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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE

To Preston King, New York .

JULY 15, [1847.]

  Wrote him Ogdensburgh, N. Y. I have no reason to suppose that you know anything more of me than what my argt. for Vanzandt last winter made you acquainted with, & perhaps I am unwise in writing you this letter. Still as I think it may be the means of some good to our country & the character I have heard of you induces me to believe that you will treat my communication as made in strict confidence I will proceed with what I have to say, only observ'g that I shall be glad to hear from you in reply & that you may depend on my making no other use of yr. letter than that wh. you expressly authorize.
You are not ignorant that many of the Anti slavery men who have heretofore acted with the Lib. Party are prepared to support Mr. Wright of yr. State for the Pres. upon Wilmot Pro. gr., understand by that term not merely the exclusion of Slav. from future territorial acquisition, but also a return to the line of policy marked out for the Nat. Govt. by the Orde. of '87, by putting the example & influence of the Govt. on the side of Liby. instead of the side of Slavy. I am persuaded that very many Whigs of the west shall have these sentiments & that sh'd. the Whig Party commit itself to the support of any Slaveholder - even of Gen. Taylor, Mr. Wright may be elected to the Pres. by the votes of the Free States alone.
If there is any proby. that Mr. W - may be the candi- date of the Wilmot Prov. Democy. for the Presy. it is now very important to ascertain his views. The Lib. Party will hold its nominating Convention in October, and if no candidate of the other parties can be relied on for a firm though temperate & strictly constitutional opposition to Slavy., they will doubtless nominate their own candidates & adhere to them with unanimity: whereas sh'd. Mr. Wright be likely to be a candidate upon the grounds I have indicated, a vast number of them w'd. feel it to be their duty to give him their cordial support.
For myself I sympathize strongly with the Dem. Party in almost everything except its submission to slaveholding leadership & dictation. I cannot abide the crack of the whip, but if the Demo. Party takes independent ground, & follows boldly the lead of its own principles, then I am willing to give to its nominations my humble support.
I was shewn yesterday a letter written by a gentleman, represented to bean active politician of your State & claiming to be possessed of the views of " the Great Man of New York," meaning Mr. Wright. This writer informs his correspondent Mr. Taylor, the Editor of the Signal, that Mr. W. is prepared to render important aid to the election of Gen. T. & suggests the connection of Mr. W's name as can. for the V. Py. with that of the Gen. as can. for the Py. I can hardly imagine that there is any ground for this representation. If Mr. W. be willing to accept such a position, he is not, of course, the man to be the leader of the Democracy of the Country in the impending struggle with the Slavehg. Arisy. & its supporters North & South. Surely such a leadership is a far more honorable position than a nomination for the V. Presidency upon any ticket whatever. I have misconceived the character of Mr. Wright if he does not so regard it. And it does seem to me that if the N. Democy. will but maintain the ground, which you & others marked out first last winter, its success will not be less signal than its position will be glorious.
As to Gen. T. I have reason to know him to be as honest as he is brave; but lie is certainly not a democrat in our understanding of the word or in any proper understanding of it: and it seems to me that it w'd. be nothing short of suicidal vanity, to indulge the expectation that a man in his circumstances & with his connexions can ever be relied on as a friend of the Wilmot Proviso or any measure at all antislavery in its character. I shall feel much obliged by the favor of an early reply & remain

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Annual Report of the American Historical Association; Volume II; Washington, Government Printing Office; 1903

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