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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE
To Ahaz Merchant,
JAN. 23'd [1849.]
Wrote him Cleveland
DEAR Sir - I received this morning your favor of the 18th inst. & I beg leave to disclaim at once all pretention to the position, which your courtesy assigns to me, of "head of the Free Soil Party of Ohio". I am but one, of a numerous host, animated by a common desire to divorce our National & State governments from all support of Slavery, and thus ensure the speedy deliverance of our country by Constitutional means, from its greatest curse; and to apply the principle of equal rights, on which our action against slavery is based, to other permanent questions of public policy. This body of citizens constitutes the Free Democracy or Free Soil Party, in which and with which I am content to labor, in any position which may be assigned to
me, but without aspiring to lead so long as the great purpose of its organization require my service. You enquire as to my views, 1. in relation to a National Tariff 2'd. in relation to Banking; 3'd. in relation to Lake & River Improvements by the General Government. - I am not averse as those acquainted with me well know, to a frank expression of my opinions, as an individual, to any who may think fit to ask for them: - But, I confess I should feel some hesitation in answering your questions, put to me as they appear to be under an unfounded impression, that I sustain Soule peculiar relation to the Free Soil Party of the State, if I did not find answers ready to my hand in the resolutions of our National & State Conventions which set forth views, which, I as a Free Soiler, adopt & defend without reserve. I answer your first question, therefore, by a reference to the fourteenth resolution of the Buffalo Convention: — your second, by a reference to the fourth, fifth & eleventh resolutions of our own Free Democratic Convention, recently held at Columbus; and your third by a reference to the twelfth resolution of the Buffalo Convention. As you may not have at hand the Resolutions of these Conventions, which constitute the State & National Platforms of the Free Democracy of Ohio, I enclose a copy. I also enclose a copy of a Resolution adopted by the Free Territory Convention of Ohio on the 21'st of June 1848 on the subject of River & Harbor Improvements, which though offered by our friend Mr Briggs, was drafted by me and expresses my views.
With great respect,
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