Skip to main content
View PDF


MVB to J[ohn] P[eter] V[an] N[ess], [January 1803]



Dr. Friend,



I received yours of the 6th. Instant I <received> a few Days ago with $20–Dollars enclosed, to a mind like yours, thanks and protestations of gratitude are not necessary, no, the pleasing sensations resulting from a good act to such a mind are superior to volumes of thanks, I therefore refrain. Any apology on your part for not writing me before or for speaking to me your Sentiments as they are is was not requisite, for satisfyed as I am that you entertain for me a pure and disinterested Friendship, I do never for a moment believe that your not writing to me is occasioned by a want of Inclination, for the same reason is it, that I feel satisfyed & too highly pleased with the discovery of your Sentiments, when dressed in the plainest and most Intelligible guard garb. Your Solicitude for my Welfare has made an Impression upon my mind, which I trust neither the Iron hand of Time or any Change of Circumstances can Obliterate. Your Description of my situation “when Temptations to vice are every were presenting themselves” is certainly Just, and I fear, very much fear that if Interposition is not speedily made, I will find the truth ^of^ your observation exemplifyed in Cornelius, never my friend was I more surprised than on my arrival in this place, when in Conversation with him I found him to be a young man possessed of a Strong mind & extensive Knowledge, yet borne by his passions down the vortex of dissipation with a velocity which appeared to me to be the so glaringly indicative of ruin that I could not but be surprised that it was Impossible to make him Conscious of it But my friend I flatter myself that with your advice for my polar Star & a Strict and assiduous attention to my business I shall be enabled to then avoid the quicksands of vice, and to enjoy the pleasure of rational amusements without running into their excesses, y your Brother tells me he has yo wrote you particularly about Corns. a particular account here is of Course become unnecessary



Your Ideas of the Theatre are precisely in unison with mine. Having attended four or five times I found myself so attached to it, that It was with difficulty I could refrain from going there, but having seen all the principal actors & perform & the best plays also, I have come to a conclusion not to go there more than two or three times before spring.



Your brother takes a great many papers from which doubtless much Information could be reaped but considering that I have all my Life before me to make a myself a politician and but one year to make myself a Lawyer, I refrain as much from reading them as I can, I however read punctually the Debates of Congress for this I take to be ^the^ truest Criterion by which to test the feelings of the nation, for there are collected Individual from every quarter of the union, some bearing with them the feelings and the sentiments of their neighbors & Constituents, and strange as it may appear yet I am confident you will allow me to be right when I say that the members of your house, tho some & by far the greatest part are sent to represent the true Interest of the Country, yet that some of your honorable member are the representatives of a faction, who sickening at the public prosperity, are at war with every act which is virtuous, who <place> pride themselves on their Injenuity & talents in obstructing the wheels of goverment, and frustrating the salutary purposes of the administration, by which they render the grand Legislature of the nation, more like (where there ought to be but one sentiment, viz the a wish for the happiness and prosperity of the nation) more like a place of scholastic dispute, than a deliberative assembly on which depends the very existence of our Government, y but enough I have already said more on this subject than I wished to. Believe me, from reflection and experience I have got so sick of Federalism, that it is very seldom I speak upon politicks, for fear of being under the disagreeable necessity of making Contrast between the principles of the respective parties.



Our Friends at Kinderhook are from what I can learn all well, Tobias D. Van Buren is married to a widow Sharp also Major V. Volkenburghs daughter to, a Mr. V. Slyck from Coxackie, P. P. Van Slyck has lost his wife, Esquire Gardenier & Captn. Harmen V. have been so near fighting that they had to hold them both, the Dispute came about the cutting down the Liberty tree, The Captain feeling yet (tho old) the spirit of 76 [did] not feel pleased that a branch from that great Tree of Liberty, being planted on his Soil, should be destroyed by the invading hands of federalists.



I wish you to Direct your Letter to New York Generally & I will receive them at the post office, My brother has now advanced me $ [. . .] $154 Dollars of which, after having laid out as much as was necessary for clothes & other things necessary, & having $10 stole from me, <neglected> I have now in my hands $100 having bout a Ticket also. On the first Day of Feby I have to pay 3 months board & some other small bills, my brother I suppose expects to advance me $100 more whcih will make $254 as I intend to go to Albany next winter ^fall^ to stay some months with J. V. N. Yates previous to my Examination, & I had concluded to receive from him the said $100 at that Time, this however must be subject to your, convenience, at all events unless some thing extraordinary happens (in which Case I will apply as you direct) I will not want any money before April or perhaps the 1st. of May, I wish you would ^write^ me your sentiments on this head, so that I am very sorry to hear that Mrs. Van Ness is w unwell, I hope she is recovered before this time, give my best respects to her, I have no Time to Copy or correct this Letter. I ^must therefore^ place myself on your Liberality I shall at all times be happy to hear from you.



You[rs] most Sincerely





M[artin] Van Buren Junr.


Images for this document are currently unavailable.
Source: MoSHi Missouri Historical Society
Collection: Presidents Collection, 1802-1969 (MoSHi)
Series: Series 1 (5 December 1782-31 December 1811)