The Writings of Carl Schurz/To Benjamin H. Bristow, October 29th, 1877


Department of the Interior
, Oct. 29, 1877.

I suppose you know from your own experience how a man in public position, with his hands full of work, will sometimes put off his correspondence with a friend from day to day, waiting for an hour of leisure and composure, which will never come. This is what happened to me with your last letter. The meeting of Congress intervened, and you know how the visits of Congressmen and the business they bring with them will cut up one's time. So I have to throw myself upon your indulgence as a friend hoping that you have never thought me capable of anything like wilful neglect.

Soon after I had received your letter I found an opportunity to read it to the President—and I may say that I found myself authorized to do that, not only by the terms of your letter, but also by a conversation which had taken place between the President and myself a few days before, and in which the President expressed himself to me in a manner relieving your letter entirely of the appearance of a declination of a thing which had not been thought of. The President, after hearing your letter, was very emphatic in his appreciation of the noble spirit which had prompted it, and it gives me all the more satisfaction to tell you this as some of our common friends seem to have fallen into the error of crediting the utterly groundless and absurd story that the President before or after his inauguration had promised General Grant, directly or indirectly, not to do anything that would look like a personal recognition of your merits. I know that there is absolutely nothing in it, whoever may tell the story. You remember what I told you at Louisville about the feeling prevailing in these quarters with regard to yourself. What I told you was true then and it is true now. If any errors have been committed, I can only assure you, upon my own positive knowledge, that they were entirely unintentional. There ought to be no misunderstanding about these things between you and the Administration, and I am sure there would be none if a free and full exchange of sentiments and opinions could be had. Some of our common friends seem to misinterpret this or that step taken by the President, and those misinterpretations have undoubtedly come to you just as they have come to me.

It is certainly unnecessary to assure you of the sincerity of my friendship for you, and as your friend I would ask you, whenever anything occurs that displeases you, or anything is left undone that would please you, to give me your views without the least reserve. I shall consider it only as a return of my feelings for you.