Letters Of John McLean To John Teesdale -- By: William Salter

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 056:224 (Oct 1899)
Article: Letters Of John McLean To John Teesdale
Author: William Salter


Letters Of John McLean To John Teesdale

William Salter

[The Honorable John McLean was a member of Congress from Ohio, 1813–16; Judge of the Supreme Court of Ohio, 1817–22; Postmaster-General, 1823–30; Judge United States Supreme Court, 1830–61. In these offices his ability and integrity gave him eminence as a statesman, and won for him the support of many as a candidate for President, “because he would continue as a dispassionate and impartial judge in the Presidential chair, in which only a statesman should be seated, to hold the scales of justice between the North and the South.”1 Among his supporters were James W. Grimes, of Iowa, in 1848, and Thaddeus Stevens, of Pennsylvania, and Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, in 1856. “Whether, if nominated and elected, McLean would have proved equal to the situation, is a question to which no answer can be given.”2 His own views upon the questions then at issue were freely communicated in letters to a confidential friend who was then an editor in Ohio. They throw light upon a dark time of American history. Their sentiments and elevated tone make them worthy of attention from those who would keep our country to the front among the nations in the moral order of the world.—W. S.]

Cincinnati, 27 March, 1846.

I have received your friendly letter in regard to the future course of the Whig party. No one who has not been familiarized with the action of the Government at Washington can form any adequate idea how low it has fallen. I do not consider the office of chief magistrate as an object of honorable ambition except for the purpose of rescuing our institutions from their rapidly downward tendency, and placing them on the principles which consti-

tuted the basis of the Republican administrations of Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe. And I declare solemnly, as I have often done, that without having any pretension to the office, if it were offered to me I would reject it with disgust, unless it were conferred on such principles as would enable the administration to correct the fatal abuses which now exist.

The arrangement to bring out General Scott, at Washington, to which you refer, I have reason to believe had no foundation in fact. I was invited to the dinner party at which it was said to have taken place, but could not go. Whatever may have been said on the subject on that occasion, I presume, must have been said in jest to General Scott, who was present and probably took in earnest what in the merriment of the hour was said in jest. Mr. Man-gum, who was represented to be on that occasion t...

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