The Writings of Carl Schurz/To Samuel Bowles, May 11th, 1872


Washington, May 11, 1872.

I have received your letter and the newspaper slips inclosed in it, and I am very grateful to you for the kind things you say of me. Believe me, I appreciate the approval and friendship of a man like yourself very highly and I find great encouragement in it, especially in my present situation which is surrounded with unusual perplexities.

I cannot yet think of the results of the Cincinnati Convention without a pang. I have worked for the cause of reform, in the largest sense of the word, in good faith. I was frequently told at Cincinnati that I might exercise a decisive influence upon the selection of the candidates, and probably it was so. I did not do it, because I considered it a vulgar ambition to play the part of a President-maker and because I desired that the nomination should appear as the spontaneous outgrowth of an elevated popular feeling, which would have made it stronger and more valuable. Everything seemed to promise so well. And then to see a movement which had apparently been so successful, beyond all reasonable anticipations, at the decisive moment taken possession of by a combination of politicians striking and executing a bargain in the open light of day—and politicians, too, belonging to just that tribe we thought we were righting against—and the whole movement stripped of its higher moral character and dragged down to the level of an ordinary political operation; this, let me confess it, was a hard blow, and if I appear in the light of a defeated party, I do under such circumstances not object.

Well, we have now to deal with facts. The Cincinnati ticket is evidently gathering strength, but nobody can tell yet what new emergencies the confusion now prevailing may bring forth.

Who told you that pretty, dramatic story about my return to Judge Stallo's house? It is not quite correct. I did not say: “I am overwhelmed and discouraged.” I never say such things. I found my friends there in a state of great dejection, and, referring to the University to be built in front of Judge Stallo's house, I said: “Now let us talk about the University.” But it is needless to say the conversation about the University did not get under way; we were too full of what had happened, and the piano helped us along.

Let me hear from you as often as you feel like it.