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Lot 70: Andrew Jackson Autograph Letter Signed as President to Telegraph Magnate Amos Kendall
Presidential Letters, Free Franks & Speeches: Washington to Bush + Important Autographs in History, Science & the Arts
26 October 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Description: JACKSON, ANDREW. (1767-1845). Seventh president of the United States. ALS. (“Andrew Jackson” & “AJ”). As president. 1p. 4to. N.p., March 4, 1832. To lawyer, journalist, telegraph magnate, and politician AMOS KENDALL (1789-1869), who, as postmaster general, became one of Jackson’s most influential cabinet members. Marked “(Private)” in Jackson’s hand. ********** “Our mutual friend Mr. McLane spoke to me today to have you to made out a copy of my reply to the address of the members of the Legislature of New York – Whilst copying it, the enclosed paper came to hand. I hasten to hand it to you, that it may appear in the Globe tomorrow with such appropriate remarks as it may be deemed proper to make. In haste… P.S. Send the paper back when done with it. P.S. I will be happy to see you tomorrow after 12 for a few minutes. A.J.” ********** Prior to his presidency, Jackson held several public offices, representing the people of Tennessee in the House of Representatives and the Senate before being appointed a judge in state superior court. He was a major general of the Tennessee militia during the War of 1812, became embroiled in the Creek War and won a decisive victory against the British at the Battle of New Orleans. Later, as commander of the southern district, Jackson invaded Florida, leading to the U.S. seizure of the Spanish-owned territory. This conquest bolstered his popular support and played no small role in his election to the presidency in 1828, which ushered in the so-called era of Jacksonian Democracy. He left office after two terms far more popular than when he entered. ********** Kendall was interested in politics from an early age but his entrée into political circles came in an unusual way: he tutored Congressman Henry Clay’s children and found special favor with his wife, Lucretia. Kendall was determined, however, not to spend his life as a teacher, and though he briefly practiced law, he found great success as the editor and publisher of several newspapers, including the influential Frankfort, Kentucky Argus of Western America. His own political career began in earnest in 1829 when he was appointed fourth auditor of the Department of the Treasury, his position at the time of this letter. From May 1835 through 1840, he served as Jackson’s postmaster general. “Although now largely forgotten, Amos Kendall had more than his fifteen minutes of fame. Among the most influential members of Andrew Jackson’s ‘Kitchen Cabinet,’ his name was broadcast throughout the country, newspapers often referring to him simply as ‘Amos,’” (“A Jackson Man: Amos Kendall and the Rise of American Democracy,” Civil War History,). ********** Although the United States Telegraph was initially the Jackson administration’s official newspaper, after the Petticoat Affair it was replaced (with Kendall’s help) by the Washington Globe during which time “the zenith of importance of official organs was reached,” (“The Establishment and rise of the Washington Globe: A Phase of Jacksonian Politics,” Eriksson). Prior to the mid-19th century, “various newspapers, designated ‘official organs,’ played a very important part in the political life,” of the United States… The official organ was a newspaper supported largely by government patronage. It received the printing of the executive departments and also the printing of Congress if the friends of the administration were in control of that body,” (ibid.). Our letter, communicating several matters that Jackson wished to appear in the Washington Globe, was written during the tense days of the Nullification Crisis, prompted by South Carolina’s objection to the Tariff of 1828, which had been engineered by New York Democrats and which Jackson’s vice president, John C. Calhoun (from South Carolina), opposed. The 55th New York State Legislature was dominated by Jacksonian Democrats and had been led by Martin Van Buren, who, at the time of our letter, was serving as U.S. Minister to Great Britain and later became Jackson’s secretary of state, vice president and, eventually, his successor in the Oval Office. ********** Under Jackson, Louis McLane (1786-1857), previously a senator from Delaware, served as minister to the United Kingdom but, with the 1831 cabinet purge brought about by the Petticoat Affair, McLane was appointed secretary of the Treasury. In that capacity he played no small part in the Nullification Crisis and also clashed with Jackson over the latter’s opposition to renewing the charter of the Second Bank of the United States. McLane was a powerful and persuasive leader and, in December 1831, presented a comprehensive plan for re-chartering the bank and dismissing the national debt. Jackson, unable to agree with McLane’s proposal, but loathe to lose his leadership, appointed him secretary of state in 1833. ********** As postmaster, Kendall rooted out corruption while, at the same time, allowing postal officials to stop delivery of abolitionist literature in the South and manipulating the mail to ensure faster delivery of pro-Jackson newspapers. Poor health led to Kendall’s resignation, after which he was subjected to numerous lawsuits seeking financial compensation for his dealings while postmaster. Although he was eventually acquitted, his finances suffered and he was forced to resume his law practice. His prosperity was assured, however, after he became Samuel F.B. Morse’s business manager and partner in 1845 and established the Magnetic Telegraph Company, the first privately owned telegraph line in the country, which turned Kendall into a wealthy man. He was the founder of the Columbia Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb, later renamed Gallaudet University. ********** Folded with some paper loss along the edges and several small closed tears. Normal wear and in very good condition.