The Writings of Carl Schurz/To Rutherford B. Hayes, February 20th, 1877


St. Louis, Feb. 20, 1877.

The enclosed letter has just been communicated to me. Its contents explain why I submit it to you. Mr. Coste, to whom the letter is addressed, is the financial manager of the Life Association here and a friend of mine. General Hood is the manager of the Louisiana Department of that Company. He is the same General Hood who commanded a Confederate army in the last Tennessee campaign in 1864. I met him twice or three times after the war; he was a brave soldier, and is now, as I believe, a well disposed citizen. I do not think he has ever taken any active part in politics. Whether he is at all a partisan in sentiment I cannot tell. Beyond the statement contained in his letter and what we see in the newspapers I have no information about the present condition of things in Louisiana. The demand for the withdrawal of the Federal troops seems to indicate a purpose to blow the Packard government away by a popular rising, as they did with the Kellogg government in 1874. The latest Washington despatches state that General Grant does not intend to take any decisive step with regard to the two rival governments in Louisiana, but to refer the matter to Congress. It is difficult to see what Congress may be able to do within the few remaining days of this session, especially considering the present excitement of party feeling. It is very probable that General Grant means to leave that case to your Administration for settlement and meanwhile to do nothing, unless the Democrats in Louisiana precipitate a conflict before the 4th of March, which might complicate matters still more.

It occurs to me that you might, perhaps, through some confidential friend, admonish the Democratic leaders in Louisiana to keep the peace, with a view to arrange matters after your accession to power, possibly somewhat after the manner of the Wheeler compromise of 1875, although in this case not through Congressional action, as Congress will not be in session after the 4th of March, but through the moral influence of the Administration. It is very delicate business, however, especially as it may become of great importance with regard to your Southern policy. I think I see a way out, but it will be open only when you have a good hold on the confidence of the Southern people.