Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Benjamin Stoddert, 25 February 1801

From Benjamin Stoddert

Nav Dep 25 Feb 1801


By direction of the President, I have the honor to enclose, for your information, a letter addressed to me by Mr Fitzsimmons, on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce of Philadelphia—and a copy of my answer.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, Sir, Your most obt Servt.

Ben Stoddert

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr. President elect”; endorsed by TJ as received 25 Feb. and so recorded in SJL. FC (Lb in DNA: RG 45, LSP). Enclosures: see below.

On 17 Feb. Thomas FitzSimons, as president of the Philadelphia chamber of commerce, had written to Stoddert complaining about British privateers’ captures of American vessels trading with Spanish colonies in the West Indies. John Marshall forwarded the complaint to British chargé Edward Thornton and also wrote to Rufus King in London. In his answer to FitzSimons on 23 Feb., Stoddert said that the United States had means of protection “in our own hands” and need not depend entirely on the British government. Noting the “impropriety” of undertaking significant initiatives in the closing days of a presidential administration, Stoddert did not dispatch the Portsmouth from Norfolk but did order the ship to be made ready (Tr in DLC; NDQW description begins Dudley W. Knox, ed., Naval Documents Related to the Quasi-War between the United States and France, Naval Operations, Washington, D.C., 1935–38, 7 vols. (cited by years) description ends , Dec. 1800-Dec. 1801, 120, 128; Marshall, Papers description begins Herbert A. Johnson, Charles T. Cullen, Charles F. Hobson, and others, eds., The Papers of John Marshall, Chapel Hill, 1974–2006, 12 vols. description ends , 6:80–5; Philadelphia Aurora, 2 Mch. 1801).

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