Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Linn, 24 March 1801

From James Linn

Trenton 24th March 1801


I have been informed that Mr. Kitchel and Mr. Condit of New Jerey have stated to the President the necessity of displacing the Supervisor of that state, and I have reason to believe that friendship has induced them to recommend me for that appointment—

I have also understood that the partiality of some gentlemen hath led them to mention my name for the office of postmaster general—In either case I shall consider myself honored by the attention of government. But if I may be permitted to express a wish on the occasion—A residence at the seat of government would be most agreeable to me—But as private interest ought ever to give way to public good—I am disposed to sacrifice all personal considerations to those of a more general nature—

I am your most Humble Servt.

James Linn

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); at foot of text: “President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 28 Mch. and so recorded in SJL.

James Linn (1750–1821) was born in New Jersey, the son of Alexander Linn, an Irish immigrant who became a prominent judge in Somerset County. A Princeton graduate, Linn studied law and in 1771 married Mary Livingston, daughter of New Jersey Governor William Livingston. Linn served as a major in the militia during the Revolutionary War, practiced law, and was active in state politics. In 1790 he was elected to the state legislature and in 1793 became a leader of the Republican movement in New Jersey. In 1798 he won election to Congress as a Republican from a Federalist district. Viewed as the swing vote in the fivemember New Jersey delegation during the vote for president in the House of Representatives, Linn declared his support for TJ. In June 1801, TJ appointed him supervisor of the revenue for the New Jersey district. As a prominent political organizer in the state, Linn published weekly essays for the Republican cause. His election as secretary of New Jersey in 1805, a position he held until 1820, strengthened his control of the party in the state (Biog. Dir. Cong.; Harrison, Princetonians, 1769–1775, description begins Richard A. Harrison, Princetonians, 1769–1775: A Biographical Dictionary, Princeton, 1980 description ends 28–31).

Aaron Kitchell and John Condit, Republican congressmen from New Jersey, served with Linn in the state legislature in 1793 and were part of the early opposition to the Federalists in the state (Biog. Dir. Cong.; Walter R. Fee, The Transition from Aristocracy to Democracy in New Jersey, 1789–1829 [Somerville, N.J., 1933], 71). On 28 Feb. they wrote TJ noting that complaints against Aaron Dunham, supervisor of the revenue, were circulating in the state. They recommended Linn as a “Suitable person” to fill the office if a change was “thought Expedient” (RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR; in Kitchell’s hand, signed by Kitchell and Condit; at foot of text: “Honle Thomas Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as a letter from John Condit, received 3 Mch., and so recorded in SJL; TJ later added: “Linn Jas.” to the endorsement and canceled Condit’s name).

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