James Madison Papers

Simeon Hubbard to James Madison, 12 July 1826

Norwich Conn July 12th 1826, or rather Anno Columbiana 334 & of Independence 50—

Mr Madison,

A Citizen, who, in the extraordinary circumstances in which his Country is placed at the commencement of its first Jubilatie year, by being called to mourn the death of the illustrious antients, who on the first day thereof, winged their way to the eternal mansions of repose, sees additional reasons for making the solemn season subserve the best interests of that country, by the reverting to those too long laid by principles of virtue, that enabled our ancestors to win, what we seem hastening to loose: need not fear, nay, nor hesitate to address him, on whom the mantel of Elijah is by common consent supposed to rest. Permit me with condolence to offer the annexed Dirge to you, the new Elisha; with wishes rendered more ardent by the wants of my Country, that you, the sacred mantel may long sustain.

This, peculiarly the season to call up the state of the nation, imperatively demands of us all, a solemn pause--to enable us to look forward with good effect, it is indispensible that we look back to see what has been done amiss—& to purge the camp of Achans , if any there be therein. Have we one?—yes an unblushing one, who is making a market house of it, has annihilated the confidence of the people in their house of Representatives, and destroyed its sacred character; while another with the Mene tekel before him continually, is still made to gesture in his closet, as he began to, when first the hand writing appeared on the wall, while delivering his inaugural. I pity my neighbour, now, so far less honourable, than when formerly he stood so high as an able secretary. To make a competent President in time of high opposition brought on by his own abberration, there is required vastly more of ability, than the mere secretary facilities give.

This man (I know it) had ample warning of his impending fate. There was no need of the gift of prophecy, to have forseen, at least, one of the results of the intrigues in Washn in, 24, 5. Statesmen (if statesmen they were) was never more under the influences of Lethean draughts, than those in that focus of intrigue at that time. This, of nearly the whole. Does a real Statesman ever loose sight of that great law of his nature, by which man is so readily led by his senses? That is, man, in mass? Deeds, deeds, cried the multitude, with whom the cannons of Orleans, seemed still to reverberate, while they saw the Sun of Jackson high in the firmament. Diplomacy, diplomacy, called out on one side, was heedlessly passed by, by those, who, if they understood at all, took it to be synonymous with dissimulation, management,–fraud. Legitimacy, was also dwelt upon by the same, who, cleaved to "safe precedents", While on the other hand, the legitimacy of caucusing was held out. This was more pardonable, yet both, and all were abortive, as such errors should ever be—That is the errour of heedlessly passing by so manifest a law of nature, in those who nominate, and the radical one, of resting in diplomacy in the least for safety. Notwithstanding the arts used to lessen this vote of him who lacked newspaper support, yet deeds carried it, as they always will, and as they always should, as a sure means of securing more deeds when wanted; whereas if deeds stand for nought & intrigue and management for every thing, what shall we come to? This dissevering the citizen from the soldier is in the highest degree dangerous to the state. Who will after this ever hesitate to pass the rubicon? The want of every thing statesman like in that Herd I will call them by the right name, is shocking to the pride of every American with a Roman heart.

It was of no consequence whether Jackson had the little requisites, and facilities or not, as long as he had the great–the overwhelming one of popularity.

Yet Clay, the gambler, who riskd every thing dear to men or nations, at a single throw, bid defiance to a nation! Was there ever so spoild an Absalom?

Why did he roam? Why did he emigrate to where every thing conduced to spoil him? Had he here remained, he might have ranked with sage old Virginias proudest sons. How much, is man the creature of circumstances? The improvment. Go to no theatre of gambling or speculation–to no state under the influences of a large commercial City, for your Presidents. That officer, must be taken from scenes where the highest virtues grow. Say the field of privation and dangers, if from thence one of commanding talents there be. No one must ever presume to compete in this case—If none such–then from scenes of quiet. This is the philosophy of President making in my opinion. That officer must be the peoples man in fact, or our union cannot be preserved—This to me is evident.

But he will never be the peoples man again, if the constitution is not amended so as to take, this most willing burden, from the house—Yet, this will not be done unless the people are aroused to a fearfull height, in the eyes of its cunning oppon<ent>.

Clinton would start again. He is, from whence no honest man can yet come for a great while. So I think, & so I speak. He ditches well, thats his forte, let him go on with success, so long as he meddle not with what belongs exclusively to virtue (at least that should) that is the Presidential chair.

Why I have written so much I know not. Still, I will say a word more, lest I have no other opportunity. From recollections of youth, (I am over fifty some) I will now speak of your first sessions (as I suppose)—The stand you took against the corruptions of that body who speculated in an unknown degree upon the vitals of the poor Soldier & other holders of the debt–has ever remained, on my mind, & I heartily rejoiced at < > your elevation, & would have at any time fought to have defended you in the chair. I was ripe, quite ripe, when a certain body assumed the right of interfering.* But this is of no consequence now, only to be held up as a warning—

But the principal object I had in view, was to say, that if you do not live to see the fatal consequences of unheedingly passing by your salutary warnings, at that first named period, yet your sons if you have any will doubtless. Commercial Island, habits & maxims & policy are ruinous to continents. The paper system must fall. God preserve you many years now the most venerated is the prayer of—

* This body, was noted in an oration on the 4th. intended to be worthy of the great day of Jubilee.

Simeon Hubbard

It is here believed that Mr Jefferson has left one daughter who is a widow, but name unknown–perhaps Mrs Epps–tho some say not. Under such circumstances, connected with solemnity of the time shall I crave of thee to direct, and send the enclosed to such an one–or her daughter, or the most proper, whoever it may be? I make the request in confidence–as griefs are above etiquette. I have seen over the second time this letter to you to see if any thing therein, is improper for an American citizen to say to a President, as that officer should be the the father of his people—I come with filial confidence. Men will contemn rebuke, if it comes.

S. H.

Preparations are making City win to notice this extraordinary event.


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