From Albert Gallatin
[21 May 1801]
I enclose the two letters I mentioned this morning, and two more recd. from my personal friends by this day’s post. That from Davis himself excepted, the others you will easily perceive were intended only for my perusal. As to Davis himself, supposing a vacancy to take place, I know not a man likely to make a better officer. The only objection is that he has not heretofore moved in a very elevated sphere. Yet, even in that point of view, he is more respectable than some who hold similar appointments—
But this is not intended to press in any manner either his appointment or a removal of Rogers—only to lay the whole subject, so far as my personal knowledge goes, before you—
RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); endorsed by TJ as received 21 May 1801; TJ later canceled “Gallatin” and added “Davis” to the endorsement. Enclosures not identified, but see below.
Letters I mentioned this morning: Gallatin may have enclosed a letter written by John Armstrong from Red Hook, New York, on 7 May, in which the New York senator characterized the appointment of Daniel Ludlow as navy agent as “a bad one” that “has given no small degree of disgust.” Armstrong described Ludlow as an acknowledged Tory during the Revolution and as “a professed monarchist.” Armstrong also noted that the news that Matthew L. Davis had been “mentioned as successor to Fish” when discussing arrangements for New York (see Vol. 33:330, 331–2n) was “so badly received by the most established men of our party, that some other name must be substituted for his.” Armstrong questioned “whether it would not be at once safe and civil to consult Gov. Clinton on this appointment and on that of Collector also?” (Gallatin, Papers description begins Carl E. Prince and Helene E. Fineman, eds., The Papers of Albert Gallatin, microfilm edition in 46 reels, Philadelphia, 1969, and Supplement, Barbara B. Oberg, ed., reels 47–51, Wilmington, Del., 1985 description ends , 4:889; Burr to TJ, 16 Mch. 1801). Gallatin may have shown this communication to TJ before 21 May because the ideas are reflected in TJ’s letter to George Clinton of the 17th.
Gallatin may also have enclosed correspondence from Edward Livingston, which he received upon his return to Washington. As a New York congressman, Livingston had attended the meeting in Washington on New York patronage at which Davis and Theodorus Bailey were both considered for the lucrative post of naval officer. Livingston noted that since his return to New York he had “carefully examined into the duties of the Naval Officer in our Custom house” and found that the position required “a readiness and habit of quick calculation,” which he feared Bailey, “our friend (whose forte is certainly not quick movements either of body or mind), will not be equal to.” Matthew Davis, Livingston observed, would be better suited for the office (Gallatin, Papers description begins Carl E. Prince and Helene E. Fineman, eds., The Papers of Albert Gallatin, microfilm edition in 46 reels, Philadelphia, 1969, and Supplement, Barbara B. Oberg, ed., reels 47–51, Wilmington, Del., 1985 description ends , 4:767; Vol. 33:330, 331–2n).