Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from “A Republican”, 17 May 1803

From “A Republican”

N York 17th. May 1803


That you are a damned Scoundrel is the opinion of your former friend but present ennemy a


If you can justify yourself please to write me what reason you had for getting Jno. Burnet turned out of the Post Office at Newark & address yr letter to Jno. H Williams Junr: New York

RC (DLC); addressed: “His Exleny Thomas Jefferson Prest. of the United States Washington City with request to forward this immediately being of importance”; franked; postmarked 4 June; endorsed by TJ as a letter of 17 May received 6 June and “Anon. care of John H. Williams N.Y.” and “John Burnet P.M. Newark” and so recorded in SJL with notation “postmark New York.”

On 12 May, James Cheetham’s American Citizen announced the appointment of Samuel Hay as postmaster at Newark in place of John burnet, who, according to the notice, had “long been in the habit of stopping or destroying republican papers in his office.” On 13 May, the New-York Gazette reported the removal, noting that Burnet, one of the oldest postmasters in the United States, was a Revolutionary War veteran who cared for the post office when it was not profitable to do so. “He nursed and tended it in its growth” and now another was “appointed to reap the harvest.” To the credit of the postmaster general, the report noted, there could be no objection to the appointment of Hay “on the score of private reputation or public services.” Other Federalist newspapers reprinted this article under the headline “Another removal.” On 17 May, the New-York Herald printed a more virulent account of the dismissal, citing it as another example of the persecution of Federalists by the administration. Gideon Granger, “the servile instrument of an unworthy passion,” had dismissed Burnet “one of our brave revolutionary officers” to “reward a good democrat.” On the same day, the Newark Centinel of Freedom defended Hay as “a mercantile gentleman, an old revolutionary officer, and a good accountant” who would “perform the duties of the office with impartiality, fidelity and dispatch.” On 31 May, the Hudson Bee also defended the Hay appointment against the “cry” of the Federalists, especially pointing out his service as a Revolutionary War officer (New York Spectator, 14 May; New-York Herald, 14, 17 May; Baltimore Federal Gazette, 17 May; Albany Centinel, 17 May; Hartford Connecticut Courant, 18 May).

John H. williams was printer of the Newark Gazette and New-Jersey Advertiser from 1798 to 1799 (Brigham, American Newspapers description begins Clarence S. Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690–1820, Worcester, Mass., 1947, 2 vols. description ends , 1:510).

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