Jonathan Nicoll Havens, Autograph Letter Signed, March 23, 1798, 4 pages, from Philadelphia and the Fourth Congress of the United States, where he was a Congressman, written to Henry P[acker] Dering, reporting on his return after being confined to his house by an attack of gout for two weeks to “Congress Hall.” Jonathan Nicoll Havens (1758 – 1799) served in the New York Assembly (1786 – 1795) and also served on the New York Constitutional Convention in Poughkeepsie, when the Constitution of the United States was ratified by New York on June 17, 1788. U.S. Representative Havens served in Congress from 1795 – 1799, representing the First District in New York and dying in office at the age of only forty-one (?) years. Letters from him are rare, and letters from Jonathan Nicoll Havens with detailed content about the proceedings in Congress to a federally-appointed constituent are very rare. Henry Packer Dering (1763 – 1822) was the recipient of this remarkable letter. Dering was the Postmaster at Sag Harbor, as well as the first federally appointed Customs Master in 1789, following in his father Thomas Dering’s footsteps, who had collected customs for the Crown.. He was also the Military Storekeeper.
Jonathan Nicoll Havens reports he saw Wolcot [Oliver Wolcott] and reported Dering’s request about a lighthouse. He made a speech in which he compared the American “our Executive Party” to the monarchists in Great Britain: “I could wish that every one might attend to that argument for it is a matter of serious importance to the People of the United States especially when they hear their Members contending on the floor of Congress that they have a right to judge how money shall be spent a matter which would suppose required no proof at all as to my speech first published by Yale who takes notes for Claypoole it contains an argument about the Constitution in it that is intelligible and he told me that Claypoole found fault with him for making the speeches too long, I would not therefore have any concern with about it, but Mr. Gallatin managed with him to write his own speech and I gave him the advantage of printing it in a pamphlet by this means he forced Claypoole to insert it at length, and procured a delay until he could have time to write it out and had therefore only one copy published except that in his Pamphlet he has added some important Notes by way of Appendix — I am sensible that our debate on the foreign intercourse bill will soon become an old subject and be forgotten and that the public attention will soon be drawn to a more important question relative to peace and war which seems near at hand by the conduct of the President and his Party but notwithstanding this I could procure a number of Smith’s containing Gallatin’s speech and my own and some others if you thought and could send them to my Friends, I am only afraid it would only appear to them a matter of authent[ic]ation or vanity – We have had a very serious and solemn deliberation here in order to determine how we shall prevent Mr. Adams and his Party from involving the country in a war with France but I cannot enlarge on that subject at present …”. He hasn’t time to comment on Lyon and Griswold’s affair, but “great blame seems to fall on Dayton.” Condition fine.