Thomas Jefferson Papers

Donald Fraser to Thomas Jefferson, 2 June 1816

From Donald Fraser

N. York June 2d 1816

Respected Sir.

Some days ago I did myself the honour of transmitting a letter to You, wherein I intimated sending a piece wherein Your name was mentioned. It has just Struck me that I did not enclose the piece, as intended1— . . Here it follows . . . . .

Mr Philips

I have read a number of anecdotes, the following one is, in my opinion, very applicable to the present State of parties in this country. A certain wealthy English Baronet who had an only Son, a mere Dolt, his father Sent him to Several eminent Teachers; none of whom could make a Schollar of this heir apparent to an ancient family. . . . . . The father applied to the late accomplished Earle of Chesterfield, to recommend him a proper Tutor for his Son: The Earl pointed out to him, Dr B. . . . . “What, exclaimed the Baronet, with Surprize, Don’t Your Lordship Know? that Dr B,— is a whig, & a violent opposer of our Party? I can’t think of trusting my Son to his care:—As he might poison his mind with his own principles” Chesterfield, “Dr B, is a very honest & learned man, he’ll do justice to Your Son; he has, invariably adhered to his party, in worst & best of times, & never changed Sides. . . . . . . When in office, I endeavoured to retain it, by every method in my power: When out of office, I tried hard to Get in again; wrote & Spoke against my opponents, right or wrong.”

Now, the erudite Editor of the “Evening-Post,” has certainly followed Chesterfield’s maxims in politics; as he has uniformly for fifteen Years past, Calumniated A Jefferson, a Madison & now a Tompkins, whether from Patriotic or Selfish motives, that is best Known to himself. I am conscious,2 that their are Some Good men; & Genuine Patriots, in the Federal ranks; whom I Should be Sorry to See, any Republican Editor, treat with personal abuse, as Wm Coleman, has, the most respectable Patriots on3 the Republican Side.

A friend to the People.

[My first piece in Defence of Govr Tompkins]

To the Editor of the “National Advocate”

Sir . . . . Upon perusing Mr Coleman’s Strictures of Friday last, & Your Remarks on Monday—Relative a certain pecuniary transaction, wherein Govr Tompkins, was an: I was Struck with Mr C’s attempts, to hold forth one of our most incorruptible & excellent Patriots, (a man of irreproachable character in every Stage of his public life) as a Swindler.

I am, an old man, & remember Several adages; I’ll Give You a common one “Never estimate any man’s character, from the applause of his friends, nor the Defamation of his enemies.”

If my memory serves me, the following Sentiments are contained in letters which I received, from two, great & Good Patriots—now no more!

The letters I possess, & can be produced if necessary.

“I have noticed Your remarks on Party-Spirits they are well-founded# . . . It is greatly to be lamented, that Party politicans are So little inclined to do justice to their opponents merits”

Benjn Rush

A Thorough-paced party politican, censures measures, that he approves of:4 He confides in men, whom he heartily—despises:—He opposes [the measures]5 of his antagonists, tho, his reason tells him they are proper.”

Robt R. Livingston

[Coleman’s remarks on the foregoing piece—In the Evening-Post Novr 8th 1815.]

“A writer in the ‘National Advocate,6 under the Signature of ‘an old Citizen,’ Quotes with Great form & ceremony, the Sayings of Dr Rush & Chancellor Livingston; in order to assist Governor Tompkins, on the present occasion; whom he calls an incorrupti[ble]7 & excellent Patriot.—I tell these people again, the Advocate, its editors & correspondents, that I will not be diverted from my object”

I have the honour to be, venerable Sir, with Great respect & Esteem, Your obdt humble Servant.

Donald Fraser Senr

RC (MHi); dateline at foot of text; ellipses and first and third sets of brackets in original; addressed: “Thos Jefferson Esqr Late President of the U.S. Monticello Virga”; franked; postmarked New York, 1 July; endorsed by TJ as received 10 July 1816 and so recorded in SJL. Fraser’s subsequent letter of 27 June 1816 was probably enclosed in this one.

The earlier letter to TJ is not recorded in SJL and has not been found. The first item quoted here was addressed to the publisher Naphtali philips and printed in his newspaper, the New York National Advocate, 11 Nov. 1815. dr b: Richard Busby, headmaster and teacher at Westminster School, London. The erudite editor of the New York Evening Post was William Coleman. Fraser’s defence, addressed to the editor of the National Advocate, Andrew Caldwell Mitchell, appeared in the 8 Nov. 1815 issue (Brigham, American Newspapers description begins Clarence S. Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690–1820, 1947, 2 vols. description ends , 1:631, 672). Coleman issued his strictures in the New York Evening Post, 3 Nov. 1815, and Mitchell replied in the National Advocate, monday, 6 Nov. 1815.

1Manuscript: “intened.”

2Manuscript: “conscois.”

3Manuscript: “on on.”

4National Advocate: “concurs in many measures that he does not approve.”

5Omitted words supplied from National Advocate.

6Omitted closing quotation mark editorially supplied.

7Word partially lost due to mutilation at seal.

Authorial notes

[The following note(s) appeared in the margins or otherwise outside the text flow in the original source, and have been moved here for purposes of the digital edition.]

# #I wrote a Pamphlet fifteen years ago, entitled “Party-Spirit exposed” or, “Remarks on the Times” You never Saw the thing.

Index Entries

  • Busby, Richard; anecdote of search
  • Chesterfield, Philip Stanhope, 2d Earl of; anecdote about search
  • Coleman, William (New York editor) search
  • Fraser, Donald; criticizes W. Coleman search
  • Fraser, Donald; defends certain politicians against newspaper attacks search
  • Fraser, Donald; letter from accounted for search
  • Fraser, Donald; letters from search
  • Fraser, Donald; on partisan politics search
  • Fraser, Donald; Party-Spirit Exposed, or Remarks on the Times search
  • Livingston, Robert R.; and partisan politics search
  • National Advocate (New York newspaper) search
  • newspapers; New-York Evening Post search
  • newspapers; New YorkNational Advocate search
  • newspapers; politics of search
  • New York (city); National Advocate search
  • New York (city); New-York Evening Post search
  • New-York Evening Post (newspaper) search
  • Party-Spirit Exposed, or Remarks on the Times (D. Fraser) search
  • Philips, Naphtali (newspaper publisher) search
  • politics; D. Fraser’s opinion on search
  • Rush, Benjamin; and party politics search
  • Tompkins, Daniel D.; and party politics search