Correspondence of JAMES K. POLK
I was gratified to receive your letter of the 21st Instant.1 I hope you may be right in the confident opinion which you express, that Pennsylvania will give her electoral vote to the Democratic candidate at the approaching Presidential election. One apprehension which you express, gives me some concern, and it is in truth our only danger in Pennsylvania or elsewhere. It is, that the Free Soil men of the Whigs will to a great extent desert their candidate, and go for Taylor, while the Democrats of the same creed will more generally hold to their ticket. Can nothing be done, during the few days which yet remain to prevent this? Surely the Free Soil Democrats must see, that the only effect of th[. . .]2 course must be to endanger the election of the Democratic candidate. I cannot believe, if the subject is presented to them in the proper light, that they can be willing, to overthrow their party and its principles, by with-holding their votes, and thus contributing indirctly to the election of Taylor . I hope many of them who have heretofore approved and supp[or]ted the Democratic policy, may reconsider their determination to vote for a ticket tha[t] can by no possibility succeed, and that they may yet act with their old frieds. With the vote of Pennsylvania, I consider our success as certain beyond all doubt. Without it we may succeed, but the contest, will be very close and must be regarded as doubtf[ul]. Tennessee you know has been for years a debateable state. In the present contest my information is, that our chances are decidedly the best. Can nothing be done to convince the Democrats of Wilmot ’s District, of the danger of adhering to the Free Soil ticket. They cannot desire Taylor’s election. Mr. Wilmot himself I learned shortly after the Baltimore convention, avowed his intention to support Genl. Cass . If he could be induced to return to that ground he would contribute largely, to place the State beyond doubt. Are you intimate with him? Regarding the present election, as of vast importance, no honourable means should be spared, to secure our success. I am retiring, and can have no other intrest in it, than that which is common to every citizen, who believes as I do, that upon the continuance of the existing policy, will depend the future prosperity of the country. If our opponents should come into power, (though they may make no such professions before the election) I regard it as certain that, the existing policy will be reversed, and all the leading measures of my administration be over thrown. I am much gratified that you take so deep an intrest in the matter, and I hope you may be able to convince, some of our erring Democratic brethren, & induce them to act, with their old party and their old friends in the great trial, which is just at hand.
I think very well of the capacity and fitness of the Democratic friend whom you recommend for office, and would be glad to gratify his wishes. I am under some embarrassments in regard to the particular position you name, and cannot now speak with certainty, as to what I may deem it my duty to do, in regard to it. In any event, I hope I may have it in my power before the close of my term, to serve the frind you name. I have hertofore sincerely desired to do so, but have been so embarrassed by the circumstances around me as to prevent it.
ALS, press copy. DLC–JKP. Addressed to Philadelphia and marked “(Private).”