The Writings of Carl Schurz/To Charles Sumner, October 17th, 1865


Bethlehem, Pa., Oct. 17, 1865.

I returned from my Southern trip on Thursday night, last, and had an interview with the President, Saturday. The information I bring with me is of considerable interest and importance; it might become of value in your Congressional deliberations. I am engaged in writing out a general report which the President seems by no means anxious to possess.

You have, perhaps, seen statements in the newspapers that I am in “disfavor.” I wish to tell you confidentially that I myself believe it is so. He received me not, indeed, without civility, but with great coldness, asked me no questions about the results of my investigations and seemed to desire not to have any conversation about them at all. I accommodated him in that respect, withdrew from the interview as soon as I saw that it became very irksome, and left town the same night to see my family.

What the President's reasons are for treating me in so strange a manner I am at a loss to understand. The explanation given in the Washington despatches of yesterday's Herald is absurd. I cannot imagine what it can be unless he took offense at my reply to his despatch to me in the Sharkey-Slocum case.[1] But, then, he would have recalled me six weeks ago. That the views expressed in my letters to the President were radically at variance with his policy, is quite probable, but I do not see how, as a sensible and fair-minded man, he could make that the occasion for a personal rupture. In one word, I am completely in the dark. To-day I have written to Stanton requesting him to give or procure me some explanation.

Meanwhile, I am composing my report; when it is ready I shall present it, and then we shall see. I should be very glad to see you and Governor Andrew, the latter as the president of the Emigration Society, as soon as convenient. Can we meet at New York? I should prefer that to any other place. Please let me know at your earliest convenience when the meeting can be effected.

In St. Louis they are making preparations to start a new paper for me. Gratz Brown is the principal mover in the matter. I consider it an enterprise of importance. It is necessary that the West and New England stand firmly together, and I have no doubt we can bring such a result about if proper measures be taken. If this journalistic enterprise succeeds, I shall be able to exercise a considerable influence in Missouri, Illinois and up and down the Mississippi as well as in the back country. I do not know whether they can get the necessary capital together on the spot. Can something be done in New England for this enterprise if there be a deficiency at St. Louis?

I stopped writing for the Advertiser as soon as I heard that my name was out and people were making a fuss about the matter. Now, let us meet as soon as possible. I have a great many things to tell you.

  1. See 3 Reminiscences, 189 ff., for ample details, which Schurz wrote with copies of the records before him.