« ZurückWeiter »
sion as brevet major general for distinguished services at Monterey—a distinction he was pre-eminently entitled to, but which, it is probable, he would not have received but for his own firm assertion of his rights.
Gen. Quitman to John 0. Knox, of Virginia.
“Washington, March 8th, 1848. “I scarcely know how to reply to your friendly and very complimentary remarks in relation to myself and the presidency. I will, however, address you frankly, regretting that my time will not permit me to do so fully. You do not mistake my opinion upon the grea political questions particularly connected with Southern interests, and which, I firmly believe, if rightly understood, would be regarded as equally the interests of the whole Union. I am thoroughly a free-trade man, believing that capital, industry, enterprise, and intellect should be left as free as the air we breathe. Our country may not be ripe for that just and righteous mode of raising revenue necessary for defraying the current expenditures by an cqual tax on all descriptions of propcrty; but whilo customs aro resorted to, trado and commerce should not be burdened for any other purpose than mere necessary revenue on a scale of frugal expenditure.
“From the time that the idea was first suggested in Congress by a state-rights member from Virginia, I have ever been the warm advocate of the independent treasury, specic provision and all. As early as 1831, while a member of the convention to reviso the Constitution of Mississippi, I introduced a proposition to separate, then and forever, the government and the banks. I proposed that the Legislature should be absolutely prohibited from borrowing money, or pledging the faith of the state for banking purposes. With these principles of public policy, I am, of coursc, utterly opposed to a national bank, even wore it authorized by the Constitution.
“ In relation to the war with Mexico, it was undoubtedly the duty of the President, in the absence of any specific legislation, to occupy and protect the territory of the State of Texas. She had established, in the exercise of
her sovereign power, the western bank of the Rio Grande as her frontier; and the President, in my opinion, would have been liable to impeachment had hic failed to exert his military power to defend and protect it. Our troops were attacked within our territory, and thus a state of war ensued. Being brought about by the act of Mexico, and accepted by our national authorities, it should be prosecuted with the energy and vigor worthy of a great nation until the enemy shall propose satisfactory terms. If Mexico refuses to offer suitable terms or to submit, we should prosecute the war even to the conquest of her whole territory. I am unable to perceive the very great evils to arise from adding to our confederacy one of the most beautiful and productive countries on the face of the earth, abounding in agricultural and mineral wealth, and possessing withal the power of taxing the commerce of the world by the junction of two oceans. If we can not make peace on the proper terms, I would occupy with a sufficient force the vital parts of Mexico, principally with a viow to revenuo, and extract from it, by : proper system of taxation, enough to defray all the erpenses of occupation. Finally, if peace should not be made, I would organize the country into civil departments, with a view to its permanent annexation.
“ These are bold views, but I am persuaded they are practicable. The subject is one upon which volumes might be written, but my time forbids, and I only fear that my attempt at brevity will render mo unintelligible.”
In the National Democratic Convention that assembled this year in Baltimore Quitman was strongly pressed for the vice-presidency. He had more personal strength and popularity in that body than any other man in nomination, but was defeated mainly by one of those combinations that seem to be unavoidable in bodies thus organized, with so many conflicting sections and claims to reconcile. He attributed his defeat in part to citizens of his own state, and has left an elaborate memorandum of the whole affair. It is useless, however, to revive a controversy when most of the parties are in the grave.
In a letter to his friend, Capt. John B. Nevitt, of Natchez, he thus refers to the subject :
“Washington, June 9th, 1848. Having given my testimony before the Court of In. quiry, I am now here attending to some official business demanded by my approaching retirement from the army. You will have heard of the nominations of the Baltimore Convention. I heartily approve of them. Gen. Butler had higher claims and merits than I for the vice-presidency, and I was not disappointed. He is every inch a man, and I hope the Democracy of Mississippi will sustain him with all iheir energics. I have but to regret what I learn from many sources, that — was very busy in his efforts to prejudice the delegates against me, reiterating the old falschood that I had been a Whig, and that my name would weaken the ticket in Mississippi; was also active against me. I feel complimented by the vote I received; and I am told, had not this nomination been mixed up with the presidency, I should have been nominated. Taylor and Fillmore have just been nominated by tho Whigs: we must bo prepared for them.”
7 Gen. Shields.
"Monmouth, Sept. 9th, 1848. "MY DEAR Sır,-I perceive from the papers that you are still attracting public attention. I learn, too, from my correspondents that there is little doubt that, in spite of the hostility of some high functionaries at Washington, you will be returned to the Senate from Illinois. I give you my hand upon your prompt rejection of the honor of exilc, which our cool and calculating friend the President was disposed to confer on you.
It would be a very convenient thing if our President possessed the power of sending, 'nolus volus,' as Gen. Taylor would say, every popular man across the Rocky Mountains. hope to see you in the Senate. In the trying times that are before us, I, as well as all your friends in the South, believe you
would be as true to us and to the Union as is your excellent friend Douglas.
“I am doing all I can for Cass and Butler, and think they will overrun Mr. Polk's majorities. Sinco my ro
turn from Washington I have been quietly engaged in reducing to system
the chaos of my neglected affairs. I shall soon glido out of tho memory of the public, but shall not be forgotten, I hope, by my personal friends."
From General Butler.
“Carrollton, Ky., Oct. 220, 1848. “MY DEAR GENERAL, I had the gratification of receiving your kind and welcome letter, written on the anniversary of the battle of Monterey, a day that will never be forgotten by either of us, and well deserves to be remembered by our country. ****** Kentucky has presented me a splendid sword for my conduct in that battle. I accepted it, not for myself alone, but as an honor conferred equally upon the officers and soldiers of my gallant division, in the name of those who fell and those who conquered at Monterey. And believe me when I say that, of all that noble band, there is not one for whom I entertain so high a regard as for him who led my second brigado to victory.
“When I reached Washington, immediately after my first return from Mexico, I was mortified and vexed to find that justice had not been done to the volunteers, and rank injustice to your immediate command. The old slander that there was no enemy in Fort Tencria when you stormed it was in busy circulation. I promptly put down the calumny and demanded for you a brevet. Congress was not in session, and the President did not think ho had tho power to confer a brevet until tho mccling of the next Congress. (Why had he not done it before®) He moreover doubted his power to confer brevets upon the new appointments. In a few days, however, he did me the honor to consult me as to the appointments of the major generals for tho command of the additional forces of the regular army, and I placed your namo at the head. I am happy to believe that my recommendation prevailed. For this you owe me no thanks. I performed an act of simple justice.
“It has been a source of regret to me that our friends in the Baltimore Convention placed us in a position where we might be considered as rival candidates for office. Had we been present it would not have been
done. Judging by myself, it did not require your letter to assure me that this state of things could produce no change in our kindly relations."
On the 2d of December the citizens of Natchez and the adjacent country assembled to witness the presentation of the sword voted to Quitman by Congress for his conduct at Monterey.* It was presented by James S. Johnston, Esq., of Jefferson County, in behalf of the President of the United States. After a brilliant summary of bis military career, the eloquent speaker concluded as follows:
“To a magnanimous mind like yours, general, the consciousness of having done your duty, and your whole
General Quitman's Swords. 1. Sword presented by Congress.--Heavily cmbossed gold scabbard, the hilt sct with two large jewels, one in the head and one on the guard, and ornamented with reliefs representing the storming of Montcrcy, and a group of American arms wound round with a scroll, on which are these words: “Storming of Monterey, 21st, 22d, and 231 Sept., 1846.” On the scabbard : “Presented by the President of the United States, agrccable to a resolution of Congress, to Brig. Gen. John A. Quitman, in testimony of the high sense entertained by Congress of his gallantry and good conduct in the storming of Monterey. Resolution npproved March 20, 1847.”
2. Sword presented by the Citizens of Natchez and Adams County.Gold scabbard, the hilt of alternate rows of gold and pearl, studded with buttons of gold; on thc top an eagle's head of solid gold, crowned with a large jewel; the eyes jewels. On the guard a group of arms and banners, in the midst of which sparkles a brilliant, illuminating the inscription : "Presented to Maj. Gen. John A. Quitman by his fellow-citizens of Adams County and the City of Natchcz, as a mced due to his gallantry at the storming of Monterey, the battles of Chapultepec, and Garitn do Belen, in which he gloriously sustained his own character, the character of his state, and of his country.”
3. Sword presented by Citizens of Charleston.-Hilt and scabbard of gold, with devices of the Palmetto richly chased on scabbard and guard, with this inscription : “Presented to Gen. Quitman by the German and United German Fusilcer Companies of Charleston, South Carolina."
4. Sword worn by General R. in the War with Mexico; made by F. IV. Widman, Philadelphia.--Tho scabbard of brass, with armorial deviccs ; hilt mother-of-pearl wound with a gold cord, and surmounted with a knight's head, crest, and liclmct, and vizor down. The form of the hilt is n Maltesc cross. This sword is bronzed with the smoko of battle, and on tho blado aro the traces and stains of blood.