Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1824: GALLATIN TO CHANDLER PRICE, AND OTHERS. - The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2
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1824: GALLATIN TO CHANDLER PRICE, AND OTHERS. - Albert Gallatin, The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2 
The Writings of Albert Gallatin, ed. Henry Adams (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1879). 3 vols.
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GALLATIN TO CHANDLER PRICE, AND OTHERS.
Baltimore, February 11, 1824.
I had the honor to receive your polite letter of the 4th instant, and am gratified to find that my endeavors to obtain justice for our fellow-citizens, though unsuccessful, have met with your approbation. The object of my last visit to Washington was to point out those parts of my correspondence with my own government the publishing of which at this time might, in my opinion, have been prejudicial to the interest of the claimants. They consisted of statements of conversations with the French Ministers, in which objections were made by them and answered by me, some of which at least may not be renewed or officially brought forth; of communications of some secret decrees of Bonaparte, which might be urged against some of the claims, but which are not perhaps known to the present French government, and which, at all events, they have been heretofore unable or ashamed to produce; and of informal suggestions for the settlement of our demands, or of my own opinion, given at several times, of the prospect of success to the different classes of claimants, and of the most practicable means to obtain partial redress or to make a general arrangement. As it may, however, be useful to you in the further prosecution of the claims to have some information on the subject, I will try to give it as far as can be done in the compass of a letter.
The principal objections urged verbally and inofficially against the claims were, 1st, that in the conventions imposed on France by the allied powers for indemnities to their subjects, no claim was included of the same description with ours. To this objection I thought it safe and proper to make an official answer, which will be found in the correspondence communicated to Congress; and it has since appeared that in one instance at least (the claim of Fillietaz) a part of one of our own claims has been deemed by the government of the Netherlands to be embraced by the said conventions, and has accordingly been paid. Vessels burnt at sea have also been provided for by those treaties; but, upon the whole, so small a portion of our claims would be embraced by the stipulations in favor of the subjects of the allied powers, that it will be found safer, except in special cases, to rely on the general answer which I first gave.
2dly. That, in similar and cotemporaneous cases, we had obtained no indemnities from England and Naples. Independent of the obvious and general answer that an unjust refusal from those powers did not lessen our claim on France or justify her in pursuing the same course, I observed, with respect to England, that we had actually sought redress against her by war; that, although unable to obtain it by the treaty of peace, we had, by a cotemporaneous declaration, preserved our rights, and had never abandoned them; that it was true that they were nevertheless impaired by the resort to war, whilst the reverse was the fact with respect to France; and finally, that a very considerable, indeed the greater, portion of our claims on France were either for sequestrations without trial or for condemnations by improper authorities (imperial decisions), instead of a trial by the ordinary tribunal in conformity with existing treaties, or for seizures under decrees executed suddenly and without previous notice, or to which a retrospective effect had been given, and in some cases (Antwerp) made although no existing decree could be applied to them; whilst the decrees of England, however unjust and in violation of the law of nations, had at least always been accompanied with proper notice of the time when they would be put in force, had never received a retrospective construction, and had uniformly been carried into effect by the ordinary and previously established courts of admiralty. With respect to Naples, after stating that we had not abandoned our claim on that government and that we considered the ground assumed by it as untenable, I said that the reason assigned by the Neapolitan Ministry for their refusal was such as could not and would not be alleged by France. The reason thus assigned was that the King of the Two Sicilies had never been dethroned, and had, during the whole contest, maintained undisturbed possession of an important part of his dominions (Sicily) and waged constant war against the invaders of the other part; that the possession of his continental dominions by the enemy could, therefore, be only considered as a military occupation, and not as an established government de facto, any more, and for the same reason, than that of Joseph Bonaparte in Spain, which we had never recognized; and that he, the King of the Two Sicilies, having ultimately gained possession of his whole kingdom, was no more responsible for the outrages committed against neutrals by the invaders than he would have been if they had been perpetrated by any enemy whatever that happened to gain possession of part of the country for the period of a single campaign. And it was evident that this argument, such as it was, was wholly inapplicable to the situation of France, to Napoleon, who had for so many years been in the full and undisturbed possession of all its territories, and had been recognized as her sovereign by all the powers of Europe and of the civilized world.
3dly. That the present government of France was not bound to make compensation in cases which had been finally adjudged under Bonaparte’s reign; a position which embraced all the cases of condemnation, and which, as already known to you, it was attempted to extend to all our claims (vessels burnt at sea only excepted) by giving a false construction to the order for transferring the proceeds of sales of sequestered property to the treasury, and pretending that that order was tantamount to a condemnation. This last attempt has been repelled, and will not probably be renewed; but the ground that the actual condemnations are final will certainly be taken. It is obvious enough that when we ask redress from a government and not from their tribunals for injuries arising from flagrant violations of the law of nations, it is preposterous to refuse it because the injury has been consummated, the capture, trial, and condemnation under unlawful decrees being all parts of the same system, to which the final process and decision can give no sanction. The principle, absurd as it is, will nevertheless be maintained, because the French government can avow it without fear of the public opinion in France revolting against it, since it has been uniformly adhered to with respect to their own subjects; the most just claims of French subjects against their own government having, I believe, without exception, been rejected if there had been a decision against them under Bonaparte, or if barred by some of his very unjust acts of limitation. It is proper here to advert to those secret decrees of Bonaparte which have been or may be construed into acts of condemnation and add to the mass of claims attempted to be excluded under this head. Two of these decrees only have come to my knowledge, but there may be more in reserve. The first is the order already alluded to, by virtue of which the proceeds of sales of sequestered property were transferred from the sinking fund to the treasury. Of the existence of that decree the French government is certain, since without it the money could not have been paid, as it actually was, into the treasury; but the men in power, not knowing that it was to be found in, and was only one of the clauses of, a long decree or imperial budget (a species of supplementary appropriation law by which Bonaparte used to enact in council when those of the legislative body proved insufficient), and thinking that it was a distinct act for that special purpose, have not heretofore been able to produce or indeed to discover the text. It is simply an order for the payment into the treasury of the moneys arising from the sales of the American property seized at Antwerp, of that sold at Bayonne (St. Sebastian’s, &c., seizures), and of the American vessels delivered by Holland to France in consequence of a special unpublished treaty; which moneys, together with certain other funds, are by the decree appropriated to defray the additional expenses provided for by the budget. The other secret decree is of a cotemporaneous date with the official communication to Mr. Armstrong that the Berlin and Milan decrees would be revoked on certain conditions in the month of November next ensuing; it embraces all the vessels and cargoes seized in France or in the dominions of her allies subsequent to May, 1809; or, in other words, all the sequestered American property with the exception of that seized in Antwerp; and, under pretence of retaliation, it directs a disposition of the proceeds in terms not amounting to condemnation but susceptible of being so construed. This decree may not be known to the present French government, or they may be ashamed to avail themselves of such a mean and perfidious act; certain it is that it has never been alluded to. It was sent to me from a private but authentic source, and was sent through mistake instead of another document. I have no copy of it, but left one in the archives of the American mission at Paris, and sent one to the Department of State.
4thly. That the seizures at St. Sebastian’s and in Holland were avowedly made in retaliation of the Act of Congress of March, 1809. The fact that such was the pretence set up by Bonaparte cannot be denied; and he never abandoned that ground; at least, it will be found that in the last letter from his Minister of Foreign Affairs to Mr. Armstrong the determination is expressed to try those cases according to the law of retaliation. This ground may probably be taken by the present government of France, but, not having been distinctly avowed, no opportunity offered to discuss it. The answer will be found in the well-established principle that the law of retaliation cannot go beyond its avowed object,—that of obtaining redress for the injury actually sustained, and in the following facts, viz.: 1st, that the Act of Congress complained of was nothing more than a prohibition to import French or English merchandise, or to admit in our ports French or English vessels, accompanied by the usual clause of forfeiture (as in all other revenue laws) in case the law was infringed; which prohibition was an act lawful in itself, forced on the United States by the previous violations of the law of nations by France and England, and inoffensive to either by being made common to both; 2dly, that this Act was communicated to the French government immediately after its passage, without calling any complaint on its part; instead of which, about seven months after that communication, and without any previous notice, the pretended decree of retaliation was issued. It is very clear that had France issued a decree, with proper notice, forbidding the entrance of American vessels in Spanish and other ports in her possession, none would have attempted to enter such ports, and the seizures in question would not have taken place; 3dly, that it is believed (though this fact requires investigation) that not a single French vessel was forfeited under the Act of Congress complained of.
5thly. That the present government of France is not responsible for any of the injuries committed against the Americans by that of Bonaparte. This doctrine, not having been distinctly asserted, has not been discussed; and it is so contrary to the acknowledged law of nations, to the treaties of France with the allied powers, and to the uniform recognition of all the laws and acts of Bonaparte’s government in relation to French subjects and to the internal concerns of France, that it is not probable that it will be officially sustained. Still, the sentiment, half concealed, half avowed, is entertained; and, together with the want of a sense of justice and with the magnitude of the claims, is the real objection to their admission, everything else which has been mentioned being nothing but pretence and evasion. And the most candid of the French Ministers have declared that they would never grant indemnities for condemnations; that such was the mass of injustice committed by Bonaparte that France was unable to make full compensation for it; that the allied powers, with 500,000 men occupying France, had been so sensible of this truth that they had agreed to accept, in full discharge of the indemnities claimed by their subjects, a sum falling very short of their just demands; and that the United States must agree to a transaction founded on similar principles. On this I will only observe that the British subjects were more than compensated in full, and that, as far as I could form an estimate, the subjects of the other powers received on an average about one-half (or perhaps rather more) of their just demands, to which may be added that ours stand, on the whole, on higher grounds in point of justice than many of theirs which were allowed.
You will, from what precedes, form a correct estimate of the difficulties which stood and stand in the way of an arrangement. And you will see by the correspondence that the whole is now arrested by the demand of France that the subject should be treated in connection with the question arising under the 8th Article of the Louisiana convention. I consider the pretension set up by France under color of that article, and her interference in the case of Beaumarchais, as intended only to obtain better terms in the adjustment of the claims of American citizens.
It being ascertained that the French government would not make compensation in the cases of condemnations, and it being impossible that that of the United States should abandon that description of claims, three modes only suggested themselves of coming to a practicable result, viz.:
I. To attempt to obtain, gradually, payment for the claims which France seemed disposed to allow, without entering into any convention, and reserving therefore, unimpaired, the rights of our fellow-citizens in cases not allowed. It was on that ground that the Antwerp claims were first pressed, as the most unexceptionable. Some progress was made; but Mr. de Villèle, as soon as he took up the subject, declared his opposition to any partial payment, and that a transaction must be made for the whole.
II. To accept in full compensation for all our claims a gross sum, to be distributed by commissioners appointed by the government of the United States. It is not probable that the French government will offer a reasonable sum; and the distribution would be very embarrassing to ours. It seems to me that they could and would make no distinction between sequestrations and unlawful condemnations.
III. To refer all the claims to a joint commission, half American, half French, with a stipulation to refer to a foreign sovereign the decision (as to principle, but not for liquidation) of the cases on which the commissioners should disagree.
Mr. Brown is instructed to press again the subject. Should he fail, you may now be able to judge what course it is best for the claimants to pursue. It was in the Antwerp cases that I was asked whether they had not better sell the claim. I advised against it, because the claim seemed irresistible, because there appeared some prospect to obtain payment, and because, if compelled to sell, I wished, considering the means to which the claimants might be compelled to resort, that the transaction might not take place whilst I was minister of the United States to France.
I believe that the correspondence communicated to Congress will supply all the necessary information not contained in this letter, and I think that it would be advisable to have the said correspondence republished in some newspapers, in order to make the scattered claimants acquainted with the state of the business, and in order to produce some national feeling in favor of the claims. Some parts would then also, perhaps, find their way in the French papers; and there is still in France something like a public opinion, which has its weight.
I regret that I had not more consoling information to give you; but it is proper that you should be in possession of the whole subject. The only advantage gained during a negotiation of more than six years (besides removing prejudices of a general nature arising from our war with England, which gave us the unfounded appearance of concert with Bonaparte) is, that France, unable to deny the justice of our claims and to repel our arguments, has declined the discussion; and that, after so long a silence and even the little she has said, it seems impossible that her government should dare hereafter to deny altogether their responsibility, or advance any of those sweeping objections which would embrace the whole of our claims.
You will have the goodness to excuse this scrawl. I have not time to correct and transcribe.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, gentlemen, your most obedient servant.
GALLATIN TO WALTER LOWRIE.
Washington, 19th February, 1824.
Mr. Gallatin arrived in the United States in the year 1780, and became a citizen under the laws of Virginia in October, 1785, having taken the requisite oath of allegiance for that purpose at that session of the court of Monongalia County. Having been elected a Senator of the United States in February, 1793, it was naturally objected that he had not been nine years a citizen of the United States, as required by the Constitution. The facts had been stated by himself and were known at the time when he was elected.
The grounds on which his eligibility was sustained were, 1st, that having come to the United States as a minor, during the Revolutionary contest and prior to the adoption of the Articles of Confederation, he was embraced by that compact, and must be considered as a citizen; 2dly, that he had been an inhabitant of a State more than nine years before his election, which was sufficient to give him the rights of citizen under the Articles of Confederation. It was provided by the 4th of those Articles that “the free inhabitants of each of these States (paupers, vagabonds, and fugitives from justice excepted) should be entitled to all privileges and immunities of free citizens in the several States.” An extract from the 42d number of the Federalist was quoted to show that at the time when the Constitution of the United States was under consideration that clause was construed in the sense contended for. And the provision substituted in lieu thereof in the Constitution, viz., that “the citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States,” was adduced in proof that the presumed defect in the expression used in the Articles of Confederation was understood and corrected by the framers of the Constitution. The several facts contained in the statement were brought forward in order to establish the time when and the age at which Mr. Gallatin had come to the United States, and to prove that prior to February, 1784, being nine years before his election, he had become, in the usual and technical meanings of the word, an inhabitant first of the State of Massachusetts and afterwards of that of Virginia, and, as such, entitled to the privilege of citizen in the several States, or, in other words, a citizen of the United States.
It was contended, on the other hand, 1st, that the assertion that his coming to the United States at the age and time and under the circumstances above mentioned entitled him to the privileges of a citizen, was contrary to the laws of the several States, as well as to the usages and general law of nations; and, 2dly, that the construction put on the above-mentioned clauses in the 4th Article of Confederation was inadmissible, and that the term inhabitants therein used must necessarily be taken as applying only to such as were also citizens of the State.
That such was the opinion of Mr. Gallatin was inferred from the fact of his having thought it necessary to take the oath of allegiance in 1785, for the express purpose of being admitted a citizen of Virginia.
The case was argued before the Senate by Mr. Gallatin for himself, and by Mr. William Lewis, of Philadelphia, in behalf of the petitioners against the election. The question was afterwards discussed with much ability by Messrs. King, Ellsworth, Strong, &c., against Mr. Gallatin’s eligibility, and by Messrs. Monroe, Taylor, Burr, Baldwin, &c., in favor of it, and finally decided against the election by a majority of two votes.
But this decision applied only to the subject of debate. That if Mr. Gallatin had taken the oath of allegiance before February, 1784, he would have been entitled to a seat in the Senate, or that he had become a citizen of the United States in October, 1785, and therefore prior to the adoption of the Constitution, never was or could be disputed.
After having been chosen in 1789 a member of the convention for revising the constitution of Pennsylvania, he was elected, in October, 1790, a member of the House of Representatives of that State. The new constitution provided that no person should be a representative who had not been a citizen and inhabitant of the State three years next preceding his election. Mr. G. must, therefore, have been deemed a citizen of the State in October, 1787, prior to the adoption of the Constitution of the United States, the earliest date which can be assigned for the adoption being the day of 1788, when the Constitution was adopted by nine States.
In October, 1794, a few months after the decision on his eligibility to the Senate, he was elected a member of the House of Representatives for the Congress beginning on the 4th March, 1795, to which he would not have been eligible unless he was a citizen of the United States seven years before, that is to say, on the 4th March, 1788, and prior to the adoption of the Constitution. His seat was not contested nor any doubt suggested on his eligibility at a time when all the facts connected with his right to citizenship were fresh in the memory of every person and on record. But, without reference to particular dates, if not a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, he was at no time eligible to a seat in Congress, and he must have been for ten years a member either of that body or of the Legislature of Pennsylvania contrary to the provisions of the Constitutions of that State and of the United States. For, if he was not a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, he never was and is not now one, since he has not, subsequent to the year 1785, performed any act which could bestow the right upon him. Had there been the least foundation for assuming this ground, there is no doubt that the attempt would have been made. For the part he took in Congress in the year 1798-1799 had rendered him so obnoxious to at least a portion of the party in power that an amendment to the Constitution was recommended by the State of Massachusetts and by some of the adjacent States, but arrested in its progress by the Legislatures of New York and Pennsylvania, the effect, if not the sole object, of which was to render him incapable of holding a seat in Congress.
It seems, however, to have been lately suggested that a person admitted citizen of a State prior to the adoption of the Constitution of the United States was not a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of the Constitution. The grounds for that opinion are not distinctly understood, but it seems altogether untenable.
The several States assumed the name of the United States in the very act by which they declared their independence; but being bound at that time by no compact, and having no common government, it was not till after the ratification of the Articles of Confederation, in the year 1781, that there could be any citizens of the United States.
The power of naturalization was not by those Articles vested in the general government, and remained, therefore, as every other power not thus delegated, with the States respectively. It was equally obvious that, unless express provision was made for the purpose, the union of the several States, whether by those Articles or by the subsequent adoption of the present Constitution, did not of itself create citizens of the United States or communicate to citizens of a State the right of citizenship in the several States. The power of granting or refusing that right to a citizen of another State would have remained as entire with the several States as that of naturalizing foreigners had no provision been introduced on the subject, first in the Articles of Confederation and afterwards in the Constitution. It was accordingly enacted, with a variation in the expression, by the Articles of Confederation, that the inhabitants, and by the Constitution, that the citizens, of each State should be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States. There is no other provision affecting the subject in either of those instruments, except that in the present Constitution which gives to Congress the power of establishing an uniform rule of naturalization. With the exception of foreigners naturalized in conformity with the Acts of Congress passed since the adoption of the Constitution, all native- or foreign-born citizens of the United States are such by virtue of either the one or the other of the clauses above mentioned of the Articles of Confederation and of the Constitution. Were it not for those provisions, the citizens of the several States would not be entitled to the rights of citizenship in another State unless admitted to those rights by such State; they would not be citizens of the United States. The citizens of the United States contemplated by the Constitution are, with the exception above mentioned, exclusively the citizens (or perhaps, under the Constitution, the inhabitants) of each State, declared either by the Act of Confederation or by the Constitution to be entitled to the privileges of citizens in the several States.
The clause in the Constitution may perhaps be considered as having had a retrospective effect. This might at least be inferred from the provision which renders ineligible for Senator any person who had not been nine years a citizen of the United States, as there was no person who, strictly speaking, was such prior to the ratification of the Articles of Confederation in 1781, since which time less than eight years had elapsed when the present Constitution was organized. But the Articles of Confederation are sufficient to decide the question on which a doubt has been raised.
Under the Confederation the several States preserved, and they did exercise, the right of admitting citizens. By the 4th Article the inhabitants of each State became entitled to the privileges of citizens in the several States, or, what has been shown to be tantamount, became citizens of the United States. That provision was not at all limited to those who were inhabitants of each State at the time of the ratification of the Articles of Confederation, but was prospective, and necessarily embraced all those who might thereafter become inhabitants of a State.
The foreigners, therefore, who, during the existence of the Articles of Confederation, became inhabitants, or, taking the expression in its most limited sense, were admitted citizens of any State, became thereby entitled to the privileges of citizens in the several States, and were, to all intents and purposes, citizens of the United States at the time of the adoption of the Constitution of the United States. The contrary opinion would lead to the extraordinary conclusion that the several thousand foreigners naturalized under the laws of the States prior to the adoption of the Constitution of the United States, not being then deemed citizens of the United States, would be forever ineligible, whilst those naturalized under the Acts of Congress subsequent to the adoption of the Constitution would, as citizens of the United States, become eligible to either House of Congress.
GALLATIN TO B. RUGGLES, U. S. Sen.
Fayette County, Pennsylvania, 16th May, 1824.
I had the honor to receive your letter of the 1st instant, informing me that at a meeting of Republican members of Congress, held pursuant to general notice on the 14th of February last, I was recommended to the people of the United States as a suitable candidate for the office of Vice-President of the said States at the coming election.
I entertain the highest sense of the honor done me by the distinguished citizens who composed the meeting; and, if elected, I will accept with gratitude the elevated office for which they have thought it proper to recommend me to the people of the United States.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, sir, your most obedient servant.
GALLATIN TO WALTER LOWRIE.
New Geneva, Pennsylvania, May 22, 1824.
Your and Mr. Ruggles’s letters of 1st instant were detained one day at the post-office, and reached me at the moment of my departure from Baltimore. As I had previously written to you that I would abide by the decision of our friends in Congress and stand as a candidate for Vice-President, if they ultimately concluded that it was most advantageous for the public cause that I should be retained on the nomination, I had not believed it necessary to make a formal answer to Mr. Ruggles’s notification. Indeed, I think that the great solemnity given at the last elections to the Congressional nominations of President and Vice-President, and the making it a part of the proceedings to publish the answers of the persons nominated, has been injurious to the Republican interest. It is that which has furnished a pretence to attach to the whole the odium of being an attempt to dictate to the people. Formerly those meetings were as efficient; and yet there was no publication, with the formalities of chairman, secretary, answers of candidates, &c.; they were matters of public notoriety, with only the appearance of an understanding between the members to support the persons agreed on. I allude particularly to the two very important elections which wrested the power from the Federalists, that in 1799 of Governor McKean, and in 1800 of Mr. Jefferson, in the preparatory meetings for both of which I was an efficient member. I am sure that no answer of Mr. Jefferson, and I believe that none of Mr. Madison, was ever published. A different course originated either with Senator Bradley or General Smith as chairman of the Congressional meeting,—a useless and, I think, injurious parade. As it is, however, thought necessary, I have written an answer to Mr. Ruggles, and have said so much only to account for its delay.
I had no doubt that Edwards’s charges would recoil on himself whenever the subject was investigated. The mischief consists in his short recapitulation of half a dozen broad charges, which has been reprinted in almost every newspaper of the Union, and read by everybody, whilst few only will peruse, and not all of these be able to appreciate, the conclusive answer of Mr. Crawford. I hope that the report of the committee of investigation will contain some short and pointed denial of the charges which may also be read by all.
We will have a hard, perhaps unsuccessful, struggle in Pennsylvania. As yet this part of the country seems to be divided between Jackson and Clay, with [a] few old Republicans in favor of Mr. Crawford, who is less known and is not a Western man. The opposition in this State should, I think, be directed against General Jackson as the most formidable opponent here, though not elsewhere; and I think that the correspondence, the publication of which you have forced, affords sufficient proof that, whatever gratitude we owe him for his eminent military services, he is not fitted for the office of first magistrate of a free people and to administer a government of laws. His doctrine of paying no regard to party in the selection of the great officers of government is not only in direct opposition to the principles of the Republican party and to his own opinions in 1801, whilst he was one of them, but it is tantamount to a declaration that political principles and opinions are of no importance in the administration of government. If this is true, if talents and virtue are the only considerations to be attended to in the choice of heads of Departments and of those high offices generally (where there is necessarily much discretion, and which have a marked influence on all the external and internal operations of government), the people of the United States, Republicans and Federalists, have been in the wrong from the establishment of our Constitution to this day. The Republicans had certainly no right, if that doctrine be true, to oppose General Hamilton or to object to Mr. Adams’s election. But the doctrine is altogether untrue. General Jackson has confounded the excesses to which party spirit may lead, which no one denies, but of which no party was ever less guilty than that of the Republicans of the United States, with the essence and foundation of that party, which is nothing but adherence to a set of principles and to a system of measures essential, in our opinion, to the maintenance of our free institutions, to a wise administration of our government, to the prosperity of the country, to the happiness of the people. It is for the support and advancement of all these that we deem it important to select men for the offices in question whose political opinions are not discordant with those principles and that system. Disregard that distinction, and you immediately lose sight of the principles and substitute men to measures, faction to party, and ultimately and unavoidably favoritism to a selection founded on correct political opinions and merit. I could say much more on that subject, too comprehensive for the limits of a letter. But, without dwelling on the trite though not less true observation that parties constituted as ours were watch one another and are one of the best safeguards against illegal or oppressive measures, I will add a single remark. It is not my solitary opinion, but that also of our wisest and most enlightened statesmen, that the greatest danger to our free institutions, and particularly to the permanence of the Union, will be found less in any great and real difference of interest amongst its several sections than in the disordinate ambition of individuals, especially of disappointed individuals. These are and will be more effectually kept in check and controlled by the force of party and by the bond resulting therefrom than by any other means whatever. I am sure that this on reflection will appear obvious to you, and I come to a more tangible topic.
In avowing that he would have punished, through the medium of a court-martial, men presumed to be guilty of political offences in their civil character and who did not belong to the army, General Jackson has expressed a greater and a bolder disregard of the first principles of liberty than I have ever known to be entertained by any American, or, indeed, by any person professing himself to be either a Republican or only a friend to a government of laws. This avowal accords, indeed, with his general conduct. He entertains, I believe, very sincere but very erroneous and most dangerous opinions on the subject of military and Executive power. Whenever he has been intrusted with the first, he has usurped more than belonged to him; and when he thought it useful to the public, he has not hesitated to transcend the law and the legal authority vested in him. Hence his collisions with the judiciary at New Orleans and Pensacola, and hence his assumption of the power of making war against a foreign nation, evinced in his second capture of Pensacola and in his deliberate orders to take St. Augustine under a certain contingency; measures which he believes himself to have been perfectly correct, although they were not authorized by the Executive, and although they could not, according to our Constitution, have been thus authorized without a special previous Act of Congress. It is because he entertains and avows such opinions, it is on that ground that, without any personal disrespect or want of gratitude for his great services, it is to me incomprehensible that he can be supported by Republicans and real friends of liberty. I believe it impossible that he can be elected; but it is to me at least a deep matter of regret that he should be seriously supported in any quarter of the Union, above all in Democratic Pennsylvania. Is it possible that the people should lend arms to the enemies of their rights, to the scoffers of free government? that they should add one more proof to those with which the history of mankind abounds, and which the face of the globe and even of Europe exhibits, that, dazzled by military glory, they, the people, are naturally disposed to sacrifice their rights and liberties to the shrine of that glory, and to substitute the worship of a chieftain to the exercise of those rights and to the maintenance of that liberty? The French, indeed, have given a late sad example in the oversetting of the republic and submission to a first-rate man. An apology might be found in inveterate habits not yet corrected. But I still hope that our fellow-citizens will dispel the delusion and prove themselves true to their former and inborn principles. They are the last hope of liberty and of man, and have the highest duties to perform. No effort should be spared to recall forcibly those truths to their minds.
I remain very respectfully, dear sir, your most obedient servant.
WALTER LOWRIE TO GALLATIN.
Butler, 25th September, 1824.
My Dear Sir,—
The subject of which this letter treats has given me the most severe pain of mind. The bearer, our mutual friend General Lacock, will inform you of the situation of my family, which has prevented me from accompanying him to see you.
From the most authentic information communicated to me by our friends in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York, the most serious fears are entertained that Mr. Calhoun will be elected by the electors; or, if he should not, his vote will be so great that his chance in the Senate will be almost conclusive in his favor. On this subject I have not a feeling I would not be desirous that you should know. No man can desire your success more than I do. Still, my dear sir, I believe your chance of success is now almost hopeless; and, assuming that as a fact, what is to be done? The question has been met by a number of our friends, and they have suggested the arrangement which Mr. Lacock will make known to you. This plan has the approbation of as many of our friends as it was possible to consult, all of them your most decided friends. They are, however, afraid of your success, and wish, if possible, to have an arrangement made with Mr. Clay, to which if he would consent, it would go far to secure the election of Mr. Crawford.
After the most deep and anxious reflection I have been able to bestow upon the subject, I would advise you to withdraw from the contest. How that should be done in case you approve of it, I do not know. Your feelings and views of the best manner of doing it would be conclusive with me. The arrangement submitted to Mr. Lacock and myself contemplated your remaining on the ticket till near the election in case Mr. Clay would consent; and if he would not consent, then for you to remain on the ticket to the last. I confess I do not like this conditional arrangement, and the letter of Mr. Dickinson makes me dislike it more. These points are all open, and I was most desirous of seeing you and getting your views upon them. In case you approve of having your name withdrawn, it occurs to me that the best manner would be in a letter to Judge Ruggles, which might be published a few days after Mr. Lacock’s departure. In that case, Clay would not be informed of it till Mr. Lacock would have seen him, and his decision might be different than if he knew absolutely that you had withdrawn. If you prefer the other, however,—that is, to place your withdrawing on the contingency of Mr. Clay’s co-operation,—I am perfectly satisfied. Indeed, I feel quite at a loss how to advise in the case. Indeed, in this whole communication I write under the greatest pain and embarrassment. Every step I have taken in regard to your name being placed before the nation was dictated by the purest friendship to you and the clearest sense of duty to my country. To have had any agency in placing you in a situation at all calculated to wound your feelings or give pain to your mind is to me a source of painful reflection. This, added to the perplexed state of public opinion and the uncertainty of the final result, brings with it a distress of mind I have never heretofore experienced.
I am, my dear sir, with sincere esteem, your friend.
GALLATIN TO WALTER LOWRIE.
Fayette County, Pennsylvania, October 2, 1824.
Your letter of the 25th of September, received on the 29th, has caused me much perplexity, not from any hesitation as to the principles which should govern my conduct, but from want of sufficient knowledge of the facts.
It is evident that I ought not to decline from mere personal motives and in order to avoid the mortification of a defeat, especially if this should be in any degree injurious to the public cause. There is in a nomination a mutual though tacit pledge, of support on the part of those who nominate, of standing a candidate on the part of the person nominated.
But my withdrawing would be proper in case my continuing to stand should either appear injurious to the election of Mr. Crawford or prevent the election of a proper person to the office of Vice-President. On either the one or the other of those grounds I consider your communications decisive so far as relates to New Jersey and New York. There may be no difficulty with respect to Georgia and any other State where the choice of electors remains with the Legislature. The embarrassment is principally in relation to Virginia and North Carolina. I am sensible that my name is in itself of no weight anywhere; but it is not for me, consulting only my feelings, to decide whether, after the active exertions of committees and individuals in favor of the two candidates nominated at Washington, the withdrawing the name of one on the eve of a popular election, and without substituting another in his place, may prove favorable or injurious to the success of the Republican tickets.
With that view of the subject, my answer to Mr. Lacock was that I would leave the decision with the central committee of correspondence for the State of Virginia. To that State I am more particularly bound, as the only one where, to my knowledge, the nomination of Washington was confirmed in full by the Republican members of the Legislature. The committee is their legitimate organ; and from their local situation they also are best able to form an opinion concerning North Carolina, with which last State there was hardly time to consult, and whose arrangements on the subject of the election are not known to me. Our friends in those districts of Maryland which may be favorable to us might also be consulted.
I am still of the same opinion; but, considering how little time remains, and how much would be lost by corresponding with me, I enclose my declaration that I wish my name to be withdrawn, not directed to Mr. Ruggles, since he is not to judge whether and when it must be used, but intended for publication in the newspapers at the discretion of the committee for Virginia, who will of course consult, if necessary, with Mr. Van Buren on the subject.
There will be no necessity for that consultation if they think it advantageous in the Southern States that my name should be withdrawn prior to the election of electors. They may at once, in that case, publish my declaration, since it is ascertained that the effect will be favorable in the North. To me that course would be the most agreeable. The publication must, at all events, be made before the result of the election of electors is ascertained, and prior to their being elected by the Legislature of New York.
In order to avoid delays as far as depends on me, I will enclose copies of my declining and of the substance of this letter both to Mr. Van Buren, at Albany, and to Mr. Stevenson, at Richmond, to be communicated by him to the committee of correspondence, as I do not know their names. But he may be absent, and it will be necessary for you to write not only to Mr. Van Buren, but also to Richmond, enclosing copy of my declining and of such parts of this letter as will put them in full possession of the subject.
The publication of my declining should be made, as far as practicable, simultaneously in the National Intelligencer and principal State papers.
I advised Mr. Lacock against negotiating in person with Mr. Clay, as I thought that it would only encourage him to advise his friends in New York to make no compromise that would not secure him a part at least of the votes of that State for President. The only way, it seemed to me, was to convince him, by the choice of electors there, that he had no chance for that office. This, however, was an opinion on a subject in which I can have nothing more to say.
Of your friendship, sincerity, and patriotic motives I am most perfectly satisfied. My nomination has been a miscalculation, and, however painful the result may be to our feelings, having nothing to reproach ourselves with throughout the whole transaction, there is nothing in it, save the effect it may have on the public cause, that can give us any permanent uneasiness.
I have but one observation to add. From my experience both when Mr. Jefferson was made Vice-President and when, in 1808, Mr. Clinton was re-elected to the same office, I know that nothing can be more injurious to an Administration than to have in that office a man in hostility with that Administration, as he will always become the most formidable rallying-point for the opposition.
I remain, respectfully and sincerely, your friend and obedient servant.
GALLATIN TO ANDREW STEVENSON.
New Geneva, Fayette County, October 2, 1824.
I received on the 29th ult. a letter from Mr. Lowrie, of Pennsylvania, informing me that there was no longer any expectation of my being elected Vice-President, and that my name was injurious to the success of the Republican electoral ticket in some quarters, and that if withdrawn it would facilitate the substitution of another person in my place. My confidenee in Mr. Lowrie is great; his information with respect to New Jersey and New York appeared to be decisive; but I had doubts on the propriety of my withdrawing (a step most agreeable to my own feelings) without having more positive information on the effect it might have on the elections in the Southern States, and without the consent of those who had done me the honor to support my nomination.
I cannot better express my sentiments on that subject than by enclosing the copy of my answer to Mr. Lowrie; and to avoid delays I enclose also a duplicate of my withdrawing, to be used in the manner stated in my letter to Mr. Lowrie.
I believe my nomination to have been a miscalculation. Having been made, I feel anxious that no act of mine should aggravate its injurious consequences to the Republican cause, whilst on the other hand I wish nothing to be omitted which can repair the evil. Had I had sufficient information I would at once have decided for myself. Deprived of it, residing in a sequestered spot, fearful of committing a mistake, I leave the decision to those friends of the common cause who appear to me the most proper persons to make it.
My feelings towards the State of Virginia are already expressed in my letter to Mr. Lowrie. I beg leave to reiterate the same sentiments to the committee of correspondence, for whom, in fact, this communication is intended, and which I take the liberty to address to you because I do not recollect the name of the chairman. I request you to have the goodness to give them both this letter and the enclosures, and have the honor to remain, respectfully, sir, your most obedient servant.
GALLATIN TO MARTIN VAN BUREN.
New Geneva, Pennsylvania, October 2, 1824.
I received on the 29th ult. a letter from Mr. Lowrie, stating that it was ascertained that I could not be elected Vice-President, and intimating that the continuance of my name was injurious to the Republican electoral ticket in some quarters, and that my withdrawing would facilitate a plan you had in view for substituting another candidate. Although Mr. Lacock, who brought Mr. Lowrie’s letter, gave me the outlines of that plan, although the information given by Mr. Lowrie himself was decisive with respect to New York and New Jersey, yet, not having seen either your letters to him or those (save one) from his other correspondents, I was left uninformed as to the effect of my withdrawing on the elections in the Southern States. Satisfied that my nomination was a misfortune founded on miscalculation, I felt equally anxious to do no act that might aggravate the evil, to omit none that might have a tendency to remedy it. To give you my full view of the subject I cannot do better than to enclose a copy of my answer of this day to Mr. Lowrie; and to avoid delays I also enclose a duplicate of my withdrawing, to be used in the manner stated in that letter. I have written to the same effect, enclosing also a duplicate, to Mr. Stevenson, member of Congress at Richmond, and requesting him to give both to the committee of correspondence, whom I do not know. But as he may be absent, and my letter may miscarry, it will not preclude the necessity on your part to correspond with them. It is proper to add that in my letter to Richmond I have said that, as the injurious effect of my nomination in the North was ascertained, they might immediately publish my declining being a candidate if they thought this would have a favorable effect on the elections of electors in Virginia and North Carolina. On the whole, it would be fairer (if not actually injurious in that quarter) to publish immediately; and, at all events, the publication must be made prior to the appointment of electors by the Legislature of New York.
I advised Mr. Lacock not to open a negotiation in person with Mr. Clay, from a conviction that it would only increase that gentleman’s hopes of success for the first office, and that the appointment of electors in New York friendly to Mr. Crawford was the only means of inducing him to decline. For the office of Vice-President I would prefer Mr. Sanford, a Northern man, a pure and unambitious man, and who is already nominated by Mr. Clay’s friends to the West. But if you wish to preserve our party, have anybody in that place rather than an enemy of Mr. Crawford, such as Mr. Calhoun. I know the effect of having had Mr. Jefferson for Vice-President in 1797-1801, and Mr. Clinton, then a decided opponent of the Administration, in 1808 to his death.
I return my thanks to all my friends for their partiality and support, and have the honor to remain, respectfully, sir, your most obedient servant.
[P.S. to both letters.]
The enclosed declaration of my withdrawing, directed to no one, is rather awkward, and I do not admire coming before the public in the first person. But it is a voucher; and it may be better that the article in the newspapers should run in the usual style of “We are authorized to state,” &c.
Understanding that the withdrawing of my name may have a favorable effect on the result of the approaching election of President and Vice-President of the United States, I request that I may no longer be considered as a candidate for the office of Vice-President.
GALLATIN TO C. W. GOOCH.
New Geneva, Pennsylvania, October 7, 1824.
Mr. Lowrie sent me, and I received yesterday, your letter to him of 15th ultimo. The first intimation on the subject I received from him or any other person was on the 29th, prior to your letter reaching him; and on the 2d instant I wrote to him and to Mr. Stevenson, M.C., at Richmond, the letters of which I enclose copies in order to guard against the contingency of Mr. Stevenson’s absence from Richmond. Referring to these, I can only add, having now seen yours, which would have been decisive with me, that I am clearly of opinion that my withdrawing ought to be published immediately. This course would be most agreeable to my feelings, is the fairest with respect to the people, and is now, in my view of the subject, free of any objection. I leave, however, the decision with the committee, with the reiterated request to consult nothing but what will tend to promote the success of the Republican cause. I am personally entirely out of question, and only regret that the fact of the injury my name did to that cause had not been earlier ascertained and communicated directly to me.
I was pleased to find by your letter that you entertained the same opinion I did in regard of the intended negotiation by our own friends and at this moment with Mr. Clay. I strongly advised against it, from a conviction that it would only tend to keep his hopes alive and to induce him to exert every nerve to persuade his friends in New York to come to no compromise that did not insure him at least a part of the votes of that State for President. The appointment of electors there can alone convince him that he has no chance of being placed on the return, and compel him to yield.
My greatest apprehension is for the State of North Carolina, where from the beginning I feared that there was great danger of the Jackson mania spreading, as in Pennsylvania, beyond the control of all the men of sense and friendly to a government of laws.
I have the honor to be, respectfully, sir, your obedient servant.
GALLATIN TO WALTER LOWRIE.
New Geneva, Pennsylvania, October 7, 1824.
I received yesterday yours of 3d instant, and now return the enclosed from Mr. Gooch, which would have been decisive with me if received prior to Mr. Lacock’s visit to me. You will have seen by mine of 2d instant that I had anticipated the course you recommend; and to guard against the contingency of Mr. Stevenson’s absence from Richmond, I send duplicates by this mail to Mr. Gooch.
I can assure you that, excepting the momentary perplexity respecting the proper course to be pursued by me, in which your letter by Mr. Lacock put me, I have felt much less on the occasion than I think you have on my account; probably because I had anticipated a defeat from the time of the first Harrisburg convention; principally, I think, because I have long since learned that, with the exception of domestic afflictions, there was nothing in the events of this life worth any real regret where we had nothing wherewith to reproach ourselves.
With sincere respect, I remain your friend and servant.