Caroliniana Columns
Newsletter of the University South Caroliniana Society
Autumn 1998

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Library Acquires 1836 Letter
of Andrew Jackson

The South Caroliniana Library recently acquired a letter of Andrew Jackson to Congressman Richard I. Manning. Written in response to a letter from Manning, the letter was written by Jackson's nephew Andrew Jackson Donelson and signed by Jackson.
Andrew Jackson wrote to Congressman Manning regarding the Congressional controversy over abolition memorials.
Jackson discusses the controversy in Congress over abolition memorials and expresses his regard for Manning "as the representative of that portion of So. Carolina which gave me birth." The acquisition of this important letter was made possible by the University South Caroliniana Society endowment.


Washington,

March 21, 1836

To Richard I. Manning

Dear Sir, I have read with much pleasure your letter of the 19th instant and the speech it enclosed on the subject of the Abolition memorials.

In every view I have been able to take of the subject my mind has become more thoroughly satisfied that the course taken by Mr. Pinckney was the most effectual one to quiet the agitation which had been produced by the attempts of the abolitionists.
"...his resolutions...embrace the most important of those considerations of expediencey on which the citizens of the non slaveholding states can give us the aid of their cooperation..."
Whilst his resolutions place the subject of constitutional power in respect to the states on the proper ground, and wisely abstain from agitating the abstract question of the legal power of Congress within the district of Columbia, in respect to which intensive and honest differences of opinion were known to exist, they embrace the most important of those considerations of expediency on which the citizens of the non slaveholding states can give us the aid of their cooperation in checking what is manifestly dangerous to the peace and harmony of the country--a character which the sound and reflecting portions of a large majority of the northern and western people have no hesitation in ascribing to the scheme of abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia.
"...the temperance and patriotism you have evinced in sustaining him are deserving of the highest commendation..."
Had Congress abruptly refused to receive the petitions which were presented to them from those persons who proceed on the principle that Congress is as free to legislate on the interests of this district, as the States can be with respect to the concerns within their respective limits, it is obvious that the effort would have been an increase of agitation by connecting the right of petition with the abolition question.
Seeing then that there were many persons in Congress who, although they believed that Congress possessed the legal right to interfere with the subject of slavery in the District, were nevertheless willing to unite in the most solemn and obligatory expression of there [sic] opinion against its exercise, it appears to me that the highest considerations of duty required, from those who were anxious to quiet the uneasiness which the agitation of the subject had produced, some step that would admit the declaration of this opinion. This was done by Mr. Pinckney and the temperance and patriotism you have evinced in sustaining him are deserving of the highest commendation and cannot fail to secure you the approbation of a liberal and generous public.

I will not of course be understood by these observations as casting my censure on those who have felt it their duty to oppose the reception of these petitions.

"I will not...be understood...as casting censure on those who ...felt it their duty to oppose...these petitions."
In answering your letter I could not with propriety withhold the expression of my conviction that the course adopted by Mr. Pinckney was the true one to quiet the apprehensions of our southern brethren and to satisfy all parties that no attempt to effect the objects of the abolitionists, whether in, or out of this district, could possibly succeed, or would be seriously entertained by any considerable portion of the American people.
I feel the less hesitation in being thus explicit to you, as well on account of the personal interest which, in common with my fellow citizens of the south, I have in the subject as because of the kindness with which you have addressed me as the representative of that portion of So. Carolina which gave me birth. I look back with fondness, Sir, to that sacred spot, and feel an interest in whatever affects its character and prosperity which words can scarcely express. Among the reminiscences of my life now near its close there are none so bright as those which recal[l] the scenes of my youth: and you could offer nothing more acceptable to my feelings than the assurance that the inhabitants of that region feel the interest of my friends in my private welfare while they approve of my public conduct. You will confer a favor upon me, if on your return to your fellow citizens, you will say this much to them on my behalf.
I am very sin[cere]ly
Y[ou]r ob[edien]t Ser[van]t
Andrew Jackson

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