1843: Jefferson Parish Kidder to Maj. Charles G. Eastman

J. P. Kidder in later years
J. P. Kidder in later years

This letter was written by Jefferson Parish Kidder (1814-1883), a lawyer, who represented Baintree in a Constitutional Convention in 1841. He was State’s Attorney for Orange County during the years 1843-7, was a state senator in 1847-8. Kidder left Baintree in 1845 and relocated to West Randolph. In 1857 he removed to St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1865 to the Territory of Dakota.

Kidder wrote the letter to Maj. Charles G. Eastman (1816-1860) — a newspaper editor, writer, poet, and postmaster in Woodstock and Montpelier, Vermont. Charles was the son of Mary Rebecca Gamage (1794-1832) and Benjamin Clement Eastman (1788-1858) of Fryburg, Maine. His father, a watchmaker and Methodist minister, was born in Canterbury, New Hampshire, and died in Concord. Charles Eastman pursued a literary career from an early age. He left home as an 11 year old, eventually attending the University of Vermont where he founded a literary society. After he was expelled from the University for unspecified reasons, he entered the newspaper business. He ran a newspaper, The Lamoille Valley Express, in Johnson, Vermont, from 1838-1839, after which he moved to Woodstock to run The Spirit of the Age. For the bulk of his career, however, he edited the Montpelier newspaper, Vermont Patriot.

Charles Eastman was active in civil life and used the Vermont Patriot and his other newspapers to reflect some of his active support of the Democratic party. He served as state senator for Washington County in 1852 and 1853; was a member of the National Democratic Conventions of 1848 and 1856; and was active in both the Baltimore and Charleston conventions of 1860. Charles Eastman received a commission as major in 1844, and for many years he served as postmaster in Montpelier.

1843 Letter
1843 Letter

Addressed to Maj. C. G. Eastman, Post Master, Woodstock, Vermont

Braintree [Orange County, Vermont]
July 24th 1843

Friend Eastman

It was not possible for me to attend the District Convention in consequence of urgent business, but I perceive that it went well. I congratulate you on the result.

In relation to our Post Master, we hear nothing from the Department yet. What they are thinking of is more than I know.

These case stands in this way. After the P.M. sent on his resignation, they wrote him that the people of Braintree must have a voice in the matter before they could make an appointment. A. D. Lamson, ¹ a clerk in the store where the Post Office was kept, broke open that letter which was directed to Lyman, the Post Master, & saw by the tenor of it what [Abel] Lyman was at. I was then at Chelsea. Lyman immediately informed me of the matter & a petition was made for me signed by the most respectable men in the vicinity, the selectmen, constable, & justices of the peace, &c and quite a number of others all of this town and forwarded on to the department.

The said Lamson got up a petition & went round clandestinely & told who signed his petition that Lyman, the present Post Master, wished him to have the office & no other one wanted it. Consequently he got, as I have been informed, a good many names, but they were persons who live as a general thing the other part of the town in the vicinity of another Post Office and I have been informed & do verily believe that he put on names of persons to quite a number who do not exist — fictitious names. The Post Master wrote a letter after this to the Department stating the facts about Lamson’s petition, & furthermore that Lamson is not a man of sufficient integrity for Post Master which is true to the letter. I would not trust him in any business whatever. He also stated in his letter about his breaking open his letters &c. The fact is, the people do not want him for Post Master & if they could understand the facts in the case, he could not get ten in town to recommend him. He is a corrupt devil & I do not like to be outwitted by him. The strongest & the only reason why any signed his petition (& at the same time they did not know that I wanted it) was that if he was Post Master, the office would be kept in a store & it would be more convenient in consequence of that.

Now you are aware that my office is within two rods of where the coach stops to change horses at the hotel & the store where the Post Office would be kept if Lamson was Post Master is 20 rods. This last fact, the department have not been informed of __ & here is where the case stands. I have asked no friend to write for me, only yourself, Bro. Perrin & our Post Master.

Now does there need any more to be said to the Department? I wrote you in the first place because I knew that you had just been in the line & would know what course to take — and if you think it best to say more to the department, you have the facts in short above, & you can blowup Lamson as hard as you please & you are justified by 9/10 of the people in town. No mistake!

As I have got my neck in, I do not want to be out done. Write again to the department if you think best & take such a course as you think proper & write me by return mail. Everything shall be kept inter nos confidential. When we get through send on your bill & I will cash it.

Yours in haste, — J. P. Kidder

P.S. Our town committee will soon give you an order for papers, although in this town they do not have much effect. We can do better to take the “common people by the hand.” ha. ha.

¹ Azro Darby Lamson (1820-1892) was born in Randolph, Vermont. He married Phylenda Waite (1821-1867) in Braintree, Orange County, Vermont. He then went to Boston to learn the drug business, but was connected therewith for only a short time, after which he turned his attention to the brokerage business and continued successfully therein for twenty-five years in Massachusetts. In 1871 he came to Philadelphia and was thereafter until his death associated with the lumber business of J. W. Gaskill & sons, the senior partner being his father-in-law. “A self-made man, he possessed keen business ability and insight that enabled him readily to discriminate between the essential and non-essential in commercial transactions.”

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