Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Buchanan, James (1791-1868) to Edward D. Gazzam re: American interests better served by Texas independence

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02104 Author/Creator: Buchanan, James (1791-1868) Place Written: Washington Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 1844/02/03 Pagination: 2 p. + FF 25 x 20 cm

Summary of Content: Written as Senator from Pennsylvania, regarding the bill for admission of Texas to the Union and South Carolina's opposition to another Tariff bill. Buchanan argues that an independent Texas would be better for America unless Great Britain were to annex it. He also dismisses South Carolina's (and Calhoun's) complaint that the Tariff impoverished the South by pointing to cheap cotton production in newer states like Mississippi or Alabama. (Recent historians agree with him.)

Background Information: A future Democratic president from Pennsylvania, James Buchanan (1791-1868), expresses reservations about the annexation of Texas but also voices fear about the possibility that Texas would fall under Britain's sway.

Full Transcript: Washington, February 3, 1844
My dear Sir
I have thought of writing to you for some days on an important subject; but have been prevented by pressing business.
It is highly probable ...that the question of the admission of Texas into the Union may force itself or rather be forced upon the consideration of Congress before the close of the present session. In my judgment it would be far better for this Country that Texas should remain an independent State if this were possible. But suppose that this cannot be & that it should be satisfactorily established that we must either admit it or see it pass under the dominion of Great Britain; -what ought then to be done? This is the question & a very grave question it is. [struck: this] It may be a choice of evils; but which is the least? I should be very glad, if, at your leisure, you would favor me with your views upon this subject as well as inform me, what, in your opinion, would be the wishes of the people of Western Pennsylvania. Can any evils which might result from its admission be equal to those which would most probably result from having Great Britain our neighbors along our South [strike out: -ern] [inserted: -western] frontier?
'Ere this can reach you, you will have perused the letter [2] of Mr. Calhoun. It has disappointed me agreeably, not being so belligerent as I had anticipated. I have seen but few of his friends since its appearance; but judging by them, I think they will pretty generally support the nominee of the National Convention. The Southern Democracy, and particularly that of South Carolina, are bitter against [strike out: all] a Tariff discriminating for protection. The South Carolinians feel that their State is fast sinking into poverty & they attribute it to the tribute which, in their own language, they have to pay to the Manufacturers of the North. They do not reflect, that with the same labor, twice the quantity of cotton can be produced on the same quantity of land in Mississippi or Alabama; and that this is in a great degree the cause of their poverty & distress. -As Pennsylvanians we can never consent to withdraw from our [inserted: great] manufacturing establishments the incidental protection necessary to prevent them from sinking into ruin: and yet the doctrine of a revenue Tariff without any discrimination for protection has been rapidly gaining ground among the Democracy, particularly of the North Western States.
The Senate has been remarkably dull since the commencement of the present Session-There is nothing new.
Please to remember me in the kindest & most respectful terms to Mrs. Gazzam believe me to be respectfully and gratefully.
Your Friend,
James Buchanan
Edward D. Gazzam Esq.


[docket]
James Buchanan
to E D G
And E D G
to Jas Buchanan
About Texas
Feby [strike out Jany] 1844
[Blue Bk B] [Illegible]
James Buchanan

Edward D. Gazzam Esquire
Pittsburg
Abt Texas Penn

See More

People: Buchanan, James, 1791-1868

Historical Era: National Expansion and Reform, 1815-1860

Subjects: PresidentCongressTexasWestward ExpansionAmerican WestStatehoodLawTaxes or TaxationCommerceMerchants and TradeGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyFreedom and IndependenceCotton

Sub Era: Age of Jackson

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources