The Writings of Carl Schurz/To L. A. Sherman, April 15th, 1876


New York, April 15, 1876.

Thanks for your kind letter. Let me say that I remember you very well and am sincerely glad to hear from you. I am also happy to learn that the movement in favor of a strong reform candidate like Mr. Bristow is growing in favor with the Republicans of Michigan. Be assured that all I desire is, not to embarrass, but to strengthen it. By the time this reaches you, you will have seen in the papers the full text of an invitation to a Conference to be held in the City of New York, signed by five citizens, of whom I am one. The terms of that invitation must have convinced you that due regard is paid to the friends of genuine reform inside of the Republican party. With regard to this movement I desire to bring to your notice a few points:

1. It is not confined to the Liberals of 1872. There are a good many men of influence connected with it who so far have been counted as Republicans in good standing.

2. It is not intended to assume any attitude hostile to the Republican party, provided that party nominates men of known character and ability as thorough reformers; and it is thought that a strong but at the same time inoffensive expression of the sentiments of the independent element will very materially strengthen the friends of reform inside of the party, and make the machine men appreciate the alternative of good nominations or defeat.

3. There is at present, as far as I can learn, no intention of making independent nominations at the meeting we contemplate. But we do desire to make our sentiments and opinions with regard to the requirements of our present situation clearly understood, so that there be no mistake about them, reserving to ourselves the right of acting according to our convictions of duty when the Cincinnati Convention shall have taken place.

To this only those Republicans will object who desire to continue the existing abuses of party government and who find us as a stumbling-block in their way. But the friends of reform in the Republican party will welcome us as their friends and natural allies, as we shall be glad to consider them; and it gives me great pleasure to say that many prominent Republicans in this region, as also in the Western States, are already taking that view of the matter. That I, personally, am not “hostile” to the Republican party when it promotes the best interests of the country, I have shown, I think, last fall in Ohio.

While I know that the reform sentiment in the Republican party is growing, I do not think, I regret to say, that it will be strong enough in the National Convention to beat the “machine-men,” without outside aid. That aid we hope to furnish, and I believe, therefore, that the movement we are engaged in, is entitled to commendation and encouragement on your part.

I shall be obliged to you if you will furnish me further information concerning the state of things in your region, and hope to hear from you soon again. Of course, you will please regard this letter a private one, not to be publicly used.

  1. Editor of The Times, Port Huron, Mich.