The Writings of Carl Schurz/To Moorfield Storey, August 11th, 1900


Bolton Landing, Lake George, N. Y.,
Aug. 11, 1900.

Your letter has just reached me. Bryan's speech is indeed excellent, but we must not forget that he will publish also a “letter of acceptance” in which, as he has announced, he will discuss “all the issues.” As to imperialism, he cannot do better than he has done in his speech. As to the other issues he can do, and is not unlikely to do, a great deal of mischief. My opinion as to the desirability of an independent nomination remains the same.

[J. B.] Henderson was here last Thursday and spent a whole day with me. As to the policy of nominating a third ticket, we were quite in accord after having read Bryan's speech. I regret to say that owing to the state of his health, which forbids any exertion or excitement, he will probably not be at Indianapolis and will not accept the independent nomination. We went over the list of available men and came to the conclusion that, unless Reed consents to serve, which is improbable, General William Birney of Washington might answer. He is the son of Mr. Birney who was the conscience candidate in the old anti-slavery times, an historical association which might be regarded as of some significance; and Henderson, who knows him well, vouches for him as a man of ability and high character and a good speaker. I have written to Burritt Smith and to Osborne about this.

I say this[1] as one who, I need not tell you, wants McKinley defeated as much as anybody. I say it also as an old campaigner who has had a good deal to do with the “doubtful vote” and who thinks that this is the best way to bring about what we wish to accomplish. Our friends should consider that there is a vast difference between a Gold-Democratic third ticket and a third ticket headed by an old Republican and appealing to Republican voters.

Of course, I do not want to dictate. Nor do I wish my name to be quoted in the public discussions of the Convention. But if you think it will be of any use in private consultation to communicate in a confidential way to others what I have written to you, you are, as we understand one another, at perfect liberty to do so.

I am extremely sorry that I cannot be at Indianapolis. . . .

P. S. Let me add, that as I have written Burritt Smith, the choice between different courses of action which he has submitted to me and will no doubt submit to you, seems to me on the whole judicious, unless the Liberty Congress can be substantially united in making an independent nomination, which would seem to me the best course. Otherwise the Osborne people should be encouraged to make that nomination. Nor, if Birney's name is taken into consideration, should a first refusal on his part be at once taken as final. As you will remember, General Palmer in 1896 at last, in spite of his reluctance, permitted himself to be pressed into service.

  1. His reasons for desiring a third ticket. See letter of Aug. 7, 1900.