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Page 225


My Dear Old Friend:—I don't know but you might think
strange on't, that I should be back here to Washington more
than a fortnight, and not write to you. But I hant forgot
you. You needn't never be afraid of that. We aint very apt
to forget our best friends; and you may depend upon it, Jack
Downing will never forget the editor of the Portland Courier
any more than Andrew Jackson will forget Jack Downing.
You was the first person that ever give me a lift into public
life, and you've been a boosting me along ever since. And
jest between you and me, I think I'm getting into a way now
where I shall be able, by and by, to do something to pay you
for it. The reason that I haven't writ to you before is, that
we have had pretty serious business to attend to since we got
back. But we've jest got through with it, and Mr. Van Buren
has cleared out and gone back about the quickest to New
York, and I guess with a flea in his ear. Now, jest between
you and me, in confidence, I'll tell you how 'tis; but, pray,
don't let on about it to anybody else for the world. Didn't
you think plaguy strange what made us cut back so quick
from Concord, without going to Portland, or Portsmouth, or
Downingville? You know the papers have said it was because
the President want very well, and the President had to


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make that excuse himself, in some of his letters; but it was
no such thing. The President could a marched on foot twenty
miles a day then; and only let him been at the head of my
Downingville company, and he'd make a whole British regiment
scamper like a flock of sheep.

But you see the trouble on't was, there was some difficulty
between I and Mr. Van Buren. Some how or other, Mr. Van
Bured always looked kind of jealous at me all the time after
he met us at New York; and I couldn't help minding every
time the folks hollored, “Hoorah for Major Downing!” he
would turn as red as a blaze of fire. And wherever we stopped
to take a bite, or to have a chat, he would always work
it, if he could, somehow or other, so as to crowd in between
me and the President. Well, ye see, I wouldn't mind much
about it, but would jest step round t'other side. And though
I say it myself, the folks would look at me, let me be on
which side I would; and after they'd cried “Hoorah for the
President,” they'd most always sing out, “Hoorah for Major
Downing.” Mr. Van Buren kept growing more and more
fidgety till we got to Concord; and there we had a room full
of sturdy old Democrats of New Hampshire; and after they
had all flocked round the old President and shook hands with
him, he happened to introduce me to some of 'em before he did
Mr. Van Buren. At that the fat was all in the fire. Mr. Van
Buren wheeled about and marched out of the room, looking as
though he could bite a board nail off. The President had to
send to him three times before he could get him back into the
room again. And when he did come in, he didn't speak to me
for the whole evening. However, we kept it from the company
pretty much; but when we come to go up to bed that
night, we had a real quarrel. It was nothing but jaw, jaw,
the whole night. Mr. Woodbury and Mr. Cass tried to pacify
us all they could, but it was all in vain—we didn't one of us


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get a wink of sleep, and shouldn't if the night had lasted a
fortnight. Mr. Van Buren said the President had dishonored
the country, by placing a military major on half pay before
the second officer of the Government. The President begged
him to consider that I was a very particular friend of his;
that I had been a great help to him at both ends of the country;
that I had kept the British out of Madawaska, away
down in Maine, and had marched my company clear from
Downingville to Washington, on my way to South Carolina,
to put down the nullifiers; and he thought I was entitled to
as much respect as any man in the country.

This nettled Mr. Van Buren peskily. He said he thought it
was a fine time of day if a raw jockey from an obscure village
away Down East, jest because he had a major's commission,
was going to throw the Vice-President of the United
States and the heads of Departments into the back-ground. At
this my dander began to rise, and I stept right up to him;
and says I, “Mr. Van Buren, you are the last man that ought
to call me a jockey. And if you'll go to Downingville, and
stand up before my company, with Sargent Joel at their head,
and call Downingville an obscure village, I'll let you use my
head for a foot-ball as long as you live afterwards. For if
they wouldn't blow you into ten thousand atoms, I'll never
guess again.” We got so high at last that the old President
hopt off the bed like a boy; for he had laid down to rest him,
bein' it was near daylight, though he couldn't get to sleep.
And says he, “Mr. Donaldson, set down and write Mr. Anderson
at Portland, and my friend Joshua Downing, at Downingville,
that I can't come; I'm going to start for Washington
this morning.” “What!” says Mr. Cass, “and not go to
Portsmouth, and Exeter, and round there!” “I tell you,”
says the President, “I'm going to start for Washington this
morning, and in three days I'll be there.” “What!” says Mr.


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[Description: 688EAF. Page 228. In-line image. On man has just jumped out of his chair and is excitedly talking to another standing man. Around them three other men stand and a fourth man is in the process of standing up from having sat down on a bed in the background. Two pictures are hanging on the walls.]
Woodbury, “and not go to Portland, where they have spent
so much money to get ready for us?” “I tell you,” says the
President, “my foot is down: I go not a step further, but
turn about this morning for Washington.” “What!” says I,
“and not go to Downingville: what will Uncle Joshua say?”
At this the President looked a little hurt; and says he, “Major
Downing, I can't help it. As for going any further with
such a din as this about my ears, I cannot and will not, and
I am resolved not to budge another inch.” And, sure enough,
the President was as good as his word, and we were all
packed up by sunrise, and in three days we were in Washington.

And here we've been ever since, battling the watch about


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the next Presidency. Mr. Van Buren says the President
promised it to him, and now he charges me and the President
with a plot to work myself into it and leave him out. It's
true I've been nominated in a good many papers: in the
National Intelligencer, and in the Mauch Chunk Courier, printed
away off among the coal-diggers in Pennsylvany, and a
good many more. And them are Pennsylvany chaps are real
pealers for electing folks when they take hold; and that's
what makes Mr. Van Buren so uneasy. The President tells
him as he has promised to help him, he shall do what he can
for him—but if the folks will vote for me, he can't help it. Mr.
Van Buren wanted I should come out in the National Intelligencer
and resign, and so be put up for Vice-President under
him. But I told him no; bein' it had gone so fur, I wouldn't
do nothing about it. I hadn't asked for the office, and if the
folks had a mind to give it to me, I wouldn't refuse it So, after
we had battled it about a fortnight. Mr. Van Buren found
it was no use to try to dicker with me, and he's cleared out
and gone to New York to see what he can do there.

I never thought of getting in to be President so soon,
though I've had a kind of hankering for it this two years.
But now, seeing it's turned out as it has, I'm determined to
make a bold push; and if I can get in by the free votes of the
people, I mean to. The President says he rather I should have
it than anybody else; and, if he hadn't promised Mr. Van
Buren before hand, he would use his influence for me.

I remember when I was a boy, about a dozen years old,
there was an old woman come to our house to tell fortunes.
And after she'd told the rest of 'em, father says he, “Here's
Jack, you haven't told his fortune yet, and I don't 'spose it's
worth a telling, for he's a real mutton-headed boy.” At that
the old woman catched hold of my hair, and pulled my head
back and looked into my face, and I never shall forget how


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she looked right through me as long as I live. At last, says
she, and she gin me a shove that sent me almost through the
side of the house, “Jack will beat the whole of you. He'll be
a famous climber in his day; and wherever he sets out to
climb, you may depend upon it, he will go to the top of the
ladder.” Now, putting all these things together, and the
nominations in the papers, and the “hoorahs for Major Downing,”
I don't know what it means, unless it means that I
must be President. So, as I said afore, I'm determined to
make a bold push. I've writ to Colonel Crockett to see if I
can get the support of the Western States, and his reply is,
Go ahead.” I shall depend upon you and Uncle Joshua to
carry the State of Maine for me; and, in order to secure the
other States, I 'spose it will be necessary to publish my life
and writings. President Jackson had his life published before
he was elected, and when Mr. Clay was a candidate he
had his'n published. I've talked with the President about it,
and he says publish it by all means, and set the printer of the
Portland Courier right about it.

So I want you to go to work as soon as you get this, and
pick up my letters, and begin to print 'em in a book; and I'll
set down and write a history of my life to put into it, and
send it along as fast as I can get it done. But I want you to
be very careful not to get any of them are confounded counterfeit
letters, that the rascally fellers have been sending to
the printers, mixed in 'long with mine. It would be as bad
as breaking a rotten egg in 'long with the good ones; it
would spile the whole pudding. You can tell all my letters,
for they were all sent to you first.

The President says I must have a picter of me made and
put into the book. He says he had one put into his, and Mr.
Clay had one put into his. These things, you know, will all
help get the free votes of the people, and that's all I want.


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For I tell you now, right up and down, I never will take any
office that doesn't come by the free votes of the people. I'm a
genuine Demokratic Republikan, and always was, and so was
my father before me, and Uncle Joshua besides.

There's a few more things that I want to speak to you about
in this letter, but I'm afraid it will get to be too lengthy. That
are story that they got in the newspapers about my being
married in Philadelphy is all a hoax. I ain't married yet,
nor shan't be till a little blue-eyed gal that used to run about
with me, and go to school and slide down hill in Downingville,
is the wife of President Downing. And that are other story,
that the President gave me a curnel's commission jest before
we started Down East, isn't exactly true. The President did
offer me one, but I thanked him, and told him if he would
excuse me, I should rather not take it, for I had always
noticed that majors were more apt to rise in the world than

I wish you would take a little pains to send up to Downingville
and get Uncle Joshua to call a public meeting, and have
me nominated there. I'm so well known there, it would have
a great effect in other places. And I want to have it particularly
understood, and so stated in their resolutions, that I am
the genuine Demokratic Republikan candidate. I know you
will put your shoulder to the wheel in this business, and do
all you can for me, for you was always a friend to me, and
just between you and me, when I get in to be President you
may depend upon it you shall have as good an office as you

But I see it's time for me to end this letter. The President
is quite comfortable, and sends his respects to you and Uncle
Joshua. I remain your sincere friend,