Frankfort -- Ky -- July 29th 1858
Your letter of the 7th Inst: must have been long delayed on the way, as it was not received till a few days ago. The acquaintance to which you allude as having once, but long ago, existed between us, is still freshly remembered by me, & the favorable sentiments of personal regard & respect with which it impressed me, I have ever since retained.
You are entitled to be frank with me, and you will be best pleased, I think, with frankness on my part -- and in that spirit, I will endeavour to reply to your letter.
Mr Douglas & myself have always belonged to different parties, opposed, in politics, to each other; but it so hapened that at the last session of Congress we concurred & acted together in opposing the enforcement of the Lecompton Constitution upon the people of Kansas. I regarded that measure as a gross violation of principle and good faith, and fraught with danger to the country. Mr Douglas's opposition to it was highly gratifying to me. The position taken by him, was full of sacrafice, & full of hazard, yet he took it, and he defended it, like a Man.
For this he had my warm approbation and sympathy -- and, when it was understood, that, for the very course of conduct, in which I had concurred & participated, the angry power of the Administration & its party was to be employed to defeat his re-election to the Senate, in Illinois, I could not but wish for his success -- and his triumph over such a persecution-- I thought that his re-election was necessary as a rebuke to the Administration, and a vindication of the great cause of popular rights & public justice.
In this statement you will find the origin & state of my present feelings in regard to Mr Douglas-- They sprung up naturally & spontaneously in my mind -- were entirely unconnected with mere party calculations and most certainly, did not include a single particle of personal unkindness or opposition to you.
These sentiments in regard to Mr Douglas; & his conduct on the occasion alluded to, were frequently openly & ardently avowed by me, in many conversations, at Washington and elsewhere-- I must confess that I still entertain them, & what ever I do, must correspond with them-- But
I have it has so happened, that I have, in fact done very little in the matter-- Since the adjournment of Congress I have not written a single letter to any person in Illinois-- During its session, I do not remember to have written more than three or four, & these were, in every instance, I believe, written in reply to letters received from In some of these letters, possibly in all, Mr Douglas was alluded to & recommended-- This is all that I have done-- But I have now on my table several letters from citizens of your State, on the subject to which I could not forbear replying without subjecting myself to imputations of insincerity or timidity-- One of these letters, for instance, requests me to say whether I did not, at Washington, have a certain conversation with the writer concerning Mr Douglas &c. To these letters I must answer in a proper manner-- As to the future, Sir, I can not undertake to promise or to impose any restriction upon my conduct -- that must be regulated under whatever circumstances may exist, by my sense of propriety & duty. But this I can truly say to you, that I have no disposition for officious intermeddling -- and that I should be extremely sorry to give offence or cause mortification to you or any of my Illinois friends-- Whatever my future course may be, I trust that I shall so act as to give no just cause of offence to any candid & liberal friend, even tho' he may differ with me in opinion.
I have thus explained to you my situation, & the cause & state of my feelings on the occasion, & now leave the subject to you with every confidence in your justice & liberality--
What I have said in relation to Mr Douglas may be regarded as applying in all material respects to Mr Harris, your present Representative in Congress.
In the effort to make myself perfectly understood, I have made this letter long & tedious-- Excuse that, & believe me to be,
Very truly & Respectfully,
J J Crittenden