ALS, three pages on two adjoining sheets, 7.75 x 9.5, December 14, 1842. Lengthy letter to J. George Harris, editor of the Nashville Union, written from Jackson's plantation, the "Hermitage." In part: “I…sincerely rejoice, with you and the whole Democracy of this Union, on the great triumph achieved in Massachusetts, as well as over the other states, in which elections have totally taken place. I have never despaired of our republican system, have allways relied on the virtue of the sovereign people to defend & protect the Constitution & glorious Union. It is true the people in 1840 were deluded by the humbugery of coons & coonskins, hard cider, big balls, & log cabins, but I allways believed that as soon as soon as this canvass was over, and the people began to seriously reflect, their eyes would be opened from the delusion…& the recoil wo[uld] be such, as we see realised all over the Union—and I now predict, that such humbugery will never he[re]after deludge the American people—[the] republican system will long endure…
You see it stated in all the papers…that a final reconciliation…has taken place between Mr. Calhoun & myself. There is not one word of truth in the statement. I have had no communication with Mr. Calhoun since I left the Executive chair, & I make [no] concessions to Mr. Calhoun. I never have and I assure you never will. I have nothing to concede…
When Mr. Calhoun's name has been introduced as a candidate for the presidency, I have uniformly replied, that a national convention fresh from the people must decide upon the candidate. And whether that be Mr. Van Buren, Mr. Calhoun, or Mr. Buchannon which may be selected, the whole Democratic Party must unite upon him—that the objects of the Whiggs will be, to endeavour to divide…by getting more than one candidate into the field, like Bell, with Judge White, to divide and conquer. I have allways conceded to Mr. Calhoun’s talents…Should Mr. Calhoun be selected by the Democratic peoples convention to be holden, I as one of the Democrats would as far as I would interfere in the [elec]tion, [as] a citizen, support [the] candidate thus represented.” In the left margin of the final page, the frail former president writes, “P.S. I am scarcely able to write.”
He also adds a postscript on the integral address leaf, initialed “A. J.,” in part: “My letter to Mr. Dawson is a concise view, of my real opinion of the Constitutional powers of the states & congress.” In very good to fine condition, with professional repairs to splits along folds and a few repaired areas of paper loss. Provenance: The Forbes Collection of American Historical Documents, Christie's, 2002.
Although Jackson suffered from ill health and poor eyesight in his retirement to The Hermitage, he followed events in Washington intently and remained influential in both national and state politics. William Henry Harrison had been carried to the presidency in 1840 on the back of his famous ‘log cabin’ campaign, which Jackson mocks in this letter; interestingly, one of Harrison’s campaign strategies not mentioned—positioning himself as the War of 1812 hero at Tippecanoe—was inspired by Jackson’s own successful campaigns. Jackson saw the Whig agenda as threatening to his legacy of Democratic policy, and so was pleased when his Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives in the 1842 midterm elections.
Meanwhile, the party’s plans to oppose the Whigs in the 1844 presidential election were shaping up, and Jackson’s former vice president, John C. Calhoun, was a leading candidate for the nomination. A rift had opened up between President Jackson and Vice President Calhoun during Jackson’s first term over both the Nullification Crisis and the Petticoat Affair, eventually leading to Calhoun’s resignation and their bitter estrangement. Calhoun’s credibility was strengthened prior to the 1844 convention when Jackson, well-known as his nemesis, endorsed his position on the immediate annexation of Texas. At the same time, Jackson urged the Democrats to block Martin Van Buren from the ticket due to his opposition on the Texas issue. Overall, this letter offers fantastic insight into the politics of the day and represents Jackson’s continued influence on the national stage. Pre-certified PSA/DNA.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.