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JQA Diary, volume 31 3 February 1819
JQA Neal Millikan Adams-Onis Treaty Commerce Elections, Presidential (1820) Florida Annexation Foreign Relations Native Americans Seminole Wars U.S. Constitution War of 1812 West, The

26 3. VI: General Jackson came to my house this morning, and I shewed him the boundary line which has been offered to the Spanish Minister, and that which we propose to offer, upon Melish’s Map. He said, there were many individuals who would take exception to our receding so far from the Boundary of the Rio del Norte which we claim, as the Sabine, and the enemies of the Administration would certainly make a handle of it to assail them; but the possession of the Florida’s, was of so great importance to the Southern frontier of the United States, and so essential even to their safety, that the vast majority of the Nation would be satisfied, with the Western boundary, as we propose, if we obtain the Florida’s. He shewed me on the map the operations of the British force during the late war; and remarked that while the Mouths of the Florida Rivers should be accessible to a foreign Naval force there would be no security for the Southern part of the United States— He also entered into Conversation, upon the subject of the discussion now pending in the House of Representatives, on his proceedings in the late Seminole War; upon that which is preparing in the Senate, under the auspices of Mr Forsyth of Georgia, and upon the general order, given by Jackson in 1817. which was considered as setting at defiance the War Department. He imputed the whole to Mr Crawford’s resentments against him, on account of his having at the last Presidential Election supported Mr Monroe against him— Said there was not a single Officer in the army known to have been at that time in favour of Monroe, whom Crawford had not since insulted— That Mr Monroe was of an open, fair unsuspecting character; amiable in the highest degree; and would not believe human nature capable of the baseness which Crawford, while holding a confidential office under him was practising against him— I told Jackson, that Mr. Crawford had never in any of the discussions on the Seminole War, said a word which led me to suppose he had any hostile feeling against him— He replied that however that might be, Crawford was now setting the whole delegation of Georgia against him; and by intentional insult, and the grossest violation of all military principle had compelled him to issue the order of 1817. Crawford, he said, was a man restrained by no principle, and capable of any baseness— The first act that brought him into notice, was a conspiracy between him as a lawyer, and Tait the late Senator form Georgia, taking clandestinely a false affidavit, charging a General George Clarke, as a speculator in the Yazoo Lands, while a member of the Georgia Legislature— Clarke proved the falsehood of the charge— challenged Crawford and broke his arm, and wore out a cow-hide on Tait’s back— Crawford was now canvassing for the next Presidential election, and actually wrote a Letter to Clay, proposing a coalition with him to overthrow Mr Monroe’s administration. Mr Clay had declared in a public speech that he would not make any systematic opposition to this administration—but he certainly had received such a Letter from Crawford; for a person of high standing here at Washington, had told him Jackson since he has been now here, that he had seen it— And whenever Crawford’s name shall be brought forward as a Candidate for the Presidency, the whole transaction should be unveiled to the public— It would not be worthwhile to disclose it now— As to Forsyth, what motive he could have for his present conduct, other than that of subserviency to Crawford, he could not imagine— But he carried his inveteracy to such lengths that he was to make it a new charge against Jackson, that in the late campaign, he had accepted the aid of mounted Volunteers, instead of Militia; and yesterday his Committee had sent for Captain Call and examines him to make out a charge that he, Jackson had speculated in a purchase of lands at Pensacola, which was utterly false— A man of his name (no relation of his, for he had not a relation in the world,) an irishman, had gone from Nashville, and made some speculation in lands at Pensacola, but in which he himself had no interest or concern. The bitterness with which Forsyth is pursuing this attack upon Jackson has become notorious, and the more extraordinary, as Forsyth has already been notified that he will be nominated as Minister to Spain, before the close of the Session of Congress— That Crawford has written such a Letter to Clay as Jackson has been informed is to the last degree improbable; he has too much discretion to have put himself so much in Clay’s power. But that all his conduct is governed by his views to the Presidency as the immediate successor to Mr Monroe, and that his hopes depend upon a result unfavourable to the success, or at least to the popularity of the administration is perfectly clear— The important and critical interests of the Country, are those the management of which belongs to the Department of State— Those incidental to the Treasury are in a state which would give an able financier an opportunity to display his talents, but Crawford has no talents as a financier. He is just and barely equal to the current routine of the business of his Office— His talent is intrigue— And as it is in the foreign Affairs that the success or failure of the Administration will be most conspicuous, and as their success would promote the reputation and influence, and their failure would lead to the disgrace of the Secretary of State, Crawford’s 27personal views centre in the ill success of the Administration, in its foreign Relations, and perhaps unconscious of his own motives, he will always be impelled to throw obstacles in its way, and to bring upon the Department of State especially, any feeling of public dissatisfaction that he can— I have felt this even in the Negotiation of the late Convention with Great-Britain; in the course of which he took ground of disapprobation, of which he certainly would have made a handle if the negotiation had terminated unsuccessfully; and of which I have no doubt he avails himself as it is, in his private Conversations, to hint that the success might have been greater. I feel him continually in the Negotiation with Spain, and in the transactions with Hyde de Neuville, and always in the way of increasing difficulties— Crawford is not a worse man, than the usual herd of ambitious intriguers. Perhaps not so bad as many of them— I do not think him entirely unprincipled; but his ambition swallows up his principle. His position is a bad one— Having been a caucus Candidate for the Presidency, against Mr Monroe, he feels as if his very existence was staked upon his being his successor— And although himself a member of the Administration, he perceives every day more clearly, that his only prospect of success hereafter depends upon the failure of the Administration, by measures, of which he must take care to make known his disapprobation— This forced and unnatural position is one of the numerous evils, consequent upon the practice which has grown up under this Constitution, but contrary to its Spirit, by which the members of Congress meet in Caucus, and determine by a majority upon the Candidate for the Presidency to be supported by the whole Meeting. A practice which places the President in a state of undue subserviency to the members of the Legislature; and which connected with the other practice of re-electing only once the same President, leads to a thousand corrupt cabals between the Members of Congress and the Heads of the Departments, who are thus almost necessarily made rival pretenders to the succession. The only possible chance for a Head of Department to attain the Presidency, is by ingratiating himself personally with the Members of Congress, and as many of them have objects of their own to obtain, the temptation is immense to corrupt coalitions, and tends to make all the public offices objects of bargain and sale— That there has been intercourse of this kind, more or less explicit between Crawford and Clay can scarcely be doubted— But a Coalition between them would be liable to many difficulties. They are both native Virginians— Clay’s ambition has been so pampered by success, that he has evidently formed hopes of coming in as the immediate successor of Mr Monroe. He refused both the War Department, and the Mission to England. Last winter he aimed at the unlimited controul of the House of Representatives, and at the formation of a Western party. His prospect of coalition then was with Governor Clinton; and it was positively, but I think erroneously said to have been effected. I has this winter much more the appearance of being concluded with Crawford; but the Georgian attack upon Jackson has scarcely any support from the West, though an immense effort has been made to engage Virginia, in the cause; and with partial success. Clay’s opposition has hitherto been so unsuccessful, that he sees I believe the necessity of contenting himself with a secondary Station under the next Presidency; and this may bring him back to a coalition with Crawford or Clinton, as the chances may arise— His opposition to Jackson now is involuntary and merely counteractive. At the Office, I had successively as visitors, Mr Verplanck, who came to urge the removal of Fiske, the District Attorney at New-York, for habitual intemperance, and the appointment of J. O. Hoffman a federalist as his successor— Mr Edwards, Senator from Illinois concerning the appointment of a District Attorney and Marshal for that State, which he wished to have postponed— He apologized for shewing me a Letter from Felix Grundy, now of Tennessee, and sometime a member of Congress from that State, but formerly an inhabitant of Kentucky, and rival of Clay. Edwards had written to him to urge him to come into Congress again; but he apparently declines. Edwards says that he himself shall not come as a Senator again. Mr Woodsides came to press me for a Report, in Mr Cathcart’s case— Mr Mitchell for some new provision to a Bill now before Congress relating to the Seaman’s fund. Mr Bourqueney, Secretary to the French Legation, brought me a long Note, in English, from Mr De Neuville, upon the present Negotiation with Spain; and said Mr De Neuville himself would call upon me to morrow. I received a Note from Mr Bagot asking an Audience of 28the President, to present a Letter from the British Prince Regent, announcing the demise of the Queen. The President fixed one O’Clock to-morrow for receiving him. The President also asked me this Morning whether I thought there would be any impropriety in General Jackson’s attending this Evening at the Drawing-Room. I said surely not. He has declined receiving any public attentions, while motions of censure upon his conduct are in discussion before Congress; but his attendance at the Drawing-Room is a mark of Respect for him, which the President not having censured him, has no reason for declining— Jackson did attend the Drawing Room, which was more crowded than any former one this Winter; and from the earnestness with which the company pressed round him, the eagerness with which multitudes pushed to obtain personal introductions to him, and the eye of respect and gratitude which from every quarter beamed upon him, it had as much the appearance of being his drawing-Room as the President’s.