Description

    Describing Jefferson as the "Moonshine philosopher of Monticello" Timothy Pickering (1745-1829) Autograph Letter signed "T. Pickering", one page, 7.75" x 9.75", Washington, January 5, 1811 to James McHenry with integral address leaf addressed in his hand bearing his franking signature "Free T. Pickering". Pickering, a high Federalist who served in the cabinets of Washington and Adams, writes to his colleague, James McHenry, who had served as John Adams' Secretary of War, lampooning their arch-rival, Thomas Jefferson: "That I might not forget, and so 'neglect' the object of your request, I give here the words of 'Long Tom' (Wilkinson's appellation of - 'the moonshine philosopher of Monticello' as a gentleman of distinguished service and literature called him, in a letter to me) - I accordingly commissioned, in the month of August last, William Short' - etc His message book date Feb 24, 1809. From my childhood I was used to hear my father (a plain farmer but a man of sense) repeat to different people, (& particularly to clergymen who called at his house, and a few if any of whom, he thought sufficiently explicit in 'showing thes[e] people their sins') - these words of the wise man - 'the fear of man bringeth a snare'. This fear is the source of the evil you lament; the dread of slander from the vile; or of loving popularity, power, place or interest.""

    By this date, the Federalists had been out of power for eleven years and the bitterness toward the Democratic-Republicans grew more virulent. Jefferson's trade embargos against France and Great Britain did little to endear him to New England, the center of Federalist political power. After the War of 1812 broke out against Britain, Pickering and other Federalists convened the Hartford convention that publicly proposed several constitutional amendments, but secretly discussed the possible secession of New England from the United States. Rumors of this treasonous behavior spelled the demise of the Federalist party. Provenance: Walter R. Benjamin, The Collector, December, 1951 No. 714. Very light creasing at usual folds, else very fine condition with rich ink contrast and bright, clean paper. From the Henry E. Luhrs Collection. Accompanied by LOA from PSA/DNA.


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    Auction Dates
    February, 2006
    20th-21st Monday-Tuesday
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