Thomas Jefferson Papers

Donald Fraser to Thomas Jefferson, 27 June 1816

From Donald Fraser

New York June 27th 1816.


I beg leave to present for the honor of Your acceptance, a copy of my latest Publication. I am conscious, that it contains little, if any, Novelty to a person of Your extensive reading. . . . . It is presented as a Small tribute of respect for Your Superior talents, & well Known Patriotism.—The fourth of July is near at hand, & the venerable Author of the Declaration of Independence, will not be forgotten at the approaching anniversary. . . . Nor, I trust, for centuries to come.—

Occasionally I Send Some pieces to the “National Advocate,” an ably conducted paper, printed here, & other Republican papers.—The following piece which appeared in that paper, was written in defence of my Benevolent friend, Governor Tompkins. It proved a Bar, to mr Coleman’s malignant1 attacks on that truly worthy & Patriotic Character; at least, he did not think proper to make any remarks thereon. . . — . . . . The piece previous to this, in which I introduced extracts from letters of two of my most respectable correspondants, The late Hon. Chancellor Livingston & Dr Rush, relative to party Spirit [I wrote a pamphlet on that Subject Some Years ago.]2 . . . . He, with his accustomed asperity wrote Some remarks upon that piece. . . If it would not be encroaching too much upon retirement, I Shall, at a future period, Send the piece & Coleman’s remarks thereon. . . . .

Mr Philips . .

If You think proper, You’ll oblige a patron of Your3 paper, by giving the following piece a place in Your paper, I have read a number of anecdotes; the following one, in my opinion is4 very applicable to the present State of parties in this country. A certain wealthy English Barronet, who had an only Son, a mere Dolt; his father, Sent him to Several eminent Preceptors; none of whom could make a Schollar of him,—Altho, the heir apparent to an ancient family, The father applied to the accomplished Earl of Chesterfield, to recommend5 him a proper Tutor for his Son: Chesterfield, pointed out to him Dr B— “What exclaimed the Baronet, with Surprize, don’t Your Lordship know, that B— is a whig, and a warm opposer of our Party; I can’t think of trusting my son to his care, as he might poison his mind with his own whiggish principles”6—Chesterfield replied, Dr B. . . Is a very honest & learned man; he will do justice to Your son; he has invariably adhered to his party, in the worst & best of times. .

When I was in office,7 I endeavored to retain it by every method in my power: When out of office, I tried hard to get in again: Wrote & Spoke, true or8 false, againest my opposers.

Now, me thinks, that the erudite Editor of the Evening-Post, has certainly adopted Chesterfield’s maxims, in politics; as he has for fifteen Years past, uniformly calumniated a Jefferson, a Madison & now a Tompkins: whether, from political & Selfish motives, that’s best known to himself. . . . . . I am conscious, that there are Some genuine Patriots in the Federal ranks; for instance, John Jay, &c. Whom, I Should be Sorry to See any Republican Editor abuse, as Wm Coleman, has done, the most respectable & incorruptible Patriots, on the Republican Side.

Novr 11th 1815.9 A friend to the People, 

Being well10 informed of the Urbanity of Your Disposition I write with freedom,11 as I have been in the habit of doing to other [e]minent characters . . . Your good Sense will induce You to pardon the verbosity of an old man of Sixty eight Years . . . I have two Sons in the army of the U.S. one of whom (Donald) has Distinguished himself and won the approbation of his commanders: . . He received four or fiv[e] wounds, in as many different actions— . . . He has been aide camp to Generals Pike, Boyd, Porter & now to Genl Brown: He is a very felial Son, having allowed me one Dollar a Day for three Years past, out of his knowng that I have lost by misplaced confidence, the fruits of nearly a whole life of industry:—And not now able to follow my former profession; from Physical causes.

I have the honor to be, Venerable Sir, with the highest respect & consideration, Your Obedient12 humble Servant

Donald Fraser Senr

P.S. I am no Poet, But can write Rhymes with13 facility— . . —The following light effusions of an old Republican14 may afford You a few moments15 amusements16 after Deep Study.—

N York Septr 3d 1814.17   One of the Masonic Bretheren (about 700 attended18 to build “Fort Masonic”)19—A member of Mount Moria lodge,20 Spoke the following lines extemporally—

1st Hail children of light, whom the charit[ies] Se[nd]
Their country, their wives, & fire-Sides to defend:
May the flame Patriotic, which nothing can Smother,
Burn bright in the breast, of each true loving Brother:
2d As Masons, as men, we’ll proudly oppose,
The Secret or open attacks of our foes. . . .21
Like his Honor, our present Grand-Master & Mayor.
3d For me, whose dismissal must Shortly arrive,
May I never America’s freedom Survive:
And, if that is maintain’d by22 powder & Guns,
May my memory live, in the fame of my Sons.

Lines23 Spoken Brooklyne-heights, when working with the Teachers of this City—Septr 2d 1815.24

1. Well, when our Day’s labor’s done,
Which will be at the Setting Sun;
Molasses, Pork, & punkin pie
I vow, we’ll [eat]25 before we die:
2d You must not think us barren fools,
Because we are pent up in Schools:
And, Should the foe, but make a Breach,
We Shall, to them Good manners teach:
3d Our country Shall continue free,
As long as we, teach, A. B. C. . . . . .
And, if the foe, Should tread our Sod,
They’ll find how we can use the rod.

There’s, Pike, Porter, Scot, & Brown we know,
Where-e’er they met, they beat the foe:
May Columbia, ever have Such men,
To Show John-Bull, what Yankeys Ken!

RC (MHi); dateline at foot of text; edge trimmed and ink stained; ellipses in original; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr, Late President of the United States Monticllon V’a”; endorsed by TJ as received 10 July 1816 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Fraser, An Interesting Companion for a Leisure Hour: or, an Historical, Geographical, and Chronological Compendium: containing a brief but comprehensive history of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Holland: together with a variety of curious articles, both miscellaneous and Masonic, not generally known (New York, 1814; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 4 [no. 124]; TJ’s copy in Vi, with Fraser’s inscription “To Thos Jefferson Esqr late President of these U. States—As a Small testimony of respect, for his Talents & Patriotism. From Donald Fraser N. York June 27th 1816”). Probably enclosed in Fraser to TJ, 2 June 1816.

Fraser included in his previous letter to TJ of 2 June 1816 excerpts from two pieces sent to the New York National Advocate—the defence of Daniel D. Tompkins, which is repeated here, and extracts from letters of Robert R. Livingston and Benjamin Rush. The earlier pamphlet was Fraser, Party-Spirit Exposed, or Remarks on the Times: to which is added Some Important Hints to the Ladies (New York, 1799).

Fraser was the old republican and one of the masonic bretheren who made the first poetic recitation above on 1 Sept. 1814 at the site of Fort Masonic in Brooklyn, New York. Various groups of citizens in and around New York City donated time and materials to assist in the construction of this fort during August and September 1814. DeWitt Clinton was the Masonic grand-master for New York State and the mayor of New York City in 1814 (Rocellus S. Guernsey, New York City and Vicinity during The War of 1812–’15 [1889–95], 2:294–5; New York Mercantile Advertiser, 3 Sept. 1814).

1Fraser here canceled “remarks.”

2Brackets in original.

3Manuscript: “of Your of Your.”

4Manuscript: “is is.”

5Manuscript: “recommed.”

6Manuscript: “princiciples.”

7Manuscript: “When I was in office, When in office.”

8Manuscript: “of.”

9Manuscript: “1816.”

10Manuscript: “weel.”

11Manuscript: “freedon.”

12Manuscript: “Obdient.”

13Manuscript: “Rhynes wih.”

14Preceding four words interlined.

15Word interlined.

16Manuscript: “amusements amusements.”

17Manuscript: “1816.”

18Manuscript: “attended attended.”

19Omitted closing parenthesis editorially supplied.

20Manuscript: “loge.”

21New York Mercantile Advertiser, 3 Sept. 1814, gives the line omitted here as “And act towards all on the compass and square.”

22Manuscript: “by by.”

23Fraser here canceled “written.”

24Manuscript: “1816.”

25Omitted word editorially supplied.

Index Entries

  • An Interesting Companion for a Leisure Hour (D. Fraser) search
  • Boyd, John Parker; and War of1812 search
  • Brown, Jacob Jennings; as major general search
  • Busby, Richard; anecdote of search
  • Chesterfield, Philip Stanhope, 2d Earl of; anecdote about search
  • Clinton, DeWitt; as Masonic grand master search
  • Clinton, DeWitt; as mayor of New York City search
  • Coleman, William (New York editor) search
  • food; molasses search
  • food; pies search
  • food; pork search
  • Fort Masonic (Brooklyn, N.Y.) search
  • Fraser, Donald, Jr.; military career of search
  • Fraser, Donald; An Interesting Companion for a Leisure Hour search
  • Fraser, Donald; criticizes W. Coleman search
  • Fraser, Donald; defends certain politicians against newspaper attacks search
  • Fraser, Donald; family of search
  • Fraser, Donald; letters from search
  • Fraser, Donald; on partisan politics search
  • Fraser, Donald; Party-Spirit Exposed, or Remarks on the Times search
  • Fraser, Donald; poetry of search
  • Freemasonry; in New York City search
  • Jay, John; and D. Fraser search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Livingston, Robert R.; and partisan politics search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); criticized search
  • molasses; consumed search
  • National Advocate (New York newspaper) search
  • newspapers; New-York Evening Post search
  • newspapers; New YorkNational Advocate search
  • newspapers; politics of search
  • New York (city); defenses of search
  • New York (city); newspapers search
  • New York (city); New-York Evening Post search
  • New-York Evening Post (newspaper) search
  • Party-Spirit Exposed, or Remarks on the Times (D. Fraser) search
  • Philips, Naphtali (newspaper publisher) search
  • pies; pumpkin search
  • Pike, Zebulon Montgomery; and War of1812 search
  • poetry; sent to TJ search
  • politics; D. Fraser’s opinion on search
  • pork; consumed search
  • Porter, Peter Buell; and War of1812 search
  • Rush, Benjamin; and party politics search
  • Scott, Winfield; as American military commander search
  • Tompkins, Daniel D.; and party politics search
  • United States; patriotism of citizens search
  • War of1812; and military preparations search