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Transcription of 1840 Letter from
Secretary of State Daniel Webster to Josiah Ware

Transcribed by: Judy C. Ware
Judy C. Ware February 2009
Original letter on file in the Rutherford B. Hayes Library


In 1840, Daniel Webster was serving as the 14th Secretary of State in the administration of President William Henry Harrison and President John Tyler.  

                                                                    Boston, July 20, 1840

Dear Sir,

It gives me pleasure to comply with your request by sending you a copy of my remarks last winter at the Agricultural meeting in this city.  I have been connected with farming from my youth, but yet do not pretend to any considerable knowledge or ability to instruct others.  What I lack in knowledge, however, I try to make up by zeal and by a profound attachment to the agricultural interests. 

Having referred to the case of Mr. Hood?,  you have my opinion, or my understanding of the practice of the Courts of the United States as to the admission of such evidence as was admitted in that case.

There is no law of Congress on the subject, and I have always understood that the Courts of the United States, sitting in any particular state, have followed, in these respects, the laws and practices of the states in which they sit. 

I cannot say I know or recollect any decided case, but such has been my understanding.  Mr. Leigh and Mr. ?, who have practiced long in the Circuit Court of the United States at Richmond, would be very able to say whether any such evidence was ever admitted by the late Chief Justice Marshall, or whether he did not, as I presume he did, follow the law of the State and the practices of the State Courts.  If there had been any instance to the contrary, I think we should have heard of it.

I do not wonder that you find it impossible to sustain the present administration, although you aided in placing its’ head in power.  Having always been its’ opponent, it becomes me to speak of it, not disrespectfully, to you who have been its’ friend.  But I must confess I am filled with apprehension and amazement when I see the degree of support which has been given to the Sub-Treasury and other financial resources recommended by Mr. Van Buren.  It does seem to me that we have before us a monstrosity and alarming instance of party blindness and credibility.  All these ideas of a Sub-Treasury, of Government Banks, of a hard money currency for Government, and of disregarding altogether the general currency of the country, appear to me to be anti-American, outlandish schemes and projects devised as apologies for the neglect of plain and important Constitutional duties. 

It is very possible, as you suggest, that you yourself may differ as to the powers of the General Government and as to its’ true policy. 

As to the first, if Mr. Madison may be regarded as an authentic cofounder of the doctrines of the Virginia School, there are few tenets of that school with which I have any fault to find. 

And as to the second, I trust you will agree with me in thinking that the general policy of the North, however you may differ from it in some respects, is, after all, if carried out with moderation and mildness, not quite so bad as the policy of a “Northern man with Southern principles.”

                                                        I am ?, Yours with regard,                                                                   Daniel Webster

Josiah W. Ware Esquire

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