Letter from Zachary Taylor to Dr. C. L. Wilcox, and Others, July 20, 1847.
The following letter differs very little from the one of June 9.
HEAD-QUARTERS, ARMY OF OCCUPATION,
Camp near Monterey Mexico, J'ly 20, '47.
DEAR SIR: — I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your esteemed letter of the 16th, which has just reached me, accompanied by certain resolutions entered into by a democratic meeting of my fellow-citizens of Clarkesville, Tennessee, on the 17th of June last, in relation to certain important matters and principles connected with the management of our national affairs, desiring to know my views and opinions in regard to the same, as they might have an important bearing on their course, should my name be before the country as a candidate for the Presidency at the coming election, which I must beg leave to decline doing for even if disposed to do so, I cannot spare the time from my official duties to devote to the investigation of those subjects which their importance seems to require to enable me to reply to them in a way that would be satisfactory to myself much less so to your honorable committee. I must therefore say in this instance, what I have stated to others on like occasions, which is, that I am no politician — near forty years of my life having been passed in the military services of the republic, most of which in the field, the camp, on our western frontier, or in the Indian territory; and I may say, with great propriety, for the most part constantly on duty — the last two in Mexico, or on its immediate borders during which I have not passed one night under the roof of a house. You may, therefore readily suppose, under such circumstances, I have had but little time to devote to the consideration or investigation of important political matters, or to their discussion; nor have I attempted to do so, or been mixed up with political men or matters in any way, not even having voted for one of our chief magistrates or any one of else since I have been stationed or serving, for the most part, beyond the limits of the States.
I can say in all sincerity I have no aspirations for the Presidency; and if I am a candidate, or to be one, it must be recollected I am or will be made so by others, and by no agency of mine in the matter. Under this State of things, should a majority of the good people of our country think proper to elevate me to the first office in their gift, or I may say the first in the world. I will feel bound to serve them, and will do so honestly and faithfully, to the best of my abilities, strictly in conformity to the provisions of the Constitution, as near as possible in the way it was acted on and construed by our Presidents, two of whom at least participated in creating and putting in operation that glorious instrument. But many important changes in our affairs at home and abroad may take place, between this and the time of holding the election for filling said office; so much so, as to make it desirable for the general good that some other individual than myself should be selected as a candidate for that station — and, could he be elected, I will not say that I would yield my pretensions to that distinguished position — for I have not the vanity to believe I have any — but I would not only acquiesce with pleasure in such an arrangement, but would rejoice that the republic had one citizen more worthy and better qualified than I am, and no doubt there are thousands, to discharge the arduous and important duties appertaining to that high office. Be this as it may, 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 enter on the duties appertaining to the Chief Magistrate of the country untrammeled and unpledged beyond what I
6have previously stated as regards the Constitution so that I could and would be President of the nation and not of a party.
For the interest you and other kind friends of the committee, and those you and they represent, take in my continued success against the enemy, while this war continues, which I sincerely hope will soon be brought to an honorable close, as well as I fear for the too flattering manner you have been pleased to connect my name with the distinguished office in question, and especially for the handsome and complimentary terms in which they have been communicated, are duly appreciated, and in which I beg leave to tender to you and through you to the gentlemen of the committee, collectively and individually, my most cordial thanks for the same.
With considerations of the highest respect and esteem, I remain, gentlemen,
Your ob' t and devoted serv't,
Major Gen. U. S. A.