Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Ephraim Ramsay, 2 May 1801

From Ephraim Ramsay

Charleston May 2d. 1801.


Altho I have not the honor of being personally known to you, yet, I trust, the friendly motive of serving a very honorable and deserving gentleman will justify the liberty I take in troubling you with this letter. Colonel Alexander Moultrie, who was formerly the attorney general of this State, & who is the brother of the gallant General Moultrie, has suffered much persecution by his zealous attachment to the honest principle of 1775, which in this City are much out of date: Judge Bee’s not accepting the appointment of circuit Judge leaves that office vacant, &, if no other gentleman has been thought of to fill it, the appointment of Colonel Moultrie will be vastly gratifying to your friends in this State—by his friends, & by the good old General, it will be received with profound respect & gratitude. Should the office of Judge be supplied before this reaches you, I take the liberty of mentioning Colo Moultrie as well qualified to discharge the duties of a custom House, & if the Collector of this port is to be removed I know no gentleman whose claims are stronger to the office than Colonel Moultrie. If the Marshall of this district, Mr Cochran, is to be removed, as it is generally supposed, he is so intollerant & indiscreet a youth; the appointment of Major Charles Goodwyn, of Silver Bluff, in Barnewell District, would be highly gratifying to the republicans throughout the state, & to the gentlemen of the bar particularly so. Major Goodwyn is a sound lawyer, & will make a most efficient active officer. When the legislature of this State did me the honor, two years ago, of electing me to a seat on the Bench of the Supreme Court, Majr Goodwyn was with myself in nomination, & within four votes of obtaining his election. Knowing how precious your time is, Sir, I will only add my wishes, my very sincere wishes, that a life so valuable as yours is to the liberties of America may long be preserved. With the highest consideration I have the honor to be Sir

Your most devoted Servant

Ephraim Ramsay

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); addressed: “Thomas Jefferson President of the United States Monticello Virginia”; endorsed by TJ as received 15 May and so recorded in SJL; also endorsed by TJ: “Moultrie to be judge of Circuit vice Bee. or Collector vice Symonds. Goodwyn to be Marshal vice Cockran.”

Ephraim Ramsay (ca. 1766–1801), a planter from Edgefield District, served in the South Carolina General Assembly from 1792 to 1797 and was a business partner of Charles Goodwin. In 1799 the state legislature elected Ramsay an associate judge of the Court of General Sessions and Common Pleas (S.C. Biographical Directory, House of Representatives description begins J. S. R Faunt, Walter B. Edgar, N. Louise Bailey, and others, eds., Biographical Directory of the South Carolina House of Representatives, Columbia, S.C., 1974–92 , 5 vols. description ends , 4:465).

Alexander Moultrie, the younger brother of General William Moultrie, served as South Carolina’s attorney general from 1776 until 1792, when he was impeached for embezzling public money and banned from holding public office for seven years (same, 3:515–16).

Collector of this port: James Simons was appointed collector of the port of Charleston in 1797. Despite his Federalist sympathies, he retained the office until 1805 (same, 3:648–50; Prince, Federalists description begins Carl E. Prince, The Federalists and the Origins of the U.S. Civil Service, New York, 1977 description ends , 128–30; 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 , 1:248).

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