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MY DEAR DAUGHTER, If a long interval lies between the date of this and your last, you must attribute it to the fact, that my heavy correspondence, publick and private, and official duties, compel me to lengthen the period between my answers and the letters to which they reply, to a much greater extent than I desire in writing to you and the rest of the family. I correspond with all of them which of itself occupies a good deal of my time.
The opinions you express in reference to the state of things in Europe are very sensible and just. There is no prospect of a successful termination of the efforts of France to establish a free popular Government; nor was there any from the begining. She has no elements out of which such a government could be formed; and if she had, still she must fail from her total misconception of the principles, on which such a government, to succeed, must be constructed. Indeed, her conception of liberty is false throughout. Her standard of liberty is ideal; belongs to that kind of liberty which man has been supposed to possess, in what has been falsely called a state of nature, a state supposed to have preceded the social and political, and in which, of course, if it ever existed, he must have live[d] a part, as an isolated individual, without Society, or Government. In such a state, if it were possible for him to exist in it, he would have, indeed, had two of the elements of the French political creed; liberty and equality, but no fraternity. That can only exist in the social and political; and the attempt to unite the other two, as they would exist, in the supposed state of nature, in man, as he must exist in the former, must and ever will fail. The union is impossible, and the attempt to unite them absurd; and must lead, if persisted in, to distraction, anarchy and finally absolute power, in the hand of one man.
It is this false conception that is upheaving Europe, and which, if not corrected, will upset all her efforts to reform her social and political condition. It is at the same time threatening our institutions. Abolitionism originates in it, which every day becomes more formidable, and if not speedily arrested, must terminate in the dissolution of our Union, or in universal confusion, and overthrow of our system of Government. But enough of these general speculations.
We are in the midst of the presidential canvass. It will be one of great confusion. Neither party is satisfied, or united on its nominee; and there will probably be a third candidate, nominated by what are called the Barnburners, or Van Burenites. The prospect, I think, is, that Taylor will succeed, tho' it is not certain. The enclosed will give you all the home news.
It is still uncertain, when Congress will adjourn; but, I think it probable it will about the 1st August.
My health continues good. I am happy to hear you are all well, and that the children [are] growing and doing so well. Kiss them for their Grandfather, and tell them how happy he is to learn, that they are such good children. Give my love to Mr. Clemson.
- John C. Calhoun
- Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1899, Calhoun Correspondence.