MVB to St. J[ohn] B[ull] L[awrence] Skinner, I[saac] W[ilbor] R[euben] Bromley, and G[eorge] W[illiam] Palmer, 29 August 1844
August 29, 1844.
I should do injustice, as well to yourselves, as to the patriotic citizens you represent, and to my own feelings, were I to withhold my grateful acknowledgments for the kind and complimentary terms in which you have been pleased to invite me to attend the mass meeting of the democracy of Northern New-York on the 11th September—the anniversary of the battle of Plattsburgh. The democracy of northern New-York could not well have selected a day for their meeting, more appropriate to the occasion which calls them together. It will bring to the minds of those who were faithful to their country in the hour of peril, recollections of which they have reason to be proud—recollections which cannot fail to awaken a lively sense of the importance of the rights which were then in danger, and to stimulate them to increased exertions in the democratic cause.
I thank you, gentlemen, very sincerely for the honorable mention which you have been pleased to make of my individual conduct in respect to the war, as well as of my administration of the federal government. If my own acts as well as those of others who had the good fortune to become prominent in the trying scenes of the war, have been made the subjects of the grossest misrepresentations, we are, I trust, too wise not to know that results of that character are unfortunately inseparable from partisan warfare, and too well satisfied with our own conduct to permit our equanimity to be disturbed by such means.
The views you take of the proceedings at Baltimore are conceived in a just and liberal spirit, and evince a sense of duty which does you honor. The character and tendency of that portion of them which you are pleased to deplore, can scarcely under existing circumstances, be even discussed, without prejudice to the cause we espouse. With the preliminary steps of the democratic masses whose highest interests are involved in the pending contest, my friends have abundant reason to be satisfied. And they are, I am sure, too true to the principles they profess, to permit themselves to be diverted from the performance of a public duty either by the bad conduct of individuals or by personal feelings of any description. Meaner minds, influenced by less worthy motives may allow themselves to be thus operated upon, on occasions like the present. But no such stigma will ever attach to the true-hearted democracy of the Empire State. Proudly conscious of the exalted public objects which call them to the political field, they will be found to move in a higher sphere. It is their privilege to exercise an influence second to none in the great work of restoring to power and influence the wise and truly benevolent principles on which the federal system is founded, and by which only it can be successfully administered.
We have in addition to this ennobling stimulus, the scarcely less important duty of maintaining this great state, which the democratic party have literally snatched from the jaws of bankruptcy, in its present prosperous and truly elevated position. A chief magistrate, and most of his associates in the administration of the government, are also to be elected. Whether the individual selected for our principal standard bearer at home, be the amiable and truly worthy citizen now at the head of the state government, or he who is confessedly pre-eminent in the hearts and minds of the people, or any other sound democrat, the motive to exertion will be the same. For myself, I can truly say that I was never more solicitous that my friends (under the list I include every honest democrat in the state) should act worthy of the occasion and of their own high character. That they will do so, I cannot permit myself to doubt. Their past conduct is a sure guaranty that in the hour of trial they will as heretofore, be found in the path of duty.
I have the honor to be, gentlemen,
Your friend and obedient servant,
M. VAN BUREN.