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Andrew Jackson Disdains Rewarding One Of His Political Enemies
- ÒHe appears to have some interest of feeling in this case for his Georgia friends and particularly as it is given.to such an open undisguised tra- ducer of the administration as he says Mr. Longstreet is.Ó Jackson believed that changing officeholders would prevent the development of a corrupt bureaucracy. He implemented the theory of ro- tation in office, declaring it Òa leading principle in the republican creed.Ó In practice, this fine theory involved rewarding JacksonÕs support- ers and fellow party members with government posts, as a way to strengthen party loyalty. This system of firing opponents and filling their places with party loyalists came to be known as the Òspoils system,Ó and Jackson received the reputation of being its initiator. During JacksonÕs first term, there was a high tariff on imports of manufactured goods made in Europe. This made those goods more expensive than ones from the northern U.S., raising the prices paid by planters in the South. Southern politicians argued that high tariffs benefited northern industrialists at the expense of southern farmers. South Carolina went so far as to claim the right to ÒnullifyÓÑdeclare voidÑthe tariff legislation, and more generally the right of a state to nullify any Federal laws which went against its interests. Although Jackson sympathized with the South in the tariff debate, he supported a strong union with effec- tive powers for the central government and violently opposed nullification. He vowed to send troops to South Carolina to enforce the laws, and in December 1832 issued a resounding proclamation against the Ònullifiers,Ó stating that he considered Òthe power to annul a law of the United States, assumed by one state, incompatible with the existence of the Union.Ó South Carolina, and by ex- tension all nullifiers, the President declared, stood on Òthe brink of insurrection and treason. In 1833, Congress passed a Òforce billÓ which authorized Jackson to use violence to preserve the Union. Augustus Baldwin Longstreet was the publisher of the Augusta (Georgia) States Rights Sentinel, a newspaper that advocated nullification in the recent crisis and thus opposed JacksonÕs policies. The year after this letter, he would publish what is considered the SouthÕs first important literary work, ÒGeorgia Scenes, Characters, Incidents, Etc. in the First Half Century.Ó His brother Gilbert shared his politics. These Longstreet brothers were uncles of Confederate General James Longstreet - LeeÕs famed Òwar horse.Ó Gilbert owned rights to the Augusta- Savannah mail route and there were complaints that under his aegis, the mails were not delivered often enough. The Georgia congressional delegation brought these to the PresidentÕs attention. Perhaps spoils politics was also on JacksonÕs mind when he wrote the following letter, which was ostensibly about bidding and the granting of other Georgia postal routes. The William Barry mentioned was JacksonÕs Postmaster General. John Forsythe, his Secretary of State, was a Georgian who, when South Carolina nullified the federal tariff in 1832 and asked Georgia to follow persuaded his fellow Georgians to support Jackson instead of its neighbor. Autograph Letter Signed, Washington, November 8, 1834, to Charles K. Gard- ner, acting postmaster responsible for postal appointments, criticizing the selec- tion of political foe (and possibly inept) Longstreet for a government contract instead of one of the PresidentÕs supporters. ÒI am this moment advised that there is great complaint of unfairness in the letting of the route in Georgia - from Augusta to Savannah. The complaints came to me through a high source and is well calculated to do the Department an injury, as it would seem to throw a suspicion that it was done to the injury of our friends, to favor Mr. Longstreet a bitter enemy and constant reviler of the administration. It is stated that Mr. Reesides proposed to carry the mail for $10,000 per annum to run the one half the time on the [Attributes: Signed Copy]
      [Bookseller: The Raab Collection]
Last Found On: 2014-10-02           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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