[CIVIL WAR]. SHERMAN, William Tecumseh. Autograph letter signed ("W.T. Sherman") to Henry W. Slocum, Washington, 9 December 1882. 8 full pages on 2 four-page gatherings, 8vo, Headquarters Army of the United States stationery, some separation between third and fourth leaves, minor fold separations.
SHERMAN EMPHATICALLY DECLARES HE DOES NOT WANT TO BE PRESIDENT: "THE THOUGHT TO ME IS SIMPLY REPULSIVE. I WOULD NOT BE A CANDIDATE IF I COULD AND I COULD NOT IF I WOULD"
A fine letter in which Sherman, considered a possible presidential candidate, clearly states that he has no desire to be president. As the Republicans struggled with the assassination of President Garfield and the impact of charges of political corruption, some looked to the old formula of nominating a military hero to assure victory in the 1884 election. Here, Sherman informs his friend Slocum, that he has no desire for the highest office in the land: "Don't for a moment believe that because a few newspaper scribblers have construed me a martyr, and consequently that I am a fit subject for a Presidential Candidate. The thought to me is simply repulsive. I would not be a candidate if I could and I could not if I would. No, I have my house in St Louis, my family are anxious to get back...and I would be the...fool to undergo the torture of a canvas, and four years of worry and discomfort for an honor I do not court or appreciate. I have seen Presidents Jackson, Harrison, Taylor, Grant, Hayes & Garfield and there is nothing in the experience which tempts me to depart from my convictions." Sherman clarifies that, in part, his decision was influenced by his opinions of the Republicans: "I am under no obligations to sacrifice myself for the Republicans. They called me to Washington against my will, and so legislated that I could not afford to live in a house given to me as a compliment. They cut my pay down below what Lt. Genl Scott had in 1848 when a dollar was worth two of today."
Sherman congratulates Slocum on his recent election to Congress: "... my thoughts of you...revert back to our army service together, and I do believe I feel the pleasure of a father when any of my old comrades attain any thing they desire, be it wealth, influence or station - but time has not stopped and we hardly recognize each other after seventeen eventful years. Politics too seem to color objects as with a glass, and it might seem disloyal for me to rejoice at the success of a Democrat, but if you Genl. Slocum want to come to Congress, I surely am glad that you come endorsed by such a vote of your fellow citizens, which I choose to interpret as more due to your personal merits & qualities than to your partisan associates." He admonishs Congressman Slocum to support mandatory retirement for officers even though it will mean his own retirement in 1884: "I want that law to stand as it is and that no effort be made by any one Republican or Democrat to change it...I could not and did not ask to be excepted." Sherman acknowledges that he looks forward to being replaced by Sheridan so that he can be transferred to St. Louis.
A post-war letter of similar content, from the Forbes collection, was sold here recently (sale, Christie's, 27 March 2002, lot 117, $25,850).