 

176 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts 
the cause, and shall do more whenever I believe doing more will 
help the cause. 

I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors, and I shall 
adopt new views so fast as they will appear to be true views. 

I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official 
duty, and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish 
that all men everywhere could be free. 


A. Lincoln. 

In conversation with Mr. Greeley afterward, he said 
that Lincoln had knocked him out with one letter and 
he would be d if he would ever write another. 

It was currently reported in Washington, and 
assumed to be a fact, that a delegation of ministers 
from New England called on the President and 
requested him to remove General Grant from the army 
on account of intemperance. This was after Grant 
had made a name for himself in the West. Mr. Lin- 
coln is reported to have said to the reverend gentlemen 
that Grant was his best general and that he wished 
he could make them all as good. He thought it would 
be a good idea if they could find out what kind of 
liquor he drank, so he could send them all the same 
kind. He accompanied his expressions with such 
inimitable good humor, and praised the good they had 
done in the cause to such an extent, that they all went 
away satisfied; and, if not fully convinced, they 
admitted to themselves that it might be a good thing 
to distribute that kind of whiskey generally among the 
officers of the Army. 



Zach Chandler's conspiracy to invade Canada — An army of Grant's 
and Lee's veterans to whip the British — Farragut and the 
Charleston mines — Sheridan characterizes the French army as 
a mob— With Lincoln at City Point— A dash on the Rebel lines. 

During the latter part of February, 1865, it became 
evident that the Civil War was drawing to a close, 
and there was great joy in Washington, and intense 
relief felt among the officers at the helm of govern- 
ment when the surrender at Appomattox, April 9, 1865, 
virtually terminated the frightful struggle. 

England had wiped our commerce from the seas by 
building the Alabama, the Florida, the Shenandoah, 
and other swift privateers for the Confederates, which 
were let loose upon the shipping of the United States. 
There is no doubt that this country had ample cause 
for war with Great Britain, and there was a strong 
undercurrent of sentiment in favor of it. 
^enator Zach Chandler of Michigan was one of the 
lea^rs of the Senate, and a man of wealth and patriot- 
ism. No Senator contributed more in brains and action 
to assist the Union cause than he. He wished to see 
the speedy restoration of the Southern States, and was 
anxious to smite the British Lion for the destruction of 
our commerce. He inaugurated a movement which 
secretly spread with great rapidi^v, and brought us 
almost to a rupture with England.yAt that time our 
ships of trade had been obliterates from every ocean, 
and the American flag, which once had been carried by 
our fast sailing ships to every port, had disappeared. 
We had no navy, but practically every harbor was 
protected by the iron-clads, called monitors, which had 
been invented and built during the war. Our big sea- 
coast cities were so thoroughly defended, therefore, that 

178 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

no foreign enemy could have made a successful assault 
upon us by sea. There were no other iron-clads in the 
world, we had a monopoly, and not a wooden ship on 
earth — and all the European navies were wooden — 
would have had a show against them. 

This started Senator Chandler thinking, and he 
evolved a daring scheme. His bitterness against Eng- 
land seemed to increase after the war had been ter- 
minated. One day he drew me aside in the Senate 
cloak-room, and unfolded his plan. 

**I propose that we take an appeal to President Lin- 
coln," he said, *'signed by influential men, to call an 
extra session of Congress, and send two hundred thou- 
sand trained veterans into the British possessions north 
of us; one hundred thousand picked troops from the 
Federal Army, and the same number from the flower 
of Lee's army. I have thought of this seriously for 
weeks, and I shall make every effort to bring it about." 
He was intensely in earnest, and I knew that he would 
back his plan up with all the brains and energy at his 

**We have confronting us," he continued, **a great 
problem. Our country is rent in twain.^If we could 
march into Canada an army composed of men who 
have worn the gray side by side with the men who have 
worn the blue to fight against a common hereditary 
enemy it would do much to heal the wounds of the war, 
y '> hasten reconstruction, and weld ^he North and South 
^^ together by a bond of friendshipX 

(V **I believe from my knowledge^f human nature that 

those fellows who have been fighting each other for the 
past four years would sail in and lick any army on the 
face of the globe, and be glad, and proud, and anxious 
to do it. I believe that a hundred thousand of Grant's 
men and a hundred thousand of Lee's could whip any 
army of twice the size on earth. I don't believe there 
are any such soldiers as these in the whole world. 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 179 

**It would be impossible for England and the 
Canadians to organize an armed force to meet the 
splendid army of veterans we could throw across the 
border. England has a navy, of course, but she can't 
do us any harm, because we haven't any commerce to 
be injured, and our ports are impregnable. England's 
wooden vessels would be helpless against our monitors, 
and our harbors and coast cities would be safe." 

It was Senator Chandler's idea, of course, that the 
United States should seize Canada from Great Britain 
in payment for the enormous losses inflicted upon our 
commerce by British-built vessels sold to the Con- 
federate Government. He talked this matter over with 
me many times. The prospect of extending our north- 
cm boundary to the North Pole pleased him. I fell in 
with the plan almost from the beginning. Senator 
Chandler unfolded his plot to many other Senators, and 
it was discussed seriously. At that time Alaska was 
about to be annexed, and it was realized that the Brit- 
ish possessions in Canada would come in handy. 

Finally, so far had the plot progressed that thirty 
Senators had been pledged to support it, and I attended 
many informal caucuses at which the next steps to be 
taken were discussed. 

Then, at almost the very instant the scheme was to 
be sprung upon the country, and pressure brought to 
bear upon the President to secure his cooperation, Mr. 
Lincoln was assassinated. This made the carrying out 
of the plan impossible. From the very first day John- 
son took the oath of office as President he was at war 
with Congress, and the invasion of Canada never 
materialized. Chandler's faith and enthusiasm in the 
scheme won some of the best minds in the Senate to his 

It was about this time that I had the good fortune 
to enjoy the friendship of two of the most remark- 
able men produced by the Civil War, Admiral Farra- 

180 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

gut and General Sheridan. Each had a hobby, and 
was a most interesting companion. 

In the spring of 1865 Admiral Farragut and his 
wife and Mrs. Stewart and I lived at the old Willard 
Hotel, and at meals sat at the same table. The old 
sea-fighter was modest in telling of his deeds, and did 
not regard any of his exploits as being in the least 
extraordinary. His principal hobby was that it was 
always wise in battle to take a city at the expense of 
losing a ship, and he believed that vessels generally 
could enter harbors and pass forts and mines without 
great loss. 

He frequently told me that a vital mistake had been 
made when it was decided not to send the Federal 
Navy into Charleston Harbor for the purpose of tak- 
ing that city. The fall of Charleston, he believed, 
would have been of immense advantage to the United 
States, might have terminated the war speedily, and 
would have saved lives and property. 

I told the Admiral that it was the general opinion 
among the people of the North that Charleston Har- 
bor was strongly fortified with mines, or dangerous 
torpedoes, and that it would have been destructive to 
any fleet to have ventured into it. 

"Some of the ships might have been hurt," said 
Admiral Farragut, '*but that's the fortune of war. It 

was their duty to go in and take the city — to 

with the mines." The Admiral alluded to this subject 
many times, and it seemed to be a question of much 
interest with him. Finally, about the first of June, he 
came into the dining-room one morning and handed a 
newspaper to me. 

**What didi tellyou? Read that." 

I read the article, which stated that the harbor of 
Charleston had been dredged, and no torpedoes found 
which would explode. 

General Sheridan's hobby was as to how many men 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 181 

really fought in battle. When the Franco-Prussian 
war began, President Grant designated him to visit 
Germany, accompany the German army, and make 
observations on the war. I chanced to be in New York 
the day before Sheridan sailed. 

Chester A. Arthur, who was afterward President, 
was Collector of the Port. In honor of the General 
and two or three friends he had prepared a breakfast 
on a revenue cutter, in which Sheridan was to be taken 
down the bay and transferred to his boat, the Scotia, 
the last side-wheel steamer of the Cunard line, as she 
discharged her pilot. I was one of the party, and we 
spent practically the entire day on the cutter, where we 
enjoyed both breakfast and luncheon, in most congenial 
conversation. The General said that when the Civil 
War began a very small proportion of either army 
fought. I asked him what he meant by that. 

"Raw soldiers get excited, shoot too high, shoot too 
low, don't take aim, and don't do effective service," he 
replied. "The Southern armies fought better than the 
Northern armies at the beginning of the war. That is 
to say, more of the Southern men were accustomed to 
fire-arms, were better marksmen, took better aim, and 
did more effective work. Toward the close of the war 
the Northern troops fought the better. They were 
better fed, better clothed, and had more confidence of 
victory than their opponents. But at that time, when the 
opposing soldiers came together in actual hand-to-hand 
battle, the fighting on both sides was very satisfactory." 

Sheridan was very anxious, as a soldier who had gone 
through a great war, to witness the battles between the 
French and the Germans. He said he knew the French 
had not retained the discipline they had acquired under 
Napoleon, and that Germany had done everything to 
train her armies and prepare them for war. 

He was desirous, he said, of seeing whether theoreti- 
cal training, outside of actual fighting, would make 

182 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

as good soldiers as the constant conflict of armies in 
the field. He wanted to discover whether men could 
be trained, in times of peace, to fight as well as men who 
had gone through a four-year war. 

When Sheridan returned to the United States I gave 
him a dinner in Washington, and when the dinner was 
over the waiters and newspaper writers were invited to 
leave. After it was made certain to General Sheridan 
that nobody outside of the select company would hear 
what he said, he told us many interesting details of his 
trip. I asked him if he had satisfied his curiosity as to 
which was the better method of making soldiers, rigid 
training or actual war. 

"War, by all means," he said. "There was no such 
fighting between the Germans and French as occurred 
between the North and the South. The Germans 
moved in order, and their generals took great pains to 
place me where I could observe their maneuvers. They 
didn't fight anything like as well as the soldiers on 
either side in our war." 

He said he did not like to talk about the French, 
the people who had fought so many desperate battles; 
but the fact was, he declared, that the French army 
was a mob and made no real resistance against the con- 
quering Germans. 

I suppose that at this late day I am betraying no 
confidence in alluding to this matter of history. 

About ten days before the surrender of Lee at Appo- 
mattox, I visited City Point, Virginia, the headquarters 
of Grant's army. President Lincoln arrived there on 
the following steamer. There were a rought wharf, a 
few shacks, some warehouses, and dilapidated-looking 
buildings, and, stretching away from the river, a green 
pasture of fifty acres, in which about a thousand horses 
were grazing. 

These animals were the finest bred in the Northern 
States. They had been contributed by wealthy gentle- 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 183 

men from the North and East, from their own stables, 
to furnish fresh mounts for General Sheridan's cavalry. 
Most of them were thoroughbred runners or standard 
trotters. They were all young, and, as a herd, looked 
wild and untamed. 

I lounged around the wharf, waiting for something 
to happen, and pretty soon a three-deck propeller came 
up the river, and landed there. The boat fairly 
swarmed with soldiers, a thousand of them. They 
packed the decks, and lined the rails, and hung on 
wherever they could get their finger nails in. They 
were young cavalrymen who had served with Sheridan 
in Virginia, and every man had his saddle and bridle — 
but not his horse. Their mounts had been killed or lost 
in battle, or broken down by hard service. 

When the steamer began snorting, and puffing, and 
blowing its whistle, the thousand horses in the fifty-acre 
field whinnied in unison, and pranced, and danced, and 
leaped into the air, and switched their tails, and tore 
around like mad. And the thousand young dismounted 
cavalrymen eyed those horses! 

They scarcely waited for the boat to land, they were 
so eager, but jumped off pell mell, with their accoutre- 
ments, and started on a run for the field. 

An officer tried to check them, and make them pro- 
ceed in order, but they swept him aside. Whereupon 
an older and more experienced officer called out, "Let 
them go ahead and pick out their horses." I admired 
that officer. Soldiers will obey an officer like that. 

The men scrambled into the pasture, and in ten 
minutes the scene was the most mixed-up I ever beheld, 
nothing but heads, and manes, and tails, and legs, and 
heels, horses and humans, in a conglomerate mass of 
color that was dazzling to the eye, and exhilarating to 
the emotions. 

They were no ordinary horses — they were thorough- 
breds, and they resisted the efforts made to capture 

184 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

them. They kicked, and reared, and plunged, and 
jumped, and rolled over and put up a stiff fight, and 
a game one, too. But the men were no ordinary men. 
They were thoroughbreds, too. It was no use — the 
boys had them all in less than twenty minutes, blanketed 
and saddled. And then they dug the spurs into them, 
and pranced those horses out of the field, and in less 
than half an hour after the landing of the steamer the 
thousand cavalrymen with their fresh mounts between 
their thighs were proceeding in order to Sheridan's com- 
mand, twenty miles distant. 

I went to Grant's headquarters with several letters 
of introduction, not knowing whether I would meet the 
General or not. I had the letters in my hand when I 
entered his office. He grasped me by one hand, and 
with his other hand took the letters and threw them into 
the fire behind him. We had a few minutes of pleasant 
chat about our former acquaintance in San Francisco, 
when an orderly came in with a dispatch. 

"Come to see me when the war is over," said Gen- 
eral Grant. 

The next day there was a review of Grant's army 
about twenty miles below City Point, to which place a 
temporary military railroad had been constructed. An 
orderly came the following morning to the tent in 
which I had slept, and conducted me to the car. In 
it I met Mr. Lincoln, who was on his way to review 
the troops. A temporary platform had been erected 
on the reviewing field, upon which the President and 
General Grant took their seats. I was invited to sit 
next the General. 

As the different regiments passed President Lincoln 
made inquiries as to what they were, and what they had 
done. Finally there passed a regiment at the head of 
which rode one of the handsomest and most dis- 
tinguished-looking young men I ever saw. He sat his 
horse with pride, for he had been recently promoted. 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 185 

"Who is that officer?" asked President Lincob, his 
eyes sparkling with admiration. 

"That is Colonel Nelson A. Miles," replied General 
Grant, "and he has won that position on the battle- 
field, without outside influence." 

In order that President Lincoln and the party of 
visitors might have a good view of the army, several 
very fine horses were brought to us to ride. An orderly 
led a horse for me. 

"Are you a good rider?" he asked, surveying my 
frock coat with some disdain. 

"I've been in the habit of riding horses in the West," 
said I, "and I guess I can stick on any animal anybody 
else can ride." 

"Well, you must look out for this horse," admonished 
the orderly. "He came to us from the Confederate 
army. One of the boys nabbed him the other day 
while scouting." 

I climbed into the saddle, ten or twelve young officers 
mounting and riding off with me, while other members 
of the party, including President Lincoln, followed. 
We inspected the surrounding country, making a trip 
of several miles. As we began the return journey my 
horse raised his ears, twitched his nose, looked longingly 
in the direction of Richmond, squealed a couple of times, 
and then started for the Rebel lines as hard as he could 
go, which was quite embarrasing. I went along with 
him. I did not recognize any likely place to get off. 
My coat-tails stood out grandly in the fresh breeze, and 
my plug hat sailed off like a big black crow as my steed, 
scenting his old friends from afar, took one of those 
broken-down Virginia rail fences, and headed for Lee's 

I gripped the beast between my legs, and held on, 
and I pulled on the lines with all my strength; but the 
horse had the bit in his teeth, and if he took my feelings 
into consideration he did not let on about it to me. 

186 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

While I was wondering what the Johnnies would do 
to a United States Senator, and congratulating myself 
that, at least, I wasn't invading the enemy's lines in dis- 
guise, and probably wouldn't be shot for a spy, I felt the 
bit slip back in the horse's mouth. Then, abandoning 
by former tactics, of pulling on both reins, I yanked with 
all my might and main on one, and by and by had the 
satisfaction of observing that my mount was beginning 
to travel in a pretty big circle, but, still a circle. I kept 
him performing in that way until some of the cavalry- 
men, who had been tagging along in the rear, as fast 
as they could go, but nothing like as fast as / had been 
going, rode up and got between me and the Rebel out- 
posts. Finally I stopped my Confederate horse, and 
that night I returned to camp. 

The exercise was quite inspiring, and at that time 
of life it was not altogether disagreeable. On the way 
back to City Point that night President Lincoln looked 
very sad and thoughtful. No one ventured to speak 
to him. I was in the seat in front of him. I thought 
he was engrossed in affairs of State. Finally he aroused 
himself, and, leaning toward me, he said : 

**rm glad that horse did not make it necessary for 
me to make an application to the General of the Con- 
federate army for an exchange of prisoners for a United 
States Senator, as we have never captured any Con- 
federate Senators," and never smiled. 

But his eye twinkled, and, later, I was told that the 
President had viewed my Southern retreat with great 
amusement through a pair of field-glasses. The Presi- 
dent entertained the party in the car with anecdotes 
illustrating the situation of the army at that time. He 
knew, or thought he knew, that the next battle would 
be the last. 

"And," he said, turning to me with a sad smile on 
his face, "after that battle, this will be one country." 

The next morning my steamer, which carried a mixed 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 187 

cargo of passengers and freight, returned to Washing- 
ton. On my way to the boat I passed General Grant's 
headquarters to bid him good-by. 

"These busy times will soon be over," he said, "and 
in a few days I expect to meet you in Washington." 
Grant, too, knew that there was to be but one more 


Assassination of Lincoln — His last written words a message to me — 
Reign of terror — Washington on the verge of a bloody battle 
between Federal and Confederate soldiers — How a drunken man 
was sworn in as President — ^Johnson's quarrel with Congress. 

The election of Andrew Johnson to the office of 
Vice-President of the United States was a calamity. 
It was caused by the desire of Northern Republicans 
and Union men to have a representative from the South 
on the ticket in 1864. 

Johnson was very bitter in his language against the 
Southern leaders, and tho^ Northern people supposed 
he was really patriotic. vHe came to Washington in 
January or February, 1865^ and for some weeks pre- 
vious to the inauguration of President Lincoln on the 
4th of March, 1865, his general condition was a half- 
drunken stupor\ When he entered the Senate Cham- 
^f * her to take tha^ath of office as Vice-President, and to 

call that body to order, he was very drunk. He was 
assisted to the chair by the Sergeant-at-Arms and two 
door-keepers, and was unable to stand without assist- 
ance. I do not believe he was conscious when he took 
the oath of office. He appeared as a man who did not 
realize what he was doing. 

Immediately after the oath had been administered, 
he grasped the desk before him with an unsteady hand, 
and, swaying about so that he threatened to tumble 
down at any moment, he began an incoherent tirade. 

There was no particular point or sense in what he 
attempted to say. "The people are everything," he 
bawled, **the people are everything"; and this seemed 
to be the sole idea he possessed. He lurched around, 
and pointed to Mr. Seward, who was seated directly 
in front of the rostrum. 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 189 

"You are nothing, you are nothing, Mr. Seward," he 
said. "I tell you, the people are everything." 

This drunken jargon continued for some time. Sev- 
eral Senators endeavored to persuade him to leave the 
stand. Finally he was removed, not without some 
force, by the Sergeant-at-Arms to the Vice-President's 
room, where he was detained until the ceremony was 
concluded. All persons present were shocked and 
amazed, and there was a universal appeal to the repre- 
sentatives of the press to refrain from publishing any- 
thing about the disagreeable scene. The newspapers of 
the country which alluded to it at all did so in vague 
and obscure language. 

After the inauguration of President Lincoln, Vice- 
President Johnson continued to drink at low groggeries 
and to associate with toughs and rowdies, both black 
and white. He was not choice in the selection of his 
company. Almost anybody was good enough for John- 
son, apparently. 

One evening, not long after Mr. Lincoln's second 
term began, I was passing through Judiciary Square. 
A great crowd of street hoodlums and darkies was con- 
gregated about the City Hall steps, listening to the 
Vice-President. He was intoxicated. His face was 
very red, and he was excited. I listened. He was con- 
tending before the rabble that all the Rebels must be 
hanged. Johnson didn't make any distinction. He put 
the whole South in one class. He said it was treason 
to fight against the Government and that he was in 
favor of hanging every traitor. 

It was quite common for Mr. Johnson to make these 
open-air speeches; and as he delivered them whenever 
he had been drinking, naturally he became the most 
persistent orator in the capital. 

Shortly after this, on the day before the evening on 
which Mr. Lincoln was assassinated, I was in New 
York, where I met my old friend and partner, Judge 

190 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

Niles Searles, who, although a Democrat, was a Union 
man and a gentleman of ability and sterling worth. He 
said he wanted to meet Mr. Lincoln, and I invited him 
to go to Washington with me that night, and call on 
the President the next day. We had not met for sev- 
eral years, and instead of going to bed on the train 
we sat up in the smoking-compartment, and talked 
nearly all night. 

The train arrived in Washington at an early hour, 
and we went to Willard's Hotel, where we took a nap. 
But being tired, we overslept ourselves. When break- 
fast was over it was too late to call on President Lin- 
coln, who received visitors at ten o'clock in the morn- 
ing and at seven o'clock at night. We waited until 
evening and called to see him. An usher took our 
cards. He returned in about five minutes with a card 
from Mr. Lincoln on which was written : 

I am engaged to go to the theater with Mrs. Lincoln. It is the 
kind of an engagement I never break. Come with your friend 
to-morrow at ten and I shall be glad to see you. 

A. Lincoln. 

Those were the last words Abraham Lincoln ever 
wrote. I did not preserve the card, not considering it 
of any importance, for I had received many such from 
the President at various times. As I walked down 
stairs with Judge Searles on our way out, I dropped 
the President's note on the floor. At the front entrance 
Mr. Lincoln was placing his wife in a carriage. I was 
intending to pass without interrupting them, but he 
saw us and extended his hand cordially. I introduced 
Judge Searles to him. He repeated that he would be 
glad to see us in the morning, bade us good-night, 
entered the carriage and drove away. It was the last 
time I saw him alive. 

'*I have seen Mr. Lincoln," said Judge Searles, "I 
have had a good look at him, and heard him speak. 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 191 

That was all I came to Washington for, and I shall 
return to New York at once.'' 

We walked together rapidly to the depot of the 
Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, which was the only rail- 
road entering Washington. I walked back up town 
alone, and when I reached the corner of Tenth Street 
and Pennsylvania Avenue I decided to go to Ford's 
Theater. When I reached the door I found a large 
crowd on the outside. They told me the theater was 
jammed so full they couldn't get in. I gave it up, and 
went to the room of Senator Conness, which was on 
Thirteenth Street, between E and F Streets. 

I had been there but a few minutes, when Senator 
Sumner of Massachusetts came in. We had been talk- 
ing fifteen or twenty minutes when a colored man 
employed by Senator Conness rushed excitedly into the 
room, shouting that Mr. Seward was assassinated. 

Secretary Seward occupied what was afterward 
known as the Blaine house, on the east side of Lafayette 
Square, where a theater now stands. Conness, Sumner, 
and I started there as fast as we could go, and as I 
was a stronger man than either of them, I took the 
lead, with Sumner panting along in the rear. 

I rushed up Seward's steps, and found the front door 
partially opened, pushed my way into the hall, and 
saw Secretary McCuUough of the Treasury Depart- 
ment, who told me that Seward was badly hurt, and 
that the doctor had given orders to admit no one to his 
room, as he needed all the air it was possible to give him. 

Conness, Sumner, and I then started on a run to 
the White House, diagonally across the street. Two 
soldiers were on duty, acting as guards, and marching 
backward and forward. As we arrived one of the 
White House attaches came running from Ford's 
Theater with the news that the President had been shot. 
Senator Conness, with great presence of mind, said: 

**This is a conspiracy to murder the entire Cabinet." 

192 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

Turning to the soldiers, he said, "Go immediately to 
Secretary Stanton's house, and prevent his assassina- 
tion, if possible." 

The soldiers started off on a double-quick with their 
loaded muskets on their shoulders. Stanton resided 
at that time on the north side of Franklin Square. As 
the soldiers approached his house they saw a man on his 
steps, who had just rung the bell. Seeing them he 
took fright and ran away, and was never afterward 
heard of. When the soldiers ran up the steps Stanton 
himself had come to the door, in response to the ring. 
Had the soldiers arrived a few minutes later I have no 
doubt that Stanton also would have been one of the 
victims of the plot. 

Senator Conness, Senator Sumner, and I went directly 
from the White House to the theater. We learned 
that the President had been carried across the street, 
and went to the house. I saw Surgeon-General Barnes, 
who told me that Mr, Lincoln was mortally wounded, 
and that too many persons had already crowded into 
his room. 

"But you can go in if you insist," he said, "as you 
are a Senator." Under the circumstances I declined. 
Senator Conness received the same statement and 
retired. Senator Sumner did not retire, but rushed into 
the room, notwithstanding the suggestion of General 
Barnes, and remained until the death of the President. 

"I will go in 1" he cried. Nothing could keep Charles 
Sumner out. 

From that time until daylight the excitement in 
Washington was intense. There were in the city about 
thirty thousand Confederate soldiers, and from sixty 
to one hundred thousand Federal soldiers. In every 
group of men, and the streets fairly swarmed, some one 
would constantly cry out: 

"Kill the Rebels; kill the traitors!" and 

then the mob would go tearing off, searching for the 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 193 

Confederates, until somebody else would climb upon 
a flight of steps or a tree-box, and scream as loud as 
he could: 

"What would Mr. Lincoln say if he could talk to 
you ?" This argument never failed to quiet the frenzied 
people. Throughout that vast concourse, the whole 
population of Washington tramping the streets all night 
long, the voice of violence would always hush at the 
mention of Lincoln's name. 

I walked the streets, caring very little where I went, 
and every minute I expected to see the Federal soldiers 
fall upon the unarmed paroled Southerners, and slay 
them. A bloody battle which would have shocked 
humanity was averted a thousand times that night by 
a miracle. 

Mr. Lincoln died shortly after daylight, and within 
ten minutes of the time I met Senator Foot, the grand 
old gray-haired statesman from Vermont, who was chair- 
man of the Republican caucus and master of ceremonies 
in the Senate. He was hailing a dilapidated wagon, 
which had seen better days as a carriage, in front of the 
Willard Hotel. He put his hand on my shoulder as 
the news of the President's death reached us, wafted 
on a thousand excited tongues, and said: 

"We must get the Chief Justice at once and swear 
in the Vice-President. It will not do in times like these 
to be without a President." 

We directed the driver of the hack to take us to the 
residence of Mr. Chase, who lived in what was then 
known as the Sprague mansion, at the corner of Sixth 
and E Streets. Mr. Chase was in his library, pacing 
back and forth, in deep thought. We explained our 
business, and he got into the vehicle with us, and went 
to the old Kirkwood House, on Pennsylvania Avenue. 

I sprang out, went to the desk, and asked the clerk 
what room the Vice-President occupied. 

"I will send up your card," he said. 

194 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

"No, you won't," I said; 'Til go up myself. We 
want to see him on important business. Send a boy to 
show the way." 

'*It is on the third floor," the clerk then said. 
**Turn to the right at the head of the stairs." 

There were no elevators in the hotels at that time, 
and we climbed the stairs laboriously. A negro boy 
showed us the room, and I rapped on the door. There 
was no answer. I rapped again and again. Finally I 
kicked the door, and made a very loud noise. Then a 
voice growled: 

"Who's there?" 

"Senator Stewart," said I, "and the Chief Justice 
and Senator Foot are with me. We must see you 

After some little delay Johnson opened the door and 
we entered. The Vice-President was in his bare feet, 
and only partially dressed, as though he had hurriedly 
drawn on a pair of trousers and a shirt. He was 
occupying two little rooms about ten feet square, and we 
entered one of them, a sitting-room, while he finished 
hi^ toilet in the other. 

/ In a few minutes Johnson came in, putting on a very 
Snmipled coat, and presenting the appearance of a 
drunken man. He was dirty, shabby, and his hair 
was matted, as though with mud from the gutter, while 
he blinked at us through squinting eyes, and lurched 
around^unsteadily. He had been on a "bender" for a 
month^As he came into the room we were all stand- 
ing. Johnson felt for a chair and sat down. Chief 
Justice Chase said very solemnly: 

"The President has been assassinated. He died this 
morning. I have come to administer the oath of office 
to you." 

Johnson seemed dazed at first. Then he jumped up, 
thrust his right arm up as far as he could reach, and 
said in a thick, gruff, hoarse voice : 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 195 

**rm ready." 

The Chief Justice administered the oath. Johnson 
— President Johnson— went back to his bedroom, and 
we retired. 

There were only three persons present besides John- | 

son when he was sworn in — Chief Justice Chase, Senator ^ 

Foot, and myself. All statements to the contrary are 
absolutely false. Although he took the oath between 
seven and eight o'clock in the morning, Johnson pre- 
tended not to have heard of the assassination. So far 
as I am aware nobody knows where he spent the night, 
although his appearance at daylight indicated clearly 
what he had been doing. 

The Kirkwood House was said by the clerks on the 
morning after the assassination to have been the head- 
quarters of several of the conspirators. The clerks also 
told me that Johnson was friendly with them, and it 
seems strange to me that he did not learn of the assas- 
sination until informed by the Chief Justice and myself. 

After leaving Johnson I went to Stanton's house. As 
I arrived his carriage was being driven to his door, and 
presently he came down the steps. I told him of the con- 
dition of Johnson, and said that he must be taken care 
of — the man who had just taken the oath of office as 
President of the United States. Stanton and I were 
driven back to the Kirkwood House, and, accompanied 
by the coachman, we went directly to Johnson's room. 
He was lying down. We aroused him, dressed him as 
well as we could, led him down stairs, and put him in 
Stanton's carriage. We took him to the White House, 
and Stanton sent for a tailor, a barber, and a doctor. He 
had a dose administered, and the President was bathed 
and shaved, his hair was cut, and a new suit of clothes 
was fitted to him. He did not, however, get into a 
condition to be visible until late in the afternoon, when 
a few persons were permitted to see him to satisfy them- 
selves that there was a President in the White House. 

196 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

Then came a reign of terror. No man dared to talk. 
Notwithstanding the war was over and peace prevailed 
throughout the United States, by order of President 
Johnson a drum-head court martial was ordered to try 
the conspirators charged with the murder of Mr. Lin- 
coln. Among others, Mrs. Mary E. Surratt was 
arrested, tried, convicted, and executed in a summary 
manner. Andrew Johnson appointed the officers who 
constituted the court, approved their findings, and 
signed the warrant for her execution. Any candid 
person who will review the evidence will be forced to 
the conclusion that she was an innocent woman. 

The fact that some of the conspirators occasionally 
visited her lodging-house gave her an opportunity of 
knowing something of their movements and their asso- 
ciations, although she was undoubtedly ignorant of the 
conspiracy. From these circumstances it is possible 
that she might have known something of Johnson's 
associations which he did not want made public. Jus- 
tice and humanity demanded for her a fair, legal, and 
impartial trial. There was certainly something wrong. 
The people at large will never be satisfied with the 
killing of Mrs. Surratt. 

The death of Mr. Lincoln shocked the civilized 
world. People of every land were bowed with sorrow 
at the great bereavement. The country was without a 
trusted leader, and the work of reconstructing and har- 
monizing the several States in the Union, which had 
been preserved, required the highest wisdom and 

Congress was not in session. Andrew Johnson 
neglected to convene Congress in an emergency and to 
consult the friends of the Union with whom Mr. Lin- 
coln had advised. Before Johnson became President 
he lost no occasion, in season or out of season, to 
denounce the Rebels. Between February i, 1865, and 
the assassination of Mr. Lincoln he declared on the 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 197 

steps of every public building in Washington, and to 
every gathering that would listen to him, that every 
Rebel ought to be hanged, and that that was the only 
means of restoring the Union. 

He was particularly vindictive against the social and 
political leaders of the South. He sprang from the 
lower stratum of society, and by great vigor, industry, 
and will had occupied many honorable positions. He 
rose to be Senator of the United States and Vice-Presi- 
dent against opposition of powerful leaders. 

When those who had governed the South and created 
the public opinion of that section bowed before him as 
President of the United States, he forgot that there 
was a loyal North which had prosecuted the war to a 
successful termination, and which was entitled to be 
cojisulted, and took counsel only with the vanquished. 
^He usurped the power of Congress and undertook 
tohsorganize the State governments of the South with- 
out legislative sanction?^ 

Congress met for th€ long session on the first Mon- 
day of December, 1865. The Republican party had 
more than two-thirds majority in each House, and 
measures were immediately devised to restrain what was 
termed executive usurpations. Some of the Southern 
States which Andrew Johnson had attempted to 
rehabilitate passed laws for the practical re-enslavement 
of the blacks, although the Thirteenth Amendment 
abolishing slavery had been adopted. 

A Freedmen's Bureau had been created during the 
war to provide for helpless colored people whom the 
war had set free. It was also deemed necessary to pass 
a law by Congress to protect the colored people in their 
civil rights. 

Two bills were introduced early in the session and 
referred to the Committee on Judiciary, of which 
Lyman Trumbull, of Illinois, was chairman, aYid of 
which I was a member. 

198 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

The Civil Rights bill was largely the work of Sen- 
ator Trumbull, and is substantially the law now and 
the statute. 

The Freedmen's Bureau bill I did not approve of in 
the committee, although I consented that it might be 
reported to the Senate. It conferred too much power 
upon the commission charged with its execution to be 
administered with safety. There was unlimited power 
given the commission to purchase land for educational 
purposes. In short, it was calculated to create a bureau 
after the model of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the 
dishonest and extravagant workings of which had come 
under my observation in the West. 

The bill, however, passed both Houses, notwithstand- 
ing .that to me it possessed glaring defects. President 
Johnson vetoed the bill, and I thought he was right 
in doing so. I would gladly have supported his veto 
if it had not been made plain to me that the whole 
country would suffer by a conflict between the President 
and Congress. 

The President sent for me the evening before the 
vote was to be taken in the Senate on his message veto- 
ing the Freedmen's Bureau bill. Under the circum- 
stances I desired the presence of a third party to the 
interview I was about to have with the President. 

Representative Horn of Missouri was as anxious as 
I was to avoid w^hat seemed to be an inevitable con- 
flict between the executive and legislative branches of 
the Government. I told him that the President had 
sent for me, and I invited him to accompany me to the 
Executive Mansion that evening. He accepted the invi- 
tation. We found the President in his office at eight 
o'clock, the appointed hour. 

He began the conversation by saying to me that he 
had been informed that I did not approve of many of 
the provisions in the Freedmen's Bureau bill which he 
had vetoed, and asked me if that was so. I told him 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 199 

that it was. He then asked me if I could not con- 
scientiously sustain his veto. I told him I could if his 
veto of the Freedmen's Bureau bill was the only ques- 
tion involved. My constituents, I said, believed that 
the victorious Union party as represented in Congress 
should have a controlling influence in the rehabilita- 
tion of the States; that if I should vote to sustain his 
veto I never could explain to my people that I did so 
on account of the provisions of the bill, and that they 
would believe I had surrendered the cause of the Union 
to those who had conspired to destroy it. I also told 
him that Congress had passed another bill, which I 
helped prepare, and every provision of which I 
approved, and that bill was known as the Civil Rights 
bill. I said: 

"Mr. President, you have that bill before you. • The 
party that was instrumental in abolishing slavery feels 
responsible for the protection of the slave, and if that 
bill should become a law, with your approval, the coun- 
try would not believe you vetoed the Freedmen's 
Bureau bill on partisan grounds. On the contrary, they 
would read your message on the Freedmen's Bureau 
bill and would not regard it as a partisan veto." 

Mr. Horn remarked that the people thought much 
more of the Civil Rights bill than the Freedmen's 
Bureau bill. It was easy to amend the Freedmen's 
Bureau bill to obviate the objections in the President's 
message, but the veto of the Civil Rights bill would 
produce an impassable gulf between Congress and the 

"Mr. President, "^ I said, "I have no right to demand 
of you to tell me whether you will veto or sign the 
Civil Rights bill ; but if you are to veto it, I must vote to 
pass the Freedmen's Bureau bill over your veto. You 
may not be aware of it, but I have the deciding vote 
and can determine the question." 

He assured me by all that he held sacred that if his 

200 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

veto of the Freedmen's Bureau bill was sustained he 
would sign the Civil Rights bill. 

This conversation lasted three hours, and he repeated 
four or five times his assurance that he would sign the 
Civil Rights bill. Accompanying us to the door, he 
shook hands with Mr. Horn and myself as we left. 
His final words were that we need have no anxiety, 
that he would sign the Civil Rights bill as he had 

The next day about half-past two o'clock the vote 
was taken on the President's veto of the Freedmen's 
Bureau bill and the veto was sustained. Within ten 
minutes of the time of the announcement of the vote 
sustaining the veto, a message was received from 
the President announcing his veto of the Civil 
Rights bill. 

I never spoke to Johnson after that deception but 
once. In 1875 I retired from the Senate, and soon 
after Johnson was elected Senator from Tennessee. 
While I was in the Senate I paid several visits to the 
Deaf and Dumb Asylum, and found there a boy of 
great brightness. I secured for him a clerkship in the 
Patent Office. On a visit to Washington later I went 
to the Patent Office to see the boy. I talked with the 
Commissioner and learned that he was one of the most 
efficient clerks in the bureau, and that he deserved 
promotion. I went to the Secretary of the Interior 
and asked for his advancement. While I was pleading 
his cause, Andrew Johnson was sitting behind me. 
I did not know he was there until he spoke 
up, saying: 

"Being deaf and dumb is no reason for promotion. 
God Almighty knows how to mark men." 

I lost my temper and came very near losing my 
senses. I sprang at Johnson, intending to make an 
impression on his flesh, if no impression could be made 
upon his sense of right and wrong. He jumped behind 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 201 

the Secretary, and four or five clerks rushed up and got 
between us. He went out of the room with as little 
delay as possible. 

The world will never know the extent of the mis- 
fortune to the people of the United States, particularly 
to the South, sustained by the substitution of Andrew 
Johnson for Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was the wisest, 
kindest, most impartial, and just man I ever knew; 
Johnson was the most untruthful, treacherous, and cruel 
person who ever held place of power in the United 
States. I voted to impeach him, and I would do it again?S 


The War Senate — Pen pictures of the great leaders of the nation — 
Thad. Stevens and his domestic scandal — Conkling and Blaine, 
and Congressional jealousies — The corpse was dry — Senator 
McDougall's tribute to whiskey. 

When I entered the United States Senate, Hannibal 
Hamlin was Vice-President. After I had presented my 
credentials he greeted me cordially, and explained the 
method of doing business. He was plain and his mode 
of life was simple, but he was a man of robust intellect 
and strong common sense. Lot M. Morrill was then 
Senator from Maine, a wise and useful man. Penn- 
sylvania was represented by Buckalew and Cowan, who 
were then the leaders of the Democrats in the Senate. 
Jacob Collamer and Solomon Foot were the Senators 
from Vermont. Collamer was a great lawyer, strong 
and influential in debate. Foot was a man of dignity 
of character, and presided over the Senate caucus and 
occupied the chair in the absence of the Vice-President. 

Doolittle and Howe were Senators from Wiscon- 
sin, and were both able and influential. Howe held the 
first place in the confidence of his constituents during 
his whole life, but Doolittle subsequently fell under a 
cloud by adhering to Andrew Johnson.^Reverdy John- 
son of Maryland was the most distinguished man in the 
Senate. He was a Democrat, but a reasonable one. 
If Andrew Johnson had taken his advice he would have 
cooperated with Congress and the South would h^e 
been relieved from the worst evils of reconstruction^ 

John P. Hale was a veteran Senator from New 
Hampshire, abounding in good sense, good nature, and 
repartee. His debates during the long controversy in 
the Senate over the slavery question previous to the 
Civil War had made his name a household word. Ira 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 203 

Harris and E. D. Morgan represented the great State 
of New York; they were men of high character and 

John Sherman and Benjamin F. Wade were the Sena- 
tors from Ohio. /Sherman was shrewd, cunning, and 
unscrupulous.X Wade was brave, blunt, and honest. 
Lafayette S. Foster and James Dixon were the Senators 
from Connecticut. Foster was a fine lawyer and a 
leading Senator, while Dixon was a modest, useful man, 
and a trusted member of the Democratic party. Lyman 
Trumbull was from Illinois. He was chairman of the 
Judiciary Committee, a great lawyer, strong debater, 
and a prominent member of the Senate. James W. 
Grimes and James Harlan were the Senators from Iowa. 
They were both able and influential. James H. Lane 
and Samuel C. Pomeroy were Senators from Kansas. 
^Dne of the most constant and continuous debaters 
wa^ Garrett Davis of Kentucky. He was a strictly 
honest man, and a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat. He con- 
fidently believed that everything could be accomplished 
and anything solved through the principles of the 
Democratic party; exactly what those principles were 
he was unable to explain to the satisfaction of others 
during the Civil War^ 

William Pitt Fessenden of Maine was a marked 
character. He left the Senate on July i, 1864, to 
accept the office of Secretary of the Treasury, made 
vacant by the appointment of Salmon P. Chase to the 
office of Chief Justice, and held it until March 4, 1865, 
when he returned to the Senate. He was in the Senate 
Chamber when I first entered to take my seat, and I 
was introduced to him. He was, without question, the 
ablest debater on the floor. When Congress met in 
December, 1865, a joint Committee of Fifteen was 
created, five from the Senate and ten from the House 
of Representatives. Fessenden and Thaddeus Stevens 
were the two chairmen. 

204 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

Thaddeus Stevens was one of the most remarkable 
men the United States has produced. He was bom in 
Vermont, the 4th of April, 1792, and died in Wash- 
ington on the nth of August, 1868. From the time 
of the outbreak of the war until his death he was the 
unquestioned leader of the House of Representatives. 
He carried nearly every measure he advocated, and was 
rarely, if ever, defeated. 

He suffered, however, a remarkable defeat from the 
action of the Senate soon after actual hostilities began. 
He was almost the only man in either house of Con- 
gress who had a clear idea of the money question. As 
chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means he 
framed and passed a bill through the House creating 
legal-tender money, and also providing for the issuance 
of long-time bonds, the principal payable in coin, but 
the interest payable in legal-tender paper money. The 
Senate committee, through the influence of stock-job- 
bers of Wall Street, reversed the order of payment and 
made the interest of the bonds payable in coin and the 
principal payable in lawful money. This created an 
immediate demand for coin, to supply which customs 
dues were made payable in coin. The Finance Com- 
mittee reported the bill and it was passed by the Sen- 
ate. When the Conference Committee was appointed 
the struggle was long and desperate. The stock-job- 
bers and John Sherman, chairman of the Committee on 
Finance, would not yield. The soldiers must be paid 
and supplies must be bought for the war. Thaddeus 
Stevens was bound to submit. 

He reported his defeat to the House in tears, declar- 
ing that it would cost the Government of the United 
States thousands of millions of dollars. His prediction 
was correct. The week after the bill was passed a gold 
board was formed in New York, and the soldiers in 
the field were compelled to take depreciated money; and 
while they faced the enemy in front, the gold gamblers 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 203 

of New York kept up a constant firing in the rear. 

During the winter of 1865-6 I had a room in 
a house adjoining the house occupied by Thaddeus 
Stevens, on New Jersey Avenue, near the Capitol. He 
was never married, and the reason assigned by his old 
Pennsylvania friends was his sensitiveness on account 
of a club foot. He never went in society, but had a 
mulatto woman for a housekeeper, who lived with him 
in the house, which created some scandal; but that 
made no difference to Mr. Stevens, because no one dare 
criticise him in his presence. 

I very frequently would spend an evening in Stevens's 
house playing cards. He was a very superior euchre 
player, and intensely fond of the game. Other mem- 
bers of the House, and a Senator or so, would drop 
in for several hours, when a wide range of subjects 
would be discussed. 

On these occasions the mulatto woman, whom, as I 
recollect, **01d Thad" called May, and of whom he 
seemed to be quite fond, would prepare the table for 
us, fix the lights, bring In a lunch, and do other neces- 
sary things. I did not inquire into Stevens's domestic 
relations very closely, but I believe it was the gen- 
eral opinion that his regard for May was not entirely 
platonic. The influence of this colored mistress, I 
believe, was largely the cause of Stevens's bitter ani- 
mosity to Southern whites. 

He was sixty-nine years old when the war began, 
and at that age possessed all the vigor and courage of 
youth, coupled with the experience of years. He had 
a way of silencing an opponent with a single phrase. 
Henry J. Raymond, the founder of the New York 
Times, a man of great reputation and ambition, was 
elected to the House of Representatives. Several ques- 
tions arose which Raymond took occasion to avoid, 
remaining non-committal. Raymond desired to leave 
town on one occasion and wanted a pair. He finally 

206 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

appealed to his friends on the floor to furnish him a 
pair. **01d Thad" looked around sarcastically and 
remarked that he did not understand that the gentle- 
man from New York was asking for a pair; he had 
observed that that gentleman found no difficulty in 
pairing with himself. The House roared and Raymond 
was out. 

Conkling and Blaine were then members of the 
House, both ambitious and full of fight; but neither of 
them ever made a pass at **01d Thad." They were, 
however, very jealous of each other, and whenever I 
heard they were going to have a personal controversy 
I went over to the House to hear them spar. Their 
debates were historic, and prevented each of them from 
ever occupying the Presidential chair. Conkling was 
the more dignified and commanding, but Blaine more 
aggravating and personal. On one occasion he likened 
Conkling to a strutting turkey-gobbler. The House 
slightly hissed; but on the whole that debate was 
regarded as a draw, and entered, directly or indirectly, 
into every national election which thereafter occurred 
during the life of the two combatants.^/Conkling came 
to the Senate in 1867, made many strong friends, and 
some bitter enemies. I had the honor to be one of his 
particular friends whom he frequently consulted. The 
great fault of his whole life was his inability to forgive 
an enemy, or even to pass him by without a kic^ 

Blaine was more conciliatory and politic, which gave 
him many advantages over his enemies; but Conkling 
had a larger State behind him and was able to keep 
Blaine out- of the White House. Conkling, notwith- 
standing his pugnacious disposition, was a kind and 
indulgent friend, constantly doing good to those whom 
he deemed worthy. His power In debate was unequaled 
in the Senate, and after he left that body he made a 
fortune in a few years practicing law. His honesty was 
never questioned. 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 207 

James A. McDougall, who was Senator from Cali- 
fornia at the time I entered that body, was a remark- 
able character. He had practiced law at the bar in 
Illinois with Mr. Lincoln, and they were warm personal 
friends. He was a man of great learning, not alone 
in his profession, being familiar with history and the 
classics; but unfortunately after he went to the Senate 
he fell a victim to alcoholic drink and said and did many 
queer things. 

One night he fell into a sewer which was being 
excavated in front of Seward's house. A policeman 
saw him fall in and asked him who he was. 

"Why, get me out," said McDougall; "I am 

Once he was going to New York. At that time the 
railroad went around Philadelphia, and carriages could 
be taken across, giving passengers some additional time. 
McDougall got out of the car pretty well loaded and 
saw the other passengers taking carriages. He observed 
a hearse nearby and crawled inside. Two men were 
on the box, but did not know that a Senator was a pas- 
senger. After driving a few blocks they stopped at 
a saloon to take a drink. The driver couldn't leave 
the horses, so the other man went in and brought him 
out a mug of beer. McDougall heard what was going 
on, saw the beer, and stuck his head out and said: 

"Heyl The corpse is dry." 

He finally got in the habit of coming into the Senate 
very drunk, and Sumner of Massachusetts prepared 
a resolution to expel him, and showed it to me, know- 
ing I was a friend of McDougall. I begged of Sumner 
not to introduce it, and went to Mr. Lincoln and asked 
him to tell Sumner not to introduce the resolution of 
expulsion, which the President did. 

One night in February, 1865, just before the close 
of the war, there was a bill pending which Ben Wade 
and others were very anxious to pass. The Democrats 

208 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

were vigorously opposing it. It was Saturday night. 
About midnight some one moved to adjourn, where- 
upon Senator Wade became quite violent and said that 
the "Better the day, the better the deed." He said his 
God would approve of passing that bill on Sunday. 

McDougall had been lying with his head on his 
desk, and was supposed to be oblivious to what was 
going on. Finally I observed he was trying to get up. 
Vice-President Hamlin was in the chair, and knowing 
that whenever McDougall got on his feet, drunk or 
sober, he would say something sensible, kindly waited 
till he could straighten up. At first his voice was weak, 
but it grew stronger as he proceeded. 

He said that in India the Hindoos had two gods, 
the God of Evil and the God of Good, and explained 
at length the bad qualities of the Evil God and then 
the good qualities of the Good God, and remarked in 
conclusion that the Good God was his God and the 
Bad God was the God of the Senator from Ohio. He 
said his God was in favor of adjournment, and he 
moved that the Senate adjourn. I don't remember 
whether the Senate indorsed McDougall's God or 
Wade's God. 

In April, 1866, Senator Henry Wilson introduced a 
resolution to exclude whiskey from the Senate end of 
the Capitol. About the middle of the month it came 
up for consideration, and a pretty lively debate ensued. 
A considerable number of Senators liked their toddy 
about that time, and I suppose conditions haven't 
changed much since. Anyhow, whiskey had some 
friends, among them that earnest champion. Senator 

McDougall was present while the fight was in prog- 
ress, but apparently displayed no interest in the pro- 
ceedings. He was dozing over his desk, and it was 
supposed that he was too happy to know what was 
transpiring, but by-and-by he sat up and found out what 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 209 

was going on, dragged himself together and sailed in, 
and delivered a classical speech on the good qualities 
and virtues of whiskey, and the superiority of the men 
who drank it over those who didn't, which, I suppose, 
is the most finished and sincere tribute ever paid to 

He described the hard-faced, ungenerous, selfish 
temperance advocate, with a disposition like potter's 
field, and the jolly, whole-souled, liberal, agreeable 
companion who liked the inspiration of strong drink, 
until there wasn't a Senator present who wasn't ashamed 
of himself for ever thinking of turning whiskey out 
of the Capitol, and who didn't consider himself lucky 
that he hadn't acted in haste. 

"Mr. President," said McDougall, rising gravely 
and turning a serious face upon the Senate, while every- 
body sat up and took notice, because McDougall could 
talk. "Mr. President: It was once said that there 
are as many minds as men, and there is no end of 
wrangling. I had occasion, some years since, to dis- 
course with a reverend doctor of divinity from the 
State which has the honor to be the birthplace, I think, 
of the present President of this body. While I was 
discoursing with him a lot of vile rapscallions invited 
me to join them at the bar. I declined, out of respect 
to the reverend gentleman in whose presence I then was. 
As soon as the occasion had passed, I remarked to the 
reverend doctor: 

" *Do not understand that I declined to go and join 
those young men at the bar because I have any objec- 
tion to that thing, for it is my habit to drink always in 
the front and not behind the door.' 

"He looked at me with a certain degree of interroga- 
tion. I then asked him : 

" 'Doctor, what was the first miracle worked by our 
great Master?' 

"He hesitated, and I said to him: 


210 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

" *Was it not at Cana in Galilee, where he con- 
verted the water into wine, at a marriage feast?' He 
assented. I asked him then : 

*' *After the ark had floated on the tempestuous seas 
for forty days and nights, and as it descended upon the 
dry land, what was the first thing done by Father 
Noah?' He did not know exactly. 

*' 'Well,' said I, *did he not plant a vine?' 
** *Yes,' he remembered it then. I asked him: 
** *Do you remember any great poet that ever illus- 
trated the higher fields of humanity that did not dignify 
the use of wine, from old Homer down?' He did not. 
I asked: 

'* *Do you know of any great philosopher that did 
not use it for the exaltation of his intelligence? Do 
you think, Doctor, that a man who lived upon pork, 
and beef, and cornbread, could get up into the supe- 
rior region — into the ethereal?' No, he must 

** Take nectar on high Olympus 
And mighty mead in Valhalla/ 

**I said to him again: *Doctor, you are a scholarly 
man of course — a doctor of divinity — a graduate of 
Yale. Do you remember Plato's Symposium?' Yes, 
he remembered that. I referred him to the occasion 
when Agatho, having won the prize of Tragedy at the 
Olympic Games at Corinth, on coming back to Athens 
was feted by the nobility and aristocracy of that city, 
for it was a proud triumph to Athens to win the prize 
of Tragedy. They got together, at the house of 
Phaedrus, and they said, *Now, we have been every 
night for these last six nights drunk; let us be sober 
to-night, and we will start a theme,' which they passed 
around the table as the sun goes round, or as they 
drink their wine, or as men tell a story. 

**They started a theme, and the theme was love — 
not love in the vulgar sense, but in its high sense — 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 211 

love of all that is beautiful. After they had gone 
through, and after Socrates had pronounced his judg- 
ment about the true and beautiful, in came Alcibiades 
with a drunken body of Athenian boys with garlands 
around their heads to crown Agatho and crown old 
Socrates, and they said to those assembled: 'This will 
not do ; we have been drinking, and you have not' ; and 
after Alcibiades had made his talk in pursuance of the 
argument in which he undertook to dignify Socrates, 
as I remember it, they required (after the party had 
agreed to drink, it being quite late in the evening, and 
they had finished their business in the way of discus- 
sion) that Socrates should drink two measures for 
every other man's one, because he was better able to 
stand it. 

**And so, one after another, they were laid down 
on the lounges in the Athenian style, all except an old 
physician named Aristodemus, and Plato makes him 
the hardest-headed fellow except Socrates. He and 
Socrates stuck at it until the gray of the morning, and 
then Socrates took his bath and went down to the 
groves and talked academic knowledge. 

**After citing this incident, I said to this divine, *Do 
you remember that Lord Bacon said that a man should 
get drunk at least once a month, and that Montaigne, 
the French philosopher, indorsed the proposition?' 

**These exaltants that bring us up above the common 
measure of the brute, — wine and oil, — elevate us, 
enable us to seize great facts, inspirations, which, once 
possessed, are ours forever; and those who never go 
beyond the mere beastly means of animal support never 
live in the high planes of life, and cannot achieve them. 
I believe in women, wine, whiskey, and war." 

After being interrupted by Senator Wilson, Mr. 
McDougall interjected: 

**Will the Senator from Massachusetts allow me to 
make one remark? I forgot to add that the reverend 

212 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

doctor said to me, *Wcll, General, you are right; but I 
cannot afford to say it.' " 
That resolution went over.* 

*Cong. Globe, ist Session, 39th Cong., Part II, pp. 1877, 1878. 


Slavery— Plans of reconstruction— Congress in confusion— The 
breach with Johnson widens — ^A consultation with Alexander H. 
Stephens— Senate debates— Dark days after the war— Governor 
Andrew of Massachusetts endorses my amendment 

The fact that all civilized people are the descendants 
of slaves or slave masters convinced me that prejudices 
growing out of slavery would soon disappear, and that 
fraternal relations would then be restored among peo- 
ple of a common country. 

I was desirous of some plan of reconciliation, because 
no civilization ever had a commencement without 
enforced labor, and it was enforced labor which made 
labor of any kind possible. 

Wild men roaming without local habitations must 
first be tamed before they can be civilized. A powerful 
savage first subjects his less powerful friends or neigh- 
bors to a condition of slavery, and compels them to 
work and support him by tillage of the soil and other 
labor. He cannot compel others to cease roaming and 
to work without his personal supervision. Such personal 
supervision compels the slave master to remain with his 
slaves and maintain a local habitation. 

Previous to the discovery of America slavery was 
practiced throughout the world, and the practice was 
justified by the wise, benevolent, and humane of all ages 
and all countries. 

I listened to debates in my boyhood upon the ques- 
tion of slavery between most devout Christian people, 
and It was demonstrated to my satisfaction that the 
Bible itself approved of human bondage. It was not 
until after the Reformation, some four hundred years 
ago, that the right of man to own his fellow-man was 
questioned. In fact, no serious discussion of the right 

214 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

of slavery took place in any part of the world until after 
the American Revolution. 

It is true that the Puritan Fathers who settled New 
England might not have been so much addicted to prop- 
erty in man as the Cavaliers who settled in the South; 
but our Puritan ancestors were leaders in the African 
slave trade, and the ships of New England imported 
from Africa into the Southern States a large majority 
of the ancestors of the vast slave population which 
existed at the breaking out of the war. 

The great parliamentary struggles which agitated 
England for more than two centuries developed in that 
country the love of liberty which induced the Mother 
Country to abolish slavery in all her dominions. The 
movement spread to the North until the abolition of 
slavery became both a religious and political sentiment, 
which I had no doubt would ultimately extend all over 
the United States. 

I did not blame the Southern people for adhering 
to an institution older than history and sanctioned by 
the great and good of all preceding generations. They 
believed that they were right, and fought bravely for 
their homes and their property. 

The war abolished slavery and removed the bar- 
rier to Union and cooperation between the North and 
the South. Abraham Lincoln, the wisest and best man 
I ever knew, who bore the burden and heat of the war, 
and on whom the people relied for restoration of the 
Union, fell at the hand of the assassin. 

When Congress met in December, 1865, confusion, 
suspicion, and distrust prevailed throughout the coun- 
try. A joint Committee of Fifteen was created, five 
from the Senate and ten from the House, to consider 
all questions relating to the rehabilitation of the States. 
I saw from day to day the breach between Congress 
and President Johnson widening, and all the animosities 
of the war revived. I believed then, and still believe. 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 215 

that if Congress, without regard to the exasperating 
shortcomings of Andrew Johnson, — and they were 
many, — had proposed a plan of reconciliation and 
reconstruction, the South would have accepted it. 

After consulting with many patriotic men, both 
North and South, I introduced in the Senate the follow- 
ing proposed amendment to the Constitution: 

Section i. All discriminations among the people because of race, 
color, or previous condition of servitude, either in civil rights, or 
the right of suffrage, are prohibited; but the States may exempt 
persons now voters from restrictions on suffrage hereafter imposed. 

Sec. 2. Obligations incurred in aid of insurrection or of war 
against the Union and claims for compensation for slaves emanci- 
pated are void and shall not be assumed or paid by any State or 
the United States. 

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress Assembled, That whenever 
any one of the eleven States whose inhabitants were lately in insur- 
rection, through a legislature elected by a constituency restricted 
in the right of suffrage only by such laws as existed in such State 
in i860, shall have ratified the foregoing amendments to the Con- 
stitution of the United States, and shall have modified its consti- 
tution and laws in conformity therewith, then, and in that case, such 
State shall be recognized as having fully and validly resumed its 
former relations with this Government, and its chosen representa- 
tives shall be admitted into the two Houses of the National Legis- 
lature, and a general amnesty shall exist in regard to all persons 
in such State who were in any way connected with armed opposi- 
tion to the Government of the United States, wholly relieving 
them from all pains, penalties, or disabilities to which they may 
have become liable by reason of their connection with said in- 

Alexander H. Stephens, the former Vice-President 
of the Confederacy, was in Washington at that time. 
I regarded him as the most intellectual man in the 
South, and wanted to submit my plan to him. He was 
stopping at the old National Hotel, and I visited him 
in his room there. 

"If that amendment could be adopted," said he, "it 
would be the best possible settlement. The States would 

216 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

be restored at once and they could make such educa- 
tional and property qualifications as would exclude all 
who were not qualified to vote, both black and white; 
but any public statement of mine would injure the 
chances of any settlement." 

Upon the introduction of my resolution I made the 
following remarks in the Senate:* 

Mr. President: I ask leave to say a few words in explanation. 
I want the joint resolution printed and referred to the Committee 
on Reconstruction, but before that question is put, I ask unanimous 
consent to say a few words. I have been a careful observer of the 
current events since Congress assembled, and I have come to the 
conclusion that a proposition of this kind corresponds with the 
prevailing sentiment in Congress and also in the country as indi- 
cated by the public press. I do not mean to express any opinion 
as to the propriety or impropriety of negro suffrage, which I have 
studiously avoided doing on all occasions during this session. 

Mr. Pomeroy. What about the "white man's government?" 

Mr. Stewart. About the white man's government, I said that 
the idea should not be scoffed at; that it was a prejudice in the 
country that no man had a right to disregard; and I still say so. 
But I was going to explain that after having come to the conclusion 
that this is the present attitude of Congress, and of the country, 
and not having heard from the Southern States upon the proposition, 
I think it but fair and just that the best terms Congress is willing 
to grant at this session should be submitted to the South, for them 
to adopt voluntarily or to reject. This proposition avoids all the 
odious provisions which were attached to the other propositions that 
have been brought forward, in my estimation which appeared 
like coercion. It also avoids the long road of a constitutional amend- 
ment which must be contested upon Northern battlefields before the 
South will have an opportunity to be heard upon it. 

This, or something of this character, is the only proposition that 
can be heard in the South upon which they can pass during this 
session of Congress. I do not pretend to be wedded to the particular 
provisions, but simply to the general proposition. I want it to 
conform exactly to the sentiment of Congress. I want the South 
to have an opportunity to vote upon it without embodying it in any 
of the provisions which they regard as odious or coercive. After 
the proposition has been discussed, if they refuse to adopt it, it will 

♦Cong. Globe, ist Sess., 30th Cong., Part II, 1865-66, p. 1754. 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 217 

be time enough to consider other propositions; but, until they do 
refuse, I think it unjust to take from them the right to decide for 

The New York Tribune, and most of the leading 
Republican journals of the United States, indorsed and 
advocated the plan. The great war Governor of Mas- 
sachusetts, John A. Andrew, wrote me the following 

Boston, March 20, 1866. 
My Dear Sir: 

I have read with great satisfaction and interest the resolutions 
proposed by you last week in the Senate concerning the reorganiza- 
tion of the States lately in rebellion. 

If it was convenient to do so at this moment, I might perhaps 
take the liberty of writing you at some length, but it is enough for 
my present purpose to declare my hearty sympathy with the general 
design and plan they indicate. 

I beg you will allow me to call your attention to a valedictory 
address delivered in the general Court of Massachusetts on the fourth 
of January last, in which, with some elaboration, I attempted to 
discuss the same general subject, and if I correctly understand the 
resolutions you offered in the Senate, I think that you and myself 
are in entire agreement. 

It seems plain to me that the colored men must be invested with 
the rights, both political and civil, which pertain to citizenship, 
according to laws which shall impart political honors according to 
capacity and desert, and not according to descent or accident of 
birth, or else they must be exterminated. I think that the former 
rebels must be reinstated in their political rights or they must be 
exterminated. I think, also, that the same body of voters in each 
State who carried it out into rebellion must bring it back again into 
loyalty. Any other reconstruction is dangerous and delusive. 

I pray you to excuse both the brevity of this note and the liberty 
I take in expressing opinions so explicitly, and believe me, faithfully 
your friend and servant, 

John A. Andrew. 
Hon. William M. Stewart, 

United States Senate, Washington, D. C. 

The day after the receipt of this letter, Mr. Greeley, 
Governor Andrew, and a number of other leading 

218 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

Republicans came to Washington to urge the adoption 
of the plan I proposed; but the growing bitterness 
between Congress and the Executive darkened counsel, 
and precluded the possibility of favorable consideration 
of so just and mild a plan. 



Mark Twain becomes my secretary — Back from the Holy Land, and 
he looks it — The landlady terrorized — I interfere with a humor- 
ist's pleasures, and get a black patch — Revenge! Qemens the 
hero of a Nevada hold-up. 

About the winter of 1867, I think, while my family 
was in Paris, I lived in a rather tumble-down build- 
ing which at that time stood on the northwest corner 
of Fourteenth and F Streets, N. W., opposite the old 
Ebbitt House, where many of my Congressional 
cronies had quarters. The house was a weather-beaten 
old place, a relic of early Washington. 

Its proprietress was Miss Virginia Wells, an esti- 
mable lady about 70 years of age, prim, straight as a 
ramrod, and with smooth-plastered white hair. She 
belonged to one of the first families of Virginia, which 
were quite numerous in Washington, and was very 
aristocratic; but having lost everything in the war, she 
had come to Washington, and managed to make a 
precarious living as a lodging-house keeper. 

I had the second floor of her residence, one of the 
rooms, facing upon both streets, a spacious apartment 
about seventy-five feet long, which I had divided by 
a curtain drawn across it, making a little chamber at^ 
the rear, in which I slept. The front part was my 
sitting-room. I had a desk there, and tables, with 
writing materials, and my books, and a sideboard upon 
which I kept at all times plenty of cigars and a supply 
of whiskey, for I occasionally smoked and took a drink 
of liquor. 

I was seated at my window one morning when a 
very disreputable-looking person slouched into the room. 
He was arrayed in a seedy suit, which hung upon his 
lean frame in bunches with no style worth mentioning. 

220 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

A sheaf of scraggy black hair leaked out of a battered 
old slouch hat, like stuffing from an ancient Colonial 
sofa, and an evil-smelling cigar butt, very much fraz- 
zled, protruded from the corner of his mouth. He had 
a very sinister appearance. He was a man I had known 
around the Nevada mining camps several years before, 
and his name was Samuel L. Clemens. 

I suppose he was the most lovable scamp and nui- 
sance who ever blighted Nevada. When I first knew 
him he was a reporter on the Territorial Enterprise, 
which was otherwise a very reputable paper published 
in Viginia City, and his brother, Orion Clemens, was a 
respectable young gentleman, and well liked. 

Sam Clemens was a busy person. He went around 
putting things in the paper about people, and stirring 
up trouble. He did not care whether the things he 
wrote were true or not, just so he could write some- 
thing, and naturally he was not popular. I did not 
associate with him. 

This Clemens one day wrote something about a dis- 
tinguished citizen of Virginia City, a friend of mine, 
which was entirely characteristic of Clemens, as it had 
not the slightest foundation in fact. I remonstrated 
with him. 

"You are getting worse every day," I said. "Why 
can't you be genial, like your brother Orion? You 
ought to be hung for what you have published this 

"I don't mean anything by that," returned Clemens. 
"I do not know this friend of yours. For all / am 
aware he may be a very desirable and conscientious 
man. But I must make a living, and so I must write. 
My employers demand it, and I am helpless." 

He said he wrote it "because it was humorous." 
Maybe it was. I did not undertake to argiie with him. 
I could not see it, and so I let it go at that. 

Clemens had a great habit of making fun of the 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 221 

young fellows and the girls, and wrote ridiculous pieces 
about parties and other social events, to which he was 
never invited. After a while he went over to Carson 
City, and touched up the people over there, and got 
everybody down on him. I thought he had faded from 
our midst forever, but the citizens of Carson drove 
him away. At any rate, he drifted back to Virginia 
City in a few weeks. He didn't have a friend, but the 
boys got together and said they would give a party, and 
invite Clemens to it, and make him feel at home, and 
respectable and decent, and kindly, and generous, and 
loving, and considerate of the feelings of others. I 
could have warned them, but I didn't. 

Clemens went to that party and danced with the 
prettiest girls, and monopolized them, and enjoyed 
himself, and made a good meal, and then shoved over 
to the Enterprise office and wrote the whole thing up 
in an outrageous manner. He lambasted that party for 
all the English language would allow, and if any of 
the guests was unfortunate enough to be awkward or 
had big feet, or a wart on the nose, Clemens did not 
forget it. He fairly strained his memory. 

Of course this made the boys angry, and we decided 
to get even. There was a stage that ran from Carson 
to Virginia City, and Clemens was a passenger on it 
one night The boys laid in wait, and when the stage 
lumbered by a lonely spot they swooped out, and upset 
it, and turned it upside down, and dragged Clemens 
out and threw him in a canyon, and broke up his port- 
manteau, and threw that in on top of him. He was 
the scaredest man west of the Mississippi; but the 
next morning, when he crawled back to town, and it 
was day, and light, and safe, he began to swell a little, 
and pretty soon he was bragging about his narrow 
escape. By and by he began to color it up, and add 
details that he had overlooked at first, until he made 
out that he had been in one of the most desperate stage 

222 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

robberies in the history of the West, and it was a 
pretty poor story that he couldn't lug that one into, 
by the nape of the neck, sort of casually. 

After that he drifted away, and I thought he had 
been hanged, or elected to Congress, or something like 
that, and I had forgotten him, until he slouched into 
my room, and then of course I remembered him. I 

"If you put anything in the paper about mc I'll sue 
you for libel." He waved the suggestion aside with 
easy familiarity. 

"Senator," he said, "I've come to see you on import- 
ant business. I am just back from the Holy Land." 

"That is a mean thing to say of the Holy Land 
when it isn't here to defend itself," I replied, 
looking him over. "But maybe you didn't get all 
the advantages. You ought to go back and take a post- 
graduate course. Did you walk home?" 

"I have a proposition," said Clemens, not at all 
ruffled. "There's millions in it. All I need is a little 
cash stake. I have been to the Holy Land with a 
party of innocent and estimable people who are fairly 
aching to be written up, and I think I could do 
the job neatly and with dispatch if I were not 
troubled with other — more — pressing — considerations. 
I've started the book already, and it is a wonder. I can 
vouch for it." 

"Let me see the manuscript," I said. He pulled a 
dozen sheets or so from his pocket and handed them 
to me. I read what he had written, and saw that it 
was bully, so I continued, "I'll appoint you my clerk 
at the Senate, and you can live on the salary. There's 
a little hall bedroom across the way where you can 
sleep, and you can write your book in here. Help your- 
self to the whiskey and cigars, and wade in." 

He accepted all of my invitations, in the modest and 
unassuming manner for which he had been noted in 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 223 

Nevada, and became a member of my family, and 
my clerk. 

It was not long before Clemens took notice of Miss 
Virginia. Her timid, aristocratic natujre shrank from 
him, and I think she was half afraid of him. He did 
not overlook any opportunities to make her life miser- 
able, and was always playing some joke on her. He 
would lurch around the halls, pretending to be intoxi- 
cated, and would throw her into a fit about six 
times a day. 

He would burn the light in his bedroom all night, 
and started her figuring up her expense account with a 
troubled, anxious face. Pretty soon he took to smok- 
ing cigars in bed. 

She never slept after this discovery, but every night 
would lie awake, with her clothes handy on a chair, 
expecting the house to be burned down any minute, and 
ready to skip out at the first alarm ; and she became so 
pale, and thin, and wasted, and troubled that it would 
have melted a pirate's heart to see her. She crept to 
my room one day, the mere shadow of her former self. 
She no longer leaned over backward, as she usually 
did, because of being so straight and dignified, but was 
badly bent. I was shocked. 

**Senator," she said, **if you don't ask that friend 
of yours to leave I shall have to give up my lodging- 
house, and God knows what will become of me then. 
He smokes cigars in bed all night, and has ruined my 
best sheets, and I expect to be burned out any time. 
I've been on the alert now for three weeks, but I can't 
keep it up much longer. I need sleep." 

I told her to leave the room, and I called Clemens. 
He slouched in. 

**Clemens," I said, **if you don't stop annoying this 
little lady I'll give you a sound thrashing — I'll wait 
till that book's finished. I don't want to interfere with 
literature — I'll thrash you after it's finished." 

224 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

He blew some smoke in my face. 

"You are mighty unreasonable," he replied. "Why 
do you want to interfere with my pleasures?" 

I thought he would behave himself after that. But 
one day a week later Miss Virginia staggered into my 
room again, in a flood of tears. She said : 

"Senator, that man will kill me. I can't stand it. 
If he doesn't go I'll have to ask you to give up your 
rooms, and the Lord knows whether I'll be able to 
rent them again." 

This filled me with alarm. I was very comfortable 
where I was. I sent her away kindly, and called Clem- 
ens. He slouched in again. 

"You have got to stop this foolishness," I said. "If 
you don't cease annoying this little lady I'll amend my 
former resolution, and give you that thrashing here 
and now. Then I'll send you to the hospital, and pay 
your expenses, and bring you back, and you can finish 
your book upholstered in bandages." He saw that I 
meant business. 

"All right," he replied, "I'll give up my amusements, 
but I'll get even with you." 

He did. When he wrote "Roughing It" he said I 
had cheated him out of some mining stock or something 
like that, and that he had given me a sound thrashing; 
and he printed a picture of me in the book, with a patch 
over one eye. 

Clemens remained with me for some time. He 
wrote his book in my room, and named it "The Inno- 
cents Abroad." I was confident that he would come to 
no good end, but I have heard of him from time to time 
since then, and I understand that he has settled down 
and become respectable. 


Fourteenth Amendmeat to the Constitution — Explanation of my 
vote — Military bill passed the House — Opposition to martial 
law — President Johnson vetoed. 

The antagonism between the Executive and the 
Legislative Departments of the Government continued 
to increase until an impassable gulf lay between them. 
President Johnson repudiated every sentiment of recon- 
ciliation, and assumed that he alone was the Govern- 
ment of the United States, and that any participation 
in that government by the Legislative Department was 

The Committee of Fifteen in due time reported what 
is now the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution 
of the United States, as follows: 

Section i. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, 
and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United 
States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make 
or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities 
of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any 
person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, nor 
deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the 

Sec. 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the 
several States according to their respective numbers, counting the 
whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. 
But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors 
for President and Vice-President of the United States, representa- 
tives in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a State, or 
the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the 
male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and 
citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for 
participation in rebellion or other crime, the basis of representation 
therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such 
male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty- 
one years of age in such State. 

Sec. 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in 

226 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

Congress, or elector of the President and Vice-President, or hold 
any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any 
State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Con- 
gress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any 
State Legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, 
to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged 
in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort 
to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds 
of each House, remove such disability. 

Sec. 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, 
authorized by law, including debts incurred for pajrment of pensions 
and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, 
shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any 
State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid 
of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any 
claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such 
debts, obligations, and claims shall be held illegal and void. 

Sec. 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce by 
appropriate legislation the provisions of this article. 

It was clear to me that the sweeping disfranchise- 
ment in Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment would 
greatly delay the reconstruction of the States. It 
excluded from participation in the rehabilitation of the 
Confederate States the great mass of the intelligent 
and well-to-do citizens, because nearly all of them had 
held some office under the State or National Govern- 
ment. It is true that Congress retained the power in 
that same section by a two-thirds vote in each House 
to remove the disabilities imposed. I pointed out in 
debate from time to time the inadequacy of the pro- 
posed amendment to restore the Union, and called atten- 
tion to the strife and ill feeling that would follow 
dilatory or harsh measures. 

*^^ maintained that it was the duty of Congress to 
state fully the demands of the Government and leave 
the South free to accept or reject the conditions pro- 
posed. But finally I was forced to the conclusion that 
the war between President Johnson and Congress was 
such that nothing could be done that was not sane- 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 227 

tioned by the Committee of Fifteen, and I thought best 
to support the amendment which they had reported^ 
On the 5th of June, 1866, while the Fourteenth Amend- 
ment was pending, I arose in the Senate and said:* 

Mr. President: As I shall vote for the plan agreed upon 
among my political friends, it is proper that I should make a brief 
statement. While it is not the plan that I would have adopted, 
as is well known, still it is the best that I can get and contains 
many excellent provisions. It repudiates the rebel debt and affirms 
the sacred obligation of the Nation to pay the debt contracted in 
preservation of the Union. 

It does not base representation on voters, which I preferred, 
but it approximates it more nearly than any other plan presented, 
and recognizes the principle that a white man in the North is 
entitled to equal representation with a white man in the South. It 
declares that all men are entitled to life, liberty and property; 
and imposes upon the Government the duty of disregarding these 
solemn obligations, but fails to adopt the easy and direct means 
for the attainment of the results proposed. It refuses the aid of 
four million people in maintaining the Government of the people. 
It involves the Freedmen's Bureau bill. Civil Rights bill, test oaths 
and exclusion from office, all supported by military power. I would 
not object to these, for I recognize the obligation of full pro- 
tection for all men, if there were no cheaper, easier, and better plan 
for the attainment of this worthy object * * * . 

Subsequent events have demonstrated that I was 
right. If the plan that I proposed, and which at the 
time was approved by many of the wisest and most 
patriotic of men, had been adopted, the South would 
have accomplished themselves, of their own volition, 
substantial results which twenty years of coercive legis- 
lation, aided by the military, finally secured. I verily 
believe if Mr. Lincoln could have lived that some 
simple plan would have been adopted for securing all 
the beneficial results which have since been attained, 
without the heartburnings and animosities engendered 
by the strife of reconstruction. 

*Cong. Globe., ist Sess., 39th Cong., Part IV, p. 2964. 

228 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

Nothing was done by the States in preparation for 
rehabilitation and restoration of the Union under the 
Fourteenth Amendment. The President contended that 
he had reorganized the States by virtue of his Execu- 
tive authority. Congress not having stated or pro- 
claimed practicable conditions upon which the States 
might return, everything was in uncertainty and 

Upon the convening of the 39th Congress in Decem- 
ber, 1865, the Committee of Fifteen devoted them- 
selves to the consideration of the whole subject of 
reconstruction. On February 15, 1867, Senator Wil- 
liams of Oregon presented to the Senate a bill which 
had been agreed upon by the Committee of Fifteen, 
and passed by the House, placing the Confederate 
States under military rule, pure and simple. Senator 
Johnson of Maryland offered an amendment, origin- 
ally prepared by Mr. Bingham of Ohio, but afterward 
known as the Blaine amendment. Mr. Williams, for 
the Committee, said that no amendments to the mili- 
tary bill reported by the Committee would be accepted, 
although he had given notice the night previous that 
he would offer the Blaine amendment himself. 

I arose at once and entered my protest against plac- 
ing the South under military rule without some pro- 
vision in the bill whereby the people of that section 
could relieve themselves of military government by 
complying with reasonable conditions. I pointed out 
at length that if the bill should become a law, the 
Southern States could do nothing to restore their 
relations with the Government; that the Government 
of the United States could do nothing without affirma- 
tive legislation repealing the arbitrary provisions of the 
proposed legislation; that either House of Congress 
could prevent any modifications of the bill after it 
became a law; that the President might veto any 
measure of relief. 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 229 

I declared most emphatically that, unless some pro- 
visions were incorporated in the bill, whereby the South- 
ern people by their own action could relieve them- 
selves of military rule, I would not vote for the bill 
though every member of both Houses of Congress 
might do so. I said I would not trust an irrevocable 
military government for the South which non-action 
might make perpetual. 

I maintained the debate until the Senate adjourned, 
and during that time a large number of Senators 
expressed either concurrence or sympathy with my 
views. The Republicans in the Senate were forced to 
hold a caucus and modify the bill. The result was the 
adoption of the principles of the Blaine amendment 
with slight modifications. The 5th section of the bill, 
as it finally passed both Houses and became a law, 
reads as follows:* 

Section 5. And be it further enacted, That when the people 
of any one of the said rebel States shall have formed a constitution 
of government in conformity with the Constitution of the United 
States in all respects, framed by a convention of delegates elected 
by the male citizens of said State, twenty-one years old and 
upward, of whatever race, color or previous condition, who have 
been resident in said State for one year previous to the day of such 
election, except such as may be disfranchised for participation in 
the rebellion or for felony at common law, and when such con- 
stitution shall provide that the elective franchise shall be enjoyed 
by all such persons as have the qualifications herein stated for 
electors or delegates, and when such constitution shall be ratified 
by a majority of the persons voting on the question of ratification 
who are qualified as electors for delegates, and when such con- 
stitution shall have been submitted to Congress for examination 
and approval, and Congress shall have approved the same, and when 
said State, by vote of its Legislature elected under said constitu- 
tion, shall have adopted the amendment of the Constitution of the 
United States, proposed by the Thirty-ninth Congress, and known 
as Article Fourteenth, and when said Article shall have become 
a part of the Constitution of the United States, said State shall be 

♦14th U. S. Statutes at Large, p. 429. 

230 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

declared entitled to representation in Congress, and Senators and 
Represeatatives shall be admitted therefrom on their taking the 
oath prescribed by law, and then and thereafter the preceding 
sections of this Act shall be inoperative in said State: Provided, 
That no person excluded from the privilege of holding office by 
said proposed amendment to the Constitution of the United States 
shall be eligible to election as a member of the convention to 
frame a constitution for any of said rebel States, nor shall any 
such person vote for members of such convention. 

The law having passed over the veto of Andrew 
Johnson, he exercised the full power of the Executive 
to prevent reconstruction under It. 

The leading statesmen of the South were disqualified. 
At first only a few came forward and were relieved to 
have the disabilities removed by a two-thirds vote by 
each House of Congress as provided by the Fourteenth 

In the mean time, the Northern men, generally of a 
speculative quality, gathered in the several Southern 
States, and by cooperation with an ignorant colored 
population, secured control of the Legislatures in some 
of the Southern States, and a powerful influence in all 
of them. Corruption and misgovernment were the inevi- 
table consequence. Finally a caucus of the Republican 
Senators was called, under which with some subsequent 
amendments the States were finally restored. 


General Grant elected President — Re-elected to the Senate in 
1869 — Conference with Grant — I write the Fifteenth Amend- 
ment — Its passage by Congress — Grant's Inaugural recommen- 
dation on negro suffrage. 

In 1868 General Grant was elected President of the 
United States. His popularity as a soldier and fair- 
minded man secured for him an overwhelming majority, 
including three-fourths of all the States. The Chicago 
Convention which nominated him declared for equal 
suffrage in the South, without regard to race or color, 
indorsed the legislation of Congress, and severely con- 
demned the administration of Andrew Johnson. 

President Grant's Administration, by the platform 
on which he was elected, the public press, and the 
orators of the campaign, was committed to the pro- 
tection of the emancipated slaves, either by granting 
to them suffrage, or the exercise by Congress of all 
measures, however coercive, to secure equality before 
the law. 

The Nevada Legislature which elected me my own 
successor in 1869 was chosen at the time of the election 
of President Grant, and I returned to Washington the 
week before Congress met, about November 25, 1868, 
after President Grant's election. Many bills were pend- 
ing providing for colored suffrage and protection for 
emancipated slaves by various devices; such as amend- 
ments to the Constitution securing equal suffrage, 
amendments to the Freedmen's Bureau bill and the 
Civil Rights bill. 

I read over all the various propositions for suffrage 
and for direct legislation protecting the negroes, and 
recognized the fact that the general tone of all the 
propositions for the protection of the negro was in 

232 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

harmony with the sentiment of the campaign resulting 
in General Grant's overwhelming victory. 

I called on General Grant the following evening at 
his residence on I Street. 

He invited me into his private room, and I told him 
in a general way of the various plans that had 
been referred to the Judiciary Committee by the Senate. 
I said that I would like very much for the guidance 
of my own conduct to know what he thought should 
be done. 

We discussed the matter for several hours, with the 
understanding that Congress and the incoming Adminis- 
tration were thoroughly committed to the people to 
place them in power to protect emancipated slaves by 
an amendment to the Constitution extending equal suf- 
frage to all, or coercive measures of legislation. The 
former would satisfy the country by placing in the 
hands of the colored man the ballot with which to 
protect himself. The latter would involve coercive 
measures of doubtful constitutionality to be enforced by 
military power. 

General Grant inquired of me if I thought the negro 
could protect himself from oppression by the use of the 
ballot. I told him the ballot would be his ultimate 
protection, but that when the whites of the South under- 
took, in good faith, to carry on their own governments, 
the ballot of the negro would amount to very little. I 
thought they would practically be excluded, but that 
the right to vote secured to the colored man by the 
Constitution of the United States would save him from 
peon laws and obtain powerful friends who would pre- 
vent his reenslavement. 

I called Grant's attention to the fact that the negroes 
of the Northern, and in some of the Southern, States, 
would be allowed to exercise the right of suffrage with- 
out molestation, and that in the near future they would 
have the balance of power in many of the States, con- 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 233 

sequently there would always be a majority of the people 
of the United States who would take an interest in pre- 
serving the rights of the colored man. I also called his 
attention to my original proposition, which I offered 
before the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment for 
universal suffrage and universal amnesty, providing that 
the States might exempt voters under the law of i860 
from the restrictions which they might see fit to impose. 

If that had been adopted the Union would have been 
restored, with the Government in the hands of the intel- 
ligent white men; ignorant negroes and whites being 
excluded until they could attain qualifications entitling 
them to vote. 

General Grant was silent for some time, and finally 
said he believed suffrage the safest remedy. 

**What can I do?'* he said. **I am not President and 
will not be until the 4th of March." 

"You are much more powerful now than you will be 
after your inauguration," I replied. "Three-fourths of 
the States, being the number necessary to adopt the 
amendment, have already voted for you, and the legis- 
latures of nearly all of them will be in session during 
the coming winter. The number of persons desiring 
office may not be a majority of the people, but they are 
numerous enough to control the State legislatures so far 
as complying with any reasonable wish of yours is con- 

"Do you think that is so?" he said. 

"Yes, most emphatically," I replied. 

"What can I do?" said he. "I cannot make procla- 
mation of my views until after my inauguration." 

"Certainly not," I answered; "but when this ques- 
tion is brought before Congress men will flock to you, 
asking your views. You can reply in one sentence 
by saying you are for the amendment. I need not sug- 
gest to you how to prevent further conversation; you 
know how to do that." 

234 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

**I am for the amendment, and will say so on all 
proper occasions," was his reply. 
^^Ve then parted. At the first meeting of the 
Juaiciary Committee — composed at that time of Sen- 
ators Trumbull, chairman; Stewart, Frelinghuysen, 
Edmunds, Conkling, and Hendricks — I moved that the 
resolutions relating to an amendment to the Constitu- 
tion granting equal suffrage without regard to race or 
color be taken up, and Mr. Conkling smilingly 
remarked : 

**I desire to amend the motion that all resolutions, 
bills, and other matters relating to colored suffrage be 
referred to the Senator from Nevada," which proposi- 
tion received every vote of the committee except my 
own, I remaining silent. 

I took all the papers referred to me, and amended 
a resolution offered by Senator Jjendeig on of Missour i, 
known as Resolution No. 8, which read as follows : 

No State shall deny or abridge the right of its citizens to vote 
or hold office on account of race, color, or previous condition. 

I changed the phraseology of the resolution so that 
it would read as follows: 

The right of citizens of the United States to vote or hold 
office shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any 
State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servituSk 

The committee, without suggesting a change of the 
language, authorized me to report the amendment, and 
also authorized me to report adversely on the numer- 
ous other propositions referred to me. 

On January 15, 1869, I reported the amendment to 
the Senate and returned all other papers and docu- 
ments relating to the subject, and asked that they be 
indefinitely postponed, which motion was granted. 

Senator Thayer of Nebraska inquired with regard 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 235 

to the report. I asked for its reading. The Secretary 
read the amendment as reported, as follows:* 

Article 15. The right of citizens of the United States to vote 
and hold office shall not be denied or abridged by the United States 
or any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of 
servitude. And Congress shall have power to enforce the pro- 
visions of this article by appropriate legislation. 

I had much difficulty ij^ getting the resolution taken 
up for consideration, buC^nally on January 23, 1869, 
I succeeded in bringing the amendment before the Sen- 
ate by a vote of 33 to 9, as follows: 

Yeas : Messrs. Abbott, Cameron, Cattell, Chandler, 
Cole, Conkling, Corbett, Drake, Edmunds, Fessenden, 
Frelinghuysen, Grimes, Harlan, Harris, McDonald, 
Morgan, Morrill of Maine, Morrill of Vermont, Mor- 
ton, Nye, Osborn, Pool, Ross, Sawyer, Sherman, Spen- 
cer, Stewart, Sumner, Thayer, Trumbull, Wade, 
Williams, and Wilson — 33. 

Nays : Messrs. Bayard, Davis, Dixon, Doolittle, Fow- 
ler, Hendrick>&».JMc Cr€ € ry ^- NoFteft^aod Vtdcef?=^9^ 

Tfie dfscussion was very lengthy and elaborate. 
Many Senators who were anxious to defeat the amend- 
ment labored to embarrass its consideration. Charles 
Sumner of Massachusetts, although violently opposed 
to the amendment, did not place himself on record in 
antagonism to the measure, but continually inspired 
motions for adjournment. Such motions were con- 
stantly made by Senators who would not go on record 
in any manner, showing opposition to the amendment. 
My method of thwarting these tactics was to put them 
on the record by calling yeas and nays. This forced 
them to vote against their own motion to adjourn, lay 
on the table, etc. 

Mr. Sumner would not vote for the amendment and 
absented himself on its final passage. His opposition 

♦Cong. Globe, 3rd Sess., 40th Cong., Part I, p. 379. 

236 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

was not because he was opposed to negro suffrage, but 
because he believed the power existed in Congress to 
grant suffrage by direct legislation, and he was really 
opposed to the amendment because he regarded it as 
an admission that Congress did not already possess 

^After days and nights of struggle and debate, the 
refelution passed by more than a two-thirds majority, 
as follows: 

Yeas: Messrs. Anthony, Cragin, Dixon, Doolittle, 
Edmunds, Ferry, Fessenden, Harlan, Howard, Howe, 
Morrill of Maine, Morrill of Vermont, Nye, Osbom, 
Patterson of New Hampshire, Ramsey, Rice, Stewart, 
Van Winkle, Wade, Warner, Welch, Willey, Wil- 
liams, and Wilson — 25. 

Nays: Messrs. Buckalew, Cole, Davis, Hendricks, ^ 
McCrcery, Morgan, Morton, Norton, and Ross — 9r^ 

The House passed a substitute for the resolution m 
language entirely different/A conference committee 
was appointed, consisting \f William M. Stewart, 
George F. Edmunds, and Roscoe Conkling, managers 
on the part of the Senate, and George S. Boutwell, 
John A. Bingham, and John A. Logan, managers on 
the part of the Houser 

Bingham and Logan were willing to take the Senate 
amendment with an amendment striking out the words 
**to hold office." I was willing to strike out these 
words, because I thought the right to vote carried with 
it the right to hold office. But Mr. Edmunds, one of 
my colleagues, would not consent to the change. Mr. 
Conkling agreed with me, making the majority of the 
committee, so that the amendment as originally pre- 
pared by me and reported to the Senate was adopted 
by the conference committee with those words stricken 
out. I quote from the Congressional Record the report 
of the Committee: 

Mr. Stewart submitted the following report: 

The Committee of Conference on the disagreeing votes of the 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 


two Houses on the joint resolution (S. R. No. 8) proposing an 
amendment of the Constitution of the United States, having met, 
after full and free conference have agreed to recommend, and do 
recommend, to their respective Houses as follows: That the House 
recede from their amendments and agree to the resolution of the 
Senate with an amendment as follows: in section i, line two, 
strike out the words "and hold office"; and the Senate agree to 
the same. 

W. M. Stewart, 


Managers on the part of the Senate. 

George S. Boutwell, 

John A. Bingham, 

John A. Logan, 
Managers on the part of the House. 

Then followed a discussion lasting until about three 
o'clock in the morning of February 27, 1869. The 
House of Representatives having in the mean time 
agreed to the report of the committee of conference, 
the final vote in the Senate, as follows, passed the 
apiendment : 

^Yeas: Messrs. Anthony, Cattell, Chandler, Cole, 
Oxjcling, Conness, Cragin, Drake, Ferry, Fessenden, 
Frelinghuysen, Harlan, Harris, Howard, Howe, Kel- 
logg, McDonald, Morgan, Morrill of Maine, Morrill 
of Vermont, Morton, Nye, Osbom, Patterson of New 
Hampshire, Ramsey, Rice, Robertson, Sherman, 

Stewart, Thayer, Tipton, Trumbull, Van Winkle, ^y 

Wade, Warner, Welch, Willey, Williams, and 
Wilson — 39. 

Nays: Messrs. Bayard, Buckalew, Davis, Dixon, 
Doolittle, Fowler, Hendricks, McCreery, Norton, Pa^ 
terson of Tennessee, Pool, Vickers, and Whyte — 13. ^ 

I had previously requested the telegraph office at 
Carson to keep open that night for an important 
dispatch. The day fixed for the adjournment of the 
Legislature of Nevada was such that a letter would 
not reach the capital in time for action during the ses- 
sion of the Legislature. 

^ V 




238 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

To secure the vote of Nevada for the ratification of 
the amendment, I telegraphed its full text to the Legis- 
lature, requiring it to be repeated back to me. 

Promptly at nine o'clock I called at General Grant's 
headquarters in the Winder Building. The General 
arrived about the same time. I told him of the pas- 
sage of thp Fi ftee nth Amendment by both Houses of 
Congress.xHe^said ne was glad of it, and asked what 
he could do to secure its adoption. 

"Recommend it in your inaugural address," said I, 

^j >r "and its adoption is certain^^He sent for three or four 

of his generals who were in the building; they came 

to his room and he told them that the Fifteenth Amend- 

Y ^.•' ment had been passed and that he would recommend it 

'S''*^ y in his inaugural. 

'^ President Grant, in his inaugural address of March 

4, 1869, said: 

The question of suffrage is one which is likely to agitate the 
public as long as a portion of the citizens of the nation are 
excluded from its privilege in any State. It seems to me very 
desirable that this question should be settled now, and I entertain 
the hope and express the desire that it may be by the ratification 
of the fifteenth article of the amendment to the Constitution. 

It would have been much wiser to adopt restrictions, 
excluding the ignorant, vicious, and incompetent of all 
classes by tests which would limit the voting popula- 
tion to intelligent citizens with some interest in the wel- 
fare of the country. But the effect of the amendment 
has been what I supposed it would be, to secure for the 
negro in the Northern States his right to vote without 



I am denounced by Charles Sumner — An overestimated statesman — 
My reply to him in the Senate — How Lincoln played on Sum- 
ner's vanity — Sumner's denunciation of Grant at a dinner to the 
British Commission — He is deposed from important Senate 
chairmanship — A State secret. 

Charles Sumner was a spectacular character. The 
assault that Congressman Brooks of South Carolina 
made on him in the Senate Chamber shortly before the 
war created intense indignation throughout the North. 
The elder Francis P. Blair, who was at the time 
manipulating anti-slavery politics, took Sumner to his 
house and caused his injuries to be advertised in a most 
exaggerated manner. Sumner was an actor, and played 
the martyr to the admiration of his friends. 

When the Senators from the South retired Sumner 
fell heir to the chairmanship of the Committee on 
Foreign Relations. His egotism was such as to make 
it impossible for him to admit that he had an equal in 
cither house of Congress. There was only one man in 
Washington who understood him and knew how to 
manage him, and that was President Lincoln, who 
seemed to know everything. 

He kept Sumner in line, and made him useful, by 
sending for him about twice a week for consultation. 
After consulting him a while, he would allow him to 
leave, but before Sumner could get out of the grounds 
of the White House Lincoln would send a servant 
after him and call him back to consult him about some 
other important matter, and by his adroit tactics he 
made Sumner think he was running the Government, 
commanding all the armies, and regulating all the civil 
affairs of the United States. 

After the passage of the reconstruction measures. 


240 Reminitcences of William M. Stewart 

Congress passed laws prescribing the conditions upon 
which the Southern States might renew their relations 
with the Union. I reported a bill from the Judiciary 
Committee providing for the rehabilitation of Virginia 
upon certain conditions, which became a law. Virginia 
complied literally with all the provisions of the law, 
and I reported from the Judiciary Committee another 
bill to restore Virginia to the Union.^Govemor-elect 
Walker of Virginia occupied a seat on the floor of the 
Senate while the bill was under consideration. 

Mr. Sumner denounced him as a traitor. I called 
the attention of the Senator from Massachusetts to the 
fact that Governor Walker had been a loyal man ^ -^ 
throughout the war, and that he had done nothing to ,^r ^ 
provoke unfavorable criticism. I insisted that he had ^^, ^ 
a right to respectful consideration^ We had agreed to 
take a vote at four o'clock in the afternoon. About ten 
minutes before that hour Mr. Sumner, having the 
floor, said, *'The Senator from Nevada having be- 
trayed the cause, it is natural for him to defend 
traitors." He continued to talk until the hour of 
four o'clock. 

I asked unanimous consent to reply, which was very 
properly denied by the Senate, but I gave Mr. Sumner 
notice that I would make a formal reply when the bill 
for the admission, or rather rehabilitation, of the 
State of Mississippi was reached. During the debate 
on the Virginia bill Mr. Sumner was very boastful. 
He said he was the author of the provision in the 
reconstruction measure which conferred suffrage on the 
negro. He also said that he voted for the Fifteenth 
Amendment. When the bill for the admission of 
Mississippi was before the Senate I took occasion to 
prove that both of these statements were false. 

I showed by the record that Mr. Bingham of Ohio 
was the author of the provision in the reconstruction 
measure conferring suffrage, and that Mr. Blaine had 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 241 

offered a substitute for Bingham's resolution in the 
House of Representatives, which Bingham accepted; 
it was afterward known as the Blaine amendment. I 
said that Mr. Sumner had denounced the amendment 
as an absurdity from beginning to end, and I declared 
that Mr. Sumner not only failed to vote for the Fif- 
teenth Amendment, but absented himself before the 
vote was reached. 

After I had concluded my remarks Mr. Sumner took 
the floor and vigorously contended that he was an anti- 
slavery man, and had been for a long time. To prove 
that he was, he brought in a pile of pamphlets, four or 
five inches thick, which he said were evidence of his 
anti-slavery record. But he did not respond to my argu- 
ment. He neither affirmed nor denied what I had 
charged. Said I: 

**Mr. President: The Senator from Massachusetts 
said in the outset that he did not commence controversy 
with anybody. That shows how perfectly unconscious he 
must be of his own course in the Senate. *I never make 
an attack on a Senator; I never begin any controversy,' 
he once before said. The records of this Senate will 
not bear any man out in such a statement. 

**But when the Senator from Massachusetts and 
myself were on the most friendly relations, when nothing 
had occurred between us to mar those relations, and 
while I was advocating the admission of Virginia as 
innocently and as earnestly as possible, not thinking 
that I was deserting the principles of the Republican 
party, the Senator from Massachusetts used the follow- 
ing language: 

** 'Something has been said by different Senators of 
plighted faith. Sir, there is a faith that is plighted, and 
by that I will stand, God willing, to the end. Let the 
Senator from Nevada desert; let him, joining the 
Democrats, take the other course; but I stand firm by 
the plighted faith of this great Republic' " 


242 ReminUcences of William M. Stewart 

"Read on," thundered Sumner, **read the next sen- 

**0h, I beg your pardon," said I, amid laughter, "I 
am not your reading-clerk. Who made the first attack? 
After he had made that attack I referred to the fact 
that he had opposed the Fifteenth Amendment; and I 
challenged him then to say whether or not he voted for 
that amendment to the Constitution. Now he gets up 
here and reads his biography. Nobody questions his 
biography. Nobody questions that he issued the 
pamphlets that he has read. But are they in laws? 
Have they been reduced to form? The point is not 
whether he has said a great many things on behalf of 
equal rights, but whether he has been practical ; whether 
he has ever been in favor of the bill under consideration 
to secure equal rights; whether he has not dealt in 
generalities, and occupied in abstractions the time that 
ought to have been used in legislation; and whether he 
has by that acquired a position that authorizes him to 
read out of the party me or any other Senator who is 
trying to do his duty; whether he has a right to issue 
a bull of excommunication; whether he is the Pope of 
the Senate to issue his thunderbolts of anathema! It 
seems that he is the only 'principle' in the Senate. I 
know complaint is made of our occupying time; but the 
Senator from Massachusetts is our only principle; and 
can we not discuss principle? He is the only man that 
lectures us on principle when we want to legislate; and 
we may as well occupy the time of the Senate in discuss- 
ing this principle." 

*' Will my friend permit me to ask him a question ?" 
interrupted Senator Edmunds. 

*'No; I will not yield to anybody," said I. 

**I was only going to ask him to end the controversy. 
He says he never begins one," said Edmunds. 

*'Now," said I, "how much has the Senator from 
Massachusetts proved of the precise issue that I made, 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 243 

that he was not the author of that provision? How 
much has he proved to entitle him to this high-sounding 
pretension? The Senator dwelt especially on the first 
act of reconstruction, known as *the act to provide for 
the more efficient government of the rebel States,' and 
charges that I did not vote for it. This assault to-day 
compels me to make a statement now which I never 
supposed I should be called to make. I make it now 
with hesitation, but rather to show his course than my 
own. Sir, I am the author of the provision in that act 
conferring suffrage." 

**The Senator again does not read the whole sen- 
tence," was Sumner's only response. 

**The Senator has read it," I replied. **It has been 
read here repeatedly. What is there in it? He did 
vote for this particular provision, but he did not vote 
for the bill when it was in; but to-day he says 
'unhappily' the Senate would not agree to the Blaine 
amendment, which the majority of the Republicans of 
the House had voted in. *UnhappilyI' What did the 
Senator from Massachusetts do to help to put it in? 
When that was under discussion I was advocating it ; he 
was opposing it. Speaking of the Blaine amendment 
before the caucus was held, the Senator said in the 
Senate : 

** 'There is another amendment* that ought to come 
in in that same connection, though I feel that this whole 
proposition is so thoroughly vicious in every line and in 
every word from the first to the last that in order to 
make it at all so as to receive, it seems to me, a single 
vote, it ought to be amended from the first word to 
the last.' " 

**Then Mr. Hendricks, as he had an artful way 
of doing, interposed and complimented the Senator from 
Massachusetts for the advanced position he occupied. 
These advanced positions have always annoyed us in 

♦Cong. Globe, 2nd Sess., 39th Cong., p. 1392. 

244 ReminUcences of William M. Stewart 

legislation. Discovering the embarrassment of our 
party that we were struggling to get out of, Mr. Hend- 
ricks gave the Senator a compliment about wanting 
something else, knowing his weakness to be for 'the 
other bill,' and that it would always be for *the other 
bill,' and Hr. Hendricks said: 

** *If the Senator will give way I will make a motion 
that the Senate adjourn ; but before I make the motion 
I wish to suggest that this is no ordinary legislation in 
which we are concerned. It is, in my judgment, the 
gravest legislation that has ever occupied Congress. It 
is claimed by its friends to be the work of reconstruction 
of our Government; it is believed by its enemies to be 
the work of destruction. Now, whether the friends of 
the measure be right in this opinion, or the enemies be 
right in their very opposite opinion, this is true, that 
the subject is worthy of consideration. It is now nearly 
two o'clock at night. The majority have occupied 
almost as much time as they say they desire, with the 
exception of the distinguished Senator from Massachu- 
setts, as he intends to tear this amendment shred from 
shred and make it a logical absurdity!' 

'* 'That it is,' said Sumner, *right on its face.' 

'*This was the Blaine amendment, 'a logical absurdity 
on its face,' and he was going to tear it shred from 
shred; there was nothing good in it! I recollect the 
time that was occupied in getting this into practical 
shape. Now, I never have questioned that the Senator 
from Massachusetts has been for long years the strenu- 
ous advocate of the abstract principle of equal rights; 
but I never knew him to be for it when there was any 
chance to make it a law, and that is the point at issue. 

'*The point at issue is whether he is the author of this 
particular provision, whether he helped to make it the 
law. The point at issue is whether he voted for the 
Fifteenth Amendment, and helped to put that in the 
Constitution. These are the practical points now under 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 243 

consideration. Everybody admits, the world knows, 
that he has made more speeches advocating the general 
principle than anybody else; but what good are those 
speeches, of what practical use are the pamphlets con- 
taining them ? They are not statutes. I reckon if there 
had not been more practical brains than he has, to put 
them in shape and get them adopted, the poor black 
man would still be without the ballot, and perhaps would 
be forever. 

**It is easy to make speeches in and out of Congress. 
I never attacked the Senator's pile of pamphlets, and 
I hope I never shall. No man of ordinary courage 
would attack such a pile anyhow. But where is the 
statute that the Senator has incorporated this principle 
in? Where is his authority to say that he has all the 
judgment there is in the Senate, or all the judgment 
there is in the country upon the points at issue ? I deny 
such judgment to the Senator. He is a theorist, a 
grand, gorgeous, extensive theorist, but he is not a 
practical man, and my experience is that he has failed 
utterly to help us to get practical measures. There is 
hardly any Senator who has been here for the last five 
years who has not got more of his work in the statute- 
book than the Senator from Massachusetts. 

"Sir,* I never should have said a word about this 
if it was not important to me to show that the man who 
read me out of the party is not recorded to any consid- 
erable extent on the measures which have inserted these 
principles in the statute-book. He is impractical. I 
want it known, also, that on this occasion he has not 
the frankness to state on this floor whether or not he 
voted for the Fifteenth Amendment, so that his state- 
ment may go in comparison with mine for what it is 

**I want the country to know how much his statement 

♦Congressional Globe, ist Sess., 39th Cong., Part II, pp. 1182, 
1 183. 

246 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

is worth, how good his recollection is when he says he 
attacks nobody. I want them to understand it. They 
shall understand it. I shall give them occasion to under- 
stand it every time he attacks me in the Senate. 
Gentlemen may complain of the time occupied, but I 
will never be the aggressor upon any Senator here. I 
struggled against him on the reconstruction measures, 
and the debates show the controversy between him and 
me on the Blaine amendment from beginning to end, 
and on the fifteenth constitutional amendment. Those 
are the two great provisions by which suffrage has been 
secured to the black man. I say I have a right to be 
heard, and he has no right to read me out of the party." 

General Grant did not know the character of Sumner. 
He judged of him from the high position he occupied 
as chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations. 
When there was an opportunity to acquire the island of 
San Domingo he left the White House and called on 
Mr. Sumner at his residence, a most unusual thing for 
a President to do. He laid before Mr. Sumner all the 
facts he had in his possession with regard to the feasi- 
bility of annexing San Domingo. 

President Grant informed his Cabinet that Mr. 
Sumner, as chairman of the Committee on Foreign 
Relations, was heartily in favor of the acquisition of 
San Domingo, and advised President Grant to make a 
treaty for that purpose. President Grant and his Secre- 
tary of State, Hamilton Fish, made a treaty for the 
acquisition of San Domingo, and sent it to the Senate 
for ratification. 

Mr. Sumner opposed it most bitterly and denounced 
it in unmeasured terms. When Senators called his 
attention to the fact that he advised the President to 
make it, he denied that he had given any such advice. 
He was plied with questions from many Senators, calling 
his attention to the exact language which he used as 
reported by President Grant. When asked if he did 

ReminUcences of William M. Stewart 247 

not say to President Grant that the treaty met his 
cordial approbation, he dodged, and said that he told 
the President that anything that he was disposed to do 
would receive cordial consideration from him, but that 
that was only intended to be respectful to the President.^ 
^^o fair-minded man doubted that President Grant told 
the truth and that Sumner did no^ 

Later on, and during Grant's ^st term, a large and 
influential body of men came from England, represent- 
ing both political parties of that country, to settle the 
Alabama claims. They gave many dinners and were 
tendered many such honors by the leading statesmen of 
both political parties in the United States. A dinner 
was given by one of the Englishmen, whose name I do 
not now recall, at which Secretary Fish, Senator Sumner, 
chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, and 
Senator Dickson, of Connecticut, were guests. One of 
the Englishmen remarked during the dinner that Presi- 
dent Grant seemed to be very popular, and that 
undoubtedly he would be elected President for a second 

"No, he'll be impeached for high crimes and misde- 
meanors. I tell you, he will be impeached for high 
crimes and misdemeanors!" exclaimed Senator Sumner 
in a loud voice. This stopped all conversation at the 
dinner for some minutes, until it could be switched to 
the weather. 

Senator Dickson met me as the Senate was about to 
convene the next morning, and told me the circum- 
stances. I took him immediately to Senator Anthony 
of Rhode Island, who was chairman of the Senate 
caucus. I advised him to send for Mr. Fish, which he 

Mr. Fish went into the Marble Room and the 
Republican Senators were invited to meet him. He 
stated what had occurred at the dinner in the same 
language which Mr. Dickson had used in reporting it 

248 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

to me. While Mr. Fish was still in the Marble Room, 
one of the English delegates, passing through the corri- 
dor, met a Senator, who inquired of him as to what 
Mr. Sumner had said at the dinner the night before. 
The English delegate said that he could not be a witness 
to such an affair. 

After the Senators had been fully informed by Mr. 
Fish as to what had occurred at the dinner, Anthony 
moved an adjournment of the Senate, and called a 
caucus of Republican Senators. All attended except Mr. 
Sumner. Senator Anthony sent the Sergeant-at-Arms 
for him. 

When Mr. Sumner entered. Senator Anthony stated 
to him what the Secretary of State and Senator Dickson 
had informed the Republican Senators. Mr. Sumner 
said there was not a word of truth in it. He stoutly 
maintained that President Grant was not alluded to at 
th* dinner, and walked out. 

\A motion was made to elect Simon Cameron chairman 
ofrhe Committee on Foreign Relations, and it was 
unanimously carried without a word of debate. This 
act of the caucus in deposing Sumner from his important 
chairmanship was never divulged, because each Senator 
felt that it was humiliating to the country to make 
such a transaction public at th^^t time. An agreement 
to keep it secret was entered into\ 

The newspapers assumed that President Grant had 
had Sumner removed from the chairmanship of the 
Committee on Foreign Relations, or, at all eventSyjthat 
it was done through the influence of the President. Ofhe 
fact was that President Grant never suggested such 
action and knew nothing about it, until after it was 

Senator Sumner and Carl Schurz, then Senator from 
Missouri, continued to make war on President Grant's 
Administration. They got up a French arms investiga- 
tion, alleging that President Grant was in complicity 

Reminiscences of William M« Stewart 249 

with contractors furnishing arms to France in the 
Franco-Prussian War. So great was the enmity of 
Sumner against Grant that he left the Republican party 
and supported Mr. Greeley, the Democratic nominee, 
for President. If President Grant had known of the 
vanity, egotism, and impracticability of Mr. Sumner, he 
could have made him a servitor as Mr. Lincoln did. 

I have written this with regard to Mr. Sumner in 
vindication of the truth of history, knowing that his 
admirers are deceived as to his true character. 


With Grant on the Pacific Coast— White House Confidences — I 
decline a Supreme Court appointment — The Apaches on the war- 
path — Confirmation of Tom Murphy — A dramatic scene in the 
Senate — Conkling threatens to expose Fenton — A mock fight in 
the Senate to save a friend. 

It was my good fortune to make the acquaintance of 
Ulysses S. Grant when he was a young lieutenant in the 
Army, stationed on the Pacific Coast. I was with him 
frequently in San Francisco, and night after night we 
would wander around the city together, visiting games, 
and saloons and other sights. 

We had many adventures in those early days, and 
perhaps I would not stretch the truth in saying that we 
were a trifle wild. Young Grant drank considerably 
and he had no advantage of me in this respect. 

When he arrived in Washington at the close of the 
war, the victorious commander of the armies of the 
United States, we renewed our acquaintance, and met 
often to talk over old times. He gave me some inside 
information as to his doings in the Army; I told him 
what was what in the Senate. After his election to the 

2sidency I saw him even more frequently, 
n 1 87 1 he tendered me an appointment to the 
reme Court of the United States, and was anxious 
that I should accept, but, after considering the matter 
for a short time, I declined it. I have always been 
devoted to the law, but life on the bench seemed too 
inactive, and the more stirring ^reer in the Senate 
appealed to me far more stronglj^ 

Both of us were great smokers. The habit cost him 
his life; I abandoned it the night the people elected 
Grover Cleveland President of the United States. I 
did not want to increase the revenues during his admin- 
istration by paying duty on cigars. 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 251 

One night in nearly every week during Grant's first 
term I visited the White House, when the President 
and I would retire to a private room to smoke and talk. 
He was a slow but accurate conversationalist. He never 
said a foolish thing in my hearing. On these con- 
fidential occasions Grant would inquire of me as to the 
character and actions of various public men. I gave 
him my opinion freely, as I could afford to do, for he 
always kept his own counsel. If, in talking of public 
men, or events, I happened to vary in the slightest 
degree from former statements on the same subjects, 
or from former opinions, he would call my attention 
to the discrepancy, and ask me why I had changed my 

His memory was not only remarkable — it was per- 
fect. On one occasion, I remember, while he was Presi- 
dent, he visited Oregon, where, years before, he had 
served as a lieutenant in the Army. Hundreds of per- 
sons called upon him, persons he had known in his days 
just after West Point. He called every one of them by 

One of the striking accomplishments of James G. 
Blaine was his capacity for remembering the names of 
those with whom he had had a slight acquaintance. 
But he frequently required the assistance of a prompter. 
Grant did not need any prompting. His memory for 
names was wonderful. During his entire public career 
I do not believe he ever forgot the name of any per- 
son whom he had ever met. Blaine has been given great 
credit for his memory. He cultivated it for the politi- 
cal benefit which it gave him. Grant's memory was a 
natural, untutored gift. 

It is said of George Washington that he could not 
tell a lie. I venture the assertion that Grant never did 
tell a lie. He loved the truth, and always spoke it, if 
he spoke at all, regardless of the consequences. The 
name of Grant, his great deeds in the Union cause, his 

252 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

justice and impartiality as President, will descend 
through all the ages, and the book he wrote to be left 
as a heritage to his widow and family, with the death 
rattle in his throat, will remain a model for all brave 
commanders who may hereafter tell of their victories. 

Shortly after General Grant became President for 
the first time, in 1869, on my recommendation he 
appointed A. P. K. Safford, of Nevada, Governor of 
Arizona, which had recently been formed into a Ter- 
ritory. The Apache Indians, who lived by robbery and 
plunder, extended their predatory jurisdiction from the 
Colorado River to the City of Mexico. There was no 
chance to establish a government of law in Arizona, 
where the Apaches reigned supreme. The few Ameri- 
can citizens there considered themselves fortunate if 
they could remain safe in Tucson, the capital. 

General George Stoneman was in command of the 
Southern California and Arizona department. He 
resided at Los Angeles. He was very much adverse 
to fighting Indians or having anything to do with Ari- 
zona. When complaints were made to President Grant 
of the depredations of Indians in Arizona, Stoneman 
would invariably reply that there was no trouble in the 
Territory. He said that contractors made the com- 
plaints in order to get money from the Government for 
the transportation of supplies for troops. 

I called on President Grant several times, and told 
him that the citizens of Arizona were entitled to pro- 
tection. Each time he replied that General Stoneman 
had reported there was no disorder. The President said 
that I must bring proof. I wrote to Governor Safford 
to make a scrap-book and paste into it the newspaper 
accounts of the murders in Arizona, and also affidavits 
as to all outrages committed by the Indians, giving the 
full circumstances of each case. 

Governor Safford sent me the scrap-book, containing 
accounts of about two hundred such cases. I showed it 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 253 

to General Grant, who said that he did not like to take 
action against the report of General Stoneman, and he 
referred me to the Secretary of War. 

William Worth Belknap was then Secretary of War. 
I went to him, told him the facts, and opened that scrap- 
book on the desk before him. He hesitated, and began 
talking about Stoneman. 

**I didn't come here to talk about Stoneman," said I. 
*'I came here to talk about protecting American citi- 
zens in Arizona." Then I put the scrap-book under my 
arm, and walked out of his office rather abruptly, and 
went back to the White House to see the President 
again. And I was pretty angry, too. 

**Well," said President Grant, **what did Belknap 

**He says nothing," said I. "He simply talks 
about Stoneman." At that moment the door opened, 
and the Secretary of War came into the room, looking 
very wise. 

**What objection have you to Stoneman, Senator?" 
continued the President. 

**I have two objections to him," I answered. "I 
believe he lies, and I believe he is too old to have 
charge of that department." 

**He is not older than I am," retorted President 
Grant, with an injured air, so I side-stepped. 

**Why," said I, **he hasn't been able to ride a horse 
for twenty years, — that's why he doesn't want to go 
into the field against the Indians, — and it will be some- 
time before you are so old that you can't ride." The 
President laughed and said : 

"What do you want?" 

"I want Colonel Crook, who has been fighting the 
Bannocks in northern California and Oregon, sent 
down to Arizona to fight the Apaches.* He has fought 

♦George Crook — lieutenant-colonel, Twenty-third Infantry, July 
28, 1866; brigadier-general, October 29, 1873. 

254 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

and whipped the Bannocks, and he is the only Indian* 
fighter I know in the Army." 

President Grant turned to Belknap. **Mr. Secre- 
tary," he said, "make a temporary assignment of 
Colonel Crook to Arizona." 

The following day Belknap issued the order. Stone- 
man, because of this action, asked to be placed on the 
retired list, and his request was granted. He later 
became a candidate for Governor of California on the 
Democratic ticket, and was compelled to resign his 
commission in the Army to accept that office.* At the 
expiration of his term of service as Governor he lost 
his property, and was in bad health. I secured an 
amendment to the current army appropriation bill to 
put him back on the retired list. 

Colonel Crook, with a mere handful of Federal 
soldiers, subjugated the Apaches, who had been domi- 
nant in the Southwest for more than a hundred years. 
He was indefatigable; he created jealousies between 
various Apache chiefs, and contrived to make different 
bands of that warlike people fight against each other 
until their commander, old Cachees,t was forced to 
lay down his arms. Since then civil government has 
been maintained in Arizona. 

When General Grant became President he was 
unfamiliar with the political situation in the State of 
New York. Governor Reuben E. Fenton was elected 
Senator and took his seat March 4, 1869, the same 
day that General Grant took the oath of office as 

^rresident Grant thought that Fenton, having been 
Governor, represented New York, and acted accord- 
ingly. He did not appear to recognize the fact that 
Conkling, who had served several terms in the House 

♦Retired August 16, 1871. Reinstated September 15. 1882. 
tCochise. A Chiricahua Apache chief. Surrendered in Septem- 
ber, 187 1, but escaped in 1872. Died June 8, 1874. 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 255 

of Representatives, and was then Senator from New 
York, was a power to consider. He therefore appointed 
the frien^ of Governor Fenton and ignored Senator 
Conkling^ During the summer vacation President 
Grant took up his residence at Long Branch, where he 
met Tom Murphy, who was very serviceable to him. 
Being thoroughly acquainted with the country, and quite 
a horseman, Murphy was able to make himself a friend 
of the President. ^After becoming intimate with Mur- 
phy, President Graht thought that he was a fit person 
to be made Collector of the Port of New York. 

The President appointed Murohy without consulta- 
tion with either of the Senators.\Fenton had a candi- 
date for that place, and felt much aggrieved to be 
ignored in a manner which he thought was not only 
uncivil but unjust.^When Congress convened, Conkling, 
who was my personal friend, told me that if it had 
been left to him he should not have selected Mr. 
Murphy?SHe said there was another person, a politi- 
cal frieira, who had performed such services to the 
Mrty and to the country as entitled him to the place. 
^^e knew that his colleague was making a very bitter 
fight against the confirmation of Murphy, and realized 
that if he joined with him in opposition, Murphy would 
undoubtedly be defeated, ancj" a less de^rving man 
probably appointed in his pla ceS^ S^^^ 

I told him that under the circumstarjjCes I knew of 
no course to be pursued by him but to secure the con- 
firmation of Murphy's appointment. A pointed out to 
him that, during the struggle on his^rt to confirm ^ y^ 
Murphy, and the struggle on the part of Senator Fen- 
ton to defeat his confirmation, the President would be 
enlightened as to the political situation in New Yorl^ 
and would thereafter undoubtedly accord to him the 
influence to which he was entitled as Senator. 

Conkling said he would take my advice, but he 
thought that Fenton would postpone action during the 

256 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

remainder of that Congress. I told him that tnat 
would be impossible if he would follow my advice. 

**What is your advice?" asked Conkling. 

**The nominees of the President for confirmation by 
the Senate are taken up in their order," said I, "and 
no pending nomination can be postponed until it is 
finally acted upon, if any Senator insists upon its con- 
sideration." Conkling then said that he would object 
to laying the nomination of Murphy aside for the con- 
sideration of any other nomination. He did so for 
about six weeks, until nominations were piled up and 
delayed to an unusual extent. The Senate then took the 
matter in hand, and appointed a day for the considera- 
tion of the confirmation of Tom Murphy. vThe Senate 
went into executive session immediately after the mom- 
^% ing business was transacted, and Senator Fenton took 
^^^gf/ thp flooJ>. . . V. 

\7 NHe read from newspaper clipping»f interjecting his 
own comments until six o'clock in the afternoon. Just 
before he resumed his seat Mr. Conkling came to me 
and, said: 

h's just as I feared! Fenton will read newspaper 
clippings until he wears out the patience of the 
Senateoand they will lay aside the consideration of the 


*iiJoT^.-«^^i^ shall make a proposition as soon as 
Fentontakes his seat./ 1 shall propose that the Senate 
take a recess until eignis^lock this evening, that you 
be given an hour to reply tS" Senator Fenton, and he be 
allowed half an hour in final reply, when the vote shall 
be taken.*S 

At first^Conkling said that an hour was not enough. 
I insistecl He then said, **Go ahead." 

When Fenton took his seat I made the proposition, 
which was agreed to by unanimous consent. I knew 
we could have a quorum, because everybody had a 
desire to have some friend confirmed. When the Sen- 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 257 

ate met in executive session at eight o'clock nearly 
every Senator was in his seat. 

Conkling immediately began an oration, every sen- 
tence of which was replete with logic, sarcasm, reason, 
and invective. Sometimes the Senators would rise to 
their feet, so great was its effect upon them. 

It so happened that in early life Fenton, having 
undertaken to carry $12,000 from western New York 
to Albany, reported the loss of the money. He was 
arrested, and the money was found secreted in his bed- 
tick. A large amount of testimony was taken and Fen- 
ton was discharged. Whether he was accused justly 
or unjustly, — most persons thought unjustly, — it 
blurred his career. Conkling, and others who were 
opposed to Senator Fenton, had copies of the proceed- 
ings before the criminal court at the time the matter 
was investigated. Toward the conclusion of his won- 
derful speech Conkling walked down the aisle to a 
point opposite the seat of Senator Fenton. 

**It is true," he said, **that Thomas Murphy is a 
mechanic, a hatter by trade; that he worked at his 
trade in Albany supporting an aged father and mother 
and a crippled brother. And while he was thus engaged 
there was another who visited Albany and played a very 
different role," — drawing the court record from his 
pocket, and extending it toward Senator Fenton, — "the 
particulars of which I will not relate except at the special 
request of my colleague." 

Fenton's head dropped upon his desk, as if he had 
been struck down with a club. The scene in the Senate 
was tragic. S^urphy was confirmed, with only two 
dissenting votQS,' and Grant and Conkling became sworn 
friends for lifeS 

The inhabil^ts of the Capital of the United States 
will never realize the debt of gratitude they owe to 
Alexander R. Shepherd. Washington, as planned by 
L'Enfant, under the direction of President Washing- 


258 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

ton himself, anticipated in all its arrangements and out- 
lines the grandeur of the great Republic of which it was 
made the capital. The plan should have been extended 
throughout the District of Columbia, and the lines of 
streets and avenues should have been produced beyond 
the limits of the original city. But the sordid specu- 
lators who have constituted the Boards of Commis- 
sioners of the District of Columbia laid out the city 
outside of the original boundary line to suit the avarice 
of the gamblers in town lots. They have forever marred 
the beauty of the plan of President Washington and 
his great engineer. 

At the close of the war many of the streets within 
the original boundary were blocked with unseemly 
structures. No uniform grade had been established, 
and there was nothing to enable the inhabitants to 
erect houses on the lines or grades of the streets. Shep- 
herd, a native of Washington, under a temporary form 
of government, was made Governor of the Dis- 
trict by President Grant, who had a rare faculty 
of selecting the right kind of men to do what he 
wanted done. 

An effort was made by people of the Mississippi 
valley, immediately after the close of the war, to 
remove the capital to a more central location. It was 
contended that the city of Washington consisted of a 
straggling hamlet of mud holes and ruins altogether 
inadequate to be the capital of the nation. Shepherd's 
great work stopped the agitation. He employed 
engineers, resurveyed the streets according to the origi- 
nal scheme, and began grading, paving, and installing 
sewerage on a colossal plan. He did not wait for 
appropriations from Congress, which probably never 
could have been secured, but created an enormous debt 
each year, relying upon Congress to pay the bills. 
Appropriations were made from time to time to meet 
his vast expenditures, and all deficits created by 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 259 

Shepherd, not paid by current appropriations, were 
made a funded loan. The usual howl of extravagance, 
corruption, and violation of law was raised against him. 
When he had done his work, and the slander of his 
enemies had been exhausted, he retired to the mountains 
of Sonora, Mexico, and engaged in mining. Late in 
life he paid a visit to Washington, the scene of his 
early achievements, where the people received him with 
open arms, and exhibited many marks of appreciation 
for the great work he had accomplished. 

George C. Gorham was a forty-niner in California. 
He was law clerk for Stephen J. Field, who was after- 
ward Judge of the Supreme Court of California and a 
Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States for 
nearly a third of a century. Gorham, at a very early 
age, developed a capacity for newspaper literature and 
became known to everybody on the Pacific coast. He 
was a leader in politics, formed his own opinions, and 
advocated them in the press and on the stump with 
remarkable ability. 

In 1867 he was nominated for Governor of Cali- 
fornia, but was defeated by a few votes by a combina- 
tion of Mugwumps and Democrats. He came to Wash- 
ington and in June, 1868, was elected to the office of 
Secretary of the Senate, which he held for many years, 
serving until the Forty-sixth Congress. The political 
relations between him and Senator Cole of California 
were decidedly unfriendly. Gorham criticised the Sena- 
tor rather harshly, using language familiar to the West, 
but not suited to ears fastidious. 

Cole complained to a caucus of the Senate and 
demanded the expulsion of Mr. Gorham. The Senate 
caucus appointed a sub-committee to investigate the 
charges. Cole appeared before the committee and 
stated the charges, and said that Gorham had called 
him a bad name, which he then and there repeated. 
My colleague. Senator Nye, was the personification of 

260 Reminiscences of William M*. Stewart 

good humor, full of wit and repartee, and had great 
capacity for ready speaking. 

Simon Cameron was a great friend of Gorham, and 
was determined, if possible, to get him out of the 
scrape, although things looked dark for him. Cameron, 
Nye, Gorham, and myself met in conference the even- 
ing before the caucus was to be held to hear the report 
of the committee. We decided that we were in a 
predicament, and that to save Gorham we would have 
to get up a mock fight in the Senate. 

As soon as the caucus began Nye took the floor, 
and launched into a speech in which he belittled the 
cnarges, and showed that the names Gorham had called 
Cole were not epithets of contempt, but, in accordance 
with the quaint old customs of the West, were terms 
of endearment and affection. A continuous roar of 
laughter greeted Nye, while Cole grew wrathy. 

As soon as Nye resumed his seat, I, in accordance 
with our scheme, eulogized Gorham as a leader of the 
Republican party in the West, and contrasted his record 
with that of Cole. As I concluded I pretended to 
grow very angry, and finally wound up a particularly 
hot sentence by advancing toward Senator Cole with 
upraised arm, as though I intended making a personal 
assault on him. 

Cameron thereupon leaped between us, grabbed me 
by the coat-tails, and pulled me away from Cole, while 
other Senators, who were not in the plot, and took 
everything seriously, hurried up to prevent a fight. 
Cameron, in the midst of the excitement, moved that 
the caucus adjourn, which was carried with rapidity, 
and he received the thanks of most of the Senators for 
preventing a scene. This ended the incident. Sena- 
tor Cole did not press his charges after that against 


Retire from the Senate and return to Nevada — Mining in the 
Panamint — I buy a mine from bandits, and secure their friend- 
ship—Silver cannon-balls foil the outlaws — Back to the law — 
The cow-boy reign in Arizona — Cattle thieves and litigation. 

The means of communication between my State and 
Washington were slow, ^t generally required about 
fifty days to write a letterSnd receive a reply. I was 
engaged in mining operations, many of which proved 
disastrous, and I thought it time to retire from politics 
and return to the practice of law. I declined to become 
a candidate for reelection to the Senate, and William 
Sharon was elected my successor in 1875. I remained 
out of the Senate two terms. 

During the twelve years I was out of the Senate I 
mined, and practiced law. In 1875 I engaged with 
several capitalists, including Senator John P. Jones, in 
a mining enterprise at Panamint, on the west side of 
Death Valley, whkh is about seventy miles south of 
Bullfrog, Nevada.^ 

Our headquarters at Panamint were in a mountain 
ravine where there were grass and plenty of spring 
water. A hundred miles of desert shut us off from the 
outside world. In the mountains was a narrow gorge, 
twelve miles long, the walls of which were very high, and 
so nearly perpendicular as to shut out the sunlight 
for almost the entire day. About noon a few 
shafts of brilliance would penetrate that vast dark- 

It was an admirable place for outlaws, and it had not 
been overlooked. A company of gentlemen engaged 
in the business of stopping stages, and relieving the 
express box and passengers of gold and other valuable 
incumbrances, resided in this secluded nook. They were 

262 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

a picturesque crew, with wide-brimmed hats, trousers 
tucked into their boots, and wearing as ornaments 
enough guns to stock a hardware store. They were bad 
fellows, outcasts of society, who obeyed no laws, not 
even their own, for they were not organized into a 
"gang," but practiced their profession in an entirely 
independent manner. They discovered veins or lodes 
of the precious metals running across the edges of the 
ravine which terminated in this resort of the road 

We purchased from them most of their mines — ^which 
were no good to them, for they were too lazy to work 
them — at what we regarded as a reasonable price. But 
before selling out and abandoning their stronghold, 
where peace officers dared not invade, they desired to 
compromise with Wells Fargo to avoid prosecution 
after leaving the Panamint. They agreed to pay a por- 
tion of the purchase price to the express company, which 
had been a great sufferer at their hands, and after some 
negotiations I succeeded in arranging the matter so that 
the company absolved them from at least a part of 
their sins, for a cash consideration. 

We then put men to work prospecting the mines, and 
concentrated our efforts upon two ridges about half a 
mile apart, where croppings on the surface were most 
bountiful and rich. These mines were known as the 
Wyoming and Hemlock. We sank two shafts to the 
depth of two or three hundred feet, in ore from five 
to eight feet wide, between well defined walls, and 
averaging from $200 to $300 per ton. We erected a 
very expensive quartz mill and reduction works, and 
continued to mine the Wyoming and Hemlock veins, but 
found, to our astonishment, that in each case the ore 
was a "pipe," and extended but a few feet from the 
shaft in either direction. 

Out of these pipes, and the ore on the surface, we 
extracted about a million of money, and if we could 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 263 

have continued a few months longer we would have 
received all our investment back without loss. The 
abrupt termination of the ore involved a large loss to 
the investors. 

While our operations were in progress the outlaws 
were very cordial, and they seemed to like the locality 
so well that they could not be persuaded to go away, but 
hung around and acted affectionate, and sociable and 
kind. We were on such good terms with them that 
they did not hesitate to ask me when I expected to begin 
shipping bullion, and then I realized they had sold their 
mines, not with the intention of giving up the 
profits, but merely to save themselves the necessity 
of labor. 

Having nothing to do, they occasionally fell out with 
newcomers of their own character, and used their 
weapons with remarkable skill. Those who lost their 
lives in these encounters were regarded as unlucky — 
nothing more. The Wells Fargo Company were in the 
habit of establishing express offices at mining camps 
which were productive, but when I tried to make 
arrangements for an express station at our mine, they 
said that they "guessed not." They said they wouldn't 
run any risks at Panamint, not with that bunch of high- 
waymen lying around just waiting to swoop down and 
gobble up every dollar in sight. We were stumped. 
We were getting out plenty of ore, but didn't dare to 
run it into bullion, because the minute we did the 
property would change hands. 

Finally I hit on a scheme. I had some moulds made 
in which a ball of solid silver could be run weighing 750 
pounds. Then I began smelting the ore, and I ran out 
enormous cannon-balls of the precious stuff that could 
have bombarded a battleship. When the road agents 
saw what I was doing their eyes stuck out of their heads, 
and they remonstrated with me. They acted as though 
I had cheated them out of property, and said I was the 

264 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

meanest man that ever showed up in that Territory, 
they'd swear. 

"Look a-here, don't you think you are taking a 
mighty mean advantage of us?" grumbled one of the 
bandits one day. **Do you think it's right to play that 
game on us — and after we sold you the mine, too. 
Why, we can't haul away one of those boulders." 

"All right," said I, "business is business. If you 
haven't genius enough to carry this stuff off, why, you'll 
have to suffer, that's all. You can't expect me to be 
sorry for you, can you?" 

Well, those fellows fairly sweated themselves trying 
to lug one of these silver cannon-balls off, but they 
couldn't budge it. They rode off on their horses as mad 
as hornets, and by and by they rode back, and "cussed 
me out," and said I'd live to feel sorry for being such 
an ungenerous skunk. And then they'd ride away, rip- 
ping out the most terrible oaths, but presently they'd 
be back again. It seemed as though they couldn't stay 
away from that pile of fine big cannon-balls. 

Half a dozen of them pried, and tugged, and 
strained, and grunted, trying to hoist one of them 
on a mule, but that made the mule mad, and by and by 
he took a hand in the proceedings, and made those 
outlaws feel pretty sick, and after that they gave it up, 
and while we were loading five of the silver cannon-balls 
on an immense freight wagon they sat around disconso- 
late and solemn, like pall-bearers at a funeral. 

We hauled that silver out of there like ordinary 
freight, without a guard. There wasn't any place where 
the outlaws could have driven the wagon except to the 
settlements, or I suppose they would have stolen the 
whole thing. They could have rolled some of the silver 
down into a canyon, or something like that, but if they 
had we could have recovered it, and silver in such large 
packages couldn't have been circulated freely by out- 
laws, anyhow. 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 265 

After leaving the Panamint, until 1886, 1 was actively 
engaged in the practice of law in San Francisco, 
Nevada, Arizona, and other mining States and Terri- 
tories. For a short time I had a partner, Clarence 
Greathouse, a young man of attainments and brilliant 
intellect. He spent the later years of his life in China 
and Corea in various official positions. William F. 
Herrin was our law clerk. 

I soon dissolved partnership with Mr. Greathouse, 
and a new law firm was created, consisting of my former 
partner, Judge Peter Van Clief, and William F. Herrin, 
under the firm name of Stewart, Van Clief & Herrin. 
Judge Van Clief retired from the firm, taking a position 
as one of the court commissioners. 

Mr. Herrin and I continued in business together until 
the summer of 1886. He was remarkable for industry, 
power of discrimination, and devotion to his profession. 
The commanding positions which he has since occupied 
are the reward of real merit. During the time I had 
an office in San Francisco with him I was largely 
engaged in mining cases east of the Sierra Nevada 
Mountains at Brodie, Eureka, and other places. At 
Eureka I tried the celebrated case of Albion vs. The 
Richmond, which was contested in all the courts, includ- 
ing the Supreme Court of the United States. 

The Albion was finally victorious, but the mine 
recovered was not valuable. During that celebrated 
contest I was assisted by the law firm of Baker & 
Wines. Thomas Wren was the principal counsel on the 
opposite side. Mr. Wren was a formidable adversary, 
and fought every inch of the ground with great ability. 
The victory over him was a costly one, but during my 
stay in Eureka on that occasion I formed many friend- 
ships, which still endure. 

The litigation in Arizona was of a most exciting 
character. It occurred during the celebrated "cow-boy 

266 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

Many of the "gentlemen" who had lived in security 
at Panamint in defiance of the law, before they secured 
full freedom by dividing the purchase money of their 
claims with Wells Fargo, retired to Arizona after 
mining operations ceased at Panamint. They were 
joined in the grazing lands there by gentlemen of 
similar character from Texas, New Mexico, and 
other parts of the West. 

The "U. P. Toughs," as they were commonly called, 
who had followed the building of the Union Pacific 
Railroad to receive from the employees of that route 
their surplus coin, also immigrated to Arizona. 

The discovery of very rich mines at Tombstone 
naturally attracted the cow-boys to the Territory. 

Nearly all of the mines were jumped or in conflict 
with rival locations. The best-paying mine of the camp 
was the Contention. It was in litigation with all its 
neighbors. It was owned by a San Francisco corpora- 
tion, and Silas White, a most estimable man and miner, 
was the superintendent. I was employed as counsel. 

The cow-boys around Tombstone frequently engaged 
in bloody conflicts. They were divided into clans. They 
"collected" stock in Texas, New Mexico, and old 
Mexico, herded their booty in Arizona, and sold it in 
California or around the mining camps. These cow- 
boys, of course, were the renegades. There were lots 
of other cow-boys who did a legitimate stock business, 
but they were all fighters. 

A pitched battle between the "Clantons" and the 
"Erps" occurred in Tombstone during the trial of the 
Contention suit. Six of the "Clantons" were killed. I 
witnessed this fight — from a safe distance. As a general 
rule strangers who behaved themselves were not inter- 
fered with by the cow-boys. A pompous young fop, 
whose name I will not mention, was convicted by the 
cow-boys of "putting on airs." They dragged him 
outside the town to one of their camps one night 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 267 

and compelled him to dance until morning; and he did 
dance, too, because if he hadn't kept his feet off the 
ground pretty lively one of them might have stopped a 

I was in a little town called Wilcox when the first 
train over the Southern Pacific went through. It was a 
great occasion, and all the cow-boys turned out for miles 
around, and gaped and stared. When the train came 
to a stop a clerical-looking man, with a tall silk hat, 
called a "stove-pipe,'' came out on the platform to 
observe the scenery. 

Six cow-boys got the drop on it in six seconds, and 
riddled it, and that passenger skipped back without 
waiting for an introduction, and crawled under a seat. 

A general merchandise dealer came down there and 
started in business. He erected a long tent-house, and 
filled it with clothing, whiskey and cigars, and put out 
a gaudy sign. His name was Levy. When the estab- 
lishment was opened the cow-boys sauntered in, and 
priced things and tried on all the clothes, and about 
wrecked the place, and then invited him to treat. 

He was a very obstinate man, so the boys made him 
stand at the back of the tent with a lighted candle in 
his hand, and then they snuffed it out with their pistols, 
and it was good shooting, too, because Levy trembled 
so it was like shooting at a humming-bird. After this 
he begged off, and opened up his liquor, and the cow- 
boys gorged themselves and carried away whatever they 
wanted, and promised to come back and give him their 
patronage ; but when the train came by about ten o'clock 
the next day, east-bound, Levy got aboard without 
delay, and gathered up what he could of his stock, and 
shipped that out of the country, too, and if he ever came 
back to Arizona again I never heard of it. 

The trial of the Contention suit finally terminated 
in a judgment favorable to the Contention. It was 
plain to me that the Contention mine, although a very 

268 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

rich one, would be exhausted before the title could be 
settled by litigation. The principal conflicts were with 
the companies organized in Philadelphia, San Francisco, 
and other distant cities. I studied the situation care- 
fully, and came to the conclusion that the various 
corporations would waste their investments in litigation 
if no settlement could be had. I advised a consolida- 

I consulted Mr. White, the superintendent. He told 
me my plan was the best of all, but that not one of the 
companies would entertain such a proposition. I said, 
"AH right, it's settled." I drew up the papers for all 
the parties to execute, and mailed them to their home 
offices, and telegraphed them that the disputes were 
settled and compromised, and that the papers were on 
the way to them to execute. They wanted to know who 
had compromised, and who had settled it. I told them 
it was enough for them to know that it was settled. 

They abused me roundly, but every company executed 
the documents, to the astonishment of Mr. White. 
They paid me $25,000 for what they and I knew I 
had no right to do. The settlement of this litigation 
so diminished the business of the lawyers that nearly 
all of them were forced to emigrate. They said many 
unkind things of me. 


Trip to Sonora, Mexico, in search of mines — I borrow an "Injun" 
dog — An old Spaniard's story — Origin of the Apaches and how 
they got their courage— A brave Chinaman. 

While I was in Arizona a report came of the dis- 
covery of wonderful mines on a knoll in an old camp 
about 250 miles south of Tombstone, in Sonora, 
Mexico. We organized a party to visit that locality on 
a prospecting tour. 

The Apache Indians were troublesome at that time, 
and it was necessary to go well armed for self-protec- 
tion. We were told that a man named Clanton, whose 
ranch was near Charleston, about ten miles from Tomb- 
stone, had a dog that was keen on Indians and would 
invariably give the alarm at night if they appeared. On 
our way south we passed Charleston, which was situated 
on the banks of a small stream, and as we crossed the 
stream I met a station-keeper by the name of Williams 
whom I had known at Downieville, California. I told 
him I wanted to get the Clanton dog to accompany us 
on our trip into Mexico. He pointed to a few huts two 
or three hundred yards away, and said: 

"The dog is up there, at Tort Clanton,' and if a 
man should go there and ask for that dog he would 
never get away again." 

I told him I would get the dog. The whole party 
expostulated with me and begged me not to go. But 
Williams praised that dog up so, and made out that he 
was such a wonder, that I determined to have him. I 
couldn't be argued out of it. I struck out for the camp 
and found twenty or thirty cow-boys loitering around 
the bar in a little shack of a saloon. They were exam- 
ining their guns, and regarded me with great astonish- 
ment when I went in. I stepped up to the bar. 

270 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

"Have a drink," I said. They "cussed" me, 
and were the most reluctant set of men I had ever seen 
around a bar in Arizona. I "cussed" them back, and 
asked them what the bar-keeper had ever done to them 
that they wanted to tear the shingles off his roof. Then 
they took a drink. 

"Where's Clanton ?" I said. They said rather gruffly 
that he was in his cabin, near by. So then I got gruff, 

"You tell Clanton I want to see him, and tell him I 
want his dog, too." 

"You can't have that dawg," growled one of the 
cow-boys, fooling with his gun. "That's a Injun dawg, 
and if you ask old man Clanton for it he'll bore you." 

I cursed the cow-boy, and finally went out and brought 
in Clanton. Then I set up another drink, and when 
Clanton was in a good humor I asked him for the dog. 

"Who in the name of God are you?" he roared. 

"My name's Stewart," said I. 

"My God I you ain't old Bill Stewart, are you?" 

"I'm the man." 

"If that's so, take the dog, and go to hell with himl" 
said Clanton. 

I walked out of there with the dog at the end of a 
rope, and the cow-boys thought I was the Devil. 

We had in our party several professors and other 
right good men, but they would not cook. Hank Smith, 
now an old man in Goldfield, was one of the party, 
and he and I had to do all the cooking. This we did 
not like, but we pursued our journey to the camp in 
Mexico where the great mines were supposed to be 
located, and after prospecting for several days we came 
to the conclusion that we did not want any mines in 
that locality. 

While there, at the solicitation of the natives, I visited 
a Spaniard who was said to be more than one hundred 
years old. He lived in two rooms in the ruins of what 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 271 

had been an immense castle. The natives treated him 
with reverence and provided for him with care. He was 
a tall, majestic-looking man of commanding appearance, 
even in his extreme old age, and could speak a little 
English, although part of our conversation was through 
an interpreter. He knew the Apaches were raiding his 
country at the time. I inquired of him the history of 
the tribe. He told me they were not a tribe, but were 
composed of many tribes. 

He said the Catholic priests who came from Canada 
followed up the lakes and crossed over to Santa Fe, in 
New Mexico, and from there to Arizona and Sonora; 
that for self-protection the priests selected a few young 
men from each tribe of Indians as they passed through 
the country, to act as a body-guard. These young men, 
he said, were granted every privilege, and they took 
wives from different tribes as they went along. After 
settling in Mexico in disobedience to the orders of the 
priests, they went far into the interior of the country, 
sometimes as far as the City of Mexico, robbed and 
plundered, and returned. 

They captured such pretty girls as they desired 
wherever they found them, and consequently the 
Apaches were a. mixed race — and a most handsome, 
daring race. They seldom fought in the open, said the 
old man, but hid in ambush to rob and plunder. About 
fifty or sixty years previous, he said, they turned against 
the priests in Sonora and Arizona and drove them out 
of the country. He had been friendly with them while 
residing in his castle and required his people to treat 
them kindly, consequently they allowed him to remain, 
and they had never disturbed him. He said his castle 
or hacienda was ruined by the Mexican revolutions. 

After this interview we started back to Tombstone, 
and when we had traveled about a day and a half 
reached a Mexican village where we halted for lunch. 
A large mulatto drove the four-horse wagon in which 

272 Reminiscences of WUliam M. Stewart 

we had been in the habit of carrying provisions. Wc 
drove around through the camp and bought about four 
bushels of eggs. We had nothing left but com meal, 
bacon and coffee. Hank Smith and I got into the wagon 
and induced the driver to go on, leaving the rest of the 
party to take care of themselves, intending to give those 
who had been riding in the wagon with us a little exer- 
cise because they had treated us so shabbily about 
cooking. We drove to a point about twenty miles 
distant, where there was plenty of water and dry wood. 

We built a splendid fire, heated water, and made corn- 
cakes of about half eggs and half meal, and baked them 
in our frying pans. When we saw the van-guard of our 
companions approaching about a mile away, we fried 
bacon and eggs and boiled coffee, and by the time the 
party arrived, and before they had time to give us a 
good tongue-lashing — if nothing more — they observed 
the good things, and, sore footed as they were, they ate 
as mortal man never ate before. We had only about 
seventy-five miles more to travel before we reached 
American soil. We boiled the remainder of our eggs 
hard, loaded them into the wagons with the combread, 
and started on. This was all we had to eat until we 
reached the end of our journey. 

In about a day and a half we came to the camp of a 
Chinaman who kept a restaurant near the border. Sev- 
eral of his predecessors at this place had attempted to 
keep a restaurant, but the cow-boys had a habit of eat- 
ing without paying, and each proprietor had been com- 
pelled to give it up as a bad job. 

John had two or three hundred dollars that he had 
earned by cooking at Tombstone. He invested it in 
liquor and provisions and rented the station. One day 
a party of six outlaws came along and demanded dinner. 
John cooked the dinner and waited on the table. When 
they had finished eating, they demanded more whiskey 
and cigars. 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 273 

'Tou payee me flor what you glot, I givee you more," 
said John. 

They said they paid for nothing, that they had a 
right to everything he had. John went out in the cook- 
room and got two pistols, and without any argument he 
commenced shooting at the outlaws as fast as he could, 
and killed five, leaving only one, and that one skipped 
out. After that the Chinaman was allowed to conduct 
his establishment in peace, and those who ate paid for 
what they got. John cooked us a good supper, for 
which we paid promptly. We camped there that night, 
and the next day we arrived at Tombstone a wiser, 
if not a better, party of prospectors. 



A celebrated breach of promise suit — The killing of Judge Terry — 
Again a candidate for the Senate — Reply to attacks by Senator 
Fair on my character — Reelected to the Senate in 1887 — Career 
in that body — A total service of twenty-nine years. 

During the time I was in partnership with Mr. Her- 
rin in San Francisco the celebrated Sharon case attracted 
universal attention. 

Sarah Althea Hill, a bright and attractive young 
woman from Missouri, asserted that she had a written 
contract of marriage with Mr. Sharon, who was then 
a man over sixty years of age. He claimed to be a 
resident of Nevada, which gave the Circuit Court of the 
United States jurisdiction, Miss Hill being a resident of 
California. Sharon brought suit to set aside the alleged 
contract. Immediately thereafter. Miss Hill brought 
suit for divorce in the State Court, demanding her rights 
as a wife and her share of the common property; as 
by the law of California the property acquired during 
the marriage belonged to the husband and wife in equal 

A famous lawyer in San Francisco, William L. H. 
Barnes, was applied to by Miss Hill to act as her 
attorney, as afterward came out in the evidence. 
General Barnes, as he was called, — I believe he had 
been in the militia, — telephoned to Mr. Sharon pro- 
posing to defend him against Miss Hill. 

Mr. Sharon employed the General, who managed to 
make a very notorious affair out of the controversy. By 
the statutes of California either party could subpoena 
the other after summons was served and take his deposi- 
tion. This was sometimes resorted to to commit the 
opposite party to a certain line of prosecution or defense. 
The statutes also made it optional with either party to 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 275 

have the divorce proceedings kept secret and tried by 
the court. 

General Barnes was anxious that the proceedings 
should be public, and Miss Hill and her counsel were 
equally desirous that the trial of a poor girl against a 
millionaire should be placed before the people. 

Miss Hill employed George W. Tyler and David S. 
Terry as her counsel. Both of these gentlemen were 
somewhat aggressive and of undoubted courage. Barnes 
blustered and spent a great amount of money in all 
sorts of proceedings, but when Terry and Tyler remon- 
strated he lowered his flag in the dust in a manner not 
in harmony with his ferocious bearing in the start. 

The proceedings were conducted by Barnes from bad 
to worse, he submitting to constant rebuffs without an 
adequate show of courage. The sympathy of the people 
was with Miss Hill. Judge Sullivan, at the conclusion 
of the trial, gave judgment in favor of the plaintiff, Miss 
Hill, and against the defendant, Sharon, for all she 
demanded in her complaint. 

The case which Mr. Sharon had brought in the 
United States Court was still pending, and as it was 
commenced first that court had a prior jurisdiction, and 
the whole matter was still open for trial before Circuit 
Judge Sawyer. 

Mr. Sharon called on me, asking me what could be 
done. I told him the case could be tried in the Circuit 
Court as if nothing had been done in the State Court, 
and that if he could win it in the Circuit Court the judg- 
ment of the State Court was of no value. 

He employed me to take charge of the case in the 
Circuit Court, and as it was a case of equity to set aside 
th alleged contract, testimony was taken before a court 
commissioner. Sometimes I conducted the proceedings 
on one side and Judge Terry on the other. Miss Hill 
was always present. Judge Evans, who had assisted 
Mr. Barnes, was with me part of the time. 

276 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

Miss Hill was quite violent at times during the taking 
of the deposition, and sometimes drew her pistol on 
me ; but Judge Terry quieted her down and the proceed- 
ings were conducted in a very thorough manner. I 
produced much evidence that had not been produced in 
the State Court, and made what seemed to me a demon- 
stration against the genuineness of the contract. 

I did not know at the time I discussed the character 
of Miss Hill before the court that her counsel, Judge 
Terry, contemplated marrying the woman; but some 
two or three weeks after this argument, the case having 
been decided against Miss Hill, and in favor of Mr. 
Sharon, — and Judge Terry and Miss Hill having been 
married in the mean time, — I accidentally met Judge 
Terry. We bowed to each other, but neither spoke, no 
explanation being possible. 

In subsequent proceedings to carry the judgment of 
the Circuit Court into execution. Judge Field, of the 
California Supreme Court, of which Judge Terry had 
once been a member, presided. An unpleasant scene 
occurred in the court, ending in Judge Terry and his 
wife being committed by Judge Field for contempt 
of court, and they were confined in the Oakland jail for 
several months. Terry was very bitter. 

The following year, Judge Field, on his way over the 
State on judicial business, was eating breakfast one 
morning at a little place called Lathrop, one hundred 
miles from San Francisco. David Nagle, a deputy 
marshal, was seated at the same table. Judge Terry 
entered the room, saw Field, walked up to him and 
slapped his face, and Nagle shot him dead. Nagle 
went free on the ground that he had a right to protect 
a Justice who had been assaulted by an angry man. 

I closed my office in San Francisco, and further pro- 
ceedings in the matter were turned over to Mr. Herrin, 
who managed the case with skill and ability; and 
I confined my operations to the State of Nevada. 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 277 

xAlthough our business was prosperous, I decided to 
dissolve partnership and become a candidate for reelec- 
tion to the Senate in the summer of i886\ 

While I was in business with Mr. Herrin we had a 
young clerk, Isaac Frohman, in our employ. We gave 
him the option to remain with Mr. Herrin, or accom- 
pany me to Nevada and Washington in the event I 
should be elected to the Senate. He decided to go with 
me. He remained with me until I had served two years 
in the Senate, when his fidelity to duty, his industry, and 
ability satisfied me that I ought not to retain him in 
the position of secretary. I made arrangements for him 
to enter a law college in Washington, and at the end of 
two years he was awarded by the faculty the first prize 
for his essay on law. 

He graduated with high honors and went to San 
Francisco, where he engaged in the practice of his pro- 
fession, and has achieved the success he richly deserved. 
He was one of the most faithful and efficient assistants 
I ever had, and our friendship has never been marred 
by ihe slightest misunderstanding. 
^^y principal reason for deciding to become a candi- 
date for the Senate was the act of John Sherman 
l|muggling the silver dollar out of the list of coins in the 
Mint Act of 'TjSand I felt it my duty to return to the 
Senate and do what I could to rectify the crime which 
was clandestinely committed without my knowledge, or 
the knowledge of the American people, in the passage 
of that infamous mint law. 

After I had announced myself as a candidate, James 
G. Fair undertook to stab me in the dark by furnishing 
the money to circulate villainous attacks upon my private 
character, for which there was no foundation whatever. 
I told the friends of Mr. Fair to induce him to leave 
his home in San Francisco and meet me on the stump in 
Nevada for the purpose of discussing both our fmvate 
and political characters. He would not do soSand 

278 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

several would-be candidates for the Senate visited him 
in San Francisco. What arguments he used with them, 
whether moral or financial, I do not know, but they all, 
with one accord, made war on me.^They alleged that 
I, being in the Senate at the time silver was demonetized, 
was responsible for that outrage. 

I denounced that charge, and promised the people 
that if elected to the Senate I would prove that the 
crime of demonetizing silver was unknown in the Senate, 
and that it was the work of a secret conspiracy ; and that 
I would prove the charge to the satisfaction of John 
Sherman himself. The records will show how faithfully 
I kept that promise. 

After a most vigorous campaign in the summer and 
fall of 1886, the Legislature met in January, 1887, and 
elected me to the Senate as the successor of James G. 
Fair. I was elected my own successor the two following 
terms, which I served, making a continuous service of 
eighteen years, and a total service of twenty-nine yea^ 
^So far as Nevada is concerned, I derive much satisfac- 
tion in the consciousness that I have served ray State 
on all occasions to the best of my ability; that I have 
looked after the interests of all the people without 
regard to personal or political differences; that I have 
secured much legislation beneficial to the State; that I 
have prevented the sale of mines at auction and secured 
the confirmation of miners' rights according to their 
rules and regulations; that in connection with my col- 
league, Senator Nye, I secured the establishment of the 
Mint at Carson. 

Later on I prevented the conversion of the Mint into 
a public building and secured mandatory legislation with 
an additional appropriation for the construction of the 
present Government Building at the capital. I secured 
the passage of the law for the survey of the public lands, 
none of which had been surveyed, or sold, or brought 
into the market, at the time the State was admitted/S 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 279 

It would extend this narrative to unreasonable length 
to recite the particulars of what I did for the benefit 
of my State during my service in Congress, but I will 
mention a few other matters which I thought at the 
time, and still think, were of vital importance to the 

^ secured the use of the ninety-thousand acre grant 
to Nevada when she became a ^ate, for the establish- 
ment of an Agricultural College/ A building was first 
erected at Elko, but there was not sufficient money to 
establish a college or school, and the people of Reno 
made a proposition to the State, which was accepted, 
for the removal of the institution to that city. 

By the liberal contributions of the people of the 
county of Washoe, enough was added to the State and 
National funds to erect the first college building where 
it still stands. The income from the land grant was 
then about $7,000 a year, which was spent in the salary 
of the president and a few other matters. Little or no 
teaching was done, but the saloons and other places of 
amusement about Reno did not suffer for want of their 
share of the small appropriation. 

After I was elected in the winter of 1887 I labored 
with the Legislature for over two months to rescue the 
institution from bad government and place it on the 
footing of possible success. 

Senator Morrill of Vermont devised a scheme during 
my service to divert a large share of the proceeds of the 
public lands to the establishment of agricultural colleges 
throughout the several States, a former scheme of issu- 
ing land transcripts to the States having practically 
failed on account of the Civil War. It was contended 
that his plan interfered with the ultimate sale of the 
public lands, and consequently it was defeated session 
after session. 

When Congress met. Hatch of Missouri, a great 
friend of education, and one of the best men in Con- 


280 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

gress, had a comprehensive system to aid agricultural 
colleges from the proceeds of the sale of the public >^^^^\ 
iMds. It was antagonized by^e Morrill Bill. V>t^^ m^^^^ 
\Jl studied the two bills and called on Senator Morrill 
and pointed out to him that what he desired, and what 
the member from Missouri desired, were practically the 
sameNand that the only objections to his plan, for 
whicn he had labored so long, were some provisions in 
his bill which the opposition contended would embarrass 
if not interfere with the disposition of the public lands. 

He said he did not intend any such thing, and that 
he was perfectly willing to support a bill which was 
free from the objections urged against his. I suggested 
an amendment which obviated the difficulty and to which 
all agreed. This opened the way for the passage of a 
law which gave the University of Nevada fifteen thou- 
sand dollars the first year, increasing at the rate of a 
thousand dollars each year for ten years until it reached 
the sum of twenty-five thousand dollars a year, which 
thp University still enjoys. 

\I then, with others, labored for the passage of a law 
creatine an experiment station in each agricultural 
college^^nder which the University receives fifteen 
thousand dollars a year, making the round sum of 
forty thousand dollars a year in addition to the proceeds 
of the original 90,000-acre grant. 

The State has added largely to these Government 
donations, and the institution has been in the past most 
beneficial to the State, and of a right ought to be a 
continuous blessing. Whether or not it shall be depends 
upon its management, which, I am sorry to say, is now 
much criticised. Some incidents occurred during my 
canvass of the State in the fall of 1886 which illustrate 
the condition of the country schools of Nevada before 
the establishment of the State University. 

Although Nevada had an ample school fund, result- 
ing from the proceeds of the sale of two million acres 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 281 

of agricultural land, received in lieu of the i6th and 
36th sections granted to the several States, it was diffi- 
cult to obtain teachers. There was no institution in 
the State where persons desiring to become teachers 
could be qualified for that purpose, and consequently 
nearly all the teachers were imported from California, 
although the young men and women in Nevada were 
anxious to be elected teachers in the public schools. 

I had a public political meeting at Candeleria, 
Esmeralda County, Nevada. The room in which the 
speaking took place was prepared for a dance after 
the political exercises were over, and the young people 
insisted that I should take part in their social entertain- 

The leader of the ladies was a beautiful girl, nineteen 
or twenty years old, whose sprightly and vivacious 
manner made her a natural favorite among men and 
women. In the corner stood a modest-looking, prepos- 
sessing young woman^ and I observed that she turned 
her head to wipe away the tears from her eyes. I 
inquired the cause of one of the ladies. She said the 
young lady who was leading the festivities, and telling 
everybody what to do, was a candidate for teacher, but 
that the trustees refused to appoint her and employed 
the young lady in the corner, who was left out of the 

I immediately approached the Candeleria girl and 
told her I wanted an opportunity to speak to her. She 
readily granted my request, and I informed her what I 
had been told by my lady friend, and I said to her : 

"The young lady standing there is not responsible 
for your own defeat. I understand that she was edu- 
cated for a teacher and has no other means of support, 
and would naturally come to Nevada or go most 
anywhere else to fill a position of that kind. You are 
too brave a girl, with too good a heart, to punish her 
under the circumstances." 

282 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

"How can I help it?" she replied. 

**Go up and put your arm around her, introduce her 
to the people here, and make her have a good time," 
I said. "You will feel better for it, and you know you 
ought to do it." 

"I will do it." And she did it in the most enthusiastic 
and graceful manner, and then we all had a good time 
the remainder of the evening. 

When I entered the Senate there was an Indian reser- 
vation at Pyramid Lake which was then receiving, and 
has since received, $13,000 or $14,000 per year, which 
I then regarded, and still regard, as a calamity to the 

Although I have had much to do with the Indian 
Service in Congress, serving as I did as chairman of 
the Committee on Indian Affairs, I still think, as I then 
thought, that the reservation system is a mistake. 
Confining Indians to a reservation and supplying them 
with the necessities of life simply demoralizes them; but 
I was anxious to educate the young Indians and prepare 
them for the duties of citizenship. I took measures to 
establish an Indian school at Carson, Nevada, and have 
done all in my power to secure the education of the 
Indians of Nevada in such matters as will make them 

The beneficial effects of compelling the Indians to 
take care of themselves are strongly illustrated by the 
fact that the Indians from the reservation are by no 
means equal to the Indians who have taken care of 
themselves by herding stock, cutting wood, or doing 
washing. Often when visiting the institutions I am 
able to select Indians not raised on the reservation from 
those who were by the superiority of the former in every 

I am glad to say that the Indian Bureau has reached 
the conclusion which I entertained when I first entered 
political life — that the Indians cannot be civilized on 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 283 

reservations, but that they must be individualized and 
allowed to do for themselves, or they will perish by 
idleness, disease, and stagnation. 


Return to the Senate — The demonetization of silver — Exposure of 
John Sherman — How he deceived Congress — I offer a bill to 
restore silver. 

^^hen I returned to the Senate March 4, 1887, the 
silver question was agitating the country. The silver 
question grew out of ignorance of the money question 
by the many; and greed and dishonesty of the fewr 
Aristotle twenty-two hundred years ago told the world 
what money was. He said it was the creation of law, 
and that whatever the law declared to be money was 
the best money, upon whatever material the edict of law 
was stamped. The vicious few who desired to monopo- 
lize the material out of which money was made declared 
that material, not law, was money. The material which 
passed as money often changed because it was too bulky 
for use or two small in quantity. 

Nearly every kind of property has been used as 
money, such as shells, cattle, slaves, and the like. 
Nearly all the metals have been used as money — iron, 
lead, copper, etc. Silver was used by the ancients long 
before gold, but for the last two thousand years both 
gold and silver have been used as money. The quantity 
of these metals has determined the rise and fall of 

When the mines have been productive the world 
has progressed in the arts of civilization. When the 
mines have failed, want and decay have followed with 
as much regularity as night follows day. The most 
conspicuous civilization of ancient times existed when 
Rome was at the zenith of her power. At that time she 
used both gold and silver as money. The coins of the 
Empire, according to the best evidence that now 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 283 

remains, amounted to about eighteen hundred millions 
of our money. The mines of Spain, Italy, and Greece 
were closed, and for about fourteen hundred years there 
was practically no mining. Contraction of the money 
volume made money dearer, because it was scarcer, and 
nobles and serfs occupied Europe until some time after 
the discovery of the New World. 

More than four hundred years ago gold and silver 
were discovered in Mexico and South America; then 
commenced the Reformation. Within thirty years after 
that great discovery, a Luther appeared. More money 
had enabled him to visit Rome and expose the wicked- 
ness, as he declared, of the Church government. More 
money from the New World breathed new life, as it 
were, into the Old for centuries. 

At the commencement of the nineteenth century a 
change took place. The Spanish-American wars greatly 
diminished the supply of gold and silver from Mexico 
and South America, and produced universal distress in 
Europe and America. 

War and famine marked the history of Europe from 
1800 to 1850. The United States was partially exempt 
from the contraction which followed the failure of the 
supply of gold and silver, by liberal land laws which 
induced European immigrants to come and occupy the 
great Mississippi Valley, and bring with them their 
families and what little money they might possess. This 
influx of population and supply of money relieved the 
United States from the terrible effect of a money famine 
which produced universal distress in Europe. 

The discovery of gold in California in 1848, and a 
like discovery in Australia two years later, created great 
excitement throughout the world. The people of the 
United States, more than two hundred thousand strong, 
rushed to the new El Dorado of California; and 
almost a like number from Great Britain flocked to 
the mines of Australia. The influx of gold was quick 

286 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

and enormous. The people generally rejoiced, because 
it revived business and made good times. But in the 
midst of the enthusiasm of the masses De Quincy pro- 
claimed to the world in fervid eloquence that the influx 
of gold was destroying civilization, demoralizing the 
world, and would result in ultimate ruin. 

Chevalier, one of the most prominent financiers of 
Europe, published a book in which he contended gold 
must be demonetized; that the continuous use of gold as 
money would work universal repudiation; that it was 
dishonest and wicked to pay debts in gold under such 
a flood as was coming from California and Australia. 
His voice was potent. Germany and Holland closed 
their mints to gold and adopted the silver standard. 
Maclaren of England, representing the bondholders of 
the British Empire, made the same argument in the 
early fifties against the use of gold, which has since 
been used by gold standard contractionists far more 
than thirty years against the use of silver. In his argu- 
ment in favor of the bondholders he said: 

Our neighbors on the Continent received the announcement of 
these remarkable discoveries in a different spirit; from the first 
they have considered them of the greatest importance and have 
expressed great solicitude for the maintenance of the standard 

Immediately that the fact of a great increase in the 
production of gold was established, the government of 
Holland, **a nation justly renowned,'' says N. Chevalier, 
"for its foresight and probity, discarded gold from its 
currency." "They may," says the same author, "have 
been rather hasty in passing this law, but in a matter 
of this nature it is better to be in advance of events than 
to let them pass us." 

France appointed a monetary commission which con- 
sidered the question of demonetizing gold for several 
years, and finally reported that it was necessary to 
demonetize one or the other of the precious metals; that 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 287 

the supply was violating contracts by depreciating money 
with which debts were paid. 

While the agitation for the demonetization of gold 
was continuing, the Comstock was discovered. About 
that time, Louis Napoleon, or his advisers, conceived the 
idea of unifying the currency weights and measures 
throughout the civilized world. He accordingly called 
a conference of the nations to meet in Paris to consider 
the subject. 

The United States appointed Mr. Ruggles of New 
York as a delegate to that conference. Mr. Ruggles, 
before his departure for Paris, gave a dinner to discuss 
the general subject. I was invited to that dinner, and 
met professors and men from different sections of the 
United States. The advantages of uniform weights and 
measures and a uniform currency were favorably dis- 
cussed. Mr. Ruggles soon after departed for France. 

John Sherman of Ohio, chairman of the Committee 
on Finance, left the United States about the same time 
for England. He spent several weeks in London in 
consultation with the bondholding class connected with 
the Bank of England, and was so completely in accord 
with that fraternity that they had his portrait painted 
and placed in the great bank, where I suppose it still 

He went to Paris, where he spent several weeks, and 
wrote a letter to the Emperor in favor of his plan of 
unifying the currency — provided the single gold stand- 
ard was adopted. 

The conference finally passed a resolution recom- 
mending the single gold standard for all nations. It 
may be asked how the bondholders of Paris and London 
were induced to change their minds and favor gold 
instead of silver. The answer is easy. 

The Comstock lode had been discovered some years 
before, but the great bonanza was just uncovered, and 
Mr. Lindeman, Director of the United States Mint, 

288 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

reported in London that there were fifteen hundred 
millions of silver in sight in one mine on the Comstock. 

In the mean time, the output of gold had declined, 
and it was the flood of silver that they feared, because 
it must be remembered that dealers in bonds and credits 
have from the beginning of the world desired to make 
money dear by making it scarcer. 

They first feared a flood of gold and wanted to 
demonetize that metal to make money scarce. Then 
came the flood of silver, and they feared that more than 

John Sherman undertook the duty of carrying into 
effect in the United States what he and the conference 
in Paris had recommended. A cunning plan was 
invented to accomplish that purpose. 

John J. Knox, Comptroller of the Currency, a 
crafty, scheming, money-making individual, to whom 
I have on many occasions paid my respects, got up a 
codification of the mint laws. I have no doubt the 
scheme was conceived for the sole purpose of clandes- 
tinely omitting the silver dollar from the list of coins. 

John Sherman introduced the bill, and continually 
talked about the silver dollar, and the inscriptions 
thereon, etc. But when it became a law it was found 
there was no silver dollar in the bill, the trade dollar 
containing 120 grains taking the place of the silver 
dollar, and thus silver was demonetized. 

If anybody doubts he did that, and has patience to 
examine the debates between him and myself, it will 
be seen how he falsified his statements. It will 
be seen that the manipulators would take either 
gold or silver, or any other material, provided they could 
make money scarce and dear and property cheap, and 
thus enslave the masses and enrich the classes. 

If the selfish purposes of the fetish worshiper of the 
material upon which the Government stamps money 
could be exposed, the people might investigate the 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 289 

question and compel the Government to stamp money 
upon material which the unscrupulous could not 

While civilization has been subject to the fluctuation 
of the product of the mines for the last two thousand 
years, by which fluctuation speculators in money have 
grown rich, and the people have been reduced to pov- 
erty, the Shylocks have not always guessed right. 

In 1896, when poverty and misery were well-nigh 
universal in the civilized world, a marvelous output of 
gold changed conditions. 

In the last decade there have been in round numbers 
three thousand millions of gold added to the circulation 
of the civilized world, and prosperity exists every- 
where, although bondholders have not reaped their 
usual harvest. The depreciation of gold during the last 
ten years has fully equaled the interest on debts. 

What Chevalier and Maclaren feared fifty years ago 
for the creditor class of that day has occurred to the 
bondholders of to-day by the recent output of gold. 
Oohn Sherman's conspiracy was more successful. To 
avoid the depreciation of bonds by an increase of money 
derived from silver, the conspiracy of 1873, which 
demonetized silver when the output of both gold and 
silver furnished a scanty supply of money, secured 
enormous gains to the rich and robbed the people for 
more than twenty years by decreasingprices of property 
and increasing the obligations of deb^ 

If the present output of gold continues to increase, the 
power of the creditor class of the world will be exerted 
to the utmost to demonetize gold (as by repudiation), 
and they will endeavor to adopt some other material 
less abundant which will again depreciate the value of 
property and enhance the value of money and bonds. 
^On December 15, 1887, I offered a bill to restore 
silver to its place as a money metal, and made an 
elaborate speechX My bill was referred to the Commit- 

19 / 

290 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

tee on Finance, where it slept, but I continued to bring 
the question before the Senate on all proper occasions. 

John Sherman of Ohio, whenever the subject was 
alluded to, declared that the unfortunate Mint bill 
had been passed after full discussion, in the light of day, 
and that silver was deliberately and intentionally 
demonetized by Congress. 

^On the 8th of March, 1888, I proved in the Senate 
by^quotations from Mr. Sherman's speech on the bill 
to codify the mint laws from which the silver dollar 
was omitted, and by which silver was demonetized, that 
Mr. Sherman, then chairm^ of the Committee on 
Finance, deceived the Senate^ He told them there was 
a silver dollar provided for in the bill, which was not 
true. He said: 

This bill [the bill which demonetized silver] proposes a silver 
coinage exactly the same as the French and what are called the 
associated nations of Europe, who have adopted the international 
standard of silver coinage; that is, the dollar provided for by 
this bill is the precise equivalent of the five-franc piece. 

There was no such dollar in the bill, Mr. Sherman 
attempted to explain. I told him, "The question is 
what you did say, not what you now think you meant to 
say.'' I then read to the Senate an amendment offered 
by him to the bill demonetizing silver when that bill 
was under consideration, which contained the following 
language : 

That upon the coins of the United States there shall be the 
following devices and legends: Upon one side there shall be an 
impression emblematic of liberty, with an inscription of the word 
"Liberty" and the year of the coinage, and upon the reverse shall 
be the figure or representation of an eagle, with the inscription 
"United States of America" and "E Pluribus Unum" and a designa- 
tion of the value of the coin; but on the gold dollar and three- 
dollar piece, the silver dollar, the half dollar, the quarter-dollar, 
the dime, five, three and one-cent pieces the figure of the eagle 
shall be omitted ; and on the reverse of the silver dollar * * * . 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 291 

I also called Senator Sherman's attention to other 
statements which he made to the Senate when the bill 
by which silver was demonetized was under considera- 
tion, all of which were caluculated to deceive the Senate, 
and make it appear that the silver dollar was in the 

vMy discussion with Senator Sherman clearly proves 
^^Mit he deceived the Senate. I also proved from the 
Record that the House of Representatives was also 
deceived by Mr. Hooper, chairman of the Committee 
on Coinage, Weights and Measures. I gave Mr. Sher- 
man ample opportunity to exculpate himself from my 
charge that the bill demonetizing silver was passed 
through both Houses of Congress without the knowl- 
edge of any member thQ4;eof not on the committees 
having charge of the bill.*^ 

♦Cong. Record, ist Sess., 50th Cong., Vol. 19, Part II, 
pp. 1850-1-2-3. 


Nomination of Benjamin Harrison — How John Sherman was beaten 
for the Presidency — Harrison's pledge for free coinage and 
how he repudiated it — Debate with Reagan — Lodge's "Force" 

In June, 1888, the National Republican Convention 
was held at Chicago. I had the honor to be a delegate 
from Nevada to that convention. John Sherman of 
Ohio was the leading candidate. There were quite a 
number of other gentlemen in the field, among whom 
James G. Blaine, Russell A. Alger, and Benjamin Har- 
rison were most prominent. 

^In combination with the advocates of restoration of 
silver in the West, Nevada took an active part in the 
defeat of Mr. Sherman^ My expose of his duplicity in 
smuggling the silver dollar out of the list of coins in 
the Mint bill had been extensively circulated, and the 
friends of bi-metalism concentrated their efforts to 
defeat John Sherman of Ohio. They were aided in 
their efforts by General Alger, who secured a large 
part of the colored delegation from the South which 
were brought to Washington by Mr. Sherman, who 
supposed he was entitled to their votes, first, last, and 
all the time. 

In the second volume of Mr. Sherman's biography, 
page 1029, he deliberately accuses General Alger's 
friends of procuring votes from the South which 
belonged to him. He says : 

I believe, and had as I thought, conclusive proof that the friends 
of General Alger substantially purchased the votes of many of 
the delegates from the Southern States who had been instructed 
by their conventions to vote for me. 

Mr. Sherman also says on the same page of his 
biography : 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 293 

I believed then, as I believe now, that one of the delegates 
from the State of New York practically controlled the whole 
delegation, and that a corrupt bargain was made on Stmday which 
transferred the great body of the vote of New York to General 
Harrison, and thus led to his nomination. 

What reason Mr. Sherman had for accusing the New 
York delegation of corruption in the transfer of their 
votes to General Harrison, it is difficult to understand. 
They certainly did not transfer them from Mr. Sher- 
man, for he informs us in the same connection that 
he did not at any time receive a vote from the State 
of New York, although eight ballots had been taken 
previous to the Sunday mentioned by Mr. Sherman. 

Mr. Sherman appeared to be ignorant of the 
determined fight made against his nomination by dele- 
gates who resented his duplicity in demonetizing silver. 

The friends of General Harrison, or General Harri- 
son himself, it matters not which, were untrue to the 
silver mer^4ind secured their influence by false represen- 
tations.\rhey told me that Harrison was in favor of 
remonetization of silver; but that in view of the large 
number of advocates of the gold standard in the 
convention, he could not pledge himself to recommend 
to Congress free-coinage legislation; but that he would 
not use the influence of the Administration against 
legislation for the restoration of silver, nor would he 
veto any bill that Congress might pass to rehabilitate 

I wrote a statement embodying what his friends said 
to me, and told them to take it to General Harrison 
and obtain his consent or dissent to the proposition. 
They returned to me with the positive assurance, as they 
alleged, direct from General Harrison, that he would 
not use his influence, if elected President, to prevent the 
passage of a free-coinage bill, and if one were passed 
by Congress he would gladly sign it. 

When it was known that the silver delegates in the 

294 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

convention would unanimously support General Harri- 
son, the New York delegation and other large dele- 
gations were at once transferred to him, and his nomina- 
tion was secured. 

The active cooperation of Grover Cleveland in the 
manipulation of the currency by the Rothschilds of 
London and J. Pierpont Morgan of New York was 
very unpopular with the people. He was accused by both 
leading Democrats and Republicans of having betrayed 
his party and of having turned his back upon the Demo* 
cratic platform of 1884 upon which he was elected. 
That platform declared : 

We believe in honest money, the gold and silver coinage of 
the Constitution, and a circulating medium convertible into such 
money without loss. 

That declaration secured Mr. Cleveland's election 
and brought the silver men to his support. The plat- 
form and pledges upon which Harrison's campaign was 
made were in sharp contrast with the positions taken by 
Cleveland's Administration. Congress remained in ses- 
sion during a large portion of the campaign of that 

On September 4, my friend, Senator John H. Reagan 
of Texas, and I had a running debate with regard to the 
two candidates for the Presidency, Cleveland and Har- 
rison. Reagan had made up his mind to vote for Cleve- 
land, notwithstanding his betrayal of the Democratic 
party on the money question. I said in the course of 
the debate: 

I am sorry to see that my friend from Texas contemplates 
with composure the spectacle that is before him with the election 
of Mr. Cleveland, if that calamity could possibly happen. 

Mr. Reagan replied: 

I am obliged to the Senator from Nevada for his kindness and 
sympathy and sorrow for my unfortunate position. I simply ask 
him to reverse that picture and look through the other end of the 

Reminitcences of William M. Stewart 295 

glass. The Republican party, which brought about the condition 
of things which contracted the currency, which demonetized silver, 
and which is responsible for it, has no condemnation from him, 
and he is supporting that party when he knows that the Democrats 
in both Houses of Congress hold the same views that he does, 
and yet he fails to act with them, and acts and votes with the 
party that has produced the very condition of things which he 
laments and condemns. 

Mr. Stewart: Will the Senator allow me a word? 

Mr. Reagan: Certainly. 

Mr. Stewart: I know two things which reconcile me to my 
position. We know that Cleveland will veto any bill giving relief, 
or looking to the remonetization or recoinage of silver, and we 
know that Harrison will not. 

Mr. Reagan: I do not see how the Senator knows that. I 
simply want the Senator to reverse the glass and look at himself 
supporting and vindicating a party that brought these things about, 
and refusing to act with the great body of the Democratic party 
in correcting them. I shall express no sorrow for it. He docs not 
want that. If he does not mind, he will express the sorrow for 
himself after a while. 

Mr. Stewart: I like my condition. The Republican party has 
declared in favor of the use of both gold and silver as money — 
not as a depreciated coinage, but as money. 

At that time I believed that Harrison was an honest 
man and would stand by the pledges his friends made 
to the silver delegates in the National Convention, and 
that he certainly would be guided by the platform of his 
party. I was deceived and disappointed. After his 
election he demanded legislation repudiating the use of 
silver for any purpose. 

The Republican convention which nominated Ben- 
jamin Harrison placed in its platform a pledge in 
favor of silver much stronger than that which the silver 
men received from the managers of the Harrison cam- 
paign. The plank in the Republican platform upon 
which he was elected declared, as before stated, that: 

The Republican party is in favor of the use of both gold and 
silver as money, and condemns the policy of the Democratic admin- 
istration in its efforts to demonetize silver. 

296 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

This plank I drew myself after an all-night session 
of the Committee on Resolutions, discussing the ques- 
tion of silver. The Committee on Resolutions and the 
entire convention were deliberately pledged to the fore- 
going proposition. 

Harrison, after he was elected President, not only 
disregarded the pledge he had made to the silver dele- 
gates in the Chicago Convention which secured his 
nomination, but utterly repudiated the platform upon 
which he was elected, and did all in his power to pre- 
vent silver legislation. 

Congress had more respect for the National platform 
than the Chief Executive. On July 14, 1890, the 
House having passed a bill which was substantially a 
free-coinage bill, it was apparent a majority of the Sen- 
ate were favorable to the House bill. 

A compromise measure was prepared by the Com- 
mittee on Finance of which John Sherman was chair- 
man. As the organ of the committee he reported the 
bill, and it was consequently called the Sherman Act, 
although he was not in favor of it or any other legisla- 
tion looking to a further use of silver. His excuse for 
reporting it was that it was necessary to defeat free- 
coinage legislation. The bill enacted: 

That the Secretary of the Treasury is hereby directed to pur- 
chase from time to time silver bullion to the aggregate amount 
of four million five hundred thousand ounces, or so much thereof 
as may be offered in each month, at the market price thereof, not 
exceeding one dollar for three hundred and seventy one and twenty- 
five hundredths grains of pure silver, and to issue in payment for 
J5uch purchases of silver bullion Treasury notes of the United 
States to be prepared by the Secretary of the Treasury, in such 
form and of such denominations, not less than one dollar, nor more 
than one thousand dollars, as he may prescribe. 

This law gave great relief and created comparative 
good times until the Cleveland raid on the finances of 
the country. 

President Harrison not only operated with the fren- 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 297 

zied financiers of New York and London in manipu- 
lating the money of the western world to rob the 
masses, but he devoted his Administration to an attempt 
to confer on the Federal Government control of all 
elections, local and national. 

Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts, then a mem- 
ber of the House, cooperated with the President, and 
on June 14, 1890, introduced a bill* to amend the 
Federal election laws of the United States, which 
was referred to the select committee on elections of 
President, Vice-President, and Representatives in Con- 
gress. This bill was so amended by the committee, 
and by Mr. Lodge on the floor of the House, that it 
practically placed all elections under special officers 
appointed by the President, backed by the military arm 
of the Government. It seemed to me that its passage 
would subvert the Government of the United States 
and substitute military dictation for civil authority in 
elections in the several States. 

The contest in the House was elaborate and pro- 
tracted, but finally on July 2, 1890, the bill passed the 
House by a vote of 155 to 149. There was a majority 
of about six in favor of the bill in the Senate. It was 
an Administration measure and Republican Senators 
naturally supported it. It was a long bill, sweeping in 
its provisions, and sufficiently ambiguous to puzzle 
ordinary readers. I found by my conversation with 
Republican Senators that very few of them possessed 
any real knowledge of the provisions of the bill. 

Benton McMillin of the House, afterward Gov- 
ernor of Tennessee, called at my rooms in the Shoreham 
Hotel shortly after the bill passed the House and found 
me examining its provisions. After some preliminary 
conversation he asked me what I thought of the meas- 
ure, and if I thought it would pass the Senate. I 
told him I was very much opposed to the bill, but that 

*H. R. 10958, 51st Cong., 1st Sess. 

298 Reminitcences of William M. Stewart 

there was only one chance of defeating it in the Senate, 
and that was by delay. 

I said to him that there were many important 
measures pending before the Senate ; the tariff bill, and 
others of almost equal importance. If it could be so 
arranged as to consider those bills before the election 
bill, commonly called the "Force bill," so that it would 
not be considered in the long session, it might be 
defeated in the short session by debate and parlia- 
mentary tactics. I told him to tell his friends to keep 
quiet and supply what aid they could in placing the 
consideration of the Force bill after the tariff and other 
bills were disposed of. He reported to me from time 
to time such facts a3. he could learn with regard to the 
order of business. \Finally a caucus of the Republican 
Senators was called to arrange the order of business. /^ 
I did all in my power to assist every Senator who had "^ 
a favorite measure to advance its consideration, and 
it so happened that the Force bill was placed low on the 
calendar of measures to be considered, and was not 
reached during the long session. 

Senator Gg^nan of Maryland, the leader of the Dem- 
ocratic party in the Senate, managed the opposition to 
the bill with skill and ability from the beginning. We con- 
sulted together constantly as to the mode of procedure. 

Congress convened on December i, 1890. The 
President in his message argued at some length in favor 
of th|> Force biji^and urgently recommended its pas- 
sage.\pn December 3 the Senate resumed considera- 
tion of the Force bill, and Mr. Hoar immediately 
requested that that portion of the President's message 
relating to the Federal election law be read, which was 
accordingly done. 

The message was an urgent appeal to Congress to 
pass the Lodge Force bill and place the control of elec- 
tions in the Federal Executive. The bill was debated 
from time to time until the holidays interveneoS 



Force bill resumed — Side-tracked for silver with aid of new 
Senators from Idaho — Trip to New York to pair Senator Stan- 
ford against Force bill—I outwit Senator Aldrich— Confir- 
mation of L. Q. C. Lamar. 

SPn January 5, when the new Senators from Idaho, / 
McConnell and Shoup, took their seats, I inquired of 
them if they would vote to take up the Silver bill if I 
made a motion to that effect. They assured me they 
woul^ It so happened that with the Senators then 
present ^heir votes would make a majority to take up 
the bill.\ Senator George of Mississippi had the floor 
on the/election bill and Senator Harris of Tennessee 
was in the chair. I informed Mr. Gorman of the situa- 
tion and asked him if he would notify Senator Harris 
of the motion I was about to make, and ask Senator 
George to yield for the purpose of the motion. He 
reported that it was all right, and I moved to take up 
the Silver bill. No debate could be had on a motion to 
take up a bill, whatever business might be before the 
Senate. Senator Harris promptly submitted the question 
to the Senate. ^Mr. Hoar demanded the yeas and nays, 
which were ordered.* The motion^as carried, and 
the Silver bill was taken up, 34 to 29/ 

The Silver bill, in connection with other necessary 
bills, occupied the attention of the Senate until January 
16, 1 89 1, when the Senate again resumed consideration 
of the Force bill. I then addressed the Senate as 
follows :t 

Mr. President, I desire to call the attention of the Senate to 
the constitutional provision under which this legislation is proposed 
We have the power conferred by the G)nstitution to legislate as to 

♦Cong. Record, 51st G)ng., 2nd Sess., Part I, p. 912. 
tCong. Record, Sist Cong., 2nd Sess., Part II, p. 1642. 

300 Reminitcence8 of William M. Stewart 

the time, place, and manner of electing Representatives in Congress. 
The only provision of the Gjnstitution that gives warrant for such 
legislation is found in the fourth section of the first article of the 
Constitution, and reads as follows: 

"The times, places, and manner of holding elections for Senators 
and Representatives shall be prescribed in each State by the Legis- 
lature thereof; but the Congress may at any time, by law, makt or 
alter such regulations, except as to the place of choosing Senators.*' 

The entire warrant for any legislation on this subject must be 
found in this provision. I am aware of the principle of construction 
that when power is given to Congress by the Constitution to do a 
given thing, that power carries with it by implication the doing 
of all other things necessary to accomplish that purpose. We have 
the power to make regulations or to alter the regulations made by 
the State Legislatures as to the election of Congressmen, and there 
our power ends. We have no power to deal with the election of 
State officers; we have no power to deal with the election of 
electors of President and Vice-President except to fix the time of 
such election. 

Now, if in exercising the power conferred to alter the State 
regulations as to the election of Members of Congress, we inter- 
fere with powers that do not belong to Congress, but are especially 
reserved by the States, we are passing the bounds of our functions 
and violating the Constitution. 

Is it true that, because Members of Congress are elected at 
the same time with State officers and with electors of President 
and Vice-President, therefore the Federal Government may regu- 
late in any manner State elections, may inspect ballots for State 
officers and supervise and regulate all the proceedings governing 
local elections? Is the power to fix the times, places, and manner 
of holding Congressional elections sufficient warrant for all that? 
Does it give that power? The answer must be in the negative. 

What is the condition of the legislation of the several States 
with regard to the times and places and manner of holding Con- 
gressional elections? Are they not held in nearly all the States at 
the same time as the State elections, and must they not of necessity 
remain so until after the next general election? If this bill in its 
present form should become a law, would not the Federal officers 
whom it creates be present, supervise and regulate all State elec- 
tions two years hence? The Presidential electors are elected, I 
believe, in nearly every State in the Union at the same time as 
Representatives in Congress are elected. Is not the machinery of 
this bill especially calculated to have present a horde of Federal 
officers, paid with Federal money, to supervise not only Congres- 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 301 

sional elections, but elections of electors of President and Vice- 

It must be remembered that Congress may fix the time of 
electing electors of President and Vice-President, and if that time 
be fixed permanently on the same day Congressmen are elected 
then the supervisors of elections will not only control the elec- 
tion of Congressmen, but will necessarily manage and control the 
election of electors of the President and Vice-President. And for 
the present, and until the States shall have fixed some other day 
for their general elections, the elections to be supervised by Federal 
officers under the provisions of this bill must include Members of 
Congress, Presidential electors, and all State officers. Besides, 
many of the States have fixed the time for elections in their consti- 
tutions, which cannot be changed for years. The practical result 
of this bill will be to place the control of all elections, State and 
National, in charge of Federal officers. 

We are not children. All of us have seen elections enough to 
know that a horde of officers at the polls with a purpose to con- 
trol elections, having the right to inspect the ballots, having the 
right to arrest, having the right to keep order, having the right 
of supervising everything, will exercise an overwhelming power 
at a general election and influence the result as to every officer 
voted for at such election. We all know that an army of officers 
at the polls, backed by the prestige of the General Government, 
must dominate local elections and affect the result of the election 
of State officers of every State in the Union. If this bill, which 
mixes the election of Members of Congress with all other elec- 
tions, should pass, a spectacle will be presented of the imperial 
power of the General Government dominating local elections 
throughout the United States. The elections must be commingled 
at the next election in every State, and inasmuch as constitutions 
must be amended and constitutional laws be changed before the 
States would be able to separate them, if this bill becomes a law 
there is little hope that hereafter local elections will be free from 
Federal control. 

The spectacle will be presented by the passage of this bill of 
a President appointing marshals and judges to assist him in a 
reelection to his high office. This army of officers will also be inter- 
ested in retaining their places under the Executive who appointed 

Is not the Presidential office strong enough? Has it not the 
veto power, expanded from a dead letter to a living power that 
controls at least one-third of the votes of both Houses of Con- 
gress? Is it not a living power that dispenses patronage the like 
of which and the extent of which were never before known on 

302 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

earth? Is not that patronage constantly increasing? Is there no: 
a clamor to increase it? Is it not proposed in many quarters to 
give the President control of telegraphs, railroads, and many other 

The Administration through the Secretary of the Treasury 
already has control of the finances of the country, and under your 
legislation he can expand and contract the currency at pleasure. 
These enormous powers are in the hands of one man, and if you 
further put in his hands millions of government money and an 
army of retainers at the polls under the pretext of controlling 
Congressional elections, you will have great difficulty after a time 
in continuing your Presidential elections unless you will con- 
tinue to elect the same man. 

The passage of this law will, in the next election at least, 
and perhaps forever, place over all the local elections this super- 
vising power with high-paid officers. That will be the beginning 
of the end of free government. 

I protest against legislation that will change the spirit and 
intent of the Constitution. If this bill must be passed, if the 
power given by the Constitution must be exercised, exercise it 
by separate Congressional elections at a time when no other election 
is held and in a manner prescribed by the Constitution. Go no 
further than the letter and the spirit of that instrument What- 
ever may be said of the evils that exist, you have no right to 
subvert the Constitution and use the authority given to fix the 
times, places, and manner of electing Congressmen for the purpose 
of controlling all other elections. If it be said that Congres- 
sional elections are held at the same time as local elections, and 
that they cannot be regulated without also regulating the latter, 
and that Congress has the power of regulating Congressional 
elections, and therefore the regulation of local elections is but 
an incident of the exercise of the power given, I maintain that 
this is no excuse. Congress has the power to exercise the authority 
given in the Constitution without interfering with local elections, 
by fixing a separate day for Congressional elections. 

When you so legislate as to exercise the power given by the 
Constitution to regulate the method of electing Congressmen it is 
your duty at the same time to see that you do not override other 
and more important provisions of the Constitution. 

This bill, taking hold as it does of the whole State machinery 
and providing as it does for paid agents to represent partisans 
on the one side or the other, is dangerous not only to the country, 
but to the Republican party. It is a sword that will cut both ways. 
It can be used by Democrats as well as by Republicans, but in each 

Reminisceiices of William M. Stewart 303 

case it will be used against the liberties of the people. If the 
Federal authorities can have at all the polls in the United States 
paid retainers to govern and control the local elections, you have 
gone very far toward changing the form of this Government from 
a republic to a monarchy. There is no use in saying that you can 
manage these elections better than the people. That is always the 
plea of tyrants. That is the reason given by despots for the exer- 
cise of imperial power. Their excuse for governing is that they 
are wiser than the masses. Local self-government is the foimda- 
tion of free institutions. It is the only guaranty against despotism. 
This bill, if enacted into a law, would not only violate the Con- 
stitution, but also the fundamental principles of free institutions. 

The control of G>ngressional elections, mixed and commingled 
with all other elections, means that there will be no more freedom 
among the people, but that the people shall be dominated by the 
paid agents of Federal power. I contend that if there is a necessity 
for any legislation of this kind, the bill should be recommitted 
and stripped of its unconstitutional provisions. There certainly 
is no such evil in the United States as will warrant Congress, by 
this indirect mode, in depriving the people of the right to select 
their own local officers without the interference of the General 
Government. Evils always exist in local government, but they 
regulate themselves. If the General Government should attempt to 
remedy all the defects in local elections and such an attempt 
should be successful, free institutions would be at an end. Patron- 
age and the veto power are being enlarged and expanded every day. 
These powers are now exercised by common consent with a freedom 
and extravagance that would have astonished the framers of the 

It must be remembered that it was the veto power and the 
dispensing power which produced the revolution in England. Our 
ancestors fought against such usurpation for generations, and 
when our Constitution was being formed there was a strong pro- 
test against the veto power and all other kingly prerogatives. Mr. 
Hamilton said that, as the veto power had not been exercised in 
England since the Revolution, it would not be used in this country 
except to defend the Presidential office from usurpation by Con- 
gress. Under this special plea the fatal power was incorporated 
in the Constitution. Franklin warned them of the danger. The 
danger that Franklin predicted has come. No legislation can be 
devised in either House of Congress the promoters of which do not 
tremble under the cloud of the veto. 

It has been so for the last eight or ten years, and that cloud 
is growing larger and larger; and now, with all that inunense 
power and that immense patronage that are so all-controlling. 

304 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

you propose to place in the hands of the Executive the further 
power to appoint election officers at the polls, paid by the Govern- 
ment, without limit as to number, to intimidate and override the 
people by their force of imperial power. It ought not to be done. 
The plea for pure Congressional elections is not a sufficient excuse. 

If this bill is not to be confined to G)ngressional elections 
alone, it ought not to pass. Congressional should not be mixed 
with State elections. It will alarm the people to see this bill 
go into operation. They will rebel in the North as well as in the 
South when Federal officers are empowered to supervise local elec- 
tions, and that rebellion will come quickly. The people will i\ot 
submit to the surrender of the right of local self-government 
There is no excuse for interfering with local elections. Con- 
gressional elections can and must be separated from them if it is 
really necessary for the Government of the United States to super- 
vise the elections of Representatives in Congress. 

Let no man think that the people of this country are prepared 
for Federal interference in local elections. It cannot be done 
with impunity. The States are jealous of their rights and will 
assert them. I remember the description of the feeling in Colorado 
as given us the other day by the junior Senator from that State 
[Mr. Wolcott]. He told me that although the Federal officers did 
not interfere with local elections, yet every citizen of Denver 
felt humiliated to see supervising officers placed over them. That 
humiliation will become a reality if this bill, with the unlimited 
appropriation and the unlimited army of assistants to supervise 
and control elections therein provided for, is passed. 

I say we have no right in the exercise of the power conferred 
by this clause in the Constitution to go beyond the letter and 
spirit by any indirection, by passing legislation that interferes 
with any power reserved to the States. 

At the proper time I shall make a motion to recommit thib 
bill and to confine its operation to constitutional limits. 

<^On January 20 Senator Aldrich moved to take up a 
resolution, previously introduced by him, amending the 
rules of the Senate so as to cut off debate at the will of 
the remainder of that session. The object of Mr. Ald- 
the majority, the amended rule to continue only during 
rich and his associates, who were in favor of the Force 
bill, was to end debate so that a majority could pass the 
Force bill at will.> 

The rule was debated in connection with the Force 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 305 

bill until January 22, wheh it was side-tracked by the 
bill making an apportionment o£ Representatives in 
Congress among the several StatesV This was a very 
important bill, and it was necessary that it should be 
passed before the 4th of March in order to provide for 
the following fall elections. Mr. Wolcott had charge 
of the bill. 

We canvassed the Senate thoroughly and ascertained 
that we would have a majority to take it up on Janu- 
ary 22. 

There were just enough Senators paired with those 
in favor of taking up the Apportionment bill to carry 
it by one majority without the vote of Senator Stanford, 
and by two majority with his vote. Senator Stanford 
had gone to New York, and a violent snow, hail, and 
rain-storm had cut off telegraphic communication be- 
tween that city and Washington. However, before 
Senator Stanford left, in anticipation of the necessity 
of his vote, I called at his house and he told me I might 
pair him in favor of taking up the Apportionment bill 
at any time. 

On January 22, according to our understanding. Sen- 
ator Wolcott moved to take up the Apportionment bill, 
and demanded the yeas and nays. The various pairs 
were stated and arranged except that of Senator Stan- 
ford. I contended that he was in favor of taking up the 
Apportionment bill, and emphatically denied the right 
of any Senator to pair him against me. There the 
matter rested, and the Senator from California was not 

The Apportionment bill, when the vote was 
announced, was taken up by 35 to 34. The Senate then 
proceeded to the consideration of the bill, which 
required considerable time. It was conceded both by 
the friends and foes of the Force bill that it was too 
late in the session to consider it, in view of the Appor- 
tionment bill and appropriation bills then pending. 

306 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

On the afternoon of that day I happened to be in 
the cloakroom, and heard one of the colored messengers 
remark that Senator Aldrich was going to New York 
that night. The train for New York was to leave at 
five o'clock, and I determined to make the trip myself. 
I took it for granted that his journey on that night 
was for the purpose of securing the vote of Senator 
Stanford to resume the consideration of the Force 

I went to the Senate restaurant to take lunch before 
leaving, and there met Senator Aldrich. I told him I 
would accompany him to New York on the pleasure trip 
he was about to take. He looked a little surprised, but 
said nothing. We were in the same car most of the 
way, but after we had passed Philadelphia I went into 
another car to secure an opportunity to have a private 
conversation with the baggage-man as he would come 
through the train ; and, as I expected, the man who col- 
lected baggage appeared as usual about half way 
between Philadelphia and New York. 

I told him that I was extremely anxious to make the 
quickest trip ever made from the landing of the ferry- 
boat to the Windsor Hotel, and asked if he could secure 
a fast and light double team for that purpose. He said 
he did not know. I gave him five dollars and told him 
I wanted him to know. Then he said that he thought 
he could, and that he would have the team ready by the 
time I reached the ferry slip. 

It was then between eleven and twelve o'clock and a 
very unpleasant night. 

The baggage-man had the team ready, and I had ten 
dollars ready for the driver, which I handed to him with 
the understanding that he would let the horses run 
wherever they could. The streets were clear of vehicles, 
but there was some snow and sleet upon them. The 
horses ran most of the way, and reached the Windsor 
Hotel in pretty quick time. I inquired for Senator 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 307 

Stanford's room, and gave a boy a quarter to take 
me there immediately. 

When I arrived Mrs. Stanford was in the parlor of 
the suite of rooms which she and the Senator occupied. 
I told her my business, and said that according to the 
understanding with the Senator, which, by the way, was 
agreed to when she was present, I would not allow him 
to be paired in favor of the Force bill. 

She said the Senator had met with a severe accident, 
having been thrown from a hansom in the afternoon of 
that day and quite severely bruised, and that it was 
unnecessary to disturb him, as she could attend to the 
business as well as he could. She said she knew what his 
views were and would make them known. 

She called the Senator's secretary, and asked him for 
the dispatch which he had written to send as soon as the 
wires were again up between New York and Wash- 
ington. It was directed to me, and read: 

Pair me again &t the Force bill and all matters connected 

(Signed) Leland Stanford. 

I asked the secretary to go down stairs with me, and 
as we reached the office floor we met Senator Aldrich 
at the elevator on his way to visit Senator Stanford. I 
told him he was too late, and the clerk showed him 
the dispatch. V^e turned away, and there the matter 
dropped, and thu3^e Force bill was defeated, neverj 
again to be revive^^ After that it was never indorsecl 
by the Republican party of the nation or of any State. 

Happily, there are many questions affecting the whole 
country which bring the people of the North and South 
together in common cause. The nation is a unit 
whenever anything affecting the flag takes place in any 
part of the world. The Spanish-American war brought 
the people together in a manner which fosters fraternal 
feeling and affection for a common country. 

308 Reminucences of William M. Stewart 

In 1888 the last effort was made to discriminate 
against soldiers of the late Confederaqr in appointment 
to Federal offices on account of participation in the 
rebellion. L. Q. C. Lamar was nominated by President 
Cleveland as Associate Justice to the Supreme Court 
of the United States. 

The Judiciary Committee found him otherwise 
qualified, but reported that his participation in the 
rebellion ought to prevent his confirmation. I then 
thought, and the people now think, that when the 
"question" was settled, the States restored, and amnesty 
granted, all persons in the Confederate States who 
accepted in good faith the conditions prescribed for 
restoration were entitled, other things being equal, to 
hold any office to which any citizen of the United States 
is eligible. 

The question was discussed by the public press and 
no objection was raised to the confirmation except that 
Mr. Lamar had borne arms against the United States. 

It was known that I was in favor of his confirmation ; 
a flood of letters and petitions poured upon me, none of 
which questioned Mr. Lamar's fitness for the office, 
except the fact that he had borne arms against the 
Government. I was so importuned that I was con- 
strained to publish a letter explanatory of my position. 
In it I gave a full history of the thoroughly patriotic 
course pursued by Mr. Lamar after he accepted the 
conditions imposed by the United States for the restora- 
tion of the several States, and received the amnesty of 
the Government by a vote of two-thirds of each House 
of Congress. His record was conspicuous among the 
leaders of the South who advised the people to let 
by-gones be by-gones and unite cordially with the people 
of the North in every policy and enterprise which would 
be beneficial to the country at large. 

The facts stated in that letter, together with the 
report of the Judiciary Committee, removed every 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 309 

objection to the confirmation which the Senate could 
possibly consider. 

The rejection of Mr. Lamar would have been a direct 
precedent for the rejection for any Federal office of 
every man in the South who had participated in the 

The contest was a bitter one, and the Senate was 
very evenly divided. It required two votes from the 
Republican side to secure the confirmation. I consulted 
with Senator Stanford of California at his house, with 
regard to the matter. We discussed it in all its bearings, 
and when I left his room he assured me that he would 
vote with me for the confirmation of Mr. Lamar. Mr. 
Stanford did so, Mr. Lamar was confirmed; and the 
Senate of the United States was saved from the disgrace 
of granting amnesty and then withdrawing it; and of 
pledging equality of civil and political rights and after- 
ward violating that pledge. 


Harrison's infidelity to pledges— His capacity to repel both friends 
and foes — Cleveland's panic — The fall of Congress into the arms 
of the gold trust— My protest against the Gladstonc-Qcvc- 
land bondholding combination. 

Benjamin Harrison was a unique character. He was 
gifted beyond comparison with a capacity to be disagree- 
able. He never either refused or granted a favor during 
the time he acted as President that he did not give 
offense. He was so impartial in the distribution of his 
disagreeableness that when a Senator entered the cloak- 
room of the Senate his associates could tell by his 
excited and disgusted manner if he had visited the White 
House that day. 

His repudiation of his pledges, and the platform of 
his party, on the question of silver, naturally enraged 
the advocates of honest money. His attempt to pass 
the Force bill through Congress aroused the whole 
country, and particularly the South, where the colored 
population was to be forced into power by a partisan 

He had no difficulty in securing the delegates to the 
National Convention of the Republican party held at 
Minneapolis in June, 1892. The gold standard con- 
tractionists were powerful enough in the Republican 
States of the North and East to reward their faithful 

He was repaid for his efforts to place the South 
under negro control by solid colored delegations from 
nearly every State in the South. T knew his nomination 
was inevitable. My State offered to elect me a delegate 
to the Convention. T declined to accept, or to go to 
Minneapolis to be a witness to the nomination of such 
a man as Benjamin Harrison. 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 311 

Nevada led off by organizing a silver party which 
cooperated with the Populist party and the silver men 
of the Mountain States. This vote went to James 
Weaver, the candidate of the Populist party, and secured 
for him five States. 

The gold trust made an active campaign to nominate 
Grover Cleveland for a second term in 1892. The 
South was so exasperated against Harrison for his 
attempt, as they termed it, to secure negro domination 
in the late Confederate States, that the delegates from 
that section were inclined to look favorably upon the 
nomination of Cleveland. 

The managers of the gold trust prepared a platform 
for him on the silver question, which they contended, 
and which the Democratic press of the country con- 
tended, was so plain a proposition in favor of 
bi-metalism that Cleveland would be bound to obey it. 
It was a cunning device and read as follows : 

We hold to the use of both gold and silver as the standard 
money of the country, and to the coinage of both gold and silver 
without discrimination against either metal or charge for mintage, 
but the dollar unit of coinage of both metals must be of equal in- 
trinsic and exchangeable value or be adjusted through iaternational 
agreement, or by such safeguards of legislation as shall insure the 
maintenance of the parity of the two metals and the equal power 
of every dollar at all times in the markets and in the payment 
of all debts. 

The contest in the campaign of 1892 was three- 
cornered between Harrison, Cleveland, and Weaver. 
The Populist party had its stronghold in the South and 
West, which, other things being equal, would have cast 
their vote for Weaver. But the Populist party of the 
South, dreading the possibility of the reelection of 
Harrison, and believing that he would renew his efforts 
for negro supremacy, joined the gold trust of the North 
in favor of Cleveland. 

312 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

Harrison having fewer personal friends and sup- 
porters than any man who ever occupied the White 
House, was very strong in the slow race, and Cleveland 
received an overwhelming majority against his unpopu- 
lar opponent. 

In the session of Parliament previous to the inaugura- 
tion of Mr. Cleveland there was a strong effort to 
demonetize silver, when Prime Minister Gladstone, 
among other things, said : 

I suppose there is not a year passes over our heads which docs 
not largely add to the mass of British investments abroad. I am 
almost afraid to estimate the total amount of property which the 
United Kingdom holds beyond the limits of the United Kingdom, 
but of this I am well convinced, that it is not to be couated by 
tens of hundreds of millions [pounds]. 

One thousand millions [$5,000,000,000] would probably be an 
extremely low and inadequate estimate. Two thousand millions 
[$10,000,000,000], or something even more than that, is very likely 
to be nearer the mark. 

I think under these circumstances it is rather a serious matter 
to ask this country whether we are going to perform this supreme 
act of self-sacrifice. 

I have a profound admiration for cosmopolitan principles. I 
can go a great length in moderation [laughter] in recommending 
their recognition and establishment ; but if there are these two 
thousand millions [$10,000,000,000] or fifteen hundred millions 
[$7,500,000,000] of money which we have got abroad, it is a very 
serious matter as between this country and other countries. 

We have nothing to pny them: we are not debtors at all: we 
should get no comfort, no consolation out of the substitution of an 
inferior material, of a cheaper money, which we could obtain for 
less and part with for more. We should get no consolation, bnt 
the consolation throughout the world would be great. 

This splendid spirit of philanthropy, which we cannot too highly 
praise — because T have no doubt all this is foreseen — would result 
in our making a present of fifty or a hundred millions [$500,000,000] 
to the world. Tt wotild be thankfully received, but I think the 
gratitude for our benevolence would be mixed with very grave 
misgivings as to our wisdom. 

Mr. Cleveland fully concurred with Mr. Gladstone, 
and contended that the American people ought to coin 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 313 

no more silver, and that they should pay the bonded 
debt of the United States and all other debts of the 
States and the people in gold alone; notwithstanding 
that the United States never agreed to pay gold, but 
agreed to pay coin, of gold or silver, of the standard 
value at the time the funding bill was passed July 14, 

In obedience to the demands of the bondholders 
everywhere, Mr. Cleveland deliberately proceeded to 
create the panic of 1893 after his inauguration. But 
before he got the panic fully under way he invited the 
leading Democrats of the United States to a grand feast 
at the White House, and then and there took occasion 
to show contempt for all Democrats who advocated 
free coinage, placing in charge of the feast only disciples 
of the gold trust, which created much feeling. 

The leading bankers of New York, cooperating with 
Mr. Cleveland's Secretary of the Treasury, John G. 
Carlisle, refused to extend loans or to allow the banks 
of the West their usual accommodations. The stringency 
occasioned was known at the time as the "bankers' 
squeeze," and had its effect. The banks of the interior 
commenced to fail. These failures brought on the most 
disastrous panic the country has ever seen. 

New York banks, in the confidence of the Treasury 
Department, violated the law under which they were 
created and refused to pay either drafts or checks drawn 
on them except in their own certificates of deposit. They 
issued in violation of law over forty millions of certifi- 
cates which the people were compelled to take in lieu of 
money, and thus the syndicate banks lost nothing by 
the panic, but made enormous gains by creating money 
without authority of law. 

When distress became general and the great mass 
of enterprising men of the United States were being 
destroyed Cleveland, on June 30, 1893, issued a 
proclamation convening an extra session of Congress 

314 Reminucences of William M. Stewart 

to assemble on August 7 following, to repeal the silver 
purchasing clause of the Sherman Act. This message 
was well calculated to increase the panic by intensifying 
the distrust which had already been created by the 
bankers' squeeze which the conspiracy organized. 

The first two paragraphs of the proclamation read 
as follows : 

Whereas, the distrust and apprehension concerning the financial 
situation which pervade all business circles have already caused 
great loss and damage to our people, and threaten to cripple our 
merchants, stop the wheels of manufacture, bring distress and 
privation to our farmers, and withhold from our working men the 
wage of labor; 

And whereas, the present perilous condition is largely the result 
of a financial policy which the Executive branch of the Government 
finds embodied in unwise laws which must be executed until 
repealed by Congress: [Meaning the purchasing clause of the 
Sherman Act.] 

Such a proclamation at such a time was like an alarm 
bell in a heavy fog on a rocky coast. The scramble of 
the people of the United States to save themselves from 
financial ruin, the approach of which was proclaimed by 
the Chief Executive, was very like the frantic disorder 
of the passengers on a ship when warned of approaching 
danger. The proclamation created a storm of distrust, 
and every man not in the conspiracy struggled to hold 
on to some portion of the financial wreck to save himself 
from utter destruction, which was the common fate 
of the mass of business men. 

When Congress assembled on the 7th of August, 
1893, ^t required three months of manipulation by 
Cleveland and other emissaries of **frenzied finance," 
many of whom have figured in the recent investigation 
of life insurance companies, to subject Congress to the 
will of the gold trust. 

Tt required about a month to subdue the House of 
Representatives, and three months to persuade the 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 315 

majority of the Senate to do what everybody ought to 
have known was wrong. 

I will not allude to individuals, for it would be 
unkind, and might be unjust, because the pressure was 
too great for an ordinary Senator to withstand. 

I struggled against the Gladstone-Cleveland combina- 
tion until a clear majority was secured for the gold 
trust. I took the floor at all times to prevent the 
consummation of the wrong, when no one else would 
occupy it. The Congressional Record contains between 
two hundred and two hundred and fifty pages of my 
speeches during that contest. 

I closed the debate, when the vote was about to be 
taken, and protested in as strong language as I could 
command against the consummation of the great wrong. 
But Cleveland, life insurance manipulators, Shylocks 
and bond-dealers were too strong to be resisted by the 
Senate of the United- States, and the people suffered the 


The money question — Adherence to principle regardless of party — 
Supply of money a necessity, enormous output of gold furnished 
that supply — Conversion of my critics to the views I advocated 
in 1900 — No more office for me. 

The depreciation of silver as compared with gold 
during the twelve years from March, 1875, to March, 
1887, was a great calamity to the people of my State, 
and more injurious to the people of the civilized world 
than famine, pestilence, and war combined. 

The 412J4 grains of silver which composed a silver 
dollar had been for hundreds of years worth little more 
than 23.8 grains of standard gold, which composed the 
gold dollar, and my investigation satisfied me that there 
was nothing in the relative production of the two metals 
which changed their relative market values. 

From the discovery of gold until the beginning of 
the last century, Von Humboldt estimated that there 
were over forty ounces of silver produced for every 
ounce of gold, which would have made the ratio of 
value, according to the production for that period, over 
40 to I, which was not the case. 

On the contrary, an ounce of gold would at no time 
during that period buy more than i^yi ounces of 
silver. From 1800 to 1850 about thirty ounces of silver 
were produced for each ounce of gold. Still, their 
relative prices remained the same. From 1850 to 1873, 
when the frenzied financiers of that day excluded silver 
from the mints of the United States, only six ounces of 
silver were produced for one ounce of gold; still, an 
ounce of gold would buy in the world's market 15?^ 
ounces of silver. 

After much investigation T realized that it was legis- 
lation, and not production, which had depreciated the 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 317 

price\of silver as compared with gold; for so long as a 
certain .quantity of silver and another certain quantity 
of goldlcould each be taken to the mint and coined into 
the samkamount of money without cost, it was evident 
that thatXcertain amount of silver and that certain 
amount ofWold would be equal to each other in value 
according to^^e axiom in mathematics that things equal 
to the same thing^e equal to each other. 

On examining the legislation of Congress I found that 
the silver dollar had peen omitted from the list of coins 
in the Mint Act of iSyjxand a trade dollar containing 
about 420 grains of standard jsilver for use in the Orient 
to compete with the Mexican dollar, with legal-tender 
power of only $5 in the United NStates, had been substi- 
tuted for the dollar of the fathers. 

Although I was a member of the Senate at the time 
this legislation took place, I had no jcnowledge of the 
change, but continued to suppose that the dollar of 
Jefferson and Hamilton was still recognized by the 
mint laws, and in a speech in favor of specie resumption 
I declared myself in favor of gold, meaning specie, in 
one or two sentences of my speech; but the context of 
the speech shows that I had no idea of advocating gold 
as distinguished from silver. 

This speech became the stock in trade of Sherman 
and every frenzied financier who manipulated insurance 
companies or was engaged in kindred rascality. I was 
compelled in self-defense to investigate and expose the 
manner of the demonetization of silver and the tricks 
employed for that purpose, all of which will be found 
at length in the Congressional Record. The outrage of 
discontinuing the use of silver when there was not 
enough of both gold and silver for use as money made a, 
deep impression upon the people, and the managers of 
the scheme to enhance the value of money and bonds, 
and depreciate the value of property and wages,- found 
it necessary to pretend they were in favor of restoring 

318 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

silver. The Republican party vied with the Democratic 
party in various pretenses that they were in favor of the 
rehabilitation of silver. Times went from bad to worse. 

After my experience with Harrison's Administration 
I found it would be impossible for me to further indorse 
the Republican party without indorsing the crime of 
Johp. Sherman in demonetizing silver. 

^hen it became evident that Benjamin Harrison 
would be nominated his own successor in 1892, 1 severed 
my connection with the Republican party and joined 
my fellow-citizens of Nevada in the organization of a 
silver party, to which I adhered until the silver question 
was>^isposcd of by a sudden and unexpected output of 
gold^ The general prosperity which a thousand millions 
of new gold in the short period of four years had pro- 
duced made further agitation of the silver question in 
the campaign of 1900 not only unnecessary, but useless. 

The silver question having been eliminated from 
politics for the time being at least, I frankly told the 
people of my State the honest truth, which they all now 
believe. I told them the output of gold had buried 
the silver party, and that the adherents to that organiza- 
tion were at liberty to align themselves politically as 
they thought proper. For all of which T was criticised 
by a portion of the public press. 

I have no harsh words for those who criticised me on 
account of their financial necessities, or because of their 
ignorance of the conditions, or because of their unreason- 
able faith in the speeches that William J. Bryan made 
in Nevada. It is possible they did not observe the 
fact that Bryan's silver speeches in Nevada were not 
heard outside of the battle-born State, or that there was 
no party in any other State favoring the remonetization 
of silver. 

They should, however, have known that Mr. Bryan 
could not remonetize silver with Nevada alone. They 
must have realized in the campaign of 1904, when they 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 319 

supported only gold-standard candidates for the Presi- 
dency, that their effort to remonetize silver through the 
silver party of Nevada in 1902 without the aid of other 
States was a mistake. 

I have no apprehension that they will criticise me for 
doing what they have done themselves, or for finding 
out that the output had buried the silver question before 
they did. 

I am deeply attached to Nevada. It has been my 
home for more than forty-six years at the time of this 
writing, and I am deeply grateful to the people for their 
many acts of kindness. While I live I shall do all I 
can to promote the interests of my State, but shall never 
accept reelection to the Senate of the United States or 
othejr important office. 

^fter the silver question was eliminated from politics, 
havmg been a Republican from the organization of that 
part)', I returned to my natural allegiance, and entered 
upon the campaign with the Republican party in 1906^ 

My Republican associates in the Senate understooa 
that I severed my relations with the Republican party 
on the silver question, an4 that my position on that 
question was unchanged. O'hey restored to me positions 
on committees which wer^ reserved for the dominant 
party. Among other things, they made me chairman of 
the Committee on Indian Affairs, one of the leading 
corpmittees of the Senate.^ 

'^^^hile I believe that OTganization is necessary, and 
that there should be several political parties in the gov- 4 
emment of the country, I have never allowed the party 
lash to force me to violate my conscience, in or out of 


Cleveland's bond speculations and Venezuela deal — His repudia- 
tion by the Democratic Convention of 1896 — The nomination 
of Bryan on a free-coinage platform — His brilliant campaign 
and defeat by lavish use of money by the gold trust — Bryan's 
mistake in advocating silver money after the enormous out- 
put of gold made money plenty. 

XJrover Cleveland's second administration was an 
object-lesson. It was probably the worst administration 
that ever occurred in this or any other civilized country,. 
A few more examples of the unparalleled audacity and 
greed of Cleveland and his cohorts will be sufficient to 
satisfy thinking men that Qkveland was the boldest man 
the country ever produced.^ 

The United States four per cent, bonds, commonly 
called four-thirties, because they drew four per cent, 
interest and had thirty years to run, had not sold in the 
market for twenty years for less than one per cent, 
premium for every year they had to run. The four- 
thirties then outstanding, having about thirteen years to 
run, were selling at from 14 to 15 per cent, premium. 

Without giving the people a chance to purchase 
bonds, he sold to private parties sixty-two millions of 
four-thirty bonds at 4>4 per cent, premium, which if 
they had been sold at the market value would have 
brought thirty per cent, premium. He attempted to sell 
another one hundred million at the same rate, but 
financiers resented the favoritism to the parties having 
purchased the sixty-two millions, and the matter was 
compromised among them by a pretense of a sale to the 
public. It was only a pretense, however. The combina- 
tion syndicate secured nearly all of the one hundred 
million bonds at an average of eleven per cent, premium. 

It required several months to arrange matters before 
the one hundred and sixty-two millions could be put upon 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 321 

the market. When this was done, however, the bonds 
sold from 29 to 30 per cent, premium; and to-day, 
notwithstanding more than one-third of the time before 
their maturity has run, they are selling for over 30 per 
cent, premium. 

Making all liberal allowances for commissions and 
expenses of every kind, somebody made thirty millions 
at least by Cleveland's bold and unscrupulous stock- 

It may be asked why Mr. Cleveland was permitted to 
do this. The answer is easy, and is furnished by a 
question or two. How did Rockefeller acquire a thou- 
sand millions of money? How has J. Pierpont Morgan 
obtained what millions of the toiling masses produced ? 
How has the money of the life insurance companies been 
used to build up colossal fortunes? 

The Venezuela job was the grandest scheme on 
record. Before it was consummated I received reliable 
information that our Minister to England, Mr. Bayard, 
would convey a belligerent message from Mr. Cleveland 
to Lord Salisbury, and that if he could obtain permission 
from the Prime Minister of England to send that 
message oflGicially, and not give offense, he would inau- 
gurate a diplomatic war for the purpose of diverting 
the attention of the people from the silver question. 

At that time I was editing a paper called The Silver 
Knight, published in Washington. I prepared an 
"interview" of what seemed to me would take place on 
the presentation of Mr. Cleveland's private message to 
Lord Salisbury by Minister Bayard. I had the parties 
participating in that interview caricatured; all of which 
I published in The Silver Knight of November 7, 1895. 

On the 17th of December Cleveland inaugurated the 
diplomatic war. He sent a message to Congress, pro- 
posing to fix the boundary between Venezuela and 
British Guiana, without consulting either Venezuela or 
Great Britain, and to compel the British Empire to 

322 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

accept the same, either with or without war with the 
United States. No more threatening document was 
ever issued by the United States against any country, 
weak or strong. The concluding paragraphs of this 
special message to Congress read as follows:* 

Assuming, however, that the attitude of Venezuela will re- 
main unchanged, the dispute has reached such a stage as to make it 
now incumbent upon the United States to take measures to 
determine with sufficient certainty for its justification what is the 
true divisional line between the Republic of Venezuela and British 
Guiana. The inquiry to that end should of course be conducted 
carefully and judicially, and due weight should be given to all 
available evidence, records, and facts in support of the claims of 
both parties. 

In order that such an examination should be prosecuted in a 
thorough and satisfactory manner, I suggest that the Congress make 
an adequate appropriation for the expenses of a commission, to be 
appointed by the Executive, who will make the necessary investiga- 
tion and report upon the matter with the least possible delay. 
When such report is made and accepted, it will, in my opinion, be 
the duty of the United States to resist by every means in its power, 
as a willful aggression upon its rights and interests, the appro- 
priation by Great Britain of any lands or the exercise of govern- 
mental jurisdiction over any territory which after investigation 
we have determined of right belongs to Venezuela. 

In making these recommendations I am fully alive to the 
responsibility incurred and keenly realize all the consequences that 
may follow. 

I am, nevertheless, firm in my conviction that while it is a 
grievous thing to contemplate the two great English speaking peo- 
ples of the world as being otherwise than friendly competitors in 
the onward march of civilization and strenuous and worthy rivals 
in all the arts of peace, there is no calamity which a great nation 
can invite which equals that which follows a supine submission 
to wrong and injustice and the consequent loss of national self- 
respect and honor, beneath which are shielded and defended a 
people's safety and greatness. 

The uninitiated supposed this message meant war, 
and panic followed. Stocks dropped ten to twenty per 

♦Messages and Papers of Presidents, 1789- 1897, Vol. 9, 
pp. 655-658. 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 323 

cent, on both sides of the Atlantic. The British Lion 
did not even growl. Henry Clews reported that five 
hundred millions changed hands. 

Cleveland gave his friends three days to fill their 
shorts, which they did, while the people at large were 
greatly agitated over the war cloud which the message 
had brought over the country. On the 20th of Decem- 
ber, 1895, ^^ sent another special message to Congress 
in which he assured the bond-holding syndicates of 
London and New York and gold contractionists every- 
where that the Administration was doing, and would do, 
everything in its power to pay all indebtedness in gold, 
and asking Congress to cooperate.* This was all the 
apology Great Britain required for the warlike message 
of three days previous. Lord Salisbury's administration 
was fully satisfied with both the insult and the apology, 
and no word of complaint came from the other side of 
the Atlantic. 

This friendly message to bondholders closed the 
incident. The knowing ones became rich, and the 
uninitiated lost hundreds of millions of dollars. 

The masses of the Democratic party broke loose in 
1896 from the control of the Cleveland bondholders, 
and met in convention at Chicago and denounced the 
bond-dealing administration of Grover Cleveland in 
their platform in the following language: 

We are opposed to the policy and practice of surrendering 
to the holders of the obligations of the United States the option 
reserved by law to the Government of redeeming such obligations 
in either silver or gold coin. 

We are opposed to the issuing of interest-bearing bonds of the 
United States in time of peace, and condemn the trafficking with 
banking syndicates which, in exchange for bonds and at an enor- 
mous profit to themselves, supply the Federal Treasury with gold 
to maintain the policy of gold monometalism. 

The Democrats nominated William J. Bryan on a 

♦Special Messages and Papers of Presidents, 1789- 1897, Vol. 9, 
p. 659. 

324 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

free-coinage platform, but unfortunately loaded it down 
with an attack on the judiciary and other outside matters 
which embarrassed the canvass. 

Bryan made a campaign of energy and oratory with- 
out a parallel in American politics. The manipulators 
of finance on both sides of the Atlantic, who had 
impoverished the nations by falling prices and doubled 
the obligations of bonds and contracts for the payment 
of money, became alarmed before the middle of Septem- 
ber. They poured out their money like water, and 
counted and returned in the pivotal States thousands, 
if not hundreds of thousands, of votes beyond the 
number of voters then existing; and although Mr. Bryan 
was probably elected, the returns were in favor of Mr. 

McKinley did all in his power to make matters go as 
smoothly as possible, and Providence or chance favored 
his efforts to have a popular administration. War is 
always popular, and the Spanish War was no exception 
to the rule; but if the money volume had continued to 
shrink and prices had continued to fall, the money 
powers would have been overthrown in 1900. 

Fortunately for McKinley and the people at large, 
the output of gold increased in a phenomenal manner. 
Over one thousand millions of new gold was produced 
between 1896 and 1900. This new gold was added 
to the volume of money in circulation, and caused rising 
prices, because all the money in circulation and all the 
property for sale are reciprocally the supply and demand 
of each other, and the increase of money produced rising 
prices, as it always does. 

From 1896 to 1900 the rise in prices occasioned by 
the new gold stimulated industry and created good times.. 
Then came the fatal mistake of William J. Bryan. 

He had hitherto floated on the tide of popularity. 
He was a magnetic orator, and his theme of hard times 
found willing ears as long as prices were falling and 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 325 

times were going from bad to worse. In 1900 he was 
unwilling to accept the situation and claim, as he right- 
fully might, that his argunjent had been vindicated, that 
want of money was the cause of universal distress and 
more money was the remedy. When the remedy came 
from the output of gold he should have claimed a vindi- 
cation of his theory. One of two things must be said 
of him — he either did not understand the money ques- 
tion or he was willing to deceive the people. 

If he had understood the money question he would 
have known that more gold was just as good as more 
silver, and that it was neither more gold nor more silver 
that was wanted, but more money. When that need was 
supplied it was idle to call upon the country to supply 
a want where none existed. 

It is impossible to estimate the wrong and misery 
inflicted upon the western world by the exclusion of 
silver from the mints. At the time of the passage, or 
rather the smuggling through, of the Mint Act of 1873, 
the output of both silver and gold was not adequate to 
the supply of the legitimate demand for money metal. 
The cutting off of one-half of the supply produced want 
and misery throughout the civilized world. This could 
not have been done if the people had not been ignorant 
of the money question. 

The manipulators of finance, or, more properly, finan- 
cial robbers, have been able to keep the people in 
ignorance of the question of finance. The fact that 
money is a function created by law which is made 
manifest by the stamp of the Government, and that any 
material upon which the edict of the Government may 
be stamped commanding creditors to receive it in pay- 
ment of debts is money, is kept a secret by the designing 

Anything bearing the stamp of the Government 
making it legal tender is the best money that can be 
created. The value of each unit of money, of course, 

326 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

must depend upon the volume of money in circulation 
compared with property for sale. The idea of regulat- 
ing that volume by the accident of mining, whether it 
be gold or silver, or both, is no more intelligent than 
the practice of putting a stone in one end of the bag to 
balance the com carried to the mill. 

The idea that any one commodity, or any number of 
commodities, will always bear the same relation numeri- 
cally to all other commodities, is too absurd for 
reflection. But inasmuch as money can be stamped on 
gold, if you can get enough of it it will answer all the 
purposes of commerce equally as well as if it were 
stamped on paper — and no better. 

A moment's reflection will convince any one that gold 
has depreciated fully 50 per cent, in the last ten years; 
or, what is the same, that prices in general have risen 
fully 50 per cent, in the last decade. 

We hear on every hand that everything is growing 
dearer, and our daily experience verifies the enormous 
rise in the value of property compared to what it was 
ten years ago. If Mr. Bryan had understood these 
simple principles of finance and accepted the situation 
which presented itself in 1900, he would not have led 
his party to defeat and deprived himself of a brilliant 
reputation which he acquired in his campaign of 1896. 

Before the inauguration of McKinley, after the cam- 
paign of 1896, I published a little book entitled 
"Analysis of the Functions of Money," which states 
the money question as I understand it after some years 
of study and investigation. 

It gives me great satisfaction to be able to name one 
of the most conspicuous exceptions to the dreary 
diatribes in Congress on the money question, viz.: the 
speeches and writings of my honored colleague, John P. 
Jones, which will survive for the instruction of future 

It is not my purpose to speak ill of former colleagues 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 327 

who are now dead, but John Sherman has left the most 
enduring monumental record of fraud and deception in 
manipulating the currency to enrich the few and impov- 
erish the many which can be found. 

The Record, when examined, will show that I gave 
him every opportunity to explain the deception he 
practiced in the Senate, which he could not do, although 
he made a desperate effort to defend himself against the 
charges I made.* 

I submit to the candid judgment of my readers if any 
self-righteousness or egotism could be more colossal than 
the claim of the manipulators of London and New 
York, that they were the purest and best, and that any- 
body who complained of the villainous schemes of 
robbery and oppression was dishonest. Does anybody 
suppose the Morgans and Rockefellers, and their asso- 
ciates, in concentrating the wealth of the nation in the 
hands of the few, are any worse to-day than the 
conspirators who concocted the demonetization of silver 
and doubled the obligation of thirty thousand millions 
of bonded indebtedness ? 

If the people of the United States succeed in uncov- 
ering their methods and preventing the destruction of 
the Republic by impoverishing the masses and concen- 
trating the wealth of the nation in the hands of the few, 
liberty may survive. No government has ever survived 
the accumulation of the wealth of the country in the 
hands of an unscrupulous few. 

The extravagant panegyrics upon the exploits of Alex- 
ander the Great are not warranted by the fact that the 
vast empires of the East which he invaded were rotten 
to the core. The people had no interest in their govern- 
ments, and hailed Alexander with his few soldiers as a 

/♦See March 8. 1888, Cong. Record, 50th Congress, ist Sess., 
F^ 2, pp. 1848-52; and June S, 1890, Cong. Record, 51st Cong., 
ist Sess., Part 6, pp. 5622-5641; and Sept. ^, 1893, Cong. Record, 
53rd Cong., 1st Sess., Part i, pp. I2ii-I236.\. 

328 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

deliverer, and not as an enemy. Those empires which 
were defenseless against an invader could send armies 

Rome furnishes another example of what frenzied 
finance could do. When the naked barbarians swarmed 
down upon the Roman Empire they had no fighting to 
do. Financial robbers had done their work. The 
people sought refuge from their oppression in the arms 
of the wild men of the North. Hundreds of examples 
of this kind might be given, but enough has been said 
to call attention to what may happen to the United 

If the colossal fortunes already acquired continue to 
accumulate, the time is not far distant when the people 
at large will have no love for a government in which 
they have no interest. If action be taken in time the 
people of this country will not flock to a foreign or 
barbarous standard for deliverance from bondage at 

The panic-breeding National Bank system is a twin 
sister of the regulation of commerce by private corpora- 
tions. I have insisted, since its organization, in and out 
of Congress, that it ought to be abolished. Under it 
banks are allowed to borrow money from the United 
States without interest. The deposit of United States 
bonds in the Treasury is a sham. The banks draw 
interest on their bonds while they are in the Treasury; 
consequently, it costs the banks nothing to get money 
from the Government. The country banks are allowed 
to loan all or nearly all of their depositors' money to 
the great banks of New York and draw interest thereon. 
The New York banks loan the money so obtained from 
the country banks, and derive great profit therefrom. 
The multi-millionaires control the stock of the great 
banks of New York and use the funds of those banks to 
carry on their speculations. 

When the stocks in which Rockefeller and his kind 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 329 

are interested are boomed far in excess of their value, 
mainly on margins, the great banks which the trusts 
control refuse to loan money. The investors in stocks 
and bonds are unable to make their margins good, and 
a panic ensues and the great manipulators who caused it 
collect up, at their own price, the stocks and bonds 
which are practically thrown away. Confidence is then 
restored by resumption of loans by the great banks 
which, in the mean time, have held their money and 
issued certificates in violation of the statutes of the 
United States. 

Why should the Government loan money to anybody 
without interest? Why should not all persons have a 
right to get money from the Government on equal 
terms? The Government alone is authorized by the 
Constitution to coin or stamp money, which is the same 
thing, and regulate the value thereof. The law of 
supply and demand regulates the value of money as it 
does of all other things. 

The only way the Government can regulate the value 
of money is to regulate the supply. The Government 
can regulate the supply by furnishing money to all per- 
sons on equal terms. Pass a law whereby all the people, 
including bankers, who have bonds of the United States 
may sell them to the Government at par for currency, 
and all persons having currency may also have the privi- 
lege of buying bonds at par. The banks would not then 
have a monopoly of the currency by getting money from 
the Government without interest. If they were com- 
pelled to pay for money with bonds, the same as all 
other persons and corporations, they would not be a 
favored class and the business of the country would not 
be controlled by them. 

The ease with which panics can be created is shown 
by Cleveland's panic of 1893 and Rockefeller's panic 
of 1907. The bondholders' fraternity, who either 
owned or controlled Mr. Cleveland, induced him to send 

330 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

his Secretary of the Treasury to New York and suggest 
that the great banks squeeze a little and tighten the 
currency. When hard times began Cleveland issued a 
proclamation declaring that the silver coin in circulation, 
amounting to about five hundred millions, was not good 
money, and that it was necessary to repeal the law then 
existing, authorizing the purchase and coinage of 
silver. A panic was created by the squeeze and the 
proclamation, and millions of enterprising citizens were 
ruined. We know now that Mr. Cleveland did not 
tell the truth when he said legal-tender silver dollars 
were not good money, because they have been circulating 
ever since on a par with gold, without question. 

In 1904 President Roosevelt began an investiga- 
tion of the various devices of the railroads and trusts 
to rob the people by means of rate discriminations. 
Among others, he dared to investigate the doings of the 
great and cunning financier, J. D. Rockefeller, and 
the Standard Oil Trust, which had been created by 
Rockefeller and his associates. Mr. Rockefeller told 
the country that if the President did not stop his investi- 
gations there would be a financial panic. 

The President continued to investigate and prosecute 
the violators of the law ; the squeeze began, and finally 
terminated in a most disastrous panic. All persons in 
the United States controlling or being controlled by the 
trusts and monopolists, who are subverting the 
Government of the Fathers into an oligarchy of 
multi-millionaires, turned against the President and 
his policy. 

In November, 1907, at the time of this writing, every 
person the oligarchy can command is assailing the Presi- 
dent and charging him with the prevailing panic. The 
great mass of the people who own themselves and 
control their own actions are in favor of the policy of 
Theodore Roosevelt and are grateful to him for raising 
the curtain in time to enable them to see the dangers 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 331 

which threaten the Republic, and to avoid the final col- 
lapse which inevitably follows the concentration of 


The Pacific Railroad — Jefferson Davis's survey — Collis P. Hunting- 
ton — Crossing the Rockies — Rivalrv of the companies— Credit 
Mobilier scandal — Investigation by Congress — beginning of 
railroad rate discrimination against die people. 

It was the early dream of both the East and West 
to find a suitable route upon which to construct a railroad 
across the United States from the Atlantic to the Pacific. 
Jefferson Davis, while Secretary of War, had four routes 
surveyed across the continent by the engineers of the 
Army. The work was very thoroughly performed, and 
a complete description was given as to topography, tem- 
perature, and the natural resources along the four 
routes. These surveys were published by the Govern- 
ment in twelve large volumes, which I have in my 
library, and I have often perused them with much inter- 
est and profit. 

It was deemed necessary by the War Department to 
purchase an additional section of land from Mexico, 
which was known as the Gadsden Purchase, to secure 
the right to construct a railroad on the 3 2d parallel. 

It was contended by the engineers that it was imprac- 
ticable to construct a railroad on either of the routes 
which are now known as the Santa Fe, the Central, and 
Northern routes. The people of the Pacific Coast were 
much gratified at the Gadsden Purchase, because they 
believed that ultimately a railroad would be constructed 
on that line. 

From 1850 to i860 the growing antagonism between 
the North and South on account of the institution of 
slavery was a great discouragement to the people of the 
Pacific Coast. They feared that the trans-continental 
railroad would never be constructed. After the war 
began there was a desire on the part of the Government 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 333 

at Washington, as well as on the Pacific Coast, to 
connect the two sections by a railroad for military as 
well as commercial purposes. It was feared the Pacific 
Coast could not be held with the Atlantic States unless 
a military road joined them with bands of iron. 

Five gentlemen, C. P. Huntington, Mark Hopkins, 
Leland Stanford, Judge Crocker, and his big brother 
Charles Crocker, residing in Sacramento, California, all 
Union men, conceived the project of a railroad over the 
Central route. 

The press of San Francisco ridiculed the idea, but 
the Sacramento projectors of the enterprise never 
wavered. They went to Washington in 1862, and 
joined a party of business men from Boston, with Repre- 
sentative Oakes Ames of Massachusetts as their leader. 
Mr. Ames was a hardware merchant who had supplied 
California, from the earliest development of the mines, 
with picks and shovels, and his name was a household 
word in every Western mining camp. Congress passed 
a law for the organization of the Union Pacific 
Railroad Company, and invited men from all the 
Northern and Eastern States to take stock in the 

The gentlemen from Sacramento, before going to 
Washington, organized themselves into a corporation 
called the Central Pacific Railroad Company. The 
Union Pacific Company, authorized by Congress, was 
given rights as far west as the California line, and the 
Central Pacific was authorized to construct a line from 
tide-water to meet the Union Pacific. 

Aid in money and land was granted by the Govern- 
ment to both companies, but the embarrassed finances 
of the country in consequence of the war made it 
impossible for either company to comply with the 
conditions of the grant. The Central,, having 
obtained some aid in California, constructed a few 
miles of railroad from Sacramento east, and selected 

334 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

what was then known as the Dutch Flat route as the 
line of their road. 

Two years later, in 1864, Congress allowed both of 
the railroads to issue a first-mortgage bond equal in 
amount to the subsidy of the United States; and the lien 
of the United States for the money advanced, about 
$60,000,000, for the two roads, was made subsequent, 
by the Act of 1864, to the bonded lien which the Com- 
pany was authorized to put upon the road as fast as it 
was constructed. When the work was actually 
commenced at both ends, Congress became anxious to 
expedite the construction, and passed a law allowing 
each company to build all the railroad it could until 
the tracks met. After this resolution the wprk went on 
with remarkable energy. 

The Central Pacific Company organized among them- 
selves a construction company in which all equally 
participated. The Union Pacific Company made a 
contract with an outside corporation, known as the 
Credit Mobilier. 

The five hundred miles of the Union Pacific road 
from Omaha to Cheyenne were over a level plain and 
through a good agricultural country. The lands granted 
by the Government, and the bonds, much more than 
built the road. The Credit Mobilier Company made 
large dividends on its stock during the building of 
the road. As the roads approached each other a 
most exciting contest arose as to where the junction 
should be. 

The law which allowed each company to build all the 
road it could construct provided that each should con- 
struct a continuous line. The Union Pacific Company, 
when it reached the Wasatch Mountains, did not wait 
for the completion of a tunnel, which was afterward 
constructed, but zigzagged its railroad over the moun- 

The Central Pacific Company tunneled through the 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 335 

Sierra Nevada Mountains and built a continuous line 
so far as it went. The Union Pacific commenced con- 
struction at many points west of Ogden and as far as 
Elko, Nevada. The Central Pacific rushed its work, 
with the result that the lines of grade paralleled each 
other for more than two hundred miles. 

>Qhe Union Pacific sought legislation to fix the point x 
of meeting, and framed a bill to suit themselves, and ^^/ 
passed it through the House of Representatives, where 
they had an overwhelming majority, ^he bill came 
up for consideration in the Senate in the winter of 1869. 
It was contended on the part of the Union Pacific that 
they were fully justified in extending their line as far 
as Elko, Nevada. 

On the other hand, the Central Pacific contended that 
the Union Pacific was not entitled to come west of the 
Wasatch Mountains, because they had not complied 
with the conditions required to build a continuous line, 
but had built a temporary track over the mountains. 

The Union Pacific had friends in all the Atlantic 
States, who not only gave them an overwhelming 
majority in the House, but ^o a majority that could 
not be overcome in the Senate.^ 

I heard of a lawsuit which was instituted in Philadel- 
phia, by one of the Union Pacific stockholders against 
the Credit Mobilier Company and the Directors of the 
Union Pacific Company, for an accounting, in which it 
appeared that Oakes Ames, the president of the Union 
Pacific Company, had distributed a large number of 
shares of the Credit Mobilier Company among mem- 
bers of Congress. These shares became very valuable 
because they paid large dividends. I asked Mr. Hunt- 
ington to obtain the record of that suit and all the 
testimony, and he did so. 

I stated to the Senate the reasons why the Central 
ought to be allowed to proceed to a suitable stopping- 
place for both companies. I said that the people of 

336 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

the West desired to reach the Salt Lake settlements of 
Utah, and the Central Pacific, having built a continuous 
line, were entitled to go there, if not farther. It was 
claimed on the part of the Union Pacific people that they 
needed something over six millions more to complete 
their line. 

I exhibited the contracts between the. Union Pacific 
directors and the Credit Mobilier Company, and con- 
tended it was the duty of the Government to investigate 
the affairs of the Union Pacific to prevent the subsidy 
granted by the Government being wasted through the 
instrumentality of the Mobilier Company, so that the 
Union Pacific Company might not be bankrupt or ren- 
dered incapable of redeeming the Government lien. 
After I had laid the foundation for my argument, I 
had read in the Senate the charter of the Credit Mobilier 
Company, and stated that I had the entire record of the 
litigation in Philadelphia to exhibit. After the reading 
orjthe charter the Senate adjourned. 
\The companies met that night and agreed upon 
Ogclen as a place of meeting. The Union Pacific did 
not want^he record of the Philadelphia case read in 
the SenateNA delegation from the two companies came 
to my room that evening and asked me if, in case of a 
settlement, I would eliminate from my speech in the 
Record the charter of the Credit Mobilier Company 
and my proposal to offer the record of the Philadelphia 
case. I agreed, for the sake of harmony. 

In the next Presidential campaign the record which I 
had withheld was published, and the investigation of 
the Credit Mobilier Company followed in the next 
session of Congress. It was reported to me by Mr. 
Huntington that during the settlement between the two 
companies all matters were amicably adjusted except 
one, and that Oakes Ames had said he would forgive 
everybody except me. 

At the next meeting of Congress, after the matter 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 337 

of the Credit Mobilier was exposed, and before the 
investigation had proceeded to any extent, some member 
of the Senate made some very disparaging remarks 
about Oakes Ames, who, unknown to myself, was sitting 
behind me in the Senate. ^ 

The remarks were so unjust, f<^^ Oakes Ames had 
played such an important part in the construction of the 
Pacific Railroad, and had expended his great fortune 
in the enterprise, that I felt called upon to d^end him. 
I did so, doing him nothing but simple justice^ 

I turned around a few minutes later to pa^ into the 
cloakroom, and saw Mr. Ames, with eyes wet with 
tears. He arose, extended his hand, and said : 

**I told Mr. Huntington to tell you I never would 
forgive you. I want to take that back, and want to be 
your friend." 

Afterward, during the whole of the investigation, I 
frequently talked to him about the conduct of different 
parties involved in the scandal. He did not appear to 
have much concern for himself or to realize that- he 
had committed any wrong, ^ie said that when the 
legislation, which made it possible to construct the 
Pacific Railroad, had passed both Houses of Congress, 
he did not anticipate that he should have occasion to call 
upon Congress for any further legislation, and he 
thought those who had been active in securing the legis- 
lation ought tp have some token of recognition for 
their services. \He did not know, he said, at the time he 
gave them the stock, that it would be so valuable^ He 
said he was very sorry he did it, and intended no wrong. 

What grieved him most was that a number of his 
old friends appealed to him to lie in their behalf. He 
brought me a letter one day from a Senator to whom he 
had given some of the stock, requesting him to make 
an affidavit that the charges were not true. Ames said 
he would not perjure himself. I told him he was right. 

I do not feel disposed to discuss or criticise persons 


338 Reminiscences of William M. Ste¥fart 

who were involved in the Credit Mobilier investigation, 
^diut Oakes Ames, notwithstanding the errors he unwit- 
tingly committed, deserves well of the American people, 
and his name should be cherished by all as a brave, 
energetic, enterprising man^s 

The unjust and violent criticism of the press and of 
ambitious partisans will be deplored in view of the 
accomplishment of the great work under embarrassing 
and adverse circumstances, and particularly in view of 
the fact that the Government has received back all the 
subsidy granted, dollar for dollar, with interest at six 
per cent, per annum, while the Government at the same 
time was borrowing money for less than four per cent, 
per annum, making a net gain in interest of from two 
to three per cent. 

The five gentlemen from Sacramento who conceived 
the idea of constructing a Pacific Railroad over the 
Central route, which had been condemned by the War 
Department as impracticable, and pushed the work with 
heroic faith, will be remembered in after years with 
gratitude and admiration. When their great success 
ceases to excite jealousy, and the work they did is viewed 
from an impartial standpoint, their merits will be 

\C. P. Huntington was the greatest railroad builder 
the United States has ever produced. He provided the 
sinews of war from the beginning. His financial honor 
and unswerving integrity soon secured for him the con- 
fidence of the financial world. He did not adopt the 
plan by which many of the great railroad magnates 
have made themselves millionaires. 

He never wrecked a road, nor made a dollar from the 
destruction of other men's fortunes^ He bought many 
run-down railroads, reconstructed tnem, and made them 
paying institutions. By this means he acquired millions 
and benefited the people. The construction of a railroad 
from Ogden to San Francisco, and from San Francisco 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 339 

to Portland, Oregon; and another from San Francisco 
to New Orleans, with numerous branches to each, was 
a marvelous undertaking. A man who could devise 
such a gigantic enterprise will be remembered in history. 

Huntington was a benevolent man ; his charities were 
numerous, liberal, and judicious, and he intended that 
they should be private. He was never a candidate for 
laudation, and never attempted to purchase fame by 
spending money on the housetop. 

It is true that the people have been unjustly discrim- 
inated against by the Pacific Railroad, but I know of 
my own knowledge that the managers of the railroad 
were not so much at fault in this matter as the mer- 
chants of San Francisco. 

In 1849 the Board of Trade of San Francisco devised 
many schemes to acquire quick wealth at the expense of 
the miners in the interior. All the supplies which Cali- 
fornia consumed for several years after the discovery 
of gold on the American River came through the Golden 
Gate. The price of food, wearing apparel, tools, and 
machinery which the miners were compelled to have 
was not regulated by the law of supply and demand, 
but by arbitrary edicts issued by the Board of Trade. 
However abundant food was in San Francisco, the price 
at which it could be obtained was generally exorbitant. 

When the Pacific Railroad was nearing completion the 
Board of Trade of San Francisco notified the managers 
that they must establish a freight schedule which would 
give them the trade they had previously enjoyed in 
supplying the interior. In other words, upon goods 
delivered at any point east of Sacramento there should 
be added to the freight rate to San Francisco the local 
rate from San Francisco to the point of delivery. 

The railroad company hesitated, and the San Fran- 
cisco merchants, to compel compliance, aided in the 
establishment of a clipper ship line around the Horn, 
and took measures to obtain freight by the Panama 

340 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

route. In this way they forced the railroad company to 
submit to their demands. The system has been kept 
up since the construction of the Pacific Raih-oad, and 
is still in force so far as Nevada is concerned. 

Southern California was partially rescued from San 
Francisco railroad monopoly by the construction of the 
Santa Fe Railroad. Oregon, Washington, and Idaho 
were liberated by the Oregon Short Line, the North- 
ern Pacific, and the Great Northern. 

Whatever may have been, and whatever now may 
be, the reason for the discrimination against Nevada in 
freights and fares of the Central Pacific, it is evident 
to every intelligent man who has investigated the ques- 
tion that the railroad has been the loser. If the same 
encouragement had been extended to Nevada in the 
way of freights and fares as Colorado has enjoyed 
from the beginning, Nevada would have been for the 
last forty years a growing and prosperous State, with 
abundant business and a network of railroads. There 
is no doubt in my mind that if the Sierra Nevada Moun- 
tains had been sufficiently high to be impassable, Nevada 
would now have a population equal to that of Colorado. 

The Comstock did much to build up the city of San 
Francisco, but nothing is left in Nevada to bear testi- 
mony to the millions furnished by the great mine. The 
Virginia & Truckee Railroad, owned in San Francisco 
and New York, was built by assessments on the mines, 
and aid furnished by local county governments. Since 
its construction it has made millions for those who 
ordered the people to build it. 

While Nevadians welcome Californians who can 
overcome the teachings of a generation, and without 
regard to prejudice or preconceived opinions cross the 
Sierra Nevada to dwell, they are glad to inform them 
that they can get along without them. The men of 
Pennsylvania, Colorado, Utah, Montana, Idaho, and 
other States make up a population good enough for 

Reminbcences of William M. Stewart 341 

Nevada. Their presence in the State has revived enter- 
prise and discovered vast mineral resources which 
will soon place Nevada in the lead of mineral-produc- 
ing States. The agricultural resources of the State, 
developed by Government aid and private enterprise, 
will attract a large and thriving population to supply 
the markets which the developments of the mineral 
resources of the State will furnish. 

The scheming Board of Trade of San Francisco, 
aided by the railroads it controls, must in the near 
future lose its grasp on the State of Nevada. Goods 
will be landed in any part of the State, as they now are 
in Colorado, Utah, or any other State, without the 
unjust discrimination which has paralyzed Nevada for 
a generation. 


Conflict between the railroads and the Government — How the trusts 
rob the people — An argument for government ownership a 
gloomy view of the economic situation — Praise for Theodore 

It must not be inferred that I indorse the present 
railroad system of the United StatesvWhile I commend 
the foresight, energy, and courage oP^uch builders as 
C. P. Huntington and his associates, I realize that the 
railroads are subverting the Government and destroying 
the freedom and independence of the peopl^ 

Railroads have superseded public highways, and have 
been granted franchises under which they exact all the 
profits the traffic will bear; and they assume authority 
to decide what they shall take, and what they shall 
leave to the people. While it does not extend to all 
the property of the people, it extends to all persons and 
property transported on railroads, and as to such prop- 
erty, the power claimed and exercised by railroad cor- 
porations is co-extensive with the power of taxation 
possessed by any independent government. 

>rhe fixing of fares and freights by railroad cor- 
porations is the power of sovereignty without consti- 

ne DO 

tutional limitation^ It is so emphatically the sovereign 
power of taxation which the railroad corporations have 
exercised in this country, and claim the right to exer- 
cise, as long as they own and control railroads, that I 
shall treat the regulation of fares and freights as taxa- 
tion, not by the sovereign, but by usurpation of sovereign 

The railroads also exercise the power to transfer the 
earnings of the people, not only to railroad corpora- 
tions, but to favored companies and individuals. 

Andrew Carnegie, the father of the Steel Trust, is 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 343 

a most conspicuous example of how to get rich quick 
by railroad discrimination. He is now engaged in 
spending a small part of the proceeds of the hundreds 
of millions of watered stock which fell to his share 
when he organized the Steel Trust and doubled the 
price on all commodities manufactured from iron ore. 
The libraries he is establishing, to create and perpetuate 
his renown as a benefactor, are accessible to the rich, 
which he may regard as sufficient compensation to the 
taxpayers for the perpetual burdens his libraries invari- 
ably entail upon them. He was also one of the con- 
spirators who demonetized silver to enhance the value 
of gold. 

In 1 89 1, when the distress from the demonetization 
of silver was most acute, and before the new output 
of gold had relieved the money famine, he published in 
the North American Review an arrogant and self- 
lauding article, mocking the toiling masses by telling 
them it was their duty to buy more gold — when they 
were straining every nerve to obtain money to save 
themselves from bankruptcy. I took occasion to reply 
to his publication in language which I deemed appropri- 
ate of his self-serving and egotistical production. 

It was the partiality of the railroads to the Standard 
Oil Company that made it possible for Rockefeller to 
accumulate a thousand millions of money in addition 
to the colossal fortune of all connected with that favored 

It was discrimination of the railroads in favor of the 
Packers' Trust at Chicago, Omaha, and Kansas City 
which enabled that gigantic institution to destroy the 
business of every independent butcher in the United 
States, and confine the killing of animals to the locali- 
ties appointed by the trust, thereby not only giving the 
trust the monopoly over the markets of the United States, 
but giving it complete control of the price of cattle, 
sheep, hogs, and poultry throughout the entire country. 

344 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

The millions taken from the people and concentrated 
in the enormous trusts are not the greatest evil inflicted 
upon the American people. The storage of beef, mut- 
ton, pork, and poultry in localities selected by the trust, 
to be distributed throughout the whole country as 
occasion may require, is destroying the vitality of the 
people of the United States. Ptomaine poison is under- 
mining the health of all the people. 

The effect upon the health of the people is well 
illustrated by the fact that during the Civil War the 
stomachs of the young men, North and South, were 
rarely defective; but during the Spanish War it was 
difficult to find a recruit with a sound and healthy 
digestive apparatus. 

Nearly every trust afflicting the United States has 
been created by the manipulations of the railroad man- 
agers. If under the present system of railroads there 
is no limit of power of managers of corporations in 
exercising taxation, or in building up or tearing down 
the enterprises of the people, there must be a change or 
the Government will be destroyed. 

The power of taxation is essential to all independent 
governments, without which no government can exist; 
but if the railroads can exact all the contributions that 
the business of the country will bear — as they claim 
the right to do — the time is not far distant when the 
country will be ruined and an oligarchy of railroad 
magnates will supplant the Government established by 
thp' Fathers. 

\I thank President Roosevelt for bringing the ques- 
tion before the people for discussion, in his recom- 
mendation of railroad regulation. He is entitled to 
the gratitude of the country for his exposure of the 
Beef Trust, Standard Oil Trust, Steel Trust, and other 
trusts and combinations, alJof which are the creation 
of railroad discriminations^ 

The interstate commerce laws are the entering wedge 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 345 

for the exercise by Congress of the power to regulate 
commerce wifh foreign countries and among the sev- 
eral States, xhe regulation of commerce cannot be left 
to private corporationsX The wisdom of the constitu- 
tion in conferring the power to regulate commerce upon 
Congress is fully vindicated by the unbusiness-like, if 
not dishonest, regulation of commerce by railroad cor- 
porations. Whether it is possible for Congress to 
regulate commerce on private railroads while those 
roads are managed by private corporations is an unset- 
tled question, but if it cannot be done by the joint action 
of the Government and private corporations the United 
States must own the railroads. The question must be 
settled. The agitation will not stop until Congress 
regulates commerce without interference from any 
source. In view of the inevitable depreciation of rail- 
road property and railroad securities during the long 
contest which will be necessary to secure the regulation 
of commerce over private railroads, why would it not 
be good policy for the railroads without coercive 
measures to sell to the General Government and take 
in payment interest-bearing bonds of the United States? 
Why would not such an investment be profitable to the 
Government? This would accomplish a settlement of 
a question which may agitate the country for a 

It has been suggested that ownership and manage- 
ment of railroads would place enormous power in the 
hands of the General Government, and so concentrate 
authority as to create a monarchical government, which 
might be dangerous to liberty. 

^f the alternative is presented of ownership by the 
Government, or the despotism of an oligarchy of rail- 
road magnates, I prefer the former, because no govern- 
ment, however arbitrary, would undertake to transfer 
the earnings of the people to corporations, trusts, and 
favorite individuals, with such unparalleled rapidit^as 

346 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

the railroads have done in the last thirty years. Public 
sentiment is powerful with any government, while Irre- 
sponsible corporations are blind to the wrongs of the 
masses, and treat with contempt the reasonable com- 
plaints of the people. 

It may be that this Government can survive, notwith- 
standing the multi-millionaires already created by the 
railroads; but it cannot withstand the continuance of 
the process of transferring the earnings of the masses 
to an oligarchy of wealth without suflFering the fate of 
the nations which have preceded us, whose people were 
slaves, and millionaires their slave-masters. 
'^The conflict between the people and their financial 
oppressors cannot be postponed. One generation more 
of the rule of railroad monopoly will not only con- 
centrate the wealth of the nation in the hands of the 
few, but will impo^rish the people and weaken their 
power of resistance.^ 

It must be admitted that railroad corporations, and 
the trusts they have created, are more formidable 
antagonists of the people than any with which former 
generations were compelled to contend; but the people 
of the United States are better prepared to overcome 
the enemies of human rights than any people who have 
preceded them. 

The fact that the ancient empires of Asia, Africa, 
and Europe perished through the avarice and oppres- 
sion of the masses by the cunning and greedy few, does 
not prove that there is not a remedy for intolerable 

When the people of France were serfs, and all the 
property belonged to the church and the nobles, the 
vitality of the Gauls was sufficient to overthrow their 
oppressors and distribute the land among the natives 
of the soil. 

When the church and the nobles seemed to have 
England in their perpetual control, Anglo-Saxon vigor 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 347 

and manhood limited the monopoly of the soil by pass- 
ing laws to deprive corporations from acquiring or 
holding more land than was absolutely necessary for the 
purpose of their organization. 

The laws of mortmain, passed from time to time by 
the Parliament of Great Britain, show that the power 
of government in which the people had a voice checked 
the aggression of the monopoly. The success of the 
people of England, France, and many other countries 
of Europe in asserting their rights against oppression 
is most encouraging. How much more may not be pre- 
dicted for the people of the United States, who have 
established and maintained the freest and the most 
potent Government which ever existed in the history 
of the world! 

The only danger is delay. It will take but a few 
generations of the rule of railroads and trusts to pre- 
pare our Government for the fate of Egypt, Babylon, 
Greece, and Rome. 

If the wealth of the country becomes concentrated 
in the hands of a few, its redistribution among the peo- 
ple may not be as gradual as the methods employed by 
our ancestors in the mother country, and it is even 
possible that it may exceed the horrors of the French 
Revolution in quick retribution for intolerable wrongs. 
It is to be hoped that the investigation of the railroad 
oligarchy and its brood of infamous trusts will reveal 
to the people a remedy by peaceful means without the 
necessity of violence or bloodshed. 


Irrigation investigations in the arid regions — Marvels of the Mor- 
mons — Major Powell grows ambitious and is removed from 
office — A powerful friend in the White House — What Roosevelt 
has done for the development of the country. 

In traveling over the arid regions of the West dur- 
ing the twelve years from 1875 to 1887, during which 
time I was not in the Senate, I was strongly impressed 
with the vast extent of country west of the one hun- 
dredth meridian that required irrigation to produce 

Immediately upon reentering the Senate in 1887 I 
agitated the subject, and by speeches and articles in the 
magazines brought to the attention of the Senate the 
fact that two-thirds, if not three- fourths, of all the 
agriculture which had supported civilized and semi- 
civilized people had been pursued by means of arti- 
ficial irrigation. The conflict between man and the 
desert has been unceasing since the dawn of history. 
When Egypt was the granary of the world, much of 
the Sahara Desert was irrigated from the Nile, and 
the dams and aqueducts which once turned that mighty 
river consisted of masonry so perfect in material and 
construction as to defy modern imitation. The ruins 
of irrigation works, such as dams, reservoirs, and 
aqueducts, are everywhere visible in the ancient land of 
Palestine. The waters of the Euphrates were spread 
over hundreds of acres that fructified what is now a 
vast desert, while the ruins of Babylon and other ancient 
cities challenge the curiosity and admiration of the 
scientists of our own time. 

It was evident to me that the arid region of our 
country could only be made habitable by irrigation, and 
that the snow-capped region of the Rocky and Sierra 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 349 

Nevada Mountains furnished a more abundant supply 
of water for irrigation of the valleys than was found 
in the ancient empires once so densely populated. 

I offered a resolution in the Senate creating a Com- 
mittee on Irrigation, and, following a full discussion, 
the resolution passed, and soon after a like committee 
was organized in the House of Representatives. I then 
offered a resolution in the Senate authorizing the Com- 
mittee on Irrigation to travel over the arid region, 
investigate conditions, and report to the next ses- 
sion of Congress. I was made chairman of the Senate 

The two men on that committee who manifested the 
greatest interest and took the most active part were 
Senators John H. Reagan of Texas and James K. Jones 
of Arkansas. I invited Major Powell, Director of the 
Geological Survey, to accompany the committee. We 
visited every State and Territory of the arid regions. 

In many places we found people residing on the banks 
of streams which flowed through valleys of fertile soil, 
actually suffering for the products of the farm which 
they could easily have acquired if they had known the 
elementary principles of irrigation. To these we 
imparted such information as we had, and passed on to 
Colorado and Utah, where deserts were being con- 
verted into fertile regions by diverting the streams. 

Utah furnished a marvelous lesson. Whatever might 
have been said, or may now be said, of the Mormons, 
when they entered Utah from the agricultural lands 
of the North and the East where rain-fall supplied 
moisture, they had no knowledge of irrigation. But they 
experimented by diverting the water upon the land, 
while they had very little food except roots, wild game, 
and fish. 

The hardships they endured while they were work- 
ing out for themselves the problem of irrigation have 
done much to cement and build up the Mormon church. 

350 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

When polygamy is eliminated and forgotten, as it must 
be as time passes, the history of the Mormons who 
created a great State in a desert, more than a thousand 
miles from supplies, will be read with sympathy and 

Our committee found that irrigation had been prac- 
ticed under the supervision of the Catholic priests who 
established missions in California, Arizona, and New 
Mexico, and that the American people who were occu- 
pying those countries at the time of our visit were 
improving upon the ancient systems, and gradually 
appropriating the water available in developing agri- 
cultural resources. 

The committee found that in Idaho, Montana, 
Wyoming, and Nevada some progress had been made 
in agriculture by irrigation. The larger portion of 
Texas is in the arid and semi-arid region, and Senators 
Reagan and Jones took a lively interest in the develop- 
ment of irrigation in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, 
their immediate Western neighbors. These Senators 
were very influential throughout the South, and made 
irrigation popular in nearly every State south of Mason 
and Dixon's line. 

Before the organization of the Committee on Irri- 
gation, Senator Teller and myself appreciated the neces- 
sity of withdrawing from sale reservoir sites required 
for the storage of water for irrigation. The extent of 
the reservations for that purpose was not sufficiently 
guarded, for we did not anticipate that more land than 
was necessary would be withdrawn from the market by 
the Interior Department. 

The ambition of Major Powell to manage the whole 
subject of irrigation, without regard to the views of 
others, led him to induce the Interior Department to 
withdraw vast regions of the public lands preparatory 
to the selection of the necessary sites. This withdrawal 
of public land from settlement practically closed many 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 351 

of the land offices in the West, and created much com- 
plaint. It became necessary to secure legislation to 
restore the public domain to settlement. 

The result was that Major Powell was removed from 
his powerful position as Director of the Geological 
Survey. Great dissatisfaction existed on the part of the 
Major and his friends on account of the action of Con- 
gress, and as if by some general and secret understanding 
articles appeared throughout the Northern States 
unfriendly to irrigation. The farmers were told by 
writers who gained access to the agricultural press that 
the irrigation of the arid region would ruin the agricul- 
ture of the North by bringing in competition a vast 
region of country, the products of which were of the 
same character as those of New England, New York, 
Pennsylvania, and all the Northwestern States. At 
nearly every session of Congress, however, the Senators 
of the Mountain States of the West continued to agitate 
the question, and with the aid of the Senators from the 
South would put upon various appropriation bills 
amendments providing for National aid to irrigation. 
But our amendments were never considered in the 
House of Representatives ; in fact, the rules of the House 
were such that the Republicans of the North prevented 
any discussion of the question of irrigation in that body. 

When President Roosevelt became the Chief Execu- 
tive of the Nation by the deplorable death of President 
McKinley, irrigation had a powerful friend in the White 
House. He had lived in the mountain regions of 
the West, and was more familiar with Montana, 
Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico than any Repre- 
sentative from any of those States or Territories. In 
his first message he urged Government aid in irrigation 
in the West, and in private conversation with all who 
approached him on that subject he was earnest in his 
advocacy of the measure he recommended. 

Senator Hansbrough of North Dakota introduced a 

352 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

bill providing for National irrigation, and referred it 
to the Committee on Public Lands, of which he was 
chairman, because it was considered by the friends of 
irrigation that that committee was more familiar with 
the subject, and more enthusiastic in support of a meas- 
ure of that kind, than the Committee on Irrigation. 

After the bill was introduced the President sug- 
gested various amendments to perfect it. Senator Hans- 
brough in time reported the bill to the Senate, and after 
full explanation and debate it passed the Senate unani- 
mously, went to the House of Representatives, and was 
referred to the Committee on Irrigation. That com- 
mittee, as well as the Committee of the Senate, kept in 
close touch with the President, and took his advice at 
every stage of the proceedings. It required no argu- 
ment to secure the support of Representatives of the 
Southern States, as they had been in favor of irrigation 
for many years. It was not necessary to educate the 
President, as he was as well informed as anybody in 
the United States. He sent for the leading Republican 
members of the North, and appealed to them to 
cease their opposition and permit the bill to pass as an 
Administration measure. The bill was passed. 

Many men both in and out of Congress deserve credit 
for assisting in this great enterprise, but to Theodore 
Roosevelt the country owes the final success of the 

I first met Edmund Winston Pettus the summer of 
1850 at Nevada City, California. We were both 
miners, and a warm friendship arose between us which 
lasted through life. He was a genial companion, and 
knew more of law and politics than any other young 
man of my acquaintance. He had been a lieutenant in 
the Mexican War. He returned to his home in Ala- 
bama in 1855, and I did not see him again until his 
entry into the United States Senate, March 4, 1897. 
Although a man much past middle-age he made a repu- 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 353 

tation for himself in the Senate which added luster to 
his State. He did not believe in shams and took a 
comical view of buncombe oratory. 

Senator Albert J. Beveridge, of Indiana, a young, 
aggressive, and flowery speaker, had occupied the atten- 
tion of the Senate in February and March, 1900, in 
two or three florid and, what he assumed to be, com- 
manding orations. A bill to regulate the status of the 
people of Porto Rico was under consideration. The 
debate also included suggestions with regard to the 
government of the Philippines. Mr. Pettus took 
occasion to comment on the oratorical performances 
of Senator Beveridge, and made one of the most humor- 
ous speeches I ever heard in the Senate. 

"Mr. President," he said,* "we had a wonderful 
declamation yesterday from our great orator — ^wonder- 
ful. It was marvelous in all its parts. It was so mar- 
velous that I dare say such a thing has never before 
been heard of in the Senate of the United States. When 
you get a genuine orator he is absolutely absolved from 
all rules of logic or common sense. When it is neces- 
sary, in the fervor of oratorical flourishes, to prove any 
proposition, true or false, rules of common sense and the 
decent observance of what is due to others must not 
stand in the way of maintaining *my reputation as a 
great orator.' It will not do. If it is necessary I 
must break down the ideas of an observance of what 
the Senator from Vermont [Mr. Proctor] charac- 
terized as *the best policy.' If it is necessary I must 
*draw on my imagination for my facts and on my 
memory for my flights of fancy,' as Ovid Bolus did. 
When an orator speaks he has a right, in the fervor of 
his oratory, here in the United States Senate, in refer- 
ence to the Republicans, and Democrats, and Populists, 
and any other man who may choose to take a seat here. 

♦Cong. Record, Vol. 33, Part IV, s6th Cong., ist Sess., page 



354 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

to speak of them as 'enemies to the Government.* He 
has a right to speak of them as 'opponents of the Gov- 
ernment.' The Government, in his mind, is *me and 
my wife, my son John and his wife; us four, and no 

*'I was amazed at that speech. I once before heard 
one that went off in that direction. Oh, I tell you the 
senior or junior Senator from Iowa — I do not know 
which — and the senior or junior Senator from Maine — 
I do not know which — ^will have to take some action in 
reference to that orator. There is no doubt about it 
in the world. There will have to be some caucus on 
that matter. I tell you, Mr. President, these four wise 
men from Maine and Iowa could not devote their time, 
if they want to serve their party well, better than to 
take some consideration of the orators in this Chamber. 
Orators; yes! 

"The Master once had to select a man to lead the 
children of Israel out of Egypt and through the wilder- 
ness to Canaan. He did not select an orator. No; he 
selected one of these men from Maine or Iowa, and his 
name was Moses. And he was a stuttering man, too. 
But Moses told his Master to his face that he could not 
do it, because he could not speak to the people. And 
what was the reply ? *There is Aaron. He speaks well.' 
And they took Aaron along, not in command, that was 
not allowed, but they took him along as a kind of 
deputy; and when Moses on his Master's order went up 
into the mountain for the 1 ables, the orator left in 
charge had a golden calf framed. And he put all the 
people down to worshipping the golden calf. More 
people worship the golden calf now than did in those 
days. But while Aaron and his people were all down 
worshipping the golden calf, the man of God appeared, 
and he pulled out his sword and demanded to know 
*who was on the Lord's side,' and the orator jumped up 
from his knees, drew his sword, got on Moses's side, 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 355 

and went to killing the Israelites along with Moses. 
All these orators will do the same thing — the last one 
of them. We saw an instance of it yesterday afternoon." 


Conclusion — The Pious Fund Case — I argue before the Hague 
Court of Arbitration — A tribute to the Dutch — I retire from the 
Senate — Back to the Nevada gold fields. 

The Pious Fund Case was tried in the fall of 1902 
before the Court of Arbitration authorized by The 
Hague Convention of 1899. I was employed with 
John T. Doyle as counsel in that case, and argued it 
as senior counsel on the final hearing. The case grew 
out of donations made by pious persons in the eighteenth 
century to create a fund for the civilization and con- 
version of the natives of California, and for the main- 
tenance and support of the Catholic religion in that 
country. This fund was covered into the Mexican 
treasury by decree of October 24, 1842, with an under- 
taking on the part of Mexico to pay interest thereon 
for the purposes intended by the donators. 

After the sale of California to the United States 
the Mexican Government failed to pay the agreed 
interest on that part of the principal belonging to the 
missions of upper California. There had been a pre- 
vious arbitration and an award made to the United 
States in behalf of the Catholic Church of upper Cali- 
fornia, but the Mexican Government denied that any- 
thing more was due. Finally, by stipulation with the 
United States, it was agreed that the question should 
be submitted by the two governments to the permanent 
Court of Arbitration under The Hague Convention of 
1899. The hearing before the court occupied the time 
from September 15 to October 14, 1902. After some 
two or three weeks of deliberation the court made 
an award in favor of the Catholic Church of 
<fe 1,420,662. 69 Mexican money; and further decreed 
that the Mexican Government should pay to the 

Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 357 

Catholic Church annually the sum of $42,050.99. The 
Mexican Government has complied with the judgment, 
and thus the Pious Fund Case was finally settled. 

It was a remarkable case in many respects. It arose 
before the Mexican Revolution, and was in controversy 
by negotiations and arbitration between the United 
States and Mexico from 1842 to 1902. It was the 
first case submitted to the permanent Court of 

While at The Hague I took opportunity to visit 
nearly every place of interest in Holland. The exist- 
ence of that little kingdom is one of the wonders of the 
world. The difficulties encountered and labor required 
to create a flourishing kingdom below the water level 
of the stormy North Sea required courage, fortitude, 
industry, and endurance beyond the comprehension of 
this generation; but the accomplishment of what now 
seems miraculous accounts for the heroic, determined, 
persevering, and unconquerable qualities of the Dutch. 
I saw more to admire in the Dutch character and in the 
deeds accomplished by that people than in any other 
nation in Europe. Every man in whose veins the blood 
of Holland circulates is liable to be a great character. 

This is conspicuously illustrated by Theodore Roose- 
velt, now President of the United States, and by the 
Boers of South Africa, who, insignificant in num- 
ber, fought the British Empire to a standstill. The 
odds were so fearful that no other race of men would 
have dared to enter the contest. The heroic deeds of 
the Hollanders in resisting the combined powers of 
Continental Europe for more than half a century can 
never be fully described. No people ever suffered more, 
endured more, or fought more bravely since prehistoric 

H r^ired from the Senate for the last time, March 
4, 1 905V and returned to my old home In Nevada, and 
with ayfour-horse team attached to a camping-wagon 

358 Reminiscences of William M. Stewart 

spent about six weeks inspecting the mining camps of 
the southern part of the State. 

I came to the conclusion that the Bullfrog mining 
district was more promising than any other in the State. 
At the time I am writing, two railroads are approaching 
Bullfrog from the south, and another is contemplated 
from the north, making this a central point for a very 
extensive and wonderfully rich mining region. I located 
in Bullfrog in May, 1905. I have built a commodious 
office and furnished it with a law library of about three 
thousand volumes, and have also built a dwelling-house 
with all the necessary conveniences, where I reside with 
my family, consisting of my second wife and her little 

My wife is a strong character, endowed with the 
rare gift of common sense, and although she is unac- 
customed to Western life she adapts herself to the situa- 
tion with readiness and ease, and makes my home more 
delightful than it would be in any other part of the 
world. We are not compelled to look abroad for excite- 
ment or entertainment. New developments and new 
discoveries are more agreeable than the vanities of 
society and the passing shows of large cities. 

The climate is excellent. It is free from severe cold 
in winter, and the heat in summer is not as uncom- 
fortable as it is in the inland country of the Northern 
States. The elevation at my office and residence is 
3,575 feet above the level of the sea, and the cool 
breezes at night make it a comfortable place to sleep 
in the hottest weather. 

At the present time I am engaged in my profession 
of the law, and acquiring interests in mines and assist- 
ing in their development. The fascinating business of 
mining is a perennial source of hope. It inspires both 
mental and physical vigor, and promotes health and 

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