JACKSON, Andrew. Autograph letter signed ("Andrew Jackson") and initialed, to J. George Harris, editor of the Nashville Union, the Hermitage, [Nashville, Tennessee], 14 December 1842. 3¼ pages, 4to (9 5/8 x 7¾ in.), professionally mended along some folds and at margins..
JACKSON SCOFFS AT THE "HARD CIDER, BIG BALLS & LOG CABINS" OF THE 1840 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN AND VOWS THAT "SUCH HUMBUGGERY WILL NEVER HEREAFTER DELUDE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE"
In the last years of his life, the aging former President offers a colorful, outspoken commentary on the fortunes of the Democratic Party and his estrangement from John C. Calhoun, and vents his ire on election humbuggery. In spite of his failing health and eyesight, Jackson followed events in Washington intently, and deplored the Whig victory of 1840 which carried William Henry Harrison into the White House: "To him it meant the possible scuttling of his economic reforms and the return of the money power bent on curbing the democratic thrust he had provided the nation" (R. Remini, Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy, 1833-1845, p. 463).
The Democrats' prospects brightened in 1842, and Jackson exults over the results of the fall elections: "[I] sincerely rejoice, with you and the whole Democracy of this Union, on the great triumph achieved in Massachusetts, as well as over the other states, in which elections have totally taken place. I have never despaired of our republican system [and] have allways [sic] relied on the virtue of the sovereign people to defend & protect the Constitution & glorious union." Expressing contempt for the gimcrackery of Harrison's 1840 campaign, Jackson optimistically predicts that the electorate will not be bamboozled by political propaganda again: "the people in 1840 were deluded by the humbugery of coons & coonskins, hard cider, big balls, & log cabins, but I always believed that as soon as...the people began to seriously reflect, their eyes would be opened from the delusion...the recoil would be such, as we see realised [sic] all over the Union--and I now predict, that such humbugery will never he[re]after delude the American people--[the] republican system will long endure."
A rift had opened between Jackson and his Vice-President John C. Calhoun during Jackson's first term over the issue of nullification, and later Jackson learned that Calhoun, while Secretary of War under James Monroe, had recommended Jackson be censured for his 1817 Florida expedition. So Jackson hastens to correct a statement in Harris's paper that he had reconciled with Calhoun: "There is not one word of truth in the statement. I have had no communication with Mr. Calhoun since I left the Executive chair." Stressing the finality of their estrangement, Jackson adds that "I never have and I assure you never will. I have nothing to concede." In spite of his enduring enmity towards Calhoun, Jackson would not begrudge him a role in the Democratic Party: "When Mr. Calhoun's name has been introduced as a candidate for the presidency, I have uniformly replied, that a national convention fresh from the people must decide upon the candidate. And whether that be Mr. Van Buren, Mr. Calhoun, or Mr. Buchanan which may be selected, the whole Democratic Party must unite upon him." Warning that the Whigs will try to divide the national vote with multiple candidates (John Bell and Hugh White), Jackson continues: "I have always conceded to Mr. Calhoun's talents...Should Mr. Calhoun be selected by the Democratic peoples convention to be holden, I as one of the Democrats would as far as I would interfere in the [elec]tion, [as] a citizen, support [the] candidate thus represented."
Finally, Jackson acknowledges that he has sent a statement of his political views: "My letter...is a concise view, of my real opinion of the Constitutional powers of the states & congress." In the margin the frail former President notes "I can scarcely write." "
Provenance: Paul C. Richards, 1983.