Lot 8024: James Buchanan Signed Handwritten Letter
28th June 2018
ALS, one page, 7.75 x 10, May 22, 1852. Letter to the Hon. James Campbell, a noted attorney who later served as Postmaster General under Pierce. In part: “Our friends at Washington reconsidered their opinion as to the propriety of my visit to that city and came to a different conclusion. In this, Cave Johnson, Mr. Toucey, Mr. Fomey & Governor Potter all concur, as well as other friends. The reason assigned, which appears to me to be good is, ‘that I should not subject myself to the efforts which would probably be made to commit me, not only as to measures but even to appointments, which myself respect would compel me to refuse & thus probably give offence to some who are now my friends & furnish to others to take ground against me.’ The conclusion of Col. King’s letter is encouraging. He says—‘Some weeks past I almost despaired of your nomination in consequence of the defection of New Jersey. I think now & I am much rejoiced so to think, that your prospects are brightening, and if the South steadily adhere to you, as I cannot doubt it will, you can & will be nominated.’ The Hon. Abraham Rencher, formerly a member of Congress from North Carolina & more recently our charge d’affaires to Portugal, writes me that their state convention unanimously, with a single exception, preferred me. He wishes to confer freely with my friends at Baltimore. I communicate this information so that you may know who he is. I, also, mention the name of Weldon N. Edwards from the same state, the bosom friend of old Nat Macon & one of the most reliable men in the world.” In fine condition, with partial splits to intersecting folds. Going into the 1852 Democratic National Convention in Baltimore, Buchanan was one of four favorites for the presidential nomination—Lewis Cass, William L. Marcy, and Stephen A. Douglas were his chief competitors in the race. In this letter, Buchanan refuses to commit himself to any political appointments should he indeed be nominated. On the first ballot cast at the convention, Buchanan received 93 votes and Lewis Cass received 116; Buchanan peaked at 101 votes on the 26th ballot, with Douglas in second at 80; dark horse Franklin Pierce did not receive any votes until the 35th ballot. In the end, Pierce won the nomination with 282 of the 296 convention votes on the 49th ballot. A desirable political letter written only ten days before the start of the convention.
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