Memorandum from Albert Gallatin, with Jefferson’s Reply
[on or after 5 Mch. 1802]
This recommendation appears unexceptionable—Mr Macon says that there is no one in that part of the country on whom greater reliance may be placed than Mr. Spaight. Mr Stone who lives nearer to, though not in the district, is absent
[Reply by TJ:]
not one of the recommendations say a word about mr Cheney’s politics, an omission which, in applications to this administration, I have observed to be almost invariably a proof of federalism. we must enquire into this circumstance.
MS (DNA: RG 59, LAR, 2:0158–9); undated, but see below; on a scrap of paper, with TJ’s reply and Gallatin’s comment on verso.
Richard Dobbs SPAIGHT, the former North Carolina governor and Republican congressman, wrote Gallatin from New Bern on 14 Feb., recommending Benjamin Cheney as a proper person to fill the vacancy caused by the death of John Easton, who had served as surveyor of the port of Beaufort, North Carolina, in the New Bern district, since 1790. Cheney was already serving as an inspector of the port discharging the duties “to the Satisfaction of those under whom he has acted.” Several years earlier, he had “done the business for Colonel Easton.” On the same day, Spaight also wrote North Carolina Senator Jesse Franklin, requesting that he solicit “the Cabinet” in favor of his friend Cheney, who was “a Man of an unexceptionable character, a good & attentive officer, and one Generally respected in the County in Which he lives.” Franklin was asked to show Spaight’s letter to David STONE, the other Senator from North Carolina, and to inform Congressman Nathaniel Macon of his wishes. On 5 Mch., Franklin sent Spaight’s letter on to Gallatin, noting “I presume you are acquainted with Colo Spaight, whose recommendation I think intitled to great respect” (RCs in DNA: RG 59, LAR, all endorsed by TJ; 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 , 1:37, 39; Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends ).
On 15 Feb., Francis Hawks, collector at the district of New Bern, wrote Gallatin that he had appointed Cheney to fill the vacancy until the president could appoint a successor. Hawks described Cheney as a person “of integrity and diligence and fully Capable of the business” who was “worthy of the Presidents confidence,” having served for many years as an “officer in the Revenue Service” (RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR, endorsed by TJ; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Miscellaneous, 1:276, 287). Cheney himself wrote the Treasury secretary on 15 Feb., acknowledging his “Temporary appointment” and offering himself as a candidate for the office; recommendations were being sent on his behalf, which he hoped Gallatin would show the president (RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR; endorsed by TJ: “Cheney Benj. to mr Gallatin. to be Surveyor of the port & Collector of the district} of Beaufort N.C.”; TJ then canceled “& Collector of the district”). On 16 Feb., John Daves, the former collector at New Bern, wrote John Steele, the U.S. comptroller, recommending Cheney. Finally, North Carolina congressman John Stanly wrote Gallatin on 3 Mch., asking him to tell the president that his long acquaintance with Cheney gave him confidence in his “Integrity & Ability” and worthiness for the appointment. No appointment to that office would be more acceptable to the citizens of the district (both RCs in same, endorsed by TJ; Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends ).
NO OTHER APPLICANT: on 15 Mch., Stanly again wrote Gallatin and enclosed a letter, dated 17 Feb., addressed to the Treasury secretary from 15 merchants at Beaufort recommending Brian Hellen. The merchants reported that age and infirmities had for several years rendered Easton unable to attend to his duties and he had chosen Hellen “to act as a Deputy in his behalf.” They described Hellen as “a plain honest man” with a “ready turn for business,” and Stanly testified that Hellen possessed “Integrity & ability” (RC and enclosure in DNA: RG 59, LAR; endorsed by TJ). TJ submitted Cheney’s nomination to the Senate on 27 Apr. (see TJ to the Senate, at that date).