Martin Van Buren to William Peter Van Ness, 13 March 1804

To William P. Van Ness1

Dr. Friend

I Received a Letter from you some days sinc[e] upon the subject of the <ensuing> election, but have been pr[e]vented by absence from home from answering it soone[r].

The Sentiments of liberality and magnan[i]mity which it contains are such as from a knowledge of your Character and the quallities of your h[e]art I had a right ^to^ and did expect.

Possessed of strong personal prejudices for Mr. Burr and feeling a pure and disinterested affection for some of his most intimate friends amongst whom I with pleasure name you as first in my Esteem. The Controversy which exists on this momentous occasion was to me of peculiar delicacy. Upon the most mature and dispassionate reflection hower I am fully impressed with the Conviction that the support of Mr. Burr would not under existing circumstances <unclear word> at this time be proper or expedient, and in giving this opinion to you, I wish to be understood as not at all embracing the truth or falsity of the charges exhibited against Mr. Burr. I do not conceive myself called upon to decide upon that Question. And knowing as I do the purity of my motives I feel persuaded they will never prove a source of regret to myself or dishonour to my friends. I might enter much more minutely into the Grounds upon which my Resolution has been formed, but as a discussion of this subject can not now be productive of one Salutary consequence I forbear. I flatter myself that a difference of opinion on this subject will not at all affect impair the friendly relations which have heretofore existed between us, for my part I know it will not.

My Brother & myself have received much abuse from your friends in this Town, in their illiberal and unmanly remarks with respect to me Your name has been made use of, I am confident una[u]thorisedly. My attempts on many occas[i]ons to check the fury of Mr. Burr’s enemies are now pretended to be construed by some persons who then sanctioned & authorised the attack on Mr. Burr & his friends in all its parts – into Duplicity. My heart acquits me of the Charge. They do not however by Conduct of this kind promote Mr. Burrs election. <Most> people are not to be scolded out of their opinions I hope you will excuse this scrall I write in haste, yours as heretofore Sincerely

M Van Buren

N.B. I have recd both your last letters the Sheriff has not yet recd the Execution. This Business shall be punctually attended to and with pleasure I hope if I can oblige you in future by promoting or assisting you in your Business in this quarter you will call upon me. Your <unclear word>

MVB

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