New York City had never seen such dreadful weather. The rain poured on Sunday with such ferocity as to relieve wavering worshippers from attending services, for it suggested that the heavenly deity would rather that they stay at home. No sooner had night fallen, however, than a bitter cold set in, first freezing the remnants of the day’s precipitation upon the streets, then turning the rain into heavy snow.Read more.
Paris could rightfully be said to be home to the diplomatic arts, but not all lay fully within its ken. Not every secret is pried open when men conduct their affairs with threats, intimidation, and hints of violence; for the more delicate questions of international intrigue, a softer touch is required.Read more.
Kate had calculated that meeting the presidential carriage as it pulled up the drive at Edgewood would serve her interest, but that did not deprive the gesture of its heartfelt quality. The carriage had been specially made in New York. It was dark green in color, Arthur’s favorite, with that hue presenting the central theme on the exterior paint and the interior upholstery, trimmed in morocco and cloth.Read more.
There was shouting along the banks of the East River, but Arthur could not quite make it out.
He stood upon the deck of the Saint John, the steamboat that he and Conkling had caught very early that morning, and peered across the morning fog that now was lifting from the waters of that tributary that shot north from New York Harbor, cleft the island of Manhattan from the cities of Brooklyn and Queens, swept heedlessly through the sharp breaks at Spuyten Duyvil, then rushed into the great Hudson River and ran up to Albany. But the return of Conkling and Platt to Albany had proven less triumphant than anticipated.
The first gathering of the Stalwarts was, of necessity, an intimate one. It had been far too long since the social business of politics had occurred under the supervision of Kate Chase. Mary Todd Lincoln being of a sour disposition, and unattractive besides, the great Washington salon of the war years had not been the White House, but the Chase residence.Read more.
The mood was sour that night in Conkling’s suite at the Grand Pacific Hotel. Conkling had spent the day rallying his men for Grant, loping the aisles of the Glass Palace with furious strides to keep the delegates in line. He had observed with some satisfaction that Platt had placed his arm about the shoulders of Benjamin Harrison of the Indiana delegation, and noted with some irritation Arthur was smoking a cigar with the dregs of the New York delegation, who were already entirely committed to Grant. How wise he had been to take the reins from Arthur!Read more.
It was in a mood of intense irritation that Senator Roscoe Conkling arrived in Chicago. Chet Arthur had been sent out in advance, his bulk trundled into a railway carriage like an overstuffed suitcase along with Thomas Platt, but Conkling had little expectation that Arthur would perform any more competently than he had in ’seventy-six…Read more.
The ladies of the press, by inclination and profession given to skepticism, had appeared at the luncheon anticipating a ghastly masquerade. There had been abundant rumors, which the ladies had been obliged to report in accordance with their duty to their readers, that Kate Chase Sprague was now a Miss Havisham, roaming as a spectre in a cobwebbed and abandoned mansion. Yet these great expectations were confounded once the carriages pulled into the drive. Edgewood had been polished, scrubbed, and manicured such that it nearly gleamed in the spring sunshine.Read more.
Kate had yet to arrive at a satisfactory arrangement with her husband. Sprague had insisted that Kate spend the summer of ’seventy-nine at the estate in Canonchet, near Narragansett, so that he might have some opportunity to see his children, but Kate knew that Sprague was more likely to spend his time playing billiards in a tavern and would merely pat Willie and the three girls on their heads en route to some drunken dissipation. It was not long before Sprague vanished upon some hunting trip to Maine with his cousin.
Fortuitously, Senator Roscoe Conkling had some legal business in Newport, and it would have been impolite to fail to visit Kate, Rhode Island being such a small state.Read more.
The distinguished members of the Senate were by now regretting their heartfelt devotion to the business of the people. The session had extended itself well into May, long past the days when the cherry blossoms that so adorn our national capital had bloomed and fallen, and as June wore on the heat became oppressive, then nearly unbearable. Yet the Democratic Party, having assumed the majority in the congressional elections the prior November, had proven incapable of effectively conducting the people’s business.Read more.