I am heartily tired of Politics & everything connected with them, & envy those who are clear of such matters; & would greatly prefer quiet & retirement in a cabin or cottage than all the pomp & circumstance connected with the White House; the contest is now at hand & I will rejoice heartily when it is at an end, let it result as it may; & if I am defeated I shall not complain; on the contrary if it is my lot to reach the presidential office I shall enter on the important duties with the same, with greater apprehensions & anxiety than gratification or pride at reaching it.
12th President. Three-page autograph letter, unsigned as the signature area has been excised, September 25, 1848, Baton Rouge. On the heals of victory in the Mexican-War, national hero Taylor, dubbed “Old Rough and Ready”, writes to Colonel Edward George Washington Butler in his unmistakable hand. Offering the finest content we have ever seen from Taylor, the letter reads, in full:
On my return to this place a day or two since from East Pascagoula Mississippi where I had gone some five or six weeks since to attend to some matters connected with my official duties, & to afford my family for a short time the benefit of salt air & sea bathing, I found your acceptable & interesting letter of the 16th ulto., & I can truly say it afforded me much real pleasure to hear of your return to your home with the young gentlemen all well, & that you found your excellent Lady in the enjoyment of good health, which you have all continued to enjoy.
The duties which devolved on you at St. Louis of disbanding your Regt., a portion of whom had been associated with you for some time, in a way which attaches men most strongly to each other than any other pursuit in life that of arms, must have been attended with many unpleasant if not with painful reflections; I agree with you that it would have been desirable & advantageous to the country, if a portion if not the whole of your regt. at any rate those who wished to remain, had been continued in the service, to have aided in protecting our exposed citizens & keeping every
thing quiet on our greatly extended frontier. The army must be increased & at no distant day, & I hazard nothing in saying a more intelligent, gallant, & zealous set of officers will not be again brought together in any corps in the Service.
The course pursued by the majority in Congress touching the organization of the Oregon Territory was such as I expected, & predicted before I left Mexico, & I now foresee the same course will be pursued in regard to all new territories which may be organized for the time to come; the fact is, the Democrats of the North or the free states, in the management of the Mexican War & results growing out of it, have overreached their brethren of the slave holding states, & all questions of a political character in the country will be merged into that of free soil in less than twelve months. But I am heartily tired of Politics & everything connected with them, & envy those who are clear of such matters; & would greatly prefer quiet & retirement in a cabin or cottage than all the pomp & circumstance connected with the White House; the contest is now at hand & I will rejoice heartily when it is at an end, let it result as it may; & if I am defeated I shall not complain; on the
contrary if it is my lot to reach the presidential office I shall enter on the important duties with the same, with greater apprehensions & anxiety than gratification or pride at reaching it.
We are delighted to learn you, your good lady, & the Young Gentlemen have concluded to pay us a visit, & we will be happy to have you with us at our cottage any day after the first of October which is Sunday next, where you will receive the most hearty & cordial welcome.
Mrs. Taylor joins me in kindest regards to your brother self & the Young Gentlemen & accept our best wishes for the continued health & prosperity of you & yours through a long life.
[The close and signature have been excised.]
In the aftermath of the Mexican-American War, on November 7, 1848, Zachary Taylor of the Whig Party defeated Lewis Cass of the Democratic Party to become the nation’s 12th President.
This letter, despite missing the signature, touches upon so many important topics of the day as the Mexican-American War had come to its conclusion earlier in the year. Taylor openly discusses slavery and the ramifications of the expansion that winning the war allowed for would be a precursor to the Civil War a little more than a decade later. He makes an interesting distinction between the “North or the free states” and the “slave holding states.”
Although the letter is simply addressed “My dear Col.”, we know that the letter was sent to Edward G.W. Butler. The “Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N. Y.” by George Washington Cullum, published 1891, memorializes Colonel Edward George Washington Butler as follows:
Born in Tennessee and son of Captain Edward Butler, Adjutant-General of Major-General Wayne’s Army of the West, Edward G. Butler was a Cadet of the Military Academy from Sep. 14, 1816, to July 1, 1820, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army. He served on Topographical duty, Oct. 31, 1820, to Dec. 8, 1823; and as Aide-de-Camp to Bvt. Maj. General Gaines, and Acting Asst. Adjutant General of the Eastern and Western Departments, Dec. 8 1823, to May 28, 1831. Served in the War with Mexico, in command of the District of the Upper Rio Grande, Mex., Sep. 23, 1847, to June 30, 1848. Disbanded, July 31, 1848. Joined in the Rebellion of 1861-66, against the United States.