Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Abraham Baldwin, 7 March 1802

From Abraham Baldwin

March 7th 1802

Abr Baldwin to the President
of the United States

It is most probable W Hobby is the author of the piece, he lives at that place and is supposed to write much for the Herald. In my former letter on that subject, I suggested there might be some foundation for such remarks, that I considered the question clearly confined to the three, of these, two had been reputed ancient whigs but modern tories, the other a uniform modern whig but not entirely free from imputation on the other head.

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 8 Mch. and so recorded in SJL but as a letter of 8 Mch.

William J. HOBBY was a leading Federalist in upcountry Georgia and reputed to be the unofficial editor of the Augusta Herald. Gideon Granger had removed him as postmaster at Augusta in January 1802 (George R. Lamplugh, Politics on the Periphery, Factions and Parties in Georgia, 1783–1806 [Newark, Del., 1986], 151, 169–70; Vol. 34:594–5).

THE PIECE: on 27 Feb. 1802, the Washington Federalist reprinted an anonymous letter to the president that first appeared in the Augusta Herald on 10 Feb. Signed “A Citizen,” the letter criticized TJ for the inconsistency of his removal and appointment policies, specifically citing his choice of William Stephens as U.S. district judge for Georgia. The author pointed out that Stephens had accepted British protection during the Revolutionary War and had appeared in the state’s postwar confiscation and amercement lists. “Do you mean sir, to begin your career with such men,” asked the author. “Can you expect no cordial cooperation, but from men of this character, have you lost all confidence in the American Revolutionary citizens?” When former Tories like Stephens are appointed in place of Revolutionary War veterans, “what are the citizens of America to expect from such an administration?” (Lamplugh, Politics on the Periphery, 170, 179).

MY FORMER LETTER ON THAT SUBJECT: Baldwin to TJ, 1 May 1801, in which Baldwin had recommended Stephens, George Walton, and Matthew McAllister as suitable candidates for judicial appointments in Georgia.

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