-- In the very month and year that Benjamin Franklin died, and in the second year of Washington's Presidency, a young man by the name of Henry Post came down from Westfield in Connecticut, to New York and entered the counting house of Prior and Company.
These people were friends of Clinton, who during his mayoralty, was in the habit of frequenting their office - a sort of a political rendezvous in those days -- and where in due time, he made Post's acquaintance, This acquaintance soon ripened into an intimacy which only terminated with Clinton's life.
Of that intimacy precious memorials are happily reserved in a most confiding correspondence, covering a period of more than twenty years of Clintons most active service. There was no subject so trifling that Clinton did not solicit Post's advice about it; no end to be served in which he did not invite Post's cooperation. If he wished a public meeting called or a hamper of wine sent to him, a note discounted or a newspaper brought into line, or a public sentiment manufactured for any purpose whatever, Mr. Post - or Colonel Post, as he was familiarly designated - was the ready and efficient friend whom he first took into his counsels. In periods of critical interest he used to write to Post daily; and it is a curious illustration of the absorbing natu re of Clinton's interest in public affairs that in the vast collection of from twelve to fifteen hundred of his letters were found in Mr. Post's possession at his death there were not a dozen which were not devoted mainly, if not exclusively to political concerns. None of these letters have been published nor do they have appeared to be consulted by Clinton's biographers.
----- Clintons letters to Colonel Post, written as they were under the conditions of the most unreserved intimacy and confidence, admit the reader therefore, and for the first time to Clintons most interior life..--- We may be pleased to become better acquainted with the person who was able to inspire so eminent and sagacious a man as Dewitt Clinton with such a Cordial and enduring friendship.
At the conclusion of his clerkship Mr. Post entered into business as a shipping merchant with a Mr. John Russell, under the partnership title of Post and Russell, and shortly after became united in marriage with Mary Minturn, daughter of William Minturn. During the " embargo " under Jefferson's administration Post and Russell was dissolved, and a new firm was formed of which Mr. Post was the head, under the name of Post, Grinell and Minturn. This was the beginning, and Mr. Post deserves to be regarded as the parent of one of the oldest and most distinguished commercial houses in the country, still flourishing under the familiar and honored title of Grinell, Minturn and Co.
Mr. Post was for many years one of the Governors of the New York Hospital, and from 1803 - 1813 was its secretary of the board. He was also a member of the Academy of Fine Arts, of the New York Historical Society, of the Manumission Society and of the Linnaean Society of London.
Colonel Post and his family for many years occupied what is known as the old Franklin House, on Franklin Square, part of which is now covered by one corner of Harper and Brothers. In his Journal, which is preserved, Colonel Post makes an interesting allusion to this classic residence:
" When I arrived, Congress was in session, it was being held at the Federal Hall, Wall Street, and George Washington lived at the Franklin House in Franklin Square, and soon moved it from M'Combs four story double house, Broadway, from which, when Congress moved to Philadelphia, he also went there. I saw George Washington ride out several times, and once walk by E. Priors house, in company with Tobias Lear, the Presidents Secretary, Thomas Jefferson, and Page of Virginia. I little thought then I should be by any course of accidents live in the same Franklin House in which he resided as first President under the new constitution, while putting the government into operation. I even slept with my wife for about ten years in the same room in which slept Washington with his wife, and also the great Dewitt Clinton, who resided in the same house several years, previews to my occupancy. The house was built by Waiter Franklin in the year 1770. He dying in a few years, his daughter (widow of David Bowne, a Quaker speaking Elder) married James Osgood, one of the Commissioners of the Treasury under the old Constitution, who lived in it until Gov. Dewitt Clinton occupied it. The Walton Houses, near Peck Slip, in Pearl Street, were during the Revolution distinguished for size and consideration, and were considered as far up town, and by some called out of the Main City, which was low down." The Franklin House has been thus more minutely described by one of Colonel Post's children: " It was a handsome old house, with its thick walls, richly carved staircase, deep window seats, wainscoted partitions, and open fire places quaintly tiled with blue India china, I remember, in one room, although the house was somewhat modernized when my father went to live in it. The wall paper in the Second Hall was of never failing interest to us children, with its gay pictures of men and women of full size walking in beautiful gardens, sitting by fountains with parasols, or sailing on lakes with guitars and flutes in their hands.
------Colonel Post seems to have been a man of great prudence, and endowed with rare capacities for ascertaining the drift of public opinion. Of both these qualities, Clinton learned the value by experience. He used to sometimes take a playful revenge for the checks which his more impetuous temperament received from his friendly mentor by addressing him as " Colonel Prudence".
The correspondence abounds in expressions of respect for Post's character, energy and sagacity; for as Clinton loved to be reminded of his own strong points, he did not begrudge the same pleasure to others. Thus in one of his letters he writes:
In a word, timidity is the Bohun upas, which prevents out people from getting the complete control at the November election. The least reverse sinks them to the earth. Energy like yours would do everything, and twelve men of your intelligence and decision would save the city. From Harpers New Monthly Magazine - DeWitt Clinton as a Politician by John Bigelow
*""*" This is an exact description of the wall paper that was in Bertha King Benkards house in Oyster Bay. After her death, it was I believe given to either the Metropolitan Museum or the Museum of the City of New York (J.B.J. >
From Harpers New Monthly Magazine - DeWitt Clinton as a Politician by John Bigelow
Post, Henry, Jr., of the house of Post & Russel, mar., on Thurs. to Miss Mary Minturn, dau. of the late William Minturn. (June 14, 1806)