Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Isaac Ledyard, 7 September 1801

From Isaac Ledyard

N York 7th. Septr. 1801


I have been solicited by several respectable gentlemen to avail myself of the very little knowledge which your Excellency can be supposed to retain of me, to recommend Mr. Mathw. L. Davis for the Office of Naval Officer of this port. The respect which I owe to these Gentlemen urges me to trouble your Excellency with this rather unwarrantable Letter—

Mr. Davis is one of those active Citizens, who have been instrumental in the late triumphant Elections of N York. He has very considerable talent, deciciveness of mind, & promptitude of action, & I doubt not would fill the office in question with integrity & ability. His not being known as a mercantile character, & how far that may deduct from his pretentions, will be for your Excellencies consideration

I have the honor to be with the most entire respect Your Excellencies Obedt. & most humble servant

Isaac Ledyard

Health Establishment

Staten Island 7th. Septr. 1801

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); at foot of text: “His Excellency Thos. Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 17 Sep. but recorded in SJL at 18 Sep. and connected by a brace with eight other letters received from New York on that date with notation: “Davis to be Naval officer”; also endorsed by TJ: “Davis.”

Knowledge which your Excellency can be supposed to retain of me: Ledyard, a physician, wrote TJ in March 1798 about the publication of the papers of his cousin, John Ledyard. TJ had earlier given Dr. Ledyard his correspondence with the world traveler. Ledyard also served as a Republican elector in 1800 (Kline, Burr description begins Mary-Jo Kline, ed., Political Correspondence and Public Papers of Aaron Burr, Princeton, 1983, 2 vols. description ends , 1:453–4; Vol. 30:226–7).

On this day Ledyard wrote TJ another short letter, noting that it was the “earnest wish” of the collector (David Gelston) “to have Mr. Davis for his Colleague” and enclosing an oration “that you may know something of the talents of Mr. Davis” (RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR; at foot of text: “His Excellency Thos. Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 18 Sep. and “Davis” and recorded in SJL along with Ledyard’s letter printed above). Ledyard probably enclosed Davis’s Oration, Delivered in St. Paul’s Church, on The Fourth of July, 1800: Being the Twenty-Fourth Anniversary of our Independence; before the General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen, Tammany Society or Columbian Order, and other Associations and Citizens (New York, 1800). 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. 3232.

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