beginning in 1807 when Lambert was a member of Congress
ending in 1815 when Lambert was in his last year as a U. S. Senator
The original letters can be found in the Emma Finney Welch Collection of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. I have transcribed the letters as Lambert wrote them, which is why there is an absence of commas and periods. My only change is the addition of paragraph breaks to make the letters easier to follow. Check my running glossary of names mentioned by Lambert to see who he’s referring to.
Washington, Feb’y 19th, 1808
I received yours of the 9th Inst. You say I have got my wish, the ground is covered with snow, well then them geese I fear will pull the grass roots out below the spring, where the water melts the snow as fast as it falls, we have had some snow storms here the same time, & a great deal of rainy weather, our ground is all bare the snow don’t lay long here, we have some cold days every now and then, on wednesday it cleard off and just before sun down it looked like may weather & fine and clear, and in the night the wind rise and it blowed up a rain the next morning.
You say you took grand mammy round the neck as soon as you read your letter, you are a fine little girl. You must kiss her again for me, when you have read this.
you try to keep the geese out, you must tell George to try to stop all the places they get through, for they will ruin the meadow
you want to see me, well I assure you I want to see you & all at home, I should like to look out at the window and see how pretty the snow looks on the trees, you got a letter from Billy last week and he was well. I writ one to him a week or so past, I have not got his answer
mamy you say likes her new wheel, and you have got 2 little Lambs. I hope they will take care not to loose any this winter. you must nurs your two old sheep well maybe they will get fat. I am sorry you burnt your finger. I feel glad to hear you are well and all the rest at home. I think they should let you have good paper, but I am in hopes of being at home in 5 or 6 weeks, at farthest I shall tell our folks when to quit writing to me. my love to you and
miss susan Hoppock } you must let Achsah have some John Lambert
I’ve been thinking about the livestock that Lambert describes in his letter. It seems as if the farm he owned was not unlike contemporary farms in Delaware Township, in which there is pasture and cropland, and a relatively small number of animals. Something manageable for an eastern farm, where large acreage is not available as it is in the West.
George. It does not seem likely that this would be the George Wilson who owned a farm near Lambert’s. But who it is, I do not yet know.
Billy. Susan’s brother William L. Hoppock, who is now 16 years old. Clearly he is not in Amwell at this time, but where he has gone I cannot say.
Achsah. Probably Achsah Dennis, Susan’s cousin, who is 13 years old. Susan is 10.
Susan Hoppock’s letter, written on Feb. 9th, got to John Lambert ten days later, at the most. So, he would have to notify his family about ten days before departing for New Jersey. Since the next letter in the series is dated 30 December 1808, we cannot know when Lambert was able to return home.
A lot happened in 1808 between Feb. 9 and Dec. 30. This was a big political year—both Congressional and Presidential elections took place, and John Lambert was in the thick of it. In order to understand what happened in New Jersey, one must learn about the convoluted practice of electing public officials at that time. And sources of information are frustratingly scarce. This post would have been published a week ago if I weren’t busy trying to figure all this out. Since I expect to be without electricity next week (thank you, Sandy), I decided to published the letter today, and do a little more research. Why? because in the Joint Meeting of the newly-elected State Legislature in November 1808, John Lambert was elected to the U. S. Senate.