May 21 1812: Gallatin on the Vice Presidency

On May 21, 1812, Albert Gallatin, the Secretary of the Treasury, writes to Joseph Nicholson, a Maryland politician. The main topic is John Langdon who may decline the nomination for Vice President on the ticket with James Madison for President. Both had been nominated on May 18 1812 by the Democratic Republican Congressional Caucus. This will leave the party with Elbridge Gerry as the likely candidate. This is the Gerry, who recently lost the governorship in Massachusetts, and of gerrymandering fame. Gallatin does not like Gerry who is not popular and may give the President trouble. Gerry does have supporters. One supporter is John Adams, who on May 21, 1812 is writing to Thomas Jefferson about Gerry. He writes:  "Though Mr. Gerry is not too old for the most arduous Service, he is one of the earliest and oldest Legislators in the Revolution and has devoted himself, his fortune and his family in the Service of his Country." Gallatin's letter is reproduced below.

Dear Sir, - I am rejoiced to hear that you have succeeded in your cause ; and I am not sorry to see that you have once more taken a share in politics. I wish you would write to Langdon, earnestly requesting him not to decline the nomination to the Vice-Presidency. Two or three men had committed themselves with Seaver, he with Gerry, and from complaisance to him several votes were given to Gerry by persons within my knowledge in favor of Langdon. I fear that the Massachusetts people will attempt to make him decline, under pretence that it will unite ; and he is, I am told, anxious not to enter again in public life. But the fact that it would unite is not true. We want as much popularity as is attainable ; and Mr. Langdon's name is by far the most popular we can get. How beloved his person by all who know him I need not tell you. Gerry is, in both respects, the reverse; and I much fear that, if elected, he would give us as much trouble as our late Vice-President. If you think proper to write, do it immediately, as he will be called for an answer by the committee of correspondence. It would be most regular that the scrip should issue in the names of the subscribers ; but if the bank has no objection, I do not perceive any on the part of the Treasury that it should come out in your name as attorney-in-fact for the subscribers. James writes to me that Mr. Bouchard is dangerously sick. If not compelled by other reasons, you had better wait a few days, which will decide his fate, before you begin your journey. Truly yours.

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