Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Theodorus Bailey and Philip Van Cortlandt, 3 May 1802

From Theodorus Bailey and Philip Van Cortlandt

Capitol, 3d. May 1802.


We take the liberty to recommend the following Gentlemen as suitable persons to be appointed Commissioners of Bankruptcy in and for the District of New york, pursuant to the 14. Section of the late act amending the Judicial System of the United States—vizt. Pierre C. Van Wyck, of the City of New york, and Samuel Hawkins and James Tallmadge Junior, of Poughkeepsie in the County of Dutchess.—All these Gentlemen are in the practice of the Law as Attornies and Counsellors—and we do not hesitate to vouch for the soundness of their morals and republican principles.

We have the honor to be, Sir, with great consideration and respect, your most Obedt. Servants,

Theodorus Bailey
Ph. V. Cortlandt

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); in Bailey’s hand, signed by Bailey and Van Cortlandt; at foot of text: “The President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 3 May and “Commrs. bkrptcy” and so recorded in SJL.

Born in Dutchess County, New York, Theodorus Bailey (1758–1828) began practicing law in Poughkeepsie in 1778 and served with the New York militia during the Revolutionary War. He served as a Republican congressman for three terms and returned to the House of Representatives in late 1801 to fill the vacancy caused by Thomas Tillotson’s resignation. In 1802, he also was a member of the New York State Assembly. Bailey served as a U.S. Senator from 4 Mch. 1803 to 16 Jan. 1804, when he resigned to become the postmaster at New York City, a position he held until his death (Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends ; Vol. 33:330–2). For consideration of the appointment of Bailey, either as supervisor of the revenue or naval officer of New York, see also Vol. 33:627–8; Vol. 34:127–8, 158–9n, 256; Vol. 35:62–3, 332–3, 518–19.

For a previous recommendation made by Van Cortlandt, see Vol. 34:164–5.

LIBERTY TO RECOMMEND: TJ included the three lawyers endorsed by the New York congressmen on his list of recommendations, but they did not receive appointments in June, when TJ named nine New York commissioners. No appointees were from Poughkeepsie (National Intelligencer, 18 June 1802; Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 32 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 8 vols. Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols. Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 3:321, 454–5; Appendix II, List 1).

Three names are recorded, perhaps in Van Cortlandt’s hand, on an undated scrap of paper: “William P. Vanness”; “Doctr. Brown brother in law to VP”; and “Mr. Green.” They are connected by a brace with the notation: “of the City of N.Y. & chreatures of VP.” TJ endorsed the paper: “notice by Bailey & Van Cortlandt” (MS in DNA: RG 59, LAR, 11:370). For connections between William P. Van Ness, Timothy Green, and the vice president, see Vol. 36:81–2, 84–5, 87n, 474, 478n.

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