President Andrew Jackson Instructs His Secretary of the Treasury to Select Someone to Serve as Collector of the Port of New London

He washes his hands of the apparently contentious matter, telling the Secretary the subject is for “your consideration & decision.”

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Alexander Hamilton’s plan to fund the federal government relied for revenue on the collection of customs duties at major ports around the country. The position of Collector – supervisor of incoming revenues – at each port was thus of major importance, and notable men generally received the appointments in the early years...

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President Andrew Jackson Instructs His Secretary of the Treasury to Select Someone to Serve as Collector of the Port of New London

He washes his hands of the apparently contentious matter, telling the Secretary the subject is for “your consideration & decision.”

Alexander Hamilton’s plan to fund the federal government relied for revenue on the collection of customs duties at major ports around the country. The position of Collector – supervisor of incoming revenues – at each port was thus of major importance, and notable men generally received the appointments in the early years of the republic. General Jedidiah Huntington, for example, was named Collector of the Port of New London in Connecticut. And as the posts were powerful and remunerative, there was intense jockeying for them by applicants, as well as by those wanting a friendly voice installed as Collector for their local port.

The Eldridge family was prominent in early New London, and the Eldridge spoken of in the following letter was likely merchant William Eldridge, who as a merchant would have need of a friend in the New London customs house. Captain Richard Law had been Collector at that port for eight years, but as an appointee of the other party he was to be replaced by someone chosen by the incoming Jackson administration.

Andrew Jackson’s first Secretary of the Treasury was Samuel D. Ingham, and Eldridge approached him to lobby for a candidate to take Law’s place. The Treasury Department is located at 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue. During Jackson’s presidency, at the corner of 12th street and Pennsylvania was David Appler’s Tavern. It seems that mail addressed to Ingham on the subject of this collector’s post was mis-delivered to Appler’s Tavern, and those days being rather informal, Appler simply went over to see President Jackson to ask him to have the letters redelivered to their proper recipient.

Autograph letter signed, as President, Washington, September 26, 1829, to Secretary of the Treasury Ingham, washing his hands of the appointment and instructing Ingham to select someone for him to appoint. “The enclosed letters have been presented to me by Mr. David Appler, although to your address, in accordance to the request of Mr. Eldridge, who waited upon you the other day on the subject of the collector of the Port of New London in Connecticut. Mr. Eldridge referred to Mr. Hill for further information. I refer this subject to your consideration & decision.” The integral address leaf in Jackson’s hand is still present; the other letters he mentions are not.

Ingoldsby W. Crawford was appointed Collector of New London by Jackson, and he held the post for eight years. Whether he was Eldridge’s man or not is not known.

This is a fine ALS of Jackson as President, one that has been in a private collection for many years.

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