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Page 168


My Dear Old Friend:—Here I am, back again to Washington,
though I've been as far as Baltimore, on my way Down
East, to see you and the rest of my uncles, and aunts, and
cousins. And what do you think I posted back to Washington
for? I can tell you. When I got to Baltimore I met an
express coming on, full chisel, from Philadelphia, to carry the


Page 169
news to Washington that Pennsylvany had gone all hollow
for Old Hickory's second election. The poor fellow that was
carrying it had got so out of breath, that he declared he
couldn't go no further if the President never heard of it.

Well, thinks I, it will be worth a journey back to Washington,
jest to see the old Gineral's eyes strike fire when he hears
of it. So says I, “I'll take it, and carry it on for you, if
you are a mind to.” He kind of hesitated at first, and was
afraid I might play a trick upon him; but when he found out
my name was Jack Downing, he jumped off his horse quick
enough. “I'll trust it with you,” says he, “as quick as I
would with the President himself.” So I jumped on, and
whipped up. And sure enough, as true as you are alive, I
did get to Washington before dark, though I had but three
hours to go it in, and it's nearly forty miles. It was the
smartest horse that ever I backed, except one that belongs to
the President. But, poor fellow, he's so done tu I guess he'll
never run another express. Jest before I got to Washington,
say about two miles from the city, the poor fellow keeled up,


Page 170


[Description: 688EAF. Page 170. In-line image. A man is jumping up from a horse which has fallen and holds some papers in his hand. In the background is a covered wagon which is moving along the road and a dog is inspecting the fallen horse. Birds take flight as the man leaps up off the horse.]
and couldn't go another step. I had lost my hat on the way,
and was too much in a hurry to pick it up, and he had thrown
me off twice and torn my coat pretty bad, so that I didn't look
very trig to go through the city, or go to the President's fine
house. But, notwithstanding, I knew the President would
overlook it, considering the business I was coming upon; so
I catched the express, and pulled foot right through Pennsylvany
Avenue, without any hat, and torn coat sleeves and


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coat-tail flying. The stage offered to carry me, but I thought
I wouldn't stop for it.

Almost the first person I met was Mr. Duff Green. Says
he, “Captain Downing, what's the matter?” I held up the
express and shook it at him, but never answered him a word,
and pulled on. He turned and walked as fast as he could
without running, and followed me. Pretty soon I met Mr.
Gales, of the Intelligencer, and says he, “For mercy sake,
Captain Downing, what's the matter? Have you been chased
by a wolf, or Governor Houston, or have you got news
from Pennsylvania?” I didn't turn to the right nor left, but
shook the express at him and run like wildfire.

When I came up to the President's house, the old gentleman
was standing in the door. He stepped quicker than I ever
see him before, and met me at the gate. Says he, “My dear
friend Downing, what's the matter? Has the United States
Bank been trying to bribe you, and you are trying to run
away from 'em? They may buy over Webster and Clay and
such trash, but I knew if they touched you they would get the
wrong pig by the ear.” As he said this, Duff Green hove in
sight, puffing and blowing at full speed.

“Oh,” said the President, “Duff Green wants to have a lick
at you, does he? Well, don't retreat another step, Mr. Downing;
I'll stand between you and harm.” Upon that he called
his boy, and told him to bring his pistols in a moment. By
this time I made out to get breath enough jest to say Pennsylvany,
and to shake the express at him. The old man's
color changed in a minute. Says he, “Come in, Mr. Downing,
come in—set down—don't say a word to Duff.” So we went
in, and shut the door. “Now,” says the President, looking


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as though he would route a regiment in five minutes, “now
speak, and let me know whether I am a dead man or alive.”

“Gineral,” says I, “it's all over with”—. “I won't hear
a word of it,” says he, stomping his foot. His eyes flashed
fire so that I trembled and almost fell backward. But I see
he didn't understand me. “Dear Gineral,” says I, “it's all
over with Clay and the Bank.” At that he clapt his hands
and jumpt like a boy. I never see the President jump before,
as much as I've been acquainted with him. In less than a
minute he looked entirely like another man. His eyes were
as calm and as bright as the moon jest coming out from behind
a black thunder-cloud.

He clenched my hand, and gave it such a shake I didn't
know but he would pull it off. Says he, “Jack, I knew Pennsylvany
would never desert me, and if she has gone for me I'm
safe. And now if I don't make them are Bank chaps hug it,
my name isn't Andrew Jackson. And after all, Jack, I aint
so glad on my own account that I am re-elected as I am for
the coutry and Mr. Van Buren. This election has all been on
Mr. Van Buren's account, and we shall get him now to be
President after me. And you know, Jack, that he's the only
man, after me, that's fit to govern this country.”

The President has made me promise to stop and spend the
night with him, and help him rejoice over the victory. But I
haven't time to write any more before the mail goes.

Your loving friend,


Editorial Note.—The second election of General Jackson to the Presidency,
November 4, 1832, was a marked era in American politics. The great
questions in issue before the country were a re-charter of the United States
Bank, a high tariff for the protection of manufactures, distribution among the
States of the proceeds of the sales of public lands, and a general system of
internal improvements by the Federal Government. Mr. Clay was the leader
of the party in favor of these measures, and their candidate for the Presidency.
Mr John Sergeant, of Pennsylvania, was placed on the same ticket
for Vice-President. On the opposite side, General Jackson was the candidate
for a second term, and Mr. Van Buren for Vice-President. It will be remembered,
that after the blow-up or resignation of General Jackson's first
Cabinet, Mr. Van Buren had been sent, by the President, as Minister to England,
but, on the meeting of Congress, his nomination was rejected by the
Senate—much to the chagrin of General Jackson; whereupon he was taken
up by the “unterrified Democracy” to run as Vice-President on the ticket
with “Old Hickory;” and both were triumphantly elected. Out of two
hundred and eighty-eight votes, Mr. Clay received but forty-nine. South
Carolina refused to vote for either party, and threw away her vote on Governor
Floyd, of Virginia. Vermont voted for Mr. Wirt, the Anti-Masonic candidate,
and the rest voted for “Old Hickory.” Mr. Van Buren received the
same vote, with the exception of Pennsylvania, whose vote for Vice-President
was cast for one of her own sons, Mr. Wilkins, then a Senator in Congress.
In that election there was intense anxiety throughout the country in regard
to the vote of Pennsylvania, as was recently the case in the election of Mr.
Buchanan, for it was thought the main question would turn on the result in
that State. This state of things accounts for the running of the express from
Baltimore to Washington by Major Downing, and other curious matters related
in the two accompanying letters.