American Presidents





James K. Polk
Letters

James K. Polk


The following letter from President Polk was written seventeen days before Jackson's death.

Washington City 22nd May 1845

My Dear Sir:

I have procured a copy of Sully's fine portrait of you in your military costume taken many years ago. I have it in my office. The contrast between your appearance then and now is very great.
Recent dispatches from Majr. Donelson and information brought by Gov Yell of Arkansas, who arrived here two days ago as bearer of despatches from Texas, puts the annexation question upon the terms proferred by the U. States beyond doubt. Texas may now be regarded as a part of our country.

In the existing state of our relations with England, rendered the more important, by the late blustering and menacing proceedings in Parliament, made it, in my judgment important, that the U.S. should be represented at that Court by the ablest man in the country. I accordingly tendered the Mission to Mr Van-Buren through Mr Butler of N. York, Mr Van-Buren in a very kind letter, and I think with some hesitancy declines I should have been most happy to have availed myself of his services at this junction of our relations with England. Upon receiving his declination I immediately addressed a letter to Mr Woodbury tendering the mission to him. There has not been time as yet to receive his answer.

It was thought best, immediately after the commencement of my administration that this mission should be filled by some gentleman in the South, and it was accordingly offered to that section of the Union and was declined. The late news from England makes it much more important, than it was at first believed to be. I have no hesitation in saying that had I been in possession of the information, which I now have, the mission would have been offered to Mr Van-Buren in the first instance. This was explained to Mr Van-Buren.

My public duties continue to be very great. The pressure upon me by office seekers, has scarcely diminished since I came into office. I have however made public that I will appoint no man who comes to Washington seeking an office, whilst he remains here, and the effect, has been to diminish the number of personal importunities upon me.

From your last letter I have great solicitude concerning your health. I hope it may have improved. I have procured a copy of Sully's fine portrait of you in your military costume taken many years ago. I have it in my office. The contrast between your appearance then and now is very great.

Say to Mrs. Jackson that Mr Taggart will have his place on the 1st of June, Mr Horn the new collector, promised me to appoint Thos Donelson to the place he desired in the Philadelphia Custom House, and I suppose has done so. I have entire harmony in my Cabinet and hope the administration is getting on well. We hear occasional Complaints from some former office-holders, whom I have deemed it to be my duty to remove, but this I suppose is natural enough. With most sincere wishes for your welfare, in this world and in that which is to come.


James, K. Polk

[The above letter is reproduced exactly as written and was obtained through the University of Tennessee, Knoxville Libraries]

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