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MVB to [John Henry Eaton], [c15 February 1829]

Dear Sir,

Your questions are of great delicacy & I shall confidently expect that what I say in reply to them shall be known to but one person besides yourself. It is of vital importance to have a decided majority in the quarter to which you allude, but it is not under the circumstances many ^as^ material how large that majority is. It will be constantly gaining & with good treatment may be made efficient for every desirable purpose. You have a few new men & the old are apt to degenerate or improve from circumstances of every day's occurrence. What may be the state of things in that respect, you, being on the spot, can better judge than myself. If you have 25 or 26 good men <there>, I should think matters would be safe enough.

You want for the other concern practical, intelligent & efficient men who are conversant with the affairs of the nation & in whom the people have confidence, men whose <illegible> ^capacities^ are adapted to the discharge of the ^public^ business of whether they might or might not shine in the composition of essays on abstract & abstruse subjects. Both the gentlemen, to whom you refer, are of that character; the one to whose recent speech you allude, is eminently so. From my knowledge of his industry, intelligence & energy & also the good feeling that everywhere exists toward him, together with some peculiarities in his political condition, I cannot but regard the selection of him for some difficult & responsible station as a great desideratum. He is one of the most practical common sense men in the nation. With respect to the other gentleman to whom you refer & who is, not of that body, I feel great delicacy in speaking. He has had to pass through very delicate & trying scenes. There was a time when it was probable that he would be so tied down to his present situation by circumstances, as to put it out of his power to leave it, whatever his personal wishes might be. But by good fortune he has, it is believed, escaped such entanglement and is at perfect liberty to pursue his own wishes in the premises; provided their gratification has for its object the public good. No one has authority to say that he will not consent to change his situation, if that can be done under such circumstances as will satisfy him of the probability that he can be more useful than in his present station.

Printed in Hamilton, Reminiscences, 93.

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Source: NN New York Public Library
Collection: Martin Van Buren Letters and Documents, 1814-1858 (NN)
Series: Series 5 (1 January 1825-3 March 1829)