The Writings of Carl Schurz/To President Roosevelt, September 6th, 1905


Bolton Landing, Sept. 6, 1905.

Now that the flood of congratulations that have been pouring in upon you from all points of the compass has somewhat subsided, I venture to add mine, and I hope you will accept it in the spirit in which it is offered. Just because I have opposed you, I feel all the more bound to felicitate you upon an exploit which has so greatly added to the prestige of our Republic and conferred such imperishable honor upon your name. I cannot refrain from saying to you that I regard your interposition between Japan and Russia as one of the most meritorious and brilliant achievements of our age, not only bold and noble in conception, but most admirable for the exquisite skill and tact with which it was carried through. Had it been less successful, it would not have been less deserving. The true mission and the immense moral influence of this Republic as the great peace Power of the world have never been so strikingly and beneficently demonstrated as they have been demonstrated by you, with a wisdom and energy which command the highest appreciation and gratitude of every good American and every true friend of humanity.

The honors you have won might indeed be thought sufficient to satisfy any man's ambition, but I hope you will pardon me if I venture to add a word in behalf of another service to be rendered to mankind which would be equal, if not superior, in value to the ending of the war between Russia and Japan. I mean the gradual diminution of the oppressive burdens imposed upon the nations of the world by armed peace. These burdens are constantly growing and threaten to grow indefinitely. You will remember that the desire to lighten just this incubus was the original impulse from which the Hague Tribunal sprung. I know you have the further development of the usefulness of that Tribunal much at heart. Indeed, you have already done much to strengthen its position, to enlarge the sphere of its activity and to enhance its prestige. Nothing, I should think, would more strongly appeal to your desire to do the greatest possible service to humanity than the opportunity to promote the original purpose of the Hague movement by helping to relieve mankind of one of its most grievous oppressions.

I am well aware of the obstacles standing in the way of any effort looking to the gradual disarmament of the Powers—pride, jealousy, suspicion, traditional ways of thinking and what not. These obstacles are certainly very formidable, but I know also that if, to-day there is any man in the world that can give a strong impetus, a real propulsive force to such a movement, you are that man. Your position is unique. I cannot remember any head of a state in history who could exercise so powerful and persuasive an influence not only upon foreign peoples, but upon foreign Governments, as you now can, not by armies and navies, but by your extraordinary record as a peacemaker, by the universal confidence in the unselfishness of your purposes in international dealings and by the character of the great Republic you represent. The very fact that you are well known to have zealously urged the construction of a great war-fleet for the United States (and of all countries ours is financially the ablest to build up and maintain such a fleet) and the consequent self-denial which your leadership in a movement for gradual disarmament would involve, would give to that leadership a peculiar moral force in the struggle with obstacles which to the ordinary mind under ordinary circumstances might seem insuperable.

I hope you will not look upon this letter as a presumptuous intrusion. Old as I am, with at best only a few years before me, I see an exceptional opportunity for an inestimable and much needed benefaction to be conferred upon mankind; I see a man in a position of almost unexampled moral power peculiarly fitted to become a most potent, if not the decisive, factor in an effort to accomplish that benefaction; and I see reason to apprehend that, for a long time to come, there will not be another man similarly fitted by nature or by circumstance. I may, therefore, be pardoned if, carried away by the ardent wish still to witness in my day at least a hopeful beginning of so great and beneficent a work, I submit these suggestions to you while your well-earned laurels as a champion of the world's peace are still fresh.