The Writings of Carl Schurz/To Grover Cleveland, March 1st, 1893


210 W. 57th St., March 1, 1893.

Accept my sincere thanks for your very kind letter of Feb. 28th and for the great favor you have done me by sending the advance copy of the inaugural. I can well appreciate your anxiety in the face of the problems to be solved. If I can be of any use to you in expressing to you my candid judgment on public questions as they arise, I shall consider it a duty to do so. There is one immediately before us the importance of which cannot be exaggerated. It is that of the calling of an extra session to open in a few weeks.

I have thought of this matter a great deal and arrived at the conclusion that the meeting of Congress cannot be put off many months without danger.

The business community looks to you to save it from a financial disaster. It expects the early calling of an extra session to stop the silver purchases. Your refusal to call it would be a great disappointment and have a very discouraging effect, at a time when discouragement and lack of confidence are especially dangerous. It may possibly be taken as indicating—quite erroneously to be sure, but none the less alarmingly—that the last prop of sound finance was giving way.

Every month of continued silver purchasing will bring us nearer to the premium on gold and a financial crisis. It is doubtful whether the selling of bonds will prove a sure preventive. At any rate it will be a costly method of staving off the worst. It is certainly not a cure. There will be no certainty and confidence until the silver purchase law is actually repealed, and every day of ininactivity involves a loss to the country.

From the point of view of party policy, your failure to call an extra session immediately will be virtually an admission that the Republicans were right in dallying with the matter, that there was really no urgency and that the best of the Democrats are no more determined and energetic than the Republicans were. I apprehend it would not be wise to permit the opposition to say this with reason.

I am told there would be a good prospect of the repeal of the Sherman law if Congress were called together at once. In any event, your influence with Congress would undoubtedly be stronger now than it will be four or five months hence. The doubtful, the wavering, would now be apt to turn to you. Four or five months hence the class of the disappointed will be numerous and you will have new opposing elements to deal with. I think, therefore, your chances would be at least no worse, and probably far better in an extra session called immediately, than in a session later on.

But however that may be, if you call Congress together now, everybody will have to acknowledge that you have done all you could. You will have discharged your duty by giving Congress a chance to do its duty. But if no extra session is called and a financial disturbance occurs in the interval from whatever cause, it will be ascribed to the silver trouble and charged to your, responsibility. The selling of bonds will not prevent this. And as you well know, in such a case the best excuses are of little avail.

The situation is evidently a very perilous one and it seems to me your Administration will best serve the country and most surely maintain itself in the public confidence by prompt and energetic action. Every sign of hesitation will be calculated to increase the danger.

I have read your inaugural with very great enjoyment. It is excellent, and will, I have no doubt, make a very good impression.