Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Levi Lincoln, 5 March 1801

To Levi Lincoln

Washington Mar. 5. 1801.


in pursuance of the act of Congress providing that in case of vacancy in the office of Secretary of state the President of the US. may authorize a person to perform the duties of the same, I am to ask the favor of you & hereby authorize you to perform the duties of the Secretary of state until a successor to the office shall be appointed. I have the honor to be Sir

your most obedt. servt

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); at foot of text: “Levi Lincoln esq.”


Levi Lincoln (1749–1820), a Massachusetts lawyer, Harvard graduate, and veteran of the Revolutionary War, became increasingly active in state and national politics and won a congressional seat in 1800 after a bitter contest to replace Dwight Foster. Lincoln resigned this seat when TJ appointed him attorney general and ad interim secretary of state because of the delayed arrival of James Madison to the Federal City. Lincoln attacked the political activities of the clergy in his Letters to the People. By a Farmer (Salem, 1802; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, Washington, D.C., 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends No. 3442). He resigned as attorney general at the end of TJ’s first term and returned to Massachusetts politics, where he was elected to the Governor’s Council, served as lieutenant governor, and became governor in 1808. Upon refusing a nomination by President Madison to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1812, he spent his final years on his Worcester farm (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Malone, Jefferson description begins Dumas Malone, Jefferson and His Time, Boston, 1948–81, 6 vols. description ends , 4:34; Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends ).

Act of congress: see John Marshall to TJ, 2 Mch.

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