3 pages, 4to." />
22 May 2007
VAN BUREN, Martin. Autograph letter signed ("M. Van Buren"), as President, to Benjamin F. Butler (1795-1858), 7 July 1838. 3 pages, 4to.
"THE DOMINION OF THE BANK, IT SEEMS, IS NOT YET OBSOLETE"
A fine Presidential ALS from Van Buren, discussing the after-shocks of Andrew Jackson's war with the Bank of the United States. "The bill to suppress the old notes of the Bank of the U. States," he tells Butler, who was his and Jackson's Attorney General, "passed about 11 o'clock last night after a most stormy debate, by a majority of about eight. The dominion of the Bank is not yet, it seems, obsolete..." Jackson, outraged at the undemocratic power of the Bank and its haughty director, Nicholas Biddle, refused to renew its charter and let it expire in 1836. This, coupled with Jackson's determination to privilege gold and silver transactions over paper money exchanges (a policy expressed in his Specie Circular), helped contract the nation's currency and bring on a severe economic depression. Van Buren was left to deal with the mess, while still trying to preserve the General's hard money policies. It was a tightrope that even the Little Magician could not pull off, and a nation of angry businessmen and unemployed or ruined workers and farmers turned him out of office in 1840.
The letter also contains some humorous reflections on appointments, including Butler's successor as Attorney General, Felix Grundy (as Butler prepared to return to private practice in New York City): "You cannot be more anxious to gratify Mr. Bleecker than I am myself but a burnt child dreads the fire. I have heretofore suffered so much from raising expectations before certainly knowing that I can gratify them as to prevent me from doing so in future. If the place was vacant I would give it to him without a moment's hesitation. But the incumbent is not likely to die...Mr. Grundy's nomination has been confirmed to take effect on the first of September..." In a postscript he jests that "Mr. Grundy is the happiest man you have seen for a long time."
Contact Client Service
New York +1 212 636 2000
London +44 (0)20 7839 9060
Asia +852 2760 1766
The Plantin Polyglot bible — offered on 11 July — makes an emotional homecoming to the Antwerp printing press where it was produced some 450 years ago
Marianne Ihlen inspired some of the Canadian poet and musician’s greatest work. A selection of his gifts to her are offered in Valuable Books & Manuscripts on 11 July
From Connecticut to Kent in southeast England, homes with links to such classic works as Desire under the Elms, Lord of the Flies and The Deep Blue Sea
The Belgian collector, antiques dealer and designer outlines what the art and objects in his library mean to him