General Carl Schurz Meets with President Lincoln

August 11, 1864

Presidential aide John Hay writes General Carl Schurz: “The President directs me to request that you will proceed at once to Washington and report to him in person.”

Historian Allen C. Guelzo wrote: “The people promised themselves when General Grant started out that he would take Richmond in June,’ Lincoln told Schuyler Hamilton that August. ‘He didn’t take it, and they blame me.’ And this time the consequences were likely to be severer than merely public disapproval. Lincoln was now staring a re-election campaign in the face in November, and unless he resorted to martial law to cancel the election (something he never seems to have seriously considered at any moment), he might conceivably lose it to a Democratic candidate who would settle for peace at any price. ‘You think I don’t know I am going to be beaten,’ Lincoln warned Hamilton, ‘but I do, and unless some great change takes place, badly beaten.”

New York Tribune Editor Horace Greeley writes to President Lincoln regarding requests to publish correspondence regarding the aborted Niagara Falls peace negotiations in July: “I do not feel disposed to let my letters to you go to the public with such suppressions as you indicate by the red pencil marks.1 I cannot see that you are at all implicated in my ed evinced in season for effect on the North Carolina election. I was very anxious for Holden’s2 success; I think it might have been secured by the course I indicated; and that is a part of the record that I am not willing to suppress. And I do not think the other suppressions at all material, yet they seem to weaken the argument, which I wish to have judged as I made it, if at all. I prefer, then, not to print the correspondence, unless as it was written.

But, in order that no injustice be done you, I give free and full consent to the publication in your behalf of your letters and dispatches only, should you choose to have them published, so as to place your own position in the premises as you would have it.

Major Hay will assure you that, on meeting me here on the 16th ult., he said nothing, hinted nothing to me, of any condition or reservation as to the terms which were to be offered from the other side. I certainly considered all that waived by your dispatch of the 15th.4 I think, then, I was fully justified in understanding your answer to yours of [mine?] of the 13th5 as fully contained in the safe conduct which he gave me, unembarrassed by any conditions.

I believe I am sufficiently lucid. I am willing to publish the entire correspondence, precisely as it occurred, if you think that best; or, in default of that, I am willing that you should publish your own letters and dispatches without mine. I should wish to insert at the close of your paragraph on page 3, “The President understands” these words. “Major Hay said nothing to Mr Greeley of any terms or conditions, and Mr. G. understood all such to have been raised by the President’s dispatch of the 15th.”

I desire this, and deem it just, but do not insist on it. Publish without if you see fit.

An Illinois Army colonel requests reinstatement in a letter to President Lincoln: “On the 7″ of June last while in Washington I placed in hands of Major [John] Hay “Private Secy” a Communication addressed to yourself also a Letter of Introduction from Gov Richd Yates. In the Communication I stated that I had Resigned my Commission of Colonel of the 101st Regiment Illinois Volunteers upon Surgeons Certificate of Disability but, after remaining at home a few weeks under the care of my family Physician I have recov’d partially, and desired again to enter the service of the County to aid all in my power to the Suppression of this Wicked Rebellion. In that Communication I requested that my Resignation be revoked and I again ordered to duty At the time above refered to Major Hay informed me that I had been Recommended for Promotion. Subsequently, on the 3d day of July I recv’d a Communication from Major Hay informing me that my Communication above refered to, had been submitted to the Secy of War for Decision. Since that time I have recivd “No” Answer Will you confer upon me the favor to have my Communication “Answered” in some manner, either for or against You are informed from your former acquaintance with “me” That I have always been a Democrat I am the same opinion to day. When I say Democrat I mean one of the School Jefferson, Jackson & Douglas. My “Platform” is the Federal Union ” must” be presvd. I hold that altho some of the “official” acts of the administration do not agree with my Ideas. “Yet” “It is no time “now” to swap Horses” I also hold that if we wish the Constitution maintained and the Union ” perpetuated”, There must be no change in the “Administration” at this time The Emancipation Proclamation I heartily endorse “Not” only as military Necessity, but as necessary for the perpetuation of a Republican Democratic Government. That we can have no permanent Peace in the Union while slavery exists in it, hence the irritating cause ‘must’ be removed to prevent further recurence or excuses for Rebellion In other words, “a House Divided” “against itself” cannot “stand” And upon these principles while waiting for an answer from your honorable self to the Communication refered to in the within, (before commencing again the practice of my profession) I have been making speeches in various sections upon the above platform or principles. Permit me to state that I am now forty two years of age. That I have never “voted” in a single instance any other vote but a “Democratic vote” nor split my Ticket. But now have thrown my Banner to the Breese inscribed thereon Lincoln & Johnson, as the only true “Democrats” for President and vice President. When the Rebellion commenced I differed from my former Democratic Brethren, at the Convention in Springfield Jany 16″ 1861 when anti Coercion Resolutions were passed, proved my Faith and principles by Volunteering in the Army of the Union and served for twenty month During that period I had the Honor to command the 3d Divini of the 11″ Army Corps a part of the Winter 1864. Subsequently commanded the 1st Brigade of the same Division and Corps. Also had the honor to Command the Post of Bridgeport Ala in October 1863. Subsequently was ordered to command at Union City Tenn a mixed Brigade of Cav, Artillery, and Infantry, I think with credit to myself and the satisfaction of my Comdg officers

The above is my military history and in requesting that I may again be ordered to the service it is for the reason that I am desirous that this Rebellion may be crushed out and I am desirous to contribute all in my power to that end

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