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MVB to Benjamin Knower et al., 5 January 1822


The accompanying letter will show you what has been done here in regard to the post office and the present state of this question. If I could have supposed that our members could have removed ^recommended^ Mr V Rensseler, I would have exposulated with them on the subject. I have no doubt they are as much mortified about it now as I am. Before I knew about it the Post Master Gen. had committed himself to V.R. In that state of the question we thought proper to present the name of Chancellor Lansing. By us I mean the Vice President, Mr King and myself. The President being personally acquainted with the Chancellor and entertaining a personal regard for him we thought ^it^ the most likely mode to defeat the appointment of V.R. independent of a desire on our part to do something for the Chancellor. In the course you pursue you should have regard to the circumstance that the Post Master Genl. is committed &c, was so before I know that Southwick would be removed) on two points, Viz—the removal of Southwick and the appointment of V. R. and not only committed but evidently desirous that it should take place and that nothing but the positive interference of the President can arrest the proceeding. In this view of the matter you will see the propriety of uniting on your candidate and of making as impressive appeal to the President as practicable. The measures I advise are the following. 1st. Let the republicans of the City send a memorial to the President recommending the Chancellor if that is agreeable to them or if they should think as we do that a change of the candidate would be at this moment extremely hazardous if not decisive against us. It is proper however that you should know that no application upon this subject direct or indirect has come from the Chancellor on the subject, nor do I know that he is apprised of what is done here. In this memorial I would state simply the respectability ^&c^ of the Chancellor and the desire to see him provided for. Such a petition I suppose would be signed by as many federalist as would apply for V.R. It has been insinuated here that the place is desired for young Mr Lansing ^Livingstone^ and not for the Chancellor. Upon this subject there ought to be some ^an^ understanding. I do not think Mr Lansing ^Livingston^ has any such claim upon the party and if the office was not desired and desirable for the Chancellor himself I would not advocate it, 2d. I would ^have^ prepared and addressd the President a memorial to be signed by all the republican members of the Senate and assembly setting forth 1st why the office is a matter of State concern the reasons for which will readily occur to you. 2d I would admit V. R.s service but state what the general and state governments have already done for him and that his removal was in consequence of his becoming an inveterate partizan when he was made to share the fate of others I trust ^and that^ the government of the State have been justified by its peoples in the act 3d that whatever may be deemed a fit course at this time on the question of removing federalist from office on the ground of their politics you think ^that^ all other matters equal a Republican should be preferred for a new appointment on that ground only. I would present that question distinctly to the President that we may know hereafter what we are to expect. It can scarcly be necessary for me to say that that should be done with the utmost delicacy and respect. This is extremely important. If the petition should in the least degree wear the aspect of threating or scolding it would ^be ruinous^. At the same time let them speak ^with^ firmness and as if conscious of their rights and regardful of their duties, and lastly I would send a letter to those republican members who have subscibed V. R's. petition Viz—^Messrs^ Cambrelling, Morgan, Pearson, Borland Hanks, Campbell, Spencer, Rochester, Hubbard, Woodcock and Van Wyck, to be signed by all the members of the Legislature setting forth the strong reasons against having a federalist in the office at Albany. The regrets that are felt that they have acted as they have and requesting them to withdraw their recommendation. This letter will furnish them with good ground for doing what I am persauded will be very agreeable to them provided the request is couched in such terms as are not offensive which must not be lost sight of. They evidently ^undoubtedly^ did it through personal solicitation and without appreciating at the moment the importance of the place in a political point of view. I hope therefore ^that^ the utmost delicacy will be observed towards them as they are worthy honest fellows as ever lived. Especially I wish you to remember that dispatch is ^all^ important. By the means ^I propose^ we may defeat V. R's appointment. I say may for I cannot speak with confidence as the Postmaster Genl. is evidently determined on his appointment. It is ^said^ here that he has written to Mr Southwick that V. R. is his successor certain it is that he has decided in his favor, and that had it not been for our note to him V.R. would have been with you as soon as this letter. V.R. says that two of the heads of department are in his favor of whom Mr Calhoun is said to be one. I have not inquired with what correctness but it would not be amiss for Judge Skinner to write him on the subject I have been thus particular because I beleived it to be a question in which our friends would take a deep interest. Should we be ^un^successful I will take the liberty of suggesting hereafter the course I would advise ^to^ obtain redress or rather to improve our condition. I wish Mr Knower would show Mr Southwick, the correspondence between us and Mr Meigs that he may know that we had not sought his removal as this is true it is but right that he should know it. Since writing the preceding I see that Mr Livingston is chosen clerk. This may lead to a wish to change our candidate here. I do not know that it would ^not^ have that effect upon me if I was not reasonably ^morally^ certain that an attempt to get another man under the circumstances would be abortive. The circumstance of the Presidents personal knowledge of and personal regard for the Chancellor is decisive with me as to the illegible ^expediency^ of pressing him. I am however under the direction of my friends and will cheerfully acquiesce in what they advise.

In Great haste

yours sincerely


Copy in unknown hand.

Source: DLC Library of Congress
Collection: MVB Papers (DLC)
Series: Series 4 (3 December 1821-31 December 1824)