The Writings of Carl Schurz/To E. L. Godkin, May 20th, 1872


Washington, May 20, 1872.

Private and Confidential.
I have just received your letter of yesterday. I feel just as you do; and I have some reason to believe that this feeling is spreading among those who after their first painful astonishment thought it best to acquiesce in the Cincinnati nominations.

You ask me whether anything can be done to make amends. I think the best thing to be done is that proposed by the Evening Post: to make another nomination, and to resort to that end not to the dangerous machinery of a convention, but to get up a meeting of “notables.” Several Democrats of high standing and influence have called upon me to discuss with me the same thing. They feel that the Greeley movement will either swamp or break up their Convention, and that the acceptance of another candidate put forward by Liberal-Republican leaders with some backing would be a good compromise between the endorsement of Greeley and a “straight nomination.” I learn that a movement in the direction of the Evening Post plan has been commenced in New England, but I do not know how far it is developed. I have been urged to take the lead in the matter, but, although I am willing to take any risk to aid a good cause, I feel also that the fiasco at Cincinnati has seriously injured my influence, and that I cannot put myself forward again without danger to the object to be attained, while I can do much as a supporter.

At the same time I am sure, if we can assemble fifty or a hundred men of recognized standing in the political and social world between the 20th and 30th of June, a great impression could be produced on the public mind, and the Democrats would be very likely to follow their lead.

Could you not come to Washington with as many of our friends as you can induce to accompany you, for a consultation? I should go to New York at once, but I cannot leave my place here so shortly before adjournment. Consider this and come if you can, and as soon as possible.

Immediately after my return from Cincinnati I wrote to Mr. Greeley, giving him my views and feelings on the subject without the least concealment. I told him also that I did not know yet what I would do, but I believe it made no impression upon him. I agree with you that the situation is perplexing and humiliating in the extreme, and I would do anything to escape from the necessity of supporting Greeley against Grant, feeling as I do that the latter must be beaten in order to break up that party despotism under which we are suffering and which would only be confirmed and fortified by his reëlection. But I cannot act alone. I should be very glad to see you here.