Sunday, October 16, 2022

Planted some tomatoes

Today marks the centenary of the birth of the great British variety performer Max Bygraves. From humble origins, he rose steadily to the top of the show business world successfully releasing many albums, playing many times at the London Palladium and hosting his own television shows. He also wrote several autobiographical works; one of these is half filled with extracts from diaries he kept in 1996 and 1997. ‘One thing that is noticeable about my diaries of the past,’ he says in one entry, ‘is that they all start off with good intentions - the months of January and February are always quite full with entries, but then I either get lazy, or else nothing noteworthy seems to happen. When the summer arrives I only ever seem to jot down such entries as ‘golf’, ‘laid in garden’ or ‘planted some tomatoes’, etc, etc.’

Walter William Bygraves was born in London on 16 October 1922 where he grew up in a council flat with five siblings. His father was a boxer and a casual dockworker. Walter was educated locally, but sang with a choir at Westminster Cathedral. He left school at 14, working as a pageboy in a hotel, then as a messenger. During the war, he served as fitter in the Royal Air Force as well as working as a carpenter. After the war, he was employed on building sites, but he also worked as an entertainer in pubs during the evenings. He changed his first name to Max in honour of the comedian Max Miller. He married Gladys (Blossom) Murray in 1942, and they had three children. (Though Bygraves also had three children from extra-marital affairs.)

In the summer of 1946, Bygraves toured in a variety show with Frankie Howerd, who introduced him to Eric Sykes. With Sykes, he began writing scripts and developed a radio show - Educating Archie. In 1950, he made his first appearance at the London Palladium, supporting Abbott and Costello; the following year he did the same for Judy Garland who then invited him to perform at the Palace in New York. The 1950s saw Bygraves release seven top ten hits, many of them novelty songs, appear in several films and on television. By 1961 he was famous enough for Eamonn Andrews to feature him on This Is Your Life. In the 1970s he released several very successful albums, and appeared more often on TV shows - he hosted Family Fortunes (having taken over from his friend Bob Monkhouse) between 1983 and 1985.

Bygraves and Blossom retired to Australia, but he was coaxed out of retirement for a series of tours with the Beverly Sisters in 2002, then for a farewell set of performances in 2006. Bygraves published several books, from a novel (The Milkman's on His Way, 1977) to autobiographical works such as Stars in My Eyes: A Life in Show Business, 2002). He collected 31 gold discs in total and was appointed OBE in 1983. He died in Australia 2012, the year after his wife. Further information is available online from Wikipedia, The Guardian obituary and All Music.

In 1997 Breedon Books brought out Max Bygraves In His Own Words. The first six chapters of this are written as conventional autobiography covering the extent of his life through to 1996 (when he was in his mid-70s). In chapter 20, Bygraves reflects on his friendships and relationships with other ‘stars’, and in chapter 21 he focuses particularly on The London Palladium (which he played so often). And, in two of the final chapters he reflects on his life more generally. But, more than half of the book - chapters 7-18 - is filled with extracts from diaries he kept in 1996-1997 - i.e. the year or so directly prior to publication of the book. A copy can be digitally borrowed at Internet Archive. Here’s a couple of extracts in which he mulls over his diary writing habits and expresses sympathy for John Profumo.

31 December 1996
‘Today we say farewell to 1996 - tomorrow a brand new year. I am going for my last swim of ’96 as soon as I have made this entry in my large new desk diary one of the nicest I have ever had. It reminds me of that large five-year diary that my father gave me on the day I joined the RAF back in 1940. It is on moments like these that his words come back to me: “Anything worth remembering, jot down! You’ll never regret it.”

When he eventually died, almost 20 years ago, we continually discovered old Woodbine packets and small bits of paper with the day’s events, neatly dated and written down in his own particular brand of shorthand: “Feb 19 - Tram strike, w Bellamys. ND hand plast - mend pumps”. Deciphered, this read: “There was a tram strike and so I walked to Bellamy’s Wharf. There was no work (ND - nothing doing). His hand was in plaster but he managed to do a repair job on his boots (mend pumps)”.

I have two regrets and may possibly do something about them in 1997. One is that I should have learned shorthand, and the other is to type as competently as Jennifer, my assistant. To her it comes as easy as ABC. I write in long-hand, pass it to her and, shortly afterward, she hands me a pristine copy. I never cease to marvel at lyrics that I have dashed off in a way that sometimes even I can’t read - and yet Jennifer nonchalantly hands them back to me complete and neat - and I am so impressed! I look at my scribble, which is now beautifully typed, and think what a genius I am, thank you Jennifer ... and your word-processor!

The old year is going with a flourish. The plants and bushes have never looked more radiant. In full bloom, the tippichina trees and poincianas make the grounds here at Attunga Park into a wonderland. It is hard to stand at the entrance and not feel the poem that has been carved in stone in so many gardens all around the world. I read the words by the bird bath that Bloss put in place more than five years ago ...

The kiss of the sun for pardon.
The song of the birds for mirth.
You are nearer God’s heart in a garden,
Than anywhere else on earth.

I once asked a gardener who had written those words, but it seems that it was by that writer named Anonymous. It’s a shame to think of all the pleasure his or her words have given and yet have to miss out on the copyright!

It is hot - 85 degrees - not a bird in sight it is much cooler to stay in the trees. Now and again a crow squawks. The news is that Europe is experiencing the worst winter in a decade with quite a few old people dying. The protest marches in Belgrade have dwindled because the rebels can’t face the cold - and I feel so very lucky and humble that I am in a profession that allows me to travel away from all those tribulations. Mind you, we still have to watch out for sunburn, skin cancer, mosquito bites, snakes and so on, but there are few places that I would rather be.

When you are used to Christmas and the New Year being all that winter wonderland stuff that the traditional Christmas cards portray, it comes as a bit of a culture shock to spend that time in Australia. Gone are the robins, the log fires and the gentle snowflakes - instead there are parrots, barbecues and the sort of sunshine that enables you to fry eggs on the rocks. There are, of course, exceptions to even Australia’s beautiful weather.

2 January 1997
‘One thing that is noticeable about my diaries of the past is that they all start off with good intentions - the months of January and February are always quite full with entries, but then I either get lazy, or else nothing noteworthy seems to happen. When the summer arrives I only ever seem to jot down such entries as ‘golf’, ‘laid in garden’ or ‘planted some tomatoes’, etc, etc.

In the summer of my 1996 diary I am surprised to see how many blank pages there are, and not because there was nothing happening - in fact I had a most busy time. Contracted for a ten-week season at Bournemouth’s Pavilion Theatre, every show a different audience, relatives coming to stay, fly-fishing on the River Test a couple of days each week, golf with good friends like Gordon Dean, directors from the BBC in London to talk over proposed shows, phone-ins, charity appearances etc. (The strangest charity show was to cut the ribbon at a pedestrian crossing on the Poole Road, to allow old folk from a retirement home to cross without having to walk a quarter of a mile down the road to another crossing). Looking back, there are quite a few entries that I could have made interesting, so I can only plead laziness!

After cutting that tape on the Poole Road, I was invited back to the home for tea and cakes. Because I am in the business of entertainment I am usually button-holed by the senior citizens to do something about the appalling quality of programmes on television. They must think that I am some form of Mary Whitehouse. One lady, while making a point, made the company laugh when she said: “Why don’t they do something about all that swearing on TV? It’s bloody disgusting!”

I just have to stand there helpless. All I can do is nod and agree, but they think that I can just pick up the phone and say to the Director-General: “Now look here, folk don’t like four-letter words that they hear on TV. With very little being done to chastise the guilty actors and directors you should do something about it - after all, you’re the boss!”

That’s what they think that I can do. And I have to pass it all off with a shrug by saying: “It’s not bloody right is it!” A sneaky way to get out of an argument with a little of what they call comic relief.

Another entry is for May 16th. I promised to appear for Jack (known as John) Profumo at Toynbee Hall in the East End of London. John does such wonderful work at the ‘Hall’ for the poor and deprived - not just now, but for many years past. One stupid mistake forever labelled him as the man who brought down the Tory government because of the Christine Keeler affair. The country lost a very good bloke.

I knew him slightly before the Keeler affair, when he was Minister for War. It was during those days that we went to different parts of the world entertaining our troops. John was such a gentleman, and a real pleasure to talk with - he didn’t become charming after the affair. His wife, former actress Valerie Hobson, is a sweetie too. They both work hard at Toynbee Hall. You know what I’d like to do? I’d like to walk down Park Lane holding the biggest banner that I could carry, emblazoned with the words: ‘John Profumo and Co ... public benefactor . . . let’s hear it for John!’

Another entry is for Monday, April 22nd 1996. All I noted down was ‘QE2 to New York.’ This turned out to be one of the best trips ever on this lovely ship. I am not quite sure if it was my eighth or ninth voyage, but it was really enjoyable. My son Anthony came with me to help out with the lighting, look after the props, take the bandcall and be general dogsbody. He is good company and we get along well.

The other joyful part was that my good friend Gordon Dean and his attractive wife also came aboard to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary - a cruise to New York, then fly back to Heathrow on Concorde. We shared a table with two other good friends from Bournemouth - Jim and Jane, so the six of us had some splendid meals in the Queens grill. Colin, the mâitre d’ excelled - every dish was a banquet.

I did two concerts in the main lounge, which had been refurbished since our last trip. I thought that the good old QE2 had suffered badly with the publicity surrounding the fact that she had not being ready in time on a previous trip. Many of the passengers had complained and Cunard had been forced to pay out some pretty hefty sums in compensation. On this trip, however, all faults had been rectified and we were there to enjoy it. The audience appeared to enjoy my stint and I finished by doing several encores and everyone was most complimentary.’

Thursday, October 13, 2022

We crossed the equator

‘At last we anchor for the night just inside Nazareth Bay, for Nazareth Bay wants daylight to deal with, being rich in low islands and sand shoals. We crossed the Equator this afternoon.’ This is Mary Henrietta Kingsley, a Victorian traveller and explorer, born 160 years ago today. She became a respected expert on West African society and politics, and she authored two popular books based on her experiences - the first includes a few extracts from her diaries.

Kingsley was born in London on 13 October 1862, the daughter and oldest child of physician, traveller and writer George Kingsley, and niece of novelists Charles Kingsley and Henry Kingsley. The family moved to Highgate less than a year after her birth. She received little in the way of a formal education, though she did have access to her father’s large library, and she loved to listen to his travel stories. Later, once her brother Charley had been admitted to Christ’s College, Cambridge, she benefitted from his academic connections. When her parents fell infirm, it was Mary who was by their bedside, until their deaths in 1892. 

Thereafter, with a reasonable inheritance, Kingsley was able to travel herself, first to the Canary Islands, and then to explore West Africa (twice), where she often immersed herself among the native peoples. On one expedition, she travelled through the country of the Fang, a tribe with a reputation for cannibalism, having many harrowing adventures apparently. She also collected natural history samples - not least specimens of fish previously unknown to western science - for the British Museum. Through her experiences, she acquired a detailed knowledge of West African society and politics.

Back in England, Kingsley spent several years touring and giving lectures to a wide variety of audiences about life in Africa. She was the first woman to address the Liverpool and Manchester chambers of commerce; but she also ran into trouble with the church for criticising missionaries who were engaged, she felt, in corrupting local religious practices. Hugely sympathetic to the Africans’ ways of life, her views were often controversial. Wikipedia has this analysis: ‘[Her] beliefs about cultural and economic imperialism are complex and widely debated by scholars today. Though, on the one hand, she regarded African people and cultures as those who needed protection and preservation, she also believed in the necessity of British economic and technological influence and in indirect rule, insisting that there was some work in West Africa that had to be completed by white men.’

After the outbreak of the Second Boer War, Kingsley travelled to Cape Town where she volunteered as a nurse. However, she soon contracted typhoid, and she died in June 1900, not yet 40 years old. Further biographical information is available from Wikipedia, Encyclopaedia Britannica, British Empire, or The Victorian Web

Kingsley kept detailed diaries on her travels, and later published two books based on those diaries. The first - Travels in West Africa: Congo Français, Corisco and Cameroons published by Macmillan in 1897 - was an immediate best-seller, and added to her academic prestige. (This is freely available online at Internet Archive or Googlebooks). She followed it two years later with West African Studies (1899). 

The first of Kingsley’s two books includes some - rather few - extracts from her diaries, and even those fade into the main narrative, so it is not always clear where the diary extracts end. At the start of Chapter 4, she goes to some lengths to explain why she put any diary extracts in at all.

‘I MUST pause here to explain my reasons for giving extracts from my diary, being informed on excellent authority that publishing a diary is a form of literary crime. Such being the case I have to urge in extenuation of my committing it that -Firstly, I have not done it before, for so far I have given a sketchy résumé of many diaries kept by me while visiting the regions I have attempted to describe. Secondly, no one expects literature in a book of travel. Thirdly, there are things to be said in favour of the diary form, particularly when it is kept in a little known and wild region, for the reader gets therein notice of things that, although unimportant in themselves, yet go to make up the conditions of life under which men and things exist. The worst of it is these things are not often presented in their due and proper proportion in diaries. Many pages in my journals that I will spare you display this crime to perfection.’

And then she includes the first verbatim extract from her diary.

5 June 1895
‘Off on Mové at 9.30. Passengers, Mr. Hudson, Mr. Woods, Mr. Huyghens, Père Steinitz, and I. There are black deck-passengers galore; Ï do not know their honourable names, but they are evidently very much married men, for there is quite a gorgeously coloured little crowd of ladies to see them off. They salute me as I pass down the pier, and start inquiries. I say hastily to them: “Farewell, I’m off up river,” for I notice Mr. Fildes bearing down on me, and I don’t want him to drop in on the subject of society interest. I expect it is settled now, or pretty nearly. There is a considerable amount of mild uproar among the black contingent, and the Mové firmly clears off before half the good advice and good wishes for the black husbands are aboard. She is a fine little vessel; far finer than I expected. The accommodation I am getting is excellent. A long, narrow cabin, with one bunk in it and pretty nearly everything one can wish for, and a copying press thrown in. Food is excellent, society charming, captain and engineer quite acquisitions. The saloon is square and roomy for the size of the vessel, and most things, from row-locks to teapots, are kept under the seats in good nautical style. We call at the guard-ship to pass our papers, and then steam ahead out of the Gaboon estuary to the south, round Pongara Point, keeping close into the land. About forty feet from shore there is a good free channel for vessels with a light draught which if you do not take, you have to make a big sweep seaward to avoid a reef. Between four and five miles below Pongara, we pass Point Gombi, which is fitted with a lighthouse, a lively and conspicuous structure by day as well as night. It is perched on a knoll, close to the extremity of the long arm of low, sandy ground, and is painted black and white, in horizontal bands, which, in conjunction with its general figure, give it a pagoda-like appearance.

Alongside it are a white-painted, red-roofed house for the light-house keeper, and a store for its oil. The light is either a flashing or a revolving or a stationary one, when it is alight. One must be accurate about these things, and my knowledge regarding it is from information received, and amounts to the above. I cannot throw in any personal experience, because I have never passed it at night-time, and seen from Glass it seems just steady. Most lighthouses on this Coast give up fancy tricks, like flashing or revolving, pretty soon after they are established. Seventy-five percent, of them are not alight half the time at all. “It’s the climate.” Gombi, however, you may depend on for being alight at night, and I have no hesitation in saying you can see it, when it is visible, seventeen miles out to sea, and that the knoll on which the lighthouse stands is a grass-covered sand cliff, about forty or fifty feet above sea-level. As we pass round Gombi point, the weather becomes distinctly rough, particularly at lunch-time. The Mové minds it less than her passengers, and stamps steadily along past the wooded shore, behind which shows a distant range of blue hills. Silence falls upon the black passengers, who assume recumbent positions on the deck, and suffer. All the things from under the saloon seats come out and dance together, and play puss-in-the-corner, after the fashion of loose gear when there is any sea on.

As the night comes down, the scene becomes more and more picturesque. The moonlit sea, shimmering and breaking on the darkened shore, the black forest and the hills silhouetted against the star-powdered purple sky, and, at my feet, the engine-room stoke-hole, lit with the rose-coloured glow from its furnace, showing by the great wood fire the two nearly naked Krumen stokers, shining like polished bronze in their perspiration, as they throw in on to the fire the billets of redwood that look like freshly-cut chunks of flesh. The white engineer hovers round the mouth of the pit, shouting down directions and ever and anon plunging down the little iron ladder to carry them out himself. At intervals he stands on the rail with his head craned round the edge of the sun deck to listen to the captain, who is up on the little deck above, for there is no telegraph to the engines, and our gallant commanders voice is not strong. While the white engineer is roosting on the rail, the black engineer comes partially up the ladder and gazes hard at me; so I give him a wad of tobacco, and he plainly regards me as inspired, for of course that was what he wanted. Remember that whenever you see a man, black or white, filled with a nameless longing, it is tobacco he requires. Grim despair accompanied by a gusty temper indicates something wrong with his pipe, in which case offer him a straightened-out hairpin. The black engineer having got his tobacco, goes below to the stokehole again and smokes a short clay as black and as strong as himself. The captain affects an immense churchwarden. How he gets through life, waving it about as he does, without smashing it ever two minutes, I cannot make out.

At last we anchor for the night just inside Nazareth Bay, for Nazareth Bay wants daylight to deal with, being rich in low islands and sand shoals. We crossed the Equator this afternoon.’

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

They cheered lustily

Today marks the bicentenary of the birth of Rutherford B Hayes. He became the 19th president of the US, but only after one of the most controversial elections in US history, and he was one of the few presidents who kept a diary while in office. In his first entry, after finally winning the presidency, he noted that ‘the colored hack-drivers and others cheered lustily’; and that his policy would be ‘trust, peace, and to put aside the bayonet’.

Rutherford Birchard Hayes was born on 4 October 1822, in Delaware, Ohio, the son of a storekeeper who died 10 weeks before his son’s birth. His mother, Sophia Birchard, cared for him and one sister without remarrying. After briefly reading law in Columbus, Ohio, Hayes moved to Harvard Law School in 1843. He was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1845 and soon after opened his own law office. By 1851, though, he had moved to Cincinnati, and opened another law firm with a partner; and the following year he married Lucy Webb, whose Methodist, teetotal, and abolitionist beliefs would affect his own. They had three children.

In 1858, after increasingly representing slaves fleeing over the border from Kentucky, still a slave state then, Hayes found his political reputation growing. He was appointed city solicitor for Cincinnati, a post he held until 1861, when he left politics to fight in the Civil War for the Union Army. He was wounded several times, earning a reputation for bravery, and was promoted to major general. After the war, he served in the US Congress from 1865 to 1867 as a Republican, and then was elected Governor of Ohio for two consecutive terms, from 1868 to 1872. Thereafter, he returned to law for a few years before being returned again as state governor in 1876.

However, Hayes’s third term as governor was short lived since that same year he ran for president. Although he lost the popular vote to Democrat Samuel Tilden, he won the presidency after a Congressional commission awarded him 20 disputed electoral votes. The so-called Compromise of 1877 resulted in the Democrats acquiescing to Hayes’s election and Hayes accepting the end of military occupation of the South. This was one of the most contentious elections in US history.

Hayes’s presidency was characterised by meritocratic government, equal treatment without regard to race, and improvement through education. He is remembered for ordering federal troops out of Southern capitals as reconstruction came to an end, and for using troops to quell the Great Railroad Strike of 1877. He also began a process of civil service reform. He remained president until 4 March 1881, and, as he had pledged, did not seek re-election. During a period of active retirement, he continued to work towards extending children’s education and prison reform. He died in 1893. Further biographical information is available online from, among other sites, the Hayes Presidential Center, the Miller Center and Wikipedia.

Hayes kept a diary throughout his life from the age of 12 (and, apparently, was one of only three presidents to do so while in office - as far as is known). The diaries were edited by Charles Richard Williams and published in five volumes by Ohio State Archæological and Historical Society in 1922 as The Diary and Letters of Rutherford B. Hayes, Nineteenth President of the United States. These volumes are all out of copyright and available at Internet Archive. Also, the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center has made available the 3,000 pages of text in a form that can be searched by keyword or browsed page by page. 

The following extracts are taken from the Center’s website, and most of them are highlighted as ‘memorable quotes’; however, the last extract - dating to the first days of his Presidency - is taken from Volume III.

19 June 1841
‘I will put down a few of my present hopes and designs for the sake of keeping them safe. I do not intend to leave here until about a year after I graduate, when I expect to commence the study of law. Before then I wish to become a master of logic and rhetoric and to obtain a good knowledge of history. To accomplish these objects I am willing to study hard, in which case I believe I can make, at least, a tolerable debater. It is another intention of mine, that after I have commenced in life, whatever may be my ability or station, to preserve a reputation for honesty and benevolence; and if ever I am a public man I will never do anything inconsistent with the character of a true friend and good citizen. To become such a man I shall necessarily have to live in accordance with the precepts of the Bible, which I firmly believe, although I have never made them strictly the “rule of my conduct.” Thus ends this long dry chapter on self.’

27 February 1853
‘Almost two months married. The great step of life which makes or mars the whole after journey, has been happily taken. The dear friend who is to share with me the joys and ills of our earthly being grows steadily nearer and dearer to me. A better wife I never hoped to have. Our little differences in points of taste or preference are readily adjusted, and judging by the past I do not see how our tender and affectionate relations can be disturbed by any jar. She bears with my “innocent peculiarities” so kindly, so lovingly; is so studious in providing for my little wants; is - is, in short, so true a wife that I cannot think it possible that any shadow of disappointment will ever cloud the prospect,save only such calamities as are the common allotment of Providence to all. Let me strive to be as true to her as she is to me.’

6 November 1853
‘On Friday, the 4th, at 2 P. M., Lucy gave birth to our first child - a son. I hoped, and had a presentiment almost, that the little one would be a boy. How I love Lucy, the mother of my boy! Sweetheart and wife, she had been before, loved tenderly and strongly as such, but the new feeling is more “home-felt,” quiet, substantial, and satisfying. For the “lad” my feeling has yet to grow a great deal. I prize him and rejoiced to have him, and when I take him in my arms begin to feel a father’s love and interest, hope and pride, enough to know what the feeling will be if not what it is. I think what is to be his future, his life. How strange a mystery all this is! This to me is the beginning of a new life. A happy one, I believe.’

15 May 1861
‘Judge Matthews and I have agreed to go into the service for the war, if possible into the same regiment. I spoke my feelings to him, which he said were his also, viz., that this was a just and necessary war and that it demanded the whole power of the country; that I would prefer to go into it if I knew I was to die or be killed in the course of it, than to live through and after it without taking any part in it.’

14 March 1877
‘We left Columbus soon afternoon, Thursday, March 1, for Washington on a special car; having, in fact, two cars of Colonel Tom Scott, attached to the regular passenger train. In our party were William Henry Smith, ex-Governor Noyes, General Young, General Grosvenor, [and] Colonel H. C. Corbin.

The evening before, we had a reception at the State House given by the people of Columbus. A large crowd followed us to the depot. We were escorted by the college cadets. I made a short speech which was well received. Crowds met us at Newark, Dennison, Steubenville, and other points. The enthusiasm was greater than I have seen in Ohio before. At Marysville(?), near Harrisburg, we were wakened to hear the news that the two houses had counted the last State and that I was declared elected!

We reached Washington about 9:30 A. M. General and Senator Sherman met us at the depot, and we were driven directly to Senator Sherman’s house. After breakfast I called with Senator Sherman on President Grant.

It was arranged that I should in the evening, before the state dinner at the White House, be sworn by the Chief Justice to prevent an interregnum between Sunday noon (the 4th) and the inauguration, Monday. This was the advice of Secretary Fish and the President. I did not altogether approve but acquiesced.

I then drove with Senator Sherman to the Capitol. The colored hack-drivers and others cheered lustily.  I went into the Vice-President’s room and many Senators and Representatives were introduced to me. Several Northern men, S. S. Cox and other Democrats, and still more Southern men.

Saturday and Sunday [I] saw Senators and Representatives and others, and [received] many suggestions on the Cabinet. Blaine urged Fry. Hamlin much vexed and grieved when I told him I couldn’t appoint Fry. Blaine seemed to claim it, as a condition of good relations with me. Cameron and Logan [were] greatly urged all day. I told Cameron I could not appoint him. Too many of the old Cabinet had good claims to remain, to recognize one without appointing more than would be advisable. I accordingly nominated: Wm. M. Evarts, New York, State; John Sherman, Ohio, Treasury; Carl Schurz, Missouri, Interior; General Charles Devens, Massachusetts, Attorney-General; D. M. Key, Tennessee, Postmaster-General; George W. McCrary, Iowa, War; R. W. Thompson, Indiana, Navy.

The chief disappointment among the influential men of the party was with Conkling, Blaine, Cameron, Logan, and their followers. They were very bitter. The opposition was chiefly to Evarts, Key, and especially Schurz. Speeches were made, and an attempt to combine with the Democrats to defeat the confirmation of the nominations only failed to be formidable by [reason of] the resolute support of the Southern Senators like Gordon, Lamar, and Hill. After a few days the public opinion of the country was shown by the press to be strongly with me. All of the nominations were confirmed by almost a unanimous vote.

The expressions of satisfaction from all parts of the country are most gratifying. The press and the private correspondence of Rogers [private secretary] and myself are full of it.

My policy is trust, peace, and to put aside the bayonet. I do not think the wise policy is to decide contested elections in the States by the use of the national army.’

This article is a slightly revised version of one first published on 4 October 2012.