The Writings of Carl Schurz/To George William Curtis, December 29th, 1879


Department of the Interior
, Dec. 29, 1879.

I intended to answer your last note some time ago but the current business of the Department would not let me do so.

It seems to me that it is time for the opponents of General Grant's nomination to act. The “boom business” has been so much overdone that the public mind is open for a reaction. I have watched the matter with great attention and firmly believe now in the possibility of preventing the mischief. All that is necessary now is that those who are earnestly opposed to the third term should openly say so. You strike the nail on the head in saying that the real danger consists in “the habituation of the popular mind to personal government.” But I think you are not right in your apprehension that the people have no clear appreciation of that danger. It is just this appreciation, together with their remembrance of the corruptions and abuses of the Grant regime, that makes the Germans so unanimous in their opposition to the third term. I see this cropping out everywhere. Without the German Republican vote several of the Northwestern States, such as Wisconsin, Illinois and Ohio, cannot be carried. This is gradually becoming well understood among politicians. Now let it be known that the Independent Republican element in New York is of the same mind,—let this become known through a strong and unmistakable demonstration, and the back of the Grant movement will be broken.

Why not proceed in Harper's Weekly? And if you do not think it practicable to speak out bluntly there editorially—I mean as to the support of Grant in case of his nomination—would not Harper's Weekly publish communications stating the whole argument?

I repeat, it seems to be time now to go forward. A few weeks hence the practical preparations for the elections of delegates to the National Convention will commence, and now we can inaugurate a healthy movement not only to prevent Grant's nomination but that of any candidate whose record is not clean. Determined action now will be apt to save us a great deal of trouble. What has been said and done so far may remain without effect unless followed up with more decided demonstrations. Is the organization of the “scratchers” in any manner active? They should not hesitate now to step forward and make known their minds.

I write to you with entire frankness, knowing that you fully appreciate the greatness of the issue. I hope you will communicate with me, of course, in entire confidence. I find that we are stronger in numbers as well as influence than we thought some time ago. We can afford to “stand up and be counted.”