Author: Whitman H. Ridgway

ENTRY

Callender, James Thomson (1757 or 1758–1803)

James Thomson Callender was a partisan journalist known for attacking Federalists but also his one-time Republican ally, Thomas Jefferson. Born in Scotland, Callender was a Scottish nationalist who published pamphlets critical of the British government. When a warrant was issued for his arrest, he fled first to Ireland and then, in 1793, to Philadelphia. There he wrote newspaper items critical of the administrations of George Washington and John Adams and a pamphlet that exposed an extramarital affair by Alexander Hamilton. After the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798, Callender, who had moved to Richmond by this time, published another pamphlet critical of President Adams. In the spring of 1800 he was tried and convicted of sedition in Richmond and served nine months in jail. When Jefferson was elected president in 1801, Callender expected to be rewarded with a political position. When he was not, he turned on his former ally, accusing the president of having fathered children by his enslaved servant Sally Hemings. Callender purchased part ownership of the Richmond Recorder newspaper, but quit after quarrels with his coeditor. He accidentally drowned in the James River in 1803.

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