The Writings of Carl Schurz/To Mrs. Schurz, June 16th, 1865


Washington, June 16, 1865.

Well, now I know what the President wants: I am to visit the Southern States, in order to inform myself thoroughly on the conditions prevailing there, give my opinion of them to the Government and make certain suggestions. He complained of being unable to procure reliable information and, consequently, being always obliged to act in the dark. I went at once to Stanton to talk the matter over with him. Stanton s answer to my inquiry was that he considered it absolutely necessary that I accept the mission; that my report, even if it did not decide the President's course of action, would be of the most vital interest in the discussions of the next Congress; that the President could not simply put my report into his pocket; that my opinions and experiences would go to the public officially, and could not fail to have some influence. But if I declined, the President would be able later to say to the radicals: “I have acted upon the information which was at my command. I wished to send down one of your own men to enlighten me about the state of affairs and give me his advice, but he did not wish to go!”

Stanton is right. I told the President this morning that I wished first to know if the plan could be made feasible by the withdrawal of my resignation [from the Army], or otherwise, and that I would then give him my decision. There is to be a session of the Cabinet this afternoon, at which it is intended to discuss the matter.

  1. Translated from the German.