The Writings of Carl Schurz/To B. B. Cahoon, March 3d, 1876


New York, March 3, 1876.

I have received your kind note of February 25th and thank you most sincerely for it. Your letter to a member of the Republican committee I have also read in the papers, and I agree with every word you say concerning the condition of the Republican party in Missouri and the process it has to go through in order to save, or rather restore, its vitality. Recent developments, and especially the terrible disclosures in the Belknap case, must have made it painfully apparent to every candid man, who did not know it before, that the same reasoning would apply with equal force to the national organization of the party. We have to face the fact that the machinery of the Government is fairly honeycombed with corruption. The Republic stands before the world in an attitude of unprecedented humiliation and shame. In order to save the honor of the Nation and the confidence of the American people in their Government, no ordinary party claptrap will avail. We must elect a man to the Presidency who is not only known to be honest himself, but who by his character and antecedents gives the strongest guarantees that he will be strong enough to keep the Government honest. If neither of the two parties gives us such a candidate, then I hope there will be independent men enough to put up one for themselves, even if they should cast for him only a conscience vote.

Believing you my friend and trusting you as such, I speak to you without reserve. I will not conceal from you that I should be glad to coöperate with the Republican party if I can do so consistently with my notions of duty. This is my natural inclination. But I shall not do so at the risk of continuing anything like the present condition of things. If the Republicans nominate a mere partisan, then I think it would be better for the country to have that party pass for four years through the discipline of defeat. I feel naturally drawn to that party because it contains in its ranks, as I think, a vast preponderance of the intelligence and virtue of the country; but that virtue and intelligence have been of little use to the Republic since they were controlled by the worse elements of the organization. Unless their emancipation can be accomplished now, it may be accomplished by defeat.

I hope, however, such a necessity may still be averted. If I could nominate a ticket, it would be Adams and Bristow. But Bristow at the head of the ticket would completely satisfy me. He has shown that he possesses the courage necessary for a policy of reform. But I must say that of all the men who have been mentioned as the possible Republican candidates, Adams and Bristow are the only ones I would trust and accept. If the Republican Convention rejects these, it shows that it obeys the behest of the machine politicians to whom the most valuable qualities of a candidate are the most serious objection, and I shall, as an independent American citizen, govern my course accordingly. I know a good many who will do likewise.

I write you this, not for publication, but confidentially, so that we may understand one another. I shall always be sincerely glad to hear from you. Can you send a good delegation to Cincinnati? Spare no effort.

  1. A lawyer of distinction, living at Fredericktown, Mo.