W[illiam] L[earned] Marcy to MVB, 11 January 1824
11th. Jany 1824.
My dear Sir,
I suppose you have been furnished with the report and Resolutions of the committee of the senate on the proceedings of the general assembly of Ten. The senate have been into committee on this report merely to have it read & it is made the order of the day for tomorrow. Since the result of the proceedings of the virginia legislature it has been promulgated here some of the members seem to wish the second Resolution might be omitted. Those whom I have heard converse upon the subject wish it not so much an account of any peculiar objections existing in their own minds, as from an apprehension that the opposition may get some republicans to go with them and thereby introduce an unfortunate precedent of dividing. The resolutions will in my judgment pass both branches of the Legislature. It is more determined to hold a general caucus on Tuesday evening to adopt some appropriate resolves in favor of a congressional nomination & strongly recommending our friends at Washington to pursue that course. I make no doubt but the vote on this subject will be strong for I think that many who voted with the opposition for Speaker will be willing & desirous to signify their opinion in favor of cong-Caucus.
If it were not for the embarrassing question of the electoral law we should be in the least possible condition here. The members are distracted in their views in relation to that measure. I believe all republicans have serious apprehensions as to the consequences if the mode is changed, but they think there is a demand for it by the great body of the people & that a refusal to yield to this demand jeopardises their popularity & exposes the party to an overthrow. They believe we have less to fear from yielding to the public will though it takes a wrong direction than from resisting it. I am informed that your old Friend John King takes this view of the subject. Many of the members are extremely embarrassed with their indiscreet pledges given before the Election. I am confidently in the opinion that ^a majority of^ the ^assembly
will agree to the are favorable to the^ passage of some law giving the election to the people; but there will be much diversity as to the principle of the law—some will be for a general ticket & some for the districting system. Those who are opposed to a change will be inclined, in case, a change cannot be prevented, to district the state. This, they think, will oppose some obstacles to combinations from which they fear the destruction of the republican ^party^; it would also prevent Mr Clinton from getting more than a part of the votes of this state & probably a small part of them. The fears that Mr Clinton will get the votes of this state in a general ticket are by no means idle. Cramer it is seriously feared has gone over to the opposition & it is pretty evident that the opposition act under the advisement of Spencer & Clinton. If the election of Electors is given to the people on a general ticket I think it no mild conjecture to suppose that an electoral ticket favorable to Clinton. Young as People's candidate for Gov, Peoples senators ^in each district^ & Peoples members of assembly in each county will operate conjointly and prove a mass of congregated materials which for a single onsett will be far from being harmless ^to the republican party^. We rely upon the senate. To their credit it must be acknowledged they are not insensible to our danger; but individuals are not disposed to fearlessly meet this state of things with all the responsibility which decisive conduct would bring upon them. I believe they will not recoil yet it has not required much to prepare them to come up to the charge
A part of the democratic members of the assembly will at all events oppose the repeal of the present electoral law
and Possible, by a division of the others between the general ticket & district system and the votes of the opposers of the repeal a bill for either mode might be lost ^in that house^. This however is quite problematical; for the opposition would consent to any change rather than not do some thing. I should like to be favored with your speculations on this subject.
For your amusement I will mention a few reports which have arrived here from Washington.
Four letters, it is said, are in town (says a man very gravely to me) which state that Mr Van Buren has abandoned Mr Crawford and joind the friends of Mr Clay!!! Col Wool read a letter recd. yesterday from Washington (correspondent concealed) stating that Mr Crawford must loose his eyes or his life! To day I expect they will have him dead. I was pressed to know whom I should go for now. I replied I should wait till Mr Crawford's funeral was well over before I should give myself the trouble of one thought upon that subject.
It is unnecessary for me to say that I have read with pleasure your remarks on your proposition for amending the US constitution. I think the views ^you take^ are sound & statesmanlike and I wish an uniform rule might be adopted & tho' I have not compared the different propositions very carefully yet I am much disposed to prefer yours.
The common council of this city convene again to morrow—but the result of their proceedings can not be foretold. I believe that our political friends in the board will go for Mr Quakenbush instead of Dudley & it is hoped that some one or more of the three persons in the 5th W— who voted for Spencer at their last meeting will ^now^ support Q—but nothing has been said to them with a view to produce such an event.
I write in great haste & without reflection but I know that you are apprised of my indolence & will excuse it. Besides there is some thing to be done here and though I do but little if you knew what share is performed by me you would not speak so unmeasuredly as you was want to do last summer in relation to this infirmity of mine.
Judge Skinner behaves quite well; now and then he indulges his spleen against certain persons for keeping Clinton in the board of canal commissioners—but that is seldom. These fits come on him less frequently than one would expect considering the very bad weather we have here
I am with respect & esteem
Your Obt Servt
W. L. Marcy