The Writings of Carl Schurz/To Edward L. Pierce, May 12th, 1859


Milwaukee, May 12, 1859.

Your letter of the 5th is received and the result has proved the correctness of your predictions. General Wilson sent me a copy of his second letter; it is straight forward and manly and he will have his reward. I am informed that Governor Banks through his appointees worked for the amendment. Is this true? If it is, he will have music by the whole Western band and find out very soon that such wholesale deceptions cannot be practised now-a-days.

Well, “the deed is done”; now we have to look out for the consequences. The effect on the Republican party in the Western States will be very serious. I am afraid we shall lose this State next fall. There is a great deal of excitement about it. The Democrats are having a regular jubilee over it, and I am most fiercely abused by their principal organs. You have no idea how the whole thing will embarrass me, unless proper measures are taken to put the responsibility for the measure where it belongs.

There is in my opinion but one way to set the Republican party right before the people: it is to organize a straight Republican party in Massachusetts, and now is the time to do it. No doubt the Democrats will make the repeal of the two years' amendment the issue in your next State campaign. This will place the Republicans of Massachusetts in a very bad position unless they take a similar ground. Banks and the whole American wing of the party will certainly not do it, and there is a very good opportunity for rallying the true and liberal elements of the party. You might get up a separate organization, call a convention and nominate a State ticket of your own and go into the canvass with a right hearty good-will. You will probably be beaten, but what of it? You keep up your organization, elect a straight Republican delegation to the National Convention next year and I think you will be admitted there in preference to the American-Republican delegates. I have no doubt the whole West will stand by you throughout the whole operation. You may rely upon this. In this way we can crush the Know-Nothing movement and render all demoralizing alliances and amalgamations impossible. The issue will be plainly placed before the Republican party in its national capacity and I have no doubt the decision will be in our favor. Do you not think Wilson might be prevailed upon to put himself at the head of such a movement? I have no doubt Sumner will go into it. I shall write to Wilson about it.

This operation may seem bold, but it is safe. It requires only promptness and decision. The question arises, Are we in danger to lose [of losing] Massachusetts in the next Presidential election if the American-Republican delegation be rejected by the National Convention? I think not, if you act with vigor and determination. You must commence your operations in time. Suppose you call some fifty or sixty earnest men together without delay and put the ball in motion at once, commence building up an organization and be ready for an open fight next fall,—do you not think you can make a considerable show of strength? The Republicans of all the States outside of Massachusetts would applaud your movement, and the best and most energetic elements of the anti-slavery party will be with you.

If you see Wilson, give him my best regards and tell him that I thank him from my heart for the noble letters he has written.