Speech to Federalist Nominating Convention
for the City of New York
After the business of the evening was completed, the gallant of Mrs. Reynolds4 addressed the meeting in a speech fraught with misrepresentation and abuse of the State and General Governments. He reiterated all the train that has appeared in the Post.5 He declared that the federal executive was too feeble to sustain the Government! But this restless & turbulent demagogue, this croaker of a swampt faction, assigned no reason for the assertion except that we ought to have gone to war with Spain instead of adopting measures for an amicable adjustment of our differences! Had the latter course been pursued; had we by war destroyed thousands of our citizens, suspended our commerce, increased our taxes, and augmented the national debt, which he has declared is a national blessing,6 the Executive would, in the opinion of this demagogue, have been truly energetic! …
This croaker, (croaker is a word he always uses in his electioneering harangues) after vilifying the executive and congress for not going to war, declared that they had destroyed the energies of the country! And pray, reader, how are those energies destroyed in the opinion of this factious man? Why, said the declaimer, by abolishing the internal taxes,7 and thereby lopping off from the revenue near one million of dollars.…
Turning his attention to this state, Hamilton, speaking of the measures of the last session, traduced, in terms the most false and inflammatory, the executive and the members of the legislature. This factious demagogue, called them croakers, accused them of attempts to subvert the government, declared contrary, I will venture to say, to his own opinion, that the act to increase and equalize the number of wards in this city was unconstitutional;8 reprobated in terms of severity, the suffrage bill,9 denominated it a jacobin scheme, and averred that property was unsafe where republicans ruled.…
But, said the Croaker, not content with straining every nerve to subvert government and religion—the old thing over again—the legislature made a formal & vigorous attack on the Ladies—alluding to the Dower-bill.10 This excited a smile, and many regretted the absence of Mrs. Reynolds, who could have best answered the general on this point.…
3. [New York] American Citizen, April 22, 1803.
The parts of this account which have been omitted consist of the editor’s comments on H’s speech.
4. Maria Reynolds. See the introductory note to Oliver Wolcott Jr., to H, July 3, 1797.
5. For an explanation of the contents of the remainder of this paragraph, see “For the Evening Post,” February 8, 1803.
7. “An Act to repeal the Internal Taxes” provided for the abolition of internal duties on stills, domestic distilled spirits, sugar, licenses to retailers, sales at auctions, carriages, and stamped vellum, parchment, and paper, which became effective on June 30, 1802 (2 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, II (Boston, 1850). description ends 148–50 [April 6, 1802]). For the debates in Congress on the repeal of internal taxes, which the Federalists opposed, see Annals of Congress description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and all the Laws of a Public Nature (Washington, 1834–1852). description ends , XI, 210–50, 356–60, 1015, 1018–74.
8. “An Act to increase the number of Wards in the city of New-York, and equalize the same” changed the number of wards in New York City from seven to nine and redefined the boundaries of the existing wards (New York Laws, 26th Sess., Ch. XXIV [March 8, 1803]).
9. On February 15, 1803, William Few of New York City introduced into the New York Assembly a bill entitled “An Act for the better regulation of the election of charter officers in the city of New-York, and designating the qualifications of electors.” This act revised the city charter by extending the franchise to all males twenty-one years old or over who were citizens of the state and residents of the city for at least six months and who had paid taxes and either rented or leased a house at a yearly value of twenty-five dollars. On March 16, 1803, the bill passed the Assembly and was sent to the Senate where it was submitted to a committee of the whole house. The bill was not reported out of committee before the end of the session (Journal of the Assembly of the State of New-York. At Their Twenty-sixth Session, Begun and Held at the City of Albany, the Twenty-fifth Day of January, 1803 [Albany, n.d.], 65, 78, 145, 178, 180, 197; Journal of the Senate of the State of New-York. At Their Twenty-sixth Session, Begun and Held at the City of Albany, the Twenty-fifth Day of January, 1803 [Albany, n.d.], 87, 89).
10. On February 5, 1803, Ambrose Spencer introduced a bill into the Assembly entitled “An Act amending the Act, entitled ‘An Act concerning dower.’” This amended act in its final form provided “That no wife, whose husband is now alive, shall be entitled to or recover dower in any lands or tenements which her husband hath granted, sold or conveyed to any person or persons at any time before the passing of this act, and whereof he is not again reseized, at the time of the passing hereof.” The act also prohibited a wife from recovering dower in any property of which her husband had been divested by “forfeiture, confiscation or judgment of law.” On March 28 the dower bill passed the Assembly and was sent to the Senate where it was read the following day and committed to a committee of the whole house. The bill was not reported out of committee before the end of the session (Journal of the Assembly of the State of New-York. 26th Sess., 36, 52, 54, 81, 92, 233, 240, 243–44; Journal of the Senate of the State of New-York. 26th Sess., 116, 118).