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Lot 41: Jay, John. Autograph Letter Signed, 1 ¼ pages (8 7/8 x 7 3/8 in.; 225 x 187 mm.)Platinum House
December 18, 2012
Calabasas Hills, CA, USALive Auction
41. Jay, John. Autograph Letter Signed, 1 ¼ pages (8 7/8 x 7 3/8 in.; 225 x 187 mm.), “East Hartford, [Connecticut],” 18 June 1792 to his wife, Sally, in New York; integral address leaf with seal tear.
John Jay relays New York gubernatorial race results to his wife and the wrongdoing involved in the election: A few Years more will put us all in the Dust; and it will then be of more Importance to me to have governed myself, than to have governed the State.
In 1792, John Jay was the Federalist candidate for Governor of New York but he was defeated by Democratic-Republican George Clinton. Jay received more votes than Clinton, but on technicalities, the votes of Otsego, Tioga and Clinton counties were disqualified, giving Clinton a slight plurality. The State constitution stated that the cast votes shall be delivered to the secretary of state by the “sheriff or his deputy.” In the case of Otsego county, the sheriff’s term had expired, so that legally, at the time of the election, the office of sheriff was vacant and the votes could not be brought to the State capital. Clinton partisans in the State legislature, the State courts and Federal offices were determined not to accept any argument that this would, in practice, violate the constitutional right to vote of the voters in these counties. Consequently, the votes were disqualified and Jay lost the election despite the fact he had more votes.
Reporting that the majority of electors voted in his favor, Jay writes in full: About an Hour ago I arrived here from Newport, which place I left on Friday last. The last Letters which I have reed. From you, are dated the 2 & 4 of this month. The Expectations they intimate, have not it seems been realized. A Hartford Paper which I have just read mentions the Result of the canvass. After hearing how the Otsego votes were circumstanced, I perceived clearly what the Event would be. The Reflection that the majority of the Electors were for me is a pleasing one. That Injustice has taken place, does not surprize me, and I hope will not affect you very sensibly. The Intelligence found me perfectly prepared for it. Having nothing to reproach myself with in Relation to this Event, it shall neither discompose my Temper, nor postpone my Sleep. A few Years more will put us all in the Dust; and it will then be of more Importance to me to have governed myself, than to have governed the State. The weather is very warm -- towards Evening I shall go the Hartford where I hope to find a Letter from you. In a Letter from Newport I requested you to direct a Letter for me there
Hartford -- Monday Eveng. Peet has returned from the office, without Letters. I fear you did not receive mine from Newport in Season. Tuesday morning. -- I am waiting to have my Horses Shod, and in Expectation that Judge Cushing who is behind will be here this morning. I have concluded to crop from Bennington to Albany and return from thence by water. A Letter directed to me there, if seasonably written will probably meet me there.
An important letter in which Jay relates injustices in the New York gubernatorial election of 1792 and humbly reveals his great strength of character.