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Joshua Forman to MVB, 12 February 1829

Dear Sir

Having spent the last three years retired from the bustle of politicks in an excursion for my health, I have taken a cool & dispassionate view of the operation of moral causes upon our state and national affairs, from which I have drawn conclusions different from those, engaged in the whirl of politicks, of the future course of events and the principles which will govern them. Being from the most perfect <coincidence> of opinion with the supporters of General Jackson and an admiraer^tion^ of the great & valuable traits of his character, as well as from patriotic motives, desirous of seeing the sound & safer principles of his party carried triumphantly into action, and believing that the course of your policy will have a great influence upon the result, as well as from personal regards to yourself I am induced to give you my views on the subject.

In a very slight review of the course of politicks for the last 40 years it is manifest that the old political parties of this country have gone their complete revolution. The Republican party under Mr. Munroe having advocated & practiced in <extension> the measures of the Adams Federalists, denounced by the supporters of Mr. Jefferson. That the good Sense & patriotism of the nation have brought this course to a stand, by the election Genl Jackson, with the avowed object of restoring the government to its primitive purity of principles & practice; in fact under the same principles it was started with under Washington. As <much> as I can determine by the most minute examination That the fire of party zeal first lit up & greatly inflamed by causes extranious to this country and agravated by the conduct of the younger Mr. Adams, has at length burnt out. The esprit des corps of the former parties transforms any bond of union, since as politicks are prospective, the names adopted thirty years since no longer include a body of men holding the same principles, & the great body of citizens are both at liberty and prepared to take such course in the coming events as they shall think their interests require, without any more power on the part of party leaders to hold them in the ranks by the means of party ties or party terrors.

This has been manifested in the last presidential election in a high ^<illegible>^ in which men of all sides of all previous questions, have been seen to divide on the late question as each deemed right or for his interest, and from the various points in which men saw their interests or the interests of the country identified with the cause of Jacksonism, many have acted with the forming party whose real views are as diametrically opposite to the principles of the body of Jackson men as tho those of the party displaced, particularly the body of Southern men who are as wide of the judicious Tariff of the Genl. as the Boston manufacturers. These men now will be satisfied to cooperate in any measures, unless they are brought to their standard, or to support any man for president, who is not of themselves or sold to them. Their first policy will of course be for Calhoun & if they cannot carry him ^they^ will give their weight to any one who will be thier man.

The intelligent part of the Northern & eastern states have not lost sight of important national interests, while they have supported Genl. Jackson as the friend of a judicious Tariff in which they have a deep interest, ^they^ neither can or will submit to have the doctrines of Mr. McDuffie imposed upon them, and as the course of every mans policy must be developed in his own acts or those of his immediate friends at the first congress after this, when the Tariff will come up. The necessity of the case will cause a union of these interests around some one who shall avow such principles, as are consistent with what they consider the true interests ^& the interests^ of the Country, and is in such prominent situation as to bring into action effectual aid towards his election. The New England States with N. York ^N. Jersey^ Pennsylvania & Ohio can make a president, and most probably from community of interests will be found together at the next presidential election.

In this state of things public attention is directed to you as the man whose situation is best adapted to unite those interests and receive their support. But to obtain the two things are to be done to give confidence in those states of finding in you that moderate & reasonable man they must to mediate in this question of interest & that liberal man they wish, who can see & appreciate the merrits of all who shall be found in the party by whatever names they have before been called as did Mr. Jefferson in the founding his party, and secondly to hold this state strong & decidedly in your favor.

As to the eastern states there are a large body of as patriotic men as ever lived who never loved Adams & either stood aloof from his administration or gave a cold support from interested considerations as prejudice against Genl Jackson, whom on the slightest intimation of your taking such grounds that there was a chance of thus forming a Jackson party so strong as to prevent the sectional feelings of the south being stamped on the measures of the national legislation would gladly throw their weight into the <illegible> of the Jackson party in those states & give them the proper <illegible> with a view to your election.

To preserve this state is essential to the success of the measure, and to do this I am fully satisfied that you must remain in your present post for various reasons. First that after a ten years civil war of party in which most of the old politicians of the state have been prostrated & <illegible> <illegible>, <put> deport de combat and a new <illegible> of men spring up who are not used to the <illegible> of party, and the new powers thrown into the hands of the people causing political men to look more to them for patronage than ^before^ renders it utterly impossible to hold this state in their allegiance to any man longer than he is at their head evincing by his talents ^& rendering himself <expert> in^ the direction of their policy in wise & useful measures. And the past experience of the party <keeping> together without its head present with them, will not warrant any conclusion that it can be done hereafter, because they were then kept together by the external pressure of the other party & by the strange contrasted party policy of Mr. Clinton excluding from his counsels talents & influence to monopolize the credit of his own measures, as well as the consideration that the duty of the party then consisted in embarrassing his measures, rather than devising measures themselves. All these circumstances are changed. The men of the party feel freed from the restraints of a rival party, of which you have seen evidence enough. They consist of heterogeneous materials which require time skill & prudence to consolidate into a regular party. And the machine of government has to go forward and questions must continually arise in which opinions will vary, men take offense & split off, unless the leader gives them some object of public interest to unite them in his support. And without in the least derogating from the merrits of my worthy friend Leut. Govr. Throop, I must say that I do not think that he can do it. Because having been elected Lt. Govr. in case of your abdication his situation will be <illegible> deemed a regency in which he is managing for another. And because I think it needs ^all^ your weight of character & popularity to keep them together and to manage the administration upon enlarged & liberal views adopted ^for^ its effect upon the nation, rather than a dour state party, which the smaller it is that the more rewards ^it has in proportion^ for its partizans. And should you abdicate your place I feel confident, nay, I know the plans are forming ^in such events^ to wrest the standard of <illegible> from the hands of those who are left in charge of it, and setting up a new head secure the state to McLean or any other Jackson man who shall be <illegible> in the northern states. And there are floating materials enough for them to do it with. The Anti Mason fanaticism may as well be caused to run in that channel as any, the Clintonian & Federal Jackson men and the whole body of Adams men doing as the federalists did in the contest with Mr Clinton would give them the majority.

Again in this new era of party, with the change of principles I am confident in the course of nominations will be changed, without questioning the propriety of congressional nominations or the force of the line of precedents to determine the line of succession. It is enough to say that after the clamours against them which have rung from Hampshire to Georgia & been responded to by the people, it is not probable any body of men would attempt a measure so repugnant to the expressed will of the nation & party, & it is morally certain that any nomination so made will be defeated for that ground alone other things being equal, and the stepping stone instead of being the road to the Presidency will be a stumbling block to any one who has it in view. The nominations for some terms to come will be made by the states nominating their prominent men & where there are conflicting interests compromising or settling them by a convention formally or informally. And to be out of the eye of the state would be to lose that chance of being set in nomination by the only power which can make a successful one. So far as any negotiations ^at Washington^ can affect the question they can be made with more effect by others while sit at home with the great state of N. York at your back. But should you be tempted by the present prospect of office to leave your post, you would sacrifice almost a moral certainty of the presidency for an office less than the one you have.

This state has been for a long time torn with factions and the measures which have been carried have not been the result of wisdom but the products of party efforts mutually <marring> each other. And there is a great field open for a Governor to fill ^the^ eye of the people and intrust their affections, by which he shall not only unite the great body of the state around him, but give that confidence of his talents & judgment abroad necessary for a candidate for that high office to possess. Should you remain in your present office and take that decided part in the great measures which must be adopted to enable our state to enjoy the benefit of its natural advantages & hold her place in the union united like virginia round her own interest nothing can divert the natural course of events. This state will be the key stone of sound Jacksonism, and as the state from which a president has never been elevated & having as she will have, 40 votes at her command her candidate can scarcely fail of being elected.

Should you pursue a different course a want of consent at the north may produce the election of Calhoun, but will I think assuredly postpone our hopes of having a President from New York until we have raised some new Politicians who shall give that worship to the People, which the new Constitution has rendered indispensable in the men whom they shall delight to honor

I remain Sir

Your Mo. ObSvt.

Joshua Forman

Source: DLC Library of Congress
Collection: MVB Papers (DLC)
Series: Series 5 (1 January 1825-3 March 1829)