The History of New York State
Book XII, Chapter 4, Part 4

Editor, Dr. James Sullivan

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Pam


DeWitt Clinton believed that Chief Justice Morgan Lewis would prove "sufficiently plastic to mould to his liking"; on the other hand Hamilton was quietly confident that the Chief Justice would, at the proper time, assert some independence. Nevertheless, he recognized that the retirement of Lansing increased the chance of Burr appreciably; indeed, he thought the latter would now win.

Burr followed his usual campaigning method of making an intensive canvass. His ward workers seemed to be everywhere in New York City. "It was the contest of April, 1800, over again, save that Hamilton did not speak of openly oppose." Hamilton's influence also was not much in evidence, for Burr had considerable Federalist support, also most of Lansing's following. But Hamilton's quiet warning against Burr had quiet but sure effect, and when the vote was finally compared, it was seen "that for every republican voting for Burr, a Federalist, influenced by Hamilton, voted for Lewis." #33 Burr, had, indeed, done well. he had overcome DeWitt Clinton's power in the stronghold of the latter, carry New York City by a hundred; but the powerful Livingston up-State influence, coupled with the quiet work of the Great Federalist, had been too much. Morgan Lewis was elected by a majority of more then 8,000." #34

The Burr-Hamilton Duel--The plight of the unsuccessful candidate was, indeed, desperate. He had thrown away the national office; he had thrown off party allegiance; he had intrigued against the Nation; with bankrupt purse as well as in honor, having tried to win votes by letting the public know of "his honest endeavor to free himself from debt of disposing of his estate." He had lost purse, party, position; after having had the greater honors the Nation possessed almost within his grasp he had lost everything and now stood dishonored, an outcast--almost without a country. In this desolate state, when injuries assumed ten-fold magnitude, Burr realized that ever before him in all his struggles had been one man, Hamilton, ever ready to dash from his hand the cup from which he yearned to drink, ever ready to breakup while still in the rough clay every idol of Burr that enthusiasts who knew not the real character of their subject began to make. Wherever Burr turned, Hamilton, his nemesis, was before him. But for him, he might have been President; but for him, he might have been Governor. But for him--who knows? He might, perhaps, have become President or Dictator of the Northern Confederacy; and but for the brilliance of Hamilton at the bar, his own by no means mediocre qualities as a lawyer might receive more favorable notice and yield the higher pecuniary return he then stood so sorely in need of, if he would reestablish himself, financially.

Burr was of that secretive nature which, when thwarted, is apt to shrink into itself to brood over the wrong s which, in these dark inner chambers, take on the most evil offensiveness. The balm of kindness had long been passed out of Burr's heart; the bitterness of oft-thwarted ambition had taken its place, and had so thoroughly spread gall through his system that he was no longer sensitive to the sweeter aspects of life. It seems more than possible that, while brooding over his misfortunes after the Governorship defeat, Burr saw that he might just as well be out of the world if Hamilton remained in it. His future possibilities seemed to be as hopeless as his present state, unless he could break through, or down, the Hamilton resistance.

When Burr reached a realization of this, it is said that he "deliberately determined to kill" Hamilton. It hardly seems fair to impute such a superlative degree of criminal intent. True, the disordered mind of the Vice-President might have been ready to exult in the death of Hamilton, but that Burr would stoop to murder, seems hard to believe. The facts do not give positive proof of such an assertion. He challenged Hamilton, and they fought--as gentlemen of courage had bought for a century before their time--but no unfair advantage was taken, and had it been Burr's destiny to fall in that encounter, in which the chances were equal, he would no doubt have taken that way out of their differences without reproach or regret. Maybe, he was glad that opportunity came of meeting his rival on a field where he would have equal chance. In other walks Hamilton's personality, eloquence and moral integrity would always make his own efforts appear drab or colorless, but on a field where only bullets spoke they would at least and one would soon cease to annoy the other Burr would rather die than continue to live with Hamilton's hand, like the sword of Damocles, ever uplifted against him.

It is said that Burr, with intent to challenge Hamilton, knowing that Hamilton, never a skilled shot, was and would be quite out of practice with arms." But one important point is overlooked, to wit; that choice of weapons is the privilege of the challenged. Had Hamilton chosen the sword, Burr's long practice in marksmanship would have availed him nothing. The worst that it seems feasible to impute to Burr is that he was happy in thinking that an opportunity to challenge had come, and that he would be happier if he emerged victorious, with his adversary hors de combat. This would be pitiless, but not dishonorable thought.

The circumstances of the duel need not be restated here. They have so often been given. Suffice to say that Burr, in June, 1804, objected to a remark Hamilton was said to have made at a dinner party in Albany four months before. Burr did not mind imputations against his political integrity, but that his personal character should be vilified aroused his ire. Of course, there had been earlier instances during his public career in which his personal character had been torn to shreds by his political enemies, and he had shown no resentment. But now, with defeat heaped upon defeat, with the whole world against him, Burr's indignation had flared at the thought that Hamilton had added to his opinion of Burr as a political leader "a still more despicable opinion." Burr drew Hamilton's attention tot he words "more despicable," asking for acknowledgment or denial of their use. Burr's letter was couched in offensive terms, and delivered as it was by William P. Van Ness, it seemed to suggest that a challenge depended upon Hamilton's answer. Hamilton could not be intimidated. He would not be interrogated, neither would he make acknowledgment or denial, though he was ready to avow or disavow any definite opinion with which he might be charged." If Burr would not, or could not, see the matter in the same light then, though he regretted it, Hamilton was willing to "abide the consequences." In a second exchange of letters, Hamilton said that his remarks had turned wholly upon political topics and had no relation to Burr's private character. The latter, however, deemed the reply to be "a mere evasion." A challenge came to Hamilton seen afterwards. The duel was inevitable and Hamilton did not evade the issue. Bur certain public responsibilities must be first disposed of. So he set himself calmly to complete all pending professional mattes, and attended to his public responsibilities, while keeping the matter of the impending duel an absolute secret. One evening, on July 4, the duelists-to-be both attended the same festive function, the annual dinner of the Society of the Cincinnati, of which Hamilton was president, succeeding Washington. Burr left before the festivities were at an end, but Hamilton stayed until the end. He was especially gay and hilarious, on one occasion leading upon the table and singing "The Drum," an old camp song. Six days later, Hamilton was ready to meet his fate, though he was sorely perplexed. He, a defender of lay and order, recognized that he would soon be violating it, and that the might not have an opportunity, later, of explaining. So he penned a paper, drafted for publication in the event of his death, justifying his acceptance of the challenge, notwithstanding his abhorrence of such a method of composing personal differences. In part he wrote: "To those who, with me, abhorring the practice of dueling, may think that I ought on no account to have added to the number of bad examples, I answer that my relative situation, as well in public as in private, enforcing all the considerations which constitute what men of the world denominate honor, imposed on me as I thought a peculiar necessity not to decline the call. The ability to be in the future useful, whether in resisting mischief, or effecting good, in these crises of our public affairs which seem likely to happen, would probably be inseparable from a conformity with public prejudice in this particular." #35

Hamilton's perplexity was not different from that which had come to many high-minded law-abiding men in and before his time. Dueling was forbidden, and New York lawyers had to take oath to observe the statute, but to decline a call, to ignore a challenge, would be inconceivable to men of proud sensitive nature and good reputation. Jealous of his honor, proud of his military reputation, Hamilton would not live in a world which would point to him as a coward who had refused to fight he must stand before Burr's gun, even though he would not fire himself.

So the die was cast. Next morning was as far as Hamilton could see. Before retiring, therefore, he penned another letter. It had reference to national affairs, and he might not have another chance. Hamilton's patriotism was strong. Even in his most extreme personal peril his thoughts were more of his country than of himself. The letter was to Theodore Sedgwick, co-plotter with Pickering. Hamilton warned Sedgwick against secession. "Dismemberment of our empire," he said, "will be a clear sacrifice of great positive advantages, without any counterbalancing good; administering no relief to our real disease, which is democracy--the poison of which, by a subdivision, will only be the more concerned in each part, and consequently the more virulent."

Next morning, Wednesday, July 11, Hamilton and his second, Pendleton, crossed the Hudson River to Weehawken. At seven o'clock they were at the place of battle. Burr and Van Ness, his second, were already there, also a surgeon, Dr. Hosack. The secret had been well kept, the only other person who had been told of the impending duel being John Swartout, who on entering Burr's room at daybreak that morning had found the challenger still sound asleep. On the field, Burr was calm, imperturbable, morose. Hamilton showed no signs of fear, event though he knew that the fight would be one-sided, that, while he intended to throw away his own fire, his body, at ten paces, would be an easy target for a deliberate vindictive adversary. It almost seemed that Hamilton had resolved to offer up his life to remove the pressure of social despotism that profited only revengeful natures such as Burr's One shot deliberately aimed by Burr was enough. The greatest living American reeled forward--a martyr to a feudal conventionality which for centuries had tyrannically bound gentlemen, and had been robbing all nations of some of their greatest citizens, their most constructive statesmen, their noblest men, leaving the disordered, unhealthy, vengeful, destructive types free to still further impoverish their nation by their uncured malevolence.

Death did not come to Hamilton for thirty-one hours, but from the first he knew that the wound was mortal. Burr did not. And, as the latter morosely sipped his wine and brooded over his wrongs while Hamilton lay dying, his only regret was that his sot had not penetrated the heart of his rival. This frame of mind perhaps provides justification for the charge that the Vice-President had actually planned cold, deliberate murder. The coroner though so, the verdict was murder, and Burr had to flee from New York State. For a while he became an exile, wandered in foreign lands, alone. He was execrated throughout the country. With the abrupt ending of the brilliant career of the great Federalist, his won had ended. Talented though Burr was, fascinating though he could be when he chose, exalted as had been his standing, socially and politically, he was, by the verdict of all good men--a murderer. He had fallen--like Lucifer, like a star from heaven, write Dr. Lord--and could never again rise in the esteem of his countrymen. Burr was doomed to eternal ignominy, to perpetual disgrace. His name is forever blasted. Forever will Americans, right or wrong, think of Burr only as the man who robbed the Nation of the greatest statesman of his age. Little satisfaction is there in recording that Burr passed out of New York history with the death of his great rival, for Hamilton also was gone--gone to an untimely end at an age when many great men are just beginning their public careers. Hamilton was only forty-seven years old--the age at which Bacon was made Lord Chancellor. Who knows to what greater eminence Hamilton would have risen had his life run its normal span? He could not have become President, of course, being a citizen only by naturalization, but there were other exalted places open to such a great mind. Kent thought he might have rivaled Socrates or Bacon "in researches after truth and in benevolence to mankind." Maybe, had he lived another twenty years, Hamilton would have rivaled even himself, and given to America a blessing as inestimable as that by which he had brought the Nation out of bankruptcy. But Fate had decreed a different end. Hamilton was dead. Still, no destructive agency can rob us of the satisfaction we derive from the knowledge that history shows that Hamilton was as great a statesman as has ever lived in this great country, also that Burr was one of the most contemptible men of his time.

The life of Hamilton inspired someone #36 to write:

Great was the boons which this pure patriot gave.
Doomed by his rival to an early grave;
A Nation's tears upon that grave were shed.
Oh! Could the Nation by his truths be led!
Then of a land, enriched from sea to sea,
Would other realms its earnest following be,
And the lost ages of the world restore
Those golden ages which the bards adore.

But odes to Burr would not be of heroic strains. His career held no inspiration for the muse. Rather, it impels thoughts somewhat like that which came to the ex-Governor Morgan Lewis in 1830. Then, in answer to a question as to Burr, he said: "I have not spoken to the damned reptile for twenty-five years." Most of his contemporaries though as execrably of Burr, if at all; and the curse followed him to the end of his long life of eighty years.

The tragic death of Hamilton was marked by an outburst of spontaneous grief throughout the Nation. Federalist and Republican alike mourned the great American lawyer and statesman. Members of the bar resolved to wear mourning badges for three weeks. The interment took place on July 14, in Trinity Church, and then Hamilton's old colleague and lifelong admirer, Gouverneur Morris, "pronounced a funeral oration worthy of the occasion, simple, eloquent and just."

The great lesson which Hamilton had seemed to hope would be well learned throughout the country, by the sacrifice that the "gentlemen's code" had demanded of him, was only slowly grasped. It is true that fewer dueling opportunities were possible for men of Burr's disordered type. Dueling was banned in New York State, and it might be supposed that the Nation would have risen against such an absurd and barbarous custom, but such was not the case. Hamilton's death should have outlawed the so-called code of honor, which branded a man with the stamp of cowardice who ignored a challenge, but in fact the historic ground upon which Hamilton fell mortally wounded was, during the next decade, so frequently the scene of bloody duels that the landowner at last was forced in desperation to remove the monument which had been erected, by the St. Andrew's Society, "in memory of that great and good man, Major-General Alexander Hamilton, on the spot where he received the wound which terminated in his death and which deprived America of her greatest pride and ornament." Captain Deas, who owned the land on the heights above the dueling ground, stopped many would-be duelists in front of he obelisk before he decided to destroy it, so that it should not longer furnish "a bloody beacon to posterity." #37 Because of its "pernicious effect" upon the "young and chivalrous," one New York writer, in 1815, considered the Hamilton monument as "a baneful influence, not a vestige of which should be suffered to remain on earth." Public opinion was at last taking a hand to stamp out dueling.

The Livingston Clan--The obloquy that shrouded Burr in 1804 was, it may be supposed, especially pleasing to one political leader in New York. De Witt Clinton may have found especial satisfaction in realizing that further pursuit of the benighted Vice-President was unnecessary. Fate had removed from his path one of the most awkward obstacles to political greatness. Indeed, ere that eventful year ended, it seemed that the old order had completely passed away, and that the new order, with himself at the head, had come to New York. All the great men of the past had gone. Hamilton was dead; Burr was worse then dead; Jay was in private life; his uncle, George Clinton, was Vice-president-Elect, in which exalted national office the former Governor was to remain, in benign inoffensiveness for the remainder of his life; Chancellor Livingston was in the diplomatic service; his brother, Edward Livingston, was in disgrace, exiled to Louisiana--there seemed to be none of the elder statesmen left in State politics. The future was with the young men--if they followed young Clinton.

It is true that some trouble had developed between Governor Morgan Lewis and Mayor Clinton; but the latter was at first inclined to dismiss this as trivial. He had still to learn that the road of public life is never smooth. The chronic selfishness of man assures a never-failing crop of enemies to every successful public servant. The greater his advancement, the more numerous will be his enemies. The more aggressiveness he may show, the surer will he find others striving to counter it. Selfishness is the commonest of human traits. Fortunately, persistence is not so common. Governor Lewis did not begin his administration auspiciously. The appointment of Maturin Livingston, his son-in-law, to the recordership of New York City was somewhat inappropriate for the appointee was notoriously unfitted for the office. And it seems that the removal of Peter Buell Porter, a capable young lawyer of Ontario County, from a country clerkship was an "almost malevolent disregard of public opinion and the public service." Porter was very popular in western New York, but unfortunately have given his support to Burr against Lewis. However, the appointment of Associate-Justice James Kent to the Chief-Justiceship was an excellent one; and the naming of congressman Daniel D. Tompkins as Associate-Justice was not unfortunate. He was very young for judicial office, but proved to be well fitted.

DeWitt Clinton was very much displeased that Maturin Livingston was made recorder of New York. The thought that the Livingston clan now controlled the Council of Appointment was not pleasing to Clinton. But he was to have still further reason for displeasure. On one most important measure, Clinton was to lose control of the Legislature also.

The opportunity he sought of combating the growing influence of the Livingstons came in the determination of certain financiers of New York to secure a charter, by honest means or corrupt, for the Merchants' Bank of New York, which was actually doing business under general laws, having twice unsuccessfully tried to obtain a charter. Clinton had been the chief opposing factor, and the Legislature of 1804 had gone farther than mere refusal of charter; it had passed a measure by which no unincorporated banking concern could be banking business after the first Tuesday of May, 1805.

This seemed to have disposed of the troublesome matter, but the controversy came into the 1805 session of the legislature with increasing bitterness. DeWitt Clinton contended that two banks were adequate in New York City--one by the way was his own, the Manhattan Company; also he thought it unwise to charter any more Federalist institutions. Governor Lewis, however, believed that the city needed another bank; indeed, the volume of business already done by the Merchants' Bank, as a [private concern, justified its petition for charter, the Governor thought; moreover, he could not follow Clinton in marrow partisanship. Maturin Livingston was sent to Albany to oppose the measure before the Legislature, but he supported his father-in-law, Governor Lewis. Finally, the Governor, with the aid of the Federalist legislators and a small Republican majority, overcame the opposition. So the bill was passed. A way of defeating it, however, still remained. When the act came before the Council of Revision, which had power of veto over all legislation, it was seen that the Clinton faction was still strong. Justice Ambrose Spencer, who, in 1801, had so valiantly supported Clinton in garnering, for Republicans from Federalists, all State offices, now came forward in the Council of Revision to oppose the act, which, he said, would benefit "no one, save a few individuals inspired solely by cupidity." He produced affidavits of certain Republican Assemblymen, to prove that lobbying explained the passage of the obnoxious measure. "To sanction a bill thus marked in its progress through one branch of the Legislature with bribery and corruption," said Justice Spencer, "would be subversive of all pure legislation, and become a reproach to a government hitherto renowned for the wisdom of it s councils and the integrity of its legislatures." #38 However, notwithstanding that Senator Ebenezer Purdy, the father of the measure, had resigned from the Senate, in order, so it seems, to escape an investigation, majority of the Council of Revision considered that the ever-increasing financial needs of the metropolitan area justified the act, even though its passage might have been gained by improper means. So thinking, a majority of the Council refused to veto the measure. Consequently, it became law. The Council of Revision at that time consisted of Governor Lewis, Chancellor Lansing, chief Justice Kent, Associate Justices Brockholst Livingston, Smith Thompson, and Ambrose Spencer. All save Spencer voted for the measure. Kent was a Federalist, and Lansing a decidedly independent Republicans; the others, with the exception of Spencer, were all of the Livingston family--by blood or marriage. This thought must have been galling to DeWitt Clinton, for all legislation was thus virtually controlled by a strong opposing influence.

Clinton was uncontrollable in the face of opposition; indeed, he was not able to govern himself. Passion overcame reason. Like a spoiled only child, Clinton, when crossed, would flare with petulant fury. With little to gain but much to lose, he now threw down the gauntlet to the Livingston clan. No longer would he permit the fight against them to be carried by proxy; he would put himself in the van. He would fight the Senatorial battles himself--in his own person. He would again get control of the Council of Appointment. Soon, now even the Council of Revision would dare to take his recommendations lightly. Subjugation of the Livingstons alone would satisfy Clinton. So, the next electioneering campaign featured Clinton and his adherents in a strenuous effort to win places in the State Senate, on the platform that "a new bank has been created in our city, and its charter granted to political enemies."

Clinton won, but did not count the cost. Of course, he could not foresee that the Livingstons were, by their own choice, soon to relinquish political power in New York. As a rule, Clinton dealt only with the present, leaving the future to chance. The Livingstons were in his way, and must be swept out of it. That was his immediate task. In his eagerness to overcome them, he was led into pitfalls which he might have avoided, had he been less impatient. This fault "condemned him to a career of almost unbroken opposition for the rest of his life. It made precedents that lived to curse him; and it compelled alliances that weakened him." #39 Of course, hindsight is clearer then foresight; the most effective moves are always more obvious to the strategist after the battle. Progress has to take the materials in the rough, and mix them to the best of its ability while the furnace is hot. Polishing is alter process. Sometimes a recast is necessary, but generally the rough product cam be smoothed in the second process, whereas if the first step be not taken, the second is impossible. This seems to have been DeWitt Clinton's basic philosophy.

So Clinton went his imperious way, forging ahead even though he made mistakes. In January, 1806, by irregular means, he secured the appointment of himself and two friends to the Council of appointment. With this powerful weapon he began his attack on the Livingston citadel. Maturin Livingston was removed from the recordership, and Dr. Tillotson, brother-in-law of Robert R. Livingston, was displaced as Secretary of State by Elisha Jenkins. The Democratic newspapers took sides. The "American Citizen" of New York and the "Register" of Albany leading for Clinton, and the New York "Chronicle" and Poughkeepsie "Journal" furiously counter-attacking. Governor Lewis was the direct centre of attack by the Clinton papers, but there is no doubt Clinton was aiming at the Livingston power.

Clinton has anathematized all followers of Burr while the latter was an active force against him; but inasmuch as Burr was no longer a potential factor in New York politics, Clinton was ready to take under his wing all former supporters of the unfortunate leader. As the Clinton and Lewis factions began to maneuver for advantage in the elections of 1806 DeWitt Clinton is found making overtures to John Swartout--his erstwhile adversary of dueling days--and Matthew L. Davis, whom he had prevented Jefferson from appointing to a Federal office, in 1801. Necessity is not fastidious. Clinton is supposed to have offered, through General Bailey, to bring all the Burr black Sheep into the Republican fold, and not to differentiate when dispensing patronage. When this alleged deal was prematurely disclosed, Clinton pronounced the story false. However, his denial was not accepted, and another Burr faction, which was soon afterwards organized, joined the Lewisites at Martling's Long Room. There a Protestant faction, known as Martling Men, was formed, whose enmity was destined to follow Clinton relentlessly until he fell.

As election day approached, the Lewisites, or "Quids," as they were called, gave the Clintonians no peace. The charges of Aristides against DeWitt Clinton were rehearsed; his boundless ambition was decried; his corrupt machine was declared to be a menace to the States. The Martling Men accused him of duplicity, of a desire only for place and pay. Chancellor Lansing disclosed the real reason why he had withdrawn from the gubernatorial race in 1804. It appears that DeWitt Clinton wished to change places with Lansing, and become Chancellor himself. It was futile now for Clinton to say that he would not have accepted the office had it been offered to him, for the incredulously inclined pointed to the fact that at that very moment Clinton was holding three offices and drawing three stipends from the publics treasury. One of the offices--the mayoralty--yielded him about $20,000 a year.

The Federalists, though not strong, decided to support Lewis against the imperious Republican. William W. Van Ness, cousin of Aristides, cam almost as suddenly into prominence at this time. He was an orator of greater power then the acid-minded champion of Aaron Burr. What he had to say of men was as powerful, in being truer and kindlier. William W. Van Ness had favorably impressed the Assembly in 1805, his finished wit and sweetness of temper bringing into his eloquent utterances a brighter, kindlier aspect that charmed his hearers. Hammond thought him possessed "of every gift that nature and fortune could bestow--wit, beauty, good nature, suave manners, eloquence, and admirable conversation." Van Ness therefore drew to his standard the better element of political followers. The coalition of Federalists and Quids #40 therefore became a healthy unit, and gave the Lewisites a small majority at the election.

Clinton now had to prepare for squally weather; his supporters had to look for such treatment as they had been meting out to others when power rested with them. They were not left long in doubt. When the legislature convened in January, 1807, the first of the Clinton faction to go was Solomon Southwick, a likable man, who had been clerk of the Assembly since 1803. Popular as he was, his part in the last press campaign, #41 his connection with the Clinton papers, called for his defeat.

The Lewis Council of Appointment was organized on the second day of the session, and soon got into action. Clinton had discreetly withdrawn his candidacy for re-election, and the new Council consisted of four Quids. The Democrat still was the strongest party in the legislature, and DeWitt Clinton controlled it, though the coalition of Federalists and Quids gave the latter a slight majority. Nevertheless, the Democratic leader hardly thought that the Council of Appointment would dare to strike him down, vindictively. He was mayor of New York, quite popular there with a certain class, and, it seems, quite capable. To remove him would be too gross an exhibition of political depravity, thought Clinton, but he was the first that Lewis reached out for; and to make matters worse, one of the Livingston family, Justice Smith Thompson, a brother-in-law, was to be hoisted into his place as mayor. However, Thompson preferred to remain on the Supreme Court bench, so Colonel Marinus Willett, one of the Martling Men, was appointed.

Such a ruthless removal, such a palpable instance of personal antipathy being able to outweigh the public good, had hardly ever before been so flagrantly manifested. Clinton was removed without warning or explanation. Clinton had done so well in mayoral office, he had proved himself to be such an excellent executive, that Republicans were stirred to immediate action. On the very day of his removal, a majority of the Republican legislators, guided by the deposed mayor, met and nominated Daniel D. Tompkins for the governorship in place of Morgan Lewis.

Of course, the Governor had good precedent for his actions. He again placed Maturin Livingston in the recordership and Thomas Tillotson in the secretaryship of State, but Clinton could hardly complain of actions that were based upon precedents he himself had set. However, Governor Lewis' political following was not so strong that he could safely follow the standards set by his opponent. The coalition was, at best, a temporary structure, and even half a gale would shake it dangerously. Republican Quids looked with jealous suspicion upon Federalist colleagues, and the Governor would hardly dare to appoint a Federalist to State office. It so happened that one was appointed, against even the wish of Governor Lewis. The elevation of Brockholst Livingston to the United States Supreme Court bench caused a vacancy on the State bench. Governor Lewis wished to appoint Maturin Livingston, but almost every other member of the Council of Appointment wanted someone else. Finally, William W,. Van Ness was agreed upon by a majority, much to the regret of the Governor, who had early seen that the appointment of Federalists to the most envied offices in the State, and by a Republican Governor, must inevitably react against himself.

Governor Lewis' removal of Clinton cost him the Governorship. In ever-increasing numbers, Republicans rallied to Tompkins "as the exponent of all that Republicans most prized"; Lewis was looked upon as their "most obstinate and offensive opponent." Sixty-five Republican members of the Legislature signed the address, drafted by DeWitt Clinton, supporting the candidacy of Tompkins, and only forty-five stood by Governor Lewis.


The History of New York State, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1927

This book is owned by Pam Rietsch and is a part of the Mardos Memorial Library

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