The Writings of Carl Schurz/To President McKinley, October 17th, 1897


New York City, Oct. 17, 1897.

I cannot refrain from expressing to you my thanks for what you have said to Mr. McAneny, whose report I have just received, of your determination to enforce your last civil service order. I never had any doubt as to what you would do as soon as the true state of the case came to your notice, and I am sure that decisive action now in the shape of the issuing of a general regulation, and of vigorous discipline administered to recalcitrant officers will at once and forever stop the newspaper clamor questioning the good faith of your order, and that no officer will again treat that order with contempt.

Permit me another suggestion. We are likely to have a fierce fight about the civil service law in Congress next winter. In my humble opinion a strong word in favor of the merit system in your annual message, and some out spoken statements to the same effect in the reports of the Secretaries, especially those of the three great patronage Departments, the Treasury, the Post-Office and the Interior, would be half the battle. Indeed a vigorous pronouncement by the united Administration would probably spike the artillery of the assailants, confirm the Republicans in the faith avowed by their platform and substantially put the matter beyond controversy for the rest of your term.

As you know, my dear Mr. President, we do not agree on all points; but I am all the more anxious to coöperate with you to the best of my ability as to those things on which we do agree, especially as to the cause of civil service reform which we have both so warmly at heart. You may always count not only upon my personal gratitude for every forward step undertaken by you, but also upon my earnest desire to secure the gratitude of others—of the whole country, if that were in my power. I therefore look forward with especial pleasure to the opportunities for presenting your order concerning removals, as a practically accomplished reform, when giving a review of the situation in my annual address at the meeting of the National Civil Service Reform League on December 16th, at Cincinnati.

I trust you have received the suggestions I took the liberty of submitting to you through Mr. McAneny, concerning the supposed interference of your Administration in our municipal election, in the spirit in which they were conceived; and I am exceedingly glad to learn that no such interference on your part is intended. New York municipal politics have always been an extremely dangerous field for any National Administration to venture upon. If Tammany should be successful, the public opinion of the country, as it has already pronounced itself, will doubtless award the responsibility to the Republican machine here; and you can certainly not desire to be involved in the disaster. Your true friends would greatly deplore it. Believe me when I say that this sentiment on my part is inspired not only by my regard for the public interest, but also by a very sincere feeling of friendship for you personally.

I hope you have not seen in my declination to go into the Ohio campaign any want of willingness on my part to please you. I was very sorry I found myself compelled to decline. Be assured that if anything could have induced me to set aside my engagements here and to go, the expression of a wish by you would have done so.