The Writings of Carl Schurz/To E. L. Godkin, June 23d, 1872


Pittsburgh, June 23, 1872.

I regret not to have had an opportunity to talk with you after the conference. I called at the Nation office yesterday, but did not find you.

The conference had doubtlessly convinced you that there was no escape from the Greeley-Grant alternative, when we met. Any attempt to nominate a new ticket would simply have increased the confusion and put the “third” candidates into an unenviable, perhaps even ridiculous, position, without even furnishing to those who want to vote neither for Greeley nor for Grant an opportunity to make a respectable demonstration of conscience; for a third ticket would probably not live as long this year as the Frémont ticket did in 1864. The spirit of the conference demonstrated all this very clearly.

I do not know how much weight you attach to the reasons I gave for supporting Greeley as against Grant. It is a point of view, which, I know, is but little appreciated in the Northeastern States, but appeals very strongly to those who are in contact with the South and feel the full importance of the problem which consists in the pacification and regeneration of that part of the country. The question is whether that problem is to be solved by Ku-Klux laws or by moral influences, and in this respect there is something in this campaign which does not depend on the individuality of the candidates. I intend to speak on that subject as soon as possible, and I wish I could prevail on you not to fix the course of the Nation so irrevocably that it cannot be changed, until the campaign shall have fully developed its tendencies and possibilities.

As you know, I am very far from denying the importance of what you say about Greeley personally. But I think some of the danger you apprehend may in a measure be averted. I had a conversation with Greeley before I left, and I think—in fact I am confident—I can make Greeley commit himself to certain specific reform-measures, publicly and in a manner so binding, that, if elected, he will not be able to escape from his pledges or even to quibble about them without breaking down his Administration at once. He is not sanguine enough to think that the Baltimore Convention will, by endorsing him, absolutely insure his election or that he can depend on the “politicians” alone for his success. The matter will come out when I make my first speech, in a fortnight or three weeks, and I should be glad if you would suspend final judgment for a little while. The influence of the Nation is so great and valuable that it ought not to redound to Grant's benefit as long as on the other side the possibilities are not all exhausted. I tell you the above in confidence, not to be used in public until it is fully developed. I regret the course taken by the Evening Post. Its article of yesterday, intended to prove that Greeley's election would be the restoration of the Democratic party of 1860 to power, is certainly wrong in its conclusions, and I think we shall soon practically prove it to be so.

I shall be at St. Louis to-morrow night and should be very glad to hear from you.