The President's Letter to Professor Silliman

    Source citation
    “The President’s Letter to Professor Silliman,” New York Daily Times, 4 September 1857,
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    New York Times
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    The President's Letter to Professor Silliman
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    Patrick Sheahan
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    The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print.  Spelling and other typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

    The President’s Letter to Professor Silliman.

    Forty-three respectable citizens of Connecticut, being considerably dissatisfied with the manner in which GOVERNOR WALKER is at present managing matters in Kansas, thought proper to write a letter, expressive of their views and feelings, to President BUCHANAN. This letter they addressed to one Mr. HORATIO KING, of the Post Office Department, who kindly kept it in his pocket while the President was relaxing himself from the cares of office at the Springs, and, upon the return of the Chief Magistrate of the Union to Washington, handed it to him for his august perusal.

    Mr. BUCHANAN received the document, read it, reflected upon it, and thereupon answered it, and at considerable length. If he had been a Presidential candidate only, he could not have been more complaisant, though he might, perhaps, in that case have been somewhat less explicit than he has proved himself in this correspondence to be.

    The memorial we published yesterday, and we publish the reply of the President in full to day, conceding to it the considerable space which it occupies, more as a mark of respect to the National Executive than because of any particular value inherent in the production itself. The whole transaction strikes us as both superfluous and undignified. The letter of Mr. BUCHANAN, while it announces nothing which had not before been patent to the country in the policy of his Administration, deals with grave questions of State in the spirit rather of a politician than of a statesman, and is just as unsatisfactory as it was uncalled for. If a public demonstration from the head of the National Government can be provoked by any club of forty professors which may be organized in any part of the country, and can find a friendly agent among the Departmental clerks at Washington, the press will certainly be inundated with memorials and replies.

    If Mr. SILLIMAN and his forty friends thought that the President was aiding and abetting GOVERNOR WALKER in violating the laws of the land – if they conceived it to be their duty to cry aloud upon the occasion and spare not; and if they had made up their minds to thump the unrighteous incumbent of the chair to Washington with potent “prayers” – they might very properly have published their protest in the newspapers of Connecticut, and the President, if he chose, in his private capacity to notice the onslaught, might just as properly have taken Professor SILLIMAN to task in a private letter of reply. But why the whole country should be called in to witness this exchange of views between the friends of Mr. HORATIO KING on the one side, and the Hon. JAMES BUCHANAN on the other, we confess that we do not see.

    We therefore abstain from any comments upon a correspondence which is only a very uncomfortable indication that the relations which should exist between the people and the Government of this country are sadly misunderstood in quarters where we might have supposed that we had a right to look for intelligent patriotism.

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