Monday, August 29, 2016

Salmon P. Chase to John Thomas* of Cortlandville, New York, June 24, 1847

June 24, [1847.]

I am much obliged to you for yr. kind letter of the 11th ult. wh. I recd. yesty. It always gratifies me to hear of the condition & prospects of the great cause which engages us both & to be informed of the views & feelings of A. S. men in all parts of the Country: I wish there was more of communion between our friends. I am satisfied that it wd. greatly allay jealousy, & insure, instead, confidence & the activity wh. springs from confidence. I can echo from the heart all you say of the merits of our excellent friend Gerrit Smith. I honor him & love him as a true friend not merely of human right but of humanity. Shd. it become necessary for the Lib. Party to nome. candidates for the P. & V. P. in '48 & shd. he receive that nomination, he shall have my cordial & earnest support. I have not sufficy. compared the reasons wh. may be urged for his nomination, wh. may be urged for the nominn. of some other equally reliable A. S. man to be able to make up my mind, whether I shd., if a memb. of a noming. convn. give my voice for him in pref. to evy other. Indeed, at this time, when we can see so little of the circums. wh. must detere, this choice, it seems to me the pn. of prudence, to note facts & traits of char. & reserve a final decision until the moment shall call for it.

It seems to me yet doubtful whether the Lib. P'y will have any occasion to nominate candidates for the Nat1. Elect. of '48: I have not a doubt that Gen. Taylor will be the Whig nominee, though he says in a letter shewn me to day & of wh. I will send you a copy to morrow that he will not accept a party nomn. If he be the candidate of the Whigs or a no party candidate, supported by the entire body of S. Whigs & the majority of N. Whigs, the N. democracy will be obliged to throw itself upon A. S. ground.

Even Gen. Taylor, cotton planter & sugar planter as he is —  slave-holder as he is — feels, as you will see, by the letter referred to, the necessity of taking if not a favorable position, at least a neutral one, in reference to the Wilmot proviso. What ground then may not the democracy be reasonably expected to take? Will they not be compelled to take, substantially, the ground of the Lib. P.? If they take it, will they not constitute in part the Lib. P.—? I am not prepared to assume the prophectic charr. & predict the events & developments of the coming winter, but I think the signs of the times are such, that we ought to wait & observe at least until Spring: and then take that course which a wise & consistent regard to the grand paramount object of the Lib. organn., viz. the overthrow of the Slave Power & the extinction of slavery in our country shall lead us to. The first political aspiration of my heart is that my country & all my countrymen may be free. This is my paramount political purpose & object. To attain this end I am content to labor & if need be to suffer. I have always regarded the Lib. organization as a means to this end I now regard it as nothing more. I feel ready therefore to give up the Lib. Organn. at any time when I see that the great object can be accomplished without the sacrifice of principle in less time by another agency. I must indeed be well assured that such other agency will be more efficient & act upon honest principles, but once assured of this I shd. regard the question of duty as solved.

I acknowledge myself much gratified by the kind consideration of yrself & others. I do not think it at all probable that a contingency will arise in which the interest of the cause of Freedom will be promoted by presenting my name for the high office you refer to.

I am comparatively young, & unknown & my services to the cause have been slight in comparison with many others. For these & other reasons I do not wish to have my name spoken of for the V. P. We have worthy men enough in the West, if it be desired to have a western man. Judge King or Mr. Lewis of this State or Judge Stevens of Indiana not to mention others wd. fill the station with honor & credit. If however it shall become necessary for the Lib. Men to nominate Candidate as a distinct party, & — what seems to me very improbable — the contingency shall arise that the friends of freedom deem it wisest & best to have my name upon the ticket, I shd. hardly feel at liberty to withhold it. I shd. however, even then, consult my own sense of duty & be guided I trust by its admonitions.

I shall be very happy to hear further from you & to have the benefit of yr. suggestions as to the views I have presented as to the possible inability & inexpediency of separate Lib. nominations. I see the Macedon Lock Convention has nominated Mr. Smith & Mr. Burritt.1 I send you the Daily Herald of to day the leading article of wh— expresses my views of the conn. and its nomination. I regard this Convention & the attempts which are made to make eccl. connexion a political test in the Lib. Party, as indications that the necessities of the times will require a diff. instrumentality from that of the Lib. P. for the overthrow of slay.

I send you a copy of my argt. for Vanzandt — He is dead & the spoiler defeated &c.

Present to Mr. Smith when you see him the assurances of my most cordial respect & affection & believe me

* From letter-book 6, pp. 94-95.

1 See T. C. Smith, History of the Liberty and Free Soil Parties in the North West, 101, for this action of the “Liberty League.”

SOURCE: Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1902, Vol. 2, p. 118-20

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