A POST-MASTER GENERAL IN DISGUISE.
BY SOL. SMITH.
On my way to the North, in 1835, in company with several gentlemen of New Orleans, it happened that the stage in which we were passengers, stopped for supper at a small village, situated between the towns of Columbus and Zanesville, on the Cumberland road, in the State of Ohio.
There was a great gathering of militia Captains, Lieutenants, Ensigns, Sergeants, and Corporals, with a considerable sprinkling of privates, all of whom had been exhibiting their patriotism during the day, by marching up and down the road, shouldering arms, carrying arms, presenting arms, and charging bayonets, preparatory to intended hostile operations against the neighboring State of Michigan, the authorities of which and those of the State of Ohio, were at open war—almost—about boundary.
For the purpose of amusement, it had been agreed that the stage-driver should be informed, confidentially, that I was AMOS KENDALL, Post Master General of the United States, travelling in disguise, and assuming the very common name of Smith, in order to discover abuses in the transporting department. With many mysterious hints, and under strict charges of secrecy, Jehu was made acquainted with the awful fact, that he was actually driving the important individual above named. The reins almost fell from his hands ! “ What, Mr. Kindle ! Amos Kindle !” exclaimed the astonished driver—“ it can’t be possible !” “ It is possible,” answered the gentleman who was imparting the information, and who was enjoying an outside seat ; “ and it is his wish to be entirely private, in order to avoid the attentions that would otherwise be lavished upon him.” The driver promised the most inviolable secrecy, and proceeded to curry down his horses.
We had not been long in the Hotel where our supper was being prepared, before it was plainly perceptible that something was going on ; curious glances were thrown into the bar-room where we were sitting—militia officers flitted about or collected into groupes—the landlord and his family began to spruce up ; in brief, it was evident that our secret had been confidentially imparted to half the village. The first demonstration that was made, consisted of an invitation to my friends and myself to accept the use of a private parlor. This being at once agreed to, the landlord ventured to suggest that, if not disagreeable to me, my fellow-citizens of the village would like to pay their respects to me, and take me by the hand.
“ No objection in the world,” said I ; “ let the worthy citizens come in.”
Then followed a scene of the richest kind of fun—but Dickens has described a similar adventure, and I pass on.
Supper was announced. I was placed at the head of the table—the richest viands and preserved fruits were set in profusion before us. We feasted ! and during the operation numerous female heads—or, rather, heads of females—were continually popping in at the windows and open doors, while the piazza was filled with boys of all sizes, who amused themselves by firing off Chinese crackers, sending up young rockets, and shouting “ Hurra for Jackson !— and his cabinet !”
Supper over, we retired to the bar, and demanded our bill of expenses. The landlord smilingly answered, that he was too happy to entertain us without compensation—he felt honored by my sitting at his board, and my friends were equally welcome. After much arguing, I consented to receive his hospitality gratuitously, since he insisted on it, but my friends, I would not consent that they should feast at his expense—oh, no ! They must be allowed to pay for their splendid supper. Well, if I insisted, he would take pay from them—and he did.
“ Could I say two or three words to you in private ?” asked my landlord in a low voice, as he walked by my side towards the coach, which was waiting.
“ By all means,” I replied ; and he led me a little one side, into a dark part of the piazza. After two or three hems ! to clear his throat, the landlord commenced.
“ Whatever others may think of you, sir, I consider you an honest man.”
“ Sir, I feel very much obliged by the favorable estimate you have formed of me.”
“ Yes, sir, let the opposition say what they please, I believe you to be a conscientious individual—I do.”
“ Well, sir, considering this is the first time we have ever met, I must say your liberality is extraordinary ; but I thank you for your good opinion.”
“ Ah, sir, though we have never met, I know you well—we all know you for a most efficient officer, and deserving man.”
“ It is true I am tolerably well known in the Western and Southern country, and, as for my efficiency, I believe I do push ahead about as hard as a man conveniently can.”
“ That you do—all parties must acknowledge it. You have effected many improvements in your department.”
“ Yes, I flatter myself that in the Stage department I have made some improvements.”
“ Your removals have met with general approval in this portion of the country.”
“ Removals ?—Oh yes—I do travel a great deal.”
“ Yes, you do, and to some purpose. Now I wanted to speak to you about our Postmaster here.”
“ Indeed ! Well, what of him ?”
“ Are you not aware that he is a Whig ?”
“ No !—is he ?”
“ Yes, he is—and it is thought by the friends of the Administration here, that he ought to be removed, and a good Democrat appointed.”
“ What is the office worth ?”
“ About $500 a year.”
“ Who would be a proper man for the office ?”
“ Why, I couldn’t exactly say—but if—”
“ Would you accept the appointment ?”
“ Most willingly, if you should think me worthy.”
“ Well, I’ll tell you what you’d better do. Write on to the department—state the matter as you’ve stated it to me, and perhaps—"
“ If you would just make a memorandum it would be sufficient.”
“ My dear sir, don’t depend on any thing that passes between us here—here I am Sol. Smith, as you may see by the way-bill ; but at Washington—you understand”—
“ Yes, I understand. Then I’ll write on to the department ?”
“ Sir, I shall depend on your good offices.”
“ Sir, you may—your supper was excellent, your attentions shall not be forgotten—farewell—write on to the department, by all means.”
 The worthy aspirant to the Postmastership of the village, accompanied me to the coach, carefully turned up the steps when I had entered, and then joined his fellow-citizens in the three loud cheers with which our departure was honored.
St. Louis Reveille.
Source: New York Spirit of the Times 15.49 (31 January 1846): 577. University of Virginia Alderman Library.
Erin Bartels prepared this typescript.
 Original text includes a quotation mark here.
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