To the Public

Transcribed by Mark Fleszar, Georgia State University, 2007.

The Floridian & Advocate (Tallahassee), 14 May 1831

From the Pensacola Gazette & Chronicle.


I have seen in the Courier of the 21st ult. a scurrilous production over the signature of Wm. P. Duval. The style and manner of the publication show, that it could only proceed from one who has neither the character nor feelings of a gentleman. The evident object of it was to produce some effect upon my election: the sentiments contained in it, when separated from its ribaldry are of that characteristic grossness, which must excite the disgust of all men of sense and honor.

I can never condecend to enter into a contest with Governor Duval in Billingsgate abuse: I lively concede to him a pre-eminence in that department; and if he was in any wise as distinguished for what is honorable and useful, the people of the Territory would not have so much cause to deplore the misfortune of having so unworthy a Governor. The controversy in which I find myself most reluctantly engaged; has been forced upon me, because I did not refuse to a citizen of the Territory the constitutional right of presenting a petition to the constituted authorities for a redress of grievances. I never saw the answer to that petition, although I requested it verbally and in writing. I understood that it consisted of little else than low and vulgar abuse upon the petitioner. I never saw the statements “of respectable citizens,” mentioned by Governor Duval; and I do “dare to deny” that I had any information on the subject. A part only of the letter do Crane was read to me by the President himself; I had no permission to take a copy of the letter to Mr. Donelson; and the idea that Governor Duval wishes to propagate, that he had no objection to its being seen, is a most unfounded falsehood. He says he can maintain every thing in that letter; I say unequivocally that he cannot. He says I wrote the petition for Mr. Kingsley: it is untrue—and he knew it to be so. He gave an account of the manner in which the petition was obtained from Mr. K.—false in all its parts, and I pledge myself to prove it, if he will dare publish the letter to Mr. Donelson. Whether in the other parts of the letter in which he tells the President that “I am down and will be beaten” is true or not, he will soon ascertain by the returns of the election. As to his modest request to have himself ordered to Washington with the payment of his expenses out of the public treasury, for the avowed purpose of abusing me, I leave to such casuists in morality as he is to defend him. It was not enough that officers at Washington had directly interfered in the election, that nearly every man who held a commission in the Territory exerted their official influence over contractors, deputies, dependants and expectants. It did not satisfy the apetite of so devoted a partizan as Governor Duval, that his little patronage, which he has exercised for years, to seduce individuals from their support of me, or to deter them by the terrors of proscription, should have been exerted. He had witnessed so many acts of intolerance and persecution without resistance, that he concluded with Macbeth that as he had “waded so far in blood” it was as easy to go forward as to recede. The proposition was covertly made in a “private” letter to the President’s Secretary, that if he could be ordered there, and of course paid out of the public treasury, he would go to Washington to destroy me.

The Governor, in the latter part of his extraordinary address, grows quite puritanical and is shocked at “unsavory doctrines.” As I have never became the defender or apologist of Mr. K.’s opinions, I leave the public to determine how far Governor Duval’s practices authorize him to become the censor morum of the community. If his exemption from all that is vicious, the delicacy and refinement of his taste, the exquisiteness of his sensibility, and spotless purity of his life, will authorize him to “cast the first stone,” I wonder that he has not before played moralist, and lectured some of his most intimate friends, upon taste and “savory doctrines.” If such opinions are entertained by Mr. K. I am entirely [ ignorant ] of them. If the people of the Territory, however, are to be justified at their introduction, they have more to fear from the persuasions of Gov. Duval ample yell to induce to offer for the Legislative Council, who practice upon what no effects to condemn, and who may have the power to introduce into our code, doctrines so shocking to the refined taste of the Governor.

I have placed before the people of the Territory the course I have pursued, and shall continue to pursue, until the charges are investigated; and I cannot doubt that when the testimony is collected, he will be a disgraced, as I know him to be a degraded man. If the Governor had as much intellect as malignity, he would see that the public must perceive that he has not denied the charges alleged in my letter. It is unnecessary for me to say that I never used any such language in relation to Mr. Wyatt as that ascribed to me, and all the communications on the subject will sustain this declaration. The letter said to be “picked up in the Council Chamber” itself, refutes it. It appears from that letter that I was “protesting against accusations being set aside, by abuse of him who presented them.” Justice may be slow in overtaking public delinquents, but I cannot doubt that one has been detected, and will receive his merited punishment.

The Governor had a powerful motive for such a publication, as he vainly hoped to produce some effect on the election. He knew it was impossible for me to answer it before the first Monday in May; and he may learn a lesson of wisdom in seeing his own standing, and the credit given to his statements, where he is best known.

If the contempt and indignations of an insulted community can have any effect upon him, he ought to abandon a station which he has filled against the wishes of three fourths of the people of the Territory.

The publication is addressed to the “Freemen of Florida,” but if the principles upon which he acts could find general acceptation, they would not long be entitled to that appellation, which has been given as other things are artfully put in, the more effectually to play the demagogue.


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