Letter to John C. Calhoun, 2 January 1844

  • Source Note
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<​Copy 3​>
, Illinois, Jany. 2. 1844.
Sir,
Your reply to my letter of last November, concerning your rule of action towards the Latter Day Saints, if elected President, is at hand: and, that you and your friends of the same opinion, relative to the matter in question, may not be disappointed as to me, or my mind, upon so grave a subject, permit me, as a law abiding Man: as a well wisher to the perpetuity of constitutional rights and liberty, and as a friend to the free worship of Almighty God, by all, according to the dictates of every person’s conscience, to say I am surprized, that a Man, or Men, in the highest stations of public life, should have made up such a fragile “view” of a case, than which there is not one on the face of the Globe fraught with so much consequence to the happiness of men in this world, or the world to come. To be sure the first paragraph of your letter appears very complacent, and fair on a white sheet of paper, and who, that is ambitious for greatness and power, would not have said the same thing? Your Oath would bind you to support the Constitution and laws, and as all creeds and religions are alike tolerated, they must, of course, all be justified or condemned, according to merit and demerit— but why, tell me why, are all the principle men, held up for public stations, so cautiously careful, not to publish to the world, that they will judge a righteous judgment— law, or no law: for laws and opinions, like the vanes of Steeples, change with the wind. One Congress passes a law, and another repeals it, and one statesman says that the Constitution means this, and another that; and who does not know that all may be wrong? The opinion and pledge therefore in the first paragraph of your reply to my question, like the forced steam from the engine of a Steamboat, makes the show of a bright cloud at first, but when it comes in contact with a purer atmosphere, dissolves to common air again.
Your second paragraph leaves you naked before yourself, like a likeness in a Mirror, when you say that “according to your view, the Federal Government, is one of limited and specific powers,” & has no Jurisdiction in the case of the Mormons. So then, a State can at any time, expel any portion of her Citizens with impunity and in the language of , frosted over with your gracious view of the case,” “though the cause is ever so just; government can do nothing for them, because it “has no power.”
Go on, then, , after another set of Inhabitants, (as the Latter Day Saints did) have entered some two or three hundred thousand dollars worth of land, and made large improvements thereon: go on, then, I say, banish the occupants or owners, or kill them, as the mobbers did many of the Latter Day Saints, and take their lands and property as a Spoil: and let the Legislature, as in the case of the Mormons, appropriate a couple of hundred thousand dollars to pay the Mob for doing the Job. for the renowned Senator from South Carolina. Mr. , says, the powers of the Federal Government are so specific and limited that it has no Jurisdiction of the Case! Oh ye people who groan under the oppression of tyrants. Ye exiled Poles, who have felt the Iron hand of Russian grasp: Ye poor and unfortunate among all nations, come to the “Asylum of the Opppressed;” buy ye, lands of the General Government, pay in your money to the Treasury, to strengthen the Army and Navy: Worship God according to the dictates of your own consciences; pay in your taxes to support the Great Heads [p. [1]]
Copy 3
, Illinois, Jany. 2. 1844.
Sir,
Your reply to my letter of last November, concerning your rule of action towards the Latter Day Saints, if elected President, is at hand: and, that you and your friends of the same opinion, relative to the matter in question, may not be disappointed as to me, or my mind, upon so grave a subject, permit me, as a law abiding Man: as a well wisher to the perpetuity of constitutional rights and liberty, and as a friend to the free worship of Almighty God, by all, according to the dictates of every person’s conscience, to say I am surprized, that a Man, or Men, in the highest stations of public life, should have made up such a fragile “view” of a case, than which there is not one on the face of the Globe fraught with so much consequence to the happiness of men in this world, or the world to come. To be sure the first paragraph of your letter appears very complacent, and fair on a white sheet of paper, and who, that is ambitious for greatness and power, would not have said the same thing? Your Oath would bind you to support the Constitution and laws, and as all creeds and religions are alike tolerated, they must, of course, all be justified or condemned, according to merit and demerit— but why, tell me why, are all the principle men, held up for public stations, so cautiously careful, not to publish to the world, that they will judge a righteous judgment— law, or no law: for laws and opinions, like the vanes of Steeples, change with the wind. One Congress passes a law, and another repeals it, and one statesman says that the Constitution means this, and another that; and who does not know that all may be wrong? The opinion and pledge therefore in the first paragraph of your reply to my question, like the forced steam from the engine of a Steamboat, makes the show of a bright cloud at first, but when it comes in contact with a purer atmosphere, dissolves to common air again.
Your second paragraph leaves you naked before yourself, like a likeness in a Mirror, when you say that “according to your view, the Federal Government, is one of limited and specific powers,” & has no Jurisdiction in the case of the Mormons. So then, a State can at any time, expel any portion of her Citizens with impunity and in the language of , frosted over with your gracious “view of the case,” “though the cause is ever so just; government can do nothing for them, because it “has no power.”
Go on, then, , after another set of Inhabitants, (as the Latter Day Saints did) have entered some two or three hundred thousand dollars worth of land, and made large improvements thereon: go on, then, I say, banish the occupants or owners, or kill them, as the mobbers did many of the Latter Day Saints, and take their lands and property as a Spoil: and let the Legislature, as in the case of the Mormons, appropriate a couple of hundred thousand dollars to pay the Mob for doing the Job. for the renowned Senator from South Carolina. Mr. , says, the powers of the Federal Government are so specific and limited that it has no Jurisdiction of the Case! Oh ye people who groan under the oppression of tyrants. Ye exiled Poles, who have felt the Iron hand of Russian grasp: Ye poor and unfortunate among all nations, come to the “Asylum of the Opppressed;” buy ye, lands of the General Government, pay in your money to the Treasury, to strengthen the Army and Navy: Worship God according to the dictates of your own consciences; pay in your taxes to support the Great Heads [p. [1]]
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