Thursday, November 14, 2019

Thomas W. Gilmer* to Congressman Robert M. T. Hunter, March 11, 1840

Richmond, [va.], March 11th, 1840.

Dear Hunter: I have frequently during the winter desired to write to you and to receive a letter from you, as one watchman likes occasionally to hail and to hear from another in a dark night. I hope that nothing has occurred or will ever occur to interrupt for a moment that perfect and confidential familiarity which has so long subsisted between us. From all that I learn of you through the medium (a bad one, I confess) of the newspapers, I take it for granted that we are now as nearly together in politics as we were when I saw you last summer. Nothing that has happened here or at Washington, I presume, can have shaken your steadfastness or mine in the great principles to which we have both given evidence of our attachment. But let this be as it may, though you are (without design on your part) the speaker of the H[ouse] of R[epresentatives] and though I in like manner have been appointed with the executive of Virginia, you are still Bob Hunter and I am as I always was your humble servant. We can never forget the Friar Tuck scene of the Expunging winter here, nor should either of us desire its oblivion. I suppose the labors of your station have allowed you very little time for correspondence and though I shall not be more respectful than the governor of New Jersey was to you, I venture to drop you a line, to say that I hope we may occasionally interchange a thought and a word. Is there any hope that parties will ever come back to the good old lines of honest differences of opinion as to principles. For until parties do so, there is really little or no hope that the government (in any hands) will. Are we always to see the millions of freemen in our country, marshalled as the mere clansmen of ambitious aspirants for the presidency? Many, I know, indulge the hope that after November next, there will be some more definite and durable organization of political parties. I confess, however, that I see little prospect for it. The radical fault is with the press and that I fear is past remedy. I am, however, on the outposts and can see but little of the chess board. You are at the fountain head, and I have only to ask that when you have time and can communicate any intelligence which you think would do good, that you may drop me a line, not that I would have you write as a letter writer from Washington, but that you may speak as one friend should speak to another about matters of the highest public concern. We have been grasping our way onward; so far together. I shall sink the partisan of course in my new vocation here. Indeed I have been little of one for some years past. The grease has been scarcely worth the candle. If you don't find time sooner, writer to me in the dry days.

* Governor of Virginia, 1840-1841; a Whig Representative in Congress, 1841-1843; a Democratic Representative in Congress. 1843-1844; appointed Secretary of the Navy, Feb. 15, 1844, and served until his death on the Princeton, Feb. 28, 1844.

SOURCE: Charles Henry Ambler, Editor, Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1916 in Two Volumes, Volume II, Correspondence of Robert M. T. Hunter 1826-1876, p. 33-4

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