The Writings of Carl Schurz/To Edwin Burritt Smith, August 7th, 1900


Bolton Landing, N. Y.,
Aug. 7, 1900.

Your letter of the 4th inst. reached me yesterday. Accept my sincere thanks for your words of sympathy. You knew my boy well enough to appreciate how hard the blow was.[1]

I am sorry to say I do not think I shall be able to be at Indianapolis. Let me tell you confidentially that I do not feel myself in a condition fit for appearance in public, or to undergo any strain. I need a little time to build myself up again for the work I shall have to do in the campaign. I think I shall remain in seclusion until after Herbert's burial. This will take place soon after the return of my son Carl from Europe. We expect him Thursday or Friday next week, just the time set for the Indianapolis meeting. I trust my non-appearance there will not be misunderstood by anybody under the circumstances.

Now, as to the “suggestions” for the action of the Liberty Congress. I think they are on the whole judicious, unless you can unite—or substantially unite—the Congress upon the nomination of a third ticket. This, I think, would be the wisest course, for the present as well as for the future—for the present because it would, in my opinion, prevent a great many voters from drifting to McKinley and give us an absolutely aggressive position in the campaign, a thing of which the Administration party is most afraid, as its newspapers show;—for the future, because it will, after the election, furnish a nucleus for a permanent organization which has long been needed—no matter how many or how few votes the third ticket may get. As to the platform, the recent Plaza Hotel meeting presided over by Mr. Osborne furnished a good synopsis.

If it is thought that the Liberty Congress can be substantially united on a third nomination, then it might be practicable to have the members of the meeting of August 14th come into the Liberty Congress. However, the practicability of this will depend upon circumstances, a correct judgment of which can be formed only on the spot.

I know, Mr. Boutwell and Mr. Erving Winslow are strongly opposed to the third-ticket plan. Mr. Winslow is writing very vivacious letters against it in which he says that most anti-imperialists are determined to vote for Bryan directly. It seems Mr. Winslow will not understand that the third ticket will not prevent any one who wants to vote for Bryan from doing so, while it will be apt to keep a great many people who will not vote for Bryan, from drifting over to McKinley.

Mr. Boutwell thinks that the anti-imperialists will have more influence with Bryan, in case of his election, if he were supported directly without the intervention of a third ticket. As to that influence he would perhaps think differently had he had the experience that some of us have had.

But if the Liberty Congress cannot be substantially united upon an independent nomination, the course suggested by you would seem to me on the whole a wise one—except the advice to vote in case of stress for the Prohibition candidate, for very obvious reasons.

Mr. Osborne was here yesterday. He thought that Thomas B. Reed would be the best independent nomination—just as I think. But if he declined to accept, which is almost sure, John B. Henderson for President and Senator Chaffee for Vice-President would be suitable. I think so, too. I shall confer with Henderson very soon.

It seems to me of very great importance that we should have a National Committee and as many local committees as possible under whose auspices we can conduct our campaign.

  1. His son Herbert, the youngest of his four children, born in March, 1876, had died when travelling in England.