Hall, Hiland
Autograph Letter Signed as Member of Congress from Vermont. Washington, DC. February 29, 1840, to Leonard Sargent, Manchester, Vermont, a member of the state Legislature and later Lt. Governor of Vermont

quarto, 4 pp. including stampless address leaf with signed Free Frank, hole from seal opening with no significant loss of text, in good, clean, and legible condition.

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      “…We are all in the highest spirits on the subject of the Presidential election. I do not think there is a Whig in Congress but most truly and sincerely believes that Gen. Harrison will be elected President, and it is generally thought by a very large majority. And I have good reason to believe such is the present expectation of the leading administration men, including Mr. Van Buren himself. It is said the administration has it under consideration to make some new movement in reference to the currency in order to escape from their present dilemma, and that Mr. Forsyth in particular is in favor of what he terms a Bank of Exchanges. I do not think any new movement can be agreed on, and if agreed on that it could help the administration. Any new move would be more likely to drive off old friends than to gain new ones.


The party are determined to put Vroom Dickinson and Co. from New Jersey in the vacant seats pro tem, on the strength of the votes polled, without reference to the legality. Notwithstanding the amendment to the resolution by adding the word ‘lawful’, the committee by the casting vote of their Nullifying chairman will make the same report as if the word had not been added. I think the work will be accomplished in about two weeks, perhaps sooner. Perhaps the more summary the process by which the outrage is committed the better for the Whigs.”

Written two months after the first Whig National Convention nominated General William Henry Harrison for President – and three months before the Democratic National Convention nominated incumbent President Martin Van Buren as his opponent. Van Buren’s chances for a second term were hampered by the economic downturn which had begun the year before – the start of the first great American Depression – which the electorate blamed on Democratic financial policies. Harrison, a popular hero of war against the northwest Indians in 1811, would win by an electoral vote margin of 234 to 60, and then tragically died unexpectedly shortly after his Inauguration.

The Whigs would also win a majority in both houses of Congress in that election, this despite the electoral dispute in New Jersey, discussed in the letter, in which former New Jersey Governors Peter Vroom and Philemon Dickerson and three other Democrats would successfully challenge the congressional election of five Whigs as certified by the sitting Whig Governor of the state.

The writer was a member of Congress for 10 years before going on to hold a number of other public offices including United States Land Commissioner for Gold Rush California and Governor of Vermont on the eve of the Civil War, being a member of the “Peace Convention” of 1861 which tried in vain to find a means of preventing the impending conflict that would tear the nation apart.