Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Joseph Habersham, 23 March 1801

From Joseph Habersham

March 23 1801


Mr John H Barney in a letter to the Comptroller of the Treasury states that he intends to prefer a complaint against the Postmaster General for rejecting his proposals for carrying sundry mails during the last summer. As I was necessarily absent at that time & that business was done by the Assistant Postmaster General he has thought it necessary to state his reasons for rejecting those proposals & has requested me to submit them to your consideration which I have now the honor to do As his letter goes fully into the subject it is only necessary for me to add that on my return I examined the business alluded to, & was fully convinced that it was properly conducted. Should any other charges have been prefered by Mr Barney I have to request the favor of being furnished with a copy that I may have an opportunity of replying to them. I am

J. H.

FC (Lb in DNA: RG 28, LPG); in clerk’s hand; at head of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr. President of the United States.” Recorded in SJL as received 23 Mch. Enclosure not found.

In 1800 John H. Barney moved from Havre de Grace, where he had served as postmaster from 1789 to 1795 and had invested in a stage line from Baltimore to Philadelphia, to the Columbian Inn in Georgetown. He continued his investment in a stage line between Philadelphia and Alexandria with James Bryden of Baltimore. In 1800, Barney submitted a bid to carry the mail between Baltimore and Washington for $200. The contract instead went to William Evans and his partner, who bid $1,400 for the route. In submitting the bids to John Steele, comptroller of the Treasury, the postmaster general noted that Barney had “deceived the public in a former contract & by neglecting his duty was the occasion of much complaint, inconvenience, and disappointment” (RCHS description begins Records of the Columbia Historical Society, 1895–1989 description ends , 50 [1952], 15, 19–23, 39n; Stets, Postmasters, description begins Robert J. Stets, Postmasters & Postoffices of the United States, 1782–1811, Lake Oswego, Oregon, 1994 description ends 138; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends , 17:557). Upon learning that Habersham was to resign, Barney wrote TJ a short letter from Georgetown on 1 Oct. 1801, in which he noted that if “you think me Compitent and deserving, I shall be Happy in the Appointment” (RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR; addressed: “The President of U, S,”; endorsed by TJ as received 1 Oct. and “to be postmaster Genl.” and so recorded in SJL).

Assistant postmaster general: Abraham Bradley, Jr. (ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–61, 38 vols. Bear, Family Letters Edwin M. Betts and James A. Bear, Jr., eds., Family Letters of Thomas Jefferson, Columbia, Mo., 1966 description ends , Finance, 1:813).

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