Visit of the Hon. Carl Schurz to Boston/Letters

Boston: John Wilson and Son, pages 71–77




Equitable Building,
, March 8, 1881.

Dear Sir,—The committee having charge of the invitations to the dinner to be given to the Hon. Carl Schurz in Boston, on Tuesday, March 22, cordially extend to you an invitation to attend the dinner, and to share with Mr. Schurz the appreciation which citizens of Massachusetts entertain for the satisfactory manner in which the Cabinet officers of the last Administration performed their manifold and laborious duties.

It is especially the wish of the Committee that the Massachusetts representative in the last Cabinet should receive the honors due to his faithful and able performances; and you are therefore placed first on the list of invited guests to the dinner.

Very sincerely yours,

Francis Parkman.
Edward Atkinson.
Alfred D. Chandler.

Hon. Charles Devens, Washington


Washington, March 13, 1881.

Gentlemen,—I am much obliged by the invitation to attend the dinner to be given to the Hon. Carl Schurz on March 22. I regret that I cannot answer definitely that I will be present on the occasion, as it is barely possible that some engagements, personal and professional, already made, may interfere; but I shall expect and hope to be with you at the time named.

Whether present or absent, I shall always render willing testimony to the ability and fidelity with which your distinguished guest has performed his arduous duties during the last four years.

For your kind association of my labors in the last Cabinet with his, and your more than courteous mention of them, and for the position you assign me among the invited guests, I am more than grateful.

Very sincerely yours,

Charles Devens.

Francis Parkman, Edward Atkinson, Alfred D. Chandler.


Washington, March 15, 1881.

Gentlemen,—In my note of the 13th inst. I suggested that it was possible that a professional engagement might deprive me of the pleasure of accepting your invitation to the dinner to be given to the Hon. Carl Schurz.

At that time I had a case specially assigned for Wednesday of the present week in the Supreme Court here. The illness of Judge Bradley has compelled that court to adjourn for a week, and the case in question was reassigned by the court for Monday, the 21st inst. It is one which I consented to argue after considerable urgency, and, although private in its character, involves public considerations of great interest in connection with the construction of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. I cannot, therefore, honorably abandon it; although, if I alone were to determine the matter, I should feel that my associate with whom I have prepared the brief could satisfactorily present it to the court without my assistance.

I must, under these circumstances, decline the invitation tendered to me; but, in so doing, I beg to render my most cordial tribute to the ability, care, and fidelity with which your guest has performed his important duties as Secretary of the Interior, and the pleasure which I have had in four years of intimate personal and official association with him.

With thanks for your courteous invitation, believe me, gentlemen, your obedient servant,

Charles Devens.

Francis Parkman, Edward Atkinson, Alfred D. Chandler.


Fremont, Ohio, 14 March, 1881.

Gentlemen,—I regret that I cannot accept your kind invitation to the dinner to be given to Mr. Schurz in Boston on the 22d. It is a personal gratification to know the appreciation which citizens of Massachusetts entertain for the character and services of Mr. Schurz. I would be glad to unite with them in doing him honor.


R. B. Hayes.

Francis Parkman, Edward Atkinson, Alfred D. Chandler.


1507 K Street, Washington, March 12, 1881.

Gentlemen,—I have had the honor to receive your kind invitation to attend the dinner to be given in Boston to Mr. Schurz on the 22d inst.

I have supposed that it might be in my power, as it certainly is my desire, to take part in this testimony to the public character and services of Mr. Schurz; but the pressure of engagements, in the short interval before I am obliged to sail for Europe, will not permit me to do so.

You may be sure that Mr. Schurz' associates in the late administration not only share the general esteem in which his fellow-citizens regard him and his conduct of affairs, but feel a personal gratification in every demonstration in his honor.

With my thanks for the attention of your invitation, and my great regret that circumstances preclude my accepting it,

I am, gentlemen, very truly yours,

Wm. M. Evarts.

Francis Parkman, Edward Atkinson, Alfred D. Chandler,


Washington, March 10, 1881.

Messrs. Francis Parkman and others, Boston, Mass.
Gentlemen,—I should be delighted to accept your invitation to a dinner to be given to the Hon. Carl Schurz on Tuesday, March 22; but my official duties will probably require me to be in the Senate at that time.

My acquaintance with General Schurz was formed when we were both members of the Senate; but the more intimate acquaintance with him by four years' association in the Cabinet impressed me more than ever with the admirable qualities of head and heart which he possesses. His wonderful acquirements as a linguist and an orator, and his clear judgment and perception as to the truth of all political questions, made him an admirable Cabinet officer, and secured the discharge of all the duties imposed upon the Interior Department with fidelity and integrity.

The citizens of Boston do well to honor General Schurz, and he is deserving of all that you can bestow upon him.

Very respectfully,

John Sherman.


West New Brighton, Staten Island, N.Y., 18 March, 1881.

Francis Parkman, Esq., for the Committee.
Dear Sir,—I am very much honored by the invitation to the dinner to be given to Mr. Schurz, and I regret sincerely that engagements which I cannot disregard nor postpone prevent my acceptance.

I should most gladly unite in your tribute to the “eminent ability, the marked fidelity, and the approved success” of his official conduct. Mr. Schurz has many claims to honorable distinction, but not the least of them is that he brought a firm, efficient, and purifying hand to the administration of a department in which the most intricate and widespread abuses of many kinds had been, at least, suspected; and from the evil system of minor appointment and removal in the Department itself, to the vast public interests involved in its exterior operations, his energy, sagacity, and fidelity have been most beneficially felt. Should Mr. Schurz' views, and the recommendations of ex-President Hayes in accordance with them, he adopted by Congress, a great National wrong will be corrected; and a truly just and humane Indian policy will date from his administration of the Interior Department.

That great public services should be attended by great and unmerited hostility is an incident too familiar to be surprising. But when time has healed the wounds of personal feeling, and the character and results of his political and official action are dispassionately estimated, it will be seen, I think, that, since Albert Gallatin, no American citizen not born upon our soil has performed more honorable public service, or merits public respect more truly, than Carl Schurz.

Very truly yours,

George William Curtis.


Boston, March 21, 1881.

Hon. Charles R. Codman.
My Dear Sir,—I regret that the state of my health will prevent my attendance at the dinner to Mr. Schurz; and doubly regret it because his high distinction has been earned, not by arts of political management, but by the knowledge and practice of good government.

He has been beset with many difficulties. One of the questions with which he has had to deal is complicated to the last degree and full of perplexing alternatives, partly through inherent causes, and partly through the faults of the past. The nation has had much to answer for in its relations with the Indians, and it is a matter of hearty congratulation that some signs of compunction begin at last to appear. Perhaps it is natural for us, under the circumstances, to try to find a scapegoat; but it is hardly fair to choose our best citizens to bear the burden of our iniquities. Justice should be just on both sides. High character and eminent services have their rights; and among them is the right of not being pelted with hard names without convincing proof that they are deserved. We are much too good-natured toward those who deserve ill of the country, and we have fallen into a bad way of condoning vices, both public and private. It will be worse for us still if we learn to ignore the virtues and talents of public men, and suffer the noblest record to pass for nothing. To do so is not only a wrong to one man, but an injury to society itself.

Yours very truly,

Francis Parkman.