P[eter] V[ivian] Daniel1 to Martin Van Buren, 28 September 1840
Spring Farm near Richmond
Septr 28th 1840
I have forwarded to the author of the enclosed, a letter addressed to yourself, (as he requests) in behalf of the object he solicits. After dispatching my letter, it occurred to me that I had better present to you his own communication which is a faithful type of its author, clear, strong, direct. He is indeed a most estimable man; and for further knowledge of him if desired, I will refer you to Genl Wallace, & to Genl Hunter2 the Marshal of the District of Columbia, his intimate acquaintances.
We are now my dear Sir, in the midst of the greatest effervescence of the political cauldron. Who are to survive, & who to be consumed in its furious bubblings God knows. Sure I am that I have never witnessed any thing like the scenes now passing before me. Tho I have a strong general impression of struggle between Jefferson & Adams, I was too young when it took place to be particularly acquainted with the occurrences of the time. But surely in the ferocious violence, the disregar[d] of candor & decorum–the scandalous corruption & profligacy evinced in the existing contest, there is much, very much that is calculated to lower the standard of intellectual or moral attainment in our country. In truth I have witnessed so much of shameless falsehood & low vulgar misrepresentation in men who have ranked as gentlemen, & been reared and educated as such, that I am almost a sceptic as to the existence of truth, honor or charity. Take as an example, the instance of Lieut. Hooe’s trial3, as to which we daily hear men, lawyers, men of education, declaring to the people the illegality & enormity of the case–when they cannot best know, that by every rule of the law of nations, or of martial law, or of the common law, that the decision would have been regular had it been founded exclusively upon the testimony of the black witnesses: and that any interference with the decision even had it been so established, would have given room for real, where they are now attempting unfounded exception. So to as to the standing army–the possession of the public purse by the Executive– the charge of design to lower the wages of labor etc.–What my dear Sir can we hope for, what is to become of our country, when those whom education, moral dignity, self respect, should have elevated so far above this vile chicanery, are thus reckless & debased! I should have calculated with fullest confidence on Virginia, I still hope she will go right, but the conduct of North Carolina, with the vital interests she has involved in the support of the administration, confounds in a great degree my calculations. You doubtless possess the best attainable information, & I hope it justly warrants the most success prosperous anticipations. I hardly know how to allow a hope as to N.Y.: to Pennsylvania I look with peculiar and cheering feeling, I could wish she was in her election a little more in advance of Ohio–her example will no doubt have influence elsewhere,–we are to have Webster & Cushing4 & Talmage5 amongst us in a few days–a great parade is contemplated, but I incline to think that not much is remaining to be accomplished by either party before the election. If the people of Virginia retain much of their former feelings, the appearance of Daniel Webster amongst them, can accomplish no great advantage to those he comes to serve.
Yours very respectfully