Alexander Stephens, Future Confederate Vice President, Rants Against Congress Refunding Andrew Jackson’s War of 1812 Fine
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“Today is the ‘memorable 8th’ and the Party in Power chose this as the day to pass in the House the Bill to refund to Genl Jackson the fine imposed on him at New Orleans. I tried hard to get the floor to make a speech upon an amendment I had proposed – which was to pay the amount of the fine without reFlection [?] upon the judge – but the Locos would not let me. They ‘gagged’ all discussion and I was not permitted to say anything on my amendment. A more outrageous proceeding I hardly ever witnessed. I was the more anxious to make a speech…misstated by the Globe reporter.” ALEXANDER STEPHENS.
Autograph Letter Signed by Alexander H. Stephens, January 8, 1844. With integral address leaf franked “Free A.H. Stephens MC.” 3 pp., 8 x 10 in.
Andrew Jackson had been fined $1,000 for detaining a federal judge and unconstitutionally imposing martial law in New Orleans immediately following his famous victory over the British on January 8, 1815. Jackson called on his allies in Congress in 1842 to pass a bill refunding the fine. His enemies within The Whig party, which controlled both the House and Senate, flatly rejected the proposal. But Democrats, looking for a rallying cry in an election year, successfully seized upon the issue and used Jackson’s status as a war hero to take back the House in the next election. On the date of this letter – the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans – Democrats passed a bill providing for the refund by a landslide.