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Carl Schurz

Schurz, Carl (shŏrts) [key], 1829–1906, American political leader, b. Germany. He studied at the Univ. of Bonn and participated in the revolutionary uprisings of 1848–49 in Germany. Compelled to flee to Zürich after the collapse of the movement, he finally emigrated (1852) to the United States, where he settled (1856) in Watertown, Wis. and became a strong supporter of Abraham Lincoln, who appointed him (1861) U.S. minister to Spain. Schurz resigned this position to serve in the Civil War. Promoted to major general in 1863, he fought in the battles of Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and Chattanooga and served with Gen. William T. Sherman's army in North Carolina in 1865. Between 1865 and 1868, Schurz was Washington correspondent of the New York Tribune, editor of the Detroit Post, and joint editor and owner of the St. Louis Westliche Post. He was U.S. Senator (1869–75) from his adopted state of Missouri. Antagonized by the radical Republican Reconstruction program and opposed to the administration of President Grant, Schurz aided in forming (1872) the Liberal Republican party. In 1876, Schurz supported Rutherford B. Hayes, whose hard money views he approved, for the presidency. He served (1877–81) in Hayes's cabinet as Secretary of the Interior. He was an editor (1881–83) of the New York Evening Post and wrote editorials (1892–98) for Harper's Weekly. In 1884, convinced of James G. Blaine's unfitness for office, Schurz led the mugwumps in their opposition to Blaine's nomination and candidacy. Schurz supported the Democrat Grover Cleveland in that year and again in 1888 and 1892. He turned to William McKinley in 1896 because of William Jennings Bryan's currency views, but in 1900 he supported Bryan because of his anti-imperialist views. He wrote Life of Henry Clay (2 vol., 1887), Abraham Lincoln: an Essay (1891), and his own reminiscences (3 vol., 1907–8; abridged vol. by Allan Nevins, 1961).

See F. Bancroft, ed., Speeches, Correspondence, and Political Papers of Carl Schurz (6 vol., 1913); J. Schafer, ed., Intimate Letters of Carl Schurz, 1841–1869 (1928); biographies by C. M. Fuess (1932, repr. 1963) and J. P. Terzian (1965).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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