James Buchanan Defends His “Public Conduct” Prior to the Outbreak of the Civil War

December 1, 1862

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James Buchanan Defends His “Public Conduct” Prior to the Outbreak of the Civil War
Autograph Letter Signed
2 pages | SMC 1075

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      Background

      Having left the presidency under a cloud of charges – vacillation, timidity, misjudgment and even treasonable sympathies – Buchanan spent the rest of his life defending his policy, his character and his reputation. Here he responds to the rare positive assessment of his leadership:
       
      Please to accept my thanks for your kind & favorable opinion of my public conduct.  Although retired from all active participation in politicks [sic]& living in retirement. I cannot be insensible to the good opinion of my fellow citizens concerning my administration. I am grateful to know that you have steadfastly vindicated my course whenever this has been questioned. I trust you may never find cause to entertain different sentiments.
       
      The “vindication” that Buchanan longed and worked for never came. He is today consistently ranked as among America’s worst presidents.


      Autograph Letter Signed, 2 pages, recto and verso, octavo, Wheatland, near Lancaster [Pennsylvania],  December 1, 1862. To James H. Beardsley.
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      Wheatland, near Lancaster

      1 December 1862.

      My dear Sir /

      Please to accept my thanks for your kind & favorable opinion of my public conduct. Although [text is crossed out] retired from all active participation in politicks [sic] & living in retirement, I cannot be insensible to the ^good opinion of my fellow citizens concerning my administration. I am grateful to know that you have steadfastly vindicated my course whenever this has been questioned. I trust you may never find cause to entertain different sentiments.

      Yours very respectfully,

      JAMES BUCHANAN


      Mr. James H Beardsley.

      P.S. I send you a copy of my special 

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      message of the 8 January 1861, which I find in the York Gazette, supposing that you may take some interest in it.