Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Jones Waldo, 21 September 1802

From John Jones Waldo

Boston Septr 21st 1802


By the recommendation of Messrs Livingston, Barlow & Skipwith, I presume to address you upon the Subject of the Consulship of Marseilles now become vacant in Consequence of the French Government refusing to accredit French Citizens as Commercial Agents for Foreign powers—I rest my pretensions upon the testimony of those Gentlemen, as I can Say but little in my own favor except that I have been the victim of my attachment to the French revolution, having made a large Contract with the French Minister in this Country in the Year 1795, which is unpaid to this day—

Should you Sir do me the Honor to appoint me to that Office I shall exert my utmost to merit your & my Country’s approbation & Shall ever Strenuously Support that Government whose interests I should Represent: I herewith inclose two letters from Messrs Barlow & Skipwith & remain with Sentiments of respect Your Mt Obedt Servt

John J. Waldo

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); endorsed by TJ as received 5 Oct. and “to be Consul at Marseilles” and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) Joel Barlow to TJ, 29 July, recorded in SJL as received from Paris on 5 Oct., but not found. (2) Fulwar Skipwith to TJ, 30 July, from Paris, stating: “The bearer Mr. Jno. Jones Waldo of Massachusettes is the Gentleman in whose favor Mr. Livingston and myself solicited some time ago the Commercial Agency at Marseilles in consequence of this Government refusing to accredit Mr. Cathalan in that character for reason of his being a french Citizen. Mr. Waldo being on the point of embarking for the U. States, and in the intention of presenting himself to you, I take the liberty of recommending him to your notice as a person of the most amiable mind, of unblemished character, and as a merchant of regular and solid acquirements. And should you deem it fit to confer on him an appointment to any commercial Agency whatever, I beg to add my firm persuasion of his conduct being such as to afford the Public and you intire Satisfaction. I have the honor to remain with constant respect and attatchment, Sir, Your Mo Ob Servant” (RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR; endorsed by TJ as received 5 Oct. and so recorded in SJL).

John Jones Waldo (ca. 1769–1803) graduated from Harvard College in 1787, in the same class as John Quincy Adams and William Cranch. He became involved in transatlantic shipping, initially between Boston and Bristol. In February 1801, John Adams named him commercial agent at Nantes. The Senate confirmed the appointment, but TJ withheld Waldo’s commission, treating the case as one of Adams’s late-term nominations that must be “considered as Null.” In February 1803, Waldo’s financial situation came before the bankruptcy commissioners in Boston. He was bankrupt at the time of his death in Bordeaux in December of that year (Boston Independent Chronicle, 19 July 1787, 24 Mch. 1803; Boston Gazette, 16 Nov. 1789, 14 Feb. 1803, 29 Mch. 1804; Boston Columbian Centinel, 28 May 1791, 9 June 1792, 4 June 1803; Boston New-England Palladium, 3 June 1803; Boston Democrat, 25 Jan. 1804; 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 , 1:381, 385; Vol. 33:173n, 671, 672, 677).

Robert R. LIVINGSTON, writing to Madison on 31 Dec. 1801, and Fulwar SKIPWITH, in a letter to TJ in October of that year, both mentioned Waldo’s desire for a commercial agency in France (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , 2:360; Vol. 35:526–7). Waldo had also solicited support from Thomas Sumter, Jr., and Levi Lincoln, who had “a family connection” to Waldo through his wife, Martha Waldo Lincoln (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; Vol. 36:575).

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