ern leaders so much needed, and with much of the momentum which enabled it to do its great work.

The list might readily be carried down to more modern times. It is needless to say with how much delight we shall all greet the publication of the papers of Andrew Jackson ; but of this we are already certain. The papers of Van Buren and Polk are already assured of preservation. Their publication will surely illuminate many obscure places in our political history. In the period of the Civil War it is chiefly the papers of the principal Southern leaders, and above all of Davis and Stephens, that we most need in order to complete our materials ; and on the Northern side those of the dissentient radicals like Wade and Thaddeus Stevens and Henry Winter Davis.

We are not infrequently invited to take a gloomy view of the future of the historian. We are told that the economist and the sociologist are steadily plucking away his most valuable feathers, and that our venerable muse is losing the fairest portions of her domain to far younger sciences, of which Herodotus and Thucydides never heard and to which, indeed, they might not have felt attracted. But at least it will be clear that in America the purveyor or editor of documentary materials for history has sufficient occupation for the immediate future, and much opportunity to persevere in the endeavor to secure for his science at least a broad and solid basis.



1. Letters of Gideon J. Pillow to James K. Polk, 1844 The following letters, written by Gideon J. Pillow to James K. Polk immediately before and during the Democratic national convention of 1844, are a part of the collection of Polk Papers recently acquired by the Library of Congress. The letter from Jackson to Butler is among the Van Buren Papers, also in the Library of Congress.

Van Buren's letter stating his position in opposition to the annexation of Texas appeared April 20, 1844. It was in complete antagonism to the expressed opinion of Jackson upon the same subject according to his letter to A. V. Brown, possibly written in 1843 but not made public until the spring of 1844. Jackson, of whose sincere desire for Van Buren's nomination there can be no question, attempted to neutralize the impression caused by Van Buren's attitude by a letter to the Nashville Union dated May 13, 1844, in which he stated that Van Buren's opposition to the annexation of Texas proceeded from a knowledge of the question only as it had existed in 1841. The communication to the Union was followed the next day by a confidential letter to B. F. Butler, chairman of the New York delegation at the Baltimore convention and Van Buren's personal manager. This was given to Donelson, Jackson's nephew, to deliver at the convention. After Van Buren's name had been withdrawn by Butler, he referred to Jackson's letter as the “prayer of Old Hickory for a re-united Democracy”.

Donelson was accompanied to Washington by Laughlin and Pillow, both of them intimate friends of Polk. At Washington they met the other delegates from Tennessee. The delegation consisted of Pillow, the chairman, Donelson, Laughlin, Alexander Anderson (senator in 1840–1841, and a stanch Calhoun man), John Blair (representative from Tennessee from 1823 to 1835), Taylor, Childress (Polk's brother-in-law), Powell, and five congressmen from Tennessee: Blackwell, Cullom, Andrew Johnson, Cave Johnson, and George W. Jones. Pillow's letters show that Polk's ambition was limited to the vice-presidency. In the convention of 1840 Polk had received the vote of one delegate for the second place on the ticket. He had reason to hope for better support at the Baltimore convention. The Tennessee state convention, which had expressed no preference for the presidency, indorsed Polk for the vice-presidency. In Arkansas Van Buren and Polk had been selected as the choice of the state convention which met in December, 1843. The same preference was shown in the vote of the Mississippi convention held in January, 1844. Polk's name was therefore coupled with Van Buren's, but Van Buren's attitude on the question of Texas had wholly changed the complexion of affairs. Polk was taken up by the Van Buren faction after their candidate had been cut off from the nomination by the adoption of the two-thirds rule in order to defeat Cass, whose strength was increasing with each ballot.


1. Andrew Jackson to B. F. BUTLER of New York.


May 14th. 1844. My dear sir,

This will be handed to you by my Nephew Major A. J. Donelson who goes on to the Baltimore Convention to whom I refer you for the political news of the west, and the great excitement, Mr. V. Burens letter has created, and I fear it will be dificult to allay, and reunite the democracy in his favour. Clays letter had prostrated him with the Whiggs in the South and West, and nine tenths of our population had declared in favour of Mr V. Buren and annexation of Texas—when this, illfated, letter made its appearence, and fell upon the democracy like a thunderbolt. Had it have been in accordence, with the editorial of the Globe, all would have been well. All the democrats believed that Mr. V. Buren, under the present curcumstances, would have been in favour of annexation, but from the present excitement, it will be dificult to reconcile those southern and western democrats, all in favour of annexation, to Mr. V. B. You might as well, it appears to me, attempt to turn the current of the Miss[iss]ippi, as to turn the democracy from the annexation of Texas, to the United States, by Joint Resolution, Act of Congress, or by Treaty. Had Mr. V. B. and Benton taken a view of the population of Texas, where from, and the places of the birth of the Texian prisoner[s] at Perote in Mexico, the[y] might have judged of the feelings of the South and West. If they had taken into view the exposed Situation of Neworleans, with Texas in the hands of Great Britain, added to the danger of British influence upon our Western Indians, on the event of war, and the dreadful scenes apprehended from a servile war, with the Indians combined, on our South and west,—the

In a letter written after the Tennessee convention, Polk took pains to assure Van Buren that he and eleven of the thirteen delegates selected for the Baltimore convention were favorable to Van Buren's candidacy, notwithstarding the silence of the state convention. Polk to Van Buren, November 30, 1843, Van Buren Papers, Library of Congress.

feelings of the west might have been well judged of on this Subject. Why hesitate to accept the annexation from Texas, [“ an independent nation” stricken out] with whom all the important nations have treated as an independent nation, when we treated with Mexico for a retrocession of that part of Louisiana, now Texas surrendered by that foolish Treaty of 1819—without the consent of Spain—extending the same rules to Texas as we did to Mexico, why hesitate to receive the profered Boon from Texas, as we were ready to receive from Mexico by treaty, without waiting for the consent of Spain. But I refer you to Major Donelson, and my published letter in the Union in answer to many letters recd, on this allengrossing Subject. I must remark in conclusion, that I have it in the most positive and authentic form, from the highest authority of Texas, that if her offer is now re-rejected [sic], Texas is lost to the United States forever, until regained at the point of the Bayonet. That her depressed situation, will, from necessity, compel her to seek relief by engagements with some foreighn powerthat will be England, unless indeed, Congress will gu[a]rantee her independence by Legislative enactment.” I say to you Frankly, that this is the fate of Texas, and nothing can restore Mr V. Burren [sic] But such resolution by the democratic convention. I hope for the best. I have been greatly grieved at the result. There was no Tyler interest in the South and west-and Mr. V. B. letter and Col Bentons is the only thing that could give him populari-[ty]' in the South or west. Such is now the united Sentiment of all in the South and west. Here it is not viewed as a party question, but the cry is that no candidate for the presidency or vice, will be supported, that are not in favor of speedy annexation of Texas-it is said delay is dangerous. I am so feeble I can scarcely wield the pen—and much grieved at the late occurrence, when Mr. V. B. would have been elected by almost acclamation by the South and West. And my friend Col Benton will not, I fear be sustained in his present position. Missouri, is for speedy annexation, regardless of the smiles or frown of foreign nations. The Safety of the Republic being the supreme law—and believing that the annexation of Texas is es[s]ential to the Safety of the Republic—and the key to that safety, being offerred in peace to us by an independent nation, it is believed it ought to be speedily received, the door locked fast against all future dangers, and ["thereby all danger to " inserted] our glorious Union preserved and the harmony and prosperity of the whole Union restored. The Union must be preserved, and this step taken I have no fears of its disruption by evil men.

May God bless you my dear friend, and preside over the deliberations of the convention and confidence by all the democracy again united on Mr. V. B. is the sincere prayer of your sincere friend

ANDREW JACKSON. B. F. Butler Esqr. 1 Written “musk remark”.

or Treaty” erased. 3 End of line with hyphen. Word not finished.

P. S. Our friend Benton cannot sustain himself in the position taken, for he sustain[e]d the attempt to regain Texas by Treaty from Mexico, against the remonstrance, and without the assent of Spain. How I regret the present condition of things. Mr. V. B. had the united vote of the democracy in the South and West. Clays letter gave him two third[s] of the W[h]iggs—and this prospect dashed to pieces, by assuming ground, that we had disregarded as to Spain, when treating with Mexico for Texas, and which Col Benton had sustained. My regrets are too many, and I close A. J [Address :] Benjamin. F. Butler Esqr

Delegate to the 27th. May Convention at Baltimore By Major A. J. Donelson.

[Indorsement in pencil by Van Buren(?):) A J May 14 '44 By Donelson on his way to Convention.

II. GIDEON J. Pillow To James K. POLK.


May 22nd., 1844 Dear Govr.

Myself and Col. Laughlin reached this city yesterday evening. Since that time we have been busily engaged exami[ni]ng into the condition of things here and though I had expected to find much confusion and excitement among our friends, yet I confess myself much surprised at the extent of the distractions and the bitterness of feeling which exists between the Van Buren men and the disaffected portion of the party. This last party I am satisfied is daily gaining strength by the arrival of delegations from regions of the country which have been lost by V-'s' letter. I have spent a good portion of this day in confidential consultation with Gov. Bagbyand Wright. Last night I was with Cave — The two former, who are the leaders of the V- force (Benton being excepted) and who represent the feeling and determination of the V—B— Democracy, say they are unable to suggest any remedy for the existing state of things. They say the northern Democracy will never yield up their preference for V— and that his name will in no event be withdrawn.

The Democracy or rather the Delegates of the south west and west are making an extraordinary effort for Cass and many of them are going so far with their opposition to V— as to declare they won't go into Convention if he is to be the nominee and that they won't support him in any event. If they continue to occupy that ground, they will break up the party and will leave no hope of reconciliation. Among the very

[blocks in formation]
« ForrigeFortsett »