The Writings of Carl Schurz/To —— (Unknown), April 8th, 1906

TO (unknown)[1]

Augusta, Ga., Apr. 8, 1906.

Your letter enclosing the printed call which until now was unknown to me has reached me. It is a matter of course that every proper effort to guard against any disturbance [of] the existing peaceable and friendly relations between the United States and Germany has my sincerest and warmest sympathy. The friendship between the United States and Germany is as old as this Republic itself. It has remained unbroken because it was demanded by all considerations of interest, of civilization and of international good-will. And it is as much so to-day as ever before. There is between the two nations not the slightest occasion for discord. To provoke such a discord without the most imperative cause would be a crime as well as an absurdity—a criminal absurdity as well as a foolish crime.

I am well aware that here as well as abroad voices are sometimes heard which represent as probable such a discord and even an armed conflict between the two nations. Those are the voices of people who call such a conflict probable because they desire it; and they desire it because thereby the profession of arms would gain in importance, or because they regard a war as an especially attractive and entertaining sport. I do not hesitate to say that whoever wishes a war without the most commanding necessity belongs to an era of barbarism but not to the civilized society of this century.

Therefore I consider a war between the United States and Germany as eminently improbable—indeed as impossible, unless it spring from one of those sudden irritations or angry impulses which sometimes may for a moment put a people as well as an individual into a more or less irresponsible condition of mind, but which pass away innocuous if in some manner they are kept from precipitate action. To prevent the breaking out of such headlong conflicts nothing is more effective than the institution of arbitration systems that stand in the way of precipitate actions and demand quiet reflection. In this way a proper arbitration treaty might serve to preserve the two nations from such an accident which would be an unspeakably lamentable misfortune not only for Americans of German blood but for all American citizens of whatever origin.

That the President will favor such a treaty may be assumed; but whether, after the last position taken by the Senate, this treaty would have an immediate prospect of confirmation by that body, I do not undertake to judge. At any rate any proper movement in this direction is a work of merit.

  1. The careful draft of this letter does not contain the name of the person to whom it was addressed.