John Tyler: His Cabinet Problems, Franklin Pierce’s Election, and Presidential Etiquette

November 25, 1852

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John Tyler: His Cabinet Problems, Franklin Pierce’s Election, and Presidential Etiquette
Autograph Letter Signed
3 pages | SMC 1049

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      Background

      This fine letter to a friend covers the election of Pierce, Tyler’s recollection of his Cabinet debacle, and a discussion of presidential etiquette…
       
      The election of Pierce is full of bright promise. His main job will be “to consolidate still more firmly the old Republican party for the sake of the Constitution and Union.” Whom he will pick for his Cabinet, Tyler cannot say. All he knows is that when he was President and five of his ministers resigned en masse, he had only a few hours to put together a Cabinet: Pierce, he notes, has three months. Whatever he does, however, Tyler is sure he will do well. As for inviting Pierce to visit at Sherwood Forest, Tyler cannot do this, for fear of imposing, by the very act of an invitation, upon the Presidential prerogative: “The President has the right to presume that his company will at all times and places be acceptable,” Tyler writes, “and therefore no previous invitation is necessary.” He gives an example, from his own term in office, of this “rule," which he deems “correct.” A letter of congratulations to Pierce is also out of the question: Tyler says his course during the election is sufficient evidence of his feeling, without more being said.  He closes by asking Cunningham to keep him apprised of “public matters” and inviting him to visit, whenever he pleases.


      Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pages, recto and verso,  quarto, Sherwood Forest [Virginia], November 25, 1852. With integral address leaf and carrying a free frank (“J. Tyler”). To Colonel John S. Cunningham.
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      Sherwood Forest
      Nov. 25. 1852

      My Dear Sir;

      Your two letters are before me and I have to acknowledge their receipt in some haste as mail horses have arrived--  The election of Genl [sic] Pierce is full of bright promise. His sagacity will I doubt not bring the blossoms to perfection so that in due season the country will enjoy the ripe fruit-- I have indulged in no speculation relative to his cabinet nor do I suppose he has matured his own opinions-- I was forced to make a cabinet upon the resignation of five members in [text is crossed out] a few hours - but he has still three months to deliberate in, and I trust his work when it is done, will be well done. The great work before him is to consolidate still more firmly the old Republican Party for the sake of the Constitution and Union-- I do not doubt but that he will do it--  I have therefore indulged in no cabinet speculations, preferring to leave 

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      that matter to the safe hands in which the election has placed it--

      I should be quite happy to have the General under my roof but his being here is a matter for his own unsolicited decision-- The President has the right to presume that his company will at all times and places be acceptable, and therefore no previous invitation is necessary-- Such was the rule adopted by my old colleague Taswell on a visit of mine to Norfolk. He invited my suite, but left it to me without invitation to be at his dinner or not as unsolicited I might choose--  I think the rule is correct-- Should Genl Pierce think proper to visit me he will be welcomed after the plain but cordial manner of my ancestors-- But I cannot invite him to do so. As to a letter of congratulation from me as you suggest, it is entirely useless-- My course during the election is sufficient evidence of my feelings, without more said--

      Write me often and keep me advised of public matters & come when you please either with or without 

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      your wife--

      Very Truly Y[ou]rs

      JOHN TYLER


      Col. Cunningham

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      J. Tyler

      [...]
      Nov. 25

      Col. John S. Cunningham
      Washington City
      D. of C.