Albany Argus, "Contemptible," 26 January 1821

Albany Argus, "Contemptible," 26 January 1821


The mutilated and garbled manner in which Mr. Carter has published the letters of Judge Skinner and Mr. Van Buren in his last paper, exhibits in the most striking colors the base and grovelling malignity by which he is influenced. Nothing could possibly have more strongly exemplified the innate meanness of his character and disposition. Not content with disjointing the sentences in Mr. Skinner’s note to the post-master general; he has with the original before him, designedly given it a false date, viz: the 15th of March, 1820, instead of 1819, the true date. The object of this cannot be mistaken: The letter is now used for the purpose of proving an interference on the part of the general government, in the last election. To give it that effect, it was important that it should appear to have been written, to use the Governor’s own language during “the agitations preceding and accompanying it,” and not a year before, for then it would lose its whole force. Can any confidence be placed in the statements of an editor capable of such degrading meanness. The extreme virulence manifested towards Judge Skinner, by the Governor, together with his household troops, is in the highest degree honorable to him, and affords the most satisfactory evidence that he is worthy of the esteem and confidence of the republican party.

Had Judge Skinner’s political course been less consistent—had he not at all times evinced that his designs were fair and upright, that his views were expanded and liberal. And had he manifested an unstableness of purpose and laxity of principle; instead of the anathemas which have been denounced against him, he would have received the daily plaudits of these miserable wretches who cater for the gratification of the malignant, but fallen, powerless, and despised Clinton. If to-morrow he should evince the least deposition to halt—the least inclination to apostacy, and to mingle with the motly group, whose desperate fortunes as yet lead them to make a common cause with Clinton; as will the chiefs who lead, as the rank and file who follows would foreswear all they have sworn before; and to the loudest among the loud in the expression of the great deserts. But from such degradation, his good sense, his integrity, and patriotism will forever preserve him.

If possible, the publication of Mr. Van Buren’s letter is still more despicable. Here, indeed has been no falsification of date; but as if ashamed of this act of common honesty, he has tortured his invention to misrepresent it in the publication. A current copy of this letter, as written will be found below, and the public will perceive as well the falsity as the meanness of the paltry criticisms which have been made upon it. We also give a current copy of Judge Skinner’s letter.

We should not probably have thought it worth while to notice this pitiful misrepresentation of Mr. Van Buran’s letter, had it been the only one of which Mr. Carter had been guilty on this occasion; he had himself defeated the object of his malice by his very extravagance; but it was the wicked fraud he had committed, with respect to Judge Skinner’s letter, that has called forth these remarks; and our object is to fasten on the degraded editor of the Statesman, the charge of a willful falsification of the date of that letter. The pedantic tribe who minister to Clinton’s vanity, appear to regard the review of a hasty note, written on an envelope; and the success of little practices, by the superintendant of types, as matters of skill, and affairs of moment. We envy them not either the reputation or self-gratification they can derive from this source. The gentlemen to whom this article alludes, lay no claim to superiority in scholarship, nor do they ask to obtrude themselves on the world as men great literary attainments; when they do so, it will be time enough to discuss their pretensions in that particular. And it will be proper so to do, when like Clinton, they surround themselves by the pedagogues of other states; when like him, they make tributary men of science, to aid them in the attainment of a character to which they have no pretensions; when like him, they shall become mere literary harlequins exhibiting for the amusement, and reaping the contempt and disgust of the literary world.

Respecting Mr. Van Buren’s talents, of which Mr. Carter affects to think so lightly, we have no disposition, nor do we feel it necessary, to speak. It will be admitted by all, that they have been subjected to the severest scrutiny. Few men of his years have passed through a more severe ordeal. For eight years, he has occupied a seat in the Senate of this state; most of this period was a time of great political excitement, and part of it, of public war and of domestic strife and embarrassment. The share he took in the business and proceedings of that body, was certainly not inconsiderable; his opponents in that body, were among the most respectable of the Federal and Clintonian parties; and if in the severe contests in which he was there engaged, he was ever found wanting, or subjected to the triumph of his adversaries, let Mr. Carter say when, and to whom, and he is welcome to make it the cause of exultation.

Mr. Van Buren has several years, been actively and extensively engaged in his profession; and during that time it has become his frequent duty to contend in our courts of law and equity, with such men as Harrison, Emmet, Wells, Van Veghten, Henry, Hoffman, Jones, Williams, &c. in causes of the greatest importance and intricacy; no one, we are persuaded, would more cheerfully admit their superiority than Mr. Van Buren. But if, in the discharge of his professional duties, on the several interesting occasions referred to, he has greatly failed, it is quite as likely that his inability would be felt and acknowledged by those who have been witnesses of his exertions, as by the New-Hampshire professor. If no such inability has been seen; but if, on the contrary, he has acquired a standing in his profession, honorable to himself, and grateful to the feelings of his friends, he can have no objection to leave to De Witt Clinton and Nathaniel H. Carter, all the honor to be derived from their dissertations on the defects of his education.

(Mr. Van Buren’s letter)

My dear Sir—Our suffering,* owing to the rascality of deputy post masters, is intolerable, and cries aloud for relief. We find It absolutely impossible to penetrate the interior with our papers, and unless we can alarm them by two or three prompt removals, there is no limiting the injurious consequences that may result from it; let me therefore entreat the postmaster general to do an act of justice, and render us essential service, by the removal of Holt, of Herkimer, and the appointment of Jabez Fox, Esq.—Also of Howell, of Bath, and the appointment of our excellent friend, W. B. Rochester, Esq, a young man of the first respectability and worth in the state,—and the removal of Smith, at Little Falls, and the appointment of Hollister,—and the removal of Chamberlain, in Oxford, and the appointment of Lot Clark, Esq. I am in extreme haste, and can therefore add no more. Use the enclosed papers according to your discretion. If any thing is done, Let it be quickly done, and you may rely upon it, much good will result from it. Yours affectionately,


"April 4th, 1820.

"The Hon. Henry Meigs.”

*The copy furnished from the post-office department, is written sufferings. This is probably a mistake in the copy, or it may possibly, in the hurry of the moment, have been so written. From the manner in which Mr. Van Buren forms his g, at the end of a word, it may very easily be mistaken for gs.

(Judge Skinner’s letter.)

Albany, 15th March, 1819.

“The Hon. Return J. Meigs.

D. Sir—The memorial which I left with Mr. Meigs of New York, the subject matter of which I mentioned to you, when I had the honor of calling on you in December; I herewith enclose, hoping that it may meet your approbation; you manifested a willingness to make the removal and appointment without the petition if I had wished it, but I thought it most expedient to forward on the same.

         “The petitioners are very desirous, that it should be effected as soon as is practicable.

                                             With very great respect,

                                                      Your humble servant.

                                                            ROGER SKINNER.

I shall be at Albany until the middle of April, and will suggest the propriety of forwarding the papers to me at Albany.

Editorial Process Complete