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On Jefferson paying Callender's fine...



Item # 685587

August 23, 1802

AURORA GENERAL ADVERTISER, Frankford, Aug. 23, 1802

* President Thomas Jefferson
* James Callender squabble


Note that this issue was published in nearby Frankford to escape the Yellow Fever epidemic in Philadelphia.
Page 2 has an interesting 2 column comparison of "Callender versus Callender" as reported in the Richmond Recorder, headed: "The Recorder is 'a paper' says Callender, 'which fears nothing but the publication of falsehood' Let us see whether the publication for falsehoods gives this lover of truth much alarm."
This is followed by a report noting in part: "...If it was not Callender's trade to attack every meritorious character in the United States, we should be at some loss to comprehend the object of such an incoherent jumble of falsehood...Callender, as every body knows, was condemned by the infamous Chase [Supreme Court judge] under the sedition law to nine months imprisonment & to pay a fine of two hundred dollars. The imprisonment he suffered; the fine he paid. Mr. Jefferson, who knew how illy Callender could spare such a sum, very humanely presented him from his private purse, with a gratuity to that amount...".
Much more as the interesting account continues.
Four pages, a few very small holes to the front leaf not affecting mentioned content, nice condition.

The content noted above requires a backdrop of knowledge on one of the more interesting figures in early American politics.
James Callender was one of America's earliest "scandalmongers". A political journalist, his writings were often controversial.  He curried favor with Republican interests early on, landing a job with Benjamin Franklin Bache’s newspaper, the Aurora General Advertiser.  Firing darts at Federalists like Washington, Adams, and Hamilton made him good friends with Republicans like Jefferson.  In fact, Jefferson called Callender “a man of genius”.
He became a central figure in the press wars between the Federalist and Democratic-Republican parties. Pleased with Callender's attacks on his rivals Hamilton & Adams, Jefferson viewed him as journalistic ally, even supporting Callender financially.
But Callender's attack on President Adams had him jailed under the Sedition Act. But after Jefferson won the presidency he pardoned Callender, who then solicited employment as a postmaster which he felt was owed him by Jefferson. Jefferson denied it.
Callender then began publishing existing rumors claiming President Jefferson had children with slave Sally Hemings.

Category: Pre-Civil War