The Writings of Carl Schurz/To John Sherman, February 4th, 1889


New York, Feb. 4, 1889.

I thank you very much for your kind note and the copy of your speech which you had the goodness to send me. Your presentation of the case is as lucid as your conclusions are wise and statesmanlike. I have informed myself about this Samoan business as thoroughly as possible from all the sources open to me, and I have no doubt that if the negotiations concerning it are conducted in that calm, dispassionate spirit and with that sense of responsibility which animate your speech, all differences will be settled in an honorable manner and without any disturbance of our international relations.

As to the autonomy of the Samoan Islands and the maintenance of all treaty rights, the treaty Powers seem to be in substantial accord now. An agreement among them concerning their participation in the government of Samoa can probably be arrived at more easily after the present excitement than before.

Danger may, however, still arise from two sources. One is the greedy and quarrelsome spirit of the traders on the islands, who are constantly seeking to drag the representatives of their respective governments into their disputes and do not care, in their hot pursuit of gain and power, whether they disturb the peace of the world. And the other is the possibility that in the conduct of the diplomatic correspondence some indiscretion be committed, raising points of honor, or entangling one party or the other in delicate positions from which creditable retreat is difficult.

It is, therefore, to be hoped that the matter will be settled as speedily as possible, for as long as it is not, all sorts of dangerous accidents may intervene. You have certainly done a valuable public service with your speech and I trust it will bear good fruit. Can you tell me whether it foreshadows the policy of the incoming Administration?