Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Philip Schuyler, 19 August 1802

From Philip Schuyler1

Albany August 19 1802

My Dear Sir

On Monday evening I returned to my family.

Days of constant activity, and some of fatigue were succeeded by nights of sound sleep. This with a good appetite, and good food to satisfy it, afforded me as good health as I ever enjoyed, and which I still retain.

My labours have been crowned with Success & one of the Locks in Wood Creek is contemplated, a Second greatly advanced and a third will be compleated in the present season as also two Small Sluices. These are all the works contemplated in the present year, but to compleat the navigation to the Oneida Lake four more Locks must be constructed, preparations are making for two, and directions ought to be given to provide the materials for the other two.

How is your health, that of my Beloved Eliza, and my Dear GrandChildren? I hope all well, embrace them tenderly for me, they share with you in my warmest affections, and in those of Mrs. Schuyler. Catherine2 is either at Still water,3 Ballston4 or Lake George.

If Mr Jefferson has really encouraged that wretch Callender to Vent his calumny against you, and his predecessors in office,5 the head of the former must be abominably wicked, and weak. I feel for the reputation of my Country which must suffer, when Its Citizens can be brought to Elevate such a Character to the first office in the republic. May Indulgent heaven avert the Evils, with which we are threatened from such a ruler, and the miscreants who guide his councils.

Adieu My Dear Sir, may you enjoy health and happiness, and that peace of mind which results from a rectitude of Conduct.

I am Ever most affectionately Yours

Ph: Schuyler

Alexander Hamilton Esq

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1For background to this letter, see Schuyler to H, April 5, June 15, 1802.

2Catherine Schuyler was Schuyler’s youngest child. In 1802 she was twenty-one years old.

3Stillwater, Saratoga County, New York.

4Ballston Spa, Saratoga County, New York.

5James Thomson Callender, a native of Scotland, fled to the United States after he was indicted for sedition in January, 1793, because of his pamphlet The political progress of Britain; or, An impartial account of the principal abuses in the government of the Country, From the Revolution in 1688; the whole tending to prove the ruinous consequences of the popular system of war and conquest … Part I (London: Printed for T. Kay, 1792). Until the spring of 1796 he reported on congressional debate for The Philadelphia Gazette and Universal Daily Advertiser. In 1797 he published The History of the United States for 1796; Including a Variety of Interesting Particulars Relative to the Federal Government Previous to That Period (Philadelphia: Snowden and McCorkle, 1797), which was the first phase of the public discussion of the “Reynolds affair.” See the introductory note to Oliver Wolcott, Jr., to H, July 3, 1797. In 1798 Callender went to Virginia, and in 1799 he became associated with the [Richmond] Examiner, a Republican newspaper. In May and June, 1800, he was tried, fined two hundred dollars, and sentenced to prison for nine months under the Sedition Law for comments he had made about John Adams in a pamphlet entitled The Prospect Before Us. Volume I (Richmond, Virginia: Printed for the Author, and sold by M. Jones, S. Pleasants, jun. and J. Lyon, 1800). The second volume of Callender’s pamphlet was published in 1801 (The Prospect Before Us. Vol. II. Part II [Richmond: Printed by H. Pace, And sold by M. Jones, Printer to the Commonwealth; by S. Pleasants, jun. at the Office of the Virginia Argus; by T. Field, Petersburg; and by the Author, in the Jail of Richmond, 1801]). In 1801 Thomas Jefferson pardoned Callender and remitted his fine.

During the summer of 1802 Callender wrote a series of letters to the [Richmond] Recorder in which he stated that on two occasions in 1799 and 1800 Jefferson had given him fifty dollars to help him publish two volumes of The Prospect Before Us. Jefferson maintained that his payments to Callender were based on “mere motives of charity” (Jefferson to James Monroe, July 15, 1802 [ALS, letterpress copy, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress]). For correspondence concerning these payments, see Callender to Jefferson, August 10, 1799 (ALS, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress); Jefferson to Callender, September 6, 1799 (ALS, letterpress copy, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress); Thomas Jefferson to George Jefferson, October 24, 1800 (ALS, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston); George Jefferson to Thomas Jefferson, January 12, 1801 (ALS, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston). George Jefferson was a distant cousin of Thomas Jefferson and a partner in the mercantile firm of Gibson and Jefferson in Richmond. From 1797 to 1811 George Jefferson served as Thomas Jefferson’s principal agent in Richmond.

Schuyler’s comment may have been prompted by a series of twelve articles entitled “Jefferson and Callender,” which appeared in the New-York Evening Post on August 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, and September 6, 1802. The writer accused Jefferson of treachery and moral turpitude as well as violation of the Sedition Law for having made payments to Callender.

On September 29, 1802, William Coleman wrote in the New-York Evening Post: “The batteries of scandal from Georgia to the Province of Maine have been turned on General Hamilton, in consequence of the numbers of ‘Jefferson & Callender’ which originally appeared in this paper, and of the private disreputable tale copied from the Richmond Recorder [New-York Evening Post, July 12, 1802]. I think it proper and I think it a justice due to General Hamilton, to declare, that he never saw either of the publications which have created so much sensibility in the friends of Mr. Jefferson, till after he saw them in print in common with other readers; nor knew of their intended appearance, excepting the 12th number, containing the constitutional argument; as to the soundness of which, I consulted him in company with another gentleman of the bar, before I committed it to the press. This I thought due to the importance of the subject. And as to the extract from the Recorder, the first time I saw him afterwards he expressed his regret that my deference to the judgment, or complaisance for the wishes of others, however respectable, had induced me to deviate for a moment from my established plan of conducting my paper. He declared his sentiments to be averse to all personalities, not immediately connected with public considerations.…”

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