Alexander Hamilton Papers
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From Alexander Hamilton to Oliver Wolcott, Junior, [25 September 1801]

To Oliver Wolcott, Junior1

[New York, September 25, 1801]

Dr. Sir

I send you some extracts from a pamphlet lately published, in reply to one written by a Gentleman of my acquaintance2 (not by me as has been by some conjectured) from which I have taken out some leaves which I send you.3 At the request of this Gentleman I trouble you to give me some explanation respecting the suggestions which are made particularly in respect to Col Pickering,4 General Miller5 and Mr. Dunham6 & the motives to the dismission of Gardner7 of New Hampshire.

Things so boldly asserted, & with an avowed signature of a person who was in a situation to acquire information, deserve particular and reiterated attention; or else they certainly will be believed.

A speedy reply will oblige.

Yrs. very truly

A Hamilton

ALS, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford.

1After Wolcott had resigned as Secretary of the Treasury on December 31, 1800, he returned to his farm in Litchfield, Connecticut. On February 18, 1801, John Adams nominated him judge for the Second Circuit (consisting of Vermont, Connecticut, and New York) under the provisions of “An Act to provide for the more convenient organization of the Courts of the United States” (2 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, II (Boston, 1850). description ends 89–100 [February 13, 1801]). The Senate approved Wolcott’s nomination on February 20, 1801 (Executive Journal, I description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate (Washington, 1828), I. description ends , 381, 383).

2H is referring to William Coleman, a Federalist lawyer who was originally from Boston and who had practiced law in Greenfield, Massachusetts, and served in the Massachusetts General Court in 1795 and 1796. After he had suffered major financial losses as a result of speculation in the Yazoo lands, Coleman moved to New York City to practice law. In early 1800, H secured Coleman’s appointment as clerk of the Circuit of the Supreme Court of New York State (H to John Jay, March 4, 1800; Jay to H, March 13, 1800). In November, 1801, Coleman became editor of the New-York Evening Post, which H helped to found.

3The extracts to which H is referring were from a pamphlet entitled A Reply to Lucius Junius Brutus’s Examination of the President’s Answer to the New-Haven Remonstrance: With an Appendix Containing the Number of Collectors, Naval Officers, Surveyors, Supervisors, District Attornies and Marshals, in the United States, Shewing how many incumbents are Republican, and how many are Federalists By Leonidas (New York: Printed by Denniston and Cheetham, No. 142 Pearl-Street, 1801). This pamphlet and the pamphlet to which it was an answer concerned Thomas Jefferson’s removal of Elizur Goodrich, a Federalist, from the office of collector of the customs at New Haven, Connecticut, and Jefferson’s appointment of Samuel Bishop, a Republican, to the position on May 23, 1801 (Executive Journal, I description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate (Washington, 1828), I. description ends , 402, 405). On June 18, 1801, a committee of Federalist merchants of New Haven sent a protest to Jefferson stating that Goodrich was qualified and competent, that it was unfair to dismiss him for political reasons, and that Bishop was infirm and unfit for office (DS, signed by sixty-seven individuals, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress). On July 21, 1801, Jefferson wrote to the New Haven merchants defending his position (LS, letterpress copy, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress). Both the remonstrance and Jefferson’s reply were printed in The [New York] Spectator on July 29, 1801.

On September 12, 1801, a pamphlet which was written by Coleman and which is entitled An Examination of the President’s Reply to the New Haven Remonstrance; with an Appendix containing the President’s Inaugural Speech, the Remonstrance and Reply; together with a List of Removals from Office and New Appointments, made since the Fourth of March, 1801, by Lucius Junius Brutus (New York: George F. Hopkins, 1801), was published (The [New York] Spectator, September 12, 1801). On September 21, 1801, the pamphlet by “Leonidas” appeared as a rebuttal to Coleman’s work.

4The passage in the pamphlet by “Leonidas” concerning Timothy Pickering, former Secretary of State, reads: “… Mr. A. [Anthony] Campbell, a native of Ireland, was a clerk in the treasury department. The agency business of that department generally went through his hands.… He saw Pickering’s accounts in the treasury books. He observed that agency upon agency was heaped upon him by the executive while he was endeavoring to bully the French Republic into a War with America. He saw him indeed ‘crouch before he leaped upon his prey’; that is, the spaniel secretary fawned at the feet of power until, by his having had in his possession nearhalf a million of dollars of the public property for four years, while the imp[r]ovident and spendthrift government was giving eight per cent. for loans, he had enriched himself. He then indeed leaped upon his prey; and essayed with zeal and indefatigability to destroy the liberty of the country” (A Reply to Lucius Junius Brutus’s Examination of the President’s Answer, 34–36).

5The passage in the pamphlet by “Leonidas” concerning Henry Miller, whose appointment as supervisor of the revenue for the District of Pennsylvania was confirmed on December 11, 1794 (Executive Journal, I description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate (Washington, 1828), I. description ends , 164–65), reads: “Much noise has been made about the removal of General Miller from the office of Supervisor for the district of Pennsylvania. He was a revolutionary officer; and on that account we owe him gratitude. But though his scars are honorable, they cannot cover his subsequent defects. General Miller was appointed in 1794. In 1800 he had not settled a single account. There were 23 quarterly accounts then due, and not one settled. It was for this sort of delinquency that gentleman was removed from office. Mr. Jefferson gave him from March last to July to settle his accounts” (A Reply to Lucius Junius Brutus’s Examination of the President’s Answer, 59).

6The passage in the pamphlet by “Leonidas” concerning Aaron Dunham, whom Washington appointed supervisor of the revenue for the District of New Jersey on March 4, 1791, reads: “Col. Dunham of New-Jersey, was removed from the office of Supervisor for delinquency. When the books were transferred to his successor, he was deficient in the sum of sixteen thousand seven hundred and forty-five dollars and ninety-nine cents, which was not paid in August last” (A Reply to Lucius Junius Brutus’s Examination of the President’s Answer, 60).

7The passage in the pamphlet by “Leonidas” concerning William Gardner reads: “In the year 1790, Mr. Gardner was appointed, by the general government, commissioner of loans for New-Hampshire.… In 1792 Mr. Gardner signified to the federal government his intention to resign. But Gen. Hamilton, ‘then secretary of the treasury,’ solicited his continuance, promising an augmentation of the salary. Mr. Gardner, with much reluctance, consented, and he continued in it till 1798.

“In that year of federal rage, as no town was loyal from which an adulatory address to the President was not sent, one was circulated through New-Hampshire.… It was presented to Mr. Gardner for his signature, who refused to sign it. He was told that if he persevered in his refusal his name would be sent to the executive. But even this argument was unavailing. In a few weeks afterwards, however, Mr. Gardner was Dismissed by the wise and patriotic John Adams.…” (A Reply to Lucius Junius Brutus’s Examination of the President’s Answer, 61–62.)

See also H to Gardner, June 14, July 13, 1792.

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