July 1996 Newsletter
by Margaret Sherman Lutzvick
One of the highlights of visiting early Ontario County is to see the many old farmsteads still standing. Especially intriguing is that it was the only permanent home that Tiverton, Rhode Island born Humphrey Sherman (1758 - 1812) (David, Ebenezer, Samuel, Phillip) built for his family in East Palmyra. In 1823 when Ontario split into other counties the farm became located in Wayne County.
Humphrey first went to the area in 1794, and in a few short months his wife, Mary Durfee Sherman, died leaving him with eleven children. He succeeded to build a log cabin for a temporary home in spite of the trials of single parenting, ongoing inclement wilderness conditions, and Indian uprisings. Two years after his arrival he married Mary Howell, and together they had seven more children - three of whom were born before their permanent house was built.
In 1801 Humphrey and his oldest sons built the farmstead that was to remain in the family for the next 24 years. The home was built just a little up the hill from where the log cabin stood in the front and atop a view of the lower farmlands and a creek in the back. It was from his new home that he ran his farm, blacksmith shop, and a tavern. The house was a regular stopping off place for travelers. When the passengers disembarked from the stagecoach and entered the house the women went to the right where the ladies tearoom was, and the men went to the left where the Tavern was.
After Humphrey's death in 1812 his brothers David and Gideon Sherman moved from nearby Marion to the Palmyra farm, and together along with Humphrey's sons Gideon and Stephen they ran the vast holdings that Humphrey had left. After Humphrey's son Gideon died in 1824, his brothers David and Gideon moved back to Marion, and the farm in East Palmyra began to come into others' hands. First Caleb Beal owned the house, and had it remodeled in 1863 by a carpenter named Nathan W. Taylor. Nathan left his mark on a kitchen doorframe that remains there today. To wit:
"Nathan W. Taylor put up this finish July 24, 1863, and I was drafted the 23 of July to go and fight and I don't care a damb...on this job I stuch a rusty nail in my foot whitch made me go Hoot te toot."
When the brick East Palmyra First Presbyterian church was built across the street in 1843, the old wooden church was moved across the street to the Beals' property. It remains there today and is now used as a barn.
The house passed from the Beals family to the Hoad family in 1939, and over the years much remodeling was done. Boards and plaster were torn off walls, and the original planks were refinished. The tavern is now a living room, the ladies tearoom is now a dining room, and some little rooms - probably bedrooms for all of those children - are now parts of other rooms. The upstairs bedrooms, complete with (non working) fireplaces, expose the original beams placed there by the Shermans. During remodeling some fireplaces that had been bricked over were soon discovered. The most interesting one is in the kitchen where the original cooking crane remains. As well, there is a wonderful baking oven just up and to the right of the fireplace. While the house has been restored to its original state - with modern conveniences of course - some things have never been changed. For example, the basement water cistern is still there, as well as the original foundation, and the very durable brick and cement work for the six fireplace chimneys. One has to see it to truly appreciate what a wonderful job one of early Ontario County ancestors did almost two hundred years ago.
Humphrey Sherman, both of his wives, almost all of his children, their spouses, their spouses' families, and some of their children are buried only a short two blocks away in the East Palmyra Cemetery.
Margaret Sherman Lutzvick is the author of Going to Palmyra; Sherman Deeds. Gateway Press, INC., Baltimore, MD. Copyright 1997
Published in SOY Newsletter, July 1996
Written by Bob Cook firstname.lastname@example.org
September 1, 1894 dawned sunny and hot. Hot and dry as it had been all summer long. Fred and Noble Sherman were already sweating as they trudged the mile to town. Noble grumbled about the heat, knowing he'd soon be complaining about the cold. It seemed like that much of the time in Minnesota either too hot or too cold.
It was however, a great climate for trees. It was the seemingly limitless pine forests that had lured the brothers to settle a mile north of Hinckley, located midway between St. Paul and Duluth. Forests meant jobs transforming trees on the stump to lumber loaded on the freight train. It meant hard but steady work for strong men willing to work hard for their dollar. Lumbering gave a man a chance to complain about the weather, instead of having his entire fortune tied to it, as it was with farming. Noble and Fred knew the desperateness of failed farms and were content to trade their hard labor in the sawmill for the security steady work provided. Life was tough but they were willing enough to work for a living and raise their young families in the midst of the great pine forests of the upper mid-west.
The writing is now faint and the hand requires some concentration to read but Noble's name appears on the 1860 Town of Bloomer, Montcalm County, Michigan census sheet - scribed on the 11th of July 1860. Dwelling #465 family #69 - Noble is listed as 3/12 years old, the fifth child of William R. Sherman a farmer and Diana; both originally from New York. William was an original settler of Bloomer and in the spring of 1852 had been one of nineteen who voted in the town's first election. Some time after 1860 the family spent a series of trying years moving. First to Wisconsin, then on to Kansas where they lived in a sod house until a drought and failed farm forced them to leave. By 1885 William and the remaining children had re-settled near Bloomer, Michigan.
Fred was born in 1863 and endured the moves and what must have been difficult times growing up. He was 23 when he married 16 year old Eva Fisk in the Methodist Episcopal Church in Gratiot County, Michigan on November 14, 1886. Eva was the sister of Noble's wife Albina. At some point the two brothers and their sister wives headed together to make themselves a new life in the forests outside Hinckley.
Both families grew and on that Saturday, heading for work at the Brennan Lumber Company, the two left behind a combined nine children. Each of the men had an oldest child aged seven. Noble's a girl, Flora, and Fred's a boy named Ralph. They also had one-year old sons named after their grandfathers. Noble's son Romanzo named after the wives' father. Fred's young William shared his name with his paternal grandfather. Fred had three other children; Earl 6, George 4, and Bina age 2. Noble had two other sons; John age 5, and Leslie now 3 years old.
It had been a dry summer across much of the country, with a series of fires throughout the forestland of the northern mid-west. Slash left by loggers would catch fire from trains or other machinery and smolder for days, creating thick smoke, which blanketed small towns like Hinckley. The smoke had been so dense and pervasive that at times it had even interfered with shipping on the Great Lakes. Despite their worn out state of unease, people near the forests no longer worried too much about heavy smoke or small fires in the area.
That morning the road, usually damp with dew was instead dry and dusty and the acrid smell of smoke from smoldering slash clung thickly to the pines lining the way. Fred and Noble's shirts were already darkening with sweat as they passed the gates of the mill. They mingled with others for a few minutes before putting their lunch pails away and heading off to their areas. At 7:00 a.m. the whistle blew, signaling the start of another routine ten hour day.
By lunchtime it was clear the day would be anything but routine. The mill shutdown early to free men up to fight numerous small stump fires, which were sending sparks into lumber piles. Others remained at the mill moving barrels of water or extinguishing small flare-ups in the sawdust. The small fires produced a lot of smoke and by noon the sun was little more than a smudgy red orb. Nearby buildings began to take on ghost-like appearances while inside, lamps were lit to stave off the darkness.
There was a lot of activity but the several small fires all remained under control. At home Eva and Albina were busy with the mountain of Saturday chores and coping with hot and cranky children. Sometime after one o'clock they were startled to hear in the distance the alarm signalling a fire in town.
At the bell the firemen assembled at the firehouse and started up the new steam engine. Fred and Noble left the mill and plunged into the growing chaos in the streets of Hinckley. Excited by the activity, they each joined a separate group aiding the firemen in battling some fires in town.
About an hour later the smoke thinned and lifted over the town. The view was like looking through a pale yellow glass, the sky now brightening a bit but the smoky haze still distorting colors. Fred's group had doused their fire and he took advantage of the respite to cross over the Grindstone River for home. Near the train station a cautious few were waiting to catch the next train to Duluth. Noble, along with others, began to relax thinking that maybe the worst of the fire threat was over. He talked for a time with some friends, then turned and headed for home.
Suddenly, a curtain of thick black smoke rolled over the town blackening the sky. Strong winds howled down and sparks seem to erupt from everywhere. Stunned, then frightened, Noble hurried on towards home but was delayed by the gathering crowd as he passed near the train station. Swept up in the moment he joined others rushing to stave off the fire from consuming buildings in the southwest part of town.
Pandemonium erupted. Fires were flaming everywhere, ignited by blowing embers and fanned by the intensifying wind. Moments later message was received that the town of Brook Park about 10 miles to the southwest had burned completely and lives had been lost. Within half an hour the fire had intensified to the point where hoses began to burn and fire chief Craig ordered the men to abandon the equipment and head for their families and safety.
It was now around 3:30 and the very gates of hell seemed to be breaking open. The noise of the wind was deafening as it increased to gale force and intense heat began to singe uncovered skin. The sky was black as midnight, lit only by glowing sparks, firebrands and fireballs shooting into the air. Great booms from exploding gases shook the ground, further panicking the mob in the street.
The shrill whistle of the train pulling out of the smoking depot sounded as Noble ran in a panic north through town away from the flames sweeping behind him. He was slowed then swept east by people spilling out from the vacated train station. Nearby, the outside of a house seemed to simply melt away, revealing a brief glimpse of the interior furnishings before they burst into flames. He rushed with frenzied others to an abandoned gravel pit nearby. Splashing into the water he looked back and saw a great wall of fire erupt a few hundred yards to the north, blocking the bridge, isolating him from his family and dashing his lingering hope of getting home.
Wading to deeper water Noble passed a trembling deer, stumbled over a cow and stopped near a sobbing mother holding her child's head above the water. The deafening roar of the inferno dampened the noise of shouts, curses, prayers, screams and animal shrieks. Covering his head with his soaked shirt, he huddled in the water desperately wondering about his wife, children and brother's family. Shutting his eyes to the chaos, flames of hell leaping wickedly into the blackness everywhere around him. Noble crouched low, waiting to die.
About the time Noble waded into "the pit", Fred spotted the houses. Heart pounding, he sprinted in the lowering darkness through the sparks of advancing fire towards his place. At that same moment Eva, clutching her baby to her breast, hustled the children outside into the erupting inferno and dashed across the yard to take refuge in the root house. Through the smoke Fred saw Eva reach the cellar with the children. As Eva stumbled to the shelter she looked back and saw Fred racing towards her. Gasping for air through the thick smoke she slumped to the ground, and then cried out in terror as the three boys bolted from her and ran back into the inferno to their father.
Next door, Albina had been trying to contain her growing terror as she watched the menacing glow in the direction of Hinckley flare brighter through the smoky haze. Without warning, fireballs suddenly rolled towards the house exploding through the tops of the trees. She moved quickly with the children to take refuge in the root house across the yard. Stepping outside they were engulfed by furious heat and wind that hurled sparks down on them like rain in a torrential thunderstorm. As they ran, the roof erupted in flame.
Albina stumbled and fell with her three hysterical little ones. Flora was several yards ahead wild-eyed and screaming as she dashed on. The scene was lit by a bright unearthly evil orange glow. The roar of flames, wind, children's sobs and cracking timbers was deafening, the ground hot as an oven. Crawling, sparks raining all about, Albina coughed in the dense smoke and saw Flora, hit by a flying firebrand, fall to the ground. Gathering her others close she crawled towards Flora and almost idly wondered what had become of Noble.
And so now, do I.
Survivors from the hundred or so whose lives were spared in "the pit" reported that three distinct waves of fire passed over them. A cacophony of screams accompanied each roll of flame, searing heat and shower of cinders. The final burst of fire passed over around 5:00 p.m., about 90 minutes after they had abandoned battling the inferno in town. There was nothing left to burn. The roar of fire stopped, the wind abated, the sky lightened slightly, and a black ash "snowfall" began to sift down.
Hinckley was gone. Only the charred ruins of the new brick schoolhouse and the largely undamaged stone railroad roundhouse stood above the smouldering streets. Railroad tracks were bizarrely twisted and stood stark against the ashes, which rose and fell with the wind. Smoking rubble helped obscure the charred remains of people and animals scattered about, completing the surrealistic scene.
Sunday dawned still and gray. The green pines had disappeared, replaced by stark smoking black stumps and layers of ash. No birds chirped, few animals moved, hundreds of blackened corpses greeted the day in grotesque silence. Relief parties were on their way and survivors began the grim task of surveying the damage and identifying the dead. By afternoon a steady rain was falling, turning the mass grave being dug east of town to mud.
All of New England witnessed a "dark day" that Sunday, intense smoke from the conflagration dimming the sun. By Monday, newspaper front pages from the "Oregonian" in the west to the "New York Times" in the east along with other newspapers across the world carried reports of the destruction and tragedy. Hinckley and six other communities had been consumed by the blaze along with vast acreages of forest in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Throughout the drought stricken mid-west and northeast people lived in fear of a like event.
The horror of what Noble saw returning to his home in search of his family can be but dimly imagined. Near the smoldering rubble of what had been his house, lay five dark masses in the ash. In and around Fred's root house were seven more. The grisly scene is briefly recorded in the Pine County Coroners Report:
249. Sherman, Mrs. Albina... Age 26. Married. Resident of Hinckley. Wife of Noble Sherman. Found near the house. Identified by her breastpin and other jewelry. Reported by Noble Sherman, her husband, who then moved to Riverdale, Michigan.
250. Sherman, Romanzo... Age 1. Son of Noble and Albina Sherman. Found with his mother. Family was buried in Hinckley.
251. Sherman, Leslie... Age 3. Son of Noble and Albina.
252. Sherman, John... Age 5. Son of Noble and Albina. Found with his mother.
253. Sherman, Flora... Age 7. Daughter of Noble and Albina. Found near her mother. Identified by Father.
254. Sherman, Fred... Age 31. Married. Resided one mile north of Hinckley. Husband of Eva Sherman. Found 80 rods from house. Identified by knife etc. Reported by Noble Sherman.
255. Sherman, Mrs. Eva... Age 24. Wife of Fred. Found in root house. Buried in Hinckley.
256. Sherman, William... Age 1. Son of Fred and Eva. Found with his parents. Buried in Hinckley.
257. Sherman, Bina... Age 2. Daughter of Fred and Eva. Found with parents.
258. Sherman, George... Son of Fred and Eva. Age 4. Found near his father.
259. Sherman, Earl... Age 6. Son of Fred and Eva. Found near his father. Buried in Hinckley.
260. Sherman, Ralph... Age 7. Son of Fred and Eva. Found with his father.
Many who had lost all material goods stayed on to rebuild Hinckley and see the town rise like a phoenix from the ashes; but Noble slipped away like a ghost leaving only a two-entry relief record in a forgotten file and a dimly remembered family tale.
On September 5th just four days after the fire, Noble was issued a set of clothes valued at $5.00 in the nearby town of Pine City. The next day he received $3.50 in cash and a train ticket to Riverdale, Michigan; near the home of both his and Albina's parents.
The mass grave where the remains of the 12 Shermans are interred, was consecrated in 1900 by a 60 ton tapering shaft of gray granite more than 50 feet high. It is dedicated to the memory of 418 men, women and children who perished in and around Hinckley during the two hour fire of September 1, 1894.
Noble's fate is less clearly marked. It's said that he lived the lonely life of a sheepherder in Idaho for much of the rest of his life before returning in his later years to Michigan and marrying Flora, another brother's ex-wife. The horrors of the fire must surely have blackened his heart long after the perished were laid to rest. It is not hard to imagine that Noble's fate as the lone survivor of this close-knit pairing of siblings and offspring proved a cruel burden. Maybe, in reconstructing the tragedy, the burden now shared, is finally laid to rest.
Published in SOY newsletter – July 1996
John had a lively, careless disposition that was trying to teachers and foster parents alike. His education, divided between Lancaster and Mt. Vernon, where he lived for four years with John Sherman, a cousin of his father, gave him little taste for the college life that was planned for him. He developed a liking for mathematics and surveying, left school at fourteen to work on canal improvements, and at sixteen had grown men working under him, constructing a dam. Fortunately for him, defeat of the Whigs by the Democrats in 1839 led to his dismissal.
After a few months of roistering, a change came over him. Helped by material influences, dormant ambitions (inherited from six generations of parental ancestors) addicting him to the law and public service, were awakened. A new Sherman emerged -- one who realized that Ohio, lush with expansion, was a fertile field for well directed purpose. He substituted extreme self-control for careless abandon, and in1840 set himself studying law under his uncle, Judge Jacob Parker, and his eldest brother, Charles Taylor Sherman, at Mansfield. In this field, his father's repute and his wide family connections proved stimulating and useful.
Thus arbitrarily shortening his period of immaturity and dependence, Sherman gained an early start on his career. Before formal admission to the bar on 10 May 1844, he was doing much of a full-fledged lawyer's work. Also he launched into business, proving competent as partner in a lumber concern and buying real estate wisely. His rise to local prominence was attested by his marriage 31 August 1848 to Margaret Sarah Cecilia, the only child of a prominent Mansfield lawyer, Judge James Stewart. The Shermans had no children, but adopted a daughter.
Not content with country-town law and business, Sherman entered state politics. Loss of a job at Democratic hands in 1839 had scarcely cooled his ardor for Whiggery in 1840. Thereafter, he presented himself faithfully at Ohio Whig conclaves, and he attended the national conventions of 1848 and 1852. He ran for no elective office until 1854, when the wave of anti-Nebraska sentiment carried him into the federal House of Representatives, along with many other comparatively unknown young men.
Unlike most of these, however, Sherman of Ohio remained an official part of the Washington scene continuously through nearly half a century; as Representative, 1855-61; as Senator, 1861-77; as Secretary of the Treasury, 1877-81; as Senator, 1881-97; as Secretary of State, 1897-98. This was an astounding feat, considering the fact that during these years, Ohio four times elected a Democratic governor and thrice sent Sherman a Democratic colleague in the Senate.
The explanation lies in Sherman's temperament and situation. His heritage, his mother's oft-repeated precepts, his victory over youthful excesses, and his quick success in local law and business combined to overlay his naturally hot temper with a cautious reserve that was excellently adapted to Ohio's uncertainties.
Economically, the conservative, creditor point of view became his personal preference; but, politically, he understood the radical debtor psychology that flourished among his constituents during the three major and four minor depressions that punctuated his tenure of office. He carefully studied the attitude of the Middle West and helped stamp national legislation with the influence of that area. While he compromised his conservative personal preferences with more radical demands from the Ohio electorate, the East was compromising with the West on each piece of major legislation. Thus he and his work became typical of his political generation.
He had been elected in 1854 because he was a compromise candidate on whom the warring factions could agree. Similar to George Washington, his more moderate utterances on slavery contrasted with those of men like Joshua R. Giddings and Owen Lovejoy and quickly aided his rise. Membership on a House committee investigating unsavory Kansas affairs was exploited. Sherman wrote a report, scoring the Democracy and all its Kansas works, which was used effectively in the 1856 campaign (House Report No, 200, 34 Congress, First session, "Kansas Affairs").
He became a hard working and effective laborer in the young Republican vineyard and, at the beginning of his third term (5 December 1859), was the caucus nominee for speaker. A forgotten endorsement carelessly given Helper's 'Impending Crisis" deprived him of the coveted honor, and increased thereafter his leaning toward compromise and caution in legislative matters. The successful candidate, William Pennington, adopted Sherman's committee slate and named him chairman of the Ways and Means committee. Here his tariff convictions insured equitable relations with Eastern Republicans; from loyalty to party he never deviated.
Campaign labors of 1860 fortified Sherman further, making him, in spite of Ohio's Republican factions, the successor to Senator Chase, whom Lincoln elevated to the Treasury. On a widened stage the tall, spare, impressive junior senator was ready to play his part, especially in his favorite field of finance, for he at once became a member (and in 1867 became chairman) of the finance committee. In the din of war, with its necessities, he helped give the greenbacks the status of legal tender; but he never completely forgot that there must be a day of reckoning, that order must be wrought out of a chaotic currency. He sometimes tried to encourage a policy of "paying as you go" and led in planning, with Secretary Chase, the national banking system (embodied in the act of 25 February 1863). If Sherman's program of economies and rigorous taxation, especially incomes taxes, had seemed politically expedient, fewer bond and greenback issues might have sprouted during the war. As it was he quieted his uneasiness over the greenbacks by reiterating the popular doctrine that the country would "grow up to" the expended currency.
On the reconstruction issue, war between Sherman's personal preferences and popular dicta waged unremittingly, for political rivalries in Ohio, as elsewhere, imposed irrational tests of party loyalty and defined patriotism without humanity. His desire for moderation was sufficiently known for many Southerners to write him concerning tolerance, and he spoke out against the fiery Sumner's program. But he did not carry his efforts at moderation so far from the radical path as to stray outside the confines of dominant Republicanism. Opposing Thaddeus Stevens' drastic military reconstruction plan, he advanced a little less vigorous substitute, which became law 2 March 1867; and he voted for most of the radical program.
For his former friend, Andrew Johnson, Sherman openly expressed sympathy; he admired Johnson's "combative propensity", and asserted his right to removed Stanton. But, knowing the ostracism suffered by the President's supporters, he voted to convict him. When seven other Republicans prevented conviction, he felt "entirely satisfied".
On post-war finance Sherman dominated national policy, because of his Senate chairmanship, his interest, and his ability. Like most congressmen, he was swayed by the strong tide of inflationist sentiment, although as a private individual he cherished anti- inflationist desires. He saw in the cancellation of greenbacks the most direct route to specie resumption and declared that a beneficial fall in prices must mark resumption; yet on those very grounds he opposed McCulloch's currency contraction policies of 1866 and 1868. The Middle West being then strongly inflationary, he claimed that resumption would speedily come if the government merely met current obligations. The greenbacks outstanding, he thought, were not too much for the condition of the country. When public opinion blames McCulloch's contraction policy for the stringency of 1868, Sherman said contraction should cease in deference to that opinion. He realized that national credit must be safeguarded by resumption as soon as political conditions permitted. He entertained dreams of financial reforms international in scope, aiding Emperor Napoleon Ill's scheme for a stable, unified currency among the great trading nations. His work on the funding act of 14 July 1870 reduced the burden of public interest and helped restore national credit. While the dollar was still at a premium, he pushed the mint-reform bill, which ended the coinage of silver dollars, so that after silver fell he was labeled the arch marplot of the "Crime of '73". On the resumption act of 14 January 1875, he had to yield his won excellent plan of funding greenbacks into bonds, for the substitute of George F. Edmunds. His preeminence in financial matters, and his aid to Hayes' candidacy, made him the natural choice for the Treasury in 1877.
As Secretary of the Treasury, Sherman occupied a congenial place, for responsibility for the national finances gave rein to his native skill at economical management and deafened him to inflationist outcry. He strengthened the resumption act by his interpretation of it, declaring that it empowered the secretary to issue bonds after, as well as before, resumption; and, in the face of congressional clamor, he convinced hard-headed bankers that the government would redeem its bonds in gold, thus immensely enhancing national prestige. He disappointed bankers who were confidently expecting concessions from the government and amazed them by discarding their advice and achieving sale abroad at a bond price above that of the open market. Thoroughly informing himself beforehand, he coolly bargained with London and New York syndicates and bankers, playing them off against one another, even when they fought him in the gold market and when exchange rates and London discounts went against him. He facilitated direct sales to investors, independent of syndicates. The loans of 1878 and 1879 were especially skillful.
Sherman's statesmanship while Secretary was proved by the political obstacles he surmounted. The political odds against him in Hayes' administration were terrific. Hayes' title to office was uncertain, the House was Democratic for four years and the Senate for two, and the populace was discouraged by a wearisome depression. Business failures, especially in the West, increased in Sherman's first and second years, while mine-owners and inflationists joined hands in a concerted effort to obtain "free silver". With both parties torn sectionally on this issue, it appeared late in 1877 that inflation politics would prevent Sherman from attaining his main objective - resumption of specie payments and funding of the public debt. The House stopped resumption operations temporarily by passing two bills: Bland's for a silver dollar with unlimited legal tender and unlimited coinage, and Ewing's bill for indefinite postponement of the date of resumption. While those bills awaited Senate action, Sherman's Republican successor, Stanley Matthews, fathered a concurrent resolution declaring government bonds payable in silver; and both houses passed it, thus humiliating Sherman. However, divisions among inflationists ultimately gave Sherman sufficient support to defeat the more extreme objectives of Bland and Ewing.
The Bland-Allison act (28 February 1878) stipulated a limited coinage of silver, rather than free coinage; and - instead of postponing resumption indefinitely - Congress on 31 May 1878 forbade further retirement of greenbacks. Sherman has been severely criticized for failure to oppose the Matthews resolution originally, or to support Hayes' veto of the Bland-Allison bill. Faced by a fiscal and political exigency, he labored to obtain maximum concessions from the extremists. He judged resumption and funding might be achieved, in spite of Bland-Allison dollars and of 348,000,000 outstanding greenbacks; and they were.
After the passage of the silver bill, Sherman helped to rally conservative support behind the administrations, and the insurgents were somewhat discredited in the 1878 elections. Henceforward, comparatively free from the opposition that had been hounding him, and aided by favorable trade developments, he carefully protected the final preparations for resumption. He had the New York sub-treasury made a member of the clearinghouses at Boston and New York, and made payments to the government receivable in either legal tenders or coin. Consequently, the premium on gold disappeared after nearly seventeen years, and on 2 January 1879 specie payment were smoothly resumed, to the general astonishment.
Whether of not Sherman could continue specie payments thereafter depended upon the demand for gold. The law of 31 May 1878, to which he had agreed, not only stopped cancellation of legal tenders redeemed in gold, but also had directed their reissue. Later, realizing the potential drain, he fabricated a theory that notes once redeemed need not be reissued when the gold reserve became less that 40 per cent of outstanding notes. Fortunately for him, rain swept Britain and Europe in 1879 had to buy huge quantities of American wheat, corn, and cotton, paying in gold. Trade rebounded beautifully, and specie payments seemed so secure that the Secretary described legal tenders as "the best circulating medium known". Not so the Bland-Allison dollars. They soon worried Sherman, since their intrinsic worth was declining, businessmen were forcing them back on the government, and treasury channels were so choked with them as to threaten the placing of the United States on the silver standard. The Secretary made a futile plea to Congress to impose new limitation on their coinage. Then a rise in interior trade temporarily removed his apprehension and he soon returned to the Senate and to his political point of view on silver. As the end of his cabinet service approached, the United States still stood on the gold standard. Resumption was an admitted success.
The most distinguished phase of Sherman's career was closing, but he did not suspect it. He planned further achievements in the White House - refunding the public debt at lower interest, perfecting disbursements, settling the silver question without banishing gold or displacing paper, reducing taxes, freeing the civil service from "infernal scramble", breaking down sectionalism in party politics, and turning politics from outworn war issues to "business and financial interests and prosperity". His dreams were of the stuff that made the inner man, but his success at resumption had made him a failure as a candidate for the presidential nomination. He felt that the business class in general and the party in particular owed him the office; but the unparalleled prosperity that he had helped to create made Republican victory in 1880 so certain as to insure bitter competition for the nomination. Poorly organized Sherman forces, although they helped defeat the unit rule, could not rout the Grant phalanx, or match the Blame magnetism. Worse, ten Ohio delegates stubbornly refused to vote for Sherman. The nomination fell to the popular and available Garfield, whose presence at Chicago Sherman had thought essential to his own success. In 1880, as in 1888, and to a less degree in 1884, Sherman failed of the nomination because he lacked the unscrupulousness in the use of patronage, color in personality and appeal, cordial unity in the Ohio delegation, and skill in manipulating politicians, and because he had an abundance of inflationist opposition. In 1888 he reached the exciting total of 249 votes on the second ballot; but the thread of Ohio intrigue, torturously unwinding through the correspondence of Foraker, Garfield, Hanna, Hayes, McKinley, and Sherman, shows how futile was his dearest hope.
Through his second period of sixteen years in the Senate (1881-97) Sherman played the role of prominent politician, so cast by his adaptation to the plot of the play in Ohio and in the nation at large. Ohio gave him Garfield's seat only after a contest and he had to keep watch lest he should be shelved, 1879 and later, with the governorship. Democrats won the state thrice, but luckily Republicans controlled when he came up for reelection in 1885. In 1892 he succeeded in postponing the candidacy of Foraker (until 1896).
In national politics also, the atmosphere was one of continual uneasiness. Neither Republicans nor Democrats obtained simultaneous control of the House, the Senate, and the presidency for more than a single period of two years during this time. All the political veterans were confused by uncertainties rising from the economic revolution, and by cleavages between East and West that were disruptive of party strength. In such a situation Sherman's services seemed indispensable, because of his long experience in legislative compromise, his understanding of Western demands, and his reputation for astuteness in estimating reactions. The newer group of Senate managers - Nelson W. Aldrich, Eugene Hale, O.H. Platt, and John C. Spooner - left Sherman out of much of their basic planning for he, unlike William B. Allison, never joined them on terms of close intimacy. When the time came to compromise with the West, they leaned heavily on him.
He functioned most strikingly in connection with the Anti-Trust and Silver-Purchase laws of 1890. The final draft of the first came from the pen of Edmunds, and the important purchase provisions of the second never had Sherman's hearty approval - but on the one he carries the responsibility, for the finance committee, of initiating tentative drafts during two experimental years (1888-90), and on the other he so adjusted a conference committee stalemate between the two Houses as to save his party from a silver veto and from defeat of the McKinley tariff. Then, as often during his legislative career, the immediate political exigency faced by him and his fellow partisans warped his judgment on "sound" currency and the protection of the Treasury.
Republican colleagues honored Sherman with the position of president pro tempore (1885-87) and listened deferentially whenever the famous ex-Secretary spoke on finance. He was important in campaigns as keynoter on currency and tariff subjects. Insistence of Ohio wool- growers on protection led him into yeoman s service regimenting Middle- Western Republicans behind a high tariff. His assignment (1886) to the chairmanship of the foreign relations committee proved none too congenial. On minor issues he shifted his position, not always in conformity with popular trends. His economic philosophy always remained basically conservative; for example he favored general regulation of interstate commerce but questioned the right of Congress to establish maximum and minimum rates and opposed the prohibition of pooling.
After he recovered from his nomination fiasco of 1888. Sherman was content in the familiar Senate environment. There was leisure for profitable business undertakings, a never-forgotten sense of service, long evenings alone in his peaceful study, and later preoccupation with the work, published in two volumes in 1895 as "John Sherman's Recollections of Forty Years in the House, Senate and Cabinet". In 1879 he published "selected Speeches and Reports on Finance and Taxation from 1858 to 1878". Things might have drifted into the usual peaceful Senate demise if Hanna and the embarrassed McKinley had not translated Sherman to the State Department to give Hanna a Senate seat. In the unaccustomed place, under stress of Cuban excitements, it became all too evident that Sherman had a growing and humiliating weakness of memory, which incapacitated him for functioning out of his usual routine. The fur-seal, Hawaiian, and Spanish negotiations were taken out of his hands. When the cabinet decided for war with Spain he rose to the defense of his anti-expansionist views, and resigned in protest. Two years of unhappy private life ensued before his death.
[Note: Robert cannot recall where this article came from, but suspects it was from the National Archives. We are anxious to give appropriate credit, if anyone can locate the original source. The photo of Sen. Sherman comes from the site of the National Archives, thanks to Sherman Thompson.]