ADAMS, John Quincy. Autograph letter signed ("J.Q. Adams") as Congressman, to Morton Eddy, Washington, 1 May 1836. 4 full pages, 4to (10 1/16 x 8 1/8 in.), silked, small holes affecting a few letters of text., framed, unexamined out of frame.
ADAMS LAMBASTES SENATOR DANIEL WEBSTER: "HIS CONSTITUTIONAL DOCTRINES ARE RADICALLY UNSOUND"
Adams states his unequivocal opinion of Senator Daniel Webster, not long after Webster had voiced strong criticism of the House of Representatives for failing to pass a fortifications bill. Adams, who had come in conflict with Webster on many issues, had replied forecfully to Webster's remarks. Many members of the House applauded Adams's effort and approvingly bestowed upon him the nickname "Old Man Eloquent" (Bemis, John Quincy Adams and the Union, pp. 322-324).
Here, Adams tells Eddy that he hopes to publish an additional response to Webster in a local newspaper "in justification of my own political conduct," against "the violent Speeches by which I was personally assailed, both there and in the Senate on account of the resolution offered by me...and the speech by which I supported it."
These attacks, he charges, were politically motivated: "Instead of arguments against the Resolution, the outcries of three candidates for the succession to the Presidency thought it more expedient to open all their batteries upon the mover, and six or seven speeches of bitter denounciation and invective upon me, followed each other in quick succession in both Houses of Congress, were published in the Whig newspapers, then...in pamphlets of which...thousands if not ten of thousands have been circulated in Massachusetts...under the frank of Mr. Webster...among my constituents. These...personal attacks upon me, were not only in direct violation of the rules of the Houses in which they were delivered, but most unjustifiably wasted the time of the Houses themselves in frantic invectives upon &Ime&i."
The reason for "large and immediate appropriations for the defence of the Country," he asserts, has passed, even though "the zeal of Mr. Webster in their favour has kindled into a flame. The dispute with France is settled...All the pretences of unconstitutionality upon which the three million appropriation was resisted with so much pompous indignation, have been tacitly, but totally abandoned. Appropriations by the half million and the million without previous public reccomendation by the President...and upon mere imitation from the War Department that the money is wanted have been voted time after time, without call for yeas and nays...in that same Senate where it was said such appropriation should be rejected were there an enemy battering down the Walls of the Capitol."
"The mistake of the Whig opposition in the Senate, was in merging the dispute between the United States and France into a scuffle between themselves and the President for power." He has supported every administration "especially and most zealously when the right&i of the main question was on our side, and the &Iwrong on the side of the foreigner.....What the Country wanted was the united energy of the whole Government, to secure the rights of the Nation. The Senate sunk the Country's cause into a pettifogging disputation about the President's diplomacy." Then, he charges, politicians who coveted the Presidency seized upon the issue: "high hopes of succession to the Presidency were hinged upon this miserable sophistication of a national controversy...[and] an appropriation for the defence of the Country was metamorphozed into a claim of heroic exploit in saving the Liberties of the People from a Dictator. I took a different view of the subject, and so at my...instigation did the House of Representatives. The... appropriation was the very point in issue between the two systems of policy. It was defeated by the Senate, and with it they deliberately and wantonly lost the fortification Bill...."
"By the favour of Providence the Peace of the Country was preserved-- the necessity for the appropriation passed off; and the desperate struggle of Mr. Webster, to cast upon the House of Representatives the responsibiliy of its failure has already passed under the verdict of the People. The applauding Resolution of his renominators, will only sink them with him in the judgement of aftertimes. There are other points in the recent political career of Mr. Webster which I disaprove as unequivocally as I do his conduct upon the French question; but I have no desire to bring them before the Public. He has no longer a Senate at his heels; nor is there any prospect that he will ever exercise much influence over the public affairs of this country. There was a time when I should have considered this as inauspicious to the welfare of the Union. The recent exposition of his principles has convinced me that the loss of his services in the chief magistracy will be no disaster to the American People. His Constitutional Doctrines are radically unsound...."