MVB to Smith Thompson, 30 March 1823

MVB to Smith Thompson, 30 March 1823

New York

My dear Sir,

Your letter found me here, and has detained me until this time. The reasons you give for declining the appointment of Judge are certainly impressive, and as a prominent one is the state of your health, no one can so well appreciate them as yourself. Still it is my decided opinion, that in comparison with your present station the Judgeship is under all circumstances the most desirable, and I sincerely hope that on further reflection you may think so also. When I first read your letter I thought I was prepared at the instant to say no to your kind suggestion, but on a moments suggreflection I thought it unwise to make so abrupt a disposition of so grave a question. Under this impression I have spent a day at Jamaica, & advised fully with Mr. King on the subject. He after full consideration has expressed to me a very decided opinion that I ought not to decline the appointment if it is offered to me. His reasoning on the subject and my own subsequent reflection, together with the unqualified confidence I have in his & your warm friendship, & better judgment, have induced me to submit myself wholly to your and his advice. If therefore you think as he does, I consent that you say to Mr. Monroe (if you positively decline) that if he thinks my appointment would be consistent with the public interest, and it is agreeable to him to make it, I will consider it my duty to accept it. I feel sensibly, my dear sir, the deep importance of this matter, and the serious effect it must in one event have on my future life, and I have therefore given it the utmost consideration. I am not certain that I am right, but am convinced that if I am it is on the safest side.

With Mr. Monroes impressions in the matter, I am wholly unacquainted. My appointment may be agreeable to him, and he may have other views, and I am therefore desirous to say every thing in regard to it, which can properly be said. In the event of his not appointing me, the circumstance of my name’s having been presented to him, may hereafter be resorted to by my opponents to excite a prejudice against me, of the opportunity to do which I wish as far as practicable to deprive them. It has sometimes been my duty to oppose the President in the exercise of his executive powers under circumstances calculated to produce considerable excitement. Whether in doing so I was right or wrong it does not become me to say, but to you who knew my motives I feel entire confidence in submitting the decision of their character. Although you might think me wrong I am convinced you was always satisfied that I thought myself right, and that nothing of personal views or of personal prejudices influenced my conduct.

Although I am as anxious I hope as any one that Mr. Monroe may retire from his high station with the full confidence and affection of the Nation, & am and have at all times been ready to do every proper thing to effect so desirable an object, still it may, in the course of events through which we must soon pass, again become my duty, to oppose him in the discharge of his. In such case from my knowledge of the illiberality of party jealousy, my course may be attributed, by those who think they have an interest in misrepresenting it, to personal disappointment. As I have seen much of such conduct, and entertain the strongest repugnance to it, I feel a sensibility on the subject which may by some be regarded as a weakness, but which is nevertheless sincere. I must therefore rely on your friendship and good sense to conduct this matter in a manner best calculated to protect me from the aspersion I speak of, and which at the same time admits of a distinct understanding by Mr. Monroe, of my willingness to accept the place, if he thinks it best to offer it to me, it being always understood that you first positively decline it

One other consideration, and I have done with the subject. If I should accept the appointment of Judge, I should consider a total abstinence from interference in party politics as a duty of the most imperious nature, and I feel entire confidence in my ability to withdraw entirely and forever, from the scenes in which for many years I have taken part. The Legislature of our state are still in session, and will probably continue so until the first of May. The presidential question is one which may soon be seriously agitated at albany, and my present situation in the party, does not leave me at liberty, to decline taking a part in it. In doing this, excitements will unavoidably be produced, of the unpleasant nature of which you can not be ignorant. If it is at any time, to become my duty to abandon the course which is to produce them, it would, obviously, be desirable that this should be done at the threshold.

I shall go to Albany in one or two days, and shall be anxious to hear definitively on the subject, as soon as a suitable regard to circumstances will admit.

With perfect esteem & respect

I am, Yours truly

(Signed) M.V. Buren

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