An Old Soldier to the Editors of The Old Soldier, 1 February 1840
To the Editors of the Old Soldier.
Gentlemen: I was at the battle of Tippecanoe, under Gen. Harrison, and at the battle of New Orleans, under Gen. Jackson. I knew both of these distinguished individuals intimately—both in war and in peace. I have already had the pleasure of voting for Gen. Jackson, to fill the highest station in the gift of man, three times; first. in 1824, secondly in 1828 and lastly in 1832; and, if I live, my intention is to vote for Gen. Harrison, for the same high station, in November next. A man always acts safely, in voting for Gen. Jackson and Gen. Harrison. In youth and in age, in war and in peace, their services were ever at their country’s call; and in all the situations in which their eventful lives have been cast, they were never found wanting in the high qualities of mind and heart which adorn the statesman, the civilian or the warrior.
In hours of soberness and contemplation, I have often contrasted the character of Gen. Jackson with that of Gen. Harrison. The first is a man of the boldest and most striking points; more under the influence of feeling, of stronger partialities and prejudices, and, on some occasions, will suffer his feelings to control his judgment; uninfluenced by prejudice, his mind is clear and strong, and always honest. To his strong prejudices and feelings, are to be attributed his public acts of doubtful policy, and which, by his enemies, have been considered high-handed and arbitrary; but, knowing the honesty of his motives, I could always overlook any error of his administration, believing it safer to trust a man of his tried patriotism, than another of more doubtful honesty, altho’ his policy of government, in some points, might better coincide with my own.
Gen. Harrison likewise possesses a strong
<Page 2>mind, and one that is highly improved by education. He lacks that impulsiveness, boldness and decision of character, which distinguishes Gen. Jackson; is more prudent; however, always thinks before he acts, on any important subject; and, in his final decision, is not so apt to be influenced by partiality or prejudice. Gen. Jackson, in all places, and in all his associations, shows himself the firm, commanding, military man. Gen. Harrison, on the contrary, except in his tall and finely proportioned figure, has but little of the military air; is modest and retiring in his manners; plain in dress; fond of reading, the company of his friends, and all agricultural pursuits.
As Governor of the North West, as delegate and Senator in Congress, as Commande[r]-in-chief of the Northwestern Army, as Minister to Columbia, as the PLAIN FARMER of Ohio, and as the humble clerk of a county court, he carries the same plain, familiar and unassuming character. Should he be elected to the high station which his friends soon wish to raise him, thirty years’ acquaintance warrants me in saying he will carry the same amicable and generous character to the White House in Washington.
In all the situations above named, I have seen and known Gen. Harrison. He was never vain of promotion, and when his time of service had expired, like Cincinnatus, he sunk into retirement, and assumed the cultivation of his farm with the same cheerfulness and complaisance that he left it.
He is now about sixty-six years of age; grey and war-worn in person, but vigorous in intellect; poor in fortune, and as clerk of one of the courts in Cincinnati, is earning his daily bread. He could have been rich; and when Governor or Indian Agent of Indiana, and what is more, Illinois, had frequent offers of property that would have made him and his family wealthy; but he always refused, saying he was a public man, and fearing it might be thought he was acting for himself, and not for the public; he would never engage in any speculation, but honestly and faithfully discharged the high duties of his office. Happy would our country be, if, in these swartwouting times, all her offices were filled by such men.1 Surrounded, as he was, by all the allurements of speculation, and the certainty of wealth, with unlimited credit, and thousands of the public money in his pocket, he never used improperly one cent, or failed to account, like an honest man, for every farthing.
Such is the characterof Gen. Harrison.—I care not what his politics are. I know him to be honest, I know him to be capable, and I know him to be a true and a tried friend of his country. Let him be called federalist, republican, locofoco, democrat or whig—I care not which—I know he is Patriot, and that the country will be safe in his hands.
Then, let every American, every friend of his country, go to the polls in November, and vote for Gen. Wm. Henry Harrison to be President of these United States. This is what I shall do, if I live to that day. Mr. Van Buren is a man of talent—I voted for him once, when Gen. Harrison was not the ostensible candidate—but he has no claims for services rendered to his country, beyond a thousand more of it, and not to compare with Gen. Harrison’s. Moreover, he has served one term, and that’s enough. Gen. Jackson thought so, and said so; but circumstances rather compelled his friends to elect him twice. Gen. Harrison, too, believes in but one term, and that he will be elected to serve that term, by a majority like that which was given to Gen. Jackson, is the earnest belief and prayer ofAN OLD SOLDIER.
1Reference to Samuel Swartwout, collector of the Port of New York during the Jackson and Van Buren administrations, who allegedly embezzled over $1,ooo,ooo and fled the country in 1839. Abraham Lincoln and other Whigs during the 1840 presidential campaign cited Swartwout as typical of the corruption plaguing the Van Buren administration.
Daniel Walker Howe, What God Hath Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 334; Speech on the Sub-Treasury.
Printed Transcription, 2 page(s), The Old Soldier (Springfield, IL), 1 February 1840, 2:4, 3:1