Letter from James Buchanan to future Governor and Confederate General Henry A. Wise of Virginia in which he discusses his stance on the Fugitive Slave Law, the political issues of the day, and his long-standing ambition to be elected President. The Compromise of 1850 had just been enacted and the issue of the Fugitive Slave Law was foremost on the minds of the American people. Discussing the gubernatorial campaign of William A. Bigler, Buchanan states: "... wherever he addresses the people he maintains the inviolate character of the Fugitive Slave Law as a portion of the compromise & urges the repeal of our odious Obstruction Law which deprives the slave owners of the use of our jails for the detention of fugitive slaves. The issue is fairly joined & I entertain no doubt it will be decided by a large majority in favor of the Democratic Party." After criticizing Governor Johnston, he turns his commentary towards President Fillmore. "I observe that Fillmore has been making a triumphant passage through the valley of Virginia to the White Sulphur Springs. I presume his return will not be hailed by the acclamation of thousands. A more disgraceful surrender on the part of his friends, the imbecile 'silver greys' to Seward & his forces by the adoption of the Albany platform has rarely been witnessed... The platform explicitly repudiates the idea that the Fugitive Slave Law is to be held inviolate as a part of the Compromise, for the sake of the peace of the Union, & sanctions & encourages agitation for the modification or repeal of that measure... This is the platform erected for General Scott. Is it possible that Southern Whigs will agree to take their station upon it?" On his presidential aspirations, Buchanan makes more than one reference. "I have a letter from one of our leading Cincinnati editors who has recently been travelling through Ohio. He says, to employ his own language, 'The universally prevailing sentiment among Democrats of Ohio is now, 'Any man but Cass.' He speaks favorably of my prospects there, but what can I expect from a Democracy so tinctured with Free Soilism." Wheatland near Lancaster.
James Buchanan Papers, Penn State University Libraries,
Related Item Notes
James Buchanan Family Papers
MG-96 James Buchanan Collection
Historical Society of Pennsylvania microfilm
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MG-96, Folder 80
MG-0096, Folder 080
Digitization of the James Buchanan Collection was funded by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, PHMC Appl ID # 201808013051, 2019-2020.