Correspondence of JAMES K. POLK
You cannot regret more deeply than I do, the unfortunate result of the late election. I regret it on your own account, and still more on account of the country. It would have been most gratifying to your numerous friends to have seen you elevated to the high-position, which by your long and valuable public services, you so well merited. In your hands, even your opponents must admit the Government would have been ably administered, and your political friends know that sound principles would have marked our public policy foreign and domestic. But it is useless now to indulge unavailing regrets. Your frinds have one proud reflection, and that is, that you openly avowed your principles, and with the dignity which becomes a candidate for the Presidency stood upon these. Neither yourself nor your friends, made secret pledges or wrote, inconsistent letters to different sections to defraud the people and secure votes. Though defeated, you stand to day, more honored than those who have resorted to such despicable means. You have the further consolation that you had a great party who stood by you to the last, and you will continue to have their respect and their admiration.
I take it for granted that the heterogenious mass of Federalists, Natives conservatives, disappointed office-seekers and the odds and ends of every faction, which, from any cause has fallen off from the Democratic party, for the last twenty years, who, by their combined efforts and frauds upon the mass of the people, have elected General Taylor , will require him to reverse the whole public policy, under which the country is now so prosperous. Indeed such are already the unmistakeable indications in the National Intelligencer and in other Quarters. Genl. Taylor , poor old man! can have no mind of his own, for he has no fixed principles, and is totally ignorant of public affairs. He will probably have but little more to do, in dircting public affairs, than Queen Victoria did when she ascended the Brittish throne. It is the first instance in our history, in which the Government will be committed to a ministry. It is not difficult to foresee that such an administration, made up of discordant and heeterogenious materials cannot long adhere to-gether, and I predict, that before the middle of the first session of Congress after its installation, it will be not only a total failure, but that the party which brought it into power, will dissolve into its original elements and go to piecees. The misfortune is, that the country will be the sufferer. Until the eve of the election I did not believe the result which has taken place possible. When I last wrote you I thought defeat possible, though my hopes greatly preponderated over my fears.1
During the remainder of my term, I will do my duty, holding firmly to our principles, and hope to leave a record behind me, of which my friends may not be ashamed.
I am aware of the desire of your son, to succeed Dr. Martin as charge des’ affairs to the Papal States. It will give me sincere pleasure to appoint him. When I saw him four or five days-ago, the result of the election was not positively known, though your defeat was probable. Though I had at that time made up my mind to appoint him whatever the result of the election might be, I did not tell him so, and he may have left under the impression that I might not appoint him. I did not inform him of my intention at that time, because I thought, it might not strike the public favourably, if at that moment I made the appointment. You can inform him that he will receive the appointment. I will either appoint him now or postpone it until the meeting of the Senate as you may deem advisiable. Will you write me on the subject, and I will be governed by your advice as to the time of making the appointment. I antiipate not the slightest difficulty in his confirmation by the Senate.
Will you present my kind regards to Mrs. Cass , and believe as ever . . . .
ALS. MiU–C. Addressed to Detroit and marked “(Private).” See also ALS, press copy. DLC–JKP.
- Polk to Cass, November 4, 1848.↩