The Writings of Carl Schurz/To President Grant, July 17th, 1870

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2020 F St., July 17, 1870.

Before leaving this city to take part in the political campaign, I should be happy to have a conversation with you about matters of importance to the Administration and the party to which we both belong. Recent events,[1] which cannot fail to excite a deep and strong feeling among the German population of this country, have devolved an influence and duties and responsibilities upon me more comprehensive than any that had formerly fallen to my lot. I have spoken about them to the Secretary of State, but I should be glad to communicate my views to you in person, for, if ever, it is desirable at this moment that there should be a fair understanding between the Administration and myself.

I am painfully sensible of the change which our personal relations have suffered in consequence of our differences on the San Domingo treaty. I have reasons to believe that there has been much mischievous tale-bearing connected with this matter. You have been informed as I understand, that I attacked you personally in the secret deliberations of the Senate. Whoever may have carried that story to you, I pronounce it unqualifiedly untrue. I desire now to remove this erroneous impression, not as a man who has favors to seek, for that is not my condition—but as one who has great interests to serve.

When we had our first conversation about the San Domingo treaty, I told you frankly that I was opposed to it on conscientious grounds and would endeavor to defeat it. When the Senate had closed the first debate on the treaty, I beseeched you to drop the matter there; that advice sprang from patriotic motives, and subsequent events have demonstrated its judiciousness so clearly that I should not hesitate to repeat it. In fighting the treaty, I have used all the legitimate means of parliamentary warfare, and, looking back upon my conduct, I have nothing to conceal and nothing for which I should reproach myself. I fervently hope the question is disposed of not to arise again, for it is my sincere and earnest desire to support your Administration with what ability and influence I may possess.

This is the motive which impels me to write you this note and to ask you whether and when you will be kind enough to grant me a private interview.

May I hope for an answer at your earliest convenience? I intend to leave Washington on Tuesday, to address on Wednesday evening a large German mass-meeting at New York.[2]

  1. Especially the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War.
  2. The request was promptly granted.