JACKSON, Andrew. Autograph letter signed ("Andrew Jackson") as President, to Joseph Conn Guild (1802-1883), Washington, D.C., 24 April 1835. 8 pages, 4to (10 x 7 15/16 in.), leaves separated, browning, professionally restored along horizontal folds with some loss of text, postscript lacking last few lines..
"THOSE WHO ARE NOT FOR US ARE AGAINST US": JACKSON DECLARES THAT ONLY BY "THE PRINCIPLES OF MR. JEFFERSON" CAN "THE ORIGINAL RIGHTS OF THE STATES, & THE PEOPLE...BE MAINTAINED AS CONTEMPLATED BY THE CONSTITUTION"
An extraordinary Jackson letter--certainly one of the most important offered for sale in decades--constituting one of Jackson's clearest and most forthright defenses of Jacksonian democracy, forcefully proclaiming his political credo, reverently invoking the principles of Thomas Jefferson, and vehemently denouncing his political enemies. Jackson was elevated to the Presidency on the strength of his military fame and the electorate's perception that he embodied the Democratic spirit of the frontier. His vigorous opposition to the states' rights theory of nullification, to federally funded internal improvements, and his veto of the re-charter of the second Bank of the United States were in accord with his personal vision of a "Jeffersonian Republic," but aroused strong political opposition which coalesced into the Whig Party. A month after this letter, the Democratic Party nominated Jackson's heir-designate, Martin Van Buren, for the Presidency in the 1836 elections.
Here, writing to an old friend and Methodist minister, Jackson responds to Guild's speculation on the Democrats probable choice for their next presidential nominee, and boldy proclaims that "No chief magistrate in this country can become a dictator. No one can carry on this government without support and the head of it must rely for support on the people forming the party by whose suffrages he is elected or he must betray the expectations of those who invest him with power, to obtain support from his adversaries." Jackson scathingly condemns the Whig Party and the dangers it represented, focusing on the Tennesssee Whig High Lawson White (1773-1840): "the opponents of popular rights have been invited by the meetings nominating him [Hugh White] to unite in his support to 'destroy the landmarks of party.' This suits precisely the views of the ever vigilant enemies of the course of republicanism...whoever is elected by them, must come in upon terms and be, [not] the president of the people, but of the politician[s]." He lays down a political principle: "It is as true in politics as morals, that those who are not for us are against us. It is impossible to serve two masters. All, then, who lend themselves to promote the designs of the opposition, especially those who aid in dividing the republican ranks, must be considered as apostates from principle. In abetting the enemy to break down those republican landmarks set up by Jefferson, sustained by Madison and contended for [by myself], I might say almost thro blood, certainly under repeated assaults upon my person, continued threats against my life, and what is worse the constant traduction of my character." Invoking the principles of his political mentors, Jackson endorses the cause of his party: "I have long believed, that it was only by preserving the identity of the republican party, as embodied and characterised by the principles of Mr. Jefferson that the original rights of the states, & the people, could be maintained as contemplated by the constitution."
Then, expressing a desire to "reconstruct this great party, and bring the popular power to bear," Jackson condemns those "daring and unprincipled leaders north, and south, who have conspired against the union and sought even the alliance of the foreign enemies of our constitution in their eagerness to subvert them." Alluding to his own war against the Bank and its supporters, Jackson argues that these men "who have attempted to build up a collossus [sic] monied power to corrupt, & overshadow the government," now endeavor to "overthrow...all the labours of my administration" and accomplish "the final subversion of Republican principles." Jackson maintains that White and his backers will ultimately fail as the people are "too virtuous and intelligent to be hoodwinked by politicians." He blames the ascendancy of his political opposition and the development of sectional factions upon former Speaker of the House John Bell (1797-1869), leader of the Tennessee Whigs, who, Jackson contends, was "building up a southern party in conjunction with Mr. [John] Calhoun, founded exclusively on sectional feelings & prejudices, and not principle."
Jackson staunchly defends the legitimacy of his own presidency: "the people have allways [sic] sustained me both against the majority of the officeholders, and the politicians." Many politicians, he charges, seek only "a life estate in office" and "high salaries." They cynically espouse "those principles calcul[a]ted to make it lucrative" and "would make government...independent altogether of the people." But Jackson's faith in the electorate remains unshaken: "I have no fear of the result. Mr. Jefferson in his most popular day would have lost the confidence of the people, if he had placed himself under the odious imputation of abandoning principle and the republican fold for the sake of office. I would abandon my only and adopted son if he would permit himself to be placed in this attitude, and from the sentiments of my own bosom, I feel assured, that no personal or local consideration will ever vanquish the patriotic attachment felt by the great mass of the people for the cause of the republican party, which is indeed the cause of the country."
Ultimately, the Whigs Jackson here excoriates failed to win the presidency in 1836, but Jackson's successor, Martin Van Buren, was unable to duplicate Jackson's success in winning a second term in the White House.