Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Alexander Boyd, 27 March 1801

From Alexander Boyd

Philadelphia 27th March 1801


As it is Generally Expected that a Change of officers will take place in the Custom house of this port, a large Circile of my friends have encouraged me to apply to your Excellency for the place of naval officer now filled by Genl. William Mc.Pherson—I flatter myself that such Credentials & Recommendations Can be obtained in favour of my public Character & private Life as will Give General Satisfaction—I am a pensylvanian by Birth & I served my Countrys Cause during the whole Revolutionary war—In the year 1789 I was appointed inspector for this port and for Eight years in that office I faithfully Executed the trust Reposed in me—as Soon as party Spirit began to Run high my Known Republican principles Rendered me Odious to the Colletor and Surveyor of the port—and when I Dared to Exercise my Rights openly as a freeman on an important Election in this City I was abruptly Dismissed from office, with no other Reason assigned than that I had Voted for a man Esteemed an Enemy to the Administration—These Circumstances make me the more Bold To Come forward with my presentapplication—

I hope I may be thought worthy of that or Some other office in the Custom house of this port—and that my application will meet with Every attention it deserves I Can Entertain no Doubt—

With the most profound Respect and Esteem I am your Excellencys Most Obt. and most Humbl. Servt.

Alexr. Boyd

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson, presedent o U States”; endorsed by TJ as received 16 Apr. and so recorded in SJL with notation “Off.”

Alexander Boyd was a major in the Pennsylvania militia during the Revolutionary War. A Philadelphia innkeeper, Boyd made his boarding house an unofficial gathering place for Antifederalist members of the Pennsylvania legislature who opposed the calling of a state convention to consider the new federal Constitution (Pennsylvania Gazette, 27 Nov. 1782; John Bach McMaster and Frederick D. Stone, eds., Pennsylvania and the Federal Constitution, 1787–1788 [Philadelphia, 1888], 3, 13, 204).

Ardent Federalists served as officers of the Philadelphia Custom House: Collector George Latimer, Naval Officer William McPherson, and Surveyor William Jackson. Boyd would not receive an appointment from TJ, but the president replaced Latimer with Peter Muhlenberg in 1802 and Jackson with William Bache in 1804. McPherson retained his position until his death in 1813 (Prince, Federalists description begins Carl E. Prince, The Federalists and the Origins of the U.S. Civil Service, New York, 1977 description ends , 85–94; JEP, description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States… to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, D.C., 1828, 3 vols. description ends 1:432, 471; PMHB, description begins Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 1877-Preston, Catalogue Daniel Preston, A Comprehensive Catalogue of the Correspondence and Papers of James Monroe, Westport, Conn., 2001, 2 vols. description ends 5 [1881], 91–2).

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