Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from DeWitt Clinton, 4 May 1803

From DeWitt Clinton

New York 4 May 1803

Dear Sir

I have great satisfaction in informing you that the late election in this State has been attended with unexampled success. Out of ten Senators, the federalists in all probability will not have one and out of one hundred representatives, their numbers will not exceed fifteen. The relative strength of parties will stand thus.—

Repub: Fed:
In the Senate 26  6
In the Assembly 85 15

We have not as yet all the official returns, but from the best information, the foregoing estimate may be relied on. Federalism as it is termed was of course never at a lower ebb: This proud ascendency we shall maintain at the next election in defiance of every obstacle. We have labored under many difficulties in this City1 arising from a variety of sources which it will be in our power in a great measure to control before the next election—our majority will undoubtedly be encreased by that time. The mal-contents generally speaking did all they could to injure us—Their number does not exceed one hundred and their influence is perfectly trifling. Our Legislature embraces more ability and weight than the last and I have no doubt but that such wise measures will be pursued by them, as will confine federalism to two or three Counties, composed of persons2 on the estate of Mr Van Rensselaer and emigrants from the Eastward deluded by their lawyers and Clergy.

If the arrangement you allude to in your letter respecting the custom house here could take place soon, it would much enhance the favor in the estimation of the person receiving it.

We are agitated with a report of an European War which comes via Boston.

With much respect I am Yours most Sincerely

DeWitt Clinton

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “The President of the U.S.”; endorsed by TJ as received 6 May and so recorded in SJL.

TJ received another description of the late election in New York. On 30 Apr., Gallatin sent the president an extract of the letter he had just received from James Nicholson, his father-in-law, dated 28 Apr. Nicholson reported: “This is the last day of holding the election. By the report of the general committee last evening, the republican ticket was upwards of 700 votes ahead: you know that those calculations though not certain are made in such manner that they have not heretofore in any one instance greatly erred. The other party had great confidence in our divisions proceeding from Col. Burr’s friends leaving us; this has no doubt injured us, but very short of what the other party expected. The heads of both parties are extremely active, none more than Hamilton. It is generally expected that this evening at the close of the polls we will have a majority of one thousand votes” (Tr in DLC; in Gallatin’s hand; undated; at head of text: “Extract of a letter from Mr Nicholson to A. Gallatin dated New York 28th April”; endorsed by TJ as received from Gallatin on 30 Apr. and so recorded in SJL). For the campaign in New York City, see also Clinton to TJ, 12 Apr.

mal-contents: that is, the Burrites.

Stephen van rensselaer, the eighth patroon of the Manor of Rensselaerwyck, a vast estate in Rensselaer and Albany counties, received rents and tithes perpetually from his tenants under the Dutch patroon system. In 1783, he married Margaret Schuyler, younger sister of Alexander Hamilton’s wife, Elizabeth. In this election, Republicans for the first time swept Rensselaer County sending five members to the state assembly, but all six Federalist candidates won in Albany County. The final tally gave 17 assembly seats to the Federalists (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , 26:467; Albany Register, 1 July 1803). For counties with emigrants from the eastward who elected Federalists, see Gideon Granger to TJ, 6 May.

your letter: TJ to Clinton, 22 Apr. person receiving it: Samuel Osgood (same).

On 4 May, the New York American Citizen carried a report via boston from a vessel that sailed from England on 26 Mch. “that WAR was just declared between England and France, and that there was no doubt of its truth.”

1Preceding three words interlined.

2Preceding two words interlined.

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