Their disagreement related to an investigation Tyler wanted over improprieties in the Land Office.
Tyler was the kind of man who needed to feel personal loyalty from those with whom he worked. He kept very close personal control of every aspect of patronage, rooting out the disloyal and finding ways to retain the loyalists. It was said he surrounded himself with "men who now have smiles...
Tyler was the kind of man who needed to feel personal loyalty from those with whom he worked. He kept very close personal control of every aspect of patronage, rooting out the disloyal and finding ways to retain the loyalists. It was said he surrounded himself with "men who now have smiles in their eyes and honey on their tongues, the better to cajole and deceive.” In April 1843, Tyler’s focus was on the annexation of Texas, a move he favored, and on launching a vigorous purge of federal officeholders hostile to his administration or his Texas ambitions. Spencer was his point man for the purge, which began in May 1843, with Spencer receiving instructions for the firings and new appointments directly from Tyler.
Tyler to his Treasury Secretary: "I am most happy in your note of this morning, which I have this moment read – and am entirely satisfied that the whole matter has arisen in misapprehension. Let it be forgotten."
In March 1843, Tyler found to his "regret and surprise" that accusations (likely of corruption) had been made against a Mr. Holmes, a clerk in the U.S. Land Office in Washington, during the time that Tyler loyalist Elisha Mills Huntington was its Commissioner. In April 1842, Tyler had named Huntington judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Indiana, and Huntington’s successor Thomas Blake now held the commissioner’s post. The Land Office was part of the Treasury Department, so the President forwarded the papers regarding this affair to Secretary of the Treasury John Spencer, requesting an investigation. Spencer must not have treated the idea of an investigation with sufficient respect, because on April 1, 1843, Tyler wrote him, rather peevishly, "That we may understand each other thoroughly I must say, that I will deny to myself no avenue of information as to the course of those in office under me." Spencer responded on April 2 with a recommendation on how to handle the matter that satisfied Tyler.
Not wanting any breach between himself and Spencer, for whom he knew he would have virtually immediate use, after receiving Spencer’s letter, Tyler took up his pen and reassured him that all was now well between them, and intimated that Huntington might have taken some kind of unspecified action on the matter previously. Autograph Letter Signed as President, Washington, April 2, 1843, to Spencer. “I am most happy in your note of this morning, which I have this moment read – and am entirely satisfied that the whole matter has arisen in misapprehension. Let it be forgotten. I shall take the course which you suggest as to the papers by sending them to Mr. Hakture and directing him to lay them before you. The subject to which they relate seems to have claimed the attention of Mr. Huntington the late commissioner of the land office, and may have been disposed of by him. I have no acquaintance with the accuser or accused.”
Tyler ALSs as President have become more difficult to find over the past decade, and this one, to a Cabinet member and relating to his control of office-holders, is our finest in years.
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