C[harles] J[ared] Ingersoll to [John] Forsyth [Sr.], 3 March 1837
As it will relieve my feelings of disappointement and mortification which I find growing rather than subsiding as I go, to think out, having nobody to talk to, you must suffer me to <meander> an hour or two in the bustle and jam of the steamboat to inflict what may perhaps be a long letter on you: for I had made up my mind to write to you as soon as I got home, and I may as well therefore do it at once. My objects are, 1. to be explicit in making known what otherwise might be thought ingenous if acted on without having been foretold (tho' I have already spoken plainly to the same effect) 2. to apprise Mr. V. B.'s government of what I am sure is its jeopardy, and 3. to put in writing a notion or two having the good of his govt. and of the country in view, and I will dispense of the last, first. When I was with him yesterday his greatest desire seemed to be to get rid of me as a disagreeable visitor when I made the suggestions, and you did not appear to appreciate the one I before made to you as of much value: so that having thought of them much myself and become convinced of their importance I shall set them before you for consideration. First, then, I submit that he ought to take some early occasion for making public whatever may be his sentiment and whatever is to be his practice as to the principle of rotation in office. He may escape the odious enforcement of it: but he cannot escape a full declaration of whatever he means to adopt as his rule of action. The witholding such a declaration, perse, I venture to say, will lose him Pennsylvania and there is not the Slightest difficulty about it, for he has only to declare that if laws establish the principle the Executive will as is duty bound excecute them, but will not of himself make the law, and all the difficulties are obviated. The truth is, it is a just principle, which ought to be exercised in his own cabinet, and his shrinking, as it seems to me, from that just duty of his chief magistracy is the ^first^ cause of all the <
illegible> ^future troubling^ as I foresee and apprehend it.
Secondly, I submit that it wd. redound to the honor and advantage of the country and his admin to get up, soon, an expeditition, like those sent by Mr. Jefferson far to the west. The Indians, the lands, the whole western interest, which has not now a single representative in Mr. V. B.'s admin (for Mr. Kendall can hardly be counted as of the West) and the interests of science & improvement, all require that some great and signal attention shd. be bestowed on that quarter. It wd. cost almost nothing. I wd. please all those whose good will is desirable, and afford moreover an excellent <discussion> for opposition to spend itself on. It is light in itself and politic besides. The Indians, the lands, the waters, the minerals, the politics, the resources and the characteristics of all that great region might be made the most of, at small expence, to the great benefit of humanity and the U. S. to the great honor, present and historical, of Mr. V. B.'s admin, striking its attachments throughout the west. So at least it strikes me as I cd. develope this mere disclosure by much more extensive views in detail, but I stop here for the present Thirdly, and in our foreign relations I believe the new administration may accomplish national benefits that will surpass even Genl. Jackson's brilliant success abroad. Mr. Jenifer has lately announced a resolution calling on the President to endeavour to extend the tobacco export, which is very well, but absolutely nothing to which may be done for cotton. I will send you a copy of a letter I wrote <illegible> in 1829 when the present french gov. was first established to show you of views I have cherished on this subject for many years. I often conferred with Mr Livingston concerning them & he appreciated them perfectly. I moved them as resolutions of the Pennsa. Legislature in 1830 and they passed this house of rep. by large majorities; but the same base party, to which I dread Mr. V. B.'s yielding,and if he does one jot I am his enemy, out of some jelousy to me, as Burden's motion laid them on the table in the Senate. They propose that the governments of France, Germany and Switzerland should be dealt with to prevail on them to afford greater facilities for the reception of the cotton, tobacco, coal and such of our produce which the foreign consumption may be immensely increased. All that is wantg is some modification of those tariffs, which I think (and so did Mr. Livingston after his return, as he told me) may be achieved (at any rate it is worth trying and wd. cost very little) by a different mode of negotiation from that hitherto pursued. First, by sending commissioners on purpose, to cooperate with the stationary ministers (which power the President has, even without nomination to the Senate—tho' there is no reason why he shd. not nominate, unless he wishes to make the commission select, which perhaps in some cases wd. be an advantage) Secondly and by instructing those special agents to deal in the public opinion as well as governments; by Enlighting public sentiment thro' the press and other such means Understand me as not having any nefarious means: no bribery or corruption, common as they are in all European diplomacy, and were we to <illegible> an amicable appropriation of secret service money. But I discard all that in my project which is to furnish an agent in France for instance with manly money, enough to get a graph of good information put privately into the stock of the press, and otherwise to deal among certain classes and individuals unknown to the government at the same time that the public minister of this country is publickly pressing the public ministers of that. All the French liberals are patricians of free trade. Among my friends of the Bonaparte party there are plenty who could be enlisted who are members of the Chamber of Deputies. I cd. name them: and in short I have no doubt that the cotton export to France and thro' France to Germany & Switzerland might be vastly increased Now ponder this as to its effects on the US, in the South (to be effected by it as the west wd. be by the western enterprise I have before mentioned) on the Union as on every thing, and I flatter myself that tho' the notion seemed to make no impression on you when I mentioned it to you, yet you cannot reflect upon it without conviction of its worth.
And now lastly for my personal griefs to which the friendly suggestions are apprehensionaries, for I must say that I was strong with the fear that the cause I had been laboring to promote was what his enemies would use, only alive to how he shd. pay out the patronage of the government to his advantage, and insensible to the great public interests I long to see made the most of by his agency—that instead of instructing Mr. Dallas to negotiate with Russia the rule that free ships make free goods & Gov. Cass, and Mr. Stevenson the great commercial interests I have suggested, his admin is to go on as I fear it has begun in devotion to little matters, personal objects, double dealing and those false principles which ruined Mr. Adams and Mr Clay. If so, I said to myself at once, and now I report, as I said to you, the sooner I declare independence of it the better. I shall certainly disclose when I get home that disappointment at the first steps of Mr. V B induced me instantly to say to him that I cd. not stay as I intended to witness his
administration ^inauguration^, that which I acknowledge his right to decide for himself whether he will pursue in Genl Jackson's contemptuous exclusion of Pennsylvanians from his cabinet, yet I cannot maintain him in the expectation of such rights (if he then cuts me, we must cut him) and that distressed as our State politics are it is insufferable to super add this indignity. No democratic administration ever dared to do it. Genl Jackson did, but his was sui generis; that while I much preferred his taking some Pennsylvanian not of the Wolf party for his cabinet, yet if he had taken Mr. Dallas I wd. have supported him; that his consultation and transaction with Mr. Muhlenberg having party approbation: but that the attempt after offering him the miserable Russian mission as some atonement or appeasement then to give it to a leader of the Wolf party, evidently to suit both sides of the democratic party, is what I will not countenance and that I told Mr. VB what is too true that he has not one single adherent in the Pennsa. delegation in congress, either house, except Mr. Muhlenberg whose kind immediately to Satisfy the state will vanish before he breathes its air 24 hours as it must, for there is an intense and indignant feeling of State pride that <furnish> shame in such so must I: and so must all. You alluded kindly when persuading me to stay for the inauguration to the liability of being charged with personal pique, which I disdained to answer till our third conversation the next day, for which it is too true that any thing of this such connecting Mr. Dallas with the old Calhoun party rouses me to irrepressible feelings, yet I could not compete with him for the reasons I gave you for this cold relegation even if I would. But I would not. I don't know and I dont care what Mr. VB estimates me as worth But I tell you without hesitation that I am above it. Missions are nothing to me as <ends> or as support. I love distinctions. I require excitement. I seek power, generous powers to be used for good: and missions may be the means of such ends, some missions, sometimes But at this time I belong to the Convention of Pennsylvania, from which all the patronage in Mr. V.B.'s gift wd. not take me. It is a nobler theatre, more to my liking, than any place of Executive condescention. I hoped to go there stripped tho' his adherents are by Mr. Dallas' letter & I from all power–yet with the honest belief I have hitherto always entertained since the time in 22 when Dallas's rascally friend Ingham reduced me thro' my friend Mr. King to solicit Mr. Van Buren's protection, that he is a straightforward man as I am sure he is a kindly disposed one. I told you and him too if I remember right that I am the child of impulses & prejudices. I own it and rather boast of it. In one <publick> I thought by a flash of conviction I found myself deceived in him and that his enemies are right while I am deplorably wrong in the estimate of his character. What then is left? Shall I fall with him, as I have stood with him ever since the days of poor Crawford? Yes if he will ^would^ die in principles, but no never, if he destroys himself with the paltry poison of patronage. This angry and impertinent letter will do him no injustice if you let him see in it the spirit of an anxious desire that he shd. maintain now in the first steps of his greatness the character I have a thousand times and occasions proclaimed for him, and that he should signally disprove the obliquity ascribed to him by our common opponents: [a]nd which he may <rouse> soon openly that character which I desire to evince it by this freedom of this letter (written I assure you much more in sorrow than in anger–yes in my shame, for if I am deceived in him I shall suffer much shame, and if not when I become composed again I shall be ashamed of myself.) that If he ruins us in Penna. where shall I <pcd>? Not only cast down but disgraced unless I jump at once–not to political antagonists–but to that rally of state pride which I shall strive hard to make rescue us from the downfall he would cause. Separated as Penna. will be, I fear from all the measures and the <illegible> of his admin we must try—we of a certain party—to stand by ourselves: and only on it as I told you that we will not give up one job to his continuance by patronage to keep us together. We may be, we must be, I suppose, defeated at the next elections. But so we were by Wolf's vile patronage party. But we shall keep together and I trust triumph at last. At least we will not fall with a federal admin counting that party. Jackson could toast < see> and patronise our antagonists as he pleased and we cd. only grin and bear it. But no on else can or shall. I am but one solitary individual not popular, not given to much public association, and therefore perhaps not at all formidable. But I can both write and speak and I will exercise both faculties with all my little might. I published in the Democratic press in 1812 an article (anonymously) on the state rights of this State to US regard which made <some> <mendation> and had some effect. I have long meditated another, not anonymous, for I have made it a rule of late to sign my name to what I publish, and I think I can stir up Bostic to some purpose. It shall <pride> the Convention at a proper time: and I flatter myself that you, who, as I told Mr. VB, did not appreciate me at all as we do ourselves will be struck at the insufferable treatment which his admin it seems is it to keep up.
The foregoing was written on the Chesapeake and and now after reading it all over on my native Delaware I find nothing to change uncouth as it is. At the same time however it is proper I should add that this is not a threatening letter. Not at all. It is
th a letter to a friend to express what I feel and which I mean to say and do I do not presume to say that if Mr. VB does so and so that I will do so & so: but to account to him thro' you for what he might think strange and ungenerous in me if I did not apprise him. I shall become one of a small party, I dare say, for I shall not join the enemy, but with my views and wishes a small party growing on proper grounds is much preferable to the large one which I think Mr. VB will see dwindle fast. You & I have always gone together and I hope we may yet as I am
C J Ingersoll