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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE
My DEAR SUMNER, I thank you
heartily for your prompt compliance with my request for information
of the doings of your Convention. I have read its proceedings with
great interest, and the Address with particular attention. The
proceedings are worthy of the Free Democracy of old
Massachusetts—earnest, poetical, principled—and tending, I hope, to
great results. Would to God that you could carry the State this
Fall. What a triumph it would be and what an impetus it would give
to our cause in every quarter? Can it not be done? Can you not, all
of you, buckle on your armor, and rousing the people by an eloquence
suited to the crisis, achieve a victory for Freedom, which will
prove that the world is not wholly given over to reaction, - that will
compensate, in some measure, for our defeats in Vermont and
Hungary? One great difficulty we labor
under is that our opponents can so palpably demonstrate our numerical weakness by pointing to the fact that we have, as yet, carried no State. This is a great discouragement to some who want to live somewhat by sight as well as by faith.
Of the Address I need only say that I think it altogether worthy of you. Not as I regard it as being so polished and perfect a composition as some which have emanated from your pen; but as replete with just sentiment, correct views and sound principles. It is, as you say, a Liberty Address, and urges the same topics which I have several times, in such papers, discussed. I cannot express how earnestly I desire thatyou may gather under the banner you unfurl a majority of the voters. For my own part, I mean to abide on the platform, which the Address presents, whether with few or many.
The union of the Hunkers and Barnburners of New York struck me unpleasantly as it did you. It seemed to me that our friends had gone too far, in their anxiety to secure united support of a single ticket. It seemed to me that if they had taken your Massachusetts ground, and contented themselves with proving their Democracy, not by pedigree but by works, and had appealed to the People to support them, independently of old party ties, they would have done better. When the Hunkers refused to adopt the platform, I would say, that the time for union had passed. Although, however, these views seem to me most reasonable, I do not at all distrust the sincere devotion to our principles and cause of our friends who thought and acted differently. They supposed that the entire body of the democracy, with insignificant exceptions, could be brought by the Union upon our platform, and made to take ground with us against the support of national candidates not openly and avowedly committed to our principles. If this expectation of theirs should be proved to have been warranted, by events, their movement will be sanctioned by its results. I hope it may be. Meanwhile it behooves all friends of Freedom to heed well what they are doing, and to take care that they do not become so entangled in party meshes, that they cannot withdraw themselves, in a powerful and united body, whenever (if ever) the Party shall prove false to Freedom.
For me, I think I may say, that you may depend on me. I have no senatorial or legislative experience and some qualities which will be sadly in my way; but I will be faithful to the Free Soil Cause, and, according to the measure of my discretion and ability, will labor to advance it. I shall not forget your admonition to remember what is expected of me; and though, I cannot hope, if there be such expectation as your words imply, to satisfy it, I do hope to be able (to) shew that I am not undeserving of the confidence of Freedom's Friends.
Poussin came to Phila. (en route for Washington) by the same train of cars which brought me. I had some conversation with him. He appeared a good deal excited by the doings and savings at Washington. He said that he did not know what were the grounds of offence taken by our Government—that if he had expressed himself incautiously or offensively he was quite willing to modify or retract, as propriety might require; and he seemed especially sensitive on the score that being himself an American, and ardently devoted to American Institutions, he should be thought capable of wilfully doing or saying anything injurious to the American People.
I see by this morning's papers (most of the above was written yesterday) that the Republic gives a full account of the matter. The expressions of Poussin were certainly indiscreet, but hardly justify, under all the circumstances, his abrupt dismissal. I suppose, however, it cannot be recalled. What influence will they have upon the reception of Rives? And how far has this course been adopted in view of the probable reception of Rives ?
I expect to leave Phila. for Washington tomorrow - Saturday morning - and to remain there until Wednesday evening. Write me if you have time. Tell me what John
Van Buren and Butler say to you. Glad that Palfrey withdraws withdrawal.
Affectionately and faithfully yours,
Can't help thinking though that you could fill his place and be elected if he did not.
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