John Sherman and the Politics of Economic Change
by John B. Weaver
Volume VI, Number 3
When John Sherman died in 1900 his friend and Senatorial colleague George Frisbie Hoar of Massachusetts paid tribute by predicting that Sherman and his brother, the Civil War general, would "go down inseparable to the memory of remote generations."1 The actual place of the two men in popular historical memory seems less equal. Has not John Sherman shared the fate of partial obscurity common to politicians of the Gilded Age? Of them the novelist Thomas Wolfe once wrote: "...they were the lost Americans; their gravely vacant and bewhiskered faces mixed, melted, swam together in the seadepths of a past intangible, immeasurable, and unknowable..."2
Historian writing in the first half of the twentieth century who were influenced by Progressive or Marxist perspectives lent substance to Wolfe's lyrical description. Their emphasis was on the rise of industrialization and big business. To the extent that politicians entered their story the themes were often those of corruption and indifference to the public interest. The two major political parties were largely indistinguishable and competition between them, though outwardly spirited, was really a meaningless tweedledum-tweedledee affair.3
The element of truth in this cannot be ignored. Yet a number of recent historians have reexamined the Gilded Age in new ways and the political history of the period again become a lively area of inquiry. An ethnocultural interpretation of partisanship has emerged, as has a new look at the meanings of the protracted struggles over the tariff, currency, and civil service. No longer are the views and actions of politicians seen as mere extensions of the business elite.4
John Sherman was one such politician. Well-known, even controversial to his contemporaries, he was responsible as Secretary of the Treasury for the successful resumption of specie payments on January 2, 1879. For this achievement some admiring bankers and businessmen compared him to Alexander Hamilton.5 But to the Greenbackers, Silverites, and Populists, Sherman was a symbol of capitalist greed and the corruption of politics. One frequently cited example was Sherman's major, if quiet, role in the "Crime of '73," the demonetization of silver in 1873. In one not very subtle novel by a silver advocate, Sherman was the thinly-disguised model for one "John Arnold," a midwestern senator who accepted a bribe from a "Baron Rothe" in return for the law.6 To yet another group, the mugwumps and "liberal reformers", Sherman was too accommodating to the soft-money forces, an uncertain friend of civil service reform, and generally an opportunist who placed partisan considerations above everything else. In this camp were, among others, Edward A. Atkinson, George William Curtis, and E. L. Godkin.7
Where does the truth about Sherman lie? These different views all offer some insight, but can easily become caricatures. The man behind the image emerges only through careful study of a leader born to pioneer individualism who lived through an era of complex and far-reaching change.
Descended from a distinguished Connecticut family whose members included the Revolutionary statesman Roger Sherman, young Sherman grew to manhood in the town and country world of early Ohio. Entering politics as a Whig, he began his long public career as a Republican member of Congress in 1854. To no one's surprise he supported internal improvements, a protective tariff, and a national banking system. Chosen to replace Salmon P. Chase in the U.S. Senate in 1861, Sherman quickly revealed an aptitude for financial matters. He worked closely with Chase, Justin Morrill, William Pitt Fessenden, and other Republican leaders in shaping the economic and financial legislation of the Civil War years.8
Sherman regarded himself as a mediator among Republican factions, always trying to find satisfactory compromises on divisive questions. Perhaps he tried too hard, for examples of seeming inconsistency abound. He voted to remove President Andrew Johnson from office but expressed no disappointment when the Radical Republicans failed in this effort. He opposed the recall of Greenbackers in 1866 but worked for the eventual return to specie payments. He was skeptical of the inflationist aims of silverites in the 1870s but came to accept, even embrace, the Bland-Aillson Act. He worked for passage of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890 but was ready to repeal it the day it became law. Surveying such paradoxes, fellow Republican George S. Boutwell wrote in 1893: "If in these thirty years Sherman has had any guiding principles in finance he has so concealed it that I am ignorant of its forms and features."9
One man's inconsistency may be another's search for a successful balance of interests and shifting sense of public opinion. Perhaps his midwestern background and his lack of college education had prevented the absorption of a strictly classical laissez-faire, hard-money, free-trade point of view. As a politician he knew the strength and determination of soft-money advocates, and wanted above all to keep the Republican party united on the currency issue.10 His more gradual approach to resumption achieved the major goals of the financially orthodox anyway, and it was always those on the left who had genuine difficulties with Sherman. They coined the term "Shermanized" to describe the fate of the unemployed worker, the bankrupt businessman, and the cashless farmer of the mid-1870s. Many of these victims of the depression of 1873 saw more greenbacks as their salvation.11
The Cincinnati Enquirer caught this feeling when it described the chilly reception Sherman received in his home town of Mansfield, Ohio in 1877: "His speech fell like a dead weight. Many of the...laboring men refused to attend, believing his policy to be the cause of economic depression which so soundly affects them."12 Similarly-minded citizens of Toledo, Ohio were even less friendly. In 1878 Sherman was unable to finish a speech there because of disruption from the crowd.13 Sherman and others both then and now might have argued that speculation fueled by soft money had brought about the depression rather than efforts to restrict the currency. But it was an age in which economic thinking was based less on empirical evidence than on the conviction that certain laws and principles, when followed or ignored, brought certain and swift results.
Sherman recognized the economic distress around him and saw that there were certain problems inherent in the cyclical nature of business enterprise. For example, he attributed the cause of the bitter and violent railroad strikes of 1877 to the overbuilding of rail lines. This had led to excessive competition and financial losses, which led to the wage cuts that brought on the strikes.14 Yet Sherman had no real answer to the problems of capital and labor. In a private letter to a fellow Senator he observed that "...the tendency of all civilization is to make the rich richer and the poor poorer." This was because labor would become more abundant, and thus cheaper, while capital would become more valuable. Such was true in any society that protected the rights of private property and he did not see how the political process could change such realities.15
In his public utterances, though, Sherman was much more sanguine. When John Rowe, a nearly bankrupt coal dealer from Ohio's hard-pressed Mahoning Valley iron district, wrote to Sherman describing his plight, the response had a hopeful ring. Sherman suggested to Rowe that he find temporary farm labor and raise funds to travel west. There he could obtain homestead land from the government and become an independent farmer. "Your lot...has its bright and hopeful side if you are only patient and industrious," he reassured him.16 One wonders if John Rowe might have taken this advice only to have become a Kansas populist!
When Sherman referred, usually positively, to "labor" in his speeches and writings, he had in mind individual workers more than he did organized unions. He recognized the right of workers to organize and seek better pay and conditions, and pleased labor with his support of the eight-hour day and the exclusion of alien contract-labor. But he also thought that some unions encouraged, or at least condoned, intimidation and violence. Furthermore, he held that the businessman must be allowed to earn a "reasonable" profit in order to insure economic growth and prosperity.17 Sherman was no more comfortable with the prospect of socialism or labor radicalism than he has with monopoly capitalism. Both tendencies threatened the status of the individual, whether merchant, artisan, or farmer, that he saw as the foundation of American enterprise. He realized the economic changes were undermining the individual's place, but was uncertain if or how these trends could be completely halted.
The Greenbackers did not really accept the 1879 resumption as a fait accompli and expected it to fail and lose public support. Various state and local elections of 1879 focused on the currency issue. The battle waged especially strongly in Ohio where Greenbackers and Democrats united on Thomas Ewing, Jr. as their candidate for governor. Sherman campaigned vigorously for his Republican opponent, Charles Foster, in a campaign that must have had unusual personal meaning for him. Ewing was the brother-in-law of General William T. Sherman, and the Ewing and Sherman families had been linked in friendship as well for many years. Thomas Ewing, Sr., an important Whig party figure in both state and national politics in the antebellum era, had assumed something of a "surrogate father" role for William, John, and the other Sherman children upon the death of their father in 1829 when both families resided in Lancaster, Ohio. Yet after the Civil War the two families went separate political ways. Ewing, Sr. and his sons found the Greenback philosophy congenial to the prosperity of their commercial and manufacturing interests. They had invested, perhaps excessively, in iron and coal after the Civil War and, like many other similarly hurt by the Depression of 1873 and ensuing hard times, they blamed the return to "hard money."18
With Foster's victory over Ewing in 1879, which was hailed as a vote of confidence in Republican monetary policies, Sherman began to turn his attention more to other issues. When he did so his perspective was predictable: support for business enterprises as long as the demands and behavior of business seemed "reasonable." During Senate debates over the bill that established the Interstate Commerce Commission, Sherman seemed more concerned that railroads be barred from "watering" stock and defrauding shareholders than that the consumer's interests be protected. He had a personal interest in such matters since he owned stock in a local line, the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne, and Chicago, that had been absorbed by the powerful Pennsylvania railroad. Asserting that railroads were in "fragile" condition because of overbuilding and that any regulation would have to be "careful," he warned against the destruction of "...these great agencies of modern commerce," adding, "I do not want to destroy the goose that lays the golden egg."19
Gilded Age businessmen could seek active government encouragement for enterprise and one such form was the protective tariff. By the 1880s, however, the tariff question had become more complex. Conflicts multiplied among specific interests. Higher tariffs on raw materials such as iron ore and wool aroused the opposition of manufacturers who processed these materials and who were interested in cheaper foreign sources. Led by Abram Hewitt, New York Democratic politician and manufacturer, this group began to emphasize the importance of international trade for the U.S. economy, the expansion of U.S. exports, and reciprocity agreements with trading partners.20
Sherman had little use for such arguments. He thought the American home market sufficient for many years to come. Moreover, Ohio's wool growers were extremely well-organized and Sherman felt he could not ignore their interests. He tended to favor fairly moderate, even tariff protection across the board and often emphasized that the system had to be "universal" to be fair. Thus he had "profound contempt for the selfishness of the policy declared by Mr. Mayor Hewitt."21
Hewitt's proposed tariff reductions would also have eased the problem of the growing federal surplus of the late 1880s. Sherman and his fellow Republicans agreed that the surplus should be reduced, but of course not by lowering the tariff. Instead, their suggestions ranged from increased federal appropriations for things like veterans' pensions, river and harbor improvements, and increased coastal defenses, to reductions in other federal taxes and the early purchase and retirement of outstanding government bonds. These alternatives would not only preserve the existing tariff levels, but would also appeal to various Republican groups--Union army veterans, domestic shippers and merchants, and investors in government securities. When Republicans regained control of Congress in 1888 they did pursue the strategy of increased appropriations-- hence the "Billion Dollar Congress."22
To an orthodox Republican like Sherman the protective tariff could hardly be separated from economic growth, nationalism, or even patriotism. It took on something of the aspect of a political panacea. All producer groups would get something, the home market expanded, American labor "protected," and the basis for Southern industrial development laid. Impractical professors of classical economics might fill students with free trade nonsense, "...but in two or three years after they leave college they become good protectionists by a little experience."23 Although Sherman never voted against tariffs, he occasionally grumbled at the bold and excessive claims sometimes made. After passage of the McKinley Tariff in 1890, which greatly increased existing duties and added new ones, he felt "sickened" by the "selfishness and greed" displayed by some interests and warned that this was undermining the general protectionist philosophy.24
The theme of promotion of economic growth was also a key element in Sherman's unsuccessful presidential bid in 1888. In 1880 he had entertained some hope that the successful resumption of specie and the support of some elements in the banking and business communities might land him the Republican nomination, but this was not to be.25 Nor did a rather mundane campaign biography that emphasized personal integrity, experience, party loyalty, and "financial honesty" broaden the candidate's appeal.26 Eight years later a new biography by William Lawrence signified a different approach.27 This book identified twelve groups of potential Republican voters, including farmers, labor, Blacks, immigrants, and Southerners, among others, and argued that Sherman had the greatest appeal to each. The candidate's public statements were culled to find the positions of greatest appeal to each. For labor there was the tariff, the eight-hour day, restriction of prison labor, and exclusion of Chinese labor. Blacks were directed to Sherman's support for federal aid to education and federal supervision of elections. Lawrence reminded German-Americans of Sherman's opposition to prohibition laws. Unlike Ohio's Republican governor in the 1880s, Joseph B. Foraker, Sherman resisted efforts to identify the party with "Protestant morality," much preferring as did William McKinley in 1896 a stress on business and economic issues as the best way to attract immigrants to the Republican party.28
Much to Sherman's disappointment, Republicans turned instead to Benjamin Harrison as their standard-bearer to defeat Cleveland. The reasons for Harrison's nomination in 1888 are many and varied, and can only be summarized briefly here. Sherman did have a bloc of support at the convention, but it was insufficient to win the contest and it did not grow as the balloting proceeded. His aloof personality, close identification with hard-money policies, and lack of a Civil War military record all hurt Sherman with certain Republican groups. Harrison, too, was a man of austere manners, but he had been a Civil War general, was from a doubtful state (Indiana) that Republicans needed to carry, and had not been on the national political scene long enough to have taken many stands on issues. Watching from Spiegel Grove as these events unfolded, Rutherford B. Hayes observed that "the man of large and conspicuous public service in civil life must be content without the presidency." Disappointment that the one "so clearly entitled to it by service and fitness" had lost, he yet had to admit that the Harrison ticket was "good politics".29
The 51st Congress elected with Benjamin Harrison produced a great outpouring of legislation. As chairman of the Senate finance committee Sherman had his name attached to the Antitrust and Silver Purchase acts. But his role in passing these two laws was not as dominant or exclusive as this suggests. Senator Hoar, who had more to do with writing the antitrust act, explained that Sherman frequently introduced bills for other members, or ones that reflected ideas of the day, without always knowing what they said or even supporting them.30 Sherman did introduce an antitrust bill in December, 1889 at the opening of the 51st Congress, but after several weeks of wrangling over amendments the bill was transferred from the finance to the judiciary committee. There chairman George Edmunds and member Hoar crafted more precise, lawyer-like language and extensively re-wrote the bill. The prohibition against trusts in restraint of production as well as trade, found in Sherman's original draft, was eliminated from the final version. In general, the Hoard-Edmunds version conformed more closely to the existing common-law jurisdiction against monopoly that state courts already exercised.31
Some observers then and later questioned the sincerity of the politicians in this move to control the growing power of large corporations. During the Senate debates Connecticut's Orville Platt did describe the effort as a hurried one to give the public some "bill to punish trusts." Republicans especially were on the defensive over this issue because many Americans linked the growth of the trusts to high tariffs, which went even higher during the 51st Congress with the McKinley tariff. Sherman had always regarded some public regulation of business as legitimate. In the 1870s he had supported the right of states to pass "Granger laws" regulating railroads and grain elevators.32 Even though his role in the passage of the 1890 antitrust act was not the major one, he was quite eloquent in his support of its passage: "If anything is wrong, this is wrong. If we will not endure a king as a political power we should not endure a king over the production, transportation, and sale of any of the necessaries of life."33
Sherman favored the law simply because he believed that free competition enhanced both the American economy, and the freedom and welfare of citizens. He did not fear or oppose large business per se and, in fact, did not think monopoly was a severe problem for the great bulk of American industry. The act left much for the courts to decide because the law-makers were thinking more of punishment of a few "malefactors of great wealth" rather than the ongoing bureaucratic regulation of business. One may indeed regard the Supreme Court's use of the Sherman Antitrust Act against organized labor in the 1894 Pullman strike or its verdict in the sugar trust case that "manufacturing is not commerce" (1895) as evidence of an exceedingly narrow and one-sided view. But it is unfair to blame Sherman and his colleagues for failing to do more than they had any intention of doing.34
By 1890 the demand for expansion of the currency was being heard once again. This time agrarian and mining interests in the West saw free silver as the solution to their economic woes, an attitude which gold-oriented banking and mercantile interests in the East viewed with alarm. Again Sherman found himself playing the mediating role, although he never regarded it as one of his finer moments. To head off the demand for free coinage, which the Senate had already approved, Sherman helped to work out a House-Senate compromise. The federal government would purchase 4.5 million ounces of silver per month, amounting to practically the entire U.S. silver output at the time. This replaced the 1878 Bland-Allison requirement that between $2 and $4 million dollars' worth of silver be purchased and coined monthly. This provision pleased financial conservatives because, as the price of silver was steadily dropping, fewer actual dollars would be expended. However, the Act also required the Treasury to issue legal tender notes in payment for the silver which could be redeemed in either gold or silver coin. This put more pressure on the ability of the Treasury to maintain the carefully-watched gold reserve.35
Sherman was not against all currency expansion, but he was adamantly opposed to the free (unlimited) coinage of silver because he feared it would cause the hoarding of gold, the more stable metal, and ultimately destroy the gold standard. Reflecting Sherman's influence, the Silver Purchase Act was more generous to silver advocates than most financial conservatives would have liked. It simply seemed to be the price that had to be paid to head off the even more radical measure of free coinage. Sherman thought a short trial period would convince the silverites that the policy threatened financial stability and lead them to accept its repeal.36
The provisions of the silver act aggravated the financial crisis of 1893, with panicky investors exchanging silver coins and certificates and greenbacks for gold, as they were legally entitled to do. The Treasury's gold reserve slipped perilously close to the $100 million mark, an amount considered symbolic of financial stability. President Grover Cleveland, no friend of silver, called Congress into special session in August to repeal the act. Not until October, after silver advocates had engaged in an extensive Senate filibuster, was repeal finally accomplished. Sherman fully supported the repeal drive but it was up to the majority Democrats in the Senate to carry out what was for many of them a very painful request from their president.37
This issue of silver repeal cut directly across partisan political lines. This foreshadowed the great climactic "battle of the standards" in 1896 which ushered in a new era in American politics. Sherman found himself working so closely with conservative Democrats that silverites dubbed him "assistant Democratic leader."38 Sherman observed that the public credit was as "sacred in the hands of Grover Cleveland and John G. Carlisle (Secretary of the Treasury) as if it were in the hand of Republicans."39 No small compliment from a man for whom party loyalty was almost the Holy Grail. The Populist-silverite perspective on politics in 1896 was well stated by South Carolina's Benjamin R. Tillman when he exclaimed: "Cleveland,...Sherman, and...Carlisle are affinities. The question is, will the people be so damnably foolish as to trust them again?"40
Sherman strongly opposed the Populist movement. He concluded that its ideas were "too visionary and impracticable to be made the basis of a political organization."41 He ridiculed them by asserting that some farmers "do their planting in law offices and [their] crops, if they have any, are thistles."42 These remarks might be expected from a pillar of the Republican establishment, buy they seem harsher and less balanced than Sherman's reactions to earlier protest movements.
One Populist writer singled Sherman out for special criticism. Sarah E. V. Emery of Michigan chronicled the machinations of finance capitalism in her book Seven Financial Conspiracies which have Enslaved the American People. These included the major government monetary policies of the Gilded Age, such as silver demonetization and resumption of specie payments, with which Sherman was closely associated. Emery concluded that the facts revealed "no greater enemy to American producers [i.e., farmers and small businessmen] than John Sherman."43 The book was widely circulated in the 1891 Ohio legislative election campaign in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent Sherman's re-election to the Senate. This prompted an irritated Sherman to denounce the book as "wild and visionary" and "full of falsehoods."44
The Populists also denounced Sherman for his equivocation on the federal income tax. He had supported the initial income tax levied during the Civil War and as late as 1870 had affirmed that "maintenance of the income tax is an absolute necessity for any system of internal taxes."45 By 1894 Sherman was singing a different tune. He denounced the income tax provision of the Wilson-Gorman tariff as "utterly indefensible,...an attempt to array the rich against the poor,...the poor against the rich,...socialism, communism, [and] devilism."46 This was the same tax which a similarly-alarmed Supreme court declared unconstitutional in 1895, making later passage of the 16th Amendment necessary.
Thus by the 1890s an unaccustomed note of hysteria did enter into Sherman's normally cool, unemotional demeanor. In this he was not alone. Defenders of the status quo closed ranks against the storm of popular protest. President Cleveland used the power of government to break the railway unions in 1894, the Supreme Court moved strongly to protect corporate interests, and the safely conservative William McKinley triumphed over William Jennings Bryan in 1896 and again in 1900. Robert Wiebe has described this crisis and its resolution as an attempt by elite groups to "quash all disorder now, to forestall catastrophe by fitting society into a safe, sturdy mold."47 Men younger than Sherman took the lead in such efforts, but he supported the direction of many of their policies.
There was one area, though, in which John Sherman was clearly out of step with his younger colleagues--foreign policy. He strongly opposed the overseas expansion of the United States in the late 1890s. His stance on this issue symbolized a generational change in American politics. His horizons had always been those of the continental United States and its gradual commercial and industrial development. He had emphasized the home over the foreign market and took a particular interest in the work of certain Quaker groups and others who sought peaceful arbitration of international disputes.48 While he was not opposed to or oblivious of the growth of U.S. investment overseas, the economic, strategic, and geopolitical themes of an emerging American imperialism carried little weight with Sherman. His 1895 autobiography closes with the hope that "...our people will be content with internal growth, and avoid the complications of foreign acquisitions.... A republic should not hold dependent provinces...."49
Thus both advanced age and philosophical temperament ill-suited Sherman's ability to function as President William McKinley's Secretary of State, an appointment made primarily to open up a Senate seat for McKinley's manager Mark Hanna. After enduring one unhappy year in this post he resigned in 1898, made public statements condemning the acquisition of territory from Spain, and brought a long public career to a close.50
Evaluating figures in history is often difficult. This can be especially true for the Gilded Age, an era close enough to our own time to seem familiar, but one with a politics, a society, and a culture distinctly its own. If one judges a political leader on the basis of a strong interest in social reform, a willingness to take the risk of unpopularity by moving "ahead of the times" on issues, then John Sherman will not rank very high. But in relation to his contemporaries, Sherman's quality of leadership, his length and breadth of service, and the qualities of moderation, good judgment, and the integrity usually evident in his actions all put him definitely above average. He was certainly not without faults, but often the case made against him, as in the contests for the presidency, seems based on small and inconsequential matters.
In conclusion, the best label one can place on John Sherman's economic thought is that of nineteenth-century American nationalism competitive free-enterprise but with a definite place for the aid of government. From a number of viewpoints he was not consistent. He pleased classical liberals by upholding the specie basis of currency but dismayed them when he temporized with silver or voted for higher tariffs. He emphasized the interests of producers over consumers, but finally came to oppose the measures that small producers like farmers or artisans thought would benefit them. And he grew more conservative with age. From time to time Sherman did express some concern over the excesses and problems that accompanied the rise of big business. In the main, though, he welcomed the opportunities and prosperity it brought.
4John A. Garraty, The New Commonwealth, 1877-1890 (New York, 1968); H. Wayne Morgan, From Hayes to McKinely: National Party Politics, 1877-1896 (Syracuse, 1969); Geoffrey Blodgett, "A New Look at the Gilded Age: Politics in a Cultural Context," in Victorian America, ed. Daniel W. Howe (Philadelphia, 1976), 95-108.
5Irwin Unger, The Greenback Era: A Social and Political History of American Finance, 1865-1879 (Princeton, 1964), 374-408; Jeanette P. Nichols, "Rutherford B. Hayes and John Sherman," Ohio History 77 (Winter, 1968); 125-38.
9Rodger D. Bridges, "John Sherman and the Impeachment of Andrew Johnson," Ohio History 82 (Spring 1973), 176-91; John Sherman to Murat Halstead, 25 February 1878, Murat Halstead Papers, Cincinnati Historical Society, Cincinnati, Ohio; George S. Boutwell to Justin Morrill, 7 September 1893, Justin Morrill Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
10Unger, 44-45; Edward A. Atkinson, Senator Sherman's Fallacies; Or, Honesty the Best Policy (Boston, 1868); The Brief Correspondence of Abijah Mann, Jr., with the Honorable John Sherman, in Respect to the Payment of the Five-Twenty Bonds of the United States in Greenbacks (Brooklyn, 1868).
19John Sherman, Interstate Commerce: Speech of the Honorable John Sherman in the United States Senate, February 3, 1885 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1885), 8; John Sherman to S. E. Jenner, 7 April 1887, John Sherman Papers, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, Ohio.
21"Free Raw Materials" Exposed: Speeches of Senator Sherman and Congressmen McKinley and Goff Before the Home Market Club (Boston, 1888), 18. Sherman also quipped that comparing the home and foreign markets was like comparing "a mountain with a mole hill."
29Hayes to T. C. Jones, 27 June 1888, in Charles R. Williams, ed., Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, 5 vols. (Columbus, 1922-26), Hayes to Sherman, 27 June 1888, Rutherford B. Hayes Papers, Hayes Presidential Center Library, Fremont, Ohio.
33Congressional Record, 21 March 1890, quoted in Burton, 359. Sherman took especial relish in the prospect of federal prosecution of the Diamond Match Company, in which Michigan governor Russel Alger held a major interest. Sherman had accused Alger of attempting to bribe delegates away from Sherman at the 1888 Republican convention. See Sherman to John Fehrenbach, 28 June 1888, Sherman Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
43Sarah E. V. Emery, Seven Financial Conspiracies Which Have Enslaved the American People (Lansing, Mich., 1887), 69. See also Pauline Adams and Emma S. Thornton, A Populist Assault: Sarah E. Van De Vort Emery on American Democracy 1862-1895 (Bowling Green, Ohio, 1982).