Three-page working copy of a petition by citizens from Guilford, Connecticut to the Postmaster General to remove their current postmaster for distributing Coffin Handbills and replace him with a President Jackson supporter. Numerous requestors.

Three-page working copy of a petition by citizens from Guilford, Connecticut to the Postmaster General to remove their current postmaster for distributing Coffin Handbills and replace him with a President Jackson supporter

Guilford, Connecticut: 1829. Unbound. This three-page rubricated document was initiated by the Warden and Burgesses from the “Burough of Gilford” and routed through various supporting officials with endorsements by leading citizens to William T. Barry, the Postmaster of the United States and the only cabinet member not fired by President Jackson during the Petticoat Affair.

The citizens’ complaint is entirely political in nature. Apparently, Guilford was a community of mostly Jackson supporters with an outspoken Anti-Jacksonian incumbent postmaster who outraged the community as described in the petition:

“a large proportion of the inhabitants of this town and Borough, are not satisfied with the present Postmaster. Reuben Elliot who is at this time the incumbent, has held the office from twelve to fifteen years, & during the last Presidential contest, has been a bitter opponent of His Excellency President Jackson, & the warm advocate of Mr Adams – The scurrilous handbills so disgraceful to our country. & so false in their representations of the character, & official conduct of General Jackson, have found an easy introduction to the inhabitants of this vicinity, by means of the post office under his control; & now have been so vile and so false as not to meet with his countenance and support – Nothing said of the General which he could not readily believe and promulgate. Under the circumstances it is hoped, that he will not find favor with those whom he has endeavoured by every means in his power to injure . . . which the President has borne . . . owing to the facility with which handbills have been circulated.”

Of course, the town had a recommendation for a replacement postmaster:

“we would respectfully recommend our fellow citizen, Mr Amos Seward. He was among the first who declared for the election of General Jackson in this vicinity and has been uniformly his advocate and supporter. . .. There is no doubt that he would sustain the office with credit to himself. & give entire satisfaction to the government, & to all the Jackson party in this town and vicinity. . ..”. Very good. Item #009446

Although the outcome is unknown, it is likely that Seward was appointed as a new postmaster, as Jackson was the first president to use wholesale patronage appointments to reward supporters and punish enemies. Postmaster positions were distributed like candy, and in one year alone, over 400 long-serving postmasters with sterling records were dismissed to make room for Jackson’s political allies.

The scurrilous handbills referred to in the petition are, of course, the infamously vile and mostly untrue Coffin Handbills that an anti-Jackson newspaper publisher in Philadelphia distributed to besmirch Jackson’s military record. The first poster featured six named black coffins at the top with text declaring Jackson arbitrarily ordered their execution during the Creek War. Other coffins were also displayed to represent soldiers and American Indians allegedly put to death under Jackson’s hand at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend as well as a vignette of Jackson stabbing a man with his sword cane on a Nashville street.

A nice document related to Jackson’s unprecedented use of patronage to reward supporters and allies.

Price: $250.00

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