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THE BELKNAP PAPERS.
EBENEZER HAZARD TO JEREMY BELKNAP.
NEW YORK, January 11, 1788. MY DEAR SIR, – You have again got me largely in your debt. I cannot help it. Why did you propose discontinuing the Foresters? I was surprised to see “and concluded.” Jedediah Morse was the man. His Gazetteer will undoubtedly interfere with yours.
January 16. I was twice interrupted in proceeding only so far, and obliged to stop. Mr. Morse's intention is to publish both a Geography and Gazetteer, and he has made considerable progress in both : he has already spoken to a printer about the former, and has made such proficiency in the latter that the Geographer-general of the Union (who had a similar intention) has dropped his design, and given Mr. Morse the materials he had collected, and a promise of farther assistance. For these reasons, I think it will hardly be worth your while to prosecute your plan. The state of your sales here is exactly as I informed you before. I have not heard lately from New Haven, nor have I been able to do any thing yet with the Boston bank-note : however, I will order Bryson to pay Aitken 5 dollars, and try to dispose of the note hereafter. Money is so exceedingly hard to be got, that I have no doubt Aitken wants it. Don't the Columbians owe you something?
Do you hear any thing from General Sullivan yet? I hope he may have interest enough with the Assembly to get them to do something for you. The packet for Mr. Spotswood has been forwarded. Did you not misunderstand his request of “another guinea's worth”? Did not he mean of the Foresters? I was much pleased with the Life. I would willingly assist you if I could, but biography lies entirely out of my road. Will not Neal's History of the Puritans and Mather's Magnalia furnish you with valuable shreds, which may be wove into a new web? By the last post, I received the enclosed two packets for you. There is a Society in London for the abolition of the slave-trade, and I am a member of a Society instituted here for promoting the manumission of slaves, and protecting such as have been, or may be, liberated. The London Society has requested us to inform them what has been done in the several States tending to promote the designs of our institution; and, at a meeting of our Committee of Correspondence last evening, some others, with myself, were appointed to collect the information. Will you find out the following particulars for me?
1. Are there any slaves in New Hampshire or Massachusetts ?
2. May any be imported into either ?
3. Have any laws been passed in either respecting slaves ? If there have, what is the substance of them ?
4. Are the children of negroes born free in those States ?
5. If there are slaves, have any (and what) steps been taken for their emancipation ?
6. Have their children an equal right to education in the town schools with those of whites? If you can communicate any other information upon this subject, which I have not hinted at, I will thank you for it.
What will your Convention do? Will they say aye or no ? if aye, will it be said by such a majority as to secure the peaceable adoption of the new Constitution ? Much, I think, depends upon them; and I believe our conduct will be much influenced by theirs.
We are all pretty well at present, though we have been much troubled with colds. No 3d coming yet. We have our hands full with two. Aye, we wish you and Mrs. B. could spend an evening with us, by our fireside, or that we could with you, by yours; but we fear this is rather to be wished than expected, at present: lowever, though we cannot have the pleasure of seeing our friends, we are happy to hear that they are comfortably situated.
Mr. Wilson (one of our ministers) has lately received a call from Charleston, in South Carolina, which I am rather inclined to think he will accept: indeed, the state of his health, to which I believe a Southern climate would be favourable, seems to render it necessary. The congregation are so sensible of this, that, at a meeting on Monday last, we unanimously agreed to his dismission, if the Presbytery, which is to meet the 22d inst., think his removal adviseable. This will make an opening for somebody; but it is not every one that will suit us. He must be a Calvinist, a man of popular talents, and not unacquainted with the graces. Inter nos, how do you think our friend Buck (of P th) would do? Is he “come-at-able”? Would he turn Presbyterian? What is his salary?
Our rivers are much obstructed by ice, and this is a stormy day. We all send love as usual. I am Yours affectionately,
[Copy of affidavit enclosed.]
January 11, 1788.
I was in company with Colonel Matthias Ogden and Captain Jonathan Dayton, at Elizabethtown, Crane’s Ferry. After some conversation respecting the conveyance of the mail this present year, they begun to question me how and in what manner I came to be the person that the Postmaster-general made choice of to contract with. The answer I gave them: I supposed that the proposals I sent in was the best that the Postmastergeneral had received. They farther asked me the date of my proposals I gave in to the Postmaster-general, which answer I gave: 1 must refer them to Mr. Hazard, for I had not the copy of the proposals I sent in. It appeared to me, from the whole of their conversation, that they wanted me to say something respecting Mr. Hazard, that they could impeach his character. The reason of my thinking so: Captain Dayton said he was decidedly in favour of displacing the Postmaster-general; and the plan that was mentioned for to displace the Postmaster-general was to nominate some person in Congress, who lived to the eastward of New York, for Postmastergeneral, as that would naturally divide Mr. Hazard's interest in Congress: as, they said, the Southern members were much against the present Postmaster-general; and, they further said, that two members in particular, that was great friends to Mr. Hazard, was out of Congress, which circumstance would make it easier to get the present Postmaster-general displaced.*
City of New York, ss.
Personally appeared before me, William W. Gilbert, Esq., one of the aldermen of the said city, Ichabod Grumman, who, being duly sworn, did depose that the above declaration, subscribed by him in my presence, and every part thereof, is strictly true.
Sworn before me, this 26th day of February, 1788.
WM. W. GILBERT, Alderman. (Copy.)
* This paper was enclosed in a letter on p. 67. - Eps.
BELKNAP TO HAZARD.
Boston, January 13, 1788.
MY DEAR SIR, – I promised, in my last, to give you some account of our Convention. They began to come together on Wednesday last, and they have been growing in number, till they now count 329! The Representatives' Chamber was so crowded with them that they adjourned, on Thursday P.M., to the meeting-house in Brattle Street, for the convenience of two stoves placed there; but, the house being ill-contrived for an assembly of speakers, they found it impossible to hear one another, and so adjourned, yesterday, back again to the State House. They do not seem yet to be settled in their seats, and have done no business but settling contested elections and other preliminaries. Among them are some of the insurgents of last winter; and it is supposed that, when they come to the point in hand, there will be a hard struggle. This week will probably produce something; and the result of the Connecticut Convention, which was announced by the post last evening, will, I hope, have some good effect. It was yesterday moved to send for Mr. Gerry, that he might give an account of his reasons for not signing the Constitution; but a majority appeared against it. This has a favourable aspect. Gorham, King, and Strong, the other delegates to the General Convention, are members of this body, and will doubtless have influence. King arrived here yesterday from New York.
You have not favoured me with a line for some weeks. I know your engagements and your attention to business too well to be in any pain at the omission; but I really wish to hear from you, and am, dear sir, with the kindest regards to Mrs. Hazard and your little ones, in which Mrs. Your affectionate friend,