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Page 173


My Dear Old Friend:—I believe the last time I wrote to you
was when I come back with the express from Baltimore, and
Duff Green chased me so through the streets to find out what I
was bringing, and the President thought he was running to
get a lick at me, and called for his pistols to stand between
me and harm, you know. Well, I intended to turn right about
again after I had made the old gentleman's heart jump up by
telling him that he had got Pennsylvany, and would be elected
as sure as eggs was bacon, and make the best of my way toward
Portland. For you can't think how I long to see you
and Uncle Joshua and Ant Keziah and Cousin Ephraim and
Cousin Nabby and all the rest of the dear souls up in Downingville.
It seems as though it was six years instead of six
months since I left that part of the country, and when I shall
be able to get back again is more than I can tell now; for I
find when a man once gets into public life he can never say
his time is his own; he must always stand ready to go where
his country calls. The long and the short of it is, the President


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[Description: 688EAF. Page 174. In-line image. Two men sit in chairs at a table. They are holding champagne flutes and two bottles of champagne sit on the table. In the background a maid stands.]
has got so many other fish for me to fry, it's no use for
me to think of going home yet. That evening, after I got
back with the express, the President said we must honor this
victory in Pennsylvany with a glass of wine. “I am sure,”
said he, “Captain Downing, you will have no objection to
take a glass with me on this joyful occasion.” I told him as


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for that matter, I supposed I could take a glass of wine upon
a pinch, even if the occasion was not half so joyful. So we
had two or three bottles full brought in, and filled up the
glasses. “And now,” says the President, “I will give you a
toast. The State of Pennsylvany—the most patriotic State
in the Union; for though I go against all her great public interests,
still she votes for me by an overwhelming majority.”

He then called for my toast. And what could I give but
my dear native “Downingville—the most genuine, unwavering
Democratic Republikan town in New England.”

“Good,” said the President; “and that Downingville has
never been rewarded yet. You shall have a Post-Office established
there; and name to me which of your friends you
would like should be Postmaster, and he shall be appointed.”

The President then gave his second toast: “Martin Van
Buren, the next President of the United States, and the only
man in the country that is fit for it. Captain Downing, your
toast if you please.”

So I gave, “Uncle Joshua Downing, the most thoroughgoing
Republikan in Downingville.”

“Good,” said the President; “I understand you, Captain
Downing; your Uncle Joshua shall have the Post-Office.”

His third toast was the “Editor of the Washington Globe;”
and mine was the “Editor of the Portland Courier.” But I
told him he musn't ask me for any more toasts, for that was
as fur as I could go.

The President toasted some more of his friends, sich as Major
Eaton, and Mr. Kendall, and Mr. Lewis, and the Hon. Isaac
Hill, and so on, 'til it got to be pretty late in the evening; and
I told the President I would be glad if he would excuse me, for


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I wanted to start early in the morning on my way Down
East, and I thought I should feel better if I could get a little
nap first. And, besides, I had got to go and get the old lady
that used to do my washing and mending to patch up my
coat, that got such a terrible shipwreck by being thrown off
the horse with the express.

“Start Down East to-morrow morning, Captain Downing,”
said he; “you must not think of it. I have an important and
delicate job on hand, which I can't get along with very well
without your assistance. There's that miserable, ambitious
Calhoun has been trying this dozen years to be President of
the United States, but he can't make out; so now he is determined
to lop off a few of the Southern States and make himself
President of them. But if he don't find he's mistaken, my
name isn't Andrew Jackson.”

As he said this, he started up on his feet, and begun to
march across the floor with a very soldier-like step, and his
eyes fairly flashed fire.

“No,” said he, “Captain Downing, he must wait till somebody
else is President besides me before he can do that. Let
him move an inch by force in this business, if he dares. I'll
chase him as far beyond Tennessee as it is from here there but
what I'll catch him, and string him up by the neck to the first
tree I can find. I must send some troops out there to South
Carolina to reconnoiter and keep matters strait, and your gallant
defense of Madawaska last winter points you out as the
most suitable man to take the command. I shall give you a
major's commission tomorrow, and wish you to enlist two or
three companies of brave volunteers and hold yourself in readiness
to obey orders. In case we should have to come to a


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real brush,” said the President, “I shall take command myself,
and make you lieutenant-general. But I wish you to
bear in mind, let what will come, never to shoot that Calhoun.
Shooting is too good for him. He must dance upon nothing,
with a rope round his neck. As for your coat, Captain Downing,
don't trouble the old lady with it. I'll give you one of
mine to wear 'til you get a suit of regimentals made.”

I told him I felt a little uneasy about taking command
among strangers, unless I could have my Downingville company
with me.

“Send for them,” said the President; “by all means, send
for them. There are no troops equal to 'em, except it is the
Tennessee boys.” So I shall forthwith send orders to Sargent
Joel to march 'em on here. As I am to have my commission
to-morrow, I shall venture to subscribe myself your friend,