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My dear Sir, I received your obliging letter of the 1st inst. Although my letter, to which it is an answer, was not intended for publication, I would rather that it should be published, and speak for itself, than that its contents should appear through the medium of Mr. Ritchie's representation of them. With regard to its publication, you will be pleased to do as you may think proper. All that I feel anxious about is, that the public should not receive an impression that it was my intention that it should be published.
My condition at this moment is most peculiar. The batteries of some of the friends of every man who would now be President, or who, four or eight years hence, would be President, are directed against me, with only the exception of those of Mr. Adams. Some of the friends of General Jackson, Mr. Crawford, Mr. Calhoun, and Mr. Clinton, with very different ultimate ends, agree for the present to unite in assailing me. The object now is, on the part of Mr. Crawford and General Jackson, to drive me from the course which my deliberate judgment points out ; and for the future, on the part of Mr. Clinton and Mr. Calhoun, to remove me as an obstacle to their elevation. They all have yet to learn my character if they suppose it possible to make me swerve from my duty, by any species of intimidation or denunciation. But I did not expect that my old friend Ritchie would join in the general cry. He ought to recollect that he is struggling for a man, I for the country ^he to elevate an unfortunate gentleman worn down by disease, I to preserve our youthful institutions from the bane which has destroyed all the republics of the old world. I might have expected, from the patriotism of Thomas Ritchie, that he would have surrendered his personal predilections, and joined with me in the effort to save us from a precedent fraught with the most pernicious consequences. I am so far disappointed : I say it with mortification and regret. But all attempts to make me unite with him, to induce me to give up the defense of our institutions, that we may elect a sick gentleman, who has also been rejected by the great body of the nation, are vain and utterly fruitless. Mr. Ritchie ought to awake, should be himself again, and love Rome more than Caesar.
I observe what you kindly tell me about the future cabinet. My dear sir, I want no office. When have I shown an avidity
for office? In rejecting the mission to Russia, and the department of war under one administration? In rejecting the same department; the mission to England, or any other foreign mission, under the succeeding administration? If Mr. Adams is elected, I know not who will be his cabinet ; I know not whether I shall be offered a pladPfe in it or not. If there should be an offer, I shall decide upon it, when it may be made according to my sense of duty. But do you not perceive that this denunciation of me, by anticipation, is a part of the common system between the discordant confederates which I have above described? Most certainly, if an office should be offered to me under the new administration, and I should be induced to think that I ought to accept it, I shall not be deterred from accepting it, either by the, denunciations of open or secret enemies, or the hypocrisy of pretended friends.
- Henry Clay