When I entered the room Mr. Blaine was alone. I took a seat only a few feet from him. I informed him of the great disappointment and intense dissatisfaction which his action had caused in defeating what was not only regarded as a party measure, but which was believed by the Republicans to be of vital importance from a party point of view, to say nothing of its equity and justice. I remarked that for him to array himself in opposition to the great majority of his own party associates,—and to throw the weight of his great influence against such an important party measure as the Federal Elections Bill was believed to be,—he must have had some motive, some justifiable grounds of which the public was ignorant, but about which I believed it was fair to himself and just to his own friends and party associates, that he give some explanation.
“As a southern Republican member of the House, and as one that is not hostile or particularly unfriendly to you,” I said, “I feel that I have a right to make this request of you.”
At first he gave me a look of surprise, and for several seconds he remained silent. Then, straightening himself up in his chair, he answered:
“I am glad, Mr. Lynch, that you have made this request of me, since I am satisfied you are not actuated by any unfriendly motive in doing so. I shall, therefore, give a frank answer to your question. In my judgment, if that bill had become a law the defeat of the Republican party throughout the country would have been a foregone conclusion. We could not have saved the South even if the bill had passed, but its passage would have lost us the North; indeed, I could not have carried even my own State of Maine, if that bill had passed. In my opinion, it was better to lose the South and save the North, than to try through such legislation to save the South, and thus lose both North and South. I believed that if we saved the North we could then look after the South. If the Southern Democrats are foolish enough to bring about a Solid South the result will be a Solid North against a Solid South; and in that case the Republicans would have nothing to fear. You now have my reasons, frankly and candidly given, for the action taken by me on the occasion referred to. I hope you are satisfied with them.”
I thanked Mr. Blaine cordially for giving me the desired explanation. “I now feel better satisfied with reference to your action upon that occasion,” I assured him. “While I do not agree with you in your conclusions, and while I believe your reasoning to be unsound and fallacious, still I cannot help giving you credit for having been actuated by no other motive than to do what you honestly believed was for the best interest of the country and the Republican party.”
STATE CAMPAIGN OF 1875. REPUBLICAN VICTORY