June 22, 1859
My Dear Sir: I have received your letter inquiring whether my friends are at liberty to present my name to the Charleston Convention for the Presidential nomination.
Before this question can be finally determined, it will be necessary to understand distinctly upon what issues the canvass is to be conducted.
If, as I have full faith they will, the Democratic party shall determine in the Presidential election of 1860 to adhere to the principles embodied in the Compromise measures of 1850, and ratified by the people in the Presidential election of 1852, and re-affirmed in the Kansas-Nebraska act of 1854, and incorporated into the Cincinnati [Democratic Party] platform in 1856, as expounded by Mr. [James] Buchanan in his letter accepting the nomination, and approved by the people in his election—in that event my friends will be at liberty to
present my name to the convention, if they see proper to do so.
If, on the contrary, it shall become the policy of the Democratic party, which I cannot anticipate, to repudiate these their time-honored principles, on which we have achieved so many patriotic triumphs; and, in lieu of them, the Convention shall interpolate into the creed of the party such new issues as the revival of the African slave trade, or a Congressional slave code for the Territories, or the doctrine that the Constitution of the United States either establishes or prohibits slavery in the Territories beyond the power of the people legally to control it as other property—it is due to candor to say that, in such an
event, I could not accept the nomination if tendered to me.