The Writings of Carl Schurz/To Edward M. Shepard, September 11th, 1892


Bolton Landing, Sept. 11, 1892.

Since I wrote you last, I have read with great interest the newspaper accounts of Mr. Cleveland's conferences with the Democratic leaders of the State. Among those with whom Mr. Cleveland had been in confidential intercourse and consultation I found, aside from Mr. Whitney, only the name of the chiefs of Tammany and of the Hill faction, while the Democratic leaders not belonging to the machine were conspicuously absent. The impression conveyed was, that the management of the Cleveland campaign in this State looks upon the conciliation of the machine as the most important object to be accomplished, regardless of what it may otherwise involve. I do not mean to discuss the nature of this policy here, but merely wish to say that my letter to the citizens of Brooklyn, who invited me to speak, does not fit this situation. I should not consider the matter of so much consequence had not Mr. Cleveland himself, personally, become so conspicuous in it.

As things now stand, I might, after the publication of my letter, be pertinently asked, whether I know that Mr. Cleveland agrees with the sentiments I express concerning him; and if I answer that I think so, the occurrences in New York might be pointed at as a reason why I should not think so. Or Mr. Cleveland might be asked whether he agreed with these sentiments, and if the conduct of his campaign is what it seems to be, this might be to him a very embarrassing question. He might perhaps say, he was much pleased to see me think so well of him, but that he took in some respects a view of things different from mine. You will readily understand that under such circumstances my position would be a somewhat ridiculous one. Now, I do not wish to embarrass Mr. Cleveland, nor do I wish to appear ridiculous myself. It seems to me necessary therefore that the situation should become somewhat clearer before I go further.

I believe, for these reasons, that in the first place the publication of my letter should be suspended; and, secondly, I should be very much obliged to you, if you would lay the printed proof slips of my letter before Mr. Cleveland, for expression of his judgment, as to whether the things I say of him may be said without danger of being in any manner contradicted or weakened by him or by those who have authority to speak for him. If he assents, then the letter can be published; if he does not assent, then I shall withdraw the letter, and in a few lines express to the Brooklyn gentlemen my regret, at not being able to comply with their invitation which would be perfectly true, for I have been quite ill again these last days, and it is questionable whether I shall be permitted to go to my new abode near Tarrytown this week, as I intended to do.

I am extremely sorry, dear Mr. Shepard, to put you to so much trouble, but, as you see, the situation has become a very peculiar one, in consequence of Mr. Cleveland's appearance in New York; and as you have had the matter in your hands, and as you are probably much nearer to Mr. Cleveland than I am, I thought of you first and foremost, when considering in what way the existing confusion could be solved. You will certainly understand me as readily admitting that there are strong reasons for Mr. Cleveland's election, other than those which I have set forth. But I believe also that the reasons I give should not be put before the public unless it can be done in perfect truthfulness and in entire good faith. If you will undertake this mission, as I hope you will, you are at liberty to communicate to Mr. Cleveland this note if you see fit to do so. Of course all I say here, and what may be said further, will be regarded, on my part at least, as strictly confidential.