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Mr. Gales and Seaton

My Dear Old Friends:—If you are yet in the land of the
livin', I long to have a little talk with you about the affairs of
the nation. And if you an't in the land of the livin', but have


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dropped off since I've been away in the gold diggings of Californy,
if you'll contrive to let me know it I'll go to one of the
“sperrit rappers” (Cousin Nabby knows one of 'em), and try
to have a chat with you that way. And my old friend Mr.
Ritchie, too, I want to have a chat along with him. But I
don't know where to find him, for Uncle Joshua tells me he
isn't in the Washington Union paper now, and they've “carried
him back to old Virginny.” Now, that's very bad; it's
treason agin the Government. How can the country get along
through a Presidential campaign without Mr. Ritchie? They
never have done it, and it can't be done; it's impossible. I
don't know who they've got in his place in the Union, nor I
don't care; but I know they never will find one that can fight
agin the Federalists like Mr. Ritchie. How many times he
saved the country from bein' eat up by the Federalists; and,
what's very remarkable, he could fight agin 'em for years and
years after they was all dead jest as well as he could when
they was alive. There's to be a great battle for the next
President, and we can't get along without Mr. Ritchie. He
ought not to a gone off so; he owed his services to the country,
and he ought to be ketched and brought back to Washington
under the “Fugitive Slave Law.” That law is carried out
everywhere to the North, and they expect it to be carried
out to the South. What is sass for the goose is sass for the
gander. If the South wants to keep the North in the Union,
she must give some good strong proof that she is willing to
fulfill and carry out the Fugitive Slave Law. And she couldn't
do it any better than to ketch Mr. Ritchie and carry him back
to Washington, and shet him up in the Union paper office, and
tie him down to the editorial chair, and put a ream of paper
before him, and a pen in his hand, and set him to writing
about the next Presidency. Then the dark fog which hangs
over the whole country would begin to be blowed away, and


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parties could begin to see where they are again; and the
knots and the snarls of politics would begin to be unraveled,
so that we could all tell where to take hold and pull with a
fair chance of doing some good. Then we might stand a good
chance to get a President next year. But as things now go,
the chance looks slim enough.

Times isn't now as they used to be, when we hadn't only
two parties, and everybody could tell who he was fightin'
aginst. Then a single blast from Major Ben Russel, in the
old Boston Centinel, would call out all the Federalists in the
the country, and make 'em draw up in a straight line; and
then another blast from Mr. Ritchie, in the Richmond Enquirer,
would call out all the Republicans into another line; and
when these two parties were called out, there wasn't nobody
left but women and children, and then the two parties had a
clear field before 'em, and marched up face to face and had a
fair fight, and they always knew which got whipped. But
things isn't so now-a-days. There's more parties now than
you can shake a stick at. And they face in all manner of
ways, so that when you are fightin' for one party, it would
puzzle a Philadelphy lawyer to tell what party you are fightin'
aginst, or to tell who is whipped when the battle's over. I
didn't know things was in quite so bad a snarl till I got
home 'tother day from Californy, and sot down and had a long
talk with Uncle Joshua, who told me all about it. Uncle
Joshua is getting old, but he holds his age remarkably well—
I think full equal to Mr. Ritchie, and I don't see but he keeps
the run of politics as well as he used to.

Says I: “Uncle Joshua, what's the prospect about the

“Well,” says he, “Major”—he always calls me Major—
says he, “Major, there an't no prospect at all.”

“How so,” says I; “how can you make that out?”


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“Well,” says he, “there's so many parties now, and they
are all so mixed up, higgledy-piggledy, that you can't see
through 'em with the longest spy-glass that ever was made.”

“Well, now, Uncle Joshua,” says I, “jest name over all
these parties, so I can begin to have some idea of them.”

“Well,” says he, “We'll begin first south side of Mason and
Dickson's line. There's the old Whig party, and the old Democratic
party, and the party of Union Whigs, and the party of
Secession Whigs, and the party of Union Democrats, and the
party of Secession Democrats, and the party of absolute,
unqualified Secessionists, and the party of Co-operation
Secessionists. And then, if we come to the north side of
Mason and Dixon's line, we find the regular Whig party,
and the regular Democratic party, and the Union Whigs,
and the Abolition Whigs, and the Union Democrats, and the
Abolition Democrats, and the Silver Gray Whigs, and the
Woolyhead Whigs, and the Hunker Democrats, and the Barnburner
Democrats, and the Seward party, and the Union Safety
Committee party, and the regular Free-Soil party, and the
regular Vote-Yourself-a-Farm party.”

Here Uncle Joshua paused a little, and Aunt Keziah laid
down her nittin'-work, and looked over her spectacles; and
says she to me, “Your Uncle Joshua must have a wonderful
memory to keep all them hard names in his head; for my
part, I don't see how he does it.”

Then Cousin Nabby she clapped her hands and laughed,
and says she, “Now, Jack, which party do you belong to?”

Says I, “I'll be hanged if I know. If the old Gineral was
alive—I mean Old Hickory—I'd go with his party, let it be
which 'twould; for then I should know I was going for the
country. The old Gineral was always ready to fight for the
country against bank monsters, and nullification monsters,
and all sorts of monsters.”


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[Description: 688EAF. Page 339. In-line image. Four people sit around in a room, talking, two women and two men. The older woman wears a smile on her face.]

“Well, now,” says Uncle Joshua, “how do you suppose we
are going to work to make a President, with all these parties
in the field, fightin' cross-handed, and every which way?”

“I'm sure I can't see,” says I, “unless we can get up a
party that will surround the whole of 'em, as the Irish corporal
surrounded the half a dozen prisoners.”

“What do you think of Mr. Calhoun's plan,” said Uncle
Joshua, “that's laid down in his works, just published?”

“What's that?” says I; “I don't think I've heard of it.”

“Well,” says he, “he recommends to choose two Presidents,
one for the North and one for the South—each side of Mason
and Dixon's line; and no law of Congress to become a law till
it is signed by both Presidents. How think you it will work?”


Page 340

“Well, I guess,” says I, “if the country depended upon
laws to live on, it would starve to death as sure as the ass
between the two bundles of hay.”

At that, Cousin Nabby spoke up, and says she, “More like,
the country would be like a bundle of hay between two asses,
and would get eat up pretty quick.”

Uncle Joshua couldn't help smiling, but he looked as sober
as he could, and says he, “Come, come, Nabby, you hush up;
what do you know about politics?”

“Well, now,” says I, “let us look at this plan of Mr. Calhoun's
a little, and see what it amounts to. His notion was,
that two parties, one north and one south of Mason and Dixon's
line, under one President, could never agree, but would
always be quarrelin', and fightin', and crowdin'; but if each
party would choose a President, then they would get along
smooth and quiet, and live as peaceable as lambs. Now, if
the doctrine is good for two parties, it is good for twenty.
So, if Mr. Calhoun was right, the best way would be to let the
twenty parties that are now quarreling like cats and dogs,
go to work, and each choose a President for itself. Then
what a happy, peaceable time we should have of it.”

“Well, you've fairly run it into the ground now,” says
Uncle Joshua, “and I guess we may as well let it stick there.
I'm more troubled about electing one President than I am
two, or twenty; and I should like to get your idea how it
can be done. I know General Jackson used to think a great
deal of your opinion, and may be you can contrive some plan
to get us out of this hurly-burly that we are in, so that we
can make a President next year, when the time comes round.”

“Well,” says I, “Uncle Joshua, according to what you say
about the parties now-a-days, all split up into flinders, and
cross-grained every way, I don't think there's much chance
for any of 'em to elect a President, especially if Mr. Ritchie


Page 341
don't help. But for all that, I think the thing can be done,
and I think there's two ways of doing it. One way is, to get
a new party that shall surround all the other parties—I mean
a real constitutional party, an out and out national party, a
party that will stand up to the rack, fodder or no fodder—
and go for the Union, the whole Union, and nothing but the
Union, live or die. This party would have to be made up out
of the twenty parties you have named, so I guess we might
as well call it the party of `National Come-outers.' T'other
way would be, to get up a sort of revolution-annexation
manifest-destiny-glory party, and have a great banner painted,
with Cuba on one end, and Canada on t'other, and what
there is left of Mexico in the middle; and get up a great
torch-light procession from one end of the country to t'other,
and hire Kossuth to make stump speeches for our candidate
through all the States. If we didn't elect him, I'd go
into retiracy, and settle on the banks of Salt River for life.”

“Well, Major,” says Uncle Joshua, “I think a good deal
of your notions, and I wish you would draw up some plan for
us to go by, for it's high time we was doing something.”

So, Mr. Gales & Seaton, I remain your old friend,