William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan
Finding aid for
Finding aid created by
Ebenezer Hazard Letters, 1785-1794
Philip Heslip, November 2009
Ebenezer Hazard letters
Breese, Samuel and Elizabeth Breese
This collection contains letters concerning Ebenezer Hazard during his posts as surveyor general of the Continental Post Office through his involvement with the Insurance Company of North America in Philadelphia. These letters offer insight into Hazard's personal and business dealings and reveal the political climate in which he worked.
The material is in English
William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu
Access and Use
The collection is open for research.
Copyright status is unknown
Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.
Ebenezer Hazard Letters, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
This collection is arranged chronologically.
Ebenezer Hazard was born in Philadelphia in 1744 to Catherine Clarkson and Samuel Hazard. He set up a publishing and bookselling company in New York City in 1770, but left this business in 1775 to become the postmaster general of New York. In 1776, he was promoted to surveyor general of the Continental Post Office and appointed postmaster general by the Continental Congress in 1782, in which capacity he served until 1789. He returned to Philadelphia in 1790, where he co-founded the Insurance Company of North America. In addition to his business dealings, he edited a two-volume history of Philadelphia, from 1792-1794, called Historical Collections (see "Related Collections" for the Clements Library's copy). Between 1800 and his death in 1817, Hazard participated in several local societies and social groups, and found a new career managing bridge and canal operations in and around Philadelphia.
Hazard married Abigail Arthur (1759-1820) in 1783. They had at least four children: Samuel (b. 1784), Elizabeth Breese Hazard (1786-1861), Erskine (1789-1865), and Ebenezer Gordon (born and died 1792).
Collection Scope and Content Note
The Ebenezer Hazard letters consist of 11 letters and 1 legal document of Ebenezer Hazard during his posts as surveyor general of the Continental Post Office through his involvement with the Insurance Company of North America in Philadelphia. These letters offer insight into Hazard's personal and business dealings and reveal the political climate in which he worked.
The first item is an unsigned copied letter to Hazard discussing business matters, likely from Samuel Breese of Shrewsbury, New Jersey (1785). The next 9 letters are from Hazard to Samuel Breese as well as one item addressed to Elizabeth Anderson Breese (1743-1832), the half-sister of Abigail Arthur, Hazard's wife. Hazard's letters are from New York (1785-1788) and Philadelphia (1791-1794). These letters contain detailed descriptions of business and financial dealings, property sales and rentals, and congressional politics. The letters typically conclude with discussion of family health and activities.
Hazard mentioned the challenges of drafting the new Constitution in his letter of August 14, 1788. He wrote, "I wish the new Constitution was set to work. It is said North Carolina has rejected it 176 against 76: -if they have it is the worst Day’s work they ever did." The letter dated December 7, 1788, discusses a conflict at Hazard’s Presbyterian Church in New York, where two factions of the congregation struggled to settle on a minister. Hazard sent the unsuccessful candidate, Jedidiah Morse, to visit Samuel Breese. Morse later married Breese's daughter, Elizabeth Ann. In the letter to Elizabeth Breese, Hazard announced the birth of a son, Ebenezer Gordon Hazard, who died just one month later (September 29, 1792).
The collection contains one legal document, which is a transfer of land from Hazard to Samuel Breese (September 29, 1792).
- Decedents' estates.
- Landlords and tenants.
- New York (N.Y.)--Social life and customs.
- Postal service--United States.
- Presbyterian Church--New York (State)--New York.
- Real property--New York (State)--New York.
- Residential real estate--New York (State)--New York.
- United States Postal Service--Officials and employees.
- United States. Continental Congress.
- United States--Constitution.
- Hazard, Ebenezer, 1744-1817.
- Breese, Samuel, 1737-1800.
- Morse, Jedidiah, 1761-1826.
Additional Descriptive Data
Related material at the Clements Library includes one manuscript letter and two books:
The Force Papers contain a letter from Hazard to Henry Laurens, dated July 11, 1778.
Hazard, Ebenezer. Historical Collections: Consisting of State Papers, and other Authentic Documents. Philadelphia: Printed by T. Dobson, 1792-1794.
Paleske, Charles G. Substance of an Address Intended to be Delivered on the 25th January, 1812, Before the Special Committee of the House of representatives, on the Remonstrance Signed by Ebenezer Hazard, Turner Camac, and Others ... Philadelphia, 1812.
The life of Ebenezer Hazard and his family is well documented in the book:Recollections of Olden Times: Genealogies of the Robinson, Hazard, and Sweet Families of Rhode Island , by Willis P. Hazard. Heritage Books Inc., 1998.