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Buchanan, James (1791-1868) to Isaac Wayne

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC05790 Author/Creator: Buchanan, James (1791-1868) Place Written: St. Petersburg, Russia Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 3 July 1833 Pagination: 2 p. : address : docket ; 25.3 x 20.1 cm.

Summary of Content: Buchanan writes as United States Minister to Russia to Colonel Wayne. Relates that he has enjoyed his time in Russia, but will never be "contented to remain under the shadow of despotism longer than my duty to my country requires." Notes his rapid conclusion of a commercial treaty has induced President Jackson to summon him back to the United States. Commenting on Russia, notes "The mass of the people are slaves attached to the soil. A nobleman, in speaking of his estate never refers to the number of his acres; but always to the number of his peasants... no proper means are taken to improve the minds of the lower classes by education, & thus to qualify them for liberal institutions." Praises the Emperor Nicholas I and his wife Charlotte of Prussia (Alexandra Fyodorovna), noting they have reformed the conduct of the Court following the reign of the "magnificent and voluptuous" Catherine the Great. Writes, "I hope that our Country has passed through its days of peril... The success of our exampled is the last hope of freedom upon earth." Mentions the death of John Randolph, previous Minister to Russia. Refers to mutual acquaintances. Free franked by Daniel Brent, Acting Secretary of State.

Background Information: Wayne, active in state and local politics, served as a U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania 1823-1824.

Full Transcript: St. Petersburg 3 July 1833
My dear Sir /
It afforded me the highest gratification to hear from you and to know that I still occupy a high station in your esteem. Your ...approbation I have always prized, & I feel proud that, for so long a time, you have thought me worthy of your friendship. I hope I may always continue to deserve it.
Since my arrival here I have received much kindness & Providence has raised me up many friends; but still it is impossible that I should ever be contented to remain under the shadow of despotism longer than my duty to my country requires. I had expected to continue here until next spring, but my success in concluding the Commercial Treaty has induced the President to shorten the period of my banishment, and I now [struck: expect] hope to see my native land again before the commencement of next year. The delight of this anticipation those alone can feel who have had an opportunity of comparing it with other lands.
Despotism in this country may fairly urge the plea of necessity. The mass of the people are slaves attached to the soil. A nobleman, in speaking of his estate never refers to the number of [inserted: his] acres; but always [2] to the number of his peasants. Ignorance and superstition exist among this class to such an extent, that the wildest enthusiast must admit they are wholly unfit for self government. The great objection [strike out] to the people in power here is that no proper means are taken to improve the minds of the lower classes by education, & thus to qualify them for liberal institutions.
The emperor himself is a very able man. In point of energy & intellect he stands far above any other sovereign of Europe. In his private relations his character is without a stain: indeed so correct have been his moral deportment & that of the Empress, that their example has already done much to reform the conduct of the Court. Under the magnificent and voluptuous Catherine, an extreme licentiousness of manners prevailed; & they continued to exist, though not in the same degree, until after the accession of his present majesty. Since then a great change for the better has taken place. - But I hope to have the pleasure of talking all these things over with you some winters evening.
The last Steam boat brought us news of the death of poor Randolph. He has had a stormy life. His faults will now all be forgotten & the good he has done will be remembered. His eccentricities made a strange impression here. - - I hope that our country has passed through its days of peril; & that all will again be peace & tranquility. Our dissensions were viewed with pleasure by the conservatives of Europe, whilst the liberals were terrified. The success of our example is the last hope of freedom upon earth.
Please to remember me kindly & respectfully to Mrs. Wayne, Mr. Evans & Messr Evans & believe me to be with the greatest respect, Your friend
James Buchanan

Col: Isaac Wayne.
[Address]
Daniel Brent, Acting
Secretary of State
Col: Isaac Wayne
Near the Paoli
Chester County
Pennsylvania

[Docket]
13 July 1833.
from
Honble J. Buchanan.
See More

People: Buchanan, James, 1791-1868
Wayne, Isaac, 1772-1852
Brent, Daniel, 1774-1841
Nicholas I, Emperor of Russia, 1796-1855
Fyodorovna, Alexandra, 1798-1860
Catherine II, Empress of Russia, 1729-1796
Randolph, John, 1773-1833
Jackson, Andrew, 1767-1845

Historical Era: National Expansion and Reform, 1815-1860

Subjects: Global History and CivicsForeign AffairsDiplomacyTreatyCommerceMerchants and TradeGovernment and CivicsOverseas TradeSlaveryAgriculture and Animal HusbandryEducationWomen's HistoryDeathPresident

Sub Era: Age of Jackson

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