TAYLOR, Zachary. Autograph letter signed ("Z. Taylor") as Whig candidate for President, to John A. Watkins, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 17 July 1848. 3½ pages, 4to (9 7/8 x 7 7/8 in.), dampstain to lower quarter of first leaf, a few tiny holes repaired, in a double-sided frame.
TAYLOR DISCUSSES HIS NOMINATION AND PLANS TO "BRING THE GOVERNMENT BACK TO ITS ORIGINAL PURITY AS IN THE DAYS OF OUR FIRST PRESIDENTS"
A very long letter providing excellent insight into the mind of Zachary Taylor in the months leading up to the election in 1848. Taylor, courted by both the Whigs and Democrats, had finally acknowledged that his sympathies lay with the Whigs, and he was nominated over the traditional party leader, Henry Clay, defeated by Polk in 1844 (see lot 63). Here, a month after his nomination, Taylor offers his assessment of his Whig rival, Clay: "No one can entertain a higher opinion of Mr. Clay's great abilities, qualifications & claims on the country than I do...had there been anything like a certainty that he could have been elected, he would no doubt have been the nominee...I had no wish to have been in his way...for I can again truly say I have no aspirations for said office."
He is humbled at being chosen: "That a convention representing nearly every State in the Union, numbering among its numbers so many sages & Fathers of the land...should have nominated me, an humble individual personally unknown to most of them, as a suitable person to rule over them & the country, without exacting promises or pledges of any kind, is an honor I did not expect, & fear I did not merit; for by doing so they manifested at least a confidence in my honesty, truthfulness, integrity & patriotism which has never been surpassed & rarely equaled in this or any other country, since the days of the immortal Washington, for which I do not possess language to express my sense of obligation but will do all in [my] power to deserve & retain their good opinion, of which I am duly greatful & which can never be forgotten."
Finally, Taylor vows to do his best if elected: "I hope to discharge the important duties connected with my position in such a way as to merit the good opinion of all parties for at least the purity of my intentions, & my errors will be attributed to my head & not to the heart; & I should be so fortunate...to bring the government back to the principles which guided our first presidents."
Taylor went on to win the November election over his Democratic opponent Lewis Cass, but died after only a year and a half in office.
Provenance: Lindley and Charles Eberstadt (sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, 13 October 1964, lot 95).