Harper's Weekly Articles on Carl Schurz/Mr. Carl Schurz and his Victims

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Harper's Weekly Articles on Carl Schurz by Eugene Lawrence
Mr. Carl Schurz and his Victims
From Harper's Weekly, September 7, 1872, pp. 693-694.


MR. CARL SCHURZ AND HIS VICTIMS.


By EUGENE LAWRENCE.


Mr. Carl Schurz wanders over the country repeating his disturbed vision of peace. His speeches have but a single idea. He lives in some unpractical region that resembles Utopia rather than any earthly territory, except that it abounds in hidden malice, and is torn by envious discontent. Among all his flowing and mystic periods it is difficult to discover any train of reasoning or to extract any plan of action. His only serious inculcation is that the time has come for “new issues” — that the war is past. But this is a truth which the Republican party has acknowledged for seven years, and upon which all its recent policy has been founded. No sooner had Lee surrendered than it began its course of reconciliation and of peace. It pardoned the rebels; it inflicted no punishment upon the worst criminals of the war; it slowly secured the rights of the colored race, yet it treated their former masters with singular lenity; it reduced taxation, secured economy, and punished every defaulting official; it gave rest and progress to the rebellious States. Under its prudent rule, wherever the evil passions of the former slave-holders have not interfered, it has already raised the South to unexampled prosperity. The small farms, we are told by a recent English traveler, are multiplying; the cotton is of a quality finer than was ever cultivated by the slave; the common school, more valuable than material wealth, is spreading over the Southern States — the gift of the Republican party; nor is there one of the “new issues,” which Mr. Schurz imperfectly suggest, but which have long been familiar to wiser and more cultivated thinkers, that has not been carefully studied and provided for in the Republican policy.

All this Mr. Schurz dreamily overlooks. His “song is all a lamentable lay.” His sympathy is all expended upon the fallen slave-holders; his only policy is to restore them to that control of the nation which they once held, and which they so fatally abused. This seems to be his only conception of a perfect peace; yet of the disastrous effects of this unpatriotic policy we have so clear an instance in the condition of his own State as may well excite the alarm and the indignation of every friend of freedom. It is scarcely a year since Missouri, by the intrigues of Mr. Schurz and his allies, was placed in the hands of the men who had once wasted it with fire and sword, and the condition of the loyal population of that important State is already so terrible as to demand the immediate interference of the general government. Outrages are perpetrated with impunity upon Republican voters; they are whipped, assassinated, or driven from their homes; when they apply to the courts for relief they are cheated of justice; their persecutors are suffered to escape punishment; they find their bitterest enemies seated on the judicial bench. The Governor, Mr. Gratz Brown, wholly neglects his duty, and leaves the suffering people to writhe beneath the intolerable oppression of their former foes. Bands of men, disguised and armed, we are told by the Missouri Democrat, wander over the country under the cover of night, visit the homes of peaceful citizens whose only crime is that they are Republicans, drag them out, whip the, drive them from the country, or shoot them down before their own doors. Many instances are given, with the names of the victims. Charles White, a farmer living near Bloomfield, was recently taken from his house and whipped by a band of men with blackened faces; a Mr. Hoffsteder, another farmer, was treated in a similar way. J. O. Gaesing was flogged and ordered to leave the country. A colored man was whipped by the same band. The Rev. Mr. Calahan was whipped and driven from his home; Colonel William Lawson and his son, men of high respectability, were ordered to leave their county, and the son severely flogged. A great number of persons have been murdered, and no one known to be a Republican is safe in his own home in many counties of Missouri. The only reason assigned by the assassins for these enormities is that their victims were Republicans, and would vote for Grant and Wilson.

Such is the result in his own State of the folly or the madness of Senator Schurz; such is the character of the men to whom he owes his office. The blood of murdered Republicans already cries out against his visionary schemes; his dream of peace is broken by the groans and tears of his victims. The outrages in Missouri are said to be steadily increasing, and the Missouri Democrat sees no hope for its suffering people except in the speedy interference of the national authorities. Yet the example of this dishonored State will serve to show us what must be the condition of the whole South should Schurz and Greeley succeed in their intrigues against the Republican party. Already we are told by careful observers that in those Southern States where the Democracy has gained the control the life of the Republican is often scarcely safe. He is treated with contempt and insult. He never ventures out unarmed. His family tremble for their lives in their own home, and are shut out from the society of their Southern or Democratic neighbors. But if the condition of the white Republicans is made so unendurable under the rule of that faction which has nominated Greeley and Brown, and which is under the patronage of Senator Sumner, still more painful is that of the colored population. In many portions of Georgia the negro, it is stated by persons who have recently fled from persecution in that State, is sinking into a new bondage. The Democratic rulers are reviving in many of the interior counties that severe oppression by which they once held in political subjection both the white and the colored laborer. Upon the latter they exercise all the arts of intimidation and of tyranny. Great colored constituencies are prevented from sharing in the local elections. The voters are driven from the polls by terror; or if they succeed in electing Republican officials, the successful candidate is warned that if he accepts the office to which he is entitled his life will not be safe. He is surrounded by desperate and unsparing foes: he resigns and flies from the country. In one of the southern counties of Missouri, we are told by the Democrat, when the colored people had collected money from their own small earnings to build a school-house, they were forbidden by their Democratic neighbors to use it. The secret associations that had seemed suppressed in the Southern States are once more reviving; a reign of terror is again spreading over that unhappy region; and the colored race, we are told, are trembling before the open threats of rioters and assassins. But we are also assured that these breakers of the peace are as cowardly as they are tyrannical; that while the national authority was sustained by a severe law they hit from the eye of justice; that then the white Republican could throw aside his arms with safety, and the colored citizen of Georgia or Missouri vote as freely as if he were in New York or Massachusetts.

Thus amply have the supporters of Schurz and Greeley already refuted the theories of their chiefs, and perfected in bloodshed an unnatural alliance. If any one desires to see the results of the opposition policy, he need visit only the most “liberal” of the Southern States. Surrounded on the north, east and west by enlightened communities, where elections are free, and no man is harmed, whether he vote for Democrat or Republican, Missouri, under the “liberal” rule, offers a plain example of political proscription. The men who support Greeley whiip or murder the men who would vote for Grant. The adherents of the fallen slave-holders, the wrecks of the rebellious armies, have resumed the unscrupulous cruelty with which they once ruled over Missouri. Amnesty has failed to soften them. They employ the first moments of their restoration to the rights of citizenship in avenging themselves upon the loyal and the patriotic. But if in Missouri, surrounded by the intelligence and good order of Illinois, Kansas, and the patriotic West, the farmer is tortured or shot, the clergyman and the Republican leaders whipped and driven from their homes, it is easy to conceive what must be the dangers that await the loyal voters in the States where the rebel faction rules without a witness and without a check. In that remarkable victory which the small farmers, the laboring classes, and the colored population have recently won in North Carolina over their former tyrants few of us in the North can understand the courage, and even the heroic daring, which which they went to the polls. Here, too, the farmer had been dragged from his homestead and whipped by the agents of the rebellious faction until he abjured Republicanism; the colored voters had been tortured or terrified by unknown conspirators; the schoolhouse had been burned, the teacher banished; and bands of assassins had ridden by night through the country, as in “liberal” Missouri, on their bloody canvass. If it were known in the city of New York that such an organization existed, and that he who voted the Republican ticket would certainly be beaten or murdered, how many timid citizens would conceal their Republicanism! — how easy would be the triumph of their foes! But in North Carolina the voter cast his ballot often with the prospect of death or of torture before him. Yet he felt that the alternative of submission to the “liberal” tyranny was worse than either. He went courageously to the pools, and conquered his foes. It is only by a similar heroic courage that the farmers and mechanics, the working-men and the colored population of every Southern State can achieve their own deliverance.

Upon all these deeds of crime the “liberal” leaders look with complacency. They have no reproof for the rebels who have returned the gift of amnesty with such treacherous ingratitude, no sympathy for the sufferers who have fallen in Missouri, or are trembling for their liberties in Georgia. Senators Sumner and Schurz wander over the country repeating the same delusive visions, expending all their benevolence upon the fallen faction of the slave-holders. Mr. Sumner, in letters and speeches, denounces “the policy of hate.” No shadow of resentment lingers in his breast against any of the most depraved agents of the rebellion. He is all tenderness and forgiveness. He has pardoned a Brooks; he could embrace a Davis; he is grateful for the support of the men who set on fire Cincinnati or attempted New York. Nor is this frame of mind reprehensible, provided it is joined with prudence: it has long been the policy of the Republican party to pardon while it restrained the passions of the rebels. But unhappily Mr. Sumner still retains his own “policy of hate.” His benevolence is not universal, and with all the epithets of rage and scorn he assails President Grant and the Union party. In this singular revulsion he teaches boundless forgiveness to the enemies of freedom, undying hatred to its chief supporter. Never, we believe, has any President been assailed with such noisy violence. Washington more than once complains of the calumnies of his foes; Lincoln looked down calmly upon the feeble criticisms of a Greeley, the coarse assaults of the traitorous press; but upon President Grant Mr. Sumner has wasted all the resources of his reading, and, in his strange delusion, striven to stab the fame of his preserver. To his jealous mind innocence is tortured into crime, and patience into confession. He rages against the hand that rescued him from his enemies, and seems almost to imagine that it is he and not General Grant who restored the republic. His delusion is shared by his friends. In the speeches of Schurz or Greeley one subject is carefully omitted. In their vindictive assaults upon the President they strive to banish from the minds of his countrymen all recollection of his patriotic services. But the nation remembers them; they will rush upon the memory of every patriot with startling clearness as the election draws near in which he is to decide between the President and his defamers, between the friends or the destroyers of freedom. Again the memories of Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and Richmond will mingle with the shouts of victory as the hosts of freemen ride down their ancient foes, and disperse forever the sordid throngs of chivalry and of slavery.


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This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).