How would you respond to blackmail?
Soon after I was elected to the government [as President], Callender came on here wishing to be made postmaster at Richmond. I knew him to be totally unfit for it; and however ready I was to aid him with my own charities (and I then gave him fifty dollars). I did not think the public offices confided to me to give away as charities.
Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 1802, 1066
He [J. T. Callender] intimated that he was in possession of things which he could and would make use of in a certain case; that he received the fifty dollars [I gave him], not as a charity but a due, in fact as hush money; that I knew what he expected, viz. a certain office, and more to this effect. Such a misconstruction of my charities puts an end to them forever … He knows nothing of me which I am not willing to declare to the world myself.
Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 1801, 1067|
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
James Callendar was part of the anti-Federalist press in the latter 1790s. To what degree he was recruited / paid / encouraged by Jefferson or simply found his way into the pro-Republican camp is up for debate. Callendar was particularly nasty in his writing and was jailed under President Adams’ Sedition Act. Jefferson considered the $50 he paid Callendar both as charity and recompense for time spent in jail.
When Jefferson became President, Callendar asked for and then demanded a job but was refused. Callendar threatened Jefferson with the release of certain harmful information. Jefferson broke off further contact with Callendar.
In 1802, Callendar made public accusations that Jefferson had kept his slave, Sally Hemings, as his concubine and fathered children by her.Edit
I have reversed the order of the two excerpts above because they seem to be clearer when read this way.
The last line of the second excerpt, the one in 1801, can be seen as Jefferson’s denial of any involvement with Sally Hemings.