MY DEAR SIR – I now present you with this volume of your father’s writings, containing, also, a brief Memoir of him, and a short sketch of the FAMILY OF CLINTON. I regret that I have not the time and the talent to prepare such a life of DE WITT CLINTON as is required, and which is due to his great abilities and distinguished public services. There are many reasons why such a work would be to me a labor of love. During the long public careers of GEORGE CLINTON and of DE WITT CLINTON, my grandfather and my father were their unwavering personal and political friends. The active agency of GOV. GEORGE CLINTON was greatly instrumental in procuring the release of my grandmother and her children during the war of the revolution. It is a source of gratification to me, that we, of the third generation, have for many years been on terms of personal friendship. The lives of GEORGE and DE WITT CLINTON are yet to be written. The hand of time has already removed much of the rugged surface formed by the party politics of their day. The foundation is ready, and the materials are at hand, and the pen of the faithful and impartial biographer will yet rear noble monuments to their memory.

I am, very truly, your friend,                


New York, March 30, 1849.


NEW YORK, March 31, 1849.


I Cheerfully consent to the publication of the writings of my father, contained in the present volume. It is probable that the public may feel sufficient interest in them to justify the issue of other volumes – in which event I will furnish all the facilities in my power. I think it preferable to supply the materials for his biography, to undertaking the work myself, as I might be liable to the imputation of partiality; and when the ties of consanguinity are so close, the charge would generally seem to be justified.

In our last conversation, you made several inquiries, which I now answer as concisely as possible. In reference to the papers of my relative, GOV. GEORGE CLINTON, I will merely observe that it was my father’s intention to have written his biography, but he was unable to procure the materials for the purpose, as the legal representative of his uncle considered them too valuable to be parted with. This is to be regretted, as GOV. GEORGE CLINTON was not only a prominent soldier during the Revolutionary War, but occupied distinguished offices in civil life for many years. His papers, I understand, are voluminous, but have never been accessible to my father or myself.

There have been several biographical sketches of my father, but only two that have any pretension to the character of a biography. One, an elaborate and well-written Memoir by that eminent physician, Dr. David Hosack, and a small volume written by my friend, Professor Renwick, of Columbia College, for the use of the Common Schools of this State. The latter is necessarily very brief and imperfect, but as far as it goes is creditable to the author.

You ask which is the best portraiture of my father? There have been several. One by Col. Trumbull; a full length, by Catlin; one by Jarvis; and others by distinguished artists. I must not omit to mention an admirable miniature by Rogers, which was painted several years before his death. His friends, however, have adopted Ingham’s portrait as the most faithful. It is certainly a very strong resemblance, although the expression is somewhat stern. The original is in the possession of Mr. Philip Hone, of this city. There have been three copies of it –- one by Mr. Ingham, and two by that accomplished artist, the late Mr. Henry Inman. There have been several busts, one of which is in the Governor’s Room in the City Hall, an admirable work of art, but an imperfect resemblance. One has recently been made for a gentleman of this city by Launitz & Frazee; but the best is probably by Coffee. The original medallion was engraved for Dr. Hosack’s Memoir. There was, also, a cast taken during his life by Browerre, at least one copy of which remains.

The Address before the Alumni of Columbia College, contained in this volume, is now printed for the first time. You will observe by the manuscript that it is written currente calamo, and was not even transcribed. It is a rough draft without revision or emendation. I had some doubts in reference to the publication of the Canal Journal; but upon the whole thought it sufficiently curious to justify me in giving it to the public. It is written in the careless and familiar manner which usually characterizes a diary. It is curious, as presenting a picture of Western New York, in 1810; and will probably be interesting to the inhabitants of the particular localities described. The contrast between the almost western wilderness of New York in 1810, and the western garden of New York in 1849, is a striking commentary on the utility of the system of Internal Improvements, which this State has so successfully adopted. Probably there is no district of country in the whole United States which presents so pleasing a picture of prosperity and happiness, accomplished by the sagacity of the few and the enterprise and intelligence of the whole community.

Having thus briefly responded to all your inquiries, I cannot conclude without assuring you of my esteem and friendship.



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