The Writings of Carl Schurz/To Rutherford B. Hayes, March 1st, 1877


St. Louis, Mar. 1, 1877.

Not hearing from you yesterday I was in doubt whether you desired to meet me on the train in going to Washington—it occurred to me that you might have good reasons for thinking it inexpedient—so I postponed my departure for New York until to-day. I expect to arrive there Saturday morning and may stay there two or three days, although my business will keep me only a few hours. But if I can be of any use to you at Washington now, or you desire for any reason that I should be there, I can without the least inconvenience go at a moment's notice. A letter or telegram would reach me at 110 West 34th Street, care of Dr. Jacobi.

Yesterday I received a letter from a prominent man who does not wish his name mentioned, in which the following passage occurs: I should like to write to Governor Hayes but do not want to appear officious. You are probably in correspondence with him, and I think you would do him a service by communicating to him what I am going to say to you now. I see from the Cincinnati Commercial, which probably speaks advisedly, that Governor Hayes is going to exclude from his Cabinet all candidates for the Presidency. I think this is wise. I was, as you know, a Bristow man at the Cincinnati Convention, and it would have pleased me to see Bristow restored to his place in the Treasury Department. But if Governor Hayes acts on the principle that none of the Presidential candidates shall go into his Cabinet, Bristow has to stay out with the rest. That, I think, is proper. But I understand some of the Presidential aspirants are going to try to foist on the incoming President their next friends, their confidential agents and tools for Cabinet places, especially for the Treasury, the Post-Office, the Interior and the Navy, which have a large patronage, to run those Departments in their respective interests. In that regard Governor Hayes should be cautioned by his friends and you ought to write or talk to him about it. He might just as well appoint the Presidential candidates themselves as their wirepullers. All of which is respectfully submitted.

On the whole there appears to be some wisdom in the above. I suppose you are overrun with the most urgent recommendations, and some attempts of the kind described by my correspondent may have been made. It will probably be impossible to satisfy all the great party leaders consistently with your principles and aims. In that case would it not be the most prudent policy to give neither of them an advantage, but to fill all the places according to your own views of the public good? If the confidential friend of one is appointed, and the friend of another one is not, the latter will have a grievance. If the confidential friends of all of them are left out, each one will at least have the compensating satisfaction to know that none of the others is preferred. In that way you may come nearest pleasing them all, and strengthen your Administration for all good purposes at the same time.

From your last letter I infer that you have made no selection yet for the Post-Office. That place, on account of its large patronage and its consequent importance for an aspiring politician to have it run in his interests may be the object of a struggle around you. Would it not, in that case, be well to think once more of Governor Jewell, who was probably the best Postmaster-General the country has had for a generation, and who has already proved his ability and desire to conduct the Department on the strictest business principles and in the interests of no person? Or, if you do not see fit to appoint him, could not a man of the same ability and principles be found?

I see by the papers that you are to take the oath of office at the White House on Sunday. Is that to preclude a public ceremony at which your inaugural is to be delivered? I hope the country will not lose the latter.

P.S. This moment I receive your letter of the 27th. I guessed right and am glad I did not start yesterday. I may hope, then, if you desire me in Washington, to have a despatch in New York.