James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Bingham, 5 May 1812

From John Bingham

New York May 5th. 1812

Respected Sir

Although not personally acquainted with you, yet permit me to take the liberty of giving you my sentiments, and addressing you with a few lines on the appointment of the officers of this City for having been Born and Brought up in it, am well acquainted with the Politicts of the diferent Characters of any consequence in it, having takin so decided a part in favour of my country. Since the year 1774, when about 20 years of age, so much so, as to be oblidged to remove from and be absent from it for seven years in the different parts of the State, as well as in public Stations, think myself competent, from the knowledge obtained of informing you of the necessaty of a reformation in this City of some of the officers holding under the General government, and of appointing men to fill them who are the firm friends and able Supporters of the present administration, and who have taking so decided a part in its support will in this crittical situation of our public affairs take a decided Stand against its enemies.

Without mentioning the names of those who hold offices, and who by the conduct are undermining it, it is only necessary to advert to the present Election, as you may find by a Respectable Republican paper issued in this City and which paper Claims the patronage and support of the present administration, in that paper you will1 an article purporting of papers sent from this City, and which were not Received their for Several days after they should have been Received,2 for what reasons you may Judge, it is therefore Just and prudent, that a man Should be placed at the head of the Post office in this City, who is a friend to the General goverment, and who will not be found Intrigueing with its enemies.

As to the Customhouse officers what great complaints are in this city, among our Republican Citizens of men placed in that office not only opposed but engaged against the administration these things ought not to be, and in behalf of my friends, supporters of your administration, Solicit you to place men over our public affairs in this City that will unite with us in opposing the internal, as well as the external enemies of our Beloved country, if the almighty disposer of all events Should permit in the course of his Divine providence our City to be once more invaded.

Sir, as it is probable their will be an assistant Judge appointed for this district I am Solicited to recommend to that appointment Mr John Farguson at present an assistant Justice in one of our Courts, a man every way well quallified to fill that important Station, and whose appointment will be well pleasing to your Best friends in this City, and do therefore take the liberty of Recommending him to fill the same.

Dear Sir

As you are not acquainted with me, or my Standing in Society, I beg leave for your information to Refer you to Dr. Mitchell as to the Correctness of the observations I have taken the liberty of addressing you on.

And now may he who has the hearts of all men in his hand and turns them as he please, and who is the great disposer of nations, keep you, and our Beloved Country in his holy keeping, is the prayer of Your Most Obedient & Humbl Servt

John Bingham3

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1809–17, filed under “Ferguson”).

1Bingham apparently omitted a word here.

2Bingham was probably alluding to a newspaper controversy which seems to have affected him adversely during the New York state elections held in late April 1812. The pro-Madison faction of the New York City Republican party, associated with the Tammany Society and sometimes referred to as “Martling-men,” had nominated Bingham for state senator from the southern district of New York in opposition to the candidate supported by the Clintonian Republicans. On the first day of the polling, 28 Apr. 1812, the Clintonian newspaper, the Columbian, claimed that Gov. Daniel D. Tompkins had written letters to New York City Republicans endorsing “regular” party nominations but specifically disapproving of the nomination of Bingham as “spurious and irregular and one that ought not to be supported.” Bingham’s supporters denied that Tompkins had written the letters and, through the columns of the N.Y. Public Advertiser on 29 Apr., demanded that the Clintonians publish them “to the world, in order to open the eyes of the people.” The Columbian responded on 29 and 30 Apr., stating that Tompkins had written a letter to Henry Rutgers on 15 Apr. to the effect that “regular” nominations ought to be supported and quoting a remark from Rutgers that he had received a letter from Tompkins.

3John Bingham, a wharfinger and a sachem of the Tammany Society, had a lengthy career in New York City politics and held a variety of offices, including fire warden, assessor, and election inspector. In 1807 he became an alderman from the Fifth Ward of the city, and in December 1809 the Common Council elected him as deputy mayor (Gustavus Meyers, The History of Tammany Hall [2d ed.; New York, 1971], pp. 24–25; A. Everett Peterson, ed., Minutes of the Common Council of the City of New York, 1784–1831 [19 vols.; New York, 1917], 1:65, 408, 2:573, 4:642, 5:789).

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