Silas Wright [Jr.] to MVB, 22 March 1844
22 March 1844
My Dear Sir,
I am indebted to you for several favors which I have not yet acknowledged, and the letter of the Majors came this morning. I have so much to say that I shall be compelled to cut off perhaps before I have touched upon all that is material, and therefore I will reverse the order and take your last first.
I like the card and the arrangement and preparation for its appearance, and have, by the mail of this afternoon, sent to Mr. Gilpin Mr. Poinsett's letter and that of my namesake, together with your note to me and the card. I have taken the liberty to request him, in case he thinks there is a necessity for it, to suggest alterations and send the whole to you. Otherwise to procure the insertion in the Pennsylvanian; destroy your note to us and return to you the letters of Messers. Poinsett and Wright.
I thank you for your long letter. The history of affairs at Albany was more full than any I have received since the legislative session commenced, and it relieved me somewhat, as it came to me, while I was under the whole avalanche from our disordered Capital.
I had received individual letters daily for about a week; urging me to consent to be a candidate for Governor and had answered two, one to each of the members from my County, they being more than a week apart, in which I had put the matter at rest as fully and strongly as words could do it. The first was to Hubbard, and I did not tell him to show it, and I presume he did not, though I intended he should. Neither of these men urged me, and the last, <Roderigton>, frankly expressed his opinion adversely to it.
There came a very good letter from Bosworth on the subject of the Abolition resolutions, praying for advice. I wrote him 10 close pages and I believe shored up the resolutions our friend <Hafferan> did ask for so that even Stevens would not like the looks of them. This, of course, I told him to show to the Admiral, for I happened to keep my temper throughout the labour. Yet while I was writing, down came upon me the <Porter> letter, signed by 8 Senators and 11 Members of the House, but I should rather think, from what you say of the one you saw, that this was a modified edition. The language is not harsh and the matter is less so than I expected to find it. I had heard from this communication for several weeks, from some of our members here, and through letters, and hoped from the delay that I should be spared from it. This last one 10 close pages more, and strange, you will say, I think there was not an angry sentence in it either. I have not yet had time to hear from either of these heavy communications, but I considered it fortunate that I was called upon to send them so near together. Of one thing I feel quite sure, and that is that I shall hear no more from Albany about my being a candidate for Governor.
Now let me put you perfectly at rest, once for all, upon the subject of my declining the judgeship. Two circumstances saved me from being, for a single moment, befogged upon that point. One was the fixed determination, for several days, to offer the place to you, as I informed you a long time since, which showed the principle upon which it was desired to sell the high prize, and the other was that I have one of the safest wives ever a politician had, and she constantly and firmly remonstrated against my taking the place, if it should be offered. I cannot, therefore, as I will not, charge any thing against you on the score of my declining the offer.
This, however, is upon the reciprocal condition that, if, as is most likely, I shall, one of these days, by some bungling movement, or wrong <note>, or in some other way, break your neck and destroy your future prospects, you shall say, and feel in your heart, that I did not do it by design. For to tell you the truth, this is my most troublesome apprehension here; and it is not because I distrust your confidence, but because I distrust myself, amidst the ten thousand temptations and provocations to do wrong, with which such a crisis always besets me here, and under the shadow of that dark obscurity in which the right way is so frequently enveloped by those who are more than willing to have you err. You too are now undergoing a trial by the new ordeal, by which conduct and opinions of a man's friends are to test his merits. I have, however, become quite philosophic of late, and do not have the blues very frequently or severely. Yet I am quite sure there never was a period so nearly preceding a most important Presidential election, when there were more croakers here, or when there were so few with whom one can feel safe to advise and hope to obtain aid. There are a great many as true men here as ever breathed, but very few, almost none, who have experience, energy, industry and tact. I did feel, for a while, almost entirely alone, but Fairfield and King are now my cabinet, and I can assure you they are coming to be "a unit."
Calhoun is expected tonight. I think you ought to feel indebted to me that I have not, before now, taxed you with sheets of speculations about that appointment. I have not even been tempted to do that. I knew the appointment was mischievously intended by the Prest. and that, if the appointee had any good practical sense, the mischief intended with recoil upon the heads of those who intended it; that, in any event, it could not be resisted, even if there was a desire to resist it, and I had none, and that if Mr. C. should not prove to have practical sense enough to see his position, or sound principle enough to improve it, still it was. whether he could do much more harm here than at home. As to Mason I confess I am wholly at fault. What can have induced him to resign his judgeship for the Navy Department now I cannot satisfactorily discover, and therefore I will believe, until I am driven to change the opinion, that it is to serve his country faithfully and more beneficially.
Now for my last topic for this letter, texas and the Treaty. I have been intending, daily, to write you upon this subject, for last two weeks, and yet finding myself more than fully employed, and feeling that I could say nothing, which you do not see more fully than I do, I have let it pass from day to day, really thinking that perhaps the next would give me some means to judge of the thousand and one stories, which we daily hear here. About half the time, I am inclined to think it is all a splendid hoax, so far as any treaty is concerned, although I am not permitted to take to myself so consolatory an opinion. The reports are legion, and each one seems to me to be about as improbable as all the others. There is to a regular system of lying upon the subject, which is as bare-faced and silly as the story of your declination. As an example. One story circulated through the House of Representatives to day, as I have learned since we left the capital, was that the Treaty was actually sent to the Senate yesterday, and that the fact had been ascertained from the Secretary of the Senate. And another, told to several of the members of our delegation, was that noses had been counted, and that the ratification of the treaty would depend upon my vote. Every day brings its new editions of tales as groundless and silly, and so far as I can see without purpose, unless it be to try to sound feeling by these sudden surprises. No one ever talks to me about the matter, unless it be some one of our best friends occasionally, to help conjecture what it all means.
You will naturally ask, what does rumor say the Treaty is, and how and when and where made? To all these very natural inquiries, we have but one answer; that it is to be a treaty to incorporate the republic of Texas into our Union, but nothing further. How, when, where made, by whom, what are its terms, and the like, are questions, which no one pretends to answer. The story is said to be that it was an affair <peculiarly> of Mr. Upshur's; that, upon his suggestion, a treaty was made in Texas, sent here, modifications suggested, the treaty returned by special messenger, and that it had not come back when Mr. U's death happened. Whether it has come back now or not no body seems to know, even if there be any truth in any part of that story. For the first time, a man told me today that rumors said the difficulty in closing the Treaty was a satisfactory arrangement of the private land claims, which is the first and only word I have heard of details, and this man could not say where, or between whom, the negociation was going on. I have seen soome things which would induce the suspicion that the land speculators were in the matter, and had rather got possession of the subject, but cannot learn enough to form any opinion.
I must think that some attempts have been made, or are making, to form a treaty for the admission, but beyond that, I cannot make even a conjecture. Now suppose such a treaty should come before us, what must be done? What should be done? I do not want you to answer these questions to me unless you prefer to do so, but it is certainly right that I should tell you how I should answer them, if left to myself, as at present advised. I should say, in the first place, that the President and Senate have just the same constitutional power to make a treaty to merge the Republic of Texas in this Republic, that they have to make a treaty to merge this Republic in the Republic of Texas, and no more; and that they have not the power to make either treaty. In the second place I should say, admitting the constitutional power, that a secret movement of this <illegible> ought not to be sanctioned by the Senate, and would not be by me, until the great outlines of the terms were fully known to and approved by the people of the Country.
Now you may see that the reciprocal condition I have imposed upon you in my compromise may fall sooner and heavier than you can well consent to, and yet so far as intention is the question I cannot remit any thing from my terms. As an evidence of this, I will keep my mind as far from any determined conclusion as I can, and will listen to any argument upon either point, which you, or anyone else, may choose to address to me. If my second difficulty should appear to you to be an unimportant one, I need only say to you that I look upon it as though the treaty were to incorporate Great Britain or France, or Russia or any other Independent sovereignty of the earth which can be named. I am certain I have no passion upon this subject, but if I am not mistaken, and this matter be passed upon the Country in this form, the excitement it will produce will surpass any I have witnessed in my time, and all I desire is that I may enter the contest in a way that the democracy may approve, when time shall have permitted passion to subside.
I enclose Mr. Ritchie's note, because I think he intended I should. It came this afternoon, and I have written to him hastily to beg him not to be mislead by such correspondents. Poor Blair, I presume you have heard, is very sick and has been for two weeks. I have not seen the Globe today, but Col. Benton belched to me dreadfully about it, and from this letter I perceive that some Calhoun man, though I have no suspicion who, has pressed in this matter, taking advantage of Mr. B's sickness. The Col. has been in his seat all day today, and a short time, for two previous days during the week. Of our Southern friends, I know that Bayley and Haywood and Benton and King are anti treaty, though I do not know that all of them would stand the fire, if it should be warm. I think Allen is a little in the <illegible> upon the point, but Tappan is of course anti-treaty. I cannot see Buch.s hand, but as his instructions to vote against the tariff have come today, and he is very happy upon that point, he may have the good luck to dispose of the other in the same way, if need should be. I do not know how friend Levi would stand affected, if this question should come, and his colleague tracks with him, but Fairfield is, at present, very strongly against any such movement.
I send you, by this mail, a copy of Genl McKay's report, and want you to read it, and the documents annexed carefully, for I think, if it could get universal circulation, it is calculated to count many <illegible> upon this subject. Pardon me for this very long letter, and believe me,
And Truly Yours