PIERCE, Franklin (1804-1869). President. Autograph letter signed (''Fr. Pierce'') as Senator, to H.H. Carroll, Washington, D.C., 23[-24] July 1841. 4 pages, 4to (7 3/8 x 8 15/16 in.), in fine condition.
PIERCE, Franklin (1804-1869). President. Autograph letter signed ("Fr. Pierce") as Senator, to H.H. Carroll, Washington, D.C., 23[-24] July 1841. 4 pages, 4to (7 3/8 x 8 15/16 in.), in fine condition.
THE CLASH OF HENRY CLAY AND PRESIDENT TYLER: "THE QUARREL...HAS...NOT BEEN THE RESULT OF PRINCIPLE ON EITHER SIDE"
An animated letter in which an unusually impassioned Pierce comments scathingly on the political controversy surrounding bank legislation and the bitter standoff between Henry Clay and the President. Tyler had secured the Vice Presidency by his profession of sound Whig ideology, but when he became President a month after Harrison's untimely death, he proved more Jacksonian by nature. He became an unexpected obstacle to the party's political agenda, and immediately clashed with Henry Clay, who "had never fully accepted the fact that his bid for the Presidency had been unsuccessful" and "now regarded himself as the unrivaled party leader" (Watson, Liberty & Power, p. 228). When Clay introduced legislation to recharter the Bank of the United States, Tyler vetoed the bill twice, alienating his Whig supporters and sparking the resignation of most of his cabinet.
Pierce, a Democrat, contemptuously describes this chaotic state of affairs: "deeper darkness cannot anywhere have been spread than here. There have been from day to day innumerable rumours in relation to the state of affairs between Clay's White Charley's and the Ladle men arrayed under the banner of the President. The quarrel thus far has in my judgement not been the result of principle on either side. It had its origin entirely in the position and aspirations of two men --Tyler and Clay. They have been glaring on each other for six weeks and ever & anon casting a wistful glance at the ranks of Democracy to see what may [be] expected [of] them." But, Pierce reports, the Democrats have stood firm: "they have both seen, that no principles were to be compromitted by us for any temporary triumph. They have looked upon a phalanx as firm and united as that barrier of bristling State, which girted the frontier of France in the days of Revolution."
Clay's plan for a "Bank and Fiscal Agent" differed from a proposal of Tyler for a bank based upon previous models. Pierce sarcastically characterizes their debate: "Will they agree upon something to be called a Fiscal Bank?...Caesar, Anthony & Lepidus agreed so will Clay and Tyler, for the present--for common purposes--for the purpose of plundering the mass of the property the passage of laws ostensibly brought forward for their relief." Pierce is critical of another Whig measure: "The bankrupt bill...will prove a terrible law--mischievous beyond all human calculation--a law to authorize swindlers, speculators, gamblers, Villains of all sorts & discriptions to sponge out at a single dash their present liabilities and to go forth again untrammelled to live by their wits & plunder the honest and labouring classes. If successful in their schemes of fraud they will need no bankrupt law, but if luck makes against them they have only to resort to the sponging process and start fresh again to perpitrate new villany and find for it special sanction & protection under the law of the land. If any power shall interfere to arrest these fearful destructive acts I shall regard it as providential."