BUCHANAN, James (1791-1868), President. Autograph letter signed ("James Buchanan") as Senator, to Churchill C. Cambreleng (1786-1862), U. S. Minister to Russia, Washington, D.C., 28 June 1840. 4 full pages, 4to (9 7/8 x 8 in.), minor stain affects three letters of signature, otherwise very fine.
BUCHANAN DISPARAGES THE WHIGS IN THE ELECTION OF 1840: "THEIR HARD CIDER WILL...BE CONVERTED INTO SOUR VINEGAR"
A fine political letter in which Buchanan reflects upon the heated political climate in the important election year of 1840. Writing to the newly appointed Minister to Russia, Buchanan exclaims comments on the hoopla of the campaign: "You have never witnessed so high a degree of excitement in any previous contest as prevails at present throughout every portion of the Union. The Whig leaders in Congress Harrison's supporters] are perfectly confident of success; and are stumping it in all directions over the Country. Indeed who shall constitute the cabinet of General Harrison has already become a subject of discussion among them." But in his home state of Pennsylvania, Buchanan confidently predicts a debacle for the Whigs: "in my opinion, they are again destined to disappointment. I never felt greater confidence in the result of any contested election in the Keystone State than I do at present; although the Whigs claim the victory even there...we shall give Mr. Van Buren an old fashioned Democratic majority in Pennsylvania." He expects that the Democrats will win Virginia, Ohio or New York to make Van Buren's "re-election certain." Alluding to Harrison's carefully crafted campaign image as a log-cabin-dwelling frontiersman fond of hard cider, he quips that "Their Log Cabin & hard cider humbug is every where beginning to react against its authors with great power. Never has there been such an insult offered to the understanding & intelligence of the American people; and we are not idle in impressing this truth upon the public mind. Their hard cider will, I think, be converted into sour vinegar before the end of the Dog Days." If he is mistaken, Buchanan adds, Cambreleng's mission will be short "as the Whigs from their long fasting have become ravenous for office."
Buchanan reports the imminent adoption of the controversial Independent Treasury Bill: "The everlasting debate...is approaching its finale!," and "the Bill will most certainly become a law on or before the 4th [of] July." Buchanan who had served as in Moscow under Jackson, offers Cambreleng detailed advice on Russia: "You have never yet witnessed the calm of powerful Despotism in such perfection as it exists in Russia...The Emperor himself is probably the only man in his Dominions who will, at the first, talk to you with freedom, and yet he is controlled by the system. They hate, with all their hearts, what they call propagandism, and, therefore, I would advise you to avoid studiously the expression of any opinion against the form or practise of their Government."
Buchanan's confident assessment of a Whig debacle proved quite inaccurate and Harrison, the "hard cider and log cabin" candidate proved irresistable, carrying 19 states including Buchanan's Pennsylvania.
Provenance: Nathaniel E. Stein (sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet, 30 January 1979, lot 26).