The Writings of Carl Schurz/To Charles Francis Adams, Jr., July 9th, 1876


Fort Washington, Pa., July 9, 1876.

I have just got back from the West and find here your note of the 29th of June addressed to Mr. Lodge and communicated by him to me. You are perfectly right in saying that we should go one way or the other. I have in the meantime been anxiously endeavoring to ascertain how I for my part could render the best service to the cause we have at heart, and I have come to a very clear conclusion.

The result of the Cincinnati Convention appeared at first as the triumph of a respectable compromise candidate; the result of the St. Louis Convention as the triumph of a great name with the attachment of an ambiguous platform and the most objectionable man imaginable as a candidate for the Vice-Presidency. Neither side satisfactory and yet a third movement out of the question.

In order to ascertain what could be done I put myself in correspondence with Hayes, volunteering certain suggestions with regard to his letter of acceptance. I had from him a most satisfactory response. I have since met him twice and discussed all sorts of things with him. His letter of acceptance, containing his political program, will be an agreeable surprise to you, if it comes out as it was determined upon Friday evening. It is our platform in every word with the pledge of an honest man as a candidate for the Presidency attached to it. Unless I am very much mistaken, the Cincinnati Convention has nominated our man without knowing it. He is a man of more than average ability and decidedly unspoiled as a politician. It will be our fault, I think, if we do not gain a decisive influence in his Administration. I shall support him heartily on his letter and earnestly hope you will see your way clear in the same direction. Let me confess that I never entertained as high an opinion of Mr. Tilden as a reformer as you did. He has been too much of a demagogue and is too much of a wirepuller and machine politician now to be depended upon as a man of principle.

We had a meeting of the executive committee of the conference on June 30th. It was deemed best, as the situation was then still undefined, Hayes's letter not yet being out, not to do anything with regard to the candidates. Indeed, I do not see the necessity of united action on the part of the independents. It may truly be said that the choice of positive evils is avoided, and a certain measure of reform is promised on either side. The question is where we can get most. Moreover, I think it would be difficult to get the conference together again. We did, however, resolve to invite all those who signed our address, about 1500, to join in the organization of a National Civil Service Reform League, for the purpose of exercising upon public opinion as well as future Administrations whatever influence may be at our command. That, I think, is a good idea and may be made useful.

I am here with my children to spend part of the summer at this quiet country place. Let me hear from you. Is it true that your father has pronounced for Tilden?