Thomas Jefferson Papers

Charles Hammond to Thomas Jefferson, 7 August 1821

From Charles Hammond

St. Clairsville Ohio. August 7th 1821

Dear Sir.

You have, no doubt, noticed the manner in which a letter from you, originally published in the Richmond Enquirer, is introduced into the national Intelligencer of the 21st of July. It seems clear to me, that the interpretation, which the Editors of the Intelligencer have given to a part of that letter, is not the natural meaning of the language you have used. I cannot but hope that the proceedings of our State, in her controversy with the Bank of the United States, are not regarded by You as anticonstitutional, deserving rebuke or reprehension.

The respect and reverence with which the people of ohio look to your Sentiments give great weight to any opinion you may express; and it is therefore very desirable that you should not be misunderstood upon any subject more especially upon one so vitally important as that of the relative rights and duties of the national, and State governments. The turn given to your opinions, by the Editors of the Intelligencer, is calculated to make a Strong impression, in ohio, unfavourable to the proceedings of the State authorities of the use that is, and that will be made of your name, the enclosed, cut out from the Muskingum Messenger, printed at Zaneville ohio, 31st July may Serve as a Specimen. May I ask of you a distinct expression of your opinion, or of the Sense, in which the letter quoted, ought to be understood I am sensible that my request is in some measure obtrusive, and I beg of you to allow me an apology in the public nature and great importance of the Subject, upon which, I Suppose, you are made to Speak a language, not in accordance with your Sentiments.

With great respect and consideration, I am D sir your! &c

C. Hammond

PS. Should you write, address to St Clairsville Belmont County ohio. way of washington1 City”

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 16 Aug. 1821 and so recorded in SJL. RC (DLC); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to Nicholas Herbemont, [3] Nov. [1822], on verso; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr Monticello Virginia Way of Washington city”; franked; postmarked Wheeling, 7 Aug.

Charles Hammond (1779–1840), attorney, journalist, and court reporter, was born near Baltimore. His family left Maryland in 1785, ultimately settling near Wellsburg (later in West Virginia). Hammond was first educated by a private tutor and then studied law. He joined the office of Philip Doddridge in 1800 and was admitted to practice in Virginia courts in 1801 before moving to the Northwest Territory in what later became Ohio, where the territorial court appointed him prosecuting attorney for Belmont County. Hammond moved to Wheeling (later in West Virginia) in about 1804. Returning to Ohio in 1810, he lived first in Belmont County and then moved to Cincinnati in around the beginning of 1823. Hammond emerged as a leader of Ohio’s Federalist party, serving in the state senate, 1813–15, and the state house of representatives, 1817–19 and 1820–21. Starting in 1823, he became the first reporter of the Ohio Supreme Court, producing nine volumes of Ohio Reports covering sessions through 1839. Hammond had a parallel career in journalism, as a contributing writer to numerous newspapers, including the Chillicothe Scioto Gazette in around 1801, as publisher of the Saint Clairsville Ohio Federalist, 1813–17, as a writer for the Cincinnati Gazette beginning in 1823, and as its editor from 1825 until his death. He actively backed Henry Clay’s political ambitions and used his publications to support Clay and attack Andrew Jackson, going so far as to author a pamphlet on the irregularities of the latter’s marriage. Hammond died in Cincinnati (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, repr. 1968, 20 vols. in 10 description ends ; Francis Phelps Weisenburger, “A Life of Charles Hammond: The First Great Journalist of the Old Northwest,” Ohio Archæological and Historical Quarterly 43 [1934]: 338–427; George Irving Reed and others, eds., Bench and Bar of Ohio: A Compendium of History and Biography [1897], 2:43–5; Brigham, American Newspapers description begins Clarence S. Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690–1820, 1947, 2 vols. description ends , 2:814; DNA: RG 29, CS, Ohio, Belmont Co., Richland, 1820, Cincinnati, 1830; Clay, Papers description begins James F. Hopkins and others, eds., The Papers of Henry Clay, 1959–92, 11 vols. description ends ; Jackson, Papers description begins Sam B. Smith, Harold D. Moser, Daniel Feller, and others, eds., The Papers of Andrew Jackson, 1980– , 10 vols. description ends , 6:314–5; Columbus Ohio State Journal, 8 Apr. 1840; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 9 Apr. 1840).

On 20 July 1821 (not the 21st) the editors of the Washington Daily National Intelligencer republished TJ’s Recommendation of John Taylor’s Construction Construed, [ca. 27 June 1821], stating in their introduction that “We are glad to see this letter from the Republican Patriarch, and we place it before our readers, as a just but gentle rebuke of the anticonstitutional doctrines of the State of Ohio, &c.”

Ohio’s attempt to tax the Second Bank of the United States involved it in a controversy with the bank. After the state adopted a law mandating such a tax, its auditor, Ralph Osborn, seized funds from the Chillicothe branch of the bank in 1819. When the bank sued Osborn and other state officials, Hammond acted as their counsel in the circuit court trial and the eventual appeal to the United States Supreme Court, which ruled against them in 1824 in Osborn v. Bank of the United States (Marshall, Papers description begins Herbert A. Johnson, Charles T. Cullen, Charles F. Hobson, and others, eds., The Papers of John Marshall, 1974–2006, 12 vols. description ends , 10:36–41).

An editorial commentary on TJ’s Recommendation of Construction Construed, published in an unlocated issue of the Zanesville (zaneville) Ohio Muskingum Messenger, and Democratic Republican, and subsequently quoted in the Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 8 Aug. 1821, directed “the serious attention of our readers to an extract of a letter in a subsequent column, by the revered Thomas Jefferson, on the subject of the powers vested in the federal and state governments. With what irresistible force does his mild and conciliatory language apply to the conduct of the state of Ohio in seizing on the U. S. money in the Branch Bank at Chillicothe—wherein he says each party should prudently shrink from all reproach to the line of demarcation, instead of rashly overleaping it, or throwing grapples ahead to haul to hereafter. It is to be hoped that our future legislators will profit by this sage politician’s admonition—and no longer suffer the state of Ohio to disgrace itself, or get farther involved into difficulties through the machinations and management of such infamously corrupt and factious politicians as ———.”

When another Ohio newspaper republished TJ’s review of Taylor’s work, it included a further editorial statement that “we learn from a source to which every man in the community would attach credit, but which we are not at liberty to divulge, that Mr. Jefferson approves of the course that the state of Ohio has taken, in relation to the United States’ Bank—and that he has expressed himself in the highest terms of the report made to the last general assembly upon this subject, commonly called Hammond’s report. He considers it one of the ablest state papers that has been promulged, since the formation of our government” (Western Herald & Steubenville Gazette, 11 Aug. 1821).

1Manuscript: “washinton.”

Index Entries

  • Bank of the United States, Second; andOsborn v. Bank of the United States search
  • Construction Construed, and Constitutions Vindicated (J. Taylor [of Caroline]) search
  • Hammond, Charles; and TJ’s Recommendation of John Taylor’sConstruction Construed search
  • Hammond, Charles; identified search
  • Hammond, Charles; letter from search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; publication of papers search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; state versus federal authority search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Recommendation of John Taylor’sConstruction Construed search
  • Muskingum Messenger, and Democratic Republican (Zanesville, Ohio, newspaper) search
  • National Intelligencer (Washington newspaper); prints TJ’s correspondence search
  • newspapers; Zanesville, Ohio,Muskingum Messenger search
  • Ohio; andOsborn v. Bank of the United States search
  • Osborn, Ralph; as auditor of Ohio search
  • Osborn v. Bank of the United States search
  • Richmond Enquirer (newspaper); prints TJ’s correspondence search
  • Supreme Court, U.S.; andOsborn v. Bank of the United States search
  • Taylor, John (of Caroline); Construction Construed, and Constitutions Vindicated search
  • United States; state versus federal authority search