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TO JOSEPH ALSTON.
A congressional caucus will, in the course of the ensuing month, nominate James Monroe for President of the United States, and will call on all good republicans to support the nomination.
Whether we consider the measure itself, the character and talents of the man, or the state whence he comes, this nomination is equally exceptionable and odious.
I have often heard your opinion of these congressional nominations. They are hostile to all freedom and independence of suffrage. A certain junto of actual and factitious Virginians, having had possession of the government for twenty-four years, consider the United States as their property, and, by bawling "Support the Administration," have so long succeeded in duping the republican public. One of their principal arts, and which has been systematically taught by Jefferson, is that of promoting state dissensions, not between republican and federal--that would do them no good--but schisms in the republican party. By looking round you will see how the attention of leading men in the different states has thus been turned from general and 'state' politics. Let not this disgraceful domination continue.
Independently of the manner of the nomination and the location of the candidate, the man himself is one of the most improper and incompetent that could be selected. Naturally dull and stupid; extremely illiterate; indecisive to a degree that would be incredible to one who did not know him; pusillanimous, and, of course, hypocritical; has no opinion on any subject, and will be always under the government of the worst men; pretends, as I am told, to some knowledge of military matters, but never commanded a platoon, nor was ever fit to command one. 'He served in the Revolutionary War!'--that is, he acted a short time as aid-de-camp to Lord Stirling, who was regularly ********. Monroe's whole duty was to fill his lordship's tankard, and hear, with indications of admiration, his lordship's long stories about himself. Such is Monroe's military experience. I was with my regiment in the same division at the time. As a lawyer, Monroe was far below mediocrity.
He never rose to the honour of trying a cause of the value of a hundred pounds. This is a character exactly suited to the views of the Virginia junto.
To this junto you have twice sacrificed yourself, and what have you got by it? Their hatred and abhorrence. Did you ever know them to countenance a man of talents and independence? Never--nor ever will.
It is time that you manifested that you had some individual character; some opinion of your own; some influence to support that opinion. Make them fear you, and they will be at your feet. Thus far they have reason to believe that you fear them.
The moment is extremely auspicious for breaking down this degrading system. The best citizens of our country acknowledge the feebleness of our administration. They acknowledge that offices are bestowed merely to preserve power, and without the smallest regard to fitness. If, then, there be a man in the United States of firmness and decision, and having standing enough to afford even a hope of success, it is your duty to hold him up to public view: that man is 'Andrew Jackson.'. Nothing is wanting but a respectable nomination, made before the proclamation of the Virginia caucus, and Jackson's success is inevitable.
If this project should accord with your views, I could wish to see 'you' prominent in the execution of it. It must be known to be 'your' work. Whether a formal and open nomination should now be made, or whether you should, for the present, content yourself with barely denouncing, by a joint resolution of both houses of your legislature, congressional caucuses and nominations, you only can judge. One consideration inclines me to hesitate about the policy of a present nomination. It is this--that Jackson ought first to be admonished to be passive: for, the moment he shall be announced as a candidate, he will be assailed by the Virginia junto with menaces, and with insidious promises of boons and favours. 'There is danger that Jackson might be wrought upon by such practices'. If an open nomination be made, an express should be instantly sent to him.
This suggestion has not arisen from any exclusive attachment to Jackson. The object is to break down this vile combination which rules and degrades the United States. If you should think that any other man could be held up with better prospect of success, name that man. I know of no such. But the business must be accomplished, and on this occasion, and by you. So long as the present system prevails, you will be struggling against wind and tide to preserve a precarious influence. You will never be forgiven for the crime of having talents and independence.
Exhibit yourself, then, and emerge from this state of nullity. You owe it to yourself, you owe it to me, you owe it to your country, you owe it to the memory of the dead.
I have talked of this matter to your late secretary, but he has not seen this letter.
Your secretary was to have delivered this personally, but has changed his course on hearing that Jackson is on his way to Washington. If you should have any confidential friend among the members of Congress from your state, charge him to caution Jackson against the perfidious caresses with which he will be overwhelmed at Washington.
A copy of the preceding went under cover to Dr. Wragg. Since that date things are wonderfully advanced, as your secretary will write or tell you. These will require a written message (letter) from yourself and others (or yourself alone, but three names would look more formal), advising Jackson what is doing; that communications have been had with the Northern states, requiring him only to be passive, and asking from him a list of persons in the Western states to whom you may address your letters.
- Aaron Burr
- Project Gutenberg's Memoirs of Aaron Burr, Volume 2., by Matthew L. Davis, 1836