Amos Kendall to MVB, 22 August 1839

Amos Kendall to MVB, 22 August 1839


Dear Sir,

I am so shocked with the facts mentioned in the enclosed letter and consider the support of a man so lost to self respect and to all decency, so just a subject of reproach to the Republican Party and his association in the government so disreputable to us all, that it has seemed my duty to submit it to your perusal. His name I will give you when we meet.

When in Kentucky last fall, I was told that last summer was spent by the Colonel openly and shamelessly in the same manner and at the same place; but I supposed there was much exaggeration in the statement.

On a former occasion I had been reconciled to his nomination, though distrustful of the policy of it, by an assurance from his own mouth that this habit of his younger days had been abandoned. I did not doubt that if practised or renewed, it would be in such a manner as to avoid public reproach; but it seems that I was entirely mistaken. He seems encouraged by his elevation, as if it were the seal of public approbation to his conduct in that respect. I cannot but feel that if he be further sustained, it will bring merited reproach upon those who do it and be a lasting disgrace to our party and our country.

I shall take care in as prudent a way as I can to wash my hands of my future responsibility for his support, and I send you this letter, not to ask you to say or do any thing on the subject, but to let you see the depth of degradation to which the man has sunk whose name is associated with yours in the government.

I am engaged here in digesting the laws and regulations of the Post Office establishment into as narrow a compass as practicable, for the use of Postmasters and others connected with the Department—a work very much needed. I must be in Washington, however, before the 6th of September having a heavy letting to close on the 7th.

I have had much difficulty with the great mail line east of Newyork. The Old N. Haven Steam Boat Co. was dissolved some months ago and the line fell into the hands of Vanderbilt. We gave the Old company $6000 for a daily mail, and after a good deal of chaffering, offered V. $8000 for the same service or $6000 for a six times a week mail. He demanded $30.000, but condescended to say that he would carry it at $15.000 at his own hours and without responsibility. Determined never to submit to such an exaction, I made an arrangement to have it carried by land and sought to obtain a contract with the proprietors of the Stonington line for the mail to Rhode Island, Boston & beyond; but they refused even to make an offer.

Having no other alternative left, I determined to promote the establishment of a new line to New Haven to be eventually extended to Stonington in case of necessity. The effort has been vigorously pressed but without success. There is not a connnection between Vanderbilt and the North River Association and their power over Steam Boat owners in Newyork is so great, either through interest or fear, that not a ^suitable^ Boat can be chartered there to run against Vanderbilt at any price. The attempt, however, has alarmed the owners of the Stonington Line whose agent called on me yesterday and offered to carry the mails at any price I should deem reasonable. He said they were aware that a refusal of the Steam Boat Companies to carry the mails at reasonable prices, must of necessity lead to the establishment of government lines which would operate fatally to the private lines, and that his Company were not inclined to go into such a controversy. He agreed to take the mails on Monday next, the compensation and other details to be fixed hereafter.

I shall persevere until I see a line in opposition to Vanderlbilt unless he relinquishes his high pretensions which it is said, he is not likely to do.

I congratulate you on the result of the western elections. Your steady reliance on the people is likely to prove well founded, as I was always confident it would. Indiana has exceeded my expectations; Tennessee has come up to them; but Kentucky has fallen below them. In the means used to secure Guthrie's election to the State Senate in the Louisville District, enough votes were lost to our congressional candidate to have elected him. I learn by private letters, that we have a considerable accesion of strength in the State Legislature; but it is of little use. There is a great want of organization in the state and it seems impossible to rouse our men to its importance. One of my letters says, that Clay is sinking in the State and that you will beat him. But I place no reliance upon it, unless our friends can be roused to greater exertions which will never be until they have a new leader.

With respect & esteem

your friend

Amos Kendall 

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