Horatio King

Horatio King Discusses Presidential Candidates for 1888 in 1886



Horatio King Discusses Presidential Candidates for 1888 in 1886

HORATIO KING, Autograph Letter Signed, to George William Curtis, August 31, 1886, West Newton, Massachusetts. 4 pp., 5" x 8"  Small tear on center fold; very good.

 

Excerpts

“A few days ago, on finishing the perusal of the last instalment of Mr Charles Dudley Warner’s entertaining and well written story, ‘Their Pilgrimage,’ in the number of Harper’s Magazine for September, which brought him to mind, I wrote to him that I was ‘moved by the spirit’ to write a letter to him, which I marked ‘private.’ His prompting was my excuse, and, saying I was anxious to see suitable men put in nomination by both parties—and with some remarks intended to be facetious, touching my ‘liberality’ in asking him to aid me, a democrat, in endeavouring to secure the nomination of a good and true man as the Republican candidate for President in the next campaign. I went on to say that every one of the prominent republican aspirants should be dismissed—‘retired’—once for all: Blaine, Sherman, and Logan, for good and sufficient reasons well known to the country; Edmunds, because unpopular with a large section of his party; and Evarts, because, neither as Sec’y of State nor as Senator had he shown that he possesses the necessary qualifications for President of the United States.”

 

“I then named a candidate Joseph R. Hawley, as the man in whose favor much could be said, and against him nothing except that he is a member of the republican party—an excusable objection—with that party. I added, that of course he (Mr. W.) could not consistently move openly in this matter, but that friends outside could and should move in it ‘Verbum Sap.’”

 

“I am ‘moved’ to make this disclosure to you as another step, I hope, in the right direction, whether you shall advocate the reelection of Cleveland, or not.”

 

Historical Background

Horatio King writes of the upcoming presidential election, more than two years in the future, and despairs of the traditional Republican candidates—1884 Republican nominee James G. Blaine of Maine, Senator John Sherman of Ohio, and Civil War General and Senator John A. Logan of Illinois—all of whom had received votes at the 1884 Republican National Convention. He also dislikes the idea of the candidacy of Vermont Senator George F. Edmunds or former Secretary of State and current U.S. Senator William M. Evarts of New York. 

 

Instead, King favors Joseph R. Hawley, former Governor of and current U.S. Senator from Connecticut. Like Curtis, Hawley was a champion of civil service reform to bring expertise and competence to government service rather than mere party loyalty. Hawley continued to serve in the U.S. Senate until weeks before his death in 1905.

 

In 1888, Republicans nominated Benjamin Harrison of Indiana, who with his running mate Levi P. Morton of New York, defeated incumbent Grover Cleveland in the Electoral College, though they polled fewer popular votes than Cleveland. Cleveland returned to the Presidency in 1893 by defeating Harrison in another close race in 1892.

 

Horatio King (1811-1897) was born in Maine and published a newspaper there as a young man. He moved to Washington, D.C., in 1839 and obtained a clerk’s position in the post office department. In 1854, he was appointed Assistant Postmaster General. When Joseph Holt moved from the position of Postmaster General to Secretary of War in January 1861, King became Postmaster General for a month at the end of President James Buchanan’s administration. He remained in Washington during the Civil War and served on the commission to implement emancipation in the District of Columbia. After the war, he practiced law in Washington and served as an officer of the Washington Monument Society in the 1880s. In 1895, he published an account of the final months of the Buchanan administration.

 

George William Curtis (1824-1892) was born in Rhode Island and grew up in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York. He became sympathetic to the Transcendental movement and joined Brook Farm from 1842 to 1843. He traveled in Europe, Egypt, and Syria, until 1850, when he returned to New York and worked for the New York Tribune. He also wrote for other publications and became a popular lecturer. He helped to found the Republican Party in 1856 and supported John C. Fremont’s presidential campaign that year. In 1863, Curtis became the political editor of Harper’s Weekly and contributed to Harper’s Magazine essays under the title of “The Easy Chair.” In 1871, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed him to chair a commission to reform civil service. He also served as president of the National Civil Service Reform League. In 1884, he refused to support James G. Blaine and broke with the Republican Party by supporting the election of Democrat Grover Cleveland. Thereafter, he was independent in politics.

 

 



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