Jacksonian Democracy in Mississippi

By Edwin Arthur Miles | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
AN ANGRY AND EMBITTERED CONTEST

"I suppose you have seen General Jackson's letter. Glory!!"

Robert J. Walker

1

Several weeks before the abortive legislative session of 1835, George Poindexter returned to Washington to resume his duties as president pro tem of the Senate. Wearily disheartened by the diminishing prospect of his re-election, he publicly announced his withdrawal "from the Councils of the Nation, at the close of the present session of Congress," and expressed the "earnest wish that my country may never again stand in need of my services."2

Despite this declaration of impending retirement, Poindexter was unable to retreat from the political strife in the nation's capital. In December, 1834, Vice President Van Buren displayed "unusual punctuality" in attending to his responsibilities as presiding officer of the Senate; in the past he had waited until that body had organized before he took his seat. Poindexter took offense at a statement in a Democratic journal congratulating the Vice President for preserving the presiding officer's chair from being "disgraced by that bloated mass of corruption --Poindexter." The senator asked for and received from Van Buren a statement that his action had not been prompted by any such motive. Although an immediate quarrel was thus avoided, Van Buren was certain that the Mississippian would soon seek an occasion to reopen the controversy. So "for the first and only time in my life," the Vice President later wrote, he carried a pair of loaded pistols on his persons until he was finally convinced that Poindexter had decided to drop the matter.3

On December 31, when Congress held a special memorial service for the recently deceased Lafayette, Poindexter caught his first glimpse of Jackson since their brief encounter at Gordonsville. Observing the President during John Quincy Adams' eulogy on the Revolutionary hero, the senator was reportedly touched by his adversary's frail appearance. "He looked a broken down--a worn-out man," Poindexter later declared, "and I said to a group of my friends, that henceforth I could feel nothing but pity for him--that I could regard any thing which

____________________
1

Walker to John H. Mallory, August 31, 1835, in Jackson Mississippian, October 2, 1835.

2
Poindexter to a "Friend in Wilkinson County," December 31, 1834, in Washington United States Telegraph, March 16, 1835.
3
Fitzpatrick (ed.), Autobiography of Martin Van Buren, 758-61.

-102-

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Jacksonian Democracy in Mississippi
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Chapter I - "The Hog Round for Old Hickry" 3
  • Chapter II - A State Divided 18
  • Chapter III - Whole Hogs, Half Hogs, and Aristocrats 33
  • Chapter IV - A Senator of Lofty Bearing 44
  • Chapter V - A Nation Dividing 55
  • Chapter VI - Mr. Biddle's Bank 70
  • Chapter VII - The Jackson Star 87
  • Chapter VIII - An Angry and Embittered Contest 102
  • Chapter IX - Flush Times 117
  • Chapter X - Hard Times 130
  • Chapter XI - The Bargain of 1839 146
  • Chapter XII - A Last Look 160
  • Bibliography 172
  • Index 187
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