Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Robert Smith, 13 July 1801

From Robert Smith

Baltimore July 13. 1801


I have the honor of acknowleging the receipt of your favor of the 9th in which you were pleased to propose to me the department of the Navy. Sincerely do I lament that you have been constrained to turn your attention to a person whose education and habits have not sufficiently prepared him for the various duties of this Office. Unqualified, however, as I may be at the beginning, I am disposed to accept the appointment under the persuasion that the requisite information may be acquired.

If this appointment could be postponed for a few Weeks, it would to me be a great accomodation. You will easily conceive that to arrange my professional engagements will require much time.

Accept assurances of my great respect and high consideration.

Rt Smith

RC (CSmH); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esq.”; endorsed by TJ as received 14 July and so recorded in SJL.

On 15 July, TJ wrote Smith to express the “sincere joy” he felt over his acceptance of the navy secretaryship and to forward his commission. Noting that he and Henry Dearborn, the acting secretary of the navy, would soon depart Washington for extended absences, TJ urged Smith to “come on for a few days, to qualify and take a view of the state of things.” Smith could then return to Baltimore and prepare for his removal to Washington. Such an arrangement, TJ suggested, would “be for the public good, and our own satisfaction” (PrC in DLC; faint; at foot of text: “Robert Smith esq.”).

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