"I must plead guilty to the charge of abbreviating the official breath of more than one of these venerable servants of the republic"
An unceremonious ejection from office
Public DomainAn unceremonious ejection from office - Credit: Olaf E. Caskin

During his tenure at the custom house, Hawthorne was responsible for laying off two inspectors he felt to be incompetent. One of these was William Webb, a renowned former sea captain who was forced into retirement at the august age of 81. Hawthorne’s rather callous attitude does not seem to have been diluted by the fact that Webb was a relative of his, being his father’s cousin. He died in 1848, aged 83.


The second Inspector Hawthorne sacked was Henry Prince, another former sea captain who had commanded vessels for Salem’s prominent merchants, including Elias Hasket Derby. When Hawthorne took up office, he was 82 years old and his health was beginning to fail. He died just five months after having been relieved of his duties.