Letter from Zachary Taylor to Mr. Edward Delony, June 9, 1847.
CAMP NEAR MONTERY,
Mexico, June, 9, 1847.
Dear Sir: — Your letter of the 13th ult., from Clinton, La., has just reached me, in which you are pleased to say, "the signs of the times relative to the next Presidency, and the prominent position of your name in connection with it, is a sufficient excuse for the letter." That "it is a happy feature in our government that official functionaries under it from the lowest to the highest station, are not beyond the reach and partial supervision of the humblest citizen, and that it is a right inherent in every freeman to possess himself of the political principles and opinions of those into whose hands the administration of the government may be placed," &c., to all of which I fully coincide with you in opinion. Asking my views on several subjects, "First — As to the justice and the necessity of this war with Mexico on our part. Second — As to the necessity of a national bank, and the power of Congress for creating such an institution. Third — As to the effects of a high protective tariff and the right of Congress under the Constitution to create such a system of revenue."
As regards the first interrogatory, my duties and the position I occupy, I do not consider it would be proper in me to give any opinion in regard to the same; as a citizen, and particularly as a soldier, it is sufficient for me to know that our country is at war with a foreign nation, to do all in my power to bring it to a speedy and honorable termination, by the most vigorous and energetic operations, without inquiring about its justice, or anything else connected with it; believing, as I do, it is our wisest policy to be at peace with all the world, as long as it can be done without endangering the honor and interests of the country. As regards the second and third inquiries, I am not prepared to answer them: I could only do go after duly investigating those subjects, which I cannot now do; my whole time being fully occupied in attending to my proper official duties, which must not be neglected under any circumstances; and I must say to you in substance what I have said to others in regard to similar matters, that I am no politician.
Nearly forty years of my life has been passed in the public service, in the army, most of the time in the field, the camp, on our western frontier, or in the Indian country; and for nearly the two last, in this or Texas, during which time I have not passed one night under the roof of a house. As regards being a candidate for the Presidency at the coming
4election, I have no aspirations in that way and regret the subject has been agitated at this early day, and that it had not been deferred until the close of this war, or until the end of the next session of Congress, especially if I am to be mixed up with it, as it is possible it may lead to the injury of the public service in this quarter, by my operations being embarrassed, as well as produce much excitement in the country growing out of the discussion of the merits, &c., of the different aspirants for the high office, which might have been very much allayed, if not prevented had the subject been deferred, as I suggested; besides very many changes may take place between now and 1848, so much so as to make it desirable for the interest of the country that some other individual than myself better qualified for the situation should be selected; and could he be elected, I would not only acquiesce in such arrangement, but would rejoice that the republic had one citizen, and no doubt there are thousands more deserving than I am and better qualified to discharge the duties of said office. If I have been named by others and considered a candidate for the Presidency, it has been by no agency of mine in the matter; and if the good people think my services important in that station and elect me, I will feel bound to serve them, and all the pledges and explanations I can enter into and make, as regards this or that policy, is that I will do so honestly and faithfully to the best of my abilities, strictly in conformance with the Constitution. Should I ever occupy the White House, it must be by the spontaneous move of the people, and by no act of mine, so that I could go into the office untrammeled, and be the chief magistrate of the nation, and not of a party.
But should they, the people, change their views and opinions between this and the time of holding the election, and cast their votes for the Presidency far some one else, I will not complain.
With considerations of respect,
I remain your ob't serv't,
MR. EDWARD DELONY.
P. S. I write in great haste and under constant interruption.