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Adams, John Quincy (1767-1848) to Aaron Hobart

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC06314 Author/Creator: Adams, John Quincy (1767-1848) Place Written: Washington, D.C. Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 3 May 1836 Pagination: 4 p. ; 25 x 20.3 cm.

Summary of Content: Writes that Daniel Webster, in his attempt to gain control of the Senate, has destroyed his own ambitions to be President and any Senate opposition to Jackson. Has "no confidence in the present administration" regarding the national bank crisis and currency. Also discusses confirmation of Roger B. Taney as Chief Justice, and Henry Clay's continuing opposition to Jackson.

Background Information: Aaron Hobart was a Massachusetts Congressman from 1820-1827.

Full Transcript: Aaron Hobart Esqr East Bridgewater Massachusetts

Washington 3. May 1836.

Dear Sir

Your kind Letter of 24. March last deserved not only an earlier, but an immediate acknowledgement and would have received it, ...but f[text loss: or] a severe indisposition, with which I was taken on the day when it came to hand-occasioned partly by a Session of seventeen hours without intermission, in the House of Representatives, under the most intense excitement that I ever witnessed in Congress - From this indisposition I have not yet entirely recovered. It confined me for a week to my chamber, and has disabled me as a punctual correspondent with many of my friends I can however no longer delay the reply to your favour.
My mistake in supposing that I had received a second Letter from you arose from the fact that a Letter bearing the same signature, and dated at Boston was received by me - [The] writer of it mentioned that he was born at Abington but addressed me as a stranger, and in terms of so much kindness that without reflection I attributed the Latter to yourself, though the comparison of the handwriting would at once have undeceived me -
The pains taken by Mr Webster, to circulate by means of his frank, among the members of the Massachusetts Legislature, and among my immediate Constituents of the 12th. Congressional District, the pamphlet Speeches filled with personal invective upon me, delivered not only by members wearing his livery, but by the menials of other whig pretenders to this presidency, while he himself stands mute; Shrinking from the defence of his treatment of the House of Representatives and of me, on the 3d. of March 1835. and on the 14th. of January [2] January last, have been made known to me by several of my friends - The unprovoked hostility of Mr Webster to me had long been exercised before it was perceived by me, and long perceived before it was noticed. His indulgence of his Passions on the last night of the Last Congress, however, brought on a crisis which I had before by extreme forbearance avoided - To snatch the head of the Senate from the hands of Mr Clay, he urged them over the edge of precipice; and from their struggle against the exercise of unlawful power by the Executive, plunged them into a desperate conflict with the co-ordinate branch of the Legislature; the immediate Representatives of the People - Of all political movements by the leader of a party that I ever witnessed, this appears to me the most senseless and absurd - and it was as violent and insulting in form as it was wanton and reckless in substance - It completed the ruin of the Senatorial opposition to President Jackson, and demolished the last fragment of Mr Webster's pretensions to the Presidency forever - If he should live to the age of Methuselah, he would never retrieve his agency on the night of the 3d . of March 1835.
His renewal of the assault upon the House of Representatives, in his Speech of the 14th . of January last, left me no alternative so far as it applied personally to me, but to meet it openly and immediately - This I did; still sparing him as much [inserted: as] I possibly could - For I held the majority of the Senate responsible for the votes which they sanctioned at his instigation - For the vote to adhere which cast the fortification Bill in the face of the House; and for the Message to [remind], when the House was known to be in a state of dissolution - The precipitation with which the Senate acted, in those instances could not be painted in more glaring colours that it is in his own Speech of the 14.th of January, and when you reflect that the picture was [3] was drawn in cold blood nearly ten months after the Scene had been acted, what think you must have been the temper of the Scene itself? Does it not more resemble the orgies of Bacchanals than the grave deliberations of a Senate, [illegible] of public danger from a foreign foe, upon a measure to shield the Country from that danger I did not expose the bold and shallow pretences of unconstitutionality, in the form of the proposed three million appropriation for the defence of the Country upon wh[text loss: ich] the Senatorial rejection was founded - Their inconsistency - their triviality - their self-contradiction - all of which would have been perfectly easy - and all of which I should do, were [inserted: I] formally to reply to the Liliputian defenders of the [Quinbus Flestrin] of the Constitution-
But in the order of business of the House of Representatives my Resolution is more on the Speaker's table. I have had no opportunity to reply in my place to my trades[text loss] Whether that opportunity will occur during the remainder of the Session is very uncertain; and if it had occurred during the last six weeks I have not been in a condition to avail myself of it - I could not now make in the House a continuous speech of half an hour's length upon any subject - I may perhaps in another week or fortnight recover my voice - but excepting what personally concerns my character and reputation, not proper subjects for debate in the Houses and most abusively obtruded upon it by the Client Patrons of Mr Webster - excepting this the occasion of debate has passed away - The tempest of a French War, has blown over and the sky is serene - Appropriations for the defence of this Country are not wanted, and if they were Mr Webster is ready to drain the Treasury of its last dollar to make them - He needs no public message of the President to call for them - He requires no specification to define them - He shudders at no [4] no private whisper from the President to any member of Congress friendly to his administration, that they are wanted - He votes millions for the suppression of Indian hostilities in Florida, without a word more of specification, and without waiting to hear from the President so much as that those hostilities exist - He has lost all panic fear of a Dictator - His Colleague before his face votes advice and consent to the appointment of Roger B. Taney as Chief Justice of the United States, and of Andrew Stevenson as Minister to Great Britain - and he himself does not vote against them - The Opposition in the Senate to the present Administration has sunk into a tame and complacent minority - Clay only holds onto his Land Bill to which I rather wish than hope success - and Webster contents himself with the poor satisfaction of taunting this Administration upon their incapacity to regulate the money without a National Bank, or to dispose honestly of the surplus funds in the Treasury - Upon these subjects I have myself no confidence in the present Administration - Mr Webster's opinions upon them so far as they are known coincide with mine. The interest of New England is deeply at stake upon these questions, and I strongly disincline to bear down upon Webster again, when what is left him of influence and of character may yet be available for the support of Justice, and of the Union - I may therefore abstain from all reply to his assaults upon me made by proxy; but if there is any point upon which you think a public defence of myself is necessary for the satisfaction of my Constituents, and will have the goodness to state it to me, I will address a Letter to you for publication, explaining the motives of my conduct with all possible frankness and candour - In the mean time please to consider this Letter as confidential, and believe me to be with great respect, your friend and Servt
J. Q. Adams

See More

People: Adams, John Quincy, 1767-1848
Hobart, Aaron, 1787-1858
Jackson, Andrew, 1767-1845
Webster, Daniel, 1782-1852
Taney, Roger Brooke, 1777-1864

Historical Era: National Expansion and Reform, 1815-1860

Subjects: American StatesmenPoliticsGovernment and CivicsCongressElectionPresidentCoins and CurrencyEconomicsFinanceBankingBank of the USSupreme Court

Sub Era: Age of Jackson

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