The independent attitude taken by O'Reilly in his journal toward the un-American policy of Secretary Bayard left the editor open to misconstruction as an enemy of the Administration, if not a virtual opponent of the Democratic party. Nothing could be further from the truth, especially in regard to the last of these charges. His Democracy was as much a part of him as the blood in his veins. He opposed the un-Democratic conduct of men like Secretary Bayard, Minister Phelps, and others whom President Cleveland had unwisely placed and retained in high office. O'Reilly criticized his party because he was loyal to it; a time-server would have flattered it, right or wrong.
But because of this misunderstanding, it happened that at a Republican meeting in Lynn, in October, 1886, the Pilot's remarks on Secretary Bayard were quoted by ex-Governor John D. Long and Mr. Henry Cabot Lodge. The former said, "I have been listening with very much interest to the address of your next representative in Congress, and to his candid speech. I do not find the difficulty that he seems to find in interpreting the utterance of that brave, true, conscientious Irishman, John Boyle O'Reilly, the editor of the Pilot; and, while he writes for the Democratic party, you would find that those are not his true sentiments; that he is with us and would vote for that which would protect the honor of the country and the honor of our flag, even with Blaine at the head." O'Reilly replied: