“Letter From Ex-President Tyler on Gen. Pillow’s Address,” New York Times, 30 September 1857, p. 1.
New York Times
Letter from Ex-President Tyler on Gen. Pillow's Address
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.
Letter From Ex-President Tyler on Gen. Pillow’s Address.
From the Richmond South.
New-York. Tuesday, Sept. 22, 1857.
MY DEAR SIR: Owing to my absence from home, it is only this morning that I have been informed of your call upon me through your paper of the 14th inst. to furnish an explanation to the public of the extraordinary statement to be found in Gen. PILLOW’S late letter, which he bases on the authority of Mr. TRIST, that, during the negotiation of the Washington Treaty, and to secure its consummation, I had used $500,000 out of the secret service fund in purchase of the political press of the state of Maine. The letter is not before me, but I quote the substance of the statement. I confess that the utter absurdity of the statement had consigned it to the same class with the many similar ascriptions and absurdities which have from time to time been alleged against me and my Administration and which I have regarded as wholly unworthy of notice. I am only surprise that one so enlightened as Gen PILLOW is esteemed to be, should have regarded so ridiculous a statement as worthy of repetition. FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS FROM THE SECRET SERVICE FUND IN PURCHASE OF THE PRESS OF THE STATE OF MAINE! If Gen. PILLOW had taken the precaution to have looked into the acts of Congress making appropriation to the contingent fund for diplomatic intercourse commonly known as the secret service fund, he would have seen that the largest amount appropriated any one year, during the time of my official residence in Washington, did not exceed $30,000 and that inasmuch as the negotiation referred to occurred in 1842, there had at the time been but a single appropriation made to the fund, and that of the session of 1841-2, I think it would have puzzled COCKER to have obtained $500,000 out of $30,000.
I will take occasion to add that the fund, although called secret, is as public in most of its outlays as any other fund belonging to the Government. It is applicable to the many items growing out of the necessities of foreign missions and the consular establishment of the United States, which no specific appropriation could well cover. They are contingent, the very term implying their uncertainty. The expenditures for those contingencies enter into the general accounts of the Government, and are annually published, and absorb a large portion of the fund. It often happens that not a dollar is withdrawn from the fund for any confidential object of the Government. Such confidential objects sometimes intervene in our intercourse with foreign countries, and sometimes have their origin within our own limits – contingencies which it may be imprudent at the time to disclose, but which are intimately connected with the preservation of peace and quietude. Some such contingencies arose during my official residence in Washington; and I have only to add, that when I left that city I directed the agent of the fund to file away in a drawer of the State Department the vouchers for all the expenditures made under my orders out of that fund; and the day has nearly come when I shall be perfectly willing to have that drawer laid open to the inspection of any one who possesses any curiosity to look into it. Certainly, he would find no item for the purchase of the newspapers of the State of Maine, or of any other State – and, with a proper explanation of the objects of the expenditure, but little or nothing to disapprove of.
Be pleases to put down these brief explanations to the respect which I have for you personally, and believe me to be,
Truly and faithfully yours, &c.,
To Mr. PRYOR