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The semester over, he returned to his mother in 1838. In February he was elected president of the Philo Logos Society, which Peter Gansevoort invited to move into Stanwix Hall for no rent. In the Albany Microscope in March, Melville published two polemical letters about issues in vogue in the debating societies. Historians Leon Howard and Hershel Parker suggest the motive behind the letters was a youthful desire to have his rhetorical skills publicly recognized. In May, the Melvilles moved to a rented house in Lansingburgh, almost 12 miles north of Albany. Nothing is known about what Melville did or where he went for several months after he finished teaching at Sikes. On November 12, five days after arriving in Lansingburgh, Melville paid for a term at Lansingburgh Academy to study surveying and engineering. In an April 1839 letter recommending Herman for a job in the Engineer Department of the Erie Canal, Peter Gansevoort says his nephew “possesses the ambition to make himself useful in a business which he desires to make his profession,” but no job resulted.