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JQA Diary, volume 31 25 February 1821
JQA Neal Millikan Elections, Presidential (1824) Religion

25. VII: Attended Church at the Bath-room, and heard Mr Palfrey, preach from Matthew XXII.29. “Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God”— The error of misunderstanding, and misinterpreting the Scriptures, is a fruitful topic for a sectarian preacher, but it is a weapon equally accessible to the use of all. The errors signalized by Mr Palfrey, were only those in which he himself has no faith. After Church I called and paid a visit to Mr Forsyth. Hopkinson dined with us, and according to his engagement came and sat with me an hour before dinner— The object of his seeking this conversation with me was the next Presidential election. He gave me to understand, that he was disposed to consider me as a Candidate for that occasion— That others were of similar disposition; but that it was necessary there should be a concert and understanding between them, as there already was and long had been between the partizans of Mr Crawford— He said that the extent and activity of their intrigues was incredible, and unless systematically counteracted, would infallibly be successful— I told Mr Hopkinson that I was perfectly aware of the exertions making by Mr Crawford himself and his friends to secure the Presidency 534at the next election. There were others making exertions not less ardent and persevering for Mr. Clinton of New-York— There was a third party less apparent now, and the struggle of which was eventual; to depend upon the issue of the conflict now raging in that State between Clinton and Tompkins. The State was now about equally divided; and as there is no marked difference of principle to contend for, they are squabbling for men— If either party should obtain over the other such an ascendancy as would carry a large majority of the State, its leader would be the Candidate of New-York, for the Presidency. The only question between them will be; which shall be the man— New-York, at any rate will have a Candidate of her own, and if both these rivals should be out of the way, she would sooner take up Mr King, than resort to any other State— The politics of Pennsylvania, will be greatly influenced by those of New-York— She too is a divided State, but the scuffle for her Governor is between men neither of whom has any prospects in the general Government— She will probably be an accessary to New-York. Whether any party or any one individual would support or propose me as a Candidate, I could not tell; but even in my own native State of Massachusetts, the predominating party, the federalists had a grudge against me, which they would not lose the opportunity of indulging— To one thing however I had made up my mind— I would take no one step to advance or promote pretensions to the Presidency— If that office was to be the prize of cabal and intrigue, of purchasing Newspapers, bribing by appointments or bargaining for foreign Missions, I had no ticket in that Lottery. Whether I had the qualifications necessary for a President of the United States, was to say the least very doubtful to myself— But that I had no talent for obtaining the Office by such means was perfectly clear— I had neither talent nor inclination for intrigue— I can do nothing, either to canvass for myself, or to counteract the canvassing of others— I will have no stipendiary editor of Newspapers to extol my talents and services, and to criticise or calumniate my rivals— I will devote none of my time to devising laws, to increase my own patronage, and multiply canvassers in my favour— My time is now not sufficient to discharge the duties of my Office; any part of it which I should spend in efforts to make partizans or to pull down competitors would be an abandonment of public for personal aims— For this, if I had the talent I have not the will; and if I had the will I have not the talent. Hopkinson said, that this very abstraction from all intrigues would be my principal recommendation— That Crawford having nothing but intrigue to support him, having manifested utter incompetency to the very Department with which he is charged, having never rendered one signal service to the Country, and having a standing manifesto of charges affecting his honour as a Gentleman, in the pamphlet of Governor Clarke against him, would make no head, unless by mere want of management in opposing him— That Clinton had embroiled himself too much in the turmoil of his own passions, and in his denunciation of the General Government had completely failed of substantiating his charges. The prospects of Tompkins he thought were no better— He was deeply involved in debt, and stood equivocally before the public in relation to the settlement of his Accounts. Mr King had no chance; and he thought I was mistaken in believing that the Massachusetts federalists retained their animosity against me— And he alluded to the manner in which they had recently conferred distinguished honours upon my father. He said if I should go to Boston next Summer, he hoped I should not entertain this opinion of the federalists nor express it; and he intimated that Walter and Hale had been last Sunday dissatisfied with opinions which I had expressed relative to the trial of the Queen of England; which he noticed only to mark what seemingly trifling incidents affected the opinions of men— We pursued this Conversation no further, but this as well as the Conversations with Allison and some others gives me warning of what I am to expect. If there has ever been an election of a President of the United States without canvassing and intrigue, there has been none since that of my father— There will probably never be another— The materials for canvassing are and 535for some time have been plentifully offered to me and pressed upon me— I cannot be ignorant of the consequences of declining these offers; but I could not accept them with satisfaction to myself or with that consciousness of right which I never have forfeited, and which is dearer to me than any station to which it is in the power of man, or of Fortune to raise me.