|FROM THE MARTIN VAN BUREN PAPERS
Andrew Jackson to Martin VanBuren, January 13, 1833, Washington, D.C.
My dear sir:
Your letter of the 9th instant was handed to me by Mr.Wright last night, with whom I had some conversation on our general concerns, and I congratulate your state & my country for sending us a man of his integrity, talents, and firmness at the present crisis. It will give me pleasure to consult him on all your local concerns - . . .
I have received several letters from you which remain unanswered. You know I am a bad correspondent at any time - lately I have been indisposed by cold & surrounded with nullifiers of the south, & Indians in the south and west; that has occupied all my time, not leaving me a moment for private friendship or political discussion with a friend.
I beg of you not to be disturbed by anything you hear from the alarmists of this place. Many nullifiers are here under disguise, working hard to save Calhoun and would disgrace their country and the Executive to do it. Be assured that I will act with all forbearance to do my duty and extend the protection to our good citizens and officers of our government in the south who are charged with the execution of the Constitution. But it would destroy all confidence in our government, both at home and abroad, was [sic] I to sit with my arms folded & permit our good citizens in South Carolina who are standing forth in and of the laws to be imprisoned, fined, & perhaps hung, under the ordinance of South Carolina & the laws to carry it into effect all [of] which are probably violaters of the Constitution & subversive of every right of our citizens. Was [sic] this to be permitted the government would loose [sic] the confidence of its citizens & it would induce disunion everywhere.
No, my friend, the crisis must be now met with firmness, our citizens protected, & the ? doctrine of nullification & secession put down forever. For we have yet to learn whether some of the eastern states may not secede or nullify, if the tariff is reduced. I have to look at both ends of the union to preserve it. I have only time to add, that as So. Carolina, has . . . closed our courts and authorized the Governor to raise 12,000 men to keep them closed, giving all power to sheriffs to use this army, as the pope can use his, I must appeal to Congress to clooth [sic} our officers & marshalls with the same power to aid them in executing the laws and apprehending those who may commit treasonable acts. This call upon Congress must be made as long before the 1st of February next as will give Congress time to act before that day, or I would be chargeable with neglect of my duty . . . and as I have said in my message
which was [delivered] before the S.C. ordinance reached me, if other powers were granted I would appeal to Congress; was I therefore to act without the aid of Congress, or without communicating with it, I would be branded with the epithet tyrant - from these remarks you will at once see the propriety of my course, & will be prepared to see the communication I will make to Congress on the 17th instant, which will leave ten days to act upon it, before the end of February, after it is printed. The parties in S.C. are running on both sides & drilling in the night, & I expect soon to hear that a civil war . . . has commenced -- I will meet all things with deliberate firmness & forebearance, but wo [sic] to those nullifiers who shed the first blood - the moment I am presented with proof I will direct prosecutions for treason to be instituted against the leaders, and if they are surrounded with 12,000 bayonets our marshalls will be aided by 24,000 & arrest them on the ? and thereof - nothing must be permitted to weaken our government at home or abroad.
Virginia . . . I could march from that State 40,000 men in forty days; they are ready in N.C., in Tennessee, in all other western states, and from good old democratic Pennsylvania I have a tender of upwards of 50,000 - and from the border of S.C. in N.C. I have a tender of one entire Reg't. The union shall be preserved.
In haste yr friend,
MARTIN VAN BUREN