PATRICK HENRY [Matthew Livingston Davis] to [Mordecai Manual Noah], 3 September 1834
Sept. 3d, 1834.
Through the medium of your paper, I propose, with your permission, to address a series of letters, to the Hon. Martin Van Buren, Vice President of the U. States. It is my wish to bring before the American people, a true history of this gentleman’s career. I shall commence with his early days, and detail such facts as will, in my estimation, induce the freemen of this country to pause, before they consent to elevate him to the highest station in their gift.
I was a participator in the revolution of 1798, and I have since been zealously employed in the politics of the state-I have acted with that party, known and recognized as the democratic party. My former position in public life has enabled me to become familiar with every act of Mr. Van Buren, and with all those means by which he has gradually advanced himself to the office which he now holds.
Admonished by increasing years, I have, in great measure, retired from the turmoil and bustle by which I am surrounded. I would, therefore, willingly avoid the conflicts of party: But the dangers which environ our country; the new and extraordinary doctrines of the administration, which are sought to be enforced by the power and usages of party discipline, have alarmed me in my retirement. Thus circumstanced, I reluctantly, again, enter the arena, and present myself before the people.
I shall endeavor to point out the origin of the evils under which we are suffering, and their real author. I will temperately, but fearlessly state, all I know of him in past times, and all I apprehend from him in the future. The great struggle now making throughout the Union, by the whig party is not so much to overthrow the opinion and doctrines of Gen. Jackson, as those of Mr. Van Buren. To the counsels of Mr. Van Buren, and his adherents, may be attributed, in a great measure, those assaults on the Constitution; those violations of the law; those monstrous assumptions of power, and that contempt of public opinion, which are seen and felt in every section of the Union, and which menace the existence of the established, and long cherished institutions of the country.
There can no longer be a doubt, that deceived by the character of Mr. Van Buren, it is the determination of Gen. Jackson by the influential trust he now holds to make the Vice President his successor. But before the nation shall indulge Gen. Jackson in his preference; before the present misrule is carried out in broad relief, and fastened upon the country, I desire to have an opportunity of reviewing Mr. Van Buren’s political life, of stating all that I know of his public course, his measures, his intrigues, and his ambition. If after what I really know, and shall truly detail, it pleases the good people of these United States, to make him their Chief Magistrate, I shall deplore the condition, to which they will be reduced, but shall rest satisfied that I have performed my duty in endeavoring to avert the evil.
The struggle at the approaching election is not only to be the whig against the tory party; the people against the Regency; the candidate to be nominated at Utica against Governor Marcy, but it embraces other objects. It is to prevent Mr. Van Buren using the power and influence of this great state, as a capital, to advance his ambitious views to the presidency.