Fort Hill 12th Sep'r r 1843
MY DEAR SIR, I have no doubt, but that the cause to which
you refer has a powerful effect in the North and North West;
and that it has been secretly used by Van Buren and his friends
to weaken me. It ought to have been struck at vigorously
when his papers first made a point of it against me, arid the
South, but that having passed, I do not think it would be
advisable to move on the subject 'till some new occasion shall
offer, which, if it should not before, it will be sure to do, during the next session of Congress. The Slave question will
then come up in some form, or another; either on the presentation of petitions, or in connection with Texas or the circular, said to be sent by the British Government to its consuls
to enquire and report minutely on the condition of our Slaves;
when the friends of Mr Van Buren will be compelled to show
their hands. If my memory serves me, the N. York Legislature has not yet repealed the obnoxious act against which
the act of your Legislature was in part directed, granting
Jury trial to fugitive Slaves. If so, it will give a proper
occasion to test the course of his friends on that vital question to the South, They have now, or will have a majority in
both Houses of their Legislature, and will have no excuse, should they refuse to repeal the act. The question once
opened the discussion can receive the direction you suggest, and be connected with the grounds taken by the N. York
Post, and the Rochester and Nantucket papers against myself on the subject; and against what, if I am right, Mr Ritchie never raised his voice, or, if at all, in the feeblest tone.
I am of the impression, with you, that Mr V. B. is gaining strength in Pennsylvania, but that he never can obtain sufficient to get the votes of the state. I never thought, that Buchanan's hold on the state was strong. The great object of
his friends there in rallying on him was to wait events, and I am of the impression, that when the time comes, he will be
too weak, or too timid to control the state; I have never calculated, accordingly, that he would have the control of its
choice. It will go for the strongest, be he who he may; I mean, he who is most likely to succeed. I have no doubt,
that Mr Buchanan is in reality opposed to Mr Van Buren, and would prefer the election of almost an} T other; but he will
not seperate from the majority of the state, go which way it may. In a word, to control the state, strength must be shown
out <>f it. If her votes can decide the election between V. B. and any other, they will not be given to him.
It is now manifest, that the sentiment of the party is in favour of appointing delegates by Districts and voting per
capita. The indications are strong, that both Missouri and Tennessee will decide for that plan; and the question is, will
N. York and Virginia hold out for their plan ? I say their plan, for it originated in Albany and Richmond. The politicians that control the two, will never yield but on compulsion.
On adhering to it rests their scheme of power and ambition;
and on defeating it, rests our hope of reforming the Government and restoring the Constitution. If they adhere, we cannot yield, and a split will be the consequence. In that case, I am decidedly of the opinion, our papers ought at once to come
out in a call on all, who are in favour of the rights of the people, and against the dictation of cliques and political managers,
to select delegates in each Congressional District, where there are such Districts, as the only means left the people of taking
the power into their own hands, and out of those of their would be dictators and managers. I am also of the opinion,
that the proceedings of the Syracuse Convention ought to be
the signal to move, should it, in spite of the strong demonstration against it adhere to the plan. It would make the crisis,
which, if seized, would give us the control; but if not, it
would pass from us to them. The bolder and more prompt
it is seized the better and more safe. The Petersburgh Republican should come out without delay.
I fear my answer to Smith's letter in reply to his questions
growing out of the Rhode Island affair, I may have miscarried,
as I, as well as yourself, have not heard from him, though I
requested him to let me hear from him, as soon as he received
my answer. I wrote to him by the last mail, to ascertain
whether he had got it, or not, and informed him, that if he
had not, I would forthwith transmit him a copy. I would be
glad 3*ou could see my answer and that of the others. I am
strongly inclined to think, that at some stage of the contest,
the Answers ought to be published. The principles involved
are vital, and it is right, that the sentiments of the candidates
should be known. I have no fear, that I would be injured.
As far asI am informed everything is going on well South of
[P. S] I am glad to hear that Gilmer is right. It is important that Wise should go with us. His letter to your dinner
was kind. I read the proceedings at the dinner with interest.
What is Rives doing?
- Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1899, Calhoun Correspondence.