The Writings of Carl Schurz/To Edwin Burritt Smith, July 8th, 1900


Bolton Landing, Lake George, N. Y.,
July 8, 1900.

I received your letter of the 5th with the call for the “Liberty Congress” [at Indianapolis], last night. I think the call is well expressed as it stands.

To judge from what I read in the papers and in my correspondence, and from what I hear in conversation, the action of the Democratic Convention has produced the worst possible impression. The fight about the free-coinage plank in the Committee and the subsequent adoption of it has pushed the silver question into the foreground again and given it much more prominence than it would have had, if the resolution had not been discussed at all. I think if the election were to take place within a week, McKinley would have an overwhelming success. Friends of mine right here, who had reconciled themselves to the support of Bryan on the ground that imperialism could not be defeated in any other way, are now as profoundly disgusted with the Democrats as they were in 1896. I have no doubt that this feeling is widespread among people who otherwise agree with us on the matter of imperialism.

When I spoke to you about the possible necessity of a third ticket, it was in anticipation of such a state of things. I would now ask you to consider whether it will not be our best policy at the Liberty Congress to strike out boldly for a new party. There is a very widespread feeling that the people have permitted themselves long enough, and too long, to be forced by two rotten old party carcasses to choose between two evils. Is it not possible that this sentiment would give a strong and hearty response to a trumpet call for emancipation from this disgraceful serfdom, and that a new organization so created might not only attract the Republican anti-imperialists from the support of McKinley, but also become strong enough to live? Please think of this, consult about it with your friends in Chicago and inform me of your conclusions. The developments of the campaign may indeed put a new face on things before we meet on August 15th. But at present the situation looks desperate. If it does not improve through the action of other causes, a bold step and a striking appeal such as I have suggested may redeem it.

I enclose a short list of names to whom invitations might be addressed.