Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Deborah Stewart, 10 April 1802

From Deborah Stewart

Philadelphia April 10th. 1802


While your attention is directed to so many, and such important Public objects, I feel considerable reluctance in claiming a share of it for the family of Gen: Stewart, which was known to you, and which I flatter myself you have not entirely forgotten. Permit me however with perfect reliance on your benevolence and politeness, to solicit your Patronage for the eldest son of that family; who is entering into life, with a charecter and talents that reflect honor on his Father’s memory, while they promise to his Mother and several brothers and sisters that support and protection, which an unexpected change in thier fortunes, has rendered almost the only remaining source of consolation and hope. I will not encroach further on your time sir, with the feelings that arise out of this subject; but I have confided to Gen: Smith the task of presenting to you a letter from my son to me, in which his views and wishes are explained: I pray you to receive and countenance his application. It is in my power to furnish the most respectable testimonials of his worth and diligence: independant of a Parents praise; and be assured that while you confer on me, the highest obligation, I can receive, you will awaken in his mind the warmest sentiments of gratitude. I shall be happy to be honored with an expression of your disposition on this occasion, either through Gen Smith, or in any other way that you may think proper.

I pray you to accept the assurances of my best wishes for your health and happiness, and to believe that I am your sincere frend and obdt. sev:

D Stewart.

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); endorsed by TJ as received from Mrs. Stewart on 14 Apr. and “William Stewart her son, to be Consul at Smyrna” and so recorded in SJL.

In 1781, Blair McClenachan’s daughter Deborah (1763–1823) married Walter Stewart, a native of Ireland who served in the Pennsylvania Continental Line during the Revolutionary War and retired as a brevet brigadier general. Her husband was a prominent merchant, member of the state militia, inspector of the revenue, and surveyor of customs for Philadelphia prior to his death in 1796 (PMHB description begins Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 1877– description ends , 47 [1923], 275; APS, Transactions, new ser., 42, pt. 1 [1952], 202, 299; Philadelphia Minerva, 18 June 1796).

ELDEST SON: born in 1781, William Stewart was one of eight children and a godson of George Washington. He received an appointment as the first U.S. consul at the Turkish port of Smyrna with a commission signed by TJ and dated 3 May 1802 (FC in Lb in DNA: RG 59, PTCC; 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 , 1:422, 423; PMHB description begins Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 1877– description ends , 22 [1898], 381–2).

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