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but it originated in Connecticut, and the person pitched upon for your successor is Jonathan Trumbull. Baldwin, of Georgia, is against you. Your fault is not enough favouring the stages in carrying the mails, and giving indulgence to post-riders, while you are strict with stagecarriers. W. speaks of you with great respect, says he was on a committee which concerned your office, and would have reported in favour of letting you have assistance, but could not prevail with the rest. He thinks there will not be another attempt, because he supposes there will not be a full representation for the remaining time that the old Confederation is to continue. But, if the contracts which are to be made this fall should disgust the favourers of stages, the attempt may be renewed, and will probably succeed, provided one or two of the other States can be drawn into the vote. He says there is a discretionary power lodged with you to give the preference either to riders or stage-carriers, and he thinks your conduct has been in favour of public oeconomy, as well as upright and impartial; but, from what I could gather, policy might dictate a degree of partiality to the stages, if the discretionary power lodged with you will authorize it. Of this you are a better judge than I can be.
I have given you the substance of what I could learn from him, and he did not appear to be at all reserved on the subject.
Ben Russell has minuted your name in his book. He thought that, if he sent a paper to the New York postoffice, it was yours; but I have convinced him that yours is a distinct office. I hope you will, for the future, have the Centinel regularly.
HAZARD TO BELKNAP.
NEW YORK, Oct. 2, 1788.
MY DEAR SIR,- The extracts from Mather form a valuable addition to what I had before collected respecting the Indians. I thank you for them.
My "situation" is much as when I wrote you before, except that Congress is not so numerous as it was, seven States only being represented; and it will be difficult to get them to be unanimous. I am a good deal of W.'s opinion, that there will not be a full representation before the new Government takes place. Indeed, I do not think there will be 9 States on the floor; so that it is possible that I may yet weather out the storm. I am much obliged to you for the information you sent me. I feel rather surprised that Massachusetts voted as she did, and cannot account for it. For some of the rest, I can conjecture the reasons. Upon the whole, the plan mentioned in the enclosed copy of an affidavit* seems to have been in agitation; and the affidavit probably will convince you that it was a rascally piece of business. Ogden was a contractor for carrying the mail by stage the first year, an artful, selfish, troublesome man, who did not do his duty, for which I frequently found fault with him, and, by direction of the Board of Treasury, took the opinion of a lawyer about suing him on his contract. He has never forgiven me to this day. Dayton is his brother-in-law, a member of Congress, who took his seat this year for the first time. From the consultation having taken place between them, it seems as if Dayton (whom I hardly knew even by sight) had determined to revenge Ogden's quarrel, and that between them they had laid the enclosed plan for the purpose, before he came to Congress. As he came here, he boasted, by the way, of what he would do. I heard of it, and counter
* This affidavit is misplaced at pp. 3, 4.- EDs.
acted him; but he gave me a great deal of trouble, and I have seldom been at rest since. But I never heard, before you informed me, that my removal had been seriously agitated in Congress; or, rather, that any vote had been taken about it. North Carolina must have been the 6th State. A friend has intimated to me that a member from that State wanted the office for himself. I am pretty confident that Rhode Island would have been in my favour. It seems W. was friendly to me; but I wonder he never gave me any hint of what was doing, as he was often at my house, always met a friendly reception, and I was unreserved in my communications to him. G. is a coxcomb, whose friendship I would not wish for; he thinks more of himself than of all the world beside, and makes himself ridiculous in almost every company he visits. You would laugh to hear the remarks made on him by the ladies. I don't know who my two friends were that are mentioned in the affidavit, but suspect that Mr. Gorham and Mr. King were intended. With respect to the stages, I have no objection against employing them, when it can be done advantageously to the public; but I cannot, in conscience, injure the latter to save the former. The discretionary power is a two-edged sword, and its edge is sharpened by this proviso: "That a preference be given to stages, in cases where the public will sustain no material injury by it." It is left to me to judge of this" injury." If the stage proprietors demand an exorbitant price, and I refuse to give it because I think it would materially injure the public, one party will say I am an enemy to stages, and determined to destroy that "useful establishment." If, on the other hand, I agree to their demands, the other party will say I wantonly squander public money, and am not fit to be trusted with it; for the riders offered to carry the mail for much less. You see what a dilemma I am in, and that it is almost impossible to keep clear of both Scylla and
Charybdis. The rule I have hitherto followed, and which I shall continue to follow, is to do in every case what appears to me to be my duty, and leave events to God. He put me in the office; and, if he allows me to be removed from it, I shall content myself with the reflection that I have faithfully done my duty while I was in office, and the hope that I am afterwards to be useful in some other way, which Providence will point out to me. I am too much of a Christian to be a politician. Thank you speaking to Russell.
Webster (in his magazine* just published), in reviewing Minot, "animadverts on an expression indulged not only by Mr. Minot, but by those elegant and judicious historians, Mr. Belknap and Dr. Ramsay; viz., averse from instead of averse to." The note is lengthy, and I cannot transcribe it; but you will probably see it ere long. I have not time to look, but, if I recollect rightly, you noted averse from as an erratum in the table. Perhaps W. may be told of this, or the expression may be defended. I am going on with Elliot. My whole self loves yours.
Adieu for the present.
HAZARD TO BELKNAP.
NEW YORK, Oct. 14, 1788.
MY DEAR SIR, -I am well informed that no vote has been taken on the removal of the P. M. G., but that it is probable his opponents may have been calculating their chance of success, and supposed that 6 States would be with them. So that W. must have been mistaken.
There is not a sufficient number of States represented now to form a Congress; but I am told the Committee on the P. O. intend to have a report ready for the new Con
* Webster published in New York, in 1788, the "American Magazine," which failed for want of support, and was after that year discontinued. — EDS.
gress; and, from their complexion, I suspect it will not be very favourable. I must "meet them at Philippi." The man you mentioned is talked of as my successor.
The Ishmaelitish printer at Philadelphia has lost his cause before the Assembly, who have determined that his charges against the judges are not a sufficient ground for impeachment. It is said he has threatened the lives of the judges, and is now bound to the peace on that account.
I expect company every moment to dinner, so must bid you good-bye, when I have added that we are all well, send love, and I am
HAZARD TO BELKNAP.
NEW YORK, Oct. 25, 1788.
MY DEAR SIR, -Lest I should forget it, I now mention what I have been prevented from doing before: that Mr. Morse desired me to inform you that he expects to be at Charlestown on Sunday the 2d November, and to be there two Sabbaths. He is now in Connecticut. Please to give him the enclosed, when you see him. We had a meeting in our church last Thursday evening, to determine whether we should invite Mr. Muir to preach two months longer among us, his time having expired. It was carried in the negative, 174 con and 141 pro. His friends are much dissatisfied, and insist that the decision was not fair. There was improper warmth on both sides. What the issue will be is uncertain. Mr. Muir's friends, I am informed, have frequent meetings, and I think it probable some of them will separate from us.
As there will hardly be a Congress before the new Government begins, I suppose my affairs will remain pretty much in statu quo till then. If, in the mean time, you can make favourable impressions on the minds of any