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Taylor, John W. (1784-1854)
Autograph Letter Signed, Aug. 11-14 [1830?] to Samuel Freeman, Saratoga Springs, New York

Quarto, three pages, plus stamp less address leaf. Significant letter with several faults: Lacking a first page or pages written at an earlier date than the remaining text. Band of staining across all 3 pages some holes in the paper, affecting signature and 3 or 4 lines of text on each page with the loss of several words.

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and gravity can not be unsuitable to one obliged to say with Job in affiliation ‘I am made to possess months of vanity and wearisome nights are appointed to me.’ But while I write Sarah Jane comes with Album in hand and asks if I remember the Jubilee party [50th anniversary of Independence], at the same tire presenting a memorial of a meeting sufficiently joyful, however, otherwise some reflections may now be arising from it. After the public exercises were over in which I made an oration acceptable to my friends, you with a few others came in the evening to close the celebration in my drawing room. In the course of conversation it was proposed all should write their names that it might be seen how many could be found at the next Jubilee. Sarah Janes album was honored with the entry as follows ‘Jubilee July 4, 1826 Samuel Freeman MD, Anson Brown [long list of names]… The simple copy tells a tale of grave import. In reviewing the past I find some political errors among these I reckon my refusal to be a candidate for nomination as governor. I preferred remaining in Congress, thinking it necessary to secure the election of Mr. Adams, as it proved in fact to be . Without the vote of the Saratoga district N.Y. would have been divided. With it my constant and earnest efforts barely saved the state. This event then considered so important to the country was likely injurious. As Jackson was to be President, it probably would have been less injurious in 1825 than 4 years after when his passions had become heated by the protracted contest. At the first period he would have fallen into the hands of safe counsellors. Mr. Adams honored me by asking my advice whether if Jackson was elected he ought to remain secretary of state. To which I said yes with good reasons.


               Clay too might have occupied an eminent post. And even Calhoun saved from the comet course of disappointed ambition. In my last conversation with Calhoun he attributed the political calamities of the country to the error above mentioned.  But we acted uprightly and did not foresee the folly to which demagogues would lead the people. Again. In the office of governor I should have exerted the proper influence of the station to prevent or at least to postpone mad projects which have involved debt, until the enlargement of the Erie canal was completed. This last work can not be delayed without serious injury from the competition of the Welland, Pennsylvania and Chesapeake & Ohio canals. I might enlarge but am admonished to forbear. With all my offences and imperfections, this comfort remains. My conscience acquits me of any vote or act against the public good or the very right of the case, according to my judgment after diligent examination or any neglect to vote in Congress or the legislature. Nor can I recollect any offence growing out of envy, hatred or revenge. The prosperity of others has always given me pleasure and I have forborne to retaliate injuries against my bitter enemies when effectual means were in my hands; feeling how much I needed forgiveness of God I sought to practice it towards others. If I have been saved from this class of offences I attribute it under Providence in a good degree to the wise counsels of my excellent mother who in early youth impressed my mind with a horror of malignant passions by shewing their natural tendency to lead to the catastrophy exhibited by Cain. Her counsels were forceably brought to mind by a toast given at the semicentennial celebration at Union college. ‘The lectures delivered form the chair of a pious sensible mother.’ These I have felt from experience constitute the best part of education. The toast is form memory not literal but the substance of Bishop Doane’s remarks and sentiments


              I fear you will find this epistle very tedious. From day to day I have taken en in hand as I felt able to write a few lines. By concentrating the vision and partly by habit I make out to write that, which it is more difficult to read for correction. I therefore send it with all its errors…


            Aug. 14 P.S.Owing to some mistake Mrs. C. left without [?] Oscar is to be here in a few days on his way to NY and will take it. We now have a visit from my nephew Elisha T. and his wife and Ann Eliza Holllister. Mr H has left Burnt Hills and has a fine farm in Elba Gennessee Co. 7 m. from Batavia. I hear that Mrs C makes her first visit at Glens Falls and returns hence to Saratoga. Her mother well remembers Mrs GF before marriage. The Western Reserve College at the village of Hudson near this keeps up the New England custom of having the commencement proceeded by aconcio ad clerum address to the clergy, herewith I send a page noticing the address of Mr. C. the medical department of the College is stablished in this city, where the U.S. are no erecting a hospital on a spacious lot, years since purchasing it for the purpose. Aug. 21”


              John W. Taylor was in his fifties when he wrote this retrospective letter, recalling his years of service as Speaker of the US House of Representatives in the 1820s, during which he saw John Quincy Adams defeated for the Presidency by Andrew Jackson (that being the foundation of the two-party political system in America), guided the Missouri Compromise through the Congress and was boldly critical of his southern colleagues who insisted that Slavery was essential to their existence. After leaving Congress, he returned to his law practice in upstate New York, at which time he wrote his retrospective letter.


       John W. Taylor (March 26, 1784 – September 18, 1854) was an early 19th-century U.S. politician from New York. He served twice as speaker of the House of Representatives.


       Taylor was born in 1784 in that part of the Town of Ballston, then in Albany County, New York, which was, upon the creation of Saratoga County in 1791, split off to form the Town of Charlton. He received his first education at home.


       Taylor graduated from Union College in 1803 as valedictorian of his class. Then he studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1807, and practiced in Ballston Spa, New York. In 1806, he married Jane Hodge (died 1838), of Albany, New York, and they had eight children. He was a member from Saratoga County of the New York State Assembly in 1812 and 1812–13.


       Taylor served in the United States House of Representatives for 20 years, from 1813 to 1833, and was twice elected as Speaker of the House: in 1820 and in 1825. In 1819, he supported the proposed Tallmadge Amendment regarding the Missouri Territory’s admission to the Union as a free state (which passed the House, but was defeated in the Senate), and was a staunch proponent of the subsequent Missouri Compromise of March 1820. During the floor debate on the Tallmadge Amendment, Taylor boldly criticized southern lawmakers who frequently voiced their dismay that slavery was entrenched and necessary to their existence.


       After leaving Congress, Taylor resumed his law practice in Ballston Spa, and was a member of the New York State Senate (4th D.) in 1841 and 1842. He resigned his seat on August 19, 1842, after suffering a paralytic stroke. In 1843, he moved to Cleveland, Ohio, to live with his eldest daughter and her husband William D. Beattie and died there 11 years later.[2] He was buried in the Ballston Spa Village Cemetery.