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Page 164


My Dear Old Friend:—I haven't done anything this three
months that seemed so natural as to set down and write to
you. To write the name of the Portland Courier raises my
sperits right up. It makes me feel as if I was again talking
with you, and Uncle Joshua, and Cousin Ephraim, and Cousin
Nabby, and Ant Sally, and all of 'em. I and President Jackson
got back here yesterday from Tennessee, where we've
been gone most all summer. And a long journey we've had
of it, too. I thought that from here to Portland was a dreadful
ways, but it's a great deal further to Tennessee. I didn't
think before that our country was half so large as I find it is.
It seems as if there was no end to it; for when we got clear
to Tennessee the President said we wan't half way across it.
I couldn't hardly believe him; but he stood tu it we wan't.
“Why,” says he, “Jack, I've got the largest country in the
world, and the hardest to govern tu. Say what you will of
free Governments, where folks will act pretty much as they
are a mind to, it's the hardest work to administer it that ever


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I did. I had rather fight forty New Orleans battles than to
govern this everlasting great country one year. There are so
many, you see, who want to have a finger in the pie, it's the
most difficult business you can imagine. You thought you
had a tough time of it, Jack, to take care of them are small
matters down to Madawaska last winter, with your brave
company of Downingville boys. But that's no more than a
drop in the bucket to being President one month. I tell you,
Jack, there isn't a monarch in Europe who has so hard a time
of it as I have. There are so many cooks, the broth most
always comes out rather bad. If I have to write a message,
one must put in a sentence, and another a sentence, and
another, till it gets so at last I can't hardly tell whether I've
written any of it myself or not. And sometimes I have a
good mind to throw it all in the fire and say nothing at all.
But then, again, that won't do, for since I've undertaken to
be President, I must go through with it. And then there was
such a pulling and hauling for offices along in the outset, it
seemed as though they would pull me to pieces. If I gave an
office to one, Mr. Ingham or Mr. Branch would be mad, and if
I gave it to another, Mr. Van Buren wouldn't like it, and if I
gave it to another, perhaps Mrs. Eaton would make a plaguy
fuss about it. One wanted me to do this thing, and another
wanted me to do that; and it was nothing but quarrel the
whole time. At last Mr. Van Buren said he'd resign if I
would turn the rest out. So I made a scattering among 'em,
and turned 'em all out in a heap—all but Mr. Lewis and Mr.
Kendall, who staid to give me their friendly advice and help
me through my trying difficulties.

“And then, again, to be so slandered as I have been in the


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papers, it is enough to wear the patience of Job out. And if
I got a little angry at the contrariness of the Senate, they
must needs call me a `roaring lion,' the rascals. But that
Senate did use me shamefully. The very best nominations I
made, they always rejected. To think the stupid heads should
reject Mr. Van Buren—decidedly the greatest man in the
country—it was too provoking. Yes, Mr. Van Buren is the
first man in this country; and jest between you and me, Jack,
he's the only man in it that is well qualified to succeed me in
the government of this great nation of twenty-four republics.
And he must come in, too, or the country won't be worth a
stiver much longer. There's Clay, he would make pretty
work of it, if he should come in. Why, Jack, he would
gamble one-half of the country away in two years, and spend
the other half in digging canals and building railroads; and
when the funds in the Treasury failed, he would go to the
United States Bank and get more.

“Calhoun would break the Union to pieces in three months
if he was President. He's trying all he can now to tear off
something of a slice from it at the South. And as for Wirt,
he's a fiddling away with the Anti-Masons. Letting Anti-Masonry
alone, he's a pretty good sort of a man; but he
hasn't energy enough to steer our crazy ship of state in these
stormy times. I would sooner trust it in the hands of Mrs.
Eaton than him. There's no one fit for it but Mr. Van Buren;
and if it was not for getting him in, I wouldn't have consented
to stand for another term.

But, my dear friend, by stopping to tell you some of the
conversation I and the President had along the road, I have
almost forgot to tell you anything about myself and the thousand


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things I met with on my journey. But I cannot write
any more to-day. I expect to start from here Monday, on my
way to Portland. You may hear from me a few times before
I get there, as I shall stop along by the way some, to see how
matters go in Pennsylvany and New York.

If you have a chance, send my love to all my folks up at
Downingville, and tell 'em old Jack is alive and hearty.

I remain your loving friend,