The Writings of Carl Schurz/To Rutherford B. Hayes, July 14th, 1876

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Fort Washington, Pa., July 14, 1876.

As I expected, your letter of acceptance has had an excellent effect, and it deserves it all and more. The number of independent voters who have left the fence in consequence of it is not inconsiderable. The Nation also, in its cool way, has declared for you, and its influence with the thinking men of the country is very strong.

At the same time we must not underestimate the difficulties we have to contend with. You are made to bear the sins of others. You can read in Republican papers that President Grant is acting like Tilden s best friend, and indeed, if he goes on much longer “pleasing himself,” nobody knows to what extent he may injure you. Still, I suppose, there is nothing to be done except to show on every possible occasion that Governor Hayes and President Grant are two very different men. I am inclined to think he would hurt you less by coming out openly against you.

But one of the worst things done yet is the election of Secretary [Zachariah] Chandler to the chairmanship of the National Committee. It is in the highest degree improper on principle that a man who wields the patronage and influence of one of the Departments of the Government, should also be the manager of a party in a campaign; and it seems utterly impossible that a member of General Grant's Administration, who is a notorious advocate of the vicious civil service system, which we want to abolish, should be the manager of a campaign in which the reform of the civil service is one of the principal issues. Several Republican papers, seeing the absolute incongruity of this arrangement, have already taken up the matter and are urging him to decline the appointment. This, I suppose, he will not heed, unless some extraordinary influences be brought to bear upon him. What those influences should be, I confess, I do not know. I feel that it would be a delicate matter for you to interfere directly; but something should be done, or the management of the campaign will be the most glaring satire on civil service reform imaginable. In 1872 he was the chairman of the Republican Congressional Committee; at any rate, he had the “laboring oar,” and he gave us then a specimen of his way to conduct a canvass. One of the first things, I presume, will be the levying of assessments on officeholders under the name of “voluntary contributions.” As soon as the first symptoms of a revival of that abuse appear, I would suggest to you to protest against it in a letter to the Committee, saying that you do not want to be elected by means so repugnant to your principles, and to have your protest made public. It would not only be right in itself and place you in the right position, but it would give you ten times more votes than any amount of money raised in that way.

But far better would it be to get Chandler out of his chairmanship, if there is a way to do it; no effort should be spared in that respect.

I am hard at work preparing my first campaign speech and think it will have good effect. But it is so terribly hot that mental labor becomes almost impossible, and I do not get on as fast as I should like. Still, it will come.