From Solomon Southwick
Albany, April 11, 1801.
I have received a letter from my friend, Col. Matthew Lyon, informing me of your intention to give me the appointment of Marshal of the District of Albany. Relying on the correctness of Col. Lyon’s information, and wishing to save you the trouble of transmitting a Commission—a Commission which, as coming from a Republican Executive, I should think highly honourable—I inform you, that having lately commenced the study of Law, I am prevented by a rule of Court which applies to Students in general, from pursuing openly any other avocation whatsoever during my term of Clerkship.
I am convinced, Sir, that Mr. John Barber, my brother-in-law, would fill the office of Marshal with propriety. I wish him to have it, even if it should not be lucrative. It would perhaps increase his influence in Society, tend to his advantage as printer of the Albany Register (in which I shall not dissemble that I am privately concerned)—and aid the Republican cause. I can assure you, Sir, that Mr. Barber and myself have made very considerable pecuniary sacrifices in consequence of our attachment to and support of republican principles.
The annexed Certificate of Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, Esq. the Republican Candidate for the office of Lieutenant-Governor of this State, I trust will satisfy you, that my recommendation of Mr. Barber is well founded.
I am, Sir, with sentiments of respect and veneration, founded on eight years attentive observation of your public character, Your obedient Servt.
RC (CSmH); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson, President of the U.S.”; with subjoined certificate in Southwick’s hand, signed by Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, Albany, 11 Apr., recommending John Barber “as a proper person” for the office of marshal at Albany and noting that the appointment would be considered “by those who know him, as the merited reward of integrity and patriotism”; endorsed by TJ as received 6 May and so recorded in SJL with notation “Off.”
Born in Newport, Rhode Island, the son of a newspaper editor, Solomon Southwick (1773–1839) arrived in Albany as a journeyman printer in 1791 and began working at the Albany Register, a newspaper owned by John and Robert Barber. Southwick became John Barber’s partner in 1792, shortly after Robert Barber withdrew from the newspaper. Due to financial constraints, caused partly by persecutions under the Sedition Act, Southwick withdrew from management of the Register in 1800 to study law, but he continued to contribute political essays. He became a prominent Jeffersonian Republican in state and local politics. Upon the death of John Barber in 1808, Southwick assumed ownership of the Albany Register and served as state printer from 1810 until 1814. Participation in a bank scheme and land speculation led to Southwick’s political and financial decline, beginning in 1812. In 1817 he was forced to suspend publication of the Register. Southwick unsuccessfully ran for governor of New York in 1822 as an independent and in 1828 on the Anti-Masonic ticket (ANB; description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends Kline, Burr description begins Mary-Jo Kline, ed., Political Correspondence and Public Papers of Aaron Burr, Princeton, 1983, 2 vols. description ends , 1:564–5).
My brother-in-law: in 1795 Southwick married Jane, sister of John Barber (ANB, description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends 20:396).
TJ had received the semiweekly Albany register at least since 1800. It was one of the newspapers he supported during the crisis of the Republican press under the Sedition Act. In March 1804 he paid $3 for his subscription (see Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, Washington, D.C., 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends No. 587; MB, description begins James A. Bear, Jr., and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, Princeton, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends 2:1123; TJ to James Monroe, 17 July 1802).
Jeremiah Van Rensselaer and John Tayler of Albany also wrote Aaron Burr letters recommending Barber. Burr communicated Tayler’s endorsement to Madison. On 27 July TJ appointed Hermanus H. Wendell marshal for the Albany district (Kline, Burr description begins Mary-Jo Kline, ed., Political Correspondence and Public Papers of Aaron Burr, Princeton, 1983, 2 vols. description ends , 564–6, 571).