Gilded Dreams




"Their gravely vacant and bewhiskered mixed, melted, swam together in the sea-depth of a past, intangible, immeasurable, and unknowable…And they were lost. For who was Garfield, martyred man, and who had seen him in the streets of life? Who could believe that his footfalls ever sounded on a lonely pavement? Who has heard the casual and familiar tones of Chester Arthur? And where was Harrison? Where was Hayes? Which had the whiskers, which the burnsides; which was which?" – Thomas Wolfe.

"This miserable mode the dreary souls of those sustain, who lived without blame, and without praise" – Dante.

________________________________________________

Gilded Dreams

An Alternate History of the United States of America.

________________________________________________​
Forward

There are four kinds of people.

There are those who are completely forgotten by history. Gone from our human memory, having never truly affected history except as a group, either in the streets in the ballot box.

The second type are those who have a clear, unchangeable image for all of those who aren't on the fringe. Gandhi was good. That is almost indisputable unless you are a wackjob. Likewise Hitler was evil, unless you are a neo-nazi (If your are, leave) that is indisputable.

Then there are the people who's reputation is fought over. Reagan, LBJ, Scott. All of these people have disputes around their legacy, sometimes they swing one way, sometimes another view is precedent.

The fourth group is tricky. They are the people who are remembered by history but have no reputation, they are neither good nor bad but are instead stuck in a historical limbo. They have Wiki pages that say they were senator from this state and a member of this party, but says little else. We put them on our lists but we know little about them. They are a blank slate, so it seems. Yet these were men, living breathing men who had ideals and feuds and power. They certainly were not nobodies in their own time.

This Timeline is the story of what happens when one of these people makes a different choice.
 
So uh this is my new timeline and I hope you all enjoy it. Before we actually get to the actual changes I'm going to post two "Prolouge" chapters they explain OTL stuff just in case you don't know much about it.
 
Prologue Part 1: Would You Like Some Exposition?
•••••


A Young Chester A. Arthur

Chester Alan Arthur was the son of a Vermont Baptist Minister, from whom he inherited his hatred of slavery. At school he was mediocre in his studies and average in his other aspects. He never really expected to be President, and possibly never truly wanted it.

He attended law school at State & National and moved to New York to set up a law practice. There he joined the Republican Party and grew quite wealthy as an Abolitionist lawyer. He met his wife, Ellen, and gained acute social skills as he enjoyed the finer things in life. He was the principle lawyer for the plaintiff in a case that desegregated New York's streetcar lines. His life hardly missed a beat when the Civil War broke out, though this was largely because his wife was Virginian. However he was soon appointed Quartermaster General of New York and made a Brigadier General. While the office was certainly a patronage laden one he did do his best to do his job and keep soldiers in New York clothed, armed, fed, and housed. He lost his position, despite praise he received for it, when the Democrats took the Governorship in 1862. He returned to his law practice and continued building alliances in the Republican Party, despite the tragic death of his son William. His star continued to rise when one of his chief sponsors, Former Governor Edwin Morton was elected to the Senate. After the war he became affiliated with the likes of William Seward and other more conservative Republicans. However his closest ally and benefactor was Roscoe Conkling, soon to be a Senator.


Roscoe Conkling (Left) and James Blaine (Right) whose rivalry defined the Republican Party

By this point it was the 1870s and we must examine the political structure of the Republican Party. The Radical Faction had died a slow death and reconstruction was dying as well and with it the dream of a somewhat equal south. Under the Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant the Federal Government became a bed of corruption and patronage, though Grant was not personally corrupt. The Presidency slowly fell behind Congress in terms of governing power. It was a time when absolute loyalty to the party line was expected, as were campaign donations from people who had been appointed under the administration. After all the moment a new party came to power the appointees would be out of a job as new political supporters were swept into office. It was a cycle, win election and use funds from your appointees to win the next one. The issue fractured the party. Conkling led the faction that remained firmly loyal to the Grant Administration and the spoils system, the Stalwarts. Opposing them was James Blaine, Conkling's arch nemesis and leader of the Half-Breeds who had been half loyal to Grant, half loyal to Reform of the system. Arthur certainly was a Stalwart. In 1871 Grant appointed Arthur to the position of Collector of the New York Customshouse. Since the vast majority of federal funds came from Tariffs it was an immensely powerful patronage position. Arthur did his job in a way that did not show any sort of strong work ethic (he was notorious for showing up late and leaving early) but still governed the Customshouse in a way that angered as few people as possible. Though his income dropped nearly 80% with the passage of the Anti-Moiety Act in 1874 he remained very rich. In 1876 Conkling tried and failed to win the presidency, though he did keep Blaine from being nominated. Instead Ohio Governor Rutherford B. Hayes got the nod. While the Stalwarts were lukewarm about Hayes they supported him through his controversial elections and were subsequently outraged when he promised Civil Service reform and appointed a reformist cabinet.

Hayes's Secretary of the Treasury, John Sherman launched an investigation into Arthur's time as Collector and found that whole he had not violated the law he was still part of a very corrupt system. In response the Stalwarts declared war on Hayes. Conkling worked the Senate by reminding them of the Tenure of Office Act, which had been used to impeach Johnson and got them to reject Arthur's proposed replacement: Theodore Roosevelt1. Hayes backed down for awhile but then removed Arthur while Congress was out of session.


President Hayes

Arthur remained diligently in the state Republican Party, now the darling of the Stalwarts, and lived quite happily. He worked hard for the Stalwarts in the New York Elections of 1879 and was rewarded with a large victory. He quickly became one of the most influential Republicans in the State of New York. Then his wife died, devastating him as he went to the 1880 Republican Convention. He would never truly recover.

The plan in 1880 for the Stalwarts was to nominate Grant for an unprecedented third term in office. Though his administration had seen many corruption scandals the man himself remained hugely popular in the Republican Party. The Half-Breeds backed Blaine, who himself was an astute machine politician. The two factions were so bitter in their animosity that no one would break ranks. This paved the way for James Garfield, a Ohio Congressman who had Half-Breed sympathies but was overall a moderate on most issues. He selected Arthur for the Vice Presidential slot to appease the Stalwarts. Conkling begged Arthur not to accept the nomination, but he did, souring their relationship for good. The reaction to Arthur's nomination was largely negative and he was largely seen as too undistinguished, though to most it was a minor affair seeing as Garfield was in good health and unlikely to die in office.


James Garfield

Arthur turned his attention to the election and the Garfield campaign called in votes from all of the GOP's patronage appointees. Of course the Democratic ticket, led by General Winfield Hancock did the same with democrats. Arthur helped raise funds and heal rifts between Garfield and the Stalwarts. But for the most part he was simply there to balance the ticket and provide Stalwart votes and money. He did these ably but was no more remarkable then your average Vice Presidential candidate. They won the two swing states of New York and Indiana for a convincing win in the Electoral College despite a close run in the popular vote.

Arthur was unable to convince Garfield to put Conkling (or indeed many other Stalwarts) in his cabinet and indeed James Blaine became Secretary of State, a hugely important position. Quickly Arthur was torn as Garfield nominated a Half-Breed for New York Customshouse Collector against promises to Conkling. Conkling resigned from the Senate, hoping to prove his point and quickly be reelected. Only he found that the New York Legislature would not reelect him. Arthur's association with Conkling distanced him far from the administration.

And then Garfield was shot.

•••••
1: Senior
 
Prologue Part 2: Chet in the White House
+++++


The Assassination of Garfield

The words of Charles Guiteau upon shooting Garfield were "I am the Stalwart of Stalwarts! Arthur is President Now!" Obviously that was not the best way to be thrust into the national spotlight. Despite the claims of some Alternate Historians1 it is quite clear that Guiteau was criminally insane and believed he had been instrumental in getting the Republicans in power. He was most certainly not a Stalwart. This was quickly figured out and for the most part the idea that Arthur was involved with the assassination attempt died.

Arthur did not immediately rush to Washington, as Garfield still lived and he feared seeming too eager to take power. But Secretary of State Blaine urged him to come to Washington, so he did. He remained out of the public eye as Garfield lingered on sometimes improving but in the end dying largely due to his doctor's incompetence. On September 19th 1881 Garfield died and the next day Chester Alan Arthur assumed the highest office in the land. It quickly became apparent that the cabinet would not stay together and Roscoe Conkling wanted to become Treasury Secretary. It would've been political suicide to appoint him though, as it would make Arthur seem like a slave to the Stalwart machine at a time when civil service reform was at the center of the nation's attention. Despite this he did use his patronage power to cement an alliance with William Mahone, a Readjuster Senator from Virginia.

The first task be had was assembling a cabinet. Fredrick Frelinghuysen of New Jersey became Secretary of State. New Yorker Charles Folger became Treasury Secretary. Arthur retained only one of Garfield's appointments, Robert Todd Lincoln as Secretary of War. His cabinet members, and later other appointments, were certainly all Partisan Republicans and mostly Stalwarts to boot. But they were not pure hacks and most of them had some experience in whatever they were required to do.


Frederick Frelinghuysen

In a speech to congress he praised Blaine's efforts to secure good trade with Latin America and talked at length about the budget surplus. He proposed eliminating internal taxes on almost anything except liquor and tobacco. He called for continued campaigns against Native Americans in the west. And he called called for civil service reform, a shocking twist considering his background in Machine Politics.

His first major issue was that of Chinese Immigration. By 1881 there where over 200,000 Chinese immigrants in the United States and it was impossible to make them citizens. They had built the majority of the great rail roads in the west and were feared (and admired by few) for their willingness to work very much, very well and for very little money. They were the target of racist lynchings, accusations that they took American jobs and laws that made it impossible for them to get a slice of the economic pie. California was in up roar over the immigrants and so Congress passed a law that blocked Chinese Immigration for 20 years. The Westerners and Labor activists backed it, fearful that it would take their jobs and most people were at the very least apathetic about it. It was sure to pass Congress but Arthur vetoed it. He objected to the 20 year ban, saying it violated a treaty with China and was not particularly happy with the ban in the first place. Congress then passed a new version with a 10 year ban. Arthur, always careful to maintain a balance between principle and politics, signed it.


Cartoon Attacking the Chinese Exclusion Act

The next major fight of his term came with the 1882 Rivers and Harbors Bill which would've spent 19 million dollars for various internal improvements. While he conceded that much of the money would improve the nation Arthur thought too much of it was Pork Barrel spending and patronage grabs and vetoed the bill, much to the shock of the Washington establishment. It was an immensely popular move, even as Congress overruled his veto. But this, and his earlier veto, had cost him support inside of his own party. It is around this time that the first signs of mild Bright's Disease2 began to show in President Arthur.

As midterms approached the issue of Civil Service reform once again rose to the forefront. As a bill sponsored by George Pendleton was stuck in committee the Democrats hoped to capitalize on the apparent lack of concern for the issue by Republicans. Arthur didn't pursue much of his promises for civil services, though he gained political points for prosecuting high ranking republicans in the Star Routes scandal. This only angered more people in the GOP. But his distance from the core GOP was helpful when the Democrats crushed them in the midterms by playing up Civil Service Reform. Of course many Democrats had no intention of actually changing the system, in fact many were relishing the opportunity to use it for their own gain. This made it all the more painful when the lame-duck congress quickly passed the Pendleton Civil Service bill it had doggedly tried to block earlier. It created an exam system for the civil service and banned the practice of demanding funds from civil servants. Still reformers grimaced, they did not have the votes to overturn the veto Arthur was sure to give.

Except he signed it.


A meeting of Civil Service reformers

Of course there were challenges and the fact that only about 15% of the federal bureaucracy fell under its control. It took years before the spoils system truly dies. But the act was a turning point and America would never be the same.

The rest of the term was largely quiet. Sure a firestorm erupted over a proposed lowering of tariffs, but in the end they only fell by about 1%, nothing to write home about. Arthur did enthusiastically support the modernization of the United States Navy under Half-Breed Secretary of the Navy William Chandler. The expansion of the navy would prove a wise decision in the years to come. The expansion of the Navy came with an increased involvement in the affairs of Central and South America. Secretary of State Frelinghuysen was involved in meditating the Pacific War between Peru, Bolivia and Chile. He also negotiated bilateral tariff agreements. Another focus was Western Expansion and dealing with the Native Americans. While it is tempting to portray his support for allowing Native Culture in schools as an example of an enlightened attitude it was more an eagerness to get the fighting over with combined with a rich man's ignorance about the reality of western life.

All of this time his health was declining and his Kidney's grew more and more ill, still he was well enough to go the both Yellowstone and Florida, both trips he credited with bringing his health up and making him a much more attractive candidate for 1884. When the Supreme Court struck down the Civil Rights Bill of 1875 he issued a vague note expressing regret at the measure but did nothing else.

The 1884 Election Drew Near and despite the fact that he had angered large segments of his party, despite the fact that his health was still on shaky ground and despite the fact that he'd never really wanted to be President, Chester A. Arthur still was going to for another term.

•••••

1: Conspiracy Theorists
2: This is our POD, IOTL it was the serious kind. However it lacks any major effects at this point.
 
Last edited:
Chapter 1: Election Shmection
=====
Chicago Exposition Center, June 1884

Secretary of War Robert Todd Lincoln was thoughtful as William Tecumseh Sherman sipped his whiskey.

"So who do you think will win?" Asked the Secretary of War.

"The one who is the toughest son of a bitch." The General responded.

"So you?"

"You flatter me Mr. Secretary, you really do."

"In all seriousness who do you think will win?"

"Blaine. Arthur is too bland and Edmunds is too radical."

"Having served with Blaine I can assure you he isn't a tough son of a bitch."

Sherman just shrugged "Well he's the most corrupt man out there, which in the lack of any genuine sons of bitch is the next factor. Who else are they gonna vote for? John?" The General laughed out loud.

"Your brother may have a chance in the future but not today."

"Bah! Why anyone would want to be President is beyond me. Anyway, who do you say will be nominated?"

"Arthur. He's got the support and can hold the party together. The delegates know some would sooner vote Democrat then vote Blaine."

"Vote for a bunch of traitors? Who?"

"The Bloody Shirt isn't as useful anymore General, people are willing to look past the war."

"Still, who'd vote for that Democrat from New York, what's his face?"

"Cleveland?" Lincoln asked, Sherman nodded "Reformers mostly, don't like Blaine's open corruption."

"But they'd vote Arthur? That man was made by machines more then my uniform was."

"They'd prefer not to, but his backing of the Pendleton Act makes him acceptable." Sherman was about to make a sarcastic remark when a servant briskly walked into the room and gave then the result of the 3rd ballot and walked out.

"What's it say?" Sherman asked.

"Your brother is out, backed Edmunds…"

"Good for him."

"Logan lost quite a bit and Arthur is still bleeding to Blaine." Lincoln said then grinned.

"What's so funny?"

"The delegates finally got it through their heads we don't want to be President." Lincoln said and handed the paper to Sherman. It read:

Robert Todd Lincoln - 0
William Tecumseh Sherman - 0

Sherman smiled as well and raised his bottle. "To whichever poor sod becomes President"

"Indeed General Sherman, indeed…"

•••••


The 1884 Republican Ticket

The decision by the President to run for a term in his own right shocked many of his close friends, who knew him to be in poor health. However trips to Florida and Yellowstone National Park had rejuvenated Chester A. Arthur and he felt he was certainly strong enough to be President for four more years. Unlike all Vice Presidents turned Presidents before him he was actually popular and had a solid platform to run on. He'd guided the country well, clamping down on patronage across the board despite his origins in the political machines of New York. He'd kept Tariffs high, which appealed to Republicans, and vetoed an unpopular bill that would've spent millions of dollars in small localized areas. He'd signed a compromise Chinese Exclusion Act that'd stopped immigration for 10 years and forbidden citizenship for Chinese immigrants. This was popular at the time in the west. In Virginia he'd formed an alliance with the Readjusters, who had set about improving the rights of blacks slightly, all under the leadership of a confederate veteran. In short most republicans thought he he had been a decent president, certainly better then expected, and he was popular enough to have a real shot at election in his own right.

However a real shot did not necessarily equate to a shoo in. Former Secretary of State Blaine had never really stopped running since he had left office and commanded a powerful slice of the parties delegates. Reformers were still not entirely convinced that Arthur had left behind his days as a machine politician in New York. Many reformers backed Vermont Senator John Edmunds. While the Stalwarts did not nominate someone to oppose Arthur for the nomination many were still lukewarm about his reform efforts and his refusal to nominate an entirely Stalwart cabinet. Other candidates included John Logan of Illinois as well as John Sherman of Ohio. Both John Sherman's brother William and Robert Todd Lincoln refused to run for office. Despite having lost some of his Stalwart base Arthur still led the delegate count on the 1st ballot with Blaine not far behind. On the next ballot Blaine siphoned off some delegates from Arthur while Sherman lost some delegates to Edmunds. The 3rd ballot saw Sherman drop out and back Edmunds while Blaine lost some delegates back to Arthur. On the 4th ballot Logan's support collapsed and his delegates split between Arthur and Blaine. By the 5th ballot Edmunds was fading and slowly bleeding delegates to the main contenders. Blaine surged ahead of Arthur on the 6th ballot and stated there for the 7th and 8th Ballots. But then he began to fall back as his opposition began to back Arthur. It quickly became apparent that large elements of the party would sooner back the Democrats then Blaine and by the 10th Ballot Arthur had returned to the lead. The delegates were by this point exhausted and while Arthur was not inspiring passionate speeches in his favor he wasn't inspiring any against him either. Just before the 12th Ballot Edmunds effectively threw on the towel and while he did not endorse Arthur the delegates from his faction moved to the President and brought him the nomination.

Now that he had been nominated Arthur turned his attention to selecting a Vice Presidential Candidate. The President was not on strong terms with either the reformers or the Stalwarts/Half-Breeds, but he felt that the reformers would be more important to hold in the election. So he selected Albert G. Porter, Governor of the crucial swing state of Indiana. Some GOP members balked at his support for Women's Suffrage and the large backing he had from the Knights of Labor, but most could tolerate him as he'd been close to Hayes. He was nominated on the 1st Ballot.


The Democratic Ticket of 1884

For their part the Democrats nominated the popular Governor of New York, Grover Cleveland. Cleveland was less then a year into the Governor's Office but had already gained the support of large parts of the Democratic Party. He was a Gold Standard Man and a friend to big business and supported the party line on tariffs. He had a reputation for clean, honest governing and thriftiness. For his Vice Presidential pick he chose Thomas Hendricks of Indiana.



The campaign quickly devolved into a mudslinging contest surrounding the candidate's characters. Democrats were quick to attack Arthur's past in the bowels of machine politics. They alleged that he had taken illegal kickbacks as Port Collector of New York. They claimed that as head of the New York GOP he'd illegally influenced elections and called him a puppet. Some even tried to bring up the old accusation that he'd been involved in the assassination of Garfield. This smear campaign was quickly put down by Democratic leaders, who saw how it could easily backfire. Republicans countered by touting Arthur's support for civil service reform and his appointment of "qualified men" to his cabinet. As for the accusations of kickbacks they were forced to admit that Arthur had done some morally dubious things while Port Collector, but he had never done anything outside of the law. Republicans praised Arthur's "even handed governance" and beat the drum of reform while being careful to keep the Stalwarts and Half-Breeds on board.


Cartoon Attacking Cleveland

It took a while for the Republicans to find anything on Cleveland. His reputation as a clean, independent man was well earned. It seemed as if the Democrats had found the perfect candidate. Then the GOP hit the jackpot. Allegations emerged that Cleveland had fathered an illegitimate child while Mayor of Buffalo then had the mother committed to an insane asylum. When asked about the scandal by his staff Cleveland told them to "above all, tell the truth." He admitted that he had been "inappropriately involved" with the women in question and was paying child support for her son. The campaign noted that there was no proof that he had fathered the child, other local politicians had been involved with the women as well. Cleveland was simply doing his moral duty by paying child support and he certainly had not had the women confined to an asylum. Cleveland's quick decisive and honest response to the scandal helped make the Republican chant "Ma, Ma where's my Pa?" Less effective and kept the race close until Election Day.

In the final weeks before Election Day Arthur failed to Convince John St. John of the Prohibition Party to drop out but he did manage to keep St. John out of upstate New York and so helped the area stay Republican. He also distanced himself from a group of pastors who said that the Democratic Party was "riddled with papists". In the end it came down to the wire in New York and Indiana.



Chester A Arthur (NY)/Albert G. Porter (IN) - 233 EVs
Grover Cleveland (NY)/Thomas Hendricks (IN) - 168 EVs

Cleveland certainly made inroads into the north, managing to win Connecticut and New Jersey. But he had proved unable to beat out Arthur in New York and had payed the price for it. It had been very close but the Democrats had learnt a hard lesson, they could not win without New York. However things were slightly less damning in the Congressional elections.

While the Republicans gained 29 seats the Democrats under Speaker Carlisle maintained control over the House of Representatives. This was largely due to the size of the Democratic landslide in 1882 more so then any strength in 1884. The Republicans remained in control of the Senate, but did not win a massive victory. But the pain was still great for the Democrats when for the 6th straight time a Republican was inaugurated as President of the United States.
 
I like that Cleveland does the same thing he did OTL (and there's some speculation as to whether he was the father, since she was seeing other men (who were married), which is why he claimed responsibility for the child).

OTL, it didn't help that Blaine attended a dinner with other tycoons at a time of high unemployment and didn't denounce the Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion statement...
 
I like that Cleveland does the same thing he did OTL (and there's some speculation as to whether he was the father, since she was seeing other men (who were married), which is why he claimed responsibility for the child).

Thank you, there was no reason to change Cleveland's personality in this scenario.

OTL, it didn't help that Blaine attended a dinner with other tycoons at a time of high unemployment and didn't denounce the Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion statement...

Arthur is, shall we say, better atuned to New York and knows how to work there.
 

Stolengood

Banned
"But they'd vote Arthur? That man was made by machines more then my uniform was."

I love this line. :D

Anyway... since you'd mentioned him so prominently, I half-expected you to go in the direction David_T had postulated here:

There are various scenarios under which Robert Todd Lincoln could have become Republican nominee for president, but they all founder on his disinclination to seek the job. However, here I would like to discuss a different way Robert Lincoln could have become president--and perhaps a more plausible way. That is by getting the *vice*-presidential nomination in 1884. My source is Jason Emerson, *Giant in the Shadows: The Life of Robert T. Lincoln* (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press 2012); all quotes in this post, unless otherwise indicated, are from Emerson's book.

Lincoln's position in 1884 was that he did not want either the presidential or vice-presidential nomination and that he hoped "that no such responsibility will be thrust upon me." http://books.google.com/books?id=tPqgC3RS-7sC&pg=PA256 But of course these words imply that the nomination *might* be thrust upon him, and a widespread view in the Gilded Age was that an honorable man, though he might not campaign for the nomination, could not refuse his party's call if it chose him for the presidency. (Some applied this reasoning to other offices as well. When former Illinois Governor Richard Oglesby announced in 1887 that he would not be a candidate for the US Senate, a constituent wrote him that any man who decided for himself that he would not be a candidate was "not merely impertinent, but unpatriotic...Whether a man announces himself as an active candidate is a matter of taste....But...to declare he is not a candidate is to deprive the state of its lawful right of selection.")

Anyway, Lincoln supported Arthur (whom he had of course served as Secretary of War) for the presidential nomination, believing not only that Arthur had earned it, but that Arthur had a better chance of winning in November than Blaine (Lincoln thought Arthur could carry New York, and doubted that Blaine could). However, Arthur had too many enemies, and Blaine as expected was nominated, Lincoln getting only a handful of votes.

Once Blaine won the nomination, the convention turned to the choice of a running mate. It was likely that the Northeasterner Blaine would be balanced by a Midwesterner, and Lincoln was the obvious man. He had been an able Secretary of War, and his name was thought to be magic, especially among African American voters. (There weren't very many of them in the North, but enough to potentially make a difference in closely contested states. And though Republican hopes were dim in the South, there was still a slight possibility that black voters--who had not yet been disfranchised to the extent they would be a couple of decades later--might help the Republicans carry one or two Upper South states. Anyway, it wasn't just blacks who revered the name of Lincoln.) Many Republicans who thought him too young (41) and inexperienced for the White House, considered him an ideal vice-presidential candidate. (This was not entirely logical, given that there had been two presidential assassinations in the past two decades, each thrusting a just-elected vice president into the presidency.) "Yet once his nomination seemed certain, he immediately telegraphed the convention and not only forbade his friends to present his name but also stated that he 'would not take' the nomination. While this seems to contradict Robert's numerous statements about civic duty, to him as to so many men of the day, the vice presidency was an empty, wasted position that served no real public interest; therefore, to refuse it really was not to compromise one's principle. In the end, the second spot went to another Illinoisan, Senator John A. Logan..."(Emerson, p. 257) http://books.google.com/books?id=tPqgC3RS-7sC&pg=PA257

Does this mean that there was no chance of Lincoln on the ticket in 1884? Not necessarily. For as Emerson has pointed out--and this is something I was previously unaware of--Lincoln did privately indicate that he would accept the vice presidential nomination under one circumstance: if Arthur were nominated for president. (Note that Lincoln was the *only* one of Garfield's cabinet that Arthur had retained.) Emerson writes (pp. 257-8):

"President Arthur was embarrassed and discouraged by the rejection of his party. After telegraphing his congratulations and support to Blaine, he ordered a carriage and disappeared from sight. History has shown, however, that the president did not seriously want the nomination. He did not 'bow out' of the contest, because to do so would raise suspicions about his health, cast doubt about his competence to handle the burdens of the presidency, and carry with it the implication of cowardice to both run on his record and to face possible defeat at the polls. But his health was the reason for his inactive candidacy. Although publicly unknown at the time, Arthur knew his Bright's disease was in an advanced stage and being aggravated by the stress of the presidency, and that if elected, he probably would not live out a second term.

"The knowledge of this fact makes it even more incredible to realize just how close Robert Lincoln actually came to being president. For, despite his disinterest in being the vice-presidential nominee, telegrams he wrote during the first day of the Republican National Convention show he was willing to accept the second place only if President Arthur were renominated. [It seems to me the correct word would be "nominated," since Arthur had never been nominated for *president.*--DT] Lincoln, believing his name might be presented to the convention for vice-presidential contention, entrusted longtime friend Norman Williams with a telegram to U.S. Senator Shelby M. Cullom from Illinois. In it, Lincoln instructed Cullom to withdraw his name from contention for vice president if it was presented. Confidentially, Robert instructed Williams to deliver the telegram to Cullom 'for his prompt action if any nomination for president is made by the Convention except President Arthur....If that nomination be made, telegraph me for further instructions, as my relations to him require me to consider my proper course.' The missive makes clear that if Arthur had been nominated for the presidency, and he asked Lincoln to join the ticket, Robert would have assented out of respect and loyalty to his chief. Since Arthur died in 1886. Vice President Lincoln would have become president.

"Had Robert's intentions been known inside the convention hall during the balloting, it is likely it could have swung sufficient votes to enable Arthur to win the nomination. Robert, however, took extra care that his telegram would not be revealed. Instead of sending it to the telegram station in the convention hall, he sent it to the Western Union main office and had Williams pick it up there, rather than have it delivered to him. And, if Arthur truly wanted to receive the nomination, he could have approached Lincoln previously and announced Honest Abe's son as his running mate should he be nominated. With Lincoln on the national ticket, the Republicans would have had a much greater chance of winning the nomination..."

Is Emerson right that if it had been known that Lincoln was willing to be Arthur's running mate, Arthur would have been nominated? I am not sure. At the first ballot of the convention, "Blaine received 344, Arthur 278, Edmunds 93, Logan 63, Sherman 30, with Joseph Roswell Hawley, Robert Todd Lincoln and William Tecumseh Sherman receiving parts of the remainder." http://en.wikipedia.org/…/1884_Republican_National_Conventi… So it is certainly conceivable that if it were known that Lincoln would be his running mate, Arthur could have gotten more votes than Blaine on the first ballot. But this would still be less than a majority, and it is significant that 60 percent of Arthur's first-ballot support in OTL came from southern delegates. http://books.google.com/books?id=PVwCtvcs3NgC&pg=PA215 (Daniel Klinghard, *The Nationalization of American Political Parties, 1880-1896*, p. 215). In other words, Arthur did poorly with delegates from Republican areas, and did best with patronage-dependent delegates from an area of the country that the Republicans had no chance of carrying. Having Lincoln as a running mate would strengthen Arthur with northern delegates, but I am not certain that it would strengthen him enough. As noted, he had plenty of enemies in the party (though of course this was also true of Blaine).

In any event, this scenario does seem to me to be the most likely one by which Robert Todd Lincoln could become president. To be sure, there was some talk of nominating him for president in 1888, and conceivably he could have gotten the nomination if he wanted it--and would probably have beaten Cleveland had he been nominated--but he made it clear that he did not want it, and again got very few votes. To get a Robert Todd Lincoln who would actively seek the presidency requires so great a transformation of his personality that I am convinced that only his feeling of loyalty to Arthur in 1884 could put him on a national ticket and thus make a Robert Lincoln presidency likely (assuming that the Arthur-Lincoln ticket wins in November).



I would've loved to've seen an Arthur-Lincoln ticket, even as I've always entertained an Arthur-Mahone ticket, myself. :)

May I, therefore, humbly request a change? ;)
 
I love this line. :D

Thanks.

Anyway... since you'd mentioned him so prominently, I half-expected you to go in the direction David_T had postulated here:





I would've loved to've seen an Arthur-Lincoln ticket, even as I've always entertained an Arthur-Mahone ticket, myself. :)

Well Mahone isn't really a Republican.... :p I mean that's kind of the point of the ReadjustersSenator.

May I, therefore, humbly request a change? ;)

Well, I'll post a chapter tonight (or tomorrow) that will show why I'm reluctant to make such a change for literary purposes.

As for an in universe perspective the main reason is that while IOTL Arthur did try for the nomination he was not 100% committed, largely due to his ill health. While he still has those issues ITTL they are not as bad. Since he is much more committed ITTL he goes in with a stronger position, including a delegate lead. Thus Lincoln's support for Arthur, while still important, is less decisive then it would be in the OTL convention. Besides he's close with the current administration and so Arthur wants to appease the more reformist wing.
 
Last edited:

Stolengood

Banned
Well, I'll post a chapter tonight (or tomorrow) that will show why I'm reluctant to make such a change for literary purposes.

As for an in universe perspective the main reason is that while IOTL Arthur did try for the nomination he was not 100% committed, largely due to his ill health. While he still has those issues ITTL they are not as bad. Since he is much more committed ITTL he goes in with a stronger position, including a delegate lead. Thus Lincoln's support for Arthur, while still important, is less decisive then it would be in the OTL convention. Besides he's close with the current administration and so Arthur wants to appease the more reformist wing.
Completely understand. Arthur being healthier does make a difference, I realize -- in a TL where he's dying and still goes for it, choosing Lincoln would probably be done with Lincoln succeeding him in mind. As would have Mahone, because I saw a lot of promise, there. :p

Also, with Arthur nominated instead of Blaine, surely the Mugwumps don't rally to Cleveland so much -- making a change on the Dem ticket, either on top or bottom? But it's your TL; love it, so far. :)
 
Completely understand. Arthur being healthier does make a difference, I realize -- in a TL where he's dying and still goes for it, choosing Lincoln would probably be done with Lincoln succeeding him in mind. As would have Mahone, because I saw a lot of promise, there. :p

I'm sure you'll be happy to know that the Readjusters will make several appearances.

Also, with Arthur nominated instead of Blaine, surely the Mugwumps don't rally to Cleveland so much -- making a change on the Dem ticket, either on top or bottom? But it's your TL; love it, so far. :)

Cleveland was a lock for the democratic nomination and Hendricks is a decent choice no matter who he's facing.

Any way, update in like two seconds.
 
Chapter 2: Finally On His Own

#####
State Department Offices, May 1885

Fredrick Frelinghuysen looked at the clock. After 10 O'Clock. President Arthur had gone home before 5. Though seeing as he owed the President his job he couldn't complain much. That said he was tired and wanted to go home.

"Just one more meeting" he said to himself.

As if on cue the man he was to meet with walked into the room. He was tall with brown hair and wore a pair of spectacles. He carried himself like a gentleman but had a natural aura of forcefulness. He also seemed quite sad.

"Mr. Roosevelt?" The Secretary asked.

"Yes I am" the man said.

"If I understand it correctly you were formally a Republican Assemblyman from New York?"

"I was"

"And you were quite active in the convention, in favor of Senator Edmunds if I remember correctly?"

"Yes I was, then I was quite active in favor of President Arthur" Roosevelt said.

"Yes, I remember your saying that 'This is an election for President, not Port Collector'."

"Yes that was me."

"Very Good. Now on to the business of the matter. You've gained quite the reputation in New York Mr. Roosevelt. An enterprising reformer whose made an enemy of the machines. Author of a premier book on navel warfare. Avid sportsman. You have a bright future in politics."

"I suppose so."

"Yet the White House has revived numerous telegrams saying that you did not run for reelection to the legislature. The local bosses are fine with that, but the reformers dislike it and want you to stay on." The Secretary of State said.

"I just need to get away from it all." Roosevelt murmured.

"I can certainly understand that, seeing as how the telegrams also said that…" Frelinghuysen looked down at his papers and flinched "Both your wife and mother died on the same day recently."

"That is correct."

"I'm very sorry for your loss, that must be very hard for you."

"It was, thank you."

"However, isn't a little odd that in response to it you…" The Secretary of State still had trouble believing what the papers said "…are planning to go out the the Dakotas, buy a large number of cattle, buy a ranch and essentially become a cowboy?"

"No I don't really think so." Roosevelt had regained a more confident tone of voice.

"It's just that you have such a bright future with the Republican Party, and to throw it all away to go west…"

"I don't think its odd." Roosevelt said forcefully.

"I know from your perspective that it must……"

"IT IS NOT AT ALL ODD! NOW WOULD YOU PLEASE TELL ME WHY YOU CALLED ME HERE AT 10 O'CLOCK IN THE EVENING?" Roosevelt yelled as he stood up and pounded his fist in the table.

"Alright! Alright!" The Secretary of State said while scooting back his chair. "In short the Republican Party needs men like you. But we understand your need to get away from it all. You do still want to serve your country correct?"

"Yes" Roosevelt said indignantly but calmly.

"As you know President Arthur and I have been looking to expand our relationships with Latin America. And so we're looking for new men for the diplomatic corps. Young, well educated, enthusiastic and adventurous men who will provide a new face for America abroad."

"I see."

"And you are just that kind of man. Your spirit and tenaciousness would serve the United States well."

"So your proposing I become an ambassador to some small republic in the Jungle?" Roosevelt asked.

"Yes, you'd have lodgings without any logging required. Though your family is wealthy enough to afford more lavish homes if you so desire."

"Hmmm…where would this Ambassadorship be?"

"Well, we have several open positions. Ecuador, El Salvador…Though considering your desire to be a cowboy, Argentina seems right for you, I understand they have quite a lot of cattle."

"Interesting."

"Would you accept?"

"Allow me time to think about it Sir, consult with my sister and such."

"Of course," the Secretary of State said "take all of the time you need."

"Will that be all?"

"Yes I believe so."

"Thank you for your time." Roosevelt said as he got out of his seat and left the room.

•••••


An Aging Grant working on his Memoirs

Chester Arthur's first act upon being inaugurated for a term in his own right was to sign a bill giving the ailing and indebted Former President Grant the pay of an active General. This was a major symbolic move, as he had vetoed a similar bill early in his Presidency.

Then he got straight back to work. He continued to modernize the navy and work to expand American influence in the Western Hemisphere. He kept negotiations up for the rights for the United States to build a Canal through Nicaragua and also signed a treaty that gave American interests an open door into the newly formed Congo Free State. He appealed to veterans as he signed hundreds of private pension bills passed by congress. His crowning achievement in that regard was the passing of a bill that gave pensions to veterans with injuries unrelated to the Civil War.

In 1885 the Readjusters lost control of the Virginia Legislature and seemed on the verge of collapse. On the urging of President Arthur and other northern Republicans the GOP poured funds into the Readjusters as well as ensuring that Readjusters kept their federal appointments. It is through this timely intervention that the Readjusters continued to be a force in Virginia politics. In fact by the 1886 midterms the Virginia Republican Party had ceased to exist as all of the funds were going towards the Readjusters. Across the South the Republicans attempted to set up similar alliances. Sometimes it was with the Greenbacks, or later Populists, and sometimes it was with completely independent groups like the Parti Libéral in Louisiana. The "Grand Old Alliance" Parties were ranged in their views on race, some were relatively progressive while others were just as racist as their democratic opponents. None would achieve the long term success of the Readjusters and none save the Tennessee Populist Party would ever get farther then the state legislature. They would have some long lasting effects however, for example the Parti Libéral is credited with ensuring that French remains an important part of Louisiana culture.


Cartoon lampooning the Tariff issue

Arthur continued the protectionist policies of his previous term and actively opposed bringing down the tariff. Congress was split on the issue and thus the tariff sat where it was, much to the Republican's satisfaction. The issue of the Gold Standard vs Silver Coinage also reared its head during the term as congress debated a bill proposing unlimited coinage of silver. Arthur had never really made a stand on the issue, and Garfield had backed bimetalism. But Arthur was a Stalwart and the Stalwarts were good friends of Big Business and Big Business backed the Gold Standard. So Arthur found himself slipping into to the ranks of the Goldbugs, which had members from both parties. He was not made to make a public defense of it as the unlimited silver bill was defeated. Likewise a bill to stop minting silver was defeated, meaning the status quo remained.

He continued backing westward expansion and opened new lands to settlers, at the expense of Native American tribes. He signed the Dawes Act, which took land away from tribes and gave it to individual Natives. He, along with many others, believed it would help them "assimilate" into while culture. He reluctantly allowed congress to pass more bills attacking the rights of Chinese immigrants, fearing any attempt to stand up to the bills would result in damage to the party.

Arthur remained largely content to let Congress lead to way in terms of policy, much as it had since Andrew Johnson's Presidency. As such the results of the midterms of 1886 were hugely important. Arthur worked hard to support the candidacies of Republicans and GOA members across the nation. He directed fundraising efforts and organized rallies, though he did little in the way of speaking, which was customary at the time. In the end Democrat John G. Carlisle remained Speaker, though only slimiest of margins as the protectionists gained ground. In the Senate the Republicans lost 4, giving them exactly half the seats. However William Mahone, Readjuster from Virginia1, ensured that GOP leadership were elected, however narrow their control. In short Congress would remain divided as it went into a new session.



One of the first things the new congress did was pass a law creating the Interstate Commerce Commission, meant to regulate railroads and ensure fair shipping rates on company lines. Big Business disliked the idea of government intruding into their affairs and so many feared Arthur would veto the bill. So Congress passed a slightly watered down version which passed easily and was signed by Arthur without batting an eye. The ICC quickly assumed powers more in line with the original bill, something to which Arthur did not respond.


Cartoon Attacking the GOP as corrupt

As his Presidency continued onwards Arthur continued to enforce the Pendleton Civil Service Act while keeping Republican appointees office. Despite the fact that it was now harder for Democrats to use the spoils system some Republicans remained irked at Arthur's efforts for Reform. The reformers on the other hand felt that the President did not go far enough in his changes to the civil service and thought he was still too Stalwart in other areas like railroads. This, and other factors, led to a dramatic shift in internal Republican politics. The Stalwarts and Half-Breeds both balked at the steady stream of reformers who were now joining the party. With Conkling having long ago faded into obscurity and Blaine also loosing much of his former influence the two sides were finding more and more common ground. While they continued to oppose each other and backed different candidates it was no longer impossible for compromise to arise between the two factions and they both could be relied upon to fight reformers. Opposing the Old Guard were the motley group of reformers who had come out of the woodwork. They were led by the likes of John Sherman and they supported more then just reform of the Civil Service. They backed further regulation on political machines as well as large businesses. Some even called for breaking up monopolies. Members of the reform faction of the Republican Party sometimes had connections to movements like women's suffrage and temperance, though this was rare at the time. The division was apparent and many were afraid the Democrats would capitalize on it. So some were already thinking about possible compromises and the name Chester Arthur popped up.

Had he been asked the President would've been appalled. He was tired and ready to return to New York. The Presidency was wearing him down and the Bright's Disease was eating away was eating away at his Kidneys. Initially is had been mild and his trips to Florida and Yellowstone had improved his health. But lavish lifestyle and eating habits were catching up to him. His appetite swung wildly and it was harder and harder for him to eat solid foods. His already short days grew shorter and shorter. In October 1887, just a few days after signing a bill granting federal funding to buy seeds for drought ridden Texas farmers, Secretary of War Robert Todd Lincoln found the President keeled over in his office. Arthur died the next day in the White House.

•••••

1: He's reelected since Arthur's support means a more stable Readjuster party, though it was a very close call.
 
Last edited:
Top