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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE

From Samuel J. Tilden .

NEW YORK, July 29, 1848.

MY DEAR SIR, Your letter came here in the absence of Mr. Van Buren, which still continues; and it has been handed to me by Mr. Byant with a request that I would answer it. I desire to do so with perfect candor & with as much accuracy as I can in regard to questions which depend upon the concurring action of numerous individuals composing a large party.
As to your enquiry whether the New York Democracy will be represented in the Buffalo convention, I can only say that so far as representation consists in the presence of persons who will be able to consult with the members of that body & inform them of the views of the democracy of this state, there will be no want of it. But representation of the formal and authoritative character which is usual in the delegated conventions of organized parties, will not be possible either from the nature of the convention itself or the circumstances in which the Democracy of this state are placed. The convention professes to be merely a mass convention; and does not aim at the indispensable characteristics of a delegated body - among which is a proportionate representation of ascertained constituencies, whose numbers and relations are already known, but it will be simply a voluntary assemblage of individuals whose relations to each other are to be for the first time established. Nor is there any power to act authoritatively for the Democracy of this state - as an organised party ruled the meeting of the Utica convention on the 13th of Sept.
But all this is not deemed to be of much consequence. The Buffalo convention must act with spontaneous unanimity or it will fail of its objects; and the spirit of the people and the circumstances of the occasion will be likely to. make it very independent of forms. If it acts with wisdom, the Utica convention will doubtless concur in its nominations for the Vice Presidency as to the Presidency, it will not under any circumstances be practicable to change the position of the Dem'cy. of this state. Their convictions on that subject would be irresistable whatever might be the desires of leading men. Nominated as Mr. Van Buren was against his wishes and because he was believed to be the strongest candidate with nearly all to whom they had any right to look for support, and acquiescing as be did on the ground that his old associates & their descendants (?) had a right to his name to strengthen them in maintaining their character and their cause amid the difficulties in which they were, it would not be decent towards him, now that more than they at first hoped is sure to be accomplished, to seek another representative. A still stronger consideration would be the bad faith of such a proceedure towards large numbers of men & influential presses which have been drawn into our support by Mr. V. B's name. Another would be the great impolicy of changing front on the eve of battle when the public mind has adapted itself & individuals have formed relations with reference to the candidate. And another would be the conviction that in this state at least his name is far the strongest that can be presented with reference to practicable accessions to the cause. Of course this may be assumed to be the fact among the democrats from whom our strength is mainly to come; while those whigs who are disposed to go with us - if I may judge from their expressions to me & others previous to the Utica convention of the 2nd of June - prefer him to any other democrat.
The demo'cy of this state are an organ'd party having more than 50 presses - many of which are the oldest and most influential in the state, and having an organization penetrating every county & town, and as they believe not less than 150 [sic] [000?] voters - it is hoped many more. They commenced the present canvas (?) without hope of much aid from other quarters, but with the determination to fight the battle alone, if necessary. They have, for the sake of their cause as well as their aim, adapted themselves to the strength on which they could count. Can they be seriously asked to change their position for the hope of accessions from those who as far' as this state is concerned do not number a single press openly in support of a free soil candidate? They would hazard very much more than they can hope to get in return.
In regard to Judge McLean the general feeling is favorable to his nomination for the Vice Presidency; and if he should accept, he would, I think, receive a cordial support; & would place himself in a very prominent & powerful position before the country.
I believe I have answered all your inquiries tho' I regret to have been compelled to do so in such extreme haste.
With great [illegible] &c
S. J. TILDEN.

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