Ebenezer Hazard, Postmaster of New York

Ebenezer Hazard was postmaster of New York from October 5, 1775, until about January 1777, when he was appointed surveyor of the (national) Post Office. On November 14, 1776, Postmaster Hazard petitioned the Continental Congress for a salary increase, noting his previous year’s salary was “by no means a compensation for his services” due to the extraordinary costs associated with the war.7 Hazard hoped that his friend, the Reverend John Witherspoon, a member of the Continental Congress, would intercede on his behalf, and wrote to Witherspoon of the financial and physical challenges he faced. The general Hazard refers to is George Washington.

I shall only observe, that the word ‘incidents’ used in our quarterly accounts … certainly can mean nothing more than those incidents which are usual in time of peace; such as office rent, firewood, sealing-wax, etc., and cannot justly be construed to include the extraordinary expenses occasioned by the present war, which could not have been foreseen at the time of the institution of a Post Office by Congress.

… The necessity of keeping the office near Head-Quarters arose from the importance of the General’s despatches, and his being near the centre of the Army, who are almost the only persons for whom letters now come per post. The General has doubtless informed Congress of his different removals. In each of these I have followed him; and I am sorry I have reason to say, that so little attention has been paid to me as a gentleman, or respect shown to the Congress’s commission with which I am honoured, that I have been obliged to follow him on foot. I do not mean even to hint a reflection upon the General, whom I esteem and respect. Furnishing me with a horse did not belong to his department; but those whose business it was have not treated me genteelly. However, lest it should be said that I was unfaithful in my office, and to convince his Excellency of my readiness to oblige him, and serve the publick, I submitted to this indignity, and the fatigue consequent upon it, although it was not my business, as a Postmaster, to follow the Army like a sutler.8

A sutler was a peddler who followed an army and sold to it.