Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Abijah Hart, 6 January 1803

From Abijah Hart

New York Jany 6th. 1803


Possessing but little self confidence, it is with great diffidence that I address you, with an offer of my services to the Public.—Some eight or nine years ago, I was solicited to accept a Consulate Office at some important Port among our commercial relations in foreign Countries—my engagements in Commercial pursuits then were such, that self-interest forbade my acceptance—but I have since been unfortunate—the depredations committed by beligerent Powers on our Commerce in 1794 @ 1796 bore heavy on me,* and the sudden peace of 1801 has completed my ruin—I am now disengaged, & have so far overcome my natural modesty, as to solicit an appointment as commercial Agent for the U.S. at some Port which is, or soon may be vacant.

Perhaps it is unfortunate for me, that my particular friends at the seat of Government, are of the “Old Connecticut School”—but they are honest men & I presume will candidly answer any enquiries after my character or ability—I refer to the Honl. Messrs. Hillhouse, Dana, &c.

My Politics are free from prejudices against any Nation, while it ever has been my pride to contribute towards the Independent support of our national Character & Government.

My commercial pursuits having been extended to all Countries, I feel much the Seaman’s friend, as I have known much of his toils & perils.—

Should you think proper to clothe me with a skirt of Presidential favor, my Countrymen may depend on all that vigilence & honest intentions can effect for them, either as an Agent of our Government or as a Citizen of the United States.—

I am with high consideration Your most obedient Humble Servant

Abijah Hart

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); addressed: “Thomas Jefferson. President of the United States Washington per. favor of Dr. Mitchill”; endorsed by TJ as received 10 Jan. and “to be Consul” and so recorded in SJL.

Abijah Hart (1764–1829), a Connecticut-born merchant, had engaged in trade with Portugal as a partner in the New York City firm of Hicks, Vanderbilt & Hart. When his commercial endeavors failed as a result of French spoliations, he sought a government appointment as treasurer of the national mint or as consul, but to no avail. Hart wrote Madison in July 1804, lamenting that he had heard nothing from TJ since his initial inquiry and repeating his request for a foreign commercial agency. He maintained political connections with Connecticut Federalists James Hillhouse and Samuel Dana. In 1808, Hart returned to his paternal roots in New Britain to become a farmer (Hart to James Madison, 30 July 1804, in DNA: RG 59, LAR, endorsed by TJ: “to be Consul at Guadaloupe, Martinique, Palermo or elsewhere”; Washington, Papers, Pres. Ser., 10:297–8; 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–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols. Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols. Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 7:544n).

Authorial notes

[The following note(s) appeared in the margins or otherwise outside the text flow in the original source, and have been moved here for purposes of the digital edition.]

º * In those years I lost three Vessels & Cargoes & many smaller adventures.—From the Abstracts of Custom-House returns, it may be seen that in those years I paid more than $76,000 Import Duties—& since, under the firm of Vanderbilt, Hart & Hicks $28,000. more—
 Were I permitted to name places of preference, I should mention Liverpool, Bordeaux, Lisbon, Madeira, Cadiz, Barcallonia, Marseilles, Naples, Leghorn &c.—Some of these I believe are Vacant—some are represented by Foreigners.—

Index Entries