The Writings of Carl Schurz/To Edwin Burritt Smith, January 17th, 1901


New York, Jan. 17, 1901.

Thanks for your letter of the 14th and the brief and reply argument of Mr. Aldrich, which I received this morning. I shall read it as soon as possible. The effect of General Harrison's Ann Arbor speech [expressing anti-imperialistic ideas] has been excellent. It has set a good many people to thinking, who were not inclined to think before. I shall not be at all surprised, however, if the Surpeme Court should decide the cases before them on some comparatively unimportant technical points and thus avoid the great issue. In any event we must continue to struggle.

I do not agree with our friends in Boston that we as anti-imperialists should issue an address to the people now “showing that we are still in the fight.” Of course we are, and nobody doubts it. But since the fight is now being carried on by prominent Republicans with great energy and effectiveness, would it not be very poor policy on our part to step forward and divert public attention from them? If we are wise we shall at present let well enough alone, at least so long as the Republican opponents of the imperialistic policy are doing the best that can be done under present circumstances.

I am very glad you did not attend the Bryan dinner. Whatever good qualities Bryan may possess, I have always considered him the evil genius of the anti-imperialistic cause. To vote for him was the most distasteful thing I ever did; and I did it, not as if I had believed in the possibility of his election, but because I wanted to make on my part the strongest imaginable protest against the policy of the [McKinley] Administration.

It now seems probable that the Democrats of a good many States will try to shake off the incubus of the Bryan dictatorship by adopting platforms in their State conventions repudiating, directly or indirectly, the obnoxious features of the Kansas City platform. It is highly desirable that this process of deliverance should go on as rapidly and should be encouraged as much as possible. Nothing, it seems to me, could be more unwise for the anti-imperialists to do than to identify themselves with Bryan in any manner under such circumstances.