The Writings of Carl Schurz/To Charles Francis Adams, Jr., July 4th, 1877

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Department of the Interior
, July 4, 1877.

I regret as much as you do, that we did not meet at Boston. I should have been glad indeed to discuss with you the points mentioned in your letter more exhaustively than it can be done in the way of hurried correspondence.

On the whole, however, the question which every good citizen has to decide for himself under existing circumstances seems to me very simple. Whatever opinions you may entertain as to what ought to have been, there can be no doubt as to what is. The electoral question has been decided upon a plan agreed upon by both parties and in a legal way. The decision, whatever you may think of its merits, is virtually beyond the reach of review. In point of legal form the Government is as legitimate as any of its predecessors, just as the rights of an individual are when they have been affirmed by a decision of the Supreme Court. This fact is accepted by the people without distinction of party with very few exceptions.

There is, therefore, only one question remaining. If a Government of such standing undertakes to accomplish things which you recognize as good, will it be best to support and aid it in such endeavors, or to weaken it by a continued impeachment of its title? Is not the former course the best, especially when you admit that, if the measures of the Government succeed, the principal agencies of mischief will be done away with? Would it be better to confine yourself to an opposition of which evidently no good can come?—Especially when by carrying on such an opposition you aid the most dangerous elements in the body-politic? Even if you were to look at it as a mere choice of evils, can that choice be doubtful?

Indeed, we want your aid in the pursuit of our purposes, as well as the aid of all men who act on the same principles in political life in the way of criticism, suggestion, advice and impulse—and I hope we shall have it.