Monday, November 5, 2018

Robert Toombs to James Thomas, April 16, 1848

Washington, D. C. Apr. 16, 1848.

Dear Thomas, I received your letter of the 9th inst. today and I am very glad to hear you are improving. You did not state to what point in Kentucky you expected to direct your steps. I have an extensive acquaintance with the public men of Kentucky and could give or furnish you letters to almost any point, and if you know where you will probably remain longest and will write me I will procure such letters as would no doubt greatly increase the comfort and pleasure of your trip. I could send them to any point you might designate, if you are about leaving. Mr. Crittenden, my particular friend and messmate, will leave here for Kentucky about the first of June on a gubernatorial canvass in Kentucky. I will commend you to him especially, and I hope you may fall in with him somewhere in the state, if not at Frankfort, his residence. I will send by this mail or the next some letters for Louisville where I suppose you will most likely land in Kentucky. I hope you will find it convenient to call by Washington. There is much to see here to interest an intelligent stranger; men, if not things.

Clay has behaved very badly this winter. His ambition is as fierce as at any time of his life, and he is determined to rule or ruin the party. He has only power enough to ruin it. Rule it he never can again. In February while at Washington he ascertained that the Kentucky convention would nominate Taylor. He procured letters to [McMillen ?] that he would decline when he went home, and the Taylor men from Kentucky under this assurance wrote home to their friends not to push him off the track by nominating Taylor. Mr. Clay never intended to comply, but without now having the boldness to deny it he meanly hints at having changed his determination. Bah! He now can deceive nobody here. The truth is he has sold himself body and soul to the Northern Anti-slavery Whigs, and as little as they now think it, his friends in Georgia will find themselves embarrassed before the campaign is half over. I find myself a good deal denounced in my district for avowing my determination not to vote for him. It gives me not the least concern. I shall never be traitor enough to the true interests of my constituents to gratify them in this respect. I would rather offend than betray them. Mr. Botts of the House and Mr. Berrien of the Senate and Mr. Buckner of Kentucky are the only three men from the slave states who prefer Mr. Clay for our candidate, and there are not ten Southern representatives who would not support Genl. Taylor against him if he were nominated. The real truth is Clay was put up and pushed by Corwin and McLean, Greeley & Co. to break down Taylor in the South. Having made that use of him they will toss him overboard at the convention without decent burial. It is more than probable that a third candidate may be brought forward, and Scott stands a good chance to be the man. For my part I am a Taylor man without a second choice.

SOURCE: Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Editor, The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1911, Volume 2: The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and Howell Cobb, p. 103-4

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