4 pages, 4to, center crease split." />
19 May 2006
VAN BUREN, Martin. Autograph letter signed ("M. V. Buren") to unidentified General [Lewis Cass?], n.p., n.d. [ca. 1850]. 4 pages, 4to, center crease split.
"WE HAVE BEEN ACTIVELY OPPOSED TO EACH OTHER IN THE LAST POLITICAL CONTEST AND WILL PROBABLY BE SO FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES"
Van Buren assures a political foe of his continued respect and good will. A fine, long letter that shows Van Buren's political dexterity as he both swears eternal political opposition to a man while at the same time cementing their friendship. "Will you allow me...to say a word upon the subject of our personal relations. We have been actively opposed to each other in the last political contest and from the condition of things will probably be so for the rest of our lives. I want you once and for all to understand that differences of that character between men whom I otherwise respect should not produce the slightest diminution in my esteem for them--tho knowing as I do the goodness of your heart and the purity of your motives, my friendship for you is still of the same character that is has been for years past--ardent and sincere."
Turning to local politics, Van Buren comments on the resurgence of Anti-Masonic sentiment in New York: "We have nothing new here. You have seen the contest for the mayoralty. Those who know best inform me that Townsend will be appointed on Monday. The Anti-Masons are very busy in getting up their convention and mean to put your society to the wall. I am this moment informed by a Mason that a committee of the Chapter now in session here was appointed to take into consideration the propriety of calling a special meeting, to decide on the question of dissolution. That the committee had reported favorably, but the report would probably be rejected. The plan of dissolution appears to have many advocates, and those who are for it seem inclined to persevere at all events. But of these things you know all and I nothing except street talk..."
The references to "the contest for the mayoralty" and "Townsend" help pinpoint this letter as written sometime in 1850, as Franklin Townsend (1821-1898) became the mayor of Albany that year. The General he is addressing is very likely Lewis Cass, the War of 1812 veteran who was the unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate in 1848. Van Buren--long the unofficial head of the Democratic Party--shocked his fellow party stalwarts by running in 1848 as a third-party candidate on the Free Soil line.
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