Silas Wright [Jr.] to MVB, 29 April 1844
29 April 1844
My Dear Sir,
I take a moment, in my seat, to say a word to you on the subject of the letter. You will see that we put it in print without delay. I yet think it was most fortunate that the letter came and was published at the very moment it did come and was published.
The appearance of Mr. Clay's letter, on Saturday morning, surprised me, although we had had daily reports that ^the^ letter would appear the next day, for the whole week. Your letter was placed in my hands at about 8 oclk. on Friday evening. I read it, of course, before I went to bed, but did not make up my mind. Early in the morning I read it once again, and with care, and then I called it a good letter. At Breakfast I summoned my Council, Fairfield, King, and Stetson, my messmates, and they assembled at my room, in the Capital, and we read it over, when they pronounced very favorably, and urged instant publication. The Major and I then went to Col. Benton's room, taking Allen along with us, and there we read it once again. They were delighted and said it must be published
last ^that^ evening. Feeling myself that that was best, we went to find Hammet and did not succeed until after 3 oclk. In the mean time, we had seen Rives and he agreed to have it set up, if delivered by 4 oclk. Hammet was frightened and it was with some difficulty that we induced him to consent to our proposition for publication, before he had read it; but he behaved well, and himself and the Major remained at the Globe office until about midnight, to examine the proof.
Yesterday morning you letter came, with your proposed correction as to the Treaty of 1819, but it was too late, and the Major and I thought it was better as it was, even if it had been in time.
We proposed to publish a part, or the whole, of your note to me, but Hammet objected and I, at once yielded. I thought he feared it would show less confidence in him than he wished the correspondence to present. He struck out the last paragraph of his letter cheerfully, and indeed insisted on it. Upon the whole he believed well, and I think, uninfluenced by others, his feelings are friendly to you.
I went to church, yesterday, as usual and saw nobody, but heard, as I expected, that a good deal of excitement was manifesting itself and the Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio uneasy men were the loudest and most active in complaints. I was, therefore, sure that the panic agents were active behind the curtain, and today I learn that Wilkens, the two young Tylers, Ingersoll, and Calhoun, were very active throughout the day.
The town is full of the two whig conventions and it is a charming time for an excitement. This morning shows that it is quite fairly started. I am told the House is a very excited body, and that the talk is for a meeting of members to take measures to get another candidate. All this does not either surprise or alarm me at all. It will bring us all to our bearing very soon. The great difficulty is that the letter does not present ground enough for complaint, and the necessity of a hasty movement is too deeply felt. Calhoun has made his first appearance in the Capitol today, and shows that he feels fine.
I have seen Slidell and he is frightened, but friendly and cool. Steenrod says the letter is glorious and right and the best thing you ever wrote and he assures me that Dromgoole and Cave Johnson are perfectly satisfied with the letter. Poor Mc'Kay is very sick, and I have not seen him.
I mention these man because, as yet, I have seen no others and heard from few. In all Baely, Benton, Allen and Bagby, with Wheaton and Fairfield are all right. I have not seen any of our Western men.
I only tell you these things to show the first burst of this matter, and will, if I can keep you a little advised of the progress. I hope the attempt for a meeting will be made, but I suspect it will result in circulating some paper, while the fever is on, to commit some of these weak and foolish men to their ruin.
I cannot attempt to say what the effect of all this may be upon the Convention, or the election, but I feel clear that our principles and our character are safe, and I do not think I am in danger of any further panic myself.
Poor Blair is very sick, and we propose to try to do something for the paper. He had the letter read to him yesterday morning, and approves it holy. Rives of the Globe says it is the greatest and best paper he ever read, and that he will give to Mr. Hammet $100 for the manuscript, if he will take it.
I am called and must close.
I Am Most Truly