Letters, Travels, Politics and More <br>from Michael Brown Rare Books
In 1797, Alexander Hamilton was forced to publish a pamphlet entitled Observations on Certain Documents... It must have been terribly embarrassing for the great statesman. In it, he admits to carrying on an affair with Maria Reynolds, wife of James Reynolds, who must have been a sleazy individual. On discovering the relationship between Hamilton and his wife, Reynolds used the affair to extract money from Hamilton. When word of these payments got out, charges were made that Hamilton was speculating through Reynolds with public money for personal gain. To explain why he was giving this money to Reynolds, Hamilton was forced to lay bare his personal life. "My real crime, " he writes, "is an enormous connection with his wife for a considerable time, with his privity and connivance." While the 1797 printing was done at Hamilton's behest (and most copies later destroyed by his family), this is an 1800 reprint. In 1800, the printing was no longer for the purpose of salvaging Hamilton's reputation. It was published by his enemies to further embarrass him. Item 74. $275.
Here's another writer's two cents worth from this era. The pamphlet is Truth Will Out! The Foul Charges of the Tories Against the Editor of the Aurora Repelled by Positive Truth and Plain Truth and His Base Calumniators Put to Shame. Price - Two Cents. I'm not sure whether it is necessary to read this pamphlet. The title says it all. It's a defense of publisher Benjamin Franklin Bache, possibly written by him, though this isn't clear. Bache was a newspaper publisher who regularly attacked the administrations of Washington and Adams. Here, Bache is defended against attacks of French influence. From 1798. Item 18. $300.
This wasn't the worst political dispute of 1798. Democratic-Republican Congressman Matthew Lyon of Vermont had evidently said some nasty things about his Federalist colleague from Connecticut, Roger Griswold. At one point, he even spat in Griswold's face. Unable to gather the two-thirds majority necessary to expel Lyon, Griswold felt honor bound to take matters into his own hands. On the morning of February 15, Griswold, cane in hand, approached Lyon and proceeded to beat him with the stick. The surprised Lyon was able to back away from his desk and grab a fireplace tongs. Griswold dropped his cane to seize the tongs, and the two fell to the floor grappling for the weapon. Bystanders momentarily separated them, but Lyon was able to grab the tongs a second time and attack Griswold before the fight was finally broken up. The altercation led to a cartoon broadside called Congressional Pugilists, displaying the embarrassing fracas along with a mocking poem. Item 144 is a third strike (believed to be an 1860 re-strike) of this classic broadside. $650.