Hamilton and the New York Post

Exactly 201 years ago, on November 16, 1801, the first issue of the New York Post was published.  The newspaper was created by Hamilton and some his close political supporters at a time of almost total defeat for Federalists in the national political scene.  Jefferson had been inaugurated as president in March of 1801, and his party had control of both the House and the Senate.  Hamilton had alienated John Adams with the unintended widespread publication of his confidential 1800 pamphlet “The Public Conduct and Character of John Adams.”  Additionally, Adams and Hamilton had taken opposite positions on the decision of whether to elect Thomas Jefferson or Aaron Burr as president, which fell to the House of Representatives.  Believing Aaron Burr to be an unprincipled threat to American society, and believing that Jefferson had at least some sense of personal honor, Hamilton ignored his long-term political disagreements with Jefferson and threw his support behind him.  This decision isolated Hamilton even more from the new Federalist Party. 

In April, Hamilton returned to New York and turned his attention to his law practice and to building up his relationships in New York.  As part of this effort, Hamilton convinced some of his close supporters that they lacked an adequate newspaper to express their political beliefs.  Hamilton selected William Coleman, a noted journalist and Federalist (who had briefly gone into an unprofitable legal partnership with Aaron Burr) to be the editor of the new publication.   Coleman had worked with Hamilton before, and edited a version of the Federalist Papers.  Hamilton circulated a “founders’ list” and raised the money for the first publication of the paper.  The first issue of the paper, most likely created as a collaboration between Hamilton and Coleman, carried this statement: “The design of this paper is to diffuse among the people correct information on all interesting subjects, to inculcate just principles in religion, morals, and politics; and to cultivate a taste for sound literature.”  After Hamilton’s death, Coleman published A collection of the facts and documents, relative to the death of Major General Alexander Hamilton.

For more on Hamilton’s role in the creation of the New York Post, see the 1922 The Evening post: a century of journalism by Allan Nevins.

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