The Papers of Jefferson Davis
 
The Papers of Jefferson Davis

This portrait of unknown origin, depicting Davis in the 1880s, hangs in the office of The Papers of Jefferson Davis, located at Rice University in Houston, TX

 

  To William R. Cannon 

Washington D.C.  13th Dec. 1853 

Confidential 

My Dear Sir,

The constant pressure of business has caused me to postpone from day to day the reply to your kind inquiry as to my wish in relation to the election of an U. S. Senator. Your letter of the 5th Inst. awakes me to the fact that my delay has been such as to expose me to the charge of neglect. Be assured that my regard for you is too high to permit such a purpose even had not your letter added another to the many obligations I have had heretofore to acknowledge. Major Griffith must have written to you what he supposed from my formerly expressed feelings would be my present position, as I have not written to him for a long time and I believe never on the subject of the Senatorial election. Before agreeing to enter the Cabinet I informed the President that my friends might bring my name forward for the U. S. Senate and that should I be elected they could not doubt I would accept, as my rule of conduct was known to be that of serving wherever my friends judged proper to require me, and my principle being that my first allegiance was to the state of which I was a citizen.

I have expressed no wish upon the subject and have not been willing that my friends should attach importance to the pride I would certainly feel in receiving such an endorsement as would answer the industriously circulated report that I had been tried and condemned by the constituents.

In the fierce controversy of 1851 I became especially odious to the “Union men” and I have not overlooked the probability of division in the democratic ranks as the consequence of the presentation of my name and I trust I need not to assure you that no personal distinction would to me be a compensation for such an event. I will go further and say that unless as a mark of approval of my former course in the senate a reelection would be valueless.

I have retracted nothing have repented of nothing and in like controversy would reenact my former deeds. Looking this question straight in the face, I see that it may be necessary to set me aside in order that the two men who most excite the renewal of the controversy of 1851 shall alike be surrendered to the purpose of party reunion. I should be less devoted to Democracy than I believe myself to be if I could complain of being used as a sacrifice for the good of my party.

In my present position I am sufficiently /content/ and have a field of usefulness wide enough to satisfy me, so far as I have any desire for public employment though a post in the Cabinet was reluctantly accepted, since I have undertaken the duties my interest in them has increased and I have found my relations with the administration very agreeable. I preferred the Senate to any other public post, and have never been quite easy under the supposition that the state I love with the fondness of a Son had weighed /me/ against an empty demagogue and found me wanting.

My dear Sir believe me to be only desirous that I should be used as wisdom may indicate and that I will be content so that a state rights Democrat is elected to the Senate. I write under much interruption and haste & as the mail closes so soon that I have not time to read what I have written I must leave you to fill up all that is wanting and to construe by supposing yourself in my position. Then with the better knowledge you have of affairs at home you cannot fail to make up a judgement which will satisfy me.  

Present me in kindest terms to your good lady and believe me very sincerely your friend

                                                                                                Jeffn,, Davis

 

From The Papers of Jefferson Davis, Volume 5, pp. 52-53.  Transcribed from the original in the Library of Congress, Cannon Papers.

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The Papers of Jefferson Davis
Rice University--MS 43
P.O. Box 1892
Houston, Texas 77251-1892
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E-mail: davis@rice.edu