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Andrew Jackson’s Farewell Address, Reflecting on His Long Public Service, and Martin Van Buren’s First Inaugural Address

[ANDREW JACKSON]. Newspaper. New York Observer, New York, N.Y., March 11, 1837. 4 pp., 18 x 25¼ in. Jackson’s address is on pp. 2-3 and Van Buren’s on p. 4.

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[Jackson]. “FELLOW-CITIZENS: Being about to retire finally from public life, I beg leave to offer you my grateful thanks for the many proofs of kindness and confidence which I have received at your hands. It has been my fortune in the discharge of public duties, civil and military, frequently to have found myself in difficult and trying situations, where prompt decision and energetic action were necessary, and where the interest of the country required that high responsibilities should be fearlessly encountered; and it is with the deepest emotions of gratitude that I acknowledge the continued and unbroken confidence with which you have sustained me in every trial. My public life has been a long one, and I can not hope that it has at all times been free from errors; but I have the consolation of knowing that if mistakes have been committed they have not seriously injured the country I so anxiously endeavored to serve, and at the moment when I surrender my last public trust I leave this great people prosperous and happy....

The necessity of watching with jealous anxiety for the preservation of the Union was earnestly pressed upon his fellow-citizens by the Father of his Country in his Farewell Address. He has there told us that “while experience shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those who in any quarter may endeavor to weaken its bands;” and he has cautioned us in the strongest terms against the formation of parties on geographical discriminations, as one of the means which might disturb our Union and to which designing men would be likely to resort.”

[Van Buren]. “The last, perhaps the greatest, of the prominent sources of discord and disaster supposed to lurk in our political condition was the institution of domestic slavery. Our forefathers were deeply impressed with the delicacy of this subject, and they treated it with a forbearance so evidently wise that in spite of every sinister foreboding it never until the present period disturbed the tranquillity [sic] of our common country. Such a result is sufficient evidence of the justice and the patriotism of their course; it is evidence not to be mistaken that an adherence to it can prevent all embarrassment from this as well as from every other anticipated cause of difficulty or danger. Have not recent events made it obvious to the slightest reflection that the least deviation from this spirit of forbearance is injurious to every interest, that of humanity included? Amidst the violence of excited passions this generous and fraternal feeling has been sometimes disregarded; and standing as I now do before my countrymen, in this high place of honor and of trust, I can not refrain from anxiously invoking my fellow-citizens never to be deaf to its dictates. Perceiving before my election the deep interest this subject was beginning to excite, I believed it a solemn duty fully to make known my sentiments in regard to it, and now, when every motive for misrepresentation has passed away, I trust that they will be candidly weighed and understood. At least they will be my standard of conduct in the path before me. I then declared that if the desire of those of my countrymen who were favorable to my election was gratified “I must go into the Presidential chair the inflexible and uncompromising opponent of every attempt on the part of Congress to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia against the wishes of the slaveholding States, and also with a determination equally decided to resist the slightest interference with it in the States where it exists.” ...It now only remains to add that no bill conflicting with these views can ever receive my constitutional sanction. These opinions have been adopted in the firm belief that they are in accordance with the spirit that actuated the venerated fathers of the Republic, an d that succeeding experience has proved them to be humane, patriotic, expedient, honorable, and just.”

Historical Background

In both of these speeches, the respective presidents invoke the Constitution and its framers along with the wisdom of the Revolutionary generation. Reflecting on the Nullification Crisis (1832) and South Carolina’s threats to secede, Jackson implores his countrymen to remain a united nation before turning to his old nemesis, paper money and the national bank.

Van Buren, though personally against slavery, declares that he will uphold the Constitutional protection of slavery during his term and remarks on the recently-imposed “Gag Rule,” which blocked anti-slavery petitions. The issue of slavery in the District of Columbia was a regular subject of these petitions.

Also includes religious news such as the “Evangelical Effort in France,” a “Mission to the Zulus in South Africa,” and news of two revivals, one in Middlebury, Vermont, and the other aboard the bark Oberlin at sea.

With articles on the “Temperance Cause in Sweden,” excerpts from the Journal of Congress regarding Texas Independence, and a memorial to the New York state legislature from the Quakers regarding the rights of fugitive slaves to receive jury trials.


Very good. Folded, minor foxing.

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