Thomas Jefferson Papers

Gaetano Drago to George Washington, 24 December 1790

Gaetano Drago to George Washington

Genoa, 24 Dec. 1790. He had applied to the Congress for consulship at Genoa. “Several friends of Mr. Peter [i.e., Pierce] Butler a Member of the Congress, who are also mine had made me hope that under his Auspices Corroborated by your Excellencies Authority I could hope to obtain my Intent.” Encloses his petition and hopes to serve “without any view of Interest, your New Rising Republic” because appointment of a representative there would advance its commerce and also “the probability of making a Truce with the Barbary Regencies by means of a Contribution far inferior to the advantages that would accrue from a free Navigation.” Should his appeal be read by “a Person the most Worthy and well deserving of Liberty and the Most Respectable in the Annals of Our Age,” he would regard it as one of the happiest events of his life.

RC (DLC: Washington Papers); addressed: “The Most Illustrious General Washington President of the Most Honorable Congress at Philadelphia”; endorsed by TJ as received 30 June 1791 and so recorded in sjl. Enclosure: Drago’s petition to “The Most Illustrious and Most Honorable Congress,” Genoa, 4 May 1789, applying for appointment as consul “on the encouragement of a Worthy Merchant of Boston” [Richard Codman] and stating: “Our Republick which receives with pleasure the Representatives of all Powers would look with pleasure on a Minister of the New State, the Republican Constitution of which has so much Analogy with its own” (same).

Drago had previously sent a copy of his petition to TJ, whom he met briefly at Genoa in 1787 (Drago to TJ, 4 May and 22 June 1789). Later he sent a copy of the same petition to the American consul at Liverpool, James Maury, having procured an introduction “through some particular friends” at that place. He claimed that Maury promised to sponsor his candidacy, but when nothing happened he again turned to Pierce Butler, despite the warning of the latter and others that his foreign birth interposed an obstacle. Indeed, he presumed there would be some “expense of Office fees … in procuring the Commission, &ca.” and he authorized Butler to disburse such costs to the extent of £50 to £60 sterling and draw on him at Amsterdam for the advance (Drago to Butler, 30 July 1790, DLC: Washington Papers). See also Drago to TJ, 11 Mch. and 13 July 1793. There is no evidence that TJ made any direct response to these persistent appeals.

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