Rhinebeck, July 31st, 1831.
dear Claiborne, — On my return yesterday from a fortnight's tour through the New England States, I had the pleasure to receive your favor. It was a great treat. You must either know my taste in familiar correspondence, or, from some parity of disposition, you have served up a series of dishes that suit my palate. I have but one objection to your letter, that is, to “burn it.” I will execute your injunction with regret. When you understand my method and care in filing letters received in an off-hand, friendly correspondence, you will be under no apprehension that even an accident will ever expose your sensibility or your criticisms to the curiosity or remarks of others. I have the same delicacy myself. There are flowers that bloom in the shade of personal confidence that the storms of vulgar life would convert into worthless weeds.
You fancy that the short respite I am now enjoying from the vexatious cares of my office will destroy my taste for active pursuits. Not so. In 1826 I determined to devote the vigor and strength of my life to honorable and useful ambition. Sweet as the repose and retirement of philosophy may be — and a charming picture you have drawn of it — I will not shrink from the labor and the struggle which that determination will cost. To raise the standard of independence, and boldly fling it in the face of any party; sink or swim, to stand by the best interests of our country; to bravo the shock of public opinion when required, shall be to me a pleasure. In pursuing such a course, how happy I shall be to find myself side by side with the virtuous, intelligent, and generous young men of our state. A phalanx of bold, independent, and honest men may be, for a long time, in the minority, but even then their influence upon public affairs will be felt and respected, and an intelligent and high-toned people will, sooner or later, appreciate their merits.
SOURCE: John F. H. Quitman, Life and Correspondence of John A. Quitman, Volume 1, p. 105-6