MVB to [Andrew Jackson], 27 February 1829
It has been usual through the whole course of the Government, to place one Department temporarily under the superintendence of the head of another. That may, and will probably, have to be done in this case. The only difficulty may be, that the personal relations between Mr. Clay and the gentlemen whom you will select for your Cabinet, may be such as to lose the advantage of those explanations from the present incumbent (Mr. Clay), which it is his duty to give, and with the possession of which the public interests may be materially connected; but which in case of a communication with a person against whom he felt a strong personal dislike, he might either withhold or give so grudgingly as to defeat the object. Allow me to suggest a mode by which the embarrassment upon this point may be in a great degree relieved. . . . It is of vital importance that I should have for my under Secretary or Chief Clerk a gentleman who is not only intelligent, capable, and honorable, but one in whom I can repose implicit confidence. From my own knowledge of his character, my friend Col. Hamilton answers fully to that character and is the gentleman to whom I had looked for that station. . . . Do me the favor to advise Mr. Hamilton what to write to me: and to arrange affairs in such a way as to allow me the longest time; as I do really stand in need of it enable me to come out with credit.
M. Van Buren.
Editorial Note: Excerpt.