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
It has been nine months since Lambert’s last letter to his granddaughter. The last one was shortly before the Ninth Congress adjourned on March 4, 1807. A very unsatisfactory treaty with Great Britain had arrived the day before, but President Jefferson declined to order the Congress to remain in Washington to consider it, for he was too dissatisfied with it to present it to them. So Congress adjourned, and Lambert spent his time back at home tending to his farm and his library, as well as his extensive family, which was increased on July 28, 1807 when his grandson, James Larison, was born.
On June 22, 1807, the U.S. naval frigate Chesapeake was attacked by the British man-of-war Leopard. Three sailors were killed, 18 were wounded. The British boarded the ship and removed four “deserters,” only one of whom was a British subject. The American public was so outraged by this event, which was only one of many incidents of the British practice of impressment, that President Jefferson knew a strong response was required, something short of going to war. His answer was to halt all of America’s foreign trade, believing it would hurt the British more than the Americans.
In December, Jefferson presented The Embargo Act to Congress. It was also meant as a response to a new British policy which blockaded European ports to American ships, and forced Americans to come only to British ports. The bill was passed by Congress on December 22, 1807.
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. I have added some paragraph breaks to make the letters easier to follow.
Washington Dec’br 11th 1807 –
I received your letter, and am glad to see you improve in writing, you say you want to see me, I believe you, I should be glad to see you, and all my friends if I could, I have not been in a good state of health since I have been here, — sometimes I flatter myself I am getting better, I ate very little – you must remember my love to grandmamy, & to mammy, and all the rest of our friends, — no body tells me any thing about sam’l Wilson whether he goes to school or not this winter –
And I suppose you at home, have ate all my fine winter Pares by this time that I took some pains to pick of[f] the trees, so as not to let them bruise by falling and perhaps none of you have once thought, while ateing of them, that poor old grandady had gathered them in with care, where I am there is no pares, and if I get any apples they are ordinary, and I must give a five penny bit for three. –
you must be a good girl, I heard of Billy last night by a letter from Samuel Currie he said he was well on the 5th of this month – and that he was to be up to see you about Christmas
If I live, it is likely I cant come in less than 120 days to see you. It looks like a great distance, but the time will come round. when I hope to see you all once more –
Miss Susanna Hoppock } Jno Lambert
In 1807, John Lambert was 60 years old. His expression, “if I live,” makes one wonder if he might have been ill.
Samuel Wilson. No doubt the Samuel that he has been referring to in previous letters. And almost certainly, the son or grandson of the unknown Daddy Wilson. I do not have a Samuel Wilson who would be the right age, living in Amwell at this time. Lambert wonders if he is going to school, so he must have been born around 1795-1800.
Billie – Wm. L. Hoppock.
Samuel Currie. Samuel Currie/Curry, born in Pennsylvania, was the son of Laughlin Curry and Margaret Barber. The Laughlin Currie family was living for a time near the Barbers on Lambertville-Headquarters Road. Samuel Currie was a nephew of John Lambert’s wife Susannah Barber. He was also the brother of Robert Curry who partnered with Mahlon Cooper to run the mill at Raven Rock. In 1805, Samuel Curry and his brother-in-law Nathaniel Shewell gave a mortgage to the cash-strapped Cooper and Curry. By then, Samuel Curry was living in New Britain, Bucks Co., where he was counted in the census of 1800. By 1850, there was a Samuel Curry, age 81, born about 1769, living at Mt. Pleasant, Washington Co., Pennsylvania, with wife Mary.