Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from David Hall, 31 May 1802

From David Hall

Lewes May 31st. 1802


At the request of a number of respectable Citizens of the County of Kent in this State, I have the Honor of transmitting to you, an address soliciting the removal of Allen McLane, from the office of Collector of the Customs, for the Port of Wilmington. I know of no Character more obnoxious to the republicans of this State than Mr. McLane, no one who has taken more undue means to crush the republican Interest, and who when one of the Governors privy Council exerted all his influence to dispossess every Republican of the offices they held under this State, a removal of this man from office (if consistent with the plan you have laid down to walk by) would I am convinced be very gratifying to every Republican in the State of Delaware.

I am informed a number of applications have already been made under the supposition that a removal will take place; among the number of respectable characters, the name of Colo. Nehemiah Tilton has been mentioned, having been acquainted with the Colo. for a long time believing that his appointment would be most agreeable to a great majority of the Republicans of this State and knowing him to be well1 qualified to fulfill the duties of that office and entertaining no doubt of his fidelity in the performance of them I have taken the Liberty of recommending him in case of a removal to fill that post.

I must take the Liberty of mentioning one more friend Mr. Abraham Hargis the Keeper of the Light House near this place, he considers himself as not well treated by the superintendant Mr. McPherson who has on repeated applications refused to give any order for the repairs of the foundation of the Light House which is very much decayed, and unless speedily attended to will be attended with great expence. He has been refused the payment of his Salary Mr. McPherson alledging he has not been supplied with money to answer such demands; this I view as a federal trick to cast a Stigma on the present administration—Mr. Hargis some years derived some pecuniary advantage from the superintendance of the purchase of oil and other supplies for the use of the Light House of this he has been deprived and the same has been bestowed on Judge Rodney this Mr. Hargis considers as an act of Injustice as he is under the necessity of performing the greater part of the Duty—

I have the honor to be Sir, Your Excellency’s most obedient and very humble Servant

David Hall

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 5 June and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Delaware Democratic Republicans to TJ, printed at 24 Mch.

Born in Lewes, Sussex County, Delaware, David Hall (1752–1817) received a classical education, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1773. He served in the Revolutionary War, enlisting as a private. In April 1777, he received a commission as colonel. Seriously wounded in the battle of Germantown, Hall returned to Delaware and resumed his law practice. By 1796, he and other Delaware veterans were leading the Republican opposition in the state. Hall served as governor from 1802 to 1805. In 1813, he became a judge of the court of common pleas (Robert Sobel and John Raimo, eds., Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States 1789–1978, 4 vols. [Westport, Conn., 1978], 1:214; John A. Munroe, The Philadelawareans and Other Essays Relating to Delaware [Newark, Del., 2004], 201, 206, 213). For Hall’s victory in the contested gubernatorial election of 1801, see Vol. 35:427–9.

BESTOWED ON JUDGE RODNEY: already in May 1790, lighthouse superintendent William Allibone contracted with Philadelphia merchants to supply oil to the Cape Henlopen lighthouse. Under another contract, Daniel Rodney received $60 per year to transport oil and other necessities to the lighthouse. A Federalist, Rodney served as a judge of the Delaware court of common pleas from 1793 to 1806 (Washington, Papers description begins W. W. Abbot, Dorothy Twohig, Philander D. Chase, Theodore J. Crackel, and others, eds., The Papers of George Washington, Charlottesville, 1983–, 53 vols. description ends , Pres. Ser., 5:421–2; Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends ).

1MS: “will.”

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